China leaders brings a new affability to the job

first_imgAssociated PressBEIJING (AP) – In his travels abroad, Xi Jinping has often been something unusual for a Chinese communist leader: an ordinary guy.In Ireland, he stopped at a stadium to kick a soccer ball around. On a key getting-to-know-you visit to the U.S., he took several hours to visit with Midwestern families who had hosted him more than a quarter-century before. While visiting with schoolchildren in Los Angeles, Xi talked of his love of sports and films and about how finding personal family time was “mission impossible.” “He created lots of jobs and lots of revenue for Zhengding back when there was very little here,” said Liang Qiang, a senior caretaker at the film set, which still draws tourists.Xi’s elite background plugged him into a web of personal connections that were especially important early in his career, ensuring support from Beijing for local projects. At the same time, his years in the provinces protect him from accusations of pure nepotism and lend him credibility as someone who understands the struggles of working Chinese and private businessmen who are creating the bulk of new jobs.With help from his father, Xi jumped in 1985 to a vice mayorship in the port of Xiamen, then at the forefront of economic reforms. Over the next 17 years, he built a reputation for attracting investment and eschewing the banqueting expected of Chinese officials. He hung a banner saying “Get it done” in a provincial office lobby.He later took the top position in neighboring Zhejiang province, a hotbed of private industry, a lively civil society, non-communist candidates for local assemblies and a thriving underground church movement. Xi was seen as allowing minor local administrative reforms, while not initiating any of them. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation How do cataracts affect your vision? Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “He’s not going to do anything to weaken party control, but at the least you can say he’s concerned with the lives of farmers and ordinary people,” said Li Baiguang, a human rights lawyer in Zhejiang at the time.Xi tried to dramatically reverse the government’s poor reputation for accountability by clearing a backlog of citizen complaints in a one-day blitz in the city of Quzhou. He set up 15 temporary offices to address complaints over land seizures, job benefits and other issues, drawing 300 petitioners and resolving 70 cases.Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson once called him a “guy who really knows how to get over the goal line.”After a brief spell in charge of Shanghai, Xi was brought to Beijing and handed the high-profile task of overseeing the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has also managed relations with the former British colony of Hong Kong.Xi’s career has been lent a touch of glamour by his wife, folk singer Peng Liyuan, who for much of their marriage was far better known than he was. His daughter Xi Mingze studies at Harvard University.Xi showed a human side during an official visit to the U.S. earlier this year. He took in a Los Angeles Lakers game, visited the Iowa families who hosted him back in 1985 and chatted with California school children about his hobbies and family life. Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories “Knives are sharpened on the stone. People are refined through hardship,” Xi said in a rare 2001 interview with a Chinese magazine. “Whenever I later encountered trouble, I’d just think of how hard it had been to get things done back then and nothing would then seem difficult.”Rejected for Communist Party membership nine times due to his father’s political problems, Xi finally gained entry in 1974 and then attended the elite Tsinghua University.Xi went on to earn a chemistry degree, by which time Mao had died and his father had been restored to office. Xi next secured a plum position as secretary to Defense Minister Geng Biao, one of his father’s old comrades.But Xi took the unusual step three years later of jumping to a lowly post in rural Hebei province, because he wanted to “struggle, work hard, and really take on something big,” Xi told Elite Youth magazine’s now-deceased editor Yang Xiaohuai.Xi landed in the rural town of Zhengding, where people traveled by horse cart.While there, he made the most of state broadcaster China Central Television’s plans to film an adaptation of the classical Chinese novel “Dream of Red Mansions.” Hoping to create a tourist attraction, Xi built a full-scale reproduction of the sprawling estate at the heart of the tale. Comments   Share   And even Thursday in the Great Hall of the People, when he was introduced as the Chinese Communist Party’s new secretary general, the most powerful man in the world’s most populous nation showed some humility. He apologized to the media for running 45 minutes late.Xi has an ease and affability that have been lacking from China’s leader of the last 10 years, Hu Jintao, though it’s unclear whether that will make him a stronger force for change. He is first among equals in Beijing’s new seven-member collective leadership.“It’s the people who have created history, and it is the people who are true heroes. The people are the source of our strength,” Xi told reporters packed into a meeting room at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.Tall, heavyset and married to a popular folk singer in the military, Xi’s demeanor contrasts with China’s typically stiff and aloof leaders.“He’s someone who you can connect with,” former U.S. ambassador to Beijing Jon Huntsman said.A Xi administration is expected to pursue a more forceful foreign policy based on Beijing’s belief that its chief rival, Washington, is in decline and that China’s rise to global pre-eminence is within reach. The new leader will confront daunting challenges. After two decades of fast-paced growth and social change, the economy is slowing and China is under strain. A polarizing gap has left a few wealthy and many struggling and resentful. Rampant corruption is corroding already low reserves of public trust.Beyond home, China is locked in sharp elbowing over territory with Japan and Southeast Asian neighbors. At the same time, Beijing feels hemmed in by the U.S., which is shoring up ties with countries on China’s edge.Xi’s resume in provincial posts suggest he is open to private industry and some administrative reforms as long as they don’t jeopardize the Communist Party’s monopoly on power. Some evidence of a strong nationalist streak emerged recently when he lectured U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on China’s territorial dispute with Japan.“China’s neighbors, including the U.S., should be prepared to see a Chinese government under Xi being more assertive than that under Hu,” said Steve Tsang, director of the China Police Research Institute at Britain’s University of Nottingham.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help “Xi was chosen in part because he has the large, assertive, confident personality to lead in that kind of strategy,” said Andrew Nathan, an expert on Chinese politics at New York’s Columbia University.It is in the nature of China’s politics that relatively little is known about Xi’s policy leanings. He is not associated with any bold reforms. Aspiring officials get promoted by encouraging economic growth, tamping down social unrest and toeing the line set by Beijing, not through charismatic displays of initiative.Xi has excelled at quietly rising through the ranks by making the most of two facets: He has an elite, educated background with links to communist China’s founding fathers that are a crucial advantage in the country’s politics, and at the same time he has successfully cultivated a common-man mystique that helps him appeal to a broad constituency.He was sent to a rural hinterland at age 15 to learn peasant virtues after his father fell out of favor with Mao Zedong. At first he tried to escape, but was detained.His seven years in the remote northern community of Liangjiahe meant toiling alongside villagers by day and sleeping on bricks by night, in stark contrast to his pampered early years in Beijing. He spent much of his youth living in a dug-out cave.last_img read more

US military bumps up threat level at bases in North America

first_img 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Army Col. Steve Warren says the increase was not triggered by a specific event. He says it was due to a generally heightened threat environment, which would include the recent terror threat and attempted attack surrounding a provocative cartoon contest in Texas.The alert level was approved by Adm. Bill Gortney, head of U.S. Northern Command.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military has increased the threat level at bases across North America. Officials say the incremental boost will likely mean heightened vigilance and more random bag or vehicle checks.The baseline level went from A to B, although most military installations — including the Pentagon — were already at a slightly higher level of protection than level A. There are four levels, A through D. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   last_img read more

Court sentences Egypts Mubarak sons to 3 years in prison

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Four benefits of having a wireless security system Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories Comments   Share   Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Mubarak’s elected successor, was himself overthrown by the military, led by el-Sissi, in 2013 after mass protests against his divisive rule. Saturday’s hearing, a session of the Cairo Criminal Court held at the academy, took place in the same courtroom where Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in prison last month for using force against protesters.Prosecutors last week filed an appeal against Mubarak’s acquittal in the case involving the killing of protesters. An appeals court will decide on June 4 on whether to order a retrial.After Saturday’s session, Mubarak supporter Mohamed Saadawi, whose group organizes demonstrations praising him under the banner “We are sorry, Mr. President,” denounced the verdict and accused el-Sissi of interference with the judiciary.“It’s politics and it’s very sad. I keep telling Egyptians that el-Sissi hates Mubarak,” he said outside the courthouse. “Mubarak for me is a hero.”___Associated Press writers Merrit Kennedy and Maamoun Youssef contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. CAIRO (AP) — A Cairo court sentenced Egypt’s deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to three years in prison on corruption charges on Saturday — a punishment that authorities may deem as having already been served but one which, if it withstands appeal, would officially establish Mubark as a convicted criminal years after the 2011 popular uprising that toppled him.The case — dubbed the “presidential palaces” affair by the Egyptian media — was a retrial charging that Mubarak and sons embezzled millions of dollars’ worth of state funds over the course of a decade, diverting money meant to pay for renovating and maintaining presidential palaces to instead upgrade their private residences. Mubarak returned to the military hospital in Cairo where he’s been held amid his trials. Officials said his two sons were taken to Torah Prison as authorities determine whether their time served in detention would cover for the sentences Saturday. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak to journalists.Many Egyptians view Gamal, Mubarak’s one-time heir apparent, and his brother Alaa, a wealthy businessman, as key symbols of an autocratic and corrupt administration that struck an alliance with the mega-wealthy at the expense of the poor. Although father and son repeatedly denied any plans to have Gamal ascend to the presidency, that perception, along with endemic corruption, police brutality and poverty, fueled the 2011 revolt.Images of Gamal making public appearances have circulated on social media, first at a funeral last month and then last weekend with his family at the Giza pyramids. Amid the turmoil that followed the revolution, nostalgia over the relative stability of the Mubarak-era has been growing in Egypt.The rise of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who has vowed stability after four years of unrest and taken a tough line against dissent, has encouraged Mubarak supporters and upended the public perception and media depiction of the 2011 uprising. Political activists of all stripes are now most often cast as troublemakers or foreign agents, and hundreds of the young activists who sparked the 2011 revolt are now either languishing in prison on charges of breaking a harsh new protest law or have left the country.center_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Quick workouts for men How men can have a healthy 2019 Mubarak had originally been sentenced to three years over the matter, and his sons to four, but they later appealed, sparking the retrial. As Egypt’s political tides shifted in the wake of his overthrow, he had been convicted of bearing responsibility for the deaths of protesters but was later acquitted, although that ruling now faces an appeal by prosecutors.Inside the courtroom at a sprawling, locked-down police academy on the outskirts of Cairo, a dozen Mubarak supporters shouted in anger as Judge Hassan Hassanin announced his verdict, standing up on benches and pumping their fists into the air. The three defendants stood in a courtroom cage soundproofed with a glass enclosure.“We believe in you! We trust Mubarak!” supporters yelled, as some women began crying. Others wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the former leader’s face waved and blew kisses when the 87-year-old entered the courtroom. A seated, suited Mubarak, wearing sunglasses and flanked by sons Gamal and Alaa, had no visible reaction to the verdict, which their lawyers say can be appealed.The sentencing included a 125 million Egyptian pound ($16.3 million) fine to be paid among the three men, as well as the return of 21 million Egyptian pounds ($2.7 million) they embezzled. After the hearing, judicial and security officials said those amounts had already been paid by the Mubaraks following their first trial. Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

Flag dispute sparks divisions mistrust in Syria opposition

first_img BEIRUT (AP) — The divisions and mistrust that have long plagued Syria’s rebellion against President Bashar Assad erupted once more on Tuesday — this time over the flag.The dispute was sparked by a press conference in Istanbul by the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition group in exile, when its leader Khaled Khoja decided not to display the flag that for the past four years many have adopted as the symbol of their revolt against Assad — a green, white and black flag with three red stars in the center. “There was no intended denial or offense to any Syrian flag. But I am afraid there are some who want to obstruct any national act that aims to unite and save Syria from collapsing,” he wrote.The opposition Orient TV lashed out at Hussein, accusing him of being a latent regime supporter who, as an Alawite, incites sectarianism and is trying to co-opt the opposition. “He is (daring to) correct Khoja, correct even the revolution,” the broadcaster said.Khoja later tweeted that “the revolution flag” is a source of pride to him. “I look to the day that all forces and factions of the revolution adopt it.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Parents, stop beating yourself up Top Stories But the flag controversy overshadowed the diplomacy.The flag adopted by many in the opposition was first used by Syria when it became a republic during the French colonial mandate in 1930 and when the French left and full independence was gained in 1946. It was replaced by the current flag in 1958, when Syria was briefly unified with Egypt in the United Arab Republic.The Local Coordination Committees said the “independence flag” represents “a new era of democracy, freedom and dignity” and a break with Assad’s era. It added that it was used to wrap many of those killed in the civil war.But just as Syria’s civil war has taken on bitter sectarian overtones, so have the flags. Syria’s rebels are largely from its Sunni Muslim majority. Assad is a member of the member of the Alawite religious minority, which strongly backs his rule as do other minorities, fearing a Sunni takeover. To them, the official flag is a symbol less of Assad’s ruling Baath Party than of secular nationalism.In a post on his Facebook page after the outrage, Hussein said he had proposed that both flags be raised at the conference to ensure the opposition is inclusive, even of allies who are “silent or afraid.” But since no official flag was available in Istanbul, neither was put on display, he said. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories He did so at the request of Louay Hussein, an opposition figure who only recently left Syria into exile. Hussein argued that just displaying the flag would be divisive. He said either the official Syrian flag — which is red, white and black with two green stars in the center — should also be shown at the gathering or neither should. Many in the opposition consider the official flag to be the symbol of Assad’s rule, a claim Hussein countered.“It is not the flag of the regime. We shouldn’t throw it to the regime,” Hussein said during the conference Monday, standing next to Khoja.Activists vented their outrage at Khoja for agreeing to the request and denounced Hussein.“We find in it an unforgivable insult to the revolution,” the Local Coordination Committees, an anti-Assad activist group, said in a statement. It compared Khoja’s decision to the way Assad supporters tromp on the flag — or the way Islamic extremists tear it apart. Militants reject both flags, flying a black banner instead.The press conference was held to announce that the National Coalition and Hussein’s political party will not attend low-level consultations hosted by the U.N. envoy in Geneva in hopes of restarting peace talks. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist FILE – In this Friday, March 2, 2012 file photo, men hold revolutionary Syrian flags during an anti-government protest in a town in northern Syria. A dispute erupted on Tuesday, May 12, 2015, among the Syrian opposition after a press conference where the Khaled Khoja, leader of the Syrian National Coalition, decided not to display the flag that for the past four years many have adopted as the symbol of their rebellion – a green, white and black flag with three red stars – after another opposition figure argued it was divisive. The official Syrian flag is red, white and black with two green stars in the center. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)last_img read more

Finland picks populist EUskeptic as new foreign minister

first_img 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Quick workouts for men Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sipila said the main task of the next government is to revive the ailing economy in the midst of a three-year recession. That will involve “huge and painful measures,” including savings and structural reforms amounting to 10 billion euros ($11 billion), with welfare cuts of 4 billion euros by 2019, he said.Timo Soini, the outspoken chairman of the Finns Party that came second in the April 17 vote, has been known for voicing strong opposition to bailouts and advocating the ouster of Greece from the eurozone, but appeared to tone down the rhetoric Wednesday.“Finland will promote international stability, peace, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and equality,” he told reporters, adding that the Nordic countries, EU and NATO will “form the framework for Finland’s international cooperation.”Sipila said the three men had agreed on the coalition’s policy lines and now it was up to their parties to approve the package before he forms the government in the coming days.The 54-year-old self-effacing former businessman, who entered politics four years ago, faces a delicate balancing act between Stubb’s staunchly pro-European conservative National Coalition Party and Soini’s anti-establishment party that could demand anti-EU policies and smaller welfare cuts. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Party officials were scheduled to discuss the new government’s policy proposals later Wednesday.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. HELSINKI (AP) — Finland’s next prime minister Juha Sipila said Wednesday that he has chosen the head of the populist, anti-bailout Finns Party to be foreign minister in a new three-member ruling coalition, the first time the maverick EU-skeptic party is in the government.Sipila, who started sounding out a new government after his Center Party won parliamentary elections last month, chose the current conservative Prime Minister Alexander Stubb to be the country’s new finance minister. Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

Kurdish fighters in Syria on the march against IS militants

first_img Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility “Warplanes are not enough to liberate a region, but without the air force it will be more difficult,” said Haj Mansour. “The push won’t be as easy and fast.”The Kurds are now closing in on Tel Abyad with fighters moving east from Kobani and west from Hassakeh — an offensive that, if successful, would open a direct line between Kurdish-controlled territory along the border with Turkey.Such a move is likely to anger Turkey, which sees the YPG as part of the Kurdish PKK movement that has waged an anti-government insurgency in southeastern Turkey.“Tel Abyad is going to be the next target. We want to strangle Daesh,” said Nawaf Khalil, a Kurdish official who currently heads the Europe-based Center for Kurdish Studies, using an Arabic acronym for IS.The latest village to fall was Mabrouka on Tuesday, bringing the Kurdish force closer to Tel Abyad. The fighting has killed 532 Islamic State militants, the YPG said.The Kurds are backed by Arab tribesmen, Assyrian Christian gunmen and members of the rebel faction known as Burkan al-Furat — Arabic for the “Volcano of the Euphrates.”U.S.-led coalition airstrikes have concentrated on areas around Kobani and Hassakeh, only rarely hitting Raqqa or other Islamic State-held areas in the Aleppo countryside. “The YPG is quite ideological, while the Syrian and Iraqi army aren’t very well motivated,” van Wilgenburg added.The Iraqi military has struggled to make gains after its humiliating defeats last year, when it virtually crumbled in the face of the militant onslaught in northern Iraq. Poor training, corruption and sectarian politics have all been cited as reasons for the military’s shortcomings. The U.S. spent billions of dollars training Iraqi forces from 2003 to 2011, but much of that training did not reach the foot soldiers battling the Islamic State group today.Last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter criticized the Iraqi army following the fall of Ramadi, the strategic capital of the country’s largest Sunni province of Anbar, saying the Iraqi military lacked the “will to fight.”Within days, IS fighters had also dealt a major blow to Assad’s forces in Syria, seizing the historic city of Palmyra, a major crossroads linking the capital, Damascus, with territory to the east and west. In images reminiscent of the Iraqi defeat in Ramadi, Syrian soldiers fled the city, leaving behind tanks and ammunition.By contrast, Syria’s Kurds have shown remarkable cohesiveness. Spurred by ideology and nationalistic fervor, they fought ferociously to claw back territory after Islamic State militants captured the Kurdish town of Kobani and dozens of surrounding villages last fall. The IS descent on Kobani led the U.S. to widen its air campaign from Iraq into Syria to assist the Kurds. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology But in mid-May activists said the U.S.-led coalition dropped leaflets on Raqqa with this warning in Arabic: “We killed many of your commanders and fighters. We can carry out raids against you anytime and anywhere, and you don’t have the power to stop us and we will not stop.”“There is no doubt that the liberation of Tel Abyad, will be the pass for the liberation of Raqqa,” said Idriss Naasan, a Kurdish official in Kobani.The Islamic State group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, indicated as much in an audio message released earlier this month.“The battle of Raqqa will come before the battle of Mosul,” he said, referring to the Islamic State’s stronghold in Iraq, which Iraqi forces have been preparing a major offensive to try to retake.___Associated Press writer Vivian Salama in Baghdad contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. BEIRUT (AP) — In contrast to the Iraqi army’s failures, Kurdish fighters in Syria are on the march against the Islamic State group, capturing towns and villages in an oil-rich swath of the country’s northeast under the cover of U.S.-led airstrikes.As the Kurds close in on Tel Abyad, a major commercial center on the Turkish border, their advance highlights the decisive importance of combining airstrikes with the presence of a cohesive and motivated ally on the ground — so clearly absent in Iraq. Despite the fact that IS had heavy weapons and far more fighters, the Kurds resisted the offensive on Kobani, conducting fierce street battles until the U.S. air-dropped weapons and intensified the airstrikes.In January, the YPG liberated Kobani from the Islamic State militants and began a wide offensive in which they regained much of the territory they had lost.On May 6, the Kurdish fighters and their allies launched an offensive from the northeastern province of Hassakeh and in less than three weeks captured the strategic Abdul-Aziz Mountain along with 221 Kurdish and Christian villages that were held by IS.The mountain had been a key militant base for sending vehicles rigged with explosives into Kurdish areas, said Ghalia Nehme, a member of the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units.“The airstrikes were a major help for the fast advance,” Nehme said, adding that 425 square miles (1,100 square kilometers) were taken from IS over the past three weeks alone.Nasser Haj Mansour, a defense official in Syria’s Kurdish region, said the YPG is in close contact with the U.S.-led coalition and sometimes asks for airstrikes targeting IS positions after its fighters locate them. Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies In this photo released on May 20, 2015, provided by the Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Kurdish fighters of the YPG, flash victory signs as they sit on their pickup on their way to battle against the Islamic State, near Kezwan mountain, northeast Syria. In contrast to the failures of the Iraqi army, in Syria Kurdish fighters are on the march against the Islamic State group, capturing towns and villages in an oil-rich swath of the country’s northeast in recent days, under the cover of U.S.-led airstrikes. (The Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units via AP) In Syria, a country now split mostly between al-Qaida-style militants and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, the U.S. has found a reliable partner in the country’s main Kurdish fighting force, known as the YPG. They are moderate, mostly secular fighters, driven by revolutionary fervor and deep conviction in their cause.Since the beginning of May, they have wrested back more than 200 Kurdish and Christian towns in northeastern Syria, as well as strategic mountains seized earlier by IS. Along the way, they have picked up ammunition, weapons and vehicles left behind by Islamic State fighters.The push has gotten them closer to Tel Abyad, a major avenue for commerce for the extremist group through which it smuggles foreign fighters and sells black-market oil to help fund its conquests. The city is also a key link between Turkey and the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s de-facto capital in its self-declared caliphate.“The YPG doesn’t lack a will to fight, like soldiers in the Syrian army, or soldiers in the Iraqi army who mostly fight for a salary,” said Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a Middle East analyst at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington. “The YPG is much more motivated than other forces in the region, and doesn’t lack cohesion and doesn’t have coordination problems.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Men’s health affects baby’s health too 4 must play golf courses in Arizonalast_img read more

Business as usual at SAfrican lion park after fatal attack

first_img 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Despite a fatal lion attack the previous day, business ran pretty much as usual on Tuesday at the Lion Park north of Johannesburg, and visitors were driving through with all their windows rolled up.An American woman — still unidentified — was killed by a lioness Monday when the animal attacked her through a car window. The car’s windows were open, contrary to park rules, park management said. Scott Simpson, assistant operations manager at the Lion Park, said Tuesday that it is “operating as usual” except the area where the attack occurred has been closed off. At the entrance, tour guides and private operators shepherded dozens of visitors into the park, driving minibus taxis and safari vans covered in wire mesh.He said the park was investigating the attack.The driver of the car, believed to be a local tour operator, remained hospitalized for injuries suffered when he tried to get the lion off his passenger.The attacking lioness will not be euthanized, but will be moved to another property owned by the park away from tourists, said Simpson.Tumelo Tshoeu, who lives in South Africa’s capital Pretoria, surprised his girlfriend with a trip to the park for her birthday.“I didn’t want to come,” said Idah Mabula, saying she was fearful after hearing about the fatal attack, but felt at ease once she was on the tour.“As long as you follow the instructions, I think you’ll be OK,” said Tshoeu.Signs tell visitors to keep their windows up. Associated Press journalists visiting the park on Tuesday noted that everyone was obeying the rule. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories A man walks past warning signs at the Lion Park, near Johannesburg, Monday June 1, 2015 where a lion killed an American woman and injured a man driving through a private wildlife park a park official said. The attack occurred when a lioness approached the passenger side of the vehicle as the woman took photos and then lunged, said Scott Simpson, assistant operations manager at the Lion Park. (AP Photo) SOUTH AFRICA OUTcenter_img But sometimes there are visitors who don’t play it safe, Simpson said.“They think it’s Disneyland and that you can go play with the animal,” he said.—Associated Press reporter Nqobile Ntshangase contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 0 Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Senate OKs revised No Child education law compromise needed

first_imgThe Senate version would leave in place the law’s annual testing schedule. But, in a major shift, it would give states and districts more control over whether and how to use those tests to assess the performance of schools, teachers and students.The legislation, sponsored by Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, would prohibit the federal government from requiring or encouraging specific sets of academic standards, such as Common Core.Alexander called the bipartisan vote “remarkable” and said it sends a message to the many superintendents, teachers and parents who have told him that No Child needs to be overhauled.“We hear you, we know you want to end the confusion, end the anxiety and the feeling that you’re not in charge of your own children.”Sen. Murray said the legislation represents a “strong bill that all sides can be proud of.” But she suggested a tough battle ahead to merge the differing House-Senate bills. “Their bill really represents an unacceptable partisan approach,” she said, referring to the House bill.Education Secretary Arne Duncan offered cautious praise after Senate passage. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Check your body, save your life WASHINGTON (AP) — More than a decade after No Child Left Behind established a stronger federal role in public education, the Senate on Thursday approved a rewrite of the much-criticized education law that would return much of that power to the states.The 81-17 vote comes a week after the House passed its own rewrite and sets the stage for what could be contentious negotiations over the federal government’s influence in education policy. Sponsored Stories FILE – In this Jan. 21, 2015 file photo, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. listens to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington. The nation’s main education law, long overdue for an overhaul, is headed for a major revision in the Senate. Lawmakers plan to vote July 16 on a bipartisan bill to rewrite the Bush-era No Child Left Behind Act, a day after voting 86-12 to limit additional debate on further changes to the bill and move forward to a vote on final passage. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Top Stories The bill, he said, makes progress toward replacing No Child Left Behind, but “still falls short of truly giving every child a fair shot at success by failing to ensure that parents and children can count on local leaders to take action when students are struggling to learn.”Duncan and other Democrats wanted stronger accountability measures worked into the Senate bill, but an effort to do that failed Wednesday when lawmakers voted down an amendment that would have required states to identify the nation’s lowest-performing schools, and make sure the schools have turn-around plans for improvement.Much like the Alexander-Murray bill, the House legislation, sponsored by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., also lessens federal involvement in schools. It turns over power to the states to assess school performance and prevents the Department of Education from pushing Common Core or other standards on schools.But unlike the Senate bill, the House version allows federal money to follow low-income children to public schools of their choice, an issue known as portability. Democrats do not support it, and the Senate voted down the idea last week.Kline, who chairs the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said “there is a lot of work that lies ahead, but I am confident we will find common ground and send a bill to the president’s desk.” Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Earlier Thursday, senators rejected a series of amendments, including one from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a GOP presidential candidate, that would have eliminated federal testing mandates and given states more say in how students are assessed.Also defeated was a proposal championed by Democrats that would have expanded pre-K programs for children of low-and-moderate income families.No Child Left Behind had bipartisan support and was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002. It mandated annual testing in reading and math for students in grades three through eight and again in high school. Schools had to show student growth or face consequences such as cuts in funding.Critics complain there is too much testing and the law is too punitive on schools deemed to be failing.Congress has tried to update the law since it expired in 2007, though its mandates remained in place. The Obama administration began issuing waivers to dozens of states to get around some of the law’s strictest requirements when it became clear they would not be met.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Obamas unlikely Iran deal MVP Energy Secretary Moniz

first_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall “Moniz is speaking at a fairly high level of generality,” Albright said. “But the devil’s in the details.”Moniz’s role at the center of the deal began in February after Tehran informed Washington that Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s atomic energy chief, would be joining the next round of talks. Obama quickly settled on Moniz as a counterpart of Salehi. It turned out the two had something in common: they’d overlapped at MIT, where Moniz taught for decades and Salehi studied nuclear engineering.The two had never met at MIT, but immediately clicked after meeting on the shores of Lake Geneva, in Switzerland, officials said. A few days later, Moniz and Salehi opted to dine together at a hotel, trading stories about mutual colleagues from MIT. That broke the ice for others on the U.S. and Iranian teams to get acquainted away from the tense negotiating table.“He’s not one who’s very attached to protocol, and he very quickly was joking with the Iranians. The Iranians responded extremely well to that,” said Robert Malley, the senior director at the White House’s National Security Council and part of the U.S. negotiating team. “Over time, the Iranians learned that behind that appearance was someone who would fight fiercely for what he thought was in our interests.” How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation FILE – In this Sept. 22, 2014 file photo, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz speaks during the general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, at the International Center in Vienna, Austria. Moniz, the eccentric MIT professor-turned-U.S. Energy secretary, by all accounts played a pivotal role in reaching the historic nuclear accord. Now with his diplomatic legacy on the line, President Barack Obama is turning to Moniz to help sell the deal to a highly skeptical Congress. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File) WASHINGTON (AP) — As negotiators were grasping for a landmark nuclear deal, they hit a roadblock over Iran’s once-secret enrichment site at Fordo, a fortified bunker buried deep in a mountainside — potentially impervious to U.S. or Israeli airstrikes.The United States wanted the facility shuttered, but Iran’s supreme leader insisted no nuclear facilities would close. Then, an American nuclear physicist with an untamable mane of wiry gray hair came up with a compromise: Allow the Iranians to tell their hard-liners they were keeping Fordo, but convert it to a research facility whose centrifuges would churn out harmless medical isotopes instead of enriched uranium. Comments   Share   Ernest Moniz, the eccentric MIT professor-turned-U.S.-Energy-secretary, by all accounts played a pivotal role in reaching the historic nuclear accord. Now with his diplomatic legacy on the line, President Barack Obama is turning to Moniz to help sell the deal to a highly skeptical Congress.Moniz blitzed morning political talk shows on Sunday, making Obama’s case alongside Secretary of State John Kerry. This week, he’ll appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where doubts about the nuclear pact run high.In between, aides say, the secretary is squeezing in one-on-one briefings with lawmakers ahead of a likely congressional attempt to scuttle the deal. While juggling his “day job” running the Energy Department, he’s also lobbying foreign energy ministers who are similarly suspicious of the deal.“Secretary Moniz is an everyman scientist,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who has received multiple Iran briefings from Moniz. “He can translate those nuclear details in a way that even senators can understand.”Yet not everyone is content watching nuclear science watered down into talking points. David Albright, a former weapons inspector who runs the Institute for Science and International Security, said Moniz and his colleagues have been downplaying the deal’s vulnerabilities, such as that its enrichment restrictions sunset after 10 years, at which point Iran could race for a bomb.center_img “He was the only person at MIT at the time who was really serious about nuclear energy,” said Laughlin, a Nobel laureate. “It’s really a political hot-potato, so you’ve got to like that stuff. You have to be OK working with government constantly — even though it’s maddening.”___Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper, Matthew Lee and Barry Hatton contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Top Stories In Vienna, where negotiators spent much of June and July holed up in a hotel, Moniz developed a reputation as something of a bon vivant, with a quick wit, a chatty demeanor and an exacting palate when it came to his martinis.He was also the only negotiator to be knighted during the talks.Moniz, whose grandparents emigrated from Portugal, took a brief jaunt from Vienna to Lisbon to receive the Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry, one of Portugal’s highest distinctions. The talks were nearing an end, meaning Moniz would potentially miss the announcement of the deal and ensuing celebration. Although Moniz said he didn’t mind skipping it, his colleagues insisted, and he returned to Vienna less than 24 hours after he left.“He was very moved by it. He’s proud of his Portuguese heritage,” said Kevin Knobloch, Moniz’s chief of staff.Moniz, 70, was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, and received his doctorate at Stanford University before joining MIT’s physics faculty in 1973. He served in the Clinton administration as undersecretary of energy and a top White House aide.Robert Laughlin, who studied at MIT while Moniz was on faculty in the 1970s and now teaches physics at Stanford, said he’s not surprised Moniz ended up a player in high-stakes diplomacy. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Travellers at risk of contracting canecutters disease

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Canecutter’s disease is becoming a growing problem for travellers, according to research undertaken by the University of Queensland. Traditionally, the disease, which is known medically as leptospirosis, affects males working in the agricultural and livestock industries, as it is contracted from contact with the urine of host animals.  However, a team led by PhD researcher Dr Colleen Lau from the School of Population Health, have found that recreational exposure and international travel have emerged as increasingly important sources of infection over the past decade. “Many of the areas with a high incidence of leptospirosis are popular destinations for domestic and international travellers,” Dr Lau said. “With the increasing popularity of ecotourism and outdoor adventure activities, travellers are likely to become increasingly exposed through activities that involve contact with freshwater, soil and animals.” Leptospirosis causes influenza-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headache and jaundice but can lead to more serious illness including kidney failure, liver failure, lung haemorrhage, brain infections, and can occasionally be fatal. Called canecutter’s disease in Queensland due to the spread of the disease by canefield rats, the study, published in the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, has opened up a new way of looking at the spread of the disease. As an under-diagnosed cause of fever in travellers, Dr Lau and her co-authors, Professor Phil Weinstein and Lee Smythe, urged doctors to change their perceptions of the population at risk of contracting canecutter’s disease. “Early recognition, diagnosis, and treatment will reduce the incidence of severe illness and deaths,” she said. Known high-risk areas for canecutter’s disease include tropical and subtropical regions such as Queensland, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, parts of South East Asia and the Caribbean. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img read more

Aussies reminded to breathe in Alberta

first_imgTravel Alberta targets youthfully-spirited adventurers with its winter campaign in Alberta’s updated tourism brand. CNW Group-Travel Alberta Authentic experiences in breathtaking landscapes draw over 22 million visitors to Alberta each year. CNW Group-Travel Alberta Aiming to increase spending in the region by up to $1 billion by 2016, the Canadian province of Alberta released plans to target international tourists using a new marketing brand.Remember to Breathe unveiled late last month, was designed by the region’s leaders to promote the unique and authentic experiences and according to the Group’s chief executive Bruce Okabe, will help achieve the region’s tourist growth plans.“Alberta is blessed with so many real and memorable experiences in one of the most spectacular backdrops in the world and we are confident that we will raise awareness of Alberta with travellers around the world with the message ‘remember to breathe’ when you visit here,” Mr Okabe said.  Welcoming up to 22 million visitors per year, Minister of Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation said the new approach was created after coordinating with the industry and aligns with a previous brand campaign launched two years ago.Travel Alberta managing director Royce Chwin added ‘Remember to Breathe’ was selected because of its “powerful” connection to what makes the region “so attractive to the travellers”.”Travel experiences in every community throughout the province reflect that sentiment which millions of visitors enjoy every year,” Mr Chwin explained.”The brand promise speaks to the emotional connection that surprises a first time visitor and the feelings that keep travellers coming back to their favourite places in Alberta. “We know that it is an extremely attractive message for youthfully-spirited travellers.” Using television, cinema commercials, print advertising and social media, the first phase of the new brand will commence early this month, followed by a second phase roll-out in Australia from February 2012. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Travel Alberta targets youthfully-spirited adventurers with its winter campaign in Alberta’s updated tourism brand.last_img read more

Doctor Who celebrates 50th anniversary at Vivid Sydney

first_imgIn addition to the special projection on Customs House, Doctor Who fans will also be able to take in special cinema screenings at nearby Dendy Opera Quays, featuring two thrilling episodes from Series Seven Part 1: Asylum of the Daleks and The Angels Take Manhattan, which see the Doctor confront two of his most terrifying foes – the Daleks and the Weeping Angels – and say a heart-breaking farewell to his companions Amy and Rory Pond.  “This is a one-night only celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Dr Who, and sees Australian creative innovators, The Spinifex Group, working with the Doctor Who team to create projections that will deliver a show-stopping, unique birthday celebration for Dr Who’s legion of fans,” Mr Stoner said. Vivid Sydney is one of the signature events in the NSW Events Calendar developed by Destination NSW with the NSW Government as the major investor.  “Vivid Sydney is the perfect platform for this Anniversary celebration, which will see the Doctor projected 7m high onto one of the city’s most historic buildings. The Spinifex Group has done a tremendous job of creating a display which makes the most of Customs House’s amazing façade.” The Dr Who projections will be displayed at six intervals throughout the evening of Saturday June 1, featuring music from the TV show including I am the Doctor and the iconic theme tune. The first Doctor Who projection will be shown at 6.50pm, then 10 minutes to every hour until midnight. There will also be a competition encouraging fans to submit a picture of themselves dressed as their favourite Doctor Who character to win a fantastic prize pack of Doctor Who themed merchandise. Destination NSW CEO, Sandra Chipchase, said: “Our goal is to ensure Vivid Sydney surprises every year, and the 2013 program will certainly delight festivalgoers of all ages. The Doctor Who projections will entertain audiences ranging from dedicated science-fiction fans through to every family who has ever enjoyed an episode together.” Mr Stoner said that on Saturday 1 June, the grand façade of Customs House at Circular Quay will showcase an amazing visual feast of 3D-mapped projections of Doctor Who as he travels through space and time, pursued by some of his greatest enemies.center_img Sharon Wilson, Head of Marketing, Global Brands, BBC Worldwide Australia and New Zealand, said: “We are delighted to partner with Destination NSW and Vivid Sydney to bring this unique night of Doctor Who entertainment to life in Sydney. ?? NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Stoner, today announced Vivid Sydney 2013 will feature a spectacular celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the legendary BBC television program, Doctor Who. The projections will be interspersed with Move Your Building, an interactive projection produced by French design company Danny Rose, which will be beamed upon Customs House over the 18 nights of Vivid Sydney. Vivid Sydney – developed, owned and managed by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW – is an 18-day celebration of light, music and ideas. It is the biggest festival of its kind in the southern hemisphere and will take place in Sydney from 24 May to 10 June. Fans unable to travel to Sydney for the 50th Anniversary celebrations will still be able to join in the festivities at simultaneous screenings at 46 Dendy and Event cinemas around Australia and New Zealand. Source = Destination NSWlast_img read more

Vanuatu tradeshow postponed

first_imgTok Tok delayed until November 2013. Vanuatu’s 2013 Tok Tok tradeshow has been postponed until November. Air Vanuatu continues to operate its regular schedule with a smaller chartered aircraft but due to its limited capacity will not be able to meet the demand for Tok Tok this month. “Air Vanuatu regrets that this decision will cause disruption to the travel plans of many of our industry partners but we look forward to welcoming you on board our aircraft when the event takes place later in the year,” Air Vanuatu manager Floyd Smith said. Vanuatu’s premier annual trade event has been delayed because Air Vanuatu’s Boeing 737-800 aircraft is currently undergoing planned maintenance in Singapore. The Vanuatu Tourism Office is contacting all attendees to advise of the postponement. The tradeshow, which was originally scheduled to run from 27-30 August, will now take place on 12-15 November 2013.last_img read more

Victorias top hotels recognised by TAA

first_imgVictoria’s top hotels recognised by TAAVictoria’s top accommodation hotels have been recognised at the 2015 Tourism Accommodation Australia (Victoria) Awards for Excellence, with the winners announced at a gala dinner at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne on ;last night (Thursday 21 May, 2015).The dinner was attended by 500 accommodation providers and hospitality industry leaders from Tourism Victoria, City of Melbourne, Melbourne Airport, Victorian Major Events Company, Grand Prix Corporation, Melbourne Convention Bureau, Destination Melbourne, Opera Australia, The Arts Centre Melbourne, Public Transport Victoria, Melbourne Star and Melbourne Food & Wine Festival.The Honourable John Eren, Minister for Tourism and Major Events presented the prestigious TAA (Vic) award for “Outstanding Contribution to the Industry” and the “Hotel Industry Rising Star” award.The “Outstanding Contribution to the Industry” award recognises a sustained contribution by an accommodation provider or industry leader who has made a significant contribution to Victoria’s tourism and accommodation industries.The 2015 awardee was Mr Chris Woodruff, Chief Executive Officer Melbourne Airport.  In his 8 years as CEO, he has lead the business through a period of remarkable growth and success which has been one of the foundation blocks of Victoria’s tourism success in recent years.The 2015 awardee was the “Hotel Industry Rising Star” award to the Quality Hotel Bayside Geelong – Duty Manager and Guest Service Agent, Brandon Brown.Other winners honoured were:Accommodation Category Award Winners: Deluxe Accommodation Hotel of the Year – Crown Towers, MelbourneApartment/Suite Accommodation of the Year – Mantra on Russell, MelbourneSuperior Accommodation Hotel of the Year – Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens, MelbourneMid-Range Accommodation Hotel of the Year – ibis Styles Melbourne, The Victoria HotelBoutique Style Accommodation of the Year – Adelphi Hotel, MelbourneResort Style Accommodation of the Year – Wyndham Resort TorquayRegional Accommodation of the Year – Balgownie Estate Vineyard Retort and Spa, Yarra GlenSpecialty Category – Winners:Deluxe Restaurant of the Year – The Langham, Melbourne – MelbaHotel Restaurant (all day dining) of the Year – InterContinental Melbourne the Rialto – Alluvial RestaurantRegional Hotel Restaurant of the Year  – Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel, Hepburn Springs – The Argus Dining RoomBar of the Year – The Langham, Melbourne – ARIA Bar & LoungeIndividual Excellence – Winners:Administration Employee of the Year – The Langham Melbourne – Glen FergusonConcierge of the Year – Grand Hyatt Melbourne – Chris FitcherEngineer and Maintenance Employee of the Year  – Crowne Plaza Melbourne – Robin PowerFood & Beverage Services Employee of the Year – Stamford Plaza Melbourne – Ketan Seth and The Langham Melbourne – Martin FearnFront Office Services Employee of the Year – Crown Towers, Melbourne – Tom StewartHousekeeping Employee of the Year – PARKROYAL Melbourne Airport, Tullamarine – Christian TapiaHotel Industry Rising Star  – Quality Hotel Bayside Geelong – Brandon BrownSales & Marketing Employee of the Year – Rydges Melbourne – Joseph AncoraProperty Performance – Winners:·        Best Environmental & Energy Efficiency Practice – Quality Hotel Downtowner on Lygon, Carlton·        Best Marketed Accommodation Provider  – Grand Hyatt Melbourne·        Outstanding Achievement in Training – Grand Hyatt Melbourne·        Outstanding Community Service & Achievement – Melbourne Marriott HotelDarryl Washington, General Manager of TAA (Vic) praised the finalists, award-winners and individuals who were honoured.  “Melbourne and Victoria accommodation providers offer a world class and diverse selection of properties that cater well for our visitors.  The industry constantly strives to raise the bar and again this year, the nominated properties, and in particular those that have been honoured at the 2015 TAA (Vic) Accommodation Awards for Excellence emphasise this point.  Congratulations to finalists and in particular all winning accommodation providers.”Source = Tourism Accommodation Australialast_img read more

Thankyou partners with Quest Apartment Hotels

first_imgQuest CEO, Zed Sanjana with Thankyou co-founder and MD, Daniel FlynnOver one million bottles of Thankyou water will be distributed to Quest Apartment Hotel guests this year, launching the global consumer movement’s first accommodation partnership.Through the provision of bottled Thankyou water across all Australian properties, Quest Franchisees and guests will raise money for life changing projects in India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Timor Leste, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.For the next 12 months, guests will receive a complimentary bottle of Thankyou water at the beginning of their stay, and be encouraged to purchase additional bottles to support developing nations gaining access to clean water, food, health and sanitation facilities.Discussing the partnership with staff at Quest AbbotsfordAnnouncing the partnership, Quest CEO Zed Sanjana said it was the first national initiative of this type for the business, and the company was determined to support a program that would inspire and educate guests – with the potential to make a real difference.“We know that most of our guests have a strong social conscience, and would like to partner with us in making a positive difference in the world,” he said.“The majority of guests purchase water when they stay at our properties, and so the Thankyou water partnership made sense to us as a way to make a significant impact, simply by swapping our existing bottled water supplier to Thankyou.”With 7,500 rooms across Quest’s Australian properties, the company has estimated it is likely to provide donations from the sale of around 1.8 million bottles of water, impacting more than 2,000 people in developing nations.Thankyou co-founder and MD, Daniel Flynn is excited by Quest’s decision to stock Thankyou products.“This a huge win for Thankyou and our goal to eradicate global poverty. We love what Quest is about and what’s exciting is that in the first year of stocking Thankyou water in their hotels, Quest will fund an estimated 2000 people with access to safe water. We can’t wait to see that number grow and grow as our partnership continues into the future,” said Mr Flynn. Quest Apartment Hotels Source = Quest Apartment Hotelslast_img read more

Review Diamond Cliff Resort and Spa Phuket

first_imgDiamond Cliff Resort & Spa Diamond Cliff Resort & Spa [/su_gmap]Source = ETB Travel News: Brittney Levinson DiningDiamond Cliff boasts six distinct restaurants, giving guests plenty of dining options during their stay. I was able to try out the beach-side Diamond Hut Restaurant, which features a fresh, seafood menu complimented by a breathtaking view of the Patong coastline.Diamond Hut RestaurantHead down there for afternoon drinks and watch the sun set while devouring delicious Thai seafood. The Thai Orchid Restaurant was equally as satisfying, serving traditional Thai cuisine in a beautiful, Thai-style setting. If you’ve overdone it on the Thai food, you could try Korean food at Korean Hut, Italian at Franco Roma, Japanese at Kiko Japanese Restaurant or something more Western at Ocean View Coffee Shop.For a light and healthy snack, the resort also has its very own fruit shop, where guests can grab a basket and shop the shelves for fresh, Thai fruit.Facilities/ActivitiesThe resort offers a range of facilities and activities for guests of all ages to enjoy. During my stay, I tried my hand at Thai cooking in a class at Thai Orchid Restaurant. I was given my very own apron and chef’s hat before one of the resident chefs led me through a three-course menu. And the best part: I got to eat the finished product!While I was immersing myself in Thai culture, it was only fitting that I dressed up in Thai costume for a photoshoot. The photoshoot is another of the resort’s onsite activities, where guests can choose from a colourful assortment of traditional outfits and get dressed up to the nines for a personal photoshoot. It’s a fun experience by yourself, in a couple or as a family and the perfect memento of your stay at Diamond Cliff.As for facilities, the resort features two large swimming pools, a fully equipped gym and outdoor tennis court.ServiceAs you will find all over Thailand, the level of service and hospitality is first class and Diamond Cliff was no exception. Each time I entered the reception or passed a staff member on the grounds, I was warmly welcomed with a smile or offered assistance. The resort staff are also fluent in English, which is a bonus for those of us who can only manage a hello and thank you in Thai.As the resort is located on a cliff, walking to and from my room was a bit of a mission. But the staff were always ready with shuttle buses to help guests move quickly and safely around the resort. There was also a good security presence on site, especially at night, making me feel absolutely safe during my stay.Diamond Cliff Resort & Spa Newly refurbished roomsSpaThe Diamond Cliff Spa is truly a sanctuary. Lush greenery and tranquil ponds surround the private treatment rooms, some of which have their own Japanese-style onsen. I opted for a de-stressing aromatherapy massage, the perfect afternoon treat before my flight home that night.While the massage itself was absolute perfection, it was the hospitality and overall experience of the treatment that impressed me the most. The staff were gracious and welcoming, I was able to choose the oil that was used in the massage and I was served herbal tea before and after the treatment – tick, tick, tick.As well as traditional Thai massage, sports massage and reflexology, the Diamond Cliff Spa also offers cellulite treatments, after-sun treatments, facials, body wraps and body polishing. And all at reasonable prices – massages start at just 1,300 Thai Baht (around AU$50) and body treatments at 2,200 Thai Baht (around AU$80). Diamond Cliff Fruit Shop One Bedroom VillaReview: Diamond Cliff Resort and Spa, Phuket, ThailandPerched high among the hills of Patong, Diamond Cliff Resort and Spa is an authentic Thai resort that offers five star accommodation just minutes away from Patong City. While the resort exudes a romantic getaway vibe, I recently stopped in at Diamond Cliff for a solo stay to cap off a week-long trip to Thailand for TTM+ 2016.AccommodationOcean SuiteThe massive property, 18 acres to be exact, boasts 318 rooms, suites and villas, with accommodation types to suit almost every traveller. My Ocean Suite room, located in the Grand Wing, featured a stunning view of the Andaman Sea and the resort pool below. The 70 square-metre room felt incredibly spacious and I was super impressed by the size of the bathroom, which was complete with a separate toilet, shower, spa bath and plenty of storage.The style and décor of the room itself was a little worn and out-dated, however I had no cause for complaint considering a three-phase renovation of the entire resort is already underway. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the renovated rooms – take my word for it, they are deluxe. The new rooms are sleek, stylish and spacious, giving new life to the almost 30 year old hotel.Other room types include Super Deluxe, Junior Suite, Ocean Jacuzzi Suite, Romantic Suite, Grand Family Suite and Ladies Suite.But the real showstoppers within the resort are the luxurious Diamond Pool Villas. In one and two bedroom options, the villas are a massive 400 and 600 square-metres respectively and entirely self-contained, complete with an outdoor pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and full kitchen. You can even request to have your own personal cook, giving you absolutely no reason to leave your seaview haven at all. THAI – smooth as silkfly THAI to Phuket Tourism Authority of ThailandAmazing Thailand last_img read more

Do you let your age define your holiday

first_imgDo you let your age define your holiday? Fly ScootDo you let your age define your holiday?Most people it seems, travel to a destination that they think suits their age, and their travel is defined by their physical age, not their inner age, which according to a test done by Scoot, Singapore’s, young-at-heart low cost airline, these could be decades apart.But what if you could run a test to see what your inner age was, would you change your travel plans? Would seniors swap the bingo halls for zip-lining?Scoot decided to run this test on some “older” folks from Queensland and asked them questions like “Would you visit a zoo at midnight? Would you freefall for fun?  Would you like to spice up your love life?” Their answers surprised Scoot, and some of their partners!In 2011, residents aged 65 years or over accounted for 14.4% of the Gold Coast population (71,363 people). By 2031, the number of senior residents (aged over 65 years) is expected to increase by almost 2.2 times – accounting for over 20.2% of the city’s population.So, four willing Queensland “silver nomads” were selected to go and live-up their inner age in Singapore, and did all the exciting things they said they wanted to do, including indoor parachuting, zip-lining, and eating new and different foods at the world famous hawker centres.Scoot has now launched a new campaign to help Gold Coast seniors discover their inner age and then scoot to Singapore for an inner age-appropriate adventure.Just head to their facebook page and try it out, and anyone could win an inner age discount for their next flight to Singapore… plus an inner age appropriate itinerary of Singaporean activities. Whether it’s ziplining across Sentosa, or talking selfies with Supertrees, or chowing down on chilli crab, Singapore’s chockful of awesome, affordable and achievable experiences for the young-at-heart.Jacqueline Loh, Head of Marketing and Ancillaries for Scoot said,  “According to statistics people are living longer. More than a third of your life could be spent in retirement.  Scoot is encouraging the not so well travelled, or travel-shy people, in particular the older generations to live their inner age and visit Singapore, as its well earned reputation for efficiency, safety, fun and myriad activities is all there for them to enjoy.”With affordable airfares from $169.00 ex Gold Coast on sale from now until 2359 Dec 11, 2016 for travel from 13th Jan 2017 – 02 June 17 it is time to act your real age.But if you are an active Senior in another state don’t despair, Scoot is offering lead in fares from Perth to Singapore (economy, per way, including taxes) from $139 and from Sydney and Melbourne from $199  (economy, per way, including taxes). Fly Scootbook hereAbout ScootScoot™, the low-cost, medium-to-long haul arm of the Singapore Airlines Group managed by Budget Aviation Holdings, has carried over seven million guests since taking to the skies in June 2012. The world’s first all 787 Dreamliner fleet operates between Singapore and Sydney, Gold Coast, Bangkok, Taipei, Tokyo, Tianjin, Shenyang, Nanjing, Qingdao, Seoul, Hong Kong, Perth, Osaka, Kaohsiung, Hangzhou, Melbourne, Guangzhou, Jeddah, Chennai, Amritsar, Sapporo, Jaipur, and soon to Dalian and Athens. Scoot provides – in addition to fantastic value airfares – a safe, reliable and contemporary travel experience with a unique attitude – Scootitude™. Offering amenities including on-board Wi-Fi Internet connectivity and in-seat power as well as the ability to redeem and accrue Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, Scoot was voted 2015-16 Best Low Cost Airline (Asia/Pacific) by and ranked in the Top 10 of the World’s Best Low-Cost Airlines in 2015 by Skytrax. Scoot is passionate about changing the way people travel long distance. Book your tickets at or contact our Call Centre. Find out more on,, or Source = Fly Scootlast_img read more

MTA Members experience exclusive Mia Resort Vietnam study tour

first_imgMTA Members experience exclusive Mia Resort Vietnam study tourMTA Members experience exclusive Mia Resort Vietnam study tourFour MTA – Mobile Travel Agents Members have jumped at the opportunity to take part in an exclusive study tour of Vietnam to see for themselves just why the destination is attracting so many of their clients in 2017.The four Members – Fiona Snell, Jennifer McCullough, Jo Gonzalez and Dianne Russo  – visited Vietnam as guests of Mia Resorts Vietnam, staying at the company’s sister properties in Binh Thuan and Na Trang.These included the multi-award winning Mia Resort Mui Ne and Mia Resort Nha Trang.A busy program at both resorts included an in-depth opportunity to sample first-hand the many attractions both regions offer visitors.Experiences included a host of Mia Resort signature activities ranging from yoga and spa sessions to Vietnamese language lessons and going kitchen-side to learn how to cook the local cuisine.Pictured (from left to right) Fiona Snell, Jennifer McCullough, Jo Gonzalez and Dianne Russo.Source = Mike Parker-Brown – PR Consultant, MTA – Mobile Travel Agentslast_img read more

World Travel Tourism Council congratulates Mr Pololikashvili

first_imgWorld Travel & Tourism Council congratulates Mr PololikashviliGloria Guevara, President & CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) today congratulated HE Zurab Pololikashvili on his election to the role of Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).Speaking from Chengdu, China, at the UNWTO General Assembly, Ms Guevara said: “On behalf of WTTC and its Members I congratulate Mr Pololikashvili on his election to the role of Secretary General of UNWTO. It is a position of enormous importance to our sector and I look forward to working with him as he will take the organization to the next phase.The close collaboration between WTTC and UNWTO over the past eight years has resulted in a more unified and cohesive international Travel & Tourism sector, where understanding and cooperation between the public and private sectors has increased considerably. I look forward to continuing this path into the future, where together we highlight the importance of Travel & Tourism for the social and economic development of the world community.Ms Guevara added: “We are at a critical moment in the development of our sector, where ambitious growth targets need to satisfy not only economic but also environmental and social objectives. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders in the sector to work together to ensure that Travel & Tourism, which accounts for 10% of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs, continues to be a force for good in our world.”Source = The World Travel & Tourism Councillast_img read more

Brussels ready for the 2015 summer tourist season

first_imgBrussels is undoubtedly a region that is constantly on the go. And with the increasing number of visitors, the tourist offer is growing and becoming more professional each year. With tourist facilities, original guided visits and new visitor brochures, Brussels is ready for the new tourist summer.This summer season, ‘Brussels Helpers’ will be on hand in the centre of the European capital from 10:00 to 17:00 from 10 July to 23 August. The small chalets are located at strategic points around Brussels: the Central station, the Brussels stock exchange and, from this year, on Place de la Monnaie.Alongside that and all year long, professional tourist information facilities are available at offices. Staffed by multilingual agents, they offer tourists and locals advice on Brussels. There are four offices in Grand-Place, Bruxelles-Midi, and European Parliament which are open almost all year round.In addition to a personalised welcome, the information centres offer tourist literature for all kinds of visitors, as well as the possibility of reserving hotel rooms, shows, guided tours, etc. Brussels has many opportunities for discovery, whether accompanied by a professional guide, a local from Brussels or a scheduled or private tour. Discovery The City on the website brings together these different options.Also new are the free personalised walks around Brussels has included in its ‘Tales and Tours’ application. Available for download on Android or iOS Smartphones or tablets.Finally, a new website is born, especially put together for the summertime: The website features all the big events, festivals and the unmissable exhibitions of the summer, as well as information about the Brussels Card, hotel packages and even a contest to win 6 city trips in Brussels.last_img read more