Chinas first lady shines on Latin America trip with Xi

first_imgPORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago – President Xi Jinping made history as the first Chinese leader to visit Trinidad and Tobago, but it is his glamorous wife Peng Liyuan who has turned the trip into a media sensation.Peng is stealing the spotlight as she joins Xi on the visit to the dual island country off the coast of Venezuela, the first stop on a tour that will also take the couple to Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States.Neither rain, the throngs jostling to see the visitors, nor the constant burst of camera flashes chronicling her public appearances flustered the impeccably dressed Chinese first lady, a former opera star fluent in English.“She’s a very beautiful person, very warm, and to chat with her in English was very wonderful,” gushed Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar after meeting Peng.Peng understands the celebrity life: before Xi’s rise to power she was a well-known soprano who toured the world promoting Chinese opera and music. For 24 years she also starred in an annual Lunar New Year gala broadcast on Chinese state television.Pictures of Peng are prominent in the official handouts distributed ahead of Xi’s visit. In one photo, Peng appears in her army uniform singing to a crowd of People’s Liberation Army soldiers.“She began as an ordinary soldier, but with her vocal talent later performed during frontline tours to boost morale during the Sino-Vietnamese border conflicts” of the 1980s, according to her official biography. From that reportedly humble beginning, she rose through the ranks to become an army general.Peng has been compared to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife, pop singer Carla Bruni, but the best regional comparison is Angelica Rivera, the ex-soap star queen wife of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.Both women were better known than their husbands before they rose to power, and both brought glamor to first lady positions that had long been relegated to background roles.The wives of China’s leaders kept low profiles since the 1970s downfall of Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong’s last wife and member of the Gang of Four, blamed for many of the Cultural Revolution excesses. Liu Yongqing, the wife of Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao, often accompanied the Chinese president on overseas trips but did non cultivate a public persona.Peng, 50, met Xi through a mutual friend and married her in 1987, according to the official biography. Their only daughter, Xi Mingze, was born in 1992 and is reportedly a student at Harvard University.China has been focusing on Latin America in recent years as the world’s second biggest economy taps into the region’s mineral and oil wealth to fuel growth.China has enormous energy demands, and Trinidad and Tobago is rich in oil and natural gas, and on Saturday the Asian giant and the tiny Caribbean nation, with a population of 1.3 million, signed a agreements on economic cooperation and cultural exchanges. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Brazilian scientists to test AIDS vaccine on monkeys

first_imgSÃO PAULO, Brazil – Brazilian scientists have developed an HIV vaccine and plan to begin testing on monkeys later this year, a sponsor institution said Monday.Known as the HIVBr18, the vaccine against the virus that causes AIDS was developed and patented by a team from the Medicine Faculty of the University of São Paulo, the São Paulo state Research Foundation (FAPESP) said.The scientists said that, at its current stage of development, the vaccine would not totally eliminate the virus from the organism.But the vaccine would be able to maintain it at a viral load low enough that the infected person will neither develop an immunodeficiency nor transmit the virus, they explained.The foundation said the monkey trials are expected to last two years.“Our goal is to test various immunization methods to select the one capable of inducing a stronger immunological response and thus be able to test it on humans,” FAPESP quoted Cunha Neto as saying.Provided adequate funding is available, the first clinical trials could then be launched, it added.Work on the vaccine began in 2001 and the research team – Edecio Cunha Neto, Jorge Kalil and Simone Fonseca – plan to test it on a colony of rhesus monkeys provided by São Paulo state’s Butantan biomedical research institute.The monkeys were chosen for the test because their immune system is similar to that of humans and they are susceptible to SIV (Simian immunology Virus), which is believed to have led to HIV when it crossed the species barrier. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

The 10 most popular Tico Times stories of 2013

first_imgThousands of Ticos march for marriage equality and family rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on Sunday, June 30.Alberto Font 1. Liberty ReserveA scandal in Costa Rica involving digital currency operator Liberty Reserve attracted international attention last May. That’s what happens when $6 billion and U.S. federal prosecutor Preet Bharara are involved.The breaking of what U.S. prosecutors called “bank of choice for the criminal underworld” involved arrests in Costa Rica, New York and Spain.Costa Rican arrested in Spain for alleged financial crimesMillions of dollars in limbo after shuttering of digital currency site Liberty ReserveU.S.: Liberty Reserve the largest money-laundering probe in historyLiberty Reserve: A cyberweb of intrigueCosta Rican President Chinchilla denies link to Liberty Reserve attorneyA Russian patsy or high-tech criminal?2. The Jairo Mora MurderJairo Mora, a young Costa Rican conservationist, and four foreign volunteers were captured while patrolling for nesting sea turtles on a northeastern Caribbean beach. The four volunteers escaped captivity, but Mora was beaten, stripped, dragged behind a car, and left to die on the beach. The brutal attack and the investigation that followed dominated our headlines for months, generating safety concerns among the environmental community, both in Costa Rica and abroad.Turtle conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval found murdered on Playa Moín in Costa RicaWhy Jairo diedMurdered Costa Rican conservationist had been chased by AK-47-wielding poachersIn Costa Rica, a peace vigil for slain turtle conservationist Jairo Mora8 suspects arrested in Jairo Mora case, but motive remains unclear Steve Flesch, an experienced traveler, visited 42 countries before he was murdered in April in the San José suburb of Desamparados. Courtesy of the Flesch family Police seized this Rolls Royce and other luxury cars from Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky’s home in a southwestern San José suburb in late May. Courtesy OIJ 3. Tamarindo Crocodile Attack, SortaLast October, a croc harassed a tasty surfer in Tamarindo, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. There were many conflicting versions about what exactly happened, but the slashed-up surfer sympathized with the reptile, saying he just got in the predator’s way.Surfers survive attack by 7-foot Costa Rican crocodile in Tamarindo7-foot crocodile that attacked surfer in Costa Rica was ‘just confused,’ says victim 4. Sources: Reagan Administration, CIA Complicit in DEA Agent’s MurderA series of exclusive reports on (more) alleged U.S. government meddling in Latin America during the Reagan era became our fourth most popular topic of the year. Two former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and a former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency contract pilot are claiming that the Reagan Administration was complicit in the 1985 murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena at the hands of Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero. The author of the series also argued for further scrutiny on links between the CIA and the Contras.Reports: CIA present during U.S. drug agent’s torture, murderCosta Rican journalist calls for re-examination of CIA-Contra drug links, DEA agent’s murderReagan administration, CIA complicit in DEA agent’s murder, say former insiders27 years later, CIA pilot tells of using secret Costa Rican airstrip to traffic guns, cocaine5. Mass sea turtle deathsThe mass deaths of critically endangered sea turtles touched off a major ripple among readers. At least 70 Eastern Pacific green sea turtles were found dead and washed up ashore, with hundreds more reported offshore.  After much speculation about the cause of death (including dynamite-fishing), the most likely explanation seemed to be red tide.Conservation group finds 70 dead sea turtles off Costa Rica’s Pacific coastHundreds of dead sea turtles could be headed for Costa Rica’s northwestern shores, officials sayCosta Rican officials say dynamite may have caused mass turtle deaths discovered this weekWhat is killing hundreds of Central American sea turtles? Stories 6-106. Costa Rican legislature accidentally passes gay marriage legalization7. FIFA opens investigation against Costa Rica following United States match8. Meet CambYoCar: the first car to be designed and built in Costa Ricacenter_img Related posts:Costa Rican arrested in Spain for alleged financial crimes Millions of dollars in limbo after shuttering of digital currency site Liberty Reserve A Russian patsy or high-tech criminal? Liberty Reserve: Suspects plead not guilty in fraud probe Our most-clicked stories of 2013 involved, certainly not unexpectedly, a mix of scandal and mystery. These topics included the biggest alleged money-laundering case in history, an environmentalist’s brutal death, the polemical figure Paul Watson and a screwy crocodile attack.Here are The Tico Times’ most popular articles from this year (with the top 5 arranged by most popular topic): This crocodile attacked surfers in Tamarindo last October. Courtesy of Rafael Sandoval 9. He never came home10. Costa Rica seeks arrest, extradition from US of Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Ricas Moon Run highlights Monteverdes hidden side

first_imgRelated posts:4,500 runners prepare for Tamarindo Beach Marathon Monteverde’s community radio station aims to inform and entertain town’s diverse population Dealing with climate change in Costa Rica’s treasured Monteverde cloud forest To pave or not to pave? Monteverde’s ongoing roadway saga MONTEVERDE, Puntarenas — As they race this daunting, 62-kilometer ultramarathon, there’s a small stretch where the runners are required to do the most counterintuitive thing imaginable: walk.Participants in Saturday’s Moon Run in Monteverde had to stroll along the 150-meter-long hanging bridge that drapes over the brilliant canopy of one of the world’s rare cloud forests like a string made of metal, so as not to shake it.“If they’re caught running here they could be disqualified,” said freelance photographer and fourth generation Monteverde native Félix Salazar, who has covered the race annually since its inception here five years ago.Besides a few athletes looking for record times, it’s hard to see why anyone would want to rush across this scenic bridge without first taking in the intense onrush of nature around them. A blue hummingbird chased butterflies through the maze of leaves and branches that swayed underneath. Early morning clouds motored on at the same tranquil pace of the runners on the bridge, and each runner seemed to be smiling and joking as they passed by.“Another tough day at the office,” one runner joked before he advanced from the bridge and descended back into a vegetation so dense that any trace of his figure disappeared in seconds. Within the forest at the privately owned Selvatura Park, runners were greeted with mud-ridden paths that quickly turned swamp-like and large fallen branches that impeded their pace.Quetzals flitted in front of the path as if to cheer the runners on, while echoing cries from wild hogs and monkeys rang through the mist. The route created just for the race was far off the paved steps of the park’s visitor trail and is normally off-limits, as are most of the non-paved trails in Selvatura and other area reserves.“That’s the biggest complaint about Monteverde is that so many of its reserves are restricted from the average traveler,” Salazar said. “The runners get to see a whole different side of this place.”From Selvatura’s cloud forest reserve, runners then proceeded west towards the remote mountain town of La Florida de Tilarán where they were met with a punishing climb that foreshadowed a 10-kilometer circuit of steep hillside track. The Moon Run’s 60-kilometer Ultra trail stretches as far west as La Florida de Tilaran of Puntarenas province. (Courtesy of Unlimited Productions)Atop the copper-colored, rocky hill, a pair of falcons soared at eye-level. Marching legs churned towards the menacing loop of narrow dirt trail carved through these chains of mountains that no one seems to know the names of. Here, during what most runners described as the hardest part of the ultramarathon, Moon Run co-founder and Monteverde native Andrés Vargas snapped pictures and shouted encouraging words at the runners. With a mural of flowering clouds and wavy green hills behind him, the curly-haired 36-year-old said this race was partly designed to offer up an often-hidden side of Monteverde.“They see what 99 percent of tourists aren’t going to see,” Vargas said. “It’s a totally virgin area and they’re passing through the same tracks that tapirs or pumas come through. There is flora and fauna that exist here in Monteverde that aren’t in any other place in the world.” Amanda Zuniga/The Tico TimesVargas should know. Afterall, he was born and raised in these mountains and mapped out the courses for the 62-kilometer ultramarathon, the 42-kilometer marathon and the 22-kilometer adventure race, among other shorter races that took place Saturday. Vargas first hiked from Monteverde to Arenal volcano when he was 12, giving him an intimate knowledge of the terrain.“I was raised between the moss and the mud,” Vargas said. “I had spent some time away from Monteverde for awhile, but still I always felt connected to the mountain.”The initial Moon Run was held in Dominical in 2008 and started in the afternoon so that runners would finish after sunset, hence the event’s name. But in search of better infrastructure — and because of Vargas’ ties to his hometown — the race began to be held in Monteverde two years later. “There the seed was planted,” he said.This year, because of troubles securing permits from public agencies like the Public Works and Transport Ministry to race on public roads after dark, the races were done almost entirely during the day for the first time. Moon Race founder and Monteverde native Andrés Vargas took pictures and provided oversight at this year’s event, though he says he wants to compete next year. Amanda Zuniga/The Tico TimesDespite the bureaucratic hiccup, akin to having to change the Super Bowl from Sunday, Sergio Sánchez, who co-founded the event with Vargas, said it gave the opportunity for participants to fully take in one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful locales.“That’s the whole objective of this — to show off Monteverde as it really is,” Sánchez said. “They’re going through the most internal parts of the forest and there you get a very up-close relationship with this nature that not a lot of people get to ever see.”Sánchez, whose company Unlimited Productions hosts adventure sports across Costa Rica, said Monteverde is such a unique backdrop in a country full of natural riches because of its community.“The community of Monteverde is so unified and there’s a great environment of people here,” he said. “These are a diverse set of people that have a vision and don’t depend on the government to do everything for them because they can do everything on their own.” Ultra trail runner Diania Marisa Qusipe makes her way through the 2015 Moon Run on Saturday, December 12. Amanda Zuniga/The Tico TimesAnd the community of Monteverde is linked to the event as more than just a beautiful backdrop. This year’s edition of the Moon Run partnered with the Tropical Science Center, a non-governmental research center in Monteverde that prioritizes environmental conservation and education, to spread awareness among racers and community members.At Saturday’s event, more than 600 runners registered in five different Moon Run races, including 71 in the Ultra Trail. Vargas said each racer brings two family members or friends, on average, meaning that nearly 2,000 people injected money into the local economy this weekend because of the race.“In the case of assisting Monteverde, that was one of the reasons for bringing the race here,” Vargas said. “So I’m satisfied with that.”Runner Fidel Ramírez Hernández from Cartago, who finished third place in the ultramarathon for the second straight year, said he’ll continue coming back to the trail run in Monteverde because of the sheer diversity it offers runners in just a single route.“It’s a very special place,” he said. “Monteverde is unique and it’s always worth it to run here because of how beautiful it is.” The 2015 Moon Run in Monteverde hosted over 600 participants, including 71 runners that competed in the ultramarathon. Amanda Zuniga/The Tico Times Facebook Commentslast_img read more

US travel alert for Nicaragua comes amid string of detentions upcoming elections

first_imgNicaragua’s periodic detention of foreign activists, journalists and researchers, and its upcoming election, have caused the governments of the United States and Costa Rica to warn their citizens about visiting the country.The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert on June 29 for U.S. citizens thinking about visiting Nicaragua. The State Department alert cautions U.S. citizens of “heightened sensitivity” by Nicaraguan officials regarding the elections, the controversial interoceanic canal and volunteer or charitable visits.“Nicaraguan authorities have denied entry to, detained, questioned, or expelled foreigners, including U.S. government officials, academics, NGO workers, and journalists, for discussions, written reports or articles, photographs, and/or videos related to these topics,” the alert reads.The travel alert also notes that the Nicaraguan government now requires advance notice through its embassy in the U.S. of any volunteer work trip or charitable visit to the country. The alert also warns visitors that election-related demonstrations have turned violent in the past.Nicaragua will hold presidential and legislative elections on November 6. President Daniel Ortega is running for a third consecutive term.No room for dissent on canalThe interoceanic canal has been a particularly sensitive subject for the Nicaraguan government. On June 14, the government expelled a group of U.S. government officials, including a Latin America studies professor from the U.S. Army War College who was reportedly researching the canal project.On June 25, Nicaragua detained Costa Rican environmental and indigenous rights activist Byron Reyes and five other foreigners for alleged possession of explosives in the town of Nueva Guinea, in the South Caribbean Autonomous Region. The detainees had been conducting a workshop on environmentally-friendly wood stoves.The police noted that the house where the alleged explosion took place (the activists say it was a small, accidental fire) belonged to Francisca Ramírez Torres, a local leader of opposition to the canal. The detained activists were deported two days later.Reyes said Nicaraguan migration authorities verbally intimidated him and his colleagues after they were detained, demanding to know which organization financed them and what they knew about the canal, according to the news wire AFP.In 2015, Nicaraguan police detained at least five foreign journalists working on stories about the planned canal, including a reporter for The Tico Times.Costa Rica has had a travel alert in effect for Nicaragua since last year. Facebook Comments Related posts:Thousands protest Nicaraguan canal Costa Rica seeks $6 million in environmental damages from Nicaragua in border dispute UPDATE: Nicaragua deports detained Costa Rican activist Farmers protest planned $50 billion canal in Nicaragualast_img read more

Legislative assembly president bikes to Costa Ricas inauguration ceremony

first_imgCosta Rica’s new Legislative Assembly President, Carolina Hidalgo – a dedicated swimmer and cyclist known for pedaling to work – rode her bike to the presidential inauguration ceremony, heels and all. And she wasn’t the only one.President Carlos Alvarado, who rode to the ceremony in a hydrogen-fueled bus, was escorted by a team of cyclists. Here’s how La Nación captured the moment: Screenshot from La Nación /“This is going down in history. Costa Rica is the first country where the president will be escorted by cyclists,” Juan Pérez, one of the cyclists who accompanied Alvarado from Parque La Sabana down Paseo Colón and Avenida Segunda to the inauguration site at the Plaza de la Democracia, told the daily La Teja.“This isn’t a pose,” Diego Protti (@vsprotti) wrote on Twitter about the short bike ride of Hidalgo, a 35-year-old lawyer who was elected as president of the assembly last week. (The legislator, who swore in the new president, describes herself on her own Twitter account as “a swimmer interested in politics.”) “The assembly president is a young athlete arriving at the event by bike. It’s a powerful symbol in many ways: political renovation, women in leadership, choosing sustainable transportation.”This starring role for cyclists comes at a time when San José has inaugurated new bike lanes (not without some controversy and growing pains). Organizations such as Chepecletas have campaigned tirelessly for alternative transport methods in the traffic-clogged capital and to raise awareness, particularly after numerous cyclist deaths in recent years.Read more about the hydrogen-fueled bus that carried Alvarado here. No hay nada de pose en lo que realiza @CaroHHe, la presidenta de la Asamblea Legislativa es una joven deportista llegando en bicicleta al evento. Simbolismo poderoso desde muchos ámbitos: mujeres liderando, la renovación política, la apuesta por medios de transporte alternativos.— Diego (@vsprotti) May 8, 2018 Facebook Commentscenter_img Related posts:PHOTOS: Carlos Alvarado is sworn in as Costa Rica’s 48th president More of our favorite pics from Costa Rica’s inauguration President-elect unveils gender-balanced, multi-party Cabinet in Costa Rica The future is in our handslast_img read more

Russia says the Wallenberg case is still open

first_img New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like “Believe me, had such an information been known to us, the Russia archivists would have been the first to publish and show it,” Khristoforov told The Associated Press. “When some people say that we are defending the pride of the uniform … it’s ridiculous. This is another state and a different special service.”Khristoforov insisted that he and his colleagues would have no inclination to whitewash the record of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s much-feared secret police, known under its Russian acronym, NKVD.“I doubt that any of the Federal Security Service officers today would associate himself with the NKVD and would try to defend the uniform of the NKVD,” he said. “That’s why this argument doesn’t stand criticism.”Khristoforov was taking part in an international conference that included researchers from Sweden, Hungary, Israel and Russia. Some of the speakers strongly urged Khristoforov’s agency to give independent researchers investigating the Wallenberg mystery free access to their archives.“I think full access is really needed,” said Ingrid Carlberg, a Swedish author who recently published a book about Wallenberg. “They can’t possibly know what kind of puzzles I have that could be matched with pieces of information in those archives. If we put them all together, we will have a clearer picture.” Wallenberg is credited with saving thousands of Jews in Budapest by distributing Swedish travel documents or moving them to safe houses.He was arrested in Budapest by the Soviet Red Army in 1945. The Soviets initially denied Wallenberg was in their custody, then said in 1957 that he died of a heart attack in prison on July 17, 1947.The Russian government has never formally retracted the initial Soviet version, but some officials acknowledged that Wallenberg likely had been killed. In 2000, Alexander Yakovlev, the one-time chairman of a presidential panel investigating the fate of repression victims, said he had been told by a former KGB chief that Wallenberg was killed in Lubyanka prison.That year, Russia also conceded that Soviet authorities had wrongfully persecuted Wallenberg and posthumously rehabilitated him as a victim of political repression.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Patients with chronic pain give advice New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories Check your body, save your life Associated PressMOSCOW (AP) – The chief archivist of Russia’s counterintelligence service said Monday it will continue searching for clues about the mystery of Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg, who vanished while in Soviet captivity.Lt.-Gen. Vasily Khristoforov said that his agency, the Federal Security Service, has no reason to withhold any information about the Swedish diplomat from the public eye. He rejected critics’ allegations that his service, the main KGB successor, could be hiding documents related to Wallenberg’s fate.last_img read more

165 mln pledge for fund backing Arab democracies

first_img Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories Major western economies and wealthy oil states are the founding donors of the fund announced in Tokyo alongside annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank.The U.S. has pledged $50 million, Britain $25 million, Saudi Arabia $25 million and Japan and France $12 million each. Altogether commitments total $165 million out of a target of $250 million.The group also announced that Yemen was joining the Arab Spring countries participating in the Deauville Partnership, which also include Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco and Libya.Numerous international lenders including the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, OPEC Fund For International Development and the Islamic Development Bank are supporting the partnership, which was set up in 2011 in Deauville, France, at a summit of the Group of Eight industrial nations.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories center_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day How men can have a healthy 2019 TOKYO (AP) – Rich countries and international lenders on Friday promised $165 million to a fund to provide financing for stronger public institutions in Arab nations seeking to establish democracies.The fund aims to help build economic institutions and promote reforms in countries where huge public uprisings ousted autocratic regimes. It is part of the Deauville Partnership that works to underpin democracy and economic reform in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia.last_img read more

Pope canonizes 2 saints from 19thcentury Palestine

first_imgChurch officials are holding up Bawardy and Ghattas as a sign of hope and encouragement for Christians across the Mideast at a time when violent persecution and discrimination have driven many Christians from the region of Christ’s birth.They were canonized alongside two other nuns, Saints Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve from France and Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception from Italy.“Inspired by their example of mercy, charity and reconciliation, may the Christians of these lands look with hope to the future, following the path of solidarity and fraternal coexistence,” Francis said of the women at the end of the Mass.Bawardy was a mystic born in 1843 in the village of Ibilin in what is now the Galilee region of northern Israel. She is said to have received the “stigmata” — bleeding wounds like those that Jesus Christ suffered on the cross — and died at the age of 33 in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, where she founded a Carmelite order monastery that still exists.Ghattas, born in Jerusalem in 1847, opened girls’ schools, fought female illiteracy, and co-founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary. The order today boasts dozens of centers all over the Middle East, from Egypt to Syria, that operate kindergartens, homes for the elderly, medical clinics and guest houses. Francis has raised the plight of Christians across the Middle East as a cause for concern, denouncing how the Islamic State group has violently driven thousands of religious minorities from their homes in Syria and Iraq.___Follow Nicole Winfield at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Patients with chronic pain give advice Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The vital role family plays in society New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis canonized two nuns from what was 19th-century Palestine on Sunday in hope of encouraging Christians across the Middle East who are facing a wave of persecution from Islamic extremists.Sisters Mariam Bawardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas were among four nuns who were made saints Sunday at a Mass in a sun-soaked St. Peter’s Square. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and an estimated 2,000 pilgrims from the region, some waving Palestinian flags, were on hand for the canonization of the first saints from the Holy Land since the early years of Christianity. In his homily, Francis praised Bawardy as having been “a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world,” while Ghattas “shows us the importance of becoming responsible for one another, of living lives of service to one another.”“Their luminous example challenges us in our lives as Christians,” he said.The canonization was celebrated in the Holy Land as well as by Palestinians in Rome. Bassam Abbas, a Palestinian-born doctor who has lived in Italy for 35 years, traveled from Civitavecchia, northwest of Rome, for the event with his wife and three children. They are Muslim, but their children go to a Catholic school.“We are proud of this event,” Abbas said outside St. Peter’s Square as he waved a giant Palestinian flag. “We want peace for Palestine, peace which transcends religion.”In addition to the Palestinian delegation on hand for the Mass, Israel sent a delegation headed by its ambassador to the Holy See, while France, Italy and Jordan also sent official delegations.In the birthplace of Christianity, Christians make up less than 2 percent of the population of Israel and the Palestinian territories. Although they have not experienced the violent persecution that has decimated Christian communities elsewhere in the region, the population has gradually shrunk over the decades as Christians have fled conflict or sought better opportunities abroad. Comments   Share   The tapestry of St. Marie Alphonsine Ghattas hangs from a balcony in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican prior to the start of the canonization ceremony led by Pope Francis Sunday, May 17, 2015. The pontiff will canonize two 19th-century nuns from what was then Ottoman-ruled Palestine. The new saints, Mariam Bawardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, are the first from the region to be canonized since the early days of Christianity.(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Sponsored Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

China Eastern sees massive surge in profit

first_imgChina Eastern Airlines is banking on its net profit for 2010 to exceed the previous year’s figures by almost ten times.The airline’s 2009 net profit was US$81.7 million, with expectations for 2010 exceeding US$800 million.The airline cited growth in domestic passenger travel as one of the primary influences for the surge in profits.“The air transportation market has been recovering rapidly and continued to grow in 2010. “In particular, the air transportation market of the People’s Republic of China has continued to grow rapidly,” the airline said in a statement released on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.In addition to increased domestic travel, the soaring profits were also attributed to the acquisition of smaller rival Shanghai Airlines and the World Expo in Shanghai last year, according to the statement. China Eastern Airlines Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

Regional airports to get major upgrade

first_imgA major $5.4 million federal government initiative to upgrade regional airstrips in Australia is planned for April 2012 to handle growing passenger numbers.According to the Bureau of infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) in 2012 22.5 million passengers travelled through regional airports, an increase from 16.8 million five years ago, ninemsn reported.Figures reveal the average annual growth rate for passenger movement at regional airports surpasses that for major city airports, over the five years to 2010, with the growth rate being 6.1 percent, against 5.7 percent in major cities.Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the figures indicate the future for regional aviation and airline businesses looks very optimistic.”The industry has consistently shown it can adapt to the growing reliance of Australians on aviation both for business and leisure as well as continuing its important role in delivering vital services to regional communities,” Mr Albanese said.Mr Albanese announced the government will upgrade 31 airstrips in remote areas in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, NSW, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.He added that the works will assist air services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Australia Post and freight and transport operators carry on servicing remote areas. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P The upgrades will help air services continue servicing remote areaslast_img read more

AR first South American SkyTeam member

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Aerolíneas Argentinas (AR) has become the first South American carrier to join the SkyTeam Global Alliance, following an ongoing rationalisation and rejuvenation by the Argentinean government after regaining control of the airline in 2008. The partnership between AR and SkyTeam has provided the airline with market recognition and commitment, according to Aerolíneas Argentinas president Mariano Recalde. “Aerolíneas passengers will benefit from unprecedented global connectivity through distribution centres and Alliance networks in Europe, America and Asia, as well as the diversity of products offered by SkyTeam,” Mr Recalde said. A special ceremony was held at Aeroparque Jorge Newbery Buenos Aires to commemorate the coalition, with SkyTeam chief executive Michael Wisbrum in attendance. “With the demand for travel to South America and Argentina rapidly expanding, Aerolíneas adds real value to our partnership to open broad opportunities for business and pleasure trips for our customers,” Mr Wisbrum said.The Argentinian flag carrier has acquired new flight simulators for training purposes, opened new routes, upgraded lounge facilities and made technological system upgrades as part of the government’s enduring overhaul.last_img read more