Blueribbon panel presents 97 recommendations to improve governability

first_imgNo related posts. A presidential blue-ribbon panel on Thursday presented President Laura Chinchilla a final report on how to improve governance in Costa Rica.The document contains 97 recommendations, elaborated by a group of six former government officials and political leaders, and among them a series of constitutional reforms that would allow, for example, the president’s re-election in one consecutive term.The report includes, as made public last week, a controversial recommendation to increase the number of lawmakers from 57 to 87. A large number of the recommendations in the 45-page document have to do with the operation of the Legislative Assembly.The experts recommended changes in regulations to eliminate the possibility for lawmakers to submit bills to consultation by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV.These consultations have resulted in the withdrawal of bills that took years of discussion, and in other cases, forced lawmakers to rewrite the text of many of them that had already been approved.According to the experts, “there is a risk that power relations are affected as a result of constant legislative consultation of constitutionality.”Panel members recalled that these consultations were removed in recent years in several European Union countries and the United States, as it is not considered appropriate for a constitutional court to participate in the process of creating laws.They also recommend establishing maximum periods of three months for approval of priority projects, as well as for the appointing of key government officials as court justices, comptroller general and vice comptroller, or ombudsman.Chinchilla highlighted the work of the panel and noted that the “executive branch will prioritize the recommendations to streamline the government’s actions, especially the reforms of the Legislative Assembly, as well as those related to Sala IV.”The panel was formed at Chinchilla’s request and includes ex-lawmakers Constantino Urcuyo and Francisco Antonio Pacheco, constitutional lawyer Manrique Jiménez, former president of the Social Security Fund and Supreme Court Justice Rodolfo Piza Rocafort, former diplomat and ex-presidential candidate Vladimir De la Cruz and former justice vice minister and constitutional lawyer Fabián Volio.Tico Times Poll: Do you think more lawmakers would help the country’s political situation?  Yes. I trust the experts’ judgment.  More bureaucrats? No way!  No response. Blue-ribbon panel recommendations Facebook Commentslast_img

Beach race Shakespeare and other happenings in Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:The Prague Ballet, an international blues festival, and other happenings around Costa Rica The National Theater’s birthday, symphonic Beatles, and other happenings around Costa Rica Swiss musicians, YES homage, and other happenings in Costa Rica Shakespearean ballet, outdoor tango, and other happenings around Costa Rica Race: Ruta La PazHelping Costa Rican education never felt so good: This easygoing race takes place in the beautiful setting of Playa Flamingo, and all proceeds benefit the APEGUA alliance, an organization dedicated to improving the school system in Guanacaste. Runners can opt for the 5K or the 10K, and young athletes can enjoy free recreational activities at 9 a.m.Ruta La Paz takes place May 3 in Flamingo Beach, Guanacaste. 6:30 a.m. ₡10,000-12,500 ($20-25). Info: CEPIA website.Presidential InaugurationCosta Rica turns a new leaf: Watch Guillermo Solís get sworn in as the nation’s new president during this historic event.The inauguration takes place May 8 at the National Stadium, La Sabana. Events start 8 a.m.–5 p.m.Culture: Celebration of Francisca “Pancha” CarrascoArt, music, and dance commemorate “Pancha” Carrasco, female folk hero and fighter against the U.S. filibustero profiteers. Learn about this extraordinary historical figure.Celebration takes place May 3 & 4 at the Juan Santamaría Museum, downtown Alajuela. Info: Museum website.American Football: X-Cite Sports International ClassicCross-national American football game played between Tico team the CR Stars and the USA Patriots, a semi-pro team from the Midwest.Game takes place May 3 at the Garabito Sports Plaza, Playa Jacó, Puntarenas. 6 p.m. ₡3,000 ($6).Exhibit: “Tintin”A retrospective on the dashing young journalist, his pup Snowy and his friend Captain Haddock. Visit the Alianza Francesa to see the works of Belgian cartoonist Hergé.The Tintin exhibit takes place May 2-31 at the Alianza Francesa, La Sabana. Free. Info: Alianza Francesa website.Theater: “King Lear”The acclaimed Shakespeare adaptation returns for a new round of blood and tragedy, thanks to the National Theater Company of Costa Rica.“Rey Lear” performs May 2-4 at the National Theater, downtown San José. Fri. & Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 6 p.m. ₡4,000 ($8). Info: National Theater website.Art: “Mayo en Verde”Celebrate the coming of the “Green Season” with these colorful landscapes, painted by a variety of Costa Rican artists.“Mayo en Verde” takes place at the López Ecarré Gallery, National Theater, downtown San José. Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Free. Info: Gallery website.Mother AfricaPrepare for sensory overload: Created by acrobat Winston Ruddle, “Mother Africa” combines Pan-African music, song, tumbling and step dance. The extravaganza showcases two dozen performers, celebrating not only the continent but also the breadth of the African diaspora.“Madre Africa” takes place April 25 through May 4 at the National Gymnasium, La Sabana. Mon.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 3 & 8 p.m. VIP seating ₡29,000 ($60), general admission ₡23,000 ($46) and budget tickets ₡16,000 ($32). Info: eTicket website.Art: Great Painters ExhibitPaintings by Picasso, Matisse, Renoir and Andy Warhol arrive in Costa Rica. Presented by the National Gallery, this collection incorporates 158 artworks and celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Costa Rican Center of Science and Culture, based in the former penitentiary.“Herencia del Arte” takes place April 28–June 28 at the National Gallery in Barrio Mexico. Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free. Info: National Gallery website.Art: “Cuerpo Ajeno”“Foreign Body” showcases photographs of transgendered people of Central America.“Cuerpo Ajeno” opens Friday, April 25, at Galería Talentum, Barrio Amón. 8 p.m. Free. Info: Galería Talentum Facebook page.Enamorate de tu ciudadYes, you can get gaga for San José – especially when the Culture Ministry is sponsoring Enamorate de tu ciudad, or Fall in Love With Your City, a year-long celebration of art, culture and urban parks. Check back for games, workshops, presentations and surprise performances.Fall in Love with Your City takes place on Saturdays in various parks in downtown San José. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. Info: Enamorate de tu Ciudad website. Facebook Commentslast_img

US tourist rescued at sea in southern Pacific

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica Coast Guard rescues injured US tourist in Las Catalinas Life jackets not distributed before Costa Rica catamaran began sinking, killing 3, says president’s office Fishermen, locals are the ‘real heroes’ in Costa Rica catamaran accident, says survivor US Coast Guard to assist in investigation of deadly catamaran accident A Costa Rican boat rescued a 63-year-old tourist from the United States in a mysterious accident at sea in southern Costa Rica last Friday, the Public Security Ministry reported.The tourist, Richard King, and another U.S. traveler were on a sport fishing boat at Boca Tortuga de Ballena, in the Osa canton, when the Costa Rican Coast Guard received a distress call from the vessel. The Coast Guard scrambled a ship and an airplane to search for the boat, but a private Costa Rican ship passed the shipwreck first.King was found clinging to the overturned boat. The Tico rescuers pulled him on board and towed his boat back to shore. The other tourist reportedly swam to the coast on his own.A ministry spokesman told The Tico Times that King and the other tourist left the scene and did not make a statement as to what happened to their boat. Facebook Commentslast_img

Beijing to share more of Great Wall with tourists

first_imgBEIJING (AP) – Beijing will open two new parts of the Great Wall to tourists to meet high demand for one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions, state media reported Saturday.The municipal government will open the Huanghuacheng and Hefangkou sections of the Great Wall to the public and expand the popular Mutianyu and Badaling sites in the capital’s northern suburbs, the official Xinhua News Agency said. No specific dates were given. Top Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family On weekends and holidays, the existing four public Great Wall sites often are crammed with tourists. Xinhua said some tourists instead scale closed sections of the wall and cause damage to the historic structure.Kong Fanzhi, chief of Beijing’s cultural relics bureau, told Xinhua the new measures aim to ease the congestion at the open sections of the wall.Most of the wall in Beijing is in good condition, Wang Yuwei, a cultural relics protection official, was quoted as saying.The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications built throughout centuries to protect the country’s ancient empire.Wang said the city is building a Great Wall database, which will be open to the public.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Sponsored Stories center_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates How men can have a healthy 2019 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Comments   Share   last_img

Rude surprise French fed up with own incivility

first_imgBut Paris’s public transport authority is leading the fight-back in a summer-long publicity campaign against rudeness.Billboards depicting Frenchmen with animal heads have dominated metro stations; they target passengers who are rude to staff and push and shove. “If you shove five people getting onboard,” the posters say, “it won’t make us set off faster.” Bus ads read: “One bonjour doesn’t cost a penny, and it changes your day.”Transport officials say they’ve tried to keep a light touch on a serious matter.“We used humor to not be moralistic,” says Isabelle Ockrent, RATP communications director. “But we’ve been alerted by our staff that there is a real problem.”Public transport staff even held “rudeness forums” over three days in late June in 20 metro stations, in which they exchanged views on correct etiquette with passengers.Among other things, people were asked what they thought the root causes were for pushing and shoving: Lack of time? Unhappiness? Many Parisians attribute the decreasing tolerance to rudeness to the fast-pace of the Internet age, with i-Pods on the metro and mobile phone noise in public spaces. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Atout France, the country’s tourism development agency launched a summer campaign in regions where tourism is suffering to promote service quality.“We’re very aware of the problem making tourists feel welcome,” says Fanny Moutel, communications director for Atout France, the country’s tourism development agency. “We’ve noticed that there are fewer English visiting places like Brittany and Normandy and the Loire, so the campaign aims to improve the way tourists are treated.”Where English-speaking tourists were once greeted with raised eyebrows and a Gallic shrug, more and more French in the service industry speak English.That’s just one of the many ways in which France is changing.Earlier this week on a high-speed train, there were puzzled smiles from passengers after a decidedly un-French loudspeaker address:“Hello, welcome, please greet your neighbor, and may you adopt a zen attitude.”_____Thomas Adamson can be followed at Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 ways to recognize low testosterone “It might seem obvious, but when stressed for work, Parisians forget `hello’ or `thank you’ when asking for a ticket,” says Ockrent.Parisians, it seems, may be pleased to be going back to finishing school.Passengers regularly gawk at the ads, which have stretched from ceiling to floor inside some metro stations, and the RATP say the campaign has gotten near universal positive feedback on it.The results of this year’s IPSOS trend research won’t be published until fall. But the agency can already reveal that the backlash against rudeness is rising.“In 2012, one thing is clear; the French are irritated and want a return to good manners. They’ve had enough of rudeness … reached a limit,” says Lise Brunet, IPSOS’s director of trend studies.“The acceleration of life with cells phones means that people have even less time to follow the rules of politeness,” adds Brunet. “Today, it’s even more of a concern than the economic crisis. People just want to hear `Thank you.’”In France, the world’s most visited country, rudeness is also a concern for tourism companies _ especially as France feels the bite of the financial crisis. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familycenter_img (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Four benefits of having a wireless security system Associated PressPARIS (AP) – It’s a July evening on the terrace of the legendary Cafe Flore. A coiffed woman sips chilled wine, another savors her chocolate eclair.The one thing to complete a perfect picture of Parisian life? A dash of French rudeness.It comes from the waiter, who snootily turns away a group of tourists: “There’s no point waiting,” he shrugs, even though there are many empty tables. “No space outside.” Such rituals of rudeness have long been accepted by visitors as part of the price of enjoying such a beautiful city as Paris. But it seems the French themselves, who over centuries have turned rudeness into an art form, have become fed up with their own incivility, according to recent polls and publicity campaigns.There’s a fabled history of French rudeness from Napoleon, who called the English a “nation of shopkeepers,” to former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who infamously snarled at a voter: “Get lost, poor jerk.”Now, bad manners and aggressive behavior top the list of causes of stress for the French, even higher than unemployment or the debt crisis, says pollster IPSOS. A total of 60 percent cited rudeness as their number one source of stress in a survey last year on social trends.“We’re so rude,” admits 34-year-old French teacher Stephane Gomez, as he comes out of a Paris metro station. “France lacks the civic sense that you find in Anglo-Saxon countries.”“It’s so easy to be polite, but we don’t do it,” says 30-year-old Zahia Sebahi. “I never see someone give up their seat for an elderly person.” Patients with chronic pain give advice New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Comments   Share   last_img

South Korean court upholds abortion ban

first_img Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea’s Constitutional Court has upheld a 59-year-old ban on abortions.The eight-judge panel needed six votes in favor of declaring the law unconstitutional in order to overturn the longtime ban.However, the court said Thursday that four judges voted to keep the ban and four voted to overturn it, meaning abortion will remain illegal in South Korea.The court said in a statement that the four judges who voted to overturn the ban supported allowing first trimester abortions. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationcenter_img South Korea banned abortion in 1953 with exceptions for rape, incest or severe genetic disorders.Activists say authorities turned a blind eye to abortions for decades until cracking down in recent years due to South Korea’s low birthrate.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Top holiday drink recipes Comments   Share   last_img

Hamas boycotts Barcelona over Schalit tickets

first_imgAssociated PressGAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Hamas is launching a media boycott of Barcelona after reports the Spanish league leader gave a complimentary ticket for an upcoming match to an Israeli soldier formerly held captive by militants in the Gaza Strip.A Barcelona spokesman confirmed the team had given the ticket to Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Gaza militants in June 2006 and returned home last October under an Israel-Palestinian deal on prisoner exchange. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix The team spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity in line with club policy. He says Barcelona often gives complimentary tickets.Since his release, Schalit writes a newspaper sports column.Hamas official Attallah Abu Al Subah says that, as of Thursday, no TV station in Gaza will broadcast Barcelona matches and no papers in the coastal strip will write about the club.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   5 treatments for adult scoliosis Quick workouts for men Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img

UNWTO confirms upward trend in international tourist arrivals

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> The latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer has confirmed an upward trend in international tourist arrivals. According to the report, a 7% growth in international tourist arrivals was recorded in the first two months of 2010 worldwide. This follows on from the growth registered in Q4 of 2009 when arrivals grew by 2% after 14 consecutive months of negative results. The UNWTO Barometer indicated that growth was positive in all world regions during the first two months of 2010 led by Asia and the Pacific (+10%) and Africa (+7%).  The pace of international tourism growth was slower in Europe (+3%) and in the Americas (+3%), the two regions, which were hardest hit by the GFC and are proving to be comparatively weaker.A large number of countries around the world reported positive results in the first months of 2010. Out of the 77 destinations revealing data for this period, 60 showed positive figures, of which 24 posted double-digit growth including Estonia, Israel, Hong Kong (China), Macao (China), Japan, Taiwan (pr. of China), Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Guam, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, US Virgin Islands, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.last_img

Recession no deterrence to Qantas Virgin mergers

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.F A new wave of mergers is likely next year as conditions improve for European airlines, but the recession is still too fresh for carriers to consolidate this year, according to SAS group. But with pressure building on carriers to cut costs and boost traffic, many airlines remain open to the prospect reports Bloomberg. The CEO of SAS Group, Mats Jansson, said in an interview this week that following the losses of European carriers during the recession, it was simply “too early” to consider any merges this year. SAS own Scandinavian Airlines, and only survived the losses incurred by the airline due to share sales that gave greater control to the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian governments. “When companies feel they’ve done their homework, they’re in good shape and the market is stable, then boards will start to look at the acquisition list, but not now,” he said. But many airlines are already considering consolidation, with Virgin, Qantas and LOT this week all saying they were exploring their options. Virgin CEO Steve Ridgway, who attended the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) this week, said that U.S. and European mergers were challenging the airline’s position in the North Atlantic market, and as such it was exploring its own options. An inter-continental deal was the preferred option for Australian based Qantas, according to CEO Alan Joyce, who also attended the IATA meeting, adding that it would be “a great asset for anyone.” “Consolidation isn’t easy to do and cross-border inter- continental mergers have not occurred yet, but I think they will and Qantas will be at the forefront of that,” he said. Polish carrier LOT, which is predicting a return to profit after two years of losses, has attracted interest from certain airlines and investment funds, and is looking for a quick merge, said CEO Sebastian Mikosz. Ridgway also hinted at the possibility of Singapore Airlines Ltd. offering up its 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic, an airline currently outside any global groupings, as the carrier looks towards the expanding Indian and Chinese markets, but said it would not be happening any time soon.“Singapore Airlines is a great shareholder, and I don’t think they’re in any hurry to do that,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s down to them, but it could be an opportunity.”last_img

IATA urges Australia to lead Asia Pacific industry dominance

first_imgThe centre of the world has dropped by a latitude or two in terms of aviation profit and activity, with Asia Pacific the most profitable region, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).But the region needs a strong industry leader and Australia is well positioned to take on the role, IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani said at the recent National Aviation Press Club in Sydney.“The credibility and respect Australia has built gives you some great opportunities [to] play a key role in regional leadership,” he said.“You are in the centre of the most challenging and interesting part of the world.“Asia Pacific is the largest single market in aviation and will continue to drive industry growth.” With their carriers expecting to report a profit of USD2.2 billion in 2010, Asia Pacific will post the largest gain of all regions compared to last year, according to the IATA boss.“The future of aviation is in Asia Pacific,” Mr Bisignani said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.Alast_img

Australian market continues to grow Rail Europe

first_imgRail Europe CEO, Pierre-Stephane Austi was in Sydney yesterday to celebrate the fact that more Australians are travelling by train in Europe than ever before. Rail Europe sales are up 63 per cent in Australia, while global sales have also increased by 41 per cent. “We attribute these extremely pleasing results in Australia to our distribution networks, marketing initiatives and advanced technology that have allowed more clients access to cheaper fares and the advantages of ticketing in Australia,” says Mr Austi.“We believe that the Australian market will continue to grow – especially with the strength of the Australian dollar combined with the ease of booking and access to the fantastic range of fares that we can offer,” said Richard Leonard, Rail Europe Manager Australasia.“[Travellers] are shifting more and more from air to rail.”Rail Europe distributes through Rail Plus, Rail Tickets (Stella), CIT Holidays or Infinity in Australia and Rail Plus and Go Holidays in New Zealand. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img

Pax strengthen across APAC

first_imgAsia Pacific airports experienced an 8.5 percent increase in passenger traffic during the first half of 2012 compared with the same period year-on-year.The results of the latest Airports Council International (ACI) Passenger and Freight Flash Reports were revealed this week.Beijing Capital Airport garnered the region’s highest traffic results, catering to almost 40 million passengers; making it the second busiest airport in the world, after Atlanta Airport. Other regional international aviation hubs including Bangkok, Singapore and Seoul Incheon all experienced passenger growth during the first six months of the year.Looking at the passenger traffic for June 2012, it is a continuation of a strong and steady growth, according to ACI.Hong Kong Airport recorded the highest cargo throughput in the APAC region, transporting over 334,000 tonnes in June 2012.“Our region went through a challenging year in 2011 and it is encouraging to see a strong rebound in the passenger traffic in the first 6 months of 2012,” ACI Asia Pacific regional director Patti Chau said.“Driven by the growth in intra-regional and domestic passenger traffic, the region remains resilient to the economic uncertainty that is still looming in other parts of the world.”Ms Chau added that “many airports in the region are undergoing expansion projects or construction of new airports,” which she believes is “the right direction and gives confidence to government and private investors.”The Middle East outperformed all regions in the world with impressive growth figures, exceeding 13 percent year-on-year in regards to passenger traffic. Beijing AirportImage Source: World Architecture News Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img

Top long haul travel tips

first_imgDue to Australia’s geographical location, many destinations require a long haul flight to get to, and whilst travelers often are just sitting down for the majority of the time, long haul flights are actually very taxing on health.Being aware of the health risks while flying and being organised with the remedies to treat them will have you arriving happier and healthier the next time you step off the plane after a long haul flight.    Dr Natalie Gray, an Australian travel doctor, gives her top tips on how to manage some of the most common long haul travel issues.Issue #1: Dehydration: The main cause of dehydration during long haul travel is the dryness of the cabins. Comfortable humidity is 60 -70%, yet aeroplane cabins range from just 12-21% (this is the same as a desert!). Common symptoms of low cabin humidity are thirst, dry mouth, skin, eyes and nose.   – To minimise dehydration, try and drink 2–3 glasses of water plus a dose of oral rehydration solution (such as Hydralyte) every five hours. Dry, scratchy eyes are one of the most uncomfortable health issues to have on a flight; they disrupt sleep and can become extremely irritated. Using eye drops or an eye mist (such as Murine Eye Mist) will provide immediate relief.Issue #2: Changing Cabin Pressure: Most commercial long haul flights travel at an altitude of 28,000 – 35,000 feet.  Cabins are pressurised to a maximum of 8000 feet to allow travellers to breathe comfortably as planes cruise through thin air at high altitudes. This discomfort can be minimised by using a saline nasal decongestant (such as FESS saline spray) thirty minutes prior to take off and landing.  The use of mentholated sweets or gum promotes swallowing and helps equalise pressure in the air.Issue #3: Jetlag: Jetlag is the term used to describe the uncomfortable aftermath of a long haul flight through several time zones, where your circadian rhythms (internal clock) become out of sync. As soon as you board the flight, set your clock to the local time of your destination. Stay hydrated, and avoid excess alcohol and caffeine. When you land at your destination, do some light exercise like going for a casual stroll or a relaxing swim that will get the body moving again.Issue #4: Stressed immune system Pre travel time can be stressful with work deadlines to meet and plenty to organise before you take off. During long haul travel you also spend long periods of time in enclosed or confined spaces with lots of other people and odds are if you’re not sick at the start, sitting next to someone for more than six hours who is sick, could mean you are by the end of the flight. To boost your immune system try taking a supplement (like the Frequent Flyer Health Boost).Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img

Punam Singh

first_imgTTF New Delhi is impeccable; the venue in fact is very worthy competition to Pragati Maidan. The main benefit that most of the agents received is being able to forged partnership making this platform one of integrity and professionalism.last_img

CURT Owners Survey Indicates Capital Concerns for Construction

first_imgCURT Owners Survey Indicates Capital Concerns for Construction Collecting data from the company’s 45-member “”Construction Users Roundtable (CURT)””:, FMI released the results of its most recent study on the sector, revealing that “”project disruptions”” hindered capital initiatives for construction during 2012. Citing factors such as delays, cancellations, and general funding challenges, “”FMI’s””: CURT Owners Survey showed that such inhibitors significantly impacted owners’ capital programs throughout the year.[IMAGE]According to FMI, 93 percent of CURT members reported the need to utilize self-funding for projects in 2012, while 83 percent of CURT members experienced project delays. Additionally, 41 percent of CURT participants noted project cancellations. Addressing future issues affecting capital programs, degree of preparedness for impending concerns, levels of staffing changes [COLUMN_BREAK]and current staffing trends, degree of project disruptions, and alterations to project delivery systems and procurement methods, FMI’s study indicated that 72 percent of respondents who are “”worried about limited project funding”” aren’t confident in their ability to meet the challenge. Currently, capital availability for construction projects ranks as the top concern among CURT members. More than 50 percent of those taking part in FMI’s survey stated that they lacked “”confidence”” in their ability to respond to internal staffing and skilled labor issues. FMI added that between 2010 and 2012, two-thirds of respondents continued their internal staffing rate from 2008 through 2010.Commenting on the company’s statistics, FMI stated, “”The changing landscape of owner staffing has created a void for many capital programs while it has created a growth opportunity for others. During interviews, owners noted the movement of talent across the industry as certain construction markets rise and fall. As once-depressed markets begin to turn, it is likely that some of this shift will reverse. These dynamics have led to an influx of new ideas within capital programs fortunate enough to add talent with diverse back- grounds.””On the other hand, they have caused a loss of specific experience and knowledge within other capital programs. Further challenging capital programs is the effect of project delays, cancellations and funding challenges. Although signs of optimism are evident, far too many respondents are still struggling with delays and cancellations to capital projects. Resolving the industry’s challenges of tomorrow is too great for the actions of a single firm to suffice,”” FMI concluded. December 20, 2012 456 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technologycenter_img Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-12-20 Abby Gregorylast_img

Residential Finance Hires Director of Organizational Development

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing New,Residential Finance Hires Director of Organizational Development February 25, 2013 431 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Movers & Shakers Processing Residential Finance Corporation Service Providers 2013-02-25 Tory Barringercenter_img “”Residential Finance Corporation””: (RFC), an award-winning mortgage lender headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, hired Sonya Gray as director of organizational development.[IMAGE]Gray possesses extensive experience as a learning and developing strategist in the financial services industry. Prior to joining RFC, she served as senior manager of employee learning for Discover Home Loans, Inc., where [COLUMN_BREAK]she led the training of mortgage staff and the development as design of the company’s training programs. Before that, she held similar duties as employee learning director for LendingTree, LLC, where she managed training staff at all company locations nationwide.In her position at RFC, Gray will work with the company’s management to design and implement training and development programs.””I’m excited to join Residential Finance, a company with a solid growth plan and future,”” she said. “”The leadership at Residential Finance is committed to the professional development of employees, which makes the company a great place to work and ultimately leads to greater customer satisfaction.””””With Residential Finance’s aggressive multi-channel growth plans, Sonya is the perfect choice for this role,”” said Mark Fowler, chief revenue officer and VPof production. “”In particular, Sonya’s experience and expertise developing training programs for high-profile lending organizations will be a huge asset as we move forward with our expansion.”” Sharelast_img

Housing Markets Inch Closer to Recovery

first_img November 7, 2014 468 Views Homebuilders Housing Starts Leading Markets Index National Association of Home Builders 2014-11-07 Scott_Morgan Share Housing Markets Inch Closer to Recoverycenter_img The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released its Q3 Leading Markets Index (LMI) report Thursday, and the verdict is: National housing recovery is getting there, slowly but surely.For months, NAHB has been reporting that recovery in the national and in most metro markets is inching its way back to normal levels. The latest report virtually mirrors the LMI report released in August, which stated that 56 of 350 metros were at or better than normal, and the national housing market overall was 89 percent of where it should be.Now, those numbers are 59 out of 350 and 90 percent nationwide. Year over year, this is an additional seven metros at or better than normal and an improvement in 66 percent of all markets compared to Q3 of 2013.The LMI looks at average permit, price, and employment data over a 12-month period, then divides each by their annual averages over the last period of normal growth. For single-family permits and home prices, 2003 is considered the last normal year; for employment, 2007.As it has this whole year, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, tops the list of major metros on the LMI. Baton Rouge, according to NAHB, is 39 percent better than its last normal market level a decade ago. Other major metros doing far better than what would be considered normal include Austin, Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Houston, Los Angeles, San Jose, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, and Charleston.Some smaller metros are doing even better. Midland and Odessa, Texas, for example, are twice as strong as they were before the recession. Grand Forks and Bismarck, North Dakota; and Casper, Wyoming, are also doing far better now than they were 10 years ago.For markets not all the way back, things are nevertheless up.”Nearly half of all the markets on the Leading Markets Index are up since August, which is a good sign that the ongoing housing recovery will keep moving forward in 2015,” said Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company, which co-sponsors the LMI report.According to NAHB chairman Kevin Kelly, markets are recovering at a slow, gradual pace, and continued job creation, economic growth and increasing consumer confidence “should help spur pent-up demand for housing.”Where there is room for improvement is in the area of permits for new construction.”An uptick in the number of single-family permits, which is currently only 44 percent of normal activity, is the key to a full-fledged housing recovery,” said David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist. “In the 17 metros where permits are at or above normal, the overall index shows that these markets have fully recovered.” in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Newslast_img

Housing Shortages Fueling Price Increases But Not at 2015 Levels

first_img January 13, 2016 827 Views Affordability Exisiting-Home Sales Housing Market Pent Up Demand 2016-01-13 Scott_Morgan As far as the U.S. housing market is concerned, it’s got a lot to live up to compared to 2015. Last year was, in fact, the market’s best year since before the crash, and its success has led most insiders to be optimistic about the coming year.But while 2016 should be fairly upbeat, the National Association of Realtors’ Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, is urging a more sober picture of expectations for the year ahead.On Tuesday, Yun announced that while existing home sales are expected to expand in 2016, the pace of growth will be more moderate, due to collision of pent-up buyer demand and overall affordability and meager economic growth.In the NAR-published video, Yun says that rising mortgage rates, shaky global economic conditions, and the fact that home prices still outpace wages will likely hold back a stronger pace of sales.According to the NAR, the national median existing-home price for all of 2015 will be close to $221,200, up around 6 percent from 2014. In 2016, existing sales are expected to grow between 1 and 2 percent (5.30 to 5.40 million) and prices should increase between 5 and 6 percent.”This year the housing market may only squeak out 1 to 3 percent growth in sales because of slower economic expansion and rising mortgage rates,” Yun says. He adds that home prices will continue to rise in the wake of a new housing shortages in many markets.This, he says, is “because of the cumulative effect of homebuilders under producing for multiple years. Once the spring buying season begins, we’ll begin to feel that again.”All of 2015’s sales numbers are not yet in. Yun is still waiting to see how December sales fared, but according to his video, he expects existing-homes sales to finish the year up 6.5 percent from 2014. That’s a pace of around 5.26 million, which is the highest set of numbers since 2006. It remains, however, roughly 25 percent below the 7.08 million peak set in 2005. in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, Newscenter_img Share Housing Shortages Fueling Price Increases, But Not at 2015 Levelslast_img

10 Cities with Homes at Bargain Prices

first_img10 Cities with Homes at Bargain Prices Affordable Housing Bargain Home Prices homes HOUSING Prices renovations 2018-06-05 Radhika Ojha June 5, 2018 553 Views Sharecenter_img As home prices continue to surge across the nation, it’s difficult for buyers looking for a bargain on houses to find their ideal abode. But not in these 10 cities, according to an analysis by where homes can be bought for as little as $100,000 or even less.For the study, the team at looked at cities that had the largest number of single-family homes listed for under $100,000 on in March, in terms of volume. The study found that while cities in the Midwest and the Rust Belt had many such homes, Chicago, as well as New York City, had affordable finds for bargain hunters too.With a median home list price of $179,000 and 2,656 homes listed for $100,000 or less, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania topped the list. According to, first-time buyers could purchase a two-story, three-bedroom Colonial home with a yard within the $100,000 range in the Steel City.Coming in a close second was Motor City, Detroit, with 2,478 homes listed at $100,000 or less. The median home price in the city though was at $245,000. The team also found that many of the homes in the desirable areas that were listed below $100,000 needed substantial renovations after years of neglect.Look a little beyond Chicago’s city limits and buyers are likely to find affordable homes with a median home list price of $299,000 the study said, ranking Chicago, Illinois or rather its greater metro area around 45 minutes outside the city limits, third on this list. Around 2,397 homes in this area were listed at $100,000 or less.At 2,227 homes listed at the $100,000 price range and a median home listing price of $207,550, St. Louis Montana was ranked fourth followed by Cleveland, Ohio that rounded off the top five on the list with 1,779 homes listed in the $100,00 range.Birmingham, Alabama came sixth on this list, followed by New York, New York; Memphis, Tennessee; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Atlanta, Georgia. in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Newslast_img