Guantanamo inmates swapped for Bergdahl could move freely

first_img WASHINGTON (AP) — Five senior Taliban leaders released last year from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could move freely around the world next week as their one-year travel ban expires.The five detainees were sent to Qatar where government officials agreed to monitor their activities and prevent them from traveling out of the country under the terms of the May 2014 exchange. Bergdahl, who had been held captive by the Taliban for nearly five years after walking away from his Army post in Afghanistan, was released to the U.S. military. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement After the transfer, the House Armed Services Committee demanded the Pentagon release internal documents about the swap. The committee received hundreds, but lawmakers complain that they are heavily redacted. The committee inserted language in the fiscal 2016 defense policy bill that threatens to cut Pentagon spending by about $500 million if the Defense Department doesn’t provide additional information about the exchange.Army Lt. Col. Joe Sowers, a spokesman for the Defense Department, said the Pentagon has provided the committee with more than 3,600 pages of documents and redactions have been minimal.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Members of Congress have repeatedly expressed concern about what will happen after the travel ban expires. They have asked the Obama administration to try to persuade Qatar to extend the monitoring.“It’s impossible for me to see how they don’t rejoin the fight in short order,” said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., wrote Defense Secretary Ash Carter in March, asking him to take any step necessary to make sure the five do not return to the battlefield in Afghanistan. And earlier this month, the 13 Republican members of the House Intelligence committee wrote President Barack Obama asking him to urge Qatar to extend travel restrictions on the former detainees indefinitely.“If, as scheduled, Qatar permits these five former detainees to possess passports and travel to Afghanistan or Pakistan when the memorandum of understanding expires on June 1, they will be at liberty to play an even more direct role in attacks against the men and women of our military,” they wrote.Many lawmakers from both parties were irate when the five Guantanamo detainees were swapped for Bergdahl. They complained that the White House did not give Congress a 30-day notification of the transfer, which is required by law. The White House said it couldn’t wait 30 days because Bergdahl’s life was endangered. One or more of the detainees had some members of the al-Qaida-affiliated Haqqani militant group travel to Qatar to meet with them earlier in the year, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. That was an indication that the group was reaching out to communicate with the so-called Taliban Five, said Graham, who predicts all five will rejoin the fight.Four of the five former detainees remain on the United Nations’ blacklist, which freezes their assets and has them under a separate travel ban. But the U.N. itself has acknowledged that its travel ban has been violated. In a report late last year, the U.N. sanctions committee stated: “Regrettably, the monitoring team continues to receive a steady — albeit officially unconfirmed — flow of media reports indicating that some listed individuals have become increasingly adept at circumventing the sanctions measures, the travel ban in particular.”The State Department insists that U.S. officials work to mitigate the risk of former Guantanamo detainees returning to the fight, threatening Americans or jeopardizing U.S. national security. U.S. officials have noted in the past that the five Taliban leaders are middle-aged or older, were former officials in the Taliban government and probably wouldn’t be seen again on any battlefield, although they could continue to be active members of the Taliban. Comments   Share   How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img FILE – In this file image taken from video obtained from Voice Of Jihad Website, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, sits in a vehicle guarded by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan. A one-year travel ban is expiring for five senior Taliban leaders held in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay until they were released last year in exchange for Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for nearly five years after he walked away from his Army post in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Voice Of Jihad Website via AP video, File) Sponsored Stories The vital role family plays in society Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day He recently was charged with desertion.U.S. officials have discussed with the Qataris the possibility of extending the travel ban after it expires on June 1. But so far, the White House has not publicly announced any new agreement with Qatar, meaning the five could leave the tiny nation on the Arabian Peninsula at the end of the month.“In Congress, we spent a lot of time debating whether the Qataris were going to adequately keep an eye on them in the course of the 12 months,” said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee. “My point all along was that I’m more worried about month No. 13 than the first 12.”Schiff has been privy to the details of the still-secret memorandum of understanding the U.S. reached with Qatar that put the five under a 12-month watch following their release.“The Qataris did pretty good — I wouldn’t say perfect,” he said about the year-long monitoring. “But the big question is what comes next.”At least one of the five allegedly contacted militants during the past year while in Qatar. No details have been disclosed about that contact, but the White House confirmed that one was put under enhanced surveillance. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said last week: “I know that at least one has had communication with the Taliban.” New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories last_img read more

Nigeria torture victim to be free after decade on death row

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories The difference between men and women when it comes to pain LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A man condemned to hang when he was 16 because of confessions extracted under torture has been pardoned after 10 years on death row, Nigerian and international human rights activists said Monday.The rights groups, who say his sentencing was illegal, describe his case as one of many examples of the injustices visited on Nigerians by a system tainted by corruption.Nigeria’s new President Muhammadu Buhari, who was inaugurated Friday, has promised to reform the justice system. Comments   Share   In response to the campaign by the human rights groups, Delta State Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan signed a pardon for Moses Akatugba and three other death row inmates as one of his final acts before leaving office last week.“Moses Akatugba has been living each day of his life in prison under trauma and agony … expecting the hangman’s visit,” Justine Ijeomah, executive director of Nigeria’s Human Rights, Social Development and Environmental Foundation, wrote in one of many letters over months of campaigning.Together with London-based Amnesty International, activists gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures requesting the victim’s freedom.Akatugba was a schoolboy when soldiers arrested him for allegedly stealing three cellphones. He was delivered to police officers who tortured him, including tearing out his finger and toe nails with pliers, until he signed confessions admitting to armed robbery, the activists said.Armed robbery carries a mandatory death sentence in Nigeria, but minors are supposed to be exempt. Police often use torture to extract confessions which are used in courts despite laws prohibiting both, according to the latest U.S. State Department report on human rights in Nigeria. Torture in prisons also is common, it said. Top Stories More than 1,500 people are on death row in Nigeria, including juvenile offenders, according to Amnesty International. In 2013, Nigeria resumed executions despite an official moratorium and hanged five people.“Nigerian governors should commute the death sentences of all death row prisoners … including many who are at imminent risk of execution after similarly flawed criminal investigations,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa director.Ijeomah said she is traveling to Port Harcourt, the Delta state capital, to complete formalities for Akatugba’s release, hoped for later this week.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The vital role family plays in society Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 4 must play golf courses in Arizonalast_img read more

Nepal says civilians were on crashed US copter toll now 13

first_imgThe two earthquakes have killed more than 8,700 people, injured thousands and destroyed many buildings.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The UH-1 “Huey” helicopter crashed May 12 in the northeastern mountains, and the wreckage was found after days of intense searching. The first three charred bodies were retrieved by Nepalese and U.S. military teams, and the rest were found a day later.The U.S. relief mission was deployed after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Nepal on April 25. A magnitude-7.3 quake struck on May 12 and hours later the helicopter crashed.Four of the Marines were part of the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing based at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, California. Two other Marines were combat cameramen based in Japan.The cause of the crash has not been determined. U.S. military officials have said that an Indian helicopter in the air nearby heard radio chatter from the Huey about a possible fuel problem.Earlier this week, a private helicopter chartered by Doctors Without Borders crashed after hitting power cables, killing all four people on board. Three victims were Nepalese and the other was a Dutch woman.The government and aid agencies have used helicopters to carry relief materials to mountainous regions where earthquake damage or the lack of existing roads has made delivery of aid all but impossible. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A U.S. military helicopter that crashed in Nepal last month on an earthquake relief mission was carrying five more passengers than first thought, raising the death toll to 13, Nepal’s army said Friday.Authorities initially said six U.S. Marines and two Nepalese soldiers were killed.DNA tests and investigations by experts from both countries confirmed that five other people on the chopper were local villagers, the army said in a statement. The five reportedly were injured people being transported to a medical facility. Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

Russian capsule docks with International Space Station

first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk 0 Comments   Share   BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) — A Soyuz space capsule carrying a Russian, an American and a Japanese docked smoothly Thursday with the International Space Station.The capsule connected to the orbiting laboratory about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth at 0245 GMT.The rocket had lifted off from a Russian manned launch facility in Kazakhstan about 5 hours and 45 minutes earlier at 2102 GMT Wednesday.The rocket reached orbit about 15 minutes after launch and circled the Earth four times before heading for the space station. Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The capsule carried Oleg Kononenko of Russia, NASA’s Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui of Japan. Lindgren and Yui are on their first trips into space. Yui told a news conference that he was taking some sushi with him as a treat for the others.They join Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly. The latter two are more than four months into a nearly year-long mission on the space station.The launch was postponed by about two months after the April failure of an unmanned Russian cargo ship, which raised concerns about Russian rocketry. Another Russian cargo ship was successfully launched in early July.___Associated Press writer Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.___This story has been corrected to say docking took place at 0245 GMT.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img read more

IATA concerned about European slump

first_imgInternational Air Transport Association (IATA) has report profitability is weak but unchanged at $6.9 billion, a net margin of 1.2 per cent for 2011.The forecast for 2012 looks bleak, with a downgraded forecast of airline profits from $4.9 billion to $3.5 billion with a net margin of 0.6 per cent.With concerns the Eurozone crisis could evolve into a full-blown banking crises and European recession, IATA estimates that the global aviation industry could suffer losses exceeding $8 billion in 2012.“The biggest risk facing airline profitability over the next year is the economic turmoil that would result from a failure of governments to resolve the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis.  Such an outcome could lead to losses of over $8 billion—the largest since the 2008 financial crisis,” IATA’s Director General and CEO Tony Tyler said. “And the overall margin of 1.2% tells you just how difficult the battle for profitability in this business is,” Mr Tyler said.European carriers are by far in the most challenging position, competing with increased passenger taxes and weak home market economies, limiting profitability in Europe.North American carriers are experiencing a kinder environment, with the US economy growing at a faster pace than Europe.  Improved yield and load has resulted in profitability to $2.0 billion (up from the previously forecast $1.5 billion). Varied trading conditions saw a stronger Asia-Pacific market; although Japan’s domestic market still has not fully recovered from the March earthquake and tsunami.  By contrast airlines have improved load factors and profitability on China’s expanding domestic market.Profits are expected for Middle East carriers of $400 million as high fuel costs squeezed profit margins on the more price sensitive long-haul traffic connecting over Middle Eastern hubs. African carriers are still expected to break-even.  Improved economic development in many African economies and new trade lanes with Asia are developing markets, aiding the African carriers. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W.last_img read more

Rare quake strikes Hong Kong

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J A rare earthquake struck in Hong Kong causing panic amongst concerned locals and travellers.Unique for the region to experience quakes, the 4.2 magnitude tremor was said to be felt by residents in the Chinese province and financial hub of Guangdong as well as Hong Kong’s factory region of Dongguan, Herald Sun reported.  No reports of damage or severe injuries were reported due to the earthquake remaining quite shallow at 19 kilometers.last_img

Launch of the ATMC Young Executive of the Year Award 2012

first_imgSource = ATMC The Association of Travel Management Companies (ATMC) today announced the launch of a new initiative, the ATMC Young Executive of the Year Award. Nominees for the award will be encouraged to submit to the ATMC examples of successful travel management innovation in areas including client management, technology, social media, product development and marketing.The President of the ATMC Craig Smith said he was delighted to sponsor an initiative to identify the best and brightest young executives in the travel management industry and to help them further their knowledge.The award is designed to provide encouragement to young executives and future leaders in the travel management industry, allowing them to showcase their achievements in raising standards in best practice travel management. When the winner of the award is announced at the BTTB 2012 Awards, the ATMC’s Young Executive of the Year will be off the USA to further their travel management learning at the 2012 GBTA Convention, to be held in Boston in July.last_img read more

San Fran the Golden Gate to Aussie travellers

first_imgMore Australian travellers are ticking the Golden Gate Bridge off their ‘Bucket List’, with Aussies now the third largest market into the American city.  Trailing behind the European and Asian markets, according to the Travel and Tourism Industries latest figures, up to 228,000 Australian visitors landed in San Francisco last year, a 22 percent increase on the prior year.Making up to 20 percent of San Fran’s total visitors, San Francisco Travel president Joe D’Alessandro said the city was a “desirable destination” for Aussies in both the leisure and business sectors.“We are extremely fortunate to have been the host city for the U.S. Open in June of this year and look forward to welcoming the America’s Cup World Series later this summer and the America’s Cup in 2013, which will attract even more visitors to San Francisco,” he added.Figures also found Aussies were spending more last year, with a 9.8 percent increase in visitor spend to up to $8.46 billion compared to the prior year. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Orion offers compensation following rescue

first_imgAlain Delord safely aboard Orion withexpedition leaders Don and Margie McIntyre. Image: Orion Expedition Cruises French yachtsman Alain Delord may be safe and well following his rescue by MV Orion on Sunday, but the question now being asked is; will passengers receive compensation?Currently sailing on an 18-day Antarctica voyage, the Orion changed course in accordance with ‘Safety of Life at Sea’ procedures to rescue the stranded Delord who had sent a distress call out on Friday after abandoning his yacht. The diversion meant that a scheduled call into Macquarie Island was cancelled. “I’m not sure they (Orion) realised how much we really missed the whole experience of actually getting on the ice (because of the conditions around Antarctica), getting on Macquarie Island,” Adelaide passenger Ted Lojszczyk told Australian paper The Daily Telegraph.“The dollars you spend, it’s an experience once in a lifetime so we wonder what will be put on the table once we actually go and discuss it.”Orion has flown in two representatives to meet with passengers onboard individually to discuss the itinerary change and resolve any issues they may have.“In recognition of the inconvenience caused to the passengers from the unexpected diversion from the planned itinerary, Orion has, as a gesture of goodwill, offered the affected passengers a choice of a partial refund or a future cruise credit,” an Orion spokesperson told e-Travel Blackboard.“In addition due to the earlier than scheduled arrival back in Hobart, Orion’s team have put together three days of touring of Tasmania’s coastal highlights.”63-year old Delord expressed his thanks through a translator at a press conference in Hobart on Monday. “Thank you to the Australian maritime authorities and thank you to Orion,” Mr Delord said.Orion kept fans up to date on the rescue via their Facebook page with expedition leaders Don and Margie McIntyre offering near to the minute commentary and images. “The vibe onboard is still high and for me, it was great to see on the video clip all those “red jackets” out there cheering as we pulled him (Delord) through the side of the ship! What a team…what a day!” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Alast_img read more

New Zealand wants new summer holiday period

first_imgFor Kiwis, nothing compares to a summer holiday on the beach. Image: lostateminor.com The timing of the summer holiday period in New Zealand is again under the spotlight after a study revealed that almost a quarter of Kiwis wanted to move the traditional summer break to February.According to the findings of a study conducted by Tourism Bay of Plenty, 24 percent of respondents said they would prefer to have their summer holidays moved to a period when weather in the country is generally better, such as February.However, with 38 percent of respondents still against the proposition, and with an equal number undecided, the NZ government won’t be rushing into any decision anytime soon.Talking to the issue, Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Rhys Arrowsmith said that although weather in February was “generally excellent”, this year the nation had also been blessed with “periods of settled and sunny weather in many parts of the country over the Christmas and New Year period”.The study found that 40 percent of Kiwis said wet weather was their ‘ultimate peeve’ while on summer vacation, while 20 percent flagged traffic as the most annoying.Despite NZ’s plethora of attractions, like its Fiordland, alpine regions and cosmopolitan cities, the survey identified beach (34%) and food/wine (21%) activities as being the most popular while on a summer holiday.In addition to this, respondents chose the beach/sea air (32%) as their favourite smell of summer, and waves on the beach (42%) as their favourite sound of summer. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

TUI Travel Accommodation Destinations rebrands to Hotelbeds Gro

first_imgFollowing the merger of TUI Travel PLC and TUI AG, TUI Travel Accommodation & Destinations announced today that it will be called Hotelbeds Group.This group includes Hotelbeds, which is a worldwide bedbank, together with a range of global businesses with market leading positions in each of their segments.The change recognizes the fact that the Hotelbeds brand represents a significant part of the business.Hotelbeds Group presented its full year results recently, announcing a growth in sales by 10 per cent in 2014 and EUR$4,048 million in Total Transaction Value (TTV).Its EBITDA increased by 13 per cent to EUR132 million, with EBITA reaching EUR100.6 million, which was above the global tourism industry average.Among Hotelbeds Group’s other brands are Destination Services, Activities, Laterooms.com, Intercruises and Roiback.Following the merger of TUI Travel PLC and TUI AG, the new organisation for TUI Group comprises mainstream and non-mainstream, Hotelbeds Group will be part of non-mainstream and drive a focused strategy to further accelerate growth.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

Top Tourist Parks named Australias best holiday parks

first_imgTop Tourist Parks named Australia’s best holiday parksThousands of holidaymakers have voted Australia’s largest holiday parks group, Top Tourist Parks as having the best parks in Australia in an annual voting poll.The survey, conducted by Turu – www.turu.com.au has named Victor Harbor Beachfront Holiday Park as the best holiday park in South Australia and Great Ocean Road Tourist Park at Peterborough came out on top in Victoria.Brad Scofield who runs the Victor Harbor Beachfront Holiday Park with his wife Erin says it’s an honour to be named the best holiday park in South Australia.“We’re right on the beachfront at Victor Harbor on South Australia’s stunning Fleurieu Peninsula and only an hour’s drive from Adelaide which makes us a popular choice with locals and visitors,” Brad Scofield says.“Our accommodation suits all tastes and budgets and we are the only park in the area with ocean views and a swimming pool. Also, we are a pet friendly park for those travelling with small pets.”Dean and Sarah Hellessey are the owners and operators of the Great Ocean Road Tourist Park at Peterborough which has been named best holiday park in Victoria.“Our location is amazing as we are situated on the mouth of the Curdies River Inlet at Peterborough and we are absolutely thrilled to be voted the best park in the State,” Dean Hellessey says.“Visitors love staying here as they can explore the spectacular coastal scenery along the Great Ocean Road including the world-famous tourist attraction, the 12 Apostles and also enjoy the tradition of toasting marshmallows by a campfire.”Top Tourist Parks Chief Executive Officer Stuart Livingstone says both parks are to be congratulated on running the most popular holiday destinations in Australia.“Not only does Top Tourist Parks have incredible locations for holidaymakers but our member Parks go the extra mile to ensure guests are comfortable and have fun during their stay whether it’s in a cabin, caravan or they are camping,” he says. Top Tourist ParksSource = Top Tourist Parkslast_img read more

Previously unreported travel agency collapse makes Sunday headlines

first_imgBarry Mayo Chairman TravelManagers AustraliaPreviously unreported travel agency collapse makes Sunday headlines across New South WalesThe travel industry continues to make headlines for the wrong reasons. The latest report entitled ‘Travel agent disappears with money, leaving customers stranded’, appeared in Sydney’s The Sun Herald on Sunday 24 April. The Sun Herald report also featured across New South Wales online publications of Daily Liberal, The Border Mail, Illawarra Mercury, Northern Daily, The Young Witness and Western Advocate.The report states that the agency owner Taha Baghdadi from Bankstown-based Pack N Go Travel was recently prosecuted and ordered to pay almost $30,000 in fines, cost and compensation to three victims who lost their money and were left stranded at Sydney Airport, their holidays ruined before they had even begun.TravelManagers’ Chairman Barry Mayo continues to voice his concerns about yet another negative media report where clients have lost money through a travel agency collapse making news, even though the failure of Pack N Go Travel occurred eighteen months ago.“This travel agency collapse appears to have gone undetected and unreported until this weekend. You have to question are there more travel agent closures where consumers have lost money that have gone unreported, yet we may read about in future news reports?”The Sun Herald report quotes the New South Wales Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe stating that the agency owner’s actions “are a clear case of a travel agent engaging in unconscionable conduct” and advising that “consumers could protect themselves from dodgy travel agents by checking they belonged to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents’ travel accreditation scheme.”Mayo is concerned that this advice, albeit assumedly unintentional, is misleading for consumers.“By representing that consumers booking travel through an ATAS accredited agent will be protected against financial loss is clearly not true. ATAS accreditation, by itself, affords no consumer protection against an agent’s failure to account. As has been shown since May 2015, there have been three ATAS accredited agencies that have failed financially, two of which have left consumers without their money and travel arrangements.”Mayo advises that Pack N Go Travel’s consumer losses occurred approximately six months after the New South Wales and other state governments dismantled the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF).“The reality is if the TCF still existed or the government had insisted it be replaced by an alternative consumer protection scheme, these customers from Pack N Go Travel would be unaffected and the fund would have ensured they received their travel arrangements or had their money returned. It’s that simple. Yet instead the industry continues to be marred by media reports of unscrupulous travel agent behaviour which with every negative report contributes to an unnecessary undermining of consumer confidence in booking with the many professional and financially sound travel agents.”Mayo strongly believes the state governments are guilty of disbanding the TCF without ensuring the travelling public was provided with an effective form of consumer protection against travel agent insolvency.“It can no longer be disputed that consumer losses now being experienced are as a direct result of state governments disbanding the TCF without first ensuring it was replaced with an alternative form of reliable universal consumer protection. State governments need to acknowledge these consumer losses are not going to cease and recognise that an accreditation scheme without consumer compensation is of little value from both consumer and industry perspectives.”Mayo reminds the travel agency community that $23 million dollars of TCF funds contributed by travel agents remains intact and asks the question what do the state governments intend to do with the fund’s remaining $23 million dollars?“Immediate steps need to be taken to ensure these funds are used to reinstate a more robust financial oversight of the industry and provision of consumer protection.”Mayo believes the state governments have a responsibility to their constituents and must take responsibility and urgent action to insist on an alternative form of consumer protection against travel intermediary insolvency that is consistent and universal.“How many more consumers need to be out of pocket before the state governments finally take some positive action to ensure the integrity of the Australian travel agent industry is not further compromised?”Original article in the Sun Herald here:  Sun Herald – 24 April 2016 The Sydney Morning Heraldview the article hereSource = Sydney Morning Heraldlast_img read more

Virtuoso increases commitment to Australia

first_imgL-R Evan Pierce, Cristina Magni and Michael LondreganVirtuoso increases commitment to AustraliaGlobal luxury travel network, Virtuoso, today announced two key promotions in its APAC team as the business continues to support its Australian base and expands further into Asian markets.Evan Pierce and Cristina Magni have been promoted to Regional Director roles in recognition of their success in both growing the Virtuoso network and driving member engagement over the past three years.Evan will relocate to Singapore in the Regional Director, Asia role in order to lead the Asia team in Virtuoso’s expansion into China, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.Cristina will remain in Sydney as Regional Director, Australia and New Zealand, where she will continue to drive the ongoing success and growth of the member network.“Virtuoso has witnessed strong performance in the Asia Pacific region over the past 5 years and Virtuoso has made the commitment to reward this success by further investment in our in-market resources,” Virtuoso APAC Managing Director, Michael Londregan said of the move.“The local team has been instrumental in growing our business by working with members to ensure Virtuoso programs deliver competitive advantages for their clients.“In 2017 we saw more than 20 percent growth in our regional network, much of which was the result of existing members growing their business through expansion, acquisition and efficiencies.“Evan and Cristina have been instrumental in these results and their development to Regional Director roles will ensure Virtuoso is well placed to expand further in 2019.“Asia is a newer market for Virtuoso with unlimited potential and Evan will lead our ongoing expansion with a key focus on the development of our existing members and the targeted expansion into the complex China market.“Cristina will continue the management of our member programs in Australia and New Zealand where we expect significant performance growth in what must be described as both a contested and commoditising landscape.“As a team, Virtuoso Asia Pacific is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead and to supporting our members in continuing to be the best in the business.”Source = Virtuosolast_img read more

Tourism Authority of Thailand announce famil plans for the ASTW 2018 A

first_imgTourism Authority of Thailand announce famil plans for the 2018 Australian Society of Travel Writers AGM and conferenceTourism Authority of Thailand announce famil plans for the ASTW 2018 AGMIn August this year, The Tourism Authority of Thailand, Australia (TAT) will host the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW)’s Annual General Meeting in Bangkok.TAT is delighted to report that the conference will be attended by 115 members, and over 80 members will attend pre- or post-convention famil programs.Delegates have been offered a wide range of famil options and TAT is happy to report that most have been able to attend their first choice. There are seven famils on the AGM program, with the most popular choices being Kanchanaburi and Trat, with 15 attending, followed by Krabi (14).The range of famils aims to show case the wide range of experiences – ‘Open to the New Shades’ – to be found in Thailand.Delegates on the Kanchanaburi tour will travel the infamous Death Railway from River Kwai Bridge, visit Hellfire Pass, visit an elephant sanctuary and go on a firefly night cruise in Samut Songkhram , while those on the Krabi tour will visit the charming Muslim enclave of Koh Klang, learn to fish with the locals and go island hopping.In Trat, an unknown gem in the Gulf of Thailand near the Cambodian border, delegates will learn how to make Ya Na crackers, weave ‘Ngop’ (farmer’s hats) with palm leaves and cruise to small islands within Mu Koh Chang National Park. While in Chiang Rai, delegates will visit the White Temple to marvel at its wild murals and travel through beautiful mountain scenery in Doi Mae Salong.ASTW members have been advised of their assigned famils this week, and are encouraged to book flights as soon as possible. Flight bookings close on 30 June 2018.For more information, please email: info@thailand.net.auAbout the Tourism Authority of ThailandThe Tourism Authority of Thailand, Sydney office has been in operation for over 20 years and is funded by the Government of Thailand. TAT Sydney operates as a marketing, public relations and administration branch of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Head Office in Bangkok.The Sydney office is responsible for the regional area of Australia and New Zealand. The main objective of the Tourism Authority of Thailand is to promote the country of Thailand as a holiday destination.Tourism Authority of Thailand Level 20, 56 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000Source = Tourism Authority of Thailand, Australia (TAT)last_img read more

Its lights on for Vivid Sydney

first_imgIt’s lights on! for Vivid SydneyIt’s lights on! for Vivid SydneySydney will burst into breathtakingly brilliant colour tonight as the lights are switched on for the 10th anniversary of Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas. Over the next 23 days and nights, Australia’s largest event will transform the city into a colourful showcase of illumination, sensational sounds and creative thinking from 25 May to 16 June 2018.The ‘Lights On’ moment, marking the start of the festival, will see all eyes turn to the Sydney Opera House for the Lighting of the Sails, created this year by award-winning artist from the North Coast of NSW, Jonathan Zawada, and featuring fantastical digital sculptures of everyday objects and natural specimens that evolve, dissolve, mutate and move.This year the lights shine bright each night at nine precincts across Sydney including Barangaroo, Chatswood, Circular Quay, The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Kings Cross, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Taronga Zoo and for the first time, Luna Park.In addition to Vivid Light, a massive line-up of local and international superstars will perform across the city as part of Vivid Music, such as Solange, St. Vincent and the Branford Marsalis Quartet. Vivid Ideas will bring together some of the creative world’s cutting edge icons, including Game Changers James Cameron, Dare Jennings, Jane McGonigal and Kriti Sharma, for a series of talks, seminars and workshops.Visitors to Vivid Sydney are encouraged to plan ahead and take public transport, with more than 6,000 extra services running throughout the festival.To plan your trip, visit www.vividsydney.com.Source = Destination NSWlast_img read more

CoreLogic HPI Data Up Again in June

first_img Share August 4, 2011 438 Views “”CoreLogic””:http://www.corelogic.com/ was the bearer of some positive housing market news recently, with its announcement that home pricing is on the rise for the third consecutive month. Data from CoreLogic indicates that the results from its Home Price Index (HPI) for June demonstrate a 0.7 percent increase in the market, building on similar statistical improvements recorded in May and April.[IMAGE]CoreLogic notes that pricing is still depressed by 6.8 percent compared to last year’s numbers, but the company states that recent declines in distressed sales, which dropped by 6.8 percent in June, may account for the advancing HPI. Commenting on the report, CoreLogic’s chief economist, said, “”While there is a consistent and sustained seasonal improvement in prices over the last three months, prices are lower than a year ago due to the decline in prices after the expiration of the tax credit last year.├âÔÇÜ├é┬á””The difference between the overall HPI and our index excluding distressed sales indicates that the price declines are more concentrated in the distressed sales market,”” he said.[COLUMN_BREAK]CoreLogic’s statistics, those that encompass distressed sales, indicated that states recording the highest rise in home pricing include New York (3.3 percent increase), the District of Columbia (2.4 percent increase), North Dakota (1.2 percent increase), Alaska (0.1 percent increase), and Nebraska (0.1 percent increase). The bottom five, each of which showed a depreciation in home pricing, include Nevada (12.4 percent decline), Idaho (12.3 percent decline), Arizona (12.3 percent decline), Illinois (12.2 percent decline), and Minnesota (9.6 percent decline).When distressed sales are eliminated, the five states that represented the greatest increase in HPI are North Dakota, New York, West Virginia, Texas, and Vermont, and the top five struggling states are Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi, Minnesota, and Delaware. Other results from CoreLogic’s study calculated the peak-to-current change in the national HPI between April 2006 and June 2011, which showed a decline of 31.7 percent, including distressed sales. Additionally, the company’s look at top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas measured by population demonstrated that 86 regions experienced a year-over-year decrease, dropping by five areas recording losses in May.California-based CoreLogic is a key source of consumer, financial, and property information around the U.S., and the company, which provides its analysis for businesses and the government, boasts the most comprehensive database of national housing information. Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Home Prices Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2011-08-04 Abby Gregorycenter_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology CoreLogic HPI Data Up Again in Junelast_img read more

US Bank The Worlds Most Admired SuperRegional Bank

first_img Community Initiatives Diversity & Inclusion FORTUNE homes HOUSING Lender U.S. Bancorp US Bank 2019-01-23 Radhika Ojha January 23, 2019 1,120 Views U.S. Bank: The “World’s Most Admired” Super-Regional Bank U.S. Bank, the country’s fifth-largest commercial bank has been recognized as a 2019 World’s Most Admired Company by FORTUNE magazine. The bank was listed as the world’s most admired superregional bank for the ninth consecutive year.The companies on this list are determined by a survey of executives, directors, and analysts rating companies in their industry on a series of criteria.Among superregional banks, FORTUNE ranked U.S. Bank as No. 1 in eight of the nine key attributes of reputation. They included quality of management, community responsibility, innovation, quality of products/services, people management, use of corporate assets, financial soundness, and long-term investment value.The bank was also ranked among the Top 10 most admired companies for its community responsibility and its financial soundness. Of the 680 companies ranked by FORTUNE across all industries, U.S. Bank was ranked eighth and ninth on both these parameters respectively.“Ethical leadership and financial discipline are core to how we create value for our stakeholders,” said Andy Cecere, President and CEO of U.S. Bancorp. “We are honored to be recognized among companies that are known for shaping the future with those principles in mind. These core principles help us meet the needs of our customers, employees, shareholders, and communities every day.”This isn’t the first award for the bank which has won a number of accolades over the years for its diversity and inclusion initiatives. Over the past 30 years, the bank has invested more than $9.4 billion in helping to build affordable housing in all 50 states, particularly for people of color, veterans, and homeless individuals. The bank was also recognized in 2018 as the best employer for Diversity by Forbes and while 60 percent of its workforce at the end of 2017 was made up of women, it also employs around 2,000 military veterans.With 74,000 employees and $467 billion in assets as of December 31, 2018, U.S. Bancorp is the parent company of U.S. Bank. The Minneapolis-based bank was recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as 2018’s World’s Most Ethical Company for its commitment towards serving retail, business, wealth management, payment, commercial and corporate, and investment services customers across the country and around the world as a trusted financial partner.center_img in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News Sharelast_img read more

How California avocado growers keep Persea mites f

first_img How California avocado growers keep Persea mites f … By Thomas Grandperrin of UAV-IQ Precision Agriculture (www.uaviq.com)This article is part of a series on biological control and IPM written by UAV-IQ (www.uaviq.com).In two previous articles, we presented classical biological control, the practice of finding a pest’s natural enemy in its original ecosystem and bringing it back to feast upon your pest populations, and augmentative biological control, the practice of bolstering local beneficial populations by adding more of an existing species to the dinner party. The last type of biocontrol we will present is conservation biological control (CBC), which can be summarized as the set of practices that aim to ensure that natural enemies have a suitable habitat capable of supporting their populations at required levels. This includes placing new habitats such as specific cover crop types into the environment as well as preventing chemical applications from making existing habitats unsuitable.Two primary drivers for the need to implement conservation biocontrol are the use of broad range synthetic pesticides, which often have the side effect of reducing the indigenous population of natural enemies, and the simplification of plant ecosystems (monocropping) which reduces the habitat and the food of some natural enemies. Conservation control can be implemented as a “stand-alone” management technique or as a complementary technique of augmentative biocontrol beneficials release within a comprehensive integrated pest management plan. It generally consists of modifying field management practices and/or the ecosystem itself to reestablish or increase the development of naturally occurring predators, parasitoids and pathogens but also of pollinators. Conservation control plans can contain a variety of conservation measures, including plant and habitat diversification, reducing cropping intensity, and increasing landscape complexity, which should result in increased density and variety of beneficials. Some examples include inter-row cover planting, seeding flowers that bring additional resources to beneficials, planting hedgerows, building physical refugees for the hibernation/overwintering of the natural enemies, seeding trap plants that attract pests, and release of alternative prey for beneficials to feed upon when pest populations are low. Indeed, it is important to allow natural enemies access to diverse food sources. That way, when pest populations dip below levels sufficient to serve as a sole food source, beneficials such as predatory mites, parasitoid wasps, and green lacewings, that also feed on pollen and nectar in addition to pest populations, can survive and still be present in the field to control future pest outbreaks.Cover crops in a California almond orchard. Source: Flickr Conservation control techniques are usually quite local specific, which is one of the reasons why they are not widely documented. Among the popular examples, there is the case of Anagrus erythroneura, the parasitoid that efficiently controls the eggs of the western grape leafhopper, a pest that affects grape yield and quality. But because the leafhoppers overwinter at the adult stage, the parasitoid population declines quickly without egg hosts. As part of a CBC strategy, researchers and viticulturists have successfully planted alternative host plants adjacent to the vineyard as an overwintering site for the parasitoid. A regional variation in pest-parasitoid relationships was found, highlighting the need to adapt CBC techniques to local environments. To provide a few examples, in Oregon and Washington, Anagrus was mainly found on blackberry or rose bushes, while in California, mint, catnip, and California lilac are better alternative hosts capable of sustaining populations until the the leafhoppers re-emerge on the vines the following season. The Biocontrol Brief: How to control two-spotted s … The Biocontrol Brief: Aliens (aka parasitoids) ver … In Denmark, buckwheat flowering strips (a rich pollen source) are used to enhance Copidosoma aretas, a parasitoid of the strawberry tortrix moth (Acleris comariana) a major pest in Danish strawberry production. This plant is also used as a cover crop in some California vineyards to attract some beneficials such as predatory wasps, minute pirate bugs and hoverfliesIn perennial crops such as fruit orchards, natural enemies have a better chance of surviving from one season to the next since their habitats are less likely to be destroyed during harvest. But conservation biological control has also shown to add great value in annual crops and has been implemented in various types of production, from agroecology to organic or conventional farming.Intentionally intervening and managing complex ecosystems can be daunting even for research institutions and this kind of pest control strategy can involve a number of ecological and behavioral processes. While research in this field is continually advancing, many growers choose to start with some rather simple techniques, of planting native plants to support the beneficials’ ecosystem and using selective pesticides instead of broad-spectrum ones, to ensure better conservation of natural enemies and avoid secondary pest outbreaks.Do you have any experience with conservation biological control? Share your story with us and fellow growers in the comments!If this series on biological control has encouraged you to further explore how you can implement some of the techniques in your own integrated pest management plan, we’d love to hear about it. We’d also love to hear your suggestions for future articles.UAV-IQ Precision Agriculture is a company that leverages precision agriculture technologies and best practices to help growers address labor shortages and make farming operations more profitable and sustainable.center_img February 20 , 2019 You might also be interested in The Biocontrol Report: Economic decision-making in … last_img read more

eventstrainingViking

first_imgeventstrainingViking Viking experts will present on the benefits of travelling with Viking, answer questions and help guests plan their next river or ocean cruise journey at a series of free info sessions to be held across the country. Travel agents are encouraged to attend with their clients and can reserve seating featuring signage with their agency branding. Strictly limited offers will be made available on the day.The one-hour sessions will be held throughout the day and evening in each location. Light refreshments will be served during the day, and wine and beer during the evening.“These events make organising cruise bookings much simpler”, said Michelle Black, Viking Managing Director Australia and New Zealand. “With an expert on hand explaining the Viking benefits and answering questions, as well as exclusive offers available on the day, it’s the perfect opportunity for agents who do have interested clients.”Why you should attend:Viking’s expert team will be on hand to discuss itineraries, destinations and award-winning shipsLearn about how Viking has led the river cruise market and reinvented ocean cruising to become the world’s most awarded cruise lineLearn about popular Viking USPs including serene Scandinavian design, extensive inclusions and the ‘no kids and no casinos’ policy, in favour of more cultural enrichment activitiesExclusive offers will be available on the dayAgents are welcome to attend to increase their product knowledge and get the latest Viking newsSessions will be held in the following locations:Melbourne, 17 AprilGeelong, 18 AprilMornington, 19 AprilParramatta, 1 MaySydney, 3 MayPerth, 08 MayAdelaide, 10 MayCanberra, 17 MayGold Coast, 22 MayBrisbane, 23 MayNoosa, 24 MayNewcastle, 31 MayHobart, 21 JunAll event details can be found HERE – but agents can reserve seats with agency signage simply by emailing: infosessions@vikingcruises.com. Spots are limited and are expected to book out fast, so agents are advised to RSVP as soon as possible. IMAGE: Viking Sun in Sydney Harbourlast_img read more