Share NEW YORK (AP) – The first direct charter flights between New York City and Cuba took off from Havana en route to the John F Kennedy Airport today.Cuba Travel Services has started offering a weekly Tuesday charter between John F Kennedy International Airport and Havana. The flights are operated by Sun County Airlines, and cost $849 round-trip. The price includes airfare, Cuban medical insurance and US departure taxes.In January, the Obama administration announced it would be easing travel restrictions.Despite improving relations, tourism is still banned. Travelers must still declare a purpose that fits into one of the 12 approved categories, including family visits, government work and journalism. But most visitors no longer need to apply for a special license and wait for US government approval. Share 150 Views no discussions Tweet Sharing is caring! Share BusinessLifestyleTravel First direct flights between New York and Cuba took off today by: Associated Press – March 18, 2015
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw threw 3,428 pitches last year. Assuming he keeps that pace over the next seven seasons, he will be paid $8,959.83 for every pitch he throws.That’s an average of $33,778.55 per batter, $130,145.33 per inning, or $931,822.32 per start, based on Kershaw’s 2013 numbers.There might be a million ways to dissect a record $215 million contract, and it looks good any way you slice it.Dodgers president Stan Kasten has a feel for numbers, but Kershaw’s per-pitch salary won’t be rattling around in his head when the team officially announces the contract at 10 a.m. today. Early in Guggenheim’s tenure, Kasten vowed to rebuild the farm system through sound drafting and developing. It sounded on the surface like the Dodgers would not be among the league’s free spenders year in and year out. Yet already they have committed $173 million for 13 players in 2015, $162.3 million for 10 players in 2016, and are trying to extend star shortstop Hanley Ramirez’s contract. Ramirez is owed $16 million in 2014, the final year of his current contract.Two years ago, Kasten said he wasn’t thinking about the competitive-balance tax threshhold. “I still don’t think about it,” he said Thursday.Baseball’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires after the 2016 season. The CBA dictates that the Dodgers will be taxed 30 percent on every dollar spent on payroll over $189 million this year, then 40 percent in 2015 and 50 percent in 2016. By then, baseball will have a new commissioner and maybe a new set of priorities to work through in collective bargaining. Kasten said the future of luxury tax was not a hot topic of discussion at baseball’s owner’s meetings this week in Arizona. In the meantime, Kasten does not sound like a man intent on getting the Dodgers’ payroll below any threshholds.“I focus first and foremost on the product, on the team,” he said. “The economics will work out over time. We don’t look (payroll) as a single snapshot. This is a long-term business. This is a long process of many different things.”The Dodgers’ new Regional Sports Network deal with Time Warner Cable, valued variously between $6 and $8.5 billion over the next 25 years, allows for liberal spending. And the contract for Kershaw, arguably the game’s best pitcher at age 25, might have been the easiest to sign off on.Kershaw was the first high school player chosen in the 2006 draft, seventh overall. He rose through the Dodgers’ farm system in two years and quickly established himself as an ace. The left-hander is the greatest success story of an otherwise pedestrian farm system in the last decade, if not ever.That means something to the organization and the veteran baseball executive who now runs it. It will mean more if the Dodgers end their championship drought — up to 26 years and counting.“When we won a World Series in Atlanta in ‘95, the winning pitcher that night — Tommy Glavine — the guy who hit the only home run that night — David Justice — and the closer — Mark Wohlers — were scouted, trained and signed in-house,” Kasten said. “That’s a point of pride for us.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Maybe it should be. The Dodgers are expanding their team-record payroll higher each year, having blown through baseball’s $189 million luxury-tax threshhold for the first time last year. For 2014, the Dodgers have already committed at least $211 million to 22 players before factoring in the pro-rated portion of Kershaw’s reported $18 million signing bonus. They must also re-sign closer Kenley Jansen and catcher A.J. Ellis, who are eligible for arbitration.Add it up, and the Dodgers have a very good chance to eclipse their 2013 payroll of $236.9 million, reported by The Associated Press in November.“I don’t focus on payroll right now,” Kasten said. “I’m focused on building not just a team but an experience and a fanbase.”The cost of doing business is staggering. Guggenheim Baseball Management — a group including Kasten, chairman Mark Walter and Magic Johnson — has signed off on more than a billion dollars in player contracts since purchasing the team in April 2012. That includes contracts the Dodgers acquired via trade.But what about that competitive-balance tax threshhold?