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Macedonian leaders struggling to solve political crisis

first_imgSKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Macedonia’s rival political leaders spent 12 hours in talks in Strasbourg, trying to resolve one of the country’s deepest political crises since its independence in 1991.Conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and left-wing Social Democrat opposition leader Zoran Zaev began talks late Tuesday along with several European Parliament and Commission members. European Parliament member Richard Howitt told The Associated Press the protracted talks showed “a commitment for continuing the process.” Comments   Share   Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Quick workouts for mencenter_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Gruevski and Zaev made no progress in talks in the Macedonian capital of Skopje earlier this week. A new meeting is scheduled for next week.The crisis stems from a long-running wiretap scandal that apparently showed wide corruption in the government.Zaev, who claims Gruevski is behind the wiretapping of 20,000 people, wants the government to resign and a caretaker administration be established to oversee a new election. Gruevski accuses Zaev of plotting a coup.In a speech to the European Parliament later Wednesday, Howitt called for political accountability for Macedonia’s wiretap scandal, saying nobody has suggested the leaked conversations were entirely fabricated.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous oflast_img read more

Frances lower house OKs bill to punish prostitutes clients

first_img PARIS (AP) — A bill which aims to make it illegal to buy sex has been approved by France’s lower house of Parliament for the second time on Friday, in a sharp battle that divides the two houses.Supporters argue that the bill backed by the lower house and the Socialist government would help fight human trafficking networks, while opponents defend those who buy sex from France’s 40,000 prostitutes.The bill as approved Friday would penalize clients and remove punishment for soliciting. The upper house — led by conservative opposition — wants the reverse, and rewrote the bill accordingly in March. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Comments   Share   Quick workouts for men Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The legislation will return to the Senate where the same scenario will probably repeat itself.At the end of a complex process, the lower house, dominated by the Socialists, has the final say — but the ultimate vote could be months away.Pascale Boistard, junior minister for women’s rights, recalled what she said to express her disappointment when the Senate rewrote the bill: “Prostitutes are still guilty and the customer is still king.”“I am happy now to say that this adage is over,” Boistard said Friday.Prostitution is currently legal in France, but prostitutes are often arrested and charged for soliciting in public. Brothels, pimping, and the sale of sex by minors are also illegal.The bill approved by the lower house aims to introduce a 1,500-euro (about $1,620) fine for buyers and decriminalize soliciting.The bill, if approved at Parliament, would make French law one of the toughest against sex buyers in Europe. It was inspired by a similar law introduced in Sweden in 1999.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Sponsored Stories Femen activists chanting slogans and carrying signs reading: Abolition of Prostitution, No Demand No Offer, demonstrate in front of the French National Assembly in Paris, Friday June 12, 2015, asking for the abolition of prostitution. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)last_img read more

After daughters mob killing Afghan family lives in fear

first_img Comments   Share   The Malikzada family has meanwhile retreated into the agony of their loss. “We don’t eat, we don’t sleep, we cry,” said Mohammad. “If at mealtime we remember that Farkhunda liked what we’re eating, we can’t eat anymore, we just cry.”___Follow Lynne O’Donnell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lynnekodonnell.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. In this Sunday, June 14, 2015, photo, Mohammad Nader Malikzada, 72, right, father of Farkhunda Malikzada, a young Afghan woman who was beaten to death by a mob, and his son, Najibullah Malikzada, center back, listen during an interview with The Associated Press as Mohammad’s grandchildren sit beside them at his house in Kabul, Afghanistan. The family of Farkhunda, killed by a frenzied mob in an attack that shocked the world with its brutality, are living in isolation and fear as they wait for justice they believe will never come. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Top Stories His despair was compounded this month when Afghanistan’s Primary Court released 37 of the 49 people convicted of Farkhunda’s murder pending their appeals against sentences the family has said are too light.After a peddler at a Kabul shrine falsely accused Farkhunda of burning a Quran, a mob attacked her as police watched. After punching, kicking and beating her with wooden planks, the crowd threw her from a roof, ran over her with a car and crushed her with a block of concrete. They then set her body alight on the bank of the Kabul River.Footage of the attack captured on cellphones circulated online, and the killing fueled widespread outrage. Protesters demanding women’s rights and judicial reform carried posters showing Farkhunda’s bloody face and held candlelight vigils. Her killing was re-enacted outside the shrine on the 40th day of her death by activists determined to keep her memory alive.But in the months since then, Farkhunda’s family — elderly parents and most of her seven sisters and two brothers, their wives and children — say they have been neglected by those who sought to use her name to further their own interests.Fearing violence, kidnapping, or retribution from police or members of the mob who have been released, they rarely leave the house. The adults don’t go to work, and the children no longer go to school or university. “What will happen if the children cannot go to school? Will they be illiterate?” said Najibullah, Farkhunda’s 37-year-old brother. Quick workouts for men Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The family of an Afghan woman killed by a frenzied mob in an attack that shocked the world with its brutality is living in isolation and fear as they wait for justice they believe will never come.Since Farkhunda Malikzada was killed on March 19, life has come to a standstill for those she left behind, said her father, 72-year-old Mohammad Nader Malikzada.“We cannot live a normal life, our children cannot go to school or college, we can’t even go shopping,” he told The Associated Press. “We are under such psychological pressure. It is hell in this house,” Farkhunda’s mother Bibi Hajira, said she feels their lives are in constant danger. “We want to see justice and we want to be moved to a safe place,” she said. “I don’t have power or money to fight for it.”In the days after Farkhunda’s murder, family members met with First Lady Rula Ghani, who said the “horrible, barbaric tragedy” had highlighted how violent Afghan society has become after more than 30 years of war.At the murder trial, four people were found guilty and sentenced to death. Charges against 18 men were dropped for lack of evidence, and eight others were sentenced to 16 years in prison. Of 19 policemen charged with dereliction of duty, eight were acquitted due to lack of evidence, and 11 were sentenced to one year in prison. This month, the Appeals Court upheld a decision to release 37 defendants ahead of their appeals.“These decisions are completely unacceptable,” said Mohammad. “Anyone who witnessed this brutal killing of an innocent girl and stood by and did nothing, they are also guilty,” he said. “All these people have been freed, others who were clearly involved have not been arrested.” Sponsored Stories How men can have a healthy 2019last_img read more

US official Russian bombers threaten commercial air safety

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Wilson said Russia’s motives in the increased bomber runs are unclear and part of a troubling pattern that includes the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last year.“Russia is using disinformation and misinformation and skillfully manipulating the media,” he said.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson said U.S. forces in the area are following accepted safety practices to make sure that accidents are avoided but Russian bombers do not take basic safety measures to prevent dangers to commercial air travel.“When we fly on a flight plan, we announce it, we squawk, our transponders are on, we talk to air traffic control. We’re following all the international norms,” Wilson said in a meeting at the RAF club in London. “That isn’t happening with Russia.”Wilson said so far Russian bombers have stopped short of crossing into European airspace but said the practice brings “unannounced” Russian bombers into international airspace heavily used by commercial pilots who depend on air traffic control guidance.“We would not do that,” he said. “It puts people at risk.”The Russian bomber runs have not caused any accidents.But a civilian plane was shot down last summer over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard. Ukraine and the West suspect it was destroyed by a Russian surface-to-air missile fired by Russian soldiers or Russia-backed separatist rebels fighting in the area. Russia denies that and has suggested it was a Ukrainian missile. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of LONDON (AP) — Russia’s increasingly aggressive military flights near European airspace pose a risk to commercial air safety in the region’s crowded skies, the commander of the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command said Friday.The past year has seen a marked increase in the number of long-range Russian bombers that have approached European airspace near Britain, the Baltics or Scandinavia and have been escorted out of the area. U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Stephen Wilson answers questions during a roundtable event at the RAF Club in London, Friday, June 19, 2015. A senior U.S. Air Force officer says Russian bombers’ increasing probes of skies near Europe pose a risk to commercial air safety. Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson said Friday that Russian bombers are not following international norms when flying near Britain, the Baltics or Scandinavia. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywallcenter_img Comments   Share   Parents, stop beating yourself up Sponsored Stories Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more

Pentagon chief urges balanced approach to Russian aggression

first_img 4 must play golf courses in Arizona BERLIN (AP) — Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the U.S. and NATO need to have a “strong but balanced” approach to Russia, and he questioned whether Moscow’s “backward-looking” aggressive behavior will change while President Vladimir Putin remains at the helm.Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Europe Sunday, Carter said he can’t be certain Putin will change direction, so allies must use a two-pronged approach that works with Russia on some issues while also girding to deter and respond to Moscow’s aggression. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall A key theme at all his stops will be how the United States, NATO and other partners can best deal with the Kremlin in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its military backing of separatists battling Ukraine’s government on the eastern border.But part of the calculous, Carter said, will be a new playbook for NATO that deals with Russia’s aggression while also recognizing its important role in the nuclear talks with Iran, the fight against Islamic State militants and a peaceful political transition in Syria.Officials said Carter, who left Washington on Sunday, plans to encourage allied ministers to better work together in countering threats facing Europe. His talks are sure to draw Putin’s ire as Moscow chafes under the prospect of continued sanctions.Carter also intends to talk with counterparts about a U.S. proposal to send to Eastern Europe enough tanks, Humvees and other military equipment to outfit one brigade.The equipment would be used for exercises and other training programs, but more importantly would allow a faster NATO response to a crisis in the region. The idea of placing it in Eastern Europe as part of military measures to reassure allies has been in discussion for months; Carter has yet to give his final approval. Top Stories Sponsored Stories “The United States at least continues to hold out the prospect that Russia, maybe not under Vladimir Putin, but maybe sometime in the future, will return to a forward-moving course, rather than a backward-looking course,” said Carter, just before arriving in Berlin.The Pentagon chief, who will attend his first NATO meeting as secretary this week, said he wants to lay out America’s balanced approach, which involves bolstering Europe’s military ability to deter Russia’s military actions. At the same time, allies need Moscow as they fight terrorism and hammer out a nuclear agreement with Iran.Carter’s trip comes as the European Union is expected to extend economic sanctions against Russia until January to keep pressure on Moscow over the conflict in eastern Ukraine. And it follows Putin’s announcement that he will add more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles that are capable of piercing any missile defenses.Putin’s remarks about the missiles were deemed “nuclear saber-rattling” by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Carter called it inappropriate behavior.Carter is expected to give a speech in Berlin, travel to Estonia, and attend a NATO defense ministers’ meeting this week. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sobercenter_img FILE – In this June 17, 2015 file photo, Defense Secretary Ash Carter waits to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington. Carter is expected to deliver a strong message of U.S. military support for European allies and Baltic nations when he heads overseas this week, as tensions with Russia spike over continued sanctions and Moscow’s ballistic missile buildup. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)n A fragile cease fire in Ukraine that was worked out in February has been broken repeatedly, and both sides blame the other for the spikes in violence.At an investment conference Friday in Russia, Putin blamed the U.S. and the European Union for triggering the Ukrainian crisis by refusing to take into account what he described as Russia’s legitimate interests.“They have pushed us back to the line beyond which we can’t retreat,” he said. “Russia isn’t seeking hegemony or some ephemeral superpower status.”While Russia may dominate much of the talks, the allies also will discuss how NATO can provide more assistance to Iraq, including plans to involve the alliance more officially in the fight against Islamic State militants.According to U.S. officials, NATO leaders will consider providing ministry-level advice and other training assistance in Iraq, with a possible decision approving the plan expected around July.Some allies are participating individually in the fight against IS, but NATO has not agreed on how it should weigh in as an alliance.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 How men can have a healthy 2019 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Comments   Share   Generally, a brigade has roughly 3,500 troops.Officials have not said where the equipment would go, but there are indications that Poland, which borders Russia, might be one location.Poland Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said last week that he has been in talks with Carter about putting the equipment in Poland and in four other eastern NATO nations.Just two weeks ago Carter convened a meeting of American defense and diplomatic leaders from across Europe, and concluded that the U.S. needs to strengthen its military exercises and training with nations in the region and bolster NATO’s intelligence-sharing to better counter Russia.He also acknowledged that the current international economic penalties against Russia have not stopped Moscow’s military support for separatists in Ukraine. He said that the U.S. and allies worry that Russia may use similar tactics and aggression against other nations in the region.Western leaders say Moscow is supplying rebels with manpower and powerful weapons, and have detailed Russian troop movements along Ukraine’s eastern border, including convoys of supplies, troops and weapons moving to bolster the separatists. Russia rejects those claims as unfounded.last_img read more

United and Continental to merge and create new airline

first_img“Building on our Star Alliance partnership, we are creating a stronger, more efficient airline, both operationally and financially, better positioned to succeed in a dynamic and highly competitive global aviation industry,” adds Mr Tilton.In a joint statement, the two carriers pledged to serve all the communities each carrier currently operates to under the merged entity.  The new United will carry more than 144 million passengers per year and fly to 370 destinations in 59 countries.With the merger expected to be complete in the fourth quarter of this year, the CEO will keep headquarters in both Chicago and Huston.  But the new airline’s operational headquarters will be located in Chicago, the current headquarters of United Airlines.Houston, which is currently the headquarters of Continental, will continue to see a strong presence from the merged company and will be the new airline’s largest hub.Unions say support will only come with job protectionFlight attendant unions have already spoken out on the new merger, saying their support will only be given if the two carriers agree on a contract with pay, benefit and work rule improvements.“They cannot move forward without various approvals by the government, other constituencies and agreements with labor,” said Greg Davidowitch, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President at United.  “Integration of inflight operations could take years to complete and it will not occur at all unless we can support the deal with the protection of our jobs and improvement of our careers upfront.” United Continental Dreamliner in new livery. Heads of United and Continental, Glenn Tilton and Jeff Smisek. United Airlines and Continental Airlines have formally announced that they will be merging and creating a brand new integrated entity, which will keep the United name but fly the Continental livery and logo.If approved by regulators and shareholders the two companies will merge under a new umbrella company called United Continental Holdings.  The airline created from the all-stock merger will be flying to 370 destinations around the world.Jeff Smisek, Continental Chairman, President and CEO, will lead the new company as its CEO and also sit on the board as Chairman.  Glenn Tilton, United Chairman, President and CEO will step back and serve as a non-executive Chairman.“Together, we will have the financial strength necessary to make critical investments to continue to improve our products and services and to achieve and sustain profitability,” said Mr Smisek.“We have forged a highly collaborative partnership with United over the past two years as we prepared for and executed a seamless transition to Star Alliance, an important achievement that gave us valuable experience in working together and built mutual respect between our two companies.”In late 2009 when Continental made the transition from SkyTeam into Star Alliance it had indicated the move was so that it could further cooperate with United Airlines. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.Xlast_img read more

No Leave No Life is no good for Australian tourism

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T The Shadow Minister for Tourism, Bob Baldwin, has called for Tourism Australia’s ‘No Leave, No Life’ campaign to be scrapped. Considering Australia’s tourism deficit now exceeds 1.2 million annual visitors, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, “It doesn’t make sense for the Government to be using taxpayer dollars to encourage people to take leave, only to see them go overseas” said Mr. Baldwin. Mr. Baldwin said Martin Ferguson, the Minister for Federal Tourism, “should immediately suspend the ‘No Leave, No Life’ campaign.” The high Australian dollar and peaking interest rates have left Tourism Australia in the wake of a perfect storm. The Shadow Minister said it was a waste of limited government funding to “be encouraging Australians to take leave if they are going to head overseas.” Mr Baldwin said it was important that domestic tourism campaigns increased domestic tourism expenditure and not be concerned with how many Australians were taking holiday leave.Mr. Baldwin didn’t disregard the ‘No Leave, No Life’ campaign entirely, stating it would be “better targeted in a new domestic tourism campaign or redirected to Tourism Australia’s current international marketing campaign” he said.last_img read more

Red Centre Tourism Ad Wins US Film Awards

first_imgSource = Northern Territory Government The Territory Government’s latest TV commercial promoting the Red Centre as a must-visit tourist destination has received the thumbs up by winning two international awards at film festivals in the United States.The Red Centre ad was awarded a Certificate of Merit from the 47th Hugo Television Awards at the Chicago International Film Festival last month.The Territory Government was also given an Award of Excellence at the US Accolade Competition, which recognises filmmakers who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity. The ad has been named in the “official selection” at the California International Shorts Festival 2011 with winners to be announced in June. The 45 second commercial, launched in February, was developed specifically for the Territory Government’s Red Centre campaign and invites viewers to the Red Centre, to Share Our Story.The ad features a businessman, on a road trip in the spectacular Red Centre with a female companion. The couple are seen fording rivers and swimming in stunning gorges, enjoying campfire barbecues, buying priceless art in Alice Springs and watching the sunrise from the warmth of swag.Tourism Minister, Malarndirri McCarthy said the recent film festival showings have meant the Red Centre has been exposed to a host of new audiences who may be inspired to travel to the Territory.“We have gained extensive exposure through the Red Centre campaign with this advertisement, which has already been seen by almost 3 million online users and more than 60% of television viewers along Australia’s Eastern Seaboard,” said Ms McCarthy.The commercial was shot by photographer and cinematographer Adrian Brown, using a stop-frame technique to capture high definition images.“Adrian’s distinctive filming technique triggers memories and imagery in the minds of the audience, as if they are recalling the journey for themselves,” she said.The film is complemented by the unusual and evocative soundtrack called Pixiphony by Australian duo Kyu.The commercial is part of a multi-media marketing campaign to promote the Red Centre, and activity was based on engaging with consumers via emerging communication platforms including digital, social and content creation.The Red Centre campaign ran from 12February to 30April 2011.last_img read more

Play Melbourne Victorias secret to mystery

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P We met Tourism Australia’s Andrew Mc Evoy and Qantas Holidays Simon Bernardi Tourism Victoria girlcenter_img Tourism Victoria has launched the next phase of its award-winning Jigsaw campaign, “Play Melbourne” which is designed to lure the Australian 20 to 30 year-old to the city.The campaign is based on the playful idea of encouraging travellers to be curious, take a chance, roll a dice, be spontaneous and explore the city on a whim.The promotion features a series of five to 60 second television commercials and an extended 75 second ad which follows a young attractive trio as they take chances exploring Melbourne.A series of press advertising, radio play, digital advertising and online commercials are being used to promote the new campaign which will cost AUD14 million and will run over three years nationally and in New Zealand from next year.As part of the campaign, a promotion is being run by Tourism Victoria that will see it give away a weekend away in Melbourne every week for the next year. The competition is in conjunction with Virgin Australia. Tourism Victoria managing director of marketing Don Richter said the key to discovering Melbourne’s many treasures is to be curious and prepare to take a chance no matter which way you turn.According to a national visitor survey, Mr Richter said Victoria is the most popular destination in Australia. However visitors tend to believe they have seen it all before and we are working on changing that way of thinking.last_img read more

Dubai Airport continues doubledigit growth pattern

first_imgDubai International Airport has showcased why it is the second busiest airport for international passengers, with double-digit growth in passenger movements during May this year compared to last year.According to a Dubai Airports traffic report, the international gateway experienced an 18.9 percent growth in passengers numbers recorded from 4.3 million in May 2012 to 5.2 million in May 2013.In addition, May was also the sixth consecutive month the airport recorded passenger numbers exceeding five million, while the year-to-date traffic is up 16.8 percent to 27.1 million compared to 23.2 million during the first five months of 2012.India remained the top destination country in terms of total passenger numbers for the month, while in terms of percentage growth in passenger numbers Eastern Europe remained the strongest market.Dubai Airport chief executive Paul Griffiths said it was also the airport’s tenth consecutive month of double-digit growth and expects it to get busier as Ramadan and summer approaches.Source = ETB News: N.J. Maintains its titles as secondbusiest airport for int’l passengers.last_img read more

Royal Caribbean introduces Voom fastest internet at sea

first_imgImage credit: www.royalcaribbeanblog.comBeginning today, Royal Caribbean International is making VOOM, its exclusive, high-speed internet service – the fastest at sea –available fleetwide on its 24 innovative ships sailing worldwide.VOOM, first introduced on the Quantum class of ships, including the US$1 billion Ovation of the Seas which is soon to call Australia home, allows guests holidaying with Royal Caribbean to always stay connected and to stream their favourite music, movies and TV shows to stay up to date on the latest happenings.Whether they are posting envy-inducing holiday photos on Instagram or Snapchat, or video-chatting with loved ones back home using FaceTime or Skype, travellers can share their adventures in real-time with family and friends. Guests can even relax or chill poolside while catching up on their favourite TV show or the newest movie.“VOOM is revolutionising the onboard experience for our guests as well as for our crew and it is truly a game-changer for the industry,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.“Everything our guests and crew can do online at home, they will now be able to do from onboard all of our ships around the world.”Known for the most innovative ships at sea, the cruise line has made a significant investment to enhance guests’ internet connectivity experience outfitting its newest smart ships with the latest and most advanced in technology and continually upgrading its existing fleet.Through a combination of Wi-Fi service providers, Royal Caribbean is able to deliver more overall bandwidth fleetwide than any other cruise line. The enhancements will provide speeds at least twice as fast as before and also have enabled the cruise line to provide service at prices that are less expensive than ever before – comparable to most land-based resorts.Travelers sailing on all Royal Caribbean ships can enjoy the fastest internet at sea at a flat price with guests choosing from two packages: Surf, which provides guests the opportunity to surf the web, stay in touch via email, and share their holiday photos on social media. Surf packages start at US$12.99 per device per day with additional devices added at a discounted cost. Family packages – 5 devices or more – start as low as US$8.99 per device per day.Surf and Stream, which is ideal for guests looking to do more than connect via email or social channels, but also want the capability to stream movies and music from Netflix or Spotify, and to connect using video chat apps such as Skype. This package is available for US$17.99 per device per day. Additional devices can be connected at a discount and family packages – 5 devices or more – start as low as US$11.99 per device per day.This pricing is a significant improvement from the standard programs currently offered throughout the industry, many of which charge on a per-minute basis. Royal CaribbeanSource = Royal Caribbean Internationallast_img read more

Si Travel Group acquires Freestyle Holidays

first_imgSi Travel Group acquires Freestyle HolidaysSi Travel Group, last week entered into an agreement to acquire Freestyle Holidays from Pinpoint Travel Group, which also includes the license to operate Rosie Holidays in Australia.Freestyle Holidays is Australia’s largest independent wholesaler of travel solutions providing product from all major destinations worldwide including USA, Hawaii, Maldives, Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Australia and Vanuatu.The acquisition, effective December 1, will be Si Travel Group’s first major acquisition as it looks to position itself as a leader in wholesale distribution and service products in the travel industry.Tui Eruera, Managing Director of Si Travel Group, said “We are very excited to be taking on such a well-respected Australian wholesale business as it will significantly scale and broaden our expertise in the travel industry and form a solid base for further business developments in the future.”This acquisition forms a key part of Si Travel Group’s business acquisition strategy to seek growth opportunities in the travel and tourism sector.“We have an appetite for businesses that can be improved through technology, and we see Freestyle Holidays as an opportunity to invest and incorporate new technology platforms to accelerate growth.”Freestyle Holidays will be moved from their current Rozelle offices to Si Travel Group’s headquarters in Balmain. Source = Si Travel Grouplast_img read more

Emirates Year of Zayed aircraft land on six continents

first_imgThe Emirates ‘Year of Zayed’ A380 makes a scenic landing in Hong Kong.Emirates ‘Year of Zayed’ aircraft land on six continentsEmirates celebrates HH Sheikh Zayed’s centennial birthday with six special livery landingsEmirates has landed six of its special ‘Year of Zayed’ livery aircraft on six continents for the 6 May centennial birthday of the UAE’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman & Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group, said: “Today, we celebrate the centennial anniversary of the birth of the UAE’s founding father, His Highness Sheikh Zayed, who dedicated his life to building a thriving and vibrant UAE. The principles and initiatives he set in motion have become the foundations for the UAE’s progress. We hope through our special liveries we honour his memory and legacy and help spread his inspirational messages around the world as our aircraft continue to circle the globe in 2018.”This tribute to the late His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was first unveiled in November 2017 on the fuselage of Emirates’ 100th A380 aircraft, commemorating the 100th year of HH Sheikh Zayed’s birth. A total of 10 Emirates aircraft carry the special livery for 2018. The ‘Year of Zayed’ Emirates aircraft have circled the globe to over 90 cities on over 1,800 flights. Source = Emirateslast_img read more

ONYX Hospitality Group announces its second Amari property in Laos

first_imgONYX Hospitality Group announces its second Amari property in LaosONYX Hospitality Group announces its second Amari property in Laos with Amari Vientiane‏ONYX Hospitality Group, one of the region’s leading hotel management companies, has a management agreement with Laos-based Asia Investment, Development & Construction Sole Co,Ltd. (AIDC), to develop a new-build Amari hotel in the city centre of Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. AIDC is an investment and construction joint venture led by Tang Charoen Group, developer of Amari Vang Vieng which opened early this year.‏‏Amari Vientiane will occupy a central Mekong Riverside location at the intersection of Quai Fa Ngum and Khun Bu Lom Roads, a short stroll to the city’s popular ‘night market street’ and the Chao Anouvong Park. Vientiane’s other top city centre attractions including the Patuxay Victory Monument, Lao National Museum and Wat Si Saket are easily accessible on foot or by tuk tuk or fixed-route shared jumbos.‏‏Featuring 250 rooms and suites in a 15-storey building, Amari Vientiane will offer all the key Amari brand signatures including service from Amari Hosts, the street market-style Amaya Food Gallery, Breeze Spa, creative meetings facilities and generous indoor and outdoor space thoughtfully designed for sharing and informal gatherings. Other facilities include a specialty restaurant, an outdoor pool and fully equipped fitness centre.‏‏Douglas Martell, President and Chief Executive Officer, ONYX Hospitality Group, said: “We are excited to be in partnership with AIDC and extending our collaboration with Tang Charoen Group to establish their second Amari property in Laos. As a rapidly booming tourism destination, Laos recently saw the doubling in capacity of its international terminal at Vientiane’s Wattay International Airport. We look forward to the opportunity of targeting more international visitors as flight connectivity increases in the coming years. This deal is part of the strategic expansion of the ONYX portfolio, with 50 operating properties and‏ ‏close to 30 additional projects‏ ‏ in the development pipeline.”‏‏Mr. Pheutsapha Phoummasak, President of Asia Investment, Development & Construction Sole Co.,Ltd. (AIDC), said “‏ ‏We are pleased to be in partnership with ONYX Hospitality Group, one of leading hotel management companies in Asia Pacific, for the first time. I look forward to being a part of this project’s success. We are proud to play a key role in Laos’ ongoing tourism and robust economic growth. Laos is a beautiful country with a huge tourism potential, with its natural wonders and welcoming people, and is poised to be one of the fastest growing Southeast Asian destinations among international travellers. “‏‏Mr. Houa Sengaroun, President of Tang Charoen Group, said ‏ ‏“To be working with ONYX Hospitality Group in opening our second Amari property in Laos is an excellent opportunity for all parties to learn and grow. Following the opening of Amari Vang Vieng earlier this year, we are proud of the positive feedback and performance, as well as the role this hotel has played in raising international awareness of Laos. I look forward to the opportunity of working together on future projects.”‏‏The Amari brand by ONYX Hospitality Group celebrates the essence of modern Thai elements, with each hotel in its portfolio highlighting the textures and flavours of its unique setting through architecture, design, cuisine and service complemented by subtle Thai touches.‏‏The years 2017 and 2018 have been significant for the regional expansion of Amari, with the brand being launched in new locations including Sri Lanka, Malaysia, China and Laos, and Amari Kuala Lumpur and Amari Penang signed earlier this year.‏‏Based in Bangkok, ONYX Hospitality Group has a growing regional portfolio of 50 operating properties across three core brands in eight countries. The Group has a robust development pipeline of close to 30 new properties in markets such as Laos and Australia, and has set a target of having 99 hotels open by 2024 as part of its journey towards being the best medium-sized hospitality player in the region.‏ Source = ONYX Hospitality Grouplast_img read more

Sarovar Hotels introduces luxury hotel at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya

first_imgIn one of its most momentous steps, Sarovar Hotels Pvt Ltd, has launched The Lazizi Premiere Nairobi, a luxury hotel positioned inside the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya. The hotel, managed by Sarovar Hotels, was inaugurated by H. E. Uhuru Kenyatta, the current President of Kenya. The tourism and hospitality industry of Kenya has received a boost following the launch of this hotel which is the country’s first five-star airport hotel.President Uhuru Kenyatta officially opened the 144 room premium hotel as part of the government’s tourism and hospitality transformation strategy. Conveniently located inside the JKIA airport, The Lazizi Premiere Nairobi is designed to be the most prominent hotel in the area.Speaking at the launch, Ajay K Bakaya, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels Pvt. Ltd. said, “Kenya is the business hub for Africa and has one of the most diverse accommodation facilities. Nairobi being the hub of East Africa offers a great launch pad for our expansion and growing our footprint in the African region. Travellers in transit, airline crews and other local and international visitors intending to avoid traffic enroute to the airport have not had much luck as most hotels are still quite a distance from the main international airport in the capital city. We are aiming to tap that segment with The Lazizi Premiere”.Commenting on the launch Kiran M Patel, Hotel Promoter & Chairman, Lazizi Premiere, said, “The entry of The Lazizi Premiere Nairobi into the Kenyan market seeks to complement the ever-increasing demand for hotel rooms in Nairobi especially during peak tourist seasons, local and international conferences. Our intention is not only to contribute significantly to the country’s growth and Vision 2030 but also to create over 1000 job opportunities in the hospitality industry, directly and indirectly.”last_img read more

Australian visa made simpler for Indians

first_imgThere has been a significant increase in demand for Australian visas in India with the rising popularity of Australia as a holiday destination, an official statement said from the Australian government. Therefore, the Australian government has declared that the Indian nationals can submit an application for a visitor visa effective July 1, 2017 onwards.In the first four months of 2017 alone, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection granted more than 65,000 visitor visas to Indian nationals. It will offer benefits like 24/7 accessibility, electronic payment of the visa application charge and the ability to check the status of applications lodged online.Alex Hawke, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Australia, said, “Online lodgement for visitor visa applications is a significant enhancement that will benefit Indian applicants seeking to visit Australia as tourists or business visitors, or those wanting to reconnect with family and friends. Being able to check the status of an application online, as soon as it is finalised, will allow Indian applicants to finalise their travel arrangements as soon as possible.”last_img read more

UNWTO partners with Niantic to combine tourism and AR technology

first_imgTo boost the global tourism through the use of mobile augmented reality game experiences, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has partnered with one of its newest Affiliate Members, real-world games developer Niantic. UNWTO will collaborate with Niantic, creators of Pokémon GO and Ingress Prime, to curate unique campaigns around the world that will build awareness for the organization’s ‘Travel. Enjoy. Respect’ campaign, designed to enhance tourism’s contribution to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Each activity will also be designed to inspire and support exploration, and promote safe and responsible gaming practices for players of all ages.Niantic and UNWTO will work together to combine tourism and Augmented Reality (AR) technology for players to engage with real-world locations using Niantic’s mobile games in a variety of ways. Niantic’s games and global initiatives have brought millions of players from around the world together at real-world events that promote civic engagement and cultural diversity while highlighting local heritage.“With our ongoing commitment to promote sustainable and responsible tourism, and Niantic having recently become a UNWTO Affiliate Member, this partnership is a natural fit,” said Ion Vilcu, Director of UNWTO’s Affiliate Members Department. “Niantic is pioneers in creating real-world mobile game experiences that not only motivate their players to discover new places, but also to appreciate the culture and beauty of the world around them,” he added.“Our goal at Niantic is to create interactive games that encourage exercise, social interaction and exploration, giving players the opportunity to play together in the real world and discover the incredible history hidden in their own neighbourhoods,” said Anne Beuttenmüller, Head of Marketing EMEA at Niantic. “We’re looking forward to creating brand new adventures in collaboration with UNWTO to increase awareness around their mission of responsible tourism,” she added.Niantic was accepted as an Affiliate Member recently at the 109th session of UNWTO’s Executive Council, held in Manama, Bahrain. This new partnership helps to bolster UNWTO’s ongoing efforts to bring together the actors of the ‘ecosystem’ of tourism technology under its priority of innovation and the digital transformation in tourism.last_img read more

Study Shows Improving Projections for SingleFamily Housing

first_img September 28, 2012 436 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology The “”Urban Land Institute (ULI)””:www.uli.org/ has released a new study that shows declining expectations for the U.S. economic picture, with one positive exception – single-family housing. In the organization’s semi-annual Real Estate Consensus Forecast, ULI found that most growth projections had been scaled back, while the residential market was marked by improving predictions versus data recorded six months prior.[IMAGE]Conducted by ULI’s Center for Capital Markets and Real Estate, the group’s report examined growth expectations for the nation’s economy, real estate capital markets, and commercial real estate fundamentals. Polling 39 leading real estate economists and analysts from around the U.S., ULI’s statistics indicated “”more optimism”” in the single-family housing industry, and forecasts for starts and home prices demonstrated significant increases.Predictions for single-family housing starts rose by 30,000 over figures recorded by ULI in March, with respondents calling for an estimated 530,000 starts to end 2012. [COLUMN_BREAK]Looking at long-term data, those surveyed by ULI project that starts will reach 675,000 in 2013 and 800,000 by 2014. The nation’s home prices are also expected to head upward, and ULI’s findings showed that economists anticipate a 3.2 percent uptick in pricing by the end of the year. Projections for home prices over the next two years also bested ULI’s March statistics, and poll participants are calling for a 3.9 percent rise in pricing for 2013, with a 5 percent rise in 2014.””The forecast suggests that a housing recovery is underway, as consumers sense a tipping point, and, drawn by low mortgage rates, return to the market,”” ULI noted in an official statement.Meanwhile, the commercial sector didn’t fare as well in the report, with expectations for growth activity dropping by as much as 20 percent from numbers recorded in March. Transaction volume is estimated to slide to $223 billion, falling below last year’s $277 billion. However, ULI’s data did indicate a slight rise in commercial mortgage-backed securities, which are expected to reach $35 billion in 2012.Commenting on the institute’s study, Dean Schwanke, executive director of ULI’s Center for Capital Markets and Real Estate, said that “”continued uncertainty over Europe’s debt crisis, the outcome of the presidential and congressional elections in the U.S., and the complexities of tighter financial regulations”” appear to be keeping economic growth at a slow pace.””What this survey suggests is that, in general, the U.S. economy is making progress inch by inch. Nothing indicates a quick turnaround, but the economy and the real estate industry are moving toward a notable improvement by 2014,”” Schwanke concluded. Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-09-28 Jason Myerscenter_img Study Shows Improving Projections for Single-Family Housing Sharelast_img read more

Initial Jobless Claims Make Surprise Jump

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Unemployment,Initial Jobless Claims Make Surprise Jump Share March 28, 2013 404 Views center_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bureau of Labor Statistics Federal Register Investors Jobs Labor Department Lenders & Servicers Mark Lieberman Payrolls Processing Service Providers Unemployment 2013-03-28 Mark Lieberman First-time claims for unemployment insurance jumped 16,000 to 357,000 for the week ending March 23, the strongest jump since mid-February, the “”Labor Department””:http://www.ows.doleta.gov/press/2013/032813.asp reported Thursday. Economists expected claims to rise to 340,000. Initial jobless claims for the week ending March 16 were revised up to 341,000 from the initially reported 336,000.[IMAGE]The week-over-week increase in first-time claims was the strongest since mid-February, when filing rose 24,000. The Labor Department recalculated seasonal adjustment factors based on updated history, turning those factors somewhat less favorable than they had been. That said, raw data for unemployment insurance claims–prior to seasonal adjustment–rose sharply for the week, suggesting the increase was real.Meanwhile, the number of continuing claims for the week ending March 16, reported on a one-week lag, fell 27,000 to 3,050,000, the lowest level since June 2008. Continuing claims for the week ending March 2 were revised up to 3,113,000 from the originally reported 3,024,000.The four-week moving average of first-time claims increased 2,250 to 343,000. The moving average, which smooths the volatility in the weekly report, has fallen for four straight weeks.The four-week moving average of continuing claims also fell, dropping 13,000 to 3,072,500, the lowest level since June 2008.The continuing claims data series tracks the number of longer term unemployed who qualify for regular state jobless benefits and often shows large movements, depending on first-time claims 26 weeks earlier and legislative changes to state unemployment programs. It is subject to wider revisions than the number of first-time claimants.Despite the unexpected bump, initial unemployment claims have fallen for seven of the first 12 weeks of the year, averaging just a shade over 350,000, the number most economists see as the tipping point between a strengthening and weakening jobs market. During the same period last year, initial unemployment insurance claims averaged about 370,000. The last time first-time filings for jobless benefits began a year averaging under 350,000 was 2008.[COLUMN_BREAK] The report on initial claims covered the same week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for its monthly Employment Situation report. That report will be released next on April 5. From mid-February through mid-March, first-time unemployment insurance claims fell 25,000, and the four-week moving average fell 20,750, suggesting layoffs will not be a drag on the employment situation report.The unemployment rate, always a key measure of economic health, has taken on added significance since the Federal Open Market Committee said it will look for a sustained unemployment rate of 6.5 percent or lower before changing interest rates or its other actions to stimulate the economy.The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending March 9 was 5,455,757, an increase of 86,750 from the previous week. There were 7,158,470 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012. Extended benefits were available only in Alaska during the week ending March 2. According to the BLS, 12,032,000 persons were officially considered unemployed in February, which means that of those individuals counted as unemployed, 6.58 million were not receiving any form of government unemployment insurance, down from 6.66 million one week earlier.The Labor Department said states reported 1,906,324 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending March 9, an increase of 125,481 from the prior week. There were 2,812,666 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2012.States continue to borrow from the federal government to cover shortfalls in those funds, which will eventually have to be repaid–unless Congress intervenes–with higher assessments on employers. Since those assessments are a percentage of payrolls, they discourage employers from adding new workers. As of March 19, 23 states had borrowed a total of $28.7 billion. One week earlier, 23 states had an aggregate $29.7 billion in outstanding loans to cover shortfalls.Five states–California, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Ohio–owe more than $1 billion, which may require higher unemployment premiums or special assessments on employers in those states.According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending March 16 were in California (+3,007), Virginia (+1,165), Mississippi (+485), North Dakota (+54), and Puerto Rico (+38), while the largest decreases were in Pennsylvania (-2,497), New York (-2,116), Georgia (-2,023), North Carolina (-1,340), and Ohio (-1,192)._Hear Mark Lieberman Friday on P.O.T.U.S. radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 a.m. and again at 9:20 a.m. Eastern time._last_img read more

Report Q1 Sees 15 MortgageRelated Company Closings

first_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bank Failure Credit Unions FDIC Investors Lenders & Servicers National Credit Union Administration Processing Service Providers Wells Fargo 2013-04-16 Tory Barringer April 16, 2013 455 Views Report: Q1 Sees 15 Mortgage-Related Company Closings in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicingcenter_img “”_Mortgage Daily_””:http://www.mortgagedaily.com/ tracked a total of 15 mortgage-related business closings in the first quarter of 2013, putting the year on pace to see the fewest number of mortgage banking failures in seven years.[IMAGE]While Q1’s casualty rate was greater than Q4 2012 (when 13 businesses shut down or collapsed), it’s an improvement over Q1 2012, which saw 27 total closings.[COLUMN_BREAK]The first-quarter total included “”four bank failures””:https://themreport.com/articles/georgia-bank-shuts-down-2013-tally-inches-up-to-4-2013-03-11 as reported by FDIC–the lowest number since the second quarter of 2008, when only two FDIC-insured banks closed.Also included in the total were five credit union failures. The last time so many credit unions closed in a single quarter was a year ago, when seven credit unions fell. _Mortgage Daily_ attributes the relatively higher credit union casualty rate to the fact that they tend to operate on a smaller scale.Finally, the Q1 list of closings included six non-bank, non-credit union institutions, the most well-known of which was “”Edward Jones Mortgage LLC””:https://themreport.com/articles/edward-jones-mortgage-cites-regulatory-reform-as-reason-for-closure-2013-02-15. Edward Jones Mortgage, a joint venture between Edward Jones and Wells Fargo, closed as regulatory changes governing such ventures forced Wells Fargo to end the agreement.At the current pace, _Mortgage Daily_ forecasts around 60 mortgage-related closings this year, down from 83 last year and the lowest level since 2006, when 32 mortgage-related companies shuttered their doors. Sharelast_img read more