The conviction of U.S. Army private Bradley Manning on espionage charges Tuesday makes it increasingly likely that the United States will prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a co-conspirator, according to his attorney and other civil liberties groups.Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, found Manning guilty of several violations of the Espionage Act, and he could face life in prison. Press freedom advocates said the verdict adds to their alarm that the Obama administration’s aggressive pursuit of leakers will discourage whistleblowers from providing critical information on military and intelligence matters.Military prosecutors in the court martial portrayed Assange as an “information anarchist” who encouraged Manning to leak hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents. And they insisted that the anti-secrecy group cannot be considered a media organization that published the leaked information in the public interest.“[Defense lawyers denied] the claim that Bradley Manning was acting under the direction of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, but the government kept trying to bring that up, trying to essentially say that Julian was a co-conspirator,” said Michael Ratner, Assange’s U.S. attorney and the president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. “That’s a very bad sign about what the U.S. government wants to do to Julian Assange.”A grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks is ongoing, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. But is unclear if any sealed indictments exist and whether Assange has been charged.“Either there [are] charges already, which I think is very possible, or they now have this and they can say they have one part of the conspiracy,” said Ratner.While Manning was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, he was only the second person to be convicted of violating the Espionage Act during the Obama administration.Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, agreed that Manning’s conviction on espionage charges brought Assange “one step closer” to being prosecuted. But he added that “charging a publisher of information under the Espionage Act would be completely unprecedented and put every decent national security reporter in the U.S. at risk of jail, because they also regularly publish national security information.”The government appeared to be at pains during the trial to describe WikiLeaks as an activist organization. U.S. officials have also pointed to the group’s role in helping National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden get from Hong Kong to Moscow as far beyond what a traditional media organization would do.There are still major hurdles to prosecuting Assange, not least because he fled to the Embassy of Ecuador in London when he was facing extradition to Sweden to be questioned in connection with allegations of sexual assault. Assange, who has since been given political asylum by Ecuador, has now been in the embassy for more than a year. There is still a Swedish warrant for his arrest.Some activists expressed relief that the government had failed to make its case that Manning had aided the enemy because al-Qaida was able to access classified material once it was posted by WikiLeaks.Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon Papers, an official history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, said that Manning not being convicted on the aiding the enemy charge meant that “American democracy had dodged a bullet.” Ellsberg said there was a “very serious prospect” that such a conviction would have deterred “nearly all sources of newspapers for investigative reporting.”However, Timm said the acquittal was merely a “sliver of good news” because the use of the Espionage Act would still act as a significant brake on potential whistleblowers who might be motivated to expose wrongdoing or spark public debate.Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said those “precedent-setting” convictions are particularly significant because the judge “held that subjective motive was irrelevant.”“We’re seeing a trend towards motive not mattering in espionage cases and that will have very serious implications for would-be whistleblowers,” she said, adding that it will have a “substantial chilling effect.”Goitein suggested the effect of the Obama administration’s efforts to crack down on whistleblowing “may be skewing the leaks that we are seeing towards the more dramatic and large scale. Because the only people who are going to be willing to take that risk are people who are on a personal crusade.”© 2013, The Washington Post Facebook Comments No related posts.
“These days, our lives take place inside our houses,” said Franz González, wielding a paintbrush. “We’re trying to get people involved out here.”González, a resident of the Freses neighborhood in the eastern Central Valley canton of Curridabat, was decorating a table at the inauguration of a new park featuring an organic garden, colorful mural and recycled electrical-wire spools used as stools. Around him, his neighbors and other visitors were chatting, listening to live music and lining up at a San José novelty: The park includes space for a food truck, which on inauguration day belonged to the popular Guayabos eatery Go Fish but will rotate among various restaurants in the future.The Feb. 20 event seemed at first glance like a pretty typical, if particularly vibrant, neighborhood get-together. However, a closer look and a chat with the organizers revealed that months of planning, a wide range of stakeholders, and ambitious, innovative visions of city life were all at play in the small space, bordered on one side by train tracks and on the other by the Scott Pearl Izumi Reference Center, a bike shop which sponsored the lighting and security for the park.“We have a larger project, an umbrella of sorts, called Ciudad Dulce (Sweet City), whose goal is to bring conservation into the city,” Curridabat Mayor Edgar Mora explained as a guitarist crooned some Stone Temple Pilots in the background. “We want every private garden in Curridabat to be full of color, every street a biological corridor, every neighborhood an ecosystem. We’re reintroducing native species … and [seeking to attract] tropical bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.”Mora, of the local Curridabat 21st Century Party, was re-elected as mayor during Costa Rica’s municipal elections on Feb. 7, and is now preparing for his third term in office. So soon after extensive, election-inspired discussion nationwide of more mundane details of municipal life – trash pickup, road maintenance, property taxes – it was almost disorienting to hear a mayor say he’s working to “see our city from a bees-eye view.” It’s all part of Curridabat’s ambitious city plan, which won the Best City Plan award from the U.S. nonprofit Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) in 2014.The mayor, who studied at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government through an Ash Fellowship in 2013-2014, said that implementing the plan and truly placing nature at the center of municipal life will require changes in everything from building materials to public infrastructure. This “will take a long time, but this is a community that’s ready to take on the challenge.”An organization playing a key role in supporting the municipality’s goals is A-01, a sustainable development organization co-founded and led by Dutch anthropologist Marije van Lidth de Jeude and German architect Oliver Schütte. Recent projects in which they have been involved include the BicipubliCartago initiative and a recycling center on Isla Chira in the Gulf of Nicoya. In Curridabat, where van Lidth and Schütte reside, they run the Popular School of Urbanism (PSU), a pilot program that guides neighborhood leaders through the nuts and bolts of local development while introducing them to various theories of urbanism. The school is supported by the municipality and the Chicago-based Graham Foundation.Van Lidth de Jeude explained that they start simple, walking around the neighborhood with its residents and hearing their concerns and hopes. They then help put together a plan to make it all happen, working closely with the municipality, area businesses, universities and other key players. A-01, in partnership with the mayor, has worked with two Curridabat neighborhoods thus far, and is already branching out into more of the canton’s barrios.In Freses, their work with the Neighbors’ Association led directly to the park, which was designed and created by the residents themselves.Schütte said he welcomes a shift towards services to the community and projects on a neighborhood scale instead of focusing only on large-scale urban development, and that the Freses park represents what a community can do for itself by getting a wide variety of organizations involved. He noted that the Freses project was almost too successful – at one point the neighborhood association planned a food-truck festival to launch the park, but the response on Facebook was so massive (to the tune of 5,000 “may attends”) that they chose to cancel that aspect of the event. The goal for the neighbors is a local, sustainable, manageable project that they feel comfortable with, he said.Mayor Mora says the key to the change he hopes to see is “trusting in our people.”“We know that in Curridabat people want to get involved, but they want to get involved by doing something real,” he said. “Not just going to meetings.”To learn more about the Popular School of Urbanism, visit the A-01 Facebook page. For more on the Freses park, including upcoming events and food-truck plans, visit the neighborhood association’s Facebook page. A laid-back, breezy Saturday. (Courtesy A-01) The mural took shape throughout the day. (Courtesy of A-01) Neighbors lingered into the night. (Courtesy of A-01) Facebook Comments Related posts:The best and worst of Costa Rica in 2014, according to everyone else Costa Rica says it will support new shark protections despite agreements with fishermen Supreme Court rules prison sentences in animal welfare bill unconstitutional Costa Rica’s shark conservation record is a ‘mixed bag,’ observers say
Related posts:Costa Rica’s Nery Brenes qualifies for 200-meter dash in Olympics with new national record Olympic Update: Costa Rica still in search of defining moment in Rio WATCH: Costa Rican sprinter Nery Brenes sets new personal record in 400-meter dash victory Complete guide to Costa Rica’s 2016 Olympic athletes and events Costa Rica’s Olympic highlight finally came in Rio, better late than never.Sprinter Nery Brenes ran a time of 20.20 seconds in the first round of the 200-meter dash Tuesday to win his heat and set the all-time Costa Rican record. Brenes now classifies for the semifinals, where he could find himself up against the sport’s greatest figure, Usain Bolt.The 29-year-old Olympic veteran Brenes was on a rampant pace coming into these Summer Games, and earlier qualified for the semifinals of his preferred race, the 400-meter dash. However, Brenes came in sixth place in his semifinal heat and failed to qualify for the final.Brenes’ qualifying time Tuesday in the 200-meter was actually .08 seconds faster than Bolt, who just won gold in the 100-meter dash for the third consecutive time in the Olympics, although the Jamaican star seemed to bring himself to a jog well before the finish line.Brenes, who’s from Limón, had the eighth fastest time of any runner in the 200-meter in Tuesday’s qualifying heats.Up against the world’s best sprinters in the semifinals, Brenes will need to shave about .20 seconds from his Tuesday time to have a shot at qualifying for the 200-meter finals.The first of the three semifinal heats begins Wednesday at 7 p.m. Costa Rica time. Facebook Comments
Jonathan Jiménez (jjimenezfl) shared this image with us on the morning of Good Friday: the windows at the Parroquía de Nuestra Señora de Pilar in Tres Ríos, just east of San José.All the best to our readers who are observing Holy Week or taking in the sights and sounds of processions and services around Costa Rica today.Would you like to submit a photo to our #TTPicOfTheDay series – the view from your home or favorite Costa Rican spot, or any other image you care to share? Please send horizontal photos at least 1100 pixels wide to email@example.com. We’d love to see the sights with you. Facebook Comments Related posts:Deadly beauty To the streets we go, bearing lanterns Go, Jason, go! Not too shabby
Facebook Comments Related posts:New poll in Costa Rica: another small Fabricio lead, another statistical dead heat Evangelical Alliance lawyer: Costa Rica should reduce limits on religious propaganda The heart of Fabricio Alvarado, part IV: ‘Incorruptible people’ Costa Rican elections combine close polls, vastly different positions Music has been at the center of Fabricio Alvarado’s life: he learned to play the guitar in his childhood, and went on to become a popular singer within Costa Rica’s evangelical community. Today, he is using the microphone for a different purpose: as a presidential candidate in Costa Rica, representing a party born out of the Pentecostal movement.Running for the conservative National Restoration Party (PRN), linked to the country’s Neo-Pentecostal churches, Fabricio Alvarado is neck-and-neck in the polls coming up to tomorrow’s elections against Carlos Alvarado (no family relationship).Fabricio Alvarado, 43, is a journalist and evangelical preacher who until now was best known for more than a decade’s work as a TV reporter, and then for his term as a member of the Legislative Assembly, representing the PRN. He resigned that seat to dedicate himself to the presidential campaign. VIDEO: Will Costa Rica recognize this same-sex marriage? The heart of Fabricio Alvarado, part I: Pocora, Limón Married to Laura Moscoa and with two small daughters, Alvarado comes from a middle class household led his mother, Dulce María Muñoz, after his parents separated.With a smooth, emotional speaking style, Alvarado has traveled the country giving his message of “manos limpias” (“clean hands”), seeking to create a contrast between himself and his opponent’s Citizen Action Party (PAC), which has seen several members become embroiled in a high-profile corruption scandal over the past year.His success in the current election cycle was unexpected, as was his entry into Costa Rican politics as a legislative candidate for the PRN in 2014.‘I was not going to be a candidate’Alvarado said in an interview with the TV network Teletica that he became a legislative candidate for his party in 2014 after the previous candidate withdrew from the race one week before the party convention.“I was not going to be a candidate of anything,” recognized Alvarado, who says he accepted his party’s invitation to jump into the race “after consulting God, my wife and my pastor”.With no academic degree or political experience aside from his incomplete legislative term, Alvarado has shot back at critics who point to his lack of capacity to govern, repeating in debates that “people with experience have left us with bad experiences. I fully trust God, and if I’ve gotten here, it’s because I am capable.”Attracted to TV in his adolescence, he began studying communication at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), though he did not graduate.It was television that made him into a known figure in the country, as a news reporter and news presenter for the Repretel network. Inter-American Court endorses same-sex marriage; Costa Rica reacts While in high school, he experienced the most traumatic moment of his life with the separation of his parents, which the candidate remembers as “a violent separation with agressions between them.” He says this affected his self-esteem for years.Alvarado says that in 2003, as a TV journalist, he was able to overcome the trauma of that separation when he joined the evangelical Ríos de Alabanza church and received “counseling and healing” that allowed him to approach his father, from whom he had distanced himself after the separation.In that church he met Laura Moscoa, whom he’d marry on a special date: July 7, 2007, chosen because seven is considered a Biblical number of perfection.Two years after journalism he turned away from full-time journalism work to dedicate himself to Christian music and preaching. However, he continued doing some independent communications work, and was hired by the PRN to produce promotional videos.The party later recruited him for a bigger role as their 2014 legislative and 2018 presidential candidate.Sociologist and theologian Alberto Rojas, from the National University (UNA), says that the founder of the PRN, the evangelical pastor and former legislative representative Carlos Avendaño, saw political potential in Alvarado.“Fabricio was born in politics because of Carlos Avendaño,” Rojas told AFP.His presidential candidacy, the party’s first, was originally intended to help the group increase its number of seats in the 57-member legislature. (On Feb. 4, it did just that, electing 14 legislators instead of just one in the previous period; that presidential candidate also topped a field of 13 to make it through to the second round.)Rojas says that from the start of the campaign, Alvarado performed better than previous evangelical candidates, polling at four to five percent when no evangelical candidate had ever reached two percent.However, his real rise in the polls would take place after gay marriage became the focus of the campaign in early January.Alvarado recognizes that his threat to withdraw Costa Rica from the San José-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in retaliation for its ruling in favor of same-sex marriage was the factor that boosted him to the top of the polls.“The ruling from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights was a breaking point, and it would be shabby not to recognize it,” Alvarado said. “But it also benefited the government’s party.”
Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) told The Tico Times this afternoon that the German tourist who disappeared from Montezuma, on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, on May 3 has not yet been found and that a number of phone tips have led to dead ends.“There are no indications of her location,” OIJ Officer Gabriel Jiménez, of the OIJ’s Cóbano branch, told The Tico Times by phone. “Various reports that she has been seen in different locations have been disproved.”Gerlinde Hahne, 75, went for a walk on the afternoon of May 3 in the community of Delicias and has not been seen since.Jiménez said that one report yesterday led officials to investigate a potential sighting in the city of Puntarenas, but to no avail.“It was a 31-year-old homeless person of Canadian origin,” he said.People who have information about Hahne’s whereabouts are asked to contact the OIJ at 2642-0480 or 800-8000-645. Jiménez said either number can accommodate callers who speak English and not Spanish.Below is a flyer circulated in Montezuma, courtesy of the Facebook group Montezuma Costa Rica. A flyer circulating in Montezuma. From the Montezuma Costa Rica Facebook group / Dagmar Spremberg Facebook Comments Related posts:Iconic Costa Rican high school suspends classes following student’s death A second round, Holy Sunday and the poor electoral menu Recent polls: Four candidates are vying for a Costa Rican runoff PHOTOS: Nicaraguans in Costa Rica gather to support their country during hard times
(AP) – Three years after France’s worst air crash, government investigators on Thursday released a final report on the accident that paints a vivid picture of pilots who, confused by faulty air-speed data during a thunderstorm, struggled to save the jet but wound up causing it to stall and plunge into the Atlantic Ocean. All 228 people aboard were killed.Key moments of the flight as outlined in the final report by the French air accident investigation agency: Top Stories Sponsored Stories 2:14 a.m. and 17 seconds _ A crash warning system begins to continuously sound, first alerting “sink rate, sink rate” and then “pull up, pull up.”2:14 a.m. and 28 seconds _ The crash warnings stop. The plane slams into the ocean belly first.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Men’s health affects baby’s health too Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist The crew doesn’t disconnect the flight director _ the computer system that manages flight information _ in order to fly manually. Flying manually and continuing to fly levelly in the same direction at the same speed would have been the correct response, safety experts would say later.2:10 a.m. and 16 seconds _ The co-pilot not flying says, “We’ve lost the speeds.” The pilot flying struggles to keep the plane from rolling while sharply increasing its pitch upwards. The plane’s computers spit out warning messages, which the pilot not flying reads out in a disorganized manner. He says the plane is climbing and several times asks the pilot flying to descend. If a plane is about to stall, pilots are supposed to point the aircraft downward to pick up speed in order to regain control. The pilot flying makes several nose-down inputs that decrease the up angle of the plane and its climbing speed, but the plane _ then at about 37,000 feet _ continues to climb.2:10 a.m. and 36 second _ The speed information on the left cockpit flight display becomes valid again, showing a speed of 223 knots, although the speed on the standby system is still erroneous. The plane has lost about 50 knots since the autopilot disconnected and the plane began to climb. The speed on the left side was incorrect for 29 seconds. The plane appears to briefly level off and stop rolling, but then begins to climb again. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths 2:10 a.m. and 50 seconds _ The pilot not flying calls the captain several times. As he calls, the stall warning is triggered again and continues to sound. The pilot flying makes more nose-up inputs. Airspeed drops to 185 knots and is displayed correctly on both the left, right and standby cockpit displays.2:11 a.m. and 37 seconds _ The pilot who had not been flying the plane takes the controls with little warning, but the pilot who had been flying almost immediately takes back control. A few seconds later the captain re-enters the cockpit. All recorded speeds become invalid and the stall warning stops after having sounded continuously for 54 seconds. The pilot flying makes another nose-up input, which lasts about 30 seconds.2:12 a.m. and 2 seconds _ The pilot flying says, “I have no more displays,” while the pilot not flying says, “We have no valid indications.” About 15 seconds later, the pilot flying then tries to point the nose down. The angle at which the plane is pointed begins to lower, the speed information becomes valid on the displays again and the stall warnings begin to sound again.2:13 a.m. and 32 seconds _ The pilot flying notes that the plane is losing altitude. Fifteen seconds later, both he and the other co-pilot simultaneously try to send flight instructions to the plane’s computers. The pilot flying then tells the other co-pilot, “Go ahead, you have the controls.” Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates 0 Comments Share More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements The vital role family plays in society May 31, 200910 p.m. GMT_ 216 passengers and 12 crew members _ including three pilots _ have boarded the Air France flight 447 in Rio de Janeiro. The computers of the Airbus A330 have been programmed for the flight to Paris.10:29 p.m._ Flight 447 takes off. A co-pilot, rather than the captain, is flying.June 1, 2009Midnight_ The plane is cruising at 35,000 feet. The autopilot and autothrust are on.1:35 a.m._ The plane makes its last radio contact with Brazilian air traffic control. Attempts to make contact with air traffic control in Dakar, Senegal, fail.1:45 a.m. _ The plane enters a slightly turbulent zone. A co-pilot notes that they are “entering the cloud layer” and that it would have been better if they had been able to climb higher.2 a.m. _ The captain attends a briefing between the two co-pilots. The turbulence has stopped, but the pilots anticipate more ahead. The captain then leaves the cockpit.2:10 a.m. and 5 seconds _ The autopilot and then the autothrust suddenly disconnect. The co-pilot flying the plane says, “I have the controls.” As the plane begins to roll right, he points the noise up while trying at the same time to counter the roll. A stall warning is triggered briefly twice. Data retrieved by crash investigators indicates that speed information visible to pilots on the left cockpit display erroneously shows the speed has dropped sharply from 275 knots to 60 knots _ too slow a speed to fly. That’s also what’s displayed on a standby instrument system. The information on the right cockpit display is unknown.
Comments Share Most people-to-people trips have a themed itinerary like music or food. Some are offered by large travel companies, others by small nonprofits. I joined 21 artists, writers, filmmakers and photographers on a trip organized by a small group from Minnesota that traveled to four cities: Havana, Bayamo, colonial Holguin, and Santiago de Cuba, home of Cuba’s historic summer carnival, birthplace of Cuban musical legends and gravesite of national hero Jose Marti.People-to-people tours are not typical vacations. Structured itineraries include daily meetings with government-sponsored organizations and tours of schools and other institutions. Some meals were in dreary government cafeterias, but we also ate well in paladars, which are intimate restaurants in private homes. You’re not supposed to spend the day at the beach the way Canadian and European tourists do, but we did get some free time, and occasionally participants ditched the schedule to explore on their own.Our program included sightseeing and encounters with artists, writers and filmmakers, but politics was never far away. Political billboards are everywhere in Cuba, on roads, streets and in classrooms and even hand-painted on private homes, and many pay homage to Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, the Argentine revolutionary who helped Castro take power in 1959. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Sponsored Stories Top Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths But no effort was made to shield us from unpleasant realities, like the sight of crumbling buildings or women begging for money to buy milk for their children. And the tours do guarantee opportunities to meet ordinary Cubans, whose warmth, friendliness and outgoing nature leap across the boundaries imposed by the decades-long political cold-shoulder between the U.S. and their tropical island nation. When we asked about censorship and other sensitive issues, they sometimes turned our questions around to point out inconsistencies in our own government. But they also acknowledged everyday hardships, like struggling to feed their families and coping with shortages. Those connections created a travel experience that surpassed my expectations, offering glimpses of ordinary life that tourists don’t often experience.Here is a gallery of photos from the tour.(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 More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Associated PressHAVANA (AP) – Girls dressed in ruffled layers for a quinceanera. American cars, from the Eisenhower era, in tropical colors. A hand-hewn carousel with peeling paint. Young fans cheering at a baseball game.These are some of the scenes of everyday life I observed on a recent people-to-people tour of Cuba. These tours allow Americans to travel to Cuba as long as they go with a group licensed by the U.S. government to provide a “full-time schedule of educational activities.” (The U.S. government forbids unrestricted travel to Cuba, but in addition to people-to-people tours, travel is permitted for certain other groups, including Americans with relatives there, religious organizations and academics.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family 4 must play golf courses in Arizona 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean
5 ways to recognize low testosterone Top Stories Comments Share Sponsored Stories Egypt and the World Bank agreed on the loan in late June and signed it in Cairo on Tuesday.The World Bank says the loan is meant to encourage local community participation in projects to enhance water and sanitation, energy and reliable transportation, as well as social services like health, education and social welfare.(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 Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix CAIRO (AP) – Egyptian Cabinet ministers and World Bank officials have signed off on a $200 million project aimed at creating 250,000 jobs after more than a year of slow economic growth.The World Bank says the investments will be spent on financing for job creation by improving the environment for private sector-led growth and education.Egypt has been in an economic downturn since the popular uprising that brought down longtime President Hosni Mubarak last year. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like
New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Patients with chronic pain give advice Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober While the disposal team was in UNMOVIC’s sixth-floor office, its small staff was evacuated along with other tenants from that floor, Buchanan said.When the material was discovered in a shipping container last week, Buchanan said U.N. experts followed their established procedure in dealing with unknown material — putting the material in double zip-locked plastic bags, and securing it in a safe in a room that is double-locked.U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said the staff continued to work in the offices of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, or UNMOVIC, which are in the process of being shut down.Tests conducted by U.N. personnel found no toxic vapors in the area where the material had been stored, police said. The materials had been in UNMOVIC and its predecessor inspection agency, UNSCOM, apparently since 1996 when they were inadvertently shipped to U.N. administrative offices instead of a chemical laboratory, police said.White House spokesman Tony Snow said the suspected chemical agent should have been transported to an appropriately equipped lab for analysis.“I’m sure that there are going to be a lot of red-faced people over at the U.N. trying to figure out how they got there,” Snow said. UNITED NATIONS (AP) — In a story dated Aug. 30, 2007 about U.N. weapons inspectors finding the potentially hazardous phosgene chemical in their offices, The Associated Press erroneously identified Svetlana Utkina as a U.N. chemical weapons expert. Utkina worked for the U.N. commission investigating chemical weapons in Iraq as a planning and operations officer and spoke at a press conference about the gas phosgene, but she was not employed by the U.N. as a chemical weapons expert. A corrected version of the story is below:U.N. weapons inspectors find potentially hazardous phosgene chemical in officeBy EDITH M. LEDERERAssociated Press WriterU.N. weapons inspectors discovered a potentially hazardous chemical warfare agent that was taken from an Iraqi chemical weapons facility 11 years ago and mistakenly stored in their offices in the heart of midtown Manhattan all that time, officials said Thursday.The material — identified in inventory files as phosgene, a chemical substance used in World War I weapons — was discovered Aug. 24. It was only identified on Wednesday because it was marked simply with an inventory number, and officials had to check the many records in their vast archives, said Ewen Buchanan, a spokesman for the U.N. inspection agency.U.N. and U.S. officials said the material posed no threat to anyone’s health or safety.A team of hazardous materials experts from the FBI and New York City police removed the substance from the office on Manhattan’s east side, about a block north of U.N. headquarters, in three steel containers. The containers were flown to a military facility in Aberdeen, Md., for disposal, U.N. officials said. “There is no threat that these items currently or in the past have posed to public health and safety in the area,” Casey said.U.N. inspectors pulled out of Iraq just before the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion and were barred by the U.S. from returning. The U.S. and Britain said they were taking over responsibility for Iraq’s disarmament. In June 2003, the Security Council voted to shut down UNMOVIC and the U.N. nuclear inspection operation in Iraq.Brian Mullady, a senior UNMOVIC official, told reporters that the staff did an immediate sweep of the rest of its archives to see if there were any more “surprises,” but there was none.___Associated Press Writer Tom Hays contributed to this story from New York.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said the U.N. needs to be more careful because “it’s a target.”“The fact that a container of deadly poison from Iraq was found at the U.N. is a wake-up call that they better start living up to the higher safety standards of a post 9-11 New York,” he said in a statement.Phosgene can be used as a chemical weapon, and was used extensively in World War I as a choking agent. Both phosgene gas and liquid can damage skin, eyes, nose, throat and lungs.Buchanan said the phosgene was in liquid form, suspended in oil, in a soda-can-sized container that was sealed in a plastic bag.Okabe said the chemical state of the phosgene was unknown but “could be potentially hazardous.”Svetlana Utkina, a planning and operations officer at UNMOVIC, said phosgene is toxic and would cause a person’s lungs to collapse if it was inhaled. She said a container the size of a soda can would likely not contain more than gram quantities of the substance.Still, if it was opened and did contain phosgene, she said “probably about five people will get severe problems, (and a) couple of people will be dead.”The inventory records indicated the material was from a 1996 excavation of the bombed-out research and development building at Iraq’s main chemical weapons facility at Muthana, near Samarra. The entire facility was extensively bombed during the 1991 Gulf War, Buchanan said. 0 Comments Share UNMOVIC has 1,400 linear feet of paper files — 125 five-drawer cabinets — and it took until Wednesday to find the inventory matching the number on the package with the suspected phosgene, Buchanan said.The agency and its archives — including the suspect material — had been in an office at U.N. headquarters until moving to its current site about three years ago, he said.Also found at the UNMOVIC office was a second sealed package containing tiny samples of chemical agents in sealed glass tubes shaped like pens, Buchanan said. Each of these tubes contained less than a gram of the material, he added.Okabe said the U.N. has launched an investigation to determine how and why the material was in UNMOVIC files. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon notified the Security Council, she added.The State Department said it had learned of the discovery late Wednesday and had immediately contacted the FBI to deal with the disposal.Deputy spokesman Tom Casey also said a joint U.S.-U.N. investigation would be conducted into why the samples had been stored in the office but stressed that the chemicals had been there for at least a decade and did not pose any health risk.“One of the things we want to do is make sure that the U.N., working with the FBI, does conduct a full investigation of this, so we’re absolutely certain how they in fact got there, how long they were there, and the kind of exact nature of how this came about,” he told reporters. The vital role family plays in society Sponsored Stories
4 must play golf courses in Arizona New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The ruling will not take effect immediately because the court gives the losing side roughly three weeks to ask for reconsideration. But county clerks in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas began issuing licenses to same-sex couples within hours of the decision.The cases before the court involved laws from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Those states have not allowed same-sex couples to marry within their borders, and they also have refused to recognize valid marriages from elsewhere.Just two years ago, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law that denied a range of government benefits to legally married same-sex couples.Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor formed the majority with Kennedy on Friday, the same lineup as two years ago.The earlier decision in United States v. Windsor did not address the validity of state marriage bans, but courts across the country, with few exceptions, said its logic compelled them to invalidate state laws that prohibited gay and lesbian couples from marrying.There are an estimated 390,000 married same-sex couples in the United States, according to UCLA’s Williams Institute, which tracks the demographics of gay and lesbian Americans. Another 70,000 couples living in states that do not currently permit them to wed would get married in the next three years, the institute says. Roughly 1 million same-sex couples, married and unmarried, live together in the United States, the institute says. The Obama administration backed the right of same-sex couples to marry. The Justice Department’s decision to stop defending the federal anti-marriage law in 2011 was an important moment for gay rights, and Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage in 2012.The states affected by Friday’s ruling are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, most of Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.___Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko, Sam Hananel and Glynn Hill contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. WASHINGTON (AP) — Same-sex couples won the right to marry nationwide Friday as a divided Supreme Court handed a crowning victory to the gay rights movement, setting off a jubilant cascade of long-delayed weddings in states where they had been forbidden.“No longer may this liberty be denied,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy.The vote was narrow — 5-4 — but Kennedy’s majority opinion was clear and firm: “The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.” Sponsored Stories Carlos McKnight of Washington, waves a flag in support of gay marriage outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015. A major opinion on gay marriage is among the remaining to be released before the term ends at the end of June. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation ErrorOK ErrorOK The ruling will put an end to same-sex marriage bans in the 14 states that still maintain them, and provide an exclamation point for breathtaking changes in the nation’s social norms in recent years. As recently as last October, just over one-third of the states permitted gay marriages.Kennedy’s reading of the ruling elicited tears in the courtroom, euphoria outside and the immediate issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in at least eight states. In Dallas, Kenneth Denson said he and Gabriel Mendez had been legally married in 2013 in California but “we’re Texans; we want to get married in Texas.”In praise of the decision, President Barack Obama called it “justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”Four of the court’s justices weren’t cheering. The dissenters accused their colleagues of usurping power that belongs to the states and to voters, and short-circuiting a national debate about same-sex marriage.“This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in dissent. Roberts read a summary of his dissent from the bench, the first time he has done so in nearly 10 years as chief justice. “No union is more profound than marriage,” Kennedy wrote, joined by the court’s four more liberal justices.The stories of the people asking for the right to marry “reveal that they seek not to denigrate marriage but rather to live their lives, or honor their spouses’ memory, joined by its bond,” Kennedy said.As he read his opinion, spectators in the courtroom wiped away tears when the import of the decision became clear. One of those in the audience was James Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court fight.Outside, Obergefell held up a photo of his late spouse, John Arthur, and said the ruling establishes that “our love is equal.” He added, “This is for you, John.”Obama placed a congratulatory phone call to Obergefell, which he took amid a throng of reporters outside the courthouse.Speaking a few minutes later at the White House, Obama praised the decision as an affirmation of the principle that “all Americans are created equal.”The crowd in front of the courthouse at the top of Capitol Hill grew in the minutes following the ruling. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C., sang the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Motorists honked their horns in support as they passed by the crowd, which included a smattering of same-sex marriage opponents. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home 0 Comments Share “If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” Roberts said. “But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”Justice Antonin Scalia said he was not concerned so much about same-sex marriage as “this court’s threat to American democracy.” He termed the decision a “judicial putsch.” Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas also dissented.Several religious organizations criticized the decision.The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said it was “profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.”Kennedy said nothing in the court’s ruling would force religions to condone, much less perform, weddings to which they object. And he said the couples seeking the right to marry should not have to wait for the political branches of government to act.The 14th Amendment to the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex couples to marry on the same basis as heterosexuals, he said“The dynamic of our constitutional system is that individuals need not await legislative action before asserting a fundamental right. The nation’s courts are open to injured individuals who come to them to vindicate their own direct, personal stake in our basic charter,” Kennedy wrote in his fourth major opinion in support of gay rights since 1996. It came on the anniversary of two of those earlier decisions. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall
In this June 26, 2015, photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, after the Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples have the right to marry anywhere in the US. When Obama praised the Supreme Court’s watershed same-sex marriage ruling, he held it up as evidence that a “shift in hearts and minds is possible.” Obama may well have been describing his own public trajectory on gay unions _ a complicated path that took him through opposition and ambivalence to enthusiastic embrace. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Barack Obama praised the Supreme Court’s watershed same-sex marriage ruling, he held it up as evidence that a “shift in hearts and minds is possible.”Obama may well have been describing his own public trajectory on gay unions — a complicated path that took him through opposition and ambivalence to enthusiastic embrace.His journey is not unlike the rest of America. But over the years he has worn his uncertainty on his sleeve, publicly musing about his stance before becoming a full-throated advocate for marriage and other aspects of gay rights. Clinton’s path into the embrace of the gay community has been similar. She backed her husband’s Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, described marriage between a man and a woman as a “fundamental bedrock principle” in a 2004 Senate floor speech, and dodged the question when asked in 2007 whether she agreed with Gen. Peter Pace, then the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, that homosexuality was immoral.But as secretary of state, Clinton emerged as a champion of gay rights, declaring that “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” at a 2011 conference in Geneva.Sainz said that in Clinton, the LGBT community sees a kindred spirit. “It’s in our DNA to support her,” he said. “We have been forced to deal with some of lives greatest indignities and have come out on the other side.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments Share Top Stories How men can have a healthy 2019 “When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free,” Obama declared Friday.As far as political figures go, Obama’s road to “yes” is hardly unique.Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign jumped on the Supreme Court decision, changing its red campaign logo to a rainbow colored H, releasing a gauzy video of gay wedding ceremonies, and blasting out supportive tweets aimed at building its campaign list.In a fiery speech Friday night to Democratic activists in Northern Virginia, Clinton said that “love triumphed in the highest court” and declared: “We can sum up the message from the court and the American people in just two words: Move on.”But like Obama, such expressions of support mark a remarkable shift for Clinton, who opposed gay marriage for more than two decades as a first lady, a U.S. senator and a presidential candidate. Just three months ago, Clinton’s position was that while she personally supported gay marriage the issue was best left for individual states to decide — a policy stance held by most of the Republican presidential field.“It has been an evolutionary process,” said Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group. But he said Obama now stands as one of the great champions of gay rights, up there with the likes of Harvey Milk. As for Clinton, he said, “she connects with gay people on a level that is beyond explanation.” “If Obama’s views were ‘evolving’ publicly, they were fully evolved behind closed doors,” Axelrod wrote.Obama disputed the account, telling BuzzFeed News that he thought civil unions were “a sufficient way of squaring the circle,” but that “the pain and the sense of stigma that was being placed on same-sex couples who are friends of mine” changed his mind.“I think the notion that somehow I was always in favor of marriage per se isn’t quite accurate,” Obama told BuzzFeed.But even after he endorsed gay marriage, he took his time embracing other aspects of the gay community’s agenda.It wasn’t until July 2014 that Obama gave employment protection to gay and transgender workers in the federal government and its contracting agencies.Still, gay rights advocates hold him up as one of their biggest political advocates.“It’s absolutely right to note that this administration did not get off to a good start with LGBT advocates,” Sainz said. “But the sheer volume of what he has done will be hard for another president to replicate, simply because so much of what he has done has been so incredibly powerful, momentous and life changing for LGBT people.” Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Obama has carefully staked out his position on same-sex marriage throughout his political career. During his 1996 Illinois state Senate race, he replied to a questionnaire from a gay newspaper in Chicago: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” Two years later, he declared himself undecided.By 2004, as he ran for the U.S. Senate, he said he opposed gay marriage for politically strategic reasons, saying Republicans would exploit the issue, and he advocated instead for gay civil unions. In his 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope,” he cited his own faith as a reason to oppose same-sex marriage, though he also wondered whether “in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.”He came out firmly for same-sex marriage in 2012 and called for it in his second inaugural address. But earlier this year, his former top strategist, David Axelrod, wrote that Obama had feigned opposition to gay marriage for most of his political career, grudgingly taking Axelrod’s advice that African-American religious leaders and others would oppose him if he let it be known he supported gay marriage. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Check your body, save your life Sponsored Stories 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches
How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Top Stories WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican House Speaker John Boehner (BAY’nuhr) says he disagrees with GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments on immigration.Trump’s fellow candidates have already criticized the business mogul for saying Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists.Boehner tells reporters Thursday that he, too, disagrees with Trump. He says most in his party’s presidential field have made their positions clear. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Boehner also says that the issue of illegal immigration and what to do about it has become the biggest political football he’s ever seen. He says Congress won’t solve the issue by sticking its head in the sand.The GOP-led House has repeatedly failed to act on immigration legislation and there’s little evidence that will change. But Boehner says he would hope the House would take action this year.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments Share Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Mesa family survives lightning strike to home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies
Republicans said they planned to revive the bill after they find another group, instead of Komen, to which they can assign some of the breast cancer research funds.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments Share Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican leaders delayed a House vote Tuesday on a bill raising money for breast cancer research over anger that some of the funds would go to a group that has worked with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which supports abortion rights.Under the legislation, the government would raise up to $8 million by minting and selling thousands of pink-tinted gold coins. The government’s profits would be divided evenly between the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, a private group that raises research funds. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 ways to recognize low testosterone About 16 chapters of the Komen foundation finance breast cancer services at local Planned Parenthood clinics, said Komen spokeswoman Andrea Rader.The bill had 307 co-sponsors, including 142 Republicans. Its chief sponsors were Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Pete Sessions, R-Texas. The research foundation is in New York while Komen is based in Dallas, Texas.But the legislation devolved into another largely partisan battle over abortion.GOP support for the bill eroded after an anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, released a video it said showed a Planned Parenthood official discussing the sale of organs from aborted fetuses. In addition, the conservative group Heritage Action for America pressured lawmakers to oppose the bill because of the connection to Planned Parenthood.In a written statement, Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero criticized what he called a “heavily edited, secretly recorded videotape that falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research.” He said Planned Parenthood helps patients who want to donate organs for scientific research, as do other health care providers. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Sponsored Stories New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like
<a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/278e5/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F The Obama administration has ordered tighter airline screening to stop people on the “no-fly” list from boarding planes, after the suspected Times Square bomber almost escaped on a Dubai-bound flight.Airlines will now have to re-check passenger manifests against the “no-fly” list — banning people from flying inside the U.S as well as to and from the country — within two hours of notification of a special circumstance about a person.Prior to the change they were required to do the check within 24 hours, a loophole that may have enabled Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American suspect in Saturday’s failed New York car bombing, to board an Emirates flight late on Monday.Shahzad had bought a ticket on Monday and boarded the flight at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport despite having been added to the no-fly list earlier that same day.”As we saw with Faisal Shahzad, in an expedited no-fly nomination, the airline is responsible for manually checking the name against the no-fly list within 24 hours,” the official said, declining further identification.”In his case, the airline seemingly didn’t check the name, and the suspect was allowed to purchase a ticket and obtain a boarding pass,” the official said.U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials discovered he had boarded the flight just before it left the gate and had the doors re-opened so they could take Shahzad off the flight and into custody. Shahzad, 30, has been arrested and charged with driving a car bomb into Times Square on Saturday and trying to detonate it.
Japan Airlines (JAL) has applied to the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) to revise its international cargo fuel surcharge for flights departing from Japan from January 1, 2015.Since April 1, 2009, JAL started adjusting its cargo fuel surcharge levels on a monthly basis by using the one-month average fuel price of Singapore kerosene of the month before last.As the average fuel price of Singapore kerosene for the month of November in 2014 was US$96.48 per barrel, the benchmark fuel price used for calculation of the fuel surcharge level will be within the range of US$95.00 to US$99.99 per barrel.The international cargo fuel surcharge will therefore be 87 Yen per kilogram on long-haul international routes, 69 Yen per kilogram on medium-haul international routes, and 53 yen on short-haul routes. Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wiseman
Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wiseman Hotels.com has released its latest Hotel Price Index (HPI), showing the average price of a hotel room paid in Australia by travelers rose by only one per cent in 2014. The Hotels.com HPI is based on bookings made on Hotels.com sites globally and tracks the actual prices paid per hotel room for more than 169,000 properties.The average price of a hotel room in Australia paid by Australian travellers rose to AUD$177 per night in 2014 from AUD$175 in 2013.According to Hotels.com data of actual prices paid for hotels in 2014, hotel prices rose only slightly in the eastern seaboard capital cities, Sydney had a one per cent rise, Brisbane saw a two per cent rise and Melbourne had a one per cent rise.Hotel prices fell by three per cent in Perth to AUD$184 per night and also fell in Darwin by four per cent to AUD$200 per night.Hotels.com regional director Katherine Cole, said that a number of factors helped increase the appeal of domestic holidays for Australians. “The softening of the Australian dollar is welcome news for Australian hoteliers, who have benefited from an increase in international visitors. At the same time, domestic travellers are turning more to holidaying at home as they find better value locally,” Ms Cole said.Internationally, Asia was the only region in the world where hotel guests paid less on average from a year ago and were only slightly higher than they were 10 years ago.In contrast, hotel prices for travellers on the Australian dollar rose 15 per cent in New Zealand as the New Zealand dollar continued to strengthen and local hotel prices increased. The city where Australian travellers paid the most for a hotel room in 2014 was New York, where the average price paid was AUD$317.
Emirates Group announces half-year performance for 2015-16The Emirates Group today announced its half-year results for 2015-16, showing continued business growth and a strong performance.The Emirates Group revenue reached AED 46.1 billion (US$ 12.6 billion) for the first six months of its 2015-16 financial year, down 2.3% from AED 47.2 billion (US$ 12.9 billion) during the same period last year, reflecting the impact of the strong US dollar against major currencies.The Group marked one of its best half-year profit performances ever, with net profit rising to AED 3.7 billion (US$ 1.0 billion), up 65% over the last year’s results. The Group’s cash position on 30th September 2015 was at AED 14.8 billion (US$4.0 billion), compared to AED 20.0 billion (US$ 5.5 billion) as at 31st March 2015. This is due to ongoing investments mainly into new aircraft, airline related infrastructure projects, and business acquisitions.His Highness (HH) Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, said: “Our top-line figures were hit hard by the strong US dollar against other major currencies. The currency exchange situation, combined with ongoing regional conflict and weak economic outlook in many parts of the world, dampened the positive impact of lower fuel prices during the first half of our 2015-16 financial year. Emirates also made the decision to pass on savings from the lower fuel prices to our customers by cancelling passenger fuel surcharges, and lowering fares across the network.”He added: “That the Group is reporting one of its most profitable first half-year performances ever, speaks to the strength of our underlying business. In first six months of this year, Emirates and dnata grew in terms of capacity, capability and global reach – organically, and for dnata through strategic acquisitions as well. Looking ahead, we will continue to build on our core strengths by investing in new ways to improve efficiencies and deliver the best customer outcomes. At the same time, we will keep an eye out for strategic growth opportunities, and stay agile so that we can respond effectively to external challenges.”In the past six months, the Group continued to develop and expand its employee base, increasing its overall staff count by 4% to over 87,000 compared with 31st March 2015.Source = Emirates Group
Source = Dr David Beirman Ph.D Global cruising gets set for Asian led growthGlobal cruising gets set for Asian led growthThe Global cruising industry has experienced unprecedented levels of global growth over the past few years. In 2015, 25 million travellers experienced a cruise. The product range in cruising extends from super cruises such as Ovation on the Seas which accommodate over 5,000 passengers to smaller niche adventure cruising product which can enable passengers to explore remote coastal destinations such as Patagonia, Antarctica, Papua New Guinea, the glacier coast of Alaska or the inlets of Australia’s Kimberley region.In Sydney, over 450 Australian and New Zealand travel professionals attended the Cruise 360 Conference held by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) the cruise industry’s global association. The conference was held on Friday, 16 September. The high level of interest, especially from travel agents is indicative of the fact that the cruise market from Australia and New Zealand has enjoyed a spectacular rate of growth over the past 10 years. Steve Odell, the Chairman of CLIA Australasia pointed out that in 2015 over 1.05 million Australians and 66,000 New Zealanders undertook a cruise. Market growth has exceeded 15% annually since 2005 and Australia has the highest proportion of travellers undertaking cruising of any country in the world.Globally, over 70% of cruise bookings are transacted via travel agents and the dominance of travel agents in managing cruise bookings is set to continue well into the future. Steve Odell observed that the variety and complexity of cruise product coupled with the fact that the needs of cruise passengers are very specific lends cruising to the personalised advice that travel agents can provide. CLIA globally has trained many thousands of travel agents thorough its cruise training programs. Cindy D’Aoust, Global President and CEO of CLIA addressed the conference and provided a global perspective on the cruise industry. She told the audience that while 49.5% of global cruise passengers in 2015 were Americans, the proportion of US based passengers was shrinking. Although US cruise passenger numbers continued to grow, the centre of gravity of cruise market growth was clearly shifting to the Asia-Pacific. She pointed out that the new centres of cruising growth would come from China, Japan, South Korea and SE Asia. The growing middle classes of Asia have discovered cruising and are taking to it in a big way. She predicted that in 10 years the Asian cruise market could exceed that of the United States.The growth of global cruising has led to an urgent need for infrastructure development, especially berthing and port facilities in a growing number of destinations. The conference venue, Sydney is no exception. Sydney is one of the world’s most popular cruising destinations and embarkation points and its limited berthing infrastructure is widely seen by the Australian cruise industry as a barrier to growth. This article will be the first of two I will write on the cruise industry as a result of the conference. The clear message for travel industry professionals globally is that cruising is set for very positive growth. CLIA is certainly doing an outstanding job in providing industry professionals with the tools to effectively leverage from that growth.Ovation on the Seas, One of the world’s great super cruisers
Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts this past week conducted a three-city roadshow in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi, to strengthen the brand’s ties with the Indian travel trade fraternity. The roadshow was held to further strengthen their relations with the trade and also to introduce the newly opened properties by the brand – Zabeel House by Jumeirah.Around 18 Jumeirah properties participated in the roadshow which was attended by over 140 agents in each city. The event was a huge success as the guests were entertained with an hour of some stand-up comedy by the very popular comedian Atul Khatri.The India market has witnessed a considerable rise in outbound luxury travel in recent years. The group is focusing on expanding and consolidating their ties with the luxury travel segment to reach out to a larger audience and gain a higher market share. The roadshow serves as a platform to increase brand awareness and gain new consumers.Jumeirah Group has 12 hotels in the UAE and a presence across Europe, Middle East and Asia. While the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is synonymous with the brand in Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah and Jumeirah Emirates Towers have also proved particularly attractive to the Indian market. Jumeirah’s most popular hotels outside of Dubai for Indian travellers include Grosvenor House Suites by Jumeirah Living in London, Jumeirah Frankfurt and Jumeirah Vittaveli in the Maldives.