Genetic study pins horse domestication to steppes

first_imgAssociated PressLONDON (AP) – A genetic study of horses across Eastern Europe and Central Asia has traced the domestication of one of man’s most powerful animal allies to wide-open grasslands shared by Ukraine, southwest Russia and Kazakhstan, researchers said Monday.Researchers generally date domestication to about 6,000 years ago, but genetic evidence taken from modern-day horses has suggested a wide variety of ancestors, raising the possibility that horses were tamed independently in several different places. Sponsored Stories Mark Thomas, a professor of evolutionary genetics at University College London who wasn’t involved with the research, said he believed the methodology was sound.The research, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was funded by Britain’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the German Academic Exchange Service, and the London-based Leverhulme Trust.___Online:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Satter can be reached at: Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories Comments   Share   The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family ErrorOK ErrorOK The University of Cambridge’s Vera Warmuth said she and her colleagues had used a combination of genetics and math to narrow down the origin of horse domestication to the “western Eurasian steppe” _ an area now shared by Kazhakstan, southwest Russia and Ukraine.The research followed 16 years of collecting hair samples from more than 300 horses in Russia, China, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Lithuania _ areas where horses were the first to be domesticated and weren’t too heavily bred.Warmuth said that fellow researchers took hair samples from “local village-type horses,” simple animals whose genetic profiles would be less likely to have been deformed by inbreeding or crossbreeding typical of their Western European cousins.She said the horses’ genetic profiles were compared to various scenarios plugged into established mathematical models that measure how populations spread and change over time.The results suggested that the wide diversity of horse DNA could be explained by the frequent breeding of domesticated male horses with wild mares brought in by early horseback riders because “breeding with existing stock was too slow,” Warmuth said, speculating that early societies might have used wild females “because they’re a bit more tractable.” (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementslast_img read more

Philippines oldest WWII veteran dies at 111

first_img Top Stories Fabros’ funeral was without fanfare and with no military honors. Except for a flag draped over his coffin, there was no indication he was a veteran, much less the country’s oldest, Gandalera said.Rivera said veterans’ administrator Ernesto Carolina offered full military honors for the funeral but that it was too late because Fabros had already been buried.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Fabros was a private in the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East in December 1942 when Japan invaded the Philippines, which was then a U.S. colony. He fought on the front lines during a three-month Japanese siege and blockade of Bataan province west of Manila, but escaped before the U.S.-led forces surrendered in April 1942.Gandalera said her father told stories of how he and his comrades would “squeeze their shirts to drink their sweat because of a lack of water and eat whatever leaves they could find” during the siege.The Japanese forced about 75,000 American and Filipino soldiers who surrendered to hike about 100 kilometers (63 miles) to a POW camp in the brutal Bataan Death March. Thousands died along the way and thousands more in the concentration camp in northern Tarlac province’s Capas township.Fabros joined guerrillas in Central Luzon, attacking Japanese troops until the end of the war in 1945. He was a rice farmer until the early 1970s.Gandalera said she met three of her father’s fellow veterans, including one who was 95, during ceremonies at Capas National Shrine in April when her father was given a plaque from the veterans’ affairs office recognizing “his wartime service and honorable performance of duties.” Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Associated PressMANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippines said Wednesday its oldest World War II veteran, who escaped from Japanese troops before the infamous Bataan Death March and became a guerrilla fighter, has died at age 111.Alfonso Fabros died Aug. 9 in northern Nueva Ecija province, said Jet Rivera, spokeswoman for the Philippine Veterans’ Affairs Office.Fabros’ daughter, Ella Gandalera, said her father, a farmer after the war, died of pneumonia. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Men’s health affects baby’s health too Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

Odd vehicle checked near US embassy in Brussels

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Sponsored Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   center_img 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.) New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like BRUSSELS (AP) – The area around the U.S. embassy in Brussels and the Belgian defense ministry was temporarily sealed off as bomb squad assessed a suspicious vehicle.A bomb squad moved in with a specialized robot and an expert in a bomb suit before the area was declared safe for traffic again. The alert was lifted by 3 PM (1300GMT) Wednesday afternoon and traffic started moving again around the two buildings.No specific details were immediately available. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daylast_img read more

Sandals Resorts to buy shuttered hotel in Grenada

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The resort is located on Pink Gin Beach and is currently closed. It was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and didn’t reopen until February 2008.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada (AP) – Sandals Resorts International is buying and reopening a four-star hotel that recently closed in the eastern Caribbean nation of Grenada.Jamaica-based Sandals founder Gordon Stewart says he will invest $100 million to convert the former La Source property of 100 rooms into a 265-room complex. He said late Thursday it will be renamed Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa. It’s scheduled to open in early 2013 and become the 14th Sandals resort in the Caribbean. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectcenter_img 0 Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

US quickly going through commanders in Afghan war

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories 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.) 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes In June, Allen traveled to eastern Logar province to personally deliver his regrets about a NATO airstrike that Afghan officials said killed 18 civilians.The events have shattered the Afghan people’s trust in America and have driven a dagger into the U.S.-led coalition’s hearts-and-minds campaign, which was already in decline after years of war. Coalition forces will still help bolster the Afghan government and security forces in the coming years, but Afghans increasingly believe America’s only mission is to leave as soon as it can.Allen also had to contend with a spike in insider attacks by Afghan forces, or insurgents in their uniforms, on their foreign allies and even on their Afghan colleagues. The attacks have raised questions about how effectively the allied forces can train the Afghans to take over security of their own country in 2014.The news about the Allen investigation broke in Kabul just a few hours after militants fired four rockets on the Afghan capital, killing one Afghan man and wounding three other people.Waheed Muzhda, a former foreign ministry official under the Taliban regime, said Petraeus’ affair is evidence that American civilization is crumbling. It was the first presidential dismissal of a wartime general since President Harry Truman ousted Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War.Obama replaced McKiernan with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who had a background in special operations and came in with a mandate to remake the war effort with the help of “surge” troops. But he lasted only 13 months.In June 2010, Rolling Stone published an article that quoted scathing remarks McChrystal and his aides made about their civilian bosses, including Vice President Joseph Biden, as fools who were ignorant of the complexities of war. Obama called McChrystal back to Washington to explain and forced him to resign.Gen. David Petraeus took over the Afghan command in July 2010 to fill the void left by McChrystal’s abrupt departure and agreed to serve for one year. He completed that term and then retired from the military to become CIA director in September 2011.Petraeus resigned as CIA director on Nov. 9 after he had an extramarital affair with his biographer. The affair came out as part of an FBI investigation into suspicious emails between the biographer and another woman.The current chief, Gen. John Allen, was appointed by Obama to oversee the drawdown of U.S. and international forces ahead of the planned transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan government in 2014. Pentagon officials said Tuesday that Allen, 58, is under investigation for thousands of alleged “inappropriate communications” with the second woman involved in the Petraeus case, a Florida socialite. Allen’s nomination to become the next commander of U.S. European Command and the commander of NATO forces in Europe has now been put on hold.Expecting Allen to be confirmed for his new post, Obama had already chosen Gen. Joseph Dunford succeed him. If confirmed, Dunford would be the 15th top commander there since 2002, a revolving door of generals that some analysts say is detrimental to the war effort.“Rotating top commanders on an annual basis makes no management sense,” Thomas E. Ricks, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, wrote in an opinion piece published Sunday in The New York Times. “Imagine trying to run a corporation by swapping the senior executives every year. Or imagine if, at the beginning of 1944, six months before D-Day, Gen. George C. Marshall, the Army chief of staff, told Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander, that it was time to give someone else a chance to lead.”When Petraeus took the helm as coalition commander on July 4, 2010, he proclaimed: “We are in this to win.” Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   Associated PressKABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – At the international military headquarters in Kabul, it’s jokingly being called the curse of the commander’s job.The last four U.S. generals to run the Afghan war were either forced to resign or saw their careers tainted by allegations of wrongdoing.The first, Gen. David McKiernan, was ousted on May 11, 2009, a year before his term as commander was set to end. Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates wanted McKiernan’s resignation as newly elected President Barack Obama launched a counterinsurgency strategy of working to undermine the Taliban’s pull on the population. Petraeus relied heavily on air strikes and night raids. But the emphasis on killing and capturing militants worked better than the other main part of the strategy, which was to clear the Taliban out of a particular territory, then focus on holding and developing it to win over the local Afghan population.Since he took charge, Allen has been confronted with a series of U.S. tragedies and missteps that have hindered the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, where militants, while weakened, continue to conduct their trademark suicide attacks and roadside bombings.A month after he assumed his command, insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter in eastern Afghanistan, killing 30 American troops and seven Afghan commandos and a translator. It was the single deadliest loss in the war.In January, a video purportedly showing American Marines laughing and urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters surfaced on the Web.In February, Muslim holy books were burned at a U.S. base north of Kabul. Obama called the incident a terrible mistake, but it triggered scores of anti-American protests across the country, leaving more than 30 Afghans and six U.S. soldiers dead.In March, a U.S. soldier allegedly went on a shooting rampage in two villages in southern Kandahar province, killing 16 villagers. “It is shameful for a military general with such a big name and authority to violate the rights of his wife,” Muzhda said. “These types of values are totally different from the values of Islam and our culture. … If this happens in our country, the punishment is stoning.”Mullah Maulvi Habibullah, a well-known Muslim cleric in Kabul, said the affair tarnishes the dignity of the CIA around the world.“Such immoral sexual relations take place in societies with no Islamic values,” he said. “The U.S. has no such authority or dignity to (say they want to) bring human rights and women’s rights to the world.”In neighboring Pakistan, Akhlaq Ahmad, who works at an electric company in the southern city of Karachi, said Pakistani officials could learn a lesson from Petraeus’ decision to resign.“In this matter, America proved to be on high moral ground and also proved that law and moral ethics apply to every citizen equally,” Ahmad said. “If we compare it with Pakistan we should be shameful and learn a lesson from this.”___Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn, Slobodan Lekic, Amir Shah and Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Robert Burns in Perth, Australia, Adil Jawad in Karachi, Pakistan, and Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan contributed to this report. Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

Iran condemns Israeli attack on Gaza Strip

first_imgTEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran has condemned Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip.Iranian state TV on Thursday quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as calling the Israeli bombardment of Gaza “organized terrorism.”Mehmanparast also said the silence of international organizations regarding Israel’s actions has encouraged the Jewish state to pursue more aggressive policies. He urged other countries to cut ties with Israel as a punitive measure. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Israel launched its military operation Wednesday with the assassination of Hamas’ top military commander in Gaza. It then pounded the seaside strip with a series of strikes from warplanes, tanks and naval gunboats. Israel warned that it could widen the offensive to include a ground attack.Iran is a close ally of Gaza’s Hamas rulers. Neither Hamas nor Iran recognizes Israel.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   4 must play golf courses in Arizona Top Stories Sponsored Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectlast_img read more

Pope signals Legion of Christ reform to continue

first_img The difference between men and women when it comes to pain (Copyright 2013 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 Comments   Share   ___Follow Nicole Winfield at Sponsored Stories He also urged all Legion priests to dedicate themselves to discerning their vocation “within the church and the world” _ a somewhat cryptic call that could be read as encouraging the priests to critically question whether they should remain in the order.“They were directed to reform; that’s what they say they’re doing,” said Genevieve Kinecke, a former Regnum Christi member who runs a popular blog helping former Legion priests and lay members who have left the order. She suggested the reform process had been cosmetic at best and never addressed the key question of the cult-like dynamic that created the problems in the first place.“They misled the church before, and that same duplicity is so deeply embedded in the congregation that they can proceed in no other way,” she said in an email.The Maciel scandal has been particularly damaging for the church given that he was held up by Pope John Paul II as a model for the faithful, admired for his perceived orthodoxy and his ability to bring in money and new seminarians.Since the scandal broke in 2009, the number of seminarians has dropped significantly, the Legion has closed schools and the number of priestly ordinations this year is expected to be well below the average of 40 the Legion has maintained for years. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Francis said these would be “fundamental steps in the path towards authentic and profound renewal” _ an indication that the reform project will hardly end next year and that these events are just one step in the process.Then-Pope Benedict XVI took over the Legion in 2010 after a Vatican investigation determined its Mexican founder led a double life: The late Rev. Marcial Maciel sexually molested seminarians and fathered three children with two women. One of his children says he molested him as well.Benedict ordered a wholesale reform of the order after finding serious problems with its culture and appointed a papal delegate, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, to oversee the process. Many priests disillusioned with De Paolis’ efforts have left, convinced that no true reform is possible when a religious order’s founder has been so discredited and when the essential spirit guiding it is so undefined. In addition, many of the leaders who covered up Maciel’s crimes, or their protégés, are still in positions of power.Francis said De Paolis’ term would end after the 2014 general chapter _ before the reform of the Legion’s lay branch Regnum Christi is completed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis is signaling the reform process of the troubled Legion of Christ religious order will stretch beyond next year’s target date amid continued reservations about whether it has truly changed its ways following revelations its founder was a pedophile.In a letter made public Wednesday, Francis confirmed the order would convene a general assembly in early 2014 to elect a new leadership and approve a revised set of constitutions. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

Former NSA official Secret phone records grab a mistake

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober It’s not that there no longer can be national security secrets, said Brenner, a lawyer who retired in 2009 after serving as the top U.S. counterintelligence official. But “the idea that the broad rules governing your activities –not specific operations, but the broad rules_can be kept secret is a delusion. And they should not be kept secret.”Snowden, a former NSA systems administrator, has said he decided to leak thousands of top secret documents to journalists because of what he viewed as deception by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, when he denied to Congress in 2013 that the U.S. was collecting records on millions of Americans. But Snowden went on to reveal programs that had nothing to do with domestic surveillance, but rather involved NSA’s foreign intelligence gathering operations.Clapper and other officials have said they wished the government had been more transparent about the NSA program that since 2002 has collected and stored records of nearly all American landline phone calls for use in counterterrorism investigations, but none put it as starkly as Brenner did. Congress is now debating whether to end the program before the Patriot Act provisions allowing it expire on June 1. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Top Stories 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 “If you disagree with me on this, do your own damage assessment,” Brenner said, according to text of his remarks that he provided. “In the wake of Snowden, our country has lost control of the geopolitical narrative; our companies have lost more than $100 billion in business and counting.”Intelligence collection “has surely suffered,” he said, as has NSA morale. And “the damage from the Snowden leaks to American foreign intelligence operations, to American prestige, and to American power … has unquestionably been vastly greater” than if the George W. Bush administration had gone to Congress in 2002 to seek legislation authorizing the collection of U.S. phone records.The Bush administration didn’t want to do that for political reasons, Brenner said, and neither did the Obama administration.Instead, both presidents relied on a classified interpretation of the Patriot Act by a secret intelligence court. And the NSA collected the records secretly.When Snowden revealed the program in 2013, “the argument that the agency was operating under ‘secret law’ had legs with the public, much of which is allergic to bulk collection and doubts its value,” Brenner said. Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The criticism over the Snowden revelations has been hard for career intelligence professionals to swallow, Brenner said, given that there has been no evidence of the sort of abuses that were uncovered by Sen. Frank Church and Rep. Otis Pike 40 years ago.Much of the Snowden leaks simply showed “how extremely good NSA really is at its business,” Brenner said. And “there hasn’t been even a whiff of intelligence abuse for political purposes,” he said. “This was the only intelligence scandal in history involving practices approved by Congress and the federal courts and the president.”By contrast, he said, the NSA’s Project Minaret, exposed by the Church Committee, eavesdropped on 1,650 Americans without warrants, including two senators, many critics of the Vietnam War, prominent journalists, and the boxer Muhammad Ali.“Everyone associated with these various programs thought that he was a patriot acting in the national interest,” Brenner said “Which is precisely why subjective notions of patriotism and national security are insufficient guides for people and agencies that claim to operate under law in a democratic republic.” WASHINGTON (AP) — The decision to keep secret the National Security Agency’s collection of American calling records was a strategic blunder that set the stage for Edward Snowden’s unauthorized disclosures and ultimately harmed U.S. national security, the agency’s former inspector general told NSA employees in blunt remarks Friday.“You now live in a glass house,” Joel Brenner, NSA inspector general from 2002 to 2006, said in a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the congressional hearings into the intelligence scandals of the Watergate era. “How could anyone think the bulk collection program would remain secret?” How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

Cheap motorbikes bring opportunity and chaos to Haiti

first_img PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Joseph-Marc Carel knows the danger of ferrying passengers on his small motorbike, sometimes two at a time, as tides of the buzzing vehicles cut through the chaotic Haitian capital. He has a prosthetic leg to prove it.Carel would like to find a job that’s safer than driving a two-wheeled taxi in Port-au-Prince, but he knows he’s unlikely to find one that pays anything close to the $50 a week he can earn with his battered motorbike. Sponsored Stories ___David McFadden on Twitter: © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories In this May 21, 2015 photo, Joseph Marc Carel, a motorcycle taxi driver, takes a passenger to downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Carel knows the danger of ferrying passengers on his small motorbike, sometimes two at a time, as tides of the buzzing vehicles cut through the chaotic Haitian capital. He has a prosthetic leg to prove it. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery) 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Motorbikes were available in Haiti before the earthquake but they mostly were seen in rural towns, commonly used to carry all types of cargo, including live chickens and pigs, or towing items like rebar, bamboo poles and even wooden coffins from the back.The motorcycles have been critical during Haiti’s ongoing cholera outbreak, often serving as the only way to get aid to people in remote corners. And they now make up nearly 45 percent of Haiti’s underdeveloped public transportation system, according to official estimates.The influx has been a boon for Haitian repairmen. Luckson Jean, a mechanic who works at a motorbike shop on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, said the quality of the Chinese machines is inferior to coveted Japanese brands like Honda and Suzuki. They require a lot of maintenance, he said, and even then, generally only last a couple of years.In the hillside shantytown where he lives alone in a one-room concrete shack, Carel is on his fourth motorcycle since his accident. He says he has nightmares that his job may cost him another limb.“But there’s no other way for me to survive so I keep going as a moto taxi driver even with one leg,” Carel says as he straddles his battered motorbike amid the sounds of sputtering engines on a busy street below. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img “It doesn’t look good,” he said, gesturing at the shattered reflectors and dented red gas tank as he revved the sputtering engine, “but it’s mine.”Cheap motorbikes such as the one that transformed this 24-year-old into an entrepreneur, and cost him his right leg in a 2011 accident, are seen by some as an economic lifeline and by others as a scourge of the streets.The Chinese-made vehicles began to flourish after Haiti’s devastating earthquake of 2010, when foreign aid workers brought them in as part of their disaster-relief efforts. Port-au-Prince now is flooded with the small-engine Jialing, Lifan or Jeely models, which can be bought new for about $800 or leased from middlemen.Motorbikes provide one of the most efficient ways to navigate the unpredictable and rutted streets of the teeming capital. But with regulation largely nonexistent, the combination of inexperienced drivers, general lawlessness and packed roadways has resulted in a big jump in accidents.Dr. Bermann Augustin, an orthopedic surgery resident at the Hospital of the State University of Haiti, found in a recent study that motorbikes were involved in nearly 80 percent of all road accidents that sent patients to Port-au-Prince’s main general hospital between April 2014 and February 2015. Emergency room administrators say they rarely saw victims of such accidents before the quake. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober “This has become a big public health problem in Haiti and it’s getting worse,” Augustin said.From her hospital bed in Port-au-Prince, food vendor St. Helene Morissette bitterly describes the accident that fractured her ankle. She was attempting to scurry across a road when a speeding motorbike taxi slammed into her. While she screamed in agony, the driver zipped away without a word.“A lot of these moto drivers are crazy,” Morissette said while her young son rested his head on her shoulder and a daughter counted cash needed to buy medicine.The Haitian National Police says its officers are trying to crack down on unregistered motorbike operators. But with as many as 500,000 motorbikes on the streets in the greater Port-au-Prince area, traffic division Inspector Jean Yves Pierre acknowledged that authorities are struggling to keep up.The appeal of a motorbike is easy to understand in Haiti. Cars and SUVs often cost twice the price of a new vehicle in the United States and, in any case, are out of reach for most people. According to the World Bank, 59 percent of Haitians live on less than $2.44 a day and 24 percent make do with less than half of that.Even so, the Port-au-Prince area is a traffic nightmare, with SUVs, rumbling trucks and colorfully painted bus-pickups known as “tap taps” competing for space. A trip from the airport to the hillside community of Petionville just a few miles (kilometers) away can take two hours by car. On a motorcycle, the fearless can dart through long lines of vehicles and make it in a fraction of the time. Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

Thailand scrambles to boost image on human trafficking

first_img Sponsored Stories The U.S. had for days been seeking Thai approval to conduct surveillance flights to look for migrants — approval that Malaysia had quickly granted. Thailand’s foreign minister announced to reporters that the OK had been given, shortly after a U.S. diplomat told journalists that America was still waiting.On the same day as the Bangkok conference, the Royal Thai Navy flew about 140 journalists to the southern island of Phuket to see a naval ship that would be used as a floating base to give food, water and medical treatment to migrants at sea. The navy flew a helicopter and a light patrol aircraft in a circle for cameramen to record the footage during the two-hour choreographed tour.Critics say Thailand must do more to show it is serious about fighting human trafficking if it is to get off the U.S. blacklist and avoid the EU seafood import ban.“Thailand needs to show that they are consistent with law enforcement,” said Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher of Human Rights Watch. “The arrest (of an army officer) showed that no one will be left untouched this time, but at the same time, it also made us question why have they allowed this to happen for years. BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand is eager to show its newfound toughness on human trafficking, taking reporters on patrols and tours of former camps, cooperating with neighboring countries and the U.S., and arresting dozens of officials — including a high-ranking officer in the military that now controls the country. The junta even had a “National Anti-Human Trafficking Day.”The Southeast Asian country is trying to dissuade Western governments from leveling economic sanctions, but it has a daunting enemy: history. “Today, we have to admit that this has been a problem in Thailand for a long time,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said as he opened the event with an hour-long speech.“The government is focusing on preventing and suppressing human trafficking and is determined to get rid of men who sell men, so that they no longer have a place to stand on our soil — no matter how influential they are or if they are government officials,” said Prayuth, who took power from a civilian government in a May 2014 coup.Yet even Friday’s event raised questions about Thailand’s seriousness. The journalist who was honored reported on trafficking from the country’s inland north, not the south and the sea, where the crisis has been most immediate. Weeks earlier, when a Bangkok television reporter drew broad attention to the issue by getting on a migrant boat to shoot video, Prayuth obliquely referred to her as a troublemaker.Human-rights activists and others have long accused Thai authorities of collusion in the trafficking industry — claims that police, military and government officials have long denied. But as the migrant camps, graves and boats drew global attention, pressure grew on the government to respond. In a widening human-trafficking investigation, more than 50 people have been arrested in a month, including local politicians, government officials, police, and, in the past week, a senior-ranking army officer. About 50 police officers in the southern provinces were also removed from their posts and investigated for possible involvement in trafficking syndicates.The junta-appointed legislature passed a new anti-human trafficking law that mandates harsher penalties, and human trafficking-related court cases will get a shortcut in the judicial system to prosecute suspects more quickly.Thai police took journalists on several treks into the tropical jungle along the Thai-Malaysia border to witness the exhumation of graves and watch as the officers dismantled abandoned wooden shelters by hand.Thailand’s sudden clampdown prompted some human smugglers to abandon boats that were filled with migrants. Thousands of migrants reached shore — mostly in Malaysia and Indonesia — but an unknown number are believed to remain at sea.Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia all rejected the ships as the crisis began, and all have been conducting some measure of damage control with the media. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Men’s health affects baby’s health too Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility “Thailand has been accused of having the culture of impunity of state officials in the past, but this crisis offers a first chance to break that culture,” he said.___Associated Press writer Jocelyn Gecker and video journalist Papitchaya Boonngok in Bangkok and Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. “Thailand remains major center for human trafficking.” Those words were emblazoned on a huge headline in a Thai daily newspaper printed nearly three years ago. The country’s answer was largely to ignore the problem, until recent events made that impossible.The discovery of 36 bodies at abandoned traffickers’ camps near Thailand’s southern border with Malaysia has intensified international pressure on Thailand to crack down on smugglers. So has a subsequent crisis involving thousands of migrants who were stranded at sea by their traffickers — and whose boats were pushed back by Thai officials. Those migrants, mainly Bangladeshis and ethnic Rohingya migrants from Myanmar, are just part of a human-trafficking problem that also includes Thai fishing boats that have used slave labor.Last June, Thailand and Malaysia were put on a blacklist in a U.S. State Department assessment on human trafficking, a downgrade that can jeopardize its lucrative seafood and shrimp industries. The European Union also threatened Thailand with a ban on seafood import by the end of the year unless it drastically changes its policies on illegal and unregulated fishing.A new State Department assessment is due this month, and Thailand is pushing for an upgrade with efforts that included its first-ever Anti-Human Trafficking Day on Friday. The opening ceremony at the prime minister’s Government House was followed by discussion about the problem and an awards ceremony for a journalist, police and officials who have helped expose human trafficking problems.center_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Two days after Malaysia confirmed 28 migrant camps and 139 suspected graves on its side of the border with Thailand, more than 60 reporters were taken on a three-hour trek to an abandoned camp where a forensic team had exhumed a body. Further requests to visit other migrant camps have been rejected, though police say they have now recovered 49 bodies from the gravesite the media visited.Under international pressure, Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to take migrants in temporarily. Thailand did not, but insisted it will give humanitarian assistance to the boat people.“It’s not that Thailand isn’t helping. It’s good that everyone is helping, but Thailand has also provided help and our hands are full already,” deputy government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd told The Associated Press, adding that the country already gave shelters to 140,000 refugees, mostly in camps along the Myanmar border.Last month Thailand called a regional conference and brought together senior government officials from 17 countries and international organizations to discuss the swelling tide of boat people from Myanmar and Bangladesh in Southeast Asia. But one moment from the event reflected the at times muddled nature of Thailand’s cooperation. How do cataracts affect your vision? Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall In this May 5, 2015 photo, a border patrol police officer guards next to an abandoned migrant camp on Khao Kaew mountain near the Thai-Malaysian border in Padang Besar, Songkhla province, southern Thailand. Thailand is eager to show its newfound toughness on human trafficking, taking reporters on patrols and tours of former camps, cooperating with neighboring countries and the U.S., and arresting dozens of officials – including a high-ranking officer in the military that now controls the country. A discovery of 36 bodies at abandoned traffickers’ camps near Thailand’s southern border with Malaysia has intensified international pressure on Thailand to crack down on smugglers. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories last_img read more

Omani opulence in the city

first_imgIntertwining ancient tradition, history and spectacular sea and mountain scapes, Oman is perched to provide the best the Gulf region has to offer as a quality destination and has been focussing on enticing quality travellers, according to Ms Tannous.“Oman is a destination that is emerging for our market region. The rich cultural diversity lends the country to be a stand alone destination in its own right or for those limited to time, a mini stay of 3 or 4 nights.  The growth in tourism has been deliberately controlled to allow for the quality versus the quantity of visitors,” Ms Tannous said.Speaking exclusively to e-Travel Blackboard, Ms Tannous said she was thrilled with the increase in visitor arrivals from Australia and New Zealand which she attributed to an increase in co-operation with major wholesale partners focusing on Oman, and expected the trend to continue in 2011 as more  travellers experience the destination firsthand. The Sultanate of Oman Tourism is represented by The Walshe Group in Australia and New Zealand.For more information on Oman, call 02 9286 8930, email or visit The Sultante of Oman Tourism, Mona Tannous Showered in rose petals, The Walshe Group, Janaya Birse & The Sultanate of Oman Tourism, Mona Tannous An Omani Majlis set up for the special occasion The Walshe Group: Janaya Birse, Jacqui Walshe & Mona Tannous Source = e-Travel Blackboard: D.M The Sultanate of Oman Tourism hosted key industry partners to a petal-strewn affair at Sydney’s very own Souk in the City, marking the  launch of their new brand campaign in the region.Heralding a new phase of Oman tourism, Manager Australia and New Zealand, Mona Tannous said the new logo and brand manifesto represented a new direction for the country to take this year. “In essence, the new logo is a symbol of the best of what Oman has to offer in its vibrancy and diversity to other Gulf countries,” Ms Tannous said.The official launch of their latest international advertising campaign will be held at World Travel Mart in November, however as a prelude, the logo along with the new tag line, ‘Beauty has an address ~ Oman’, is already being used in several local promotions. last_img read more

Agents set to fly high with Albatross

first_imgEuan enjoying a cool seat with his wife Grooming a preferred network of supporting agents, or ‘High Flyers’, Albatross looks after their flock, managing director Euan Landsborough told e-Travel Blackboard.“If an agent supports us we will pay them very lucrative commissions,” he said.“Our undertaking is to the travel industry.”Keen to build relationships with “agents who are putting their client first” and who are active in their local communities, Mr Landsborough said the colour of an agent’s shirt was as irrelevant as the shape of their desk.“What matters is their professionalism and their passion for product.”Offering distinct products, “genuinely inclusive” tours (and hence more commission to agents)and guaranteed group departures, the Albatross Travel Group boss told e-Travel Blackboard that agents “should be rubbing their hands together” when booking with the European travel specialist.Renowned for never cancelling a European Christmas tour since their inception 17 years ago, Mr Landsborough said Albatross’ undertaking to agents and their clients was to “really” guarantee group departures. “We will run tours with just seven confirmed passengers.”“In this world, travel agents need to stand out, offer guarantees, offer something different,” he said.“If they don’t, people will go online.”With the biggest range of festive tours in the market, Albatross Travel Group experienced its best ever year last year.“We’ve got distinct products and that’s why we’re winning,” Mr Landsborough said.Designed by the passionate Mr Landsborough himself, the festive tours are “scenes from Christmas postcards”.“These travellers are going off to capture a dream and our job is to fulfil these dreams.”“We go to Christmas markets not when it fits the itinerary, but in the late afternoon because that’s when choirs are out, the mulled wine is flowing and the Christmas lights are twinkling. “It’s a style; it’s an attitude to touring.” For more information on Albatross Travel Group, visit Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.Alast_img read more

Foreigners rate Australians different

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P Aussies are not so hospitable, according to a new survey that found foreigners perceive Australians as being unreliable, untrustworthy and unhelpful.Further still, respondents of the survey felt that holidays in Australia offered poor quality and bad value, the Herald Sun reported.The fresh findings came from a global survey conducted by George Patterson Y&R ad agency Head Russel Howcroft.Mr Howcroft explained that the positive part of these findings was that these perceptions could be changed.Mr Howcroft said 80 percent of foreign markets perceived Australia as “different”, 60 percent had knowledge of it, half thought Australia was a relevant place to them, however only 30 percent held it in high esteem.“If you don’t hold a brand in esteem, you’re highly unlikely to pay a premium for it,” Mr Howcroft said.“Australia isn’t cheap, so they need to have a perception of very high quality, high value for what it costs them when they get here, to appear reasonable.”The survey also reveals that the Chinese think we are stylish but not very helpful, Americans say we are carefree and rugged but don’t deliver quality or good service and the British see as charming and independent but not trustworthy.Tourism Australia chief Andrew McEvoy said he wasn’t shocked by the recent findings.Tourism Australia is trying to change perceptions across the globe with its $180 million campaign “there’s nothing like Australia”.“There’s different perceptions in different countries about Australia, so we’re encouraging people who have been to Australia to tell our story via Facebook and it’s working,” Mr Mc Evoy said.last_img read more

Tourism Fiji pulls out of BFTE

first_imgTourism Fiji has announced its withdrawal from Bula Fiji Tourism Exchange (BFTE) this year, claiming it cannot support the event in its current format.According to the tourism bureau, it will not support BFTA as it invites competing Pacific Islands to showcase their products, conduct contract talks, network and win business against Fiji.Tourism Fiji chief executive Rick Hamilton stressed Fiji is in a position to showcase its “unique and unforgettable tourism” experiences alone.“We believe it is difficult enough to win business with local competition, let alone have to compete in this forum against the rest of the South Pacific in their own country,” he stressed.Despite pulling out of the event, Mr Hamilton said BFTE presented an opportunity to network with buyers from across the world and win visitors to Fiji and its properties.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J. Tourism bureau says it cannot supportBFTE in its current format.last_img read more

International megastar Taylor Swift to perform on Hamilton Island

first_imgInternational mega-star Taylor Swift to perform on Hamilton IslandHamilton Island today announced it would be partnering with NOVA Entertainment for an once-in-a-lifetime Australian concert experience with the reigning queen of pop, Taylor Swift.The seven-time Grammy Award winner will perform at a special Nova’s Red Room event, its biggest live music performance to date, on the picturesque Hamilton Island when she brings her 1989 tour to Australia.Hamilton Island CEO, Glenn Bourke said: “We are thrilled to be hosting the world’s biggest artist, Taylor Swift, for Nova’s Red Roomat Hamilton Island.“Hamilton Island is already home to some of Australia’s best events, including Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, and we are looking forward to delivering the same level of excellence through our partnership with NOVA Entertainment.”During their visit to Hamilton Island, Taylor Swift fans will be able to squeeze in some quintessential Australian experiences on offer at Hamilton Island and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as performing for a number of lucky listeners and fans.Tony Thomas, NOVA Entertainment Chief Marketing & Digital Officer said: “After 90 Nova’s Red Rooms, with some of the world’s leading music artists, it doesn’t get any bigger than this. Nova is dedicated to providing the biggest live music experiences for our listeners and clients and having the biggest artist in the world, Taylor Swift, perform exclusively for our lucky Nova listeners confirms Nova’s Red Room as Australia’s leading live music brand.”Taylor Swift is the youngest recipient of the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, has been named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential people in the World and twice voted Woman of the Year by Billboard Magazine. Her visit is expected to, once again, put Hamilton Island and Australia on the map for international holiday makers.Hamilton Island is a favourite destination for a number of overseas celebrities, having hosted Oprah Winfrey on her Australian tour and actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard during the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise filming.  Access to this incredible music event can only be won via the Nova Network and partner channels from Monday 2 November 2015. Learn more hereSource = Hamilton Islandlast_img read more

Travel Counsellors celebrates best year ever at Annual Conference

first_imgTravel Counsellors announced their best year to date during the Annual Conference held at Manchester Central Convention Complex, with over 1400 guest’s attendance including six from Australia.Starting on Friday 13th November, attendees were hosted at the star-studded event by Amanda Lamb and Vernon Kay, both now well established members of the extended Travel Counsellors family.Travel Counsellors were entertained by celebrities such as John Bishop and Gary Barlow; inspired by guest speakers Katie Piper and Chris Moon; and had the opportunities to connect with over 200 suppliers including headline sponsors P&O Cruises and Cunard, Travelport, Royal Caribbean, Club Med and Celebrity Cruises.Mark Hulme, Head of Sales, revealed that sales are up 12% with individual Travel Counsellors earning more than ever before in 2015. On average, each Travel Counsellor grew their individual income by 12% last year.There has also been a 21% increase in ‘TC multi-millionaires’, compared to the previous year as 53 agents celebrated achieving over $2 million in sales over the past 12 months, with 685 Travel Counsellors having their best ever sales months during the year November 2014 to October 2015. The company also now has a record 183 Gold Travel Counsellors worldwide (commissions over $157,216).The three day event boasted an impressive celebrity line-up and an array of special guests, including well known inspirational speakers Katie Piper and Chris Moon, who left delegates feeling motivated and energised for 2016.Steve ByrneHosted by UK TV personality Vernon Kay, attendees including Tracy Dodsworth and Sharon Wood were entertained by the hilarious John Bishop; wowed by an intimate performance from Gary Barlow; and had the opportunity to meet directly with over 200 travel suppliers including representatives from a host of tourist boards, hotels and airlines to learn more about their products and destinations.The event was underpinned by the theme “Doing the right thing” which celebrated Travel Counsellors commitment to keeping customers at the heart of everything, doing the right thing by them, as well as by their colleagues and everyone that touches the business.Steve Byrne, Managing Director of Travel Counsellors confirmed that the customer will continue to be the key focus moving forward to 2016, along with using intelligent customer data to further improve the level of personalisation offered, and a strong drive to optimise digital.“We adapt, we evolve, and we are the best in the business, with the highest customer satisfaction scores in the world. We do the right thing by keeping customers at the heart of all our decisions, to keep our special DNA and protect our company heritage,” Mr Byrne said.“Average earnings of the mature Travel Counsellors is up 30% in three years, and we will continue to heavily invest in our people and our technology to future proof the business and continue this momentum of rapid growth”.David Hughes, Managing Director of Travel Counsellors Australia left the conference feeling motivated and inspired.“I’ve attended many conferences throughout my career however this one was by the far the best I’ve ever been a part of,” comments David.“I was really impressed with the high calibre guest speakers, hosts and entertainment. Of course, I was also equally impressed with the incredible achievements of the Travel Counsellors global team.” Travel CounsellorsSource = Travel Counsellorslast_img read more

Collette appoints Amanda McCann as new Head of Sales Australia

first_imgCollette appoints Amanda McCann as new Head of Sales, AustraliaCollette appoints Amanda McCann as new Head of Sales, AustraliaGlobal tour operator Collette has appointed Amanda McCann to the newly created role of Head of Sales, Australia. She will be overseeing Collette’s sales force and working with key agent partners to increase sales nationally.General Manager of Collette Australia, Alison Mead said, “I am delighted to announce Amanda as our new Head of Sales. I believe she will be a great asset to Collette as we continue to grow in this market.”Amanda recently held the position of Sales and Marketing Manager at Busabout Tours.For more information call 1300 792 195 or visit www.gocollette.comSource = Collettelast_img read more

STR and Google find strong correlation between searches and hotel book

first_imgSTR and Google find strong correlation between searches and hotel bookingsHigher Google search volumes are strongly correlated with higher hotel demand levels, according to an analysis from STR and Google.For the purpose of their regression analysis, STR and Google selected New York City and London as case study markets due to proportionate market size and other comparable hotel performance indicators. Search patterns and hotel performance trends were studied for each market in 2015 and 2016.“Our study showed a statistically significant relationship between Google search data and the number of roomnights actually sold in the two markets,” said Robert Bauer, STR senior analyst. “Global markets vary greatly as it relates to seasonality, consumer travel behavior and economic factors, but it is reasonable to project a similar correlation for other established markets in the hotel industry. This is important for hoteliers in assessing interest in a particular destination and measuring how booking patterns evolve around that interest.”In year-over-year comparisons, Google searches for accommodation in New York City grew 3% in 2015 then jumped 7.3% in 2016. Hotel demand (roomnights sold) increased 2.8% in 2015 and 5.8% in 2016. Google search volume for accommodations in New York increased following the November 2016 election with high interest levels from both domestic and international travelers.Accommodation searches in London rose 2.1% in 2015 but only 0.8% in 2016. Hotel demand in the U.K. capital increased 1.7% in both 2015 and 2016. November and December of 2016 were particularly strong months for accommodation searches and demand in London, which is attributable to the fall in the value of the British pound. STRSource = STRlast_img read more

THAI introduces THAI Gift Voucher

first_imgTHAI introduces THAI Gift VoucherTHAI introduces THAI Gift VoucherThai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) introduced the THAI Gift Voucher, a special gift for loved ones that can be the perfect gift to mark New Year 2018. The voucher can be used in place of cash to purchase an air ticket or THAI products and may be bought during 1-30 December 2017.Mr. Wiwat Piyawiroj, THAI Acting Executive Vice President, Commercial Department, said that the THAI Gift Voucher is a cash card that may be used as a New Year gift or for other special occasions. Customers can use this voucher for any payment to THAI of equivalent value or may be combined with cash or credit card when purchasing an air ticket on any route, Royal Orchid Holiday tour packages, and THAI Shop products. The THAI Gift Voucher may be used to purchase gifts at any THAI sales office throughout Thailand from 1 December 2017 to 30 June 2018. The gift voucher is available in a selection of three packages, complete with a specially designed envelope:1. Gift Voucher valued at 3,000 Baht, with three vouchers valued at 1,000 Baht each2. Gift Voucher valued at 5,000 Baht, with one voucher valued at 5,000 Baht 3. Gift Voucher valued at 10,000 Baht, with one voucher valued at 10,000 Baht, with a price reduction of three percent equivalent to a value of 9,700 BahtCustomers may purchase the THAI Gift Voucher at THAI sales offices throughout Thailand. For more information, call the THAI Contact Center at Tel. 02-356-1111 (24 hours a day) or visit thaiairways.comSource = THAIlast_img read more

THAI receives Japan Tourism Award in Thailand

first_imgTHAI Receives Japan Tourism Award in Thailand Top Agent Award 2017THAI receives Japan Tourism Award in ThailandMrs. Alisara Kidmai (right), Director, Royal Orchid Holidays, Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI), on behalf of the company, received Top Agent Award from Mr. Kazuhiro Ito (left), Executive Director, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), Bangkok Office, at Japan Tourism Award in Thailand 2017 ceremony which was held at the Resident of the Ambassador of Japan, Bangkok.The award was given to THAI as recognition of its support to promote products and services of Japan tourism. The award winning ceremony was held by JNTO to award tourism organizations and members of media who support Japan tourism industry in 2017.Source = THAIlast_img read more