BURNABY, British Columbia (AP) – A Canadian National Rail spokeswoman says heavy rainfall led to a coal train derailment in British Columbia.Emily Hamer said Sunday that a downpour caused a beaver dam to wash out, spilling large amounts of water onto the tracks, causing the train to jump the tracks in Burnaby on Saturday. No injuries were reported.Hamer says seven cars went off the rails _ three of them were lying on their sides while four remained upright. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments Share Top Stories How do cataracts affect your vision? Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Coal spilled into a nearby creek that feeds into Burnaby Lake, but Hamer could not say how much.The train is owned by Canadian Pacific Rail, but the tracks and the crew are from Canadian National Rail.Hamer says CN Rail is leading the cleanup and that the tracks should be operational by Sunday afternoon.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of
Top Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system Comments Share 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Boko Haram once again attacked the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Tuesday, waking residents with deafening explosions in the early hours of the morning and then a suicide bombing that witnesses said killed as many as 20 people.The extremist group which seeks to impose Islamic law across northern Nigeria has repeatedly attacked Maiduguri, the largest city in the northeast, since the newly elected president has designated it as the new headquarters in the war to curb the Islamic uprising. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober There was no explanation for his absence. Nigeria’s military has claimed many times to have killed Shekau — only to have him later resurface.In Tuesday’s video, an armed fighter said Boko Haram still holds several northeastern towns and has thousands of fighters — claims impossible to substantiate.The video gloats over alleged disunity in the multinational force that in March announced it had driven Boko Haram from all towns and villages. Nigerian neighbors Chad and Niger have said the fight against Boko Haram would be long over if they had better cooperation from Nigeria.President Muhammadu Buhari is traveling to Chad and Niger on Wednesday on his first official trip outside Nigeria, spokesman Garba Shehu said.The chief of naval staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibril, said the military chiefs briefed Buhari on the security situation, especially the fight against Boko Haram, and received a presidential directive to move the military headquarters for the fight against the insurgents to Maiduguri.The uprising has killed some 13,000 people and driven 1.5 million from their homes.___Faul reported from Lagos, Nigeria. Associated Press writer Bashir Adigun contributed to this report from Abuja, Nigeria. Quick workouts for men Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. “We are under siege,” Sumaila Ayuba, her voice shaking, told The Associated Press by telephone just after midnight from her home on the city’s western flank after her sleep was shattered by the explosions. “The shooting is quite deafening. Please, we need prayers.”Hours later, a man blew himself up at Gamboru cattle market, the site of previous bombings, officials said. One witness said he counted at least 20 bodies. The National Emergency Management Agency said 10 people were killed and many others injured. The witness spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.Some onlookers began stoning the agency’s rescue workers, for unknown reasons. Soldiers fired into the air to disperse the crowd.Over the weekend, more than 30 people died in another Boko Haram assault involving another suicide bombing and rocket-propelled grenades.Also Tuesday, Boko Haram released a new video that allegedly shows militants shooting wounded Nigerian soldiers in the head and beheading a man in civilian clothes as well as charred parts claimed to be the remnants of a downed Nigerian jet fighter.The video, the first released since it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, has no sign of longtime leader Abubakar Shekau, previously a mainstay of the group’s videos.
BRUSSELS (AP) — The prime minister of China, the European Union’s No. 2 trading partner, called Monday on Greece and its creditors to reach a last-minute deal that will allow Greece to remain in the eurozone.“Whether Greece stays within the euro is not only a question that concerns Europe, but also concerns China and Europe,” Li Keqiang told reporters at the end of an EU-China summit meeting in Brussels. “In addition, this is also something that concerns world financial stability and economic recovery.” Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments Share Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Men’s health affects baby’s health too Li noted his country is a major customer and supplier for the 28-nation EU, and a long-term holder of eurobonds. He said China is in favor of a united and prosperous EU, as well as a strong euro.“That is why China wants to see Greece stay in the euro, stay in the eurozone, and we urge relevant creditors to reach an agreement with the Greek government at an early time,” the Chinese premier said.Li’s visit marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of official ties between China and the EU. According to EU officials, China is the bloc’s second most important trading partner behind the United States, accounting in 2014 for 14 percent of its total trade in goods outside the EU, compared to 9 percent in 2004.One of Li’s hosts, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said two-way trade now surpasses 1 billion euros (dollars) a day, but added in a speech that “we have to do better to interconnect.”One area where China and the EU haven’t seen eye to eye is restrictions on carbon emissions. Li told reporters China is making “strenuous efforts” and will inform U.N. officials by Tuesday of its proposed national contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in preparation for the international conference on climate change to be held in Paris this November and December. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall In a joint statement, the EU and China pledged to work toward a “legally binding agreement” in Paris that would apply to all countries.The statement borrowed language from a U.S.-China announcement last year on the sensitive issue of how to divide emissions cuts among countries in various stages of development, saying the deal should reflect “different national circumstances.” Many observers say that wording suggests developing countries should take on growing commitments as they evolve.The EU and China pledged to step up their cooperation on climate research and carbon markets, which provide financial incentives to reduce carbon emissions.The EU launched its Emissions Trading System in 2005 and China has created regional carbon markets, with the ambition of creating a nationwide system.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Top Stories
How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation The number of IS fighters in Iraq and Syria is estimated between 30,000 to 60,000, according to the Iraqi officers. Former officers from the military of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein have helped the group organize its fighters. Veteran jihadis with combat experience in Afghanistan, Chechnya or Somalia have brought valuable experience.Foreigners who join IS often end up as suicide bombers. “People go to the Islamic State looking to die, and the Islamic State is happy to help them,” said Patrick Skinner, a former CIA officer now with The Soufan Group, a private geopolitical risk assessment company.The group’s tactics carried it to a sweep of northern and western Iraq a year ago, capturing Mosul, Iraq’s second-biggest city. Shortly thereafter, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a “caliphate” spanning its territory in Iraq and Syria.In May, it captured Ramadi, capital of Iraq’s vast western Anbar province. In Syria, it seized the central city of Palmyra.The elite shock troops were crucial in capturing Ramadi. First came a wave of more than a dozen suicide bombings that hammered the military’s positions, then the fighters moved in during a sandstorm. Iraqi troops crumbled and fled as a larger IS force marched in. “They cause chaos and then their main ground offensive begins,” said Redur Khalil, spokesman for the U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which have led a string of military successes against the IS in Syria.Though best known for its horrific brutalities, the Islamic State group has proved to be a highly organized and flexible fighting force, according to senior Iraqi military and intelligence officials and Syrian Kurdish commanders on the front lines.Its tactics are often creative, whether it’s using a sandstorm as cover for an assault or a lone sniper tying himself to the top of a palm tree to pick off troops below. Its forces switch between conventional and guerrilla warfare, using the latter to wear down their opponents before massed fighters backed by armored vehicles, Humvees and sometimes even artillery move to take over territory. The fighters incorporate suicide bombings as a battlefield tactic to break through lines and demoralize enemies, and they hone them to make them more effective. Recently, they beefed up armor of the vehicles used in those attacks to prevent gunfire from killing the driver or detonating explosives.Those strategies are being carried into new fronts as well, appearing in Egypt in last week’s dramatic attack by an IS-linked militant group against the military in the Sinai Peninsula. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Andreas Krieg, a professor at King’s College London who embedded with Iraqi Kurdish fighters, said IS local commanders receive overall orders on strategy but are given freedom to operate as they see fit to achieve them. That’s a sharp contrast to the rigid hierarchies of the Iraqi and Syrian militaries, where officers often fear acting without direct approval.IS fighters are highly disciplined — swift execution is the punishment for deserting battle or falling asleep on guard duty, Iraqi officers said. The group also is flush with weaponry looted from Iraqi forces.IS stands out in its ability to conduct multiple battles simultaneously, Iraqi army Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi said.“In the Iraqi army, we can only run one big battle at a time,” said al-Saadi, who was wounded twice in the past year as he led forces that retook the key cities of Beiji and Tikrit.Even the group’s atrocities are in part a tactic to terrorize its enemies. It beheads captured soldiers, releasing videos of the killings online. Stepping up the shock value, recent videos showed caged captives being lowered into a pool to drown and the heads blown off other captives with explosive wire around their necks. Since US-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have hampered the group’s movements, IS has lost ground. Iraqi troops and Shiite militiamen retook some cities, like Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit. In Syria, Kurdish fighters backed by heavy U.S. airstrikes recaptured the border town of Kobani after weeks of devastating battles. More recently, IS lost Tal Abyad, another Syrian border town.Despite that loss, IS shock troops attacked Kobani again last month. Around 70 fighters battled a much larger Kurdish force for two days. They were all slain, but not before killing more than 230 civilians, including roughly 100 children, and more than 30 Kurdish fighters. Around the same time, they also attacked Tal Abyad, where they battled for days until they were killed, and the northeast Syrian city of Hassakeh, where they continue to hold out.“They weren’t planning to leave alive,” Kurdish commander Ghalia Nehme said of the IS fighters in Kobani. “It seems they were longing for heaven.”___Mroue reported from Beirut, Lebanon. AP correspondents Lori Hinnant in Paris and John-Thor Dahlberg in Brussels, Belgium contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories BAGHDAD (AP) — They are the Islamic State group’s elite shock troops. Fanatical and disciplined, they infiltrate cities of Iraq and Syria, unleash mayhem and fight to the death, wearing explosives belts to blow themselves up among their opponents if they face defeat.IS calls them “Inghemasiyoun,” Arabic for “those who immerse themselves,” a sort of special forces unit parallel to its regular forces that is credited with many of the group’s stunning battlefield successes. A recent online video from the group showed a unit preparing to launch an eventually successful attack on the central Syrian town of al-Sukhna. “Victory or martyrdom,” the fighters, wearing blue bandanas, scream in a circle around their commander, pledging their allegiance to God and vowing never to retreat. Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility In this photo released on June 23, 2015 by a website of Islamic State militants, an Islamic State militant looks through the scope of his rifle in Kirkuk, northern Iraq. Though best known for its horrific brutalities _ from its grotesque killings of captives to enslavement of women _ the Islamic State group has proved to be a highly organized and flexible fighting force, according to senior Iraqi military and intelligence officials and Syrian Kurdish commanders on the front lines. (Militant website via AP) Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Mesa family survives lightning strike to home
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Passengers passing through Australian airports will have no choice but to undergo a full body scan or cancel their travel plans under new laws the Federal Parliament hopes to introduce later this week.With scanner installation expected in all international airports across the country from July this year, the Government has pushed for the approval of the proposed Aviation Security Amendment Bill 2012 that will remove the pat down option and make it mandatory for passengers selected to participate to undergo a full body scan, News.com reported.Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said he was sure the public would be understanding and the measure was a necessity to ensure airport safety.”I think the public understands that we live in a world where there are threats to our security and experience shows they want the peace of mind that comes with knowing government is doing all it can,” Mr Albanese said.However, many Australians have expressed concerns that full body scans are an invasion of privacy, stressing that the scanners would resemble the nude security screens put in place in the US last year.Squashing outrage, the Government has stressed that the Australian body scanners have received approval from the Privacy Commission and images would appear as stick figures of neither sex.Images taken will also be discarded immediately after the passenger has been cleared of any threatening objects. Also eliminating any concerns of cancer exposing radiation emitting from the scanners, the Government has assured the public that the radio waves are the same as a regular mobile phone used meters away. The $28 million security overhaul takes places after months of trails at Sydney and Melbourne airports in August and September last year.Passengers exempt from undergoing the scan will be those with serious medical conditions.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Virgin Australia has now plugged in and loaded the first phase trials of its new in-flight entertainment with the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.Announced this week, the iPad alternative has been included on selected Boeing 737 and Embraer E190 aircraft and will run for one week commencing 30 April this year.The airline’s group executive product and guest services Martin Daley said the 16:9 screen product was part of the carrier’s initiatives to enhance guest experience and boost its business travel appeal. Filled with pre-loaded movies as well as television and audio programs, Mr Daley said the Phase One also represented a step closer to Phase Two which includes the May 2012 roll-out of a new leading Wi-Fi system.“This Wi-Fi system will allow guests to stream video and audio directly to their own personal electronic devices, Wi-Fi enabled laptops or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.” he said. “This latest product release, combined with our new Business Class and Economy Class cabin environment, will allow us to offer a first-rate travel experience to guests.”The airline expects full commencement of its new in-flight entertainment to commence from June this year with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 available for guests travelling three hours or more to purchase.In addition to its in-flight equipment, the carrier also announced major enhancements to its facilities at Sydney and Melbourne Domestic Airports. Announced this morning, Virgin said the changes would occur at Termina 2 in both airports and would include new state-of-the-art lounges and upgrades to its pier within the Sydney terminal.Sydney’s waiting area will soon stretch over two levels to provide views of Botany Bay while Melbourne will see a new lounge, valet parking and priority security screenings. Expected to be complete by the end of 2012, the airline’s chief executive John Borghetti said the changes would reinforce the airline’s aim to provide a “seamless first-rate experience”.“The enhancements announced today will enable us to do just that, establishing Sydney as our flagship domestic lounge and offering guests more spacious and comfortable terminal facilities,” Mr Borghetti noted.“The pier expansion will also allow us to provide additional flight frequencies for our guests, with more positions for narrow and wide body aircraft. “In May 2012, we will commence a major refurbishment of the interiors of our Melbourne domestic terminal. “The refresh will include new flooring, seating and washroom facilities and is designed to create more space and bring the Melbourne terminal in line with Virgin Australia’s contemporary look and feel.” Virgin Australia plane
Over the last ten years people from China and India more than tripled their visits to Australia breaking all previous records, according to new travel data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).Asian countries now make up seven of Australia’s top ten source markets for short term visits to our shores.Indonesia, Thailand, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong were among the top ten short-term resident departures for Australians in the last ten years.Qantas’ decision to soften its cooperation with British Airways and restructure its Asia network may have come at an inopportune moment when put up against this new data.Although Qantas played down reports suggesting British Airways may cut Qantas out of current codeshare arrangements, the Australian carrier scrapped its Adelaide to Singapore and Perth to Hong Kong services, while it’s Sydney to Hong Kong flights will be reduced from eleven to seven per week.“China is undoubtedly a key engine room of growth – up 16 percent in 2012, on the back of similar double digit growth in 2011 and 2010,” Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said.“We mustn’t underestimate the importance of these other Asian markets, like India, Malaysia, Singapore and, in time, Vietnam.” What do you make of Qantas’ recent decisions and how does it affect your business? Comments below. Asia dominating Australia’s source markets. Image: AFP Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that American Airlines, FedEx Express and UPS will host the 71st IATA Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit in conjunction with Airlines for America, the trade association for the US airline industry. The event will draw the top leadership from the air transport industry to Miami, Florida from 7 June – 9 June 2015.“Miami is a superb location for IATA’s 71st AGM. This vibrant, multicultural city is well known as a gateway between North America and Latin America. Like aviation itself, Miami is a city that bridges cultures and nations. I am confident the AGM in Miami will be a huge success and an opportunity for air transport industry leaders to share their vision for the future of commercial aviation while drawing lessons from this diverse part of the world,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.This will be the first time that the IATA AGM is held in in Miami and the fifth time it will be hosted in the United States, following AGMs in Washington DC (2003), Honolulu (1971), New York (1955), and San Francisco (1950).“On behalf of the US airline industry, we are pleased to co-host the 71st IATA AGM in Miami with American Airlines, FedEx Express, and UPS. Scheduled commercial aviation was born 100 years ago not far from Miami, and today aviation supports some 5.7 million jobs in the United States and drives $1 trillion in economic activity. Aviation connects the world, and we look forward to welcoming global airline leaders to the United States, the birthplace of flight,” said Nicholas E. Calio, President and CEO of A4A.The 70th Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Doha, Qatar attracted 1,000 participants. This included aviation leaders from among IATA’s 240 member airlines, governments, international organizations, industry stakeholders, IATA strategic partners, and the media.Source = International Air Transport Association
Norwegian Joy Floats Out from Building Dock in GermanyNorwegian Joy, soon to be Norwegian Cruise Line’s first cruise ship custom designed for China, was floated out of MEYER WERFT’s covered building dock II on Saturday, March 4 in Papenburg, Germany, where the 168,800-ton ship has been under construction since September 2015. Beginning early Saturday morning, the 3,850 passenger vessel, with her distinctive hull artwork designed by Chinese artist Tan Ping, departed building dock II. Norwegian Joy is the second ship in the line’s Breakaway Plus Class.Arriving in Summer 2017 with home ports in Shanghai and Beijing (Tianjin), Norwegian Joy will be Norwegian Cruise Line’s first purpose-built ship for the Chinese market and designed to deliver on the promise that guests will enjoy ‘First Class at Sea’ experiences.Norwegian Joy’s float out represents a major milestone in the vessel’s construction. With the ship being well on her way to completion, she will now move into the final phase of construction with delivery taking place on April 27, 2017.“We are thrilled that Norwegian Joy is now one step closer to delivery and one step closer to delivering on our promise to create a First Class at Sea experience for our Chinese guests,” said David J. Herrera, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings China President.From the ship’s beautiful and symbolic hull artwork to her thrilling first-ever racetrack at sea, Norwegian Joy represents Norwegian Cruise Line’s commitment to providing an unparalleled cruise experience for Chinese consumers.Norwegian JoyCurrently being built at Meyer Werft in Germany, Norwegian Joy is Norwegian Cruise Line’s first purpose-built ship customized for China. The name Norwegian Joy emphasizes the experience that the ship will offer, a promise that guests will ‘Experience Paradise on the Sea.’ Accommodating 3,850 guests with luxurious suites in the exclusive ship-within-a-ship complex, the new Breakaway-Plus Class Ship will debut in China in summer 2017.Designed to provide First Class at Sea experiences with onboard amenities that cater to the unique vacation desires of Chinese guests, Norwegian Joy will provide a multitude of VIP accommodations including The Haven by Norwegian®, the line’s exclusive, ship-within-a-ship suite luxury complex, which will also include an all-new Observation Deck that features 180 degree views, and a Concierge level, an all-new accommodations category which will provide a VIP experience and feature larger balcony staterooms. Accommodation offerings will also include staterooms designed specifically for families and a multitude of connecting staterooms, for extended families traveling together, as well as a wide array of mini-suite, balcony, ocean view and interior staterooms, many with virtual balconies.Norwegian Joy will offer engaging and innovative activities including a first at sea two-level competitive racetrack, an open-air laser tag course, thrilling simulator rides and interactive video walls at the Galaxy Pavilion as well as hover craft bumper cars, a state-of-the-art racing simulator and two multi-story waterslides. In addition, Norwegian Joy will house a tranquil open space park as well as the line’s largest upscale shopping district, complete with everything from exceptional duty-free shops to world-renowned global luxury brands.Source = Norwegian Cruise Line
Fiji Airways’ inaugural Adelaide flight takes off todayToday marks the much-anticipated launch of Fiji’s National Airline, Fiji Airways’ new non-stop service between Adelaide, South Australia and the tropical paradise of Fiji.Passengers on the inaugural flight (FJ961) from Fiji will arrive at Adelaide Airport tonight at 2030PM (ACST), with the first flight to Fiji (FJ960) departing at 2200PM (ACST).The new route marks the fourth direct service from Australia and the first new route in this market in 10 years, with the full service airline already flying nonstop from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.“This is an exciting day for Fiji Airways as it marks our expansion and growth in our most significant market, after Fiji. We are thrilled to now have a connection with South Australia, and along with getting more Fijians to experience that wonderful part of Australia – and having easier accessibility to friends and family there – we are looking forward to welcoming more South Australians to our beautiful home,” said Andre Viljoen, CEO & MD of Fiji Airways.Available year round, the new direct service will run twice weekly on Fridays and Mondays, making the timings also convenient for a long weekend away. Flying on the B737-800, the journey time is approximately 5 – 6 hours each way.Mark Young, Adelaide Airport Managing Director, adds: “Fiji has always been a hugely popular destination with South Australian travellers, and Fiji Airways’ new link now makes it even more attractive.“This also creates another one-stop connection with the US West Coast with the added bonus of being able to stopover in beautiful Fiji.“We also understand the new services have been embraced by South Australia’s strong Fijian community, who are excited about the direct link with Nadi bringing them closer to their family and friends.”“The direct services to Nadi from Adelaide mean more Aussies beyond the eastern seaboard will easily be able to experience Fiji, which we’re really excited about,” said Hal Caldwell, Regional Director Australia for Tourism Fiji.“Australia is Fiji’s top tourism market not only for its unique culture and the friendliest population on the planet but also, because it’s so close. It’s the perfect place for Aussies to enjoy an overseas holiday without the burden of jetlag. The Fijian tourism sector is ready and raring to extend a big bula welcome to South Australians,” added Mr Caldwell.Fiji Airways currently flies twice daily from Sydney, daily from Brisbane and five times a week from Melbourne, with onward connections to San Francisco (recently extended to year round), Los Angeles and Honolulu. The airline also codeshares with Qantas for passengers wishing to travel from other Australian capital cities.Specials from Adelaide to Nadi start at AUD$588 return (economy ticket including taxes) and includes checked baggage, meals and refreshments. Book or sign up to Bula Mail at www.fijiairways.com for the latest offers.Source = Fiji Airways
Akansha Pandey | New DelhiThe Scandinavian Tourist Board (comprising Visit Sweden, Norway Tourism, and Visit Denmark) along with 21 suppliers and three tourism boards conducted a three-city “Explore Scandinavia” roadshow covering Delhi, Chennai, and Mumbai. Speaking to Travel News Digest, Mohit Batra, India Representative, Scandinavian Tourist Board, said that the honeymoon travel segment is a low hanging fruit and they are planning to enhance the destination’s awareness in the segment through educating the travel trade and press.“Honeymoon travel hasn’t been tapped much by us. Going forward, we will try to bridge the gap to attract honeymooners from India. The direct flight from Air India now connects in almost 7.5 hours to Scandinavian countries. Easy access will eventually push people to plan their getaways to the serene and pristine locations of Scandinavia. Also, self-drive is another potential travel segment which we aim to highlight in 2018,” added Batra.The Indian arrivals are growing strongly to Norway, highlighted Per Holte, Market Director Tourism-Asia and New Markets, Visit Norway inviting Indians to go for Hurtigruten cruise sailings which happen daily round the year.Flemming Bruhn, Director, Visit Denmark lamented on the hotel capacity constraint in the country and assured that the additional inventory is in the pipeline. He also unveiled five new signature routes exclusively in the Indian market.Though he doesn’t have the exact count of Indian arrivals to some Scandinavian regions, he shared that in 2016 over 300,000 overnights were recorded from India to the region of Scandinavia. This year we are again hopeful of a 10% increase, he commented.Rutth Dolla, Project Manager-India, Visit Sweden shared that so far this year they have witnessed 18% increase as compared to the last year.The top trends from the Indian market this year remained incentive travel and visiting in the winter season. Currently, the average length of stay from the Indian market is 12 nights and the India office is trying to extend it over two weeks. The Scandinavian Tourist Board plans to organise press and trade FAMs in 2018.
A reciprocity agreement was signed between the India Exhibition Industry Association and the South African Association for The Conference Industry at 2nd BRICS MICE Co-operation Forum Meeting in Hyderabad on May 9.Andrew Binning, CEO of Inkanyezi Events who is the South African representative on the forum, and Rudi Vyver, CEO of South African Association for The Conference Industry signed the agreement on behalf of the South Africa MICE sector.Binning was invited to address 800 MICE sector delegates at the International BRICS gathering, hosted by the India Exhibition Industry Association on May 11.The BRICS MICE Co-operation Forum aimed to look at creating strategies which can enhance opportunities for cooperation in the MICE sector. “India has a massive, competitive economy which points to the value and potential of business tourism created by synergistic events and the participation of the Indian business community in South African hosted MICE activities,” stated Binning. He highlighted that the agreement marks off an important beginning of the formal process.Binning said following the first BRICS MICE Co-operation Forum held in China, late last year, the South African representation, led by SAACI, sought to build partnerships and extract real returns from it.Binning presented the new emerging formats of meeting events, conferences and technological advancements that are driving heightened delegate and exhibitor experience value.
12 Mortgage Fraud Cases, Over $12M in Losses Share July 12, 2011 495 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Fraud Processing Top Stories of 2011 2011-07-12 Ryan Schuette Twelve defendants appeared in court around the country this week to answer for charges related to mortgage fraud, conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud, and making false information to financial institutions, among others. The estimated combined losses for lenders and families: some $12.4 million.[IMAGE]Unaccounted-for: the number of delayed dreams, shattered finances, and lives adversely impacted by the crimes, alleged and otherwise.Several news agencies reported the news, with arraignments and indictments moving forward at lower and appellate courts across six states, including California, Connecticut, Kansas, Idaho, and Nevada. Some of the accused pled guilty, while other defendants received sentences and still others heard their charges.The “”Federal Bureau of Investigation””:http://www.fbi.gov/ (FBI) accounted for several of the cases, beginning with Christian Tudorof, who pleaded guilty Monday to one count of wired fraud in New Haven. According to the “”_Hartford Courant_””:http://www.courant.com/community/new-haven/hc-ap-ct-mortgagefraud-conjul11,0,4326967.story, Tudorof defrauded several lenders across the country by falsifying mortgage applications and failing to disclose ownership for six properties in Arizona, Connecticut, and Florida between 2006 and 2007. Tudorof netted $4 million in fraudulent homes, resulting in more than $2 million in losses for affected lenders. He may serve up to 20 years in prison and receive $4 million in fines when a court magistrates grants his sentence in October, according to the “”_Courant_””:http://www.courant.com/community/new-haven/hc-ap-ct-mortgagefraud-conjul11,0,4326967.story.On Tuesday, a Boise-based court sentenced real estate agent Melody Redondo to a year and three months in prison, plus five additional years of supervised release for falsifying documents she submitted to a financial institution. The 33-year-old pled guilty October last year to the false statement charge in a plea agreement that saw nine other counts, including charges for bank fraud, wire fraud, and making a false statement, dismissed by the presiding judge, according to the “”_Greenfield Daily Reporter_””:http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/view/story/925722b9bbbd4f94af06f715ed9e146b/ID–Mortgage-Fraud-Sentence/.[COLUMN_BREAK]Paul Redondo, the defendant’s husband, pled guilty to misdemeanor theft from a financial institution, for which the presiding judge sentenced him to three years’ probation and home detention, alongside an 80-hour community service requirement and $101,450 in fines and restitution.””False statements to banks in order to obtain home loans or home equity lines of credit undermine the integrity of the housing financing system,”” the “”_Reporter_””:http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/view/story/925722b9bbbd4f94af06f715ed9e146b/ID–Mortgage-Fraud-Sentence/ reported U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson as saying. “”This conviction shows that federal and state law enforcement agencies and prosecutors will work together to ensure that those who would exploit home loans for personal gain are properly punished.””Meanwhile, in Alameda County, California, Las Vegas resident Alan David Tikal continues to try to post $780,000 bail, which prosecutors allege his girlfriend may have obtained illegally. Authorities accuse the defendant of defrauding some 11 families as part of a real estate fraud and mortgage rescue scheme. Tikal will attend his bail hearing later on July 20.Not far from Alameda, a court charged six Los Angeles County residents for their alleged roles in orchestrating a $4 million mortgage fraud scheme. A federal jury indicted the first three defendants ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô Anthony Lewis, Maria Arriaza, and Deon Jackson ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. The next three ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô Jennifer Le, Matthew Balsz, and Freddy Lentz ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô received charges related to bribery in the mortgage fraud scheme, according to court documents and information released by the “”FBI””:http://www.fbi.gov/. The former mortgage brokers and escrow officers allegedly omitted material information in applications, filed false bank statements, and used false verification deposit forms, among other things.If convictions move forward, Lewis, Arriaza, and Jackson may each face up to 95 years’ imprisonment and fines of $1 million or double the amount of losses sustained by lenders.Lastly, in Kansas City, Kansas, four men pled guilty to conspiracies in fraudulent mortgage loan applications. The men included Paul Hartfield, Brian Jaimes, John Bradfield, and Kevin Mahoney. Between the four, lenders lost approximately $4.9 million in fraudulent loans. With the exception of Jaimes, who may receive $1 million in fines, the other defendants each face up to 30 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.The 12 cases follow a string of other high-profile mortgage fraud cases and convictions nationally, with convicted money-launderer Thomas Kontogiannis awaiting a potential 30-year sentence for a $92 million mortgage fraud payout scheme, which some call the largest such instance of mortgage fraud in the nation’s history. in Government, Origination, Servicing
in Headlines, News, Technology 2014-07-24 Tory Barringer Share Report: Zillow Seeking to Acquire Trulia Updated.Real estate website Zillow is reportedly making moves to acquire rival site Trulia in a deal that could see the merging of two of the country’s most popular online real estate resources.Citing people with knowledge of the potential deal, Bloomberg reported Thursday that Zillow may value Trulia at as much as $2 billion, two-thirds of which may be paid in its own stock. While talks are still ongoing, an agreement—if reached—is expected to be announced as early as next week.Though unconfirmed, the speculation sent shares at both companies up.If a deal is struck, the combined companies could create a force to be reckoned with in real estate online, an arena that is also occupied by companies like Redfin and Realtor.com (operated by Move, Inc.)According to Bloomberg’s estimates, Trulia’s revenue is expected to increase by 76 percent this year to $253 million, while Zillow’s annual revenue is forecast to climb 58 percent to $311 million. Both sites have seen shares improve in value as the housing market heads out of its post-recession trough.A spokesperson for Zillow said the company doesn’t comment on rumors. Representatives for Trulia could not be reached immediately. July 24, 2014 532 Views
Despite mounting frustrations among first-time homebuyers, Americans remain satisfied by and large when it comes to the mortgage origination process, according to a new customer survey.All things considered, mortgage finance customers in the last year rated their experience as a C-plus, according to a recent report from J.D. Power, with overall satisfaction averaging 786 on a 1,000-point scale. That compares to a rating of 771 in the company’s 2013 survey.The annual study, which has been redesigned for the latest release, measures customer satisfaction with the mortgage origination experience across six factors: loan offerings, the application and approval process, interaction, closing, onboarding, and problem resolution.Out of all the lenders tracked in the survey, Quicken Loans topped the list in customer satisfaction for a fifth straight year. With a satisfaction score of 835, the non-bank was the only firm to earn a full five “Power Circle Ratings” from J.D. Power.Following Quicken were Bank of America (807), Chase (805), and U.S. Bank (802), all of which earned four Power Circles.While originators have improved on their composite score over the last several years, J.D. Power found many mortgage customers are still frustrated by the limited understanding they have of the entire process—particularly first-time homebuyers, who accounted for 58 percent of this year’s survey.”Recent National Realtors Association data indicates the percentage of first-time home buyers is well below historical norms,” said Craig Martin, director of J.D. Power’s mortgage practice. “With many prospective borrowers looking for guidance and assurance, it is imperative that lenders are fully prepared to provide the detail and information these customers desire or the borrowers may decide to stay on the sidelines.”Of the first-time buyers surveyed, 54 percent said they don’t fully understand the range of loan options available to them, and only 41 percent said they felt their representative adequately explained the types of loans, terms, special programs, fees, and options available to reduce their down payment.Among all mortgage customers, 35 percent said they didn’t completely understand the process, resulting in an average decline of 179 points in overall satisfaction.The closing experience was another source of frustration for many borrowers. Among first-time homebuyers, 44 percent indicated their closing agent didn’t completely explain all of the closing documents, while 26 percent of experience customers said the same. According to J.D. Power, overall satisfaction drops by an average 144 points when lenders fail to effectively communicate loan documents and terms.Consistent communication was also a pain point for some lenders, with customer satisfaction plummeting by 236 points when loan representatives fail to call customers back.Notably, as technology advances and communication media expand, the survey found many customers still consider their relationship with their loan representative a key part of their experience.”The loan representative is the face of the organization for most borrowers and is relied upon to provide effective explanations, set accurate expectations and ensure consumers have confidence that they are making a good decision,” Martin said. “From describing what will happen during the process in terms a customer can understand to explaining the benefits of different options, the loan representative sets the tone of the experience.” Originator Satisfaction Scores Rise Despite Customer Frustrations Customer Satisfaction J.D. Power Quicken Loans 2014-11-13 Tory Barringer in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News November 13, 2014 536 Views Share
Home Price Indices S&P/Case Shiller Stong July Gains 2015-09-29 Staff Writer U.S. Home Prices Post Strong Gains in July, Case-Shiller Shows September 29, 2015 481 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, Market Studies, News Home prices across the country increased again in July 2015, according to S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.The index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, showed July 2015 home prices rose 4.7 percent year-over-year compared to a 4.5 percent increase recorded the prior month.The 10-City Composite was mostly unchanged from last month, experiencing a 4.5 percent increase year-over-year, while the 20-City Composite gained 5.0 percent.The cities with the highest year-over-year gains were San Francisco (10.4 percent), Denver (10.3 percent), and Dallas (8.7 percent), the report said. Meanwhile, 14 cities reported greater price increases in the year ending July 2015 over the previous year.On a month-over-month basis, home prices increased 0.7 percent in July before seasonal adjustment, the index determined. Both the 10-City and 20-City Composite posted 0.6 percent gains.“Prices of existing homes and housing overall are seeing strong growth and contributing to recent solid growth for the economy,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.Much of the strength in home prices was seen in Western states, Blitzer noted. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego all have the largest cumulative price increases since January 2000 at 138 percent, 116 percent, and 115 percent, respectively. On the other hand, Detroit (3 percent) and Cleveland (10 percent) posted the smallest gains since 2o00.Blitzer also explained that the index has risen 4 percent annually for the last three years, well ahead of inflation. In addition, residential investment and spending on furniture and household equipment have also surpassed economic growth.”An interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve, now expected in December by many analysts, is not likely to derail the strong housing performance,” Blitzer concluded.Click here to view the full report. Share
in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Market Studies, News October 12, 2015 576 Views Survey Finds Consumers Do Not Bargain Hunt for Mortgage Loans Bargain Hunt LendingTree Mortgage Loan 2015-10-12 Staff Writer Although the majority of Americans consider themselves bargain hunters when shopping for various items or services, less than one-third of these consumers do not shop around for better prices when searching for a mortgage loan.A recent study from LendingTree found that 79 percent of Americans consider themselves bargain hunters and 92 percent research prices online before buying an item.However, consumers do not appear to be as motivated to hunt for bargains when it comes to shopping for a mortgage loan. LendingTree determined that 30 percent of consumers seek the best prices when shopping for a major financial loan, such as a mortgage loan, while 18 percent indicated that they never look for better rates or prices on loans.On the other end of the spectrum, consumers seem to be more willing to shop around for much smaller purchases.”Once it comes to a major financial investment, we see a collapse of the normally rational pattern of behavior and mentality for saving.”The survey found that over 80 percent of consumers noted that they would go out of their way to save ten cents per gallon on gas, but only 17 percent of car owners negotiated their auto interest rate.“It’s an interesting phenomenon. Consumers are generally very savvy with their shopping behavior when it comes to day-to-day purchases and material goods,” said Andrea Woroch, LendingTree’s consumer savings expert. “But, once it comes to a major financial investment, we see a collapse of the normally rational pattern of behavior and mentality for saving.”She added, “Consumers sometimes may be too focused on price and fail to consider the lifetime cost of interest which is really where banks and lenders make their money. Over a five-year auto loan, or thirty-year mortgage, a one percent difference between interest rates can easily translate to thousands of dollars.”Woroch believes there could be a number of causes for this “irrational behavior” among consumers including:Many Americans don’t understand the long-term costs associated with compounding interest and the time-value of moneyConsumers are uneducated about loan shopping and the importance of comparing interest rates before financing a purchase.”It’s easy to become emotionally involved with the purchase itself or to find the loan process so frustrating that you would rather finalize the purchase instead of shopping around,” Woroch said. “Unfortunately, consumers are becoming accustomed to paying a premium for convenience on a variety products we purchase every day, such as bottled drinks for example. But is the convenience of not shopping for loans really worth thousands of dollars? Perceived convenience is a major trap consumers can fall into, but with technology improving our ability to find the best deal, saving money on your major finances is just as easy as online shopping.”Click here to view the complete study. Share
in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a district court’s decision that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are private companies, albeit companies chartered or sponsored by the federal government, and not “officers, employees, or agents of the federal government for purposes of the False Claims Act.”In upholding the lower court’s decision in the case of United States of America ex rel. Adams v. Aurora Loan Servs., Inc, the Ninth Circuit Court ruling stated that the FHFA’s conservatorship of the Enterprises does not “transform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into federal instrumentalities. We agree that the FHFA has ‘all the rights, titles, powers and privileges of’ Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. However, this places FHFA in the shoes of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and gives the FHFA their rights and duties, not the other way around.”The ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court could have major implications for the lawsuits currently pending that challenge the legality of the sweeping of all GSE profits into Treasury, commonly known as the “Net Worth Sweep.”Myron Steele, an attorney representing the plaintiff in one such lawsuit (Jacobs v. Federal Housing Finance Agency), wrote a letter to Judge Gregory Sleet of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, where the Jacobs case is pending, and informed the judge of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling. Steele contends that the Ninth Circuit ruling means that as private companies, the GSEs are subject to Delaware state law—which does not permit the Net Worth Sweep.Steele stated in his letter that the Ninth Circuit Court’s holding that the conservatorship placed FHFA “in the shoes of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and gives the FHFA their rights and duties, not the other way around” contradicts the FHFA’s motion to dismiss the Jacobs case, in which the Agency asserts that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be subject to federal and not state law.“We agree that the FHFA has ‘all the rights, titles, powers and privileges of’ Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. However, this places FHFA in the shoes of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and gives the FHFA their rights and duties, not the other way around.”Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals“This holding is contrary to Defendants’ arguments that federal law, not state law, governs the conservator’s power to implement the Net Worth Sweep as a term of preferred stock, and that FHFA has authority under HERA to act as it sees fit without regard to whether Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac themselves have power under state law to issue preferred stock having the terms of the Net Worth Sweep,” Steele wrote.The FHFA declined to comment on the Ninth Circuit ruling.The case ruled on by the Ninth Circuit Court was a False Claims Act suit originally brought about by a group of realtors in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada against various mortgage lenders and loan servicers. The plaintiffs claim that the defendants certified that loans purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were free and clear of certain HOA charges and liens when they were not, and further alleged that the false certifications were made to the GSEs as instrumentalities of the United States, according to the Ninth Court ruling.The Net Worth Sweep began in August 2012 after an amendment to the original bailout agreement for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The GSEs returned to profitability in 2012, four years after accepting a taxpayer-funded bailout of $187.5 billion. The Net Worth Sweep has spawned several lawsuits by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac investors, notably by Florida-based mutual fund Fairholme Funds (still pending). A spokesperson for Fairholme Funds told MReport that the firm had no comment on the Night Circuit Court ruling.Click here to view Steele’s letter and the Ninth Circuit Court ruling. Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Private Companies 2016-03-03 Staff Writer March 3, 2016 607 Views Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Deemed Private Companies by 9th Circuit Court Share
The value of residential mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) rose in July due to an increase in rates and lower expectations with respect to prepays, according to MountainView Financial Solutions. During a recent webinar giving the monthly snapshot of MSR performance in July, Mike Riley, Managing Director, Analytics at Mountainview said that an increase of 9-10 basis points in rates had led to an impact on mortgages especially in terms of value change attribution.The webinar gave insights on managing, valuing, acquiring and selling residential MSRs and discussed the interest rate environment, MSR risk management, MSR pricing levels and MSR market activity in July. Speaking on the pricing of MSRs, Mark Garland, Managing Director, Analytics, MountainView Financial Solutions said that the company was seeing a strong impact by state on new product pricing in relation to escrows. “We are seeing different levels of interest on escrows, different incidents of loans escrowed versus those waived, and a difference in escrow cushions across states,” Garland said.Depending upon projected balances by mortgage bankers who account for escrow custodial float, float rates, and interest on escrow rates, the impact on MSR values relative to escrows was between seven and 17 basis points in July.Speaking on the correlation between prepayment speeds and low FICO products Garland said that MountainView found that the prepayment times for low-FICO conventional and low-FICO government products were similar. “We took a wide array of products to see what a conventional product prepayment looks like across different FICO bands and compared that with low-FICO government products in similar bands,” Garland said. “We saw that there was really no significant difference in prepayment speeds.” When looking at the conventional mortgage products with primary rates between 4.25 percent and 4.49 percent, the study found that in July, prepayments for FICO scores ranging between 660-679, 680-710, and more than 720 were about the same at a little over 10 percent. When the rates rose slightly to 4.5 percent and 4.74 percent, the prepayment speed for FICO scores in the range of 660 and 679 rose to around 14 percent. However, the prepayment speeds for mortgages with FICO scores ranging between 680 and 710, and more than 720 remained at a little over 12 percent.The study found a similar correlation between FICO scores and prepayment of government mortgage loans.At a mortgage rate of 4 percent and 4.24 percent, it revealed that prepayment speeds of borrowers with FICO scores ranging between 620 and 639, and 640 and 659 were a little over 14 percent. For borrowers with scores of 660-679 and 680-710, the prepayment speed was a little over 12 percent.However, when mortgage rates increased to between 4.25 percent and 4.49 percent, the prepayment speed for borrowers with scores of 620-639, 640-659, and 660-679 were uniform at a little over 16 percent. However, the prepayment speed for those with scores in the range of 680-710 remained at 14 percent. in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Servicing Share Conventional Credit Scores FICO Government loans mortgage Mortgage Rates Mountain View Financial Solutions MSRs Prepayment 2018-08-09 Radhika Ojha August 9, 2018 1,046 Views MSR Values Rise With Increasing Rates
Enjoying a fabulous break from the office, nine happy agents recently experienced spectacular Chile, on a famil hosted by Air Tickets, LATAM Airlines & the South America Travel Center (SATC).PatagoniaEnjoying this spectacular destination were Mahalia Steve, Emma Whiting Travel; Nicole Prestipino, Helloworld Travel Drysdale; Lisa Myers, WOW! Travel; Jenny Mitchell, The Travel Studio; Alison Dwyer, Lifestyle Travel Ballarat; Rosa Zanin, Helloworld Travel Surrey Hills; Susie Rutz, East Ivanhoe Travel; Emmi Niedermair, Macedon Ranges Travel Service; Greg Krenn, GK Travel and Fab Leiva, AirTickets.Lisa, Nicole, Fab and GregAmong amazing highlights too numerous to detail, the group stayed amongst the majestic peaks in Los Torres and Los Cuernos, visited Tierra Patagonia in the remote region of Chilean Patagonia, cruised the picturesque Patagonia Fjords, lodged at the quite spectacular winery ‘Vina VIK’ and spent a couple of days soaking up the vibes of the laid-back coastal town of Valparaiso.SantiagoTOP IMAGE: “We are not hippies, we are happies!” – Jenny, Fab, Susie, Nicole, Alison & Mahalia agentsAir TicketsChileFamilsLATAMSATCSouth America