By Dialogo April 27, 2009 Populist President Rafael Correa appeared headed for an outright election victory, according to partial results, which would make the leftist economist the first Ecuadorean president in 30 years to be chosen without a runoff vote. Correa won 51 percent of the vote in an eight-candidate field in Sunday’s election, according to unofficial results based on more than three-quarters of ballots cast. Official results put Correa at 49 percent with 11 percent of the votes counted. Correa had vowed upon first taking office in January 2007 to rid this small, traditionally unstable Andean nation of a corrupt political class that had for decades siphoned off oil wealth. Now, he could have eight more years in power managing a government that gets 40 percent of its budget from a distressed petroleum industry. Ecuador’s oil revenues plunged 67 percent in the first quarter. Added to the pain is a drop of more than one-fifth the value of remittances from Ecuadoreans abroad. The International Monetary Fund predicts Ecuador’s economy will shrink by 2 percent this year. Correa claimed victory Sunday evening, and he, his ministers and close advisers celebrated by singing their party anthem, dancing and pumping their fists in the air. “It is our pledge to eradicate misery and leave a more just, fair and dignified country — with greater solidarity,” Correa told supporters. An unofficial count of 77 percent of the vote by the independent, nonpartisan citizens’ group Participacion Cuidadana gave Correa 51 percent to 28 percent for former president and coup leader Lucio Gutierrez, his closest competitor. With a little more than 11 percent of the vote counted, official results gave Correa 49 percent compared to about 31 percent for Gutierrez. Banana magnate Alvaro Noboa, whom Correa defeated in a 2006 runoff, had 11 percent. To win without forcing a runoff, a candidate needed either 50 percent of the vote plus one or at least 40 percent with a 10-point margin over his closest competitor. Sunday’s elections were mandated under a new constitution voters approved in September that, in addition to giving Correa greater control over spending and the central bank, makes him eligible to run in 2013 for another four-year term. Voters also chose a new 124-seat National Assembly — six seats of which will directly represent the Ecuadorean diaspora — as well as governors and mayors. Exit polls indicated Correa’s Alianza Pais party and allies won a majority in the new congress. Correa, 46, blames the global economic crisis on capitalism’s “structural flaws” and has alienated foreign investors by defaulting on foreign debt payments and for his hard bargaining with oil companies and other multinationals. He’s also imposed, mostly as tariffs, some of the world’s strictest protectionist measures. That has put imported goods out of reach for many consumers. But Correa has firm lower-class allegiance. He has tripled state spending on education and health care and doubled a monthly payment for single mothers. The new constitution guarantees free education through university. Many who voted for Gutierrez said they blamed Correa for rising unemployment, which hit 8.6 percent in the first quarter, and inflation now running at 7.4 percent annually. “Correa’s ability to manage expectations will be put to a test,” said Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington. “His government may have little choice but to resort to the same international financial institutions that had been the target of his political attacks.” Correa severed ties with the IMF in 2007, calling it exploitative of countries like Ecuador for imposing loan requirements that benefit bankers and private interests at the expense of the poor. But like many Latin America nations these days, he is accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from multinational leaders including the Inter-American Development Bank. He could also lean on China. It recently offered Ecuador a $1 billion loan to help it deal with an estimated $1.5 billion budget deficit this year. Private international lenders were upset by Correa’s defaulting on interest payments representing 32 percent of Ecuador’s $10.1 billion in foreign debt. But Ecuadoreans may win out. Correa’s government said last week that it would seek to buy that debt back at a 30 cents on the dollar.
Sugarbush Resort,Thanks to a 300-inch snowfall year, Sugarbush will remain open through Easter Sunday on April 24, 2011 â ¦ at least.To celebrate the long spring season, Sugarbush is announcing deep lift ticket and lodging discounts, including free skiing and riding for the rest of the spring for purchasers of 2011-2012 season passes. ‘We’re feeling the positive aftershocks of the third snowiest winter on record here in Vermont,’ said Sugarbush president and owner Win Smith. ‘The mountain still has a superb amount of snow, and with warmer weather here it’s just a fabulous, fun time to be on the hill.’ The special spring deals at Sugarbush include: · Free skiing or riding for the rest of the 2011 spring, for those who buy a 2011-2012 season pass (All Mountain 7, Mount Ellen Plus, Fancy Pass, or College Pass· $48 per person, per night, spring vacation lodging packages at the luxurious Clay Brook slopeside hotel. · $199 Spring Passes that are good for the remainder of the 2010-2011 season. Sugarbush’s Lincoln Peak is 100% open, with 72 trails of skiing and riding, including daily grooming on select trails.For details on any of the discounts or for up-to-date ski reports, log on to www.sugarbush.com(link is external)
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continue reading » This month, drive-thrus made national news as cities from coast to coast passed ordinances to ban future development. The rationale is to improve pedestrian safety and the quality of urban living, reduce carbon emissions and help eliminate litter (and, in the case of fast food drive-thrus, attempt to reduce obesity). CO2 emissions are often the leading reason—think about how willing we are to wait in our idling cars for a Starbucks almond macchiato or a McDonald’s Big Mac.David Byrne (from the band The Talking Heads) offers “reasons to be cheerful” in his blog, saying: “Is there anything more absurd than a car in a city? A clunky, oversized contraption awkwardly maneuvering through a confined urban space, like an elephant using a phone booth. No wonder more and more cities are taking steps to cut down on driving. Streets are for transit, bikes and human beings, and you’ll never convince us otherwise.” He concludes: “They’re dangerous, destructive, polluting, expensive, inefficient and inequitable. Now cars are being taken off city streets. That’s progress.”This sentiment is evident across the country as cities replace car lanes with bicycle paths and consider charging a fee to drive downtown. But, like all things, reality is a spectrum of environments and situations; drive-thrus still have a place at some restaurants, drug stores and financial institutions, both in and outside of urban centers. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York By Rashed Mian and Timothy BolgerRepublican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s scheduled appearance at a Suffolk County Republican Committee fundraiser this week in Patchogue near where an immigrant was killed in a hate crime nearly eight years ago has sparked outrage among advocacy groups and the victim’s family.Trump’s appearances frequently attract demonstrations wherever he goes, but members of the Patchogue community say Thursday’s event at The Emporium is particularly unsettling, given his controversial statements on immigration issues during the campaign. The venue is a short distance from where 37-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero was slain by a group of teenagers in 2008, revealing deep fissures within the community after it emerged they beat Hispanic immigrants for sport, dubbing it “beaner hopping.” Jeffrey Conroy, who was 17 at the time, is serving 25 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime in the attack, and his six co-defendants were convicted of lesser offenses.“I think it’s really insensitive…because its just three blocks away from where my brother was killed,” Joselo Lucero, Marcelo’s brother, told the Press. “To have somebody—which I believe he’s a bully, he’s reckless, he’s anti-immigrant—I don’t think it’s the right thing.”Suffolk County Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle has said the $150-per seat event, which will have more than 1,000 in attendance, was scheduled two months in advance, but Trump wasn’t confirmed until a week ago. The Suffolk GOP regularly hold events at the night club and music venue owned by Frank Profeta, a local Conservative Party committeeman who testified last month at ex-Suffolk Conservative chair Ed Walsh’s federal fraud trial. LaValle and his counterpart to the west, Nassau County Republican Chairman Joseph Mondello, have endorsed Trump for the GOP presidential nomination.“We believe this is an important part of the political process and is protected by the First Amendment,” LaValle said in a statement. “The Committee looks forward to continuing this tradition this Thursday night…And while we offer the greatest empathy possible to the family of Marcelo Lucero, who was brutally murdered by a group of teens in 2008, we can’t help but to be suspicious of the motives of those leading the charge to connect that vicious hate crime with Mr. Trump’s commitment to enforcement of immigration laws that have gone largely ignored by both parties, for 30 years.”Suffolk County police and Village of Patchogue officials said they are coordinating with the Secret Service and community organizations to prepare for protesters expected to flood the area for anti-Trump demonstrations.“We will not tolerate any lawlessness,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini told reporters Wednesday during a news conference at police headquarters in Yaphank. “Let’s remember that in this country, we are all entitled to express ourselves peacefully. We’re all entitled to our opinion.”He said extra police, including undercover officers, will be patrolling the area. The commissioner also urged drivers to avoid the area since roads will be closed surrounding the venue Thursday, including Railroad Avenue, South Street and Second Street. Vehicles parked near the venue will be towed and the Long Island Rail Road’s Patchogue station parking lot will be closed.“Because of where it’s at, there’s a raised level of awareness on the immigration issue,” said Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri, who said he isn’t happy about the event but didn’t ask the Republicans to move it, citing their First Amendment rights.Also exercising their freedom of speech will be Lucero’s brother and several groups that have planned vigils and protests, including one called “Make America LOVE Again,” which will double as a fundraiser for the Marcelo Lucero Award Fund.It didn’t take long for Trump’s appearance to draw a withering rebuke from immigrant groups as well as The New York Times editorial board, which called it “a wretched development, a disgraceful provocation by the Suffolk County Republicans and their chairman, John Jay LaValle.”Lucero’s death still hangs over the community, and it was only two years ago that Suffolk police settled a U.S. Department of Justice probe into whether the department did enough to prevent hate crimes against Hispanics before Lucero was killed.Opponents say the event is deeply insensitive because of Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric on the issue of immigration. During his campaign rallies, he routinely reads the lyrics to “The Snake”, an Al Wilson song, while comparing Syrian refugees to deadly serpents. He reiterated that part of his speech during a massive rally in Bethpage last week.Marcelo Lucero was killed in a hate crime in Patchogue in 2008.“Trump’s campaign is filled with hate speech against immigrants and we don’t feel his hate speech belongs in Patchogue,” reads an anti-Trump rally event posting on Facebook from Long Island Progressive Coalition.An event posting for the Lucero fundraiser at 89 North Music Venue said they intend to celebrate diversity with the help of local performers.“We, the people of Patchogue, are joining together to demonstrate our commitment to building bridges, not walls,” the post reads.The historic Congregational Church of Patchogue announced it’s holding a 15-minute silent rally and vigil dedicated to “Peace, Love & Understanding.”“I think it’s important for people to have an opportunity to stop talking and to just sit wordlessly, silently, in silence for a period of time,” Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter, the church’s pastor, told the Press. The Congregational Church was the site of Lucero’s funeral.Wolter believes a few minutes of silent reflection could be just as empowering as opponents trying to “outshout” one another.“See if there’s any healing in silence,” he said. “Silence is a very potent tool.”The church’s long-time pastor said he’s a “firm believer in free speech” and believes in those opposed to several of Trump’s positions could learn from what he has to say. However, he said, “Any reasonable person would not only move that venue but would look good for having done so…I think it would make Trump look reasonable.”Sini and Pontieri noted that since the event isn’t moving, it will give Patchogue a chance to show the world how far they’ve come since 2008, when news of Lucero’s slaying gave the South Shore village and Suffolk a national reputation of being as a hotbed of anti-immigration fervor.“The Village of Patchogue…has come a long way in recent years and tomorrow’s a good benchmark for that progress,” Sini said. “I’m very confident that we’ll show to the world… that here we respect each other, we treat each other with respect and dignity and we can peacefully express ourselves.”Pontieri added: “The sense of community is much greater now than it was then.”Trump has been criss-crossing New York State with the hope that his home turf would help him win more delegates in his effort to clinch the GOP presidential nomination over U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ohio Governor John Kasich.One of Trump’s most provocative proposals is to compel Mexico to pay for a wall that would keep undocumented immigrants from crossing the southern border into the United States.“I love the Mexican people, I love Hispanics,” Trump said during his campaign stop in Bethpage before his fans began chanting “Build the wall!” He then asked the crowd, “Who’s going to build the wall?” The crowd shouted back: “Mexico!”Joselo Lucero said the event is “reckless.”“I think he should not even speak in Suffolk County at all, period,” he said.