Sao Paulo could face gang war with truce collapse

first_imgThat order came after 24 hours of relative calm in which Sao Paulo had just one homicide. Few expect the calm to hold after Wednesday’s transfer order, but officials held their ground on moving prisoners to far-off locations.“Isolation for these prisoners is crucial,” Sao Paulo state Gov. Geraldo Alckmin said this week. “Italy only made progress in combatting the Mafia when it stiffened penalties up to life imprisonment and isolated the leaders.”While drug gangs in the slums of Rio de Janeiro draw international attention by parading around the shantytowns toting high-powered rifles, giving interviews and carrying out Hollywood-worthy battles with police, the PCC is all business. The Sao Paulo gang detests attention and remains mostly in the shadows of the slums where it holds sway, ruling on reputation and fear, maintaining a mafia-like stance.“The PCC is better organized, more powerful, and they have a monopoly of crimes and power which is something nobody achieved in Rio,” said Ignacio Cano, a researcher at the Violence Analysis Center at Rio de Janeiro State University. “They are by far the strongest criminal group in Brazil.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Five days of gang-inspired attacks then left at least 175 dead, including police officers, traffickers and the innocent in between. After the violence lingered for months, an alleged informal truce between the government and the PCC slowed the transfers and the attacks tapered off.“This year the government broke its 2006 truce,” said Walter Maierovitch, Brazil’s former drug czar and organized crime expert. “The violence we’re seeing now is the PCC’s response to the end of the truce and the violent reaction of police who don’t hesitate to execute real and imagined suspects out of a feeling of revenge.”There are fears the gang will now go beyond the carnage of 2006, and that has this metropolitan area of 20 million people on edge.In the last six months, a series of police raids have killed dozens of suspected gang members, while nearly all the officers killed have been executed while they were off duty, at times in front of their families. Officials say phone intercepts of gang leaders’ calls from prison and handwritten orders show that the gang is behind the execution of the police officers.Authorities recently renewed efforts to transfer the gang’s leaders to prisons outside Sao Paulo state. The Justice Ministry on Wednesday authorized sending one of the PCC’s top figures to a maximum security prison in Roraima state, 900 miles (1,450 kilometers) to the northwest in the Amazon. How men can have a healthy 2019 What makes the PCC so powerful is that corporate approach to how it manages gang enterprises as well as its reach beyond its core membership.“They outsource. They contract people and allow them to carry out certain activities as long as they’re paying them (the PCC) something in return,” Cano said. “For example, in 2006 many people say the killings of policemen were outsourced.”Estimates of the number of people connected in some way to the gang go as high as 100,000.The security experts, Cano and Maierovitch, both agree that violence will escalate if police continue a hardline approach against the PCC, and if there is a perception that political leaders are closing their eyes to excessive force or killings carried out by officers against suspected gang members.An amateur video aired by the Globo TV network this week is likely to increase the backlash.It shows police escorting a suspect out of his home in a poor Sao Paulo neighborhood. With the man in the street and surrounded by five officers, one policeman points his gun at the suspect. In that instant, two shots are fired, but the person taking the video is blocked, obscuring the scene.The man was later reported by police as being killed during a gunbattle. But investigators on Wednesday requested that the officers involved be taken into custody while an investigation continues, a request a judge had not yet ruled on. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories A police spokeswoman said the department had no comment on the case.Back in the Vila Brasilandia slum, shopkeeper Silva said that while police and the gang battle, those caught in the crossfire are feeling the pain.“The average person ends up being the real target _ and we don’t know who is the criminal and who is the police,” she said.___Associated Press writer Stan Lehman contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories The gang was founded in 1993 by hardened criminals inside Sao Paulo’s Taubate Penitentiary, but remained a relatively obscure group until early 2001, when uprisings in 29 prisons across the state killed 19 inmates. It was the biggest prison rebellion in Brazil’s recent history and took police 27 hours to crush.The PCC was formed to pressure for improved prison conditions. Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Cardozo, speaking at a security conference this week, said he would “prefer to die” than serve time in his nation’s prisons. He added: “We have a medieval penal system.”While the gang’s start may have been rooted in fighting for basic human rights of the imprisoned, its members quickly began using their power inside prisons to direct drug-dealing and extortion operations on the outside.There are no official numbers on the gang’s size, but the inner core considered as members is thought to include no more than a few thousand people, Cano said.Last month, police documents obtained by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo indicated the gang’s members numbered just over 1,300, and showed they are required to pay $300 in monthly fees in exchange for legal aid if they’re arrested and support for their families if they go to jail. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Blood isn’t flowing just in her slum. Sao Paulo, which is to host the World Cup opening match in 2014, has seen nearly 150 homicides over the past two weeks and 94 police executed this year.“It’s a war here. Last week I was on a bus when a shootout began on the street. There was no escape. We didn’t know if we should flee the bus or stay inside,” Silva said at her modest all-purpose shop in Vila Brasilandia. “There were bullets everywhere, so I stayed inside.”Behind the violence, security experts say, is a powerful prison-based gang, the First Capital Command, which likely feels the government has violated an informal agreement, long denied by officials, to slow the prison transfers of gang leaders and limit crackdowns on its operations on Sao Paulo’s outskirts in exchange for an end to gang violence.In the past two weeks, Sao Paulo’s metropolitan area has seen more than 10 killings a day, almost double the normal average of six.Efforts to transfer high-ranking imprisoned members of the gang, known by its Portuguese initials PCC, to far off prisons where they would have difficulty giving orders by cellphone to their soldiers on the outside enraged the gang in 2006. Associated PressSAO PAULO (AP) – A tenuous six-year truce between police and gang members is over in Sao Paulo _ that much seems clear to shopkeeper Vanuza Alves da Silva, who has seen a surge in killings in her slum neighborhood.Seven people were killed in a single night last week in Silva’s Vila Brasilandia shantytown, including a police officer. Days later, gunmen shot up a bar, killing a 13-year-old boy and three adults. How do cataracts affect your vision? Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixlast_img read more

India retests missile able to reach Chinese cities

first_imgThe missile has a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) and was first successfully tested in April last year. It’s seen as a boost to India’s efforts to counter China’s regional dominance and become an Asian power in its own right.China is far ahead of India in the missile race, with intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching anywhere in India.India’s longest-range missile is currently the Agni-III, which has a range of 3,500 kilometers (2,100 miles), leaving it short of many major Chinese cities.The Agni-V is a solid-fuel, three-stage missile designed to carry a 1.5-ton nuclear warhead. It stands 17.5 meters (57 feet) tall, has a launch weight of 50 tons and was built at a reported cost of 25 billion rupees ($486 million). It can be moved across the country by road or rail and can be used to carry multiple warheads or to launch satellites into orbit.India already has the capability of hitting anywhere inside archrival Pakistan, but in recent years its increased defense spending has been focused on countering a perceived Chinese threat. India and China fought a war in 1962 and continue to nurse a border dispute. India has also been suspicious of Beijing’s efforts to increase its influence in the Indian Ocean in recent years. Top Stories Sponsored Stories NEW DELHI (AP) – India on Sunday successfully test-fired for the second time a nuclear-capable missile that can strike the major Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai, officials said.Ravi Gupta, a spokesman for the Defence Research and Development Organisation, said the latest test of the Agni-V brought the missile a step closer to being inducted into India’s arsenal at some point in 2014 or 2015.The missile was launched early Sunday morning from Wheeler Island off India’s east coast. Gupta said the new Agni, named for the Hindi word for fire, should not be seen as a threat.“We have a declared no-first-use policy. Our program is for deterrence and for peace,” he said.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Men’s health affects baby’s health toocenter_img Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your homelast_img read more

Obama on King That thrill will be with us forever

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Obama says King gets stuck in your head and gets you doing things you probably shouldn’t. He recalled how he was unexpectedly drawn into singing a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago” with King when he performed at a White House blues concert three years ago.Obama says, “B.B. may be gone, but that thrill will be with us forever.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 4 must play golf courses in Arizonacenter_img Top Stories Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says there’s “going to be one killer blues session in heaven tonight.”The president issued a statement Friday mourning the death of blues legend B.B. King. He says, “The blues has lost its king, and America has lost a legend.”Obama says King rose from a sharecropper’s son to become “the ambassador who brought his all-American music to his country and the world.” Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Venezuelans mass for years largest antigovernment protests

first_img“They’ll never divide us. Don’t ask, don’t beg; demand freedom,” she shouted, prompting the blocks of protesters to chant back “liberty!”Other opposition leaders stood under a banner reading “Venezuela United for Change” and shaved their heads in solidarity Ceballos, whose hair was reportedly cut off when he was transferred.Maria Fernanda Zerpa, a student wearing a tie-dye T-shirt and peace sign necklace, had shaved her head, too. She came out to support Lopez, who opinion polls peg as Venezuela’s most popular politician, but she doesn’t trust the rest of the opposition coalition and has little interest in the coming elections.“The elections are like whatever, because we know the people who run them have been bought by the government. And Capriles is a scaredy-cat who didn’t fight Maduro for the presidency,” she said.Protesters were most eager to talk about the country’s pervasive problems of shortages, inflation and violent crime, the same issues that fueled last year’s demonstrations and have worsened in the months since.Lopez has hardly been seen since his arrest, and the short video calling the day of protest electrified his supporters in a way other calls to take to the streets in the past months have not. A Harvard-educated former mayor, Lopez has been jailed for 15 months in connection with his leadership of the spring of 2014 protests that resulted in dozens of deaths on both sides of Venezuela’s yawning political divide.The opposition coalition did not endorse Saturday’s rallies, underscoring longstanding fissures among critics of the country’s 16-year socialist government. Before his imprisonment last year, Lopez clashed with other high-profile politicians, including moderate opposition leader Henrique Capriles, about the wisdom of organizing nationwide protests.Capriles, who came close to beating President Nicolas Maduro in the 2013 presidential election, led a march through the inland town that is home to a prison where former opposition mayor Daniel Ceballos was transferred from a military jail last week.In Caracas, a sea of sweltering protesters shut down a main thoroughfare in wealthy eastern Caracas for hours, slurping up sweetened crushed ice, shading themselves with umbrellas and waving flags among the mango trees and half-finished buildings.Ceballos’ wife, Patricia, who won a landslide election victory to replace her husband as mayor of the restive western city of San Cristobal was a crowd favorite. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Opposition demonstrators hold up white flowers and pictures of political prisoners as they protest the government in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, May 30, 2015. Venezuelans gathered across the country to voice their anger with the administration and demand a firm date for this year’s legislative elections. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) Comments   Share   Check your body, save your life CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Thousands donned white and took to the streets in cities across the country Saturday in the biggest show of frustration with Venezuela’s socialist administration since a wave of bloody anti-government protests a year ago.The day of marches was called less than a week ago by imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. In a video leaked from his prison cell, Lopez urged demonstrations to demand a firm date for this year’s legislative elections and freedom for jailed opposition politicians like himself who human rights groups consider political prisoners. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories Venezuela blocked two conservative former Latin American presidents from visiting Lopez or Ceballos this week. State ombudsman Tarek Saab said the former Bolivian and Colombian presidents were wrongly attempting to give Venezuela condescending “human rights classes.”On Friday, Maduro warned that top Caracas police officials would be imprisoned if they allowed violence to break out during Saturday’s march.“There are two Venezuelas: the bloodthirsty, coup-mongering ultra-right wing minority, and the majority that loves their country,” he said.For Franz Yustiz, who brought his grandchildren to the Caracas protest, a coup sounded like just the thing.“They need to send in the in marines quick, come what will,” said Yustiz, who works as a bodyguard, a profession that has exploded as violent crime soars here. “I’m so fed up. I want my grandchildren to know true democracy.”___Hannah Dreier on Twitter: https://twitter.com/hannahdreierCopyright © 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 Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more

EgyptianAmerican released flies back to US

first_img“Mohammed’s health is dire,” his family said. “He will receive medical treatment as soon as he arrives on U.S. soil and will spend the immediate future with his family recovering.”A State Department statement released Saturday welcomed Soltan’s release.A criminal court in April sentenced Soltan to life, while upholding death sentences for 14 people, including his father and Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, and sentencing 36 others to life in prison, including three Egyptian journalists.The case is rooted in the violence that swept Egypt after the military-led ouster in July 2013 of Morsi, a veteran Brotherhood leader and the country’s first freely elected president. His supporters set up protest camps in Cairo, but security forces violently dispersed the sit-ins in August 2013, killing hundreds. In retaliation, many police stations and churches came under attack.Soltan had been working as an assistant and translator for U.S. and international news organizations during the protests, but prosecutors accused him of participating in a plan to overthrow the country’s military rulers.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 0 Comments   Share   The vital role family plays in society New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies In this March 9, 2015 photo, Mohammed Soltan is pushed by his father Salah during a court appearance in Cairo, Egypt. Egyptian officials say authorities have freed Soltan, a dual U.S.-Egyptian citizen, Saturday May 30, 2015, Soltan had been sentenced to life in prison on charges of financing an anti-government sit-in and spreading “false news.” (AP Photo/Heba Elkholy) ***EGYPT OUT*** Top Stories Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img WASHINGTON (AP) — An Egyptian-American who had been sentenced to life in prison in Egypt and had been on a hunger strike for more than a year before being freed has arrived back in the United States.Mohammed Soltan, the son of a prominent member of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, arrived at Dulles International Airport on Saturday night in a wheelchair, The Washington Post said (http://wapo.st/1dEfipH ). The newspaper said Soltan was greeted with tears, hugs and calls of “welcome home.” Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Soltan had been convicted of financing an anti-government sit-in and spreading “false news,” one of thousands imprisoned after the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.The 27-year-old Ohio State University graduate and former Barack Obama campaigner had been on a hunger strike over his detention of more than a year, and his family said his health was deteriorating.Soltan’s release comes amid international criticism over Egypt’s mass trials and imprisonments, and only days before President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi travels to Germany on a state visit.He was arrested in August 2013 when security forces came looking for his father at his home. His family said they didn’t find the father at the time, but arrested him instead. His father, Salah, was detained later.Waleed Nasser, a lawyer representing Soltan, said he was forced to renounce his Egyptian citizenship in order to secure his release. A decree el-Sissi issued in November allows him to deport foreign defendants convicted or accused of crimes.In a statement, Soltan’s family thanked those who helped work for his release, saying that the U.S. government had made extensive efforts to secure his return home.last_img read more

Marine scheme takes over Parkside Convention Centre

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre (SCEC) unveiled yesterday the $60 million revamp of its Parkside Convention Centre.Following a marine scheme, the Parkside’s sophisticated redesign features white travertine floors, deep blue carpets and colour-backed glass wall panels, all melting in with the venue’s harbour views.Delegates are also given wide open spaces and plenty of natural light with the Parkside Ballroom, which is the largest pillarless ballroom in Sydney.Twenty-seven pieces of contemporary Australian art also don the walls of the SCEC, with the Parkside’s broad concourse home to a major work by Australian artist Brett Whitely.Centre chief executive Ton van Amerongen said the new look and feel kept clients in mind as it increased the flexibility and multi-functionality of space within the Centre and provided delegates with a connection to the city.He said he felt it was important to “use a building for what it is designed for not what you’d like it to be.”“The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre has always been more than just a static venue: it links its events with the life and energy of Sydney itself,” he said.“These changes further enhance that quality, drawing on the vivid light, the water views and the surrounding life of Darling Harbour.”The SCEC will be kept busy for the year ahead, with the Lions Convention, Asia Pacific Congress of Opthamology and the Annual World Congress of the Human Proteome Organisation, amongst others, to bring in more than 18,000 delegates. Floor to ceiling glass walls displays Darling Harbourcenter_img Parkside concourselast_img read more

Strategic Airlines seeks US takeoff

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Strategic Airlines is looking to expand its reach across the Pacific, submitting its application to operate services between Australia and the US.In the carrier’s submission to the International Air Services Commission (IASC), chief commercial officer Damien Vasta asked to launch flights to the US from September this year with further request for unlimited passenger capacity for up to ten years from August next year. “Strategic Airlines seeks an allocation of the unlimited passenger capacity available to designated Australian carriers to operate between Australia and the United States,” Mr Vasta wrote in the submission.IASC has called for applications on Strategic’s capacity request with notice of submission intent due by the 3 May this year and submissions to be received by 10 May 2011.last_img read more

2013 GWN7 Top Tourism Award Finalists Announced

first_imgHeritage AwardCultural AwardWebsite Development AwardManagement & Staff Training AwardCommunity Relations AwardEnvironment AwardSpecial Events Award The judges will also be awarding the RAC Travel Services Business Planning & Marketing Award and the Vanguard Press Judges Award.Now in their 24th year of the Awards, the VCAWA and GWN7 are extremely proud to once again be recognising the importance of Visitor Centres and the Tourism Industry in Western Australia.“Judging such a diverse range of towns from all over the State is no easy task – the level of entrants is increasing each year” according to the Chair of the judging panel, Robyn Fenech.“We were very impressed with the standard of submissions – the passion that Visitor Centres and towns put into their tourism product really shone through. Every year this process reinforces for the judging panel, the diverse range of tourism opportunities that WA has to offer and we can’t wait to visit the finalists to experience our extraordinary State”.  Each of the six finalists for the 2013 GWN7 Top Tourism Award will receive a site visit from the judges and the winning entrant of the GWN7 Top Tourism Award will receive from GWN7 an airtime package valued at $25,000 to utilise in support of their overall marketing activities to attract visitors to their area. The winner of the Population Under 5,000 category will receive a $5,000 airtime package with GWN7 as well.The award winners will be announced at the GWN7 Top Tourism Award Gala Dinner on Thursday 20th September in Armadale, which forms part of the Annual Visitor Servicing Conference.The Visitor Centre Association of WA is a not-for-profit peak industry body, representing more than 102 Visitor Centres and sub-representation of approximately 4,500 tourism businesses throughout Western Australia. In addition, all of the towns who nominated are eligible for the West Australian Regional Newspaper Special Category Awards which include: Top Tourism Award: Busselton, Denmark, Margaret RiverTop Tourism Award for Population Under 5,000: Bridgetown, Dunsborough, Kalbarricenter_img The Visitor Centre Association of Western Australia (VCAWA) is delighted to announce the finalists of the prestigious GWN7 Top Tourism Awards.For the first time, this year saw the 15 entrants enter in two categories, either for the Top Tourism Award or for the Top Tourism Award for Population Under 5,000. Three finalists have been selected in each category and are in the running for the prestigious honour of being named a Top Tourism Town in 2013.Judges deliberated hard over naming the finalists from an excellent field of entrants from all over the State but today have announced that the finalists are: Source = VCAWAlast_img read more

Cruising to a better future for children

first_img“Around three sachets a day for four to six weeks can put a child out of harm’s way and with the generosity of our on board guests we will do our best to save and improve as many lives as possible,”  MSC Cruises chief executive officer, Giani Ornato said.  Source = ETB News, T.N. MSC Crusies has renewed its ‘Get on Board for Children initiative’ with UNICEF.  Passengers can donate AUD $1.50 to buy three meals of RUTF food, while a full treatment of RUTF food costs AUS$65.center_img The initiative, which allows MSC Cruise passengers to donate money towards UNICEF operations in Brazil, has been a trailblazing success, raising AUD $4.3 million over the last four years.  MSC has also created a new partnership with UNICEF to send Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) food to other developing countries.last_img read more

Royal Caribbean crowned Australasias leading cruise line

first_imgRoyal Caribbean crowned Australasia’s leading cruise lineRoyal Caribbean crowned Australasia’s leading cruise lineRoyal Caribbean International has been voted Australasia’s Leading Cruise Line at the prestigious World Travel Awards Asia and Australasia, presented in Danang, Vietnam.The coveted title is determined from votes cast by travel and tourism professionals throughout Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, as well as the general public.“It’s been an incredible year for Royal Caribbean, and we are honoured to have such a prestigious international award under our belt,” says Adam Armstrong, Managing Director of Royal Caribbean Australia and New Zealand.“Australasia has really shown us the love since the arrival of our first ship down under nine years ago, and we can’t wait to welcome our guests back onboard our award-winning, innovative ships again this season – set to be our biggest ever.”The award adds to a long list of accolades presented to the cruise line in 2016, including the dual award from the National Travel Industry Awards for Best Domestic Operator and Best International Operator, as well as the esteemed Cruise Critic Australia Editors’ Pick Awards for Best for Families, Best Entertainment, and Best New Ship, for the brand new Ovation of the Seas.Royal Caribbean’s local season officially kicked off on 9 October with the arrival of Radiance of the Seas in Sydney. Five of Royal Caribbean’s ships will sail down under during the summer, including the newest, biggest and most technologically advanced ship to ever be homeported in the region, Ovation of the Seas. South Pacific sisters Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas also join Ovation of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas sailing from Sydney, while Legend of the Seas will sail her last season from Brisbane. Royal Caribbean CruisesSource = Royal Caribbean Internationallast_img read more

Luxperience announces awards finalists

first_imgLuxperience announces awards finalistsWith a record number of impressive submissions, the finalists for this year’s Luxperience Awards are announced today. Luxperience wishes to congratulate these organisations from around the world and wish them well for the upcoming Awards night.The prestigious awards acknowledge excellence in the development and promotion of the finest products that the luxury travel and premium business events industries have to offer.The 2017 Finalists are:INSPIRING category finalistsDestination Asia, Asia; Luxury Travel Advisors, United Kingdom; Trisara, ThailandMEANINGFUL category finalistsAuckland Seaplanes, New Zealand; Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, Australia; Shinta Mani Hotels, CambodiaCONNECTIONS category finalistsExperiential Travel Journeys, India; Lighthouse, India; Local Eyes Sydney, AustraliaOUTSTANDING DESTINATION category finalistsBeverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau, USA; Japan National Tourism Office, Japan; New Caledonia Tourism, New Caledonia; Tourism New Zealand, New Zealand;The awards are judged by an esteemed panel of luxury travel and lifestyle experts: Emma Scott, Creative Director for branding agency Tiny Hunter; Belinda Melocco, Senior Manager Client Engagement for law firm King & Wood Mallesons; Mags King, Managing Photo Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review and the Sun Herald; and Chris Flynn, Regional Director-Pacific at PATA, along with Luxury Brand Strategist, Michelle Papas.Winners will be announced in front of over 400 guests attending the dazzling Luxperience Gala Dinner, taking place on Tuesday 19 September 2017 at Doltone House, Darling Island, Pyrmont.Source = Luxperiencelast_img read more

World2Cover Travel Insurance recognised with four awards

first_imgWorld2Cover Travel Insurance recognised with four awardsWorld2Cover Travel Insurance recognised with four awardsWorld2Cover has taken out four major wins in the recent Canstar Travel Insurance Awards, proving they are a true force to be reckoned with in the local travel insurance market and a great choice for holidaymakers across the nation – no matter what their age, or how they like to travel.Recognised for excellence in the category, World2Cover received Canstar’s Outstanding Value Awards for International Travel Insurance and Domestic Travel Insurance, for the second year running, alongside new wins in the Cruise Travel Insurance and Senior’s Travel Insurance categories.Claudio Saita, Deputy CEO and Executive Director in Australia for Tokio Marine, underwriters for World2Cover travel insurance, said the company is both thrilled and humbled by the multiple award wins.“We are committed to offering all travel lovers cover that will suit their lifestyle and travel preferences, with both cost effective and feature rich policies across the four Canstar Awards categories. It is extremely gratifying to be acknowledged for this, particularly as we build our reputation in market.“Our customers can also have even more confidence knowing that they are choosing a safe pair of hands, as World2Cover ranked highest overall out of the 169 international policies and 96 domestic policies across 79 insurers that were assessed by Canstar,” he said.Canstar expertly researches, compares and rates banking and insurance products, with its annual Travel Insurance Star Ratings awarded based on competitive prices and variety of features.Mitchell Watson, Canstar Group Manager of Research and Ratings, said Canstar’s ratings help consumers make more informed decisions in a highly competitive sector.“World2Cover has proved it is serious about providing outstanding value cover and support to Australian travellers of any age, with its raft of winning products across four of our rated travel insurance categories including international and domestic, as well as cruise and seniors cover. It is delivering competitive policies with consumer needs top of mind.”Since launching in Australia, World2Cover has been on a strong growth trajectory and according to Mr Saita, the brand will only get stronger. He noted that along with new partnerships in the pipeline, World2Cover will also launch their new website in early October to further enhance the sales process and assist travellers with their upcoming holidays.The World2Cover policy portfolio ensures a broad range of competitive travel insurance options, and includes: Top Cover* provides unlimited overseas medical and hospital cover plus cover at no extra cost for children and grandchildren under 25 when they are travelling with a family member who is a policy holderDomestic Cover* has a zero excess option for travel within Australia.Essentials Cover* offers cover for rental car excess, unlimited overseas medical and hospital cover along with all the essentials, with ski and zero excess optionsBasics Cover* includes unlimited overseas medical and hospital cover plus other basics, and is designed for cost-conscious travellers including under 30’s, backpackers and budget holidaymakersWorld2Cover’s recent wins of Canstar’s Outstanding Value Awards for Travel Insurance add to a long list of accolades for World2Cover’s underwriters, Tokio Marine, which is recognised as a worldwide leader in the general non-life insurance sector and has an excellent security rating and an A+ accolade for financial strength from Standard & Poor’s.For more information on the coverage options from World2Cover, visit www.world2cover.com.au.*Limits, conditions and exclusions apply. Please read the PDS and full policy to ensure the cover is right for your circumstances.The information contained in this article site is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice.Source = World2Coverlast_img read more

IHG to add its Vibrant voco™ brand to Kirkton Park

first_imgSource = InterContinental Hotels Group IHG to add its Vibrant voco™ brand to Kirkton ParkIHG to add its Vibrant voco™ brand to Kirkton ParkIHG will give it’s stunning Kirkton Park property in the NSW wine region a refresh and rebrand it as voco™ Kirkton Park Hunter Valley, making it the fourth signing in Australia since IHG launched the upscale voco™ brand globally in June.With 70 voguishly appointed rooms, the property was one of the first Hunter Valley Hotels established in the prestigious wine region. In June 2017 IHG took over management of the hotel under the banner of Kirkton Park Hunter Valley and has since built a reputation for being one of the wine region’s most desirable destinations.As part of the rebrand, voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley will make several aesthetic upgrades with the distinctive and luxurious voco™ brand hallmarks: ‘Come on in’, ‘Me time’, and ‘voco life’. The boutique hotel will once again join forces with luxury interior designer, Greg Natale, to bring the interior design concept to life in a new and inventive way that celebrates its location and surroundings.Located in the heart of Pokolbin and just minutes away from the region’s most popular wineries, the Australian colonial heritage property is complemented by 70 acres of rural surroundings including farmland, a wholesome vegetable garden and picturesque walking trails.Guests will be treated to the ultimate upscale voco experience that celebrates the individuality of the hotel, stunning location and local people, with each stay tailored to deliver a unique and memorable experience. Once checked in, elements of the voco™ hotels will be on offer, including tennis courts, billiards room, indoor heated pool, sauna and spa, and gymnasium. Guests will also be able to enjoy access to the welcome lounge, open-fire library, 24-hour reception and room-service and on-site restaurants and bars, adding to the vibrant voco™ experience.Penny Crossley, General Manager of Kirkton Park Hunter Valley, said: “The Hunter Valley is famous for local wineries and produce growers. voco is the perfect fit for us to deliver genuine, passionate service every day. Our approach is personalised, friendly and charming and we want to ensure every stay is memorable. As a hotel, we are connected with the local community, so can offer a truly localised experience as our beautiful country estate serves as the perfect spot to unwind.”“We are very proud to bring this amazing property to life as voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley, and to further build on our personal passion for sustainable stays. We look forward to continuing to offer the charming, memorable and distinctive hallmarks we are famous for, with a dash of the voco flair.”The newest of voco hotels will have a genuine, sustainable and paddock-to-plate focused mindset, embracing local surroundings. Mirroring IHG’s global focus on sustainability, the hotel will make upgrades to the owned vegetable garden, minimise food waste with on-property animals, install a panel Solar Farm 100 KW system, serve filtered water to conferencing guests, consciously reduce plastic usage and install sustainable In-Room amenities and shower concepts. Guests will also be able to collect their own eggs, help the staff feed the on-site farm animals and learn about the vegetables from the Chef.Launched in June this year, the voco brand will strengthen IHG’s offer in the $40 billion upscale segment, which is expected to grow by a further $20 billion by 2025. This distinctive brand will offer owners the ability to drive higher returns by delivering a compelling guest experience and leveraging IHG’s powerful systems. Including best-in-class revenue management and technology capabilities and IHG® Rewards Club, one of the world’s largest hotel loyalty programmes.IHG currently has 48 hotels operating under four brands in Australasia, including: InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, with another 27 in the pipeline, including voco, EVEN Hotels and Hotel Indigo.*To book your stay at Kirkton Park Hunter Valley today, visit www.kirktonparkhuntervalley.com.au.last_img read more

Explore Ho Chi Minh City

first_imgOnce the Saigon of French diplomats, English writers as well as American soldiers is now perhaps the prime tourist attraction of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh in itself is one of the most popular tourist destination in Asia.Source: BBClast_img

B2B networking forum Namaste USA debuts in Mumbai and Delhi

first_imgNamaste USA, the newly introduced B2B networking platform developed by Brand USA for their destination partners, made its debut in Mumbai and Delhi last month. The first edition of ‘Namaste USA’ was a great success and was very well-received as a pre-summer destination business forum in the Indian market.A total of 10 companies, including Brand USA, participated this year and conducted business with eminent trade buyers in Mumbai and Delhi, thereby updating them on varied tourism products.In Mumbai, a preview of Brand USA’s new big-screen movie – America’s Musical Journey, was also shown to the guests. In New Delhi, the evening showcased an exclusive screening of ‘America Wild: National Parks Adventure’ at the new IMAX Theatre for senior travel trade professionals and consumer media, followed by networking cocktails and dinner.last_img read more

FHFA Fannie Freddie May Need 142B More in Taxpayer Funds

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing The “”Federal Housing Finance Agency””:http://www.fhfa.gov/ (FHFA) released “”projections””:http://www.fhfa.gov/webfiles/22737/GSEProjF.pdf Thursday that showed the GSEs may need anywhere from $51 billion to $142 billion more taxpayer funds over the next few years, even as one Republican lawmaker offered a plan that would siphon federal support for the companies.[IMAGE]The FHFA developed three scenarios for “”Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html and “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ over the next three years, yielding estimates that reflect a downward revision for the amount of “”Treasury Department””:http://www.treasury.gov/Pages/default.aspx funds needed to sustain the GSEs.The scenarios show that the companies will ultimately need to withdraw anywhere from $220 billion to $311 billion from the federal government, a lower estimate for forecasts that originally fixed their needs at anywhere from $221 billion to $363 billion over the same time frame.The FHFA projects that anywhere from $121 billion to $193 billion more may be needed to shore up operational expenses for the companies.Upward-bound performances for both Fannie and Freddie over the past year led their regulator to release the projections, which it nonetheless noted are “”modeled projections in response to ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├ï┼ôwhat if’ exercises”” that rely[COLUMN_BREAK]on expected conditions in the financial sector, house prices, and loan activity.On the same day that the FHFA released its report, “”Rep. Scott Garrett””:http://garrett.house.gov/ (R-New Jersey) unveiled a “”proposal””:http://garrett.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=266462 that he billed as a measure that would pool more private-sector investment back into the mortgage markets by divvying up the GSEs and eliminating federal loan guarantees.He said in a statement that “”Republican and Democrats alike… recognize the status quo is unsustainable. The government-sanctioned duopoly of Fannie and Freddie is not only systematically dangerous to our economic security, it’s un-American.””The lawmaker proposed abolishing the companies by handing off the underwriting responsibilities for several types of mortgages to the FHFA, clarifying the circumstances between lenders and servicers, and opening up data to investors in mortgage-backed securities.””For too long the government’s manipulation of the housing market has crowded out private market participants at the expense of the American taxpayers,”” Garrett added. “”It’s time to move from the era of crony capitalism that defined our housing finance system during the last century to an era of free market capitalism that will define our housing finance system in the next century.””His proposal is one of many that policymakers have floated to restore private-sector investment in the mortgage markets absent Fannie and Freddie. In February “”Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner””:http://www.treasury.gov/about/Pages/Secretary.aspx and “”HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan””:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/about/hud_secretary presented a Senate committee with their plans to wean the GSEs off taxpayer funds, over $150 billion of which have gone to shore up the companies since the financial crisis in 2008.The FHFA said in its report that Fannie and Freddie still owe the federal government some $142 billion for the bailout funds. FHFA: Fannie, Freddie May Need $142B More in Taxpayer Funds Agency Debt Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Fannie Mae FHFA Fixed-Rate Mortgage Freddie Mac Home Prices Housing Affordability HUD Investment Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Applications Mortgage-Backed Securities Processing Service Providers Treasury Department Underwriting Standards Valuation 2011-10-27 Ryan Schuettecenter_img October 27, 2011 411 Views Sharelast_img read more

Live Like the Sultan of Swat on Home Plate Farm

first_img For baseball fans, it doesn’t get any greater than Babe Ruth, and now that a Massachusetts estate once belonging to Ruth is on the market, homebuyers have the chance to live like the Sultan of Swat. The property, which is known as Home Plate Farm, is listed for $1.65 million, and the home is said to include a Ruth memorabilia room on the third floor. Built in the 1800s, the Colonial house has been fully restored.According to “”MSNBC””:http://www.bottomline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/11/11643683-celebrity-real-estate-billy-joel-babe-ruth-and-bristol-palin?lite, the 5,124-square-foot manse is “”refinished with modern systems and materials to make it turnkey ready.”” Ruth’s ownership of the Sudbury farm lasted from 1922 to 1926, following his trade to the Bronx.[COLUMN_BREAK][IMAGE] Live Like the Sultan of Swat on Home Plate Farm June 29, 2012 494 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technologycenter_img Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Celebrity Homes Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-06-29 Abby Gregorylast_img read more

Mortgage Applications Decline as Refis Nosedive

first_img in Origination May 22, 2013 397 Views Share Mortgage Applications Decline as Refis Nosedivecenter_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Applications Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Rates Purchase Loans Refinance Service Providers 2013-05-22 Tory Barringer Mortgage applications continued on a downward slope last week, with refinance volume falling to its lowest level in months, according to the “”Mortgage Bankers Association’s””:http://mbaa.org/default.htm (MBA) Weekly Applications Survey.[IMAGE]The survey’s Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, dropped 9.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending May 17, MBA reported. Unadjusted, the index fell a full 10 percent compared to the previous week.[COLUMN_BREAK]The Refinance Index decreased 12 percent week-over-week–the fastest weekly drop this year, according to MBA. The refinance share of mortgage activity dropped 2 percentage points to 74 percent.””Mortgage rates increased to their highest level since March last week, leading to the largest single week drop in refinance applications this year,”” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s VP of research and economics. “”The refinance index has fallen almost 19 percent over the past two weeks and is back to its lowest level since late March. Purchase activity declined over the week but is still running about 10 percent above last year’s pace at this time.””At the same time, the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index saw a decline of 3 percent week-over-week. The unadjusted index fell 4 percent but still came up 10 percent higher than the same week in 2012.The average contract interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a conforming loan balance was 3.78 percent last week, according to MBA–an increase of 11 basis points from the previous survey.last_img read more

The Mortgage Collective Expands Offerings to Include Solutions Group

first_imgThe Mortgage Collective Expands Offerings to Include Solutions Group The Mortgage Collective recently announced its continued expansion with the addition of a new component-based Solutions Group, which will serve to combine the expertise and delivery of the industry’s leading service providers from individual, vertical offerings into comprehensive business solutions for mortgage banking, real estate services, originations, loan servicing, and default management.“By combining service offerings from best-in-class industry service providers, The Mortgage Collective is able to deliver a unified, component-based solution approach that is more nimble and responsive than what the mega providers offer through acquisitions,” said Keith Murray, President and CEO of VRM Mortgage Services. ”Factor in the added benefit of providing thought leadership and industry networking opportunities, and we’ve established a truly disruptive solution for our industry.”According to the Mortgage Collective, the Solutions Group is designed to meet the demands of the rapidly evolving mortgage industry. As new challenges arise, additional companies will have the opportunity to join the Solutions Group and participate in helping create the next generation of customized industry services.“The Mortgage Collective Solutions Group is ideal for lenders, servicers, investors and GSE’s looking for new and innovative solutions that better align with today’s complex mortgage banking requirements,” said Brandon Kirkham, SVP of Business Expansion at VRM. “Modifying legacy technology solutions or pivoting inefficient work processes don’t create the agility and innovation needed to dramatically reduce cost to service while improving customer experience. Bring us your challenge and we will craft a solution that works.” in Headlines, News, Technology February 23, 2016 478 Views center_img Solutions Group The Mortgage Collective 2016-02-23 Staff Writer Sharelast_img read more

Does LowIncome Housing Affect Property Values

first_img The deep-set worry that low-income housing has a deleterious effect on the values of other properties appears to have little basis in reality. According to a new study by Trulia of the country’s 20 least affordable housing markets, low-income housing built during a 10-year span shows no effect on nearby home values.Trulia reported Wednesday that resistance to affordable housing development has surfaced in places like San Francisco, New York, and Seattle, where low-inventory and high competition has sparked worries about affordable development. But the firm’s analysis of more than 3,000 low-income housing projects built between 1996 to 2006 “found no significant effect on home values located near a low-income housing project, with a few exceptions.”Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, were two exceptions. Low-income housing projects there had a negative effect on nearby homes in terms of price per square foot‒‒a drop of $18 to $19 per square foot, “suggesting a region-specific market effect for these two geographically adjacent metros,” Trulia reported. But the reason could be too-much-too-fast.“Concentrating subsidized housing projects in particular areas such as Roxbury and Dorchester in Boston, or Cambridgeport in Cambridge in a short time period, for example, might have the effect of crowding out other development activity,” the report stated.In almost all other markets, low-income housing seems to have had no effect either way. Denver, in fact, was the only metro where low-cost housing actually benefited other homes.One reason for this could be that parts of downtown Denver around where low-income housing projects were built saw a renaissance in the 1990s, driven by the development of the lower downtown area and the construction of Coors Field.“Some of these neighborhoods in downtown Denver are now the most sought real estate in the metro area,” the report stated. “Indeed, neighborhoods such as the Central Business District and Five Points, where low-income housing projects were concentrated in our study period, outperformed greater Denver in terms of home values per square foot.”The important thing to remember, Trulia reported, is that apart from these two wildly disparate examples, the overall truth is that low-cost housing doesn’t affect real estate markets much.“These are exceptions to the finding that low-income housing projects largely have no effect on home values,” the report stated. “The bottom line for NIMBYs who fear that property values will take a hit when a low-income housing project locates nearby is that their anxiety is largely unfounded‒‒at least in cities where housing is either expensive or in short supply.”Click here to view Trulia’s complete report. in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News November 16, 2016 846 Views Does Low-Income Housing Affect Property Values?center_img Share Low-Income Housing Property Values 2016-11-16 ScottMorgan1last_img read more