Sponsored Stories Top Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosis More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Comments Share Still, the current bidding round poses an opportunity for energy companies because the exploration blocks are in “fertile and easy-to-extract areas,” said Kuwait-based independent analyst Kamel al-Harami.The Iraqi Oil Ministry approved 47 international energy companies to participate in two days of bidding on Wednesday and Thursday, but only 39 companies paid the participation fee.Top among the approved companies are the Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, UK’s BP, Chevron and Occidental of the U.S., China’s CNOOC and CNPC, Japan’s Japex, Russia’s Lukoil and others.The blocks are expected to add about 29 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to the current 126.7 trillion cubic feet in reserves, and about 10 billion barrels of oil to the current proven 143.1 billion barrels of proven reserves.Nearly 70 percent of them hold natural gas and the rest a combination of oil and gas.Five of the blocks are in Iraq’s western Anbar province or shared between Anbar and neighboring provinces; two are in the northern Ninevah province; one is shared between central Diyala province and neighboring Wasit province while the rest are scattered throughout southern Iraq. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family The bidders are vying for service contracts in which they will be paid a flat fee, rather than the more lucrative production-sharing contracts in which they receive a share of the hydrocarbons found.Since 2008, Iraq has awarded 15 oil and gas deals to international energy companies, the first major investments in the country’s energy industry in more than three decades.The goal was to boost daily production from about 3 million barrels now to 12 million barrels by 2017. But Iraq is mulling whether the target should be revised downward to fewer than 10 million barrels, considering a possible drop in demand on oil in the international market and infrastructure bottlenecks.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How men can have a healthy 2019 Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths The government is seeking foreign investment to build up an energy sector hit by years of neglect and violence. Iraq holds the world’s fourth largest oil reserves and hopes to develop its natural gas industry.THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.BAGHDAD (AP) _ Iraq opened on Wednesday its fourth postwar bidding round for oil and natural gas exploration, with 39 foreign energy companies registered to compete for exploration rights in a dozen areas of the country.The government is seeking foreign investment to build up an energy sector hit by years of neglect and violence. Iraq holds the world’s fourth largest oil reserves and oil revenues make up nearly 95 percent of the country’s budget.In an opening speech, Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Karim Elaibi said exploration of the areas up for bidding will increase Iraq’s oil reserves and help the country enter the natural gas industry. He promised that his ministry will “spare no efforts to help and support the companies as partners to achieve the common interests.”Still, conditions for bidders are less attractive than in the three previous rounds held since the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Only areas with undetermined hydrocarbon resources are on offer, while previously the rights to known big and medium oil and gas fields were being auctioned off. Operating costs for energy companies could be high because most of the 12 exploration blocks are in remote and unsafe areas and lack infrastructure.The government also added a clause for the first time that prevents companies from signing deals with regional authorities without the approval of the central government in Baghdad. Companies that violate the clause will have their contracts terminated, said Sabah al-Saidi, the deputy head of the Oil Ministry’s Licensing and Petroleum Contracts department.The new clause came in response to Exxon Mobil’s bold move last year to sign six deals with Iraq’s northern self-ruled Kurdish region without Baghdad’s approval. In return, Baghdad banned the Texas-based company from taking part in the current bidding, but kept a deal to develop the 8.6-billion-barrel West Qurna Phase One oil field in the south.Wednesday’s auction started with no one bidding for an 8,000-square-kilometer (3,100-square-mile) block in northwestern Iraq with presumed natural gas fields. Associated PressBAGHDAD (AP) – A consortium led by a Kuwaiti energy company has won the rights to search for oil and gas in southern Iraq.Kuwait Energy and its partners, Turkey’s TPAO and the UAE’s Dragon Oil, will be paid $6.24 for each barrel of oil equivalent they find in a 900-square-kilometer (350-square-mile) area in Iraq’s oil-rich southern Basra province.The Basra-area exploration block is the first to be awarded of 12 that are up for bidding in Iraq’s fourth postwar energy auction that started Wednesday. Three dozen foreign companies are involved.
Comments Share Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements How do cataracts affect your vision? (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Associated PressCOTONOU, Benin (AP) – On an epic journey through Africa, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton braved an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Uganda, escaped a swarm of angry bees in Malawi and witnessed a rare snow in South Africa. She even shimmied on a dance floor, gaining the nickname “Secretary of Shake.”As she wrapped up her nine-nation African tour Friday in Benin, Clinton shattered her own travel record, logging 865,000 miles and stops in 108 countries _ 10 more countries than her nearest competitor, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. By far the more dangerous health risk Clinton faced on the trip was flying into Uganda in the midst of an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, which, by the time it was contained on the day she left, killed at least 16 people.The specter of the killer disease in the western part of the country was present as she reiterated U.S. offers to help stop the spread at an event at an AIDS clinic in Kampala.In addition to setting a new record for countries visited by a secretary of state, Clinton also notched several personal bests on the 12-day jaunt. By the time she finally ends the trip Saturday in Istanbul, she will have visited 10 countries, the most on any overseas tour, and made 13 stops, twice traveling among three nations on a single day.She lodged in hotels ranging from the stately Cape Grace in Cape Town to the Holiday Inn Airport in Accra, Ghana, where she attended the state funeral of the late President John Atta Mills.___Online:Clinton dancing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vQ9xclUSMlmA Top Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Video of the secretary, clad in a shimmering blue jacket, boogieing down amid a cluster of dignitaries with decidedly mixed dancing skills quickly went viral on the Web, drawing hundreds of thousands of online views from around the world.Clinton _ once nicknamed “secretary of quake” by her traveling press corps for an uncanny knack of being in countries when temblors or other natural disasters hit (at least four times and counting now) _ had a new nickname.She had arrived in South Africa from making the first trip ever by a secretary of state to Malawi where she had also danced on camera _ with rural women after donating a bull to an agricultural collective _ but had not created the same stir.In Africa, the Internet buzzed with exaggerated reports that Clinton and her entourage had been attacked and chased out of the country by a swarm of angry bees. A local newspaper report said the insects had descended on the tarmac at the airport in Lilongwe and caused chaos as she boarded her plane.In fact, the bees swirled around her motorcade as it arrived but dissipated as it approached the plane where she was serenaded by a troupe of traditional dancers. Later, Clinton did not recall even seeing the bees, and no one in her party was stung. How men can have a healthy 2019 Circling from Senegal around the Cape of Good Hope to Kenya and back to the West African nation of Benin, she also engineered an oil deal between fractious Sudan and South Sudan, read the riot act to feuding politicians in Kenya, visited freedom icon Nelson Mandela and got Nigeria’s leaders to step up their efforts against terrorism.Clinton’s grueling journey _ her second major African swing _ may be remembered best for visiting Uganda amid a deadly Ebola outbreak, for the bees that didn’t sting her in Malawi and for the dance moves she displayed in South Africa on the same day that snow fell in the capital for the first time since 1968.On Tuesday in Pretoria, as South Africans reveled in the unusual winter snowfall, Clinton hosts dubbed her “Nimkita,” or “the one who brought the snow,” at a gala dinner that would provide perhaps the most-viewed television footage of the trip.“‘Nimkita’ will be a name that I will proudly bear,” Clinton told the crowd before the evening entertainment, South African jazz and pop singer Judith Sephuma, cajoled the clearly delighted former first lady to cut a rug with her and other guests at the Presidential Guest House.
JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli authorities say the remains of a missing soldier have been found in a forest in northern Israel, ending a seven-year search.Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the body of Majdi Halabi, a Druse Arab soldier who disappeared in 2005, were found two weeks ago by a park ranger in the Carmel forest near the Israeli city of Haifa. Israeli police conducted a forensic investigation Thursday and confirmed that the remains match the soldier’s DNA. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments Share Halabi, who lived in the area, disappeared after hitchhiking.Israeli police are investigating the circumstances of his death.For years, a nonprofit organization offered $10 million reward for anyone with information on Halabi’s disappearance. The group later folded.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day
“Mumbai has not seen a congregation like this in the past 50 years,” said Kumar Ketkar, editor of a local daily and a respected political commentator.Thackeray’s Sena is among the most xenophobic of India’s Hindu right-wing political parties and held power in Mumbai from 1995 to 2000. His supporters often called him Hindu Hriday Samrat or emperor of Hindu hearts.In 1992, members of Hindu right-wing groups, including the Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party, were instrumental in destroying a 16th century mosque in north India that they said was the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama, and Thackeray was blamed for the violence and rioting that followed. In Mumbai alone, nearly 1,000 people were killed.His extreme regional and religious parochialism led him to advocate Hindu suicide bombers and planting bombs in Muslim neighborhoods to “protect the nation and all Hindus.”His followers often attacked and rampaged through the offices of media organizations that he claimed were anti-Maharashtrian and anti-Hindu and threatened to dig up cricket pitches ahead of matches between largely Hindu India and its Muslim-majority neighbor Pakistan.Even though the Shiv Sena’s political grip over Mumbai _ its longtime power base _ has been waning over the last decade, it still commands tens of thousands of violent followers. Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement His son and successor, Uddhav Thackeray, lit the funeral pyre amid chants of “Thackeray is immortal” by the supporters, some of whom wept.Top Indian politicians, industrialists and Bollywood stars including L.K. Advani, Sharad Pawar, Anil Ambani and Amitabh Bachchan, earlier placed floral wreathes aside Thackeray’s body, which was wearing his trademark dark sunglasses.Thackeray, an 86-year-old powerful, rabble-rousing orator for Shiv Sena _ which means Shiva’s Army _ died on Saturday following a cardio-respiratory arrest. He had been ill for several weeks.His body, wrapped in India’s national flag, was carried through the city on a trailer-truck. Policemen carried his body to the cremation site at the end of a daylong funeral procession as the Maharashtra state government, headed by the governing Congress party, announced state funeral for him.Life in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital came to a halt as people voluntarily closed shops and businesses and kept taxis and auto-rickshaws off the roads. However, state-run buses and trains plied to help Thackeray’s supporters to attend his cremation.Indian media reports said more than 1.5 million people attended his funeral procession. There were no official estimates of the mourners. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Associated PressMUMBAI, India (AP) – Hundreds of thousands of grieving supporters thronged the streets of Mumbai on Sunday for the funeral of Bal Thackeray, a Hindu extremist leader linked to waves of mob violence against Muslims and migrant workers in India.Nearly 20,000 policemen were on hand because of the violent history of the group. The mourners, however, remained calm and orderly as the body of Thackeray was cremated at Shivaji park where he had made political debut by addressing his first public rally 46 years ago. In the early 1990s he led a successful campaign to drop what he called the colonially tainted name Bombay _ a Portuguese derivation of “beautiful bay” _ and replace it with Mumbai, after the local Marathi language name for a Hindu goddess. The city is the capital of Maharashtra state.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments Share Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Quick workouts for men Sponsored Stories
Sponsored Stories Associated PressTHE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – The International Court of Justice ruled Monday that a group of tiny islands in the western Caribbean belongs to Colombia, but also granted Nicaragua control of a large swath of the surrounding sea and seabed that could hold oil reserves.Based on evidence presented by lawyers for both nations, “Colombia and not Nicaragua has sovereignty over the islands,” the court’s President Peter Tomka told delegations from both sides. Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement How do cataracts affect your vision? Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day “We’ve been given very important maritime territory,” he said.Undersea oil exploration concessions for the waters surrounding the islands were approved in 2010 by the Colombian government of then-President Alvaro Uribe.After taking office later that year, Santos introduced legislation to begin the exploration but, after complaints from environmentalists and local politicians, reversed himself and said he would not allow the exploratory drilling.The archipelago is home to one of the largest barrier reefs in the Americas, the 100-square-mile (255-square-kilometer) old Providence reef. The rich marine habitat was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2000.Nicaragua first went to the world court, the United Nations’ highest judicial organ, in 2001 arguing that Colombia had no legal claim to the islands.The two countries’ dispute over the region began in the late 1960s when Nicaragua granted oil exploration concessions for part of the seabed, but so far no drilling has started.The court partially rejected that argument in 2007, saying a 1928 treaty between the two countries established that Colombia owned the English-speaking islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina. But the decision not to grant Colombia full sovereignty over the waters connecting all the archipelago’s islands drew a vehement objection from Colombia.President Juan Manuel Santos told Colombians in a national speech that the court had “committed grave errors” by ignoring the terms of the very treaty it had declared valid and that the decision would hurt the archipelago’s fishermen.The decision effectively cut off four small islands from the rest of the archipelago and Santos said he could not accept the court’s “omissions, errors, excesses and inconsistencies.”While Santos said he recognized that the court’s decision is final and legally binding, he said Colombia “emphatically rejects this aspect of the decision” and “we don’t rule out any recourse or mechanism that international law gives us to defend our rights.”He said he would fly to San Andres immediately.Nicaragua hailed the ruling as an historic triumph.President Daniel Ortega called it a “day of national victory, victory for all Nicaraguans,” and called on Santos to respect the court’s ruling.Nicaragua’s representative at the court, Carlos Arguello, said the ruling gives the poor Central American country “incredible potential wealth and future exploitation of fisheries and other resources, such as minerals.” Comments Share Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center There are also two commercial fishing companies in the islands, which have 72,000 inhabitants, said Guerrero.The islands were first settled by Puritans in the early 17th century, and later used as an outpost by pirates. Many inhabitants today are descendants of slaves who speak English as their first language.Nicaragua had argued that when it ceded the archipelago to Colombia in a 1928 treaty, it did so under duress because Nicaragua was then occupied by U.S. Marines who were battling a leftist insurrection.The territorial dispute prompted the Colombian military to step up its presence near the archipelago. Nicaragua’s government accused Colombia’s navy of intercepting and capturing Nicaraguan fishing boats off the Nicaraguan coast.____Luis Manuel Galeano in Managua, Nicaragua, Vivian Sequera and Cesar Garcia in Bogota, Colombia, and Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru, contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The vital role family plays in society Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Those volcanic islands, 720 kilometers (450 miles) from Colombia’s coast and 110 kilometers (70 miles) from Nicaragua’s mainland, are popular among tourists for their pristine white beaches and coral reefs.In Monday’s ruling, the court’s 15 judges said that several other smaller islands and cays in the region also belong to Colombia and set the maritime borders based on Colombia’s ownership of the islands.The new borders give Colombia control of the waters and seabed immediately surrounding its islands and cays but also give Nicaragua a large horseshoe-shaped area of the sea and seabed stretching from its mainland coast around the Colombian islands.The provincial governor of San Andres, Auri Guerrero, told The Associated Press it was important that the court ruled that the waters immediately surrounding two outlying keys, Quitasueno and Serrana, are Colombian territory as they are extremely important for many of the 1,200 small fishermen who live in the archipelago.But “a boundary has been set where we end up losing territorial water in San Andres province. In the end, we can’t be happy or satisfied with the ruling.” Two other keys, Serranilla and Bajo Nuevo, were similarly separated.
Comments Share Two others who announced they would stand were Andy Burnham, the party’s health spokesman, and Liz Kendall, also first elected in 2010.David Miliband, Britain’s former foreign secretary who lost to brother Ed Miliband in the party’s last leadership contest, has said he will not run.Nominations for leadership close in June. The new leader will be chosen through a postal ballot of party members and supporters, and announced on Sept. 12.The last Labour government was led by Gordon Brown from 2007 to 2010.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Top Stories LONDON (AP) — Four British politicians are in the race to replace Labour leader Ed Miliband, who resigned last week following the party’s election defeat.Miliband stepped down Friday after his party lost almost all of its seats in Scotland to the separatist Scottish National Party and ran well behind the winning Conservatives elsewhere.As of Thursday, candidates to replace him include ex-Cabinet minister Yvette Cooper, long seen as the party’s potential first female leader, and Chuka Umunna, a lawyer and the party’s business spokesman who was first elected to Parliament five years ago. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Quick workouts for men
KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo’s army and U.N. forces should work together in the fight against rebels in the east, a top U.S. State Department official said Thursday, despite lingering concerns about the human rights records of Congolese generals involved in the campaign.In February, the U.N. formally ended support for a Congo military offensive against the FDLR militant group after two Congolese generals linked to human rights violations were picked to lead the operation. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement President Joseph Kabila is barred from seeking a third term in 2016, though mass protests erupted in January against proposed changes to the electoral law that were widely seen as an attempt by the president to prolong his time in power.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center 0 Comments Share Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories The U.N. had previously said removal of the FDLR would be “a turning point” for security in the region, where a number of armed groups have wreaked havoc for years. The FDLR was formed by extremist Rwandan Hutus who fled into eastern Congo after taking part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.But Congo has so far not complied with U.N. demands that Gen. Bruno Mundevu and Gen. Fall Sikabwe be removed from the operation. The U.N. says the generals are known to be involved in “massive human rights violations.”In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday in Kinshasa, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski said the U.N. and Congo’s army shouldn’t let “disputes” block the kind of cooperation that led to the toppling of the M23 rebel group in 2013.“What we need is for the government and the United Nations to work together, to resume the cooperation that was so effective in the past and not to let any disputes between them delay cooperation that is needed to save the lives of people in the east,” said Malinowski, who is assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor.Malinowski also voiced “concerns about shrinking space for civil society” as Congo prepares for elections in 2016. Congo briefly detained a U.S. diplomat in a March raid that targeted journalists and pro-democracy activists, accusing them of threatening stability. ErrorOK ErrorOK Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The vital role family plays in society Top holiday drink recipes
In this Tuesday, July 14, 2015 photo, Iraqi volunteers with Popular Mobilization Forces train at a volunteers center in Baghdad, Iraq. The Associated Press has found that militia forces battling the Islamic State group are actively training children under 18 years old. (AP Photo/Vivian Salama) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona The Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 says the U.S. cannot provide certain forms of military support, including foreign military financing and direct commercial sales to governments that recruit and use child soldiers or support paramilitaries or militias that do.When informed of the AP findings, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issued a statement saying the U.S. was “very concerned by the allegations on the use of child soldiers in Iraq among some Popular Mobilization Forces in the fight against ISIL,” using an acronym for the militant group. “We have strongly condemned this practice around the world and will continue to do so.”Last year, when IS took over the northern city of Mosul, stormed to the doorstep of Baghdad and threatened to destroy Shiite holy sites, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called on the public to volunteer to fight. His influence was so great that hundreds of thousands of men came forward to join the hastily-established Popular Mobilization Forces along with some of the long-established Shiite militias, most of which receive support from Iran.Then, on June 9, as schools let out, al-Sistani issued a new fatwa urging young people in college, high school and even middle school to use their summer vacations to “contribute to (the country’s) preservation by training to take up arms and prepare to fend off risk, if this is required.” Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall In cities from Baghdad to Basra, summer camps set up by the Popular Mobilization Forces, Iraq’s largest militia umbrella group, are training teens and boys as young as middle school age after the country’s top Shiite cleric issued an edict calling on students to use their school vacations to prepare for battle if they are needed.With dozens of such camps around the country, hundreds of students have gone through the training though it is impossible to say how many went on to fight the Sunni extremists since those who do so go independently. Of around 200 cadets in a training class visited by The Associated Press, about half were under the age of 18, with some as young as 15. Several said they intended to join their fathers and older brothers on the front lines.It’s yet another way minors are being dragged into Iraq’s brutal war as the military, Shiite militias and Kurdish fighters battle to take back territory from Islamic State militants, who seized much of the country’s north and west over the past year. The Sunni extremists have aggressively enlisted children as young as 10 for combat, as suicide bombers and as executioners in their horrifying videos. A spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Forces, Kareem al-Nouri, said the camps give “lessons in self-defense” and underage volunteers are expected to return to school by September, not go to the front.A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister’s office echoed that. There may be “some isolated incidents” of underage fighters joining combat on their own, Saad al-Harithi told the AP. “But there has been no instruction by the Marjaiyah (the top Shiite religious authority) or the Popular Mobilization Forces for children to join the battle.”“We are a government that frowns upon children going to war,” he said.But the line between combat training and actually joining combat is weakly enforced by the Popular Mobilization Forces. Multiple militias operate under its umbrella, with fighters loyal to different leaders who often act independently.Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser, said that if the Shiite militias are using children as fighters, “then the countries that are supporting them are in violation of the U.N. Convention” on the Rights of the Child.“If you are supporting the Iraqi army, then by extension, you are supporting” the Popular Mobilization Forces, she said. Top holiday drink recipes BAGHDAD (AP) — A quiet middle-class Shiite neighborhood in western Baghdad was transformed recently into a mini-boot camp, training teenagers for battle against the Islamic State group.The Shiite boys and young men ran through its normally placid streets carrying out mock exercises for urban warfare since the toughest battles against the Sunni extremists are likely to involve street fighting. They were taught how to hold, control and aim light weapons, though they didn’t fire them. Among those training this month in the streets of Baghdad, 15-year-old Jaafar Osama said he used to want to be an engineer when he grew up, but now he wants to be a fighter. His father is a volunteer fighting with the Shiite militias in Anbar and his older brother is fighting in Beiji, north of Baghdad.“God willing, when I complete my training I will join them, even if it means sacrificing my life to keep Iraq safe,” he said.Earlier this summer, the AP saw over a dozen armed young boys, some as young as 10, deployed on the front line with the Shiite militias in western Anbar province.Baghdad natives Hussein Ali, 12, and his cousin Ali Ahsan, 14, said they joined their fathers on the battlefield after they finished their final exams. Carrying AK-47’s, they paced around the Anbar desert, boasting of their resolve to liberate the predominantly Sunni province from IS militants.“It’s our honor to serve our country,” Hussein Ali said, adding that some of his schoolmates were also fighting. When asked if he was afraid, he smiled and said no.The training program could have serious implications for the U.S.-led coalition, which supports the Iraqi government but has distanced itself from the Iranian-backed militias. The U.S. does not work directly with the Popular Mobilization Forces, but they receive weapons and funding from the Iraqi government and are trained by the Iraqi military, which receives its training from the U.S. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Parents, stop beating yourself up Top Stories The U.N. convention does not ban giving military training to minors. But Jo Becker, the advocacy director of the children’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, said that it puts children at risk.“Governments like to say, ‘Of course, we can recruit without putting children in harm’s way,’ but in a place of conflict, those landscapes blur very quickly,” she said.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments Share
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X Julian Insall from Kirra Holidays accepting his award for Best Sales Rep from Sharon Richardson, Travellers Choice Business Development Manager Victoria and Tasmania. Some 50 Travellers Choice agents from Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania last week celebrated its top sellers at an awards night held at the Radisson Hotel in Melbourne.Over the course of the evening, 19 awards were given out by a range of suppliers including Qantas Holidays, Creative Holidays, Tempo, Kirra Holidays, Driveaway and Covermore.Kirra Holidays picked up the inaugural Best Supplier award, while Julian Insall from Kirra Holidays won Best Sales Rep.Last week’s one-day state conference also included an expo which showcased 20 preferred industry partners, as well as knowledge and information sessions.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.C Expedia has released its latest Foreign Exchange Index, revealing Eastern Europe as the top international area where Aussies can get the best value for their Aussie Dollar. Eastern Europe emerged as the top value holiday destination, with Hungary topping the list, followed by Latvia, the online travel company announced. The biannual research, which indexes percentage gains in the AUD over foreign currencies, had Eastern Europe boasting six of the top ten value-for-money destinations. “We’re definitely seeing Eastern Europe trending this year,” Expedia marketing manager, Louise Crompton, told e-Travel Blackboard. “Eastern Europe is getting a lot more searches [on Expedia], with a grown interest for the area.”Ms Crompton said the allure of the region comes as “Aussies are looking to get off the beaten track and see places that are more interesting, emerging”. “[With] Paris, London, Spain – we’ve experienced growth there; but we’re increasingly seeing people with additional days use London as a hub and head to Budapest for its culture, or Dubrovnik for a quick sailing trip,” she said. Hungary’s Forint, which fell almost 28 per cent against the AUD in the last year, emerged as best value, followed by Latvia’s Lat which fell by a similar percentage. The Australian Dollar has also appreciated by almost 23 per cent against the Euro, making Europe an excellent value-for-money destination. Despite the gains of the Aussie Dollar against the greenback, the US didn’t feature in the index’s top ten best value destinations. The results present a startling contrast to the Expedia Foreign Exchange Index issued in October last year: the Euro and the Danish Krone are the only two currencies which remain in the top ten year-on-year. For Aussies looking to travel within the Asia Pacific region, Vietnam is the pick of the bunch, scraping in at tenth position, after seeing its currency fall by almost 19 per cent against the Australian Dollar over the last year. Popular Aussie holiday destinations such as Thailand, Bali and Malaysia still represent great value for money as their currencies have remained relatively stable against the Aussie Dollar. When asked by e-Travel Blackboard whether Eastern Europe presented better value for the Aussie Dollar than the tourism hotbed of Southeast Asia, Ms Compton replied: “Asia is still terrific value for money, and has remained wildly popular. I don’t think we’ll see Eastern Europe replace Asia for popularity, no.”The top ten currencies, in descending order, against which the Australian Dollar has performed best in the past twelve months are: Hungary (Forint), Latvia (Lat), Denmark (Krone), Bulgaria (Lev), Eurozone (Euro), Romania (Leu), Croatia (Kuna), Morocco (Dirham), Czech Republic (Koruna), and Vietnam (Dong). Expedia marketing manager, Louise Crompton, says Eastern Europe presents great value for Aussies to get off the beaten track.
Earlier today the Intrepid Foundation announced that they are making a donation of up to AU$10,000 to the New Zealand Red Cross Earthquake Appeal. The foundation group also said they would match staff donations to the appeal, dollar for dollar. Red Cross New Zealand set up the online credit card donation system for anyone interested in donating to the victims of the Christchurch earthquake. “Donate now for thousands of vulnerable people in New Zealand and overseas, the Red Cross is a sign of hope in crisis, meeting both immediate and longer term needs,” Red Cross New Zealand said in an online statement. “Your generosity means we can continue to help where the need is greatest.”People interested in donating can also send funds through via direct credit/online transfer. For more information visit: www.redcross.org.nz/donate Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P With the increase of Interisland travel within Samoa, domestic air services have re-launched and will now be serviced by Samoa Air. Samoa Air, the Island’s official national carrier operates a fleet of BN2A Islanders, an aircraft well recognised for its short take off and landing (STOL).Samoa Air will operate five return daily services between the Upolu and Savaii, operating from the re-opened air strips of Fagaii (FGI) on Upolu and Maota (MXS) and Asau (AAU) in Savaii.The recently re-opened domestic airstrips will provide a new travel option for travellers who would have previously used ferries to access other parts of the Island.Samoa Tourism Authority Public relations and marketing consultant Peter Sereno said they are thrilled to be offering this new service.“This new travel option encouraging greater travel between the Islands and allows visitors to our country the option to see more of the Treasured Islands,” Mr Sereno said.Additionally, the carrier will also operate flights to destinations in American Samoa, Tonga, Wallis Island and Niue.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W Travellers can now book Qantas flights on the go thanks to the launch of a new functionality on their mobile site launched today.Enabling customers the ability to search and book domestic and international flights on a smart phone means greater convenience according to chief executive officer Qantas domestic Mr Lyell Strambi.Mr Strambi said customers wanted greater convenience and flexibility to book flights away from their home or office.“The Qantas Mobile site now makes it easier for our customers to book their flights while on the move.”Qantas customers can now make a flight booking, pay for it and check-in while travelling to the airport for the flight with the convenience of it all in the palm of their hand.The new function adds to the already existing Qantas Mobile site that was launched back in 2008, allowing customers to check-in for domestic flights, check flight status and receive SMS flight updates. The mobile site also provides customers with information at a touch of the finger such as access to worldwide Qantas Club lounge locations, contact numbers for Qantas offices worldwide and up to date timetables for Qantas, QantasLink, Jetstar and codeshare flights.Logging into the site can be done by entering your Qantas frequent flyer number, surname and PIN. For those non-Frequent flyer members all that is required to log in is a booking reference and surname. To access the Qantas mobile site, type qantas.com into a web-enabled smart phone.
Toga Hotels invited friends and guests to enjoy a hilariously entertaining evening at the theatre to experience a wondrous production of ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’.Toga Hotels, whose brands include Adina apartments, Vibe Hotels, Medina serviced apartments and Travelodge Hotels, enjoys a long running partnership with the Sydney Theatre Company.The hit stage comedy, set in popular 1960’s-era Brighton, was inspired by an Italian play, ‘The Servant of Two Masters’ by Carlo Goldoni, originally written in the 18th century.The current adaptation by Richard Bean has playing to West-End and Broadway audiences in London and been running successfully for the past two years.‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ is a terrifically humorous adventure of love, lust, lies, labour and laying low.The Sydney Theatre Company at Walsh Bay will host the theatrical British romp until 11 May 2013.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T. ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ – an adventure of love, lust, lies, labour and laying low.
Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wiseman This week, Newcastle Airport has reached a major milestone in the terminal expansion project, with completion of Stage 1 of the project.The milestone was recognised with a ceremonial cutting of the ribbon by Minister for Planning and Environment and Minister for Women, Pru Goward. This stage has been completed on schedule and comprises a 2,600m2 extension to the existing terminal building. The terminal now exists of a new arrivals hall and provides a dedicated area for permanent customs, immigration, and quarantine facilities in readiness for potential international services. The formal completion of Stage 1 means Newcastle Airport is able to discuss future direct international services to and from Newcastle without infrastructure being a barrier. Newcastle Airport’s chief executive officer Paul Hughes, said he was proud of the international facilities the completion of Stage 1 provided.“We now we have a building; we can now clearly show that we are ready and able. I am hopeful that direct international services will soon be a reality for our Hunter travelers,” Mr Hughes said.Stage 2 of the redevelopment will commence in the coming week, which involves a full refurbishment of the existing terminal which will become dedicated to check-in and an expansive departure lounge. In line with stage 1 of the expansion completion, Newcastle Airport has also announced the recommencement of direct services between Newcastle and Canberra, starting on 27 April 2015. The service is to be operated by Pelican Airlines under the Fly Pelican brand on a 19-seat pressurised BAE Jetstream 32 aircraft.The airline plans to operate double-daily services Monday to Friday and a Sunday afternoon service. In addition to the Newcastle-Canberra service, the airline will also operate services from Newcastle to Sydney with onward connections to Mudgee.
Construction of W Brisbane commencesThe first foundation stone of W Brisbane has been laid, commencing construction of the luxury hotel which is scheduled to open in 2017, in time for the Gold Coast Commonwealth games in 2018. Part of a mixed-use development, which will cost more than one billion Australian dollars to complete, W Brisbane marks the re-entry of the W brand to Australia.Located on 300 George Street by the Brisbane River, the mixed-use development is a joint venture between Shayher Group and Pau Jar Group of Taiwan and comprises three unique towers – W Brisbane will occupy one tower, while the other two towers will be used for premium office and commercial space and high-end residences. The development will also feature podium level retail outlets.Brookfield Multiplex has been engaged to complete the first stage of the construction process, which will include the basement carpark, the retail and hotel facilities and the hotel tower. The development will create 5,000 extra jobs in Brisbane, with more than 350 people working on the site at any given time.“We’re really excited to be working with Shayher Group and Brookfield Multiplex on this prestigious development project which will see the re-entry of W Hotels to Australia,” said Andrew Taylor, Director of Acquisitions & Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Pacific. “W Brisbane will bring a new level of luxury and service to Brisbane’s hospitality scene and a fresh lifestyle standard in this rapidly growing city. A stylish addition to the up and coming riverside area, W Brisbane will appeal to the new generation of domestic and international visitors to the city.”Redefining luxury with innovative design, signature amenities and unique style, W Brisbane will offer 305 stylish guestroom, including 25 suites and an Extreme Wow Suite®, the W brand’s reinterpretation of the traditional Presidential Suite. The smallest guest rooms will be 40 square metres; the largest room size in Brisbane currently.W Brisbane will also feature more than 960 square metres of ultra-modern meeting and event space, as well as a 24-hour WIREDSM business centre, spa, FITSM state-of-the-art workout facility, WETSM indoor heated swimming pool, and W Hotels The Store. In addition, the hotel will house three unique restaurants and bars, including an all-day dining restaurant, Pool Bar and the W Lounge. Guests can expect the W brand’s iconic Whatever/Whenever® service philosophy, providing them with whatever they want, whenever they want it.Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the construction of the six-star luxury W Hotel was a considerable vote of confidence for Brisbane and would be a welcome addition to Brisbane’s growing high-end accommodation sector.“Not only does this enhance Brisbane’s reputation as a world-class national and international destination of choice, it is an example of the success of our Hotel Investment Strategy which was designed to attract new high-end hotels to our city,” Graham Quirk said.Peter Sia, General Manager, Shayher Group said: “We are thrilled to have started work on the development, which will be constructed in three stages. The first tower, which W Brisbane will occupy, will be built first; work will then commence on the premium office space and high-end residences.”“With Brisbane’s healthy economy and status as a key tourist destination, it’s a great time to be investing in Brisbane and we’re looking forward to working with both Starwood and Brookfield Multiplex to ensure we set a new benchmark for hotels, office space and residences in the city centre,” he added. W Hotels WorldwideSource = W Hotels Worldwide
Travel & Tourism added 7.2 million new jobs in 2015Today the World Travel & Tourism Council has launched its annual Economic Impact Report 2016. According to the research, last year Travel & Tourism added 7.2 million jobs to the global economy and contributed over USD$ 7.2 trillion in GDP.The Economic Impact Reports, WTTC’s flagship annual research, provide economic data on the contribution of the Travel & Tourism sector on a global level as well as for 184 countries and 24 regions.David Scowsill, President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said: “Despite uncertainty in the global economy and specific challenges to Travel & Tourism last year, the sector grew by 3.7%, contributing a total of 9.8% to the global GDP. Travel & Tourism also supported a total of 284 million jobs in 2015, an increase of 7.2 million, which means it now supports, directly and indirectly, 1 in 11 jobs on the planet.Scowsill added: “Travel & Tourism once again has proved its resilient nature. Terror attacks, disease outbreaks, currency fluctuations and geopolitical challenges have impacted the sector at a country or regional level, but Travel & Tourism at the global level continues to produce another robust performance.”Country growthTravel & Tourism direct contribution to GDP growth outpaced overall GDP country growth in 127 of the 184 countries covered by the research. Countries where Travel & Tourism most markedly outperformed the wider economy in 2015 include Iceland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Uganda.The growth of the sector is stimulated by a worldwide increase in middle-class income households, an ageing population, which tends to travel more, and growing connectivity between destinations, making travel more accessible and affordable.Regional performanceAll regions of the world showed growth in total Travel & Tourism contribution to GDP in 2015. Southeast Asia was the fastest growing region with growth of 7.9% followed by South Asia, which grew 7.4%. Middle East grew 5.9%, Caribbean 5.1%, Sub-Saharan Africa 3.3%, North America 3.1%, Europe 2.5%, Northeast Asia 2.1%, Latin America 1.5% and North Africa 1.4%.Outlook for 2016 and beyondIn 2016, Travel & Tourism’s total contribution to GDP is forecast to grow by 3.5%, and is again expected to outpace global economic growth for the sixth consecutive year.Security concerns, border policies, oil prices, the strength of the US dollar relative to other currencies, and other macroeconomic developments will continue to influence travel trends in 2016 and beyond. Nevertheless, over the next decade, Travel & Tourism is expected to continue to outpace the world economy, growing by 4% on average annually. World Travel & Tourism CouncilSource = World Travel & Tourism Council
Marriott ranks as Most Preferred International Hotel Brand in IndiaMarriott International is pleased to announce that the company has been recognized as the most preferred international brand in India by HVS India, a renowned leading hotel consulting firm. The company also achieved placement in the top-five for most-preferred food and beverage operators. HVS India shared the results of its second Stakeholder Sentiment Survey “The Indian Owner Speaks” at the annual Hotel Investment Conference South Asia (HICSA) in April 2016.The Stakeholder Sentiment Survey highlights the opinions, perceptions and concerns of Indian hotel owners, who own almost 30,000 hotel rooms among 35 hotel brands (domestic and international) throughout India. This represents more than 26% of the country’s hotel rooms inventory, across varied market positioning and locations.“I am thrilled to see Marriott International top HVS’s survey. Our success in India is pivotal to our success overall. To this end, we will increase our footprint by almost-doubling the number of hotels in the next few years and increasing our footprint from 18 cities to 30,” said Mr. Craig S. Smith, President and Managing Director of Marriott International Asia Pacific.The Indian tourism industry is booming with 23 million international travelers having traveled to India in 2014 and nearly 100 million domestic tourists expected to travel throughout the country next year.Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is a global leading lodging company based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with more than 4,400 properties in 87 countries and territories. Marriott InternationalSource = Marriott International
Fly Qantas New Qantas Pilot uniformNew Qantas pilot uniforms take to the skiesQantas today unveiled the latest pilot uniform for its almost 3,000 domestic, international and regional pilots.Created by Australian fashion designer Martin Grant, the navy suit is modern and sleek, with nostalgic design features linking back to the first Qantas pilot uniforms from the 1930s.Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said he was proud to unveil the new uniform at a time when the national carrier was continuing to invest in its people. “Every Qantas uniform reflects its times and this version marks an exciting period for our pilots as we create new job opportunities and look forward to the delivery of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner next year,” Mr Joyce said. “The uniform was developed in collaboration with our pilots to make sure that it meets their needs on the job, as well as perfectly capturing the power and history of the Qantas brand.”Qantas Chief Pilot Captain Richard Tobiano said pilots took great pride in wearing their uniform. “Qantas pilots, along with cabin crew, are ambassadors for our airline at airports around the world, and I’m looking forward to wearing a new uniform that is modern, comfortable and pays tribute to the history of our airline and profession,” said Captain Tobiano.The new look is a modern, single-breasted, navy suit in a streamlined cut with a narrow trouser for males, and a more feminine version for women, including a specific female tie. The fabric is lighter, the shirt is more fitted and the gold stripes used to define rank are finer to give a more elegant look. The back of the jacket also features a red vent to add a splash of colour.Paying tribute to the quintessential nautical-style uniform, the hat is navy with a waterproof white top – important for conducting the pre-flight aircraft walk around in all weather. The gold embroidered hat badge has been simplified using the Qantas Roo logo – the iconic symbol first introduced in 1947 to coincide with Qantas’ first services through to London. The symbol also features on the new wing badge, which has been updated in gold embroidery.Based on the iconic Qantas trench, a water resistant trench coat in bonded lightweight wool for pilots has also been introduced – giving it the practical aspect whilst maintaining the chic, tailored quality. Martin Grant said the new design was inspired by the classic military and naval-style pilot uniforms and reflected feedback from pilots who wanted a uniform that was modern, wearable and recognisable.“Pilots have one of the most respected professions in the world. I decided it was very important to keep the classic base of the military and naval styles as it maintains and commands this respect,” said Mr Grant. “Feedback from pilots was that they wanted to keep the traditional image but give it a fresh makeover to be more elegant and wearable. With an increase of female pilots in the ranks, it was also important to design more feminine suiting for women. Source = Qantas
Kuala Lumpur – Unbeatable value across the board roomsXML has over 96,000 properties worldwide . If you are unsure about which property to book, always check for the ‘Preferred’ logo next to the hotel; that means its been recommended by other Travel Agents. Kuala Lumpur is the nations capital, and home to colonial era British influenced infrastructure and feel; mixed with contemporary. Travellers will recognise the Petronas Towers (with its stunning observation deck) in the above image.Previously a stop over destination, KL has now come into its own as a specific destination. roomsXML has over 200 3, 4 & 5 star properties across Kuala Lumpur:Central: metropolitan, modern, and entertainment hubroomsXML has 118 Properties in CentralPetaling Jaya: Suburban KL and tourist hub, the Wat Chetawan Thai Buddhist temple will offer culture during the day with night clubs and bars to keep you busy at night.roomsXML has 24 Properties in Petaling JayaShah Alam: home to the amazing Selangor State Museum and the Selangor Islamic Arts Complex. Top sporting facilities include the Shah Alam Stadium, while the Bon Odori custom celebrates the honouring of deceased spiritsroomsMXL has 15 Properties in Shah Alam. roomsXML.comconnect today roomsXML.comdiscover more here Source = roomsxml.com Kuala Lumpur – Unbeatable value across the board