The hotel alternative is now offering … hotels Airbnb SiteMinder sign deal

first_img Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group The hotel alternative is now offering … hotels? Airbnb, SiteMinder sign deal Thursday, February 8, 2018 center_img SAN FRANCISCO — Airbnb has launched a new global hotel technology partnership with SiteMinder, billed as the leading cloud platform for hotels to attract and book guests around the world.Under the partnership, traditional hospitality businesses that use SiteMinder and meet Airbnb’s hospitality standards can list rooms on the platform.The new technology developed jointly by the two companies means hotels can now connect booking information to their existing management system in real-time.SiteMinder has more than 28,000 clients including boutique hotels and hotel ownership groups. Airbnb says guests “can expect the locally-influenced and unique accommodations they expect when booking an Airbnb listing”.“Small hotels and B&Bs have long used Airbnb and now we’re building new tools and partnerships to help these local businesses thrive,” Cameron Houser, Airbnb’s Program Manager for Hotels. “We are dedicated to working with small hospitality businesses that excel at offering the best guest experiences and living our mission of belonging and we couldn’t ask for a better partner than SiteMinder. SiteMinder is the industry leader and we look forward to continuing to work together to support boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts around the world.”More news:  Can you guess the top Instagrammed wedding locations in the world?Mike Ford, Managing Director and Founder of SiteMinder, says: “In an increasingly-complex and competitive world, SiteMinder’s partnership with Airbnb offers a new opportunity for boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts to engage the growing number of travelers who seek exceptional hospitality and an authentic local experience. We are delighted to provide an innovative technology solution that now makes it easy for these small accommodation providers to reach the millions of customers who use Airbnb everyday, and get time back to provide memorable experiences for guests.” Tags: Airbnb Sharelast_img read more

The latest hotel and attraction news from Oahu

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Monday, September 24, 2018 The latest hotel and attraction news from Oahu Tags: Hawaii, Oahu Travelweek Group center_img Posted by OAHU — What’s new on the island of Oahu? Plenty.Here’s a roundup of the latest offerings:Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa launched a new ‘Waikiki by Moonlight’ event series this year to honour inductees of the Hawaiian Music Hall and Walk of Fame. The event takes place on the Saturday closest to the full moon each month and is free and open to the public. Go to Waikiki Beach Resort is offering the exclusive ‘Voyager 47 Club Lounge’ on the lobby level above Duke’s Waikiki. The lounge provides a beautiful view overlooking Diamond Head for guests staying in club-level rooms and suites. Go to Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort’s pool has been refreshed with new cabanas, and updated food and beverage offering, sale of reef-friendly sunscreen, and additional education about Outrigger’s coral conservation and sustainability initiative, OZONE. Go to a US$35 million renovation, Queen Kapiolani Hotel will reopen in October 2018 featuring original artwork by Nick Kuchar, Katie Borden and Mike Field. It will also boast artwork and prints from the 1960s sourced from Bishop Museum, as well as original artwork featuring Hawaiian alii (royalty). The hotel is the only property in Waikiki that offers unobstructed views of the rugged slope of Diamond Head, the lush Kapiloani Park and the white sands of Waikiki Beach. The heart of the 315-room boutique hotel will be the third floor pool deck, which will be home to international culinary star Plan Do See’s first Hawaii concept, DECK. Go to Shoreline Hotel Waikiki underwent a $4 million renovation to fits its new theme, ‘Neon Meets Nature’. The vibrant redesign is intended to draw more millennials to stay at the boutique hotel. Go to Hawaiian Helicopters has introduced two new 30-minute tours of Oahu: the Pali Makani, which departs from Honolulu, and the Waikiki Spectacular, which leaves from the west side of the island in Ko Olina. Both tours showcase such top sites as Iolani Palace, Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery and Pearl Harbor. Go to Diamond Head State Monument Tours are now offered in English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin. The tour cost will range from $4 to $19.95 and all tours will include the State of Hawaii – Diamond Head Hiking Narrated Tour. Go to Shore EcoTours will offer its new Waikiki-Haleiwa shuttle service that provides visitors a convenient way to visit Oahu’s North Shore. Go to Adventure Tours presents a new Premium Tour Pearl Harbor experience in minibuses on Oahu. These brand new Grech vehicles offer the highest level of comfort and amenities. Highlights include the Battleship Missouri, Arizona Memorial, Punchbowl National Cemetery, and a Honolulu City Tour. Go to 13 years solely in Waikiki, Segway of Hawaii is adding glide rides and tours to Kakaako. The new ‘Segway of Hawaii-Kakaako Tour Center’ will offer an array of tours throughout Magic Island, Ala Moana Beach Park, Kakaako Waterfront Park, a history tour to downtown Honolulu, and a new POW! WOW! Mural Art Tour through Kakaako. Go to more information on travel to Oahu go to Sharelast_img read more

Virtuoso member TPI emphasizes luxury sales with latest round of regionals

first_img Share Virtuoso member TPI emphasizes luxury sales with latest round of regionals TORONTO — More than 250 TPI travel advisors and preferred partners shared ideas on how to increase luxury sales at close to a dozen regional meetings across Canada.“TPI is unique in the fact that while our advisors are independent contractors who run their own travel business with the freedom and flexibility they need, we offer the best peer-to-peer support in the industry. Our advisors get into business for themselves, but are never by themselves,” says Christine Winchester, National Director of Sales and Professional Development for TPI.“Having the opportunity to gather together at a regional meeting to learn from our valued suppliers — and from each other — is a great advantage to being part of the TPI family.”Jaime Murphy, a long-time TPI travel advisor, recently moved her business from Newfoundland to Edmonton. “For me, the greatest benefit of these meetings is the personal connections I’ve made. It has been essential in my business, especially since the move,” said Murphy. “Before this meeting, I wasn’t familiar with any of the partner representatives in Edmonton. Now I have those personal connections — and I know about new products that come with higher yields. I am very grateful we are presented with these opportunities. It’s why I love being part of TPI.”Michele Smith from Barrie, ON said her team walked away from the meetings with the reminder that luxury is not the same for everyone — that one size does not fit all. “Having face-to-face meetings with suppliers provides us with a very different experience than webinars. When you leave the office and attend a meeting, it’s another way to learn not only from the suppliers, but the other advisors and TPI staff in the room,” said Smith.Adds Sherry Petrasko, a TPI travel advisor based in Winnipeg: “I feel it is extremely important to attend these regional meetings if we want our business to thrive. It’s an opportunity to visit with other agents and share stories and tips of the travel trade. I always come away with so many ideas from other agents and suppliers.”Suppliers were on hand for the regional meetings as well. “TPI’s emphasis on developing luxury sales is truly welcome,” said Beverley Vickers, Director of Sales and Marketing, Canada, for Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “Having a luxury focus for regional trainings allowed me as a supplier to dig deeper into the relationships I have with interested TPI advisors and help them better understand the luxury cruise landscape. Being able to support the leadership message from TPI management is rewarding, especially since we are now seeing results.”Also taking part in several cities was Mahima Tripathi, CEO and Chief Brand Ambassador, Saleint Inc. “I thought the meetings went extremely well. The advisors engaged in conversations and asked relevant and important questions. TPI is awesome — and their passionate culture is displayed from top to bottom.”TPI will be conducting the next regional gatherings at its annual TPI Summit events, which will take place in nine cities across Canada April 2-13, 2019. << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Events, Sphere, TPI, Virtuosocenter_img Travelweek Group Posted by Wednesday, February 20, 2019 last_img read more

Transat says its in talks for a potential sale

first_img MONTREAL — Transat says it is in preliminary discussions with more than one company concerning a potential transaction involving its acquisition.A statement issued by Transat this morning reads: “These discussions result from expressions of interest received by the Corporation. The Corporation has formed a special committee of independent directors to evaluate the proposals with the assistance of financial and legal advisors, consider, and if deemed advisable, undertake a process for the formal review of strategic alternatives, consider any alternative proposal, and make recommendations to the Board of Directors in the best interests of the Corporation and all its stakeholders.”The statement also says: “This situation has no impact on the clients or employees of Transat, nor on its operations, which are continuing as usual.”Transat adds that the discussions are at a preliminary stage. “No decision has been made as to any potential transaction. There can be no assurance that any transaction will take place. The Corporation does not intend to provide further updates or comments with respect to the foregoing except as required by law.”More news:  Beep, beep! Transat hits the streets with Cubamania truckThe announcement came as the company prepared to hold its annual meeting this morning in Montreal. Transat says it’s in talks for a potential sale << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Travelweek Group center_img Tags: Transat Tuesday, April 30, 2019 Posted bylast_img read more

Reform would expose tax dodgers

first_imgNo related posts. Broad Front Party lawmaker José Maria Villalta presented a law reform to disclose names and debts owed to the Tax Administration.The initiative is supported by all Legislative Assembly parties and even by the Executive Branch, in a bid to promote fiscal transparency.The motion of the Broad Front Party introduces a reform to Article 115 of the “Code of Tax Regulations and Procedures,” related to the use of information. Under the reform, “information about the names of individuals and legal entities that have tax debts to the Tax Administration, and the amount of such debt, will be publicly accessible.”The motion also empowers the Tax Administration to publish lists of persons or companies that have not submitted tax declarations, and those engaging in economic activity without registering as taxpayers. Currently, the law considers that information as secret and penalizes disclosure.Next steps include a discussion of the motion among lawmakers in the Legislative Assembly. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

In Costa Rica hospital woman allegedly posing as nurse gives shot to

first_imgPolice arrested a woman Tuesday who allegedly entered Hospital San Juan de Dios in San José dressed as a nurse and injected a patient with a shot, which appeared to lead to her death.Celso Gamboa, vice minister of public security, wrote on his Twitter account that the suspect injected a substance into a patient who later died.A 63-year-old woman from the northwestern province of Guanacaste was arrested around noon inside the San José hospital. The alleged attack occurred against a 55-year-old woman who entered the hospital Monday with kidney problems. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img

Fralems Ape

first_imgThis mural outside the Legislative Assembly in San José is part of a project called “De mi barrio a tu barrio.”It was sponsored by the Goethe Institute, the Germany Embassy and the San José Municipality. Young artists were invited to paint on the wall, and the image displayed here caused a bit of a stir. Some lawmakers complained that the suited ape resembled ex-President Oscar Arias. The artist, Fralem, denied any intended similarity.  Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img

Greens of your own

first_imgEd Bernhardt No related posts. As the rains return to Costa Rica, now is the best time to get started planting a home garden.center_img The bright, sunny mornings are ideal for getting outside to do some exercise while tending the garden and landscaping plants around the home. A natural home garden can produce an abundance of nutritious fruits and vegetables, and, as the cost of living rises and rises, the garden can help stretch your income.  Here’s a mini-list of my favorite vegetables for a natural garden. These plants grow in most regions of the country, and even apartment dwellers can grow these plants in containers on porches and windows. Seeds are available in many nurseries and agricultural supply stores across the country.Cabbage (repollo) is an ideal choice for mid-elevations to the highland regions, while Chinese cabbage or repollo chino and collards or col produce well in the hotter regions.   Cherry Tomatoes (tomatillos) are much hardier than the large tomatoes. They resist disease and pests because they are genetically stronger. Tomatillos can also be grown in five-gallon containers around small home sites or apartments. Be sure to tie them up to a pole or trellis.  Choose bright sunny spots for tomatoes with well-drained, fertile soil.Green beans (vainicas) provide an ample supply of high-quality protein for the family. Ag supply stores offer the variety called Provider or Provenador. Plant the seeds directly in the garden in bright sunny spots with well-drained soil. Onions (cebollinas), and particularly the hardy green bunching onions and chives grow well in most regions of the country. These onions are also called dividing onions, because they propagate new shoots from each plant. That means you keep getting new plants for free!Chives and garlic are also easy to grow at home. Garlic does particularly well as a potted plant in the tropics. Start your seeds in a flat or small pots. Once they become hardy, transplant them to the garden. Harvest mature leaves at the base of each plant for salads and seasonings.Lettuce (lechuga) is easy to grow, as long as you make sure you’re growing the right kind for the tropics. Hot-weather lettuce varieties, like open-leafed salad bowl or oak leaf, are your best bet. Lettuce is tender and needs sunny to partial shaded areas and well drained, rich soil for good production. During the heavy rains, it’s easier to grow lettuce in containers around the sunny sides of you home under the eve of the roof, out of the heavy downpours that tender lettuce just can’t take.Mustard (mostaza) is the easiest to grow of the leafy greens. You can plant the seeds directly in the garden or in pots or containers. Find bright, sunny areas for growing mustard with well-drained, even average soil.  You can tame the fiery taste of mustard by steaming it. You can also include it in your favorite omelets, stir-fries or vegetable dishes.Radish (rabano) is very popular with the locals, and is used in a vinegar and vegetable mix with hot chilies called chilero. Seeds are planted directly in the garden beds with average to fertile soil. This is the fastest growing garden veggie, and you can harvest in less than 45 days! The variety China rose is a favorite amongst gardeners.Parsley (perejil) grows well in gardens in cooler regions or as a potted plant indoors. Seeds are delicate and do best when planted in a flat or small pots. The seeds take two weeks to germinate. Cilantro (cilantro) is a traditional green used for flavoring salads and many dishes, like gallo pinto and ceviche. This queen of the salad greens is hard to beat nutritionally. Its seed can be sown directly in the garden or in pots for kitchen use. It’s also easy to collect seeds for replanting. We do hope you join the gardening party here in Costa Rica this year. For more information on tropical gardening, see our newsletter at: have books and seeds to share with you. Until next time … life’s a garden! Facebook Commentslast_img read more

William and Kate to leave hospital with new baby boy

first_imgNo related posts. LONDON – Prince William and his wife, Kate, are to leave hospital with their newborn son on Tuesday evening and return home to Kensington Palace, the palace confirmed in a statement.“Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge will be discharged this evening from St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington,” the palace said.“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their son will travel home to Kensington Palace.”The statement added that William and Kate wanted to “reiterate their thanks to the hospital for the care and treatment they have all received”.Their unnamed baby son, the new third in line to the British throne, was born at the central London hospital at 4:24 p.m. on Monday weighing a healthy 8 lbs 6 oz.The statement from the palace came shortly after William’s father, Prince Charles, visited his new grandson, telling the press as he left: “You’ll see in a minute.”In Costa Rica, the British ambassador in San José, Her Excellency Sharon Campbell, expressed her delight over yesterday’s news. “This is an exciting time for their Royal Highnesses. I am sure that Costa Ricans will join me and the staff of the British Embassy in San José in wishing the Duke and Duchess and their new arrival all the happiness in the world.”The Tico Times’ Ashley Harrell contributed to this report. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica has fans even at the bottom of the sea

first_imgCaptain Alberto Muñoz shows support for La Sele football team from the depths of Cocos Island, Costa Rica’s “Treasure Island” located 300 miles off the Pacific coast. Facebook Comments Related posts:World Cup upsets focus fans on football instead of protests In Costa Rica, pride for La Sele’s historic World Cup play Snapshots from the Web of Costa Rica’s historic World Cup win A rebuttal to Wall Street Journal editor’s call for US World Cup fans to ignore Costa Ricalast_img

Food and Fútbol Learning from the Netherlands

first_imgRelated posts:US company in Iowa churns out 100 cloned cows a year Awaiting a court decision, anti-GMO activists gain symbolic ground US updates import requirements for tomatoes, gluten-free products Government approves $1 million in aid to farmers affected by unusual weather conditions In terms of landmass, the Netherlands is smaller than Costa Rica. Yet it is a key global player in food production. The agriculture and food industry – farming plus agribusiness – generates 10 percent of the value of the Netherlands’ economy, and it employs roughly 10 percent of Dutch workers. In terms of percentages, these figures aren’t very different than Costa Rica’s. However, in absolute terms, the value of agri-food production in the Netherlands is greater than Costa Rica’s entire gross domestic product.With only 40,000 square kilometers, the Netherlands is the world’s second largest food exporter, surpassed only by the United States, whose territory is 200 times larger. It is the world’s top exporter of onions, and it exports 25 percent of the world’s tomatoes. People live well in the Netherlands. Their per-inhabitant GDP is five times greater than Costa Rica’s, and the percentage of the population who live in poverty is less than half that of our country.From these statistics, one can infer that the belief that a country whose economy is strongly linked to agriculture must be underdeveloped is a mistaken one. It also shows that a country doesn’t need large expanses of territory to be a global food provider.The Netherlands opted many years ago to bet on an agricultural economy driven by innovation and added value. It has one of the most advanced agri-food research systems in the world, led by Wageningen University in close coordination with other research centers in food, nutrition and technology. Thanks to the Dutch system of innovation, their farmers have developed sustainable and efficient production processes and systems, with productivity that is five times greater than the European average and that generates more than 600,000 jobs. The processing industry is one of the world’s most important – just think of their famous Dutch cheese as one good example.This bet by the Dutch, backed by the government and its institutions and centered in a highly productive private sector, is based on such values as long-term vision, organization, coordination and discipline.These values are clearly reflected in other aspects of Dutch life, as we’ve seen in the realm of sports. These are the secrets to how such a tiny country has – and historically has had – one of the best football teams on the planet.Costa Rica can, too. The sporting events of recent days, where our national football team played toe-to-toe with the powerful Dutch team, reflects a process led by Professor Pinto in which these values are applied by players on and off the field. Those values were the keys to success.Just as our Sele accomplished this in sports, if we apply to our agriculture and food industry the values of long-term vision, organization, coordination and discipline, and set our sights on an agriculture based on innovation and added value where the government, the private sector and academia move forward together, we will achieve greater levels of well-being for all our people.Luis Felipe Arauz Cavallini is Costa Rica’s minister of agriculture and livestock. Costa Rica’s defender Cristian Gamboa, in white, vies with the Netherlands’ forward Arjen Robben – aka the Flying Dutchman – during a quarterfinal football match at the Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 5, 2014. Gabriel Bouys/AFP Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Condos available in Tambors Los Delfines Club Golf Condominium For Rent and

first_img info heading info content Province: PuntarenasConstruction: 290m2Land: 685m2Bedrooms: 3Bathrooms: 3.5Parking: 2A/C: YesThe price has been reduced from $370,000 to $350,000 No related posts. Previous Image The houses are located in a sub-condominium called Xanadu (29 house spots, only 10 of them are already built) in Los Delfines Club & Golf Condominium. Located in Tambor, Puntarenas.This property home is nested in a beautiful gated community. The house borders a golf course and is short walking distance to the beach. Totally furnished and ready to be purchase or to be rented.An area of 296 square metersTwo-floor housesThree bedroomsTwo-car garageA yard with a swimming poolBalconies and terracesSell price: $350,000  – Completely furnished. In-house financing available with five to seven years 8.5 percent interest and 25 percent down payment.Rent: Maximum two weeks at a time.Rent price: $320 per night with a maximum of 14 nights, 6 adults, no pets, and no smoking inside of the house. A week during low-season is $1,700 and $2,200 during high-season. Christmas, New Years, and Easter week are not included.Check out all of our offerings in our new real estate section here Facebook Comments Reduced from $370,000 to $350,000 OBOMario SaénzEmail: mario.saenz0@gmail.comPhone: +(506) 8851-8990 Next Image read more

Guatemala president faces mounting pressure in scandal

first_imgThe protest march was led by university students, but drew a broad cross-section of Guatemalan society.Even fast-food restaurants joined in — McDonald’s and Domino’s Pizza shut so their employees could march.“All our restaurants will remain closed. We are joining in the change reshaping our country,” said a message posted to the Twitter account of McDonald’s Guatemala.“This is a historic march. The president is a coward who no longer represents national unity,” said student Iván Castillo.The Guatemalan Comptroller General’s office said it would allow employees to leave work for the march.It urged Pérez Molina to step down, saying he must go “to preserve the peace in Guatemala in the face of demands from diverse sectors of the population.”That came hours after the Public Prosecutor’s Office called on him to resign “to stave off the inability to govern that national instability could cause.”Elsewhere in Guatemala, protesters blocked highways with picket lines, shutting down at least 10 major roads in the north and west of the country.Graft hotlineThe scandal was first uncovered by a United Nations commission set up to investigate high-level corruption in the Central American country.U.N. investigators say Pérez Molina, ex-vice president Roxana Baldetti and a raft of other top officials operated a scheme in which businesses paid bribes to clear their imports through customs at a fraction of the actual tax rate.The scandal has been dubbed “La Línea,” for the hotline investigators say importers would call to access corrupt officials.Baldetti, who resigned in May, has been arrested and charged with siphoning off some $3.8 million between May 2014 and April 2015.A judge ruled Wednesday that she must remain in jail pending trial.The probe has also netted the head of Guatemala’s Tax Administration, his predecessor and several dozen other agency officials.The heads of the central bank and Social Security Administration were also arrested in May over a separate corruption case uncovered by the U.N. commission.The scandal has prompted an exodus from Pérez Molina’s Cabinet as ministers seek to distance themselves from the president.Six of his 14 ministers have resigned in recent days, along with several other top officials.Pérez Molina has not been seen in public for five days.With many Guatemalans exasperated with their political leaders, some have called to postpone the elections until sweeping reforms are implemented in the country of 15 million people, 53.7 percent of whom live in poverty. Facebook Comments GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — Guatemala’s Congress launched an investigative committee Thursday to consider revoking President Otto Pérez Molina’s immunity, as thousands of protesters called on him to resign over a swirling corruption scandal.Pérez Molina has been left increasingly isolated since U.N. investigators accused him of running a massive fraud scheme at the national customs service, a scandal that has already felled his former vice president and caused nearly half his Cabinet to resign in protest.Shouting “Resign now!” thousands of Guatemalans took to the streets in the capital in a show of outrage at the conservative president, 10 days from elections to choose his successor.The 64-year-old retired general, in office since 2012, cannot run for re-election under the Guatemalan Constitution.He has apologized for the fact the graft happened on his watch, but denies involvement and has rejected calls to resign before his term ends in January.Carrying signs with messages like “Otto the Thief” and “Corruption is sucking our lifeblood,” protesters vented their anger against the entire political establishment, after weeks of increasingly disturbing allegations of high-level graft.Read all The Tico Times’ coverage of the recent turmoil in GuatemalaThe five-member Congressional committee considering lifting Perez’s presidential immunity, which was chosen by lots, comprises three opposition lawmakers and two from Pérez Molina’s coalition.It was formed after the Supreme Court gave the green light to prosecutors’ request for impeachment proceedings.The committee has 60 days to make a recommendation to the full chamber on revoking his immunity, which would require the backing of at least 105 of the 148 lawmakers.A similar vote failed earlier this month — but that was before Pérez Molina had been formally accused of involvement in the corruption.Even McDonald’s joins in Related posts:In Guatemala, Pérez Molina claims US conspiracy behind corruption prosecution In Guatemala, anti-establishment presidential candidate benefits from corruption scandals Guatemalan legislative commission recommends lifting President Pérez Molina’s immunity Guatemala top prosecutor Thelma Aldana speaks out against corruption and impunitycenter_img McDonald’s apoya a Guatemala y cierra sus restaurantes el día de hoy.— McDonald’s Guatemala (@McGuate) August 27, 2015last_img read more

Traffic Police launches surveillance operation for midyear school vacations

first_imgThousands of Costa Rican students begin their mid-year break this weekend, and for that reason the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) and the Traffic Police will suspend the vehicle restriction for the next two weeks.Between July 3 – 14, motorists will not have to comply with the restriction that prohibits vehicles from entering downtown San José on one weekday, according to the last digit of their license plate number.Many workers take time off from work to enjoy with their families during these days, so vehicle traffic in Costa Rica’s capital decreases significantly. The vehicle restriction will restart on Monday, July 17.Road surveillanceTraffic Police Director Mario Calderón said in a news release that the measure will allow Traffic Police officers who regularly monitor the capital roads to be assigned to highways that lead to popular tourist destinations outside the Central Valley.Calderón said the police will maintain roadway checkpoints throughout the country for surveillance efforts. Officers will be using radars to detect speeding drivers, currently the leading cause of death on Costa Rican roads.According to official records, a total of 61 people died in accidents related to speeding between Jan 1 and May 31. Officers in the same period fined 106 motorists for exceeding the speed of 120 kilometers per hour, Calderón said.Police will also be conducting random breath tests on drivers for drugs and alcohol. “Cases of driving under the influence usually spike during the holidays,” he said.According to MOPT’s Traffic Department, 13 people died in accidents related to driving under the influence during the first five months of this year. A total of 934 motorists faced a Traffic Court for drinking and driving.Furthermore, 99 drivers were fined ₡306,850 ($530) and lost all the points on their driving permits for various Traffic Law violations. That means they must attend driving school in order to renew their permits.The Traffic Police recorded 3,365 accidents during mid-year vacations in 2016. Twelve people died at the site, another 547 were injured and officers issued a total of 10,491 tickets. Facebook Comments Related posts:First showers of the rainy season cause spike in traffic jams, accidents President Solís demands explanation for spike in traffic jams Pedestrian fatalities in Costa Rica currently outnumber drunk driving deaths No vehicle restriction in San José during Easter Holy Weeklast_img read more

Costa Rica launches Pride Connection network

first_imgVIDEO: Will Costa Rica recognize this same-sex marriage? Among the speakers who addressed the importance of Pride Connection, especially the launching of its online platform, were Sergio Montealegre, program development manager from NGO Hivos; Marianela Núñez, associate dean of academic affairs at ULACIT; Trey Pettibone, Director of Procter & Gamble in Costa Rica; and former Costa Rican Vice President Ana Helena Chacón. Sergio Montealegre, Program Development Manager at NGO Hivos. Courtesy of TactikThe event also featured panel discussion with activists Nathan Romero, Michelle Jones, Manuel Abarca, Keyra Martínez, and Emma Chacón. Inter-American Court endorses same-sex marriage; Costa Rica reacts Facebook Commentscenter_img As Costa Ricacontinues to grapple with the disagreements about marriage equality and gender identity that dominated the second round of its recent presidential campaign, a new initiative seeks to ensure that human rights are protected.Pride Connection is an alliance between the public and private sectors to provide people with online training regarding the LGBTQ population and the topics that affect it. The platform also seeks to promote strategies for LGBTQ rights advocacy.The initiative’s official launch took place on May 17, the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, with representatives from public and private entities alongside activists. The group gathered at the Gold Museum in downtown San José. Former vice president Ana Helena Chacón. Courtesy of TactikThe activity was organized by the Entrepreneurial Alliance for Development (AED), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Embassies of the Netherlands and of Canada, the National Training Institute (INA), Costa Rica’s Civil Service, the NGO Hivos, Procter & Gamble and the Latin American University for Science and Technology (ULACIT). Related posts:Gay wedding planned in Costa Rica following court ruling for marriage equality Gay marriage postponed in Costa Rica due to legal impediment VIDEO: Will Costa Rica recognize this same-sex marriage? Inside Costa Rica’s Pridelast_img read more

How to Drivers licenses in Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Moving your family to Costa Rica? Here’s the first question to ask Tico Times Shade: COSEVI is ‘Frustra Vida,’ not ‘Pura Vida’ Judicial police arrest 70 suspects in alleged driver’s license fraud scheme Foreigners can pay for driver’s license directly at Roadway Safety Council offices Here at The Tico Times, we regularly see the amazing natural beauty that brings millions of tourists (and many new residents) to Costa Rica each year. We also have experience with some of the less publicized aspects of living here: the laws, the social intricacies and the cultural norms beyond learning to say, “Pura Vida, mae.” I recently struggled through the homologation of my foreign driver’s license. After two unsuccessful trips to the Roadway Safety Council, COSEVI, I am proud to legally be able to drive here. Here’s how to handle driver’s license-related processes in Costa Rica. Driving as a tourist in Costa Rica In general, tourists can stay in Costa Rica for 90 days after their arrival. If you have a valid driver’s license issued from your home country, then congratulations! You can drive in Costa Rica for the duration of your stay. Since the legality of your foreign license is dependent on you remaining in Costa Rica for fewer than three months, we recommend driving with your passport or at least a copy — including both the photo page and the page with your entry stamp into the country — just in case you’re pulled over. Homologating a foreign driver’s license in Costa RicaSo you’ve chosen to apply for residency, or through some other capacity are staying in Costa Rica beyond the 90-day tourist allotment. Congratulations! If you plan on driving in here after the first three months, though, you’ll have to homologate your driver’s license. This process allows you to receive a Costa Rican driver’s license — of the same class and expiration date of your foreign one — without having to take another driving test. This is done at COSEVI offices (locations listed here) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 7-11 a.m. I recommend arriving early — get there right at 7, or before if possible — and make sure you bring all the required documentation.Here is what you’ll need to have: Your foreign driver’s license. It must be unexpired and in good physical condition. Also bring two photocopies of the front and back of it. Your cédula or residency card, which must be in good standing. Also bring two photocopies of the front and back. Your passport, which must demonstrate you’ve remained in Costa Rica for at least three months and one day. Bring two photocopies of your passport (including the photo page and the page with your entry stamp).* Results of your medical exam, or dictamen medico. This can be completed in the 180 days prior to your trip to COSEVI in clinics across the country, many of which are concentrated around COSEVI offices. A translation of the foreign license, if it is in a language other than Spanish (yes, even English). The translation must be from an official translator. Click here for a list. Original marriage certificate (and two copies) if the surname(s) on the license differs from your legal name. *If there are too many stamps in your passport or they can’t find your last entry stamp, you’ll need an official list of entries and exits from the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería. The service is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.After beginning the homologation process, a COSEVI employee will instruct you where in the complex to pay the 5,000-colon (about $8.50) fee for the service. Read the full list of requirements here. And remember to arrive early! Renewing a Costa Rican driver’s license There is more flexibility (and less waiting in line) when renewing a Costa Rican driver’s license. In the three months before your license is set to expire, you can renew it at a COSEVI office. Several Banco de Costa Rica locations offer this service, too, for a small additional fee; however, foreign residents cannot use the BCR service and must renew their licenses thorugh COSEVI.According to COSEVI, you need to bring: Proof of payment for the renewal. The fee is based on your driving record; you’ll get half off the regular 10,000-colon (about $17) cost for having fewer than four points and no infractions. All major Costa Rican banks should be able to complete the payment.Results of your medical exam, or dictamen medico. These can be completed in the 180 days prior to renewing your license in clinics across the country, many of which are concentrated around COSEVI offices.Your cédula or residency card, unexpired and in good physical condition. You should also bring the license that is due to expire. Read the full requirements on COSEVI’s website here. Did we miss anything? Is there something else about Costa Rica about which you’d like to learn more? Let us know in the comments! Thanks for reading The Tico Times. We strive to keep you up to date about everything that’s been happening in Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we need your help. The Tico Times is partly funded by you and every little bit helps. If all our readers chipped in a buck a month we’d be set for years. Support the Tico Times Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Taliban say they have infiltrated Afghan forces

first_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The vital role family plays in society Omar said Afghan security forces were assisting Taliban fighters who infiltrate their ranks, kill foreign troops and then carry their government-issued weapons back to insurgent camps.“They are able to (safely) enter bases, offices and intelligence centers of the enemy,” he said. “Then, they easily carry out decisive and coordinated attacks, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy.”Attacks where Afghan soldiers or policemen, or militants wearing Afghan uniforms kill their foreign partners is on the rise, but the coalition claims only 10 percent of the attacks can be linked to infiltrators.So far this year, 34 foreign troops have been killed in 27 attacks, according to The Associated Press. Last year, 20 international soldiers were killed in 11 such attacks.White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Thursday that such attacks were deeply concerning. He said the U.S.-led coalition was continually assessing and refining procedures to ensure the safety of NATO troops.“It is important to remember first of all that our relationship with our Afghan partners is strong and that every day our forces fight alongside Afghan forces,” Carney said, adding that international forces partner with about 350,000 Afghan forces on 90 percent of operations. The Taliban leader’s message came on the same day that a U.S. military helicopter crashed during a firefight with insurgents in a remote area of southern Afghanistan, killing seven Americans and four Afghans in one of the deadliest air disasters of a war now into its second decade.The Taliban claimed they gunned down the Black Hawk. Omar did not refer to Thursday’s crash in his message.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories Associated PressKABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The Taliban’s reclusive leader said Thursday that his fighters have infiltrated the Afghan police and army and were successfully killing a rising number of U.S.-led coalition forces.Mullah Mohammad Omar, the one-eyed chief of the Afghan insurgency, emailed his eight-page message to news organizations ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectcenter_img Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix The Taliban leader urged Afghan government workers to also switch sides and join the Taliban.The Taliban have set up a new department named “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration,” to help those who leave the government and join the insurgency, he said. It’s a response to the Afghan government’s reintegration program to lure Taliban foot soldiers off the battlefield, help them set up a new life back in their communities and provide development assistance to their villages.The Taliban leader also called on his fighters to protect the life and property of the Afghan people.The U.N. says more than three-fourths of the 1,145 civilian deaths in the first six months of this year were blamed on insurgents.“I urge you emphatically to be careful about the civilian losses and take this on yourselves as an explicit responsibility,” Omar told his followers.On other topics, he said the gradual plan under way to transfer security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014 is a “deceiving drama” that the international community has orchestrated to hide its defeat.That is in contrast to coalition claims that Afghan security forces are increasingly able to lead operations and already have started to assume responsibility for security in areas of the country that are home to 75 percent of the Afghan population. Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Comments   Share   last_img read more

School helps traumatized Syrian kids heal

first_img Sponsored Stories The school is part of a drive to improve conditions at Zaatari, where rioting has broken out several times as refugees complain of lack of lighting and water and the stifling dust at the camp set on a parched, treeless strip of land.“We’re in a race against time to get things done before winter,” said Andrew Harper of the U.N. agency for refugees. Communal kitchens are being built, refugees’ tents and two school tents will be winterized with heaters and insulation, and a drainage system is being installed to deal with winter rains.In Zaatari, UNICEF is working with British-based Save the Children and the International Medical Corps to provide counseling for the camp’s traumatized children.For Ahlam, a 10-year-old from the central Syrian town of Homs, school is a welcome respite from the death and destruction, but she just wishes the nightmare back home would end.“They attacked us and they started to kill us. That is why we ran away,” said the tiny girl, with honey-colored curls. “Sometimes, I have nightmares of people attacking me. I hope everything in Syria would just go away.”Outside the school’s gate, seventh-grader Saud from Daraa could barely wait for his and the other boys shift to start. He said his family fled to Jordan because his brother was wanted by the security forces. “It’s where we will be able to notice some of the psycho-social consequences of all of the challenges that they’ve lived through. Many crossed the border with almost nothing on their backs. Families are distraught; the parents do not know what the future holds,” she said.At a girls class, 13-year-old Rasha, from the central city of Homs, said she suffers from constant nightmares.“I keep seeing my uncles shot and bleeding from everywhere,” the young girl said, as her face turned ashen. “My mother tells me a story to try to help me sleep, but it’s not working.”Another girl, Raghad, said her house was destroyed in Daraa, the southern Syrian town where the uprising began in March 2011. “It’s much better here than in Syria. At least I can study again in school. But it’s hard for me to sleep at night because I often feel pain,” the 11-year-old said, as she wiped a tear from her eye.So far, the school consists of 14 large green and yellow-striped cloth tents, each hosting two classrooms of 40 pupils each, covering grades 1-12. Inside are plastic chairs and tables, blackboards, pencils and paper. Girls attend classes in the morning, boys in the afternoon because there is not enough room. Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix “Bashar shelled us and my cousin died. I want Assad to go away, so I can go back to Syria,” said Safa, a 13-year-old who was among 2,300 children who were able to resume their studies in this tent city near Jordan’s border with Syria.“They started this school to try to help us forget what has been happening, but that’s hard. Still, I’m happier now that I can study again,” said the petite girl in a black headscarf at the beginning of her Arabic grammar class.The start of school in the Zaatari refugee camp is a step in international efforts to help Jordan deal with what has become an overwhelming wave of refugees from the Syria conflict. More than 200,000 Syrians who fled the civil war are now in Jordan, their numbers growing daily, according to the U.N. refugee agency.Zaatari is home to 33,000 of the refugees, and it has become known as the “children’s camp” because nearly half its residents are under the age of 18.The U.N. children’s agency hopes classes and the routine they provide will bring some stability back to the children’s lives.“School is the first step to bring children to a place of healing,” said Dominique Hyde of UNICEF, which along with Jordan’s Ministry of Education, opened the school at the camp last week. Comments   Share   Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daycenter_img Associated PressZAATARI, Jordan (AP) – For many Syrian children traumatized and driven from their homes by their country’s civil war, the opportunity to head back to school _ even if it’s in a dusty, wind-swept refugee camp _ is a chance to return to a semblance of normalcy.The children have a lot to try to overcome. Many have had relatives killed. They have seen their neighborhoods destroyed by bombings as the regime of President Bashar Assad battles rebels who have been trying for 19 months to topple him. They have endured as they and their families fled across the border into an unknown future in Jordan. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Currently, 2,300 children are enrolled, just over half those who have registered to enter classes. But the camp’s population _ and the number of children _ constantly swells. An average 200 Syrians arrive daily, and that number can surge at any time as violence spikes inside Syria. During only two days in August, 5,000 flowed in.A school for 5,000 students, funded by the Bahraini government, is due to be completed by the end of the month, said Hyde, UNICEF’s representative to Jordan, and the organization has appealed for funds to take in more.The help is also needed outside the camp, with more than 160,000 refugees living in various Jordanian communities. About 18,000 of their children began classes last month in Jordanian government-run schools, which are getting international aid to absorb the influx. At least 200,000 Syrian children displaced inside their country are having difficulty accessing education, Hyde said. Tens of thousands more Syrians have fled to Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon.The refugee issue has raised worries that Jordan could be dragged into Syria’s conflict. On Wednesday, the U.S. said it had stationed more than 100 military personnel in Jordan to help in the crisis, including helping it absorb the refugees. The team _ which is the closest American military presence to Syria’s civil war _ has been providing medical kits, water tanks and other humanitarian supplies to Jordan, as well as training to its border troops on dealing with refugees. “Usually the regime takes those on its wanted list and slaughters them in front of their family,” he said. “That’s why we escaped here.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Four benefits of having a wireless security system 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

Amid drug war Mexico fights wave of common crime

first_img Comments   Share   “You can’t even go out at night here,” homemaker Yolanda Villa said, poking her head out the door of her home around the corner. “They beat you, kidnap you, rob you,” her 9-year-old son Luis said, finishing her sentence.In cities and towns across Mexico, a nearly six-year offensive against drug cartels has been accompanied by a surge in common crime: assaults and robberies that grab no headlines but make life miserable for ordinary citizens.Some experts blame the drug war for distracting law-enforcement from pursuing common criminals. Others say drug cartels have turned to common crime as a way to fund their clashes with each other, and with troops and federal police.Some of the first effects were felt in Morelia, the once-sleepy capital of Michoacan state, where Mexico launched its war on drugs.The clashes in Michoacan began when local traffickers who had worked with the Gulf cartel became disenchanted with the tactics of that cartel’s brutal enforcement wing, the Zetas, and formed their own gang with the avowed intention of keeping the Zetas out. The state’s Pacific coastline and rugged, green countryside are ideal for clandestine operations such as methamphetamine labs. A war erupted between the new group, which called itself La Familia Michoacana, and the Zetas, military defectors known for exploiting areas they control through extortion, kidnapping, drug trafficking and other crimes.Less than two weeks after taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon ordered thousands of troops to Michoacan, his home state, with orders to quash the violence.Hundreds were killed across the state in battles between traffickers and in government actions. In September 2006, gunmen threw five severed heads onto the dance floor of a bar in the city of Uruapan, a crime so ghastly it made international news.Meanwhile, common crime began to increase, with reported robberies rising 35 percent between 2006 and 2011 in the jurisdiction that includes Morelia, an international tourist attraction once best known for its Spanish-language schools, lush green parks and immaculately preserved 16th-century architecture. Robberies appear to be on track to rise again this year.Nearly six years later, the military remains in Michoacan. Its operations have helped splinter La Familia into two dueling groups that themselves are fighting with at least two other cartels, including the Zetas, along the edges of Michoacan. Soldiers and federal officers still clash almost daily with heavily armed cartel gunmen. Kidnappings are frequent, and discoveries of dismembered, beheaded bodies are a regular occurrence throughout much of the state. Homicides rose 68 percent in the state between 2006 and 2011. They rose 35 percent nationwide.As for the street crime, state officials say they are making progress in Morelia through purges of corrupt and incompetent police officers and better management of the remaining police, and they say some crimes, including several types of robbery and assault, are decreasing. But Morelia residents say they don’t feel safer.Joe Maria Cazares Solorzano, president of the Morelia-based state commission on human rights, said people in the region have learned to expect the unexpected.“Ten, 12 years ago, you never heard a siren, and never heard a helicopter. The police never flew over the city,” Solorzano said. “Now it’s a cause of constant anxiety, hearing ambulances, sirens, police and army helicopters flying over the city. So much has changed in terms of security, and it’s very sad.”A similar wave of common crime has hit other Mexican cities. Federal statistics show the overall number of robberies outpaced population growth, rising more than 6 percent in the first eight months of this year, to 5,915 for a city with a population of more than 730,000 people.Carlos Arrieta, a spokesman for state prosecutors, said he could not speak in detail about the causes of crimes that occurred before the current administration took office. But he attributed much of the rise to the increasing population of Morelia, which has expanded by roughly 100,000 people over the last decade.“Morelia has grown exponentially,” said Arrieta. “It’s like when you plant a lot of trees in an orchard, you’re going to have more avocados, rotten and ripe ones. It’s exactly the same.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Associated PressMORELIA, Mexico (AP) – On a cool September evening, about a half hour after the sun set on the rose-colored Baroque cathedral of this colonial city in western Mexico, three men burst into a Coca-Cola distribution center on the edge of town.The robbers pistol-whipped three security guards, grabbed thousands of pesos in cash and fled into a poor neighborhood of crumbling brick houses. Sirens screaming, state police arrived to find the white Nissan Sentra they believe was the getaway car being engulfed in flames. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona On March 5, 10 blocks from the manicured lawns of Morelia’s idyllic central square, two armed men held up a Bancomer bank branch, shooting a woman in the shoulder and getting away with 123,000 pesos in cash, about $13,600. Over the next seven months, Morelia was hit by an average of one bank robbery a month, including two on a single day in August. In 2006, Morelia had just five bank robberies all year.“The authorities are focused on something else, therefore the likelihood of anyone being detained goes down,” said Alejandro Hope, a former high-ranking official in Mexico’s domestic intelligence agency. “This is the type of crime that affects the man on the street. Most of the fears and concerns of common people have to do with this.”Inspector Osvaldo Torres, a state police official whose jurisdiction includes Morelia, said he believes most street crime has no connection to the drug cartels.“It’s more ordinary people who do this kind of thing,” he said. “In fact, here organized crime doesn’t get involved in this sort of thing.”Torres said he has seen a drop in street crime over the last eight months, partly because officers are responding more quickly to crime now that their work shifts has been reduced from 24 to 12 hours and they are less tired on the job. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Nationwide, robberies increased 45 percent between 2005 and the start of 2012, with the number of bank robberies almost quadrupling, from 200 to 768.Mexicali, on the California border, saw a 70 percent surge in robberies between 2006 and 2011, although the figures seem to be falling slightly this year. The Pacific coast resort city of Acapulco, hit by a vicious struggle among small local drug gangs, saw robberies rise by around 400 percent. The northern city of Chihuahua saw a nearly 30 percent rise.For decades, drug cartels controlled swaths of territory largely uncontested, letting them focus on moving massive amounts of narcotics north through Mexico, striking deals with corrupt officials with the least possible disruption to both sides. With the government’s assault on the cartels, many have splintered, lost control of territory and gone to war against each other and against authorities.Edgardo Buscaglia, a senior scholar at Columbia University who studies organized crime in Latin America, said the cartels have turned to other illegal businesses to make money.“They need franchises, youth gangs working for them,” said Buscaglia. “You have an unemployed army of youth and franchises that are serving all these organized crime groups. That creates a huge tsunami of ordinary crime.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

US hiring jumps in May as businesses get bullish on economy

first_img Top Stories Sponsored Stories Stock investors are processing what the job growth means for the economy and the policies of the Federal Reserve, which is expected to raise rates from record lows at some point later this year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was largely flat in morning trading.Over the past three months, employers have added an average of 207,000 jobs. That’s a decent gain, though lower than last year’s average of 263,667.Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell after the jobs report was issued, raising its yield to 2.42 percent from 2.35 percent just before the figures were announced. U.S. stock futures held steady.Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has said she expects the Fed to raise rates this year if the economy continues to improve, thereby ending nearly seven years of record-low rates.On Thursday, though, the International Monetary Fund suggested that the Fed should hold off on raising rates until 2016. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, saying a rate increase could disrupt the economy, urged the Fed to await signs of healthy wage growth.“This evident strength in the labor market probably isn’t enough to persuade the Fed to hike rates in July, but it leaves a September liftoff looking more likely than ever,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. “Only 24 hours later, the IMF’s suggestion that the Fed should wait until 2016 looks very dated.” New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The steady hiring should help drive the economy through the rest of the year, overcoming the drags caused by a stronger dollar hurting exports and cheaper oil slashing into revenues for the energy industry.“We’ve restored income for well over 3 million people over the past 12 months, and that’s adding a lot of spending power to the economy,” said Carl Tannenbaum, an economist at Northern Trust.Construction, health care and hospitality companies drove the May job growth. On the negative side, persistently cheaper oil led energy companies to shed workers for a fifth straight month.Average hourly wages rose 2.3 percent from a year earlier, showing some pick-up. Pay is barely rising above inflation, a persistent trend that has limited the economy’s growth. But the average hourly wage is now approaching $25, a level that appears to be bringing unemployed workers hurt by the 2008 financial crisis and sluggish recovery back into the job market.The percentage of people with jobs or searching for work increased to 62.9 percent in May, up a tenth of a percentage point.“Even the modest gains are pulling in some of the people on the sidelines,” said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s Analytics. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Nor has cheaper gasoline delivered much help. Instead of sparking the wave of consumer spending that many economists had expected, a nearly 45 percent drop in oil prices since July has damaged a U.S. economy increasingly reliant on energy drilling. The energy industry has let go of workers and cut orders for pipelines and equipment.The mining sector, which includes oil and gas, trimmed 17,200 workers from their payrolls last month.Falling unemployment usually leads to fewer people seeking work, forcing employers to boost wages. But plenty of people are still searching for jobs. The aftermath of the recession has left 8.5 million people unemployed and seeking work, about 1.3 million more than were jobless before the downturn began in late 2007.Companies often increase pay when their workers become more productive. Yet productivity fell at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter — a sharper drop than the decline estimated a month ago, the government said Thursday.___AP Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber contributed to this report.___Follow Josh Boak at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Though employers continue to hire freely, consumers — the main engine of the U.S. economy — remain fairly cautious. Still, Friday’s solid jobs report confirms the economy’s vitality.The 3 million new paychecks added over the past year have helped raise spending on housing and autos. Sales of newly built homes have surged 23.7 percent through the first four months of 2015 compared with a year ago, government data show. Rising demand for new homes led construction firms to hire 17,000 workers in May.Americans bought 1.64 million vehicles in May, the most since July 2005. Manufacturers added 7,000 jobs last month, primarily in the auto sector.Retailers added 31,400 employees, health care companies 57,700. The leisure and hospitality industry, which includes restaurants, added 57,000.The weekly number of people applying for unemployment benefits — a proxy for layoffs — has remained under a historically low 300,000 for more than four months. By holding on to nearly all their workers, businesses are ensuring that they will have the capacity to respond to greater customer demand.But the economy faces other challenges. The dollar has appreciated about 19 percent in the past year against other major currencies. That trend has made U.S. goods costlier overseas, thereby squeezing exports and the U.S.-based branches of foreign companies. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added a robust 280,000 jobs in May, showing that the economy has regained momentum after starting 2015 in a deep slump.The unemployment rate ticked up to 5.5 percent from 5.4 percent in April, the government said Friday. But that occurred for a good reason: Hundreds of thousands more people began seeking jobs in May. Not all of them found work and so were counted as unemployed.Last month’s strong job growth reflects a vote of confidence by employers, a sign that they foresee a broader rebound for the U.S. economy after it shrank during the first three months of the year. The government also revised up its estimate of job growth during March and April by a combined net 32,000. Four benefits of having a wireless security system Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more