The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) dismissed Thursday afternoon the possibility of an increase in the rates of mandatory vehicle inspections requested by the Spanish-Costa Rican company Riteve.MOPT Vice Minister Rodrigo Rivera said the Public Services Regulatory Authority does not have a method for calculating rates that allows them to address Riteve’s request.He also said that MOPT’s experts are conducting technical studies to determine the relevance of the current methodology of calculation. “To set a definitive calculation formula the method also has to be submitted to public consultation, in order to obtain feedback from users,” Rivera added.Riteve had requested a review of the rates, which they say have not been updated for the past eight years.If the request had prospered, the cost of vehicle inspections would have gone up by 157 percent in 2013. Facebook Comments No related posts.
The Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) on Friday said it had suspended an employee for allegedly stealing “a few” ballots prepared for Costa Rica’s presidential runoff on April 6.The TSE did not disclose the name of the suspended official, who was assigned to guard the electoral material. The TSE said it had security footage of the employee “acting suspiciously” at the company where the ballots were printed.The full printing process by private company RR Donnelly was filmed by 32 security cameras. Anyone who entered or exited the facility also was logged into records, the TSE said in a press release.“It was not an action aimed at orchestrating electoral fraud; the conduct displayed by this person does not indicate as such. In addition, only a few ballots were taken,” the TSE said.Last Monday, the TSE denied a report by Diario Extra that ballots had been stolen after an anonymous source on Saturday night sent the newspaper an envelope containing three supposedly original ballots. The ballots contained registry numbers indicating they belonged to polling center No. 4,716, in the provincial capital of Liberia, Guanacaste.The envelope also included a letter claiming that “many others like these are currently circulating throughout the country,” Diario Extra reporter Luis Zárate told The Tico Times.The TSE’s director of the Electoral Registry, Héctor Fernández, on Monday said officials checked ballot bags at that polling station and all ballots were accounted for. “It appears to be a case of counterfeit [ballots],” he said.The TSE said all evidence in the case was sent to the Judicial Investigation Police and the Prosecutor’s Office, which initiated an active criminal investigation.The two candidates on the April 6 ballot are the ruling National Liberation Party’s Johnny Araya and Citizen Action Party’s Luis Guillermo Solís. However, Araya announced last week that he would stop campaigning due to a lack of campaign funds and polling that showed him trailing Solís by a margin of 44 percent. The decision set off a firestorm of criticism in Costa Rican media, and even within Araya’s own political party.Costa Rica’s Constitution prohibits a candidate from dropping out of a presidential runoff race.Recommended: If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… Facebook Comments Related posts:Supreme Elections Tribunal increases security measures for Sunday’s runoff Ex-President Abel Pacheco to back opposition candidate Solís Solís seeks 1 million votes in runoff election to strengthen his mandate Supreme Elections Tribunal dismisses request to reprint ballots for runoff election
Related posts:Cabinet appointment of Lutheran bishop is unconstitutional, says Government Attorney’s Office Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber to evaluate appointment of Lutheran bishop as presidency minister Costa Rica Supreme Court strikes down ban on clergy holding public office – except Catholics Presidency Minister Melvin Jiménez steps down at Solís’ request The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, on Wednesday admitted a citizen’s complaint over whether the appointment of Lutheran bishop Melvin Jiménez Marín as presidency minister is constitutional. Justices gave President Luis Guillermo Solís 15 days to formally respond.Attorney Álvaro Orozco Carballo filed the appeal on June 11. According to Orozco, Jiménez’s appointment violates Article 142 of Costa Rica’s Constitution. Paragraph 3 of that article states that all government ministers must be “members of the secular state,” which the complaint interprets to mean that government ministers cannot be active members of religious organizations.Justices, however, rejected Orozco’s request to suspend Jiménez from office pending a final ruling.At the start of his administration in May, Solís argued that Jiménez could be appointed minister because he belongs to the Lutheran Church. Solís said the constitutional rule only prevents Catholic clergy from serving on the presidential Cabinet. The Catholic Church responded by saying Solís’ statements were discriminatory.Orozco, a practicing Catholic, argued in his complaint to the court that the term “secular” refers to members of all religions.This is the second time Orozco has demanded Jiménez’s appointment be annulled and his credentials as a public official withdrawn. In late April, he filed a similar complaint to the same court, but justices suggested he revise and resubmit the complaint using a different constitutional argument.On Wednesday, President Solís declined to comment on the issue, saying he had not officially been notified of the Sala IV’s decision to admit the complaint.The Attorney General’s Office and the Presidency Ministry likely will receive the notification from the Constitutional Chamber on Thursday. Facebook Comments
After Costa Rica’s historic string of World Cup wins so far, the small Central American country of 4.8 million is hoping that all the extra attention will translate into more tourists and foreign investment.“[The World Cup] has aroused enormous curiosity and interest in Costa Rica. That doesn’t mean foreign investment is going to be pouring in, but whatever the new government does is going to get a lot of attention as a result of the World Cup,” Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, told The Tico Times.Joy Olson, executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America, agreed.“It has a real psychological boost to the country and how it’s perceived,” she said, opining that the attention could have a positive effect on several sectors of the economy, including tourism.The National Soccer Team’s World Cup upsets could not have come at a better time for President Luis Guillermo Solís, who went on a whirlwind tour of the United States in June to drum up foreign investment.The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), a government agency, extended the broadcast of television spots in the United States, Spain, Germany, England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands and France, along with print and online ads during Saturday’s match against the Netherlands. The ICT and the Foreign Trade Promotion Office have been publishing and airing ads with the country’s new “Essential Costa Rica” brand since June 8.But eyes on the screen don’t necessarily translate into sales, Pablo Heriberto, president the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR), told The Tico Times in a telephone interview.“The investment we’ve made in the last eight years in media exposure has been multiplied 10 times in the last 15 days,” Heriberto observed, referencing the period since the World Cup started in June. “But not everyone who sees us can afford a vacation to Costa Rica. The world’s eyes are on Costa Rica but eyes don’t mean sales,” he said.The CANATUR president said that Costa Rica’s tourism industry needs to be ready for the possible bump in visitors, especially when it comes to improving its presence online.“The hotels that are seeing the most success are those that allow tourists to buy directly [online],” Heriberto said. The tourism chamber president also said that operating costs, including the price of electricity, need to be kept in check if Costa Rica’s tourism industry will be able to leverage the positive press.Costa Rica welcomed a record-breaking 2.4 million tourists in 2013 – although many critics question how those numbers are compiled – an increase of 3.6 percent compared to 2012, according to figures released by ICT in January.“The country has clearly captured the imagination of the world now they need to turn that into results,” Shifter said. Facebook Comments Related posts:Tourism sector extends ad buy during World Cup quarterfinals Costa Ricans racked up credit card debt on TVs, travel during World Cup Costa Rica tourism minister sees no threat from Cuba, Nicaragua Costa Rica rises in global ranking of travel, tourism competitiveness
Fans of the Netherlands national team wave flags by the side of the highway in Escazú, west of San José. More than 100 people showed up at Jazz Café on Saturday to watch the Netherlands-Costa Rica match, and dozens of fans wore jerseys that mixed both teams’ patterns. The club was sultry with body heat and unbearably tense. Said one Dutch fan as he left the men’s room at halftime: “It’s the best game yet of the World Cup. Just incredible.” It was definitely a nail-biter: the Netherlands beat La Sele 4-3 in the final penalty shootout. Facebook Comments Related posts:PHOTOS: Costa Rica’s traditional celebration at Fuente de la Hispanidad Snapshots from the Web of Costa Rica’s historic World Cup win Dutch expats prepare for showdown with Costa Rica VIDEO: World Cup 2014 Retrospective!
Updated: March 29, 6:14 p.m.LIMÓN — A Limón court delivered guilty verdicts for four of seven defendants in the 2013 killing of sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora and the kidnapping and robbery of four foreign volunteers. The same defendants were acquitted in a previous trial last year, but the verdict was overturned on appeal.Héctor Cash, Ernesto Centeno, José Bryan Quesada and Donald Salmón were found guilty; Donald’s brother Darwin Salmón, Felipe Arauz and William Delgado were cleared of all charges. All seven defendants were acquitted on charges of sexual assault against one of the female volunteers captured with Mora because prosecutors were unable to prove which of the defendants had committed the assault.The four men found guilty on Tuesday received sentences ranging from 74 to 90 years for both the crimes on the night of Mora’s murder and another rape and robbery that was tried at the same time. Each of those defendants will serve 50 years in prison, the maximum allowed by Costa Rican law.In an explanation of the ruling that lasted more than two hours, the court’s panel of three judges highlighted Mora’s work with sea turtles as the primary motivation for his murder.“The court rejects that there is any other motive for this murder,” said Carlos Álvarez, the trial’s chief judge. “The killing of Mr. Jairo Mora Sandoval was the straw that broke the camel’s back in this war that was taking place between poachers and environmentalists on the beach.”At the time of his death, Mora was working as a sea turtle monitor for the conservation group Widecast, now renamed LAST, on the crime-ridden Moín Beach in Limón. Notoriously headstrong, Mora had gained a reputation on the beach as a vocal advocate against turtle egg poaching, earning himself enemies among the beach’s poaching gangs.Despite receiving numerous threats from poachers, Mora and four foreign female volunteers headed to the beach on the night of May 30, 2013 in hopes of catching a glimpse of a leatherback sea turtle. On their way back to the rescue center where they worked, their car was overtaken by a group of men in masks.The attackers beat Mora and threw him in the trunk of the conservationists’ car before taking the women to an abandoned house and sexually assaulting at least one of them. The men then took Mora to the beach where they stripped him, beat him and dragged him behind a car in the sand. Surrounded by prosecutors, Rafael Mora, center, the father of slain environmentalist Jairo Mora, awaits a verdict in his son’s murder trial on Tuesday, March 29, 2016. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesJudges said witness testimony from Almudena Amador, a Spanish veterinarian kidnapped with Mora, and the victims of the previous rape and robbery provided consistent physical descriptions of each of the accused men along with each of their roles within the gang. Recorded phone calls, text messages and a cell tower investigation also placed each of the men on the beach at the time of the murder.Though the phone evidence also placed Arauz and Delgado on the beach the night of the murder, judges said they could not convict based on a lack of witness testimony describing them participating in the crimes.Weeks before the verdict, prosecutors had dropped charges against Darwin Salmón due to a lack of evidence.“The phone evidence showed that they communicated with the other suspects, but it didn’t prove that they participated in the murder,” Álvarez said.In his closing remarks regarding the judges’ decision to give the defendants the maximum penalty for murder, 35 years, Álvarez again looked to Mora’s work with turtles as a critical factor.“Jairo was someone dedicated to the environment,” Álvarez said. “This crime is more than just a horrible murder, it has also damaged Costa Rica’s reputation as a green country. It has scared away environmentalists.”Following the verdict, Arauz folded his hands and began to pray, Centeno put his head in his hands while the other convicted defendants wore blank stares.On the other side of the courtroom, Mora’s parents, Fernanda Sandoval and Rafael Mora, began to cry.“All that we wanted was for this crime to not go unpunished,” said Rodrigo Araya, the Mora family lawyer. “I believe this verdict can bring some peace to Jairo, to all of Costa Rican society and to environmentalists everywhere.”See Why Jairo Died for the full story of Mora’s murder and the police investigation. The word “justice” accompanies graffiti depicting slain turtle conservationist Jairo Mora on a wall near the shore in Limón. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Victim testifies in Jairo Mora murder retrial Judges from first Jairo Mora murder trial under investigation Verdict in second Jairo Mora trial expected Tuesday Video of turtle torture highlights common practice in Costa Rica
I spend most of the time surfing in Hermosa or Jacó, but I’ll occasionally road trip out to Guanacaste, the Southern Pacific, Limón or Santa Teresa to rip some waves.When I go to these places I have friends that guide me and point me to some sweet secret spots and amazing locations I never would’ve thought existed so close to home.I’ll start you off with some of the more popular spots.Difficulty will vary from spot to spot, and you should choose where you feel more comfortable and likely to surf. Jacó, Tamarindo and Puerto Viejo are the three most important surf towns.Not only will you be able to connect with the ocean and its waves, but there’s also plenty of food and nightlife that won’t let you down.Jacó, in the Central Pacific, is the best spot to learn and start getting used to duck diving, paddling, floating, and getting in sync with the ocean. It has a beginner’s level of difficulty, yet when the proper swell hits its coast waves up to 7 feet and you will be able to rip lefts and rights. Noe Mar McGonagle came in third in the Men’s Open after a close final at the 2016 ISA World Surfing Games in Jacó, Puntarenas. (Courtesy: Alfredo Barquero/Costa Rica Surf Federation)The best time to surf Jacó will always be the mornings when there’s little to no wind, yet the tide must be in sync too. Afternoons tend to be windy and this has a negative effect on the waves. But when the elements are properly aligned, the afternoon session can become extremely fun. The best tide to surf Jacó will always be two hours before high tide peak and the next two hours after.Tamarindo is a great option for beginners as well. It has several surf schools for those interested in knowing the basics. The waves are mostly small to medium-sized and perfect to practice and learn this magnificent sport. VIDEO: Four things to avoid in your first surfing lesson A hidden gem on the Central Pacific: Boca Barranca If you’re with friends who aren’t ocean-driven, you will have multiple options to get grub or a fresh beverage and enjoy the view. If you enjoy nightlife, then Tamarindo will serve a wide menu of options to go out partying with your friends and some locals.Playa Grande is one of the most popular spots on the northern Pacific coast. It’s known for its recurrent offshore wind, sunny days and its extensive right-hand waves. Playa Grande, like Hermosa, can change from one day to another. Sometimes it has small waves and is perfect for the family. If you come during summer and get a solid swell, there’s a high chance you’ll even find some shade in these blue-water barrels. It’s literally right next to Tamarindo and if you don’t want to drive your car a few miles, you can pay a couple of bucks for a boat ride that will take you across the estuary that divides these two beaches. Costa Rica’s 2015 National Surfing Champion Jason Torres gets air off a wave at Playa Hermosa’s famous “La Curva,” which is located within the Punta Mala wildlife refuge. (Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times)Hermosa, also known as the National Stadium of Surfing, is one of the most popular spots throughout the country. You can find this spot in the Central Pacific just five minutes away from Jacó. Legends like Kelly Slater have surfed it: he said it’s one of his favorite surfing spots in the world. Local legends like the Muñoz brothers (Carlos and Alberto), Alvaro Solano and the McGonagle siblings (Noe and Leilani) will use it as their training spot.If there are no waves anywhere else, go to Hermosa. Regardless of the swell forecast, Hermosa will always have waves to offer. Its difficulty level can change from amateur to pro from one day to another. If you have never surfed before in your life, Hermosa is not recommended for you. You might get surprised by a massive set at any time, and you wouldn’t be the first one to break a board in this epic spot. Some board carnage from Playa Hermosa (Manuel Martínez / The Tico Times)Salsa Brava, the spicy sauce, is also not recommended for just anyone. Located in the beautiful southern Caribbean coast, this coral sanctuary will pump you full of adrenaline and possibly give you a harsh date with sharp coral. This spot requires specific conditions for the beast to wake up, but when it does, only the bravest and most skilled can ride it. This spot can be found in front of Puerto Viejo’s downtown, and some local insight is required to get to the lineup, as you will have to paddle around the beautiful yet sharp Caribbean reef.If you are a barrel junkie then this will be your mecca, and you can get to choose between a right or a left. Just make sure to go fully committed or else pay the price of this mythical spot.If you are planning your next surf trip to Costa Rica, then you are in for a treat. Wiping out Not only are there multiple spots with diverse types of waves, but you can also find plenty of surf shops to buy everything from a brand-new board to a wax bar. After hitting the water and ripping waves you will be able to lay back and enjoy a cold one while watching a multicolored sunset. Make sure to respect the environment, the local scene and the priority in the water, and you are in for one remarkable experience.Coming soon I will talk about two magical spots that have a lot to offer: Cóbano and the Southern Pacific, with some insight from local surfers and shapers. See you next time and till then, see you in the water. Facebook Comments Related posts:World Surfing League arrives in Jacó Costa Rica steps up safety measures ahead of World Surfing Games in Jacó Through adaptive surfing, disabled athletes conquer Costa Rica’s waves Anthony Fillingim crowned 2018 Costa Rican surf champion, Rubiana Brownell scores historic triple win Costa Rica’s known for great surfing spots like Jacó, Hermosa, Tamarindo, Grande and Salsa Brava, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. That’s where I started surfing, and they’re the most popular among locals and visitors, but us locals still keep a few spots secret, especially those who like ripping waves in the privacy of their own backyard.As a Costa Rican who’s been ripping local waves for the past nine years, I’ve surfed them all.I think.According to my mom, I went nuts the first time I set foot in the ocean, but because we lived in San José, I couldn’t get a board and start surfing until I was 17. I didn’t know anything about the sport. I didn’t have a car or a network of fellow surfers.I bought myself a $150 LSD board with plastic fins and a Kommunity leash and pad and learned how to paddle, duck dive and float. I couldn’t get into a good pace until I got a car years later. My main spots were now just 90 minutes and $30 worth of gas away. A secret spot in the central Pacific (Manuel Martínez / The Tico Times)Then my network of local surfers started growing. My girlfriend’s best friend’s boyfriend was this Italian guy who shaped boards in Santa Teresa. He took me to his favorite spot and then pointed out the fact that I needed a board that fit my body better.I found the perfect match at a shop in Tamarindo, and I could totally feel the difference after my first session. I no longer was the slowest paddler, and I got the first taste of a right and left-hander.Now I’m 26 and have two boards, a 6’0” Denga with large Future Fiberglass Fins from a local surf shop in Santa Teresa, and a 6’2” Carton with FCS Medium size fiberglass fins from a legendary Jacó shaper. Both these boards both have a volume between 30 and 35 liters and they’re a couple of rockets. I’m hoping to get more barrel time and, with a lot of hard work and patience, land my first aerial tricks.
New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Guerreiro said his statistics were based on an exhaustive 2003 study, updated with the findings of the agency’s inspectors as they visit building sites to certify the presence a qualified engineer. Crea does not have the right to order its own building inspections, he said.After the January tragedy, some critics lashed out at what they called a lack of oversight by local authorities, saying it creates a culture of impunity that leads to accidents.Guerreiro pointed to the private sector, which is largely behind the renaissance in Lapa, as a possible solution to the dangerously dilapidated buildings.“Happily, the technology is at a point where most of these buildings could be fully recuperated, especially if there’s an entrepreneur who’d continue to invest in their maintenance,” he said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Agostinho Guerreiro, president of Crea, a public entity representing members of the engineering profession, urged authorities here to act before other buildings tumble down.“These buildings aren’t necessarily going to fall down next week or next month _ I don’t want to cause public panic _ but these 100 or so buildings are definitely in bad enough shape that action is required,” Guerreiro told The Associated Press. “We need a public planning strategy that takes these buildings into account and takes concrete steps to preserve them.”About half the at-risk buildings are rambling bourgeois homes from the turn of the 20th century or even earlier, while about 20 were built as recently as the 1980s and abandoned because of money, legal or other problems, he said.He said that like the buildings in the Tuesday and January incidents, most of the at-risk structures are concentrated in the historic downtown, where gutted, once-grand bourgeois homes are wedged between modern towers.Other areas of concern are the neighborhood around the legendary Maracana soccer stadium, where the World Cup final is to be held, and the popular nightlife hotspot Lapa, he said. But he added that vast renovation projects under way in and around Maracana should make any risk negligible for the soccer tournament, while bar and nightclub owners’ renovation of many old buildings in Lapa had substantially reduced the risk in that area. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Sponsored Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments Share Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Associated PressRIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – More than 100 abandoned buildings in Rio de Janeiro are in such poor condition they are at risk of collapsing, the head of a regional engineering agency said Wednesday, a day after part of a two-story building crumbled in the Olympic city’s colonial downtown.No one was injured in Tuesday’s incident, but it was a chilling reminder of the January collapse of three other downtown buildings, which left 17 people dead and five missing and raised questions about Rio’s readiness to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center
Top Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates The man was to appear later Tuesday in court, where a judge was expected to order that he remain in custody while authorities investigate.The French Embassy in Delhi confirmed that the man was an employee at the Bangalore consulate and said it could not comment on the case while an investigation is under way. It said international law does not provide for immunity for acts committed outside the exercise of consular duties.In Paris, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero declined to identify the man but said he was primarily involved in administrative work at the consulate.“We have to let police and the justice system do their job,” Valero said. “We have to wait for the results of the investigation.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like The vital role family plays in society Sponsored Stories Comments Share How men can have a healthy 2019 More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements NEW DELHI (AP) – Indian police detained a French consular official on Tuesday after his wife accused him of raping their 3-year-old daughter.Bangalore Police Commissioner Jyothi Prakash Mirji said the Frenchman was taken into custody and escorted to a hospital for undisclosed medical tests.“The investigation is going on. We have seized his passport,” he said.Mirji said the detention was based on a police complaint filed by his Indian wife last week accusing the man of raping their daughter. The wife declined to comment while the case was pending.
The co-chairs “expressed their deep concern and regret for the damage the pardon and any attempts to glorify the crime have done to the peace process and trust between the sides,” an OSCE statement said.Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov also spoke by telephone with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on Monday, ministry spokesman Elman Abdullayev said.Mamedyarov “underlined that the question of Ramil Safarov must not be looked at outside the context of the fact of the occupation, because it is a consequence of this Armenian aggression,” Abdullayev said.Armenian Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandian in turn said the “international society cannot tolerate the continuation of Azerbaijan’s adventurist policy under the cover of the negotiations process.”Separately from the OSCE statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned both Hungary’s release of Safarov and Azerbaijan’s pardon of him.“We believe that these actions of Azerbaijani as well as Hungarian authorities contradict internationally brokered efforts, of the OSCE’s Minsk group in particular, to ease tensions in the region,” the ministry said. Negotiators from Russia, the United States and France under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have led efforts since then to find a resolution to the conflict, but with little visible result.The tensions rose sharply last week after Hungary repatriated Safarov, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2004 axe murder of Armenian Lt. Gurgen Makarian while both were in Hungary on a NATO language-training course.Hungary said Azerbaijan promised that Safarov would serve his sentence in a local prison, but he received a presidential pardon hours after returning and later was promoted from lieutenant to major.An outraged Armenian President Serge Sarkisian broke diplomatic relations with Hungary and said Armenia was willing to resume fighting against Azerbaijan.Reigniting the frozen conflict would be of serious concern to Russia, which borders Azerbaijan and has a military base in Armenia, as well as the West. A major pipeline through Azerbaijan transports Caspian Sea oil to Turkey and both countries have potential strategic importance because they border Iran.The co-chairs of the “Minsk Group,” the troika negotiating on Nagorno-Karabakh, met in Paris with the Armenian foreign minister on Sunday and his Azerbaijani counterpart on Monday. Comments Share Associated PressMOSCOW (AP) – International negotiators say Azerbaijan’s pardoning of a military officer who murdered an Armenian officer has harmed attempts to establish peace between the countries.Azerbaijan in turn strongly defended the move, saying the pardon of Ramil Safarov is a consequence of Armenian occupation of a part of Azerbaijan.The Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and some adjacent territory has been under the control of Armenian troops and local ethnic Armenian forces since a 1994 cease-fire ended a six-year war that killed an estimated 30,000 people and drove about 1 million from their homes. Sponsored Stories Top Stories Men’s health affects baby’s health too Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The White House also criticized the decision to free Safarov.During his trial in Budapest, Safarov claimed that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was at the root of his actions and that he killed Markarian while the victim was sleeping after the Armenian repeatedly provoked and ridiculed him.—Aida Sultanova in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Avet Demourian in Yerevan, Armenia, contributed to this report(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 improvement The difference between men and women when it comes to pain How do cataracts affect your vision?
Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 4 must play golf courses in Arizona The BBC report did not name McAlpine, a member of the House of Lords, but it led to widespread Internet chatter about him.McAlpine said Thursday he would proceed with a lawsuit against Sally Bercow, wife of the British Parliament speaker, who named him on Twitter, where she had thousands of followers.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix LONDON (AP) – A British politician wrongly accused of child sex abuse has dropped his threat to sue people who named him on Twitter _ as long as they have fewer than 500 followers.Alistair McAlpine is asking those tweeters with fewer than 500 followers who falsely labeled him a pedophile to donate 25 pounds ($38) to a children’s charity.McAlpine has already received damages from the BBC, which ran a report last year linking him to decades-old child sex abuse. Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Check your body, save your life Comments Share Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day
AP10ThingsToSee – Workers hang a banner depicting actress Ingrid Bergman on the Palais during preparations for the 68th international film festival in Cannes, southern France on Monday, May 11, 2015. The festival runs from May 13 to May 24. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Quick workouts for men “Yesterday, as I was walking up the red carpet with Mama enormous, I got up to (festival director) Thierry Fremaux, I said ‘Thierry, I don’t miss her anymore,’” Rossellini said Thursday. “Thirty years since she died, she’s so present. It’s wonderful.”–By Jill Lawless, http://Twitter.com/JillLawlessCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments Share New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Top Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home CANNES, France (AP) — Isabella Rossellini says it’s a moving experience to see her late mother all over Cannes.The actress-director is the daughter of Swedish screen icon Ingrid Bergman, whose face adorns the official poster for the 68th annual festival. A giant version of the image towers over the famous red-carpeted steps of Cannes’ Palais des Festivals.Rossellini said she feels both honored and touched by the poster, and by a Cannes premiere for a documentary about Bergman, who died in 1982.
Recently pried off the trailer, the work called “Silent Majority,” which depicts a commando raid to install sound gear for a rave, goes up for auction Monday in Paris.The Digard auction house hopes it will fetch at least $400,000. Failing that, the plan is to put it up for private sale.The owner wanted only his first name, Nathan, to be used to avoid more hassle over his strange and valuable possession. His four children, who tagged along to Paris, still treat the work casually, slipping up alongside it on the street where it was displayed for the weekend.Nathan had already been on the road for most of his life when Banksy approached him about the trailer that was his home at the time. In exchange for a bit of money and some tickets to the music festival, the then-obscure artist had a deal. He and a collaborator known as Inkie set to work, painting during the annual festival best remembered that year for its ankle-deep mud.“I took some Champagne to sell, so we were drinking and selling Champagne while he was painting,” Nathan said. “Other than that, our lives just carried on. Then he got famous and it got valuable.”Bansky himself is as elusive as his work is public. The Internet is full of speculation about his identity, fuelled by Banksy’s refusal to play along. His website, displaying a photo of a man in a balaclava, says he “is not represented by an art gallery, is not on Facebook and has never used Twitter.” Top Stories Sponsored Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosterone “If I didn’t like it, I would have painted over it,” he said. “Then when he finished it, it looked great. You walk out your truck in the morning, open the door and there’s 50 people taking photos.”Nathan said he hopes to build a house with the money from the proceeds, putting it on the same piece of land where the trailer stood for so long.“We’ll end up living in it again,” he said. “It needs a different type of owner.”Banksy himself won’t be at the auction, but the organization that he set up to authenticate his work has given “Silent Majority” a rare certificate that allows its buyer the unusual chance to own the piece legally. On his website, Banksy discussed the sale of street art.“As a kid I always dreamt of growing up to be a character in Robin Hood,” he wrote. “I just never realized I’d end up playing one of the gold coins.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. PARIS (AP) — Painted by one of the world’s most famous street artists, installed first at a mud-soaked music festival and then beneath an oak tree, the trailer was home first to an itinerant British couple and then their growing family.In 1998, the truck owner knew Banksy as someone he had once busked with in Bristol, England, and the friend of his sister’s boyfriend, and for 200 pounds (about $300 at the time), he agreed to turn his trailer into a blank canvas for the Glastonbury music festival. Comments Share Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Nathan said wistfully he hadn’t seen him in years: “He’s hidden himself away from us lot for some reason.”Inkie is also attending the Paris auction, where he was given a blank canvas and space on the sidewalk in a ritzy Parisian version of the mud-splattered Glastonbury day when he and Banksy painted the trailer. “We painted it live over a day,” Inkie said after carefully peeling off a latex glove and offering a handshake. “He came up with the idea.”The trailer made its way to other festivals over the years, with Nathan driving and setting up tents as he had in the years before the spray paint hit his home. And it started to get more attention.“Silent Majority” was painted freehand, rather than using stencils as has been Banksy’s signature, and is a rare example of the artist’s early work, said Mary McCarthy, a British street art expert who helped organize Monday’s auction.“This piece was a commissioned piece. So it wasn’t a piece that Banksy just threw on the side of a truck or threw on a wall,” McCarthy said. Nathan doesn’t quite describe himself as a commissioner of artwork, but the piece became part of his life over more than a decade, after he met his wife and the two of them started a family. In this photo taken Saturday May 30, 2015, people walk past a trailer which British street artist Banksy turned into a piece entitled “Silent Majority”, as it is displayed outside the Digard auction house in Paris. The work called “Silent Majority,” which depicts a commando raid to install sound gear for a rave, goes up for auction Monday in Paris. The Digard auction house hopes it will fetch at least $400,000. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon) 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 treatments for adult scoliosis
Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The difference between men and women when it comes to pain But the takeover ratio, which gives a mere 0.35 share in the new entity for each C&T share, prompted Elliott Associates, the American hedge fund that is the third-largest investor, to take legal action against the deal. The fund says the takeover is unfair to C&T shareholders because it undervalues the company.Despite the poor image of foreign hedge funds in South Korea, many investors here agree with Elliott.The takeover “is far from being fair or reasonable,” said Kim Gyeong-hwan, a 40-year-old dentist in Seoul who owns about 40 million won ($36,000) of shares in Samsung C&T. “Elliott’s argument is reasonable. Shareholders are owners of the company, not the head of the company.”Few buy Samsung’s argument that its plan for one company in the empire to take over another will create business benefits. The deal is instead seen as crucial for the once-in-a-generation leadership transition underway at Samsung, which has accelerated since patriarch Lee Kun-hee, 73, was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack in May last year.His son and heir apparent Lee Jae-yong does not have a major shareholding in Samsung Electronics Co., the crown jewel in the Samsung empire. Inheriting his father’s shares in Samsung Electronics or his stakes in other key Samsung firms that have stakes in the consumer electronics giant would incur heavy inheritance taxes that could go over $5 billion. How men can have a healthy 2019 Elliott’s maneuvering has tapped into discontent in South Korea with how regulators, the media, and the country’s pension service, are not standing up for shareholders.Kim Jae-chul, a 63-year-old retiree from the textile industry, said he was so angered he bought 680 shares so he could vote on the deal at the July 17 meeting of C&T shareholders. Even though he feels proud when he sees Samsung phones abroad, that pride isn’t going to stop him from casting his first vote as a shareholder against the deal, he said.“I feel enraged to think how Samsung neglects the weak people and brings all profit to the founding family.”Some who oppose the takeover acknowledge they probably won’t succeed in derailing it. Shareholders who have verified their shares on the online community account for about 0.2 percent of C&T’s outstanding shares. They hope to amass over 3 percent of the vote.“Regardless of the opposition from the public, succession steps will continue,” said Oh Sang-pyo, who holds voting rights for 1,500 Samsung C&T shares. “But in organizing the succession, there should at least be a sense of ethics, transparency and compliance with law. Taxes should be properly paid.” Comments Share An expert in corporate governance said Elliott’s legal battle and support from the minority shareholders in Korea will send a message to Lee, the Samsung heir, that the current way of making decisions could come at a cost.“Everyone knows that the merger was announced for succession and inheritance, not for the company’s value or for shareholders’ profit,” said Chae Yi-bae, an analyst at the Center for Good Corporate Governance. “Now vice chairman Lee Jae-yong has lost trust from markets and from shareholders.”___Follow Youkyung Lee: www.twitter.com/YKLeeAPCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. But Lee, 47, is a major shareholder in Cheil thanks to shares he was effectively gifted before the company went public. If Cheil takes over Samsung C&T, Lee will control its 4.1 percent stake in Samsung Electronics that would cost him $7 billion if he had to buy the shares on the market.The groundswell of shareholder activism in support of Elliott Associates is a departure from South Korea’s typical hostility to foreign funds and shows that weak corporate governance, often cited overseas as a risk of investing in Samsung and other family-controlled conglomerates, is getting growing attention in South Korea. Most of the country’s biggest companies are publicly traded but the families who founded them one or two generations ago retain disproportionate influence, irking other shareholders who feel the business elite treats public companies as their personal property.Samsung says the proposed takeover deal and ratio are legal. It says the ratio is based on Samsung C&T’s recent share price. It was near a five-year low before the deal was announced, a performance at odd with its robust finances.Kim, the dentist, is leading efforts to ensure that Samsung C&T management, its board and other shareholders hear their voices, including South Korea’s National Pension Service, which has a 9.9-percent stake in C&T and has not expressed its stance on the deal. More than 2,000 shareholders in C&T have gathered at an online community, vowing to vote against the deal, while others supporting Elliott have written to the court that will hear the case. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 treatments for adult scoliosis In this June 23, 2015, Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., speaks during a press conference at the company’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. Thousands of South Korean investors are backing an American hedge fund’s bid to thwart a business combination between Samsung companies that they argue will only enrich the conglomerate’s wealthy founding family. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Thousands of South Korean investors are backing an American hedge fund’s bid to thwart a business combination between Samsung companies that they argue will only enrich the country’s wealthiest family.At stake: Billions of dollars for the Lee family that founded Samsung and South Korea’s image as a fair place for investors, big and small.Last month, Samsung announced that its defacto holding company Cheil Industries, which operates fashion, catering and theme park businesses, will take over Samsung C&T, a builder of skyscrapers and trader of goods.
Earlier Friday, the families complained to Israeli media over their treatment by government officials, saying their anguish is being ignored.Netanyahu said Israel is doing everything it can to bring both men home. He met with the Mengistu family in the south of the country on Friday afternoon.“We face a very cruel and cynical enemy that denies the most basic humanitarian duty of returning innocent civilians home to their country,” he said. “We will not relent and will do everything necessary to bring these citizens home.”According to COGAT, the defense body that handles civilian issues with the Palestinians, Mengistu disappeared after he “independently” crossed the border fence and entered Gaza on Sept. 7, two weeks after the end of last summer’s war between the Islamic militant group Hamas and Israel.Israeli media reported he had been distraught at the time of his disappearance.The second man is a Bedouin Arab citizen from southern Israel. Israeli officials have refused to identify him or say how long he had been in Gaza or how he got there. They also would not say which group had him in custody.The case was only allowed to be made public on Thursday — months after the two disappeared — while a gag order is still in place on some of the details surrounding the two men. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Comments Share CORRECTS SPELLING OF SECOND NAME TO MENGISTU. The mother of Avraham Mengistu, 28, walks to a family press conference, at the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, Thursday, July 9, 2015. An Israeli security official said Thursday the Hamas militant group has been holding Mengistu in the Gaza Strip for nearly a year. The Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said Mengistu, born in 1986 from the Israeli city of Ashkelon, independently crossed the border fence into the Gaza Strip in September last year, nearly two weeks after the end of the Israel-Gaza war. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Israeli officials have in the past said that publicity surrounding cases of missing Israelis makes the process of bringing captives home longer and tougher.For Israelis, captivity of their citizens is an emotionally charged issue. Captured soldier Gilad Schalit was held hostage in Gaza for more than five years, until he was exchanged for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, many involved in bloody attacks against civilians, in 2011.Netanyahu said Thursday he held Hamas, the Islamic militant group which has ruled Gaza since seizing control of the territory in 2007, responsible for the fate of both men. Israel was working to free them and that he had appointed a representative to deal with the matter, he said.But there were no threats of action against Hamas, in contrast to a bruising military campaign that followed Hamas’ capture of Schalit in a 2006 cross-border raid — or more recently, the arrests of scores of Hamas supporters after the deadly abductions of three Israeli teens in the West Bank last year.The teenagers’ slaying by Palestinian gunmen set off a string of events that culminated in a 50-day war that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians in Gaza and 73 people on the Israeli side. It was their third war since the Hamas takeover. Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Thousands of Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, many of them secretly airlifted into the country in 1984 and 1990, but their absorption into Israeli society has been difficult. Although they are Jewish, Ethiopian community members complain of discrimination and police harassment.Bedouins make up a small group within Israel’s Arab minority, numbering about 180,000. Some live in organized townships while others still reside in desert tents to stay closer to their nomadic traditions.Earlier Friday, the man identified as a relative of the missing Bedouin told Israel Radio that “nobody is talking to us, this isn’t nice.” The relative’s identity also falls under the same gag order.Another man, only identified by his first name Khaid and said to be someone who knows the Bedouin man well, told Army Radio that the Bedouin had gone missing several times before in Gaza but had been sent back.On Thursday night, Channel 10 TV broadcast a recording of government official Lior Lotan, a Netanyahu negotiator, chastising the Mengistu family for pressing Netanyahu for answers on the case. Lotan apologized publicly on Friday.Mengistu’s uncle, Tzachi Malasa, told Army Radio that he feels his family is being treated badly “because he’s black,” referring to his nephew. Quick workouts for men New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Friday to bring back home two Israeli citizens held captive in Gaza as he visited the family of one of the men.Netanyahu’s remarks came a day after Israel’s stunning announcement that two men — Avraham Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent, and a Bedouin from Israel’s Arab minority whose identity is still under a gag order — are being held captive in the Gaza Strip. Sponsored Stories Also Friday, opposition leader Isaac Herzog of the Labor Party wrote on his Facebook page that if he was prime minister he would have “embraced the family from the first moment and not waited until pressure from the media and public forces him to make contact.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home The vital role family plays in society
Source = Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre was today awarded the title of ‘Worldwide Convention Centre Team of the Year’ at a glittering awards ceremony in London by the leading international publication Conference & Incentive Travel (C&IT).The C&IT Excellence Awards are presented annually to celebrate excellence in the international meetings industry encompassing all areas of operational performance.Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, which is operated by leading international venue management group, AEG Ogden, was shortlisted for the awards alongside two of the world’s leading convention centres – ExCel London and SCEC Glasgow.BCEC’s award submission was based on the launch to the market of the Centre’s $140 million expansion – Australia’s newest convention centre.The Centre’s European based international representative Mary-Jane Wiedemann received the award on behalf of the BCEC team. Mary-Jane is an extension of the Centre’s very experienced International Sales Team. BCEC General Manager, Bob O’Keeffe said the highly sought after award was an honour and ultimate recognition of the Centre’s team for its experience, expertise, professionalism and high levels of personal service.“We have always placed the highest priority on delivering superior standards of professionalism and service excellence and our team takes tremendous pride in all they do. This international award endorses this strategy and the dedication and commitment of all members of our team,” he said.2012 has been a momentous year for the Centre with the opening of BCEC on Grey Street, the Centre’s $140 million boutique expansion and the announcement by the Australian Government of BCEC as the official venue for the G20 Leaders Summit in 2014. This year the Centre was also named Best Meeting Venue for 500 delegates or more in the Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) National Awards.
The company in charge of all Tiber River cruises has suspended operations indefinitely, claiming the waterway is just too dirty.”We’re ashamed of the Tiber’s state of abandonment,” a Rome Boats spokesperson has said.According to the spokesperson, the last time the river was cleaned was in 2008 and Rome City Hall is denying responsibility for the Tiber’s upkeep (a still used 1906 law has deemed the waters of the Tiber as ‘maritime’ and not ‘communal’ and therefore not the city’s responsibility), the AFP reported.Rome Boats has run river cruises along the Tiber, Italy’s third longest river, since 2003, but with the river’s stone embankments now grey with pollution and rubbish collecting at the river bank, the company’s spokesperson said the cruises will not commence “out of respect” for tourists and locals alike.“Everyone can see it since trees along the Tiber are covered in plastic bags and other rubbish every time the river overflows,” the spokesperson said.From the chatter on TripAdvisor the cruises may not be missed as the narrowness of the river and the high embankments don’t recommend themselves to all visitors. The Tiber, itself, however is still rated well, ranking 320 out of the 530 Roman attractions reviewed on the site.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G. A. Cruise company ashamed of Tiber’s “abandonment”.
Puttipong Prasarttong-OsothBangkok Airways announces Operating Results of 2017Bangkok Airways announces Operating Results of 2017Bangkok Airways Public Company Limited (BA) announces the company’s operating results of 2017 with total revenue amounting to 28,493.3 million baht. The net profit was reported at 846.4 million baht up by 6.5 percent compared to 2016.Mr. Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth, President of Bangkok Airways Public Company Limited commented that, “In 2017, total revenue of the company was 28,493.3 million baht, increased by 6.5 percent from the previous year. Net profit was reported amounting to 846.4 million baht in which the profit attributable to the equity holders of the company was 787.9 million baht. Earnings per share was 0.38 baht. The total number of passengers in 2017 was 5.944 million passengers, increased by 5 percent. The passenger load factor was at 68.5 percent.Currently, Bangkok Airways operates a fleet of 38 aircraft; 15 ATR 72-500s/600s and 23 Airbus A319s/A320s.Bangkok AirwaysSource = Bangkok Airways
Largest Quest Apartment Hotel opens in Melbourne’s DocklandsLargest Quest Apartment Hotel opens in Melbourne’s DocklandsQuest Apartment Hotels reached a major milestone with the launch of Quest NewQuay in Melbourne’s Docklands, the network’s largest property.Quest Apartment Hotels General Manager – Growth said “Quest NewQuay is the network’s largest apartment hotel featuring 221 serviced apartments. Situated in the heart of Melbourne’s Docklands, the property is located within walking distance of Victoria Harbour and Melbourne’s CBD. We have worked closely with our development partner MAB Corporation and the Victorian Government to ensure that our guests enjoy a premium home-away from home experience in the heart of Melbourne’s Docklands,” Mr Shields said.Developed by MAB Corporation, Quest NewQuay is the fourteenth tower completed by MAB, bringing the property developer’s total investment in the precinct to more than $2.5 billion. QuestApartment Hotels Chief Commercial officer, Craig Ryan, said Quest NewQuay, our most ambitious property to date at approximately double the size of the average Quest property, is perfectly suited for professionals or families relocating to Melbourne.“The Docklands has grown to become one of Australia’s most vibrant precincts and will continue to attract families, business travellers and tourists for years to come. The demand for servicedapartments in this area is growing each year and we’re very proud to deliver the City of Melbourne’s largest number of two- and three-bedroom apartments.”The Docklands has attracted more than $12 billion in private investment as part of its urban renewal plan. Development Victoria Group Head of Precincts, Geoff Ward, said Quest NewQuay is an asset to the precinct and a great choice for guests visiting the Docklands.“The Docklands has now matured, evidenced by the fact that the area is home to 11,000 people and 60,000 workers. It also attracts millions of visitors each year and is home to some of Australia’s largest domestic and international headquarters, so Quest NewQuay is well positioned to service visitors and corporate travellers in the area,” Mr Ward said.Quest NewQuay is the network’s thirteenth property in the City of Melbourne and features studio and one, two and three-bedroom apartments with fully-equipped kitchenettes, laundry facilities and a private balcony. The property also features a business centre, conference facilities, gymnasium, secure parking and a rooftop alfresco BBQ and entertainment area.The apartment hotel is situated within walking distance of Marvel Stadium, The District Docklands and Melbourne’s free tram zone. Quest NewQuay is 20 minutes from Melbourne Airport, which caters well to business travellers in need of a direct route to and from the city.Purchased in 2016, the property is owned by Ascott-Qatar Investment Authority’s joint venture.Quest NewQuay is one of 9 new property openings across Australia, New Zealand and the UK in the next two years, including St Kilda Road (VIC), South Perth Foreshore, Burwood East andJoondalup (WA); Orange; Taurangxa Central, on Tuam and Mount Eden (NZ) and Liverpool (UK).For more information go to questnewquay.com.au Source = Quest Apartment Hotels
Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia Pacific 2019Margaret River & Southern WA Tops Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia Pacific 2019Global travel authority Lonely Planet has today named Margaret River & Southern WA as the number-one Asian-Pacific destination to visit in the year ahead.Expanded this year to include Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, Best in Asia Pacific is Lonely Planet’s fourth annual agenda-setting list of the region’s 10 best destinations to visit in the next 12 months.Announcing Margaret River & Southern WA’s top-ranking, Lonely Planet enthuses: “Take one look at Meelup Beach and you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life: the West Australian bush parts to reveal ocean the hue of a Bombay Sapphire bottle, which is typical of the coastline stretching from Margaret River to the state’s south. Beyond the sand, some of the country’s slickest wineries, breweries and restaurants lie between tracts of tall-tree forest and kangaroo-dotted farmland.”Lonely Planet adds: “Locals have long felt their turf rivals the east coast travel trail; now, 17-hour direct flights from London to capital city Perth put it at Europe’s fingertips. Adding to the argument are coveted food and culture-amped festivals, from Gourmet Escape to Truffle Kerfuffle and Taste Great Southern. There’s also amazing surf, whales aplenty and DIY coastal hikes with paved sections, improving accessibility for all.”“Asia Pacific has it all,” says Lonely Planet’s Media Spokesperson for the region, Chris Zeiher. “Its food delights the senses, its forests and seas teem with life, and its cities fizz with culture and creativity. Our experts have explored this vast region’s highlands, islands and everything in between to find the best places to visit this year.”“From primate-filled jungles to mirage-like lagoons,” Chris says, “their recommendations reflect a part of the world increasingly determined to protect its most prized possessions at the same time as it charges whole-heartedly into the future.”Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia Pacific 2019 is available online, with accompanying articles to each destination, at lonelyplanet.com/best-in-asia-pacific.Lonely Planet’s Best in Asia Pacific 20191. Margaret River & Southern WA, Australia2. Shikoku, Japan“This somewhat off-the-beaten-path haven is finally being discovered by non-Japanese visitors, with an increasing number of international flights winging into the main cities of Takamatsu and Matsuyama.”3. Bay of Islands & Northland, New Zealand“Northland is the cradle of the country’s culture and history – both for the indigenous Māori people and for the European settlers who followed them. The two formally came together with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, and 2020 sees the 180th anniversary of that key nation-building event.”4. Singapore“Singapore was one of the brightest stars in the 2018 movie blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians, and the Lion City is hipper and hotter than ever. 2019 offers a chance to participate in the city’s bicentennial, but also to celebrate more than 700 years of Singapore’s rich, diverse history.”5. The Cook Islands“A visit to the Cook Islands, 15 tiny islets, far-flung over a swathe of the deep-blue, breezy Pacific Ocean, is bound to rejuvenate even the most jaded. And locals on the main island, Rarotonga, are welcoming visitors off an increasing number of international flights to their Polynesian paradise.”6. Central Vietnam“Hue’s vibrant cuisine showcases the city’s imperial legacy, while south in Hoi An’s storied laneways, local dishes include fragrant cao lầu noodles. Seafood stars in nearby Danang, and the city alongside the Han River is becoming one of Vietnam’s most exciting urban destinations.”7. Fiji“From solar-powered resorts that serve locally harvested food to coral reef restoration projects and limited plastic usage, this vulnerable island nation has moved headlong into eco-tourism. October 10, 2020, will mark the island nation’s 50th year of independence, called ‘Fiji Day’8. Palawan, Philippines“These are the heady days when new air routes and upgraded roads make it easier than ever to explore the dramatic seascapes and wildlife-laden jungles of the slender 400km-long main island (also called Palawan) before it inevitably becomes more developed.”9. Beijing, China“Beijing is changing fast as the new decade approaches. In a bid to battle the smog, an eco-friendly bike-sharing scheme has launched, and the rapidly expanding subway is expected to reduce traffic congestion. High-speed links will soon race passengers to the extraordinary, Zaha Hadid-designed, starfish-shaped Beijing Daxing International, the world’s largest airport, which is slated to open later this year “10. Cambodia“The skyline of Phnom Penh is on the up, bringing sky bars and designer dining; the Southern Islands are generating a beach buzz thanks to new boutique and luxury resorts; colonial-era vestiges are under restoration in Battambang and Kampot; and in remote areas like Koh Kong and Mondulkiri, wildlife spotting is drawing visitors off-the-beaten track. New airlines are making connections between Siem Reap and the South Coast smoother, with hydrofoils whisking people to the islands.”To celebrate this year’s Best in Asia Pacific, Lonely Planet is giving visitors to lonelyplanet.com/best-in-asia-pacific the chance to win a tour of their choice to explore the region with G Adventures – the small group adventure travel specialists. There are over 250 tours to choose from across Asia and Pacific, and the winner will receive a $5,000 voucher from G Adventures to spend on their favourite, plus $4,000 towards two return flights. To enter, simply tell us – in 25 words or less – where in Asia Pacific you’d like to go and why.ABOUT LONELY PLANETLonely Planet is a leading travel media company and the world’s number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveller since 1973. Over the past four decades, we’ve printed more than 148 million guidebooks and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travellers. You’ll also find our content on lonelyplanet.com, mobile, video, guidebooks in 14 languages and 11 international magazine editions, children’s books, lifestyle books, ebooks, and more. Visit us at lonelyplanet.com or join our social community of over 14 million travellers. Find us on Facebook (facebook.com/lonelyplanet), Twitter (@lonelyplanet), Instagram (instagram.com/lonelyplanet) and Snapchat (@lonely.planet).Source = Lonely Planet