The Canadian Press Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Thursday, January 5, 2017 Garneau asks Canadian airlines to confirm fitness to fly measures OTTAWA — Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau is seeking assurances from passenger airlines that they have up-to-date measures to confirm pilots’ fitness to fly and are rigorously enforcing them.Garneau’s move follows an incident last weekend in which a Sunwing Airlines pilot was accused of being so drunk that he passed out in the cockpit shortly before scheduled takeoff from Calgary.Miroslav Gronych has been charged with one count of having care and control of an aircraft while impaired and one count of having control of a plane while his blood alcohol level was above .08.Gronych, a Slovakian national in Canada on a work visa, is to appear in court Thursday – the same day Garneau is expected to send a letter to all passenger airline companies operating in Canada.A spokesman for Garneau, Marc Roy, says the letter will ask the airlines to provide confirmation that their protocols and safety management systems are up to date and are being enforced “with all required resources, including measures designed to confirm pilots’ fitness to fly.”Roy says the objective is to “ensure the highest safety standards.”More news: Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is backAccording to Transport Canada, Canada’s largest passenger airlines have safety management systems in place, intended to help them identify safety risks before they become bigger problems to ensure that safety is part of their everyday culture. That includes having proper procedures in place to ensure pilots are competent and fit to fly.The department has said it is reviewing Sunwing’s protocols to ensure the airline’s handling of the Gronych incident complied with its safety management system and Canadian regulations. It has also said it “will not hesitate” to take enforcement action if necessary, including issuing fines and revoking licenses if appropriate.Under the Canadian Aviation Regulations, members of a flight crew are prohibited from working within eight hours of consuming alcohol or while under the influence of alcohol. It is up to each airline to ensure those regulations are followed.Sunwing has said it has a “zero tolerance” policy on crew members consuming alcohol within 12 hours of going on duty. The company says it also trains all employees to look for and report any unusual behaviour.More news: Windstar celebrates record-breaking bookings in JulyPolice have said that last Saturday the crew of one of Sunwing’s Boeing 737 passenger jets noticed the pilot acting oddly before finding him allegedly passed out in the cockpit shortly before departure from Calgary. The plane, with 99 passengers and crew on board, was to make stops in Regina and Winnipeg before continuing on to Cancun, Mexico.The pilot was escorted off the plane. Police subsequently alleged that Gronych’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.Gronych has been released on $1,000 bail and ordered to surrender his passport. He has also been banned from flying a plane in Canada while on bail. None of the allegations against him have been proven in court.Sunwing has said it employs about 350 Canadian pilots but contracts up to 60 foreign pilots during peak holiday seasons.To fly in Canada, foreign pilots must either obtain a Canadian licence or obtain Canadian validation of their foreign licence. Tags: Canada Posted by
Tags: The Travel Corporation Travelweek Group Posted by TORONTO — The Travel Corporation has asserted its ongoing commitment to its valued travel agent partners with the launch of a robust new training initiative, the TTC Agent Academy.The platform showcases the four core brands of Trafalgar, Contiki, Insight Vacations and Uniworld via a series of interactive, user-friendly modules and is complemented with a 60-second video highlighting the key benefits of the scheme.TTC says the Agent Academy has been created “with the aim of facilitating effortless sales”. The new eLearning platform offers a simplified manner in which agents can build their knowledge of the family of brands.The company adds that the TTC Agent Academy is designed to instill greater understanding and confidence in selling, “from comprehending the depth of TTC’s global network, to what makes each brand innovative and unique, to the scope of travel solutions available for their customers”.Encompassing The Trafalgar Academy, ContikiU, Insight Tour Specialist and Uniworld River Cruise Specialist, all brand programs provide valuable content that’s accessible online 24/7.More news: War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps up“We are excited to be able to reveal our latest trade initiative, which has been carefully crafted with the success of our valued partners in mind,” says Brett Tollman, TTC’s Chief Executive. “At TTC we believe that agents have the best job in the world and we have worked hard to create an inspirational program to make selling more fun and easy for them. It is our hope that enrollment into the TTC Agent Academy will reward agents with happy customers, generate repeat business and increased earnings. We look forward to welcoming you all on the continued journey of winning together.”Currently comprising four introductory courses of immersive information, TTC’s eLearning program will be updated at frequent intervals, across each of the four brands. Upon successful completion of each module, agents can access downloadable certificates of accreditation.For further information please contact your local Trafalgar, Contiki, Insight Vacations or Uniworld sales manager or visit ttc.com/agentacademy. Winning together: The Travel Corporation launches TTC Agent Academy Share Thursday, February 9, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>
Tags: Italy, Theme Parks & Attractions Pisa’s Leaning Tower might be getting a towering Ferris wheel Travelweek Group Posted by ROME — The Italian city of Pisa has decided to add a towering Ferris wheel to its roster of tourist attractions.The Tuscan city’s culture commissioner, Andrea Ferrante, told state TV on Sunday that the big wheel will be roughly the height of Pisa’s famed Leaning Tower, or more than 50-meters (165-feet) -high.Plans call for it to be installed where a parking lot now stands for three months this summer to test its popularity.From the top of the wheel, riders will be able to see both the tower and the nearby Mediterranean Sea.But the culture advocacy group Italia Nostra says the amusement park-type attraction will clash with the city’s Medieval architecture, including structures such as the Leaning Tower and the Pisa Cathedral. Loading… Monday, February 27, 2017 Share << Previous PostNext Post >>
Posted by Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Friday, September 8, 2017 “Scuse me @SouthwestAir, when can I apply to be a pilot?” #HarveyPetsFlight #HarveyRelief pic.twitter.com/qC7Iz4u90M— Helen Woodward (@HWAC) September 6, 2017 Best. Flight. Ever. @SouthwestAir #ForTheWin on behalf of 64 #Texas animals who will hopefully be adopted from the @HWAC. @10News at 6. pic.twitter.com/PBiyxv7Qqi— Joe Little?? (@10NewsJoeLittle) September 5, 2017Even more heartwarming, Southwest donated the flight, with employees volunteering their time out of the goodness of their hearts. The two organizations had previously joined efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012.More news: Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portalThe orphaned animals had been living in shelters in the Houston area after being displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Now, thanks to the kindness of Southwest and the Helen Woodward Animal Center, they have a chance at a new life with new families in sunny San Diego.What a great story to end the week! Tags: Southwest Airlines This airline flew a plane full of dogs and cats out of hurricane-ravaged Houston HOUSTON — Amid the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, one story has surfaced that is giving residents – and their furry pals – a renewed sense of hope.According to Dallas News, a Southwest Airlines jet used its final flight before retirement to transport a cabin full of dogs and cats to safety earlier this week. A total of 64 dogs and cats were successfully evacuated from the Houston area, buckled into seats and stowed in the foot space in the aircraft’s main cabin.The flight was done in conjunction with the California-based Helen Woodward Animal Center, whose volunteers were also onboard to assist the frightened animals. Upon arrival in San Diego, the Center will provide medical treatment for the dogs and cats before placing them up for adoption.#HarveyPetsFlight is landed, unloaded and soon on its way to the Center! ?? pic.twitter.com/7dYUvsv8PD— Helen Woodward (@HWAC) September 5, 2017 Oh. My. Goodness. @HWAC @CBS8 @SouthwestAir #Harveypetrescue pic.twitter.com/KNdVe3D6Bo— Kelly Hessedal (@KellyNews8) September 5, 2017
Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Wednesday, February 7, 2018 Tags: CLIA Travelweek Group WASHINGTON, DC — CLIA is offering travel professionals the chance to advance their careers with the newly launched Travel Agency Executive (TAE) Certification.Available for people who work in a leadership capacity at travel agencies, TAE Certification is designed to be a tool to strengthen skills within the industry, said Stephani McDow, director, membership & professional development, CLIA. “We are committed to supporting our members with a range of certifications for all travel professionals, from new and experienced travel agents to agency executives.”In order to qualify for TAE Certification, the individual must be an executive, director, accounting manager, marketing manager or someone who works in a leadership role but does not function only as a full-time selling travel agent with a CLIA Affiliated Agency.Required online courses or live seminars for the TAE Certification include:Developing Your Marketing StrategyWhat has PR Done for You Lately?Customer Relationship ManagementEffective Presentation SkillsBetter Listening Skills for Better BusinessBuilding Client LoyaltyMore news: Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong KongAdditionally, individuals interested in the certification must complete one of the following elective training options during their completion term following enrollment:Any three additional CLIA courses/seminarsThe achievement of the Travel Institute CTA, CTC or CTIE designationFor more information about TAE Certification, go to cruising.org/travel-agent/professional-development/certification/tae. Individuals can also schedule a Career Counseling session for a one-on-one consultation with a member of CLIA’s professional development and training team at cruising.org/careercounseling. Posted by Agency leaders can hone their skills with CLIA’s new TAE Certification
TORONTO — A pair of accordion players performing the summer hit ‘Despacito’ while appearing on subway trains in Toronto have been warned to stop or risk being fined, the city’s transit agency said Friday.The two men have been spotted separately by commuters on various stretches of the subway system in recent days and videos of their performances have been circulating on social media.The reaction to the busking is divided, with some online expressing their dislike, while others applaud the men for the entertainment during their commute.A little subway accordion to brighten your afternoon! #toronto #ttc #busking pic.twitter.com/096rxLrE8i— Astoria (@Local_Ginger) April 18, 2018The Toronto Transit Commission said enforcement officers came across the men a couple of times earlier this month and issued the warnings.“We have not received any formal complaints through our customer service department,” spokesman Stuart Green said Friday. “What we have seen is the online chatter and people posting videos.”Busking on trains is not allowed, Green said, and players must be approved before they can perform in designated areas on TTC property.More news: Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish Steps“We have a TTC subway musicians’ program – auditions of which are actually open right now,” he said. “So if these guys are interested, they can apply to get a three-year licence to legally perform in the TTC system and earn some money at the same time.”Green said the men, who he identified as brothers, could be issued tickets if their on-train performances continue.Transit customers “have the right to enjoy a relatively peaceful ride,” Green said, adding that a common complaint from riders is about people playing their music too loudly without headphones.The accordion players have received both love and loathing from their audiences.One transit rider recently tweeted, “thank you accordion man on the subway for making this rainy commute home a little more entertaining.”Another tweeted, “I’m getting a little tired of this Despacito accordion player riding the subway. Nothing fails to sour me faster.”A Toronto-based professional accordion player who has seen the videos of the two men said ‘Despacito’ isn’t a particularly difficult song to play, but performing on a moving train can make a performance more challenging.More news: Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portal“The accordions are pretty heavy and it’s probably a bit difficult because on the subway you need to hold on to something when there is an abrupt stop,” said Claudio Santaluce. “It should definitely be a little bit tiring, because apparently they play for long periods of time standing up.”Santaluce added that he had personally enjoyed watching videos of the subway players.“I might be biased because I’m a musician, but if I was on that train, I’d actually enjoy it and I’d tell all my friends about it,” he said.‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonsi, featuring Daddy Yankee, became the most viewed clip of all-time on YouTube last summer and the most-streamed track of all-time. However, the record-breaking video did not feature vocals by Canadian pop star Justin Bieber that appeared on a remix. << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Toronto Accordion bandits risk fine to play ‘Despacito’ on Toronto subways Monday, April 23, 2018 The Canadian Press Posted by Share
TORONTO — We have the utmost respect for flight attendants. But for those who need to be reminded of just how awesome they really are, please read this letter.An anonymous flight attendant has penned an open letter to a passenger who referred to her as “just a flight attendant”. The lengthy letter, which was posted on Facebook, picked up by Forbes and shared numerous times, is being seen as a rallying war cry among flight attendants, as well as a call to action for travellers to treat cabin crew with the respect and dignity they deserve.Read the post in full here:“Dear Passenger in 5A, Yesterday, when I wouldn’t let you come to the front of the airplane because the pilots were going in and out of the cockpit, you informed me I was ‘just a flight attendant.’ I’ve had some time to reflect on that and decided to educate you on a few facts regarding this flight attendant.“First, let’s review my training and requirements for this job. I know how to fight fires while 35,00 feet in the air; I can perform CPR, do first aid-basic all the way up to inserting an IV; I know how to identify guns and weapons; I know how to identify bombs and then move them to a location on the aircraft that will hopefully cause the least damage should they go off.“I know basic survival skills for land and water; I know how to disarm people brandishing a gun; how to actually kill someone if need be; how to prepare an airplane for an emergency landing so every person aboard has the best chance of survival, and how to then evacuate the aircraft in under 60 seconds.More news: Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portal“While smiling, I have been taught how to deal with people from many different cultures, people who are disgruntled, and people who are downright rude. I received excellent training for all these things and every year have to go through refresher training and learn new skills.“Second, I’d like to share with you some of the personal experiences I’ve had in the last 20 years as a flight attendant. I’ve held the hand of a grieving mother who was flying across the country to claim her 21-year-old son’s dead body. I have given my personal clothes to a passenger who threw up, although I had nothing else to put on. I have been poked in my arm and sides many times by people who can’t wait for me to finish with one person before they get their drink.“I have held babies while their parent went to the bathroom. I have been yelled at for not having the exact food a person wanted. I have prepared an aircraft for an emergency landing, and, while you were arguing with me about not wanting to turn off your computer, I was hoping I would be able to see my children one more time. I stood with tears in my eyes in the door of an aircraft while the remains of a U.S. soldier were lowered in a flag-draped coffin. I have had the honor of flying U.S. troops into foreign deployment areas. I missed Christmas Day with my family so you could get to your family. My work schedule is constantly changing, and there are times I go five to six days without a real night’s sleep.More news: Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at sea“I watched the events of 9/11 in horror, heartbroken from what my colleagues went through that day. I was scared to go back to work, but I reassured my child that I would come home — all the while knowing it could happen again. I watched a man die in front of me, because the CPR we performed didn’t revive him. Then I tried to reverently place his body on the airplane floor for the remainder of the flight, and, when we landed, I sat with his body for over an hour until the coroner could pick it up.“Please know that I do love my job, and I choose to do it. I have a college degree, am a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a human being. So the next time you look at me and think, ‘Just a flight attendant,’ I hope you quickly remember who is trained and willing to get you out of a crashed airplane, save you from hijackers, perform CPR on you if need be and — the easiest part of my job — give you food and drinks.” Travelweek Group Flight attendant’s open letter to rude passenger is a must-read Share Tags: Flight Attendant, Funny Tuesday, January 15, 2019 Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>
<< Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by TORONTO — Arrivals to Germany from Canada were up 3% in 2018, contributing to record visitation for the European favourite for the ninth year in a row.Preliminary figures from Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, released today by the German National Tourist Board, show 87.7 million overnights from international travellers to Germany from January to December 2018. That’s up 3.8 million from 2017, an increase of 5%.“At plus 5%, German incoming tourism grew even more dynamically in 2018 than in the two previous years (plus 1.4 and plus 3.6 percent),” says Petra Hedorfer, CEO, German National Tourist Board.“Favourable economic conditions and stability in important source markets contributed to this excellent result. On the other hand, we see here the confirmation that together with our partners we are consistently aligning our global marketing efforts with current challenges of the digital transformation. This enables us to analyze even more efficiently individualized customer needs, and develop suitable offers with our tourism partners.”Speaking to the increase from the Canadian market, Julia Dywelski, Director Marketing and Sales for the German National Tourist Office in Canada said: “2018 was all about presenting Germany as a culinary destination. From amazing home-style cooking pubs to high end Michelin starred restaurants, Destination Germany offers a world of flavours to satisfy every kind of traveller.” This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus architectural movement as well as the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. With the roll out of a digital marketing offensive, Destination Germany will focus its communication efforts on creating and further branding awareness and inspiration to guarantee an unforgettable travel experience, adds Dywelski. Thursday, February 14, 2019 Travelweek Group Share Tags: Canada, Germany Germany’s 9th year of record results includes 3% uptick from Canada
A modest though enthusiastic collective of some 60 marine conservation activists gathered outside the statue of former Costa Rican President León Cortés in western San José Thursday morning to protest the importation of shark fins in Costa Rica.From June 2011 to July 2012, the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca) reported that more than 500 kilograms of dry shark fin had entered the country through Nicaragua. Imports through Nicaragua have increased dramatically and remain the industry’s lone loophole after legislation passed in December 2010 banned the landing of fishery products on private docks, conservationists said. Since then, Costa Rica has imported nearly 16,000 kg of shark fins via their northern neighbors. “What we’re trying to accomplish today is to bring the issue to President [Laura] Chinchilla’s attention, and we call on her to represent the public interest, not comercial ones,” said Costa Rican Marine Turtle Restoration Project (PRETOMA) President Randall Arauz. The march represents the launch of PRETOMA’s latest campaign, which urges the Foreign Trade Ministry to prohibit all shark fin imports, and demands the reform of Incopesca. On Tuesday, Chinchilla’s Cabinet fired Incopesca Vice President Álvaro Moreno, who is a lawyer representing commercial fishermen, for conflict of interest and ethics violations.“The importation of shark fins is equal to finning, and finning means extinction,” Arauz belted into a bullhorn at passing traffic.“The order needs to come from the top,” Arauz added. “Only the president can change things now.”Rafael Robles, director of conservation group Tasbayam Association for Sustainable Development, showed his support for the movement by signing the petition being passed around, noting, “it’s not simply the poachers; it’s the poverty. We need to protect our fisherman. If they have no work, if they hope to feed their families, finning is often the only option.”As the march continued south, protesters made stops outside of the Foreign Trade Ministry and Incopesca’s offices near La Sabana Park. A man wearing a bandana played trumpet as demonstrators reworked the Jamaican folk song “Day-O” to suit their cause: “No aleteo, los tiburones ya no pueden más.” No finning, they sang. The sharks can’t take any more. Facebook Comments No related posts.
By Roser TollAFPISLA NEGRA, Chile – The remains of Chilean Nobel prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda were exhumed Monday to determine if he died of cancer or was poisoned by the Pinochet dictatorship he strongly opposed.Workers broke open the tomb housing his remains at his last home overlooking the sea at Isla Negra under the supervision of Judge Mario Carroza, lawyers and a dozen forensic experts.The leftist author, who died 12 days after the 1973 military coup that ousted socialist president Salvador Allende and brought General Augusto Pinochet to power, was long believed to have died of prostate cancer.But judicial authorities in 2011 opened an investigation into four-decade-old claims by Neruda’s driver that he was poisoned by agents of the Pinochet regime.Police investigators and government forensic experts set up a tent to shield and protect the tomb where the remains of Neruda’s third wife, Matilde Urrutia, are also interred.The poet’s nephew Rodolfo Reyes said workers quickly located remains by a tarnished plaque that bore Neruda’s name.“It corroborated what I had said: He was buried on the left-hand side facing the sea,” Reyes told AFP. “There was no need to open the casket, they just took it out intact.”Neruda won the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature and is best known for his love poems and his “Canto General” – an epic poem about South America’s history and its people.The Chilean courts gave the go-ahead for the probe in June 2011 after a complaint was filed by the Chilean Communist Party, of which Neruda was a member.In addition to the driver’s accusations, the official complaint cites witnesses who say Neruda was healthy up until the day before his death and did not exhibit symptoms consistent with advanced cancer.The results of the inquiry – not expected for at least three months, judicial sources told AFP – are expected to support or refute the charge made by Neruda’s driver and personal adviser, Manuel Araya, whose claims formed the basis of the complaint.Araya says Neruda died after receiving what the driver believed was a suspicious injection at Santiago’s Santa María Hospital days after the coup that brought Pinochet to power.Neruda’s death certificate, to which AFP obtained access, says he died of complications from prostate cancer.Neruda’s family and the official foundation that administers his work have both accepted the official cause of death, saying in a 2011 statement that there was “no evidence or proof” to suggest foul play.“We simply want to learn the truth, to get to the bottom of the family truth,” Neruda’s nephew said at the grave site. “Neruda’s family wants to know the truth, regardless of whether he died of natural causes or was murdered.”“It is not easy for us to explain what they are going to do with the remains, but we think it is necessary,” Reyes added.Chile’s medical legal service has assembled a team of archeologists, anthropologists, doctors, toxicologists and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross to examine the remains, its director Patricio Bustos said.“The remains will be transferred to an anthropology laboratory which will conduct radiological, toxicological and anthropological tests to look for signs of toxic substances and of the poet’s disease,” Bustos said on Sunday.According to Araya, on the afternoon of Sept. 23, 1970, just 12 days after Pinochet came to power, Neruda told his wife and the driver that he had been given an injection in the chest that had made him feel bad.Nearly six hours later, the poet died in the Santiago hospital.Neruda was supposed to have flown to Mexico the next day to lead the opposition to the coup from exile. The Mexican ambassador to Chile had arranged the flight and a plane was standing by, waiting to take him.The Chilean judicial system is also investigating the 1982 death of former Chilean President Eduardo Frei (1964-1970), who like Neruda died in the Santa María hospital during the military dictatorship following complications from a routine surgery. Facebook Comments No related posts.
Facebook Comments BREAKING: Italy coach Cesare Prandelli says he is resigning after World Cup elimination.— The Associated Press (@AP) June 24, 2014 Related posts:Injured Uruguay star Suárez in camp; England crushes Peru; key Italian player breaks leg PHOTOS: Costa Ricans go wild celebrating World Cup upset over Uruguay Watch Bryan Ruiz’s historic goal against Italy from 3 different angles Luis Suárez bites again as Uruguay eliminates Italy With Costa Rica and the Americas upending the 2014 World Cup, one European coach already has lost his job.Italy coach Cesare Prandelli announced his resignation Tuesday after the Azzurri were eliminated in the first round of the World Cup after losing 1-0 to Uruguay.Prandelli accepted responsibility for the team’s failure at the Brazil as he presented his resignation. The President of the Italian Federation (FIGC) Giancarlo Abate also stepped down after the match.The Italians lost to Costa Rica, 1-0, last Friday. However the four-time World Cup champions only needed a tie against Uruguay to advance to the knockout round of the tournament.English coach Roy Hodgson will keep his job despite his Three Lions crashing out of the World Cup, and finishing last in Group D.
In the past month, U.S. President Barack Obama has launched an open-ended Middle East war, built an impressive coalition of allies and entirely reversed his previous strategy of standing back from the region. Curiously, however, Obama has so far refused to reckon with the actor that more than any other is responsible for ruining his foreign policy doctrine, creating the security crisis and dragging U.S. military forces back to Iraq and Syria.That is not al-Qaida, the Islamic State, Khorasan or any of Iraq’s sectarian factions. It is the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad.The Islamic State’s recent military gains in Iraq and origins in al-Qaida have tended to obscure the reality that its surge is first and foremost the result of Assad’s brutal war against the Syrian opposition. As Obama’s own envoys to Syria have said repeatedly, the collapse of government control over the north and east of the country, combined with Obama’s refusal to provide weapons to moderate rebel forces, created an opening for the al-Qaida remnants that eventually launched the Islamic State. They were directly abetted by the Assad regime, which observed an unspoken truce with the extremists while dropping barrel bombs and chemical weapons on civilians in Aleppo and greater Damascus.Having backed away from carrying out airstrikes against Assad’s assets a year ago, Obama essentially abandoned any effort to enforce his August 2011 declaration that the dictator must give up power. Secretary of State John Kerry, who took office in 2013 promising to “change Assad’s calculations,” dropped a quixotic initiative to broker a post-Assad regime after a Geneva peace conference imploded last winter.Now, Obama acknowledges, vaguely, that an end to the “cancer” of the Islamic State depends on “an inclusive political transition” in Syria. But he has not so much as hinted at a strategy for bringing that about, and his war planners told Congress they have no plans to extend strikes to Assad’s forces — even when they attack the rebel units Obama is depending on to fight the Islamic State.The president has some understandable reasons for this reticence. Taking on Assad is hard: He’s proven he’s immune to diplomatic pressure, and military attacks would require a major escalation of the air campaign. Action against Assad would place the United States at odds not only with Iran and Russia, which so far are not obstructing the war against the Islamic State, but also with the Iraqi government, which continues to support the Damascus regime.The problem is that ignoring Assad is likely to lead to even worse consequences. Already, the regime and its spokesmen are exulting in the U.S. bombing raids and doing their best to portray the United States as a de facto ally, while Syrians in rebel-held areas are demonstrating against the U.S. strikes because they are seen to be weakening the resistance to Assad. Meanwhile, the regime appears to be stepping up its own bombing raids against the non-extremist opposition. A failure of the United States to respond could destroy U.S. relations not only with its only on-the-ground allies in Syria but also with the Sunni nations that have joined the campaign against the Islamic State. A Syrian rescue worker carries the body of a child following a reported Syrian government forces barrel bomb attack in the northern city of Aleppo on Sept. 27, 2014. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 180,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in March 2011. Barrel bombs are typically constructed from large oil drums, gas cylinders or water tanks, and filled with high explosives and scrap metal to enhance fragmentation. Khaled Khatib/AFPObama is not without options. As the State Department’s former Syria adviser Frederic Hof has suggested, one is simple: The Pentagon should publicly inform the Syrian government that any antiaircraft systems tracking U.S. planes will be destroyed, as will any of the regime’s military planes that take to the air.The next step has long been sought by the Turkish government, which so far has been a reluctant ally in the anti-Islamic State campaign: Create a no-fly zone for Syrian aircraft over areas held by the rebels. With U.S. planes already operating in the area, this would be far simpler than it would have been before. It would, as Hof points out, finally allow the opposition Syrian National Coalition and its interim government to establish itself in the country and create a secure enclave.In the end, the Syrian political settlement Obama says he seeks will require pursuing Kerry’s original idea of tipping the military balance so that Assad’s generals and his Alawite community face a choice between compromise and destruction. Henri Barkey of Lehigh University suggests that Obama offer a deal: If Assad is removed and the regime reaches a truce with the moderate opposition, Syria can join the anti-Islamic State coalition.Rather than take the risks involved in such gambits, Obama’s inclination seems to be to postpone the Assad problem indefinitely. If so, he’s making the same mistake he did when he deferred confronting the dictator in previous years. If the Islamic State is a cancer, Assad is the source tumor. If he is not treated, he will poison Obama’s cure.© 2014, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Related posts:Obama: Expand effort against Islamic State The Islamic State’s trap for Europe Obama admits US underestimated IS threat Obama: Turkey has the right to defend itself
Last Thursday, the social giant Twitter did a very peculiar thing: It gave its 300 million users license to … stop tweeting.“We know it can be challenging to find time to get through everything,” a sympathetic Twitter tech lead wrote on the company’s blog. So instead of expecting users to keep up with everything, Twitter was testing a new feature called Highlights: a once-a-day digest of the site’s most important, relevant information, shorn of all the real-time chatter and noise and nonsense that arguably make Twitter, well — Twitter.Nine years after the site launched, and two years after investors began demanding user growth, Twitter seems to have realized what lots of hardcore users learned the hard way long ago: that the great hallmark of Twitter, the unfiltered real-time feed, is psychologically untenable.“The modern brain hasn’t evolved to keep up,” said Daniel Levitin, a cognitive psychologist and the author of the bestseller “The Organized Mind.” “That’s why we feel so exhausted all the time.”Cognitive psychologists call this phenomenon “information overload,” and it’s increasingly symptomatic of all online life — although Twitter, with its infinite, incessant real-time feed, proves a particularly vexing case. By some estimates, the average American consumes five times as much information now as he did 20 years ago — 100,500 words, and 34 gigabytes, for the average person on an average day in 2008. (For comparison, 34 gigabytes = two times the memory of the entry-level iPhone.)But while we consume a lot of this information passively — like when we glance at a billboard or a banner ad — we also expend a ton of mental energy sifting for, and processing, the important stuff. That phrase — “mental energy” — is deliberate. As Lucy Jo Palladino, a psychologist who studies attention, explains, the brain is a muscle like any other, and it can’t run on empty.When you encounter new information, she says, it stimulates your brain to produce chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine, which make you feel alert and help you process that information. But when you process too much information too quickly — by, say, scrolling through your ever-updating Twitter feed for hours on end — you burn through all that brain energy. You end up feeling foggy or irritable or unproductive or angry. (One 2011 study even linked Internet overstimulation to long-term consequences, such as elevated stress levels and other adverse health effects.)“When you’re bored, stimulation improves attention, but only up to a point,” Palladino said. “After that, stimulation degrades attention.” A mock-up of Twitter’s new Highlights feature. It sends users a push notification (left), which they can then swipe through for top tweets and trending stories. (Via Twitter)On Twitter, in fact, we actually know exactly where that crossover point lies: A recent study by researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute found that 30 tweets per hour is the most people can handle before their mental processing slows.Obviously, that poses some big questions for those of us who spend a lot of time in front of our screens. (Like, if I didn’t have so many tabs open, could I afford to drink less coffee?) But for Twitter, the issue is far more existential: If its service is inherently cognitively stressful, it can’t possibly persuade new users to sign up. And without those crucial sign-ups, Twitter could be in trouble. Its stock fell sharply Tuesday after a disappointing earnings call revealed that the site had missed revenue expectations and is still struggling with user growth.Undeterred, Twitter has kept up a steady patter of new-product launches, all of them geared toward decreasing the amount of cognitive effort needed to use the service: an “instant timeline” tool that organizes information for new users, a “while you were away” feature that lets people take breaks from the constancy of the stream.The odd thing about these new features, beside their sudden frequency, is how distinctly un-Twitter they all seem. Twitter’s stated purpose has always been the raw, unfiltered information stream — the “Twitter firehose,” its frequently called, a stream so forceful and so high-volume it could knock somebody out. (Not coincidentally, “drinking from the firehose” has come to mean “being overwhelmed.”)Features like Highlights, on the other hand, seem to accommodate both a little more order in our timelines and a little time away from our screens. And incidentally, those are the exact things researchers say our brains really need to process all the information spinning through them.Palladino likens Twitter to rush hour at Grand Central Station: It’s overwhelming and chaotic and imminently stressful, with too much noise and stimulation to ever adequately take in.“But with the right filtering tools — an accurate schedule, a giant display of track numbers — it’s self-organizing,” she said. “Each person chooses where she wants to go and does, in fact, get there.”Will Highlights help Twitter users sort information that way, to cut down on the sheer mental effort required to keep up with all those tweets? Palladino thinks it has potential, particularly when used in conjunction with other techniques such as Twitter filters, “pacing” (i.e., taking breaks) and good old-fashioned self-discipline. Levitin, who recently cut back on his own tweeting, agrees.“My advice,” he said, “is to think about what you want to do during the day, to prioritize that deliberately. Then set aside maybe an hour or two, a designated time, to check your Twitter and your Facebook and your Tumblr and your Vine.”That way, Levitin said, you conserve your brain for the stuff that really matters most to you. The tweets will still be there when you’re ready for them. And your sanity will be, too.© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Related posts:Now you can watch Periscope streams directly in your Twitter feed The New York Times eyes more changes to meet digital challenge Comcast’s NBCUniversal invests $200 million in BuzzFeed Spotify hit by new $200 million copyright suit
Related posts:Amateur Fishing Club names 2017 Tarpon Champion Your dream photo isn’t worth it: leave the fish in the water King of the silver kings New tournament in Quepos to crown Best Fisherwoman Worldwide See also: Reader not fond of ‘torturing fish,’ but sportfishing isn’t the problemI have never enjoyed fishing under pressure. I prefer to fish for fun. There was a time in my life I fished a few money tournaments, and even won one or two. Nowadays, if I am fishing a tournament, it’s a charity event, where the winners are generally children with illnesses.Even when fishing with a client, I prefer someone who is more interested in having a good time on the water than catching a ton of fish, or a giant fish. A much better fisherman than I who was actually just inducted into the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame explained it very simply to me. Larry Dahlberg said, “Your chances of catching a really nice fish are directly related to how much you deserve it.”I have noticed over the years that a good attitude catches fish and a bad attitude eats dirt. One’s relationship with the fish gods play a big part. Inexperienced anglers with good mojo have better luck than a good angler with a bad attitude.On one particular day I can recall, the pressure was on. Gray Fish-Tag research center coordinator Bill Dobbelaer and marine scientist Travis Moore were down from Ft. Lauderdale to place another archival electronic tag in a roosterfish.Usually this would be a simple task. Today was different. Team Travis (left): Bill Dobbelaer, Christian Bolanos, Travis Moore, Todd Staley, Sharlye Robles and Oldemar Lopez. Todd Staley / The Tico TimesAn ominous gray sky loomed on the horizon, and the breeze was much stronger than usual for an early morning. We needed a fish around 30 pounds so it could comfortably wear the device that needed to be implanted.The event was co-sponsored by Crocodile Bay Resort and the Costa Rican Fisheries Federation (FECOP), a sport fishing advocacy and marine conservation group. Crocodile’s crew was Oldemar Lopez and Sharlye Robles. Anglers: Christian Bolanos from Gray Taxidermy in Quepos and myself. Capt. Lopez suggested we try Matapalo Rock, a popular roosterfish site at the mouth of the Golfo Dulce. The overnight showers had muddied up some other popular inshore spots, so it made sense, and fishing conditions were just plain lousy.Roosterfish is the perfect choice for this kind of study. It is a strong fighting popular inshore game fish, and Gray Fish-Tag has already learned a lot about them from the traditional spaghetti tag. Because it is a coastal animal, a good number of tagged fish have been caught again.The spaghetti tag is inserted on the shoulder of a fish and has a serial number. The number is reported to the research center by sport fishermen who recapture the fish. With this method, the information is limited to where it was caught and what size it is. When it is recaptured, we learn how much it has grown over the period between captures, and how far it traveled. The electronic tag records much more information; the fish must also be recaptured, but the success with spaghetti tags makes it worth the betting $1500 per piece that the fish will be caught again.Four have been placed so far in Costa Rica: one in Marina Pez Vela, one in Los Sueños, and two around Golfo Dulce in the Southern Zone, at Crocodile Bay Resort and Zancudo Lodge. Todd StaleyAs we reached the mouth of the Gulf, we were hit by a wall of wind in our face. Still a half-mile from Matapalo Rock, we soldiered on. As we finally arrived, I thought about renaming the famous landmark – at least for this one day – either Whirlpool or Maytag. The rock was like the spindle of a washing machine and the surrounding waters were on the agitate cycle.We worked a nearby pinnacle, but it was almost impossible to do a decent drift over the spot. Over and over we worked the area, fishing with one hand and holding on with the other. Somehow the conversation turned to the relationship between biologists and fishermen. I explained that over the years I have worked with many biologists, and found biologists and fishermen have a strange relationship. A lot of biologists have never fished, and a lot of fishermen don’t know the difference between an otolith and an eyeball. They are times at wits’ end with each other because at times neither respects the opinion of the other.Travis laughed and said, “I can tell you a whole lot about roosterfish, but to be honest, I have never caught one.”About that time, Bolaños’ rod twitched and then slammed down towards the water. Line screamed of the reel. After a 20-minute balancing act he had a 35-pound roosterfish on the surface. Travis jumped into action, made an incision in the fish’s belly, and had the tag inserted and stitched up in less than two minutes while running water over the fish’s gills. The rooster took off like he had a firecracker under his butt when placed back in the water. Mission Accomplished! Todd places the tag inside the fish. Todd Staley / The Tico TimesWe had heard some chatter on the radio about a school of tuna working a couple miles off the beach, so we ran out. We found the dolphins and tuna, but the tuna wasn’t interested in anything we had to offer. Then we made a unanimous decision. Let’s go back to the rock and see if we can get Travis a rooster. Back to the washing machine!It took about thirty minutes, but finally Travis was hooked into his first rooster. He got the fish to the boat a dozen times and each time it would peel off another 50 yards of line. Eventually he had the fish to the boat and it went an easy 50 pounrds. That is like winning the lottery the first time you buy a ticket.I think we made a fisherman out of Travis, my biologist friend. I know one thing for sure: He knew a hell of a lot more about roosterfish than he did when the day started.Read more ‘Wetline Costa Rica’ columns here.Todd Staley has run fishing sport operations on both coasts of Costa Rica for over 25 years. He recently decided to take some time off to devote full time to marine conservation. Contact him at email@example.com. Facebook Comments
With December just two weeks out, we’re dreaming of summer days like this one at Playa Conchal.To celebrate Costa Rica’s dazzling verano and tourism high season, we’re preparing a special Print Edition for publication Dec. 5. The free 16-page publication will feature an Insiders’ Guide to Costa Rican travel featuring some of our beloved columnists; a Costa Rican map with essential travel information; a December-May Cultural Events Calendar; and some of our favorite stories, columns and photos. It will be distributed nationwide through April 30; we also plan to reprint and update the edition throughout that period.Learn more about advertising in this special edition here; ad deadline is Nov. 22.To become a distributor of this free edition, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org or 4000-0838). Distributors will be listed on our website with links to their own sites or Facebook pages, as well as in stories on our site in your area of the country.Would you like to submit a photo to our #TTPicOfTheDay series – the view from your home or favorite Costa Rican spot, or any other image you care to share? Please send horizontal photos at least 1100 pixels wide to email@example.com. We’d love to see the sights with you. Related posts:Turn off your phone, turn on the twinkly lights Bring on the high season Name that beach The key to Mondays: un buen cafecito Facebook Comments
Facebook Comments Related posts:This week in the Peace Corps: Camp GLOW empowering young women worldwide This week in the Peace Corps: Mural project opens doors to the explore the world This week in the Peace Corps: A volunteer’s time in Talamanca This week in the Peace Corps: Sports for youth development TheCRUSA Foundation is offering five full-ride scholarships, valued at $43,000 each, to Costa Rican students interested in studying science, technology, engineering or math in the United States.The annual program, titled Becas de Técnicos Especializados Dra. Ana Sittenfeld, is accepting applicants through June 7. It is open to students in Costa Rica who are in the final year of Professional Technical College or at public schools that participate in the International Baccalaureate Program.The five scholarship winners will study for two years at a community college in the United States and will have the opportunity to complement their classroom learning with internships at U.S.-based companies that have operations in Costa Rica.The scholarship covers tuition, books and other classroom materials, health insurance and living expenses.“The country has the challenge of meeting the needs of people training in STEM areas,” said Flora Montealegre, who is on the CRUSA Foundation board of directors. “Companies are changing how they do business at an increasing pace, so it is necessary to bring training closer in-line to the new requirements of the productive sector and Industry 4.0.“That is part of what we look for with this scholarship program.”Interested students can visit the CRUSA Foundation’s website (www.crusa.cr) for a full list of requirements and to complete the scholarship application form.This article was sponsored by the Costa Rica USA Foundation (CRUSA). The Tico Times Costa Rica Changemakers section is a sponsored partnership between The Tico Times and CRUSA.
Top Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths OSLO, Norway (AP) – The Norwegian government has ordered an end to a two-week strike by oil and gas workers as producers threatened a lockout which would have shut down the industry within days.Labor Minister Hanne Bjurstroem said early Tuesday that she was forced to end the strike to avert the lockout in the interests of the country, which is dependent on its oil and gas income.The lockout, which had been scheduled to begin at midnight Monday, would have affected more than 6,500 workers with daily losses of some 1.8 billion kroner ($300 million). The strike, which began on June 24, failed to produce an agreement on pay and pensions, with unions also demanding more paternity leave for employees.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Comments Share Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of 5 treatments for adult scoliosis
5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project HONG KONG (AP) – A medal awarded to late Taiwanese leader Chiang Kai-shek is going up for auction in Hong Kong, even though Taiwan’s defense ministry says it’s not the original.The Order of Blue Sky and White Sun medal is going on the block Friday. It’s expected to fetch 3-5 million Hong Kong dollars ($387,000-$645,000).Auction house Spink says Chiang was awarded the medal in 1930 by his Nationalist government, which ruled much of China while fighting a civil war with the Communists. In 1949, the defeated Nationalists fled to Taiwan and set up a rival regime. Comments Share Sponsored Stories Taiwan’s defense ministry said last week, after Spink announced plans for the auction, that Chiang was laid to rest in a mausoleum with the medal when he died in 1975.But at a press preview on Tuesday for the sale, collector and scholar Chuk Hong-ming said Chiang was buried with a duplicate medal.“Before 1995, it was the usual practice to give a new set of the medals to a general who passed away for burial,” he said.The auction house says it’s the first time the medal has ever gone up for auction.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories
Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments Share Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Quick workouts for men Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Iran says it is locked in an intense intelligence war with the West largely linked to the Islamic Republic’s disputed nuclear program. The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Parents, stop beating yourself up Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has launched a website for the first time in a move widely interpreted as an attempt to soften its image and coax Iranians into helping provide the country’s spies with information.The website, vaja.ir, gives the location of secret service buildings in provincial towns and encourages Iranians to contact the ministry if they have information.The website, which was launched Saturday,Â also trumpets what it describes as Iranian achievements in its long-running intelligence battle with the West, including the capture of a U.S. surveillance drone last year.
Associated PressPARIS (AP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won pledges Wednesday from France’s president to push harder for new sanctions against Iran to keep it from developing nuclear weapons _ but no sympathy for any possible Israeli military strike against Iran.In a visit to Paris, Netanyahu praised French pressure on Iran and called for “even tougher sanctions” than the ones currently in place. Comments Share Netanyahu travels Thursday to Toulouse to pay homage to the victims.Netanyahu’s visit was marked by demonstrations by both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel activists. At one protest in front of Paris’ Opera Garnier, about 200 supporters of the Palestinian cause waved banners and distributed leaflets calling for a boycott of Israel.Youssef Berbero, a protester, called Netanyahu’s visit “an insult to democracy and to the Palestinian people being massacred.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “The sanctions are taking a bite out of Iran’s economy … unfortunately they have not stopped the Iranian program,” he said.Israel has been an outspoken critic of Iran’s disputed nuclear program, repeatedly saying that Tehran is well on the way to developing an atomic bomb. Israel believes a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to its very existence, citing Iranian leaders’ frequent calls for destruction of the Jewish state, Iran’s development of long-range missiles and Iranian support for Arab militant groups.“Given the history of the Jewish people, I would not sit by and write off a threat by those who say they are going to annihilate us,” Netanyahu told reporters. He said Arab nations, too, would be “relieved” if Iran were militarily prevented from obtaining nuclear arms.Tehran has long insisted it is not developing atomic weapons. But French President Francois Hollande said Wednesday that Iran has not proven that its nuclear program is aimed only at civilian use.Hollande has supported a push for tougher European Union sanctions on Iran, but he also wants to keep the door open to dialogue, and has opposed Netanyahu’s talk of possible military action. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories Men’s health affects baby’s health too Hollande responded: “That’s a good idea.”The two leaders disagreed, however, about other issues.France has long opposed Jewish settlement building in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, and supports the creation of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu says he also supports the idea of Palestinian independence, but he has added so many conditions that the Palestinians do not take his offers seriously.France also voted for Palestinian membership in UNESCO, the Paris-based U.N. cultural and educational body, a year ago. The Palestinian president is now moving forward with his plan to seek upgraded observer status at the U.N. in New York next month, despite American and Israeli threats of financial or diplomatic retaliation.Netanyahu criticized Palestinian efforts toward international recognition before a peace deal is reached, saying that “going to the U.N. with unilateral declarations is not negotiations. It’s the opposite of negotiations.”Netanyahu’s visit is the first to France under Hollande, a Socialist seen as somewhat less Israel-friendly than his conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.It’s also Netanyahu’s first visit since a radical Islamist gunman killed a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren in southern France in March, this country’s worst terrorist attack and worst anti-Semitic attack in years. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top holiday drink recipes 4 must play golf courses in Arizona “It’s a threat that cannot be accepted by France,” Hollande said at Netanyahu’s side, warning that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a danger to the region and the world.France, Hollande said, “is ready to vote for other sanctions, as many as necessary.”“We must make sure that through pressure, sanctions and later through negotiations, Iran renounces its intention to have access to nuclear weapons. I am working in that spirit,” he said.Israel has repeatedly threatened to attack Iran if it concludes that international sanctions and diplomacy are failing to halt the nuclear program. In a speech to the United Nations in September, Netanyahu suggested that the world had until next summer at the latest to act or it would be too late to prevent the Iranians from making a bomb.In his comments Wednesday, Netanyahu said he hopes the issue will be resolved peacefully.Netanyahu and Hollande also talked about the possibility of resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in Paris.“President Hollande can invite (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas to the Elysee,” the French presidential palace, Netanyahu said. “I’m here, I’m ready. … The only way we can complete the negotiations is to begin them.”