Air Canada to follow “highly satisfying” 2016 with milestone 80th anniversary Tags: Air Canada Michael Smith Wednesday, January 4, 2017 Share MONTREAL — This year marks Air Canada’s 80th anniversary, a major milestone that caps off a “highly satisfying” 2016 that included the launch of 28 new routes and a slew of rewards.According to Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive Officer, the airline produced record EBITDAR financial results during each of the first three quarters of 2016, as well as significantly increased its global footprint with 28 new routes, including 15 new international and 12 U.S. trans-border routes. And with new service to Morocco, Air Canada “joined the elite club of global carriers serving all six continents,” he said.In addition, the airline created 1,500 new jobs in Canada last year between its mainline, rouge and Express services, with Air Canada now employing approximately 30,000 people.“We generated greater customer engagement, serving approximately 45 million people on our expanded network,” Rovinescu added.As the icing on the cake, Air Canada raked in several awards in 2016, including the distinction of being named the fastest growing brand among Canada’s largest companies and the only Four Star international network carrier in North America by Skytrax. The airline was also named among Canada’s Top 100 Employers for a fourth year in a row.More news: Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next month“We invested significantly in our fleet and product, taking delivery of nine new Boeing 787 Dreamliners in 2016 with nine more planned for 2017, reconfiguring our entire Boeing 777 fleet with our state-of-the-art Dreamliner cabin configuration and inflight entertainment systems, and completing our milestone order for up to 75 Bombardier C Series aircraft,” he said. “Shareholders took note as well. Our common shares returned nearly 34% over the year, outperforming all of our North American airline peers, the Dow Jones U.S. Airlines Index and the S&P/TSX Composite Index.” Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>
<< Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Club Med’s two-day Toronto pop-up includes VR and giveaways Wednesday, February 15, 2017 Tags: Club Med TORONTO — Club Med’s two-day pop-up in downtown Toronto at Yonge-Dundas Square continues today, as part of a two-day event Feb. 14 – 15. Guests can step into a heated glass-walled truck designed to look like one of the 65+ Club Med resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean.Inside the truck, complete with sand, palm trees and tropical fruits, guests can also use Virtual Reality goggles to transport themselves to the setting of a resort. Usually reserved for the booking process, Club Med’s VR and 360-videos are giving Torontonians a glimpse of the ‘Amazing You’ with experiences like flying trapeze and sailing.To keep warm in the winter weather, Club Med is also handing out hot cocoa and branded hand warmers to passersby.Visitors have the opportunity to post pictures from their visit to the pop-up on social media using #ClubMedAmazingTO for the chance to win a trip for two to one of Club Med’s destinations. Online entries will also be possible by registering at ClubMedAmazingYou.comMore news: Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesThe Club Med pop-up resort will be at Yonge-Dundas Square on Feb. 15 until 7 p.m. The contest runs until Feb. 28 at 11:59 p.m. For more information visit ClubMedAmazingYou.com. Posted by Share
<< Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Sphere, TPI, TravelOnly Share Networking, good times and the opportunity to celebrate the year’s successes: top-producing home-based agents from two of Canada’s best-known host agencies, TPI and TravelOnly, got all this and more on recent cruises with AmaWaterways.On TPI’s fourth annual Chairman’s Circle trip, 15 of TPI’s top producing agents sailed the serene waters of Vietnam and Cambodia for an AmaWaterways cruise on the Mekong River.Hosted by TPI CEO and President, Morris Chia, the trip rewarded the exceptional performance of the invited agents and allowed them to experience AmaWaterways – one of TPI’s preferred suppliers – first-hand. The seven-night river cruise aboard the AmaDara, sailing the ‘Vietnam, Cambodia, & the Riches of the Mekong’ itinerary, was part of an all-expenses paid trip for the agents.The cruise started in Ho Chi Minh City and then it was on to Phnom Penh and further up the Mekong and beyond to the renowned Angkor temples including Angkor Wat. Next year’s Chairman’s Circle trip will be a cruise with Crystal Cruises, said Chia.TravelOnly’s President’s Club at Juno BeachTravelOnly’s President’s Club onboard AmaLyraChia said it was “truly my honour to have hosted our top achievers for this once-in-a-lifetime voyage as we recognize their commitment to success.”More news: ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growthThe TPI Chairman’s Circle trip is part of TPI’s larger Velocity travel advisor recognition program and recognizes the successes of TPI’s highest-producing travel advisors.TravelOnly’s top producers were also feted with a cruise, with members of TravelOnly’s President’s Club sailing the beautiful Seine in France aboard AmaWaterways’ AmaLyra. There were stops in Paris, Vernon, Caudbec-en-caux, Rouen, Les Andelys and Conflans, with a special reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’ on Juno Beach.Although the President’s Club trip started as a reward for top performers, “over the years it has evolved into something much more”, allowing members to collaborate on their business strategies, challenges and opportunities, including ways they can work with suppliers to provide the best possible experiences for their clients, said TravelOnly President Gregory Luciani.Preferred partners including Celebrity Cruises, Sunwing Vacations, NCL and TravelBrands joined the team onboard to share their expertise.“A trip of a lifetime,” was how President’s Club member Karen Gill described her experience, adding that seeing Juno Beach was “literally life changing”.More news: ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growthLuciani says The President’s Club trip also serves as a great motivator for up-and-coming TravelOnly Associates who look to this group for mentorship and advice as they grow their businesses. “After only a few hours back on home soil, many were posting about their experiences, newly inspired to reach this pinnacle of success once more in 2017.”Luciani gave his congratulations to the entire President’s Club: Dashnor Hasku, Bujar Zejnullahu, Brian Kendrick, Barbara Scrocco and Robert Rizzo, Pat Probert and Mary de Almeida, Karen Gill, Anie Chevrier-Huot, Kevin Visser, Holly McBean and Pauline Blacoe. Travelweek Group Posted by Setting sail for success: incentive cruises reward top producers for TPI, TravelOnly Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Wednesday, January 16, 2019 Posted by Tags: CEO, Interjet, Interjet Airlines, New Hires Aviation industry veteran signs on as Interjet’s new CEO Travelweek Group Share << Previous PostNext Post >> MEXICO CITY — A new year, a new CEO for Interjet Airlines, which just announced that William Shaw will succeed José Luis Garza, effective immediately.Garza, who’s set to join Interjet’s Board of Directors, has over 26 years of experience in the aviation industry, from his early days at a check-in desk in Mexico City Airport, to his most recent venture of a low-cost start-up in the Dominican Republic. Other notable accomplishments including the founding of VivaColombia, launching Viva Air, the first value airline in Peru, and starting the Flycana Project, the first LCC in the Caribbean, in May 2018.Miguel Alemán Magnani, Chairman and President of ABC Aerolíneas, S.A. de C.V., the parent company of Interjet Airlines, said that Shaw’s appointment reflects the carrier’s continued investment in its team members, fleet and product.“Adding someone with William’s experience, entrepreneurship and understanding of the aviation industry to our team will be of great benefit to the continued growth of the airline, particularly our international business, and all of us at Interjet are excited to have him onboard,” he said. “At the same time, I want to personally thank José Luis Garza, who has successfully guided Interjet from our humble beginning flying just three aircraft to four destinations in Mexico to today, where Interjet has become of the world’s fastest growing airlines in North America.”More news: TRAVELSAVERS welcomes Julie Virgilio to the teamIn October 2017, Interjet successfully launched year-round, nonstop service between Vancouver International Airport and the dual destinations of Mexico City and Cancun. The launch was widely seen as a competitive move against WestJet, which launched weekly flights) from Calgary and Vancouver to Mexico City five months later.On joining the Interjet team, Shaw said: “These are very challenging and competitive times in the airline industry, and I have been very impressed with Interjet’s success to date. Our ‘Value Proposition’ of offering the flying public much more for less, along with the customer experience we provide business and leisure travellers, have been one of the keys to differentiating Interjet from other carriers in our class, and we will continue to do so.”
Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing update trade as 737 Max grounding takes effect TORONTO — Their Boeing 737 Max aircraft may make up a fraction of their fleets but with the sudden grounding of more than 40 planes, the rebooking process for Air Canada, WestJet and Sunwing is nevertheless a massive undertaking, and agents are right in the thick of it helping clients.Here’s what we’re hearing from the airlines. Sunwing Airlines says it is finalizing a revised schedule to accommodate the temporary removal of its 737 Max aircraft from service.“We appreciate the patience of our retail partners and customers while we work to communicate these updates,” says Sunwing.“We will endeavor to minimize the impact of these schedule changes and we will not be cancelling any flights as a result.”As announced yesterday, Air Canada’s cancellation and rebooking policies are in place with full fee waiver for affected customers.Air Canada’s 737 Max operations carry, on average, 9,000 – 12,000 customers per day. That said, Air Canada typically operates about 75 737 Max flights daily out of a total schedule of approximately 1,600 daily flights system-wide, representing less than 6% of its total flying. The airline has a total fleet of 400 aircraft (including 24 737 Max aircraft), made up of Air Canada mainline, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express aircraft.Air Canada says: “We are making adjustments to our schedule to minimize the disruption to customers as much as possible, by optimizing the deployment of the rest of our fleet and looking at alternative options, including accommodating customers on other airlines.”More news: Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTThe airline’s adjustments include re-scheduling wide-body aircraft to serve Hawaii.Some Air Canada flights will operate according to schedule with mainline or Air Canada Rouge aircraft, such as Montreal-Martinique and Montreal-Guadeloupe.Other routes, notably Halifax-London and St. John’s-London, are cancelled in the short term, with passengers re-routed through Montreal and Toronto hubs.As Air Canada’s operations teams make changes to the airline’s flight schedule, clients whose flight times change or flight numbers change will receive an email update to their itineraries as soon as changes are finalized. Air Canada is prioritizing clients travelling within the next 72 hours.Agents can direct Air Canada clients to the Manage My Bookings section of aircanada.com if clients want to know what type of aircraft they’re flying on.WestJet is also working with agents and passengers on the rebooking process. WestJet has 13 737 Max aircraft. Meanwhile WestJet has 162 aircraft – or more than 92% of its overall fleet – that remain in service, say WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims.WestJet said the grounding order will affect about 1,400 customers daily. WestJet says it will “attempt to rebook guests for no additional charge,” but is sticking to a policy that could see passengers pay the difference in fares or fees for the changed ticket.More news: Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesCanada’s decision yesterday to ground the 737 Max aircraft, matched quickly by the U.S. and the FAA and following the lead of other countries around the world, has the added wrinkle of timing, coming in the midst of March Break, one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.More than 40 countries have now grounded or banned the Max 8 from their airspace over safety concerns.Adeel Khamisa said his family’s United Airlines flight from Montreal to Los Angeles on an Air Canada-operated Max 8 plane was full last Saturday.“All those people need to get home,” said the Ottawa resident. “I’m getting passed around back and forth between two airlines, each saying it’s the other’s responsibility.”Jason Scarrotts, a father of two young children, said he was on the phone with Air Canada for 90 minutes before speaking with an agent to rebook their Max 8 flight from Vancouver to Palm Springs, only to be disconnected. “Please help,” he tweeted.With files from The Canadian Press Thursday, March 14, 2019 Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Tags: Air Canada, boeing, WestJet Share
CIE Tours’ April Sale covers Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales & Italy Tags: CIE Tours, Promotions Monday, April 8, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Share TORONTO — CIE Tours’ April Sale takes 10% off select, all-inclusive guided vacations through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and Italy.Tour departures must be booked by April 22 and run through peak summer travel dates. The promo code is APR1910C.Sample tours, with pre-discount starting rates, include:Irish Spirit: 8 days, starting at Can$2,903 per person – An introduction to the east and west coasts of southern Ireland, including Galway, Connemara and Mayo, plus two nights at the luxury Lodge at Ashford.Irish Classic: 13 days, starting at $4,293 person – The architectural and natural wonders of Ireland with visits to can’t-miss destinations, including Blarney Castle, Cliffs of Moher and Giant’s Causeway.Best of Britain: 10 days, starting at $3,654 per person – A comprehensive tour of England, Wales and Scotland, spanning Britain’s great cities and the charming old towns of the British countryside.Highlights of Britain: 15 days, starting at $5,396 per person – Explores some of Britain’s most popular sites, including Stonehenge, London, Edinburgh Castle and Shakespeare’s birthplace.Scottish Dream: 8 days, starting at $2,552 per person – Castle tours, a trip to picturesque Isle of Skye and the bustling cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.Taste of Italy: 7 days, starting at $2,903 per person – Venice, Florence and Rome featuring Italy’s top sights, culinary highlights and hidden gems.More news: Hotel charges Bollywood star $8.50 for two bananas and the Internet has thoughtsFor more information see cietours.com. Posted by
Potrero-based community development initiative Abriendo Mentes is starting a summer matching marathon. Now through July, every donation of up to $5,000 made to the local school will be matched. Abriendo Mentes empowers rural Costa Rican communities by providing educational, technological and social programs for those who need them most.The initiative offers four innovative programs to youth and adults of Playa Potrero Costa Rica: youth development, adult education, women’s empowerment and a technology center. The ultimate goal of Abriendo Mentes is to equip each community member with the knowledge and resources needed to achieve a better standard of living and promote economic stability. Visit www.abriendomentes.org for info.Our sincerest condolences go to Dennis Schmeidge, who has returned to Canada to be with his son, Kirk. Diagnosed with esophageal cancer 10 months ago, Kirk valiantly fought the disease but succumbed on his 41st birthday. Friends and family were present to memorialize his life.Gold Coast Learning Center, a Keystone Flex Academy in Costa Rica, is hosting its 2012 graduation class at Beach Community Church on May 31, at 9 a.m. Congrats to all the seniors. We all wish you the best! Ristorante Pizzeria, TUBLA, has been opened at the Flamingo-based López Commercial Center. It features a covered patio with seating, a pizza oven and a service bar. The owner, Daniele Antonioli, had been located at 7th Heaven in Brasilito before moving to Flamingo. The hours of operation are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for lunch and 4-10 p.m. (or 11 p.m., depending on the number of people) Mon.-Sat. For more info or to place orders, call 2654-4085.–Babe Hopkinstbabehopkins@gmail.com Facebook Comments No related posts.
From the print editionWith presidential elections in the United States less than three months away, questions have emerged over Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s past business dealings with investors from El Salvador who were connected to right-wing death squads in the 1980s and early ’90s. An Aug. 8 story by Huffington Post reporters Ryan Grim and Cole Stangler, which added to previous reports by the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Salt Lake Tribune and Salon.com, described how in 1983, Bain Capital founder Bill Bain asked Romney to find investors for the private equity firm. On the advice of Bain executive Harry Strachan, Romney turned to “a group of Central American oligarchs who were looking for new investment vehicles as turmoil engulfed their region,” the Huffington Post reported.In 1984, Romney met with Salvadoran investors in Miami and secured $9 million, or 40 percent, of Bain’s initial investments, Grim and Stangler said, citing the Los Angeles Times. Investors included the de Sola and Salaverría families, who, together with the Dueñas and Poma families, at the time were financing “either directly or through political parties, death squads in El Salvador.” Like other countries in the region, from 1979-1992, El Salvador was engulfed in a brutal civil war between the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front and the military government, backed by wealthy Salvadoran families and the U.S. government. An estimated 75,000 people were killed or disappeared during the conflict. According to a United Nations truth commission, 85 percent of deaths and disappearances were attributed to right-wing factions, HuffPost noted.One of the most public assassinations perpetrated by a right-wing Salvadoran group was the March 24, 1980 murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero, a hit orchestrated by death-squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson, founder of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), a right-wing political party that helped organize the paramilitary death squads. One of the Salvadoran families who invested in Bain – the Salaverrías – had significant ties to ARENA, which D’Aubuisson founded in 1981.“The Salaverría family were very well-known as backers of D’Aubuisson,” former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Robert White told HuffPost. Alfonso Salaverría was linked to death-squad backer Orlando de Sola, and both supported D’Aubuisson, the report noted. The de Solas, wealthy coffee barons, also supported ARENA.According to HuffPost, citing the Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe, Francisco de Sola and his cousin, Herbert Arturo de Sola, were early Bain investors, and two other de Sola family members were “limited partners.”The report said the Romney campaign acknowledged Orlando de Sola’s link to death squads, but said he was not a Bain Capital investor, although his family was.Romney’s campaign maintains that Bain conducted due diligence at the time on its Salvadoran investors, finding “no unsavory links to drugs or other criminal activity,” a 1999 Salt Lake Tribune story noted.“Nobody with a basic understanding of the region’s history could believe that assertion,” Grim and Stangler wrote.HuffPost also reported that in 1990, Bain investor Francisco de Sola – along with Orlando de Sola and D’Aubuisson – was accused of killing two left-wing activists in Guatemala, according to Guatemalan intelligence sources. While the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which looked into the killings, concluded that right-wing Salvadorans were likely responsible for carrying out the assassinations, it was unable to prove the involvement of the de Solas and D’Aubuisson.However, noted Grim and Stangler, the fact that Guatemalan intelligence sources would suspect the trio is enough to demonstrate that links existed between families involved in investing in Bain and right-wing Salvadorans involved in funding death squads and committing human rights violations.Some supporters of ARENA operated from the U.S. city of Miami. In 2007, Romney traveled to Miami and personally thanked Ricardo Poma, head of the Poma Group and a member of the Bain Capital investment committee, HuffPost reported. The Poma family also had funded ARENA.Romney also thanked Miguel Dueñas, who belongs to the powerful Regalado-Dueñas family, one of ARENA’s leading supporters. According to a CIA document cited by HuffPost, Arturo Dueñas provided information used to compile hit lists for the death squads. “This money, certainly there wasn’t much concern where it came from and what these people had done to make that money,” University of Michigan professor and author Jeffrey Paige told HuffPost. “To now learn that a man that may become president of the U.S. deserves some of his success due to the incredible inequality that the U.S. helped to preserve in El Salvador is ironic,” added Arturo J. Viscarra, an immigration lawyer whose family fled El Salvador to the U.S. after receiving death threats in 1980. Grim and Stangler noted that Romney has not shown public remorse over his early Bain business dealings: “When he [Romney] returned to Miami in 2007, he condemned those who had financed torture and other human rights abuses during the Salvadoran civil war – just not those he was connected to.” Facebook Comments No related posts.
Related posts:The real communist threat in Costa Rica More than 85 percent of Limón residents support new port terminal, poll claims From ‘America’s Mayor’ to international security guru: Rudy Giuliani sends experts to El Salvador US, Latin American leaders push hard for proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Costa Rica announced on Monday it wouldsue El Salvador over a trade spat in the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), according to a statement from the Foreign Trade Ministry (COMEX).COMEX alleges that El Salvador misinterprets the CAFTA agreement by not applying preferential tariff terms to goods produced in and exported from Costa Rica. El Salvador, meanwhile, maintains that it only needs to wave tariffs on goods imported from the United States and not necessarily goods imported from other CAFTA nations.“Costa Rica reaffirms its position to defend its national commercial interests, ensuring proper utilization and commitment to the fair administration of free trade agreements,” the statement read.COMEX said the move has generated “legal uncertainty” in trade between the two Central American economies.CAFTA members have been feuding over the tariffs since 2013. Costa Rica and El Salvador failed to come to an agreement last year, and an arbitration panel formed in April to resolve the dispute.Costa Rica exported $309.5 million worth of goods to El Salvador in 2013, according to figures from COMEX. El Salvador is Costa Rica’s smallest Central American trading partner, making up just over 14 percent of the country’s exports to its Central American neighbors.Costa Rica ratified CAFTA-DR, a free trade agreement with the United States, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, in 2007. A national referendum at the time passed with 51 percent voting “yes” after a protracted national debate.Costa Rica exports more than any other country besides the United States in the regional free trade agreement, according to a November 2013 World Bank report. Facebook Comments
“I have a feeling we’re going to get along very well.”That’s how Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeted Costa Rican President-elect Carlos Alvarado during their phone conversation last week. The two leaders discussed climate change, renewable energies, multilingual education and Cabinet-level gender parity (an achievement of Trudeau’s and an aspiration of Alvarado’s).“The best thing about a gender-equal Cabinet is not even the symbolism or the example. It’s the quality of conversation and outcomes you get from a Cabinet that is more diverse,” Trudeau told Alvarado.The Costa Rican president-elect reminded Trudeau that Costa Rica would be more than happy to receive Canadian climate change and renewable energies researchers when they need a break from northern climes.“I hear you have some harsh winters,” he joked, before taking his French for a brief spin. The musician-turned-politician also professed his love for Canadian band Rush, suggesting that not only Trudeau, but also Alvarado’s favorite band of all time might make the trip to Costa Rica for the country’s bicentennial celebrations in 2021.Here’s the full conversation as captured by Semanario Universidad: Related posts:Presidential candidate Fabricio Alvarado pulls out of UCR debate Evangelicals make up quarter of Costa Rica’s new assembly Legislative committee requests ethics sanctions against Costa Rican president PHOTOS: Costa Rican candidates wrap up their campaigns Facebook Comments
Two individuals suspected of robbing tourists at Playa Hermosa de Uvita, Puntarenas, were arrested Saturday as part of a “megaoperativo” conducted by Costa Rican police.According to a press release issued by the Public Security Ministry (MSP), two tourists — a Canadian and a Costa Rican — reported that they had been approached and threatened with a machete while walking on a secluded area of the beach.The tourists were robbed of a cell phone and other items.But thanks to the “megaoperativo” — a relatively new strategy during which all Costa Rican police are mobilized to high-profile, high-crime areas — the two suspects were soon apprehended.MSP has credited the “megaoperativo” for helping to reduce Costa Rica’s homicide rate in 2018. Costa Rican police apprehended men suspected of robbing a pair of tourists. Photo courtesy MSP.President Carlos Alvarado tweeted Sunday evening about the successful “megaoperativo,” writing that “intense work has generated positive results as we work toward a safer Costa Rica.”.@seguridadcrc desarrolló un megaoperativo este fin de semana en terminales de autobuses, aeropuertos, hoteles y carreteras. Tras un intenso trabajo se generaron resultados positivos, estamos trabajando por una Costa Rica más segura.https://t.co/1eNwrncCBF— Carlos Alvarado Quesada (@CarlosAlvQ) January 13, 2019Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica’s justice minister: ‘We are not releasing inmates’ Michigan fugitive John Saatio to be extradited Saturday Coast Guard seizes 2.5 tons of sailfish On eve of historic sex tourism trial, Cuba Dave is optimistic he’ll be acquitted
Quick workouts for men New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Tensions simmer between Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite communities, yet they share an increasingly widespread despair. Al-Qaida-style attacks are on the rise, faith in the government’s ability to keep people safe is on the wane and a fatalistic acceptance of a life of fear is perniciously settling in.Nine years after the U.S. led an invasion of Iraq that overthrew dictator Saddam Hussein _ purging the leadership and military of his supporters and leading to a fight against insurgents in a bloody guerrilla war that left more than 100,000 dead _ Iraq’s outlook is increasingly bleak in summer 2012.Instead of a Western-style democracy functioning in peace and cooperation, what’s been left behind is dysfunctional and increasingly violent. Many of the attacks of the past month have targeted Shiites on annual religious pilgrimages, raising fears of a return to the deadly cycle of destructive violence between Sunni and Shiite communities.“The Sunnis should be warned that there will be retaliation if the attacks against Shiites continue,” Hashim, 18, said Wednesday in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood. The impoverished area in the capital’s northeast is home to the Shiite Mahdi Army militia that battled al-Qaida during Iraq’s darkest days between 2006 and 2008. “They messed up the country, and they had to reorganize it and to rebuild what they demolished,” he said. “Right up until now, nothing has been rebuilt.”Others, like Baghdad shopkeeper Ali Izzat, a Sunni, said he’s happy the Americans are gone. “They were occupiers, and we see them as oppressors.”Izzat isn’t fazed much by the recent attacks, though he allowed it might be because he’s seen so much worse: His shop in Baghdad’s mostly Sunni Harthiya neighborhood damaged by bombs three times in 2007.“We feel sorry for the victims, of course,” he said, when asked if Iraq’s bloody past month worries him, displaying his innate sense of pessimism: “But because of all we have seen in the past, we are almost used to it.”___Associated Press Writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad, Nabil al-Jurani in Basra, Iraq, and Yahya Barzanji in Kirkuk, Iraq, contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments Share More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories Associated PressBAGHDAD (AP) – Whenever he leaves his home, Mohammed Jabar, a Sunni Muslim, carries his cellphone so his family can find out quickly whether he is safe if a deadly bomb attack hits. Shukria Mahmud, another Sunni, rarely ventures from her house because of the rash of violence that is gripping Iraq.Laith Hashim, a young Shiite Muslim, is considering moving away from Iraq if security continues to disintegrate. Such a breakdown, he fears, would spark a new round of bitter sectarian fighting of the kind that brought the nation to the brink of civil war just a few years ago. “Patience can’t last forever,” he warned.Iraqi officials and experts say worries of an impending blowup is exactly what Sunni extremists linked to al-Qaida are banking on. Dozens of bloody bombings and drive-by shootings that have killed 286 people over the past four weeks, including 11 on Wednesday, bear the terrorist network’s hallmarks. Most of the victims have been Shiite pilgrims, security forces and government officials _ three of al-Qaida’s prime targets.So far the surge in violence has fallen well short of open warfare. Iraqis fear it’s more likely they’re destined to struggle through years of misery without fully hitting bottom, before things get much better.Part of the problem is the dysfunctional Iraqi government that, so far this year, has failed to protect its public or settle internal power squabbles.“We do not have the right to think about the future, because nobody is sure whether he is going to stay alive even for the next few minutes,” said Jabar, 22, a hotel employee in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. “We might die anytime and anywhere, so it is useless to think about what will happen for the years ahead.” Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice But starting in June, no more than three days passed without a major attack, showing the insurgency’s ability to regroup more quickly. Experts say the extremists may have been emboldened by the government’s obvious distraction by feuding between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his political rivals among Sunnis, Kurds and some other Shiite politicians who complain he is amassing too much power in his own hands.Iraqis, certainly, mince no words in blaming their leaders for the violence.“The security situation will be improved only when the politicians stop their daily fighting over personal ambitions,” said Qassim Salman, 65, a Shiite who owns a video arcade in the southern city of Basra.Whatever the cause, the surge in violence has rekindled a gloomy sense among Iraqis _ a feeling that nine years later, the Americans have moved on, and they are left facing an immediate future of grinding violence.“This is not a normal life. How long do we have to live in fear?” asked Fuad Karim, 63, a Shiite who runs a laundry in Baghdad’s Kazimiyah neighborhood.Karim opposed the U.S. invasion, but he also said the American pullout, completed Dec. 18, was a mistake. Several people interviewed across Iraq on Wednesday said there’s no doubt their lives have gone downhill recently, and hope for improvement is waning.“We used to say that tomorrow will be better than today,” said Firas Hadi, 41, a Shiite who owns car accessory shop in Baghdad. “But today, we say today is better than tomorrow.”Mahmud, 57, the Sunni woman, said the violence has made her think twice about going outside, although “we have to leave every once in a while to get some fresh air.” Walking with her niece in the Sunni-dominated Mansour neighborhood in Baghdad, she observed, “We can’t just stay home forever.”What’s worrying about Iraq’s recent wave of attacks is how they’ve increased in frequency and size. In the months before U.S. troops left, extremists were still launching large-scale attacks that killed dozens every few weeks, but analysts said they needed the time in between to coordinate and gather explosives.A relative drop in the number of attacks in recent months had raised cautious hopes that life might inch back toward normal, despite political struggles, the corruption and an administration that can’t even provide more than a few hours of electricity each day in the capital.
Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates The marchers carried signs reading, “Pena, how much did it cost to become president?” and “Mexico, you pawned your future for 500 pesos.”Mexico City officials put the size of the crowd that reached its central Zocalo plaza at 50,000.Pena Nieto, who says the vote was clean and fair, won Sunday’s election by almost 7 percentage points, according to the official count.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Check your body, save your life More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family MEXICO CITY (AP) – Tens of thousands of protesters are marching through Mexico’s capital against President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto, accusing his party of buying votes to help him win the country’s presidential vote.The protesters, including students, youths and leftists, accuse his long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party of giving out bags of groceries, pre-paid gift cards and other goods to voters ahead of Mexico’s July 1 national elections. Comments Share Sponsored Stories Top Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths How do cataracts affect your vision?
Quick workouts for men 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories STOCKHOLM (AP) – Swedish activists clashed with police amid a hail of bottles and fireworks in downtown Stockholm on Saturday as they tried to break through a police line and attack an anti-Islam demonstration.Police spokesman Kjell Lendgren said around 400 leftists had gathered to heckle the 100-strong demonstration, which was rallying to bring attention to what it perceives is the Islamization of Europe.He said the leftists shouted and blew vuvuzelas to drown out anti-Islam and nationalist speeches, but then started throwing bottles and lit fireworks at police, injuring two officers. Lendgren said ten activists were arrested, after which the situation calmed down.Both the anti-Islam meeting and leftist protest continued peacefully and were scheduled to end at 1600 local (1400GMT).Nationalist groups such as the English Defence League were instrumental in organizing the anti-Islam event, which was described on the anti-Islam European Freedom Initiative’s website as the “first worldwide counter-jihad action.”In the counter protest, local activists called for tolerance and warned of a rise in fascism. They referred to the nationalist groups as “Breivik’s foot-soldiers” _ a reference to Norwegian ultra-nationalist Anders Breivik who killed 77 people in Norway last year.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments Share
Associated PressBELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Wildfires are destroying forests, rivers are being reduced to a trickle, crops are wilting on the scorched farmland and electricity supplies are running low.After the harshest winter in decades, the Balkans region in the southeast of Europe is now facing its hottest summer and the worst drought across the area in nearly 40 years, officials say.The record-setting average temperatures _ which have been steadily rising for years because of global warming, according to scientists _ have ravaged crops, vegetables, fruit, and power production in a region that already is badly hit by the global economic crisis. Abdyladi Krasniqi said, “In my 73 years, I do not remember the river being so low and the heat being as severe.”Back at the Sarajevo market, Nermina Hasanovic, 52, is selling eggs and a handful of vegetables from the small part of her garden that she has been able to water.“They are so small and wrinkled. They look like they are already cooked. I’ll probably end up feeding them to the cows,” she said.Somehow, as they did during the wars of the 1990s, Bosnians are using dry humor to keep their spirits up.“We were wondering,” Hasanovic said, “if the Americans will be able to grow something on Mars? Meanwhile, we will grow cactus. Can you eat cactus?”___Aida Cerkez, Irena Knezevic, Eldar Emric, Radul Radovanovic, Amer Cohadzic from Bosnia; Jovana Gec, Marko Drobnjakovic, Darko Vojinovic from Serbia; Veselin Toshkov from Bulgaria, Alison Mutler from Romania and Nebi Qena from Kosovo contributed.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement But forestry specialist Dalibor Ballian in Sarajevo said warm southern winds made the snow melt and evaporate quickly. “Therefore, we entered the spring with a deficit of water in the ground,” he said. “Now this deficit has hit the record. We will suffer for several years to come.”Again, in less than a year, water levels of the Danube in Serbia and Bulgaria are below those required for safe shipping, officials said.Bulgarian authorities banned ships with large loads from several stretches of the river. Recently, a cruise ship with 100 tourists hit ground near the Bulgarian town of Svishtov because of the low water level, and the passengers remained stuck in the shallow water until the vessel was towed.In Romania, exporters of forest fruit _ blackberries, blackcurrants and raspberries _ in Transylvania have been hit by the dry spell, and small-time farmers have been unable to produce quotas they need to export the fruit to Germany and other Western European countries.“We used to produce 100 tons. Now it’s hard for us to collect 10 tons,” said Adrian Parlea, spokesman for the Forestry Department in the Romanian county of Mures, a major region for forest fruit supplies. This year, farmers all over the Balkans are turning to the heavens for help.“This is lost,” Ljubisav Tomic, a Serbian farmer said, pointing to his corn field, yellow and dried out with cracks in the soil. “Only God can help us, only heaven can save us.”In Bosnia, Ajsa Velagic prays to Allah before offering potatoes at the market in Sarajevo, the capital. The 64-year-old said, “There are no large ones, the drought is killing everything.”Adding to the troubles are dozens of wildfires, also fueled by the extreme heat.Blazes have destroyed hundreds of acres of forests and bush in Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro. Some of the fires raging on the border between Serbia and Kosovo are beyond control because of minefields left over from the war over the former Serbian province in 1999.Potato crops and corn farms are among the worst hit by the drought as irrigation systems in the former Yugoslavia, built under communism, remain clogged and out of date, leaving most of the farmland at nature’s mercy.The drought in the Balkans is being compared to a similar disaster now under way in the United States, with the economies such as Russia likely to profit by exporting food, wheat and other crops to the Balkan states. The dryness is best seen in small rivers and lakes around the region, with the water levels dropping to only a few centimeters (inches) in some cases.Hydropower plants in Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia have scaled down production because of the lack of water, and authorities say electricity will have to be imported as the result.In Macedonia, officials have warned that even the supply of drinking water could be in jeopardy.“The level of water in the lakes and rivers is very low, and it is possible that we’ll be without drinking water,” hydrologist Konstantin Ugrinski told local media. “That is why we call on people to use water extremely rationally, only for drinking and washing.”In Serbia, the Palic Lake in the north has been artificially filled with thousands of gallons of water from a river to save its fish and ecological system.One of Bosnia’s main rivers _ Bosna _ has turned into a “drainage channel, and entire animal and plant populations have disappeared,” said Ballian.In western Kosovo, the town of Prizren that is a UNESCO heritage site and the home to medieval Serb Orthodox Christian churches and Ottoman mosques, has seen the river Bistrica reduced to a trickle. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Quick workouts for men Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top holiday drink recipes Because of the drought’s effect on livestock, analysts forecast a sharp increase in the retail price of meat and milk, adding to the hardship of one of Europe’s poorest regions.“This year’s damage from drought is 30-80 percent, in some areas even 100 percent,” Tihomir Jakovina, Croatia’s Agriculture minister, said during a tour this week of his country’s eastern farmlands.In Serbia, the agriculture ministry said the corn and soya harvest _ the country’s main export items _ will be halved compared to last year, triggering losses of more than $1 billion ((EURO)800 million).In Bosnia, the heat has destroyed almost 70 percent of vegetables and corn, said Sead Jelec, an official at the Association of Agriculture Producers.“The past six years have been very dry in this region, but this one is definitely the worst, we can say catastrophic,” Jelec said. People in the Balkans “should brace for a really bad year.”The region also had a very dry autumn, which emptied the rivers, including the mighty Danube _ Europe’s biggest waterway. That was good news at first because last winter was extremely snowy and cold in the Balkans, and there were fears of floods once the snow starts melting. Top Stories Comments Share Sponsored Stories
Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project He said Wednesday that hundreds of militant veterans of the bush war that led to independence in 1980 barricaded his downtown offices late Tuesday.Biti, who is a close aide of former opposition leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, says he will not bow to demands for him to quit.(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 Sponsored Stories HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) – Zimbabwe’s finance minister says militants from the president’s party tried to invade his office demanding his resignation after they didn’t receive an increase in their salaries and pension claims.Finance Minister Tendai Biti insists he can’t pay them until diamond mining earnings controlled by loyalists to President Robert Mugabe are fully paid into state coffers. Austerity measures in Zimbabwe’s troubled economy have triggered death threats against Biti, including live ammunition sent in the mail and one gasoline bomb attack at his home. Comments Share Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement
For much of the uprising, Aleppo largely remained on the regime’s side, with little rebel activity. The city’s businessmen could use their influence, threats and payoffs to make sure of that _ with tens of thousands on their payrolls and the countryside dependent on them.What few anti-Assad demonstrations that did take place early on came from the dormitories of the University of Aleppo, home to students from rural parts of the province.Then the rebels from the countryside launched their surprise attack on the city in July. They moved into its impoverished, mainly Sunni districts, where residents are mostly of rural origin. They have since used those areas as their base from which to wage their bid to take over the city. To this day, all of Aleppo’s rebel-held areas are poor, while the city’s affluent parts remain under government control, with life there reportedly continuing much as it had before.Once inside the city, the ranks of the rebels swelled with Aleppo volunteers bitter over their poverty.Mohammed Al-Ali, 25, is one of them.Just back from a two-day stint on the front lines in Aleppo _ “the enemy was no more than 15 meters away from our position,” he said _ Al-Ali is fighting as much for social justice as for freedom. In a blue tracksuit and tennis shoes, he spoke of a father with a meager pension of $200 and a family so poor he had to drop out of school and take various jobs in shops to make ends meet as prices skyrocketed across Syria in the past decade.“We sold everything in the house that we did not absolutely need,” Al-Ali said.Besides being a fighter, he earns a monthly wage of $80 as a helper in a field hospital.“I am hoping that when this is over, I will go to university and study Arabic literature. This is my dream,” he said.The rural fighters also bring with them their more fundamentalist religious outlook, which the trauma of war has only deepened. Most rebels in Aleppo wear beards, a hallmark of piety, and their conversation is filled with verses from the Quran or sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. They frame the fight in a religious context and speak of martyrdom as something they wish for.They often trade stories of miracles showing God’s support for them.Waiting at a field hospital as one of his fighters was treated for shrapnel wounds, a rebel commander who goes by the nickname of Abu Ekrimah recounted one such tale to a comrade.The burly, bearded commander with piercing hazel eyes _ his vest full of ammunition magazines and an automatic rifle slung over his shoulder _ told how a long-bearded man with a reputation for piety once gave his brigade’s fighters some homemade grenades. He instructed them to ritually wash themselves as if for prayers and then throw them while shouting, “God is great!” Comments Share Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project “We followed his instructions, and we could see that when we tossed them, they changed course in midair to score direct hits against the enemy,” Abu Ekrimah said.“God is great!” his comrade exclaimed at hearing the story.For some of the Aleppo rebels, the war against the regime has inspired a turning point in their personal journey of faith.The rebel Abu Ahmed has images stored on his mobile phone of party dresses he once designed as a tailor working in Egypt, Lebanon and Aleppo: low-cut, strapless, see-through in parts. He says designing such revealing dresses was part of a past he has now put behind him.He also has a picture of himself with a bruised forehead and a deep cut under his left eye _ what he said was the result of a beating from regime loyalists while taking part in a street protest in May 2011. He now is an ambulance driver for the rebels, who revere him for his seeming fearlessness in battle zones.“Initially, I wanted it to be a peaceful revolution against the regime, but now it is a war fought in defense of our faith,” according to the bearded Abu Ahmed.It is impossible to gauge the degree of support enjoyed by the rebels in the parts of Aleppo they control. The rebels acknowledge that many residents are fed up with the hardships they endure. Four benefits of having a wireless security system “The city of Aleppo has not really joined the revolution,” acknowledged one 32-year-old fighter who goes by the name of Abu Ahmed and is from the nearby town of al-Bab. “All of us are from rural Aleppo.”Like some other rebels, he spoke on condition he be identified only with that nickname _ by which he is widely known among his comrades _ fearing that use of his real name could bring retaliation on his family.The battle for Aleppo is a stark illustration of how Syria’s conflict, now in its 19th month, is as much a revolt of the underclass as a rebellion against the regime’s authoritarian grip.The countryside surrounding Aleppo is dotted with small farming towns where the population is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, with a social fabric built around strong family and clan ties, primarily guided by local customs and a conservative brand of Islam.In contrast, Aleppo’s estimated 3 million residents are a mix of Syria’s main ethnic and religious groups _ Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Alawites, Christians, Kurds, Turkomen and Armenians _ with a relatively liberal lifestyle.The northern city is home to a powerful community of factory owners, manufacturers and merchants, mainly from prominent Sunni families, who were largely allowed to operate without government interference while the Assad family’s Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, kept its grip on political power. Regime forces punish the city daily with artillery and airstrikes. Civilians are killed and wounded while standing on bread lines, walking the streets or watching TV at home. Snipers target civilians in areas where rebels have positions. The staff at the rebels’ field hospital said 80 percent of the 100-120 cases they treat daily are civilians.Even in rural Aleppo, there is a degree of disgruntlement over the impact of the fighting on the local economy. State-supported farmers’ associations that once sold fuel, seeds and fertilizers no longer do so. Black market prices for the items are so high it’s not worth planting some crops when the season starts in December.The fighting also almost completely shut down markets that traditionally bought their produce of wheat, barley, chickpeas and olives.“Supplies were available for the last farming season, but this season will be a very difficult one,” said Mazen Aleto, a local council member in Tel Rifaat, a village north of Aleppo. “There may not be a harvest this time.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The blend of poverty, religious piety and anger could define the future of Aleppo, and perhaps the rest of Syria, if the rebels take over the country’s largest city, which is also its economic engine. They may be tempted to push their own version of Islam, which is more fundamentalist than what is found in the city. Their bitterness at the business class may prompt them to seek ways of redistributing the wealth.“Those who have money in Aleppo only worry about their wealth and interests when we have long lived in poverty,” said Osama Abu Mohammed, a rebel commander who was a car mechanic in the nearby town of Beyanon before he joined the fight.“They have been breast-fed cowardice and their hearts are filled with fear. With their money, we could buy weapons that enable us to liberate the entire city in a week,” he said.With neither side able to decide the battle after three months of fighting and with winter fast approaching, however, the rebels from the countryside in Aleppo province risk losing the popular good will they have enjoyed from their fellow impoverished Sunnis in the city.On Saturday, civilians pelted a group of rebels with broken glass as they headed to the front line because they feel the fighters’ presence brings the regime’s destruction down on them, according to an Associated Press photographer and cameraman who witnessed the incident. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Associated PressALEPPO, Syria (AP) – Most of the rebels fighting government forces in the city of Aleppo fit a specific mold: They’re poor, religiously conservative and usually come from the underdeveloped countryside nearby.They bring to the battle their fury over years of economic marginalization, fired by a pious fervor, and they say their fight in the civil war is not only against President Bashar Assad but also the elite merchants and industrialists who dominate the city and have stuck by the regime. The rebels regard this support for the government to be an act of betrayal. Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk The flashpoints of the uprising have been the poorest parts of the country.It began in March 2011 in the impoverished southern province of Daraa. A drought hitting parts of the country displaced tens of thousands of people from farming areas, putting more pressure on the economy. The city of Homs, which has been a main center of the rebellion, is known as “the mother of the poor” because the cost of living is lower and its population generally less well off. When Damascus saw its worst fighting yet in July, it was largely in the capital’s poorer districts that the rebels operated.The gap between rich and poor across Syria grew in the more than a decade of free market economic policies initiated by the late Hafez Assad and accelerated by his son, Bashar, when he took power in 2000.Focused on the service sector, the new policy benefited a tiny segment of the country’s 22 million people, particularly a clique of regime-linked businessmen and the mostly Sunni merchant class in Aleppo and Damascus, who have largely stuck by Assad. But the policies also triggered steep price increases that reduced many Syrians to poverty, particularly among the country’s broader Sunni majority. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix
Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister, is making her first visit to Asia since taking over as the EU’s high representative for foreign and security policy in November. She also visited South Korea and met with President Park Geun-hye.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories “On climate change, let me say that the European Union appreciates very much the role that China has been playing and is playing,” Mogherini told reporters in Beijing.A unified EU-China approach will help make the Paris talks a success, something that is a “common joint responsibility,” she said.A leading U.S. envoy for climate change expressed similar sentiments on a visit to Beijing in March. That appears to be raising hopes for a global plan to cut greenhouse emissions following the last U.N. climate summit in 2009 which ended without a significant agreement.China is the world’s biggest emitter and has pledged to level off carbon emissions by around 2030. That commitment has garnered widespread affirmation, although some experts say China’s emissions need to peak much earlier to stave off major climate consequences.Mogherini addressed reporters during a break in talks with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, the government’s senior foreign policy adviser. She said discussions also touched on major global issues and concerns over human rights and Beijing’s restrictions on civil society.Mogherini said the sides agreed on the need for a negotiated settlement to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists, and praised China’s role in talks on a framework agreement over Iran’s nuclear program. BEIJING (AP) — The European Union’s foreign policy chief said Tuesday she’s confident the EU and China can agree to a common approach on climate change ahead of crucial carbon reduction talks in Paris this year.Federica Mogherini praised China’s targets for gradually reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and said the sides should be able to agree on other goals at an upcoming bilateral summit. European Union Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini, left, shakes hands with China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi after a joint press conference at Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing, China, Tuesday, May 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Comments Share New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Parents, stop beating yourself up How do cataracts affect your vision? Top Stories
Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean She said the bakers knew the customer, Gareth Lee, was gay and they would have provided him a cake bearing a message that supported traditional heterosexual marriage.The judge ordered the family-run Ashers Bakery to pay Lee 500 pounds ($775) and legal costs, which have run into the tens of thousands.Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission pursued the lawsuit on behalf of Lee, who had ordered the cake for a gay rights event. Same-sex marriages were legalized last year in the rest of the United Kingdom but remain unrecognized in Northern Ireland.“This is not about the cake,” said Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission. “It’s about whether someone like Gareth must walk into a shop or hotel or restaurant and wonder: Can I be served here because they may have a different religious opinion of me?”Ashers Bakery initially accepted Lee’s order but called him two days later to cancel it, citing the bakery owners’ evangelical Christian beliefs. Lee had wanted the cake to depict “Sesame Street” characters Bert and Ernie alongside the pro-gay marriage slogan.Opinion polls indicate majority opposition to gay marriage in Northern Ireland. In March, thousands rallied in support of Ashers Bakery. Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Top Stories The bakery owners’ son, Daniel McArthur, said their family would refuse to make the cake if asked again.“We just want to live and work in accordance with our religious beliefs,” he said. “We know we’ve done the right decision before God, and we’ve no regrets about what we’ve done.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. DUBLIN (AP) — A Northern Ireland bakery was found guilty Tuesday of discrimination for refusing to make a cake bearing the slogan “Support Gay Marriage,” a verdict welcomed by human rights activists but denounced by Christian conservatives in the British territory.In her ruling, Belfast Judge Isobel Brownlie called the bakery’s cancellation of the order “direct discrimination for which there can be no justification.” The judge said the bakery was a business, not a religious organization, and therefore had no legal basis to reject an order based on a customer’s sexual orientation or beliefs. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation The vital role family plays in society
If the subsidies survive, the Affordable Care Act will look like settled law to all but its most passionate opponents. But if they are overturned, the shock could carry into next year’s elections. Some potential consequences:___BAD TIMINGAround the time when the court announces its decision, insurers will be working to finalize premiums and plans for the coming year. Contracts with the government for 2016 health law coverage have to be signed by early fall. If the subsidies are overturned, insurers would have to tear up their projections about markets in more than half the states.Populous states such as Texas, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Georgia and Pennsylvania would be among those affected.State lawmakers could mitigate the impact by setting up their own insurance markets, or exchanges. But that can’t be done overnight.States might try authorizing an exchange, and then contracting with the federal government to run it. But that sort of end run might prompt lawsuits from opponents of the law.In any case, most state legislatures will be out of session by the summer.During arguments, Justice Samuel Alito raised the possibility that the court might be able to delay the effective date of its decision. Even a delay through the end of this year wouldn’t buy much time. Enrollment for 2016 health law plans is scheduled to start Nov. 1. Obama’s law offers subsidized private insurance to people without access to it on the job. In the court case, opponents of the law argue that its literal wording allows the federal government to subsidize coverage only in states that set up their own health insurance markets.Most states have not done so, because of the intense partisanship over “Obamacare” and in some cases because of technical problems. Instead, they rely on the federal HealthCare.gov website.If the court invalidates the subsidies in those states, an estimated 8 million people could lose coverage. The results would be “ugly,” said Sandy Praeger, a former Kansas insurance commissioner.“People who are reasonably healthy would just drop coverage,” she said. “Only the unhealthy would keep buying health care. It would really exacerbate the problem of the cost of health insurance.”Praeger, a Republican who retired this year, called it “a classic death spiral,” using a term for market collapse.Oral arguments on March 4 revealed a divided court. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy seemingly are key to the outcome, which won’t be known until late June. Comments Share WASHINGTON (AP) — A Supreme Court ruling due in a few weeks could wipe out health insurance for millions of people covered by President Barack Obama’s health care law. But it’s Republicans — not White House officials — who have been talking about damage control.A likely reason: Twenty-six of the 34 states that would be most affected by the ruling have Republican governors, and 22 of the 24 GOP Senate seats up in 2016 are in those states. Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean The health law created one big insurance pool in each state, combining customers who purchase their policies directly with those who buy through the government market. If healthy people exit the insurance exchanges in droves, premiums for those buying directly would go up. Some may be unable to afford the higher cost.“It would set off cascading events,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “The individual market would empty out as premiums rise significantly.”___REPUBLICANS TO THE RESCUE?Leading congressional Republicans have been walking a fine line, opposing the law in the Supreme Court case while pledging to protect consumers if their side wins.If the subsidies are overturned, Republicans will first try blaming Obama and the Democrats for writing flawed legislation and then trying to paper over problems with regulations. Then they’ll move ahead with a patch to appease angry constituents.A bill introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., would continue the subsidies for existing customers only on the federal exchange until Sept. 2017. That would open a window for states to act, but it would ultimately leave the problem for the next president and Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is a co-sponsor. Johnson’s bill would repeal the requirements for individuals to have insurance and for larger employers to offer coverage to workers.Obama is unlikely to accept any of those changes.“The president is likely to veto whatever we would propose, because we don’t have a willing partner,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., leader of a GOP working group on health care.Copyright © 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 ___HOUSE OF CARDSThe health law was designed as a balancing act. Insurers can’t turn people away because of health problems, but most healthy people are required to contribute to the insurance pool, and the government subsidizes most of the premium for low- to middle-income households.Take away subsidies, and the other two parts become unstable.The law’s requirement to carry insurance, never popular, would probably become the biggest target for repeal.“My guess is there would be overwhelming political support for the elimination of the individual mandate if people can’t afford the premiums,” said former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who was an influential Obama adviser on health care.Insurers would demand relief from provisions of the law intended to limit premium increases, or they might drop out of the insurance exchanges.___STICKER SHOCK FOR SELF-PAY CUSTOMERSMany people still buy individual health care policies directly from an insurance company, bypassing the law’s markets and paying the full cost. They tend to be small-business owners, self-employed professionals and early retirees.But even they would not escape the tumult in states losing subsidies. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches FILE – In this March 4, 2015 file photo, demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, as the court was hearing arguments in President Barack Obama’s health overhaul which, if successful, could halt health care premium subsidies in all the states where the federal government runs the insurance marketplaces. A Supreme Court ruling expected in a few weeks could wipe out health insurance for millions of people covered by President Barack Obama’s health care law. But Republicans _ not White House officials _ have been the ones talking about damage control. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)