Frustrated with ACV call centre wait times Dramatic changes are coming

first_imgFrustrated with ACV call centre wait times? “Dramatic changes” are coming MONTREAL — Air Canada Vacations is promising big changes in terms of call centre wait times after hearing from travel agents frustrated and fed up with long hold times for call centre bookings.“Give us until Q1 2017. That is when you are going to see dramatic changes in terms of wait times and servicing,” said George Platanitis, Vice President, Sales and Partnerships, Air Canada Vacations.Platanitis was part of ACV’s first in-person Travel Advisory Board meeting at its Montreal headquarters. More than 20 members from across the country, representing chains, consortia and independent agencies, were on hand to provide ACV with feedback on the operations affecting travel agents’ business today.ACV says it wants to educate the industry on the self-help tools available to agents, with an eye to streamlining the booking process and alleviating hold times on reservation lines.Following that recommendation, ACV vowed to implement the following strategy: provide agents with frequent updates via press releases, LinkedIn and Facebook posts, ACV TIP emails and ACV&ME communication on the self-help tools available and the updates that have been made to ACV’s operations. ACV says it will also provide agents with training webinars that include tips on how to navigate its website and booking platforms.More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA Sales“We have been anticipating this feedback,” said Platanitis, adding that ACV has committed to fixing the problem “and we are here to acknowledge your concerns. We know you want to book with us. We appreciate that and we want to make it easier for you.”Several recommendations from the meeting are now under review, including: extending all res/customer care hours; extending Group hours of operation; and put together a 1-pager for agents on what they can and can’t do through booking engines.In December ACV sent out a list of time-saving tools available to agents to complete and modify client bookings.Agents booking with Air Canada Vacations are can reserve seat selection online through all distribution channels including ACV’s travel agent website, SIREV, Amadeus, Sabre Vacations and Galileo Vacations, instead of calling ACV’s reservations department.ACV said agents can also quote and book their own groups to Sun destinations online or via GDS. Once they have shopped and booked their group package, agents can follow the online steps to book multiple PNRs; each PNR can hold a maximum of six passengers.More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesOnce this process is completed, agents will be able to obtain availability and the price of the group booking, then mail ACV Groups’ department the PNR numbers at groupbooking@vacv.com. Group modifications, including name changes, or requests for other options, should also be sent to this email address, says ACV.Agents looking for training on ACV’s time-saving tools are asked to contact their ACV area sales manager.Also new, ACV’s B2B res line for Sun, Europe, North America and cruise product is now open on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, January 12, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted bycenter_img Tags: Air Canada Vacations Share Travelweek Group last_img read more

Is nudetotable the new farmtotable Paris opens its first naked restaurant

first_img Share PARIS — A nude restaurant has opened its doors in Paris, giving new meaning to the term Strip Loin.According to The Mirror, O’naturel is open for dinner only and reservations are required. To prevent unwanted advances, diners are warned ahead of time that the restaurant is not meant to be a meat market – owners Mike and Stephane Saada want it to be known as a restaurant and a restaurant only.Upon arrival, guests are asked to shed their clothes and are provided with slippers. Ladies, who make up 40% of the clientele, have the option to keep their high heels on.Click here to see more photosAnd if you’re worried about curious passersby, a large curtain is draped over windows to ensure complete privacy.Shockingly, O’naturel is not the first naked restaurant in the world. Bunyadi opened its doors in central London in 2016, and earlier this year, another in-the-buff eatery made its debut in Tenerife.More news:  Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portalAre three restaurants enough to label nude dining as a new trend? Just in case one comes to our hometown, we’ll be doing our sit-ups and lunges in the meantime.Bon appétit! Tags: Paris Posted by Friday, December 8, 2017 center_img Is nude-to-table the new farm-to-table? Paris opens its first naked restaurant Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Canada expected to welcome over 9 million tourists in 2018

first_imgCanada expected to welcome over 9 million tourists in 2018 Posted by Share Tuesday, July 10, 2018 OTTAWA — After a year of solid growth in 2017, Canada is expected to see further increase in overseas visits by as much as 6.7% in 2018.This would put the total number of overseas visitors at over 9 million this year, said The Conference Board of Canada, which recently released its latest Travel Markets Outlook report.“Overseas visits to Canada are expected to increase from all continents, with the highest growth coming from Mexico and China,” said Greg Hermus, Associate Director for The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Tourism Research Institute.Travel from China is expected to get a boost from the Canada-China Year of Tourism, while Mexican tourists will continue to benefit from the lifting of visa requirements for travellers from Mexico, which was implemented in December 2016.Overnight visits from the U.S. will be down slightly due to high gas prices, but are still projected to increase by 3.4%.In all, tourism activity in Canada is set to increase by 2.6% in 2018.Here are regional highlights from 10 Canadian cities covered in the ‘Travel Markets Outlook: Metropolitan Focus’ report:Vancouver: Over 8 million tourists are expected to visit Vancouver this year. The city will host a number of high-profile sporting and cultural events, while convention activity is expected to reach an all-time high in 2018.Edmonton: Overnight visits to Edmonton are forecast to increase by 2.9%, boosted by attractions like the new Royal Alberta Museum and a recovering provincial economy.Calgary: Travel to Calgary will get a lift from sporting events like the FINA Diving Grand Prix, as well as from higher oil prices and a recovering provincial economy. Close to 3.9 million tourists are projected to visit this year.Winnipeg: The city will get added media exposure thanks to the Jets’ Stanley Cup playoff run, not to mention the Canadian Ringette Championship later this year. Overnight visits are forecast to increase 3.0% in 2018.Catharines-Niagara: Despite high gas prices, the opening of new attractions and hosting of sporting events will help increase overnight visits by 2.8% this year.Toronto: An estimated 14.8 million tourists are expected to visit Toronto this year, representing an uptick of 3.5% from 2017. This boost is largely attributed to the Raptor’s playoff run, Travel + Leisure’s travel recommendation, as well as new direct flights to the city.Ottawa: Tourism activity in Ottawa is expected to ease this year following phenomenal gains in 2017. However, the volume of visitors will remain high thanks in large part to new facilities and the exposure created by the Canada 150 events last year.Montreal: Overnight visits to Montreal are expected to grow at a more modest pace of 2.3% in 2018. Last year’s coverage of its 375th anniversary as well as new direct flights will continue to attract visitors this year.Quebec City: The city will be top of mind among travellers this year thanks to enhanced tourist infrastructure and events surrounding the 125th anniversary of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. The Charlevoix tourist region, which recently hosted the G7 Summit, will also receive a boost. Overall, overnight visits are expected to expand by 2.8% in 2018.Halifax: Close to 2 million tourists are expected to visit in 2018, an increase of 3.2% from last year. The city was recently featured on TripAdvisor’s list of Top 10 Tourist Destinations on the Rise, which is expected to raise Halifax’s profile around the world.More news:  Honolulu authorities investigate arsons at 3 Waikiki hotels; no injuries reported center_img Tags: Canada, Statistics, tourism << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group last_img read more

Book Karisma and get 2X STAR points with Sunwing

first_img TORONTO — Sunwing is offering agents 2X STAR points and a chance to win a vacation with a new month-long promotion featuring Karisma Hotels & Resorts.With this new promotion, running through Feb. 28, agents can earn 2X STAR Agent Reward Points that convert into cash on all new bookings to Karisma properties, for departures until Oct. 31.  On top of their earnings, each time an agent makes a booking to a participating resort, they’ll be entered into a weekly contest for a chance to win an all-inclusive vacation for two to a Karisma resort included in this promotion. The more bookings agents make, the more chances they have to win.Included in the campaign is a wide selection of top-rated resorts including family-friendly properties – Sensatori Azul Beach Resort Jamaica, Sensatori Resort Punta Cana, Azul Beach Resort Riviera Maya, Generations Riviera Maya, Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts Punta Cana and Sensatori Azul Beach Resort Riviera Cancun, which will be renamed to Azul Beach Resort Riviera Cancun on May 1. Adults-only properties included in the promotion are El Dorado Casitas Royale, El Dorado Maroma, El Dorado Royale, El Dorado Seaside Suites, Hidden Beach Au Natural Resort and the Palafitos Overwater Bungalows.In addition to incentives for agents, travellers can also benefit from savings of up to 40% when they book a Karisma Hotels & Resorts vacation package with their agent throughout the month of February. Customers will also receive resort credits totalling $500 that are redeemable for wine, massages, a romantic dinner and a room upgrade when they choose to stay at select Karisma resorts. Several Karisma properties also offer group rates where the eighth adult travels free for every seven adults booked. This offer is also combinable with Karisma’s Double Canada Cash, Cash for Your Bash and Your Stay Your Way promotions. Posted by Share Monday, February 4, 2019 Travelweek Group center_img Book Karisma and get 2X STAR points with Sunwing Tags: Agent Incentives, Karisma Hotels & Resorts, Sunwing << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

IPW 2019 highlights the need to reauthorize Brand USA

first_img Posted by IPW 2019 highlights the need to reauthorize Brand USA Share ANAHEIM — More than 6,000 attendees from over 70 countries gathered in Anaheim, CA, June 1-5 for this year’s IPW, the travel industry’s premier international marketplace for the U.S and the country’s largest generator of travel.IPW gathers travel professionals – including U.S. destinations, hotels, attractions, sports teams and transportation companies, and international tour operators, buyers and wholesalers from around the world –in one place to help bring the world to America.At this year’s IPW, there were 110,000 prescheduled business appointments between suppliers and buyers, which is estimated to result in $5.5 billion in future international travel to the U.S. over the next three years. This has been revised upward from the $4.7 billion that was estimated in past years.But despite this, “there’s still work to do,” said Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO.“When we met last year, I told you that the U.S. is losing international travel market share. Unfortunately, that is still the case. Just this past Friday, the U.S. Department of Commerce put out figures showing that international travel to the U.S. grew 3.5% last year,” he said. “That might sound pretty good, but not when you consider that globally, long-haul travel grew by 7%. What that means is that the U.S. is still falling behind in the competition to attract international visitors. That’s the bad news. And it means we have work to do.” More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesOn how President Trump and the current administration has impacted tourism, Dow added: “I know a lot of people want to lay this at the feet of our president. But we’ve come a long way helping the administration appreciate travel as a crucial U.S. export and job creator. We certainly don’t think the president says often enough that he wants healthy numbers of visitors to come to the U.S. But there is an opening to talk to this administration about policies that help with visitation. And we have done just that.”In 2018, international visitors to the U.S. spent US$256 billion for the economy and generated a $69 billion trade surplus. Without the travel industry, America’s overall trade deficit would have been 11% higher. The U.S. enjoys a travel trade surplus with nine of its top 10 trading partners. “America’s share of the global travel market dropped from 13.7% in 2015 to just 11.7% in 2018. This is why we need Brand USA reauthorized this year,” continues Dow. Brand USA is the destination marketing organization for the United States, established in 2009 by the Travel Promotion ACT of 2009 under the Obama administration. It is the nation’s first public-private partnership created to spearhead a global market effort to promote the U.S. as a travel destination. Brand USA boasts of successes such as welcoming an incremental 7 million visitors over the past six years and establishing marketing campaigns in 40 different international markets. Efforts even include two big screen cinematic efforts, National Parks Adventure and America’s Musical Journey, to inspire travellers. More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”Despite these successes, the fate of Brand USA is uncertain. The marketing organization is up for reauthorization by the U.S. Congress, set to expire in 2020. Dow has made reauthorizing Brand USA a top priority for the U.S. Travel Association, saying, “This program is more crucial then ever. And throughout history, Republicans and Democrats alike have recognized the importance of Brand USA.”A letter to Congress was signed by more than 580 organizations in support of Brand USA’s renewal and it’s a hot topic at IPW in Anaheim. The widespread sentiment is that it will likely be reauthorized due to its successes and industry-wide support. Canada now has its very own Brand USA market representative, Colin Skerritt, who’s one month into his new role as regional director. Based in Toronto, Skerritt will focus on promoting U.S. travel destinations to Canadian travellers and will oversee travel trade outreach, consumer marketing, consumer public relations, and partner marketing.Skerritt’s 15+ years of industry experience includes a two-year stint as Director of Tourism in Canada for the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) from 2016 – 2018, plus sales and marketing roles at Air Canada and Virgin Atlantic Airways. Tags: Brand USA, IPWcenter_img Travelweek Group Wednesday, June 5, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Guanacaste is top choice for Tico vacationers

first_imgThe northwestern province of Guanacaste continues to be the top choice for vacation destinations for Costa Rican tourists, based on a survey by the National Tourism Chamber (Canatur) of 104 hotels across the country.During mid-year vacations, which ended over the weekend, Guanacaste hotels registered the country’s highest occupancy rates for domestic tourism. Southern Guanacaste hotels reported an estimated 78 percent occupancy, and hotels in the north of the province reported 62 percent occupancy rates.The northern Caribbean region registered the lowest numbers for domestic tourism over the break, booking only 14 percent of Costa Rican tourists.Ticos continue to show their interest in beach vacations, as these destinations reported the highest activity with 60.3 percent occupation.Domestic tourists also accounted for 44.5 percent of total occupancy in the country, which meets expectations raised by hotel owners for the two weeks of the mid-year break.The survey determined overall occupancy rates during a period from June 29 to July 15. Costa Rica’s total occupancy rates closed with an average of 63.57 percent, the highest in the last three years, according to Canatur figures.Occupation by Region North Guanacaste (South) 33.3% Caribbean (North) 56.0% Puntarenas & Islands 62.0% 61.0% 78.0% Caribbean (South) Region 47.6% Monteverde Source: Poll by CANATUR Facebook Comments 45.8% 27.3% 14.0% Pacific (Central) Central Valley 20.3% Guanacaste (North) Pacific (South) Occupation % No related posts.last_img read more

Costa Rica targets strategic trade deals

first_imgFrom the print editionCosta Rican trade officials, led by Foreign Trade Minister Anabel González, have been busy traversing the world in recent years in search of free trade agreements. Government officials say they are looking for agreements with countries that fulfill certain import needs and provide key export opportunities for Costa Rica. In the past two years, Costa Rica approved a free trade agreement with China and entered into negotiations with the European Union, among others. The Tico Times spoke with Foreign Trade Vice Minister Fernando Ocampo about the purpose of the agreements, and how they benefit Costa Rica’s national markets.Excerpts follow:TT: What is the goal of trying to arrange all these free trade agreements? FO: The idea is to strengthen the platform of free trade agreements that Costa Rica has, and to convert them into an important element for attracting investment. This also is about Costa Rica being able to sell a large quantity of products in the world without paying tariffs. And through these [agreements], we are looking for a market to export our products. Costa Rica proposed many years ago to diversify its export destinations, and these free trade agreements help us quite a bit. They’re very valuable tools for us, not only for increasing exports, but also for expanding the reach of our country’s products. What makes it necessary for Costa Rica to have these free trade agreements?What is apparent for a small country like Costa Rica is that international trade is necessary in order to have the conditions to grow.And by being more connected with the international economy, having more export possibilities and making more possibilities for investment, the more growth we are going to have. How do the agreements affect the Costa Rican market?It seems that free trade agreements create possibilities for different sectors, depending on the country we have the agreement with. There are products that have more opportunities than others. For example, the agreement with the European Union has a huge component in place for selling agricultural exports to Europe. The Canada agreement works best with textiles. Each agreement fosters opportunities, but they are not all the same opportunities. Our interest is that all sectors in the country have a possibility of placing their products abroad. Costa Rica’s Free Trade AgreementsAPPROVEDCAFTA (Dominican Republic – Central America – United States)Costa Rica approved the controversial Central America-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (better known as CAFTA) long after other countries in the region. The agreement barely survived a public referendum on Oct. 7, 2007, and went into effect in late December of the same year. The U.S. is Costa Rica’s biggest trade partner.CanadaCanada and Costa Rica have had a free trade agreement since the turn of the millennium. But the countries began to modernize the pact in November 2011. Costa Rican Foreign Trade Vice Minister Fernando Ocampo told The Tico Times that a modernized agreement should be signed by mid-October.CaricomThe Caribbean Community, or Caricom, is made up of 15 small Caribbean nations including Belize, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Kitts and Nevis. Costa Rica signed the agreement with Caricom in 2004. ChinaCosta Rica and China established diplomatic relations in June 2007. Negotiations on a free trade agreement with the Asian giant began soon after. President Laura Chinchilla signed the agreement into law in June 2011. ChileChile completed a free trade agreement that went into effect in February 2001 with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. PanamaCosta Rica and Panama have long maintained strong bilateral relations. The countries signed a trade agreement on Aug. 7, 2007. Panama is Costa Rica’s third-largest importer. Central AmericaSince 1993, Costa Rica has had a free trade agreement with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.MexicoCosta Rica’s first free trade agreement established outside of the isthmus came with Mexico in 1994. As business and trade grows between the two countries, the respective governments intend to update the terms of the agreement. Dominican RepublicSince 2002, Costa Rica has had an agreement with the island nation of 10 million. IN PROCESSEuropean Free Trade Association (EFTA)The European Free Trade Association is comprised of Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The group is negotiating with Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and Guatemala on a free trade agreement. SingaporeCosta Rica is hoping to take advantage of the Asian island nation’s growing economy by negotiating an agreement with Singapore.ColombiaTalks between the governments of Costa Rica and Colombia on a free trade deal began in June. When the discussions began, Colombian President Juan Manual Santos said, “we hope this agreement will be ready by the end of the year.” The first round of negotiations took place July 30-Aug. 3 in Bogotá. PeruIn May 2011, The Tico Times wrote that Peru and Costa Rica were finalizing a free trade agreement. Foreign Trade Minister Anabel González and members of the Foreign Trade Promotion Office met with Peruvian Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister Eduardo Ferreyros and members of the Peruvian Trade Chamber to complete the details of deal. However, since then, the agreement has lingered in Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly, awaiting approval. Negotiations between the two Latin American nations began in September 2010.European UnionCentral America and the European Union started working on a deal this year to further political dialogue, cooperation and trade. The trade section of the agreement will enter into force by early 2013, after passage by participating countries’ legislators. In 2010, the EU was Central America’s second-largest trading partner after the United States, representing almost 9.4 percent of trade, or $15 billion.South KoreaAfter President Laura Chinchilla traveled to Seoul last month, the two countries agreed to explore a free trade agreement. The result came during talks between Chinchilla and her South Korean counterpart, Lee Myung-bak. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Human rights court condemns El Salvador for El Mozote massacre

first_imgNo related posts. SAN SALVADOR – The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled against the government of El Salvador for the death of more than 1,000 Salvadorans – including 450 children – at the hands of soldiers in 1981, in the worst massacre committed during that country’s civil war from 1980-1992.On Monday, the day before the massacre’s 31st anniversary, the court, based in San José, Costa Rica, announced its ruling in the El Mozote massacre case, unanimously ruling that El Salvador is “responsible for the violation of the right to life and the right to personal integrity and private property.”During the bloody Salvadoran civil war, troops from the disbanded Atlacatl battalion attacked villagers from Dec. 11-13, 1981, killing civilians in seven communities in El Mozote, some 200 kilometers northeast of San Salvador, including women, children and the elderly.The court said the state committed human rights violations, including cold-blooded executions and sexual violence including rape.In 1993, after the war ended, a truth commission established by the United Nations blamed members of the military for the massacre, including some who died during the armed conflict.However, the massacre, which sparked outrage among the international community, was never prosecuted because of a 1993 Amnesty Law. Victims’ families then brought the case before the international human rights court.“The obligation to investigate belongs to the state [of El Salvador], which should hand down an adequate judgment … and sanction everyone responsible for the violations,” the court ruling said.The court also condemned the Salvadoran government for violating the right to private property, because “during the military operation the victims were robbed of their belongings, their homes and crops were burned and their livestock was killed,” the court said.As reparation, the court ordered a comprehensive investigation to be conducted that includes a census of the victims (the exact number of victims is unknown), a guarantee that the Amnesty Law is not an obstacle for the investigation, that necessary exhumations be conducted and remains identified and turned over to victims’ family members.The court ordered compensation to victims and their families, ranging from $10,000-$35,000 to each family and surviving victim, as well as the “implementation of a permanent and obligatory program on human rights directed at the Salvadoran armed forces.”In a symbolic act in January, Mauricio Funes, the first leftist president in El Salvador’s history, apologized to victims’ families for the “abhorrent” violations of human rights committed by government-backed troops.“This is the ruling we’ve been waiting for, because not only does it put an end to 31 years of impunity, but also it reaffirms the memory of the victims of the worst massacre committed by the military against innocent civilians,” said Wilfredo Medrano, legal director of San Salvador’s archbishopric, which supported the victims and their families.Miguel Montenegro, director of the nongovernmental Human Rights Commission, told AFP he hopes the government of El Salvador “assumes responsibility” for implementing the sentence handed down by the court.“This sentence reaffirms the hope for justice that victims’ families have been demanding, and that we defend human rights. We will remain vigilant to ensure [the court’s ruling] is implemented, and if those responsible [for the massacre] are identified, they should ask forgiveness and face the justice system,” he said.With cultural and religious ceremonies, hundreds of Salvadorans in El Mozote on Saturday began a four-day commemoration ceremony to mark the anniversary of the massacre.The Salvadoran civil war pitted the extreme-right government and its military forces against leftist guerrillas in the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, which now governs the country. Some 75,000 were killed during the conflict, which ended with the signing of peace accords in January 1992. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Beat the bugs

first_imgIn Costa Rica, bugs are simply a fact of life. You have to either learn to live with them, or move to a less tropical country.  Fortunately, there are several easy steps you can take to minimize insects in the house. Here are three effective homemade remedies to combat mosquitoes, ants and houseplant pests.Non-toxically repelling the mosquitosI know it’s a bit late in the rainy season for this one, but test this bug spray out – you won’t regret it. Apply it often, and it really works. Best of all, it’s non-toxic and actually smells good (I’ve heard people describe it as pumpkin pie and cinnamon). And if you accidentally eat some of it or lick your fingers after a meal, it doesn’t taste like a mouthful of fire ants.Ingredients:500 ml alcohol (rubbing alcohol or vodka)100 g of cloves (to cut costs, try to find the big bags of 30 g each – not the 10 g packets)100 ml oil (something you would want on your skin, like, coconut oil or unscented baby oil) Clove oil makes for an effective, non-toxic mosquito repellent.  Chile peppers and garlic are natural bug repellents. STEP ONE: Soak all of the cloves in the alcohol for four days (this will extract the natural oils from the cloves).STEP TWO: (optional) Stir each day. This is not a necessary step, but enthusiasts claim it makes the mixture stronger.STEP THREE: After four days, strain. Keep the liquid and toss the cloves.STEP FOUR: Add oil of your choice and mix.Apply liberally and often to the skin.Disclaimer: I had total success with this formula from July to mid-September, but I’m finding it slightly less effective as October and November creep by. Not only does clove oil seems to lose efficacy as it ages, but the mosquitoes also appear to be getting more vicious as the year draws to a close. If the formula is not strong enough to discourage the bugs in your area, add some essential oil extracts (like cinnamon, citronella, rosemary or lavender) to boost repelling power. Any pharmacy that offers natural homeopathic remedies usually stocks these items.I also should warn you that people tend to either love or hate the smell of this homemade bug spray. You’ll walk into a room and hear either, “Oh, what is that lovely scent! Smells like homestyle applesauce.” Or, “Gross! It smells like Christmas ham.”Poisoning the antsBugs commandeering the kitchen can be a stubborn household nuisance no matter where you live. Luckily, there’s an easy and relatively non-toxic solution to tackle many types of ant.This minimalist recipe only requires three ingredients:1.5 tablespoons borax (also called sodium borate, sodium tetraborate or bisodium tetraborate and costs about $1 at any pharmacy)1 cup of table sugar (dirt cheap)½ cup waterBorax is a great insecticide for pet owners; if your dog eats some, it probably won’t die. According to a certified veterinary technician on JustAnswer.com, “Borax is generally non-toxic in small amounts.” (If Skippy does accidentally ingest some, you might want to call the vet anyway –  just to be safe.)STEP ONE: Mix the 1.5 tablespoons of borax (no more!), sugar and water together and boil for two to three minutes. Let cool.STEP TWO: Pour a small amount into a shallow plate or tupperware lid, and place in the area of the kitchen most frequented by ants. If the ants don’t seem to be going crazy for the sugar, trying mixing in a different type of bait – like meat or gravy.SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR PET OWNERS: Poke medium and large holes on the top of a jar, and place the sugar/borax mixture inside (you can also use an old soda can). Turn the jar on its side, to entice the ants to enter.That’s it. The ants will unknowingly take some of the borax with the sugar back to the hill, and their whole community will become poisoned in a day or two. You’re welcome.Banishing the plant pestsChile peppers and garlic are natural bug repellents. If your indoor or outdoor plants are being attacked by small insects like aphids or animals like squirrels and raccoons, spray the leaves with a this potion after the next rain. Pests will think twice about coming back. Don’t forget to wash the leaves with water before eating them yourself, or they might taste foul.What you’ll need:4 cups of warm water+/- 1 cup chile peppers, chopped+/- 5 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped+/- 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap (this acts as a binding agent so the mixture can adhere to the leaves) STEP ONE: Add the soap and water together in a spray bottle and shake.STEP TWO: Pour the soapy water into a large container or ziplock bag with the garlic and chile peppers.STEP THREE: Leave the mixture to steep for 12-24 hours.STEP FOUR: Strain, and pour back into the spray bottle.Done! Mist your plants after each time it rains – always in the morning or after evening, or else the leaves will roast under the hot sun. This concoction will ward off all but the most stubborn creatures. Facebook Commentscenter_img No related posts. Genna Marie Robustelli Genna Marie Robustellilast_img read more

Job fairs seeking 1300 employees

first_imgUniversal stores and Hispanoamericana University will host job fairs in coming days with the goal of hiring 1,300 people for permanent and seasonal posts.The fair at the university is scheduled for July 9-10 at its campus in Tibás, northwest of San José. Entrance is free.A total of 30 companies will be offering 1,000 technical and professional jobs. Most of the posts require fluency in a second language, and participating companies are seeking staff who speak English, French, German or Portuguese.Recruiters are seeking sales executives, network executives, web developers, java software developers, software testers (QA), customer service reps, administrative assistants, systems engineers, technical support, bilingual specialists, database administrators, financial analysts, call center agents with advanced English, electronic engineers, project managers, marketing executives and others.Companies will accept résumés in both digital and printed formats, and organizers have set up information kiosks for questions about participating companies.Visitors will be offered free lectures from human resource specialists, have their English proficiency tested and receive free counseling on labor issues.Among participating companies are: Amazon, EPA, Sykes, Pizza Hut, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, ITS, Credomatic, Starbucks, Unilever, Credix, Grupo Multivex, Search, Renaware, Eurociencia and Teleperformance, among others.Universal also will hold an annual job fair from July 28-29, with 300 seasonal posts available at stores. The fair takes place at Centro Colón in downtown San José, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.Posts are available for reception, information, sales, cashiers, maintenance, decoration and others.Those interested should bring a printed résumé, a recent photograph, two recommendation letters and a criminal background check. Facebook Comments Related posts:Hiring expectations low for Costa Rican employers in first months of 2015 Employment outlook slightly better for Ticos in coming months, survey finds Hiring outlook in Costa Rica up 3 percent over last quarter, survey finds Costa Rica employers optimistic about hiring in Q4last_img read more

5 things you might not know about the science of coffee

first_imgRelated posts:Genetically modified coffee could be just around the corner Morning caffeine fix gets cheaper as rains boost Brazil supplies Almost half of the world actually prefers instant coffee International Cinema Festival starts rolling this Friday Scientists work tirelessly to uncover the mysteries of the natural world, from the reasons people binge to the best way to wash hands. Recently it was revealed that they’ve figured out why coffee served in white mugs tastes so bitter. (The contrast between the color of coffee and a white mug makes the joe look and taste bolder.) Coffee served in clear glass mugs tastes sweeter.So, yes, those lab rats (the people, not the animals) are obsessed with getting (and studying) that jolt of java. That study got us thinking: What other crazy things do we know about coffee thanks to science? Answer: a lot.1. The optimal temperatureResearchers at the University of Texas at Tyler were tired of making coffee, taking a sip and burning off a layer of taste buds because the brew was scalding. So they got 300 volunteers to determine what temperature makes coffee drinkable but not mouth-burning. Those brave test subjects found that the sweet spot is 136 degrees.2. The best time to drink coffeeWe’ve been conditioned to get our caffeine fix first thing in the morning. But as Steven Miller, a psychology professor at Rosalind Franklin University in the U.S. state of Illinois, points out, early mornings are probably the worst time to drink coffee. If we pay attention to our circadian rhythms, specifically the points when our cortisol levels (responsible for the magical way we naturally feel alert) are low, we should drink coffee in the late morning (9:30 to 11:30 a.m.) and during the afternoon slump (1 to 5 p.m.).3. The coffee-ring effectSpill coffee on your shirt, and when it dries, the stain looks a little like a tree stump: light on the inside, dark around the edge. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania spent more than a decade determining what causes those outer rings. The culprit: the shape of the coffee particles. Round particles form a defined outer ring, while elongated ones do not.4. A coffee a day keeps the ringing at bayIf we’re being technical, it may be four cups of coffee a day. A study tracked the incidence of tinnitus (a constant ringing in the ear) among 65,000 U.S. women over 18 years. Those who had less than one cup of coffee a day were 15 percent more likely to have tinnitus than those who had four or more.5. Try a coffee napCoffee and naps don’t seem like a natural duo: One would think that the stimulative effects of coffee should stop you from dozing off. But the boost of energy you get from a cup of coffee doesn’t happen in an instant: It takes upward of 20 minutes for the caffeine to be absorbed by your body. Researchers at Britain’s Longborough University found that drinking a cup of coffee and immediately lying down for a 15-minute nap kept sleepy volunteers more alert in a car simulator than just coffee or just a nap. We usually stick to a playlist with bumping beats to keep us awake on the road.From Greatist.com Facebook Commentslast_img read more

WATCH Costa Rican sprinter Nery Brenes sets new personal record in 400meter

first_imgNery Brenes is on the path to the Rio Olympics, and the speedy Costa Rican track star isn’t wasting any time in getting there.On Thursday, Brenes won the men’s 400-meter dash at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Challenge in Madrid with a time of 44.60 seconds.The mark is a new personal record for the decorated Costa Rican, shedding .05 seconds off his previous best, which he set in 2012.https://youtu.be/YZlN2YfyPDkThe latest victory comes just two weeks after Brenes won the SL Benfica Meeting in Portugal with a 400-meter time of 46.01 sec. during his European tour.The Limón native has already qualified for this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, which begin on Aug. 5.“It’s a great sign of things to come,” said trainer Emmanuel Chanto. “We’re preparing to get to the final in Rio de Janiero 2016 and this is the first time he’s run so consistently fast to begin a season.”Brenes competed in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. In 2012, Brenes won a gold medal at the World Indoor Championships in Turkey with a time of 45.11 sec. in the 400-meter dash. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica’s Nery Brenes qualifies for 200-meter dash in Olympics with new national record Complete guide to Costa Rica’s 2016 Olympic athletes and events Olympic Update: Costa Rica still in search of defining moment in Rio Colorado skier looks to be Costa Rica’s first Winter Olympic athlete in over a decadelast_img read more

Cali Muñoz advances to US Open Surfing quarterfinals

first_imgCarlos “Cali” Muñoz, Jacó Surfer champion, beat Brazilian Jadson Andre in a heads-up match and is among the top eight in the tournament. This time, Cali surpassed the ninth position that he occupied in the 2016 US Open edition.The US Open of Surfing in Huntington, California, was this Saturday complicated due to bad surf conditions. But Cali knew to have patience. He ran the indicated waves and added a 5.83 and a 7.83, to combine a 13.66. This gave him the 1st place, above the Brazilian Jadson Andre.The national surfer assured that he is also excited by the support of the Tico public on the beach. “When I’m in the water, I can hear them screaming. Thanks to everyone and pura vida” the Tico commented.Muñoz is assisted by American Jim Hogan, coach of the National Team. The Jacó native will compete in the quarter-finals against South Africa’s Michael February on Sunday. He expects to advance to the semi-final and final this Sunday.Carlos “Cali” Muñoz was born in Granada, Nicaragua, but grew up in Jaco Beach. Recently, in July, Carlos Muñoz was first place in the QS 1000 points, event that took place at Playa Revolcadero, Acapulco, Mexico. Facebook Comments Related posts:New generation of Costa Rican surfers puts sport in the spotlight World Surfing Games in Jacó: 5 things to know about attending World Surfing Games preview: Can Costa Rica win second consecutive title? Costa Rica’s best surfers look to the 2020 Olympicslast_img read more

Looking back at Hurricane Maria the initial impact

first_imgFallen trees and branches blocked streets everywhere and the trees that remained standing were completely shorn of leaves. Puerto Rican environmental consultant Mickey Ray estimates that the storm downed between 1 million and 3 million trees and damaged 5 million more.As soon as the wind stopped, neighbors on our street got busy clearing it of downed trees and branches, in a scene repeated on virtually every street throughout the island. On our street, even a grandmother ably wielded a chainsaw to cut up trees and branches that were then moved to the side of the road by others.But once the trees were cleared, it didn’t mean you could get anywhere. Puerto Ricans had pumped the gas stations dry in anticipation of the hurricane.Huge lines formed in front of gas stations rumored to be about be refilled by trucks that never came. The gasoline truck drivers had the same communication challenges as everyone else and were in mere survival mode, unable to get to work.When they finally did start work after several days, they had to first deliver diesel to hospitals in urgent need of fuel for their generators.  A Total gas tanker truck needed a police escort as it sped through a main San Juan street on the way to a hospital. Above, a man walks on a highway divider while carrying his bicycle in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 21, 2017. Below, a view on Oct. 20, 2017 of a car driving on the same highway a month after Hurricane Maria hit the island. AFP Photo / Ricardo ArduengoAfter three or four days, gasoline finally reached the general public. However, lines at gasoline stations stretched up to eight hours, and gas often ran out before everyone was served.  Special lanes were established at designated gas stations for government officials and reporters, guarded by police against the possibility of frayed tempers, with waits of less than a half an hour to fill up.Lines also formed at supermarkets, which had run short of many basic supplies because the storm had knocked out ports around the island.Now, more than two months after the hurricane struck, at least a semblance of normalcy has returned, at least to San Juan.Lines have disappeared from gasoline stations and supermarkets. Shopping centers are jammed packed, as much with people seeking out a sense of normal life as doing any significant shopping. Universities have reopened after undergoing repairs, and schools have reopened.But the storm exposed the vulnerability of the 1 million people who live below the poverty line in Puerto Rico, many in rural areas outside of municipality centers. For them, life may never be the same.John McPhaul is a dual U.S.-Costa Rican citizen, born in San José. He wrote for The Tico Times for many years and now works at the San Juan Daily Star.Read more from John in Part II, coming Thursday. Facebook Comments As Costa Rica joins many other nations in looking back upon the devastating 2017 hurricane season, longtime Tico Times contributor John McPhaul reflects on his experience at the heart of Hurricane Maria’s passage through Puerto Rico. Part I of II. With vicious wind gusts slamming into our apartment, we huddled in the safety of the stairwell, terrified of what would happen when the eye of Hurricane Maria hit.Fortunately for us, the eye wall passed 15 miles south and Maria spared us the worst of its Category 4 winds, which reached 200 miles an hour.But no one in Puerto Rico was spared the ravages of Hurricane Maria altogether. The storm knocked out 100 percent of the electrical power, demolishing the transmission lines that traverse the 100-mile by 35-mile island. Maria also knocked out 60 percent of water supplies, serving up what could still turn out to be a humanitarian crisis of untold proportions.The 1 million residents of San Juan’s metropolitan area, where recovery efforts have been centered, are lucky compared to the 2.4 million people living in outlying municipalities. Across the mountainous island, communities struggled without water, electricity, food or even shelter as the storm ripped apart and blew away wooden houses, leaving people with nothing but the muddy clothes they were wearing. Related posts:Response to disaster: aid successes, struggles in post-Maria Puerto Rico Government charters flight to bring Costa Ricans home from Puerto Rico Costa Rican Foreign Ministry seeks Costa Ricans in Puerto Rico PHOTOS: ‘There’s a new normal in Puerto Rico’ ‘Pura vida’ on a mission: Monteverde recovers from Tropical Storm Natecenter_img For weeks after the storm, people in the mountains slept under the rain, surviving without food or water. The storm knocked out dozens of sewage treatment plants, resulting in tainted water being pumped into rivers and giving rise to an outbreak of leptospirosis, a water-born bacteria from rat urine. The hurricane’s death toll has reached 55.In the immediate aftermath of the storm, these stories and everything else going on in the island were obscured in a confused darkness. No one, even the police, could communicate by phone or internet. Access to rural areas was especially limited because of blocked roads and collapsed bridges.The only telephone network still operating was AT&T, which had shipped in an off-shore generator in anticipation of the hurricane. When the winds died down, I was able to borrow an AT&T phone from a neighbor to call my brother in California to tell him that we were all right.That first day after the hurricane had passed, we emerged from our house to a scene of utter devastation. Voices of Nate: Five first-hand accounts of Costa Rica’s devastating stormlast_img read more

The Tico Times launches Patreon with perks for donors

first_imgRelated posts:We’re back! Coming in December: a special Tico Times Print Edition Our latest print edition is here, and a World Cup/Fourth of July special is on the way! The Tico Times is now available on Apple News Support the Tico Times The Tico Times is a source of independent, unique and quality journalism in Costa Rica and Central America. We connect communities and cultures throughout Costa Rica, as well as people around the world who are interested in our country and region. We are working to build a sustainable, ethical and environmentally responsible media organization.We do this by:Training the next generation of fact-driven journalists in Costa RicaDocumenting Costa Rican cultures and history with an eye on the futurePromoting and showcasing solutions to Costa Rica’s challengesServing as a meeting place for Central American and international journalistsAmplifying the voices of outstanding journalists throughout Central AmericaAnd we love sloths.Your support makes all that possible.It also moves us toward our goal of enlisting 5 percent of our readers as subscribers in 2019. This would make us a fully reader-funded newspaper and allow us to do much more of the work you love.That’s why today, we launched our Patreon page. Become a Patron by clicking here to support The Tico Times.We’ve started working on exclusive content for supporters — from a free PDF of our print editions, to exclusive e-books, to behind-the-scenes looks at our work. We are gearing up to show you just how much your support means to us.Thank you for being a part of our mission and please spread the word. We need to reach 5,000 subscribers to meet our 5 Percent goal in 2019, so please tell friends who love Costa Rica, great journalism or adorable sloth videos to join the club! Monthly donations are most helpful for us since it supports our monthly planning, but one-time donations are greatly appreciated as well!Support the Tico Times Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Nationalist Nikolic sworn in as Serbias president

first_imgNikolic said he envisages Serbia as an EU member, but one “which will never give up the claim over its Kosovo.”He added that whatever future major decision Serbia’s government makes on Kosovo and the EU, it must be approved in a popular referendum.“I want Serbia to become an EU member, but this is a long road mostly due to the mistakes of the previous government, the corrupt state,” Nikolic said in an interview with Vecernje Novosti newspaper published Thursday. “The EU is important to me, but Serbia is even more important.”Although Nikolic, a self-proclaimed “Russia lover,” visited Moscow only days after he won the election, his first official foreign presidential visit will be to the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on June 14.“Whatever I find out in Brussels … I will share with the citizens, however hard it may be, or contrary to my beliefs,” Nikolic told reporters after his inauguration.___Jovana Gec contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Nikolic defeated predecessor Boris Tadic in the May 20 presidential runoff, and Nikolic’s populist Progressive Party won the most seats in the 250-member assembly.But because Tadic’s pro-EU Democrats have more allies in the parliament to form the next government, Nikolic may be forced to propose Tadic as the next prime minister _ a position more powerful than the presidency.In his inaugural speech, Nikolic urged quick formation of the new government, but indicated that his political cohabitation with Tadic will be stormy.“Serbia is a country shaken by heavy crisis,” Nikolic said, blaming Tadic’s former government for crime, corruption, unemployment and economic mismanagement.“I want a different Serbia,” Nikolic said. “Serbia which is free of fear for its future, with its doors opened to both the West and the East.”Several thousand Nikolic supporters greeted him with cheers in front of parliament in downtown Belgrade, but jeered Tadic as he arrived for the inauguration.The EU has urged Nikolic to pursue the course to membership like his predecessor, and to continue to seek reconciliation with Kosovo, the former ethnic Albanian-dominated province which declared independence in 2008. Although the United States and most EU countries recognized Kosovo’s statehood, Serbia and Russia have refused. Check your body, save your life Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Associated PressBELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Former nationalist opposition leader Tomislav Nikolic was inaugurated as Serbia’s new president Thursday, blasting his pro-European Union predecessor for the country’s deep economic and social problems and further fueling political turmoil after his surprise election.Nikolic, who claims to have shifted from being staunchly anti-Western to pro-EU, was sworn in for a five-year term at an inaugural session of Serbia’s new parliament. Comments   Share   New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your homelast_img read more

Punk rockers perform antiPutin protests

first_imgThe three women, all in their 20s, said their goal was to express their resentment over the church’s open support for Putin’s rule.Pussy Riot first gained notoriety during the height of this winter’s anti-Putin protests, when a video of their performance on Red Square became an Internet hit. Standing on top of a stone platform once used for reading out the czar’s decrees, the women sang a song called “Putin Got Scared.”The refrain goes like this:Revolt in Russia _ the charisma of protestRevolt in Russia _ Putin got scaredRevolt in Russia _ We exist!Revolt in Russia _ Riot! Riot!As the trial nears the end, prosecutors on Tuesday called for three-year prison sentences, which they said was lenient because the hooliganism charges they face carry a maximum sentence of seven years. They said they took into account that two of the women have young children and that they have good character references.Putin has criticized the punk rockers, but said their punishment shouldn’t be “too severe.” Speaking during a visit to the London Olympics last week, Putin suggested that the women should be grateful they didn’t try such a stunt in Russia’s Caucasus, which is predominantly Muslim. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Parents, stop beating yourself up Top Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches MOSCOW (AP) – Three feminist punk rockers in Russia may face years in prison for barging into Moscow’s main cathedral to sing a song against Vladimir Putin as he set out to reclaim the presidency.Wearing ski masks and miniskirts in garish colors, the Pussy Riot band members danced and high-kicked while belting out this refrain:Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away.Put Putin away, put Putin away.The case has caused international outrage and split Russian society. Some say the women deserve to be punished for desecrating the Russian Orthodox Church and offending believers, while others insist that the women _ who have already been in jail for five months _ are being unfairly punished for their political beliefs. “If they had desecrated some Islamic holy site, we wouldn’t even have had time to take them into custody,” Putin said.Putin’s comments triggered speculation that the Kremlin was trying to find a way to resolve the case without appearing weak or further angering either side.The case against the three women _ Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich _ wrapped up on Wednesday. The judge said she will issue a verdict next week, on Aug. 17.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

IMF urges more reforms in Italy to create jobs

first_img Top Stories Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Patients with chronic pain give advice Men’s health affects baby’s health too It urged Premier Enrico Letta’s government to push through further reforms to boost growth and jobs.Italy’s unemployment rate was 12.2 percent in May, though its youth unemployment rate was 38.5 percent, far higher than the 23.1 percent rate across the then 27-country European Union.EU leaders have agreed to put aside 8 billion euros ($10.4 billion) starting next year, on top of funding from other European funds and institutions, to ease unemployment among the under-25s.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories ROME (AP) – The International Monetary Fund is praising Italy for having taken “bold steps” to heal its finances but says the government needs to do more to get “unacceptably high” unemployment down.In a report at the end of its annual visit to the country Thursday, IMF officials said market sentiment is still “fragile” and that Italy’s reform efforts are far from complete. Quick workouts for menlast_img read more

Marshals Service under scrutiny losing chief to retirement

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States Marshals Service, which has come under criticism in some congressional quarters, is losing its director to retirement, federal officials said Tuesday.Stacia Hylton has served since January 2011 as director of the agency, whose responsibilities include protecting federal courthouses, transporting prisoners and capturing fugitives.The Marshals Service announced her departure on Tuesday, saying she expects to work on community policing and law enforcement safety and spend time at her retirement property in South Carolina. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober “Stacia Hylton is a dedicated public servant, a devoted law enforcement officer, and a champion of fair and effective criminal justice,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement. The Marshals Service is a component of the Justice Department.The announcement comes as the Marshals Service has attracted the scrutiny in recent months of lawmakers concerned about its hiring and spending practices. The Marshals Service said she had already been planning to retire since the winter and had recently notified the Justice Department of her intention.Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, gave a floor statement last month citing “serious questions” about the agency’s leadership, including allegations of nepotism, punishment of whistleblowers and potential mishandling of money from its asset forfeiture fund.The Justice Department has referred allegations of misconduct to its inspector general, and said in a letter to Grassley last month that it took seriously the “extensive and important concerns” that had been raised.“As the Marshals Service moves forward, the next director must be committed to bringing real, positive change to what appears to be a culture corroded by unethical hiring practices, misuse of funds and retaliation against whistleblowers,” Grassley said in a statement Tuesday. Top Stories ___Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAPCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Quick workouts for men New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

US unseals indictments against leaders of Colombia drug gang

first_imgBOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday unsealed indictments against 17 alleged leaders of Colombia’s largest cocaine-trafficking organization in a move seeking to shore up bilateral cooperation in the drug war.The charges against members of the so-called Usuga clan were announced in Bogota by U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer of Miami.Standing alongside President Juan Manuel Santos, Ferrer said the indictments in federal courts in New York and Miami seek to dismantle a violent group that smuggles hundreds of tons of cocaine into the United States. Beginning in 2002 and continuing through this year, the group relied on an army of armed enforcers to transport cocaine through lawless parts of the country and oversee its shipment out of Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador on clandestine flights and go-fast boats to Central America, where it gradually worked its way north.Colombian authorities in recent weeks have stepped up pressure on the group, arresting dozens of top leaders near the Gulf of Uraba along the border with Panama where the criminal gang has long reigned.The group’s top leader, Dairo Antonio Usuga, better known by the alias “Otoniel,” has so far eluded capture despite a nationwide manhunt involving more than 1,000 police officers. The U.S. has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.If captured and convicted in the U.S., he faces life imprisonment.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall How men can have a healthy 2019 Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Top Stories How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more