first_imgNo related posts. In developed economies, banks are being squeezed by ultra-low interest rates. Due to either the U.S. Fed’s attempt to stimulate employment by holding that institution’s interest rates near zero, or to European economies in recession or de-pression, bank lending rates in dollars are at historically low levels.This year’s LIBOR scandal, in which several big multinational banks have paid fines for manipulating the benchmark international lending rate, in part reflects the fact that banks can make more money when interest rates are high, due to broader interest-rate spreads (the difference between the average deposit rate that they pay and the average lending rate that they charge borrowers).In Costa Rica’s dual colón-U.S. dollar economy, dollar rates for both deposits and loans are also at record lows. But an odd situation persists with colones. For 30 years before 2007, the colón devalued against the dollar, first violently in the early 1980s, then at a steady 11 percent annual rate starting in 1987. And prior to 2011, the Central Bank was never able to hold colón inflation below double digits. Given this past steady devaluation and high inflation, it was natural that colón interest rates had to be much higher than dollar interest rates, to get people to hold and invest in colones instead of dollars. But since 2007, annual devaluation slowed and reversed, with the colón actually gaining value against the dollar in the last few years, settling at its current exchange rate near ₡500 to the dollar. And in 2011, based on this exchange stability, the Central Bank finally tamed colón inflation, bringing it down to 5 percent. If you look at this week’s Tico Times Economic Activity Report of local bank dollar and colón interest rates, you will see dollar 6-month CD rates at 2.15 percent, against a colón rate of 8.54 percent. On the bank loan side, the average dollar loan rate is 10.87 percent, versus a whopping 20.31 percent for colón loans. These huge differences between colón and dollar rates are in line with the long-term historical norm. But why do they continue, given that the historical pattern has changed? The colón has stopped devaluing against the dollar, and colón inflation is down to a projected 5 percent or lower for this year. The Central Bank is now having to support the ₡500 exchange rate to keep it from falling lower, and expected pressures on the exchange rate for the next couple of years are anticipated to be downwards instead of upwards.In a speech last Sunday, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla took the Costa Rican state banks to task for high colón interest rates, in view of the damage done by these rates to the pocketbooks of average citizens with home, car and credit card debt. Costa Rican banking, especially on the popular consumer level, is dominated by three state-owned banks, which were nationalized in 1948 under the justification that banks should serve national development and not line the pockets of private owners. Over the years, the state banks became bureaucratic and economic black holes, and piggybanks for corrupt politicians. They got so bad that in the ’80s Costa Rica was forced to bring back private banking to force the state banks to reform through competition. This resulted in the mixed public-private banking system Costa Rica now has, which, thanks to first-class supervision by the Banking Superintendency, serves Costa Rica well.But against all financial logic, the state banks, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the government of Costa Rica, pay higher deposit interest rates than the private banks, which have no government guarantees beyond supervision. The state banks, which dominate Costa Rica’s financial market by volume, have increased the “Basic Passive Rate” (BPR), the Costa Rican equivalent of the U.S. Fed’s benchmark prime rate, up from 8.5 percent a year ago to 10.25 percent today (down from 10.50 percent in September). The government of Costa Rica is bringing its bond sales under control, and has ceased its upward pressure on local interest rates. With the recently approved Eurobonds Law, the government will begin going to international markets for an important portion of its financing, further reducing colón interest rate pressure. In view of this, the persistently high BPR is looking more and more like the Costa Rican state banks’ own mini-LIBOR scandal: a benchmark rate kept artificially high to increase bank margins, at the expense of the loan-paying public.Fernando Naranjo, general manager of Banco Nacional – the 800-pound gorilla of the state banks – criticized Chinchilla’s complaints about high colón interest rates as coming from a non-economist. But it so happens that the government names the board of directors of state banks. And, given exchange stability and low colón inflation, state banks don’t have any economic argument to justify paying higher interest rates than private banks. Chinchilla is fully capable of moving beyond “jawboning” to force state banks to curb their self-serving high colón interest rates. Expect colón interest rates to drop in the coming months. Apart from the negative effect on the loan-paying public, there is an even darker side to consider. Current low dollar interest rates and high colón interest rates, coupled with exchange stability and pressure for revaluation of the colón, are a magnet for speculators. The bet, right now, is simple and low risk: exchange dollars into colones, collect the high interest rates, and then convert back into dollars. If the colón revalues, you get a revaluation kicker on top of the high interest rate. Many small, aggressive investors are probably already doing this, contributing to the downward pressure on the colón-dollar exchange rate. Suppose a rogue international hedge fund, with capacity to move money in hundreds of millions of dollars, looked at Costa Rica’s financial market situation and decided to place this same bet in massive amounts. Such money flows could wreak havoc with Costa Rica’s foreign exchange and money markets. Costa Rica would be in big economic trouble. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgMiss Universe 2003 from Dominican Republic @AmeliaVega for the project #Misses4Peace #SOSVenezuela— PageantsNews (@PageantsNEWS) February 21, 2014 For us young people in Venezuela, communication has become one of the most important assets of our time, and our only weapon to vouch for the truth.I will speak about the events that have occurred since Feb. 12 to avoid any form of digression (although it might be necessary in another time and place).Students protested peacefully in several cities of the nation to express their disagreement with President Nicolás Maduro’s regime of misery and lack of safety for the citizens. Undergraduates were asking for safer streets – as the murder rates of a country of almost 30 million topped 25,000 in 2013 – and to end the scarcity of products, along with the country’s elevated inflation, the highest in Latin America.When students took the streets, they encountered violence from the Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela and armed supporters of Maduro’s administration, which have resulted in at least four deaths, countless injuries, several reported missing and those who were held in custody are reporting being tortured. My country is bleeding out, its students are fighting for a better future, security and prosperity #SOSVenezuela #PrayForVenezuela— Emily C. Olivieri (@E_olivierival) February 21, 2014 However, the vast majority of people do not know about any of this. The government implemented a media blackout, which includes the exclusion of TV stations from cable (NTN24), lack of paper for the newspapers and the blocking of Twitter imaging services. We’ve been thoroughly censored. If you turn on your TV, you get women debating about beautiful flowers. Andrea Sofía Crespo Madrid is a young Venezuelan who has lived in San José, Costa Rica,  for the last two years. She is a recent Blue Valley School graduate and plans to study Hispanic Philology at the University of Costa Rica. She has spent the last two months in Venezuela to tend to a family emergency. Facebook Comments I’m literally In tears do you even know what is going on in Venezuela?! Wake up young People we have power to do great things #SOSVenezuela— Kenia Ramos (@Kenia_Ramos1230) February 21, 2014 Mi Inspiración echa foto…#PrayForVenezuela #SOSVenezuela #20F #Inspiracion— Sir Troye (@SirTroye) February 21, 2014 Nonetheless, all hope is not lost. Venezuelans are using social networking sites to share information and have our voices heard. After reading this brief explanation of our situation, you may help us by raising awareness, so everyone finally hears the truth about the violation of our rights as humans and citizens of this country.Be careful when you share information though, because we don’t have an official news source – we only have ourselves. And we’re hoping it’s enough.Reality for all of us comprises empty supermarket shelves, no medicine at hospitals, highly dangerous streets filled with unpunished violence and a worthless currency.  That is why we are protesting.Venezuela does not serve as a good or bad example for leftist tendencies. This isn’t about socialism, communism or capitalism; governments like to hide behind these concepts to infatuate the people and turn them against themselves.This is about militarization, human rights violations, abuse of power and corruption. Related posts:Venezuela looks set to lock away prominent opposition leader Leopoldo López Venezuela protests lose momentum as Maduro toughens his response Venezuela gives US 15 days on embassy staff cuts Venezuelan opposition leader shot dead at campaign event: lawmakerlast_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:Isla del Coco gets a new radar station to fight drug traffickers Solís put on the defensive as joint US-Costa Rican patrols come up for renewal Drug traffickers lure Costa Rica’s struggling coastal fishermen with offers of easy money Mexico drug lord ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán back in jail, betrayed by biopic bid When unidentified helicoptersappeared last year over Costa Rica’s heavily forested southern Caribbean region of Talamanca, residents of the Bribrí indigenous community mobilized. On at least three occasions, the Bribrí reported strange helicopters hovering over their land, including one instance when people on board claimed to be missionaries, despite carrying guns, locals alleged.The sightings along the Caribbean were likely connected to a series of dramatic raids in Limón and the Northern Zone that uncovered a network of improvised helipads and suspected drug camps where assault rifles and precursor chemicals for synthesizing cocaine were discovered last fall.The indigenous community’s vigilance was highlighted in findings presented Tuesday in San José that argued that well-defined indigenous land rights could be a nonmilitary option to combat the encroachment of drug trafficking and its negative environmental and social impacts on forest communities in Mexico and Central America.State recognition of community land rights are a critical foundation for the organizational capacity, social cohesion and sustainable economic alternatives that fortify remote communities from incursion by organized crime, the report’s authors argued.The study from the Salvadoran Research Program on Development and Environment (PRISMA) followed a January article in the publication Science by Dr. Kendra McSweeney, an associate professor at Ohio State University who co-authored the findings, that observed a strong correlation between accelerated rates of deforestation and heavily treaded drug trafficking routes in Central America.Since 2006, Mexican drug-trafficking cartels have turned the isthmus into a major transit point for cocaine and other drugs as authorities increased patrols along sea routes to the United States, which pushed traffickers inland. An estimated 86 percent of the cocaine that travels to the United States passes through Central America, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.“Indigenous communities are very effective [at defending forests from drug traffickers] when governments support the rights of indigenous peoples and forest communities,” Andrew Davis, senior researcher with PRISMA and co-author of the findings, told The Tico Times.Davis said that his group’s research showed that forests managed by indigenous communities or other forest dwellers showed much lower rates of narco-related deforestation than strict conservation areas. Organized crime groups often clear-cut protected forests for informal landing strips or launder illicit profits from the drug trade with legitimate cattle or large-scale agriculture, like palm oil plantations, that require removing forests.Indigenous-controlled forests often require outsiders to have the permission of a local chief or elected leader, and community members have mechanisms in place to report the whereabouts of strangers on their land, McSweeney said. Patrols by these groups using radios and other technology can be key sources of information for authorities to locate and evict drug traffickers.“When you live in a forest, that forest isn’t just a national park to you. It’s your pharmacy, it’s your hardware store, your production plant. It’s where jobs come from; [it’s] the foundation for your economic livelihood,” Davis said, noting that often times park rangers in the region are assigned thousands of hectares of dense jungle without the means to survey it.An alternative to military actionDavis noted that there would likely always be a role for police or military action regarding the expulsion of drug traffickers from protected forests, but he said he hoped the findings would contribute to exploring nonmilitary responses to the conflict.“In Honduras, the military approach has alienated native communities, and [the military has] not worked with them to fight the problem,” McSweeney said. “I’m convinced it would have been much more successful if the [U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration] and Honduran counterparts had worked more closely with communities rather than against them.”“Let native communities do what they do best, which is patrol and monitor, manage their territory, and when they need help they should be able to call on a responsive military to assist,” McSweeney added.“The [state] shouldn’t be bringing more arms into our community, they should be reinforcing our communities with social investment” like education and health care, said Cándido Menzúa, elected leader of the Emberá Wounaan people of Panama.The search for economic alternatives“The question that worries us more than security is how to generate alternatives that keep our young people from falling into drugs. This is where forest management becomes a very positive alternative for our community’s development,” Menzúa told The Tico Times.Many of the communities highlighted in the report practice forms of sustainable logging or agriculture in the forests. But to do that, the state must relinquish some control over these protected lands.Unlike many of the forest dwellers named in the report, Costa Rica’s Bribrí and other indigenous groups do not have autonomy. Pressures over disputed land rights came to a head in 2012 in the southern town of Buenos Aires, when locals and forest communities clashed violently.“There has been a lot of reticence to hand over these lands to communities because of traditional biases and conceptions that they will not be stewards of the land. But what has happened in the past 20 or 30 years is that where we have seen major areas recognized, indigenous territories and other communities, we have found that [they can thrive] as long as their rights are recognized and their economic and social models are supported,” Davis said.The authors observed that drug trafficking and deforestation are most present in areas where land and resource rights are unclear and poverty is rampant.“States need to get rid of the red tape so that community models can thrive,” the PRISMA researcher said.Researchers and community leaders hope that greater recognition of indigenous land rights and locally managed woodlands will contribute to nonmilitary alternatives to deter the expansion of drug traffickers and their damage to Central America’s remaining forests. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:As teacher strike continues, government announces plan to distribute back pay Teachers reject pay deal; education minister says get back to work Teachers divided over resuming strike negotiations Costa Rica’s month-long teachers’ strike comes to an end Mora said the ministry had resolved all but nine cases of 38 foreign teachers who did not get paid due to problems with personal information or identification documents.“Funds to pay all [foreign teachers] exist, we just need to verify personal data in order to issue the payments,” Mora said. Facebook Comments Leaders from public teachers’ unions in Costa Rica on Tuesday accused the Education Ministry (MEP) of failing to live up to a promise to deliver back pay Monday night, as reportedby The Tico Times yesterday.MEP officials had promised that the backlog of teachers’ pay would be resolved by 9 p.m last night.Payments were supposed to have been made for April and the first half of May, but as of Tuesday morning, many teachers said they received only partial payments or nothing at all.Union leaders met with Education Minister Sonia Marta Mora, who took office on May 8, but were unable to reach an agreement to suspend a nationwide strike that began on May 5.Gilberth Cascante, president of the National Association of Educators, said the meeting was suspended after MEP failed to offer a specific proposal to resolve the backlog, which began for some teachers in February. Union leaders also said that MEP’s human resources department was unable to cite an exact figure of actual payments made ​​Monday night.An estimated 7,000 education workers have been affected by a ministry problem transferring to a new electronic payments system, begun just weeks before a new presidential administration took office.Unions agreed to meet again with government officials at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.President Luis Guillermo Solís addressed the situation after his weekly Cabinet meeting on Tuesday — his first in Casa Presidencial since taking office last week — saying that as a former educator, he understands teachers’ frustration.“I will commit all government’s efforts to resolve the technical and administrative problems at MEP,” he stated.  Solís also called on teachers to return to the classrooms.“Education Minister Sonia Marta Mora and I are both educators, and we understand the difficult circumstances you’re going through. Funds to pay teachers exist, and we will make every effort to solve this situation as soon as possible,” the president said.Solís also posted the message on social media:last_img read more

first_img Facebook Comments More than half of Costa Rican households have one or two dogs, but not all dog owners know how to properly care for their pets, a recent study found.The study on responsible pet ownership was released earlier this month by the nonprofit World Animal Protection.The group surveyed dog owners and asked them questions about feeding, medical care and exercise, among other data points.The study concluded that Ticos generally do a good job feeding their dogs, taking them to the vet when needed and treating them with love. But they lag in some other areas that experts say can be unhealthy and even harmful for dogs.Dogs in numbersBased on survey numbers, World Animal Protection estimates that there are 1.3 million dogs with owners in Costa Rica. Most dog owners, 45 percent, have mixed breed dogs, or zaguates, as Ticos call them.Miniature poodle, Chihuahua, American Staffordshire terrier and miniature schnauzer are favorite breeds among those who know their dog’s breed.Nearly half of those surveyed said they have a dog to keep them company and for protection. Ten percent said they have a dog strictly to provide security.The study concluded that Ticos generally have a deep affection for their dogs. Ticos scored well in feeding habits: two-thirds of owners said they give their pet dog food. Almost 20 percent said their dog eats a combination of leftovers and dog food.Melania Gamboa, manager of World Animal Protection’s veterinary programs, said the study shows that Ticos love their dogs just as much as people living in more developed countries, but may not be as thorough with their dogs’ care.For example, she said, nearly eight in 10 owners surveyed said they never collect their dog’s poop. Most dogs do their business in their owners’ backyard or garden, but 12 percent leave their mess on streets and in other public places.Besides sanitation issues, Gamboa said, not collecting your dog’s poop can cause conflicts with neighbors, which can be taken out on the dog.The survey also found that nearly 1 in 5 dog owners doesn’t walk his or her pet.Still, 65 percent said they do take their dogs for walks, while another 18 percent said they let their dogs go out by themselves.“The number of dogs that take unsupervised walks is also a clear sign of irresponsible ownership here,” Gamboa said. Dogs can get hit by cars, get into fights with another dog or get lost or stolen — especially since 72 percent of owners said their pets don’t wear ID tags.World Animal Protection also noted that the survey results in many cases reflect expected pet owner behavior rather than the owners’ actual behavior. “People know the importance of fulfilling their dogs needs but they do not know how to do it properly,” the report states.The study also found evidence of owners’ lack of knowledge in terms of how often to bathe and brush dogs, how often to deworm them and how to get rid of fleas.More than 90 percent of owners said they bathe their dog once a month, and one-third said they brush their dog’s hair once a week. According to World Animal Protection experts, the frequency of bathing depends on the size of the dog, its fur type and lifestyle. Generally speaking, small dogs need a bath every 15 days, and large breeds, once a month.Dogs’ dental health is often overlooked. Experts recommend that owners brush their dog’s teeth every day or at least once a week, and take them to a vet for a full cleaning at least once a year.Most owners said they keep their dogs during the day in their backyards or inside the house, while 12 percent of them said they keep their dogs tied up all day, usually outside.The number of dogs that remain tied up all day is greater in rural areas, especially in the northeastern part of the country and in the Caribbean region.“Keeping dogs tied causes them frustration, boredom, suffering and makes them aggressive,” the report noted.Education neededDespite Ticos’ appreciation for their dogs, the study concludes that it’s necessary to improve education about responsible ownership, including how to handle a dog’s interaction with other dogs and people.The Public Education Ministry this year introduced modifications to school science programs to include lessons on interacting with animals in a healthy environment.Gamboa believes responsible ownership should be part of a broader effort that also involves the community.“Priests in churches should host talks about animal welfare in their communities, and city mayors could ask veterinarians to give free lectures about proper pet care,” she said.World Animal Protection also recommends increasing vaccination and neutering campaigns.The organization surveyed 1,850 homes by phone between December 2015 and January 2016 and visited 150 homes of families without a registered landline. The study has a margin of error of 2.2 percent, the group reported.See a video roundup of the study’s main results (in Spanish): Related posts:President Solís signs new Animal Welfare Law New cases of animal abuse spark criticism of President Solís, lawmakers Signature collection for animal welfare bill referendum set for July Disfigured Costa Rican toucan stars in Discovery documentarylast_img read more

first_imgMartelly also has struggled to disband a group of military veterans who have tried to hold him to his campaign pledge of restoring the army. They had been training before he took office, but his victory emboldened them and they have paraded throughout the capital and countryside, toting side arms and sporting military uniforms, despite government orders for them to stop. Their paramilitary-like presence has embarrassed not just the government but also the United Nations peacekeeping mission.Martelly also suffered for the lack of a strong political party. Only three members of his party hold seats in the 99-member Chamber of Deputies and none in the 30-member Senate, though he’s found allies in both chambers.His political base remains tiny and he counts a tight-knit circle of longtime friends as his advisers, many of them fellow alumni of an elite Catholic high school and many of them foreign to politics. Even then, infighting has been a hallmark of the administration.“They are too close and they don’t open up,” said Claude Beauboeuf, an economist and radio talk show host. “Even those on the inside are crushed sometimes.”Despite the clashes with parliament, anger seldom spilled into the street as it has in past administrations. There have been no major signs of disgust with Martelly aside from a few demonstrations. “I would give myself an eight, eight-and-half, a nine, because everything I did I did without a government,” Martelly said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Everything I did, I did at a time when I had so many problems, when so many people tried to stop me. Everything I did, I did whether the money was there or not.”Asked to name his accomplishments, the president pointed out the school-tuition program, to be paid for with a tax on incoming international phone calls, as well as the clearing of major camps, largely achieved through rental subsidies, the repair of damaged homes and, most controversially, outright evictions from the flimsy shelters of the overcrowded temporary settlements.In the interview on Friday, he also noted the construction of a public hospital in Mirebalais, north of the capital, and start of construction of an industrial park near Cap Haitien that will host textile factories and other enterprises, bringing badly needed jobs to the northern part of the country.“I’m not saying that I’m doing miracles, but I’m surely sending signals that things are being done in another manner now,” Martelly said from his office on the grounds of the ruined National Palace. “The state wants to serve. We want to be close to the people.” Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths 0 Comments   Share   The difference between men and women when it comes to pain More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Sponsored Stories There are no independent studies of the program so far, but education specialist Mohamed Fall of UNICEF said he believed at least 70 percent of the targeted children had received their aid.While ever-inefficient Haitian government has still not completely funded the schools, the aid is a significant sum for many in Haiti, where about half the children didn’t go to school before the quakeTake Dania Nerius, the 38-year-old mother of four children, ages 6 to 17. Her husband lost his right leg in the earthquake, and his job as a mechanic. They nearly had to pull their children from the school. But the tuition program helped her save $360 a year _ a lot in a country where most get by on $2 a day _ so she can pay rent and invest money in her business as a roadside peddler of minutes for a cellphone company.“That helped me,” Nerius said one afternoon, “because the money would’ve otherwise come out of my pocket.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Associated PressPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – In a country where the news is typically bad, if not catastrophic, many people in Haiti look at the past year under a musician-turned-president with guarded surprise.Yes, parliament and President Michel Martelly were in a standoff that hobbled government much of the past 12 months. Yes, less than a quarter of the population has a formal job. And yes, cholera and many other problems still haunt the country. Still known to many by his stage name “Sweet Micky,” Martelly said governing was easier than he had thought and he has no regrets from the first year.But it’s clear there were some major blunders.Police ignored a law granting legislative immunity by arresting a lawmaker who had escaped from jail. The justice minister took the blame and resigned, but the episode infuriated parliament and lawmakers became bent on thwarting him at every turn, opening an investigation into Martelly’s eligibility for office. Instead of dispelling rumors that he was a citizen of another country, which would have barred him from office, he let the allegations fester. It took him several months to put the matter to rest. When he did, he held aloft eight old passports in a performer-like flourish.“He could have done a lot better if he wanted people to rally around him, gotten consensus and not go his own way as an artist,” Sen. Francois Anick Joseph said by telephone. “He caused (a lot of problems) by his way of doing things and his way of doing things is not a democratic way.”Added Joseph: “He wasn’t able to look for consensus because he’s an artist. The lights must be on him.” Disappointment might seem justified for someone like Jean-Baptiste, the mother of two. She voted for Martelly to get her out of a park-turned-encampment. But her forced removal at the hands of city officials was not what she had in mind.Martelly condemned evictions, but they happened anyway. Yet Jean-Baptiste still holds out hope for the candidate who promised change. She offered this unsolicited message to the president: “I hope he can bring down the price of tap-taps,” the brightly colored pickups that transport people for about 40 cents.The signature project of the Martelly administration has been the school program that aims to double the number of children in school. His plan to fund it through a tax on incoming international phone calls and wire transfers upset Haitians abroad who use such services. The $22 million collected is on hold with the Central Bank until Parliament approves its release. The government paid for this year’s tuition by taking money from other parts of the budget, said Miloody Vincent, director of the education ministry’s press bureauVincent acknowledges that the quality of the education may not have improved yet. “The most important thing is to put the kids in school,” he said. “We’re working later to improve the quality of the education.” Top Stories Yet six of the most visible displaced-persons camps that sprang up after the 2010 earthquake have been cleared and several are back to being public plazas; renovations are far along at the international airport; a sprinkling of new hotels and shops have begun to emerge across the capital’s otherwise ruined landscape; and in a country where free education is rare, the government, for the first time, has covered school tuition for 1 million children .It’s hardly a Golden Age. But it’s not bad either for a leader who had never held political office and was best known for often-raunchy musical performances before he took office a year ago Monday. The achievements have come with a parliament so dominated by the party of the man Martelly defeated in his run for president that lawmakers stonewalled his attempts to appoint a prime minister and Cabinet for three-quarters of the year.“Things with Martelly are working for the most part,” said Yrinen Jean-Baptiste, a 34-year-old mother of two children who voted for the musician and says that, so far, she would be willing do so again. “I hope he can do more.”Asked to grade himself on a 1-10 scale, the president, who isn’t known for modesty, grades himself high. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

first_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Associated PressPRAGUE (AP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday he is skeptical that Iran will agree to halt its nuclear program, accusing Tehran of playing a “chess game” with the international community.Just days ahead of a crucial round of nuclear talks with Tehran, Netanyahu said “nothing would be better than to just see this issue solved diplomatically.”“But I have to say I see no evidence whatsoever that Iran is serious about ending its nuclear program,” he said. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany are gearing up for a May 23 meeting with Iran in Baghdad.Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, like energy production. The West and Israel suspect Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Israel says a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran would threaten the Jewish state’s survival.Speaking briefly after meeting Czech President Vaclav Klaus in Prague, Netanyahu called the Iranian nuclear program “the paramount issue of our time.”He repeated Israeli demands to be met for the negotiations to be successful: all uranium enrichment inside Iran has to be frozen, its current stockpile of enriched uranium has to be shipped out of the country and an underground enrichment facility near the city of Qom has to be dismantled.“When this is achieved, I’m the first one to applaud. But until then, you have to count me among the skeptics,” Netanyahu said.Netanyahu did not present any ultimatums, but Israeli officials have said time is running out to avoid military action. Also the U.S. has said it has plans in place to attack Iran if necessary to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons Comments   Share   Top Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Sponsored Stories In Prague, Netanyahu accused Iran of using the talks just to “buy time, pretty much as North Korea did for years,” going “from meeting to meeting with empty promises.”“Iran is very good in playing this chess game,” he said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

first_imgAssociated PressBERLIN (AP) – It looked like a Stuka, partly buried in the muck at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, but researchers now say the wreck German military divers have been recovering for the past week is a totally different _ though nearly as rare _ World War II aircraft.German Military Historical Museum spokesman Capt. Sebastian Bangert said Friday that enough of the plane has now been recovered to make clear it is not a single-engined JU87 Stuka divebomber, but a twin-engine JU88 aircraft. The two Junkers planes shared several parts _ including the engines on many models _ and from the way it sat in the seabed Bangert says it appeared to have been a JU87.But now that a wing section is up, it’s clearly the larger JU88, he said, talking from the deck of the German Navy ship being used in the recovery.Instead of looking at the partially-buried whole wing and the engine on the front of a JU87, it was clear they had been looking at the tip of a JU88 wing and the engine that once hung underneath it, he said.“It looked just like the Stuka in the underwater pictures _ everything that we had brought up had been pieces that were used in the JU87 _ so there was no reason to doubt it,” he said. “But this find is perhaps historically even more important.”Perhaps more importantly, the divers have also found human remains, including a partial skull, which they hope to be able to identify.“Right now there is someone who just knows that their grandfather or great grandfather went missing in the war, to give that person closure is our goal,” Bangert said. “And for us as a history museum, the aircraft is the only way to convey the information … the history behind it, the personnel, how did they live, what did they experience, that is what we want to tell.” Top Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments   Share   Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements The Junkers JU87 _ known by most as the Stuka, which is short for the German word for dive bomber or “Sturzkampfflugzeug” _ is better known than the JU88, though far more of the latter were produced.The JU87 was a single-engine monoplane that carried sirens that produced a distinctive and terrifying screaming sound as it dove vertically to release its bombs or strafe targets with its machine guns.The twin-engined JU88 also served as a dive bomber, but took on multiple roles, including as a tactical bomber and a night fighter.There are only a few intact or virtually intact JU88s still in existence _ including one at the RAF Museum in London, which coincidentally has one of two complete JU87 Stukas on display.There are also several recovered wrecks of both planes.The recovery operation is wrapping up on Friday, but with more than half the plane still buried at the bottom of the Baltic, Bangert said the hope is that they will be able to return to the site at a later date to complete the job.It will eventually be displayed at the German Historical Museum’s Air Force Museum at the former Gatow airport in Berlin.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

first_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories But rebels and civilians in the bomb-shattered Syrian town of Azaz near the Turkish border view such talk as hollow. They are deeply skeptical of all exiled leaders and believe what really matters is their fight on the ground to overthrow the regime.“They have never come up with a united position that will save the people,” said Fadi Hajji, 25, who had been camped out along the Syrian border with Turkey with his wife and two infant daughters for five days. “All they are good at is arguing. They don’t represent anyone here and they don’t help.”There was more bloodshed Tuesday as a car bomb ripped through a Damascus suburb, killing 12 people, according to the state news agency. Activists also said an airstrike in the town of Kfar Nabl killed at least 13 people as fighting raged nationwide.With no end to the carnage in sight, French President Francois Hollande called on the Syrian opposition Monday to form a provisional government, saying France would recognize and support it.Hollande’s statement, believed to be the first of its kind, was quickly shot down by U.S. officials who said talk of a provisional government was premature given the deep divisions within the opposition movement. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of “I see more space than inside it.”Sieda said his group has been contacting other opposition figures and the Free Syrian Army rebels to consult over a transitional government, but admits they have not started discussing names yet.Even if the opposition were to unite, there are serious questions whether the disparate groups have enough popular legitimacy to take control of a revolution and rebuild the nation. The men with guns inside Syria have little use for the political figures or even for Free Syria Army commanders who live in the safety and comfort of Paris and Istanbul.“The SNC is a naive group of people who consider themselves politicians,” said Ahmed al-Ghazali, commander of rebels who control Azaz, the town in northern Syria. “To this day, the SNC hasn’t done anything … Count how many people you see here from the SNC. People here are taking their rights for themselves.”Abu Hassan, a bus driver who fled the nearly deserted town of Anadan in northern Syria because of frequent government shelling and airstrikes, complained that “we hear promises” from exiled leaders “but we’re not seeing anything on the ground.” Some activists complain that SNC is little more than a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, seeking a comeback after the Islamist movement was largely crushed by Hafez Assad in the 1980s.News reports of bearded fighters inside Syria demanding an Islamist state and the increasing number of car bombs have led to fears in the West that the new Syria would follow the model of Iran or Taliban-run Afghanistan.At the Berlin news conference, activists took pains to minimize the Islamist character of the revolt. Amr al-Azm, a professor who lives in the U.S., said fears of Islamist influence were widespread during the Libyan uprising but most voters gave their support to secularist leaders in the July election.Afra Jalabi, a political scientist who lives in Montreal, said the increase in religious symbolism in Syria was “actually a silent protest against a regime that presented itself through its own propaganda as a secular system when it was a macho military system.”__Reid reported from Berlin. Associated Press correspondent Zeina Karam contributed to this report from Beirut, Lebanon.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The head of the main Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Council, criticized the U.S. stand, saying that efforts were under way to forge a united front but that the process takes time _ especially in the midst of a raging civil war.“It seems to me as if the international community is not prepared to take decisive decisions and blames the Syrian opposition for its own shortcomings,” Abdelbaset Sieda told The Associated Press by telephone Tuesday from Switzerland.“Yes, there are differences within the Syrian opposition, and this is normal in any country. But as long as we are agreed on a common vision, these differences can be overcome,” he added. “The international community must make a move before it’s too late.”Those comments were echoed in Berlin by opposition exiles who drafted the 122-page transition blueprint during six months of consultations funded by governments of the United States, Germany, Switzerland and private groups in Norway and the Netherlands.“It is quite easy to say the opposition is fragmented and the opposition has not done enough,” said Murhaf Jouejati, a U.S.-based professor and SNC member. “But we really should start facing realities … to get the international community behind this national uprising against a totalitarian, authoritarian, brutal regime.” Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 0 Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “The only people who do anything are the people inside, the officers and the fighters who are in the front lines. The SNC and the Free Army who are abroad, we’ve never seen anything from them, not aid, not weapons, not ammunition.”As the war inside Syria appears to be grinding to a stalemate, so too is the political struggle. Most foreign powers want to see unity before giving support but the opposition is unable or unwilling to put aside their differences and unite.Absent a united opposition, the dilemma facing the United States and its Western allies is uncertainty over who inside Syria might emerge with real power after Assad.Their fear is that the collapse of the four-decade regime ruled by the Assads _ Bashar succeeded his father Hafez 12 years ago _ could unleash a fierce power struggle in which al-Qaida and other Islamic extremists could gain a foothold. With Syria bordering NATO member Turkey, combustible Lebanon with its powerful Hezbollah militia, unstable Iraq, and a nervous Israel with which it has a territorial dispute over the Golan Heights, that is a daunting prospect.Repeated efforts to unite the opposition have fallen short.An opposition conference in Cairo last month broke down in shouting and shoving matches over such key questions as whether to ask for foreign military intervention and what role religion would play in a post-Assad Syria. Although neither expressed a concrete demand, many in the SNC have been hoping the world community would impose a safe zone along the Turkish border, possibly extending to a no-fly zone over at least some areas, and would more openly supply weapons and ammunition to rebels. The disparate groups are also each hoping for support in any power struggle that might follow a collapse of the Assad regime.Since the uprising began in March last year, Syria’s opposition has been plagued by divisions and infighting. In addition to the SNC, several other opposition groups are known to be making similar plans for a provisional government, including a new alliance headed by veteran opposition figure Haitham Maleh.The strains within the opposition were also evident on Tuesday when the Paris-based SNC spokeswoman Bassma Kodmani, a founding member of the group, resigned. She said the SNC had veered off course.“The project has not achieved its goals and the council has not earned the required credibility and did not safeguard the trust placed in it by the Syrian people when it was first created. It steered away from the course that we wanted for it when we created it. “She said she would continue to work for the opposition, just from outside the council. Check your body, save your life Associated PressAZAZ, Syria (AP) – In the foreign halls of power, the strategy is clear: Syria’s opposition should unite to present an alternative to Bashar Assad’s rule _ a step France’s president says would lead to diplomatic recognition.As a move toward unity, Syrian exiles from the main opposition Syrian National Council and other groups unveiled a blueprint Tuesday in the German capital of Berlin for transition to a democratic, transparent society free of religious and ethnic favoritism. Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonalast_img read more

first_img Four benefits of having a wireless security system Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Al-Jazeera’s TV broadcasts in Arabic and English were not affected.In a statement, the channel said that some of its external servers were compromised. While the company resolved the disruptions, it said, “some users may continue to experience issues for a while longer.”The Qatar-based channel has extensively covered the 17-month-long Syrian conflict. Al-Jazeera has been an influential factor in covering “Arab Spring” uprisings across the region.Qatar is a harsh critic of the Syrian regime and a leading backer of the rebels.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories CAIRO (AP) – The official website of the Al-Jazeera TV satellite channel was attacked Tuesday by hackers backing the Syrian regime.Hackers replaced the home page of Al-Jazeera’s Arabic site with a statement that says the cyberattack was a protest against its coverage of the Syria civil war.“This is in response to your position against Syria (people and government) and for special support of the militant terrorism,” read a statement posted in Arabic, underneath a red stamp reading “hack” in English. In the background was a scene from Al-Jazeera’s English website. Top Stories center_img Comments   Share   Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project The vital role family plays in society Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Check your body, save your life Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement DAKAR, Senegal (AP) – Roman Catholic church officials say nearly 160 graves have been desecrated in the two largest Christian cemeteries in Senegal’s capital.The Rev. Roger Gomis, head of communications for the archdiocese of Dakar, said Thursday that crucifixes had been torn off of gravestones in Christian cemeteries.The church said the vandalism had taken place over the last several months.Vandals took crucifixes, statuettes and other pieces made of bronze without touching those made of iron or aluminum.center_img Sebastien Diatta, whose mother’s grave was among those desecrated, said Thursday that the government must launch an investigation and stop the vandals.Senegal is a predominantly Muslim country in western Africa where Muslims and Christians coexist peacefully.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice Top Stories How men can have a healthy 2019last_img read more

first_imgAssociated PressFORT MEADE, Md. (AP) – A military judge on Thursday accepted the terms under which an Army private would plead guilty to seven charges for sending classified documents to Wikileaks.Col. Denise Lind ruled during the third day of a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade for Pfc. Bradley Manning.The ruling doesn’t mean the pleas have been formally accepted. That could happen in December.But Lind approved the language of the offenses to which Manning would admit. Quick workouts for men Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix She said those offenses carry a total maximum prison term of 16 years.Manning made the offer as a way of accepting responsibility for the leak. Government officials have not said whether they would continue prosecuting him for the other 15 counts he faces, including aiding the enemy. That offense carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.Under the proposal, Manning would admit to willfully sending the following material: a battlefield video file, some classified memos, more than 20 Iraq war logs, more than 20 Afghanistan war logs and other classified materials. He would also plead guilty to wrongfully storing classified information.Meanwhile, Manning’s lawyers are arguing that the charges against the soldier should be dismissed because of what they call needlessly harsh treatment during Manning’s nine months of confinement in a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va.Manning remains on the list of prospective witnesses. Others include a military psychiatrist who examined Manning at Quantico, and the former commander of the confinement facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to which Manning was later moved.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daycenter_img How men can have a healthy 2019 Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

first_img Sponsored Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Feldhay signed a petition in 2008 that supported Israeli soldiers who refused to serve in Palestinian territories, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.Feldhay told The Associated Press in an email that she had traveled to Berlin at the invitation of the Israeli embassy in Germany.After her arrival, the embassy notified Feldhay that National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror “refused to confirm my participation since I am a critical of the government of Israel.”In her subsequent communications with government officials, Feldhay said she was attacked as “an enemy of the state.”“I am amazed that the Council of National Security has found nothing more important in terms of Israeli security than myself,” she said. “It fits other types of regimes than democracy, a regime (where) there is no distinction between opposition to the government and enemies of the state.”Opposition figures have accused Netanyahu and his political allies of trying to stifle dissent and pluralism through a string of bills brought before parliament.One of the measures, assailed by Israel’s attorney general and put on hold, would sharply restrict funding for dovish groups. Top Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Associated PressJERUSALEM (AP) – Israel barred a dovish Israeli academic from taking part in a science symposium in Berlin on Thursday that was part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Germany, drawing renewed charges that his government has little tolerance for dissent.An official traveling with Netanyahu said professor and human rights expert Rivka Feldhay was banned from a meeting of Israeli and German scientists because the prime minister did not want to allow the participation of an Israeli “who tarnishes the name of Israeli soldiers and pilots.” Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Others, passed into law, require non-Jewish new citizens to pledge a loyalty oath to a “Jewish and democratic state.” They also deny state funding to groups that mourn what Palestinians call “the catastrophe” of Israel’s 1948 creation and punish Israelis who advocate boycotting Jewish settlements.The government rejects claims that dissent is being quieted, citing Israel’s raucous press and independent courts.Critics counter that the government has tried to muzzle those institutions as well, saying proposed legislation would undermine the independence of the Supreme Court, the sole check on the Israeli legislature.Journalists have warned of an anti-media blitz through political appointments to the country’s public broadcasting system, sidelining prominent critics and an amended libel law that could put a chill on investigative reports.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daylast_img read more

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement A copy of the report seen by The Associated Press said Musharraf came to the hospital with “uneasiness in the chest, sweating and discomfort in the left arm.” The report said Musharraf suffered from “Triple Vessel Coronary Artery Disease” and that his father had died from coronary artery disease.Musharraf missed two earlier hearings in his case because of bomb threats, and there has been rampant speculation in the media that he would be evacuated from the country under medical pretense.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Check your body, save your life Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies ISLAMABAD (AP) – A Pakistani court trying Gen. Pervez Musharraf on charges of high treason Tuesday said it would examine a medical report on his condition to decide whether the former president can be excused from hearings while he remains in hospital.The court said it would rule on the matter in two days.Musharraf remains at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi, where he was taken last Thursday after suffering what was described as a “heart problem” while on his way to court. Musharraf returned to Pakistan almost a year ago hoping to take part in the country’s upcoming election but immediately plunged into extensive legal problems relating to his near decade in power. The 70-year-old took power in a coup in 1999 and ruled the country until he was forced to step down in 2008 when he became deeply unpopular.The high treason case relates to his 2007 decision to impose a state of emergency and detain a number of judges including the country’s chief justice. The move backfired, leading to widespread protests by the country’s lawyers against his rule.Musharraf’s rush to the hospital triggered suggestions that he was trying to avoid the embarrassment of appearing in a civilian court. The prosecutor in the case, Akram Shaikh, told the court he doubts Musharraf is ill and accused the former ruler of trying to evade appearing in court.A lawyer for Musharraf said Tuesday that he had received a copy of the medical report which suggested Musharraf was suffering from blockage of his arteries and a vertebra problem.The lawyer, Ahmad Qasuri, said it would now be up to the court to take a decision on how to proceed with the case considering Musharraf’s health issues. 5 ways to recognize low testosterone The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

first_imgPARIS (AP) — France has joined a chorus of voices opposing a European Union plan to ease pressure on nations dealing with an influx of Mediterranean migrants by establishing a quota system to share the burden.Prime Minister Manuel Valls says he opposes the proposed plan to set maximum refugee limits for each country in the EU based on population, employment levels and other factors. In comments made Saturday on French TV, Valls said a quota system “was never part of the French propositions.” Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories Comments   Share   center_img Last week Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told RTL radio that France supported the plan, which was already unraveling in the face of opposition among other EU countries.Exact details of the plan haven’t been hashed out, but countries including Hungary, Slovakia and Estonia have already rejected it.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories Baluchistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said the violence began Friday night when the gunmen abducted 25 passengers and killed 19. He said authorities recovered the remaining six passengers, one of whom is in critical condition.Bugti said the abductors initially captured 70 passengers but let around 50 flee.Private satellite news channel Geo TV aired an interview with a man it identified as a survivor, who said the gunmen who attacked the buses wore security force uniforms. He said the gunmen separated passengers by ethnicity, ordering Pashtun people to stand in line while allowing Baluch passengers to flee.“The gunmen lined up Pashtun passengers after checking their identity cards and then opened fire,” said the survivor, who the channel did not identify by name.No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Baluchistan is the scene of a low-intensity insurgency by Baluch nationalists, separatists and other groups demanding more autonomy and a greater share of the province’s gas and mineral resources. Similar attacks by Baluch nationalists have seen them let Baluch flee.Elsewhere in Pakistan, a suicide bomber blew himself up Friday near a stadium in Lahore where a cricket match was underway between Pakistan and Zimbabwe, killing a police officer and wounding six, Information Minister Pervez Rashid told Geo TV. Comments   Share   Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani security forces launched a major operation before dawn Saturday to hunt down gunmen who hijacked two buses and killed at least 19 passengers in the country’s southwest, officials said.In a statement, the country’s paramilitary Frontier Corps said 200 troops were taking part in the operation in the country’s restive Baluchistan province, the home of a long-running insurgency that has seen increasing violence in recent weeks. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Police initially said the explosion, which was heard during the match, was caused by an electric transformer nearly a kilometer (mile) away from the Gaddafi Stadium.No one immediately claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, but the Pakistani Taliban, which has been at war with the government for years, has carried out past suicide bombings targeting civilians.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img read more

first_img Top Stories FILE – In this Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014 file photo, rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble of a collapsed building belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria. The Synagogue Church of All Nations of televangelist T. B. Joshua on Thursday, July 9, 2015 rejected a coroner’s report recommending prosecution of the Nigerian church and two structural engineers in the collapse of a church building that killed 116 people, most of them visitors from South Africa. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File) Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Four benefits of having a wireless security systemcenter_img Fatal building collapses occur frequently in Nigeria because corruption and bureaucratic delays lead to shoddy infrastructure.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. In a verdict Wednesday, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe said the Sept. 12 church building collapse was caused by “structural failure due to the combination of designs and detailing errors.”Komolafe said the victims were 85 South Africans, 22 Nigerians, two citizens of Benin and one from Togo. Another six bodies were unidentified, he said.The remains of only 74 South Africans made it home, and then only two months later. There was no explanation for the discrepancy, one of many that dogged the tragedy that soured relations between Nigeria and South Africa.The church said Thursday that it maintains the collapse at its sprawling campus on the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria’s ocean-side megacity, was caused by the overflight of a mysterious plane possibly connected to Islamic extremists.“The church maintains its stand that the incident was as a result of sabotage,” its statement said.The coroner recommended prosecution for “criminal negligence” of structural engineers Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun of HardRock Construction Co. Ltd.He said the church should be investigated and prosecuted for its failure to obtain building permits. The church said it had begun that process. LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A Nigerian televangelist’s church on Thursday rejected a coroner’s report recommending prosecution of the church and two structural engineers in last year’s collapse of a building that killed 116 people, most of them visitors from South Africa.In a statement, the Synagogue Church of All Nations of televangelist T. B. Joshua called the report “unreasonable, one-sided and biased.” Check your body, save your life Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

first_imgGerman news agency dpa quoted one of the lawyers, Wolfgang Heer, as saying ahead of the court’s decision that if the court approved their resignation, the trial against Zschaepe would likely have to start over.German media have reported that Zschaepe distrusts Heer and his two colleagues, Anja Sturm and Wolfgang Stahl. Her recent request that they be replaced was denied by the court, though it did grant her a fourth attorney.Revelations about the authorities’ bungling of the case have caused deep embarrassment in Germany, as well as accusations of deliberate cover-ups.Official inquiries showed investigators in different parts of Germany failed to exchange important clues about the group after they were first sought by police in 1998.For years police also attributed most of the killings to immigrant gangs, sparking a debate about institutional racism in Germany.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Lawyers of defendant Beate Zschaepe, alleged member of the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Underground, NSU, from left : Anja Sturm, Wolfgang Stahl and Wolfgang Heer leave the court in Munich, Germany, Monday, July 20, 2015. The three court-appointed lawyers for the sole surviving suspect in Germany’s biggest neo-Nazi murder trial have asked the court for permission to resign. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) Top Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk BERLIN (AP) — A Munich court on Monday ordered three lawyers to continue their defense in Germany’s biggest neo-Nazi murder trial, rejecting their request to resign from the case.The three court-appointed attorneys had asked to be relieved from defending Beate Zschaepe, who has been on trial since May 2012 for alleged complicity in 10 murders.Prosecutors allege that she was part of a group, calling itself National Socialist Underground, which allegedly killed eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007. The group’s two other members died in an apparent murder-suicide in November, 2011. Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The vital role family plays in society New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

first_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 26,000 to 255,000, the fewest since November 1973, the Labor Department said Thursday. If the data were adjusted for the growth of the U.S. population since then, last week’s figure would likely be an all-time low.The four-week average, a less volatile number, fell 4,000 to 278,500. The average has fluctuated around that figure since May.That is a far cry from the depths of the 2008-2009 Great Recession, when more than 600,000 people were applying for jobless aid each week.One reason for last week’s drop, however, is that auto plants and other factories close briefly in July to prepare for next year’s models. That pushed up applications in the previous two weeks. Now that many factories have reopened, applications have fallen back.“We should always take this summer period for claims with a grain of salt,” said Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets. “From a long-term perspective, we’re still looking at claims bobbing around at the lowest level in ages.”“Employers are holding tightly onto their staff,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “This is the flipside of the difficulty they report in finding qualified people.” Mesa family survives lightning strike to home 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility WASHINGTON (AP) — Six years after a brutal recession that wiped out more than 8.5 million jobs, Americans are now enjoying a nearly unprecedented level of job security.The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid plunged last week to the lowest in nearly 42 years. Applications for jobless benefits are a proxy for layoffs, so the low level indicates that employers are keeping their staffs and likely hiring at a steady pace. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Comments   Share   Analysts expect the economy will expand at about a 2.5 percent annual rate in the second quarter, after contracting 0.2 percent in the first three months of the year.___Follow Chris Rugaber on Twitter at .Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Top Stories With layoffs down, employers are also hiring more to meet greater demand for their goods and services. The economy added 223,000 jobs in June, and the unemployment rate fell to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent.The economy has gained nearly 3 million jobs in the past year. With that many more people earning paychecks, economists forecast that spending should pick up and help fuel growth for the rest of this year.Even so, there are some signs of ongoing weakness in the job market.The unemployment rate fell in June mostly because many of the unemployed stopped looking for work, rather than found jobs. The proportion of Americans working or looking for work fell to a 38-year low.And average hourly pay was unchanged last month from May. Pay has risen at roughly a 2 percent annual pace since the recession ended in 2009, below the 3.5 percent typical in a healthy economy.That sluggish wage growth is likely keeping spending from increasing as much as the healthy job growth would suggest. Sales at retailers and restaurants fell last month, the government said earlier this month.Yet home sales have picked up, and Americans are buying more cars. Sales of existing homes jumped in June to an eight-year high. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

first_imgTrafalgar are reporting more than 20 per cent growth in sales for its European Christmas itineraries, and are expecting a similar upturn with its latest 2011/12 Autumn, Winter & Spring programme.The new brochure, launched today with discounted rates and an added agents incentive to win Apple products, offers customers new tours including an English Stately Homes at Christmas as well as adding the popular At Leisure programme for the first time to the range.“The tours were built on from consumer feedback,” Trafalgar, Managing Director, Matthew Cameron-Smith said.Also new is the incorporation of Eurostar and New Year Eve transfers, and all inclusive wine to be served during the major meal each night.The brochure, launched earlier this year due to market demand, is expected to follow other packages with a shorter lead time for bookings, according to Mr Cameron-Smith.“Australians are still weighing up their options.  There’s more options for travel these days and everyone is very deal orientated.”Mr Cameron-Smith said there was a “real pick-up” on Trafalgar’s new products, which also encourage repeat passengers to diversify their selection of tours.Although the European summer programme is still the company’s most popular, Mr Cameron-Smith said the Christmas itineraries was still an integral part of the mix and offers would-be travellers savings of up to 20-30 per cent compared to other times of the year.“The winter prices are sharper, more inclusive and we are transparent with our guests on their inclusions,” he said.The USA family programme has also been successful, which Mr Cameron-Smith attributed to the strong Australian dollar and inter-generational travel options.A trend of attracting a new demographic of younger travellers has also boosted business, with Mr Cameron-Smith specifically identifying local Regional Tours as a key seller for “changing the conversation we have with guests, changing the perception of our brand in the marketplace”.Mr Cameron-Smith urged agents to continue selling 2011 summer itineraries with several tours still offering good availability.New demand for Groups has resulted in the appointment of a specialised team at Trafalgar to handle growing enquiries.For more information on Trafalgar’s 2011/12 Autumn, Winter & Spring program, visit Source = e-Travel Blackboard: D.Mlast_img read more