No related posts. From the print editionIn a country loved for its intense and almost consistent sunshine, solar energy is an enticing investment for homes and businesses. But how do consumers get such a system?The answer may be a few young companies here that provide solar options for home and business owners at a time when solar is becoming more cost-efficient.With a 6.5-year payback on solar projects and recent changes in government regulations on renewable-energy investments, the landscape is becoming increasingly favorable for solar, said Lester Sacks, who founded Costa Rica Solar Solutions four years ago.“In 2008, things were on the rise, and then economic fallout definitely affected sales,” Sacks said. “There has always been a lag since then, but this year we’re just starting to see renewed interest.”Solar energy history began in Costa Rica long before recent economic crises. In 1977, Dr. S. S. Nandwani was invited to work on solar energy at National University in Heredia, north of the capital. Since then, a lack of funding has been a constant challenge. But solar energy is now included in national information material on energy-saving practices and machinery, the use of solar power for cooking is being promoted in rural communities, and even tourism is benefiting through the use of solar energy by hotels and sports centers for cooking, hot water and in heating swimming pools. The National University is working with the Education Ministry and the Environment Ministry to produce literature and equipment for schools and short training courses. In the meantime, Nandwani continues searching for outlets to inform people of the results and social influence of his research.“The hardest part is getting people to realize you will get your money back,” Sacks said. “It’s all about educating people that solar is not a toy, and we can generate real power to run our lives. It takes a lot of forward thinking to see where energy is today and where it will be tomorrow.”Sacks’ Costa Rica Solar Solutions recommends hybrid systems feeding into the country’s national electricity grid as well as battery backup. This prevents burnouts during surges and the ability to ride out outages. Panels sold by the company have a 25-year warranty, and most are expected to last up to 40 years.Sacks designed and built one of the country’s largest solar systems at the boutique hotel Kura Villas on the southern Pacific coast. The system currently uses 30 panels at 280 watts each.Until 2010, those harnessing solar energy in Costa Rica could not connect to the Costa Rican Electricity Institute’s (ICE) grid. But a few years ago, ICE dropped sales and import taxes and fees for solar systems and developed a net metering program. This program allows residential and commercial structures on the ICE grid to integrate directly into the electricity switchboard, generating electricity during the day for direct use. If a system generates more electricity than a building consumes, the excess power is automatically exported to the grid and counted as credit on the electricity meter. If a building requires more electricity than the solar power system generates, the difference is automatically imported from the grid and metered as debit.Cham Brownwell, chief operating officer for Pura Vida Energy Systems, which opened in 2010, said the net metering program is a large step forward for green energy development.“Before net metering you would have to have a large battery to collect energy for when the sun doesn’t shine,” he said. “This is great for Costa Rica too to have access to extra electric energy during peak hours.”Only the state-run ICE allows this energy credit- and debit-metering program for solar-generated electricity; cooperative electricity companies do not participate. Brownwell doubts other companies will participate in net metering until the Public Services Regulatory Authority enforces regulations that make benefits available for all consumers, regardless of which utility company they use.In Guanacaste, a northwestern province with the sunniest days in the country, ICE covers only half of the area. Therefore half of the region cannot take advantage of the metered solar credit.“Electricity is very expensive in this country already,” Brownwell said. “Over the past five years, the percentage increases have been in the double digits. But when you invest in a solar system, you lock into the electricity rates for the lifetime of your solar system. Every time rates go up, your system is still making the same amount of energy, so it’s all the more you save.”Brownwell said his company’s most popular system is the Westinghouse Solar System for both residential and commercial structures. Because of its simplicity, contractors can install the unit themselves. All of Pura Vida’s equipment is imported from the United States and has a 25-year guarantee. The smallest system the company offers is a three-kilowatt system for $15,000, which saves a consumer a projected $110 per month. The largest system the company offers is a 10-kilowatt system for $40,000, which saves consumers $550 per month.One of the newest solar companies in the country is Powersmart Solar. This New Zealand-based company began operating in Costa Rica in January. “We believe solar energy in Central America has a great future,” said Yohann Chateau, the company’s Costa Rica manager. “This is a very safe investment in Costa Rica because of the 15-year contracts at a fixed rate that ICE is offering at the moment.”Chateau said that one challenge with developing solar systems in Costa Rica is lack of education about using the cost-effective ICE metering program and years of overpriced solar options by other companies. His company offers solar consultation and quotes free of charge.Powersmart offers solar systems for those off-grid locations. If a building is connected to the ICE grid, to install a solar power system no changes are required for the building. But it becomes more complex with off-grid projects.“Off-grid is a different way of thinking and living,” Chateau said. “It’s more financially intensive but completely possible.”Though Powersmart is new, they are already receiving calls from engineers inquiring about their solar systems. The company is unique because of its experience designing solar power systems for harsh, remote and tropical environments, Chateau said. The company’s system is designed to withstand high temperatures, salt-laden air and risk of cyclones and flooding. The systems also come with a 25-year warranty.In New Zealand’s coral-island territory of Tokelau, Powersmart has established solar energy systems that will power 100 percent of the 1,400 residents’ electricity needs. For this project, Powersmart collaborated with IT Power Australia in a project funded by the New Zealand Aid Program and supported by the government of Tokelau.“You can pay ICE prices that increase every month or make a solar investment that will be paid off in a couple years, and then it’s profit for you after that,” said Lester Sacks of Costa Rica Solar Solutions.For Sacks, energy independence is crucial: “ICE knows this, and we can achieve this with the removal of taxes and import duties for renewable energies. It’s government that needs to make good on its promise to be really green and cut down on the hoops people and companies have to jump through to participate in solar connection.”More resources:http://crsolarsolutions.comhttp://puravidaenergysystems.comhttp://powersmartsolar.co.cr Facebook Comments
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Second in a seriesData is great when one needs to identify the effects of problems in Costa Rica’s educational system; however, to understand the root causes it is necessary to seek personal stories from those affected by the problems.In Costa Rica, UNICEF reports that 7th and 10th graders suffer the highest exclusion rates (17.1 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively) among other grades. Why?After meeting with Fundación Acción Joven staff, school administrators and students within the colegios (high schools), it was revealed that drugs, prostitution and poverty are potential root causes for the high exclusion rates.I will discuss each of these problems in future blog posts to identify solutions for affected students in the northwestern province of Guanacaste and throughout the nation.Earlier, I had the opportunity to meet with Irwin Solis Paz, a 7th grader at Liceo Colegio Cartagena. With a vision of becoming a lawyer and a chef, Irwin must overcome the constant pressure to use drugs, lack of student engagement and other issues. Despite the challenges he faces every day, his family, faith and commitment to excelling has made him determined to succeed.Irwin’s unwavering commitment to his vision, despite his environment, represents a special group of students; however, what about the students who do not share the same support structures or internal drive? Must they fend for themselves? I hope we can agree that these students also deserve the support to ensure they have an equal opportunity to graduate from colegio.This brings us to our first discussion: What can be done within schools to help increase student engagement? No related posts. involved by visiting www.accionjoven.org/index, emailing email@example.com, or calling our San José office at: 2271-4407.As a current graduate student in Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, Timothy Evans has worked to combine a decade worth of youth development experience with data analytics to positively impact communities within the U.S. This international experience is providing him with invaluable tools and best practices that allow for organizations such as Fundación Acción Joven to change communities globally. This is his second blog posting on the issue of education in Costa Rica. Read his first post here. Facebook Comments Irwin’s idea seeks to incorporate music and dancing in the curriculum to engage students. He mentioned that teachers should incorporate these interactive tools into their daily lessons because it helps to keep students engaged, while decreasing the number of students who do not return to school. This is one solution, but there have to be more ideas to engage students because there is no cookie-cutter answer to solving this issue.(C.T.A. Santa Bárbara has created the Bailes Típicos program to engage students who love music and dance. This group has been a great success for engaging students interested this activity.)How can communities support schools to help decrease the exclusion rate?Fundación Acción Joven aims to prevent student dropout for teenagers who attend public high schools located in communities of high social risk. This is done through the implementation of projects designed by the educational community, and executed with the help of different stakeholders such as private enterprise, government entities, other nonprofits and volunteers. FAJ currently has offices in San José, Guanacaste, Limón and Puntarenas, and works with 10 different high schools in those regions. Get
Facebook Comments Related posts:Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson launches Facebook campaign asking Costa Rica’s Solís to drop extradition request Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson back on Interpol website as Costa Rica fugitive Little has changed 1 year after slaying of Costa Rica conservationist Jairo Mora Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson turns to human rights commission to block Costa Rica’s legal chase Environmental activist and founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Paul Watson on Wednesday congratulated Citizen Action Party (PAC) candidate Luis Guillermo Solís. He also asked for action. “Do your best to restore Costa Rica’s reputation as a real conservation-minded nation,” announced the controversial captain on his Facebook page. “The people have indeed spoken.”Watson cited a series of environmental cases that have brought international attention to Costa Rica and described President Laura Chinchilla as “the woman who sold out to the shark-finners and the narco-poachers,” pointing out that she will be gone on April 6.He also highlighted some of Solís’ promises to end corruption and to protect the environment, and said Sea Shepherd is delighted to be able to work with him. That will include delivering one of the organization’s boats – The Jairo Mora Sandoval – to Moín’s beach on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast to protect the same turtles the eponymous Tico environmentalist was trying to save when he was murdered last May.The country’s Fisheries Institute did not escape Watson’s comments as he expressed his optimism that “the corrupt agency will be overhauled.” He also said he hoped the politically motivated charges brought against him by Chinchilla “acting as a puppet to the Japanese government” will be dropped. The captain also vowed to see the protection of Cocos Island as a priority for Solís.PAC environmental spokeswoman Patricia Madrigal told The Tico Times that the Solís campaign had no official position on Watson’s case.She added that reforming the executive board of the Fisheries Institute, known as INCOPESCA by its Spanish acronym, was a priority for the candidate. But she also noted that such action would require action by the Legislative Assembly.“Generally speaking, [PAC’s] objective is to keep the promise to enforce the laws that already exist. If that were the only thing we accomplished, it would be an enormous step,” Madrigal said in a telephone interview.Last October Watson arrived in the U.S. claiming an Interpol Red Notice from Costa Rica had been dropped. At the time, a search of Interpol’s website turned up no notice of a red alert on behalf of Costa Rica, although a red alert issued by Japan was still active.On Nov. 5, Costa Rica’s First Circuit Penal Court of San José requested that U.S. officials arrest Watson and extradite him to Costa Rica.Watson’s Costa Rican attorney Federico Morales told The Tico Times a few days later that Costa Rica had reactivated an international arrest request and then communicated that decision to the U.S. Embassy.Morales said he would challenge the request, as he believes the statute of limitations on the charges against Watson expired in 2004 or 2005.Zach Dyer contributed to this post.
Is there anyone alive who doesn’t have a special, secret fondness for Shakira? Besides maybe that famously angry sea lion who attacked the singer in 2012 and was presumably unaware of her selfless work with the United Nations and had probably never even heard “She Wolf,” because he would have really liked it.Everyone else seems to have long ago succumbed to Shakira’s hip-swiveling charms. She’s an avatar of pop-culture globalization — a Colombian singer-songwriter of Lebanese descent whose songs are a multicultural grab bag of melodies from the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and, most prominently on her new, self-titled album, the American South. She’s a social-media giant. Statues have been erected in her honor. (Okay, one statue. Made of metal, not the hand-chiseled marble she deserves. And it depicts Shakira wearing pants she probably would never wear. But it’s a start.)Shakira has weird, very specific tastes: “Shakira” is not her first album to feature near-lethal doses of reggae and ’90s alt-rock, as if she hasn’t realized that those things are mostly awful. Yet she also has the broadest canvas of any pop diva in memory — she can contain multitudes, from cumbia to country, and still sound instantly, recognizably like herself.“Shakira,” her charming, awkward, immensely appealing new disc, tests this theory. It was assembled by a murderers’ row of expensive producers and writers, including Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Cirkut. Any student of recent pop history knows what comes next: dignity-killing, one-size-fits-all dance-pop songs predestined for success and oblivion in the same month.Shakira submits to Dr. Luke’s dehumanizing ministrations and manages to come out the other end sounding only slightly less like herself. “Dare (La La La)” doubles as the background music for Shakira’s new commercial for Activia yogurt, and it sounds like something Lady Gaga would have made before she became ridiculous. It’s wonderful.Most of the rest of “Shakira” seems like an uneasy bargain between what she wants (rootsy, often acoustic-based pop with a rangy feel and an affinity for early Alanis Morissette) and what the producers want (hits). It’s familiar territory for the singer, who has routinely employed of-the-moment production teams to contemporize (and Americanize) her sound, but seldom has the divide seemed so great.The best tracks split the difference: The new wave/reggae hybrid “Can’t Remember to Forget You” is an energetic duet with Rihanna, pop’s favorite inanimate object. “Loca por Ti” (one of a handful of Spanish tracks on the standard edition of the album) is ’80s jukebox country, finely rendered. The midtempo Latin pop track “You Don’t Care About Me” recalls vintage Marc Anthony.Watch a video of Shakira and Rihanna gyrating and smoking cigars (story continues below): Shakira has four fully formed emotions — Reproachful, Cheery, Let’s Dance and I Want to Do Things to You. That’s two more than Dr. Luke usually has to work with, and she also has a voice that’s hiccupy and distinct, especially at the wildest, warbliest reaches of her register. To make Shakira sound like everybody else takes some effort. On the disc’s weakest track, “Spotlight,” she sounds unerringly, depressingly, like Taylor Swift; the song sounds like a reheated “Red” outtake, and the vocal similarity is too marked to be accidental.Swift is the unlikeliest of specters. But, if only because she is one of Shakira’s few rivals who can credibly deliver a slender love song backed by an acoustic guitar, she also haunts the folk ballad “23,” one of the album’s starkest and best songs. Shakira has never been much of a lyricist, but “23” is clunkier, and braver, (“I used to think that there was no god / But then you looked at me with your blue eyes / And my agnosticism turned into dust“) than Swift would ever dare to be.Shakira’s comfort level seems to ebb and flow throughout the album: She’s commanding on the Spanish-language songs, playful on the bangers, subdued on the songs that are obviously ill-suited for her, such as the Nashville ballad “Medicine,” a collaboration with Blake Shelton, her fellow judge on “The Voice.” It’s one of those duets where two famous people from different genres are joined by their business managers in pursuit of a crossover hit. They sing at each other and both sound as if they’d rather be anywhere else. Shelton, also at half-wattage, treats her with unusual delicacy, as if he was enlisted partly for his hit-making skills and partly to stop her from running away.Stewart is a freelance writer.© 2014, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Related posts:The legendary Will Smith returns to rap with Colombia’s Bomba Estereo Selena died 20 years ago – why we’re still talking about her Argentine rock star Charly García successfully undergoes hip surgery Cuban legends Buena Vista Social Club to play at White House
Vice President Ana Helena Chacón hosted a breakfast Friday morning at Casa Presidencial to recognize Costa Rica’s Paralympic athletes and the country’s newly created Paralympic Federation at the end of a week observing the rights of people with disabilities.“You all not only represent the incarnation of the human rights for people with disabilities to health, recreation and sport, you also represent the best of the human spirit,” Chacón said during the ceremony, according to a statement from Casa Presidencial.Costa Rican Paralympians, including well-known athletes such as cyclists Laurens Molina and Ernesto “Lobito” Fonseca, have yet to qualify for the upcoming 2015 Pan American Paralympic Games in Toronto. Several other Paralympians already secured their spots and are set to compete next year, including swimmer Cristine Bucheim and runner Guido Rodríguez.The Costa Rica Paralympic Federation was created on Sept. 22 to provide resources to develop athletes’ talent regardless of their physical or mental limitations. The newly founded organization is headed by Paralympic table tennis athlete Domingo Argüello.The event Friday closed the national week in observance of people with disabilities. On Monday, Chacón signed a decree that aims to improve training and work opportunities for people with disabilities in Costa Rica, some 58 percent of whom between 15 and 35 years old are unemployed, according to figures from the 2011 national census.“First, we want to start by seeing these people as champions,” Chacón said, adding that many people do not think of people with mental and physical disabilities as athletes.“Today, we’re breaking that paradigm,” she said. Facebook Comments Related posts:Why is the Ruta de los Conquistadores so hard? Saprissa pounds Kansas City to advance to CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals 6 top Costa Rica sports stories of 2014 Costa Rican cyclist Andrey Amador moves into third place in the Giro d’Italia
Related posts:Bullfighter gored at Zapote festival remains in serious condition PHOTOS: Bulls, beer and injuries at Costa Rica’s annual Zapote festival 18 photos from Costa Rica’s big time city rodeo Tico bullfights and horse shows: Tradition or torment? At the time of his death, the 16-year-old bull was known throughout the country as the most fearsome toro ever ridden in Costa Rica’s popular bull festivals. Raised in Playa Garza on the Hacienda Nueva Esperanza, Malacrianza comes from a line of famous bulls.He debuted in 2004 at the Los Angeles de Nicoya bull festival, where his bravado earned him the monicker, Malacrianza — a Spanish word which translates to “badly raised.”But the bull’s true claim to fame came later, in 2005, when Malacrianza killed his rider in an accidental fall. A year later, the bull killed again — this time goring his rider with one of his long horns.The deaths morphed Malacrianza into a Costa Rican legend and the bull’s story reinvigorated the dwindling popularity of Costa Rican rodeo. The famous bull is featured in music videos; his image is printed on t-shirts; there is even a butcher in downtown San José, called La Malacrianza, whose main awning is emblazoned with the bull’s photo.Watch the Malacrianza music video Malacrianza went on to perform in festivals for nine years, much longer than most other bulls, completing his final ride on his home turf, at the Playa Garza town festivals in 2013.For the last two years Malacrianza has toured across Guanacaste for exhibitions, never featuring a rider.According to Ubaldo Rodriguéz, Malacrianza’s owner, the bull had been experiencing stomach problems for more than a year and that likely led to the bull’s death.“After years on the road he was spending his time resting,” Ubaldo said. “Yesterday he seemed fine.”The bull’s handler found him dead Thursday morning and they buried the bull’s body on the farm. But Malacrianza’s head will be transported to a Nicoya taxidermist where it will be frozen and treated before being displayed in a museum in Filadelfia de Guanacaste alongside other famous bulls.Malacrianza’s legend will live on.“Even though he wasn’t in the festivals anymore, I still really liked having him around,” Ubaldo said. “We had some good times together.” Facebook Comments At 6 a.m. on Thursday Amelia Gómez glanced out her window in Playa Garza on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. Normally by this hour, the cattle gate would be crowded by a massive 700-kilo, long-horned brahman bull named Malacrianza — the most famous bull in all of Costa Rica.But this morning the pasture was empty, and Amelia wondered aloud what was wrong.“Malacrianza loves mangos, and every morning he is there waiting for someone to go out and feed him one,” Amelia told The Tico Times. “I looked over to [my husband] and I told him something must be wrong because Malacrianza wasn’t there. A few hours later he called me and told me that he was dead.”Watch Malacrianza’s last performance at the San José Zapote festivals
Related posts:Publication attacked in Paris has history of bold satire World sings, lights up in solidarity with wounded France FBI investigating San Bernardino shooting as ‘act of terrorism’ Obama tries to ease anxiety over terror attacks with Oval Office address WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his profound regrets Thursday to the families of an American and an Italian hostage who were accidentally killed in a U.S. counter-terrorism operation in January.The White House identified the hostages killed as U.S. contractor Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto.“We will identify the lessons that can be learned from this tragedy and any changes that should be made. We will do our utmost to ensure it is not repeated,” Obama said.The White House said Thursday that the operation against an Al Qaeda compound near the Afghan-Pakistan border killed the two hostages, along with an American member of the jihadist group identified as Ahmed Faruq.Another U.S. citizen, Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn, was killed, “likely in a separate U.S. government counterterrorism operation.”“No words can fully express our regret over this terrible tragedy,” the White House said, revealing the previously classified finding. The president “takes full responsibility for these operations.”Weinstein was snatched after gunmen tricked their way into his home in Lahore on August 13, 2011 shortly before he was due to return home after seven years working in Pakistan. He later appeared in a video in which, under apparent coercion, he asked the United States to free Al Qaeda prisoners.Lo Porto disappeared in January 2012 in Pakistan.“Analysis of all available information has led the intelligence community to judge with high confidence that the operation accidentally killed both hostages,” the White House said.“The operation targeted an Al Qaeda-associated compound, where we had no reason to believe either hostage was present, located in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.”The White House statement did not identify which U.S. agency carried out the operation, which suggests it was carried out by an intelligence service rather than a military unit.The White House said it did not intentially target the American Al Queda members who were killed.“While both Faruq and Gadahn were Al Qaeda members, neither was specifically targeted, and we did not have information indicating their presence at the sites of these operations.” Facebook Comments
Related posts:Mora residents battle to stop a landfill from being built in their backyard How to recycle your Christmas tree in Costa Rica Costa Rican court orders effective protection for Corcovado National Park Alleged gold miners end protest at Corcovado National Park Used batteries are highly polluting for the environment and there are no companies in Costa Rica that can recycle them.For that reason the Life Insurance Company of the Education Sector (SSVMN) is hosting a collection campaign this month of both acid and alkaline batteries that will be sent to a recycling center in Canada.Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel as well as other toxic chemicals that make it difficult to dispose of them in an environmentally-friendly manner.Research from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that the external materials of batteries take some 100 years to decompose and the chemicals and heavy metals inside them can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.Catalina Flores Abarca, a spokeswoman with the SSVMN, said this is the fourth year they’ve hosted the collection campaign. As part of its social responsibility program the company collects the batteries and pays to have them transported and shipped to Canada.The improper disposal of batteries represents high contamination risks for soil, water and air, as internal gases can cause the battery to bulge and leak. A single alkaline battery has enough contaminants to pollute 167,000 liters of water, SSVMN reported.What kind of batteries are received?The company is collecting acid and alkaline batteries including rectangular 6V-9V and cylindrical batteries in AA, AAA, AAAA, C and D sizes.They can be in any state, even damaged. “We just ask people to handle them carefully to avoid contact with toxic leaks or gases,” Flores said.The only batteries that are not being accepted are button cell batteries, such as those used in watches.People can bring batteries to any of the SSVNM’s 14 branches in San José, Perez Zeledón, Alajuela, San Ramón, San Carlos, Liberia, Nicoya, Puntarenas, Ciudad Neily, Heredia, Cartago, Turrialba Limón and Guápiles.See a detailed list of all branches, addresses and phone numbers here. Facebook Comments
A free festival at the National Cultural Center (CENAC) in downtown San José will feature Afro-Costa Rican, indigenous, Spanish, Italian, Jewish and Chinese cultural offerings and traditions, including music, dance, food and more, all in preparation for the upcoming Cultures Day.The packed agenda includes a workshop for kids on Saturday at 11:30 am (Friday, October 7 – Sunday, October 9).The Shnit is back! The international short film festival, which initiated in Bern, Switzerland and is held simultaneously in cities around the word, returned to Costa Rica on Wednesday and continues through Sunday with some of the best short films from around the region and world. Celebrate tonight with a party at Hoxton in Barrio Dent; check out the festival website for listings; and keep an eye out for our look at some of the festival’s best (through Sunday, October 9).Did you catch our recent interview with passionate singer Gustavo Salazar? Here’s your chance to check out his vocal stylings: he’ll play Pepper Disco Club in Zapote (Thursday, October 13). Facebook Comments Related posts:Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica
The holiday season has arrived, and along with it, the Mercado Tropical, which will take place again this year at the urban market shopping center Combai in Escazú. The Mercado Tropical is a local fair that promotes Costa Rican handcrafted and eco-friendly products. With the jolliest time of the year upon us, why not fill your shopping list with these lovely products made in Costa Rica? The Tico Times visited the market; here are a few of the things we couldn’t stop thinking about, our top locally made picks.12. PEZ COCINADO – These beautiful handcrafted ceramic products bringing lovely fish designs to your daily table. (Via PEZ COCINADO’s Facebook)11. Agro Orchids Costa Rica – Give your family and friends stunning Phalaenopsis Orchids from the town of San Ramón in Alajuela. Agro Orchids Costa Rica has a variety of 50 different orchids in different shapes and colors. (Via Agro Orchids Costa Rica’s Facebook)10. NOMELLAMO – Fuzzy, crazy stuffed animals will brighten up your children’s days. These colorful creatures come in a varied selection of sizes. (Via NOMELLAMO’s Facebook)9. Naturaleza Mística – These personal care products use natural aromas, plant extracts, vegetable oils and aromatherapy to enhance both spiritual and natural beauty. (Via Naturaleza Mística’s Facebook)8. Slothy Summer Wear– For your upcoming beach vacation, this eco-friendly swimwear line makes a donation for every purchase to the country’s sloth sanctuaries. (Via Slothy Summer Wear’s Facebook)7. Chocolates Sibú – From lovely truffles to drinking chocolate, Chocolates Sibú offer a wide selection using traditional techniques and ingredients. (Via Chocolates Sibú’s Facebook)6. Ojalá Ediciones – This publishing house offers readers Pachanga Kids, children’s books inspired by Costa Rica’s biodiversity, and Ojalá Ediciones, with high-quality nature photography books. (Via Ojalá Ediciones’s Facebook)5. Makalo Swimwear – This Costa Rican swimwear line uses original and exclusive prints inspired by Costa Rica’s natural wonders. (Via Makalo Swimwear’s Facebook)4. Elha – These simple yet elegant jewels will accompany you in your day-to-day life. Elha’s simplicity is inspired by the combination of nature and architecture resulting in organic, geometric jewelry. (Via Elha’s Facebook)3. Pucci – Pucci Editorial offers a wide display of photography books and other products featuring Costa Rica’s natural landscapes. (Via PUCCI’s Facebook)2. Plivertees – Urban street wear inspired by Costa Rica’s identity and the global pop culture. Reconnect with San José’s most vivacious spots. (Via Plivertees’s Facebook)1. Ximena Esquivel Joyería – Bringing elegance to day-to-day life or special occasions, Ximena Esquivel offers 100% handcrafted pieces using silver and a varied selection of semiprecious stones. (Via Ximena Esquivel Joyería’s Facebook)The Mercado Tropical will be take place from Dec. 9 – 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the urban market Combai in Escazú. For more information visit Mercado Tropical’s Facebook page or Facebook event. Facebook Comments Related posts:12 Days of Pura Vida: Our picks for this year’s best Costa Rican-made holiday gifts Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica 5 questions for a Costa Rican fashion designer
Government supporters took over city roundabouts where protesters had planned to gather.Anti-government demonstrations began on April 18, initially protesting changes in the social security system.Since then the demonstrations have grown in size and the protesters are calling for the resignation of Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.Learn more about the situation in Nicaragua in the first episode of our new podcast, The Tico Times Dispatch: Fleeing violence, Nicaraguans seek safety in Costa Rica Facebook Comments And there was outrage from the Organization of American States and the president of neighboring Costa Rica.“We demand the government of #Nicaragua release the protesters who have been detained, that it respect the right to peaceful protest nationwide, and stop repression and all intimidation of political leaders and civilians,” OAS chief Luis Almagro wrote on Twitter.“Deeply concerned by this morning’s arrests in Nicaragua. The repression the Nicaraguan people are being put through must stop,” Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado tweeted.Police had earlier announced that they would not allow any unauthorized demonstrations.Hundreds of anti-riot police officers were deployed early in the day to key points of the capital Managua as well as to the highway to the restive city of Masaya. Listen to our new podcast: The Tico Times Dispatch Related posts:Army’s role under the spotlight in Nicaragua Nicaraguan crisis leaves vital street market with economic bruises Nicaraguan students vow to keep up fight until Ortega resigns Nicaragua’s Ortega defends parapolice violence as US steps up warning Free press accuses Daniel Ortega’s dictatorship of wanting to impose a reign of silence Some 20 protesters were arrested Sunday when Nicaraguan police swooped in to break up a meeting of demonstrators gathering for a march against the government of President Daniel Ortega.Police wielded clubs and hurled stun grenades to break up the demonstrators gathering at a shopping mall parking lot, beating men, women and even some elderly people.Those arrested were dragged down the street to be later loaded onto police patrol vehicles.Some reporters were also beaten and briefly detained, local independent reporters said.“They respect no one, not even older people or children,” said Azhalea Solis, head of the Civic Alliance, an umbrella group that represents business people, students and social groups.
New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories Comments Share 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Four benefits of having a wireless security system More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Sponsored Stories 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches CAIRO (AP) – The tens of thousands of Egyptians who packed Cairo’s Tahrir Square this time did so not to protest, but to celebrate the country’s first Islamist and civilian president-elect.Mohammed Morsi, who won this month’s runoff in Egypt’s first free presidential election, came to the epicenter of the nation’s uprising to speak to his supporters and stake his claim to power in the country. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Addressing the packed square, Morsi struck a defiant tone, vowing to fight for his authority in the face of the country’s ruling generals.He spoke in a booming voice. He raised his hands to the swarming crowd. He stepped out boldly in front of the podium and opened his jacket to show he wasn’t wearing a bulletproof vest, to show that he fears “no one but God.”The throngs of cheering supporters in the square raised their arms in triumph. They waved from balconies. They climbed palm trees to catch a glimpse of the man they had elected to lead the country.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family
Associated PressPHOENIX (AP) – Federal police have arrested two men who may be connected with the fatal shooting of a U.S. Border Patrol agent just north of the Mexico-Arizona border, a Mexican law enforcement official said Thursday.The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said it was unclear if there was strong evidence linking the men to the shooting of Agent Nicholas Ivie. Four benefits of having a wireless security system Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Terry’s shooting was later linked to that “Fast and Furious” operation, which allowed people suspected of illegally buying guns for others to walk away from gun shops with weapons, rather than be arrested.Authorities intended to track the guns into Mexico. Two rifles found at the scene of Terry’s shooting were bought by a member of the gun-smuggling ring being investigated. Critics of the operation say any shooting along the border now will raise the specter that those illegal weapons are still being used.Twenty-six Border Patrol agents have died in the line of duty since 2002.___Castillo reported from Mexico City. Associated Press writers Brian Skoloff in Phoenix and Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 0 Comments Share Authorities have declined to provide key details about Tuesday’s shooting, including what they believe prompted the shooting, whether the agents were ambushed and whether any guns from the shooting were recovered. Still, they suspect that more than one person fired on the agents.The head of the Border Patrol agents union has said he believes those who carried out the shooting probably had time to escape in the early morning darkness before authorities could seal off the area and that he doubted that whoever shot the agents would still be hiding in the area.In nearby Sierra Vista, Ariz., family members described Ivie as a devoted Mormon who developed a love for the country’s people and culture while serving on a mission in Mexico City.Ivie’s brother, Chris Ivie, remembered that his brother came across a pregnant woman one time while on patrol who had lost her shoes and had her feet cut up. “He carried that woman a mile and a half to where she could receive the proper help that she needed,” Chris Ivie said.Ivie’s death marked the first fatal shooting of an agent since a deadly 2010 firefight with Mexican bandits that killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010 and spawned congressional probes of a botched government gun-smuggling investigation. Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ivie and two other agents were fired upon Tuesday in a rugged hilly area about five miles (eight kilometers) north of the border near Bisbee, Ariz., as they responded to an alarm that was triggered on one of the sensors that the government has installed along the border.The wounded agent was shot in the ankle and buttocks and released from the hospital after undergoing surgery. The third agent wasn’t injured.Brenda Nath, an FBI spokeswoman in Arizona, and Border Patrol officials in Arizona declined to comment on the detention of the two men in Mexico. The Cochise County sheriff’s office, which is also investigating the shooting, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.Lydia Antonio, a spokeswoman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, confirmed the two detentions, but declined to say what prompted them and what made authorities suspect the two might be involved in the shooting.At a news conference Thursday in Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder said he is getting updates on the investigation’s progress and has spoken with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the probe.Napolitano is traveling to Arizona on Friday to express her condolences to Ivie’s family and to meet with law enforcement authorities in southern Arizona about the investigation. Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Quick workouts for men Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch government said Friday it will sell off ABN Amro bank in phases beginning later this year, seven years after the state took it over to prevent its collapse during the global financial crisis.Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the financial sector is now stable enough, there is sufficient interest in the market and ABN Amro is ready for a phased sale.The decision had been expected earlier this year but was delayed amid uproar over members of the bank’s board awarding themselves a 100,000 euro ($110,000) pay rise to compensate for losing their right to bonuses when the bank was nationalized in 2008. 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 0 Comments Share The bank scrapped the pay rise at the end of March, clearing the way for the re-privatization.Gerrit Zalm, the former Dutch finance minister who is now chairman of ABN Amro’s managing board, welcomed the announcement, calling the sale, “a logical next step in the bank’s development.”ABN Amro announced this month that its underlying net profit rose 44 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier to 543 million euros, its best quarter in four years.The government said the sale via initial public offering could happen from the fourth quarter. The first tranche sold will be between 20 and 30 percent of the bank.The Dutch state spent 21.7 billion euros to save the bank when it was nationalized in 2008 together with the Dutch operations of one of its would-be acquirers, Belgium’s now defunct Fortis NV, in a takeover bid that went horribly wrong.The bank is now estimated to be worth 15 billion euros ($16.5 billion) following an aggressive restructuring that saw it cut jobs and sell off foreign units.Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the government will build protective measures into the sale to prevent potential hostile takeovers.“I do not want the bank to become a target again,” he said. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Top Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosis
1987: Norris elected to Ireland’s upper house of parliament, the Seanad, by Trinity College students.1988: European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, finds Ireland guilty of violating gays’ right to privacy. Ireland ordered to comply and pay Norris’ past five years of legal costs.1993: Ireland passes law decriminalizing homosexual acts.1998: Ireland outlaws discriminatory treatment of gays in workplace, but religious organizations — chiefly the Catholic Church, which runs most schools and many hospitals — receive an opt-out.2000: Equal Status Act outlaws discriminatory treatment of gays by businesses and government-provided services. Designed to stop pubs and clubs from barring gays, banks from denying loans, and landlords refusing to rent properties.2006: A lesbian couple — an American theologian and an Irish former nun who met at Boston College and were married in Canada — sue Ireland to have their marriage recognized domestically. High Court concedes that Ireland’s constitution does not explicitly define marriage as between a man and woman, but rejects women’s case on grounds that Irish law universally recognizes marriage as a heterosexual institution. 2010: Parliament passes civil partnerships law, creates marriage-style contracts for gay couples granting them nearly identical financial benefits to married couples in tax, pensions, property ownership, inheritance and other issues. More than 1,000 gay couples have their civil partnerships registered in marriage-style ceremonies.2011: Ireland’s key lower house of parliament, the 166-member Dail Eireann, elects its first three publicly gay members.2013: Constitutional Convention advises government to hold referendum to legalize gay marriage, finds dozens of legal deficiencies in civil partnerships versus marriage, particularly on parental rights.2014: Prime Minister Enda Kenny pays pre-Christmas visit to Dublin’s premier drag venue, the Pantibar, after its star drag queen, Panti Bliss, inspires nationwide debate on level of homophobia in Irish society.2015: In January, Cabinet minister Leo Varadkar announces he’s homosexual ahead of government campaign to legalize gay marriage. On May 22, voters pass a referendum legalizing same-sex unions, the first such national vote in the world.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Check your body, save your life Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories DUBLIN (AP) — Gays in Ireland lived in the shadows for decades, lest they face ridicule, assault or even prison in Victorian times. Saturday’s referendum result to legalize gay marriage represents a stunning triumph for gay rights activists following decades of struggle to gain greater rights and respect.___1861: Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, becomes subject to the Offences Against the Persons Act that makes gay male intercourse a crime punishable by up to life in prison. Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy 1885: A new British law creates ill-defined offense of “gross indecency” used to prosecute gay men for wider range of sexual practices.1895: Irish author and playwright Oscar Wilde convicted of gross indecency in London court, given two-year prison sentence. Scores of other men receive similar sentences in the late 19th century in Irish courts.1922: Predominantly Catholic south of Ireland wins independence from Britain, keeps British anti-gay laws in its criminal code.1967: Britain decriminalizes homosexual acts in 1967.1974: Trinity College literary scholar David Norris helps form Ireland’s first gay rights group, the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform, seeking to decriminalize gay sexual practices in Ireland. Two future presidents of Ireland, Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson, serve as its legal advisers.1980: Norris sues Ireland, argues British anti-gay laws are unconstitutional under terms of Ireland’s 1937 constitution. High Court in 1980 and Supreme Court in 1983 reject his arguments, citing constitution’s Christian ethos.1982: Declan Flynn, 31, beaten to death in Dublin park by teenage gang taunting him as a homosexual.1983: Gay Pride movement in Ireland formed in protest against a court’s decision to give Flynn’s killers suspended sentences. Parade grows over three decades into a 10-day festival.
So far this year, more than 53,000 people have requested asylum in Hungary, up from under 43,000 in 2014 and 2,150 in 2012. More than 70 percent of asylum seekers over the past three months are from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, though the vast majority move further west to destinations like Germany and Sweden shortly after filing their asylum requests.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Szijjarto said the fence along the 175-kilometer (109-mile) southern border with Serbia wouldn’t contravene any of Hungary’s international legal obligations. He said that the governments of Hungary and Serbia would hold a summit on July 1, when “we will inform our Serb friends … in detail of the Hungarian measures.”The foreign minister also said that, in line with a bill presented last week by lawmakers from the governing Fidesz party, the government was taking legal preliminary steps to designate all EU member and candidate countries as safe countries.This step would allow Hungary, for example, from having to receive asylum seekers coming from Serbia or Greece, countries not considered by the EU to have the infrastructure necessary to guarantee their safety.“The Hungarian government is committed to defending Hungary and defending the Hungarian people from the immigration pressure,” Szijjarto said, naming the Greek-Turkish and the Bulgarian-Turkish borders as locations where similar fences have been built with the purpose of stopping migrants.Since the second half of 2014, the number of migrants and asylum seekers entering Hungary, mostly across the southern border with Serbia, has risen markedly. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies How men can have a healthy 2019 Sponsored Stories The vital role family plays in society Comments Share BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The Hungarian government is considering building a 4-meter-high (13-foot-high) fence along the border with Serbia to stop the flow of migrants reaching the country, the foreign minister said Wednesday.The government has asked Interior Minister Sandor Pinter to present preparations for the plan by next Wednesday.“The pressure of migration which presents serious difficulties for Europe affects Hungary the most among EU member countries,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said. “Hungary cannot allow itself to wait any longer. Naturally, we hope there will be a joint European solution.”
Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Here are five things to know about congressional efforts to replace No Child Left Behind:____THE SIMILARITIESBoth the House and Senate bills seek to significantly lessen the federal role in the nation’s public schools.Both would maintain the federally required annual tests in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, as well as science tests given three times between grades 3 and 12. The bills return to the states the power to determine whether and how to use those tests to assess the performance of schools, teachers and students — instead of having federally prescribed school improvement plans.Another area of agreement: the Common Core academic standards.The bills say the Education Department may not mandate or give states incentives to adopt or maintain any particular set of standards, such as Common Core. The Common Core standards were drafted by the states with the support of the administration but have become a rallying point for those who want a smaller federal role in education.____THE DIFFERENCESThe biggest difference in the two bills has to do with school choice and funding.The House measure, sponsored by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., includes so-called portability. It allows federal money to follow low-income children to public schools of their choice instead of current law, which has those dollars remain at the struggling schools. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Democrats do not support the idea, and the Obama administration has made clear it won’t back the House bill. Lawmakers voting on the Senate bill, sponsored by Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, rejected the idea of adding portability to their measure.____THE WHITE HOUSEThe White House has threatened to veto the House measure. After the Senate version passed Thursday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan offered lukewarm praise for the Alexander-Murray bill.Duncan and several civil rights groups had urged lawmakers to strengthen the accountability measures in the bill, but an amendment that aimed to do that was rejected by the Senate. It would have required states to identify the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools, public high schools where two-thirds or fewer students are graduating on time, and public schools where poor, disabled, minority, or English-language learning children were not meeting state achievement goals. States and schools would then have to design plans to turn around the schools.Duncan pressed for changes once the bill goes to conference “to strengthen the bill before it reaches the president’s desk.” WASHINGTON (AP) — No one thinks it’ll be easy, but the House and Senate are embarking on negotiations to merge two differing education bills that would rewrite the nation’s much-criticized No Child Left Behind education law.On Thursday, the Senate overwhelmingly approved its version of the education legislation, a week after the House passed a more conservative measure.For years, Congress has tried to update the law. It expired in 2007, though its mandates remained in place. Critics have complained there is too much testing and the law is too punitive for schools deemed to be failing. The Obama administration began issuing waivers to dozens of states to get around some of the law’s strictest requirements when it became clear they would not be met. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall ____THE VOTESThe Senate voted overwhelmingly for its education rewrite, by a vote of 81-17.Fourteen Republicans voted against it, including presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Rand Paul of Kentucky.While it had the support of almost all Democrats, three voted against it: Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, New Jersey’s Cory Booker and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.The House vote was more partisan, 218-213. No Democrats supported the measure and 27 Republicans voted against it.____NEXT STEPSNegotiating a compromise. The Senate and House will have to find consensus and merge the two bills.After the Senate vote, Alexander, who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, said, “There are some issues that are different, but I foresee a successful conference.”Said Kline, who chairs the House Education and the Workforce Committee, “There is a lot of work that lies ahead, but I am confident we will find common ground and send a bill to the president’s desk.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments Share Men’s health affects baby’s health too Four benefits of having a wireless security system
FCm Travel Solutions’ general manager Middle East Andrew Boxall (far left) and director of FCm’s partner network in Europe, Middle East and Africa Brian Donnelly (far right) with World Travel Awards representatives, in Doha to collect the award for the World’s Leading Travel Management Company. Source = FCm Travel Solutions FCm Travel Solutions is celebrating a stellar performance in the World Travel Awards’ program after being named the World’s Leading Travel Management Company.FCm accepted the World Travel Awards’ global accolade for corporate travel management, at the Grand Final Gala Ceremony in Doha, Qatar, January 11. The announcement caps off a massive year of achievements for FCm, which in 2011 was also voted Europe’s Leading Travel Management Company, Asia’s Leading Travel Management Company, Australasia’s Leading Business Travel Agent and North America’s Leading Travel Management Company.FCm Travel Solutions’ global leader Gregory Lording said FCm was delighted to claim this new title after enjoying a solid winning streak in the World Travel Awards’ regional travel, tourism and hospitality award program in 2011.“The year has been a record year for FCm in terms of our performance on the world awards’ stage as well in other areas of our business,” Gregory said. “We’re thrilled to add this new global award to our collection of regional accolades and have been actively celebrating the win around our global network.“The award for the World’s Leading Travel Management Company recognises the professionalism of our travel teams throughout our global network and reinforces FCm’s growing brand and business presence in the global corporate travel arena. Since being launched to market in 2004, FCm has continued to strategically grow the network and now employs over six thousand people world-wide. FCm offers customers a truly global network spanning more than 75 countries.“Our broad geographical footprint, local knowledge and ability to tailor services to suit the needs of each customer have the company well placed for further growth and success in the future.”
Tourism Tasmania re-develops int’l marketing scheme. Image: ozehols Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Tourism Tasmania plans to develop a stronger relationship with Tourism Australia, in an effort to harvest the pulling power of Australia’s current international marketing campaign.Tourism Tasmania’s new chief executive John Fitzgerald said he has reviewed and examined the body’s current international marketing efforts and tactics and decided on some changes.“These changes will allow us to focus our effort and resources on the markets and areas where we have the best chance of influencing potential visitors to experience this fantastic island state,” Mr Fitzgerald said.“While this new approach will be embodied in Tourism Tasmania’s five-year tourism marketing strategy, we will also closely monitor our international markets in case further adjustments are required in response to changing market conditions,” Mr Fitzgerald said.Aside from building “a much stronger partnership” with Tourism Australia, the state body will also see changes to its own in-market representation.The recent Tasmanian bushfires have been a priority for Mr Fitzgerald, but the new changes will begin to take place during the first half of 2013.
Source = Wicked Wednesdays It was a night of winners last night, as Wicked Wednesdays launched its inaugural Cairns event.Held at the Pullman rooftop terrace, the evening saw one lucky winner walk away with a nine-day ‘King Tutankhamen’ tour of Egypt courtesy of On the Go Tours.Other prizes for the night include a Laneway tour of Melbourne courtesy of MELTours, a $50 dinner voucher courtesy of Pullman Reef Hotel Cairns as well as a four Cairns Zoom passes courtesy of the Capta Group and a day trip for two on Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruise.Other sponsors for the evening include roomsXML, Hahn Air, Virgin Australia, Breakaway Travel Club, GTI Tourism and e-Travel Blackboard. Click here to check out the full photogallery.