NATO chief praises Afghan forces professionalism

first_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates “We have seen how Afghan security forces handle security incidents in a very professional manner,” he told reporters.He praised the work of Afghan forces in May in containing the Taliban’s boldest and most complex assault in years when insurgents targeted embassies, government buildings and NATO bases in near-simultaneous attacks in Kabul.“The Afghan security forces handled that situation and turned what was planned to be spectacular attacks into a spectacular failure,” Rasmussen said.Critics of the 2014 handover plan have noted that despite their numerical superiority and overwhelming advantages in equipment and firepower, Western troops and the Afghan security forces have not been able to defeat the insurgency during the 10-year conflict, and the that Taliban still perceive themselves as winning the war.Rasmussen is in Australia to sign an agreement to continue Australian military cooperation with NATO after the Afghanistan mission, working together against common threats of terrorism, piracy and cyberattack.Australia has 1,550 troops in Afghanistan and is the biggest military contributor to the U.S.-led force there outside NATO.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Check your body, save your lifecenter_img Associated PressCANBERRA, Australia (AP) – NATO’s chief says the professionalism of Afghan security forces and their recent suppression of Taliban attacks in Kabul gave him confidence they will be ready to handle their nation’s security by 2014.NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday that Afghan forces are already leading 40 percent of security operations in Afghanistan ahead of the planned withdrawal of most international combat troops by the end of 2014. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Sponsored Stories Top Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathslast_img read more

Canada remembers Dieppe raid 70 years after

first_img Comments   Share   Steven Blaney, Canada’s veterans’ affairs minister, led commemoration ceremonies in Dieppe on Sunday.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Check your body, save your life Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories The difference between men and women when it comes to paincenter_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day PARIS (AP) – Canadian veterans of a doomed World War II invasion that pre-dated the D-Day landings by almost two years were among a delegation that traveled to France to commemorate their fallen and captured comrades on the battle’s 70th anniversary.The Dieppe Raid of 1942 is remembered as one of the darkest chapters in Canada’s military history. A 6,000-man force made up mainly of Canadians made an amphibious assault on Dieppe only to be repelled by the occupying Germans’ superior firepower. Of the nearly 5,000 Canadians who took part, 913 were killed and almost 2,000 were taken prisoner, most of whom remained in POW camps for the remainder of the war. Sponsored Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

EU detractors slam Nobel Peace Prize decision

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Associated PressLONDON (AP) – While some Europeans swelled with pride when the European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize, howls of derision erupted from the continent’s large band of skeptics.To many in the 27-nation bloc, the EU is an unwieldy and unloved agglomeration overseen by a top-heavy bureaucracy devoted to creating arcane regulations about everything from cheese to fishing quotas. Set up with noble goals after the devastation of World War II, the EU to critics now appears impotent amid a debt crisis that has widened north-south divisions, threatened the euro currency and plunged several members, from Greece to Ireland to Spain, into economic turmoil. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Conservative lawmaker and former foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind, whose party is deeply divided on Britain’s role in the EU, probably spoke for many Britons when he called the decision slightly eccentric.“If they want to give the prize for preserving the peace in Europe, they should divide it between NATO and the EU,” he said. “Until the end of the Cold War, it was NATO more than anyone else that kept the peace.”Others praised the union’s role in reuniting post-Communist Europe but pointed out its failures _ including the inability to halt the bloody Balkan wars that raged just outside the EU’s borders during the 1990s.And Nicolas Beger, director of Amnesty International’s Brussels-based EU office, said the union was neglecting its duty to the rest of the world.“The EU doesn’t even take remotely its fair share of the refugees of the world,” he said. “It closes its borders, it pushes people back into countries where they are being tortured, it lets them drown.”WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?Some Europeans wondered whether all of the EU’s 500 million residents could claim a share of the glory _ and the $1.2 million prize money. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, said the Nobel committee has to “come down from their ivory tower and see what is going on on the ground. They should measure the suffering of the people and see the growing revolt.”ANGER ON THE STREETSIn hard-hit countries such as Greece and Spain, where the European debt crisis has sparked severe hardship, unemployment and violent protests, the prize was met with disbelief.“The peace prize? The way things are going, what will happen in the immediate future? Peace is the one thing we might not have,” said Giorgos Dertilis, an insurance company worker in Athens.THE SOUND OF ONE HAND CLAPPINGBritain, which has been an EU member since the 1970s but likes to keep an English Channel-wide distance between itself and the union, gave a muted reaction. Prime Minister David Cameron’s office had no comment _ a safe policy for the leader of a Conservative Party deeply divided between pro- and anti-EU camps.The Foreign Office noted, tersely, that the award “recognizes the EU’s historic role in promoting peace and reconciliation in Europe,” and said the body “must always strive to preserve and strengthen those achievements.”center_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix “I’ve just won the Nobel Peace Prize? How exciting,” tweeted CNN’s British talk show host Piers Morgan.“As a member of the EU, I am delighted to accept the Nobel Peace Prize,” British playwright Dan Rebellato joked on Twitter. “I shall keep it in the spare room, in case people want to look at it.”BBC business correspondent Robert Peston wondered whether everyone in the EU would get a share of the prize money, which works out to about a quarter of a cent per person.“What will you spend yours on?” he asked followers on Twitter.___Jill Lawless can be reached at WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?The vocal anti-EU politicians known as euroskeptics burst into a chorus of disdain.“First Al Gore, then Obama, now this. Parody is redundant,” tweeted Daniel Hannan, a euroskeptic European lawmaker _ yes, such things exist _ from Britain’s Conservative Party. President Barack Obama won the peace prize in 2009, less than a year after he was elected, while Gore, a former U.S. vice president, was the 2007 recipient for his campaign to fight climate change.Nigel Farage, head of the U.K. Independence Party _ which wants Britain to withdraw from the union _ called Friday’s peace prize “an absolute disgrace.”“Haven’t they had their eyes open?” he said, arguing that Europe was facing “increasing violence and division,” with mass protests from Madrid to Athens over tax hikes and job cuts and growing resentment of Germany, the union’s rich and powerful economic anchor.Dutch populist lawmaker Geert Wilders scoffed: “Nobel prize for the EU. At a time (when) Brussels and all of Europe is collapsing in misery. What next?”In France, euroskeptics assailed the prize from the far left _ where critics see the euro and the EU as capitalist tools _ to the anti-immigrant far right. Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Quick workouts for men How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img read more

East Jerusalem streets get names easing confusion

first_img 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center East Jerusalem is not alone in having unnamed streets. In fast-growing places in the Gulf like Dubai or Doha, streets in newer areas do not have names, while Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, has many roads that are not even paved, much less named.In Israel’s neighbor Jordan, while streets have long had names, only recently have houses been given numbers. The kingdom caused confusion by changing many street names to make them more compatible with the new numbering system.Even so, the situation in Jerusalem stands out because of the contrasts between the two sides of the city.The predominantly Jewish west has gleaming malls and leafy residential neighborhoods. Residents can be seen sipping cappuccinos on quaint cafe patios, and flowers line the streets. All streets and even the smallest of public squares have names on signs written in Hebrew, English and Arabic.In east Jerusalem, many roads are narrow and potholed, there are few sidewalks and garbage is piled up on street corners. Residents have for years complained of neglect, saying they lack public services such as clinics and schools, even while paying local taxes.Though there are slums in west Jerusalem and upscale neighborhoods in the eastern sector, most parts follow that pattern. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day “Many times I get a call to pick someone up and I just can’t find him,” said al-Risheq, who lives in the Shuafat neighborhood of east Jerusalem. His own street, like so many others, has no name.Without names for the labyrinthine streets in the area, residents have had to improvise, using landmarks as reference points. When ordering a pizza, a delivery man is directed to the first left after the mosque, or right before the local school.More seriously, an ambulance driver who isn’t familiar with the neighborhood would be hard pressed to find an ailing patient.With no street addresses to guide them, letters are often sent to a central place, like a store or mosque, and don’t always reach their intended recipient. Official letters and bills remain uncollected, sometimes causing mounting debts completely unknown to the individual.“It’s like uncharted territory,” said Nisreen Alyan, a lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which lobbied to address the confusion. In a symbol of the disorder, even the number of streets that remain to be named is disputed and may be anywhere from 150 to several hundred.Recognizing the problem, Jerusalem’s municipality has named 145 streets since last year, and the rest are expected to be identified by next year. House numbers are set to come later. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories Top Stories Comments   Share   center_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Israel claims the whole city as its capital.Jerusalem’s mayor has always been Jewish, partly because most east Jerusalem residents boycott elections, and east Jerusalem has little representation in city bodies.Jerusalem’s current mayor, Nir Barkat, is staging street naming ceremonies with much fanfare. Earlier this month, he dedicated Umm Kalthoum street, named after the famous Egyptian singer, and a performer warbled love songs as residents clapped their hands.Barkat has said the aim is to “improve the quality of life” for the residents of east Jerusalem. But some residents have responded by vandalizing the new street signs, an indication of the mistrust that many feel toward the city’s Jewish politicians.The names are proposed by the communities and then must be approved by a municipal committee. The choices include the ordinary like “Orchard Street,” along with famed Arab historical figures and the names of clans settled in the neighborhoods.Meir Margalit, a liberal city council member who is often critical of the municipality’s policies, said the residents believe the naming committee will reject suggestions that seem too political, so they refrain from offering them. Contact between Jews and Arabs, common in the first two decades after Israel captured east Jerusalem, came to a virtual halt with the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising in 1987 and has never recovered.Few Arab residents of east Jerusalem have accepted Israel’s offer of citizenship. Instead, they hold residency rights while identifying with their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank.The result is a city that remains interconnected, yet deeply divided. There are no walls separating the two areas, they are linked by a common public transportation system and residents can freely travel anywhere in the city.Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and then annexed it _ a move the international community has not recognized. Some 300,000 Palestinians, live in the east Jerusalem alongside 200,000 Jews in developments built since 1967. About 300,000 Jews live in west Jerusalem.The fate of the eastern sector is one of the most explosive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. East Jerusalem is home to the Old City, where the city’s most sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites are located. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for state, which would also comprise the neighboring West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Margalit said the new names have also had some undesirable consequences: Some residents have complained they are receiving heaps of old bills, now that they live on streets that can be found.Darwish Musa Darwish, the community leader of the east Jerusalem Issawiyeh neighborhood, said most residents are pleased with the clarity brought by the new names. He acknowledged much work remains to be done in east Jerusalem, but “if I have an address and a street name, it’s a sort of progress.”Larger problems remain.“The municipality doesn’t provide us with services,” complained Hamoudeh Siam, who owns a shop in the Silwan neighborhood. “Instead of naming the streets, let them come clean them.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Associated PressJERUSALEM (AP) – When he drives around east Jerusalem, taxi driver Samer al-Risheq doesn’t use GPS and tucks away his maps. In many parts on this side of the city, those tools are useless: The streets have no names.It’s a sign of overall neglect. Now Jerusalem’s municipality is trying to at least solve the part that involves signs.In contrast to the orderly western half of the city, where Jews live, the often rundown, predominantly Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem have for decades existed without street names or house numbers, causing confusion. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Argentine antigovernment protesters flood streets

first_img Comments   Share   Top Stories In Rome, about 50 protesters, all Argentine expats, held a noisy protest outside the consulate on Via Veneto, one of the city’s landmark streets. Among the slogans being shouted was “Cristina, go away.”About 200 demonstrators braved rain in Madrid to bang pots outside the Argentine consulate.“In Argentina, there’s no separation of power and it cannot be considered a democracy,” said Marcelo Gimenez, a 40-year-old from Buenos Aires who has been living in Spain for two years. “Cristina is not respecting the constitution. The presidency is not a blank check and she must govern for those who are for her and against her.”The protests hold deep symbolism for Argentines, who recall the country’s economic debacle of a decade ago. The “throw them all out” chants of that era’s pot-banging marches forced presidents from office and left Argentina practically ungovernable until Fernandez’s late husband, Nestor Kirchner, assumed the presidency in 2003.“We came here because we don’t want Cristina,” said Shirley Brener, a 12-year-old student who protested in Buenos Aires with her mother, Monica, a 48-year-old school director. Top holiday drink recipes 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Polls suggest neither side has a firm grip on Argentines’ sympathies.Fernandez easily won re-election just a year ago with 54 percent of the vote but saw her approval rating fall to 31 percent in a nationwide survey in September by the firm Management & Fit. The poll of 2,259 people, which had an error margin of about two percentage points, also said 65 percent of respondents disapproved of her opponents’ performance.Crime is the biggest concern for many of her critics.Newspapers and television programs provide a daily diet of stories about increasingly bold home invasion robberies, in which armed bands tie up families until victims hand over the cash that many Argentines have kept at home since the government froze savings accounts and devalued the currency in 2002. The vast majority of the crimes are never solved, while the death toll is rising.Inflation also upsets many. The government’s much-criticized index puts inflation at about 10 percent annually, but private economists say prices are rising about three times faster than that. Real estate transactions have slowed to a standstill because of the difficulty in estimating future values, and unions that won 25 percent pay hikes only a few months ago are threatening to strike again unless the government comes up with more. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Associated PressBUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Angry over inflation, crime and corruption, hundreds of thousands of Argentines of all ages flooded the capital’s streets for nearly four hours to protest against President Cristina Fernandez in Argentina’s biggest anti-government demonstration in years.In a Thursday night march organized on social media, demonstrators filled the Plaza de Mayo in front of the pink presidential palace and also crowded around the city’s iconic obelisk chanting: “We’re not afraid.”center_img The president’s supporters paid little attention to two earlier protests this year, but when it became clear the latest effort could turn out big numbers, her loyalists spoke out in her defense. They dismissed the protesters as being part of the wealthy elite or beholden to discredited opposition parties.Fernandez didn’t directly refer to the protest in a speech Thursday, but she defended her and her late husband’s policies, saying they helped rescue Argentina from its worst economic crisis a decade ago and buoyed it during the 2009 world financial downturn.“During boom times it’s easy to run a country but try running it when it’s crumbling down,” Fernandez said while urging Argentines to support her and pledging never to give up as her late husband taught her.“Never let go, not even in the worst moments,” she said. “Because it’s in the worst moments when the true colors of a leader of a country come out.”Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri, a member of the opposition and a fervent Fernandez critic, praised the big protest via Twitter. “People are being heard nationwide joined by a single flag,” he said. Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project The phrase “Cristina or nothing” was stenciled on buildings surrounding the Plaza de Mayo.Demonstrators held up signs accusing the president of arrogance. While some featured a lengthy list of demands, others simply said “basta” _ enough.___Associated Press writers Michael Warren, Almudena Calatrava and Emily Schmall in Buenos Aires; Frances D’Emilio in Rome; Jorge Sainz in Madrid; and Luis Andres Henao in Santiago, Chile, contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Protesters stayed peaceful, and the outpouring had the air of a family affair. Toddlers in strollers and grandparents in wheelchairs joined in the masses that marched through downtown Buenos Aires until nearly midnight.People banged on pots, whistled and waved the Argentine flag. They held banners that read: “Stop the wave of Argentines killed by crime, enough with corruption and say no to the constitutional reform.”Fernandez’s critics are angry over the country’s high inflation, violent crime and high-profile corruption, and many worry that the president will try to hold onto power by ending constitutional term limits.“I came to protest everything that I don’t like about this government and I don’t like a single thing starting with (the president’s) arrogance,” said Marta Morosini, a 74-year-old retiree. “They’re killing policemen like dogs, and the president doesn’t even open her mouth. This government is just a bunch of hooligans and corrupters.”A spokesman for Buenos Aires’ Justice and Security Ministry estimated the demonstrators in the capital at 700,000 people. Other demonstrations were held on plazas across Argentina, including in major cities such as Cordoba, Mendoza and La Plata, while protesters massed outside Argentine embassies and consulates from Chile to Australia.last_img read more

Attacks on Ivorian military kill 1 in Abidjan

first_imgABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) – Authorities in Ivory Coast say at least one person is dead after two simultaneous attacks on Ivorian security forces.Cherif Moussa, chief of communications for the army, said Friday that the attacks took place overnight in the commercial capital of Abidjan.The United Nations said it “firmly condemns” the latest violence against members of the Ivorian armed forces.In a statement, the U.N. special representative, Bert Koenders, said he “deplores these violent acts which were carried out at a time when the political situation was becoming more hopeful.” President Alassane Ouattara’s government alleges that fighters who support former President Laurent Gbagbo are behind recent attacks on military positions in the West African nation.Since early August, more than a dozen such attacks have been carried out throughout the country.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Four benefits of having a wireless security systemcenter_img 0 Comments   Share   Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Top Stories last_img read more

Egypt confiscates missiles smuggled from Libya

first_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.Lawlessness has been rife in Sinai since the ouster of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. Weapons have flowed from Libya into the peninsula, where Islamist militants have grown in strength.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectcenter_img CAIRO (AP) – An Egyptian security official says authorities have confiscated two pick-up trucks carrying 60 anti-tank missiles smuggled across the border from Libya.The official says two truck drivers were arrested and the weapons seized just south of Cairo on Wednesday morning.The two were heading from Marsa Matrouh, 430 kilometers (270 miles) northwest of the capital on the Mediterranean Coast, to the largely lawless Sinai Peninsula where weapons are regularly smuggled to Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip through underground tunnels. Comments   Share   5 ways to recognize low testosterone Top Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairylast_img read more

Blackouts hit most of 8 states in northeast Brazil

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility It said in a statement that a fire in a rural part of Piaui state caused several transmission lines to go down, eventually leading to the northeastern region being disconnected from the national grid. The statement didn’t provide details on exactly how the fire caused the disruption or how the fire began.The Brazilian government’s electricity regulator, Aneel, said early reports indicated nearly all parts of the eight states were affected, which would mean tens of millions of consumers were involved. The power supply was reduced to just 10 percent of its normal level overall.Officials were focusing on restoring the power before they turned their attention to figuring out the cause, an Aneel spokesman said on condition of anonymity, saying he wasn’t yet authorized to discuss the situation.Power outages used to be more frequent in Brazil and energy rationing was imposed for a time a decade ago. Improvements in infrastructure have been made in the energy sector, but major power outages still happen a few times a year.Hydroelectric plants account for about 80 percent of the electricity generated in Brazil.Earlier this year, reservoirs levels at hydroelectric dams in most of the country dropped to a third of their capacity because of a lack of rainfall. The levels were similar to those registered in 2001, when rationing was imposed and blackouts occurred with frequency. Top Stories Most regions have bounced back, but the reservoir levels in the northeast, in the midst of a severe drought, remain at just 38 percent of capacity, the worst region in Brazil.The government has said that Brazil will not resort again to energy rationing because the country has thermal power plants that can be activated.Brazil has an installed power generating capacity 121,000 megawatts, which the government says will be doubled over the next 10 years.___Associated Press writer Marco Sibaja in Brasilia contributed to this report.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – A widespread power outage hit at least eight states in northeastern Brazil on Wednesday, including four cities that will host matches during football’s World Cup next year, authorities said.About two hours after the outage, power was restored to all the state capitals, but smaller cities in the affected area were still without energy, according to the Electric Energy System Operator, which oversees power generation, transmission and distribution. Men’s health affects baby’s health too Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairylast_img read more

French budget tries to turn page but growth weak

first_imgThe slow approach is typical of Francois Hollande’s tenure. The French president is famous for trying not to be famous. His most notable domestic policy so far, the creation of a 75 percent tax for millionaires, was rejected by a court and amended and reduced to the point that it lost much of its shock value. It was written into the new budget as a 50 percent tax paid by employers on all remuneration above 1 million euros.The delays in reforms have drawn a critical eye from the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, and Germany, which led the push for austerity in Europe. While the Commission has softened its stance somewhat _ notably giving France more time to reduce its deficit _ the re-election of German Chancellor Angela Merkel this weekend was an endorsement of her tough line.But the new budget is also coming under fire in some quarters for cutting too much since lower spending will hurt growth in the short term, just as the country is emerging from recession and with unemployment at 11 percent.The economy grew 0.5 percent in the second quarter after contracting for two quarters. The figure, which could be revised as early as Friday, was stronger than expected, but experts warn it may have overstated the country’s economic health. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories PARIS (AP) – The French government has declared the economic crisis over and is promising its new budget will bring growth and jobs. But experts are criticizing the proposals, saying they could derail the nascent recovery.In a budget unveiled Wednesday, the government said it would cut the deficit by nearly 18 billion euros ($24 billion), 14.8 billion euros of which will come from spending cuts, the rest from taxes. The bill budgets 379.9 billion euros in spending for 2014. Comments   Share   Eric Heyer, an economist with the French Observatory for Economic Forecasts, says the economy remains in trouble and so spending cuts are still not advisable.He estimates that spending cuts and tax increases _ both in France and around Europe _ will shave 1.3 percent off France’s economic growth next year. Still, the observatory’s forecast is among the most positive at a 1.3 percent increase in GDP. The consensus is somewhere just below 1 percent; the French government built its budget around a 0.9 percent estimate.Heyer cautions that a return to growth doesn’t mean France is rebounding.“We can’t talk about a recovery as long as economic growth is around 1 percent,” he said. “Since today, we produce less than five years ago, we are still in recession. That’s the real definition of a recession.”“The real rebound will be when we have a production level well above 2007 and when the economy has started to create jobs again. That’s not in the government’s scenario.”Jacob Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, notes France has escaped the financial crisis without the explosions of unemployment and deep recessions seen in Southern Europe. But that also means it no longer has the motivation to make the real, deep reforms it also avoided. The vital role family plays in society Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The government has promised the measures will re-energize the economy by reducing the money spent on retirement and health benefits and by offering companies a tax credit if they hire. But taxpayers are grumbling about even the modest tax increase, and economists are split on the merits of cutting spending now, when the recovery is still weak.“Purchasing power is our preoccupation,” Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici told French television on the eve of the budget unveiling, calling it a budget for growth and employment.Much of the criticism of the budget, however, was that it is in fact likely to hurt household spending.Though the government argues the budget provides relief for lower income households, economists note that the tax credit meant to boost hiring at companies is being paid for largely by a hike to the sales tax. That directly takes money out of the pockets of shoppers of all incomes.In terms of reducing the deficit, the budget is part of Paris’ belated effort to fall in line with the rest of Europe’s focus on cutting state spending. When counting items not included in the budget, France’s public spending accounts for a stunning 57 percent of the country’s 2 trillion-euro ($2.7 trillion) gross domestic product. Top Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology “There’s never going to be a hard landing. … It’s going to be a gradual underperformance,” not only compared with Germany but also with traditionally weaker countries like Spain and Italy, he said.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your homelast_img read more

Argentine Congress considers making street harassment crime

first_img“They shouted these things at me for an entire month,” the 20-year-old university student said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I couldn’t walk out of my house in peace.”Frustrated by something all too common in this South American country of 41 million, Rizzo in April posted a video on YouTube about her experience. She argued that verbal assaults could lead to physical abuse.The video, seen by half a million people, touched a nerve, turning Rizzo’s campaign into a cause celebre and prompting lawmakers to draft legislation that would make such street harassment a crime. A vote is expected within a few months.The moves come amid a national campaign protesting physical attacks against women. Tens of thousands of Argentines took to the streets last week in a march dubbed “ni una menos,” meaning not one more woman lost to gender violence.There are many contradictions in Argentina when it comes to gender equality. Women have equal rights under the law and there are more women than men enrolled in college. The country’s most powerful person is a woman — President Cristina Fernandez. But the macho culture of many Latin American countries is pervasive here as well. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day In this May 18, 2015 photo, Aixa Rizzo poses for a picture in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Legislators in Argentina are proposing an anti-catcalling law that could make the practice punishable with a fine. The recently proposed project was sparked by Rizzo, who posted a video online recounting her experience of verbal harassment at the hands of strangers. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) Top Stories Concern has been growing about increased violence against women, including a rise in reported cases of domestic abuse.In 2010, the Supreme Court created the Office of Domestic Violence to receive and evaluate claims of abuse. The first year, the office dealt with 7,437 cases. By 2014, the number had risen to 10,573, a 42 percent increase.There has also been a growth in the number of women killed in violent acts nationwide as well, according to Meeting House, an organization that works with battered women. It says that 277 women were killed violently last year, including in cases of rape and kidnapping, up from 208 in 2008, when it began to compile statistics.Other countries in the region have considered similar bans on lewd comments.Under a law passed in Peru in March, women can report street harassment and a judge then evaluates the claim and decides on a possible jail sentence.A catalyst for that legislation was an incident last year that scandalized the country. Peruvian singer and actress Magaly Solier claimed that a man masturbated behind her on a busy bus in Lima. The man was identified and Solier filed a police report. But a judge decided against pursuing charges, saying that because there was no physical contact, the complaint didn’t belong in court. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — When she left her house each day, Aixa Rizzo would brace for a barrage of sexually laden comments from male electricians working on a project in her neighborhood.It started with under-the-breath remarks, applause and whistles, but over several weeks developed into vulgarities about her body and chants about sexual fantasies. One day, three of the men followed her, prompting Rizzo to turn around and shower them with pepper spray. The men swore at her and told her she was crazy, but they ultimately walked away. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img Four benefits of having a wireless security system Many men, from taxi drivers to construction workers to white collar workers, frequently whistle or say things when women walk by.“Lewd comments are just the tip of the iceberg that manifests itself in domestic violence,” said opposition congresswoman Victoria Donda, who has put forward legislation making such verbal taunts a crime.Under Donda’s bill, which includes funds to raise awareness about abuse in schools and workplaces, women could report sexual harassment in public places.A judge would then review the complaint, interview any witnesses, and decide whether a fine should be levied.The law is aimed at combatting aggressive sexual comments, not compliments about nice hair or clothes.However, Orlando Britez, a 23-year-old construction worker, worries that men could be punished if women interpret their comments as too aggressive.“It means I would have to hold it in, and not say what I really want to” when women pass by, Britez said from a Buenos Aires worksite.“If we say nice things, what’s wrong with that?” asked fellow construction worker Elio Borlio. “Things like, ‘Look at how beautiful you are.’”The bill appears to have wide support, including among ruling party lawmakers, and two similar proposals are being considered by the municipality of Buenos Aires, the country’s capital and largest city. 0 Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories In her video, Rizzo tells a similar story. After the pepper spray incident, she tried to file a police report, but was told the men couldn’t be charged because they never touched her.In a Facebook forum called “Action/Respect,” women share stories of men jeering, hissing and calling out to them.One woman recently wrote that men would shout at her even though she was six months pregnant.Beyond the potential for harm, many women say the harassment is simply infuriating.“If they say, ‘Nice smile,’ I laugh and just continue walking,” said Susana Godoy, a 20-year-old university student in Buenos Aires. “But I hate it when they say, ‘Hey, baby,’ and other gross stuff.”___Associated Press video journalist Paul Byrne contributed to this report.___The story has been corrected to note that the rise in domestic violence complaints is 42 percent, not 18 percent.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

Government announces travel tender agreements

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> The Federal Department of Finance has announced the successful tenderers under its new Whole of Government travel procurement arrangement, which is expected to garner $160m in savings over four years. There were three separate tenders – one for domestic airlines, one for international airlines and one for travel management services.Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said the new contractual arrangements will take effect from 1 July 2010.The successful domestic airlines are Regional Express, Jetstar, Virgin Blue and Qantas. While 13 international carriers were awarded an International Air Services contract by the Australian Federal Government: Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Jetstar, Pacific Blue, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and V Australia.Commenting on the tender, James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ CEO, said: “To be chosen as an international airline partner for the Australian Government is a great honour for Etihad Airways and demonstrates the high regard and reputation the airline has in Australia. “We are pleased to have met all the requirements in this very thorough tender process and look forward to working with the Government departments to support their travel around the world with Etihad Airways.”The successful TMCs appointed were American Express, Carlson Wagonlit, Flight Centre’s FcM Travel, HRG and QBT.Minister Tanner said the government tender would lead to significant cost reductions and a step towards positive ‘behavioural changes.’Under the new arrangement, government officials will no longer be able to accumulate frequent flyer and loyalty reward points for business related travel. A number of other cost cutting measures are expected to be enforced after a feasibility study on the whole of government approach to travel cards, hire cars and accommodation is completed. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img read more

No deal investment firm denies Club Med bid

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A The BMB Group, an investment and advisory firm, has denied claims that it will make a bid on Paris listed Club Med, a move which will value the company at €800 million. “The BMB Group has not been in discussions with any executive or shareholder of Club Med as implied by the Sunday Times article,” BMB Group spokesperson Harold Alby said.“We have interest in the hospitality sector and are presently working on a number of acquisitions,” Mr Alby added.The Sunday Times reported that BMB Group had the support of three of Club Med’s four major shareholders in its alleged offer for the company.The speculation followed an announcement that BMB Group aims to boost its real estate assets after acquiring two real estate companies in Europe in the space of a couple of months. <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

Inbound tourism able to ride on greenback ATEC

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.C ATEC believes inbound tourism can withstand Aussie dollar parity with the greenback The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) is confident that Australia’s inbound tourism industry won’t fall apart if the Aussie dollar remains at or around parity with the US dollar. ATEC managing director, Matt Hingerty said that while the industry appreciated the concern of economic commentators, the inbound sector, for the most part, was performing well relative to last year. “We have seen good growth coming out of the GFC, with a strong 5.6 per cent increase in inbound travellers in August,” he said. The strength of the Aussie dollar was being offset by reduced airfares into the country, strong growth out of China, strong growth in the corporate market and good marketing campaigns from Tourism Australia and state bodies, Mr Hingerty said. “However if the dollar remains historically high over the long term, it will impact us, and members report that the horizon beyond Christmas is less clear.” The backpacker market was the most heavily affected by the relatively weak purchasing power of the greenback. “The downturn in the backpacker market is largely due to other factors and Australia is receiving relatively fewer backpackers from the United States.  Where the dollar may impact us, again in the longer term, is in the important student market, which is already suffering a downturn for other reasons,” Mr Hingerty said. However, the more pressing concern to the tourism industry and its large constituent of small businesses was interest rates, with high mortgage rates due to dampen demand in the domestic market and increase debt costs. The Aussie dollar stood bought a tad over 98.5 US cents as at 4.30pm, Monday 18 October, according to The Aussie dollar hit parity with the greenback on Friday last week – the first time since the currency floated freely on 8 December 1983. Charts suggest the Aussie dollar could rise as high as USD$1.0236 in coming weeks, Reuters reported.last_img read more

Aussies paying more for airfares

first_imgDespite domestic travel losing steam, Aussie travellers were paying seven percent more for airfares during the second quarter of 2011 compared to the cost of fares during the same period last year.An American Express Business Travel Monitor report fond that domestic ticket prices have increased by up to 12 percent for the second quarter of the year compared to first quarter of 2011 and pins the increase to oil prices and the high demand for business travel.“Businesses in Australia and across Asia are looking to expand and to compete in new markets regionally and around the world, and as a result they are looking to travel more,” American Express head of advisory services Dr Carl Jones explained. “In fact, we’re seeing double-digit increases in travel spending and frequencies among some of our clients in the region.”Dr Jones added that although major Australian airlines are competing “vigorously” to attract business travel spending, they are not doing it by competing on the pricing ground but rather on the services they provide.Earlier this week Qantas announced the launch of a new five-year plan that would help the carrier return to profit on its international services.As part of the adjustments the airline said it would spend up to $400 million on new Business Lounges in Los Angeles, Singapore and Hong Kong. Meanwhile Virgin Australia also unveiled new services targeting business travellers, with its new Capital Connect shuttle services.Dr Jones added that although business travellers are not flying Tiger Airways, the carrier’s recent grounding due to safety concerns, has played a role in the cost of airfares.According to the company’s head, domestic and international travellers can expect to see a further rise in tickets over the third quarter of this year.“Certainly, Australians are looking to take advantage of the relatively strong dollar, which increases demand,” Dr Jones said.“However, another contributor to higher fares to the Americas is Qantas’ decision to close San Francisco as a hub. “This has pushed demand up significantly on demand on routes from Australia to Los Angeles and that is feeding into higher prices overall.”Tickets to the US have rebounded to 2007 levels, according to the report, high three percent for the second quarter and four percent over last year. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Sydney welcomes newly refurbished Regent Seven Seas Voyager

first_imgSeven Seas Voyager entering Sydney Harbour before sunrise on the morning of 12th January 2017Sydney welcomes newly refurbished Regent Seven Seas VoyagerToday marks the return of Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC) to Sydney’s harbour with the newly refurbished Seven Seas Voyager, commencing her 14-night Sydney to Auckland sailing, taking in breathtaking ports including Burnie, Rotorua and Bay of Islands along the way. She will then embark on a 25-night sailing from Auckland to Singapore.Seven Seas Voyager underwent a massive 25-day refurbishment as part of the brand’s US$125 million fleet-wide refurbishment programme in late 2016. Along with the recently refurbished Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Voyager now boasts the same elegant style and indisputable attention to detail famously featured on Seven Seas Explorer, providing all RSSC ships with a consistent look-and-feel.Deepening the brand’s commitment to the Australia and New Zealand region, the also newly refurbished Seven Seas Navigator will soon follow Seven Seas Voyager visiting local shores in February and March 2017.Celebrating a 25-year legacy of providing exquisite service on board the most luxurious fleet in the world and a first year of successful operations of its local contact centre, RSSC is set to announce exclusive offers on selected cruises as part of its 25th anniversary in 2017.For more specific itinerary details or for general information about Regent Seven Seas Cruises, email , call Australia: 1300 455 200, New Zealand: 0800 625 692, or contact a professional travel agent.About Regent Seven Seas CruisesRegent Seven Seas Cruises is the world’s most inclusive luxury cruise line with a four-ship fleet that visits more than 375 destinations around the globe.  The line’s newest ship, Seven Seas Explorer, entered service on 20 July, 2016 and has been recognised as The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built™. A leader in the luxury cruise segment, the line’s fares include all-suite accommodation, highly personalised service, exquisite cuisine, fine wines and spirits, unlimited internet access, sightseeing excursions in every port, gratuities, a 1 night pre-cruise hotel package and transfer from hotel to ship for guests staying in concierge level suites and higher.Source = Regent Seven Seas Cruiseslast_img read more

ATF 2018 TRAVEX opens with promise to deliver Boundless Prosperity

first_imgSource = Tourism Authority of Thailand ATF 2018 TRAVEX opens with promise to deliver Boundless ProsperityTRAVEX 2018 officially opened for business today under the ATF 2018 theme of ‘Sustainable Connectivity, Boundless Prosperity’ with Mr. Kalin Sarasin, Chairman of the Board of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), and Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor, presiding over the ceremony.An auspicious ribbon cutting ceremony attended by Thai tourism industry leaders and VIPs welcomed buyers and sellers to the TRAVEX floor. The two-day event showcases ASEAN’s premier travel marketplace as the region is poised to receive a record number of arrivals during 2018.The Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre quickly becomes a hive of activity after the opening ceremony with buyers and sellers getting down to business on day one.last_img read more

Travel representatives unite against human trafficking at UN Forum on Business and

first_imgRepresentatives from across the travel and tourism industry came together at the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva to call for collaborative actions to end human trafficking, forced labour and the sexual exploitation of children and share their initiatives that tackle key challenges associated with human rights issues. The United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights was the first time the sector has gathered to discuss possible solutions to these shared challenges before a United Nations audience.  The travel and tourism industry has rapidly expanded in recent years, with international tourist arrivals increasing from 528 million in 2005 to 1,323 million in 2017. At the meeting, experts from non-profit organisations stood shoulder to shoulder with senior leaders from global travel and tourism companies, united in their shared commitment to tackling these crimes which have a direct impact on the tourism industry. Madhu Rajesh, Director of ITP said, “ITP convenes the world’s leading hotel groups for collaborative action on these critical human rights issues, and in doing so we create practical tools and programmes that help the hotel industry as a whole move further and faster than they can be working individually. For example, we’ve united our membership around support for ITP’s Principles on Forced Labour, and encourage their adoption by the wider industry. Through our work, we aim to convene key stakeholders from the public and private sector and encourage cross-sector collaboration on this vital issue.” “As the reach of global tourism expands, so too do opportunities for those who travel to harm children by sexually exploiting them,” said Theo Noten, Programme Manager, ECPAT Netherlands. “The travel and tourism industry have a key role to play in keeping children safe. Together with business leaders, especially from the travel industry, we call upon the private sector and governments to protect children and meet the commitments made to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. No child should be left behind!”Helen Marano, Executive Vice-President, External Affairs, WTTC said, “As a global Council which represents all of the segments of the Travel & Tourism sector, we are proud to be leading the path forward for the broader industry’s commitment to the intolerance of all aspects of human trafficking. We will highlight the key efforts being conducted by members of our Council as a way for others to commit, engage and strengthen the ability of Travel and Tourism to tackle this challenge and eradicate child sexual exploitation.”last_img read more

Renters Owning a Home Top Priority

first_imgRenters: Owning a Home Top Priority in Data, Government, Origination, Servicing The “”National Association of Realtors””: (NAR) released a survey Wednesday showing strong support for the belief that homeownership is a credible and worthy goal, with 72 percent of renters surveyed agreeing that owning a home remains a top priority.[IMAGE]The 2011 National Housing Pulse Survey signaled a 72 percent thrust among renters who want to own a home, a marked improvement from 63 percent last year. According to the survey, seven in 10 Americans put a high premium on affordable housing issues, with more than three-quarters saying that a 20 percent down payment would turn them away from a home purchase.””Despite the economic setbacks Americans have experienced in today’s current climate, it is clear that a strong majority still believe in homeownership [sic] and aspire to own a home,”” Ron Phipps, “”NAR””: president, said in a statement. “”However, achieving the dream of homeownership [sic] will become increasingly difficult for buyers if they are required to make a 20 percent down payment, which may be a reality for many of tomorrow’s buyers if a proposed Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) rule is adopted. That is why [realtors] are strongly urging regulators to go back to the drawing board on the proposed rule.””[COLUMN_BREAK]Attached to the Dodd-Frank Act, the proposed QRM rule continues to raise concerns among industry leaders and members of Congress, many of whom fear a 20 percent increase in down payments nationally. The “”NAR””: said that borrowers would need to postpone homeownership for nine to 14 years in order to save for the down payment alone. Regulatory authorities such as the “”Federal Reserve””:, “”FDIC””:, and “”HUD””: continue to receive public commentary as public officials debate whether to implement the rule, which passed with Dodd-Frank on the premise that issuers should retain at least 5 percent of the risk from mortgage-backed securities they package and sell.According to the survey, 51 percent of self-described working class homeowners, together with 51 percent of college graduates, 57 percent of African-Americans, and 50 percent of Hispanic Americans, all beheld the potential 20 percent down payment as one that would have kept them from owning their own homes.According to “”NAR””:, past pulse surveys held Americans reporting that down payments and closing costs present themselves as the biggest obstacles to homeownership, with 82 percent of respondents crediting these as the biggest barriers. “”The MID facilitates home ownership by reducing the carrying costs of owning a home, and it makes a real difference to hard-working American families,”” said Phipps. “”Home ownership offers not only social benefits, but also long-term value for families, communities and the nation’s economy. We need to make sure that any changes to current programs or incentives don’t jeopardize our collective futures.”” A trade and research group, “”NAR””: represents realtors nationwide. July 6, 2011 449 Views center_img Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Dodd-Frank FDIC HUD Lenders & Servicers National Association of Realtors Processing QRM Service Providers 2011-07-06 Ryan Schuettelast_img read more

July New Home Sales Increase as Prices Fall

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing New-home sales regained all the ground they lost in June, jumping by 13,000 to an annualized rate of 372,000 in July, the “”Census Bureau””: and “”HUD””: reported Thursday. [IMAGE]Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected the report to show a sales pace of 362,000. Sales for June were revised up to 359,000 from the originally reported 350,000.Both the median and average sales price of a new home though dropped month-over-month and year-over-year according to the report, each falling to the lowest level since January.The bump in sales was seen largely in the Northeast where the sales pace was reported as 30,000 up from 17,000 in June. In May the sales pace in the Northeast was 38,000. Given the wide swings in the region, the average of national sales might be a better indicator. The three-month average of sales was 368,000 up from 359,000 in the previous three months and 303,000 in the May-June-July period one year ago.The month-over-month improvement in sales nationally was nonetheless the ninth in the last year hinting at a sustainable recovery and supporting surveys showing increasing builder confidence. The “”National Association of Home Builder’s””: Housing Market Index measure of builder confidence reached 35 (out of 100) in July, more than double the reading of 15 registered one year earlier. The measure of buyer traffic to showrooms and model homes ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô part of the HAB survey, rose to 28 in July, more than double the reading of 15 in July 2011.Builders though are still selling far fewer homes than they complete. According to a separate report, builders completed 448,000 new-single family homes in July.[COLUMN_BREAK]Nonetheless, the inventory of homes for sale at the end of July dipped slightly to 142,000 from 143,000 in June. With the increase in the sales rate, the months’ supply of new homes for sale dropped to 4.6 from 4.8 in June. The inventory is at the lowest level since this report began in January 1963.The sales pace, according to the report, is up 25.3 percent from one year ago.The drop in the median price to $224,200 – was the fourth in the last five months, bringing the median price to its lowest level since January.The median price was down 2.5 percent from one year ago, the second straight month of year-over-year decline.The average price fell month-over-month for the third straight time. The average price dropped to $263,200, its lowest level of the year. The average price also fell year-over-year for the second straight month.The July new home sales report followed by one day a report by the “”National Association of Realtors””:, which showed a modest increase in new-home sales, which had fallen to an eight month low in June.The two reports are not strictly comparable since the new-home sales data is based on contracts and the existing-home sales report tracks completed (closed) transactions. Nonetheless, the two reports are often read together to measure the strength of the housing sector.The new-home sales report is a more current indicator of housing conditions since it reflects the economy and consumer confidence for the month of the report. It does not though take into account transactions which are cancelled.About 28 percent of new homes sold in July carried prices of $200,000 or more, down from 29 percent in June, the third straight month-over-month decline in sales of higher-priced homes. Sales rose sharply in the Northeast, reversing an abrupt decline. According to the report, the sales pace in the Northeast in July was 30,000, up from 17,000 in June. In May, the sales pace was 38,000. Sales rose 4,000 in the Midwest but fell 3,000 in the South and 1,000 in the West. Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Census Bureau For-Sale Homes Home Prices Home Sales HUD Investors Lenders & Servicers National Association of Home Builders Processing Service Providers 2012-08-23 Mark Lieberman August 23, 2012 404 Views center_img Share July New Home Sales Increase as Prices Falllast_img read more

Comptroller Discusses Fading Threats to Secondary Market

first_imgComptroller Discusses Fading Threats to Secondary Market Conditions in the housing sector may have finally improved enough to bring life back to the securitization market, “”Comptroller of the Currency””: Thomas Curry said in remarks at the “”American Securitization Forum””:[IMAGE]Curry noted that the credit market has shifted dramatically in its efforts to prevent the practices that paved the way for the financial meltdown but has gone too far–an expected reaction, he said. However, as the market stabilizes, it will become important for lenders to adjust appropriately and find a balance.””The credit-availability pendulum has swung, as it was bound to do, in reaction to poor performance of the underlying assets, home price instability, and a lack of investor demand for anything other than a government guaranteed product,”” Curry said. “”As these factors abate, underwriting standards will need to find a new equilibrium of risk and reward for a sustainable mortgage market.””One of the most critical components in turning the picture around, he said, is “”[g]etting the securitization pipeline flowing again.”” There are two key prerequisites to achieve that: “”clear evidence of stability in the value of the underlying asset””–in other words, evidence that prices won’t drop out again–and a resolution of “”the legal and regulatory uncertainties that have kept many investors on the sidelines.””””We are starting to see signs of stabilization, with modest price increases in some markets and slowdown in foreclosures and defaults,”” Curry said of the first issue. “”Housing today is lending strength to the economic recovery, rather than sapping it.””As far as regulatory uncertainties go, the comptroller said clarity and predictability about regulatory policy “”is an area in which I believe we have made significant progress,”” pointing to the recent issuance of the long-anticipated “”qualified mortgage”” rule and the imminent release of release of the “”qualified residential mortgage”” (QRM) definition that will establish guidelines for safer asset-backed securities.Curry concluded by offering his assurance that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the other regulatory agencies involved in the formulation of the QRM definition are working hard to achieve their objectives: “”encouraging the availability of consumer credit on reasonable terms, facilitated by the secondary mortgage market, on the one hand, and sound credit market practices and investor protection on the other.”” in Data, Origination, Secondary Market January 29, 2013 830 Views center_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investment Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage-Backed Securities OCC Regulation Service Providers Sustainability 2013-01-29 Tory Barringer Sharelast_img read more