Share Tags: IATA Friday, July 7, 2017 GENEVA — After more than 70 years, IATA multilateral interlineable fares – more commonly known as ‘YY’ fares – will be rescinded effective Oct. 31, 2018. The decision “reflects the dramatic transformation that continues to take place in the distribution of airline products,” says IATA.Established in 1945, the YY fares successfully enabled consumers to purchase a single ticket in a single currency, giving worldwide travel options on different airlines and luggage checked through to final destination.Until the 1980s most consumers travelled on YY fares, notes IATA. “But competition, deregulation, alliances, liberalized bilateral agreements and developments in anti-trust regulation saw the use of YY fares gradually replaced by fares established by airlines.” Today YY fares account for just 0.03% of tickets sold.While YY fares will shortly disappear, IATA says its support for the multilateral interline system will continue with global standard setting for fare construction, mileage principles and currency standards. “More importantly, airlines and industry partners are working through IATA to focus on the transformation of airline distribution with programs such as New Distribution Capability (NDC) and ONE Order.”More news: Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthYY fares were the backbone of global airfares for much of the last 70 years “but their relevance has been overtaken by changing markets and consumer demands,” says Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “Airlines are responding to this with innovations that will benefit consumers with more choice. And IATA’s focus is on enabling airlines to bring these innovations to consumers using modern day marketing and distribution capabilities – NDC and ONE Order.”He added that travellers “are gradually experiencing the benefits of NDC with a richer and more transparent shopping experience when using travel agents. And behind the scenes, the ONE Order initiative is modernizing industry processes so that airlines sell their product in a single seamless transaction.”The Chicago Convention established the framework for international civil aviation in 1944. However, provisions for market access, fares or rates were not included in the Convention. The frameworks for these were left for national governments to negotiate in bilateral air service agreements (ASAs). As a standard practice in ASAs, governments relied on IATA to submit coordinated international fares and rates for approval. These fares became known as IATA YY fares.More news: Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksIn 2006 the coordination of YY fares was converted from physical meetings to a web-based system known as e-Tariffs to generate Flex fares, where a premium was added to the average of the highest carrier fares for the complete flexibility that the YY Fares offered. Intense competition among airlines, however, saw the decline in the use of YY fares accelerate. Posted by Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> See YYa: all-purpose fares discontinued as of Oct. 31, 2018
Monday, October 30, 2017 Weather advisories from Air Canada, WestJet as storm sweeps through Northeast Source: The Associated Press Tags: Air Canada, Storm, WestJet << Previous PostNext Post >> Share TORONTO — A severe storm packing hurricane force wind gusts and soaking rain swept through the U.S. northeast early Monday, knocking out power for more than 700,000. Lingering wind gusts over 80 kph near the shores of Lakes Ontario and Erie are possible as the storm pulls northward into northern Quebec and Atlantic Canada.Air Canada has issued travel alerts for a dozen airports due to strong wind conditions and thunderstorms, including Boston, Halifax, Hartford, Moncton, Montreal (YQM and YUL), New York (New Jersey’s EWR as well as LGA), Ottawa, Philadelphia, Sept-Iles and Toronto (YTZ and YYZ). WestJet has issued a weather advisory for New York.The New England area appeared to get the brunt of the storm, which brought sustained winds of up to 50 mph in some spots, with a gust of 82 mph reported in Mashpee on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. There were customers without power in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Maine and New Hampshire also got pounded.More news: TRAVELSAVERS welcomes Julie Virgilio to the team“We need about 24 to 48 hours to really get a good handle on what the scope of the damage is,” Seth Wheeler, a spokesman for New Hampshire Electric Cooperative, told WMUR-TV. “We’ll be making restorations along the way, but this is going to be a multiple-day event.”He added, “I think if you’re without power at this time, you should expect to remain without power, possibly for a number of days.”The same storm system also caused problems earlier Sunday in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.The storm began making its way up the East Coast on Sunday, which also was the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. That 2012 storm devastated the nation’s most populous areas, was blamed for at least 182 deaths in the U.S. and Caribbean and more than US$71 billion in damage in this country alone.With files from The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 7, 2018 Posted by TORONTO — There are plenty of reasons why Texas is a bucket list destination for 2018: Route 66, kiteboarding off South Padre Island and, for die-hard fans of the Ewing family, how about a 40th reunion and fan fest for the hit TV series Dallas?It’s been 27 years since the show ended its 13-year, 356-episode run but Southfork Ranch, which viewers will recognize as Ewing Mansion, still draws thousands of people every year, and during its heyday the show put Texas on the map for millions of people.The reunion takes place March 30 – 31 with events at Dallas and Southfork Ranch, and tops the list for any visitor looking to experience a one-of-a-kind trip to Texas. The event comes complete with a Southfork Fan Day with meet-and-greets with show stars Linda Gray, Charlene Tilton and Patrick Duffy, better known to many as Sue Ellen, Lucy and Bobby Ewing.The fan fest is just one of many attractions for Texas visitors in 2018, says Rosalyn Hunter, representing Texas Tourism with VoX International at a media event in Toronto yesterday.More news: Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesTexas took a hit from Hurricane Harvey last August but “we’re open for business and certainly welcoming visitors back,” said Hunter.The 2017 visitor stats will be ready in a few weeks, she added, noting that 2016 brought just shy of half a million – about 498,500 – Canadians to the Lone Star State. Canada remains the #2 source market for international visitor arrivals to the state.Clients will find plenty of bargains in Texas, adds Hunter. “Texas is very competitively price with good value for vacation dollars.”Attraction highlights include the new Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts & Sciences now under construction in Lubbock, Holly’s hometown. The US$140 million concert and performing arts venue is scheduled to open in early 2020 and will be a focal point for downtown Lubbock.Look out, Austin: Lubbock is home to more live music venues per capita than any other city in Texas. It’s also one of the state’s wine capitals, with 90% of Texas’ wine grapes grown within 10 miles of the city.More news: Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthVisitors to Houston meanwhile will find themselves in the fourth largest city in the U.S., close to the coast and front and centre for Space Center Houston, gateway to NASA. Direct air connections are available from Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.Quaint and charming Fredericksburg, billed as ‘Texas Heart, German Soul’, punches above its weight when it comes to restaurants, shops and art galleries, plus 45 wineries and tasting rooms.And San Antonio, celebrating its 300th birthday in 2018, is marking its tricentennial all year long with special events. San Antonio is “affordable, authentic and incredible” says the city’s rep in Canada, Sana Keller with Pulse Communications. With Air Canada’s daily nonstop from Toronto to San Antonio, launched in 2017, “you can come down to San Antonio in less than four hours,” says Keller. It’s been 40 years since ‘Dallas’ put Texas on the map for millions of viewers Share Tags: Texas Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>
Travelweek Group SEATTLE — Holland America Line has enhanced its Group Advantage Program (GAP) with new amenities to enhance onboard experiences.GAP now features 39 different amenities to choose from, plus four GAP Packages that cater to weddings, family reunions and culinary groups. GAP provides incentives tailored to each group program, while other groups earn amenity incentives based on GAP points established by the cruise destination, departure date and length.Here are some highlights:GAP PLUS: GAP Plus is a bonus offer that gives agents the chance to earn a 1% bonus commission and additional perks on hundreds of select sailings. Through the 2018 GAP Plus offer, agents can earn up to 17% commission in North America, one tour conductor for every 16th lower berth and a bottle of sparkling wine in each stateroom.CONNECTIONS: The line’s new Connections program also offers additional amenities and GAP points to small affinity groups. For groups of 24 guests or fewer, this new group program offers a tour conductor ratio of 1:10 and two extra GAP points for each group.FAMILIES: For family reunion packages, when eight or more staterooms are booked, the group receives exclusive amenities in place of GAP points. These include a free upgrade for the head of the family, a within-stateroom category upgrade for all family members, a $50-value fountain soda card per stateroom, Pinnacle Grill lunch for all family members and a $50-value beverage card per stateroom.More news: Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoWEDDINGS: Guests who say “I do” with Holland America Line and book their wedding group of eight or more staterooms receive a free upgrade for the wedding couple, a complimentary wedding cake for up to 16 guests, a Pinnacle Grill lunch per guest, chocolate-dipped strawberries per stateroom, a bottle of Prosecco sparkling wine per stateroom and a private one-hour winetasting per guest in lieu of GAP points.CULINARY: Culinary groups of 25 or more guests can book the “Private Wine and Cooking Demonstration” package and receive a private premium winetasting with the Cellar Master, a bon voyage bottle of sparkling wine in each stateroom and two one-hour demonstration sessions in America’s Test Kitchen with a Holland America Line-provided chef, all in lieu of GAP points. For culinary groups of 16 or more guests, the “Wine and Food Pairings with HAL Wines” entitles guests to a five-course premium dinner with five premium wine parings selected by the Cellar Master.OTHER AMENITIES: The 2018 GAP amenities feature six new offerings: dining at Rudi’s Sel de Mer pop-up restaurant on select ships; a BLEND winemaking experience on Koningsdam; a lobster roll at Lobster Shack on Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line’s private island; a mixology class; the Wine Cellar No. 1 package with four bottles of wine per stateroom; and a 12-pack of bottled water per guest.More news: Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJOther available 2018 GAP menu amenities include beverage cards; bon voyage sparkling wine in each stateroom; dinner at Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind and Canaletto; $25 or $50 Beverage Cards; an Internet package; sparkling wine and strawberries; deluxe canapés; a cocktail party with hot hors d’oeuvres; Fiesta Party with margaritas, mojitos and fiesta food; and even a Cruise with Purpose charity donation.On the land portion of Holland America Line’s Land+Sea Journeys in Alaska, GAP amenities include lunch aboard the McKinley Explorer railcar, a cocktail party in Denali, an entrance pass to Diamond Tooth Gerties in Dawson City and $25 in Denali Dollars.GAP points are based on a per-person value, and selections must be made 90 days prior to the cruise departure. Share More group benefits with HAL’s enhanced GAP program Tags: GAP, Holland America Line Posted by Friday, August 3, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >>
By: The Associated Press German airline Germania files for insolvency, grounds planes BERLIN — German airline Germania filed for insolvency Tuesday and grounded its planes after failing to secure short-term financing to stay aloft.The Berlin-based airline, which carried more than 4 million passengers a year on scheduled and chartered short- and medium-haul flights, blamed factors such as an increase in fuel prices last summer.The decision came less than a month after Germania announced that it was in financial difficulty following what it called a “particularly challenging year” for the aviation industry. Last week, it said it hadn’t yet been able to pay its employees for January.The airline said its insolvency filing, made Monday in a Berlin court, doesn’t affect two operations in other countries: Germania Flug AG in Switzerland and Bulgarian Eagle. Together with those two units, Germania operated 37 aircraft.In its statement announcing the end of operations, the company pointed to “massive increases in fuel prices last summer and the simultaneous weakening of the euro against the U.S. dollar” as well as “considerable delays in phasing aircraft into the fleet and an unusually high number of maintenance events.”More news: Honolulu authorities investigate arsons at 3 Waikiki hotels; no injuries reportedGermania said that passengers who booked flights as part of a package vacation can contact their tour operator to arrange alternative transport, but those who booked directly with the airline aren’t entitled to a substitute flight.The airline had operated since 1987. In 2016, it launched a drive to expand its fleet that saw it order 25 Airbus A320neo jets with an option for 15 more.Germania’s insolvency follows the demise in 2017 of Air Berlin, which was Germany’s second-biggest airline.Air Berlin went under after its main shareholder, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, said it would not make any more financing available following years of unsuccessful turnaround attempts. Germany’s biggest carrier, Lufthansa, and budget carrier easyJet bought parts of the airline. Tuesday, February 5, 2019 Tags: Bankrupt, easyJet, Germania, Germany, Lufthansa << Previous PostNext Post >>
Tuesday, May 14, 2019 Posted by One Canadian among four killed in floatplane crash in Alaska The Canadian Press VANCOUVER — Global Affairs Canada has confirmed one Canadian is among the four dead in a midair crash involving sightseeing planes in Alaska. The department says the name or hometown of the victim is not being released for privacy reasons. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family and loved ones of the Canadian citizen who died in Alaska,” Global Affairs said in an email. The United States Coast Guard says two floatplanes collided as they carried cruise ship tourists on sightseeing flights near the southeast Alaska town of Ketchikan. Two were still missing Monday night. Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios, a coast guard spokesman, said 10 survived and were being treated in a Ketchikan hospital. All the survivors were listed in fair or good condition, said Marty West, a spokeswoman for the PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center. It’s not known how the planes collided. A team of National Transportation Safety Board investigators was on its way from the Washington, D.C., to the crash site. More news: Windstar celebrates record-breaking bookings in JulyPrincess Cruises confirmed all the passengers on both planes were from the Royal Princess, which departed Vancouver on Saturday for a trip to Anchorage and was due to return to the port on May 25. Eleven people were in a Taquan Air single-engine de Havilland Otter DHC-3 when it went down as it returned from Misty Fjords National Monument, which is part of the Tongass National Forest, Rios said. The coast guard said three of those who died were among five aboard the second plane, a single-engine de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver. It’s unclear which plane carried the fourth victim, whose body was recovered during a Monday night search, Rios said. Global Affairs Canada said in an email that Canadian consular officials in Seattle are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information and stand ready to provide assistance as required. A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said Tuesday that the company was working on an overnight rescue and recovery update from the coast guard and would provide an update as soon as possible. << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Alaska, Princess Cruises
WestJet sold to Onex Corporation for $5 billion; airline will go private Travelweek Group Tags: Onex Corporation, WestJet CALGARY — WestJet says it has entered into a definitive agreement for its acquisition by Onex Corporation for an all-cash deal worth $5 billion. Assuming the deal goes through, WestJet will operate as a privately-held company from late 2019 or early 2020 onwards.Under the terms of the agreement, Onex Corporation and its affiliated funds will acquire all outstanding shares of WestJet for $31 per share. The transaction value is approximately $5 billion including assumed debt.WestJet says it was approached by Onex in March 2019, at which point the WestJet board of directors formed a special committee of independent directors to provide the Board with its advice and recommendations with respect to the proposal from Onex and the transaction, and to supervise the negotiation of the terms and conditions of the transaction.After an extensive review of the proposed transaction, says WestJet, the special committee provided its unanimous recommendation of the transaction to the WestJet board of directors.The WestJet board of directors, having received and considered the recommendation of the special committee, determined that the transaction is in the best interests of WestJet and unanimously recommends that WestJet shareholders vote in favour of the transaction at the special meeting of shareholders to be held to approve the transaction.More news: Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTClive Beddoe, WestJet’s Founder and Chairman, said in a statement released this morning: “Since our first flight in 1996, WestJet has been singularly focused on providing better options for the Canadian travelling public and this transaction retains that commitment. I am particularly pleased that WestJet will remain headquartered in Calgary and will continue to build on the success that our 14,000 WestJetters have created. Onex’s aerospace experience, history of positive employee relations and long-term orientation makes it an ideal partner for WestJetters, and I am excited about our future.”Ed Sims, WestJet’s President and Chief Executive Officer, added: “We are delighted to continue the journey of building an airline based on a growing network, providing competitive airfares and more choice to, from and within Canada, for communities large and small. Integral to this relationship is a commitment to our employees, and our unique ownership-driven culture.”The transaction is to be completed by way of an arrangement under the Business Corporations Act (Alberta). Completion of the transaction is subject to a number of conditions, including court and shareholder approval and receipt of certain regulatory approvals, including approval under the Canada Transportation Act.More news: Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTThe approval under the Canada Transportation Act involves a determination by the Minister of Transport which entails an assessment of the public interest as it relates to national transportation.“WestJet is one of Canada’s strongest brands and we have tremendous respect for the business that Clive Beddoe and all WestJetters have built over the years. WestJet is renowned internationally for its unparalleled guest experience and employee culture,” says Tawfiq Popatia, a Managing Director at Onex. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with WestJetters and continuing this remarkable Canadian success story.” Monday, May 13, 2019 Posted by Share << Previous PostNext Post >>
We live in a time of such rapid change and incessant invention that it is hard to recall how recent this all is. From the beginning of our dating system, the Birth of Christ, until the dawn of the 17th century, a mere 400 years ago, the world seemed to stand still intellectually. There was plenty of physical action: wars, pestilence and famine over and over again, but very little intellectual progress. In the West, at least, this could be attributed largely to the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, a vigilantly conservative institution that equated Knowledge with Belief. Based largely on a Babylonian myth the Earth was the center of the Universe and the Sun and stars revolved around it. One only needed to look upwards to see the truth. Jack O’Brien To question these facts was to risk being burned or boiled alive. Then in 1543, safely on his deathbed, the Polish polymath Copernicus published a revolutionary treatise proclaiming the Heliocentric Theory that the Earth and planets revolved around the Sun. The idea was so obviously ridiculous that the Church paid little attention to it until Galileo of Pisa, who had employed the newly invented telescope to study planetary orbits, announced his support of Copernicus. In 1632 the Holy Inquisition, enraged, accused him of heresy, citing the Book of Psalms, which at 93.1 and 96.10 declared that the World was immovable. And, even though Galileo recanted, placed him under house arrest for the rest of his life. The heretical works of both Copernicus and Galileo were placed on the Index of Prohibited Books until 1835.But the cat was already out of the bag. If the Church could be wrong about cosmology, might it also be wrong about Belief? The Church had already compromised its integrity by including in its Canon, or system of belief, the Hebrew Torah, re-naming it The Old Testament.The Torah is a record, compiled over many centuries, of the oral and written traditions of a group of contentious tribes whose only claim to our attention is an unfashionable monotheism combined with a continuing belief in the advent of a Messiah. Translated from Biblical Hebrew into Greek, this word became ‘Chrystos’, meaning the Anointed One, corresponding to the English Great Leader along with Caesar, Czar or Kaiser all from the same root. Messiah had no divine connotation, and was in fact applied to King Cyrus of Persia around 500 BC.The decision by the early Church to re-define the word Messiah as Savior and to award it divine status, then to equate Jesus the Nazarene with the Jewish Messiah was doubtless intended to legitimize Jesus’ ministry as the culmination of a series of prophesies going back for centuries. But the violent history of primitive tribes contrasted oddly with the compassionate teachings of the Nazarene.Then, having made off with several centuries of Jewish tradition the Church added insult to injury by roundly blaming the Jews for the crucifixion of their man. No wonder the parties wouldn’t talk to each other for a millennium.Furthermore, even in the New Testament the downright mystical concepts of he Holy Trinity, the Immaculate Conception, the Resurrection and the Remission of Sins, together with the performance of miracles were obviously imported from sources far to he East of Jerusalem and failed to impress an increasingly sophisticated audience in the 17th century. Finally, by declaring as heresy and burning objectors to these dubious ideas, along with increasingly corrupt administration, the Roman Catholic Church with its insistence on belief became vulnerable to widespread criticism.All of these factors, including the sale of Papal Indulgencies and relics of the True Cross combined to start people thinking about the difference between Belief and Knowledge and culminated in the Renaissance, a period of intellectual and artistic ferment which eventually gave birth to he French Revolution of 1789, when embedded concepts of Authority, such as the Divine Right of Kings and Papal Infallibility finally came into question. The parallel Scientific Revolution, which treated Knowledge as a totally separate field of inquiry from Belief, took off like a rocket and is still with us.But Science does not offer the consolations of Religion, which by providing justification for our existence and promising a better life after death fulfills a basic need for its adherents. Science, moreover, has still not answered the final question: who or what created the Universe? And until it has done that it cannot claim to be a credible alternative to Religion. It will probably turn out that our own Universe is merely a particle in a greater Universe, which in turn is only one of an infinite regression of universes. The human mind as it is presently constructed is capable of postulating but not of comprehending such an eventuality, and we must wait for Evolution to solve the problem for us. Meanwhile, we always have Belief. Facebook Comments No related posts.
Related posts:Liberation’s Araya promises administration with ‘social face’ Costa Rica hopes Chinese tourists will think pura vida for their next vacation Costa Rica’s lack of safety regulations comes into view after death of 6 tourists in January Tourism sector wants government support to boost competitiveness Representatives from Costa Rica’s five main political parties sparred during an economic roundtable organized by the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce at the Hotel Real InterContinental in Escazú on Tuesday.Antonio Álvarez Desanti, campaign chief for the ruling National Liberation Party, said the poor state of Costa Rica’s infrastructure, especially its roads, limits the country’s tourism potential.“As long as we have these [infrastructure] conditions, we’re going to be holding back tourism in this country,” he said.“We have places where tourists don’t go because rental car agencies don’t want their vehicles driving there,” he added, mentioning Monteverde, in the Tilarán Mountains in north-central Costa Rica, as an example.Álvarez, a PLN candidate for San José lawmaker, said Costa Rica also must address its high cost of living for tourists as well as locals.“We’re very proud of our natural wonders and colonial areas, but tourists count their costs,” Álvarez said, noting the high price of airplane flights and lodging here.The PLN candidate said that an Araya administration would support a currency policy that keeps the U.S. dollar above the Costa Rican colón’s lower band limit so that foreign tourists’ dollars go farther here, making the country more attractive for visitors.Libertarian Movement Party vice presidential candidate Thelmo Vargas agreed that infrastructure investment was key to keep Costa Rica as a top-tier tourist destination.Vargas also lashed out at the Broad Front Party’s proposed tax increases on luxury properties, arguing that the taxes would be passed on to tourists staying at luxury resorts and make the country less attractive for foreign visitors.Sergio Reuben, economic coordinator for the Broad Front Party, spoke broadly about protecting workers’ rights while also trying to attract foreign visitors, but did not offer specific policies.“We support an international brand for Costa Rica that is ecologically stable and respects the rights of workers and human rights. We support a national brand that reflects our traditions of solidarity,” Reuben said.The Costa Rican Tourism Board reported that a record-breaking 2.4 million tourists visited the Central American country in 2013.Tourism accounted for 5 percent of Costa Rica’s gross domestic product, according to a September 2013 statement from the National Tourism Chamber. Facebook Comments
Two bridges currently under construction on a southern section of theCircunvalación – a belt route around the center of San José – were built with flawed cement, experts from the University of Costa Rica’s National Structural Materials and Models Laboratory (LANAMME) announced following a much-anticipated inspection on Wednesday.LANAMME engineers determined that all eight support columns have porosity problems because the concrete mix being used is not homogeneous. These small holes could expose reinforcement rods to the elements, causing them to rust.The bridges are being built between Hatillo 8 and Pavas, south of the capital, where sewers under the road collapsed last August due to excessive rainfall. A gaping hole caused the closure of two lanes for several days until four Bailey bridges were temporarily erected.“We were surprised to find that the quality of concrete is not ideal for a new structure, and we will report the situation to the National Roadway Council (CONAVI) so that they take the necessary steps,” engineer Rolando Castillo, coordinator of LANAMME’s Bridge Unit, said.The report states that the columns “are not at immediate risk due, but defects will reduce (the bridges’) lifespans and repairs will be required in the medium term.”The document also says that “although the problems encountered are common errors that can occur in any construction project, it is unacceptable that CONAVI was unable to detect them in any of the eight columns.”The project was awarded in a public bid to private construction company Codocsa/PC at a cost of ₡ 3.1 billion ($6.3 million). Following the LANAMME report, the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) and CONAVI said they would require Codocsa to respond.LANAMME approved the remainder of Circunvalación repair projects.A law passed last year in the Legislative Assembly states that all LANAMME reports regarding public works projects “are binding,” and all recommendations must be implemented.MOPT earlier this week reported that the bridge projects are 40 percent complete and will be ready by May. Facebook Comments Related posts:New road to Monteverde to be ready in 2014, officials say Monteverde residents demanding a new road slow traffic on Inter-American Highway Costa Rica’s popular Highway 27 to Pacific at risk from rains Wider Panama Canal set for water trial
Arsenic levels remain dangerously high in the drinking water in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. The Voice of Guanacaste, the province’s bilingual newspaper, reported the results of two new arsenic studies this week.Water samples taken March 10 from the city of Bagaces showed unsafe levels of arsenic for the city and the surrounding communities of Montenegro, El Chile, Arbolito, El Recreo and Finca San Miguel, The Voice of Guanacaste reported. The results conflict with a May 2013 certificate from the National Water and Sewer Institute that claimed the water in Bagaces was potable.Another study by the Costa Rica Institute of Technology (TEC), analyzed 20 people from the community of Aguas Calientes, where residents consumed water containing 71 micrograms of arsenic per liter – more than 10 times the amount allowed by the World Health Organization – for at least 18 years.TEC’s study found that some residents displayed symptoms of chronic arsenic poisoning. One 19-year-old woman showed signs of changes in her skin pigment and skin lesions. Other people showed no symptoms, despite the traces of arsenic present in their urine samples.Recommended: What is killing the young men of Cañas?The region is also subject to abnormally high instances of renal failure, a problem commonly attributed to high arsenic levels by the public. However, experts in the field and the TEC study ruled out arsenic as a cause for kidney problems.From the study (translated by The Voice of Guanacaste):In the country of Bagaces and the community of Agua Caliente, renal problems cannot be attributed to the ingestion of arsenic in drinking water.The lack of potable drinking water has been a struggle in Guanacaste for years, with water shortages and high arsenic levels afflicting mostly poor rural communities. In 2013, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court issued an order to President Laura Chinchilla to resolve the province’s arsenic problem, but little has changed, according to The Voice of Guanacaste, beyond distributing filters containing rusty nails to neutralize the arsenic.The water issue was at the center of last year’s Guanacaste Annexation Celebrations, when protesters from the People’s Voice Association of Bagaces, an organization created to combat the water and arsenic problem, protested the government’s failure to respond.“We’re looking for someone who can tell us what is killing us, what is in our water and our environment that is killing us. No one has given us an answer and that’s why we’re angry and frustrated and here today,” Mainor Picado Camareno, of the People’s Voice Association of Bagaces, told The Tico Times at the march last year. Facebook Comments Related posts:Solís signs decree declaring emergency over arsenic in Guanacaste water supply Facing closures of makeshift garbage dumps, Costa Rican municipalities scramble to manage trash From the land of the rising sun Guanacaste canton stretches water supplies to support construction
Every year travel magazines and survey authorities across the world hurl accolades at Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches and seemingly happy people. This year was no different, but the predicted wave of praise was also accompanied with an unforeseen amount of criticism.To acknowledge this, The Tico Times has adapted last year’s “The Best of Costa Rica in 2013, according to everyone else” to include not just the good, but the bad and the ugly as well. Bing’s list praises Costa Rica’s natural beauty and calls the country a “dream destination” for beach lovers and adventurers. (Screengrab via Bing)TravelAs always, Costa Rica was recognized this year as a top tourist destination. International Living Magazine still ranks Costa Rica a top retirement destination, and the country was ranked the most recommended travel destination by the Global Tourism Monitor Survey. In 2014, more people searched for Costa Rica on the popular search engine Bing than any other vacation destination. TripAdvisor included Costa Rica in its Traveler’s Choice Awards, ranking Manuel Antonio as one of the best beaches and the Nayara Hotel in Arenal as one the best hotels in the world.But not every traveler was enamored in Costa Rica in 2014. The editors at Ethical Traveler dropped Costa Rica from its list of top ethical travel destinations due to perceived transgressions in human rights and environmental protection. Untreated runoff from businesses and homes and untreated sewage are the leading causes of pollution in San José’s Río Torres. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesEnvironmentCosta Rica’s green image took a hit in 2014 as the country tumbled from fifth place to 54th in Yale’s Environmental Performance Index due to changes in the index’s criteria. But, at the same time, according to Costa Rica topped the region in the University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Index, which ranked the country’s ability to adapt to climate change.Human rights and quality of lifeAs in years past, Costa Rica ranked as the world’s happiest country in 2014, according to the Happy Planet Index. The country also ranked near the top of America Quarterly Magazine’s Social Inclusion Index, beating out the United States, and Costa Rica beat out a number of European countries in the Social Progress Index. The country’s capital of San José was also shockingly ranked the second-best city in the region for doing business, according to the World Bank.But while Costa Ricans are supposedly happy, their reporters are not. Reporters Without Borders dropped Costa Rica’s press freedom ranking three spots and recent government spying scandals will likely warrant an even more significant drop next year. Facebook Comments Related posts:The Tico Times presents: 2014 in photos The Winners and Losers of Costa Rica in 2014 That’s loco! 12 bizarre stories from 2014 The winners and losers of Costa Rica in 2015
Costa Rican hotel and tourist operators may have to start learning Mandarin if President Luis Guillermo Solís’ administration makes good on a goal to court more Chinese tourists. Solís made the statement on Wednesday during his trip to Beijing.The president, who met with Li Jinzao, director of the China National Tourism Administration, said that tourism is one of the strategic priorities of the two countries’ relationship. Solís said Costa Rica would work with the Chinese government to establish a direct flight from China to Costa Rica and announced the opening of a new consulate in Shagnhai.Costa Rica plans to work with China to improve the number of Mandarin speakers at Costa Rican tourist outfits and extend an invitation to Chinese tourism businesses to participate in the next EXPOTUR trade show in early May, according to the statement from Casa Presidencial.Foreign Minister Manuel González said the new consulate will help expand the country’s image as a tourist destination and diversify the mix of countries that sent 2.4 million tourists to Costa Rica in 2013. Costa Rica’s travel sector was hard-hit by its strong dependence on U.S. tourists during the financial crisis of the late 2000s.Increasing purchasing power and fewer travel restrictions have made Chinese travelers one of the most coveted demographics for tourist destinations. China has become the world’s largest source of international tourists, who spent $129 billion on travel in 2013, according to the World Tourism Organization. But Costa Rica has yet to tap into this market. In 2014, only 6,734 Chinese tourists flew into Juan Santamaría International Airport, according to figures from the Immigration Administration.Chinese tourists require visas prior to their arrival in Costa Rica, but this process is less intensive now than in years past, said Andrea Quesada, press spokeswoman at the Immigration Administration.U.S. tourists have long endured (or contributed to) the “ugly American” stereotype with tales of bad behavior abroad, but the newly affluent Chinese travelers are starting to develop their own notoriety. Chinese state-run media branded four unruly air passengers “barbarians” after they scalded an air hostess and threatened to blow up a plane last month, in the latest embarrassment by some of the country’s travelers. The National Tourism Administration vowed to “punish” the group after a low-cost flight from Thailand to the eastern city of Nanjing was forced to return to Bangkok when a female Chinese passenger threw hot water and noodles at a cabin attendant.Vice-Premier Wang Yang said that poor behavior from Chinese tourists was giving the country a bad name, and that “the quality and breeding of some tourists are not high yet.” The vice-premier listed talking loudly in public places, jay-walking, spitting and carving the characters of their name in scenic places among the offenses, the AFP reported in the South China Morning Post.Only time will tell if Chinese tourists jive with pura vida.AFP contributed to this report. Facebook Comments Related posts:Madrid goalie Keylor Navas named Costa Rica tourism ambassador Costa Rica’s relationship with Nicaragua is complicated, says Solís President Solís calls for more trade, not just handouts from China Costa Rica’s lack of safety regulations comes into view after death of 6 tourists in January
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — After the final bell had rung, Floyd Mayweather jumped on the ropes and defiantly barked to the crowd. He knew he’d won the bout, but everyone else needed judges’ confirmation. Moments later, the scorecards made it official: Mayweather’s perfect record would remain intact, the best fighter of his generation had finally received the confirmation so many had demanded, andManny Pacquiao, the passionate boxer from the Philippines, would head home with a disappointing loss.The welterweight bout appeared close throughout and neither fighter offered many surprises. Mayweather was at his defensive best, and Pacquiao kept firing until he heard a bell ring. Judge Glenn Feldman scored the bout 116-112, Bert Clements had it 116-112 and Dave Moretti saw it 118-110.It was the biggest event boxing has staged in years, generating huge hype around the world, surely shattering records for live gate and pay-per-view buys and filling the MGM Grand Garden Arena with a who’s who of celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady and so many others. It will go down as the richest bout in the sport’s history, though hardly the most exciting.The showdown was six agonizing years in the making, as both sides bickered over terms and at times the boxing world seemed certain the two might never square off. Fans were forced to wait even longer Saturday night, as cable services nation-wide were overwhelmed with pay-per-view orders. Promoters delayed the start of the fight and the opening bell didn’t ring until 11:58 p.m. EDT.“When the history book is written, it was worth the wait,” Mayweather said. Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Manny Pacquiao fight in a welterweight unification bout on May 2, 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Frederic J. Brown/AFPPacquiao was in good spirits in the hours before stepping into the ring. He was with more than 50 family members and friends back at the hotel, dining on steamed fish and white rice while chatting with several pastors. They had a spirited discussion about one of the first documented fights: David vs. Goliath. Pacquiao left the hotel, arrived at the MGM Grand shortly after 6 p.m. local time and four hours later confronted a giant of his own.Pacquiao was active much of the night and pushing Mayweather to the ropes, the likely game plan for both fighters. As he does better than anyone, Mayweather constantly baited his foe, using his speed to fire laser-quick counters.“I think I won the fight,” Pacquiao said. “He didn’t do nothing.”While he was throwing a lot of punches, they weren’t always landing cleanly. At one point, Mayweather (48-0) made a show of shaking his heading “no,” telling Pacquiao that his punches were being blocked and doing no damage. The two fighters threw about the same number of punches — 435 for Mayweather and 429 for Pacquiao. But Mayweather landed 148 to Pacquiao’s 81.Still, the Filipino fighter appeared to be enjoying himself. After a late flurry in Round 3, Mayweather stared down Pacquiao after the bell. Pacquiao responded with a smile that stretched from one corner of the ring to the other.Pacquiao unleashed his first real flurry midway through the fourth, punctuating a string of blocked shots with a hard left that landed cleanly on Mayweather’s face. In his corner, Mayweather’s trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., was barking at his son to be more aggressive.By the late rounds, Mayweather looked more comfortable, dancing around the perimeter, dictating the fight more on his terms. They settled into a fight-night two-step: Pacquiao would charge, Mayweather would counter. A fan reacts after watching boxer Manny Pacquiao lose to Floyd Mayweather, on a live telecast of the welterweight unification bout at a plaza in Marikina City, in suburban Manila, Philippines, on May 3, 2015. Ted Aljibe/AFPThe loss, meanwhile, was Pacquiao’s third in his past six outings. His record falls to 57-6-2. The Filipino fighter entered the ring with the hopes of an entire nation on his shoulders, and inside the arena, too, the crowd was loud and raucous in its Pacquiao support, particularly in the early rounds. Mayweather managed to silence them nearly every round.The bout was a clinic in the so-called sweet science. Even at 38, Mayweather showed why he’s one of the best defensive fighters the sport has seen. He blocked, ducked and clutched, baiting Pacquiao and using his reach advantage to counter with snappy jabs.The methodical bout might not go down as one of the sport’s classic fights, but the win will go a long way to defining Mayweather’s legacy. He kept the perfect record intact, but more importantly, after years of stalling and bickering over negotiations, he finally vanquished the only other fighter who could challenge him in either popularity or boxing skill. Mayweather had posted wins over the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton and Zab Judah, but until Saturday his résumé was noteworthy for what was missing: Pacquaio’s name. Floyd Mayweather Jr. celebrates after defeating Manny Pacquiao. John Gurzinski/AFPMayweather, of course, already considered himself a part of boxing royalty, calling himself TBE — “the best ever” — and saying he’s as important as Ali. And that was before beating Pacquiao. Mayweather long ago made a name for himself as the sport’s resident peacock, undisputed and undefeated when it comes to bluster, confidence and ego. But he was refreshingly subdued in the weeks leading up to the Pacquiao bout, saying he’d matured and was content to let his unmatched boxing ability do the talking.Still, when critics debate Mayweather’s place among the all-time greats, they’ll still note that he often faced his toughest competitors once they were past their prime. Pacquiao, for example, is 36 and showed again Saturday night that he’s not quite the same explosive fighter who posted thrilling wins over Cotto, Hatton and De La Hoya a half-dozen years ago.Imperfect outside the ring — a series of domestic violence charges and accusations have made him pariah to many — Mayweather remains perfect inside it. The strong betting favorite entering the fight, he already held the WBA and WBC welterweight belts and left the arena Saturday night with Pacquiao’s WBO title, too.The big win could mark one of the last times Mayweather sets foot in the ring. He has one fight remaining on his deal with Showtime and says he’s inclined to hang up his gloves after fulfilling his contract with a bout in September. Mayweather hasn’t mentioned any potential opponents for that date. Before either fighter entered the ring Saturday night, both camps seemed to think a rematch was unlikely. Related posts:TV exec made Mayweather-Pacquiao bout possible Boxing: Nicaragua’s ‘Chocolatito’ González, from garbage collector to flyweight champ Costa Rica’s world boxing champions win fights on the same night FIFA reform taskforce meets for first time #TheMoneyTeam— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) May 3, 2015 Then again, for years it seemed like meeting just once was also unlikely — until the money became too much to ignore. Revenues from Saturday’s fight were expected to reach $300 million, and Mayweather alone could pocket as much as $200 million for 12 rounds of work.While fans around the world paid $100 apiece to watch on pay-per-view, the inside of the MGM Grand Garden Arena was largely high rollers. The tickets carried a face value of $1,500-$10,000 but sold for much more on the secondary market.© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Comments
Heavy rains over the weekend stopped momentarily toreveal extensive flood damage across Costa Rica’s Caribbean slope. As aid workers and security personnel worked to reestablish connections with isolated communities, President Luis Guillermo Solís said he would consider declaring a national emergency in Limón.Hundreds of people lost their homes and the government canceled classes for students across the province of Limón, and the areas around Turrialba and Sarapiquí, according to a statement from Casa Presidencial. A red alert is still in effect for Turrialba, Cartago; Sarapiquí, Heredia; and Talamanca, Limón, Matina, Pococí, Siquierres, Guácimo in Limón province.Reports from the National Emergency Commission said that 1,585 homes were heavily damaged or destroyed by flooding. There are 745 people living in 12 emergency shelters with the majority in Matina, Limón and Sarapiquí, Heredia, where 380 and 342 people are temporarily housed, respectively.Casa Presidencial reported that 216 communities have been affected by flooding so far; 19 remain incomunicado along the Sucio, Sarapiquí and San Juan rivers.A helicopter from Panama arrived Monday to assist in search and rescue, and survey operations after flooding and landslides severed access between Limón and the Central Valley. More than 20 highways and 11 bridges were affected.The government to date has released more than $200,000 in emergency assistance.The Education Ministry canceled classes from Monday through July 4 in Sarapaquí, Talamanca, Limón, Matina, Pococí, Siquirres, Guácimo, and Turrialba. The ministry is developing a plan for students to make up the lost time. The Panamanian government provided a helicopter to support search, rescue and survey operations in flooded parts of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast on June 29, 2015. (Courtesy Public Security Ministry)See also: Crews continue working to remove debris from Costa Rica’s Route 32, which remains closed on MondayFollow ticotimes.net for updated coverage of this story. Facebook Comments Related posts:PHOTOS: President Luis Guillermo Solís visits areas affected by floods in Costa Rica’s Limón province High tides flood hundreds of homes along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast High tides expected along Pacific coast this week Costa Rican capital hit by heavy rains, flash floods
Four of five presidential candidates who took part in a debate late last week said they would support breaking up the fuel monopoly held by the Costa Rican Oil Refinery (RECOPE).The Costa Rican Chamber of Industries (CICR) organized the debate on Thursday evening, which included Otto Guevara Guth of the Libertarian Movement, Antonio Álvarez Desanti of the National Liberation Party, Rodolfo Piza Rocafort of the Social Christian Unity Party, Mario Redondo Poveda of Christian Democratic Alliance and Carlos Alvarado Quesada of the ruling Citizen Action Party, the only candidate opposed to opening the fuel market.The candidates who agreed on the opening said consumers should not pay for financial perks for RECOPE employees, which the agency includes in its fuel price calculations.Alvarado, the lone voice against lifting the monopoly, said that people need to stop thinking about the past.“Instead of opening up the fuel monopoly, we need to take steps towards new technologies, such as electric transportation,” he said.Guevara noted that he was pleased that Álvarez, Piza and Redondo supported the idea of breaking RECOPE’s monopoly, which he described as “a libertarian idea, now being embraced by other parties.”AgreementsAside from their opinions about RECOPE, candidates agreed on most other economic issues, the focus of the debate moderated by former CNN journalist Alberto Padilla.All five of them agreed that they would support a boost in the use of natural gas and in the creation of an Energy Ministry.They also agreed with the idea of supporting more contracts between public and private-sector companies for the construction of public infrastructure projects, as well as measures to improve public finances — mostly by cutting public spending — and better hiring regulations for public workers.Some other parties have already confirmed their candidates for the 2018 presidential election. The CICR, however, indicated that it only invited candidates “who have shown support for the private sector’s contribution to the development of Costa Rica.” Facebook Comments Related posts:RECOPE opposes referendum that could break its fuel market monopoly Request to raise fuel prices provokes sharp criticism Ticos living abroad can now register online to vote in 2018 Presidential nominee Antonio Álvarez Desanti to step down as legislator
Associated PressKINSHASA, Congo (AP) – A notorious ex-warlord who became a general in the Congolese army despite international war crimes charges is now being blamed for fomenting more unrest in Congo’s east and faces new charges of crimes against humanity.As Bosco Ntaganda’s loyalists started to split off from the military last month to form a new rebel group in the wilds of eastern Congo, he went into hiding and is accused of orchestrating the defection. Following the April mutiny, the fighters fled into the bush, where they regrouped and later issued a press release on the letterhead of the former CNDP, saying that they had launched a new rebel group, called the M23 _ for March 23, in reference to the date of the 2009 peace treaty. Like the former CNDP, the M23 is dominated by fighters from the Tutsi ethnicity. Ntaganda is Tutsi and according to ICC arrest warrant he is believed to be Rwandan.“Ntaganda is behind this new movement of mutinous soldiers, the M23, and the government can’t negotiate with these people,” said Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende.In a recent interview given to a local journalist in Swahili, however, Ntaganda maintained he “wasn’t involved in this uprising in the east.”The governor of North Kivu province, though, has accused him “of being the instigator of everything happening in Kivu.”Pressure has been mounting for Ntaganda’s arrest since the ICC recently convicted another Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga of using child soldiers, the first judgment in the court’s 10-year history.On Monday, the court added additional counts to Ntaganda’s indictment, accusing his forces of having “ethnically cleansed the areas by killing and raping civilians” back in 2002-2003. He already had been charged with using child soldiers for fighting in northeastern Congo from 2002 to 2003. Top Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates “Now more than ever is the time to arrest him. His recent desertion from the (Congolese military) has shown once again that he cannot be trusted; it is a renewed demonstration that power through violence only leads to more violence,” he said.Bosco Ntaganda had been a commander of the National Congress for the Defense of the People, the rebel group known by its French acronym, CNDP, whose fighters launched a rebellion in late 2008. As part of a 2009 peace deal, the fighters were integrated into the Congolese army. Ntaganda was then allowed to wear the stripes of a general in the Congolese military, despite repeated appeals by the International Criminal Court.Congo’s president had refused calls to hand over Ntaganda, arguing his cooperation was essential to keeping the peace in the troubled east of the country where numerous local militias and foreign rebels operate.Then in a marked turnaround last month, Congo’s president called for Ntaganda’s arrest though suggested Ntaganda may face trial before a Congolese court rather than abroad.Congo’s military believes Ntaganda is currently orchestrating the defection by the former CNDP rebels, charges both the fighters and Ntaganda deny. The mutinous soldiers have accused the government of failing to hold up its end of a March 23, 2009 peace accord, when the fighters agreed to be integrated into the Congolese army. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Comments Share Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Human rights groups say Ntaganda had long been living openly in eastern Congo, dining at restaurants and playing tennis despite an International Criminal Court arrest warrant on allegations he forced children to serve as soldiers. Now the Congolese government has vowed to arrest him and the ICC announced Monday it is expanding the charges against him.Ntaganda, though, is nowhere to be found. The ensuing violence from the defection of his supporters from the Congolese army has forced thousands to flee their homes.“Ntaganda and his men are on the run,” Congolese army spokesman Sylvain Ekenge said after authorities seized more than 20 tons of heavy weapons from a property Ntaganda owns.The International Criminal Court believes all of this would have been avoided had Ntaganda been detained years ago. He was first indicted on war crimes charges in 2006, a warrant that was unsealed two years later.“Bosco Ntaganda has used the time offered to him since the ICC arrest warrant was issued to move from Ituri to North Kivu, to expand his power on new territories, and to maintain a power base thanks to his crimes, and the violence of persons under his control,” the ICC prosecutor said Monday. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Ntaganda has vigorously denied all the allegations against him, and said in a 2010 interview with The Associated Press that he did not fear arrest on the ICC charges.“I don’t think that the U.N. is able to arrest me in Congo because they have arms that I also have and that can protect me when they try to arrest me,” he said. “If it is established that I committed crimes, I won’t hesitate to answer them to a court in my country. But I will never accept answering charges by the International Court.”___Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Check your body, save your life
Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Four benefits of having a wireless security system Top Stories Comments Share Sponsored Stories The vital role family plays in society Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said in a statement that he hopes Qatar and the UAE will review their decision because the situation in Lebanon does not require such steps.Tripoli has been relatively calm since Tuesday despite sporadic shootings.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) BEIRUT (AP) – The Gulf states of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have called on their citizens not to go to Lebanon and for those who are there to leave.Saturday’s call by the two countries’ foreign ministries came days after clashes between pro- and anti-Syrian groups in the northern city of Tripoli left eight people and dozens wounded.Both countries said in statements posted on their state-run news agencies that the reason behind the decision was tension and instability in Lebanon.
How men can have a healthy 2019 Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice Top Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates MADRID (AP) – Spanish energy firm Repsol is selling a Chilean natural gas unit for $540 million in cash and will use $317 million of the proceeds to pay off debt.Repsol SA says in a statement Wednesday that it is selling Repsol Butano Chile to a consortium of Chilean investors.Repsol Butano Chile holds a 45 percent stake in the Lipigas natural gas firm, a major player in sales of bottled gas used by residences and business. Repsol says Lipigas controls 38 percent of Chile’s bottled natural gas market. It has 1,000 distributors. Bottled natural gas is used widely throughout Latin America. Comments Share More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements The company says the deal will generate a net capital gain of $170 million.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family How do cataracts affect your vision?
Associated PressALEPPO, Syria (AP) – It had been a calm day in Aleppo’s Shifa Hospital, said Dr. Osman al-Haj Osman, his face etched with exhaustion from just three hours of sleep. Then, a man burst in bearing the shrieking bundle of a 6-year-old girl who’d had a machine-gun bullet rip through both her knees.Two months into the battle for Syria’s largest city, civilians are still bearing the brunt of the daily assaults of helicopter gunships, roaring jets and troops fighting in the streets. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have been increasingly relying on the government’s artillery and air power to fight the tenacious rebels who so far refuse to be dislodged from Aleppo.The city is Syria’s commercial hub, and its middle and upper classes were bastions of support for Assad. If the rebels took such a key city, it would give them a quasi-capital to complement the large swaths of territory they control in the north, up to the Turkish border.Osman said the rebels he treats mostly have gunshot wounds from the ubiquitous snipers scattered over the many front lines.The hospital itself has been hit directly twice by shells, demolishing two of the upper floors. Bombs fell nearby several times, spraying the entrance with shrapnel and debris.The hospital has a staff of only five doctors and no surgeons, so difficult cases are often farmed out to other facilities, including a hospital in the town of al-Bab, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) to the northeast.While there are enough drugs in the hospital so far to deal with the daily violence _ which on Monday killed 25 and wounded dozens in shelling believed to be in retaliation for the rebel capture of an army barracks _ the staff is overstretched. Top Stories “What day is it? I don’t know. What time is it? I don’t know,” Osman said, adding that he goes to sleep at 4 a.m. and wakes up at 8 a.m. _ unless he’s roused earlier for an emergency.“My life is just the wounded and the dead,” he said.Outside the hospital, in the surprisingly bustling neighborhood of Tareeq al-Bab, there is the sound of gunfire. A helicopter gunship is lazily circling the neighborhood and rebels on the roofs of the apartment buildings are futilely emptying the clips of their inadequate Kalashnikovs into the sky.Abu Hassan, who was once a carpenter, sells vegetables on the street facing the hospital because there is no other work. He navigates the tortuous jigsaw of rebel- and government-controlled neighborhoods every day.“When we are under bombardment, the water and electricity can be cut for days,” he said, explaining that if he had the money, he would try to follow the hundreds of thousands of other Syrians who have fled for the border. Since the uprising against Assad began 18 months ago, activists estimate that at least 23,000 people have been killed.The streets between the shattered apartment buildings are choked with garbage that can no longer be collected. Top holiday drink recipes Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement ErrorOK ErrorOK Comments Share Shoving aside the orderlies and armed rebels milling around the cramped lobby Tuesday afternoon, the man deposited Fatima Qassem onto a gurney as a nurse swooped in and began cutting away the blood-soaked bandages on her knees.A doctor reached in and pulled out an inch-long fragment of metal. There was a gush of blood. Large sections of bone and muscle were missing from the back of her knee.She cried out plaintively for “Baba,” because the man who brought her was not her father _ just someone who had rushed her across town to the hospital. The family was hopefully on its way.There was a piercing scream as the nurse picked her up again, jostling her awkwardly dangling legs and carrying her around a narrow corner into a small operating theater. Her cries subsided into a steady moan.Her father, Abdu Qassem, came in 15 minutes later, his shirt covered with blood, probably from carrying his daughter out of the car, and frantically asked the orderly behind the desk how she was doing.Qassem said they had been driving through a neighborhood when their car was raked by machine-gun fire from government troops.In the operating room, Fatima’s crying grew muffled as an anesthetic was administered and her mouth went slack. Osman cleaned the blood away from the wound and tried to find a way to repair the damage. Although meat is scarce, residents of Aleppo are eating adequately, said Alaa Mursi, gesturing at the eggs, chickpeas, tomatoes and other produce being sold. Many, however, are surviving on handouts.“People give us food to eat,” he said. “There are rich people who distribute food for us.”Just a few blocks away is the neighborhood of Hanano, on the city’s edge, where the rebels began their assault two months ago. The streets are largely deserted because most residents were recent immigrants who could flee to relatives in the comparative safety of the countryside.A few men lounge in the shade of a scraggly tree in the otherwise grim vista of cheaply built concrete five-story buildings.Overhead is the whirring noise of a jet’s engines _ a mundane sound in the West that can mean sudden, inexplicable and random death in Aleppo.“We are afraid to stay in the houses, so we hang out on the street,” said Abu Alaa, a jovial 30-year-old who hasn’t worked in months. “We sent our families to the countryside and we stay here to look after the place, in case of thieves.”The sound of the jet suddenly builds to a crescendo and there is a muffled crump, mercifully in the distance. Another airstrike. The men gesture in the direction of the explosion and say that just this morning, a bomb fell a block away, killing a woman. “We can’t sleep here during the night or day,” said Abu Abed, who looks much older than his 40 years. “In the morning, it’s the jets. In the afternoon, it’s the helicopters. And at night, it’s the shelling.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Just a few feet away from the commotion, on the next bed, a nurse calmly bandaged the hand of a stone-faced rebel who was oblivious to the stricken child nearby.A tiny boy walked in and stared with curiosity at the blood and ruin of Fatima’s legs before a nurse suddenly saw him and ushered him out. It was Osman’s 4-year-old son, Omar.When Osman started pulling all-day and all-night shifts during Syria’s civil war, his wife and two children moved into the hospital so that he would actually get to see them.“He plays between the wounded. It’s a great upbringing,” Osman joked in the few calm moments before another patient was carried in. He spoke in English _ a language he said he learned from watching the Fox Movie Channel on satellite TV. Perhaps another joke.The 30-year-old doctor estimated that 80 percent of the patients are civilians, wounded by falling buildings and exploding shells from the constant bombardment that government forces mete out to the parts of the city outside their control.On Tuesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported shelling in several areas across Aleppo that killed more than a dozen and collapsed a three- story building in the nearby neighborhood of Haideriya. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches