Cancun is well on its way to another recordbreaking year

first_img Thursday, September 29, 2016 CANCUN – Mexico’s #1 destination shows no signs of slowing down, says the Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau, which recently announced a 2% increase in visitors between January and May 2016 when compared to the same period last year.Arrival data shows that U.S. visitors set a record with 1,057,999 visitors, up 5% when compared to the same time frame in 2015. Other countries included in the top visitors list were Great Britain (49,918 visitors), Argentina (29,575), Brazil (28,054) and Colombia (21,540).“The destination continues to evolve year-after-year, always offering visitors fresh reasons to come back again and again,” said Jesus Almaguer, CEO of the Cancun CVB. “Cancun’s constant commitment to the expansion and diversification of its tourism offerings will lead the city into yet another record-breaking year in arrivals.”Some of the most recent updates in terms of renovations, openings and new builds for Cancun include the adults-only Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, which opened in May in Puerto Morelos, and Turquoize at Hyatt Ziva Cancun, an adults-only haven situated in the heart of the resort that opened in July 2016. Also, Temptation Resort & Spa Cancun has closed for a multi-million-dollar renovation project and will reopen in fall 2017.More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaAs Cancun continues to expand its offerings, the lift on flight restrictions established by the U.S. and Mexican government in August will ease travel for visitors by providing them with more travel options and possibly more affordable airfare. Following the announcement, several airlines have jumped at the opportunity to expand into previously unserved cities.Some of these new routes include flights from Kelowna, BC on Sundays with Sunwing Vacations (running from Nov. 6, 2016-April 9, 2017), and daily non-stop flights from JFK New York with Delta Airlines (beginning Dec. 17, 2016).For more information on travel to Cancun, go to www.cancun.travel. Cancun is well on its way to another record-breaking year Share Travelweek Group Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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2019-08-20

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WOW air purchases new jumbo jets – could Asia flights be next

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> REYKJAVIK — Is WOW air heading to Asia? It’s definitely a possibility now that the airline has purchased seven new aircraft, four of which are jumbo-jets.According to Iceland Magazine, Iceland’s budget airline is stirring up speculation that it will soon launch service to Asia with the newly purchased jets, although CEO and owner Skúli Mogensen has refused to confirm the rumours.However, he did tell local news sources that the company was “very interested in Asia”. He also noted that the cost of flying from Asia to Iceland was “unnecessarily high”, with passengers typically having to make one or two transfers en route.Last year, WOW air received its first jumbo-jets, which enabled the airline to launch direct flights to destinations on the U.S. West Coast.With these new additions, WOW air’s fleet now comprises a total of 24 planes. Mogensen said that the company aims to double the number of passengers from three million this year to six million by the year 2019. WOW air purchases new jumbo jets – could Asia flights be next? Share Friday, April 7, 2017 center_img Travelweek Group Tags: Asia Pacific, WOW air Posted bylast_img read more

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2019-08-19

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ACV extends free StormGuard to May 31

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> MONTREAL — Air Canada Vacations has extended its free StormGuard protection to May 31.Applicable to select destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, StormGuard allows clients to rebook their vacation package if the U.S. National Hurricane Center declares a tropical storm warning within three days (72 hours) of scheduled departure.Protection typically costs $49 per person but until the end of the month, ACV will waive the fee. Travelweek Group Tuesday, May 16, 2017 Posted bycenter_img ACV extends free StormGuard to May 31 Tags: Air Canada Vacations, Insurance Sharelast_img read more

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2019-08-19

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200 pilots conveniently call in sick forcing ailing Air Berlin to scrap

first_img Share BERLIN — Bankrupt German airline Air Berlin says its existence is threatened by an apparent wildcat strike after 200 pilots called in sick on short notice Tuesday.The ailing carrier was forced to cancel more than 100 flights including trans-Atlantic connections, causing chaos at several German airports.The airline’s chief executive, Thomas Winkelmann, accused pilots of “playing with fire” as the cancelled flights would cost the company several million euros (dollars), making it less attractive to potential buyers.“A stable operation is an essential precondition for successful negotiations,” Winkelmann said. “This is the only way we can protect as many jobs as possible.”German media reported that the airline is in a dispute with pilots about the transfer of staff to a new owner.Air Berlin declared bankruptcy last month following years of losses and the decision of its biggest shareholder, Gulf airline Etihad, to cease payments. Bids to take over Air Berlin must be submitted by Friday. Source: The Associated Press Tuesday, September 12, 2017 Tags: Air Berlin, Travel Alert 200 pilots conveniently call in sick, forcing ailing Air Berlin to scrap flights << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Two new members join Carnival Cruise Lines Executive Partner Advisory Board

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> MIAMI — Carnival Cruise Line has welcomed two new consortia partners to its 2018 Executive Partner Advisory Board: Ensemble Travel Group and Signature Travel Network.Now comprised of 16 travel executives, the board provides feedback and shares input on various trade initiatives with the line’s senior sales leadership team. It meets annually and provides ongoing feedback throughout the year as needed on decisions impacting trade programs and strategies.Among the 16 members is Vancouver-based Matthew Eichhorst, President of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. Remaining members, all of whom were selected by Carnival’s sales leadership team, include:David Crooks, Sr. Vice President, Product & Operations , World Travel HoldingsMichelle Fee, CEO, Cruise PlannersJackie Friedman, President, NexionAnthony Hamawy, President, Cruise.comEmerson Kirksey Hankamer, President & CEO, Vacations To GoSarah Henshall, Sr. Vice President, Travel & Branch Operations, AAA CarolinasAshley Hunter, Vice President of Sales Development, AvoyaKathryn Mazza-Burney, Executive Vice President, Sales, TRAVELSAVERSKoreen McNutt, Sr. Director Global Cruise, Expedia GroupLibbie Rice, Co-President, Ensemble Travel GroupJohn Rowley, Co-Founder & CEO, International Cruise & Excursions Inc. (ICE)Marcia Rowley, Co-Founder & COO, International Cruise & Excursions Inc. (ICE)Alex Sharpe, President, Signature Travel NetworkDon Walker, Co-Owner, WMPH VacationsRick Zimmerman, President, KHM TravelMore news:  Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youth“We rely on the valuable feedback of these accomplished travel industry leaders and look forward to their ongoing and impactful advice throughout the year,” said Carnival’s Senior Vice President of Sales & Trade Marketing Adolfo Perez. “This group represents a rich diversity of agency model types, which helps us implement strategies that more broadly benefit all agents selling Carnival.” Tags: Carnival Cruise Line, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, People Two new members join Carnival Cruise Line’s Executive Partner Advisory Board Travelweek Group center_img Posted by Wednesday, April 18, 2018 Sharelast_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Sandals promotes social groups with new booking option for agents perks for

first_imgSandals promotes social groups with new booking option for agents, perks for clients Share Posted by Thursday, January 17, 2019 Vawn Himmelsbach Tags: Montego Bay, Perks, Sandals Resorts MONTEGO BAY — Agents now have more options for booking groups — including social groups — with Sandals Resorts, thanks to a group code option, expanded meeting spaces and perks for clients.While couples-only Sandals is known for romance, the company is also promoting its properties for meetings and social groups, along with weddings.A ‘social group’ is any group that doesn’t qualify as a wedding or corporate incentive. This could range from sports (tennis, golf or scuba diving) and themed trips (culinary, wine or spa), to birthdays, reunions or groups of friends travelling together, according to Grant Lawlor, National Groups Manager with Unique Vacations (Canada), the worldwide representative of Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts.Grant Lawlor, National Groups, Sandals Resorts (Credit: Vawn Himmelsbach)And now there are two ways an agent can book a group: a contracted group, or a group code. “The traditional way in Canada is contracted groups through a tour operator,” said Lawlor. “We have a new way to book groups that’s really catching on, and it’s called a group code. Basically, it’s taking individual FIT bookings and we link them together to create a group, so there’s no commitment to a contract, no deposit down, no risk for an agent.”With group code, room blocks are not held; space and rates are not guaranteed until booked and deposited (and it’s not applicable to incentive groups). A contract guarantees the rooms are held out of inventory and the room rate is guaranteed once booked. However, if an agent wants a contract for five rooms, Sandals requires a 10% deposit (and a tour operator requires a non-refundable deposit for every room).“So there’s a risk involved,” said Lawlor. “With group code, you just book one couple today and if they think they can bring a bunch of friends we can issue a code — there’s no commitment, no money tied to it, and if they reach five rooms, the code goes into effect and it becomes a group.”While group code is a fairly new concept in Canada, it’s already popular in the U.S. “You get the same benefits without the risk, and you can book direct with us or through tour operators or a combination,” said Lawlor. “It applies to weddings too, but we see the most success with this in Canada on the social group side because our tour operators for weddings offer 90-day, no-deposit weddings, so that’s extremely popular.”With social groups, the magic numbers are five and three: a five room minimum and three-night minimum stay. The group must overlap for three nights, but some can come early or stay longer.This option can help an agent “look like a hero to their clients,” said Lawlor.Social groups receive a private complimentary group dinner, a private complimentary group cocktail reception with hor d’oeuvres, and a group portrait session (however, only meeting and incentive groups have access to private group check-in). Always included is access to a guest arrival lounge at select airports, unlimited spirits and wine, resort-wide Wi-Fi and golf at select resorts with complimentary green fees (ideal for golf groups).Social groups also qualify for Sandals’ free room offer — the sixth room is free from September to Dec. 24, and the 12th room is free from January to August.A social group can divide the savings amongst themselves, but Lawlor also suggests agents organize hosted trips. For example, an agent can approach their local golf course and team up with a golf pro to accompany participants on the trip (and the golf pro gets the complimentary room). Or, a yoga instructor or chef can promote the trip to their clientele, and once five rooms are booked, the organizer stays for free.At Sandals, up to 20% of a social group could be made up of singles (so if 10 rooms are booked, two could be singles). “There’s definitely a market out there and a lot of groups will have one or two singles, whether it’s wedding or social,” said Lawlor. For family reunions, multigenerational groups or social groups with a lot of singles (say, a girls’ getaway), a group code could be applied at Beaches Resorts.Sandals has plenty of options for booking groups, with 15 Luxury Included properties throughout the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Grenada and Barbados. Customizable meeting and function spaces range from 500 to 10,000 square feet, and assistance can be provided for on-site activities, special group functions and team-building activities.For weddings, clients receive a certain number of bells and whistles depending on how many rooms they book. But clients can now choose which concession they’d like, rather than being told which concession they qualify for, “so it’s more freedom for the bride and groom to customize their wedding,” said Lawlor.While Sandals has multiple properties in Jamaica, two have new offerings ideal for weddings and social groups.Sandals Montego Bay features a new weddings lounge with a bridal suite, newly renovated non-denominational chapel, and new beachfront swim-up honeymoon butler suites in the renovated Seagrapes building, as well as a new high-tech conference centre.Sandals Montego Bay’s Conference CentreAnd Sandals South Coast features over-the-water honeymoon butler suites on Jamaica’s lush South Coast within a 500-acre wilderness preserve. Each room and suite overlooks the two-mile beach, and the resort offers 14,000 square feet of meeting and convention space including a three-level theatre and new Latitudes over-the-water bar.Latitudes Overwater Bar, Sandals South CoastFor agents, group code can make it easier to start booking social groups and even weddings. “Some of Sandals most successful agents — our Chairman’s Royal Club members — do groups,” said Lawlor, “so it’s extremely lucrative.” << Previous PostNext Post >> About Latest Posts Vawn HimmelsbachContributor at TravelweekVawn Himmelsbach has been writing about travel for more than a decade for media outlets such as CBC.ca, Metro News, Flare, Sweet Travel, PlanetEye Traveler and Hotelier, among others. She is co-founder of Chic Savvy Travels, a travel website for women, has contributed to a guidebook on China, and has been published in a book of non-fiction, called Emails from India. She has spent more than three years working and traveling abroad in Asia and Latin America. Latest posts by Vawn Himmelsbach (see all) More storefronts, new zero interest payment option for The Travel Agent Next Door – May 7, 2019 Smooth sailing onboard Uniworld’s newest super ship in Bordeaux – April 24, 2019 Sandals promotes social groups with new booking option for agents, perks for clients – January 17, 2019last_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Debut for Star Wars Galaxys Edge May 31 at Disneyland Aug 29

first_img BURBANK — Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open ahead of schedule at Disneyland Park in California on May 31 and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida on Aug. 29.Guests planning to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park between May 31 and June 23, 2019, will need valid theme park admission and will be required to make a no-cost reservation, subject to availability, to access the land.Information on how to make a reservation will be available at a later date on Disneyland.com and the Disney Parks Blog. Guests staying at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels during these dates will receive a designated reservation to access Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge during their stay (one reservation per registered guest); valid theme park admission is required.On opening day for Phase One, guests will be transported to the remote planet of Batuu where guests can become part of the story as they sample galactic food and beverages, explore merchant shops and take the controls of the most famous ship in the galaxy aboard Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.Phase Two, opening later this year, will be Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which Disney promises will be “the most ambitious, immersive and advanced attraction ever imagined”, which will place guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance “and will blur the lines between fantasy and reality”.The decision to open the new attractions in phases was made “in light of tremendous demand”.The depth of storytelling is part of the total immersion that will distinguish the two, 14-acre lands – the largest and most technologically advanced single-themed land expansions ever in a Disney park – from any other themed land in history.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upDisney says the new lands build off decades of collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm Ltd., a global leader in film, television and digital entertainment production, including the Star Wars franchise. The work on Star Wars dates back to 1987, when the groundbreaking Star Tours attraction opened at Disneyland Park in California.Here’s a look at the highlights… Tags: Disney, Openings & Renovations, Star Wars Travelweek Group Friday, March 8, 2019 Opening later this year, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance places guests right in the middle of the Rebellion and gives them an active role in the fight against the First Order, including a faceoff with Kylo Ren. Their journey takes them inside a full-size starship and aboard a nearby Star Destroyer.What does Blue Milk actually taste like? That question and more will be answered when guests visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and experience the new land’s expansive array of food and beverages. Guests will walk through a bustling street market, where vendors offer various local delicacies, including an Outpost Mix of uniquely flavored popped grains from Kat Saka’s Kettle, a unique popcorn snack with a combination of sweet, savory and spicy flavors.Oga’s Cantina offers exotic beverages served in unique vessels and spirited musical entertainment provided by DJ R-3X, otherwise known as Rex, the former Starspeeder 3000 pilot droid from the original Star Tours. Rex reinvents himself as the cantina’s DJ.Ogas CantinaA multi-purpose transport shuttle docked on top of a large hangar will beckon guests into Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, a designated location for traveling food shuttles. In the Black Spire Outpost market, Ronto Roasters will draw attention from passersby with its large podracing engine firing up a barbecue pit for mouth-watering Ronto Wraps.Ronto RoastersThe lively market of Black Spire Outpost includes merchant shops and stalls filled with authentic Star Wars creations. At Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers, guests will have the opportunity to customize and craft their very own lightsabers. Inside Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, guests will find a selection of rare items for sale representing different eras of the Star Wars galaxy, including holocrons, ancient Jedi and Sith artifacts, lightsabers and more. The Black Spire Outpost market will also feature the Creature Stall. Guests will also find the Toydarian Toymaker.Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the first land within a Disney park designed to integrate with the Play Disney Parks mobile app, which debuted last year and offers interactive adventures and experiences that bring surrounding environments to life at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. When guests use the app, it will provide new opportunities for them to engage with the land, such as translating a galactic language, learning what’s hidden inside crates and containers, or accomplishing certain tasks by participating in missions. Guests also can use the Play Disney Parks app to interact with a variety of elements in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, such as droids, ships, media screens, door panels and antenna arrays. << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Set to open at Disneyland Resort on May 31 and at Walt Disney World Resort on Aug. 29, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, will take guests into the cockpit of “the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.” They will take the controls of the Falcon in one of three unique and critical roles as the ship hurtles through space. Share Debut for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge May 31 at Disneyland, Aug. 29 at WDW Posted bylast_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Trafalgars 2020 USA Canada includes new State Explorer trips

first_img Travelweek Group Tags: Trafalgar << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by TORONTO — Trafalgar has released its 2020 USA & Canada program, including new trips and experiences. The company says clients can save 10% off per person on select 2020 USA & Canada trips when paid in full by Dec. 18, 2019. The release of the 2020 program includes the introduction of new ‘Active’ itineraries featuring a walk or a hike most days. Guests can take on different trails best suited to their fitness levels, says Trafalgar. Meanwhile ‘State Explorer’ trips, as the name suggests, give clients a deeper look at specific states and what makes them so unique, in Hawaii, Colorado, California and Massachusetts, home of Martha’s Vineyard.Trafalgar has also announced a brand new concept for its ‘City Explorer’ trips to San Francisco and New York. Trafalgar travellers can choose from included ‘Daily Choice’ options, to tailor their days with hand selected inclusions. New York’s various boroughs and San Francisco’s various districts are all explored with the expertise of ‘Local Specialists’ who are experts in each of these areas, says Trafalgar.More news:  Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next month“Canadian guests today want a deeper travel experience, as well as seeing all the sights they’ve always dreamed of, and Trafalgar has the balance right,” says Trafalgar’s Global CEO, Gavin Tollman. “We are constantly innovating to offer our guests new, eye-opening experiences expertly planned out by our passionate North American team and are so excited to share the connections we have in this part of the world. Our new JoinTrafalgar trip, deep diving into USA’s Native American culture in particular is something truly different, which we know guests will absolutely love.”Highlights for the 2020 lineup include the new Scenic Wonders of Newfoundland, Labrador and Ile Saint Pierre, an overnight stay in Martha’s Vineyard as part of Trafalgar’s ‘Stays with Stories’ collection and a visit to a family-owned Okanagen Valley winery on The Great Trans-Canadian Journey.center_img Trafalgar’s 2020 USA & Canada includes new ‘State Explorer’ trips Wednesday, June 19, 2019 Sharelast_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Costa Rican officials approve fare hikes on 676 bus routes

first_imgThe Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) approved fare increases for 676 bus routes across the country that will enter into force this week.The decree was approved and sent for publication in the official newspaper La Gaceta last Friday. The fare hike likely will take place no later than Wednesday. On Friday, a private citizen filed an appeal before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court to prevent the increase.According to ARESEP, the hike is the result of calculations that takes into account operation costs such as fuel, salaries and administrative expenses.With the new hike, 71 percent of bus routes will have higher fares ranging from ₡10-₡100 ($ 0.02-$0.20). Another 13 percent will have increases of ₡100-₡200 ($0.20-$0.40), while 8.3 percent of companies will have adjustments of ₡100 to ₡500 ($0.20-$1).Also, 121 routes did not receive an increase, and 198 routes will see fares decrease, as they received increases in October and November, ARESEP officials stated. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Cuban blogger faced cheers concerns in Florida

first_imgNo related posts. MIAMI, Florida – Dissident Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez paid a visit to Miami on Monday, home to the biggest community of Cuban-Americans, who welcomed her with cheers – and some concerns.Here since Thursday as part of an international tour that also included a stop at the White House, the award-winning blogger and journalist spent some bittersweet time over the weekend meeting with relatives who had left the Americas’ only communist country for the United States two years ago.On Monday, the 37-year-old visited Miami’s Freedom Tower, a highly symbolic landmark to the more than 850,000 Cuban-Americans in South Florida who fled the Castro brothers’ more than five-decade rule.“Welcome Yoani Sánchez, we support you in your struggle for Cuba’s freedom,” read one of the banners waving in honor of the writer who was named by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2008.Yet she is still largely unknown in her own Caribbean nation of 11 million next door, where the state controls all media and Internet access is limited.“Yoani has become an icon of the struggle for freedom of speech, and for Cubans’ rights,” said Ramón José Sánchez of the Miami-based Democratic Movement.“She represents a fresh vision of new and progressive ideas, which are reaching the international community, about what the Cuban regime really is,” he said. “She has managed to tell the world what we all wanted to say but for some reason no one heard.”But some members of hardline groups such as Vigilia Mambisa are critical of her support for ending U.S. economic sanctions on Havana. A full U.S. embargo has been in place since 1962.“I don’t think that she is defending the situation of political prisoners the way she ought to be,” said Miguel Saavedra, leader of that group.Still, Yoani Sánchez drew a mostly warm crowd that included everyone from multimillionaire music producer Emilio Estefan to humble workaday Cubans who have emigrated in droves, year after year for decades.The Cuban government refers to Cubans living in Florida as part of a vast “Miami mafia” bent on undoing its communist revolution.Yet from Miami, Sánchez said she would take away “the idea of [Cuban-Americans] who are multifaceted, democratic, and inclusive, the way I would hope Cuba will be someday.”The dissident is on a global tour after Cuba issued a reform in October that allows its citizens to travel abroad for the first time without a reviled and costly exit visa, and which also gave Sánchez her long sought-for permission to travel. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Backlash continues over hydroelectric power projects in Guatemala

first_imgGUATEMALA CITY – The streets of Guatemala City brimmed for a few hours last Thursday morning with as many as 20,000 protesters from the countryside. The demonstration was intended to apply pressure on the nation’s highest court, which is currently considering the constitutionality of a plan to expand energy projects throughout rural regions of Guatemala.While the core issue the Constitutional Court is considering is whether imminent domain can be used by President Otto Pérez Molina for the construction of new electricity transmission towers, the protesters came with a host of issues related to the expansion of hydroelectric projects and the price of electricity in Guatemala’s outer departments. The protesters primarily complained that the price of electricity was too high – up to 50 percent of monthly wages outside of the capital region – and that expanded electricity projects like hydroelectric dams would displace communities and result in land seizures. Related posts:Inter-American Dialogue honors Guatemalan businessman, civic activist Salvador Paiz Attorney general out in May, says Guatemala court Panel warns of Central America’s increasing dependence on Petrocaribe Guatemalan police ordered to remove Spanish Embassy protesters ‘dead or alive,’ witness testifies Facebook Comments While hydroelectric projects are often carried out under the auspices of development, the end result historically has been that although rural communities may find themselves displaced from their land and with rivers they depend on diverted, there are few benefits. Electricity remains hard to find and expensive in many parts of Guatemala, and communities do not receive any kind of financial benefits from the power produced by new facilities. Many rural communities see new hydroelectric projects as primarily benefitting corporate and government interests.“One thing that we are seeing … when you look at a map of the new electricity rings that they’re creating [is that] the location of the hydroelectric dams coincides with mining and extractive industry projects,” Alford-Jones said. Due to the social instability caused by these projects, new military installations soon follow.“The state puts the extractive companies as the focus of development,” Daniel Pascual, coordinator of the United Peasant Committee told Prensa Libre. “They have not taken into account the worldview of the indigenous towns, centered on the respect of the fountains of life.”While the Guatemalan government is required by law to consult with communities before major projects, this rarely happens, and the dozens of local referenda that have been held to block projects have by and large been summarily ignored.Last Thursday evening, 14 communities in Petén lost power as a result of torrential rains. The power was restored Friday morning.Benjamin Reeves is a freelance journalist based in Antigua, Guatemala. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog. @NuestroDiario Campesinos ya van sobre 7a ave de la zona 9 hacia el centro de la ciudad pic.twitter.com/xMrQj7UZ5I— Sandra Valdez (@SandraValdez5) March 6, 2014 Another issue is the nationalization of power companies. While electricity production and distribution is managed by a public company in the capital region, the rest of the country relies on private power companies. Consequently, the cost of electricity is far higher in rural regions of Guatemala, although Erick Archila, minister of energy and mines, argued before the court that an estimated $31 million of electricity is stolen through ersatz connections throughout the country, which contributes to the high price of power. The proposed expansion of electric towers is meant to combat this problem, at least in part.Nevertheless, Guatemala also has a legacy of expanding hydroelectric power at the expense of indigenous communities. The construction of the Chixoy Dam and related Río Negro massacre in the early 1980s continues to be a divisive issue. The Guatemalan government has thus far failed to pay $154.5 million in reparations, an issue that caused the U.S. government to suspend aid to Guatemala’s army until the situation is rectified.“There’s no justice for the people whose human rights were violated,” Kelsey Alford-Jones, executive director of the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission USA, said. Major hydroelectric and mining projects are notorious for “corruption and rubber stamping of environmental impact reports,” which has “led to severe lack of trust in public institutions.”A report released last week by Guatemala’s Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office identified 57 points of conflict in the nation that “generate a lack of governability,” director Mario Minera told the daily Prensa Libre. Of these 57 sources of conflict, at least 17 are hydroelectric projects, including Chixoy and another project, Xalalá, in Quiché. This project endangers at least 50 rural communities.“The Xalalá project is huge,” Alford-Jones said. “It’s a project that’s incredibly contentious, [and] that’s been staled due to widespread … community opposition.”Another hugely divisive project is the Barillas Dam project in Huehuetenango, where a community leader was killed in 2012, and a soldier died in October 2013. According to Alford-Jones, “distrust” and a “history of human rights violations … are leading to a lot of the tension there.”In September, with Barillas under a state of martial law, the government issued a series of arrest warrants against community members on what are seen by many as trumped-up charges. @NuestroDiario trafico sobre 7a ave. Zona 9 por marcha de Codeca pic.twitter.com/MK4U8yIQAZ— Sandra Valdez (@SandraValdez5) March 6, 2014last_img read more

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2019-08-19

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World Cup upsets focus fans on football instead of protests

first_imgRelated posts:Most Brazilians don’t want to host the World Cup With focus on next round, winning Group D less of a priority, says Wanchope In Costa Rica, pride for La Sele’s historic World Cup play VIDEO: Even in defeat, Costa Rica celebrates SÃO PAULO – Visions of a World Cup punctuated by protests and violence in Brazil are fading as the highest scoring tournament in a half century wins over fans in the first four days of matches.The first 12 games of the 2014 World Cup included five come-from-behind wins, upsets of defending champion Spain and No. 7-ranked Uruguay and no ties. The 41-goal spectacle took the edge off of public outrage over white elephant stadiums burdening public coffers and failed urban infrastructure projects, concerns that fueled Brazil’s biggest demonstrations in two decades last June.While protesters have continued to denounce the event’s $11 billion cost, unrest was eclipsed by celebrations in São Paulo’s Vila Madelena neighborhood after the national team came back to beat Croatia 3-1. Argentines flooded into Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach to watch Lionel Messi play at the Maracana stadium. The momentum even prompted a rebuttal by President Dilma Rousseff three days after she was jeered by Brazil fans at the opener, warning World Cup naysayers not to confuse politics with soccer.“Four days before the World Cup, there was an enormous concern over protests in the streets, but the atmosphere is changing,” said Marcos Troyjo, an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, in a telephone interview from Rio de Janeiro. “We’re north of 30 goals scored and there have been a number of surprises. The matches are good, the stadiums look great on TV, and the level of discontent voiced on the streets at least in the past two days has been toned down. The World Cup is landing.”There have been 3.4 goals per match since the World Cup began on June 12. If the ratio is sustained throughout the month-long tournament, it’d be the highest average since the 1958 event in Sweden.Highlights include a diving header by Netherlands forward Robin van Persie to help defeat Spain, which beat the Dutch in the 2010 final in South Africa, and Costa Rica’s three goals to upset higher-ranked Uruguay.Teachers demanding better salaries were among 150 protesters that marched on Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia Sunday, chanting songs against Rousseff’s handling of the World Cup. They were outnumbered by police monitoring the march.A few hundred protesters marching on Rio’s Maracana stadium with signs reading “FIFA Go Home” were met by military police officers, who responded to protesters throwing molotov cocktails by deploying pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets, the state security secretariat’s press office said in an email statement.The Associated Press reported it has a video allegedly showing a Brazilian police officer firing what appears to be a live pistol round at protesters near the stadium.The officer who fired his weapon has been removed from policing protests and will give a deposition for an internal affairs investigation to determine if there was any “irregularity” in his conduct, the Military Police’s press office said in an emailed statement. It is not yet clear whether he was firing at protesters, the press office said.Saint Clair Milesi, spokesman for World Cup organizing committee, told reporters in Rio Monday morning that the incident occurred outside the stadium and is the responsibility of local law enforcement officials. Japanese supporters wait for the start of the Group C football match between Ivory Coast and Japan at the Pernambuco Arena in Recife during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 14, 2014. Toshifumi Kitamura/AFPIn the beach-front city of Fortaleza, taxi driver Josivan Freitas, 46, waited for customers at the seafront near a group of Mexico fans. The city hosted the Costa Rica-Uruguay game and will hold Brazil’s match against Mexico on June 17.“There has been some mindless violence with the protests,” he said. “But now it’s time to enjoy soccer.”While work on Brazil’s airports remained unfinished as the World Cup started, that hasn’t yet caused problems for fans crisscrossing the country to attend games in 12 cities from Manaus, the capital of northern state of Amazonas, to Porte Alegre, in Brazil’s South. Yesterday, a group of Chilean fans chanted for their team as they waited at a luggage carousel in Rio’s Galeao airport. Nearby Argentines responded with songs of their own.“There’s a predominant climate of fraternization,” Rousseff told reporters in Brasilia late Sunday.Rousseff said the mood shift reminded her of when she watched the 1970 World Cup while imprisoned by Brazil’s military dictatorship. The advance of Brazil’s national team in that event began winning over fellow inmates who had refused to support the squad because they expected victory would only strengthen the military regime, she said.“Brazil’s team represents our nationality,” she said in an emailed statement. “It is above governments, political parties and interests of any groups.”With assistance from Alex Duff in Salvador, Brazil, Juan Pablo Spinetto, Tariq Panja and David Biller in Rio de Janeiro and Mario Sergio Lima and Raymond Colitt in Brasilia Newsroom.© 2014, Bloomberg News Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Mexico leaders popularity hits new low polls show

first_imgRelated posts:Clashes as Mexicans hold rally for 43 missing students Mexico police, protesters clash ahead of grim anniversary of 43 missing students Mexico’s Peña Nieto pledge to find students falls short for families Parents of 43 missing students in Mexico wage hunger strike MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s approval rating has hit a new low, opinion polls showed Monday, amid outrage over his government’s handling of the presumed massacre of 43 students.As Peña Nieto on Monday marked two years since he took office, surveys by the country’s two leading newspapers showed that more than half of Mexicans disapprove of the job he is doing.The poll by El Universal showed that only 41 percent approve of his performance, while Reforma found that only 39 percent are satisfied.Reforma said it was the worst approval rating for a president since Ernesto Zedillo in 1995-1996.New protests were planned on Monday over the disappearance, and apparent slaughter, of 43 college students at the hands of a drug gang allied with corrupt police in the southern state of Guerrero in September.Last week, Peña Nieto unveiled a plan to disband the country’s notoriously corrupt municipal police forces and put state authorities in charge of security in towns across the nation.The survey by El Universal and pollsters Buendia and Laredo was conducted among 1,000 people between November 8 and 12. It has a 3.5-point margin of error.Reforma interviewed 1,020 Mexicans between November 20 and 23 and its survey has a 3.1-point margin of error.Related: Clashes as Mexicans hold rally for 43 missing students Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Civil Registry now issues digital birth marriage and death certificates

first_imgCosta Ricans who are living abroad or outside the capital – or those who just want to avoid waiting in line – can now request and receive digital birth, marriage and death certificates online.The Supreme Elections Tribunal’s (TSE) Civil Registry launched a new service last week that allows people to request and receive digital versions of these documents.TSE Director of Technological Strategies Dennis Cascante Hernández told The Tico Times that the digital certificates have the same legal validity as printed ones issued at TSE offices.Each digital certificate costs ₡1,575 (about $3), which covers the costs of processing the online transaction and the stamps that validate the legal document.The digital documents come in PDF format and include an alphanumeric security code. That code allows any interested party to confirm the certificate’s validity for up to 30 days from the day it was issued.Cascante noted that while certificates do not have an expiration date, some public agencies and private companies request people to submit certificates issued within a certain period of time.“For that reason, we only allow validation for up to 30 calendar days,” he said.How does it work?The new service is available from the TSE website under the “Certificaciones Digitales” tab. The page can be accessed on computers, smartphones and tablets.The link takes users to an online form where they can select the type of certificate they require and fill out their personal information.The system then will ask users for credit or debit card information. The online platform takes Visa or Mastercard, issued in Costa Rica or in any other authorized country.Finally, the system requires a valid email address. Upon completion, the TSE will send an email confirming payment details and with the digital certificate attached.“The confirmation message containing the PDF document will arrive within minutes,” Cascante said.The same link also allows users to confirm the certificate’s validity at no additional charge, using the security code provided in the PDF document.The TSE’s Civil Registry issues nearly three million printed certificates each year, Cascante said. The agency expects the new system to allow them to issue some 90,000 digital certificates per year. Facebook Comments Related posts:Fuel prices set to rise for the second time this year Want to open a business in Costa Rica? Start with the basics RECOPE opposes referendum that could break its fuel market monopoly Dollar exchange rate down following Central Bank’s intervention announcementlast_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Costa Rican scientists find new type of bacteria

first_imgRelated posts:Researchers find specimen of Costa Rican frog believed to be extinct Could seaweed be Costa Rica’s food of the future? Costa Rican researchers want to use nature sounds in healing therapies Mysterious rock that fell in Costa Rica is a meteorite ‘of great scientific interest,’ UCR says A group of microbiologists from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) has discovered a new type of bacteria belonging to the Rickettsiae group, considered one of the most harmful to humans.Researchers have reported the new species to the international community with the scientific name “Candidatus Rickettsia nicoyana.” The name refers to its discovery on a tick found on a bat in the Nicoya Peninsula, in the province of Guanacaste.Adriana Troyo, a researcher with the UCR’s Center for Research on Tropical Diseases, said in a public statement that Rickettsia is a group of bacteria potentially pathogenic — deadly — to humans.“We still don’t know whether the Candidatus Rickettsia nicoyana can make people sick, but identifying it is the first step in the process of studying it,” she said.The UCR research center said there are currently 32 species of Rickettsiae registered in the world. Of these, 22 are dangerous for people and can cause illness and some can even be deathly. Microbiologists are now conducting tests on the newly found species at different temperatures.One of the tests’s goals is evaluating its behavior at 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 °F), the average human body temperature, to determine whether it can be deadly. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Holy Week offerings for those in need

first_imgRelated posts:Name that beach On the ice and Florida-bound Whatcha lookin’ at up there? Costa Rica’s Castillo Knights on the road People arrange agricultural products donated for people in need as part of a Holy Week event at San José’s Central Park on March 28, 2018.Would you like to submit a photo to our #TTPicOfTheDay series – the view from your home or favorite Costa Rican spot, or any other image you care to share? Please send horizontal photos at least 1100 pixels wide to kstanley@ticotimes.net. We’d love to see the sights with you. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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2019-08-19

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Australian PM apologizes for forced adoptions

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Check your body, save your life Sponsored Stories CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered a historic national apology in Parliament to the thousands of unwed mothers who were forced by government policies to give up their babies for adoption over several decades.More than 800 people affected by the policy cried and cheered as they listened to the apology in the Great Hall of Parliament House and responded with a standing ovation when it was finished. Comments   Share   Top Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice Among unwed mothers, adoption rates were as high as 60 percent in the late 1960s, the report said.The committee could not estimate how many adoptions were forced but said they numbered in the thousands.After Gillard spoke, opposition leader Tony Abbot also spoke in a gesture of bipartisan support for the apology.He was heckled by some who saw his choice of words as insensitive.Angela Barra, 45, who was adopted as a newborn said her biological mother Pamela O’Brien had been upset by Abbott’s use of the term “birth mother” instead of plain “mother.” She also said he shouldn’t have mentioned adoptive parents to such an audience or speak of people’s right to put their children up for adoption.“A lot of upset mothers in there lost their children because of demand for babies,” Barra said outside the hall.“People were forced to give their babies up; they were drugged, they were shackled to their beds … they didn’t relinquish their babies; their babies were taken,” she added.Christine Harms, who gave birth at age 15 to a disabled son who died 13 years later in state care, said criticisms of Abbott had been too harsh. “I think some of the people are a bit hard on that poor man,” the 60-year-old said. “We can’t all say the right, exact words.”(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The seven-member Senate committee began investigating the federal government’s role in forced adoption in 2010 after the Western Australian state parliament apologized to mothers and children for the flawed practices in that state from the 1940s until the 1980s.Western Australia was the first of five state and territory governments to apologize for forced adoption. Australia has eight such governments.Roman Catholic hospitals in Australia apologized in 2011 for forcing unmarried mothers to give up babies for adoption and urged state governments to accept financial responsibility.Catholic Health Australia, the largest nongovernment hospital operator in Australia and which provides 10 percent of the nation’s hospital beds, said the practice of adopting out such children to married couples was “regrettably common” from the 1950s to the 1970s.Adoption in Australia is mostly controlled by state laws, but the report found that the federal government had contributed to forced adoption by failing to provide unwed mothers with full welfare benefits to which a widow or deserted wife would have been entitled until 1973.Australian adoptions peaked at almost 10,000 a year in 1972, before rapidly declining. The report found that decline could reflect the availability of welfare, the use of oral contraceptives and the legalization of abortion. A national apology was recommended a year ago by a Senate committee that investigated the impacts of the now-discredited policies. Unwed mothers were pressured, deceived and threatened into giving up their babies from World War II until the early 1970s so they could be adopted by married couples, which was perceived to be in the children’s best interests, the committee report found.“Today this Parliament on behalf of the Australian people takes responsibility and apologizes for the policies and practices that forced the separation of mothers from their babies, which created a lifelong legacy of pain and suffering,” Gillard told the audience Thursday.“We acknowledge the profound effects of these policies and practices on fathers and we recognize the hurt these actions caused to brothers and sisters, grandparents, partners and extended family members,” she said.“We deplore the shameful practices that denied you, the mothers, your fundamental rights and responsibilities to love and care for your children,” she added.Gillard committed 5 million Australian dollars ($5 million) to support services for affected families and to help biological families reunite. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonalast_img read more

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2019-08-18

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McCain Israel concerned about Mideast peace deal

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   McCain says he shares Netanyahu’s concerns about whether some parts of the plan being discussed are enforceable, viable options that do not jeopardize Israel’s security.McCain was in Israel with fellow Republican Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, following a visit to Afghanistan.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement JERUSALEM (AP) – Republican Sen. John McCain says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “serious, serious concerns” about parts of the proposal Secretary of State John Kerry is using to broker peace with the Palestinians.McCain spoke Friday in Jerusalem where Kerry is making his tenth visit to craft a peace accord.Kerry met a second time in two days with Netanyahu and planned to travel to Ramallah later on Friday to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Top Stories last_img read more

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2019-08-18

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Watchdog IRS erased backups after loss of tea party emails

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) — IRS employees erased computer backup tapes a month after officials discovered that thousands of emails related to the tax agency’s tea party scandal had been lost, according to government investigators.The investigators, however, concluded that employees erased the tapes by mistake, not as part of an attempt to destroy evidence.As many as 24,000 emails were lost because 422 backup tapes were erased, according to J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. George says those tapes “most likely” contained emails to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner, who has emerged as a central figure in congressional investigations. The revelation is likely to fuel conspiracy theories among conservatives who say the IRS has obstructed investigations into the scandal.George is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee Thursday morning about his investigation into the emails. The Associated Press obtained a copy of his prepared testimony.An IRS spokeswoman said Wednesday evening the agency had no immediate comment.George set off a firestorm in May 2013 with an audit that said IRS agents improperly singled out tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections.Several hundred groups had their applications delayed for a year or more. Some were asked inappropriate questions about donors and group activities, the inspector general’s report said.Lerner used to head the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. In June 2014, the IRS told Congress it had lost an unknown number of Lerner’s emails when her computer hard drive crashed in 2011.The IRS had discovered that the emails were lost in February 2014. A total of 422 computer backup tapes were erased a month later, George says in his testimony, and those tapes probably contained additional Lerner emails. The IRS says it has produced 78,000 Lerner emails, many of which have been made public by congressional investigators. IRS officials said no more could be recovered.George, however, said the IRS never examined backup tapes that ultimately produced more than 1,000 additional emails.George started investigating the lost emails last year after the IRS announced they were destroyed. His testimony before the Oversight Committee summarizes the results of the investigation.George says the workers who erased the computer tapes were unaware of a 2013 directive from the agency’s chief technology officer to halt the destruction of email backup tapes.“The investigation uncovered testimony and e-mail traffic between IRS employees that indicate that the involved employees did not know about, comprehend or follow the chief technology officer’s May 22, 2013, e-mail directive to halt the destruction of e-mail backup media due to ‘the current environment’ and ongoing investigations,” George says in his testimony.George says as many as 24,000 Lerner emails were destroyed when the employees erased the computer tapes.After George’s initial report, much of the agency’s top leadership was forced to retire or resign, including Lerner. The Justice Department and several congressional committees launched investigations. Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Men’s health affects baby’s health too Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sobercenter_img Patients with chronic pain give advice Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories How men can have a healthy 2019 Lerner emerged as a central figure in the controversy after she refused to answer questions at two House Oversight hearings, invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself at both hearings. At the first hearing, Lerner made a statement saying she had done nothing wrong.Last year, the House voted mostly along party lines to hold her in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions at the hearings. The U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia declined to prosecute her.___Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatapCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

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2019-08-18

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The Latest on Indonesia Jokowi orders procurement overhaul

first_imgAn investigator walks past the wreckage of the crashed air force transport plane in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. The Hercules C-130 plane crashed into a residential neighborhood in the country’s third-largest city on June 30. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara) Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall He says, “we can no longer simply buy weapons, but should think to modernize our weapons systems.”___12:30 p.m.Indonesia’s air force chief, Air Marshal Agus Supriatna, says he expects no survivors from the plane that crashed on Tuesday.The air force initially said there were 12 crew members on the plane. But the figures for the people on board have been repeatedly raised since then, indicating lax controls and raising questions about whether the plane was accepting paying passengers despite previous promises to crack down on the practice.Hitching rides on military planes to reach remote destinations is common in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago that spans three time zoneWitnesses said flames and smoke streamed from the plane before it crashed.Supriatna has said the pilot told the control tower that he needed to turn back because of engine trouble and that the plane crashed while turning right to return to the airport.___10:50 a.m.Several rows of wooden coffins are lying outside the hospital in Medan, Indonesia’s third-largest city, where remains of victims of the C-130 Hercules plane crash are being brought in ambulances.Officers wearing face masks and white gloves are seen carrying the coffins with the bodies that have been identified into trucks for transport to families. The death toll from Tuesday’s crash jumped to more than 140, indicating a growing list of victims from the neighborhood where the plane went down shortly after takeoff.The air force says there were 122 people on the plane including military personnel and their families.A backhoe has been digging at the crash site, which has been turned into a pile of smoldering concrete. The tail of the plane is still standing in the middle of the neighborhood.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How men can have a healthy 2019 Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories MEDAN, Indonesia (AP) — The latest on the Indonesian military plane crash (all times local):___12:50 p.m.Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo says he has ordered the defense minister and the armed forces commander to undertake a “fundamental overhaul of the management of military weaponry.”In the wake of the c-130 plane crash that killed more than 140 people, Jokowi said Wednesday the weapons procurement system should be changed.center_img Top Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy 0 Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

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2019-08-18

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