House GOP leaders call on Obama to fire OPM director

first_imgBoehner says he has no confidence in the current OPM leadership. He says too much trust has been lost, with the administration saying hackers stole Social Security numbers from more than 21 million people and snatched other information.Scalise says the president’s response to the security breach has been “nothing short of breathtaking in its inadequacy.”McCarthy calls the latest news “absolutely inexplicable.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories center_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home WASHINGTON (AP) — The top three Republican leaders in the House are calling on President Barack Obama to fire the director of the Office of Personnel Management after the latest disclosures of the security breach of government computer systems.House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Whip Steve Scalise say director Katherine Archuleta should go — and they want the president to “take a strong stand against incompetence.” Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk The vital role family plays in society 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

Germany rejects criticism of its business ambitions in Iran

first_imgSpeaking publicly for the first time since his return, Gabriel dismissed that criticism Thursday, saying the earlier sanctions against Iran only had “one concrete reason and that was the nuclear negotiations.”He said making countries’ human rights situation the basis for economic ties would mean calling into question relations with other nations, such as China.German companies did extensive business in Iran for decades until sanctions forced them to all but pull out. Among those hoping to profit now are industrial giants such as ThyssenKrupp, BASF, Volkswagen and Siemens, which was involved in the construction of Iran’s first railways in the late 19th century.Last year, Germany imported goods worth 295 million euros from Iran and exported goods not covered by the sanctions worth 2.39 billion euros ($2.6 billion). Deutsche Bank analysts last week predicted the German exports alone could soon top 4.4 billion euro, the level they were at before the sanctions were introduced a decade ago.But Germany celebrates the 50th anniversary of its diplomatic ties with Israel this year, and its dealing with Iran are under particular scrutiny at home and abroad.Green party lawmaker Volker Beck, a longtime supporter of Israel, said this week that the current Iranian government shouldn’t be considered a friend or partner for Germany. Sponsored Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Mesa family survives lightning strike to home “With almost 80 million citizens it’s a large country that’s rich in natural resources,” said Leu. “Like in every large country there are wide-ranging needs that stretch from big infrastructure projects to consumer goods such as food, pharmaceutical and medical products.”At a two-day EU-Iran business conference in Vienna, the Iranian deputy oil minister said his country hopes to do deals worth $185 billion (nearly 170 billion euros) for oil and gas projects alone by 2020.German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared repeatedly that the security of Israel is one of the fundamental tenets of the German state. Her office said she didn’t mention her deputy’s trip to Iran in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday.___Olga Syrova in Berlin, Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Lori Hinnant in Paris, George Jahn in Vienna and Ciaran Giles in Madrid contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall BERLIN (AP) — In the race to secure business deals with Iran, Germany was quickest out of the blocks.On Sunday, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel became the first senior Western official to visit Iran following last week’s agreement to ease sanctions on the Islamic nation in exchange for concessions on its nuclear program.The three-day trip alongside German business leaders was criticized by Jewish groups and opposition lawmakers, who urged Germany to consider its special responsibility toward Israel, which considers the Islamic Republic a threat to its national security. Activists warned that Iran’s human rights record and support for President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria should make Western governments think twice. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “The human rights situation in Iran remains catastrophic and the Iranian regime continues to support terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas,” said Beck.In an op-ed published in German daily Handelsblatt, the head of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, said it would have been much better to make new commercial relations with Iran dependent on a change in the regime’s stance toward Israel.The German government made clear that wasn’t an option.“The German economy minister is there to help his country and its economy,” said Gabriel. “And next week the French, the Italians (are going to Iran).”France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is due to visit the country next week to explore business opportunities and Spain is planning to send an official delegation in September. Austria’s president plans to travel to Iran on Sept. 7-9, likely making him the first Western head of state to do so.Switzerland, which for decades acted as an intermediary between the United States and Iran, and represents American consular interests in Iran, also hopes to profit from its good standing with the government there.Livia Leu, a former Swiss ambassador in Tehran and now the country’s top trade envoy, said Iran could become a very interesting market. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel briefs the media on his last week’s visit in Iran during a news conference in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) Top Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

PO Cruises fiveship parade makes history on Sydney Harbo

first_imgAustralia’s leading cruise line P&O Cruises has made history in Sydney today, staging an unprecedented five-ship spectacular on the harbour to celebrate the arrival of its two latest cruise ships.In a world first, the cruise line marked the debut of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden with a social media naming ceremony, which saw popular Australian singer Jessica Mauboy and actress Kate Ritchie simultaneously christen the ships via Twitter as the two vessels sailed either side of Fort Denison.Reflecting Australians’ love of social media and cruising, the ships’ godmothers both tweeted a short message declaring the ships named, while Jessica Mauboy also sang the national anthem.In a nod to maritime tradition, a bottle of Champagne was smashed on the bow of each ship as they reached Fort Denison, with all five ships sounding their whistles to mark the nation’s first dual cruise ship christening.The history-making gathering of five cruise ships from one fleet on the Harbour was watched by thousands of Sydneysiders on the foreshore and on small boats, while more than 12,000 guests and crew onboard the P&O fleet joined in the celebrations.The five ships will remain on Sydney Harbour all day, with guests onboard set to enjoy a series of live concerts from more than 25 music acts during the afternoon and evening, including performances by Jessica Mauboy, The Veronicas, Justice Crew, Samantha Jade and Stan Walker.The celebration will conclude with a special fireworks display above the harbour at 8.45pm.Unprecedented in its scale, today’s event brings together a record number of cruise ships from one fleet on Sydney Harbour.Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia which operates P&O Cruises, said the event marked a new era for P&O, Australia’s only homegrown cruise line, which has increased its fleet to five ships in response to increasing demand for cruise holidays.“P&O Cruises has been sailing from Australia for more than 80 years so we are thrilled to be able to celebrate the expansion of our fleet with so many Sydneysiders today,” Ms Sherry said.“The addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden represents a 50 per cent expansion in our guest capacity and heralds a new look and feel for our cruise line, inspired by modern Australia.”Designed to be game changers for the Australian cruise industry, both ships offer a relaxed vibe in a contemporary and stylish setting unlike any other ship operating in Australian waters.The Fort Denison naming ceremony was attended by key cruise industry members and two special guests – Sydney sisters 8-year-old Aria and 3-year-old Eden Mulligan, invited by P&O to perform the role of “junior godmothers” for the sister ships which coincidentally share their names. P&O CruisesSource = P&O Cruiseslast_img read more

Emirates marks key milestones in 2015 its 30th year of operations

first_imgEmirates marks key milestones in 2015, its 30th year of operationsEmirates, the world’s largest international airline, will conclude another year of growth underscored by standout milestones across its fleet, network, and customer experience initiatives. Its growing business footprint also delivered increasing positive impact on the economies and communities it serves.Since January 2015, the airline has carried over 51.3 million passengers, which represented 9% more passengers during the same period in the previous calendar year.Emirates operated around 3,600 flights on average per week, or over 186,000 flights in 2015, travelling more than 824 million kilometres around the globe, which is the distance equivalent of more than 1,000 trips to the moon and back. The airline served over 57 million meals on its flights departing Dubai*, and handled over 35 million pieces of baggage in Dubai alone.Remarking on this year’s accomplishments, Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “2015 has been one of considerable growth for Emirates as we continued to steer our course despite the headwinds of regional conflict, unfavourable currency impact, and shaky business and consumer confidence in many global markets. Emirates has come out strong, as our mindset, combined with our fleet and network strategy has enabled us to absorb shocks and maximise opportunities.Through our 30 years of operation to date, Emirates has always stayed focussed on its core strategies: an efficient fleet and operations that capitalise on Dubai’s strategic location and infrastructure; an excellent product and service proposition for our customers; and recruiting and retaining the best talent from around the world. We will continue to build on these strengths, even as we drive ourselves to achieve new goals and set new standards for ourselves and the industry.”Connecting the world to, and through DubaiThe airline expanded its network to 150 destinations in 2015, with the addition of six new passenger destinations: Bali, Multan, Orlando, Mashhad, Bologna and Sabiha Gokcen in Istanbul; and three cargo-only destinations in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Columbus (USA) and Ciudad del Este, (Paraguay). In addition, Emirates uplifted frequencies and upgraded capacity to numerous points across its network.In August, Emirates announced plans to launch services to Panama City, beginning 1st February 2016. The new service will be the longest non-stop flight in the world (17 hours 35 minutes) and will be Emirates’ first gateway destination in Central America.In 2015, Emirates expanded the number of cities served by its flagship A380 aircraft to 36. Emirates brought A380 services to Perth, Dusseldorf, Madrid and Copenhagen, and layered on more A380 services to the schedules of nine other existing points spanning east to west, to highly positive customer feedback. During the year, Emirates also led one-off A380 services to seven destinations: Prague, Taipei, Brussels, Sao Paulo, Cologne, Manama and Doha.Economic contributionEmirates continues to have an important positive impact on the economies of the markets it serves – through the provision of international air transport links that facilitate trade and tourism flows, direct employment through its growing business, and indirect employment through the aviation supply chain and the other industries reliant on commercial air transport.In 2015, this effect was felt again through the aviation supply chain when Emirates announced a historic US$9.2 billion (€8.7 billion) deal with Rolls-Royce for Trent 900 engines to power 50 of its A380 aircraft, and a long-term TotalCare package. The deal was the largest ever for Rolls-Royce, and one of the largest ever export orders for a UK-based company.In November, Emirates signed a US$16 billion OnPoint solution agreement with GE Aviation for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the GE9X engines that will power the airline’s fleet of 150 Boeing 777X aircraft. Spanning 12 years, the deal is Emirates’ largest engine MRO contract to date, and also GE Aviation’s largest ever commercial jet engine award from an airline.In March, a report by Frontier Economics was released, estimating that Emirates contributed €6.8 billion to the economies of European Union countries in 2013 and 2014, supporting more than 85,000 jobs. Frontier also analysed European international air connectivity and concluded that Emirates provides 220 unique air connections that are not offered by any other airline or alliance.In November, the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) in India released the results of an economic impact study that measured Emirates’ contribution to the Indian economy. NCAER estimated that Emirates’ operations contributed over US$848 million annually to India’s GDP, supporting over 86,000 Indian jobs and generating almost US$1.7 billion in Foreign Exchange Earnings. Fly EmiratesSource = Emirateslast_img read more

TravelManagers welcome Travel Counsellors support for Consumer Protect

first_imgSource = Barry Mayo – TravelManagers Australia Barry MayoTravelManagers welcome Travel Counsellors support for Consumer Protection AwarenessLast week Travel Counsellors entered into the debate around consumer protection, highlighting the need for the industry to ensure consumers are fully informed about how their funds are protected, as the negative consumer awareness surrounding the ongoing travel agency collapses continues to grow.A move that has been highly welcomed by TravelManagers’ Chairman Barry Mayo.“TravelManagers has long been a lone voice speaking for many similar minded travel agents around the concerns of inadequate consumer protection provided for consumers, following the disbandment of the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) almost two years ago. We congratulate Travel Counsellors speaking out by identifying the need for the industry to ensure consumers are ‘fully’ informed about consumer protection and for challenging other travel agents to match the ‘full’ protection under its “Your Money’s Safe” claim.”Mayo has long been an advocate of encouraging robust discussion and debate as a way for state governments to recognise the shortcomings of their decision to deregulate travel agencies.“TravelManagers congratulate Travel Counsellors’ contribution and see this as a further opportunity for the travel industry to constructively debate the many resulting issues of the government’s deregulation of travel agents and other travel intermediaries. We see this as a positive result for consumers.”In Travel Counsellors article, David Hughes Managing Director of Travel Counsellors Australia has stated he “believes that all travel companies and agents should offer full financial protection to their customers and not expect the government to cover the slack.“Mayo has a slightly different view.“TravelManagers has never advocated the government provide funds to cover consumer protection. Travel Counsellors takes the stance that the industry should not expect government to cover consumers against industry failures. However, this has never been the case, the government provided legislation in 1986 for an industry funded organization to operate a consumer protection scheme on behalf of all travel intermediaries and not only protect consumers against losses but the integrity of the all travel agents and other Australian-based travel intermediaries as a whole.”Mayo has and continues to be critical of state governments abandoning licensing and the TCF without ensuring an appropriate and affordable replacement for consumer protection was in place.“Where the approximately $23 million of residual funds in the TCF are concerned, TravelManagers has questioned the state governments’ position that these funds contributed by travel agents and other travel intermediaries will be distributed in line with the TCF Trust Deed amongst themselves when there is no satisfactory consumer protection in place.”Mayo is also quick to point out that the TCF was not perfect.“Its cost impact on the industry may not have always been fairly distributed but what the TCF did offer consumers was protection against travel intermediary insolvency that was consistent and universal. The TCF delivered consumer protection where consumers had not received prepaid products and services booked through a travel agent and other Australian-based travel intermediaries.”Mayo strongly believes that where consumer protection is concerned, there needs to be total transparency.“TravelManagers is of the distinct view that all travel agency guarantees that consumers are protected against insolvency are fully communicated and explained in detail. Information as to exactly what cover is provided, the circumstances in which it applies, how it’s funded and how it would be administered in the event of the demise of that agent or, particularly where coverage extends to suppliers, how in the event of the collapse of an extraordinary large supplier this will be funded. This is absolutely vital in retaining client credibility. There should be a benchmark for the industry as a whole, which I believe, would greatly assist with the transparency consumers are looking for.”Mayo reiterates the fact that in protecting consumers from travel agent failure to provide prepaid and contracted services the TCF also protected the travel agent community’s integrity ensuring consumer confidence in dealing with the many professional and well-administered travel agents was maintained.“The continued negative consumer media reports are damaging to us all as a collective industry. Urgent change is needed and will only occur with continued discussion around the issues and collective lobbying of government. We welcome Travel Counsellors in taking up this debate and encourage more travel companies to also voice their concerns. Together with a consistent voice, we can make the change consumers are looking for – to have peace of mind around their funds when booking their holiday through a travel agency.”About TravelManagersTravelManagers operates in all Australian States and is a wholly owned subsidiary of House of Travel, Australasia’s largest independent travel company which has a forecast turnover of $1.5 billion for 2015. TravelManagers is a sister company to Hoot Holidays, also owned by House of Travel, and has more than 490 personal travel managers throughout Australia with a dedicated support team at the company’s national partnership office in Sydney. TravelManagers places all customer money in a dedicated and audited Client Trust Account which is separate from the general business accounts, ensuring client funds are only used for client purchases.last_img read more

IHG inspires young New Zealanders to believeyoucan

first_imgIHG inspires young New Zealanders to #believeyoucanA leading New Zealand hotel group is inspiring and mobilising the next generation of Kiwi leaders in partnership with the Sir Peter Blake Trust.The annual awards being held today (July 1) are followed by the Trust’s Leadership Week in which four staff members from IHG properties around New Zealand have been selected to join the Trust’s Dream Team, an exclusive group of inspirational leaders inspiring Kiwi children to follow their dreams.The Dream Team will speak at individual schools during Leadership Week to inspire local children about their story, plant seeds of inspiration for a career in the hotel industry and encourage students to “dream big” and continue Sir Peter Blake’s legacy.IHG Dream Team members include Banquets Operations Manager Catherine Bodnar from Holiday Inn Auckland Airport, Crowne Plaza Auckland Operations Manager Sam Swaffield, Crowne Plaza Queenstown’s Duty Manager Billi Skipage and Chief Concierge Jason Eade from InterContinental Wellington.The theme for 2016 is #believeyoucan, taken directly from Sir Peter’s last voyage when he wrote, ‘To win, you have to believe you can do it’.New Zealand Area General Manager Tim Pollock said promoting young talent was “hugely important” at IHG.“We’ve supported The Sir Peter Blake Trust for a number of years and we’re thrilled to do so because we share many similar values,” he says.“IHG believes it’s our people who have brought us to where we are today, and our people who will help us grow. That’s why we invest in programmes such as our Future Leaders mentoring scheme, which identifies high potential talent and grooms local talent for a global career.”Currently chief concierge at Intercontinental Wellington, Jason Eade was a New Zealand boxing champion with his sights set on an Olympic medal when a motorcycle accident robbed him of a leg.With inspirational determination, he turned his attention to wheelchair-based sports including tennis and basketball, and in 2012 was chosen as one of 8000 Olympic torch-bearers. He’ll no doubt inspire Hutt Intermediate students by expressing the importance of determination to help reach goals.Catherine Bodnar will visit 90 students at Nga Iwi School in Auckland to share her passion for hospitality while working across all New Zealand’s IHG brands and the driving force behind her own development.Sam Swaffield will inspire 30 Botany Downs College students on the importance of gaining valuable leadership skills at high school, and reflect on how he chased his dreams to start a career in the hotel industry.Billi Skipage started her career as a food and beverage attendant and rose to become Crowne Plaza Queenstown duty manager in just 18 months. She’ll inspire students at St Joseph’s School to believe they can achieve anything.The IHG Future Leaders programme is a challenging, fast track, hotel-based two-year development programme grooming local leaders for IHG hotels.The Blake Leader Award recognises inspirational leaders who have determination, a will to succeed, and a belief in achieving extraordinary things. Past recipients have included Tim Alpe, Kathryn Wilson, and Beatrice Faumuina.The Blake Medal is the premium award for outstanding leadership achievement in New Zealand, with just one awarded each year. Past recipients include Sir Peter Jackson, Sir Stephen Tindall, and Dame Margaret Bazley.IHG currently operates five properties in New Zealand including Crowne Plaza hotels in Auckland and Queenstown, two Holiday Inn properties in Rotorua and at Auckland Airport, and the InterContinental Wellington. Learn more hereSource = IHGlast_img read more

Sunshine Coast and Brisbane partner to increase business to the

first_imgSunshine Coast and Brisbane partner to increase business to the ‘Great South East’Business Events Sunshine Coast (BESC) has created a new partnership with the Brisbane Convention Bureau to host a group of nine top event planners to the region representing companies including Aristocrat Technologies, New Zealand Engine Reconditioners Association, Total Event, Massey University, S2N Events, LexisNexis, CMA Events and Orbit World Travel offices of Hamilton and Tauranga.The planners from New Zealand and Sydney toured the two regions from 14-17 July before attending Convene Queensland (a business events trade show) in Brisbane on 18 July.“This is the first-time our convention bureau teams have worked together. It just makes sense to partner with the Brisbane Convention Bureau to create joint itineraries that offer the best of South East Queensland – from nature and beaches to signature city incentive activities and unique offsite venue offerings,” said Simon Latchford, CEO of Visit Sunshine Coast.“This visit, organised in conjunction with ProMag and the organiser of Convene Queensland, allowed us to host high level event planners from premium companies to experience our two regions first-hand.“Collectively, we are better equipped to service the needs of business event buyers. This is just the first step, but we are confident this initiative will increase future business and incentive group bookings for both of our regions.This is a golden opportunity to show key event decision makers what we do best,” added Mr Latchford.The visit allowed the group flexibility to fly direct from New Zealand and Sydney into Sunshine Coast Airport and following the visit, fly out of Brisbane Airport. During the visit, the group enjoyed dinner in the new private dining room at Spirit House Restaurant and Cooking School, Bush Tucker Experience with Live It Tours, Breakfast and VIP Animal Encounters at Australia Zoo. Brisbane activities included a gourmet lunch and celebrity chef cooking demonstrations at the Regional Flavours food festival, a tour of the Gallery of Modern Art’s exclusive Marvel exhibition, and a private luxury shopping experience at Queens Plaza.Brisbane Convention Bureau Acting General Manager, Juliet Alabaster, said partnering with BESC on joint itineraries would ensure business and incentive organisers could easily create the ultimate experience across both regions.“As a leading lifestyle city, Brisbane is flourishing with sophisticated venues and hotels, rich cultural attractions, exclusive major events and an eclectic restaurant and bar scene. Exciting new developments and tourism product coming online will bolster the city’s offering even further over the coming years,” Ms Alabaster said.“Partnering on joint itineraries presents an ideal opportunity to showcase how well Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast complement each other through unique and authentic experiences, which ultimately results in lasting memories for event and incentive delegates.“If the response from the event planners we’ve co-hosted over the past four days is anything to go by, demand will be strong for joint Brisbane and Sunshine Coast itineraries.”Following the visit, BESC and the Brisbane Convention Bureau will attend Convene Queensland to meet and promote their respective regions to over 200 event planners from around Australia and New Zealand.Complementing the collective itinerary creation and hosting of the business event buyers, the two convention bureaux will also jointly sponsor a breakfast event as part of the Convene Queensland trade expo.Source = Visit Sunshine Coastlast_img read more

NYC Company sets new ambitious tourism targets for New York

first_imgNew York City has revealed its latest tourism target of 67 million annual visitors by 2021. The New York City’s official destination marketing organisation, NYC & Company plays an important role in sustaining and increasing tourism to all five boroughs. NYC & Company recently launched its NYCGO Insider Guides, which highlight a broad and diverse range of neighbourhoods across the City.NYC & Company President and CEO, Fred Dixon said, “Travel and tourism are a cornerstone of the City’s economy our hotels, restaurants, attractions, retailers, Broadway theatres, performing arts, five-borough cultural organisations and transportation providers continue to draw new and repeat visitors to our City each year. Through the continued support of the de Blasio administration, I am confident we will reach our new target of 67 million annual visitors by 2021, further spreading tourism to every corner of our City, drawing visitors during slower periods, and showcasing the attractive new product in all five boroughs.”Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen said, “There’s never been a better time to visit New York City and experience the dynamism and diversity that makes it the most exciting destination in the world.”last_img read more

Air France and Atout France strengthen their partnership to promote France as

first_imgPatrick Alexandre, EVP Commercial, Sales & Alliances at Air France – KLM and Christian Mantei, Managing Director of Atout France, signed a partnership agreement recently to strengthen the joint actions of Air France and Atout France to promote France as a destination.The partnership agreement signed was in line with the desire to further strengthen the long-standing collaboration between Atout France and Air France to promote France in international markets.The agreement provides for several joint promotional and information actions highlighting the diversity of French tourism, with the aim of developing tourism at various different French destinations while strengthening the service offered to Air France customers.In 2018, Air France contributed to France’s reputation as a tourist destination by carrying 12.1 million customers to and from the country, including 8.3 customers to and from Paris and 3.8 customers to and from the other French regions. Atout France has organised more than 2,700 events to promote French destinations abroad, trained 25,000 professionals and organised more than 2,000 press conferences in France.Patrick Alexandre, EVP Commercial, Sales & Alliances at Air France-KLM said, “I am delighted that we have renewed our partnership with Atout France. By developing joint actions to increase the number of tourists, not only to Paris but also to our French regions, we are committed to maintaining France’s attractiveness at the heart of our commercial strategy.”Christian Mantei, Managing Director of Atout France, “In the current social context, which has an impact on everyone in the tourism industry, the agreement we signed with Air France is a strong signal. The actions deployed will make it possible to support activity in Paris, the Paris region and all French destinations. The benefits of this collaboration will benefit the entire sector.”Air France is also a major partner of the Rendez-vous en France exhibition that Atout France organised recently in Marseille. On this occasion, the company provided air travel for more than half of the 950 international buyers invited, by making more than 700 tickets available. Last year, as part of the promotional actions requested by the Interministerial Tourism Council, Air France and Atout France also organised a joint promotional campaign for France in three markets (Brazil, China and Japan), with the aim of extending it in 2019.last_img read more

Freddie Mac to Examine Older Loans for Repurchase

first_img Share December 5, 2012 468 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Credit Standards Defaults Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Investors Lenders & Servicers Loan Repurchases Mortgage-Backed Securities RMBS Service Providers U.S. Bancorp Underwriting Standards 2012-12-05 Krista Franks Brock *_UPDATED: Adds comments from Freddie Mac, revises Richard Davis├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ó comments to reflect statements from recorded webcast of his presentation._*””Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com is ramping up repurchase demands and “”the put-back that they’ve been going through from 2006 forward on loans ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬ª they’re increasing that put-back now to ’04 and ’05,”” “”U.S. Bancorp””:https://www.usbank.com/en/AboutHome.cfm CEO Richard Davis told investors at the Goldman Sachs Financial Services Conference in New York Tuesday. [IMAGE]According to Davis, whose presentation is “”archived on his company’s website””:http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?p=irol-eventDetails&c=117565&eventID=4877466, Freddie Mac informed U.S. Bancorp and other large servicers Friday night that the GSE will require them to buy back defaulted loans originated in years prior to the housing crisis.While Davis said the move was ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£unexpected,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø Freddie Mac notes that it has always had the authority to pull files for review when loans stop performing regardless of when the loans were originated.├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£Our repurchase policies for non-performing loans have not changed. If there are rep and warrant violations we can discuss appropriate remedies with the lender,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø said Brad German, spokesman for Freddie Mac.As Davis maintains, up until now, both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have only reviewed loans from 2006 or later in assessing repurchases. But German explains that the GSE├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós file review strategy is adjusted periodically to ensure the company is gathering the type of historical data needed to improve its quality control processes and reduce taxpayer exposure to risk.├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£We have begun telling servicers 2013 file reviews will include non-performing loans originated in 2004 and 2005,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø German said. But, he added, ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£we also expect to request fewer total non-performing loan files next year than we did this year.├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬ØAs German describes the review adjustments, Freddie Mac is asking to take a look at loan files├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┬Øand only the files of non-performing loans├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┬Ødating back to the years of the housing boom simply as a quality control measure.[COLUMN_BREAK]He says Freddie Mac is ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£fully committed to working with our lenders to ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬ª improve the overall quality of conforming, conventional mortgages sold to Freddie Mac├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø while remaining ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£responsible stewards of taxpayer resources.├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬ØDavis says U.S. Bancorp ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£is still sizing├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø how the added vintage reviews will impact the company├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós reserves, but it├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós likely to cut into earnings per share by as much as two cents during the fourth quarter. While any associated losses won├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ót be realized until after the end of 2012, Davis says this quarter, the company will set aside what it expects in repurchase demands from 2006 and forward, and then will ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£add another $0.01 or $0.02 worth├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø for 2004 and 2005 originations. In the second quarter, the bank reserved $220 million to cover repurchase claims.German says, though, that it├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós anticipated the number of files reviewed by Freddie Mac will decrease. Even after expanding the pool of non-performing loans subject to examination by two years, the GSE expects to request fewer loan files in 2013 than it did in 2012, according to German.├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£We are also more committed than ever to working with lenders to resolve any issues involving our loans in a transparent and mutually beneficial manner,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø German said.Still, the risk attached to older, legacy assets raises concerns among bankers. ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£That├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós the reason the mortgage business gets harder to love, because you don├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ót know whether or not you├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬óre done with it,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø Davis told an analyst in the Q&A segment of his presentation.├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£There used to be kind of a statute or an unspoken statute of how long you could hold a transaction, sell a transaction, underwrite a transaction, or close out a deal,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø Davis remarked. But now, he says you see this same type of scrutiny and liability in other places, coming from different agencies wanting to ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£reach back├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø to double-check lenders actions. ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£Even if the rules were right then, even if that own agency approved [the loan] then, it seems that it still is at risk,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø Davis said.Davis told investors he is ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£quite concerned├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø about the banking business next year. ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£I don├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ót like what I see,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø he said. With low interest rates and the rising costs of adhering to new regulations, Davis believes banks will see smaller returns. ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£This economic environment is challenging,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø he said.U.S. Bancorp reported increased earnings in the third quarter, up 16 percent with a 5.9 percent quarterly rise in mortgage banking revenue.center_img in Origination, Secondary Market Freddie,Freddie Mac to Examine Older Loans for Repurchaselast_img read more

Quarterly Price Gains Slow Declines Anticipated

first_imgQuarterly Price Gains Slow; Declines Anticipated Share Clear Capital Distressed sales Home Prices 2014-03-06 Tory Barringer An early look at housing data in February shows a severe slowdown in home price growth as distressed sales activity grows stronger.Clear Capital released earlier this week its latest Home Data Index (HDI) Market Report, recording only a 1 percent gain in home prices over the quarter ending last month. That figure is down from a 2.5 percent pace of growth for the January quarter.While many price indicators have pointed to slowdowns over the last few months, the latest trend could be the start of something worse, says Dr. Alex Villacorta, VP of research and analytics at Clear Capital.“Our early data shows national quarterly price gains are falling at a rapid pace and suggest overall prices could dip into negative territory soon if current conditions continue,” he said.Three out of the 15 lowest performing metro markets in the latest HDI reported slight price declines over the quarter, while the remaining 12 were mostly flat. With winter not quite over yet, near-term price declines “are not out of the question,” according to Clear Capital.Adding to the problem is a 1.8 percentage point uptick in national REO saturation, which stood at 22.7 percent as of the end of February—further threatening price trends.“Since the market fallout in 2006, home prices have dramatically declined during sustained periods of rising distressed sale activity,” Villacorta explained. “Over the last two years, however, rising distressed sales have been offset by investor demand, which is not guaranteed to be present in 2014.”He added:  “Though it is not unusual to see rising distressed activity over the winter months, the current housing picture gives reason to be concerned. If we don’t see a correction come spring, the housing market may be in for a long year.”center_img March 6, 2014 479 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, Newslast_img read more

Informative Research Brings on Director of Portfolio Solutions

first_img Informative Research Movers & Shakers 2014-08-15 Tory Barringer Informative Research, a mortgage information services provider, has appointed Jane House as director of portfolio solutions, the company announced.House joins Informative Research from CoreLogic Credco, where she held the role of national account director of strategic marketing. She has more than two and a half decades of experience in the mortgage industry, including due diligence, investor reporting, and lead generation.Stepping into her new position, House will lead a nationwide portfolio risk and retention department, overseeing risk mitigation, marketing, and other strategies.”We are excited to add Jane to our business development team where she can utilize her unique skills to enhance our footprint within the mortgage industry in this increasingly competitive marketplace,” said Stan Baldwin, COO of Informative Research. “Her broad mortgage industry background with consultative expertise, utilizing consumer credit and public record data, allows us to create innovative client solutions.” August 15, 2014 420 Views Sharecenter_img Informative Research Brings on Director of Portfolio Solutions in Headlines, News, Uncategorizedlast_img read more

Report Nations Housing Unprepared for Aging Population

first_img September 4, 2014 501 Views The nation is ill prepared to accommodate its rapidly growing older population where housing needs are concerned, according to a report by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and AARP Foundation.The report, entitled Housing America’s Older Adults—Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population, estimates that the population of adults age 50 and above will reach 132 million by 2030, a jump of more than 70 percent since the year 2000.But while their numbers are rapidly increasing, the amount of housing that is affordable, physically accessible, and located well is not, the report said.”Recognizing the implications of this profound demographic shift and taking immediate steps to address these issues is vital to our national standard of living,” said Chris Herbert, acting managing director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. “While it is ultimately up to individuals and their families to plan for future housing needs, it is also incumbent upon policy makers at all levels of government to see that affordable, appropriate housing, as well as supports for long-term aging in the community, are available for older adults across the income spectrum.”The report found that the rising cost of housing often forces older adults (about 33 percent of Americans age 50 and above and about 37 percent of Americans 80 and above) to cut back in other areas such as food, health care, or retirement savings. And they may be paying those high housing costs for a home that does not even meet their needs, the report found.Many of the nation’s homes lack accessibility features such as no-step entries that are necessary in order for older Americans with disabilities cannot live comfortably in their homes, the report said.Furthermore, transportation is an issue for older Americans who do not drive; often, they are forced to live in homes that are in car-dependent areas and are not near accessible transportation, which tends to isolate them from friends and family, the report said.Another issue the aging population faces is that older adults who have disabilities or long-term health care needs are at risk of being prematurely institutionalized due to disconnects between the housing and healthcare systems, according to the report.The younger baby boomers in their 50s now may not be able to cover the cost of housing in their retirement years due to lower incomes, increased debt, and the rising costs associated with owning a home. The report indicated that most people over age 45 prefer to remain in their current homes, an estimated 70 percent of them will need some type of long-term care by the age of 65 and their housing situation may not be adequate.”As Americans age, the need for safe and affordable housing options becomes even more critical,” said Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president of the AARP Foundation. “High housing costs, aging homes, and costly repairs can greatly impact those with limited incomes. The goal in our support of this report is to address the most critical needs of these households and it is AARP Foundation’s aim to provide the tools and resources to help them meet these needs now and in the future.” Share Report: Nation’s Housing Unprepared for Aging Populationcenter_img Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies 2014-09-04 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, Newslast_img read more

Times are Changing Female Executives at the Forefront

first_img Share in Daily Dose, News, Print Features Female Executives 2016-09-05 Seth Welborn (Editor’s note: This select print feature originally appeared in the September issue of MReport magazine)Benjamin Franklin once said, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” That statement applies to just about everything in the mortgage industry. Even though change is inevitably necessary for growth, many mortgage professionals would like the regulatory changes to stabilize so we can get back to doing what we do best—helping Americans achieve their dream of homeownership.I’ve had a chance to speak with many distinguished women leaders, during which I gained their perspective on recent industry change—and more importantly, what they would like to see in the future.Growing Female Industry Leaders The industry is making progress and women leaders play an important role in driving change. Patty Arvielo, President and Co-Founder of New American Funding, believes the mortgage industry is clearly undergoing a transition, from the people we employ as we look to serve a new generation to the way we process loans to meet the needs of new buyers. “As we know, Hispanics are the largest sector of first-time homebuyers, and it’s predicted by 2020 they will account for 55 percent of new homeowners in the nation,” Arvielo said. “Women are an integral part of homeownership, especially in this community. According to a Better Homes and Gardens’ Real Estate and NAHREP survey, 61 percent of Hispanic women believe they will play a larger role than their partner in their next home purchase, specifically when it comes to researching potential homes, communities, or neighborhoods. The role of women is also stronger when researching mortgage options and deciding which home to purchase. Hispanics are reshaping the homebuying process in America, and women are leading the way.”The top traits observed in successful women in housing are strongly believing in doing the right thing while being empathetic yet assertive, open to change, and able to recognize strengths in ourselves, as well as others. We also know how to trust our instincts— if it feels right, it usually is right! If it feels wrong, be cautious and do your due diligence before jumping in with everyone else.While we continue to see the numbers grow, we must increase the number of women involved in all mortgage banking educational opportunities, advocacy, and senior-level executive positions. The mortgage and housing industry is a great place for women. No matter what role a person plays in the mortgage transaction, you know that the ultimate end result is a new homeowner.“I love this industry and helping people achieve their dream of homeownership, establishing themselves in a community, the fun things they do to spruce up their homes … it’s all very thrilling to me. I also love sharing my knowledge of our products to our Lenders and Realtors and showing how we can help our homebuyers,” said Pamela Shinsel with the Utah Housing Corporation, a 31-year industry veteran.I believe women really do love this industry as we like to share wonderful experiences and see happiness in our work. Homeownership is the ultimate dream of Americans and we get to be part of that dream for so many individuals and families every single day.Regulatory Issues Legislative and regulatory compliance has become a huge focal point for the industry.Starting with the mortgage market meltdown in 2008, the necessary tightening of credit, eliminating exotic programs such Pay Option ARMs, No-Income No Assets, and other low/no doc loans, the impact of RESPA, GFE changes in 2010, and now TRID in 2015, “The industry has exponentially increased origination and fulfillment costs,” said Jill Burns, Executive Vice President of Operations at Mountain West Financial, Inc. Many of the regulatory changes have undesirably impacted the homebuying process.Many mortgage lenders are spending most of their time and expenses on their processes rather than focusing on improving the homebuying process and developing programs to successfully attract more homeowners. With new regulation, it’s important to understand how compliance expenses can increase exponentially. Susan Milazzo, Executive Director of the California Mortgage Bankers Association, believes that in some instances this has led to independent mortgage banks selling to larger companies.“Now that the market is healthier, mortgage bankers have pivoted to strengthening their companies with high quality staff and technology that will make them more efficient and competitive, as well as compliant,” Milazzo said.When it comes to legislative and regulatory advocacy, the industry needs to remember that it is still popular among many policymakers to target the mortgage industry. While there arguably hasn’t been a “safer” time to purchase or refinance a home, Milazzo goes on to say, “Political motivations will continue to negatively affect the mortgage industry for some time to come. Under the guise of consumer protection, laws will be proposed and passed that create undue burden on lenders and increase risk for investors, all of which equate to a negative effect on access to affordable credit.”It is critically important for everyone in the industry to become educated on what is being considered at the state and federal level and get involved in their industry’s advocacy efforts. We need to understand the regulatory changes and prepare our companies for the next state of legislation. There is looming legislation on the horizon which will continue to be a burden on mortgage bankers in meeting compliance demands which, at the end of the day, could hurt the home-buying process rather than help it as it is intended to do.The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created to make sure lenders treat consumers fairly and sometimes that has an adverse effect when compliance issues slow down and complicate the process, especially for first-time homebuyers. When it comes to down payment assistance programs offered by Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs), the CFPB needs clearer guidance so lenders are not left interpreting the rules in different ways. “I would like to see CFPB come out with some guidance regarding down payment assistance loans to make it easier for the lenders,” said Lisa DeBrock, Director of Homeownership of Washington State Housing Finance Commission. “We are hoping they will just let the lenders use a Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure regardless of the terms. Right now, there is a great confusion as some lenders will force the loan to be exempt. We currently see lenders disclosing in many ways and since there is no clear guidance, there is no uniformity from lender to lender.”DeBrock is right. Many HFA loans are exempt from TRID guidelines while other loan structures require the GFE disclosure form if the closing cost fees are within a certain threshold. With cumbersome and confusing rules, it makes it more difficult and less likely for mortgage bankers to offer these wonderful programs which promote homeownership to low- to moderate-income families.With all that said, we need to remember that the mission of the regulatory rules is to HELP the homebuying process, and we have come a long way over the past several decades. Kim Johnson, Program Development Specialist with Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, reflects on changes she has seen: “In the early ‘80s, I went to a Federal Reserve Seminar about wealth disparity between whites and minorities. I was struck by the way that homeownership has the power to help families build wealth. Before fair housing laws were established following World War II, Caucasian families bought homes in the suburbs while many minorities were redlined into particular neighborhoods. Because of redlining, those homes didn’t appreciate like homes in the suburbs did and when those minority homeowners died and left their heirs their estates, those estates weren’t as large as those left by white homeowners. I was excited in the mid ’90s when the lending industry moved to automated underwriting decisions which allowed the purchasing process to be more fair and consistent for all buyers.”Pamela Shinsel remembers when interest rates were 11 percent in the late ‘80s and qualifying for a mortgage was not as entailed as it is today. Shinsel believes there have been so many good and positive changes over the years, but on the other hand, she said, “I also feel that because of these changes it’s tougher at times for a homebuyer to qualify for a mortgage and the qualification process takes so much longer.”Tia Boatman Patterson, Executive Director of the California Housing Finance Agency, has a uniquely intimate appreciation for the role government can play in housing. “My mother bought her first home with help from an assistance program,” Patterson said. “I’ve seen first-hand how homeownership can make a huge difference by increasing standards of living and making progress towards eradicating poverty. The challenge for us now is that there is such a limited inventory of homes for the folks who want to make the jump from renting to owning.”“There are just so many hurdles for the first-time homebuyer right now, in addition to the limited inventory,” continues Patterson. “It’s harder to save for a down payment. Graduates are coming out of school with crushing student debt. Increased fees and costs make it economically harder for developers to build entry-level homes.”Increased Importance of Technology In order to have a competitive advantage, Burns said, “Lenders need to utilize reliable, cutting-edge technology that exceeds the expectations of our clients. To be competitive, we need to be easy to work with, and provide a great customer experience. Our industry now requires specialists that are proficient users of more technology platforms and components than ever before.” For lenders to create a cutting-edge environment to drive our business, we need to continually analyze and focus on removing the obstacles that create duplication and inefficiencies of all types. This requires continued and expanded focus on the right technology. It also requires us to focus on removing the impediments to great customer service. Creation of Innovative Programs Lenders are finally discovering the unique products offered by housing finance agencies that allow them to bridge the gap to homeownership for low- to-moderate-income homebuyers. Production nationwide has picked up as more and more HFAs enter the TBA market.“Here in Washington, our agency is helping more and more homebuyers every year thanks to the popularity and ease of our Home Advantage program—and thanks to our multiple down payment assistance programs,” DeBrock said. “Last year alone, we helped almost 4,000 households buy a home—an increase of 57 percent over 2014—with 3,443 of them using down payment assistance.”WSHFC has also seen growth within their conventional products as Fannie Mae offers the HFA Preferred product. The HFA sets the guidelines for income which DU recognizes. In Washington, the income limit is $97,000 statewide—a huge benefit for borrowers who are trying to access conventional financing, as this limit would be lower in many parts of the state using open-market financing. DeBrock would like to see this program continue to grow, because often it will offer the borrower a lower payment— not to mention long-term affordability, as the mortgage insurance is cancellable.“As we begin the looming shift from a refinance to a purchase market, I expect there will be pressure on real estate professionals, lenders, the secondary market, and our elected officials to put affordable housing near the top of their agenda,” said Dottie Sheppick, a well-known affordable housing consultant. “It has been a long time and we must desperately turn our attention to creating products and programs that will responsibly transition more renters to homebuyers and allow others to move up. These are the fundamentals that will induce new construction, create jobs, and strengthen our economy.”Patterson does, however, see some hope. “Governor (Jerry) Brown has recognized the importance of housing as an economic driver and has introduced some changes that could ease some of those difficulties by making it easier for us to partner with cities, counties, and other organizations. Our multifamily division has introduced new programs to get back into that business. We’ve made some changes to our down payment assistance programs that can give access to more first-time buyers. This is paying off; we’ve increased our single-family business more than a hundredfold, going from just 50 loans two years ago to 5,000 this year.”We all would like to see the industry place more emphasis on making housing counseling widely available to consumers. Johnson advocates that we should be teaching children about finances and the importance of financial planning so they can learn good habits early on that will help them become successful not only in homeownership, but overall in life.Having worked in the mortgage industry for more than 35 years, Shari Flynn, Executive Director, Lubbock Housing Finance Corporation, believes that credit continues to be the primary barrier to homeownership. “Making sure potential buyers get solid financial counseling (as opposed to a quick credit ‘fix’) will help them become not just buyers, but successful homeowners,” Flynn said. “While the benefits to their families are obvious, successful homeownership is also beneficial for communities and for the mortgage industry at large.”We all would really like to see the process of qualification become more comfortable for our borrowers so that they truly understand the whole process better.center_img September 5, 2016 695 Views Times are Changing: Female Executives at the Forefrontlast_img read more

Qualia Adds Custom Reporting to Title Settlement System

first_img qualia software technology Title 2017-01-25 Phil Banker in News, Technology Share January 25, 2017 517 Views center_img Title settlement software Qualia announced the release of its advanced reporting module. The reporting feature equips title and closing professionals with a customizable tool to analyze revenue sources, business relationships and operational efficiency.Nate Baker, CEO of Qualia, detailed that the tool will aid Qualia in expanding relationships. “From our team’s background building small and large agencies, we know the challenge of maintaining and growing relationships with lenders and realtors while guaranteeing the right level of quality,” he said. “We built Qualia Reports to solve that problem.”Within the “Reports” tab, Qualia users can access and create custom reports based on tasks, contacts and any other data involved in the settlement transaction. The flexibility of custom reporting allows users to answer bigger questions about their business pipeline, while also identifying ways to streamline day-to-day operations. Because all the data is already housed in Qualia, reports are automatically generated and available to users at no additional cost.Additionally, Qualia uses artificial intelligence to immediately detect and notify users when they enter a contact record that is similar to a pre-existing record.“Most title agencies have to manually merge duplicate contacts every month; it’s extremely time-consuming and prone to errors. Because Qualia automatically merges duplicate contacts, agents can finally get a simple and fast answer to what business sources are their main revenue drivers and how those sources are trending month-over-month,” Baker said. Qualia Adds Custom Reporting to Title Settlement Systemlast_img read more

Housing Shortage Catches Googles Eye

first_img The supply of housing is so limited, even Google has taken notice. On Wednesday, the technology giant announced its own efforts to alleviate the ever-tight (and ever-expensive) housing market of Silicon Valley through an investment in modular housing.The company will purchase 300 modular home units from start-up Factory OS, a deal Factory’s CEO says is worth $25 to $30 million.Modular building technology, which allows homes to be built off-site and then pieced together on the buyer’s property, could reduce home construction costs 20 percent and be 40 percent faster, though their goal is to reduce costs by 30 percent and cut construction time in half, according to Factory_OS.”The majority of American industries are more productive than they were 20 years ago — but not construction,” Factory_OS’s website explains. “Over the past two decades, capital and labor productivity in construction have plummeted by 32 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Factory OS makes construction productive again. Today homes can be built 40% faster and with a savings of 20% over conventional construction.”Though out of its typical tech wheelhouse, John Igoe, Google’s Director of Design and Construction, said making housing more affordable is something Google is highly interested in—particularly in the San Francisco area.”Anything that can help us to move forward with a greater knowledge of how we can produce housing more effectively is something we’re interested in,” Igoe said. “We absolutely are confident that it will work. Hopefully it doesn’t become false bravado.”According to the Wall Street Journal, home prices in San Francisco have risen nearly 100 percent since 2009, and inventory has been dropping steadily over the past year, driving demand—and prices—even higher. Year-to-date, home prices in the city have appreciated 5 percent—the second-most of all major U.S. markets.But according to Rick Holliday, CEO of Factory OS and owner of Holliday Development, this project could help alleviate all that. In fact, a previous modular building project of Holiday’s saved tenants $700 per month in rent, thanks to the low costs of construction.“We won’t have much of a housing market if we don’t figure this out,” Holliday said.The modular units, technically purchased by Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., will be produced in the Factory OS facility in Vallejo, California—located just north of Google’s headquarters—in the fall. They will likely be used as short-term housing for Google employees.This isn’t the first time a tech company has ventured into the housing space. Facebook recently announced plans to design and add 1,500 modular units to Menlo Park—15 percent of which will count as affordable housing. Share in Featured, Headlines, News Housing Shortage Catches Google’s Eyecenter_img Google HOUSING Housing Inventory housing shortage mortgage 2017-06-14 Aly J. Yale June 14, 2017 822 Views last_img read more

June 14 2018

first_imgJune 14 , 2018 The Chilean walnut industry has been inadvertently caught up in a trade spat between India and the U.S., with shippers from the South American country now subject to a significantly higher tariff for one of their key markets. The Indian Government recently decided to increase import duties for walnuts from 30% to 100%, in retaliation for the U.S. implementing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.However, Nicholás Di Cosmo, president of industry association ChileNut, said that the product code published by India referred to all walnuts, regardless of origin.He said that Chile would be hit heavily by this measure, which is currently in effect. The South American country has a 2,500 metric-ton (MT) shipment current in transit to India, which will be subject to a 100% tariff rate on entry into the market, he said.”Due to the time of year that this action was taken, we will be the most affected because we are currently loading shipments to India, while the U.S. is counter-seasonal to us and will not export until October,” he said.India is an attractive destination for Chilean walnuts, according to Di Cosmo, who said the consumption levels in the market are highest in October when Chile is the main supplier. India pushes back U.S. apple tariff rise date … India: Maharashtra table grape exports surge 20% t … You might also be interested incenter_img India’s death toll grows amid outbreak of ‘brain f … India: Maharashtra grape growers to organize marke … “India is a market that has been growing at great rates, as three years ago we had to export under a methyl bromide fumigation protocol but thanks to the work of SAG [the Agricultural and Livestock Service], the Chilean Government and ChileNut, this was changed to phosphine [in August 2016] and as a result the volume shipped from Chile increased,” he said.Export volumes from Chile to India have risen from 91MT in 2015-16 to 7,800MT last season, he said.Di Cosmo explained the industry had expected to send 15,000MT to India this season, but this was now looking unlikely. So far a total of 5,000MT has been shipped, of which half is still in transit and will be subject to the full tariff rate.”Probably with the tariff increase the local price is going to increase, and so consumption of Chilean walnuts is going to decrease and it’s possible that we won’t ship the 10,000MT remaining that we had hoped to ship,” he said.He said it was likely those remaining volumes would be sent to other markets, but at lower prices than what Chile would have fetched in the Indian market.India has also said it will increase tariffs on U.S. apple imports by 30%, bringing the total rate up to 80%.www.freshfruitportal.comlast_img read more

You might also be interested in

first_img You might also be interested in David Alejandro Salvatierra López has been accused of the act, with the avocados in question said to be worth SOL5,200 (US$1,577).The fruit reportedly would have been bound for the export market. According to Lima Chamber of Commerce’s (Idexcam) Institute of Research and Foreign Trade Development, the country exported US$8 million worth of avocados in January and February. The fruit is more common in overseas markets however through the summer months of the Northern Hemisphere.  U.S.: LGS enhances summer citrus, Peruvian avocado … March 25 , 2019 Australia: Massive hail storm rips through NSW avo … center_img U.S.: California storms won’t damage avocado crops … U.S.: Border closure threat sends Mexican Hass avo … Peruvian National Police have arrested a 25-year-old man for the alleged theft of 800kg (1,764lbs) of avocados in the country’s northern Ancash region, Diario Correo reported. The story reports the avocados were stolen in a series of thefts on March 18, 20 and 21, taking place on a farm run by the Sang Barrents’s Company in the district of Nepeña.last_img read more

Chilean kiwifruit production to drop this season

first_img Chilean kiwifruit production to drop this season … New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) says it is pleased that around 250 people have successfully applied to vary the conditions of their visitor visas following the declaration of a labor shortage.The declaration for the Bay of Plenty and extension in Hawkes Bay was made on April 5 amid concerns over whether there would be enough people in the orchards and in the packhouses for the harvest.The group said the number of people successfully applying to stay longer in the country is expected to “increase sharply over this week”. This week marks the beginning of the peak of harvest for the kiwifruit industry in the Bay of Plenty, NZKGI said in a release. The peak is expected to last until the end of May. Chilean kiwifruit volumes forecast down 15% this s … You might also be interested in April 16 , 2019 center_img Zespri: “It’s certainly been a busy year for us” … Retailers encouraged to “get with the program” … More than 18,000 seasonal workers will be required to pick and pack the kiwifruit, it added.”While we are pleased our attraction campaign has increased the number of visitors who have shown interest to work in the kiwifruit industry, we are likely to require more workers to pick and pack at season peak,” CEO Nikki Johnson said.“As a first priority, we are calling on people who live in close proximity to orchards and packhouses to roll up their sleeves and join us in this booming industry.”Current estimates put the potential labor shortfall at peak around 3,550 the Bay of Plenty’s kiwifruit industry, NZKGI said. There was a shortfall of 1,200 vacancies at the peak of harvest in 2018.So far around a quarter of New Zealand’s estimated volume of over 155 million trays has been picked and packed.Potential employees who would like to find work in the kiwifruit industry can find information around employers, job types and rights on the NZKGI website (www.nzkgi.org.nz). Overseas visitors are encouraged to visit the Immigration New Zealand website where detailed information about varying the conditions of a visa can be found.last_img read more

Adelaide SightseeingappointmentsSeaLink Travel Gro

first_imgAdelaide SightseeingappointmentsSeaLink Travel Group Adelaide Sightseeing Tours and Charters, part of the SeaLink Travel Group, has appointed Tania Dalton as Business Development Executive for conferences and events, and the management of direct group bookings and corporate relationships.Tania has been employed with the SeaLink Travel Group for almost two years in the position of Business Development Executive for Adelaide Sightseeing and prior to that spent seven years in Business Development in the finance sector.“My new role gives me the opportunity to work closer with event organisers to find the most efficient way of providing transport and touring options for delegates,” she said.“Currently we take all of the leg work out of transportation and booking of activities for private touring, saving organisers from having to do the ring around to multiple venues. Now we are working hard to provide systems to take the co-ordination of these delegate bookings off organisers’ plates giving them more time to work on the event itself.” last_img read more