Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories A website in Polish, English and Russian, kolejna2012.pl, will help them use the system and offer other travel guidance, including for the handicapped.At a cost of 90 billion zlotys ($25.5 billion; euros 20.5 billion), Poland has upgraded its roads, travel facilities, hotels and stadiums for the three weeks of the tournament.A special train connection opened Thursday linking Warsaw’s Frederic Chopin airport, the city center and the National Stadium, where the tournament, co-hosted by Ukraine, will kick off June 8 with a Poland-Greece match.To help ease intensified air traffic during the games, an alternative airport in nearby Modlin will serve as backup for chartered flights, provided it gets all the necessary certificates in time, said Modlin airport spokeswoman Edyta Mikolajczyk.Modernized and refurbished, Modlin is currently receiving small planes and Ryanair is to be the first commercial airline to fly to Modlin on July 16 .(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 0 Comments Share WARSAW, Poland (AP) – People traveling in Poland during next month’s Euro 2012 football championship will be able to check train schedules and buy tickets online.Transport Minister Slawomir Nowak said Thursday that people will be able to do that on their computers or cellphones with Bluetooth and get encoded tickets that make paper ones unnecessary. The procedure will be available at stations in tournament’s four cities: Warsaw, Wroclaw, Gdansk, Poznan and also in Renaissance Krakow, which is popular with foreign tourists. Sponsored Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top holiday drink recipes
Sponsored Stories He pleaded guilty to the second count of the indictment Thursday in a hearing in El Paso. The deal calls for 33 months in prison, but as part of the agreement, prosecutors have agreed not to oppose his request to be transferred back to his home country. It also carries a fine of $11,357, the amount of money he would have profited from missile parts deal for which he was indicted.U.S. District Judge David Briones will decide Tappin’s sentence Jan. 9.The retired British businessman has been living in an upscale Houston neighborhood since his release on a $1 million bond in April.Tappin’s last half year in the U.S. has been “as pleasant as time away from his family can be,” his lawyer Dan Cogdell said after the hearing. “He plays golf every day, he’s made new friends, but he is away from his family.”Tappin’s wife, Elaine, said in a statement Thursday that she hoped her husband’s plea deal would mark the “beginning of the end” of her family’s ordeal. She added her “overwhelming feeling remains one of anxiety and sadness … however at last I dare hope that Chris will be back on home soil next year.” Top Stories Tappin fought extradition to the United States for two years until being denied a petition to take the case to Britain’s Supreme Court. After he was brought to Texas, Tappin was held at the Otero County Jail for about two months, where he initially was put in solitary confinement at his request.Two men have already been sentenced to prison for charges stemming from the indictment. Gibson, another British national, pleaded guilty in April 2007 and was sentenced to 24 months in prison. Robert Caldwell, from Oregon, was found guilty in July of that year and received a 20-month sentence.___Reporter Raphael Statter contributed to this report from London.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Associated PressEL PASO, Texas (AP) – A British man accused of trying to buy missile parts from undercover American agents and resell them to Iran pleaded guilty Thursday in a deal that would carry nearly three years in prison but could allow him to serve much of that time in his native United Kingdom.Christopher Tappin, 66, faced charges of conspiracy to illegally export defense articles, aiding and abetting the illegal export of defense articles and conspiracy to conduct illegal financial transactions. The federal indictment filed in 2007 said a cooperating defendant provided computer files showing Tappin intended to send surface-to-air-missile batteries to a Tehran-based company and that he and the cooperating defendant had illegally sold U.S. technology to Iran in the past.In 2006, Robert Gibson, an associate of Tappin contacted an undercover company in order to procure batteries for Hawk Surface-To-Air Defense Missiles. The negotiations let to Gibson’s arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.The U.S. government alleged Tappin provided undercover agents with false documents to deceive authorities and circumvent the requirement for the batteries to be licensed by the government before being exported.Tappin’s extradition in February touched a nerve in Britain, where many contend the fast-track extradition arrangements between the U.K. and the U.S. are unfairly weighted in Washington’s favor.Cogdell said he didn’t see much room for argument and pleaded guilty “because he was guilty.”“He regrets his conduct, he regrets the time away from his family, he regrets the notoriety,” the attorney said.Tappin remained free on bond pending his sentencing. Cogdell said he expected Tappin to spend several months in a U.S. prison after he enters his request to serve the remainder of his sentence in his home country. The request will have to be approved by the Office of Enfocement Operations of the Department of Justice. The British government will also have to accept Tappin in one of its prisons. Comments Share New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day
How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation The nation’s warp-speed revolution is fragile. Its nascent transition has already been bloody. And much unfinished business remains: from repealing harsh laws that helped silence a generation of pro-democracy dissidents, to overhauling a political power structure still tipped heavily in favor of army rule.“If President Obama doesn’t put his full weight behind further urgent reforms in Myanmar, this trip risks being an ill-timed presidential pat on the back for a regime that has looked the other way as violence rages, destroying villages and communities just in the last few weeks,” said Suzanne Nossel, the U.S.-based director of Amnesty International.White House officials cautioned Thursday that Obama’s visit to Myanmar, also known as Burma, should not be viewed as a “victory celebration.” They reiterated that urgent action is still needed, particularly on freeing political prisoners and ending the unrest in western Rakhine state.“This is a moment when we believe the Burmese leaders have put their feet on the right path and that it’s critical to us that we not miss the moment to influence them to keep going,” said Danny Russel, Obama’s top Asia adviser. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The “democratic opening has allowed for repressed voices … both negative and positive, to emerge,” said Aung Naing Oo of the Vahu Development Institute think-tank, who traveled back to his homeland for the first time this year after fleeing two decades before.But the upside is clear: “Myanmar is no longer a dictatorship,” he said.Given the new democratic equation, solving the conflict in Rakhine state will be difficult because the Rohingya are a deeply unpopular cause that few politicians will defend _ not Thein Sein, and not even Suu Kyi, whose party is looking toward elections due in 2015. Thein Sein appeared to make conciliatory remarks on the Rohingya in a letter to the United Nations on Friday, saying he would consider new rights for the minority, including citizenship, work permits and freedom of movement. But he stopped short of a full commitment and gave no timeline for addressing the situation.There is also concern that the U.S. can do little to help.America’s own interests _ businesses are keen to tap into what is for them virgin territory rich in natural resources _ are at risk of trumping human rights. And Obama’s trip is also part of a broader effort to bolster U.S. influence in a region dominated by China. Washington’s decision to suspend sanctions this year has also dramatically diminished its leverage here, said Aung Din of the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma, which has called on Obama to cancel his trip.“The risk, without political and economic pressure, is that we will not see the process of democratic change moving forward,” he said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments Share Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Associated PressYANGON, Myanmar (AP) – In the west, terrified villagers flee burning homes after an explosion of ethnic and religious violence. In the north, refugees from a civil war cower in chilly camps, desperately short on life’s basic necessities. And in dank jails, hundreds of political prisoners languish behind bars, wondering when they’ll ever be freed.This is not the Myanmar that President Barack Obama will see when he becomes the first American head of state to visit this pagoda-studded country on Monday. He wants to encourage the stunning democratic transformation Myanmar has undergone since last year, but there are concerns his visit may be premature. Sponsored Stories The problem is “not with the political leadership at the top,” he said, “but with the enormity of challenges facing this country after decades of war, repression, and international isolation.”Myanmar is a country where oxen still haul carts of wheat past simple houses made of bamboo and dried leaves, much like they did centuries ago. Its education and health systems are neglected, in tatters. And although the country exports electricity, its infrastructure is so poor and mismanagement so high that only about 25 percent of people living here have access to electricity.The nation’s best and brightest are abroad: A 1988 crackdown on democracy protesters forced a generation of skilled labor to flee. Refugees _ hundreds of thousands in Thailand alone _ continue to live in camps, still too uncertain to return.Although Thein Sein’s administration has been widely credited with beginning the monumental task of turning the ship of state around, it also has seen grave setbacks.Chief among them: the collapse of a 17-year-old truce with ethnic Kachin rebels in the north. That triggered a wave of fighting that has driven more than 75,000 people from their homes. On Wednesday, Kachin rebels attacked a prison convoy, killing two convicts and injuring 14 others, state media reported. The vital role family plays in society There is little doubt that the reforms in Myanmar have come quicker and gone farther than anyone here dared dream.Just a few years ago, this was a place denigrated by Washington as an isolated “outpost of tyranny,” a country led by a xenophobic clique of army officers so distrustful of the West that they rejected foreign aid even when Cyclone Nargis killed more than 100,000 people in 2008.Even when the junta ceded power to an elected government early last year, few considered the prospect of real change. The vote, boycotted by the main opposition, was considered neither free nor fair, and the new president, Thein Sein, was a former general.But Thein Sein’s government surprised the world. It freed hundreds of political prisoners, though not all of them. It signed cease-fire deals with numerous rebel groups. It abolished a draconian system of media censorship. It revamped finance and investment laws. Aung San Suu Kyi _ the longtime opposition leader who spent most of the last two decades as a prisoner in her own home _ is now an elected lawmaker with an official voice in government.Today, the consensus is the reforms are irreversible. But that doesn’t mean “the future is necessarily bright,” said Myanmar historian Thant Myint-U, the grandson of the late U.N. Secretary General U Thant. In western Myanmar, another 110,000 people have been displaced in a separate conflict between the Buddhist Rakhine and the stateless Muslim Rohingya. Many Rohingya were born in Myanmar, but they are denied citizenship because the government considers them foreigners from neighboring Bangladesh.The conflict has degenerated into an anti-Muslim campaign also targeting the Kaman minority.“Please tell Obama that we want to go home,” one woman pleaded this week in Sin Thet Maw, where she fled with 5,000 other ethnic Kaman Muslims after Buddhist mobs turned their neighborhood to ashes and forced them to flee on boats.“We have no schools, no medicines, no toilets,” the 48-year-old, Ohnmar Saw, said. “We need help, and nobody is helping us.”Although the crisis in the west goes back decades, it has been exacerbated _ ironically _ by the newfound right to freedom of expression the U.S. has pushed so long for. Racist rants against the Rohingya have appeared online with increasing frequency and viciousness. The government’s lifting of a longstanding ban on protests has paved the way for massive anti-Muslim protests staged by Buddhist monks, bolstering nationwide antipathy toward Muslims and setting the stage for the latest spasm of violence in late October.
Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement MADRID (AP) – Spain has announced measures to speed up the naturalization of Jews of Sephardic descent whose ancestors fled the Iberian peninsula more than five centuries ago when they were told to convert to Christianity or go into exile.Sephardi Jews have had the option of seeking Spanish naturalization for decades. The change announced Thursday gives them special status and sets up a process for their ancestry to be vetted by the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities and forwarded to authorities for approval. Comments Share Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project The federation says thousands of Sephardi Jews around the world could benefit, particularly those living in Latin America and Turkey.Many Sephardi Jews fled to places like Istanbul, London and Cairo after the 1492 decree. Others who didn’t convert were killed during the Inquisition.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona
SRINAGAR, India (AP) – Indian soldiers killed seven rebels in a gunbattle Monday in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, the army said.Army spokesman Lt. Col. Nitin Narhar Joshi said the fighting erupted after Indian soldiers came under rebel gunfire while patrolling the forested region of Kupwara.The report could not be independently verified.He said the soldiers suffered no casualties and troops are searching for other suspected rebels in the region. The area is about 150 kilometers (95 miles) northwest of Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments Share Since 1989, an armed uprising and a subsequent crackdown by Indian forces have killed an estimated 68,000 people. Although the armed rebellion is largely suppressed, resentment against Indian rule runs deep and is mainly expressed through street protests.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Parents, stop beating yourself up Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Patients with chronic pain give advice How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies
YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — Two bombs planted by suspected Boko Haram fighters went off at a bar in a northern town in Cameroon, killing at least 14 people, a military spokesman said Monday.Col. Didier Badjeck said three Chadian soldiers were among those killed Sunday in Fotokol, a town on the border with Nigeria’s Borno state. He said no Cameroonian soldiers were hurt.Resident Abdoulaziz Bambam said the death toll may rise because more bodies are being recovered. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments Share Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Fotokol was attacked by Islamic extremists in February when scores were killed and churches and mosques were burned.Troops from Cameroon and Chad are fighting Nigeria’s Islamic extremists in several communities, including Fotokol, on Cameroon’s border with Nigeria.In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the twin suicide bombings and extended condolences to families of the victims and the government and people of Cameroon.U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban is encouraged by the measures already taken by Cameroon’s government to counter the Boko Haram threat. The U.N. chief encourages countries in the region to further strengthen their cooperation to tackle the threat posed by the Islamic extremist group, he said.Ban also commends the government and people of Cameroon for welcoming refugees from the region since the beginning of the crisis, Dujarric said.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 4 must play golf courses in Arizona 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean
Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology It will be supported by the 100-meter Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia in the United States and the 64-meter Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.In addition, the Lick Observatory in California will conduct a deeper-than-ever search for optical laser transmissions.The project will be 50 times more sensitive than earlier searches, and will cover 10 times more of the sky, organizers say.It will also make use of SETI@home, a University of California, Berkeley project that uses some 9 million volunteers throughout the world who donate computer power to search astronomical data for signs of life.Milner said the search will be entirely transparent and will rely on open-source software so findings can be shared throughout the world.“Our approach to data will be open and taking advantage of the problem-solving power of social networks,” he said.The researchers say the focused computing power and the use of some of the world’s most powerful telescopes will allow them to collect in one day the same amount of data that would have taken one year to collect before the program began.Milner plans to back the program for at least 10 years although scientists agree it may take longer to find proof that alien life exists. Hawking said the new program should succeed because it has ample resources: access to time on major telescopes, a huge data capacity, and a long-term financial commitment that will not be withdrawn.“If a search of this sophistication finds no proof, that is an interesting result,” he said. “It will not prove that we are alone but it will narrow the possibilities and it is likely to produce data that is fascinating in its own right.”Based on new information about the number of other worlds where life could have taken hold it is “quite likely” humans are not alone, he said.“There is no bigger question,” Hawking said. “It is time to commit to finding the answer to search for life beyond Earth.”___An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Hawking said: “We are intelligent, we are alive, we must know.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories Sponsored Stories LONDON (AP) — The search for extraterrestrial life received a major boost Monday with the launch of an ambitious $100 million program, backed by famed physicist Stephen Hawking and tech billionaire Yuri Milner.Combining unprecedented computing capacity with the world’s most powerful telescopes, Hawking and the Russian-born Milner seek to intensify the so far fruitless search for life beyond the planet Earth. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation It is a coordinated plan to use the latest scientific methods to solve one of mankind’s enduring riddles: Are we alone?Hawking, who speaks using a computer-generated voice due to the effects of motor neuron disease, explained the reason for the project: “We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know.”Milner, who made a fortune through investments in companies like Facebook, said the power of Silicon Valley technology and innovation would be used.“The scope of our search will be unprecedented: a million nearby stars, the galactic center, the entire plane of the Milky Way and 100 nearby galaxies,” Milner told a packed press conference at the Royal Society in London.Organizers say the “Breakthrough Initiatives” project, also endorsed by other prominent British scientists, is the biggest ever scientific search for alien life. It includes a “listening” program — the effort to analyze vast amounts of radio signals in search of signs of life — and a “messaging” program that will include $1 million in prizes for digital messages that best represent the planet Earth.The messages will not be sent, however, in part because some scientists — including Hawking — fear messages sent into space could possibly spur aggressive actions by alien races. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments Share
With the Royal newly-weds opting for a luxurious East African honeymoon, South Africa receiving the world-wide accolade as number one holiday destination in the Daily Telegraph (a leading UK newspaper) and Cape Town being recognized as the top destination worldwide in Trip Advisor’s (a renowned travel portal) recent 2011 Travel Awards, there has never been a better time to visit this accessible Southern continent. With its breath taking scenery, exquisite cuisine and welcoming personality, Cape Town is a gem in Africa’s Crown waiting to be discovered.A city bursting with pride and culture, Cape Town is now rivaling traditional travel hot spots such as Paris, London and Rome. The city has placed itself firmly on the map as the World’s ‘must-see’ destination and what better way to experience this than by treating yourself to a luxurious stay at the world-renowned Cape Grace Hotel, also recently recognized for service excellence:“How wonderful that Ultratravel readers love the hotels with history, with charm, with the graciousness that makes a grand hotel truly, madly, deeply grand” Words directly from the Ultratravel awards where Cape Grace was awarded the highest praise as the Best Hotel in Africa (Daily Telegraph).At the same time, on the other side of the world, Cape Grace was recognised as one of the top five African Hotels for its fine tuned service and stunning location (Travel + Leisure US)Boasting some of the World’s finest seafood and wine, Cape Town hosts an array of culturally enriched festivals throughout the year. The Good Food & Wine show will be welcomed to its shores between 26th-29th May inviting celebrity chefs from around the globe to take guests on a unique culinary experience. Heston Blumenthal, an English gastronomic extraordinaire renowned for his sublime combinations, James Martin, whose food, good looks and charm have melted the hearts of many women over the years and Masterchef Australia Champion, Jonathan Daddia, will be a few of the famous chefs treating the city to the delights that got them to where they are today. As the official Hotel sponsor for the show, the celebrities will reside in the luxury, style and home-grown comfort of Cape Grace.Welcoming celebrity chefs, limited edition menus and wine gurus throughout the coming months, it is clear Cape Grace is in the mood to celebrate. Having been invited to participate at this years’ International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM Asia 2011) they will be representing Africa, as the perfect destination, whatever the requirement. Source = Racepoint Group Asia
Copenhagen, Denmark comes in at number four Travel agency specialist Flight Centre in New Zealand has released its top ten destinations across the globe for 2012 with special packages to match.Sitting at number one is Hawaii, where according to flight centre an increasing number of New Zealanders are taking advantage of cheap flights to the US and using the island as a stopover connection to Los Angeles and San Francisco,London came in at number two, with the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics’ Games on around the middle of next year, Flight Centre warns tickets and accommodation are filling fast.Nha Trang Vietnam, which ranks among the top beaches in Vietnam, offers plenty of sunshine and activities for the beach loving traveller, makes number three.Dubbed as one of Europe’s coolest green cities, Denmark come in at number four while Italy’s Amalfi Coast makes number five.It appears New Zealanders can’t get enough of the big apple with New York coming in sixth place and Arugam Bay Sri Lanka, which is famous for its excellent surfing conditions, comes in at number seven.Number eight is Zadar in Croatia, popular for its architectural heritage and Renaissance movement.Coming in at number nine is South America, with Argentina set to join New Zealand, Australia and South Africa in what has previously been known as the Tri Nations Rugby Tournament, interest from Kiwi’s to the destination is picking up.Tasmania is the top ten destination for 2012, according to Tourism Tasmania, around 310,000 Australians visit Tasmania each year.Flight centre reports that an increasing number of Kiwi’s are taking notice of its coastal landscapes and gourmet food and wine. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P
Qantas alters Italy route, in line with Emirates codeshare. Qantas has applied to reduce capacity and codeshare on Italy routes, pertaining to its agreement with Emirates.Qantas seeks to reduce capacity from 600 to 300 seats on the Italy route and enact a codeshare with Emirates by 31 March 2013.The International Air Services Commission (IASC) has permitted Qantas to codeshare on Emirates’ services between Dubai and Milan and provide services jointly with Emirates on the France route.After conducting a review of capacity held by HeavyLift, the IASC issued a decision revoking HeavyLift’s determinations on all routes on which it had allocations.Applications concerning Qantas’ Italy route request are now being taken by the IASC.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T.
Starwood Hotels has today announced an agreement with Shayer Leisure Holdings to build the W Hotels brand in Queensland.W Brisbane is part of a mixed-use development, it will be situated on George Street overlooking the Brisbane River.Starwood regional vice president Sean Hunt said that the building of the W Hotel Brisbane marks the re-entry into the Asia-Pacific market.Located on 300 George Street by the Brisbane River, the mixed-use development is a joint venture between Shayher Group and Pau Jar Group of Taiwan.The development will be comprised of three separate towers — W Brisbane will occupy one tower, while the other two towers will be used for premium office and commercial space and high-end residences. The development will also feature podium level retail outlets.There will be 305 stylish guestrooms, including 25 suites and an Extreme Wow Suite, a reinterpretation of the normal Presidential Suite.Source = ETB News: Tom Neale
DREAMLINES, the global cruise portal headquartered in Hamburg, Germany has announced they have acquired leading Australian cruising websites cruisecentre.com.au and cruiseaway.com.au.The company have now gained significant market share in Australia and are offering travelers greater cruising options and specialist support.CruiseCentre.com.au and CruiseAway are recognised as being among the top portals in the Australian cruise market and have been operated by Cruise Marketing Group until today.The two websites will now be operated by DREAMLINES alongside its current brand, each of the new portals has a significant existing customer base which is maintained by an experienced cruise consultant team.DREAMLINES Australia Country Manager, Holger Numrich said DREAMLINES will manage the existing customer bases with cruise experts.“In Australia, cruisecentre.com.au and CruiseAway have a reputation for being cruise specialists, both have a valuable existing customer base and the consultants are experienced cruise experts,” Mr Numrich said.DREAMLINES chief executive officer Felix Schneider, is delighted the global cruise portal has expanded in Australia and can now offer Australians a greater variety of cruising options.“We are very excited about our successful entry into the Australian cruise market, the acquisition of cruisecentre.com.au and CruiseAway is an important step for DREAMLINES to achieve our goal of becoming the global market leader in selling cruises online,” Mr. Schneider said.Source = ETB News: Lewis Wiseman
THAI is primary carrier to transport relief aid to NepalThai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) is a primary carrier assisting in the transport of rescue aid to Nepal following the earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal on 25 April 2015, by supporting the government sector to send medical teams, rescue teams, and relief supplies to those affected by the earthquake.Mr. Charamporn Jotikasthira, THAI President, said that THAI is a primary carrier to transport relief aid, medical personnel, and provide rescue assistance to people in Nepal by cooperating with the Royal Thai Government, Thai armed forces, and Thai Red Cross. THAI has prepared a two part plan that includes arranging a reservation center for those providing relief assistance and transporting cargo shipments carrying relief goods in the aircraft belly. Should Nepal request assistance from Thailand, priority aid will be given to the government and people of Nepal, as follows:Doctors, nurses, and personnel traveling to Nepal to assist earthquake victimsCivilian and military rescue units, as well as those from Thailand’s Ministry of Interior and Thai Red Cross.Transport of rescue equipment and medical equipment that the government sector needs in order to rescue and provide medical assistance.Transport relief goods from the Thai Government, with necessary items requested by the Royal Thai Embassy in Nepal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, such as blankets, food, tents, medicine, first aid equipment, and water.200 boxed meals and 500 bottles of water provided by THAI Catering are transported daily on THAI flights for Thai people seeking shelter at the Royal Thai Embassy in Kathmandu.As for the private sector and various foundations, THAI has set up a center to coordinate with various organizations transporting relief goods at THAI’s Crisis Management Operations Center at Tel. 02-545-3181 (24 hours a day).THAI also assists the Royal Thai Air Force in transporting relief goods to Nepal.THAI continues to operate normal flights on the route Bangkok-Kathmandu, one daily flight per day. Flight TG319 operates with Boeing 777-200 aircraft and departs from Bangkok at 10:15 hours and arrives in Kathmandu at 12:25 hours. Flight TG320 departs from Kathmandu at 13:30 hours and arrives in Bangkok at 18:15 hours.However, on 27 April 2015, flight TG319 from Bangkok to Kathmandu was unable to land at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu due to priority landing for the rescue plane in place by the government of Nepal, whereby rescue aircraft are mainly military aircraft transporting emergency goods. As well, Tribhuvan International Airport was heavily congested, with two aircraft parked on the taxi way and lack of aircraft parking bays, and as a result flight TG319 returned to Bangkok on 01:10 hours on 28 April 2015 and departed as special flight TG3199 on 28 April 2015 from Bangkok to Kathmandu at 09:15 hours. Today’s flight TG319 departed as normally scheduled at 10:15 hours.As telecommunication in Nepal is currently very difficult, THAI apologizes for any difficulty in contacting THAI’s sales office in Nepal. Passengers who require to depart from Nepal may make reservations and purchase tickets through the THAI office in Bangkok at the THAI Contact Center, Tel. (+66-2) 356-1111 (24 hours a day) or obtain flight information on www.thaiairways.com.Source = THAI Airways
Source = Nok Air Nok Air proud to be finalist for ‘Best Of The Best’ Awards by FlightStatsNok Air proud to be finalist for ‘Best Of The Best’ Awards by FlightStatsNok Air, Thailand’s premium low-cost airline, has been named by FlightStats as one of the ten finalists in the Low-Cost Carriers category for its 8th Annual Airline On-time Performance Service Awards. The winners will be announced in January 2017.“We are very much honored to be selected as one of the ten finalists this year for the 8th Annual Airline On-time Performance Service Awards, which was based on the comprehensive information that has detailed our on-time performance. We are truly proud to have a chance to represent Thailand in delivering such high standards and meeting international criteria. We have a great team at Nok Air doing their best making every flight a positive on-time experience as possible for all our passengers we get them to their destinations” said Mr. Patee Sarasin, Nok Air’s CEO.Click here to find out more details about FlightStats 8th Annual “Best Of The Best” Awards Finalists.About Nok AirNok Air is Thailand’s homegrown premium low-cost airline, continues to expand its network across Asia as the carrier with the distinctive personality. The unique and colorful fleet brings its warm service and professional standards to every corner of the Thai kingdom, at some of the most affordable prices. Offering complimentary services such as seat selection, in-flight snack, 15 kg luggage allowance, a cutting-edge distribution and payment channel, and Wi-Fi on board. For more information, please visit: www.nokair.com.
Luxury Escapes withdraw from ATASLux Group Ltd trading as Luxury Escapes have advised AFTA that they wish to voluntarily withdraw from ATAS effective 1 July 2018.As Luxury Escapes is no longer ATAS accredited they are not eligible to be a Finalist in the 2018 National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) and as such have been disqualified from Category 9, Best Online Travel Agency. In accordance with the NTIA Conditions of Entry (1.5) to be eligible in Category 9 a business must be ATAS accredited.The withdrawal includes the accreditation of recently acquired Scoopon Travel and Bon Voyage travel.AFTA are informing industry and consumers that the Lux Group is no longer ATAS Accredited and does not fall under the jurisdiction of the ATAS Charter or ATAS Code of Conduct.ATAS Participants whose accreditation has been cancelled must immediately take steps to remove any logo or reference to AFTA or ATAS from their website, business cards, any ancillary internet or social media sites you may use (such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) any printed material used to promote your business like brochures, flyers or newsletters and any other in store promotional materials used like certificates, stickers or window decals. Cancelled Participants are no longer eligible for the AFTA Chargeback Scheme (ACS).A notice has been posted to this effect on the AFTA website pursuant to s6.2 of the ATAS Charter.The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) is the peak body in Australia representing the retail travel industry. Founded in 1957, AFTA represents the majority of travel agents in Australia and includes all of the major travel agency groups.AFTA’s role is to uphold the interests of members in matters relating to the operation of all travel agencies in Australia. In broad terms these issues are ones that are not addressed by agent chain or corporate entities on behalf of their members, and are ones that involve the industry as a whole.ATAS -TRAVEL ACCREDITED: The AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS) is an industry accreditation Scheme that sets the benchmark of quality for the travel industry.ACS – AFTA Chargeback Scheme: Is a separate entity limited by guarantee as a Mutual Beneficiary Fund established for the benefit of ATAS Accredited AFTA members. ACS protects travel agents from debit and credit card chargebacks as a result of end supplier failure.AFTA is committed, through ATAS, to elevating travel industry standards in Australia by driving increased and continued participation by travel intermediaries in ATAS and raising consumer awareness of the benefits of booking travel through an ATAS accredited agent.The accreditation Scheme is open to all travel intermediaries (those that buy and sell travel).ACS participation is open to any ATAS accredited travel agent.Source = AFTA
CFPB,CFPB Releases Qualified Mortgage Criteria, Establishes Legal Protections Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Bankers Association Processing Regulation Service Providers Subprime Loans Underwriting Standards 2013-01-10 Tory Barringer in Government, Origination January 10, 2013 442 Views After many long months of waiting, the “”Consumer Financial Protection Bureau””:http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB) has finally issued its finalized “”qualified mortgage””:http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201301_cfpb_ability-to-repay-summary.pdf (QM) rule designed to protect both consumers and responsible lenders.[IMAGE]One of the biggest provisions of the QM rule is the newly set Ability-to-Repay rule, which demands that all new mortgages comply with basic requirements to protect consumers from taking on loans they can’t repay. The rule does away with so-called “”no doc”” and “”low doc”” mortgages, requiring that all of a borrower’s pertinent financial information must be supplied and verified, including: employment status, income and assets, current debt obligations, credit history, and monthly payments on the mortgage, among other information. Based on that information, the lender must be able to make a fair judgment on whether or not the borrower can really take on more debt.The Ability-to-Repay rule also stipulates that lenders base their evaluation of a consumer’s ability to pay on long-term views, discounting “”teaser”” or “”starter”” rates typically used in the introductory period.CFPB director Richard Cordray explained the Ability-to-Repay rule is a common-sense answer to curb the borrowing and lending behavior that led to the financial crash.””When consumers sit down at the closing table, they shouldn’t be set up to fail with mortgages they can’t afford,”” Cordray said. “”Our Ability-to-Repay rule protects borrowers from the kinds of risky lending practices that resulted in so many families losing their homes. This common-sense rule ensures responsible borrowers get responsible loans.””The rule will go into effect January 2014, according to the CFPB. Exceptions to the rule would apply for consumers trying to refinance from a risky mortgage to a more stable loan.The CFPB also announced it is considering proposed amendments to the Ability-to-Repay rule. These amendments would, among other things, exempt certain nonprofit creditors that work with low- and moderate-income consumers. They would also provide QM status for certain loans made and held in portfolio by small creditors such as community banks and credit unions. If adopted, the proposed amendments would be finalized this spring and would go into effect at the same time as the Ability-to-Repay rule.The bureau also announced other features of a QM beyond the Ability-to-Repay criteria. In order to meet QM requirements, a mortgage loan must limit points and fees (including those used to compensate originators) and have no toxic or risky loan features, such as interest-only payments or terms that exceed 30 years. There is also a 43 percent cap on the acceptable debt-to-income ratio, though there will be a transitional period during which non-qualifying loans that meet other affordability standards will be considered QMs.In addition, the CFPB explained there are two kinds of QMs that have different protective features for consumers and legal consequences for lenders.The first kind, QMs with a rebuttable presumption, are higher-priced loans given to consumers with insufficient or weak credit history. Legally speaking, the lenders who give these are presumed to have determined that the borrower has the ability to repay. Consumers can challenge the presumption by proving that they did not actually have the income to repay the mortgage and other living expenses. The second type of QMs are those that have a safe harbor status–generally lower-priced prime loans given to low-risk consumers. They offer lenders the greatest legal certainty that they are complying with the Ability-to-Repay rule, and consumers can only legally challenge their lender if they believe the loan does not fit the criteria of a QM.While QM status does not grant a lender complete immunity from borrower challenges, Cordray said in prepared remarks he believes the CFPB has “”limited the opportunities for unnecessary litigation”” by setting up clear guidelines.Mike Calhoun, president of the “”Center for Responsible Lending””:http://www.responsiblelending.org/, said in a response that the new rules “”strike a balanced, reasonable approach to mortgage lending–for the most part.””””But the rules also leave a pivotal issue unresolved: How the fees that lenders pay to mortgage brokers will be counted when it comes to defining a qualified mortgage. The CFPB should not create a loophole that allows high-fee loans to count as a qualified mortgage under Dodd-Frank,”” Calhoun said. “”If the broker payment issue is appropriately resolved, the rules will be–all in all–good for consumers, investors and the economy.””Debra Still, chairman of the “”Mortgage Bankers Association””:http://www.mortgagebankers.org/default.htm, expressed her own reservations, but said the organization applauds the approach and effort given.””This is a very complex rule. We remain concerned that certain aspects of it could curb competition, increase costs and tighten credit availability for borrowers. In particular, the 3 percent cap on points and fees appears to be overly inclusive as it relates to compensation and affiliates,”” Still said.””Additionally, we will be looking carefully at whether the interest rate threshold for the safe harbor, which is set at 150 basis points above the benchmark rate, will adversely impact too many borrowers,”” she continued. “”Ultimately, the final verdict on this rule will be made by the market.”” Share
in Headlines, News, Technology In an effort to enhance information security, Pro Teck Valuation Services announced Tuesday that the company has hired two new employees.According to a press release from Pro Teck, Luc Levensohn will fill the newly created position of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), that is expected to better the company’s information security programs.Levensohn has plenty of experience analyzing and assessing risk and building infrastructures for businesses that rely on data.Prior to his new postion, Levensohn held an IT and InfoSec leadership role with Pro Teck.In his new role, he will be responsible for securing Pro Teck’s information. This will include strategic leadership of the organization’s comprehensive information security program, managing a host of compliance requirements and evolving the goals, objectives and policies related to overall information security.“Pro Teck recognizes that Information Security is a growing concern across the financial services industry,” said Tom O’Grady, CEO of Pro Teck Valuation Services. “In order to keep ahead of potential risks, Luc will focus exclusively on managing the IT security policies and infrastructure required to operate in the 21st century.”Pro Teck also announced the promotion of Jay Rockne to Information Security Manager, where he will help manage Pro Teck’s information security program.“For the past 14 years Luc and his team have done an outstanding job protecting the confidential data of Pro Teck and its clients,” O’Grady said. “With expected growth and complexity of both threats and compliance standards, we are glad to have Luc and Jay more focused than ever on this mission critical task.” December 8, 2015 482 Views Information Security Pro Teck Valuation Services 2015-12-08 Staff Writer Pro Teck Announces Two New Information Security Hires Share
Market Mismatch Leaves Few Options for Starter Homes in Headlines, News Share Most potential home buyers are looking for starter homes, but a Market Mismatch Report by Trulia has found that these homes are becoming more difficult to find, particularly in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. The report examined market mismatch, which is interest versus available listings, in a side-by-side comparison of inventories. The mismatch score was based on all for-sale listings on Trulia in the largest 100 U.S. metros. Site traffic was matched to the property and the price. Price categories were based on a distribution curve made for each geographic. Listings price determined which price category the home fell into: starter, trade-up, or premium. Depending on the price and the number of days a house was listed, the number of searches it had, and the price, market mismatch percentage points were determined. The report found that Premium homes are at a surplus of 11 percentage-points nationally, while start-up and trade-up homes shortfall search interest by 5.7 and 5.3 percentage points each. This market mismatch has widened since Q4 of 2014 and indicates that buyers and sellers are drifting apart on prices. The competition for starter homes has ramped up with 26.9 percent of searches looking for 21.2 percent of listings. Trade-up homes similarly show a higher demand than supply with 30 percent of searches chasing 24.3 percent of listings. Not all markets feel the pinch equally however. Raleigh, North Carolina, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, have the largest gap between search volume and availability with a 14.0 and 13.1 percentage point market mismatch. Philadelphia on the other hand has a surplus of starter homes, 11.6 percentage points. A larger perspective of the report showed just how prevalent market mismatch was. “During the most recent quarter, of the largest 100 metros, 75 had a larger percentage of search interest in the starter homes category than percentage of listings that were actually starter homes. Ninety-two metros had a listing shortfall relative to search interest in the trade-up category. Meanwhile, only 11 of the largest 100 metros saw a larger percentage of search interest fall in the premium category compared with the percentage of listings in that same tier.” Markets with low premium home inventory typically share a theme of slower population homes, population declines, and more low quality housing. Detroit and Philadelphia are the only two markets with a surplus of listings in the starter and trade-up categories. Although inventories are declining throughout much of the country, the impact of the decline impacts local shoppers differently. For example, declines in start-up or trade-up homes in Philadelphia won’t impact shoppers much since most are looking for premium homes. But places like Houston and Dallas, interest in starter homes is met with too many premium options. The market disparity is the largest it has been in two years and it means that Americans are searching for homes in a market with dwindling options while sellers for premium homes will be left waiting longer to sell.Read the original report at Trulia.com. February 8, 2017 562 Views Starter Homes Trulia 2017-02-08 Rawan Shishakly
in Headlines, Technology Mortgage Cadence Origination TRID 2017-04-24 Rachel Williams Earlier this month, Mortgage Cadence acquired BeesPath Inc.’s ClosingBridge platform, now branded as Collaboration Center.Currently the platform will be offered as a standalone product, but in the future will be fully incorporate into Mortgage Cadence’s platform. ClosingBridge manages communications between borrowers, co-borrowers, real estate agents, sellers, attorneys, lending staff, title agents, and settlement agents on mortgage transactions.“Taking an innovative approach to a long-standing challenge in mortgage—unsecure communications involving borrower data and information—BeesPath has created an elegant, all-digital solution that securely connects all parties involved in the closing process,” said Michael Detwiler, Mortgage Cadence’s CEO “ClosingBridge is another strategic addition to our forward-looking Mortgage Cadence platform.”Tom Hougaard, president of BreesPath, will be joining Mortgage Cadence to oversee the rollout.“We are proud to welcome Todd and the Collaboration Center technology to the Mortgage Cadence product suite with near-immediate client availability,” said Trevor Gauthier, Mortgage Cadence’s President and COO. “Thanks to this exciting acquisition, our lenders will be able to provide their borrowers with the peace of mind that all collaboration regarding their transaction is being handled swiftly and securely for better compliance, efficiency and structured communication between all parties. In addition to accelerating our digital strategy, this asset acquisition puts more functionality into our clients’ hands sooner, enabling them to close loans more quickly while having the assurance that the loan communications are secure.”Mortgage Cadence is headquartered in Denver Colorado and is a subsidiary of Accenture. The company says they are excited to offer this new tool to help homeowners help streamline the closing process—especially in regards to the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule. April 24, 2017 803 Views Share Mortgage Cadence Introduces Collaboration Center