Alaska welcomes one millionth cruise ship visitor in 2016

first_imgTags: Alaska, CLIA, Holland America Line Posted by Friday, September 23, 2016 JUNEAU, ALASKA – Alaska has welcomed its one millionth cruise ship visitor for the first time in seven years, a milestone that was proudly proclaimed by Governor Bill Walker himself.From now on, Sept. 22, 2016 will forever be known as ‘Alaska Cruise Ship Visitor Day.’ On this day in Juneau, Wendy Yoisten of Alberta, who was travelling with her husband John onboard Holland America Line’s ms Zaandam, was welcomed by Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott, Juneau Mayor Ken Koelsch, CLIA Alaska President John Binkley and a number of local officials as the state’s official one millionth cruise ship visitor. She was given a medallion, plaque and a basket of gifts from local businesses.Of her arrival in Juneau, Binkley said: “We are so excited to welcome you to Alaska and our capital city of Juneau. Your arrival is a significant milestone. Reaching one million cruise visitors this year demonstrates the health and bright future in our industry.”More news:  Can you guess the top Instagrammed wedding locations in the world?In his remarks, Lt. Gov. Mallot recognized the Governor’s proclamation, which states that visitor spending generates more than US$4 billion in economic activity. He added that cruise ships bring approximately half of all visitors to Alaska, while Mayor Koelsch highlighted Juneau’s position as Alaska’s most popular cruise ship port.The industry is expected to bring even more visitors next year as Alaska continues to increase capacity. Holland America Line recently announced that it will be adding a seventh ship to the Alaska market next year. Seabourn has also announced that it will be returning to Alaska in 2017 for the first time in 15 years.The last time Alaska saw more than 1,000,000 cruise visitors was 2009. “Following years of amazing growth, Alaska took a big hit. We lost about 15% of our market,” Binkley said. “Alaska is now seeing the benefits of the improved tax and regulatory environment enacted in 2010. Demand has also improved, following several years of significantly increased destination marketing. We have been able to build back our industry and all indications are that we will continue to grow.” Alaska welcomes one millionth cruise ship visitor in 2016center_img Travelweek Group Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Wildfires damage Californias famed wine country

first_img By: Haven Daley and Janie HarSource: The Associated Press Tuesday, October 10, 2017 Share Tags: California, Travel Alert NAPA, Calif. — Workers in Northern California’s renowned wine country picked through charred debris and plotted what to do with pricey grapes after wildfires swept through lush vineyards, destroying at least two wineries and damaging many others.The wind-driven wildfires came as Napa and Sonoma counties were finishing highly anticipated harvests of wine grapes. Monday normally would have found workers picking and processing the ripe grapes to make chardonnay and other wines.Instead, melted and blackened wine bottles decorated the ruined Signorello Estate winery in Napa Valley. People at Paradise Ridge Winery in Sonoma County posted photos of debris and haze, saying they were “heartbroken to share the news” that the winery had burned.A maintenance worker watched and hoped for the best Monday as flames crept down a hillside by the Gundlach Bundschu Winery.“It’s right behind the main office. It’s working its way down the hillside. What can I say? It’s slowly working its way in,” Tom Willis said.The Napa Valley Vintners, a trade association, said Monday that most wineries were closed because of power outages, evacuation orders and employees who couldn’t get to work. The organization said it did not have firm numbers on wineries burned or how the smoke might affect this year’s harvest or the industry in general. But it said most grapes had already been picked.More news:  Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youthAbout 12 per cent of grapes grown in California are in Sonoma, Napa and surrounding counties, said Anita Oberholster, a co-operative extension specialist in enology at the University of California, Davis. But they are the highest value grapes, leading to the highest value wines, she said.It’s hard to predict correctly, but she said chances are good this year’s crop won’t carry much smoke damage.“Even if wines now were heavily affected by smoke, it doesn’t carry over to the next season, only in the fruit itself,” she said.Gloria Ferrer, Ravenswood and Kenwood were among well-known wineries closed for the day because of the fires, according to social media posts. Chateau Montelena Winery, which helped put California on the global wine map when it won a French wine-tasting competition in 1976, escaped damage.Wineries that escaped damage grappled with the lack of power, which they need to process the grapes.“Some of our growers did pick for us last night. So we had to unload the fruit into our cold barrel room and wait until tomorrow to process it,” said Alisa Jacobson, vice-president of winemaking at Joel Gott Wines.More news:  GLP Worldwide introduces first-ever Wellness programs“I think we’ll be OK, but it’s not an ideal situation. But more importantly, all our employees seem to be doing OK,” she said.She said she was stunned by the speed of the fires, falling asleep around 10 p.m. Sunday only to wake during the night to the smell of smoke. By 3 a.m. people were being evacuated.Lise Asimont, director of grower relations for the Family Coppola wineries, was among the people being urged to leave her Santa Rosa home. She said explosions that made her think of war woke her around 2 a.m. She opened the front door to a sky snowing ash.Authorities told her family to prepare to flee, but Asimont was also worried about her grapes, four truckloads of cabernet sauvignon machine-picked in Lodi on Sunday with no way of getting to Coppola facilities Monday because of a closed highway.She called a wine maker with LangeTwins winery and vineyards, who had a tank available to crush the grapes and was happy to be able to help. In turn, she passed on the favour to another winery.“There’s a lot of people helping each other, which is amazing,” she said. Wildfires damage California’s famed wine country << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Adults only for Virgin Voyages first ship setting sail in 2020

first_img GENOA — Virgin Voyages sailings will be exclusively for passengers 18+, “which was a direct result of listening to future sailors and travel partners”, says the cruise line.Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin hosted a ‘Ship Tease’ yesterday in Genoa at the keel laying ceremony for the first ship, scheduled to launch in 2020. The cruise line says it is now accepting US$500 refundable deposits for a pre-sale window at from Fincantieri’s shipyard, Sir Richard and Tom McAlpin arrived on stage via a 200-foot crane drop.“This is a very big day for Virgin Voyages, as an exciting new holiday option for travellers starts to get ship shape,” said Branson, adding: “She will be the most recognizable ship sailing the seven seas, delivering an irresistible sailor experience. We’re also committed to making sure our crew are the happiest at sea and will be proud to sail with us.”More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upCEO McAlpin said the entire ship “will be built with an attention to detail, reflecting the craftsmanship and materiality inspired by super yachts.”Designed to feel more intimate and connected to the sea, 86% of all cabins will feature a sea terrace and 93% an ocean view, he said. “Virgin Voyages is creating a sophisticated ship and a transformational experience that offers our sailors a place where rejuvenating day-life meets exciting nightlife and everything in between.”Making first ship’s experience ‘Adult By Design’ was a decision driven by feedback “from future sailors and travel professionals, who are looking for a more elevated and premium experience, with a few Virgin style surprises.”The ship’s livery features a sleek silvery-grey hull with smoked glass and touches of Virgin’s signature red. Virgin Voyages’ first fleet will be known as the ‘Lady Ships’, a play on the term ‘your ladyship’, a nod to Virgin’s British heritage.McAlpin says the spirit of the ship will be represented by a mermaid design adorning the bow.More news:  Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoConsistent with their commitment to have one of the cleanest fleets at sea, Virgin Voyages has also signed an agreement with Scanship, providers of advanced waste management systems. Travelweek Group Adults only for Virgin Voyages’ first ship, setting sail in 2020 Share Tags: Virgin Groupcenter_img Posted by Wednesday, November 1, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

France attack targets Strasbourg near Christmas Market

first_img By: The Associated Press Share Tags: France, Strasbourg, terrorism Wednesday, December 12, 2018 France attack targets Strasbourg near Christmas Market PARIS — A shooting in the French city of Strasbourg killed four people and wounded 11 others near a world-famous Christmas market Tuesday, sparking a broad lockdown.French prosecutors said a terrorism investigation was opened, though authorities did not announce a motive for the bloodshed. The city is home to the European Parliament, which was locked down after the shooting.It was unclear if the market – which was the nucleus of an al-Qaida-linked plot in 2000 – was targeted. The prefect of the Strasbourg region said the suspect was previously flagged as a possible extremist.The gunman has been identified and has a criminal record, according to Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.The death toll, first reported as one, rose to four by late Tuesday, according to two police union officials. One official, Stephane Morisse of union FGP, told The Associated Press the alleged shooter was wounded by soldiers guarding the market.Gendarmes went to the suspect’s home to arrest him earlier Tuesday, before the attack, but he wasn’t there, Morisse said. They found explosive materials, he said.French military spokesman Col. Patrik Steiger said the shooter did not aim for the soldiers patrolling in and around the Christmas market, but targeted civilians instead.Several of the people wounded were in critical condition, the interior minister said.Witnesses described to the AP hearing gunshots, screams and the shouts of police officers ordering people to stay indoors before the area fell silent and the officers fanned out.“I heard two or three shots at around 7:55 p.m. (1855 GMT), then I heard screams. I got close to the window. I saw people running. After that I closed the shutters. Then I heard more shots, closer this time,” Yoann Bazard, 27, who lives in central Strasbourg.More news:  Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is back“I thought maybe it’s firecrackers,” he said, speaking by phone. “And then, as it got close, it was really shocking. There were a lot of screams. … There were police or soldiers shouting ‘Get inside!’ and ‘Put your hands on your head.’”Freelance journalist Camille Belsoeur was at a friend’s apartment when they heard the gunfire, at first mistaking it for firecrackers.“We opened the window. I saw a soldier firing shots, about 12 to 15 shots,” Belsoeur said,Other soldiers yelled for people to stay indoors and shouted ‘Go home! Go home!’ to those outside, he said.Another witness, Peter Fritz, told the BBC one of the four people killed was a Thai tourist who was shot in the head and didn’t respond to lengthy attempts to revive him.France previously endured several high-profile extremist attacks, including the co-ordinated attacks at multiple Paris locations that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds in November 2015. A 2016 truck attack in Nice killed dozens.President Emmanuel Macron adjourned a meeting at the presidential palace Tuesday night to monitor the emergency, his office said, indicating the gravity of the attack.Castaner and the Paris prosecutor, who is in charge of anti-terror probes in France, headed to Strasbourg. The prosecutor’s office said the investigation was being conducted on suspicion of murder and attempted murder in relation with a terrorist enterprise charges, suggesting officials think the alleged shooter may have links to extremists.More news:  Can you guess the top Instagrammed wedding locations in the world?In multiple neighbourhoods of Strasbourg, the French Interior Ministry urged the public to remain indoors. Local authorities tweeted for the public to “avoid the area of the police station,” which is close to the city’s Christmas market.Strasbourg’s well-known market is set up around the city’s cathedral during the Christmas season and is a popular gathering place.French soldiers were on patrol after the shooting. At the scene, police officers, police vehicles and barricades surrounded the sparkling lights of the market.“Our security and rescue services are mobilized,” Castaner said.European Parliament spokesman Jaume Duch said that “the European Parliament has been closed and no one can leave until further notice.” It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were inside.The attack revived memories of a new millennium terror plot targeting Strasbourg’s Christmas market. Ten suspected Islamic militants were convicted and sentenced to prison in December 2004 for their role in a plot to blow up the market on the New Year’s Eve ushering in 2000.The Algerian and French-Algerian suspects – including an alleged associate of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden – went on trial in October on charges they were involved in the foiled plot for the attack.They were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to nine years. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Plastic surgeons slicing out their niche

first_imgWithin Costa Rica’s thriving medical tourism industry, more visitors come to the country for plastic surgery every year. Alberto J. Argüello The Tico Times asked several plastic surgeons in the capital why so many foreigners choose Costa Rica as a treatment destination. Here’s what they had to say:Costa Rica is a great destination for plastic surgery. We have much lower costs [than the U.S.] and state-of-the-art hospitals. We treat patients as individuals, not numbers; we work closely with our patients to give them that pampering they need.–Alberto J. Argü Victor Urzola Although Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica, many Costa Ricans are fluent in English and other languages, and this makes it very easy for patients to feel safe with the process. Costa Rica is a foreigner-friendly country, and its proximity to the United States and Canada, along with frequent flights in between, make it easy to reach. It has excellent weather year-round and many options for tourists to enjoy this beautiful country.–Victor Facebook Comments Lev Schtirbu Costa Rica has been a major plastic surgery destination for more than 25 years. The reasons for this, I believe, are the excellent results achieved for the patients and the reasonable cost of all procedures. Costa Rican surgeons trained in Brazil, France and the U.S., among a plethora of other countries, have paved the way for an amazing exchange of ideas, bringing forth the best each school of surgery has to offer and combining these approaches in order to create an integrated repository of knowledge.–Lev Schtirbu www.eternallyvain.comcenter_img Arnoldo Fournier Costa Rica’s proximity to the U.S., its favorable exchange rate, the friendliness of its people and the tropical climate are a few of the advantages here. Add to these the availability of certified, highly skilled surgeons, top-notch hospitals outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment, and one of the most stable democracies in Latin America, and it’s easy to see why Costa Rica makes sense for the medical traveler.–Arnoldo Oscar Suárez Throughout the years, I have found that there are many reasons patients come to Costa Rica to have surgery with me. We are well-formed and experienced surgeons. We keep up to date and deliver very good results consistently. In the way our practices are set up, we have closer contact with the patients than what they are used to. Other reasons are that we communicate in English, the flying time is not long and our cost is competitive.–Oscar Suá No related posts.last_img read more

Young Tico wins big beltbuckle contest lands first Costa Rica exhibition

first_imgAlthough Icaza prefers to make jewelry – and rings in particular – the 26-year-old artist designed a belt buckle for Montana State University’s 2nd annual competition, which is open to everyone. Icaza’s winning buckle, entitled, “Space Cowboy,” was made of sterling silver, copper, brass, bronze and imperial jasper. In creating it, Icaza used an obscure Japanese lamination technique called Mokume-Gane.Icaza’s success in the belt buckle competition may be no surprise to his mother, who owns Art Depot, an art supply store in Escazú. Since he was a kid, Icaza has had access to a smorgasbord of materials from the store, allowing him to experiment with painting, graphic design and metals, the last of which is his favorite.His exhibit at the Culture Center, “Monetary Bondage,” features bills and coins from the U.S. and Costa Rica inside metallic boxes decorated with symmetric engravings. Icaza, who considers himself more conceptual than esthetic, explores how “money is trapped, but also we can become trapped by money,” he says. “It is something so common, used so often… and sometimes we forget its meaning.”Juan Diego Roldán, curator of the Sophia Wanamaker Gallery at the Cultural Center, said the expo is “a fresh take by a young artist that is not subject to premeditated appearances about what is or isn’t art.”Lately, Icaza has been designing belts and buckles for the commercial market. He also sells jewelry online at and through his Facebook page.“Monetary Bondage” is on display at the Cultural Center in Sabana Norte until June 19, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-6:30p.m. Facebook Comments Young Costa Rican Artist Daniel Icaza is on a roll. After winning first place in the World Championship Belt Buckle Competition in March of this year, he recently scored his first-ever exhibition at the Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center in Sabana Norte. No related posts.center_img Daniel Icaza’s “Space Cowboy” won the top prize in the World Championship Belt Buckle Competition. Courtesy of the World Championship Belt Buckle Competition last_img read more

Going out on un date – the cultural quirks of romance

first_imgRecommended: Ticos in a winter wonderlandIt is perhaps fitting that Valentine’s Day should be named after a martyr. More than anything, February 14th evokes that delectable yet somewhat torturous practice called “dating,” which human beings the world over are known to inflict on each other starting at puberty. If you think about it, the social image of Valentine’s Day is built not around love, or relationships, or even personal connections. At least in its quintessential expression, in the fancy dinner and the chocolates and the candles and the all-pervading red, Valentine’s Day is really Big Date Day.I am thankful for dating. As a woman, I consider it a symbol of my freedom to choose the person with whom I would like to spend my time, be it years or a few hours. In reminding us that we are not compatible with everyone, dating is a celebration of our individuality. My grandmother was never allowed that kind of liberty. She married a man she had seen only a couple of times and who asked for her hand when she was barely fifteen. It is true that she loved my grandfather, as do many people who enter arranged marriages or marriages with people they hardly know, but I am nonetheless relieved that I get to judge for myself, and that I can either like or dislike the men I meet. Dates, even bad dates, are a sign of social progress.That being said, I believe dating is one of the most curious rituals we observe on a regular basis. Here is a rite where two people, who typically don’t know each other, attempt to provide and obtain information relevant to mating while conversing in a public place. Of course, it is never as straightforward as that. Because we do not want it to feel like an audition and because we shy away from intensity, we try to combine it with other activities: eating, drinking or going to a movie. There is even a dating site dedicated to proposing ideas for first dates, ranging from “how about we make grilled cheese sandwiches for breakfast” to “how about we run six miles uphill at 5 a.m.”For years, Costa Ricans have shunned the use of dating sites. I often wondered why that was, in light of the fact that we are (or like to consider ourselves to be) a country of extroverts. But our extroversion is combined with a general mistrust of strangers. This could be related to crime. It could be related to a disastrous urbanization process that damaged our sense of community. I believe it might also be related to the size of the country and the tightness of our social networks: because we adhere to the cliché that everyone in Costa Rica knows everyone else, we feel awkward interacting personally with someone we have never met, and with whom we have no friends in common.This appears to have changed recently with the emergence of Tinder. I have been surprised to learn that many of my Costa Rican friends have joined the app in the last couple of years. It would seem that in this, as in other aspects, Costa Ricans are performing an act of cultural leapfrogging: skipping dating sites and going straight into dating apps, the way that we skipped over the early days of social media and landed squarely on Facebook. I wonder if our incursions into online dating mean that we are heading towards some form of standardization – if cultural and social norms governing our romantic and sexual interactions will eventually converge with those of other Western cultures.While it should be obvious by now that I am not an expert on dating, in any language, I have nonetheless learned a thing or two about romantic idiosyncrasies. Even with some level of convergence, dating in Costa Rica and the United States is a game with slightly different rules.Some of the differences are idiomatic. The word for “date” in Spanish (cita) is the same word you would use for a medical appointment. It is true that dating can sometimes feel like pulling teeth, but it is still a little weird to use the same term for getting a cocktail and a root canal. Costa Ricans therefore circumvent the word, saying they are going out, meeting someone or even that they have “un date,” in Spanglish. This nominal casualness extends beyond our verbiage: dating is less formal in Costa Rica, less codified. People go out, but there is nothing like the first date, second date, third date expectations that are commonplace in the United States. We also have an idiomatic joker card, which English speakers lack: “te quiero,” a lighter version of “I love you” that provides a safe ground during the first stages of a relationship. It’s like a mezzanine between the downstairs, friendly “me gustás” (“I like you”) and the upstairs, intimate “te amo” (“I love you”).There are likewise differences in the way we physically interact with each other that release some of the tension of the first encounters. Since we normally kiss, hug and compliment the way others look, even when we are not trying to pursue someone romantically, it is less strange to do so when you are actually out on a date. Traditions like meeting the parents also lack the meaning they carry in the U.S., given that our parents remain a more or less constant presence in our lives and usually live close by, if not in our same house (which, by the way, we need to do something about: Costa Ricans live with their parents way past the age they should).This ease is countered by other kinds of constraints. There is the constant running into people you know, the relatively limited offer of places to go to, and the risk that the person you are meeting has at some point dated one of your friends or is a friend of someone you’ve dated. We also continue to struggle with the effects of machismo, which seriously hamper the construction of healthy relationships.But I believe we are improving, and not just because of Tinder. I think we are exhibiting a more open-minded approach to meeting people and going out with strangers. After all, the “pura vida” philosophy should imply an inclusive view of the incredible diversity of life and people in it.Happy Big Date Day, folks. Tell someone you love them. Even a “te quiero” will do.Read previous Please Send Coffee! columns here.Raquel Chanto is a lawyer and policy wonk trying to survive international bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. In her monthly column “Please Send Coffee!” she explores aspects of Costa Rican culture and how they contrast with life abroad. Facebook Comments Related posts:Save the date: A Costa Rican abroad encounters social calendars Food choices, then and now: from Guayabitas to cage-free eggs Roommates: a strange concept for Ticos, but are we missing out? A love letter to Costa Rica’s second languagelast_img read more

Costa Rica approves stricter regulations for noise control from vehicles

first_imgCosta Rica’s roads may be a bit quieter in the future. A new law outlining stricter noise control regulations for vehicles will take effect in late October.Executive decree Nº 38937-MOPT, which was published last week in the official newspaper La Gaceta, sets new, lower limits on the volume of noise pollution different vehicles are allowed to emit. The existing regulation dates back to 1993.The fine for surpassing noise limits is ₡21,964 ($40), according to the country’s Traffic Law.The Traffic Administration is currently in the process of buying more sound level meters. Currently traffic police only have 23 of these devices for all seven provinces, but the administration hopes to at least double that number. Each meter costs around $7,000.The new law also establishes specific protocols and procedures for testing noise emissions in car exhaust systems, either on the road or at the mandatory technical vehicle inspection (RITEVE) stations. Facebook Comments Related posts:No more mandatory email registration for drivers, Constitutional Chamber rules Costa Rican transit officials say higher fines in 2015 will help reduce roadway accidents Higher traffic fines take effect Jan. 1 President Solís demands explanation for spike in traffic jamslast_img read more

Lulas detention rattles Brazil as heat on Rousseff increases

first_img Facebook Comments As soon as police raided the home of former Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and questioned him early Friday, red-shirted activists of his Workers’ Party took to the streets. Fist fights broke out with police as well as with those applauding the detention — a preview of the unrest that likely awaits Brazil and its embattled president.The second term of President Dilma Rousseff has been overwhelmed by twin crises — an economy crippled by recession and a political establishment under siege by a massive corruption investigation. The probe of Lula, an iconic figure who chose Rousseff as his successor, escalates almost two years of mounting tension.Rousseff isn’t directly implicated in the latest investigation, which focuses on favors Lula and his family allegedly received from companies involved with Petrobras, the state oil company at the heart of the corruption probe. But she is under intense attack for a range of reasons and Lula remains the soul of her Workers’ Party, known as the PT. His questioning raises the temperature a week before pro-impeachment protests scheduled for March 13.“We’re going to have an escalation of tension once again, and no one is really in control,” said Riordan Roett, director of Latin American Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. “Everyone is worrying what shoe is going to drop next, and in Brasilia, there are lots of shoes in the air.”The week began with the resignation of Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo amid criticism from the PT that he wasn’t doing enough to control the investigation. By the time he stepped down on Thursday, there were reports of plea bargain testimony from a PT senator recently released from jail and put under house arrest.The alleged plea, from Senator Delcidio Amaral, is more dangerous for Rousseff since she is personally implicated, according to two people participating in the government’s response to impeachment. The investigation of Lula emboldens the opposition and makes Rousseff’s ouster much likelier than it was a month ago. Eurasia, the political risk firm, puts the chance now at above 50 percent.“This makes a coalition against impeachment more difficult,” Rafael Cortez, political analyst at Tendencias Consultoria Integrada, said in a phone interview.Impeachment doesn’t happen easily, however. The lower house hasn’t formed the congressional committee that will present a recommendation on the impeachment request opened on Dec. 2. That report must be confirmed by both the lower house and the Senate in a process that may take months.Rousseff aides dismiss the possibility that the president would step down of her own accord, and she has said publicly she will defend her mandate. But last weekend when she decided to remain on a visit to Chile rather than return for PT anniversary celebrations, it was clear that Rousseff feared being booed by her own party. Her support appears to be at rock bottom in spite of a recent poll showing an improvement in her approval rate. Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva waves at supporters from a window of the Workers Party (PT) state headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 4, 2016. Nelson Almeida/AFPIf Rousseff is removed by impeachment, Vice President Michel Temer of the Democratic Movement Party would take over. Temer canceled public events planned for this weekend after Friday’s police operation targeting Lula.Temer’s party, known as the PMDB, will hold its national convention in Brasilia March 12, the day before the planned protest. The party isn’t expected to take an official position on impeachment, though individual legislators are free to support it.Separately, Brazil’s electoral court is analyzing a request to annul Rousseff’s 2014 reelection, which would also remove Temer as vice president. If this happens before 2017, new elections will be called.The arrest last month of João Santana, the mastermind of Rousseff’s 2010 and 2014 presidential campaigns, gave the opposition more ammunition for its challenge of Rousseff. Santana’s arrest in the corruption allegation ended two months of relative calm for Rousseff and breathed new life into calls for her ouster.PT congressmen and party leaders lost no time Friday calling on the party’s faithful to defend Lula from what they called a “politicized” police action. The outrage from leftist leaders is not only to defend the legacy of the PT’s 13 years in power but also to preserve the future of a party planning to rally around Lula again in 2018 to once again run for president.Though the threat is real, the PT won’t go down without a fight, José Guimaraes, leader of the government in the lower house of Congress, said in an interview.“Now we go to the streets to prevent this coup,” Guimaraes said. “This spectacle threatens the democratic order.”Mario Sergio Lima contributed.© 2016, The Washington Post Related posts:Brazil’s Rousseff condemns ‘coup’ as judge blocks Lula Lula is the big test for Petrobras prosecutors Brazilian bribe money funded Rousseff’s reelection, daily reports Lula dealt new blow as Brazil prosecutors charge him over assetslast_img read more

Canadian tourist stabbed to death on Costa Ricas Caribbean coast

first_imgRelated posts:Public Security Ministry to build police station in Puerto Viejo Police arrest suspected killers of Gerardo Cruz Public Security minister says he’ll resign if not given more funds for policing Government announces increased security measures to curb recent crime wave Residents of the southern Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, found the body of a Canadian man with a knife wound on the right side of his abdomen on Sunday.The Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) identified the man by the last name McCalum, 58, in a news release. He entered the country on Feb. 19 with a group of other Canadian tourists.The police report states that local residents found the body in the early hours of Sunday lying on a street.The man was apparently a photographer, and he had told some of the other members of his group that he was interested in shooting the sunrise at the beach.The OIJ report says the man’s camera was missing, as well as other belongings. Cops therefore believe he was likely stabbed during a mugging.Investigators moved the body to OIJ’s Forensics Medicine Lab, in the province of Heredia. Puerto Viejo is located in the south Caribbean. (Via Google Maps) Facebook Commentslast_img read more

President Alvarado attends Pope Francis mass in Panama

first_imgThe day before, in a message very much in tune with current times, Francis asked Catholic millennials to experience “something bigger” than life on social networks.And the Pope dealt not only with the exacerbation of the Venezuelan crisis but also the dark shadow of sexual abuse.Before the religious community, he admitted that the Church is “wounded by sin.”Next month, the Pope will meet with bishops and seek “concrete measures” to combat “this terrible plague,” said the press director of the Holy See, Alessandro Gisotti.Although on this trip he did not explicitly condemn the aggressions committed by priests that have eroded credibility in the church, Pope Francis described them as a “horrible crime” at a later lunch with young people, according to one of the attendees.Migrants, condolences and peaceThroughout his visit, Francis addressed the crises that have forced migration in Latin America and condemned the stigmatization of immigrants as a “social evil.”Caravans comprised of thousands of Hondurans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Nicaraguans seek asylum in the United States despite the anti-immigrant policy of President Donald Trump, which includes a proposal to build a wall on the border with Mexico.Spurred by the economic collapse, Venezuela has also seen 2.3 million of its citizens migrate (7.6% of the population of 30 million) since 2015, according to UN statistics.Pope Francis offered the help of the Church, saying, “We want to be the Church that fosters a culture that knows how to welcome, protect, promote and integrate [migrants].”Before taking his flight back to Italy, the Argentine pontiff visited AIDS patients and launched a new call for peace in Colombia following a terrorist attack that left 21 dead.He also denounced the attack on a cathedral in the Philippines that left at least 18 dead and expressed condolences to Mexico and Brazil over the explosion of a pipeline and the collapse of a mining dam, respectively.The Pope left Panama at 6:30 p.m.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 Pope Francis: Costa Rica has ‘the world’s best coffee’ Speaking at the close of a visit to Panama, Pope Francis on Sunday called for a peaceful resolution to the “serious situation” in Venezuela, committed to supporting immigrants and spoke of the “wound” left in the Church by sexual-abuse scandals.The 82-year-old Argentine pope closed World Youth Day (WYD) with a mass in which he called on new generations of Catholics not to be “numbed” and prevent their dreams  from taking flight.While the Pope was expected to address the migrant situation, the trip had two unexpected co-protagonists: the complex situation in Venezuela and the revelations of sexual abuse and its cover-up in the clergy.During the Angelus prayer on Sunday, the head of the Vatican cried out for a “just and peaceful solution” in Venezuela, which is submerged in a crisis that divides the powers of the world. He also condemned the “terrorist hatred” in Colombia after a recent attack with car bomb.In the midst of economic collapse, Venezuela entered a dangerous escalation of tensions following the international rejection of the government of Nicolás Maduro. That coincided with the self-proclamation of Juan Guaidó, president of the opposition party, as interim president.The United States and Costa Rica, among several other nations, have said they do not recognize Maduro’s second presidential term due to it being the result of a “fraudulent” election. China, Russia and Turkey support Maduro.Meanwhile, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom gave an ultimatum of eight days to convene new elections.The head of the Vatican avoided aligning himself with either side, a position that contrasts with the harsh questions that the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference has formulated against Chavismo in power.A wounded churchDuring his five-day meeting with young Catholics, Francis denounced political corruption, the “plague of femicides” and the harassment of migrants in Latin America.Some 700,000 people — according to the WYD organization — attended Sunday’s final mass.The host president and those of Colombia, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Portugal — the country that will host WYD in 2022 — were also present.center_img Related posts:Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill urge Christian unity at historic Cuba talks Pope Francis kicks off Mexico tour addressing drug trafficking and violence Commenting on Zika virus, Pope Francis calls abortion ‘a human evil’ Pope Francis to visit Cuba in latest move to support US-Cuba relationslast_img read more

Off the eaten path La Deportiva Charlies Bar

first_imgAs its name implies, La Deportiva Charlie’s Bar is a sports bar. But it’s not one of the many copy-and-paste American sports bars all around Costa Rica.This bar has been around for 76 years and has kept its local charm. Even though they are now located in a modern building, the essence of it’s previous life still remains. Perhaps the earth below this spot is haunted, or blessed, by the spirit of many drunken cowboys who have previously passed through these doors to wet their whistle. A toast, to them.Photos of the previous buildings are proudly displayed on the wall here. It is only one of many historical pieces on display around the establishment. Previous iterations of La Deportiva. (William Ayre / The Tico Times)Actually, the place is almost like a museum: a museum dedicated to local professional soccer.There are framed and signed soccer jerseys, photographs of famous visitors and other pieces of one-of-a-kind memorabilia hanging on every inch of wall and ceiling. Walk around and take a look at everything while you wait for your food.The food doesn’t take long though, at least mine didn’t. For a sports fan like myself, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It’s a pretty good foodie experience too.La Deportiva Charlie’s Bar has a simple one-page menu that is divided into the usual categories like appetizers, soups, ceviches, casados and more. All the typical style bar food is good, but the real star, as you might have come to expect from me, is the chifrijo. They have the classic version, a chicken one, and vegetarian-friendly cheese version. The chifrijo at La Deportiva, also available with chicken or cheese. (William Ayre / The Tico Times)Of course, I recommend the classic version with fried pork but be sure to order it “special” style for an extra 300 colones, which includes a portion of avocado and jalapeno. The special version is 3,800 colones (about $6.30).I was excited to find a bottle of locally-made hot sauce that I had never seen before. The label said it is produced by Chileras Castillo and it appeared to be mixed chilis in white vinegar. The chilis don’t fit out of the neck of the bottle, only the vinegar does. So it’s more of a spicy vinegar than a hot sauce.The chilis have been marinating in it, so all of the flavor and heat is in the vinegar. It’s really tasty and I recommend it to kick your chifrijo up a notch. The spicy vinegar at La Deportiva Charlies’ Bar. (William Ayre / The Tico Times)Normally when I visit restaurants on assignment, I bring a friend or two. That way I can try and photograph a wider assortment of the menu. I went alone this time though. The chifrijo was big and I washed it down with a Coca-Cola. It was early in the day, so no beer, give me a break.I didn’t have room for anything else. The restaurant was busy and I was enjoying watching the food hit the neighboring tables around me, everything looked great.If there is a ‘Clasico’ being played that day, whether it be Real Madrid vs Barcelona or Saprissa vs La Liga, be warned that they do fill up. This is their bread and butter, and on an important game day, the owner Carlos tells me that they can have up to 300 people inside. I would guess that only about 200 of them actually get a seat. The soccer decor at La Deportiva Charlie’s Bar (William Ayre / The Tico Times)When there’s space, I prefer to grab a window seat that looks out over one of the local community soccer fields. Depending on when you visit, you might even get lucky enough to be able to take in a local amateur soccer match while you eat. If not, there are many flat screen TVs scattered all around, playing sports at all times.In addition to the quality food being served, and the one of a kind interior decoration, La Deportiva Charlie’s Bars offers a friendly and efficient, yet informal service. This is my kind of place. And so whether you aren’t with an appetite, this seems to me like the kind of place that I could recommend just for drinks, too. Go enjoy a few ice-cold buckets of six Pilsen for 7,500 colones (about $12.30), and tell them I sent you.La Deportiva Charlie’s Bar is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. until midnight. Major credit cards are accepted. Prices do not include service tax. Vegetarian options are available. Search “La Deportiva Charlie’s Bar” in Waze or Uber to arrive conveniently. La Deportiva Charlie’s Bar’s new building. (William Ayre / The Tico Times)Know of a restaurant you think we should cover? E-mail us at 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 Related posts:Off the eaten path: Aguila y Sol Off the eaten path: Lidia’s Place Off the eaten path: Cebolla Verde Off the eaten path: Ristopizza Napolitano A Vit è N’Attimlast_img read more

Vatican No 2 urges AIDS cure sidesteps condom

first_imgPope Benedict XVI made headlines in 2010 when he said a male prostitute who intends to use a condom might be taking a first step toward greater responsibility because he is looking out for the welfare of his partner. The Vatican insisted he wasn’t justifying condom usage to prevent HIV spread.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Top Stories center_img VATICAN CITY (AP) – The Vatican’s No. 2 official has called for universal, free access to drugs to combat HIV and for investments into finding a cure.But Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, made no mention of condoms in a speech Friday at an international AIDS conference in Rome. And he made no explicit reference to the Vatican’s traditional position that the best way to prevent HIV transmission is to abstain from sex before marriage and remain faithful within marriage. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

2 Thais get life in prison for killing Australian

first_imgBANGKOK (AP) – Two Thai men were sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for murdering an Australian tourist they were trying to rob on one of Thailand’s most popular resort islands.The Phuket provincial court initially sentenced the men to the maximum penalty of death but commuted it to life imprisonment because they had confessed to killing 60-year-old Michelle Smith, said prosecutor Wiwat Kitjaruk. One told reporters later he didn’t kill her, and both said they would appeal. Top Stories Smith had traveled to Phuket from Perth, Australia with colleagues to survey the island for their travel agency. She was walking back to her hotel after dinner on June 20 with a friend when two men on a passing motorcycle tried to steal her pocketbook.Streetside surveillance cameras captured the attack: The motorcycle slowed alongside Smith as the bike passenger attempted to grab her bag, but Smith resisted.Surasak Suwannachote, 26, jumped off the backseat of the motorcycle and stabbed Smith repeatedly before racing back onto the moving bike.Smith collapsed and died shortly afterward.Surasak and the motorcycle driver, Surin Tabthong, 37, both admitting to attacking Smith. Surasak told police he had intended to slash her pocketbook strap and never meant to hurt her.On Wednesday, the two men showed little sign of remorse. Speaking to reporters through the bars of a prison van, both men said they planned to appeal. Surin said, “I didn’t do it,” despite having confessed to the crime.Smith’s traveling companion, 45-year-old Tammy Lee Lynn, suffered a gash on her arm while trying to aid Smith. She required hospitalization but was well enough to return home.Thailand’s top police officials were assigned to the case, showing the importance authorities placed on prosecuting the killers in an attempt to protect the country’s tourist-friendly image. Comments   Share   New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Quick workouts for men More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

Unification Church founders condition worsens

first_img Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Men’s health affects baby’s health too Comments   Share   A respiratory specialist was traveling to South Korea from the church hospital in Japan, and Moon was moved Friday to CheongShim International Medical Center in the town of Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul, church spokesman Ahn Ho-yeol said. Doctors in Seoul told the church they cannot cure Moon.Moon has developed new complications since being hospitalized for pneumonia at Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital earlier this month, church officials said. The complications involve Moon’s kidneys and liver, but officials didn’t elaborate further.“Our prayers will hopefully work better in Gapyeong,” Ahn said.To help treat Moon, CheongShim will receive whatever intensive care equipment it doesn’t have from Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, Ahn said.Moon’s church and its mass weddings gained fame around the world after the church’s foundation in 1954. Moon claims he was 15 when Jesus Christ personally called on him to complete his unfinished work.Moon’s last major public appearance was last month when he took part in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Peace Cup soccer tournament sponsored by his church in South Korea.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Associated PressSEOUL, South Korea (AP) – The Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s condition has worsened and the Unification Church moved its founder to a church-owned hospital near his home, officials said Friday.The church said it was also bringing in a specialist from Japan to try to treat Moon’s pneumonia and increase his chances of recovery.Moon, 92, is a self-proclaimed messiah whose church runs a worldwide multibillion-dollar religious and business empire that includes The Washington Times newspaper, the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan, Bridgeport University in Connecticut and hospitals in South Korea and Japan. Top Stories Top holiday drink recipes Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Father defends taking Kan children to Gaza Strip

first_imgAssociated PressWICHITA, Kan. (AP) – A divorced Palestinian man accused of illegally moving his three young children from their Kansas home to the Gaza Strip insists they are safe despite the ongoing bombings his 9-year-old daughter describes hearing while playing with her Barbie dolls.Ahmed Abuhamda was charged in Kansas with aggravated interference with parental custody after he took his children overseas earlier this year amid a custody dispute with their American mother. He told The Associated Press in an interview that while he believes the family is in no real danger, as a Muslim he has taught his children that everybody has to die one day. The initial divorce decree allowed Abuhamda to move the children overseas, provided he had their mother’s permission. Abuhamda has denied all wrongdoing and has steadfastly insisted his ex-wife knew he was not returning with the children. Gonzales said that’s untrue.Abuhamda told AP that the children want to stay with him in Gaza where they have family who love and care about them. He said he allows them to talk with their mother when she calls.“She is still their mother,” he said. “I am not going to cut all the relations between the kids and their mother.”Gonzales said she recently put up her children’s Christmas stockings at the Kansas home. Their bedrooms have remained untouched, left just as the children left them. On the Christmas tree is a mismatched ornament that her middle son got last year at the local Hallmark factory during a visit there a year ago with his mother.“It is hard for me because I don’t have my kids. My kids need to be home, and I don’t have that,” Gonzales said. “I don’t have anybody helping me or even giving me a hope that they are going to return back to the States safely.” 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Under the couple’s 2008 divorce decree, the children _ who in addition to Jannah include her brothers 14-year-old Jehed and 11-year-old Edhem _lived with the father and the mother had visitation rights. Last month, the mother was granted temporary sole legal custody and residential placement of the children, court documents show.The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children put the children’s pictures and information on their online postings of family abductions.But the Kansas mother has limited political and legal means available to her in the Gaza Strip, a largely isolated and impoverished Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas. The Gaza Strip is a densely populated coastal enclave of 1.7 million people.Gonzales said the U.S. State Department has told her it can’t send anybody into the Gaza Strip to do a welfare check or get the children and has advised her not to go there to get them herself.“It really, really bothers me that nobody can do anything about it,” she said. “These are American kids … and nobody is helping me at all.”A federal court filing alleges Abuhamda used his sister’s wedding in Gaza to convince his ex-wife to sign off on passport applications for the children. He picked up the three children from school Feb. 21, but instead of returning the children in March, he unlawfully kept them in Gaza, according to court documents. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixcenter_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice “The kids they accept whatever is going on here and they know that if their time is coming, it is going to come no matter what,” Abuhamda, 40, said in the interview Tuesday. “Nothing is going to stop it.”But such talk only heightens fears for the children’s safety from their already distraught mother, Bethany Gonzales, who lives in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.“How do you say to your kids, `If you die then it is OK?’ You don’t talk to your kids like that,” Gonzales said. “You are supposed to be encouraging and nurturing your kids and, you know, wanting them to grow up and have a future.”Despite the threat of bombings from Israel following Gaza’s intensifying rocket attacks, Abuhamda said his family is living in a part of the city he believes is safer than the border areas.Still, evidence of the ongoing conflict is within earshot. Nine-year-old Jannah Abuhamda told AP in a phone call from Gaza that she can hear the barrage of bombings as she plays with her Barbie dolls in her father’s home, but insists she is not scared.“It is normal, like if I didn’t go to school,” Jannah said. “I still do my homework. I study for my tests, even (with) bombings.” ___Online:National Center for Missing & Exploited Children poster: 0 Comments   Share   last_img

UN body Around halfmillion Syrians now refugees

first_img 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project GENEVA (AP) – The U.N. refugee agency says about 84,000 people fled the escalating civil war in Syria in December alone, bringing the total number of those displaced since the beginning of the 22-month-old conflict to around half a million.The agency said Wednesday that the number of registered refugees rose from about 394,000 to 478,000 within a month. If those still awaiting registration are included, around 569,000 people have fled Syria for neighboring countries. The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Top Stories Sponsored Stories It says Turkey hosts the largest group of registered Syrian refugees, totaling almost 150,000 as of Jan. 1. Some 130,000 people have fled to Lebanon, and another 120,000 to Jordan. Iraq hosts some 68,000 refugees.Separately, another U.N. body said new figures suggest more than 60,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict, topping activists’ estimate of 45,000.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

Thousands in Greece march in memory of 1973 revolt

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement ErrorOK ErrorOK 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories ErrorOK ErrorOKAccording to generally conservative police estimates, about 10,000 mostly leftist, anarchist and union supporters joined one march in Athens and a similar number of Communist Party supporters marched separately. In the northern city of Thessaloniki, an estimated 13,000 have turned out, with no incidents reported.Both marches in the capital ended outside the U.S. Embassy, about 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) from the National Technical University of Athens, widely known as the Polytechnic, the center of the 1973 revolt. Most Greeks still blame the U.S. for supporting the 1967-74 military regime.The revolt was crushed when a tank stormed through the university’s gates in the early hours of Nov. 17, 1973. The number of fatalities is still disputed; at the time, the regime had announced 15 dead.A prosecutor’s report issued the following year, after the return to civilian government, estimated fatalities at 34, but mentioned only 18 names. There were over 1,100 injured.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Tens of thousands joined peaceful marches through Greece’s two biggest cities Sunday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a bloody student uprising against the then dictatorship.Previous marches had been marked by riots and running battles between anarchists and riot police, but this year’s commemoration went off without incident, partly thanks to heavy police presence. In Athens, 9,000 police were deployed and 99 people were detained provisionally before the start of the marches. Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Elections in Suriname to decide govt for next 5 years

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Parents, stop beating yourself up New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Earlier this year, a U.S. judge sentenced Bouterse’s son Dino to serve over 16 years in prison after he admitted that he offered a home base in Suriname to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The son, whose father once picked him to lead a counterterrorist unit, said he was motivated by money and pleaded guilty.There are 353,000 registered voters in the country of roughly 550,000 people. The Organization of American States, the Caribbean Community and several other groups have sent observer missions.Results were expected Tuesday.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technologycenter_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Bouterse promised a landslide victory in Monday’s election. His party needs a two-thirds majority of 34 seats in Parliament for him to be automatically re-elected as party leader without forging a coalition.Bouterse’s biggest rival is Chan Santokhi, a former justice minister who leads a new opposition coalition that calls itself the V7 alliance. Santokhi and his coalition accuse the government of corruption and such bad financial mismanagement that public debt has increased from roughly $295 million in 2010 to $1.7 billion now.Bouterse has loomed over Surinamese politics for decades. He first came to power in 1980, when he led a coup that saw the constitution suspended and Parliament dissolved just five years after independence from the Netherlands. Under international pressure he allowed the return of civilian rule in 1987, only to launch a second coup in 1990.His strategic coalition-building with former political enemies got him the presidency in 2010. Some of those old alliances fractured in recent years, but recent polls have indicated Bouterse remains popular.But he is dogged by old allegations of corruption. Convicted of drug trafficking in absentia in 1999 in the Netherlands, he was sentenced to 11 years but avoided that punishment because Suriname doesn’t have an extradition treaty with its former colonial ruler. Since 2010, he has also had immunity as head of state. PARAMARIBO, Suriname (AP) — Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse is betting that Monday general elections to choose the South American country’s next Parliament will keep him and his party in power for another five years.Most recent polls conducted in Suriname give a comfortable majority to Bouterse’s National Democratic Party.The 69-year-old was military dictator of Suriname twice after leading coups and has been convicted in absentia of drug trafficking, but was elected democratically in 2010 to his current term in the ethnically diverse country of about 550,000 people. FILE – In this Sept. 2, 2010 file photo, Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse speaks with journalists at the presidential cabinet office in Paramaribo, Suriname. Bouterse is betting that the Monday, May 25, 2015 election to choose the South American country’s next Parliament will keep him and his party in power for another five years. (AP Photo/Edward Troon, File) Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your homelast_img read more