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No exit For female jihadis Syria is oneway journey

first_img(Militant Website via AP, File) How men can have a healthy 2019 4 must play golf courses in Arizona In interviews, court documents and public records, The Associated Press has compiled a detailed picture of European girls and young women who join extremists such as the Islamic State group — a decision that is far more final than most may realize.The girls are married off almost immediately, either in Turkey or just after crossing into Syria. With an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters — among them 5,000 Europeans — in Syria, there is no shortage of men looking for wives. That number is expected to double by the end of the year. Once among the jihadis, the women are not permitted to travel without a male chaperone or a group of other women and must remain fully covered outside, according to material published by Islamic State and researchers who follow the group. Otherwise, they risk a lashing or worse.European women who blog about their lives under Islamic State tend to be chipper about the experience, but reading between the lines of an e-book of travel advice shows a life that will be radically circumscribed, with limited electricity, lack of even the most basic medicine, and practically no autonomy. Women do not fight, researchers say, despite the Hunger Games-like promises of recruiters. Comments   Share   “The lives of those teenage girls are very much controlled,” said Sara Khan, a British Muslim whose group Inspire campaigns against the dangers of extremist recruiters. “I don’t think that discussion ever comes up. It’s so romanticized, the idea of this utopia. I don’t even think those young girls have necessarily considered that there’s no way back now.”The two exceptions to the rule of no return are perhaps most revealing in the very paucity of details about their journey — driving home how murky life is behind the Islamic State curtain.Sterlina Petalo is a Dutch teenager who converted to Islam, and came to be known by the name Aicha. She traveled to Syria in 2014 to marry a Dutch jihadi fighter there and managed to return months later — apparently making her way to the border with Turkey, where her mother reportedly picked her up and brought her back to the Netherlands. Back home, she was immediately arrested on suspicion of joining a terror organization.Her family, lawyers and prosecutors refuse to discuss the case. She was released from custody last November and has not been formally charged.The second woman known to have made it out of the grip of Islamic State reconsidered after just a few weeks. The 25-year-old Briton, whom police have not named, had taken her toddler son all the way to Raqqa, the group’s stronghold, when she decided she had made a mistake and called home. She made her way back into Turkey and her father met her there. How she was able to travel the 250 kilometers (150 miles) from Raqqa to the Turkish border city of Gaziantep is not clear. Back in Britain, she was detained and is now free on bail pending formal charges. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober “We’ll find you, we have the best operators here, you don’t know what you’re getting into, you’re messing with a terrorist group, you and your family will pay,” the woman said, recounting the litany of threats she received after returning to France. “If they were speaking to a 20-year-old, it would be very hard for her.”___Associated Press writer Mike Corder in Amsterdam contributed.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. PARIS (AP) — When three British schoolgirls trundled across the Syrian border; when a pregnant 14-year-old ran away from her Alpine home for the second time; when a sheltered girl from the south of France booked her first trip abroad — they were going to a place of no return.Only two of the approximately 600 Western girls and young women who have joined extremists in Syria are known to have made it out of the war zone. By comparison, as many as 30 percent of the male foreign fighters have left or are on their way out, according to figures from European governments that monitor the returns. “It’s particularly difficult for these families. For them, radicalization is happening on the Internet and outside the family sphere,” said Sebastien Pietrasanta, a French lawmaker working on a program to de-radicalize young people. “For a girl of 14, I believe we can clearly save her from herself and save her from these barbarians.”A French journalist got dangerously close to jihadi recruitment methods by creating a fake Facebook account that attracted a marriage proposal from a fighter in Syria.Under the pseudonym Melodie, the journalist shared a video on the account, almost immediately getting a message from a man identified as Bilel, who asked how she’d liked the montage of him showing off in a 4X4 and with his weapons.“I passed myself off as a 20-something, not stupid but a little lost, who suddenly found a huge response from a man in Syria,” said the journalist, who wrote a book “In the Skin of a Jihadist” under a pseudonym.Bilel’s doubts about her began to grow as her reluctance to join him became clear. She ended up getting threats that she said would likely frighten a bewildered young woman into submission. As it was, the journalist, who never met Bilal in person, remains under constant police protection a year later. Sponsored Stories Without knowing how the two escaped, it is difficult to say whether other girls and women could follow their path out of Syria, said Joana Cook, a researcher at King’s College London who studies the links between women and jihad.“There are clearly many human smugglers working within Syria right now, helping Syrian civilians escape the violence, and I wonder if there is a similar, perhaps even growing market, for those trying to escape after joining ISIL,” Cook told The Associated Press in an email, using one of the acronyms for the Islamic State group. “There is great disillusionment for many who have traveled to Syria to join ISIL and you’ll find many stories of those who went abroad noting ‘this isn’t what we signed up for.’”The question is whether the girls understood from the beginning how limited their choices would be once they crossed the frontier.The case of a 15-year-old Avignon girl exemplifies such doubts. The girl hid her second Facebook account and Islamic veil from her moderate Muslim family, thereby managing to join a jihadi network, according to the family’s lawyer. Once within a unit of the al-Qaida offshoot Nusra Front, she was not permitted to leave, according to her brother, who went into Syria to fetch her and was turned away by the extremists. A French boy who joined the group around the same time was allowed to go home. “I think they understand the premise of that, but not that they understand it in reality,” said Melanie Smith, another researcher at King’s College ICSR.The networks that bring the women into Syria are increasingly organized around the extremists’ dream of building a nation of multinational jihadis, meaning European girls are particularly prized. Each new Facebook post, each new cheerleading Twitter account — and they pop up by the hour — helps them subvert government efforts to prevent young people from radicalizing and leaving.The doggedness of jihadi methods for recruiting girls can be seen in the case of Amelia, a 14-year-old girl from France’s Alpine Isere region.Amelia was first contacted on Facebook by a French fighter on Jan. 14, 2014 and within a month agreed to go to Syria and marry the man, who identified himself as “Tony Toxiko.” After she was turned back by airport border police in Lyon on her first attempt, “Tony Toxiko” persuaded another French adolescent girl to join him in Syria.Amelia, meanwhile, ran away from home to Belgium, where an imam performed a religious ceremony that wed her to a different man, an Algerian jihadi. She returned to France homesick and pregnant, just long enough to speak to investigators building a case against a middleman who helped her run away. This winter, Amelia managed to deceive her family and left again — making it to Syria with the Algerian fighter, who is more than twice her age. Quick workouts for men Top Stories last_img read more

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AP PHOTOS Pope encountering rich indigenous traditions

first_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility While most of the region’s native peoples identify themselves as Roman Catholic, some practice syncretic rituals that blend the church’s traditional beliefs with native customs. Many Andean people see no contradiction in it, including President Evo Morales of Bolivia.A recent Corpus Christi festival in the Ecuadorean city of Pujili featured joyous dances and ceremonial acts of thanks to the ancient native gods Inti, or Father Sun, and Pachamama, or Mother Earth. Dressed in brightly colored costumes and tall headdresses decorated with beads, coins, crosses and mirrors, the performers danced to the indigenous deities.They then moved into the community’s Catholic church to dance in honor of the feast day of the Holy Eucharist, which Catholics believe is the body and blood of Jesus Christ.Other rituals are overwhelmingly Catholic, like a recent procession in Quito honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus. But the participants themselves were overwhelmingly indigenous: from the man carrying the big framed painting of a blond Jesus, to the women dressed as Our Lady of Sorrows in long robes and spiky metal headdresses, to the little girls wearing white angel costumes with wings of real feathers. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Rich indigenous traditions dating back centuries before European priests arrived in the New World are on display throughout South America.As Pope Francis tours Ecuador, the government has recruited indigenous people to greet the pontiff at many events. Church officials say he’ll make remarks in native tongues including Aymara, Quechua and Guarani during his South American tour, which also includes stops in Bolivia and Paraguay. In Bolivia, ceremonies to make offerings to Pachamama include the Andean priests reciting the Our Father, while mountain shrines to Mother Earth also have Christian crosses.The 2009 U.N. Sociolinguist Atlas of Latin America said 71 percent of the people in Ecuador’s highlands are indigenous while 90 percent are in Bolivia.___Associated Press photographers and photo editors on Twitter: http://apne.ws/15Oo6joCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 0 Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 treatments for adult scoliosis In this June 7, 2015 photo, women walk past an altar dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, as they enter a market in Pujili, Ecuador. Pope Francis will encounter rich indigenous traditions on his South America trip that date back centuries to even before European priests brought Christianity to the New World. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa) 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

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NSW on the way up Qantas Holidays Destination NSW

first_imgThis will be the year New South Wales makes a comeback, according to Destination NSW with new shows, news attractions and a brand new destination brochure.Speaking at the 2012/13 Qantas Holidays NSW Brochure launch in Rock Lily at The Star last night, the organisation’s chief executive Sandra Chipchase explained the Group’s relationship with the wholesaler was part of a greater plan to boost overnight expenditure as well as steal the title ‘events capital’ from competing city, Melbourne. “We are investing in the events sector, so it is going to be a very interesting year for NSW with the launch of Opera on the Harbour and few others events,” she explained.One of the key theatrical performances set to hoist the region into the bright lights is the worldwide premier of classical romance tale, An Officer and a Gentleman.Hitting the Sydney stage from 18 May this year, Visit Sydney director Justine Cooper described the musical production as “spectacular” and said it would sit alongside other major shows travelling through Sydney this year including Legally Blone.“We have an enviable calendar of great events including exclusive Picasso and Harry Potter exhibitions and the Vivid Sydney Showcase,” she said.As well as boosting the region’s profile through new attractions, Ms Chipchase said agents can get on top of the what’s what of Sydney by continuously completing NSW training programs.“It’s time everyone knew more about NSW and it is also time to get more product out there,” the Destination NSW head said. “NSW is definitely on it was up with more product, profiles and profits.”The new Qantas Holidays brochure is available now, with the company’s NSW/ACT state sales manager Ronae Jennings explaining that if they haven’t arrived in stores yet then they are on their way.Click here for photos and more information from last night’s event. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

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Qantas launches Sydney to the Gold Coast

first_imgBringing premium domestic products to the region, Qantas has launched flights between the Gold Coast and Sydney, with three new daily return services. Qantas will be the only domestic carrier to offer a meal and checked-in baggage to all passengers, while also offering customers the opportunity to experience its next generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft with Sky interior and state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment.  Qantas domestic chief executive Lyell Strambi said the service, which launched this morning, has received “overwhelming support”, selling up to 24,000 airfares within two days of putting the route on sale. “The new services will bring more tourists and business travellers to the region including many from Emirates’ international network, through the proposed global aviation partnership between the two airlines,” he said.The airline expects business on the route to sustain with a Gold Coast Tourism joint marketing campaign and a new Qantas Club lounge expected to open by the end of November. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

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Expedia excels with a consumercomesfirst attitude

first_imgExpedia excels in APAC with a consumer-comes-first attitude. By placing the consumer at the forefront of everyday business, Expedia managing director Georg Ruebensal aims to “increase conversion and improve efficiency” throughout the Asia Pacific region.Since registering an 18 percent drop in profits for the third quarter of 2012, Expedia has come full circle and is intent on improving customer service in order to rejuvenate business.“The core of our business optimisation is to really improve the whole customer experience,” Mr Ruebensal told e-Travel Blackboard.“We’re currently experiencing top-line growth and the conversion of shoppers to bookings is growing exponentially – our share price is the best indicator of our market position.”Webjet’s recent acquisition of Zuji has made for a more competitive and exciting market.“I’m not going to lie; it’s not making it easy for us. It’s likely more troubling for our competitors than for us,” Mr Ruebensal said. “We always welcome competition as it forces us to move forward and invest in new technology.“We have a lot of new products going out.”The joint venture, AirAsiaExpedia, has been gaining ground since its inception earlier this year.“AirAsia has a very recognisable brand in the Asia Pacific marketplace,” Mr Ruebensal said. “Their expertise is guaranteed, therefore bundling packages with them just makes sense.”With plenty on the horizon next year, including the traveller preferred program, “the outlook for advanced bookings indicates that the market is not softening and we’re very excited for our future plans.”“We want to make it very clear,” Mr Ruebensal said.“When it’s right for the consumer, it’s right for us.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

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G20 pushes Queenslands global exposure

first_imgThe state’s industry body for tourism says Queensland can be thankful for the extraordinary global showcase afforded by the G20 Leaders Summit hosted in Brisbane over this past weekend.Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) chief executive Daniel Gschwind, said that the G20 highlighted all of Queensland’s strengths.“The message has been shared far and wide that Queensland is a place to do business, a place for major events, a place for education and research and – of course – a place for visitors and tourists,” Mr Gschwind said.QTIC said Queensland will benefit for a long time from the goodwill and exposure created through the G20 Leaders Summit, the Brisbane Global Café and associated events such as the G20 Cultural Celebrations.“Through the visiting G20 leaders and media, we took full advantage of the opportunity to send this message to the world,” Mr Gschwind said.Currently tourism in Queensland contributes AUD$23 billion in expenditure to the economy and employs 241,000 people, and with the exposure from the G20 the industry is set to skyrocket.“Countless photos of Brisbane and of the leaders and their partners getting close to koalas and other iconic wildlife were beamed around the world through news coverage and social media, literally hundreds of millions of social media followers were receiving messages about Queensland,” Mr Gschwind said.“This type of exposure is virtually impossible to replicate through traditional promotional channels.”Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

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The State of Asian Online Travel

first_imgThe State of Asian Online TravelThe rise of disposable income, high internet penetration, growth of mobile phones and the desire to travel have positioned Asia as the largest travel opportunity area in the world. eRevMax, the leading hotel online distribution and channel management solutions provider has released an Infographic – ‘The State of Asian Online Travel’ highlighting key insights on changing travel behaviour, online travel penetration, usage of mobile, last minute booking habits and social media usage of Asian travelers.Based on various market studies, the infographic shows that 71% travelers seek recommendations from family and friends for a leisure trip and 44% watch travel videos for inspiration.  46% travelers in this region prefer to book online with most trusting OTAs over hotel brand sites. The online travel market in Asia is projected to cross $155 billion by 2017, a 200% increase from $78 billion in 2012.The mobile market in Asia had witnessed a double digit growth in gross bookings from $3.2 billion in 2012 to $6.4 billion in 2013. With 3 in every 5 bookings coming from mobile, the platform has taken center-stage and now being considered as a separate channel for revenue generation for smart hoteliers.The increasing ubiquity of mobile devices has empowered travelers to be confident enough of finding lodging option at their preferable rate at the very last minute. The infographic also shows that 70% of same day bookings are done on mobile and 29% book within twenty four hours of their stay. eRevMax suggests hoteliers to provide target based product offerings to reach out to the last-minute travel segment. View the full infograph hereSource = eRevMaxlast_img read more

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Cebu Pacific adopts Philippine Eagle Mindanao

first_imgCebu Pacific adopts Philippine Eagle “Mindanao”The Philippine Eagle is considered as one of the most remarkable bird species in the world, for its ferocity, grace, and unparalleled beauty. It is a vertebrate of the highest class, with the size and wing span that provide the lethal mobility of an extraordinary winged predator.This raptor adapts well in dense, lush flora, making it the perfect fit for the Philippines’ tropical climate. But as it is endemic to the rainforests of the Philippines, its existence is gravely affected by natural habitat loss and hunting.Sadly, only 400 pairs remain, making it one of the most endangered species in the world today.One such eagle is “Mindanao,” the Philippine Eagle ambassador for education. From the day he was hatched, he, along with 17 other Philippine eagles, has been under the care of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) through a captive breeding program—a system that breeds and re-introduces raptors to their natural habitat in the efforts to augment the dwindling wild populationOver the years, 13-year old “Mindanao” has inspired both locals and visitors of the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao to learn more about its kind. “Mindanao” has helped raise awareness about the delicate situation the eagles are in, as well as PEF’s mission to advocate for its survival and the sustainable use of forest resources towards a better future habitat.But the call for combined efforts to help preserve the life of these majestic creatures remains. Aside from being aware of the current, long-standing obstacles the Philippine eagles face, everyJuan can do more.Starting October 15, 2015, Cebu Pacific, the country’s leading airline, takes Philippine Eagle “Mindanao” under its wing. The adoption of “Mindanao” strengthens the airline’s commitment to act on environmental conservation issues that are greatly linked to the country’s rich biodiversity.For five years, Cebu Pacific will provide food and necessary veterinary care that will help flourish and sustain the well-being of “Mindanao” as one of the country’s prominent national symbols.“The Philippine Eagle is a significant part of our country’s thriving ecosystem. We encourage everyone to help preserve this national icon until they can fly freely, without threat, in their natural habitats,” said Cebu Pacific President and CEO Lance Gokongwei.Through this partnership, Cebu Pacific directly supports PEF’s Conservation Breeding and Conservation Education initiatives that prevent the complete extinction of such species. It also provides a helping hand to further accelerate the Captive Breeding program of PEF, as well as raise awareness about the plight of the Philippine Eagle.This initiative supplements Cebu Pacific’s other long-term commitment to the environment, the Bright Skies for EveryJuan campaign. In place since 2008,this climate adaptation program,in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature – Philippines, benefits the country’s two great reefs – the Tubbataha and Apo Reefs. Philippine Eagle FoundationSource = Cebu Pacificlast_img read more

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Princess Cruises set to unveil magical new show

first_imgStephen Schwartz (right) with Princess Cruises Vice President Australia & New Zealand Stuart Allison.Magic will be in the air for Australian cruisers when Emerald Princess arrives Down Under for its maiden season of cruises in November, carrying a brand new musical from three-time Oscar winner and composer of Wicked, Pippin and Godspell Stephen Schwartz.Schwartz’s first production for a cruise line, Magic to Do celebrates his lifelong fascination with magic and combines thrilling illusions with some of his most famous songs, such as Magic to Do from Pippin and Defying Gravity from Wicked. The show also includes a brand new song written exclusively for Princess called A Little Magic.A cruise-industry first, the creation of Magic to Do is part of a multi-year agreement, which will see Schwartz oversee the creative development of four musicals to debut across the fleet over the next several years. Magic to Do debuted on Crown Princess in October last year.Princess Cruises Vice President Australia & New Zealand Stuart Allison said Princess was known for introducing product innovations and was thrilled to embark on this extraordinary new live-show entertainment – unlike anything any cruise line has ever before offered.Stephen Schwartz“Stephen is one of the most talented and accomplished Broadway composers of all time and Princess couldn’t be more honoured to partner with him to create memorable entertainment experiences for our guests. We’re sure the production will be a huge hit when it debuts in Australia later this year,” Mr Allison said.Schwartz said he was excited about using the enormous resources available with Princess to create new and innovative theatrical entertainment.“Their onboard theatres are Broadway-calibre venues with state-of-the-art technical capability, and coupled with their access to first-rate performers, I see it as an extraordinary and almost irresistible opportunity,” he said.“I have received overwhelming and enthusiastic interest from talented colleagues – writers, directors, and designers to whom I have spoken – and I hope together we will create new kinds of cruise ship shows to entertain and inspire Princess guests unlike any other productions at sea.”Schwartz will bring together a cadre of Broadway talent to support the four Princess productions through direction and design.During his 40-year career, Schwartz has won four Grammys, three Academy Awards for “Best Song” and “Best Score” for Pocahontas and “Best Song” for The Prince of Egypt and has been nominated for six Tony Awards. He is the only songwriter in Broadway history to ever have three shows run more than 1900 performances.Emerald Princess will based in Sydney from November 2016 to April 2017, with fares starting from AU$1599 per person twin share for an 11-night New Zealand cruise roundtrip from Sydney, departing January 10, 2017. Learn more hereSource = Princess Cruiseslast_img read more

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TripAdvisor shares insights into Chinas FITs

first_imgTripAdvisor®, the world’s largest travel site, today shared findings from a Phocuswright study providing insights into the behaviour, spending patterns, and preferences of more than 3,000 outbound Chinese travellers.Entitled China Unbounded: The Rapid Rise of China’s Outbound Millions, the study (sponsored in part by TripAdvisor), which looked at all facets of Chinese outbound travel out of the mainland, has allowed TripAdvisor the opportunity to examine and thus unveil the changing profile of China’s emerging free independent traveller (FIT).In 2015, the number of Chinese outbound leisure trips grew 20% year-on-year to 120 million, based on figures released by the Chinese National Tourism Administration 1, with expenditure reaching $280.8 billion2 according to China Unbounded.Chinese traveller interest in Australia has increased by 15% year-on-year, comparing the full year 2015 to 2014 (based on traffic sessions on tripadvisor.cn targeting Australia).The top five most searched destinations in 2015 by Chinese travellers on tripadvisor.cn, based on total session count in 2015 were:SydneyMelbourneBrisbaneCairnsAirlie Beach“China’s growing number of FIT present vast, untapped opportunities for global tourism service providers and hospitality businesses,” said Leo Lin, TripAdvisor Mao Tu Ying’s Chief of Staff.“Businesses with the goal of attracting Chinese FITs not only need to come up with a strong, tailored strategy, but be prepared to constantly adapt to evolving expectations. At Mao Tu Ying, we can work with these businesses to help capture and cater to this increasingly sophisticated audience.”Who they are China’s FIT is young, well-off, self-reliant and increasingly experiencedThe study revealed that more often than not, China’s FITs are young, well-educated and relatively affluent. Nearly nine out of ten (89%) Chinese FITs are adults aged 18-44, with 41% of them belonging to the Post-80s generation (aged 25-34). Three in four (77%) Chinese FITs had an undergraduate degree or higher and 44% earned a monthly income of ¥15,000 (≈$3,145)3or more.  Not surprisingly, a bigger share of Chinese FITs comes from 1st tier cities than in other tiers. Interestingly, more than a quarter of Chinese FITs surveyed lived in southern China’s Guangdong province, followed by Shanghai, Sichuan province, Beijing and Jiangsu province.Chinese FITs are increasingly becoming more experienced outbound travellers. On average, Chinese FITs have taken 5.5 international trips in their lifetime, higher than the overall average Chinese outbound traveller at 5.2 international trips.English proficiency is reasonably high among Chinese FITs with 41% saying they can understand most English. This type of Chinese traveller is also increasingly self-reliant, preferring to organise their own itinerary and shifting away from the antiquated stereotype of pre-packaged large and escorted group tours. In fact, nine in 10 Chinese FITs purchased travel components individually for their most recent international leisure trip.Where they’re going, when they travel and for how longThey’re ready to go on holiday at the drop of a hatChinese FITs have a short travel planning cycle with nearly one-third (32%) choosing their destination one to two weeks prior to their departure for their last trip. Nearly one in five (18%) Chinese FITs decide on where to go  within less than a week of their departure.Chinese FITs have a propensity for longer trips, with travel peaks in early OctoberThe outbound travel season for Chinese travellers kicks off with the May 1st holiday, and peaks at the early-October National Day. Over a quarter (29%) of outbound trips are taken in October, and 77% of outbound trips occur between May and October. One in three (34%) Chinese FITs spent three nights or less on their last international trip, compared to 40% who spent 4-6 nights and over a quarter (26%) who spent 7 or more nights abroad. Nearly a third of trips taken around National Day holiday (October 1st) consist of 7 nights or more.Short haul travel to neighbouring destinations continues to dominate outbound tripsShort-haul destinations in Greater China, North Asia and Southeast Asia account for more than 9 in 10 outbound FIT trips. The top five countries visited by Chinese FITs on their last leisure trip were Japan, Thailand, South Korea, the United States and Malaysia. For those who visited Europe in the past 12 months, the most popular countries were France, U.K, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain.Why they travel and what they wantThey intend to shop but are looking for a more holistic holiday experienceThe study showed that 42% of Chinese FITs said shopping was an important motivation for their trip, especially to North East Asian countries including Japan and South Korea. However, quality of shopping rated relatively low in importance in choice of destination, indicating that whilst travellers are expecting good shopping options in many travel spots, other factors play a big role in the final selection.In fact, 56% of this segment are motivated to travel internationally simply by the desire to get away and relax – which seems to be the case especially for travel to South East Asia – and 47% are lured by the desire to see natural, cultural and historical attractions.The top three most important deciding factors ultimately boiled down to whether a destination was deemed safe or politically stable (65% rated this “extremely important”), followed by whether it featured a clean environment with low pollution (36%), and if it had natural features & landscapes (35%). Australia and New Zealand were rated most highly on these destination characteristics by Chinese FITs who have travelled there.How they’re spendingTheir wallets are wide open when they are on holidayThe Chinese FIT spends on average ¥17,713 (≈$3,714) per trip, with 29% having spent ¥20,000 (≈$4,193) or more on their last trip abroad. Chinese FITs from bigger cities spent the most per trip. Surprisingly however, the difference in average spend by FIT in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities is a mere 17%, pointing to the rise in purchasing power by FITs in Tier 2 cities. The biggest spenders were from Beijing (¥26,438≈AU$5,543), Sichuan province (¥22,155≈AU$4,645), and Shanghai (¥22,077≈AU$4,629).With an average spend of ¥6,850 (≈$1,436), shopping accounted for the lion’s share of Chinese FITs’ international travel budget regardless of destination. Chinese FITs are the biggest shoppers during trips to the U.S. and Canada with an average shopping spend of ¥17,576 (≈AU$3,685).Second to shopping, Chinese FITs spend an average spend of ¥4,493 (≈$942) on airplane tickets and ¥3,075 (≈$645) on accommodation. The average spends on dining for Chinese FITs was ¥2,080 (≈$437).And they plan to spend more and travel more in the next two yearsWhilst short haul destinations in East Asia (especially in Greater China) remain a top choice for outbound Chinese FITs, there is also strong interest in long-haul travel to Europe, Australasia and North America in the next two years.Nearly half (49%) of outbound Chinese FITs plan to take more trips in the next two years as compared to the last 12 months, and more than half of them plan to take longer trips (52%) and spend more (54%) whilst abroad. TripAdvisor Source = TripAdvisorlast_img read more

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Low carbon fuel project achieves breakthrough

first_imgSource = Virgin Atlantic Low carbon fuel project achieves breakthrough Virgin AtlanticLow carbon fuel project achieves breakthrough as LanzaTech produces jet fuel from waste gases for Virgin AtlanticFor the first time ever, 1,500 US gallons of jet fuel has been produced from ‘Lanzanol’ – LanzaTech’s low carbon ethanolProducing the world’s first jet fuel derived from waste industrial gases from steel mills, via fermentation processThe alcohol-to-jet (AtJ) fuel has passed all its initial performance tests with flying coloursInitial analyses suggest the new fuel will result in carbon savings of 65% compared to conventional jet fuelAn innovative low carbon fuel project has taken a significant step forward after successfully producing 1,500 US gallons of jet fuel.The breakthrough towards developing commercially viable low carbon fuel is the result of a partnership between Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech. Since 2011 they have been committed to producing the world’s first jet fuel derived from waste industrial gases from steel mills via a fermentation process.The Lanzanol was produced in China at the RSB (Roundtable of Sustainable Biomaterials) certified Shougang demonstration facility. The innovative alcohol-to-jet (AtJ) process was developed in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) with support from the US Department of Energy (DOE) and with the help of funding from HSBC.LanzaTech and Virgin Atlantic are now set to continue to work with Boeing and a host of industry colleagues to complete the additional testing aircraft and engine manufacturers require before approving the fuel for first use in a commercial aircraft. Assuming all initial approvals are achieved, the innovative LanzaTech jet fuel could be used in a first of its kind proving flight in 2017.Following a successful ‘proving flight’ the data collected will enable the partnership to seek approval to use the fuel on routine commercial flights. This would also help pave the way for LanzaTech to fund and build their first commercial jet fuel plant to supply fuel to Virgin Atlantic and other airlines. As a UK based partnership it is hoped the first LanzaTech jet fuel plant would be based in the UK.Sir Richard Branson said: “This is a real game changer for aviation and could significantly reduce the industry’s reliance on oil within our lifetime. Virgin Atlantic was the first commercial airline to test a bio-fuel flight and continues to be a leader in sustainable aviation. We chose to partner with LanzaTech because of its impressive sustainability profile and the commercial potential of the jet fuel. Our understanding of low carbon fuels has developed rapidly over the last decade, and we are closer than ever before to bringing a sustainable product to the market for commercial use by Virgin Atlantic and other global airlines.”Dr Jennifer Holmgren, Chief Executive of LanzaTech, said: “We can now truly imagine a world where a steel mill can not only produce the steel for the components of the plane but also recycle its gases to produce the fuel that powers the aircraft. This program illustrates that such breakthroughs are only possible through collaboration. In this case, it is governments (US DOE, FAA, DARPA), laboratories (PNNL, AFRL, SWRI, MTU, UDRI), NGOs (RSB) and industry (Virgin, HSBC, Boeing, Shougang, Airlines for America) coming together to disrupt our current global carbon trajectory. We look forward to working with colleagues past, present and future to make this pioneering new fuel a commercial reality. “The LanzaTech production process explained: Steel production produces waste carbon monoxide (CO) gas, which is frequently flared (burnt off) to the atmosphere as greenhouse gas CO2 (or sometimes used less efficiently for other purposes).The LanzaTech process involves capturing carbon from the waste gas via fermentation to ethanol, which is recovered to produce ethanol feedstock for a variety of products, including aviation fuel.Each gallon of ethanol is converted to produce 1/2 gallon of aviation fuel.The process could be used to capture and recycle around 1/3 of the carbon that steel facilities would otherwise release into the atmosphere.Future potential of this technology Ground energy can be sourced carbon free – think solar or wind – but to make liquid fuels as per those needed for aviation you need a carbon source. Where this carbon comes from is up to us – new fossil resources, or recycled carbon.Recycling waste carbon streams is an effective way to keep fossil resources in the ground. Worldwide, around 1.7 billion metric tonnes of steel is produced every year and waste gases are produced through the chemistry of steel making.LanzaTech estimates that its process could be retrofitted to 65% of the world’s steel mills.This offers the potential to produce 30 billion gallons of ethanol worldwide, for around 15 billion gallons of jet fuel p.a.This would represent just under 19% of all aviation fuel currently used worldwide p.a. (80 billion gallon total world aviation fuel use). Fly Virgin Atlanticbook flights hereAbout Virgin Atlantic:Virgin Atlantic was founded by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson over 30 years ago after he decided the UK aviation industry needed shaking up and style injected back into it. On 22nd June 1984, Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight to Newark took place, on an aircraft filled with personal friends, celebrities and the media. Today, Virgin Atlantic flies to over 30 destinations worldwide, including locations across the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.Virgin Atlantic has been active in the sustainable aviation space for many years. Its Change is in the Air sustainability programme was established in 2007. Sustainable jet fuels are a key part of that programme’s carbon reduction focus. For full information about Change is in the Air visit: www.virgin-atlantic.com/changeisintheair. Virgin Atlantic formally partnered with LanzaTech on its low carbon jet fuel in 2011. The two companies have been working hard behind the scenes to progress the programme since then. HSBC joined the partnership in 2014.About HSBC:HSBC has been involved in the LanzaTech partnership since 2014. HSBC has shown commitment to projects that accelerate the shift to a low-carbon economy, reflecting its commitment to work with suppliers and customers alike to help address climate change.last_img read more

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World leaders in travel take to the stage at WTM

first_imgInfluential movers and shakers in the travel industry will be at World Travel Market London to debate key issues affecting the trade.There will be two ‘World Travel Leaders’ sessions, along with a ceremony to present the World Travel Leaders Awards to individuals and organisations that have contributed the most to the global travel and tourism industry over the lifetime of WTM.The first WTM World Travel Leaders session is entitled ‘Asia – Inbound and Outbound Travel – Growing Globally’, sponsored by Korean Tourism Organisation, and will look at the new Asian powerhouses of the global leisure travel market.Moderated by respected global strategic advisor Anita Mendiratta – Founder and Managing Director at Cachet Consulting – the panel debate will discuss crucial issues driving this growth, now and in the future, and how to take advantage of the expansion.The panellists will be Tran Trong Kien, Chairman and General Director, Thien Minh Group (Buffalo Tours); Mario Hardy, Chief Executive, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA); Peter Kerkar, Group Chief Executive, Cox & Kings; and Wendy Wu, Founder and Chief Executive, Wendy Wu Tours.The debate will be followed by the WTM World Travel Leaders Awards, which give WTM’s Official Media Partners – which represent key travel industry media around the world – an excellent platform to congratulate and recognise those companies and individuals that have made significant contributions to travel and tourism in their region or sector.Three nominations from each of WTM’s media partners were judged in September by a panel of three, consisting of an independent body, a representative of WTM and the relevant media partner.The second World Travel Leaders debate is entitled ‘UK Inbound and Domestic Travel – Breaking Records’ and will be moderated by Deirdre Wells, Chief Executive, UKInbound.Drawn from successful companies in the sector, the panellists will study why the UK has seen significant growth and record tourist numbers over recent years, and how to benefit from future expansion.Speakers will be Terry Williamson, Chief Executive, JacTravel; Denis Wormwell, Chief Executive, Shearings Holidays, Kyle Haughton, Managing Director, City Cruises and Neil Davies, Head of Travel Trade, Bourne Leisure.WTM London, Conference Manger, Charlotte Sutton said, “Only World Travel Market London can attract such a list of high-calibre speakers, and the audience at both sessions will be able to hear directly from travel’s big guns – leading entrepreneurs, powerful corporate figures and industry figureheads.“Nowhere else can you listen to so many experts and leaders in their fields, and gain vital insights that can help boost your own business.”The first WTM World Travel Leaders debate and WTM World Travel Leaders Awards will take place on November 3 from 2.30-4pm on the WTM Global Stage. The second World Travel Leaders debate will be on November 4, from 3.30pm to 4.30pm in South Gallery 13 and 14.last_img read more

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Scoot to expand India operations with three new destinations

first_imgContinuing with its massive expansion plans, Scoot, the low-cost arm of the Singapore Airlines Group, plans to strengthen its presence in India with the addition of three new cities, namely Coimbatore, Trivandrum and Visakhapatnam. The new routes are due to be transferred over from sister airline, SilkAir, and Scoot will be the only airline operating direct non-stop flights from Trivandrum and Visakhapatnam to Singapore.Flights from Trivandrum to Singapore will commence from May 7, 2019, and flights from Coimbatore and Visakhapatnam will start from October 27, 2019, all subject to regulatory approval. In India, Scoot already operates seven existing routes from Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Lucknow and Tiruchirappalli.In 2018, Scoot had appointed Johanes Ong, General Manager India, to oversee and expand its business operations in India. The company has also appointed a General Sales Agent, Elements Aviation, since 2015.Vinod Kannan, Chief Commercial Officer, Scoot said, “With three new cities, India is a big part of our growth in Asia this year. As we ramp up our operations in the region and establish a local team to help support our long-term objectives, customers can look forward to more affordable fares and innovative offerings from us.”last_img read more

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Property Fraud Risk on the Rise in Q1

first_imgProperty Fraud Risk on the Rise in Q1 Risk of fraud in property valuations spiked in the first quarter, according to a report released Wednesday by a risk analytics firm.Interthinx reported a 1 percent decline in its national Mortgage Fraud Risk Index from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014, bringing the index’s value down to 100. The index measures fraud trends among loan applications analyzed by the company’s fraud detection tool.Three of the component indices—measuring identity fraud, occupancy fraud, and employment and income fraud—came down over the quarter. The remaining component, property valuation fraud, surged up 27 percent to an index value of 128.Analysts for Interthinx attribute the increase in valuation fraud risk to a rise in buyers purchasing and listing multiple properties in the same neighborhood.”By controlling those markets, these persons have the ability to artificially control the price of a property to their advantage,” the company said in its report. Another factor in the spike is an increase in properties “being appraised well above traditional valuation thresholds,” Interthinx added.Interthinx president Jeff Moyer called the rise in property valuation risk “troublesome,” as “collateral values are a critical element in making sound lending decisions.””To make lending decisions with increased confidence in the loan’s quality, we recommend that lenders use automated tools early in the valuation process to double check opinions of value, quality of work and regulatory compliance on issues such as licensing,” he said.In all fraud areas, California remained the riskiest state, bringing a Mortgage Fraud Risk Index of 146. The Golden State also has the dubious distinction of being home to eight of the 10 riskiest metro areas as well as eight of the 10 riskiest ZIP codes.Also ranking high in fraud risk were the District of Columbia, Florida, Arizona, and Connecticut. July 2, 2014 442 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, Newscenter_img Interthinx Mortgage Fraud Valuations 2014-07-02 Tory Barringer Sharelast_img read more

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Mortgage Professionals Weigh in On GSE WindDown

first_imgMortgage Professionals Weigh in On GSE Wind-Down in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News, Secondary Market December 8, 2014 446 Views As policymakers continue to mull over the possible dissolution of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a new survey shows industry professionals support the continued—albeit reduced—presence of the two mortgage giants in the market.In a report released Monday, the Collingwood Group said that 65 percent of lenders and other mortgage industry workers support the push for GSE reform, calling their current state of conservatorship under the Federal Housing Finance Agency unsustainable.At the same time, none of the survey respondents called for a wind-down or elimination of the GSEs, calling instead for administrative changes and the addressing of issues ranging from “aggressive put-back tactics” to the companies’ overwhelmingly dominant position in the market, which some firms see as the government crowding out the private sector.The Collingwood Group’s findings run counter to tactics taken by lawmakers like Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the heads of the Senate Banking Committee and authors of a bill designed to dissolve the GSEs and replace them with a government corporation that has a more limited role.Having passed a committee vote against the wishes of many Democrats, the Johnson-Crapo bill has yet to see a full Senate vote, despite support from the Obama administration. Critics of the legislation, including committee members Charles Schumer (D-New York), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), say it doesn’t do enough to provide affordable housing for lower-income Americans.While Washington continues to debate over the next step for Fannie and Freddie, the Collingwood Group reports that the two companies are making strides in improving their relationships in the mortgage industry. Sixty-seven percent of respondents in the firm’s survey indicated that Freddie Mac has become more supportive and responsive to lenders’ needs in the last year, while 63 percent said the same for Fannie Mae.”The industry’s perception of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s boost in performance over the last year is evidence of the fight for market share,” the Collingwood Group said. “It’s clear that the agencies are providing better service to customers in order to compete with each other and the private label market.”When asked about which factors most influence their decisions on which GSE to sell their loans to, nearly half of respondents cited price as the biggest point, with one anonymous respondent saying, “Amidst margin compression and rising expenses, we have to capture every basis point.”Twenty-four percent said the most important factor is which GSE offers better support for smaller lenders, while 22 percent were more concerned about rep and warrant relief and enforcement.center_img Collingwood Group Fannie Mae FHFA Freddie Mac Politics 2014-12-08 Tory Barringer Sharelast_img read more

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BofA Citi Disappoint on Earnings

first_img Bank of America Citigroup Justice Department Profits Settlements 2015-01-15 Seth Welborn Share January 15, 2015 430 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Newscenter_img BofA, Citi Disappoint on Earnings Settlements with the federal government for mortgage servicing misconduct led to sharp year-over-year declines for Citigroup and Bank of America in both fourth quarter and full-year net incomes in 2014, according to Q4 2014 and year-end earnings statements for both banks released on Thursday.Burdened by legal and related expenses and repositioning charges, Citigroup reported fourth quarter 2014 net earnings that were only a fraction of what they were in the same quarter a year earlier. Citigroup reported net earnings of $350 million on $17.8 billion in revenues for Q4 2014, way down from the net earnings of $2.5 billion the bank rolled in for Q4 2013 on the same revenues, $17.8 billion. Net income per diluted share fell from $0.77 in Q4 2013 all the way down to a mere $0.06 for Q4 2014 for Citigroup.Bank of America reported a relatively minor slowdown in the fourth quarter of 2014 with a net income of $3.1 billion on $19.0 billion in revenues compared to $3.4 billion on $21.7 billion in revenues in the same quarter of 2013.Both institutions had a rough year in 2014 on the regulatory side of things. In July, Citigroup settled with the Department of Justice for $7 billion over the sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities. A month later, Bank of America settled with the DOJ for a record $16.65 billion over similar matters. The money paid out in penalties and consumer relief in 2014 took a toll on year-end net incomes for both institutions.Citigroup’s full-year net income for 2014 was only slightly more than half of what it was for 2013—$7.3 billion in 2014 compared to $13.7 billion for 2013. Revenues were similar, and were actually slightly higher in 2014—$76.9 billion compared to $76.4 billion for 2013.”While the overall results for 2014 fell short of our expectations, we did make significant progress on our top priorities. During the year, we increased our market share among our target institutional clients, grew our core loan book, and improved both our net interest revenue and margin from 2013 levels,” said Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup. “For the first time since its establishment, Citi Holdings was profitable for the full year and we accelerated the utilization of our deferred tax assets. We strengthened our capital planning process and made Citi a safer and stronger institution, as evidenced by the increases to our capital, leverage and liquidity ratios. Although we made some difficult decisions over the course of the year, I believe they allowed us to put our franchise in a position to have a successful 2015.”Bank of America’s full-year net income was $4.8 billion for 2014, compared with $11.4 billion for 2013. Net income per diluted share fell from $0.90 in 2013 to $0.36 in 2014. Revenues for Bank of America dropped down to $85.1 billion in 2014, compared to $89.8 billion in 2013. On the positive side, the bank originated $15 billion in residential mortgage loans and home equity loans during Q4 2014, which helped approximately 41,000 homeowners purchase a home or refinance a mortgage.”In 2014, we continued to invest in our businesses while reducing expenses and resolving our most significant litigation matters,” Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said. “Last quarter, consumer deposits and loan originations were solid; wealth management client balances grew to $2.5 trillion; we increased lending to middle-market and large companies; and we retained a leadership position in investment banking. There’s more work and tremendous opportunity ahead as we improve on the platform we’ve built to serve our customers and clients, and we enter 2015 in good shape to manage both the opportunities and the challenges the markets and economy will offer.”last_img read more

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Chicago Bank Falls in Second Collapse of 2015

first_img in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News Bank Failure 2015-01-26 Tory Barringer Share Chicago Bank Falls in Second Collapse of 2015center_img A small Chicago bank became the second federally insured institution to close this year, regulators announced late Friday.Highland Community Bank, located in the city’s South Side, closed its doors over the weekend on orders from the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation’s banking division.Working as receiver, FDIC said it has entered into an arrangement with United Fidelity Bank in Evansville, Indiana, which has agreed to take on all of Highland Community Bank’s deposits and will purchase “essentially all” of the failed bank’s assets.As of the end of 2014, regulators estimate Highland Community Bank had approximately $53.5 million in deposits and $54.7 million in total assets.FDIC estimates the cost of the closing to its Deposit Insurance Fund will be about $5.8 million.Highland Community Bank is Illinois’ first closure so far this year. Despite a decline overall in annual bank closings, the state—and particularly the Chicago region—remains a hot spot for failed banks. Of the 18 institutions that shut down last year, five were in Illinois, and three of those were in or around Chicago. January 26, 2015 440 Views last_img read more

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Equifax Appoints New Leader

first_img Share August 11, 2017 589 Views Equifax Inc. recently announced an almost 20-year company veteran is now leading its marketing team.Laura Wilbanks was appointed as Equifax’s new Chief Marketing Officer, succeeding Trey Loughran, who recently assumed the role of President of United States Information Solutions (USIS).According to Richard F. Smith, Chairman, and CEO at Equifax, Wilbanks’ leadership experience with the company made her the right fit to take over this position.”Laura’s rich leadership experience with our company, her ability to respond to the changing marketplace, and her tremendous capacity for thoughtful, strategic engagement with our customers, make her the ideal candidate to continue to grow our world-class marketing team,” Smith said.Wilbanks first joined the company in 1998 as a business development lead for the telecommunications vertical. Just two years later, she was named VP of Equifax. Ever since Wilbanks has joined the company, she has continuously excelled in positions of increased responsibility, including, leadership roles in market development, market insights and planning, and product management.In 2013, Wilbanks was named SVP and Senior Marketing Officer of USIS, where she, most notably, transformed the general marketing approach by creating tailored industry vertical marketing teams to drive targeted go-to market approaches, which helped drive innovation to its highest level in USIS and resulted in one of the strongest USIS Vitality Indexes since its beginning.Prior to joining Equifax, Wilbanks worked in the telecommunications industry, first with Verizon, and followed by AT&T, where she held a number of leadership roles in channel marketing and sales management. Equifax Appoints New Leadercenter_img Chief Marketing Officer Company News Equifax HOUSING mortgage 2017-08-11 Nicole Casperson in Headlines, Newslast_img read more

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Jump in Mortgage Applications

first_img Share January 10, 2019 976 Views Jump in Mortgage Applications Freddie Mac Mortgage Applications 2019-01-10 Donna Josephcenter_img In its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, Freddie Mac revealed a significant drop in mortgage rates across the board, which in turn has led to an increase in the share of mortgage applications. “Mortgage rates fell to the lowest level in nine months, and in response, mortgage applications jumped more than 20 percent. Lower mortgage rates combined with continued income growth and lower energy prices are all positive indicators for consumers that should lead to a firming of home sales,” said Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac.For the week ending January 10, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged at 4.45 percent, a drop from an average of 4.51 percent the week prior. The 30-year FRM averaged 3.99 percent around the same period last year. The 15-year FRM averaged at 3.89 percent, dropping from 3.99 percent the previous week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.44 percent.The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) reflected an average of 3.83 percent with an average 0.3 point—down from last week when it averaged 3.98 percent. Around the same period a year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.46 percent.Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.“Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey,” the report indicated.  in Daily Dose, Featured, Market Studies, Origination, Servicinglast_img read more

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July 17 2019

first_imgJuly 17 , 2019 You might also be interested in “We appreciate the emphasis the Administration has placed on resolving agriculture’s ongoing labor challenges, and their efforts to incorporate feedback from agricultural employers into the proposed H-2A reforms,” Nassif said.”While we encourage swift implementation of these important modernizations to the agricultural guest worker program, we also urge Congress to codify these changes into law as we have seen previous regulatory progress reversed by ensuing administrations.”Furthermore, legislation will be required to address the pressing need agricultural employers have to retain their existing workforce.”U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Monday: “The proposed rule will increase access to a reliable legal agricultural workforce, easing unnecessary burdens on farmers, increase enforcement against fraud and abuse, all while maintaining protections for America’s workers.”When this rule goes into effect, our farmers will be released from unnecessary and burdensome regulations allowing them to do what they do best.” NZKGI hails success of labor shortage declaration … Western Growers president and CEO Tom Nassif has urged the U.S. Administration to quickly implement the recently published proposals for the H-2A reforms.The H-2A program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the country to fill temporary agricultural jobs. According to the USDA, the proposed changes would “modernize the Department’s H-2A regulations in a way that is responsive to stakeholder concerns and enhances employer access to a legal source of agricultural labor”.Proposals include updating the way wage rates are determined, streamlining and simplifying the application process, strengthening protections for U.S. and foreign workers, and easing burdens on employers.last_img read more