The Kolkata wing of SKAL will host the SKAL National Congress 2018. SKAL Kolkata will host it’s very first SKAL National Congress 2018 event in Kolkata from – August 17-19, 2018. The event will take place in Novotel Kolkata Hotel and Residences. SKAL Kolkata is one of the oldest club which was formed on April 30, 1954 and is one of the Active SKAL Clubs in India having 150+ members who are from top management of some of the leading organisations of the tourism industry in Kolkata constituting travel agents, tour operators, hotels, airlines.Speaking on the occasion, Sanjeev Mehra, Secretary remarked, “We want to create awareness to work together to enhance our vision, maximise networking opportunities and develop a responsible tourism industry. We want to focus our efforts on the National Congress 2018 in Kolkata for which we hope to welcome 600-750 members.”There will be networking sessions and conferences for the members in the event. The objective of the club is to promote West Bengal as a MICE and tourism destination, bringing all the Skalleagues across all regions from India and abroad under one umbrella. This is an opportunity to ensure that the travel industry grows strong and becomes more proactive in this sector by inviting Foreign Direct Investments.
January 15, 2016 703 Views 2015 Fourth Quarter Earnings Statement PNC U.S. Bancorp 2016-01-15 Staff Writer in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News, Origination U.S. Bancorp, PNC Profits and Mortgage Revenues Decline U.S. Bancorp and the PNC Financial Services Group Inc., reported Friday morning that net income at both banks is down from the previous year, and the results for mortgage banking revenues at both banks followed right along, according to Q4 earnings statements for both banks released on Friday.U.S. Bancorp’s 2015 fourth quarter earnings statement showed that its net income for the fourth quarter of 2015 totaled $1,476 million, or $0.80 per share, down 0.8 percent from $1,488 million, or $0.79 per share reported in the fourth quarter of 2014 and down 0.9 percent from $1.489 million in the third quarter of 2015.The bank’s said that their fourth quarter earnings decrease is credited to a “higher provision for credit losses, lower noninterest income, impacted by the 2014 Nuveen gain, partially offset by increases in payments-related revenue and trust and investment management fees and the gain on the sale of a Health Savings Account deposit portfolio, along with an increase in net interest income primarily driven by growth in earning assets.”U.S. Bancorp Chairman, President and CEO Richard K. Davis noted, “U.S. Bancorp delivered a remarkable performance in 2015; a year underscored by persistent and historically low interest rates, modest economic growth, and increasing regulatory requirements. More than any year in recent history, 2015 required strong management focus as we balanced decisions on operating efficiencies with opportunities for investing in future growth and addressing our customers’ needs. U.S. Bancorp rose to that challenge, delivering record net income and diluted EPS for the year and continuing with industry-leading performance metrics.”Average total loans grew 4.2 percent, or $10.3 billion year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2015 to reach $256.7 billion, with residential mortgages contributing 2.1 percent to this growth, according to the statement. Residential mortgages totaled 53.0 billion, up from 51.8 billion in the previous quarter and 51.9 billion last year.Despite the increase in loan volume, however, mortgage banking revenue for U.S. Bancorp totaled $211 million in Q4, down over-the-quarter from $2.24 million and over-the-year from $235 million. The decline in mortgage banking revenue was primarily due to “an unfavorable change in the valuation of mortgage servicing rights, net of hedging activities,” according to the statement. Overall noninterest income was down by $30 million over-the-year for U.S. Bancorp (from $2.370 billion down to $2.340 billion), though it did increase over-the-quarter by $14 million.”As we look to 2016, we are well positioned to continue providing quality products and services to our customers and exceptional value to our shareholders from a position of strength and stability that our stakeholders have come to expect from U.S. Bancorp,” Davis said.U.S. BancorpPNC’s 2015 net income total was $4.1 billion, or $7.39 per share, down from 2014’s profits of $4.2 billion, or $7.30 share, according to the bank’s 2015 fourth quarter earnings statement. In addition, 2015 fourth quarter earnings were $1.0 billion, or $1.87 per share, compared with $1.1 billion, or $1.90 per share, for the third quarter of 2015 and $1.1 billion, or $1.84 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2014.The institution stated that its fourth quarter results reflect “revenue growth over the third quarter in both net interest income and fee income, a continued focus on disciplined expense management, and higher loans and deposits.”Residential mortgage banking noninterest income decreased $12 million primarily as a result of lower loan sales revenue, the statement showed. Residential mortgages totaled $113 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, down from last quarter’s number of $125 million and last year’s number of $135 million. Mortgage loans declined despite an increase in total loans PNC by $1.7 billion as of December 31, 2015 compared with September 30, 2015.“PNC delivered consistent, quality results and advanced our strategic priorities in 2015,” said William S. Demchak, Chairman, President and CEO. “We increased fee income, reduced expenses and managed a strong balance sheet that will benefit from rising interest rates heading into 2016. Our strong capital position enabled us to increase the amount of capital returned to shareholders in 2015. We’re positioned to continue to drive long-term value through our execution in 2016 and beyond.”PNCClick here to view U.S. Bancorp’s 2015 fourth quarter earnings statement.Click here to view PNC’s 2015 fourth quarter earnings statement. Share
January 6, 2017 620 Views Reps. Luetkemeyer, Duffy Among New Subcommittee Heads House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who was recently re-elected to a third term in that position, has announced that Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Missouri) will take over as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin) will assume the role of Chairman of the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee for the 115th Congress.“I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to pass laws that promote a dynamic economy with more jobs, higher wages and greater economic freedom for all Americans,” Hensarling said. “Our committee will continue to develop bold, forward-looking plans that hold Washington and Wall Street accountable, end taxpayer-funded bailouts and protect consumer choice.”Luetkemeyer served as the Chairman of the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee during the 114th Congress. In July 2016, a Luetkmeyer-sponsored bill, H.R. 3700, better known as the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act, became law. The bill includes reforms to FHA’s restrictions on condo financing and helps veterans achieve homeownership. It passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate.In November 2016, the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee held a hearing examined the nation’s housing appraisal system, determining that complex and outdated system results in more lengthy closings and increased costs to consumers and is therefore in need of an overhaul. Luetkemeyer declared in that hearing that as far as the “regulatory regime surrounding appraisals, it seems we’re stuck in 1989.”He is taking over as Chairman of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee for Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), who announced in September 2015 that he would not be seeking re-election.“It is a great honor to be named the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit,” Luetkemeyer said. “Helping small businesses, families, and consumers access affordable credit is critical to growing our economy and I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure all Americans have access to the tools they need to reach financial independence.”Blaine LuetkmeyerSean DuffyAccording to Luetkemeyer’s website, the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit “oversees all financial regulators including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Comptroller of the Currency. It also oversees all matters pertaining to consumer credit including the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and overall access to financial services. The Subcommittee is also charged with overseeing the safety and soundness of the U.S. banking system.”Duffy will take over Luetkmeyer’s former position as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance. According to Duffy’s website, the jurisdiction of that Subcommittee includes the National Flood Insurance Program, public and private housing, urban development, the Rural Housing Service, Government-Sponsored Enterprises, Federal Housing Agency, Federal Housing Administration, and HUD.“Many elements of our housing market need to be made to work for all Wisconsinites—rural families, in particular, have been left behind. I look forward to working with Dr. Carson to bring much needed change to HUD and to improve housing for all. I’ll defend Wisconsin taxpayers as we reform National Flood Insurance, the FHA, and other programs. I’ll also ensure that the Wisconsin insurance industry, an important engine of our state’s economy, has a strong voice in Congress.”Click here to view the complete leadership list for the House Financial Services Committee. House Financial Services Committee Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer Rep. Sean Duffy 2017-01-06 Seth Welborn Share in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News
Share in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News Brian Moynihan, Chairman and CEO, Bank of AmericaA number of factors are affecting the housing market. Despite these changes, one needs to keep perspective when analyzing this industry, according to Brian Moynihan, Chairman, and CEO of Bank of America, who recently spoke about the changes in mortgage interest caps and the macro factors affecting housing at CNBC’s Net/Net event in New York.Speaking about the changes to the cap in the mortgage interest that homeowners could write off, implemented in the Tax Cuts Act, Moynihan said that it was unchartered territory for many homeowners as well as financial institutions because the home mortgage interest deduction was “so jealously protected for so many years. And $10,000 is a pretty healthy amount of interest.”However, he said that these changes wouldn’t have a huge effect on homeowners because to qualify for that kind of cap on a mortgage, “a household’s probably got to have a $100,000 to $125,000 of income, a little bit more. So a couple hundred dollars a month isn’t going to make the decision different.” At the most, Moynihan said it would slow down a homeowner’s decision to upgrade. “But I think we’ve got to be careful about over-estimating across the 60 million households that have debt out of 130 million households in America.”Touching upon the high-interest rate environment and the health of the housing market, Moynihan said, “Housing is at tails,” as a number of factors were affecting the housing market, but they should be kept in perspective, especially since the rising rates will not change the market in any major way. “We still did, around, 10.5 billion of mortgage loans this quarter. Last year we probably did 13 billion,” Moynihan told the audience.Looking at the effect of population on housing, Moynihan said, “At the end of the day, without population growth that we had in the mid-2000s at 1.5 percent the demand for housing is going to sort of ebb and flow a little differently.”Looking at the larger market, Moynihan said that housing construction was growing evenly because of locational problems. “It’s really tight in cities like Charlotte where we’re trying to build tens of thousands of units for workers because we’re short. In other places, there’s an excess of supply,” especially in cities that are still recovering from the Great Recession. Despite rising home prices and inventory remaining down, for the most part, Moynihan said that they were fine for now. “But we got to watch it because it’ll be a leading indicator of people’s belief in their wealth if we see housing prices tip over,” he said. October 17, 2018 683 Views BofA CEO Moynihan Speaks on Housing Trends Bank of America homeowners HOUSING mortgage Supply 2018-10-17 Radhika Ojha
Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires 2) Play actionIf Arizona is in third-and-short, they can run the ball for the first down. This eats clock with a fresh set of downs, keeping Manning on the sideline. It also gives great credibility to a Drew Stanton play fake. Denver’s defense is good when they can create situations that force you to be one-dimensional. If you have the option to run or pass, it minimizes the effectiveness of their playmakers. To win, Stanton will need every advantage possible. The uselessness of a third-and-9 play fake will only make it easier to bring him down.Manning is in a similar situation. Todd Bowles wants to bring the house. The success of a third-and-long blitz could pay huge dividends against Denver. A third-and-short blitz that gets telegraphed to Manning will lead to extra point attempts. In order to take advantage of Bowles’ skill as a defensive play-caller, the play fake has to be removed as a strong weapon. The key, therefore, is to eliminate four and five-yard gains on first down.3) Hit ManningDon’t jump offsides. The Denver crowd is great at staying quiet. It’s so easy for the defenders to hear Manning, making it easier to jump offsides because of his outstanding cadence. Every pass-rusher for Arizona must know that a sack is nice, but hitting Manning is the key. Even if he completes a big pass play, he must have to get up off the ground after the throw. Consistent hits force him off his spot. If his back foot plants with minimal pressure, the Cards lose. Sacking Manning wins the game for Arizona. Hitting Manning gives Arizona the chance to win. Giving Manning time to throw means wait for Sunday Night Football to see if Cincinnati will remain as the only unbeaten. Top Stories The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo I’m spending my Sunday watching college football!Obviously, that may sound confusing but I’ll be traveling to Southern California and watching ASU all day Saturday, so I’ll miss the games. Give me the third-greatest invention of all-time (the DVR), and I’ll be watching all these great games that I’ll miss.Nationally, all eyes are on the SEC West this weekend. #6 Texas A&M at #12 Mississippi State, #3 Alabama at #11 Ole Miss, and #15 LSU is at #5 Auburn. That’s an amazing schedule for the entire country. In the SEC West, that’s just a normal gameday. Locally, all three teams in this state have or have had huge road games against “ranked” opponents. Each game has a national stage feel to it but each team has a different role on the stage. Arizona was the opening act against Oregon. We looked at them Wednesday and they actually did a few of the things we discussed in their win. Thursday, ASU was the focus for their road game versus USC. Today, we wonder how can the Cardinals come home from Denver undefeated.OWN THE STAGEArizona needed a win to get the stage door open on the national stage. Arizona State needs to beat USC just to keep from being pushed off the stage. The Cardinals are already on the stage as one of two remaining unbeaten teams, but this is the opportunity to get the nation to flood the theater to see the Cardinals on stage. Here’s what I hope to see for the Cards to be 4-0:1) Win first downThis is not offense or defense specific, it’s both. Arizona can’t win if Peyton Manning is in third-and-short. Arizona can’t eat the clock on offense if it’s in third-and-long. Third-down conversions will be a huge stat in this game, as will time of possession — two stats that often go hand-in-hand. It’s too simple to just look at third-down conversions because they’re normally a product of gaining good yards on first down. Which leads to… Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling 0 Comments Share Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact
A small crowd of enterprising dancers convened for the last performance of the festival event. [photo & text: Logan Bier] June 27, 2011The second day of the 13th annual Juneteenth Festival began with a lively performance by Shri, including members Lee Lozowick (vocals), Deborah Auletta (vocals), Doug Fulker (guitar & vocals), Franck Giambelluco (guitar), Nachama Greenwald (harmonica), Steve Ball (Hammond organ & electric piano), Tina Zuccarello (bass) and Zac Parker (drums). The band’s discography includes thirteen original albums, including their latest, Lucky Thirteen (2009). [photo: sue & text: Logan Bier] The crowd quickly grew more lively and energetic, making a wonderful finale for another very successful and fun weekend at Arcosanti.Many thanks to all of the residents, volunteers, performers and musicians that made this event possible![photo & text: Logan Bier] The Juneteenth festival drew to a close with a second, extended performance by Turner Jr. & Flavor, a reggae/funk band. [read more about this group at Daily Progress 2011/6/22 : /today/2011/06/22/1308759202172.html ]
The mother of the youngest victim of May’s Manchester terror attack, eight-year-old Saffie Roussos, knew her daughter had died despite being in a coma when the girl was found, the girl’s father told the BBC on Tuesday.Saffie’s father, Cyprus-born Andrew Roussos decided to publicly speak out on his family’s loss on the day that would have been his daughter’s ninth birthday.Speaking on Victoria Derbyshire programme, Roussos described his daughter as “a stunning young girl”, who loved dancing, music and gymnastics.Saffie Rose Roussos was among the 22-people killed in a terror attack after an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, when a suicide bomber detonated a shrapnel-laden bomb at the exit of Manchester Arena. The eight-year-old, a huge fan of Ariana Grande, had gone to the concert with her mother Lisa and older sister Ashlee Bromwich, 26, both of whom were injured in the explosion.“She was a joker. She was a huge character. She was just everything you could wish for in a little girl,” Roussos said.Saffie, he said, would love her pictures to be on, and to be spoken about on TV, as she loved fame and stardom.The night of the attack, he said he went at the stadium where he found Ashley being treated.“It was chaos. You’re panicking and worrying. You don’t know what’s going on,” he said.He later found out that his wife was at the Salford Royal Hospital but had heard nothing of Saffie.Despite fears that his daughter might have died, he kept his hope alive, thinking she was in one of the hotels that took in unaccompanied children that got separated from their parents during the incident.He was later informed by a police detective that his daughter had died.“I couldn’t take it in. I just sat there looking at him,” he said. “It’s just your worst nightmare. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to think,” he said.His wife, Lisa, was placed in an induced coma due to her injuries, but when she woke, she knew her daughter had died.“Saffie’s gone, isn’t she?” Roussos said quoting his wife.He said he just nodded. “That’s all that was said really”.Roussos’ wife is still recovering and has had multiple operations. He said she is improving at a much quicker rate than doctors had expected.The whole family are now supporting each other to overcome their sorrow.“We do a little bit of laughing, a little bit of joking, a little bit of crying and cuddling, and that’s how we get through the day,” Roussos said.He said that when he met with Ariana Grande before her One Love Manchester concert in June, to help raise funds for those who were injured and the relatives of those who died in the attack, he told her he was thankful that Saffie had managed to enjoy her entire concert before she died and that the attack had not taken place before the singer had finished her performance.“All she could say to me was, ‘I’m sorry’, and I said, ‘You’ve got nothing to be sorry for. You made Saffie so happy with what you do’.You May LikeFigLeaf Beta AppHow to Become Fully Anonymous Online in Less Than 3 Minutes? Better safe than sorryFigLeaf Beta AppUndoClassmates.comLook For Any High School Yearbook, It’s FreeClassmates.comUndoTruthFinder People Search SubscriptionOne Thing All Liars Have in Common, Brace YourselfTruthFinder People Search SubscriptionUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Categories: Steven Johnson News 03Sep Rep. Johnson announces September office hours State Representative Steve Johnson invites residents of the 72nd House District to join him during local office hours:Thursday, September 20, 2018Allegan CountySimply Celia’s142 S. Main St. in Wayland8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.Kent CountyBob Evans6565 Kalamazoo Ave. SE in Gaines Twp.10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.“One of my top priorities as State Representative is to always be accessible to the people I am elected to serve,” said Johnson, R-Wayland. “I have personally held 32 local office hours since taking office for residents to personally share their concerns, ask questions and get help with issues involving state government.”No appointment is necessary and there is no cost to attend. Those unable to attend are encouraged to call Rep. Johnson’s office at 517-373-0840, email StevenJohnson@house.mi.gov or visit his website at www.RepJohnson.com.
Categories: Steven Johnson News State Rep. Steven Johnson’s plan allowing people to use and possess CBD oil in Michigan has been approved by the Michigan House with overwhelming bipartisan support.Johnson said CBD oil, or cannabidiol, is not marijuana and a medical marijuana card should not be required to purchase, use or possess it in Michigan, as the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) currently requires.“CBD oil won’t get you high,” Johnson said. “It’s derived from hemp and contains no more than 0.3 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). But LARA decided in May to start classifying it the same way they do marijuana, which contains 5 to 35 percent THC.”Johnson said many people use CBD oil derived from hemp to treat pain, anxiety and depression, and to reduce the prevalence of epileptic seizures.“So now all of the people who were using this medicine either have to stop – or go through the process of getting a medical marijuana card,” Johnson said. “Hemp is not marijuana, and that should be clearly reflected in our policies.”Johnson’s legislation clarifies in Michigan law that CBD oil derived from hemp should not require a medical marijuana card to possess. The plan would also allow industrial hemp to be grown in Michigan.The plan, laid out in House Bills 6330, 6331 and 6380, now moves to the Senate for consideration.### 15Oct Rep. Johnson plan allowing CBD oil in Michigan receives House approval
State Rep. Jason Sheppard this week introduced legislation to increase the fines for drivers who text while driving.Sheppard’s plan increases the penalty for texting while driving in Michigan from $100 for a first violation to $250, and from $200 for a second violation up to $500.“When we get behind the wheel, we are responsible for our actions,” Sheppard said. “It’s my belief if drivers face higher fines for texting and driving, they may think twice before texting so they keep their focus where it should be – on the road.”Sheppard noted the recent case of a distracted driver involved in a crash on U.S. 23 in Monroe County, killing a mother and her daughter. The driver was charged with one count of reckless driving causing death.“Statistics are telling us that more people are not driving responsibly. If you’re the driver, set a good example by making the best choice for you and everyone on the road by putting the phone down and being responsible,” Sheppard said. “No text message is worth someone’s life.”The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash.House Bill 4199 has been referred to the House Transportation Committee.### Categories: News,Sheppard News 15Feb Rep. Sheppard’s plan increases penalties for texting while driving
Share180TweetShareEmail180 Shares November 9, 2014; Eagle-TribuneNPQ has written repeatedly about the proliferation of fundraising scams that use veterans or first responders as bait. These programs deplorably exploit not only the veterans but the public with some of the most outrageous preying on older and more vulnerable givers.Today, on Veterans Day, you will undoubtedly read many heartwarming stories about the efforts of local nonprofits reaching out to veterans—not just the post-9/11 veterans that have captured the attention of the American public in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but older veterans as well. In Lawrence, Massachusetts, for example, the New England Veterans Liberty House is helping 91-year-old Herman Bazin, a veteran of the Normandy invasion, with home repairs delivered by volunteers and with services through Meals on Wheels and the Veterans Administration. A little disconcerting is information from the organization’s 2013 Form 990 indicating that NEVLH hired a firm called All Pro Productions to conduct telephone-based fundraising. The firm raised $301,600 in gross receipts, retained $244,093 as the fundraiser’s fee (80.9 percent), and delivered $57,507 to the nonprofit, and NEVLH’s 990 reports spending $8,618 on “veterans assistance.”All Pro’s keeping more than four of every five dollars raised for the veterans nonprofit is a bit worse than what was revealed in 2013 in a report of the Massachusetts Attorney General on telemarketing, in which the firm raised money for the Ware Police Union, keeping more than two-thirds, and the Lunenberg Police Relief Association, retaining more than 70 percent as its fee. Apparently, All Pro Productions, founded by former New England Patriots lineman Fred Smerlas in 1995, has encountered criticism before for its telemarketing tactics, including one report in which All Pro’s telemarketers allegedly identified themselves as firefighters in their fundraising campaign for Professional Firefighters of Hudson Local 3154. An All Pro telemarketing campaign for the Ipswich firefighters union apparently also delivered only about 30 cents on the dollar to the union.On Veterans Day, we’re concerned about fundraising for veterans nonprofits of all kinds, small like NEVLH and large too. According to the Massachusetts AG’s report, All Pro Productions raised $955,198 for the New England Paralyzed Veterans of America, but kept around 76 percent and delivered 26 percent to NEPV. PVA isn’t unhappy with All Pro Productions, indicating that it calls on All Pro year-round rather than for one-time telemarketing extravaganzas. It may be that for the New England Veterans Liberty House, turning to All Pro Productions for its fundraising in 2013 was worth the cost, as 2013 appears to have been the nonprofit’s first full year of operations. Perhaps NEVLH anticipates that with the fundraising grounding of year one, All Pro’s efforts in 2014 will prove more lucrative and the nonprofit will be able to keep a much larger share of the total. Or, as with the scandalous telemarketing numbers generated for Viet Now that led to a Supreme Court ruling, NEVLH justifies its low take from the telemarketing as more than fundraising, as education for the public about the needs of veterans in the Lawrence area.There are probably plenty of explanations that might be ginned up by All Pro Productions and others to explain and justify NEVLH’s take of less than 20 cents on each dollar raised from donors. Somehow, when fundraising for veterans on Veterans Day, those explanations don’t seem particularly persuasive—even if NEVLH volunteers are helping WWII vet Herman Bazin with needed home repairs.—Rick CohenShare180TweetShareEmail180 Shares
Share24TweetShare3Email27 Sharesuntitled (refugees welcome) / Tilman KönekeJuly 26, 2016; Thomson Reuters FoundationAfter the disappointment experienced by immigration advocates in the wake of the Supreme Court’s deadlock on the expansion of deferred action programs for childhood arrivals and parents of Americans (DAPA and DACA+), an announcement by the Obama administration this week was a welcome step, however small, towards meeting the needs of asylum-seekers.What the announcement lays out is a plan to expand the number of refugees from the so-called “Northern Triangle” countries (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) who may legally enter the United States. It involves a series of measures designed to ensure the safety of those seeking asylum while addressing national security concerns in host countries. In a conference call announcing the changes, Amy Pope, a deputy homeland security advisor, said that current efforts are insufficient for addressing the number of individuals from these countries with legitimate refugee claims, and that the appropriate mechanisms don’t exist under which they can apply.The plan is quite modest and, at best, will apply to only a few hundred individuals initially. Some will be allowed to apply for refugee status in their own countries. For those deemed too at risk to remain in their home countries while being processed by the Department of Homeland Security for possible resettlement, Costa Rica will serve as a temporary host for up to 200 applicants at a time. This is significant, as persuading countries to participate in the asylum and resettlement process has historically been difficult due to concerns about refugees stuck in transition and other bureaucratic obstructions. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has agreed to set up a process for determining who would be eligible for temporary humanitarian visas and how procedures are implemented.According to Avideh Moussavian, policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center: While today’s announcement is a positive development, it does highlight a troubling hypocrisy on the part of the administration. On one hand, it is responding to the situation in Central America as an urgent humanitarian one for those currently living in the dangerous conditions of these countries. However, it continues to subject Central Americans fleeing those same perilous circumstances to punitive and terrifying enforcement tactics once they arrive at our borders seeking safe haven.Since the surge in migration from Central America that occurred in 2014, 600 people have been admitted into the country as refugees, including 267 children under the Central American Minors program, set up for children with parents legally living in the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security cites 2,880 minors who have been approved under that program and are awaiting resettlement. To address the issue of children traveling alone, the program has been expanded, and will now allow siblings and qualified caregivers to apply for refugee status alongside the child.According to the Council on Foreign Relations, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras consistently rank among the most violent countries in the world with El Salvador, because of its gang-related violence, earning the distinction of “the most violent country not at war.”In 2015, the Honduran newspaper La Prensa conducted an investigation which revealed that “Salvadorans and Hondurans pay an estimated $390 million and $200 million, respectively, in extortion fees to organized crime groups.” Sadly, the report found that these groups typically target small businesses, poor residents, and public transportation operators. In Guatamala, more than 400 transportation workers were killed in 2014.Historically, organized crime is a legacy of the region’s decades of war. According to a background piece prepared by the Council on Foreign Relations:In El Salvador, fighting between the military-led government and leftist guerrilla groups (1979–92) left as many as seventy-five thousand dead, and Guatemala’s civil war (1960–96) killed as many as two-hundred thousand civilians. Honduras did not have a civil war of its own, but nonetheless felt the effects of its neighbors’ conflicts; it served as a staging ground for U.S.-backed Contras, a right-wing rebel group fighting Nicaragua’s Sandinista government during the 1980s. Organized crime grew following these civil wars, particularly in El Salvador, where war produced “a large pool of demobilized and unemployed men with easy access to weapons,” according to [a previous] CFR report. In Guatemala, illegal armed groups and clandestine security apparatuses grew out of state intelligence and military forces.Organized crime in the Northern Triangle includes transnational criminal organizations, many of which are associated with Mexican drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs); domestic organized-crime groups; transnational gangs, or maras, such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Eighteenth Street Gang (M-18); and pandillas, or street gangs.In 2011, the World Bank declared that drug trafficking constitutes “the main single factor behind rising levels of violence in the region.” In addition, low tax revenues in these countries, combined with corruption, attempts at mass incarceration resulting in overcrowded prisons, and weak civil institutions, have undermined any attempts in the past several decades to address these issues. According to Cynthia Arnson and Eric Olson at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, efforts to reform and professionalize police forces during the two countries’ peace processes were incomplete:There has been so much penetration of the state and so much criminal involvement in security forces, it makes it difficult to think about how they would [reform] without some outside intervention.The U.S. gave more than a billion dollars to the region between 2008 and 2015, and in January of this year released a fact sheet reaffirming its commitment to the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America, “a multiyear effort to assist the governments of Central America to build a safer and more prosperous future for their citizens, including through supporting governments to become more transparent, accountable, and capable of providing basic services and upholding the rule of law.” Obligations on the part of countries in the Northern Triangle include undertaking reforms in border security, government accountability, human rights, and the collection of government revenues.Spelled out in the fact sheet are plans to expand access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for vulnerable asylum seekers from the region, offering a legal alternative to entering the country through human smugglers. The intention is to enable the UNHCR and its regional partners to identify persons in need of protection and better address the needs of those threatened by gang violence as well as human rights defenders who have been targeted.The Obama administration believes that a safe, stable, and prosperous Central America is vital in order to achieve a future where the Western Hemisphere is middle class, democratic, and secure.Early this month, the Organization of American States (OAS) and UNHCR convened a gathering hosted by the government of Costa Rica, which brought together government representatives from around the region and officials from the UN, Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank and other humanitarian and development NGOs to discuss solutions to the growing crisis. The meeting coincided with the recent release of the annual Global Trends report by UNHCR, which showed that in 2015, 65.3 million people—one in every 113 people on the planet—were either seeking asylum, internally displaced in their own countries, or a refugee. This number constitutes the highest number in history, with an increase of 10 percent over last year alone. As pointed out in the report, while much international attention has focused on refugees arriving in Europe, the number of refugees and asylum-seekers with pending cases from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has increased by more than fivefold, from 20,900 people in 2012 to 109,800 people in 2015.The takeaway from the OAS gathering was a series of comprehensive actions, including a provision of international protection for asylum-seekers and protection measures in the countries of origin. As the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, points out in a video accompanying the UNHCR report, “Instead of developing asylum systems that are hospitable, that recognize the hardship and the difficulties and the reasons for people to flee, barriers are erected.”This sentiment is echoed by Michelle Brané of the Women’s Refugee Commission and one of the nation’s foremost experts on immigration detention and reform. She applauded the administration’s announcement while pointing out its symbolic significance, particularly coming at a time when all eyes are on the southern border. “It’s a drop in the bucket,” she said, “but it’s a start.”Pointing out that neighboring countries in the region are also feeling the effects of the problem, she noted, “Over the last five years, asylum applications in Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, and Nicaragua have risen dramatically, with all of those countries reporting huge increases in the number of arrivals. What’s good about this new approach is that it’s a sign that this is a major regional issue. It’s not what we would prefer in terms of numbers, but it starts to create another alternative that is safer and more orderly than border enforcement programs alone.”When asked what she saw as hallmarks of a well-considered immigration reform program, Brané replied, “We need to approach it from all sides. We have to be realistic—we can’t deport everyone who is undocumented in this country. It’s simply not a sustainable solution. Border enforcement doesn’t mean you build a wall, it means you’ve got a system where you’re able to screen and funnel people in appropriately—or turn them away. For those here, we need a legalization program. And I’m completely in favor of one that makes people jump through hurdles, learning English, paying back taxes, taking all of the requisite steps. But we need to rethink and develop a system for how we’ll admit immigrants both now and in the future.”According to Brané, the resettlement system already in place in this country (in 2015, the U.S. resettled nearly 70,000 refugees) is too often forgotten.We have a wonderful system right now that uses the strength and resources of our government, private, faith-based, and volunteer sectors to place people and acclimate them to their new country. It’s a very successful model that other countries have always looked to, but it, too, needs sufficient resources and updates to survive.While there have been positive signs of an emerging movement against the corruption and high-level criminality in Guatemala and Honduras—what the Economist and others have dubbed the “Central American Spring,” no one expects change to come quickly. In the meantime, the largest challenge in the US remains working across the political divide to craft a bipartisan solution for comprehensive immigration reform. As Brané puts it, “The system we have in place now is simply not meeting the demand of this country, or of the immigrants themselves. We wouldn’t have all these undocumented people working here if the system was working.”—Patricia SchaeferShare24TweetShare3Email27 Shares
NDS is supplying the conditional access technology for German cable operator Kabel BW’s CI Plus offering.Kabel BW launched CI Plus at the beginning of the month, enabling viewers with compatible TVs to view its digital services without the need for a set-top box. The module is based on NDS’s VideoGuard CA system.Yves Padrines, NDS vice-president and general manager EMEA said: “As one of Germany’s largest cable operators Kabel BW are in a great position to expand the reach of their service to further devices. With a quality content offering, their new CI Plus modules ensure that an ever increasing number of people have access to their platform. We are proud to be supporting Kabel BW in this initiative, and look forward to continuing to support them in future developments.”
Italian media group Mediaset has won full control of the mediaset.com domain name after a court ruling.A Rome court ruled that Fenicius LLC must stop using the domain after Mediaset said the company acquired it “with the aim of achieving association with the well-known brand Mediaset.“ The media company said the ruling opened a wider debate into the protection of brand and trade names online. It said: “In this case, an immediate appeal to the courts by Mediaset has produced the desired and expected result. But the fact remains that the issue has become a veritable jungle that needs to be cleared. And legal action cannot be the right solution as it requires companies to invest intellectual and economic resources and helps to clog the civil justice system. The problem is now apparently urgent and would ask the appropriate authorities take note and to act.”
The editor of the BBC News Channel, Kevin Bakhurst, has left the UK public broadcaster’s news channel for its Irish counterpart RTÉ.Bakhurst has been at the BBC since 2005 and will become managing director of news and current affairs at RTÉ and a member of the broadcaster’s executive board. He joins the Irish broadcaster in September.