Thursday, October 27, 2016 TORONTO — In its 35-year history, Air Canada Vacations has never had a year like 2016. The tour operator has accomplished the most growth this year than ever before, with new routes, increased frequencies and capacity and more exclusive properties driving its expansion.Maintaining this momentum, ACV will launch a new route from Montreal to Puerto Vallarta this November, which will operate three times a week until April 2017. This December, new routes between Toronto and Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, as well as Montreal and San Jose, Costa Rica will launch, both as 2x weekly service. All three routes will be operated by Air Canada Rouge.New seasonal service between Montreal and San Juan, Puerto Rico will also launch in December operating once a week onboard Air Canada mainline.Additional frequencies have been added between Montreal-Cancun and Turks & Caicos; Toronto-Cayo Coco, Varadero, Curacao, Puerto Plata, Samana, Huatulco, Saint Lucia and Turks & Caicos; and Vancouver-Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. Service between Toronto-Punta Cana, and Vancouver-Cancun, Ixtapa, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta will see increased capacity due to a change in aircraft. These routes will now be operated by Air Canada Rouge Boeing B763, which features 282 seats including 24 in Premium Rouge.More news: Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North AmericaTo bring travel agents’ clients more options, Air Canada Vacations is also introducing exclusive properties throughout Mexico and the Caribbean including the Azura Beach Resort Samara in Liberia, Costa Rica (sister property of Hotel Villas Playa Samara, which is semi-exclusive); La Isla Huatulco & Beach Club and Isla Natura Beach in Huatulco, Mexico; Papillon by rex resorts in Saint Lucia; Kunuku Aqua Resort in Curacao; Starfish Tropical in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba and Be Live Experience Las Morlas in Varadero, Cuba. All properties are ideal for family getaways and group vacations.As an incentive for travel agents, those who book Sun groups until Oct. 31 will receive four flight passes and two free seat upgrades. The reward depends on the number of passengers booked. Full details can be found on Air Canada Vacations’ website.Also until Oct. 31, 2016, agents who book ACV’s all-in-one cruise packages online will receive 12% commission. The tour operator’s newly launched cruise packages include air, cruise, roundtrip transfers and all taxes and added values in one seamless package. Tags: Air Canada Vacations ACV achieves most growth ever this year, thanks to new routes, frequencies & hotels Travelweek Group Share Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>
Monday, November 6, 2017 Travelweek Group ORLANDO — A family vacation to Universal Orlando will soon become that much more affordable with the debut of two high-value hotel accommodations with rooms starting at less than US$100 per night.Universal Orlando Resort has announced that beginning in summer 2019, the new hotels will offer a combined 2,800 guestrooms, including 1,450 two-bedroom suites designed to accommodate families of all sizes. Both options will feature nightly rates starting below Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Aventura Hotel.One hotel will boast 750 rooms and the other 2,050 rooms, and will both be located minutes from Universal Orlando’s three theme parks and Universal CityWalk’s dining and entertainment options. Hotel amenities will include three pools, two food courts, poolside bars, fitness rooms, car rental facilities and more.Plus, guests at both properties can enhance their Universal Orlando experience with Early Park Admission to Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure or Universal’s Volcano Bay, complimentary transportation across the destination and resort-wide charging privileges.More news: Flights cancelled as British Airways hit by computer problemThe two new hotels will be built on a 64-acre site at the intersection of Universal Boulevard and International Drive, and become the destination’s seventh and eight hotels. This continues Universal Orlando Resort’s unprecedented growth, bringing the total number of guestrooms at the destination to 9,000 (when combined with the 600-room Universal’s Aventura Hotel opening in August 2018).Reservations at the two hotels will be accepted in early 2018. Two hotels starting at under $100 a night coming to Universal Orlando Resort Posted by Tags: Theme Parks & Attractions, Universal Studios << Previous PostNext Post >> Share
A drier than usual rainy season in Costa Rica especially will affect the northwestern province of Guanacaste, as government officials already foresee problems for agriculture and livestock in the area.Rainfall records from the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) also support the conclusion that a drought has hit the area and other parts of the country.The Agriculture and Livestock Ministry reported that currently 20,000 hectares of farmland are being irrigated to deal with the lack of rainfall, but already a large number of rice farmers have stopped farming due to a shortage of water.Data from the Livestock Development Corporation indicate that some 396,000 head of cattle in the Central and North Pacific regions could be affected.IMN also said the climatic phenomenon known as “El Niño” could continue causing problems across the country for the rest of the year. Facebook Comments No related posts.
Related posts:Explainer: Why is Costa Rica’s former President Laura Chinchilla suing a hotelier over a Facebook post? No clear path forward, opposition lawmakers lament after Solís’ 100-day report Lula’s bridge to nowhere hints at global reach of Brazil graft Brazil corruption: Ruling party heavyweight sentenced to 15 years in prison The names of Costa Rica’s President Luis Guillermo Solís and former National Liberation Party (PLN) presidential nominee Johnny Araya were among several prominent figures listed on a handwritten note allegedly redacted by José Aldemário Pinheiro Filho, the president of Brazilian contractor OAS and a target ofan ongoing corruption investigation in the South American country.The note was seized by Brazilian police in São Paulo, and some of the names have dollar figures written next to them, the Brazilian newspaper Valor Econômico reported on Tuesday.Solís’ name does not have any dollar figures scribbled next to it, but Araya’s does. Also on the list is Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina.The Costa Rican government paid OAS $35 million ($6.5 million in December 2013 and $28.5 in March 2014) during President Laura Chinchilla’s 2010-2014 term as part of a settlement for a canceled $524 million San Ramón Highway concession.According to Valor Econômico, the document seized at Pinheiro’s home suggested that he had set aside more than $1 million for Antonio Solá, a Spanish political campaign consultant overseeing Alejandro Sinibaldi’s bid for president of Guatemala in November 2015. Solá also worked as a campaign consultant for Haitian President Michel Martelly and former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, the newspaper noted. Sinibaldi served as one of Pérez Molina’s ministers from January 2012 to September 2014, when he announced his candidacy.Under a section titled “Costa,” Luis Guillermo Solís’ name appeared above Johnny Araya’s with the phrase (in Portuguese) “Solution Johni Araia 5 X 35= US$ 1,750.” That was followed by “Balance – US$1,250.”As of Monday, Pinheiro was ordered to be held in preventive detention while Brazilian prosecutors investigate allegations of money laundering, organized crime and corruption. He is one of 36 suspects in the case. Documents federal police seized allegedly show that Pinheiro sought billion-dollar contracts in the construction of ports, airports, water management systems, hydroelectric dams, highways and rail projects in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa, Valor Econômico reported.President Solís issued a statement Tuesday afternoon denying any involvement with the investigation and OAS.“The Presidency of the Republic of Costa Rica categorically rejects any insinuation that attempts to draw a relationship with an article in circulation and an investigation underway in Brazil,” the statement said.Solís’ ruling Citizen Action Party (PAC) issued a second statement rejecting any connection between the president of Costa Rica and the OAS investigation. The PAC statement cited former campaign treasurer Leda Zamora as saying that Solís’ presidential campaign did not accept any money from corporations, legal entities (personas jurídicas) or any foreign donors in accordance with Costa Rican election law.Valor Econômico said it had not received comment from the Costa Rican consulate in São Paulo.Araya told the news website crhoy.com that he did not know why his name was on the document, and he denied knowing Pinheiro. He said he had no knowledge of what the figures next to his name meant.The Tico Times spoke with Araya’s former campaign manager, current PLN lawmaker Antonio Álvarez Desanti, who said Tuesday night that Araya’s campaign did not receive funds from OAS.“Johnny [Araya] spoke out against the [San Ramón Highway] project, which put him at odds with President Laura Chinchilla. It would seem strange to me to reject the project if the campaign received funds,” Álvarez said.Álvarez added that he had not spoken to Araya about the OAS investigation or why his name appeared on the document.An ethics investigation ultimately cleared President Chinchilla of any wrongdoing in the granting of the San Ramón concession to OAS.In August, a report by Costa Rica’s Comptroller General dismissed allegations that former Public Works and Transport Minister Pedro Castro, also a former OAS consultant, had used his office to influence the San Ramón Highway contract. Facebook Comments
Tall, white columns of vapor and gas on Wednesday morning surprised residents near the Turrialba Volcano, east of Cartago, as the western crater registered increased activity that formed a 1.5-kilometer fumarole, the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) reported.María Martínez Cruz, a volcanology and geochemistry expert at OVSICORI, explained that emissions don’t yet include ash, a situation that last year affected residents north of Cartago and as far away as the provinces of San José, Heredia and Limón.“We haven’t received any reports of ashes being emitted, and the gas and vapor plume has maintained its size. At its peak it reached a maximum height of 4 kilometers above sea level, or some 1.5 kilometers above the crater,” Martínez said.Reports from both OVSICORI and the University of Costa Rica’s National Seismological Network (RSN) state that activity at Turrialba can be considered within normal parameters and is caused by the large amount of rainfall registered in the area in recent days and an increase in the crater’s temperature.OVSICORI and RSN experts on Thursday will conduct inspections at Turrialba to take measurements and samples from the crater.In addition to gas and vapor, experts have not registered any irregular increase in the area’s seismicity, Martínez said.“At this time activity at Turrialba is lower than that currently registered at Irazú Volcano,” she said. Irazú, also in Cartago, is currently experiencing a series of minor tremors that have ocurred since December.On Oct. 29, 2014, Turrialba, located 67 km northeast of San José, registered its largest explosions and ash emission in the past 150 years.At the time, 180 hectares north of Cartago were affected on some level, but the Agriculture Ministry’s director of extension services, Felipe Arguedas, said there was no cause for concern about long-term consequences for human health.Dairy and crop farming are the primary productive activities in the northeastern region of Cartago, and farmers mostly grow vegetables, tubers and flowers. About 80 percent of potatoes consumed in Costa Rica are produced in this region. Related posts:Experts monitoring increase in seismic activity at Costa Rica’s Irazú Volcano Turrialba Volcano spews more ash over Costa Rica’s Central Valley in Easter eruption Turrialba Volcano: Weather has helped prevent spread of ash VIDEO: Costa Rica’s Turrialba Volcano launches ash 800 meters into the sky Recommended: TIMELINE: A recent volcanic history of Costa Rica Facebook Comments
A legal team representing the Nicaraguan government on Friday concluded a first round of hearings at the International Court of Justice by arguing that no evidence exists to show dredging on the San Juan River had caused environmental damage in the border area, as Costa Rica’s attorneysclaimed earlier this week.Closing arguments by Nicaraguan attorney Paul Reichler downplayed Costa Rica’s accusations of damage in the disputed territory. He also highlighted that Costa Rica failed to present valid evidence to demonstrate dredging work on the San Juan River caused environmental damage to its territory.Recommended: Costa Rica, Nicaragua enter final hearings at The Hague in border disputeReichler closed Nicaragua’s participation in the first round of hearings in the case of environmental damage raised by Costa Rica by saying that the government of Managua ordered dredging in order to “help preserve the environmental health of San Juan and restore conditions required for navigation.”He also said Costa Rica failed to present evidence to prove dredging caused damage to [Costa Rica’s] Colorado River or to demonstrate they significantly affected its flow.Those statements referred to allegations earlier this week by Costa Rica accusing Nicaragua of causing damage, a significant reduction in the flow of the river and dramatic environmental impact.“The alleged decline in the flow of the Colorado River cannot be attributed to dredging by Nicaragua,” Reichler said.Nicaragua’s legal team cited a study by experts at Costa Rica’s request and said that one expert, professor Colin Thorne, acknowledged that dredging is necessary to maintain navigation conditions on the San Juan River.Following Nicaragua’s hearings, which included the testimony of two experts in dredging and engineering, Costa Rica’s legal team said there is no evidence of the historical existence of a canal, or caño, that Nicaragua alleges they were clearing.Costa Rica in November 2010 reported that the caño was artificially excavated by Nicaragua to alter the countries’ border as agreed in the 1897 Cañas-Jeréz Border Treaty.On Friday evening Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry in a statement said the country’s legal team is pleased with the wrap-up of the first week of oral proceedings at The Hague.Nicaragua on Monday will begin a first round of hearings regarding a complaint filed against Costa Rica for alleged damage caused by the construction of a 160-kilometer road along the border.Nicaragua will present its closing arguments on Monday and Tuesday, while Costa Rica will have two days to respond.A third and final week of the legal process is open for rejoinders. April 28 and 29 will be dedicated to the Portillos Island case, while April 30 and May 1 are scheduled for the border road case. Facebook Comments Related posts:Nicaragua government praises ‘balanced’ ruling in border dispute with Costa Rica At The Hague: Nicaragua says Costa Rica’s border road dumps “massive amounts of sediment” into San Juan River Costa Rica asks international court to prevent further occupations from Nicaragua Damaged wetlands recovering along Costa Rica-Nicaragua border
Facebook Comments Related posts:Romans will crucify Jesus in annual Good Friday parades throughout Costa Rica Flamenco superstars, Soda Stereo tribute, and other happenings around Costa Rica ‘Kingdom of Characters’ celebrates Japanese pop culture Arts Festival, Star Wars convention, and other happenings around Costa Rica Taking a break from touring in Central America, Enrique Iglesias headed to a Guatemalan airfield for a helicopter flying lesson and posted the above photo to Instagram Wednesday with the caption: “pre #flight #inspection flight lessons #Guatemala#helicopter #helicopters #flying #iloveit.”We can only assume that the 39-year-old Spanish singer needs a better escape vehicle to pilot in his music videos.Iglesias’ chopper adventure comes a few weeks after his April 4 show in Guatemala, the latest stop on his “Sex and Love” tour through Latin America.The pop star will perform in Paraguay and Nicaragua before arriving in Costa Rica for a concert on May 2 alongside California indie pop duo Capital Cities. The show will be the first international performance at the newly-constructed event center Parque Viva in Alajuela.Tickets start at ₡14,500 and can be purchased online at www.eticket.cr or at any Servimás location.
Guided visits to the Casa AmarillaThe Foreign Ministry, better known as “La Casa Amarilla” (The Yellow House), will offer guided tours of the historic building, perhaps the government’s most attractive. The visits include a museum onsite and a piece of the Berlin Wall.Tours take place at the Casa Amarilla in downtown San José, two Saturdays per month during February, March, and April; starting Feb. 6. Free. 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. More info: 2539-5559 or firstname.lastname@example.org“Poem Factory”In celebration of National Poetry Day, the Juan Santamaría Museum in Alajuela will hold a “Poem Factory” with the presence of some of Costa Rica’s most well-known poets, including José María Zonta, Marybelle Obando, Sarita Marchena, Alejandro Chavarría, Sofía Achío and Alfredo Ulloa. There, the public will be able to share and talk with the poets, as well as listen to some of their poems.“Fábrica de poemas” takes place Jan. 30 at the Cultural and Historic Juan Santamaría Museum in Alajuela. Free. 2 p.m. More info: 2441-4775.Outdoor movieThe Arthouse Film Library and the program Film for All will have an outdoor screening of the movie “Mommy” at the Plaza de la Democracia. The movie tells the story of a mom who decides to educate her hyperactive children at home instead of sending them to a school for problem children.“Cine al aire libre” takes place Jan. 29 at Plaza de la Democracia, next to the National Museum. 6:30 p.m. Free. More info: Event’s Facebook page. Related posts:Traditional pilgrimage, Artisans’ Fair and other happenings around Costa Rica Cancer awareness run, river picnics, and other happenings around Costa Rica Tropical Fair, Gastronomic Festival, and other happenings around Costa Rica Coffee fair, gospel concert, and other events around Costa Rica Drink and DrawDrawing session with artist Man Yu, with the presence of a model, live music and drinks. All materials included.“Drink and Draw” takes place Jan. 30 at Francisco Peralta, Los Yoses. 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. ₡16,000 ($32). More info: 8859-8684 or Event’s Facebook page.Americans Makah ShowA performance group from the Makah indigenous tribe, of North America, will demonstrate their cultural traditions, including fishing, basket weaving and woodcarving. Costumes and accessories used during the dances are usually made by the person wearing them.“Espectáculo Indígenas Makah de los Estados Unidos” will be performed Feb. 2 at the National Theater. 8 p.m. ₡6,000 ($12). More info: National Theater Website.“From Italy, With Love”The Costa Rican Philharmonic Orchestra will play the most famous songs of Italian musicians such as Claudio Baglioni, Eros Ramazzotti, Andrea Bocelli and Laura Pausini, among others.“De Italia con amor” will be performed Jan. 29 at the National Theater. 8 p.m. ₡15,000 – 25,000 ($30 – 50). More info: National Theater Website.Overnight Yoga Camp for ChildrenThe 1-night camp includes 2 yoga classes with a focus on gratitude, a movie and popcorn, storytelling, massage and aromatherapy, and crafts.“Overnight Yoga Camp” takes place Jan.30 at Ananda Shakti, San José. 6 p.m. ₡23,000 ($46). More info: 2106-0049 or Ananda Shakti Facebook page.Carpe CaféA tour to learn about different coffee-brewing techniques and the history of San José, all on foot. The tour includes four coffee shops, four coffee tastings, security, and tour guides.“Carpe Café” takes place Jan. 30 starting at La Cafetera, 2nd Avenue and 11th Street, San José. 3 p.m. $12. For more information email email@example.com.Coffee FairThis year’s edition of the Frailes Coffee Fair in Desamparados, south of San José, inaugurates the country’s very first Coffee Park, which will feature a coffee museum. The four-day fair will feature activities for children and adults, and concerts with bands Los Alegrísimos, La Kuarta, and Pimienta Negra.“Feria del Café de Frailes” takes place Jan. 28-31 at Los Frailes, Desamparados. Adults ₡1,500 ($3), children ₡1,000 ($2). More info: Feria del Café Facebook page.“The Government Inspector”Espressivo Theater kicks off its new season with an adaptation of Nicolai Gogol’s satirical play, a black comedy criticizing the government and corruption. Liubov Otto directs.“El Inspector” will be performed Jan. 22 – March 20 at Espressivo Theater, Curridabat. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun. at 6 p.m. ₡7,500 – 10,000 ($15-20). More info: Teatro Espressivo Website. (Courtesy of Teatro Espressivo)De la Mano con la CalleThe non-governmental organizations Vaso Lleno and Friends of the World are organizing the third edition of the volunteer project “De la mano con la calle” to help the homeless in San José. Participants form teams to walk through the streets and offer support, from food and clothing to medical attention, haircuts and shaves. Most importantly, volunteers will spend time with the homeless and hear their stories. At this edition DEMASA will donate all the food, but you can help by donating clothes, other materials, or money (complete list at the Event page below), or going as a volunteer.“De la mano con la calle” takes place Jan. 30 starting at 9 a.m. at the Parque España, east-central San José. Everybody is welcome, but those wishing to volunteer need to fill out a form. For that form, as well as a complete list of donations needed and how to contribute, visit the Event’s Facebook page.National Mule FestivalThere will be traditional food and games, dances, horse parades, contests, bullfights, bike and motorcycle competitions, and, of course, the national mule competition.“Festival Nacional de Mulas” takes place Jan. 21-Feb.21 at Campo Ferial de Asobipa, Parrita, Central Pacific. More info: firstname.lastname@example.org or 8911-1280. (Courtesy of Festival Nacional de las Mulas)Upcoming Concerts:Costa Rock 2016: A concert with bands La Milixia, Adaptados, Colemesis, Garbazos, El Guato, Endemia, Mentados, Republica Fortuna, Seka, Totem, Ufo, Xpunkha, and Prockq. Jan. 30 at Club Peppers, Zapote. 12 noon. ₡10,000 ($20). More info: Event’s Facebook page.Chivo Chamánico: Bands Voodoo, Magpie Jay, and Ramon & the Go Go Dancer. Jan. 30 at Jazz Café Escazú. 8 p.m. ₡4,000 ($8). More info: 2253-8933. Facebook Comments
Effective antibioticAmong the fungi that Selvamicin can kill are two species that cause health problems for humans.One of them is responsible for candidiasis, a fungal infection that commonly affects the skin, mouth, vagina, intestines and other organs. The other is a mold responsible for aspergillosis that causes allergic reactions and infections in lungs and other organs.Research found that Selvamicin’s structure is similar to that of other antifungals called Nystatin A and Amphotericin B. Both are listed as essential medicines by the World Health Organization, but they might produce severe side effects to patients, so scientists have been looking for alternatives.Pinto told The Tico Times that research is still at an early stage, so it is not certain that Selvamicin will soon evolve into a commercial product.Researchers, however, are optimistic based on their findings that in addition to being highly efficient against fungus, Selvamicin has very low toxicity. This means that if Selvamicin becomes an authorized antibiotic, “its use, unlike most antibiotics, will have little to no side effects,” Pinto said.Ethan Van Arnam described Selvamicin as a fascinating molecule and said that Harvard Medical School researchers are particularly interested in its unusual structure and its fungicidal properties.He said the discovery is also a reminder of Costa Rica’s high ecological value, and how the country’s tropical forests still have many lessons to teach us about medicine and science. UCR experts collected bacteria samples from ant colonies at La Selva Biological Station in Sarapiquí, Heredia province. (Courtesy of Carlos de la Rosa/OET)Fighting bacteriaThese discoveries about Selvamicin are key at a time when the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria shows sustained growth while, by contrast, the discovery of new antibacterial agents is decreasing, researchers said.Pinto highlighted that fungal-farming ants have used antibiotics against parasitic fungi for over 50 million years, and fungi have failed to become resistant to them as it occurs inside the human body.He said that they are now focusing on understanding how ants have been using the same antibiotic against fungi over millions of years and it still works, “while there are already bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics we started using less than 70 years ago during World War II,” he said.Harvard’s Clardy, a biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology expert, noted that there’s still much research pending.The group of scientists will keep conducting tests to assess whether Selvamicin can become a drug to help people, “but this is a process that we already started,” Clardy said.Carlos de la Rosa, the director of La Selva Biological Station, said the discovery has huge potential, but it’s important for people to understand that the process to develop a new drug is slow. In order to develop a final product, researchers still need to conduct many tests to prove that they can synthesize the antibiotic into a drug, de la Rosa told The Tico Times. Then that drug also must undergo laboratory tests, cultivation and effectiveness evaluations “to determine whether it is as effective in animals and humans as it is against fungi at an ant colony,” he said.However, de la Rosa noted that these discoveries could also open the door to further research of the properties of millions of existing bacteria, and that might lead to the development of other new drugs.“We know a lot about mammals, birds and reptiles, but we still know so little about microorganisms,” he said. Carlos de la Rosa from the Organization for Tropical Studies, Fernando García and Adrián Pinto from the University of Costa Rica on Nov. 4 join, via videoconference, experts from Harvard University and University of Wisconsin-Madison at a press conference at UCR’s campus. L. Arias/The Tico Times Facebook Comments An international team of researchers from the University of Costa Rica (UCR), Harvard University and University of Wisconsin-Madison announced the discovery of a molecule produced by Costa Rican ants that they believe could be used to manufacture a new improved antibiotic.At a press conference at the UCR campus on Friday, Harvard researchers Jon Clardy and Ethan Van Harmam, as well as Cameron Currie of Wisconsin-Madison, joined UCR researchers via videoconference to disclose the details of the discovery of Selvamicin, as the group called an antibiotic found in bacteria harbored by fungus-growing ants.Selvamicin, researchers found, has the ability to inhibit growth and even kill a human fungal patogen called Candida albicans. A candida, commonly known as yeast, is a strain of fungus that can cause infections.These infections are responsible for digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain, intestinal gas or food intolerance. They can also provoke insomnia, memory loss, headaches and depression, among other ailments.Researchers named the molecule in honor of the place where they discovered it: La Selva Biological Station, part of the Organization for Tropical Studies. The research center, located in the province of Heredia, receives some 300 investigators each year from several countries who conduct up to 150 scientific projects.The research group already patented their findings. If the project concludes with a commercially distributed antibiotic, recognition and a share of the profits will be distributed equally among the three universities.Investigating antsUCR researcher Adrián Pinto said that scientists started studying ants at La Selva Biological Station in 2009, particularly the Apterostigma ants that cultivate and feed on a genus of fungus known as Leucoagaricus.A parasitic micro fungus called Escovopsis also feeds from the Leucoagaricus, and invades ant colonies in search of it. The ants protect their food from the parasitic fungus by feeding an antibiotic-secreting bacteria that kills the invaders.Apterostigma ants have therefore created a complex symbiotic relationship with the bacteria by providing them with a suitable environment to live. In return, ants benefit from the substance the bacteria secretes, which is an efficient antifungal. Professor Currie, an expert on evolution, discovered the interaction between ants and bacteria back in the 90s.“These ants are farmers, as they grow their own food, but also pharmacists, as they manufacture their own antibiotics through their relationship with bacteria,” Pinto said.Local research comprised the first stage of the project. UCR experts identified the ants’ habitat, collected bacteria samples and cultivated them at their laboratories. They then selected the best samples, tested the Selvamicin on various types of fungi and found that it is effective in killing those fungi.Selected samples then were sent to Wisconsin for genetic analysis and also to Harvard for chemical analysis. Experts there are currently working on the possible development of a new drug.See a video of the Ticos’ research at La Selva Biological Station: Related posts:Costa Rican researchers look to beat cancer with blackberries Costa Rican experts seek to curb increase in breast cancer cases, deaths Number of obese Ticos has almost quadrupled in four decades U.S. volunteer specialists perform spine surgeries on 11 Costa Rican children
People of African descent in Latin America have made significant progress in reducing their poverty, but much remains to be done to achieve social and economic inclusion in their respective countries, according to a World Bank study released Friday in Honduras.The report, presented in the Caribbean port of La Ceiba, was prepared based on 2015 censuses from 16 countries. It states that Latin America has around 133 million Afro-descendants, or about 24 percent of its total population.The arrival of this population is associated with one of the darkest chapters of Latin American history: “slavery and its tragic legacy of social exclusion,” the document says.The region has made progress in reducing that exclusion and inequalities during the last two decades by including ethnic and racial variables as part of social programs, the text indicates.As a result of these efforts, between 2005 and 2015, more than 50 percent of Afro-descendant households living with less than $5.50 per capita per day climbed out of poverty in Brazil and Uruguay, while more than 20 percent did so in Ecuador and Peru.But the study warned that “much remains to be done,” citing that Afro-descendants receive fewer years of education, are more frequently victims of crime and violence, and are 2.5 times more likely to live in conditions of chronic poverty than the rest of the population.More than 91 percent of Afro-descendants — 105 million people — in Latin America live in Brazil and Venezuela, while 7 percent live in Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador and Mexico.The rest are in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Uruguay and other countries.According to the report, many Afro-descendant communities have little in common today, but all “share a long history of displacement and exclusion.”“Addressing the causes of structural discrimination is fundamental to fighting injustice and creating opportunities for all,” said Jorge Familiar, Vice President of the World Bank for Latin America and the Caribbean.The director of the World Bank for Central America, Seynabou Sakho, told AFP that the study is an effort for states and civil society to “join their voices and generate a level of urgency and pressure” to reduce inequality of Afro-descendant populations.More than 100 people attended the presentation of the report, including World Bank authorities, the mayor of La Ceiba and members of Afro-descendant communities.This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:China overtakes West in development funding to Latin America Owner of prominent Costa Rican massage parlor arrested on pimping charges Costa Rica holds Maduro regime responsible for diplomat’s safety Costa Rica inaugurates third meeting of International Contact Group on Venezuela, hosted in San José
A group of software engineers from leading software company Civica has run their latest Coding for Kids workshop at local Belfast school St Teresa’s Primary. The interactive coding day also involved a group of visiting teachers from a partner school in Nepal.Representatives from the British Council also attended the event to learn more about the Coding for Kids programme and the benefits of teaching school-age children about coding and future careers in the technology sector.Civica’s Coding for Kids programme aims to spark interest and awareness among children and young people about careers in the IT industry, run in partnership with schools across Northern Ireland. To date, more than 250 pupils have taken part in the fun and interactive sessions.At the workshops, children aged 9-11 are introduced to coding by using tablets to programme Sphero robots to travel through obstacle courses, before facing a judging panel. The workshops promote teamwork, leadership, and problem solving skills, along with showing children that a career in IT can be rewarding and inclusive to all. Coding for Kids sits within Civica’s wider cloud and software innovation programme involving schools, universities, partners and the company’s own global team of 2,000 technologists.Mark Owens, Managing Director, Civica Northern Ireland commented: “As a major IT employer in the region, it’s crucial that we are visible to young people across Northern Ireland and show that a career in technology is accessible. Our Coding for Kids programme consequently prepares the tech-curious children of today for becoming the digital leaders of tomorrow.“The digital sector in Northern Ireland is going from strength-to-strength but this will only continue if we can start with an early IT education for all our young people and get talent into tech earlier. As a diverse employer, we are also aiming to debunk stereotypes around a career in IT, showing that it is open to all.”A recent Tech Nation report showed that Belfast is now competing with London for digital talent, with vacancies in technology roles shown to have grown by 120% since 2015. The report also highlighted the Northern Irish capital as one of the best cities in the UK to work in technology and the best place to work as a software developer.Read more from Mark Owens on the importance of an earlier technology education here.
A brand-new conference has been launched which aims to help Northern Ireland’s marketers stay ahead of fast-moving digital trends.The inaugural Growth Marketing Live 2019 is targeted at marketing professionals who aspire to create data-driven campaigns that more effectively reach their target audiences in a crowded and noisy marketplace.The event, which will take place from 18th – 19th September in Life Church, Belfast, will feature a range of high-profile experts from the marketing world, including James McErlean, head of growth at world-leading mindfulness and meditation app Headspace, Christian Gladwell, CEO of M&C Saatchi Performance and Lia Bresnihan, VP of Marketing Roomex.More than 150 marketers expected to attendGrowth Marketing Live will give delegates access to technical training and will aim to educate marketers on the growing importance of SEO, paid social, data & analytics, growth hacking methods, and digital PR in order to capture an audience of more engaged customers.The event will feature a full day of technical training in digital & growth marketing subjects (18th September) followed by a conference on 19th September. The training will be delivered in partnership with leading local digital solutions providers such as; Big Motive, Glowmetrics, Continually, Speed Motion Films, MCE Public Relations and London based growth hacking consultancy Kurve.The event was founded by entrepreneur and experienced digital marketing professional Kevin Traynor to provide a resource for those looking to use evidence-based tactics to market their companies.He said: “As technology advances and platforms proliferate the role of the modern marketer is becoming more complex. Providing creative solutions for those complexities is proving more difficult in a saturated digital environment.“Creativity and technology are equally important for the modern marketer which is why we’re striving to ensure a diverse range of voices from different backgrounds are heard at the conference. For too long, homogeneous line-ups of middle-aged men have been the mainstay of events. Growth Marketing Live intends to feature a minimum 50% female line-up to guarantee a fully informed discussion takes place.”As part of the two-day conference, delegates will also undertake a Street Art Tour to motivate them to continue to take a creative approach to strategic campaigns by taking inspiration from unlikely places.For more information or to register for tickets, please visit: https://growthmarketinglive.com
By Richard BoaseBitcoin is an economic system for valuing information, and ‘Bitcoin Maximalism’ is a term that was first introduced to describe a bitcoin blockchain that could be used to store and reference any and all kinds of data.Due to a quirk of history, there are currently three competing chains in the bitcoin ecosphere which claim to be ‘The Real Bitcoin’. But only one meets the above definition of the Bitcoin Maximalist, and it isn’t BTC, or BCH, despite their claims to the contrary.Bitcoin SV, (BSV), led by Dr Craig S Wright, recently released the ‘OpenBSV’ licence which allows any developer to build their project on the BSV blockchain, whilst also introducing huge block sizes to the ecosystem on which to develop.This is true Bitcoin Maximalism, a vision of ‘The Blockchain’ as a replacement for ‘The Internet’, that provides a platform which anyone and everyone can build on, in order to transact and conduct their business.The value proposition to the market of a very large block-size should not, therefore, be underestimated, misunderstood or generally brushed aside. In fact, one could argue that Bitcoin’s ‘store of value’ (if not used as merely a contractual term), lies in the value of information stored on the blockchain, rather than being an inherent property caused by its scarcity.This is because a general purpose blockchain can be used to store and serve any kind of valuable data, and so it stands to reason that the market will both want and need to buy the native token, BSV, to store and retrieve their data from the blockchain giving it both value, use and accountability in the future economy.This development presents a world of opportunity to the wily speculator who’s interested in capitalising on its ‘store of value’ properties, but more importantly, it also provides real-world use cases for bitcoin as both a ‘medium of exchange’ and a ‘unit of account’.Much has been made by the BTC camp of Bitcoin’s use as a ‘store of value’ without actually providing any capacity for the blockchain itself to do things other than conducting large value transactions, mostly on exchanges.Similarly, the BCH camp (Bitcoin Cash) have made much of the use-case for bitcoin as a ‘medium of exchange’, focusing on uses outside of the information economy, whilst profoundly misunderstanding the original value proposition of Bitcoin, and how its economic model was intended to work at scale in the real world.Indeed, much of BTC’s ‘store of value’ qualities have been misattributed. Privacy advocates have inferred that total anonymity and un-traceability are desirable qualities in money, and thus that the more they hide the value of their wealth, the more wealthy they will become.Equally, so BCH advocates have asserted that since money must be useable as a medium of exchange, they should be able to use it anonymously to buy and sell goods and services on the black market, by providing extra protection to those who want to transact in the dark.Neither BTC nor BCH, being based on blockchain technology lends themselves well to total anonymity, so whilst there might be some market demand for these types of instruments, it is vastly overshadowed by the huge need and demand for transparency in accounting and finance in a global information economy, where data needs to be valued, bought and sold in both tiny quantities and vast quantities.As such, both BTC and BCH camps are aiming for the wrong target, a target which if they successfully hit, will most likely destroy their market valuations.In a sense, these two are trying to access the old ‘dark pools of liquidity’, the tax havens and offshore accounts which are mostly maintained by criminal networks for the purposes of money laundering.Neither, however, function as a way to store, value and serve information.
There is a data tsunami on the way and Ireland needs to create 21,000 data jobs by 2020 just to weather the onslaught.That is the stark warning from Data Analyst & Cyber Security expert Dr Liam Noonan, who is a programme leader at Limerick Institute of Technology’s Department Of Information Technology.Everything and everyone is now producing data – an estimated one thousand times more data than they produced just five years ago.Inter-County hurlers with GPS systems on their backs and hurleys in their hands are pucking out 100 pieces of data per second, or more than 420,000 units of data per match.Everything from the fridge to the phone, car to credit card, is collecting data and storing it in the cloud.As a result of this growing amount of data, the demand for a cybersecurity workforce is expected to rise to 6 million globally this year. Currently, the shortfall is projected at 1.5 million worldwide.And is not just in the area of cybersecurity that there is a workforce demand.According to the World Economic Forum, Data Analysts are expected to be in the “Top Ten Jobs in Demand” by 2020.There is a significant skills shortage in this profession in Ireland with over an 8 % growth in demand for more data analysts. Ireland, therefore, needs to create 21,000 jobs in data by 2020.Speaking about the need for more highly skilled data analysts, Dr Noonan, who is also Programme Leader of Data Analytics & Cyber Security at LIT, said it is vital that this new generation of data analysts are provided with the proper skill set to navigate ever-expanding Big Data.“Working with data is an ever-evolving but interesting occupation. When understood properly, data from the world around us can help us make better decisions for people, sports teams, communities and industry.“At LIT we have developed a degree that will give the students the skills to turn data into information, and information into insights. These valuable insights can then be applied by users as diverse as sports’ managers and coaches, scientists and industry leaders, governments and state agencies to make informed decisions,” he said.The Data Analytics & Cyber Security degree at LIT will enrol its first students this September and become part of the CAO process from next year.Dr Noonan, who has decades of experience working with data and computer programming, said the training of new data analysts must go beyond the collection and analysis of data.“Our new generation of programmers need to be able to write software that can extract useful information from the ever-growing amount of data available. But their skill set cannot stop there. They must also be able to store data safely, ensure it remains secure and that it stands up to the legislation of different jurisdictions – including GDPR.”“It is critically important that they understand how to protect such data. Up until very recently, most data was stored locally on a hard drive or an in-house server. Now, the majority of our data is stored in the cloud. Add to this the complication of the cloud’s server location and you have questions around the data projection rules of differing jurisdictions to consider,” added Dr Noonan.
Toast, the fastest-growing restaurant management platform in the U.S., today launched the opening of its new office in Dublin and officially announced plans to grow its headcount by adding 120 new roles focused on new product development for the company. The Irish site is the company’s first International Technology and Product development centre globally and was first established in 2017. Since then, the team has grown to over 40 staff members across engineering, development and support roles.The new office based in Ballast House on Westmoreland Street accommodates over 200 people and Toast is now hiring new recruits in software engineering, data analytics, product design and software development. The company is supported by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland.Commenting on his visit Dublin for the official opening, Hugh Scandrett, Senior Vice President of Engineering said, “The response to placing our first international office in Dublin has been positive and we look forward to growing our presence here. I look forward to expanding our team with talented people and developing products that will be central to Toast’s growth in the coming years. Dublin is a recognised technology hub in Europe which makes it the right location for our investment in this great new office.”Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys said, “I am delighted that Toast is substantially growing their presence here with 120 new roles being created at their new offices in Dublin. This expansion shows that we continue to have the right skills and talent available to enable exciting companies to grow and further embed their operations in Ireland. I wish them well for the future.”Mary Buckley, Executive Director of IDA Ireland, commented“IDA is delighted to support the growth plans for Toast in Dublin and welcomes the additional R&D investment for the technology ecosystem in Ireland. High growth international companies continue to be attracted to Ireland due to the ease of access to a talented workforce.”Interested candidates may find additional information on Toast career opportunities here.