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Responsible fishing key to saving the seas

first_imgFrom the print editionThe Costa Rican Fishing Federation (FECOP) kicked off a new campaign Tuesday at the Radisson Hotel in San José to raise awareness about imperiled fisheries in Costa Rica and the world.“More than 80 percent of fisheries worldwide are totally exploited, over-exploited or exhausted,” FECOP Director Enrique Ramírez told a crowd of fishermen, activists, journalists and government officials at the campaign’s inauguration.“Between 2000 and 2007, the total volume of fisheries production in Costa Rica dropped by 40 percent. In 2012 that drop will be 50 percent or more,” he said.The responsible fishing campaign aims to collect “a sea” of 25,000 signatures to demonstrate wide support for the protection of fisheries resources in the country and convince the Legislative Assembly to order authorities responsible for fisheries management to adhere to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing, as laid out by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).The campaign features posters and TV and radio spots with photos of mutilated sharks, dead fish and sea turtles caught and drowned by longlines used by industrial fishing fleets. World women’s kite surfing champion and environmentalist Melissa Gil is throwing her support behind the campaign, too.FECOP is made up of representatives of Costa Rica’s sportfishing, small-scale fishing and conservation communities. The group advocates for the establishment of areas dedicated to “responsible,” or non-industrial, fishing as well as tighter regulation of industrial fleets, which are overseen by the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca).“Marine areas of responsible fishing are the intelligent answer by coastal communities organized in the face of the deterioration of fish stocks, food insecurity, lack of regulations and lack of marine resources management,” Ramírez said.In December, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla swore in a government commission to evaluate management of the country’s marine resources. Without specifically mentioning Incopesca, Chinchilla said, “The country’s seas generate different goods and services associated with a variety of activities such as commercial [fishing] and sportfishing, aquaculture, shipping, marketing and transit routes, marine merchant port unloading, tourism, marinas and docks, whale watching and research, and conservation of marine biodiversity. … [Costa Rica must] resize its vision and broaden its perspective in relation to marine resources” to ensure their protection and sustainable use in the future (TT, Dec. 21, 2011).Conservation groups have long criticized Incopesca on numerous issues, including sea turtle bycatch by shrimping fleets, enforcement of anti-shark-finning regulations and the makeup of the Incopesca board of directors, which conservationists say presents conflicts of interest, as many board members are involved in businesses in the fishing and shrimping industries.Incopesca President Luis Dobles has called those accusations “absolutely false” and said he welcomed the presidential commission’s analysis. In December, he told The Tico Times that the commission “is not a commission of intervention against Incopesca.” “It is a commission to analyze the management of the Costa Rican fishing sector and the governance of our seas. Hopefully, the result of the commission’s analysis will be helpful because there are many situations, many problems and many topics that can be tackled in relation to how to improve the encouragement and development of conservation and the responsible use of our marine resources,” he said (TT, Dec. 9, 2011).Dobles also explained that Incopesca is charged with a daunting task in terms of inspecting catches of the country’s industrial fishing fleet with only 18 inspectors available for inspections at the country’s main fisheries offloading dock in Puntarenas, and just a handful of inspectors for other parts of the country. Carlos Villalobos, a marine biologist associated with FECOP, acknowledged that Incopesca faces a tough slog in combating illegal fishing practices with so few inspectors. Villalobos spoke at the responsible fishing campaign kick-off about the state of Costa Rican fisheries, reiterating their precarious state and calling for better coordination between the institute and the Environment Ministry, which has the power to designate and enforce protected marine areas.Environment Minister René Castro was on hand to support the campaign.“We are beginning a process in which Costa Rica has been lagging,” Castro said. “Costa Rica has ignored for many years its oceans, its rivers and its wetlands and now is trying to raise awareness among citizens, businesses and institutions to rediscover the ‘blue’ Costa Rica that is almost unknown.”The idea of a “blue” Costa Rica, or rather a blue agenda, is what the FECOP campaign is all about. The group is proposing six projects including the modification of fisheries legislation to fall more in line with FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing, the creation and strengthening of areas designated for “responsible fishing” only, public education projects on the state of marine resources, the promotion of small-scale fishing techniques to avoid incidental bycatch of immature fish or threatened species, support for national institutions in making responsible decisions regarding fisheries management and economic alternatives for fishing communities to improve economic returns while also protecting marine resources.The group also wants to promote regulations on the length of longlines used by commercial fleets that can stretch for tens of kilometers behind boats and often result in bycatch of valuable species like marlin and sailfish. Those species along with other sportfishing species, according to studies by the University of Costa Rica, attract some 100,000 tourists who come to Costa Rica for sportfishing and generate 4,000 jobs directly and some 63,000 jobs indirectly. The industry is responsible for an estimated 2 percent of Costa Rica’s gross domestic product.The group will be collecting signatures at the Municipal Stadium in Jacó, on the central Pacific coast, on April 14 and at the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in Tibás, north of San José, on April 15 and April 22.For more information, see: Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Costa Ricas Solís travels to New York to address United Nations General

first_imgCosta Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís travels to New York Saturday as part of a week of actives in the Big Apple, including his first address at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.Solís will attend the U.N. Climate Summit on Tuesday, Sept. 23, where he will give a speech about Costa Rica’s efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The U.N. has billed the summit as the first time in five years that world leaders will come together to plot a “bold, new course of action on climate change.” The president will be joined by Environment Minister Edgar Gutiérrez and Agriculture and Livestock Minister Luis Felipe Aráuz. That evening, the president is scheduled to attend a reception at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama.Solís said that his U.N. address would reflect Costa Rica’s respect for international law, nonviolence, post-2015 U.N. Millennium Development Goals, and international security concerns including South Sudan, Ukraine, the Middle East, and his position on the new violence flaring in Iraq and Syria from Islamic State militants.“It gives me a great personal feeling to present before the U.N. I had been in the audience before as a young diplomat accompanying grand figures in Costa Rican politics to this forum during the 1980s under President Óscar Arias and the debate over his peace plan. To do it now as a head of state gives me great personal satisfaction. It’s an honor,” the president said.On Wednesday, Solís will lunch with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, before making his first speech at the United Nations during the 69th General Assembly.In addition to meeting with world leaders on social and environmental issues, Solís has several meetings scheduled with multinational businesses, investors and financial media. Solís’ first trip to the United States in June was billed as a way to reassure international investors that Costa Rica is still open for business after his election and after Intel announced it was closing its manufacturing facility here.This time, Solís will likely be on the defensive over Moody Investor Services’ decision to cut Costa Rica’s sovereign debt rating to junk status. The president will meet with 100 business leaders Monday in an event organized by the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency, CINDE, and the Financial Times. Despite the recent move by Moody’s, Solís said that Costa Rica remains an attractive place for foreign investment. On Thursday, Solís mets with more businesses at an event organized by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas.Solís will also have bilateral meetings with Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and President Ould Abdel Azi of Mauritania and current head of the African Union.Keeping with his populist image, the president will fly on a commercial United flight to New York. Solís will also meet with Costa Ricans living in New Jersey to celebrate a belated Independence Day. Facebook Comments Related posts:Solís sidesteps Nicaragua border dispute in UN address Costa Rica’s Solís joins UN secretary-general in call for immediate ceasefire in Gaza conflict Presidents Obama, Solís meet in New York Landmark Arms Trade Treaty spearheaded by Costa Rica’s ex-President Óscar Arias goes into effectlast_img read more

Design deluxe popular festival returns to San José

first_imgFilled with colorful personalities, parties, projects, contests, and the participation of Paseo Gastronómico La Luz and Art City Tour, the fifth edition of the International Design Festival, which opens its doors in San José tomorrow, stands to surpass even last year’s well-received festival.Not just a gathering of designers, the FID is an interdisciplinary event celebrating everything from gastronomy to motion graphic design. Speakers discuss their own experiences, their origins and how their far-flung travels have inspired them to enter the world of design. The festival will shine the spotlight on 15 international speakers, each a respected designer, such as the illustrator Joan Cornella and the fashion designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada (both from Spain), photographer Marcos López (Argentina), graphic designer Hélène Godin (Canada), and the locally renowned Pucci family of photographers, among others.Visitors can sign up for 18 different workshops, including serigraphy, digital manufacturing, photography, art book creation, and more. And bring your wallet: the festival will include a market for collectors of cutting-edge clothing and décor.Today, Wednesday, March 11, you can get a taste of the festival with a special design-themed edition of the Art City Art City Tour patrons take in the sights. Alberto Font/the Tico TimesTour, in collaboration with GAM Cultural. Dubbed “San José sueña, San José diseña” (“San José dreams, San José designs”), the varied events of the Tour run from 5-9 p.m. all over the city. Art City is a periodic citywide celebration, taking place from downtown San José to La Sabana Park, and culture mavens can visit a variety of museums, galleries, cultural centers, design stores, parks and historic monuments along the way; grab a free shuttle bus, bike or walk.The festival itself takes place March 12-14 at the Antigua Aduana in San José, with the market held in the facility’s Casa del Cuño building. On Thursday, registry takes place at 10:00, with conferences held from 2:00-7:30 p.m.; on Friday and Saturday, workshops begin at 9:00 a.m. and conferences at 2:00 pm, with the event wrapping up both evenings at 7:30 p.m. But the events won’t stop when the Antigua Aduana doors swing shut. On all three nights (Thursday-Saturday), varied exhibitions, gastronomic tie-ins and afterparties will take place around the city, some with freebies or discounts for those with FID admission bracelets.Tickets run from $90 to $140 and are available on the official website or at the stores De aquí y de allá, Saúl E. Méndez and Kiosko SJO.Info on the design-themed Art City Tour: Tour Facebook page. Information on the International Design Festival: Festival website. Facebook Comments Related posts:Comedy homage, massive DJ party and other happenings around Costa Rica Independence Day, Broadway revue, and other happenings around Costa Rica Fairy tale ballet, Hitchcock films, and other happenings around Costa Rica Man Yu celebrates 10 years of hyper-realistic artwork at the Club Uniónlast_img read more

Two lots for sale in San José de la Montaña BarvaHeredia

first_img Previous Image Facebook Comments info heading info content Next Image Price: $193,779Province: HerediaCantón: BarvaLand: 7177m2Located in front of the luxury condominium “Monte Lagos” and 800m west of Rest. La Campesina.Residential zoningLot 1 – 7073m2 = $190,971 NegotiableLot 2 – 7177m2= $ 193,779 NegotiableBargain priced at $27 x m2Perfect for building your own house in the mountains or cabins with plenty of green space.See this and other listings in the new Tico Times Real Estate section here.COD: 1112Email: realestate@ticotimes.netPhone: +(506) 2258-1558 Related posts:Colonial estate in a Gated Community for sale in Hacienda Los Reyes Guácima, Alajuela Precious house for sale in San Joaquín de Flores, Heredia Contemporary First Floor Condominum, Escazú, For Rent Beautiful home for sale or rent in Escazú, reduced from $1.1 million to $750,000last_img read more

Guatemala presidential candidate quits race alleging fraud

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:The military powers behind Guatemala’s comedian presidential front-runner As Guatemala’s political crisis deepens, citizens reawaken Corruption-weary Guatemala to choose next president Sunday In Guatemala, Pérez Molina claims US conspiracy behind corruption prosecution GUATEMALA CITY,Guatemala — Conservative Manuel Baldizón has withdrawn from Guatemala‘s presidential race, leaving a former first lady to face off against a comedian who made his name playing a simpleton who almost becomes president in pole position to lead the Central American country.Baldizón withdrew on Monday, alleging fraud, leaving the first-round vote winner and political novice Jimmy Morales in a straight run-off against former first lady and social democrat Sandra Torres on October 25.The right-leaning Morales topped the poll on September 6 after a tumultuous week in which the outgoing president, Otto Pérez Molina, was stripped of his immunity over allegations of corruption, resigned and was arrested. He is now awaiting trial. Pérez Molina was ineligible to seek re-election under Guatemalan law.Recommended: How Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina fell from grace and what it means for upcoming electionsThe electoral tribunal had yet to decide who finished second — the count was very close — and would go up against millionaire Morales in the runoff. Now, with Baldizón out, it will be Torres.Baldizón, 45, alleges fraud in the vote counting and claimed this cost him support.He said he is leaving his Renewed Democratic Freedom party altogether and will focus on his business interests and his family.“This is a very murky election,” said Fidel de León, a spokesman for Baldizón’s party. “We decline to take part in the run-off.”The first place finish of the comedian Morales has been interpreted as a clear sign that Guatemalans are fed up with rampant corruption and politics as usual in this violence-plagued Central American country where more than half the population lives in poverty.Prosecutors and investigators from a UN commission tasked with fighting high-level graft accuse Pérez Molina of orchestrating a scheme in which businesses paid bribes to corrupt officials in exchange for illegal discounts on their customs duties.The scheme collected $3.8 million in bribes between May 2014 and April 2015, including $800,000 each to Pérez Molina and jailed ex-vice president Roxana Baldetti, prosecutors allege.Read more coverage of Guatemala’s elections and recent customs scandallast_img read more

Costa Rica hosts its first Songwriters Festival

first_imgCosta Rica is holding its first-ever International Songwriters Festival this week at the Melico Salazar Theater in downtown San José,  allowing the public to watch participants from nine countries present their original compositions and compete for a $5,000 prize.The festival, which kicked off last night with an opening ceremony featuring Peruvian singer-songwriter Julie Freundt and Costa Rican songwriter Humberto Vargas, will conclude on July 7, when the winner will be announced and a concert will be offered by Carlos Mejía Godoy and the Palacaguinas (Nicaragua) and Adrián Goizueta (Argentina).Susana Poveda, executive directorof the Festival, told The Tico Times that Costa Rica’s entry in the competition was chosen during ast year’s Transitarte festival.“Immediately afterwards, the international call for participants took place,” Poveda said. “We received many proposals from many different countries. Winners were selected from 1500 participants.”The contest will feature ten participants from nine different countries, who will be defending their original creations. The participants are Rosalía León (Mexico), Wahari Meléndez (Venezuela), Covi Quintana (Dominican Republic), Solo Valencia (Colombia), Jesús Gárriga (Spain), Oscar Sandoval (El Salvador), Tamela Hedstron (Sweden), Oscar Pino (Costa Rica), Mariana Poblete (Argentina), and Rodrigo Carazo (Argentina).The jury is composed of Goizueta; Julie Freundt and Javier Malca from Peru; Chico Luis Mejía from Nicaragua; Adrián Goizueta; Miguel Inzunza from Mexico; and two Costa Ricans, the poet Osvaldo Sauma and Grammy award-winner Walter Flores.Several activities will be taking place through July 10:July 7Finale of the contest, announcement of the winner and a concert by Carlos Mejía Godoy and the Palacaguina, and Adrián Goizueta.Melico Salazar Theater, downtown San José. 8 p.m. ₡5,000 – 15,000 ($10 – 30). Tickets on sale at or at the theater ticket office. July 8Contest participants and Dionisio Cabal sing for peace. Teatro 1887, Cenac, downtown San José. 10 a.m. Free. Songwriting workshop with Miguel Inzunza and Rosalía León from Mexico, and Natalia Esquivel and Yessenia Calvo from Costa Rica. At Mexican Institute, Los Yoses. 3 p.m. Free. Concert with Jesús Garriga, Covi Quintana, Oscar Sandoval, and Solo Valencia. At Spain Cultural Center El Farolito, San José. 7 p.m. Free. Concert with Christian Porras, Alejo García, Wahari Melendez, Rodrigo Carazo, and Mariana Poblete. At El Sótano, San José. 9 p.m.Concert with Julie Freudt and Oscar Pino. At Jazz Café Escazú. 9 p.m.July 9Concert with Miguel Inzunza and Bernardo Quesada. At Jazz Café San Pedro. 9 p.m.July 10Concert with all contest participants. At Multiplaza Escazú, in front of Brunos Restaurant. 4 p.m. Free. Find more info at the International Songwriters Festival of Costa Rica website. Facebook Comments Related posts:Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica ‘Abominable Creatures,’ contemporary dance, and other happenings around Costa Rica Dance Company performance, La Llorona, and other happenings around Costa Rica Delicious eats for your holiday celebrationslast_img read more

Remote area critical patients to be moved to San José hospital by

first_imgNo related posts. Last Friday, the first critical patient, who had a cardiac problem, was flown in from Santa Maria de Dota. Patients living in remote areas will arrive at the Calderón Guardia Hospital by helicopter.This was done through an agreement between the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) and the Ministry of Public Security (MSP). The objective of this agreement is to shorten the time of transfer of patients in a critical health situation.For the landing of the helicopters, the hospital prepared an area on the northeast side, where the patient is admitted directly to the Emergency Service.The patient was treated and stabilized in Santa Maria de Dota and then transferred to the medical center where he is under observation and waiting for a series of tests to define his diagnosis.According to Donald Corella, head of the Emergency Department, the Calderón Guardia Hospital conducted a series of trainings and drills in conjunction with the Ministry of Security, which allowed the so-called Golden Code to be activated within the hospital.This Golden Code applies a series of protocols to be prepared either to receive a patient in a critical health situation from a remote location or that the hospital staff is transferred by helicopter to the hospital of the care network. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Euro 2012 Ukraine rocked by racism controversy

first_imgAssociated PressKIEV, Ukraine (AP) – Victor Chikelu, a Nigerian medical student, was punched and told to go back to Africa by a drunk in the Kiev subway two years ago. But he, like other Africans who have suffered racist abuse in Ukraine’s capital, has a message for soccer fans: Don’t boycott Euro 2012.“I don’t think this should prevent the fans from coming down,” said Chikelu. “People just need to take precautions and everything should be fine.” He points to no fatal attacks in the last 2 or 3 years as a sign that the situation is perhaps improving. Still, he says he plans to leave the country as soon as he graduates next year.A tall and muscular man, Chikelu says the memory of the attack haunts him whenever he’s out in public.“I have gotten used to this feeling … If I notice anything, I am always ready to run,” he said, sitting by Kiev’s main avenue, which within days will turn into a fan zone with big screens, packed with people from all over Europe as the soccer tournament, co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland, kicks off.With a week to go until the tournament, Ukraine has been rocked by accusations of rampant racism. A British documentary showed thugs in one of the Euro 2012 host cities violently beating dark-skinned supporters of the same team during a domestic league match. And former England player Sol Campbell warned fans to stay at home or risk coming back in a coffin.Ukrainian officials were outraged by the comments, saying the country has many sins but that racism isn’t one of them. They are vowing that foreign fans will be safe and will have fun.Experts and ethnic community leaders paint a different picture. They say several dozen ethnically motivated attacks take place here each year and that authorities are reluctant to investigate and punish the perpetrators and protect the victims. Dark-skinned students feel uncomfortable in public places, avoid public transport and prefer to hang out in groups. Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Activists say the Euros should also prompt Ukrainian authorities to investigate and prevent racist attacks and promote tolerance when the championship is over.“I would be more happy if they can guarantee that this country is racism-free after the Euro period,” said Fedorovich, the anti-racism activist.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Comments   Share   center_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Another Nigerian student, Olaolu Sunkalmi Femi, appeared in court this week to face attempted murder charges after he fought back against an attack by five Ukrainians in what he says was a racist crime. He fended off his assailants with a broken bottle, fearing for his life, and some of them suffered light cuts, his defense team says. If convicted he faces a minimum 10-15 years, and up to life.“We hope that the court will do justice, but the very fact that he’s accused and in jail is lamentable,” said Maksym Butkevych, a human rights activist with the Kiev-based advocacy group No Borders.Most observers here agree that boycotting Euro 2012 would be a bad idea. Chikelu said many of his Ukrainian friends are unaware of racism being a problem and that being exposed to people from different cultures and backgrounds will boost tolerance.“Their coming is an instrumental way to solve the problem,” he said. “Staying away doesn’t help it.”Euro 2012 “will give an opportunity to Ukrainians to see that people of different colors live in other countries and that will help promote diversity in Ukraine,” said Asante-Eboa, the African community leader. “I am sure nothing is going to happen _ we all need to calm down and return back to reality,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Voloshyn.Ukrainian authorities are so confident of a peaceful tournament that police officers won’t mix with fans during the games and will be discreetly positioned a few minutes away from the action.“We will have a normal, safe atmosphere for foreign citizens,” said Oleh Motveitsov, an Interior Ministry official charged with security measures during the Euros. “Ukraine will be hospitable.”“The only piece of advice I have for foreign fans is not to get into trouble, not to get drunk and not to get involved with people they don’t know to avoid problems,” Motveitsov said. “Better to stay together as a group than going alone in dark back alleys.”Chikelu painted a grim picture of being an African in this former Soviet nation. Like many other African students, he chose Ukraine’s top medical school for his education because it costs him a relatively cheap $5,000 per year. But he said his female colleagues stay in their dormitories after dark _ and that men tend to drive in cars or take taxis to avoid racist confrontations. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements “If we talk about physical attacks and cases of hate crimes, it’s definitely a problem in big cities,” said Iryna Fedorovich, an activist with the Kiev-based advocacy group No Borders. “If we talk about xenophobia, it’s everywhere.”But while racism exists in Ukraine, it’s not so rampant that foreign visitors should be scared of coming, community leaders say. In fact, they believe that hosting a major international event will attract attention to the problem and promote diversity.“Racism is a problem in Ukraine, but I don’t think (Campbell) was right to say that you will return in a coffin,” said Charles Asante-Eboa, President of the African Center in Ukraine, which unites tens of thousands of African working and studying here.“They (fans) will come, they will be happy and they will go away with a lot of memories and nostalgia for the welcome they will receive in Ukraine,” Asante-Eboa said. “I am sure Ukraine will meet them with open arms.”The accusations of racism _ and Campbell’s comment in particular _ have caused outrage and disbelief here. Authorities say Ukraine is being slandered by people who’ve never been to the country. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img read more

Palestinian government debt hurts private sector

first_imgThe cash crunch, mainly due to a sharp drop in foreign aid since 2011, is threatening to set off a chain reaction of business failures, layoffs and economic downturn that would undermine one of the West’s fundamental strategies toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Some warn that the Palestinian Authority, key to negotiating and implementing any future peace deal with Israel, will not survive without a major infusion of cash.The authority, though strapped for cash in the past, is in what economists describe as the worst crisis in its 18-year existence. In recent months, it has been struggling to meet its costliest obligation _ salaries for 150,000 civil servants and security personnel which devour half the government’s budget of nearly $4 billion.Unlike in previous crises, the authority can no longer borrow to ease the pain: It already owes more than $2 billion to local banks, private companies and the public pension fund, said economist Samir Abdullah. In a further blow, it has received only half the needed foreign aid to close a 2012 budget deficit of $1.2 billion, the Finance Ministry says.The World Bank noted in a recent report that government spending and spending by government employees were important drivers of growth in recent years. “A lack of confidence in the government’s continued ability to spend could have serious consequences for investor confidence and eocnomic growth,” the bank said. Comments   Share   Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day The Israeli supplier says it’s considering cutoffs, but has not made a final decision.“It’s a nightmare,” Mahdi al-Masri of the Al Ayyam printing and publishing company said of the possibility of repeated blackouts. Factories have generators, but power cuts would affect homes and small businesses, setting off a ripple effect, said al-Masri, former head of the Palestinian Federation of Industries.Al-Masri and Mustaklem, the drug importer, say the current crisis is the worst they’ve had to contend with.Mustaklem said he’s had to shelve plans of expanding his business with a $3 million investment. Instead, he’s trying to stay afloat and keep on his 50 employees.“We are on the edge of bankruptcy,” he said.___Associated Press writers Dalia Nammari in Jerusalem, and Matthew V. Lee and Donna Cassata in Washington, D.C., contributed reporting.(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 The 2011 payment was delayed by a congressional hold, in part over Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ appeal to the U.N. to recognize “Palestine” in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in 1967. The U.S. and Israel say a Palestinian state can only be set up through negotiations, but talks ran aground in 2008.The United Arab Emirates cut aid from $174 million in 2009 to $42.5 million since the beginning of 2011 _ according to Palestinian officials in an attempt to pressure Abbas to reinstate a disgraced former aide, Mohammed Dahlan.Qatar, another rich Arab state, has linked aid to elusive reconciliation between Abbas and the Islamic militant Hamas, which seized Gaza from him in a violent takeover in 2007 and has set up a separate government there.The Palestinian Authority was set up as part of interim agreements that were to lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state by 1999. However, negotiations on statehood faltered and what as envisioned as a temporary arrangement _ limited self-rule in 38 percent of the West Bank _ has taken on an air of permanence.Palestinian officials, backed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, say their government can only become self-sufficient if Israel removes a network of restrictions on trade and access to resources that discourage investment, drive up costs and limit business opportunities. Associated PressRAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) – Palestinian drug importer Ghassan Mustaklem says he can’t afford to work with the West Bank’s Palestinian government anymore. He recently halted supplies to his biggest client, which now owes $12 million in unpaid bills, or more than half his annual turnover.The cutoff by Mustaklem and other suppliers has fueled a shortage of key drugs in Palestinian hospitals, making the health sector the latest victim of a deepening financial crisis for the Palestinian Authority. “If there is no reversal in the current trend, the Palestinian Authority will not survive this year,” predicted Abdullah, a former government minister. The current finance minister, Nabeel Kassis, hasn’t been as specific about the timing, but warned last month that at some point the debt-ridden government would just become too feeble to continue.For more than a decade _ ever since Israel sharply restricted Palestinian trade and movement following the outbreak of the second uprising in 2000 _ the Palestinian Authority has had to rely on foreign aid to close a budget gap.It managed to reduce the shortfall, from half the budget in 2008 to less than one-third last year. But Palestinian officials say major donors have been withholding aid, some as a means of apparent political pressure.For example, the Palestinians had counted on $200 million from the U.S. in budget support in June, but the money hasn’t come through yet. The payment was held up by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who is seeking more information about the funds, according to a congressional source.Lehtinen’s office and the committee declined to comment publicly about the hold. Top Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist 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 Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk An easing of some restrictions in recent years, including a loosening of Israel’s 5-year-old Gaza blockade, led to economic growth, reaching 9.8 percent in both territories in 2010. But international economists say the upturn cannot be sustained unless Israel releases the Palestinian economy from its shackles.Israel hasn’t done so, citing security concerns, and the growth has been tapering off.However, Israel has also taken some steps to try to alleviate the situation, negotiating a new deal that improves the transfer of tax rebates it collects on behalf of the Palestinians and issuing thousands more work permits for Palestinian laborers, most of whom had been barred from the Jewish state during the uprising.Israel’s government, while willing to offer less than its predecessors in negotiations, has said it wants to help improve economic conditions in the Palestinian territories. A collapse of the Palestinian Authority would force Israel, as military occupier, to assume responsibility for millions of Palestinians, a costly scenario it hopes to avoid.With Palestinian government debt piling up, the Palestine Monetary Authority is now preventing it from borrowing more from local banks. As a result, civil servants have been paid late or only partially. Sponsored Stories Sami Musleh, 36, who works for the Civil Affairs Ministry, only received $1,000 of his $1,250 monthly salary in July. Half his income goes to loan payments and one-fifth to private school fees.Education Ministry employees Munir Barghouti and his wife spend more than half their combined income of $1,340 a month paying off loans, and are worried about falling behind. “Both of us take from the same source (the government), and if this source has no money, we can’t eat,” Barghouti, 34, said.The crisis is starting to hurt private businesses.Some sectors have been more robust than others, particularly construction and IT. But the Palestinian Authority owes private companies some $500 million and has no way of paying it back.The Jerusalem District Electricity Co., a private Palestinian distributor, is owed nearly $175 million, both by the Palestinian government and residents of 12 refugee camps who haven’t paid for electricity in more than a decade.The private company has passed some of the debt to its supplier, Israeli’s Electricity Corp., which is threatening to shut down service to half a million Palestinians starting next week. “Israel won’t inform us which line it will cut,” said Hisham al-Omari, director general of the Jerusalem company. “It might be the president’s headquarters or hospitals.”last_img read more

Kuwaits turmoil brings rare protest partnership

first_img Sponsored Stories The current upheavals began in February elections, when Islamists and backers from sympathetic tribes took control of the 50-seat parliament. They quickly demanded key posts in the Cabinet and debated possible laws such as banning construction of new churches and mandating a death sentence for anyone convicted of blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad.The emir later disbanded the opposition-led parliament and unsuccessfully tried to challenge voting district changes that appeared to give anti-government forces an edge. For months, Kuwait was without a working parliament.For the next election, however, the government has changed the electoral system from one permitting multiple ballots by each voter to a one-person-one-vote arrangement. Opposition groups claim this hurts them because they will not be able to form pre-election coalitions. They also say parliament should be the only venue to change voting rules.Al-Othman, the rights activist, said the move pushed some liberals to join the Islamist-led protests.“It’s more important for me to fight a repressive government that refused to admit that the majority of the people have voted for Islamists,” she said.Fay al-Qassar, a 25-year-old political science graduate who favors liberal causes, said she was angered by the crackdowns on last week’s protest marchers. “I realized we have to be more proactive if we want things to get better,” she said. Despite the rising unrest, the ruling family appears in no imminent danger of an Arab Spring-style revolt such as Bahrain’s 20-month-old Shiite Muslim-led uprising against the Sunni monarchy.But the emerging alliance underscores the complicated challenges for Kuwait’s ruling family as the oil-rich country moves toward Dec. 1 parliamentary elections.Simultaneous pressure from liberals and Islamist conservatives could push Kuwait deeper into a political morass that has already disrupted the economy and raised questions about stability in one of Washington’s most critical military footholds in the region.Kuwait’s importance to the Pentagon rose sharply after the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq in December. It is now the hub for American ground forces in the Gulf, where the U.S. and its Arab allies seek to counter Iran’s military buildup.“This is certainly not a revolution. It is a call for change and serious reform,” said Shafeeq Ghabra, political affairs professor at Kuwait University. “There is an overlapping interest in Kuwait’s many political factions despite their differences. They want balance of power in the political game.” Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Islamists and their allies want power. They are pressing hard to reclaim their hold on the country’s legislature, which is the most politically empowered among the Gulf Arab states.Meanwhile, liberals are rallying around claims the rulers are overreaching. Many have strongly objected to the government’s hard-ball political efforts over the past months that included disbanding the opposition-controlled parliament.This has become the meeting point for the unusual joint onslaught _ that could become the most broad-based challenge to Kuwait’s leadership since it was restored by the 1991 U.S.-led invasion that drove out Saddam Hussein’s forces.“Today we unite together in fighting a bigger entity. The autocracy in Kuwait is stopping true democratic life. We must fight autocracy first,” said Lama al-Othman, a human rights activist and liberal columnist for Aljarida newspaper.“As a liberal, my fight with the Islamist opposition is always ongoing,” she continued. “I refuse repression, I refuse it when it’s practiced by the opposition and I also refuse it when it’s practiced by the government.”At last Sunday’s protest rally, which drew thousands of people, fully veiled women marched alongside others wearing jeans and their hair in ponytails. Men in the traditional white robes of the Gulf chanted with college-age students in t-shirts. Mohammed al-Dallal, a member of Kuwait’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, claimed the Islamists do not seek to bring strict Muslim codes to Kuwait. But the now-disbanded parliament pushed for laws that demanded “modest” dress for women and sought to make Islamic law the exclusive source for all future legislation.“Our battle against autocratic rule can take years, but we will go with it,” he said.Some liberal political leaders, meanwhile, believe anyone who broke ranks to join the Islamists will live to regret the choice.“This is not a fight for liberty,” said Bassam al-Asoussi, a member of Kuwait’s liberal faction the Democratic Forum. “In any revolution, three things should be present: demands for equality, liberty and justice. The opposition today is against these very things.”Eman al-Bedah, another columnist for the Aljarida newspaper, said: “I don’t think that they will clamp down the freedoms of the people. I know so. I am certain.”(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 Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories center_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Comments   Share   Associated PressKUWAIT CITY (AP) – For Kuwait’s embattled rulers, clashes earlier this week with anti-government protesters were more than just a sign tensions may be mounting. The crowds themselves showed the widening nature of the Gulf nation’s political crisis: Stirrings of a rare alliance of convenience between liberals and Islamists against Kuwait’s Western-backed leadership.While it’s not the first time Middle East protests have brought together political foes _ Cairo’s Tahrir Square last year and Iran’s postelection unrest in 2009 had a full spectrum of voices _ Kuwait’s tiny size means that the coalescence of such varied groups could make for an opposition that punches far above its own weight. Four benefits of having a wireless security system Riot police used tear gas and stun grenades against protesters who defied orders to limit the rally to a site in front of the parliament building. Dozens were reported injured or overcome by the gas clouds.Kuwait’s government later ordered a ban on any public gatherings of more than 20 people, while loyalist groups issued a statement pledging support for the 83-year-old emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who has ruled since 2006.The monarchy still has wide public support and many _ even those currently siding with Islamists _ would likely favor the ruling system if any serious attempts were made by Islamic conservatives to impose strict social rules such as curfews on women and sex-segregated universities.The country’s emir controls the government payouts and generous cradle-to-grave benefits that are linchpins of the nation’s social pact. But Kuwait’s rulers are also grappling with the most politically charged landscape among Gulf Arab nations.Parliament has wide powers and opposition lawmakers often make public charges of corruption against Cabinet members, who are mostly hand-picked by the emir. Here, political battles standout in comparison with the country’s Gulf partners such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, where public dissent is rare and is quickly muzzled. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Hamas emerges with gains from Israeli offensive

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Still unclear is whether the Egyptian-brokered truce can deliver the promised end to Gaza’s stifling blockade.On Thursday, the first full day of calm after eight days of fighting, the contrast in mood couldn’t be sharper.Gazans celebrated the cease-fire with fireworks, Hamas militants flaunted their weapons in the streets and a Hamas political leader, Khalil al-Haya, taunted Israel at a victory rally, saying “you can’t invade us.”Israel’s mood was subdued, with some glad a costly ground invasion had been averted, but others disappointed by the inconclusive end of the offensive. Unlike in previous military campaigns against Hamas, Israel had set the bar low from the start, saying it only wanted to end to Gaza rocket fire, not topple the Islamists in charge of the Palestinian territory since they seized it from their rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.The offensive had started seemingly unexpectedly, with the assassination of the Hamas military chief with a missile strike on his moving car on Nov. 14.Over eight days, Israel’s military struck some 1,500 Hamas-linked targets in Gaza and amassed troops on the border, while Israel’s leaders threatened a bruising Gaza invasion, just like the one Israel staged four years earlier. Associated PressGAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Hamas has emerged from battle with the triumphal sense of a hard-won game change: By stopping its offensive when it did, Israel’s hard-line government seems to have grudgingly accepted that the Islamic militant group cannot soon be dislodged from power in Gaza.Hamas dared rocket the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas, then stared down threats of a ground invasion to wipe out the group _ emerging with its rule intact, world figures rushing to the region to put out the fire and key Muslim countries openly on its side. In the rush of diplomacy, Hamas also succeeded in overshadowing its main Western-backed Palestinian rival. But a bigger factor may have been the change of leadership in Egypt.Four years ago, Egypt was ruled by pro-Western Hosni Mubarak, who helped keep Hamas isolated. This time around, Hamas had an effective ally in Mubarak’s successor, Mohammed Morsi, like the Gaza Islamists a member of the region-wide Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi quickly emerged as an effective mediator, since he already had the trust of Hamas and Israel did not want to risk hurting its ties with the Arab world’s most populous nation.Israel’s deputy prime minister, Dan Meridor, underscored Egypt’s importance to Israel, suggesting they share security concerns, including making sure that “Gaza does not become a source of eruption endangering the stability of the region.”Egypt’s sway over Hamas meant that the Islamists scaled back their demand to negotiate a detailed border deal with Israel before halting fire. In the end, Hamas agreed that a 24-hour period of calm would lead to negotiations on the new arrangements.On Thursday evening, a senior Israeli official arrived in Cairo for follow-up talks with Egyptian intelligence. Earlier in the day, the Egyptian intelligence chief had met with the top Hamas leader in exile, Khaled Mashaal, and the head of the smaller sister group Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Shalah, according to Shalah’s deputy Ziad Nakhaleh. But Israel did not send in troops, even after Hamas barraged the Jewish state with hundreds of rockets, including several falling close to the heartland cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem _ something many had believed would surely trigger an invasion.Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, pushing back Thursday against those clamoring for a decisive blow against Hamas, said he was not willing to embark on a military adventure and risk antagonizing the international community.“Hamas won’t be toppled unless Israel retakes Gaza, but I’m not sure that would be wise,” Barak, one of Israel’s most experienced military strategists, acknowledged on Israel Army Radio.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel could always reconsider if Hamas breaks the cease-fire, but that seemed unlikely considering warnings from the U.S. and the West of the high cost of sending ground troops.Israel underestimated Hamas and “fell into a trap,” claimed a leading Hamas hard-liner in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar.Other Hamas leaders bragged that their improved arsenal, including longer-range rockets and anti-tank missiles smuggled from Iran via tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, helped deter Israel’s military. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Hamas’ main gains have been in the political arena. Foreign ministers from the region rushed to Gaza over the past week to show support for Hamas, while the U.S. and Israel grudgingly acknowledged Hamas’ central role by conducting indirect talks.Hamas also managed to show up Abbas, its main Western-backed political rival who _ rendered largely irrelevant _ watched events unfold from the sidelines.Netanyahu’s willingness to negotiate a truce deal with Hamas, while refusing to engage Abbas on the same terms as previous Israeli prime ministers, reinforced many Palestinians’ belief that Israel only responds to force. If Hamas extracts border concessions from Israel, this would further discredit Abbas, the most prominent Palestinian proponent of non-violence and of negotiating the terms of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.Faced with Hamas’ rising popularity, Abbas’ security forces _ who for years had clamped down on the Islamists in the West Bank _ were forced to stand back this week when demonstrators raised green Hamas banners for the first time in years.With Hamas doing the fighting and the negotiating, Abbas and prospects for a two-state solution to the Mideast conflict “are on the losing end,” said the International Crisis Group think tank. Check your body, save your life Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The Israeli offensive, added Washington-based analyst Jonathan Alterman, may have “provoked one of the more profound shifts in Palestinian politics.”___Associated Press writer Lauren E. Bohn in Jerusalem contributed reporting. Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh in Cairo contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The apparent formula on the table is that Hamas halts weapons smuggling into Gaza in exchange for an easing of the Gaza border restrictions imposed by Israel and Mubarak after the Hamas takeover of Gaza more than five years ago. Morsi has eased restrictions on the main Egyptian crossing but not completely thrown it open as Hamas would like.Hamas demands complete freedom of movement in and out of Gaza, while balking at the idea of demilitarizing the territory. However, an Israeli security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations with reporters, said Israel would link the two.Israel’s military, which also deals with Gaza’s border crossings, has presented possible plans for easing restrictions to Israel’s political leaders, the official said.This includes allowing badly needed building materials for reconstruction into Gaza for the first time since 2007 and permitting trade between Gaza and the West Bank, the two territories that flank Israel and that Palestinians hope will one day make up the bulk of their state. Eventually, Gaza-West Bank travel could also be considered, he said.Such border changes, if approved by Israel’s political leadership, could help reboot Gaza’s battered economy, shore up Hamas’ popularity and extend the Islamists’ rule. In exchange, Hamas would have to stop arming itself and essentially give up what is now a main pillar of its power. 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Thai exPM starts trial for role in rice subsidy scheme

first_img Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Patients with chronic pain give advice Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Earlier this year, the National Anti-Corruption Commission recommended that the Finance Ministry sue her personally for at least 600 billion baht ($18.4 billion).Thailand has been plagued by political turmoil that boiled over after the army ousted Yingluck’s brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in a 2006 coup. That putsch was part of a societal schism that in broad terms pits the majority rural poor, who back the Shinawatras, against an urban-based elite establishment supported by the army and staunch royalists who see Yingluck’s family as a corrupt threat to the traditional structures of power.Yingluck’s opponents argue the Shinawatras have used their electoral majority for personal enrichment and to subvert democracy.Tuesday also marks the fifth anniversary of a bloody army crackdown against demonstrators backing the Shinawatras who had occupied downtown Bangkok for two months. More than 90 people were killed in the protests.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 Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home “I am confident in my innocence,” Yingluck told reporters. “I hope the court will grant me justice, and that everything will go according to due process under the law.”Yingluck posted bail set at $900,000, or 30 million baht, and was ordered by the court not to travel outside Thailand without permission during her trial. The next hearing was set for July 21.Yingluck was ousted from her post as prime minister by a court decision that came two weeks before the military staged a coup last May.She is being charged with dereliction in overseeing the controversial rice subsidy program, which temporarily cost Thailand its crown as the world’s top exporter. The same charges also led to her impeachment in January by the military-appointed legislature, which banned her from politics for five years.She faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty, a ruling that would deepen the country’s decade-long political crisis.Her supporters see the case as part of an attempt by the pro-establishment elite to dismantle the political legacy of her family, which has repeatedly won landslide victories in several general elections over the last decade.The program was a flagship policy that helped Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party win elections in 2011, and Yingluck has argued it was aimed at helping poor farmers who were paid about 50 percent above what they would get on the world market. The program, however, racked up losses of at least $4.46 billion as the Thai government stockpiled mass quantities of rice. Prosecutors said Yingluck ignored multiple warnings from several state agencies about possible corruption — none of which has yet been proven in court. BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra entered a plea of not guilty Tuesday at the start of a trial that could see her jailed for a decade, which critics say is part of a politically motivated campaign against her family.Supporters chanted “Yingluck! Yingluck!” as the ex-premier entered the Supreme Court in Bangkok to be formally read the charges against her of dereliction of duty in overseeing a rice subsidy scheme that lost billions of dollars. Top Stories Comments   Share   last_img read more

North Korean exPOWs hope to return home before they die

first_img Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — After the Korean War ended in 1953, Kim Myeong Bok and 75 other North Korean prisoners of war detained in South Korea opted to live abroad rather than risk hostile welcomes in either half of their homeland. Now he wants to come home, though he may find little more than rejection and suspicion.Amid the Koreas’ intense Cold War rivalry, they were labeled traitors, opportunists or fence-sitters. The fates of several North Korean POWs who voluntarily returned home are unknown. Many others have died abroad one by one, and now less than a dozen are believed to be alive. Comments   Share   “More than 60 years have passed but things remain unchanged,” Cho said.In answers to questions about Cho and Kim’s travel plans, U.N. Command spokesman Cpt. Frederick Agee said it only considers for approval border crossing requests that are officially presented by both Koreas. The command and North Korea jointly oversee the 2.5-mile-wide (4-kilometer) Demilitarized Zone that bisects the peninsula.Seoul’s Unification Ministry said it determines whether to endorse a South Korean’s request to visit the North after reviewing overall ties with Pyongyang and other factors.Kim hopes he’s allowed to cross the border through Panmunjom and travel to his hometown of Ryongchon on the North’s northwestern tip. He assumes his parents are dead, but wants to visit their graves, along with the site of the church that he presumes was destroyed.He says he’s a bit scared, but won’t give up.“My Brazil pastor told me North Korea is a dangerous country to go,” he said. “But I still want to go there, even if I run into some troubles.”__Associated Press writer Janie Har contributed to this report from San Francisco.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Kim, now 79 and living in Brazil, is trying to return to his North Korean hometown, at the arrangement of a movie director who’s making a documentary on him and his fellow ex-POWs.He doesn’t have North Korea’s approval yet and may never get it, though he will at least visit the South. He knows this is probably his last chance to try to go home.“I’ve missed my parents a lot, particularly my mother, who took me to a church and told me to believe in Jesus Christ,” Kim said, speaking from the remote Brazilian city of Cuiaba during a recent video interview. “I want to go to the place where my church stood, but it must have been pulled down by now.”Kim lowered his head and wiped away tears when he said his mother often came to his mind whenever he faced difficulties in life. “Forgive me,” he said, weeping.Kim and most of the other POWs who left the Korean Peninsula settled in South America. None could have expected that their homeland would remain so bitterly divided for so long. With an armistice signed but not a peace treaty, the peninsula remains technically at war, with combat troops still facing each other along Earth’s most heavily fortified border. Life at a South Korean island prison camp was also harrowing, he said. South Korean documents say that POWs who supported the North rioted and got into sometimes deadly fights with those who did not.“I was really fed up with the POW camp life. So many people were killed there,” he said.During and after the war, the American-led U.N. forces repatriated more than 83,000 Chinese and North Korean POWs while the North turned back more than 13,000 South Korean and U.N. troops. Tens of thousands of others stayed in the countries they once fought against; North and South Korea accuse each other of keeping at least some of the POWs against their will.In 1954, 76 North Korean and 12 Chinese soldiers who chose third countries were first sent to India as a stopover before being moved to countries where they hoped to resettle. Some wished to live to the U.S., but under an agreement among the U.N. command, North Korea and China, they were allowed to go only to countries that had been neutral in the war.After more than two years of being stranded in India, about 60 ex-North Korean soldiers were eventually able to move to Brazil and Argentina. H.T. moved to the U.S. years after settling in Brazil. About 10 others returned to either North or South Korea while the rest remained in India, according to a 2001 research paper from analyst Cho Sung-hun at the South Korean state-run Institute for Military History. The fate of those who returned to the North remains unknown. Many ex-POWs believe unconfirmed past media reports that they were executed, but Cho said they could have been used as propaganda tools instead.A 1993 documentary film broadcast by South Korea’s MBC television showed the paths many of them took: a medical professor, a quarry owner, a fishing-ship captain. Some were pastors. One was accused of murder and sent to a facility for mentally ill criminals.Kim arrived in Brazil in 1956 and became a farmer, mostly in the western state of Mato Grosso, where Cuiaba is located.Many ex-POWs struggled to get along with other Korean immigrants, mostly from South Korea, who only regarded them as just ex-communist soldiers, according to Cho Kyeong-duk, the movie director who is making the documentary about the ex-POWs’ possible return.“They went to ‘neutral countries’ or third countries but it was ironic that they couldn’t walk a step away from the ideological confrontation,” Cho said.Former POWs have been gradually forgotten in South Korea, but many who recall their stories now view them as victims of the war and the ensuing Korean division. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The POWs left for many reasons: to avoid the North’s harsh systems, to enjoy religious freedom, to build up professional careers. Many feared execution in the North for having been held captive in the South.Many believed their family members must have died during the chaos of the three-year war, which killed millions. They chose not to stay on in the South because they worried about living with the label of ex-North Korean soldiers in a country where they had no relatives or friends.“We are not against North Korea, but the situation was very critical and miserable, so we left Korea and went to other countries and we are so anxious to meet our relatives,” said an 86-year-old ex-POW now living in San Francisco. He asked to be identified only by his initials — H.T. — out of concern for any living relatives he may have in the North.Kim said he surrendered himself to South Korea’s military only a month and a half after being conscripted into the North’s Korean People’s Army in 1950. He said he didn’t want to return to the North, where authorities suppressed Christians and severe poverty forced his family to eat porridge made of soybean residue three times a day. “They are the ones who’ve been standing on the boundary without belonging to either side,” said analyst Chang Yong Seok at Seoul National University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies. “I think they have undergone really difficult lives.”Time is running out for any potential reunions. Ten of the 21 POWs Cho has interviewed since beginning his project in 2009 are dead. He believes the remaining 11 are the last former North Korean POWs sent to third countries: six in Brazil, two each in Argentina and the U.S. and one in India.Under the itinerary of the movie tentatively titled “Return Home,” Cho’s crew is to join Kim as he meets other POWs in Brazil and Argentina and flies to India before coming to South Korea around June 25, the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. Cho said Kim is the only one who has so far agreed to travel with him while others remained undecided.In South Korea, Kim is to visit the site of his POW camp on the southern Geoje Island and the border village of Panmunjom, where the armistice was signed.Cho and Kim have met North and South Korean diplomats in Brazil several times but haven’t gotten approval from either government. The director said his conversations with diplomats suggest that the North does not want them to visit the South and vice versa, but he insists on stops in both countries. 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Blacklist warnings spread on websites in North Korea

first_imgIf not the result of a hack, the scattershot nature of the blacklist warnings and the relative ease with which they can be circumvented would suggest a more tentative and possibly experimental effort at controlling Internet use than the sophisticated Great Firewall that makes it impossible for most Chinese to access Facebook or even the widespread government censorship of Internet sites in South Korea.“This effort seems a bit random,” said James Lewis, an expert in computer security who is a director and senior fellow at the Washington D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Why send a warning about some sites, block some, but not block others? Either the DPRK is developing a more comprehensive policy but changed their mind, or they’ve been hacked.”Lewis added, however, that countries have the right to control their national networks.“In practice, authoritarian regimes or religious regimes control more, democratic regimes control less,” he said. “It’s expensive, so there are often ways to circumvent controls, but most users are too lazy to do this.”Shutting down a particular user or group of users on a social media site isn’t difficult. It can be done either by blocking access to IP addresses or by malicious codes. Instagram itself can and does shut down accounts reported for spam or inappropriate content. Filters to block out specific sites, like the ones used by parents to keep children from viewing adult content, aren’t unusual either. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories TOKYO (AP) — North Korea, already one of the least-wired places in the world, appears to be cracking down on the use of the Internet by even the small number of foreigners who can access it with relative freedom by blacklisting and blocking social media accounts or websites deemed to carry harmful content.The move won’t be noticed by most in the North since hardly anyone has access to the Internet. But it could signal increasing concern in Pyongyang over the flow of real-time photos, tweets and status updates getting out to the world and an attempt to further limit what the few North Koreans able to view the Internet can see. Comments   Share   Parents, stop beating yourself up Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility For most North Koreans, official interference with online activity is anything but subtle.Instead of the World Wide Web, North Korea has its own “intranet,” which looks a lot like the Internet but is sealed off from the global web and allows users to access only a tiny number of government-sanctioned websites. The few North Koreans who are granted Internet access — including some government and military officials, IT technicians and computer science students — get it only in public settings under close supervision.Cell phones are now a common sight in North Korea. There are more than 2 million in use. But while many have access to the domestic intranet and can be used for email and playing games, they cannot be used for international calls and, of course, do not have access to the Internet.That’s why the North’s decision in 2013 to allow Koryolink to begin providing the 3G data service for mobile devices, while restricted to foreigners willing to pay a fairly hefty price, was seen as a litmus test of how far North Korea might be willing to go with online freedoms.While regular users are very few in number, photos from North Korea on Instagram, in particular, have since provided a unique and largely unfiltered window on daily life in North Korea, albeit one limited by the normal restrictions on what foreigners in the North are allowed to see in the first place. But they have also posed a quandary for North Korean officials who are highly concerned about the flow of information and images in and out of the country. Just days before the blacklist warnings were first seen in Pyongyang by The AP, photos of a fire that broke out on June 11 at a major hotel in Pyongyang were widely posted and viewed on the Internet, though the North’s official media did not cover the incident or release any photographs.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Patients with chronic pain give advice Warnings, in Korean and English, are now appearing on a wide array of sites, including social media such as Instagram, Tumblr and Flickr and websites like the South Korean news agency Yonhap, along with specific articles about the country. The warnings say the sites have been blacklisted for harmful content and cannot be accessed.There has been no announcement of a policy change by the North Korean government or the North’s mobile service carrier, Koryolink, a joint venture with Egypt’s Orascom Telecom and Media Technology. With no official confirmation, it was impossible to rule out the possibility the warnings resulted from a hack of some sort.The explicit blacklisting of sites would be a break with past practice in North Korea, when officials most likely monitored the Internet activity of foreign users but did so quietly. The 3G data connection on mobile phones itself has not been disrupted and many sites, including Facebook and Twitter, continued to function normally.But signs of concern that local eyes may be trying to peek into the crack opened for foreigners to use the Internet have been growing.From late last year, Koryolink began blocking the function that allows smart phones to be turned into wifi hotspots that can share their Internet connection with other nearby devices. Officials last year also tightened restrictions on wifi use at embassies, probably to keep local residents from illegally “piggybacking” off of wifi signals near their compounds. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologistlast_img read more

Leak in aquarium floods Dubai Mall

first_imgShoppers in Dubai’s largest shopping mall were evacuated yesterday after the mall’s in-house aquarium started leaking.The Dubai Aquarium, located in the Dubai Mall, is one of the world’s largest and houses 33,000 fish including 400 sharks and stingrays swimming in 10 million litres of water.On Thursday, a crack developed in one of the tank’s panel joints, causing the ground level of the mall to flood and water damage to some of the 1200 shops in the mall.“The crack was pretty big,” an assistant in one of the nearby shops told Times Online.“They stopped the water getting out quickly but a lot of the nearby shops on the ground floor got water damage. I don’t think any of the fish got out. We didn’t have sharks in the mall, luckily”Shoppers and around 100 shops in the mall adjacent to the aquarium were evacuated while services and a maintenance team worked to fix the crack in the 75-centimetre-thick glass. A spokesman for the mall said the leakage didn’t impact the aquarium environment or the safety of the aquatic animals.“The Dubai Aquarium works with international experts in aquarium management and upholds the highest safety standards” he said.The area around the aquarium remained closed for the rest of yesterday afternoon.This incident is the debacle to befall Dubai, with the Gulf state causing controversy earlier this month after the developer of one of its flagship projects tried to cover up the trapping of tourists in a broken lift in the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.Llast_img read more

Fed Govt denies regional tourism is struggling

first_imgThe Federal Tourism Minister has denied the claims of a Commonwealth Bank report that the regional tourism sector is struggling so much that the government should consider buying out industry operators. The bleak outlook in the CommSec report doesn’t measure up against the fact Australian tourism has grown three per cent in the last year, Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said in a report by ABC Rural. Australia’s growth is made even more impressive when viewed in the context of a four per cent decline in global tourism. Mr Ferguson said initiatives like bringing Oprah Winfrey to Australia will boost regional tourism, which he said is doing really well.”There’s no intention to actually go in and buy local businesses out.””CommSec itself perhaps should look at its own arrangements, because there’s a very strong view amongst business that some of these major banks don’t give them support.” Kakadu Lodge, in the Northern Territory, is one of many industry operators who have experienced the disconnect between the government’s claims and the reality of regional tourism. The lodge has experienced a decline in tourist numbers of 20 per cent. General manager Peter Wilson said the high Aussie dollar and cheap overseas destinations are taking their toll.”Yes, certainly Kakadu and I think if you spoke with a lot of the tour operators and other providers out here, they’ll let you know that business hasn’t been as traditionally as good as it has been, especially through the July and August months, which are our bread and butter.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Clast_img read more

Build it and they will come cruising a global phenomenon

first_imgWith more travellers in Europe choosing cruising holidays over skiing vacations, the cruise market in Australia has yet to see its full potential as part of a global phenomenon according to Managing Director, P&O Cruises, Carol Marlow.During a visit to Hong Kong to present a keynote speech at the Jetset Travelworld Conference last week, Ms Marlow said there was “real opportunity in the cruise market that is here to stay”.With over $6.5 billion invested in new ships in 2010 globally and a further 32 new ships on order from now until 2014, cruising is in a market led by supply according to Ms Marlow who said new vessels only fueled further growth.“These new ships are coming in thick and fast creating more demand, and to make sure the market continues to grow,” she said.“Capacity going up, prices going up, means more business and commission for all of us.”Competiting against mature American and European markets, the Australasian market reported a 60 per cent growth between 2002 and 2005, amounting to almost 400,000 people taking a cruise holiday during that period, however according to Ms Marlow, this only represented 1.7 per cent of the population in the region leaving “further area for growth”.With two thirds choosing to cruise in Australia, South Pacific or New Zealand waters, Ms Marlow said there was potential for agents to sell more profitable world cruises to the three per cent that choose to embark upon these detailed itineraries each year.Globally, demand for cruising has continued to spike despite the GFC, with 17.5 million choosing to cruise for their holidays according to Ms Marlow.“It’s a continuing global phenomenon, and this is going to keep growing,” she said, adding that excellent value has been cited as an attributing factor for the growth.Ms Marlow said agents should add value to cruises, rather than discount on price, and continue to advertise and market cruising holidays despite recession times.Also presenting at the Conference, Carnival Australia Regional Sales Manager, David Clark said the company was well on its way toward its goal of one million cruising passengers by 2020.  Mr Clark told agents to utilize Carnival’s popular Polar Online tool to increase sales, citing agencies with Commodore ranking agents usually increased cruising sales by some 10 per cent. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: D.Mlast_img read more

Alliance to benefit passengers Air NZ

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe is eager to move through the formalities of the recently approved alliance with Virgin Blue and work on providing customers with benefits. Mr Fyfe said it could take up to six months to align services and system, after which passengers flying with the carriers would benefit from increased competition, cost savings and more flights between the trans-Tasman, NZ City News reported. “Australia is New Zealand’s largest international visit market, however we are facing increasing competition from other destinations,” Tourism Industry Association (TIA) chief executive Tim Cossar said. “The Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue alliance promises to give Australian consumers more travel options and departure times to fly to New Zealand plus a continuation of competitive fares, and that can only be good for our industry.” Qantas who along with Jetstar, manages up to 32 percent of the trans-Tasman market does not appear to be troubled by the new alliance stating that it will continue to maintain the regions competitive pressure.“The Tasman is obviously a very competitive market for us and both Qantas and Jetstar will continue to offer the best product both for business and leisure travelers,” Qantas spokesperson Olivia Wirth said.last_img read more

Aussies take off to UK summer

first_imgLondon comes in as the most popular European destination Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P As the cooler months set in more and more Australians are chasing the European sun, with a report revealing flights to Europe this June are up 24 percent year on year.The recent report conducted by found that the majority of Aussies heading overseas held a ticket to London, with the city holding the number one spot as the most popular European general manager Renee Welsh said the upcoming Diamond Jubilee coupled with the Olympic Games are luring in the visitors.“Flights to the UK, departing this June are up 68 percent on last year. London has proved more popular than ever thanks to these upcoming milestone events,” Ms Welsh said.The report found that France up 91 percent came in as the second most popular destination followed by the Netherlands, up 26 percent in third position.“Russia and Sweden have also experienced unprecedented growth with June flight bookings up 92 percent and 91 percent respectively on 2012,” Ms Welsh said.“Thanks to the strong dollar and cheaper flight prices, Aussies are now also considering European destinations which weren’t previously top of mind.”Key findings include:Flights to Europe this June are up 24 per cent on last year UK number is the one destination followed by France and the NetherlandsUK bookings up 68 % on last yearRussia and Sweden also experienced unprecedented growth with 92 per cent and 92 percent  increase respectivelylast_img read more

No money no travel Aussies most fiscally responsible

first_imgAustralian travellers are amongst the most fiscally responsible travellers in the world, according to a new study. Accommodating to the money savvy Aussie traveller, STA has launched a new ‘Lay-By’ program, which allows Australians to lock in their holiday at cheaper booking prices and pay them off over time, without using a credit card. STA’s new Lay-By program to assist money savvy Aussies. Image: commons.wikimedia In addition, only 55 percent of Aussie trips booked with STA were made on a credit card, compared to 97 percent in the US and 95 percent booked in the UK.   Meanwhile, 66 percent of Australian respondents said they would ‘raid the piggy bank and pay cash’ to book a trip, while 21 percent said they would be willing to go into debt for their travels.center_img STA Travel research found Aussies are amongst the least likely travellers to go into debt for a holiday, with travellers in the US and UK twice as willing to go into debt to book overseas trips than Australians. Source = ETB News: NJ STA Travel Australia managing director David Green explained research found those booking via credit cards were doing so to lock in cheaper prices.last_img read more