Costa Rica medical tourism summit around the corner

first_imgMore than 250 businesses from 15 countries will gather April 24-26 in Playa Herradura, on the central Pacific coast, for the fourth annual International Medical Tourism Conference. The summit, which was introduced Wednesday morning at the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), will feature speakers, presentations and workshops geared toward helping develop the industry.“The medical tourism industry is experiencing important development, and this conference, as the largest event of its kind in Latin America, is a clear example of how Costa Rica is a leader in this field,” said Jorge Cortés, president of the Council for International Promotion of Costa Rican Medicine (PROMED).With rising health-care costs in developed countries, Costa Rica has become a hotspot for North Americans looking for a cheaper alternative for expensive medical procedures. According to the Medical Tourism Corporation, procedures are generally between 50-70 percent cheaper in Costa Rica than in the United States, often allowing tourists to pay for the procedure, flight and a vacation while still saving money.In 2011, 48,000 medical tourists visited Costa Rica, the ICT estimates. Each spent an average of $7,000 while in the country. The ICT and PROMED have set a goal of 100,000 medical tourists annually, for a total of $800 million of revenue in 2013.This year the conference will focus on three areas: expanding medical tourism outside the Central Valley, finding new medical niches to draw more patients and forming new medical alliances. Rural medical tourismMuch of Costa Rica’s medical infrastructure is predictably located near San José, where more than half the country’s population resides. But in a nation full of beautiful beaches and rain forests, few tourists find spending all their time in the city ideal.For the first time, this year’s conference will be held outside the Central Valley to encourage medical tourism development in other regions.“We want the benefits of this type of tourism to expand to other sectors as well,” Tourism Minister Allan Flores said. “We are finding ways for these benefits to extend to the entire country.” Opening new marketsThis month’s conference will also explore new, complex and experimental medical treatments. Topics include transplants, regenerative therapy, orthopedics, jaw implants and wellness programs.The summit also will explore ideas to expand patient bases in Canada and Europe, where medical tourism is less popular than in the U.S.“As a country we need to continue working on international promotion and on the preparation of our medical providers,” Cortés said. “This congress is a unique opportunity to market our health and tourism services.”International alliancesPROMED and health-care providers in Costa Rica have linked up with international health insurance companies to make medical procedures more affordable. Currently CIGNA, Michelin and the BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma and Kansas have signed on to include certain Costa Rican providers in their plans.For more information or to register, see: www.themedicaltravelsummit.com. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Kenya mall attack death toll may rise in search for bodies

first_imgNAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan security forces expect to find the bodies of more gunmen who killed at least 67 civilians and security personnel and seized an unknown number of hostages in an attack on the Westgate Mall, the government said.Kenyan forensic investigators at the scene of the raid are being assisted by experts from Israel, the U.S., Germany, Canada and Britain in a probe that’s expected to last at least seven days, Interior Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku said Wednesday. The investigation will look into reports that planners rented a shop in the mall before the attack was carried out and that at least one of the assailants may have been female, he said.“We are convinced that there will be insignificant if any bodies holed up there except for the terrorists,” Ole Lenku told reporters in Nairobi, the capital. Five of as many as 15 gunmen involved in the attack have been confirmed dead, he said.The death toll from the four-day assault is the worst since al-Qaida bombed the U.S. Embassy in downtown Nairobi in August 1998, killing 213 people. Al-Shabaab, the Somali-based Islamist militia that claimed responsibility for the Sept. 21 raid, had threatened to strike after Kenya deployed troops in Somalia in October 2011 to fight the militants, blaming them for a series of kidnappings and the murder of a British tourist in Kenya. The al-Qaida-affiliated group denied the accusations.Three floors in the building collapsed during the attack, leaving an unknown number of bodies buried beneath the rubble, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Tuesday. Kenyan security forces used armored vehicles and weapons including heavy machine guns to end the assault. The Kenya Red Cross said Wednesday that 71 people are missing in the attack as of Tuesday.Al-Shabaab claimed on its Twitter account Wednesday that Kenyan forces demolished part of the building and were “culpable” for the lives of 137 hostages. Interior Ministry Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo declined to comment when asked about that figure.There is “increased public anxiety on account of missing persons, the disruption caused by the continued crisis and inadequate information flow,” it said. Ole Lenku didn’t say how many people are still missing.Kenya’s relative stability in a volatile region has attracted companies including Toyota, IBM, General Electric and Google to set up bases in the East African nation. The United Nations’ African headquarters are also in Nairobi.East Africa’s largest economy will stick to its plan to seek about $1.5 billion from its debut Eurobond issue by December and the outlook for economic growth is the same as before the attack, which is an “isolated” incident, Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said Tuesday. The state forecasts 5.6 percent expansion in 2013 from 4.6 percent last year.The shilling gained for a second day and has now strengthened 0.2 percent since the day before the attack to 87.20 per dollar. The Nairobi Securities Exchange’s FTSE NSE 25 Index has gained 0.4 percent over the same period to its highest level in five weeks.The attack began around lunchtime on Sept. 21 when as many as 15 gunmen entered the upscale mall in Nairobi, throwing hand grenades, firing automatic weapons and forcing panicked patrons to flee the building or hide inside the more than 80 shops in the complex. The government said more than 1,000 people were rescued.More gunfire rang out Tuesday night and Wednesday, which the government said was the result of security forces firing to protect themselves as they entered new areas while doing a final sweep of the building, the Associated Press reported.Investigators are still trying to confirm the nationalities of the attackers, Ole Lenku said. Kenyan Foreign Secretary Amina Mohamed told PBS’s “NewsHour” on Monday that two or three Americans and a female British citizen participated in the attack. A British national has been arrested in Kenya, according to a statement emailed on Wednesday by the U.K. Foreign Office.African leaders remain committed to continue battling al- Shabaab’s forces in Somalia, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council said in a statement on its website Wednesday.The continental body will “continue its efforts in Somalia, in order to rid the country and the region of terrorist and criminal groups, and bring about lasting peace, security and stability in Somalia,” it said.Al-Shabaab has been fighting Somalia’s government since at least 2006. The militant group claimed responsibility in July 2010 for coordinated bomb attacks in neighboring Uganda that killed 76 people watching the soccer World Cup final at two venues. Al-Shabaab said it targeted Uganda because the country had troops serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia.Kenyatta, in a nationally televised address on Tuesday, thanked foreign leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, for their support during the ordeal and praised Kenyans for providing help to the victims. Citizens from the U.K., India, France, Canada, South Africa, China and Ghana are among the dead.“Terrorism is a global problem that requires global solutions,” said Kenyatta, who lost his nephew in the attack. “Kenya will stand with our friends in tackling terrorism and I ask our friends to stand with us.”With assistance from Eric Ombok in Nairobi, Kenya, Thomas Penny in London and William Davison in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.© 2013, Bloomberg News Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Café Rojo and Libros Duluoz make the perfect pair in Barrio Amón

first_imgRelated posts:4th of July Picnic, Pride Parade, Calypso Festival, and other happenings around Costa Rica Lonely Planet guide documents a changing Central America Valentine’s Day, lyrical boleros, and other happenings around Costa Rica Spanish metal band, folkloric dance show, and other happenings around Costa Rica Facebook Comments Café Rojo is cute. The red sign hanging from the iron gate is cute. The one-room dining room is cute. Slatted wood tables out front are cute. The waitstaff and cooks are cute. Even the place settings, with their simple-elegant plates and carafes of water stuffed with mint, gush with cuteness. But it’s not the kind of cute that makes you gag. It is not saccharine or twee. Café Rojo occupies an old building in Barrio Amón, and the vintage windows and trim give the place a distinguished atmosphere. Rather, Café Rojo is fun – like a shy girl from Tacoma who plays vinyl records and rides a 1970s Schwinn.Describing itself as a “cafetería,” Café Rojo has a rotating menu printed on a single piece of xerox paper, and for such a classy bistro, the daily lunch deal is actually a deal: You can order one entrée, plus a soup or salad, plus a hot or fruit drink, for under ₡5,000 ($10). Unlike your corner soda, the menu is wide-ranging and gourmet. You would be hard-pressed to find a better platter of Pad Thai or Vietnamese bowl for the price. You complement these scrumptious meals with a variety of coffees and even hibiscus tea.What really sells Café Rojo is the atmosphere, an urban-indie feel that manages to dodge pretention. You can share space with scruffy youths with skinny jeans and chain wallets and not feel out of your element. The music that plays from surrounding speakers is the stuff of old crooners. The staff smiles hospitably. The place is oddly located on a nondescript side street in Barrio Amón, so it feels like a secret, even thought it has stood there for a few years. During a workday lunch, the place isn’t clogged with trendy fans, a risk that such places often run. Robert Isenberg/The Tico TimesAcross the corridor from the café you’ll find Rojo’s perfect neighbor, a tiny bookstore called Libros Duluoz. Also occupying a single room, Duluoz is snugly packed with shelves and (mostly) Spanish-language books. San José has a lively but microscopic literary scene, so it’s a relief to find a book stall that avidly sells local authors: You’ll find small-press volumes and zines, art books and lit mags, plus reissued and hard-to-find titles that only zealots would appreciate. Small as it is, Duluoz caters to book lovers. A true bibliophile could browse its selection for hours.Folks are always talking about the up-and-coming nature of Barrio Amón, citing venues like AmonSolar and TEOR/éTica Gallery as signs of progressive development. These are indeed great places to frequent, and their staff are doing amazing things. But Café Rojo and Libros Duluoz are quieter signs. Here, you can feel proud to wear glasses. And the inventive sandwiches? The textured soups? That rare copy of Mario Levrero’s “La Ciudad,” standing temptingly on the shelf? Not just cute. Irresistible.Café Rojo is located in Barrio Amón, downtown San José. Tue.-Sun., 12-7 p.m. Info: Company Facebook page. Libros Duluoz: Mon.-Thu., 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 1-7:30 p.m. Info: Bookstore Facebook page.last_img read more

Costa Rica calls for 100 countries to ban cluster bombs

first_imgRelated posts:Obama: Expand effort against Islamic State Fleeing war, Syrians find refuge in Latin America World leaders map out plan to solve Syria crisis through negotiations Elena Poniatowska: Mexican student massacre reminiscent of concentration camps Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel González marked the sixth anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions by setting a goal for 100 countries to approve a treaty banning cluster bombs in advance of a 2015 meeting in Croatia, in astatement from the ministry on Wednesday. As of December, 88 countries have become party to the treaty.“Costa Rica, as the president of the convention, and with the support of Ecuador and Norway, has decided to call on signatory countries and those who are not yet part of the Convention to redouble their efforts during the First Review Conference, so that we can tell the world that 100 countries have decided together to say never again to cluster munitions,” González said.The convention was signed in Oslo on Dec. 3, 2008, and went into force in August 2010. Joining the convention means that countries promise not to produce, store, sell or use cluster bombs and destroy any preexisting arsenals. Cluster munitions are explosives dropped from planes or launched from the ground that release smaller submunitions across a board area. The bombs have been singled out for their indiscriminate attacks that could injury or kill civilians below. The bombs are being used in the ongoing Syrian conflict and were used in the Vietnam War, among several other conflicts, according to the Cluster Munition Coalition.Central America became the first region in the world free of the deadly munitions after Belize adopted the treaty in September. The United States is neither signatory nor party to the convention. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Dam the Pacuare Over Turrialbas dead body

first_img Facebook Comments TURRIALBA, Cartago — It was the appropriately-named Rodeo rapid of the Pacuare River where the raft bucked my colleague Alberto Font into the air so violently I thought he would fly overboard, but instead he collided with the woman paddling to his right and collapsed in a heap in the bottom of the boat.“I thought we lost you,” I said to Beto, The Tico Times’ photographer, when we reached stiller waters.“I thought so, too,” Beto said. “I thought I was in the water, with her!” He laughed and switched to Spanish and told everyone there was so much water and air and boat that he didn’t know which way was up or which element he was in. Rafters new to the Pacuare River enjoy the ride – but notice how hard the man in back is working. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesIt was all in a day’s fun on a fabulous float down the famous Pacuare, but the occasion for this merriment, like the skies overhead, came with some dark clouds.It was the 10th anniversary of the 2005 plebiscite in the Caribbean slope town of Turrialba that resulted in a 97 percent vote against the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Pacuare River, which is often called one of the greatest whitewater rafting rivers in the world.Yet the winners of this plebiscite believe the Costa Rican Electricity Institute, or ICE, is still plotting to build a dam here, which they say would uproot and disinherit the indigenous Cabécar, pollute a clean, beautiful and world-class river, scare away wildlife, destroy the vital whitewater rafting industry in this region and turn the Pacuare into the next Reventazón, a formerly famous rafting river that critics say was ruined by ICE dams.Who knew?To celebrate the anniversary of the 2005 plebiscite and raise awareness of the consequences of damming wild rivers, Turrialba, located 60 kilometers east of the capital, has organized a two-day festival on Aug. 28 and 29 called JAKÜII/PACUARE+10. (Jaküii is the indigenous Cabécar word for the Pacuare, although some will tell you that Pacuare is also a Cabécar word.)On Friday, a week before this festival, organizers treated a half-dozen journalists to a day of rafting the Pacuare, with a news conference on current efforts to protect the river — most intriguingly, on negotiations to have Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís sign a decree this week removing the Pacuare and Savegre rivers once and for all from the country’s plans for future hydroelectric generation.“We started talking about this since long before the plebiscite, for more than 10 years,” said Osvaldo Durán Castro, the leader of these efforts, who is also a professor at the Technology Institute of Costa Rica in Cartago and an avid rafter. Osvaldo Durán Castro leads a coalition that is negotiating with the government to issue a presidential decree that excludes the Pacuare and Savegre rivers from the country’s hydroelectric generation plans. Alberto Font/The Tico Times“What’s special about this is that for the first time in history, we are sitting down and talking to the government,” he said.Durán said his group first presented its ideas to President Solís and Environment Minister Edgar Gutiérrez last August at Casa Presidencial, and he said they were interested and receptive.“What we’ve done in the past year is negotiate the decree with them,” he said. “And all indications are that we’re going to have a decree next weekend.”His group is meeting this week with the presidency and the Environment Ministry to iron out details in hopes that Solís can sign the decree in Turrialba during the Aug. 28-29 festival.Mind you, that wouldn’t be the end of the battle.“It’s very, very possible that they will come the next weekend and sign the documents, the president and the environment minister,” said Viladys Rivera Reyes, a fellow activist with Durán and a primary organizer of the festival in Turrialba. “But it’s just for 15 years and the next president can revoke it.” Ríos Tropicales is one of the largest rafting companies in Costa Rica, where the most popular float is the Pacuare River. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesAssessing the threatI spent several days reaching out to experts on the Pacuare, and I found that 100 percent of my correspondents were opposed to damming this majestic river, while zero percent were in favor.So with such a large, united and organized opposition to the dam-nation of the Pacuare, who spoke for the adversary they were organizing against?I reached out to ICE with a number of questions and received this response from communications coordinator Adriana Víquez Garita:“We recommend that you explore this matter with the Executive Branch and MINAE,” she wrote, noting that they have taken up the issue. “We (ICE) are respectful of what the authorities decide and we will continue to do what’s necessary to fulfill our mandate established by law: to supply national demand.”In 2009, four years after the plebiscite, ICE pledged that it would impose a 20-year moratorium (until 2029) on any plans to tap the Pacuare’s hydroelectric potential.If President Solís signs the decree next week, and if it stands for 15 years, then the Pacuare is safe until 2030. One of the many waterfalls spilling into Costa Rica’s Pacuare River. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesI said to Durán during the news conference: “If there’s already a plebiscite that says they can’t build a dam here, and besides, in 2009, ICE said it wasn’t going to do anything for 20 years, I’m not sure if I understand the urgency, or if there is a real threat. I’m not sure that ICE really wants to build a dam here.”“I’m going to put it like this,” Durán said. “We won a plebiscite in 2005 with 98 percent of the people, 97 percent of the people saying ‘no, we don’t want dams on the Río Pacuare.’ We won the plebiscite, but that doesn’t mean that ICE has to comply with the plebiscite. The plebiscite is a political act that’s good for us, but ICE doesn’t have the obligation to recognize it. In fact, it has not recognized it.”Durán provided detailed information from ICE demonstrating that Costa Rica’s current power supply well exceeds its demand, arguing that there’s no need to build more dams.But what exactly are ICE’s stated plans for the Pacuare?“At this time,” Durán explained, “ICE’s expansion plan that goes from 2014 to 2035 doesn’t include the projects on the Pacuare, Savegre and [other rivers]. These aren’t included, they say, because they haven’t finished the studies. … But it does clearly say that once they’ve finished their studies, those projects will be put back into the electricity generation plan.”“But they say they aren’t going to do anything until 2029,” I pointed out.“They’ve said a lot of things,” Durán replied. Kayakers often accompany rafting groups to help in case of trouble, but they spend much of their time honing their kayak rodeo skills. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesThe filmmakerDenielle Perry, 37, is a Ph.D. candidate in geography at the University of Oregon who spent years leading rafting tours on the Pacuare and Reventazón and who co-directed a 40-minute documentary that premiered earlier this year called “Troubled Waters: Costa Rica’s Río Pacuare.” Denielle Perry led rafting tours on the Pacuare and Reventazón in the 2000s. (Courtesy of Denielle Perry)“Today, when we have over a century’s worth of environmental and social impacts to look back upon when considering hydropower development, we’ve learned that … it’s quite destructive,” Perry said on a Skype call from Oregon.“ICE is an entity whose entire mandate is to investigate and develop energy resources for the development of Costa Rica,” she said. “So when you look at ICE and its constitutional mandate, which was set up in the 1940s, that’s their raison d’etre, their reason for being.“When you look at a river like the Pacuare, which has year-round water flow and no development, the water is clean, there’s a lot of vertical gain, it’s an ideal river for dam developers. They’re not thinking about rafting or indigenous communities.” A kayaker at the base of a waterfall. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesPerry said ICE’s efforts to dam the Pacuare have a long history.“In the 1990s, there were plans to dam at Dos Montañas, near the end of the day stretch, a place with a canyon with two walls, very close together,” she said. “It’s kind of mystic, there’s water falling from the walls and the remnants of ICE’s work in there doing exploratory [studies] … drilling into walls to see what the integrity of that rock structure would be.“It’s considered the most ideal place in the country to build a dam, because the walls are so close together and they’re very tall.”But a magnitude-7.6 earthquake in Limón in 1991 shook part of the cliffs loose and put an end to plans to build at Dos Montañas, Perry said.ICE turned its attention to an area upstream, she said, near Bajo Pacuare, but that only opened up another can of worms.“It would flood out those communities, so there’s real concern about what would happen to the Cabécar people who live there,” she said. “They would just be pushed further into the rain forest, away from their traditional lands.” The Pacuare River is ideal for rafting because of its length, gradient, cleanliness, temperature, scenery – and never-ending rapids, from washboard ripples to Class IVs. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesPerry moved to Costa Rica in 2001 and started a group called Amigos del Río Pacuare. She said after the plebiscite passed in 2005, then-President Abel Pacheco pledged to designate the Río Pacuare a national park.“That’s what we were working toward,” she said. But… “One issue with national parks is when you make something a national park, then the people who have traditionally inhabited that area can’t live there anymore.”Durán said, “We’re not going to ask them to create a national park because it’s very difficult, but the political decision can be made that based on the numbers of electricity generation, this river does not enter into the expansion plan, and this other river doesn’t either.”Perry said she was there when ICE gave notice that it would impose a 20-year moratorium on damming the Pacuare.“The reason why they had the moratorium wasn’t so much that we were fighting against the dams, it’s because there was a series of earthquakes taking place in Costa Rica,” she said. “An earthquake in Sarapiquí breached the dam and sent this wall of water downstream, wiped out trees and covered farms with mud. …“When you build a dam and have an artificial reservoir, that’s a lot of weight, and it can increase tectonic activity,” she said. “My understanding was that this moratorium would give ICE 20 years to do geological investigations about the viability of doing a dam on the Pacuare.” Osvaldo Durán Castro, in red, leader of a coalition seeking to permanently protect the Pacuare from being dammed, lends a hand on a rafting trip for journalists. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesThe rafting company ownerRafael Gallo, 57, was in his late 20s in 1985 when he founded Ríos Tropicales, probably Costa Rica’s most successful rafting company.“Damming the Pacuare would be a big, big, big environmental mistake for Costa Rica,” Gallo said in a telephone call from Florida.“The Pacuare has got the right length, the right gradient, clean water, great vegetation, it’s got wildlife, indigenous population, warm water, one rapid after another,” he said. “It’s got all the qualities you would ask for in commercial rafting or rain forest exploration.”And his company is committed to do its part to save it.“We help any group that would do any intelligent opposition to the project,” he said. “We don’t support any monkey-wrenching, but if it’s intelligent and peaceful, we support that.”The indigenous peopleKerlin Salazar Pérez, a 33-year-old Cabécar man who was invited to come on the rafting trip Friday to talk to the journalists, said his people have long fought ICE’s plans on the Pacuare. Kerlin Salazar Pérez, an indigenous Cabécar, says the threat to the Pacuare is very real. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times“For many years, for more than 20 years they’ve planned a dam on the Pacuare,” he said. “But we’ve put up a very strong fight, and we’ve stopped them a little bit. But then the government changes.”I asked Kerlin about ICE’s pledge in 2009 to do nothing for 20 years.“They said that,” he agreed. “But I know that if we do nothing, if we don’t say anything to them … the people of ICE have a lot of money, a lot of resources to do it, and it’s not something they’re planning right now, it’s something they’ve been planning for many years.”The rafting guideLuis Sánchez Hernández, a rafting guide known as Luigi, recalled the glory days of the Reventazón, when Olympic kayakers and canoers from Europe would go there to train during the European winter. Luis Sánchez Hernández, better known as Luigi, has been a rafting guide for 14 years. Alberto Font/The Tico Times“It was extremely famous,” he said. “They came here and they paddled all day, practicing, training. … People used to come to Turrialba for two months, three months, bringing money into the hotels, bars; a whole economy revolved around that.”Completion of the Angosturas dam in 2000 put an end to all that, and made most commercial rafting companies in Turrialba abandon the Reventazón in favor of the Pacuare.Sánchez said a huge amount of sediment accumulates at the dam, and when they open the gates it kills the fish in the river.“You can see it. There’s so much sediment that it gets stuck in the fish’s gills and chokes them and they die,” he said. “And all that sediment washes downstream, to Tortuguero, to the sea.”The helmsmanOur infallible capitán on a long, rainy day of rafting the Pacuare was Daniel Bustos Araya, 28, who has been a river guide for nine years, since he was 19. Guides, kayakers and friends: Lunch is served. Daniel Bustos Araya, fifth from left, leads rafting, canopy and canyoning tours and does mixed martial arts in his spare time. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesAs we admired the stunning scenery during a four-hour, 21-kilometer float, Bustos kept us on task during the fast stretches, when we had to paddle hard: “¡Adelante! ¡Adelante! ¡Fuerte!”The ultimate distress call was “¡Al suelo!” or “¡Abajo!” — meaning abandon all hope of paddling and get down in the bottom of the boat.Before the larger rapids he would often say, “Buena posición,” meaning we’d better wedge our feet tight because we were coming up on another giant washing machine. I actually developed blisters on my left foot from jamming it into the bottom of the raft so hard.Toward the end of our long float, feeling exhausted and tired of being wet, I heard Bustos urgently shouting, “¡Adelante! ¡Fuerte!” as we plunged into another rapid.I found myself laughing uncontrollably in the middle of this rapid, because the waves were so big I reached out to paddle and found nothing but air, then reached out again and was completely swamped by a giant wave — as if the river were paddling me.“It’s extreme adventure,” said Bustos when we reached quieter water. “It’s safe, but it’s extreme.”Perry, the filmmaker and former rafting guide, said as good as the rafting is here, that’s not her main reason to want to save the river.“In 2001 I had typhoid fever and was given the wrong diagnosis and therefore the wrong treatment. I almost died,” she said. “Sylvia Rodríguez, a Cabécar women featured in the film, made a remedy and hiked out of the Pacuare canyon to the road, then took the bus to my house in Turrialba. This took her the whole day. Her act of kindness and concern for me is what cemented my dedication to help save the Río Pacuare – her home.“It’s not about rapids for me, though they’re great. It’s about humanity.”For more info: http://riopacuarecostarica.orgContact Karl Kahler at kkahler@ticotimes.net. Related posts:Costa Rica’s Solís goes rafting, then bans dams from the Pacuare and Savegre rivers Tamarindo crocodile suspected of attacking surfer will not be relocated Sizeable temblor shakes Costa Rica’s Central Valley UPDATE: Green alert declared as Turrialba Volcano ashfall intensifieslast_img read more

5 questions for a US poet in Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:5 questions for a U.S. painter and writer in Costa Rica 5 questions for a Costa Rican musician and artisan 5 questions for a French-African painter in Costa Rica 5 question for a Costa Rican photographer Facebook Comments “I’ve always read extensively and thought of myself as a writer,” said James Just when asked how he got into the world of poetry. “I have written poetry since I was a young man, but never before had the resources to be able to devote myself to writing.”Just was born in Sacramento, California. After dropping out of law school, he worked in a variety of jobs; he met his wife Irina in Seattle while he was running a wine shop there. The couple moved to southern France, where they lived in a small village surrounded by vineyards; upon their return to the United States, he bought some acreage in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, planted a vineyard, and a few years later began to make wine.Four years ago the couple wanted to make a change and relocated to Costa Rica, where they found a wonderful place to live in El Cajón, Grecia.“I go to my studio to write every morning, work until it’s time for lunch, then go back to my desk after lunch. The window at my desk looks out on the San Luis ridge, covered in coffee and forest, the air filled with butterflies and birds,” Just said. “But I can’t sit at the desk for long, I’m always getting up to play in the garden with the dogs, walk around to see what’s going on around me. A lot of procrastination goes into a few lines of verse.”After moving here, Just finished and published three poetry books: “A Year of Days,” “Sketches of Poás,” and “Meanders.” He also just finished translating the work of Costa Rican poet Rosibel Morera, a task that took Just 11 months. He says he did it because he strongly believes Morera’s poetry must be available in English so a wider audience can experience her work.The Tico Times talked to Just about his life in Costa Rica, his books and his favorite Costa Rican poet. Excerpts follow. James Just is a U.S. writer and poet who moved to Costa Rica few years ago. Here he wrote and published three books. (Courtesy of Irina Just)Why did you move to Costa Rica?Farm life was getting to be too much for us, as was life in the States. So we sold the farm and began thinking about our next adventure. Her job was to tidy up our affairs, mine was to find us a new place to live. When Irina heard that Costa Rica was a stable social democracy with a good universal (well, almost) health care system and no army, our decision was made. The fact that the country is beautiful and the climate terrific didn’t hurt.We moved here a little over four years ago and immediately filed for temporary residency. In a couple of months, we will be filing for permanent residency.I spend my time here writing, studying Spanish, and being with friends. Never before in my life have we had so many good friends, and so close, just a few minutes away, even within walking distance. It’s a wonderful neighborhood, vibrant with life. The view from James Just’s studio overlooking the coffee fields across the canyon (Courtesy of Irina Just)Tell me about your poetry books,One of the books I published last year, “Meanders,” collects what was not lost from my earlier works and ties them into life here in Costa Rica. “A Year of Days” is kind of a journal of a year living here in El Cajón, in poems. “Sketches of Poás” is a collection of shorter poems about life on the slopes of Poás Volcano, focusing on the creatures with whom we share our lives. Each poem is accompanied by an illustration by Gesa Emde, a German artist living in France. James Just”s three published books. (Courtesy of Irina Just)Why did you translate Rosibel Morera’s poems?We have a good Tica friend who lives up the road, who appreciates my work. One evening over dinner we were talking about poetry, and I mentioned that I had never come across any Spanish-language poetry that had really captivated me, as had poetry in German, French, English of course, and, in translation, Chinese and Japanese. She mentioned Rosibel Morera, saying that her sensibility was very similar to mine. Then she loaned me Morera’s book “.” I began to read it and was immediately captivated, but found that understanding it required that I translate the poems painstakingly into English. Ms Morera’s work is really special. It demands to be made available for the English-speaking world. Rosebel Morera’s book of poetry (Courtesy of Irina Just)So she’s your favorite Spanish-language poet?Morera is not only my favorite Costa Rican poet and my favorite poet writing in Spanish, but also one of the handful of poets in any language who have influenced me the most… ranked with such poets as Gary Snyder, Li Po, Po Chü-i, Tu Fu, Basho. Morera’s work is funny, powerful, emotionally honest, rooted in nature. She uses image, never abstraction, and writes in a limber line unlike anything I’ve seen before. She writes of sensuality and sexuality and love, evoking both passion and compassion. Her work is a breath of fresh air.Do you recommend any other authors for those just starting to read in Spanish?I’ve only read a handful, and those in translation: Neruda, Borges, Márquez. I love the short stories of Borges, and the novels of Neruda and Márquez. But I’ve never read them in Spanish.Read more Weekend Arts Spotlight interviews here.If you’re interested in reading Just’s books, contact the writer at ticajust@gmail.com or 8420-7285.Our “Weekend Arts Spotlight” presents Sunday interviews with artists who are from, working in, or inspired by Costa Rica, ranging from writers and actors to dancers and musicians. Do you know of an artist we should consider, whether a long-time favorite or an up-and-comer? Email us at kstanley@ticotimes.net.last_img read more

Tunisian plane destroys 2 vehicles near Libya

first_imgThe Defense Ministry has made no public comment about the incident, which has been widely reported in the Tunisian media.There was no information about the number of victims or the weapons being carried by the vehicles.Since the fall of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime last year, North Africa has been awash with weapons wrested from Libyan arsenals and many are being sold to smugglers and armed militants operating in the unsecured areas of the Sahara.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments Share 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Top Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonacenter_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Associated PressTUNIS, Tunisia (AP) – A pair of Tunisian fighter jets attacked and destroyed two vehicles filled with weapons crossing the desert border from Libya, while a third escaped to Algeria, a Tunisian security official said Thursday.The incident happened Wednesday evening near the triangle shaped no-man’s land in the Sahara desert where the borders of Tunisia, Libya and Algeria converge.The jets were on a routine patrol when they were fired on by the vehicles, which were carrying rocket propelled grenades, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was a matter for the Defense Ministry. Four benefits of having a wireless security system Sponsored Stories last_img read more

Hong Kong Airlines celebrates inaugural flight to Kumamoto Japan

first_imgMonday (14 December 2015) marked the inauguration of Hong Kong Airlines’ twice-weekly direct flight service between Hong Kong and Kumamoto, Japan.To commemorate the official launch of this new route, Hong Kong Airlines and the Kumamoto Prefecture has held grand celebration events at both the Hong Kong International Airport and Aso Kumamoto Airport.KUMAMON, Kumamoto Prefecture Sales Manager, was also one of the officiating guests celebrating the events with gorgeous dance performances.Before departure, every passenger was presented with a bag of souvenirs, including the inaugural flight certificate and Hong Kong Airlines X Kumamoto Prefecture KUMAMON mug, table calendar and paper hat. A KUMAMON standee was also placed at the check-in counter for passengers to take photos in gratitude for their support to the new direct flight to Kumamoto.All passengers and flight crew of the inaugural flight received a warm welcome after the plane touched down at Kumamoto. They were greeted by the Airlines’ local staff, while representatives from Kumamoto Prefectural Government and Tourism Organization gave out memorable Kumamoto souvenirs to mark a fantastic start of their Kyushu journey.At the Aso Kumamoto Airport, a simple yet special inaugural ceremony of ribbon cutting and commemorative souvenirs exchange was officiated by Mr. Ikuo Kabashima, Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture and Mr. Stanley Kan to celebrate the arrival of the inaugural flight to Kumamoto.In the evening, the Kumamoto Prefectural Government and Hong Kong Airlines held a grand inaugural celebration dinner together. Both parties held a fruitful discussion on further strengthening ties between the two cities to foster growth in tourism and economic development.Mr. Stanley Kan, Director of Service Delivery of Hong Kong Airlines, said, “The Kumamoto route has received overwhelming response from the public and widespread popularity among travellers since its tickets were opened for sale.“With increasing demand for travelling to Japan, we believe the new route will provide in-depth travellers with more flexible and diversified travel options in the Kyushu region through our “triangular service” between Hong Kong and Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Kumamoto.”Hong Kong Airlines’ route network currently covers almost 30 cities across the Asia-Pacific region. With the launch of Kumamoto service, complemented by the existing two daily flights to Okinawa, five-time weekly service to Sapporo, thrice-weekly service to Kagoshima and twice-weekly flights to Miyazaki, Hong Kong Airlines operates a total of 26 weekly flights between Hong Kong and Japan starting from December this year, further strengthening its route network in Japan. Fly Hong Kong AirlinesSource = Hong Kong Airlineslast_img read more

Three cheers for Collette

first_imgThree cheers for ColletteThree cheers for ColletteCharming French Canada tour wins big at Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards Top Hotels in CanadaCollette is celebrating after the announcement of the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler’s Top Hotels In Canada: Reader’s Choice Awards 2016, with three of the listed properties featuring in the tour operator’s new Charming French Canada tour!Collette’s new 8-day Charming French Canada tour delves deep into Canada’s rich culture, brimming with French influence.Guests on the Charming French Canada tour will marvel at the magnificent architecture of rustic Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello’s magnificent architecture – rated #3Others may decide to stroll the grounds of the stately Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac – coming in at #6 on Conde Nast Traveler’s list.Moving through the tour, Collette guests will visit beautiful Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, Conde Nast’s #8!Guests on this tour will explore Canada’s many treasures in style – for the reasonable lead in price of $2599Read more about the awards Click HereFor more information on Charming French Canada and Collette’s other tours Click Here Collettebook your tour here Source = Collettelast_img read more

Luxperience 2017 Award submissions now open

first_imgLuxperience 2017 Award submissions now openLuxperience announces entries are now open for the prestigious Luxperience Awards. These awards recognise the industry’s endeavours and the evolution of luxury travel while highlighting the shining stars and visionaries of the premium leisure travel and business events markets.Awards are open to both leisure and business event specialists emphasizing the impact and influence of luxury travel across both segmentsMichelle Papas, Luxury Brand Strategist at Luxperience, says: “This year our Awards will align with our theme for 2017: ‘Through A New Lens’. An emphasis will be on exploring the creativity of marketing, innovation and meaningful activities that leave an inspiring influence on travel behaviours and events through impactful visual interpretations”.Now in its third year, winners will be announced in front of over 400 guests at the glittering Luxperience Gala Dinner, taking place on Tuesday 19 September 2017 at Doltone House, Darling Island, Pyrmont. This magical waterfront venue offers harbour bridge and city skyline views providing a glittering backdrop for the annual Luxperience gala night.“Some of the world’s most impressive suppliers and elite group of decision-makers in the global luxury and experiential travel and events arena will be in attendance,” Papas adds. “Our winners set industry standards, raising the bar for others to emulate.”Judging of the submissions will be by an esteemed panel of travel and lifestyle industry experts including Belinda Melocco, Senior Manager Client Engagement for law firm King & Wood Mallesons and award-winning photographer, Mags King, Managing Photo Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review and the Sun Herald.Belinda is an accomplished and well-respected event professional. She is the founder and chair of the esteemed in-house corporate events industry association, Sydney Event Network with over 100 members.Mags’ photography career started at the Guardian in London after winning the prestigious UK Kentmere National Award over 20 years ago. Her meteoric rise in the photo-editing world has seen Mags managing major global photography companies such as Photobition and world-renowned publications such as Travel & Leisure. In 2005, Mags joined Fairfax culminating in her current role of the media company’s flagship papers.“Belinda and Mags will bring to the judging panel a wealth of knowledge and experience and will highlight the opportunities the Luxperience Awards can offer especially to the MICE market,” says Papas. “They will also emphasise the importance imagery plays in enticing where and when travellers and companies will visit next.”The full list of Award Categories:Inspiring AwardMeaningful AwardConnections AwardOutstanding Destination AwardThe Inspiring Award will recognise a buyer or supplier (leisure or premium business events) that best demonstrates excellence in the planning and development of innovative products, events and services, acknowledging entrepreneurial vision, market leadership and uniqueness.The Meaningful Award will pay tribute to a buyer or supplier (leisure or premium business events) that contributes to a greater understanding of history, heritage and culture, incorporating elements such as sense of community, experiential travel or social responsibility within their program or product.The Connections Award will recognise a successful marketing strategy and campaign, both from the buyer or supplier side, which effectively connect with key target markets within the luxury or high end experiential travel space or events and incentives areaIn addition to these awards, Luxperience will recognise an Outstanding Destination, which has influenced the development of luxury and experiential tourism or business events within their country or region.The invitation-only business forum, taking place in Sydney on 17-20 September 2017, is the only one of its kind based in the Australasia and Pacific region that connects the world’s most exclusive travel and business events providers dealing in luxury and experiential travel.For more information on submissions click here.Source = Luxperiencelast_img read more

Wyndham Takes Top Honours

first_imgWyndham Takes Top HonoursWyndham Takes Top Honours at National Customer Service Awards for Second Year RunningWyndham Destinations Asia Pacific’s Customer Experience team has once again been judged the top of its class at the prestigious Australian Service Excellence Awards (ASEAs), which were held at The Star in Sydney last week.The team was honoured with the Customer Service Team of the Year – Large Business Award, and was also named runner-up Service Champion in the Service Project of the Year – Continuous Improvement (five-day project) category.Hosted annually by the Customer Service Institute of Australia, the ASEAs attract more than 650 attendees each year to recognise best practice and innovation in customer service from major companies including Optus, American Express and iCare.“We are thrilled to have been honoured with this accolade for the second year running. This award speaks to the heart of our business and goal to deliver exceptional customer care through creating personalised and memorable experiences,” said Bruce Harkness, Senior Vice President Human Resources and Customer Experience, Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific.Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific’s Customer Experience team includes 28 staff members covering customer design and delivery, customer insights, customer care, VIP handling and quality assurance. The team works to improve the customer experience delivery across two vacation clubs, WorldMark South Pacific Club by Wyndham and CLUB WYNDHAM® ASIA, and at Wyndham’s 42 managed and Club resorts across Asia Pacific.Source = Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacificlast_img read more

Reunion Island voted best emerging tourist destination in India

first_imgReunion Island won the trophy for best emerging tourist destination from India in the second edition of the South India Travel Awards 2015 recently. The South India Travel Awards presented around 40 trophies, called ‘Maya’, to the winners of the different categories competing for the occasion. This meeting destination received the Black Maya prizes as the best in class for emerging tourist destination in India. This distinction rewards the company’s marketing strategy by Reunion Island Tourism (IRT) in the Indian market for two years now.The awards were presented by the Minister of Human Resources Development and the Principal Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism during the official ceremony held in Andhra Pradesh in South India.The South India Travel Awards 2015 in the category of best emerging tourist destination in India, is an excellent communication tool for meeting destination Reunion Island which wants to develop territory arrivals from the Indian market.last_img read more

Qatar Airways expands its partnership with Jetblue

first_imgQatar Airways announced the expansion of its code-share partnership with JetBlue, with 29 new code-share destinations on the airline’s route network from Boston Logan International Airport.The expanded partnership would commence from March 16, 2016 to coincide with the launch of Qatar Airways’ daily direct flights to Boston. Passengers will be able to connect onto JetBlue’s network with a seamless transfer process via both New York and Boston.“The strengthening of this code-share agreement comes at a time when Qatar Airways is focused upon expanding its own direct links to the United States and beyond, with the launch of non-stop services to Los Angeles, Atlanta and Boston throughout 2016,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker. “Passengers travelling to Boston on our latest flagship A350 XWB aircraft will be able to connect onwards to almost 30 JetBlue destinations across the continent, enhancing the overall passenger experience for all, thanks to this expanded code-share agreement.”last_img read more

Brazil unveils new measures to lure foreign tourists

first_imgThe government of Brazil has unveiled its plan to introduce the ‘Brazil + Tourism’ program, which is actually a series of measures to strengthen the tourism sector of the nation.Some of the measures undertaken include the issuance of e-visas, opening of one hundred percent of Brazilian airlines capital to foreign investment and expansion of the regional air network.The Tourism Minister of Brazil, Marx Beltrão has said that this program is a welcome amendment to myopia that the government has had with the regional tourism sector of Brazil. He added in a press conference that they had about 13 million unemployed people and tourism would be the best solution for these people by providing them great employment options.The Minister stated that the country hopes that the number of foreign visitors arriving in this nation would jump from the 6.5 million registered last year to 12 million in 2022. With revenues from the tourism sector believed to expand from the existent $6 billion a year during that point of time.Beltrão said that their objective is to increase the competitiveness among companies apart from offering additional destinations and routes. The Ministry of Tourism had proposed to the Ministry of Foreign Relations about the implementation of such visas for tourists from the nations like Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States. Certain visa waivers are also being discussed for tourists from different countries.last_img read more

Carlson Wagonlit Travel announces David Falter as President of RoomIt

first_imgCarlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), a global travel management company, has appointed David Falter as President of RoomIt, the company’s hotel distribution division, effective December 18. Based in RoomIt’s Chicago office, he will report to Kurt Ekert, President and CEO of CWT. Scott Brennan, who led the launch phase of the business, will become Chief Growth Officer of RoomIt.Falter is a six-time CEO and Board Director who has successfully led companies ranging from $25 million to more than $1 billion across numerous industries – including electronic travel distribution, business services, systems integration and software development, and cloud-based storage. Most recently, he was President and CEO of Antenna International and Managing Partner of Acorn Growth Partners Inc. Falter is also a non-executive Director at BizPay.“Dave brings a wealth of business acumen and experience to the team, and I am delighted to welcome him to CWT,” said Kurt Ekert adding, “He has a terrific track record of leading growth, and with his technology and travel sector background, I am confident he will accelerate RoomIt’s performance, while Scott will focus wholly on executing our growth plans.”last_img read more

MultiState Mortgage Fraud Results in Hefty Sentence

first_img In Minnesota, a former house flipper was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison for his role in a real estate investment scheme, topping _MReport’s_ weekly fraud blotter. The hefty sentence for Robert W. Dufrense, Jr., who is accused of bilking more than $5 million out of investors across multiple states, was more elaborate than expected due to an additional charge for obstructing justice.[IMAGE]According to “”_Twin Cities Business_””:http://www.tcbmag.com/index.aspx magazine, Dufresne was convicted of one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering for his house-flipping scam. However, the court discovered that following his guilty plea Dufresne had attempted to obstruct justice by selling assets.U.S. District Court Chief Judge, “”Michael J. Davis””:www.mnd.uscourts.gov, handed down Dufresne’s sentence of 97 months in prison, and he also slapped the fraudster with an order to pay over $6.5 million in restitution. Thursday’s sentencing comes almost a year after Dufresne pleaded guilty to the crimes in question.Coming clean on his activities, Dufresne confessed that he fraudulently collected money from investors that was allegedly going toward the purchase, renovation, and resale of residential properties. Those investing believed that the amount earned from flipping the houses, which were spread around Minnesota and various states, would then be split among them following the sale of the real estate assets.Dufresne went on to admit that in actuality he used the funds he accumulated for personal gain. Describing the scheme, Dufresne noted in his confession that he ran a sort of personal Ponzi scam in which he used subsequent investment dollars to pay off individuals that had previously invested.Various government entities participated in bringing Dufresne to justice, including the “”U.S. Postal Inspection Service””:postalinspectors.uspis.gov/, the “”Federal Bureau of Investigation””:www.fbi.gov/, and the “”Internal Revenue Service’s””:www.irs.gov/ criminal investigation division. The original prosecutors on the case were Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert M. Lewis and James S. Alexander. in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology Multi-State Mortgage Fraud Results in Hefty Sentence Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Fraud Processing Service Providers 2012-03-09 Abby Gregorycenter_img March 9, 2012 495 Views Sharelast_img read more

Xerox Mortgage Services Releases BlitzDocs Servicing

first_img “”Xerox Mortgage Services””:http://www.xerox-xms.com/ announced the release of BlitzDocs Servicing to simplify the paperless mortgage process for lenders and servicers. [IMAGE]BlitzDocs provides an electronic loan folder that imitates traditional paper loan folders. Through the expanded offering, the solution is able to provide a single point of reference for all documentation related to a borrower for the lifespan of a loan, which results in better customer service for the borrower. [COLUMN_BREAK]BlitzDocs has been used by lenders and servicers for its document management capabilities to support customer service and default loan servicing. The expanded solution helps lenders and servicers meet new regulations introduced by agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), according to a company release. “”By helping servicers go paperless, Xerox is simplifying the servicing process and removing costs associated with manually sending documents, improving customer service by ensuring 24/7 access to all loan documents, and supporting compliance by providing an audit trail of all actions taken on a loan,”” said Nancy Alley, VP and general manager of Xerox Mortgage Services.Through BlitzDocs, documents can be sent and received from trading partners including originators, borrowers, investors, sub-servicers, business process outsourcing providers and mortgage insurance companies. April 22, 2013 451 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2013-04-22 Esther Chocenter_img Xerox Mortgage Services Releases BlitzDocs Servicing Sharelast_img read more

FirstTime Jobless Claims Post Surprise Increase

first_imgFirst-Time Jobless Claims Post Surprise Increase in Data, Government, Origination Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bureau of Labor Statistics Confidence Investors Jobs Labor Department Lenders & Servicers Mark Lieberman Payrolls Service Providers Unemployment 2013-05-30 Mark Lieberman May 30, 2013 408 Views center_img Share First-time claims for unemployment insurance rose for the third time in the last four weeks, increasing 10,000 to 354,000 for the week ending May 25, the “”Labor Department””:http://www.ows.doleta.gov/press/2013/053013.asp reported Thursday. [IMAGE]Economists expected initial claims to remain at 340,000 as originally reported for the week ended May 18. That report was revised up to 344,000.The number of persons continuing to collect unemployment insurance for the week ending May 18, reported on a one week lag, also increased, rising 63,000 to 2,986,000. Continuing claims for the week ending May 11 were revised up to 2,923,000 from the originally reported 2,912,000.The four-week moving average of initial claims rose 6,750 to 347,250–the third straight weekly increase. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell 11,500 to 2,986,500, the lowest level since May 2008. Continuing claims have been affected by the ongoing federal budget sequester.As a result of the sequestration cuts to unemployment programs (most of which kicked in at the end of March) the four-week moving average of continuing claims has fallen for six straight weeks, with an average drop of just over 17,000. The four-week moving average was 3,093,000 at the beginning of April.Comparative and trend data for continuing claims are becoming increasingly less reliable as sequester cuts affect the numbers. Some states are reducing the number of weeks of payments, while others are cutting payments themselves.Initial claims for the week ending May 25 were affected in part by low seasonal adjustment factors that inflate the raw data. Even on an unadjusted basis, claims rose by 13,653, suggesting employers are continuing to reduce payrolls despite what appears to be a recovery. The reported increase followed on a report of improving consumer confidence, a survey usually affected by employment trends. The confidence survey, though, was completed before the week covered by the unemployment claims data.This week’s data on initial claims will have no impact on the Employment Situation report for May to be released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on June 7. That report is based on employment and payrolls for the calendar week including the 12th day of the month. From mid-April to mid-May, first-time claims dropped 11,000, and the four-week moving average fell 21,500, suggesting layoffs will not be a drag on payroll numbers for May.The Labor Department said the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending May 11 was 4,578,592, a decrease of 166,659 from the previous week. There were 6,138,246 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012. Extended Benefits were not available in any state during the week ending May 11. According to the BLS, 11,659,000 persons were officially considered unemployed in April, with 4.35 million “”long-term”” unemployed–that is, out of work for at least 27 weeks. Of those individuals counted as unemployed, 7.08 million were not receiving any form of government unemployment insurance for the week ending May 11, up from 6.91 million one week earlier.The Labor Department also said states reported 1,726,659 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending May 11, a decrease of 50,027 from the prior week. There were 2,618,445 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2012. EUC benefits this year are threatened by the federal budget sequester. States continue to borrow from the federal government to cover shortfalls in those funds which will eventually have to be repaid–unless Congress intervenes–with higher assessments on employers. Since those assessments are a percentage of payrolls, they discourage employers from adding new workers. As of May 24, 22 states had borrowed a total of $21.2 billion. One week earlier, 22 states had an aggregate $21.4 billion in outstanding loans to cover shortfalls. Five states–California, Indiana, New York, North Carolina and Ohio–each owe more than $1 billion which may require higher unemployment premiums or special assessments on employers in those states.According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending May 18 were in South Carolina (+1,263), Tennessee (+1,191), Missouri (+785), Michigan (+634), and Massachusetts (+610), while the largest decreases were in California (-16,334), Georgia (-1,802), Illinois (-1,198), Kentucky (-902), and Ohio (-623)._Hear Mark Lieberman Friday on P.O.T.U.S. radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 a.m. Eastern._last_img read more

New Residential 900B Mortgage Pool from Springleaf

first_img in Daily Dose, Headlines, News, Servicing March 12, 2014 514 Views Acquisitions Mortgage Servicing Rights New Residential Springleaf 2014-03-12 Tory Barringer New Residential $900B Mortgage Pool from Springleafcenter_img Real estate investment trust (REIT) New Residential Investment Corp. announced a commitment to purchase interests in a $900 million pool of non-agency loans.According to a release from New Residential, the loans involved in the deal were previously securitized by an affiliate of Springleaf Financial Corporation, which was previously affiliated with AIG until it was acquired by Fortress Investment Group managed funds in 2010.Though the terms of the deal were not disclosed, New Residential expects to settle the acquisition by the end of this year’s first quarter.The latest transaction isn’t New Residential’s first foray into mortgage servicing assets acquisitions. Late last year, the company announced an agreement to acquire $3.2 billion of servicing advances from Nationstar.”We continue to believe that our robust portfolio of servicing related assets, non-Agency RMBS [residential mortgage-backed securities], consumer loans and other related investments positions us well to generate strong returns for our shareholders,” CEO Michael Nierenberg said at the time. Sharelast_img read more