WASHINGTON,D.C – As Iran chooses a new president this week, the activities of its powerful intelligence services have also been kicking into high gear across the globe. The U.S. State Department’s annual terrorism report, released May 30, headlined the “marked resurgence” of Iran’s terrorist activities — and with good reason. “Iran and Hizballah’s terrorist activity has reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s, with attacks plotted in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa,” the report reads. And that’s before we even get to Iran and Hezbollah’s active support for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown against his own people.But that’s not all. Closer to the United States, Iran not only continues to expand its presence and bilateral relationships with countries like Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, but it also maintains a network of intelligence agents specifically tasked with sponsoring and executing terrorist attacks in the Western Hemisphere.The same day the State Department released its report, highly respected Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who served as special prosecutor for the investigation into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, released a 500-page document laying out how the Iranian regime has, since the early 1980s, built and maintained “local clandestine intelligence stations designed to sponsor, foster and execute terrorist attacks” in the Western Hemisphere.Nisman found evidence that Iran is building intelligence networks identical to the one responsible for the bombings in Argentina across the region — from Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, and Colombia to Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname.Nisman’s 2006 report on the AMIA bombing already demonstrated how Iran established a robust intelligence network in South America in the early 1980s. One document, seized during a court-ordered raid of the residence of an Iranian diplomat north of Buenos Aires, included a map denoting areas populated by Muslim communities and suggested an Iranian strategy to export Islam into South America — and from there to North America. Highlighting areas densely populated by Muslims, the document informed that these “will be used from Argentina as [the] center of penetration of Islam and its ideology towards the North American continent.”Nisman concluded that the driving force behind Iran’s intelligence efforts in Argentina was Mohsen Rabbani, an Iranian who lived in Argentina for 11 years and played a key role in the Islamic Republic’s intelligence operations in South America. Rabbani, the primary architect of the AMIA plot, reportedly had come from Iran for the express purpose of heading the state-owned al-Tawhid mosque in Buenos Aires, but he also served as a representative of the Iranian Ministry of Agriculture, which was tasked with ensuring the quality of Argentine meat exported to Iran. The Argentine prosecutor reported that Rabbani began laying the groundwork for his spy network after arriving in the country in 1983. Indeed, just prior to his departure for South America, Rabbani met Abolghasem Mesbahi, an Iranian intelligence official who would later defect, and explained to Mesbahi that he was being dispatched to Argentina “in order to create support groups for exporting the Islamic revolution,” according to Nisman’s 2006 report.Rabbani advanced his vision of the “Islamic revolution” through a variety of means — including the execution of two large-scale attacks in Argentina. In 1992, Iran and Hezbollah bombed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people. Two years later, they targeted the AMIA Jewish community center, killing 85 people. Based on Nisman’s investigation, in 2007 Interpol issued six “red notices,” which request international cooperation to arrest and extradite a suspect, for the key players behind the AMIA bombing. Two of those red notices were for Mohsen Rezaei and Ali Akbar Velayati, both of whom are running for president in Iran’s upcoming election.Rabbani’s terrorist activities in South America, however, did not wane despite being indicted in Argentina. According to Nisman and U.S. District Court documents from the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, Rabbani helped four men who were plotting to bomb New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2007 and who sought technical and financial assistance for the operation, codenamed “Chicken Farm.” All four men were ultimately convicted in federal court.The four men first sought out Yasin Abu Bakr, leader of the Trinidadian militant group Jamaat al-Muslimeen, and Adnan el-Shukrijumah, an al-Qaida operative who grew up in Brooklyn and South Florida and fled the United States for the Caribbean in the days before the 9/11 attacks. Unable to find Shukrijumah, the plotters “sent [co-conspirator] Abdul Kadir to meet with his contacts in the Iranian revolutionary leadership, including Mohsen Rabbani,” according to a news release issued by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York.One co-conspirator was Kareem Ibrahim, an imam and leader of the Shiite Muslim community in Trinidad and Tobago. During cross-examination at trial, Ibrahim admitted that he advised the plotters to approach Iranian leaders with the plot and use operatives ready to engage in suicide attacks at the airport. In one of the recorded conversations entered into evidence, Ibrahim told Russell Defreitas — a plotter who was a JFK baggage handler and a naturalized U.S. citizen — that the attackers must be ready to “fight it out, kill who you could kill, and go back to Allah.”Documents seized from Kadir’s house in Guyana demonstrated that he was a Rabbani disciple who built a Guyanese intelligence base for Iran much like his mentor had built in Argentina. In a letter written to Rabbani in 2006, Kadir agreed to perform a “mission” for Rabbani to determine whether a group of individuals in Guyana and Trinidad were up to some unidentified task.In the 1990s and 2000s, Rabbani also oversaw the education and indoctrination of Guyanese and other South American Muslim youth, including Kadir’s children, in Iran. Kadir was ultimately arrested in Trinidad aboard a plane headed to Venezuela, en route to Iran. He was carrying a computer drive with photographs featuring himself and his children posing with guns, which prosecutors suggested were intended as proof for Iranian officials of his intent and capability to carry out an attack.In 2011, not long before the last defendant in the JFK airport bomb plot was convicted, evidence emerged suggesting Rabbani was still doing intelligence work in South America. An April 2011 article in the Brazilian magazine Veja, citing documents from the FBI, CIA, and Interpol, reported that Rabbani “frequently slips in and out of Brazil on a false passport and has recruited at least 24 youngsters in three Brazilian states to attend ‘religious formation’ classes in Tehran,” according to an article in the Telegraph.In the word of one Brazilian official quoted by the magazine, “Without anybody noticing, a generation of Islamic extremists is appearing in Brazil.”The growth of this Iranian extremist network in South America has immediate repercussions for the security of the United States. The same day that Nisman and the State Department released their reports, an Iranian-American used-car salesman from Texas was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in an Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States at a popular Washington restaurant. In the assessment by James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, this plot “shows that some Iranian officials — probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime.”Strangely, one of the countries most vulnerable to this terrorist threat appears more interested in placating, rather than opposing, the country responsible. In February, Argentina approved a deal with Iran for a joint “truth commission” to investigate the 1994 AMIA bombing — a step that insults the Argentine victims of the attack and makes a mockery of the rule of law. Of course, Nisman, Argentina’s own special prosecutor, left no doubt in his 2006 report and his latest 500-page report about the truth of who was behind the bombing — Iranian agents.The State Department has it right: There has indeed been a “marked resurgence” of Iranian state sponsorship of terrorism over the past 18 months. But as the new Nisman report drives home, here’s an even more disturbing fact — Iran has run intelligence networks in the United States’ backyard to “sponsor, foster and execute terrorist attacks” for decades.Matthew Levitt directs the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and is the author of “Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God.” Levitt served as an expert witness in the JFK airport bomb plot criminal trials in the Eastern District of New York.© 2013, Foreign Policy Facebook Comments No related posts.
Alberto Font/The Tico Times Related posts:Small but vocal turnout in Costa Rica for global climate march The Guardian names Costa Rican journalist among ‘young climate campaigners to watch’ ahead of Paris 2015 Drawn to the ocean’s depths again and again, the world’s best free diver vanishes at sea Scandal-hit VW to cut investments by €1 billion, says CEO Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Facebook Comments As part of the celebrations forWorld Environment Day 2015, the University of Costa Rica in San José held a full day of automobile-free activities. Students and teachers were encouraged to use bicycles, skates, skateboards and other zero-emission vehicles.Students also planted trees on campus, had a chance to play different sports and enjoyed concerts and plays.“This is great, the university should hold this kind of event more often so that students and teachers use bicycles and public transportation,” said faculty member Soledad Castro.
Related posts:Costa Rica not alone as it waits for a new US ambassador Solís welcomes senior US Foreign Service officer on brief 3-country tour New ambassadors from Canada, EU, UK arrive in Costa Rica Costa Rica’s new ambassador to US to focus on child migrants, foreign investment The newest class of Costa Rica Peace Corps volunteers was sworn in at a ceremony at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Escazú Wednesday morning. The 18 volunteers, whose ages range from 22 to 32, will be working alongside the Education Ministry and nongovernmental organizations on youth development issues, including sexual and reproductive health, education, gender equality, leadership and teaching English as a second language.The Peace Corps arrived in Costa Rica in 1963, two years after President John F. Kennedy founded the program. Since then, Costa Rica has distinguished itself with a development agenda focused on education, universal health care and conservation that President Luis Guillermo Solís trumpeted during an address to the United Nations on Wednesday.Costa Rica is a relatively developed country, but more work remains in many areas, said Laura Borel, director of Peace Corps training here.“Without a doubt, in some countries where Peace Corps operates the needs are much greater. Here in Costa Rica the programs are strategically located in rural communities that might have their basic needs met but need support in youth development, health and community development,” Borel said. The 18 sworn in Wednesday are all working in youth development programs.Borel noted that successful Peace Corps volunteers need to have an open mind and work with their community.“At the beginning there is a lot to learn. It’s not like this person is here to save world,” she said. “Peace Corps volunteers are one more member of the community. They’re not someone who shows up and then leaves, or is only interested in their niche. It’s someone who wants to get to know people, get involved, learn about the culture.”That desire to learn was what motivated Arnaldo Pérez, from New York, to sign up for the Peace Corps. Costa Rica’s diversity was one of the first things that stood out for Pérez, who will be based in the Caribbean slope town of Guápiles.“I never thought of Costa Rica as being eclectic place, but there are lots of nationalities who live here that are Tico now,” Pérez said, referring to people of indigenous, Chinese and African decent, among others, who live in Costa Rica.If Costa Rica’s diversity surprised Pérez, the diversity of the United States seems to have the same impact on his Tico friends. Pérez and Andrea Guerrero, another volunteer with whom The Tico Times spoke, are Dominican- and Mexican-American, respectively. They said the Peace Corps gives them a chance to represent the U.S. as well as their families’ cultures.“They have this picture of the face of someone who was born in the United States. They see me and say, you look a little brown,” he said, “so I explain I’m descended from the Dominican Republic. It’s an exchange of three different cultures. It’s always interesting.”Guerrero, who is from Los Angeles and will be based in Los Chiles, Alajuela, had a similar experience. “The first question is, why aren’t you blonde with blue eyes?” she said. “In The United States there is a lot of diversity and a lot of different cultures. I was born in the U.S., I’m Mexican-American, so I represent another culture besides the U.S.”Currently 143 Peace Corps volunteers are active in Costa Rica, according to the U.S. Embassy in San José. During the last 50 years, more than 3,300 U.S. citizens have served in the Peace Corps here working in community economic development, youth development and teaching English as a second language.“We’re all learning,” Guerrero said. “Tell me about you and I’ll tell you about me.” Facebook Comments
Angel Lara has been surrounded by art since birth. The artist, 32, spent much of his time as a child at his father’s sculpture workshop, was surrounded by all kinds of artists, and began creating his own art at the age of 4. Lara studied at Castella High School, graduated in painting and dance, but his primary passion has always been sculpture.Lara has created sculptures for the Omar Dengo Foundation and Earth University, among other organizations, and has had exhibits around many places around the world. At the moment, he has an exhibit at the Contemporary Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, presenting a completely new proposal.The Tico Times visited Lara’s exhibit to talk with the artist about his career and this new project. Excerpts follow.Tell me about this exhibit, “Phi-Lotus.”“Phi” means the golden segment, organic growth, everything in the universe; and lotus is because the sculptures are lotus flowers. I’m really happy with the versality of this project. Its possibilities are almost endless. It is made up of 150 pieces.I have been developing this project for about five years: four years of production, a year of investigation and development of the modules, and six months on the production of the exhibit itself. This has been my longest project ever. It came from the idea of creating a tree filled with flowers, but that wasn’t feasible. Then it developed into this new, independent project. I showed people the first ones and they really liked them, so I [worked toward] showing them on a bigger stage, like this one.I want to do bigger pieces, to do sporadic and itinerant interventions around the metropolitan area, within view of the public. Where before there was nothing, you suddenly see an installation piece. The fact that people see the pieces and interact with them is very important. Amanda Zuniga/The Tico TimesWhat inspires your art?Costa Rica has a lot to do with my work. I love nature, and I also have done research about Costa Rican culture and art. There are also mentors and people who inspire me: many of them are from outside Costa Rica, but to me the best sculptor in Costa Rica is José Sancho. I love his work and I have been guided by his work because he does it all. He does Marble carving perfectly, making use of any object, design models. He creates a whole range of things and does everything perfectly.What other type of art do you like, and what do you like about sculpture?I like oil painting, but it’s a slow process and I also like to do big paintings. So there are a lot of unfinished paintings at my workshop. Those generally end up being the most interesting paintings because they are more elaborate and mautre: when they are finished, they end up with a completely different meaning from the one they started with. I did some exhibits with my paintings right after I fiinished high school. When I was studying dedicated a lot of time painting, so I did one sculpture for every ten paintings. Once I was able to get all the materials I needed, I started doing more sculptures, and painting started falling behind.For me, working with different types of materials is the most entertaining thing. This new project allowed me to work with materials I hadn’t used before, such as cardboard, and get away from traditional materials. I mean, they are still sculptures, but with other materials that are not usually used here in Costa Rica. Amanda Zuniga/The Tico Times Facebook Comments What would you tell a sculptor who’s just beginning his or her career and doesn’t know where to start?First, to define whether you want a [traditional] professional career or a career as a sculptor. That’s the first decision you have to make. I have been fortunate to be able to balance both. It was always clear, because since I was six I listened to my father’s friends saying things like “[Our work isn’t] selling, we have to look for more options.”So I have always been clear that I have to do something in order to make money to do the projects I want to do. For many people, this is very difficult. Some people say that art does not have anything to do with sales or money, and partly not, but partly yes, because I mean, I also need to eat, I also pay electricity, water and gas. I manage very tight budgets because as long as I invest in more projects it will means I have to produce more and have to cut other expenses.In the end, no matter the budget, no matter what occurs, the budget will always come up short compared with the desire to experiment and create new things. So, we must understand that very clearly: selling is not bad, it is a necessity, but learning to sell and learning how to sculpt is very different.How would you like to be remembered as an artist?Well, let’s leave people to decide that. History will decide what’s going to happen with your work and with you as a person. No matter what you do. To me it’s really important to do something. All people are important, but to the extent that they do things [to improve] their space on earth. To me, people cleaning the streets are super important. To me they are the people we should respect the most, because they do what nobody else wants to. That’s what I want: for people to respect who I am and what I do. That will only be decided over time. Let’s see what happens in a hundred years. Related posts:5 questions for a Costa Rican fashion designer 5 questions for Costa Rican artist Ulillo 5 questions for Costa Rican DJ Esteban Howell 5 questions for Costa Rican illustrator Stephanie Chaves
The Saturday morning sun shined on a large group of early rising volunteers gathered at Plaza Roosevelt in San Pedro.The reason for their waking? The Reforestation Challenge. It’s a program put on by the Montes de Oca municipality and coordinated by the Fundación Madre Tierra Verde (“Green Mother Earth Foundation,” or MTV Fund), a local non-profit with the mission of contributing to the green transformation of Costa Rican society. Approximately 60 adults, a large number of kids and a scout troop arrived to replant trees and clean a portion of the Ocloro River. A family participates in the Reforestation Challenge. (Jacob Spetzler / The Tico Times)Carolina Alba of MTV Fund had expected 50 people total and declared the participation as a major success. Shovels were handed out to groups of volunteers along with crates full of saplings, and people split off, walking up and down the sides of streets, planting trees every three paces. With the amount of volunteers who showed up, the task was finished a full two hours earlier than planned. This was the fourth round of the monthly Reforestation Challenge. According to Alba, they’ll continue until every neighborhood in the Montes de Oca municipality is green and leafy. Carolina Alba (L) and Florian Wieser (R) help to plant trees. (Jacob Spetzler / The Tico Times)Toward the end of the event, some volunteers who had shown up from Desamparados approached Alba about starting the program in their own municipality. Alba responded that she and her colleagues would be happy to help if they have cooperation from the municipality. Click here to learn more about MTV Fund. Facebook Comments Related posts:Lifeguards call for help in Costa Rica: support their work in Osa Costa Rica’s ‘invaluable’ 280-kilometer, sea-to-sea, 16-day hike This week in the Peace Corps: A volunteer’s time in Talamanca Apply now: CRUSA offering full-ride scholarships to US colleges
“I inherit a well-respected and sound functioning office, with almost 300 staff from 80 countries, seven situations under investigation, 14 cases before the chambers, seven preliminary examinations and one verdict.”In March, trial judges handed down the court’s first conviction, that of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, for conscripting child soldiers. He awaits sentencing.In an interview earlier this month, Bensouda responded to several criticisms frequently put forward against the prosecutor and the court, including that it is used as a political tool by Western powers and that all its current cases involve Africa.“First of all, let me say that yes, I am an African and I am very proud of that,” she said.“But I am a prosecutor for 121 states parties,” she said, referring to all the countries that endorse the court.She said she would investigate any grave crime in any territory that falls under her jurisdiction, and the international court is bound to be criticized both when it intervenes in a conflict and when it doesn’t.When the court intervenes, as it did in indicting Sudan’s al-Bashir and Ivory Coast’s former President Laurence Gbagbo, it is accused of selective enforcement. But she said prosecutors must act on the basis of the evidence they have. Comments Share New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths “Laurence Gbagbo is our first case” in Ivory Coast, she said. “There will be others.”She said the court is also blamed for failing to intervene, as in the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and in Syria _ areas where it has no jurisdiction.“Syria is a case in point,” she said. “It’s not a member of the ICC, we do not have jurisdiction over Syria unless the U.N. Security Council were to refer Syria to us.”Asked whether she would lobby for countries that don’t endorse the court, such as the U.S., to join it, she said that would be outside the scope of her job.She said she was frustrated by the failure to capture Kony, who was indicted in 2005 . His case became broadly known in the U.S. earlier this year after the “Kony2012” video campaign by a human rights group became an Internet sensation.But “Joseph Kony, even though we have not been able to arrest him all this while, I think the intervention of the ICC has contributed immensely to bringing peace to Northern Uganda,” she said.She said that countries that support the court have a duty to help it carry out arrests. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Associated PressAMSTERDAM (AP) – The International Criminal Court installed Gambian war crimes lawyer Fatou Bensouda as its new prosecutor for a nine-year term on Friday.Bensounda replaces Luis Moreno-Ocampo in a job that has become one of the most prominent in international law over the past decade. She will be tasked with trying to bring to justice alleged war criminals, including Uganda’s Joseph Kony, Libya’s Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Patients with chronic pain give advice Sponsored Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories “The ICC doesn’t have an intervention force,” she said. “But the police of 121 member states are the police of the ICC. The armies of these countries are the armies of the ICC.”Moreno-Ocampo, who was present Friday for Bensouda’s swearing-in, is expected to take a job with FIFA, the international football (soccer) governing body, investigating corruption in the sport.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home In an address to the court, Bensouda said she was “humbled” by her appointment and promised to continue pursuing all cases that fall under the court’s jurisdiction.“As I speak, massive crimes continue to be committed in Darfur (Sudan); Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army’s acts of violence continue unabated in central Africa,” she said.“Nothing short of arresting all those against whom warrants have been issued will ensure that justice is done for millions of victims of the crimes committed by these fugitives.”Court President Sang-Hyun Song oversaw Bensouda’s acceptance of the prosecutor’s duties in a courtroom in a suburb of the Hague, Netherlands.The International Criminal Court was founded in 2002 as the permanent successor to numerous ad-hoc war crimes tribunals set up over the past two decades such as the U.N. Yugoslav tribunal and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.Bensouda has served as deputy prosecutor at the ICC since 2004.In her address, she said that Moreno-Ocampo set up the prosecutor’s office in 2003 with “two staff members … six empty floors and no cases ongoing.”
How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Top Stories BEIJING (AP) – Authorities in western China blamed a group of religious extremists for an attack on police last week that left 11 of the suspects dead and wounded four people.The violence Friday in Xinjiang’s Wushi county was the latest in a series of attacks pointing to growing unrest in the region, which is home to a simmering rebellion against Chinese rule among the ethnic minority Muslim Uighurs. China typically says the attacks are the work of Uighur separatists inspired by radical Islam. Critics say oppressive Chinese policies and strict religious controls fuel the violence. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement A brief report posted Sunday on the regional government’s news website, which is run by the Communist Party, said a man named Mehmut Tohti started to spread religious extremism three years ago and, since September had headed a group of 13 who watched violent videos and carried out physical training. The report, which cited police investigations, said that starting in January the group bought vehicles, made explosive devices and carried out trial explosions to prepare for attacks on police vehicles.Police on Friday fatally shot eight people who attacked officers with machetes and drove cars with gas cylinders they detonated as bombs, authorities said. Three other suspects were killed as they exploded bombs, which injured two civilians and two police officers in Aksu prefecture.The official Xinhua News Agency also cited information from the regional public security department that 190 terrorist attacks were recorded in Xinjiang in 2012, which it said was a significant increase from the year before.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments Share
Top Stories In Maiduguri, capital of Borno state and birthplace of the Boko Haram terrorist network, the attackers chose a densely populated area with narrow alleyways that maximized the blasts and a Saturday night when the market was open late.The victims include children dancing at a wedding celebration and people watching a soccer match at a cinema, survivors told The Associated Press.Fifty-one bodies were retrieved by Sunday morning but many more are believed buried in rubble, said a Red Cross official who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. Some were burned beyond recognition in fires caused by the explosions.In a village 60 kilometers (40 miles) away, suspected extremists also struck Saturday night, killing 39 people, according to cab driver Mansur Buba.He said he returned home Sunday to find victims being buried in Mainok village, which has been attacked many times in the past year. A State Security Service agent said no huts were left standing there. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to reporters.In Maiduguri, the headquarters of the army and air force offensive against Boko Haram, the first bomb came from a pickup truck loaded with firewood, said Hassan Ali, the leader of an anti-terror vigilante group. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Soldiers have complained to the AP that they are outnumbered and are expected to confront militants firing anti-aircraft guns and rocket-propelled grenades armed only with automatic rifles.Maiduguri has suffered two attacks in the past six months: a Jan. 14 bomb that killed about 40 people and a bold assault Dec. 5 on the air force base and an army barracks on the outskirts in which all five aircraft on the runway were destroyed.Such attacks have led to accusations by regional officials of collusion between some military officers and the terrorist network that wants to impose Islamic rule across Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer and most populous nation of some 170 million people comprising almost equal numbers of Christians and Muslims.Opposition politicians blame a failure of leadership by Jonathan, whose perceived desire to run for re-election next February has prompted defections from the governing party amid accusations that he plans to flout a party rule alternating leadership between a Muslim northerner and someone like Jonathan, a southern Christian.The Defense Ministry has blamed recent attacks on militants escaping aerial bombardments and ground assaults to flush them from forest hideouts and mountain caves along the Cameroon border. The military closed hundreds of kilometers (miles) of border with Cameroon last week to stop extremists escaping and using Cameroon soil to launch attacks. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) – Twin car bombs at a bustling city marketplace blasted buildings to rubble and tore apart bodies the same night an attack on a farming village razed every thatched-roof hut.At least 90 people have been killed, officials and survivors reported Sunday, as Nigeria’s Islamic extremists step up attacks and criticism mounts of the failure of the military and government to suppress the 4-year-old Islamic uprising in the northeast. Comments Share Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Many more people were killed in the second blast, which was timed to catch people who rushed to the aid of those wounded in the first explosion, survivors said.Survivors said they captured a man who drove the second car to the scene, jumped out, grabbed a tricycle taxi and tried to make off. He was badly beaten and taken to nearby Umaru Shehu General Hospital, where a security guard said all the wounded brought in had died. Most survivors insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals.Some bodies were blown apart, said market trader Mallam Sumaila. An Associated Press reporter saw a charred corpse at Umaru Shehu hospital, where wailing families were collecting bodies for immediate burial, in the Muslim tradition.It was not known how many wounded are being treated in three hospitals in the city.Military and police officials did not immediately offer comment and there was no claim of responsibility from Boko Haram, which communicates only through occasional videos.The attack is a major setback to the latest army and air force offensive under new commanders since President Goodluck Jonathan fired his entire military command in January.Since then, criticism and anger have grown as attacks have increased and become ever deadlier: More than 300 people were killed in February alone in the neighboring states of Adamawa and Yobe. Outnumbered soldiers are accused of abandoning checkpoints and leaving civilians at the mercy of extremists in two attacks last week that killed about 100 people, including 59 students at a high school. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Thousands of people have lost family members, homes, businesses and livelihoods. Tens of thousands have fled their homes, displaced inside Nigeria and dispersed in neighboring countries to get away from the attacks and the military fallout that has killed an unknown number of civilians. Human rights activists accuse the Nigerian military of gross violations, including summary executions and destruction of hundreds of homes in villages they suspect were harboring extremists.There are fears Nigeria’s 4-year-old rebellion could spread. Boko Haram militants already operate in Cameroon, Chad and Niger and lately there have been reports the Nigerian extremists are threatening to defend Muslims in Central African Republic, where French and African troops are trying to end fighting between Muslim and Christian militias.___Faul reported from Lagos, Nigeria.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 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Top Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home The ANSA news agency said three Egyptians were arrested on suspicion of aiding illegal immigration, though not with homicide, since the smugglers who threw the insulin overboard were purportedly the trip organizers in Egypt.Premier Matteo Renzi mentioned the girls’ death in a speech Saturday in hopes of calming mounting tensions in Italy over resettling would-be refugees, whose numbers have taxed Italy’s overcrowded refugee centers.Police in Rome scuffled with residents this week who were protesting the transfer of a few dozen migrants to their neighborhood, while in Treviso, residents set fire to mattresses of a condo where 100 migrants were to be put up temporarily. The would-be refugees were subsequently transferred.Renzi acknowledged the politicized anti-immigrant sentiment in Italy, especially from the country’s right-wing Northern League party.“We can discuss everything, but let’s still be human when facing the pain of someone who has the right to dignity,” Renzi said. “When a little girl dies, we can’t allow ourselves to renounce being human beings for the sake of a percentage point.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments Share New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies ROME (AP) — Police in Sicily have arrested three Egyptians who allegedly were in charge of a smuggling boat on which a 10-year-old Syrian girl with diabetes died after the smugglers threw her insulin overboard.The 335 migrants arrived in port in Augusta, Sicily, on Wednesday after a week at sea. They had left port near Alexandria, Egypt, according to Save the Children. Agency spokeswoman Giovanna di Benedetto said Saturday the parents reported that as soon as the family of eight boarded, the traffickers threw the backpack containing the 10-year-old’s insulin overboard. She died during the trip. Residents and far right demonstrators protest as a bus carrying migrants arrives to house asylum seekers in a former school in Rome, Friday, July 17, 2015. (Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home The difference between men and women when it comes to pain 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L Jetstar have been criticised again for their lack of compassion after charging a couple over $400 for rescheduling their flights due to a death in their family.The news comes less than a week after the airline was slammed by Paralympian Kurt Fearnly for forcing him to check his personal wheelchair.The Townsville Bulletin reported Monday that Queenslander Christine Cook had planned to fly to Sydney with her husband Leon last Thursday.However, her mother who had had a long battle with illness, passed away on Tuesday.Upon re-booking the flights to Sydney, Mrs Cook said Jetstar had charged her with a $403 fee.Mr Cook said that it was impossible to contact the airline “or anyone at it with some compassion” to appeal the charge”“I couldn’t speak to anyone in Australia; I kept getting bounce around (the country” he said.”Eventually I was put in contact with someone in Malaysia, who gave me a number I couldn’t access. It was a joke.”Jetstar said yesterday that it had, on reflection, decided to waive the charge. <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/1f5fc/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>
Tourism Tasmania will launch Tasmania: Lumina – A Winter of Festivals in an effort to attract visitors to the State during the chilly months this year. Tourism Tasmania CEO, Felicia Mariani said the State Tourism Organisation had invested $1.6million towards this autumn-winter campaign, combined with the $1.35million contribution from tourism industry operators and major partners. “Never before have we engaged with all levels of industry and other partners to this extent and received this level of campaign participation,” said Ms Mariani. The inaugural Lumina – A Winter of Festivals will take place from late April to August and see Tasmania host more than 100 festivals and events in locations all over the island state. “This winter, Tasmania will be heating up with activity and events.“No matter what your passion, there’s something for everyone in Tasmania this winter. Lumina – A Winter of Festivals will feature popular current and new events including the exhilarating tarmac rally Targa Tasmania; epicurean festivals Savour Tasmania and Tastings at the Top; musical extravaganzas Festival of Broadway and Festival of Voices; AFL football at Aurora Stadium; and two events making their debuts in 2010, the Australian Shakespeare Festival and the edgy Junction Arts Festival,” she said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/23442/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>
<a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/2a39e/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L Safety concerns have pushed the European Union to ban more than half of Iran Air’s fleet from entering European airspace.According to the Associated Press, the carrier’s Boeing 727s and 747s, and Airbus 320s, which make up two-thirds of its fleet, have not met international safety standards.They have subsequently been placed on the EU’s blacklist, which lists 278 unsafe airlines. Iran Air have since called the decision “unfair”, with the carrier’s spokesperson telling the official Iran news agency the company will continue contacting the EU to lift the ban as it had “precisely” met all the EU safety criteria questions .He assured that there would be no flight disruptions to Europe as the carrier will use its Airbus fleet which has been approved.The carrier purchased its Boeing 747 and 727 jets in 1970 and has been unable to properly maintain them due to a US ban on spare parts.
Palazzo Versace is delighted to add five prominent awards to its overflowing list of accolades. The elegant hotel has won 2010’s Best Luxury Hotel at the World Luxury Hotel Awards as well as receiving both the Outstanding Serviceand Outstanding Luxuryawards in HotelClub.com’s 2010 reader awards. The luxury hotel has also won Australasia’s Leading HotelandAustralasia’s Leading Spa Resortat the exclusive World Travel Awards. Recognition from such prestigious organisations is an honour for Palazzo Versace. The World Travel Awards and the World Luxury Hotel Awards celebrate the pinnacle of achievement for hoteliers, and are voted by industry colleagues. The awards truly reflect the uncompromising standards of Palazzo Versace.The HotelClub.com awards, based on public nominations, identify the people’s choice for the highest quality hotels, the type of recognition of which there can be no better. These awards highlight the fabulous working relationship the hotel has with its online partners such as hotelclub.com, and is delighted that its consumers have chosen them for such a coveted award.Palazzo Versace’s General Manager, Russell Durnell said the awards are testament to the hotel’s staff, “Palazzo Versace epitomizes the luxury hotel experience and we pride ourselves on the excellent service we provide all of our guests. We are honored to have been recognized in these ways.”The awards are deserving acknowledgement for Palazzo Versace, which is celebrating its 10th year in 2010 as the world’s first only fully fashion-branded hotel. Source = Palazzo Versace
Buenos Aires wildly celebrated the appointmentof the new pontiff. Image Ivan Fernandez/AP There’s little doubt that tourism to Rome from Argentina will benefit from the election of the country’s, and continent’s first pope. But what of travel to the homeland of Pope Francis?According to the UK’s Guardian, a Vatican spokesperson said it was hoped that the new pontiff’s first trip abroad would be to his homeland, which would undoubtedly bring with it a huge influx of visitors from across Argentina and Latin America. But beyond that, there could also be interest in retracing the steps of Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was born and raised in Buenos Aires.With Pope John Paul II, there was significant interest in walking in his footsteps in Poland, where he was born. So, who’s to say the same won’t happen once this pope becomes a little better known?Aerolineas Argentinas Regional Manager of Australia and New Zealand told e-Travel Blackboard that the announcement of the new pope was “great news for our country”.“We hope that the new appointment of the pope from Argentina generates more interest in our country and works as a link between Australia and Argentina, helping to increase the number for customers traveling there,” he said.“Argentina is a great destination for the Australian market and now this is another great reason to go and visit Buenos Aires, the town of the new pope and chance to visit South American Continent”. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H
In the biggest event of its kind, Rotorua will host 600 TRENZ delegates, including hundreds of the world’s most influential travel and tourism buyers, to an afternoon of activities, ranging from exhilarating mountain biking to a rejuvenating spa.TRENZ is the $30 billion tourism industry’s premier international trade show. The 2016 event (10-13 May) is being hosted by Destination Rotorua and will be attended by 350 international tourism and travel buyers and representatives from around 300 of the country’s leading tourism operators.“On Thursday afternoon, 12 May, hundreds of TRENZ delegates will take a break from their business meetings to experience first-hand some of the world-class visitor activities on offer in Rotorua,” says Chris Roberts, Chief Executive of the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) which manages TRENZ.“They will discover a part of the country that has something for every type of visitor from authentic cultural experiences, adventure, and spas to geothermal, eco-tourism and luxury, always infused with warm hospitality.“This time away from scheduled TRENZ meetings is also an opportunity for delegates to network informally, make new contacts and potentially identify new business opportunities.”Destination Rotorua General Manager Oscar Nathan says the activity afternoon features around 30 different options and will showcase the diverse range of world-class activities Rotorua offers international travellers, along with some of the innovative new products that have come on stream recently.“Activities range from plunging down the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall to a wine-matching session and an exploration of a living Maori village.“Delegates keen to get close to the natural wonders of the region can walk amongst the Redwoods high above the forest floor, fly over an active volcano or tour an otherworldly geothermal field.”Mr Nathan says TRENZ and the activity afternoon are a valuable opportunity to highlight to influential international travel and tourism buyers why Rotorua is New Zealand’s coolest hotspot. TRENZ 2016Source = Tourism Industry Association New Zealand
Why I won’t let fear of terrorism stop me from travelingWhy I won’t let fear of terrorism stop me from travelingAs the CEO and co-founder of TripAdvisor, I am often asked if people are still traveling or should still travel given the recent spate of terror attacks we’ve seen in destinations around the world. Images and eye witness accounts in both familiar and less-traveled places tell stories of heartbreaking tragedy, and each attack has been deeply shocking to learn about. I am going to tell you why I’m still traveling.One thing these tragedies have shown us is that, while there are physically vast distances between all of us in this world, we come together as if we were neighbors when terror strikes. It would be all too easy to fall into despair as we watch the aftermath of these events. But I am constantly struck by the amazing spirit and resilience shown by people all across the globe who refuse to let fear keep them from living their lives.The freedom to travel is, for many, an important aspect in their way of life. So it is natural to wonder whether that freedom has now been compromised with the increasing frequency of attacks around the world. But with each attack I have been heartened to see members of our travel community show that they aren’t going to let fear keep them from traveling and seeing the world. Their thirst for new experiences is too big of a part of what makes them who they are.In fact, one could argue that it is that spirit of adventure and desire to experience different cultures that broadens our minds and makes us see more clearly what unites us as people, rather than what divides us.My background is in software engineering and I find comfort in statistics, analytics and data. Our data at TripAdvisor shows that people continue to visit our site and plan trips in greater numbers every year, despite the increasing cadence of these isolated terror attacks. Another statistic I saw recently was that, with all the places in the world and all the people in it, the chances of being the victim of a terrorist attack whether at home or traveling is 1 in over 9 million. We all have a greater chance of getting struck by lightning, or dying from a snake bite. On a lighter note, we also have better odds of winning an Olympic Gold Medal or seeing a UFO today.Of course, it is important that travelers take care when choosing their destination and do what is in our power to stay safe and be informed. Always consult the latest security information offered by the government’s foreign office. Consult travel forums such as those on TripAdvisor to find out what the local community experts are saying about traveling in a destination.By following that advice, we are seeing that some people are making changes to their travel itinerary. While some people may decide to put their travel plans on hold, for millions of travelers it is not curbing their desire to travel at all. Just look at destinations like Paris, a city that has welcomed millions of international visitors this year alone, and it’s easy to see the enduring resilience of the travel community.For many of us, travel is an essential part of what makes us happy. It enriches our lives and deepens our perspectives. I write this as I am about to embark on my own summer vacation in Asia. We join the millions of other people around the world who continue to live their lives as ever, governed by the values and beliefs that we hold about the importance of travel and experiencing the world outside of our own. TripAdvisorSource = TripAdvisor
SilverNeedle Hospitality rebrands to Next Story GroupSilverNeedle Hospitality announces its hotel management division is now branded Next Hotels, forming Next Story Group.The Group also announces the acquisition of the internationally acclaimed new media marketing agency, Brand Karma, a pioneer in building brand experiences through social media, creative storytelling, digital marketing and immersive virtual reality. Together with SilverNeedle’s in-house architecture and design agency Virsa, SilverNeedle becomes highly-specialised in marketing and design, holistically maximising ROI on real estate assets.Anand Nadathur, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Next Story Group commented, “The hospitality landscape is changing and we’re evolving in important ways. Over the past year we’ve developed in-house architecture and design capabilities via Virsa, identified new media marketing competency as a must-have which led to the acquisition of Brand Karma, strengthened our employees and Board, and studied the impact of the sharing economy on urban spaces. We now have the right set of specialised services, and are ready to move forward to help asset owners futureproof their real estate by giving consumers something fresh and relevant. Hence we’re launching as Next Story Group today.”Next Story Group is based in Singapore, with regional offices across Asia-Pacific, and offers best-in-class services to hotel owners in branding, marketing, design and development on top of its hotel management services. From the acquisition and development of spaces, to conceptualisation of design, to management of operations and innovative marketing, Next Story Group will pioneer a multi-disciplinary approach and blend services so that each property in its portfolio can adapt with agility to the needs of tomorrow.“The hospitality and real estate industries are experiencing unprecedented shifts, with new consumer expectations giving quick rise to disruptors,” explains Morris Sim, previously Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Brand Karma, now Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for Next Story Group. “It is difficult for asset owners to ensure what they have today will be relevant and monetisable for tomorrow’s consumers. Being a part of Next Story Group means asset owners can count on us to differentiate and respond to market changes faster.”Next Story Group comprises of the following businesses:Next Hotels: Named after the group’s flagship hotel brand, Next Hotels is a specialised developer of hotels across Asia-Pacific and the market leader in technological innovation and rapid adaptability within the hotel industry.Brand Karma: Award-winning new media marketing agency that builds brands through virtual reality experiences, digital-marketing and creative storytelling. Past clients include Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, AccorHotelsGroup, IHG, Marriott, Tourism Australia, Gap Inc., Honeywell, and Lincoln Motor Company.Virsa: Architecture and design agency pushing the limits of modern design, Virsa leads the design and development of all hotel, F&B, and urban spaces within Next Story Group, as well as the group’s innovations in building tech. Led by Matthew Lai, Virsa creates spaces for the future, collaborating with partners across Asia-Pacific to offer specialised one-stop shop design services.Along with the launch, Next Story Group also announces the appointment of veteran hotelier Patrick Imbardelli to its Board of Directors. Commenting on the developments of the group, Patrick Imbardelli remarks, ‘’I’m excited about Next Story Group because it has the elements needed to ensure that a hotel owner’s asset can continually stand out to the end consumer. The approach the company has developed will create new value in the marketplace for the owners and the consumers, and I look forward to guiding the team to expand their vision.” Next Story GroupSource = Next Story Group
TravelManagers’ final round of state meetings were well attended in five cities, including SydneyPTMs Enjoy Festive Spirit at End Year State MeetingsTravelManagers state meetings involving personal travel managers (PTMs), representatives from national partnership office (NPO) and partner suppliers are an important and much-enjoyed aspect of the TravelManagers business model, allowing attendees to discuss future initiatives and reflect upon the successes and learnings of the previous months. This year’s final round of state meetings, which have just been held in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, were infused with Christmas atmosphere, lots of positivity and plenty of fun.PTM Lyndall Hewitt, representative for North Fremantle, says she loves attending the state conference as it’s a more relaxed way to hear about the updates NPO are working on.“There’s always something great in the pipeline,” she explains, “but the most important part of the day for me is strengthening my relationships with NPO and the other WA-based PTMs. This has always been the most invaluable thing for me as a PTM, right from my very first state meeting.”This view is shared by Hewitt’s colleagues, including Tanya Barker, who is representative for Narre Warren South in Victoria.BPMs Ali Banks (left) and Suzanne Laister (right) congratulate PTM Michelle Edmead for her five years’ service with TravelManagers“The state meetings are well-organised events that are valuable to my business. They provide up-to-date information on what’s happening in the company, and there are always exciting updates, sharing of information, open-forum chats and the chance to get together and discuss our business going forward,” she says.“It’s also a great day to catch up with members of the NPO support team and fellow PTMs,” Barker adds.For some of the newer PTMs, this was their first experience of a state meeting. PTM Sarah Segal, representative for Wheelers Hill attended the Melbourne meeting, which was held at Crown Conference Centre, followed by lunch at The General Assembly. Segal found her first state meeting very informative and enjoyable saying “I’m already looking forward to the next one!”Segal says she was also impressed to see people recognised for their longevity of service and loyalty at TravelManagers, with 31 PTMs receiving plaques for completing five years with the company.TravelManagers’ Queensland PTMs and NPO support team enjoyed time together over lunch at Brisbane’s Emporium HotelTravelManagers Executive General Manager Michael Gazal is proud that the total number of PTMs who have achieved five year awards with the company amounted to 46 this year.“There are now 208 PTMs in our network who have been with us for five years or more, which I think is a great endorsement for the strength of our business model and the spirit of cooperation that exists within TravelManagers,” he says.Gazal says the high attendance levels (50% of all PTMs attended one of the state meetings, along with 41 representatives from fifteen suppliers) is a reflection of the meetings’ perceived value, both within TravelManagers and by industry partners. This view is supported by the suppliers themselves.“It was a privilege to be one of the preferred suppliers invited to attend. It’s a wonderful way to interact with the PTMs on a personal level in a relaxed environment and my presence shows thePTMs our commitment and support, which helps build great relationships and trust, which in turn generating sales for us,” says Janelle Philpott, who attended the state meetings in Perth and Adelaide in her capacity as Business Development Manager for Air New Zealand.“Air New Zealand and I are proud to continue to support the TravelManagers Group.”A lazy Christmas lunch at Melbourne’s General Assembly restaurant for Victoria-based PTMsAccording to Gazal, the meetings were an opportunity to let PTMs know what to expect in 2018 and gain a clear picture of growth plans for the next three to five years. PTMs also learnt more about enhancements coming in the areas of Finance, Operations and Marketing.“There was great interest in the announcement from marketing about our new PTM web pages,” he says, “and everyone found the opportunity to learn more about the company vision and ask questions of the management team about plans for the future to be of great value.”This glimpse into the future was one of the highlights for many of the PTMs, including Trish Clowes representative for Traralgon in Victoria.“I loved the marketing section, and I’m really excited about our new web pages – it’s seriously great stuff,” Clowes enthuses.Further adding, “I also enjoyed hearing about the company’s future goals; it was a great day, with a great variety of info shared.”Once the business part of the day had been concluded, attendees relished the opportunity to spend time together on a more informal basis, with Christmas-themed lunches providing the perfect atmosphere to celebrate another successful year together.“There was beautiful, plentiful food surrounded by like-minded individuals, what a great way to celebrate a busy year, chat and have a laugh!” says Rachael Portelli, representative for Brunswick West in Victoria.For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599.About TravelManagersTravel Managers operates in all Australian States and is a wholly owned subsidiary of House of Travel, Australasia’s largest independent travel company which has a forecast turnover of $1.5 billion for 2017. TravelManagers is a sister company to Hoot Holidays, also owned by House of Travel, and has more than 500 personal travel managers throughout Australia with a dedicated support team at the company’s national partnership office in Sydney. TravelManagers places all customer money in a dedicated and audited Client Trust Account which is separate from the general business accounts, ensuring client funds are secure and only used for client purchases. Source = TravelManagers
The Ministry of Tourism, as advised by the Ministry of Home Affairs, has constituted a Sub-Group of Task Force comprising representatives from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting; Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change; Ministry of Shipping; Archaeological Survey of India; Coastal India Development Council; Indian Coast Guard and Maritime Board of Government of Gujarat to provide inputs for identifying islands for holistic development, indicate islands with historic places, and with tourism potential for holistic development. An Interim Report on holistic development of islands has been submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs.Ministry of Shipping has informed that 78 lighthouses have been identified for tourism development of which 44 are mainland lighthouses and 34 are island lighthouses.Development and promotion of tourism including recreation facilities such as water sports, resorts, light and sound shows at tourist attractions is the responsibility of the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations. The Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance to the projects that are complete as per existing scheme guidelines and are sanctioned subject to availability of scheme/funds and utilisation of funds released earlier.