Normandy now one of the top five for Canadians visiting France

Normandy now one of the top five for Canadians visiting France

first_img ROUEN — Northern France’s Normandy region welcomed 900 international buyers and media, including 18 from Canada, for the 12th Rendez-vous en France trade show in Rouen.Ahead of the two-day travel market, a number of buyers participated in a series of hosted fams that showcased the history, natural beauty, artistic flair and culinary excellence of the region.Visitors admired stunning sites including the Abbey on the medieval island of Mont Saint Michel and the picturesque gateway to the Cotentin peninsula, the port city of Cherbourg-en-Cotentin.The delegation descended on cities such as Honfleur, Bayeux and Caen, where they appreciated the strong ties cemented between Normandy and Canada during World War II.Other highlights included a visit to the artistic Les Jardins d’Etretat and the luxurious seaside resort town of Deauville.Atout France Canada said the region’s gastronomic delights, pretty countryside and unique seaside landscapes – and a respectful understanding of a common past – have led to Canadians developing a deep affinity and affection for Normandy.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upDuring Rendez-vous en France, 650 French tourism representatives met with visiting buyers and operators, including the Canadian contingent.The annual event is a unique opportunity for participants, buyers and operators to initiate and build professional relationships, and discover new opportunities.Atout France Canada said Normandy remains in the top five French regions visited by Canadians. Normandy now one of the top five for Canadians visiting France Friday, March 31, 2017 Tags: France By: Donna Demaio Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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New holiday experience coming to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

New holiday experience coming to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

first_img Travelweek Group New holiday experience coming to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tuesday, April 18, 2017 Posted by ORLANDO — Christmas will be extra magical this year, thanks to a new holiday experience at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.Universal Orlando Resort has announced the new experience as part of its destination-wide holiday celebration, which also includes a brand new parade featuring Macys. The 2017 Holidays celebration will run for more dates than ever before, from Nov. 18, 2017 to Jan. 6, 2018.This November, Hogwarts castle will magically transform right before guests’ eyes, with state-of-the-art projection mapping and special effects wrapping the iconic castle. Festive décor will line the streets of both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, while each storefront will be decked out with uniquely themed decorations.Meanwhile, Universals Holidays Parade feature Macys will take place in Universal Studios Florida and feature detailed floats and balloons and beloved characters like the Minions from ‘Despicable Me’, popular DreamWorks characters from ‘Madagascar’ and ‘Shrek’ and even Santa Claus himself. Universal is partnering with Macys, the global leader in balloon entertainment, to bring this new parade experience to life.More news:  FIVE FESTIVE FOODS TO TRY AT EUROPE’S CHRISTMAS MARKETSTo make the most of their holiday stay, clients can book the ‘Splash, Stay and Play’ vacation package, priced from US$165 per adult, per night (tax inclusive). Package includes four-night hotel accommodations at Universals Cabana Bay Beach Resort and a four-day park ticket that includes admission to all three Universal theme parks.For more information go to UniversalTravelAgents.com.center_img Tags: Christmas, Universal Studios Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Oh the Places Youll Go Dr Seuss museum opens its doors in

Oh the Places Youll Go Dr Seuss museum opens its doors in

first_imgOh the Places You’ll Go! Dr. Seuss museum opens its doors in Massachusetts SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — From the squiggly, pink handrails outside the entrance to the front hall decorated with scenes from “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street” – a real street just blocks away – the new Amazing World of Dr. Seuss museum says “You’re off to Great Places!”Walking into to the museum opening to the public Saturday in the author and illustrator’s hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts, is like walking into one of his beloved children’s books.The museum dedicated to Theodor Geisel – who under the pen name Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated dozens of rhyming children’s books including “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham” – features interactive exhibits, artwork never before displayed publicly and explains how his childhood experiences in the city about 145 kilometres west of Boston shaped his work.“He would absolutely be at ease here,” said Leagrey Dimond, one of Geisel’s stepdaughters (He didn’t have any biological children). “And to know that he’s going to be here permanently, safe, protected, that people who want to know more are going to make this trip here to see him, it’s perfect.”Examples of Geisel’s early advertising work and World War II-era propaganda and political illustrations that critics consider racist are conspicuously absent, but that’s because the museum is aimed primarily at children, said Kay Simpson, president of the Springfield Museums complex.The organization has in the past hosted exhibits of Geisel’s wartime work, she said.More news:  Can you guess the top Instagrammed wedding locations in the world?Kids are definitely the focus of the first floor of the museum, created in conjunction with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the family company that protects Geisel’s legacy. It features games and climbable statues of Horton, the stack of turtles from “Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories” and Thing 1 and Thing 2 from “The Cat in the Hat.”“This museum is about visitors encountering the creatures that sprang out from Ted Geisel’s imagination – Horton, the Cat in the Hat, the Lorax, Sam I Am – that got kids excited about reading, which was really his preoccupation later on in his career,” Simpson said.Visitors are taken through Geisel’s boyhood bedroom, his grandparents’ bakery and brewery and different rooms painted in brilliant blues and radiant reds, and decorated in almost fanatical detail with scenes from the books.The museum’s second floor has a more intimate feeling with the actual furnishings and assorted knick-knacks from Geisel’s studio from the La Jolla, California, home where he lived until his death in 1991 at age 87. Even his collection of 117 bowties is on display.But by not referencing Geisel’s wartime work, which often stereotyped the Japanese, the museum is telling only half the story, said Katie Ishizuka, who has written on Geisel’s work.“They don’t acknowledge the full picture of him or they try to minimize that or sweep it under the rug,” said Ishizuka, director of The Conscious Kid Library, which lends what she says are more diverse and appropriate books for young readers.More news:  Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perksEven in his children’s books, characters of colour are subservient or secondary to the white characters, or depicted as stereotypes and caricatures, she said.Dimond never heard a prejudiced word out of Geisel, she said, and knows he had some regrets about the wartime work.“If there is criticism of Ted, it has its place,” she said. “I would never try to, and he would not want any of us to try to hide away anything he did. I know that he changed with the times.”Richard Minear, a professor emeritus of Japanese history at the University of Massachusetts, who wrote “Dr. Seuss Goes to War” about his political illustrations, says Geisel certainly had a blind spot on race, but it’s not fair to judge his entire career on that work.“He matured and he developed a whole lot from those early years,” Minear said, noting that “Horton Hears a Who!” was an allegory about post-war Japan and the nation’s relationship with the U.S.The museum is expected to draw about 100,000 visitors annually and along with a $1 billion casino scheduled to open in 2018, is part of the Springfield’s economic renaissance, Mayor Domenic Sarno said. Geisel belongs in his hometown, the mayor said.“Any other city in the country would be salivating to have a museum for a world-renowned author like Dr. Seuss,” he said. << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Tags: Museums By: Mark PrattSource: The Associated Press Monday, June 5, 2017 last_img read more

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Sabre cutting 900 jobs after 65 million loss

Sabre cutting 900 jobs after 65 million loss

first_imgTags: Profit Report, Sabre Share Sabre cutting 900 jobs after $6.5 million loss Wednesday, August 2, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >> SOUTHLAKE, Texas — Sabre Corp. on Tuesday said it is cutting 9% of its global workforce to lower costs. It also reported a second-quarter loss of $6.5 million, compared with a profit the year before.Sabre, a provider of technology services to the travel industry, had 10,000 employees at the end of 2016, so the cuts amount to about 900 jobs.The job cuts are part of a cost-trimming and reorganization program that the company said will save $110 million a year.Southlake, Texas-based Sabre said it had a loss of 2 cents per share in the quarter that ended June 30. Adjusted for one-time gains and costs, results came to earnings of 35 cents per share, topping the average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research by 1 cent.Sabre said its revenue rose 6.6 per cent to $900.7 million in the period. Five analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $894 million.It expects full-year earnings in the range of $1.31 to $1.45 per share, with revenue in the range of $3.54 billion to $3.62 billion.More news:  Windstar celebrates record-breaking bookings in JulySabre’s stock added 2 per cent to $20.20 in after-hours trading. The shares closed down $2.32, or 10.5 per cent, to $19.81 Tuesday and have dropped 21 per cent since the beginning of the year. Source: The Associated Presslast_img read more

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Saint Lucias Coconut Bay to slash prices following September refurbishment

Saint Lucias Coconut Bay to slash prices following September refurbishment

first_img Share Saint Lucia’s Coconut Bay to slash prices following September refurbishment Tuesday, September 4, 2018 Posted by Travelweek Group center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa, Saint Lucia VIEX FORT — In anticipation of its grand reopening following a US$5 million refurbishment, Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa in Saint Lucia will be slashing prices by as much as 70%.The Reopening Special Offer includes Premium All-Inclusive rates starting at $126 per person, per night, based on double occupancy, on bookings of five nights or more by Sept. 30, 2018. Rates apply to both the resort’s Splash family-friendly wing and its adults-only Harmony wing, for travel Oct. 1-31, 2018.Children under three stay for free, while kids ages 3-17 stay for $59 per night. There are no resort fees at the resort, and rates include all government taxes, gratuities and airport transfers from Hewanorra International Airport.Bookings of seven nights or more also include a $1,000 resort savings booklet redeemable for exclusive discounts on spa treatments, boutique purchases, photography services, island tours and more.Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa has closed its doors for the month of September for renovations, reopening on Oct. 1, 2018.More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA Sales“This year as we continue our slate of enhancements during Coconut Bay’s annual September closure, we are focusing on some major back-of-the-house modernizations that will positively affect our staff as well as the service they provide our guests,” says Mark Adams, CEO. “Of course, we continue to enrich our Premium All-Inclusive amenities that deliver the wow factor our guests have come to expect, from revamped menus for exciting new dining options to a redesigned look for our main Coconut Walk restaurant that is sure to be a guest favourite.”The planned enhancements include:New kitchens will be installed in two of the resort’s four à la carte specialty restaurants, plus the top-floor kitchen at Jerk Treehouse Restaurant will be expanded to meet demand for Caribbean favourites.The fourth floor of the family-friendly Splash wing will receive new awnings that provide shade to premium category rooms. The zero-entry Splash Pool will also be completely resurfaced, the Tiki Canopy will be expanded to the Splash Bar, and the oceanfront deck behind the Activity Pool will be replaced to accommodate additional loungers and future private parties.As part of its ongoing commitment to sea turtle conservation, the resort will be expanding its ‘Skip The Straw, Save A Turtle’ initiative to the adults-only Harmony Pool Bar and the Splash Pool Swim-up Bar.The Cove, the resort’s expansive outdoor dining and entertainment venue, will receive a new roof.Upgrades at the 11,000 square-foot oceanfront Kai Mer Spa include new décor, paint and enhanced changing rooms.A new duty-free retail jewelry store will open in the lobby, next to the 24-hour Coffee and Tea Corner.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”For more information go to cbayresort.com or call 1-877-252-0304.last_img read more

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Venezuelas Chávez in very delicate condition

first_imgNo related posts. CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is suffering from a “new and severe” infection that has worsened his breathing as he undergoes intensive chemotherapy, the government said late Monday.The announcement came two weeks after Chávez, 58, checked into a Caracas military hospital following two months of treatment in Cuba, where he underwent his fourth round of cancer surgery since June 2011.“Currently, he has a new, and severe infection,” Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said in a statement read from the hospital, adding that there was a “worsening of respiratory function.”Villegas reiterated that Chávez was undergoing “intensive chemotherapy, as well as complementary treatments” and that his “condition continues to be very delicate.”“Comandante Chávez continues to cling to Christ and life, conscious of the difficulties that he is facing and strictly following the program designed by the medical team,” the minister said.The government revealed for the first time on Friday that Chávez began receiving a tough new round of chemotherapy in Cuba after a respiratory infection had improved in January and decided to continue the treatment in Caracas.The firebrand leader stealthily returned to the capital on Feb. 18, with a message on his Twitter account sent in the dead of night.Chávez has not come out or spoken in public in almost three months, fueling speculation about his health that has angered his government. Officials only released a set of photos showing him in his Havana hospital bed, smiling with two daughters on Feb. 15, three days before his homecoming.The government has sent mixed messages about his condition, saying last week that he was still suffering from respiratory problems before declaring the next day that he had presided over a five-hour meeting with aides.Then Vice President Nicolás Maduro, his chosen successor, disclosed the chemotherapy treatment late Friday, before saying the next day that Chávez was still sending instructions about political and economic policies.Maduro said Chávez was communicating by writing and other “creative” ways because a tracheal tube, which is assisting his breathing, was hindering his speech. He said the president was “in good spirits” while fighting for his life.Hundreds of people joined an opposition-led march Sunday demanding that the government reveal more details about the condition of the president of this South American nation which sits atop the world’s largest proven oil reserves.The government has never disclosed the exact nature, location and severity of the cancer, only that it was in the pelvic region.The opposition has accused the government of lying about the president’s health, doubting that he could have held an hours-long policy meeting.Maduro and other senior officials lashed out at the opposition and rumors that the president may be dead, saying it was part of a campaign to destabilize the nation.In power for 14 years, Chávez was re-elected to a six-year term in October but was unable to attend his Jan. 10 inauguration.Before he left for Cuba in December, he designated Maduro as his political heir and urged Venezuelans to vote for him if he is unable to resume his duties. The constitution says elections must be held within 30 days if the president becomes incapacitated. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Digital parking meters begin operating this week

first_imgNo related posts. Some 1,500 digital parking meters began operating on Monday in the central canton of San José, starting at 10 a.m.The new system for parking on public roads, implemented by the municipality, aims to eliminate the parking ticket system in the central canton of the capital.Digital parking meters accept debit and credit cards, and those not wanting to use personal bank accounts can pay by sending an SMS from cellphones.In order to use cellphones as a payment method, motorists must first create a parking account at a local bank, which will assign a Personal Identification Number (PIN).Public officials inaugurated the new parking system at 10 a.m. in a brief act in front of the Foreign Ministry in downtown San José. Facebook Commentslast_img

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Black Sabbath Megadeth to rock Costa Rica in October

first_imgRock mega-legendsBlack Sabbath and Megadeth on Friday announced the addition of Costa Rica to their Latin America stadium tour this year. The two metal legends will perform at the National Stadium in western San José on Oct. 22.Local promoters RPMTV confirmed the concert and reported that tickets will go on sale on June 14 at the website LaBoleteria.co.cr.Ticket prices range from ₡18,000-₡70,000 ($36-$140), although only 1,000 seats are available for the VIP area, at $140 each. Prices do not include service charges.The Latin American tour will kick off in Santiago, Chile, followed by Buenos Aires, Argentina; Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Bogotá, Colombia; and then San José.Black Sabbath will mostly promote its new album, “13,” released this month. The album is the 19th for the British band, and the first after founding members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler reunited three years ago. It is also Osbourne’s first record with the band since 1978.Drummer Bill Ward recorded some of the tracks, but was replaced by Brad Wilk, drummer from Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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UPDATE MH370 clues mount as wreckage identified as Boeing 777

UPDATE MH370 clues mount as wreckage identified as Boeing 777

first_imgRelated posts:Wreckage definitely from missing Malaysia Airlines jet, Malaysia PM says Could the missing Malaysia Airlines plane have been stolen? This might explain why CNN unexpectedly bumped its special feature on John Felix Bender’s death in Costa Rica Malaysia concludes that missing jet crashed into the Indian Ocean UPDATE: Friday, July 31 7:45 a.m., by Mahdia Benhamla, AFPSAINT-ANDRÉ, France — Malaysian authorities confirmed Friday that plane wreckage washed up on an Indian Ocean island was from a Boeing 777, meaning the part is almost certainly from missing flight MH370.The debris, part of a plane wing, could provide the first tangible clue towards unlocking the mystery surrounding the Malaysia Airlines plane, which disappeared in March last year with 239 people on board.“I believe that we are moving closer to solving the mystery of MH370. This could be the convincing evidence that MH370 went down in the Indian Ocean,” Malaysia’s deputy transport minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi told AFP.However, authorities have warned one small piece of plane debris was unlikely to completely clear up one of aviation’s greatest puzzles.The Malaysia Airlines flight was one of only three Boeing 777s to have been involved in major incidents, along with the downing of the MH17 over Ukraine last year and the Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco airport in 2013 that left three dead.The wing component found on the French island of La Reunion bears the part number “657 BB,” according to photos of the debris.“From the part number, it is confirmed that it is from a Boeing 777 aircraft. This information is from MAS (Malaysia Airlines). They have informed me,” the minister told AFP.Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the MH370 search, said greater clarity on the origin of the part should be confirmed “within the next 24 hours”.“We are increasingly confident that this debris is from MH370,” Dolan told AFP.Abdul Aziz said a team of Malaysian investigators had arrived in Paris where the wreckage is due to arrive Saturday at 6:20 a.m. (0420 GMT) before heading to the city of Toulouse.The debris will be analysed “next week,” according to a source in the French investigations team.Original story followsSYDNEY, Australia — Australia on Friday said it was confident the search for MH370 was being conducted in the right area with aircraft wreckage being washed to La Reunion consistent with the zone they are scouring.“We remain confident that we’re searching in the right place, and if in fact the plane parts found on Reunion Island are linked to MH370, that would rather strengthen the case that we are in the right area,” said Transport and Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss.He added: “The fact that this wreckage was sighted on the northern part of the Reunion Island is consistent with the current movements” from the search area.Authorities hunting for missing flight MH370 are “increasingly confident” that wreckage found on an Indian Ocean island is from the ill-fated jet, the Australian official leading the search said Friday.The two-metre (six-foot) long piece of wreckage, is to be sent to France for analysis, with hopes high that it could turn out to be the first tangible proof that the plane went down in the Indian Ocean.Investigators are hoping they will be able to move closer to solving the perplexing mystery swirling around the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which vanished without a trace 16 months ago with 239 people aboard.“We are increasingly confident that this debris is from MH370,” Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau which is leading the MH370 search, told AFP.“The shape of the object looks very much like a very specific part associated only with 777 aircraft.”Dolan, however, echoed comments Thursday by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who said the object was “very likely” from a Boeing 777 but cautioned that it remained to be confirmed, in a case notorious for disappointing false leads.Dolan said he was hoping for greater clarity “within the next 24 hours.”Several experts believe the debris is a Boeing 777 flaperon, a wing part, and that if it is confirmed it almost certainly belonged to the Malaysia Airlines plane, whose disappearance became one of aviation’s greatest mysteries.The debris washed up on the French island of La Reunion, some 4,000 kilometers from the oceanic region where MH370 was thought to have gone down in March last year.The recovered object is expected to be flown to a testing site in France near the city of Toulouse for analysis by aviation authorities and could reach there by Saturday, French sources told AFP.Emotional rollercoasterFlight MH370 was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it mysteriously turned off course and vanished on March 8 last year.For relatives of those aboard, torn between wanting closure and believing their loved ones were still somehow alive, the discovery was yet another painful turn on an emotional rollercoaster.“It has started all over again, staring at the phone constantly for news,” said Jacquita Gonzales, wife of Patrick Gomes, the flight’s cabin crew supervisor.Local government officials on La Reunion said France’s civil aviation investigating authority BEA has been asked to coordinate an international probe into the origin of the debris.Further adding to the mystery, a torn fragment of luggage was discovered in the same place as the plane wreckage. Australian search chiefs have played down any link between the fragment and the doomed flight, however.Authorities involved in the search at sea, guided by the analysis of signals from the plane that were detected by a satellite, believe it went down in the southern Indian Ocean.But no confirmed physical evidence has ever been found and Malaysian authorities in January declared that all on board were presumed dead.While there have been several accidents in the region, such as a South African Airways Boeing 747 that crashed near the island of Mauritius in 1987, killing all 159 people on board, none has involved a Boeing 777.Experts said an identification number on the debris meant it could be rapidly identified as from a Boeing 777.Valborg Byfield, a scientist at the National Oceanography Centre in Britain, said there were two ocean currents which could have swept the wreckage from the crash site to La Reunion.“Were the plane to have gone done south of the equator, the debris might have been transported by the South Equatorial Current, which bifurcates as it approaches the African coast, with one stream going south along the eastern coast of Madagascar. This would take it past La Reunion.”Angry next of kin have accused Malaysia’s government of incompetence, secrecy, and insensitivity toward relatives, and many have questioned the focus on the Indian Ocean, saying other possibilities were being ignored.Speculation on the cause of the plane’s disappearance has focused primarily on a possible mechanical or structural failure, a hijacking or terror plot, or rogue pilot action. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Mag45 earthquake rattles Costa Ricas Central Valley

Mag45 earthquake rattles Costa Ricas Central Valley

first_imgJust before noon Friday amagnitud-4.5 earthquake struck 14 kilometers southeast of Santa María de Dota, in Costa Rica’s Los Santos region, according to the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) and the National Seismological Network.The quake could be felt in the capital, San José, and Cartago. There were no reports of injuries or damage at this posting but a temblor with a magnitude of 4.5 has the potential to cause moderate damage.The Los Santos region is not densely populated and best known for its coffee and wildlife, including tapirs and the emerald-colored quetzal. Facebook Comments Related posts:Two Good Friday quakes rock Costa Rica Magnitude 4.4-earthquake shakes Siquirres, Costa Rica Costa Rica’s capital to run earthquake drill Thursday Earthquake jolts five provinces in Costa Ricalast_img read more

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Repairs to sewers will close roads in downtown San José

Repairs to sewers will close roads in downtown San José

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:La Platina bridge will partially reopen next week Costa Rica nearing record rainfall for May Renovation of Hotel Costa Rica sparks criticism President Solís pledges to repair road to Monteverde by next year Motorists and pedestrians prepare: Traffic jams in downtown San José could get worse starting next week. The Water and Sewers Institute (AyA) will close roads to repair and replace some of the city’s sewers.The institute announced that the project will require the total closure of five sections of the capital’s main avenues and streets. Closures will begin Monday and will extend for 20 weeks, according to a detailed schedule (see below).The agency noted that in order to reduce problems for commuters, crews will close and repair sewers on one stretch of road at a time, in periods ranging between two and six weeks each.AyA’s statement says the agency “guarantees a noticeable improvement in wastewater collection in the city and reduced problems with clogged sewers.”Ahead of rainy seasonProblems with the city’s sewers in recent years have been a headache for commuters, and even more so for business owners. Sewers and rivers that overflowed during heavy downpours have caused problems all over the city throughout the rainy season, which runs May-November.During the past three years, flooding has carried away vehicles, damaged merchandise in stores and forced many businesses to close for several hours, some even for days.Problems prompted business owners in the capital to file a complaint last year before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, against AyA, the San José Municipality, and the Health Ministry. The high court justices ruled in favor of the business owners and ordered agencies “to fully clean the city’s entire sewer system and conduct all necessary actions to prevent flooding during the rainy season.”City workers duly began cleaning and removing debris to prevent swollen rivers from causing floods this year, and now AyA will begin works on the sewers.This the schedule of road closures for the upcoming months:Ave. 1, between Calle 0 and 4 (6 weeks).Calle 4, between Ave. 1 and 3 (2 weeks).Calle 0, between Ave. 2 and 1 (6 weeks).Ave. 1, between Calle 0 and 1 (3 weeks).Calle 0, between Ave. 1 and 3 (3 weeks).View of the first stretch of Ave. 1 that will be closed starting Monday and for the next six weeks:last_img read more

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Critics say politics tainting trial of Iraqi VP

first_imgAssociated PressBAGHDAD (AP) – Iraq’s first major trial dealing with the country’s savage Sunni-Shiite sectarian killings is tainted by politics, critics say _ an ominous sign for those hoping for justice for tens of thousands of victims of street executions, bombings and kidnappings.The defendant, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, says charges that he ran Sunni death squads are part of a political vendetta by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite. Al-Hashemi’s nine-member legal team walked out in protest in the second court session late last month, citing judicial bias. And the prosecution’s case relies heavily on the testimony of co-defendants, that the defense claimed was coerced, pointing to one who died in custody. More broadly, regardless of the merits of the case against al-Hashemi _ the highest-ranking Sunni in Iraq’s leadership _ the Shiite-dominated government has shown no sign of trying to prosecute those behind Shiite militias behind slayings of Sunnis. Several of those militias were linked to Shiite political parties that are now crucial backers of al-Maliki’s government.Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh denied any bias in charging al-Hashemi or that he was singled out, saying the case was strictly a legal matter. “Courts look into the crime itself, not the sectarian background” of the suspect, he said.However, al-Maliki himself has acknowledged that politics played a role in the timing of the charges against al-Hashemi. The prime minister has said he was aware of incriminating evidence against the vice president three years ago, but didn’t press the case then “for the sake of the political process.”Prosecutors charged al-Maliki’s often irksome rival only in December, a day after U.S. troops left Iraq, effectively ending the direct influence in Baghdad of the United States, which had pressured Sunnis and Shiites to get along. Al-Hashemi fled before he could be arrested, first to Kurdish-run northern Iraq where he was out of Baghdad’s reach, then abroad. Iraq remains paralyzed by the sectarian power struggles even if violence has dropped off since the worst bloodshed of 2006 and 2007.Some say that even if there was a political will to go after the major perpetrators, regardless of sect, Iraq doesn’t have the tools for such an enormous task, particularly an independent judiciary not intimidated by politicians or the threat of violence.“There has not been any investigation into the atrocities,” said Samer Muscati, a researcher at the international group Human Rights Watch. “The killings were on such a scale, and given the priorities of the current government and ongoing violence, it is hard for them to look at what happened a few years ago.”Long-running tensions between Iraq’s Shiite majority and Sunni minority exploded three years after U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq in 2003 and toppled Saddam Hussein, a Sunni. In February 2006, al-Qaida-linked insurgents bombed a major Shiite shrine, an attack that unleashed tit-for-tat killings, forcing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to flee their homes and pushing the country to the brink of civil war.Among those involved in sectarian violence were the Shiite Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, as well as gangs of al-Qaida-linked Sunni insurgents trying to drive out U.S. troops. Another Shiite group, the Iranian-linked Badr Brigades, was suspected of assassinating Saddam-linked army officers and officials of his Baath Party, targeting Shiites and Sunnis alike. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry says about 70,000 Iraqis have been killed since 2003 and an additional 15,000 are missing and presumed dead. In a sign of the slow pace of digging up the blood-drenched past, authorities received tips about 76 locations where bodies might have been buried, but retrieved only three dozen bodies in six areas, said Kamil Ameen, a senior ministry official.Prosecutors say al-Hashemi and his son-in-law, Ahmed Qahtan, ran death squads between 2005 and 2011, using a troupe of dozens of bodyguards to carry out bombings and shootings that targeted, among others, Shiite Muslim pilgrims and government officials.The pair face 150 separate charges, but are currently standing trial only for alleged roles in three killings _ of a lawyer, an Interior Ministry official and a member of the security forces. Al-Hashemi has denied wrongdoing.The head of a human rights group in Iraq, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said he believes the government is trying to pin most of the blame for the sectarian violence on Sunnis.“I am not defending al-Hashemi as I believe almost all politicians were involved in the killings of Iraqis in the past years, and their hands are stained with the blood of the Iraqi people,” he said. “All Iraqis know that.” Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   5 treatments for adult scoliosis More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements A former commander of the Badr Brigades, Hadi al-Amiri, now serves as Transport Minister.Al-Hashemi’s defense team contends testimony against him was obtained through coercion. His co-defendants include more than 70 former aides and bodyguards, several of whom have testified for the prosecution. One bodyguard died in custody; the defense says he was tortured, while the government insists he died from kidney failure.In three hearings so far, several bodyguards told the three-judge panel they were usually approached by al-Hashemi’s son-in-law and asked to carry out attacks. They said that on occasion, al-Hashemi thanked them afterward and paid them.The defense walked out of the second hearing after the court denied a request to obtain evidence that lawyers argued could exonerate the defendants, including the son-in-law’s phone records. In the third hearing last week, defense lawyers sat among fewer than two dozen spectators and only approached the court once, to request that Iraq’s president be called as a character witness.The next hearing is set for June 19. Justice Ministry officials did not provide figures on trials against others involved in post-war sectarian attacks. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group think tank said politics loom large in the case.“Nobody is investigating anything. This is a file pulled out of the drawer,” Hiltermann said of the al-Hashemi case. “The charges could have a basis, but there is no independent way of determining that” because Iraq lacks a functioning judiciary.Hiltermann added that such charges “can be brought against any number of people on all sides.”Among those walking free is al-Sadr, whose support is key to al-Maliki’s continued rule. Sadrists command 40 seats in the 325-member parliament and are part of an unwieldy ruling coalition that also includes the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc and Kurdish groups.Al-Sadr has sided with Sunni and Kurd politicians in a recent attempt to unseat al-Maliki, accused by his coalition partners of monopolizing power. But the cleric is also under intense pressure from his Iranian mentors not to topple the government.Any legal action against al-Sadr would surely disrupt al-Maliki’s efforts to keep him in the fold.Al-Sadr was able in the past to leverage his political clout to avoid prosecution. Several years ago, an arrest warrant was issued for al-Sadr and two aides in the 2003 killing of a Shiite cleric who was hacked to death by a mob. Legal proceedings were suspended in 2004, as part of a deal to end fighting between al-Sadr’s militiamen and U.S. troops in the southern city of Najaf. Sponsored Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

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UN official Assad regime could crumble soon

first_img More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Sponsored Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top Stories OSLO, Norway (AP) – Norwegian media are quoting the outgoing U.N. chief observer in Syria as saying it’s just a matter of time before Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime crumbles.But Maj. Gen. Robert Mood also told a news conference in Oslo on Friday that Syria’s government still has great military muscle left to apply in the civil war, with no sense of proportionality when it comes to using violence. According to Norwegian broadcaster TV2, Mood said, “It’s impossible to imagine a future in Syria where the current people in power remain in power,” adding: “It’s just a matter of time before this regime collapses.”That could especially happen if more members of the military leave the government to join the opposition.Mood left Damascus July 19.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   center_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

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US agency plans 150M investment in Mideast fund

first_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories OPIC and Abraaj said in a statement late Sunday that the Abraaj-managed Riyada Enterprise Development Growth Capital Fund aims to help businesses across the Middle East and North Africa, with Egypt as one of the main targets. It is expected to ultimately have a capitalization of $400 million.OPIC uses private capital to promote development and helps businesses break into emerging markets.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Four benefits of having a wireless security system Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   center_img DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – A U.S. government financing agency says it plans to pump $150 million into a Mideast private equity fund designed to promote the growth of small and medium-sized businesses in the region.A division of Dubai-based Abraaj Capital, the Middle East’s largest private equity firm, will manage the financing provided by the U.S. government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Sponsored Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Men’s health affects baby’s health too Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daylast_img read more

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Arab protests puts foreign policy at the fore

first_imgStill, in an election dominated by the economy, other issues have grabbed headlines, only to quickly recede.And Obama’s response so far has been somber and focused on protecting foreign personnel. The Pentagon on Wednesday ordered two warships to the Libyan coast.Obama forcefully condemned the attack in Libya and has decried the assaults on the embassies. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton forcefully denounced the film, which depicts Muhammad variously as a cartoonish lecher, fool and thug.But it was just that type of condemnation from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that prompted Romney to accuse the administration of issuing an “apology.”“If I was looking for what reminds people of the importance of poised presidential leadership, I have to come right out and say that Obama is getting the better part of the argument this week,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution. “I like a lot of things about Romney, but he hasn’t handled this very well.”The mob actions in Egypt, Libya and Yemen nevertheless present a challenge for Obama because they draw more attention than other foreign policy conundrums. What’s more, in these instances the perpetrators are not state-sponsored, presenting Obama with a diffuse target. “We watch for Iranian interference in different countries,” the senior administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe administration thinking. “And when you have any type of instability, that’s the type of thing that we look for.”____Follow Jim Kuhnhenn on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jkuhnhenn Sponsored Stories Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) – His sights fixed firmly on securing a second term, President Barack Obama had hoped that the rest of the world would wait until after the election if it had to grow restless and demand his attention.The eruptions in the streets of the Arab world, inflamed by an anti-Muslim video made in the U.S., mean Obama can put it off no longer. The protests are testing the president’s foreign policy skills and giving voters a pre-election view of how he handles a crisis. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Four benefits of having a wireless security system Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “The risk here for President Obama is that he appears weak because there is not an easy military solution,” said John Ullyot, a Republican strategist and former Senate Armed Services Committee aide. “You’re talking about unruly mobs and shadowy figures.”The protests in Egypt came on the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complained that no ally had the right to demand that it not strike at Iran over its nuclear buildup. The White House was forced to tamp down reports from Jerusalem that Obama had rejected a Netanyahu request to meet on the sidelines of a United Nations General Assembly meeting later this month.U.S. officials said the president’s schedule would not allow for any such meetings, a contrast to last year when he packed his visit to the U.N. with individual sessions with foreign leaders.Then Obama and Netanyahu spent an hour on the telephone, and the White House said they “reaffirmed that they are united in their determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and agreed to continue their close consultations going forward.”While the problems in Syria and tensions with Iran remain separate, U.S. officials are watching closely to ensure that the protests aren’t manipulated by Iran to provoke even deeper problems. “I know that it’s difficult sometimes seeing these disturbing images on television because our world is filled with serious challenges,” Obama told supporters Thursday in Golden, Colo. “It is a tumultuous time that we’re in. But we can and we will meet those challenges if we stay true to who we are, and if we would remind ourselves that we’re different from other nations.”U.S. officials sought to distinguish the anti-American protests from the Arab Spring revolutions that ousted long-time strongmen in Egypt, Libya and Yemen and that Obama backed.“We see this now as principally tied to this video and those in the regions who are seeking to exploit it,” a senior administration official said.The protests and the attack in Libya present a juggling act for the president. He must show resolve both at home and abroad, pressing foreign governments to do their part in protecting U.S. personnel and property, condemning the protesters and at the same time denouncing a provocative, though amateurish video that finds refuge in the cherished U.S. right of free speech. At the same time, he has been forced to push back on Romney.Obama accused his GOP rival of having “a tendency to shoot first and aim later.” And while even some Republicans flinched at the timing of Romney’s criticism, that could be forgotten if protests continue to threaten U.S. overseas posts. Top Stories Comments   Share   Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day (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 The turmoil also offers an opportunity _ a risky one _ for Obama to appear presidential in the midst of the election campaign, to contrast himself with a challenger less experienced in foreign policy and to illustrate that being president is not just about being a steward of the economy.Even with a rebellion in Syria and tensions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, no international image can be more searing and demand more public attention than that of a U.S. embassy under attack and American civilians in peril. This week’s angry demonstrators, flag burnings and imperiled civilians already were drawing comparisons to 1979, when Iranian revolutionaries stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 60 hostages and held them for 444 days, helping erode President Jimmy Carter’s public support.For Obama, the timing of the violent demonstrations less than two months before the election creates further complications.His Republican rival, Mitt Romney, jumped on the administration for what he claimed was a feckless response to the breach of the U.S. embassy in Cairo. A favored and popular U.S. diplomat, the ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, was killed along with three other Americans in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. And protesters in the capital of Yemen stormed the U.S. embassy compound there and burned the U.S. flag. The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

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Afghan official says Taliban block roads kidnap civilians

first_img How do cataracts affect your vision? The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in tweets from an account associated with the group.Afghanistan’s eastern provinces long have harbored insurgent groups, including the Taliban and the brutal Haqqani network, who wage attacks on police checkpoints, plant roadside bombs and target government installations.The Taliban launched their annual spring offensive in late April with a huge assault on the northern city of Kunduz, taking authorities by surprise. Mass kidnappings appear to be a new strategy.Also on Saturday, in northern Sari Pul province, four policemen were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb, according to Gen. Noor Habib Gulbahari, the provincial police chief. He said another three policemen were wounded in the explosion.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona GARDEZ, Afghanistan (AP) — Taliban militants blocked roads in an eastern province of Afghanistan bordering Pakistan, forcing cars to stop and kidnapping the occupants at gunpoint, an Afghan official said Saturday.Gen. Zelmai Oryakhail, the police chief of Paktia province, said a number of civilian vehicles had been stopped by Taliban gunmen in Sayad Karm district early in the morning.Six people were still being held out of the 22 initially abducted, he said, adding that police reinforcements have been deployed in an attempt to free the remaining captives. Top holiday drink recipes Top Stories Comments   Share   center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

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Obama signs bill creating nationwide alert system for police

Obama signs bill creating nationwide alert system for police

first_imgPresident Barack Obama signs S. 665, the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. From left are, Justin Ramos, 19, Jayden Ramos, 14, Vice President Joe Biden, Maritza Ramos, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., Wei Tang Liu, and Xiu Li. The bill will assist with the establishment of a nationwide Blue Alert system to apprehend violent criminals who have injured or killed police officers or who have made an imminent or credible threat to cause serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer. The bill is named in honor of two New York City Police Detectives who were killed while sitting in their patrol vehicle in Dec. 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Comments   Share   Obama says it’s important for communities to do everything possible to ensure the safety of police officers. He says the alerts could help warn officers when there is an active threat against them.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Check your body, save your life 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed into law a measure to create a nationwide alert system to help catch anyone who hurts, kills or makes credible threats against police officers.The new system would be similar to the Amber Alerts used to find abducted children.The bill is named for New York City police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were shot in Brooklyn days before Christmas by a man who later killed himself. Families of the slain officers were on hand to see Obama sign the bill in the Oval Office. Sponsored Stories last_img read more

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More than 500 injured as fire hits Taiwan water park party

first_img Comments   Share   Mesa family survives lightning strike to home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A fire on a music stage spread into a crowd of spectators at a Saturday night party at a Taiwan water park, injuring more than 500 people, including eight in critical condition, authorities said Sunday.The fire was sparked by an accidental explosion of a colored theatrical powder thrown from the stage in front of about 1,000 people, the fire agency and local media said. The powder for the one-time event called “Color Play Asia” ignited along the ground, mainly burning people’s lower bodies, said Wang Wei-sheng, a liaison with the New Taipei City fire department command center. Top Stories How men can have a healthy 2019 Sponsored Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported witnesses as saying the fire at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City spread quickly after powder was blown into the air.Taiwan Premier Mao Chih-kuo announced a ban Sunday on parties that use flammable colored powder.A total of 516 people were reported to have burn injuries as of about 11 a.m. Sunday, Wang said.The official injury toll had risen from slightly more than 200 at midnight, because about 300 people had made their own way to hospitals. Eight people had life-threatening injuries, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.The victims included four mainland Chinese and two foreigners. An 18-year-old from Taiwan was burned on 90 percent of her body.Central News Agency said that police were questioning two park workers who had launched the powder as well as the party’s on-site organizer and two technicians. They may face charges of professional negligence causing serious injuries and endangering the public, it said.The exact cause of the fire is still being investigated.Video showed rescue workers and bystanders carrying burned and injured people on their backs, in inflatable boats and on stretchers to get medical treatment. Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous oflast_img read more

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Staging Connections wins MEA NSW Industry Award for Technical C

first_imgStaging Connections Sydney has won the NSW MEA Industry Award for 2009 for Technical and Creative Production. This is the third consecutive year that Staging Connections Sydney has won the NSW Award, which means the Company will now be fast tracked into the MEA Industry Hall of Fame. Teresa Amey, Regional General Manager accepted the award and thanked the Sydney team for their ongoing support and said the award demonstrated to the industry the amazing depth of talent and dedication within the Staging Connections Sydney team. Staging Connections Sydney now goes on to the national awards which will be presented at the MEA National Conference on 20th April 2010. Jacqueline Crick Honoured as Y MEA Future Leader of the YearJacqueline Crick, Account Manager, WA has been named Y MEA Future Leader of The Year at the WA MEA Industry Awards. This outstanding achievement was voted on by Jacqui’s industry peers and is a testament to Jacqui’s hard work and professionalism. Staging Connections voted Best AV/Production/Staging/Exhibition Company’ in AustraliaThe NSW MEA and Future Leader Awards follow the announcement in early March that Staging Connections had been voted ‘Best AV/Production/Staging/Exhibition Company’ in Australia in mice.net magazine’s inaugural Readers’ Choice awards. Conducted during October, November and December last year mice.net readers were asked to vote for their favourite product/service provider that they had used during the past 12 months. Winners were determined by the number of votes received and Staging Connections Australia was voted clear winner in the Best A/V Production/Staging/Exhibition Company category. Recognition is result of focus on high service standardsStaging Connections CEO Tony Chamberlain pictured said that awards recognised the hard work and commitment of Staging Connections’ teams across Australia. He said that management had refocused on business basics which is proving to be a powerful tool in the market. “Our teams across Australia continue to up the ante in terms of high standards of client service delivery and through review and continuous improvement, we will continue to work very hard to maintain our strong position,” Tony said. Source = Staging Connections Grouplast_img read more

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Paranoid Qantas cuts 40 year ties with Tourism Australia

Paranoid Qantas cuts 40 year ties with Tourism Australia

first_imgQantas has pulled the plug on its 40-year partnership with Tourism Australia, claiming the tourist bureau’s chairman, Geoff Dixon is out to sabotage the carrier. Earlier this week, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce reportedly wrote a letter, informing Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson he was suspending all ties to the tourism body, including a $50 million joint marketing campaign, The Daily Telegraph reported. The airline’s boss allegedly expressed concern that Mr Dixon, a former Qantas chief executive, is not acting impartially as a government-appointed chairman, instead revealing an eagerness to see current Qantas management removed.In the letter Mr Joyce reportedly said the Tourism Australia chairman was also looking to buy the carrier and was out to sabotage the Qantas’ deal with UAE airline, Emirates.  Although yet to confirm details of the letter, a Qantas spokesperson advised the carrier has suspended future financial support with Tourism Australia due to “potential conflict of interest” with the chairman.“Qantas cannot continue to collaborate with an agency whose chairman is a member of a syndicate committed to unravelling Qantas structure and direction,” the statement read. Despite withdrawing funding, Qantas has confirmed it will move all dollars into state-tourism bodies and other sponsorships. Mr Dixon joined Qantas in 1994 and served as the carrier’s chief executive from early 2001 to 2008.  Dixon/Joyce bout the end of 40 year partnership. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

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