Drivers with license plate numbers that end in 5 or 6 will be allowed to enter downtown San José Wednesday, as vehicle restrictions will be temporarily suspended.Public Works and Transport Ministry officials decided to suspend the restriction in observance of the April 11 holiday that celebrates Juan Santamaría, a national hero.Vehicle restrictions normally apply based on the last number of license plates on cars traveling through a restricted urban zone, which includes downtown San José and on the Circunvalación, a belt route around the city. The fine for violating vehicle restrictions is ₡46,852 ($90). Facebook Comments Related posts:Vehicle restrictions to be suspended for the holidays on Dec. 23 Heavy vehicles restricted by traffic police this weekend Costa Rican vehicle restrictions return Monday Driving Restrictions Suspended
Month: August 2019
Millions of tourists come to Costa Rica every year to experience the country’s world-renowned natural treasures and to enjoy a taste of Costa Rica’s friendly, welcoming hospitality. Over the last decade, however, as the price of quality health care has skyrocketed in the United States with no apparent end in sight, another breed of tourist – the medical tourist – is arriving, intent on seeking out the best and most affordable healthcare options that have made Costa Rica the envy of its Latin and North American neighbors.The medical tourism upswing in Latin America is a new and exciting trend created by two critical factors.First, there’s disparity in healthcare pricing between first world countries like the U.S. and Canada and their less developed cousins to the south, like Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico. For example, a knee replacement may cost upwards of $40,000 in the U.S. and only $8,000-$12,000 in leading Latin American hospitals. A dental implant may cost $3,000 in the U.S. compared to a price tag of only $700-$900 per tooth in a top Costa Rican dental clinic.Second, there’s the disparity caused by a lack of availability. Certain procedures with long waiting lists in North America are widely available at much lower prices in other countries. For example, many Canadians simply do not have access to some medical procedures when needed, due to long patient waiting lists. Additionally, many cutting-edge or alternative procedures such as stem cell therapy are simply not available in the U.S. due to ongoing political and scientific debate. These procedures are available in many countries around the world and are gaining popularity in Latin America as well.While countries like India and Thailand are global leaders in medical tourism, a report by McKinsey & Company indicates that medical tourists from the U.S. and Canada prefer Latin American countries like Costa Rica, citing proximity, shorter flights, affordable costs and the chance for a memorable vacation as the main reasons for their preference.While the pricing for medical services is often 50 to 70 percent less than comparable care in the U.S., many medical tourists choose Costa Rica for the excellent reputation of its private health care system. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, Costa Rica is rated higher than the U.S. and many other first world nations in terms of quality health care. A visit to any of Costa Rica’s top private hospitals and dental clinics will provide evidence of Costa Rica’s preferred status. Modern hospitals, medical clinics and dental centers with cutting edge medical technology are staffed by board-certified doctors and surgeons with impressive national, North American and European training.About 500,000 North Americans travel abroad each year for health care services. While exact numbers are hard to pin down, it has been reported that Costa Rica received approximately 75,000 to 100,000 medical tourists in 2010. These numbers are expected to grow along with Costa Rica’s reputation as a global leader in medical tourism.For those involved in the health care or tourism sectors, medical tourism represents a significant revenue opportunity. While hospitals, medical clinics and dental centers are clear beneficiaries of increased medical and dental tourism, many hotels, restaurants, tour operators and all of their associated supply chain partners tend to view medical tourism as an outstanding growth opportunity.While the average tourist may stay an average of eight to nine days, medical tourists visiting Costa Rica stay an average of 11 days and often travel with friends and family, dramatically increasing tourism revenues. With medical tourism revenues anticipated to exceed $100 billion globally in 2012, Costa Rica stands to earn an increasingly larger piece of this very big pie.-Patrick Goodness Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica to host annual medical tourism summit Major medical tourism summit nears Medical tourism up in Costa Rica; Expomed set for this weekend Tourism and health sectors seek to boost medical tourism in Costa Rica
No related posts. Costa Rica’s Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER) on Monday released a report saying the sector generated a total of 553,690 direct jobs in the past year.Of that number, firms that export goods employed 413,437 workers (75 percent), 9.4 percent more than in 2011. The services export sector created 140,253 jobs, – 25 percent of total jobs recorded this year.According to PROCOMER, service companies creating the most jobs are those in tourism (86,137 jobs created), free zones (32,559), information and communications technology (16,557) and medical tourism (5,000).Of jobs created by companies exporting goods, 47 percent is in the industrial sector and 53 percent is in agriculture.PROCOMER said the data was obtained from a census of 2,485 companies with exports exceeding $12,000 between July 2011 and June 2012.The study also noted that 60.6 percent of jobs created by the export sector is attributed to small- and medium-sized businesses, while 19.1 percent is from micro-enterprises. The remaining 20.3 percent was created by large companies.During the first nine months of 2012, Costa Rican exports grew 8.4 percent, generating revenue of more than $8.5 billion, the study noted.Costa Rica leads Latin America in jobs created by the export sector, with a figure of 29 percent growth, followed by Chile with 24 percent. Facebook Comments
Lindsay Fendt Ashley Harrell What to do and seeA first-time visitor to Bocas del Toro will likely be overwhelmed by the postcard-like scenery. The dockside hotels and restaurants, low hanging palm trees and crystal blue water form the perfect Caribbean island cliché, but for the intrepid tourist, Bocas del Toro offers far more than lounging around.Whether by air or by boat, tourists arrive to the archipelago via Bocas Town, the province’s capital on its largest island – Isla Colón – which also serves as the launching point for most of the area’s activities.On Isla Colón: Aside from being the restaurant/bar and tour-booking hub of Bocas del Toro, Isla Colón is also home to many of the archipelago’s best beaches. Bikes are available for rent for around $5 per day from virtually any hotel in Bocas Town. Four-wheelers, scooters and motorcycles are also available for rent and both land and water taxis frequently pass.The coastal road that stretches northeast out of Bocas Town is the portal to the island’s best surf breaks, and it’s a great bike ride. Once the pavement turns to sand, surfers can reach Playa Paunch, the Dumpster and Playa Bluff, three of the island chain’s most well-known surf spots. The laidback beachfront art lounge Paki Point is along the way, offering delicious food, cold beer and board rentals.For those looking for a more secluded adventure, the island’s extreme northern beach, Boca del Drago, allows overnight camping for those hoping to spot sea turtles. Nearby is the Playa de las Estrellas, the beach of stars, known for its clear water and abundant starfish. Local buses leave daily for the beaches, but don’t attempt to bike there – particularly on a beach cruiser. Carnero: While Isla Colón is chock-full of hostels and up-all-night party bars, Casa Acuario sits just a $1 water taxi away on the more relaxed Isla Carenero. The two-story, five-room turquoise hotel perches on a dock over the shallow, aquamarine water. The air-conditioned rooms each have their own semi-private balconies with a hammock, table and chairs overlooking the ocean. Guests can catch a water taxi right off the dock using the hotel’s handy signaling light, or step right off the back porch onto one of the island’s white-sand swimming beaches.Solarte/Bastimentos: For those seeking an even more private and natural experience, there’s the Garden of Eden, which actually sits on its very own extension of mangroves from Isla Solarte. Though it was once a clothing-optional resort, a down-to-earth new owner has taken the place in a more general-audience direction, renovating the three spacious and elegant waterfront cabins and bringing on an incredibly skilled chef. A stay includes access to a refreshing pool, a friendly Weimaraner named Zeus, and kayaks. It’s just a short paddle over to Isla Bastimentos’ Red Frog Beach as well as Los Secretos resort, which serves up pizza from its wood-fired oven Thursday-Sunday. It’s a bit of a climb to reach the hilltop restaurant, but the views of the surrounding islands are well worth it. On Bastimentos, options range from the La Loma Jungle Lodge (which operates it owns coffee farm), to the upscale, beachfront and jungle-side cabins of Casa Cayuco. Where to eatOver the past 10 years, a thriving culinary scene has evolved in Bocas Town to offer a wide array of international and local dishes. Nothing quite beats the lobster though, and on our first night there, we stumbled into Hotel Bocas Town based on its lobster signage. A six-pound monster had just been caught by a local fisherman and sold to the hotel, and we purchased it for a mere $40. It took two hours to devour the succulent meat. Delicious.Other restaurants of note include Guari Guari – a hidden marvel known for six-course masterpieces, Bocart– a gastronomic, “MediterrAsian” fusion place with Caribbean flair, and La Casbah – a romantic option with great service and mouthwatering steak.On Isla Carenero, Bibi’s on the Beach is an old favorite. Under a thatched-roof by water, Bibi’s serves up some of Bocas del Toro’s best Caribbean-style seafood. Reasonably priced tropical seafood sandwiches and freshly caught whole-fish are on the menu, but the restaurant is best known for its ceviche, which changes daily based on that day’s catch. It wasn’t long ago that Panama’s Caribbean archipelago, Bocas del Toro, was a hidden, nine-island prize for adventurous travelers. Today, new hotels and restaurants are unveiled every few months, and the string of tropical islands is far from secret. But with plenty of great dining establishments, hotels and activities, spending a week in Bocas definitely still feels like a win, particularly in September and October when the Pacific side is rainy.Just a four-hour bus-and-boat trip from the Costa Rican Caribbean travel destination of Puerto Viejo, Bocas del Toro has become a popular border-run destination for expats and a convenient stop for travelers aiming to visit both countries. There’s even talk of branding the two destinations as a coastal package deal, offering relaxation with a splash of culture.The wildlife is nothing to sneeze at either. Smack in the middle of a huge coral reef system, Bocas’ nine main islands and 200-some islets are home to a diverse population of fish and marine mammals. In addition to the area’s great diving and snorkeling, the ocean’s coral floor generates amazing surf breaks. For those more comfortable on land, the islands’ well-developed tourism industry has it all: chocolate farms, bat caves, white-sand beaches and a rollicking bar scene. Lindsay Fendt On Isla Bastimentos: About a 10-minute boat ride from Isla Colón, Isla Bastimentos is a mix of untamed wilderness, remote beaches and upscale luxury developments. The island is home to what are widely regarded as the best beaches in Bocas del Toro – Red Frog and Wizard Beach. The Red Frog tour company also has ziplining, snorkeling and fishing tours. Additionally, Bastimentos hosts a large community of the indigenous Ngobe-Buglé people.Visitors can grab lunch at the community’s center, Bahía Honda, and then hit up the area’s most popular tour, Nivida Bat Cave. Though definitely not for the claustrophobic, the bat cave is worth undertaking for those looking for a wonderfully creepy experience. Though he does not speak English, the Ngobe-Buglé guide Rutilio Milton knows the cave inside and out (6726-0968).Tours: Just about every boat-owner in Bocas del Toro offers some kind of informal half-day tour. Everything from sloth and dolphin spotting to snorkeling and underwater tow surfing are available for about $25 to $40 per person. For something more unique, try a tour to the uninhabited beaches on the far-flung Zapatilla islands, which offer white sand beaches surrounding pristine jungle (entrance to this national park costs $10). For diving tours and certification courses, head to Starfleet Scuba right off the main road in Bocas Town, and for a booze cruise, ask around about the Trunca Negra – an old refurbished steamship set to hit the waters again in coming weeks.Where to stay Ashley Harrell A water taxi flies by the Casa Acuario dock on Isla Carenero. Water taxis are the preferred mode of transportation in Bocas del Toro and can be hired for as little as $1 per person per trip. Bocas Town: Hostels abound, but for travelers looking for a more upscale and tidy experience, there is the TripAdvisor favorite, Tropical Suites. The waterfront boutique hotel’s 16 well-appointed suites feature triptych paintings of red frogs, Jacuzzi tubs and fully stocked kitchens. The Serta pillow-topped mattresses are super comfy, and offer semi-private balconies facing the ocean and the nearby Isla Carenero, which also offers a few great sleeping options. Tropical fish congregate around the dock at the hotel Garden of Eden on Isla Solarte. Related posts:Bocas del Toro: The definition of ‘island paradise’ Nature Air adds flight to Bocas del Toro Panama Canal expansion hits $570 million snag Panama Canal begins centennial countdown amid expansion works Lindsay Fendt Casa Acuario on Isla Carenero sits on a dock right over the water. An ocean view room at Tropical Suites in Bocas Town. If you’re just looking for a refreshing drink and some light bites, try The Wizard smoothie at La Buguita or a passion fruit cocktail at Maracuya.Where to drink By day, Bocas del Toro is known for its tropical beaches. By night, the island chain is legendary for its party scene.While there is no shortage of beer-friendly hostels on Isla Colón, none are quite like hostel/bar combo Mondo Taitu. With cheap drink specials and shots with names like alien brain hemorrhage, this backpackers haven is popular almost every night of the week.Right off the main street in Bocas Town, the Iguana Surf Club’s dockside dance floor and waterfront patio invites swimsuit-clad partiers every week.Trampolines, swings and dock holes fashioned into swimming pools might not sound like the safest thing for a bunch of drunk partiers, but the owners at Aqua Lounge seem to disagree. If inebriated water acrobatics aren’t your cup of tea, the lounge also hosts beer pong and beer Olympics tournaments ever week.If ping pong is more your style, the Bocas Book Store (which doubles as a super-fun bar) hosts a competitive tournament every Sunday. Facebook Comments Bibi’s on the Beach on Isla Carenero serves up delicious Caribbean-style seafood.
A clandestine airstrip in Potrero Grande, in Costa Rica’s northwestern province of Guanacaste. The airstrip was used to traffic guns and drugs, according to a former CIA pilot. Julio Laínez/The Tico Times Nicaraguan guerrilla fighters led by Edén Pastora, known as “Comandante Cero,” pictured here in 1983.The Tico Times Second in a series. Read the first part here.Costa Rica’s Santa Elena Peninsula in the northwestern province of Guanacaste was the site of a smoking gun in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair, the scandal that rocked the administration of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Santa Elena also was the site of extensive drug trafficking back then, according to pilot who now says he trafficked cocaine and guns to a secret airstrip on the peninsula.The airstrip was located in Potrero Grande, a 1.6-kilometer valley on the coast some 15 km south of the Nicaraguan border. According to former CIA contract pilot Robert “Tosh” Plumlee, drug smugglers used the airstrip for years, even before U.S. Lt. Col. Oliver North came looking for a staging area for arms flights into Nicaragua’s “Southern Front.”A team of journalists, including Tico Times reporters, discovered the airstrip in September 1986.“Santa Elena had been on a drug-running route long before we started using it to help arm the Southern Front,” Plumlee told The Tico Times.Somehow, North fell in with the owner of the property, the Santa Elena Development Corporation, represented by North Carolina native Joe Hamilton. North took out a $5 million mortgage on the property for an unknown purpose.“Men with maps” approached former Costa Rican President Luis Alberto Monge to obtain his blessing to create a full-scale air base at Potrero Grande, arguing that it would be needed if Sandinistas attacked Costa Rica. After he left office, Monge told The Tico Times he assumed the men were U.S. officials. He readily agreed.A phantom Panamanian company, Udall Resources, set up by retired U.S. Gen. Richard Secord and “owned” by a “Robert Olmstead” – the pseudonym of William Haskell, a Maryland accountant and North’s Vietnam buddy – was contracted to extend the airstrip in 1984 to enable it to accommodate large C-130 transport aircraft.Iran-Contra investigators discovered that a “cabal” had elaborated a plan to conceal the backing of Nicaraguan Contras by the U.S. government at a time when the U.S. Congress had prohibited the Reagan Administration from aiding the Contras.Plumlee said he flew to the Potrero Grande airstrip before North dubbed it “Point West,” beginning in 1983, in a smaller C-123 transport plane.Plumlee estimated that he trafficked up to 30,000 kilograms of cocaine from Medellín and Bogotá, Colombia, out of Potrero Grande.When Óscar Arias became president of Costa Rica in May 1986, he ordered U.S. Ambassador Lewis Tambs to shut down the site. But the refurbished airstrip had become operational the same month Arias took office, and remained open for business, Plumlee said.Residents in the neighboring communities of Liberia and La Cruz spotted airplanes flying low over the hills of Santa Rosa National Park, which bordered the airstrip.A team of journalists set out to find the airstrip in September 1986. When they traveled to Santa Rosa National Park to ask about the mysterious flights, a U.S. scientist working in the park said, “It’s about time.”If the U.S. government was running a drug interdiction operation through Potrero Grande, it was a secret to the Costa Rican government. After journalists discovered the airstrip, then-Public Security Minister Hernán Garrón said Costa Rican police had seized the airstrip the previous month.“We didn’t know if we’d find Contras or armed drug traffickers,” Garrón told The Tico Times at the time. In the early morning hours of April 4, 1985, Costa Rican cops, accompanied by DEA agents, stormed Finca California, a mansion in the Ojo de Agua area of Alajuela near Juan Santamaría International Airport, and arrested Caro Quintero and his cohorts.According to press reports, Caro Quintero complained to the arresting officers that he had paid handsomely for refuge in Costa Rica.Later that morning at the DEA’s office in the U.S. Embassy, DEA-agent-in-charge Don Clemens was on the telephone to Costa Rican officials trying to convince them to hold Caro Quintero for extradition to the United States, to no avail.Instead, the Monge administration loaded Caro Quintero and his entourage onto an airplane and deported them to Mexico the same day the drug lord was captured.Another Costa Rican Legislative Assembly commission, which investigated the circumstances surrounding Caro Quintero’s stay in Costa Rica, concluded that a “superior political authority” was responsible.As for Caro Quintero, the drug kingpin vanished after his release last Julyfrom a Mexican prison. Mexican authorities ignored a U.S. extradition request.In the ’80s, no one imagined the link between Caro Quintero’s ranch in Veracruz, Mexico, and the Santa Elena airstrip in Costa Rica – two pieces of a puzzle that on the surface had little do with each other.While reporters have focused on isolated incidents, the entire picture of the Contra drug saga has yet to come into focus, according to Celerino Castillo, a former DEA agent and author of “Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War.”“All this is very well documented, but no one has put the pieces together,” Castillo said. “But the pieces do fit together.” In October 1986, the Sandinista army shot down a C-130 carrying arms to the Contras and captured a cargo kicker named Eugene Hasenfus, the only crew member with a parachute.Journalists given access to documents found aboard Hasenfus’ airplane linked the flight to the CIA. A Tico Times reporter determined that two phone numbers found in logs in the wreckage belonged to the home and the embassy office of CIA San José station chief Joe Fernández (code-named Tomás Castillo), a foreshadowing of the Iran-Contra scandal that erupted the following November, when U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese revealed that the U.S. government had sold weapons to Iran and used the proceeds to help arm the Contra rebels.The chain of events raised questions over how much the U.S. government, in general, and the CIA, in particular, had aided the Contra cause when a congressional prohibition was in place.In Costa Rica, a Legislative Assembly commission, acting on findings richly informed by the U.S. Senate Committee investigating Contra involvement in drugs and chaired by then-Senator – now-Secretary of State – John Kerry, prohibited a number of former U.S. officials – including North and Ambassador Tambs – from entering Costa Rica.Eventually, the Arias administration expropriated the Potrero Grande land and it became a part of Santa Rosa National Park – but not before a protracted court battle with the airstrip owners and the direct intervention of then-U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who held up an Inter-American Development Bank loan to Costa Rica to prod the Arias administration over the “investment issue.”The Costa Rican government ended up paying about $13 million for the property, after negotiations arbitrated by the World Bank.The fact that Mexican drug cartel kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero was a supporter of the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan rebels, providing a training and staging area for arms flights to the Contras at his Veracruz, Mexico, ranch, also casts a different light on the drug lord’s escape to Costa Rica and the circumstances surrounding his short stay in the country.In early March 1985, tipped off that Caro Quintero was about to fly out of Guadalajara to escape the manhunt that had prompted U.S. President Ronald Reagan to close the U.S. border with Mexico, DEA agents raced to the city’s airport to find agents from Mexico’s Federal Security Directorate (DFS) protecting Caro Quintero’s Gulf Stream jet.According toHéctor Berrellez, the DEA’s lead investigator into agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena’s 1985 kidnapping, torture and murder, Caro Quintero appeared in the doorway of the airplane holding a bottle of champagne and shouting to the outgunned DEA agents: “My children, next time bring more guns.”Caro Quintero was flown north to Sonora by Costa Rican pilot Warner Lotz – another CIA contract employee, according to Plumlee – to see his brother Miguel before Lotz flew the cartel boss to his ranch in Veracruz. Plumlee said he was waiting there to take Caro Quintero across the border to Guatemala, where yet another pilot, Luis Carranza, flew him to Costa Rica.Caro Quintero and his entourage, which included several cronies and his girlfriend Sara Cosio, passed through Customs unchecked upon arriving in San José. According to some reports, they may have first landed at an unsupervised provincial airstrip, making their arrival in San José a domestic flight exempt from passing through Customs.The participation of so many CIA contractors in Caro Quintero’s escape raises questions about whether the CIA might not have arranged for Caro Quintero to come to Costa Rica, where he could be more readily nabbed.“Absolutely not,” Berrellez said. “The only reason the Costa Rican government moved to arrest him was because we [the DEA] told them exactly where he was.”The DEA had pinpointed the drug lord’s location by tapping a telephone at the Mexican home of Cosio’s parents. Cosio had called home and tipped off the DEA, Berrellez said. An aerial view of the U.S. government’s secret airstrip in Santa Elena Peninsula, northern Costa Rica.The Tico Times Related posts:Reagan administration, CIA complicit in DEA agent’s murder, say former insiders Reports: CIA present during U.S. drug agent’s torture, murder Doctors complicit in torture at CIA, military prisons: study U.S. supports clean energy initiatives in Costa Rica Facebook Comments
While a few political flags waved in the streets Saturday night, Costa Ricans quietly readied themselves for the end of a hard-fought electoral campaign and a Sunday vote to decide the country’s next president and Legislative Assembly.For the first time, two of Costa Rica’s left-leaning parties have a solid shot at taking the presidency and disrupting decades of ruling party governance.Despite occasional honking of caravans supporting one of the top four candidates, most of the country’s cities and neighborhoods were quiet Saturday, as some three million voters get ready to pick President Lauran Chinchilla’s successor.The outcome is anyone’s guess, as polls show a tight race between National Liberation Party candidate Johnny Araya, Broad Front Party candidate José María Villalta, the Citizen Action Party’s Luis Guillermo Solís and Libertarian Movement Party candidate Otto Guevara.Polls showed Araya and Villalta as the two frontrunners heading into Sunday’s vote. But Solís came on strong in the final weeks of the campaign, more than doubling his support in polls last week.On Saturday, Villalta – a progressive candidate who opponents attempted to link with the socialist governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua – acknowledged that he had been assigned a police security detail after reportedly receiving death threats. Villalta, however, seemed unfazed by the development.“We have reinforced security a little, which is normal as Election Day approaches. It’s normal that candidates boost security,” he said, according to the news site AmeliaRueda.com.Araya, the 56-year-old former mayor of San José, and lawmaker Villalta, 36, have traded the top spot in several polls in recent weeks. Pollsters say they are in a virtual tie. Right behind them are Solís and Guevara, with nine other presidential candidates and several legislative candidates on the ballot. Supporters of Costa Rican presidential candidate for the ruling National Liberation Party Johnny Araya wait for the start of a rally in San José on Jan. 31, 2014. Rodrigo Arangua/AFPThe candidates spent the day Saturday playing football in parks, walking through neighborhoods with supporters, and visiting markets and coffee plantations.Many analysts say an April runoff is unavoidable, as none of the candidates appear in a position to reach the 40 percent of the vote needed to win in a first round.“It’s practically impossible to avoid a second round. But it’s difficult to determine which candidates will make it,” political analyst Víctor Ramírez said.Ramírez pointed out that according to the most recent polls, undecided voters topped some 30 percent – a significantly high number in a country that has the longest and healthiest democracy in the region.Corruption and inequalityDespite its lauded social and democratic stability, which contrasts with Central American neighbors, economic inequality grew more in Costa Rica in 2013 than any other Latin American country, and with it, public discontent, said analyst Constantino Urcuyo.“There are huge corruption cases, we have a 20 percent poverty rate and inequality is growing. People are tired and they want solutions,” 46-year-old vendor Manuel Rodríguez said.That set the stage for the quick rise of a leftist lawyer and environmentalist who spoke out against corruption and a free trade agreement with the United States, converting himself into the “protest vote” for many Costa Ricans, analyst Jaime Ordóñez said.Villalta and Solís blame the traditional political class for the country’s current woes, and note that the ruling PLN has dominated the political scene for the past 60 years, along with the now-weakened Social Christian Unity Party. Many voters have grown disenchanted with the PLN’s neoliberal economic model implemented over the last 30 years. Critics say that policy has slowly eroded the public health and education systems, among others, which had been a source of deep pride for the country of 4.3 million.“The time for change has arrived. Thirty years of the neoliberal dark night is about to come to an end. They call me a communist because they can’t call me corrupt. But I won’t be copying other models,” Villalta said, referring to his opponents’ allegations that the young progressive would follow the path of Venezuela and its late leader Hugo Chávez, who died last year.Araya, meanwhile, has promised to reactivate the economy, decrease poverty and modernize the country.“There are those who have an apocalyptic vision. But I want to build upon our strengths,” Araya said.Serving as the capital city’s mayor for more than two decades, Araya inherits significant contempt for the past eight years of PLN administrations in the Casa Presidencial. His party’s current president, Laura Chinchilla, has the worst approval ratings in the hemisphere, and her administration has been criticized over corruption cases and accusations of incompetence.Although Costa Rica has shown stable economic growth – 3.4 percent in 2013 – the country has been unable to reduce poverty in two decades. Its infrastructure is falling into disrepair – particularly the roads and ports – and the fiscal deficit tops 5.4 percent while the national debt totals 50 percent of gross domestic product.Not a typical electionCosta Rica’s complex political panorama is marked by a fractured Legislative Assembly, and the next president – who takes office on May 8 – will face the difficult task of promoting policy through the Assembly.“Party and ideological lines have become blurred,” Ramírez said.Unlike past elections, where large caravans of cars, rallies in plazas and parks, and colorful flag-waving took place across the nation on the days leading up to the vote, this year’s campaign was bitterly fought mostly on social networks.Supreme Elections Tribunal President Luis Antonio Sobrado said the TSE would begin releasing results at 8 p.m., two hours after the polls close.If the vote count between the top two candidates is less than 2 percent, a manual count will take place, he said.Polls open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 6,515 polling centers, and will be monitored by the Organization of American States and other delegations. Some 12,000 Costa Ricans living abroad will be allowed to vote for the first time.Follow updates throughout the day at http://ticotimes.net.Here’s what the presidential ballot will look like: Related posts:UCR poll: Araya, Villalta, Solís neck-and-neck as campaigns close Luis Guillermo Solís and Johnny Araya head to April 6 runoff after close Costa Rica vote The real communist threat in Costa Rica CID-Gallup poll shows Araya might avoid presidential election runoff Facebook Comments
Costa Rica has failed to address the migration of its highly skilled workers and “lacks strategies to take advantage of Costa Rican talent outside the country,” a recent survey noted.Luis Muñoz Varela, a researcher at the University of Costa Rica’s Institute for Educational Research (INIE), surveyed Tico professionals working and living abroad in order to conduct the report. Muñoz contacted 145 expat professionals and academics who are affiliated with the Costa Rican Talent Abroad Network (Red Ticotal), part of the National Academy of Sciences.Most respondants said they don’t see institutional or governmental interest in bringing them back to Tiquicia or taking advange of their research and work, Muñoz told The Tico Times.Ticos participating in the survey recommended the Foreign Ministry establish a program of periodic meetings, workshops and similar events to share findings with local professionals. The meetings could be held either in the countries where expats reside or in Costa Rica, they said. They also said local universities should offer more exchanges in order to bring Tico researchers, academics and other professionals to Costa Rica to share their knowledge with students.Another suggested priority is the creation of government programs to help generate new jobs in Costa Rica to persuade expats to move back home. “There are very few incentives to return to the country, and most respondents believe the number of talented professionals seeking opportunities abroad is increasing,” Muñoz said.Costa Rica does not have recent data on the “brain drain” phenomenon, but research funded by the World Bank in 2009 determined that from 1990-2000, 9 percent of Costa Rica’s population with higher education moved abroad each year.The figure was lower than the Central American average, which at the time was 13 percent. “But it is logical to think that figure has increased, considering factors such as economic globalization and increased interest by local students to pursue post-graduate degrees abroad,” Muñoz said.Another factor of Tico brain drain is the increased presence of foreign companies in Costa Rica, which eventually send local employees abroad for training. Many employees also are relocated to other countries.An easing of immigration policies in some countries also has boosted the trend. The United States, Germany and the U.K. are among countries that recently reformed immigration laws to facilitate the arrival of highly qualified professionals from other countries, Muñoz said.Prior to the survey, Muñoz researched local agencies and organizations in an attempt to locate records of work being done abroad by Costa Rican professionals, but he didn’t found a single document or statistic.He decided to conduct the survey of members of Red Ticotal, an organization of Tico scientists and other professionals living in 20 countries. More than half – 54 percent – live in the U.S., followed by 9 percent in Germany, 5 percent in Canada and 5 percent in Spain.While some may be alarmed at the study, when compared to other countries, Costa Rica’s brain drain seems miniscule.A report by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (OECD) in October 2013 indicates that countries facing the biggest human capital flight usually show rates of 70 percent or more. Ethiopia is experiencing the worst brain drain in the world, with the country losing some 75 percent of its skilled professionals in the past decade. Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Iran, China, Mexico, Jamaica, Malaysia and the U.K. follow as the top brain-drain countries, each falling above 70 percent, the OECD report states. Facebook Comments Related posts:San Carlos hackathon aims to boost women’s roles in technology development Some members of Costa Rica’s business sector alarmed over ‘historic’ jump in unemployment Bacardí opens regional service center in Costa Rica Intel hiring for new Costa Rica operation
https://vine.co/v/OAJIrIL17IHStar striker Álvaro Saborío opened the scoring in his first game back with La Sele after missing the World Cup due to a broken bone in his right foot. His goal four minutes into the match helped Costa Rica hold off Oman 4-3 at the Sultan Qaboos Sport Complex in Sohar, Oman on Friday morning.Thanks to goals by Saborío, John Jairo Ruiz, Juan Bustos Golobio and David Ramírez, Costa Rica led 4-1 at one point. But the vaunted defense the Ticos had under their World Cup coach Jorge Luis Pinto, looked vulnerable and sloppy with interim coach Paolo Wanchope in charge. The Ticos, ranked 16th in the world, allowed more goals to 76th-ranked Oman than they did during the entire World Cup (two goals allowed in five matches).The majority of the line-up featured players who participated in Costa Rica’s historic run to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. However, La Sele sat its talisman Keylor Navas in goal — giving Esteban Alvarado his first start with Costa Rica in almost three years. The poor defense combined with Alvarado’s rust allowed Oman to get back in the match and almost tie it up late.The goalie received a yellow card just outside the box as time expired that gave Oman one last free kick to tie the match. The shot sailed high, and Costa Rica eked out the victory. La Sele remains undefeated in regulation play in the country’s last 10 matches (the Ticos lost in the quarterfinals to the Netherlands in penalty kicks).The attack benefited from the return of Saborío, who broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot two weeks before the start of the World Cup. He is Costa Rica’s third all-time leading scorer in international play. Alvarado returned from an even longer absence. He was suspended by the Costa Rican Football Federation at the end of 2011 after he abandoned the team before a friendly. The talented keeper only recently has earned his way back onto the national team roster.Navas will start La Sele’s next match when the team wraps up its two-game Asia tour against South Korea in Seoul on Tuesday.LA SELE GOALSÁlvaro Saborío (4 min.)https://vine.co/v/OAJIrIL17IHJohn Jairo Ruiz (45+2)https://vine.co/v/OAJlwrt2hlBJuan Bustos Golobio (47)https://vine.co/v/OA1AqQWFJTJDavid Ramírez (50) Related posts:Costa Rica great Paulo Wanchope insists Ticos will ‘keep surprising the world’ Costa Rica’s La Sele defeats South Korea 3-1 in friendly Football: Spain comes from behind to hand Costa Rica its third consecutive loss Injury may keep Costa Rica’s star goalkeeper Keylor Navas out of the Gold Cup Facebook Comments
Related posts:Costa Rica boasts clean energy — and bad car pollution PHOTO REPORT: University of Costa Rica celebrates World Environment Day One of Sea Shepherd’s missions in Costa Rica: Protecting whales To conserve the Amazon, the forest must become an economic ‘asset’ Ambassadors in Costa Rica from the European Union cycled on a new bike path along part of San José’s 4th and 6th avenues to encourage residents to leave their vehicles at home. The “cleteada” ended at the Legislative Assembly, where diplomats met with Costa Rican lawmakers to discuss the Paris Climate Conference COP 21 to be held in Paris, France, in December. “We are here to talk with Costa Rican lawmakers and show that it is possible to use the bicycle, a heathy and no-emissions vehicle, in the city. In Holland, we know that it is a slow process. but right now there are more bicycles than people,” Dutch Ambassador Mette Gonggrijp said. Facebook Comments
Facebook Comments Related posts:Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica Cultural Center anniversary, vegan fair, and more events around Costa Rica Thousands flock to Barrio Escalante’s La Luz outdoor festival on Sunday International Film Festival, The Nutcracker, and other happenings around Costa Rica A food fair, free and open to the public, will celebrate Costa Rican examples of the “Slow Food” movement this Friday in western San José.The Mercado de la Tierra, or Earth Market, will feature foods from Turrialba cheese and pejibayes to traditional dishes and indigenous artwork.“We’re promoting high-quality projects that are developed with clean technologies that minimize the damage to human, animal and environmental health, said Patricia Sánchez, coordinator of the Agromática program within the National High Technology Center (CeNAT), in a news release.The Slow Food movement began in Italy in 1980 to defend regional culinary traditions, proper nutrition and the pleasures of a mindful, slower life. Today it has inspired projects in more than 160 countries, including Costa Rica, the statement said.This Friday’s fair will run from 9 am – 4 pm at the Franklin Chang Building in Pavas, 1.3 km north of the U.S. Embassy. For more information, call 2519-5835.
The Tico Times is grateful toVecinos Activos Cueva de Luz, a community news site focused on the San José neighborhood of La Carpio, for sharing photos and stories from Election Day with us.Vecinos Activos (Active Neighbors) is “a social enterprise that was born from the need for a media outlet belonging to La Carpio… to show the dynamic and vivacious nature of a community where, in the past, only dramatic or somber news has been reported,” the website states.This year’s election in the low-income settlement west of downtown San José was affected by the fact that La Carpio residents could not vote within their own district due to ongoing construction of their new elementary school. Vecinos Activos project coordinator Augusto Bolaños told the Tico Times that while the change in voting location did provoke confusion and may have affected voter turnout, one highlight of Election Day was that “many young volunteers from La Carpio who could not vote because they were underage, or immigrants, worked as guides at the Escuela Otto Hubbe,” the voting site.“They informed voters about party platforms, helped with voter transportation and with organization throughout the day,” he wrote in an email. “They were responsible for the positive atmosphere we experienced at the school.”Take a look at how the day unfolded: Young people from La Carpio brought color and cheer to the electoral process with flags from their favorite parties outside the Escuela Otto Hube in La Uruca. Courtesy of Augusto Bolaños / Vecinos Activos This child crossed the street to invite people from Carpio and La Uruca to go to the Escuela Otto Hube to vote. Even though he identified with a party, he was committed to help people from all parties come and vote. Courtesy of Augusto Bolaños / Vecinos Activos Alberto Yglesias Vicente voted early in the morning at the Escuela Otto Hubbe. He chose to stay all morning at the school to enjoy the day along with his pets Venus and Lizzy. Courtesy of Augusto Bolaños / Vecinos Activos Courtesy of Augusto Bolaños / Vecinos Activos Courtesy of Augusto Bolaños / Vecinos Activos Residents of Pavas at the Supreme Elections Tribunal’s information station to verify where they should vote. Courtesy of Augusto Bolaños / Vecinos Activos Don Evelio Castro with his daughters Carolina and Valeria at the Escuela Carlos Sanabria in Pavas. Three different parties. One family. Courtesy of Augusto Bolaños / Vecinos Activos The Yglesias Vicente family collaborated by providing parking spots at the Escuela Otto Hube. They provided coffee and food to the voters regardless of the party they supported. Courtesy of Augusto Bolaños / Vecinos Activos Carlos Sanabria was the only voter observed by the Vecinos Activos team who was visibly supporting the candidate Fabricio Alvarado at the Pavas voting center. Courtesy of Augusto Bolaños / Vecinos ActivosRead more election coverage from Vecinos Activos here. Facebook Comments Related posts:With flags and cheers, Costa Rica faces an uncertain future on Election Eve And they’re off! Live blog: Costa Rica’s 2018 election results A night of surprises
Related posts:Capture the magic: Final call for national photography contest Walking on water: The Nicoya Peninsula’s ‘Jesus Tree’ Alleged gold miners camp outside Corcovado National Park, demand compensation President Solís tours Poás Volcano region following strong explosion ARENAL VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK —It almost seems silly, hiking several kilometers through secondary forest to see a single tree.That is, until you reach it.The highlight of Arenal Volcano National Park’s El Ceibo trail is an enormous tree thought to be at least 400 years old.Unlike most of the nearby forest, this Ceiba tree survived Arenal Volcano’s massive 1968 eruption, which killed 87 people and wiped out hundreds of kilometers of vegetation and livestock. And there it stands today, towering over its surroundings, a tree older than the country itself. The giant ceiba tree at Arenal Volcano National Park. Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico Times***Visiting Arenal Volcano is a quintessential part of any tourist trip to Costa Rica.That much is evident as you drive through the town of La Fortuna. Signs in English advertising upscale hotels, hot springs and adventure tours are almost everywhere you turn.Of course, the principal attraction is the volcano itself, the conical behemoth that dominates the landscape.Though you can see the stratovolcano from nearly everywhere in the La Fortuna district, Arenal Volcano National Park provides an up-close view at a bargain for Costa Rican citizens and permanent residents.Founded in 1991, the national park and its popular Las Coladas trail takes visitors to a lookout point atop hardened lava flows from Arenal’s past eruptions. Map of trails at Arenal Volcano National Park. Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico TimesThe park expanded its options for visitors in 2017 with the inauguration of a paved peninsula trail that also provides excellent lookouts for the volcano and Lake Arenal. (Unfortunately, clouds covered much of the volcano during a recent visit, though the sky was much clearer the following day.) Lookout point from Arenal Volcano National Park. Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico TimesAt 1.2 km (0.75 miles) one-way, the out-and-back trail can easily be completed in 90 minutes, even factoring in time for stops. And – perhaps because it’s relatively new – the hike is teeming with wildlife. Aerial view of foliage at Arenal Volcano National Park. Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico TimesA pair of toucans flew between trees near the trailhead as I approached the ranger station in my car. Toucan in the tree at Arenal Volcano National Park. Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico Times If you’re revisiting an old classic in Arenal, the El Ceibo and Peninsula trails make the national park a worthwhile stop.Arenal Volcano National Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rates are 1,000 colones (about $1.70) for nationals and permanent residents, and $15 for adult non-residents. More information at SINAC.go.cr. Facebook Comments In the vegetation by the road, a large golden orb spider sat motionless on its web. Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico TimesDuring the hike, I spotted great curassow birds waddling on the trail, an agouti, two coatis feasting on ants, and a group of collared peccaries that looked surprised at the disturbance and then ran into the forest. Arenal Volcano National Park’s new peninsula trail. Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico TimesThe new peninsula trail also features a tower for treetop views of Arenal and a covered structure at the water’s edge for more sights of the lake and the volcano. (Park rangers advised against swimming, citing crocodile concerns.) Lake Arenal from the National Park’s peninsula trail. Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico Times
Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) – A Nigerian lawmaker who led a probe into the nation’s fuel subsidy program that saw billions of dollars lost through fraud has been charged with allegedly soliciting a $3 million bribe from someone targeted by the inquiry.Rep. Farouk Lawan and his aide Emenalo Boniface pleaded not guilty Friday to the charges they face in a Federal High Court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Justice Mudashiru Oniyang ordered the two men to be held in prison until a bail hearing Feb. 8. Top Stories However, gasoline importation licenses became a means of patronage, as the number of companies involved jumped from six in 2006 to 140 in 2011, according to the report. In 2009, when there were 36 companies licensed to import, government officials once issued about $800 million in 128 transactions in a 24-hour period without proper documentation, the report reads.The probe ultimately called for $6.7 billion to be repaid by importers, the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. and other agencies. Allegations of corruption continue to hound the subsidy program, which eats away billions from Nigeria’s federal budget. However, the comparatively low fuel prices as a result of the subsidy program are one of the few benefits seen by the masses in Nigeria.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The allegations surrounding Lawan and Boniface stem from their investigation of Femi Otedola, the chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd. and a powerful ally of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Charging documents released by the court Friday show investigators claim the two men sought a $3 million bribe from Otedola to remove his company from a list of firms suspected of stealing some $6.7 billion from the government through the subsidy program.Prosecutors accused Lawan of receiving at least $500,000 of the demanded bribe, while Boniface received $120,000. The alleged bribery scandal erupted when Nigerian newspapers published stories claiming Otedola and his associates filmed the encounters. The films have not been released publicly, though Otedola cooperated with police in their investigation.The bribery allegations quickly overshadowed the work of the House of Representatives, which launched a probe of the subsidy program in the wake of a January 2012 nationwide strike over the removal of the fuel subsidies.The subsidies, in theory, keep prices artificially low for buyers while paying companies for bringing in refined gasoline at a loss against the world market price. Nigeria, despite producing about 2.4 million barrels of oil a day, has decrepit refineries unable to meet the nation’s demand for gasoline due to years of mismanagement and sabotage. Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day How do cataracts affect your vision? 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Parents, stop beating yourself up Comments Share
New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies FILE – In this Feb. 6, 2012 file photo the then Prime Minister designate, Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, delivers a speech, in Bucharest, Romania. Romania’s Parliament has approved Tuesday, June 30, 2015, Ungureanu as the country’s spy chief, a position he previously held, which is seen as a defeat for the prime minister Victor Ponta. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File) Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Romania has intensified its anti-corruption drive in recent months.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s Parliament approved a new spy chief opposed by the prime minister on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the leader who faces increasing pressure to resign amid a corruption investigation.The vote was a major test for Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who is recovering from knee surgery in Turkey.Ponta opposed the nominee, Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, who was proposed by Ponta’s political rival, President Klaus Iohannis. Ruling party lawmakers boycotted the session. Ungureanu was approved in a 278-6 vote with the help of parties which had been previously allied to Ponta, to head the Foreign Intelligence Service — a post Ungureanu already held from 2007 to 2012.“It’s a mission that honors me which I think I have the knowledge to carry out,” the 46-year-old Ungureanu said after the vote.Ungureanu was prime minister for less than three months in 2012, before he was ousted in a no-confidence vote. Ponta then became prime minister, a post he has held ever since.Ponta is the subject of a money laundering, forgery and conflict of interest case while he was a lawyer in 2007-2008. He denies wrongdoing.After prosecutors named him a suspect, Ponta survived a no-confidence vote and lawmakers voted not to lift his immunity.However, his departure to Istanbul for an operation on June 15 and prolonged convalescence has caused rifts in his party. Ponta’s interim prime minister, Gabriel Oprea, approved Ungureanu’s nomination on Tuesday.Iohannis has repeatedly called for Ponta to resign, saying the corruption allegations are incompatible with the post of prime minister in a European Union country. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Sponsored Stories Comments Share Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Top Stories
__FINDING XU TINGIn the web of lies that counterfeiters weave — fake names, fake addresses, fake Internet domain registrations — one thing is always true: their bank account information.The need to get paid is the counterfeiter’s fatal flaw, and Xu Ting’s bank accounts were the first crack in her armor of misdirection.Her legal troubles began in 2008, when a federal judge in California ordered Xu Ting — who declined multiple requests for comment for this story — to pay Chanel Inc. $6.9 million in damages for selling counterfeits online. She still hasn’t paid the damages, according to Chanel spokeswoman Kathrin Schurrer.“The essential point for Chanel is really shutting down the counterfeiting operations, which we did successfully,” Schurrer wrote in an email.But after the lawsuit, Xu Ting’s business continued to grow.In 2009, a Florida judge ruled against Xu Ting and shut down seven websites she was accused of helping run that sold fake Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Celine. She did not show up in court.That case didn’t stop her either.The next year, Gucci, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta and Yves Saint Laurent — all brands belonging to France’s Kering group — filed a lawsuit in New York federal court against Xu Ting, her future husband, her younger brother, her mother and six others who the companies said sold more than $2 million worth of fake handbags and wallets online to U.S. customers. Gucci alleges that the group shipped merchandise from China to a house in San Diego, where it was repackaged and passed off as genuine. SHANGHAI (AP) — This could be the story of an American dream. An immigrant family builds a successful business and buys a four-bedroom house in a quiet neighborhood with good schools for their young son. But not all is as it seems on the steep, curving streets of San Diego’s Rancho Penasquitos.A 45-year-old Chinese woman, Xu Ting, lives in a brown shingle house with a weedy driveway. She has been sued for counterfeiting by eight luxury brands, including Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and owes Chanel Inc. $6.9 million in damages. None of this has stopped her from becoming a legal permanent resident of the United States and achieving a comfortable suburban life. But Gucci, which is seeking $12 million in damages, couldn’t find where the money was going because Chinese banks, including the state-run Bank of China, refused to disclose transaction details about the counterfeiters’ accounts in China.“BOC cannot comply with such orders without violating Chinese law,” the Bank of China said in an email.Kering declined to comment on pending litigation, but spokeswoman Charlotte Judet said in an email that Gucci would “vigorously enforce any judgment eventually entered against individuals who seek to tarnish its worldwide reputation for excellence no matter where they are located.”Meanwhile, in 2013, Xu Lijun bought the house in Rancho Penasquitos, according to property records. Two weeks after the sale, Xu Ting transferred her stake in the property to her husband. Immigration authorities have the Rancho Penasquitos address on record as her residence, said a person with access to immigration records who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is not public.A slight man in wire-rimmed glasses who answered the door at the Rancho Penasquitos house identified himself as Xu Lijun. Behind him, in a two-story foyer, there were voices of a woman and young child. Xu Lijun asked an Associated Press reporter why he had come, then said, “I don’t want to talk to you.” Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Decisions about whether to prosecute criminally typically start with a U.S. attorney’s office, whose priorities vary by district, said Bruce Foucart, director of the multiagency group. Some may give weight to the volume of faked goods, others to the suspect’s history. If the U.S. attorney’s office declines a case, investigators try to persuade local prosecutors.China is the largest source country for seized counterfeit goods, and apparel and accessories are the largest category of merchandise. Foucart, who didn’t know about Xu Ting, said luxury goods are typically made in Guangzhou and sent by container or courier like FedEx to the U.S. They may be sold in stores or flea markets but are usually hawked online.“Unfortunately, once you shut one (website) down, they have 10 more ready to open up in a different name,” said Foucart.Brand owners also bear responsibility. Government agencies often rely on them for tips and investigative legwork.U.S. law gives companies broad powers to enforce court judgments. Unpaid judgments accrue interest and last for 20 years, said Potter, the intellectual property lawyer. Even a bankruptcy won’t erase the debt. “The counterfeiter can’t own a business, buy a house, have a bank account or borrow money from a bank,” Potter said. “If the counterfeiter takes a regular job, the judgment holder can garnish her wages.” At a sprawling company compound in Beijing, no one answered the door at Xu Ting’s family apartment.“After your colleague’s visit, we communicated and she still did not want to do the interview,” the family’s lawyer in Beijing, Chen Peng, said. He declined to comment in detail on the U.S. court cases against Xu Ting and her family, but said they were not the prime culprits.“My client also thinks making counterfeits is illegal, but they did not make them,” Chen said. “She is exercising her rights when choosing not to appear in court, which shouldn’t merit any moral or legal judgment.”___GREEN CARD? NO PROBLEMXu Ting’s legal troubles did not prevent her from getting a green card. In February 2014, she became a legal permanent resident by virtue of being married to someone with an advanced degree or “extraordinary ability,” according to the person familiar with the matter.U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Christopher Bentley declined to comment, citing privacy concerns.Dan Kowalski, an immigration attorney and editor of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin, said immigration officials may not have known about Xu Ting’s legal problems but, more likely, didn’t consider them disqualifying. Grounds for denying a green card range from committing a serious crime to having communicable disease but there’s nothing about civil liabilities. “A vaguer requirement for “good moral character” is more commonly applied for citizenship, not legal residence. But doing the kind of work required to root out debtors like Xu Ting — public records searches to see whether they own real estate, subpoenaing credit card bills to track spending habits, hiring investigators to determine whether they have jobs — takes relentless commitment, and money.Schurrer, the Chanel spokeswoman, declined to comment in detail on Xu Ting but said California law prohibits seizure of a primary residence in civil litigation.“The biggest game changer for me would be if foreign companies took a more aggressive attitude toward enforcing their rights,” said Mark Cohen, former intellectual property attache at the U.S. embassy in Beijing. “We need to close the loops. I think there are a lot of companies that care a great deal about counterfeiting but, at the end of the day, there may be an economic calculation about how much money it’s worth to pursue these people.”___Spagat reported from San Diego. Associated Press writer Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report and news researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed from New York. Associated Press news assistants Fu Ting and Liu Zheng contributed from Shanghai and Beijing. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 ways to recognize low testosterone ___Kinetz can be reached at http://twitter.com/ekinetzCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Four days after the suit was filed, Xu Ting married a Chinese man, Xu Lijun, a civil engineer licensed in California who is six years her junior, according to her marriage license issued in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon.Gucci subpoenaed banking records. JP Morgan Chase handed over account records with a wealth of information about the couple: addresses, dates of birth, driver’s license, Social Security and passport numbers and a student identification card.In November 2010, Xu Lijun reached a settlement with Gucci — the only defendant to do so. He denied wrongdoing but agreed to let Gucci keep $400,000 in counterfeiting proceeds seized from accounts outside China. He also agreed to pay a $7,500 fine, according to a copy of the judge’s order.Eric Siegle, a New York City lawyer who represented Xu Lijun, said he was “a small-time nobody,” and that Gucci’s lawsuit, like many others, failed to tackle the real powers behind the operation.“The people they are arresting or suing here in the United States are low-level people,” Siegle said. “If you can find where the money is going, you can get to the heart of the problem. It’s like the drug wars. Why are we arresting all these kids on street corners?” 0 Comments Share In the U.S., most counterfeiting prosecutions are civil cases brought by companies seeking to shut down websites selling fakes and get financial compensation. Criminal cases, which lawyers say are a far more effective deterrent, are rare.“A person is more likely to be struck by lightning than imprisoned for counterfeiting,” said Geoffrey Potter, an intellectual property lawyer at New York’s Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler.In an email, Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said, “Large-scale commercial counterfeiting is one of the top enforcement priorities of the department’s Intellectual Property Task Force, which continues to have a number of significant prosecutions.”The Department of Homeland Security seized $1.2 billion worth of fakes at U.S. borders last year, but the Justice Department filed just 91 criminal cases for selling counterfeit goods and services in fiscal year 2014. By comparison, the Justice Department filed 22,530 cases for immigration violations, 12,184 cases for drug-related offenses and 12,509 violent crime cases during the same period.The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a multiagency group led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, reports slightly more counterfeit-related crime — 683 arrests, 454 indictments, 461 convictions in the 2014 fiscal year — because its tally includes local prosecutions and counterfeit-related activity, like wire fraud. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies In this Thursday, June 18, 2015 photo, a man walks outside a building in Beijing where an apartment is listed in Chinese official documents as being registered to Xu Ting, her younger brother Xu Lei, and their mother Zhao Peiyuan. Xu Ting, a Chinese immigrant living in the U.S has been sued for counterfeiting by eight different luxury brands, including Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and still owes Chanel Inc. $6.9 million in damages for counterfeiting, according to U.S. court documents. None of this has stopped her from becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States and amassing the trappings of a solid middle class life. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) Top Stories Sponsored Stories China is not the only country with a counterfeiting problem. Most fakes are made in China, but they are sold in America. Counterfeiting is not a priority on par with drug smuggling or money laundering, and is rarely prosecuted as a crime. The lack of legal cooperation with China makes it easy for counterfeiters to move their money beyond the reach of Western law enforcement — and hard to root out counterfeiting kingpins. As long as counterfeiters can stay out of jail and hold on to their profits — and consumers continue to buy — the trade in fakes will likely thrive.Despite spending millions on brand protection, companies often end up playing whack-a-mole, shutting down producers and distributors of fakes, only to see them pop up again. Xu Ting simply refused to show up in court over the years. Instead, doing graduate studies in statistics at San Diego State University, helped her family amass at least $890,000 in bank accounts back in China, and bought the $585,000 Rancho Penasquitos house with her husband, who has also been involved in selling counterfeit luxury goods, public records and court cases in China and the U.S. show.“There’s a million ways to game the system,” said Dan Plane, an intellectual property lawyer at Simone IP Services in Hong Kong, who is not involved in litigation against Xu Ting. “Probably the only thing that’s going to stop her is when she passes away — probably on an island resort somewhere — or if she gets arrested.” How do cataracts affect your vision?
Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories Top holiday drink recipes Sponsored Stories Men’s health affects baby’s health too SANCTIONSIran long sought the end of U.S. and international sanctions as soon as the deal came into force. But the United States wanted to postpone lifting the most significant restrictions until the later years of the deal.The compromise: a phased approach that will allow Iran to collect more than $100 billion in assets frozen overseas early on, while allowing the U.S. to maintain the ability to reimpose sanctions years into the agreement.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. But Iran’s supreme leader was forced to retreat on some key issues, too. Relief from crippling economic sanctions won’t come on Day 1, as he long clamored for, and his country will have to open up military sites to international inspectors at some point if the Islamic Republic is going to fulfill its commitments. Iran also will have to adhere to multiyear restrictions on enrichment and nuclear research and development that Ayatollah Khamenei and other leaders once opposed.A look at how Iran and world powers found middle ground on some of the agreement’s most contentious elements:ENRICHMENTEarly in Obama’s presidency, U.S. officials began backtracking from the long-standing U.S. position that Iran must cease all enrichment of uranium, which can be used for peaceful purposes or transformed into the stuff of nuclear warheads. But Washington wasn’t ready to accept more than several hundred centrifuges spinning under tight controls.The idea went nowhere with Khamenei or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s hardline president at the time. Even after the relative moderate Hassan Rouhani became president, Iranian officials still spoke about ramping up from some 20,000 centrifuges to some 190,000 of the machines. Comments Share WASHINGTON (AP) — The nuclear accord with Iran required a difficult series of compromises for world powers and Tehran.For President Barack Obama, it meant climbing down from demands that Tehran halt almost all of its enrichment of potential bomb-making material and shutter an underground facility possibly impervious to an air attack. It also meant dropping pledges to secure “anytime, anywhere” inspections and Iran’s complete answering of questions related to past weapons work. An Iranian woman shows the victory sign as people celebrate on a street following a landmark nuclear deal, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Overcoming decades of hostility, Iran, the United States, and five other world powers struck a historic accord Tuesday to check Tehran’s nuclear efforts short of building a bomb. The agreement could give Iran access to billions in frozen assets and oil revenue, stave off more U.S. military action in the Middle East and reshape the tumultuous region. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Both sides compromised with a decade-long cap of 6,104 centrifuges, and a little more than 5,000 that can enrich uranium. The Americans said that level would leave Iran far enough away from bomb-making capacity; the Iranians emphasized that their infrastructure remained in place.UNDERGROUND FACILITYWhen Iran’s secret nuclear installation at Fordo came to light in 2009, the U.S. and its European allies demanded its closure. Not only was it hidden from the world community, the site was so deep underground it was potentially bombproof. Iran said it would never scale back efforts there.The two sides found a solution earlier this year, making it a research institute while allowing the Iranians to continue developing their technological expertise. While Iran can continue running centrifuges at the facility, they have to use gases other than uranium for 15 years.INSPECTIONSIn a dispute that continued right up to the day of the deal, both Tehran and the West made inspections promises that proved tough to keep. Obama and his aides issued several pledges in recent months about securing the most stringent inspections regime in history, including the ability of U.N. nuclear agency monitors to visit sites wherever and whenever they choose. Tuesday’s accord doesn’t solve the matter. It does create a process to do that, and IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said he has a “roadmap” to wrap up his probe by mid-December. The country has failed to meet previous demands for it to come clean, but the West hopes the promise of added sanctions relief will be the difference this time.ARMS EMBARGOWhile the U.S. agreed to ease sanctions on Iran, it insisted that non-nuclear penalties would remain. Washington had a fight on its hands in the final days of the talks to maintain U.N. bans on Iran importing or exporting conventional weapons, and on Tehran’s purchases of ballistic missile technology.The American fear: Iran, flush with cash from the nuclear deal, ramping up weapons programs to the great chagrin of Israel and Sunni Arab states, and expanding its military assistance to forces in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere that oppose the U.S. and its allies.Iran pressed hard for the sanctions to be removed. And it divided the U.S. from some of its partners because Russia and China might benefit from increased arms sales to Tehran.In the end, Iran accepted the arms embargo for five more years, or shorter if the IAEA certifies it is undertaking no illicit activity. For ballistic missile technology, the ban expires after no more than eight years. Khamenei’s response was one of defiance. In fiery speeches to his nation, he insisted he would never open up Iranian military sites to inspectors or allow Iranian nuclear scientists to be interviewed.The final deal falls in between. International Atomic Energy Agency experts can ask to see military installations of interest and Iran can make counterproposals. But if the experts accept no alternatives, an arbitration panel would decide what access is appropriate. And the U.S. and its European partners can get what they want as the majority of that panel’s membership.PAST WEAPONS WORKWhen world powers and Iran reached an interim nuclear pact in November 2013, the United States laid out its position concerning the IAEA’s long-stymied investigation of past Iranian atomic weapons work. The final agreement, it said in a statement, “would include resolution of questions concerning the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program.”But instead of resolving the matter over the next 20 months, the nuclear agency struggled to get any answers from Tehran. The Iranians insisted that any evidence of wrongdoing was the fraudulent work of U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies. 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall
Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institution said in a blog post that the Iran deal could also show the value of negotiating with one’s adversaries.“What the agreement should cease is a few of the most enduring assumptions about U.S. policy toward Iran,” said Maloney, interim deputy director of the foreign policy program and senior fellow at Brookings.“In particular we should bid a good riddance to the taboo … against direct diplomacy between the estranged governments of the United States and Iran,” she wrote, adding that “the official no-contact policy that governs both sides seems rather quaintly outdated.”___Steven R. Hurst is AP international political writer and reported from Moscow for 12 years.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. WASHINGTON (AP) — Critics of the Iran nuclear deal claim it is flawed, among many reasons, because it does not demand that Tehran also change its behavior at home and abroad. That complaint ignores the United States’ long history of striking arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, a far more dangerous enemy.Those deals probably made the world a safer place through some of the darkest days of the Cold War and they proved talks could be productive even with a sworn adversary. How men can have a healthy 2019 Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies None of the deals, however, blunted U.S. efforts against what was seen as Soviet bad behavior, especially in Afghanistan.“What we had to do was confront the Soviets directly by arming the mujahedeen (anti-Soviet Afghan fighters) and other things while we pursued on a parallel track arms negotiations,” said William Courtney of the RAND Corporation and a former U.S. diplomat who worked on arms control and served in Moscow.“That’s probably the same strategy that we have to do with Iran. The Iranians were unlikely to agree to a nuclear accord that required them to stop arming Hezbollah or Assad or the like,” he said, referring to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah that is an avowed enemy of Israel and embattled Syrian President Basher Assad, Iran’s close ally.The same year that START was signed, Reagan unnerved the Soviets with a speech proposing a space-based system to knock out any nuclear attack on the United States at a time when the Soviets were falling further and further behind in weapons technology. While the program was abandoned after needed technology proved too complex, the ploy was similar to Nixon’s opening to China that also rattled the Soviets in the 1970s and likely prompted Moscow’s readiness for the detente period. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Dating as far back as the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 — less than a year after the Cuban missile crisis — U.S. administrations engaged the Soviet Union in agreements to limit nuclear threats while not linking deals to abhorrent Soviet human rights abuses and the active arming and funding of leftist, anti-American revolutionary movements around the world.As Cold War brinksmanship moved apace, the U.S., the Soviet Union, Britain, France and China signed on to the 1963 Nonproliferation Treaty. That agreement was designed to prevent other countries from developing nuclear weapons, while guaranteeing their rights to civilian nuclear technology — the very guarantee that, 47 years later, allows Iran to continue building nuclear facilities for power generation and medical research.The U.S. and the Soviets moved in the 1970s to a period of “detente” which spawned the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, known as SALT, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in the early 1970s. The treaties held despite the 1973 Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War, where conflicting alliances took the superpowers close to military conflict.Nuclear negotiations continued to a 1979 agreement on SALT II to further reduce nuclear arms. President Jimmy Carter pulled out of the deal six months later after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But just three years after that, staunchly anti-Soviet President Ronald Reagan unveiled the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as START, aimed at shrinking U.S. and Soviet warhead arsenals and the number of bombers and missiles to deliver the bombs. FILE – In this Oct. 7, 1963, file photo, President John F. Kennedy signs the Limited Test Ban Treaty during a ratification ceremony in the White House Treaty Room in Washington. Critics of the Iran nuclear deal claim it is flawed, among many reasons, because it does not demand that Tehran also change its behavior at home and abroad. That complaint ignores the United States’ long history of striking arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, a far more dangerous enemy. Dating as far back as the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963, U.S. administrations engaged the Soviet Union in agreements to limit nuclear threats while not linking deals to Soviet human rights abuses and the active arming and funding of leftist, anti-American revolutionary movements around the world. Watching from left are, Sen. John A. Pastore, D-R.I.; Undersecretary of State W. Averell Harriman; Sen. William Fulbright, D-Ark.; Sen. George Smathers, D-Fla.; Sen. George D. Aiken, R-Vt. (AP Photo/File) How do cataracts affect your vision? Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments Share Patients with chronic pain give advice
<a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/22d4c/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=132&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=a238f441″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X Despite a few major accidents in 2009, the year just passed has been one of the best in terms of safety performance, recording the second lowest accident rate in aviation history.According to the latest report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) the 2009 accident rate was 0.71%, or one incident one accident for every 1.4 million flights.Altogether there were 90 accidents in all aircraft types, compared to 109 in 2008, and of these 18 were fatal incidents, compared to 23 in 2008.“Safety is the industry’s number one priority. Even in a decade during which airlines lost an average of US$5 billion per year, we still managed to improve our safety record. Last year, 2.3 billion people flew safely,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA Director General and CEO.“But every fatality is a human tragedy that reminds us of the ultimate goal of zero accidents and zero fatalities.”In 2009 fatalities were higher recording 685 fatalities compared to 502 in 2008. North Asia carriers saw no accidents in Western-built aircraft this year, while North America passenger carriers recorded no fatal incidents as the only fatal incident involved a FedEx aircraft.