Top Stories RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Jeff Koons’ “Balloon Dog” and Henry Moore’s “Archer” are among some of the world’s most iconic sculptures competing for space at a new museum exhibition where one of Alberto Giacometti’s signature figurines appears to stride boldly into the room.It would be a world-class show if the pieces weren’t copies made of Styrofoam, using the same techniques for making the floats in Rio’s Carnival parades. The exhibit “End of Matter” by Mexican artist Damian Ortega celebrates artisans who make Carnival floats, bringing them out of the stifling hangars where they labor anonymously. In a space transformed into a workshop inside Rio’s Museum of Modern Art, the artisans saw, slice, sand and drill away at giant blocks of Styrofoam while visitors look on.“It’s an homage to work, to the creative process,” said Ortega, one of Mexico’s best-known contemporary artists. Ortega got the idea for the show when he lived in Rio from 2012-2013 and came across a larger-than-life-sized bull’s head of Styrofoam that was abandoned on the train tracks.“It was a survivor from Carnival,” he said in a telephone interview from Mexico City, adding that the encounter inspired him to visit a samba school hangar where such pieces are made. “It was beautiful, so amazing, and the idea stuck with me.”The 47-year-old Ortega has shown his work in numerous countries, and currently has sculptures in the shape of graffiti tags included in the “Panorama” exhibit at the High Line urban park in New York.Ortega’s show in Rio opened last month with a few finished sculptures and a towering pile of Styrofoam in the middle of the exhibition space. The foam has gradually shrunk as seven artisans churn out pieces under his tutelage. The aim is to have the cavernous hall filled with sculptures and all 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds) of foam blocks used up when the exhibit ends on June 14. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The copies, which museum officials calls “homages,” are all true to the size of the originals. As a result, the Styrofoam “Balloon Dog” stands at more than 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) tall, just like the original of polished stainless steel.The show also includes replicas of pieces by unknown artists, such as a grimacing stone carving made by Mexico’s native Olmec people some 2,500 years ago. Next up is an 8-meter- (27-foot-) long reclining Buddha from Southeast Asia, which the artisans will coax out of the massive rectangular blocks using heated metal wires, long knives shaped like scythes and combs with nails for teeth, among other customized tools of the Carnival trade.Rather than their original colors, or the eye-popping hues of the floats, the pieces are plain white, covered in a layer of flat paint that disguises any seams where bits of foam are glued together.While it’s largely the same work the artisans do for the samba schools, working conditions at the museum are very different from those inside the giant hangars in Rio’s derelict port area.For starters, the museum has air conditioning, something the sweltering hangars lack. But the workers have to keep a lid on the noise level at the museum, dialing down the vigor of their scraping and sawing and playing samba songs on the radio at a whisper. 0 Comments Share Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories In this April 30, 2015 photo, a woman takes a picture of a replica of U.S. artist Jeff Koons’ “Balloon Dog,” made out of Styrofoam and using the same techniques used for the floats in Rio’s Carnival parades, at an exhibit designed by Mexican artist Damian Ortega and titled “End of Matter” at the Modern Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At left is a replica of British artist Henry Moore’s “Archer.” At bottom center is a replica of the late French-American artist Louise Bourgeois’ “Cumul I.” Behind, center right is a replica of Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto’s “Glip Family.” The copies, which museum officials calls “homages,” are all true to the size of the originals, so “Balloon Dog” stands at more than 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) tall, like the polish stainless steel original. “Cumul I,” the copy of the diminutive cloud-shaped formation sculptor Louise Bourgeois crafted in marble, could almost be confused with a chunk of Styrofoam litter from the workshop. (AP Photo/Leo Correa) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The vital role family plays in society Still, the museum working hours are a lot better.“Here we have to arrive at a certain time, and the museum closes at a certain time,” said Charles Rocha, 39, who has been a “carnavalesco,” or Carnival artisan, for two decades. “At the samba schools, there’s no such thing as a shift. When Carnival gets close, we work all day, all night and are at it until our arms give out.”Daniel Soave, a 34-year-old who usually works for the Emperatriz Leopoldinense samba school, said the show has helped legitimize his work and has given the Carnival arts the recognition they deserve.Brenda Valansi, co-founder of the annual ArtRio art fair, hailed the show as “interesting, really very cool,” but said she is disappointed about the artwork’s eventual fate.Museum president Carlos Alberto Gouvea Chateaubriand noted the artisans’ time there is limited, and said when the show ends, their pieces will go the way of all Carnival floats — to the garbage.“I understand the concept and it makes total sense, artistically,” said Valansi. “But I would really like to have that Giacometti in my living room,” she said, referring to the sculptor’s long and lean “L’homme qui marche I.” ___Follow Jenny Barchfield on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/jennybarchfieldCopyright © The Associated Press. 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PARIS (AP) — The “U.N. hierarchy” rejected French efforts to hear from the author of a U.N. report alleging that French soldiers sexually abused four children in the Central African Republic, the Paris prosecutor’s office said Thursday.The revelation accompanied word that French authorities had opened a formal judicial inquiry into the case that the Paris prosecutors’ office knew about in July, but was made public only last week following a report in a British newspaper, the Guardian. Sponsored Stories “Quite to the contrary … we are very much cooperating with French authorities,” he said. “We continue to cooperate with them … They submitted questions in writing, and extensive answers were given.”Earlier Thursday, French Defense Ministry spokesman Pierre Bayle said the ministry was in the process of declassifying a military command report about the case, following a request from the French Justice Ministry.In December 2013, France deployed troops to the Central African Republic to protect civilians from sectarian violence. The alleged sexual abuses took place over the following five months or so.French President Francois Hollande has promised tough punishment for any soldier found guilty of sexually assaulting children in the case.Paula Donovan of activist group AIDS-Free World has said that about 16 French soldiers were accused of abusing 10 boys ages 8 to 15, in some cases in exchange for food.The U.N. special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Bangura, told reporters that her office had not been informed of the U.N. report when it was given to French authorities since it has no jurisdiction over soldiers who are not part of U.N. peacekeeping missions. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments Share How men can have a healthy 2019 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 She said she is happy the French are investigating.“There has to be accountability,” she said.___Cara Anna at the U.N. contributed to this report.Copyright © 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 Top Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Independent judges will now take over the case from the prosecutor’s office, an acknowledgment of the seriousness and complexity of the accusations that have sparked international dismay and led to the suspension of a U.N. official who leaked the abuse claims.The prosecutor’s office said U.N. officials twice rejected French efforts to speak with the report’s author, though she was willing to talk with them in Paris. The report’s author said she spoke with six children, four who said they were abused and two others who said they witnessed the abuse.“The U.N. hierarchy refused this questioning, however, indicating that the functionary benefited from immunity that had to be lifted before any questioning,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. The report’s author was not identified.The statement also cited a total of more than six months of delays in French investigators’ efforts to get answers from her, which finally resulted in written responses received on April 29 and in turn led to the probe announced Thursday.The spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Stephane Dujarric, denied that the international body was foot-dragging, telling reporters it has been fully cooperating with the French. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies
Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Any deal would cap nearly a decade of international efforts to restrict Iranian nuclear programs that could be turned toward making weapons.Tehran denies any interest in — or work on — atomic arms, but wants negotiations with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany to conclude with an end to sanctions imposed over its nuclear program.The talks focus on ways to implement commitments by both sides reached in a preliminary deal in April. Iran agreed then to slashing the size of its uranium enrichment program for at least 10 years, as well as re-engineering a nearly built reactor to minimize its output or plutonium — like enriched uranium a potential pathway to nuclear weapons.It also has agreed to give experts of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency unprecedented monitoring authority to ensure that Tehran is hewing to its commitments, as well as more leverage in following up on the allegations of past nuclear weapons work.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober VIENNA (AP) — Iran and six powers are still apart on all main elements of a nuclear deal with less than two weeks to go to their June 30 target date and will likely have to extend their negotiations, two diplomats tell The Associated Press.Their comments enforce concerns that obstacles to a pact remain beyond the public debate on how far Iran must open its nuclear program to outside purview under any deal.Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has for weeks rebuffed U.S. demands that U.N. nuclear monitors have access to military sites and nuclear scientists as they monitor Tehran’s commitments under a deal and probe allegations of past work on atomic arms. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Negotiators are concerned about a lack of headway on all issues. Russian chief delegate Sergey Ryabkov said Friday the “the rate of progress … is progressively slowing down.”Negotiators have been meeting five days a week in Vienna over the past few weeks. The two diplomats are familiar with the progress of the talks and spoke shortly before a planned five-day round reconvened Wednesday. They demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the confidential negotiations.Ways of implementing specific parts of the deal are supposed to be contained in four or five annexes to the main text of an agreement.The diplomats described said the draft of a main document as a patchwork of text and dozens of blank spaces because of stubborn disagreement on up to 10 elements crucial to any deal. Those details are to be included in four or five annexes, which remain incomplete.Both sides remain publicly committed to June 30. Still, the diplomats said all nations at the table recognize that a delay up to July 8 is not a deal-breaker.If U.S. Congress receives a deal by July 8, it has 30 days to review it before U.S. President Barack Obama could suspend congressional sanctions. Postponement beyond that would double the congressional review period to 60 days, giving both Iranian and U.S. opponents more time to work on undermining an agreement.
If genuine, the documents would offer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the notoriously opaque kingdom. They might also shed light on Riyadh’s longstanding regional rivalry with Iran, its support for Syrian rebels and Egypt’s military-backed government, and its opposition to an emerging international agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program.One of the documents, dated to 2012, appears to highlight Saudi Arabia’s well-known skepticism about the Iranian nuclear talks. A message from the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran to the Foreign Ministry in Riyadh describes “flirting American messages” being carried to Iran via an unnamed Turkish mediator.Another 2012 missive, this time sent from the Saudi Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said the United Arab Emirates was putting “heavy pressure” on the Egyptian government not to try former president Hosni Mubarak, who had been overthrown in a popular uprising the year before.Some of the concerns appear specific to Saudi Arabia.In an Aug. 14, 2008 message marked “classified and very urgent,” the Foreign Ministry wrote to the Saudi Embassy in Washington to warn that dozens of students from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries had visited the Israeli Embassy in the U.S. capital as part of an international leadership program. Comments Share New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Top Stories “As a matter of policy we’re not going to discuss the source of the material,” he said.The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not immediately return repeated messages seeking comment.In its statement, WikiLeaks said the release coincided with the three-year anniversary of its founder, Julian Assange, seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about alleged sex crimes. Assange has denied any wrongdoing.___Michael reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Hamza Hendawi in Beirut contributed to this report.___Online:WikiLeaks’ Saudi Cables site: https://wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/___Raphael Satter can be reached at: http://raphae.liCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sponsored Stories “They listened to diplomats’ briefings from the embassy employees, they asked questions and then they took pictures,” the message said, asking the embassy for a speedy update on the situation.Another eye-catching item was a document addressed to the interior and justice ministers notifying them that a son of Osama bin Laden had obtained a certificate from the American Embassy in Riyadh “showing (the) death of his father.”Many more of the dozens of documents examined by The Associated Press appeared to be the product of mundane administrative work, such as emails about setting up a website or operating an office fax machine.The AP was able to partially verify a handful of documents’ authenticity by calling the telephone numbers included in many of them. WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson told AP he was confident that the material was genuine.It is not clear how WikiLeaks got the documents, although in its statement the website referred to a recent electronic attack on the Saudi Foreign Ministry by a group calling itself the Yemen Cyber Army. Hrafnsson declined to elaborate on the statement or say whether the hackers subsequently passed documents on to WikiLeaks. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center ISTANBUL (AP) — WikiLeaks is in the process of publishing more than 500,000 Saudi diplomatic documents to the Internet, the transparency website said Friday, a move that echoes its famous release of U.S. State Department cables in 2010.WikiLeaks said in a statement that it has already posted roughly 60,000 files. Most of them appear to be in Arabic.There was no immediate way to verify the authenticity of the documents, although WikiLeaks has a long track record of hosting large-scale leaks of government material. Many of the documents carried green letterhead marked “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” or “Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” Some were marked “urgent” or “classified.” At least one appeared to be from the Saudi Embassy in Washington.
There’s no evidence the rumors are true. The gangs, sophisticated criminal organizations, even issued a statement to deny the hair-color decree.But with violence in El Salvador reaching levels rivaling those of the civil war that ended more than two decades ago, few are willing to take risks.El Salvador has just experienced one of its most violent months since the end of the civil war in 1992, with 635 homicides reported in May for the country of just over 6 million people. June is on track to break that mark, with the latest bloodshed coming Sunday when suspected gang members killed two soldiers guarding a bus terminal in the capital.Fear is pervasive across San Salvador. As daylight fades, stores close early and streets empty. At night, roadblocks go up to thwart possible grenade attacks on police stations, where officers sleep rather than risk being attacked while riding buses home.Taxi drivers memorize signals to give gang lookouts who guard neighborhoods, flashing codes with their high beams and rolling down their windows to make themselves visible.Castellanos counts the number of women who’ve come to her salon recently seeking to color their hair dark: One, two, three, four … The police say they are ready for battle.“Things have to get worse before they get better,” said a police official, who agreed to comment only if not quoted by name for fear of reprisals. “When I see one (gang member) on the street, I’m going to shoot him before he shoots me.”Police say the crackdown on gang strongholds in the cities has caused members to flee to surrounding rural areas, bringing violence with them.On a warm, muggy May night in Olocuitla, a town about 20 miles (30 kilometers) south of San Salvador, the bodies of two teens were found in a steep gully after a shootout with police near an old cattle stable, which gang members had turned into a shooting range. One of the dead was the leader of the cell, a 16-year-old who had a grenade in his hand.Such evidence of crime’s spread has rural residents taking new precautions.Carlos Treminio, a street vendor who lives on the north edge of the capital, now accompanies his teenage son and daughter on their walk to school rather than leave them vulnerable to gang recruiters.“These jerks lurk around the schools and offer everything to join the gang. If you refuse, they kill you,” Treminio said. “I will do everything to protect my children.” New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Word on the street is that only the girlfriends of gang members are allowed to be redheads or blondes. So in this violent place, women are scurrying to salons to give up their blond hair and highlights, to dye it all black — not out of fashion sense, but out of fear.“They also say you can’t wear yellow or red clothing,” said Claudia Castellanos, a beautician at an upscale salon. “Can you believe it? They’ve already attacked a woman on a bus for wearing yellow.” Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Comments Share Howard Cotto, assistant national police chief and a former guerrilla commander, said the gangs will not find the sort of rural support enjoyed by rebels in the 1980s because they have no ideology.“They are much more vulnerable,” he said.But, he believes, nothing will change unless the country addresses problems of poverty and a lack of opportunity for young people. The government has arrested 12,000 gang members in the last year with little to show for it, he said.“We can go in and arrest 50 gang members and 50 more will take their places,” Cotto said. “With just arrests, we won’t accomplish anything.”Mijango, who helped negotiate the last truce, sees negotiation as the path to avoid the sort of bloodshed the country saw when his Farabundo Marti National Liberation was fighting conservative governments in the 1980s.Now the former rebel movement is the governing party and it is the gangs who control territories where 90 percent of El Salvador’s people live, noted Miguel Fortin Magana, the chief forensics officer for the country’s Supreme Court.“This is like a virus that has spread throughout the country,” he said. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories This June 12, 2015 photo shows hair styling doll heads on a counter at a hair salon in downtown San Salvador, El Salvador. Salvadoran women are giving up their blonde hair and highlights and dying it all black out of fear. The word on the street is that only the girlfriends of gang members are allowed to be redheads or blondes. Women who defy the order could be attacked. There’s no evidence the rumors are true. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo) “You don’t wait for clarifications,” said Maria Jose Estrada, a former blonde who lives on the outskirts of San Salvador. “These people are crazy and they will kill you.”Police officials and others blame the worsening insecurity on the breakdown of a truce made between the gangs and the government in 2013. While the homicide rate plunged, critics say the truce gave the gangs time to strengthen, train and acquire heavier arms than they had in the past.Jailed gang leaders were moved from maximum-security prisons to more lax facilities where they were able to run their criminal operations remotely.But in January, the 6-month-old government of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren publicly rejected any truce and launched an aggressive crackdown, putting gang leaders back in maximum-security cells. The change has meant the streets now are controlled by younger, better-armed criminals who are willing to be reckless.“You take away the mature leadership, and you get a structure that is made up of younger, fanatical people who want to make a name for themselves,” said Raul Mijango, a former guerrilla and a facilitator of the truce. “They want war.” Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Patients with chronic pain give advice Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 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Avis has managed to significantly narrow its losses in 2009, recording a US$77 million loss before tax compared to a US$1.3 billion loss for the calendar year of 2008.This was despite revenues dropping 14% down to US$5.1 billion for the 12 months ending December, 2009 compared to the same period a year earlier. Avis has attributed the result to its ongoing cost reduction program.“In the fourth quarter, we saw… strong pricing, tepid demand, a healthy used-car market and rigorous cost control throughout our operations. This enabled us to post significant year-over-year improvement in earnings,” said Ronald Nelson, Avis Budget Group Chairman and CEO.“Our decisions to remain tight-fleeted and further reduce unprofitable transactions helped us increase our Domestic Car Rental EBITDA by more than $80 million versus the prior-year quarter, despite lower revenues and lower rental volumes.”In 2010 Avis expects year-over-year rental volume comparisons to continue improving, while cost-savings initiatives already in place will continue to pay off.Per-unit fleet costs are also expected to decline year-over-year as Avis intends to add more model-year 2010 vehicles to its fleet. <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/20aa0/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=132&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=a238f441″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X
Christmas Island hotels are booked solid, but not with tourists, instead, people linked to the Immigration Detention Centre are filling the island’s four hotels and the tour operators are suffering.Giving the catch-cry, ‘they’re taking our jobs’, a new perspective, Christmas Island dive boat operator Simon Prince told The Australian the Detention Centre was to blame for his flagging business.Public servants, contractors and the like are booking out the island’s 260 hotel rooms and while they may spend on dining, accommodation and shopping, they are not spending on touring, Mr Prince told the newspaper.Those that have toured with Mr Prince usually only request short trips, while the majority seem to work “flat-out on fly-in, fly-out rosters”, The Australian reported.”There is literally nowhere for … dive groups to stay and no cars for them to hire unless they book at least five months in advance,” he said.The longer his boat stays dry, the closer Mr Prince said he comes to closing his business.Despite flights from Virgin making it easier for people to get to the Island, it is finding them a place to stay that causes the problem, Christmas Island Tourism Association chairwoman Lisa Preston said.The percentage of people coming to Christmas Island dropped from 28 per cent to 20 per cent between September 2007 and February this year, as the percentage travelling there for work grew from 31 per cent to 55 per cent in the same period, reported the newspaper. <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/2a579/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F The Southern Island province of Hainan is now the most accessible Island in China, thanks to new regulations introduced by the Chinese government. The newly introduced visa exemptions, will grant passport holders from 27 countries including Australia and New Zealand unparalleled access to Hainan. The first exemption is a ‘Free Landing Visa,’ targeted mainly at groups, which is the first in China to allow travellers free access in and out of Hainan Island without a visa. The second exemption is a special Landing visa perfect for individuals or couples and can be acquired on arrival of any airport of Hainan. The free Landing Visa entitles travellers to stay in Hainan for up to 15 days free, provided that they enter in and out of Haikou or Sanya international airports. The Special Landing Visa policy has also been seen as a landmark for all travellers as it provides travellers with the easiest method of obtaining a visa in China. On arrival at any airport in Hainan, travellers must simply go to the visa station before customs to process, it normally takes 10 minutes and costs just RMB200(Approx $30AUD), compared to the $80 and a trip to the Chinese Consulate.This visa is also valid for 15 days, but can be extended at any of police station in China for up to a two-month period.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.C Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways (BA), has denounced the government’s newly introduced Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax as a disgrace. The APD will have a huge adverse effect on developing countries’ economies as well as Britain’s, Mr Walsh said in a Fly.co.uk report.The tax currently raises £2.3 billion for the Treasury every year, but Walsh says that the APD is set to generate £3.8 billion by 2015 with a 65 per cent increase. He warned that rising passenger numbers couldn’t meet the rate of increase of the tax, noting that the levy on individual passengers would need to rise to keep pace. The airline chief cited developing countries such as the Caribbean as being negatively impacted – 12 per cent fall in arrivals to the region from the UK has been witnessed ever since the APD raised the cost of a family-of-four holiday from £120 to £200. Other islands have seen a 25 per cent decline in arrivals from Britain. Mr Walsh said the obsession with aviation taxes will harm carriers and their goodwill, as UK carriers have been relatively more hurt by the APD than carriers in Europe who weren’t burdened with a similar tax.The proposed per-plane tax from the coalition government, he added, could suffocate BA’s efforts to develop in the Caribbean under the increasing levies.
Nyungwe Forest Lodge takes ‘Best International New Small Hotel – Construction & Design’ award and receives 5 Star grading all in one year…1 October 2012 – On 9 September 2012 Lodge owner, Dubai World Africa together with associates, representatives of government, tour operators and valued guests came together to celebrate Nyungwe Forest Lodge’s most notable achievements since opening its doors for business in March 2010. The property recently received 5 star grading, making Nyungwe Forest Lodge the only 5 star lodge in Rwanda and the celebrations have continued with the announcement that Nyungwe Forest Lodge received the prestigious “Best International New Small Hotel – Construction & Design” award for 2011 – 2012 at the highly respected International Hotels Awards event, held on the 18th January 2012 at The Savoy Hotel in London, beating other regional and continental winners and entries from 73 countries. At the ceremony held to unveil the award plaques, Nick Webb, Managing Director of Dubai World Africa recalled “when I first visited the site, I was overwhelmed by its beauty and tranquility but also by the obligation to develop the site with extreme care, ensuring that the lodge would in fact complement the magnificent forest which gave rise to this once in a life-time opportunity.Webb also noted the extreme logistical challenges involved during the construction of the lodge “there were no services or infrastructure to speak of on the site and all materials, furniture and equipment had to be transported over great distances to this remote and spectacular project location.He also reminded the gathering that the lodge was built through a period of recession and its completion was at times at risk. “For all these reasons and more, the lodge is a great achievement and a tribute to the creativity, sacrifices, dedication and perseverance of many.”Nyungwe Forest Lodge is set in Rwanda’s mountainous southwest Gisakura region and lies in a tea plantation on the edge of the Nyungwe closed-canopy rain forest. South African Airways flies direct to Kigali from Johannesburg every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday and Air Rwanda operates direct flights every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. From Kigali airport it approximately a 250 km drive or a 30 minute scheduled flight from Kigali to Kamembe airport. Lodge facilities include an outdoor heated infinity swimming pool with uninterrupted views over the forest, a boma area, an indoor restaurant flowing out onto an undercover terrace overlooking the tea plantation, a private dining / conference room, a tea lounge where guests can enjoy daily tea Ceremonies, bar area, a spa with two treatment rooms, a fitness centre and a helicopter landing pad. All 20 luxurious rooms and the 2 spacious two bedroom suites offer private decks affording views of the vast forest terrain which is home to innumerable tree species, flowering plants and over 13 primate species including chimpanzees and colobus monkeys. Other room amenities include; air-conditioning, en suite bathrooms, flat screen TV with satellite, wireless internet access, mini bar. Source = Nyungwe Forest Lodge
In an effort to improve fuel efficiency, a low-cost Indian airline will only employ female flight attendants in the future.Over the next seven years India’s GoAir plans to increase its fleet by 80 aircraft and has decided the 2000 cabin crew needed will be female only, the Times of India reported.Employing only female cabin crew in the future could save the airline over AU$550,000 per year on fuel costs, give that women are, on average, 15kg to 20kg lighter than men.GoAir currently employs 130 male flight attendants and says they will not be dismissed.India’s currency fell 27 percent against the US dollar in the past year.“The rupee’s fall has hurt the industry badly,” GoAir chief executive Giorgo De Roni said.“All major expenses – aircraft leasing, spare parts and fuel costs – are linked to the dollar and we are looking at every possible way of cost-cutting to remain profitable.”GoAir also plans to reduce the size of its in-flight magazine and the amount of water stored in its water tanks.Source = ETB News: P.T. Lighter female attendants deemed more fuel efficient.
Travel booking company CheapAir.com has released a study on the best times to book flights and when to book them early. The research, which is an aggregation of flight pattern data over a number of years, reaches a number of conclusions. In the first instance, the research shows that the best time to book flights is 54 days before departure or approximately seven and a half weeks. Lastly, the study revealed data on the optimal time to book flights to different destinations. For example, CheapAir found that the best time to book for the South Pacific is 70 days out, for Africa it is 89 days out and the Caribbean 101 days out. The data shows that between 225 and 110 days out from departure fares drop and then are within $10 of their low point. CheapAir’s research also found that it is very bad to book too early – booking 7 months from departure will tend to result in you paying the most expensive fares. In terms of when to book early, the study concluded that 54 days is the earliest time you should consider booking based on their analysis of flight booking patterns. Source = ETB News: T.N.
Holiday Inn Express debuts in New GuineaInterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has welcomed Holiday Inn Express Port Moresby to its portfolio, located in the heart of the government district in the Papua New Guinean capital. Situated in a secure compound, the hotel is set in the middle of 12 acres of landscaped gardens with a variety of recreational facilities to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay.The 199-room hotel, which is the first Holiday Inn Express hotel in Papua New Guinea, offers a choice of modern queen and twin rooms, as well as free on-site undercover parking and a complimentary airport bus for international travellers.Access to the hotel is via a modern four-lane highway, only 6km from Jacksons International Airport and 8km away from the Port Moresby CBD. For business travellers, the Papua New Guinean Parliament, as well as many government departments and diplomatic offices are situated close by. Travellers keen for a bit of downtime can enjoy a round of golf at the nearby Royal Port Moresby Golf Club, native flora and fauna in the Port Moresby Nature Park or, for culture buffs, art and historic artefacts at the National Museum and Art Gallery.Karin Sheppard, Chief Operating Officer for Australasia, Japan, Korea & Franchise, IHG commented: “Holiday Inn Express is our fastest growing brand globally so it’s great to see it launching in new markets across the region. It’s the ideal option for the today’s on-the-go traveller, offering them everything they need and nothing they don’t for a reasonable rate. Papua New Guinea is a unique market and it’s an important step to now have three of our great brands, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, available to guests in the city.“The first Holiday Inn Express hotel in South East Asia launched in 2012 and since then, we’ve already grown to a total of 12 hotels across Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. We’re looking forward to the launch of the brand in Australia next year too,” she added.The opening of the first Holiday Inn Express hotel in Papua New Guinea follows the successful expansion of the brand across South East Asia and preludes the launch of the brand in Australia next year. IHG has partnered with Pro Invest Group who has established a $150 million fund to develop a portfolio of 15 Holiday Inn Express hotels in Australia.Source = IHG
The Remarkables has international appealQueenstown’s Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski areas have joined The Mountain Collective, a grouping of 12 of the best ski resorts in the world.The resorts in the Mountain Collective are iconic international ski and snowboard destinations, all committed to the highest standards of guest service and providing top quality ski and snowboard terrain.The Collective includes the most well-known resorts in the world — Aspen/Snowmass, Whistler Blackcomb, AltaSnowbird, Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine, Jackson Hole, Mammoth Resorts, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Stowe, Sun Valley, Taos, and Thredbo.Membership of the Mountain Collective entitles NZSki 3 Peak (combined Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Mt Hutt) 2016 season pass holders to half-price skiing or snowboarding at each of the other member resorts.While the benefits are obvious for Kiwi snow lovers they work both ways – encouraging skiers who already know and love those overseas mountains to travel to New Zealand to experience the best it’s got to offer.“It’s a privilege to be invited to join The Mountain Collective; our inclusion is testament to ongoing investment in our facilities and the wonderful team we’ve got delivering outstanding guest service at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Mt Hutt,” says NZSki CEO Paul Anderson.“We’re committed to delivering the best possible snowsports product and this puts us in the company of the most respected winter destinations on the planet.“We’re delighted to join this international network which further reinforces Queenstown’s reputation as a world-class destination with Coronet Peak and The Remarkables as the key winter attractions.”Night skiing at Coronet PeakDestination Queenstown CEO Graham Budd agrees that NZSki’s inclusion in The Mountain Collective will increase Queenstown’s winter visitor appeal.“Congratulations to Coronet Peak and The Remarkables for being welcomed into The Mountain Collective,” he said.“This hard-earned recognition places Queenstown’s two closest ski areas in illustrious company and is further recognition of our international appeal. It also creates another reason for international skiers and snowboarders to visit our region and experience everything Queenstown has to offer.”The Mountain Collective also offers a Mountain Collective Pass valid for two complimentary days at each of the member resorts, and a 50% discount on buying subsequent passes at any of the member areas. This pass can be bought from the Mountain Collective website.Last year NZSki released details of Earlybird 3 Peak season pass pricing at $599, aimed at growing participation in skiing and snowboarding, introducing new people to snow sports, and celebrating years of significant investment in the Queenstown ski areas.Skiers and snow boarders who buy those passes – still on sale at the Earlybird price of $599 for adults until March 31 2016 – are the winners. Not only do they benefit from hundreds of dollars shaved from pass prices but also increased choice and extended benefits now including the Mountain Collective. Buy your NZSki pass hereSource = NZSki
Courtyard by Marriott continues to expand in IndonesiaCourtyard by Marriott continues to expand in IndonesiaCourtyard by Marriott Bandung Dago has opened its doors in Bandung, Indonesia. Featuring an open and inviting lobby space as well as Courtyard’s latest contemporary room design, Courtyard constantly evolves to meet the changing needs of its guests. Strategically located at Jalan Ir. H. Juanda 33 Bandung, the 187-room hotel will operate as a Marriott managed property and owned by PT. Sanbe KaryaPersada. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, the Courtyard Bandung Dago offers guests convenient access to visit all of the most popular attractions in Bandung within walking distance.“Courtyard has always prided itself as a brand that listens to business travelers,” said Mike Fulkerson, Vice President, Brand & Marketing Asia-Pacific, Marriott International. “Guests today want to be able to seamlessly transition between working and relaxing. Courtyard is designed to offer them a comfortable and functional space to work the way they want to, when they want to.”The Courtyard Bandung Dago also offers a contemporary lobby environment. Along with media pods, complimentary Wi-Fi and a variety of seating zones, the redefined space is ideal for everything from pop-up meetings to social gatherings. The design of the 187 guest rooms at the Courtyard Bandung Dago is inviting with each room featuring hybrid zones for both working and resting. Signature furniture pieces are complemented with modern technology creating flexible yet comfortable spaces to enhance productivity. Convenience is key – upon arrival, guests can store bags at the Luggage Drop area and plug in personal devices at the Tech Drop charging station ledge for seamless technology integration. The “Lounge Around” sofa offers a pop of color and is a comfortable area for relaxing or for working.Momo Café, the hotel’s all-day dining venue, offers a wide selection of local and international favorites, and also a range of healthy options. The business library features several computer terminals to work with ease while on the road. The hotel also features an outdoor swimming pool and sauna, fitness center, spa, kids club, and guest laundry, and offers 789 square feet of modern meeting space to accommodate functions of up to 1,500 people.“We are very excited to open our doors to both domestic and international guests in Bandung, also known as The City of Flowers. Courtyard Bandung Dago is the leading urban four-star hotel in Bandung with its prime location and modern design,” said Kadek Suartana, General Manager of Courtyard by Marriott Bandung Dago. Source = Courtyard by Marriott Bandung Dago
Air Manas has recently increased its frequency on the Bishkek-Delhi route, now operating three flights a week. This was announced at an evening organized by the Kyrgyz Republic in association with Air Manas. The additional frequency (operated on Sundays) departs from Bishkek at 5:20am and arrives in Delhi at 8:10am. On the return leg, the flight from Delhi operates at 9:15am and reaches Bishkek at 1:05pm.Yusuf Serdar Erman, Vice President– Commercial, Air Manas, informed that the load factor between Delhi and Bishkek is up to 75%, with a mix of leisure and business travellers. The airline will operate a Boeing 737-800 new generation aircraft on the Bishkek-Delhi route with a seating capacity for 189 passengers.Sharad Goel, Managing Director, Lark Logistics (the General Sales Agent for Air Manas in India), said, “The business potential for Indians in Kyrgyzstan apart from tourism is worth mentioning. We request the members of the press to highlight the tie up of India and Kyrgyzstan its proximity of just three hours away via Air Manas, the potential of tourism and business.”Air Manas is the official carrier of the Kyrgyz Republic. After its re-launch in the year 2012, Air Manas today is run in association with Pegasus Airlines.
Study: Falling Home Prices Not Improving Affordability in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Share With home prices down so far down from their peak and mortgage rates hovering around record lows, many analysts are saying home affordability could hardly be any higher. However, a study released by “”Interest.com””:http://www.interest.com/ shows homes are only truly affordable in about half of the nation’s major cities.[IMAGE]””Despite all of the talk about how homes are more affordable than they have been in decades, buying a home is still a big challenge for many American households,”” said Mike Sante, managing editor for Interest.com.Rising expenses and stagnant wages are preventing median-income households from being able to afford median-income homes, Sante explained. Significant differences in median incomes, as well as costs like property taxes and homeowners insurance, have put homeownership out of reach for many households.For its first ever Home Affordability Study, the site used data from the “”Census Bureau””:http://www.census.gov/, the “”National Association of Realtors””:http://www.realtor.org/, the “”National Association of Insurance Commissioners””:http://www.naic.org/, and “”Experian””:http://www.experian.com/ to calculate city-specific costs for median incomes, prices, consumer debt, and more. Each city was then graded based on its results, with a “”C”” indicating that someone making the median income would be able to afford a median-priced home.The results showed a median income household would be able to afford a median-priced home in 14 of the nation’s 25 largest metro areas. For some areas, the measurement of home affordability went well beyond the normal metrics used to gauge the housing market.[COLUMN_BREAK]For example, Atlanta, Georgia├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┬Øwhich earned an “”A””├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┬Øbenefits from its relatively low home prices, with its median sales price sitting at less than half the average for all 25 cities. However, the city’s lower than average property taxes and insurance costs, as well as its slightly above average median income, also play a big role in affordability.According to the study’s “”Paycheck Power Rating””├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┬Øa measurement of how much a city’s median income exceeds or falls short of its median home price├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┬ØAtlanta’s median income beats the income needed to buy a median-priced home by a margin of 40 percent.The study also revealed interesting differences in markets. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for example, has a similar median income and home price as the Twin Cities area in Minnesota. However, Milwaukee’s property taxes are nearly 47 percent higher, earning the city a “”D+”” rating compared to Minneapolis-St. Paul’s “”A-.””Investor activity is creating another problem for some cities. San Diego, a popular retirement destination, has attracted a lot of interest from investors, many of whom are international. These wealthy investors cause a disconnect between the local housing market and local incomes.””We’re seeing a lot of cash deals├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┬Ø27 percent of multiple listing service deals in our recent figures,”” said Donna Sanfilippo, president of the “”San Diego Association of Realtors””:http://www.sdar.com/. “”Investors are coming back into the market. We’re seeing foreign investment.””These specific issues highlight problems the “”Center for Housing Policy””:http://www.nhc.org/about/Center-Mission-Goals.html (CHP) has been trying to warn the industry about, Interest.com said.””In many communities there is a fundamental disconnect between the income families have and the costs of buying a home,”” said Jeffrey Lubell, executive director for the CHP. “”Falling house prices haven’t solved the problem. They’ve helped, but they haven’t solved it.””If you can’t afford a home now, it’s not going to get better. This is as good as it gets,”” he continued. October 17, 2012 457 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Census Bureau Home Prices Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers National Association of Realtors Processing Service Providers 2012-10-17 Tory Barringer
Losses Mortgage Bankers Association Profits Purchase Loans 2014-06-10 Tory Barringer Share Rising Costs Turn Per-Loan Profits into Losses June 10, 2014 593 Views After a rough 2013—which saw average per-loan profits decline by nearly half year-over-year—mortgage banks are now losing money on each loan originated, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported Tuesday.According to the trade group, independent mortgage banks and mortgage subsidiaries of chartered banks reported a net loss of $194 on each loan originated in the first quarter of the year, down from a scant $150 profit made per loan in Q4 2013.Marina Walsh, MBA’s VP of industry analysis, said profits took a hit from lower production volumes, which averaged $274 million per company, down more than 25 percent quarter-over-quarter.”Purchase volume did not pick-up, while refinancing volume dropped and costs continued to rise,” Walsh said. “Given these conditions, companies that managed to break even in the first quarter should consider that a reasonable outcome.”Among the more than 300 companies reporting data for the quarter, the purchase share of total originations (by dollar volume) remained mostly flat at 68 percent. For the industry as a whole, MBA estimates purchase share picked up to 51 percent.With refinance numbers looking meager compared to their recent boom, market watchers have been waiting for home purchase lending to pick up the slack—a trend that has yet to develop, thanks to rising costs, low inventory, and economic challenges throwing off potential buyers.Meanwhile, total loan production expenses, including commissions, compensation, and other costs, increased sharply to $8,025 per loan last quarter, the highest on record since the MBA started tracking performance in 2008. Production expenses were just less than $7,000 in the previous report.Including all business lines, only a little more than half—54 percent—of firms in MBA’s latest study posted pre-tax financial profits in the first quarter, down from 58 percent the prior quarter and 94 percent a year ago. in Daily Dose, Featured, Headlines, News, Origination
FY17 Budget Homelessness HUD President Barack Obama 2016-02-08 Staff Writer in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News President Obama Speaks on Housing, Finally February 8, 2016 776 Views Share Last month in his final State of the Union Address, President Obama failed to mention housing policy at all. In his 2015 speech, he barely mentioned it, just giving a brief nod to the then-recent 50-basis point reduction on mortgage insurance premiums by the FHA.The president’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2017 (which begins on October 1, 2016) includes a historic proposal regarding housing, however. According to an announcement from HUD, the president’s budget request for $11 billion to end family homelessness in the budget, which is scheduled to be unveiled on Tuesday, February 9.The Opening Doors program, which was the first-ever federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, was launched by President Obama nearly six years ago. While that program has made strides, there is more work to be done, according to HUD.“Today, we can celebrate historic successes in reducing homelessness in all its forms—but we need to reach more families with the proven, cost-effective strategies that have driven that success,” HUD stated in its announcement.In January 2010, there were 54,ooo homeless families nationwide, including 123,000 children; the Opening Doors program has reduced that number by 19 percent in the last six years. In some pockets of the country, however, the rental affordability crisis has resulted in an increase in homelessness among families, according to HUD.With the work that has been done in the last six years since Opening Doors was launched, HUD knows more about how to end homelessness than at any time in the nation’s history.”We also know that bipartisan support for proven investments is enabling communities across the country to end homelessness among veterans,” HUD said in the announcement. “When we commit together to investing in what works, we can achieve bold goals. That is why President Obama is calling for an historic investment of $11 billion over the next 10 years in community-based, cost-effective strategies that we know work. That investment will help us achieve our goal by 2020 and maintain that achievement.”HUD stated that its recent Family Option Study showed that direct access to affordable housing will be the fastest way to end homelessness among families and children and will improve their economic and social well-being at the same time.By supporting those strategies, President Obama’s FY2017 budget proposal will end homelessness with some 550,000 families and will enable communities across the country to end homelessness by 2020.
Why is Originator Profitability Muted? in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News, Origination Mortgage Originator Profitability rates Urban Institute 2016-05-27 Staff Writer Although interest rates have been at historical lows, they have been highly responsive to the general level of interest rates, causing originators’ profits to suffer.A report from Urban Institute found that originator profitability, which is a calculation from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York of the price at which the originator actually sells the mortgage into the secondary market and adds the value of retained servicing as well as points paid by the borrower, has been in the narrow range of 2.04 to 2.70 since 2014, and stood 2.51 in Apr 2016.”When originator profitability is high, mortgage rates tend to be less responsive to the general level of interest rates, as originators are capacity-constrained,” the report said.Urban Institute also reported that first lien originations for the year of 2015 totaled approximately $1,735 billion. Portfolio originations made up 30 percent of this total, the data showed. FHA and VA and private label originations account for 23 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.Meanwhile, the GSE share fell to 46 percent from 47 percent in 2014, showing the decrease in FHA market share due to the FHA premium cut.In January 2015, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced a reduction of 0.50 percent to its annual mortgage insurance premium.The FHA also noted that there would be positive benefits for middle-class and lower-income homebuyers, particularly first-time buyers, but this may not necessarily be the case according to data from the Urban Institute.”This step is part of the President’s broader effort to expand responsible lending to creditworthy borrowers and increase access to sustainable rental housing for families not ready or wanting to buy a home,” said The White House Office of the Press Secretary. May 27, 2016 696 Views Share