Risk of US default worries Latin American ministers

first_img Facebook Comments Chile’s Economy Minister Felipe Larraín participates in a press conference during the Eighth World Economic Forum for Latin America in Lima on April 25, 2013. Larraín said on Thursday he was “especially” concerned about how a U.S. default would impact interest rates in the region during the World Bank-International Monetary Fund assembly. Ernesto Benavides/AFP  The growing risk of the United States defaulting on its debt worries many Latin American countries who are fearful of damage during the global economic recovery, according to several ministers from across the region on Thursday.“It’s a topic that worries all of us,” said Chilean Finance Minister Felipe Larraín. “It’s a problem for the United States, but at its worst it could kill the recovery of this economy, and that would have a powerful effect for the rest of the world,” Larraín added during a visit to Washington, D.C., at the assembly of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. “It would be a strong blow to the global economy. It would probably reduce growth in the United States and could affect our growth prospects for the coming year,” said Peruvian Finance Minister Luis Castilla.According to the IMF, Latin America could close 2013 with a 2.7 percent growth rate, less than hoped for in July. The Fund, however, expects a rebound next year and estimates a 3.1 percent growth rate for the region. The ministers expressed their concerns face-to-face with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew at a meeting of finance ministers from the Americas on Wednesday in Washington, on the sidelines at the IMF-World Bank assembly.“We said that this is a subject that really worries us a lot,” Larraín said.“He was receptive […] but I think that each sector is digging its trenches, there’s no pending agreement and time is running out,” he said.An eventual default on U.S. debt first would affect commercial relations with Latin American countries but also could provoke a jump in interest rates over the long term, something that “especially” worries Larraín.“There’s too much to lose and rationality must prevail,” added Castilla. Castilla and Larraín participated Thursday in a forum of the Alliance of the Pacific, an integration bloc made up of their countries and Colombia and Mexico, together with the Colombian finance minister, Mauricio Cárdenas, and Mexican Finance Vice Minister Fernando Aportela. center_img No related posts.last_img read more

Mexicos feeble police vetting ended in 43 vanished students

first_imgSee also: Elena Poniatowska: Mexican student massacre reminiscent of concentration campsMEXICO CITY — The Mexican police accused of kidnapping 43 students in Guerrero state two months ago and handing them to a drug gang didn’t dodge the government’s vetting process. Most of the officers involved had actually cleared it.In Sonora, a state prison chief remains on the job three years after he failed his background check. And in Jalisco, a mayor said he wants to re-test officers found unfit to serve — because he can’t afford the severance payments if he fired them.The cases, across Mexico, shed light on how corruption in law enforcement has continued to fester under President Enrique Peña Nieto as he focused on economic improvements and an international image makeover for the country.“The Peña people dropped the ball on pushing ahead with police reform,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, who investigates drug war conflicts for the Brookings Institution in Washington. “Often they would simply want to shove security issues under the rug. Focusing on deep economic issues was important, but could have been combined with attention to security.”The national center that vets police has been without a presidentially appointed director since October 2012, about three months after Peña Nieto won election. He took office in December of that year.While the federal government says all police have undergone background checks, the reviews fail to probe financial records that might uncover ties to criminals, said Causa en Común, a nonprofit group that tracks law enforcement and has a seat on the nation’s public security council.In a Radio Formula interview last month, Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong said that as long as the reviews don’t point to criminal activity, towns that can’t immediately fire officers should take them off the streets until resources and replacements are found.State and municipal governments are responsible for ensuring the quality of their own officers, Osorio Chong said. While the federal government can offer some help, he said, “we don’t have officers to cover all of the municipalities.”In the case of the missing students, the government alleges gang members probably incinerated their bodies and dumped the ashes into a river after the local mayor ordered police to round them up. More than 20 police from the town of Iguala were arrested. The rest were disarmed and sent to a military base. Three-quarters of the force had passed the vetting program last year, according to town records.The case has sparked protests in several states, including the temporary blockade of an airport in Guerrero. Earlier this month, protesters burned a door to the president’s National Palace in the capital. Demonstrators, many organizing through social media, plan to temporarily block Mexico City’s international airport on Nov. 20. Federal police take part in a search on the outskirts of Cocula, Guerrero State, Mexico, on Oct. 19, 2014 for students who went missing in Iguala on Sept. 26, after clashes with local police. Ronaldo Schemidt/AFPIn a Brookings report this month, Felbab-Brown wrote that Peña Nieto has focused too heavily on capturing kingpins such as Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, when the administration should be strengthening police training, vetting and salaries.Flaws in the review system aren’t isolated to Guerrero. Ricardo Ornelas, the director of prisons for the northern state of Sonora, said in an interview that he refused to complete his vetting exam in 2011 because he objected to queries about his family. His score deemed him “not recommendable” to run prisons, according to federal records that Sonora-based newspaper Expreso reported and that Bloomberg News viewed.“The tester was asking me all these personal questions so I told him, ‘I’m not here to chat, dude, I’m here to take some tests,’ ” Ornelas said in a telephone interview.Ornelas took the job without previous experience in security after his predecessor was found murdered in his home in 2011, during former President Felipe Calderón’s rule. The prison chief said he was asked to take the test shortly after he assumed his post, but only learned about his result from a reporter earlier this month.The Mexican government did not respond to repeated requests for comment about criticism of the police vetting process. At a Nov. 7 news conference, Attorney General Jesús Murillo said “it’s evident that many things must be changed” in the justice system, and he promised to announce those changes soon.Even while operating within the rules of the police evaluations, some local officials may prove to be an obstacle to improving oversight.In the town of Miguel Alemán in Tamaulipas state, Mayor Ramiro Cortéz said he plans to relieve traffic cops who fail the review they took last month and rehire them as civil protection workers, or emergency-aid personnel.“It’s their decision,” Cortéz said in a telephone interview. “They receive the proposal, and if they want to abandon public service they’re compensated and can find other opportunities.”Then there are mayors like Ismael del Toro of Tlajomulco, in the western state of Jalisco. Of his 600 officers, 100 didn’t pass their background checks. Thirty are being investigated for possible links to criminal groups. He wants the other 70 to be re-tested because he doesn’t have the budget to pay all of their severance.“We have to let a big number of policemen go at once,” del Toro said in an interview. “This leaves us with very few officers to fight crime.” Members of Mexican Federal Police are seen on a street of Teloloapán, Guerrero state, Mexico, on Oct. 19, 2014. The Federal Police took control of 13 municipalities of Guerrero State last month. Ronaldo Schemidt/AFPAbout 6 percent of federal security and immigration officials, 10 percent of state police and 13 percent of municipal officers didn’t pass their tests and are in the process of being purged, as of Oct. 30, according to the federal government. The Interior Ministry declined to reveal how many of them have been fired.Jorge Tello, who served in 2009 as executive secretary of the National Public Security System, which oversees the federal vetting center, estimated that about one-fifth of police who fail the tests remain at their posts.Even if all municipalities had the money to replace cops who failed reviews, critics say, the background checks themselves are flawed. By law they must include polygraphs, drug tests, psychological evaluations, medical exams and checks of a job candidate’s lifestyle. In practice, the exams rely heavily on lie detectors and don’t check financial records against test takers’ responses, said María Elena Morera, who heads Causa en Común.Del Toro, Tlajomulco’s mayor, agreed. It would be more effective if the tests “verified if the officer has a lifestyle, a house, car, that matches his salary,” he said. “I’ve never seen the socioeconomic part even mentioned in test results given to us.”Mexico first began vetting police decades ago, though the program gained steam under Calderón when he signed new testing guidelines into law in 2008. It may require more time for improvements to take hold, as the government is constantly improving the system, said Tello, who is now a professor at the Government and Public Transformation School of the Monterrey Technological Institute.When Peña Nieto returned the Institutional Revolutionary Party to power in December 2012, he promised better coordination between the federal and state governments on crime fighting.Guillermo Valdes, who from 2008 to 2011 led the state intelligence agency, Cisen, when the tests were introduced, said the effort is heading in the wrong direction. More federal oversight is needed to ensure municipalities and states are using the exams to purge corrupt officers, he said.The federal government “absolutely didn’t give a damn,” Valdes said. “They didn’t care at all about implementing the test.”See all our stories on the missing students and Mexico’s security crisis here© 2014, Bloomberg News Facebook Comments Related posts:Mexico horrified by suspected massacre, incineration of 43 students Outrage at likely Mexico massacre spreads to Acapulco Clashes as Mexicans hold rally for 43 missing students Mexico police, protesters clash ahead of grim anniversary of 43 missing studentslast_img read more

Afghans fear what will happen when troops leave

first_imgBut he wouldn’t hesitate for a moment. He already paid to have his two sons smuggled to a European county he won’t disclose.“If I could go in the next hour, I would leave everything _ the house, my shop,” Ramin said, tears welling in his eyes as he spoke in his dusty workshop.“I have no hope, no hope,” he said, opening his palms as if pleading to be understood.The United States and its allies have tried to reassure Afghans that they are not abandoning the country when international combat troops leave by the end of 2014. Donor nations have pledged billions to bankroll Afghan security forces and billions more in development aid. Country after country has signed a long-term partnership pact with Kabul.But the promises have done little to buoy the hopes of Afghans who are in despair about the future of their nation.Among Afghans around the country interviewed by The Associated Press, the worry is pervasive. Many are deeply skeptical that Afghan police and security forces, which the U.S.-led coalition has spent years trying to build, will be able to fight insurgents and militants without American and NATO fighting alongside. Worse-case scenarios that some fear: The Afghan forces could splinter along ethnic line and prompt civil war, the nation could plunge into a deep recession, or the Kabul government _ plagued with corruption and still fragile despite efforts to establish its authority _ would remain too weak to hold off a Taliban takeover. Men’s health affects baby’s health too “We are not even imagining abandoning Afghanistan,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said during a stop in Kabul en route to the Tokyo gathering. She announced that Afghanistan was the newest “major non-NATO ally” _ a statement of political support for the country’s long-term stability and close defense cooperation.Afghan, U.S. and coalition officials believe Afghan forces are getting more capable day by day. They boast that while insurgents remain a threat, they have been forced out of population centers. Seventy-five percent of the Afghan population lives in areas where security is being transferred to Afghan forces, they said.The Afghan army and police force suffer from low levels of literacy, corruption within their ranks and lack of equipment and experience, but are showing themselves to be increasingly capable on the battlefield _ and there are still two years to go, Gen. John Allen, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told the AP in a recent interview.“It’s gaining experience. It’s gaining leadership,” Allen said.Still, civilians are increasingly caught in the middle of the fight against insurgents. Last year was the deadliest on record for civilians in the Afghan war, with 3,021 killed as insurgents stepped up suicide attacks and roadside bombs, according to the United Nations. Associated PressKABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Asadullah Ramin has lost all hope in his homeland _ he’s so worried about what will happen when U.S. and international troops leave that he’s ready to pay a smuggler to whisk his family out of Afghanistan.It would cost the 50-year-old, self-employed electronics engineer tens of thousands of dollars to leave his middle-class life in the Afghan capital and start a new chapter with his wife and their three daughters. He has done OK in recent years, even getting contracts from the foreign forces, and he has warm memories of Kabul from his teens _ before Soviet forces invaded the nation. Sponsored Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Just a 45-minute drive south of Kabul, residents of Wardak province directly feel the tenuousness. The province is a battleground for Afghan and coalition forces trying to squash hotbeds of the Taliban. Residents quickly warn visitors that it’s dangerous just to go past a checkpoint less a kilometer (half-mile) outside the provincial capital, Maidan Shahr.“We don’t know if the government has been successful or not,” 17-year-old Mohammad Ashaq said, chatting inside a tiny pharmacy in the city. “Most people think that after 2014, the government will not exist.”Hanging over the fears is a sense that history could repeat itself. Afghans felt abandoned by the U.S. after 1989, when the Soviet army withdrew from Afghanistan. U.S. support to mujahedeen fighters battling the Soviets dried up quickly and Afghanistan sank into civil war as militias and warlords battled for power, devastating Kabul. That was followed by the rise of the Taliban and years of rule under their repressive regime.In one sign of the lack of confidence, the number of Afghan asylum seekers in 44 industrialized countries went up 34 percent in 2011 over the year before, according to the latest figures issued by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. In 2011, 35,700 Afghans sought asylum, compared to 26,000 the year before. 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Another sign: the real estate market in Kabul.Broker Mir Ahmad Shah says this is the worst of his seven years selling properties in the capital. No one wants to buy. A piece of land that went for $100,000 last year now is priced as low as $60,000, but even at that cut-rate price buyers aren’t tempted. It’s in part because of increased security worries the past year, but it’s “especially because of the announcement about the coalition leaving,” he said.“I’m not hopeful for the future and it’s not just me,” he said, waving his hand toward small shops across the street where a vendor was selling live chickens. “The shopkeepers, the businessmen _ they are all hopeless.” One of his listings is the home of a man selling to move to Canada, he added.The Americans insist that the pledges of international support going forward will prevent the worst from happening. The pledges make the possibility of another civil war or deep recession “unlikely scenarios,” according to Ryan Crocker, who just stepped down as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.At a NATO summit in May in Chicago, NATO members agreed to help the Afghan government bankroll its security forces post-2014. Earlier this month in Tokyo, the international community pledged $16 billion in aid _ at least through 2015 _ to further help rebuild. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments   Share   Regwida Neayish, a 19-year-old in her second year of college in Kabul, wants to leave Afghanistan to study abroad to become a doctor _ although she promises to return.“I don’t think there is a future for us,” Neayish, a soft-spoken woman in a baby blue headscarf, said at a new women’s only Internet cafe.“It’s in our hands to study and work hard, but there are no jobs for the people of Afghanistan. … There is nothing, nothing,” she said.Her mother, Frozan Marofi, who was checking her email across the room, had a more positive outlook.Instead of wringing their hands about what might happen in 2014, Marofi said, Afghans should be thinking about how they can improve life now.“Maybe after 2014, we will have a very, very nice life.”Unconvinced, her daughter giggled into her headscarf and said, “I just want to go to another country.”___Associated Press Writers Amir Shah and Rahim Faiez in Kabul contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) In the south, where the Taliban have their strongest roots, the governor of Helmand province praises the security gains. In 2008, the provincial capital Lashkar Gah was surrounded by militants and the Taliban controlled a number of districts. There was only one brigade of the Afghan army in the province, and the police forces were plagued by drug addiction, Gov. Gulab Mangal told Pentagon reporters recently.But after years of operations by coalition and Afghan forces, insurgents have been pushed back. Today, 80 percent of the Helmand police are trained and equipped, he said, declaring Helmand is “open for business.’Aftab Jan, a 35-year-old who runs a hotel business in Lashkar Gah, agrees. “We used to be scared to even go out of our homes to work as we might never return alive, but now we can walk around and do our business safely.”But, he said, “If the foreign forces leave us on our own now, then we are going to go back to zero all at once.”“It will mean being under the same old Taliban hold,” he said. “All these years would mean nothing. The war and struggle over bringing peace to this land would mean nothing.”Even in Kabul where there are more jobs and educational opportunities than in the outlying provinces, it’s difficult to be positive. Every day, people in the capital are confronted by scores of penniless Afghans _ men without limbs and women clutching soiled babies _ who beg from motorists idling in traffic.last_img read more

Security tight as Egypt Christians mark Christmas

first_imgCAIRO (AP) – Millions of Egyptian Christians thronged churches across this mainly Muslim nation for Christmas Mass, held Monday amid unusually tight security but with congregations filled with hope ahead of a key vote on a new constitution that enshrines equality and criminalizes discrimination.The stepped up security was in response to fears that Islamic militants loyal to ousted President Mohammed Morsi would target churches. Islamists claim that Egypt’s Christians played a disproportionately large role in the mass protests that preceded Morsi’s ouster in a July 3 coup. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Many churches, especially in southern Egyptian strongholds of radical Muslims, held Midnight Mass several hours early so that worshippers could avoid returning home after midnight when streets are empty, raising the possibility of attacks.A wave of attacks blamed on Islamists in August left dozens of churches destroyed, burned or looted. Christian homes and businesses were also targeted.“We will pray under the night sky,” said Adel Shafiq, a Christian from the town of Dalga south of Cairo, who was attending Mass in a church looted and burned in August. “There is no roof and no windows. People are here wearing scarves and hats to fend off the night cold.”At Cairo’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, seat of the Coptic Orthodox pope, police armed with machine-guns manned sandbag positions outside the towering structure. Hours before Mass, sniffing dogs were deployed to ensure there were no explosives planted inside.During the service, plainclothes security men stood guard just yards (meters) from the altar to keep an eye on the congregation as Coptic Pope Tawadros II led the prayers. Cabinet ministers, army generals and politicians, mostly Muslims, attended the service. Sponsored Stories Top Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Comments   Share   5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “We pray for the safety, peace and calm of Egypt and we pray for every man on its kind land,” Pope Tawadros said in a brief sermon. “We have total confidence that God is watching over our nation even at the time of crisis.”Elsewhere in Cairo and other main cities, streets leading to large churches were sealed off and checkpoints were set up in areas with sizable Christian communities as armored army and police vehicles roamed the streets.Metal detectors were placed at the entrances of many churches, where volunteers searched bags and demanded to see IDs, leading to the formation of long lines outside churches.The tight security appeared to do little to dampen spirits, however.“People are happy and the barrier of fear has been breached. We have seen the worst already, it’s over,” said Evon Lutfi, a Christian from the southern city of Assiut, a stronghold of radical Islamists and home to a large Christian community.Egypt’s Christians account for some 10 percent of the nation’s 90 million people. Mostly members of the Orthodox church, one of Christendom’s oldest, they long have complained of discrimination by the nation’s Muslim majority. They have heavily invested in the anti-Morsi movement in the hope of gaining equal rights with their Muslim compatriots after his removal. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The amended constitution Egyptians will vote on later this month in a nationwide referendum enshrines equality between all Egyptians and instructs the next parliament to legislate a new law that will facilitate the construction and maintenance of churches. It also removes language in the 2012 constitution that critics feared could pave the way to the creation of a purist Islamic state, something that gravely alarmed Christians.“We will vote `yes’ in the referendum so we can have a nation free of discrimination,” said Fawzy Habib, a Christian accountant from Assiut.The post-Morsi administration hopes the draft, a heavily amended version of an Islamist-tilted charter adopted under Morsi in 2012, will receive a comfortable “yes” majority in the Jan. 14-15 referendum to enshrine the legitimacy of the regime and allow it to move confidently to the next step of its political transition plan: presidential and parliamentary elections. Morsi’s supporters are boycotting the vote, which they label as a sham along with the charter itself.Christians received a huge morale boost Sunday when the country’s interim leader, President Adly Masnour, made a rare visit to St. Mark’s Cathedral and met with the Coptic pontiff. His visit underlined efforts by the military-backed government to project an image of inclusion ahead of the referendum. The highly symbolic visit was the first of its kind since socialist leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser attended the cathedral’s consecration ceremony more than 40 years ago.St. Mark’s Cathedral was attacked by a mob last April, heightening Christians’ concern over Morsi’s rule and laying bare their vulnerability. Morsi quickly condemned the violence, but in an unprecedented direct criticism, Pope Tawadros accused him of failing to protect the cathedral.___Associated Press reporter Mamdouh Thabet contributed to this report from Assiut, Egypt.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img

House passes bill to make research tax break permanent

first_img Sponsored Stories Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “Research and development is the lifeblood of manufacturing, driving growth through increased productivity and new product development,” the National Association of Manufacturers said in a letter to lawmakers. “The lack of a permanent R&D tax credit creates uncertainty as manufacturers do not know if the credit will be around for the entire length of their R&D projects.”The House passed the bill by a vote of 274-145. It now goes to the Senate.The White House threatened to veto the bill because it would add $182 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade. President Barack Obama said he supports making the popular tax break permanent but wants to offset the cost by eliminating other tax breaks for businesses.“As with other similar proposals, Republicans are imposing a double standard by adding to the deficit to continue and expand costly tax breaks, while slashing investments and programs that serve middle-class and working Americans in the name of fiscal rectitude,” the White House said in a statement.House Republican leaders say Congress should not be forced to offset the extension of existing tax cuts by raising other taxes. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility “Why does the president want to ship America’s research jobs overseas?” said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who sponsored the bill. “He knows both parties in Congress have supported this measure on a temporary basis without raising taxes. So stop making excuses and stand up for American jobs and American innovation.”The House voted twice last year to make the tax break permanent, but both bills died in the Senate. In December, Congress passed a bill renewing more than 50 temporary tax breaks, including the credit for research and development. Obama signed the bill, but it only extended the tax breaks through the end of 2014.___Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatapCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies WASHINGTON (AP) — The House voted Wednesday to make permanent a generous tax credit that rewards businesses for investing in research and development, setting the stage for another showdown over taxes.The tax credit is part of a package of more than 50 temporary tax breaks that routinely expires every year or two, only to be renewed by Congress.The entire package expired at the beginning of the year. House Republicans have been working to make selected tax breaks permanent, over the objections of many Democrats. How do cataracts affect your vision? 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Group Hamas tortured killed Palestinians in 2014 Gaza war

first_img Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona JERUSALEM (AP) — A leading international watchdog on Wednesday accused the militant Hamas group of abducting, torturing and killing Palestinians during the war in the Gaza Strip last year, saying some of the actions amount to war crimes.Amnesty International detailed the abuses in a report entitled “Strangling Necks’: Abduction, torture and summary killings of Palestinians by Hamas forces during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict.” New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Hamas used the war to “ruthlessly settle scores, carrying out a series of unlawful killings and other grave abuses,” Amnesty’s Philip Luther said. “These spine-chilling actions, some of which amount to war crimes, were designed to exact revenge and spread fear across the Gaza Strip.”The report said 16 of the people killed by Hamas were already being held by the militant group when the conflict erupted and many of them were waiting to hear the verdict of their Hamas-organized trials. “Many had been sentenced after trials before courts whose proceedings are grossly unfair. A number had said they had been tortured in order to extract ‘confessions,’” the report said.Amnesty’s report also said that Hamas abducted and tortured people in an outpatient clinic that was no longer in use, within the grounds of Gaza City’s main hospital, Shifa.“Hamas forces have displayed a disregard for the most fundamental rules of international humanitarian law,” Luther said. “Torture and cruel treatment of detainees in an armed conflict is a war crime. Extrajudicial executions are also war crimes.”This was not Amnesty’s first report on the 2014 Gaza war. Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology According to the London-based human rights group, some 23 Palestinians were shot and killed and dozens more were arrested and tortured by Hamas, which rules Gaza. The Palestinians targeted were either political rivals of Hamas, including members of the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, or people the militant group had accused of cooperating with Israel, Amnesty said.Wednesday’s report highlighted a particularly brutal incident, which it said took place in Gaza on Aug. 22.“In one of the most shocking incidents, six men were publicly executed by Hamas forces outside al-Omari mosque … in front of hundreds of spectators, including children,” Amnesty said. Hamas had announced the men were suspected “collaborators” who had been sentenced death in “revolutionary courts,” the rights group added.“The hooded men were dragged along the floor to kneel by a wall facing the crowd, then each man was shot in the head individually before being sprayed with bullets fired from an AK-47,” the report said of the August incident.Hamas violently seized Gaza from forces loyal to Abbas in 2007, leaving Palestinians bitterly divided — Hamas ruling Gaza and Abbas governing parts of the West Bank. Since then, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at Israel and fought three wars with the Jewish state. Over 2,200 Palestinians were killed during the 50-day war last summer. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   In March, the group accused Hamas of war crimes for launching unguided rockets and mortars from civilian areas in Gaza toward civilian areas in Israel, saying that was a breach of international law. And in December, Amnesty condemned Israel for flattening four landmark buildings in the final days of the war. Israel dismissed that report, saying Hamas was using the buildings as command centers.Salah Bardawil, a Hamas official in Gaza, said the incidents mentioned in the report took place ‘outside the framework of the law’ and Hamas was investigating them.___Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

A timeline of comet probes 11year journey

first_imgBERLIN (AP) — The European Space Agency said Sunday that its comet lander Philae has woken up from hibernation and managed to send data back to Earth for the first time in seven months. The probe went quiet on Nov. 15, three days after it was separated from its mother ship Rosetta and touched down on the city surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.Here’s a look at key moments during the mission:___March 2, 2004: Europe’s unmanned probe Rosetta takes off from Kourou, French Guiana, after a series of delays, including an abandoned January 2003 launch window because of a rocket problem. Comments   Share   Feb. 25, 2007: Rosetta carries out a close flyby of Mars. European Space Agency’s mission control breaks out in applause after the end of 15 tense minutes of radio silence as the craft passes behind the Red Planet.Sept. 5, 2008: Probe successfully passes close to an asteroid 250 million miles from Earth. The spacecraft loses its radio signal for 90 minutes as planned during the flyby of the Steins asteroid, also known as Asteroid 2867.July 10, 2010: Between Mars and Jupiter, Rosetta transmits its first pictures from the largest asteroid ever visited by a satellite after it flies by Lutetia as close as 1,900 miles (3,200 kilometers). It is the closest look to date at the Lutetia asteroid.Jan. 20, 2014: Waking after almost three years of hibernation, Rosetta sends its first signal back to Earth. Systems had been powered down in 2011 to conserve energy, leaving scientists in the dark for 31 months.Aug. 6, 2014: Rosetta swings alongside comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko somewhere between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.Nov. 12, 2014: The probe releases the Philae lander and it drops to the comet’s surface. Seven hours later, Philae touches down on the comet.Nov. 15, 2014: Philae goes into hibernation after performing experiments and sending data back to Earth for 60 hours. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Feb. 14, 2015: Rosetta swoops to a distance of just 6 kilometers (less than 4 miles) above the surface of the comet to take close-up pictures of the surface.June 11, 2015: Scientists say they may have caught a glimpse of Philae, whose exact location remains unknown. After analyzing images and other data collected over the past months they identified several possible sites including one bright spot described as “a good candidate for the lander.”June 13, 2015: Philae communicates with Earth for the first time in seven months in a sign that it has come out of hibernation.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Sponsored Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img read more

Pope pauses in silent prayer before Shroud of Turin

first_img 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Top Stories Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility TURIN, Italy (AP) — Pope Francis paused in silent prayer before the Shroud of Turin Sunday, becoming the latest of hundreds of thousands of people who have come this year to Turin’s cathedral to view the burial linen some believe covered the body of Jesus after crucifixion.Francis sat for several minutes before the shroud, contained in a protective glass case. He lowered his head at times in apparent reflection and occasionally gazed up at the 4.3-meter (14-foot) long cloth. Then he took a few steps, placed his hand on the case, and walked away without comment. “Immigration increases competition, but migrants shouldn’t be blamed because they themselves are victims of injustice, of this throw-away economy and of wars,” Francis said in a speech in a square outside the cathedral.He then made an apparent reference to European countries as well as some northern Italian regions which are refusing or are reluctant to take some of the tens of thousands of migrants who have landed at southern Italian ports after being rescued in the Mediterranean from overcrowded, unseaworthy smugglers’ boats.“It makes one cry to see the spectacle of these days in which human beings are treated as commercial goods,” Francis said.Turin is the Piedmont region’s capital, and during Mass, the Argentine-born Francis quoted from a poem in local dialect that praises the qualities of those who emigrated from Piedmont — like some of his own ancestors — to seek work abroad.“Our ancestors knew well what it meant to be rock-solid,” Francis said. Quoting from the poem, the pope said these emigrants were “proper and sincere, they appear to be what they are.”In an unscheduled stop, Francis ducked into the church in Turin where his paternal grandparents were married in 1907, and where, in 1908, his father Mario was baptized. The ANSA news agency quoted the Rev. Giustizio Zoppi as saying Francis left a vase of yellow roses on the altar and then asked for a chair so he could sit in silence for a few minutes. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “We didn’t ask him to come, he wanted to,” Zoppi said.On Monday, before he heads back to Rome, Francis will lunch in Turin with some of his relatives who live in Piedmont.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Pope Francis prays in front of the Holy Shroud, the 14 foot-long linen revered by some as the burial cloth of Jesus, on display at the Cathedral of Turin, Italy, Sunday, June 21, 2015. Francis visited the long linen with the faded image of a bearded man, during his two-day pilgrimage to Turin. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) Later, after celebrating Mass of the faithful in a packed Turin square, Francis gave his impression of the cloth as he spoke of the love Jesus had for humanity when being crucified.“Icon of this love is the Shroud, which, even this time, has attracted so many people here to Turin,” Francis said. “The Shroud draws (people) to the tormented face and body of Jesus and, at the same time, directs (people) toward the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person.”The shroud’s display began April 19 and runs through June 24.Other pontiffs have made the journey to the northern city during previous displays of the shroud. When John Paul II saw the shroud in 1998, he said the mystery surrounding the cloth forces questions about faith and science and whether it really was Jesus’ burial linen. He urged continuous study. Benedict XVI described the cloth as an icon “written with the blood” of a crucified man.Skeptics say the cloth bearing the image of a crucified man is a medieval forgery.Turin, the heartland of Italy’s auto industry, is considered Italy’s blue-collar labor capital, and Francis used his two-day visit to the city to denounce exploitation of workers, singling out women, young people and immigrants as frequent victims. Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Quick workouts for men Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving soberlast_img read more

What relief Greek economy on its knees despite bailout deal

first_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Sponsored Stories Pantelis Kourbelas, owner of fashion company Ioanna Kourbela, which exports to 25 countries, is being creative as he tries to import thread and material from Italy and France.“If we can’t buy raw materials because we can’t send money abroad we will have a problem,” said Kourbelas, 62, who is also on the board of the Athens Traders’ Association. “We’re thinking of opening a bank account in another European country and all our transactions with clients who buy from us to be done through that account. That’s the only way we can ensure the continuation of production.”While a rescue deal could allow Greece to ease its money controls somewhat, the country is unlikely to be able to undo them completely — the last eurozone nation to impose such controls, Cyprus, took two years to lift them fully.___Pylas contributed from Brussels.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Bankruptcies are on the rise: bad loans on banks’ books are expected to surge to account for 40-45 percent of all loans, from 35 percent in December, according to Moody’s credit rating agency.Money has been pulled out in droves from the country over the past months of uncertainty. Deposits hit an 11-year low in May and analysts say it will take time for investors to find the courage to plow money back into the country, even if it has a rescue deal.The public debt load is unsustainable at around 180 percent of GDP — or 320 billion euros — and forecast to rise over the next two years as the economy weakens, the International Monetary Fund warned this week.Meanwhile, the budget savings the government will have to make to get the financial bailout from its European creditors will hurt economic growth. They include, among other things, tax increases that are likely to dent spending.“Greece has already gone through (a) depression,” said Megan Greene, chief economist at Manulife Asset Management. “This ensures they’ll go through three more years of recession if it’s implemented.”The Greek government, and many experts, say the bailout deal is needed to avoid the even worse scenario of a complete collapse in Greece’s banks, which would push the country out of the euro. Economists estimate that if Greece falls out of the currency union, its economy could shrink by another 10 or 20 percent. Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The government also notes that the bailout deal will ensure the country’s funding for three years and includes a promise to lighten its debt burden.In the short-term, it is needed to help the banks reopen, a priority for the economy to start breathing again.Imports in Greece have been hammered by the limits on money transfers that the government imposed two weeks ago to prevent a bank run. Business owners are warning there could be shortages of basic goods such as food if the situation isn’t resolved and banks aren’t reopened.Exporters are also experiencing problems as many are unable to buy raw materials from abroad, while others say they cannot pay for agricultural products.“It’s a huge problem, we’re now only receiving from abroad the products that have already been imported and paid for,” said Natassa Voudouri, owner of Contlift, which transports goods from shipping containers around Greece. “From here on, things get harder … The reason is that no money transfer can be sent abroad from Greece. At the moment we’re taking delivery of the last goods, which is food. All the rest is frozen and we’re expecting product shortages.” ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece has a tentative rescue deal, but relief that it is not falling out of the euro is unlikely to last long: its economy has taken a huge hit.Months of political brinkmanship, uncertainty and bank closures have hurt companies and brought everyday business to a standstill. And new economic measures meant to secure the bailout are forecast to put the country, which emerged last year from six years of economic decline, through more misery. Top Stories center_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Patients with chronic pain give advice “No one is producing. No one is buying. Everyone is scared,” said 59-year-old Dimitris Farmakis, who has a cloth-making firm in Athens.On top of a slump in demand, Farmakis’ business is hit hard by a government limit on money transfers that makes it impossible to buy supplies from overseas. He’s cut down on production and given his staff time off.“In a few weeks we won’t be producing due to these shortages,” Farmakis said.Farmakis’ woes are commonplace in an economy that analysts estimate will contract by about 4 percent this year.That’s a big reverse from just six months ago, when it had emerged from one of the most savage recessions the developed world has seen in modern history. Its public finances were also healing and the country was even considering financing itself once again on international bond markets.Rip up that script.Greece fell back into recession in the spring amid growing uncertainty over the country’s future in the euro in the wake of the election triumph of the radical left Syriza party in January. As the bailout talks dragged on, concerns became more acute and the recession deepened, evidence suggests. The government’s decision over two weeks ago to shutter all banks, impose limits on cash withdrawals at ATMs for Greeks, and restrict electronic transfers abroad dealt a huge blow to an economy that was already reeling. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis In this photo taken on Thursday, July 9, 2015 a worker walks between containers at the industrial zone of Aspropyrgos, western Athens. Imports in Greece have been hammered in the two weeks and more since strict capital controls were imposed. Business owners are warning that shortages of basic goods such as food will begin appearing if the situation isn’t resolved and banks aren’t reopened. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

IndiGo signs largest Airbus deal

first_imgIndian airline, IndiGo placed an order with Airbus earlier this week for up to 180 A320’s, the largest aircraft deal in the industry’s history. The deal worth up to €$12 billion comes after the domestic airline received government approval to launch international flights later this year, Samachar Today reported. According to the news source the airline will receive deliveries between 2016 and 2025.Up to 150 of the aircraft will be part of the eco-friendly ‘neo’ series, while the remaining 30 will be standard A320s. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

A Royal Rendezvous – Queen Elizabeth Queen Mary 2

first_imgA much anticipated royal rendezvous took place this morning when Cunard’s newest cruise ship Queen Elizabeth and her larger sister Queen Mary 2 met for the first time in Sydney Harbour. Meeting under grey skies just outside the heads at 5:30am, the 90,900-tonne Queen Elizabeth followed her sister into the harbour before berthing at the Overseas Passenger Terminal around 7am.Thousands of people awoke early to be a part of the historical occasion as the vessels sounded their horns to mark the first time the Queens are meeting in Sydney Harbour. Arriving from New Zealand, the Queen Elizabeth is carrying 2000 guests and almost 1000 crew as part of her 103 night maiden world voyage.“Sydney is always a highlight port for our Cunard world voyage guests but marking an historic Royal Rendezvous with our two Queens certainly adds to the attraction,” said Peter Shanks president and managing director of Cunard. Launched in October, the Queen Elizabeth will head to Melbourne on 25 February and Fremantle on 1 March before continuing her return voyage to Southampton via Asia. Her sister, Cunard’s flagship will sail for New Zealand tomorrow evening. To view a photo gallery of the Royal Rendezvous this morning, click here Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.A; Image credit: James Morganlast_img read more

Travelport voted AsiaPacifics Best GDS

first_imgTravelport Best GDS Award 2011 Source = Travelport Travelport honoured with three back to back wins in industry awardsTravelport, the business services provider to the global travel industry, has been named ‘Best GDS’ in the Asia-Pacific region for the third year running. Announced at the 22nd Annual TTG Travel Awards Ceremony held in Bangkok last night, the award reaffirms Travelport’s position as Asia-Pacific’s leading GDS provider. “We are delighted to be recognised by our industry peers once again in what’s been three very exciting back to back wins. This achievement reflects and further reinforces our commitment to delivering the best in class technology, products and service to the industry,” said Simon Nowroz, President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, Travelport.“As we celebrate our 40th anniversary this year, 2011 has proven to be an important milestone for Travelport with the successful launch of three ground breaking products, including Travelport Universal Desktop, Travelport Smartpoint App and Travelport Rooms and More. Innovation has remained at the forefront of what we do and it is pleasing to see the industry acknowledge our leadership and efforts in this area,” Nowroz added. Launched in 1999, the TTG Travel Awards serve as a benchmark for industry excellence and are highly coveted among the region’s travel industry. More than 49,000 votes were cast between June and August in this year’s awards.last_img read more

TQ and Jetstar join to entice Australians

first_imgTourism Queensland new Vitamin Me campaign to urge Australian’s to visist some of the State’s top attractions Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P Tourism Queensland (TQ) has teamed up with Jetstar and launched an AUD 500,000 campaign to encourage Australian’s to spend their annual leave in some of the State’s top destinations.State Tourism Minister Jan Jarrett said the campaign is the next chapter of their AUD4million “Vitamin Me” initiative which was launched in 2011, The Herald Sun reported.Part of the campaign offers one-way flights from Brisbane to Hamilton Island from AUD79.00 Sydney to the Gold Coast from AUD69.00 and Melbourne to the Gold Coast from AUD89.00.State Tourism Minister Jan Jarrett said last year would be looked back on by Australian’s as one of the most challenging and toughest years in Queensland’s tourism industry.“In 2012 we have the change to start afresh and make good on those New Year resolutions by getting out and spending more time with loved ones and there’s no better place to do that than in wonderful Queensland.Tourism Queensland acting chief executive Steve Mc Roberts said this next phase of the campaign is also designed to place Queensland at the top of Australian’s minds when planning their getaways.“During the first phase of the promotion the “Vitamin Me” home page received more than 78,000 visits,” Mr Mc Roberts said.”The results of the campaign are proof, once you reward yourself with a Queensland holiday and find your shine you’ll want to hold onto that feeling and the best way to do that is by keeping your Vitamin Me levels topped up with regular breaks in Queensland.”last_img read more

CTM considers new acquisitions

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Meeting client demands for all rounded travel businesses, Corporate Travel Management (CTM) announced it has set aside up to $7 million for new acquisition and business growth.Announced yesterday, the company cash was raised from a successful placement of up to 3.25 million shares at $2.15 per share and was achieved through “organic growth and client retention”, according to CTM managing director Jamie Pherous.He explained the company was “actively looking” for new acquisition opportunities that meet clients’ needs and address the company’s growth plans.“CTM’s proven acquisition methodology not only allows us to identify compelling business synergies, but also provides an assessment of the operation and identifies way in which CTM can most effectively add value to the acquires business,” he said.“The needs of our clients are also a direct influence on the type of opportunities being considered by CTM, with many clients demanding cross-border travel solutions or a broader travel service offering.” last_img read more

Mother Nature provides perfect start to winter in Lake Wanaka

first_imgLake Wanaka, recently named amongst the top 25 ski resort towns in the world by National Geographic Magazine, is poised to live up to its reputation.  Mother Nature has provided a perfect start to the 2012 winter season, delivering over 50 centimetres of fresh powder to the region this week. “The timing couldn’t have been better for those travelling to Wanaka for the school holidays,” said James Helmore, general manager of Lake Wanaka Tourism.  “All four ski areas will be open by Friday (29 June) and the new snow will allow the mountains to put plenty of terrain on offer.” Seen as one of the world’s premier adventure towns, Lake Wanaka gets the most snow in New Zealand, with over 4metres (160in) in an average season. Its four mountain resorts combine to offer a wide variety of skiing, snowboarding and cross country terrain.  Home to many of New Zealand’s elite snow sports athletes; Wanaka offers everything from perfectly groomed beginner slopes to powdery steep slopes that promise to get the adrenaline pumping.  Those looking for time in the air can take advantage of world-class park and pipe facilities and, on any given day, will likely be skiing or riding alongside some of the world’s best.  Wanaka is also home to New Zealand’s only cross country ski area, Snow Farm which provides a truly unique experience for those looking to improve their fitness while enjoying the peace and quiet of the winter outdoors.Visitors to Lake Wanaka can also take advantage of the areas new OnePassNZ, which provides unlimited freedom to ski and ride at eight of the South Islands favourite mountain resorts, including all four Wanaka resorts (Cardrona, Treble Cone, Snow Park and Snow Farm). “What makes this pass unique is that it allows visitors freedom to ski any of the eight mountains as they choose,” says Nigel Kerr, Treble Cone marketing manager.  “Beyond that, the pass can also be used to rent gear, take lessons, eat in local restaurants and experience an array of other activities like skydiving, jet boating, spas, vineyards and more.”“It’s magical when the peaks surrounding Wanaka are covered in white,” said Helmore.  “The town is buzzing and we’ve once again become a winter wonderland.” Looking down the Cardrona Valley towardsLake Wanaka, from Cardrona Alpine Resort. Source = Lake Wanaka Tourismlast_img read more

Etihad expands Morocco presence with new Rabat service

first_img07.25 Flight no. Wed / Fri 15.15 Arrives   EY 616 Abu Dhabi DOW   EY 615 Rabat Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is increasing its presence in Morocco with the launch of a new twice-weekly service between Abu Dhabi and Rabat to create a direct link between the two capitals.Scheduled to start on 15 January 2016, and providing the only scheduled air link between the UAE and Rabat, the new service will be operated on Wednesdays and Fridays using an A340-500 aircraft configured to carry a total of 240 passengers, with 12 in First Class, 28 in Business Class, and 200 in Economy Class.The new service is Etihad Airways’ second destination in Morocco and complements its existing daily service to Casablanca. This brings to nearly 4,200 the total number of seats available to passengers travelling on Etihad Airways’ services between the UAE and Morocco each week.James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our service to Casablanca has performed strongly since it was launched in June 2006 and I am delighted to build on this success with the introduction of the additional service to Rabat.“The new service provides passengers with more choice and two-way connectivity between Morocco and the UAE, and onwards over our hub in Abu Dhabi to key destinations across our global network in the GCC, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia.“We remain committed to building sustainable ties in the North African region and deepening the strong relationship between Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.”The UAE and Morocco are united by a long history of cooperation and the growth of economic and trade relations between the two countries has developed significantly over recent years, with major UAE exports to Morocco including petrochemicals, metals, foodstuff products, transport equipment, tools and appliances.Like the UAE, the Moroccan Government has made significant investments in the development of its tourism industry. In 2010 the government launched its Vision 2020 which includes plans to make Morocco one of the top 20 tourist destinations in the world and double the number of international arrivals into Morocco to 20 million per annum by 2020.Etihad Airways is able to extend its reach across North Africa through its codeshare agreement with Royal Air Maroc, providing passengers with direct flights from Casablanca to destinations throughout Morocco, including Agadir, Marrakech, and Tangier.Etihad Airways also operates scheduled services to nine other destinations in Africa, including: Johannesburg, Khartoum, Casablanca, Cairo, Lagos, Nairobi, Entebbe, Dar es Salaam (from I December 2015) and Mahé in the Seychelles.Daily flight schedule between Abu Dhabi and Rabat, effective 15 January 2016, subject to Government approval: Origin Destination 20.00 Aircraft A340-500 Departs Abu Dhabi Rabat A340-500 Wed / Fri 10.00 Fly Etihad AirwaysSource = Etihad Airwayslast_img read more

Pan Pacific Hotels Group appoints Lothar Wilhelm Nessmann as new CEO

first_imgPan Pacific Hotels Group appoints Lothar Wilhelm Nessmann as new CEOPan Pacific Hotels Group appoints Lothar Wilhelm Nessmann as new CEOPan Pacific Hotels Group (PPHG) has announced the appointment of Lothar Wilhelm Nessmann as its new Chief Executive Officer effective 1 March 2017, following the departure of Bernold O Schroder in December 2016.PPHG, a wholly-owned hotel subsidiary of Singapore-listed UOL Group, is one of Asia’s most established hotel and property companies. Headquartered in Singapore,PPHG owns and/or manages over 30 hotels, resorts and serviced suites, with nearly 12,000 rooms, across Asia, Oceania, North America and Europe under its two acclaimed brands – “Pan Pacific” and PARKROYAL.Lothar has close to 30 years luxury hospitality experience gained from working in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, the Middle East and Europe. He joins PPHG following a 20-year career with the Shangri-La Group, where he held senior management positions ranging from General Manager to Vice President of Operations, and as Chief Operating Officer where he was instrumental in the development and positioning of Shangri-La’s Hotel Jen brand.With Lothar’s wealth of international experience, he will lead PPHG and be responsible for its overall performance, operations management, growing the “Pan Pacific” and PARKROYAL brands in key gateway cities and building stronger partnerships with our hotel owners. “The appointment of Lothar comes at a very strategic time for the Group as it continues to expand its presence in major gateway cities across Asia Pacific and gears up to establish its presence in new markets,” said Gwee Lian Kheng, Group Chief Executive, Pan Pacific Hotels Group.“We are looking forward to Lothar’s valuable contribution, particularly in enhancing operational excellence and driving top-line revenue across our hotels, resorts and serviced suites; as well as his ability to draw on his previous experience of operating luxury and upscale brands within the same portfolio. Having worked closely with the Shangri-La Group’s family for a considerable number of years, Lothar also has an acute understanding of the Asian culture.”Lothar joins the Group in a year that will see the opening of PPHG’s sixth property in China – the 220-room, flagship Pan Pacific Beijing – and also the “Pan Pacific” brand’s first foray into Myanmar with the opening of Pan Pacific Yangon, a joint venture project in which it has a 40% share. The Group will also unveil its refreshed PARKROYAL Penang Resort following a USD11 million investment.Close on the heels of the Beijing and Yangon openings will be Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Puteri Harbour, Johor, the “Pan Pacific” brand’s first serviced suites product in Malaysia; PARKROYAL Langkawi Resort; and the UOL-owned Pan Pacific London, which will mark PPHG’s first entry into Europe.About Pan Pacific Hotels GroupPan Pacific Hotels Group is a wholly-owned hotel subsidiary of Singapore-listed UOL Group Limited, one of Asia’s most established hotel and property companies with an outstanding portfolio of investment and development properties. Based in Singapore, Pan Pacific Hotels Group owns and/or manages over 30 hotels, resorts and serviced suites with nearly 12,000 rooms including those under development in Asia, Oceania, North America and Europe. The Group comprises two acclaimed brands: “Pan Pacific” and PARKROYAL. “Pan Pacific” is a leading brand in Asia and the Pacific Rim with hotels offering premium accommodations and services. PARKROYAL is a collection of comfortable leisure and business hotels and resorts located in the heart of cities and interesting locales across Asia Pacific. For more information, visit pphg.comSource = Pan Pacific Hotels Grouplast_img read more

Madeira A pristine island with local heritage

first_imgMadeira is a Portuguese archipelago situated in the North Atlantic Ocean known for its wine, warm subtropical climate, diverse history and never-ending tales of glory. Madeira is studded with botanical gardens and known for its varied flora and fauna. Source: Expedialast_img

Redfin Prices Up Sales Sluggish as Buyers Go to War

first_img Share in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Redfin: Prices Up, Sales Sluggish as Buyers Go to War Prices rose in February for the 11th straight month as markets across the country picked up speed, according to “”Redfin’s””:http://blog.redfin.com/blog/2013/03/february-real-time-home-price-tracker.html Real-Time Price Tracker for the month.[IMAGE]The monthly tracker, which measures home prices, sales, and inventory across 19 U.S. markets, showed prices were up 2.4 percent from January to February. On a year-over-year basis, prices increased 13.2 percent, marking the 11th consecutive month in which prices showed annual gains.In addition, 15 of the 19 metro areas measured by Redfin reported month-over-month increases, up from eight in January. On a yearly basis, all 19 markets saw price improvements, led by Phoenix, Arizona (30.3 percent), and Sacramento, California (25.6 percent). The smallest gains were in Long Island, New York (2.4 percent), and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2.2 percent).Across all 19 markets, the average price was $182,000.While prices rose, Redfin noted relatively little movement in sales–surprising, considering the jump in home tours and offers observed at the year’s start. [COLUMN_BREAK]””This is due to the fact that especially in the markets in California, Denver, Washington, DC and Austin, a single home often attracts dozens of offers, yet only one buyer closes the deal,”” Redfin’s Rachel Musiker said in a “”company blog””:http://blog.redfin.com/blog/2013/03/february-real-time-home-price-tracker.html.Nine markets saw sales increase month-over-month, while 11 saw yearly gains. Percentage-wise, sales were up 0.7 percent from January and 2.3 percent from February 2012.Meanwhile, inventory shortage remains a critical problem, especially with buyer interest quickly rising. According to Redfin, “”[h]omeowners are still ignoring pleas from across the real estate industry”” to list their homes, resulting in a 31.8 percent year-over-year inventory decline.””If you’re a glass-half-full kind of person, you may want to focus on the 1.1 percent month-over-month increase in inventory we saw in February,”” Musiker said.While low inventory drove down sales and boosted prices, it had one other effect: quickening the speed of the market in certain areas. Thirty-four percent of new listings are now going under contract within two weeks of their debut, up from 30.3 percent in January.””A big part of the problem is that when a home goes on the market, homebuyers are in a race to get their offers in and start a bidding war,”” Musiker explained. “”In February, more than one-third of new listings went under contract within 14 days of their debut. In San Francisco and San Jose, CA 57 and 63 percent of homes, respectively, sold that quickly.””center_img March 19, 2013 425 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Demand For-Sale Homes Home Prices Home Sales Housing Supply Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Redfin Service Providers 2013-03-19 Tory Barringerlast_img read more