Mali militants say they will not give up Shariah

first_imgAnsar Dine is believed to be the most moderate of the three al-Qaida-linked groups currently in control of northern Mali. Representatives of the group have been meeting with Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, who has been appointed as a mediator, but the group’s unbending stance on Shariah casts doubt on whether the effort can make headway.Earlier this week, the African Union approved a military plan that calls for a coalition of 3,300 African troops to be deployed in order to win back Mali’s north which fell to Islamic extremists in April.“We affirm that we want to impose Shariah in our home. We are not saying that we are going to apply it to the rest of the country, but we insist that it be applied where we live,” said Ag Aharib, whose group’s fighters control Kidal and Timbuktu, two of the three largest cities in Mali’s north.“We want the world to know that Shariah is not just the cutting off of people’s hands. It’s our religion. It’s one of the practices within our religion and if we are asked to renounce Shariah, we might as well be asked to renounce Islam,” he said.Since seizing control of the north, a territory as large as France, Ansar Dine has carried out amputations of accused thieves as well as the stoning of a couple who had had children out of wedlock. Music of all kind has been banned, and even the Nokia cellphone jingle is forbidden. Women in the normally tolerant nation have been forced to cover up, and the Islamists have shown no mercy, publicly flogging a 12-year-old girl who was not properly dressed, as well as a pregnant woman whose veil slipped off, exposing part of her back. Associated PressOUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) – One of the three al-Qaida-linked groups currently controlling northern Mali said Wednesday it would not give up its harsh form of Islamic law, appearing to offer little ground in last-ditch talks meant to avert a military intervention to take back the region.Members of Ansar Dine said they are willing to allow the rest of Mali to be governed by a different set of rules, but spokesman Mohamed Ag Aharib told reporters that asking his group to relinquish Shariah law in the area under their control is like asking them to give up being Muslim. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Mali, once a beacon of stability in the region, has become the world’s newest failed state in the nearly eight months since renegade soldiers overthrew the democratically elected president in the capital, located in the south. The chaos that followed created the opening that allowed the Islamic rebels to penetrate the best-guarded cities in the north.In a statement on Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund announced that Mali’s GDP is forecast to shrink 1.5 percent. The rebel takeover of the north has “severely affected” Mali’s economy by disrupting agricultural production and trade relations, said the statement. At the same time, tourism has ground to a halt and several of the capital’s flagship hotels have closed.Both the United States and France have identified the al-Qaida threat in northern Mali as a key security risk, not just to the region but also to Europe and beyond. Both Washington and Paris have offered logistical support to the future intervention. Later this month, the plan will be presented to the United Nations Security Council, the final step before the operation can go ahead._____Calliimachi contributed to this report from Dakar, Senegal. Patients with chronic pain give advice Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories Comments   Share   last_img read more

Jordan MPs vote to expel Israeli ambassador

first_img 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – Jordan’s parliament voted unanimously to expel the Israeli ambassador and recall its own envoy on Wednesday, a day after Israeli lawmakers debated a proposal to take over a Jerusalem holy site administered by Jordanians.The vote by acclamation in Jordan’s 150-seat parliament is not binding to the Cabinet, which is keen to maintain diplomatic ties with Israel and, according to an official who spoke anonymously because of the issue’s sensitivity, plans no action before the Knesset debate concludes. Israeli lawmakers have not voted on the issue and it is unlikely to pass as the majority does not want to antagonize Muslims. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The discussion was initiated by the Likud Party’s Moshe Feiglin, who proposed the Jewish state wrest control from Jordan the al-Aqsa compound housing shrines revered by Muslims. Jordan was given a “special” role over the area in a 1994 peace treaty with Israel.The compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. It contains the Dome of the Rock, which enshrines the rock where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. But it is also Judaism’s most sacred place of worship, venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount. Jews believe the rock may be where the holiest part of the two ancient temples stood about 2,000 years ago _ and where religious Jews pray a third temple will one day be built.The site is so holy that Jews have traditionally refrained from praying on the hilltop, but attitudes among some Orthodox have been changing and there has been growing demand to allow Jews to pray there freely as well.To emphasize Muslim claims and custody of the compound, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas signed an agreement last April confirming their “common goal to defending” Jerusalem and its sacred Muslim sites “against attempts to Judaize the Holy City.” Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement At the time, a joint statement said the deal confirmed Jordan’s historic role as custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim sites, particularly the flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque compound.The fate of Jerusalem and its shrines are to be determined in final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians brokered by the United States. In the negotiations, which resumed last summer, the two sides set an April target date for agreeing on a framework for peace. But in recent weeks, they appear to have hardened their positions.Jordan’s king, whose royal Hashemite dynasty claims ancestry to the Prophet Muhammad, wants a future deal to satisfy Arab claims to east Jerusalem.Jordan also maintains de facto custody over Christian shrines in east Jerusalem, which it ruled along with the West Bank for 17 years ending with Israel’s seizure of the territory in the Six-Day War of June 1, 1967.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 4 must play golf courses in Arizonalast_img read more

ChinaTaiwan talks seek to maintain momentum for closer ties

first_img TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Negotiators from Taiwan and China met Saturday for talks in an attempt to maintain momentum for the forging of closer ties in the face of a skeptical Taiwanese public.The talks resulted in no firm agreements but underscored Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s determination to prove that engagement with China can help the local economy.Ministerial-level officials from the sides met on the tiny Taiwan-controlled island of Kinmen, just off the Chinese coast, where the rivals fought bloody military battles in the 1950s and 1960s. Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   Top Stories Sponsored Stories Topics discussed included controlling the illegal excavation of sand from the ocean floor, opening outlying Taiwanese islets to more China-based tourism and letting Chinese tourists make transit stops in Taiwan, Taiwan’s Cabinet-level negotiating body, the Mainland Affairs Council, said in a statement.“The development of relations between Taiwan and mainland China has been self-evident, and despite bumps in the recent past I want to emphasize this is a development trend backed by public opinion,” council Chairman Andrew Hsia said in opening remarks.Beijing’s representative Zhang Zhijun, director of the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said China was determined to keep ties moving forward.“We absolutely cannot let mainland China-Taiwan relations go backward again, even less so into the past,” he was quoted as saying by China’s official Xinhua News Agency in his opening remarks. “I believe this is also the joint desire of compatriots from both sides who have weathered storms of the past.”Many among the Taiwanese public fear closer ties could undermine their economic advantages while furthering Beijing’s eventual goal of ending the island’s self-rule of nearly seven decades. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sobercenter_img Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home China’s Taiwan Affairs Office director Zhang Zhijun, left, and his counterpart Minister Andrew Hsia of the Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council shake hands in front of the media as they arrive for the start of a two-day cross-strait meeting, Saturday, May 23, 2015, on the outlying island of Kinmen, Taiwan. Zhang is meeting with Hsia to discuss various cross-strait issues, including Taiwan’s interest in joining China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the latest trade agreements between both sides. (AP Photo) TAIWAN OUT Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologistlast_img read more

How Obama reversed course on federal college ratings

first_img“I think we should rate colleges based on opportunity — are they helping students from all kinds of backgrounds succeed — and on outcomes, on their value to students and parents,” Obama said. He took it a step further by proposing that Congress eventually tie a school’s eligibility for federal financial aid to its score in the new ratings system.Resistance to Obama’s plan was swift, vehement and nearly universal.Associations representing colleges with traditionally conflicting interests — such as community colleges and private universities — all lined up in opposition, warning the project was too complex, too subjective and too dependent on shoddy data to ever work fairly. As the Education Department mounted an extensive, lengthy listening tour across the country, college presidents warned of dire unintended consequences and implored the government to reconsider.On Capitol Hill, the proposal drew pushback not only from the president’s traditional Republican foes, but also some Democrats. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a former education secretary and chair of the Senate’s education panel, took to the Senate floor to threaten an amendment blocking the ratings system. And in the House, Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts — two states with large numbers of colleges — joined forces to sponsor a resolution opposing Obama’s plan. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Instead, the new tool will allow prospective students to decide which factors are important to them, then draw their own conclusions from the statistics. But officials couldn’t point to any new statistics the tool will offer that aren’t already available through existing government websites.Abandoning the original plan marked the latest in a series of stumbles for Obama’s education priorities. In his 2013 State of the Union address, Obama called for expanding access to pre-kindergarten to all American children, and in his 2015 address, he pushed a $60 billion plan to offer two years of free community college. Neither proposal has gained any traction.The Education Department said it’s still determining what the revised college tool will look like, but that it’s still on track to roll it out by the start of the 2015-2016 academic year, roughly two months from now.“It is anything but a retreat,” Education Department Undersecretary Ted Mitchell said in an interview. “It’s a retooling and, we think, an advance on the original concept.”Yet Obama’s goal, as he described when he announced the plan in August 2013, was to create an alternative to private rankings like U.S. News and World Report whose formulas incentivize schools to “game the numbers” and even raise costs. Instead, Obama sought a system that prioritized whether schools are enrolling and graduating poorer students and whether their graduates succeed in the workforce. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility “Do I think they would have continued if no one had pushed back? Of course I do,” Capuano said.But for nearly two years, the administration stuck to the original plan. In a blog post in December 2014, the Education Department said it was considering rating schools as high-performing, medium-performing or low-performing and outlined a few potential metrics, but disappointed many by failing to flesh out the formula it would use to assign ratings.Driving the decision to stick with a ratings system was Obama, who was dead-set on carrying out his original vision for the project, according to interviews with nearly a dozen congressional aides, administration officials and college association leaders. Many of them spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid criticizing the president publicly.From the start, career bureaucrats and data experts at the Education Department said the idea wasn’t feasible, but met continued White House resistance, those officials said. Technical experts in the education industry that the administration consulted offered similar warnings. Eventually, higher-level Education Department officials grew convinced the plan was unworkable, and persuaded the White House to allow a scaled-back approach devoid of hard-and-fast ratings. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments   Share   Top Stories “We are right where the president wanted us to be in terms of making progress toward his vision,” said James Kvaal, deputy director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council.University associations that had fought the proposal praised the Obama administration for taking their concerns seriously and eventually agreeing to abandon the initial plan, calling it a rare example of the government acknowledging its own missteps.“They really did listen on this,” said Sarah Flanagan, the top lobbyist for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. “The more they looked into it, they realized it wasn’t doable.”___Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.center_img Parents, stop beating yourself up WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama dearly wanted to get the government in the business of rating colleges and universities based on value and affordability, promising a new system by 2015. Now that goal is shriveling under the weight of a concerted opposition from universities, lawmakers and bureaucrats in Obama’s own administration.Nearly two years after the president, standing before a crowd of 7,000 at the University at Buffalo, unveiled the bold proposal as a way to curb soaring college costs, his administration has quietly but drastically scaled back the initiative. No longer does the federal government intend to use a formula to score schools based on factors like price, average student debt and graduation rates, as Obama had envisioned. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall President Barack Obama arrives to speak at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, in La Crosse, Wis., Thursday, July 2, 2015, about the economy and to promote a proposed Labor Department rule that would make more workers eligible for overtime. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Sponsored Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Conservatives warn IRS could target gay marriage opponents

first_img Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Justice Samuel Alito asked the government’s lawyer about a 1983 court case that allowed the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University, a Christian school in South Carolina. The school forbade students from dating or marrying students from another race. The school’s policy said students could be expelled for advocating interracial marriage or dating.“So Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. WASHINGTON (AP) — A brief exchange during Supreme Court arguments in the same-sex marriage case has exploded into a full-blown crisis for some conservatives who warn that the IRS could start revoking the tax-exempt status of religious groups that oppose gay marriage.The attorneys general of 15 states have written Congress asking for legislation to protect religious schools and other groups. Bills in the House and Senate are gaining support. Top Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system Sponsored Stories Officials are responding to the Supreme Court ruling in June that required every state to recognize same-sex marriages.In a brief statement, the IRS said Thursday the ruling will not affect the standards agents use to evaluate tax-exempt organizations. Democrats, meanwhile, say Republicans are creating a straw man to fire up the GOP base as they try to resist America’s changing social mores.“This is more than a hypothetical, this is well beyond firing up the base,” said Rep. Bill Flores of Texas, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative House members.“This is based on the next round of attacks that have already been queued up,” Flores said Thursday. “This is simple… we’re protecting organizations based on their sincerely held religious beliefs.”Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said of the conservatives: “I think they’re looking for a wedge issue in the upcoming campaign, but I think they’re on the wrong side of history and I think the American people quite frankly aren’t interested in their culture wars.”The kerfuffle started with a brief exchange back in April, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the same-sex marriage case. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Mesa family survives lightning strike to home 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

Palestinianfunded TV channel for Israeli Arabs challenged

first_imgFor Arabs in Israel, the question of destiny was settled when Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization began peace talks two decades ago, under a framework that made clear they would remain part of Israel.Identity is a different matter.Arabs in Israel are caught in the push and pull of fitting into a Jewish-dominated society and protecting Palestinian roots, a struggle at times overshadowed by what many say is continuing prejudice. Some have risen to top positions in Israel’s Western-type society, but income and education gaps remain between Jewish and Arab communities.Relations between Arabs in Israel and their relatives across the Green Line, the invisible pre-1967 frontier, have been disrupted by repeated rounds of Israeli-Palestinian fighting. Yet ties were never completely severed.Abbas views Israel’s Arabs as key to generating support for a two-state solution. He was involved in efforts earlier this year to merge smaller Arab parties in Israel into a single slate to increase their political clout.Former peace negotiator Uri Savir said Abbas should focus his peace lobbying on Israeli Jews, though he and others say Israel’s clampdown on the channel was misguided. RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Now broadcasting live from a West Bank parking lot, a new Palestinian-funded satellite television channel for Israel’s Arab citizens already found its studio closed before it could even fill its airtime.The flap over Palestine 48 — named for the year of Israel’s creation and Palestinian displacement — reflects strained relations between Israel’s government and the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas at a time when a resumption of talks on Palestinian statehood is unlikely. Sponsored Stories The two-hour morning show is the main offering, with the rest of the airtime filled with cartoons, imported soap operas and movies. An evening talk show, on the air during the recent Muslim holy month of Ramadan, will be back bi-weekly in September.The talk shows offer lifestyle tips, songs and banter, along with discussions about weightier issues. A recent morning show dealt with sexual harassment in Arab society and hosted a priest who called for religious tolerance.Hot-button issues like gender roles and identity conflicts are raised spontaneously by guests, said Fadi Zgairy, the evening show’s host.During one segment, he hosted an Arab filmmaker who interviewed Sephardi Jews complaining about discrimination by fellow Israelis with European roots and argued the issue wasn’t being dealt with openly in Israel.Broadcasters say Palestine 48 fills a gap in local media.Another satellite channel, Hala TV, also serves Israeli Arabs, but is commercial, they say. Israel’s three main TV channels only set aside a few hours per week for Arabic-language shows.Israel seems to fear Palestine 48 is part of an attempt by Abbas to influence Israel’s largest minority. In shutting down the production site last month, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said he won’t allow “Israel’s sovereignty to be harmed” and for the Palestinian Authority to gain a “foothold.” Israeli officials said the channel had not tried to obtain an operating permit.Yossi Kuperwasser, a former Israeli official involved in monitoring Arabic media, alleged that the channel is a “propaganda tool” for Abbas. “We don’t need foreign intervention,” he said.Hassan, the Palestinian broadcasting chief, said the channel covers concerns of Israeli Arabs “without incitement, racism or calls to violence.”PBC officials would not say how much money is being spent on the channel, for now without advertising.They also said they don’t know how many people are watching, though the talk show hosts said fans have begun approaching them in the streets.Israel’s Arabs are part of the world’s estimated 12 million Palestinians. After the split of 1948, they were reunited — to an extent — with families in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem when Israel captured those territories in the 1967 Mideast war.Half the world’s Palestinians still live in historic Palestine — the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River — while the rest are scattered, most descendants of refugees living in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories Quick workouts for men Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona In this photo taken Wednesday, July 15, 2015, “Palestine 48” TV channel crew film during a morning broadcast at a makeshift studio in the parking lot of a hotel, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. A new satellite TV channel for Israel’s large Arab minority is off to a rough start: Israel shut down operations just days after the launch, arguing that it harms Israeli sovereignty because it is funded by the Palestinian self-rule government in the West Bank. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser) Comments   Share   “If Israel worries about hearts and minds of Arab citizens, it needs to change the reality of alienation and discrimination,” Israeli Arab analyst Mohammed Darawshe said. “It needs to hug its Arab citizens, instead of standing between us and our Palestinian brothers in the West Bank and Gaza.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. It also illustrates the complex ties between Palestinian communities separated by the Israeli-Arab conflict and the unique circumstances of Israel’s 1.7 million Arabs — descendants of Palestinians who stayed put in the 1948 war over Israel’s creation and now make up one-fifth of the country’s population.“We are all one people and need to communicate with each other,” said Riad Hassan, head of the West Bank-based Palestinian Broadcasting Corp., which operates the new channel.Israel closed the channel’s studio in the Israeli Arab town of Nazareth within days of its June launch because it is funded by non-Israelis — the Palestinian self-rule government in the West Bank.Since the closure, the channel has set up a makeshift studio in the parking lot of a hotel in a Palestinian-run part of the West Bank, from where they broadcast to Israel and the Arab world. Its on-air hosts are taking the move in stride.“There are no borders when you have your own satellite,” said morning show host Doraid Liddawi, an Israeli Arab actor who easily switches between Hebrew, Arabic and English.On a recent morning, Liddawi and co-host Afaf Sheni sat on an orange couch on a low stage in the parking lot, a fountain bubbling nearby as they interviewed a beauty expert, a rapper and a group performing Islamic songs — all Arab citizens of Israel. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

Uniworld awarded worlds best river cruise company

first_imgCondé Nast Traveler’s 2010 Gold List Places Uniworld in the World’s Top 12 Cruise LinesConde Nast Traveler recently announced their prestigious 2010 Gold List winners recognising the world’s finest hotels, resorts, and cruise lines with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises being included in the “World’s Top 12 Cruise Lines” category. John Molinaro, general manager, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises said, “Uniworld is extremely proud to be a part of Conde Nast Travelers’ esteemed Gold List. To be known as one of the world’s top 12 cruise lines is a result of our continued commitment to delivering the ultimate river cruise experience to our guests.”Uniworld Boutique River Cruises scored a remarkable 82.8 overall to be represented in the top 12 cruise lines of the world. Using a scale of 100, Uniworld received particularly high marks in the areas of Service (90.6), Itineraries (91.1), and Shore Excursions (86.8). The Gold List is based on data collected from Conde Nast Traveler’s annual Readers’ Choice Survey by more than 25,000 of their readers.Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has been recognised in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers Poll and Gold List since 2007. Uniworld’s luxury five-star vessels represent the ultimate way to discover the fascinating sights and cultural wonders of Europe in complete luxury. <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = Uniworldlast_img read more

Bathroom with a view… inside

first_imgThe Standard Hotel in New York City afforded the public a clear view of patrons occupying toilets on the hotel’s eighteenth floor earlier this week.The bathrooms are fitted with transparent floor to ceiling windows and waist-high curtains for privacy.The curtains had been “temporarily removed” for renovations and staff had forgotten to replace the drapes, the hotel’s manager told the Daily News.“The view outside is exciting, but the view inside is frightening,” Melbourne resident David Langdon said.“I saw people waving at me. Sitting on the royal throne, you don’t expect a public viewing.”The Standard is owned by playboy Andre Balazs and has a reputation for raunchy behaviour, regular pool parties and frequent celebrity sightings.In 2009 the hotel received complaints about free peep shows courtesy of amorous couples staying in the building. Image Source: Splash Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

Beyond launches mobile camping safaris in Botswana

first_imgAvailable now to book from February 2016, luxury experiential travel company &Beyond has launched six new mobile camping safaris through the most iconic wildlife areas of Botswana. Privately guided throughout, these &Beyond Expeditions offer exclusive game viewing experiences combined with comfortable and fully serviced mobile camping accommodation.The all-inclusive safaris range from six to eight-night safaris and include the Chobe National Park, Savute, Okavango Delta and Nxai Pans National Park. Departing on set dates throughout the year, the Expeditions can be booked for small groups or individual travellers, as well as photographic enthusiasts.Aimed at the adventurous traveller looking to get close to nature, the six Botswana Expeditions safaris provide a fully serviced camping experience that is comfortable but rustic. While all the options include the mobile camping element, some of the safaris also provide a final touch of luxury, as they end with a few nights at one of &Beyond’s luxury Okavango Delta lodges.Each safari is hosted by one of &Beyond’s most senior and experienced private guides, who offers a wealth of knowledge about the destinations. The mobile camping adventures are fully inclusive and offer an intimate game viewing experience, with a minimum of two and maximum of six guests per departure. Window seat on game drives are guaranteed and children over the age of 12 are welcome.Accommodation is in spacious dome tents with ensuite bathrooms, separate toilets and hot bucket showers. Each mobile camp boasts three guest tents, which provide basic yet comfortable camping-style accommodation. There is no electricity in the camps, but cell phones, cameras and other electronic devices can be charged on the safari vehicle.The six itineraries are differentiated by length, the regions visited and the type of accommodation:Classic Explorer Safari – eight-night mobile camping adventure through Chobe National Park, Savute and the Okavango Delta.Superior Explorer Safari – eight-night safari, including mobile camping in the Chobe National Park, Savute and the Okavango Delta, ending off at a luxury &Beyond lodge in the Delta.Mini Explorer Safari – six-night mobile camping experience in Chobe, Savute and the Okavango Delta.Botswana Highlights Safari – eight-night mobile camping safari through the Chobe National Park, Savute, Okavango Delta and Nxai Pans National Park. The timing of the safari has been carefuly planned to coincide with the zebra migration in the Nxai Pans.Scenic Highlights Safari – a six-night mobile camping adventure that combines the scenic Nxai Pans National Park with the Okavango Delta.Superior Delta Safari – six nights in the Okavango Delta, combining mobile camping and a stay in a luxury &Beyond lodge.All six Botswana Expeditions options are available to book from June 2015 and will run from February 2016.Source = &Beyondlast_img read more

Fiji launches search for unhappiest people in Singapore

first_imgFiji launches search for unhappiest people in SingaporeFiji Airways and Tourism Fiji are seeking nominations of the most stressed out and overworked Singaporeans in need of a break to send to Fiji – one of the world’s happiest nations.Singaporeans are stressed and jaded from the daily pressures of work, with more than half (55 per cent) more stressed today compared to five years ago[1].Touted as one of the happiest places in the world, Fiji is where happiness finds everyone.As part of an effort to bring happiness to Singapore, Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji are holding a nationwide social media competition for people in Singapore to nominate someone they believe deserves a trip of a lifetime to Fiji.Mr Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO said, “Fijians live in the moment and try to find happiness in everything they do. Singapore is such a hardworking society and we want to help them take a break and share the happiness that is so natural and infectious here.”Nominations for the search can be made via Fiji Airways or Tourism Fiji’s Facebook pages, or nationwide search comes in the lead-up to a Fijian Virtual Rehab experience that will be launched in Singapore next month. A unique 4D sensory experience, Virtual Rehab will immerse Singaporeans in the exotic sights and sounds of Fiji, from 19 September to 23 September at Millennia Walk.Travellers keen to experience Fiji can book a special airfare offer from now to 31 December 2016 for travel before 31 March 2017. Fiji Airways VisitSource = Fiji Airways – Tourism Fijilast_img read more

AccorHotels Pullman brand selected for Auckland Airports first 5sta

first_imgPullman Auckland AirportAccorHotels’ Pullman brand selected for Auckland Airport’s first 5-star hotelAccorHotels’ Pullman brand has been selected by Auckland Airport and Tainui Group Holdings for a new 5-star hotel to be developed adjacent to Auckland Airport’s international terminal.The new 250-room Pullman Auckland Airport will be located next to AccorHotels’ Novotel hotel, and nearby to AccorHotels’ ibis Budget hotel, providing travellers to Auckland with a complete range of high-quality accommodation choices from premium to economy.Construction of the hotel is expected to start by the end of this year, with the hotel scheduled to open by late 2019. The launch of 5-star accommodation will complement a major upgrading program at the airport, which will see the international terminal expanded to add a domestic wing to provide a totally streamlined service for travellers.The hotel will be developed by AccorHotels’ established partners, Auckland Airport and Tainui Group Holdings, who also developed the pioneering Novotel Auckland Airport. AccorHotels also manages Tainui’s Novotel and ibis hotels in Hamilton.The development of the Pullman hotel comes at a time of unprecedented demand for hotel accommodation in Auckland, with the city being the major gateway for international arrivals. In the 2016 year, Auckland Airport recorded 9.3 million International passengers, a 10.4 per cent increase on 2015, fuelled by new services and growth in capacity on flights from the United States, the Middle East, Japan, China, Thailand and Australia.The announcement of the Pullman hotel for Auckland Airport follows the opening last year of Pullman Sydney Airport, with another Pullman scheduled to open at Brisbane Airport later this year. Pullman hotels have a strong presence at airports across the world, being represented in airport precincts in cities such as Paris, Moscow, Miami and Guangzhou.The Pullman will build on AccorHotels’ position as New Zealand’s leading hotel group, with the current network of 33 hotels set to grow substantially over the next three years, including the openings of a new So Sofitel in Auckland and a Novotel at Christchurch Airport.AccorHotels’ Pacific Chief Operating Officer, Simon McGrath, said that the development of the Pullman would contribute significantly to the continued evolution of Auckland Airport as one of Asia Pacific’s most important aviation and transport hubs.“Auckland Airport has done a remarkable job transforming the precinct into a modern ‘aerocity’ and we are very pleased to be partnering with them, along with our established partners Tainui, in developing the new Pullman,” said Mr McGrath.“The success of the Novotel in attracting corporate, conference and leisure travellers has highlighted the potential for a 5-star branded hotel at the airport, and with Pullman having such a strong presence in downtown Auckland, as well as in other major cities around the region, it will be a natural fit for the expansion of Auckland Airport’s tourism infrastructure.“We believe this partnership will deliver an outstanding 5-star hotel for Auckland Airport that will provide great support for Auckland’s and New Zealand’s future tourism and economic development.”Source = Pullman Auckland Airportlast_img read more

SnonSki is first ever ski specialist finalist in NTIA wholesale awar

first_imgSno’n’Ski is first ever ski specialist finalist in NTIA wholesale awardsSno’n’Ski is first ever ski specialist finalist in NTIA wholesale awardsSno’n’Ski was thrilled to be named a finalist in AFTA’s National Travel Industry Awards category of Best Specialty Wholesaler, the first time a ski specialist has enjoyed this achievement in the industry’s most prestigious awards.Director and General Manager Daniel Walker says he is excited by the implications of Sno’n’Ski’s finalist status for the ski travel industry.“Sno’n’Ski has enjoyed booming growth over the last two years, and this combined with our spot as an NTIA finalist is a sure sign that exciting times are ahead for Australia’s ski travel industry,” says WalkerSno’n’Ski were nominated for consideration in the category of Best Specialty Wholesaler by travel agent affiliates, and votes were cast by travel agents and industry professionals across Australia.As one of five national finalists, Sno’n’Ski is invited to present to a panel of travel industry experts at AFTA’s Sydney headquarters in early June.The winner will be announced at the NTIA Gala Awards dinner in July, and Walker says the Sno’n’Ski team will be honoured to be in attendance as a finalist for the first time.“Our ski resort partners from all over the world are excited that ski is gaining momentum and exposure through the Australian travel agency network,” says Walker.“This nomination proves that agents are increasingly excited to promote and sell snow holidays as a specialty product.”Source = Sno’n’Skilast_img read more

New hotel Stock Exchange opens in Woodstock

first_imgSource = Stock Exchange New hotel, Stock Exchange opens in WoodstockNew hotel, Stock Exchange opens in WoodstockArguably Cape Town’s most creative neighbourhood, Woodstock is now home to a captivating hotel, Stock Exchange, which officially opened on 01 March 2019. The hotel is managed by Newmark Hotels, Residences, Reserves & Lodges, a diverse and growing hospitality group pioneered by Neil Markovitz. The group also includes nearby properties such as the iconic Victoria & Alfred Hotel, the Queen Victoria Hotel and The Onyx, which opened in December 2018, and a number of other properties in Southern and East Africa.Stock Exchange is located in the WEX1 development – a mixed-use building that additionally comprises residential units, restaurants, a swimming pool, a gym, an entertainment deck and retail outlets. The greater building, located on Albert Road opposite the Woodstock Exchange and in proximity to The Old Biscuit Mill, was designed by Vivid Architects and was developed by esteemed property development company, Signatura in partnership with Indigo Properties.Stock Exchange comprises thirty-three apartment-style rooms, namely Studios, Studio Deluxe units and Two-Bedroom Apartments. Uniquely, the rooms have been split into three distinct themes: Urban Jungle, Urban Art and Urban Pattern, conceptualised, designed and implemented by Tracy Lee Lynch and her team at Studio Leelynch.The greater interior design principle places much emphasis on the celebration of local talent and the formation of a genuine connection with the neighbourhood. As such, furniture and décor items in the Stock Exchange’s rooms are pinpointed on a “design map” of Woodstock, enabling guests to discover where locally made furniture, art and décor items in the rooms were crafted, painted and manufactured.The property is ideally located close to a MyCiTi bus stop, bicycle lanes and a train station, allowing for easy access to Woodstock’s vibrant points of interest and Cape Town’s plethora of tourist attractions. Walking tours are available through reception, also allowing guests to discover the region.Comments Neil Markovitz, MD of Newmark Hotels, Residences, Reserves & Lodges: “We’re thrilled with the outcome of Stock Exchange, following months of outstanding collaboration with world-class teams. The most rewarding element of any new hotel opening, as is the case with Stock Exchange, is knowing that guests are able to experience our vision for exceptional hospitality in tangible form.”Visit for further information.For reservations, contact Newmark on +27 21 427 5900 or email reservations@newmarkhotels.comlast_img read more

Canada gears up for Calgary Stampede

first_imgFrom July 3, 2015 begins the 10-day long greatest outdoor show on Earth – Calgary Stampede. Don the denim, grab a Stetson (cowboy hat) and saddle up as professional rodeo riders get bucked and thrown while trying to hold on to the first position in the richest rodeo in the world. The happening hoedown officially begins with a parade of marching bands, over 150 floats and hundreds of horses. A spot on the sidewalk enables to watch as floats, bands, riders, celebrities and hundreds of horses pass by in the ‘Calgary Stampede Parade’.The world’s best rodeo athletes go head-to-head riding wild horses and bulls, roping cattle and more with the crowd cheering as they experience an exhilarating rush of the famous chuck wagon races. The excitement is only outdone by the heart-pounding rush of watching teams of four horses charge around the track in the chuck wagon races. The incredible entertainment is taking place at the Grandstand Show-a staged spectacle featuring horses, singers, dancers and inspiring music. Before heading back to the ranch, one can also pick up an authentic cowboy keepsake from the Stampede Market.There is so much to see and do at the Stampede. The online planner helps to get organised. Advance tickets to the Stampede Park are available for one or two day packages. Dance and party hard into the wee hours of the night at some of the best cowboy-themed bars in Calgary which are located right on the Stampede grounds.last_img read more

Alitalia aims for profitability by 2017

first_imgAlitalia has unveiled a series of customer service enhancements that would improve the travel experience for air passengers. Italy’s national airline also confirmed that its three-year business plan was on track for profitability by 2017.Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the Chairman of Alitalia, and James Hogan, Vice Chairman of Alitalia and President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, announced the details of a range of new initiatives that will be introduced in a few weeks.Two new long haul destinations, the first chauffeur service for business travellers, the opening of new VIP lounges and the refurbishment of existing ones at airports, new cabin interiors and Internet and email connectivity on board, as well as a focus on improving customer service at Fiumicino airport, are the highlights that were announced.The airline recently briefed 2,000 staff at a special meeting in Rome.Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said, “Our performance is in line with the business plan. And, for the first time since 2009, the load factor for the quarter exceeded 80% and we are on track to meet our objective of reaching profitability by 2017.”“We are announcing today two new destinations in Latin America, new services for business customers, significant investment in ground services at Fiumicino airport and an aggressive program to improve the medium-haul fleet. These will be introduced shortly and will help to transform the travel experience for customers flying with Alitalia,” added Montezemolo.Vice Chairman James Hogan said, “Together we have come a long way. Alitalia is ascending but it still has challenges and to maintain momentum we need to accelerate cultural and operational change at every level within the company.”“Being part of Etihad Airways Partners will help Alitalia succeed in its drive to profitability and with market confidence growing, its customers will have much to look forward to and experience in the next six months and beyond,” added the Vice Chairman.last_img read more

PATA takes lead in Responsible Tourism

first_imgIn an important milestone, the Headquarters of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) located in Bangkok, Thailand, has achieved Bronze Benchmarked Sustainability Certification by EarthCheck for the travel and tourism industry. The official certificate handover ceremony will take place during the PATAcademy-HCD Workshop on Sustainability in Tourism from December 1-3, 2015.A dedicated team at PATA worked together with EarthCheck for 12 months to collect and collate operational data and information on its practices in order to be benchmarked against EarthCheck’s global sustainability standard. The benchmarking data addressed a wide range of issues, including water, waste and energy use, occupational health and safety, risk management, community contributions and the use of paper, chemicals and cleaning products. EarthCheck’s three-tiered rating of Bronze, Silver and Gold status is built on the belief that effective scientific benchmarking puts rigour and transparency into business processes, benefitting all stakeholders in the long term. This is the first time PATA has sought and achieved any sustainable operations standard.PATA CEO Mario Hardy commented, “Since 1951, PATA has aspired to be a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region. We are honoured and proud to achieve such recognition, as it reflects our staff’s commitment to taking action for constant improvement. EarthCheck’s benchmarking allows us to measure ourselves against global industry standards, a valuable resource that gives pointers on where we do well, and where we can do more.”In presenting the certification, Founder and CEO, Stewart Moore, announced, “I would like to congratulate the whole team at PATA on their achievement. The association is a leading advocate in the region and a valued member of a global group of tourism stakeholders who dare to make a difference. PATA is the first office in Thailand to benchmark and apply for certification through the EarthCheck program. In doing so, it is measuring its performance against best practices and making positive changes to reduce its environmental and social impact.last_img read more

Hong Kong Airlines signs codeshare agreement with Kenya Airways

first_imgHong Kong Airlines has signed a codeshare agreement with Kenya Airways to enhance connectivity in Asia. As per the agreement, Kenya Airways will place its ‘KQ’ code on Hong Kong Airlines’ flights between Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) and Hong Kong (HKG).The agreement allows Kenya Airways to have a daily product between the two key business cities, which will provide new growth opportunities for both airlines’ to work together to improve flight schedules options in the region.Li Dianchun, Chief Commercial Officer, Hong Kong Airlines, said, “We are very glad to welcome Kenya Airways, a respectful international airline from Africa, as our latest codeshare partner. The codeshare enables passengers of Kenya Airways to choose from our flights between Hong Kong and Bangkok connecting their journey to and from Nairobi with much flexibility.”Kenya Airways Group MD and CEO, Mbuvi Ngunze, said, “This partnership will enable us and Hong Kong Airlines to offer our customers seamless connection, especially for our passengers in the region who mainly travel to these Asian cities for business. Our guests will now be able to enjoy daily flights between Hong Kong and Nairobi up from the current three weekly flights.”last_img read more

Aviation sector in India emerges as the worlds third largest aviation market

first_imgThe civil aviation industry in India has emerged as one of the fastest growing industries in the country during the last three years. With 19% growth in domestic passenger traffic from about 6.1 crore in 2014 to 10 crore in 2016-17, India is now the third largest aviation market in the world, with the promise to grow even further.It is majorly because of its impressive and inclusive nature defined by the Regional Connectivity Scheme –UDAN that has made air travel possible for even the common man in remote areas.The Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN has been by far the most path-breaking achievement of the Ministry. 31 currently served, 12 under-served and 27 under served airports are now connecting 128 RCS routes across the country. 50 airports are being revived and 13 lakh new UDAN seats are being added annually under the first round of UDAN for a Viability Gap Funding of Rs 205 crore.P Ashok Gajapathy Raju, Union Minister for Civil Aviation while briefing the media about the achievements of his ministry during the last three years stated that average or median airfares fell by 18% during 2016-17, making flying more affordable for the common man.Scheduled domestic flight movements also rose from seven lakh in 2014 to 8.2 lakh in 2016, an 8.2%  CAGR growth. As against 395 aircrafts in the fleet of Indian carriers, currently there are 496 aircrafts in operation and another 654 are under purchase.Route Dispersal Guidelines have been rationalised, multiple provisions have been made for MRO service providers and a slew of initiatives like the AirSewa portal, enhanced compensation for cancellation and boarding denial have been taken for improving passenger convenience.The minister also talked about other achievements of the Ministry like promoting Ease of Doing Business by allowing 100% FDI in domestic scheduled air transport, Open Skies Service Agreements offers to 49 countries and five SAARC nations etc, developing a robust security architecture by complying with ICAO requirements, Anti Hijacking Act etc, promoting innovative technology like  GAGAN, India’s first navigation based system to improve accuracy of air navigation services and focusing on  skill development in the aviation sector.About skill development the Minister informed that the first Executive Aviation Course was launched by India’s first Aviation University in February 2017. 800 ATCs were recruited by AAI in the last two years and more than 400 are planned to be recruited in 2017. The Minister said that Aerospace and Aviation Skill Sector Council has been formed to monitor growth of skill development.Jayant Sinha, Civil Aviation, MoS said that the ministry hopes to have 200 plus airports in the next 10-15 years. He informed that the capacity of existing major airports is also being increased rapidly, while Greenfield airports are coming up at several places in the country like Goa , Navi Mumbai and other places.last_img read more

TIRUN announces roadshows to announce Royal Caribbean Internationals Singapore cruises

first_imgTIRUN Travel marketing, the exclusive India representative of Royal Caribbean International, announced the upcoming Singapore cruise season. This year, the international cruise liner has dedicated two of its favourite ships, the Quantum of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas, anchored at the Singapore bay to offer guests ultimate vacation experience. To attract the attention of Indian Trade, TIRUN will also be organising roadshows across Kochi, Indore, Raipur, Ahmedabad, Aurangabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Pune, Chandigarh, Nagpur, Ludhiana, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Jaipur from August till September this year.Voyager of the Seas, the lead ship in the Voyager class of ships has been recently reimagined at a whopping cost of USD 97 million, adding an array of features and amenities for thrills and chills. The ships feature high-octane adventure rides such as The Perfect Storm Waterslides duo, family-focussed entertainment options such as the newly launched Battle for Planet Z Laser tag game. The ship also promises marvellous getaways and fun activities, Vitality Spa and Fitness centre, a nursery for tiny tots and a plethora of dining options. It will be cruising through the South Pacific waters from October 21 – November 11 on a three-night and four-night cruise from Singapore to Malaysia and Thailand.Coming to the South-Pacific waters simultaneously is Quantum of the Seas, the largest and most revolutionary ship in Singapore that promises Quantum Leap Adventure. The 18-decked behemoth can accommodate 4,900 guests and will sail across Malaysia and Thailand from November 21, 2019 till April 26, 2020. Itineraries include four-night cruises to Penang or Phuket, five-night cruises to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket, a seven-night cruise to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket and a seven-night cruise to Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.The central highlights and attractions of this smart ship includes the ‘North Star’, an observation capsule that ascends 92 metres above sea level, ‘Two70’ – a consummate hi-tech entertainment venue, real cocktails served by robots at the quirky and peerless ‘Bionic Bar’, skydiving and surfing experiences and ‘SeaPlex’, the largest indoor activity space at sea – that boasts of a basketball court, roller-skating, bumper cars and more. The ship also houses 18 restaurant venues with cuisines from around the globe, a real gastronomical delight.Continuing its legacy of gracing its kitchens with the world’s best chefs, Royal Caribbean International has roped in prominent celebrity chef Ranveer Brar, who has curated a most wonderful menu centred on the diversity and richness of Indian cuisine. The menu has been specially designed for the Indian palettes which give a glimpse into the rich gastronomical culture of India to guests from all over the world and bring a sense of nostalgia to the Indian guests on-board.Varun Chadha, CEO, TIRUN Travel Marketing said, “Singapore is a popular destination for Indians and for coming cruising months, Royal Caribbean International has deployed the Quantum of the Seas and the soon to be revitalised Voyager of the Seas, to ensure an even better cruising experience for our guests. The ships themselves epitomise the highest standards of comfort, service quality and are packed with many first adventures on the high seas. We are excited to share these experiences with many more Indian in the coming months.”Guests travelling on these cruises with TIRUN are further guaranteed of massive savings with TIRUN’s FLY+CRUISE package offered in collaboration with Singapore Airlines. The package offers guests combined deals on flight tickets to Singapore along with the cruise ticket fee at unbelievable prices.last_img read more

Columbia Professors Propose Refi Boom for Recovery

first_imgColumbia Professors Propose Refi Boom for Recovery Agents & Brokers First-Time Homebuyers Home Prices Home Sales Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Processing Refinance Service Providers 2011-08-18 Ryan Schuette in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing If two professors at “”Columbia Business School””: have anything to say about it, 30 million homeowners across the country would refinance their mortgages ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and stabilize the lagging housing market in the process. The duo recently proposed the refi boom in a “”paper””: that aimed to prop up sagging home prices and accelerate job growth nationally.[IMAGE]The academes, R. Glenn Hubbard and Chris Mayer, come at the issue with the weight of their credentials. The former heads up Columbia Business as dean, while Mayer serves as professor of finance and economics as well as senior vice chair at the prestigious school. Hubbard also once chaired President George W. Bush’s “”Council of Economic Advisors””: and served as a deputy assistant secretary at the “”Treasury Department””: to their paper, Hubbard and Mayer would ask the federal government to “”take action to return mortgage rates to what they would otherwise be if the mortgage market were functioning normally,”” as reflected by 10-year Treasury rates some 160 basis points below normal. The two add that “”policy makers would help address refinancing problems for owners with negative equity by engaging in sharing equity write-offs with lenders,”” given that “”the government and taxpayers have an enormously strong incentive to address the housing market├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬ª [with] the economy├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬ª unlikely to stop declining until the housing market stabilizes.””And the meat of their suggestions?[COLUMN_BREAK]Hubbard and Mayer recommend drawing down mortgage rates by some one percent for borrowers with federally insured loans who are in good standing. The refis, they say, would boost home prices by 10 percent to 17 percent nationally. The authors contend that “”lower mortgage rates would allow many homeowners to refinance their mortgages at more normal spreads and… improve affordability for potential new home buyers.””The professors argue that their refi plan would inject $118 billion into the broader economy on an annual basis. Their stimulus plan would substantively size down negative equity, allowing 20 million Americans to reach more affordable rates with the refinance measures. Notably, only homeowners able to stay current on their payments could apply to participate in their refi plan.””The typical borrower would save over $350 per month and many might be able to get out from under troubled and complicated negative amoritization and adjustable-rate mortgages,”” the authors wrote.The tradeoff? Bond holders would take a $121 billion hit as Uncle Sam wipes his hands of more government-backed mortgages.Hubbard and Mayer nonetheless contend that the refi boost would help employ more people and sustain job mobility, thereby repairing inefficiencies in the economy at large and returning the cost of transactions in the housing market to normal.In much of the paper, Hubbard and Mayer base their proposals on correlative research about economic growth in the housing sector, with the U.S., Japan, and other industrialized countries reflecting home price and sale strains in the wake of the financial crisis.The professors conclude their policy plan with a call to action over chronically low house prices and banking-sector losses, the victims of skyrocketing mortgage market spreads.””Whether the details of our proposal are adopted, or policymakers consider other options, it is imperative to restart the effective normal functioning of the mortgage market,”” the two wrote. “”Without strong policy action, the problems in the housing market will just get worse with appreciable consequences for all Americans.””center_img August 18, 2011 435 Views Sharelast_img read more