Gold Haiti hopes ore find will spur mining boom


first_imgUntil now, few Haitians have known about this buried treasure. Mining camps are unmarked, and the work is being done miles up dirt roads near remote villages, on the opposite side of the country from the capital. But U.S. and Canadian investors have spent more than $30 million in recent years on everything from exploratory drilling to camps for workers, new roads, offices and laboratory studies of samples. Actual mining could be under way in five years.“When I first heard whispers of this I said, `Gold mines? There could be gold mines in Haiti?’” said Michel Lamarre, a Haitian engineer whose firm, SOMINE, is leading the exploration. “I truly believe this is our answer to taking care of ourselves instead of constantly living on donations.”On a rugged, steep Haitian ridge far above the Atlantic, brilliant boulders coated with blue-green oxidized copper jut from the hills, while colorful pebbles litter the soil, strong indicators that precious metals lie below.“Just look down,” said geologist John Watkins. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”Nearby, 8-year-old Whiskey Pierre and his barefoot buddies stared at a team of sweat-drenched men driving a narrow, shrieking diamond bit 900 feet into the ground. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Check your body, save your life Comments   Share   New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths “The eyes of the world will not allow the government to fool around,” he said.Three firms are considering mining in Haiti, but so far only SOMINE has full concessions to take the metals out of the mountains. Those permits, for 50 square kilometers (31 square miles), were negotiated in 1996 under President Rene Preval and require the firm to hire Haitians whenever possible.In exchange for minimal permit fees, SOMINE committed to spend $2.25 million in the first two years. In addition, it will pay $1.8 million after a feasibility study, according to the contract.Bottom line: Haitians should get $1 out of every $2 of profits, compared with about $1 out of $3 that most countries get from mining firms.Discoveries of rich resources, whether diamonds, oil or gold, often prompt great economic booms but come with great risk of environmental, health and social problems. Chile, one of the wealthiest nations in Latin America, is the world’s largest copper exporter, deriving a third of its income from the metal. Peru, with one of the fastest growing economies in the world, has privatized most of its mines in recent years, and now gets about 20 percent of its total revenues from the industry. “That is a drill!” shouted Whiskey, bouncing on his toes. “The man drill to get gold!”The workers periodically pulled up samples and knocked them into boxes. The first 40 feet yielded loose rocks and gravel. About 160 feet down, cylinders of rock came back peppered with gold. At 1,000 feet down, rocks were heavily streaked with copper.Geologists extrapolating from depth and strike reports estimate at least 1 million ounces of gold at two sites. In April, prospectors found the first significant silver ever reported in Haiti: between 20 million and 30 million ounces. And in the end, it may be copper that is the most lucrative: geologists suspect that more than 1 million tons lay in just one of many areas under exploration.The prices of precious metals have been volatile in recent years, with copper selling for about $8,000 per ton, silver at $30 an ounce, and gold at $1,600 per ounce.“Ultimately, I think mining is going to dwarf anything else in Haiti,” says Michael Fulp, an Albuquerque, N.M.-based geologist who visited the drill sites. “Usually you’ve got about a one-in-1,000 chance of making a mine from the exploratory stage, but those odds are much better in Haiti because of the lack of any previous modern-day exploration and very, very promising samples.” More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist But mostly they talked about gold.“Of all the places we work in the world,” said Mashburn, whose company has operations in eight countries on five continents, “it would be really most satisfying to have success here. Haiti has great mineral wealth, and they surely could use it.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Gold was last gathered in Haiti in the 1500s, after Christopher Columbus ran the Santa Maria onto a Haitian reef. Spaniards enslaved the Arawak Indians to dig for gold, killing them off with harsh conditions and infectious diseases. When the Spaniards learned of even more lucrative deposits in Mexico, they moved on.In the 1970s, United Nations geologists documented significant pockets of gold and copper, but foreigners weren’t willing to risk their cash in a country where corruption and instability has long discouraged outside investment.Ironically, it was only after the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that investors saw real opportunity. Fifteen days after a seismic jolt brought down much of Port-au- Prince, a Canadian exploration firm acquired all of the shares of the only Haitian firm holding full permits for a promising chunk of land in the northeast.“Investors want to get in at the bottom,” said Dan Hachey, president of Majescor Resources, the Canadian company, “and I figured after that earthquake, Haiti was as low as it could get.”Hachey was also betting that the $10 billion in foreign assistance promised for earthquake recovery would force change and accountability. Sponsored Stories Though the contractual terms are generous for Haiti, there is plenty to be cautious about. Haiti’s government is repeatedly rated as one of the most corrupt in the world. The mines would ostensibly be regulated by government officials responsible for enforcing environmental, mining and corporate laws, but at this point those officials don’t exist and there are neither plans nor budgets to hire them.Further, open pit mines, common around the world, are crater-like holes made up of a series of massive terraced steps that drop thousands of feet into the ground. When the resources are exhausted, usually after about 25 years, the pits can be refilled or converted into reservoirs. In many cases, the mines leave serious problems _ environmental contamination, displaced communities and mountaintops torn asunder.From Papua New Guinea to the Philippines to Brazil, mining accidents have allowed tons of waste to be spilled into rivers and lakes, creating environmental disasters.“In low-income countries, the dangers are substantial,” said UCLA political science professor Michael Ross. “The great irony of mineral wealth is that those countries that most desperately need infusions of mineral revenue _ low-income countries with weak governments _ are also least likely to manage these resources wisely, for the benefit of the country. Already, the hundreds of jobs, the new roads and the community investment in a country where two out of three people have no formal employment is much appreciated.Stone cutter Joseph Bernard, 47, says that before he got a job slicing rock samples, his family was going hungry. They had one cow. Their peanut and bean fields had gone to dust after months without rain.Today, his wife has launched a business selling seeds, and his son and two daughters have started school.“I found a job, but many didn’t,” he said, wiping a trickle of sweat from his deeply lined cheeks after a recent shift. “If more companies come, more people will work.”In a sleepy exploration camp at sunset, Hachey and his competitor, Daven Mashburn of Newmont Mining Corp., met to talk business over bottles of Haiti’s Prestige beer, bumping fists in the low-germ “cholera handshake” that has replaced the traditional palm grip after last year’s deadly epidemic.The men talked labor _ Newmont got 10,000 applications for 100 jobs when one project started up last month. They talked logistics _ core samples are sliced in half, bagged, and flown to Santiago, Chile, where it takes 21 days to find out how much gold, silver or copper they contain. They talked hurricanes, cholera, political unrest and, yes, the earthquake _ Mashburn spent four hours buried under piles of rock in Port-au- Prince, eventually pulled out with fractures from head to toe. In neighboring Dominican Republic, workers are poised to start mining the other side of this seam later this year in one of the world’s largest gold deposits: 23 million ounces worth about $40 billion.The Haitian government’s annual budget is $1 billion, more than half provided by foreign assistance. The largest single source of foreign investment, $2 billion, came from Haitians working abroad last year. A windfall of locally produced wealth could pay for roads, schools, clean water and sewage systems for the nation’s 10 million people, most of whom live on as little as $1.25 a day.“If the mining companies are honest and if Haiti has a good government, then here is a way for this country to move forward,” said Bureau of Mines Director Dieuseul Anglade.In a parking lot outside Anglade’s marble-floored office, more than 100 families have been living in tents since the earthquake. “The gold in the mountains belongs to the people of Haiti,” he said, gesturing out his window. “And they need it.”Haiti’s geological vulnerability is also its promise. Massive tectonic plates squeeze the island with horrifying consequences, but deep cracks between them form convenient veins for gold, silver and copper pushed up from the hot innards of the planet. Prospectors from California to Chile know earthquake faults often have, quite literally, a golden lining. Associated Press WriterTROU DU NORD, Haiti (AP) – Its capital is blighted with earthquake rubble. Its countryside is shorn of trees, chopped down for fuel. And yet, Haiti’s land may hold the key to relieving centuries of poverty, disaster and disease: There is gold hidden in its hills _ and silver and copper, too.A flurry of exploratory drilling in the past year has found precious metals worth potentially $20 billion deep below the tropical ridges in the country’s northeastern mountains. Now, a mining company is drilling around the clock to determine how to get those metals out.last_img

Honduras policeman apologizes to journalists


first_img Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) – An officer in a special forces team of Honduras’ National Police has apologized to a journalist and paid for breaking her camera during a 2011 protest. It’s an unusual gesture in a country where journalists face some of the worst violence in the world.Reporter Sandra Sanchez says she hopes the apology from officer Jhonny Alexander Carrasco will set a precedent.The leader for Honduras’ Committee for Free Expression calls the apology “historic.” But Hector Becerra adds that the problem goes far beyond Carrasco, who broke Sanchez’s camera while trying to keep her from taking pictures of tear gas being used against a bus. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix The vital role family plays in societycenter_img Top Stories Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Quick workouts for men U.N. agencies say 23 journalists have been killed in Honduras since 2006. The Honduran government human rights prosecutor puts the figure at 31.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

Panetta Allen to reassure NATO on insider attacks


first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the NATO strategy discussions.Still, there are growing signs that the Afghan political and military hostilities are starting to wear on the coalition.Compounding the insider attack threat is a recent spike in political tensions between Afghanistan’s government leaders and the U.S.Afghan President Hamid Karzai complained that the war effort is wrongheaded, and that coalition forces are not fighting the right enemy.Just days ahead of the NATO meeting, Panetta was uncharacteristically sharp, criticizing Karzai for complaining rather than thanking the troops who have sacrificed their lives for his country. Karzai’s argument that NATO is wrongly going after the Taliban in Afghanistan when it should be fighting insurgents in Pakistan’s safe havens could further erode support for the war, particularly among members of Congress.Panetta’s pique reflects the frustration of his military commanders, who have seen more than 2,000 U.S. troops die in the 11-year war. And it can only fuel the grumbling by American lawmakers who are facing hotly contested elections next month, and are hearing from constituents wondering why the U.S. is pouring billions of dollars into a fight that Afghanistan’s shaky and corruption-plagued government may no longer support. The officials told reporters that so far NATO ministers attending the conference here have not used the meeting to threaten any additional withdrawals of troops or to seek to limit the combat use of their forces as a result of the attacks.U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, are expected to assure the ministers that commanders have come up with a range of ways to reduce the attacks. And they will insist that while the Taliban has seized on the attacks as a way to derail the fight and the trust between allied and Afghan forces, it is not yet a threat to the war strategy.One of the officials said that NATO nations are concerned about both the safety of their forces and the impact on the war, so it is critical to have these discussions with the minister at this high level now. The officials said the coalition will stick to the withdrawal schedule, which has combat forces leaving and Afghan forces taking over security of the country by the end of 2014.Both Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and U.S. Navy Adm. James Stravidis, NATO’s top military commander, were at the alliance’s gathering Tuesday along with Panetta, who was holding a series of individual meetings with other ministers. Panetta will make his formal address on Afghanistan to the ministers Wednesday. ___Associated Press writer Slobodan Lekic contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project One of the senior U.S. officials said that Karzai has made similar statements in the past, but noted they are still frustrated with Pakistan over the insurgent safe havens within its borders. Militants plan and wage attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan, then retreat back across the border into Pakistan.Support for the war has been ebbing across America and much of the world, triggering growing calls for a speedier troop withdrawal.That prospect leaves commanders worried they won’t have the forces they need to do the training and counterterrorism operations they believe necessary to continue the transition of security to the Afghan troops while also keeping the Taliban from resurging.During meetings Tuesday, Rasmussen said the ministers are expected to endorse a new framework for the Afghan war after 2014, ending the combat focus and turning to a more expansive training and advisory role. As a result, NATO is working on a new name for the mission from the current International Security Assistance Force to something close to the International Training, Advisory and Assistance Mission in 2015.That mission would also likely include continued counterterrorism efforts by the U.S. Top Stories Sponsored Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Comments   Share   Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Associated PressBRUSSELS (AP) – The killings of more than 130 U.S. and allied forces by Afghan troops or those dressed like them is not deterring NATO countries from the war in Afghanistan, two senior U.S. defense officials said Tuesday.As NATO defense ministers gather this week, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan will tell worried allies Wednesday what the U.S. is doing to stop the escalating insider attacks. How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

How Asia sees Obamas pivot to the Pacific


first_img Sponsored Stories That has confounded many in Japan, which hosts 52,000 U.S. troops under a treaty signed in 1960 that obliges the U.S. to defend territories under Japanese administration. Washington has repeatedly affirmed that includes the isles at the center of the current tensions with China. Tokyo would have preferred at least some moral support to its claim.“It’s strange,” said Kazuhiko Togo, a former senior diplomat who now heads the Institute for World Affairs at Kyoto Sangyo University. “I trust the U.S. as our ally, but we need to address this issue of U.S. `neutrality.’”___MEANWHILE, IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA…Washington took a similarly standoffish stance early this year in the dispute between China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan over the South China Sea islands, believed to be rich in gas and oil and straddling busy shipping routes.The Philippines _ America’s closest ally in that dispute _ eventually pulled its ships out of the hotly contested Scarborough Shoal, but Chinese vessels have remained.Manila-based political analyst Ramon Casiple said the disputes have left America’s allies more aware of their own vulnerabilities and what they can _ or can’t _ expect from the U.S. ___AUSTRALIA: LIVING WITH THE US MARINESAustralia got one of the first waves from the pivot when the U.S. announced last year it would begin rotating up to 2,500 U.S. Marines through the northern city of Darwin. Now the U.S. is seeking access to an Australian navy base south of the western city of Perth and to bombing ranges in the northern Outback.Some experts fear the relationship may be moving too fast.On one hand there is broad support for Australia’s defense relationship with the U.S., so having American Marines was seen as a natural step. But it has also raised concerns that Washington will push for more _ something Australia might not be ready for. After all China is central to Australia’s economy, buying a bulk of its mineral and coal resources.“What worries us is the way in which it seems to confirm that the United States and China are increasingly viewing each other as strategic rivals,” said Hugh White, professor of strategic studies at Australian National University.“We worry about the idea of the U.S.-China relationship becoming more adversarial,” he said. “America wants to remain the dominant power in Asia, and China wants to become the dominant power in Asia. “What the rest of us all want is for neither of them to be the dominant power in Asia.”___AP writers Christopher Bodeen in Beijing, Peter Enav in Taipei, Taiwan, Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, Elaine Kurtenbach in Tokyo, Chris Brummitt in Hanoi, Vietnam, Jocelyn Gecker in Bangkok and Kristen Gelineau in Sydney contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Even so, political scientist Alexander Huang of Taipei’s Tamkang University says Taiwan can play a role in Obama’s pivot _ but only if Washington decides to make a clear commitment.___THE KOREAS: STEALTH OVER SEOUL?Ah, North Korea.It’s got a new leader, about whom, typically, the world knows almost nothing, a nuclear weapons/ballistic missile program that it likes to trot out every so often to raise regional tensions and a belligerent attitude toward the U.S.But Obama has a friend in Seoul.Back in the 1950s, the U.S. fought on Seoul’s side in the Korean War _ and contemplated nuking China before it was over. China still supports the North, and Washington continues to have about 28,500 troops in the South. South Korea also buys about 70 percent of its weapons from the United States, and a big payday for an American company might come soon after Obama’s inauguration, when South Korea is expected to formally announce the winner in a $7.6 billion project to build 60 sophisticated fighter jets.The deal will be South Korea’s biggest-ever weapons procurement. The top contender is believed to be Lockheed Martin’s stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter _ which after a long run of development problems and cost overruns could certainly use a multi-billion dollar boost. Boeing and European aerospace giant EADS are also in the running. As President Barack Obama tours the region to push his year-old pivot to the Pacific policy, the big question on everybody’s mind is how much of a role Washington, with its mighty military and immense diplomatic clout, can play in keeping the Pacific _ well, pacific. Here’s a look at how different countries perceive the U.S. Pacific policy and how it impacts them:___CHINA: HOW NOT TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGONAs far as Beijing is concerned, Obama’s pivot was pulled right out of the old Cold War containment playbook. Afraid of China’s rise, Beijing believes, Washington is trying to enflame new tensions by isolating it and emboldening the countries that China has territorial disputes with, which is just about everybody with whom it shares a border.“Using China’s rise and the `China threat’ theory, the U.S. wants to convince China’s neighbors that the Asia-Pacific needs Washington’s presence and protection in order to `unite’ them to strike a `strategic rebalance’ against China in the region,” security scholar Wang Yusheng wrote recently in the China Daily.It’s a strategy that’s bound to lose, Beijing says. Top Stories Associated PressTOKYO (AP) – A lot has happened in Asia while the United States was off fighting its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and most of it can be summed up in one word _ China. Fueled by China’s amazing growth and the promise of its huge and expanding consumer market, the Asia-Pacific region is now, as experts like to say, the global economy’s center of gravity. Sorry, Europe.But prosperity requires stability. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daycenter_img “America’s treading a very fine line,” Casiple said. “It has to reassure its allies that at the end of the day the U.S. would be there for them.” He added that the U.S. has made it clear it is not willing to risk a major confrontation in which its options would be limited “to either intervene or lose influence.”There is, however, one other thing it might do in the meantime.When U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited Vietnam in June, he hinted the Navy would like access to Cam Ranh, a deep water port facing the contested waters of the South China Sea. Hanoi’s counter-proposal?Lift a ban on selling it lethal weapons.___TAIWAN: LEFT OUT IN THE COLDBest friends forever? Not so much.As China has gotten stronger and more important to the U.S. economy, Washington has become extremely wary of engaging Taiwan as a full security partner _ a big pullback from the 1950s and the 1960s, when the two had a formal defense treaty and the U.S. based thousands of troops on what it considered a _ if not the _ key forward base to keep China at bay.Today, cooperation is limited to some intelligence sharing, the training of Taiwanese air force personnel in the U.S., occasional security consultations and very restricted arms sales _ definitely not the kind of advanced F-16 fighters and diesel submarines the Taiwanese military really wants. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix China sees its rise as inevitable and unstoppable and believes its neighbors will ultimately opt for stronger ties while gradually excluding the U.S. Beijing also views its economic dominance as an unalloyed good. And as it tests out its first aircraft carrier, stealth jets, cyber capabilities and high-tech missiles, it is in an increasingly strong position to deny Washington access to its shores and some key Pacific sea lanes, which could be a problem if Obama’s pivot ever has to go from push to shove.___JAPAN: ALREADY FEELING THE PINCHWithout a doubt, Japan is Washington’s most faithful security partner in the Pacific. And it’s the most pinched by China’s rise.For months, Japan and China have been in an increasingly tense dispute over a group of small, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. The near-constant presence of Chinese ships around them has stretched the Japanese Coast Guard to its limits. Japan’s air force says Chinese surveillance flights in the area have increased significantly.Wary of getting caught up in the volatile brew of nationalism, historical animosity and populist politics that is fueling the flare-up, the U.S. has been careful not to take sides. Instead, it has urged the two countries to work out their problems among themselves, diplomatically. Four benefits of having a wireless security system Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img

US Saudi Arabia announce 5day ceasefire in Yemen soon


first_img RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia and the United States said Thursday a renewable, five-day cease-fire in Yemen’s war would start soon to facilitate aid to millions of civilians in need, if Iran-backed rebels and their allies also agree to stop fighting.At a joint news conference, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom would halt airstrikes in Yemen because it is determined to expand relief assistance to the Yemeni people. Saudi Arabia will provide $274 million in new assistance, he said. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Secretary of State John Kerry said the so-called “humanitarian pause” wouldn’t start for several days, enough time for diplomatic efforts to convince the Houthi rebels and their backers to accept the terms of the deal. He said aid organizations also needed time to coordinate the best strategy for getting food, fuel and medicine into and around the country.The announcement was made after Kerry met King Salman and other top Saudi officials in Riyadh. Kerry praised the king for seeking a peaceful resolution to Yemen’s war and for inviting “all relevant parties” to an upcoming peace conference in Saudi Arabia.Kerry said the cease-fire would mean “no bombing, no shooting” and no repositioning of forces.But he and al-Jubeir insisted the feasibility of the plan depended on the Houthis and the Iranians agreeing to it and not trying to exploit the lull in fighting. They said they would provide an update Friday in Paris, where they will gather with the foreign ministers of other Arab countries.The cease-fire pledge comes as the rebels and supporters of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh consolidate their hold over parts of the southern port city of Aden. The rebels captured the area’s presidential palace, officials said Wednesday, in another sign of their resilience in the face of Saudi-led airstrikes. Yemen had long suffered from desperate poverty, political dysfunction and al-Qaida’s most lethal branch. It became more unstable in recent months as the Houthis, who are Shiite, seized much of the country and chased Yemen’s internationally recognized president into exile. That prompted the Saudis and other Gulf Arab states to intervene. The Saudis also have been backing pro-government forces on the ground trying to fight back against the Houthis.Kerry met earlier Thursday in the Saudi capital with Yemen’s exiled president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and his vice president and foreign minister.“Hopefully we’ll see you in Sanaa soon,” Hadi told the top American diplomat. Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, is controlled by the Houthis.“Ah,” Kerry replied, “there’s some work to do.”More strikes by the Saudi-led coalition throughout the country Wednesday killed dozens of rebels, according to security officials. But the mission has shown no sign of achieving its ultimate objectives or pushing the Houthis out of population centers and restoring Hadi’s government.The U.N. says at least 646 civilians have been killed since the start of the bombing campaign March 26. Some 300,000 have been uprooted from their homes. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at Riyadh Air Base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, traveling from Djibouti, Djibouti, Wednesday, May 6, 2015, to push Saudi officials for a pause in Yemen’s war, citing increased shortages of food, fuel and medicine that are adding to a crisis that already has neighboring countries bracing for a mass exodus of refugees. Kerry is also visiting Sri Lanka, Somalia, France, and Djibouti on his trip. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool) Top Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

Solo flight in solar plane sets off on longest leg to Hawaii


first_imgBEIJING (AP) — A Swiss pilot of a solar plane on Sunday embarked on the longest leg of the first attempt to fly around the world without a drop of fuel.Andr Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img Comments   Share   Parents, stop beating yourself up Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Sponsored Stories last_img read more

Watchdog IRS at risk for unfairly auditing political groups


first_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Also, supervisors don’t always document whether they have approved audits, or decisions to cancel audits, the report said.___Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephenatapCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. “We are continuing the work begun in 2013 to ensure that the management mistakes made in regard to the determination process for tax-exempt status do not happen again,” Koskinen told the subcommittee.In 2014, the IRS completed a little more than 8,000 audits of tax-exempt groups.About half were chosen because IRS computers detected potential problems on their annual filings. Tax-exempt groups don’t file tax returns. But those with receipts of more than $50,000 must file a form that details their revenues, liabilities and program activities. Smaller groups have to file a postcard.Others groups were selected as part of compliance projects in which the IRS studied types of groups or activities that might be at risk for tax evasion.More than 1,600 were selected based on referrals or complaints from the public, IRS employees and other government agencies.The referrals go to specialists, who either recommend an audit or dismiss them. Referrals that deal with political activities, churches or high-profile organizations that have attracted media attention are also reviewed by three-person panels.IRS procedures are designed to prevent individual employees from unfairly selecting groups for an audit, based on inappropriate criteria. However, the GAO report found: “Staff are not required to obtain executive management approval to deviate from these procedures.” Sponsored Stories FILE – In this photo March 22, 2013 file photo, the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington. A government watchdog says lax oversight at the IRS increases the risk that political and religious groups could be unfairly targeted for audits. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) Top Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Comments   Share   4 must play golf courses in Arizona There are 1.6 million tax-exempt groups in the U.S., according to the GAO report. Fewer than 1 percent are audited each year, a process that can be costly and time-consuming for both the IRS and the group being audited.“We first learned the IRS was unfairly singling out conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status,” said Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee.“This report exposes a new and more egregious frontier of potential targeting in the agency’s audit selection process,” Roskam said.Roskam’s subcommittee held a hearing on the GAO report Thursday. At the hearing, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen noted that the GAO found no evidence that any group had been improperly selected for audit. Koskinen said the IRS hired someone from outside the agency in 2013 who reviewed the audit selection criteria for the entire IRS.“He spent several months looking at the criteria used by more than 350 IRS compliance programs, and found no evidence of bias in any of them,” Koskinen said.The IRS acknowledged in 2013 that agents had improperly singled out tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. The revelation led to ongoing investigations by Congress, the Department of Justice and the agency’s inspector general. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies WASHINGTON (AP) — Lax oversight at the IRS increases the risk that political and religious groups could be unfairly targeted for audits, government investigators say in a report that raises concerns about an IRS division that has been under scrutiny for singling out conservative organizations.The Government Accountability Office found no evidence that agents improperly audited any groups. But a new GAO report released Thursday says poor oversight increases the risk that agents could select tax-exempt groups for audits based on their religious, educational or political views. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technologylast_img read more

Thailand honoured as the Golf destination of the Year


first_imgGolf and travel industry experts have singled out Thailand as Asia’s premier golf and holiday destination. “The land of smiles” was awarded the title of ‘Golf Destination of the Year” for Asia & Australasia by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO).The award was recieved at the International Golf Travel Market conference and trade show in Malaga, Spain, in November 2009. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/29375/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

Agents urged to become Jordan specialists


first_imgClick here for more information. Jordan Tourism Board has launched a new Online Specialist Programme, designed to increase travel trade knowledge, capability and sales of Jordan. Australian tourism into Jordan has become increasingly important over the past year, particularly after Australian numbers have sustained growth to the destination since September last year. After successfully completing each module, individuals will receive the Jordan Specialist accreditation and be encouraged to utilise the information. Unveiled this week, academy.visitjordan.com is made up of a variety of modules, which provide in-depth information about Jordan and its offerings including flights, things to do, currencies, visas and weather. Source = ETB News: NJ Online Specialist Programme to help sell Jordan.last_img read more

2014 a strong year for Asia Pacific Airlines


first_imgThe Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) released preliminary figures for 2014 today, and the results showed healthy growth in international air passenger demand across the board.A total of 256.1 million international passengers flew on the region’s carriers in 2014, representing an annual increase of 4.8 per cent from the previous year.There was also an upsurge in exports from manufacturing hubs in the region led to a rebound in international air cargo markets in 2014.AAPA director general Andrew Herdman, said that despite challenges, Asia Pacific airlines enjoyed a year of good growth in international passenger traffic in 2014.“Passenger demand was healthy, underpinned by increasing numbers of middle income earners and further expansion in airline networks, which have all helped boost air travel within the region and beyond,” Mr Herdman said.Looking ahead for 2015 Mr Herdman said that the outlook remains broadly positive.“With sustained growth in the global economy continuing to drive air travel demand, and lower oil prices will also help to keep air travel affordable. However, airlines will need to closely monitor market movements, and align future capacity increases with the actual increase in demand, whilst seeking further operating efficiencies to restore margins to more sustainable levels.”Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

Sheraton Phuket Grand Bay Resort to open in Thailand


first_imgStarwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) has announced the signing of an agreement with Grand Bay Hotel Co., Ltd., wholly owned by Apex Development Public Co., Ltd, to unveil the Sheraton Phuket Grand Bay Resort.Slated to open in January 2019 on Thailand’s largest island, the hotel will support the brand’s Sheraton 2020 goal of adding 150 hotels in the next five years.“We look forward to partnering with Grand Bay Hotel Co., Ltd. to expand Starwood’s robust footprint in Thailand,” said Rajit Sukumaran, Senior Vice President for Acquisitions and Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts.“With its idyllic beaches and lush rainforests, Phuket draws an unwavering number of inbound and domestic travelers, making it a strategic market for Sheraton and further driving formidable growth for Starwood in Asia Pacific.”Boasting a private beachfront and hillside location with unobstructed views of the sparkling Andaman Sea, the 200-room resort will feature all of the Sheraton brand’s signature offerings, ranging from a premium sleep experience and rejuvenating bath amenities to a grandiose lobby area and bar serving the brand’s new bar menu PairedSM, comprised of small plates served alongside local craft beer and premium wine.On-site facilities will include three distinctive dining venues, 1,326 square meters of meeting and event space, a luxurious spa, fully-equipped fitness center and picturesque outdoor swimming pool.“We are delighted to partner with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and we are confident that our respective strengths will steer this project toward success, elevating the hospitality offerings in Phuket with the iconic and globally renowned Sheraton brand,” said Pongphan Sampawakoop, CEO of Grand Bay Hotel Co., Ltd.Sheraton Phuket Grand Bay Resort is located in northeast Phuket in the Grand Bay area, home to the Ao Po Grand Marina. The hotel is an approximate 25-minute drive from Phuket International Airport and an hour’s drive to Patong, the hub of entertainment on the island.Sheraton Phuket Grand Bay Resort will join Starwood’s dynamic Thai portfolio, which includes 22 properties operating under eight of the company’s distinct global brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W® Hotels, Sheraton, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Aloft® and Four Points® by Sheraton.Starwood currently operates five Sheraton hotels in Thailand, including Sheraton Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers; Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa; Sheraton Hua Hin Pranburi Villas; Sheraton Samui Resort; and Sheraton Pattaya Resort. The brand’s development pipeline also includes Sheraton Phuket Kalim Beach Resort, which is slated to open in 2018. Sheraton Hotels & ResortsSource = Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.last_img read more

How lucrative running your own business with Travel Counsellors can be


first_imgHow lucrative running your own business with Travel Counsellors can be Nadine Kutz – Travel CounsellorHow lucrative running your own business with Travel Counsellors can beNadine Kutz of Queensland recently reached a sales milestone worth celebrating when she hit $30 million in total sales since she joined Travel Counsellors. Starting her business with Travel Counsellors in July 2010, the mother of two has achieved the coveted Travel Counsellors Gold Status for each year she has been running her business yet it’s her phenomenal sales results that have put her in the spotlight recently.“I was initially drawn to Travel Counsellors because I wanted a travel role that enabled me to explore my earning potential while being there for my family. Office and retail-based travel roles don’t usually afford much freedom or flexibility when it comes to the hours you work, so I loved the idea of running my own home-based enterprise for this reason,” explains Nadine. “I really enjoy running my own business with the assistance and support of Travel Counsellors. With the head office team taking care of most of the marketing, administrative and technological aspects of the business, I am free to focus on my clients.”Not one to become complacent, Nadine is always looking for new ways to improve her business, find new customers and increase her sales. “While increasing my total sales each year is a wonderful achievement, I’m very pleased that my margin is also continually increasing. This means my earnings are also growing in value each year,” says Nadine. “Apart from reaching a pretty significant sales milestone, what makes me really happy is that I’m able to work in a way that allows me to be there for my family.”Fred van Eijk, Interim Managing Director of Travel Counsellors Australia comments, “Nadine’s ongoing success is a prime example of the wonderful things that can happen when experienced travel agents join Travel Counsellors. Year after year Nadine has consistently grown her business thanks to her excellent work ethic, can-do attitude and innovative approach. At Travel Counsellors, we focus on empowering travel agents to reach their full potential, earn what they’re worth and achieve a good work/life balance at the same time. Nadine’s recent sales milestone is a great reminder of how far agents can go with Travel Counsellors. The possibilities are truly endless.”About Travel CounsellorsTravel Counsellors Australia was established in 2007 and currently has nearly 150 Travel Counsellors. Our head office in Australia is in Melbourne. Travel Counsellors Australia is accredited with ATAS. Travel Counsellors is the world’s largest home-based travel company. Founded in 1994 it currently has 1,646 travel consultants who work from home with the support of over 350 staff at the company’s UK headquarters and overseas offices. The company operates in Australia, UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa, UAE and Belgium.Source = Travel Counsellors – Australialast_img read more

Hong Kong a hit with Sydney and Melbourne Trade


first_imgHong Kong a hit with Sydney and Melbourne Trade150 travel trade professionals were given the Hong Kong star treatment late last month when representatives from the destination rolled into the two cities to provide product updates.The Hong Kong Tourism Board, Cathay Pacific Airways and The Murray Hotel teamed up for the Sydney event which was held on 14 November at The Establishment. A Melbourne event then followed on 22 November, held at the Red Spice QV and in partnership with Cathay Pacific Airways.Updates at both events included Cathay Pacific Airways’ new A350 aircraft deployment into Sydney as well as developments at one of Hong Kong’s newest five star hotels, The Murray.Congratulations to the prize winners – Chris Bellmon from Travel Associates Rose Bay won two Cathay Pacific Airways economy return tickets to Hong Kong and three nights’ accommodation at The Murray at the Sydney event, and Felicity Moss from Jigsaw Travel won two economy return airfares to Hong Kong  at the Melbourne event.HKTB’s trade marketing and business tourism manager, Lisa Lee said face-to-face contact with the Australian travel trade remains a vital element to the HKTB trade strategy.“Both events were fantastic opportunities to catch-up with our destination ambassadors and provide them with in-depth and informative product updates on all things Hong Kong, including our exciting new transportation links, Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macau Bridge and Hong Kong’s High Speed Railway.”Source = Hong Kong Tourism Boardlast_img read more

Government of Tanzania is open for discussion on tourism VAT


first_imgThe government of Tanzania has announced its willingness to interact with tourism industry players to find out the reason behind their disapproval of value added tax (VAT) on tourism products.Concerns voiced by tour operators were ‘discussable’, said Prof Jumanne Maghembe, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism. The government has however not declared any decision of waiving the tax that has been ever since its implementation.Tour operators are of the opinion that tax would have an adverse affect on tourism, an industry that is the chief foreign exchange earner for the country. There might be a decline in the tourist arrivals, fears the players.The government is now ready to sit down and discuss the matter with tour operators, who have been more vocal against the tax than other players in the industry.last_img read more

UNWTO records five percent rise in international tourism in JanuaryApril


first_imgThe UNWTO World Tourism Barometer has revealed a five percent rise in international tourist arrivals between January and April 2016. The prospect for May-August is also positive with around 500 million tourists projected to have travelled abroad in the Northern Hemisphere in the summer holiday peak season.Destinations worldwide received 348 million international tourists (overnight visitors) between January and April 2016, that is, around 18 million more than the same period last year (+5.3%). This follows an increase of 4.6% in 2015, and could make 2016 the seventh consecutive year of above-average growth, with international arrivals increasing by 4% or more every year following the crisis in 2009.“Results show a strong desire to travel and this continues to drive tourism growth. Destinations keep benefitting from solid demand across all world regions despite ongoing challenges, showing that tourism is a dynamic and resilient economic sector,” said Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, UNWTO.By region, Asia and the Pacific (+9%) recorded the highest increase in international arrivals, with all Asian subregions enjoying a growth of seven percent or above. By subregion, Subsaharan Africa (+13%) led growth, strongly rebounding from previous years’ modest results.UNWTO forecasts international tourist arrivals to increase by 3.5% to 4.5% over the full year 2016, in line with UNWTO’s long-term projection of 3.8% growth a year for the period 2010 to 2020.last_img read more

Political Tensions Alive at Cordray Hearing


first_img A confirmation hearing for “”Consumer Financial Protection Bureau””:http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB) director-nominee Richard Cordray largely went as expected for the “”Senate Banking Committee””:http://banking.senate.gov/public/ Tuesday, with Democratic members defending the federal agency and Republicans heaping criticism on it. Lingering tensions found their way into exchanges between lawmakers from both parties, in and outside the committee room.[IMAGE]For his part, Cordray used his opportunity before the committee to downplay the array of rule-making authority and supervisory abilities for which the CFPB is responsible.Reading from a “”prepared statement””:http://banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=34fb5952-05b5-409f-801a-d9471615ff3c, he said that his experience as Ohio attorney general offered up the idea that “”lawsuits can be a very slow, wasteful, and needlessly acrimonious way to resolve a problem.””He pledged to “”judiciously”” deploy the CFPB’s powers by first attempting to resolve compliance disputes outside of the litigation process.Cordray went on to say that “”enforcement… will still have an important role at the Consumer Bureau. If people are ignoring or evading consumer protections laws ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and seeking to gain an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô then litigation is an essential tool.””[COLUMN_BREAK]The committee hearing played the part of another forum in which lawmakers found reason to fight each other over the controversial nomination process, from which “”President Barack Obama””:http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/president-obama ejected CFPB architect Elizabeth Warren in July.””MSNBC””:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44413026/ns/business-consumer_news/ quoted “”Sen. Richard Shelby””:http://shelby.senate.gov/public/ (R-Alabama) as describing the bureau’s director as one that is too powerful for any one federal agency, saying in his opening statement that “”government should be accountable to the people.””Committee chairman “”Sen. Tim Johnson””:http://johnson.senate.gov/public/ (D-South Dakota) fired back by calling Republican measures “”political gamesmanship”” that prevents “”Americans from receiving the consumer protections they deserve.””More recently, outside the committee room, “”Rep. Barney Frank””:http://www.house.gov/frank/ (D-Massachusetts) published a “”_Washington Post_””:http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-senate-refuses-to-consider-obama-nominees/2011/09/01/gIQA2AkJvJ_story.html column criticizing 44 Republican colleagues for their avowed opposition to any CFPB director-nominee, calling their measures ones that “”blatantly distort… the Constitution, substituting a refusal to allow the constitutionally mandated nomination process for the legislative process in which they [Republicans] simply do not have the votes to accomplish what they want.””Speaking to _MReport_, Mark Calabria, director of financial regulation studies with the “”Cato Institute””:http://www.cato.org/, says “”it is incredibly hard for me to see them letting this guy move forward.”” He adds that the decision to confirm or not will “”be along party lines, and the question will be whether they want to devote any time.””He says that he believes Cordray will leverage his media attention as CFPB director-nominee to return for election to higher office in Ohio.He calls Cordray a “”perennial candidate,”” and says that he has no doubt that “”he’ll be back running for office in Ohio sometime soon.”” Share Political Tensions Alive at Cordray Hearing September 6, 2011 473 Views center_img in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Elizabeth Warren Lenders & Servicers Processing Richard Cordray Service Providers The Cato Institute 2011-09-06 Ryan Schuettelast_img read more

NeighborWorks America Elects New Board Chairman


first_imgNeighborWorks America Elects New Board Chairman in Featured, News July 8, 2016 486 Views Grovetta GardineerNeighborWorks America elected Grovetta Gardineer as their board chairman. This appointment is effective as of June 28, 2016, according to the announcement from the company.Gardineer is the successor to Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry, who had been the chairman since March 2014. During his tenure, Curry led the corporation as it managed and invested stakeholder funds that resulted in more than $27 billion of investment over the past five years in communities across the United States by the NeighborWorks network.Before being elected as board chairman, Gardineer served as vice chairman of the board from December 2013 through March 2014 and chairman from June 2005 to April 2012. NeighborWorks America’s board consists of the heads of the financial regulatory agencies and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or their statutorily designated representatives.“All of us at NeighborWorks are honored and excited to have Grovetta lead the board of directors and help guide the organization as it begins a new five-year strategic plan,” said Paul Weech, NeighborWorks America president and CEO. “Her experience and commitment to community development and operational excellence will enhance the corporation’s ability to meet its mission and help every community be a place of opportunity.”In this role, Gardineer will provide strategic leadership and oversight in support of NeighborWorks America’s mission to create economic opportunities, further the ability of people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives, and strengthen communities.“It is a tremendous honor to chair an organization with such an important mission of enabling quality and affordable rental housing and homeownership,” Gardineer said. “Through education, access and empowerment, NeighborWorks strengthens the foundations of communities and enriches individuals’ lives throughout our nation.”center_img Share Neighborworks America OCC 2016-07-08 Seth Welbornlast_img read more

Camino de Santiagoguidewalks


first_imgCamino de Santiagoguidewalks UTracks has published a handy new quick reference guide to the Camino de Santiago, available in print and online, to help agents plan the right Camino experience for their clients.The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of Saint James, is the name used to refer to all the routes that lead to where the apostle Saint James is said to be buried. It has been one of the most important Christian pilgrimages for more than 1,000 years.“Each year around 200,000 people, from all walks of life, embark on a journey along part or all of the Camino de Santiago,” says UTracks’ Camino expert, Jaclyn Lofts, who has walked the full Spanish Camino (all 790km kilometres of it!).“They all do different trails; that span France, Spain and Portugal. Some of them cycle, but most tend to walk.”Lofts has also walked sections of the Portuguese Camino, and has presented Camino walking and cycling information nights at countless venues around the world.“While there is a myriad of ways to walk ‘The Way’, when it comes to planning their journey, most prospective pilgrims ask travel consultants the same questions.“What is the Camino? Why are there so many routes? Which one should I do? When should I go? How fit do I have to be?” she says.The UTracks Quick Reference Guide to the Camino de Santiago is available at utracks.com or call 1300 303 368 to order a print version.last_img read more

agentsRail Expert Training Program trainingRail P


first_imgagentsRail Expert Training Program. trainingRail Pus Over 300 travel agents across Australia and New Zealand have graduated with flying colours from this year’s Rail Expert training program, with an elite group of consultants also securing themselves spots on an unforgettable rail famil across Europe.The 2017 Rail Expert program required travel agents to complete a total of 10 modules, the majority of which focused on some of Europe’s most popular rail networks, including TGV France, Swiss Travel System and Eurail. For the first time, the training initiative was supported by all of Rail Europe’s Australian distribution partners – Infinity Rail, Rail Tickets and Rail Plus.The top two graduates from four regions across Australia won places on the European famil, with this year’s winners including:· VIC/TAS – Garrath Ridd (Helloworld) and James Hughes (Flight Centre)· NSW/ACT – Lela Hopkins (Helloworld) and Telisha Kelso (Flight Centre)· QLD/NT– Brenda Simon (Helloworld) and Brad Sward (Flight Centre)· SA/WA – Caitlin Byrne (Flight Centre) and Katrina Miragliotta (Helloworld)The top scorer for each of the 10 training modules also won a $100 VISA gift card, while every travel agent who qualified received a certificate and an ‘I’m a Rail Expert’ banner for their email signature.Rail Plus Commercial Director Ingrid Kocijan says that the number of graduates emerging from this year’s program shows that consultants understand the benefits that flow from ongoing training and education.“Knowledge provides a commercial edge on competitors and is the key to delivering outstanding customer service. This is particularly true when it comes to areas such as rail, where networks and products are continually evolving.“As with all quality training initiatives, this year’s Rail Expert program required focus and skill to complete, so well done to everyone who took part and congratulations to all of this year’s worthy graduates.”Agents are reminded that Rail Europe tickets are distributed via Rail Plus, Rail Tickets and Infinity Rail in Australia (Rail Plus in New Zealand). See =raileurope.fr/wheretobuy for more details.IMAGE: Off on an exclusive European rail famil: Rail Expert graduate Brenda Simon with Rail Plus’ Brisbane-based Account Manager Larry Burrows.last_img read more

PTMsTravelManagers


first_imgPTMsTravelManagers The arrival of three new personal travel managers (PTMs) has boosted the total number of PTMs past 550 for the first time in the company’s 12 year history.Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal, says it’s taken just eighteen months to grow from 500 to 550 PTMs: an achievement which he accredits to the company’s excellence in providing support in the form of product training, technology support, accounts and business mentoring. “The strongest endorsements for our business model are the rate at which we’ve grown the number of PTMs and the fact that we have a number of long-serving PTMs who have been with us since the beginning.”The three new PTMs together have more than 50 years’ travel industry experience between them. Coupled with the intensive, three-day induction programme at the National Partnership Office (NPO) in Sydney which they have just completed, Gazal says all three are now ready to hit the ground running and are excited about the opportunities offered by their new business ventures.Caroline Rutherford joins TravelManagers as representative for Forestville, NSW, Elaine Taylor, joins as representative for Bethania, QLD, and Stacey Farnham joins as representative for Mount Duneed VIC.IMAGE:TravelManagers’ Michael Gazallast_img read more