Nicaragua sets pace for region under CAFTA

first_imgNo related posts. From the print editionMANAGUA – After six years of record-setting growth in commerce and investment, Nicaragua continues to consolidate its position as the region’s unlikely poster child for the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).Though the Sandinista Front initially attempted to block the trade agreement, claiming it would be a “death certificate” for farmers and small producers, the ruling party has changed its tune once in office. The Sandinista government recognizes CAFTA’s role in attracting foreign investment, boosting exports and generating employment.“CAFTA has been an important tool for development of our country’s trade and exports,” says retired Sandinista Gen. Álvaro Baltodano, head of the government’s National Free-Zone Commission.Baltodano notes that Nicaragua’s exports to the United States have grown 75 percent in the past six years – more than twice the export growth rate of Guatemala, which is in second place in Central America with 32 percent, and more than four times the export growth of Costa Rica, which joined the party late. Nicaragua now boasts more than $1 billion in trade surplus with the U.S., thanks in large part to CAFTA.But are labor conditions improving under CAFTA? Baltodano says yes, thanks to the Sandinista government’s efforts to introduce a “social component” to the trade agreement in the form of Nicaragua’s “tripartite agreement” between labor unions, the government and free-zone factory owners. “CAFTA has made important contributions to Nicaragua, and Nicaragua has made an important contribution to CAFTA, because we gave it social content, something that other Central American countries are now trying to do,” Baltodano says.The tripartite agreement, hatched in 2010, establishes a gradual, annual wage increase averaging 9 percent from 2011-2013, allowing foreign companies to accurately project labor costs without having to renegotiate minimum-wage increases every six months, as required by law. In exchange for wage concessions, labor unions were promised a series of social benefits in areas of health, education, transportation and subsidized food baskets from state food bank Enabas.The tripartite dialogue established labor stability in a normally volatile sector, helping Nicaragua to weather the financial crisis and recover more quickly than other countries.  “Before, there were constant labor conflicts, but with the tripartite agreement we were able to strengthen social dialogue during the crisis and look for solutions,” Baltodano says.Better work ensures compliance The tripartite dialogue also established a beachhead in Nicaragua for the U.S. Better Work program, a global initiative aimed at improving labor conditions in textile and apparel industries. The program, which is funded in Nicaragua by the International Labor Organization, works with major brands in the U.S. including Gap, Levis, Target, Wal-Mart, VF Corporation and J.C. Penny to ensure labor compliance in the supply chain.Better Work Nicaragua is the only program of its kind in Central America and an example of the Sandinista government’s commitment to improving labor conditions under CAFTA, says Elena Arengo, program coordinator for Better Work Nicaragua. “Nicaragua signed this cooperative agreement because they see the labor issue as part of the strategy for the sector. Compliance with labor is important, and the government is on board,” Arengo says.The program only recently began evaluating the first group of seven free-zone companies that volunteered for a baseline evaluation, Arengo says. Although less than 10 percent of free-zone garment companies have signed up to participate in Better Work, Arengo is confident others will join once they understand the commercial benefits of participation.“This is a program that will help factories. It’s going to help them attract brands that are interested in working with suppliers that are compliant with labor laws,” Arengo says. “Good labor conditions are now seen as a factor for competitive business. Brands want to make sure their products are coming from factories that ensure worker protection and workers’ rights.”As a result, slowly but surely, market pressures by educated consumers, initiatives such as Better Work and governments intent on enforcing labor codes are helping to reduce the sweatshop conditions that gave outsourcing a bad name in the last decade.  “I think the situation has definitely improved; we’re not talking about the same conditions that characterized the sector five or 10 years, ago,” Arengo says. “That doesn’t mean challenges don’t exist. It’s a tough industry with lots of challenges, but I don’t think anybody would say the conditions are the same now as they were five or 10 years ago.”Workers, however, claim Nicaragua isn’t quite a proletariat paradise yet. Pedro Ortega, secretary general of the Federation of Textile Unions, says his organization is preparing a formal complaint to accuse free-zone factory owners of noncompliance with their end of the deal under the tripartite agreement. Ortega says only 20 of the 161 free-zone factories supposedly included in the tripartite agreement are complying by providing subsidized food baskets for workers. Other companies, meanwhile, have allegedly denied workers access to health benefits such as free eye surgery from Cuban doctors, because that would mean missing six days of work following surgery. In some of the smaller free zones, Ortega says, factory owners claim they don’t recognize the tripartite agreement at all, insisting it applies only to the larger factories.“The majority of noncompliance is in the smaller free zones that employ fewer than 1,000 people. Those are the companies that are subcontracted by bigger companies, so they don’t take direct orders from the big brand names,” Ortega says.In general, the tripartite agreement is an important advancement, the union boss says. But social aspects must be consolidated if unions are expected to negotiate another agreement after this one expires next year. “This is something we still have to evaluate further,” he says.Tim Rogers is editor of The Nicaragua Dispatch, www.nicaraguadispatch.com. Reporting was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Poll San José mayor leads ruling party picks for 2014 presidential race

first_imgSan José Mayor Johnny Araya is the most popular among a field of potential candidates from the ruling National Liberation Party (PLN) for the 2014 presidential race, a recent poll found.The poll, conducted by consulting firm Borge y Asociados and published Monday in Diario Extra, shows Araya leading Liberation candidates with 37.4 percent support of those surveyed.Rodrigo Arias, brother of former President Oscar Arias and a longtime political adviser, came in second with 21.1 percent, followed by former President Jose María Figueres with 12.7 percent. Antonio Álvarez Desanti received 10.6 percent, and Fernando Berrocal placed last with 2.3 percent. Slightly more than 11 percent of the 1,200 Liberation members polled did not select a candidate.Poll results showed that Arias is more popular among members of the upper class, entrepreneurs, and PLN leaders, while Araya leads among young voters, public employees and members of the middle class. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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US secretary of state to meet with Central American foreign ministers this

first_imgConcerned about Central America’s regional security strategy, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet on Tuesday in New York with the region’s foreign ministers, including Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo.The meeting will be held during a session of the United Nations, Foreign Vice Minister Carlos Roverssi said.U.S. officials said they are concerned with an increase in drug trafficking in the Central America southern triangle, formed by Panama, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Castillo also will meet with representatives from Russia and other countries during the visit to New York. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img

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Battle lines drawn as climate talks dig in

first_imgNo related posts. By Faisal Baatout|AFPDOHA, Qatar – Climate talks got down to the nitty-gritty in Doha on Tuesday as developing countries and the European Union staked out rival positions on the fate of the Kyoto Protocol.Separately, the U.N.’s Environment Program (UNEP) urged negotiators to heed the risk from melting permafrost, which could spew billions of tons of greenhouses gases into the air and accelerate global warming at a stroke.Pressing on the key issue at the 12-day annual parlay, which began on Monday, poorer countries called on the EU to shore up the Kyoto Protocol, a beleaguered and contested treaty on climate change.“Together we face a man made disaster of epic proportions,” said Marlene Moses of the Pacific island of Nauru, heading the Association of Small Island States, which are vulnerable to rising seas.“The Kyoto Protocol must not be an exercise in creative accounting or a public relations exercise,” Moses said. “Commitments must be real, and must deliver effective [carbon] emissions reductions.”The talks are taking place under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, an arena set up 20 years ago at the Earth Summit. Heading the agenda in Qatar is the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s sole binding pact for curbing carbon emissions.The protocol, whose first commitment period runs out on Dec. 31, currently commits about 40 rich nations and the EU to an average five percent greenhouse gas reduction from 1990 levels.Developing countries say Kyoto is vital for meeting the U.N.’s target of pegging global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a goal that on current trends will be dramatically missed.Critics, though, say Kyoto is ineffective, as China and the United States, the world’s No. 1 and 2 carbon emitters, are not included in the binding targets. Securing a second round of Kyoto pledges would clear a major hurdle towards a wider, global treaty that would be sealed in 2015 and take effect in 2020. But delegation statements on Tuesday highlighted differences over how long the next commitment period should last and how big the carbon cuts should be.Moses said the post-2012 commitment period should run for five years, and rich parties should present “ambitious targets that are consistent with the challenge.”The five-year time scale also was backed by the bloc of Least Developed Countries, composed of the poorest economies.“The Kyoto Protocol remains the cornerstone of the international climate regime,” said China, speaking for the so-called BASIC group, which includes Brazil, India and South Africa.“We urge developed-country parties to Kyoto Protocol to raise their level of ambition in Doha, consistent with what is required by the science and their historical responsibility,”Chinese representatives said.But the EU stood by an eight-year commitment period and, in a veiled appeal to the emerging giants to do more, said the period should be seen “as a floor, not as a ceiling.”The 27-nation EU has unilaterally promised to scale back emissions by 20 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, and extend this to 30 percent if other major polluters follow suit. No one, though, has taken up the offer.Along with the EU, Australia and some small Kyoto parties have said they would take on commitments in a second period, but New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Russia will not.The U.S., historically the world’s biggest carbon emitter, signed Kyoto as a framework agreement in 1997, but refused to ratify it after its rulebook had been agreed.Meanwhile, a report by UNEP warned that climate talks had to factor in the threat from melting permafrost, where vast quantities of carbon gases, from vegetation that died millions of years ago, are locked up in ice.“Its potential impact on the climate, ecosystems and infrastructure has been neglected for too long,” warned UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.Warming permafrost could emit 43-135 billion tons of carbon by 2100 and 246-415 billion tons by 2200, the study said. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Rioters turn May Day demonstrations violent in Costa Ricas capital ahead of

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica unions plan large ‘peaceful’ protests on Labor Day PHOTOS: Students, LGBT activists join public workers in May Day demonstration PHOTO REPORT: Marching on May 1 in Costa Rica Public demonstrations during the international Labor Day holiday in San José turn violent as a group of young, self-proclaimed anarchists, started rioting in front of the Legislative Assembly buildings at around 1 p.m.Disturbances broke out when some of the protesters, with masked faces, began hurling rocks and bricks at police officers and members of the media, breaking several of the Assembly building’s windows.Protesters then removed metalic barriers that police had installed to keep demonstrations under control and threw glass bottles – allegedly containing gasoline – against the walls of the building.Police formed a human barrier to protect other demonstrators and media workers, who reported various cameras and other equipment damaged.Police arrested some 20 rioters after officers were injured by rocks and bricks.National Police Director Juan José Andrade reported the seizure of some 30 bottles containing “gasoline or diesel from some of the detainees who intended to use them as Molotov cocktails.”He also said various windows at the Legislative Assembly “were shattered from huge rocks.”Last year, a public protest of students demanding the right to photocopy books for academic purposes ended up costing Costa Rican taxpayers ₡7 million ($14,000) in repairs to walls, windows and doors of the Legislative Assembly, officials said at the time.Before arriving at the Assembly, other protesters from dozens of causes marched in the Labor Day Parade, which included demonstrations from labor groups across the country. That part of the parade was peaceful.“This is the country’s day to express everything that we have problems with,” said Ana Doris González, a teacher from San Carlos who traveled to San José with the High School Teachers Association.A large group of demonstrators dressed as mimes drew attention to the lack of water in regions outside of San José.“The whole country is living without water right now,” said Laura Padilla, one of the demonstrators. “Where I live, we go from seven in the morning until seven at night without a drop.”Costa Ricans opposed to U.S. President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit on Friday were also out in force, with banners and caricatured posters of the president. One of the groups that marched, the National Association of Public and Private Employees, issued a letter addressed to U.S. Ambassador Anne S. Andrew Wednesday morning citing 11 reasons for their opposition to Obama’s visit, including the U.S. foreign policy on combatting illicit drug trafficking in the region, the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba and regional free trade agreements, which they say bring no benefits to the majority of Central Americans, among other issues.“President Obama needs to know that the majority of Costa Ricans do not consider themselves part of the United States’ backyard,” the letter stated. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Mexico drug war shootout leaves dozens dead

first_imgMEXICO CITY – At least 39 people were killed Friday in a gunfight with federal police in a western Mexico region hit by cartel violence, in one of the bloodiest clashes in the country’s drug war.At least two police officers also died in the shootout with armed civilians in the municipality of Tanhuato, in Michoacán state, near the border with Jalisco state, a federal government official told AFP.The overall death toll of 39 was a “preliminary figure,” the official said on condition of anonymity. Local media said as many as 46 armed civilians were killed.Michoacán Governor Salvador Jara said the clash erupted when security forces stopped a suspicious vehicle, prompting its passengers to shoot.“This was the beginning and then it evolved because the preliminary report I have is that those who were attacking were numerous,” Jara told Radio Formula, adding that he could not confirm the death toll.The gunmen took cover in a ranch, where an intense gun battle ensued, according to Radio Formula.Jara said it was “very probable” that the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel was involved but that the attack was under investigation.See: New Generation cartel is Mexico’s latest menaceAnother federal official said the government would make an official announcement late in the day. The security cabinet was reportedly heading to the area.Michoacán and Jalisco have endured some of the worst violence in a drug war that began to escalate in 2006, when the government deployed troops to combat cartels.More than 80,000 have been killed and another 22,000 gone missing nationwide in the past nine years. Related posts:Military helicopter shot down as drug violence surges in western Mexico New Generation cartel is Mexico’s latest menace How chocolate cake led to Mexican drug kingpin’s arrest ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán and the Sinaloa cartel have growing ties to Costa Rica, authorities say Troubled region The Jalisco New Generation drug cartel has launched deadly ambushes against police this year in Jalisco state, but the identity or criminal affiliation of the armed civilians in Friday’s clash was not immediately known.Tanhuato is near Yurecuaro, a town where a former vigilante leader who was running for mayor was shot dead during a campaign event last week.Farmers formed vigilante forces in Michoacán in 2013 to drive out the Knights Templar drug cartel, which has been weakened by arrests of its top leaders.See: A Mexican militia, battling Michoacán drug cartel, has US rootsThe Yurecuaro candidate, Enrique Hernández of the leftist Morena party, was killed by gunmen in a vehicle, while three people were wounded.The government last year turned the vigilantes into a “rural defense” force, but the movement has been marred by deadly infighting since then.In December, 11 people died in a shootout between two self-defense groups.Tanhuato is also near the border with Jalisco state, where the powerful Jalisco New Generation drug cartel has battled security forces in deadly clashes this year.The municipality is a short drive from the town of La Barca, where 64 bodies were unearthed from mass graves in 2013.The New Generation cartel has taken the authorities head-on this year, killing seven soldiers and a policewoman when they took down a military helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade on May 1.The attack on the helicopter came on the day the government announced Operation Jalisco, a military and police strategy against the New Generation cartel.In April, the cartel killed 15 state police officers on a highway near the Jalisco village of Soyatán. A month earlier, the gang killed five federal police gendarmes in the town of Ocotlán. Facebook Comments #Now: Gun Battle in #Mexico Leaves At Least 39 Dead, in Significant Single Toll in Drug War Violence https://t.co/CWA2mUQbfz @vicenews— Daniel Hernandez (@longdrivesouth) May 22, 2015 #Mexico: In confrontations with police and delinquents, various vehicles were set ablaze pic.twitter.com/uNiwEsqv69 via @prensa_libre #Tanhuato,— reported.ly (@reportedly) May 22, 2015last_img read more

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Jacó gold Chatting with Costa Rican surf champion Lisbeth Vindas

first_imgRelated posts:Jacó’s Jason Torres tallies 1st Costa Rican national surf championship win Costa Rican surf team honored by president Costa Rica to host World Surfing Games in August World Surfing Games in Jacó: 5 things to know about attending See also: Costa Rica crowned 2015 world surfing championIt has already been an incredible year for Lisbeth Vindas. In July, the 11-time Costa Rican women’s champion surfer from the Central Pacific beach town of Jacó turned 35; she already has another National Title under her belt from the Women’s Open and a gold medal as part of Costa Rica’s National Team at the International Surf Association (ISA) World Surf Games in Nicaragua.I met Lisbeth approximately 18 years ago. She had already been surfing for two years, often with my younger sister Colleen Hanley Prior, who lived in Jacó at the time. I have long been impressed by her surfing style, especially in the big waves, and it’s great to see how far she has come in her surfing career.She recently took some time to talk about her passion, life growing up in Jacó, and how it feels to be one of Costa Rica’s first pioneers of women’s surfing. Excerpts:TT: Tell us about growing up in Jacó and when you started to surf. There weren’t many other girls surfing or competing in Costa Rica at that time. What motivated you?LV: My grandpa was the first member of our family to live here in Jacó, and he surfed! I started on a boogie board twenty years ago; this is my twenty-year anniversary. Your sister actually told me, “What are you doing? Why don’t you get a surfboard?” and a couple days later I borrowed one of those big, classic, thick boards. I caught my first few waves and fell in love with it. I thought, “This is what I want to do. I want to be a professional and surf all over the world.”There were only a few girl surfers back then. We had to look for girls just to make the finals in the beginning, but after a few years there were more of us. I went to high school, studied and surfed.Playa Jacó is your “home break.” What do you want to say about this break?I surfed my first waves in Jacó, then right away started catching rides to Hermosa every time I could. I love Jacó: it’s a beach break and very easy for people to learn. You can find a lot of different waves around here. I surf all the breaks here. I like to try all the different types of waves.What are some other breaks you like to surf in Costa Rica?Playa Escondida, La Isla, Damas, Quepos, Pavones for sure. Playa Negra, the Caribbean side… oh, there are so many places.What about breaks outside of Costa Rica?It depends on whether we arrive there in swells. Fiji for sure has some of the most amazing, perfect waves. Mentawai Islands, Hawaii, Panama, El Salvador – so many good places. One of my favorites was the Mentawaiis and some good barrels in Fiji. Testing the medal. Courtesy of Lisbeth VindasHow does it feel to have played a huge role in Costa Rica’s growth in women’s surfing and to be a part of the country’s international success in the sport?  I’m very proud to be one of the first surfers in Jacó. I am seeing the results of everything I’ve worked for. It’s not something I deserve; it’s something I’ve earned. I worked for it, and I’m still here working hard and still have a lot of passion. I want to do really good things for the sport. I hope this sport keeps growing and we get more world champions.Explain how you have been able to balance being a wife and mom with your surfing lifestyle. I work really hard to strike a balance between everything. None of this would be possible without Donald Vega of balancenatural.com. He put me through a rigorous physical program and managed my lifestyle, including nutrition, mental and emotional health. I learned so much from him; he succeeded in helping me stay active and in a state of constant improvement at an age when most people [pro surfers] think of retiring.He helped me so I can share my passion with my family. We all work together. Diego is an amazing dad. Julian is a very good kid and we try to enjoy everything we do as a family. Julian is already riding waves, so hopefully we can continue to enjoy that together, catching waves as a family.I believe I’m very blessed and am very thankful for this huge opportunity. Diego and I want to do a lot for the younger kids so they can improve and be professional and go around the world, enjoying this sport.Two surfing friends of yours are [fellow Costa Rican stars] Leilani McGonagle and Paola Rodriguez. Describe what these friendships mean to you. Well, I’m so happy I can be an example for Paola and Leilani – well, Leilani is sometimes more of an example for me!It’s funny because we are always working hard to beat each other [in competition], but in the end we are friends. It makes me work and train harder. I really enjoy competing against them. They work really hard, and I wish and pray for them that they can achieve their goals and dreams. I hope I can be part of that and even help them if I can.What is a challenge or personal goal that you have for the coming year? Costa Rica is starting to get scholarships from the government [for surfing]. I think I’m going to try to do some QS [Qualifying Series] events next year internationally. Ever since the World Games, we are getting more opportunities for our careers, so I will take advantage of that and keep working hard. Next year I hope we’ll see some World Surf League competitions in Costa Rica, and big stars can come and do the QS here. I’d like to work on finding more potential with some of the new kids. I’m not worried about competing and winning next year. I’m going to keep competing, but it won’t be my main thing.Read more “Surf’s Up” stories here.Kate Hanley Heinemann fell in love with Costa Rica, its people, culture and waves, over twenty years ago on a surf trip with some family and friends. She has surfed a number of breaks up and down the Pacific coast, has taught in several of the private schools in the Jacó area, and continues to surf every chance she gets; her company Pura Vida Board Gear offers unique and fun board socks. A version of this interview originally appeared on the Pura Vida Board Gear blog. For more information, contact Kate through the company’s Facebook page. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Saudi Arabia 35 passengers hurt in derailed train

first_imgRIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) – A Saudi civil defense official says a train derailment has injured 35 passengers, one critically, on the kingdom’s lone passenger line.Captain Mohammed al-Hamadi told reporters that the accident took place Wednesday on a train going from the eastern port of Dammam to the capital Riyadh. He says the seriously injured passenger was taken to a hospital by a helicopter, and the accident is being investigated. Parents, stop beating yourself up Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments   Share   center_img More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches The first railway in modern Saudi Arabia, the Hejaz railway from Jordan’s border to Medina, was opened in 1908, but was shut down in 1915.The current line, inaugurated in 1951, was initially run by Saudi oil company, Aramco, but subsequently transferred to the state and since 1968 has been operated as a public corporation and was extended to the capital, Riyadh.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories last_img read more

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US senators urge tougher stand on Syria Iran

first_img Comments   Share   Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Sponsored Stories Associated PressCERNOBBIO, Italy (AP) – U.S. Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham on Friday urged Washington to help arm Syria’s rebels with weapons and create a safe zone inside the country for a transition government. They also called for a far tougher position against Iran over its suspected _ and seemingly inexorable _ drive toward acquiring nuclear weapons capability.McCain blasted President Barack Obama, who defeated him in the 2008 presidential election, for recently setting the “red line” for Syria at use of chemical weapons. McCain argued that with the notable exception of the case of Apartheid South Africa, “sanctions, when we look at history, rarely work” _ and in the case of Iran that’s exacerbated by a sense that the nuclear program has the people’s support.“We have applied very tough economic sanctions on Iran and they have clearly affected the economy of Iran _ but they have not affected the nuclear program one iota,” marveled Lieberman. “By its recalcitrance Iran is presenting the rest of the world with only two choices: Do we accept a nuclear Iran and try to contain it _ or do we take military action? That’s a fateful decision that’s got to be made in the months ahead.”Lieberman noted that the UN nuclear agency has shown “evidence that the Iranians are rushing toward having the capability to develop nuclear weapons (that) would be a total change of the balance of power in the Middle East and more broadly in the world,” since Iran is a patron of terrorist groups. Lieberman said the “red line” should be the acquisition of capability as opposed to the actual construction of a nuclear weapon.Graham said he did not expect Israel _ whose leaders have been saber-rattling all year in what many suspect is a bluff aimed at sparking tougher Western action _ to forever remain inactive. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) “If you’re (Syrian President) Bashar Assad … maybe you interpret that to mean that you can do anything short of chemical weapons before the United States will intervene,” the Republican from Arizona told the Ambrosetti Forum, a gathering of political and business leaders on the shores of Lake Como in Italy.Lieberman and McCain _ who together with Graham have toured the volatile Middle East in recent days _ both argued that the longer the West waits the more jihadists will gain influence in the rebellion.“We should be supplying weapons to the opposition to Assad (and) I strongly support the creation of a safe zone,” said Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, who has since become a Connecticut independent.“The opposition has effectively seized control of a piece of land in northern Syria,” he said. “If we help them protect themselves from Assad’s helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft they can establish a transitional government … I am confident that if we set it up and told (the regime) that if they attacked it there would be a vigorous response, they would not attack it.”He said such a zone would enable potential future leaders now located in places like Istanbul and Paris to establish a presence among the people. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectcenter_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Recent Turkish efforts to push for just such action ran aground at the United Nations, due both to Russian and Chinese opposition as well as lack of enthusiasm in many Western countries for more direct involvement in Mideast tumult, especially after the less-than-stellar outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan.Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, agreed that people in the West are war-weary, but argued that if Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney “would speak out more forcefully about the consequences of doing nothing compared to the consequences of taking a calculated risk, public opinion would change.”“It is better to shape history than to see it pass by,” he said.Lieberman spoke of the human toll.“There is a slaughter going on,” he said of the Syria conflict, whose death toll has reached about 25,000. “Everything that motivated all of us to get involved in Libya is happening in Syria, and more.”He noted that “Assad is the number one ally in the Arab world of Iran, and Iran is that greatest threat to stability in the region and beyond the region at this point.”And on Iran, the three were united in a belief that economic sanctions will not cause Tehran to end its nuclear drive. But he argued that the U.S. should be the one making military threats.“If the Iranians believed that there’s a credible threat of a massive attack by the United States to disrupt their nuclear program and their regime’s survivability, they will start thinking differently.”“I believe (Iranian leaders) feel that a nuclear weapon gives them complete immunity forever because the international community will leave them alone if they get that weapon,” he said. “The one thing I know they cannot possibly believe is that they can survive a conflict with the United States.”Follow Dan Perry on twitter at www.twitter.com/perry_dan Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Check your body, save your life Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories last_img read more

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Israel lawsuit pits Kippa Man against Batman

first_imgThe popular downtown store draws hordes of tourists with its colorful skullcaps, many featuring cartoon characters or sports insignia.The separate lawsuits were served last week. The shop’s owner declined to comment.The Associated Press obtained copies of the lawsuits listing DC and Marvel as plaintiffs on Wednesday.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement JERUSALEM (AP) – DC Comics and Marvel are suing a Jerusalem vendor for selling Jewish skullcaps, or kippas, adorned with unauthorized images of crime-fighting superheroes Batman and Spiderman, a lawyer representing the comics giants said.Lawyer Chagay Netzer said the “Kippa Man” store was violating the intellectual property rights of both companies. DC Comics and Marvel are each demanding 25,500 U.S. dollars in damages and expect the store to stop selling the kippas. 4 sleep positions for men and what they meancenter_img Quick workouts for men Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectlast_img read more

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US denies visiting allegedly missing Iranians

first_imgBAGHDAD (AP) – The U.S. Embassy in Iraq says it has no information on the whereabouts of seven Iranian dissidents allegedly missing following a deadly shooting on their compound north of Baghdad this month.The parent organization of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq dissident group says it has information that an American delegation has met the seven people held by Iraqi forces near Baghdad airport.U.S. Embassy spokesman Rodney Ford told The Associated Press by email Sunday that the claim of an American visit is “categorically untrue.” He says no one from the U.S. government has seen or visited those said to be missing. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Top Stories How do cataracts affect your vision? Comments   Share   Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Iraq on Friday denied that it is holding the seven former residents of Camp Ashraf said to be missing. A disputed shooting on the compound Sept. 1 left 52 MEK members dead.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

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EU protests Russian blacklist of European politicians

first_img Comments   Share   Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober MOSCOW (AP) — The European Union on Saturday protested against a Russian list banning entry for nearly 90 European politicians.The bloc said in a statement that several politicians had been denied entry into Russia in recent months on the grounds that they were on a confidential “stop-list.” The statement said the 89 names on the list have now been shared with EU officials, but “we consider this measure as totally arbitrary and unjustified.” The vital role family plays in society Top Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milkcenter_img Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Phone calls to the Russian Foreign Ministry seeking a comment went unanswered. But the state news agencies Tass and RIA-Novosti late Saturday cited an unnamed foreign ministry official as saying the list was developed in response to sanctions against Russia that the EU imposed over the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.The respected newspaper Kommersant said the list includes European figures with top positions in the military and intelligence spheres.The entry ban comes amid increased tensions between the West and Russia over its alleged support of the eastern Ukraine armed separatists.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 facilitylast_img read more

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Bomber in Saudi Shiite mosque attack identified as Saudi

first_img Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober ErrorOK ErrorOK RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia on Wednesday identified the suicide bomber behind last week’s attack on a Shiite mosque that killed four people as a Saudi national as it offered cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of other terrorist suspects.The attack Friday in the port city of Dammam and one a week earlier on another Shiite mosque in the nearby the village of al-Qudeeh have rattled the kingdom. Both were claimed by the Islamic State militant group, raising concerns of further attacks in the OPEC powerhouse’s oil-rich east. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Men’s health affects baby’s health too The difference between men and women when it comes to paincenter_img Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The Interior Ministry identified the bomber in the most recent blast as 19-year-old Khalid Ayed Mohammed Wahabi Shammari. He disguised himself as a woman and blew himself up in the mosque parking lot after being prevented from getting inside.The Islamic State group had earlier called the bomber a “soldier of the caliphate” going by Abu Jandal al-Jazrawi, a nom de guerre suggesting he was Saudi.The explosive used in that attack was RDX, a military-grade compound that was also deployed in the al-Qudeeh bombing. That earlier attack killed 22 people, making it the deadliest militant assault in the kingdom in more than a decade.The Islamic State group sees Shiites as apostates and seeks the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy. While Saudi authorities have promised to crack down on the extremists, many in its hard-line Wahhabist clerical establishment also consider Shiites to be heretics.In a statement on the official Saudi Press Agency, the Interior Ministry listed the names of 16 suspects wanted in connection with the attacks and warned that dealing with them “will make the person accountable.”It promised a reward of 1 million riyals ($267,000) for information leading to the arrest of the suspects, 5 million riyals ($1.3 million) for the arrest of multiple suspects and 7 million riyals ($1.8 million) for thwarting a terrorist operation. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories last_img read more

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US ambassador praises Australian gay rights progress

first_img Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to Australia told Australian marriage equality supporters on Monday that although their nation continues to ban same-sex marriage, it remains more progressive than his own in protecting the rights of gay employees and sportsmen.Ambassador John Berry, who married his male partner Curtis Lee in Washington in 2013, gave a luncheon speech at Parliament House, where lawmakers are bitterly divided over a draft bill that would allow gay marriage nationwide. Top Stories Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The legislation is expected to go to a vote this year, with conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott opposed to it.Berry contradicted an opening address by Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young of the minor Greens party, who said Australia was falling behind other countries on sexual equality issues.Berry told an audience that included lawmakers from government and opposition political parties that while 37 U.S. states have approved marriage equality, only 18 have passed employment non-discrimination statutes that protect private sector employees from losing their jobs because they are gay.“You would think those numbers might be reversed,” Berry said.“The fact that they’re not shows that this is not an issue where … the feeling is you’re behind. No one is behind here,” he said. “We’re all in a struggle as we seek to move forward in that principle of equality under the law.”Berry also congratulated major Australian football and cricket leagues that have adopted no-tolerance policies toward homophobia within clubs or from spectators.“I wish our U.S. leagues would be as courageous and we continue to press that fight in the United States,” Berry said. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall But Berry offered no advice on whether Parliament should allow gay marriage, saying that was for Australians to decide.Australian federal law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. But federal law also states that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and that the relationships of same-sex couples married overseas cannot be legally recognized.Political momentum to change the law has grown since a recent referendum in which 62 percent of Irish voters called for their constitution to be changed to allow same-sex marriage.Opinion polls show that most Australians support gay marriage. Gay rights advocates say Australia is now the only English-speaking developed country to ban same-sex marriage after the Irish vote.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

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Nuclear deal shows USIran compromise likely Tuesday

first_imgU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks in the garden of Coburg where closed-door nuclear talks with Iran take place in Vienna, Austria, Sunday July 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Sponsored Stories Iranian leaders say the embargo must end as their forces are combating regional scourges such as the Islamic State. And they’re getting support from both Russia and China, who want at least a partial lifting of the restrictions. Moscow, in particular, hopes to expand military cooperation and arms sales to Tehran, including the long-delayed transfer of S-300 advanced air defense systems — a move long opposed by the United States.As a midnight Monday target for a deal approached in Vienna, diplomats said the nuts and bolts of the written nuclear accord had been settled days ago. And Iranian President Hassan Rouhani briefly raised expectations of an imminent breakthrough by proclaiming on Twitter: “Iran Deal is the victory of diplomacy & mutual respect over the outdated paradigm of exclusion & coercion. And this is a good beginning.”Minutes later, Rouhani’s tweet was deleted. He then retransmitted it, adding the word “If” in front of “Iran Deal” to reflect that negotiators weren’t there yet. The proposed pact would impose long-term and verifiable limits on Iran’s nuclear program and provide the Islamic Republic tens of billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions. VIENNA (AP) — A landmark Iran nuclear agreement was taking shape early Tuesday after clearing final obstacles, and a senior diplomat said it included a compromise between Washington and Tehran that would allow U.N. inspectors to press for visits to Iranian military sites as part of their monitoring duties.But access at will to any site would not necessarily be granted and even if so, could be delayed, a condition that critics of the deal are sure to seize on as possibly giving Tehran time to cover any sign of non-compliance with its commitments. Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img Under the deal, Tehran would have the right to challenge the U.N request and an arbitration board composed of Iran and the six world powers that negotiated with it would have to decide on the issue.Still, such an arrangement would be a notable departure from assertions by top Iranian officials that their country would never allow the U.N’s International Atomic Energy Agency into such sites. Iran has argued that such visits by the IAEA would be a cover for spying on its military secrets.On Tuesday morning, the European Union announced that the final plenary of Iran and the six countries negotiating with it will take place at 10:30 Vienna time, followed by a news conference.Contacted shortly before daybreak, the diplomat said final drafting of the deal was still going on. But another diplomat said that the deal was tentatively set to be announced in the afternoon Vienna time. Both demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the confidential negotiations.While access is a key part of monitoring envisaged cuts on Tehran’s present nuclear activities, it is also important for the IAEA as it tries to kick-start nearly a decade of stalled attempts to probe allegations that Iran worked on nuclear arms. Washington says that Iran must cooperate with the IAEA’s probe as part of any overall deal before all sanctions on it are lifted. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories ___Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi contributed from Tehran.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Iranians insist they have never worked on weapons and have turned down IAEA requests to visit sites where the agency suspects such work was going on, including Parchin, the military complex near Tehran where the agency believes explosives testing linked to setting off a nuclear charge was conducted.Iran’s acceptance in principle of access to military sites will give the agency extra authority in its attempts to go to the site and its demands — previously rejected by Tehran — to interview scientists it suspects were involved in the alleged nuclear weapons work.Any deal will go to the U.N. Security Council, which is expected to endorse by the end of the month, to start the mechanics of implementation — long-term, verifiable limits on Iranian nuclear programs that could be used to make weapons in exchange for an end to sanctions on the Islamic Republic.The deal also must address Iran’s call that an arms embargo on it be lifted or at least modified — and U.S. opposition to the demand. Washington wants to maintain the ban on importing and exporting weapons, concerned that an Iran flush with cash from the nuclear deal would expand its military assistance for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and other forces opposing America’s Mideast allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

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Virgin assures Emirates interline despite rival alliance

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A Emirates will continue to interline services with Virgin Blue, though perhaps without a trans-Tasman codeshare, Virgin Blue told e-Travel Blackboard.Regardless of Virgin Blue’s announcement that it will partner with Emirates rival Etihad Airlines, Virgin Blue said its “Emirates interline relationship…will continue”, but possibly without a Trans-Tasman codeshare due to timing conflicts. As part of the first phase of its network review, Virgin Blue recently announced a change to the V Australia Sydney to Los Angeles schedule, a move which will see the airline’s Emirates Trans-Tasman codeshare “likely to end from 20 October”. Under the new schedule, V Australia flights will not connect with Emirates’ Trans-Tasman services as they will be morning departures.last_img read more

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Qantas cull countdown

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Qantas maintenance facilities Employees of Australian flag carrier are sitting on edge as reports fly that the airline is expected to make an announcement this week regarding the future of its heavy maintenance facilities in Victoria and Queensland. The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) fears up to 1250 jobs may be on the line in the wake of a restructuring overhaul, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The consolidation concerns were voiced earlier this year in February by ALAEA federal secretary, Steve Purvinas. Qantas cited a substantial reduction in labour demand over the next five years as the reasoning behind the possible future job casualties. Three Australian workers and trade unions teamed in March to defend employee’s positions and maintain Australia as Qantas’ base of engineering operations. Savings of $100 million are expected to be the outcome of Qantas’ rationalisation plan. ALAEA has informed the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) of safety breaches by the airline in regards to the matter.“They’re making a … safety-based decision around a direction from a board to save [money],” ALAEA federal secretary Steve Purvinas said.last_img read more

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Aussie travellers flock to Jordan

first_imgJust last month US President Barack Obama dubbed Jordan’s Petra “pretty spectacular” and Australians seem to agree, Australian numbers to Jordan showing sustained growth since at least September last year.From floating in the salty waters of the Dead Sea to visiting historical sites made famous in films, Jordan’s attractions are enticing Australians like never before.According to Jordan Tourism Board’s Australian representative, Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan, Australians are visiting Jordan in growing numbers, “many saying it is at the top of their bucket list”.e-Travel Blackboard was in Jordan and spoke with Jordan Tourism Board managing director Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, who said the tourism body was intent on promoting Jordan to Australians.“Australia is a new market and a new focus for us,” Dr Arabiyat told e-Travel Blackboard.Jordan Tourism Board is set to invest in an array of marketing efforts, including a series of familiarisation trips and road shows.“Jordan’s ‘oil’ is tourism and hence their people are incredibly warm to visitors,” Ms Lenoir-Jourdan said.Sometimes referred to as the ‘Switzerland of the Middle East’, Jordan, with its relatively stable government was further endorsed by President Obama who said Jordan “has always been a safe haven”.Over the past five months, travellers from Australia to Jordan have increased by the following amounts: September by 28.2 percent, October by 14.8 percent, November by 6.4 percent, December by 0.4 percent and January by 19.6 percent. Petra, Jordan Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G. A.last_img read more

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MH370 Crash expert certain on black boxes

first_img““You can then then swap out sonar system with imaging system, a camera system to go take pictures of the debris field so you can positively identify that it is aircraft wreckage or something else,” Captain Matthews said. Blue Fin did not discover any objects on its first mission, however, US Navy captain Mark Matthews said that the AUV will continue to measure the density of objects to see if anything is metallic, which could indicate plane wreckage. Australian search officials are concerned that a new AUV may be needed because Bluefin 21 cannot go beyond depths of 4.5km below sea level. Meanwhile, the Automated Under Water Vehicle (AUV) Blue Fin 21 is continuing to look for the wreckage in the depths of the Indian Ocean after its first data finding mission was aborted after six hours. Mr Mearns was previously awarded the Order of Australia in 2008 for helping find the wreckage of the historic ship HMAS Sydney and the wreckage of Air France flight 447 in the Atlantic Ocean. A crash expert is certain that the international search for the wreckage of doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will be solved and the black boxes will be found.center_img “They have got four very, very good detections with the right spectrum of noise coming from them and it can’t be from anything else.” “While the government hasn’t announced that yet, if somebody asked me ‘technically do they have enough information to say that? My answer is unequivocally, yes,” Mr Mearns said. Once any human made objects are found, search command can reprogram Blue Fin 21 to gather high resolution images for further inspection. David Mearns, who is the director of Blue Water Recoveries believes the frequency of the ‘pings’ that Australia’s Ocean Shield boat detected can only be sonar from the MH370 black boxes, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.last_img read more

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IATA Profit expectations stay strong

first_imgSource = ETB News: Lana Bogunovich However, input costs are expected to continue to decline over the next year, due to cost cutting measures. The 2014 Airline Business Confidence Index survey conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), has shown airline profit expectations remain strong and in line with levels seen over the past year. Airline employment is reported to be stable and consistent in comparison to 12 months ago and an expected increase in employment is consistent with the positive profits reported.center_img 76 per cent of airline managers expect passenger travel to grow at a faster rate than shown in the January survey results, with better yields, while cargo yields are expected to decline, despite the expectation of stronger volume growth ahead. In the quarterly survey, airline chief financial operators and heads of cargo conveyed confidence that air transport volumes will continue growing over the next 12 months, which is consistent with recent world trade growth and developments.last_img read more

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