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President Uribe endangers left-wing editor by accusing him of links to guerrillas

first_img ColombiaAmericas April 27, 2021 Find out more ColombiaAmericas President Alvaro Uribe’s comments in an interview on Caracol Radio on 23 February, accusing Carlos Lozano, the editor of the communist weekly Voz, of links with the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), were condemned today by Reporters Without Borders, which said they had endangered Lozano.“Does having communist sympathies make you an ally of the FARC?,” the press freedom organisation asked. “President Uribe seems to forget that Lozano was once appointed by the government as peace mediator with the guerrillas. Alas, this is not the first time Uribe has lost his temper with journalists who do not support him. This kind of remark is dangerous as it exposes the press to reprisals.”Uribe called Lozano an “accomplice and spokesman” of the FARC. Lozano responded several times during the first week of March, saying he would hold Uribe responsible if anything happened to him. “The president’s comments are slanderous and reckless, and put my life and safety in danger,” he said. He said he was no longer in regular contact with the FARC high command, but he was in written contact with guerrillas, “as many journalists are, but all this is known by the government.”Uribe’s comments have surprised the Colombian media, especially as Lozano was once used by the government as an emissary with the guerrillas, as former peace mediator Camilo Gómez pointed out. Lozano said: “I do not understand. If I am a criminal, why do government aides come looking for me to establish contacts with the FARC?”Ramiro Bejarano, a former director of the military intelligence agency known as the Security Administration Department (DAS), told journalists: “Alvaro Uribe is trying to stigmatize all government opponents as criminals in order to cover up his own complicity with the paramilitary groups.” Some of Uribe’s associates are currently being prosecuted because of their ties with paramilitaries.Lozano received death threats in 2005, at a time when Uribe was reacting harshly to criticism from journalists such as Hollman Morris of the public TV station Canal Uno about his policies towards the armed conflict. October 21, 2020 Find out more RSF_en 2011-2020: A study of journalist murders in Latin America confirms the importance of strengthening protection policies Follow the news on Colombia RSF, IFEX-ALC and Media Defence, support FLIP and journalist Diana Díaz against state harassment in Colombia to go further March 7, 2007 – Updated on January 20, 2016 President Uribe endangers left-wing editor by accusing him of links to guerrillascenter_img Receive email alerts RSF begins research into mechanisms for protecting journalists in Latin America News News News May 13, 2021 Find out more Reports Organisation Help by sharing this information last_img read more

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The REInterview: States Title’s Max Simkoff on reforming the murkiest corner of real estate

first_img Share via Shortlink Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink States Title’s Max Simkoff and The Real Deal’s Hiten Samtani. The firm just raised $123M to overhaul residential closingsIf real estate is seen as a dinosaur when it comes to adopting technology, title insurance may be the industry’s Argentinosaurus. The residential closing is full of manual processes and fees that complicate and drive up the price of homebuying, and according to Max Simkoff, consumers are losing out.Simkoff is the founder and CEO of States Title, a startup looking to capitalize on the “pain points” in a residential closing process, from title insurance to mortgage and escrow and beyond. Last month, States Title raised $123 million in venture funding in a round led by Greenspring Associates (existing investors Fifth Wall Ventures and Foundation Capital also participated.) The round values the firm at $623 million and makes it perhaps the most well-capitalized startup taking a crack at title.The Real Deal caught up with Simkoff to understand what his firm plans to do with the money, its partnership with homebuilding giant Lennar, and how it hopes to modernize the homebuying process.This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.You’ve raised this money at a time when the cycle is, in a sense, being accelerated by the pandemic. Did your value proposition become even more urgent?It did. We’ve gone from pushing a vision on the industry – that there’s too much friction, too much opacity in the process of closing a mortgage. With all the technology that exists and all of the other places consumers expect instant experiences – getting a ride on demand, watching streaming content, grocery delivery in two hours or less – it seemed somewhat ridiculous that there was still this mountain of paperwork and process to get your residential transaction closed.We’ve been pushing this message a lot: “Hey, the technology exists- you can do this.” What’s happened now is that push has become more of a pull- we have people telling us that they need it.Talk about the main pain points in a residential transaction today.Ten years ago, for most people who are either buying or refinancing a home, they probably would have told you things like finding a home, or selling your home – that was painful. Having to find a realtor through a referral network, or having to find a lender. Just getting a mortgage was painful.What’s changed now is that all of the biggest remaining pain points are in the closing, because that other stuff mostly got solved. You can find a home on Redfin and make an offer directly on Redfin. You can get prequalified for a mortgage through a point-of-sale application that these lenders use. So the pain points we focus on are on in the closing.First, the title insurance piece itself, which is super opaque. What gave me reason to launch this business was my own personal experience. I was closing a transaction, I asked a series of questions about title, and it’s almost like with every answer I got, the less I understood the rationale for it, and the more uncomfortable I felt about the value of it. It was like “well, that makes sure you have clear ownership of the property.” Well okay, didn’t the person who own this home before me buy that product? ‘Yes, of course, they bought it too.” Okay, so I’m really only establishing ownership from that period, so I should probably pay less for it. “No, that’s not how this works – you actually pay more. It’s not priced on risk, it’s priced on property value.”The rates, at least in New York, are set by this committee which is made up of the four or five biggest players. In any other world, that would be called a cartel.(Laughs). It’s safe to say that the various ways that have been historically utilized have resulted in rates going up, not down. That struck us as odd because it’s not like the risk has gone up. It’s not like buying homeowners insurance for larger homes in Southeast Florida – rates go up because they need safer construction materials and they have to withstand hurricanes and the hurricanes have gotten more severe- that makes sense. Why you pay a higher premium for residential refinance title insurance on a home that’s been refi’d three times in the last 10 years where the only thing that’s changed is the value of the property went up? To us, that didn’t hold a lot of water.The second pain point was the actual closing. Where and when you’re going to close, how you’re going to sign your docs. Most stakeholders – real estate agents, lenders, loan officers and sellers- were just willing to accept this pain. It’s like a necessary evil.Is it a necessary evil, or is it the ingrained ecosystem? Because everyone is kind of wetting their beak a little bit. Brokers benefit. Developers benefit.There are some regional differences. We don’t currently operate in New York- we’re trying to. New York, and this has been well documented by you guys, does behave quite differently. Even outside New York though, there’s a lot of what the industry has traditionally referred to as “junk fees.” Just think about that – that’s an industry term. It’s like, convenience fees, document prep fees…why are documents being prepped? We just completed this financing. $123 million. Documents got forwarded to me because things were happening relatively quickly. Maybe every fifth document I would get from a law firm would be a PDF. My response was always the same: “Put it in Docusign.” I don’t print PDFs and sign them anymore. Because it’s stupid.The last pain point is the sheer amount of fees and information around money that needs to happen so that a relatively complex transaction can get cleared. Let’s just say you signed your docs, and let’s hope you signed them correctly, and let’s hope you signed them in blue ink in a jurisdiction where that’s required for them to be properly recorded, not black because a notary made a mistake and those documents need to be re-prepped. Let’s assume you did all that correctly. There is so much financial information that’s now in paper documents that getting keyed and rekeyed and errors are happening as transfer taxes are being paid and mortgages are being paid off. It’s somewhat embarrassing in a world of Stripe and Square. Why are they being written down on paper, and copy/pasted?You grew up in Portland, correct?I did.How close were you to the Wild Wild Country ranch?(Laughs). I grew up fishing a lot. In central Oregon, on the Deschutes River. We took a couple trips where we actually camped right next to the ashram. We’re camping in the middle of the desert, and my dad is like, “hey, 10 years ago, that land right there, there was a massive movement here, and their leader had a fleet of Rolls-Royces.” And at the time, I was like, that’s ridiculous.The reason I ask, is because, in a way, you [States Title] are taking on a very powerful, very well-organized cult. I’m wondering, when you came into this, what sort of resistance did you get from the powers that be?There’s a quote that’s been misattributed to Gandhi. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you.” And that’s pretty much been our experience with the title insurance industry.When we came to market with our original product, which was an instant underwritten refinanced title insurance policy, the first reaction was “who cares.” You’ve got to put yourself in the mindset of early 2018. Interest rates had been at record lows. So most of them were like “nobody cares about refi, everyone’s on purchase, this is a one-trick pony, they’re not going to get traction.” And by the way, it’s expensive to start a title insurance carrier, full-stack. So they ignored us.And you’re not coming from that background. You’re not a real estate person.Exactly. And there were people from the title industry who had tried to launch new carriers and they failed. So they [the industry] was like, “if they couldn’t do it, these jokers, who have no title experience, no real estate experience, they’re not going to get there.”I think they started to take notice when the insurance department [of California] fast-tracked us for the first underwritten title-carrier license in as long as anyone could remember. We worked very collaboratively with the regulator. We said, “here’s what we want to do. We want to instantly underwrite refi title insurance, we think it’s better for the consumer, better for the market.” I think it took us 10 months from first meeting to certificate of authority. This usually takes years.When that happened, and the CDI [department] put out their own press release – the state of California had been relatively public about their frustration with the lack of competition in title – that’s when some of them [established players] started to take notice.Did they try to buy you out, or lobby you out?We did start to see some folks from the industry say “hey, you know, this certainly sounds similar to a number of other companies that tried to do things in the past that were potentially harmful to the real estate market.” But it was very light.I think where it got a lot heavier is after the acquisition of North American [States Title bought the firm from Lennar in January 2019 in a seller-financed deal].That was the first shot across the bow. The second one was that the refi market turned. Just when you thought interest rates couldn’t go any lower, they went significantly lower. We started getting a lot of traction with very large, centralized lenders. And then we started to expand our aperture, not just to focus on title insurance, but on the whole closing piece.Which is why I think your name is a bit of a misnomer. Okay, so what’s in it for lenders?Now our approach is instant end-to-end closing. Inclusive of title, fees and signature. We want everything to happen instantly, fully remote, fully digital.And your fee, is it a flat fee?The title insurance premium has to be based on the value of the property, because that’s the fee structure. However, we are setting fees lower than the industry. The way we can do that for now on refis is if we’re working with large national lenders, there is a concept of bulk rates- as long as they’re sending us volume. To be clear, the lender doesn’t decide to send you the order. They can only recommend to the borrower. But we give them an easy way to do it, because we’re like “we’re the best, we’re the fastest, and we’re the cheapest.”Could you see the rates becoming tied less to property values, and more of a standardized per-transaction fee?We would love to see rates be more intelligently designed to link to value. The value of underwriting a highly complex, purchase transaction for a home that hasn’t changed hands in 100 years, that’s almost like specialty underwriting. That transaction’s complex and probably requires a lot of work. But that’s not the majority of transactions.You talk about instant underwriting. How instant is instant?That’s on refinance transactions, which is the bulk of the market right now. We can generate a clear-to-close commitment in less than a minute. That’s a process that has typically taken two or three days.I guess the difference is you’re not actually checking each deed. What’s the norm in general insurance? It is actuarial [calculating risk] processes, right?That’s back to the theme of, “are we doing something novel by applying probabilistic underwriting to real property information?” Not particularly. The concept of insurance being a well-educated guess with capital behind it is something that property/casualty insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, they’ve been using for 100 years. It’s just that title never worked that way.In your own article, you quoted someone as saying, “hey, this is an industry that’s about risk avoidance.”There was an amazing quote in that one: “It’s like an umbrella on a sunny day.”But then, in that same quote, they were like: “But it’s that 1 percent of time that you need it.” Well, if you really only need something 1 percent of the time, then you should not need to put the same fixed cost against every policy.What’s the standard payout? Is it 4 percent?In the last two years, it’s probably running sub-4 percentSo for every $100 in premiums, the firms are paying out $4 in losses.Just to put that in perspective: homeowners insurance, for every $100 of premiums, $50 to $70 of that is going to pay losses. Efficient insurance markets are ones where most of your premiums go to pay claims. You are paying for value. The value you get is in being protected, and the protection is evident when claims are being paid. In title, the industry has long made the case that the reason you know you’re getting value is because you don’t HAVE claims. That to me, I don’t know…There’s a few cases of high-profile deed fraud. There’s a pretty bizarre case to do with Anbang, the Chinese giant, a $5.8 billion transaction where there’s been some fake deeds. The industry tends to grab those examples and says “look, a million transactions may go by, but something like this, this is why you need us.”That’s why our position is: Take a commercial transaction, title insurance for a skyscraper that’s being refinanced. That should be specialty underwriting. Largely manual. It can probably take weeks- that’s fine. The reality is that’s not the majority of transactions. You’ve got 10 million residential transactions a year, give or take. The vast majority of those are average American consumers doing a $150,000, $200,000, $250,000 refinance. Or a $300,000, $400,000 home purchase. The average potential title loss on those is a fraction of that amount.Is your product market-agnostic? Would your job be the same in New York, California, Florida?There are some state requirements and regulations that need to be respected. Thankfully, most states have the flexibility to let us do this algorithmically. Not just the underwriting stuff… the closing stuff, the fee stuff, the signature stuff. Most people are finally coming to understand that title companies are closing the whole transaction, and it’s really incumbent on us to remove all that friction.A lot of these established players have a lot of political clout. Have you got into that whole influence game? What sort of lobbying are you involved in?Lobbying is kind of a loaded term. It often implies that you’ve got a lobbyist. Most of our efforts to date have just been to talk to regulators. When we got licensed as a new insurance carrier with a new method of underwriting, I think I did in-person meetings with 15 or 20 insurance commissioners across the country. Most of them have come to realize that the world of insurtech has come to change many things for the better. If you sit down with them and you explain how what you do is better for consumers, most of them responded positively. We talked to a few of them who said, “heads up. Some of your incumbent competitors have been in here and given us a fair warning that you guys were coming. It wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about what they said but we’d like you to know that we’re super appreciative that you came out and helped set the record straight. That helps us make a balanced decision.” I think it speaks for itself that we got approval in almost every state that we applied for a license in.What’s your timeline for New York?You’d have to ask the New York DFS about that. We had some early meetings with them. They were very thoughtful, they asked very good questions. I’m hopeful that we’re able to operate there soon.Let’s talk Lennar. You went to one of the biggest homebuilders in the country [$22.3 billion in 2019 revenue] and said “we want to partner with you.” You started with title but you’ve evolved into other parts of the closing. Since you’re tied up with a homebuilder like that, what other opportunities do you see? Are you going to branch into even more aspects of the transaction?For now we’re just focused on making sure that title and closing become simple, seamless, invisible and less expensive. If we can do that well, our partnership with Lennar allows us to solve many problems together. Appraisal is the other long pole in the tent in the closing.Also, we’re starting to think about building specialty closing products. Is there a new policy that could exist for newly built homes? It’s no secret in the industry that title for newly built homes is somewhat redundant.The ownership structure is right there!And by the way, the homebuilder bought title insurance on the land they bought. They buy a big plot of land. They buy a policy that makes sure they can do what they want with the land. Now really what you’re insuring on a title policy – of which one needs to be generated for every single home on that that now gets built on that subdivided land – all you’re really paying for is the risk that the homebuilder didn’t pay their contractors, or have outstanding HOA liens, or code enforcement liens, or messed up an easement. Most homebuilders are in the business of building homes professionally. When there are errors, they make it right.So the idea of generating new products in partnership with homebuilders is something we’ve discussed.Do they [Lennar] give you insight into how they’re evolving as a company and what they’re taking on?Yes. What they did with us was not an exception. It was part of several transactions that they’ve done in a calculated move to be able to focus on their core, which is building homes, and then partnering with the most innovative external companies in their ecosystem to do the other stuff. They did the same thing with Hippo, which is a homeowners insurance company. They sold to them a captive homeowners insurance brokerage, and then they partnered with Hippo to start creating new products they could push out through their mortgage arm. The same thing with [iBuying startup] Opendoor, where they made a very large investment in a really game-changing way. Lennar wants to make sure they manage their end-to-end customer life cycle, and they’ve got a lot of customers that are captive in their own homes.Let’s get into the new money you’ve raised. $123 million, Greenspring led the round. You’ve raised $229 million so far, which is a nice chunk of money. What’s all this going into? How much can you invest in data science?It’s mostly for R&D and building out a new bespoke solution delivery layer. Because we so dramatically changed the nature of underwriting and closing a transaction from a title perspective, we basically created new kinds of work. We now have a machine, instant underwriting on an algorithm, which means that the work around closing changes- you have to interpret what the machine spits out in different ways- it basically changes the nature of the work that people are doing, so they can be more focused on relationship management and communications, with loan officers, with realtors.Long story short, a big chunk of this goes into R&D. Hiring more data scientists, more engineers, more product managers. But also, we’ve been staffing up pretty aggressively.What about profitability? Is that on the horizon?We have significant operating units under the broader company umbrella that are now profitable. The whole company is not. I’m fairly old-school- I raised outside money because I felt there was a more compelling return on equity that we could provide to our equity holders with what we’re doing, and a big component of that is being able to operate at sustained higher margins than others in the industry even with lower prices. For the time being, we’re investing, with an eye toward profitability.You don’t have any projections on how long that is?We have internal projections, but nothing it would make sense to put my foot in my mouth by disclosing in this interview.What’s the head count like? When you did the Lennar transaction, you went from a few dozen people to suddenly being the head of a massive company. I wonder about the cultural challenges of that as an entrepreneur.We’re about 1,100 people now, and we’ve hired close to 200 people in the last couple months. We went into this combination with eyes wide open and also excited to combine the best parts of these two businesses. There’s a lot of legacy title and closing knowledge and local market expertise that North American Title brought with it – it completely obliterated the learning curve that we would have had on our own.When you talk about hiring relationship managers, I think about how the old guard has always talked about this being a relationship-driven business. But that came with a lot of schmoozing, inducements, a lot of wine and dine. Sounds like that’s not going to be your approach.No. This is really one of the most unfortunate misconceptions about the title industry. It IS a relationship-driven business. I think a lot of the spotlight gets put on the people who are managing the relationships and customer acquisition. The unsung heroes are the escrow officers. These are the people who are behind the scenes making everything work. They’re getting calls from salespeople, from their clients, who are loan officers, or realtors, or property developers, saying “I’ve got a problem, can you fix this, can you change this fee.” And they’re basically doing 100 different things. Of those 100 things, 70 of them are the administrative, copy and pasting, sending an email…Stuff you can automate.Yea! They would rather spend 70 percent of their time on real relationship management. The way that great enterprise software companies do it, with customer success groups. Figuring how to make the solution better. That’s the transition we’re trying to make over the next year or two, with part of the investment. Other industries have done this too. Let’s look at the core of what we want our service to be. We want it to be like a concierge at the Four Seasons. Somebody’s who’s so customer-centric, and can be, because their brand and their systems and processes are running well in the background. It’s not about schmoozing, which by the way, in the state of California you can’t really do anyway.Well, in the state of New York, you can’t really do it either. But it happens.It still happens.And a lot of the way that some of these people get compensated, a lot of them make their money in cash tips. In your world, a lot of that is going to go away, which is going to create a lot of angst and uncertainty.This process of tipping in New York… Again, we don’t operate there yet, so I’m sure I’m speaking ignorantly, although I will say that I’ve been told often that I speak ignorantly in this industry and then it turns out the ignorant things I’m saying end up becoming more efficient ways of doing things.I don’t understand on top of thousands in fees you pay to close a transaction, why you’d be expected to tip your closer… (throws hands up). That one’s baffling to me.You’re going to have fun when you come to New York. But let’s move on. This pandemic has wiped out a lot of arcane laws – at least temporarily. But once it happens, I think people see the light and it’s not going to go back. My sense is digital notarization is here to stay even once we can meet in person. What other big shifts should we be mindful of from the law and policy side of things?I’m hopeful digital notarization just leads to digital signature. With the amount of fraud-prevention tech and ID authentication tech we have, you’d like to think that we can get to a world where you can instantly sign docs.I do think you’re going to see a lot of movement on instant appraisals that will be extremely beneficial. Right now, you’re seeing a lot of volatility in the secondary mortgage market. Resale volumes are picking back up again, but refi volumes aren’t going up as fast as they should given interest rates, because a lot of lenders have tightened their credit standards. What you’ll see is when that stuff gets smoothed out a bit, and once we get back to normal, the appraisal thing will be the next thing. Because when there’s a flood of demand, there just isn’t the appraisal capacity with our network of licensed appraisers.Fannie and Freddie have an appraisal waiver program where if the property met certain characteristics – 70 percent LTV [loan-to-value], credit score of X or higher, etc. – it didn’t need an appraisal. It could go through an automated valuation model. And what that established was – Fannie and Freddie were pretty smart about this – that it is working. Now that it’s working, I would hope that you will see them start to widen the aperture on what qualifies. And you will see appraisal get way more efficient.How do you stay excited, as a founder, as an entrepreneur, as a boss, when you’re dealing with such a product and a maze of regulations?This is maybe a Draconian way that I would think many founders stay excited: the harder the problem is, the more excited I get. If you want to see me get excited about a problem and solve it, tell me it’s impossible.(Write to Hiten at [email protected] And to check out more of The REInterview, a series of in-depth conversations with real estate leaders and newsmakers hosted by Hiten Samtani, click here.) Tags States TitleTechnologyThe REInterviewtitle insurancelast_img read more

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Seaspan’s Unencumbered Vessel Pool Increased to 32 Ships

first_imgHong Kong-based charter owner and containership operator Seaspan Corporation informed that it had prepaid a credit facility which was secured by eight of its vessels.Upon completion of the collateral release documentation in respect of this facility and the facility prepaid in November 2018, Seaspan’s pool of unencumbered vessels has been expanded to 32 ships.“In line with our corporate goals, Seaspan continues to reduce leverage and streamline its capital structure, which will enhance our balance sheet flexibility going forward,” Ryan Courson, Chief Financial Officer of Seaspan, commented.The unencumbered asset pool includes fourteen 4,250 TEU ships, ten 2,500 TEU ships, two 3,500 TEU, two 8,500 TEU, two 9,600 TEU and two 10,000 TEU boxships.The announcement is being made on the heels of Fairfax’s closure of the second tranche of its USD 1 billion investment in Seaspan.With the closing of the second investment, Fairfax’s aggregate shareholdings in Seaspan are 76.9 million Class A common shares or 36% of shares outstanding.last_img read more

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Bayshore Tea Party Plans Rallies To Show Support for President Trump

first_imgBy John BurtonMIDDLETOWN – Local supporters of President Donald J. Trump plan on having their voices heard.The Bayshore Tea Party Group, the local chapter of the national politically conservative movement, is working with the alt-right news website Breitbart News, organizing two rallies in the township.“The silent majority is here,” offering its support for Trump’s policies in general and his immigration policies specifically, said Barbara Gonzalez, one of the Bayshore group’s founders who is organizing the rallies.According to Gonzalez, the events are scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, and noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 3. They will be held on the corner of Route 35 and Harmony Road, in the area of the ShopRite shopping plaza.The Feb. 27 rally is intended as a warm-up to encourage participants to attend a meeting of the Red Bank Human Relations Committee, which is expected to take up the concept of a “sanctuary city” and its role in Red Bank. The Tea Party group will be voicing their opposition of that designation, of offering undocumented immigrants some sort of sanctuary from federal enforcement.The purpose of the rallies, Gonzalez explained, is to show that, “Just because we don’t go out and yell and wear funny hats with parts of the anatomy on it and break windows, it doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention and are not outraged at certain things.”Gonzalez’s comments were referencing recent events since Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, where large rallies and marches have occurred around the U.S. and in world capitals, at which people voiced opposition to and concern over the administration’s proposed policies, appointments and the president’s own comments.“This is to show support for the president and what he wants to do regarding keeping us safe,” she said. The organization’s efforts are to show support for the controversial immigration travel ban. “And it has nothing to do with immigrants and has everything to do with illegal criminal immigrants,” Gonzalez added.Trump’s executive order signed Jan. 27 attempted to halt all immigration from Syria, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Sudan, predominately Muslim countries that have been alleged to harbor militant extremists; and establish a 120-day prohibition against all refugee entrance to the U.S. The executive order was placed on hold by a federal district court judge, with the stay upheld by the federal Court of Appeals; its future is uncertain but it continues to arouse heated debates and protests.But Gonzalez continued to stress, “It’s important for people to understand it’s not against immigration; it’s what our country is made of. People are from everywhere and that’s OK. But it has to be legal,” believing the prohibition is intended to prevent undocumented immigration and the admitting of possibly dangerous individuals to the country.The Bayshore Tea Party Group had initially intended to hold a rally Saturday, Feb. 11. But organizers became aware of efforts by Breitbart to coordinate with local organizations for a nationwide series of events, according to Gonzalez.Still, a handful of members of the local group took it upon themselves to gather with signs last Saturday for their own rally, she said.Gonzalez said she has been getting emails from people around the area who are interested in attending. So far, she said as many as 100 are planning to attend.last_img read more

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Leafs play ‘Let’s Make a Deal’

first_imgComing back to the Leafs are 20-year-old goalie Bill Gorn and defenceman Kyle Rosolowski.Gorn, who previous play in the KIJHL for Beaver Valley, came from the Fort Frances Lakers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League while 19-year-old Rosolowski arrived from Osoyoos Coyotes in exchange for the rights of Michael Crawford.Gorn joins Devin Allen as the two goalies on the roster for Nelson.“Rosolowski is a veteran defenceman who has a good solid physical player who sees the ice very well and is calm under pressure,” said DiBella.“Getting Gorn will provide some support for (netminder) Devin Allen who has played well for us this season.”The moves were just a few for the Leafs as the club looks to reduce the roster to 25 player’s cards by 11 p.m. December 1.DiBella remains confident a few tweaks here and there can help the fourth-place Leafs rebound from a dismal November, where the club lost eight of 10 games.The Leafs, fresh from snapping a three-game winless streak Tuesday by defeating Spokane 5-4 in overtime, return to the ice Saturday when Nelson hosts the best in the KIJHL Saturday when Creston Valley Thunder invade the NDCC Arena for a 7 p.m. puck drop.Sunday, Nelson hosts Grand Forks Border Bruins at 7 p.m.BLUELINES: Leafs management made a couple of late moves Thursday, trading forward Charlie Willkie to Princeton Posse before acquiring Alex Meeker from 100 Mile House Wranglers. In 12 games with the defending KIJHL champs, the Edmonton native had five goals and two assists for seven points. Wilkie had one goal and three assists in 25 games with Nelson. . . . Forward Cooper Schroder also came to Nelson from Blind River Ontario Jr. A. while the playing rights for forward Kolten Nelson and defenceman Noah Looman were sent to Chase Heat and Sicamous Eagles, respectively. The Nelson Leafs were awfully busy this week, finding themselves at the center of a handful of trades as the struggling franchise looks to turnaround an awful season on the ice.Leafs’ Head Coach and Director of Player Personel Mario DiBellais looking to close the gap in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Murdoch Division, with the trades and roster acquisitions.“We feel the core layers have been consistent from the start of the year, we’re just looking to shore up some holes to make this team competitive to compete for division championship.”The moves comes on the heels of two trades last week by Nelson.To start, DiBella shipped netminder Jason Sandhu to Kamloops Storm of the KIJHL for cash and center Eamonn Miller to OCN Blizzard of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.“Eammon was a late cut from OCN,” said DiBella. “They were looking for a smooth skating, playmaking centerman and Eammon fit their needs.”Miller had four goals and eight assists in 18 games for Nelson while Sandhu, who joins former teammate Ben Kelsch on the roster of the Storm, registered three wins in nine games for the Leafs.last_img read more

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Warriors’ Bob Myers, Steve Kerr on Patrick McCaw’s departure & what they might do with an open roster spot

first_imgClick HERE if you’re unable to view the gallery on your mobile device.* * *Subscribe to the Mercury News and East Bay Times for $40 a year and receive a free Warriors championship coffee table book* * *PHOENIX – Patrick McCaw joined the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, but shed little light on why he chose to leave the Warriors. “Nothing stands out to say I didn’t want to go back, McCaw said after his first practice in Cleveland. “I think it was just time for me to move on.”McCaw …last_img read more

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The Africa you never see

first_img23 October 2006In the waiting area of a large office complex in Accra, Ghana, it’s standing room only as citizens with bundles of cash line up to buy shares of a mutual fund that has yielded an average 60% annually for the past seven years.Africa: Open for BusinessCarol Pineau, a journalist with more than 10 years’ experience reporting on Africa, is the producer and director of the film Africa: Open for Business, which aired worldwide on the BBC in May 2006 and has been released for purchase on DVD at Africa: Open for Business.They’re entrusting their hard-earned cash to a local company called Databank, which invests in stock markets in Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana and Kenya that consistently rank among the world’s top growth markets.Chances are you haven’t read or heard anything about Databank in your daily newspaper or on the evening news, where the little coverage of Africa that’s offered focuses almost exclusively on the negative – the virulent spread of HIV/Aids, genocide in Darfur, the chaos of Zimbabwe.Yes, Africa is a land of wars, poverty and corruption. The situation in places like Darfur, Sudan desperately cries out for more media attention and international action.But Africa is also a land of stock markets, high rises, Internet cafes and a growing middle class. This is the part of Africa that functions. And this Africa also needs media attention, if it’s to have any chance of fully joining the global economy.Africa’s media image comes at a high cost – even, at the extreme, the cost of lives. Stories about hardship and tragedy aim to tug at our heartstrings, getting us to dig into our pockets or urge Congress to send more aid.But no country or region ever developed thanks to aid alone. Investment, and the job and wealth creation it generates, is the only road to lasting development. That’s how China, India and the Asian Tigers did it.Highest return on FDI in the worldYet while Africa, according to the US government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation, offers the highest return in the world on foreign direct investment, it attracts the least.Unless investors see the Africa that’s worthy of investment, they won’t put their money into it. And that lack of investment translates into job stagnation, continued poverty and limited access to education and health care.Consider a few facts. The Ghana Stock Exchange regularly tops the list of the world’s highest-performing stock markets. Botswana, with its A+ credit rating, boasts one of the highest per capita government savings rates in the world, topped only by Singapore and a handful of other fiscally prudent nations.Cellphones are making phenomenal profits on the continent. Brand-name companies like Coca-Cola, GM, Caterpillar and Citibank have invested in Africa for years and are quite bullish on the future.Caricaturing a continentThe failure to show this side of Africa creates a one-dimensional caricature of a complex continent. Imagine if 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing and school shootings were all that the rest of the world knew about America.I recently produced a documentary on entrepreneurship and private enterprise in Africa. Throughout the year-long process, I came to realise how all of us in the media – even those with a true love of the continent – portray it in a way that’s truly to its detriment.The first cameraman I called to film the documentary laughed and said, “Business and Africa, aren’t those contradictory terms?” The second got excited imagining heart-warming images of women’s co-ops and market stalls brimming with rustic crafts. Several friends simply assumed I was doing a documentary on Aids. After all, what else does one film in Africa?The little-known fact is that businesses are thriving throughout Africa. With good governance and sound fiscal policies, countries like Botswana, Ghana, Uganda, Senegal and many more are bustling, their economies growing at surprisingly robust rates.Somalia: surprise, surprisePrivate enterprise is not just limited to the well-behaved nations. You can’t find a more war-ravaged land than Somalia, which has been without a central government for more than a decade.The big surprise? Private enterprise is flourishing. Mogadishu has the cheapest cellphone rates on the continent, mostly due to no government intervention. In the northern city of Hargeysa, the markets sell the latest satellite phone technology. The electricity works.When the state collapsed in 1991, the national airline went out of business. Today, there are five private carriers and price wars keep the cost of tickets down. This is not the Somalia you see in the media.Obviously life there would be dramatically improved by good governance – or even just some governance – but it’s also true that, through resilience and resourcefulness, Somalis have been able to create a functioning society.African solutionsMost African businesses suffer from an extreme lack of infrastructure, but the people I met were too determined to let this stop them. It just costs them more. Without reliable electricity, most businesses have to use generators. They have to dig bore-holes for a dependable water source. Telephone lines are notoriously out of service, but cellphones are filling the gap.Throughout Africa, what I found was a private sector working hard to find African solutions to African problems.One example that will always stick in my mind is the CEO of Vodacom Congo, the largest cellphone company in that country. Alieu Conteh started his business while the civil war was still raging. With rebel troops closing in on the airport in Kinshasa, no foreign manufacturer would send in a cell phone tower, so Conteh got locals to collect scrap metal, which they welded together to build one. That tower still stands today.As I interviewed successful entrepreneurs, I was continually astounded by their ingenuity, creativity and steadfastness. These people are the future of the continent. They are the ones we should be talking to about how to move Africa forward.Obsession with victims, savioursInstead, the media concentrates on victims or government officials, and as anyone who has worked in Africa knows, government is more often a part of the problem than of the solution.When the foreign media descend on the latest crisis, the person they look to interview is invariably the foreign saviour, an aid worker from the United States or Europe. African saviours are everywhere, delivering aid on the ground. But they don’t seem to be in our cultural belief system.It’s not just the media, either. Look at the literature put out by almost any non-governmental organisation. The better ones show images of smiling African children – smiling because they have been helped by the NGO. The worst promote the extended-belly, flies-on-the-face cliche of Africa, hoping that the pain of seeing those images will fill their coffers. “We hawk poverty”, one NGO worker admitted to me.Last November, ABC’s “Primetime Live” aired a special on Britain’s Prince Harry and his work with Aids children in Lesotho. The segment, titled “The Forgotten Kingdom: Prince Harry in Lesotho”, painted the tiny nation as a desperate, desolate place. The programme’s message was clear: This helpless nation at last had a knight – or prince – in shining armour.By the time the charity addresses came up at the end, you were ready to give, and that’s good. Lesotho needs help with its Aids problem. But would it really have hurt the story to add that this land-locked nation with few natural resources has jump-started its economy by aggressively courting foreign investment?The reality is that it’s anything but a “forgotten kingdom”, as a dramatic increase in exports has made it the top beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a duty-free, quota-free US-Africa trade agreement. More than 50 000 people have gotten jobs through the country’s initiatives.Couldn’t the programme have portrayed an African country that was in need of assistance, but was neither helpless nor a victim?Whose portrait of Africa?
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Play Your Part series episode two: synopsis

first_imgThe second episode of the new Play Your Part television series airs on Saturday, 2 September 2017. Here’s a synopsis of what you’ll see.Zareef Minty is an entrepreneur and author of the book Empire.Brand South Africa reporterThe second episode of the new season of the Play Your Part television series airs on Saturday, 2 September on SABC 2. Each week, the series, which has 26 episodes, profiles South Africans who are making a positive difference in their communities.Entrepreneur and politician Zareef Minty, Nina Venjakob of the initiative Out of the Box and the team of the Awethu Project are featured.Minty is an entrepreneur and author of the book Empire. The book teaches young people to become financially savvy. There is also a focus on self-branding.The Awethu Project helps entrepreneurs through incubation centres and online mentorship.It has partnered with more than 100 entrepreneurs who were seeking financial and operational support to grow their business, without the business owners giving up control.Venjakob, of the non-government organisation Out of the Box, uplifts and empowers people in Germiston and its surrounding areas.The NGO helps individuals become self-sufficient entrepreneurs. Skills and training are provided.Play Your Part is broadcast at 18:00 every Saturday on SABC 2.To get involved in playing your part in South Africa, here’s what you can do:Check out the conversation on Twitter: #GetInvolvedOr find out about initiatives on Play Your Part here.Tell us how you Play Your Part: @PlayYourPartSA.Follow Brand South Africa on Twitter: @Brand_SA.Like us on Facebook: Official Brand South Africa.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

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Green Technical Assistance Providers Wanted

first_imgEnterprise Green Communities is seeking qualified consultants to expand its Technical Assistance Providers Network in response to the growing demand for specialized technical assistance designing, developing, and operating green affordable housing developments. Enterprise has released its second national Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to identify the nation’s leading green professionals in the residential building sector. The objective of this RFQ is to expand the delivery of technical assistance to local affordable housing developers.The network of approved technical assistance providers will support project teams in one or more of the following categories:Integrated DesignDesign ReviewEnergy ServicesConstruction ReviewHVAC and Air Sealing/Insulation Walk-ThroughsHealthy Living EnvironmentPost-Construction Completion ReviewOperations and MaintenanceInterested parties are encouraged to submit a response to this RFQ that conveys organizational qualifications and project experience byJuly 19, 2010.To access the RFQ go to: http://www.greencommunitiesonline.org/tools/resources/technical_assistance.asplast_img read more

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Lighting for Video: Fluorescents Tutorial

first_imgLearn what makes fluorescent lighting unique and how to best use it in your film and video productions.We recently covered incandescent lighting in our ongoing Lighting for Video series (see those posts here and here). In this tutorial we’re switching gears, going in-depth on fluorescents.Learn what makes fluorescents unique and how they compare to incandescent lighting. We cover a few standard lighting setup examples and I share a few must-know fluorescent lighting tips for video pros (ie, only buy professional grade bulbs!)Fluorescents have a relatively soft throw, so they’re great for adding an overall punch to your image. They are typically lightweight, have great power efficiency and don’t get as hot as other types of lighting instruments.What type of lighting are you using for your film and video projects? Share your suggestions in the comments below (brands, setups or tips that work best for you). Thanks for watching!last_img read more

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