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United States issues travel alert to Europe during the holidays

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first_img WASHINGTON, DC — The Department of State has alerted U.S. citizens to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season. The alert, which was issued on Nov. 21 and expires on Feb. 20, 2017, advises Americans to exercise caution at holiday festivals, events and outdoor markets.Credible information indicates the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates continue to plan terrorist attacks in Europe, with a focus on the upcoming holiday season and associated events.  U.S. citizens should also be alert to the possibility that extremist sympathizers or self-radicalized extremists may conduct attacks during this period with little or no warning. Terrorists may employ a wide variety of tactics, using both conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests.While extremists have carried out attacks in Belgium, France, Germany, and Turkey in the past year, the Department remains concerned about the potential for attacks throughout Europe.  If you are traveling between countries in Europe, please check the website of the U.S. Embassy or consulate in your destination city for any recent security messages.More news:  Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is backU.S. citizens are advised to exercise vigilance when attending large holiday events, visiting tourist sites, using public transportation, and frequenting places of worship, restaurants, hotels, etc. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds, when possible. Review security information from local officials, who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country. Travelweek Group Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Travel Alert Tuesday, November 22, 2016 United States issues travel alert to Europe during the holidayslast_img read more

Two new Canadian BDMs added to BackRoadsTopdeck team

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first_imgTwo new Canadian BDMs added to Back-Roads/Topdeck team Share Tuesday, September 11, 2018 LONDON — Back-Roads Touring and Topdeck Travel have welcomed two new Canadian members to its team: Isabella Borowiec and Miles Walker.Borowiec, a travel agent from Toronto with over six years’ experience, has been appointed Business Development Manager – Eastern Canada and the Maritimes. After planning dream holidays for clients with a specialty in groups and wellness tours, she jumped at the chance to move to the ‘supplier side’, said the two sister companies.Walker, meanwhile, has been brought on as Business Development Manager of Western Canada and Pacific Northwest USA. He joins Back-Roads/Topdeck after nine and a half years with On The Go Tours as its Western Canada Sales Manager, where he helped establish its Canadian arm after bringing the brand over from the U.K. in 2008.Back-Roads, now in its 28th year, has won ‘Best Small Coach Tour Company’ for three years running at the British Travel Awards in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Topdeck, with over 45 years’ experience, offers unique tours in five of the seven continents to the youth market (18-39 years old).More news:  Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agencyIsabella Borowiec can be reached at I.borowiec@topdecktravel.co.uk and at (519) 500-4624.Miles Walker can be reached at m.walker@topdecktravel.co.uk and at (778) 788-3470. Tags: Back-Roads Touring, New Hires, Topdeck Travelcenter_img Travelweek Group Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Shaky weekend for Costa Ricas Pacific coast

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first_imgNo related posts. A moderately intense earthquake measuring magnitude-3.5 shook Costa Rica’s Pacific and central regions Friday morning. Since then, seven other quakes were reported over the weekend by the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica’s (Ovsicori) automatic system.By 2 a.m. Monday, two more quakes (magnitudes 3.1 and 3.6) had shaken the same area, according to Ovsicori. “Some of the quakes are caused by the subduction [sliding] of the Cocos plate under the Caribbean plate,” volcanologist Marino Protti said.Five quakes had their epicenters near Costa Rican shores, while a strong magnitude-6.3 quake felt across the country at 9:15 p.m. Sunday originated on Panama’s Pacific coast, caused by a collision of the Cocos and Nazca plates, Protti said.Ovsicori experts are reviewing records from their automatic-detection systems to confirm the epicenters. No damage has been reported so far. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Ricas Chinchilla to visit Chile and Switzerland

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first_imgNo related posts. President Laura Chinchilla’s first trip of the year is scheduled for Jan. 21, when she will travel to Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum.After the European trip, Chinchilla will travel to Chile on Jan. 24, where she plans to meet with Latin American and European leaders.Chinchilla will return to Costa Rica on Jan. 28, according to Communications Minister Francisco Chacón. Facebook Commentslast_img

Microsoft Azure Cloud sales top 1 billion challenging Amazon

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first_imgNo related posts. SEATTLE, Washington – Microsoft’s Windows Azure software and related programs have surpassed $1 billion in annual sales for the first time, a sign of progress in the effort to challenge Amazon.com in cloud computing.The sales milestone for Azure – which stores business information and programs on remote servers and lets customers access them over the Web – was reached in the past 12 months, said Curt Anderson, finance chief for Microsoft’s server and tools unit.Microsoft, the largest software maker, is counting on Azure and other Internet-based business programs to bolster growth as a global personal-computer slump erodes demand for Windows software installed on desktop machines. About 20 percent of companies tapping the cloud use Azure, compared with 71 percent usage for Amazon, according to James Staten, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. Within a year, Microsoft can command as much as 35 percent, he said.“I expect them to double annually from here,” Staten said of Microsoft’s Azure revenue. “Microsoft probably has more net new growth opportunity sitting in front of them than probably anyone in the market.”Microsoft’s $1 billion sales figure includes Azure, as well as software provided to partners to create related Windows cloud services, Anderson said in an interview.Azure subscriptions have risen 48 percent in the past six months, said Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft’s vice president for marketing for the server and tools division. That unit, which encompasses Azure, has posted nine straight quarters of sales growth of at least 10 percent, he said. Windows sales were $18.4 billion last year, down 5.7 percent from a peak in 2010.Gaining ground against Amazon won’t be easy. Microsoft will need to do a better job of convincing existing customers, as well as newer companies seeking to reduce computing costs, why they should opt for Azure, Staten said.“The majority of people thinking about cloud weren’t thinking of Azure first,” Staten said. “That’s been an uphill climb for them, and even though Microsoft is now matching the prices of Amazon and some of the capabilities, they haven’t really answered the question of ‘Why Azure?’”Startups, which tend to be early adopters of new technology, may be an especially hard sell, he said.“They haven’t excited the front-line developers — the ones who made Amazon who they are,” he said. “Those will be hard to influence.”Take Forest Key, an ex-Microsoft manager who is now chief executive officer of hotel-software startup Buuteeq Inc.Even after Key’s firm participated in a Microsoft program that gives free software to startups, he chose Amazon’s cloud service two and a half years ago. Now that Azure is more on par with Amazon, Key said he doesn’t want to switch.Anne Temme, a spokeswoman for Seattle-based Amazon at Weber Shandwick, didn’t respond to a request for comment.Earlier this month, Microsoft rolled out new set of cloud services designed to more directly challenge Amazon and vowed to match the online retailer’s lowest prices for competing products. Since then, Azure added 10,000 customers, Numoto said. Azure lets companies store information and run software on Microsoft’s servers and access it over the Internet.With the latest offering, Microsoft entered a niche known as Infrastructure as a Service, which lets companies move applications to the cloud by renting storage and servers — instead of older versions of Azure that required customers to write programs from scratch.It’s the fastest-growing part of the cloud market, according to Gartner Inc., which estimates that sales of infrastructure services will surge by an average of 38 percent annually to $30.6 billion by 2017 from $6.17 billion last year.“Not that many people have quite figured out that the Azure of today is not the same as two years ago,” David Smith, an analyst at Gartner, said in an interview. “It’s changed a lot and the issue is getting people to give it a second look.”One early convert is Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which last year moved a North American program that tracks tire performance and wear to Azure from an internal system. The application, which has almost one million data points on various tires for vehicles ranging from trucks to school buses, helps Goodyear catch safety issues and propose the best products for typical road conditions in a specific region at a given time of year.Goodyear, the largest U.S. tiremaker, opted for Azure over Amazon because it already used Micosoft’s database and programming tools, said Johnny McIntosh, director of Goodyear’s fleet headquarters in North America.When Goodyear wanted a similar system in Singapore, it took less than an hour to set up, he said.“It’s not all been rainbows and sunshine – we were an early adopter so you know there will be some growing pains,” he said. “But overall it’s heavily used and it’s held up well.”The total cloud market, which includes categories like advertising, where Azure and Amazon don’t compete, is expected to rise to $237.2 billion in 2017 from $108.9 billion last year, Gartner forecast. Amazon Web Services’ annual revenues could reach $20 billion by 2020 from $1.8 billion last year, Carlos Kirjner, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., estimated in a research report earlier this month.One area where Microsoft has an edge over Amazon is in the so-called private cloud, which lets customers run Web-based programs via their own data centers. Microsoft also links Web- based applications to its traditional software. Amazon hasn’t focused much on the private cloud, Staten said.Microsoft’s flexibility helped win over Xerox Corp, which is barred by some government customers from running its programs in the public cloud. Azure enables Xerox programmers in Bangalore, India, to coordinate with users in the U.S., said Raman Padmanabhan, chief information officer for Xerox’s business services unit.Under the old system, U.S. customers often discovered bugs when it was the middle of the night in India. Now, Indian engineers run virtualization software that replicates systems running in the U.S. to speed development and test new software, he said. The result: costs were cut by 30 percent, productivity improved by 40 percent and 70 percent fewer engineers quit in frustration.“The biggest advantage I have with Microsoft is I don’t have to go to any other vendor for any solution – I can go to one partner for all of my operating systems, all of my development environment and all of my infrastructure tools,” he said. “Why would I waste time looking at another third-party solution?”© 2013, Bloomberg News Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Antireform protesters clash with police in Mexico

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first_imgMEXICO CITY – Police launched tear gas at protesters who threw rocks and firebombs in Mexico City on Sunday, leaving two officers injured during a demonstration against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s reform agenda.Scores of students teamed up with thousands of teachers who have led several protests in the capital in the past two weeks, challenging Peña Nieto’s shake-up of the education system.The city’s public security department said four people were detained after a group of protesters clashed with police in a separate demonstration against the president’s controversial plan to open the state-controled energy sector to foreign investment.Masked demonstrators clashed with hundreds of riot police, who used their shields to defend themselves, an AFP correspondent said. The student protest group #YoSoy132 said six of their comrades were detained.The students and teachers joined forces to march toward Congress as Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong prepared to deliver the government’s first annual report since Peña Nieto took office in December.But the teachers left the Congress after masked protesters again clashed with riot police. The students also left the area, saying they feared arbitrary detentions.Peña Nieto was originally scheduled to deliver his state of the union address on Sunday, but his speech was moved to Monday to avoid more disturbances, officials said.Some 10,000 teachers have camped out in the capital’s historic Zócalo square for the past two weeks, leading protests that have snarled traffic in the congested city, disrupted air travel and forced two soccer league games to be postponed.Last week, lawmakers were forced to meet in a convention center after teachers circled Congress, but Peña Nieto has warned that there would be no turning back on the reforms.Congress has already passed changes to the constitution to overhaul education and they are now due to vote on implementing the new rules requiring teachers to undergo mandatory performance tests to get jobs or promotions. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

In El Salvador Nicaragua abortion can mean death or jail

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first_imgRelated posts:On 35th anniversary of Romero’s murder, Salvadorans remember him finally as a martyr Four arrested in protest against El Salvador abortion laws Romero: The long journey to martyrdom, a timeline El Salvador ex-President Francisco Flores in a coma after stroke SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — María was in her second year of university. She had a boyfriend and used the pill. Nevertheless, she missed her period for a month so she bought a test, which confirmed her pregnancy.Her relationship wasn’t a serious one, and her studies were very expensive. She wasn’t sure she wanted a child so, ashamed, she told her parents what happened.Her father had a clear opinion about it: she had to get rid of the child, no matter what. But as María lives in El Salvador, this meant going to a clandestine clinic and risking up to 40 years in prison for murder — of a 6-week-old fetus.El Salvador is one of the few countries worldwide where abortion is forbidden in every possible case — even when the pregnancy is the result of a rape or when the mother’s life is in danger. The country’s anti-abortion law dates back to 1997.According to the Salvadoran group Citizens’ Coalition for the Decriminalization of Abortion, 129 women were put on trial for abortion in El Salvador between 2000 and 2011. Most of them had their charges upped to murder, according to the group, and many were convicted.Because of the serious penalties against abortion, María didn’t dare talk about it with anyone beyond her family. The more people knew about her pregnancy, the greater risk she ran that authorities would find out and she’d be prosecuted.In the end María went to a clandestine clinic in a residential house. She was given Cytotec pills, which stimulate contractions of the uterus that can cause a woman to abort. In María’s case, the pills also gave her chronic pain in her digestive system.According to the World Health Organization‘s most recent report on the issue, 21.6 million women had unsafe abortions in 2008. Of them, 47,000 women died as a result of the abortion, and 5 million were left disabled.Nine years after her abortion, María still suffers the physical and psychological effects of the ordeal. She’s afraid to tell her story using her real name. In a country where women can wake up chained to their hospital bed after a miscarriage, you don’t talk about the illegal abortion you’ve had.Which is not to say that it doesn’t happen frequently.Abortion laws in El Salvador, Nicaragua disproportionately affects the poorPro abortion rights groups and Amnesty International have teamed up to campaign for the freedom of 17 women, known as “Las 17,” who have been imprisoned in El Salvador for ‘murdering’ their fetuses. And they’ve had one big success.In January, one of the 17, Carmen Guadalupe Vásquez Aldana, was granted clemency after seven years in prison. Vásquez had been raped by her employer when she was 18. She had a miscarriage that resulted in heavy bleeding, which sent her to a hospital — against her employer’s will.There, the doctors suspected an abortion. After an operation, Vásquez woke up handcuffed.Vásquez was a domestic servant, living with the family she worked for and the man who raped her. With an average salary of $250 a month, domestic servants are unlikely to have the means to fund a safe abortion.In Nicaragua, where, like in El Salvador, politics are strongly influenced by the Catholic Church, abortion has been officially outlawed since 2006, even if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger.Ruth María Matamoros, a psychologist who works with the Nicaraguan women’s organization Grupo Venancia, said that the abortion ban creates a divide between rich and poor.“In our eyes the abortion law mainly creates discrimination against the poor,” she said. “Those who have the money just fly to Miami to go to a private clinic. The poor will always look for clandestine clinics, where (practitioners) don’t always know what they are doing.”Women in Nicaragua don’t get jailed for clandestine abortions as they do in El Salvador. But women’s organizations fear this could be the next step. And the abortion ban does put women’s lives in danger.Grupo Venancia’s staff regularly hears stories from women who sought abortions and were treated with bent clothes hangers, which can perforate and infect the uterus. Following such abortions, women often wait to see a doctor until the infection is life threatening.“We see this as a human rights violation,” said Matamoros. “Being pregnant after a rape is a form of torture. Plus, you don’t change anything about the amount of abortions (that take place) when you prohibit them. You only move the abortions to obscure places.”New pressure on El Salvador in roll on U.N. Human Rights Council?The 2013 case of another woman, who goes by the pseudonym Beatriz, brought international attention to El Salvador’s anti-abortion laws. Doctors determined that Beatriz’s fetus was not viable. Beatriz also suffered from the autoimmune disease lupus, which made every day of pregnancy a serious and painful danger to her health. So Beatriz sought legal permission to abort.She was initially denied permission to have an abortion, but the Inter-American Court of Human Rights intervened and ordered El Salvador’s high court to reverse its decision.Human rights lawyer and judge Florentín Meléndez, was the only one of five judges on the initial Salvadoran Supreme Court panel to vote in favor of granting Beatriz an abortion. He remains staunch in his position.“We are not only a tribunal for justice,” he told the Tico Times. “We deal with human lives, so it is important to be reasonable when we look at a case like Beatriz’s, and establish firm legal grounds for the future.”Following El Salvador’s decision to pardon Guadalupe Vásquez in January, a special U.N. panel applauded the decision but urged El Salvador to pardon the other women jailed under similar circumstances and to repeal its anti-abortion legislation.Abortion rights activists hope that El Salvador’s newly-won seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council could pressure the country to change the law. In its petition for a seat on the council, the country stressed the strides it has made in making amends for human rights abuses committed during the country’s civil war, which ended in 1992.The country promised to “continue to promote legislation and administrative and other measures in order to advance the goal of ensuring that public policy guarantees the full exercise of human rights” on the domestic front.But apart from Vásquez, El Salvador’s Supreme Court has not conceded pardon for any of the other 16 women for whom requests for clemency have been submitted. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Prosecutors dont play when it comes to robbery with toy guns

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first_imgRelated posts:Inept criminals sentenced to prison for attempting to steal a truck they couldn’t drive Thefts expected to spike as Christmas season begins 7 injured in Limón bar shootout involving at least one AK-47 assault rifle Motorcycle duo shoots U.S. businessman in Escazú suburb of San José, Costa Rica In August, two men held up a woman in San José. The thieves stole her smartphone and cash before police caught and arrested them with the loot. Their weapon of choice? A garden hose nozzle.A garden hose nozzle is admittedly an outlier when it comes to weapons in aggravated robbery but the capital’s criminals are increasingly turning to toy guns — or anything short of an actual firearm — when they want to rob someone. The guns might be fake but that doesn’t meant that the sentences are any less.For several years now, fake guns have become increasingly popular with thieves. Police seized 81 toy guns between January and August, up 43 percent from the 46 seized during the same period in 2014. Public Security Ministry spokesman Carlos Hidalgo said that roughly 60 percent of the fake guns seized were used in robberies. A garden hose nozzle used to rob a woman in San José on Aug. 24, 2015. (Courtesy Public Security Ministry)The fake guns police seize range from the comical to the military. Many are plastic replicas of small handguns, but in January police found a ceramic AK-47 in the hideout of a suspected drug dealer in Desamparados, south of San José.There is a significant difference in the punishment between robbery and aggravated robbery. Robbery is punishable with between six months and three years in prison. Aggravated robbery — when a thief uses a weapon or there is breaking and entering — carries a punishment of between five and 15 years in prison, according to Article 213 of the Costa Rican Criminal Code.The criminal code has no specific provision for someone who tries to rob another with a fake gun instead of a real one, but the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court has ruled that a weapon can be defined both by its physical description and the intent of the person wielding it. It could look like a gun or just be a hose nozzle hidden in a jacket pocket, but as far as the law’s concerned it’s still a weapon. A fake gun seized by police. (Courtesy Public Security Ministry)Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Tatiana Vargas said that these cases are generally treated as aggravated robbery because the fake weapon “provokes the same reaction in the victim as if it were a real weapon.” (The Tico Times could not verify what the two suspects aforementioned were charged with after they were sent to a San José flagrancy court in August.)One explanation for the increase in fake weapons is that Costa Rica has been making it more difficult for people to get weapons. Unlike the United States, there is no right to bear arms in Costa Rica and getting a gun permit can be a lengthy process. Hidalgo said that carrying a fake gun is not a criminal offense, unlike an unregistered firearm, and much less expensive than the real thing. Many criminals simply try their luck with the fake gun.The number of toy guns in crime might be on the rise, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to try your luck at Russian roulette with a robber. In June, police reported that they seized 2,300 real guns so far this year. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Former Sri Lanka army chief freed from prison

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first_img Comments   Share   The court-martial stripped him of his title, medals, pension and other honors, dishonorably discharged him from the army and sentenced him to a 30-month jail term.In November 2011, he was sentenced to an additional three-year term for allegedly implicating the defense secretary and president’s brother, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, in war crimes during the civil war.About 3,000 supporters gathered in front of the prison in Colombo on Monday, cheering and shouting slogans. They blocked traffic on a main road for hours.Fonseka vowed to continue his struggle to create “a free and fair country” and urged the people to join hands with him in his endeavor.Fonseka and Rajapaksa had a falling out months after the war ended in May 2009, and their relationship deteriorated further after Fonseka challenged the president in elections.While in detention, Fonseka won a parliamentary seat on the opposition ticket in April 2010, but was disqualified from holding office after the court-martial.Sri Lanka has faced growing criticism over alleged rights abuses in the final phase of the civil war. Its ties with Washington have been strained by U.S. sponsorship of a resolution passed by the U.N. Human Rights Council in March to press Sri Lanka to conduct an independent probe into civilian deaths in the final months of fighting. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More than 80,000 people were killed in the conflict, in which ethnic minority Tamils were seeking a separate state, claiming decades of discrimination by the Sinhalese majority.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Associated PressCOLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – Sri Lanka’s former army chief, who was imprisoned after losing an election to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was released from prison Monday to thousands of cheering supporters.As firecrackers erupted in the background, Sarath Fonseka promised to carry on with his challenge to the government.“I will sacrifice my life to serve the people of this country. My courage will not be shattered even if they detain me for 10 years and I will not stop performing my duty,” he said. Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementscenter_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates How do cataracts affect your vision? Sponsored Stories He was freed as a result of a pardon issued by Rajapaksa, who signed the official papers on Saturday.Fonseka’s release came after Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday in Washington, with the protection of human rights highlighted in their meeting. The U.S. has called Fonseka a political prisoner.Though released from prison, Fonseka will not be allowed to contest elections immediately. Under Sri Lankan law, a person who has served six months or more of a prison term longer than two years cannot contest elections for seven years.Tiran Alles, an opposition lawmaker and a member of Fonseka’s political party who previously negotiated with Rajapaksa to obtain Fonseka’s release, said they would hold talks with the government to obtain Fonseka’s voting rights too.A full presidential pardon could restore those rights.Fonseka _ Sri Lanka’s only four-star general _ had been credited with leading Sri Lanka’s army to victory in the country’s long and bloody civil war against ethnic Tamil rebels. But he was jailed after challenging Rajapaksa in elections.He was court-martialed on several charges related to his military service. Fonseka said the cases were a political vendetta to persecute him for daring to run against Rajapaksa. The government denied the accusation. Four benefits of having a wireless security system 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

Rights group says India lets mine operators harm

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first_imgAssociated PressNEW DELHI (AP) – The sugarcane on Rama Velip’s farm is darker than it should be, stained by the iron dust that blows from hundreds of mining trucks that pass through the south Indian village every day.“I see red everywhere,” said Velip, whose village lies along the transport route from a series of iron and manganese mines to a cluster of smelters and refineries. “It’s not just the dust. Mud from these mines gets washed down the Zuari River and trickles into my fields.” Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day The report studied communities in Goa and Karnataka but said the troubles there reflected problems in the mining industry across India. Government authorities did not reply to questions seeking comment about the report’s findings Thursday.“Mining operations often cause immense destruction when government doesn’t exercise proper oversight,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “India has laws on the books to protect mining-affected communities from harm, but their enforcement has essentially collapsed.”Ritwick Dutta, a lawyer who heads the EIA Response Center, an environmental group, noted that all mining assessments must be cleared by the federal Ministry of Environment and Forests’ appraisal committee _ until recently headed by M.L. Majumdar, who sits on the board of at least four mining companies.“There are glaring conflicts of interest throughout the system,” Dutta said. “For instance, these assessments are conducted by hired consultants (paid by the mining companies). That’s why no mining project in this country has ever been rejected.”Experts have also questioned the criteria for environmental assessments. For now, many farmers like Velip are considering going into the trucking business.“Our fields keep drying up, and so many people in my village have switched from farming to trucking for the mines,” said Velip, speaking over telephone from Goa.“But what will I do if I take a loan of 1.5 million rupees ($27,000) to buy that truck and the government finally agrees to shut down these mines?”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family How do cataracts affect your vision? Top Stories The 49-year-old farmer has lost more than half his harvest every year since India’s mining boom began in the early 2000s, watching helplessly as iron dust leeched moisture from his cane plants and mining mud dried up the springs on which he depended.Over the past 10 years, he has seen the price of iron go from $10 per ton to $130. He has also watched as his wife and two of his three children have become asthmatic.The plight of Velip’s family is shared by thousands of people in the states of Goa and Karnataka, where irresponsible mining has damaged the health of thousands of people, interfered with their livelihoods and poisoned the water, according to a human rights group that blamed the troubles on a systematic failure of governance.In a report released Thursday, New York-based Human Rights Watch blamed the Indian government for failing to enforce key human rights and environmental safeguards in the mining industry.The 70-page document found that existing laws have “effectively left mine operators to supervise themselves” and described in detail how regulations rely heavily on dubious assessments of the environmental impact proposed mining projects would have. “They are based on data collected over just three months,” said Sujeet Dongre, head of the Center for Environment Education, which is studying mining in Goa. “For mining operations that will last several decades, seasonal changes at the site need to be incorporated _ which is not possible without at least a year’s data.”Both Dongre and Dutta say environmental assessments contain either incorrect or fraudulent information regarding proximity to water bodies, wildlife or other natural resources.“The data has never been consistent with what we have seen on the ground,” Dongre said.Chris Albin-Lackey, author of the Human Rights Watch report, says the overarching problem is that the government has not dedicated enough resources to regulators.“A few dozen government officials are tasked with overseeing the impacts of every mine in India,” Albin-Lackey said. “This makes in-field monitoring impossible, and regulators end up with no idea of how many mining firms are complying with the law or how many communities are being harmed by illegal practices.”The Indian mining industry, which produced about $44 billion of minerals in 2010-11, has been overrun by corruption scandals in recent years. A key bill on mining regulation, which proposes profit sharing between firms and local communities, remains blocked in Parliament. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Comments   Share   Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debateslast_img read more

In Venezuela pole dancers turn heads outdoors

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first_imgAssociated PressCARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Children pedaled around on tricycles at a playground in Caracas, while joggers ran past on a winding pathway, then slowed down and paused to gape at the unfolding scene on a recent morning.Next to the concrete playground, a young woman in tight shorts and an athletic top gripped and climbed a vertical pole, holding her muscular legs out from her body and doing the splits while holding herself in place. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Pole dancing may have started out in strip clubs, but since the 1990s, it’s become an all-ages exercise and sport phenomenon the world over. Now, it’s hit the streets and at least one playground in Venezuela, a country that’s made beauty and fitness a cult and minted more Miss Universes than any other except the United States.The public emergence of pole dancing would seem a natural for this flesh-obsessed country. But its new visibility has stirred controversy and tut-tuts from some who say such behavior should remain out of public sight. Meanwhile, the sport was featured in an exhibition event held in London last month ahead of the Olympics, with some lobbying for its inclusion as an official sport.Elba Moya, a 76-year-old nurse in Caracas, said she frowns on the idea.“That’s a bad spectacle for children,” she said. “That should be for nightspots and the places where it has to be.”Dancers such as Franleska Garcia, a 28-year-old business manager, said they hope to turn around such attitudes in a country where Catholic-inspired social conservatism remains alive.“We wanted to lift the taboo,” Garcia said. Pole dancing “isn’t sensual. What we do is fitness. It’s acrobatics.” Comments   Share   5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories Sponsored Stories Venezuela was a relative latecomer to the sport, which started drawing a following four years ago while also coming into fashion in other Latin American countries such as Chile, Peru and Colombia. Now, some 10 gyms and schools in Venezuela offer classes in pole dancing.Garcia and eight other women started a “street pole dance” initiative about three months ago, with their performances drawing the attention of the Venezuelan press and the disapproval of some readers, who posted online comments criticizing them for performing in public around children.During a recent practice, interior decorator Jesus Echevarria paused to watch while keeping an eye on his playing kids. If anything, the roots of the sport and its current incarnation didn’t faze him.“It has an impact on people the first time they see this kind of sport,” he said. “But afterward people are amazed.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

EU official rules out division of Kosovo

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first_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Check your body, save your life How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation But Serbia will only move forward in its bid to join the EU by making “sufficient progress on a key priority: visible and sustainable progress in relations with Kosovo,” EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said, speaking after talks with Serbia’s Prime Minister Ivica Dacic. “Partition of Kosovo is not on the table.”Fule said the EU’s goal was to make sure that both Serbia and Kosovo move “on the European integration path without blocking each other.”Dacic, whose nationalist-led government came to power in May, has said previously the best solution for Kosovo would be dividing it into Serb and Albanian parts. Kosovo’s Serb-populated north has been a flashpoint because hardline Serbs there do not acknowledge the authority of Kosovo’s central government in Pristina.Dacic said Thursday his government was ready to reopen EU-brokered negotiations with Kosovo.“It is better for all of us to solve the problems at the negotiating table,” Dacic said, but added that “Serbia cannot accept any additional conditions that would mean recognition of Kosovo’s independence.”Fule said Serbia must implement other reforms such as stepping up the fight against crime and corruption and furthering respect for human rights, including those of the gay community, whose pride march was banned last week over alleged security concerns from right-wing groups. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories “Serbia is expected to pursue its European integration with renewed ambition and perseverance,” Fule said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Any partition of Kosovo along ethnic lines is unacceptable, the European Union told Serbia’s new leader on Thursday, urging the country to hold talks on normalizing ties with its former province.Serbia has refused to recognize the 2008 declaration of independence of Kosovo, whose ethnic Albanian majority split from Serbia after a bloody 1998-99 war. Serbia is also seeking to join the 27-nation EU.center_img Top Stories ErrorOK ErrorOK Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

Jewish fund Germany agree on aid for Nazi victims

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first_imgBERLIN (AP) – A fund for Jewish victims of Nazi crimes says it has reached an agreement with the German government for Berlin to provide some $1 billion in homecare for victims.A spokeswoman for the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany said Tuesday that about 56,000 survivors in about 46 different countries will receive financial support under the agreement for a four-year-period from 2014-2017. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Sponsored Stories Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   Hillary Kessler-Godin, speaking by phone from the fund’s New York office, said the amount of financial aid for each person will depend on individual needs and circumstances.The agreement was negotiated Thursday in Jerusalem with the German Ministry of Finance, which could not immediately be reached for comment. The fund also provides survivors worldwide with other welfare services such as food, medicine or transportation.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

French outtough US over Iran nuclear program

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first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “For France to have the contrary view now, it shows just how far Iran’s nuclear program has advanced,” he said.U.S. Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, who has taken a tough stand against Iran’s nuclear program, applauded France’s position, telling CNN: “Thank God for France and thank God for pushback. … The French are becoming very good leaders in the Mideast.”___Brian Murphy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Nasser Karimi in Tehran contributed to this report.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy The bite of sanctions against Iran in recent years has left dangling billions of dollars worth of French investment there, including from companies like oil giant Total and car maker PSA Peugeot Citroen. Meanwhile, France has been cozying up to rich Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional archrival.This month, French President Francois Hollande travels to Israel. In his radio appearance, Fabius said that French officials have been in contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the Geneva talks.Criticism of France emerged on a Twitter account widely believed to have the approval of the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader _ Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “(hash)French officials have been openly hostile towards the (hash)Iranian nation over the past few years; this is an imprudent and inept move,” wrote (at)khamenei_ir.Salman Shaikh, director of The Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, pointed to a French role reversal from a decade ago when Hassan Rouhani _ now Iran’s president _ was its nuclear negotiator. France led a drive for a deal to sharply limit Iran’s nuclear program, but it was scuttled by allies who felt it did not go far enough. After the Geneva talks ended early Sunday with no deal, diplomats including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that progress was nonetheless made and negotiations will continue Nov. 20. He said the U.S. was “grateful” to the French and shared some of their concerns.After the failure of European-led talks with Iran over the nuclear program in the mid-2000s _ when America gave Iran the silent treatment _ Paris has staked out a hard-line stance. While President Barack Obama has recently sought a breakthrough, France has little to gain politically from an accord, and that gives Paris a freer hand to stick to strategic and security concerns.In Geneva, the U.S., Britain, Germany, Russia, China and top EU diplomat Catherine Ashton were looking for initial caps on Iran’s ability to make an atomic bomb, while Tehran sought some easing of sanctions stifling its economy. But French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius broke the near-uniform silence of the diplomats during the talks by using French radio to express reservations about Iran’s enrichment of uranium and prospects of producing plutonium.“You know, the French are very irritating. When the Americans absolutely want to do something, the French have this terrible habit of somewhat disagreeing,” said analyst Francois Heisbourg of the Foundation for Strategic Research think tank in Paris. “We actually have experience in dealing with the Iranians directly. There used to be negotiations between the Europeans (and the Iranians) between 2003 and 2005.” Top Stories Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   “The Americans haven’t spoken to the Iranians since 1979. And the Americans are telling us how it should be done,” Heisbourg said. As for the Americans, “maybe they just want a deal _ it happens all the time in history: People badly want a deal and end up by negotiating against themselves.”Kerry said the United States has “serious and capable” experts who have dealt with Iran for years.“We are not blind, and I don’t think we’re stupid,” he told NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday. “I think we have a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether or not we are acting in the interests in our country, and of the globe, and particularly of our allies, like Israel, and Gulf states, and others in the region.”France has had deep ties to Iran over the years, notably striking business deals and hosting reformist former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in the late 1990s _ when the biggest sticking point was whether to serve wine at dinner. (It was not.)France was a major partner of the shah, and also harbored Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei in exile before he returned home to lead the Islamic Revolution. Today, the outspoken opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has its base in the Paris suburbs. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home PARIS (AP) – When Iran appeared close to a preliminary deal with world powers over its nuclear program, France stepped up to say: Not so fast _ a surprise move that exposed divisions among the United States and other Western negotiators who had long been in lockstep on the issue.France, analysts say, was motivated by factors including its tough stand against the spread of nuclear weapons, skepticism about Tehran’s trustworthiness, and the longstanding French tradition of speaking out on the world stage. Critics faulted France for alleged grandstanding and seeking closer ties with Iran’s foes.last_img read more