first_imgLOS ANGELES, Calif. – A billionaire doctor struck a $500 million deal Wednesday to buy the Los Angeles Times, ending the paper’s quarrelsome relationship with its Chicago-based corporate overseers and bringing it under local ownership for the first time in 18 years.The agreement between Los Angeles-based medical entrepreneur Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong (soon-shong) and Tronc Inc. marks the latest instance of a rich, civic-minded individual buying a newspaper from a big corporation.Soon-Shiong is a major shareholder of Chicago’s Tronc Inc., one of the richest men in Los Angeles and, according to Forbes, the nation’s wealthiest doctor, with a net worth of $7.8 billion.The deal includes The San Diego Union-Tribune, various titles in the California News Group and the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities.Soon-Shiong takes over in a time of turmoil at the paper. The Times just replaced its top editor, the third switch at the position in the newsroom in six months. Publisher Ross Levinsohn had been on unpaid leave after revelations that he was a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits elsewhere. Tronc announced Wednesday that Levinsohn has been cleared of any wrongdoing and would be reinstated as CEO of its newly reorganized Tribune Interactive division.Journalists voted last month to unionize for the first time in the paper’s 136-year history.Clashes between the Los Angeles Times and Tribune Co., which changed its name to Tronc Inc., erupted not long after it acquired the West Coast paper in 2000. Staff at the Times bristled over what it considered a string of bad decisions made from hundreds of miles away in Chicago. Tronc owns the Chicago Tribune.The editor of the Los Angeles Times, John Carroll, who led the paper to 13 Pulitzer Prizes, resigned under heavy pressure to cut staff. Before he left, he asked an old friend and billionaire philanthropist if he would consider buying the paper.Publisher John Puerner stepped down at the Times, as did his successor, Jeffrey Johnson, shortly after.Dean Baquet, who took over for Carroll, left after 15 months. He is now the executive editor at The New York Times.The sale of the Los Angeles Times is in keeping with one of two trends in media ownership: big companies getting bigger and wealthy investors taking on newspapers as philanthropic endeavours, said Al Tompkins, a senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute.In 2013, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million. Boston Red Sox owner John Henry bought The Boston Globe for $70 million.“We find ourselves returning to where we were a century ago when a handful of wealthy owners controlled big influential newspapers,” Tompkins said. “Here’s the difference: The ownership today does not promise lucrative returns. You take it over knowing it isn’t nearly as profitable as it might have been 20 or 50 years ago. Today it’s a thinner margin and it gets thinner every day.”Soon-Shiong also holds a minority interest in the Los Angeles Lakers, acquired in 2011 from Magic Johnson, the team’s former superstar and current president of basketball operations.In an interview with the Times last year, Soon-Shiong acknowledged that as a major stockholder, he was unhappy with the way the Los Angeles Times was being run and felt a need to ensure its survival.“I am concerned there are other agendas, independent of the newspaper’s needs or the fiduciary obligations to the viability of the organization,” he said at the time. “My goal is to try and preserve the integrity and the viability of the newspaper.”After The Washington Post first reported a potential sale Tuesday, cheers spread through the Times newsroom. After the deal was formalized, the union representing the newspaper’s journalists congratulated Soon-Shiong.“Our readers expect and deserve the high-quality, independent journalism that has defined The Times for decades,” a union statement said Wednesday. “The LA Times Guild looks forward to working with a local owner who can help us preserve The Times as a guardian of our community and as the voice of the American West.”Maya Lau, a Times law enforcement reporter, tweeted: “Congratulations to Patrick Soon-Shiong and hooray for a return to local ownership of the Los Angeles Times & San Diego Union Tribune.”Tronc said the deal will allow it to follow a more aggressive growth strategy focused on news and digital media. Acquisitions will continue to be a big part of its plan, Tronc said Wednesday, and the company announced that it’s buying a majority stake in online product review company BestReviews for an undisclosed amount.The sale comes about a week after veteran Chicago journalist Jim Kirk was named editor in chief to replace Lewis D’Vorkin, whose short tenure was marked by clashes with staff.Kirk, 52, had briefly served in the job during a management overhaul from August until November, when D’Vorkin joined the paper. D’Vorkin will stay on with Tronc as Chief Content Officer of Tribune Interactive, the company said Wednesday.Reporters at the Times were alarmed by recent hiring of several news executives who reported to business executives, and not to news editors. That sparked fears the business side would wield undue influence in editorial matters. Traditionally, the editorial and business sides of a paper work separately to maintain journalistic credibility.A return to local ownership would restore pride at the Times, said veteran media business analyst Ken Doctor.The question is whether a new owner will do more than halt cutbacks by reinvesting, as Bezos and Henry did at their newspapers, to set the Times on a new path.“Given the huge challenges still faced by news publishing in the age of Google/Facebook ad duopoly and still-onrushing digital disruption, even a billionaire has his work cut out for him,” Doctor said.___Christopher Weber and John Rogers contributed to this report.last_img read more

first_imgMarrakech- King Mohammed VI received, on Saturday at the Marrakech royal palace, Indian foreign minister Salman Khurshid who is on an official visit to Morocco. On this occasion, the King commended the fact that India and Morocco are coming closer over the past years as shows this first visit by an Indian foreign minister to Morocco, said a statement by the royal office. The sovereign expressed Morocco’s resolve to foster friendship and cooperation ties with India, it said. Khurshid hailed the positive evolution of bilateral ties economically and regarding investment thanks to the bold and successful reforms by the Kingdom under the leadership of HM the King.  The Indian official highlighted the promising prospects for reinforcing ties mainly in the field of political consultations, multilateral coordination and human development, it said. Several international and regional issues of shared interest were discussed during this meeting as the reform of the UN system and the situation in the Maghreb, the Middle-East and sub-Saharan Africa, the source said. The royal audience was attended mainly by foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar, and India’s ambassador in Rabat Krishan Kumar.last_img read more

The child of a 13 year old mother died at a children’s home in Bandarawela after falling sick, the police media unit said today.According to the police the child was placed at the Sujatha children’s home while a court case was pending over the teen’s pregnancy. The Bandarawela police are conducting further investigations. (Colombo Gazette) The 3 month old child fell sick and had died on admission to hospital on Friday, the police said.A magisterial inquiry was conducted yesterday and it was found that the child had suffered from breathing difficulties.

The naming of the Russian agents believed to be responsible for the Novichok poisonings in Salisbury has brought the spectre of chemical weapons to the forefront of the public consciousness once again.But while such weapons can undoubtedly wreak enormous havoc, a Telegraph film investigating the threat of biological terrorism has shown that a far simpler way to spread fear and disrupt daily life would be to harness diseases in plants, animals and even humans.Dominic Nicholls, defence and security correspondent, has spoken to a host of experts who reveal that  bacteria such as anthrax, which occurs naturally in the soil and can infect cattle and wild animals, and foot and mouth disease could be a much bigger threat than chemical weapons.In the film, which you can watch by clicking the link above, he talks to biosecurity experts and farmers to investigate the scale of the threat and how prepared the UK is to tackle it. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Protect yourself and your family by learning more about Global Health Security  read more

A Linden family of five are now counting their losses after a fire gutted their flat concrete home situated at One Mile, Wismar.Curtis Higgins, the owner of the home, along with four family members lived at the house.The fire, this publication understands,  started at approximately 10:00hrs on Monday while a teenager and two children were at home.A neighbour recalled hearing a knock on her door and upon opening it, she was told by one of the children who were home at the time that the house was “burning down”.The remains of the home The woman said that she then raised an alarm. She explained that she called 911 several times in order to access the Linden fire service, but was told by the operator that the call was already transferred and she would have to wait for the fire service to arrive. She noted that neighbours were unable to save anything since the fire engulfed the house quickly.Apart from a washing machine, the family were not able to save anything from the house. The inside of the building and its roofing were completely burnt out.An occupant of the home, Dorette Higgins, when contacted, noted that she lived at the home with her father, Curtis Higgins, for 38 years. She said she was at her sister’s house when the fire started.The woman, who believes the fire was electrical in nature explained that there was an issue with electricity at the house a few days ago and her refrigerator was damaged.The fire service has since launched an investigation. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedSeveral homeless following Linden fireOctober 27, 2018In “Crime”Linden house destroyed by fire; 8 homeless March 26, 2019In “Crime”9 homeless after fire guts house at Amelia’s WardDecember 5, 2017In “Local News” read more

first_imgUpdated 11.46amA NEW BILL that will go before the Seanad next week will make any disruption of essential utilities such as water and electricity illegal.Feargal Quinn will table the Critical Utilities Security of Supply Bill, which could see workers whose strike action leads service cuts jailed for five years.The bill will be opposed by the government with the Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte saying last night that it is “counterproductive”.The bill comes against the background of proposed industrial action by ESB staff, but Quinn said it has been in the works since before then.“It’s not inspired by the proposed ESB strike. It is inspired by the fact that hospitals and homes require a supply of two things: water and electricity,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.“I’m copying legislation that has been enacted in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Romania and Portugal. Strikers would be required to ensure that the continuity of supply is ensured.” Rabbitte said that while the government believes there should be not be industrial action in utility companies, criminalising it would disrupt the “good record of industrial peace” that has existed in Ireland over the last two decades through the existing industrial relations mechanisms.‘Not about criminalising workers’The Minister said in a statement: “Of course the Government believes there should not be industrial disruption in our utilities but using the criminal law to try to achieve this would, I believe, be counterproductive.“Provisions in negotiated agreements for ‘no strike’ clauses can work well; however, statutory provisions that include criminal sanctions are an entirely different matter.”The bill comes complete with custodial punishments, but Quinn that the bill was not about targeting ESB workers.It’s not about criminalising workers, it’s about ensuring that the  legislation is credible and has teeth.“You can have a strike without disrupting supply. We have to protect our critical utilities. If we can’t protect our electricity and water, how can we get investors to come here?”The Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy said the bill “is an affront to the right of workers” to protect pay and conditions by going on strike.- additional reporting by Hugh O’Connell First published 11.07am Read: ESB unions in public spat with management over ‘protective notice’Read: Thieves warned that stealing the ESB’s overhead wires is ‘very dangerous’last_img read more

first_imgIn the middle of the frozen Antarctic wastes, 800 miles from the South Pole is Lake Vostok. Well, it would be more correct to say that it’s under 2 miles of solid ice, but why quivel? This massive pocket of water has been sealed in the ice for 15-35 million years, and scientists now believe it could harbor life.It took years to drill down to the lake, which was only reached by Russian scientists in 2012. Reports have since gone back and forth on whether or not there is life in the ancient lake’s liquid reservoir, but now researchers have found the best evidence for life yet. According to a report in the journal PLOS ONE, samples of ice from just above the lake show traces of DNA from over 3500 different species.These are fragments of DNA locked in ice, not full sequences. As such, we aren’t able to know exactly which organisms they come from, but it is possible to reach some general conclusions. About 95% of the sequences isolated come from bacteria with the other 5% coming from more complicated eukaryotic organisms and archaea. In this context, eukaryotic probably means mostly single-cell creatures, not multicellular eukaryotes.Some of the sequences hint at higher levels of complexity in the lake. Some of the DNA is a close match for small arthropods and mollusks. Perhaps more interestingly, some of the bacteria species are thought to be of a type found in the GI tract of fish. That could mean fish are still swimming somewhere in that ancient lake.The researchers believe many of the species detected are associated with hydrothermal vents in the ocean. If those features are present in Lake Vostok it could explain how it remains liquid and from where the energy for a thriving ecosystem comes.Lake Vostok is big — 160 miles long and 30 miles wide with an average depth of about a quarter of a mile. It’s going to take time to get probes into the lake to check for living creatures, but these results are encouraging. Bizarre forms of life could have evolved in Lake Vostok over millions of years.last_img read more

first_imgWhat’s next for M&S after the British company fell out of the FTSE 100? This is the first time M&S has not been a FTSE 100 member since 1984. Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article THE ICONIC BRITISH retailer Marks and Spencer has dropped out of the FTSE 100 stock index for the first time – a mark of how turbulent the last few years have been for the 135-year-old retailer. Tumbling from the FTSE 100 – which includes 100 high-value businesses from across key sectors including retail, banking, pharmaceuticals, energy and telecom – is a symbolic blow to the company that began as a market stall in Leeds in 1884. This is the first time Marks and Spencer has not been a FTSE 100 member since the index launched in 1984, after its market value dropped to £3.7 billion amid ongoing troubles facing the company. The retailer, founded on the slogan ‘don’t ask the price, it’s a penny’ has faced significant difficulties in recent years as customers have moved online and lost interest in its clothing, especially the womenswear ranges that once defined Marks and Spencer. Marks and Spencer had long settled among the lowest-valued companies in the index, so the news comes as little surprise. The company will now be relegated to the FTSE 250, which is a lower tier of the market value index. What happens now?While the news has little real impact on the day-to-day operations of the business, it’s certainly an ominous bellwether for one of the most recognisable British shops.Come 23 September, the retailer will no longer form part of the index after its market value on Tuesday fell below the threshold necessary for inclusion – and it’s hard to know when and if Marks and Spencer will ever return to the list of the largest UK-listed firms. With issues like Brexit and a weak pound causing trouble for plenty of UK businesses, M&S is acutely vulnerable as it tries to plot a path back to better times –  it might be hard to imagine now, but in 1998 it was the first British retailer to make over £1 billion in annual profit. “Brexit and the falling pound hardly make for calming mood music for investors in companies like M&S, which are heavily exposed to the domestic economy and fluctuations in import prices,” noted Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.In May, Marks and Spencer posted profits that did little to assuage worries among investors, with total sales dropping by 3% to almost £10.4 billion. The company has been shutting down under-performing stores, with more than 100 pegged for closure by 2022.  TV presenter Holly Willoughby launched a new range of M&S clothes earlier this year. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images“We are deep into the first phase of our transformation programme and continue to make good progress,” chief executive Steve Rowe said at the time. “We remain on track with our transformation and are now well on the road to making M&S special again,” he added.In a letter to shareholders in May, Marks and Spencer Chairman Archie Norman, a business veteran who has helped develop both Asda and ITV, said that the company needed change that was “transformative, not a touch of the tiller”.“Therefore we are aiming to transform all the pieces of the jigsaw: the way we are organised, the way we work, our technology, our store base, our products, our supply chains and our value in the market,” he wrote.In one example of the company’s evolution, M&S is soon planning to offer a food delivery service after striking a partnership with online supermarket Ocado.Partly a bid to capitalise on the food sales that have remained largely positive in recent years, the move has been met with some scepticism by analysts, who worry that the company is not doing enough to tackle the endemic issues facing it.  “Ocado is not yet making a profit from food sales so the rewards of this partnership are uncertain,” Laith Khalaf, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, told the BBC. One person who has played down the prospect is Norman. In May, he told the media: “When I went to ITV we dropped out of the FTSE 100, the sky didn’t fall in.” While the sky might not yet fall in, the next few months will prove crucial for the company. “It may be some time before M&S can start to look upwards again,” predicted Hyett. With additional reporting from  © AFP 2019 Thursday 5 Sep 2019, 10:05 AM 29 Comments By Dominic McGrath Short URLcenter_img A branch of M&S in London. Image: ui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images A branch of M&S in London. Share6 Tweet Email Sep 5th 2019, 10:05 AM Image: ui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images 15,649 Views last_img read more

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Seniors have been identified as one of the groups most at risk from death and serious injury from fire. In an attempt to combat this, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) delivers free presentations, arming them with the knowledge to keep fire safe. These programs, presented by the Community Resilience Department of the MFB, have been running for over 20 years. Official figures between the years 2000 and 2010 showed that 50 per cent of all fatalities caused by fire in the metropolitan district of Melbourne were people aged 65 and over. The Seniors Fire Safety Program, since its inception in 1993, has won not only state and international awards but also the public’s confidence. During the last financial year more than 110 presentations took place. The main objective of the program is to promote community safety and give the elderly basic tips on how to keep themselves safe from fire. Special emphasis is given on prevention, in order to reduce the incidence and impact of home fire. All kinds of senior community groups are welcome to join the presentations, which are delivered by volunteers. As the coordinator of the Seniors Fire Safety Program, Marthèse Kavanagh, explains to Neos Kosmos, the group of volunteers consists of retired MFB firefighters. The assistance of these retired fire officers is invaluable, given that not only do they have a lot of experience in the area, but also an understanding for the seniors’ needs and lifestyle, being retired themselves. Any seniors group, from church and multicultural groups to community support and health groups or just senior citizens’ clubs, regardless of how small or large they are, can attend a fire safety session, free of charge, at a site chosen by them. Whether it is a venue where a community group meets or just someone’s residence, the presenters will go wherever they are needed. “If you are a seniors group of any kind, we are available to talk with you. “All people need to do is give us a ring or email us and we’ll do the rest,” says Ms Kavanagh. The presentation takes no longer than 45 minutes and is a flexible, informal session, more like a “community group discussion”, where people can ask questions at any time. Whenever a multicultural group needs language assistance, professional interpreters are recruited, with no cost involved on behalf of the public. Furthermore, printed materials on home fire safety for seniors to take home are available in 21 languages. Ms Kavanagh also points out some of the main reasons that put seniors at risk: mobility problems due to old age or because of the medication they are on, home appliances in need of maintenance or just the fact that many older people tend to live alone. The steps we need to take to help keep ourselves safe from fire are very simple, yet important. This very simple information is exactly what the presenters of the Seniors Fire Safety Program talk about, such as checking that the fire alarms are working, making sure that there is an easy way out of the house or replacing old electric appliances with new safe ones. The volunteer presenters of the program are all kept up-to-date with the most recent innovations in fire safety and community safety, given that the Metropolitan Fire Brigade organises professional development meetings with them four times a year. At the moment, the volunteer group consists of six retired fire officers and according to Ms Kavanagh they are trying to recruit more. It is a small yet dedicated group of people, equipped with all the necessary knowledge and, most importantly, committed to share this knowledge with the seniors community. “The presenters share all their years of experience as fire fighters, as well as their knowledge of what it’s like to be an older person living in the community. “Fire fighters are really committed to their community, so these are people who served a lifetime with the fire brigade and they still want to help the community; they are quite motivated,” says Ms Kavanagh.For further information or for booking a presentation please contact the Community Resilience Department on (03) 9665 4464 or read more

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Greece’s former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis appeared on ABC’s Q&A show yesterday, stressing that intolerance towards Muslim refugees would only fuel further violence.The former finance minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis answered his question backed by the experiences of a country that has borne the brunt of Europe’s refugee crisis.“There’s no doubt that when you have a massive exodus of refugees, there may very well be a couple of insurgents that infiltrate. But it’s neither here nor there,” Varoufakis said. “Both the terrorist attacks and the refugee influx are symptoms of the same problem but one doesn’t cause the other. “There is a correlation but no causation,” he said.“The vast majority of the people who exploded bombs, and blew themselves up, and took AK47s to mow people down, these were people who were born in France, in Belgium. Think of the bombings in London. Britain doesn’t have free movement [over its borders] it is not part of the Schengen treaty. So the notion that we’re going to overcome this problem by erecting fences, electrifying them, and shooting people who try to scale them … the only people who benefit from that are the traffickers, because their price goes up … and Isis. They are the only beneficiaries.”Referring to the thousands of refugees who fled the Islamic State and “washed up on [Greece’s] shores”, Varoufakis said one simple thought came to his mind: “If somebody knocks on your door at three in the morning, they are wet, bleeding, they’ve been shot at, they’re frightened, what do you do? I think there is only one answer. You open the door and you give them shelter,” he said.Source: The Guardian, ABClast_img read more

first_imgManchester United great Peter Schmeichel insists Paul Pogba mustn’t be allowed to think he’s bigger than the club and backed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to extract the Frenchman’s full potentialAfter being left out of Mourinho’s final game in charge of United in their 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, Pogba was restored to the starting line-up for Solskjaer’s debut at Cardiff City.The World Cup winner responded with an incisive display that saw him provide two assists as United stormed to a convincing 5-1 win.But Schmeichel cautioned United against allowing Pogba to think he’s bigger than them.“Mourinho did put himself in the limelight, not in the correct way or the way that you want the United manager to be,” Schmeichel told BBC Radio 5 Live.“There were stories about the manager being at war with certain players. That’s happened many times, but the club has always been able to deal with that in the dressing room.“I want to see Pogba being a United player as good as everything else he does in life.“He’s absolutely brilliant on social media, and he’s projecting himself to be this incredibly important player.“We’ve seen it at Juventus, we’ve seen it with France, we haven’t seen it with Manchester United and what’s really important here is that no player, regardless of how much money they make, how much they’ve been bought for, has ever been bigger than the club or the manager.harry maguire, manchester UnitedMaguire says United need to build on today’s win George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Harry Maguire wants his United teammates to build on the victory over Leicester City.During the summer, Harry Maguire was referred to as the ultimate…“This has been now portrayed like Pogba has won a war, this doesn’t work for me, that cannot happen for United.“It’s now really important that the club deal with this situation. Pogba, or any other player, cannot be bigger than the club.”Night, Reds ❤️ #MUFC— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 22, 2018However, the former Danish goalkeeper expects old United team-mate Solskjaer to be the man to get Pogba to perform to his expected levels.“Ole is definitely a different personality and a different direction,” Schmeichel added.“He’s stuck to the tradition and the history of the club, and respected it all the way, and had a great run as reserve coach for the club, and this is significant, because he was dealing with players like Pogba and Jesse Lingard, and these players that seem to be the players that Mourinho had problems with.“I think this is key, and the brief that Ole has got is to tame that situation, make someone like Pogba play to the potential that we know already that he has got.”last_img read more

first_imgRepresentational ImageReutersYU Televentures Ltd, a subsidiary of Micromax is reportedly planning to make a foray into the mobile wallet business.YU founder Rahul Sharma revealed the company’s new venture at the unveiling of the Yutopia smartphone which comes integrated with proprietary app hub Around YU.The main USP of Around YU is that it provides direct access to the services in a single platform, which prevents wastage of phone storage due to installing of individual app.Now, YU in collaboration with few third-party payment firms will enter mobile wallet business to take on established players – Paytm, Oxigen Wallet, MobiKwik,FreeCharge, Chillr and PayuMoney.Even carrier network behemoths Airtel and Vodafone too have their own apps – Airtel Money and M-Pesa respectively in India. If all things go as planned, YU will ink the deal with their partners in a month’s time, reported Live Mint.The recently announced Around YU suite houses top food ordering app Zomato, taxi aggregators (Olacabs & Taxi for Sure), travel app Ixigo, shopping voucher app Scandid.Except Olacabs (& Taxi for Sure) and Zomato, Micromax has stakes in all other aforementioned app developer firms supported in the Around YU.Similarly, YU is expected to take up the same strategy by investing in third-party payment firms to develop a mobile wallet app and integrate them in their smartphones – initially start with YU brand, later introduce it in Micromax and other Android devices.Besides smartphones, YU Televentures sells myriad of devices such as pocket printer, power banks, health kit and now the company is returning back to its roots.Micromax Informatics initially started out as a software company in 2000 and only in 2008, the company began selling smartphones.Sharma is very upbeat about the company’s second innings in the software business. With so many avenues opening up in this arena, especially with regard to service apps in mobile, he is optimistic of generating a long term source of revenue for the company.It is learnt that YU will charge commission from associate partners for using its platform.It remains to be seen how things will pan out for Micromax.In a related development, Micromax launched the Yutopia, country’s first indigenous flagship smartphone.Read more: Metal-clad YU Yutopia with fingerprint sensor launched in India; price, specificationsIt comes with state-of-art specifications such as all-metal body, QHD display, finger-print sensor, Sony camera and numerous other valued features.last_img read more

first_imgJW Marriott Hotel Marriott was under fire last week after Bollywood actor Rahul Bose was sent a bill of Rs 442 for two bananas. The actor had taken to Twitter to share his dismay for the exorbitant amount he was asked to pay for what the hotel termed as a fruit platter.The five-star restaurant was also under the radar of Chandigarh’s Deputy Commissioner and Excise and Taxation Commissioner Mandip Singh Brar. A probe was ordered and JW Marriott was fined Rs 25,000. Another reason the hotel received a lot of criticism was for charging GST for fresh fruits and vegetables, which according to experts, are not under a tax slab.The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) has now clarified that charging 18 percent GST on the fruits was a legal requirement for the hotel. A statement read that the hotel did the right thing by charging 18 percent GST and the customer is legally required to pay the billed amount.”We need to understand that the hotel is not engaged in the sale and purchase of fruits and vegetables but it provides service of accommodation as well as restaurant service which include the supply of food and beverages to its guests. Unlike a retail store where bananas can be purchased at market price, a hotel offers service, quality, plate, cutlery, accompaniment, sanitized fruit, ambience and luxury and not the commodity alone. Coffee available at Rs 10 at a roadside stall could be served at Rs 250 in a luxury hotel,” FHRAI Vice-President Gurbaxish Singh Kohli said.FHRAI also went on to say that the hotel, as an establishment, does not sell fruits and vegetables but they provide a service and the GST is applicable whether it is a ‘fruit platter or a whole fruit.”So, while bananas, or other unpacked fruits, are outside purview of GST at a retail store, when served in a restaurant or hotel, whether as a fruit platter or a whole fruit, as per existing GST laws a levy of 18 percent is applicable. This is what the laws demand of us, and we don’t have a say in the matter,” said Pradeep Shetty, FHRAI Jt. Honorary Secretary.DVS Somaraju, the Treasurer of FHRAI, said that the immediate need for concern is sensitizing the staff regarding matters like these and teaching them how to behave in such a situation arises.”We do not wish for guests to experience a situation like this and are deliberating on possible measures that hotels could take. We will advise our members to sensitize the staff on the subject and will advise precautionary measures to avoid such happenings in the future,” Somaraju said.last_img read more

first_imgIllustration by Jacob VillanuevaVote for me!While early voting for the March primaries won’t start for nearly a month, a lot of important deadlines in the races have already come and gone.Last month, candidates running for either a statewide office or a seat in the Texas Legislature faced a deadline to disclose their campaign finances for the last six months of last year. At the federal level, candidates had until Wednesday to report their finances for the fourth quarter of 2017.All of those reports are accessible to the public — and important to the elections process. Campaign finance reports show how much money is coming into a campaign and how that money is being spent. And the reports show the public who is helping a candidate get elected.  “The sunlight on these contributions helps to combat the threat of corruption,” said Jerad Najvar, an attorney at a Houston-based law firm that specializes in campaign finance and constitutional law. “If everybody is going to see where a candidates’ money is coming from, it’s very hard to hide some kind of corrupt bargain.”But for the uninitiated, the campaign finance rules can confuse more than they clarify. To help, we’ve compiled an overview of what everyday Texans should know about campaign finance reports.The reports must be filed regularly — even if it isn’t campaign season In non-election years, state campaign finance reports have to be filed to the Texas Ethics Commission twice a year. During election years, that number increases; candidates have at least four reports due — two semi-annual reports (one in January and one in July) and another two pre-election reports (one 30 days before an election and another eight days before an election).At the federal level, candidates must file quarterly reports — regardless of whether it’s an election year — to the Federal Election Commission. They also have to file reports 12 days before an election and 30 days after an election. In the event of a “sizeable last-minute contribution,” some candidates might have to disclose more.There are fines for missing deadlines, but they can be hard to collectAt the statewide or legislative level, fines for missed reporting deadlines start at $500. That amount can occasionally go up $100 per day to a maximum of $10,000. The Texas Ethics Commission’s rules also allow additional fines if a report is more than 30 days late.But the commission doesn’t have much power to collect those fines. The commission’s general counsel, Ian Steusloff, previously told The Texas Tribunethat sometimes the commission can’t find the delinquent filer or sometimes the candidate simply doesn’t have the money to pay. The state attorney general’s office is usually responsible for collecting fines after they reach $1,000. Share Keep an eye on loans and cash on handPoliticos often like to track how much money a candidate has raised during a reporting period to get a sense of the excitement and interest the candidate has generated. But a more accurate reflection of a candidate’s resources can be found from the cash on hand number. That amount shows how much is in the candidate’s accounts ready to be spent. It includes contributions received that reporting cycle, but also money raised earlier that went unspent. The number can also include money from loans, which candidates often give themselves — or borrow from a bank — to start up their campaigns.Candidates who donate to their own campaigns record it as such for “loan liability,” Farrar-Myers said, so that they have the option of paying themselves back from whatever campaign funds are left.“For example, if I’m running for office and start-up my campaign, I might loan myself $25,000,” Farrar-Myers said. “That has to be recorded as a loan so at a future point in time when I raise enough money, I can only pay myself back.” But even involving the attorney general’s office doesn’t guarantee a fine will be paid. Last February, the state sued Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, for failing to file reports on his personal finances or his contributions and expenditures. Reynolds currently owes the TEC $52,000, according the commission’s delinquent filer list.At the federal level, the Administrative Fine Program assesses civil money penalties for late and non-filed reports.Few contribution limits in Texas, strict ones for federal racesCandidates are required to report any sizeable contribution if the money was given with the intent to be used in connection with the campaign. This can include both monetary or in-kind contributions.“If somebody owns a restaurant and they let a candidate have an event there without charging them, then that would be a contribution,” Najvar said. Contributions to federal candidates are limited to $2,700 per election by the FEC. Meanwhile, Texas doesn’t have contribution limits for most offices, according to the TEC.Personal spending made by an individual or a PAC that’s not coordinated with a candidate is not considered a contribution. For instance, if an individual wants to spend $100,000 on billboards for a candidate he or she supports — and that person never coordinates that expenditure with the campaign — then it’s not considered a campaign contribution at the state or federal level.“Coordination means we don’t talk and we don’t synchronize our schedules or our strategy,” said Victoria Farrar-Myers, a senior fellow with Southern Methodist University’s Tower Center for Political Studies. “As long as you’re not coordinated … and you’re independently spending that money, you can spend unlimited sums.”Najvar added, however, that the individual or PAC that spends the money is still required to report those expenditures with either the state or FEC if it’s above a certain threshold.last_img read more

first_imgFacebook also is banking on Watch Party, its co-viewing feature that lets users watch and comment on videos together, to drive up engagement and views. To date, Facebook users have created 12 million Watch Parties in groups.Van Veen said the biggest surprise to him has been how long people are willing to watch a show on Facebook. “The conventional wisdom was, people won’t watch anything over a minute,” he said. For “Ball in the Family,” one of the top fan requests was for episodes to be longer than their preivous roughly 15-minute length; Van Veen said Facebook told Bunim-Murray midseason to make them longer, now coming in around 24 minutes each.Pictured above: Elizabeth Olsen in “Sorry For Your Loss” season one “The reason we created Facebook Watch was to invent what entertainment could look like when you put people at the center,” said Fidji Simo, head of video for Facebook. “That’s what is driving a lot of our content strategy, and the renewals are driven by a large part by the fact that they’ve created large communities.”Of course, 75 million would be just 5% of Facebook’s massive base of 1.5 billion daily active users. But to Facebook execs, that highlights the opportunity ahead for professionally produced content on Watch. Starting this week, Facebook Watch is now globally available on desktop and Facebook Lite after initially launching overseas just on the Facebook mobile app.Facebook has funded “dozens” of original productions to date and will continue to invest in more content in 2019, including internationally, said Ricky Van Veen, Facebook’s head of global creative strategy. That includes a “Real World” reboot with MTV Studios and Bunim/Murray Productions with local versions in the U.S., Mexico and Thailand set to debut next spring. It’s also developing talent-competitions series, including interactive competition series “World’s Most Amazing Dog.”“We are going to be doubling down on what’s working,” said Van Veen, who oversees the 19-member team that commissions original scripted and unscripted programming.That said, the long-term goal is still to turn Facebook Watch into a service fully fed by third-party creators and partners, who get a cut of ad revenue, Simo said. “It’s never been our goal for this to be a business in and of itself,” she said. “It’s to learn as fast as possible to find out what kinds of content do what we want it to do — connecting with an audience and helping them engage.”By Facebook standards, the pages of the four shows renewed for second seasons have modest followings: “Huda Boss” has 417,000 followers, “Five Points” has 399,000, “Sacred Lies” has 343,000 and “Sorry For Your Loss” has 146,000. But the company doesn’t look at just views or audience size. In deciding what to renew for Facebook Watch, Van Veen and his team focus on the community-building results of a show: “There’s no single number we are looking for to say, ‘This has been a success.’”The four shows have a basic thread connecting them, according to Van Veen: “They’re better because they’re on Facebook. It sounds cliché but Facebook is a social network — so having that social element to it, igniting the conversation, building a community around the show, is key.”For example, “Sorry For Your Loss,” a critically acclaimed half-hour drama about a young widow struggling after her husband’s death, has the most loyal fans of any Facebook Watch show. That means the 10-episode first season has the highest percentage of viewers who have watched (to 75% completion) at least three episodes of a show. “It deals with grief, which is pretty taboo, but it approaches the topic in a subtle and creative way,” Simo said.“Sorry For Your Loss” stars Elizabeth Olsen (pictured above) as struggling widow Leigh Shaw, alongside Kelly Marie Tran, Mamoudou Athie, Jovan Adepo and Janet McTeer.“Seeing our audience embrace and champion ‘Sorry For Your Loss’ and reading the comments and posts from people who feel seen and understood watching our show, has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life,” Kit Steinkellner, the show’s creator and executive producer, said in a statement. “Sorry For Your Loss” is produced by Big Beach TV.“Sacred Lies,” based on the YA novel “The Sacred Lives of Minnow Bly” by Stephanie Oakes, will return in season 2 with episodes inspired by a new Grimm tale, “The Singing Bone.” The show is from creator-showrunner Raelle Tucker (“True Blood,” “Jessica Jones”) and produced by Blumhouse Television. Tucker, commenting on the response to season one, said: “I have never seen thousands and thousands of people come together on the internet in such a harmonious, celebratory and positive way.” Popular on Variety ×Actors Reveal Their Favorite Disney PrincessesSeveral actors, like Daisy Ridley, Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and Gina Rodriguez, reveal their favorite Disney princesses. Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel,Tiana, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine all got some love from the Disney stars.More VideosVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9Next UpJennifer Lopez Shares How She Became a Mogul04:350.5x1x1.25×1.5x2xLive00:0002:1502:15 Facebook is trying to make the case that premium, long-form video entertainment — with the right themes and formats — can draw big and engaged audiences on its Facebook Watch platform.The social giant has renewed a set of four original series for second seasons: Kerry Washington’s drama “Five Points”; influencer Huda Kattan’s reality show “Huda Boss”; fairy-tale-inspired anthology series “Sacred Lies”; and drama “Sorry For Your Loss” starring Elizabeth Olsen.Facebook also is touting momentum for Watch since expanding it worldwide in August; Facebook Watch launched in August 2017 in the U.S. Currently, more than 400 million users globally per month spend at least one minute on Watch, up from 50 million in the U.S. just prior to the worldwide rollout.On a daily basis, over 75 million Facebook users spend at least one minute on Watch, and on average they spend more than 20 minutes streaming video on Facebook Watch, according to the company. (These are Facebook-reported numbers, which aren’t independently verified.) “Five Points,” from executive producer Kerry Washington, is a high-school drama set on Chicago’s South Side told from the perspectives of five different teens. “We’re looking forward to bringing audiences back to ‘Five Points’ for new surprises, relationships and drama,” said Jon Avnet, co-founder of Indigenous Media, which produces the show. “Huda Boss,” produced by Shed Media, follows the life of beauty influencer/entrepreneur Huda Kattan.Overall, the most-followed Facebook Watch show is Jada Pinkett Smith’s “Red Table Talk” talk show (4.3 million followers), which also has the most active related Facebook Group (440,000 members). The show with the most comments is interactive trivia game show “Confetti” that doles out cash prizes (a la HQ Trivia); that’s expanded beyond the U.S. to include versions in the U.K., Mexico and the Philippines. Facebook Watch’s most-viewed episode to date is Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor” segment “Operation Combat Bikesaver,” which has 41 million views to date.Facebook says its lineup of Watch shows is designed to appeal to a range of demographics, including younger audiences. For “Ball in the Family,” the Bunim/Murray reality show about LaVar Ball’s basketball family, 71% of viewers are under the age of 35, while “Huda Boss” skews toward women 18-24, according to Van Veen.The company also is trying to boost Watch viewing through live-streaming sports deals and licensed TV content. Earlier this month Facebook launched every episode of Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Firefly” in the U.S., hoping to bring a social-viewing element to the shows’ fans; but those drew a tepid response in their first week.Facebook Watch content has included ad breaks in five countries (U.S., U.K., Ireland, New Zealand and Australia) and those are now available to eligible Facebook Watch Pages in 40 countries. It’s still early on monetization, Simo said, but she said that 70% of ad breaks served in Watch shows are viewed to completion. In September, Facebook rolled out In-Stream Reserve, letting advertisers target ads to run against premium Watch content, and Simo said in 2019 it will expand to offer additional targeting options.last_img read more

first_img Improving Plug-In Electric Cars Citation: Raptor: An Electric Car Nearly Anyone Would Want to Drive (2009, July 9) retrieved 18 August 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. I love my Prius, it’s true. But sometimes, I look at the Dodge Charger (I’m watching Burn Notice this summer) and think, “What a cool car.” And when we think of cool cars, it’s hard to keep the image of a muscle car or a sports car from popping up. But when you think of environmentally friendly, those types of cars don’t even come to mind. Perhaps the latest creation from a software engineer will changes the stereotypes. Photo credit: NBC Bay Area Explore further In order to build the Raptor, Raul Atkinson ordered a Dayton car kit and then built the necessary equipment into it. Gas 2.0 reports on the effort put into creating the Electric Raptor:”The project took 2 years and an estimated 2000 hours to complete, but the results are pretty impressive. Using a 3-phase AC induction motor and 290 nickel-hydride batteries, Atkinson’s “Raptor” reaches 0-60 mph in 8 seconds, with a top speed of 100 mph. Maximum range is about 80 miles, with a full recharge taking just 3 hours. That is much less time spent recharging than most other production electric cars can boast.”Of course, this is a kit car, and it doesn’t have the same rigorous crash test standards and other cars have. But, even at $85,000, the Electric Raptor still costs less than current incarnations of similar cars that are all-electric. But what if it were mass-produced? If car companies could figure out how to build the kinds of all-electric cars that people would want to drive, for a price that they could afford, we’d be much further down the road to independence from fossil fuels.Assuming we could switch our grid to rely more on renewables, of course. No matter how cool the car is, if you have to charge it using coal or oil generated electricity, it’s still not as earth-friendly as it could be.© 2009 PhysOrg.comlast_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:In a hideaway for Brazil’s rich and famous, a new scandal emerges Lula’s bridge to nowhere hints at global reach of Brazil graft Brazil corruption: Ruling party heavyweight sentenced to 15 years in prison Brazilian bribe money funded Rousseff’s reelection, daily reports SAO PAULO, Brazil — It played a key role in the creative bookkeeping at the heart of the impeachment process against Brazil President Dilma Rousseff. It spearheaded the debt surge that contributed to the country’s loss of investment grade. Its biggest client has been Petrobras, the scandal-plagued state oil company.BNDES, the huge development bank owned by the Brazilian government, seems to keep turning up in the state’s deepening crisis, as does its chief, Luciano Coutinho, whose hand has been on the spigot of the subsidized lending that drove the country’s spectacular growth in its go-go years.With his formal suits, Cornell PhD and professorial air, Coutinho was admired for policies that turned a third world striver into a global powerhouse. Now he is under attack for those same practices. His fall-from-grace saga captures the scope of the spreading disaster with his once-lauded lending practices now suspected by some as one of the causes of Brazil’s meltdown.“This crisis has a lot to do with the increase in state- based intervention,” said Sergio Lazzarini, a business professor in Sao Paulo and co-author of a book about the development bank. He said the lending failed to lift the investment rate from 20 percent of GDP, half of China’s rate, data that “fly in the face of Coutinho’s original idea that expanding state support would substantially revamp investment.”Earlier this year, as the economy headed into its worst downturn in decades, opposition lawmakers hauled Coutinho in for a six-hour grilling, the air thick with disenchantment. Tell us about letting the government put off transfers to help it mask its deficit, they demanded, about the 535 billion reais ($141 billion) your bank owes the Treasury for off-budget loans, and why the biggest campaign donors tend to get the most support.Coutinho yielded no ground, replying, “The bank’s decisions are ruled by a rigorous and impersonal process without any political motivation.” He denied allegations that he had brokered a campaign donation by a building magnate and defended the deferred Treasury transfers as legal. Demonstrators protest in support of democracy and ethics in Brazilian politics and against corruption under a banner reading “Audit BNDES, BB and CEF! The money is ours!” at Liberty Square in Belo Horizonte, Brazil on March 15, 2015. Douglas Magno/AFPUnder Coutinho, BNDES evolved into the most aggressive lending tool of state intervention in a developing democracy. Its practices have long been secretive and now its books are being pried open as the Petrobras probe and other inquiries create pressure for transparency. Police visited the bank’s headquarters last month to demand details about loans for companies of a friend of ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The Supreme Court has ordered the bank to open to government auditors its financial operations with beef maker and top campaign financer JBS SA.Coutinho’s quest to create global Brazilian companies — known locally as “national champions” — is also under scrutiny. Two-thirds of BNDES lending since 2008 has been to the biggest corporations, many owned by the state or billionaire campaign donors. In the same period, the bank received 441 billion reais in Treasury loans that helped fund its balance sheet. With the intention of fueling job creation, the loans to BNDES exploited a loophole letting the government take on more debt without asking Congress.The son of a doctor from Brazil’s poor and arid northeast, Coutinho became the most powerful economist in a region where state-driven economics were emboldened by a “pink tide” of leftist leaders. Today, as sinking commodity prices force that tide to recede, he’s being reined in by an economist from the University of Chicago, Finance Minister Joaquim Levy.Levy cut back BNDES lending and is haggling over ways to shore up its fiscal accounts, including early repayment of some of the bank’s Treasury loans, which are not all due until 2060.The cost of Coutinho’s Treasury deal is piling up, says Armando Castelar, an economist at Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro, who estimates a bill of 40 billion reais a year in interest to taxpayers. That’s without counting collateral damage – the bank’s subsidized loans are undercutting the government’s attempt to keep inflation from double digits, forcing higher interest rates that, in turn, drive up interest rates for other borrowers.“Taxpayers pay a hefty price for those loans,” said Castelar, a former official at BNDES. The bank says the interest bill is a fraction of Castelar’s estimate, or is even negative if you factor in the potential tax revenue created by the investment that BNDES loans encourage. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff speaks during the 15th National Health Conference in Brasilia on Dec. 4, 2015. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s allies appealed Dec. 3 to the Supreme Court to block impeachment proceedings, warning of a political “storm” in Latin America’s biggest country. Evaristo Sa/AFPThe bank was opened in the 1950s by Getulio Vargas, the populist-turned-dictator described by Franklin D. Roosevelt as a co-inventor of the New Deal. Designed to develop industry and infrastructure, the bank played an important role in buying stakes in privatized companies in the 1990s.Coutinho was on a path to become a doctor like his father until, at 17, he caught a speech by Celso Furtado, the originator of a theory that growth, especially in the developing world, is best stimulated through government intervention. He excelled as a student, taught economics (Rousseff was his student), did a stint at the ministry of science and technology and co-founded LCA Consulting, where he oversaw the mapping of the industrial sector. He was tapped to head BNDES by then-President Lula.The bank’s 2010 equity investment in JBS, the meat company, was among its most lucrative when the stock more than doubled. But now lawmakers want to know why a successful company needed state support, and was it a coincidence that JBS is among the biggest campaign donors to the ruling party? Government auditors accused JBS of getting special treatment.A BNDES spokesman denied that and said the bank’s participation helped JBS improve its governance: it demanded more financial oversight and a crackdown on its suppliers who had been participating in deforestation and other illegal practices. JBS has said its relationship with BNDES is “clear and transparent” and its donations within the law.The congressional inquiry has looked into BNDES loans for projects abroad built by the country’s top construction conglomerates. The builders known for bankrolling political campaigns have been cited in the Petrobras probe for creating a bid-rigging cartel. And prosecutors are separately investigating whether Lula participated in influence-peddling when one of the builders sponsored his trips abroad where the firm had BNDES-backed projects. The bank and Lula have denied wrongdoing.The bank’s role in what critics call Rousseff’s creative accounting began as early as 2010, when BNDES bought Petrobras shares, funding the oil company’s purchase of government oil reserves. The operation, realized one day after the Treasury granted BNDES a loan, helped the Treasury cut its deficit.Rousseff is also accused of “fiscal pedaling” — intentionally letting the government put off payments owed to BNDES and other state banks, which, in turn, lets the government report a smaller deficit. The bank denies participating in any such scheme.Government auditors plan to intensify their scrutiny of BNDES accounts, says Augusto Nardes, a top government auditor. As he put it in an interview, “Brazilian society must be able to know where its money is ending up.”The bank’s Treasury backing has been pulled out from under it: 2015 will be the first year in a decade the Treasury lent it nothing. With Levy’s austerity crusade under way, it could be years before the bank that once lent nearly 200 billion reais a year returns to its previous stature, if ever.“We’re in a severe and complex fiscal adjustment,” said Marcelo Nascimento, the bank’s head of economic research. “The bank is trying to adjust too.”–With assistance from Sabrina Valle.© 2015, Bloomberg Facebook Commentslast_img read more

first_imgThree airlines this week announced new flights between Costa Rica and destinations in Canada, Mexico and Venezuela.Air Canada on Wednesday announced it will add a seasonal non-stop flight between Montreal and San José during the 2016-2017 winter season. Starting on Dec. 22, the airline will fly twice a week using aircraft with a capacity for 282 passengers.Currently the airline has weekly flights between Toronto and San José, Toronto and Liberia, and Montreal and Liberia.Canada is Costa Rica’s second largest source of tourists arriving by air after the U.S., Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura highlighted Wednesday.“Montreal and Toronto are the two best prospects of Canadian visitors for our country,” he said. “Our research indicates that some 12 percent of residents of these cities have a high interest in visiting or revisiting the country,” he said.Officials from the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) expect the new route to facilitate connections between Costa Rica and other Canadian cities such as Quebec, Ottawa, Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.Last year, Costa Rica 157,614 Canadians entered the country, of which 90 percent came by air.Between 2009-2014, Canadian tourists spent an average of $96 here daily and stayed an average of 15 nights, according to the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT).Mexico and VenezuelaMexican low-cost airline Volaris also announced Wednesday that was adding a third weekly flight between San José and Guadalajara and San José and Cancún. The carrier launched operations in Costa Rica in September 2015 with two weekly flights on these two routes.Earlier this week, Venezuela’s Albatros Airlines confirmed the start, on May 2, of a non-stop flight three times a week between Caracas and San José.Costa Rica is the airline’s first international destination.Albatros general manager in Costa Rica Mauricio Castro said the company chose Costa Rica mostly because of the large number of Venezuelan expats currently living here.“Costa Rica also is an excellent destination for both tourism and business,” he said. “Undoubtedly, we believe Costa Ricans also will find in Venezuela a great vacation destination.”Castro said the carrier is currently looking into opening at least two more routes in Central America. Facebook Comments Related posts:United Airlines announces more nonstop flights to Houston and New York during Christmas season JetBlue announces new flight to Costa Rica from Boston starting in November Two low-cost airlines launch operations in Costa Rica Lufthansa to fly nonstop between Costa Rica and Germanylast_img read more

first_imgIndustry Experts Talk the Future of the Housing Market in Daily Dose, News, Origination, Servicing Housing Market 2018-09-28 Seth Welborn Ed Delgado, Rick Sharga, Tim Rood, and Kevin Cooke at the panel discussion.On Wednesday, Altisource hosted the Mortgage Insights Speaker Series in Plano, TX at Del Frisco’s. At the event, industry thought leaders gave insights into the topic “U.S. Housing Market: Where Do We Go From Here?”The expert panel was moderated by Kevin Cooke, Jr., VP of Enterprise Solutions at Altisource, and included Ed Delgado, President, and CEO of the Five Star Institute; Tim Rood, Chairman and Managing Director of The Collingwood Group; and Rick Sharga, EVP, Carrington Mortgage Holdings.“We are honored to have three of the most respected voices in our space join us for this fun lunch,” Cooke said before the event. “Ed, Rick, and Tim have all proven to be entertaining, thought-provoking panelists and we are confident our guests will walk away with good knowledge and a smile on their face.”The panelists discussed the U.S. macroeconomic conditions and its state in the coming year, covering trends and predictions for the U.S. housing market in a rising rate environment.”FHA and the GSEs are continuing to be important instruments of public policy but we need to reconcile the government’s motives and methods for achieving positive outcomes for renters and homeowners,” Rood said.Through the discussion, they explored the loan servicing environment, the record low delinquency rates, and reviewed emerging warning signs. They also debated how the contentious political environment was affecting the housing industry.”Though we have seen a period of economic growth in recent years, there are leading indicators that paint a picture of an economy that is potentially slowing,” said Delgado. “Of particular concern is the growing possibility of the yield curve that continues to flatten and move towards an inverted position. An inverted yield curve is almost always a harbinger for a recession within 18-24 months. Given the cyclical nature of the market, the mortgage industry should make preparations, ensuring readiness to the fullest extent possible whenever the eventual slowdown occurs.”Additionally, panelists discussed how inventory and affordability concerns have been pulling against otherwise strong economic factors.“I think attendees got an inside look at why it’s difficult to forecast the housing market today,” said Sharga. “While a strong economy should be driving more home sales, the lack of inventory is driving up home prices, and diminishing affordability is keeping sales lower than what they probably should be. Consumer confidence is at an 18-year high, but lenders aren’t taking on any risk, and builders are reluctant to break ground on new developments, so demand–especially for affordable homes–continues to outstrip supply. And casting a shadow over all of this is the drama in Washington, where uncertainty over housing policy makes predicting the future almost impossible.”center_img September 28, 2018 737 Views Sharelast_img read more