Month: August 2019

Superheroes are among the first to ride Universals revamped rollercoaster

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first_imgTags: Theme Parks & Attractions, Universal Studios Superheroes are among the first to ride Universal’s revamped rollercoaster Tweet Travelweek Group Posted bycenter_img Tuesday, August 9, 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >> ORLANDO – Even superheroes need to hitch a ride on a rollercoaster every once in a while. Universal Orlando Resort recently celebrated the official reopening of its smash hit attraction, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.A bevvy of Marvel Super Heroes and a crowd of excited guests were the first official riders on the newly revamped coaster, which now features a brand new ride vehicle with a modern design, an all new onboard ride score exclusively produced by Patrick Stump, front moan for Fall Out Boy, and a completely redesigned queue that appears to guests as a high-tech, scientific facility. In addition, the revamped ride features an original storyline that places guests at the hands of General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross.The Incredible Hulk Coaster joins the growing list of new experiences at Universal Orlando. Recently, the park celebrated the opening of Skull Island: Reign of Kong, and welcomed guests to its fifth on-site hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.More news:  GLP Worldwide introduces first-ever Wellness programsTo book a vacation package go to UniversalTravelAgents.com.last_img read more

PEOPLE CruiseShipCenters agent wins trip to Hawaii with AstonAqua

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first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — After completing the Aston-Aqua Hospitality Specialist program at Travelweek’s Learning Centre, Yvette Leonard from CruiseShipCenters in West Vancouver has won a dream trip to Hawaii with accommodations provided by Aston-Aqua Hospitality.“I was super excited because I have never won a prize like this before – a whole week’s accommodation and in beautiful Hawaii. It is an amazing destination that I have always dreamed of going,” said Leonard.With the Specialist course, agents learned about Honolulu-based Aqua-Aston Hospitality’s robust portfolio of services and partnerships, and how it offers a wise selection of accommodations to suit any lifestyle, taste or budget. The company manages over 50 hotels, resorts and condominium properties comprising of nearly 10,000 units across popular destinations like Hawaii, Guam, Florida, Nevada and California.Aqua-Aston Hospitality’s five distinct brands include Aston Hotels & Resorts, Instinct Hotel Collection, Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Lite Hotels, and Maui Condo & Home.“The courses on Travelweek’s Learning Centre are always super easy to go through and the information provided is always current,” added Leonard. “They are not just your everyday page after page of endless reading, but interactive and fun. The graphics and maps are very helpful too.”More news:  Can you guess the top Instagrammed wedding locations in the world?For more information go to aqua-aston.com. To take a Specialist course, go to travelweeklearningcentre.com. Share Posted by Travelweek Group center_img Wednesday, February 1, 2017 [PEOPLE] CruiseShipCenters agent wins trip to Hawaii with Aston-Aqua Tags: Aqua-Aston Hospitality, People, Travelweek Learning Centrelast_img read more

Airbnb says revenue for Q3 2018 was best ever topping 1 billion

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first_img Monday, November 19, 2018 Posted by NEW YORK — Airbnb has reported its best quarter ever, even as cities across the U.S. have started clamping down on the short-term rental market.Revenue during the third quarter breezed past the US$1 billion level as guest reservations boomed internationally in places like Beijing, Mexico City and Birmingham, England, the San Francisco company said Friday.Airbnb expects a record one million guests to stay at Airbnb listings across the U.S. during the Thanksgiving holiday.Airbnb acts as an online booking agent for homeowners to make extra income by renting rooms, apartments and houses. Its growth has drawn the ire of the hotel industry and communities in the U.S. and abroad, where locals are uneasy with the constant turnaround of guests in their neighbourhoods and apartment buildings.In some markets, like New York and Miami, there is evidence that home-sharing has cut into hotel profits, pushing some larger chains to get in on the action. Last month Marriott said it was expanding its home-sharing pilot in London to three additional European cities, while Hyatt announced it was pulling out of a money-losing collaboration with luxury home-sharing company Oasis.More news:  A new low for no-frills flying: easyJet assigns backless seat to passengerMany cities and states across the U.S. have tightened rental guidelines in order to regulate the rapidly growing industry. New York and Washington have both imposed strict limits on short-term rental companies, and housing-starved San Francisco has done the same, in addition to suing or fining homeowners who illegally rent their homes.In Europe, officials in top travel destinations are grappling with the massive growth in home-sharing. Residents of Venice and Barcelona have staged repeated protests, saying the influx of visitors is driving up rents and forcing out locals. Parisians are complaining about the onslaught of tourists in their neighbourhoods and buildings, late-night parties and drunken revellers.Airbnb listings in Paris have grown to 65,000, from just 4,000 in 2012. << Previous PostNext Post >> Airbnb says revenue for Q3 2018 was best ever, topping $1 billion The Canadian Press Sharelast_img read more

Judge scandal tests Tico democracy

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first_imgCruz received a law degree from the University of Costa Rica, and a doctorate in law from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain. He began his extensive judicial career in 1972 as a minor crimes investigator, working his way up the ladder to chief public prosecutor, and ultimately, Sala IV justice, in 2004. According to José Manuel Arroyo, president of the Penal Branch of the Supreme Court, Cruz could rule on politically sensitive cases such as one involving a mining concession granted to Industrias Infinitos to develop the Crucitas gold mine in Cutris de San Carlos, in northern Costa Rica.“We [Sala IV justices] have been trying for a year to rule on the constitutionality issue involving the Crucitas case, and it strikes me that we haven’t been able to do that,” Cruz told the daily La Nación. “In the middle of this is my re-election and I can’t render my decision on the issue. That stands out to me; this has been going on for a year and now I won’t be able to rule.”Another case involves PLN presidential candidate Rodrigo Arias – brother of former two-term President Oscar Arias – and the management of funds from the Central American Bank of Economic Integration. Rodrigo Arias was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in the case, but the Sala IV likely will rule on appeals in the case.Then there’s Cruz’s past record. According to the daily La Nación, the justice held a dissenting position in the highly divisive case of the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement, which narrowly passed a public referendum in 2007.Cruz also ruled against the constitutionality of a fiscal reform plan, the failed centerpiece of the Chinchilla administration. He ruled against a lawsuit requesting an injunction by ex-President Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier (1990-1994), who sought to be conditionally released from jail during a corruption trial.Cruz, said Arroyo, “is a person with a very big social conscience, and he has ruled on a number of issues that libertarians don’t agree with.” “If what [lawmakers] want to do is fix what is wrong with the Sala IV, the democratic method for those who have the power to do so is to reform the constitution or the law that governs [the Sala IV], not make a  scapegoat out of someone who has angered political sectors with his decisions,” Arroyo said.Said Juan Carlos Mendoza, legislative leader of the Citizen Action Party: “What the PLN and its allies have done is deepen the [country’s] institutional crisis, and above all, continue discrediting the Legislative Assembly.” Hitting a snagThe political row over justice Cruz was so significant that Luis Fishman, who until this week served as legislative head of PUSC, quit his party in the Legislative Assembly (although he remains a member of the party outside the assembly). Fishman battled with fellow PUSC lawmakers who voted to prevent Cruz’s re-election. Not only did Fishman renounce his party in the assembly, he also fought to reinstate Cruz to a second term, filing a constitutional challenge to the same court where Cruz had been removed. Fishman’s Sala IV challenge – along with 10 other appeals – noted that lawmakers’ vote last week was unconstitutional, as the term to remove Cruz had expired in October. Article 158 of Costa Rica’s Constitution states that “Supreme Court judges shall be elected for eight years and will be considered re-elected for an equal term unless a vote of no less than two-thirds of the total members of the Legislative Assembly [38] agree otherwise.” Cruz’s eight-year term expired on Oct. 18, and the vote took place on Nov. 15. According to Fishman, Cruz should have been automatically re-elected in October. On Tuesday, assembly President Víctor Emilio Granados, of the Access Without Exclusion Party, agreed with Fishman’s analysis, annulling last week’s vote and ordering Cruz to be sworn in on Thursday.That never happened, as lawmakers fought back with an immediate 26-19 vote to override Granados’ annulment and ratify the Nov. 15 vote. The matter now goes to the same court whose members back Cruz – the Sala IV. A final ruling could take as long as 14 months, Cruz told Channel 7’s Telenoticias. Meanwhile, the court has ordered the legislative vote from last week to be suspended, pending a ruling.“Whatever the Sala IV’s ruling, … lawmakers and the country will have to accept it,” said lawmaker Fabio Molina, head of the PLN’s legislative bloc. Meanwhile, Chinchilla, who returned on Tuesday from an official visit to Spain and is already facing the lowest voter approval rating in the Americas, promised to meet with the presidents of the assembly and the Supreme Court in an attempt to ease the crisis.On Wednesday night, members of the judicial branch organized a candlelight vigil in the Plaza de la Justicia outside the court complex in downtown San José. Several prominent Costa Rican musicians performed in support of “Costa Rica’s tradition of democracy” and a separation of powers.Cruz, stoic, calm and unassuming throughout the week, maintained his faith in the judicial process and in the country’s democratic institutions, telling La Nación, “I’m taking all this with a sense of objectivity and serenity. These are the rules of the game, although, of course as always, politics go beyond the rules of the judicial game, and political acts require legitimacy. But the final word on that legitimacy is up to the press and public opinion.”Tico Times online editor L. Arias contributed to this story. Facebook Comments Outside of legal circles, the name Fernando Cruz likely didn’t ring a bell to most Costa Ricans until late last week. But the 63-year-old Supreme Court justice has found himself at the center of one of Costa Rica’s biggest political crises in recent memory.On Nov. 15, 38 lawmakers from various political parties voted to deny Cruz’s re-election to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, where he had served independently since 2004. According to the Costa Rican Constitution, Sala IV justices are elected to eight-year terms, and then automatically re-elected unless lawmakers vote by a two-thirds majority to remove them when their terms expire.This is what happened to Cruz, who became the first Sala IV justice to be blocked from serving a second term. The political backlash that resulted is showing serious cracks in the country’s democratic system, with members of the judicial branch rallying to defend Cruz and accusing members of the legislative and executive branches of upsetting the country’s democratic balance of power. Supreme Court President Luis Paulino Mora delivers a fiery speech in front of black mourning banner on Court. “The Legislative Assembly has taken a swipe at the Supreme Court,” said former Costa Rican President Luis Alberto Monge, who was outraged at the lawmakers’ vote. Monge, who served from 1982-1986, is one of Costa Rica’s heaviest political hitters, helping found the ruling National Liberation Party (PLN), which unanimously voted against Cruz. Monge also is the only living signatory of Costa Rica’s Constitution of 1949. Supreme Court President Luis Paulino Mora on Monday delivered an impassioned speech in defense of Cruz to a room filled with judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other employees of the judicial branch, all dressed in funeral black. Mora called Cruz “an independent, honest and respected judge recognized as one of the best jurists in the country.”“This is a clear threat to the independence of the judicial branch and against democracy itself,” Mora said. “It’s an excuse to find complacency in thought and action, in which the majority can do anything, especially to silence dissidence; in other words, to silence rich democratic diversity in the name of a badly understood or manipulated governance.” So why was Cruz removed? Lawmakers who voted in favor of blocking the justice’s re-election belong to several political parties, including Liberation, the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), the Libertarian Movement Party and Costa Rica’s two evangelical political parties. They deny a political conspiracy to remove the justice – which some supporters of Cruz allege was organized by President Laura Chinchilla’s administration, a charge the administration denies – each offering their own reasons for the vote, and some of them citing the public will for change at the Sala IV, which wields enormous judicial power over the country’s laws.  PLN lawmaker Siany Villalobos, who voted to block Cruz’s re-election, said she hoped to improve the Sala IV. She cited a recent poll concluding that seven of 10 Costa Ricans are unsatisfied with the court’s performance. According to Villalobos, the decision to “send a message” to the Sala IV coincided with the end of Cruz’s eight-year term.Libertarian Movement lawmaker Danilo Cubero said his vote against Cruz was not based on personal criteria, nor was it a plot, but rather, “our party simply did not support his re-election. We thought that eight years was enough.”PUSC lawmaker Walter Céspedes said, “I didn’t vote against a specific person; I voted to give a slap on the wrist to the judicial system, as a protest against the system.” Left-Leaning, independent juristOn the other side of the issue, Cruz’s supporters say lawmakers had plenty to gain from removing a thorn in their side.  No related posts.center_img Public defenders Yamura Valenciano and Maritza Aguilar join a vigil Wednesday night organized by the Supreme Court against a Legislative Assembly attempt to block Justice Fernando Cruz’s re-election. Alberto Font Alberto Fontlast_img read more

Costa Ricas Bryan Vásquez fails to unify boxing crown

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first_imgNo related posts. TOKYO – Japan’s Takashi Uchiyama pulled off a technical knockout victory over Costa Rica’s Bryan “Tiquito” Vásquez  to win a unification bout in the World Boxing Association (WBA) super-featherweight title on Monday.Uchiyama piled up the points by pummelling Vásquez with lefts and rights to the stomach, and finished off the fight three minutes into the eighth round, unloading punch after punch.“My opponent had never lost a match before and never suffered a knock down, so I really wanted to win the match in a good style,” said Uchiyama, 33.“This champion’s belt is just a formality. My top priority is to become stronger,” he added.It was Uchiyama’s sixth defence of the title, which he wrested from Juan Carlos Salgado of Mexico in January 2010, maintaining his unbeaten record at 19 wins, including 16 KOs and one draw.The 25-year-old Vásquez now has 29 wins, including 15 KOs and one defeat. He’s married to World Boxing Organization junior middleweight World Champion Hanna Gabriel Valle. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Regional business leaders Obama agree on need for better infrastructure and cheaper

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first_imgU.S. President Barack Obama wrapped up a two-day visit to Costa Rica on Saturday by talking business before taking off in Air Force One a few minutes after 12:30 p.m., bound for the United States.Obama’s last activity in Costa Rica was a meeting with Central American business leaders at the Antigua Aduana facilities in downtown San José, where he received a list of recommendations drafted during discussions on Friday and early Saturday. Those talks were organized by the Costa Rica-based INCAE Business School and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).Although no official agreements were signed, business leaders presented proposals including a priority request for the U.S. to support alternative energy initiatives to lower production costs for companies. “[Alternative] energy sources must be developed as part of a regional effort,” INCAE Rector Arturo Condo said. Condo served as moderator of the Saturday meeting, attended by Obama, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli and Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina. The region’s other presidents returned home on Friday night.Obama said his government “is willing to support these issues, along with the help of the Inter-American Development Bank.” He added that “an energy market would benefit the region’s economy, as it would free up resources that then can be invested in education.”Costa Rican Environment Minister René Castro told The Tico Times that one of the main strategies the U.S. government can implement to support clean energy projects in the region is “spreading the word to U.S. universities and research centers on the advances of our research to encourage investment.”Castro said Costa Rica currently is researching the use of hydrogen and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), but he noted that the research is still in its early stages, and collaboration from U.S. universities is crucial for the efforts to move forward. “If we can get appropiate help, the transition to hydrogen could start in 5-10 years,” Castro said. For LNG, “it could take up to 20-25 years,” he added.Tico astronaut and entrepreneur Franklin Chang agreed with Castro and stressed that “everything that is good is also hard to achieve,” referring to the use of new energy sources. “In some cases the technology already exists, but in others it is still under development. So, the participation of private, academic and scientific sectors is vital,” Chang said.A different focusObama said that Central American summits tend to heavily focus on security and immigration issues, and he had set out to emphasize trade and development opportunities during this week’s meetings.He also said that in coming months his administration would decide if the U.S. will begin exporting Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), a move that wouldn’t happen at least until 2020.Another popular proposal discussed Saturday was a request for help from the U.S. in building a gas pipeline that would extend across the isthmus and allow Central America to become more competitive by reducing energy costs.Lowering energy costs would “allow countries to establish an energy market to buy and sell energy,” business leaders noted in their list of recommendations.Chinchilla said buying LPG gas from the U.S. is a priority for the region, as it is one of the most viable options to reduce high energy costs.She and her colleagues also hope to study the creation of a regional electricity market, a project supported by the IDB. Recommendations also included improving infrastructure, adding investment and adopting better customs legislation to improve trade. Towards that end, business groups hope the U.S. will finance improvements to highways that connect the countries of the region, as well as programs for better technology at border facilities. Central American legislators also must improve trade laws to expedite customs procedures, the report added.Obama said he agreed with the recommendations, and that modernized legislation would make it easier to ship goods from any Central American country to the United States, instead of first transporting them through Central America. He also mentioned the need to improve access to education, including for children “0-5 years old.” Better schooling should start at birth and aim to keep students engaged until they are prepared for college, the U.S. president said. Chinchilla called Costa Rica a pioneer of educational improvements, including a national daycare program that was expanded under her administration, which took office in 2010.  Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

26 photos from Costa Ricas tremendous postvictory celebration in San José

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Crocodile attacks surfer in Tamarindo

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first_imgOn the first day of his surf trip in Tamarindo March 6, Montreal native Val Muscalu was waiting his turn for a wave when suddenly he was ripped off his board. Muscalu felt something strong clamp down on his left foot.He remembers kicking out and swimming backstroke to shore, but everything else is a blur. It was only later, on his way to the hospital, that Muscalu learned the identity of his underwater assailant: a crocodile.“I couldn’t tell what it was,” Muscalu told The Tico Times. “But that thing was strong enough to pull me off my board. I thought it was a shark, but people on the beach saw a crocodile swim back into the river.”Other surfers helped Muscalu wrap his rash guard around his foot and someone rushed him to a doctor.Long curvy scars and puncture wounds consistent with a croc bite now run along the left side of Muscalu’s foot. But by all accounts the surfer got off easy.Muscalo — a former member of the Canadian National Waterpolo team — was strong enough to tread water even while the crocodile tried to tug him under, and paddle his way to shore with a serious wound.Related: Costa Rica’s crocodile conundrum“There was damage up the tendon, but I thought it could be a lot worse,” Dr. Luis Diego Herrera, the doctor who treated Muscalu, told The Tico Times.“In this case it wasn’t really severe, but he was a very big and strong guy.”American crocodiles don’t usually attack humans. And most croc attacks that do occur aren’t fatal.But not everyone gets off as easy as Muscalu. Normally, crocodiles bite down on their prey and drag it underwater. The crocodile sank its teeth into the entire left side of Muscalu’s foot. (Courtesy of Val Muscalu)Muscalu’s attack follows a series of others in recent years. Last year a man was eaten alive while attempting a drunken swim in the croc-infested Tarcoles river.Several months later, a wildlife expert was mauled while giving a demonstration on proper crocodile relocation.Since 2013, there were five other reported attacks, including one — on a Spanish surfer in October 2013 — in the same spot where Muscalu was attacked. The surfer’s injuries were minor.There’s no way to confirm if the two attacks were by the same crocodile, but locals say that over the past few years they’ve spotted one particular croc leaving the nearby Playa Grande estuary to hunt.“In at least 22 years we have only had this one serious attack,” Urs Schmid, president of the Tamarindo Development Association, said of Muscalu’s encounter.“So this attack came as a big surprise. But we still realize that this is getting dangerous.”In response to the attack, the development association wrote a letter to the Environment Ministry (MINAE) asking for help with the crocodiles. The letter asked the ministry to repost the crocodile warning signs that used to be in the area but were stolen, and to begin studying the area’s crocodiles to determine which ones should be relocated.MINAE officials responded to the note Tuesday afternoon and will meet with the development association Thursday to form a plan.“At this point we think the only thing we can do is to remove them,” Schmid said. “There are a lot of surfers and small kids who play in the area.”The association’s complaint is not isolated. Last year, the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotel Owners wrote an open letter to MINAE asking for controls on the crocodile population.In the letter, the chamber’s president alleged that tourists were getting scared off by an increasing number of crocodiles on beaches and in other heavily-populated areas.Costa Rican law permits the relocation or euthanization of crocodiles in cases of overpopulation or, in rare cases, for safety.But crocodile experts say it’s often people, not crocodiles, who cause a problem.In Costa Rica, in particular, the prevalence of ecotourism and the habitual feeding of crocs by tour operators has made the animals accustomed to people. Schmid said feeding crocs has been a problem in Tamarindo.“I’ve seen some of the river guides do it in the past, as well as some restaurants,” Schmid said.He said he wanted MINAE to train the local guides to stop feeding crocs.Besides removing problem crocodiles, Schmid said his group hopes to come up with other ways to prevent attacks.Locals have noted that the crocodile who leaves the river mouth usually does so in the early morning or late afternoon when there are more fish in the area. If MINAE studies are able to confirm that the crocodile only hunts at certain times, the solution may be as simple as asking surfers to keep away from the estuary during certain times of the day.Despite Muscalu’s scare, the Canadian said he won’t give up on surfing in Costa Rica. Once he heals, he wants to return and get back in the water — but not near an estuary and not in the late afternoon or early morning.“It could have been so much worse,” Muscalu said. “If one of those pulls you under, you’re finished.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Crocodile warning signs in Costa Rica have decreased bad encounters with tourists, Environment Ministry reports Tamarindo crocodile suspected of attacking surfer will not be relocated Unidentified man devoured by crocodiles after jumping from a bridge over the Tárcoles River, Red Cross says Human head found in Costa Rica river likely belongs to Nicaraguan man attacked by crocodileslast_img read more

San José streets empty for Semana Santa

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first_imgRelated posts:African, Cuban migrant children in limbo at Panama-Costa Rica border PHOTOS: Guanacaste celebrates 192 years of being part of Costa Rica Guanacaste airport expansion set to begin in January Video of President Solís swallowing a wasp continues to circle the globe The usually jam-packed Avenida Segunda sits empty on Good Friday. It may not be the beach, but as Central Valley residents spill out of the city for Semana Santa, San José becomes a quiet paradise. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Fire at Venezuela refinery lightning blamed

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first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img “This fire is controlled,” Ramirez said on television at the refinery, where the tank was in flames behind him. “We’re putting it out.”An investigation into the cause will be conducted, but all indications are that it was sparked by a strong electrical storm, Ramirez said.“We suppose a lightning bolt hit one of our tanks and the fire broke out,” he said.The refinery produces fuel for the domestic market. But the blaze won’t lead to any shortages of fuel in the country, said Asdrubal Chavez, vice president of refining for the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA.A much larger fire was sparked by a powerful blast last month at the Amuay refinery that killed at least 42 people, the country’s worst-ever refinery disaster. The causes of that accident are under investigation.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – A fire that broke out at a Venezuelan oil refinery was apparently caused by a lightning strike, the country’s top oil official said Thursday.Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said the fire began on Wednesday night, engulfing two fuel tanks at the El Palito refinery in Carabobo state. He said on state television that no one was hurt.About 120 firefighters were working to put out the blaze and had quickly extinguished one of the tanks, Ramirez said. Another tank was still in flames, sending up black smoke on Thursday morning. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Macedonia Minority marks Albanian independence

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first_img Top Stories The anniversary celebrations in Macedonia’s capital are scheduled to last for four days, and similar festivities will take place later this week in the capitals of Kosovo and Albania.Ethnic Albanians make up about 25 percent of Macedonia’s population of 2.1 million, but tension with the country’s Slavic-speaking Macedonian majority has remained high since a six-month armed ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001 to demand greater autonomy in minority areas.For nearly five centuries, Albania was at the heart of a sprawling Ottoman Empire, but it declared independence in 1912, and is now a parliamentary democracy and member of the United Nations and NATO.In Skopje, Macedonia’s capital, thousands of Albanian national flags _ a black double-headed eagle on a red background _ were on display Sunday there and in minority areas of northern and western Macedonia. Divers even placed the flag at the bottom of Lake Ohrid, which straddles Macedonia and Albania.“This is really an exaggeration” auto-mechanic Jovan Krstevski, 49, of Skopje told The Associated Press, as ethnic Albanians marched there. “I have nothing against any flag or celebrations, but placing such huge flags in such a manner and with such noise is nothing but dramatizing the event and has nothing to do with a tribute. Just the opposite, only to demonstrate the (minority’s) power and to provoke their fellow Macedonians.” Associated PressSKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) – More than 1,000 ethnic Albanians marched in the capital of Macedonia on Sunday to mark the 100th anniversary of Albania’s independence from the Ottoman Empire. Some politicians have opposed such celebrations, saying they could stoke ethnic tensions in Macedonia.The prime ministers of neighboring Albania and Kosovo, Sali Berisha and Hashim Thaci, were expected to attend the celebrations later Sunday at Skopje’s sports center. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The opposition Social Democrats earlier described a decision by the Macedonian government to join Albania’s independence celebrations as a “political provocation.”Conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has the country’s largest ethnic Albanian party, the DUI, in his coalition government. The DUI is led by Ali Ahmeti.“We ask whether Gruevski and Ahmeti are aware that their irresponsible behavior and harmful policies will cause fresh ethnic tension and undermine the rule of law?” deputy Social Democrat leader Gordan Georgiev said recently.Even Gruevski allies have publicly argued that the Albanian celebrations are part of a minority drive toward creating a largely autonomous state _ a notion dismissed by Ahmeti.Stojance Angelov _ leader of Dignity, an association of Macedonian veterans of the 2001 ethnic conflict _ said such a move would be unfair and damaging to Macedonia.In an interview with Channel Five TV, Ahmeti said, “Raising the Albanian national flag is not a demonstration of power, but part of a great date for us Albanians and … should not be seen as a provocation to the Macedonians.”He said, “We do not have any pretensions to dividing Macedonia because Macedonia is our country, Macedonia is our homeland. Our ancestors were here, our future is here and we need to build our future together.” The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   center_img 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Relations between the two main coalition partners have, however, soured in recent weeks after the country’s ethnic Albanian defense minister paid tribute to the insurgents of 2001. Gruevski responded by presenting draft legislation to grant pensions to former government soldiers who fought in the ethnic conflict _ but not to rebel veterans.Two recent incidents in neighboring Albania also have raised tensions in Macedonia.Macedonian national flags were set on fire in Tirana, the capital of Albania, and eggs were thrown at a car carrying Gruevski as the Macedonian prime minister visited Tirana.Macedonia’s government complained about both incidents, and the Albanian foreign ministry condemned them.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Kenya Supreme Court Election was not perfect

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first_imgNAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Kenya’s Supreme Court on Tuesday said the execution of the nation’s March presidential election wasn’t perfect but that petitions to overturn the result did not prove President Uhuru Kenyatta was illegally elected.The court had announced its unanimous ruling upholding Kenyatta’s election in late March but on Tuesday released its 113-page written decision. The ruling said that petitions by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and civil rights activist Gladwell Otieno do not disclose “any profound irregularity in the management of the electoral process.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Kenyatta beat seven other presidential candidates with 50.07 percent of the vote. That slim margin over the needed 50 percent was challenged by Odinga _ who got 43 percent _ and civil society groups that complained of anomalies in the voting process.No major anomalies were found between the total number of registered voters and the total tally in the declaration of presidential election results, the court said.“Although, as we find, there were many irregularities in the data and information-capture during the registration process they were not so substantial as to affect the credibility of the electoral process,” the ruling said.Kenya held a largely peaceful election process, avoiding a repeat of the chaos that rocked the country following the flawed 2007 presidential election, when more than 1,000 people died in violent attacks.But the March 4 election did not go smoothly. An electronic voter ID system intended to prevent fraud failed for reasons yet to be explained by the electoral commission. Vote officials instead used manual voter rolls.After the polls closed, results were to be sent electronically to Nairobi, where officials would quickly tabulate a preliminary vote count in order to maximize transparency in light of the rigging allegations that dogged the 2007 vote. But that system failed, too. Election officials have indicated that computer servers overloaded but haven’t fully explained the problem. Four benefits of having a wireless security system Sponsored Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments   Share   Odinga’s lawyers had argued that the switch from electronic voter identification to manual voter roll was stage-managed to allow inflation of Kenyatta’s votes to take him past the 50 percent threshold. The Supreme Court said Kenya’s electoral commission had no choice but to turn to the manual registers, though it had major weaknesses.The court recommended an investigation into the acquisition of the computer systems that failed during the voting process. The court said there was questionable conduct by members of the electoral commission during the acquisition of the systems, and that prosecution of the suspects could be in order.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Britains UKIP drops candidate for saying hed shoot rival

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first_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes LONDON (AP) — Britain’s political leaders visited factories, farms, supermarkets and schools Wednesday on the final day of campaigning before an election predicted to be excruciatingly close and frustratingly indecisive.The election race drew to a bumpy close for the U.K. Independence Party, which suspended a candidate for making remarks about shooting his Conservative opponent in the head.Robert Blay, who was running in the southern English seat of North East Hampshire, was recorded by an undercover reporter saying of Conservative candidate Ranil Jayawardena that he would “put a bullet between his eyes” if Jayawardena became prime minister. A member of the public walks past a betting shop window with a display for the General Election in Govan, Scotland, Wednesday, May 6, 2015. Britain goes to the polls in a General Election Thursday. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell) Sponsored Stories The Daily Mirror ran footage of Blay making the comments and saying Jayawardena, who has Sri Lankan heritage, was “not British enough to be in our Parliament.”“We’ve suspended him immediately, which is the right thing to do, and we do have a history of getting rid of people when they do something wrong very quickly indeed,” said UKIP deputy chief Paul Nuttall.Hampshire police said they were reviewing the comments as part of “initial inquiries” but added that no one had been arrested.It is the latest in a string of embarrassing comments by members of UKIP, which has seen support grow for its anti-European Union stance and hopes to win a handful of seats on Thursday.Small parties could play a major role in determining who governs Britain after an election that polls suggest is too close to call. Neither the Conservatives nor Labour look likely to win a majority of House of Commons seats, and their poll ratings have barely shifted during the monthlong campaign, with each supported by about a third of voters.Both big parties, however, insisted they were aiming for outright victory. Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged he was “nervous” about the result, but said he hadn’t spent time planning for postelection talks with prospective coalition partners. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonalast_img read more

Analysis Republican budget claims dont add up

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first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   ___EDITOR’S NOTE: David Espo is AP’s chief congressional correspondent.An AP News AnalysisCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. FILE – In this Jan. 14, 2014 file photo, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., leaves a closed-door GOP caucus luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington. On paper and in speeches, Republicans boast that Congress’ first budget since they won control of the Senate and House last fall will eliminate red ink within a decade. Actually, it will do nothing of the sort.That’s because the budget itself is non-binding, and on its own, has no effect on spending. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File ) Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice How men can have a healthy 2019 That, too, would stand as something of an accomplishment for Republicans, since it would mark the first time they have succeeded in sending Obama legislation to repeal the law.In previous years, Senate Democrats blocked dozens of House GOP attempts to wipe out or neutralize the law, but they are in the minority now.The repeal measure that Republicans intend to pass will produce a pitched battle with Democrats and a veto from the president. With savings of roughly $2 trillion over a decade, it won’t come close to balancing the budget. In purely political terms, though, it will please conservatives who helped put the GOP in power last fall without risking voter anger at the polls.Repeal of the health care law is estimated to save about $2 trillion, less than half of the amount needed to erase deficits over a decade.In addition, the original House budget blueprint recommended cuts in Medicaid and other health programs of about $1 trillion over a decade, and savings from benefit programs like food stamps of another $1 trillion. It also envisioned an intensely controversial overhaul of Medicare for the future.Senate Republicans, whose majority could be sternly tested at the polls in 2016, have been particularly unwilling to disclose any long-term blueprint for cutting spending. Parents, stop beating yourself upcenter_img Top Stories WASHINGTON (AP) — On paper and in speeches, Republicans boast that Congress’ first budget since they won control of the Senate and House last fall will eliminate red ink within a decade.Actually, it will do nothing of the sort.That’s because the budget itself is nonbinding and, on its own, has no effect on spending.And also because Republicans have decided against using unique budget rules for follow-up legislation to save the trillions of dollars from food stamps, Medicaid and other benefit programs that would be needed to erase red ink. To do that would spark a pitched political battle with Democrats, a veto from President Barack Obama — and a possible backlash from the voters in 2016. Overall the Republican spending plan charts a far different course that the one pursued by Democrats, who treated budget-drafting as optional when they held the Senate majority in recent years and show less interest in deficit control.It will curtail spending on programs that are funded on a yearly basis, by about one-tenth of the $5 trillion needed to balance the budget over the next 10 years. Democrats and the White House are sure to contest those bills.But it generally will leave alone the large benefit programs where far greater savings are needed if deficits are to end.The shortfall is projected to total $468 billion for the current budget year, the lowest since Obama took office.Instead of pursuing elimination of red ink, Republicans intend to use special budget rules to pass legislation repealing the health care law known as Obamacare, or whatever part of it might remain standing after a widely anticipated Supreme Court ruling later this summer.That is the “sole purpose” of any reconciliation legislation that will be passed as a follow-up, the agreement says, using the budget-speak label for a bill debated under rules that bar a Senate minority from preventing a final vote. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Republican veterans and newcomers alike made no mention of this political truth in praising their own handiwork in recent days as the blueprint was ratified on party-line votes in both houses.“This balanced budget achieves real results and allows the federal government to support Americans when it must and get out of the way when it should,” said Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee.“Today I was pleased to vote for a budget that will curb out-of-control spending, ensure a strong national defense, protect Social Security, strengthen Medicare, all without raising taxes on hardworking Alaskans,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan, a first-term lawmaker from Alaska.House Speaker John Boehner’s office listed 10 ways the budget will help taxpayers, including “balancing the budget without raising taxes to help create 1.2 million new jobs, save taxpayers more than $5 trillion and protect future generations from crushing debt.”In a brief burst of candor, Republican negotiators who put together the final House-Senate compromise were more restrained. They called their work a “statement of good faith to the American people that Congress can govern responsibly and effectively.”last_img read more

Syrian official says situation in Palmyra under control

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first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A Syrian official said Sunday that the situation is “fully under control” in Palmyra despite breaches by Islamic State militants who pushed into the historic town a day earlier.Syrian opposition activists also confirmed that militants withdrew from a government building and other areas they had seized Saturday in the northern part of the town as clashes continued.Palmyra is home to one of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Middle East, renowned for its Roman-era colonnades and 2,000-year-old ruins. The militants entered from the north and have not reached the ruins southwest of Palmyra. Islamic State militants have destroyed and looted archaeological sites in Iraq and Syria. The group’s advance on Palmyra has sparked alarm in the region and beyond.Gov. Talal Barazi of Homs province said Syrian troops recaptured two hills from the militants late Saturday. He told The Associated Press that army reinforcements have been sent to shore up existing troops.“Palmyra is safe and the road linking Homs with Palmyra is absolutely safe,” he later told the state-run news agency SANA. The agency said the army inflicted heavy losses on militants in the Islamic State-held villages of Sukhneh and Arak northeast of Palmyra.The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 295 people have been killed since the Islamic State group launched its assault around Sukhneh and Palmyra five days ago. The dead include at least 123 soldiers and allied militiamen, 115 Islamic State members and 57 civilians killed in the clashes or later killed by Islamic State militants, the Observatory said. It was not immediately possible to corroborate the Observatory’s account.An opposition media collective for Palmyra said life inside the town was normal and stores and businesses were gradually reopening. Clashes continued in surrounding areas. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The fall of Palmyra to Islamic State militants would be an enormous blow for embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, not only because of its cultural significance but also because it would open the road to Homs and the capital, Damascus.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Men’s health affects baby’s health toolast_img read more

Slaves who died in 1794 Cape Town shipwreck are remembered

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first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility More than 400 African slaves were on board the vessel when it sank in bad weather and rough seas, according to Iziko Museums, a group based in Cape Town. About half the people on the ship perished, though the captain and crew survived.This year, divers recovered artifacts from the ship, including shackle remnants, iron ballast and copper fastenings that held the ship together. Some items will be loaned to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is currently under construction in Washington and which worked with Iziko Museums on the project.“This is a place of beauty, of pleasure and also of pain,” Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the museum, said in Sachs’ home. “For us, this is an amazing moment to bring history alive, to make sure those souls are no longer lost.”Officials have known the site of the wreck for many years. Research in archives in Portugal, Mozambique and South Africa helped confirm that it was a slave ship.The wrecks of ships previously used to transport slaves and later refitted had been discovered in the past, but it is unique to find the remains of a ship that was active in the slave trade when it sank, according to researchers. The vital role family plays in society 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Against a backdrop of exclusive, sea-view apartments in Cape Town, South African and American researchers on Tuesday paid tribute at the spot where slaves died when the Portuguese ship that was carrying them into bondage sank in 1794.Three divers, deterred by rain and wind that evoked the stormy conditions that wrecked the Sao Jose–Paquete de Africa slave ship, ventured a few feet (meters) into the surf of the Clifton suburb’s beach to scatter sand from Mozambique in honor of the doomed slaves, who were being transported from the former Portuguese colony. The divers hugged each other and one shed tears.center_img Comments   Share   The memorial was the culmination of years of digging in historical archives and into the sea floor, casting new light on the century-spanning, Atlantic slave trade, in which millions from Africa were sent to labor in the Americas at the height of European colonialism.The submerged remnants of the Sao Jose, which was starting a grueling journey to Brazil that would have lasted months and traversed thousands of kilometers (miles), are located near one of Cape Town’s most scenic beaches, in a country that emerged from white minority rule in 1994.“It’s there and it happened, right in this spot of paradise,” said Albie Sachs, a former judge and anti-apartheid activist who opened his Clifton home to researchers, diplomats and journalists who attended the ceremony. “We have to look history in the face.”Sachs, who lost an arm and sight in one eye in a 1980s bombing in Mozambique by apartheid agents, said a legacy oppression is in the “sinews” of Cape Town, a popular tourist destination in a postcard setting at the southern end of Africa.The wide windows and balcony of his home, reached by stone steps cut into a slope, overlook the area where the Sao Jose broke into pieces. Far above looms Lion’s Head, a peak that draws many hikers. Men’s health affects baby’s health too Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Standing on the beach, an American researcher surveyed the bay.Stephen Lubkemann, associate professor of anthropology, Africana studies and international affairs at George Washington University, said the cold, churning conditions were treacherous and that “diving here is like diving in a washing machine.”The Sao Jose ran into trouble around 2 a.m. in December 1794, and the captain later recorded that “‘our final solution was to crash disastrously upon the rocks,’” according to Lubkemann.The slaves who survived, he said, were sold at auctions in the Cape Town area.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

Officials Roadside bomb wounds 18 Egypt police conscripts

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first_imgCAIRO (AP) — A roadside bombing in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula wounded 18 police conscripts Sunday, security officials said.The officials said the blast targeted a bus carrying the conscripts in el-Arish as they traveled along a seafront road in the early morning.Hospital officials confirmed the casualty figure and said none of those hurt had life-threatening wounds.The Egyptian Islamic State affiliate, which calls itself the militant group’s Sinai Province, claimed responsibility for the attack. The claim, in a statement posted on Twitter accounts of the group’s supporters, could not be independently verified. Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Four benefits of having a wireless security systemcenter_img Security officials also said attacks on three separate checkpoints later in the day injured three military conscripts.In one of the checkpoint attacks, militants damaged two vehicles belonging to peacekeeping forces, the officials said. They added that no peacekeepers were injured in the attack south of Rafah.All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to discuss the attacks with journalists.Sinai-based militants have launched increasingly sophisticated attacks in recent months that have killed dozens of Egyptian soldiers and police. The latest wave of violence began after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi two years ago.Government forces have been carrying out an intensified hunt for Islamic militants in several northern Sinai towns. But in el-Arish, a more-densely populated area, government forces are more vulnerable to roadside bombs — which have become a recurrent weapon used against troops.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

Visitors in and out of Aus up on last year

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first_imgShort term visitors arriving to Australia increased by 2.4 percent while short term resident departures from the country grew by 4.9 percent for July this year compared to the same period last year.According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, arrivals were slightly lower than June 2012 figures but July saw the highest increase in short term arrivals from China (13.9 percent) followed by Singapore (9.3 percent) and Japan by (7 percent).Arrivals from Korea experienced the highest decrease, down 6.1 percent.Short term departures from Australia increased to Thailand (15.7 percent) followed by Malaysia (9.3 percent), China (8.6 percent), Singapore (6.8 percent), Indonesia (2.3 percent) and the USA by just 0.6 percent. Figures showed less people travelled to the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, New Zealand and Fiji.Statistics on overseas arrivals and departures relate to the number of movements of travellers rather than the number of travellers. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.Wlast_img read more

Change on the horizon for Air Serbia

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first_imgSerbian graphic design student, TamaraMaksimovic, selected to rebrand Air Serbia’snew look.Image: Etihad Airways The rebranding of Serbia’s national airline to Air Serbia, complete with new logo and colour scheme, has given the airline not only a fresh new look, but a whole new identity as part of its 86 year history.Driving the change is Etihad Airways, who recently announced they are about to acquire 49 per cent of Air Serbia, formerly known as Jat Airways, under a five-year management contract.In announcing the change, Etihad president and chief executive officer James Hogan said the rebranding signalled the arrival of an all-new airline along with new opportunities for Serbia. The change, which is not only important for the Serbian economy but also signifies national pride, representing the Serbian people’s heritage and national identity, Mr Hogan added.“The new brand will take the Serbian name and it’s red, white and blue colour scheme from Belgrade to the world,” Air Serbia chief executive officer Dane Kondic said.The rebranding, designed by 25-year-old Serbian graphic design student, Tamara Maksimovic, will ultimately cover every part of the airline, from aircraft exteriors to cabin crew uniforms, ticket offices, boarding passes and advertising.The airline engaged Ms Maksimovic to design the new branding for Air Serbia, upon discovering her work on a graphic design website.“The Jat Airways design came from the former Yugoslavia,” Ms. Maksimovic said. “I wanted to refresh it and make it Serbian… Seeing the design now – I’m super proud of it.”Meanwhile, Etihad Airways has partnered with the Serbian Government, in a move that will enhance trade and investment relations between the United Arab Emirates and Serbia as well as boosting the tourism sector in both countries.“Etihad Airways’ reputation, financial strength and stability will be of significant benefit to Air Serbia and travellers will soon experience an incredible range of new products and services,” Serbian Government Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said.With a financial investment of USD$40 million to come from both Etihad Airways and Government of Serbia, the partnership will consolidate and aim to enhance both airlines’ market competitiveness as the relationship grows over the coming months.Source = ETB News; LBlast_img read more

Cathay Pacific boosts Sydney capacity with new 777

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first_imgCathay Pacific will add up to 580 extra seats between Sydney and Hong Kong and around 1370 by February 2015 with the delivery of a new Boeing 777-300ER.The new plane will operate between Sydney and Hong Kong three times per week from December and daily from February next year.It will replace the current A330-300 three times per week service currently operating between Sydney and Hong Kong.Cathay Pacific regional general manager Nelson Chin said that the increased service will respond to customer demand.“We’ve seen very high passenger numbers throughout Australia and on our Sydney flights in particular this year and are therefore responding to the very solid demand by increasing capacity on a key flight,” Mr Chin said.The additional capacity follows other increases in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Cairns.Source = ETB News: Tom Nealelast_img read more