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Miss Holocaust Survivor crowned in Israel

first_img“It sounds totally macabre to me,” said Colette Avital, chairwoman of Israel’s leading Holocaust survivors’ umbrella group. “I am in favor of enriching lives, but a one-time pageant masquerading (survivors) with beautiful clothes is not what is going to make their lives more meaningful.”Pageant organizer Shimon Sabag rejected the criticism, saying the winners were chosen based on their personal stories of survival and rebuilding their lives after the war, and physical beauty was only a tiny part of the competition.“They feel good together. They are having a good time and laughing in the rehearsals,” said Sabag, director of Yad Ezer L’Haver, or Helping Hand, which assists needy Holocaust survivors and organized the pageant.“The fact that so many wanted to participate proves that it’s a good idea.”Nearly 300 women from across Israel registered for the competition and contestants were whittled down to the 14 finalists who appeared Thursday.The contest, part of Helping Hand’s annual “cultural” night, included a lavish dinner and music at a Haifa reception hall. Some 600 people attended, including two Cabinet ministers, Moshe Kahlon and Yossi Peled, himself a Holocaust survivor. Top Stories The Holocaust, in which Nazi Germany oversaw the systematic slaughter of 6 million European Jews, plays a unique role in Israeli society. The country gained independence in the wake of the Holocaust, serving as a refuge for hundreds of thousands of people who survived the genocide.Nearly 200,000 aging survivors live in Israel today, and the country’s annual Holocaust Day is one of the most solemn occasions on the calendar. Restaurants and cinemas close, and the country comes to a standstill as sirens wail for two minutes. Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, frequently make references to the Holocaust when discussing the threat they believe a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the Jewish state.Thursday’s contest was among the many unconventional beauty pageants that have sprouted up over the years. The war-torn countries of Angola and Cambodia have held “Miss Landmine” contests for survivors of land mine explosions, Star Trek fans enjoy the “Miss Klingon Empire” contest in Atlanta, and plus-sized women in Thailand compete for the honor of “Miss Jumbo Queen.” There are also a senior citizens’ pageants in the U.S. Associated PressHAIFA, Israel (AP) – Grinning and waving, 14 women who survived the horrors of World War II paraded Thursday in an unusual pageant, vying for the honor of being crowned Israel’s first “Miss Holocaust Survivor.”Billed by organizers as a celebration of life, the event also stirred controversy. In a country where millions have been touched by the Holocaust, many argued that judging aging women who had suffered so much on physical appearance was inappropriate, and even offensive. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths The difference between men and women when it comes to pain 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Comments   Share   center_img More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Wearing a glittering tiara, she was joined by her granddaughter, Keren Hazan. “I’m very proud of her because she’s the most beautiful woman in the room tonight,” Hazan said.In addition to the contestants’ accounts of surviving Nazi ghettos and concentration camps, their later contributions to their communities were also considered, Sabag said. Physical appearance was maybe “10 percent” of the criteria, he said, though a cosmetics company was recruited to help the women dress up for the occasion.“We always tell them to dress well and look good. To think positive and to take care of themselves,” Sabag said. “Always look at life with a smile and continue to live.”The thought that physical appearance could even remotely be a factor rubbed some the wrong way. Avital, of the Holocaust survivors’ umbrella group, criticized the cosmetics company, saying it was using Holocaust survivors in a cheap marketing stunt to promote their products.“Why use a beauty contest to show that these people survived and that they’re brave?” wondered Lili Haber, a daughter of Holocaust survivors who heads an Israeli organization that assists survivors from Poland. “I think it’s awful. I think it’s something a decent person shouldn’t even think about.” Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Gal Mor, editor of the popular Israeli blog “Holes in the Net,” said Thursday’s pageant was well-intentioned but misguided.“Why should a decayed, competitive institution that emphasizes women’s appearance be used as inspiration, instead of allowing them to tell their story without gimmicks?” he wrote. “This is one step short of `Survivor-Holocaust’ or `Big Brother Auschwitz.’ It leaves a bad taste. Holocaust survivors should be above all this.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The women, ranging in age from 74 to 97, clearly enjoyed themselves. Wearing black dresses, earrings and necklaces, and sporting blue-and-white numbered sashes, they grinned and waved as they were introduced to the adoring audience. Music played as the contestants walked along a red carpet, introduced themselves and described their memories of World War II.“I have the privilege to show the world that Hitler wanted to exterminate us and we are alive. We are also enjoying life. Thank God it’s that way,” said Esther Libber, a 74-year-old runner-up who fled her home in Poland as a child, hid in a forest and was rescued by a Polish woman. She said she lost her entire immediate family.A four-judge panel consisting of three former beauty queens and a geriatric psychiatrist who specializes in treating Holocaust survivors chose the winner. Hava Hershkovitz, a soon-to-be 79-year-old, was banished from her home in Romania in 1941 and sent to a detention camp in the Soviet Union for three years. Today, she lives in an assisted living home run by Helping Hand.“This place is full of survivors. It puts us at the center of attention so people will care. It’s not easy at this age to be in a beauty contest, but we’re all doing it to show that we’re still here,” the silver-haired Hershkovitz said.last_img

Caricom leaders play down worries on blocs future

first_img Men’s health affects baby’s health too “They speak loudly about the need to create a regional environment that will be conducive to the ease of doing business throughout the single market,” he said. “They have expressed anguish at the difficulties experienced at ports of entry.”Guyana President Donald Ramotar called on Caricom to address climate change issues, and he said it should develop closer ties with Brazil and China to help lift the region out of its economic crisis.The three-day summit also will focus on expanding membership of a Trinidad-based regional appeals court, improving foreign policy coordination and reviewing single-market trading systems.The prime ministers for Trinidad and Jamaica are expected to talk about their plans to abandon the British Privy Council as the region’s final appeals court and join the Caribbean Court of Justice, which currently has three members in its appeals section: Guyana, Barbados and Belize.The summit ends Friday.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller poured cold water on recent suggestions that her island might leave Caricom following allegations of unfair trading practices by Trinidad and Tobago.If Caricom was not around, “it would have to be invented,” she said, drawing applause. “Jamaica will continue to publicly reiterate the importance of the regional integration movement to the attainment of our national development goals and for the advancement of our region.”She also urged Caricom to consider allowing all categories of workers to move freely within the region under the Caricom Single Market and Economy program.The group’s secretary general, Irwin LaRocque, declared emphatically that “Caricom is not in crisis,” saying now is the time for more integration.The comments came a year after consultants reported that the bloc could fall apart within three years if it was not restructured. Among their recommendations was that Caricom generate more revenue, force nations to pay outstanding dues and commit to the implementation of programs members pledged to create.LaRocque said that in meetings with people from various sectors of the Caribbean community, they expressed concern about the slow pace of implementation of vital decisions and programs. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories Sponsored Stories Associated PressCASTRIES, St. Lucia (AP) – Caribbean leaders opened the annual summit of the Caricom trade bloc Wednesday by seeking to lessen concerns that the 15-member regional group is disintegrating.The health of Caricom, along with freedom of movement within the Caribbean and climate change, were topics that featured prominently in opening speeches even though the region’s external relations, especially with Europe, were being touted as the summit’s main discussion point. Comments   Share   Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familylast_img read more

Somali comedian who dared mock militants is killed

first_imgThe human rights group Amnesty International demanded that Somali authorities and the international community take action to re-establish the rule of law in Somalia following the killing of the comedian.“Amnesty International is shocked not only by the continuing pattern of targeted attacks against media, but also at the inaction of the Somali authorities to protect them and to investigate these attacks seriously,” said Bénédicte Goderiaux, Somalia researcher at Amnesty International. “Not a single person has been brought to justice for the killings of journalists in Somalia this year, nor in previous years.”Somalia has been without a fully functioning government since 1991. The country’s leaders on Wednesday endorsed a new provisional constitution that many here hope will advance human rights protections.The top U.N. representative to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, said the new constitution guarantees the right to free expression. He lamented the lack of investigations into media deaths.“Almost every month we mourn a victim in the Somali media world. This is simply unacceptable,” Mahiga said. He called on Somali authorities to investigate this latest attack and bring the perpetrators to justice. 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Sponsored Stories Top Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments   Share   Associated PressMOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – On one of his recent radio shows, a popular Somali comedian ridiculed commanders of a ruthless Islamist insurgent group that is notorious for forcibly recruiting boys into its ranks and making them fight.“Hey young boys, you can’t move back from the enemy shelling … instead just stay there and fight,” the comedian said, taking the role of an al-Shabab commander speaking by phone to his youthful troops from an oceanside spot, far from the front lines. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementscenter_img Such ribbing may have cost comedian Abdi Jeylani Malaq his life. On Tuesday, the 43-year-old Malaq was shot dead near his home in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, by two young men suspected of belonging to al-Shabab, a group that pledges fealty to al-Qaida.The targeted killing sparked calls for investigations into his death.Many in Somalia will miss Malaq’s ability to make them laugh as they try to overcome some 20 years of conflict. Mogadishu is enjoying a resurgence in the arts and sports after militants were pushed out of the capital in August 2011.“He brought smiles to our faces when all … was dark and gloomy. He was a genius comedian,” said Mohamed Deq Abdi, a Mogadishu resident.Dozens of Somali journalists gathered around Malaq’s grave on Thursday.“This is a heartbreaking and painful,” Abdi Muridi Dhere, one of Malaq’s radio colleagues, said through his tears at Malaq’s grave.Malaq’s death is the latest in a string of what appear to be targeted killings of media workers in Somalia, where journalists must watch their backs for attacks from militants and criminals and fight through judicial inaction and even outright hostility from the government. Seven journalists have been killed in Somalia this year in what appear to be targeted killings. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathslast_img read more

South Korean sentenced in octopus death scheme

first_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 0 Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement How men can have a healthy 2019 Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Yonhap says a court in the city of Incheon convicted the 31-year-old man on Thursday of smothering the woman to death.Live octopuses are a delicacy in South Korea and are usually eaten after being cut into pieces.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – A report says a South Korean man who blamed a live octopus for the death of his girlfriend has been sentenced to life in prison for killing her.Yonhap news agency says police had initially concluded in 2010 that the man’s girlfriend suffocated while swallowing an entire octopus that stuck in her throat. It says prosecutors reopened the case five months later after her family found that the man had received $180,000 in insurance money for her death. Top Stories Sponsored Stories Men’s health affects baby’s health too How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Tourists needed to rebuild Christchurch

first_imgVisitors to Christchurch are vital to rebuilding the city’s tourism industry and economy, according Tourism Industry Association (TIA) chief executive Martin Snedden.In the lead up to the release of the Christchurch Central City Blueprint next month, TIA’s board of directors will gather in Christchurch to host a TIA members function as well as meet with local tourism leaders.Mr Snedden said prior to the earthquake tourism injected NZ$2.3 billion per year to Canterbury’s economy, however since the earthquake Christchurch has lost more than one million guest nights.“The industry is keen to encourage visitors back to Christchurch and we’re looking forward to the release of the Christchurch Central Development Units (CCDU) Blueprint for the city’s rebuild,” Mr Snedden said.Mr Snedden explained that the urgent need is for a central city entertainment zone to complement the Restart Mall.“The mall has been highly successful at providing a central city focus but offering both international and domestic visitors a temporary restaurant and entertainment zone would give them a reason to stay and spend more while they are there.”Mr Snedden added that TIA is calling for increased support for Christchurch Airport and its endeavours to secure increase international traffic.“Christchurch Airport is the main gateway to the South Island and we want to do all we can to encourage airlines and passengers to come here.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.Plast_img read more

Etihad Airways reports growth of overseas staff placements

first_imgSource = ETB News: Megan Tran Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has increased the number of UAE national staff on international work placements by over 130 per cent compared to the end of last year.Currently, there are 142 Emiratis in overseas positions across the airline’s global network.Over the next three months, an additional 33 UAE national employees will be deployed by Etihad Airways to Australia, Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East, bringing the total number of international placements to 175 by the end of 2014.The positions are being filled by graduates from the airline’s UAE national development programs, together with existing employees and new recruits. Some of the UAE nationals will also be placed on assignments with Etihad Airways’ partner airlines worldwide. Etihad Airways chief people and performance officer Ray Gammell, said roles would be available in areas such as human resources, finance, marketing and airport operations.“Due to our fast-paced growth around the world, an increasing number of these positions are based outside the UAE and provide a unique opportunity for Emiratis to gain international exposure, broaden their skills and experience, and accelerate their careers upon repatriation.“These developments are essential for Etihad Airways and support our long-term Emiratisation strategy. UAE nationals are now the number one nationality group at our manager level and we remain on target to significantly increase our Emirati representation year-on-year.”last_img read more

Hawaiian Airlines airport operations lowering fuel use Carbon Emissi

first_imgHawaiian Airlines’ airport operations lowering fuel use, Carbon EmissionsHawaiian Airlines’ airport operations lowering fuel use, Carbon EmissionsHawaiian Airlines this month achieved a key milestone in its ongoing effort to reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions when it powered all wide-body aircraft arriving at airports in a single day with electrical power at the gate. The carrier’s initiative to connect parked aircraft to more efficient external electricity is significantly reducing pilots’ use of the onboard auxiliary power unit, or APU, which burns jet fuel to keep lights, avionics systems, air conditioning and other equipment on.The work has the potential to reduce Hawaiian’s APU usage by an estimated 30 minutes per flight, saving some 620,000 gallons of fuel annually and cutting CO2 emissions by 5,933 metric tons. That’s roughly enough fuel to fly the carrier’s wide-body fleet for a day, while the carbon reductions equate to removing 1,253 cars off the streets.In the past year, Hawaiian made headway toward an ambitious goal of having gate power available to its entire wide-body fleet within three minutes of arrival as aircraft fly between Hawaii, 11 U.S. gateway cities and 10 international destinations. Line service and ground crews have met the carrier’s goal on 92 percent of flights on average. But on April 12, in what is internally being celebrated as “100 Percent Day,” employees reached a milestone when 47 wide-body flights received external power as aircraft arrived at airports from Auckland to New York.“It’s very much like a carefully choreographed dance requiring great timing and the tight coordination of everyone involved in bringing our airplanes to the gate once they’ve landed,” said Jon Snook, Hawaiian’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Our teams must ensure the availability of working external power at the gate, monitor minute-by-minute the estimated arrival time of the aircraft, and ensure all personnel are in place and ready to receive the aircraft.”Hawaiian already provides external gate power to its narrow-body fleet that average 170 daily flights between the neighbor islands. The airline also owns portable power units that can be deployed in the event jetbridge electricity is unavailable or malfunctioning.Hawaiian’s success in reducing APU usage aligns with the carrier’s ongoing commitment to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.Hawaiian, which operates one of the youngest fleet in the U.S. industry, is investing in fuel efficient aircraft by adding 18 new A321neos starting later this year. Last year, the airlineconducted two demonstration flights to Honolulu from Brisbane and Auckland using a series of gate-to-gate environmental best practices outlined by the Asia and Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions, or ASPIRE.Most recently, Hawaiian became the first U.S. carrier to join an international scientific monitoring project that enlists commercial airlines to research climate change and air quality worldwide. Hawaiian partnered with the In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System (IAGOS) venture by equipping one Airbus A330-200 aircraft with an atmospheric monitoring tool that will collect valuable data throughout the airline’s far-reaching network covering the Pacific, Asia and North America.Source = Hawaiian Airlineslast_img read more

Asaya debuts at Rosewood Phuket to launch the brand

first_imgSource = Rosewood Phuket Asaya debuts at Rosewood Phuket to launch the brandAsaya debuts at Rosewood Phuket to launch the brandRosewood Phuket opened November 20, 2017, marking the global launch of Asaya, the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts® integrated wellness concept that is firmly rooted in the belief in self-acceptance and self-discovery. As one of the world’s foremost destinations for wellness-conscious travelers, Thailand is an ideal fit for the first Asaya, with the country’s culture of mindfulness, practice of ancient massage techniques, and exotic surroundings that imbue visitors with a serene mindset conducive to embracing a personal wellness journey.Guided by Rosewood’s A Sense of Place® philosophy, the locally inspired, culturally authentic experiences at Asaya revolve around specific individual wellness goals, supported by alternative therapies and rituals, enriching fitness and lifestyle activities, healthy eating plans, a dedication to pure, authentic ingredients and specially designed spaces for relaxation and reflection.“With an intense focus on offering truly personalized wellness, Asaya guests experience a hands-on, carefully curated and intuitively guided experience that unlocks unlimited possibilities to achieve their specific goals,” says Niamh O’Connell, Rosewood’s group vice president, guest experience and wellness. “These teachings will enable them to continue their commitment to wellness long after they leave.”Alternative therapies at Asaya offer meaningful levels of well-being and direct exposure to authentic treatments that have been practiced for centuries throughout the world. The local Chinese-Thai heritage is reflected in Chi Nei Tsang therapy, a synergy of Chinese and Thai massage and meditation techniques to guide the healing energy flow, or qi, throughout the system. Watsu therapy, Reiki healing, Life Force therapy and Chakra Balancing sound therapy help guests achieve balanced energy that is vital to maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.Combining personal wellness with fitness and nutrition, six customizable one to 14-day wellness retreats are designed to promote “mindful eating,” “ideal balance,” “healthy sleep,” “inner peace,” “meditation and yoga immersion” and a “life energized” to help guests re-engage with any loss of synergy and balance in their life.The guest’s bespoke experience begins by collaborating with the resident wellness practitioner, Steve Harvey, to curate individual treatments or create a personalized program.  Steve is a holistic healer, life and relationship coach and advanced bodyworker who has established a worldwide reputation, having treated some of the most recognizable names in Hollywood, world champion athletes and high-performing executives.“Today’s wellness-conscious guests are looking for more than a traditional spa and want to explore deeper realms of holistic well-being for the body, mind, and spirit,” says Steve.  “We strive to help guests achieve a more profound self-understanding so that they can more easily embrace self-acceptance and in turn be guided on their own path to true wellness.”Asaya is set within charming herb and indigenous foliage gardens that offer guests a sensory experience, transitioning from the sweet fragrances of jasmine and gardenia at first to refreshing and energizing lemongrass and Thai mint scents further into the grounds.Central to the guest experience at Asaya is the Wellness Atelier.  Here, the garden’s red and sweet basil, kaffir lime, lemon balm, murraya koenigii (Thai curry leaf) and pandanus ingredients are crushed and blended into individual recipes for use in customized scrubs, wraps, masks and herbal compresses. Guests can choose to hand-select their medicinal herbs and help prepare these mixtures.  The fresh Thai healing herbs are also incorporated into powerful aromatic oils that are used in Asaya Atelier Body Path rituals of therapeutic massages that encourage deep relaxation, energy, mental clarity, relaxation, detox or muscle release, and are also applied in traditional Thai, deep tissue and foot massages.Guests experience a seamless flow throughout Asaya’s tranquil indoor and outdoor spaces, including several open-air areas for relaxation before and after treatments or for energy rebalancing at a daily Tibetan singing bowls ritual.  Each of five double treatment suites features an outdoor relaxation area with rain shower and deep soaking tub.In addition, the Signature Asaya Villa is an ideal setting for couples or small groups of friends to heighten their emotional connection and includes a spacious double treatment room, Watsu pool, Himalayan salt sauna with steam shower, oversized day bed, outdoor private Yoga Sala, and al fresco soaking tub and rain shower. Guests can enjoy a tailored selection of drinks and indigenous light bites to complement their wellness journey.A variety of fitness and lifestyle experiences led by experienced teachers and trainers fuel the desire to lead a healthy and conscious life, including yoga, meditation, mat pilates in the tranquil beachfront gardens and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on the secluded shore by Emerald Bay.Asaya’s three carefully selected skincare partners created signature products and rituals that provide guests with the highest standards and long lasting results. To reflect the sustainability and conservation focus of Rosewood Phuket, “Asaya Body” rituals utilize scrubs, oils, serums and masks by the luxurious French brand Maison Caulières, whose ingredients are harvested from family-run, self-sufficient farms in existence for the past 300 years.  “Asaya Face” rituals fuse Japanese and French anti-aging skin care philosophies with a range of EviDenS de Beauté beauty products that promote radiantly youthful complexions. “Asaya Man” takes care of the modern gentleman with a range of grooming rituals using luxury skin care products by Hommage.About Rosewood Phuket  The 71-room Rosewood Phuket is situated along a 600-meter secluded beachfront at Emerald Bay, and marks the first Southeast Asia resort for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts®. Four dining choices include authentic Thai dishes at Ta Khai, Italian cuisine at Red Sauce, simply prepared seafood at The Shack and a chic poolside lounge ambiance at Mai. The first Asaya, Rosewood’s holistic wellness concept, debuts at the resort, featuring bespoke programs of alternative therapies, lifestyle coaching, fitness activities and specialized healing treatments. Recreation options include a fitness center, Rosewood Explorers children’s facility and beachside infinity pool. The Pavilion residential-style wedding and events space incorporates the 243-square-meter Glass House, Courtyard, Garden and Beach Lawn.For more information: rosewoodhotels.com/phuketConnect with us: Facebook and Instagram @rosewoodphuketAbout Rosewood Hotels & Resorts®:Rosewood Hotels & Resorts® manages 21 one-of-a-kind luxury properties in 12 countries, with 17 new hotels under development.  Each Rosewood hotel embraces the brand’s A Sense of Place® philosophy to reflect the individual location’s history, culture and sensibilities.  The Rosewood collection includes some of the world’s most legendary hotels and resorts, including The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel in New York, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel in Paris, as well as new classics such as Rosewood Beijing.For more information:  rosewoodhotels.comConnect with us:  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram @rosewoodhotelslast_img read more

FICCI launches Travel Tech Launch Pad

first_imgThe Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerceand Industry (FICCI), as part of its mandate to further enhance India’s digital drive in the travel and tourism industry has launched its maiden initiative aimed at travel start-ups.‘Travel Tech Launch Pad’ will be a platform which is to encourage innovation and growth of travel startups during the second edition of FICCI’s flagship event titled ‘Digital Travel, Hospitality and Innovation Summit’ scheduled to be held on March 22-23, 2017 in New Delhi. Travel start-ups will be offered an opportunity by the Summit to learn from experts in the field of travel, exhibit their business ideas, and display their products & services besides providing a unique opportunity to connect with a right set of ecosystem partners.There is a tremendous potential for travel & tourism which is essential for the future of India’s travel sector. The Indian travel & tourism industry has been growing steadily and needs to be explored with new innovations. The sector’s direct contribution to GDP is expected to grow by 7.2% per annum during 2015–25, as per IBEF. The tourism sector has witnessed investments worth $42.9 billion in 2015 and is expected to attract $132.9 billion by 2025.Travel Tech Launch Pad 2017 is being organised by FICCI in association with Agnitio Consulting LLP, Nucleus Partners, TravHQ Media and Charson Advisory. “FICCI is launching the Travel Tech Launch Pad with an objective to encourage entrepreneurship and technology innovation in the field of Travel & Hospitality,” said Rahul Chakravarty, Director and Head – Tourism, FICCI.last_img read more

Las Vegas Man Convicted in 8M Mortgage Fraud Case

first_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Fraud Processing Service Providers 2012-10-16 Tory Barringer October 16, 2012 422 Views Las Vegas Man Convicted in $8M Mortgage Fraud Case The “”_Las Vegas Review-Journal_””:http://www.lvrj.com/news/home-builder-convicted-in-8-million-scheme-173973671.html reported that a federal jury convicted a Las Vegas homebuilder in an $8 million mortgage fraud scheme.[IMAGE]According to the report, Paul Wagner, a homebuilder in the area for 20 years, was found guilty of conspiracy and fraud charges for selling houses at inflated prices in an attempt to defraud lenders.[COLUMN_BREAK]From around 2007 to 2009, Wagner provided large cash incentives to buyers, real estate agents, and others in order to sell his homes, prosecutors alleged. To pay for those incentives, prosecutors said he inflated the homes’ values through false appraisals. He fraudulently sold 78 homes that way, the _Review-Journal_ reported.””Over 140 persons have been convicted of mortgage fraud offenses in Nevada since 2008,”” Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said in a statement after the verdict was announced. “”Most of these persons are now serving time in federal prison. Mr. Wagner is the first homebuilder to be prosecuted and convicted.””According to the _Review-Journal_, Wagner tried to flee the courtroom before marshals could take him into custody. He was caught stumbling as he tried to jump over seats.center_img Share in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicinglast_img read more

IndiSoft Enhances RealTime Compliance Capabilities for RxOffice

first_imgIndiSoft Enhances Real-Time Compliance Capabilities for RxOffice Share November 13, 2012 443 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technologycenter_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Compliance Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-11-13 Tory Barringer Over in Maryland, RxOffice Compliance developer “”IndiSoft””:https://www.indisoft.us/ announced a partnership with the law firm of “”K&L Gates””:http://www.klgates.com/ to keep on top of regulatory changes that may affect platform users.[IMAGE][COLUMN_BREAK]RxOffice Compliance is one of IndiSoft’s wide range of software solutions for the financial services industry. The platform enables quality control, auditing, and underwriting personnel to maintain a secure, centralized rules library housed in a common spreadsheet format. In addition, it supports collaborative workflow across a variety of users, including risk management personnel and outside counsel, giving lenders the ability to rapidly adjust business processes as rules change.IndiSoft CEO Sanjeev Dahiwadkar said the partnership will better help the company assist its clients as they adapt to a “”constantly changing regulatory landscape.””””By subscribing to K&L’s standard regulatory update service, we aim to help our clients by alerting them to changes so they may take necessary steps to ensure they are compliant with current and future generations,”” Dahiwadkar said. “”Our clients are encouraged to work directly with the service providers to manage their individual needs.””last_img read more

Rate Rise Brings Mortgage Apps Down

first_imgRate Rise Brings Mortgage Apps Down March 12, 2014 463 Views Share An uptick in interest rates brought early March mortgage applications down, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported.MBA’s Market Composite Index, a weekly released measure of mortgage loan application volume, fell 2.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending March 7. On an unadjusted basis, the index dropped 1 percent.Refinance applications were down 3 percent week-over-week, representing about 57 percent of total applications—the lowest share since April 2011, according to MBA.In purchase loan activity, applications fell 1 percent (both adjusted and unadjusted) on a weekly basis. Compared to last year, purchase loan applications were down 17 percent.Meanwhile, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate loan rose to 4.52 percent, with points coming up to 0.29 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value mortgages.center_img in Daily Dose, Headlines, News, Origination Mortgage Applications Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Rates Purchase Loans Refinance 2014-03-12 Tory Barringerlast_img read more

Veteran Spouses in Same Sex Marriages to Receive Home Loan Benefits

first_img Department of Veterans Affairs Same Sex Marriage U.S. Supreme Court VA Benefits 2015-06-30 Staff Writer in Daily Dose, Government, News, Origination Following the lead of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalizing same sex marriage nationwide, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently announced that it will offer home loans and other benefits to the spouses and children in all same sex veteran marriages.“VA may recognize the same-sex marriage of all Veterans, where the Veteran or the Veteran’s spouse resided anywhere in the United States or its territories at the time of the marriage or at the time of application for benefits,” the VA told MReport.The U.S. Supreme Court announced on June 26, 2015 in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.Susan Sommers, director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal told USA Today reporter Gregg Zoroya that that the VA’s new policy will offer thousands of veterans in same sex marriages VA guaranteed home loans, survivor benefits, and burial rights.”I’m very relieved by this news,” Sommers said in her interview, adding that veterans in same-sex marriages “shouldn’t be without the same protections that other people in the military can count on for themselves and their families once their service is over.”Sommers pointed out in her USA Today interview that one of the most obvious examples of a denied benefit occurred with VA guaranteed home-loans. Same-sex couples that were looking to get a VA loan to purchase a home in a state where their marriage was illegal were not eligible as a couple for the benefit.Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association told The Hill reporter Kristina Wong that she is excited to see the new changes that the VA is implementing with same sex veteran spouses and children.“We are thrilled the VA is acting so quickly to implement the Supreme Court’s ruling and are ready to do right by all our nation’s veterans,” Broadway-Mack told the Hill. “These are important benefits our nation’s veterans have earned and it was unconscionable that some were denied based solely on where they lived.”The VA is also working diligently to provide same sex couples with veteran benefits and making sure that all VA office are in compliance with the new rules.“VA will work quickly to ensure that all offices and employees are provided guidance on implementing this important decision with respect to all programs, statutes, and regulations administered by VA,” the VA told MReport.  “Until this guidance has been issued, VA will temporarily wait to adjudicate all claims regarding same-sex marriage that cannot be immediately granted based on prior guidance.” Sharecenter_img June 30, 2015 455 Views Veteran Spouses in Same Sex Marriages to Receive Home Loan Benefitslast_img read more

Warren Bill Aims to Hold Wall Street Investors Accountable

first_img 2008 Financial Crisis Derivatives Trading Elizabeth Warren Wall Street 2016-07-04 Seth Welborn July 4, 2016 624 Views Share U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), whose continued fights for tough Wall Street reform may prevent her from being chosen as the vice president on Hillary Clinton’s ticket, is trying to make sure that big financial firms and not taxpayers are on the hook for losses that occur from risky derivative trading.Warren along with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), and U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), Ranking Member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, have introduced the Derivatives Oversight and Taxpayer Protection Act in order to strengthen federal oversight of the derivatives market, which totals in the multi-trillions. Derivatives were reported by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to be the center of the storm in the financial crisis.“The only way to make sure that derivatives can never lead to a financial crisis and taxpayer bailouts again is to put in place clearer rules and stronger oversight,” Warren said. “Otherwise, big financial firms will be able to rake in billions when things go well, then come back to taxpayers with their hands out when things come crashing down.”According to an announcement on Warren’s website, a lack of federal oversight of the derivatives market allowed firms to build up massive levels of leverage and risk, which resulted in billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts and precipitated the crisis in 2008.“Reckless derivatives trading at AIG helped precipitate the global financial crisis of 2008 and usher in the Great Recession. That is why Congress required stricter capital, margin, and clearing requirements for derivatives activities in Dodd-Frank. This bill builds on our financial reform efforts by improving transparency, closing gaps in regulatory oversight, and giving CFTC resources adequate to accomplish these goals,” said Warner, who is the Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance & Investment.Derivatives trading has also hurt the housing market in the last year, leading to Freddie Mac taking a loss of at least $350 million in two of the last three quarters.The Warren/Warner/Cummings bill would strengthen federal oversight of the derivatives market by authorizing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to collect user fees from financial firms, similar to what the SEC does, and imposing tougher penalties on those who break the rules. The bill also aims to close loopholes for firms that are looking to go around the CFTC rules, and it creates an incentive for private parties to better assess the risk of derivatives contracts by ending special treatment for derivatives in bankruptcy.center_img Warren Bill Aims to Hold Wall Street Investors Accountable in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, Newslast_img read more

It Looks at Lot Like 2008 for New Home Sales

first_img in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News July 26, 2016 701 Views Census Bureau HUD New Home Sales 2016-07-26 Seth Welborn It Looks at Lot Like 2008 for New Home Salescenter_img Share Sales of newly constructed homes took a sharp upturn in June, making the month the best for new home sales since the eve of the housing crash.New statistics from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau showed sales of new single-family houses in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 592,000. This is 3.5 percent above the revised May rate of 572,000 and is 25.4 percent above the estimate of 472,000 from June 2015.This, said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia, was the best monthly performance since February 2008.“This is a continued sign that demand for homes remains solid and aptly reflects increasing homebuilder confidence,” McLaughlin said. “The share of all home sales composed of new homes ticked upward to 10.6 percent in June, as new home sales continue to slowly ease the crunch of low existing inventory.”According to the HUD/Census report, the median sales price of new houses sold in June 2016 was $306,700; the average sales price was $358,200. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of June was 244,000. This represents a supply of 4.9 months at the current sales rate.Robert Denk, assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis at the National Association of Homebuilders, stated that “ongoing gains in the labor market and a favorable interest rate environment should continue to stoke demand for new homes.” However, he added, “NAHB members continue to report challenges meeting the expanding demand because of shortages of developed lots and skilled labor.”Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said of June’s new home sales report, “Although the key observations for June are statistically insignificant, the year-to-date trend is clearly positive: Actual new homes sold reported so far this year are up 11 percent over the first half of 2015. Plus the increase in the seasonally adjusted annualized rate of new home sales beat analyst expectations. At the June pace of new home sales, the market is up 25 percent over last year, when mortgage rates were rising.”At the same time, Smoke cautioned that “we unfortunately aren’t seeing signs that builders are expanding offerings of more affordably priced homes. . .There were an estimated 54,000 new home contracts signed in June—the month’s highest volume since June 2007, when there was a surplus of houses for sale. The key difference between then and now is that 40 percent of the new homes sold in 2007 were already built when they were purchased. This June, only 31 percent of new homes sold were completed, indicating that builders are being more conservative. At this point in time, in order to see a substantial gain in sales of new homes, builders need to find a way to build affordable houses that will appeal to first-time buyers.”last_img read more

Invitation Homes Appoints New Chief Revenue Officer

first_img Share August 4, 2016 721 Views G. Irwin GordonSingle-family rental homes provider Invitation Homes has appointed G. Irwin Gordon as EVP and Chief Revenue Officer, according to an announcement from the company.Gordon joined Invitation Homes earlier this year as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer. As the company’s Chief Revenue Officer, Gordon will be charged with developing and executing partnership and programs that expand the company’s service offering, drive revenue growth, and add value to Invitation Homes residents’ customer experience. His responsibilities include marketing strategy and execution, customer call center operations, lease administration, and public relations and communications.“We are pleased that Irwin has formally joined Invitation Homes as our Chief Revenue Officer.  His proven ability to turn consumer facing ideas into concrete actions is unique in our sector,” said Invitation Homes CEO John Bartling.  “Irwin has both the executive management and marketing expertise to further differentiate our brand, product offering, and the design and implementation of programs that will help ensure our residents have ‘frustration-free’ experiences in our houses, their homes.  By driving these customer-focused strategies through our organization, we will continue to build on our preeminent leadership role in the single family rental industry.”Gordon has more than 30 years of experience as either a CEO or leading marketing efforts for various companies. He founded the Trion Group, a provider of marketing and strategic management consulting services, prior to joining Invitation Homes. His previous positions include serving as president and CEO of Gruma Corporation, a leader in corn and flour tortilla products under the Mission Foods brand; president and COO of Suiza Foods (now Dean Foods), and also as chief marketing officer at the company; president and general manager of several international Frito-Lay companies; SVP of marketing, Sales, and technology for Frito-Lay; and various roles with the Kellogg Company. Gordon currently serves as an independent director of Heska Corporation.Invitation Homes, based in Dallas, Texas, serves nearly 120,000 residents in 14 markets nationwide with a portfolio of approximately 50,000 single-family homes. Invitation Homes Single Family Rental Market 2016-08-04 Seth Welborncenter_img Invitation Homes Appoints New Chief Revenue Officer in Headlines, Newslast_img read more

Freddie Mac No Encore for Housing in 2017

first_imgFreddie Mac: No Encore for Housing in 2017 in Daily Dose, News, Origination The year 2016 was the best for housing since before the crash by nearly any measure—existing-home sales at their highest level in nine years, increased refinance and purchase activity due to near-record low interest rates for much of the year, and foreclosure and default rates at their lowest levels since before the recession.Unfortunately, according to Freddie Mac, housing is not likely to repeat its stellar year in 2017, primarily due to the Fed raising the federal funds target rate in December—and the prospect of two or three more rate hikes in 2017.“Over the next two years we anticipate the economy will keep growing at a modest pace, inflation will pick up and the labor market will stay at full employment,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti said. “Interest rates will gradually rise as the Federal Reserve continues on its path of policy normalization. Housing markets will slow a bit in 2017, but they will recover after they absorb the initial shock of higher interest rates.”Freddie Mac is forecasting $1 trillion in refinance originations for the full year of 2016, the highest amount in four years. Cash out refi volume was up by $10 billion for the first three quarters of 2016 compared to 2015 ($42 billion compared to $32 billion). However, Freddie Mac is predicting that the higher interest rates will take their toll on refi volume over the next two years as the refinance share of originations is expected to fall to 28 percent in 2017 and 20 percent in 2018.Increased purchase originations will likely offset some of the decline in refinances, but Freddie Mac is expecting overall origination volume to drop by one-quarter in 2017 compared to 2016.“Mortgage origination activity will slow significantly in 2017 as refinance activity withers,” Becketti said. “In 2018, mortgage origination activity will increase slightly, but the composition will shift to a purchase-dominated market—unlike any mix we have seen since the 1990s.”Buyers will still be facing affordability challenges over the next two years, according to Freddie Mac, because even though the pace of home price appreciation is expected to slow down (from 5.9 percent in 2016, to 4.7 percent in 2017, to 3.8 percent in 2018), wage growth is still not expected to keep pace with home price growth.Becketti noted that the rising mortgage interest rates could potentially stop housing’s momentum it gained in 2016, “But the fundamentals favor improvement in housing markets. Population and income growth should support housing demand going forward. We anticipate that, after housing absorbs the shock of higher interest rates over time, it resumes on its upward path, and 2018 ends up being a strong year for housing markets despite forecasted increases in mortgage rates.” December 21, 2016 862 Views center_img Share Freddie Mac mortgage originations Purchase Loans Refinances 2016-12-21 Seth Welbornlast_img read more

Half of Buyers Surprised at the Closing Table

first_img Buying a home is stressful enough, but arriving at the closing and learning of unexpected costs can add to the stress. A new survey reveals that 50 percent of homebuyers are surprised at the amount of closing costs when they go to sign closing papers.The survey, conducted by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research, on behalf of ClosingCorp, showed that 17 percent of all homebuyers were surprised that costs or fees were even required, and 35 percent were surprised that their costs or fees were higher than expected. However, 31 percent of homebuyers were not surprised at all about their closing costs because their loan estimates and closing fees matched.The top five closing costs that most surprised homebuyers were: (1) mortgage insurance (24 percent), (2) bank fee/points (23 percent), (3) taxes (22 percent), (4) title insurance (21 percent), and (5) appraisal fees (20 percent) and fees paid by the buyer vs. seller (20 percent).The most common reason for discrepancies in closing estimates was that some of the amounts had been changed or revised prior to closing. This reason was given by 58 percent of the surveyed homebuyers and seemed to occur in 63 percent of homes priced between $500,000 and $1 million.According to other homebuyers, the most common reasons for the changes in the closing costs were: (1) a change to the loan based on what they qualified for (31 percent), (2) the lender’s estimate was not accurate (27 percent), and (3) there was a change to the loan based on their request (23 percent).When asked which fee estimates were changed, the top three answers were: (1) closing costs (12 percent), (2) insurance costs (6 percent), and (3) taxes (5 percent).Interestingly, 72 percent of homeowners said their loan estimates and closing disclosures were delivered electronically. The vast majority of these homeowners fell into the Millennial age range of 18-34 years of age.“As more and more millennials become first-time homebuyers, TRID or Know Before You Owe has made it easier for them to understand the costs and fees they’ll face at closing. Yet there are still surprises during the closing process,” said Bob Jennings, CEO of ClosingCorp. “Lenders and Realtors need to keep educating borrowers on the costs and fees associated with closing to alleviate surprises.”Another fact revealed by the survey was that half of all homebuyers (50 percent) selected their own title company. Of those who did not select their title company, 35 percent said their Realtor selected it for them, suggesting that Realtors have great influence since they are the homebuyer’s first point of contact when searching for a home.The purpose of the survey was to explore whether the year-old TRID rule has helped consumers better understand the closing costs associated with purchasing a home. Respondents in the survey included first-time and repeat homebuyers who had purchased a home between January 1, 2016, and January 1, 2017. in Daily Dose, Featured, Origination Share closing cost Homebuyer loan mortgage 2017-02-17 Rachel Williamscenter_img February 17, 2017 534 Views Half of Buyers Surprised at the Closing Tablelast_img read more

Guatemalan mango exports to US get underway in

first_img Guatemalan mango exports to U.S. get underway in … California-based Limoneira Company (Nasdaq: LMNR) is set to acquire Chilean citrus company Fruticola San Pablo for US$13 million, continuing its rapid global expansion.Limoneira has entered into an agreement in the form of a binding memorandum of understanding to purchase the La Serena-based company’s ranch and related assets.The San Pablo ranch consists of 3,317 total acres on two parcels, including 247 acres producing lemons, 61 acres producing oranges, the opportunity to immediately plant 120 acres for lemon production, as well as the potential for approximately 500 acres of avocado production.San Pablo’s results of operations will be included in Limoneira’s consolidated results of operations from the date of closing, according to a release.Limoneira says it expects to invest an additional US$2.8 million in fiscal 2018 and 2019 for new citrus plantings and enhanced water infrastructure to expand citrus production to 650,000 cartons of lemons and 85,000 cartons of oranges annually upon maturity of the ranch at peak production.San Pablo’s proximity to Limoneira’s existing Pan de Azucar (PDA) ranch in a coastal region near La Serena, Chile, is advantageous given PDA’s ownership in the Rosales packing business. By adding San Pablo to the PDA assets and Rosales packing business, Limoneira says it will improve efficiencies and overall Chilean margins. Rosales will pack and sell all of the company’s citrus production in the region under Limoneira’s marketing team.”The addition of the San Pablo ranch to our growing global presence is consistent with our long-term strategy to dramatically expand our agribusiness internationally as a global, year round supplier of citrus,” president and CEO Harold Edwards said.We have a very strong pipeline of potential acquisitions around the world, including the United States, and believe we are very well positioned to capitalize on this tremendous long-term growth opportunity.”Alex Teague, senior vice president, said: “This acquisition enables us to utilize our existing packing operation in Chile to improve margins for San Pablo’s current and future production.”In addition, we will immediately begin planting additional acreage for increased lemon production. We have known the management team at San Pablo for many years and are very excited to leverage our current assets to expand production and distribution within Chile and throughout the world.”In February, Limoneira acquired the majority of another Chilean citrus producer in La Serena, Pan de Azucar (PDA) for US$5.8 million, which is located near to the San Pablo farm.www.freshfruitportal.com June 20 , 2018 Clementines in Charts: It’s almost ClemenTime for … center_img You might also be interested in Chile expecting U.S. to lift blueberry fumigation … Blueberries in Charts: Finding opportunities in th …last_img read more