Cement case detainees await space at San Sebastián prison

first_imgSan Sebastián has been described by inmates as “hell on Earth,” and a judge ordered in  August 2016 that the prison be closed within 18 months. The judge described its living conditions as horrific.Detainees at San Sebastián have complained to The Tico Times of inhumane conditions in overcrowded cells with minimal ventilation and so little sleeping space that some prisoners have to sleep on the floor next to urinals. Judge orders closure of overcrowded San Sebastián prison UPDATED: Court orders three months of prison for cement case detainees The daily La Naciónreported late Sunday that the seven men sentenced to three months’ preventive detention over the weekend in connection to the Chinese cement scandal will head to San Sebastián prison in San José.Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) Director Walter Espinoza told the daily Sunday evening that one of the detainees, suspended Banco de Costa Rica manager Mario Barrenechea, 67, will likely be the first to be transferred to San Sebastián because he is a senior citizen and will therefore enter the prison system in a separate Social Adaption track.The other men arrested, who included cement importer Juan Carlos Bolaños and five other Banco de Costa Rica management-level employees, will have to wait, since the historically overcrowded San Sebastián has a waiting list. A total of 40 prisoners are currently waiting for space at one of the country’s jails, according to La Nación.All of the men were in OIJ holding cells at the time of the report. A court ordered three months’ preventive detention for all seven men following a marathon hearing that began at 1 am Saturday morning.center_img Facebook Comments Related posts:Prosecutors requests six months of prison for seven cement case detainees UPDATED: Court orders three months of prison for cement case detainees Police arrest two key figures in Chinese cement case President Solís: ‘I’ve always told you the truth’last_img read more

Survivor describes new Syria mass killing

first_img Comments   Share   Top Stories “If nobody claims them, we’ll take their photos and put them on our Facebook page so their families can find out that they’re dead,” he said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Syria’s uprising started in March 2011 with peaceful protests calling for political reforms that were met with a fierce regime crackdown. Government brutality grew as dissent spread, and many in the opposition took up arms as the conflict morphed into a civil war.Aleppo has been a stronghold of government support throughout the uprising, with a wealthy business class and many minority communities who fear they’ll suffer if Assad falls. Until recently, the city of some 4 million people had been spared the violence that has ravaged other Syrian cities.But during the last two weeks, rebels have been pushing into Aleppo’s neighborhoods, clashing with security forces and torching police stations in a push to “liberate” the city. Syrian media has vowed the army is gearing up for a “decisive battle,” while anti-regime activists have reported swelling numbers of troops and tanks on the city’s edges.The Syrian government blames the uprising on armed gangs and terrorists backed by foreign powers that seek to weaken Syria.It was amid these tensions that Mahmoud, a Palestinian resident of Aleppo, had his fateful brush with Syrian security. On Thursday, Mahmoud said, he and a friend went to collect their paychecks from the thread factory where they work and heard clashes nearby. Soon eight men in civilian clothes stopped them and asked for their IDs and cell phones. Reports of such killings have surfaced frequently during the 17 months of deadly violence that activists seeking to topple President Bashar Assad say has killed more than 19,000 people. But details are usually scarce _ no more than activist reports or amateur videos of bloodied bodies or mass graves posted on YouTube.Mahmoud related his grisly ordeal to The Associated Press hours after it happened. Struggling to speak, he lay in a bed in a makeshift rebel-run field hospital set up in a wedding hall in this town 13 miles (20 kilometers) north of Aleppo. Bandages covered his foot, head and chest. Plastic vines and colored lights adorned the walls of the darkened building, and two red velvet chairs once used by brides and grooms sat on a small stage.Mahmoud gave only his first name to protect his family who still live in the area.While his story could not be independently confirmed, Mahmoud’s wounds matched his story and residents who found him and his dead colleagues corroborated certain details.Together, they painted a picture of the summary slaying of 10 men, at least some of whom had only loose links to the armed rebels seeking to topple the regime. That story jibes with activist claims of the increasingly brutal tactics regime forces are using to try to crush the rebellion that has spread to Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. “I breathed, I said the shehada,” he said, referring to the Muslim declaration of faith meant to put him right with God. “I tried to get up then started screaming because blood was coming out of me.”He scraped his face on a rock to remove the blindfold and crawled to where some nearby residents found him.Among them was a 22-year-old electrician who said he heard the gunfire early Monday and worried that people were being killed because he had discovered six bodies in the same spot a day earlier. He showed videos of the victims on his cell phone, their bodies piled atop each other covered in blood, some bearing large bruises that appeared to be from beatings. He said all had been shot dead.He and others asked not to have their names published because they have to pass through government checkpoints to get home.The killings shocked residents of Khaldiyeh, a working-class neighborhood on Aleppo’s northwest side that has seen little violence until now. While many residents support the rebels, they have not established a foothold in the area, and the relative quiet has drawn thousands of people fleeing violence in other Aleppo neighborhoods or nearby villages. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Associated PressANADAN, Syria (AP) – The guards pulled him from his cell before dawn on Monday, bound his hands, blindfolded him and drove him to an empty lot in the Syrian city of Aleppo. They sat him in a row with 10 other captives, he said, then cocked their guns and opened fire.“They sprayed us,” recalled 21-year-old Mahmoud, the lone survivor of the latest mass killing of Syria’s civil war. “The first bullet hit my chest, then one hit my foot, then my head. As soon as my head got hit, I thought, `I’m dead.’” On Mahmoud’s phone they found videos of anti-government demonstrations and messages he sent to rebels from the Free Syrian Army, asking God to protect them and make them victorious. The men threw Mahmoud and his friend in the trunk of a car and drove them to a trash dump, where they were blindfolded, bound and beaten with sticks and large rocks before being taken to a security office.Mahmoud was locked in a crowded cell with about a dozen other men, he said. Each day, some were taken out and new ones brought in.“We were there for four days and they only gave us water to drink once. They never fed us,” he said. “They never asked us anything. Every day it was beating, beating, beating.”Before dawn on Monday, guards pulled Mahmoud and 10 others from their cells and told they were going to see a judge. They were bound at the wrists, blindfolded and driven to Aleppo’s Khaldiyeh neighborhood, where they were lined up on a patch of rocky soil.“They sat us all down next to each other, `You here, you here, you here,’” Mahmoud said. “Then each one cocked his weapon and the shooting started.”Mahmoud was shot three times. Bullets pierced his chest and foot and one grazed his skull. Minutes later, silence returned, and he realized he was still alive. 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes As Mahmoud spoke, a white pickup pulled up outside the field hospital with the bodies of nine of the men killed Monday. The body of the tenth victim had been taken away by his family. All still had their hands bound and two still wore blindfolds. Two had bullet wounds to their heads, and others had blood on their faces and chests or coming out of their ears. None wore shoes.Those killings convinced one Khaldiyeh resident who helped collect the bodies that the neighborhood needs arms.“We want the Free Army to come to our neighborhood to protect us,” he said. “If they can’t come, then they need to give us weapons so we can defend ourselves.”The field hospital’s doctor, Mohammed Ajaj, said he is no longer shocked when the dead and wounded pass through town on their way to burial in nearby villages or for treatment across the northern border in Turkey.“We’ve gotten used to it,” he said.An 18-year-old activist who helped collect the bodies said none of them had IDs.“We really know nothing about them,” he said, adding that he would stop in neighboring villages to see if anyone recognized them before delivering them to a morgue further north.last_img

Talk of N Mali intervention grows no action soon

first_imgSekere waits for the day when the Islamists leave Timbuktu, where they recently carried out a public execution in front of 600 people and have banned items ranging from perfume to Nokia ringtones. Sekere’s handicrafts are hidden inside the walls of his home until he, and the tourists, can return“Here I am getting by only on the generosity of my friends,” Sekere told a reporter from the upper level of a mud home in this central Malian town, now home to thousands of displaced northerners. “There at least I have a plot of land that I can work.”Sekere is one of nearly 500,000 people who fled northern Mali since the crisis began earlier this year. Many, like Sekere, who came to the south have found life difficult because unemployment is high. Here the civilian government is trying to exert authority over the military, whose junior officers launched a coup in March right before elections were to have been held. The soldiers still call a lot of the shots, even though they made a show of returning power to the civilians in April.Ordinary Malians and international experts alike are not sure what will reunite and bring back political stability to a country that until recently had a reputation as one of West Africa’s most steady democracies. Top holiday drink recipes Quick workouts for men The U.N. Security Council on Friday unanimously approved a plan to back an African-led military force to help the Malian army oust Islamic militants. But the plan still faces delays: The French-backed resolution gives Mali, the West Africans and the African Union 45 days to develop plans to recover the occupied territory.Representatives of the United Nations, the African Union and ECOWAS are to consider the situation on Oct. 19 in a meeting in Mali’s capital, Bamako. The head of the Germany-based U.S. Africa Command, Gen. Carter Ham, said recently that “a military component” would be a part of an overall solution in northern Mali, but he ruled out an overt U.S. military presence.While diplomats from other countries discuss options, no action on the ground to retake the north appears imminent.“We’re in this period of stagnation, effectively a stalemate in the north,” said Gregory Mann, a history professor at Columbia University who specializes in Mali. “Some form of outside intervention is probably both undesirable, inevitable and necessary.”Mali’s transitional government has accepted in theory the prospect of the regional military intervention, though those involved in the discussions suggest there is a reluctance to allow foreign troops in Mali’s capital in the south. There has been nominal progress toward restoring democracy after the military coup but there is no clear path for holding fresh elections. The possibility of national elections being held within six months is “extremely slim,” according to the International Crisis Group.“All scenarios are still possible, including another military coup and social unrest in the capital, which risk undermining the transitional institutions and creating an even more explosive situation,” said said Gilles Yabi, West Africa project director for the International Crisis Group.Calls for an ECOWAS regional intervention have prompted protests in Mali’s capital in recent weeks, though others have marched in favor of an ECOWAS mission.Korotoumou Diakite, a 22-year-old student who took part in the pro-intervention march in Bamako this week, said: “I have faith that ECOWAS and the international community so that Mali remains one and indivisible.”___Associated Press writer Baba Ahmed in Bamako, Mali contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) “This is not only a humanitarian crisis; it is a powder keg that the international community cannot afford to ignore,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said recently.The Obama administration, France and neighboring African countries are all weighing what will be the most effective policies to halt the rapid success of Islamic extremists in Mali. The 15-nation West African regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, has discussed sending 3,000 troops to help oust the Islamist militants from the north.Many, though, question how Mali’s weak military could take the lead on such an intervention.“All the military force in the world cannot put Mali back together and sustain it unless there is a legitimate political process that the majority of Malians will accept,” said J. Peter Pham, director of the Africa program at the Washington-based Atlantic Council.Analysts believe ECOWAS would need to send more soldiers to take and hold the France-sized area of desert now controlled by the militants.“There’s been a serious mismatch between the type of mission that is talked about and the type of resources that anyone is willing to cough up in support of that mission,” noted Pham. Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Comments   Share   Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Associated PressMOPTI, Mali (AP) – Before Islamists seized the northern half of Mali, Mamadou Sekere sold masks and jewelry in Timbuktu to European tourists who rode camels and slept in the desert under the stars.Now, Sekere is in Mopti where one of his wives gathers leaves to feed the family. His other wife, who stayed behind when he fled Timbuktu, calls several times a day. He’s got 10 children with one and eight with the other, but can only shake his head when asked where they all are now. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daylast_img read more

US due to stop managing Afghan airspace by end of June

first_img KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The United States is to stop managing Afghan airspace by the end of June after its air-traffic control contract with the government in Kabul expires, a development that could see international airlines forced to cancel flights both into the country and over its territory.Unless a solution — even a temporary one — is found, Afghanistan would basically become a no-fly zone, which would cost the government millions of dollars in revenue and seriously damage its credibility with overseas donors and investors, officials and diplomats in Kabul warn. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility This is likely contributing to donor fatigue, diplomats say.“The international community does not want to be in a situation where we are continuously stuck with paying for this because they (Afghan authorities) are simply not seriously going to take it over,” a Western diplomat in Kabul told The Associated Press. “This is causing reluctance with some of the partners who would otherwise bridge the gap.”According to an internal NATO memo seen by the AP, the U.S. government will not extend its current contract for another six months, to the end of 2015 — an extension that requires $25 million. The memo offered no insight as to U.S. reasons and officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul declined an AP request for comment.Meanwhile, Japan is considering dipping into its development fund to cover the second half of 2015. Tokyo would be willing to let the Afghan government use $25 million from its Counterpart Fund for a “bridging contract” until the end of the year, a Japanese official said.Tokyo’s approval, however, is conditional on the contract not facilitating military operations in Afghanistan, which is prohibited under Japanese law, the official added. In this Tuesday, May 5, 2015 photo, an aircraft is parked on the tarmac of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. The United States is to stop managing Afghan airspace by the end of June after its air-traffic control contract with the government in Kabul expires, a development that could see international airlines forced to cancel flights both into the country and over its territory. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) “Our government is considering” this, the official said. “We think (a decision) should be very quick — hopefully before the expiry of the U.S. contract.”Both the Western diplomat and the Japanese official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing talks on Afghan air traffic control.Wafayezada, the official at the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority, said Kabul is confident Japan will step in.Then, Afghanistan would take over managing its airspace from January 2016, he added. Kabul was supposed to take over at the start of this year, but Wafayezada said “technical issues” prevented this.Now, the government is considering several bids from foreign companies to take on the contract from next year, he added, without elaborating.Carriers need 30 days’ notice of the end of airspace control and if a new contract is not in place soon, NATO will have to inform airlines that Afghan airspace is no longer managed and that they should change routes.The internal NATO memo stressed that “if no tangible progress is made” in the next two-three weeks, the international alliance will start preparing such notices.“Such a notification would likely stop international carriers from flying to Afghanistan, causing severe revenue impact, severe follow-on economic impact and a major defeat in building investor confidence,” the memo said. Top Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your homecenter_img The Afghan airspace, a key air corridor between Europe and Asia, has been managed by the U.S.-led international military coalition or foreign companies paid by donor countries since 2001, when the Taliban regime was overthrown in a U.S.-led invasion.The air traffic over Afghanistan, as well as to and from the Central Asian country generates about $33 million a year, according to Mohammad Qassim Wafayezada, the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority’s deputy director general on policy and planning. International airlines that fly into the Afghan capital include the Dubai-based Emirates, Air India and Turkish Airlines. Many other airlines fly over Afghanistan.There are no flights to and from the European Union because the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority is not recognized by the bloc, which cannot certify it due to safety deficiencies.The current contract on Afghan air traffic control, paid for by the United States, ends June 30 and failure to renew it will mean that foreign airlines will not be able to use Afghan airspace.It may be a scenario difficult to imagine but at the core is Kabul’s reluctance to take over responsibility for its airspace and put a new contract in place — paid for from its own budget. The implications of unmanaged airspace are serious. In changing routes, airlines would potentially incur higher fuel costs that would inevitably be transferred on to customers. Existing restrictions on use of airspace in other places, such as Syria and Iraq, would further complicate alternative flight paths.The credibility of the government of Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, who took over last year in the first democratic transition of power in the country, would be damaged.And with donors already tiring of Kabul’s regular need for cash handouts to cover budget expenses such as civil service payrolls, failure to take over its own airspace will likely further erode the government’s political capital.___Associated Press writer John-Thor Dahlberg in Brussels contributed to this story.Follow Lynne O’Donnell on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lynnekodonnellCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img read more

Indian nurse dies after 42 years in coma after rape

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy MUMBAI, India (AP) — A Mumbai nurse who was in a coma for 42 years after being sexually assaulted while working in a hospital has died, hospital authorities said Monday.Aruna Shanbaug suffered severe brain damage and was in a vegetative state after she was raped and strangled by a hospital worker in 1973.Shanbaug was diagnosed with pneumonia last week and had been on a life support system for the past few days, said Pravin Bangar, medical superintendent at Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial Hospital. Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Shanbaug’s case sparked a debate over India’s euthanasia laws after a Mumbai-based author and friend of the nurse petitioned the courts to stop force-feeding her through a tube so her suffering would not be prolonged.India’s Supreme Court rejected the petition filed by Pinki Virani who had sought euthanasia for Shanbaug, saying the court should “end her unbearable agony.”The case was opposed by nurses at the hospital who took turns taking care of her for more than four decades after Shanbaug’s family said they were unable to support her.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Lawyers file document laying out Hinckley release conditions

first_img Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for the government and Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin John Hinckley Jr. have come to an agreement on certain conditions he would abide by if he is allowed to live full-time outside a mental hospital, but they still disagree about how far officials should be allowed to go in monitoring him.The lawyers filed a court document Wednesday laying out their differences for a judge overseeing Hinckley’s case. The judge, Paul L. Friedman, is deciding whether Hinckley is ready to live outside St. Elizabeths hospital in Washington, where he has been since being found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shooting that wounded Reagan and three others. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The judge had asked the lawyers to produce the document following several days of hearings in April on the issue of Hinckley’s release. The conditions were discussed in detail during the hearing, but the document is the latest and clearest version of the restrictions each side now supports.Hinckley’s latest push for more freedom is part of a more than decade-long process of re-integrating him into the community, always under a variety of restrictions set by the judge. The judge ruled in 2003 that Hinckley could leave St. Elizabeths for daylong visits with his family.Those freedoms have expanded so now he spends 17 days a month at his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Virginia. The hospital and his lawyers have said for years that he is no longer plagued by mental illness, and they now agree he’s ready to live in Williamsburg full time. The judge has not said when he will rule.In the document filed Wednesday, Hinckley, 60, agrees to participate in group and individual therapy in Williamsburg, as he does now, and to make at least monthly return visits to Washington for outpatient psychiatric visits.The document says he will volunteer or work at least three days a week and that Hinckley, who plays the guitar, paints and has a new interest in photography, won’t perform publicly or display his work. He agrees not to drink or have a weapon. He also agrees not to talk to the media, a condition that has been in place for some time, or to contact a variety of people including his victims, their families or the actress Jodie Foster, whom Hinckley was trying to impress when he shot Reagan. Sponsored Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosterone A number of the areas where Hinckley, prosecutors and the hospital disagree have to do with the level of monitoring that will be permitted. Prosecutors continue to ask that he wear a GPS ankle bracelet, a condition the judge dismissed during the hearing, and want a GPS tracking device installed on the car he uses. The hospital says it would support a tracking device on the car. Hinckley’s longtime lawyer, Barry Levine, has objected to both conditions saying they’re not necessary and that the Secret Service can and does follow Hinckley whenever it wants.Prosecutors and the hospital also argue he should be allowed to use the Internet but shouldn’t be allowed to become a member of or post on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. They want him to have only one e-mail account and to have to turn over his username and password. Prosecutors also want monitoring software to be installed on any computer he’s using. Hinckley objects.___Follow Jessica Gresko at https://twitter.com/jessicagresko.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

Draft accords of sanctions relief at Iran nuke talks in hand

first_img Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Much of the negotiation on the matter has concerned sequencing, so that both sides can legitimately claim to have gotten their way.Several other matters related to sanctions also had posed problems.The Obama administration cannot move too quickly to remove economic penalties because of Congress, which will have a 30-day review period for any agreement during which no sanctions can be waived.American officials also had been struggling to separate the “nuclear-related” sanctions it is prepared to suspend from those it wishes to keep, including measures designed to counteract Iranian ballistic missile efforts, human rights violations and support for U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.And to keep pressure on Iran, world powers had been hoping to finalize a system for snapping suspended sanctions back into force if Iran cheats on the accord. Russia has traditionally opposed any plan that would see them lose their U.N. veto power and a senior Russian negotiator said only this week that his government rejected any automatic “snapback” of sanctions.___Associated Press Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments   Share   5 ways to recognize low testosterone Parents, stop beating yourself up Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall They include inspection guidelines, rules governing Iran’s research and development of advanced nuclear technology and the nuts and bolts of reducing the size and output of Iran’s uranium enrichment program.As part of a deal, the Obama administration also wants Iran to fully cooperate with the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency’s investigation of allegations that Tehran worked secretly on nuclear arms — something Iran vehemently denies. But chances of progress on that issue appear to be dimming.IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told reporters on Saturday that “more work will be needed” to advance the probe, in a statement similar to previous ones from his agency, which has struggled for nearly a decade to resolve its concerns.While saying he could wrap up his investigation by the end of the year, Amano said he needs Tehran’s cooperation to do so. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said after Thursday’s meeting in Tehran with Amano that the agency now understands that the “pointless allegations” are “baseless.”Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have made repeated demands for economic penalties to be lifted shortly after a deal is reached. Washington and its partners have said they’d take action after Iran verifiably complies with restrictions on enrichment and other elements of the nuclear program. VIENNA (AP) — World powers and Iran have drawn up a draft document on the pace and timing of sanctions relief for the Islamic republic in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program, advancing on one of the most contentious issues at their negotiations, diplomats told The Associated Press on Saturday.Written by technical experts, the document still must be approved by senior officials of the seven nations at the table, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the foreign ministers of the five other countries expected to join Kerry and Zarif in Vienna this weekend for a push to meet a July 7 deadline. Sponsored Stories The International Atomic Energy Agency’s director-general, Yukiya Amano, is seated during his meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, July 2, 2015. The head of the U.N. atomic agency, Amano, visited Tehran to discuss remaining outstanding issues over Iran’s nuclear program. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi) The development indicated the sides were moving closer to a comprehensive accord that would set a decade of restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for tens of billions of dollars in economic benefits for the Iranians.Officials had described sanctions relief as one of the thorniest disagreements between Iran and the United States, which has led the campaign of international pressure against Iran’s economy. The U.S. and much of the world fears Iran’s enrichment of uranium and other activity could be designed to make nuclear weapons; Iran says its program is meant only to generate power and for other peaceful purposes.The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on this past week’s confidential negotiations, said the sanctions annex was completed this week by experts from Iran and the six world powers in the negotiations: the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. They did not provide details of the agreement.A senior U.S. official did not dispute the diplomats’ account but said work remained to be done on “Annex II” before the issue could be described as finalized. And beyond a political agreement that was still in the draft stage, details also needed to be finalized on tough issues contained in four other appendices. The vital role family plays in societylast_img read more

American sportsman dies in parachute accident in Turkey

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   The Dogan news agency said the 37-year-old from southern California had leapt from an altitude of some 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) when the accident occurred.The Erzincan Municipality said the International Nature and Culture Festival was canceled because of Flanders’ death.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How do cataracts affect your vision? Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Quick workouts for men ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Organizers and media reports say American base jumper Ian Flanders has died in a parachute accident during a nature sports festival in eastern Turkey.Flanders plunged into a river and died when his parachute ropes got wrapped around his legs during a jump from the Karanlik canyon in Turkey’s Erzincan province on July 21. His body was pulled out of the Karasu river, a tributary of the Euphrates, by rescue boats and taken to the Erzincan state hospital morgue.center_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

Wireless on planes okay as long as theres no talking FCm Trave

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/28b70/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=132&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=ada84479″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> As wireless during flight is now becoming a reality instead of pure concept, there is now a push for in-flight etiquette, and a big no-no appears to be loud talking.From a recently online survey conducted by FCm Travel, it appears that travellers who would like to keep in contact while flying are of the opinion that it should only be done through texting and email.“Texting and emailing is pretty unobtrusive but when it comes to voice calls, it seems that few travellers want to be stuck next to someone talking shop for two hours straight or divulging details of their personal life,” Chris Preston, FCm Travel Marketing Manager Australia.In the FCm Travel survey, 44% of respondents still didn’t approve of wireless connectivity during flight, while at the other end of the spectrum 8% of respondents were happy for travellers to talk, text or email during flight.47% of corporate travellers surveyed said texting and emailing, but no talking should be enforced.last_img read more

Airlines to become retail powerhouses by 2013 SITA survey

first_imgAirlines are set to become retail powerhouses, according to the 12th annual SITA/Airline Business IT Trends Survey.The airlines which carry the bulk of the world’s air traffic are set to sell the majority of airline tickets direct to passengers by 2013. The 129 airlines who responded to the 2010 survey carry over one billion passengers and are currently selling 40.8% of tickets directly to the public. This can be further broken down to 25.8% over the internet, 10.7% through call centres and 4.3% interlining. These 129 airlines intend to increase direct sales up to 55.1% by 2013. Sales through airline call centres and interlining are expected to remain static, while direct channel sales through websites are expected to increase by 37.9%.Francesco Violante, SITA CEO, said: “This year’s survey tells us there is a climate of increasing business confidence. “Airlines are investing in IT to provide richer functionality to their online customers and creating additional channels to market in order to increase the level of direct sales now that online distribution is almost universal.”Airlines are prioritizing the implementation of new functionality on their web sites in an effort to boost online sales. They are achieving this in the following ways: online shopping tools (61% have already implemented this); change/cancel/rebook (52%); and frequent flyer redemption functionality (51%).This fits in with the overall airline strategy to help passengers switch to self-service, with airlines planning to reduce the number of passengers processed via agent check-in from 50.7% to 28.9% by 2013. Kiosk check-in is expected to remain at just below 20% while web check-in options will grow to 35.5% in 2013, and mobile check-in will advance from 28% today to 70% by 2013.The survey shows the key role kiosks play in a multi-channel environment with 47% of airlines set to increase the number of new kiosks as they add new functionality for flight transfers and disruption management. The survey also found that 80% of the largest airlines plan to use kiosks as sales points.By 2013, the mobile phone will become an integral tool for airline travel with 86% of airlines planning to offer flight notifications; 80%, online check-in; 76%, send electronic boarding passes to mobiles; and 68% using mobiles to advertise travel offers. Airlines are becoming more skilled at upselling, using fare families and marketing types; unbundling fares, by charging for services (i.e meals and baggage management); and selling non-air services (i.e hotels, car hire and insurance). A large portion of this revenue generation takes place direct on line: 63%, upsell; 41% unbundle; and 51% sell non-air services. In 2013, 91% of survey respondents will have implemented at least one of these ancillary revenue strategies via their own direct web channels.129 airlines responded to this year’s survey, including 14% classified as low cost carriers; 81% full service carriers; 5% charter carriers.The SITA/Airline IT Trends Survey is an independent poll of senior IT personnel working within the top 200 passenger carriers. <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/233ca/” 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> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img read more

Its time for a TCF solution Carnival Australia

first_imgCarnival Australia says it is time to sit down and find a solution that will fill consumer confidence if plans to “abolish” the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) continue.  A draft transition plan unveiled by the Consumer Affairs Ministers earlier this year suggested that the TCF would be phased out in favour of a new compensation group relevant to today’s market.However, with talks still in progress regarding the future of the industry, Ms Sherry said concern was growing about the risk to public confidence in agents, if a suitable “compensation mechanism is not found to replace the TCF”.According to the operator, without an appropriate replacement travellers could be left with limited protection and reduced faith in consultants across the country. “It’s no secret the current TCF arrangement is onerous for travel agents so it’s timely to sit down and find a mechanism that addresses the current challenges and properly balances consumer risk,” Ms Sherry said. Carnival Australia is hosting talks with key travel agent partners and the Australian Federation of Travel Agents this week to discuss a plan, ahead of a state and federal meeting to review the Draft Plan on 7 December this year. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Emirates adds seats to Perth

first_imgEmirates has announced it will add upgrade aircraft on services from Perth, adding an extra 88 seats per day on the route.From 1 June 2013, the airline will replace the Boeing 777-200LR currently operating on the EK24 and EK25 routes to the Boeing 777-300ER.Emirates vice president Australasia Barry Brown said the change will allow more travellers to “secure a seat” on services from Perth.Meanwhile, earlier this month Emirates and its new alliance partner, Qantas unveiled new frequent flyer benefits.Click here for more information.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Aircraft changes from Perth.last_img

Australia receives 133 awards in new Hotelscom global award program

first_imgPerth, WA 4.7 The Langham Melbourne Australia receives 133 awards in new Hotels.com global award programThanks to reviews written by guests who have actually stayed in the properties, Hotels.com® has introduced a new program to recognise hotels that have achieved excellent to outstanding guest review ratings from customers around the world. In the first phase of the program, Hotels.com has identified more than 6,400 boutique properties in 117 countries that have achieved an average guest review rating of 4.5 or higher* (out of 5). To determine the initial recipients, Hotels.com analysed its database of more than 15 million Genuine Guest Reviews, which are verified upon the completion of each guest’s stay. “Our accommodation partners are invaluable assets to Hotels.com and we’re committed to recognising their hard work and dedication to provide guests with the best possible experience,” said Abhiram Chowdhry, Vice President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, Hotels.com. “This program is also a testament to our customers who’ve contributed to the more than 15 million guest reviews that determined these top-performing properties.”Australia garnered 133 awards with Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns tying for first with each destination securing ten awards. The USA received the most awards globally with 1,005, while the UK (730), Italy (701) and Canada (351) filled out the top four. A selection of top Australian hotels as voted by Hotels.com customers  Melbourne, VIC Cairns, QLD 4.9 QT Sydney Fraser Suites Cairns, QLD 4.8 4.8 Source = Hotels.com Crown Towers Melbourne, VIC Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour Hotels.com is encouraging travellers to share their most memorable hotel accommodations using the #LovedbyGuests hashtag.  To view other top-rated hotels around the world, please click here  * To receive an award, properties must have received an average customer review score of 4.5 or higher, based on a minimum of 50 reviews as of January 31, 2015.  4.6 Hilton Melbourne South Wharfcenter_img Gold Coast, QLD Melbourne, VIC City Beachfront Apartments on Trinity Beach Sydney, NSW 4.6 Sea Change Beachfront Apartments Peppers Broadbeach Guest Rating The Playford Adelaide, A Member Of The Mgallery Collection 4.6 4.7 Sydney, NSW Adelaide, SA 4.6 4.7 Hotellast_img read more

New Metro changes the way travellers experience Los Angeles

first_imgNew Metro changes the way travellers experience Los AngelesNew Metro changes the way travellers experience Los AngelesBeginning May 20, 2016, visitors to Los Angeles will have the opportunity to experience the city’s neighbourhoods like never before as Phase 2 of the long-awaited Metro Expo Line Extension from Culver City to Santa Monica is completed.To commemorate this milestone and celebrate the three-year anniversary of its eco-tourism initiative, carfreeL.A., Discover Los Angeles is unveiling two new self-guided itineraries:DISCOVER DOWNTOWN CAR FREE – Dive deep into one of L.A.’s most talked about neighbourhoods and explore new hotel developments, restaurants and cultural attractionsDISCOVER METRO EXPO LINE CAR FREE – Ride the Metro’s 15 mile (24.1km) stretch from Downtown to Santa Monica and experience neighbourhood gems in between.“The Metro Expo Line Extension marks a significant moment in L.A. County’s transit revolution, making it easier and more convenient to see all that L.A. has to offer,” said Ernest Wooden Jr., president and CEO of Discover Los Angeles.“For the first time in 63 years, residents and visitors will be able to travel between Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica aboard a railway. The 6.6 mile (10.6km), USD$1.5billion extension project is proof that our city is committed to changing perceptions of our car-centric roots, while programs like carfreeL.A. enhance the Los Angeles visitor experience without relying on a car.”Downtown Los Angeles is undergoing a major renaissance in multiple facets ranging from celebrated cultural institutions and world-class dining to globally-inspired street art and premier entertainment venues. Metro makes navigating these attractions a breeze with several stops located in and around the neighborhood.The new DISCOVER DOWNTOWN CAR FREE itinerary highlights the new SkySlide, a glass-bottomed slide hovering 1,000 feet above city sidewalks; Grand Central Market, a downtown landmark since 1917; The Last Bookstore, California’s largest used and new book and record store, and so much more.The second self-guided itinerary, DISCOVER METRO EXPO LINE CAR FREE, features must-see and -do activities at multiple stops along the 15 mile stretch from Downtown to Santa Monica, where visitors can hop on and off the Metro and get immersed in distinctly different neighborhoods ranging from Exposition Park, home to a world-class collection of museums, sports facilities and recreations areas; La Brea, hub for culture, shopping, art and dining; Culver City, one of L.A.’s most historic and scenic neighborhoods filled with eclectic mix of bookstores, furniture stores and top notch dining; Westwood, cultural mecca and home base for UCLA, surrounded by Beverly Hills, Century City and Brentwood; and Santa Monica, named one of the Top 10 Beach Cities in the World by National Geographic.“The Metro Expo Line Extension will offer tourists a convenient and enjoyable way to travel from Downtown L.A. to the beaches of Santa Monica and popular neighborhoods in between,” said Metro CEO Phil Washington. “We are excited to debut the newest extension to our network of railways that connect travellers to various L.A. regions, which is home to world-class entertainment, attractions and cultural institutions including, Universal Studios in Hollywood, Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown and so much more.”carfreeL.A. was launched on Earth Day in 2013 and offers self-guided and curated itineraries to explore the city’s neighborhoods via foot, bike and public transportation. Itineraries are centered on exploring various Los Angeles neighborhoods, attractions and hidden gems. Discover Los Angeles Source = Discover Los Angeleslast_img read more

Amazing Thailand Health and Wellness Tourism Showcase 2017

first_imgAmazing Thailand Health and Wellness Tourism Showcase 2017Amazing Thailand Health and Wellness Tourism Showcase 2017The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) recently organised the 4thAmazing Thailand Health and Wellness Tourism Showcase with the theme of ‘Thailand: Paradise for Longevity’ to promote the Kingdom as a destination for products and services for a longer life. The one-day event was held on 11 August, offering special health and wellness deals until 31 December.Mr. Noppadon Pakprot, TAT Deputy Governor for Tourism Products and Business said, “This annual showcase is part of our plan to promote Thailand as a world-class destination for medical tourism. According to a report by VISA and Oxford Economics, Thailand is considered as one of Asia’s top medical tourism destinations. Thailand now has 58 JCI-accredited hospitals, more than any other Southeast Asian country.”During the one-day showcase, 44 health and wellness professionals across the entire range of medial disciplines attended the event to promote Thailand’s health and wellness products to raise international awareness. Medical tourism facilitators and travel agencies from 30 countries worldwide also discussed   business deals with participating health and wellness providers.The event highlighted why Thailand is a ‘Paradise for Longevity’ and an emerging leader in the field of ‘Functional and Regenerative Medicine’. Thailand is the first and only country in Asia with hospitals specialising in ‘Functional & Regenerative Medicine’, including Better Being Hospital and Mali Interdisciplinary Hospital.Thailand is also Asia’s anti-aging centre leader with 500 medical specialists in this sector, the largest number of American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine-certified medical professionals in the region.The Royal Thai Government has approved 90-day visas for patients and medical visitors from Cambodia, Lao PDR., Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) as well as from the People’s Republic of China in a bid to boost Thailand’s medical tourism. This was put in place in 22 March, this year.In addition, long-stay 10-year visas are now available for senior nationals of 14 countries including: Japan, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.TAT is also partnering with Royal Orchid Plus to offer special health and wellness tourism packages until 31 December to help promote medical tourism. This includes an invitation to Royal Orchid Plus Platinum and Gold members to visit Thailand, supported by special packages from leading hospitals and clinics, for complimentary health check-ups.See more at TAT NewsroomSource = The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)last_img read more

Ctrip signs China focused Distribution Agreement

first_img(L-R: Jim Chung: Director, Global Hotel Chains/Ctrip; Ray Chen: CEO, Accommodation Business Unit/Ctrip; David Zhou: CBO, Accommodation Business Unit/Ctrip; Nayan Peshkar: SVP .Digital, Distribution & Revenue Strategy/MHR; Jun Lai: General Manager, International Market & Hotel Chains/Ctrip; Hana Chlebna: Global Online Distribution Manager/MHR)Ctrip signs China focused Distribution Agreement with Millennium Hotels and ResortsCtrip.com International, Ltd. (Nasdaq: CTRP), one of China’s largest integrated travel services companies (“Ctrip”), today signed an agreement with upscale global hoteliers Millennium Hotels and Resorts (MHR) to develop a global distribution strategy promoting MHR properties to Ctrip’s 300 million strong customer base.The agreement was announced jointly at ITB Berlin by David Zhou, Chief Business Officer for Accommodation Business Unit of Ctrip and Nayan Peshkar, MHR Senior Vice President – Digital, Distribution & Revenue Strategy.It marks the start of an alliance enabling Ctrip to offer MHR’s iconic portfolio of hotels in the USA, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia to its China-based business and leisure travel clients. Through the aegis of a strategic collaboration agreement, MHR will partner with Ctrip’s membership program, which will certify its properties as “Chinese Friendly Hotels” and enable them to benefit from Ctrip’s influential ranking system. MHR and Ctrip will also work towards customer initiatives such as the launching of a flagship store on Ctrip’s digital platforms, joint marketing campaigns as well as knowledge sharing and cross exposure programmes for team members.Ctrip is the number one platform for Chinese nationals travelling overseas. About one in four Chinese citizens use Ctrip to book and search for outbound flight tickets, making it the world’s largest outbound travel platform. According to Ctrip’s 2018 Travel Report, its customers’ top destinations are England, France, Germany, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, and USA, all of which are home to hotels owned or operated by MHR and its associates.MHR parent company Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Plc was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1996. At the end of 2018, it operated or branded a portfolio of 139 properties with over 40,000 rooms. Its respected brands are present in 28 nations around the world, including China where it owns and operates the iconic Grand Millennium Hotel Beijing, as well as operating properties in Hong Kong, Xiamen and other major Chinese destinations. The Group has always had a strong Asian franchise, thanks to its majority ownership by City Developments Limited, one of Singapore’s leading corporations. This, combined with its unique range of iconic properties in popular destinations will make it a valuable addition to Ctrip’s customer offering.David Zhou of Ctrip said, “We are so grateful to be enhancing our relationship with MHR. Chinese outbound tourists reached nearly 150 million in 2018, and the growth for this year remains strong. By signing this China–focused distribution agreement with MHR, we are continuing to offer 300 million members the best hotel experience worldwide whilst enhancing MHR’s presence and boosting new business opportunities for them in the China Market.”Nayan Peshkar of MHR said, “We are delighted to be joining forces with Ctrip and thus raising the profile of our hotel offering in the large and fast-growing China travel market. Asia is our second biggest region of operations, so we already have a deep and embedded experience of what it takes to meet the high demands of business and leisure travelers from China. With hotels located in some of the world’s most attractive destinations, we look forward to welcoming more of Ctrip’s customers in the coming year.”About Ctrip.com International, LtdCtrip.com International, Ltd. is a leading provider of online travel and related services, including accommodation reservation, transportation ticketing, package tour and in-destination services, corporate travel management, and other travel related services. It enables business and leisure travellers to make informed and cost-effective bookings by aggregating comprehensive travel related information and offering its services through an advanced transaction and service platform consisting of its mobile apps, Internet websites and centralized, toll-free, 24-hour customer service center. The family of travel brands mainly includes: Ctrip, the largest online travel agency in terms of gross merchandise value and the best-known travel brand in China; Qunar, a leading online travel agency in China; Trip.com, an online travel agency for global consumers; and Skyscanner, a leading global travel search site. Since its inception in 1999, Ctrip Group has experienced substantial growth and become one of the largest travel service providers in the world.About Millennium & Copthorne Hotels PlcMillennium Hotels and Resorts is the umbrella brand of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels plc, a global hospitality management and real estate group, listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: MLC).The company owns and/or manages a worldwide portfolio of more than 136 hotels, offering over 40,000 rooms in business and leisure destinations in Asia, Australasia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. Millennium Hotels and Resorts consist of 4 brand collections: Leng’s Collection, M Collection, Millennium Collection and Copthorne Collection.MHR is a dynamic hospitality group with an outstanding reputation for excellence and taking pride in exceeding the needs of business and leisure travellers. Its properties are well located in the world’s most attractive destinations, including New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Auckland and Beijing. Millennium Hotels and Resorts offer its guests the perfect address for business and leisure alike. Source = Ctrip.com Internationallast_img read more

FHRAI to hold 50th Annual Convention at Bhubaneswar

first_imgThe Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI) has announced plans for holding its Golden Jubilee Convention from September 25-27, 2015 at Mayfair Convention, Bhubaneswar. Odisha Tourism has joined FHRAI as Partner of the event. The theme of the Convention is ‘Atithi Devo Bhavo’ meaning ‘Guest is God’. The event is expecting over 1,000 delegates.The inaugural day will discuss and debate the issues relating to growth of hospitality industry in India. The second day will be Odisha Day, Folk dances, cultural and marketing presentations from the state will be presented. On the concluding day coinciding with the World Tourism Day, a Heritage Walk will be organised jointly with the Government of Odisha which will essentially be a cultural extravaganza with tableau, folk dances and performances. Invitations have been sent out to a number of foreign countries and different states in India to participate in the event. The theme of the walk will be ‘Tourism Unites the World’.Launching the Golden Jubilee Convention mnemonic, Ashok Chandra Panda, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Government of Odisha said “We are pleased that FHRAI has chosen Odisha to hold its Golden Jubilee Convention. Our state has a rich diversity of tourism assets and the event will help us to showcase to the world the splendors of Odisha.”Tejinder Singh Walia, President, FHRAI said, “It is a proud privilege for FHRAI that Odisha Tourism has partnered with us to hold Golden Jubilee Convention, which is for the first time being held in the Tier-II city in eastern India. The 13 states and a union territory comprising the eastern India have immense tourism potential and we are confident that this event will be a catalyst for the growth of tourism in the region.”last_img read more

France executes biometric visa in India

first_imgFrance, in line with all the countries of the Schengen Area, began issuing biometric visas to Indian citizens with effect from November 2, 2015, facilitating travel throughout the area besides easing the process of issuing long-term visas. The French embassy in India will offer a large number of three or five year circulation visas to frequent visitors to the country.With the launch of eight new VFS centres, the number has come up to 14, ensuring best possible proximity to applicants. Children below 12 years of age will be exempted from the procedure. The recorded biometric data will be stored for a period of 59 months, obviating the need for the applicants to come in person for renewal. The data recorded by France will be valid during the period for all the Schengen Area countries.The new system has been introduced to protect and assist visa applicants, to enhance the confidentiality and security of individual data and while reducing risks of fraud and identity theft. The applicant is obliged to come in person only once and the visa can be collected by any authorised person. Visas issued prior to the introduction of biometrics will be valid.The transition to biometrics will neither alter the visa issuance period nor the fee.last_img read more

Masterchef India season 5s semifinal concludes in Sydney

first_imgSydney’s culinary credentials were the highlight at MasterChef India Season 5’s semi-final episodes.  The judges and remaining six contestants cooked their way across the Harbour city’s most iconic locations.From Bondi Beach to the Harbour foreshore, and the Sydney Cricket Ground, judges Chef Vikas Khanna, Chef Kunal Kapur and Zorawar Kalra put the contestants through a series of Master Classes, Pressure Tests and a Mystery Box challenges that saw Dinesh Patel, Kirti Bhautika, Ashima Arora and Mirvan Vinayak through to the season 5 grand finale.Sandra Chipchase, Chief Executive, Destination NSW Officer said, “Sydney was the perfect destination to host the important MasterChef India semi-finals. Home to the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and world-famous beaches, particularly with our food scene dominated by an abundance of local, fresh produce. Sydney really is a haven for food lovers and is one of the world’s favourite culinary capitals.“Combining food and wine experiences, including visiting the Sydney Cricket Ground, shopping for local produce at Bondi Beach, and taking in the beautiful harbour and surrounds, the MasterChef India crew has showcased some of New South Wales’ quintessential produce such as South Coast Oysters, Macadamias, John Dory Fish and Lemon Myrtle. Fans of the show are able to add these food and tourist experiences to their own itinerary when planning their visit to Sydney and New South Wales,” added Chipchase.last_img read more

Mortgage Activity Declines in All Categories to Start November

first_img Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies FHA Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Applications Refinance Service Providers 2012-11-06 Krista Franks Brock in Data, Origination, Servicing Mortgage activity was down across the board last week, dropping 11 percent from the previous week and by almost one-third from the same week last year, according to the _U.S. Mortgage Market Index_ from “”Mortech Inc.””:http://mortech.com/ and “”_Mortgage Daily._””:http://www.mortgagedaily.com/[IMAGE]The biggest drop over the week ending November 2 was among adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), while the smallest decline was seen among purchase financing inquiries. [COLUMN_BREAK]ARMs were down 19.5 percent from the previous week and almost 75 percent from a year ago. Purchase price finance inquiries were down 10.8 percent over the week, the smallest decline for the week. However, purchase activity is still significantly lower than this time last year. Current purchase rates are a little more than half of what was recorded this time last year. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans loans fell in line with a 10.9 percent decline.Compared to last year, FHA loans are down 29.3 percent. However, their market share is on par with last year’s. FHA loans made up 10.3 percent of loans last week, while last year they made up 10 percent. Conventional mortgages were down 11 percent and down about a third from last year. Refinances declined 11.1 percent but made up about the same percentage of mortgage activity as the previous week–74.6 percent. Jumbo mortgages saw the second-highest activity decline last week, falling 14.7 percent, even as the jumbo-conforming spread narrowed from 67 basis points to 63 basis points for the week ending November 2. November 6, 2012 444 Views center_img Share Mortgage Activity Declines in All Categories to Start Novemberlast_img read more