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Lithuania vigilante case exposes social divides

first_imgAssociated PressKAUNAS, Lithuania (AP) – A desperate father launches a bloody vendetta against an alleged pedophile network of judges and politicians that he says preyed on his 5-year-old daughter. After two murders, Drasius Kedys hides in the countryside until he is found dead under mysterious circumstances.It’s not the plot of a Stieg Larsson crime novel but the outline of a sad and sordid case that has split Lithuania into two camps. One side believes Kedys fabricated the allegations as part of a custody dispute with the girl’s mother; the other sees a wider conspiracy of corrupt child molesters running the country. Experts say the dispute, which has become a national obsession, reflects deeper currents of discontent in a post-Soviet society plagued by emigration and the world’s highest suicide rate. The fact that so many Lithuanians are prepared to side with a presumed killer despite such inconclusive evidence reflects an overwhelming lack of trust in public institutions. A Eurobarometer survey in November 2010 showed that faith in the courts was the lowest in Lithuania among 27 European Union member states.“People have found a way to express their dissatisfaction with their lives and their country. This is the main driving force of the movement,” said Andrius Kaluginas, a psychologist who has criticized the “violets.”Lithuania’s exuberance at joining the EU and NATO in 2004 was soon replaced by disillusionment as the previously booming economy nearly collapsed during the global financial crisis.Lithuania remains one of the EU’s poorest members and has not overcome the social problems that have dogged it before and after the Soviet breakup in 1991. Alcoholism is rampant, and the suicide rate is the highest in the world, according to the most recent data from the World Health Organization.Many Lithuanians feel nostalgic for the economic security of Soviet times. Life was grim behind the Iron Curtain but at least the state provided a stable living and welfare benefits. The freedoms of capitalism have also brought wrenching uncertainties and widened the gap between haves and have-nots. Two years after Kedys’ body was found, the case still inflames passions in Lithuania, and last month even reached the U.S., where an angry mob of Lithuanian-American Kedys supporters swarmed the Lithuanian president’s motorcade ahead of the NATO summit in Chicago.“If I were able to say where the truth is and who is right, I would have done so long ago,” President Dalia Grybauskaite told a group of Lithuanian-Americans in Lemont, the Chicago suburb where she ran into the protest. “Unfortunately, the whole story is very complicated and corrupted by investigators from the beginning.”The drama unfolded in Kaunas, a city of 500,000 in south-central Lithuania notorious for poor infrastructure, lopsided wooden homes, and not least of all, corrupt officials wedded to local crime syndicates.Kedys, a bodybuilder businessman, was a man determined to retain custody of his daughter.Not only did he accuse the girl’s mother of pimping her to a pedophile ring, but he video-recorded the girl giving detailed descriptions of sexual acts he claims she was asked to perform by three grown men, then sent the video to over a hundred politicians and law enforcement officials. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Reaching deeper back in history, the people of this tiny nation recall the greatness of medieval times, when Lithuania, together with Poland, lorded over a swath of eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Black seas _ a golden age that the country will never resurrect.And the country is shrinking _ at an alarming rate. Hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians have moved other EU countries, primarily Ireland, Britain, and Norway, in search of a better life. Over the past decade, Lithuania’s population, now 3 million, has declined 1 percent annually for a total loss of more than 300,000 people, according to last year’s census.With such problems at home, Lithuanians have shown little interest in the wider economic crisis in Europe, which is seen mainly as an issue affecting wealthier nations in the West.The Kedys saga is likely to continue until general elections in October, as many politicians are keen to keep tensions high. Kedys’ supporters have even registered a party that will vie for seats in Parliament: The Way of Courage.Critics say the mob justice mentality prevailing in the case is a sign that Lithuania has not fully embraced the values underpinning the EU.“A person who likely killed two people was made a martyr, and the mob has created its own code of law,” said Dalia Kuodyte, a liberal member of Parliament. “Lithuania must prove it is still a judicial and democratic state that respects the law and human rights.” Comments   Share   More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories Police finally broke through the wall of protesters on May 17 _ arresting nearly 40 of them _ allowing Stankunaite and her lawyer to whisk the girl into an awaiting police van.Later the same day hundreds of enraged Kedys supporters turned up to demonstrate outside the President Grybauskaite’s residence in Vilnius.“Lithuania is being demolished with the help of authorities as they use force against an innocent child and destroy the republic’s moral foundations,” said protester Darius Kuolys, a former adviser to ex-President Valdas Adamkus.Days later, Grybauskaite got another feel of public wrath _ only this time in Chicago, where she was attending the NATO summit. In Lemont, as she headed to a Lithuanian community event, a crowd of hostile Lithuanian-Americans blocked her car, shouting “disgrace” and waving banners saying Lithuania was “blind to children’s tears.” Secret Service officers had to jump out of their vehicles and push aside protesters to let the motorcade pass.What actually happened to the girl is a mystery.The main evidence cited by “the violets” is the 3-year-old video testimony Kedys made of the girl, who is now 8. A psychiatric evaluation found it unlikely that she had made it all up, but skeptics say it’s possible that Kedys had coached her. Doctors who examined her found no physical injuries, and prosecutors dropped the investigation for lack of proof. When his appeal fell on deaf years, Kedys took the law in his own hands.In October 2009, he allegedly shot and killed two people he had accused of abetting the alleged pedophile ring _ one of whom was the mother’s sister. He then disappeared, only to be found dead six months later, in April 2010. Police said he died after binge drinking and choking on his own vomit _ a finding that many Lithuanians don’t believe.The tragedy didn’t end there. Two months later, one of three men whom Kedys accused of molesting his daughter, died after ostensibly falling from his dune buggy and drowning in a creek _ one that was only 8 inches (20 centimeters) deep.Lithuania appears evenly split between those who see Kedys as a vigilante hero, and those who believe he snapped while trying to win the custody dispute against the girl’s mother.The division cuts like a knife through Lithuanian society, souring dinner party conversations and ruining friendships.The most fervent group of Kedys supporters _ dubbed “the violets” after the color of a T-shirt Kedys wore in a now iconic photo of him and his daughter _ have continued his struggle on the streets. For six months they surrounded the house where Kedys’ relatives were keeping the girl, determined to prevent police from enforcing a court order that gave custody to the mother, Laimute Stankunaite, who claims Kedys fabricated the pedophilia claims to discredit her. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family How do cataracts affect your vision? (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

Foreign Haitian designers display work in Haiti

first_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches ErrorOK.. ErrorOK Haitian singers Emeline Michel and James Germain lent their voices to the show to give first-time visitors another aspect of Haitian culture.Dominican designer Socrates McKinney said Haiti has “a very strong culture, and that in some sense has to be reflected in the fashion.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosterone PETIONVILLE, Haiti (AP) – World-class fashion has gone on display in impoverished Haiti.More than three dozen designers showed off their latest tropic-centric creations on a runway at Haiti Fashion Week, which ended Sunday. Visitors came from places as close as the neighboring Dominican Republic and as far as Japan.“It was such a great, great experience to have Haitian designers all on the same runway,” said David Andre, a designer who owns a clothing store in Petionville and debuted his 2013 collection of resort wear for men and women. He hopes to see the event become an “annual rendezvous.” Organizers say it’s the first time such that a fashion show of this scale has taken place in the Caribbean country, which is still slowly rebuilding from the 2010 earthquake that destroyed thousands of buildings and displaced more than a million people.They also hope the event will show a different side to disaster-prone Haiti even as the country struggles to rebound from Hurricane Sandy and a storm last week that officials say killed up to 65 people.Haitian designers like Andre are holding out hopes that international buyers will purchase pieces from their collections that were on display during the show’s conferences, workshops and booths.It’s especially important that outside buyers take notice of the designs because the poverty in Haiti makes it difficult to secure customers, Andre said.“The clientele I have (in Haiti) is very, very small, so that’s why I have to work much harder overseas,” said Andre, a seasoned designer who has displayed his collections in places like New York, Jamaica, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.The fashion show was organized by the Haitian Support Centre for the Promotion of Enterprise, the Haitian Network of Designers and the Ministry of Culture. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 0 Comments   Share   5 treatments for adult scoliosis Top Stories last_img read more

US Iran fired on Singaporean cargo ship in Gulf

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) — An Iranian naval patrol boat fired on a Singapore-flagged commercial ship in the Persian Gulf on Thursday in an apparent attempt to disable it over a financial dispute over damage to an Iranian oil platform, a U.S. official said.The Iranians initially fired warning shots Thursday after the MT Alpine Eternity refused to move into Iranian waters. The incident took place a bit south of the island of Abu Musa just inside the Gulf, according to the U.S. official, who was not authorized to discuss details by name. The official said the U.S. military was not involved in the incident. Top Stories The vital role family plays in society After the warning shots were fired the ship began heading toward territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates, and the Iranians then opened up with machine gun fire, according to the U.S. official. The official said early reports indicated no one aboard the ship was injured.In response to a call for help from the Alpine Eternity, the UAE coast guard responded and the Iranian patrol vessels left the area.Officials at Transpetrol, the Singapore-flagged ship’s manager, who were reached by telephone by The Associated Press, said they had no immediate information. The company lists offices in Belgium, Norway, Switzerland and Bermuda.“We’re certainly concerned about anything that interferes with freedom of navigation in international waters and the free flow of commerce,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said, noting that no Americans or US ships were involved.The U.S. official said the Alpine Eternity is involved in a financial dispute with Tehran. The Alpine Eternity on March 22 accidentally struck an Iranian oil platform, damaging it. The ship, which also was damaged in the accident, went into port for repairs, and during that period the Iranians informed the shipping company that it must pay for damage to the oil platform. With the dispute apparently unsettled, the Iranians confronted the Alpine Eternity near Abu Musa island, the U.S. official said. The dispute escalated from there. The U.S. official said the U.S. Navy communicated with the Alpine Eternity after the Iranians fired at it, but by the time the circumstances became clear the incident was over, and no U.S. ships were dispatched to the scene. The U.S. maintains a constant aircraft carrier presence in the Gulf area.This was at least the second recent significant incident involving the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy and a commercial vessel in the Gulf.In late April a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship seized by Iran as it traveled through the Strait of Hormuz was detained for more than a week and was finally released last Thursday. Iran claimed the Danish shipping company that chartered the MV Maersk Tigris owed money to an Iranian firm. Officials have not said whether any money was paid to settle the claim.___Associated Press reporters Adam Schreck in Dubai, UAE, and Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed to this reportCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

Saudi Supreme Court upholds verdict against liberal blogger

first_imgDUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court upheld an internationally condemned verdict against a liberal blogger who was publicly flogged after being found guilty of insulting Islam, state-linked news websites reported Sunday.The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the sentence of Raif Badawi, a 31-year-old father of three who was lashed in January in a public square, is final and cannot be overturned without a royal pardon. Top Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Check your body, save your life Saudi Arabia’s Western allies, including Washington, have called on authorities to rescind the punishment. The kingdom maintains its judiciary is independent and has rejected international pressure as interference in the country’s internal affairs.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Badawi, imprisoned since 2012, initially was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for breaking Saudi Arabia’s technology laws and insulting Islamic religious figures through a blog he created.After an appeal, a criminal court in Jiddah last year stiffened the punishment to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He also was banned from traveling abroad for 10 years after his prison term and fined $266,000.In January, security officials flogged Badawi outside a mosque in Jiddah. Saudi rights activists said it was meant as a warning to others who think to criticize the religious establishment, of which the ruling family derives much of its authority.Subsequent floggings were halted as the Supreme Court reviewed the case. A person close to the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said that because Badawi’s flogging has been halted since January, the Supreme Court ruling may exclude lashings. It was not immediately possible to clarify the details of the judges’ ruling.The lashes had been scheduled to be administered over 20 weekly sessions, with 50 lashes each week, according to the London-based rights group Amnesty International. The rights group has launched a global campaign to call for Badawi’s release and said Sunday that he remains at risk of being flogged.last_img read more

Hungary considers border fence to keep out migrants

first_imgBUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The Hungarian government is considering building a 4-meter-high (13-foot-high) fence along the border with Serbia to stop the flow of migrants reaching the country, the foreign minister said Wednesday.The government has asked Interior Minister Sandor Pinter to present preparations for the plan by next Wednesday.“The Hungarian government is committed to defending Hungary and defending the Hungarian people from the immigration pressure,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said. “Hungary cannot allow itself to wait any longer. Naturally, we hope there will be a joint European solution.” Szijjarto said the fence along the 175-kilometer (109-mile) southern border with Serbia wouldn’t contravene any of Hungary’s international legal obligations. He said that the governments of Hungary and Serbia would hold a summit on July 1, when “we will inform our Serb friends … in detail of the Hungarian measures.”For their part, Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic called on the EU to help his country guard its borders from the migrant surge.“I’m asking all EU states to make an additional effort to protect Serbia’s borders from where the migrants are coming, because they come from the EU countries — Greece and Bulgaria,” Stefanovic said.Hungary’s foreign minister also said that, in line with a bill presented last week by lawmakers from the governing Fidesz party, the government was taking legal preliminary steps to designate all EU member and candidate countries as safe countries.This step would allow Hungary, for example, from having to receive asylum seekers coming from Serbia or Greece, countries not considered by the EU to have the infrastructure necessary to guarantee their safety.Szijjarto named the Greek-Turkish and the Bulgarian-Turkish borders as locations where similar fences have been built with the purpose of stopping migrants. Sponsored Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   Since the second half of 2014, the number of migrants and asylum seekers entering Hungary, mostly across the southern border with Serbia, has risen markedly.So far this year, more than 53,000 people have requested asylum in Hungary, up from under 43,000 in 2014 and 2,150 in 2012. More than 70 percent of asylum seekers over the past three months are from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, though the vast majority move further west to destinations like Germany and Sweden shortly after filing their asylum requests.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 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

PARKROYAL Darling Harbour Sydney Celebrates Win At The 2013 TAA NSW

first_imgAfter having undergone a five month multi-million dollar refurbishment in 2012 to enhance its alignment to the PARKROYAL group of hotels across Australia and Asia, PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney won the ‘Redeveloped Accommodation Hotel of the Year’ award at the 2013 TAA (NSW) Awards for Excellence last night. Craig Bond, Area General Manager, Oceania, Pan Pacific Hotels Group says, “We are very excited PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney won this award at the 2013 Tourism Accommodation Australia NSW Awards.  As a group we focus on enriching the experiences of our guests and are committed in providing them with the very best service during their stay. The hotel’s refurbishment really reflects the PARKROYAL brand with the goal of making guests feel as though the hotel meets their individual needs. Congratulations to our staff who continue to uphold the PARKROYAL values and offer our signature trusted local hospitality.”PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney collaborated with internationally acclaimed design firm HASSELL on every aspect of the redesign to harmoniously marry aesthetics and functionality. The design enhances every aspect of the guest experience from check-in to check-out with a vibrant contemporary interior and the latest in hotel technology. The hotel was nominated for four awards on the night including Concierge of the Year, Meeting & Events Employee of the Year, Redeveloped Accommodation Hotel of the Year and Sydney Superior Hotel Accommodation of the Year.Pan Pacific Hotels Group property, PARKROYAL Parramatta was also nominated for five awards on the evening including Workplace Health & Safety Hotel of the Year, Outstanding Community Service and Achievement, Front of House Employee of the Year, Food & Beverage Employee of the Year and Sydney Superior Hotel Accommodation of the Year. The hotel recently appointed a new General Manager, Michael Johnson, who joins the hotel after a successful tenure as General Manager at the award winning, PARKROYAL Melbourne Airport.  Interestingly Michael worked for PARKROYAL Parramatta when it was first built in 1986 as the then Assistant Food & Beverage Manager.The TAA awards are recognised as the most prestigious hospitality awards, honouring the achievement of excellence in a wide range of categories in the accommodation industry. TAA is focused on, and committed to, the future development and growth of the accommodation sector within Australia’s vibrant tourism industry. Source = PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydneylast_img read more

Etihad Airways luxury new accommodation products available soo

first_imgEtihad Airways passengers will soon be able to enjoy  the premium service of the airline’s new accommodation options.The Residence will be available on the airline’s A380s from December with the first flight from Abu Dhabi to London.The new 787 accommodation options – “First Suite”, “Business Studio” and Economy Smart Seats will be available on the a flight from Abu Dhabi to Dusseldorf on 1 December 2014.On the airline’s A380 planes, The Residence will be a forward upper deck cabin with a single or double occupancy room, a living room, separate double bedroom and ensuite shower room and guests in The Residence will also have a personal butler.The A380 planes will also feature the new “First Apartment” product in their upper decks, with a separate reclining lounge seat and full length bed, mini-bar, personal vanity and wardrobe.For the Boeing 787, the airline has revealed the “First Suite”, adding new features including a chilled mini-bar.Each suite will have  large ottoman and seat upholstered by Poltrona Frau.Both planes will also include larger Business Studios for corporates and business people and the 787s will have a new Economy Smart Seat with lumbar massage options and a 11 inch personal screen monitor.Etihad is also introducing a new Panasonic eX3 entertainment system across both fleets, with 750 hours of on-demand entertainment, and improved gaming experience and HD screens.The A380s will also have a full Wi-Fi and mobile service and the Boeing 747 Dreamliners will have a Wi-Fi service.Etihad Airways chief executive officer James Hogan said that The Residence product will change customers expectations of in-flight service.“Etihad Airways’ A380 and B787 will deliver the most advanced airline cabins in the industry, while meeting all weight, range and cost targets at our desired seat count,” Mr Hogan said.“This will allow us to offer products unparalleled in quality and style, yet at competitive prices across all three cabins.”Etihad created its own Design Consortium for the design of the new accommodation products and held market research sessions in Abu Dhabi, Sydney, London and New York.Source = ETB News: Tom Nealelast_img read more

Celebration of style with Hotel Kurrajong Canberra

first_imgToga Far East Hotels (TFE Hotels) celebrated the upcoming launch of the historic Hotel Kurrajong Canberrra at a lavish 1920’s themed event at Surry Hill’s speakeasy Button Bar, in Sydney last night.Set to reopen its doors on 16 December after a two year restoration period, Hotel Kurrajong is a place of old world charm, timeless elegance and history, which originally opened in 1926 in Canberra’s parliamentary district.Set between Lake Burley Griffin and Capital Hill, the property was originally constructed as one of two hotels of equal walking distance from Old Parliament House and was once home to post World War Two Prime Minister Ben Chifley.“TFE Hotels is particularly respectful when working with heritage buildings and our aim is to keep the essence of the hotel while creating a modern, comfortable stay for our guests, offering premium service whilst steeped in history,” TFE chief executive officer Rachel Argaman said.The restoration is a joint venture between TFE Hotels and the National Roads and Motorist’s Association (NRMA), and will welcome guests with its old world charm from the moment they walk through the 192o’s inspired décor, featuring a cosy fireplace, historic literature library and photographs of bygone eras representing the hotel’s history.The hotel comprises of 147 rooms, including four executive suites, four balcony rooms and eight terrace rooms, a charming garden setting and a premium dining experience at Chifley’s Bar & Grill, with award winning hatted chef Michael Chatto.Source = ETB Travel News: Lana Bogunovich TFE Hotels director of marketing Emma Fraser, Hotel Kurrajong Canberra general manager Robert McKenna and Tracey Spicerlast_img read more

Preferred Hotels announces six new hotel openings

first_imgPreferred Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest global collection of independent luxury hotels, introduces six stunning new properties scheduled to enter the market before the end of the year. From highly anticipated openings in major metropolises to boutique properties in “hidden” destinations that are ideal for intimate getaways, all six hotels and resorts are set to join the ranks of the most coveted accommodations in the world.Here is a look at the soon-to-open hotels and resorts within the Preferred Hotels & Resorts portfolio that are sure to make the future bucket lists of discerning avid travelers:Shilla Stay Seodaemun – Seoul, South KoreaOpening  May 2015Shilla Stay, a new brand of Hotel Shilla, will open in the Seodaemun district, known as the heart of Seoul’s culture and business. Guests can take a stroll down the street to enjoy a myriad of retail shops, or explore nearby attractions like the Bongwon Temple or the Seodaemun Museum of Natural History. The hotel’s 319 rooms and public spaces are characterized by modern and simple luxury, giving guests a peaceful environment within the lively city. Other convenient luxuries include a buffet restaurant and a fully-equipped fitness center.Art Hotel – Denver, Colorado, USAOpening June 2015A contemporary hotel rooted in an urban art gallery, Art Hotel is set to be Denver’s newest masterpiece. Each of the 165 guestrooms will inspire visitors with features including floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Rocky Mountains and Denver skyline, hand-selected art pieces, and natural design elements. Located just south of downtown Denver, the hotel is tucked into an area known as the “Wall Street of the West,” with financial and government offices, eight of the city’s museums, and other landmarks nearby.Palazzo Versace Dubai – Dubai, UAEOpening August 2015Located in Dubai’s historic “Culture Village” district, the much-anticipated Palazzo Versace Dubai will be the second hotel to open under the fashion house name. The 215-room hotel will wow guests with rich Italian design elements, Versace-branded amenities, a world-class spa and stellar culinary offerings. Just moments away from the Dubai Mall and the architecturally stunning Burj Khalifa, the hotel truly amalgamates high fashion with stylish luxury accommodation in this cosmopolitan city.The Temple House – Chengdu, ChinaOpening in July 2015Set in a beautifully restored 100-year-old Chinese courtyard building in the city of Chengdu (better known as the hometown of the beloved panda bear) is the newest offering from Swire Hotels’ The House Collective — The Temple House. The urban destination will epitomize contemporary and simple luxury with earthy tones and a clean design, which perfectly contrast with its surroundings that include the 1,000-year-old- Daci Temple. Offering 100 guestrooms, 42 serviced residences, an immersive spa, and four dining options, The Temple House is the ideal experiential urban hotel in one of China’s most increasingly popular destinations.The Watergate Hotel – Washington, D.C., USAOpening  Summer 2015Washington, D.C.’s landmark property The Watergate Hotel is undergoing a legendary revival and will open as a true urban resort later this year. Across 338 guest rooms and public spaces, the hotel will blend luxurious design with its storied past, offering exciting features ranging from the original grand staircase to a brand new rooftop bar overlooking the U.S. Capital and Potomac River and a state-of-the-art spa and fitness center. The South Beach – SingaporeOpening Fall 2015One of Asia’s most anticipated openings of the year, the Philippe Starck-designed The South Beach in Singapore is set to unveil 654 guestrooms including 49 luxury suites, four food and beverage options, an enchanting ballroom, 19 state-of-the-art meeting rooms, and two sky gardens with infinity pools where guests can lounge while admiring the Singapore skyline. The South Beach also features a dedicated Ladies’ Floor designed for female guests seeking exclusivity and luxury, with specially tailored amenities and personalized female butler services.For more information on the above new openings or to review the complete list of Preferred Hotels & Resorts properties, please visit www.PreferredHotels.com.Source = Preferred Hotels & Resortslast_img read more

Catch New Caledonia Travel Connections HOT SUMMER SPECIALS

first_imgGET READY FOR SUMMER. The heat is on as New Caledonia Travel Connection, Australia’s leading specialist in travel to New Caledonia, releases its summer specials. Grab these limited offers and experience New Caledonia’s dazzling beaches, turquoise waters and rich gastronomy in your next summer vacation. Book before 30/12/2017 to enjoy huge savings per family or couple!Chateau Royal Beach Resort & Spa – Noumea Family PackageSAVINGS: $1,500 PER FAMILYBring the entire family and explore the vibrant city of Noumea from the Chateau Royal Beach Resort & Spa! Summer package includes 7-night accommodation, return airfares, transfers and daily buffet breakfast.Hilton Noumea La Promenade Residences – Family Treat PackageSAVINGS: $1,000 PER FAMILYExperience the South Pacific charm and Parisian delights of Noumea with the whole family with our 7-night family treat package at the Hilton! Enjoy direct access to Anse Vata beach and a wide array of water activities. Sheraton New Caledonia Deva – Blue Lagoon Paradise PackageSAVINGS: $1,000 PER COUPLEExplore the untamed Deva Domain and come home to the Sheraton Deva Resort & Spa where you can unwind at the resort’s deep Nature Spa facilities including an outdoor jacuzzi with deck and sauna.Ramada Hotel & Suites – Noumea Discovery PackageSAVINGS: $1,200 PER COUPLEDiscover Noumea’s striking beaches and numerous cafes and restaurants from the Ramada! Don’t miss the hotel’s panoramic 360° revolving restaurant on the 19th floor, the only one in New Caledonia.For full details and bookings contact New Caledonia Travel Connection on 1300 108 625, email us at info@newcaledoniatravel.com.au or visit www.newcaledoniatravel.com.auSource = New Caledonia Travel Connectionlast_img read more

Two Silversea vessels dock in Sydney

first_imgSilver Muse and Silver Whisper in Sydney HarbourTwo Silversea vessels dock in SydneyIconic cruise line Silversea Cruises is celebrating the historic rendezvous of two of its ultra-luxury vessels Silver Muse and Silver Whisper in Sydney Harbour on Saturday, 2nd February 2019; the first time in 20 years that two of its ships have met in the harbour city.  The magnificent sight was reminiscent of the arrival of sister ships Silver Cloud and Silver Wind in Sydney in February 1999, which was the last time that two ships from this prestigious fleet visited simultaneously.The weekend’s dual arrival follows the recent maiden arrival of Silversea’s iconic flagship, Silver Muse, into Australian waters in December 2018.  Meanwhile the 388-guest Silver Whisper returns to Sydney as part of its annual World Cruise and arrives this year fresh from an extensive “Musification” dry-dock.  The two vessels convened at either side of Fort Denison inside Sydney Harbour at 7am and then proceeded past the Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge to dock, bow-to-bow, at the White Bay Cruise Terminal.Adam Armstrong, Managing Director – Australia and New Zealand, Silversea Cruises, said,“We are delighted to welcome Silver Muse and Silver Whisper to Sydney on this historic ‘double ship’ day.  It was a stunning sight to see our beautiful boutique vessels meet in one of the world’s most iconic harbours.“In the twenty years that have passed since we last welcomed two Silversea vessels into Sydney Harbour we have witnessed many changes to the city and to the country; amongst which seven changes of Prime Minister and the relocation of our cruise terminal from Barangaroo to White Bay; but the core hallmarks of a Silversea cruise still remain unchanged: indulgent all-inclusive luxury, the finest gourmet cuisine, spacious ocean-view suites with butler service, and one of the highest space-to-guest ratios at sea.”With two ships currently deployed in the region and a third, Silver Discoverer, soon to commence her annual Kimberley cruising season, Silversea is strengthening its commitment to the local market, offering guests a variety of thrilling itineraries throughout the region.“We are absolutely committed to the growth of the Australia & New Zealand market, which we expect to soon become our second biggest market globally.  The deployment of three of our vessels here demonstrates our dedication to this region, led by Silver Muse which will be based here every summer, with an expanded 4-month season in 2019/20.”In what was a bumper weekend for cruise ship calls from the Royal Caribbean group, Silversea’s Silver Muse and Silver Whisper sailed past Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas which had earlier docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal – the first time the harbour has accommodated three RCL vessels in one day – whilst Explorer of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas also called in Sydney on Friday and Sunday respectively.Silver Muse is currently sailing a series of local itineraries between Sydney and Auckland.  With just one month left to go in the region, Silver Muse will return to Sydney once more before heading northwards to Asia on her Grand Asia Pacific Voyage (Sydney to Tokyo – 74 days).Silver Whisper is midway through her ‘Tale of Tales’ World Cruise: an epic 132-day global circumnavigation from San Francisco to London, designed to spark the imagination of avid travellers and crafted to tell a fascinating story about our planet.  After an overnight stay in Sydney where world cruisers enjoyed a night at the Opera House, Silver Whisper set sail on Sunday evening for the third leg of her epic voyage: a 14-day sector to Bali during which guests will discover the different aromas and tastes of regional Australian wines, including lecturers from Silversea’s wine ambassador.To commemorate the arrival of Silver Muse to Australian waters, Silversea recently announced a campaign to support Australia’s drought-stricken farmers and their families via Rural Aid.  To donate and be in with the chance of winning a Silversea cruise, plus a copy of a selected image of Steve McCurry photograph from his new Australian collection, click here.For more information on Silversea, contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand) or visit www.silversea.com.Source = Silversea Cruiseslast_img read more

TTF Kolkata the three day travel bonanza concludes successfully

first_imgHouseful show at Netaji Indoor Stadium & Khudiram Anushilan KendraWest Bengal Tourism’s maiden display of new branding ‘Experience Bengal’Nepal Tourism Board’s significant presence after the massive earthquakeNew Zealand and Jordan Tourism make debut in KolkataJ&K and Uttarakhand look up to West Bengal for tourist in the ‘Bengali Season’TTF Award for Contribution in Tourism launchedTourism industry upbeat after the new thrust to the sector by the GovernmentThe TTF (Travel & Tourism Fair) Kolkata opened on July 31, as a houseful show. Over 375 participants have set up colourful pavilions and stalls at Netaji Indoor Stadium and the adjacent Khudiram Anushilan Kendra, for the three-day event on the weekend.TTF Kolkata is India’s oldest and largest travel trade show, which is now organised annually in 10 other cities annually.Participants from 13 countries and 25 Indian States & Union Territories are selling at the TTF. These include state tourism boards, national tourist offices, hoteliers, airlines, tour operators and travel agents, online travel companies, railways, cruises and other travel marketers.First half of the show (i.e. Friday all day and Saturday till 2 pm) was reserved for the travel trade, after which it was open to all on the Saturday afternoon and Sunday the entire day.Commenting on the occasion, West Bengal Tourism Minister Bratya Basu said, “I hope this TTF Kolkata will carry potential in terms of business growth in tourism sector in our state and in the Eastern part of India, showcasing domestic and international tourism as major engine for economic growth, creation of employment and promotion of peace and harmony across nations and states.”“Keeping with the positive sentiments in the tourism industry, TTF Kolkata has grown by 25%, compared to last year. This is significant considering the large size of the show, spread in Netaji and Khudiram,” said Sanjiv Agarwal, Chairman & CEO, Fairfest Media, the organiser of TTF. “The TTF series with more than 10 shows annually across India provides an important tourism marketing impetus, to make investments in tourism more viable,” he added.Fairfest Media, organiser of the TTF & OTM shows have strengthened their unparalleled lead as India’s No. 1 travel trade show organiser, with about half the market share. It organises every year TTF branded shows started in Kolkata (in 1989), in Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Surat, Mumbai, Pune, Goa and Guwahati (July-November) followed by Chennai, Bengaluru and New Delhi (January-February), in addition to the grand finale OTM Mumbai in February.There were colourful displays of various places one can visit, with a hint of their various attractions.Attractive pavilions were put up by Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and of course the Host State West Bengal to cater to the local tourists.China, Bangladesh and Nepal participated in a big way as the Partner Countries.Thailand, New Zealand and Jordan were present as Feature Countries.TTF Kolkata also had participation from Assam, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Meghalaya and Tamil Nadu.Among other countries Bhutan, Malaysia, Maldives, Singapore, Turkey and Uzbekistan were also represented.India Tourism also participated with a large pavilion in TTF Kolkata as always.Important exhibitors included MakeMytrip, Adlabs Imagica, OYO Rooms, IRCTC, Make Plans Holidays, The Peerless Inn, The Pride Hotel, Nicco Park & Resorts, Bodoland Tourism, Mountain Trails, Travel Shoppe Turkey, Thomas Cook and many more.To enhance and showcase their respective offerings, aside from attractive and elegant stalls, participating states and countries at TTF Kolkata presented daily cultural events and marketing presentations to trade visitors and the media.Jammu & Kashmir Tourism and Uttarakhand Tourism organised special road shows on the side-lines of TTF Kolkata to woo Bengali tourists. Their main thrust is now West Bengal.Nepal Tourism Board not only made a significant appearance after the earthquake, but also addressed travel trade and media for tourism revival.New Zealand and Jordan were the two new countries making debut in TTF Kolkata giving chance to explore new exotic destinations.During the three days of TTF Kolkata, there was special networking sessions by top travel associations where their members discussed their own issues to find solutions contributing to the big picture.And West Bengal Tourism’s new promotional branding Experience Bengal was also seen for the first time in action at TTF Kolkata.Jammu & Kashmir Tourism also organised Kashmir Food Festival at TTF Kolkata to give visitors a taste of their culinary delights.The TTF series has important value additions like pre-registration for trade visitors, more travel trade engagements, focus on B2B, etc. The specially branded section, Outbound Village @ TTF helps expand the outbound presence.TTF is supported by Incredible India, OTOAI, ATOAI, ADTOI, IATO and IAAI.TTF’s organiser Fairfest is a member of PATA, TAAI, IEIA and IAEE.Travel News Digest is the official trade publication of TTF.From here, TTF will travel to West India (September – October) covering Ahmedabad, Surat, Mumbai, Pune, Goa and will visit North East (Guwahati) in November.Taking further the objective of developing and growing new markets, TTF Goa has been launched in October 2015, with strong support from the Host State, Goa. The venue will be the recently built Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium inside the campus of Goa University, Talegaon.The TTF Award for Contribution in Tourism has been instituted by Fairfest Media to recognise leading travel producers and buyers. 25 Awardees received the recognition and walked the show on the inaugural day. In addition, an equal number of sellers participating in the show were awarded, on the concluding day.last_img read more

Cox Kings and Make a Wish grants wishes on Childrens Day

first_imgOn Children’s day, this year, over 100 children with life-threatening illnesses saw their dreams come true as their wishes were granted at a fun- filled event, organised by Cox & Kings Foundation and Make a Wish Foundation.Cox & Kings, in order to help bring smiles to the faces of these children who have been undergoing painful treatments and to make them feel special, had planned the celebration across multiple cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Pune.The Sion Hospital auditorium, in Mumbai, came alive with these children rejoicing dancing, singing, playing games and collecting their granted wishes. Cox & Kings employees and celebrity kids from the popular comedy TV series, Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chasma joined them in this celebration, where they applauded the fighting spirit of their parents.Karan Anand, Head, Relationships, Cox & Kings said, “The Cox & Kings foundation is committed to help bring positivity and joy into the lives of many children every year. Today, as the nation celebrates Children’s Day, this is our effort to reduce the pains and struggles of children with life-threatening illnesses and fill them with happiness and enjoyment to make them feel better.”More than 150 employees of Cox & Kings across cities celebrated Children’s day with the kids.Describing the event, Deepak Bhatia, CEO, Make A Wish Foundation said, “it is our endeavour to make this a special day for our children and we partnered with Cox & Kings who supported us and all our children had a very good time.”last_img read more

FirstTime Jobless Claims Drop Continuing Claims Hit 43Month Low

first_img Bolstered by favorable seasonal adjustment factors, first-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped 27,000 to 341,000 for the week ending February 9, the “”Labor Department””:http://www.ows.doleta.gov/press/2013/021413.asp reported Thursday. Economists expected a much smaller decline to 360,000.[IMAGE]Initial claims were under 350,000–a dividing line between a strong and weak labor market–for the third time in the last five weeks, hinting layoff activity has returned to normal. During the long economic expansion between the end of the 1990-91 recession and the beginning of the 2001 recession, initial claims for unemployment insurance averaged 345,000 per week, dipping as low as 259,000.The four-week moving average of first-time claims, still affected by a spike in claims two weeks ago when holiday workers were laid off, rose 1,500 to 352,500. The Labor Department applies adjustment factors, which vary from week to week to account for exogenous events that historically affect claim filings.Continuing claims (reported on a one-week lag) fell sharply, dropping 130,000 to 3,114,000–the lowest level since July 2008, when continuing claims fell as low as 3,113,000 before beginning a steep upward climb. Continuing claims for the week ending January 26 were revised up to 3,244,000 from the originally reported 3,224,000. The continuing claims data series tracks the number of longer-term unemployed who qualify for regular state jobless benefits and often shows large movements, depending on first-time claims 26 weeks earlier and legislative changes to state unemployment programs. The four-week average for continuing claims fell 28,750 to 3,187,250, also the lowest level since July 2008.Claims reports at the beginning of a year are highly volatile, with seasonal adjustments moving in a wide range to attempt to normalize for layoffs that typically [COLUMN_BREAK]occur in the beginning of a year in industries that staff up at year-end. In addition, reports are affected by holidays, which delay processing of claims filed electronically.According to a Labor Department brief of state-by-state comments on the industry breakdown of layoffs, states with relatively large drops in initial claims had fewer construction industry layoffs, while retail cuts affected states that had relatively high increases in first-time claims.The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending January 26 was 5,918,156, an increase of 327,676 from the previous week. There were 7,681,411 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 12,332,000 persons were officially considered unemployed in January, which means that of those individuals counted as unemployed, 6.41 million were not receiving any form of government unemployment insurance, down from 6.74 million one week earlier.The Labor Department said states reported 2,081,356 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending January 26, an increase of 255,258 from the prior week. There were 3,002,475 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2012.States continue to borrow from the federal government to cover shortfalls in those funds which will eventually have to be repaid–unless Congress intervenes–with higher assessments on employers. Since those assessments are a percentage of payrolls, they discourage employers from adding new workers. As of February 12, 23 states had borrowed a total of $28.1 billion. One week earlier, 23 states had an aggregate $28.1 billion in outstanding loans to cover shortfalls. Five states–California, Indiana, New York, North Carolina and Ohio–owe more than $1 billion, which may require higher unemployment premiums or special assessments on employers in those states.According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending February 2 were in California (+11,784), Texas (+2,071), New York (+2,066), Florida (+2,050), and Oregon (+1,603), while the largest decreases were in North Carolina (-2,681), Tennessee (-2,003), Alabama (-1,248), Michigan (-1,011), and Connecticut (-676)._Hear Mark Lieberman Friday on P.O.T.U.S. radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:40 a.m. and again at 9:40 a.m. Eastern time._ Share in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing February 14, 2013 453 Views center_img First-Time Jobless Claims Drop, Continuing Claims Hit 43-Month Low Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Consumer spending Investors Jobs Labor Department Lenders & Servicers Mark Lieberman Personal income Processing Service Providers Unemployment 2013-02-14 Mark Liebermanlast_img read more

PNC Announces Successor to CFO Role

first_imgPNC Announces Successor to CFO Role in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing March 15, 2013 498 Views The “”PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.””:https://www.pnc.com/webapp/sec/Homepage.do?siteArea=/pnccorp/PNC/Home/Corporate%20and%20Institutional, a diversified financial services organization with headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, announced that Robert Q. Reilly will take over the CFO position following the retirement of current executive Richard J. Johnson.[IMAGE]Reilly joined PNC Bank in 1987 and has held several management positions in investment and commercial banking, including serving as EVP for PNC’s corporate banking business. Prior to assuming his current role as head of the company’s asset management group, he was deputy head of PNC Advisors.Reilly also serves on the board of directors for RAF Industries, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and the Delaware Valley Community Reinvestment Fund Investment Committee.[COLUMN_BREAK]He will assume the CFO role upon the retirement of Johnson, who has announced his intent to leave PNC in Q3.””Rob helped build PNC’s asset management group into one of the top 10 bank-held wealth managers in the United States, with total sales growth above 30 percent in each of the two last years and revenue approaching $1 billion,”” said James E. Rohr, chairman and CEO at PNC. “”We believe he is the right person to advance the work of Rick Johnson.””Rick’s leadership contributed to PNC’s dramatic expansion over the past 10 years, and he was instrumental in guiding PNC through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression,”” Rohr continued.Succeeding Reilly as head of the asset management group is Orlando C. Esposito, who is currently EVP of corporate banking. Esposito will also be joining PNC’s Executive Committee.Esposito is responsible for growing corporate finance and middle market clients in the Northeast, including the states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, as well as the Akron, Cleveland, and Youngtown markets. He has been a key leader of the Sales Force Effectiveness initiative, which has contributed to strong client growth in newly acquired Southeastern markets.Esposito joined PNC in 1985 from Touche Ross & Company, where he was a certified public accountant.center_img Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Movers & Shakers PNC Bank Processing Service Providers 2013-03-15 Tory Barringerlast_img read more

Senate Banking Committee Passes FHA Solvency Act

first_img Share The “”Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Solvency Act of 2013″”:http://www.banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=76ccb8b5-2cf3-4a3f-b40b-47f0b90aa957 (S. 1376) is headed to the Senate after receiving approval from the “”Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs””:http://www.banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Home.Home.[IMAGE][COLUMN_BREAK]The bill, unveiled by Chairman “”Tim Johnson””:http://www.johnson.senate.gov/public/ (D-South Dakota) and Ranking Member “”Mike Crapo””:http://www.crapo.senate.gov/ (R-Idaho) earlier in the month, includes a number of bipartisan proposals from the committee intended to strengthen the FHA’s financial situation, protect taxpayers, and ensure qualified borrowers still have access to credit.The bill passed by a vote of 21-1, according to a release from the committee’s website.””This was a bipartisan effort from start to finish,”” Johnson said. “”The reforms we approved today are the product of a lot of hard work from members on both sides of the aisle, and I appreciate the spirit of bipartisanship and open debate that my colleagues on the Committee demonstrated throughout the amendment process.”” July 31, 2013 482 Views Senate Banking Committee Passes FHA Solvency Actcenter_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies FHA Investors Lenders & Servicers Politics Senate Banking Committee Service Providers 2013-07-31 Tory Barringer in Governmentlast_img read more

Consumer Confidence Heads Toward LongTerm Norm

first_imgConsumer Confidence Heads Toward Long-Term Norm in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Capital Economics Confidence Consumer spending 2014-04-13 Krista Franks Brock Consumer confidence reached a four-month high in April, according to the University of Michigan’s preliminary measure of consumer sentiment for the month. After taking a hit in March, the index rebounded to 82.6 in April, prompting one analytics firm to anticipate a possible return in consumer confidence to a long-term normal of 85.The university also measures current conditions and expectations, finding upticks in both this month. The current conditions index rose from 95.7 to 97.1 in April, while the expectations survey rose from an even 70 in March to 73.3 in April.Macroeconomics firm Capital Economics attributes the rising indices to normalizing temperatures after a harsh winter, a strengthening employment situation, and record equity prices.“These numbers suggest that consumption growth got off to a decent start in the second quarter,” said Capital Economics economist Paul Diggle.The S&P 500’s record high set at the end of March do doubt had something to do with the uptick in the expectations survey, according to Capital Economics.However, “[a]dmittedly, the 3 percent drop back in equity prices since the start of the month may not have been fully incorporated into the preliminary reading of confidence and could weight on either the final reading for April, or May’s number,” Diggle suggested.At the same time, it appears consumers were not too shaken by the $0.10 per gallon rise in gas prices.Regardless, Diggle suggests continued job growth and pending income growth will propel consumer confidence closer to 85 over the next few months.center_img Share April 13, 2014 437 Views last_img read more

Genworth MI Announces Integration with Optimal Blue

first_imgGenworth MI Announces Integration with Optimal Blue in News, Origination, Technology In North Carolina, the mortgage insurance (MI) unit of Genworth announced the launch of a seamless integration between itself and Optimal Blue, the mortgage industry’s largest product and pricing engine (PPE).With the integration, loan officers from approximately 600 different mortgage lenders will have access to pricing and information on Genworth’s MI products, allowing them to more quickly price loans and boosting productivity.“This new integration will provide current and prospective customers with Genworth pricing accuracy, improved ease of use, and operational efficiency,” said Erika Stinson, digital channel product manager for Genworth MI. “We tested extensively with customers prior to launching this integration to make sure we offered functionality that no other MI company currently can match.”The exclusive functionality of the Genworth MI integration now lets originators email rate quotes to themselves or others in the origination process; view and print results that contain all the loan parameters used to generate the insurance quote; and generate a scenario ID to allow an originator to recall a specific quote obtained through Genworth’s Rate Express.According to Stinson, customer feedback so far has been “overwhelmingly positive.”Optimal Blue and Genworth MI announced plans to co-host webinars on April 15, 16, and 17 for customers to learn more about the integration. Registration for the webinars begins Monday at Genworth MI’s site. Company News Genworth Mortgage Insurance Optimal Blue 2014-04-14 Tory Barringercenter_img April 14, 2014 505 Views Sharelast_img read more

HUD Releases Plans for FY 2016 Budget

first_img Share in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News As analysts and critics pore over the details of the White House’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016, the executive department in charge of housing says it hopes to use its share to restore cuts made after 2013’s budget sequester.Included in the president’s newest budget is $49.3 billion set aside for HUD, a $4 billion increase over last year.In a statement, HUD Secretary Julian Castro said the proposed funding provides a “blueprint for greater opportunity for all Americans.””By increasing our Department’s funding level by nearly $4 billion over current levels, the President’s Budget helps us continue our progress toward achieving our mission to promote homeownership, support community development—including making neighborhoods more resilient from natural disasters—and expand to affordable housing for all,” Castro continued.In a call with reporters, HUD Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti explained that much of the budget will be used to undo some of the cuts made as the department experienced budget restraints as a result of sequestration. Included in that category is the planned restoration of 67,000 Housing Choice Vouchers used to help fund rental housing assistance for low-income families.Also on HUD’s agenda for fiscal year 2016 is a $2.5 billion investment for Homeless Assistance Grants, which the department hopes to use for housing counseling, transitional programs, and other initiatives to meet the administration’s goals of ending homelessness.Based on current projections, HUD says it is on track to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015 and chronic homeless by the end of 2017.The budget also includes $250 million to assist neighborhoods with distressed HUD-assisted housing, $748 million to promote housing and community development for Native American tribes, and $50 million to convert public housing units to project-based rental assistance contracts.A more complete rundown of HUD’s planned budget can be found at the department’s website.While the administration may have big plans for the next year, analysts anticipate a fight with Republicans over the full scope of the budget, which comes to nearly $4 trillion dollars.In the call with reporters, Coloretti sounded cautiously optimistic about the proposal’s chances on Capitol Hill.”Of course we hope the entire budget will get through Congress. … I know that some of our proposals remain both popular and supported by Congress because we accept every community,” she said. Barack Obama HUD Politics 2015-02-02 Tory Barringercenter_img HUD Releases Plans for FY 2016 Budget February 2, 2015 475 Views last_img read more

Fed Keeps June Rate Hike on the Table

first_img May 18, 2016 481 Views in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) refrained from raising the federal fund rate at the April meeting, even with further improvement observed in the housing sector. However, speculation persists about another rate hike by the Fed in June, which would be the first time the Fed has raised the federal funds target rate since the historic liftoff in December.The FOMC minutes, released Wednesday, showed that the an interest rate increase was not ruled out for June if incoming data about the economy improved.”Participants agreed that their ongoing assessments of the data and other incoming information, as well as the implications for the outlook, would determine the timing and pace of future adjustments to the stance of monetary policy,” the minutes said. “Most participants judged that if incoming data were consistent with economic growth picking up in the second quarter, labor market conditions continuing to strengthen, and inflation making progress toward the Committee’s 2 percent objective, then it likely would be appropriate for the Committee to increase the target range for the federal funds rate in June.”However, the minutes did reveal that there were a two participants that judged it “appropriate to increase the target range for the federal funds rate at this meeting, citing their assessments that downside risks associated with global economic and financial developments had diminished substantially since early this year, that labor market conditions were consistent with the Committee’s maximum-employment objective, and that inflation was likely to rise this year toward the Committee’s 2 percent objective.”The committee reiterated that labor market conditions have improved due to strong job gains, while economic growth has slowed. Household spending is a moderate pace  although real income has increased and consumer sentiment remains elevated. The committee noted that the housing sector has improved since the beginning of the year. However, on the downside, the committee noted that inflation is still running below the 2 percent long-run objective.National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) Chief Economist Curt Long said, “The FOMC is remaining noncommittal about its intentions with respect to the upcoming meeting in June. The tenor of the minutes were generally positive, but concerns for the global economy remain. While it is still somewhat unlikely that the Fed will move in June, the odds have improved substantially over the past two weeks.”When it comes to the normalization of monetary policy on the part of the Federal Reserve, it comes down to two possibilities: either slow normalization or no normalization, according to St. Louis Fed President James Bullard in Santa Barbara, California, this week.Bullard discussed two possibilities for monetary policy normalization: the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)’s scenario (slow normalization) and the market-based scenario (little or no normalization).“The FOMC has laid out, via the Summary of Economic Projections, a data-dependent ‘slow normalization,’ whereby the nominal policy rate would gradually rise over the next several years provided the economy evolves as expected,” he said. “Market-based forecasts of FOMC policy, in contrast, envision ‘almost no normalization,’ whereby the policy rate would be changed only a few times in the next several years.”Bullard said the three factors that favor the FOMC’s scenario are relatively strong labor markets in the U.S., an inflation rate that is closer to the FOMC’s target of 2 percent, and waning headwinds in global economic markets. According to Bullard, U.S. labor markets are “relatively tight,” although job gains for April, announced the day after Bullard spoke in Santa Barbara, were somewhat disappointing (160,000) compared with February and March. Bullard pointed out that the Fed’s labor market conditions index is well above historical averages. With the inflation factor, Bullard said that large movements in oil prices have had a substantial impact on headline inflation, and these measures have been trending higher as of late. On the waning global economic headwinds, Bullard said international influences on the U.S. economy appear to be waning in the first half of 2016 and that recent readings indicate a decline in financial stress; also, the effects of a stronger U.S. dollar appear to be waning.”Evidence from labor markets, inflation readings and global influences suggests the FOMC median projection may be more nearly correct,” he said. “Evidence from readings on GDP growth and market-based inflation expectations suggests the market view of the path of the policy rate may be more nearly correct.”Click here to view the FOMC minutes. Sharecenter_img Federal Funds Target Rate Federal Open Market Committee Federal Reserve FOMC Interest Rate 2016-05-18 Staff Writer Fed Keeps June Rate Hike on the Tablelast_img read more