NonOrthodox Jews start making inroads in Israel


first_img Top Stories 0 Comments   Share   More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family This scene, common in liberal synagogues across America, is an anomaly in Israel, where religious life is dominated by a strict ultra-Orthodox establishment that sees such gender-mixing, ordaining of female rabbis and alterations to the traditional prayers as anathema to their way of life and resists any inroads by the more liberal streams of Judaism.But more liberal Jews now see a crack in that monopoly.Following a landmark Supreme Court ruling, Israel’s attorney general recently announced that a limited group of 15 non-Orthodox rabbis will begin to receive government funding like some 2,000 of their Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox counterparts.The Reform and Conservative movements in Israel are celebrating the decision as a watershed. While the two movements dominate American Jewish life, they are largely sidelined in Israel, where they are derided by the Orthodox religious establishment as second-class Jews who ordain women and gays and are overly inclusive toward converts and interfaith marriages. The generous government support for the Orthodox rabbis over the years has added to the marginalization.The debate boils down to the core of religious life in Israel, and the tenuous relationship between state and religion. It also touches on the essence of the Zionist vision of creating a state that can be both Jewish and democratic. Hershkowitz has demanded an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to voice his objections.The development was made possible thanks to American-born Reform Rabbi Miri Gold, who petitioned the Supreme Court in 2005 and demanded equal financing. Gold, born and raised near Detroit, heads a congregation in Kibbutz Gezer in central Israel. Like other members of the Reform movement, Gold also thinks the state shouldn’t be financing religious institutions at all. But she wasn’t ready to have her tax money go to the ultra-Orthodox while liberal rabbis like herself were barred.“More and more Israelis are taking back their Jewish identity and realizing that Orthodoxy is not the answer,” said Yizhar Hess, who heads the Israeli Conservative, or “Masorati,” movement. “This is a shift that has yet to materialize in politics, where they have yet to realize that Israeli society is ready for a paradigm shift.”Liberal rabbis don’t expect the change to happen overnight. “It’s fine with me that there is more demand now for Orthodox rabbis,” Kariv said. “Give me a generation and we’ll change that.” Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy While most Israelis are secular, Israel’s founding fathers gave Judaism a formal place in the country’s affairs. Ultra-Orthodox rabbis strictly govern Jewish practices such as weddings, divorces and burials.Their monopoly has often forced Israelis to choose between a secular lifestyle that often ignores Jewish tradition and a stringent religious one dictated by the Orthodox that is often out of sync with democracy and modernity. The current status has also caused tensions with Jews in North America, most of whom identify as Reform or Conservative.Israel grants citizenship to any Jew, including those recognized by the liberal streams. But once in Israel, those who do not meet the Orthodox standards of being Jewish can suffer. For example, they can be barred from getting married or having a proper Jewish burial. Instead, they must go overseas to marry, and special cemeteries are set up to bury non-Jews.The liberal streams have long fought for formal recognition, with minimal success. They’ve established synagogues, youth movements, schools and kindergartens. Together, the Reform and Conservative movements have about 100 congregations. A recent survey by the Guttman Center at the Israel Democracy Institute found that 8 percent of Israeli Jews identified as either Conservative or Reform. Parents, stop beating yourself up ____Follow Aron Heller at New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Associated PressMEVASSERET ZION, Israel (AP) – With the holy city of Jerusalem visible in the background, a man and woman standing side-by-side lead prayers for about 50 congregants who have come to welcome the Sabbath in this suburb’s Reform synagogue.Their prayer book includes poetry, the women wear prayer shawls, the sermons call for social justice and the songs are performed in a folksy manner to the tune of a live guitar. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories “It is one victory out of many that are needed in order to reach full equality in Israel between the denominations,” he said. “The important thing is that the Israeli government will not be able to say anymore that the non-Orthodox denominations do not deserve equal treatment.”The precedent was enough to spark outrage from the religious establishment and Orthodox political parties, which wield significant political power and often act as kingmakers in Israeli politics.Yaakov Margi, the minister of religious affairs from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, threatened to resign if forced to provide funding. Ultra-Orthodox lawmaker Moshe Gafni accused the legal system of attempting to “undermine the Jewish infrastructure of the state.”“All of a sudden, there is money for Reform and Conservative clowns for whom Judaism is a mockery,” he said in parliament.At a charged parliamentary meeting last week to discuss the new funding scheme, an angry Gafni had Kariv removed from the room when he tried to speak.“I have no problem with heads of these communities getting funding for their cultural activities. My problem is with the state of Israel recognizing them as rabbis,” Daniel Hershkowitz, an Orthodox Cabinet minister, told The Associated Press. “It has been clear for thousands of years how one becomes a rabbi. Just like the state does not decide who becomes a doctor or a lawyer, it shouldn’t be deciding who becomes a rabbi.” But most Israelis, and certainly state institutions, regarded them as a somewhat alien offshoot of Judaism imported from North America and not meshed with how religion was practiced in Israel.The new decision is far short of a full-throated recognition. The court ruling for the first time classifies Reform and Conservative rabbis as “rabbis of non-Orthodox communities.” But it applies only to 15 heading congregations in farming communities and outlying areas where they were the only rabbis – so they qualified as “community leaders” eligible for state funding. Still excluded are those operating in cities, where Orthodox rabbis are present.To avoid clashing with the strict state-run rabbinate, the financing will not be done directly from the Religious Affairs Ministry but rather channeled through the Ministry of Culture and Sports. And the 15 won’t be able to serve in state capacities like the rabbinate or the military.But with a precedent established, liberal streams are now aiming for greater breakthroughs.Rabbi Gilad Kariv, who heads Israel’s Reform movement, said that together with recent strides toward liberalizing the conversion process, the state funding marked the most significant development to date in breaking down the Orthodox monopoly. 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

Cyprus attack plan suspect pleads not guilty


first_img Check your body, save your life Comments   Share   Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Men’s health affects baby’s health too 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breachescenter_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day According to notes explaining the charges, prosecutors say the 24-year-old knowingly conspired with others to “abduct a person for the purpose of subjecting him to harm or attacking him to cause grievous bodily harm” and was prepared to carry out missions around the world on the orders of others against Israeli citizens.Yaacoub was also charged with having in his possession $18,600 that were obtained as a result of an unspecified criminal act. He will remain in custody until the trial resumes Oct. 25.The alleged offenses occurred on two separate occasions, between Nov. 2011 and Jan. 2012, and in the first week of July. Yaacoub was arrested several days before a suicide bomber killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver in Burgas, Bulgaria, in July. Cypriot Justice Minister Loucas Louca has said a tip from foreign intelligence agencies he didn’t specify led to Yaacoub’s arrest.Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Yaacoub was a Hezbollah operative who used the same “modus operandi” as the Burgas suicide bomber, but offered no evidence to back up the allegations.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories Associated PressLIMASSOL, Cyprus (AP) – A Swedish-Lebanese man on Friday pleaded not guilty to charges he was planning an attack on Israeli citizens in Cyprus, in a case that Israel has said bears similarities to a suicide bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and a bus driver in Bulgaria last summer.A state prosecutor read out eight charges against Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, including conspiracy and consent to commit a criminal offense and participation in a criminal organization. Yaacoub originally faced 17 terrorism and terrorism-related charges according to police, but prosecutors last month dropped any reference to terrorism in the new charges without explanation.last_img read more

Supreme Court strikes down Maryland tax law


first_img Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The Wynnes argued that Maryland was unfairly subjecting them to double taxation and taxing earnings that have no connection to the state.Maryland’s highest court ruled in 2013 that the tax violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.Maryland officials estimate the ruling will cost the state about $200 million in refunds it will have to pay residents going back seven or eight years. The decision also will cost local governments about $42 million annually.In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said nothing in the Constitution requires a state to avoid taxing its residents just because another state has a similar tax regime targeting the same income. She was joined in dissent by Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan.Scalia also wrote separately to note his longtime opposition to “a judge-invented rule under which judges may set aside state laws that they think impose too much of a burden on interstate commerce.” Clarence Thomas wrote separately to say the Commerce Clause cannot be used to strike down a state law.Joe Henchman, vice president for legal projects at the Tax Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank, said the decision could jeopardize tax laws in other states. That includes telecommuter taxes that New York and some other states impose on people who work from home. These workers also face double taxation on income by their home state and the state in which their employer is located, he said. “Any law that is justified by the idea that ‘We’re going to tax the out-of-staters more heavily than in-staters,’ those laws should now be evaluated very closely to see their harms on interstate commerce,” Henchman said.___Associated Press writer Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland, contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.center_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The justices agreed with a lower court that the tax is invalid because it discourages Maryland residents from earning money outside the state.The unusual split wasn’t along ideological lines. Writing for the court, Justice Samuel Alito said the tax “is inherently discriminatory” under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. The court has interpreted that provision to ban states from passing laws that burden interstate commerce.Alito was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.Maryland allowed its residents to deduct income taxes paid to other states from their Maryland state tax, but it did not apply that deduction to a local “piggy back” tax collected for counties and some city governments.Maryland officials argued that the state has authority to tax all the income its residents earn to pay for local services like public schools and fire protection and police services.The case arose after Maryland residents Brian and Karen Wynne challenged their tax bill. They had been blocked from deducting $84,550 that they had paid in income taxes to 39 other states. Brian Wynne’s out-of-state income resulted from his ownership stake in a health care company that operates nationwide. Top Stories Comments   Share   WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday struck down as unconstitutional a Maryland tax that has the effect of double-taxing income residents earn in other states.Maryland officials say the 5-4 ruling means the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues. It also could affect similar tax laws in nearly 5,000 local jurisdictions in other states, including New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

AP PHOTOS Venezuelans find ways to venture out at night


first_img CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — In one of the most dangerous cities in the world, there is strength in numbers.As daylight fades in Caracas, packs of cyclists, groups of fitness enthusiasts and families of film fans are coming out to reclaim their streets and parks from criminal gangs.Their lives reshaped by a steep economic skid and long wave of violent crime, many residents of the sprawling capital say they have had enough of cowering behind gated windows and locked doors. “The sense of danger has been vicious here for some time,” she said.Organizers hope that by inviting residents out to evening gatherings, they will prevent early curfews and pervasive fear from becoming Caracas’ new normal.“We’re trying to bring them a vision of a different reality, to show them they can do more than become criminals,” said Edmundo Rada, a member of the Committee on Culture and Tourism for the municipality of Sucre, which encompasses Petare. “There are also good things like dance, culture and art, and we’re starting to take back spaces where they can come and see that.”Jean Carlos Jayaro, a 35-year-old merchant, enjoyed a recent evening out with his children in Petare, where local officials show movies three times a week. On this night, the family enjoyed watching “Penguins of Madagascar” on a makeshift movie screen — a sheet of cloth hung at the end of a dusty road.“We have to take back our streets and free them from the violence,” Jayaro said, stroking his son’s back. “We need to reclaim our spaces.”___Follow Fabiola Sanchez on Twitter: Sponsored Stories Top Stories In this Tuesday, April 14, 2015 photo, cyclists ride a night route at the South East of Caracas, Venezuela. The rampant crime in Venezuela’s capital has affected its nightlife. To remain safe, many are choosing to get home before dark leaving many restaurants, bars and nightclubs empty. Some who don’t want the crime to change their way of life choose go on bike rides at night or attend outdoor film screenings. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Twice a week, Mariela Virguez ventures out for an evening ride with a cycling group that scales the hills of El Hatillo, a colonial-era district in the south that has seen a rash of kidnappings.“I refuse to give this up just because of the situation in this country,” said the 50-year-old computer engineer. “We don’t have food, we don’t have toilet paper, we have to wait in long lines — and they’re going to deny us physical fitness, too?”In posh eastern Caracas, where the rich are regular targets of express kidnappings and armed assaults, a group of runners give themselves a whooping round of applause just for showing up and then set out on streets few would dare run alone.With its year-round warm temperatures, Caracas once was a city of all-night block parties and bar crawls. In the Petare slum, local community organizer Carmen Teresa Perdomo said neighbors used to stand around socializing until dawn. But as crime spread, people began adopting informal curfews, going inside and locking up their doors by 7:30 p.m. To stay out later was to be exposed to insecurity.Earlier this year, Perdomo said, criminals detonated a grenade in the middle of the street while fleeing police. Weeks later, her nephew was shot dead in the same streets during a botched robbery. Quick workouts for men Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 4 must play golf courses in Arizona AP photographers and photo editors on Twitter: © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The vital role family plays in societylast_img read more

Qantas awards top Aussie tourism businesses


first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L Twenty-seven Australian tourism businesses were recognised for their hard work at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards (QATA) last Friday.Held at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Hobart, the QATA recognised tourism business excellence across more than 25 categories including tourist attractions, adventure tourism and unique accommodation.Melbourne Aquarium in Victoria won the award for Major Tourist Attractions and Sydney Central YHA in NSW won the Backpackers Accommodation award while Pure Tasmania won the Tourism Marketing accolade.Three tourism businesses were announced as the joint winners of the Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism, seeing them each receive a $25,000 cash prize from the flag carrier.The winners of the award included Crystal Creek Meadows Luxury Cottages & Spa Retreat, Kangaroo Valley in NSW and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Cairns in Queensland.Stephen Limbrick Qantas Executive Manager Australia Sales congratulated the winners and commended them for their commitment to the environment.“Our winners demonstrate that any operator, large or small, can make a significant, positive impact on the environment and on their local communities by building sustainability into all aspects of their operations” he said.The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) also congratulated the nominees and QATA winners, more than half of which are members of ATEC, including the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.“These awards are a testament to the hard work, perseverance, drive and entrepreneurial spirit which these companies have shown” said ATEC Managing Director Matt Hingerty.“Our ATEC winners are a fine example of the spirit shown by the tourism industry in the face of adversity – despite a rough trot in the past twelve months these winners show that anything is possible.”last_img read more

A chocolate affair to remember


first_imgThe Park Hyatt Sydney is now tempting guests with delectable chocolate after becoming the first restaurant in Sydney to introduce Valrhona organic chocolate to its line-up of delicious desserts. The French chocolate, which has a higher consistency of cocoa than regular run-of-the-mill varieties, is 100% organic and supports fair trade, is according to harbourkitchen&bar’s Executive Chef, Andrew McKee, the best quality chocolate available in Australia.“There has been a big boom of chocolate in Australia in the last few years, but Valrhona has been a stalwart for chocolate worldwide,” he said, during an exclusive chocolate tasting hosted at the hotel.The 70 per cent Valrhona organic chocolate will be used across the entire menu from hot chocolate to milkshakes and has been used exclusively in Pastry Chef, Fabien Berteau’s specially designed, Black Forest.For more information, or to make a reservation at harbourkitchen&bar, visit Black Forest Park Hyatt Sydney, Pastry Chef Fabien Berteau & Executive Chef, Andrew McKee Source = e-Travel Blackboard: D.Mlast_img read more

IATA posts Agents Handbook


first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J International Air Transport Association is putting agents in the loop, releasing its current edition of the Travel Agent’s Handbook (TAH) online.With information effective from 1 June this year, each handbook contains the Passenger Agency Conference decisions covering practices and industry regulations. Australian Federation of Travel Agents chief executive Jayson Westbury noted that in this manual all Local Criteria has been shifted to Section 3.“IATA has also posted to the website the updated BSP Manual for Agents 2011, information on ITDI’s new e-learning courses for Agents and the latest information on IATA’s e-Services,” Mr Westbury said. “Also, there is nothing of a significant nature that impacts the Australian BSP in this update, but for the purpose of having the latest information on record, you may find it worthwhile reading through the updated handbook.”last_img read more

Avalon accident on Danube


first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.A 164 passengers onboard Avalon Tranquility were evacuated from the river ship following an accident involving a cargo barge on the Danube near Passau last Friday 2 September. A spokesperson from Avalon Waterways told e-Travel Blackboard that the barge came loose from its moorings, striking the Tranquility and damaging its engine portion which is separate to the passenger area. No passengers or crew were reported as injured. Uniworld’s River Empress assisted in transferring passengers and crew to the nearby town of Regensburg where Avalon arranged accommodation and the Danube was temporarily closed to shipping traffic whilst emergency repairs were undertaken on the vessel. With most passengers opting to continue the ‘Magnificent Europe’ itinerary by coach following the incident, Avalon assisted some passengers with flights home from Munich as an alternative. “All passengers on the cruise have been offered a refund on the remaining part of their itinerary as well as a credit towards a future cruise booking,” an Avalon Waterways spokesperson told e-Travel Blackboard. last_img read more

Peru feeds Aussies adventure history


first_imgPeru is more than Machu Picchu, offering Aussie travellers the opportunity to witness some of the world’s best natural and historical attractions as well as dine in South America’s gastronomical capital. Speaking at a media luncheon late last week, PromPeru said there was more to Peru than travellers are aware of with incomparable flore and fauna, history and cuisine.With up to 30,000 Australians travelling to Peru each year, PromPeru explained the country had “everything Aussies enjoy”, including adventure, archaeology, nature and great food.“Peru has so much to offer and the most experienced adventurer, as well as the novice and more discerning traveller, will find experiences to surpass expectations in the country,” PromPeru Asia Pacific coordinator Rosana Guinea explained late last month. “Peru is one of the most popular South American destinations for the Australian market so we expect great interest from travel agents and look forward to sharing information about our key attractions, such as Cusco and Machu Picchu, as well as exciting emerging products.”Hoping to build its eco and experiential tourism opportunities, PromPeru revealed that it has commenced work with diverse communities in Peru to create sustainable tourism opportunities where tourists enjoy “unique experiences” while returning profits to the local people.Including homestays managed through locals, the sustainable method allows Aussies and others from around the world to experience the Peruvian lifestyle and culture first-hand.“Communities play a decisive role in developing these tourism initiatives and the aim is to preserve their culture whilst educating tourists and provide  them  with  another  source  of  income,  as  well  as  it  being  a conservation tool for history and the environment,” a PromPeru update read.Earlier this month the South American country’s tourism Commission recently held its annual road show across Australia, visiting Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.As well as showcasing the destination, the Group also highlighted the arrival of the Machu Picchu – 100 years since its discovery exhibition.Landing in Sydney on 23 November, the exhibition features photographs snapped by Peruvian photographer, Michael Tweedle.In Sydney until 30 January next year, the exhibition is hosted by the Australian Peru Chamber of Commerce and helps close the gap between Australia and Peru.Before heading over to the free exhibition held at Instituo Cervantes, Spanish Cultural Centre in Chippendale, interesting groups can also take a virtual panoramic tour of Machu Picchu by clicking this link.PromPeru held the media luncheon at Sydney’s first Peruvian restaurant, Morena in Surry Hills.Re-telling the sensational dining experience, e-Travel Blackboard will share a feature on the restaurant early next year. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

The Africa Safari Co named Best Niche Wholesaler


first_imgThe Africa Safari Co. was Awarded Best Niche Wholesaler for 2013 at the recent AFTA National Travel Industry Awards.”I am very proud of my whole team,” said Susie Potter CEO. “Thank you for all the hard work. Thank you to all my industry partners and to the wonderful retail agents who voted for us and supported us and have placed their trust in us. We look forward to working with you all into the future.”Source = Africa Safari Colast_img

Sydney Airport refinancing


first_imgThis is the first time that the Airport had used the European bond market and it was utilised because Ms Mather believes it allows more flexibility in debt raising. Sydney Airport has finished refinancing on Australian bank debt and European bond markets to meet its debt liabilities. The airport has raised AUD $ 1 billion on European bond markets and AUD $1.5 billion through Australian bank debt, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Sydney Airport will use the debt to fund its backlog of capital works out to 2016.center_img Sydney Airport chief executive Kerrie Mather said that the refinancing package was a “landmark” and allowed the airport to meet its current AUD $822 million liabilities. Source = ETB News: Tom Nealelast_img

Emirates adds fourth daily A380 service to Bangkok


first_imgEmirates adds fourth daily A380 service to BangkokEmirates, a global connector of people, places and economies has announced its fourth daily A380 service between Dubai and Bangkok with the up-gauge of its current services from 1 December.The new two-class A380 service will operate daily as flight EK376 from Dubai to Bangkok and EK377 from Bangkok to Dubai. The up-gauge from its current Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will see an increase in capacity of 255 seats per flight and 3,570 seats per week to and from the Thai capital city.Barry Brown, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations East, said: “Thailand is an important market for Emirates, and the A380 has been extremely popular with travellers since we first started the double-decker aircraft service to Thailand in 2009. The addition of this two-class A380 passenger service will give even more travellers the chance to experience this revolutionary aircraft first hand.“For business and leisure travellers, the Dubai-Bangkok route is a popular choice and this additional A380 service will be instrumental in helping us meet growing passenger demand, as well as deliver substantial economic benefits through travel connections and inbound seats.”Emirates’ two-class A380 is capable of carrying 615 passengers across its business and economy cabins – accommodating 58 lie-flat seats in Business Class and 557 seats in Economy Class.Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the spacious A380 aircraft, with 64 in the fleet and 76 on order. An industry benchmark for onboard innovation and comforts, Emirates’ A380s serve 34 global destinations of which 11 are in the Far East: Auckland, Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Perth, Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai and Sydney.EK376 will depart Dubai at 0330hrs and arrive at Suvarnabhumi International Airport at 1235hrs the same day. This flight connects seamlessly with European and African destinations, and is especially popular with northern European travellers from the UK and Scandinavia heading to Thailand’s capital city.The return flight, EK377, a popular flight for residents of countries in the Gulf, will depart Bangkok at 1600hrs, offering a convenient departure time that suits hotel check-out times, and arrives in Dubai the same day at 1955hrs, a flying time of 6 hours and 55 minutes. Fly EmiratesSource = Emirateslast_img read more

Star Alliance launches fresh new look for website

first_imgStar Alliance, the way the Earth connects, has redesigned its website to offer a fresh, modern look and user friendly experience across both desktop and mobile devices, complementing the individual websites of its member airlines.Upgrades to its iPad and Android apps to improve usability and add new features will also be available shortly, as part of a wider initiative to meet the needs of today’s travellers for information at their fingertips.The new website, accessible under, adopts bold visual design throughout as well as mobile-friendly navigational principles that allow it to be accessed easily on any size of screen. Its information and content is targeted to the audience of Alliance travellers, who regularly fly on more than one of the Alliance’s 28 member airlines.“We have responded to the fact that more and more customers want to have the latest information at their fingertips, wherever they are,” said Star Alliance’s Vice President for Customer Experience and Information Technology Justin Erbacci.“The new site allows us to bring more tailored information to Alliance customers, so extending and complementing the information offered by each of our member airline’s own web presence.”Selecting “flight search” allows the visitor to scan the schedules of all 28 member airlines, serving over 1,300 airports worldwide, to find connections that best meet their travel needs. Once the right connection has been identified, a link is offered to the relevant airline website for booking.The home page also offers a link to “flight status” – offering up to the minute information on the status of over 18,500 daily flights worldwide.Customers who are travelling in First Class or Business Class, or those who have earned Star Alliance Gold status, can search a database of over 1,000 lounges globally. The site also offers basic information on destination airports, with more details, including Star Alliance specific maps, available for the Alliance’s biggest hubs.At appropriate moments during a site visit, the visitor is prompted to share location details and other information that allows site personalisation, particularly when the customer is at an airport and travelling on the same day. Holders of Gold and Silver Star Alliance status are “recognised” with an enhanced visual experience.The upgraded iPad app will enhance the original “globe” design on its homepage so that a swipe now opens an airport search feature. Once any of the 1,330 airports on the Star Alliance network is entered, the destination is plotted on the globe and supporting information displayed, such as weather, Star Alliance member airlines that fly there and other airport details.New “info cards” on the home page contain App tips and current news while the Network screen now includes Star Alliance statistics and interactive capabilities that open up member airline information when you tap on the airline`s logo.In the Android app, the section on the benefits offered to holders of Star Alliance Gold and Silver status has been completely redesigned to offer a cleaner and crisper interface, with a more user friendly display and interaction. Both new versions will be available for download shortly.The new website and app upgrades are among a series of projects on the Star Alliance roadmap that will improve and modernise the travel experience, aimed particularly at regular Alliance travellers. This includes initiatives such as Gold Track, which offers access to a priority security lane for member airline customers holding Star Alliance Gold status or flying in First Class or Business Class. Gold Track is currently available at around 70 airports worldwide and new destinations will be added steadily in coming months. View the new websiteSource = Star Alliancelast_img

Maldives receives Most Exclusive Leisure Product award at OTM Mumbai 2016


first_imgMaldives Tourism was bestowed with the prestigious ‘Most Exclusive Leisure Product’ award at the OTM 2016, India’s leading travel trade show. Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation won the award at the show which was held in Mumbai from February 18-20, 2016. It was one of the two destinations who won this title at the conclusion ceremony of OTM 2016.An estimated average of 3000 unique individuals visited the Maldivian stand. Maldives showcased the exclusive destination by participating in the stand with a total of 26 industry professionals from 15 companies. In addition, the Visit Maldives Year 2016 campaign was promoted in surplus advertising options such as billboards, pillar wraps, lanyard design, and show carry bags.In December 2015, Maldives had won the prestigious position of the ‘World’s Leading Beach Destination’ at the annual World Travel Awards ceremony held at the Mazagan Beach and Golf Resort in Morocco.In 2015 in India, Maldives was also declared the ‘Best Destination’ for relaxation (international), at Lonely Planet awards. Conde Nast Traveller readers chose Maldives as the ‘Emerging Destination’ while it was awarded as the ‘Best Destination’ in Asia at Outlook Traveller Awards.Maldives is a paradise on earth. Despite being a small country in Asia, Maldives is a famous dream destination as it has beaches of pure white sand, covered by palm trees and rich foliage. It has become a holiday spot for celebrities, businesses, friends, individuals, families and honeymooners.last_img read more

Worlds first discovery about early use of Stone Age tools made in


first_imgThe research team from UVic and partner universities in the U.S. and Jordan has found the oldest evidence of protein residue- the residual remains of butchered animals including horse, rhinoceros, wild cattle and duck on stone tools. The discovery draws startling conclusions about how these early humans subsisted in a very demanding habitat, thousands of years before Homo sapiens first evolved in Africa.New research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science by a team led by paleoanthropologist April Nowell of the University of Victoria reveals surprisingly sophisticated adaptations by early humans living 250,000 years ago in a former oasis near Azraq, Jordan.A team from the University of Victoria, working with researchers in Jordan and the U.S. unearthed 10,000 stone tools during a three-year excavation in the deserts northwest of the town of Azraq. The team closely examined 7000 of these tools, including scrapers, flakes, projectile points and hand axes (commonly known as the ‘Swiss army knife’ of the Paleolithic period), with 44 subsequently selected as candidates for testing. Of this sample, 17 tools tested positive for protein residue, i.e. blood and other animal products.“Researchers have known for decades about carnivorous behaviours by tool-making hominins dating back 2.5 million years, but now, for the first time, we have direct evidence of exploitation by our Stone Age ancestors of specific animals for subsistence,” said Nowell.last_img read more

Reunion Island unveils the new visual identity The Ultimate Island


first_imgOn the occasion of World Tourism Day William Techer, Head of Marketing & Promotion India & Indian Ocean and Vineet Gopal, Director India for Reunion Island Tourism Board presented the new visual identity of the Reunion Island Tourism Board.Earlier, the Chairman of Reunion Island Tourism Board, Stéphane Fouassin and Willy Etheve, CEO, had unveiled this new visual identity at Top Resa Paris France in front of the local press and professional.The theme ‘The Ultimate Island’ was accompanied by forty pictograms representative of the Reunion Island. These symbols of the island, the modern graphics, contemporary and universal are assets that are the strength of the destination Reunion.On the occasion, the Reunion Island Tourism Board had invited Top Tour Operators (Key Partners) and Media on a Hi-Tea Networking at Hotel Shangri-la New Delhi to meet and talk with Indian Trade and Media in order to explore the possibilities and opportunities offered by the Reunion Island Tourism Sector, with an aim of enhancing the visibility & Identity of the Reunion Island.last_img read more

Vikrant Wadhera


first_imgOTM 2017 has been great and I got the opportunity to meet various suppliers from the target market that I was looking forward to. The show has given broad prospect to understand the market itself which has grown tremendously over the few months that we have been working together. OTM is a one stop show where I got the opportunity to meet supplier from not only India, but from all over the world.last_img

Continued Job Growth Lifts Mortgage Rates from 2015 Lows


first_img Continued employment growth in the United States pushed mortgage rates up slightly in the last week, market reports show.Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending February 12 shows the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) was 3.69 percent (0.6 point) this week, up a full 10 basis points from last week’s 2015 low of 3.59 percent.The jump followed last week’s Employment Situation Report, which estimated that employers added 257,000 new jobs in January after gains of 329,000 in December and 423,000 in November. Wages also picked up, climbing 0.5 percent after a decline of 0.2 percent in December.In its own weekly survey, said the surge in job growth in recent months could push the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates as early as June.”The strength of the U.S. economy, at least for this week, was enough to overshadow the concerns about slower growth in both developed and emerging markets around the globe,” Bankrate said.Even with the sizable one-week increase, the 30-year fixed average is still barely above its May 2013 low of 3.35 percent (as measured by Freddie Mac).The 15-year FRM also moved up this week, averaging 2.99 percent (0.6 point) compared to 2.92 percent a week ago.Adjustable rates, meanwhile, averaged 2.97 percent (0.5 point) for the five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid product—a surge of 15 basis points—and 2.42 percent (0.4 point) for the one-year adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).Bankrate’s survey turned up similar results. According to the site, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.90 percent this week, while the 15-year fixed averaged 3.17 percent. The 5/1 ARM came to an average 3.32 percent. Continued Job Growth Lifts Mortgage Rates from 2015 Lows Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Bankrate Fixed-Rate Mortgages Freddie Mac Jobs Mortgage Rates 2015-02-12 Tory Barringer in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, Newscenter_img February 12, 2015 464 Views Sharelast_img read more

Freddie Macs FirstTime Homebuyer Numbers Continue to Rise in 2015


first_img in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Government, Market Studies, News, Technology September 15, 2015 541 Views First-Time Homebuyer Freddie Mac Homebuyers 2015-09-15 Michael Ma Freddie Mac’s First-Time Homebuyer Numbers Continue to Rise in 2015center_img Share The number of first-time homebuyers is growing steadily in the housing market as mortgage rates remain low, labor conditions improve, and lending loosens up.Freddie Mac’s latest numbers revealed that the GSE financed affordable mortgages for almost one million first-time homebuyers and more than 4.5 million low- and moderate-income borrowers between 2009 and 2015, according to a blog on the company’s website titled “Freddie Mac: First-Time Homebuyer Gains Hold Steady in 2015.”The most active states for first time homebuyers in 2015 are California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Michigan, and Washington, Freddie Mac data shows.”Year to date, the company is on track to match its best year financing mortgages for first-time homebuyers since the beginning of the Great Recession,” Freddie Mac said.Lenders have delivered an average of 17,000 first-time homebuyer mortgages a month to Freddie Mac from January 2015 to June 2015, the blog noted. This number lines up with last year and is 25 percent higher than the 2013 average.”The increase is due to a combination of factors including general economic trends, low mortgage rates, Freddie Mac lender alliances and outreach initiatives plus low down payment mortgage products such as Home Possible Advantage,” the blog explained. “Home Possible Advantage requires down payments of as little as 3 percent, and the source of these funds may include a gift from a family member or employer, or a grant from a housing agency.”The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) International Center on Housing Risk recently released a report, finding that the first-time buyer share in April, May, and June was launched to new highs, supported by improvements in the labor market, riskier mortgage lending, and continuing low mortgage rates. First-time buyers account for 58.8 percent of primary owner-occupied home purchase mortgages with a government guarantee, up from 57.2 percent the prior June, according to the Agency First-Time Buyer Mortgage Share Index (FBMSI).The Combined FBMSI, which measures the share of first-time buyers for both government-guaranteed and private-sector mortgages reached an estimated 52.9 percent, up from 51.6 percent the prior June, according to the report.In addition, AEI determined that the Agency First-Time Buyer Mortgage Risk Index (FBMRI) stood at a series record of 15.83 percent, and increase of half of a percentage point from the average over the prior three months and up 1.1 percentage points from a year earlier. The Agency FBMRI is 6.75 percentage points higher than the mortgage risk index for repeat homebuyers, a gap that continues to widen.“The housing lobby, led by the NAR and the Urban Institute, has successfully pushed for looser lending standards for first-time buyers,” said Edward Pinto, codirector of the AEI’s International Center on Housing Risk. “Rather than increasing accessibility, the loosening of lending standards during a strong seller’s market is moving the goalpost further away for many lower-income and minority renters desiring to become homeowners.”A Zillow analysis in August also found that first-time homebuyers in the market today are waiting longer periods of time to purchase a home and are less likely to be married compared to first-time buyers in the 1970s and 1980s.The Zillow study found that Americans are renting for an average of six years before buying their first homes. Meanwhile, in the 1970s, they rented for an average of 2.6 years. In addition, 52 percent of first-time homebuyers were married in the late 1980s, while today, only 40 percent are married.”Millennials are delaying all kinds of major life decisions, like getting married and having kids, so it makes sense that they would also delay buying a home,” Gudell said. “We know millennials value home-ownership and want to buy. The next challenge will be figuring out how they can save for a down payment and qualify for a mortgage, especially while the rental market is so unaffordable all over the country. The last hurdle will be finding a home they like amidst very tight inventory, especially among starter homes.”last_img read more

Lenders Heres How to Attract FirstTime Homebuyers


first_imgFirst-time homebuyers, including millennials, are slowly but surely making their way into the housing market and lenders need to be prepared to grab their attention and keep it.The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the share of first-time buyers remained at 32 percent in January for the second consecutive month and is up from 28 percent a year ago. First-time buyers in all of 2015 represented an average of 30 percent, up from 29 percent in both 2014 and 2013. During pre-crisis years, first-time homebuyers averaged 40 percent or more of the market.Freddie Mac’s VP, Danny Gardner, said that low mortgage rates, stabilizing housing markets, and the nation’s 86 million millennials and rapidly growing immigrant communities, are expected to produce about 1.2 million new households a year for the next ten years, based on statistics from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the Collingwood Group.Gardner noted that more first-time homebuyers can be welcomed into the housing market if they are provided more information. “As an industry, we have to drive a stake through a few stubborn myths that are draining life out of the market. These familiar myths lead potential buyers to overestimate the credit, income and downpayment savings they need for an affordable mortgage,” he said.In addition, lenders can produce more sales to first-time buyers by getting myth-dispelling information into the hands of families who don’t know how ready they are to buy their first home and to families who gave up trying after being rejected for a mortgage once, according to Freddie Mac.Source: Freddie MacThe American Enterprise Institute (AEI) International Center on Housing Risk found that the share and volume of first-time homebuyers increased year-over-year in December.According to AEI’s First-Time Buyer Mortgage Share Index (FBMSI) released Tuesday, first-time buyers accounted for 56.7 percent of primary owner-occupied home purchase mortgages with a government guarantee in December 2015. This number is 1 percent above the December 2014 share of 55.5 percent.AEI credits “improvements in the labor market, riskier mortgage lending, and continuing low mortgage rates” for the spike in first-time buyers.“On a year-over-year basis, first-time buyer demand increased in December, continuing the trend of the last 14 months,” said Edward Pinto, Codirector of AEI’s International Center on Housing Risk. “Strong demand, in combination with shortness of supply, is driving home prices up faster than incomes and inflation.” March 14, 2016 500 Views Lenders: Here’s How to Attract First-Time Homebuyers in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Originationcenter_img First-tome Homebuyers Freddie Mac Lenders 2016-03-14 Staff Writer Sharelast_img read more