16 Taiwanese nabbed in Philippines on fraud charge

first_img Sponsored Stories 0 Comments   Share   MANILA, Philippines (AP) – A Philippine official says 16 Taiwanese have been arrested in connection with an online scam aimed at stealing money from mostly Chinese and Taiwanese retirees.The head of the Computer Crimes Division of the Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation, Ronald Aguto, said Wednesday that members of the group pretended to be bank employees and called up victims and got them to reveal their account numbers. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Check your body, save your life Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daycenter_img He said others pretended to be prosecutors and convinced victims into settling a non-existent complaint by depositing money into a syndicate’s account.The arrests took place Tuesday in three separate houses inside the Subic Bay Freeport west of Manila.Police arrested and deported nearly 300 Taiwanese and Chinese nationals involved in a similar scam last year.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 ways to recognize low testosterone The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

A look at Chinas reform promises

first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Top Stories BEIJING (AP) – Communist Party leaders issued a report Tuesday that pledged to promote market forces in the country’s state-dominated economy. But their four-day policymaking meeting, which was shrouded in secrecy, failed to produce dramatic reforms to overhaul a worn-out growth model. That suggested party leaders failed to agree on politically difficult changes required to curb the dominance of state industry and promote competition. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober (Copyright 2013 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)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 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Comments   Share   center_img WILL THEY FACE ANY RESISTANCE?Any changes that might curb the privileges of politically favored state industries or force greater competition on them will likely face opposition from those companies and their allies in the ruling party. The lack of dramatic changes coming out of the weekend meeting is a sign that party leaders who are pushing for changes already face resistance from within their own ranks.WHO WILL WIN?Potential winners from any changes that open markets to more competition would be entrepreneurs and possibly foreign companies, which now face an uphill battle against government companies. China’s public also might benefit from lower prices and a greater variety of products and services, as well as possibly better job opportunities.AND WHO WILL LOSE?The likely losers from increased competition would be state companies that might lose monopolies, low-cost access to bank loans and other favors.HOW WILL FOREIGN COMPANIES BE AFFECTED?The plan makes no mention of foreign companies. More competition might give foreign companies more opportunities but Chinese regulators also are determined to capture as much of the benefits of economic growth as they can for local companies, whether private or state-owned. They might still try to put up barriers to limit the foreign role in markets that are opened to private sector competition. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies WHAT WERE THE MAJOR CHANGES THE COMMUNIST PARTY ANNOUNCED?Communist leaders promised to promote market forces. That could help Chinese entrepreneurs who can be more efficient and flexible than state companies. It is in line with piecemeal party efforts to inject elements of competition into areas such as banking. But the party also affirmed the role of government-owned companies as the core of the economy. Major changes are probably yet to be decided.WHY IS THE COMMUNIST PARTY ANNOUNCING THESE CHANGES NOW?Communist leaders need to refresh a growth model based on trade and investment that delivered three decades of stunning growth but has run down. Reform advocates including the World Bank say Beijing needs to curb the dominance of state companies in areas from banking to energy to telecoms to keep growth strong. Pressure for change has mounted as economic growth slowed over the past two years, hitting a two-decade low of 7.5 percent in the three months ended in June.HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THESE CHANGES TO BE IMPLEMENTED?The ruling party gave no time frame for change and said it will create a committee to “deepen reform.” That indicates many key issues remain to be decided in potentially contentious political battles. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your homelast_img read more

Kenya Chinese man fined 230K for ivory traffic

first_imgNAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – A Kenyan court on Tuesday ordered a Chinese man to pay $230,000 in fines or be jailed seven years for ivory smuggling in the first of what will likely be many cases as authorities implement a stringent new law to deter illegal trading in wildlife products.The 40-year-old man, Tang Yong Jian, had pleaded guilty to being in possession of raw ivory valued at $6,000 after being arrested at the international airport in the capital, Nairobi, on Jan. 18. He had been traveling from Mozambique to the Chinese city of Guangzhou. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility About 70 years ago, up to 5 million elephants are estimated to have roamed sub-Saharan Africa. Today fewer than a million remain. Much of the harvested ivory ends up as small trinkets.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Top Stories “We welcome this sentence. It’s the first of its kind since the enactment of the new wildlife (law), and we are sure this will pass a deterrent out to would-be poachers to ensure we can now therefore save the endangered species in this country,” he said.Amid big seizures of illegal ivory over years, Kenyan lawmakers last year began working on a new wildlife law that came into effect earlier this month. Most of the ivory impounded in Kenya last year originated from across Africa, including countries such as South Africa and Cameroon, according to wildlife officials.Much of the demand for ivory is in Asia, especially China, luring poachers across Africa to slay the giants and cut out their tusks for rewards far beyond the daily wage. In Hong Kong, government warehouses are holding more than 30 metric tons of ivory seized since 2008, one of the world’s biggest stockpiles of elephant tusks. Ivory is known as “white gold” because of the rich prices it commands on the black market, and a 2011 report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare said buyers in China were paying up to $2,400 a kilogram.The illegal ivory trade has more than doubled since 2007, according to CITES, the international body that monitors endangered species. Sponsored Stories Top holiday drink recipes Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help In another courtroom Tuesday, a Kenyan man faced up to 5 years in jail if he failed to pay nearly $12,000 in fines for illegal possession of lovebirds. Another Chinese man also was set to be charged Tuesday over alleged ivory smuggling after being arrested Monday night as he flew in from Congo en route to China.African countries face a monumental battle to save their endangered wildlife species, and Kenya has been among the hardest hit as poachers increasingly target elephants and rhinos. Poaching deaths of elephants and rhinos are increasing across Africa, animal experts say, because of increased demand in Asia for rhino horns and elephant ivory. Police in the West African nation of Togo said Tuesday they had seized 1,689 kilograms (3,723 pounds or 1.8 tons) of elephant tusks _twice the amount seized there last August _concealed in a container destined for Vietnam.In Kenya, where big ivory seizures are frequently reported, the case of Tian had been closely followed by conservationists who hope a tough new law will reverse years of gradual loss of wildlife populations through rampant poaching and illegal smuggling, often with the help of corrupt local officials.The decision Tuesday would deter potential smugglers and poachers, said Paul Muya, a spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service.last_img read more

Russia China sign raft of economic deals including loans

first_img Sponsored Stories Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, welcomes his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during their meeting in Moscow’s Kremlin, Russia, Friday, May 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool) 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Xi, in turn, pledged to coordinate the Chinese plans with Russia-led integration efforts to “expand mutual openness and link development strategies.”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 New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober MOSCOW (AP) — Russian and Chinese leaders on Friday signed a plethora of deals in Moscow, including billions in infrastructure loans for Russia.Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow this week for talks as well as for the May 9 commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in World War II, an event that most Western leaders stayed away from amid tensions over Ukraine. Top Stories The vital role family plays in society Putin and Xi on Friday oversaw the signing of 32 contracts including a 300 billion ruble ($6 billion) loan to build a high-speed railway link.Russian gas giant Gazprom also signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s CNPC to build a gas pipeline to China and sell up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas, but the details have yet to be hammered out.Putin said after the talks that Russia would welcome the involvement of Chinese companies in tapping the giant Vankor oil and gas fields in eastern Siberia, adding that specifics are being worked out.Putin and Xi also talked about the Silk Road Economic Belt, an ambitious Beijing project intended to encourage the infrastructure development in formerly Soviet Central Asia.Moscow in the past had been jealous about China’s efforts to increase its sway in the region, but the two leaders seemed to reach common ground on the sensitive issue during Friday’s talks in the Kremlin.They issued a statement saying that while conducting the project, China will coordinate closely the Eurasian Economic Union, an economic alliance that includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.“It means reaching a new level of partnership that envisages common economic space on the entire Eurasian continent,” Putin said after the talks. 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

Flooding kills at least 15 in southern central China

first_imgBEIJING (AP) — At least 15 people have been killed and thousands more forced from their homes by flooding in southern and central China and more rain has been forecast for coming days, officials said Thursday.Authorities said that Jiangxi province has been hardest hit, with eight people killed and 65,000 displaced. Just to the south, the Guangxi region suffered five deaths with six other people listed as missing. Parents, stop beating yourself up Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Two other deaths were recorded in Hunan province, one of China’s main rice producers, where 2,000 other people were moved to shelters. Fujian evacuated 17,000 people from danger areas, but no one was reported dead or missing in the coastal province.Heavy rain forced the delay or cancellation of hundreds of passenger flights as flood waters in some areas rose to more than 2 meters (6 feet).Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Top Stories Quick workouts for men How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img read more

AP names Muhammed Muheisen as chief Mideast photographer

first_img New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like CAIRO (AP) — The Associated Press has named award-winning photographer Muhammed Muheisen, frequently honored for his striking photos of people in their everyday environment, as its chief photographer for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.In his new role, Muheisen, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, will take the lead on distinctive projects across the region. The appointment was announced Wednesday by Ian Phillips, AP’s Middle East News Director. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Muheisen, 34, joined the AP in 2001, and for the last four years he has been AP’s chief photographer for Pakistan, based in Islamabad.He covered many defining events in the Middle East: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S.-led war in Iraq, including the capture of Saddam Hussein, and the funeral of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.He has gone on assignment to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, China, France and South Africa.Muheisen’s work has received many international awards. In 2005 and 2013, he was part of AP teams that won Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news photography in Iraq and Syria. He was named Time magazine’s Best Wire Photographer of 2013 and was a participant in the World Press Photo 2012 Joop Swart Master Class. He also won the AP’s Oliver S. Gramling Award for journalism.Muheisen’s photography has been exhibited in galleries and at events around the world. In 2015, his works were part of the outdoor photographic exhibition THE FENCE in Brooklyn, Boston, Atlanta and Houston.“You just want to frame Muheisen’s best work and put it on a wall,” said Phillips, who oversees AP’s video, photo and text coverage of the Middle East. “In the toughest of environments, he captures beauty, hope and tragedy in singular fashion. The quality of his shots also reflects the patient manner in which he works and his empathy for the subject matter.” Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Maya Alleruzzo, AP’s regional photo editor for the Middle East, said Muheisen’s work “has a way of connecting us all through his lens.”“We understand more about the world through his photographs of the daily lives of people — from the slums of Pakistan, on the front lines in Syria, refugee camps in Jordan to the streets of the West Bank.”Muheisen, a Jordanian national, was born in Jerusalem.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes In this Thursday, March 26, 2015 photo, Associated Press chief photographer for Pakistan Muhammed Muheisen poses for a photograph in Amsterdam. The Associated Press has named the award-winning photographer, frequently honored for his striking photos of people in their everyday environment, as its chief photographer for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The appointment was announced Wednesday, June 17, 2015 by Ian Phillips, AP’s Middle East News Director. (AP Photo/Alice Wielinga)last_img read more

Hungary to build fence on Serbian border as fast as possible

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 ways to recognize low testosterone New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Comments   Share   Refugees can be returned to the EU country where they first made their asylum request. But Szijjarto said refugees registering for asylum in Hungary had already likely passed through Greece first, so they should be sent back there.The EU, however, believes the safety of refugees cannot be guaranteed in debt-strained Greece right now so their registration in the asylum system takes place in Hungary.___George Jahn in Vienna contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary has decided to build a temporary fence on the border with Serbia as fast as possible to stop the flow of illegal migrants, the foreign minister said Wednesday.Austria, meanwhile, reacted angrily to Hungary’s announcement that, for an indefinite period, it would not take back refugees it registered when they entered Hungary but left for other destinations in Europe before their asylum requests were decided. The vital role family plays in society Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told reporters that several laws needed to be amended before construction of the fence could begin so he could not say exactly when the work on the “temporary border seal” could start.“In the future, we will apply temporary border seals on every border section where there is no other effective way to impede illegal immigration,” Szijjarto said, adding that the government had set aside 6.5 billion forints (20.9 million euros, $23.5 million) for the project.Szijjarto said the fence, which is opposed by neighboring Serbia, “is not a bilateral issue. Relations with Serbia have never been as good as now.”He said 61,000 migrants had entered Hungary this year, nearly all by crossing Hungary’s southern border with Serbia. Most of those who request refugee status in Hungary quickly leave for other destinations in western Europe, like Austria, Germany and Sweden.Austria’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz told Szijjarto that Hungary’s suspension of the agreement on refugees was “unacceptable.”“Austria cannot tolerate this,” Kurz said in a phone call Tuesday, warning Szijjarto that the move would have “negative consequences.” Sponsored Stories last_img read more

Aussie snowfields hit the pocket

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W Australian ski fields risk driving travellers to winter wonderlands overseas as the price of lift tickets are ranked the most expensive in the world.Of the main five ski resorts in Australia, including Victoria’s Falls Creek, Hotham and Mt Buller, plus Perisher and Thredbo in NSW, the adult peak season tickets costs $106 or more.The largest ski resort in the country with 50 lifts and 1245 hectares of snowy terrain, Perisher is the most expensive of the Aussie resorts at $112 per day.  Thredbo resort isn’t far behind at $110 per day.Compared to the less desirable wind swept skifields of New Zealand, Australian resorts are well-equipped with modern and fast lifts and good tracks.  However it is questionable if this justifies the price, according to seasoned skier Adrian Peterson.”Lift passes in Canada on my recent trip were only $60 a day,” Mr Peterson commented.Europe also has much lower ticket prices on the lifts, with the world’s largest ski area – Les Trois Vallees in France, charging about half the price of Perisher lift passes at 49.1 Euros (approx $58).Australian resorts do suffer from a short snow season and have the added cost of snowmaking.”Considering our general landscape and climate of beach and sunshine, we are lucky to have snowfields at all,” Mr Peterson pointed out.Do you think our snow resorts are overpriced on lift passes?last_img read more

MIA reaches 40 millionth passenger

first_imgJust five days before the end of the year, Miami International Airport (MIA) ended 2013 on a high after reaching the 40 million passenger milestone for the first time in its 85 year history, setting a new record for the fourth year in a row. “Hitting the 40 million mark – with half of that total being international passengers – speaks to MIA’s staying power as one of the top international hubs in the world and our strategy this year has been to aggressively seek out new international carriers to solidify our position as a truly global airport,” Miami-Dade aviation director Emilio T. González said. Source = ETB News: L.B.center_img Since it welcomed its 35.7 millionth passenger in 2010, MIA’s annual passenger traffic has risen by more than 12 percent and since 1 December 2013, has seen more than a further 3.1 million passengers, including a new record of 139,940 passengers in one day on 21 December.last_img read more

Qantas resumes PerthSingapore service

first_imgIn an effort to improve services for West Australian travellers, Qantas will resume regular flights between Perth and Singapore from 26 June 2015.The airline has announced it will operate five return Perth-Singapore flights per week on Boeing 737 aircraft, providing almost 1,700 seats on the route each week.Qantas’ regular service between Perth and Singapore ended in May 2014 and since then the airline has only operated the service during peak holiday periods.Qantas International chief executive officer Gareth Evans said the airline is pleased to be able to meet the needs of their customers by resuming the service.“We know how important it is for West Australian business travellers to have seamless access to Asia so we’re delighted to be able to offer the Perth-Singapore route with a schedule and aircraft type that will make it commercially viable,” Mr Evans said.“The new international service has been made possible through the Qantas Group’s aircraft utilisation program – which is about having the right aircraft on the right route – and matching schedules with customer demand.”Passengers on the route will be provided with in-flight entertainment and new economy-class meals.The service arrives in Singapore at 17:20, allowing passengers to easily connect with Qantas’ airline partners in key Asian destinations.Domestic upgrades for West Australian travellers include two additional weekly return flights between Perth and Brisbane, bringing the total flights between the two cities to 30 each week.Qantas will also introduce F100 aircraft on some services out of Perth later this year to better match capacity and meet market demand.Source = ETB Travel News: Brittney Levinsonlast_img read more

Air Canada introduces Premium Economy class on Sydney services

first_imgAir Canada introduces Premium Economy class on Sydney servicesAir Canada today announced that it will for the first time offer its new Premium Economy and International Business class products on its daily B777-200 non-stop flights between Sydney and Vancouver from May 2016.North America’s leading airline will from 17 May 2016 offer 40 seats in its new International Business Class, 24 seats in Premium Economy Class and 236 seats in Economy Class.Passengers in International Business Class will relax in Air Canada’s next generation lie-flat ‘Executive Pods’, which feature an adjustable pneumatic cushion headrest, an 18-inch personal entertainment screen and noise-cancelling headsets. The seats are also arranged in 1-2-1 configuration, guaranteeing direct aisle access with window views.Premium Economy offers passengers greater legroom and recline, along with wider seats equipped with a 9- or 11-inch enhanced definition, intuitive-touch personal entertainment screen. In addition, Premium Economy passengers enjoy premium meals, complimentary bar service and priority check-in and baggage delivery at the airport.The new-look B777-200 aircraft will also offer a re-designed Economy cabin, offering an upgraded in-flight entertainment system available free at every seat.Air Canada General Manager Australia and New Zealand Paul McLean says the arrival of the new three-class on-board product – currently only available on the carrier’s B787 Dreamliner aircraft – caps an exhilarating period for the airline.“This development comes just one month after we announced plans to launch non-stop Brisbane-Vancouver services in June 2016 using our new B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft,” says McLean.“It means that not only is our network expanding out of Australia, but that from mid-2016 all of our passengers will experience our latest world-class on-board product.”Air Canada’s services from Australia are timed to optimise connectivity to and from the airline’s North American network, which includes direct services to 64 Canadian cities and 52 destinations in the United States.All Air Canada flights provide for Aeroplan accumulation and redemption and, for eligible customers, priority check-in, Maple Leaf Lounge access, priority boarding and other benefits. Fly Air CanadaSource = Air Canadalast_img read more

Ted talks top teams at NZ Hotel Industry Conference

first_imgTed talks top teams at NZ Hotel Industry ConferenceSir Graham Henry, the man who coached the All Blacks to World Cup glory and who knows better than most how to create a winning team culture, is a keynote speaker at the 2016 New Zealand Hotel Industry Conference, Auckland, 1-2 June.“Sir Graham is an expert in team development, motivation and leadership and his insights are as applicable to the business environment as the sporting arena,” says Sally Attfield, Hotel Sector Manager at the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA), which co-hosts the annual conference with Horwath HTL.“New Zealand’s valuable hotel sector is enjoying record results thanks to a buoyant tourism industry, and the focus of the conference will be very much on how to capitalise and build on that momentum.”Keynote international speakers include Australia’s Mark McCrindle, one of the most expert demographers, futurists and social commentators on the world stage today and IHG’s Karin Sheppard. Ms Sheppard oversees the performance of around 70 hotels in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Japan across a range of brands including luxury, business and mid-scale.Registrations opened today for the conference, the largest annual event dedicated to New Zealand’s valuable hotel sector.“The conference will discuss and debate the big issues that can stimulate or stymie hotel sector growth, including infrastructure, investment and people and skills,” says Stephen Hamilton, Director, Horwath HTL.“There will be keen interest in the investment panel discussion, which will look at the right time to invest in a new hotel, how to avoid the boom and bust cycle and the importance of getting the community on board,” says Stephen Hamilton, Director, Horwath HTL.“Panellists include Sudesh Jhunjhnuwala, the owner and CEO of Sudima Hotels & Resorts. His hotel group controls approximately 800 hotel rooms across New Zealand and Australia and with further hotel development in the pipeline, he is very well placed to comment on both hotel ownership and investment.”Sally Attfield says this is the premier annual event for New Zealand’s hotel sector.“We are very excited by the high calibre of New Zealand and international speakers we’ve attracted to this year’s event. Last year’s conference was sold out, and we expect demand to be even higher this year.“We are also very grateful to the support of our generous sponsors, including Platinum Sponsor AccorHotels Learn more hereSource = Tourism Industry Association New Zealandlast_img read more

PO Cruises voted Australias favourite family cruise line

first_imgP&O Cruises has been voted Australia’s Best Family Cruise Line by the well-travelled readers of one of Australia’s leading family publications – Out & About with Kids.The cruise line has taken out the top cruise gong in the magazine’s annual Best of Family Travel Readers Choice Awards.P&O Cruises President Sture Myrmell said the award was a welcome win at a time of expansion for P&O, which is the largest cruise line in Australia, offering five ships sailing from eight different homeports year round.“We pride ourselves on offering great value, fun and memorable family holidays and to be voted Australians’ favourite family cruise line is a real honour. With the recent announcements of our new waterparks for Pacific Dawn and our latest ship Pacific Explorer, family cruising with P&O is about to get even more exciting,” Mr Myrmell said.P&O caters to families of all types and sizes with triple, quad and interconnecting cabins, the biggest adventure park at sea – P&O Edge, kids clubs, late-night babysitting and fun onboard activities from movie-making to Lego.The 2016 awards feature 18 categories across a variety of Australian and international travel products and are voted for by the magazine’s well-travelled readers. For information on the awards see the latest issue of Out and About with Kids or go online. P&O CruisesSource = P&O Cruiseslast_img read more

Cruise NZ welcomes Auckland port study

first_imgImage credit: Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development LtdCruise New Zealand has welcomed the consultant’s report and recommendations of the Consensus Working Group for the Auckland Port Future Study, saying it highlights the importance of the cruise ship sector to the Auckland and national economies.All of the options considered recommend that cruise ships continue to berth in the heart of Auckland city, says Cruise New Zealand Chairman Kevin O’Sullivan.He says the consultant’s report also recognises that a short-term measure is needed urgently to cope with the new generation of larger cruise ships coming on stream.“Ships like the Ovation of the Seas cater for almost 5000 passengers plus crew and there are even larger vessels still to come. These cruise ships bring high value visitors to Auckland – but they will only keep coming if Auckland has the right port infrastructure in place,” Mr O’Sullivan said.“The risk is that they won’t include Auckland in their itineraries if they have to use tender vessels to transport passengers to shore.”Mr O’Sullivan says the Study recognises this, and to accommodate the growing cruise sector is recommending expanding the berthing capability of Queens Wharf by using a dolphin – a standalone structure built in the water at a distance from the wharf that extends its effective length.“Auckland lacks the ability of several other New Zealand ports to dock the current generation of large cruise ships scheduled to call. Building a dolphin at Queens Wharf will ensure Auckland remains a port of call for the current generation of large cruise ships,” he said.“While Auckland Council has voted to delay implementing the Port Future Study recommendations, they must not delay resolving the short term issues for cruise. We are calling on them to give the go ahead immediately to build a dolphin at Queens Wharf and Cruise New Zealand looks forward to helping make that happen.“If the Council adopts this approach now, it’s likely a dolphin can be erected in time for the 2017-18 cruise ship season, meaning larger ships can have a secure berth in the short-term.“Of course this is an interim measure for a current problem, so it’s also very encouraging to see that the Study is recommending that the area around Captain Cook Wharf be developed for additional berths and a cruise ship terminal. This is a realistic solution to meeting cruise ship infrastructure needs in Auckland over the medium to long term.He says ensuring Auckland has quality port infrastructure is vital to the continuing growth of the cruise sector. It’s not only a popular port of call, the city also attracts pre and post-cruise stays and more overnight stays than the other regions.Cruise arrivals are now New Zealand’s third largest holiday market behind Australia and China, with an estimated 267,800 passengers landing here during the 2015-16 cruise season, at around $$543.3 million value added. Cruise is one of the New Zealand tourism industry’s fastest growing sectors.Source = Cruise New Zealandlast_img read more

Study Borrowers Fail to Do Legwork when Researching Loans

first_imgStudy: Borrowers Fail to Do Legwork when Researching Loans in Data, Origination November 27, 2012 425 Views Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Consumer spending Fannie Mae Mortgage Rates 2012-11-27 Tory Barringercenter_img A new study from “”Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html suggests that many Americans fail to do their homework when considering mortgage options, creating problems for both borrowers and lenders.[IMAGE]According to the GSE’s “”November National Housing Survey Topic Analysis Report””:http://www.fanniemae.com/resources/file/research/housingsurvey/pdf/nhsq22012presentation.pdf, many borrowers may be missing out on savings when it comes to shopping for mortgages, largely because of a lack of understanding about what’s available. This leads to increased costs and sometimes creates problems during the life of the loan.””Although a home purchase is the largest financial obligation most people will ever make, many borrowers do not fully understand their mortgage products and costs,”” said Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae. “”As a result, some homeowners in this position may find themselves with unsustainable payments down the road.””The problem is especially prevalent among lower-income respondents (defined in the survey as households earning $50,000 or less per year). Forty-three percent of low-income respondents said they obtained an offer from only one institution when shopping for their current mortgage–a full 10 percentage points more than high-income respondents (households earning at least six figures annually).Research done for HUD indicates borrowers who fail to shop around may be missing out on $1,000 or more in savings on closing costs.While lender reputation seems to be an important factor for borrowers across all income groups–at least two out of three respondents in each income bracket say it is a major consideration–low-income consumers are more swayed by real estate agents and mortgage brokers when choosing a lender. They are also less likely to factor in the competitiveness of their offers: 54 percent of low-income respondents cite competitiveness as an important factor, while 76 percent of high-income respondents say it is a major point for them.In addition, high earners appear to be more comfortable shopping around using technology. Half of low- and mid-income respondents say they obtained the quote on their mortgage in person, while more than 60 percent of high-income shoppers got their quote over the phone or on the Internet (through either their lender’s website or a third-party comparison website).Moreover, high-income respondents expressed greater comfort with the idea of using their mobile devices to research homes, lenders, and rates. However, respondents across all income groups still seem reluctant to actually obtain a mortgage product on a mobile device, with less than a quarter of each group saying they would be comfortable doing so.Another common thread among consumers of all income brackets is their failure to understand key mortgage elements. When asked to estimate the maximum percentage by which the monthly adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) payment can increase over the life of the loan, 41 percent of respondents were unable to answer.Among those who actually offered an estimate, the average guess was around 10 percent, well short of Fannie Mae’s calculation of more than 50 percent. Sharelast_img read more

FirstQuarter Refinance Stats Point to Equity BuildUp

first_img May 1, 2014 418 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, News, Origination Freddie Mac Home Equity Home Values Refinance 2014-05-01 Tory Barringer Freddie Mac released Wednesday the results of its first-quarter refinance analysis, with findings showing a growing number of borrowers choosing to refinance into shorter loan terms as home equity grows nationwide.According to the enterprise’s report, 39 percent of refinancers last quarter chose to shorten their term, up slightly over the prior quarter and the highest share since 1992.At the same time, an estimated $6.5 billion in net home equity was cashed out during conventional prime-credit refinances in Q1, flat from Q4 2013 and down from year-ago levels—even as the share of borrowers extracting home equity rose, notes Frank Nothaft, chief economist for Freddie Mac.“Roughly 17 percent of borrowers who refinanced in the first quarter chose to extract home equity versus 14 percent from the same time last year,” Nothaft said. “However, even with the slight increase in the cash-out share, it’s still $2 billion less compared to the first quarter of last year simply because the refinance share of originations continues to plummet.”Together, the rise in shorter terms and the relatively low cash-out share suggest borrowers are seeking to strengthen their own equity positions as home values continue to rise. In total, U.S. home equity expanded by an estimated $2.1 trillion over the course of 2013, according to the Federal Reserve.The average mortgage interest rate reduction in Q1 was 1.4 percentage points, meaning a savings of about 24 percent on average. On a $200,000 loan, Freddie Mac estimates refinancers taking the average interest reduction will save $2,800 over the next year.For those who refinanced through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), the average reduction was 1.6 percentage points, creating average savings of $3,200 over the year.Overall, the company says borrowers will save on net more than $1 billion in interest payments in the next 12 months.center_img First-Quarter Refinance Stats Point to Equity Build-Up Sharelast_img read more

Market Headwinds Cannot Shake Builder Confidence

first_imgMarket Headwinds Cannot Shake Builder Confidence The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released Tuesday reported a decline of two points down to 63 from September to October, indicating that builder confidence in the single-family housing market is slightly lower than a month ago but remains at a solid level in spite of market headwinds such as lot and labor shortages.Despite the two-point decline in October, the HMI is at its second-highest level for any month in 2016. In September, the HMI shot up to an 11-month high of 65 from its August reading of 59 amid solid job growth, near record-low interest rates, and strong single-family housing demand.The HMI’s three components (builder perceptions of current single-family home sales, sales expectations for the next six months, and prospective buyer traffic) are scored and then averaged; an index score over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good rather than poor.The headwinds currently facing the market should not slow the growth of single-family housing for the near term, the NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said. In fact, the component of the HMI measuring sales expectations in the next six months inched up by a point to an already elevated level of 72, indicating that builder confidence in sales remains high.“Builders in many markets continue to express concerns about shortages of lots and labor,” Dietz said. “Mortgage rates remain low and the HMI index measuring future sales expectations has been over 70 for the past two months. These factors will sustain continued growth in the single-family market in the months ahead.”Aside from the lot and labor shortages, key building materials such as ready-mix concrete and oriented strand board (OSB), remained near historically high levels in September, according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The cost of OSB rose by 2.5 percent in September and is at its highest level in more than three years; the cost of ready-mix concrete dropped slightly in September but has climbed by 20 percent over the last five years.Whereas all three components of the HMI posted a gain of at least four points from August to September, the only component that increased from September to October was the sales expectations for the next six months. The components of the HMI that measure current sales conditions and buyer traffic both declined in October by two points down to 69 and by one point down to 46, respectively. October 18, 2016 691 Views Builder Confidence NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index 2016-10-18 Seth Welborncenter_img in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News Sharelast_img read more

After Fed Hike Mortgage Rates Could Rise Again

first_img basis points bps Federal Reserve FOMC Home HOUSING Interest rates Jerome Powell mortgage Mortgage Rates 2018-03-21 Radhika Ojha March 21, 2018 644 Views in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, journal, News After Fed Hike, Mortgage Rates Could Rise Againcenter_img On Wednesday, after Jerome Powell’s first Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting as Fed Chair, the Federal Reserve announced that it had increased the Fed funds rate by a quarter point at a target of 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent.Powell had provided an upbeat assessment of the economy and inflationary trends during his Congressional testimony in the run-up to the meeting and the statement released by the Fed shortly after the meeting reflected the central bank’s positive stance on the economy.”In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 percent. The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting strong labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation,” the bank said in its statement.These rate hikes impact the housing market as mortgage rates, which have been rising steadily since the beginning of the year are expected to surge further on the back of this hike. The Fed has also been missing on its targets for mortgage holdings which could be another blow for mortgage rates.“The Fed has been meeting its target on the treasuries but missing on the mortgage holdings,” said Tendayi Kapfidze, Chief Economist at LendingTree. “Treasuries are down $41.2 billion since October but mortgages are actually up $2.0 billion. Thus the Fed has actually been detrimental to mortgage rates on the one hand by reducing its holdings of treasuries, but providing some support given that its mortgage holdings are not declining.”“In today’s competitive housing market, rising rates are another hurdle for first-time buyers who don’t have a lot of cash to work with. To date, realtor.com has found the impact of higher home prices has so far dwarfed the impact of higher mortgage rates from a year ago. But with today’s announcement, it looks like this may be changing. As rates move higher, we expect to see their direct impact on buyers grow,” said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com.According to Kapfidze the Fed’s balance sheet normalization plan is set to have its second increase in April, which could raise the treasury security target to $18 billion a month and the MBS target to $12 billion a month. “Upward pressure on treasuries should increase and mortgage rates could see more upside in Q2 following the recent leveling off in rates. If the Fed begins to meet its MBS target, that would result in a further upward pressure,” he said. Sharelast_img read more

Cofounders of Primary Residential Mortgage Retire

first_imgKnudson has been with the organization since 2000. He managed PRMI during industry turmoil over the past decade and has a deep-rooted understanding of the company’s legacy and its opportunities in the future. As incoming CEO and President, Knudson will be responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction in all areas of the organization. Co-founders of Primary Residential Mortgage Retire in Featured, Headlines, News “It’s hard to express just how I feel about this company because they’re more like a family than my business colleagues,” Chapman said. “It’s been an honor to work with such amazing individuals over the past two decades, and I have every confidence they’ll continue to flourish in the years to come.” “The physical expansion of the corporate office building and the development of key personnel have postured PRMI for great things in the future,” Knudson said. “We are tremendously fortunate to have the Executive Leadership Team of Chris Jones, Ruth Green, Tom George, Burton Embry, AJ Swope, Darryl Lee, and Mathew Whitebrook to ensure our success for decades to come. I look forward to the opportunity to assume this mantle and continue our legacy of excellence into the future.” Zitting and Chapman co-founded PRMI 20 years ago in collaboration with Jeff Zitting, who is still with the company. Over the years, they grew the local residential mortgage operation into a company with multi-billion dollar production at 242 branch locations throughout the nation with over 1,500 employees. January 4, 2019 1,160 Views center_img Kenneth Knudson, Incoming CEO of Primary Residential MortgagePrimary Residential Mortgage, Inc. (PRMI), a mortgage lending company based out of Utah, announced the retirement of two of its co-founders and long-time executives, CEO, Dave Zitting, and CFO, Steve Chapman. Former VP of Finance and Board Member, Kenneth Knudson, assumed the role of CEO and president at the conclusion of 2018.Zitting remains on the Board of Directors for the company and has contracted to be a senior advisor to the Board through December 2020. Chapman will continue with the organization through December 2020 in an advisory role as well. “After long and thoughtful consideration, Steve and I both felt like the timing was right for us to conclude this incredible chapter of our lives, and to parlay our passion for mortgage finance into other technological solutions in support of real estate and real estate finance. Although this was a difficult decision, we know we’re leaving the company in the very capable hands of Kenneth and the rest of our incredible leadership team,” Zitting said. With over twenty-seven years of leadership and finance experience and the last nineteen years at PRMI, Knudson is poised to lead the organization into its next phase of growth and prosperity. In 2010, he established “PRMI Vision 2035” as a guide for the expansion and development of the company. Under Knudson’s personal leadership, the new corporate office was acquired and built out as the national headquarters of PRMI. Share Dave Zitting Kenneth Knudson Steve Chapman 2019-01-04 Donna Josephlast_img read more

Ecuadorian bananas lose edge in EU markets see de

first_img Ecuadorian bananas lose edge in EU markets, see de … July 11 , 2019 Fresh Del Monte: Lower banana profits contribute t … Colombia denies rumored outbreak of TR4 in the cou … Germany: Cocaine worth €25M found in ALDI banana … center_img You might also be interested in Fusarium wilt of banana is a disease caused by the soil-borne fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense­.If confirmed, the detection of TR4 would be a huge blow to Latin America’s banana industry. The disease, which is extremely contagious and has devastated banana industries around the world, affects the roots of banana plants and eventually causes the plants to die.It is understood that ICA is preparing a statement on the matter. Two Colombian banana farms are under quarantine due to their suspected infection with Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4), FreshFruitPortal.com understands, although there has been no official confirmation by Colombian authorities.In two resolutions that have since been deleted on the website of the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA), single-line preview statements said that two farms have been quarantined “due to the presence of symptoms associated with [TR4]”. The full resolutions can no longer be accessed on the website.The farms – Don Marce and Eva Norte – are located in the northern department of La Guajira, close to the border with Venezuela.ICA representatives contacted by FreshFruitPortal.com were unable to speak about the matter, but a source in the Colombian banana industry said that tests were currently being carried out to establish whether or not the plantations are infected with TR4.Ecuadorian news website Expreso [in Spanish] claims that it has been able to access the now-unavailable documents, which it says provide information on the situation, including wide-ranging measures to prevent the disease from spreading.last_img read more