Third French town bans burkini swimwear raising tension

first_img Posted by Tuesday, August 16, 2016 The Canadian Press PARIS — The mayor of a Corsican town has banned full-body swimsuits known as “burkinis” after a clash between local residents and Muslim bathers of North African origin.Ange-Pierre Vivoni is the latest French mayor to prohibit the swimwear, which is worn by some Muslim women, in the wake of Islamic extremist attacks this summer.Vivoni said on France-Info radio Monday that the ban in his town of Sisco is aimed at calming religious tensions and protecting Muslims.The Interior Ministry says a clash Saturday in Sisco that left at least four people injured and three cars torched reportedly started over the presence of women in burkinis.Cannes and the town of Villeneuve-Loubet also recently banned the burkini. Critics say the bans are discriminatory and could worsen tensions. Share Third French town bans ‘burkini’ swimwear raising tension << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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500 hotels now for DoubleTree by Hilton with new Manhattan skyscraper

first_img Posted by Travelweek Group 500 hotels now for DoubleTree by Hilton with new Manhattan skyscraper Share Tags: Hilton, New Yorkcenter_img WASHINGTON, D.C. — DoubleTree by Hilton is celebrating the debut of its 500th property this week as well as its continued global expansion, with 100 properties now in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.Along with 500 locations in 40 countries and territories on six continents, DoubleTree by Hilton currently has one of the strongest hotel opening pipelines in the industry, with 181 hotels and 42,000 rooms, says the company.The brand expects to open more than 40 locations in 2017 and more than 60 in 2018.Anticipated 2017 opening highlights include:DoubleTree by Hilton Melaka Malaysia – Q2 2017DoubleTree by Hilton Vail – Q2 2017DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai – Business Bay – Q3 2017DoubleTree by Hilton Queensferry Crossing – Q3 2017DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hollywood Beach – Q3 2017DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Penang – Q4 2017DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New York Times Square West, a new high-rise in the heart of Manhattan, is the 500th hotel to join the brand’s portfolio. The 37-storey property features 612 modern rooms, each with Theater District-inspired artwork and many with views of the city or the Hudson River. It’s steps from the Broadway theater district, Jacob Javits Convention Center, dozens of shops and restaurants, the Empire State Building and other New York attractions. << Previous PostNext Post >> Friday, March 10, 2017 last_img read more

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WestJet achieves highest load factor in its 21year history

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group WestJet achieves highest load factor in its 21-year history Tags: Load Factor, Trend Watch, WestJet Tuesday, September 12, 2017 center_img Share CALGARY — WestJet is flying high following news that it’s reached an all-time monthly record of 2.3 million guests in August.This translates to a load factor of 90.6%, the airline’s highest in its 21-year history and an increase of 4.1 percentage points year over year. Revenue passenger miles (RPMs), or traffic, increased 10.6% year of year, and capacity – measured in available seat miles (ASMs) – grew 5.6% over the same period.In August, WestJet flew 2.3 million guests, a year-over-year increase of 13.8%, or approximately 288,000 additional guests.“We are extremely pleased with our double-digit traffic growth, as we reported our highest ever load factor of 90.6 per cent, flew the most monthly number of guests in our twenty-one year history and set a new single day record on August 8th by flying 81,423 guests,” said WestJet President and CEO Gregg Saretsky. “My sincere thanks go out to our over 13,000 WestJetters for continuing to deliver our award-winning brand of friendly caring service over this record breaking summer season.”More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upThe news comes on the heels of WestJet’s announcement to enhance its codeshare partnership with Air France-KLM by launching the earn phase of the airlines’ reciprocal frequent flyer agreement. Passengers can now accumulate their choice of Flying Blue Miles or WestJet dollars on all WestJet, Air France, and KLM flights, opening 137 new destinations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East for Reward travel for our guests. Also in August, WestJet announced it will begin serving Denver International Airport daily from Calgary International Airport starting March 8, 2018. Posted bylast_img read more

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Gedeon ready to tackle the independent market with TPI

first_imgGedeon ready to tackle the independent market with TPI Posted by This is Part 2 of a two-part series. Click here to read Part 1.TORONTO — To most people, the differences between managing a travel provider made up of employees and managing a travel distributor made up of independent contractors are fairly obvious. But for Zeina Gedeon, the newly appointed CEO of Travel Professionals International (TPI) and former CEO of both Air Canada Vacations and TravelBrands, one thing remains the same: “Everything we do is related to understanding the needs of our primary customers.”In TPI’s case, this would be travel advisors, who Gedeon has been tasked with providing tools and programs to achieve their success. As reported on Travelweek.ca yesterday, Gedeon, who brings with her over 20 years of experience in the travel industry, has taken over the reins of TPI, effective immediately. In her new role, she will focus largely on growth and innovation.“TPI is the #1 Independent Advisor and agency network in Canada, however there is always room to grow. With increasing consolidation in our segment in Canada and also in the USA, it is important that TPI stays at the forefront of Advisor growth and revenue growth,” Gedeon tells Travelweek.In terms of acquisition goals, Gedeon says that TPI’s main focus is individual Advisor acquisition, followed by storefronts, followed by agency groups.To achieve sales and commission growth plans for existing advisors, the organization is focusing on higher margin products such as cruise, groups and FIT components, including those offered via Virtuoso. “We are increasing promotions, consumer events and lead-generation programs around these products via offline and online channels,” Gedeon adds.More news:  Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaAs for innovation, the team at TPI will be focusing on its exclusive Lynx marketing module, which allows advisors to utilize an automated content distribution system to push the latest promotions and information to their clients via their website, social media pages and email database.“In addition, we are reviewing further innovative tools to increase our back-office efficiencies in order to provide the highest level of service to our advisors at the lowest possible cost, which will free up further dollars to focus on advisor-facing initiatives,” she says.Of course, all this is necessary to help independent advisors overcome what Gedeon says is their greatest challenge: alternative booking methods.“The main challenge that Canadian independent travel advisors face in the market today is how to differentiate themselves from other booking methods such as direct booking online and OTAs,” she notes. “This can be done by arming themselves with the knowledge, expertise, customer relationships and excellent customer service skills, all of which is how travel advisors can show their value.”Despite these challenges, Gedeon believes that overall, the independent travel advisor segment in Canada is in good shape, and that it will continue to grow as more advisors see the value in working independently.More news:  Kory Sterling is TL Network Canada’s new Sales Manager Canada“For experienced travel advisors in a bricks and mortar setting, the majority of their bookings are from repeat clientele. There is no need for a travel advisor to sit in a storefront location when their major sales activities are via phone, email and social media interactions with existing clients. Event when it comes to new clients, the majority will come to the advisor through digital means or through referrals from existing clientele,” she says.“Once you take out the need for a retail location, that frees the travel advisor to work independently with the ability to take advantage of higher commission earning opportunities since they won’t be required to share their earnings to assist in covering the overhead costs of a retail agency.”Moving forward, how confident is Gedeon in her ability to maneuver her way around the specific needs of at-home agents?“Independent travel advisors come with a unique set of needs when compared to dealing either with end-consumers or with employees,” she says. “TPI has 24 years of experience in understanding the differences, and I will be leveraging that existing knowledge within the company to further focus on the needs of the independent market.” Friday, January 19, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Share Travelweek Group Tags: People, TPIlast_img read more

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LOT to ramp up service to North America including Toronto

first_img Travelweek Group WARSAW — Canada is getting more flights to Poland next summer, courtesy of LOT Polish Airlines.The carrier has announced that it will be increasing the frequency of flights on its North American routes that include the cities of Toronto, Los Angeles and Newark.As of June 1, LOT will offer the following long-haul services from Warsaw:Toronto: An increase from 9 to 12 flights per week (vis-à-vis the corresponding period last year)Los Angeles: An increase from 6 to 7 times per weekNewark: An increase from 4 to 5 times per week (weekly flights on the Rzeszów-Newark route will be maintained)According to the airline, the increase in frequency is made possible thanks to the expansion of its wide-body fleet planned for 2019, namely the delivery of new B787 Dreamliners. Currently, it has 11 Dreamliners in its fleet, including eight 787-8s (252 seats) and three 787-9s (294 seats).By the end of 2019, the total number of Dreamliners in LOT’s fleet will be 15, which would mean a 40% increase in transport capacity.More news:  Hotel charges Bollywood star $8.50 for two bananas and the Internet has thoughts“The increase in frequencies on those routes is very good news for our passengers. North America (USA and Canada) are our strategic long-distance markets. Enhanced passenger service to those destinations is consistent with LOT’s 2016-2020 strategy, as part of which the Warsaw Chopin Airport hub is to be developed,” says Robert Ludera, Director of Network Planning and Scheduling Department at LOT.The tickets for flights to, among other destinations, Toronto, Los Angeles and Newark, can be purchased using all available channels. Share Friday, December 7, 2018 Posted bycenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: LOT Polish Airlines, New Routes LOT to ramp up service to North America, including Torontolast_img read more

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The invasion continues Enerjet wants to relaunch as an ULCC in 2019

first_img Friday, December 21, 2018 Posted by TORONTO — Apparently Canada needs another ultra low-cost carrier – or at least, there’s another one on the way.One of the co-founders of WestJet, Tim Morgan, is heading up a consortium that includes Claridge Inc., a private investment firm chaired by Stephen Bronfman, and Stephenson Management Inc., where Cirque du Soleil chairman Mitch Garber has been chairman since 2008, to relaunch charter airline Enerjet as an ultra low-cost carrier in 2019.Enerjet has been in operation since November 2008 as a charter carrier primarily aimed at transporting oilsands workers, with a fleet of B737s.According to a statement posted Dec. 20, Enerjet, a licensed Canadian carrier, “will be rebranded, expanded and transformed into an affordable air-travel choice for Canadian travelers. This Canadian ULCC will offer a simple, ultra-low-cost fare structure and an extensive network of destinations across Canada and into the U.S.”Another investor is Indigo LLP, an Arizona-based private equity firm that specializes in budget carriers such as Singapore’s Tiger Airways and Florida’s Spirit Airlines. “We believe there are millions of Canadians who would jump at the chance to have a simple, safe, and affordable alternative to the sky-high costs of air travel,” says Morgan, who will serve as CEO. Morgan is a co-founder, former director and former chief operating officer at WestJet.“We are extremely pleased to have the backing of leading Canadian investors and our partners at Indigo. Together, this group has the financial capacity, experience, and operating expertise to transform Enerjet into a world-class, ultra-low-cost airline that will bring increased choice and competition to the Canadian market,” he added.Bill Franke, Indigo’s Managing Partner, says the consortium believes it can “significantly increase the size and competitiveness of Canada’s domestic and trans-border aviation market by offering an ultra low-cost alternative to the high cost of air travel. Our goal is to be in the market by this time next year to help more Canadians visit family and friends over the holidays and for years to come.”According to reports, Morgan has been trying to take Enerjet into the budget carrier market for some time, but encountered hurdles after three former executives he’d tapped for that purpose sued Calgary-based Enerjet for breach of contract in 2015. Canada has seen its share of low-cost carriers come and go over the years but interest in the sector has reached new heights. Flair is expanding, and WestJet, which got its start as a low-cost carrier in 1996, launched low-cost carrier Swoop this year. Air Canada Rouge recently marked its fifth anniversary. Most other mainline carriers have also launched their own LCCs and/or brought in basic economy fares. Canada Jetlines is still trying to get off the ground. Meanwhile Canada’s transatlantic routes have attracted several LCCs and ULCCs, to varying degrees of success, from the now-defunct Primera and slimmed-down WOW to Norwegian, slated to start its new Dublin flights out of Hamilton in spring 2019. With files from The Canadian Press << Previous PostNext Post >> The invasion continues: Enerjet wants to relaunch as an ULCC in 2019center_img Travelweek Group Tags: Enerjet, ULCC Sharelast_img read more

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Reading between the lines Reporting under threat in Guatemala

first_imgGuatemalan journalist Lucía Escobar was forced into hiding two years ago after she wrote an opinion piece in one of the national newspapers about a social-cleansing group operating in her home town of Panajachel. Courtesy of Lucía Escobar Facebook Comments GUATEMALA CITY – It’s no secret that Guatemala is a dangerous country. Its precarious positioning on the main corridor for U.S.-bound drugs, plus its violent past marked by nearly four decades of civil war make it one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman, and one of the most dangerous places in the Americas to be areporter.Journalism in the Central American country is a game of self-censorship: You say as much as you can about what is happening, and as little as you can about who is doing it. Those who speak out against impunity do so knowing that their words could cost them their lives. The desire to report reality often is offset by concerns for personal safety.Guatemalan journalist Lucía Escobar was forced into hiding two years ago after she wrote an opinion piece in one of the national newspapers about a social-cleansing group operating in her home town of Panajachel, 150 kilometers west of Guatemala City.“I denounced the activities of a masked group of vigilantes who were terrorizing the local population at night. It wasn’t the first time I had written about their crimes, but this time I named names. I publicly accused local leaders of promoting social cleansing and being responsible for the disappearance and probable death of a local carpenter, Gilberto Senté Senté,” she said.In the days following the publication of her column, Escobar received multiple threats via anonymous emails and was accused of drug trafficking by some of the individuals she had mentioned in her piece.“The former mayor of Panajachel, Gerardo Higueros, accompanied a local police chief and members of the municipality’s security council on a television program owned by Higueros. They disputed my opinion piece, threatened to kill me and said that I was a drug trafficker,” Escobar told The Tico Times.The Guatemalan journalist said that as a result of the threats, she feared for her family’s safety and considered moving to Costa Rica. However, thanks to help from international organizations she was able to relocate her family within Guatemala.“It’s difficult to be a journalist here, but it’s the only thing I can do for my country. It’s my passion, it’s my life and I believe in the role of the media in strengthening democracy,” she said.Of the four individuals that Escobar named in her column, one of them was sentenced to 19 years in prison and another to 17 years.Carlos Andrino, a Guatemalan reporter on a national television station, has compared being a journalist in Guatemala to being a journalist in Mexico – one of the most dangerous countries in the world to report from.“I’ve been a victim of intimidation and have received numerous death threats, primarily from drug-trafficking groups and gang members,” Andrino said. “However, thank God, they haven’t amounted to anything more than threats.”Andrino said he doesn’t believe the situation for journalists in Guatemala is improving. “On the contrary, I think that each day we take greater risks and are starting to live under the same conditions as Mexican journalists,” he said.In addition to physical threats directed at reporters, there are also monetary ones delivered directly to media organizations by powerful businesses who threaten to withhold advertisement if newspapers print something they do not agree with.During his 2011 election campaign, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina assured his government would allow journalists the freedom to express themselves through their writing, and earlier this year his administration launched a security program aimed at protecting journalists against organized crime. However, so far in 2013 four reporters have been killed in Guatemala, according to statistics from the Center for Informative Reports on Guatemala.Until the media is able to express itself without fear of repercussions, Guatemalans will be forced to read between the lines of their daily newspapers to discover what is going on in their country.center_img Related posts:Guatemala City street gets facelift, and what a difference it makes European Parliament recognizes Guatemala’s Ixil community with SOLIDAR award Central America Snapshot: For Guatemala’s Rigoberta Menchú, votes aren’t everything Atelier de Arte: Spreading artistic realism in Guatemalalast_img read more

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Panama Canal celebrates 100 years – while racing to keep up with

first_imgRelated posts:Panama Canal widening should be finished in early 2016 after $400 million boost Work resumes to expand Panama Canal Strike halts work on Panama Canal expansion Panama Canal expansion dredges up historical treasures See the Panama Canal in facts and figuresPANAMA CITY — Panama celebrated the 100th anniversary of its famous canal Friday with a ceremony and gala, even as it scrambled to make up lost time by enlarging it to maintain its competitiveness in the 21st century.The canal, an engineering masterwork that transformed global commerce, opened on August 15, 1914, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and saving ships the long, dangerous trip around South America.Guests marking the anniversary soaked up the sun at the canal’s Miraflores locks, singing “Happy Birthday” to the waterway and snapping pictures of a four-meter (13-foot) chocolate-cake replica of the locks as dancers performed traditional Panamanian numbers.Chief administrator Jorge Quijano said it was just a normal work day for the canal, which handles five percent of global maritime trade.“Today is a regular day of operations because like every day an average of 35 ships will shorten the distance between the Atlantic and the Pacific,” he said.The Greek vessel Galini inaugurated the canal’s second century, traveling the 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific, 100 years after the U.S. steamship Ancon opened the waterway.“There’s not just one Ancon steamer for the centenary of the canal. There are many,” said Quijano, who was later to host a VIP gala.But Panama is battling to keep the canal relevant as it starts a new century.The Suez Canal in Egypt has larger capacity, cutting into Panama’s share of global shipping traffic, and recently launched construction on a $4-billion “new Suez Canal” running parallel to the original.Closer to home, Nicaragua, which fought Panama more than a century ago to host the first canal across Central America, has emerged as a modern-day rival.The country has launched plans for a $40 billion, Chinese-built canal that would be able to handle modern mega-freighters too big for the Panama Canal’s current dimensions.To fend off the competition, the Panama Canal is adding a third set of locks to nearly triple its capacity.The $5.3 billion expansion will allow it to handle so-called “Post-Panamax” ships with a capacity of up to 15,000 containers, instead of the current maximum of 5,000.But the project has been plagued by delays, strikes and a bitter dispute over $1.6 billion in cost overruns with the consortium of companies carrying out the upgrade.The expansion was initially scheduled for completion this year — in time for the anniversary — but has now been pushed back to January 2016. Dancers perform during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal, on Friday in Panama City. AFPForeign project, Panamanian pride France launched the first attempt to build a canal across Panama in 1880, but tropical diseases, engineering shortfalls and financial problems forced it to abandon the project.In all, an estimated 27,000 workers from around the world died building the canal, mostly of malaria and yellow fever.The United States took over in 1904, after sending warships to back Panama’s secession from Colombia and signing a treaty with the newly independent country for control over the 16-kilometer-wide Canal Zone.The strategically crucial U.S. enclave became a source of resentment in Latin America at being considered the U.S.’s backyard.In 1977, U.S. president Jimmy Carter and his Panamanian counterpart Omar Torrijos signed a treaty handing the canal over to Panama on December 31, 1999.Operating the canal has been a boon for Panama, bringing in about $1 billion a year — equivalent to 10 percent of the government’s revenues and six percent of the national economy.The waterway provides 10,000 jobs and has helped make Panama one of the most dynamic economies in the region, with 8.4 percent growth last year.“It was born as a colonial enclave, and today it’s an engine of development,” said political analyst José Isabel Blandon. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Iran threatens swift retaliation on US bases

first_imgTEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran declared Wednesday that it can destroy nearby U.S. military bases and strike Israel within minutes of an attack on the Islamic Republic, reflecting tensions over Iran’s suspect nuclear program.The veiled threat came during a military drill that has included the firing of ballistic missiles. The elite Revolutionary Guards, conducting the war games in Iran’s central desert, said that the missiles were aimed at mock-ups of foreign military bases. On Tuesday Iran said it launched a variety of missiles during the desert drill, including Shahab-3 missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) that could reach Israel and southern Europe.(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 Patients with chronic pain give advice Sponsored Stories Israel and the U.S. have hinted at the possibility of military strikes against Iran if sanctions and diplomacy do not rein in Iran’s nuclear development program. The West suspects Iran may be aiming to build nuclear weapons. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes.The semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Gen. Ami Ali Hajizadeh of the Revolutionary Guards as saying U.S. bases are in range of Iran’s missiles and could be hit in retaliatory strikes. He referred to Israel as “occupied territories.”“Measures have been taken so that we could destroy all these bases in the early minutes of an attack,” said Hajizadeh, chief of the Guards’ air-space division.Israeli officials refused to comment. There was no immediate comment from Washington.Hajizadeh said the Guards also successfully test fired an anti-ship missile that could sink U.S. warships in the Gulf. Gen. Hajizadeh told state TV that the shore-to-sea ballistic missile, called “Persian Gulf,” has a range of 300 kilometers (180 miles).State TV showed video of the launching of a white missile that hit a huge target in Gulf waters.The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, an island in the Gulf about 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Iran, well within range of Iranian missiles. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Quick workouts for men Four benefits of having a wireless security system Comments   Share   Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathslast_img read more

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Polish rescuers of Jews celebrated as heroes

first_img“It wasn’t considered anything to be proud of,” said Ewa Ligia Zdanowicz , an 81-year-old whose parents hid a Jewish teenage girl in their home during the war.That era is over.A moving gathering of dozens of the rescuers on Sunday in Warsaw shows just how much has changed in Poland in the 23 years since communism fell. Dozens of Polish rescuers were celebrated and dined over a kosher lunch in an upscale hotel where Jewish representatives took turns praising them in speeches for their heroism.The rescuers themselves deny that they are exceptional. With each other, they discuss other things, often their failing health, avoiding memories of executions and other brutality that they witnessed and which still bring them to tears.“We did what we had to do,” said Halina Szaszkiewicz, 89. “There was nothing heroic about it.”But the Jewish officials honoring them see it differently.“You, the righteous of the world, think your behavior was ordinary, but we all know it was something more than that. It was truly extraordinary,” Stanlee Stahl, the executive vice president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, the group that organized the luncheon, told them in a speech. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Check your body, save your life Top Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Comments   Share   Those in attendance have all been recognized by Israel’s Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among the Nations,” non-Jews sometimes referred to colloquially as “righteous gentiles.”These days it isn’t just grateful Jews who remember. The Polish state also honors and celebrates them, as appreciation grows for Poland’s vanished Jewish community _ the largest in the world before the Holocaust. It is treated as long overdue recognition befitting a democratic nation.But it’s also clear that officials seize with pride on this historical chapter to fight the stereotype of Poland as an anti-Semitic country _ a label that is painful to many Poles and which carries some truth, but also masks a hugely complex reality.Many Jews today still remember anti-Semitism that their families suffered in Poland, not just from Germans _ who carried out the Holocaust _ but also from Poles whom they had lived alongside for centuries. Yet Poland also produced the greatest number of rescuers. To date, more than 6,350 non-Jews in Poland have been recognized by Yad Vashem, more than any other country, Israeli Ambassador Zvi Rav-Ner said.Yad Vashem’s statistics show that after Poland, the Netherlands has the most number of “righteous” _ 5,204 _ followed by France’s 3,513. Rav-Ner travels around Poland to bestow Yad Vashem’s “Righteous Among the Nations” award on newly recognized rescuers, and he has observed how Poles have become less and less afraid of having their wartime actions being made public. In a handful of cases, people asked to have quiet ceremonies at the Israeli Embassy rather than public events in their communities. But this is increasingly a rare exception.“Now most are proud to have it made public. That’s the big change,” Rav-Ner said. “Before, people did go to Israel and met the people they saved, but in a hushed way. I wouldn’t say secretive, but they didn’t make it public.”The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, based in New York, was founded in 1986 to provide financial help to those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. Today, it sends money to more than 750 elderly and needy rescuers in 22 countries. The foundation also runs an educational program in the U.S. that works to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and the rescuers.The gathering Sunday was tinged with a sad awareness that the number of the rescuers is dwindling. At the last such gathering, in 2010, 75 of them showed up, but on Sunday there were only about 55. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Associated PressWARSAW, Poland (AP) – For decades, nobody really talked about them: the thousands of Poles, mostly Roman Catholics, who risked their lives during World War II to save Jewish friends, neighbors and even strangers.Those discovered by the Germans were executed quickly, often with their entire families. And then, under communism, there was silence. The Jewish survivors would send letters and gifts in gratitude. But the Polish state ignored the rescuers. And they themselves kept quiet, out of modesty, or shame or fear of anti-Semitism. Sometimes they worried gift packages from the West would arouse the jealousy of neighbors in a period of economic deprivation. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Stahl said that in the meantime, some have died, while others are now simply too weak to leave their homes.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

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Owner will rename Hitler clothing shop in India

first_imgShah said he received dozens of phone calls asking that he rename the shop. Israel’s consul general in Mumbai had also asked state officials to intervene.Shah says he didn’t know about Hitler’s history, but people in the city say the name was a marketing gimmick.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Parents, stop beating yourself up Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix How do cataracts affect your vision? AHMADABAD, India (AP) – The owner of the “Hitler” clothing shop in western India says he will remove the sign and rename his store after hearing people’s complaints.Rajesh Shah said Tuesday he had chosen the name in memory of his grandfather, a strict disciplinarian whom the family referred to as “Hitler.”The shop in Ahmadabad, the main city in Gujarat state, opened last month with a huge sign reading “Hitler” and a Nazi swastika inside the dot in the letter “i.” Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories last_img read more

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Somalia Militants said to leave last stronghold

first_img Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Somalia elected a new president last week and he is expected to set up the country’s first functioning government since warlords overthrew a longtime dictator in 1991 and turned against one another. Two days after being elected, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud survived an attack by suicide bombers who detonated explosives at his temporary residence.At the United Nations in New York, the Security Council welcomed Mohamud’s election as a milestone in the troubled nation’s “path to a more stable and accountable” government, but warned much remains to be done to improve security, human rights and fight corruption.British U.N. ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the council voted unanimously Tuesday to endorse Mohamud’s inauguration, signaling the end of an 8-year-long U.N.-backed transition which helped establish a parliament and constitution.“Somalia now has a real opportunity to progress toward a more peaceful future,” Grant said. “The end of the transition is however only the beginning. Somalia still faces a significant threat from al-Shabab.”A high-level meeting on Somalia will be held at this month’s U.N. General Assembly, where Mohamud will have a chance “to set out his vision for Somalia,” Grant said. Regaining Kismayo has “always been a long-term objective” of the U.N.-backed AU force, Grant said.___Odula contributed to this report from Nairobi, Kenya. Associated Press writer Ron DePasquale contributed from the United Nations.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories The spokesman for the Kenyan army, which is part of the African Union forces fighting al-Shabab militants, said the fighters were fleeing because they sensed defeat. Col. Cyrus Oguna said the al-Shabab militants are moving toward the town of Jilib about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of Kismayo. Oguna said Kenyan forces are about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Kismayo in a town called Jana Cabdalla.Kismayo resident Hassan also said the militants are moving toward the town of Jilib but that it was not clear if they had abandoned all their positions in Kismayo.However an al-Shabab spokesman said on Twitter that the reports of militants fleeing Kismayo are “blatant lies.”“The Islamic administration in (hash)Kismayo is going about its business as usual, & the city remains calm & firmly under the control of HSM,” one posting said.Claims and counter-claims made during fighting in Somalia are difficult to verify.But Yusuf Hashi, another Kismayo resident, said that a few fighters in military dress could be seen along Kismayo’s streets. He said government buildings were empty.“It feels like the town is under no one’s control now. We hope there’ll be no fighting but a peaceful change,” he said. Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project GALKAYO, Somalia (AP) – Fighters from Somalia’s Islamist extremist rebels have started to leave their remaining coastal stronghold in the face of advancing allied African troops, residents and a military official said Tuesday.Armed militants from al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaida, left the coastal town of Kismayo in pickup trucks after freeing prisoners in the town’s jail, Muse Hassan, a Kismayo resident said by phone. Oguna said the militants had dismantled the transmitters for Radio al-Andalus which the group used to broadcast propaganda.Abdirashid Hashi, a horn of Africa analyst with the International Crisis Group, says he is not surprised that the militants are moving. The militants have not put up cohesive resistance in the southern Somali towns they once controlled, he said, noting that al-Shabab doesn’t have the firepower to match the tanks, warships and military planes the Kenyan military is using in southern Somalia.Hashi said the capture of Kismayo by the allied force is imminent and would be a significant victory against the militants who until August 2011 controlled large parts of the capital city, Mogadishu, and much of southern Somalia. However, he said al-Shabab would remain a threat as an insurgent force using hit-and-run attacks for a long while.Oguna said when faced with overwhelming force al-Shabab fighters often hide their guns and melt into the population so it is difficult to say how many al-Shabab fighters remain in Kismayo.The U.N.’s refugee agency said Tuesday that at least 5,200 residents have fled Kismayo since Sept 1.Kismayo residents have said that al-Shabab barred them from the leaving the town with threats of brutal punishment. Al-Shabab is known for carrying out lashings, amputations and stonings.last_img read more

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US general Taliban likely to be longterm threat

first_img Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (AP) – The United States accepts that a diminished but resilient Taliban is likely to remain a military threat in some parts of Afghanistan long after U.S. troops complete their combat mission next year, the top U.S. military officer says.In an Associated Press interview at this air field north of Kabul, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday he is cautiously optimistic that the Afghan army will hold its own against the insurgency as Western troops pull back and Afghans assume the lead combat role. He said that by May or June, the Afghans will be in the lead throughout the country. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Top holiday drink recipes Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Asked whether some parts of the country will remain contested by the Taliban, he replied, “Yes, of course there will be.”“And if we were having this conversation 10 years from now, I suspect there would (still) be contested areas because the history of Afghanistan suggests that there will always be contested areas,” he said.He and other U.S. commanders have said that ultimately the Afghans must reach some sort of political accommodation with the insurgents, and that a reconciliation process needs to be led by Afghans, not Americans. Thus the No. 1 priority for the U.S. military in its final months of combat in Afghanistan is to do all that is possible to boost the strength and confidence of Afghan forces.Shortly after Dempsey arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday, the Taliban demonstrated its ability to strike.It claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed five Americans _ three soldiers and two civilians, including Anne Smedinghoff, a foreign service officer and the first American diplomat killed overseas since the terrorist attack Sept. 11 in Benghazi, Libya.A fierce battle between U.S.-backed Afghan forces and Taliban militants in a remote corner of eastern Afghanistan left nearly 20 people dead, including 11 Afghan children killed in an airstrike, Afghan officials said Sunday. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement In a separate interview Sunday with al-Hurra, the Arabic-language satellite TV channel funded by the U.S. government, Dempsey was asked whether he worries that Syria, in the midst of a civil war, could become another Afghanistan.“I do. I have grave concerns that Syria could become an extended conflict” that drags on for many years, he said.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) There are now about 66,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. That number is to drop to about 32,000 by February 2014, and the combat mission is to end in December 2014. Whether some number _ perhaps 9,000 or 10,000 _ remain into 2015 as military trainers and counterinsurgents is yet to be decided.Dempsey spent two days talking to senior Afghan officials, including his counterpart, Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, as well as top U.S. and allied commanders.He also visited a U.S. base in the volatile eastern province of Paktika for an update on how U.S. troops are balancing the twin missions of advising Afghan forces and withdrawing tons of U.S. equipment as the war effort winds down.Paktika is an example of a sector of Afghanistan that is likely to face Taliban resistance for years to come.Bordering areas of Pakistan that provide haven for the Taliban and its affiliated Haqqani network, Paktika has been among the more important insurgent avenues into the Afghan interior.While the province has a functioning government, Taliban influence remains significant in less populated areas, as it has since U.S. forces first invaded the country more than 11 years ago.“There will be contested areas, and it will be the Afghans’ choice whether to allow those contested areas to persist, or, when necessary, take action to exert themselves into those contested area,” he said. Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Dempsey said he is encouraged by the recent development of coordination centers, including one in Paktika, where a wide range of Afghan government agencies work together on security issues. He called it a “quilt” of government structures that links Kabul, the capital, to ordinary Afghans in distant villages.In some parts of the country, Afghan villagers have shown their dissatisfaction with Taliban influence by taking up arms against the insurgents, even without being pushed by the U.S. or by Kabul. This has happened in recent weeks in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, a traditional stronghold of the Taliban. The Andar district of Ghazni province has seen a similar uprising.“We should encourage it, but we shouldn’t be seen as hijacking” these local movements, he said.Dempsey said he discussed the uprisings with Karimi, the army chief, and the Afghan defense minister, Bismullah Khan Mohammadi. They told him they “appreciated that they should allow this to occur (and) they should probably nurture it. They don’t necessarily feel at this point as if they should tangibly support it.”The Afghan government’s concern, Dempsey said, is that influential warlords could embrace these local movements and eventually leverage them to threaten the armed forces of the central government.last_img read more

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International court seeks Ivory Coast suspect

first_img Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies _____Associated Press correspondents Marc-Andre Boisvert and Robbie Corey-Boulet contributed to this story from Abidjan and Dakar, Senegal.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Ivory Coast government representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.Under war crimes law, a country generally has the right and obligation to try war crimes suspects at home. The International Criminal Court only has jurisdiction in cases where a country that belongs to the court’s founding treaty is unwilling or unable to prosecute a criminal.However, once a suspect has been identified by the international court, a country has to negotiate with it over jurisdiction _ an obligation that is at times ignored. The court is currently enmeshed in a similar dispute over Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, who is being held in Libya, despite demands by the ICC that he be extradited in order to receive a fair trial.Ble Goude’s international lawyer, Nick Kaufman, has said he doubts Ble Goude can receive a fair trial in Ivory Coast. Ble Goude is “a man of peace, and he maintains his innocence on the charges,” Kaufman said Tuesday. He added that the Ivorian government has not allowed him to visit Ble Goude.Herve Gouamene, who is defending Ble Goude in Ivory Coast, said he didn’t think Ivorian courts or government will surrender Ble Goude. “We are ready to defend our client in Ivory Coast,” he said. AMSTERDAM (AP) – The International Criminal Court on Tuesday unsealed an arrest warrant for a top aide of the Ivory Coast’s former president, accusing him of committing crimes against humanity as commander of youth militias that took part in 2010 post-election violence.The court’s revelation that it has quietly been seeking to arrest 40-year-old Charles Ble Goude since 2011 for alleged murder, rape, persecution and other inhuman acts sets up the prospect of a jurisdictional fight with his home country. Ble Goude is in custody in Ivory Coast, and authorities there have indicated they intend to try him at home.center_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Pretrial judges at the court in The Hague, Netherlands, say that forces loyal to former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo _ who is already in the court’s custody _ systematically targeted civilians who supported his then-opponent, current President Alassane Ouattara. The court’s arrest warrant describes Ble Goude as a member of Gbagbo’s “inner circle.”Ble Goude fled his country after Ouattara came to power, and he was arrested in Ghana and extradited to Ivory Coast in January.Prosecutors say some 3,000 people died in the 2010-2011 postelection violence, with crimes committed on both sides. However, to date the International Criminal Court has only issued arrest warrants for Gbagbo, his wife Simone Gbagbo, and now Ble Goude.On Tuesday, the Ivory Coast government filed a formal request with the international court to remand Simone Gbagbo’s case back to Ivory Coast, arguing the West African country’s own justice system is ready to handle it.ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said the warrant against Ble Goude revealed Tuesday obliges Ivory Coast to extradite him. The spokesman said the court unsealed it Tuesday because judges thought there was no longer any point of keeping it confidential. Ivory Coast’s justice minister mentioned its existence on television last month. Top Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

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Pakistani party turns up heat on CIA drone strikes

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies ___Associated Press writer Lara Jakes in Washington contributed to this report.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Friction has increased in recent weeks with a pair of especially contentious strikes: one that killed the Pakistani Taliban’s leader as the government prepared to invite him to hold peace talks, and another that occurred outside the boundaries of the country’s tribal region where most attacks have taken place.But the U.S. has shown no willingness to abandon a tool it views as critical to fighting al-Qaida and Taliban militants based in Pakistan who are outside the reach of American soldiers.Pakistani officials regularly criticize the strikes as a violation of the country’s sovereignty and say they kill too many civilians. That has made the drone program very unpopular with the Pakistani public. But the Pakistani government and military are known to have secretly supported at least some of the attacks in the past.One of the biggest drone critics has been the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which is led by cricket star Imran Khan and controls the government in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has pushed the federal government, which is controlled by a rival party, to take extreme measures like cutting off the NATO troop supply line to Afghanistan until the U.S. stops the attacks. Top Stories The CIA pulled its top spy out of Pakistan in December 2010 after a Pakistani lawsuit accused him of killing civilians in drone strikes. The lawsuit listed a name lawyers said was the station chief, but the AP learned at the time it was not correct. Nevertheless, the CIA pulled the station chief out of the country after militants threatened to kill him.It’s rare for a CIA station chief to see his cover blown. In 1999, an Israeli newspaper revealed the identity of the station chief in Tel Aviv. In 2001, an Argentine newspaper printed a picture of the Buenos Aires station chief and details about him. In both instances, the station chiefs were recalled to the U.S.The station chief in Islamabad operates as a secret general in the U.S. war against terrorism. He runs the Predator drone program targeting terrorists, handles some of the CIA’s most urgent and sensitive tips and collaborates closely with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.The CIA station chief who ran operations in Pakistan during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden left his post in 2011 due to illness, U.S. and Pakistani officials say. American officials said at the time that the station chief clashed with the U.S. ambassador in Pakistan, who objected to CIA drone strikes during diplomatic negotiations. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s information secretary, Shireen Mazari, sent a letter to police Wednesday calling for the CIA station chief in Islamabad and agency director John Brennan to be tried for murder and “waging war against Pakistan” in connection with a drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu district on Nov. 21.CIA spokesman Dean Boyd would not confirm the Islamabad station chief’s name and declined to immediately comment. The Associated Press is not publishing the name given by Mazari because it could not verify its authenticity.It was the second time in recent years that Pakistanis opposed to drone strikes targeting Islamic militants have claimed to have revealed the identity of the top CIA spy in the country.Mazari claimed in her letter that the station chief did not enjoy diplomatic immunity and should be prevented from leaving the country. Interrogating him could produce the names of the pilots who fly the drones, she said.A spokeswoman for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Anila Khawaja, declined to say where the party obtained the station chief’s name.Mazari said in a news conference that the strike in Hangu killed four Pakistanis and two Afghans, and also wounded children. ISLAMABAD (AP) – A Pakistani political party launched a full-throated attack on the CIA drone program on Wednesday, turning up the heat on an issue that the government in Islamabad has tried to manage without sparking a crisis with the U.S. The party revealed what it said was the name of the CIA’s top spy in the country and called for him to be tried for murder.U.S. missile attacks targeting Islamic militants in Pakistan’s northwest have long been a source of tension between the two countries, complicating an already troubled alliance that Washington is relying on to help negotiate an end to the war in neighboring Afghanistan. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Comments   Share   center_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Pakistani intelligence officials say the attack killed five Afghan militants, one of whom was a deputy to the leader of one of the most dangerous groups fighting American troops in Afghanistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.The Hangu district police chief, Iftikhar Ahmad, said at the time of the attack that no one was seriously wounded.The strike was one of the first to take place outside of Pakistan’s tribal region and outraged members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.Human rights organizations have also criticized drone strikes in Pakistan, questioning their legality and saying they have killed hundreds of civilians. The U.S. rarely discusses the covert drone program in Pakistan publicly, but officials have insisted it’s legal and that the civilian casualty figures are much lower.Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf pledged on Saturday to block trucks carrying NATO troop supplies to and from Afghanistan until the U.S. ended drone attacks. Protesters stopped trucks and roughed up drivers before the police intervened to stop them. The NATO supply trucks remain stuck though, because transportation officials are still worried about what protesters will do. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

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4 dead in renewed violence in Bangladesh

first_img Top Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Opposition parties are also protesting the government’s decision to move ahead with Jan. 5 national elections. The opposition wants the government to resign and hand over power to an independent caretaker to oversee the vote.Hasina has vowed to continue the trials of the war crimes suspects and push ahead with the elections despite calls from opposition leader and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to resign.Mollah’s party is a key ally of Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party.Most of those being tried for war crimes are connected to the country’s opposition. Jamaat-e-Islami is barred from taking part in next month’s elections.Bangladesh will celebrate the nation’s victory day on Monday. Pakistani soldiers surrendered to a joint Indian-Bangladeshi force on Dec. 16, 1971. India helped Bangladesh, then the eastern wing of Pakistan, in its fight for independence. Bangladesh celebrates March 26 as its independence day.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Three men died of bullet wounds following clashes in Lalmonirhat district in northern Bangladesh, said Praful Kumar, a doctor at a government-run hospital.Another man died and 15 people were wounded in similar violence between police and Jamaat-e-Islami activists in the northern district of Joypurhat, Somoy TV reported.The new violence took place amid growing political tensions in the country. At least 24 people have been killed in clashes involving opposition and pro-government activists and police since Mollah was executed Thursday.His party says the execution was politically motivated. Authorities said he was tried and convicted according to law.Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators including Mollah, killed at least 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the nine-month war against Pakistan.Also on Sunday, thousands of businessmen linked hands in the streets of Dhaka, the capital, and other major cities, calling for peace and shunning violence. They carried white flags symbolizing reconciliation. Many of their businesses have suffered because of a string of general strikes and blockades enforced by the opposition in recent months.While Jamaat-e-Islami protested the execution, many among Bangladesh’s 160 million people have praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for trying and executing Mollah. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Parents, stop beating yourself up Sponsored Stories DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) – Police in Bangladesh opened fire Sunday to try to stop rampaging activists of an Islamist party who were protesting the execution of one of its leaders, leaving at least four people dead.The violence took place as the Jamaat-e-Islami party enforced a daylong general strike across the South Asian nation following last week’s execution of Abdul Quader Mollah for war crimes committed during Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war against Pakistan. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Check your body, save your lifelast_img read more

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Suspect in Tunisia attack claims innocence at 1st hearing

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Tunisia has 40 days to provide Milan prosecutors with documentation and the extradition request, which prosecutors have three months to examine, Fiorentino said. She said she was hoping to have Touil freed in the meantime.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. They said Touil arrived in Sicily with a boatload of rescued migrants on Feb. 17, but Tunisian authorities have said he provided “indirect” support to the Islamic extremists responsible for the attack.Touil told the judge he had nothing to do with the massacre and had been in Italy ever since he arrived, his lawyer, Silvia Fiorentino, told reporters.Fiorentino said Touil refused to be handed over to Tunisian authorities, setting the stage for an extradition procedure that may be complicated by Italy’s refusal to extradite people to countries with the death penalty. She said Touil didn’t understand why he was in prison, but that overall he was in good health.Even though Touil was ordered expelled from Italy after he arrived in Sicily, his Italian teacher has told prosecutors he was in class near Milan the days before and after the Bardo attack, making it all but impossible that he was physically present in Tunis.Interior Minister Angelino Alfano initially hailed the “investigative success” and the anti-terrorism coordination between Italy and Tunisia that brought about Touil’s arrest. But as evidence mounted that Touil wasn’t in Tunisia at the time of the attack, Alfano distanced Italy from Tunisia’s accusations, saying police were merely executing an international arrest warrant. ROME (AP) — The Moroccan migrant accused of being involved in Tunisia’s Bardo Museum massacre insisted Friday on his innocence and refused to voluntarily be turned over to Tunisian authorities.Abdelmajid Touil, 22, had his first hearing in Milan’s San Vittore prison after police arrested him on a Tunisian arrest warrant. Prosecutors said the warrant accused him of helping plot and execute the March 18 attack in Tunis that left 22 people dead. Top Stories How do cataracts affect your vision? Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Comments   Share   In this photo taken on Feb. 17 2015, Abdelmajid Touil, right, waits to be disembarked in Porto Empedocle, Sicily, Italy. Touil Abdelmajid was arrested Tuesday evening at the home of his mother in Gaggiano, near Milan. Italian police have arrested the Moroccan man on a Tunisian arrest warrant accusing him of helping organize and execute the March 18 attack on Tunisia’s Bardo museum that left 22 people dead, authorities said. (Pasquale Claudio Montana Lampo/ANSA via AP Photo) – ITALY OUT Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonalast_img read more

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Tariq Aziz top aide to Saddam Hussein dies in hospital

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies BAGHDAD (AP) — Tariq Aziz, the debonair Iraqi diplomat who made his name by staunchly defending Saddam Hussein to the world during three wars and was later sentenced to death as part of the regime that killed hundreds of thousands of its own people, has died in a hospital in southern Iraq, officials said. He was 79.Aziz died on Friday afternoon after he was taken to the al-Hussein hospital in the city of Nasiriyah, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Baghdad, according to the provincial governor, Yahya al-Nassiri. Aziz had been in custody in a prison in the south, awaiting execution. Aziz was the highest-ranking Christian in Saddam’s regime was its international face for years. He was sentenced in October 2010 to hang for persecuting members of the Shiite Muslim religious parties that now dominate Iraq.A Baghdad government official confirmed the death of Aziz. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.Al-Nassiri, the governor of Dhi Qar province where Nasiriyah is the capital, said Aziz’s wife Violet had visited him on Thursday in prison and spent about an hour with him. Aziz had suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure for a long time, and he was a chain smoker, the governor added. Local Iraqi authorities on Friday told the family it can take Aziz’s body from the hospital morgue.The only Christian among Saddam’s inner circle, Aziz’s religion rescued him from the hangman’s noose that was the fate of other members of the top regime leadership.After he was sentenced to death, the Vatican asked for mercy for him as a Christian. Iraq’s president at the time, Jalal Talabani, then refused to give the death sentence his required signature, citing Aziz’s age and religion. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Al-Nassiri said that Aziz was immediately taken to the hospital when the heart attack occurred. “The medical staff did their best to rescue him, but they failed. It is God’s will,” he added.Even before he was sentenced, the ailing Aziz appeared to know that he would die in custody. He had had several strokes while in custody undergoing trial multiple times for various regime crimes.“I have no future. I have no future,” Aziz told The Associated Press, looking frail and speaking with difficulty because of a recent stroke, in a jailhouse interview in September 2010. At that stage, he had been sentenced to more than two decades in prison.“I’m sick and tired but I wish Iraq and Iraqis well,” he said.Elegant and eloquent, Aziz spoke fluent English, smoked Cuban cigars and was loyal to Saddam to the last, even naming one of his son’s after the dictator. His posts included that of foreign minister and deputy prime minister, and he sat on the Revolutionary Command Council, the highest body in Saddam’s regime.His main role was as the regime’s go-to man to communicate with the West. To the world, he was one of the most recognizable faces from Iraq during Saddam’s rule: silver haired, with a mustache and trademark dark-rimmed glasses. A skilled operator in the halls of the United Nations, he was the regime’s front-man in dealing with U.N. inspectors trying to track and assure the dismantling of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technologycenter_img His interlocutors variously described him as courtly, articulate, arrogant and unhesitant to make even the most preposterous denials of evidence put before him by inspectors about weapons programs.“He didn’t agree with our basic tasks and I didn’t agree with his tasks to hide and mislead us. But I think we respected each other,” Rolf Ekeus, head of the inspectors from 1991 to 1997, later said of Aziz.As bombs rained down on Baghdad during the U.S.-led 2003 invasion, Aziz said of American forces, “We will receive them with the best music they have ever heard and the best flowers that have ever grown in Iraq … We don’t have candy; we can only offer them bullets.”His freedom ended shortly afterward. The U.S. military knocked on his door in Baghdad on April 24, 2003, and he surrendered without resistance.Still, his prominence as an international spokesman — and his outsider status as a Christian in a Sunni Muslim-dominated regime — gave supporters fuel to argue that he was not a real decision-maker in Saddam’s regime and was less to blame in the torture and bloody crackdowns it inflicted on Iraqis.Aziz was born to a Chaldean Catholic family in Tell Kaif, Iraq, in 1936. He studied English literature at Baghdad College of Fine Arts and became a teacher and journalist. He joined the Baath Party in 1957, working closely with Saddam to overthrow British-imposed monarchy. FILE – FILE – In this Sept. 5, 2010 file photo, Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein’s long time foreign minister, speaks to the Associated Press in Baghdad, Iraq. Officials say Aziz has died in a hospital in southern Iraq on Friday, June 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban, File) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Saddam took charge in 1979. Aziz was deputy prime minister a year later, when attackers hurled a grenade at him in downtown Baghdad. Several people were killed; Aziz was injured. It was one of several attacks Saddam blamed on Iran — part of his justification for the expulsion of large numbers of Shiite Muslims and Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran.Aziz was instrumental in restoring diplomatic relations with the United States in 1984, after a 17-year break. At the time, Washington backed Iraq as a buffer against Iran’s Islamic extremism.That changed after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Aziz met in January 1991 with then-Secretary of State James A. Baker in Geneva in a failed attempt to prevent the Gulf War, and the U.S. broke off ties with Saddam’s government for good. He also met with the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican just weeks before the March 2003 invasion in a bid to stop it.Years later in court, Aziz again defended Saddam.A star defense witness for his former boss in 2006, a thin and pale-looking Aziz in checkered pajamas — a far cry from the designer suits he once sported — insisted Saddam had no choice but to crack down in the Shiite town of Dujail after a 1982 shooting attack on the president’s motorcade there blamed on Shiite opponents. Aziz is survived by his wife and two sons, Ziad and Saddam, who live in Jordan and who had long lobbied that he be allowed to receive medical treatment outside Iraq.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories “If the head of state comes under attack, the state is required by law to take action,” said Aziz.And in the trial of six former Saddam officials charged with the 1980s crackdown on Kurds that killed an estimated 100,000 people, Aziz claimed, “There was no genocide against the Kurds … Those defendants were honest officers who defended their country and fought Iran.”Aziz himself stood trial in seven cases — nearly all on charges of crimes against humanity related to Saddam’s campaigns against Shiite political parties and Kurds. He was convicted in all but two, and sentenced to death by hanging in October 2010 for his involvement in the former regime’s bloody persecution of Shiites.As his death verdict was read in court, Aziz sat alone and quiet, and grasped a handrail surrounding the defendant’s box. By that time, he had suffered a stroke in jail that had left him badly weakened and temporarily mute.But even as he was ordered executed, Aziz gained a powerful diplomatic ally. The Vatican asked that Aziz’s life be spared, saying mercy would encourage reconciliation and the rebuilding of peace and justice in Iraq. The Vatican’s plea picked up support among several other European diplomats from nations that also oppose the death penalty — though few had made much pressure to stop earlier executions of other, Muslim members of Saddam’s regime.last_img read more

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No sms and emails for Aussies on holiday

first_imgAustralian travellers are keen to leave texting and emails at home while on vacation, opting to communicate with family and friends via phone call. According to a Medina Apartment Hotels survey 47 percent of Australians find it easier to keep in touch via a phone conversation during their holidays while another 23 percent preferred not to keep in touch at all. The survey of Aussie travelling habits found travellers are also willing to throw out the credit card, choosing to soak up culture and architecture over shopping. Medina Apartment director of brands and communication Lisa Phillips said the study helped the hotel group collect insight from guests. “The results have reinforced our commitment to Medina’s core brand offerings – sleek, stylish and spacious apartment hotels in great city locations,” Ms Phillips said. “Medina apartments are also a great solution for the quarter of respondents that crave a home cooked meal while they’re away!” According to survey results up to 60 percent of respondents said the location of the hotel came out on top of other facilities while 16 percent said they selected hotels based on the amount of space in the room.The survey was conducted online and received up to 1382 respondents. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

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