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New Colin Cowie weddings debut at Hard Rock properties

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — Rock ‘n roll meets romance at Hard Rock Hotels, which just announced brand new Colin Cowie Wedding Collections at its all-inclusive properties in Cancun, Riviera Maya, Vallarta and Punta Cana.Customizable packages range from the ethereal ‘Driftwood Romance’ ceremony, which showcase neutral earth tones and rich foliage, to the elegant ‘Seaside Shimmer’ ceremony, which incorporates crystals and delicate rose accents. For couples seeking a regal approach to their nuptials, the ‘Golden Radiance’ package provides a lavish gilded backdrop with pops of red roses peppered throughout.Indian weddings are also available, complete with Indian music, live entertainment, Mehndi designs and traditional cuisine (available at Hard Rock Hotel Cancun and Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya).All Wedding Collections include complimentary and discounted honeymoon packages that are redeemable for up to one year.All Inclusive Collection renewed its exclusive Colin Cowie Wedding partnership last year for three more years. Wedding packages are handpicked by Cowie and can be mixed and matched, upgraded and customized, with prices starting at US$2,500. Travelweek Group Tags: Hard Rock Hotels, Romance & Weddings Sharecenter_img Tuesday, April 18, 2017 New Colin Cowie weddings debut at Hard Rock properties Posted bylast_img read more

Branson buys Hard Rock Hotel Casino Las Vegas

first_img By: Regina Garcia CanoSource: The Associated Press Tags: Las Vegas, Virgin Group Monday, April 2, 2018 Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Branson buys Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas LAS VEGAS — The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas will be overhauled over the next several months following its purchase Friday by billionaire Richard Branson.The property with about 1,500 rooms and suites off the Las Vegas Strip and eventually become Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. It will continue to operate under the Hard Rock brand through the end of 2019, when the renovations are expected to be completed.“Virgin is all about fun, entertainment, not taking ourselves too seriously,” Branson said. “Virgin Atlantic has had a lot of fun flying tons of people to Las Vegas from Britain for many years. Virgin America has done the same, and we wouldn’t have just come to Las Vegas unless we could’ve found the property that was very Virgin, and I think that’s what we’ve achieved.”The 23-year-old property will remain open during renovations, which will take place in multiple phases. The company said it will invest “hundreds of millions of dollars” to transform the property, but it was not immediately clear whether the hotel-casino will keep its current entertainment venues, including a popular dayclub.More news:  TRAVELSAVERS welcomes Julie Virgilio to the teamThe property will retain its casino floor, which will be managed by a partner. Some of the large rock memorabilia that the Hard Rock casino-hotel owns may go to storage.“The guitar may not survive,” Branson said referring to a massive guitar outside the hotel. “But we have a giant ‘v’, which is sort of guitar-shaped, which may take over.”Virgin Hotels purchased the property with a group of partners, including Los Angeles-based investment firm Juniper Capital Partners. The terms of the purchase from Brookfield Asset Management were not disclosed.Branson, who has previously rappelled down a casino-hotel and got on a jet ski on the fountains outside the Bellagio casino- resort to promote his businesses, promised an “equally fun” event for the hotel’s official launch.The leader of the Culinary Union, which represents more than 50,000 casino-hotel workers in Las Vegas, said Brookfield and Virgin Hotels have agreed to a process that will ensure management remains neutral as employees choose whether to unionize “without management interference, harassment, surveillance, bullying, or litigation.”More news:  Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise rates“This is a new era of positive labour-management co-operation at the Hard Rock Las Vegas,” Geoconda Arguello-Kline, the union’s secretary-treasurer said in a statement.The only Virgin Hotel opened so far is in Chicago. Others are planned for New York, Dallas, New Orleans, Nashville, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Palm Springs, California, and Edinburgh, Scotland.Branson has run a number of businesses under the Virgin brand, including records, airlines, wireless carrier and a commercial space venture.last_img read more

Win a trip for two with new agent contest from Exodus

first_imgTags: Contests, Exodus Travels Win a trip for two with new agent contest from Exodus Posted by Share TORONTO — Agents can win a self-guided adventure for two with the latest update to the Exodus Expert Program.Aiming to reward hardworking agents who bring unique travel experiences to their clients, Exodus is offering agents who complete the expert program and earn the Self-Guided Badge an automatic entry into the contest “and the opportunity to go their own way”.Exodus has over 115 self-guided walking or cycling adventures to choose from, showcasing Europe’s lesser known backroads, wine trails, waterways and coastal routes for travellers who want to go at their own pace.The Self-Guided Contest for Agents runs from Sept. 17 until Nov 15 and is open to agents in Canada and the U.S.Agents who visit exodus-expert.com and complete the training program will have their names automatically entered for the chance to win a trip for two on a self-guided trip. The trip is valued at US$4,000. The winner will be randomly selected on Nov.16.center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Monday, September 17, 2018 Travelweek Group last_img read more

Long lines await Nicaraguans hoping to obtain residency status in Costa Rica

first_imgSome 1,300 Nicaraguan citizens stood in lines stretching around the block this week at the Nicaraguan Embassy in San José, waiting for documents that will enable them to legalize their immigration status in Costa Rica. The lines began forming last week.Undocumented Nicaraguans in Costa Rica are taking advantage of an extension offered by Costa Rica’s Immigration Administration to obtain residency status by November.Many of them sleep outside embassy facilities in Barrio La California, hoping to access the building early in the morning.Embassy staff was forced to extend office hours and use parking spaces to attend to the high number of visitors who arrive each day to request for birth certificates and criminal records.Nicaraguan officials said they are working until 8 or 9 p.m. to be able to assist as many people as they can. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Dolphins or Ants Which way you going

first_imgThere are other choices in life that may seem equally obvious. Say, the candidates for president in the United States. Or the evolution of Costa Rica – with or without Tico Times.What would happen if the newspaper were to disappear, and the decisions about natural resources were made by a few wealthy gold miners who are certain that they know what’s best for our land and ocean? The country would be full of mines, with drones running around barren landscapes. Sort of like what ants look like.Similarly, without checks on its power, the faceless multinational tuna fleet will rules the seas. Sustainability is out the window. A resource is harvested until it is gone, and then the workers simply move on. Remind you of anything? Right. Ants.So should we divide up into castes in which most of us work like slaves so a few can do the tough job of living fat and bloated? Or maybe better we work together in groups, let the wise lead and help the weak. That’s what dolphins do. And that’s my humble suggestion.Should we learn from other species or just devour them?Should we exercise our big, questioning brains, rather than succumbing to hive control?Should we move freely and smoothly about, trusting each other, or should we opt for heavier armor?Year-round sex or year-round war?Gene Roddenbury, the creator of Star Trek, nailed the essence of Cetacean or Arthropod. Human, or Borg, he asked. Is the human perhaps part machine? Borgs were more efficient, he concluded, but never happy.Do we think, or just do what we are told?Obama or Romney?Tico Times or No Tico Times?What I am trying to say is, go dolphin!Vote Obama. Help save The Tico Times.And give us all a nudge towards dolphin.Dolphins have way more fun. Facebook Comments No related posts. Think about a group of ants. Now think about a group of dolphins. Which is more appealing? Do you prefer scurrying, chaotic little insects, or socially adept and wondrous sea mammals?center_img Shawn Larkinlast_img read more

Costa Rican hotels are favorite in the region

first_imgTravel and tourism websiteTripAdvisor.com released its ranking of the 25 best hotels in Central America, and 16 are located in Costa Rica.The “Traveller’s Choice 2013” lists top-rated hotels by travelers and users of the popular website that registers 60 million unique monthly visitors.Hotel Nayara in San Carlos (northern region) tops the list, followed by three other Tico hotels: La Paloma Lodge in Drake Bay (South Pacific), Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort (Manuel Antonio, Central Pacific) and The Four Seasons Papagayo in Guanacaste. In fifth place is Victoria House in Belize.The ranking also includes Hotel Grano de Oro in San José in sixth position and Villa Blanca Cloud Forest in San Ramón, Alajuela, in ninth.Two hotels from Tamarindo, Guanacaste, were included – Capitán Suizo (#14) and Cala Luna (#16) – as well as four from Alajuela –,  The Springs Resort and Spa (#15), Hotel Royal Corin (#17), Arenal Springs Resort (#18) and Arenal Manoa (#19).Hotel Parador in Manuel Antonio National Park (#20), Westin Golf Resort & Spa in Conchal, Guanacaste at #24 and Hotel Mountain Paradise at #25 close the local list.The website explained its list comes from regional information centers, where they have collected some 75 million comments and ratings of hotels worldwide.Full list:1 Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens. La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica2 La Paloma Lodge, Drake Bay, Costa Rica3 Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort. Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica4 Four Seasons Resort.  Papagayo Peninsula, Costa Rica.5 Victoria House. San Pedro, Belize6 Hotel Grano de Oro. San José, Costa Rica7 Hotel Gran Mediterraneo. San Pedro Sula, Honduras8 Coco Beach Resort. San Pedro, Belize9 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel and Nature Reserve. San Ramón, Costa Rica10 Grand Caribe Belize Resort and Condominiums. San Pedro, Belize11 Las Terrazas Resort. San Pedro, Belize.12 InterContinental Hotels Real San Salvador. El Salvador13 Hotel Ciudad de David. David, Panama14 Hotel Capitan Suizo. Tamarindo, Costa Rica15 The Springs Resort and Spa at Arenal. La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica16 Cala Luna Boutique Hotel & Villas. Tamarindo, Costa Rica17 Hotel Royal Corin. La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica18 Arenal Springs Resort. La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica19 Crocodile Bay Resort. Puerto Jiménez, Costa Rica20 Hotel Parador. Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica21 Casa Santo Domingo. Antigua, Guatemala22 Villas de Palermo Hotel & Resort. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua23 Arenal Manoa Hotel & Spa. La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica24 The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal. Playa Conchal, Costa Rica25 Hotel Mountain Paradise. La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica Facebook Comments Read Tico Times review of Hotel Nayara No related posts. REVIEW last_img read more

Castro says Oswald couldnt have shot Kennedy

first_imgFidel Castro shares at least one belief with the majority of Americans: He is convinced that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was not the work of a lone gunman, but rather the culmination of a broad conspiracy. According to a recent Gallup poll, 61 percent of Americans believe Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in Dallas 50 years ago.But Castro suspects that Oswald might not have been involved in the assassination at all. He told me — to my great surprise — over lunch three years ago in Havana: “I have reached the conclusion that Oswald could not have been the one who killed Kennedy.” Castro is of course a confident man, but he said this with a degree of surety that was noteworthy.I was visiting Cuba at Castro’s invitation. I had just written a cover story for the Atlantic about Israel’s threat to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities militarily. Castro read the article and sent me a message through the Cuban Interest Section in Washington: He would like me to come to Cuba as soon as possible in order to discuss my findings with him. I obliged.Kennedy was only a peripheral subject in our discussions. Castro was preoccupied by the threat of nuclear war and proliferation, as one would expect: He was one of the three key players in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis that nearly brought about the destruction of the planet. John F. Kennedy was Castro’s adversary; Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, was his patron.At one point, I mentioned the letter he wrote to Khrushchev at the height of the crisis, in which he asked the Soviets to consider launching a nuclear strike against the United States if the Americans attacked Cuba. “That would be the time to think about liquidating such a danger forever through a legal right of self- defense,” he wrote. In Havana, I asked him, “At a certain point it seemed logical for you to recommend that the Soviets bomb the U.S. Does what you recommended still seem logical now?”He answered: “After I’ve seen what I’ve seen, and knowing what I know now, it wasn’t worth it all.” I expressed relief that Khrushchev ignored his request.Castro was also deeply concerned about the level of anti- Semitic rhetoric emanating from Tehran and wanted to communicate his displeasure to then-president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, through an intermediary.I brought Julia Sweig — a friend and a pre-eminent expert on Cuba at the Council on Foreign Relations — with me on the trip. We wound up spending the better part of a week with Castro. By the time of our meetings, Castro was recovering from a serious illness and already semi-retired. His brother Raul was running the country, although I was under the clear impression that nothing important happened in Havana without Fidel’s assent.One afternoon, after a marathon interview session, we gathered for lunch — Castro, his wife, Dalia, his son Antonio, a couple of aides, Julia, a translator and myself — and an expansive Castro told stories of the early days of the revolution, and entertained a series of random questions from us. I knew, from Julia, who has studied Castro for years, that JFK was seldom too far from his thoughts, but our discussion of U.S. policy actually began with other presidents. Castro spoke of a biography of Abraham Lincoln he had just read.“Is Lincoln the most interesting American to you?” I asked.“No,” he said, “but much more than Washington.”“Much more than Kennedy?” I asked.“Yes,” he said, but unconvincingly. “Kennedy made many mistakes. He was young and dramatic.” Castro reserved his animus mainly for Robert Kennedy, who was attorney general in his brother’s administration and loathed Castro and his revolution. It was Robert, Castro believes, who was behind U.S. plots to have him assassinated. But he blames JFK for the invasion of the Bay of Pigs by a ragtag Cuban exile army: “Kennedy was humiliated by his defeat at the Bay of Pigs, but all that we did was to protect ourselves.”Then Castro began talking about JFK’s assassination. “It is a very sad story,” he said. “It was a very sad day when it happened.” He remembered the moment he heard of the shooting. “I won’t forget it. As soon as we heard, we all rushed to the radio to listen.”Self-preservation was on the Cuban leader’s mind in the days after the assassination. He understood that he would be blamed for JFK’s death, especially after it was learned that Oswald had vociferously opposed American policy toward Castro’s Cuba. Castro tried hard to communicate to the Americans that he had nothing to do with JFK’s death.As Philip Shenon reports in his new book, “A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination,” Castro even arranged to be interviewed by a Warren Commission staffer on a yacht off Cuba. “Immediately after the assassination, Castro very justifiably worried that he would be blamed, and he was worried that if he were blamed, there would be an American invasion of Cuba,” Shenon told me. But Castro’s denials were credible. Despite the many arguments advanced by conspiracy theorists, he said, “There is no credible evidence that Castro was involved personally in ordering the assassination.”Whether Castro’s agents or sympathizers encouraged Oswald, on a visit to Mexico, to assassinate JFK is another question, one that Shenon explores in his book. “My question is whether people thinking that they were acting in Castro’s best interest might have provided the motivation,” he said. The second question: Whether Oswald believed that killing Kennedy was what Fidel Castro wanted him to do. “In September of 1963, Castro gives an interview to the AP in Havana in which he seems to suggest that Kennedy’s life is at risk: ‘I know the Americans are trying to kill me and if this continues there will be retribution,’ was the message. This report runs in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and Oswald reads the Times-Picayune avidly. Perhaps Oswald said, ‘Ah ha, I’m going to kill Kennedy.’ “This is what might be called the Jodie Foster theory of the Kennedy assassination: Oswald sought to demonstrate his loyalty to the man he admired above all others, Fidel Castro, by killing the president.Castro told us at lunch — as he would — that none of his associates or officials had anything to do with the assassination and that the Cuban embassy in Mexico City, which Oswald had visited, denied him permission to visit Cuba, fearing he was a provocateur.I asked Castro why he thought Oswald could not have acted alone. He proceeded to tell the table a long and discursive story about an experiment he staged, after the assassination, to see if it were possible for a sniper to shoot Kennedy in the manner the assassination was alleged to have happened. “We had trained our people in the mountains during the war” — the Cuban revolution — “on these kind of telescopic sites. So we knew about this kind of shooting. We tried to recreate the circumstances of this shooting, but it wasn’t possible for one man to do. The news I had received is that one man killed Kennedy in his car with a rifle, but I deducted that this story was manufactured to fool people.”Castro said his suspicions grew especially pronounced after Oswald was killed. “There was the story of Jack Ruby, who was said to be so moved by the death of Kennedy that he decided to shoot Oswald on his own. That was just unbelievable to us.”I then asked Castro what he believed actually happened. I brought up his friend Oliver Stone, who suggested that it was the Central Intelligence Agency and a group of anti-Castro Cubans (I used the term “anti-you Cubans”) that plotted the assassination.“Quite possibly,” he said. “This is quite possibly so. There were people in the American government who thought Kennedy was a traitor because he didn’t invade Cuba when he had the chance, when they were asking him. He was never forgiven for that.”“So that’s what you think might have happened?”“No doubt about it,” Castro answered.We talked a bit more about Kennedy and his legacy. Castro told us about his subsequent contact with members of Kennedy’s family, including Maria Shriver. “She’s the one who married [Arnold] Schwarzenegger,” he said. “The world is a very small place.”We turned to other subjects, but Castro came back to Kennedy once more, the next day, when he said to me, apropos of nothing, “Kennedy was very young.”I later asked Julia what this might have meant. For Castro, who was a very old man, she said, Kennedy may forever stand for something out of reach. “He’ll never know what would have happened had JFK lived. He may have reserved for Kennedy in his own mind the possibility of greatness. It’s completely fascinating and frustrating to him.”© 2013, Bloomberg News Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Authorities arrest lawyer with ties to ruling Citizen Action Party on fraud

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica’s Solís claims $112 million in losses from corruption in speech highlighting first 100 days of his administration No clear path forward, opposition lawmakers lament after Solís’ 100-day report Supreme Court re-elects Jorge Chavarría as Costa Rica’s chief prosecutor despite protests After 7 months on the run, El Salvador’s ex-President Flores turns himself in At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) agents raided the home of Jorge Sibaja Rodríguez, a lawyer and member of the ruling Citizen Action Party (PAC). Police are investigating Sibaja’s alleged use of forged documents to commit fraud against the Costa Rican Social Security System, or Caja, in April.Sibaja worked as a consulting attorney for the Caja in debt collection. Earlier this year, Caja officials noticed irregularities in billing for Sibaja’s fees, which allegedly included falsified documents stating that several collections had been completed. But Caja officials were unable to find any matching documents in their financial records.During Tuesday’s raid, OIJ agents seized Judicial Branch watermarked stationary and rubber stamps apparently used by the attorney to forge collections documents.Sibaja, who is a member of the PAC’s Internal Elections Tribunal, recently was scrutinized after it was made public that he charged the party ₡277 million ($500,000) for the authentication of 55,000 party member signatures presented to the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE), despite the fact that the requirement is unnecessary. The TSE has free online tools to certify signatures.In light of the ongoing scandal, members of PAC’s directorate last week agreed not to file those expenses as public campaign financing funds reimbursed by the TSE.Following his weekly Cabinet meeting today, President Luis Guillermo Solís responded to media questions about the arrest by saying, “Sibaja was not part of this campaign. He was a party employee.” Solís added that the issue is in the hands of judicial authorities and he had no further comment.During the raid, OIJ agents also seized several archaeological artifacts that were verified as genuine by experts from the National Museum. Possession of those artifacts is forbidden under Costa Rican law.At about noon, Sibaja was sent to the Prosecutor’s Office to be officially charged. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Government pledges to speed up construction of San Carlos highway

first_imgResidents and business owners from Costa Rica’s northern zone met with President Luis Guillermo Solís Wednesday to ask him to move faster to build a new road to the region, a project they have been awaiting for more than 40 years.Solís promised in June that most of the 28-kilometer road, known as the San Carlos Highway, would be ready by the end of his term in 2018. The highway will connect the Alajuela cantons of San Ramón, in the Central Valley, and San Carlos, in the northern zone.Very little progress was made on the road during the past two administrations, however Public Works and Transport (MOPT) Minister Carlos Segnini said current estimates are to finish the northern stretch of the road by mid-2016 and the central segment by the end of 2017.Delays have mostly been due to the lengthy legal procedures required to expropriate private property along the route. Currently the government is in negotiations with the owners of 80 percent of the required properties. Negotiations are still pending with some 28 properties, Segnini said.On Wednesday afternoon Solís declared the project of public interest in order to expedite all remaining expropriations.The project’s timetable also suffered an eight-month delay this year due to a complaint for alleged environmental damage to a wetland. The complaint was filed by ruling Citizen Action Party lawmaker Javier Cambronero Arguedas.An Environmental Court dismissed the complaint in November after an on-site technical inspection did not find any damage caused by road construction.Segnini asked lawmakers and citizen groups to refrain from further delaying the project. “We hope there will not be any more citizens or lawmakers getting creative with similar complaints just to halt the project,” the minister said.MOPT’s main concern now is that technical studies for the construction of the southern stretch of the highway are delayed, and won’t be ready until May.“We currently don’t know whether we will be able to finish the southern stretch. We are not even sure if we will start work on it,” Segnini said.The northern region, and particularly the canton of San Carlos, is an area rich in ​​agriculture and livestock production. It also has several tourist destinations where hotels, restaurants and tour operators have developed successful businesses. Facebook Comments Related posts:New bridge planned for Costa Rica – Panama border Hablando paja: What if Jesus had been born in Costa Rica? Travel Alert: MOPT suspends daily closures on Route 32 Construction to begin soon to curb heavy traffic on Circunvalación beltwaylast_img read more

IMF says job done in Nicaragua closes office

first_imgRelated posts:A canal across Nicaragua: Is this for real? Russia’s Putin in Cuba, Nicaragua to rekindle Latin America ties Nicaragua’s only billionaire says luxury resort can lift economy US signs trade deal with Argentina during Obama trip Facebook Comments MANAGUA, Nicaragua – The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday it will close its office in Nicaragua in August because its job was done helping the country reduce debt and poverty, and to get on the path to sustainable growth.“This decision reflects the success Nicaragua has had in maintaining macroeconomic stability and growth” since the conclusion of a debt-reduction program in 2011, the IMF’s representative in the country, Juan Zalduendo, told a media conference.He added that the IMF would maintain its six other offices in Latin America — in Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Jamaica, Brazil and Peru.The head of Nicaragua’s central bank, Ovidio Reyes, told the same media conference that the closure showed the country’s “good macroeconomic results” in recent years.The IMF opened its Nicaragua office in 1995 to supervise programs aimed at stabilizing the poor Central American nation’s economy and reining in high foreign debt in the wake of decades of revolution and war.In 2005, the IMF included Nicaragua in its debt relief program under its Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. Nicaragua successfully exited the program in 2011.In the last decade the country has posted growth of over four percent a year, except in 2009 during the global financial crisis.Last year it announced that between 2009 and 2014 it had cut the proportion of its population living in poverty from 45 percent to around 30 percent — an achievement hailed in a February report by the IMF.last_img read more

5 questions for blues musician Steve Arvey

first_img Facebook Comments Steve Arvey is a Chicago-born musician who has been playing the blues since the age of 18. When starting his career, Arvey worked as a sideman on the Chicago blues scene playing bass guitar, guitar, and drums behind such legends as Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Rogers, Big Smokey Smother, and many others. He went on to found the famous blues band West Side Heat, and toured around the world for over a decade.Arvey has been visiting Costa Rica and playing along with Costa Rican band The Blind Pigs for about 20 years. He returns this week for a June 25 gig at the Hard Rock Café, during which Arvey and Dave Scott, backed by The Blind Pigs, will record their first album together, entitled “Ballads & Blues.” The other members of the Pigs include Carlos Dominguez & Greasy D on guitars, Franco Torterolo on bass, and Francisco “The Fats” Alvarado on drums.The Tico Times asked Arvey about his career, love for the blues and visits to Costa Rica. Excerpts follow.Why did you choose the blues?Actually, the blues chose me. When I was growing up in Chicago, we had a place called Maxwell Street where musicians would perform in the street while people would be selling items to the public. I heard the sounds of blues music, which just hit my heart and soul with an incredible feeling. I was hooked. I had to play this music. I started playing drums with John Henry Davis and we made money by passing a jar for tips. Eventually I ended up playing nightclubs with John and became a professional musician.What’s the special ingredient in your music?My main ingredient in my style is blues, then jazz. Both of these styles reflect in everything I play. Let’s say I play a Brazilian song live at a show – I end up putting a lot of blues feeling into that song and using jazz improvisation. [What I want to communicate] is a feeling with a message.How would you describe your feelings while playing your music onstage?First and foremost, I play for God. Then I perform for myself. I know people are in the audience and I am aware they are present. Those people want to see someone enjoying himself onstage.What do you think about Costa Rican blues artists and the industry here?Very good scene. Ticos and Ticas love the blues. I have been performing in your country for over 20 years, and I have met some great artists. I have been playing with the Pigs since 1995, and it is always fun. A great group of musicians. I’m also proud to say that José Ramirez is in the United States now and is touring with the Lauren Mitchell Band. He is one of the best blues guitar players I know, and Costa Rica should be very proud.What is the best part of being a musician?Peace. I was just in Cuba; as your readers know, both our governments have had a rocky relationship for the past 50 years. When I performed for people and jammed with musicians, we shared a common bond through music. Our musical styles were very different, as are our attitudes toward governmental approaches. But we shared music, and people saw that I am a man of peace and wants to bring the great feeling of music around the world.I will bop till I drop!Steve Arvey will perform with the blues band The Blind Pig at the Hard Rock Café, across the General Cañas Highway from Plaza Real Cariari, on Saturday, June 25 at 9:30 pm. For more information call the Hard Rock at 2239-2828.Read more “Weekend Arts Spotlight” interviews here.Our “Weekend Arts Spotlight” presents Sunday interviews with artists who are from, working in, or inspired by Costa Rica, ranging from writers and actors to dancers and musicians. Do you know of an artist we should consider, whether a long-time favorite or an up-and-comer? Email us at kstanley@ticotimes.net. Related posts:5 questions for a Costa Rican singer Meet Sarai González, the inspiring Tica in Bomba Estéreo’s “Soy Yo” video The Black side of the story: Afro-Costa Rican MC Huba Watson 5 questions for a Costa Rican aerialistlast_img read more

Arts and culture in brief the week ahead in Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica 10 reasons to check out the first-ever Coca Cola Fest Arts, culture and Mother’s Day: the week ahead in Costa Rica Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica While the full impact of Hurricane Otto is still less than certain at the time of this writing, and government offices and many other institutions plan to remain closed Friday, it does seem that in some parts of the country, cultural events this weekend will go ahead as scheduled.Lending a helping hand to those displaced or otherwise suffering from the impact of the hurricane will be at the top of many lists this weekend. If you’re looking to take further action on #Otto, check out the donation options listed here (end of article), particularly the Red Cross donation drive beginning today.The Sat Yoga Institute, a Costa Rican spiritual eco-community and wisdom school, is offering a public Arts, Culture and Spirituality Weekend at its facility in the mountains near Pérez Zeledón, in the Southern Zone. The institute’s research director, Shunyamurti, will lead activities including meditation, silent reflection and a variety of discussions, plus a staging of Anton Chekov’s “The Seagull” as the inspiration for the weekend (Saturday, November 25 – Sunday, November 27).As of this writing, it appears that the Kia Circuito Guanacaste de Surf 2017 PRO/AM this weekend at the Copa Witch’s Rock Surf Camp on Saturday and Sunday in Tamarindo has been postponed. We will update readers if we receive more information.Guns N’ Roses will play the National Stadium on Saturday night as part of their “Not in This Lifetime” tour, which reunites the band’s three founding members for the first time in 30 years. Tickets are still available if you can’t bear to miss Axl’s Costa Rican debut (Saturday, November 26).  Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Live blog Costa Ricas 2018 election results

first_imgAfter a volatile and uncertain election season and with a huge percentage of undecideds coming into the final stretch, we simply don’t know much about what is going to unfold tonight in Costa Rica – except that it’s gonna be interesting, folks. As soon as the polls close at 6 p.m., tune in here as we follow the evening’s developments with bated breath.11:24 pm: As Fabricio Alvarado gives his partway-to-victory speech, following that of his newly minted opponent, Carlos Alvarado, it is hard to believe how much this race changed in its final days. Fabricio – the candidates will have to pardon our use of their first names in what will be a very confusing two months to come – was sixth in the CIEP-UCR poll as recently as December, and surged to the lead following the Inter-American Human Rights Court’s ruling on gay marriage and his fierce opposition. Carlos was fifth in that same poll, and surged to second in the final days as those famously undecided voters made up their minds.There is much more to say, but for now we’ll say goodnight. We’ll all need our rest for what’s ahead in the next eight weeks before Round 2 takes place on Easter Sunday.9:48 pm: With 68.3 percent reporting, Fabricio Alvarado holds the lead at 25.2 percent, Carlos Alvarado looks increasingly solid at second with 21.1 percent, and Antonio Alvarez Desanti has 19 percent.If these tendencies hold, this could be seen as the definitive confirmation that Costa Rica’s traditional bipartisan structure is a thing of the past. It is also important to note that no matter what, the next president will not have a majority in the Legislative Assembly, and if a Renovation-PAC second round does take place, the next president will not even have the largest number of legislators (Liberation is in the lead in the legislature with 17 seats).9:20 pm: “It’s going to be a culture war election,” says political science professor Fabián Borges, looking ahead at the second round. “I guess Costa Rica is officially an advanced democracy where we fight over culture and identity more than the economy.” (This, at a time when the Costa Rican economy provides plenty to worry about, and that’s a huge understatement.)It’s hard to overestimate how ground-shaking this election will be if, after decades of bipartisan dominance alongside the Social Christian Unity Part (PUSC), the National Liberation Party (PLN) candidate, Antonio Alvarez Desanti, does not even come in second.Lots to unpack on the Legislative Assembly side: having such a sizable Restoration Party faction within the assembly will mark a significant shift. Meanwhile, the Citizen Action Party, while in second place at the moment on the presidential side, looks to decrease to only 9 seats, down from 13 in the period that will conclude in May.9:10 pm: With 45.7 percent of votes reported, here’s how it stands: 25.9 percent Fabricio Alvarado (National Restoration Party), Carlos Alvarado (Citizen Action Party) at 20.1 percent, Antonio Alvarez (National Liberation Party) at 19.5 percent. Meanwhile, the Assembly is lining up with 16 legislators for Liberation and a whopping 14 for evangelical National Restoration.We could be looking at an Alvarado-Alvarado runoff, but the night’s still young.Meanwhile, Juan Diego Castro, who for some time was the controversial front-runner, is conceding. Supporters of Costa Rica’s National Renovation Party react to the partial poll results for the presidential elections, in San José on Feb. 4, 2018. AFP Photo / Jorge Rendón8:50 pm: The second cutoff held a surprise. While Fabricio Alvarado held the lead, the Citizen Action Party’s Carlos Alvarado moves up within spitting distance of Liberation’s Alvarez (Liberation 19.9 percent, PAC 19.3 percent). A second round of voting is now guaranteed.Opponents of evangelical preacher Fabricio Alvarado around the country are left to wonder: would the charisma-challenged but socially conservative Alvarez Desanti be a stronger opponent against Alvarado, given that he comes closer to matching the preacher’s social conservatism? Or would an Alvarado vs. Alvarado matchup, in which the socially liberal Carlos Alvarado could energize a younger base, be a better bet?8:11 pm: The Supreme Elections Tribunal’s Sesión Solemne is getting underway with the singing of the National Anthem before TSE President Luis Antonio Sobrado presents the first batch of results. National Restoration Party presidential candidate Fabricio Alvarado has a significant lead at 26.7 percent of the vote, with 11.5 percent of voting tables reporting. National Liberation Party (PLN) candidate Antonio Alvarez Desanti is second with 22.6 percent, followed by Carlos Alvarado of the Citizen Action Party (PAC) with 16 percent.7:30 pm: As that first batch of data draws closer, we have a chance to reflect on some of the big questions these results may help us start to answer. Will this unusual election, when, as our columnist Alvaro Murillo has pointed out, a candidate’s party identity has become all but irrelevant, mark the end not only of the 20th century’s bipartisan system but also of remaining loyalty to the traditional National Liberation Party? Have national divisions been redrawn along the lines of social issues such as abortion and gay marriage?Will the chaotic campaign have driven voter turnout even further down (the abstention rate was 31.8 percent in 2014, one of the lowest turnouts in history), or will Fabricio Alvarado’s appeal to conservative voters – or opposition to his religious views – have energized his base or his opponents?Without any doubt, the biggest question of all is whether the approximately one-third of voters who were still undecided when the last opinion polls were conducted, turned out to vote or stayed home, and how they flipped. Stay tuned.6:29 pm: The polls are closed and the waiting game is on. Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) officials have announced they expect to have their first set of results for us at approximately 8 pm. Until then, we’ll be parsing available information about voter turnout, although our correspondents’ visits to voting centers around the country showed variations that seemed to befit this unpredictable election season. Some centers were jam-packed, while others were sluggish; Citizen Action Party (PAC) supporters predictably swarmed university neighborhoods, while we heard reports of massive movements of National Restoration Party voters in rural areas.Certainly one data point to watch in the coming hours is estimated voter turnout in rural and urban areas, although it’s a bit of a guessing game as to whom that will favor. The voting station in Cipreses de Curridabat, an eastern San José suburb, was packed at approximately 1 pm. Katherine Stanley / The Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:With flags and cheers, Costa Rica faces an uncertain future on Election Eve And they’re off! On sunny Election Day, Costa Rican voting heats up Why these Costa Rican women dressed as characters from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to vote todaycenter_img Is the wait driving you to climb the walls and comerse las uñas? Catch up on our election coverage here.This live blog is written by Tico Times Managing Editor Katherine Stanley Obando, with commentary and data from contributors including Assistant Editor Elizabeth Lang, political scientist and former Tico Times reporter Fabián Borges, and freelance contributors Verónica Ramos, Jonathan Jiménez, Gregory Calvo, Iva Alvarado, Gabriela Brenes, Carlos Andrés Madrigal, Augusto Bolaños, Francisco Cubillo and Juan Osorno.last_img read more

Official VA improperly spends 5 billion a year on health

first_img Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs is improperly spending at least $5 billion a year for medical care and supplies being purchased in violation of required practices for competitive bidding and written contracts, a senior VA official said Thursday.“Gross mismanagement” by senior agency leaders has wasted billions of dollars and made a “mockery” of federal laws regarding purchasing of goods and services, said Jan Frye, deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., chairman of the oversight panel, said “weak internal controls” at the VA have resulted in “serious violations of procurement laws,” mostly through a purchase-card program intended as a convenience for minor purchases of up to $3,000. Instead, VA employees have used the cards to buy billions of dollars’ worth of medical supplies and drugs without contracts.In one example cited by Frye, about $1.2 billion in prosthetics were bought using purchase cards without contracts during an 18-month period that ended last year.In all, VA has understated its annual acquisition totals by at least $5 billion in each of the past five years, “due to our inexcusable failure to acquire a substantial quantity of goods and services in accordance with federal laws and regulations,” Frye said.Coffman called that total “a truly staggering amount,” adding that the problem goes far beyond “paying a little more for needed supplies and services, as some apologists for VA have asserted.”Among other things, “purchase-card abuse invites cronyism and the directing of business to favored vendors, including those who may employ former VA officials,” Coffman said. In addition, buying drugs and medical supplies without proper contracts “imperils patient safety” and exposes VA to legal liability, Coffman said. Comments   Share   Four benefits of having a wireless security system Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Illegal purchases have been made for pharmaceutical drugs and medical supplies, putting veterans at risk and exposing the agency to widespread “fraud, waste and abuse,” Frye said.“I can state without reservation that VA has and continues to waste millions of dollars by paying excessive prices for goods and services due to breaches of federal laws,” Frye told the House Veterans Affairs subcommittee on oversight and investigations.VA Secretary Robert McDonald said in a statement Thursday that he appreciates the issues Frye brought to light. Frye first raised concerns in a 35-page memo to McDonald earlier this year.As Frye made clear in his March memo and in testimony Thursday, “there are many acquisition paths within the Veterans Health Administration” to provide health care for veterans, McDonald said. “It is important to note that the vast majority of the funding identified in the memo went to provide veterans needed care in the community” and was not wasted, McDonald said.McDonald said he has directed the VA’s inspector general to review Frye’s allegations. Any findings of wrongdoing or evidence of harm to veterans will be shared with the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution, McDonald said. Edward Murray, acting assistant secretary for management and the VA’s top financial officer, said the agency has more than 25,000 purchase cards that were used 6.1 million times to make $3.7 billion in purchases last year. The purchase cards help the VA acquire needed supplies and drugs more quickly than through usual government procedures, Murray said.Murray conceded that the program has “experienced challenges” but said the quicker delivery of prosthetics, hearing aids and other needed supplies outweigh those concerns. In response to concerns by Congress and the internal watchdogs, the VA reduced the number of purchase cards from 37,000 in 2011 to 25,515 last year, Murray said. About 23,000 VA employees use purchase cards.Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., called those totals “just enormous” and said they invited abuse. Rice, one of 10 children, said she and her siblings “never would have attended college” if her parents had given each child a credit card.The VA has tightened controls over use of the cards in recent years and instituted mandatory training, Murray said.___Follow Matthew Daly: https://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDCCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

In South Africa killer of antiapartheid leader gets parole

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A man convicted for the 1993 assassination of Chris Hani, a leading opponent of the white minority rule in South Africa at the time, was granted parole on Friday.Clive Derby-Lewis, who has cancer, was granted medical parole by Judge Selby Baqwa in a court in the South African capital, Pretoria, the justice ministry said.Derby-Lewis, now 79, has applied for parole several times in recent years. In January this year, Justice Minister Michael Masutha rejected Derby-Lewis’ application, saying he did not show any remorse. Comments   Share   Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img This time, the judge ruled in favor of parole instead of deferring the decision to the ministry because “time is of the essence,” said Mthunzi Mhaga, a justice ministry spokesman.Derby-Lewis could be released by next week, Mhaga said.More than 20 years ago, Derby Lewis and Polish immigrant Janusz Walus were sentenced to life in prison for the shooting of Hani. Hani was the leader of the South African Communist Party and head of the military wing of the African National Congress, the main anti-apartheid movement that became the ruling party in South Africa’s first all-race elections in 1994.Walus, who remains in jail, said after his arrest that he and Derby-Lewis, a proponent of white minority rule, hoped the assassination would plunge South Africa into chaos ahead of the elections. The murder sparked some rioting, but the elections proceeded.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Four benefits of having a wireless security system Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Islamic Stateclaimed car bombing kills 2 in Yemens capital

first_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall SANAA, Yemen (AP) — An Islamic State-claimed car bomb exploded outside a mosque in Yemen’s capital Saturday, killing at least two people and wounding six amid the country’s raging civil war, authorities said.The bomb targeted the Qabat al-Mahdi mosque in Sanaa’s old city, where Shiite rebels known as Houthis and others pray, security officials said. The Islamic State group claimed the attack on a Twitter account associated with the extremists, saying it targeted Shiite Houthis, who the Sunni extremists view as heretics. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The security officials, who gave the casualty figure, spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to brief journalists.This is the second Sanaa attack claimed by the Islamic State group’s affiliate in Yemen this week. On Wednesday, a series of Islamic State-claimed bombings in the capital killed at least four people and wounded 60.In March, just before a Saudi-led coalition began its airstrike campaign against the Houthis, the Islamic State affiliate in Yemen claimed responsibility for a series of suicide bombings in Sanaa targeting Shiites that killed at least 137 people and wounded 345.The Houthis seized control of Sanaa in September and continue their advance across the country despite the Saudi-led airstrikes. Yemen’s conflict pits the Houthis and their allies against an array of forces, including southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Sunni Islamic militants and loyalists of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.Yemen’s exiled government under Hadi and the Houthis have failed to come to terms on even a temporary cease-fire.Meanwhile Saturday, a Houthi border attack killed a Saudi soldier and wounded five in the southern Saudi region of Jizan, which shares a jagged mountain border area with Yemen, the Saudi military said. Since the Saudi-led airstrikes began, Houthis in Yemen frequently attack Saudi border guards with cross-border mortar fire. The vital role family plays in society Top Stories Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology 0 Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Also on Saturday, Saudi-led airstrikes hit Sanaa International Airport and a nearby air force base, and struck targets in Aden, Lahj, Jawf and Saada, Yemeni security officials said.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

Live your best life Register for tickets to the Oprah Winfrey show

first_imgDue to overwhelming demand, The Oprah Winfrey Show has announced plans to tape two shows on December 14 at the Sydney Opera House Forecourt. The reservation window for the release of tickets to these tapings will be open in Sydney from tomorrow (5 November) at 10 a.m. until November 7th at 3 p.m. Ticket requests will then enter into a random lottery and those who are chosen to attend an Oprah Winfrey Show taping will be informed on November 7th. The first morning taping is expected to be from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. while the evening taping will be from 3 p.m. until 7.p.m  To submit your ticket request you must first become an Oprah.com member: https://myown.oprah.com/register.html Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img read more

Government should aid Fiji tourism Outrigger chairman

first_imgTourism operators and the Fijian government need to work together to promote the South Pacific island nation according to Outrigger Enterprises Group Chairman Dr Richard Kelly. At the organisation’s tenth birthday celebrations in Fiji earlier this month, the Chairman declared the tourism industry cannot promote and market the island successfully without the aid of the government. “There are so many people who do not know about Fiji, even where it is in the world geographically, therefore it is essential that we place more emphasis on destination and brand marketing,” Dr Kelly said. “We need the help and partnership of the Fijian government.” Dr Kelly explained to attendees President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Minister for Tourism and Attorney General Ayaz Sayed Kaiyam, that Hawaii tourism makes up for 40 percent of the country’s economy and the Hawaiian government makes $4.70 for every dollar it invests in marketing. “That’s a return on investment of 370 percent,” Dr Kelly said. “In Fiji, travel and tourism accounts for an amazing 60 percent of the economy.” Dr Kelly also explained the positive impact of tourism to local communities. “Wages, salaries and tips earned at the resort are spent in local stores and for other local services, multiplying the impact and benefits of travel and tourism several times over.”“Local jobs are created, education improved, there is greater access to health care and taxes are generated.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Qatar Tourism Authority partners World Travel Awards for Grand Final i

first_imgWorld Travel Awards (WTA), “the Oscars of the travel industry”, will host its Grand Final Gala Ceremony in Doha, Qatar, in partnership with Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) on 11 January 2012.The most important decision-makers in global travel and tourism are set to attend the glittering ceremony, which will be staged at Katara Cultural Village, Qatar’s ground-breaking new arts and exhibitions complex.Created under the leadership of HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, Katara Cultural Village was born out of a vision to position the State of Qatar as an international cultural lighthouse through theatre, literature, art, music, conventions and exhibitions. Katara features a remarkable array of attractions, from an opera house and art galleries to world-class restaurants and a beach.Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) Chairman, Mr. Ahmed Al Nuaimi, said the choice of Doha to host WTA’s Grand Final reflects the country’s growing importance and stature in the industry and that QTA was lending as much support as possible to make the awards the best ever.“The staging of the ceremony in Doha is an illustration of the confidence the travel and tourism industry has in Qatar as well as the potential it has to develop further,” said Mr. Al. Nuaimi.“Qatar has allocated more the US$25 billion for the development of tourism infrastructure in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. WTA’s Grand Final forms part of our country’s growing roster of world-class events, ranging from art and music to sport and travel.”The evening marks the culmination of a year-long search for the very best travel and tourism brands in the world, and will feature the winners from WTA’s regional heats competing head to head.The regional ceremonies included Middle East (Dubai, UAE), Europe (Antalya, Turkey), Africa  and Indian Ocean (Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt), Asia and Australasia (Bangkok, Thailand), and Caribbean and The Americas (Montego Bay, Jamaica).Graham E. Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards, said: “We are delighted to host our Grand Final Gala Ceremony in Qatar as it is such an exciting place to be right now.”“Our Grand Final will see the winners of our five regional heats, who represent the cream of the global travel and tourism industry, compete head to head for the ultimate travel accolade.”WTA has partnered with tourism marketing firm Phenomena to bring the ceremony to Qatar. Source = World Travel Awardslast_img read more

Air Mauritius wins the Indian Oceans Leading Airline award at t

first_imgAir Mauritius won the distinction which is often referred to as the ‘Oscars of the travel industry’ last night. The World Travel Awards (WTA) rewards travel brands for their contributions made to the region’s travel sector over the last year. The award ceremony took place at the Intercontinental Hotel, Singapore in the presence of hundreds of key personalities and decision makers from the region’s top travel brands. Andre Viljoen, CEO Air Mauritius: “We are honoured to have received this accolade for the 8th consecutive year. Air Mauritius has consistently been the choice for half of Mauritius’s passenger traffic. I wish to thank our valued customers for choosing to fly with us and dedicate this award to Air Mauritius’s employees for their hard work. As excellence is a journey and not a destination, we will continue to be close to our customers’ needs and evolve our product and services in our constant pursuit of excellence.” Source = Air Mauritiuslast_img read more