Russian parliaments upper house OKs protest bill

first_imgAssociated PressMOSCOW (AP) – The upper chamber of Russia’s parliament on Wednesday approved a bill that raises fines 150-fold for people taking part in unsanctioned rallies. The legislation, which passed in the lower chamber only after unprecedented debate, now needs only President Vladimir Putin’s signature to become law.The measure has been seen as the Kremlin’s harsh response to a series of street protests against Putin’s 12-year rule and is part of a broader crackdown on the opposition since he returned to the presidency in May. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements The Federation Council voted 132-1 to support the bill after a short debate. The only vote against came from the mother of Ilya Ponomarev, an opposition lawmaker in the lower chamber who has joined the protest movement.On Tuesday, members of the lower chamber debated the bill for some 11 hours before the Kremlin’s United Russia party rammed it through at midnight. The opposition factions in the State Duma had put forward several hundred amendments in an unprecedented attempt to stymie the bill’s passage, reflecting a new willingness to stand up to the Kremlin.The bill would jack up fines from the current 2,000 rubles to 300,000 rubles ($9,000).Sergei Lisovsky, one of the few upper chamber members to express concern about the bill, said it imposes disproportionally high fines on protesters but does not provide for higher penalties for police brutality.“We’re talking about citizens of our country here, and we must listen to them,” said Lisovsky. “Where is the liability for the police who can potentially do more harm to our society?”The Kremlin wants the new bill to become law by next Tuesday when the opposition plans a major protest in Moscow. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top Stories Sponsored Stories How men can have a healthy 2019center_img Alexei Kudrin, a former deputy prime minister who expressed sympathy with the opposition movement last winter, said in a statement on Wednesday that the bill violates the constitutional right of assembly. He urged a review.Along with higher fines, the new bill would punish organizers of “large-scale public gatherings” if they disrupt public order. Kudrin, who is believed to maintain strong ties to Putin, said that this provision was so open to interpretation that it would allow authorities to fine a bride and groom if some of their guests started a fight.Opposition activists have not yet received official permission for Tuesday’s planned protest.Rally organizer Alexei Navalny, a key opposition figure, said in his blog on Wednesday that Moscow authorities have rejected their proposal to march on the central Tverskaya street. City Hall claimed that the street as well as many other central locations would be booked for Russia Day, a national holiday.Navalny said that Moscow authorities and police “are doing their best to provoke a conflict” by rejecting the rally application. Navalny said that the opposition would agree to any location inside the central Garden Ring road, but he said that with or without permission the rally would go ahead. Comments   Share   (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

Ecuadors freepress watchdog under assault

first_imgAssociated PressQUITO, Ecuador (AP) – Not all journalists are created equal in the eyes of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.To the leftist leader, Australian-born Julian Assange is a truth-teller who deserves praise and protection as he knocks down the walls of government secrets. Correa has even offered asylum to the founder of the website Wikileaks and sheltered him for the past month inside Ecuador’s Embassy in London from arrest on sex crime allegations. Ricaurte said he gets continual threats via email and sarcastic comments posted on his website demanding a share of his alleged “million-dollar” U.S. Embassy payments.Those threats led to fears of violence against him in June while he was waiting for a cab in Quito and was pushed violently from behind by a man who screamed: “U.S. Embassy informant! Traitor!” By the time he recovered his balance and reached for his cellphone to take a photograph, the man was gone.Ricaurte said the special broadcasts Correa uses to denounce him are abusive. Other Latin American leftist leaders, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, have employed such broadcasts during crises. President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina uses them several times every week.Ricaurte criticized Correa’ successful criminal libel suit last year against the main opposition newspaper, El Universo, and three of its top journalists, including columnist Emilio Palacio, who repeatedly called him a dictator. Correa later forgave the paper the $42 million damages award and pardoned the journalists, but he’d made his point. Palacio was granted U.S. political asylum last week.Now, a proposed Radio and Television Law would partition Ecuador’s radio and TV broadcast spectrum into three: one-third for the state, one-third for “community media” and one-third for private companies. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “An independent press doesn’t exist, not from the state-government media and not from the private media because the private media have always had what we call a double dependency: political and economic power,” said Cerbino.Press freedom advocates such as the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists believe that restrictions on the press in Ecuador will soon resemble those in Venezuela.The press committee’s Americas director, Carlos Lauria, said that while other popularly elected leftist-run governments have also shown intolerance, Ecuador and Venezuela are most “notorious” in “suffocating the institutions of democracy, including the press, in an attempt to control the flow of information and suppress dissent.”So far this year, the Correa government has shut down 20 TV and radio stations, most of them small and provincial, for alleged administrative transgressions. Eight were opposition stations.Correa has repeatedly accused Ricaurte of working for the American government. While his foundation gets 15 percent of its funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, it also receives funding from donors including the U.N. agency UNESCO, the nongovernmental Panamerican Development Foundation and the Andean Community of Nations trade grouping. Journalist Cesar Ricaurte, however, is another story for the 49-year-old president.Correa has been fighting a running battle with Ricaurte, head of the country’s main press freedom organization Fundamedios, and calling him a tool of the opposition media and the U.S. government.Just this year, the president has used nine special government broadcasts to pre-empt all regularly scheduled TV programming to condemn Ricaurte. His alleged crime? Telling the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that Correa is a bully who tries to silence journalists he dislikes.That disparate treatment points to what critics say is Correa’s hypocrisy when it comes to press freedoms in this tiny South American country. But Correa’s views on freedom of speech have far surpassed the country’s borders as he allies with Assange in the face of U.S. and European pressure.Assange’s publishing of U.S. diplomatic cables delighted Correa by fortifying his claim that Washington continues to behave imperiously in the Americas. “Your WikiLeaks have made us stronger,” Correa told Assange in May when the Australian ex-hacker interviewed the president for his Kremlin-funded TV program. “Welcome to the club of the persecuted.” Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories In announcing the asylum in August, Ecuador said it had grounds to believe that Assange faced political persecution for publishing a quarter-million cables and thousands of other sensitive U.S. documents.Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning. His supporters claim the intention is to ship him to the United States to face trial.“We haven’t said that everything that Assange has done, at least I haven’t said it, has been in favor of free expression,” Correa said recently. “He could have committed an infraction. But he should be judged with due process.”But when it comes to Ricaurte and Ecuador’s opposition media, Correa says too many journalists serve special interests and have immense, unchecked power.Correa’s press secretary, Fernando Alvarado, did not make himself available for an AP interview despite numerous requests. Alvardo has repeatedly accused journalists of being political and in June said government ministers should talk only to state-owned domestic media.“Forget the vision of evil politicians persecuting heroic journalists, who defend freedom of expression with their lives,” Correa recently told a group of international journalists based in Ecuador. “More often, it is honest politicians persecuted by media and corrupt journalists.” While Correa champions Assange’s right to publish another government’s secrets, his government has taken steps to make it less likely that will happen in Ecuador, in part through several laws recently passed by the ruling party-controlled National Assembly.They include the Law of Citizen Participation, which converts freedom of the press from a human right into a state-regulated public service. An anti-monopoly law severely restricts investment in news media, and prevents media owners from holding a financial stake in other industries. A new so-called “Democracy Code” prohibits “biased” reporting of election campaigns and allows candidates to sue reporters who allegedly violate the law.Ricaurte, who was honored in August by the Inter-American Press Association with its top press freedom prize, says the Democracy Code will make coverage of elections impossible. Presidential elections are scheduled for February, but Correa has not said whether he will run again.Mauro Cerbino, a professor at the FLACSO university in Quito, said that Latin America’s leftist governments aren’t the only ones to blame for curbs on the region’s press freedoms. Many news media around the region represent vested interests and often distort the truth for political ends, he said. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectcenter_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix ErrorOK ErrorOK Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Venezuela already has such an arrangement, with the “community media” almost exclusively pro-government.Argentina’s Fernandez hasn’t gone that far. But a friendly Congress did enact a law designed to break up media monopolies, and journalists for Argentina’s opposition media have been roughed up by pro-government demonstrators.“Freedom of expression is very much threatened and as time goes on it is deteriorating even more rapidly,” Ricaurte said.___Associated Press writers Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru, Michael Warren in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jorge Rueda in Caracas, Venezuela, and Carlos Valdez in La Paz, Bolivia, contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Top Stories 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

FBI hair analysis problems reveal limits of forensic science

first_img Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of WASHINGTON (AP) — Kirk Odom was convicted of a 1981 rape and robbery after a woman identified him as her attacker and an FBI specialist testified that hair on her nightgown was similar to hair on Odom’s head.But DNA testing some 30 years later affirmed what Odom long had maintained: The hair wasn’t his; neither was the semen left on a pillowcase and robe. A felony conviction that imprisoned him for decades was overturned in 2012 by a judge who declared it a “grave miscarriage of justice.” “I was hoping that I was going to go home that day,” Odom, recalling his trial in Washington, D.C., said in an interview. Instead, “they sentenced me to 20 to 66 years in prison.”His experience is but one example of flawed forensic science from the pre-DNA era, a simmering problem that now appears far more widespread than initially thought. The Innocence Project, which works to exonerate the wrongly accused, has identified 74 overturned convictions in which faulty hair evidence was a factor. Now, a new disclosure by the FBI that experts gave erroneous testimony on hair analysis in more than 250 trials before 2000 suggests that number could rise dramatically.Defense lawyers say the latest revelations — on top of established concerns about bite mark identification and arson science — confirm fears about the shortcomings of old-fashioned forensic techniques and could affect thousands of cases. Advancing technologies have put such techniques under more scrutiny, including from judges, and highlighted the limits of once-established practices.“There are forces converging at the moment that are finally bringing some recognition to the failings of many venerable techniques,” said Chris Fabricant, director of strategic litigation at the Innocence Project. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes The FBI still considers microscopic hair analysis valid, but has also acknowledged its scientific limitations and uses it now in conjunction with more scientifically reliable DNA testing.The Justice Department in 2012 embarked on a review of criminal cases following high-profile exonerations in which microscopic hair analysis was used. The government has identified nearly 3,000 cases in which FBI examiners submitted reports or may have testified in trials involving hair analysis.The government provided an astonishing update last month when it revealed that of the 268 trials reviewed as of mid-March, investigators found erroneous statements from FBI experts in nearly all of the cases — including in death-penalty prosecutions. The review is limited to cases dating before 2000 in which FBI examiners provided evidence. But the number of affected cases would almost certainly be much higher if the review took into account cases involving state examiners who were trained by the FBI.Still, no one knows how many defendants have been wrongly convicted because the existence of flawed testimony — often just one element of a prosecution — does not establish innocence.“What it does mean is that those cases need to be looked at very closely to see what role hair played in the case,” said Norman Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 0 Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Check your body, save your life A 2013 Associated Press investigation concluded that at least 24 men convicted or charged with murder or rape based on bite-mark evidence — the practice of matching teeth to a flesh wound — were exonerated since 2000. Meanwhile, some high-profile criminal cases involving arson science have come under renewed scrutiny amid debunked fire investigations. Last year, a Pennsylvania judge threw out the conviction of a Korean immigrant who had spent 24 years in prison for his daughter’s death.When subjective speculation is injected into a trial under the guise of science, “then a real perversion of justice is what happens,” Fabricant said.Microscopic hair analysis, which involves comparing hair specimens through a microscope, has for decades been an established FBI practice and passed along at seminars to hundreds of state-level examiners.But critics say the technique lacks objective standards, with limitations that have led experts to overstate its evidentiary value too often.Though this kind of evidence may be used to include or exclude individuals who could be a potential source of hair, critics note that there’s no way to conclusively know how common or rare the specimen is because no national database of hair specimens exists. A 2009 report from the National Academy of Sciences described as “highly unreliable” testimony purporting to identify a particular defendant through hair analysis. Advocates say they are working to ensure that individuals potentially affected have opportunities to challenge their convictions. They’ve also encouraged states to do their own audits because most of the prosecutions were local cases. The Justice Department has said it will waive procedural objections, including statute-of-limitations claims, in federal cases.Odom, 52, always maintained his innocence, saying he was home asleep at the time the assault occurred. But the hair evidence and eyewitness identification proved persuasive, and Odom spent more than 20 years in prison before being released on parole in 2003.The big break came when the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, which has focused attention on the flawed science and ultimately established Odom’s innocence, reopened his case following the earlier exoneration of another local man because of faulty hair evidence.DNA testing on evidence pulled from storage showed that the hair on the woman’s garment could not have come from Odom. The conviction was thrown out — a relief for a man who had been a registered sex offender and whose travel had been hampered.When the call came that he’d been cleared, Odom was on a nighttime plumbing job, “and I just yelled out in happiness. It was a very joyful moment.” Top Stories In this photo taken April 30, 2015, Kirk Odom speaks to The Associated Press at his home in southeast in Washington, Thursday, April 30, 2015. Odom was convicted of a 1981 rape and robbery after a woman identified him as her attacker and an FBI specialist testified that hair on her nightgown was consistent with hair on Odom’s head. But DNA testing some 30 years later affirmed what Odom long had maintained: The hair wasn’t his, nor was the semen left on a pillowcase and robe. A felony conviction that imprisoned him for decades was overturned in 2012 by a judge who declared it a “grave miscarriage of justice.” (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility ___Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAPCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

FDA Inadequate cleaning testing at Ohio ice cream plant

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The Food and Drug Administration released the results of its investigation after a Freedom of Information request from The Associated Press. The report says Jeni’s managers did not have an adequate sampling and testing program and were not sufficiently sanitizing some surfaces, including the floors.Listeria can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Top Stories Top holiday drink recipes Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility WASHINGTON (AP) — A government investigation of Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams says there was inadequate testing and cleaning in its Columbus plant before listeria was found in some of its ice cream.The ice cream company recalled all of its products last month. There are no illnesses connected to the recall, and Jeni’s says it is making ice cream again and re-opening shops Friday after intensive cleaning.center_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Austrian police arrest 3 for smuggling people into US

first_imgVIENNA (AP) — Austrian police have detained three suspects for allegedly smuggling people onto flights bound for the United States or Britain.State Prosecutor Friedrich Koehl says investigations focus on at least 11 cases between last fall and February.The suspects worked for a private security company hired by Austrian Airlines and were in charge of controlling passports and tickets.Koehl said Tuesday that their acquaintances would purchase tickets, go to the departure gate and then give their boarding passes to those being smuggled. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories He says investigations began after a person traveling illegally was returned to Austria from the U.S., and someone asked by the smugglers to cooperate in the scheme by buying a ticket went to the police.The suspects were not identified in keeping with Austrian confidentiality laws.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Ethiopia Partial results show ruling coalition in huge win

first_img Sponsored Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona 0 Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Men’s health affects baby’s health too The ruling coalition won all 23 parliamentary seats from the capital, Addis Ababa, according to the tally by Ethiopia’s election commission.Final results are expected on June 22.The European Union said the elections were orderly but unfair.“Arrests of journalists and opposition politicians, closure of a number of media outlets and obstacles faced by the opposition in conducting its campaign have limited the space for open debate and had a negative impact on the overall electoral environment,” the European Union said in a statement.Similar concerns were raised by the United States. The State Department said the U.S. “remains deeply concerned by continued restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views.”It also said U.S. diplomats were denied accreditation as election observers.In 2010, Ethiopia’s ruling coalition won 99.6 percent of all parliamentary seats in a sweeping victory that human rights groups said was the result of a state campaign to quell dissent. Only one opposition lawmaker made it to parliament in that election.Some opposition leaders have alleged their members were harassed and beaten while trying to vote on May 24. The government denied the charges. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has led the country since 2012.Ethiopia’s economy has grown at an average of 11 percent over the last decade, more than double the rate for sub-Saharan Africa, according to United Nations figures. The growth is fueled in part by huge public expenditure on energy and infrastructure projects that attract private investment.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s ruling coalition won a sweeping victory in parliamentary elections, according to partial results released Wednesday. Western countries said the vote was peaceful but criticized what they described as restrictions on civil liberties.Early results from the vote Sunday showed the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front winning at least 442 seats in the 547-seat federal parliament. Top Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

Taiwan stands up to China with World War II military parade

first_img Sponsored Stories Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall After losing the civil war, the Nationalists rebased in Taiwan in the late 1940s, and their constitutional Republic of China government has governed the western Pacific island since then.China’s Communists also claim sovereignty over Taiwan and insist that the two sides eventually reunify, though opinion polls on the island show most Taiwanese prefer self-rule.Taiwan’s effort to cast the war in its favor comes as it seeks to avoid being eclipsed internationally by China, which has eight times more diplomatic allies.“It’s because the rest of the world is ignoring the Republic of China, so they want their contribution to be well recognized,” said Kweibo Huang, associate professor of diplomacy at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “At least there’s a domestic outcome, which is that everyone in Taiwan shares awareness as a nation or a sovereign state.”China will offer a three-day public holiday in September to mark the war anniversary, and the official Xinhua news agency says the government will hold its first World War II memorial parade that month.Beijing had invited Taiwan representatives, but the island government said in April that officials would be banned by law and that any private citizens should attend with caution. Comments   Share   TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan marched out thousands of troops and displayed its most modern military hardware Saturday to spotlight an old but often forgotten claim that its forces, not the Chinese Communists, led the campaign that routed imperial Japan from China 70 years ago.The military staged an unusually large two-hour parade of homegrown missiles, Apache attack helicopters and a mountain bike team designed for stealth missions, followed by awards for aged World War II veterans in their attire from the 1940s.center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies China and Taiwan split during civil war in 1949 and today’s China — more militarily and economically powerful than Taiwan — claims that the Chinese Communists had directed the resistance against the Japanese. Mainland officials have argued that the Communists’ advice and fighting skills were crucial to the victory.Taiwan’s Nationalist Party ruled all of China when Japan invaded parts of the country from 1931, forming a central stage of the Asian World War II theater. In one attack, the Japanese massacred between 40,000 and 300,000 Chinese in what has become known as the Nanjing Massacre.Officials in Taiwan say that the Communist forces had a minor role in fighting the Japanese alongside the Republic of China troops, and that during China’s eight-year resistance against Japan they were mainly building up their own ranks and fighting a civil war they would eventually win.“The war of resistance was led by the Republic of China and Chairman Chiang Kai-shek was the force behind it,” Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said in a speech after the parade, referring to the old Nationalist government’s strongman. “No one is allowed to distort that.” Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories last_img read more

Virgin Jetstar and Tiger battle it out in the Gold Coast

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/214a8/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=132&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=ada84479″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Virgin Blue, Jetstar and Tiger Airways are battling it out to become the Gold Coast’s major domestic airline.Each carrier is currently dominating a specific route out of the Gold Coast — Virgin claims the Sydney route, Tiger Airways has the numbers in Adelaide and Jetstar is ahead for Melbourne travellers. Tiger Airways have announced daily flights between the Gold Coast and Sydney, effective from December 15, to gain an increased market share.  Virgin Blue and Jetstar both revealed that they were also looking at opportunities to increase market share out of the Gold Coast because it was a ‘key port’.Tourism Queensland projections show Tiger Airways is just ahead of Jetstar on the Adelaide route — capturing 39 per cent of the market by offering 1260 seats in its daily service. Jetstar offers 1239 seats a week on this route, while Virgin Blue lags with just 742 seats a week on its daily service.The route to Sydney is dominated by Virgin Blue with 52 per cent in its 13,140 seat capacity on 80 flights a week. This trumps Jetstar’s 43 per cent (10,668 seats on 56 flights). Tiger’s new daily service will offer 1260 seats.Jetstar wins the Gold Coast to Melbourne route with a 47 per cent share (8658 seats) ahead of Virgin Blue (5904 from 35 weekly flights) and Tiger (3780 from 21 flights).last_img read more

World Travel Award nomination goes to FCm Travel

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X Flight Centre’s corporate arm FCm Travel has just been nominated for not one, but two World Travel Awards under the Australasia sub-region.The awards in contention are ‘Australasia’s leading business travel agent’ and ‘Australia’s leading business travel agent’, and winners will be revealed at a gala event in New Delhi on the 14th of November.“We’ll be keeping a close eye on the results, which no doubt will be hotly contested in both categories,” said Rob Flint, FCm Travel Executive GM Asia.“Testament to our success is the fact that FCm’s operations across the Asia region are expected to be one of the biggest drivers of growth for our company worldwide.”The official online voting form is available to 183,000 registered travel agents and professionals worldwide through the World Travel Awards website. <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/1ecd5/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

Promising tourism outlook profits Thai Airways International

first_img<a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/20084/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A Thai Airways International’ shares gained almost four per cent following the news of forecasted growth in Thailand’s visitor arrivals.As Thailand returns to normalcy after months of anti-government demonstrations, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) upgraded its 2011 visitor arrivals forecast to 15.5 million, adding Bt600 billion to the economy.As faith in Thailand’s recovering tourism industry returned over the past month, Thai Airways International’ shares gained more than 13 per cent, reported the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.However, in the absence of real political reform, investors run the risk of further civil unrest affecting the airline’s future share prices, said Reuters.“No one really knows when there’ll be attacks and gunfire in the streets again; people see more risk,” Aberdeen Asset Management Fund Manager Adithep Vanabriksha told the news service.”We could see some peace and quiet for a while and everything looks fine. But who can tell you what will happen in three, four or five months? There are more questions and concerns,” said Adithep, who manages $727 million in Thai assets.In June, Thai Airways International admitted that its second quarter revenue and cabin load factor would be hurt by the recent turmoil in Thailand.April’s cabin load factor was 72 per cent but this dropped to 56.8 per cent in May, Thai Airways International President Piyasvasti Amranand told reporters.Before the demonstrations began, the airline was aiming for a 2010 cabin factor of 75 per cent.Thai Airways International is due to announce their second quarter results in August.last_img read more

Civil union law set to boost LGBT travel to Hawaii

first_imgA new law legalizing civil unions in Hawaii is expected to lead to an upsurge in gay and lesbian travel to the state, meaning a windfall for the islands’ hotels, resorts and event planners. News of the legislation, which came into effect on January 1, has seen a spike in the number of hotels actively reaching out to the gay and lesbian community, as same-sex couples look to the state to formalize their relationships, according to The Maui News. Chuck Spence, owner of the Maui Sunseeker LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Resort in Kihei told the newspaper forward bookings at his property had risen by 50 per cent over the year before.”We’ve had 10 ceremonies booked so far,” he said.”Already we’ve also seen an immediate boost in bookings, and not just because of civil unions, but because the law also opens up the perception by the gay and lesbian community that Hawaii is truly a welcoming state.” Among the resorts looking to lure same-sex couples their way is the Grand Wailea, whose managing director Matt Bailey said that reaching out to gay and lesbian travelers not only made good business sense, but was also “the right thing to do”. “Maui has a nurturing and welcoming environment, with a small-town feel and open-mindedness to it,” he remarked. “I wish I could say it was all altruistic, but we’re not trying to make a political statement.”State Senator Roz Baker, who represents West and South Maui said she hoped the law would add to the appeal of Hawaii as a destination for couples.”The wedding business has always been good to Maui,” she commented.”Let’s face it, too, nowhere is the weather nicer in January, or are there as many beautiful places to visit year round, than in Hawaii.” Maui hopes to lure LGBT travelers to its sun-drenched shores (image Hawaii Tourism Authority) Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

Centara named as best hotel chain in Asia

first_imgSource = Centara Hotels & Resorts The summit, which brings together the leading hotel investors and operators and which is part of the Asia Hotel Forum, was held in Beijing in 2011. Attending the summit were hotel investors, owners and operators, investment and financing agencies, law firms, travel institutions, developers, and government representatives. The awards are selected by a panel of judges with the Best Chain Hotels Group being the top accolade. “The award represents not only the achievements of Centara Hotels & Resorts as a brand, but also the dedicated efforts of everyone who works for the company.” “We are especially proud to receive this award, as it reflects the opinion of our peers in the industry,” says Suthikiati Chirathivat, Chairman of the Board, Centara Hotels and Resorts.   Centara Hotels & Resorts is Thailand’s leading operator of hotels, with 38 deluxe and first-class properties covering all the major tourist destinations in the Kingdom.  A further 17 resorts in the Maldives, Philippines, Vietnam, Bali Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Mauritius Indian Ocean, brings the present total to 55 properties.  Brands and properties within Centara ensure that specific categories such as couples, families, individuals, and meetings and incentives groups will all find a hotel or resort that is appropriate to their needs.  Centara operates 25 branches of Spa Cenvaree, one of Thailand’s most luxurious and innovative spa brands, and the company’s Kids’ Club is available at all the family-friendly resorts to ensure that the youngsters and teens are taken care of. Centara Hotels & Resorts also operates two state-of-the-art convention centres in Bangkok, and one in Udon Thani in northeastern Thailand.last_img read more

Las Vegas holds trade show crown

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Local creativity on new and existing trade shows has helped Sin City maintain its lead as the number one travel show destination, according to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s Cynthia Guerrero.Speaking to e-Travel Blackboard at the destination’s Come Play showcase in Sydney last week, the Group’s sales executive explained that the city’s MICE appeal was based on its room inventory, venue space as well as its attraction supply.“We have the rooms to host, which is a benefit but it’s not only the room inventory, we have the venues – it’s a service that we can give,” she said.“As well, Las Vegas is great for attracting events because there’s so many things you can do – you can get caught up in gaming, attractions and shows.”Experiencing a 8.8 percent jump in convention attendance last year to up to 4.9 million, Ms Guerrero said the destination was always keen to build on its figures and was focusing on offering already established events a creative Las Vegas twist.“We try to see how we can do shows differently here – so we’ll bring international shows to the US,” she explained. “For example IMEX America is replicated but with a Vegas spin. “It’s like a hybrid project and it lets us get out there and think outside the box.”Ms Guerrero said she also expects the under construction viewing attraction, the Las Vegas High Roller to also play a role in drawing in convention attendance.Offering a view exceeds the height of the London Eye, the new attraction is expected to open by 2013 with pods holding up to 40 people. “It will revitalise the culture of the strip,” she concluded. Also speaking to e-Travel Blackboard last week, Nevada Commission on Tourism deputy director Larry Friedman said that the region’s EST was bringing in the travellers – particularly those eager to see Nevada’s quirkiest, loneliest and loveliest.last_img read more

Princess Cruises partners with Aussie chef

first_imgSource = Princess Cruises Princess Cruises today announced a new exclusive partnership with esteemed restaurateur, New York Times bestselling author and television personality Chef Curtis Stone.This collaboration will serve up new culinary offerings designed by Chef Stone, dedicated to fresh flavorful cuisine, ultimately creating memorable experiences as guests travel the world.Internationally known, Chef Stone began his cooking career at the age of 18 in his homeland of Australia and later honed his skills at Michelin-starred restaurants in London.Curtis is also a New York Times bestselling author, having written six cookbooks, his most recent Good Food, Good Life.Guests will be invited to enjoy three special offerings developed by Chef Stone, available only on a Princess cruise vacation, including:“Crafted by Curtis” menu items available in the main dining room across the entire fleetA new specialty restaurant concept and menu designed by Chef StoneA special Chef’s Table by Curtis Stone experience“Crafted by Curtis” menu items offered in the main dining rooms will debut aboard Golden Princess in the fall and roll out fleet-wide through the end of 2015.Chef Stone’s first restaurant at sea will debut in December aboard Emerald Princess, sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean and Ruby Princess, sailing from Los Angeles on cruises to Hawaii and Mexico.The rollout will continue on Coral Princess cruising the Panama Canal and then Sun Princess, which will bring Chef Stone’s restaurant to his home country, Australia.Curtis Stone’s Chef’s Table experience will debut across the fleet beginning in early 2016.“We take tremendous pride in preparing and serving our guests freshly made dishes served with passion and care,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president.“This partnership will appeal to Princess guests around the world and most certainly to those enjoying Australia-based cruises since Chef Stone hails from Oz and is incredibly popular in his homeland.”“Princess Cruises is known for visiting great worldwide destinations – I’m set on bringing a new culinary experience to the sea to enhance and complete a cruise vacation,” said Chef Curtis Stone.“It’s important to me that guests have the experience that I would want and food that I’d be thrilled to eat myself, at sea or anywhere else in the world,” added Stone. Find out morelast_img read more

Outrigger Resorts joins Global Hotel Alliance

first_imgOutrigger Resorts, the premier beachfront resort brand of Outrigger Enterprises Group, has joined Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) as the growing alliance expands its footprint in new markets, including Outrigger’s home base of Hawaii, plus Fiji, Guam and Mauritius, while strengthening its presence in the Maldives and Thailand, adding a total of nine premier resorts to GHA’s network of 33 independent brands and over 550 hotels.Based in Honolulu, Outrigger Resorts is part of Outrigger Enterprises Group, one of the largest and fastest growing privately held leisure lodging, retail and hospitality companies operating in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.As part of its unique hospitality offering, the values-based company extends exceptional hospitality and authentic cultural experiences, incorporating local traditions and customs into the guest experience at each of its properties worldwide.Chris Hartley, GHA’s CEO, who was in Honolulu to make the announcement at Outrigger’s recent global leadership conference, is thrilled to add another iconic hotel brand to its portfolio, with its own rich history and unique culture.“GHA is about bringing together fiercely independent brands, many of which have been privately held for generations, and giving them the ability to thrive on their individuality in a rapidly consolidating hospitality market,” Mr Hartley said.“Outrigger fits that mould perfectly and will benefit from our shared loyal customer base of over seven million DISCOVERY members, many of whom are in Outrigger’s key feeder markets.”David Carey, president and CEO of Outrigger Enterprises Group, is excited about the opportunity that GHA membership represents for the brand.“Outrigger’s existing loyal guests return to our hotels because they love the authentic local experience and signature amenities we offer at some of the most iconic beachfront destinations in the world,” Mr Carey said.“GHA’s DISCOVERY loyalty program and distribution network give us access to millions of new, like-minded loyal customers, from similar brands to ours, which will extend our reach within our key feeder markets, and into new markets that are not cost-efficient for us to exploit alone.”The integration of Outrigger Resorts into GHA will be completed later in the year, at which time DISCOVERY members will be recognised and rewarded across the Outrigger Resorts portfolio of premiere beachfront properties. Global Hotel AllianceSource = Global Hotel Alliancelast_img read more

THAI joins with Airbus to develop Southeast Asias aircraft maintenanc

first_imgSource = THAI – Thai Airways International THAI A350 in BangkokTHAI joins with Airbus to develop Southeast Asia’s aircraft maintenance centerHis Excellency Mr. Somkid Jatusripitak, Deputy Prime Minister, presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) and Airbus to study the development of a major new maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility or TG MRO Complex Development at U-Tapao International Airport as the aircraft maintenance center for the Asia-Pacific region. The MOU was signed at THAI’s Head Office by Mrs. Usanee Sangsingkeo, THAI Acting President, and Mr. Fabrice Bregier, President, Airbus Commercial Aircraft, which was witnessed by Mr. Akhom Tempittayapaisit, Minister of Transport, Royal Thai Navy Admiral Thaweechai Boon-anan, and Mr. Areepong Bhoocha-Oom, THAI Chairman of the Board of Directors.Mrs. Usanee Sangsingkeo, THAI Acting President, said “THAI has reached initial agreement with Airbus to exchange necessary information and jointly evaluate the potential development of a TG MRO Complex Development at U-Tapao International Airport, which is part of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) development plan 2017-2021. This will drive Thailand to become the most modern Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Center in the Asia-Pacific, equipped with the best innovation and technology that adheres to international standards, and furthermore support other aviation business industries that comply with the Government’s policies. The new aircraft maintenance center will serve airlines across the region and worldwide as well as create sustainable revenue for THAI and Thailand, bringing the country closer towards Thailand 4.0 as the future Gateway to Asia.”Mr. Fabrice Bregier, President, Airbus Commercial Aircraft, said “this exciting new project will help to meet strong demand for maintenance services in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. With the fleet in the region set to almost triple to over 15,000 aircraft over the next 20 years, this project represents a sound opportunity for Thailand to develop its footprint in the aerospace sector.”Upon its completion, the new aircraft maintenance center will be one of the most modern facilities to provide aircraft maintenance in the Asia-Pacific region with the capability to provide light and heavy maintenance for multiple aircraft types utilizing the latest digital technology to assess and conduct aircraft maintenance with high performance evaluation technologies. Furthermore, it will include an intelligent maintenance center that can reduce investment costs, is environmentally friendly, complete with an aircraft maintenance training center to train the best aviation technicians and engineers based on international standards, which will support the future expansion of aircraft maintenance business in the years to come. THAIbook flights here last_img read more

Thailand posts increased visitor numbers

first_imgThailand posts increased visitor numbersThailand posts increased visitor numbers and tourism revenue for January-October 2017Thailand welcomed over 28.8 million international visitors from January to October 2017 and earned 1.47 trillion Baht in tourism revenue. Mr. Pongpanu Svetarundra, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, recently told a press conference on the kingdom’s tourism performance. Both figures represented increases over 2016.The precise number of overseas tourists for the 10 months of January to October was 28,824,753, an increase of 6.69 percent over the same period of 2016. Tourism revenue generated was 1,472,698.81 Baht, up 9.31 percent over the 2016 period.For the month of October 2017, the number of foreign tourists jumped 20.92 percent over October 2016 to 2,723,971. Tourism revenue for October 2017 also rose significantly, up 24.38 percent to a little over 142.63 billion Baht.Among source markets, Southeast Asia stood out with 29.38 percent growth in tourists sent to Thailand during October. The top 10 individual markets were China, Malaysia, Lao PDR., South Korea, India, Japan, Russia, Cambodia, the US and UK.Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor, commented: “With the launch in November of the TAT’s new ‘Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018’ marketing concept, which focuses on segments like sports, gastronomy, weddings and honeymoons, luxury and community-based tourism, we’re confident of even higher visitor growth.”Thailand’s domestic tourism sector also showed positive growth. January to September 2017 saw Thais made 109.15 million trips in their own country (up 6.32 percent over the same 2016 period) generating more than 695.23 billion Baht in revenue (up 7.34 percent over the same 2016 period).Combining the overseas and domestic markets, total tourism revenue for January to October 2017 amounted to 2,167,932.74 Baht, an 8.67 percent rise over the same 2016 period.The Ministry of Tourism and Sports highlighted the main reasons behind the growth in tourist numbers and revenue, including the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s lifting in October of the red flag imposed on Thailand since 2015 over significant safety concerns in its aviation sector. This, Mr. Pongpanu said, had since resulted in a lot of requests for more flights into Don Mueang International Airport, the second of Bangkok’s two main airports.Also, Thai Airways International launched a new four times weekly direct Bangkok-Vienna route in November and NewGen Airways introduced new flights from Nakhon Ratchasima to Chiang Mai and Phuket, among several new routes and increased flight frequencies by both Thai and international carriers.Source = Tourism Authority of Thailandlast_img read more

Wyndham wins at Annual Vacation Ownership Awards

first_imgWyndham DestinationsWyndham wins at Annual Vacation Ownership AwardsWyndham Destinations Asia Pacific has claimed three Australian Timeshare Holiday Ownership Council (ATHOC) Awards, with teams from the Gold Coast and Fiji and a Queensland resort manager picking up major accolades.Presented at the peak body’s annual conference in Fiji, the ATHOC Awards are nine prestigious honours that recognise and reward exceptionally talented individuals, teams and companies in the vacation ownership industry across the South Pacific.Wyndham Destinations’ Gold Coast-based Owner Marketing team, which communicates with the WorldMark South Pacific Club’s 57,000 vacation owner families and manages the company’s social media pages, was named Best Marketing Team of the Year.“Our Owner Marketing team has done an exceptional job of improving our marketing and social media efforts, site visitation and engagement through the optimisation of quality user-generated content,” said Gary Croker, Senior Vice President of Business Development Asia Pacific, Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific.“This Gold Coast team is skilled at building constructive relationships with our vacation owners and helping them gain an understanding of the power our product gives them. The team’s campaigns and solutions are leading the field in an area which is undergoing enormous technological change and disruption.”Meanwhile, the company’s Fiji Sales team was honoured with the Sales Team of the Year award, thanks to its commitment to customer service and using innovative ideas to showcase Fijian culture and hospitality to its guests.The General Manager at Ramada Resort by Wyndham Port Douglas, Duncan Mars, also received the Best Resort Manager accolade for implementing a high standard of personalised service and markedly improving the property’s performance.Duncan presided over a 7.8 per cent increase in occupancy during 2017 and an overhaul of housekeeping that brought about vast productivity improvements. Guests providing feedback on the resort now give Duncan and his team an average ranking of 9.09 out of 10.Source = Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacificlast_img read more

IATA announces global passenger traffic results for March

first_imgThe International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the global passenger traffic results for March showing that demand rose by 5.3%, compared to the same month last year. Capacity grew at 5.9% which pushed the average load factor down by half a percentage point to 79.6%.March performance shows a moderate slowdown on the year-on-year growth rates recorded in January (7.2%) and February (8.6%) even after adjusting for the leap-year impact in February. Demand for international traffic grew significantly more quickly (6.2%) than that for domestic travel (3.7%).Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO, IATA, said, “While in line with long-term trends, demand growth in March represented a slow-down compared to January and February. It is premature to say whether this marks the end of the recent very strong results. We do expect further stimulus in the form of network expansion and declines in travel costs. However, the wider economic backdrop remains subdued.”March international passenger demand rose 6.2% compared to March 2015, which was a decline compared to the 9.1% increase in February. Airlines in all regions recorded growth. Total capacity climbed 6.9%, causing load factor to slip 0.5% percentage points to 78.5%.Domestic demand rose 3.7% in March compared to March 2015, a dramatic slowdown from the leap year-aided 7.8% growth recorded in February. This was driven primarily by performance in the two largest markets, the US, which accounts for two of every five domestic passengers and China. Domestic capacity climbed 4.3%, and load factor retreated 0.4 percentage points to 81.6%.last_img read more

Uttar Pradesh Government launches new tourism policy

first_imgBets on tourism to create 5 lakh jobs, 5,000 cr investment per yearThe Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has set an ambitious target of generating five lakh jobs every year, attracting INR 5000 crore investment and increasing the arrival of foreign tourists by 10% in Uttar Pradesh’s new tourism policy which was unveiled recently. Released by Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Tourism Minister, Uttar Pradesh the key aspect of ensuring the safety of women tourists also found a prominent mention in the policy. Another highlight is the plan to set up to 50 heritage hotels in the country’s largest state. The policy will be applicable for five years and has set a target of increasing domestic travel by 15%, and foreign tourist arrivals by 10%. “The sector will generate five lakh direct or indirect jobs and attract an investment of INR 5,000 crore per year. The new policy targets attracting one lakh additional tourists to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the state and also to convert 10 heritage building to heritage hotels per year. The focus will be on promotion of eco-tourism. Efforts will be made to explore local entrepreneurship avenues through execution of fairs and festivals,” Joshi said. The tourism department will create a land bank for promoting tourism in the state. Investment opportunities would be offered within 20 km of all tourist sites of 10 tourism circuits including the Ramayana circuit, Krishna-Braj circuit, Buddhist circuit, Wildlife and Ecotourism circuit, Bundelkhand circuit, Mahabharata circuit, Shakti Peeth circuit, Aadhyatmik circuit, Sufi-Kabir circuit and Jain circuit.last_img read more