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Pope calls Palestinian leader angel of peace during visit

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first_img Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober How men can have a healthy 2019 Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The Vatican said it had expressed “great satisfaction” over the new treaty during the talks with the Palestinian delegation. It said the pope, and later the Vatican secretary of state, also expressed hopes that direct peace talks with Israel would resume.“To this end, the wish was reiterated that with the support of the international community, Israelis and Palestinians may take with determination courageous decisions to promote peace,” a Vatican statement said.It added that interreligious dialogue was needed to combat terrorism.Israel didn’t comment on Francis’ “angel of peace” compliment but complained that Abbas was using the trip to score political points.“It is regrettable that Mahmoud Abbas uses international forums to attack Israel and refrains from returning to negotiations which is the right way to implement a political vision and a solution of peace,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.Israel earlier had expressed its “disappointment” that the Vatican officially recognized the state of Palestine in the treaty, which covers the activities of the Catholic Church in Palestinian territory. Francis said he thought the gift was appropriate since “you are an angel of peace.” During his 2014 visit to Israel and the West Bank, Francis called both Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres men of peace.Abbas is in Rome for the canonization Sunday of two 19th-century nuns from what was then Ottoman-ruled Palestine. The new saints, Mariam Bawardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, are the first from the region to be canonized since the early days of Christianity.Church officials are holding up the new saints as a sign of hope and encouragement for Christians in the Middle East at a time when violent persecution from Islamic extremists has driven many Christians from the region of Christ’s birth.In a statement Saturday, Abbas praised the two new saints as inspirational models for today’s Palestinians and urged their fellow Christians to remain in the region.“We call on Palestinian Christians to stay with us and enjoy the rights of full and equal citizenship, and bear with us the difficulties of life until we achieve liberty, sovereignty and human dignity,” he said.Abbas’ visit comes days after the Vatican finalized a bilateral treaty with the “state of Palestine” that made explicit its recognition of Palestinian statehood. VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis praised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as an “angel of peace” during a meeting Saturday at the Vatican that underscored the Holy See’s warm relations with the Palestinians as it prepares to canonize two 19th century nuns from the region.Francis made the compliment during the traditional exchange of gifts at the end of an official audience in the Apostolic Palace. He presented Abbas with a medallion and explained that it represented the “angel of peace destroying the bad spirit of war.” Check your body, save your life ___Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfieldCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi meets Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at Chigi Palace in Rome, Friday, May 15, 2015. Abbas is on a two-day visit to Rome where he will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday. The meeting with the pontiff will come after the Vatican’s official recognition of the State of Palestine in a new treaty finalized Wednesday. (Giuseppe Lami/ANSA via AP) ITALY OUTlast_img read more

Lithuanian power grid has dark secret buried in Soviet past

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first_imgThe issue has touched a raw nerve in a country that has been accused of not confronting the role some Lithuanians played in killing Jews during the 1941-44 Nazi occupation. More than 90 percent of Lithuania’s prewar Jewish population of 240,000 was killed.With Jewish life all but eradicated from Vilnius, Jewish cemeteries were seen as “easily accessible and free building material” during the Soviet era, said Jurgita Verbickiene, a historian at Vilnius University.Ethnic and religious groups were repressed along with political dissidents amid Moscow’s efforts to unite the vast empire under the banner of communism.In the Soviet Union there were no Jews because there was just one people — the Soviet people — explained Rachel Kostanian, deputy director of the Jewish State Museum in Vilnius.“It was a friendship between the Lithuanians, Latvians, Ukrainians, Russians, et cetera,” she said. “The Jews were among the et cetera.”___Associated Press journalist David Keyton contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Archaeologists confirmed this week that the electrical substation was built with tombstones pilfered from a Jewish cemetery.Vilinius Mayor Remigijus Simasius told the AP he’s already asked the utility companies that own the substation, which feeds electricity to thousands of homes, to find a way to move them to a “proper resting place.”The discovery raised uncomfortable questions over how many other structures were built with recycled Jewish tombstones and why the issue is gaining attention only now, 25 years after Lithuania declared independence.The substation is not the first example. In the 1990s, authorities removed steps leading up to the Tauro hill, one of the highest points in Vilnius, after finding out they were made with stones taken from a Jewish graveyard.The mayor said two other cases are being investigated: the steps leading up to the Reformed Evangelical Church in Vilnius — which was turned into a movie theater by the communists — and a wall outside a high school in the city.“This Soviet-era legacy is a disgrace for our city,” Simasius said. “Monuments must be respected. We are talking to the Jewish community to find a proper solution.” Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Giedrius Sakalauskas always thought there was something strange about the graffiti-sprayed, bunker-like structure in a leafy area outside the center of Vilnius.Why build an electrical substation with granite blocks instead of regular bricks?When he examined the building more carefully this month, he made a chilling discovery: Dozens of stones had inscriptions in Hebrew or Yiddish. “I touched the stones and I realized that they’re really gravestones,” Sakalauskas told The Associated Press. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Men’s health affects baby’s health too Comments   Share   In this photo taken on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, Shmuel Levin, the Chairperson of the Jewish religious Community of Vilnius and Lithuania, looks at the power substation built of tombstones from a Jewish cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania. Tombstones from a Jewish cemetery were used to build a power substation in the 1960s. City officials now want to tear it down and return the tombstones to Lithuania’s tiny Jewish community, which was nearly wiped out during the Holocaust. They’re also investigating whether there are other examples of Jewish tombstones being used as building material during the Soviet occupation, when the communist authorities paid little attention to religious symbols. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis) Check your body, save your life And he had strong hunch about where they came from: Across the street there used to be a Jewish cemetery that was demolished in the 1960s when Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union. Sakalauskas posted pictures of his discovery on social media, setting off an emotional discussion about a dark chapter in Lithuania’s history that didn’t end when a Nazi occupation was replaced by a Soviet one in 1944.Lithuania’s once-vibrant Jewish community was nearly annihilated by the Nazis and the few who survived found little sympathy from their new communist rulers.“Hitler wanted to destroy Jews physically,” said Simonas Gurevicius, whose family escaped the Holocaust by fleeing to Russia and returned to Lithuania after the war. “Stalin came, and he wanted to destroy the whole memory of the Jewish people, making sure that nothing will stay.”The etchings on the substation are hard to spot unless you know what you are looking for. They’re only visible in the gaps where the slabs overlay each other.Showing the site to AP journalists, Gurevicius ran his fingers softly over the letters.“For sure, this is a very sad feeling. It’s difficult to read now,” he said.last_img read more

Six Senses to rebrand and extend reach

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first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X With the global recovery well and truly in place, Six Senses is looking to completely rehaul their branding to consolidate underneath two main brands as well as extend its reach beyond Asia.In terms of new development, a brand new property is currently being built in Morocco and the hospitality group has revealed to e-Travel Blackboard that it is also close to signing a new property in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  In addition to this, while no contract has yet been signed, Greece will be the next international destination for the hospitality brand, we can reveal.“We feel very much like the worst is behind us… You’ll see the rebranding process unfold from September/October,” said Florian Preuss, Six Senses Resorts & Spas MD Sales and Marketing.“Simplicity is the key to this relaunch, less names, simpler brands.”e-Travel Blackboard understands there will be two “mother brands” for Six Senses, likely revolving around the current Six Senses and Soneva brands that are already established in the industry. To spread their message the members from head office along with local representatives are this week hosting roadshows around Australia, with Sydney, Melbourne and Perth being the recipients of cocktail events.Soneva Kiri in Thailand which has just opened, Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives coming late this year, and Six Senses Con Dao in Vietnam coming early next year are the three brands of focus for the Roadshow.For more images from the Sydney event click here. The Six Senses team (L-R): Harry, Gill, Florian, Kristen and Ryolast_img read more

Jetstar targeting China

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first_imgJetstar Airways has hinted that it wants to expand its operations into China but has stated that it was not yet ready to service direct flights to the Asian nation. Until growth in the oil and gas industries in northern Australia was able to supply passengers for direct services, any connections to China would be through Singapore, NTNews.com.au reported. According to the website, to cope with anticipated traffic numbers Darwin International Airport would also require an upgrade. Jetstar’s chief executive David Hall said that although the low cost carrier’s dispute with the airport over passenger landing fees had been settled, the airline would still be looking for a better deal as it brought more passengers through Darwin. The carrier, which began a three-times-a-week service to Manila last Wednesday, has become the largest low-cost carrier in South-East Asia, NT News reported. Although its fleet of A320 jets could fly directly to southern China, Jetstar Asia chief executive Phit Lian Chong said any services from the Northern Territory to China could include a stopover, which would double its flying range. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

Record domestic visitors at Sydney Airport

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first_imgSydney Airport delivered record traffic in January, welcoming a 4.4 percent boost in domestic travel up from 1,896,000 in January 2010 to 1,980,000 this year. The post Christmas month also saw an increase of four percent in international visitors passing through the airport to 1,141,000 from 1,097,000 the same period last year. Map chief executive Kerrie Mather contributed Sydney Airport’s results to added flight frequency over the period. “This was the best month ever for traffic and best January on record for domestic traffic,” Ms Mather said in an online statement. “International traffic growth was driven by capacity increases from Qantas, United Airlines, China Southern and Air New Zealand in particular.” Tourism from China saw the largest growth in Sydney, with up a 66 percent increase in visitors. Ms Mather said the increase from China was pushed by “capacity increase from Chinese Airlines, the recent Amway China Conference for more than 8,000 delegates in NSW and pre-Chinese New Year travel”.While Sydney saw added visitors from Korea and India by percent and the UK by one percent, popular destinations like the US saw a four percent drop as well as a three percent decrease in travellers from New Zealand. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Hayman shut down after cyclones Yasi Anthony

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first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Hayman Island announced it has cancelled new and existing bookings to the resort over 6 March to and including 31 July 2011 as it recovers from damage caused by Cyclones Anthony and Yasi. Whilst initial investigations reported aesthetic harm after the cyclone passed on 30 January to 2 February this year, a special assessment found rebuilding work will impact guests. “The two devastating cyclones that swept through Queensland have unfortunately not spared us,” Hayman Head of Hotel Investments managing director Lloyd Donaldson said. “The works will encompass key guest and accommodation areas, activity facilities, essential infrastructure, landscaping and grounds throughout the island,” Mr Donaldson said. Guests booked to holiday on the island are being contact directly and are receiving assistance as they rearrange their holidays. “We greatly appreciate the understanding of our guests, industry partners and the wider community with respect to the challenges caused by these two cyclones,” Mr Donaldson said.“We will be retaining all staff throughout the period of closure and are committed to completing the works speedily.  The resort will reopen on 1 August 2011.”last_img read more

UK must act now to attract Chinese tourists

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first_imgWith Chinese tourists projected to spend £2 billion on travel over the next 12 months, the United Kingdom must act quickly to avoid losing its share of this market to rival European nations.The United Kingdom has a window of no more than six months to “get back in the game” of attracting the massive Chinese tourism market “or risk losing out to European rivals Italy and France forever”, according to Travelzoo Asia-Pacific chief executive Jason Yap.The reasoning behind the six month deadline is that Chinese consumers are currently in the midst of planning their October National Day holidays and Chinese New Year vacations.France and Italy have completely overtaken the UK in terms of Chinese arrival figures.“The visa process is too complicated and laborious for Chinese tourists and the UK isn’t offering good enough packages to beat key European competitors such as France, Italy and Switzerland,” Mr Yap said.The Travelzoo boss issued a manifesto to the UK Government on how to attract Chinese visitors.Included in the eight-step process are proposals that Britain should join the Schengen scheme, generate Chinese language visa application forms, create multi-destination itineraries, promote ‘heritage trails’ for educational institutions, encourage car-hire driving routes, be fashion forward, export British culture to China and innovate dynamic training programs.“The UK cannot rest on its laurels and just hope that visitors will come,” Mr Yap said. “When you consider that a 25 percent growth in visitors from China to the UK brought in an estimated additional £300 million to the UK economy in 2012, there is the potential for an inbound tourism bonanza.”Source = ETB News: P.T. Travelzoo boss delivers manifesto to UK Government.last_img read more

SilkAir teams with Virgins Velocity

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first_imgPassengers may redeem points for Reward Seats or Any Seat up to 331 days in advance on any SilkAir-operated services, while Velocity’s Gold and Platinum will be able to use their Elite Benefits, including priority check-in, priority boarding and complimentary lounge access. Velocity members will have the ability to earn or redeem points on the SilkAir network across Southeast Asia, India and China from 10 October 2013. Virgin Australia has frequent flyer partnerships with Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, airberlin, Vincent Aviation, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Samoa and Virgin America. Singapore’s SilkAir has partnered with Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program, building on the existing relationship with the regional carrier’s parent company, Singapore Airlines.center_img “Asia is a very important market for business and leisure travellers and we now offer the ability to earn points and status credits to more destinations than ever before,” Velocity Frequent Flyer chief executive Neil Thompson said. Source = ETB News: P.T.last_img read more

Singapore Airlines to boost Paris services to 10 times weekly

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first_img0710 Days of Operation Monday, Thursday, Saturday 1100 Flight Number 0930 SQ334 Singapore-Paris (New) 0230 1800 Source = Singapore Airlines 0010 Time of Departurecenter_img 1340 (+1) SQ336 Singapore-Paris SQ333 Paris-Singapore (New) Singapore Airlines to boost Paris services to 10 times weeklySingapore Airlines (SIA) will be increasing flight frequency to France’s capital city Paris to 10 per week from the current seven during the Northern Winter operating season (29 October 2017 to 24 March 2018).The three additional flights will operate on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport as SQ334 (Singapore-Paris) and SQ333 (Paris-Singapore), starting 30 October 2017. The additional flights will complement the current daily SQ336 (Singapore-Paris) and SQ335 (Paris-Singapore) services.The additional flights as well as the seven existing flights will be operated with Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, rather than Airbus A380-800s which currently serve the Paris route.The 777-300ERs are fitted with 264 seats, of which four are in First Class, 48 in Business Class, 28 in Premium Economy Class and 184 in Economy Class.The additional flights are subject to regulatory approvals. Tickets will be made available for sale progressively through the various distribution channels.Flight Schedules: Monday, Thursday, Saturday Time of Arrival Daily SQ335 Paris-Singapore 0640 (+1) Dailylast_img read more

AccorHotels scoop major wins at the HM Awards

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first_imgAccorHotels scoop major wins at the HM AwardsAccorHotels scoop major wins at the HM AwardsAustralia and New Zealand’s largest hotel operator, AccorHotels, has collected 11 coveted award wins at the 2017 HM Awards for Hotel and Accommodation Excellence held at Sydney Town Hall on Friday night (1 September). The night ended on a high note with Simon McGrath, AccorHotels’ Chief Operating Officer Pacific, being honoured as HM Magazine Australian Hotelier of the Year.ibis Adelaide was crowned Economy Property of the Year, marking its second win in this category, whilst the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour took home New Zealand Hotel of the Year. AccorHotels CSR efforts were also acknowledged as the company claimed the Service to the Community accolade for Race to Survive Fiji.Highly commended Awards were issues to AccorHotels (Hotel Chain of the Year), along with Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains MGallery by Sofitel (Regional Property) and Novotel Barossa Valley Resort (Environmental Program).AccorHotels prevailed in the People Award categories with the coveted Rising Star Award going to Marty Lamont from Ibis Budget, whilst the Communications Associate of the Year category was taken home by AccorHotels Pacific Communication team; Ginni Post, Angela Cowley and Madeline Georgiadis.Other wins of the night included; Nancye Pirini, Novotel Auckland Airport (Hotel Chef of the Year), Tat Wai Ho, Mercure Sydney International Airport (Finance Associate of the Year), Richard Phillips, Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort (Hotel Engineer of the Year) and Philip Hilton, Novotel and ibis Wellington (New Zealand General Manager of the Year)The following individuals were acknowledged as highly commended; Joleen Hurst, Mercure Sydney Parramatta (Australian General Manager) Josh Askew, Swissotel Sydney (Hotel Chef) Aleisha Zuvela, Fairmont Blue Mountains (HR Associate), Barbara Liu, Pullman Sydney Airport (Finance Associate), Chris James, Sofitel Auckland (Revenue Management Associate), Julie Lang, Mercure Penrith (Front Office Associate),Chief Operating Officer AccorHotels Pacific, Simon McGrath, said “We are honoured to have received such an outstanding array of accolades at this year’s HM Awards. Last year we celebrated our 25th year of operation in Australia and we are so proud of how far we have come. We pride ourselves on our customer service and the customer journey, and it is our employees that make AccorHotels such a special place to work and it is great to see so many of our staff recognised at this year’s awards”.The annual HM Awards acknowledge, reward and celebrate the enormous achievements which exemplify excellence in performance and service within the hospitality industry across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. For a full list of Award winners visit www.hmawards.com.auSource = AccorHotelslast_img read more

Korean Air introduces flights to Croatia

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first_imgKorean Air A330Korean Air introduces flights to CroatiaKorean Air will expand its network to Europe with the launch of a direct scheduled service between Seoul, South Korea and Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.Starting from September 1, 2018*, Korean Air will commence the direct service three times a week (Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday), flying between Seoul/Incheon to Zagreb. The flight from Seoul/Incheon to Zagreb (flight number KE919) will depart Seoul/Incheon at 11:05 and arrive in Zagreb at 15:45 the same day. On the return from Zagreb to Seoul/Incheon (KE920), it will depart from Zagreb at 17:20 and arrive in Seoul/Incheon at 11:30 the next day. Korean Air’s new Seoul/Incheon-Zagreb route will be operated with an Airbus 330-200, seating 218 passengers.The launch of the new Korean Air route is the first regular service connecting Croatia and Asia directly.Korean Air have operated charter flights from Seoul to Zagreb since 2010, and the number of Korean visitors to Croatia have steadily risen every year; a Korean TV travel program featuring Croatia and first shown in 2013, is considered influential in first inspiring leisure travelers to the Eastern European country.Located in Northwest of Croatia, Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of Croatia. It has rich history and culture dating back to Roman times. The other prominent tourist destinations are Dubrovnik, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Trogir, a historic town and harbor on the Adriatic coast. In addition, Plitvice Lakes National Park is world-famous for one of the oldest and largest national park in Croatia with 16 lakes and 90 waterfalls.With the addition of the new route, Korean Air will operate international flights to 111 cities in 43 countries.Source = Korean Airlast_img read more

Highway between Delhi and Jaipur to be completed by December 2015

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first_imgThe key national highway connecting Jaipur with the national capital would be completed by December. It was facing delays of over four years primarily due to land acquisition issues.This highway would reduce present travel time from 6-7 hours to 3 hours between the two cities, said Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road and Highways, Government of India.The road ministry is also considering a proposal to build a 261 km greenfield expressway between Delhi and Jaipur at an estimated cost of Rs 32,800 crore. It has also carried out a feasibility study for the project, which will require the state agencies to acquire 2,800 hectares of land. “We are studying the feasibility report. The proposal is under consideration,” Gadkari said.As per the estimate, land acquisition is estimated to cost about Rs 18,000 crore. The proposed alignment would take off in the northwest direction at existing national highway-8 near the IGI airport and end at the same stretch on the Jaipur bypass near Daulatpura. With land being a sensitive issue and difficult to acquire from farmers, the proposed expressway is expected to face many challenges before actual work begins. “Apart from this, there are many other challenges like getting investment and recovering it over a reasonable time frame. The government needs to come out with more innovative concepts for expressways in the Indian context,” Vishwas Udgirkar, Senior Director at consultancy firm Deloitte, said.Seeking to decongest traffic on NH-8 near Manesar, the minister announced the launch of the country’s first ‘Metrino’ project between Manesar and Dhaula Kuan. The project could be started in the coming years on pilot basis and could cost Rs 4,000 crore. Metrino refers to a transport system in which pods, fully automatic driverless vehicles, are suspended under an overhead network. The overhead network in the Manesar- Dhaula Kuan project is proposed to be laid on the median of the highway stretch. Terming the transport concept as revolutionary, the minister said that there will be 700 air-conditioned electric pods and each pod will have a capacity of 5-7 passengers.last_img read more

IMC to establish a task force for state government to draft Medical

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first_imgGrowing at 20-25% per annum, the Medical Tourism industry in India is one of the fastest growing healthcare markets across the globe and has caught the attention of several healthcare and hospitality providers. Medical tourists from Asia, GCC, Africa and the SAARC regions are increasingly opting for India as the preferred destination for advances medical treatments and services.“Maharashtra aims to become the No. 1 destination for Medical Tourism through state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, well-trained medical professionals and low cost of delivery as compared to cities like Tamil Nadu and Delhi,” said Valsa Nair, Principal Secretary- Tourism and Culture, Government of Maharashtra at her address at the Medical Tourism Conclave, organised by the IMC Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Mumbai.Speaking at the conclave, she said, “Medical Tourism in India is seen as the next crown jewel that could shape the future of India’s economy and health care. The Indian Medical Tourism industry is expected to grow from current $ 3 million to $ 8 billion attracting medical tourists from Bangladesh, Iraq, GCC, CIS region and Africa. Our objective is to provide infrastructure, hospitals and medical facilities in Pune, Nagpur and other centers around the state.”Maharashtra is planning to create a single web platform which will provide plethora of services and facilities to the global patients seeking assistance in India. With 100% FDI in medical and devices sector, it will further give a boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative.As a Medical Tourism destination, India is known for high-class treatment at affordable costs. The country’s cost benefit gives it a definite edge over other countries like Singapore and Malaysia. Medical treatment in India enables savings of 30-70% on total expenditure.Deepak Premnarayen, President, IMC, said, “Apart from the Medical Tourism Council, the IMC Chamber of Commerce & Industry is also looking into creating a task force which will put together its suggestions for drafting the necessary and appropriate policies for the promotion of Medical Tourism in the state. While there are several challenges such as adequate insurance, complaint resolution mechanism, safety regulations, norms governing malpractices etc; the state also presents several opportunities which the government can extend its support to. We will also evaluate more engagement and associations with partner countries to provide a fillip to this growing industry.”Leading doctors like Dr S Natarajan, CMD, Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital; Dr Darius Soonawala, Orthopedic & Joint Replacement Surgeon, Jaslok Hospital; Dr Vinay Jacob, Cosmetologist, Bombay Hospital; and Dr Sumit Pal, Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgeon, Apollo Hospital; Rajiv Duggal, CEO, Lavassa Hospitality; Devendra Bharma, EVP, Oberoi Hotels; Dr Hidayat Khan, CMD, Human Care Air Ambulance; and Dr Parag Rindani, AVP & Head, Wockhardt Hospital participated in the panel discussions during the conference.India currently garners no more than a minuscule percentage of the world medical tourists contributing to less than 0.1% of the nation’s GDP. With a concerted effort India can target a GDP share of 2% from medical tourism. However, lack of unified pricing, visa policies and the tussle between public and private hospitals present a challenge which needs to be addressed.last_img read more

Maharashtra government approves filmcentric entertainment destination by Mahindra Group

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first_imgTo lure more travellers to Mumbai and to make it a tourism hotspot, Maharashtra government has approved a film-centric entertainment destination to be developed by the Mahindra Group at an investment of INR 1,900 crore in a suburb of Mumbai.The project will be Bollywood themed and will be developed on 82,950.5 sqm area which belongs to Mahindra Group in Kandivali, according to a recent Government Resolution (GR).The project was initiated by a high-powered government committee earlier this year. The project will employ over 750 people and would require a capital of 500 crore. It will be completed in 84 months. According to the GR, the project fulfils all the criteria hence, will be initiated as the ultra-mega project status. Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra Group had said they were exploring to set up a unique film-centric entertainment destination on their land at Kandivali as Mumbai is the heart of Hindi film industry. He also confirmed the project will open the way for hundreds of direct and indirect employment opportunities.last_img read more

Air Tanzania strengthens ties with India launches direct flight from Mumbai to

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first_imgAir Tanzania, the national carrier of the United Republic of Tanzania has launched a direct flight from Mumbai to Dar Es Salaam on July 18, 2019. The flight will fly thrice every week on Monday, Thursday and Saturday and is targeted to provide the convenience of travel to two major tourist groups from India, leisure and business travellers. Departing from Mumbai at 5:50 hours, the flight will arrive in Tanzania at 9:40 hours in the morning. On its return journey, the flight will depart from Tanzania at 19:30 hours, arriving in Mumbai at 4:20 hours. The launch of the direct flight is Air Tanzania’s a bold step to strengthen tourism ties between the two nations. India is one of the key tourism markets for Tanzania, ranking fifth in terms of tourist arrivals to the country. Tanzania, being home to one of the largest Indian communities in Africa also receives many Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFRs), alongside business travellers. With direct connectivity from India’s major business hub, Tanzania is expecting visitor arrivals to reach 1.8 lakh or more. Speaking at the launch, Eng. Ladislaus Matindi, Managing Director & CEO of Air Tanzania expressed that the airlines is very delighted to launch the flight in the presence of Indian travel agents and media. He added, “It gives us a great pleasure to launch our flight to Mumbai, India. This new service would significantly strengthen the tourism flow and the trade relation between the two countries. To serve the significant volume of traffic with high-quality service, we have deployed a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on this route for the betterment of our esteemed passengers. Our focus areas would be the safety of our customers, customer satisfaction, best-in-class hospitality, on-time service, hassle-free booking and affordable fares. We are optimistic to see a huge number of people travelling to both countries by Air Tanzania since we rank to be the airline of choice soon and not later.” He also revealed that very soon Air Tanzania will be flying a famous Indian film star as a part of its promotion in India. Eight Bollywood celebrities are also expected to travel by Air Tanzania soon. Air Tanzania hopes to connect its passengers to Bukoba, Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Iringa, Mbeya, Mwanza, Tabora, Zanzibar, Bujumbura, Mtwara, Hahaya, Entebbe, Lusaka, Harare, Kigoma and Johannesburg through its hub in Dar Es Salaam. With the launch of the direct flight, Air Tanzania endeavours to bring more and more Indian tourists to the beautiful country in the coming days.last_img read more

Fannie Freddie Release New HARP 20 Guidelines

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first_imgFreddie,Fannie, Freddie Release New HARP 2.0 Guidelines Agents & Brokers Appraisals Attorneys & Title Companies Bank of America Barack Obama Citigroup Fannie Mae FHFA Fixed-Rate Mortgage Freddie Mac HARP Housing Affordability Investors JPMorgan Chase Lenders & Servicers Loan-to-Value Ratio Processing Refinance Service Providers Top Stories of 2011 Underwriting Standards Wells Fargo 2011-11-15 Ryan Schuette Share in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicingcenter_img November 15, 2011 445 Views The same day that lawmakers deluged the GSEs and their regulator with criticism, “”Fannie Mae””:http://fanniemae.com/portal/index.html and “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ finally released guidelines Tuesday for lenders and servicers about modifications to the “”Home Affordable Refinance Program””:http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/programs/lower-rates/Pages/harp.aspx (HARP).[IMAGE]The Obama administration ended weeks of speculation when it announced the modifications ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô specific to HARP 2.0, as dubbed by the media ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô in October.Changes for the program included an end to the 125-percent loan-to-value ratio cap for refinancing homeowners, the elimination of risk-based fees for short-term borrowers, and an extension for HARP until December 2013.New guidelines effectively took lenders and servicers off the hook by nixing their legal culpability for problems with original loans once homeowners refinance with the GSEs.[COLUMN_BREAK]Freddie Mac more specifically offered freedom from liability to lenders whose borrowers refinance their loans with LTVs above 80 percent.The changes also preclude any liability for lenders whose refinancing borrowers maintain properties below their value or at risk for any poor conditions, pending new appraisals.More than 800,000 homeowners have refinanced their government-backed mortgages through HARP since the program opened its doors in early 2009.Industry reactions have largely been favorable to the HARP changes announced by the “”Federal Housing Finance Agency””:http://www.fhfa.gov/ some weeks ago.In October the nation’s four largest lenders ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô including “”Bank of America””:https://www.bankofamerica.com/, “”Citigroup””:http://www.citigroup.com/citi/homepage/, “”JPMorgan Chase””:http://www.jpmorganchase.com/corporate/Home/home.htm, and “”Wells Fargo””:https://www.wellsfargo.com/ ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô all signed on to participate in HARP 2.0.The “”Mortgage Bankers Association””:http://mbaa.org/default.htm (MBA) welcomed modifications to the program in a related October statement.””The mortgage industry welcomes these changes designed to help more underwater borrowers who are current on their mortgages refinance at today’s historically low interest rates,”” “”David Stevens””:http://www.mbaa.org/DavidStevens.htm, MBA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “”Not only will these changes allow more borrowers to qualify, but they will streamline the process and reduce the cost to borrowers and should lessen risk for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.””These changes alone should encourage lenders to more actively participate in HARP,”” he added.last_img read more

Mortgage Fraud Risk Report Shows Fraud is a Problem Defined by Geography

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first_img Share in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Mortgage Fraud Risk Report Shows Fraud is a Problem Defined by Geography Interthinx released its quarterly Mortgage Fraud Risk Report, revealing that the National Mortgage Fraud Risk Index is 101 for Q4 2014, a 3 percent increase from the last quarter and the exact same as last year. Trends at the state, MSA, and ZIP-code levels reveal fraud triggers, according to Interthinx.Interthinx provides complete risk mitigation solutions for the financial services industry and is a subsidiary of First American Financial Corporation. The Mortgage Fraud Risk Report provides knowledge about current trends in the home buying market through the analysis of millions of loan applications that are gathered from the industry’s use of the Interthinx FraudGUARD, a loan-level fraud detection tool.”Consumers should know that the mortgage industry is focused on making lending safer and fraud free, and taking dramatic steps to prevent bad actors from stealing identities and perpetrating mortgage fraud in all its forms,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American Financial Corporation. “I don’t expect fraud risk to rise much in the year ahead because tougher underwriting standards have made it more difficult and more risky for bad actors to perpetrate fraud.”Fleming also adds that there has been a large decline since 2013 in employment and income related fraud due to the implementation of QM and the Ability-to-Repay rules, which is causing underwriters to pay much closer attention to employment and income statements in mortgage applications.Although the National Mortgage Fraud Risk Index is up from the last quarter, mortgage fraud risk has become more scattered across the country, proving that the culprits monitor and target economic and market changes for opportunities. California and Florida have shown ample opportunity to commit mortgage fraud due to the area having plenty of distressed properties and borrowers. The Northeast remains high at risk and is increasing in parts of New York. Energy dependent regions such as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and the Dakotas demand careful monitoring as mortgage fraud risk rises.“Clearly, mortgage fraud is a crime of economic opportunism, the nature of which serves to remind our industry that state, MSA, and ZIP code trends can be more directly linked to cause and effect than the national trends,” said Jeff Moyer, president of Interthinx.center_img May 5, 2015 478 Views First American Financial Corporation Interthinx Mortgage Fraud Risk Report National Mortgage Fraud Risk Index 2015-05-05 Staff Writerlast_img read more

FHA Reduces Mortgage Insurance Premiums

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first_img Share January 9, 2017 1,596 Views FHA Homeownership HUD Mortgage Insurance Premiums 2017-01-09 Seth Welborn For the first time in two years, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has lowered its annual mortgage insurance premiums paid by most borrowers in an effort to expand homeownership and save money for existing borrowers, according to an announcement from FHA on Monday.FHA reduced the mortgage insurance premium by 25 basis points for most new mortgages with a closing or disbursement date on or after January 27, 2017.It has been widely speculated in the industry recently that the Obama Administration would reduce the premiums one last time as it nears its final days and the current HUD leadership’s days appear to be numbered.As the Obama Administration sought to reduce risk in the market in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the FHA raised its mortgage insurance premiums several times in an effort to stabilize its Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) Fund. The result was higher capital reserves for the Fund but increased credit costs to qualified borrowers.The FHA last reduced its mortgage insurance premiums in January 2015. At that time, the reduction was 50 basis points. The move drew some heavy criticism because at the time, the MMI Fund’s capital ratio was at 0.41 percent, less than one-quarter of the Congressionally-mandated 2 percent threshold. Since 2012, however, the fund has gained $44 billion in value and is now at 2.32 percent, above the level required by Congress.With the MMIF at an economically healthy level and borrowers facing higher mortgage rates in the coming year, HUD Secretary Julián Castro said he believes that this was the right time to reduce mortgage insurance premiums again.“After four straight years of growth and with sufficient reserves on hand to meet future claims, it’s time for FHA to pass along some modest savings to working families,” Castro said. “This is a fiscally responsible measure to price our mortgage insurance in a way that protects our insurance fund while preserving the dream of homeownership for credit-qualified borrowers.”The reduction announced on Monday takes insurance premium levels back down to near pre-crisis levels, according to FHA. The move is expected to save homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages approximately $500 per year. FHA predicts that the reduction will lower the cost of housing for approximately 1 million borrowers who are expected to use FHA-insured financing to either buy a home or refinance a mortgage over the next year.“We’ve carefully weighed the risks associated with lower premiums with our historic mission to provide safe and sustainable mortgage financing to responsible homebuyers,” said Ed Golding, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for HUD’s Office of Housing. “Homeownership is the way most middle class Americans build wealth and achieve financial security for themselves and their families. This conservative reduction in our premium rates is an appropriate measure to support them on their path to the American dream.”The National Association of Realtors (NAR) praised the FHA’s decision to lower mortgage insurance premiums.“FHA mortgage products exist to serve an important mission: providing homeownership opportunities to creditworthy borrowers who are overlooked by conventional lenders,” said NAR President William E. Brown. “The high cost of mortgage insurance has unfortunately put those opportunities out of reach for many young, first-time- and lower-income borrowers. Now, we have a real opportunity to get back on track.”Brown continued, “This is a question of simple math. Every time we cut the cost of mortgage insurance it means more borrowers meet the debt-to-income ratio required to purchase a home. It follows that dropping mortgage insurance premiums today will mean a whole lot more responsible borrowers are suddenly eligible to purchase a home through FHA. That puts more money in the fund to protect taxpayers, and it puts more families in homes so they can live out the American dream.”Click here to read FHA’s mortgagee letter, which includes a full schedule of the new mortgage insurance premium rates.center_img in Daily Dose, Government, News, Origination FHA Reduces Mortgage Insurance Premiumslast_img read more

HouseCanary Announces Valuation and Appraisal Solution

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first_imgHouseCanary Announces Valuation and Appraisal Solution in Data, Headlines, News HouseCanary 2017-10-16 Brianna Gilpin October 16, 2017 590 Views center_img HouseCanary, a provider of modern valuation and appraisal solutions, recently announced the release of its regression modeling program that is built directly into HouseCanary’s appraisal software, allowing residential appraisers to easily make data-driven adjustments.The new technology will help appraisers work in a more timely manner with greater credibility. HouseCanary said that as the appraisal industry moves away from paired sales analysis as a one-size-fits-all approach, HouseCanary’s regression software will help to make objective, data-driven, comparable sales adjustments. This will allow for appraisers to easily identify which property features are most important for estimating a home’s value and instantly apply a suggested adjustment based on HouseCanary’s rigorous statistical models.“HouseCanary’s regression modeling makes the appraisal process faster, easier, and more accurate. We’re supercharging an appraiser’s expertise by supplying them not only with algorithmically derived adjustments but also with PDF outputs automatically included in the addendum that help justify appraisal decisions and further minimize revision requests,” said Steve O’Brien, Chief Appraiser of HouseCanary.The regression tool by HouseCanary is claimed to be the industry’s first implementation of directly integrated multiple linear regression modeling at no additional cost, enabling appraisers to rapidly examine the effect that multiple property features have on a home’s value simultaneously.Regression analysis also extends to Agile Appraisal, HouseCanary’s flagship offering in its Valuation Suite, further enhancing the software’s accuracy and advancing HouseCanary’s mission of providing a fast, reliable valuation for every property. HouseCanary’s software marries an appraiser’s expertise with integrated computation, keeping the appraiser in control while equipping them with the insights available from thousands of advanced calculations.More than ever, appraisers are asked to provide actionable data to successfully defend their work against inquiries from Fannie Mae, their state board, and their AMC or lender clients.“HouseCanary’s built-in regression modeling makes it easy to do, keeping appraisers on top of the changing regulatory environment and forthcoming statutes such as Advisory Opinion 37. Once the valuation is complete, appraisers can export graphs and visuals directly into their reports with the PDF output, helping them justify their adjustments to their clients or regulatory bodies in a digestible format. The analysis is simple and comprehensive, making it easier than ever for appraisers to make data-driven comp adjustments directly from their tablet or desktop computer.” Sharelast_img read more

Younger Loan Applicants Choosing to Remain Conventional

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first_img The buying habits of millennials—increasingly viewed as crucial in current market conditions—are often described as elusive or hard to pinpoint in today’s “gig economy.” Ellie Mae’s Origination Insight Report provides clarity for those looking to analyze trends in the buying behavior of millennials. This online tool, called Millennial Tracker, shows that 69 percent of all loans in August 2018 taken out by this demographic (defined as those born between the years 1980 and 1999) were conventional loans. That percentage is up 5 points year-over-year, and so far measures higher than it has since 2015. FHA loans for millennials have meanwhile fallen 5 percent, whereas VA loans for millennials haven’t budged from 2 percent overall; 3 percent of all home loans for this age group remain unspecified.Digging deeper into the numbers, it would appear that of these conventional home loans taken out by millennial borrowers, 89 percent in August were for new home purchases—also up 5 percent year-over-year—whereas another 9 percent were taken to refinance (with 1 percent remaining unspecified). This percent for refinancing among millennials is up slightly, just a single percent, and meanwhile days-to-close continues to decrease, with the time interval in August dropping on average to 41: a total single day faster than in July and a total three days faster than in August of last year.Aside from these salient facts, the majority of millennial borrowers are male—nearly outpacing women two-to-one (61 percent to 32 percent; the remainder does not specify gender). FICO scores for millennial borrowers have slowly declined as well, down a single point in the last month (from 723 to 722) and have dropped a total two points since July last year. The average age of all millennials taking out home loans stands at 29.8 percent, up less than half a percent from a year ago. Access the online tool here after registering with Ellie Mae’s website. October 3, 2018 985 Views in Daily Dose, News, Origination Ellie Mae Homebuyer Millennial Millennial Tracker Origination 2018-10-03 Rachel Williamscenter_img Younger Loan Applicants Choosing to Remain ‘Conventional’ Sharelast_img read more