TravelBrands Cruises announces exclusive 3 For Free promotion

first_imgTags: Encore Cruises, TravelBrands, TravelBrands Cruises Monday, June 4, 2018 Posted by TravelBrands Cruises announces exclusive ‘3 For Free’ promotion Travelweek Group MISSISSAUGA – TravelBrands Cruises, by Encore Cruises, has launched an exclusive giveaway making any traveller’s next sailing much sweeter. Passengers can receive free onboard credits, or wine and strawberries on their next cruise. Running from June 4 until June 11, 2018, clients who book any stateroom category with any cruiseline through TravelBrands will receive one of three giveaways through its ‘3 For Free’ promotion.Through this promotion, Inside stateroom bookings will receive free chocolate dipped strawberries. Those who book an Oceanview stateroom will be given a complimentary bottle of wine along with chocolate dipped strawberries. Lastly, any Balcony booking or above will be given a free $100 onboard credit, bottle of wine and chocolate dipped strawberries.This offer is applicable to new individual bookings departing between July 1 and August 31, 2018. The ‘3 For Free’ giveaway is valid on all stateroom categories with any of Encore’s cruiseline partners. In order to qualify for this exclusive promotion, the minimum cruise fare per stateroom must be $1,000 CAD.More news:  Honolulu authorities investigate arsons at 3 Waikiki hotels; no injuries reportedTravel agents are encouraged to visit to learn more about this limited-time offer, and to make their bookings so clients can sail away with a great deal. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Grenada reports continued growth in 2018 following recordbreaking year

first_imgGrenada reports continued growth in 2018 following record-breaking year Travelweek Group Share Posted by Monday, July 16, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >> Following a record year in tourism in 2017, Pure Grenada has reported continued growth in overall arrivals for the first half of 2018.The three performance indicators – cruise, stayover and yacht arrivals – contributed to an overall increase of 21.2% when compared to the same period in 2017. Moreover, the latest statistics from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) ranked Grenada in the top three markets for increased growth in tourist arrivals from the U.S., Canada and Europe.Stayover arrivals increased by 10.7% with the largest market, the U.S., showing a significant 18.1% increase year-to-date. Canada, meanwhile, had a growth of 8.56%.Cruise arrivals from January to June 2018 grew by 26.5%, with yachting arrivals increasing by 9% and yachting calls by 8.5%. This placed Grenada fourth by the CTO’s June report for positive growth in cruise passenger arrivals behind Bermuda, Curacao and Martinique.“Our private/public sector cruise consultancy project is going well and it will improve our services and offerings, thereby making Grenada even more desirable in the eyes of cruise itinerary planners,” said Nikoyan Roberts, Manager for Nautical Development.More news:  Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is backAs for flight calls to Grenada, Clarice Modeste-Curwen, Minister for Tourism & Civil Aviation, reported a 24.6% increase in the first half of the year over the same period in 2017, with notable increases from Air Canada, LIAT and private aircraft.last_img read more

More storefronts new zero interest payment option for The Travel Agent Next

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> PUERTO VALLARTA — The Travel Agent Next Door will be working with more storefront locations, with a formal announcement coming in the next four to six weeks. Sales for the host agency are up 53.7% year to date, and a new zero interest payment promotion should send that number even higher.Flemming Friisdahl, founder of The Travel Agent Next Door, had plenty of news to share at TTAND’s fifth annual travel agent conference, More U.Flemming Friisdahl, founder of TTAND, kicks off the host agency’s fifth annual conference in Puerto Vallarta, MexicoTop on the list was a new deferred payment program, tailored for The Travel Agent Next Door’s network of home-based agents.Expected to formally launch in July, the program will allow clients to ‘book now, pay later,’ with no additional cost to agents.“It’s very simple to understand,” Friisdahl told Travelweek during the conference, held at Mexico’s Iberostar Selection Playa Mita. “The simplicity is what I wanted — zero interest and you choose the terms.”The program will be based on a fee structure, rather than interest payments. Clients make equal payments over three, six or 12 months, with one transaction fee (based on the length of the payment period and total amount of the booking).“I’ve had agents come up to me and say this is a game changer for them, that this will make a big difference,” says Friisdahl. “If I can get someone going on a $10,000 or $15,000 trip and it’s only going to cost them $200 to finance it for 12 months … that’s going to go a long way to getting people to book.”It’s possible that suppliers may even supplement the client’s fee. “We’ve had many suppliers wanting to jump onboard and even help fund the program for us, because it’s such an inexpensive program,” he says. The Travel Agent Next Door’s zero interest promotion:3 months: $69.99 fee for <$5,000; $79.99 fee for >$5,0016 months: $99.99 fee for <$5,000; $159.99 fee for >$5,00112 months: $169.99 fee for <$5,000; $249.99 for >$5,001Shelley Cota, owner of Shelley’s Sun & Sand Travel in Lacombe, AB, and one of The Travel Agent Next Door’s top-performing agents over the past year, says this program will be helpful, particularly with former Sears Travel clients who had access to a similar program. “I know many of the past Sears [Travel] agents are thrilled about it,” she says.Cota believes this will increase the value of the business — and help agents get away from cheap sell-offs. “People are on a budget, so if you don’t have a huge credit card limit or you’ve spent your limit, this will give you an opportunity to [travel],” she says.“It might allow people to get to Sandals that couldn’t go before because … they can’t pay that 60 days out, so I think that part is going to help,” she says. “I can’t wait for it to be rolled out.”Cota has been in the travel business for 31 years, four of those with The Travel Agent Next Door (she’s been a top producer for the past three consecutive years). She focuses on destination weddings, seniors groups and adventure travel.TTAND launched new agent perks at its fifth annual conference“I get a lot of referrals; that’s what is building my business,” she says. “Being able to work from home now is definitely a big plus. People know if they phone me, I’m going to answer. If they have a problem, I’m going to be there. Finally, after four years of starting my own company and branding my own name, people understand now that I am competitive with the other markets.”Currently The Travel Agent Next Door has 380 primary agents like Cota, along with 37 staff members (about one staff member for every 10 agents). Friisdahl plans to continue adding agents — but only as long as he can continue calling every primary agent every six months and interview all new potential agents. “Whenever I can’t do that anymore, that’s when we need to stop,” he says, “if we can’t provide the service we started with.”His philosophy hasn’t changed about suppliers, either. “Less is more, it’s really that easy. It’s not about having the most suppliers, it’s about [having] the most effective.” Preferred suppliers represent 50% of TTAND’s business, while approved suppliers make up 30% and all others make up the remaining 20%.Other announcements at the conference included the development of The Travel Agent Next Door’s own learning library, expected to launch in about two months, as well as a new online client travel authorization form.“Part of our philosophy is to work smarter, not harder — that’s the theme of this conference, more life/work balance,” says Shean Carmichael, The Travel Agent Next Door’s Marketing and Communications Manager. His team provides deep-link marketing for agents, so social media, blogs, videos and email campaigns are all driving traffic directly to an agent’s website.Flemming Friisdahl, founder of TTAND, at a give-back volunteer day for agents sponsored by TravelBrands, at La Casa Clu, MexicoAs part of those efforts to work smarter, not harder, The Travel Agent Next Door has launched an online client travel authorization form, where agents can verify a client’s name, passport information, insurance information and credit card authorization, which automatically self-saves in the client’s profile.“That’s going to be a huge time saver, and also helps make sure the agents are protected, that the client has signed an insurance waiver,” says Friisdahl.This capability was built in-house, thanks to a team of three developers working in The Travel Agent Next Door’s office in India (along with four accounting staff). With its overseas office, The Travel Agent Next Door can post commission overnight, which is a bonus for agents.“We haven’t reduced our staff in Canada at all and we don’t intend to,” says Friisdahl. But having in-house developers provides The Travel Agent Next Door with the ability to customize its offerings (including the upcoming learning library). Tuesday, May 7, 2019 Posted by About Latest Posts Vawn HimmelsbachContributor at TravelweekVawn Himmelsbach has been writing about travel for more than a decade for media outlets such as, Metro News, Flare, Sweet Travel, PlanetEye Traveler and Hotelier, among others. She is co-founder of Chic Savvy Travels, a travel website for women, has contributed to a guidebook on China, and has been published in a book of non-fiction, called Emails from India. She has spent more than three years working and traveling abroad in Asia and Latin America. Latest posts by Vawn Himmelsbach (see all) More storefronts, new zero interest payment option for The Travel Agent Next Door – May 7, 2019 Smooth sailing onboard Uniworld’s newest super ship in Bordeaux – April 24, 2019 Sandals promotes social groups with new booking option for agents, perks for clients – January 17, 2019 Vawn Himmelsbach Tags: Events, The Travel Agent Next Door More storefronts, new zero interest payment option for The Travel Agent Next Door Sharelast_img read more

Scenics 2020 European brochure has 3 new itineraries airfare deals

first_img Wednesday, June 26, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by VANCOUVER — Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours’ new 2020 European River Cruise brochure is now available to travel agents and consumers online at or in hardcopy by mail.The brochure outlines the company’s more than two dozen cruise itineraries as well as all the amenities and special experiences awaiting passengers.There are also three new itineraries.The new 12-day Spectacular South of France introduces guests to the estate of Château Meursault and its acclaimed wines; shopping with the chef at a local Avignon food market followed by a cooking class in the ship’s Culinaire; e-bike rides through the countryside; and a private classical concert in the historic Palais des Papes.The eight-day Lower Danube Explorer links two of Europe’s great capitals, Budapest and Belgrade, and highlights the local cultures in places such as Kalocsa, Novi Sad and Belgrade.And the new 15-day Christmas Wonderland brings back yesteryear’s traditions of the holiday season. Sailing between Amsterdam and Budapest, guests enjoy numerous Christmas Markets, some dating back hundreds of years, roasted chestnuts and glühwein, traditional crafts, Midnight Mass and an abundance of holiday cheer.More news:  Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong KongFly Free, Fly for $295 or Fly for $495 offers are available on select luxury all-inclusive river cruises with most of the eight- to 15-day sailings in Europe and Russia offering the free air version.Celebrating the decennial performance of the Passion Play, Scenic is offering a series of six- to eight-day touring itineraries between May 20 and Sept 21, 2020, which include tickets to the play and a seamless link to a selection of river cruise itineraries including Rhine and Danube sailings.Scenic also offers land extensions on many of their sailings. New in 2020 is Basque Highlights – a four-day exploration of Spain’s Bay of Biscay coastline that takes in Biarritz in France and Spain’s San Sebastián and thriving city of Bilbao, that can be added to the Bordeaux river cruises. Other possibilities include Paris, Prague, Transylvania, Monte Carlo, Turkey, Switzerland, Madrid, Berlin and Lisbon.Scenic now has 15 ‘Space-Ships’ sailing the world’s rivers. In 2019, Scenic is introducing the world’s first Discovery Yacht, the 228-guest Scenic Eclipse. Sister brand Emerald Waterways has seven Star-Ships offering European river sailings with an eighth (Emerald Harmony) launching this year for SE Asia’s Mekong River. Exclusive charters are offered on SE Asia’s Irrawaddy River; the Volga River in Russia; yacht cruises out of Croatia; and Egypt’s Nile River.More news:  Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agencySee, call (866) 689-8611 or email for more details. Brochures can also be downloaded directly from the website. Scenic’s 2020 European brochure has 3 new itineraries & airfare dealscenter_img Travelweek Group Tags: River Cruise, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours Sharelast_img read more

Wikileaks Assange says group will release new secret data

first_imgRelated posts:Britain: WikiLeaks founder faces arrest no matter ruling by U.N. panel The NSA has surveillance system to record ‘100 percent’ of a foreign country’s phone calls Snowdenfreude Yahoo shuts users out of their email Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks who has disclosed scores of classified data about U.S. military and diplomatic efforts, said the group would be releasing a new batch of secret information.Assange, speaking through a video feed Saturday to a crowd of more than 3,000 people at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, said he wouldn’t share details about the timing or contents of the data because he doesn’t want to give the subjects a chance to prepare a response.“I don’t think it’s right to give the perpetrator the heads up,” said Assange.Assange is one of several speakers at the conference who is focused on Internet privacy and online security. After years of being an event for celebrating startups with new social-networking tools for posting personal information, South by Southwest this year is taking a more critical look at the privacy consequences of sharing that data. Edward Snowden, the government contractor who leaked documents disclosing spying by the National Security Agency, speaks on Monday through a video link.Assange, 42, said the disclosures about NSA spying are causing people to reassess the role of government in a world where an increasing amount of personal information is stored online. He said the U.S. agency is losing the public-relations battle since the revelations from Snowden about gathering data from companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple. The disclosures show a “military occupation” in the Internet’s “public space,” he said.He said the release of classified information is critical to better understanding of the practices the government is doing in secret. He also said the NSA doesn’t face enough oversight from President Barack Obama’s administration.“Who really wears the pants in the administration?” Assange said.Wikileaks, which started in 2006, leaks classified documents under a philosophy of increasing government transparency. With help from people who have access to secret information, the nonprofit group has released materials including State Department communications about foreign governments and military efforts during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One U.S. soldier, private Bradley Manning, is serving as long as 35 years in prison for leaking classified information to Wikileaks.Assange currently lives in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid arrest in relation to a sexual assault investigation. He has denied the charges.Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said earlier in the conference that there needs to be a balance between transparency and security because the government information being disclosed could put lives at risk. He also said the disclosures have made Assange and Snowden “celebrities” and may spawn copycat efforts, increasing the risk for harm if the disclosures aren’t done carefully.© 2014, Bloomberg News Facebook Commentslast_img read more

7 alleged poachers to stand trial Monday for Costa Rica conservationists murder

first_imgStarting at 8 a.m. Monday, seven alleged poachers will stand trial in a Limón court for the murder last year of 26-year-old Costa Rican sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora.The seven men are accused of kidnapping Mora along with four foreign volunteers on Moín Beach, near Limón on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, during the night of May 31, 2013. The volunteers escaped, but police found Mora’s naked and bruised body the next morning face down in the sand. The defendants, Felipe Arauz, Héctor Cash, Ernesto Enrique Centeno, William Delgado, José Bryan Quesada and brothers Darwin and Donald Alberto Salmón, have been in preventive detention since their arrests in July 2013.Rodrigo Araya, a lawyer for Mora’s family, confirmed to that prosecutors will seek the maximum penalty for all seven defendants – 35 years for Mora’s murder and 15 years for the assaulting the four women. A verdict on the case is expected by early December. Facebook Comments Related posts:Prosecutors ask for maximum sentences for defendants in Jairo Mora murder trial NOT GUILTY: 7 men acquitted of murder of Costa Rica sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora United Nations, environmental groups condemn verdict in Jairo Mora murder case Delays and blunders: A timeline of the Jairo Mora murder trial in Costa Ricalast_img read more

Costa Rican Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa steps down

first_imgAmid rumors swarming around Casa Presidencial this week of a major shakeup in President Luis Guillermo Solís’ Cabinet, word came Tuesday that Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa would step down on Tuesday, Feb. 10. Gamboa, the only holdover from former President Laura Chinchilla’s administration (2010-2014), said he would join the Prosecutor’s Office as an assistant prosecutor, working alongside Chief Prosecutor Jorge Chavarría.During his tenure as minister from May 2014 to February, Gamboa oversaw the seizure of more than 19.5 metric tons of cocaine and $11.46 million in cash, along with the smashing of 39 international drug-running operations.Solís called Gamboa, who previously served as vice minister of the same ministry and the head of the Costa Rican intelligence agency DIS, a “loyal friend” who was dedicated to his job, during his weekly press conference on Tuesday. Muchas gracias a tod@s por su apoyo todo este tiempo. Seguimos adelante sirviendo al país. ¡Un fuerte abrazo!— Celso Gamboa Sánchez (@CelsoGamboaCR) February 3, 2015 “Thank you all for your support during this time. We continue moving forward serving the country. A big hug!” Gamboa tweeted.The minister offered little in the way of an explanation why he chose to leave before completing a full year in the office, saying only that the new position was “another way to serve my country.”Gamboa denied that he had been offered the embattled Melvin Jiménez’s job as presidency minister.There are three vice ministers in the Public Security Ministry: María Fulmen, Bernardita Marín and Gustavo Mata. Solís said he would name Gamboa’s successor within the week. Facebook Commentscenter_img Related posts:Costa Rica’s Solís defends spy agency as lawmakers look to abolish it Former Judicial Investigation Police official named Costa Rica’s new public security minister Costa Rica’s health minister steps down The good, the bad and the ugly of President Chinchilla’s security legacylast_img read more

Kingdom of Characters celebrates Japanese pop culture

first_imgAs a North American male raised in the ’80s and ’90s, I felt the same nostalgic vertigo walking into the “Kingdom of Characters” exhibit: Whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, Japanese television permeates airwaves on nearly every continent, shaping entire generations of children. Wherever there is mainstream media, there is Japanese pop culture. Nearly everyone under the age of 40 can describe what “Power Rangers” is, regardless of whether they have ever seen an episode. Generation X needs no placards to identify most of these characters: We already know who “Astro Boy” and “Ultraman” are, if only through osmosis.The exhibit in San José is designed to celebrate 80 years of diplomatic relations between Costa Rica and Japan, two small nations that have no significant armed forces and have become wildly more successful than their neighbors. But it’s also an excuse to display some nerdy toys and posters. As the well-designed exhibit program explains it: “The history of Japan might be seen as a history of the Japanese love for characters… It’s as if the characters are our friends, the heroes we long to be, and our lovers.”Awkward as that sounds, I feel that it’s an accurate translation. Entire dissertations have been written about the sociology of anime, the way that Japanese heroes and villains reflect national preoccupations. It is no surprise to see a high-tech culture like Japan imagining humans encased in humanoid robots – as if obsessing over the fusion of flesh and machine. Nor is it shocking that the first nation victimized by nuclear weapons should produce 28 “Godzilla” movies, the saga of a mutated lizard destroying civilization.As for the “lovers” comment, you may never have personally lusted for Mickey Mouse or Daisy Duck, but anime and manga (Japanese comic books) are a far cry from Walt Disney. The exhibit is family-friendly, and so does not discuss “Hentai,” the popular genre of pornographic comics, but it is routine for Japanese artists to sexualize their characters in ways that mainstream Hollywood could never imagine. Add to this the supra-interactive worlds of cosplay and furries, where fans actually dress and behave like cartoon characters, and you’ll find a level of intensity that would make the Warner Brothers blush.But those are extreme examples, and the “Kingdom of Characters” exhibit isn’t interested in these subcultures. Instead, the curators objectively describe the broad cross-section of people interested in cartoon heroes. In one photo, a businessman reads a manga comic book during his work break. In another, a middle-aged professional wears a plastic belt and poses on the roof of his office. A corner of the exhibit recreates the bedroom of a Japanese girl, which is packed with bright colors and plush toys. You might guess it’s the room of a four-year-old, but cardboard cutouts shows an obviously teenaged model. (Courtesy of The National Gallery)One of the exhibit’s triumphs is its diverse sampling: You can usually recognize anime for its consistent visual style, but as “Kingdom of Characters” demonstrates, the genre is more than big eyes and split-screens. Japanese pop culture has its share of endearing junk (“Pokémon,” “Power Rangers”) and outright masterpieces (“Akira,” “Spirited Away”), but the range of imagination has inspired billions of consumers around the world, and despite the many shared motifs, no two franchises are exactly the same.It may seem peculiar to celebrate diplomatic relations with pictures of “Galaxy Express 999,” but unlike the United States, Costa Rica doesn’t have a complicated cultural relationship with Japan. It was not Costa Rica that sent Commodore Perry to force open Japanese ports, nor the Costa Rican military that fought bitterly with Japanese soldiers on distant islands. But passively enjoying Japanese pop culture over the course of years? Rooting for mechanized heroes invented an ocean away? That’s something worth commemorating.“Japan: Kingdom of Characters” continues through March 29 at the National Gallery, former penitentiary, downtown San José. Mon.-Friday, 8 a.m. –4:30 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free. Info: National Gallery website. Facebook Comments Related posts:‘Urban Sketchers’ draw San José Artist Justin Griffin-Zúñiga receives first solo show in Costa Rica Christmas cheer, oxcart parades, and other happenings around Costa Rica Shakespearean ballet, outdoor tango, and other happenings around Costa Rica To properly introduce “Japan: Kingdom of Characters,” the new exhibit at the National Gallery, here’s a quick anecdote.Many years ago, I had the chance to spend a few days in Osaka, Japan. On the first morning, I ended up lost inside a building: I exited a train, entered a mall, took an elevator to a patio, realized that the patio was actually 20 stories above the street, and re-entered the elevator. When the doors opened, they revealed a toy store.The store was vast, with a low ceiling and deep interior, giving the illusion that its aisles extended forever. As I tromped down the tile floor, trying to find an exit, I started passing familiar faces: Hello Kitty stickers and lunchboxes, Sailor Moon DVDs, Pokémon gadgets, Dragon Ball Z storybooks, and thousands of other items. Then I saw it: a one-meter statue of Voltron, the giant robot hero of “Voltron: Defender of the Universe,” displayed prominently in the middle of the store.I had not seen “Voltron” since I was a kid, and had in fact forgotten that “Voltron” existed. Like most “anime” – the universal term for Japanese animation – “Voltron” had a concept too bizarre to properly summarize, but basically Voltron was a gigantic robot constructed out of smaller space-pods that looked like lions. The pilots of these space-pods were people dressed in aerodynamic costumes, and when they linked together, they created a super-warrior that fought other leviathans on distant planets.last_img read more

COD 1040 – OneStory House in Excellent Location Rohrmoser For Sale

first_img One-story house located in Rohrmoser on the main street with very easy access in an excellent location.The house is zoned for commercial land use.Suitable for all kinds of offices, such as a law firm, medical offices, call centers, engineers, and architects among others.It has 245 square meters of construction on 280 square meters of land.This is located in a very safe, gated area.Excellent construction with high ceilings that allow for great ventilation and lighting.It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, living and dining room, TV room, large kitchen with breakfast area, large patio space, backyard and cellar.Garage has space for four cars with electric gates. Next Image info heading info content  Province: San JoséCantón: San JoséConstruction: 245m2Land: 280m2Bedrooms: 4Bathrooms: 3Parking: 4A/C: Yes Price: $285,000 REDUCED to $265,000Email: Features Include: See this and other listings in the new Tico Times Real Estate section here. Facebook Comments Related posts:What $50 million gets you in Miami’s resurgent condo market Costa Rica’s struggle with fiscal reform highlights its governance problems Museum inaugurates design exhibit featuring San José’s oldest shops From Syria to Cartago: One immigrant’s four-generation family business in Costa Rica Previous Imagelast_img read more

Uber up and running in Costa Rica despite red light from Transport

first_imgPlaza Viquez, primeros taxistas llegan a los alrededores del MOPT @DGPT_CR @ZOOMRADIO919 @monumentalCR @RED911FM— Traffic506 (@Traffic506) August 21, 2015 Pacheco told Channel 7 News that he believed the company could operate legally under a decision from the Comptroller General’s Office that says communities can provide their own public services, including transportation. That legalese is reflected in the app’s terms of service message. By using the app, users agree to join the — take a deep breath before you say this out loud — “Club de Colaboración para la Autosatisfacción de Necesidades de Movilidad en Común, S.A.” (Club for the Collaborative Self-Fulfillment of Common Mobility Needs). The name would sound more kumbayah if Uber weren’t valued at $50 billion.Licensed red taxis wasted no time expressing their opinion of the new competition. Friday afternoon red taxis met in front of Casa Presidencial in Zapote in protest and carried out a traffic slowdown from there to MOPT’s offices in Plaza Víquez south of downtown San José, according to Waze Costa Rica and Ruta Alterna. Pero enserio…YA PUEDES PEDIR #UBERTICO 😀— Uber Costa Rica (@Uber_CR) August 21, 2015 ¯_(ツ)_/¯ #UberTico— Uber Costa Rica (@Uber_CR) August 21, 2015 MOPT warned on Facebook that drivers could be fined ₡110,000 and lose their license plates if caught driving for Uber. There was no mention of how the ministry would enforce this rule in a city where unlicensed taxis are already an everyday occurrence. The ministry condemned the service for going live and effectively washed its hands of any responsibility, saying that it would not hear complaints about Uber’s service.Uber’s apparent response to the government? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯center_img Uber Costa Rica gleefully flouted the country’s laws governing taxis Friday afternoon when the ride-hailing service went live at 4:00 p.m. While the basic UberX service started accepting riders, the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) said the company is operating here illegally.Uber Costa Rica’s General Manager Humberto Pacheco told Channel 7 TV News he was confident that the service was within the bounds of the law. MOPT disagreed.“Is Uber’s service legal? No.”That’s the first line of a news release posted on MOPT’s Facebook page Friday afternoon. The post says — in no uncertain terms — that the government considers the ride-hailing service in violation of pubic transportation law in Costa Rica.In its statement, MOPT acknowledged that the ministry and Uber met Thursday to discuss how the company could operate legally in Costa Rica, but said they hadn’t come to an agreement. Uber then decided to launch operations Friday afternoon anyway, just in time for the weekend rush. Facebook Comments Related posts:Uber starts accepting drivers in Costa Rica but government threatens fines Uber says it will support drivers fined by police in Costa Rica  Costa Rican police leadership denies targeting Uber drivers  Uber rolls out surge pricing in Costa Ricalast_img read more

Presidential fashion Best 5 outfits President Solís sported in 2015

first_imgRelated posts:President Solís gets good grade from most Costa Ricans as first 100 days pass President Solís announces goal to create 217,000 jobs during his term Cuban artist pushes boundary between art and politics, and pays a price Costa Rica’s top 5 political fiascos of 2015 Clothes make the man, the saying goes, and President Luis Guillermo Solís took the adage to heart this year. Being president is a political and ceremonial post in Costa Rica, which means that besides wearing smart suits, wrangling with lawmakers and traveling the globe to meet with world leaders, sometimes you have to throw on a cowboy hat or a sweet presidential sash to meet the demands of the occasion. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesSolís caught some flack in July when he showed up at a ceremony honoring firefighters wearing a captain’s uniform. The brief brouhaha got us thinking what else Solís wore this year. Here are our picks for the top five Luis Gui looks in 2015.1. Graduation GownSolís wore this black and gold ensemble at Renmin University of China during a state visit to Beijing in January. The play between the gold stripe down the middle of the gown and the black field draws the viewer’s eye to the center, creating a slimming effect for the wearer. Careful, the graduation tassel can be a fashion faux pas. Note Solís’ tassel is on the left, which means that he’s already received his honorary diploma. Keep it on the right of the cap until graduation. Unisex, formal occasions only. President Luis Guillermo Solís speaks at Renmin University in Beijing during a visit to China in January 2015. Via Renmin University2. Park RangerSometimes the leader of the country needs to get some dirt under the fingernails. In February, Solís visited La Cangreja National Park wearing a wide canvas hat, hiking pants, boots and an Osa Conservation Area polo shirt. Classic outdoor wear, informal. President Luis Guillermo Solís in La Cangreja National Park in February 2015. (Courtesy Casa Presidencial)3. Firefighter Captain UniformWho can resist a man in uniform? Evidently, Solís’ detractors. This is the outfit that drew such criticism, namely because Solís isn’t a firefighter; he’s the president of Costa Rica. Critics accused the president of playing “dress up” at the firefighters’ 150th anniversary in July. But Casa Presidencial said Solís meant the gesture as a sign of respect for the firefighters. Epaulets are a nice touch for a country without an army and the white hat guarantees he’s not lost in the crowd. Reserve for sesquicentennial celebrations, formal. President Luis Guillermo Solís at the 150th anniversary of the Costa Rican firefighters in July 2015. Via Twitter4. DashikiThis is probably the first time a Costa Rican president has worn West African garb. Solís has spoken often about his family’s Jamaican roots, and he went for a West African classic, the dashiki, complete with a matching brimless kufi cap, for Afro-Costa Rican Culture Day in August. Not to be outdone, U.S. Ambassador S. Fitzgerald Haney also rocked a dashiki at the parade in Limón. Everyday wear. President Luis Guillermo Solís, first lady Mercedes Peña and U.S. Ambassador S. Fitzgerald Haney at an Afro-Costa Rican Culture Day celebration in August 2015. Via U.S. Embassy in San José5. Whitewater RafterBuilding on his sportsman look from La Cangreja, Solís went whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River in August. Safety first, don’t forget the helmet! Outdoor active wear, casual. ¡Listo! Solís is handed a paddle. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times Facebook Commentslast_img read more

FIFA wants former officials including Costa Ricas Eduardo Li to pay back

first_imgZURICH, Switzerland – FIFA on Wednesday sought tens of millions of dollars in damages from the “sordid” officials facing charges in the United States over mass bribery scandals that have rocked world football.In a wide-ranging admission on the scope of football corruption, just two weeks after Gianni Infantino replaced Sepp Blatter as its president, football’s governing body called on U.S. authorities to investigate the assets of former FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb.It said the Cayman Islands official was leading an “extravagant lifestyle” in a U.S. home that may have been bought with bribes.FIFA also made its most explicit accusation yet that South Africa paid a $10 million bribe to get votes to back its bid for the 2010 World Cup.World football is at the center of multiple inquiries into bribery and misconduct and the award of World Cup tournaments.Thirty-nine individuals face charges in the United States over more than $200 million in bribes. FIFA’s former leader Blatter and his heir apparent Michel Platini have both been banned.FIFA acknowledged the widespread graft of recent decades as it accused the tainted officials of “brazen corruption.”“By corrupting these tournaments, matches, sponsorships, and other football affairs through their backroom deals and secret payoffs, the defendants dragged FIFA into their sordid misconduct,” said the FIFA demand for “victim restitution” made to the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York.FIFA said in a statement that it “estimates that at a minimum tens of millions of dollars were diverted” through bribes and other corrupt schemes. “This amount is likely to increase as the investigation continues.”It will seek money from the $190 million that the United States says has been forfeited by the 39 individuals and two companies facing charges.FIFA named 20 former executive committee members and leading officials in regional confederations that it said had taken more than $28 million in compensation, travel and other costs alone, including Costa Rica’s Eduardo Li, the former head of the Costa Rican Football Federation. In late February, a judge agreed to allow Li to be placed under house arrest in exchange for a $5 million deposit while the corruption case moves forward.Conditions include that Li remain in the New York area, monitored by an electronic bracelet and 24-hour video surveillance. Li also surrendered his passport to the FBI. New FIFA President Gianni Infantino reacts after winning the election during an extraordinary FIFA Congress in Zurich, on Feb. 26, 2016. Fabrice Coffrini/AFPFIFA the ‘victim’“FIFA as the world governing body of football wants that money back and we are determined to get it no matter how long it takes,” said Infantino, who was elected FIFA president on Feb. 26.Many of the bribes at the center of the U.S. investigation were paid for by lucrative television and sponsorship deals in Central and South America. Most of the defendants are from this region.World Cup bids also face mounting scrutiny, however.South Africa has strongly denied paying a bribe to secure the 2010 World Cup. But FIFA backed suspicions raised by U.S. investigators.The claim says executive committee members — including Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago and Chuck Blazer of the United States, “sold their votes on multiple occasions.”It said that Warner, who is fighting extradition to the United States, Blazer, who has made a plea deal with U.S. authorities, Warner’s son Daryan Warner and other unidentified suspects “engineered a $10 million payoff in exchange for executive committee votes regarding where the 2010 FIFA World Cup would be hosted.”Warner sent his son to Paris to collect “a briefcase with $10,000 in cash from a high-ranking South African bid committee official,” said the document.“Ultimately, given defendant Warner’s strong illicit ties to the South African bid committee, the South Africans offered a more attractive bribe of $10 million in exchange for Warner’s, Blazer’s, and a third executive committee member’s votes,” it added.“They disguised and funnelled the bribe money through the financial accounts of FIFA, member associations, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup local organizing committee.”Neither the South African government nor its football association responded immediately. But the sports minister Fikile Mbalula, who has denied any wrongdoing in the past, called a press conference for Thursday.FIFA also told how Warner sold votes for the 2011 FIFA presidential election to Qatari official Mohamed bin Hammam, who has since been banned for life.Delegates at a Caribbean Football Union meeting where bin Hamman spoke were each given envelopes containing $40,000 in cash.Webb has been accused of involvement in bribes for television and marketing deals. He made a deal with U.S. prosecutors last year, having agreed to pay more than $6.7 million, and is now on bail living in a mansion in Georgia state.FIFA called on the U.S. Attorney to carry out an immediate accounting of Webb’s assets and funds.“FIFA is concerned that Mr. Webb may not have fully disclosed his assets to the court or to the government,” the world body said in a letter to the U.S. Attorney.FIFA highlighted a media report indicating “Webb continues his extravagant lifestyle” and that his home may have been bought with “bribes and kickbacks.” Eduardo Li, right, hosts Sepp Blatter during the embattled FIFA president’s 2014 trip to Costa Rica. Ezequiel Becerra/AFPShow us the moneyFIFA’s 22-page request to seek part of the money that could be collected from defendants in the U.S. case was filed on Tuesday and made public on Wednesday. The organization is seeking at least $24 million in restitution from former officials in the organization since 2004.“By depriving FIFA of honest services, the accused obtained money from FIFA in an unfair manner in the form of salaries, bonuses, benefits and other compensation,” the complaint states, adding that the world football body “has the right to restitution of these amounts.”The list includes nearly all former directors of Concacaf and Conmebol who face federal charges in New York and served on FIFA’s Executive Committee or other FIFA bodies.From Ricardo Teixeira, ex-president of Brazil’s Football Federation and a former member of FIFA’s Executive Committee, FIFA seeks $3.5 million. From Paraguayan Nicolás Leoz, the amount exceeds $3.25 million.FIFA wants more than $5 million from Rafael Salguero, the former president of Guatemala’s Football Federation. From other former officials, the amounts FIFA is seeking are smaller, including Costa Rica’s Li, from whom  FIFA hopes to collect $10,750.As the New York Times pointed out on Wednesday, the case is peculiar in that, “Organizations reeling from scandal rarely ask the government to reimburse them for their employees’ crimes. More often, they pay penalties.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica’s Eduardo Li to request release on bail from US prison FIFA memo asks would-be president to stick to the script Honduras ex-President Rafael Callejas goes to US to face FIFA corruption charges FIFA corruption probe: Michel Platini vows to fight ‘injustice’last_img read more

Brazilians take World Cup of sportfishing in Quepos

first_imgRelated posts:Offshore World Championship fishing tournament gets underway in Quepos Tarpon in the Pacific? Are there illegal aliens among us? Winners of Costa Rica Fishackathon create tool to help track fuel subsidies for fishing Costa Rican Coast Guard rescues U.S. tourists adrift at sea near Quepos The Lucas Oil 2017 Offshore World Championship billfish tournament concludedThursday in Quepos with two Brazilian teams finishing in top positions.Ricardo Pedrosa, fishing aboard the Barnacle II, sealed the deal at 2:04 p.m. on the last day of the four-day tournament with a sailfish that put his team in enough of a lead to hold until the clock ran out. His team, Torneio de Peixes de Bico, took top spot with 2,900 points. Team Torneio de Rio de Janeiro finished in second place with 2,400 points, and defending champions Team 2016 OWC Champions rounded out third place with 2,300 points.Although the numbers of sailfish caught were disappointingly low this year, anglers crushed all existing marlin catch records from previous tournaments. A whopping total of 52 marlins were caught and released even though no one fished on any of the “artificial marine ecosystems” that now dot the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and have become famous for attracting marlin. (Courtesy of Will Briegel)Individual awards went to the following:Best Captains1.       Johnny Vanegas fishing on the Mucushia with 2,700 points2.       Juan Carlos Zamora on the Spanish Fly with 2,500 points3.       Carlos Espinosa on the Sea Fly with 2,400 pointsBest Anglers1.       Brian Walley      1,500 points2.       Luena Amaro     1,400 points3.       Conrad Skinner  1,300 pointsCongratulation to Marina Pez Vela and Bonnier Corp. for hosting another premier event highlighting the fishing in Costa Rica.Full tournament details can be found at   Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Millennial fitness in Costa Rica Pole sports

first_imgMillennials have put their twist on everything. For them, fitness means mental, physical, and emotional health. That’s why they’ve shifted from regular exercise routines to exercise experiences. It’s more of a lifestyle choice, one that has to be flaunted on social media, of course.That’s why the boutique fitness studios have become so popular among young adults and their social media accounts. These small fitness centers offer personalized training and unique experiences to only a few members per class. This makes for the perfect small tribe of millennial fitness.The first of those tribes we’re going to look into is that of pole sports.Pole dancing is probably the most popular pole sport, but some variations include artistic, exotic, fitness, sports, and others. Pole sports merges dance and acrobatics, a term that helps dispel the myth that this is something only for exotic dancers. However, you do have to use less clothing than what you usually wear in a gym.Skin is the main tool when practicing pole sports because the fabric can actually make you fall or slip. You have to wear the right outfit for this fitness tribe. Very millennial.In addition to the aesthetic element, there are both physical and mental benefits of practicing pole sports. It increases blood circulation, promotes weight loss, and helps muscle gain because the movements and repetitions strengthen the abdomen, buttocks, legs, back, triceps and biceps. In just one session you can burn hundreds of calories, depending on the intensity of the training. Pole sports is considered a high-performance discipline that requires great strength.We cannot forget the emotional or mental part. Pole sports can stimulate your creativity, boost self-esteem, and reduces stress. María José Braddick Serrano / The Tico Times“You feel empowered when you are finally able to execute the moves,” said Ethel Benambur, who owns a studio called Pole Fusion Fit.Benambur remembers that she used to be very insecure and would never show her skin.Her adventure began eight years ago while she was watching her daily ice skating videos. One of the recommended videos was an artistic pole performance. She got so hypnotized by it that she wanted to know more.Eventually, she enrolled in pole classes and fell in the love the first time she touched the pole. After researching the different kinds of pole sports, Benambur chose pole sports and fitness due to her joint hypermobility syndrome. Benambur then got her basic, intermediate and advanced certifications at the Mexican Pole Sports Federation.“Pole instructors must know how to work with different body types, and when you do your certification you learn First-Aid,” Benambur said. “I have also taken physiotherapy courses to be extra prepared to take care of my students. When I first opened the academy, everyone thought that it was just to learn exotic dance routines, but it is so much more than that, it is a fitness center.”While it’s a demanding sport, Benambur says there are no physical requirements to practice pole sports and anyone can sign up.“There are no limitations, anyone who is willing to learn and has a great attitude can practice pole sports,” Benambur said. “Age, weight, and height do not matter and both men and women can do it. The only exception would be pregnant women or people with severe injuries. They would have to be very careful.”She added that you can mix all the disciplines into one routine. Pole fitness and sports are more about strength and structure and pole dance involves more choreography, moves on the floor, but they all include acrobatics.Just like with any sport you must start and end your routine with some stretching. We’ll cover that next article, so get your outfit, body, and social media accounts ready to get fit. Facebook Comments Related posts:Millennial fitness in Costa Rica: Twerkshop Breast Cancer Awareness Month to draw runners, walkers, fundraisers Costa Rica’s major league concern Costa Rican diet: The ‘No Sugar’ challengelast_img read more

Spokesman US citizen Puracal leaves Nicaragua

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Puracal left the prison Thursday afternoon hunched down in the back seat of a car being driven by his lawyer without talking to reporters waiting outside.Fabbrith Gomez, Puracal’s attorney, briefly stopped the car and said that Puracal needed a shower and some rest, and wouldn’t be speaking to the news media.Puracal’s team then said officials weren’t letting him leave the country, although Nicaragua’s immigration chief, Maria Antonieta Novoa, said she was unaware of any government actions to keep the U.S. man there.Janis Puracal, the American’s sister, said the family was anxiously waiting for him to be released so he could fly back to the United States.“The fight is not over until Jason actually is walking out of the prison and comes to the United States,” his sister said by telephone before his release.A three-judge appeals panel vacated three charges against Jason Puracal in a decision announced Wednesday. He had been convicted in August 2011 and sentenced to 22 years in prison in September.Nicaragua’s chief of organized crime prosecutors, Javier Morazan, said he was studying the ruling of the appeals court to decide which steps to take. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   ErrorOKFree Rate QuoteCall now 623-889-0130 ErrorOKcenter_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Associated PressMEXICO CITY (AP) – A U.S. man imprisoned for two years by Nicaraguan authorities on drug and money-laundering charges left the country Friday in an apparent end to a case that U.S. lawmakers and human rights advocates called an example of unjust prosecution.Jason Puracal is out of Nicaragua but his family will not for the time being release any information about how he left or where he is, said Brad Chase, a spokesman for the David House Agency, a crisis-management firm that has been helping Puracal’s family. Sponsored Stories The appeals panel ruled that the sentencing judge failed to carefully examine the evidence and explain the reasons for convicting Puracal and 10 others. Also, the court agreed the judge had violated the defendants’ rights by not allowing the defense to introduce evidence.The case has drawn the scrutiny of lawmakers and rights advocates who considered the judicial process marred with inconsistencies.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Moroccos unemployed march to demand jobs

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Moroccan university education, which is free, has also been criticized for not preparing graduates for the job market.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Parents, stop beating yourself up Comments   Share   Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement For the past several years, there have been nearly daily protests in the capital by groups of unemployed university graduates asking for public sector jobs.“The solution for unemployment is to create government jobs, especially for those with university degrees,” said Jawad Karoom, who graduated with a degree in nuclear physics in 2012.Most of the marchers, who came from all across the country, dismissed the idea of getting a job in the private sector.“The private sector is not well organized and there are no guarantees for wages or good benefits _ the public sector guarantees dignity,” said Youssef Ben Ibrahim, who holds a Master’s degree in French literature and has been unemployed since his graduation two years ago.Past governments have appeased the unemployed graduates by handing out a certain number of government jobs every year, but the Islamist-led government currently in power said government bureaucracy was swollen with useless jobs and the practice is over.Protesters also denounced the government practice of insisting on exams to determine the skill level of job applicants.The government has been under increasing pressure over a faltering economy and efforts to cut expensive fuel subsidies. Men’s health affects baby’s health too How do cataracts affect your vision? RABAT, Morocco (AP) – Some 2,000 jobless Moroccans marched through the capital Sunday, demanding the government sort out the nation’s unemployment by giving them jobs in public sector.Like the rest of North Africa, youth unemployment, especially among university graduates, is a persistent social woe that successive governments have been unable to tackle.Though the official unemployment rate is only 9 percent in this North African country, it is nearly double for university graduates, and 30 percent for those under 34.last_img read more

Pirate attacks dropped 40 percent since 2011 peak

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The maritime bureau said more than 300 people were taken hostage at sea last year.Indonesia saw the most pirate attacks last year with 106. Nigeria was second with 31.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – The seafaring association says that pirate attacks at sea have dropped 40 percent since their peak in 2011 thanks to a huge drop in attacks off Somalia.The International Maritime Bureau says that there were only seven attacks and attempted attacks off Somalia last year, down from 49 in 2012 and 160 in 2011, the epidemic’s peak.The Somalia piracy problem was cracked after armed guards were placed on ships and because of an increase in patrols by international naval forces. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Parents, stop beating yourself uplast_img read more

Singapore teen pleads not guilty over online video

first_imgSINGAPORE (AP) — A Singaporean teenager pleaded not guilty Thursday to two charges over an online video he posted that was critical of Christianity and the nation’s late founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew.Sixteen-year-old Amos Yee Pang Sang told a packed courtroom that he would not be taking the stand to provide further evidence in the case. Prosecutors said they did not plan to bring forward any witnesses. Top Stories Yee faces two charges: intending to wound the religious feelings of Christians and transmitting an obscene image over the Internet of Lee and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. A third charge, making offensive remarks against Lee, has been stood down temporarily.In an eight-minute clip that was posted on YouTube in March, Yee said Lee and Jesus were “both power-hungry and malicious,” among other derogatory comments mostly targeting Lee.If found guilty, Yee could face jail time of up to three years, or an unspecified fine.His trial was adjourned until Friday afternoon, when prosecutors and his lawyer will submit their closing arguments. The judge may issue her verdict then or next week.According to court documents shown to The Associated Press, Yee told police that he was raised Catholic but turned atheist by mid-2013.Yee has spent about two weeks in jail. Arrested and charged in March, he was bailed out by a stranger, then defied one of his bail conditions — refraining from posting any public material online — and jailed again.When he re-entered custody on April 30, Yee was slapped in the face by a stranger outside court. The assailant was arrested and is being investigated by police. Sponsored Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

Pianoplaying senators latest tune New education policy

first_img“He comes to the negotiating table with a very strong philosophy, and what he thinks is right, but he also understands the art of compromise,” Murray says.For the first time, the proposal will get a debate and likely vote on the Senate floor.“It’s a chance for him to leverage all of those experiences that he had as governor, as secretary of education and president of the University of Tennessee,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.For all of the platforms from which Alexander has advocated for education, the bully pulpit of the presidency was not to be among them. He lost the 1996 GOP nomination to Kansas Republican Bob Dole despite a splashy campaign featuring Alexander’s red-and-black plaid flannel shirt. Four years later, Alexander tried again, but Bush won the party nod. In 2002, Alexander ran for and won the Senate seat vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Fred Thompson.Being a Senate pragmatist in the subsequent polarizing years drew derision from the GOP’s increasingly powerful conservatives, who helped Republicans claim the House majority in 2010. After the bitter budget and debt ceiling deal in summer 2011, Alexander retreated to a cabin in northern Ontario. He returned to Washington and stepped down from his No. 3 post in the party’s leadership, an implicit rejection of the partisan warfare that had so energized the GOP but brought the nation to the brink of default. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Top Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Conservatives noticed, calling him “liberal Lamar” and a “mushy moderate,” but Alexander defeated primary challenger Joe Carr and won re-election last year.These days, the red-and-black flannel shirt is mounted prominently in Alexander’s Capitol Hill office, near a 27-foot barn wall festooned with antiques on loan from a Tennessee museum. Around the corner is the piano on which Alexander sometimes noodles, sending music floating down the stark government hallway.The piano plays a prominent role in Alexander’s public life.“I was trying to think of what unifies a long skinny state like Tennessee and I concluded it was music,” he said. He successfully convinced Nissan to build a plant in Tennessee; negotiations reportedly involved Alexander’s rendition of the “Tennessee Waltz.”In 2008, it was Volkswagen’s turn. Bredesen recalled a dinner at Corker’s Chattanooga home during talks about bringing the company to the state. Alexander sat down at the piano and played, “Chattanooga Choo Choo” for the German executives — who knew the words and sang along.Three weeks later, the company announced it would open a $1 billion plant in Tennessee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., holds up the product of Alexander’s negotiations with his Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, as a model for the way he wants the Senate to work under GOP control.“I think the way he navigated a committee that has the most liberal members of the Senate and a few of the most conservative, to get to this point, is why I was willing to give this issue floor time,” the schedule-setting McConnell said in a recent interview. “In my job, floor time is the coin of the realm. It means that I have confidence that the underlying bill is going to succeed.”The proposed rewrite stands on the premise that states and localities are better positioned to assess their own school performance than what Alexander calls the “national school board” created by the 2001 law that Republican President George W. Bush championed.It helped that Republicans and Democrats — and the army of teacher and education lobbyists swarming around the rewrite — agree on that general idea, Alexander says. The turning point came earlier this year as Republicans assumed control of the Senate, when Murray suggested that she wanted to get an agreement. The son of a schoolteacher and principal, this former federal education secretary and onetime university president will be shepherding a bill he’s been working on for seven years: a rewrite of the contentious No Child Left Behind law.Alexander acknowledges “getting a little emotional” when his polarized committee — the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — approved the measure unanimously this spring. “But,” he said in an interview, “I’m going to save my emotions until we get a presidential signature.”The carefully balanced legislation is a long way from becoming law and faces an uncertain future in the House. But it’s perhaps the most consequential shot Alexander will have at a lifelong effort to loosen the federal government’s grip on public schools.“Legacy, to him is not, ‘I need to do something so people will remember my name,’ ” said Democrat Phil Bredesen, who, like Alexander, is a former Tennessee governor who made education a priority. “For him, it’s that, ‘I need to leave a mark that will do good things in the future.’ “For the 75-year-old Alexander, the bill’s success would punctuate a legislative career fueled by pragmatism and the drive for results, a sharp contrast to new GOP colleagues such as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have blocked legislation and are proud of it. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies FILE – In this May 22, 2015 file photo, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., plays piano in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Tennessee Republican has been playing music, and politics, his whole life, blending the two last month as he practiced an upcoming performance on a borrowed piano in his Senate office. But this week, Alexander’s stage is the Senate floor, where he’ll do his day job as the top Republican on education issues by managing a bipartisan bill to update the No Child Left Behind Act with a policy giving states more power over their own public schools. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes WASHINGTON (AP) — How does a musician-senator fill the time during yet another partisan Senate stalemate?In Sen. Lamar Alexander’s case, he sits down at a borrowed piano in his Capitol Hill office and, with a grin, bangs out “The Memphis Blues.”He’s been blending music and politics his whole life. And this coming week, the three-term Tennessee Republican hopes Democrats and the GOP harmonize as the Senate becomes Alexander’s stage. “I might have been the icing on the cake,” Alexander says.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more