Government agrees to modify Penal Code Reform

first_imgFrom the print editionRepresentatives from the government and press organizations met Tuesday in search of a solution to the approval of a reform to Costa Rica’s Penal Code that mandates jail terms for accessing “secret political information.”Costa Rican Presidency Minister Ricardo Benavides, president of the Costa Rican Journalists Association, José Rodolfo Ibarra, and lawmakers, public prosecutors and other public sector workers attended the meeting.On July 9, President Laura Chinchilla signed a reform of Article 288 of the code, which had been approved by the Legislative Assembly and contained a clause establishing prison terms of four to eight years for those who “seek or obtain secret political information by unlawful means.”Members of the press called the rule a “gag law,” and demanded its repeal on the grounds that it constitutes a direct threat to freedom of access to information.According to the Journalists Association, “international jurisprudence is against jail terms for those who obtain correspondence by irregular means in matters of proven public interest, which would affect journalistic investigations.”The reform as approved does not clarify the concept of “secret political information,” which causes journalists to fear it will be applied to information of public interest generated or administered by government institutions or political parties.Jurisprudence by Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court has established that secrecy is not allowed for any document or information in the power of public entities, unless it is specifically declared a state secret by executive decree, on national security grounds.After the two-hour meeting Tuesday, Benavides said the groups had reached consensus that penalizing publication of political secrets should not remain a part of Costa Rican legislation. He said Chinchilla would support a separate bill to be drafted by members of the Journalists Association, directors of Costa Rican news organizations and lawmakers. Carlos Góngora, one of three lawmakers who drafted Article 288 and who attended the Tuesday meeting, has already prepared a draft amendment to the law. Chinchilla promised to take whatever decisions are necessary to avoid restriction of freedom of the press in the country. Fernando Guier, a retired constitutional lawyer who handled a Tico Times legal fight to win freedom to practice journalism in Costa Rica without having to join the official Journalists Association, criticized the recent reforms.“The ‘political secrets’ wording for information protected under Article 288 of the Penal Code is very dangerous to press freedom,” he said. “If such a law existed in the United States, the Watergate and Pentagon Papers investigations would never have happened.”The legal expert had stronger words for the president: “Apparently President Laura Chinchilla didn’t know what she was signing with Article 288. But how could she sign a reform to the Penal Code without consulting legal advisors? She has soiled what up to now had been a leadership position for Costa Rica in Latin American press freedom. In reaction to criticism of Article 288, President Chinchilla has said Costa Rica will not go backwards on freedom of information, but we already have done that.” Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Court dismisses criminal investigation of presidential candidate Rodrigo Arias

first_imgA criminal court in San José on Thursday dismissed a case against presidential candidate and former Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias for suspicion of illegal management of public funds.The court’s decision brings to an end the investigation carried out by the Prosecutor’s Office against the politician, as a judge determined there is “insufficient evidence to proceed in the case against Arias.”The investigation focused on three donations totaling $2 million made ​​by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration between 2007-2008, which were used to pay consultant services during the government of Arias’ brother, former President Oscar Arias. Rodrigo Arias served as presidency minister in his brother’s administration, which gave him the authority to earmark the aid bank’s funds.The court also ordered Otto Guevara, former lawmaker and ex-presidential candidate from the Libertarian Movement Party, to pay court costs, saying that “the complaint the way Guevara described it alleged crimes without attributing any crime accurately and without providing valid evidence.”In a press release, Rodrigo Arias said he was satisfied, and that he had “hoped with serenity and patience for this issue to come to an end.” Facebook Comments TicoTimes.net Poll Do you agree with the court’s decision not to prosecute Rodrigo Arias?  Yes. There was no evidence of wrongdoing.  No. The accusations should have been investigated further.  No response.center_img No related posts. Presidential hopeful Rodrigo Arias in the clearlast_img read more

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Where is Daniel Ortega

first_imgRelated posts:He’s alive! Nicaragua’s Ortega, out of sight for days, reappears as if nothing had happened Costa Rica loses seat on UN Human Rights Council ‘Trees of Life’: Nicaragua capital transformed into first lady’s new-age vision Colombia legalizes medical marijuana Murillo’s Twitter account wasn’t much help, as the First Lady has sent only one tweet, announcing she is the First Lady: Será cierta la muerte de Daniel Ortega?— Haroldo Shetemul (@hshetemul) March 3, 2014 She does conduct weekly radio broadcasts, but hasn’t mentioned the whereabouts of her husband.Among current speculation is that Ortega could be in a Cuban hospital, like his late ideological confrere Hugo Chávez, who died of cancer one year ago this month.According to news agency DPA, Ortega suffered a serious heart condition in 1994, and could also have lupus, which would explain why he mostly attends public events only at night.The Tico Times will continue to update this story as new, reliable information becomes available. Facebook Commentscenter_img Since Saturday rumors and questions have been flying on social media about the whereabouts of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who hasn’t been seen in public in 10 days.Update: Ortega’s alive. He appeared Monday night at Managua’s international airport to welcome Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes from a trip to the Vatican. Then Ortega boarded a plane for Venezuela. Read the update here.The original story continues here:The rumors gained momentum over the weekend following the publication Saturday of a story in the Nicaraguan daily La Prensa that called Ortega’s absence from public view “unusual.” While it is true Ortega often skips public events, he never misses an annual tribute to an indigenous uprising 36 years ago in Monimbó, Masaya, in which his brother Camilo was killed. The commemoration event was supposed to be held Feb. 26 in Managua, but was cancelled without explanation from Sandinista spokeswoman Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife.Ortega also cancelled last Thursday an official visit from Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, citing “internal factors” in Nicaragua, La Prensa reported.All weekend long, a stream of tweets on hashtag #DanielOrtega asked “Is he dead?” With Murillo remaining tight-lipped, no one seems to have an official answer. Rosario Murillo primera dama de Nicaragua, esposa de Daniel Ortega (@DanielOrtega_Ni)— Rosario Murillo (@RosarioMurillo_) August 19, 2012last_img read more

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Intel confirms opening of new Costa Rican lab in 2015

first_imgRelated posts:Intel to open new ‘mega-lab’ and hire 350 more Ticos President Solís seeks meeting with Intel reps during US trip South Korean company confirms opening of yarn spinning plant in Costa Rica Regulatory hurdles, inexperience contribute to China-Costa Rica trade imbalance Technology giant Intel this week confirmed that a new product testing and research mega-lab will begin operating in Costa Rica in mid-2015.The new facilities initially will staff 80 workers, who the company already has begun hiring. At full capacity, the operation will employ 200, bringing the total number of Intel employees in Costa Rica to 1,600.President Luis Guillermo Solís announced the opening of the new lab during a visit to the United States in June while traveling to court new investors.At the time, Solís met in California with Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. The total investment in the new lab has not yet been disclosed.That meeting followed Intel’s announcement in April that it would close its microprocessors assembly plant in Costa Rica, which meant the dismissal of 1,500 workers.Layoffs have been gradually implemented and will be completed in December, but the company does not rule out hiring some of those workers back.“We left the manufacturing world to enter an exciting world of engineering. At our mega-lab we will be in contact with every single product Intel manufactures, and we will take advantage of Costa Rican talent to achieve it,” Intel Costa Rica General Manager Vince Guglielmetti told the weekly El Financiero last month.Intel has operated in Costa Rica since 1997. It was the largest exporter in the country, with over $2 billion in annual exports, a figure that represents 15 percent of total exported goods in the country. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Liberty Reserve defendant pleads guilty to conspiracy

first_imgRelated posts:Spain court approves extradition of Liberty Reserve founder to US Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky pleads not guilty in New York Guatemala could compensate US syphilis experiment victims Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky pleads guilty to money laundering charges U.S. and Costa Rican authorities raided Liberty Reserve offices in May 2013. The Tico TimesA key defendant in the U.S. prosecution of the defunct digital currency company Liberty Reserve pleaded guilty on Thursday to federal charges of conspiracy and operating an illegal money remitting business, Reuters and Bloomberg reported yesterday. He could face up to 30 years in prison, although a sentencing judge could take into account his cooperation with authorities. Azzeddine El Amine, 47, was a principal of the Costa Rica-based company, which the United States accuses of helping to launder some $6 billion in mostly illicit profits from activities including drug trafficking, credit card fraud and child porn. El Amine was arrested in May 2013 in Spain, along with Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky. Budovsky is currently fighting extradition to the U.S. to face charges.El Amine admitted his plea Thursday to U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in New York. As Bloomberg News reported:“I admit that I was involved in a conspiracy to commit money laundering,” El Amine told Cote today [Thursday]. He said that he worked as an assistant to Arthur Budovsky, a Liberty Reserve founder, and that the firm moved money for criminals.El Amine is the second Liberty Reserve defendant to plead guilty in a case U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has called one of the biggest money laundering indictments in U.S. history. Liberty Reserve co-founder Vladimir Kats, arrested in New York, pleaded guilty last October to charges of money laundering, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, receiving child porn and committing marriage fraud.  A Costa Rica property linked to Azzeddine El Amine raided in 2013. The Tico TimesEl Amine also told the court that Liberty Reserve facilitated “credit card fraud and Ponzi schemes,” according to Bloomberg.None of this bids well for Liberty Reserve co-defendant Maxim Chukharev, whom The Tico Times profiled last December. Chukharev, 28, who immigrated to Costa Rica from Uzbekistan with his parents and brother 15 years ago, was extradited to the U.S. last March after spending nearly a year in a Costa Rican jail. He admits working for Liberty Reserve as an information technology employee, but denies knowing about illicit activities or violating Costa Rican law. He is scheduled to go on trial in April 2015.Other defendants named in the 2013 indictment include Ahmed “Alex” Yassine, Allan Esteban Hidalgo and Mark Marmilev. Marmilev was arrested last year in New York and pleaded not guilty.Yassine, born in Morocco and naturalized as a Costa Rican following a 2006 marriage, and Hidalgo both live in Costa Rica and have not been arrested. Costa Rica’s Constitution prohibits extradition to the U.S. of Costa Rican citizens.El Amine’s home in Heredia, north of the Costa Rican capital, was one of several homes and offices raided by U.S. and Costa Rican officials in May 2013. During those raids, Costa Rican authorities seized several luxury automobiles, including two Jaguars, three Rolls Royces, a Mercedes-Benz, and a sport motorcycle. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Random Photo of the Month Ethiopians watch Costa Ricas La Sele get

first_imgAnd in the totally random photo of the month category, British journalist Greg Brosnan sent us this snapshot of a group of Ethiopians in theDanakil area near the Eritrean border in the Horn of Africa watching the June 11 friendly between the Costa Rican national men’s football team, known as “La Sele,” and Spain. Costa Rica lost 2-1, their third consecutive loss in friendly matches under new coach Paulo César Wanchope. Let’s hope the Sele improves, because as we see from this photo, the world is watching. Facebook Comments Related posts:World, meet Ms. Sloth Kong. FEDEFUTBOL official: FIFA scandal won’t affect Costa Rica’s upcoming matches Women’s World Cup expanded field nets lopsided scores, but perhaps long-term gains Chuck Blazer: The whistleblower at epicenter of FIFA arrestslast_img read more

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Nicaraguas avowed antiUS leader Ortega eyes new mandate

first_imgMANAGUA, Nicaragua – He hasn’t officially started campaigning, but Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua, is widely believed to be aiming to extend his near decade in power by yet another term.If that turns out to be the case in elections to be held in November 2016, the former Marxist rebel would be on track to tighten his grip on the Central American country, which is aligned with Cuba, Venezuela and Iran against U.S. “imperialism.”A high popularity rating, currently at 54 percent, and a fractured opposition would pave the way for Ortega’s re-election.Nicaragua is also fairly peaceful, especially when compared to neighboring Honduras, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world.Ortega’s wife Rosario Murillo, who is also the government’s official spokeswoman and a Cabinet minister, is seen as either a partner in power or the éminence grise.The president’s Sandinista Front party has not yet designated its candidate, but analysts have little doubt that Ortega will be seeking a new five-year mandate.“It’s obvious he will run again. It’s a sickness — he believes himself indispensable,” a Nicaraguan sociologist, Cirilo Otero, told AFP. “He believes that. And we are facilitating him with our silence, fear or praise.” A protester wears a mask of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega during a demonstration against the electoral system, in Managua, on Sept. 2, 2015. Inti Ocón/AFPThe former rebelOrtega, today aged 70, rose to power in 1979 when his Sandinista rebels overthrew the U.S.-supported dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in a revolution.Ortega was soundly elected president in 1984 despite an unsuccessful CIA-backed effort to topple his leftist government, but he lost office in the next election in 1990, and failed in the three following polls to win it back.After 16 years in opposition, during which his hardline stance mellowed, Ortega managed to regain the presidency in 2006. He was re-elected in 2011 with 62 percent of the vote after a ban on successive terms was lifted.“I have not a doubt that while he’s alive he will be the [party’s] candidate, even if he’s 90,” said Dora María Téllez, a Sandinista dissident. “Because part of his power source is his grip on the candidacy.”Nicaragua is currently living through what looks curiously like an Ortega re-election push, even though its Supreme Electoral Council — stacked with the president’s allies — has not called on candidates to be declared.Ortega has been highlighting what he says are his government’s successes, which include a reduction in poverty over the past five years and an improved economy that he boasts has been endorsed by international financial bodies.But a political analyst, Óscar René Vargas, said the issues that Ortega highlights “don’t reflect the daily reality” in the country. A CID-Gallup poll has found that poverty, lack of jobs and the high cost of living are the most pressing topics for the public.“I don’t want to say” that discontent “will result in a loss of votes, because it’s still way too early to make forecasts,” Vargas said. “But these social conditions could create a negative environment.”See: ‘Trees of Life’: Nicaragua capital transformed into first lady’s new-age vision Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega waves to supporters during the celebration of the 36th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution at La Fe square in Managua, on July 19, 2015. At the podium is First Lady Rosario Murillo. Inti Ocón/AFPA call for fair electionsFor the country’s opposition, the problem is not whether Ortega runs again, but whether the elections will be free and transparent.“If the elections are transparent and honest, if they are not stolen, then they [Ortega and the Sandinista Front] will lose,” said Téllez, an ex-guerrilla commander who backed Ortega during his first stint in power.A lawmaker from the opposition Liberal Independent Party, Eliseo Núñez, agreed. “He has already lost four times. Really, if the elections are free ones, he will lose again.”With just less than a year before the vote, the opposition is keeping up pressure on the government. Each week, small protests are held in the capital Managua and in other cities demanding electoral transparency.However the opposition is split, unable to produce a strong leader to seriously compete with Ortega for the presidency.“The big challenge for the opposition is unity,” said Vargas. “But I don’t see any indications right now that it has that.”Still, the silence of the Supreme Electoral Council has started to attract the opposition’s attention.“Once the electoral process is opened, political mobilization will intensify and Ortega wants to avoid that for as long as possible so as to keep his opposition under the club,” Téllez said.Other factors may also be in play, such as Sunday’s legislative elections in Venezuela, Núñez said.“It’s not so much the results [of Venezuela’s election] but the reaction of the international community if there should be some anomaly,” he explained. “If the reaction is strong, we will have more transparent elections [in Nicaragua] than the ones in 2011.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Nicaraguan opposition has little chance of defeating Ortega Thousands protest Nicaraguan canal Nicaraguan opposition marches under strong police surveillance Dueling stories behind shooter at Nicaragua protest reveal sharp divide over Sandinista governmentlast_img read more

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Mysterious monkey deaths could be related to climate change

first_imgDrought, disease or something more sinister has caused a massive die-off of howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata) in several Central and South American countries, but scientists still don’t know the exact cause.In some areas, the mystery killer has wiped out as much as five percent of the local howler monkey population.“It could have very significant effects in the long-term for the populations as a whole.” said Liliana Cortés, a neo-tropical primate expert at the University of Michigan who is looking into the monkey deaths. “These are really high numbers.”Paso Pacifico, a Central American conservation group, first sounded the alarm on the monkey deaths in Nicaragua, where more than 280 howler monkeys died during the first three months of 2016.Other mass howler monkey deaths have been reported in Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama. The primary howler monkey species in Panama is Alouatta coibensis.The dead animals examined by Paso Pacifico did not show signs of physical trauma and many were found with food in their bellies, indicating to experts that a disease may have caused the deaths. Howlers are extremely susceptible to yellow fever and have long served as reliable harbingers for human outbreaks.Howlers are extremely susceptible to yellow fever and have long served as reliable harbingers for human outbreaks. In Brazil and other countries with yellow fever, the rapid demise of large numbers of howlers is often seen as a signal that human health may be at risk.Central America has eradicated yellow fever, but the Nicaraguan government tested the dead monkeys for it just in case, along with other mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika, dengue and chikungunya. The tests came up negative, as did tests performed by the government in Ecuador, where yellow fever is still present.“The tests were very specific for those diseases,” Kim Williams-Guillén, a conservation scientist with Paso Pacifico told The Tico Times. “Whether or not there are other diseases, it is hard to say.”While researchers have been unable to rule out disease, the negative results of the mosquito-borne illness tests have moved the focus to another potential culprit: drought.Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama have experienced severe droughts over the past year due to a particularly intense El Niño weather phenomenon, reducing the availability of water and possibly vegetation that howler monkeys feed on. While monkeys usually get all of the water they need from moisture from leaves, recently the animals have been observed coming down from the canopy to drink from water sources on the ground.In Nicaragua, Paso Pacifico received reports of howlers drinking from swimming pools, and in Costa Rica a spider monkey was recently observed by a Tico Times reporter drinking from a puddle in Corcovado National Park, a behavior the guide said he had not seen in his 23 years of leading tours.“What they never do is to come down because it’s very risky for them,” the guide, Fernando Campos, said. “It’s a very, very unusual, unusual behavior.”In Costa Rica’s northwestern province of Guanacaste, which is experiencing the worst drought in 100 years, veterinarians received reports of 19 dead monkeys in the first months of 2016, though unreported numbers are likely higher. Deer, coatis, raccoons and other animals have also been found dead lately in Guanacaste, but not in such large numbers as howler monkeys.Mauricio Jiménez, the director of the Hospital of Young and Wild Species at Costa Rica’s National University, told The Tico Times that monkeys live in close contact with disease, which they can usually fight off when healthy.“When there is less food, their defenses are low and they become more susceptible to sickness.”According to the University of Michigan’s Cortés, howler monkeys feed on leaves that may be toxic when consumed in large quantities. During a drought, when the variety of leaves available is reduced, howlers may wind up consuming larger quantities of toxic leaves than normal. This could have been the case of the dead monkeys found with full stomachs.It could also explain the dead monkeys in Ecuador, where El Niño has caused heavy rains rather than drought: Too much water can also change the vegetation within an ecosystem.Jiménez said deforestation in Costa Rica is likewise putting pressure on monkey populations. Farmers in Santa Cruz, where most of the dead howlers have been reported, have slashed and burned large swaths of forest surrounding rivers in the past year, he said.Though drought does seem a likely culprit, at least in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the exact cause of the die-offs cannot be pinpointed without further study, researchers said. They’d like to do that further study in a primate lab in the U.S.The research group supported by Paso Pacifico has frozen samples but researchers are still waiting on formal permission from the Nicaraguan government to study them.Alouatta palliata is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), meaning researchers would need special permits to move the monkeys to the U.S.“This is one case where the animals’ protected status may actually hurt them,” Cortés said. “It’s a give and take.”While the howler die-offs have mostly stopped, researchers believe that finding the exact cause could be important to understanding future cases.Cortés and Williams-Guillén are now working to assemble a network of researchers throughout the region to put together baseline studies for howler monkey populations. The data will allow researchers to better understand the monkeys’ behavior and how climate change may affect their food supply.“This could happen more often as part of global climate change,” Cortés said. “These are things we will need to understand when these types of events happen.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica to host third International Sustainable Building Congress Costa Rican researchers develop new climate change-resistant beans Costa Rica’s howler monkeys are the least loud but most well-endowed Costa Rica says it will support new shark protections despite agreements with fishermenlast_img read more

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¡Sí se pudo Tica Andrea Vargas earns gold at PanAmerican Games

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:Twice as nice: Güity wins second gold at Grand Prix Eighty-four Ticos participating in the 2019 Pan American Games Costa Rica earns first medal in 2019 Pan American Games Ticos earn second medal at 2019 Pan American Games Andrea Vargas surprised the field Thursday by winning the 100m women’s hurdles at the 2019 Pan American Games, earning Costa Rica’s first gold medal at the events held in Peru.Vargas finished in a time of 12.82 seconds on the track at Atlético de la Videna Stadium in the heart of Lima.The silver medal went to United States athlete Chanel Brissett (12.99 seconds) and the bronze medal to Jamaica’s Megan Simmonds (13.01 seconds).President Carlos Alvarado called Vargas after the result and tweeted a message of support.“What a thrill, Andrea, qué bárbara!” he wrote. “Thank you for this joy!”¡Oro para Costa Rica! ¡Qué emoción, Andrea, qué bárbara! Excelente tu participación en los 100 metros con vallas. ¡Gracias por esta alegría! @Lima2019Juegos #Lima2019 pic.twitter.com/L68NT0zN5o— Carlos Alvarado Quesada (@CarlosAlvQ) August 8, 2019The result marks Costa Rica’s third medal at the 2019 games. Nishy Lee Lindo earned bronze in the taekwondo women’s under-57 kg class, and the duo of Felipe Camacho and Andrés Acuña took home the bronze in racquetball.Costa Rica has participated in every iteration of the Pan American Games, which were first held in 1951. Tico athletes have now earned a total of 23 medals: six gold, six silver and 11 bronze.The country’s most successful year was 1987, when Costa Rica collected 11 medals, including three gold.To reach the final, Vargas broke a national record and qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo with Wednesday’s semifinal-best time of 12.75 seconds. Watch Vargas sing Costa Rica’s national anthem, “Noble patria, tu hermosa bandera,” as she stands atop the podium: last_img read more

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Irans president mocks Romney visit to Israel

first_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Ahmadinejad questioned why Romney would make “concessions to get some pennies for (his) campaign?”Ahmadinejad made the comments during a speech Tuesday broadcast on state TV.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Top Stories center_img TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is calling a visit to Israel by U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney as “kissing the foot” of the Jewish state to boost his bid for the White House.Ahmadinejad did not specifically name Romney, but his comments were an unmistakable jab at the Republican contender’s stop this week in Israel. Romney strongly backed Israel’s drive to stop Iran from possibly seeking nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the claims. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Men’s health affects baby’s health too New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debateslast_img read more

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Standard Chartered shares rise on settlement

first_img Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daycenter_img In a brief statement to the market, Standard Chartered said Wednesday that it “continues to engage constructively” with other U.S. agencies including the Department of Justice, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve.Shares briefly shot up to 1,473 pence, just above the 1,470 pence closing price on Aug. 6, the day the New York agency announced its charges.Despite the positive bounce on Wednesday, analysts said investors are likely to remain cautious about Standard Chartered shares until the other investigations are resolved.“While not wishing to down play the magnitude of such a settlement, we think this is an excellent outcome for the group, in terms of the size of the settlement, the fact that the banking license has been retained and the speed with which the issue has been resolved,” said Gary Greenwood, analyst at Shore Capital in London.Richard Hunter, head of U.K. equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Securities, said the bank “appears to have taken its rap on the knuckles and is preparing to move on.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Men’s health affects baby’s health too LONDON (AP) – Shares in Standard Chartered PLC opened 4 percent higher in London Wednesday, a day after it agreed to pay $340 million to a New York regulator to settle accusations that it hid illegal transactions with Iran and violated U.S. sanctions law.New York states’ Department of Financial Services had threatened to revoke the bank’s license to operate in New York, which would have hit Standard Chartered’s dollar-based businesses. Top Stories last_img read more

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ExPhilippine president runs for mayor of Manila

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Estrada, 75, who is challenging his former ally, incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim, moved into a house in Manila in May to establish residency before filing Tuesday. Lim’s supporters have accused Estrada of not understanding the feelings of people in the capital because he lived much of his life elsewhere.“There is no boundary to serving the people, especially the marginalized,” Estrada replied.Estrada’s eldest son is also a senator and another wants to join him, along with the sons of two last-term senators.Among those contesting half of the 24 seats in the Senate is a congresswoman who is the wife of an outgoing senator. Also, a brother of another senator is seeking re-election.A cousin of President Benigno Aquino III, Paolo Benigno Aquino, is on the administration’s senatorial slate. Their aunt, Margarita Cojuangco, is running for the Senate with the opposition.Boxing champion and incumbent Representative Manny Pacquiao filed for re-election. A younger brother also filed his candidacy for a congressional seat from South Cotabato province, and Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee, is running for vice governor of their southern home province of Sarangani. Pacquiao is to fly this week to the United States to prepare for a December fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. Four benefits of having a wireless security system 0 Comments   Share   Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daycenter_img Sponsored Stories Political analyst Ramon Casiple said a political free-for-all that followed the end of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986 has been replaced by a consolidation of elite rule in which “the old political clans are dividing power among themselves.”“There is a critical mass of mature voters, but there is no significant mass of reform candidates,” said Casiple, who heads the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform. “To the voters, it’s just a matter of choosing between two evils.”Members of other prominent families and longtime political rivals are competing for lower positions.Elections often result in violence in a country awash in weapons and private militias. In 2009, 58 people were massacred, including 32 media workers, in a single ambush blamed on a political rivalry in southern Maguindanao province. Former Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and several of his sons are among nearly 200 defendants facing multiple murder charges in the attack.Estrada’s successor, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is facing several corruption cases, was elected a congresswoman from her home province in 2010 but hasn’t yet filed for re-election. The deadline is Friday, and she’s widely expected to file. Estrada, a former actor who also has been vice president, senator and a long-time mayor of suburban San Juan, promised urban renewal, jobs and law and order in the crime-infested Philippine capital.“I am finished with San Juan. San Juan is already beautiful. This time we will beautify Manila,” he said. “I will declare all-out war against criminals and scalawag policemen.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Check your body, save your life Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Associated PressMANILA, Philippines (AP) – Ousted Philippine President Joseph Estrada has filed his candidacy for mayor of Manila, joining thousands of candidates in midterm elections that will be dominated by political dynasties, celebrities and the rich and powerful.The polls scheduled for May 13, 2013, illustrate the most obvious streak of Philippine politics: It’s a family affair.Among those expected to run again is Imelda Marcos, widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who is among candidates for 286 congressional seats. Her daughter, Imee, will try to keep her seat as governor of their northern home province of Ilocos Norte. Her son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is already a senator.last_img read more

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Case of blonde girl beggar strikes nerve in Mexico

first_img“The solution is not to arrest the mother or take the girl from her,” she said. “We should be asking what do we do to help these children?”Amparo Gonzalez Luna, director of the orphanage where the girl has been living, said the mother is poor and the episode should encourage her to take better care of her children.“It has caused her a lot of pain,” she told the Televisa network.____________Adriana Gomez Licon is on Twitter http://twitter.com/agomezlicon It started last week when a Facebook user posted a photo of the girl standing next to a rearview mirror on a Guadalajara street. He apparently suspected she might have been stolen because “her parents are brown,” and said he had already contacted a welfare agency and state prosecutors.“Let’s spread this photo around,” he wrote.Tens of thousands shared the photo of the golden-haired, green-eyed girl and dozens commented on it, some thanking him, others complaining the post was racist.Lino Gonzalez, the spokesman for prosecutors in Jalisco state, where Guadalajara is the capital, said the widespread distribution of the photo was seen as a sort of collective warning, and an investigation was launched.“The concern was the suspicion the girl had been stolen,” Gonzalez said. “We had to respond because there was suspicion a crime had been committed.”Officials quickly tracked down the 5-year-old child, put her in a Guadalajara orphanage and detained her 23-year-old mother for two days.Authorities said she lied about her address and about the father of the girl, first stating he was a foreigner, then saying he was was Mexican, but estranged from her. The child’s grandmother _ who also has green eyes _ was able to hand over the birth certificate of the girl. Gonzalez said the mother was released and there were no signs the girl had been kidnapped, though DNA results are pending. Authorities say they are also considering charges of child exploitation.The case outraged many.“We need to see a white girl to worry about kidnapping, trafficking of children and child exploitation. I’ve never seen photos of Indian children or simply dark-skinned kids circulating on the Internet with people asking others to help them,” wrote human rights activist Yali Noriega in her blog.Some think the mother could sue the government. Xochitl Galvez, a former federal Cabinet minister who is an advocate for Indian rights, said authorities tend to rely too much on public opinion when chasing delicate cases.“It is not right that just because of the color of her skin, they can say it’s not her daughter,” she said. “There is no such thing as a pure race. We are a mix … that tells you a lot about the authorities’ lack of knowledge.”Galvez said authorities should instead work to reduce the high rate of child labor in Mexico and create more programs to support poor single mothers. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Sponsored Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Associated PressMEXICO CITY (AP) – At a busy intersection, a girl with a high half ponytail looks at you as she begs for coins. There is dirt beneath her fingernails and her pink shirt looks unwashed. The image in the photo could fit thousands of impoverished Mexican children who sell gum or beg for money in the streets, but for one thing: The girl in this picture is blonde.The flurry of internet attention to the photo, and the quick way officials reacted, has renewed a debate about racism in Mexico, a nation that is proud of its mestizo heritage but where millions of indigenous people live in poverty and passers-by often barely notice the dark-skinned children begging in the street. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

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Argentina asks top US Court to stop catastrophe

first_img_ Or Argentina could stand firm against what the petition calls a violation of its sovereignty and see a New York judge block its regular payments on $24 billion in debt held by the 92 percent of bondholders who accepted new Argentine bonds at steep discounts in 2005 and 2010.“The Second Circuit recognized that it could not directly command Argentina to pay, but held that it could achieve the same result by giving Argentina a choice: pay Respondents or suffer a calamity,” the petition said.“The `choice’ between satisfying a monetary obligation … and defaulting on $24 billion of exchange bond debt _ threatening draconian consequences for the Argentine people _ is no choice at all, let alone something a district court can impose on a foreign sovereign,” the petition added.The Supreme Court already agreed to hold an April 21 hearing on a ruling enabling NML to force several banks to disclose Argentine assets. But that’s just a side issue _ Tuesday’s request asks the justices to examine the heart of the case, which will set a precedent for all the remaining interests that hold debts Argentina hasn’t paid since its 2001 crisis.A negotiated settlement could head off a crisis, but there have been no formal talks. BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Argentina filed a long-shot appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday asking the justices in Washington to avert an “economic catastrophe” by overturning lower court rulings that could force the South American government to default on billions of dollars in debts.Making Argentina pay cash in full to investors who didn’t accept bond swaps in exchange for defaulted debt could destabilize the global economy by making other voluntary debt restructurings “substantially more difficult, if not impossible,” the petition said. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img Lawyers for NML on Tuesday denied media reports in Argentina suggesting that Singer would not talk with the Argentine government until the Supreme Court rules.“It is a complete fabrication and totally false _ an unsourced, made-up story apparently desperate to explain why Argentina still refuses to negotiate a resolution with its creditors,” said Matthew D. McGill, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. “NML has said numerous times, publicly and privately, that it is ready and willing to negotiate a resolution whenever Argentina is ready to come to the table.”___Associated Press writer Mark Sherman in Washington contributed to this report.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system “Full payment of the holdouts would cut Argentina’s reserves approximately in half, an unimaginable result for any nation,” Argentina’s lawyers argued. “Any sovereign would protest if a foreign court issued an extraterritorial order threatening its creditors and citizens and coercing it into turning over billions of dollars from its immune reserves.”By ignoring the federal sovereign immunity law that normally protects other countries’ assets from seizure outside the United States, the lower court decisions also could make U.S. assets overseas vulnerable to similar seizures by other governments, the petition said.Hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer won a judgment of $1.3 billion plus interest in the debt dispute, but has never been able to collect despite sending lawyers around the world to try to seize Argentine assets.The courts in New York accepted his argument that Argentina has been a deadbeat nation and a serial violator of U.S. court rulings.But Argentina’s lawyers said the lower courts’ remedy is deeply flawed, because it gives Argentina two equally devastating choices:_ Argentina could pay cash in full to plaintiffs led by Singer’s Cayman Islands-based NML Capital Ltd. as the courts ordered and then watch holders of more than “$15 billion in defaulted debt and accrued interest” rush to make similar claims on Argentina’s dwindling reserves. Top holiday drink recipeslast_img
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Eurozone inflation stable eases pressure on ECB

first_imgBRUSSELS (AP) – The inflation rate in the 18-country eurozone held steady in February, against analysts’ expectations of a further slide that would have put more pressure on the European Central Bank to ease monetary policy.Inflation was an annual 0.8 percent, according to the Eurostat agency. While that leaves it below the European Central Bank’s target of around 2 percent, it will ease immediate concerns that the currency union is sliding into deflation, a sustained drop in prices. Comments   Share   Deflation can choke off growth as consumers and businesses delay purchases in hopes of getting better bargains down the line, and can be very difficult to get out of.Economists were forecasting a dip to 0.7 percent, so Friday’s figure suggests the ECB is unlikely to loosen its monetary policy further at its rate-setting meeting next week.“Stable eurozone consumer inflation … eases pressure on the ECB to take further stimulative action,” said analyst Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight.A closer look at the figures show the core inflation rate _ which excludes the price of energy, food, alcohol and tobacco _ rose to 1 percent from 0.8 percent.Still, Jonathan Loynes, an analyst at Capital Economics, said the long-term trend remains one of low inflation, and that investors should not rule out further ECB action, particularly as economic growth remains subdued.The ECB could trim its benchmark interest rate, which is at a record low 0.25 percent, or provide some form of boost to the amount of money in the financial system.The weak state of the economy was highlighted in separate figures showing the eurozone unemployment rate remained at a near-record 12 percent in January. Some 19.175 million were without a job across the eurozone, or 17,000 more than in December. The jobless rate has held steady since October. Check your body, save your life New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The unemployment rate for the wider 28-nation EU _ which also includes members like Britain and Poland who don’t use the euro currency _ has remained stable since October at 10.8 percent, Eurostat said.The Europe-wide statistics hide huge differences between economies. The unemployment rate is lowest in Austria and Germany at around 5 percent and stands at about 26 percent in Spain and 28 in Greece.Youth unemployment, meanwhile, edged down marginally across Europe. The rate of jobless for those aged under 25 in the eurozone fell by 0.1 percentage points to 24 percent, a drop of 87,000. In the wider EU, the rate fell from 23.7 percent to 23.4 percent.Youth unemployment was highest in Greece and Spain, where almost six out of ten under 25 are jobless, and lowest in Germany with a rate of only 7.6 percent.___Follow Juergen Baetz on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jbaetz Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober (Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The vital role family plays in society Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

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Pakistan judge orders CEO held for faked diploma allegations

first_img 0 Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Top Stories Sponsored Stories Officials also say they found fraudulent student ID cards and university accreditations for institutions that don’t exist.“We have enough evidence to proceed,” said Shahid Hayat, the provincial director at Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency. “We have forensic evidence.”Television footage showed investigators leading Sheikh away from his office in handcuffs. He later appeared before Judge Noor Mohammad, who ordered Sheikh held for seven days for police questioning on charges of fraud, forgery and cybercrime. Sheikh will appear again before the judge on June 4.Sheikh’s lawyer, Shaukat Hayat, said his client’s family would be permitted to see him while he remains in custody. Hayat, who is not related to the FIA provincial director, previously has said his client denies the allegations against him. Sheikh, in an earlier video message, denied the charges.The arrest marks a downfall for Sheikh and Axact, which planned to launch a new television channel in Pakistan. The software company has described the case against it as a conspiracy by rival media groups.Investigators say others were as well in the raid. It was not immediately known how many people were arrested in all. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Check your body, save your life Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani judge ordered police Wednesday to hold and question the embattled CEO of a software company for a week on allegations he oversaw a global diploma mill, as broadcasters aired images of blank degrees stacked in his firm’s offices.The judicial order marked the latest crisis for Shoaib Sheikh, the top official at Axact, a software company which a recent New York Times report accused of making millions of dollars selling fake high school diplomas and university degrees. While Axact has denied the allegations and threatened legal action against the Times, Pakistani investigators said they found hundreds of thousands of fake degrees during a raid Wednesday on the company’s offices in Karachi. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

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2 choices many possible results for Greeces landmark vote

first_img Sponsored Stories Top Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Comments   Share   Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona LONDON (AP) — The Greek people are voting on a future in which they face two painful prospects: the slow grind of years more of austerity cuts or the country’s potentially catastrophic exit from the 19-nation eurozone.The question is whether their vote on Sunday can help them escape either.“Yes” to more budget cuts demanded by creditors in exchange for a financial aid package for the country? Or reject it in the hope it will not lead the country out of the euro? Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall A number of European politicians, including Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the top eurozone official, have said a “no” vote would jeopardize Greece’s place in the euro. Others, such as the leaders of France and Italy, appear to be holding the door ajar for further talks.But investors are likely to believe that a “no” vote increases the chance of a Greek exit from the euro, or “Grexit.”The word ‘Grexit’ has dominated the past months of negotiations on Greece. But the country will not return to the drachma — Greece’s former currency — immediately. Rather, the risk increases the longer there is a deadlock in talks. Without a deal and without money, Greece will default on more of its debt repayments and will not be able to pay salaries or pensions. The banks will run dry, even with the cash withdrawal limits.In such a case, printing a new currency may be the only option available, which almost everyone thinks will be a short-term disaster for the Greek economy.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Mesa family survives lightning strike to home It’s not clear, however, if that would involve new elections. That would take time and without financial assistance, Greece would surely go bankrupt.Greece is no longer in a bailout program since its previous package expired. So it would have to negotiate a new one with its creditors that involves more money for the government and the banks and new economic austerity measures. That is unlikely to be agreed on overnight, meaning the banking restrictions on money withdrawals and transfers may remain in place for longer than anticipated.Varoufakis says banks will reopen Tuesday whatever the referendum’s outcome. That’s unlikely to happen unless the European Central Bank agrees to increase the credit to Greek banks.An additional difficulty is that the International Monetary Fund has said it will not get involved in a third bailout unless it includes substantive debt relief for Greece. The Europeans, on the other hand, have ruled out debt relief until Greece makes its reforms.___IF THEY SAY ‘OXI’Despite the Greek government’s assertion that a “no” vote will not lead to a euro exit, most people agree it would open up more uncertain outcomes, especially if the ECB halts its life-support measures to Greece’s banks. Four benefits of having a wireless security system A commuter exits from a bus, as a banner with the word ”Yes” at a bus stop, sprayed over “No” by supporters of the No vote referring to the upcoming in Athens, Friday, July 3, 2015. The brief but intense campaign in Greece’s critical bailout referendum ends Friday, with simultaneous rallies in Athens supporting “yes” and “no” answers to a murky question in what an opinion poll suggests could be a very close vote. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis) For the radical left-led Greek government, the proposals are unacceptable. It’s urging a “no” vote and says that will have no impact on Greece’s euro status.Proponents of a “yes” vote, including a parade of former prime ministers and the main opposition party, say backing the government will jeopardize Greece’s place in the euro. Instead, they argue that by voting “yes” Greece would get a new deal quickly to shore up the economy.In fact, what might happen in each case is unclear. Here’s a look at each possibility:___IF THE PEOPLE SAY ‘NAI’A “yes” vote backing the reform proposals creditors had made would likely see Greece turn immediately to talks on a new rescue package. Whether that leads to a swift deal that might allow Greece to reopen its banks and restore a semblance of normality is another question.The government has said it will respect the verdict. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has said he’ll resign in the event of a “yes” vote and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has hinted as much. If the government does not collapse, it could try to build a new coalition with other parties, Varoufakis hinted.last_img read more

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South Korean spy agency explored technology to hack chat app

first_img New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Kakao Talk is a free mobile chatting app that is used by 38 million people at least once a month in South Korea. Kane Lee, a spokesman for Daum Kakao Corp. which operates Kakao Talk, said the company’s servers have never been breached. However, Lee said there are hacking tools that could infiltrate mobile devices without going through the servers.The story emerged earlier this month when a searchable library of a massive email trove stolen from Hacking Team, released by WikiLeaks, showed South Korean entities were among those dealing with the Italian surveillance firm.Two previous NIS directors, who successively headed the spy service from 1999 and 2003, were convicted and received suspended prison terms for overseeing the monitoring of mobile phone conversations of about 1,800 of South Korea’s political, corporate and media elite.Earlier this year, another former NIS chief was sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of ordering an illicit online campaign to support then-ruling party candidate and current President Park Geun-hye ahead of the 2012 presidential election.The spy service has previously countered that its agents were only trying to cope with North Korean cyberwarfare by posting comments meant to counter messages that praised the North and spread groundless rumors about South Korean government policies. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall How do cataracts affect your vision? ___Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim and Youkyung Lee contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.center_img Top Stories National Intelligence Service chief Lee Byoung Ho told legislators in a closed-door briefing that the agency bought hacking programs from an Italian company, Hacking Team, in 2012 that were designed to intercept information from cellphones and computers, according to details released to reporters by the office of lawmaker Shin Kyung-min, who attended the meeting.Lee didn’t indicate whether the agency obtained the technology for hacking Kakao, but he acknowledged that it asked Hacking Team about getting such technology, according to Shin’s office.The spy agency didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.Lee said the hacking programs bought from Hacking Team would be ineffective for spying on civilians because the NIS only received enough to monitor 20 different devices at once. He said the programs have been used mainly for research as the country looks to strengthen its cyberwarfare capabilities against North Korea, which Seoul blames for repeatedly attacking Internet networks and stealing information from computers, Shin’s office said.Lee also told lawmakers that the programs the NIS purchased from Hacking Team were used by 97 intelligence and investigation agencies in 35 countries around the world. Sponsored Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s beleaguered spy agency has acknowledged exploring the purchase of technologies to intercept communications on the popular Kakao Talk smartphone chatting service, but maintains it only intended to strengthen its monitoring of rival North Korean agents, not South Koreans, lawmakers said Tuesday.The revelation is sensitive because the country’s spy agency has a history of illegally tapping South Koreans’ phone conversations. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

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A look at the sweeping Senate transportation bill

first_imgThe American Public Transit Association said the authorized increases are still significantly less than the agency had sought, and expressed concern that the money attached to the bill might not be enough to cover even three years of the authorized spending.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How do cataracts affect your vision? Some highlights of the Senate bill:___HIGHWAYSThe bill shores up the federal Highway Trust Fund for three years by using about $45 billion in revenue increases and making spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. The largest source of funds is $16 billion that would be saved by reducing the dividend rate the government pays to large banks. Another $9 billion would come from the proposed sale of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over 10 years, but that assumes the price of oil will be $89 a barrel — nearly twice the current price.The bill also attempts to speed up environmental reviews of construction projects, and encourages states to impose user fees on electric vehicles because they use roadways but don’t contribute to federal gas tax revenues. It also sets aside money for major projects, and directs highway aid to major freight transportation corridors, starting with $1.5 billion in fiscal 2016 and increasing to $2.5 billion in 2021.___AUTO AND HIGHWAY SAFETYThe safety provisions are the most controversial transportation part of the bill both for what they include and what they don’t include. The bill requires that rental car agencies fix cars subject to safety recalls before renting them, but it doesn’t include language sought by safety advocates requiring car dealers to fix recalled used cars before selling them. It would double the amount the government can fine automakers who don’t disclose safety defects from $35 million to $70 million — significantly less than the $300 million sought by the White House. It would force the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to conceal from the public its safety ratings of trucking companies; the trucking industry says the agency’s methodology is flawed. And it would establish a pilot program to allow as many as 12 states to lower the age for interstate truck drivers from 21 to 18. The trucking industry says lowering the age will help remedy a shortage of drivers. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories Check your body, save your life New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Comments   Share   An effort by Democrats to add criminal penalties for auto company officials who knowingly conceal safety defects from the government was unsuccessful.___RAILROADSThe bill authorizes an average $1.65 billion a year for Amtrak over the next four years. Another $570 million in grants each year could be used to improve service and eliminate rail congestion in the railroad’s busy Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington. It streamlines environmental and historic preservation permitting requirements.It also contains two controversial rail safety provisions: One would require the government to conduct field tests of more advanced train brakes before implementing a requirement that railroads install them on trains that haul volatile crude oil. The other indefinitely delays a deadline for railroads to get government certification and put into operation technology that can automatically stop or slow trains to prevent crashes. The National Transportation Safety Board has said that if the technology had been in operation it could have prevented an Amtrak crash in Philadelphia in May that killed eight people and injured about 200 others.___TRANSITThe bill increases annual funding for transit aid by about 25 percent — or more than $2 billion — over six years. It includes a 12 percent increase, or $262 million, in fiscal year 2016 to allow public transit agencies with rail systems to address pressing repair needs. It streamlines a grant program for innovative projects, and increases funding for rural areas by $105 million. WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate and House are moving toward a showdown over a must-pass transportation bill this week. If they don’t reach an agreement by Friday, the government will be forced to halt highway aid payments to states in the middle of the summer construction season.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is pushing for passage of a sweeping, $350 billion transportation bill that would set highway, transit and rail policy for the next six years, although the bill only includes financing for the first three years. GOP leaders in the House, who say they need more time to work on a long-term bill, already have passed a five-month, $8 billion extension of current programs. Sponsored Stories last_img read more

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Drop passports for transTasman travel Jetstar

first_img<a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/2abe4/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Jetstar has called for an end to immigration checks between Australia and New Zealand, claiming the move would benefit the tourism industries of both countries.Australians and New Zealanders may share a bank, a war heritage and Russell Crowe, but the two are still separate Commonwealth nations, largely independent of each other and requiring citizens of both countries to travel with a passport. Jetstar chief executive Bruce Buchanan said flights between the two countries should be treated as though domestic, reported the Australian.”For two countries which are so closely aligned in cultural and legal systems, there has got to be a way to get it worked out so that we have a common border and trans-Tasman flights are treated like a domestic trip,” Mr Buchanan said.In what “would be the single biggest boost to the tourism industry on both sides of the Tasman”, Mr Buchanan claims doing away with passports and immigration checks would give each country an extra 326,000 passenger movements a year, reduce costs by AUD250 million and add at least AUD100 million per annum in gross domestic product. His comments came as Jetstar announced its plans to expand its trans-Tasman operations with the launch of direct flights Australia and Queenstown in December.In most cases, Australian and New Zealand citizens can enter each other’s country to visit, live and work without the need to pre-apply for authority to enter the other country – although New Zealanders are granted a Special Category Visa in keeping with Australia’s requirements for all non-citizens to hold visas. Do you think A/NZ travel should be treated as domestic? Have your say below: Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.Alast_img read more

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