Sunquest’s non-commissionable fees now part of base price Tags: Commission, Sunquest Tuesday, September 20, 2016 Share Travelweek Group Posted by MISSISSAUGA — Effective immediately Sunquest says it will no longer include the non-commissionable fees – i.e. the ‘surcharge’ – in the total taxes of its packages.Under the new pricing model, the fees will now be included in the base price of the package and will be fully commissionable. The only non-commissionable portion will be the taxes and fees charged by end suppliers such as airlines. The commission rate remains unchanged at 8%.“We know this is a high priority item for our valued travel agency partners. We have listened to them and have made these changes accordingly,” said TravelBrands CEO Frank Demarinis.With the new pricing system agents will see a commission increase of about $40 per booking per couple.In an industry conference call TravelBrands Executive VP Bryan Klompas acknowledged that agencies “are working harder than ever” and said the TravelBrands has a strong commitment to the retail trade. The move came after repeated requests from travel agent partners.More news: War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upA FAQ explaining the new pricing structure can be found on travelbrandsagent.com, or contact your TravelBrands BDM for more information.Since the news broke on Monday afternoon, agents have shown strong support on Facebook with 25 likes and comments:Let us know in the Facebook comments what you think. << Previous PostNext Post >>
Share Tags: WestJet Travelweek Group CALGARY — WestJet’s new WestJet Agent is a new version of TA Web, developed using feedback from the travel trade.WestJet Agent offers new features that travel agents asked for, like the ability to make multi-city and open-jaw bookings, says Jane Clementino, WestJet Director of Agency Sales.“Our travel trade partners shared some great suggestions for how to improve TA Web, and we listened.”Clementino says WestJet is “dedicated to supporting the travel agent community and our travel partners. We will continue to invest in technologies and resources that make their job easier so they can focus on providing an unforgettable travel experience for their clients.”WestJet Agent features include:Multi-city and open-jaw bookingsA 30-day calendar view that displays the lowest faresThe ability to add more than one email address to the bookingUser-friendly features like a dynamic progress bar and search fields that autofillSee westjet.com/agent. Friday, March 24, 2017 Posted by Multi-city bookings and more with re-launched WestJet Agent << Previous PostNext Post >>
“We have seen double-digit growth year-over-year”: Denise Harper, G Adventures By: Jill Wykes, The Travel Agent Next Door Tags: G Adventures, Sphere, The Travel Agent Next Door Tuesday, October 17, 2017 The Travel Agent Next Door limits its number of preferred suppliers and focuses its agents on selling those suppliers. The host agency interviewed several suppliers, including Denise Harper, Director of Sales, Canada for G Adventures, to see how this strategy is working for them.Denise Harper, Director of Sales, Canada for G Adventures1. The Travel Agent Next Door is very focused on its preferred suppliers and has a limited the number, making it more lucrative for its agents to support them. Have they got it right? How is this strategy working for you?Harper: “Their strategy to have a limited number of preferred suppliers works extremely well for G Adventures. There is a strong focus on the mutual success of both businesses. We have monthly calls with the leadership team to review sales and to discuss strategies, marketing and training opportunities. They also have a SME program where 20 agents are chosen to focus on growing sales with a particular supplier.“The agents who work with G Adventures are passionate about adventure travel and are keen to offer their clientele something different to the traditional ITC package. We have seen double-digit growth year-over-year because of the focus and specialization strategy. Being the only adventure travel tour operator allows G Adventures to be creative and innovative versus reactive and commoditized.”2. Part of the preferred supplier strategy is enhanced training opportunities. Is this something that your company is taking advantage of? Do you see results?Harper: “Absolutely. We participate in monthly webinars, create ongoing specialized training videos and deliver one-on-one sessions to better understand the agents’ individual requirements and how we can help build their business. We help agents overcome challenges and support them in closing the sale for their prospective adventure clientele.“G Adventures has a virtual library full of resources for the agents like destination videos, marketing collateral and flyers which can all be customized to the agency and shared with the traveller. We also support the agent with our online booking tool, Sherpa, which helps agents save time and is accessible 24/7.”3. Another opportunity is marketing. How is this working for you?Harper: “Co-op marketing is a great way for us to get in front of their agents. Whether we are doing a promo or incentive, the in-house team makes sure our messages are communicated effectively across their channels. Also, as we are a preferred supplier, our message is never diluted by having another adventure supplier listed. To be part of their agent marketing gives us eyeballs on where the agents are paying attention. We also market directly to the agents, reinforcing messages directly from G Adventures.”4. Are there any other benefits of working with The Travel Agent Next Door that you’d care to mention?Harper: “Investment from all levels of the organization including the president himself – Flemming Friisdahl. Marketing, supplier relations and operations are all extremely dedicated to the partnership. Flemming and his leadership team attend all our monthly meetings with a focus on building the business together. There is a true sense of partnership with this organization. Real personal investment.” Share << Previous PostNext Post >> About Latest Posts Jill WykesJill Wykes is a travel industry veteran who has held a series of senior management portfolios in travel corporations. A former chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, she is now an independent communications consultant and writer since retiring in 2011. Latest posts by Jill Wykes (see all) Dispelling the myths against going home-based – May 22, 2019 Diversity pays off when agents go home-based: Survey – April 10, 2019 National Travel Agent survey suggests many agents considering going home-based – March 13, 2019
No related posts. JOHANNESBURG — Former South African leader Nelson Mandela, who died in Johannesburg Thursday at the age of 95, will be buried on Dec. 15 in his rural home village of Qunu, following a period of national mourning.Mandela’s body will lie in state from Dec. 11 to Dec. 13 at the government’s executive headquarters in the Union Buildings in the capital, Pretoria, President Jacob Zuma told reporters Friday. A memorial service will be held at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Dec. 10.Mandela, widely known by his clan name Madiba, became the South Africa’s first black president in 1994, leading the nation out of racial discord by encouraging reconciliation. He had been ill for about a year and spent several stints in the hospital to be treated for a lung infection. He died peacefully at his Johannesburg home at 8:50 p.m. local time Thursday surrounded by his family, Zuma said.“We will spend the week mourning his passing,” Zuma said. “We will also spend it celebrating a life well lived, a life that we must emulate for the betterment of our country. We always loved Madiba for teaching us that it was possible to overcome hatred and anger in order to build a new nation and a new society.”Zuma declared Dec. 8 as a national day of prayer and reflection. Memorial services will be held in all nine provinces in the week preceding the funeral.In Qunu, located almost 900 kilometers (560 miles) south of Johannesburg, well-wishers and local chiefs came to pay their respects.“I have no words,” Pal Setsetse, who works for an engineering company in Johannesburg, said after placing a bunch of flowers outside the gate of the house. “It is a very sad day. We have lost a very great man.”Mandela, who was married three times, had six children, three of whom died and are buried in Qunu.At Mandela’s Johannesburg home, the atmosphere was one of a “somber mood, a reflective mood, but also it’s a mood where people in the house recognize the importance Madiba played,” Max Sisulu, the speaker of Parliament, told reporters outside the residence Friday. “In the house, every bit of the furniture reminds us of him — his favorite chair, everything.”About 400 people gathered Friday outside the home in the suburb of Houghton, with some singing and holding up portraits of the nation’s first black president. Residents also gathered in Vilakazi Street in Soweto, a township southwest of Johannesburg, where Mandela lived before being imprisoned for fighting against racial segregation.About 2,500 people gathered for an inter-faith prayer service on Cape Town’s grand parade, where Mandela gave his first speech after being released from prison.“He really is such an icon for the nation,” Rachael Shear, 16, said in an interview after coming to pay her respects with her 13-year-old sister, Liat. “From what I learned at school, the difference he made to South Africa, taking us out of our apartheid state to where we are today, South Africa wouldn’t be as it is unless we had him.”Mandela urged reconciliation after he was released from jail in 1990 and negotiated a peaceful end to apartheid. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 together with F.W. de Klerk, the last white president.“We are grateful for what he has done for us,” Ntsiki Mthembu, who estimates she is older than 60, said in an interview outside the building in Vilakazi street, which is now a museum. “Now he must rest in peace. It’s sad, but he lived his life to the fullest and we are all free.”After a single five-year term as president, Mandela became a champion in the fight against AIDS, disclosing that one of his sons died from the disease. He retired from public life in 2004 and was last seen publicly at the soccer World Cup in Johannesburg three years ago.“I don’t think people in South Africa realize the real importance of Mandela as an icon outside South Africa,” said Johannes de Kruijf, a social anthropology lecturer from Utrecht University in the Netherlands who was attending a conference in Cape Town and drove nearly 1,000 kilometers to Qunu to pay his respects. “He is one of the last massive iconic figures of the 20th century. He is such an inspiration. He reminds you of how things should be done.”Fellow Nobel Peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 82, called on South Africans to unify as they mourn Mandela.“What is going to happen now our father has died? Does it spell doomsday and disaster for us?” Tutu told reporters in Cape Town. “Some have suggested that after he is gone, as he is now gone, our country is going to go up in flames. This is to discredit us as South Africans, to discredit his legacy. The sun will go up tomorrow. Life will carry on.”Brand and Cohen reported from Cape Town. Contributors: Christopher Spillane, Paul Burkhardt, Kevin Crowley, Rene Vollgraaff, Amogelang Mbatha and Janice Kew in Johannesburg.© 2013, Bloomberg News Facebook Comments
Whenever Russian President Vladimir Putin goes to a world sporting event, expect the unexpected. The Russo-Georgian war followed his attendance at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, and the Crimean invasion came a day after the Sochi Winter Olympics in February 2014.He did not disappoint us at the Brazil World Cup Final. Thus, on the way to Brazil, Putin made an announced visit to Cuba, but also an unannounced, barely noticed one to Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua. Having renewed the obsolete Russo-Cuban alliance by writing off 90 percent of Cuba’s Soviet-era debt and signing a new agreement on oil exploration, Putin is also reviving another defunct strategic partnership with the Sandinistas. Don’t forget that Nicaragua, like Venezuela, was one of the few countries that supported the Russian invasions of both Georgia and the Crimea.As in other countries he visited, Putin came to explore new ways of energy cooperation. He arrived with the CEO of Rosneft. However, his objective in Nicaragua was primarily geopolitical, discussing new ways of military cooperation, arms transfers, building a new facility for the Russian Navy, and exploring a joint venture with China for a trans-oceanic rival to the Panama Canal. All this is giving palpitations to democratic Costa Rica, a country without an army. Nicaragua’s Ortega has made irredentist claims on Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province.Ever aware of the limits to Russia’s power, but also of declining U.S. will, Putin is now trying to counter what he views as Russia’s encirclement by NATO countries at her borders. Thus, he is seeking to strengthen ties with regimes in our hemisphere — not only Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, but also El Salvador, Ecuador and Argentina. Above all, Putin’s geopolitics in Latin America is linked to the continuing Ukrainian crisis. With his bloodless invasion of the Crimea, coming after Georgia, he has already succeeded in preventing those two countries from joining NATO. He would still like to consolidate his acquisition of the Crimea and play an arbiter role in the politics of the Ukraine.The Kremlin’s linkages between the crisis at the Russian periphery and moves in Latin America are not new. In 1961-62, Nikita Khrushchev tried to bring pressure on the United States in the Western Hemisphere while managing Russia’s embroilment in the West Berlin conflict. Thus Khrushchev armed Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba with sophisticated weapons to pin down the U.S. in its strategic backyard. His adventurism led to the Cuban missile crisis and brought mankind to almost the last ticks of the nuclear clock. In the early 1980s, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the sending of U.S. modern arms to the Moslem resistence, Soviet leader Yuri Andropov responded by authorizing military aid to the El Savador guerrillas through Cuba and Sandinista Nicaragua.Notice that at the present time, there are two Great Powers border crises in the making. First the continuous Ukrainian one at the Russian border, secondly the immigration explosion at the U.S.’ southern borders. These are of different kinds, of course. Russia is engaged in aiding East Ukrainian separatists in military resistence to Kiev. The U.S. is facing tens of thousands of children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Savador seeking refuge in the U.S. Putin’s Nicaraguan visit was also well-timed to coincide with this second crisis originating in Nicaragua’s northern neighbors.Also notice that whereas Putin is in control of Russia’s security at the Russian borders and has not hesitated to directly and indirectly use military force, Obama, facing the immigration crisis at the border with Mexico, dithers over whether to deploy the National Guard or even to visit the border. Putin’s obsession with border security is in high contrast to Obama’s negligence.Finally, observe that Putin does not hesitate to sell arms to Venezuela while the U.S. has done nothing significant to help the pro-U.S., democratic opposition there. Neither has the U.S. openly provided even small arms to the Ukraine in defense of their country.After attending the World Cup final game in Brazil, Putin attended a meeting of the BRIC countries, the emerging market nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Unlike in the Caribbean, he primarily focused on energy strategy, signing nuclear agreements with both Brazil and Argentina. He also signed agreements with Argentina for energy exploration, delivery of a satellite system and some arms transfer.Naturally, do not expect foxy Putin to follow Khrushchev’s exuberant adventurism with warheads and missiles in the Western Hemisphere, or Andropov’s support of arms for the guerrillas. However, the astute Kremlin leader views the U.S. southern border situtation not as a humanitarian crisis but as yet aother example of the U.S. crisis of governance — which it is. He is joined by the mullahs in Tehran and the leader of the ISIS caliphate in Syria-Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan, but also, as it now appears, by the leftist, anti-U.S. leaders in Latin America. Meanwhile, the divisions in Washington have reached such a stage that the U.S.’ national security is deeply impaired. Nor is this just the doings of the Democratic Party. The insane laws allowing these Central American children to be treated differently than Mexican and Canadian children also are the responsibility of the Republicans.But above all lies the failure of U.S. President Barack Obama to lead — to follow up on his red lines in Syria, to leave residual forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, to hinder ISIS from building a caliphate in the Middle East, to prevent Iran from getting the bomb, and to pay attention to the crisis in the Caribbean Basin and Russian maneuvering there. All this gives the Russian president much leeway to exploit the unprecedented crisis of presidential governance that has exposed the United States as a paper tiger to our foes and friends worldwide.The time has come for Washington to reset its relationship with the countries in our backyard. The failure to do so will lead the coyotes to smuggle not just children but even more drugs to undermine our country, and to perhaps even aid Islamist terrorists in an attack on our homeland. Hesitant and wavering Obama is no match for energetic and well-informed Putin, whose visit to the Western Hemisphere has already made a significant point. The Obama administration might be calling Russia a regional power or big “gas station,” yet, equipped with its energy and arms transfer policies and above all by his craft and determination, Putin aspires to turn his country again into a global power.Council on Foreign Relations member Dr. Jiri Valenta is president of the Institute of Post-Communist Studies and Terrorism, jvlv.net. Leni is editor and CEO. Follow them on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this column are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Tico Times. Facebook Comments No related posts.
Román Macaya was sworn in as Costa Rica’s new ambassador to the United States Wednesday morning in a ceremony at the Casa Amarilla in San José. The new ambassador will have to find a way to get Costa Rica’s voice heard in the Beltway and beyond at a time when a child immigration emergency in Central America and other global crises may drown out the concerns of the small, stable democracy.President Luis Guillermo Solís appointed Macaya, a 47-year-old businessman who holds a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles, on Tuesday during his weekly press conference at Casa Presidencial. The president said he asked Macaya to prioritize foreign investment and educational tourism as some of his top priorities when he arrives in Washington, D.C.In an interview with The Tico Times, Macaya said the child migrant crisis along the southwest U.S. border would be another area of focus as he transitions into his new job. Costa Rica has been largely absent from discussions about the issue. An estimated 90,000 unaccompanied minors will trek to the U.S. border, mostly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, by the end of 2014. Macaya said Costa Rica needs to play an active role in the debate and how to address the crisis at its roots.The new ambassador said the current focus of many U.S. lawmakers to increase security along the border could have troubling results for Costa Rica. Macaya observed that if it becomes too difficult to cross the border, many migrants may start to look south to Costa Rica, which already receives more immigrants looking for work than any other Central American country.“We don’t need 90,000 child migrants, we only need 5,000 migrants for our [immigration] system to start to collapse,” Macaya said in a telephone interview.“Central America needs integral solutions to violence, drug and human trafficking and gangs” beyond simply locking down borders, Macaya said.As dysfunction reaches new depths in Washington and hotspots flare around the globe, pushing the agenda of a small partner like Costa Rica will be a challenge for the biochemist. Macaya said he would emphasize the countries’ shared values of democracy, human rights, liberty and pursuit of prosperity for future generations as a way to build leverage.“That leverage comes from shared values of democracy, human rights, liberty and pursuit of prosperity for future generations,” Macaya said, “There are countries with bigger markets or problems that affect the U.S., but Costa Rica offers a stable society with common values. … A country is more than its economy.”But the economy remains a major priority for Macaya, who came under criticism from some Costa Ricans about how his previous opposition to the Central American Free Trade Agreement might negatively affect his new post. Macaya is hardly alone when it comes to former critics of CAFTA in the current administration, which include President Solís and many other Citizen Action Party members.“Being opposed to CAFTA is not equivalent to being anti-U.S. by any stretch of the imagination. CAFTA is what we’ve got to work with, including this ambassador,” he said.Regardless of his stance on the free trade agreement, Macaya’s U.S. mother from Boston is likely a stronger argument for his affection for the United States. Macaya studied and worked in the U.S. for 14 years after graduating high school in Costa Rica. He recently gave up his dual citizenship with the U.S. to accept the post as Costa Rica’s ambassador. In addition to studying at UCLA, Macaya received a master’s degree from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.Before his nomination as ambassador, Macaya lead his family’s agrochemical business, RIMAC. Macaya’s wife and four children will accompany him on his post. They will live in Fairfax County, Virginia.Meanwhile, there is no new news on the confirmation proceedings of S. Fitzgerald Haney, U.S. President Barack Obama’s choice for U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica. Haney appeared before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 29, where he mentioned his mother’s participation in sit-in protests in the U.S. state of Tennessee, where he was born, as one of his inspirations for public service. With the Senate in recess until September, the upper house of Congress has yet to confirm Haney, a businessman and Democratic Party donor. Costa Rica has gone over a year now without an ambassador from the United States. Facebook Comments Related posts:Former US President Bill Clinton lauds Costa Rica, urges students to make most of their futures Central American foreign ministers meet in Washington to lobby Obama on immigration crisis Solís welcomes senior US Foreign Service officer on brief 3-country tour Her Majesty’s ambassador to Costa Rica misses Marmite
Facebook Comments It seems official: Black Friday has invaded Costa Rican culture, and it’s here to stay. Walking through downtown San José, I stumbled upon one of those stores where the products seem to be perpetually on sale because everything in the store costs less than $10. Even so, from outside you could read a big sign announcing the huge discounts of the Black “Fryday” to come. Yes. Spelled like that. As I doubt they were actually going to fry anything this coming Nov. 27, I immediately realized two things: First, you don’t need to know what it is or even the proper spelling of it to profit from the shopping holiday, and second, Black Friday is not going anywhere.You see it at Multiplaza, at this downtown budget store and, funnily enough, even at the butcher’s shop three blocks down, where pork chops are on sale during the entire “Black Week.” But why is it Black? Why are there discounts and promotions that day? Although you could read a couple of explanations online, I bet you most Ticos, either consumers or storeowners, have not stopped to wonder. But this is what’s so cool about it. It’s an arbitrary day where everybody agreed that there would be huge savings and huge crowds of shoppers. The day doesn’t even matter, as they showed us in China with their Singles Day.The process of adopting Black Friday probably went down something like this: Some retailers started noticing what was going on in the United States and said, “Let’s mark down a couple of items and see what happens.” That attracted some shoppers and other stores followed. Then at some point so many retailers were doing it that consumers started waiting to make their purchases on Black Friday because they knew they could get a better deal. The increased demand and sales justified the discounts, and shops started offering more aggressive markdowns, fueling the shopping craze in a mutually reinforcing loop.Why do we start spending earlier, get stuck in crowded malls and collapse the country’s customs with goodies from online purchases? This whole shopping craze feeds of three very human, mental traps we all fall prey to:1. Scarcity Principle: Have you ever been to the store and found out the jeans you liked are the last pair? What feeling do you get from finding that out? Does it make you want them even more? Or how about that time when tickets for that concert you wanted to go to were sold out, but at the last minute, the band decided to do one more show? Do you wait and see how they sell, or do you jump online and buy them right away? If you’ve rushed to buy in any of these cases, you are certifiably human. We seem to be wired to crave that which is scarce, which is why we assign more value to those things that are hard to get. Marketers know this, and they play this card to get you to act on purchases which under regular circumstances you probably would wait on, or not make at all.2. Closing Doors Principle: This is what auctions live by. This is the logic behind that “limited time offer” or that infomercial you see on late night TV where you must call within the next 30 minutes to get the offer. In this principle, what’s scarce is time – and you are running out of it, fast. It seems that we humans are more driven by avoiding losing something than by winning something else. The effect has been documented in many studies, and it basically shows that we can act against our good judgment or even our self-interest when we are placed in a situation where we feel we might lose an opportunity forever. Do you balance two or three hobbies, two or three dating partners, two or three jobs or two or three extra school activities for your kids just not to close off the wonderful opportunities that might stem out of each? Well, there you have it. We might be more efficient of perhaps even happier if we just let the other doors shut, but somehow we find it hard.3. Social Proof: If enough people are doing it, it must be the right thing to do. That’s the logic behind this principle. In most cases helpful, this mental shortcut helps us rely on group smarts to make individual decisions. The catch is that if you think about it, everybody is watching everybody else, searching for cues on how to act. This can lead us astray, especially in uncertain situations. This is why you run when you see a crowd running, why you look up if enough people around you are, and why this 1950s experiment is still relevant.If you think about it, Black Friday’s success in seducing us to take out our wallets and make (sometimes poor) purchasing decisions can be attributed in large part to these three behavioral quirks. You know the goods are going to be scarce, because everybody seems to be after them. It’s literally for that day only so if you don’t act fast, that golden opportunity will be gone for the rest of the year. And finally, all those people making the line outside of the stores can’t be wrong. There must be something there worth chasing.I know that learning about what drives our behavior and the forces behind our impulses to dive into the shopping spree this coming Black Friday won’t make you necessarily avoid the crowds or restrain from jumping on the fading deals in Amazon. But now at least you can stop and wonder if this is really what you want. If it is, you can drop by that little store in downtown San José, check out the “Fryday” and get some pork chops at a killer price. Limited time only!Read more “Doing Business columns” here. Randall Trejos works as a business developer, helping startups and medium-sized companies grow. He’s the co-director of the Founder Institute in Costa Rica and a strategy consultant at Grupo Impulso. You can follow his blog La Catapulta or contact him through LinkedIn. Stay tuned for the next edition of “Doing Business,” published twice-monthly. Related posts:Want to launch an app startup in Costa Rica? Read this first Social Entrepreneurship: how you can do good and make money at the same time Clock ticking to ship gifts to Costa Rica in time for the holidays Finance Ministry issues warning ahead of shopping season
Have you tried out the surfboards? When are you releasing them?They’re coming out soon. I just found the shaper. Probably within the next month you’ll see some hemp surfboards surfacing from the company. I’ve met some pro surfers in Costa Rica who are going to ride the boards, including Marcela García and Valeria Soto.Why did you choose to distribute them in Costa Rica?It’s a big industry there. I learned how to surf when I was there, so I love it. Hemp can also grow very well in Costa Rica. They’re about to legalize that kind of stuff. It’s a great industry; it can replace coffee and sugar cane.Basically, by building these boards, producing biofuel in Costa Rica made from hemp and producing hemp surfboards there, we just want to get a head start on a really big industry that’s coming. It’s going to benefit the country and it will create jobs.CORRECTION: The Kickstarter campaign we linked to in the original version of this article is no longer active; the campaign was discontinued because the fundraising target was not met. We apologize for the error. For more information on Hempearth, visit the company’s Facebook page.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mfCp-hrcq0 Facebook Comments Transforming hemp into the surfboard beneath your feet or the plane that takes you skyward: That’s the mission of the Canadian companyHempearth, which has made Costa Rica a key player in its operations. Hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, and is often used for industrial reasons because of its strength and versatility.Hempearth’s founder, Derek Kesek, a Canadian internet marketer, musician, chef and former organic restaurant owner, says he is working to create of the world’s first hemp airplane, its biofuel and a series of hemp surfboards.While his company is headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, Kesek has also been working out of La Guácima, Alajuela, where the company has been producing hemp biofuel. He anticipates that within a month, Hempearth’s surfboards will be released in Costa Rica as well.The Tico Times spoke with Kesek about his project. Excerpts follow.Can you tell me more about the hemp airplane?About three years ago I started a company solely based on hemp. I contacted several plane manufacturing companies and asked them if this idea was possible. I sent them some hemp, did some testing and then I got a contract signed by one of the companies. The rest was history. Then I started getting help from some newspapers and so on. We’ve been on Kickstarter, but we’ll probably have to do it again. I was recently in Costa Rica for about eight months, producing the hemp biofuel for the plane. … I put my heart and soul into this project, just one day at a time.Why did you choose to use hemp?Because it’s eco, it’s green, it’s sustainable and we all want a better future. It’s lighter, it’s stronger and it’s becoming legalized all over the world.What is the process to produce the biofuel here in Costa Rica?We had some hemp seed oil shipped in from Canada. I had a chemist make the fuel and he has his own processing plant located just outside of San José, so he produces the fuel for us. Once the hemp plane is ready, we’ll fuel it with this particular hemp fuel. Hempearth’s airplane plans to use biofuel made out of hemp for a more sustainable design. Via hempearth.net Related posts:Energy prices and politics weigh down business confidence, Costa Rica private-sector survey notes Some members of Costa Rica’s business sector alarmed over ‘historic’ jump in unemployment Airbnb v. Uber: Sharing economy gets a mixed reception in Costa Rica Is Honduras heading for the privatization of parts of its territory?
Read more of Natasha Gordon-Chipembere’s columns here.Natasha Gordon-Chipembere, a writer, professor and founder of the Tengo Sed Writers Retreats, moved to Heredia, Costa Rica with her family from New York in June 2014. She is now accepting applications for Tengo Sed IV Writers and Yoga Retreat in Jan 2017. She may be reached at email@example.com. Her column “Musings from an Afro-Costa Rican” is published monthly. Facebook Comments Related posts:A graceful life: Jeannette Boyd Rodríguez and San José’s Afro-Costa Rican history The elegance of Quince Duncan: a chat with the celebrated writer Finding La Negrita: A story of coming home Costa Rican plants for aches and pains Though Costa Rica had its own version of slavery from approximately 1502 to 1824, there was never a fully viable cash crop plantation system – that is, outside of the small spike in cacao production between 1690-1740, which saw the largest influx of slaves in Costa Rica. For the most part, African slaves were focused on domestic labor, many of them working alongside Spanish colonialists. This form of slavery was very different from other New World slave societies.African slaves in Costa Rica worked in three areas: some on the cattle ranches of Nicoya, some on the cacao plantations of Matina, and most in domestic servitude in colonial Cartago. Since colonial Costa Rica did not directly import Africans from West Africa, most of the slaves were brought into the country via Panama – Portobello was a major slave auction site – and along the coasts through smuggling and small purchases. Most enslaved Africans entered Costa Rica in small numbers and were quickly absorbed into the primary labor force.With such minimal and inconsistent numbers, most Africans in Costa Rica were already “American” by the 16th century through one generation of mixing with indigenous and Spanish populations. Economically, most Spaniards could not afford to sustain slaves as they struggled to maintain their own livelihoods. As a result, many Africans were freed, purchased their own freedom, or lived fairly autonomously in the outlying cacao plantations with owners who showed up once a year.By 1709, money was so scare that colonists used the cacao bean as currency (check out the Museo de Oro Precolombino in the Plaza de la Cultura in downtown San José for a history of Costa Rican currency, including cacao beans). Cacao held its weight as the currency for the purchase of slaves. For example, in 1761, the 8-year-old child of the slave Juana Josefa, owned by Feliciana Calvo, was sold to a Cartago priest for 150 pesos in cacao. Slaves who had access to cacao had unique bargaining power, and by the 18th century there was a large population of free Blacks, many of them lived in the designated “township” of Puebla de Los Pardos (pardo meaning “free black”) right outside of Cartago.It is a researcher’s dream to come across the actual voices of enslaved people in historical archives; usually slaves are lumped into statistics without names, and their narratives are told from the perspective of the founding fathers. As I was combing through records on this time period at the Costa Rican National Archives, I kept seeing names and testimonies from enslaved Africans, but I could not figure out why. Finally, I stumbled across Voyage 35157 of the Christianus Quintus and Voyage 35158 of the Fredericus Quartus, two Dutch slave ships that reportedly crashed along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coastline near Cahuita in March 1710.According to maritime records, the Christianus had begun its purchase of Africans along the West African coast in April 1709, stopping at the Dutch slave ports Christiansborg, Whydah, Gold Coast and Bight of Benin. It eventually left Africa on September 28, 1709 with a total of 373 Africans, 318 of whom would eventually survive the Middle Passage, as the transatlantic slave voyage across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and Latin America was known. The Dutch captains were Hans Hansen Maas and Andres Waeroe.The other ship, the Fredericus, had sailed from Copenhagen to West Africa, purchasing Africans on the Ivory and Gold Coasts as well as Benin, Christiansborg and Keta. It left the West African coast on October 2, 1709 after it successfully put down a slave revolt on the ship on September 15, 1709.Both Dutch ships were originally bound for the Island of St. Thomas. However, according to African testimony, a massive storm caused both ships to veer off course and crash near Cahuita on March 2, 1710. What is most amazing about this story is that there were approximately 690 Africans who survived along with the Dutch crew. The stories are corroborated because the Dutch sailors managed to get on a ship heading to Portobello, Panama and were able to return home and narrate their stories to the law courts in order to gain the necessary insurance payment from investors for lost human cargo. However, they left the Africans behind on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. These were predominately from the Western Yoruba subgroup of Nago. In the slave trading world, the language designating those of Yoruba origin also used Casta Lucumi, Mina, Arara, Ana and Nangu – words found in the archives.According to the records from the seat of the Catholic Church, which was in Guatemala, about 100 of the Africans abandoned onshore by the Dutch captains were captured and hidden by several Spaniards and taken to work on their cacao plantations, away from the eyes of those who may have taxed them for owning slaves. In the Catholic Church’s records, there are several testimonies by those captured Africans who were interviewed by a slave named Francisco (Casta Arara) who served as an interpreter. They recounted the story of a great storm that shipwrecked their boats and the experience of being captured by the Spaniards who enslaved them.The other 540 Africans simply “disappeared” into the bush, and we can assume that they created the foundation of some of the earliest AfroCosta Ricans on the Caribbean coast.It is a gift to be able to call the names of Africans who lived and labored in Costa Rica during the 18th century. Calling their names – sadly, their Spanish colonial names, not their true names lovingly uttered by their mothers in Africa – means they existed. Their lives mattered. They added to the development of Costa Rica.And I call: Maria and Petrona(Casta Nangu). Juan (caught by slavers Gasper de Acosta Arevalo and Juan Bautista de Retana). Augustina (Yoruba Casta Ana, also captured by Retana). Nicolas, Miguel, Felipe Cubero (from Congo). Antonia Cinitola (from Congo). Micaela (Yoruba Casta Ana). Miguel Largo (Casta Mina from the upper West African slave coast). They, among others, survived the slave pens of West Africa and the horrific crossing of the Atlantic. They labored, loved, and died in Costa Rica – some gaining freedom, like Augustina, who was the first enslaved woman to appear in the Church register because she married Antonio García on May 3, 1733. They were both slaves of don Juan Francisco de Ibarra.I can only imagine the lives of those Africans who had to begin again in the Americas, washed ashore and quickly captured, yet these stories are more commonplace in the narratives of the Transatlantic slave trade. I am most interested in those Africans who got away, escaping into the Caribbean landscape and finding their own path. How does Costa Rica claim them in their national lineage?
Related posts:The heart of Fabricio Alvarado, part II: Dashed hopes New poll in Costa Rica: another small Fabricio lead, another statistical dead heat 5 keys to understanding Costa Rica as it faces new elections Election Eve in San Pedro, Costa Rica On Costa Rica’s Election Day on Feb. 4, our team captured the sights and sounds of the voting experience, from dawn to dusk, and asked voters of all ages what drove them to cast their ballot that day.Now that the runoff election is upon us: what will motivate you to make the trip to the polls on Sunday? Facebook Comments
To find Soda Lima, look for a yellow and red sign painted on a white wall that’s shared with the neighboring Mini Super Feng. The sign is next to a bookstore on Calle 2, between Avenida 6 and 8, and there’s a glass display case full of yellow-orange Ají chilis that will let you know you’ve arrived at this authentic Peruvian eatery.The chilis are native to Peru, as is Doña Natividad Madera, who’s run the restaurant along with her husband since 1986. They’ve been serving Peruvian comfort food for so long that you can find retro news clips if you look up “Soda Lima en Costa Rica” on YouTube. It appears not much has changed since then. It’s almost as if you are stepping back in time as soon as you walk in.As the name suggests, this is indeed a soda. This is a totally casual, 34-seat restaurant, where they specialize in home-style food that your grandmother would serve if she were Peruvian. If you don’t have a Peruvian grandmother, at least you have Doña Natividad, and what a sweet lady she is.While I waited for my food, she was happy to answer any questions that I had and we discussed her beloved hometown of Cuzco, which she proudly displays photos of on the walls around her restaurant.Meanwhile, her husband toiled away in the kitchen. I could see him through the open window as I sat eager to try the food I had heard so much about.You don’t actually order the food off a menu. It is customary to order off of the chalkboard, which they will be happy to offer you verbally, as well. The roughly 12 different plates that are available change daily, so you always have the chance to try something new. Of course, their classics are frequently on the list.These include lomo saltado, ceviche, escabeche de pollo, arroz chaufa, cauca and tallarines. On my visit, I shared three of these with a friend and we both left more than full. Prices average around 4,000 colones (about $8) per main, including taxes, and you get a healthy portion. This no-frills spot is definitely a bang for your buck.To start, we devoured a traditional Peruvian-style ceviche 5,000 colones (about $10) of sea bass, which was quite possibly one of the best ceviches I have ever had. It was obviously super fresh, possibly even made to order. The quality of the fish was the star of the show. The ceviche at Soda Lima A tower of delicious, incredibly fresh sea bass ceviche (William Ayre / The Tico Times)It was also marinated in a perfectly seasoned lime juice and mixed generously with slices of red onion. It towered up off the plate and was served with boiled yams and corn. Their house-made hot sauce really took this one to the next level, but be careful, it is not for the faint-hearted.Then, came the lomo saltado, 6,500 colones (about $13), and escabeche de pollo, 3,500 colones (about $7). Lomo saltado is a traditional stir-fry dish. This one was made with strips of sirloin in some sort of pepper sauce. It also had sautéed tomatoes, roughly cut french fries, and a side of white rice. The steak was nice and tender, and the sauce was deliciously flavorful. Stir-fried steak and thick french fries (William Ayre / The Tico Times)This was my first time trying escabeche de pollo — which translates to pickled chicken — and I now feel like I’ve been missing out for too long. Let’s get this straight though, this isn’t actually pickled chicken, despite the name. The chicken is cooked in a red wine vinegar sauce, seared in a skillet, and finished in an oven.It comes with a side of sliced boiled potatoes that are absolutely smothered in a creamy Huancaina sauce, which is another staple in the Peruvian kitchen. Huancaina sauce is made from cheese, cream, yellow ají, and spices. It is tangy and creamy, rich and light, salty and savory. If it’s available when you visit, as I imagine it should be, please try it. Pollo escabeche at Soda Lima The non-pickled pollo escabeche with boiled potatoes topped with an exquisite Huancaina sauce (William Ayre / The Tico Times)They do not have alcohol for sale at Soda Lima, but they do have a basic selection of bottled soft drinks and one natural juice, which happened to be Tamarind fruit on my visit. If you want an authentic experience, go for the Chicha Morada or a bottle of Inca Kola.I had the Chicha Morada, 1,000 colones (about $2), which is a sweet drink based off of purple corn, spiced with cinnamon and cloves, and with a slight hint of citrus. At Soda Lima they added bits of apple into the glass, like a sober Sangria. Chicha morada, Soda Lima style (William Ayre / The Tico Times)There’s no parking for customers at Soda Lima and there’s no street parking either. But look for the Parqueo Teatro Moderno just down the block if you want to park. Here, you will be able to leave your car for 1,000 colones (about $2) an hour, more than enough time to enjoy your meal.Soda Lima is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They do not accept cards, so it’s cash only. Search “Soda Lima” in Waze or Uber to arrive conveniently. Doña Natividad Madera standing outside Soda Lima. Doña Natividad Madera, her restaurant and a display case filled with Ají chilis, all authentically Peruvian (William Ayre / The Tico Times) Related posts:Off the eaten path: Bar La Selegna Off the eaten path: Pad Thai Off the eaten path: Villa Oro Off the eaten path: Al Masri Cocina Egipcia William Ayre is a Canadian born chef and restaurateur who has spent the last half of his life doing business in Costa Rica, where he now considers to be home. Inspired by Anthony Bourdain, Ayre’s passion of experiencing different cultures through food has taken him to 35 different countries over five continents. Whether it’s a 20-course meal at a fine dining restaurant in Toronto, or cantina hopping in search for the best chifrijo here in San José, he fits in just fine. Facebook Comments
And check out the map below for directions to Nauyaca Waterfalls:This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Nauyaca Waterfall: Horseback riding, cliff jumping and walks not taken There is no shortage of stunning waterfalls in Costa Rica, and these are among the best.Nauyaca Waterfalls are a two-tiered behemoth, cascading nearly 200 feet and pooling into a perfect swimming hole at the bottom.The trailhead to access Nauyaca Waterfalls is just 20 minutes from Dominical, Puntarenas, or an hour south of Quepos / Manuel Antonio. Visitors can either hike the 8 km round-trip journey from the parking lot or pay extra to ride on horseback or in a truck.The reward? We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Click on the photos for a higher-resolution version. (Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico Times)The best time to visit Nauyaca Waterfalls is during Costa Rica’s dry season (from about December to April), as the waterfalls are weaker and swimming is easier.Read more about Nauyaca Waterfalls in The Tico Times: Related posts:On top of the world at Chirripó Pic of the Day: Costa Rica from the air Pic of the Day: Hanging out at Rainmaker Conservation Project Pic of the Day: Costa Rica’s underwater wildlife
Sponsored Stories Lee Sang-deuk wasn’t directly hit by any of the eggs, but some yolk could be seen on his shoulder. He didn’t speak to a swarm of reporters gathered at the court, shaking off the protesters and media mobbing him before walking through a security checkpoint.The protesters said they’d lost money after the government suspended the troubled savings banks Lee is accused of taking bribes from.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Quick workouts for men New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments Share SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Enraged protesters threw eggs at the brother of South Korea’s president Tuesday, grabbing his tie and jostling him as he entered a court for questioning over corruption allegations.A Seoul court said it was reviewing whether to arrest President Lee Myung-bak’s brother, and it expected to make a decision later Tuesday.Prosecutors accuse former lawmaker Lee Sang-deuk of taking half a million dollars in bribes from two detained bankers. On Friday, prosecutors requested the Seoul Central District Court approve his arrest. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona
Associated PressJOHANNESBURG (AP) – South Africa cut all crude oil imports from Iran in June amid heavy European and U.S. sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, a monthly government report shows, cutting off another major source of cash for the crude-dependent Middle Eastern nation.June’s crude oil importation report comes as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans a visit to South Africa in a few days, but it remains unclear whether South Africa intends to permanently cut all Iranian imports in response to possible economic sanction. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Comments Share 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Despite those other links, South Africa’s economy depends on trade with the U.S., meaning any cut into that would hurt a country already hobbled by a weakened economy, said Scott Firsing, a fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs.“South Africa needs the U.S. by far more than it needs Iran,” Firsing said.___Jon Gambrell can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jongambrellap. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) It remains unclear whether this signals just a one-month drop or a systematic change in South Africa’s crude oil importation strategy. In January, statistics from the revenue service show South Africa also received no crude oil from Iran before ramping back up its imports in February.In July, South Africa’s Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said the nation was working with Iran to ensure it could continue importing crude oil from Iran, despite Europeans stopping insurance of Iranian oil ships.South Africa is not the only African nation to back away from Iranian crude oil. In July, Kenya announced it ended a deal with Iran hours after the U.S. warned it would be financially penalized for continuing to import its oil.It remains unclear what immediate effect the halt of Iranian importation would have on gasoline production in South Africa. Iranian fields produce a type of oil known as heavy, sour crude, which contains more sulfur and is harder and more expensive to refine. South Africa has refineries already designed to process such crude.South Africa’s trade with Iran does not only include oil. South Africa’s MTN Group Ltd. owns 49 percent of the Iranian mobile company Irancell. A Turkish company that was an unsuccessful bidder for a telecommunications license in Iran has challenged the MTN deal in U.S. courts, saying MTN bribed an Iranian and a South African government official, and encouraged South Africa to support Iran’s nuclear power development program at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Zodwa Batyashe, a spokeswoman for the nation’s Energy Ministry, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.Monthly statistics from the South African Revenue Service show the nation received the majority of its oil in June from Saudi Arabia, with Angola and Nigeria also contributing heavily. From May 2011 to May 2012, statistics show that about 35 percent of all crude imported by the country came from Iran. Government officials estimate the value of that crude to be more than $3.4 billion.South Africa had been on a State Department sanction waiver list, allowing the country to continue to import Iranian oil for 180 days so long as it began “significantly reducing” the amount it brought in. That waiver deadline has since passed, putting South African banks at risk of being cut off from the American banking system.U.S. President Barack Obama signed the sanctions into law Dec. 31, which are aimed at trying to stop its suspected drive for nuclear weapons. The European Union also has put in place its own ban on Iranian crude, as well as prohibited firms from insuring shipments of Iranian oil.Iran denies it wants to develop nuclear weapons. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has derided the sanctions his country faces as “ridiculous,” though it could cripple a nation that depends on oil for some 80 percent of its foreign revenue.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkey is advising its citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to Lebanon following the kidnapping of two Turkish nationals there.The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Friday also urged Turks already in Lebanon to take “all kinds of precautions” for their safety.The travel advisory was issued hours after the country confirmed that a second Turk _ a truck driver _ was abducted in Lebanon on Thursday. Comments Share Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Check your body, save your life Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories On Wednesday, members of a powerful Shiite Muslim clan said they had kidnapped more than 20 Syrian nationals and a Turk in retaliation for the abduction of their relative in Syria this week.The abductions have raised concerns that Syria’s civil war is spilling into Lebanon.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home
Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Last week, immigration officials announced that the institution had lost its “highly trusted status” because a survey found problems with the qualifications of many of its foreign students. The Border Agency said samples of students found that “significant proportions” did not have a good English standard, had no permission to be in the country or did not attend classes.“London Met will fight this revocation, which is based on a highly flawed report by the U.K. Border Agency,” university Vice Chancellor Malcolm Gillies said. “The university will continue to give top priority to the interests of our international students who have been so distressed by this precipitate action.”It was not clear what kind of legal action was planned, but one possibility is a judicial review of the government’s decision.The decision means that around 2,600 students _ including many with valid visas _ could be deported from Britain if they do not find an alternative sponsor within 60 days.Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative government has vowed to crack down on immigration in multiple ways. It has pointed to student visas as a category ripe for abuse by those who may instead be looking for work. Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice The vital role family plays in society Associated PressLONDON (AP) – A London university said Monday it is pursuing legal action to reverse the British government’s decision to strip it of its ability to sponsor visas for international students, a decision that has left more than 2,000 students facing deportation.London Metropolitan University said it has told its lawyers to begin urgent action to challenge the decision so that its students can return to study. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments Share Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix But many in Britain, including the National Union of Students, were angered by the move against London Metropolitan. They argue that the move unfairly punishes legitimate foreign students who have paid large sums of tuition fees and are now barred from finishing their degrees.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories
Comments Share Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Sponsored Stories Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in Tehran for talks with Iranian leaders on bilateral ties and regional issues including Syria.Iranian state television says Erdogan will meet Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani during his two-day state visit that began Wednesday.The two countries are expected to sign an agreement to set up a coordination council to handle trade issues in the wake of easing of sanctions on Iran after the historic Nov. 24 nuclear deal with world powers. Bilateral trade last year stood at $13.5 billion. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Iran and Turkey have sharp different views on Syria. Ankara hosts Syrian rebels while Tehran backs Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes
From left: Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping walk before the Victory Parade marking the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Red Square, Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool) 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Chinese President Xi Jinping was the most prominent world leader to attend the Victory Day parade and Putin took special note in his speech of China’s role in the war, saying that like the Soviet Union “it lost many, many millions of people.”An air of grievance mixes with the annual commemoration of the Nazi defeat, with Russians frequently complaining that the West undervalues the Red Army’s role and even tries to “rewrite history.”Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who met with Putin after the parade, echoed that strain. “No one can deny the role that Russia, the Soviet Union, played in the fight with Nazism and history will never forget,” he said.For veterans of the war, in which the USSR is estimated to have lost 26 million people including 8 million soldiers, the parade was an intensely emotional experience.“When we fought, we had a couple of automatic pistols and a rifle — now look at all the amazing military equipment we’ve got,” said 92-year-old Valentina Schulgina, who fought in the Battle of Stalingrad that is regarded by some as the bloodiest battle in history.In all, about 200 pieces of military hardware and 16,500 troops took part in the parade, which concluded with a flyover of military aircraft. One group of warplanes flew in a tight formation depicting the number “70.” New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The Armata tank that was one of the highlights of the parade is regarded by some military analysts as surpassing Western tanks. It is the first to have an internal armored capsule surrounding its three-man crew and a remotely controlled turret with an automatic loading system.Other prominent figures at the parade included Alexander Zaldostanov, the leather-clad leader of the nationalist motorcycle club Night Wolves, with whom Putin has ridden.“There are three things to say after the parade today: The enemy will be destroyed; victory will be ours; Russia forward,” said Zaldostanov, known as The Surgeon.___Kate de Pury in Moscow contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Victory Day is Russia’s most important secular holiday, both commemorating the Soviet Union’s huge suffering in the war and highlighting Russia’s portrayal of itself as a force for peace and security. This year’s parade, on the 70th anniversary of the surrender, was the biggest military parade since the Soviet Union’s collapse.In his speech to the assembled troops and veterans, President Vladimir Putin said that the carnage of the war underlined the importance of international cooperation, but “in the past decades we have seen attempts to create a unipolar world.” That phrase is often used by Russia to criticize the United States’ purported aim to dominate world affairs.Later Saturday, an estimated 300,000 people walked through central Moscow to Red Square, holding portraits of relatives who fought in the war. Putin joined them near Red Square, with a photo of his naval veteran father.The observances were shadowed by the near-complete absence of European leaders from the ceremony. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to come to Moscow on Sunday, a visit that will include recognition of the Red Army’s sacrifices.The cold shoulder that European leaders turned toward Victory Day underlines the tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis. As Western sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine continue to bite, Russia has increasingly appeared to pivot away from Europe and focus more on developing relations with China. Comments Share Top Stories MOSCOW (AP) — Russia showed off new machines of war, including a highly sophisticated tank, on Saturday in the annual Victory Day military parade through Red Square that marks the surrender of Nazi Germany and the Red Army’s key role in the defeat.The Armata tank drew a round of strong applause as it rumbled through the square, part of a long convoy that ranged from the World War II era to the most modern. Also on view for the first time at the parade was a lumbering RS-24 Yars ICBM launcher along with several new, smaller vehicles.
Sponsored Stories New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility It has suffered some setbacks and also made some gains. The checklist appears to point to a tie — with advantage, Islamic State:— The group has held on to its main hubs in Iraq and Syria, Mosul and Raqqa, as well as Fallujah, a strategic Iraqi town a short drive from Baghdad.— It is battling to a tie around Beiji, home to Iraq’s major oil refinery that has yet to fall but is surrounded. Iraqi security forces have poured resources and manpower into securing the refinery, where the militants have staged periodic attacks.— In Syria it was rebuffed by a massive air campaign in Kobani, a Kurdish town on the Turkish border. But in recent days, its fighters have captured the ancient town of Palmyra, site of 2,000-year-old Roman ruins. That has brought it closer to Damascus.There are coalition success stories — most recently in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, where 11th-hour U.S. airstrikes proved to be a game-changer after a large-scale Iraqi operation to retake the city stumbled.While air power has been well-suited to hitting command-and-control centers, storage facilities and infrastructure, Islamic State fighters have proven adept at reacting. August will mark a year since the campaign was launched after tens of thousands of minority Yazidis were forced to flee an onslaught by the militants in Iraq, causing a humanitarian crisis.It was clear from the start that a ground force was needed, and Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish fighters have had successes on the battlefield. The Iraqi military was also to play a key role: air power would soften up the extremists, weakening them or getting them to flee, and the Iraqis were to deliver the final blow or retake areas abandoned by the militants.That has not gone according to plan.Badly humiliated, Iraq’s Shiite-dominated army has shown little stamina in the mostly-Sunni cities taken by the Islamic State militants. In recent days U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said it lacked the “will to fight” after fleeing Ramadi, the strategic capital of Iraq’s largest Sunni province, Anbar, leaving the Islamic State group in control of nearly all its territory, which stretches to the Jordan border.Overall the extremists remain in control of about a third of Iraq and Syria, equivalent to the amount of territory under its authority before the air campaign began. It continues to terrorize the population there, imposing its unforgiving brand of radical Islam and carrying out atrocities against minority groups, including sexual enslavement of women. Like the Islamic State group, the Houthis and their allies have devised tactics to avoid being hit from the air, using public transportation and motorcycles to deploy fighters or traveling at night, on foot or in vehicles with their headlights dimmed. And like the jihadis, they easily melt into urban civilian areas under their control — practically daring coalition forces to bomb them out. As long as the rebels control the local population and have little concern for the suffering of civilians, this can create pressure on the attacking side, which soon stands accused of humanitarian abuses.By contrast, airstrikes did succeed for Israel in stopping Hamas rocket fire from Gaza last summer, and for NATO in 1999 in getting Serbia to eventually relinquish Kosovo. But this was against state actors that ultimately felt beholden to their suffering populations.NO ALLY IN SYRIAWhereas in Iraq the coalition has a weak ally, in Syria it is hampered by having no real ally at all. Indeed, it has going out of its way to avoid the impression of working with the government of Bashar Assad, who many around the world see as having lost any legitimacy to rule.Despite calls by antiquities officials to help save Palmyra this week, the coalition refrained from interfering, launching one airstrike that struck only after the town had already fallen and Syrian government troops defending it had fled. The group “is nimble enough to move around their personnel and equipment to make up for any losses with tactical moves,” said Dubai-based geopolitical analyst Theodore Karasik. “The battlefield is very fluid.”At a meeting of top Arab officials sponsored by the World Economic Forum in Jordan last weekend, there was a strong sense that the coalition must reassess if it hopes to a avoid a protracted conflict, or some other version of failure.Some yearned for a return of the U.S. military, although none would say so on the record. After the grim experience for Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, with thousands of U.S. lives lost and billions of dollars spent, it simply wouldn’t fly.All seemed to agree that a rethink was in order. But for now, the Obama administration remains opposed to sending U.S. forces back into combat in Iraq and is calling for patience and time to train Iraqis. Perhaps in the long run, a new pan-Arab strike force being promoted by Egypt might be the answer.As unhappiness mounts with the coalition performance, here are some issues to consider:YEMENAnother air campaign carried out by a coalition of Sunni Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia has had similarly disappointing results, this time against Shiite Houthi rebels who have seized much of Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa. After two months of airstrikes, the Houthis have been damaged, but they haven’t been expelled from any major areas they control. ___Perry reported from Cairo. AP writers Jon Gambrell and Hamza Hendawi in Cairo, Zeina Karam in Beirut and Adam Schreck in Dubai contributed to this report.___Dan Perry is AP’s Middle East editor leading text coverage in the region. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/perry_danVivian Salama is the Associated Press bureau chief in Baghdad. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vmsalama.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How do cataracts affect your vision? Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments Share BAGHDAD (AP) — It’s the modern era’s military strategy of choice: overwhelming air power delivering precision-guided punishment backed by intelligence on the ground, with minimal exposure for soldiers of the striking side.Seductive though it is to risk-averse governments with war-weary publics, the approach has its limits — and these are on display in Syria and Iraq, where a U.S.-led coalition has carried out over 4,100 airstrikes against Islamic State radicals yet failed to stop the extremists. Top Stories Instead, the U.S.-led coalition is working mainly in support of Syria’s Kurds, launching daily airstrikes that concentrate on areas around Kobani and the predominantly Kurdish province of Hassakeh in the northeast. Kurdish fighters, supported by air cover from the coalition, have made significant advances, taking back dozens of villages in recent days.THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EDGEIn any fight, it is the fearless side that usually enjoys the edge. Unlike Western troops, jihadis like the Islamic State group seem unafraid to die in airstrikes and pleased to dispatch suicide attackers who are difficult to stop. Facing a declared offensive by the Iraqi army in Anbar province, the militants did just that, unleashing a wave of suicide car bombings late Tuesday that killed at least 17 troops, including a top commander.It is part of the group’s psychological warfare: A seemingly inexhaustible supply of willing bombers at the wheel of explosive-laden trucks. High-definition propaganda videos follow, showing the vehicles speeding toward their targets before exploding, devastating Iraqi forces’ morale.The U.S. has promised to deliver more anti-tank weapons to counter the suicide bombers. But in a sign of the futility, the U.S. has had to devote some airstrikes to destroying U.S.-supplied tanks and other weaponry that the Iraqis have abandoned to the Islamic State fighters. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Parents, stop beating yourself up New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies FILE – In this Saturday, May 9, 2015 file photo, a plume of smoke rises after an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State group positions in an eastern neighborhood of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. The U.S.-led coalition has carried out over 4,100 airstrikes against Islamic State radicals, with limited results. (AP Photo, File)