No related posts. The Environmental Secretariat of the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) dismissed a complaint filed by Costa Rican conservation group Marine Turtle Restoration Program (Pretoma), accusing the country of failing to protect sea turtles.Luis Dobles, president of the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute, made the announcement on Thursday.Pretoma’s complaint, filed last year, argued that Costa Rica was failing to “effectively enforce its environmental law, breaching the regulation requiring the use of Turtle Excluder Devices by the shrimp trawling fleet and failing to define the permitted areas for this practice.”Dobles called the Pretoma claim false and said Costa Rica would avoid paying a $15 million fine. He also said it is the second time a Pretoma complaint has been rejected, adding that the Costa Rican government is not contemplating any counterclaim against the organization for damages.Randall Arauz, president of Pretoma, told Channel 7 Telenoticias the group plans to file a new complaint on Friday.Incopesca is still facing other complaints before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court aimed at prohibiting trawling by fishing fleets in Costa Rican waters. Facebook Comments
No related posts. A Costa Rican criminal court on Monday acquitted U.S. citizen Anne Marie Patton on charges of murdering her husband, John Felix Bender. The court said reasonable doubt existed about the cause of Bender’s death.The trial began on Jan. 14 in the Southern Zone canton of Pérez Zeledón. Prosecutors alleged Patton had murdered her husband in order to steal millions of dollars worth of fine jewels.Bender was found shot in the head on Jan. 8, 2010, at the couple’s luxury home south of Costa Rica’s capital.Patton, 42, maintained throughout the trial that her husband committed suicide because he had bipolar disorder and suffered constant episodes of depression. She said he was treated several times in the U.S.During closing arguments, prosecutor Fernando Oses refuted Patton’s version of events, pointing to testimony by a handful of experts and crime scene investigators.He said that “with the position in which the body was found, and the path and the trajectory of the bullet, it was impossible for the victim to shoot himself.”Investigators found no trace of gunpowder residue, neither on Bender nor on Patton.Prosecutors had requested a 25-years prison sentence for Patton. Facebook Comments
The poster of David Gimelfarb that’s offering a $100,000 award for anyone that helps find him. Roma said OIJ agents suspect the call may have been made from inside a prison in Costa Rica. According to a records search by The Tico Times of the phone numbers and email addresses of the perpetrators, the phone’s owner is an 18-year-old man living in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste.Whoever made the calls also threatened a translator hired by the Gimelfarbs. In an attempt to speak with Roma and Luda, the caller reached their translator and demanded access to the Gimelfarbs. The caller then noted the location of the school the translator’s young daughter attends.The sinister calls are only the latest in a long line of reported sightings and tips, all of which have amounted to nothing. A farmer near Rincón de la Vieja reported seeing David, while others reported seeing him at a brothel in Liberia, the provincial capital of Guanacaste. At a gas station in Limón, a family reported taking in a disheveled mute man who matched David’s description. They took the man to a police checkpoint, where he was briefly questioned and released before his identity could be confirmed.On recent trips, someone reported that a homeless man in the central Pacific town of Quepos might be David. Roma soon found the man, and it was not his son.The Gimelfarbs have spent more than $300,000 on the search, according to “The Last Hike of David Gimelfarb,” a long-form story published in Chicago Magazine by writer Dave Seminara. They have hired private investigators, conducted dog searches and prodded their hometown police, the OIJ, the U.S. Embassy in San José, and the FBI. They have even consulted several psychics, but nothing has helped, and in many cases, people offering helped appeared only to take advantage of the Gimelfarbs’ desperation.At the end of August and exhausted from the latest debacle, the Gimelfarbs once again returned to Chicago. “We can do a lot more here than we can do down there,” Roma said.The Gimelfarbs also are looking beyond the case of their son to set up a foundation to assist families who end up in similar situations. Roma said the inspiration came after meeting many other families whose loved ones disappeared while traveling abroad.“[The foundation] is to provide direct help to people to start the search, right away,” Roma said. “It would help them coordinate with the embassy, with qualified people, and with a bunch of others.”In addition to assistance, the Gimelfarbs believe the foundation could help prevent disappearances. They want to create a safety rating system for parks, travel regions and specific tourist attractions. They want hikers to be able to rent devices like GPS systems to help them avoid getting lost.But most of all, they just want to know what happened to David.The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica encourages U.S. citizens traveling here to enroll in its Smart Traveler Program, which registers your trip with the embassy (in case the embassy needs to issue an emergency statement). Read more about the program here. Also, the embassy offers Country Background Sheets with information on traveling in Costa Rica: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1093.html Facebook Comments A Chicago couple’s latest attempt to find their missing son in Costa Rica instead turned up a caller demanding a $250,000 ransom – a disturbing but thus far unhelpful new chapter in the four-year search.Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) has been investigating the disappearance of David Gimelfarb, who would be 32, since he went missing on Aug. 11, 2009, the day he was seen entering Rincón de la Vieja National Park in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.His rental car was found at the park entrance, his belongings at a nearby hotel. Despite a widespread and longstanding search involving the Costa Rican Red Cross, U.S. military helicopters, and even a U.S. congressman, no solid evidence of David’s whereabouts has emerged.Although OIJ spokesman Marco Monge told The Tico Times the agency has not received recordings of the extortion attempts – made by the Gimelfarbs during several phone conversations with the alleged perpetrators – and therefore has not opened an official investigation, the Gimelfarbs, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica and a Chicago-area police spokesman all told The Tico Times they have been in contact with the OIJ about an ongoing investigation into the extortion attempt.It is unclear why the OIJ spokesman repeatedly has contradicted information from several other sources regarding the latest series of events in the David Gimelfarb case.The fiasco began on Roma and Luda Gimelfarb’s yearly trip to Costa Rica – a ritual they conduct on the anniversary of their son’s disappearance. This year’s trip spanned 1,370 kilometers (850 miles) across Costa Rica, beginning at San José’s Juan Santamaría International Airport. The couple traveled to the site of David’s disappearance in Rincón de la Vieja, and then they trekked down the Pacific coast to Quepos, Dominical and eventually the Panamanian border. They returned to San José, before journeying to the Caribbean side, visiting Limón and then the Panamanian border.On this trip and those that came before, the Gimelfarbs pursued every lead that surfaced, and there have been several since 2011, when they began offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to David’s location.In late August, just before the couple was preparing to return to Chicago, Roma received a call from a Costa Rican cellphone. The caller said he was in touch with people who had abducted David. “They can send you a picture of your son, you know, with the newspaper,” the caller said. “You know, with today’s newspaper.”Soon after, the Gimelfarbs received by email a dark photo of a man holding the current edition of the daily Costa Rican newspaper La Teja. According to Roma’s description of the photo, the pictured man was lying on a bed and was wearing a long-sleeve shirt. He had dark hair – darker than David’s – and a slight amount of facial hair. Roma said it was impossible to know if it was his son.The caller said he wanted $100,000 up front and $150,000 at a later date for David’s return. He said heavily armed men were holding David on a farm north of the capital, and Roma and Luda should come alone, without the cops. They said David had become involved with drug traffickers and stolen drugs. The kidnapping, they said, was payback.“Because it [the photo] was so dark, my first reaction was, ‘I don’t think that’s my son.’ But later I thought that could be him,” Luda told The Tico Times.Roma said his reaction was different. “I looked and thought it could be David,” Roma said. “He looked drugged. My feeling was it could possibly be him.”Since posting the $100,000 reward, the Gimelfarbs have received several calls from people claiming to have information about David. When asked for proof, though, the callers are never able to provide it. The incident last August was the first time anyone followed a call with apparent photographic evidence.The Gimelfarbs said they provided the recorded phone calls to the OIJ while in Costa Rica, as well as to police in their hometown near Chicago, in the United States. According to Roma, OIJ investigators are developing a suspect list, based on the photo and on names obtained from cellphone and email records.A Tico Times reporter and editor also listened to the recordings in late August. No related posts.
Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega wants to open up a dialogue with Laura Chinchilla’s successor as president of Costa Rica, according to Nicaraguan analysts in areport by the news agency EFE.Ortega made gestures this week signaling that he wishes to improve the contentious relationship between the two Central American neighbors, once Costa Rica elects its next president on April 6. Johnny Araya, of Chinchilla’s National Liberation Party, will take on Luis Guillermo Solís, of the center-left Citizens Action Party in a runoff.Chinchilla’s last day in office will be May 8, and Ortega will be pleased to see her go. During Chinchilla’s four years in office, the presidential counterparts have maintained a theatrically adverse relationship. Some of the disputes arose over alleged aggressions from Nicaragua toward Costa Rica. Those allegations are now being tried in an International Court of Justice. Other issues – like the idea that Nicaragua might invade Guanacaste – seem to be more about chest-thumping and braggadocio from both sides.Chinchilla announced last week that Costa Rica plans to take Nicaragua once more to the world court before her term ends. In this case, the complaint comes after Managua allegedly offered maritime territories in Costa Rican waters to international oil companies for concessions.“They talk of dialogue and brotherhood, but in reality, on the ground, they continue being hostile, aggressive and arrogant,” Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo said, referring to Costa Rica’s decision to file another case against Nicaragua.Neither Solís nor Araya wants to appear weak before Ortega’s swaggering up north, but they face a tough dilemma since the Nicaraguan president likely won’t be going away for some time.They might need to search for ways to compromise with Ortega, whose rule seems to grow more authoritarian each year. The Sandinista revolutionary became president in 2007, and his government continues to tinker with the constitution to allow Ortega to keep running for president. On Monday, constitutional reforms take effect that remove presidential term limits, opening the door for Ortega to become president for life.According to the analysts in the EFE article, Ortega wants to present a vision of a more united Central America. He desires to form bilateral agreements with neighbors, Costa Rica and Panama. For that to happen, Ortega will need a Costa Rican president who’s willing to play ball with him. Could that be Solís or Araya? Ortega hopes he’ll at least have better luck with one of them than he did Chinchilla, and that’s why he’s reaching out now and alluding to extending an olive branch to the eventual winner. Facebook Comments Related posts:Candidate Johnny Araya says he’s willing to meet Nicaragua’s Ortega Nicaragua claims ‘cleaning’ of the Río San Juan follows world court order VIDEO: Costa Rican officials present new evidence of alleged damage to its territory by Nicaraguan workers Nicaragua’s Pastora calls Costa Rica’s latest accusations ‘a bunch of lies’ aimed at boosting President Solís’ image
On Wednesday, ruling National Liberation Party presidential candidate Johnny Arayabowed out of the campaign leading up to an April 6 runoff. In so doing, he became the first presidential candidate in Costa Rica’s history to make it to a second round only to end his campaign before the vote.Early Wednesday afternoon, Araya made the announcement at San José’s Hotel Corobicí. Following is a translation of the speech. Araya did not take questions from reporters.Beyond my aspirations is Costa RicaJohnny Araya Monge Candidate to the Presidency of the Republic National Liberation PartyI would like to thank the citizens who gave the National Liberation Party majority control of the new Legislative Assembly. Equally, I thank the compatriots who, with their votes, honored our presidential ballot. The work of thousands of collaborators made the February 2 results possible. The gratitude of our party, of lawmakers-elect and of me, personally, is immense for all. The Tico TimesAfter traversing the country, I can perceive the sentiment of Costa Ricans, I’ve listened to their reasons, I’ve paid attention to their judgment. I’ve consulted surveys that measure the currents of public opinion. And I’ve confirmed the existence of a desire that inclines more and more toward the replacement of the party of the current administration. The campaign for the second round of voting has become very difficult and full of obstacles. Resources and time are as limited as immense is the work to reverse that trend. For ethical reasons, it is unacceptable to resort to ignoble tactics in a zeal to change political perceptions.Politics, which is the science of reality, has its own logic. Good sense shows that now, more than ever, we ponder the elements of reality and act accordingly. For this reason, and with a firmness in spirit, I make known my decision to end today this campaign for the Presidency of the Republic. Beyond my aspirations is Costa Rica. Prudence advises against spending millions of colones on propaganda, meetings and rallies. We will comply with the constitutional norms that apply, but I will abstain from any electoral activity.Our party, the lawmakers-elect and your humble servant communicate the disposition to participate institutionally in the construction of a National Accord for Production, Equity and Governableness. Without any other consideration than the greater good of Costa Rica, we have decided to support legislation included in the National Accord. It’s necessary to rectify but not replace Costa Rica’s path toward development. The National Accord must be transparent, focus on citizens, and take place under strict vigilance. Beyond the issues of the National Accord, we are prepared to exercise a new, responsible opposition. The historical mission of the National Liberation Party supersedes the battle for the Presidency of the Republic.Since my infancy and youth I’ve been inclined toward public service, inspired by the example of those who came before me. With this spirit of patriotism, I accepted the challenge of taking up the green, white and green banner. I reaffirm my vocation for public service and my intention of continuing in the political arena. The satisfaction of fulfilling a duty is the compensation for two decades of public service that have left their mark. I will dedicate my best efforts to strengthening the National Liberation Party, renovating its social democratic essence. The adverse conditions require us to reposition ourselves in preparation for new battles for Costa Rica. Soon I will travel the country to embrace our directors, who I shouldn’t expose amid a tiring process that could affect the national soul.I confess to you that I can’t find the adequate words to express my deep gratitude for all who opened their hearts to me, who shared their intelligence or their muscle and extended me their hand. May God compensate for such generosity. Upon the conclusion of this process, I share with compatriots my unwavering faith in the future of Costa Rica. Without bitterness or frustration, my heart remains true and serene upon serving my country. May Providence illuminate the new rulers, guide us in the opposition, and always bless Costa Rica.I thank our journalist friends for your understanding during this difficult period that obligates I postpone responding to your questions.This is not goodbye, but rather, so long for now…San José, March 5, 2014. Facebook Comments Related posts:What keeps Johnny Araya awake at night? Ex-President Abel Pacheco to back opposition candidate Solís Johnny Araya’s 5 biggest campaign mistakes A victory for the ages
Related posts:Drug policy in Central America criminalizes poverty, says Costa Rica Public Security Minister Costa Rican police arrest 2 US citizens linked to hydroponic marijuana operation Advocates of drug policy reform have a new voice in Costa Rica: members of law enforcement White people are more likely to deal drugs in the US, but black people are more likely to get arrested for it A study by the Adolescents’ Clinic at the National Children’s Hospital conducted among 3,373 high school students in the Greater Metropolitan Area indicates that the number of marijuana users increased from 1 percent in 1991 to 10 percent in 2006, and to 15 percent last year, according to the Social Security System, or Caja.Clinic director Alberto Morales Bejarano said they are very concerned about the situation as the study also shows that marijuana is perceived in many sectors of society “as natural and harmless, and because most users refuse to acknowledge the physical damage that occurs in young people, whose brain maturation process has not completed.”Data are consistent with the results of another study released earlier this year by the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Institute (IAFA), which reported consumption of marijuana by high school students at 14 percent.IAFA conducts the study every two years in order to measure consumption among schoolchildren, the most common period to start using drugs. Their latest investigation was conducted among 5,508 students in 50 schools in 2012.“It’s worrisome. Many of the respondents said they use marijuana because it is natural and less harmful than tobacco. But the truth is that you cannot talk about recreational use of marijuana before age 25. An adolescent’s brain is not fully developed, and the damage caused at these ages is greater. Brain damage is irreversible in this population,” Morales said.Paula Picado, psychologist at IAFA’s Adolescent Center, agreed with Morales and added that damage to the neurotransmitters in the brain occurs even from the first time a person smokes marijuana.“Studies conducted on teenagers show damage caused by marijuana includes memory loss, lack of concentration and shorter attention spans. It also reduces by up to eight points the intellectual coeficient and affects skills in common tasks such as planning, anticipating, predicting and making decisions. It can trigger panic attacks, anxiety, distress and depression, and there is a proven relationship between the age they start using the drug and the severity of effects suffered, as their brains are not fully developed,” Picado said.Other drugs The Caja’s study also found a slight drop in consumption of other substances including alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs, with alcohol remaining as the favorite substance for abuse among high school students.Active alcohol consumption decreased from 21 percent in 2009 to 20 percent in 2013, and 53 percent of surveyed students reported drinking an alcoholic beverage at least once during their life.More than 60,000 students are actively drinking alcoholic beverages and 53 percent said they abused alcohol during the two weeks prior to the study.Consumption of tobacco among students decreased from 8.95 to 6 percent during the same period, “possibly due to the entering into force of the anti-tobacco law, which prohibits selling to minors and selling of individual cigarettes,” Morales said.In addition, six percent acknowledged consumption of other drugs including pills, synthetic drugs and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Of that number, 11 percent admitted they had experimented with heroin.“We did not get any results for heroin on any of the previous studies, therefore we must pay close attention to this,” Morales said.Caja experts recommend parents and educators help keep students informed, as studies show that if a young person has managed to avoid drug use by age 15, they are more likely to avoid it in later years. Facebook Comments
Related posts:Electricity rates to remain unchanged through December 2015 Electricity rates for ICE customers to increase in October Costa Rica’s industry sector leaders fed up with high electricity rates Regulatory agency drops electricity rates for all distributors in Costa Rica Although the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) confirmed adrop in rainfall levels for the current rainy season, the Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE) has ruled out power outages later this year.A lack of rainfall this season, which runs from May to November, is evident in most of the country. But ICE electricity manager Luis Pacheco said current reservoir levels remain stable and expected rainfall will be enough to keep the reserves filled for use in hydroelectric power generation for the rest of the year.Costa Rica uses up to 800 megawatt-hours daily, and of that amount, 80 percent is generated from renewable sources, such as hydroelectric and eolic (as of December 2012). The remaining 20 percent is generated by using hydrocarbon-powered plants, according to an ICE report published in April of this year. (Read that report in Spanish here: Plan_expansion_generacion.)According to the IMN, changes in precipitation patterns are caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon and affect most of the country. Currently the South Pacific is the only region with normal rainfall levels for the season, the agency said.In the North Pacific, the rainfall deficit this month is 60 percent. That percentage is expected to decrease slightly in August to 50 percent and in September to 40 percent, the IMN said.In the Central Valley, the rainfall deficit this month reached 30 percent and is expected to increase to 50 percent in September. The Central Pacific will see the lowest deficit, currently at 20 percent. IMN forecasts note it will drop to 15 percent in August and 5 percent in September.In contrast, El Niño is causing an unusual increase in precipitation in the Northern and Caribbean regions, where IMN recorded a rainfall increase of 20 percent. That’s likely to reach 30 percent in August.Heavy rains caused flooding in various cantons of the province of Limón last week, where 30 people were evacuated and several homes were affected. El Niño is expected to continue through April 2015, the IMN said.However, a recent increase in rainfall has allowed the Public Services Regulatory Agency on Wednesday to approve a 9 percent decrease in electricity rates for residents of the Northern Zone. Lower rates will take effect after they are published in the official newspaper La Gaceta. Facebook Comments
Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Costa Rica-based airline SANSA inaugurated this week a new route from the Juan Santamaría International Airport outside of San José to the Limón Airport on the Caribbean coast. The airline uses Cessna Grand Caravan 208B airplanes with a capacity of 12 passengers for a 40-minute flight. Prices start at $50 one-way.SANSA will offer five flights per week, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.For more information, visit www.flysansa.com. Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Related posts:Southwest Airlines announces new routes to Costa Rica, Mexico ‘Snowpocalypse’ strands air passengers in Costa Rica United Airlines announces more nonstop flights to Houston and New York during Christmas season JetBlue announces new flight to Costa Rica from Boston starting in November Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Facebook Comments Alberto Font/The Tico Times
Related posts:Activists visiting Washington blast Nicaragua’s $50 billion canal project as ‘illegitimate’ Financial, environmental questions plague Nicaragua canal project A year after work starts, little sign of Nicaragua canal US concerns grow over possible Nicaragua Canal land expropriation, ambassador says “No to the canal,” “Get out, Chinese,” and “Ortega, sell out,” a chorus of demonstrators shouted Wednesday as thousands took to the streets of Managua to protest the construction of a mega-canal that threatens to expropriate land from small holders and damage Lake Cocibolca, the largest freshwater lake in Central America.Demonstrators traveled to the Nicaraguan capital from across the country to denounce the $50 billion project as an environmental disaster and a loss of sovereignty to HK Nicaragua Development, the Chinese corporation running the Great Inter-Oceanic Canal project, which was granted rights over the canal for up to 100 years by President Daniel Ortega in 2013.The 278-kilometer (172 mile) waterway is set to begin construction in Dec. 22, traveling from the mouth of the Brito river on the Pacific Coast, across Lake Cocibolca, and on to the Caribbean.Marchers presented 60,000 signatures to Vilma Núñez, head of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, in hopes of drawing international attention to their concerns, the newspaper La Prensa reported.The canal could have an impact on an estimated 30,000 people living in communities along the proposed route.“We don’t want them to come and stomp all over our land and our rights. How are these families going to survive? How are you going to survive in the city if we can’t produce the food for people to eat?” asked Porfirio García, from the Caribbean town of Nueva Guinea.La Prensa and news magazine Confidencial reported that many organizers were unable to reach the protest in Managua because of police blockades. In the town of Rivas, where previous demonstrations against the canal flared earlier this year, protesters clashed with police and set fires on the road. Inhabitants of El Tule, Río San Juan reported that police blocked streets there as well.Fernando Borge, spokesperson for the National Police, told Confidencial that he was unaware of any police obstructing egress from neighborhoods.President Daniel Ortega has said the project will create enough work to help alleviate the poverty that affects more than half the population of this Central American country, one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. But environmentalists are worried, in particular about the effects of ship traffic on a lake that is along the path of the planned canal.Related: Nicaragua canal survey off to rocky start marked by fear and mistrust Facebook Comments
MEXICO CITY — On top of a hill at the edge of a trash dump, the drug cartel assassins shot dozens of Mexican students and tossed them down the ravine, where their bodies were then burned in a great conflagration until only the smallest charred fragments remained.That has been the Mexican government’s narrative to explain the September disappearance of 43 teachers college students in the state of Guerrero. In a news conference late last month intended to put the mystery to rest, Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam called his version the “historic account of what happened” based on proof “supported by science.”But the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, which has worked alongside the government on the investigation, has now publicly doubted those conclusions and criticized the government’s handling of evidence in a case that has generated months of nationwide protests.“It’s definitely premature to close the case,” said one member of the Argentine team, who spoke here on Saturday evening on the condition of anonymity. “So far, we don’t have physical evidence to support, necessarily, that the students were killed there.”The attorney general’s office could not be reached for comment. Mexico’s Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam speaks during a press conference in Mexico City on Jan. 27, 2015. Murillo Karam said the investigation gave them “the legal certainty that the student teachers were killed.” Alfredo Estrella/AFPIn a 16-page report, the Argentine team, hired by the victims’ families as independent investigators, cited several problems in the government’s investigation, including lax security at the site and the procedures by which the evidence was collected and interpreted.In the 11 days in October and November that Mexican investigators worked alongside the Argentine team at the trash dump outside Cocula, the majority of the ballistic evidence was found at the bottom of the hill. But then government investigators returned alone on Nov. 15 — despite an agreement to work together — and found 42 shell casings in a pile right where the suspects’ testimonies suggested they should be, the Argentines said. That discovery has raised the possibility that evidence was planted to support the testimony.Murillo Karam said last month that his conclusions were based on 39 confessions and hundreds of forensic tests. The official description of the scene at the trash dump relies on the testimony of at least three people — out of roughly 100 arrested — who claimed they worked for the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel and participated in killing and burning the students.Of the 17 bone fragment samples sent to a lab at a university in Innsbruck, Austria, just one has produced a positive DNA match with a student — 19-year-old Alexander Mora Venancio. But the Argentines said they were not present when Mexican authorities claimed to have found the bag of ashes and bone along the Río San Juan near the trash dump.The Argentine team also concluded, using satellite imagery and soil samples, that there had been fires at the trash dump in Cocula going back years. That has led them to doubt that it is possible for prosecutors to conclude that the evidence they are relying on — tooth or tire or metal fragments — comes from one specific fire. The Argentines have further found the burned remains of a prosthetic dental bridge that they believe did not belong to any of the students.“There are other human remains here that do not belong to the” students, the team member said.© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Related posts:Outrage at likely Mexico massacre spreads to Acapulco Clashes as Mexicans hold rally for 43 missing students Mexicans’ search for bodies reveals a history of hidden deaths Mexico police, protesters clash ahead of grim anniversary of 43 missing students
Paolo Spadoni, a professor of Political Science at Georgia’s Augusta State University, said that the flurry of new laws have left little doubt in Cubans’ minds that the reforms are here to stay, unlike a past experiment with limited capitalism in the 1990s.“There has been no backtracking since Raul Castro became president,” he said. “It seems clear that each measure is carefully planned and that they are trying to implement measures that can be sustained over time.But the momentum has undoubtedly waned this year, with no major reforms announced since December. Two promised high-profile changes, the creation of mid-sized cooperative businesses and the elimination of travel restrictions that keep most Cubans from leaving the island, have yet to materialize, despite repeated assurances they are in the works.The reforms are part of a five-year plan to shed a million state workers and turn more than 40 percent of the economy over to the private sector, compared to about 15 percent today. While they began in earnest in 2010, Cuban officials say the clock started ticking on January 1, 2011, giving the government 3 1/2 more years to complete the transformation. Some details of the new law were confusing, given that the decree was published in dense legalese and appeared to contradict itself, and that no government officials were available to make sense of it. At times the decree refers to taxes being imposed based on weight, and at times on the value of merchandise.Either way, it was clear to private business owners that they would be paying much more, and they were not happy about it.“It’s a disaster,” said Luis Carlos Espinosa, a 42-year-old who has set up a small stand in Central Havana selling jeans, colorful blouses and children’s clothing, and who had heard rumors of the new taxes but had not yet seen the published law. “It hurts us in every way. Where are we going to get the merchandise? There is no wholesale market here.”Several other street vendors who refused to give their names for fear they could get into trouble said they were angry that the government had not discussed the changes with private business owners before making them law, and that details were still sketchy.Castro has ushered in dramatic changes like the legalization of a real estate and used car market, the granting of licenses for 181 types of private sector jobs, micro-loans for small business owners, the loosening of rules limiting independent restaurants, and a program to turn fallow government land over to small time farmers. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Four benefits of having a wireless security system Top Stories Some feel they are not going fast enough, especially given the fact that Castro and his top deputies are all over 80, and Cuba could lose a generous ally in Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is ailing with cancer and campaigning for re-election this Fall.“If you just look at what they keep talking about, displacing all these people to the private sector, at the rate they’re going it’s not going to happen,” said Sergio Diaz-Briquets, a Cuba analyst based in the Washington area.“They’re continuing to do it in a very methodical way, but too slow,” Diaz-Briquets said. “From what we all can see, it’s not fitting with the targets they have set for themselves several times already.”___Associated Press reporters Paul Haven and Peter Orsi contributed to this report.___Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP 4 must play golf courses in Arizona (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories About a quarter of a million Cubans have started new businesses under free-market reforms instituted by President Raul Castro at the end of 2010. Many have opened cafes, repair shops, clothing stalls and outdoor stands that rely on products brought in from abroad.Cubans with permission to travel often fund their trips by acting as mules, coming back with bags stuffed with clothes, electronic goods, diapers and other things that are hard to find on the island. Until now, they would pay only about $0.50 a kilo ($0.25 a pound) in import duties, with set fees for big-ticket items like televisions and microwave ovens. Food imports were free until earlier this year, when the government began charging duties.The new fees were posted quietly on the website of the government’s Official Gazette and are dated July 2.State-run newspapers have carried no mention of the change, nor did Tuesday’s midday television newscast. But a website of the official Radio Rebelde station ran a short article Tuesday morning, and a vague mention of discussions about import taxes was made on a late-night newscast.The Radio Rebelde article is headlined “New banking and import resolutions improve services at Cuban airports,” with no discussion of the effect the duties will have on private business. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Associated PressHAVANA (AP) – Cuba has announced the imposition of stiff new import taxes that could substantially affect private entrepreneurs trying to get new businesses off the ground and many others who rely on informal shipments of merchandise from overseas.Starting in September, Cubans who come in and out of the country more than once a year will have to pay the equivalent of $10 a kilogram ($4.50 a pound) or more for imports, a fortune in a country where salaries average the equivalent of about $20 a month. Non-Cuban residents of the island, as well as Cuban-Americans visiting relatives, would have to pay the new rates even if they only make one trip to the island. Comments Share New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like
ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) – Paraguay’s former President Fernando Lugo must testify in an investigation over alleged Venezuelan meddling during his impeachment, prosecutors said Tuesday.Lugo was voted out of office June 22 by a hostile Congress after a fast-track trial over his role in a deadly land eviction. He was replaced by his vice president, Federico Franco. But the poor, landlocked country’s new government has accused Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro of trying to persuade Paraguayan military leaders to rise up in support of Lugo. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments Share Sponsored Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates After Lugo’s ousting, the Unasur ministers returned to their countries but Maduro stayed behind to support Lugo.“It cannot be determined yet if Maduro asked army, navy and air force brass to ignore Lugo’s political trial and therefore qualify this act as foreign interference in the affairs of Paraguay,” Cano said.“But what can be confirmed is that Maduro met with military leaders inside the presidential palace,” she added. “According to testimony provided by the generals Adalberto Garcete, Miguel Christ y Juan Carlos Benítez … he only said Lugo’s impeachment would result in international sanctions against Paraguay.”—Associated Press writer Fabiola Sanchez in Caracas contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths “The former president must show up at the office of the public prosecutor by Monday to continue with the probe,” said Prosecutor Stella Mary Cano, who has already heard the testimony of four generals as well two former Lugo officials. Cano said if Lugo fails to show up, eventually “we could use the public force to bring him in following the law.”The AP tried to contact Lugo through two of his former personal assistants but they said they no longer work with the former leader and are themselves looking for a job. Lugo’s lawyer declined to comment.Maduro traveled to Asuncion a day before Lugo was ousted from the presidency as part of delegation of ministers from the Unasur South American group that met with lawmakers to try to avert his ouster.According to testimony by Marcial Congo, the former leader’s private secretary, Maduro briefly met with military leaders during Lugo’s hasty trial. Paraguay’s Defense Minister Maria Liz Arnold has said the Venezuelan official asked them to back the former Roman Catholic bishop-turned-president.“We were sent as Unasur ministers and we did our job talking with all sectors of Paraguayan society and offering South America’s solidarity to avoid this embarrassing act against the constitution, the president and the Paraguayan people,” Maduro told reporters in response to the accusations late last month . 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Top Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation
The next step? Seeing how students did — and how parents and educators respond. Test scores don’t just inform parents of their child’s progress; they are used to judge schools and teacher performance, too. The new exams are expected to be harder in many states than the state assessments they replaced, but they’ve been billed as a more accurate testing of what students are actually learning.A student testing 101:TESTS ARE NEWThe new assessments developed by two groups of states are called Smarter Balanced and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. They are designed to be aligned to the Common Core state standards, which spell out what reading and language arts skills students in each grade should master. About 12 million students are taking the two tests in 29 states and the District of Columbia, along with 5,000 students in New York as part of a pilot program.Additional states initially were to have participated, but dropped out. Legislators in Ohio and elsewhere continue to debate which standardized test to offer in the future.TECHNOLOGY CHANGESThe new exams were developed to be taken by computer, although paper and pencil tests are available. Districts have had to upgrade their Internet capabilities, buy new computers and teach keyboarding. The move is “really groundbreaking and unprecedented in our field,” said Chris Domaleski, senior associate at the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment. WASHINGTON (AP) — Call this the year of the test. Or, at least the year of standardized test mania.Standardized test season in K-12 classrooms has been dominated in some states by widespread technical problems or by parents allowing their children to opt out. But testing officials say the rollout this spring of new standardized tests taken by computer in many U.S. public schools has been without major problems in much of the country. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist HOW THE TECHNOLOGY IS WORKINGTesting was disrupted in the Smarter Balanced states of Nevada, Montana and North Dakota because of technical issues associated with open-source software.In Nevada, states officials notified vendors they were in breach of contract. “Right now we have postponed the test until the vendor delivers a ‘cure,’” Clark County Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky told parents. “I cannot say for certain whether that ‘cure’ will happen and if we can complete the assessments.”In Montana, State Superintendent Denise Juneau said she’s been “very disappointed” by the technology problems which initially caused a two-week delay in testing followed by other technical issues, and she’s decided to make the testing optional. She said a vast majority of districts are still doing the testing. She said she likes the rigor of the Smarter Balanced test, but will have to reconsider the state’s testing options if the technology problems don’t get resolved.Beyond those problems, things are going relatively well operationally, especially considering the large-scale changes, Domaleski said.In Ohio, for example, there was a problem early on with students taking the PARCC test being directly taken to the end of the test if they hit the wrong key, but the problem was identified and fixed, said an Ohio Department of Education spokesman. Comments Share Sponsored Stories Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement In California, where 3.2 million students are taking the Smarter Balanced test, testing has been running fairly smoothly, said Pam Slater, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Education.PARENTS ARE OPTING THEIR KIDS OUTThere’s been mounting concern that students take too many standardized tests. Thousands have opted to keep their students from taking standardized tests.In New York, some superintendents have reported that 60 percent or even 70 percent of their students are refusing to sit for exams. In New Jersey, state officials said preliminary estimates show that nearly 15 percent of parents of high school juniors opted their teens out, although fewer students in the younger grades opted out. Such resistance has also been reported in Maine, New Mexico, Oregon and Pennsylvania.Under federal law, 95 percent of a state’s students are required to undergo an annual assessment. As the opt-outs potentially put some states at risk of not meeting that threshold, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters the federal government has “an obligation to step in.”WHAT ELSE HAS GONE ON?In New Jersey, the state education department said it will do a review to make sure that privacy is not compromised by a standardized-testing firm that is monitoring social media for security breaches. That announcement came after a school superintendent said her district was contacted after a student tweeted something online about testing. FILE – In this Feb. 12, 2015 file photo, practice test books sit on a table in the sixth grade English Language Arts and Social Studies classroom at Morgan Elementary School South in Stockport, Ohio. Call this the year of the test. Or, at least the year of standardized test mania. For all the headlines of technical test problems in some states and parents opting their children out of test taking, testing proponents say the roll out in much of the country this spring of new standardized tests taken on a computer has had relatively few major hitches. (AP Photo/Ty Wright, File) Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of WHAT’S AHEADSmarter Balanced said it plans to announce scores this summer. PARCC said it won’t make available how students did until this fall, in part because this summer it will set its performance standards. Some schools are already telling parents that students’ scores could be lower than on the tests they replaced.Edward Ferrario, principal of Stony Lane Elementary School in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, said he and teachers in his building wonder if the Common Core standards they are teaching truly align to the new PARCC test and where the gaps are. He said his school has been commended in the past for its high-performing students, but that it’s unclear how students are performing on the PARCC test, causing concern.“That doesn’t mean we’re not going to be able to raise the bar,” Ferrario said. “We’ll have to.”_____Follow Kimberly Hefling on Twitter: http://twitter.com/kheflingCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober
BEIJING (AP) — Southeast Asia’s lawless ‘Golden Triangle’ region remains the overwhelming source of the heroin and methamphetamine sold in China, the country’s Cabinet said in a report issued Wednesday.The report said 90 percent of the 9.3 tons of heroin and 11.4 tons of methamphetamine seized in 2014 was produced in the region that incorporates parts of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand and borders China’s southern province of Yunnan. The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall By contrast, heroin from the Golden Crescent region that includes Afghanistan, the world’s biggest opium producer, accounted for less than 2 percent of the drug seized in China, it said.“From an overseas perspective, the Golden Triangle continues to be for China the most dangerous drug-producing region,” said the report, the government’s first comprehensive look at drug use in China.The report underscores the persistence of the regional threat, despite China’s efforts to boost cross-border cooperation to crack down on the rebel armies and criminal gangs that run the drug trade in the mountainous area along the Mekong River.China began running joint river patrols with Thailand, Laos and Myanmar following an attack on two Chinese cargo boats on the Mekong in 2011 that resulted in the massacre of their 13 crew members.The Cabinet report said synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine and ketamine have overtaken heroin in popularity in China. The country largely eliminated opium use after the 1949 communist takeover of power but saw drug abuse come roaring back in the 1980s after social controls were relaxed.China currently has about 3 million registered drug users, it said, adding that estimates of those who have tried drugs run as high as 14 million amid a population of 1.4 billion. Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Patients with chronic pain give advice How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Drug users are getting younger, come from more diverse backgrounds and are experimenting with a wider range of substances, including cocaine from South America, the report said.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: A.V David Speakman (Group Chairman), Cathy Burke (General Manager) Travel Counsellors Group Chairman, David Speakman offers an insight to his companyTravel Counsellors Group Chairman, David Speakman, held an exclusive gathering in Sydney yesterday announcing his confidence in his Company achieving the title of Travel Agent of the year. According to Mr Speakman, employing professional, qualified agents who are dedicated to the development of relationships with their clients and love what they do, is part of the reason why the company has been successful in Australia with 95 members nationwide currently.“Our business is all about people” Mr Speakman said, adding that it’s their personal, concierge style of service that is their point of difference.Having recorded 100 percent increase in sales up to October 2010, Social Media will become a major focus in their expansion to gain additional awareness from new customers. Future online marketing activities include developing e-shots for their agents from 2011 to send to their database of clients. $4 million pounds has been invested in an in house dynamic packaging system that enables Travel Counsellors to have access to a variety of products informing them which company is providing the best deal for their specific search, resulting in a broader range of options for their clients.The United Kingdom is currently Travel Counsellors’ number one business with South Africa and Australia coming equal second in terms of sales and volume. Mr Speakman is confident that Australia will take 2nd place from 2011. Stating that relationship building is the key to a strong future in the Australian travel industry, Mr Speakman holds firm in his belief that while consumers may be able to obtain the cheapest prices online, nothing can beat personalised, trustworthy service from a Travel Agent.
28 25 Residences Telecommunications 52 $ 7.40 b Flight Centre’s MD – one of Australia’s wealthiest in 2012. Image: BRW.com.au by: Glenn Hunt NUMBER Frank Lowy Investment Property 27 $5.95 b Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J. 2 25 Media 9 $5.61 b Manufacturing, investment James Packer Anthony Pratt & family Tasmania Property South Australia Services 19 1 20 Western Australia Resources Industries $6.00 b 1 11 NUMBER Resources 3 Gambling, investment Manufacturing 5 New South Wales 2 INDUSTRY 5 STATE 2 $22.02 b Graham Turner has joined the likes of James Packer, Gina Rinehart and Anthony Pratt after landing a spot on BRW’s Rich 200 list.The list, which went on sale this week, revealed the travel agency group’s managing director nearly doubled his wealth last year from AU$435 million to AU$720 million.Sitting at number 58 on the list, Mr Turner beat out the property sector’s Gordon Fu and Family, who earned AU$710 million last year, but fell just short of Melbourne-based Russell Wither and Family, who earned AU$725 million.Topping the list for the second consecutive year, the richest person in Australia is the resource sector’s Gina Rinehart, who maintained the number one position despite a dip from AU$29.17 billion in 2011 to AU$22.02 billion.Meanwhile, the retail sector landed the 27th spot in the industries category, falling behind investment and the services sectors.Check out the table below to see who made it as Australia’s top five most wealthiest people last year:Top 5 Resources 2 Overseas 1 Technology Name WEALTH Construction Ivan Glasenberg 52 61 Wholesaling Queensland 6 Energy Gina Rinehart INDUSTRY Biotechnology Victoria Retail Australian Capital Territory 10 16 Transport Entertainment Rural
Industry friends gathered at the Novotel on Collins last night, to welcome Wicked Wednesdays to Melbourne.Drinks, food and prizes were flowing throughout the evening, with Ibrahim from TJ Travel walking away with Nine day King Tutankhamen tour of Egypt with sleeper train upgrade from On The Go Tours and Ayse from TJ Travel winning an overnight stay Novotel voucher.Other prizes for the night included several DVDs and a MELtours prize.Drinks for the evening were sponsored by TravelManagers, while the entertaining photo booth was brought to you by roomsXML.Other sponsors for the evening included e-Travel Blackboard, GTI Tourism and Breakaway Travel Club.Check out a few photos from the event below, or click here to tag you and your friends on Facebook. Source = Wicked Wednesdays
Ms Harvey said Qantas’ new alliance with Emirates will also assist in creating greater connectivity for travellers visiting Western Australia. The Western Australian Government has secured a AU$7.65 million marketing agreement with Qantas Airways to jointly promote tourism for the state. “It will play a vital role in our bid to attract more domestic and international visitors to the State and increase the value of tourism from AU$7.5billion in 2012 to AU$12billion by 2020.” The campaign will target potential domestic visitors, as well as international travellers from the United Kingdom, USA, Germany and Singapore. Source = ETB News: P.T. The new partnership will see Qantas match the State’s marketing funding dollar for dollar, worth AU$2.55 million each year, for a period of three years. State Government and aviation leader sign three-year marketing initiative. “The partnership will promote WA’s extraordinary destinations through joint advertising in our key tourism markets,” Tourism Minister Liza Harvey said.
The new website (www.travelcube.com.au) replaces the old site (agents.octopustravel.com.au). TravelCube processes thousands of bookings online, in more than 25 languages. The GTA-owned website has been refreshed with a modern design and offers agents up-to-the-moment availability and pricing. Retail booking site OctopusTravel has rebranded to become TravelCube, as part of the company’s commitment to constantly improve the agent experience online. The new website will be available for travel agents in Australia and New Zealand from Friday 25 October 2013, providing flexible access to an expanded range of worldwide accommodation. “Despite a new name and a new look, agents can continue to trust the expertise of our people, the reach of our global network and the reliability of our technological solutions,” GTA vice president for sales and marketing Pacific John Stucci said. Source = ETB News: P.T.