Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements LONDON (AP) – A lawyer for an exiled Russian oligarch has disclosed that his client gave financial assistance to a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II over several years.Lawyer Mark Hastings said in a statement that Boris Berezovsky is a longstanding friend of the prince and never sought or obtained any benefit from the friendship. The prince’s spokesman, Simon Astaire, stressed that the payments were “conducted properly” and that all relevant tax was paid. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like The statement was issued after The Sunday Times reported that the Russian tycoon sent Prince Michael a total of 320,000 pounds (US$514,320) through offshore companies from 2002 to 2008.According to Buckingham Palace, Prince Michael is not in the line of succession to the throne and receives no public money.Berezovsky, a critic of President Vladimir Putin, has lived in Britain since 2003.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 0 Comments Share New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean
Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Still, it is proving impossible to legally link the Assad government to the attacks.The world agency in charge of determining whether chlorine was used does not have the mandate to assign blame. The Organization for the Proliferation of Chemical Weapons also can’t get to the scenes of suspected attacks without the cooperation of the Syrian government, while testimonies or evidence collected by people on the ground are considered circumstantial. The U.N. Security Council is paralyzed because Russia, a major ally of Assad, insists the allegations are “propaganda.”The Syrian Civil Defense, a group of 2,640 volunteers that provides emergency and rescue services in rebel-held and contested areas, has been gathering evidence to document the recent attacks, said Farouq Habib, the group’s political adviser. He and the group’s director, Raed Saleh, returned this week from the United States, where they met U.S. and European officials.They collected remains from the barrels used in a number of bombings, soil samples that the group says show high levels of chlorine traces and urine and blood samples from victims.“The samples are valuable for the Syrian people because they document the crimes committed against it,” Habib said in a telephone interview. “It is there and documented and saved but will only be presented after putting together a legal case that guarantees it is used in an effective way to indict the criminal who used chlorine against the Syrian people.” Sponsored Stories BEIRUT (AP) — With only a cloth mask for protection, Firas Kayali rushed to try to rescue the residents of a house in a village in rebel-held northern Syria after a barrel bomb, suspected to be filled with chlorine gas, hit nearby.Once a house painter and now a member in a volunteer rescue team, Kayali tried once, twice, three times to break into the house, but he was overcome by the gas and passed out. Only 20 minutes later, after the gas dissipated, was the team able to get into the house. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Inside, they found a toddler dead, still wrapped in his blankets in bed, Kayali told The Associated Press, recounting the May 2 attack. The child’s father died a few days later, his lungs collapsed, in a hospital near the Turkish border.“I blamed myself first. But then again I go back and say if we had equipment and outfits, maybe,” Kayali said. “Then again, ‘if’ will not change anything now. … God destined and what he destined happened.”Frustrated and despairing, Syrian opposition activists are trying to garner international pressure to stop a growing number of attacks using chlorine gas, which they say are undoubtedly carried out by government aircraft.Two years after President Bashar Assad agreed to destroy his chemical arsenal and joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, activists say they have documented 18 cases of chlorine gas used in the country’s rebel-held north since March 6, when the United Nations issued a resolution determining that chlorine was used in Syria and warning of repercussions. They say the attacks have killed nine people and injured hundreds.The Syrian government denies using chlorine gas. But activists and residents of the villages hit say the attacks, usually at night, are clearly by government forces. The chlorine bombs are dropped in barrels from the skies, and residents say they hear the buzz of helicopters first. Syrian military forces are the only combatants in the civil war known to fly helicopters, and the villages hit are pro-rebel, largely in the northwestern province of Idlib. “People used to think that by digging underground vaults that they would be safe,” he said. But he said a recent attack that killed six saw a barrel land in the ventilation shaft of a bomb shelter.“We will end up dying one by one, and no one is aware of us,” he said.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments Share Kelsey Davenport, the director of nonproliferation policy at the Washington-based advocacy group Arms Control Association, said that while the use of helicopters points to Assad’s government, negotiating access for a formal investigation with a mandate to assign blame is difficult.“If a designated body has the authority to determine who is responsible for the chlorine attacks, the Assad regime is unlikely to cooperate, or provide security assurances,” Davenport said.Speaking to reporters, U.S. President Barack Obama said last week that his administration will work with the international community to investigate the claims but has stayed clear of threatening action. Obama threatened military strikes after 2013 sarin gas attacks blamed on Assad in Damascus suburbs that killed hundreds, but later backed off amid a Russian deal that saw Assad agree to destroy his chemical weapons.Saleh and other Syrian opposition figures are campaigning for a no-fly zone, or safe zones, to protect the civilians against future attacks. But over the course of the 4-year-old civil war, there’s been no appetite in the U.S. or its allies to enforce such a zone.Kayali, the medic, said even precautions taken by civilians to avoid government bombing have become lethal. 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Habib said his group has offered the OCPW to either take the samples in a handover over the border with Turkey or to host its staffers on visits of areas of suspected attacks.Deliberations are underway over a U.S. proposal to set up a parallel commission of inquiry that would be mandated to determine blame.Details of the proposal have not yet been made public, but Saleh said the new commission is likely to face the same obstacles. For example, he said, only those who reach the scene of an attack immediately would be able to document a case. “We all know the gas effect doesn’t last for more than a few hours,” he said.That’s one reason, experts say, Assad continues to use the gas.When used with the intent to hurt or kill, chlorine is considered a chemical weapon, but chlorine itself, used for industrial or domestic purposes, is not included in a state’s declaration of chemical weapons.“The regime thinks that if there were documentations of samples contaminated with chlorine gas, it can claim it is in homes or that anyone has used it,” Habib said.Government officials last year accused the militant group Nusra Front of detonating containers with chlorine, but offered no proof. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement FILE – In this Oct. 8, 2013 file photo, a convoy of chemical weapons disarmament experts depart the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus, Syria. Two years after President Bashar Assad agreed to destroy his chemical arsenal and joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, activists said they have documented 18 cases of chlorine gas used in the country’s rebel-held north since March 6, 2015, when the U.N. issued a resolution determining that chlorine was used in Syria and warning of repercussions. (AP Photo, File) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober
True to its inspiration, Blue Bottle is learning from Japan, said Andrew Smith, 29, of San Francisco, a barista and one of three Americans who came to work for the chain in Japan.“People here have different ways of conceptualizing about coffee so they taste things differently,” Smith said.“They are looking for different kinds of things in coffee. And that is a fun way to learn how everyone in the world perceives coffee differently.”___Follow Yuri Kageyama: http://twitter.com/yurikageyamaCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Founder James Freeman, a musician, was inspired by Japan’s old-style “kissaten” coffee-shops: tiny dimly-lit establishments, with good music and a barista behind a wooden counter. Think places for quiet serious thinking and real drip coffee, not sweet, frivolous drinks.“We care about every part of the coffee. We call it from seed to cup,” said Saki Igawa, the business operations manager for Blue Bottle in Japan.Attention to detail that dovetails with aspects of Japanese culture accounts for part of the coffee chain’s early popularity. The spread of Starbucks internationally, which has created a cookie-cutter coffee culture that some people want to trade up from, is another factor. Blue Bottle is also benefiting from the image problems in Japan of fast food chains and highly processed foods.“It’s a new era in eating out,” said food industry consultant Jotaro Fujii who contends that Blue Bottle’s arrival and the decline of McDonald’s in Japan is part of a bigger trend of consumer interest in the safety and quality of the entire food supply chain.McDonald’s is suffering declining popularity in Japan, a problem exacerbated after plastic pieces, and even a tooth, was found in its food last year, setting off outrage among consumers. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Upscale burger chain Shake Shack, which started as a hot dog stand in New York, is expected to arrive in Japan soon, said Fujii.Such chains, including Blue Bottle, are likely to aim for 50 or at most 100 outlets in Japan, not the thousands that fast-food eateries, such as McDonald’s, has achieved here, he said.Instead, they will focus on fortifying a brand image, which can lead to other kinds of lucrative businesses.Although the prevalent image of Japan might be tea, it has long had plenty of affection for coffee.Starbucks has been a hit since arriving in 1995. It now has more than 1,000 shops in Japan. Not a single prefecture (state) is without a Starbucks with one opening in holdout Tottori Prefecture this month — not surprisingly, welcomed with long lines.Even convenience stores are serving freshly brewed coffee. Japan also invented “manga-kissa,” or a cafe-cum-library, where you can curl up with a comic book and sip on coffee for hours.Such newcomers have hammered the once omnipresent kissaten. Their numbers have dropped by half from the 1980s, or to 77,000 in 2009, according to a Japanese government study.But Blue Bottle’s popularity is part of a rediscovery of cafes serving carefully prepared, quality coffee, a trend already long evident in the U.S. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments Share In this April 27, 2015 photo, a barista brews coffee at a Blue Bottle Coffee shop in Tokyo. Japan, famous for green tea, is welcoming artisanal American coffee roaster Blue Bottle with long lines that have at times meant a four-hour wait for a cup. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama) How men can have a healthy 2019 Patients with chronic pain give advice Top Stories Top holiday drink recipes TOKYO (AP) — Japan, famous for green tea, is welcoming artisanal American coffee roaster Blue Bottle with long lines that have at times meant a four-hour wait for a cup.The company, which began in Oakland, California in 2002, hopes its early popularity is more than a passing fad. Japan’s consumer culture is littered with manias for Western food imports: pancakes, popcorn, doughnuts, even Taco Bell.Success in Japan is important for Blue Bottle, which operates 17 cafes in the San Francisco Bay area, New York and Los Angeles. Japan is its first foray outside of the U.S. Blue Bottle raised nearly $26 million last year to invest in expansion, including financing from Silicon Valley executives, setting the stage for a test of whether an artsy gourmet coffee chain can go big. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Blue Bottle’s first Japan shop, which has a roaster, is in Kiyosumi, an older part of Tokyo, chosen because it reminded Freeman, the founder, of Oakland. It opened in February. The second shop, in a backstreet of Tokyo’s fashionable Omotesando, opened in March.A third, likely opening later this year in Tokyo’s Daikanyama shopping area, will feature a menu that reflects Blue Bottle’s recent acquisition of San Francisco-based Tartine Bakery, which serves croissants, sandwiches and pastries.Blends such as “Giant Steps,” combining African and Indonesian-grown beans for a chocolate taste, sell for 450 yen ($3.75) a cup. A latte costs 520 yen ($4.30).On a recent day, the Blue Bottle shop in Kiyosumi, Tokyo, was filled with sunlight pouring through huge windows, the hum of a giant roaster, the fragrant aroma of fresh coffee and a crowd of people.Takuya Nakagawa, a 39-year-old hairdresser, who came all the way from rural Toyama Prefecture (state), was impressed with the coffee’s taste and the store’s stylish stark decor. He bought granola and coffee beans as souvenir gifts.“I just love the taste,” he said. “This kind of place doesn’t exist in Toyama.”
Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Defenders of the bombings say it alleviated the need for a land invasion of Japan that would have cost many American lives. The precise death tolls from the bombings are unknown, but it is believed about 200,000 people were killed.On the 50th anniversary, controversy surrounded an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, Aug. 6, 1945. The 1995 exhibit was scaled back dramatically because of U.S. veterans’ protests that it portrayed the Japanese as victims, rather than as aggressors.That year, Peter Kuznick, director of American University’s Nuclear Studies Institute, responded to the controversy by staging an exhibition of artifacts the Smithsonian would not. Doing so at a private institution, and not a government-funded one, made it less contentious.He’s reprising that effort, 20 years later, with a display scheduled to run from Saturday through Aug. 16. It includes six pictures on folding screens by the late Iri and Toshi Maruki, a husband-and-wife team whose powerful depictions of nuclear horrors, known as the Hiroshima Panels, are being shown in the U.S. capital for the first time.In an adjacent room are 25 artifacts collected from the debris — a rosary, a glass fragment removed from the flesh of a casualty, a container of sake, a student’s cap and a student’s shoe. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Most haunting is “Crows,” a picture in black ink which depicts birds picking at the corpses of Koreans, reflecting the discrimination they faced even in death. The picture’s caption, a verse penned by the artists, says the Korean bodies “were left on the streets to the very last.”“Not only are we portraying the Japanese as victims, we’re also portraying the Japanese as victimizers. That in no way mitigates the American responsibility for using atomic bombs, but it does complicate the narrative a little bit,” Kuznick said.Jan Thompson, president of the American Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor Memorial Society, which advocates for American former prisoners of war of the Japanese, said atomic bombs were a tragedy that no one should celebrate. She said she has not seen the exhibition yet but was concerned it would promote the view that that use of the bombs was not justified.Kuznick said he has faced no opposition so far to this year’s exhibition.But a seminar June 23 associated with the exhibition that will discuss President Harry Truman’s decision to use the bomb and its historical implications could raise hackles. Top Stories Comments Share Men’s health affects baby’s health too The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum have provided an explanatory account of the bombings with photos, including panoramas of the two leveled cityscapes and images of the victims.Yoshiko Hayakawa, who brought the panels from a gallery outside Tokyo, said it had been difficult to find a venue willing or able to display them in the United States. They were last shown in the U.S. in 1995, in Minnesota.“They go right to the heart of people who wish for long-lasting peace and for a ban on nuclear weapons,” she said.Kuznick said the primary aim of the exhibition is to portray the human suffering caused by the atomic bombings that ushered in an era in which absolute destruction of the planet became possible and “nobody’s future is guaranteed anymore.”He lamented that Americans — including undergraduates he teaches — have become less aware since the end of the Cold War about the devastating impact a nuclear conflict would have.“Part of why we’re doing this is because the danger has not really passed, and it’s important that people focus on it again,” he said.The exhibition shows not only Japanese suffering. Two of the Hiroshima Panels on display portray the death of American prisoners of war and Korean forced laborers in the bombings. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Panelists include historians, including Kuznick, who question whether the United States needed to do so to end the war with Japan, and whether it was intended as a warning to the Soviet Union, a wartime ally that would emerge as a rival superpower.____Online:Exhibit: http://www.american.edu/cas/museumCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. WASHINGTON (AP) — As the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches, a new museum exhibition provides a different perspective on the end of the conflict — one in which Japanese were the victims.That has the potential to upset American veterans, especially at a time of intensifying focus on Japan’s reluctance to face up to its militaristic past.The American University Museum is showcasing artifacts and art recalling the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: a pocket watch that stopped at 8:15 a.m., when the first atomic bomb dropped; a picture of twisted bodies and screaming faces engulfed by the flames; the school lunch box of a girl who disappeared without trace. 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober In this photo taken June 10, 2015, a 1955 paper and Indian ink artwork called “Petition” is displayed at the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Exhibition at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in northwest Washington, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The exhibition is opening on June 13th. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
She later told The Associated Press that she has been inspired by education rights campaigners such as Mezon, whom she first met last year in Zaatari, another camp in Jordan. In December, Mezon attended the Nobel ceremony in Oslo at Malala’s invitation.Syrian refugee children face many challenges, Malala said in an interview. “Many young girls they get married at a very young age, boys — their parents send them for child labor” because the adults can’t find work, she said.Malala, who lives with her family in Birmingham in Britain, celebrated her 18th birthday on Sunday while opening a school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.Asked about her plans for the future, now that she is an adult, Malala said: “I want to get more familiar with British culture and live there for a few years, so I think for a bachelor’s (degree) I should stay at Oxford and for a master’s I should go to another country.”She said her activism keeps her busy and that “I don’t have time to think of anything else.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Since the 2011 outbreak of Syria’s conflict, more than 4 million Syrians have fled their country, most settling in neighboring countries such as Jordan. Aid agencies asked for $4.5 billion for 2015 to help refugees, but have been forced to slash support programs because of large funding gaps. Studies have indicated that growing numbers of refugee children are working to help support their desperate families. Early marriage among refugee girls also is on the rise.Malala, who rose to fame after being shot by the Taliban in her native Pakistan in 2012 for insisting on her right to education, said the world must do more to help the refugees.“There are rich countries in this world, there are world leaders who can afford spending money on weapons, who can afford spending money on the war that is going on in Syria,” she said in a speech at the Azraq community center. She said these countries and leaders have been “quite stingy” when it comes to spending on education and that shifting resources to schools is “the only way we can achieve success.”“This is why we are here to ask world leaders to treat the rest of the world’s children as their own children,” she added. AZRAQ REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan (AP) — Rich countries should spend less on weapons in the Syrian civil war and more on education, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai said Monday, calling world leaders “quite stingy” as she toured a camp for the conflict’s refugees.Malala, a champion for girls’ education rights, was joined in Azraq camp by Mezon al-Melihan, a 17-year-old refugee who has been urging girls to stay in school. Malala and Mezon, an Azraq resident, walked hand-in-hand through the camp, made up of rows of white, prefabricated shelters that’s home to close to 20,000 refugees. The teens spoke to school girls, played on a swing set and kicked around a soccer ball. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories Check your body, save your life New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 How do cataracts affect your vision? Comments Share Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Mesa family survives lightning strike to home
Air New Zealand Chief executive officer Rob Fyfe has confirmed a three year partnership between the airline and the Department of Conservation (DOC), an important expansion of the airline’s environment strategy.Worth equivalent $1 million annually to the DOC, the partnership will allow travel and marketing support of new conservation programs and help promote New Zealand’s natural tourism to domestic and international tourists like never before.New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was accompanied at the announcement by Mr Fefe and other key members, the minister of conservation Kate Wilkinson, DOC director-general Al Morrison and Air New Zealand and DOC staff.Major sponsorship of the Great Walks by Air New Zealand’s incorporates nine of New Zealand’s finest tracks; Rakiura, Kepler, Milford, Routeburn, Heaphy, Abel Tasman Coast, Whanganui River Journey, Tongariro and Lake Waikaremoana. As a part of DOC’s active recovery programmes and under the new agreement, Air New Zealand will also be responsible for the transportation of threatened species (birds, reptiles and invertebrates) to safe new breeding sites around the country.DOC director-general Al Mr Morrison said the partnership was ‘natural’ with a forward thinking company that sees the real value of conservation. “Air New Zealand understands that looking after the things that make New Zealand unique is good for their business,” Mr Morrison said.“Whether it is help transporting threatened species or getting more people out experiencing the value of our National Parks, Air New Zealand will be investing in its own future as well as New Zealand’s.”Mr Fyfe expressed excitement as the opportunity builds on Air New Zealand’s ongoing focus of reducing the environmental footprint and protecting New Zealand’s natural assets. Marketing plans for the Great Walks by the airline include flight and hut packages and high-end group experiences on conservation land. Promoting this is planned through its million strong frequent flyer database, significant local and international marketing and social media activity.Plans of a global competition labelled “The Great Walker” will launch in two months. The winner will have the opportunity to visit New Zealand and take on the challenge of completing all nine Great Walks in nine weeks. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W
The Murray Regional Tourism Board (MRTB) congratulates RACV Cobram Resort for winning the Hanging Rock Winery Award for Tourist and Caravan Parks category at the 2012 Victorian Tourism Awards (VTA) last night.Held at Palladium at Crown on Monday 19 November, the VTA received 15 Murray entrants from across the region, including 12 operators participating in the program for the first time.MRTB CEO Mark Francis is delighted that operators from the Murray are being recognised state-wide for their high standard of business excellence and innovation.“RACV Cobram Resort is a testament to the high quality tourism experiences on offer right across the Murray region and MRTB is proud to see them recognised as the very best Tourist and Caravan Park in the state.”The following entrants were acknowledged for exceptional submissions as Finalists in their category:Sun Country on the Murray – Tourism Marketing Echuca Paddlesteamers – Victoria Tourism Industry Council Award for Heritage and Cultural Tourism Moama on the Murray Resort – HOSTPLUS Award for Standard Accommodation Barmah Forest Heritage and Education Centre – Crown Hotels Award for New Tourism Development Greater Shepparton Visitor Information Centre – City of Melbourne Award for Visitor Information and Services“MRTB is proud to be working with industry leading operators and will continue to support excellence in tourism products and infrastructure”“First time Murray entrants Aspen Parks – Boathaven Holiday Park, Kids Fest, Red Golf, Southern 80’s Waterski Championships, Winter Blues Festival submissions were also outstanding given this was their first year being involved.”RACV Cobram Resort will go on to compete nationally at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards in February 2013.The MRTB works in partnership with Tourism Victoria, Destination New South Wales and 15 local government areas with an aim to enable more effective development of tourism within the Murray region. Source = The Murray Regional Tourism Board
Qantas share values have sunk to their lowest levels in more than a year, causing a trading halt, owing to the potential AU$300 million first-half losses that were announced earlier this week. “Assets sales could alleviate some pressure but are unlikely in the near term… we believe the only option appears to be Federal Government intervention.” During trading, almost 100 million Qantas shares changed hands, reducing the market value of the airline’s stock by AU$300 million to AU$2.3 billion at the close of business yesterday. “All options are on the table and it covers everything,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said. “The loss is larger than expected,” Above the Index Asset Management fund manager David Liu said. Source = ETB News: P.T. The ASX has accepted a request from Qantas to place the company in a Trading Halt Session State until an announcement is released to the market or 10 December 2013. Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Matthew Spence said he expects Qantas to make a pre-tax underlying loss of AU$868 million for the year to June 2014. While global ratings agency Moody’s put the airline on review for a downgrade, the company’s vice president Arnon Musiker said Qantas’ cost-cutting actions should provide credit support. “Qantas’ investment grade rating is clearly at risk now… maybe the government needs to step in and assist.” At one stage Qantas share values were reduced by AU$460 million, the Courier Mail reported.
Melbourne Airport presented a summary of its performance over the past year, developments in progress and a new corporate vision at the Melbourne Town Hall on Monday night.“Despite the challenges faced by the industry over the last year, we’ve welcomed more passengers, new airlines and new services to Melbourne Airport,” Melbourne Airport chief executive officer Chris Woodruff said.The airport saw its number of passengers increase by four percent in 2013-2014 to a total of 31 million passengers (7.75 million of international passengers and 23.3 million of domestic passengers), with Asia driving the international growth, mainly thanks to China being the most important long haul market.Melbourne Airport is also the only major Australian airport that saw its air freight imports and exports grow, attributed to the large volume of Victorian merino breeding rams exports to China.The Airport’s capital expenditure for the 2013-2014 period increased by 67 per cent to AUD $420 million, transforming the region’s economy and creating more jobs.In the framework of a ten year investment period, another $700 million should be invested next year for a new domestic terminal, a ground transport hub, 21 extra aircraft parking bays, an expansion of the international terminal and significant road network upgrades.Mr Woodruff also presented a new corporate vision.“Our transformation is more than just a physical one and to recognise this, our new corporate vision is to be Australia’s airport of choice by delivering a superior customer experience.“We’re focusing on making the customer journey more seamless, more intuitive and more welcoming as we bring more of a sense of our world renowned liveability to the airport and we want people to remember their experience at Melbourne Airport – for all the right reasons.”The Federal Government approved the 2013 Master Plan, the Airport’s long term planning and development guide, including environment and ground transport strategies as well as processes for the runway development program.Safety and security remain a priority on the agenda, the Airport reaching all of the regulatory requirements and providing a secure environment with a decline in its injury frequency rate.Mr Woodruff hopes for more satisfactory results for international air services agreements, which would be beneficial for the region’s tourism, business and education sectors that highly rely on international visitors but also for export opportunities.Source = ETB News: Jessica Handyside
NRMA enters into agreement to acquire leading holiday park operatorNRMA enters into agreement to acquire leading holiday park operatorThe NRMA has reached an agreement to acquire Australian Tourist Park Management (ATPM) in a move that will see the mobility group significantly increase its travel and tourism portfolio in Australia.ATPM has been a leader in the management and ownership of Holiday Parks around Australia for over 20 years and it currently successfully manages NRMA’s portfolio of four award-winning holiday parks at the Gold Coast, Darlington Beach, Merimbula and Umina and its three franchise parks at Murramarang, Myall Shores and Sydney Lakeside on the Northern Beaches.This month, NRMA’s Treasure Island Holiday Park at the Gold Coast was voted best hotel for families in Australia by Trip Advisor, with NRMA’s Umina Holiday Park ranked seventh nationally. ATPM also manages other well-known parks and resorts for RACWA in WA, including Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort and Ningaloo Reef Resort, as well as iconic NSW destinations, such as Jindabyne Holiday Park, Breakwall in Port Macquarie and Stockton near Newcastle.With a successful acquisition, the NRMA’s portfolio of parks under ownership and management will increase to 34 across Australia, enabling the NRMA to offer high-quality management services alongside an increased national footprint of owned parks.The acquisition will significantly enhance the NRMA’s already considerable investment portfolio in Australian tourism and travel, which includes Travelodge Hotels, the Kurrajong Hotel in Canberra, and Thrifty Car Rental.The NRMA’s planned purchase of ATPM is the latest in the company’s strategy to invest in Australian domestic tourism and is a strong endorsement for what the NRMA considers the quintessential Australian driving holiday experience.NRMA Executive General Manager of Travel & Touring Paul Davies said the NRMA wanted to enrich the holiday experience for families and couples while supporting tourism in regional Australia.“Supporting sustainable regional communities and growing domestic tourism are two important aspects of the NRMA’s new strategy and it is this vision that is driving NRMA’s acquisition of ATPM,” Mr Davies said.“The driving holiday is an experience that all generations of Australians can relate to and the breadth of holiday parks under ATPM management, combined with NRMA’s own portfolio, will ensure that this experience is accessible to thousands of Australian and international holidaymakers each year.“The NRMA is committed to delivering excellent regional accommodation and also boost local jobs and economic activity – for every $1 spent in a holiday park $1.38 is spent in the local community.“Most of these parks are located on Australia’s most beautiful beaches and nature locations and the NRMA is committed to ensuring that Australian families can holiday at these destinations in quality, safe and affordable accommodation for generations to come.”Glenn Sedgwick, Chairman of ATPM, said the transaction brought together two of the major Australian owned participants in the domestic tourism sector and built on the strengths of both.“We see the joining of ATPM and NRMA as a way to build on NRMA’s great strengths in membership services and the provision of local travel and tourism experiences for families young and old, along with ATPM’s market leading capabilities in park operations and development” Mr Sedgwick said.“We think this arrangement will be good for NRMA members and for local communities where our parks are located. With the increasing corporatisation of the tourism sector, this transaction ensures that an important part of the Holiday Park industry remains in the hands of a membership-owned mutual, which should be good for families seeking terrific experiences in great locations.“We are proud of our team at ATPM and believe they will complement the team at NRMA and together reach a new level of performance in the industry.”Paul Davies and Glenn Sedgwick both said they look forward to working with the current shareholders, staff and partners to finalise the acquisition over coming weeks.Source = NRMA
Fiji Airways post record profitRecord profit achieved for Fiji Airways GroupThe Fiji Airways Group achieved its biggest pre-tax profit ever during the fiscal year that ended December 31, 2016, a total of F$84.5 million. The Group (legally known as Air Pacific Limited) comprises Fiji Airways, Fiji’s national airline; its subsidiaries Fiji Link & Pacific Call Comm. Ltd; and a 38.75% stake in the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa on Denarau Island. Most notably, profit before tax increased by 20.5% over the prior financial year.Results’ Highlights:Group revenue was F$825.3 million compared to F$815.3 million for the prior year ended 31stDecember 2015.Group profit before tax was F$84.5 million compared to F$70.2 million for the prior year ended 31stDecember 2015.Group carried 1.4 million passengers compared to 1.3 million for the prior year ended 31stDecember 2015.Group is well ahead of the FNPF repayment schedule for the Airbus A330 loans.Profit shares for both management and non-management employees were increased by approximately 20% each.Mr. Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Managing Director & CEO, said: “This is a fantastic result, as we record another year of growth in reported profit. This strong performance is a true testament to the tremendous work done by our team, responding strongly to the challenges we faced. I am most thankful to our Chairman, Mr. Rajesh Punja, and the Board for their guidance and support, and to every Fiji Airways Group team member for their dedication and efforts.“Last year was full of milestones achieved, culminating in the largest profit the airline has ever recorded. To achieve these results is nothing short of outstanding – in a year when we had the most devastating cyclone in our nation’s history slow down tourism and the launch of three new international routes.“The result would also not have been possible without the backing of the Fijian Government and the Fijian people, who continue to stand by us. I especially thank our Prime Minister, the Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama, and our Line Minister, the Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, for their vision and unwavering commitment to the national airline.”“We are proud of these excellent financial results, but we take particular pride in the fact that the increased profit is a sign of excellent leadership, a healthy and positive airline culture, and a constant improvement in service at all levels,” said the Attorney-General. “These factors will take us well into the future as we build Fiji Airways into a top, full service carrier.”“The financial results and other accomplishments also show what government and state-owned entities can do together when government has a strong and focused vision and establishes a proper operating environment, and then lets management do what it is supposed to do as a commercial entity. Fiji Airways is showing that with a management focused on merit-based recruitment, high standards of service delivery, airline safety, and a partnership approach to workplace relations, any state-owned entity can achieve its true potential and beyond. Fiji Airways is the only state-owned enterprise which shares its profits with all its employees,” said the Attorney General.The airline reports that yields were under pressure throughout the year from the increased capacity of its competitors, discounting of airfares by competitors that had taken advantage of lower fuel prices, and the disruptive effects of February’s Tropical Cyclone Winston. Fiji Airways led actions after the cyclone to re-invigorate travel demand by significantly discounting its airfares, which cost the Company in excess of $40m in lost revenue. However, these actions by Fiji Airways are largely responsible for Fiji’s tourism growth of 5% experienced in 2016.The airline’s restructured Leadership Team, which now comprises three Fijian Executive General Managers, contributed to the airline’s numerous 2016 achievements. These include:Launch of new routes to Singapore, San Francisco and Vava’u (Tonga).Increased frequencies to Hong Kong from three to five flights a week, and seasonally increased frequencies to Auckland, Apia, Christchurch, Los Angeles, Sydney, Nuku’alofa, Funafuti, Savusavu, Taveuni and Kadavu.Concluding a ground-breaking package deal for five new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, arriving in 2018 and 2019. The deal, which followed a rigorous, thorough and transparent process, represents excellent value for Fiji Airways and stakeholders.Start of operations using the new A330-300 aircraft on long-haul routes, offering a Quiet Zone and Extra Legroom product for guests.Hiring 27 additional pilots and 82 new Cabin Crew to cater for increased operations.Undertaking a major onboard product refresh, including inflight entertainment, meals, wines, welcome cocktail and mocktail, and Business Class amenity kit.Improving the Tabua Club membership programme with a dedicated new team.Completion of a Skytrax audit to identify service and product improvements to move from a 3-Star to 4-Star airline rating.Achieving the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) accreditation for Fiji Link.Launching a state-of-the-art aviation academy in Nadi for pilot training, complete with aircraft simulators for both Boeing and Airbus aircraft. Fiji AirwaysBook flights here Source = Fiji Airways Group
Martin RinckHilton names seasoned industry leader Martin RinckInternational executive to focus on global growth for Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and Canopy by HiltonHilton (NYSE: HLT) today named Martin Rinck as Global Head, Luxury & Lifestyle Group. In his new role, Rinck will be responsible for all strategic development, brand innovation and leadership initiatives for the world’s fastest growing luxury hotel portfolio, including Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts. Rinck will also oversee the continued growth of Hilton’s newest lifestyle brand, Canopy by Hilton.“We are excited that Martin has agreed to lead our Luxury & Lifestyle Group, and are confident that his industry knowledge, strong leadership skills and extensive hospitality experience will usher in a new chapter for the portfolio,” said Jon Witter, Chief Customer Officer, Hilton. “Martin’s deep understanding of two strategically important areas – global luxury brands and the Asia Pacific region – make him an ideal choice to continue our momentum.”Rinck brings to the role more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, most recently leading Hilton’s Asia Pacific business. In his more than nine years as Area President, he delivered a six-fold increase in hotels, trading and under development, with now more than 600 Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton properties now in region.“As the fastest growing portfolio in the world, I am excited to build on the opportunity represented by Hilton’s Luxury & Lifestyle brands, said Martin Rinck, global head, Luxury & Lifestyle Group. “More than half of our global pipeline of luxury properties reside in the Asia Pacific region, and when you consider the iconic legacy and huge potential of our Luxury & Lifestyle portfolio, this is just the beginning.”Rinck brings to his new role significant international leadership experience within the luxury and hospitality industries. Prior to Hilton, Rinck was the executive vice president and chief development officer EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, where he drove significant unit growth and was instrumental in the company’s public listing on the Stockholm Stock Exchange.He has previously served as chief executive officer for Mövenpick Gastronomy International in Switzerland, InterContinental Hotels Group in Europe and the United States, and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Indonesia.Rinck was born in Hamburg, Germany, and holds an MBA from Brunel University.Source = Hilton
The Ministry of Tourism announced the establishment of the Medical & Wellness Tourism Board & its functioning on the occasion of World Tourism Day on September 27, 2015. The Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge) and Civil Aviation, Dr Mahesh Sharma informed this in New Delhi.Dr Mahesh Sharma said that there will now be a focused approach to Medical Tourism & all the information will be made available on a single portal. The Minister disclosed that information dissemination will also take place through the 14 overseas offices of the Ministry of Tourism.The Minister said that the safety of tourists is the uppermost concern of the government. In order to ensure safety and security of tourists especially the women tourists, the Ministry of Tourism has set up the ‘Incredible India Helpline’ service, he explained. The service is available on toll free telephone no 1800111363 or on a short code 1363 for tourists. At present the Helpline is functioning in Hindi & English and soon the Tourism Ministry will introduce 12 more International languages for the Helpline, the Minister informed. The Ministry of Tourism has set up the Parytak Police (Tourist Police) with the help of states for the security of tourists.Dr Mahesh Sharma said that earlier the Tourism sector was not being given its rightful place as a key player in economic growth of the country. The Government is now laying emphasis on the economic benefits of the tourism sector and is working on increasing the share of India in world tourism as well as increasing the Foreign Exchange Earnings & employment through tourism.In a live Q & A session in the Public Speak programme of All India Radio, Dr Mahesh Sharma warned the travel agents/tour operators/ touts etc who are using the logo of Incredible India or name of Ministry of Tourism without permission. He said the Ministry has initiated action against such tour operators and travel agents for indulging in illegal activity and cheating the foreign and domestic tourists. The Ministry of Tourism will do everything to curb the touts & to prevent the cheating of tourists, Dr Sharma added.Secretary, Tourism, Vinod Zutshi, while participating in the Public Speak Programme gave details about the Government’s plan to promote eco-tourism with the help of states to generate employment in the rural areas.
Slow job creation and tight loan availability are hindering otherwise positive growth in commercial real estate, the “”National Association of Realtors””:http://www.realtor.org/ (NAR) reported.[IMAGE]While “”positive underlying fundamentals”” helped boost all of the major commercial real estate sectors, growth in some areas has been tempered by various issues, including job growth and shifts in demand.””Job creation in the second quarter was about half of what we saw in the first quarter, which is moderating demand in the office sector,”” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR. “”Industrial and warehouse space is holding on better because imports and exports have advanced. While exports to Europe generally are down, trade has been robust [COLUMN_BREAK]with India, China, and other Asian nations, along with Brazil, Mexico, and our strongest trading partner-Canada.”” Demand has also been dampened by problems small businesses have in securing commercial real estate loans. The multifamily sector is the only one that has seen increased demand, which in turn has driven up rents at an accelerated pace.NAR reports that rents are modestly rising in all of the sectors as vacancy rates fall, vacancy remains above historic averages with the exception of the multifamily sector. The retail sector is especially suffering, with the projected average vacancy rate for 2012 hovering around 11 percent – nearly 3 percentage points higher than the historic average for the sector. The organization predicts no significant changes in the near future, with many corporate decisions on spending and hiring hinging upon the results of November’s elections, Congress’ ability to avoid a “”fiscal cliff,”” and other issues such as health care and financial regulations.””Overall, companies hold plentiful cash reserves, but they are hesitant to hire without clarity over how these outstanding issues will impact the bottom line,”” Yun said. “”Commercial real estate gains could be thwarted if lending from small and community banks dry up from excessive regulatory compliance costs, and if international big-bank capital rules are applied to smaller lending institutions.”” in Data, Origination, Servicing August 27, 2012 407 Views Share Agents & Brokers CMBS Investors Lenders & Servicers National Association of Realtors Processing Service Providers 2012-08-27 Tory Barringer What’s Keeping Back a Recovery in Commercial Real Estate?
Fannie Mae Forecast GDP 2014-07-27 Krista Franks Brock in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Despite an anticipated pickup in economic growth and housing recovery in the second half of this year, Fannie Mae expects the economy to grow at just 1.5 percent overall this year. Fannie revised its previous estimate of 2.1 percent growth for 2014 after a disappointing start to the year.The first quarter of this year measured “the worst performance in five years;” and if Fannie’s 1.5 percent prediction pans out, it would be “the worst performance of Q4-over-Q4 growth in the current economic expansion,” according to Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae.Lower-than-expected healthcare spending was the culprit in first-quarter economic woes; but consumer spending, business capital investment, and residential investment should all contribute to more robust growth in the second half of this year, according to Fannie Mae’s economists.Job growth and real personal income are growing, which Fannie expects to translate to a rise in consumer spending over the second half of the year.”We expect the economy to grow approximately 3.0 percent in the second half of the year, although there is an element of uncertainty given government statisticians’ difficulty in assessing the full scope of healthcare expenditures,” Duncan said.The housing market is continuing to recover, contributing positively to the economy, but Fannie Mae anticipates a 2.0 percent decline in home sales and a 41.0 percent decline in mortgage originations over the year this year. On the other hand, single-family mortgage debt outstanding should increase “slightly,” according to Fannie Mae. July 27, 2014 428 Views 2014 Expected to See Slowest Growth Since Start of Recovery Share
How Satisfied are Borrowers with the Origination Process? Borrower Satisfaction Mortgage Origination Process STRATMOR Group 2016-07-13 Seth Welborn Borrowers appear to be much more satisfied with the mortgage process than the industry may think—and borrower satisfaction has been slowly increasing each month for nearly a year, according to the inaugural monthly STRATMOR Insights Report for July 2016.According to STRATMOR’s MortgageSAT Satisfaction Index, which covers the borrower satisfaction rating for lenders over a 12-month look-back period starting with the preceding month, that borrower satisfaction crept up by an average of about 0.54 points from May 2015 to June 2016 (from approximately 85 up to about 90 out of a possible 100).Not only that, but recent borrower satisfaction scores have averaged about 90, which STRATMOR found noteworthy.“This strikes us as remarkably high for a financial product with a complex process. It also runs contrary to the much maligned image of the industry,” the report said.The report also found that borrower satisfaction remained somewhat steady for the second half of 2015 but then rose sharply during the first part of 2016, “which, as we have noted elsewhere in industry media, was just when the new TRID closing disclosure requirements came into effect,” according to the report.The report found that Hispanics tend to more satisfied with the overall mortgage process than non-Hispanics. On the MortgageSAT Satisfaction Index, Hispanics posted a score of 92 compared to 90 for non-Hispanics. STRATMOR also reported that Hispanics reported fewer problems in the mortgage origination process than non-Hispanics, and that Hispanics remain more satisfied with the process than non-Hispanics even when there were problems (such as asked for the same documents repeatedly or asked for documents not on the lender-supplied checklist).Moreover, the report found that when lenders engaged Hispanic borrowers in their own language, those borrowers were likely to return to the lender again, recommend the services of that lender to friends and family, or comment on social media about the lender.“While offering a satisfaction survey in a borrower’s native language is not the same as guiding that borrower through the entire origination process in that language, it does stand to reason that doing so can create much more satisfied, loyal and vocal customers,” the report stated.Click here to view the entire report. July 13, 2016 749 Views Share in Daily Dose, Headlines, News, Origination
in Technology Black Knight Financial Services has integrated Solex, a mobile-friendly eSigning solution from Docutech, into its LOS.Both Black Knight’s LoanSphere Empower LOS and its LoanSphere Expedite Portal will feature the new integration, which offers eSign capabilities, as well as access to Docutech’s ConformX interface. ConformX auto-populates data to make document generation easier and more efficient.The integration of the two organizations’ technologies was a natural fit, according to Jerry Halbrook, President of Origination Technologies and Enterprise Business at Black Knight.“By integrating both Empower and the Expedite Portal with Docutech’s Solex e-sign solution, we are further delivering on the digitized loan process consumers want,” Halbrook said. “Together, Black Knight and Docutech are committed to offering innovative lending solutions that facilitate an easier, more convenient loan process for both lenders and consumers.”According to Ty Jenkins, CEO of Docutech, the partnership offers a significant step toward a fully digitized mortgage process for lenders across the country.“Docutech is dedicated to providing lenders with an easy-to-use, comprehensive eSign process that will enable them to manage their document needs more efficiently while maintaining the highest level of compliance and showing their customers a more modernized loan experience,” Jenkins said. “Given the high volume of lenders utilizing Black Knight’s services, these integrations will bring the mortgage industry one step closer to electronic mortgage processes becoming more widely adopted.” 2017-04-25 Aly J. Yale April 25, 2017 548 Views Black Knight Integrates eSigning Tech into LOS Share
arnold pinkston Company News CoreLogic General Counsel 2018-01-07 David Wharton in Featured, journal, News January 7, 2018 621 Views CoreLogic Announces General Counsel Appointment Share CoreLogic, a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider, announced the appointment of Arnold A. Pinkston to the role of Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary effective January 2, 2018. Mr. Pinkston will serve on the company’s Executive Leadership Committee and report directly to Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic.“Arnie is an accomplished executive with a proven track record in important executive leadership roles including legal, regulatory and compliance, government affairs and intellectual property rights over the past 25 years. His track record of accomplishments building and leading large teams in complex data-driven industries and rapidly evolving environments makes Arnie a great add to CoreLogic’s already outstanding leadership team,” said Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic. “We are excited to have a proven leader of Arnie’s caliber assume this important role and I look forward to partnering with him as we aggressively pursue our strategic growth and operational excellence programs.”Pinkston has had a long and distinguished legal career having served as the general counsel at Allergan, Inc., the general counsel at Beckman Coulter, Inc., and deputy general counsel at Eli Lilly and Company. In those roles, he has managed complex global business and legal issues relating to board governance; intellectual property, privacy; mergers and acquisitions; licensing transactions; finance and securities; competition laws; global trade compliance; litigation and other matters. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Bio-Rad Laboratories.Mr. Pinkston earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Geophysics from Yale College. He received his law degree from Yale Law School where he was a William Beineke Scholar.
Durians are known as ‘the king of fruits’ in Southeast Asia, and the love of the fruit has recently spread to China. Overall transaction volume for the fruit on JC.com grew 11-fold between 2016 and 2017, the company said.While the fruit is most popular in first-tier cities like Beijing and Guangzhou, demand is also growing in other cities. Fourth and fifth-tier cities now make up 45% of sales.More than 250MT of durians are imported to China annually, with the Ministry of Commerce estimating the market to be worth US$22.3 million.Click here to read the full article.www.freshfruitportal.com June 12 , 2018 You might also be interested in Chinese market suffers payment delays, diminishing … NZ: Zespri sends first kiwifruit charter of the ca … Online retail giant JD.com sold more than 400 metric tons (MT) of durians within just 24 hours during its annual Super Durian Day promotions, Food Navigator Asia reported.The 428,000kg sold represent a 30% increase on the 330,000kg sold during the day-long promotion last year, when the fruit also sold out.The durians, sourced from Thailand, were sold at 20% to 30% cheaper than the usual price during this year’s launch. For example, a Monthong durian, meaning ‘golden pillow’, which weighs 3.5-4kg, could be sold at RMB139 (US$21) instead of RMB209 (US$33). U.S.: Trump threatens to raise tariffs on Chinese … Shoppers will pay the price as U.S.-China trade wa …