Tourists being helicoptered out of trapped Swiss town

first_imgTags: Switzerland, Travel Alert Wednesday, January 10, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >> Tourists being helicoptered out of trapped Swiss town ZERMATT, Switzerland — Officials in a town at the foot of Switzerland’s famed Matterhorn are resuming helicopter flights to ferry out stranded tourists amid efforts to open roads and rail lines that have been closed due to heavy snowfall and an elevated avalanche risk.The Zermatt tourism office initially said a rail line from the town was due to partially reopen Wednesday, but then corrected that to say that the line would remain closed at least until the afternoon after helicopter crews spotted a new snow mass left from an avalanche days earlier.A police official in Zermatt, who was not authorized to give his name, said an estimated 300 to 400 people flew out the day before, when some 13,000 tourists were unable to leave by road or rail.Local officials said no lives are in danger and the situation is calm, with cafes open and many streets clear.Helicopter teams were also deploying to trigger controlled avalanches to release snow buildup after more than 1 metre (39 inches) of snow fell in some parts of the region in 24 hours.More news:  Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perksFrank Techel, an avalanche forecaster at Swiss avalanche research institute SLF, said that roughly 3-4 metres (about 10-13 feet) of snow had been dumped on the Zermatt area so far this year, which he called an “extraordinary” amount for the region in such a short span. Source: The Associated Press Sharelast_img read more

Red Label Holdings Joe DeMarinis announces retirement

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Wednesday, March 6, 2019 Share TORONTO — Industry veteran Joe DeMarinis says he’s retiring from Red Label Holdings, the company that he and his brothers built from the ground up.Earlier this year Red Label announced its acquisition by a subsidiary of Japan’s H.I.S. Group. Red Label Holdings is the parent company for,, The Travel Experts and TravelBrands. The H.I.S. Group acquisition came into effect March 1.With over 30 years in the industry DeMarinis says he has decided to retire from travel and spend time with his wife and family.“Over the years I have had many partners and colleagues become great friends,” says DeMarinis. “I thank you for the great memories that I take with me, and will miss each and everyone of you.“I’m excited to see what lies ahead and will update you.”Red Label owners Frank DeMarinis, Joe DeMarinis and Enzo DeMarinis got into the travel business in 1983 with Bel Air Travel.More news:  Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agencyIn 2001 Bel Air was bought out and brought into the fold of what would later become Thomas Cook Canada.The DeMarinis brothers returned in 2004 with Their 2013 deal, when they acquired the North American segment of Thomas Cook Group plc for $5.3 million – after Airtours PLC (which later merged with Thomas Cook) paid a reported $79.8 million in 1995 for Sunquest alone – also included their very own Bel Air Travel /, later folded into 2016 Red Label added to its holdings with itravel2000.center_img Red Label Holdings’ Joe DeMarinis announces retirement Tags: People, Retirement Posted bylast_img read more

Electricity unions threaten more protests over privatization bill

first_imgNo related posts. Unions from the government-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) will meet on Aug. 9 with government representatives to discuss the withdrawal of a bill that promotes private-sector participation in electricity generation.Fabio Chávez, an ICE labor leader, said Monday that unions are “disappointed” with the absence of government officials during a June 30 protest in San José, during which some 10,000 ICE employees marched to Casa Presidencial in the southeastern district of Zapote.President Laura Chinchilla said the bill is “top priority for the executive branch” and could be discussed in the Legislative Assembly this week.Chávez said that “if [unions] decide to protest, they would paralyze the country, because they have more support from ICE workers and other sectors.”The bill seeks to allow private companies to generate 25 percent of the nation’s energy demand, a decision that unions say would “privatize electricity services in Costa Rica.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

On the role of pirates along the rich coast

first_imgFrom the print editionIf pirates working for the British crown in the Caribbean had succeeded in conquering Costa Rica, everybody here would be speaking English. Instead, we’re telling the stories of how they tried.From 1589-1590, no Spanish colony was safe. Pirates Henry Morgan and Sir Francis Drake were on the loose, as evidence by landmarks and historical documents throughout the Americas. Drake Bay on the southern Pacific coast was named after the famous 16th century pirate, and the Isla del Coco – or Cocos Island – is said to be a hiding spot for pirate treasures, the surrounding waters a resting place for many ships.According to Raul Arias, historian with the Center for Research and Conservation for the Patrimony, story begins with Christopher Columbus, who made four trips to the New World but touched only the southern half from Mexico and moved south. The rest of  America was still “undiscovered.” At that time, the arbiter of the world was not a king, but Pope Alexander VI of the notorious Borgia family, and a Spaniard, and he decided to deed all the newly discovered land to Spain and Portugal, leading maritime powers and very Catholic.The discovery of gold in the New World fueled a frenzy of exploration and conquest with a steady stream of Spanish vessels crisscrossing the Atlantic, with gold from Peru travelling to Portobello, Panama, in mule trains and by boat to Veracruz, Mexico, and on to Spain. Settlers, explorers and priests came sailing from the Old World to the new.Meanwhile, other European powers were growing resentful. Holland, France and England were also seafaring nations looking for trade routes and land to exploit. In England, Queen Elizabeth I built up a navy with the aim of breaking up the Spanish monopoly. The English Navy defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 and set off to claim America. The queen hired Morgan, Drake and other experienced sailors as “corsairs” to attack Spanish ships and headlands in the new world. And, acting as agents for the English crown, they brought terror to Spanish vessels and colonies. Because of England’s anti-Catholic beliefs at the time, richly furnished churches were favored targets for pirates. Forts still standing in Cuba and South America are today’s tourist attractions, but in the 16th century they were protection against British terrorists.That said, pirate companies did operate under gentlemen’s codes. According to Arias, captains faced mutinies and lost their crews if the men were mistreated or stiffed. Injuries were common and pirate ships included “surgeons” who were not medical doctors but were trained in amputations, which explains peg legs and hooks for arms. However, the movies about pirates do not do justice to the reality, says Arias.Costa Rica faced several invasions by pirates, and Cocos Island was their sanctuary for several years. With fresh water, abundant timber and plants and animals, they could live comfortably while raiding coastal cities. Stories of pirate treasure on the island and sunken ships offshore continue to intrigue.The Caribbean side of Costa Rica also saw several pirate incursions in the 1600s. In the 1640s, a pirate army of 600 men led by Bartholomew Mansfield headed for Cartago, then capital of Costa Rica. But the Ticos organized an army, and when the invaders reached the community of Ujarás, they were outnumbered. Retreat was the only option. Costa Ricans credited the Virgin of Pilar – the church’s patron – with a miracle, but according to Arias, it was Oliver Cromwell’s revolution against the monarchy and the industrial revolution in England that saved them. By then, England had its own colonies in North America and no longer needed pirates to boost the economy.Later, a Caribbean insurgence from plundering buccaneers went down under men like Black Beard, and these pirates pillaged until they met defeat by arms and economics. Pirates not longer inhabit these waters, but their stories, their sunken ships and their treasure live on. Many thanks to historian Raul Arias of the Oficina de Patrimonio for his insight on pirates in Costa Rica. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Environmental agency to decide fate of Costa Ricas Moín Port expansion

first_imgRelated posts:Court rejects final appeal against Moín Port expansion; construction to start within 2 months UPDATE: Atlantic ports paralyzed after dockworkers go on ‘indefinite’ strike Solís administration, striking dockworkers at loggerheads over port concession APM Terminals set to begin construction in 2015 on $1 billion Costa Rica port after environmental study approved MOÍN, Limón – Costa Rica’s largest infrastructure project, the $992 million Moín Port expansion on the northern Caribbean coast, is still stuck on the starting blocks awaiting approval of an environmental impact assessment.The National Technical Secretariat of the Environment Ministry (SETENA) has reviewed the entire 3,000-page report issued by port authorities and is now in the last stage of collecting additional information from experts. But the lengthy process has already delayed construction, originally slated to begin in September.“This is the largest project SETENA, in its entire 10 years, has ever reviewed,” Uriel Juárez, SETENA’s secretary general, told The Tico Times. “We have a great responsibility to make sure that the answer we give is the right one, and that takes time.”Although executives with the port’s builder and management company, APM Terminals, are optimistic the project will move forward, environmental activists have issued reports of their own, urging SETENA to reject the environmental permit.If those efforts fail, construction would begin in February with SETENA’s approval. The project would expand and update Costa Rica’s main Caribbean port, enabling it to receive the giant post-Panamax ships that can hold up to 12,000 containers at a time.Environmental approval is the last potential stumbling block for the 33-year concession to APM Terminals. The Dutch company has already swatted away lawsuits from the unions, with the courts rejecting two cases in August of last year. Though the unions have appealed, the more imminent threat now comes from a coalition of three environmentalists.“This is an extremely complicated project environmentally,” Mauricio Álvarez, an opponent of port expansion, told The Tico Times. “The report presented does not consider other scenarios in other surrounding areas.”Álvarez, president of Costa Rica’s Ecologist Federation (FECON), along with Álvaro Sagot, a well-known environmental lawyer, and Allan Astorga, an environmental consultant, presented a petition to SETENA in September highlighting 27 points of the port’s environmental evaluation that they say violate regulations.According to the environmentalists, APM Terminal’s environmental impact report has shortcomings that violate Costa Rican laws. For Sagot, the most glaring threats include the potential contamination of a nearby aqueduct, damage to wetlands from the construction of an access road and prolonged or permanent pollution.Paul Gallie, managing director of APM Terminals Moín, told The Tico Times he is confident the expansion complies with Costa Rica’s environmental standards.“We have no intention of damaging the environment. We always uphold local standards,” he said. “All projects affect the environment, but with the inefficiency in the current port – trucks waiting, ships waiting, ships with inefficient engines – at the end of the day [our] project improves the environment.”If SETENA approves APM Terminal’s original report, Sagot says his group will take legal action through the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV).Though it has met challenges from unions and environmentalists, the port’s expansion is widely supported by both politicians and development groups eager to solve the economic woes of Limón, the country’s poorest province.The port’s construction will create 400-700 direct jobs, and another 400 people will be needed to operate the port in its initial stages. Some 300 additional jobs will be added over time. APM Terminals also estimates that at least 5,000 indirect jobs will be created.“More important than the direct jobs is that a modern, deep port provides huge confidence for foreign and local investment,” Gallie said. “If Costa Rica does not remain competitive in the international market, people will go elsewhere.”Failure to update its infrastructure has left Costa Rica struggling in terms of development in the region. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2012-2013 report, Costa Rica ranks 140th of 144 countries in port infrastructure, putting it behind several landlocked countries. Unreliable shipping could play a role in whether or not companies choose to invest here.Still, in a province with both the highest unemployment and murder rates in the country, community leaders warn that the port is not a catchall solution.“What we really need is investment. It’s not enough to just build a port,” Pablo Castillo, president of Limón’s Chamber of Commerce, Tourism and Industry, told The Tico Times. “We need all sorts of development, but the port is a start.”And it’s a start that Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla is eager to see get started. The president has been not-so-subtly hurrying SETENA along, calling the organization “an enormous bottleneck in many of the country’s development projects,” during a visit to Limón in August.The political pressure is alarming to Sagot and other environmentalists who believe that it could affect SETENA’s decision.“The government is hurrying it along when it is none of their concern,” Sagot said, of the port project. “SETENA is a technical entity. This is technical decision, not a political one.”But the final step in SETENA’s process will be neither technical nor political. Once the entire environmental report is finished and analyzed, the potential environmental risks will be presented to the community in a public hearing, which Juárez is expecting to happen in November. Though it is unlikely that the hearing could sway SETENA’s final decision, it could lead to additional environmental restrictions and delay the process further.“We need development but we are going to protect our values,” Castillo said. “We are Costa Rica, we are an environmental country, that is who we are.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa RicanAmerican Chamber of Commerce elects new leaders

first_imgRelated posts:Humberto Pacheco: An AMCHAM founder returns as president New AMCHAM president says Costa Rica is ‘well-rooted’ in tourism Talent and good policy are key targets for improving Costa Rica’s competitiveness, forum experts say Uber up and running in Costa Rica despite red light from Transport Ministry During its annual assembly on Wednesday, the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) elected its new 2014-2015 board of directors, including Humberto Pacheco, senior partner at the law firm Pacheco Coto, as president.Pacheco aims to develop strong ties with the Finance Ministry to ensure that possible fiscal reforms in a new administration elected Sunday “favor the country while not harming foreign and national investment,” according to a press release from the bilateral business organization.He also plans to focus on improving the country’s competitiveness to increase foreign investment and production.Outgoing AMCHAM President Steve Aronson, founder of Café Britt, presented a report of his accomplishments during his leadership of the organization, including fighting against illicit commerce, corporate social responsibility and improving ties between Costa Rica and the United States, among others.The new full board is as follows: Facebook Commentscenter_img President: Humberto Pacheco A., Pacheco Coto1st Vice President: Federico Chavarría, Deloitte & Touche2nd Vice President: Margaret Grigsby, Brainpower Latin America S.A.Secretary: Miriam Manrique, Copal AmbaTreasurer: José Pablo Montoya, Coca-Cola FemsaDirector: Tara Polanco, Procter & Gamble Costa RicaDirector: Óscar Rodríguez, Bridgestone Costa Rica S.A.Director: Lisa Foulger, Hewlett-Packard Costa Rica Ltda.Director: Alfredo Rivera, Ftz Coca-Cola Service CompanyDirector: Arnoldo Carranza, DHL DGFDirector:  Elías Soley, Soley, Saborío  & AsociadosDirector:  Gisela Sánchez, Florida BebidasComptroller: Munish Manchanda, Western Unionlast_img read more

Prescriptiondrug battle fuels rise in heroin use in US

first_img U.S. film actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York apartment on Feb. 2, 2014, of a suspected heroin overdose. Rich Schultz/Getty Images/AFP“Absolutely, much of the heroin use you’re seeing now is due in large part to making prescription opioids a lot less accessible,” said Theodore Cicero, a psychiatry professor at Washington University in St. Louis. He co-authored a 2012 study, cited in the New England Journal of Medicine, that found that a reformulation of OxyContin to make it harder to abuse caused heroin use to nearly double.Although policymakers “did the best they could at the time” in fighting prescription drugs, Cicero said, “there were signs years ago that this was going to happen, and there was just a lot of inaction.” He said the government could have acted sooner to mitigate heroin’s toll, such as by promoting the use of medicines to fight overdoses and ease withdrawal symptoms.The government itself predicted that targeting prescription drugs could give heroin use an unintended lift. The U.S. Justice Department’s drug intelligence arm in 2002 highlighted the potential consequences: “As initiatives taken to curb the abuse of OxyContin are successfully implemented, abusers of OxyContin … also may begin to use heroin, especially if it is readily available, pure, and relatively inexpensive.”Yet those projections did not factor into discussions by top drug policy officials, even after numerous government reports and congressional testimony indicated that the shift to heroin was happening, according to current and former federal officials. Heroin use began to rise at the end of the Bush administration and has surged in the Obama years.John Walters, who ran the Office of National Drug Control Policy as President George W. Bush’s “drug czar,” said he doesn’t recall “anyone raising” the link between prescription drugs and heroin, though the reports warning of the link were screened by people in his office. “The heroin problem was getting better, and the real issue was the growth of pharmaceuticals,” he said.Gil Kerlikowske, who took over as President Barack Obama’s drug czar in 2009, said the connection between prescription drugs and heroin “was not on the radar screen” during most of Obama’s first term and that he “didn’t do everything I should have” to raise awareness of the growing heroin problem. Now, he said, heroin is a “much larger concern.”Between 2007 and 2012, heroin use rose 79 percent nationwide, according to U.S. federal data. Within the same period, the data show, 81 percent of first-time heroin users had previously abused prescription drugs. “Buck” who was 23 at the time of this photo and addicted to heroin, shoots up Suboxone, a maintenance drug for opioid dependence that is also highly addictive, on Feb. 6, 2014 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. That year, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin devoted his entire State of the State speech to the scourge of heroin. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFPThe likelihood that many prescription-drug abusers will switch to heroin because it is much cheaper is widely accepted among addiction treatment professionals and law enforcement officials.Justice Department officials reject any direct linkage between the crackdown on prescription drugs and rising heroin use, although it was a Justice Department unit – the National Drug Intelligence Center – that warned that the campaign against illegal use of prescription drugs was fueling heroin use. The center, which closed in 2012, was separate from the unit employing prosecutors and agents who fight drug use.Moreover, these officials defended their fight against prescription-drug abuse, saying those efforts prevented numerous overdose deaths. Even with heroin use on the rise, they said in interviews, it still represents a much smaller problem than prescription medications. Heroin kills about 3,000 people a year, less than a fifth of the toll from prescription-drug abuse, government data show.Joseph Rannazzisi, who runs the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Diversion Control, denied that the spike in arrests for prescription-drug misuse has affected their cost and driven users to heroin, saying street prices have been generally stable. “I don’t think one thing has anything to do with the other,” said Rannazzisi, who emphasized that the move against prescription pills saved many lives. The DEA is part of the Justice Department.Tristram Coffin, the U.S. attorney for Vermont, who has been a leader in the battle against prescription-drug abuse, also remains a staunch defender of that campaign. “Prescription drugs are incredibly addictive, incredibly lethal, and we had to deal with them,” he said.But Coffin acknowledged that the crackdown made some doctors reluctant to write prescriptions for pain medications. “That, in turn, causes people, because they have an opioid dependency, to turn to heroin,” he said.In 2010, Justice Department officials told The Washington Post that a federal probe of prescription-drug abuse in Northern Virginia, the nation’s largest such investigation at the time, had caused black market OxyContin prices to nearly double. Police and addiction treatment professionals in three states said last week that actions such as closures of “pill mills” that dispensed massive amounts of pharmaceuticals had made them harder to get, raising their price as demand outpaced supply.Still, “I can’t recall anyone at any point having a plan that would have limited the shift from prescription drugs to heroin,” said Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, a network of drug treatment centers.It was without controversy that the Food and Drug Administration approved OxyContin in 1995. The powerful drug was a godsend for millions of pain sufferers.Within a few years, however, authorities learned that addicts were crushing the time-release tablets and snorting or injecting them, leading to property crimes and overdose deaths.A crackdown began at the end of the Bill Clinton administration and escalated under the George W. Bush administration, which dispatched anti-drug agents and encouraged state monitoring programs that detect suspicious prescriptions. Federal arrests for illegal use of prescription drugs skyrocketed more than 900 percent between 2001 and 2007, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center.During the same period, federal heroin arrests fell 32 percent as heroin use was generally stable and even declined among adolescents, said the center’s reports, which cited DEA arrest data.Bush administration officials said they targeted the more pressing threat. “Oxy was extremely accessible,” said Paul McNulty, a former U.S. attorney in Alexandria, Va. and deputy attorney general. “At the same time, many of us involved in drug policy from the 1980s onward saw heroin on the decline for a long period.”Throughout the Bush administration and afterward, nearly every year between 2002 and 2011, the Justice Department’s drug intelligence arm warned that the crackdown could drive drug abusers to heroin.As early as 2003, the center said, some Oxy users were already making the switch. “Not only is heroin less expensive, but efforts to control the diversion of OxyContin may be reducing the availability of OxyContin in some areas,” it wrote that year. The concerns were echoed in congressional testimony starting in 2008, transcripts show.Michael Walther, the drug center’s former director, said the reports were read in advance by officials at the DEA and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.“It never crossed anyone’s mind that cracking down on Oxy would lead to an increase in heroin,” said one current federal official involved in drug enforcement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Used syringes are discarded at a needle exchange clinic where users can pick up new syringes and other clean items for those dependent on heroin, on Feb. 6, 2014 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFPWhen Obama took office, his administration also tackled the epidemic in front of it. “Prescription drugs were much more of a priority” than heroin, said Timothy Condon, who was a senior science policy adviser in the the Office of National Drug Control Policy in 2010 and 2011.As heroin use rose in recent years, the government began reacting. Since 2009, the DEA has widely circulated a slide called “circle of addiction” that shows the linkage between pain medications and heroin.Heroin-trafficking cases rose 52 percent between 2008 and 2012, federal data show. And the drug czar’s office, which has publicly warned about the link between prescription drugs and heroin for the past several years, has begun a number of anti-heroin initiatives. The administration supports the use of naloxone, an anti-overdose medicine, and drugs such as methadone that help ease heroin withdrawal.There’s no missing the toll of heroin anymore.“Heroin is taking up a lot more of our attention and time,” said Kerlikowske, who said other measures targeting heroin are in the works.Experts praised the recent steps but said they should have come much earlier. “The intent was good, but someone, somewhere, should have thought it through to say ‘now we’re going to have a flood of heroin overdoses,’ ” said Jim Takacs, executive director of the Licking County Alcoholism Prevention Program near Columbus, Ohio. He said the state’s recent crackdown on pill mills has driven the price of prescription medications “way up” and caused heroin abuse to spike.“They should have known,” Takacs said.© 2014, The Washington Post  Related posts:Former pot growers fueling the US heroin invasion Top medical experts say we should decriminalize all drugs and maybe go even further US drug czar approaches challenge from a different angle: as a recovering alcoholic White people are more likely to deal drugs in the US, but black people are more likely to get arrested for it Facebook Commentscenter_img WASHINGTON, D.C. – From the beginning, the U.S. government’s decade-long crackdown on abuse of prescription drugs has run an unsettling risk: that arresting doctors and shuttering “pill mills” would inadvertently fuel a new epidemic of heroin use.State and federal officials have pressed their campaign against prescription-drug abuse with urgency, trying to contain a scourge that kills more than 16,000 people each year. The crackdown has helped reduce the illegal use of some medications and raised awareness of their dangers.But at the same time that some pain medications have become less available on the street and pricier, many users have switched to cheaper heroin, since prescription pills and heroin are in the same class of drugs and provide a comparable euphoric high.With the nationwide heroin problem gaining greater attention after the recent death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from heroin and other drugs, experts on addiction say the government’s actions contributed to the problem it is now confronting. The war on drugs, they say, is an unwieldy conflict where targeting one illicit substance can be an unintentional boon to another.last_img read more

Lyric Company revives Biblical epic Nabucco

first_imgYou may have seen posters for “Nabucco,” the opera playing the next two weekends at the National Theater, produced by the National Lyric Company. Perhaps you saw the image of a golden lion and thought,That looks interesting. But what on earth is it about?The story concerns King Nebuchadnezzar II, the Babylonian king who scoffed at the Hebrew God and lost his mind for seven years. When you think of the Bible, he probably isn’t the first person to come to mind: Unlike more well-known figures, Nebuchadnezzar didn’t see burning bushes, he didn’t turn to salt, and he didn’t spend time inside a whale. His story of Bronze Age hubris is complicated, and even his name is hard to pronounce. So who would revisit this dusty episode in the Book of Daniel?Giuseppe Verdi, it turns out. The Italian composer was so taken with Nebuchadnezzar that he created a four-act opera in 1841, and the production basically sealed his reputation as one of the great masters of the 19th century. Indeed, “The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves” is among the most famous and beloved arias in operatic history. you’re trying epic opera for the first time, there are some things you should know: The performance is long (four acts) and gigantic (130 musicians and singers). The libretto is in Italian – like most traditional opera – but the action should be clear enough to follow. The Bronze Age costumes and scenery promise to be spectacular, making full use of the refurbished National Theater stage. (The National Theater was originally constructed in 1897 with the intention of presenting opera and other genres, and the Lyric Company has continued the tradition to this day).It’s not every day you get to see the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. This weekend, you’ll have that chance.“Nabucco” can be seen July 31–Aug. 10 at the National Theater, downtown San José. Thu. & Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m. ₡2,000-30,000 ($4-60). Info: National Theater website. Facebook Comments Related posts:A national festival, a grand old opera and other happenings around Costa Rica ‘Nabucco’ brings Verdi’s epic to life The Prague Ballet, an international blues festival, and other happenings around Costa Rica Final World Cup showdown, viral theater, and other happenings around Costa Ricalast_img read more

Is Honduras heading for the privatization of parts of its territory

first_imgWith just over 8.5 million people – some 60 percent of whom live below the poverty line – Honduras has one of the world’s most blatant levels of deficient citizen safety, reflected in the United Nations’ homicide estimate of approximately 90.4 per 100,000 citizens.Violence has dramatically worsened since a bloody June 2009 coup toppled President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, now an opposition congressman for the center-left Partido Libertad y Refundación (Libre), which he cofounded in 2009 following his return to Honduras from exile.Within this context, ZEDEs are officially portrayed as prosperity and safety islands within the country.According to the ZEDE official website, the zones “are designed to be the most competitive new jurisdictions in CAFTA space.”“The Honduran ZEDE considers four critical dimensions and addresses the legal, economic, administrative, and political (LEAP) factors that in the CAFTA region are vital for winning investment leadership,” it adds.This is “unlike traditional special zones that just address a single dimension by using only economic incentives,” it states.“The design of the Honduran ZEDE is to create an investment/employment jurisdiction that meets international standards for rule of law, efficiency, security, and transparency to a degree that surpasses any competing investment zone in the CAFTA region,” it points out. Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, left, talks with Costa Rica’s then-President Óscar Arias on July 9, 2009, in front of the latter’s residence in San José. Zelaya arrived to begin two days of tense mediated talks with his country’s interim leader following a coup. Mayela López/AFPAlso, “the advantage for Honduran workers is real,” because, “by building competitiveness across all the LEAP factors, the Honduran ZEDE avoids the “race to the bottom” that is driven by the lowest wage countries of Asia and Africa,” it assures.“Instead [it] adds greater value and security for investors seeking the most credible ‘near-shore’ production and employment platform in a new, first-class jurisdiction in the CAFTA region,” it further points out.“In addition to attractive, WTO-compliant [World Trade Organization] economic incentives, the Honduran ZEDE jurisdiction competes for world investment with additional advantages unique in the CAFTA region,” according to the information.These include “international legal standards, dispute resolution mechanisms and institutions, using Common Law, mandatory arbitration, and special judges,” adds the website.It offers “a 21st century, business-efficient, non-politicized, transparent, stable, system of administration, plus a special police and institutional security to overcome regional issues and meet world standards,” the website states.All of which is topped by “a distinguished 21-member international committee working to assure the adoption in the Honduran ZEDE of best international practices.”But the official picture painted about ZEDEs causes skepticism.Quoted last month by the U.S. magazine The New Republic, Eugenio Sosa, a sociologist with the public Autonomous National University of Honduras, said, “what’s attractive to some about the ZEDE is the extreme extent to which it takes freedom.”“But that’s the same part that will let in illicit groups and mafias,” he immediately warned.Also quoted by The New Republic, veteran Honduran journalist Sandra Maribel Sánchez assured that, “I’ve seen all sorts of horrific things in my time, but none as detrimental to the country as this.”And in Oliva’s view, ZEDEs are now a key national issue because “it’s the business, and it’s not anywhere they’re going to be built, but in key places with access to the sea, but the other thing is places where it’s known there’s oil.” Potential ZEDE locations. (Via, the ZEDE initiative “must go forward, because it’s the business of the year, not for the country’s development, because, on the contrary, a country handing out its territory in pieces, and building city enclaves with separate justice systems, and all else, is a country handing out its sovereignty,” she told NotiCen.“That goes against the people, but, yes, it’s going to benefit the commercial sector, those who have sold the country because they’ve seen it as a private business,” including “the president of the republic,” she added.“Those are the locals, the local negotiators, but all the others are international investors who are going to come and set up their ‘ciudades modelo’ because of the oil,” said Oliva, head of a human rights organization.And regardless “of whether you’ve owned the land for 30, 50 years, or whether you have ownership documents,” the ZEDE law “says that if there are owners, they’re going to be evicted if there’s an investor interested in that place,” she explained.Among the first to take an opposing stand, the rights group Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, or Ofraneh, warned last year, in an article posted on its website, against what it described as the prosperity illusion being created with the ZEDEs.“The Honduran people are susceptible to the illusion of job creation and economic growth,” it pointed out, and added that, “over the past several years handing territory over has been sold as attractive in order to bring in the necessary economic investment leading up to ‘development.’”Ofraneh is a Honduran Garífuna rights organization based in Sambo Creek, in northern Honduras.Meanwhile, the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is drafting a feasibility study to be presented to the Honduran government early this year, in what the Hernández administration considers the start of the building process for the first of the ZEDEs.KOICA is centering attention on three towns – Amapala, Alianza and Nacaome – in southern Honduras, in the Gulf of Fonseca region, on the Atlantic side of the country.With their borders coinciding in its waters, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua share the gulf.Amapala is an island town in the gulf; Alianza is a community close to the southern end of the Honduras-El Salvador Border; and Nacaome is the capital of the Valle department, bordering El Salvador. Facebook Comments Related posts:Honduras brings homicide rate down Miguel Facussé is dead: What does that mean for the people of Honduras? Uber gets $200 million for international expansion Obama, Castro hail ‘new day’ for US-Cuba relations Honduras, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, ridden by corruption, severely hit by violence, and showing some of the highest inequity levels in the region, seems on the verge of becoming the ground for a controversial experiment: the privatization of parts of its territory.All is set in Honduras for the building of the first private city in that Central American nation’s history, to begin perhaps as early as next year.Promoters of the enclaves called Employment and Economic Development Zones, or ZEDEs (Zonas de Empleo y Desarrollo Económico in Spanish), claim that through private investment – both foreign and local – in the zones, poverty will be reduced and security will improve.Opponents say that, on the contrary, the ZEDEs – which they deem, among other things, unconstitutional – will benefit only the Honduran wealthy elite, foreign investors, and organized crime, leaving the country’s dispossessed worse off.ZEDEs date back to 2011, when 126 of 128 lawmakers in the country’s single-chamber legislature passed a law creating Special Development Networks, or REDs, that are actual charter cities that locally came to be called “ciudades modelo,” or model cities.Then-President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo (2010-2014) and congressional head Juan Orlando Hernández – Lobo’s present successor (2014-2018) – described the initiative as a means to bring in an important flow of foreign investment, which in turn would guarantee development. Honduran First Lady Ana de Hernández straightens President Juan Orlando Hernández’s eyebrows while waiting for the arrival of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the presidential house in Tegucigalpa on Jan. 14, 2015. Orlando Sierra/AFPThe RED plan was immediately questioned by civil society sectors that saw the law as an instrument for the legalized sale of parts of their country’s territory – and, therefore, its sovereignty.They took their case to the Supreme Court, where they appealed the law as unconstitutional, and were backed in 2012 by four of the five magistrates in the court’s Constitutional Chamber, who ruled the law in effect went against the country’s constitution.According to local sources, Hernández – a staunch supporter of REDs, and now of ZEDEs – twisted arms, had the four judges removed, and brought in obedient replacements.JOH – as Hernández is known in Honduran media – then pushed for a new law, fine-tuning the original bill, re-labeling the RED as ZEDE, and passing it in Congress.Civil society sectors opposed the new law and again took their case to the Constitutional Chamber. But this time, the appeal was unanimously turned down last year.Honduran human rights activist Bertha Oliva told NotiCen, a publication of the University of New Mexico, that promoters of both REDs and ZEDEs “removed magistrates.”They “brought in people at that time obedient to the president of Congress, who now is the president of Honduras,” she told the publication of the university’s Latin America Data Base. Honduran peasants march to Tegucigalpa to demand the abolition of two laws – one promoting the mining industry and another allowing the creation of so-called “model cities,” on March 6, 2013. Orlando Sierra/AFPOne of many features of the ZEDEs that is targeted by opponents is the makeup of the authority in charge of the cities, the Committee for the Adoption of Best Practices, described by some as the zones’ central government.Known by its Spanish acronym CAMP, the committee has decision-making power on a variety of topics ranging from appointing a Honduran in each ZEDE as the zone’s technical secretary or administrator, to approving local regulations in the labor and legal fields.A striking feature of the CAMP is the fact that barely four of its 21 government-appointed members are Honduran, and the majority are conservative foreigners –including several U.S. nationals.Outstanding among the latter is Mark Klugmann, a political consultant who was a speechwriter for U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan (1981-1985, 1985-1989) and George H.W. Bush (1989-1993), as well as image consultant to Lobo.Klugmann, who resides in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, is co-chair of the CAMP.Other members include Reagan’s son Michael Reagan, former CIA economic analyst Mark Skousen, and ex-Chamber of Commerce Vice President Richard Kahn, who served in that position during the Reagan administration.last_img read more

Peru to create huge national park in Amazon basin

first_imgLIMA, Peru – Peru is creating a national park to protect a vast territory in the Amazon basin that is vulnerable to drug trafficking and illegal logging and mining, the country’s environment minister said Saturday.Called the Sierra del Divisor National Park, it covers an area of about 14,170 square kilometers (5,470 square miles) in a region inhabited by a variety of indigenous communities living in self-imposed isolation.Peru’s President Ollanta Humala will travel to the region Sunday to sign a decree creating the park, Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal said on his Twitter account.The park has an estimated 3,000 species of plants and animals, many of them found nowhere else in the world, according to the government.The announcement comes just three weeks ahead of a U.N. summit aimed at sealing a global pact on climate change.Advocates of the new park have said it will enable the capture of 150,000 tons of CO2, the equivalent of nearly 40 percent of Peru’s daily carbon output.Sierra del Divisor has been a protected zone since April 2006. Since then, the communities living there have lobbied for its designation as a national park to stiffen legal protections against encroachment by loggers, miners and drug traffickers.Sierra del Divisor is the second national park created since Humala took office in 2011, after the Gueppi National Park, a 6,260-square-kilometer expanse centered on the Gueppi River in southeastern Peru. Facebook Comments Related posts:Peru fights gold fever with fire and military force Even Brazil’s military may not be enough to protect an endangered Amazon tribe Community managed forests protect against climate change, study finds To conserve the Amazon, the forest must become an economic ‘asset’ “@MinamPeru Beautiful Sierra del Divisor National Park that President @Ollanta_HumalaT will create Tomorrow Nov 8th— Manuel Pulgar Vidal (@manupulgarvidal) November 7, 2015last_img read more

Costa Rican prosecutors raid Emergency Commission office

first_imgRead more about the #Cementazo: UPDATED: Court orders three months of prison for cement case detainees Related posts:Legislative committee requests ethics sanctions against Costa Rican president Prosecutors requests six months of prison for seven cement case detainees The real reason the ‘cementazo’ is so scary for Costa Rica – and so important Christiana Figueres: ‘Costa Rica is in danger of losing what it’s gained’ Legislative committee requests ethics sanctions against Costa Rican president How Costa Rica’s cement market became a hotbed of intrigue Facebook Comments The Costa Rican Prosecutor’s Office conducted a raid on Thursday of the offices of the National Emergency Commission (CNE) as part of the investigation of traffic of influences linked to the import of Chinese cement.Chief Prosecutor Emilia Navas explained that the goal of the operation, which was supported by the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ), was to search for evidence that two legislators pressured the CNE to grant three contracts to the companies of businessman Juan Carlos Bolaños during the administration of President Laura Chinchilla (2010–2014).Bolaños is at the center of a scandal that has shaken the Costa Rican political world. He allegedly exerted pressure and granted favors in exchange for the authorization to import Chinese cement with multi-million dollar loans from public banks that were not subject to the usual regulations.Police also raided the houses of the former legislators in question, Víctor Hugo Víquez of the National Liberation Party (PLN) and Walter Céspedes of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC).The Chief Prosecutor said that the two men may have used their position as legislators to help Bolaños’s obtain three public contracts from the CNE.Bolaños is being held in preventive prison along with six senior bank officials from the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) as part of the investigation.last_img read more

The Tico Times Weekly Digest Jan 28 2019

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica, EU and Latam contact group on Venezuela will meet Thursday The Tico Times Weekly Digest: Jan. 21, 2019. Europeans, Latin Americans to meet on Venezuela crisis Venezuelan diplomat in Costa Rica accuses Guaidó-appointed ambassador of usurping embassy Costa Rica recognizes Juan Guaidó as the interim President of Venezuela, Nicaragua continues to blame Costa Rica for clashes and more in this week’s digest.This week’s show was brought to you by Riverside Marketplace.——————————Featured News Stories——————————Costa Rica recognizes Juan Guaidó as President of Venezuela; Maduro severs ties with US, expels diplomats: Viejo Deep Dive – Speeding on Route 256 killing animals, reshaping mobility: Viejo Deep Dive – Costa Rica free from plastic: Rica reduces fiscal deficit more than anticipated: Rica proposes law to legalize (and tax) ride-hailing app Uber: – Proposed law a start, but “far from a proposal that encourages innovation:” the Eaten Path – Don Doner:——————————Follow The Tico Times:——————————Twitter:——————————–Support The Tico Times:——————————– Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Vice President Campbell discusses goal to defend the rights of all to

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:A graceful life: Jeannette Boyd Rodríguez and San José’s Afro-Costa Rican history Bernie Sanders’ CAFTA reversal pledge worries Costa Rica businesses A rare find: African voices in the Costa Rican National Archives Here’s how you can donate to Hurricane Otto relief in Costa Rica Costa Rica’s First Vice President, Epsy Campbell, spoke this week as a guest of honor at the Eighth Biennial Conference of the Jamaican Diaspora in Kingston.Campbell, the first female vice president of African descent in Latin America, recalled her grandmother’s efforts to provide a better life for her children.Here’s what she said, per a transcript from Casa Presidencial:Nearly 100 years ago, she crossed the sea with her father. In Jamaica were her mother and brothers. She was only 10 years old, but she already had the assignment to take care of the domestic chores while her father, a mechanical engineer, worked in the railroad in the Costa Rican Caribbean.My name is Epsy, like my grandmother, a brave black woman. I never met her, but my father told me beautiful stories and for me, Miss Epsy is one of the central pillars of my life.My grandmother left early every day to work in the fields and came back at night to do the jobs at home, day after day, day after day. She was the first person to get up and the last to go to bed. She worked tirelessly so that her children and grandchildren would not go through the same difficulties.Being the first is not easy, and nobody said it would be. But even in the most difficult moments of my political career, I had the memory of my grandmother, of my ancestors, of all those who worked in inhuman conditions, to create for us an easier path.Since I was a child I understood the power of my voice. That is why I have dedicated my whole life to defend the rights of all, to speak for those who are silent, for those who suffer, for those who are afraid.During her speech, Vice President Campbell called for building equitable, just and non-discriminatory societies.“For me, the seed of hope that is beginning to germinate are the younger people who raise their voices bravely, reminding even the oldest people to dream of a world full of opportunities,” she said.As part of her visit to Jamaica, Campbell met with the Caribbean country’s Security Minister to “discuss the serious situation of illicit drug and arms trafficking between Jamaica and Costa Rica,” according to Casa Presidencial.She will return to Costa Rica on Tuesday night.last_img read more

Some snapshots from election day in Mexico

first_img Parents, stop beating yourself up Sponsored Stories Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family 3 international destinations to visit in 2019center_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates ___In southern Chiapas state, nine people were arrested when they tried to cast fake ballots marked for Institutional Revolutionary Party presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto and the party’s candidate for governor, Manuel Velasco Coello.___At the Democratic Revolution Party’s party headquarters about 500 people showed support for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a man known to draw crowds in the hundreds of thousands. About five people held up signs calling the election a fraud. One sign read, “General Obrador, I am ready for the revolution!”(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 Comments   Share   MEXICO CITY (AP) – Pouring rain and the European Championship soccer final kept voters away from the polls early in the day in Mexico’s capital, but the return of the sun and Spain’s victory over Italy brought people out and long lines formed at voting centers later Sunday.___As in past elections, voters outside the cities where they were registered to vote had to spend hours waiting to cast ballots at special stations. With each special station having only 750 presidential ballots each, hundreds of people were left unable to vote. Dozens of Mexicans denied ballots protested outside the Federal Electoral Institute chanting, “We want to vote!”last_img read more

South African woman to lead African Union

first_img 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Quick workouts for men “There will be more accountability, there will be more fast-tracking of decisions taken by the heads of state,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.That meant spending more time taking action on decisions instead of just making more wordy resolutions, she told the South African Broadcasting Corp.The independent South African Medical Association noted that Dlamini Zuma, a medical doctor, pursued excellence in all the duties she undertook. As well as being a champion of peace and democracy, it said she fought hunger and poverty and was ready to address continent-wide health issues such as high levels of maternal and child mortality.South African Foreign Ministry official Clayson Monyela hailed the summit vote as a triumph for diplomacy that put an end to the long wrangle between member states over the post.At the last summit in January, there was no outright winner in the vote and Ping stayed on until the latest Addis Ababa meeting. African Union chairman President Boni Yayi of Benin said Sunday that the last inconclusive vote had painted the continental organization in a poor light. He acknowledged it hurt the image of the body as a peacemaker and mediator in a range of wars, military take-overs and other disputes across the continent. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Associated PressJOHANNESBURG (AP) – The continent-wide African Union elected a female politician from South Africa for the first time as head of its commission, officials said Monday.South African Minister of Home Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was voted in late Sunday to lead the African Union’s permanent commission of leaders, administrators and technical experts.Dlamini-Zuma successfully challenged the incumbent, Jean Ping of Gabon, who held the post since 2008. Ping had the backing of French-speaking African nations, while Dlamini-Zuma had the backing of English-speaking nations. The 63-year-old is the first female to hold the leadership position and the first South African. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familycenter_img Dlamini-Zuma, in a transcript of a media interview released by her office on Saturday, conceded there were divisions over the commission chair and South Africa’s role in campaigning for it, but described herself as a citizen of Africa who wanted to make a `’humble contribution” to the continent.Asked what she would bring to the AU Commission she referred to her medical background.`’Like a doctor, you first diagnose and then you treat. I will have to take it from there,” she said.The AU heads of state and government two-day assembly closes later Monday.___Associated Press reporter Kirubel Tadesse in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Dlamini-Zuma, who is also the former wife of South African President Jacob Zuma, secured the votes of 37 of the 54 African Union member nations to narrowly win the two-thirds majority required at a summit of leaders in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.Her election was seen as a major coup for South Africa as it tries to emerge as a political and economic powerhouse on the continent.The Women’s League of South Africa’s governing African National Congress party said it was “beaming with pride” over one of its members election and described it as a victory for women across Africa, for long the victims of poverty, prejudice and oppression.“Her deep understanding of the dynamics of Africa will inspire unity and stability across the continent,” the group said.The main ANC party said Monday that Dlamini-Zuma, a seasoned diplomat and politician, would be a loss to the nation’s government but now had answered “a higher calling” to serve the entire continent. The commission’s main mission to drive African integration and development would be better served under her able leadership, party leaders said in a statement.South Africa’s International Affairs and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said Dlamini-Zuma held strong beliefs in strengthening democracy, the rule of law and unity among African states. Sponsored Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Top Stories Comments   Share   last_img

Webcam update Moira signs job contract

first_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Moira has expressed concern about a racist tide submerging Europe, but has not herself encountered discrimination in employment. In her first job, Moira will be helping to create online games for a blog and tracking social networks.“I’m pretty excited about it,” says Moira.Moira is also apartment-hunting with two roommates, remaining optimistic while worried about Paris’ sky-high rents.___Next up … Lutz___Follow The Class of 2012 on the AP Big Story page: The Class of 2012 on Twitter:!/AP/class-of-2012 Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   PARIS (AP) – After summer break in Greece, it’s back to real life for Moira Koffi.She’s starting off the season on a high: Moira just signed her first job contract at the public relations firm where she’s been doing an internship.___This is an update of Class of 2012, the AP’s yearlong exploration of Europe’s economic crisis through the eyes of five young graduates.___Moira’s breakthrough contrasts with the frustrations of a fellow Sorbonne graduate with African roots, Jacinthe Adande, profiled in the AP Class of 2012’s latest news feature, about discrimination. Four years after graduating, Adande is still looking for a job and fears entrenched discrimination in France’s job market is holding her back. Quick workouts for men Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous oflast_img read more

Nigerian police arrest 100 in separatists march

first_img 0 Comments   Share   Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) – Police in southeast Nigeria say they arrested about 100 separatists who were marching and waving the flag of the failed breakaway Republic of Biafra.Police spokesman Ebere Amaraizu said the arrests happened early Monday as unarmed members of the Biafra Zionist Movement marched near Enugu city.The spokesman said the marchers carried the rising sun flags of the Biafran republic and wore military-style berets and armbands. He said he did not know what charges the men would face. Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Sponsored Stories center_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The difference between men and women when it comes to pain In 2011, a similar march saw participants face treason charges that were later dismissed.The Republic of Biafra declared its independence from Nigeria in 1967. That sparked a civil war that killed 1 million people and nearly tore the oil-rich nation apart.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Top Stories last_img read more

Report Iranian Guard commander killed in Syria

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Sponsored Stories Top Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sobercenter_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Last year, Guard chief commander Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said the unit had high-level advisers in Syria but it has denied it has fighters there.Assad is from the Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Iran is majority Shiite. Syria’s rebels are mostly Sunni.(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 Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency says a commander in its powerful Revolutionary Guard has been killed in Syria.The agency said Monday that Mohammad Jamali was killed by “terrorists” a few days ago but didn’t provide details. It said his funeral will be held in Kerman in southeastern Iran on Tuesday.Iran is one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s main allies. Tehran has provided his government with military and political backing for years and has kept up its support since the uprising there began in March 2011.last_img read more

Spain to raise minimum marriage age from 14 to 16

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Spain has one of Europe’s lowest minimum ages for marriage in the EU, with most members setting it at 16.Ana Sastre of Save the Children in Spain, which supports the change, said the proposal came after United Nations experts in 2010 urged Spain to address the matter.The change will affect few. The National Statistics Institute says six 14-year-olds — two boys and four girls — got married in the first six months of 2014, while just one girl of 14 got married the previous year.“Fundamentally it’s a measure of protection to avert possible forced marriages, sexual exploitation or offenses against children, especially girls,” Sastre said.Ana Berrocal, civil law professor at Madrid’s Complutense University, said the change was necessary given that Spain, acting on another U.N. recommendation and pressure from child protection groups, recently raised the minimum age for consent to sexual relations from 13 to 16.Javier Fajardo, law professor at the University of Navarra, said Spain’s low age limits were not unusual given that, in the past, most of Europe allowed marriage once a person could have children.“Today a person of 14 is seen as still a child while a century ago they could have been the head of a family, responsible and working,” he said. Comments   Share   Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The vital role family plays in society Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Men’s health affects baby’s health too Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility MADRID (AP) — Spain is moving to raise the minimum age for marriage from 14 to 16 in a bid to boost protection of minors and bring the country in line with its European Union neighbors.The legislation was approved by the lower house of Parliament last month and was sent to the Senate on Friday for debate and likely approval over the coming months.Spanish law allows boys and girls to marry at 14 with permission from a judge. Without such consent, they must wait until they are 18. 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

Liberia cautiously marks end of Ebola after 4700 deaths

first_imgAnd medical study this week found Ebola inside the eye of a patient months after the virus was gone from his blood. Tears and tissue around the outside of the eye, though, did not. That suggests it poses little public health risk, experts said.It’s been nearly a year since Korlia Bonarwolo helped care for a co-worker at Redemption Hospital who later died from Ebola. The physician’s assistant had no protective suit and no special gloves.The 26-year-old ultimately got treatment in the country’s first Ebola treatment center and now leads a network of more than 800 survivors across Liberia. He too was marking Saturday cautiously.“We should instead be happy in our hearts,” said Bonarwolo, “and pray for the other countries to be freed.”___Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement At the height of the crisis back in August and September, Saturday’s milestone seemed far from reach. Liberia had between 300 and 400 new cases every week. People pushed victims in wheelbarrows down the streets of Monrovia, with only cheap plastic bags to protect their sandaled feet from possible exposure to Ebola. Scores of people too sick to stand waited outside Ebola treatment centers with the hope that enough people had died overnight so there would be beds for them and a chance at life.The disastrous epidemic in Monrovia and the capitals of Guinea and Sierra Leone marked the first time the Ebola virus had infiltrated major urban areas where it could spread quickly through densely populated, impoverished neighborhoods. The outbreak caused its first deaths in December 2013 but only made headlines in March 2014 in Guinea before soon spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone.Worldwide panic heightened in late September when a man from Liberia tested positive for Ebola in the United States while visiting relatives in Texas. The disease also broke out in Senegal, Mali and Nigeria where officials managed to quickly isolate and quash their Ebola cases but the virus became deeply entrenched particularly in Liberia’s capital. Ultimately, social mobilization helped turn the tide. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober “Communities here did the right thing: They isolated people who were sick, they reported people who were sick. Every street corner had stations for washing hands, and this made a difference,” Yett said.Many of the treatment centers built with help from the United States finished construction after the height of the epidemic — some of the tarp and wood constructed facilities will be repurposed but many will be taken down. Communities scarred by the looming threat of death can’t imagine visiting them even months later, even if the clinics never treated a single Ebola case, experts say.“Even today (when) we hear an ambulance siren, we have to shake a little bit, seeing if this normal or are we facing something again,” Liberia’s president said recently at an event marking the end of an American-built Ebola treatment center for exposed health workers.There are also concerns about the long-term effects on survivors, including questions about how long the virus remains present in the body. On Friday, WHO updated advice and testing guidelines for male survivors of Ebola because of the “strong possibility” that the virus could be spread through sex months later. The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Now seven months later, Liberia on Saturday officially marked the end of the epidemic that claimed more than 4,700 lives here, and Mercy is thriving in the care of a family friend not far from where she used to live.“What we went through here was terrifying,” said Martu Weefor, 39, who is now raising Mercy alongside her three biological children and Mercy’s older brother. “Nobody wanted to pass on our road or have anything to do with us, everybody was afraid of the community. I thank God that Liberia is free from Ebola.”Saturday marks 42 days since Liberia’s last Ebola case — the benchmark used to declare the outbreak over because it represents two incubation periods of 21 days for new cases to emerge. The World Health Organization on Saturday called the milestone a “monumental achievement for a country that reported the highest number of deaths in the largest, longest, and most complex outbreak since Ebola first emerged in 1976.”The statistics of loss, though, are enormous in Liberia: 189 health workers dead. Some 3,290 children lost one or both parents to the disease, though most have been placed with other relatives or in foster care. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies While praising the international community’s help in getting Liberia to zero cases, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Saturday criticized the slow initial response to the epidemic in West Africa that cost many lives.“This Ebola outbreak is a scar on the conscience of the world. For some the pain and grief will take a generation to heal,” she said. “Therefore, let today’s announcement be a call to arms that we will build a better world for those Ebola could not reach … It is the least the memories of our dearly departed deserve.”Elsewhere in West Africa, new cases were still being reported this week in both Sierra Leone and in Guinea, where five of the new victims were only diagnosed after death. The fact they had never even sought treatment for Ebola means health officials lost critical time to track their relatives and other contacts.“It’s important to remember the next case is only a canoe ride away across the river or across a forest path, so we still have an element of risk here and we all need to be very conscious of that,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF’s Representative in Liberia, who emphasized that the recovery needs also remain enormous.center_img The vital role family plays in society Comments   Share   Top Stories Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — On the day Mercy Kennedy lost her mother to Ebola, it was hard to imagine a time when Liberia would be free from one of the world’s deadliest viruses. It had swept through the 9-year-old’s neighborhood, killing people house by house.Neighbors were so fearful that Mercy, too, might be sick that no one would touch her to comfort her as tears streamed down her face. She had only a tree to lean on as she wept.last_img read more