Costa Rica tops Central American ranking in latest climate change adaptation index

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. – Costa Rica has displaced Panama as the best-prepared country in Central America for climate change, according to data released last Wednesday by the University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN).ND-GAIN is the world’s leading annual index that ranks 178 nations based on their vulnerability to climate change and their readiness to adapt to the droughts, superstorms and natural disasters that climate change can cause.Leading this year’s index is Norway, with a score of 82.7 out of 100, followed by New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Iceland.The world’s least-prepared country is the landlocked African nation of Chad, with a score of 31.6. Other countries ranking toward the bottom of the ND-GAIN index were Burundi, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Congo, Sudan, Niger, Afghanistan and Haiti.Central America ranks somewhere in the middle, with Costa Rica at 69th place and a score of 58.2, followed by Panama (56.6), Belize (50.3), El Salvador (49.5), Nicaragua (49.1), Guatemala (48.5) and Honduras (45.3).See the rankings hereIn 2012, Panama ranked highest in the region, with a score of 67.2 – followed closely by El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.“This 2014 index captures the latest in vulnerability and readiness data and research,” said Jessica Hellmann, ND-GAIN’s research director. “In Norway and other members of the ND-GAIN leaderboard, we see role models in countries positioned to adapt to climate change. We also see a need for improvement. Not even the most developed countries are risk-free and completely prepared to deal with climate change.”Hellmann was one of several speakers to address ND-GAIN’s annual meeting Nov. 5, hosted by the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan global public policy institution. She noted that three of the seven countries declining most in rank from 2013 to 2014 are in Central America: Guatemala (-26), El Salvador (-30) and Belize (-39).“ND-GAIN continues to be an open, transparent and actionable index, which has been conceived with the aid of open-source, state-of-the-art data and analysis tools,” said Nitesh Chawla, the organization’s index director. “ND-GAIN also is preparing a scenario-analysis tool for users to conduct ‘what-if’ analyses and evaluate the impact of different possible action plans. This actionable nature of the index, and the tools we have, allows us to provide customized products to partners and other interested parties.”Although Central America accounts for only 0.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, scientists consider the region a “hotspot” for climate-related damages in the future, along with sub-Saharan Africa, Bangladesh and the Maldives. Central America’s seven countries also suffer a disproportionate share of the consequences of global warming, including floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters.“Central America is not as prepared as it could be, and part of that is directly linked to the lack of public policies in place,” said Juan José Daboub, founding CEO of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Institute and a member of the ND-GAIN advisory board. “The other reason has to do with the inability to attract more local and foreign direct investment to these areas that represent vulnerabilities.” Juan José Daboub, founding CEO of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Institute and a member of the ND-GAIN advisory board. (Courtesy of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index)Related: Drought hits Central America’s crops, cattleDaboub is a former finance minister of his native El Salvador, and is also former managing director of the World Bank. He said the world must spend $30 billion to $100 billion annually for the next 25 years just on adaptation. That doesn’t even include mitigating the effects of climate change. Of that total, Central America will need to spend around $1 billion a year.Since no government can possibly cover that cost, the answer can only come through private-sector investment – especially since it doesn’t appear likely that the world will come to an agreement on reversing climate change anytime soon.“My country, El Salvador, went literally from hardship to investment-grade in a relatively short period of time,” Daboub said. “We used to use indicators very similar to the ND-GAIN to persuade, convince and encourage policymakers to adapt the right, proven policies to change the future of our country. This means opening up the economy and investing in health and education.”He added: “The different matrixes used in ND-GAIN allows any decision-maker to dive in and see, for example, how come Costa Rica is doing better than El Salvador in access to clean water. We use tools like that to help move the needle and attract investments. When you implement the right public policies, you’ll open the eyes of private investors.”For example, he said that in El Salvador, municipalities operate the water system much more efficiently than at the federal level, and that privately owned coffee plantations do a better job than most municipios at running waste treatment plants.“Most of our countries have done nothing or very little to improve efficiency,” he said. “If you want to fix the problem, you need a public policy that allows for private-sector investment.”Asked how climate change can be a major concern to Central American governments already overwhelmed by gang violence, drug trafficking and corruption, Daboub said the region can’t afford not to deal with it.“Politicians all over the world are always thinking about the next election, not the next generation,” he told The Tico Times. “Of course, the issue of security has to be addressed. You can’t ignore it when the homicide rate is 70 or 80 per 100,000. The problem is that advocates of climate change on the mitigation side talk about something that can happen 30 years from now – whereas we are talking about something that’s happening now. It cannot be ignored.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Small but vocal turnout in Costa Rica for global climate march After 11 days of talks, a climate agreement The Guardian names Costa Rican journalist among ‘young climate campaigners to watch’ ahead of Paris 2015 Big Oil’s heirs join call for action as climate summit openslast_img read more

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Drones could be stressing out wildlife scientists suggest

first_imgRelated posts:Local businesses swat at new regulations, fees for drones Drone hits small plane over Costa Rica park Biodiverse Costa Rica announces policy to protect fragile ecosystems Costa Rica government vows to no longer support international shark protections The rising popularity of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has caused them to show up everywhere from private back yards to national parks, and the drones have proven useful for all kinds of applications, including recreation, military defense and even scientific research. As a result, although drones and wildlife might not seem like they should ever mix, more and more frequently they do.One increasing use for UAVs is allowing scientists, conservationists and even ecotourists to get up close and personal with nature. They have been used to ward off rhino and elephant poachers in Africa and collect data on wild humpback whales. Amateur drone operators have used UAVs to collect videos and photographs of wildlife, such as dolphins, in their natural habitats.Recommended: Drones could help spot illegal fishing around Costa Rica’s Cocos IslandBut as much as UAVs are becoming more common among wildlife researchers and enthusiasts, there has been little research on how the animals actually react to the aircraft. Measuring animals’ reactions to drones buzzing around overhead is important for figuring out how much stress the aircraft may be putting on the local fauna, say researchers from the University of Minnesota. And they have just released a study that lead author Mark Ditmer, a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, says he hopes will encourage more research on the subject.The study, released Thursday in the journal Current Biology, suggests that black bears can be stressed out by the presence of UAVs, even if they don’t outwardly show it.Ditmer and his colleagues outfitted four bears in northwestern Minnesota — two mothers with cubs, one hibernating female, and one young male — with GPS collars and cardiac “biologgers,” or devices that collect heart rate data. Then, they flew a UAV over each bear anywhere from one to nine times (for a total of 18 flights) while observing the bears’ movements and heart rates.They found that each of the bears’ heart rates spiked every time the drone flew overhead, suggesting that they were stressed by the UAV’s presence. But surprisingly, even though their hearts were racing, the bears tended to stand still rather than run away. This reaction underscores the importance of conducting physiological tests on wildlife, such as heart rate monitoring, rather than just watching to see what they do when a drone is around, Ditmer says.“Just because we can’t directly observe an effect doesn’t mean it’s not there,” Ditmer says. If the researchers had simply watched the bears’ movements during the UAV flights, he adds, “we would have incorrectly come to the conclusion that UAV flights weren’t having much of an effect on individuals.”Ditmer also suspects that bears in other locations might have even more pronounced stress responses to UAVs: The bears in his study lived in areas heavily populated by humans and were probably used to a little noise from nearby roads and farms.“These bears are in probably one of the most human-dominated parts of Minnesota, in terms of where bears are located anyway, so we thought they would be the most habituated to outside stressors,” Ditmer says. It’s another reason more research is needed: Animals in different locations or under different circumstances, even if they are members of the same species, may not react to stress factors in the same way. And similar physiological studies could be warranted for other animals that are commonly the subject of drone research or interventions.Over a long period, the physiological stress response could be bad for the health of wildlife if they fail to get habituated to the presence of drones, Ditmer says. Even more worrying, animals that also exhibit behavioral responses to drones — by running away, for example — could become more “vulnerable to sources of mortality,” the authors write, such as fleeing into traffic or into another individual’s territory.The end goal would be to figure out whether repeated drone use is likely to be harmful to animals. With the bears, for instance, Ditmer says there is a chance that the animals could become accustomed to drones over time and be less bothered by them. Other research could also examine whether different heights, speeds or even sound frequencies are less likely to bother the animals.To be clear, Ditmer says, his team’s study is not meant to advocate against the use of UAVs, which have high potential for both conservation and research applications. “We’re just highlighting a potential issue that needs to come into closer consideration when we decide where and where to use them,” he says. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Costa Rica ponders tax on fast food soft drinks

first_imgOfficials from Costa Rica’sSocial Security System, or Caja, on Tuesday reported the agency will allocate just over ₡3 trillion ($5.5 billion) of its budget for covering public health care expenses and pension payments in 2016.That figure is 8.5 percent higher than what was invested this year, so the agency is evaluating new revenue sources that could include a new tax on soft drinks and fast food, chief financial manager Gustavo Picado Chacón said.A proposed bill for the new tax likely would be submitted for approval next year, but Picado noted that officials are aware the idea of ​​taxing food is not going to be an easy sell.“We know that the immediate reaction of most people will be to oppose [the new tax], but we also know it can have a positive effect, not only on our finances but also on public health,” he said.Mexico implemented taxes on soda and junk food in 2013 to the applause of public health advocates. On the soda side, preliminary results have shown an increase in the price of sugary drinks, a decrease in purchases of such drinks and an increase in purchases of bottled water.In Costa Rica, two separate studies released earlier this year found that Ticos’ eating habits are heavy in consumption of industrially processed foods and drinks, including an alarming amount of sodium among children.Picado said the Caja’s current funding model is strongly focused on mandatory monthly contributions made by workers and employers, representing just over 80 percent of its total income.That means any increase in unemployment figures directly affects the agency’s finances, “so it is imperative for us to find further income options, and one of those is taxes that have been successfully implemented in other countries,” he said.Costa Rica in 2012 passed an anti-smoking law that among other regulations set taxes on every cigarette sold. Collection of this tax in recent years has provided the Caja with about ₡22 billion ($40 million), the agency reported.Related: Costa Rican diet includes too much salt, processed food, experts say Facebook Comments Related posts:No free dental checkups for self-employed workers who owe the Caja, Sala IV rules Costa Rican diet includes too much salt, processed food, experts say Agriculture Ministry surveys population’s consumption of fruits, vegetables, seafood Costa Rica ranks healthiest country in Latin Americalast_img read more

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Cubas Raúl Castro on grand bridgebuilding France trip

first_imgPARIS – Cuba’s Communist President Raúl Castro will be welcomed under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris during a rare state visit Monday to showcase his island’s warming ties with big world powers.The Cuban leader arrived in Paris on Saturday, two days ahead of the start of the official program, sources at Orly airport south of Paris said.Castro’s visit is an indication of his island’s improved ties with major powers following last year’s restoration of relations with longtime foe, the United States.On the back of that rapprochement the 84-year-old leader is now paying court to France, one of his most powerful European allies.French officials said when the visit was announced Jan. 19 that it would mark “a new stage in the strengthening of relations between the two countries” following on from President Francois Hollande’s own state visit to Cuba last May, the first by a western head of state in more than half a century.“This visit is important for Cuba’s image,” said Eduardo Perera, an expert in international relations at Havana University, specializing in Europe. “It will undeniably make Cuba shine on the international stage.” Cuban President Raúl Castro addresses the 70th Session of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015 in New York. Timothy A. Clary/AFPHavana hopes the visit will allow Cuba to “widen and diversify its relations with France in all possible areas — politics, economics, trade, finance, investment, culture and cooperation,” said Rogelio Sierra, Cuban deputy foreign minister.Although Washington has yet to lift its half-century trade embargo on Cuba, U.S. and European businesses are jockeying for a place in the market as the island’s economy gradually opens up. Hollande urged an end to the blockade, which was imposed in 1962, on his Havana visit.Trade delegations have been flocking to Cuba, hoping to cash in on its highly trained workforce and natural assets such as its sundrenched Caribbean beaches, a draw for tourists.Cuba, meanwhile, needs to tap new sources of income as its main ally and  financial backer, Venezuela, remains mired in economic and political crisis.During Castro’s visit, France and Cuba are expected to sign an “economic roadmap” to improved ties, French officials said.They will also sign deals on transport, tourism and fair trade.Bilateral trade between France and Cuba is currently worth about $195 million.That level is “not in line with our ambitions,” France’s minister of state for foreign trade, Matthias Fekl, was quoted as saying in French newspaper L’Humanite. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro talks to reporters from the Elysee Palace, next to then French counterpart François Mitterrand on March 13, 1995 in Paris. Michel Gangne/AFPCastros in the ElyseeCastro’s Paris trip is his first state visit to Europe since he took over from his elder brother Fidel as leader in 2006. The latter visited France in 1995 and met then President Francois Mitterrand.French officials said Hollande will officially receive his guest Monday under the Arc de Triomphe at the top of Champs Elysees avenue, which will be decked with Cuban flags.Castro will then hold talks with Hollande at the Elysee presidential palace and attend a state dinner before Tuesday meeting various French officials.France recently engineered an agreement among the Paris Club of international creditors to write off $8.5 billion of Cuba’s debt.It could now agree to further debt relief, potentially widening Cuba’s access to international financial markets.Paris is also taking a leading role in strengthening Cuba’s political ties with Europe as a whole.Human rights remains a sensitive issue, with international authorities accusing the Castros of repressing and harassing their political opponents. The government is sensitive about being lectured on the topic.A diplomatic source in Paris said human rights “will be discussed” during the bilateral talks. Hollande is expected to take a discreet stance on the issue, however, after his meeting with Fidel Castro last year drew some criticism.Hollande this week hosted Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, another head of state from a country whose leaders are accused of human rights abuses. Hailing a “new relationship,” Hollande and Rouhani sealed a sheaf of large trade deals drawn up after nuclear sanctions on Iran were lifted.Recommended: A flow of Cubans – going home Facebook Comments Related posts:US opens greater channels for trade, air links with Cuba Obama to make historic visit to Cuba in March Obama, Castro hail ‘new day’ for US-Cuba relations Obama addresses the Cuban nation in historic Havana visitlast_img read more

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PHOTOS Happy Earth Day Costa Rica

first_img Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times Jesse Chapman/The Tico Times Alberto Font/The Tico Times Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times (Courtesy of Centro Cientifico Tropical) Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times Avi Kapfer/MarViva Foundation Alberto Font/The Tico Times Related posts:Tree-replacement project is improving biodiversity at San José’s La Sabana Park Costa Rica declines to vote on shark protections at international convention Alleged gold miners end protest at Corcovado National Park Costa Rica launches quest to replace most single-use plastic by 2021 Ronald Reyes/The Tico Timescenter_img (Courtesy of Centro Cientifico Tropical) Photo courtesy of Felipe López (Courtesy of Centro Cientifico Tropical) Robert Isenberg/The Tico Times In celebration of our little 51,100-square-kilometer stretch of earth, here are some of our favorite photos: Facebook Comments Photo courtesy of Felipe López Alberto Font/The Tico Times Andrés Madrigal/The TicoTimeslast_img read more

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Uber Costa Rica drops fares 20 percent and some drivers arent happy

first_imgUber Costa Rica announced a 20 percent drop in its fares Tuesday evening effective immediately, and some of its drivers are not happy about it.Several chauffeurs complained to The Tico Times that the price gouge comes as many have been struggling to cover their expenses. But the ride-hailing company said that the fare drop would benefit drivers by spurring greater demand.“In five and a half years, we’ve learned that the most effective way to stimulate demand is to reduce fares for passengers,” Uber wrote in a news release.As of Tuesday evening, the base fare for a ride in the San José area fell from ₡1,000 to ₡800, and the cost per kilometer fell from ₡300 to ₡240. The company said that it would guarantee “minimums” during certain hours to “help drivers through the transition.” The company did not specify what those minimums would be.The San Francisco-based company said similar reductions in other cities in the United States, Mexico and Colombia have improved demand, thus triggering an increase in the frequency of surge pricing, which multiplies the fare as demand rises, benefitting drivers and the company.But part-time Uber driver Mario Delgado was wary of comparing those markets to Costa Rica. “That might have been the case in those other places, but Costa Rica is small,” he said, “In my opinion, I don’t think it’s going to work.”Delgado said he isn’t too worried about the fare cut yet since he has other sources of income and health insurance provided by another job. But he said that he has seen his income from Uber drop in recent months. During one recent shift between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., he said he made ₡10,000 — less than $20 — compared to the ₡30,000 — roughly $60 — that used to be typical for him during the same amount of time.Delgado said he was worried about some drivers he knew who had leased a new vehicle specifically to work for Uber.“They’re going to have to live in their car to make a living with Uber,” he said.Another Uber driver, Carlos Brenes, agreed.“I think it’s terrible,” said Brenes, who used to work in a bingo parlor until he was laid off three months ago. “There’s too many cars and not enough demand.”Many drivers, like Brenes, have looked to the company as a stopgap after losing a job, while others drive full-time. Unemployment hovers around 10 percent in Costa Rica.Several Uber drivers have told The Tico Times that competition for fares among the increasingly large pool of Uber drivers has made the service less lucrative. Uber has said it has “several thousand” registered drivers in Costa Rica.“Everyone rushed in and now there’s not enough work to go around,” Brenes said.The large pool of drivers is not a negative from Uber’s perspective. The company has said numerous times that its goal is to offer near immediate service to the app’s users.But demand from riders has not kept pace with the jump in drivers since the service went online here in August 2015, prompting this week’s effort to get more people to use the service.Taxis have so far been the main force protesting Uber in Costa Rica but it wouldn’t be unheard of for Uber drivers to demonstrate against the fare change. Uber drivers in Paris protested the same 20 percent fare cut in October 2015, according to the French newspaper L’Express.No driver The Tico Times spoke with said they planned to leave the platform over the fare changes — yet.“The way I see it,” Brenes said, “if the drivers don’t like it, they can leave.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Uber rival Cabify coming to Costa Rica Uber Costa Rica pulls out of job fair over security concerns  Taxis protest as lawmakers present bill that could legalize Uber Intel’s Vince Guglielmetti wants more Costa Rican engineerslast_img read more

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Sun halo dazzles in sky over Costa Rica

first_imgDid you see it?The Saturday morning sky above Costa Rica’s Central Valley featured a (relatively) rare optical phenomenon known as a sun halo or 22 degree halo.Halo Solar: efecto óptico causado por partículas de hielo en suspensión en la troposfera que refractan la luz haciendo un espectro de colores alrededor del Sol. Procesos de reflexión y refracción de los pequeños cristales de hielo que constituyen las nubes altas tipo cirrus. pic.twitter.com/y5shqwoMrE— IMN, Costa Rica (@IMNCR) May 11, 2019According to the National Meteorological Institute (IMN), the halo is an optical effect caused by suspended ice particles in the troposphere that refract light by making a spectrum of colors around the sun. Facebook Comments Related posts:Strong winds to hit Costa Rica again Thursday Experts predict continued rainfall deficits throughout Central America due to El Niño Warming oceans are turning sea stars to goo and killing lobsters, scientists say Water rationing in Central Valley to continue for two more weekslast_img read more

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2M slated for Puerto Ricans with HIVAIDS

first_imgIt’s unclear exactly how many patients are waiting for their medication.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories Comments   Share   SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Puerto Rico is slated to receive more than $2 million in federal funds to help those on a waiting list for HIV/AIDS medication.Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi said Tuesday that the money will target patients lacking health insurance. The announcement comes after the U.S. territory recently received $17 million to boost prevention and treatment programs in metropolitan areas.More than 44,000 people on the island of nearly 4 million inhabitants have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helpcenter_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familylast_img read more

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Mexicos president tries to change countrys name

first_img Sponsored Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Check your body, save your life Still, President Felipe Calderon called a news conference Thursday to announce that he wants to make the name simply “Mexico.” His country doesn’t need to copy anyone, he said.Calderon first proposed the name change as a congressman in 2003 but the bill did not make it to a vote. The new constitutional reform he proposed would have to be approved by both houses of Congress and a majority of Mexico’s 31 state legislatures.However, Calderon leaves office on Dec. 1, raising the question of whether his proposal is a largely symbolic gesture. His proposal was widely mocked on Twitter as a ridiculous parting shot from a lame-duck president.Calderon said that while the name change “doesn’t have the urgency of other reforms,” it should be seen as a relevant issue. “Mexico doesn’t need a name that emulates another country and that no one uses on a daily basis,” he said.The United States looms larger than perhaps any other country in the Mexican cultural imagination: Mexicans follow U.S. sports teams, watch U.S. television shows and buy U.S.-made products. For many, however, there is also resentment of a larger and more powerful northern neighbor that’s often seen as ignoring or looking down its nose at Mexico. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Associated PressMEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexico’s president is making one last attempt to get the “United States” out of Mexico _ at least as far as the country’s name is concerned.The name “United Mexican States,” or “Estados Unidos Mexicanos,” was adopted in 1824 after independence from Spain in imitation of Mexico’s democratic northern neighbor, but it is rarely used except on official documents, money and other government material. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   Calderon has tried to keep Mexico’s international image, and its vital tourism industry, from being tarred by the waves of violence set off by his six-year, militarized offensive against drug cartels. At least 47,500 people have died in cartel-related violence during his term in office, although the number is believed to be far higher, since his administration stopped releasing an official count last year.A poll released this week by the Vianovo consulting firm said that half of all Americans view Mexico unfavorably and more than 70 percent believe it’s unsafe to travel south of the border. The poll of 1,000 adults had a margin of error of four percentage points.“It’s time for Mexicans to return to the beauty and simplicity of the name of our country, Mexico,” Calderon said. “A name that we chant, that we sing, that makes us happy, that we identify with, that fills us with pride.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

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Greece Far right party sues senior prosecutors

first_img The vital role family plays in society The government describes Golden Dawn as a neo-Nazi organization. A crackdown against the party was launched after the arrest of a party volunteer accused of stabbing a prominent rap singer to death in September.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   3 international destinations to visit in 2019center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party is suing three senior judicial officials leading an investigation into the party’s alleged criminal activity, following the imprisonment of its leader and five other lawmakers charged with membership of a criminal organization.Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris said Friday that the action was taken against a public prosecutor and two investigative magistrates, accusing them of breach of duty and calling them “instruments of anti-Greek power.” The party claims orders to detain three of the lawmakers were signed before their appearance at a magistrate’s office, contrary to normal procedure.last_img read more

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Families affected by early Alzheimers seek better treatment

first_imgGiedre Cohen, 37, of Calabasas, Calif., and Carrie Richardson, 34, of Montgomery, Ala., pose for a picture during a break at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington, Saturday, July 18, 2015. Saturday for the first time, researchers brought together dozens of these families with the very rarest form of Alzheimer’s, young and inherited–patients, patients-to-be and their healthy loved ones _ from as far as Australia and Britain to meet face-to-face. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “It’s time to ease our anguish,” said Tal Cohen of Calabasas, California. At age 37, his wife, Giedre, already is in the mild-to-moderate stage of Alzheimer’s.He emerged hopeful that researchers are considering creative ways to speed that access. “We don’t have any more time to wait and see,” he said.Alzheimer’s usually strikes older adults, affecting about 1 in 9 people age 65 or over. Less than 1 percent of cases worldwide are the autosomal dominant form, caused by inheriting a gene with a particular mutation that triggers the disease well before the senior years. Children of an affected parent have a 50 percent chance of inheriting their family’s bad gene. But if they do, they almost always get sick about the same time their parent did.Many of these families are part of the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) study that monitors the health of family gene carriers and their healthy relatives in several countries. Recently, it showed that silent changes in the brain can precede the first memory problems by 20 years.Now scientists think the best hope against Alzheimer’s is to treat high-risk people long before symptoms appear, aiming to at least stall the disease if not prevent it. Top Stories Families like DeMoe’s with the very rarest form of Alzheimer’s, young and inherited, hold crucial clues to fighting this brain-destroying disease in everyone.On Saturday, researchers for the first time brought together dozens of these families — patients, patients-to-be and their healthy loved ones — from as far as Australia and Britain to meet face to face. They shared advice about when their children should undergo gene testing to learn their own fate, and they got an unusual opportunity to grill government and drug company officials about why it’s taking so long to find a good treatment.“Finally, I got to talk to other people who are going through the same thing,” said DeMoe, of Thompson, North Dakota, who with four other siblings inherited the family’s bad gene. One sister was spared.His wife, Deb, said he experiences early memory changes known as mild cognitive impairment, but DeMoe still holds a job with an oil company and said, “I don’t dwell on it.”Families’ first question: Why not try to fix the gene defect that causes this form of Alzheimer’s instead of targeting its downstream effects? Why, asked others, can’t desperate families get faster access to experimental drugs, as AIDS patients once did? 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches 0 Comments   Share   But knowing who is destined for Alzheimer’s and approximately when it will strike makes rare families such as DeMoe’s especially critical for research. A second DIAN study now is testing whether either of two experimental drugs might give those gene carriers more symptom-free years by fighting buildup of sticky amyloid in the brain. That study soon will expand to test additional drugs.“The goal here really is to get drugs approved to help everyone,” said Dr. Randall Bateman of Washington University in St. Louis, who oversees the DIAN drug study.Dean DeMoe came to the meeting with his wife, healthy sister and two of his three children. He wishes researchers could have revealed if those drugs are working, but they won’t know for several years. Meanwhile, his two oldest children, in their 20s, had gene testing as part of health-tracking research but chose not to be told the results until they are older or protective drugs come along. His teenager thinks she will make the same choice.DeMoe pins his hopes on the drug study. “It might not do good for me,” he said, “but it’s important for my family and for everyone.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Mesa family survives lightning strike to homecenter_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 WASHINGTON (AP) — Alzheimer’s has ravaged generations of Dean DeMoe’s family — his grandmother, father, siblings — all in their 40s and 50s.DeMoe himself inherited the culprit gene mutation and at 53, the North Dakota man volunteers for a drug study he hopes one day will end the family’s burden.International scientists gathering in Washington for a conference this week express cautious optimism that they may finally be on the right track to fight Alzheimer’s, a disease that already affects more than 5 million people in the United States and is expected to more than double by 2050 as the population ages. On Sunday, researchers at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference reported possible new ways to predict who will get sick with the more common late-onset Alzheimer’s — vital to testing such treatments — and a single test probably won’t be enough, said Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist Marilyn Albert.–Tracking about 350 people starting in middle age, Albert’s team found a combination of tests predicted development of mild cognitive impairment within five years. They include a spinal tap to measure toxic levels of Alzheimer’s hallmark amyloid and tau proteins; MRI scans to detect shrinking brain regions; and two standard memory assessments. The combination isn’t ready for doctors’ offices, but should help drug companies tell who to enroll in early-stage treatment studies, she said.–Scientists at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam found another protein, named neurogranin, in spinal fluid. It may signal that connections called synapses are dying, making it harder for brain cells to communicate.–Researchers at the University of Alberta, Canada, are beginning to hunt a saliva test for earlier markers of cognitive decline.last_img read more

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Perth to trial Qcard instant checkin

first_imgQantas will start trails of its new Q-card in Perth Domestic Airport this week as part of its ‘Next Generation Check-in’ system test.“The Q-card will be all [passengers] need to check in and board [their] flight,” a Qantas online instructional video claimed.Qantas Frequent Flyers, selected to participate in the trial, simply swipe their Q-card against a Q-card Reader and they are checked in automatically, the Q-card then acting as a boarding pass.If passengers have bags, they can print and attach their own bag tag before proceeding to a new designated bag drop facility.”Next Generation Check-in has been designed to deliver an enhanced check-in experience for our customers – providing greater speed and ease through the airport terminal by eliminating airport queuing,” Qantas executive Alison Webster said.Qantas plan to issue Q-cards to all Qantas Club members over the next year such that the cards will operate as their permanent boarding passes.At the same time the airline hopes to introduce the Marc Newson designed Q Bag Tag, which synchronises with the Q-card, cutting time spent in baggage queues.Qantas is set to extend the trail to Sydney later in the year, with plans to open in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne in 2011. <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/1ae60/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.Alast_img read more

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Tourism boosts NZ service sector

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J New Zealand’s service sector rose by up to 1.5 points last month, recovering after February’s Christchurch quake.The 52.6 figure in April was the highest since last September, signaling a return in travel confidence to the region, NZ Herald reported.”Both the Canterbury/Westland and Otago/Southland regions improved from their severe level of contraction in March, with the former actually leading the way in terms of regional expansion for April,” Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O’Reilly said.According to Business New Zealand economist Craig Ebert, the country’s recovery will continue to experience growth over the coming months, particularly as the country prepares to host the Rugby World Cup later this year.“The next test for in-bound tourism will be the winter (ski) season, followed by the Rugby World Cup in the Spring,” Mr Ebert said. “The big test for the industry will be the path of the global economy over the coming years.” last_img read more

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Casino controversy continues

first_imgAffluent Chinese tourists are a significant component for James Packer’s hopes to construct a second Sydney casino at Barangaroo. Mr Packer has found opposition to his plans for a second harbour-side casino in the form of Tourism Queensland chairman, Don Morris. Consumer research provided by Tourism Australia supports Mr Morris’ claims that Chinese tourists are not visiting Australia just to gamble and visit casinos. “Our traditional European, British and US markets have long been seduced by the uniqueness of Australia’s easygoing, class-free culture. And the Chinese are the same, with this research ranking ‘laid-back and easygoing’ as their key motivator for visiting Australia, after safety,” Mr Morris told The Australian. Mr Packer disagreed and said that without proper infrastructure, accommodation and entertainment “we will not get the tourism growth Australia deserves”. He has support from Tourism Australia chairman and Crown board member Geoff Dixon. “The Crown, Burswood and Star complexes are a lot more than casinos; they are integrated resorts that provide some of the best restaurants, convention and meeting facilities in Australia,” Mr Dixon said. “To get very desirable venues you often need revenues from casinos.” Mr Packer said the rising middle class tourists spread throughout China and Asia “wants luxury hotels, great restaurants, high-end retail and an entertainment experience which usually includes the opportunity to have a gamble”. Mr Dixon agreed claiming “they [high-end Chinese travellers] want all the things our research says, such as the environment and good food, but also many of them do desire the opportunity to visit casinos”. Despite his lack of encouragement for a second Sydney casino, Mr Morris supported Mr Packer’s suggestion of a new hotel in Sydney.“A new major Sydney hotel of the superb standard of Melbourne’s Crown Towers would provide a vital and overdue tourism impetus to Sydney and benefit immensely the entire Australian tourism sector.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

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Mother caught in airport counterterrorism sting

first_imgPolice did not divulge where the woman was from or where she intended to travel but she was released on strict bail terms. Operatives from the joint counter-terrorism team stopped the woman boarding her flight on Saturday evening with her children, the ABC reported. Mascot Police said that the Brisbane woman was arrested and taken to their police station to face questioning and be charged with supporting incursions into a foreign state with the intention of engaging in hostile activities. Source = ETB News: Tom Neale The arrest was made under Operation Duntulum, which is targeting overseas terrorism offences committed by Australian citizens. The woman will be tried in Sydney’s Downing Centre local court on Monday June 2nd.  A mother of four has been arrested in a counter-terrorism blitz at Sydney Airport.last_img read more

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Meet Moana and discover the spirit of adventure at Aulani

first_imgMeet ‘Moana’ and discover the spirit of adventure at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawai’iMeet ‘Moana’ and discover the spirit of adventure at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawai’iDisney’s newest heroine, Moana, has arrived at ‘Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa’, the ultimate family getaway, positioned on the beautiful beaches of Ko Olina on the coast of O’ahu in Hawai’i.To celebrate the worldwide success of ‘Moana’, Disney Animation’s latest and 56th animated feature film, Aulani Resort is offering guests the opportunity to experience a range of exclusive fun-filled Moana-themed activities. Guests can experience the spirit of adventure and wonder of Hawai’i, through enchanting storytelling, a special makeover, character greetings, and much more.Moana depicts the mythical story of an adventurous teenage girl, set in the South Pacific, which sees our heroine team up with the demigod Maui on a daring mission to fulfil her ancestors’ unfinished quest as she sails among the islands of Oceania to save her people.Moana experiences, are available at Aulani Resort:Meet Moana – Guests have the opportunity to meet and take a photo with Moana the adventurous teenage girl as she explores her newest destination, Aulani Resort. A list of meeting times and locations are supplied by the resort in the Daily ‘Iwa.Uncle’s Kahakai Canoe Race – Hear Moana and ‘Uncle’ swap seafaring tales and share the importance of the canoe – wa’a to the ancestors of Native Hawaiians. Unleash the explorer within by building your own wa’a model and participate in a canoe race at the lagoon.Moana Makeover – Discover your inner adventurer with a Moana-inspired makeover in Painted Sky! Make a splash with a themed costume, styled hair, manicure, pedicure and makeup.Mo’olelo Fireside Stories with Moana – Moana and Aulani’s beloved storyteller ‘Uncle’ bring legends of the Oceania to life around the Oceanside fire pit. Get swept away as Moana recounts her own tales of adventure and way finding.About Aulani, a Disney Resort & SpaWalt Disney Imagineers worked hand in hand with local artisans and cultural experts to create Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. Inspired by the natural wonders and rich traditions of Hawai’i, Aulani is the ultimate family getaway – celebrating the beauty, history and welcoming spirit of the island.Aulani is perfectly positioned on the beautiful beaches of Ko Olina on the leeward coast of O’ahu. The Resort sits on 21 oceanfront acres. Here, guests are removed from the crowds of Waikiki, yet close enough to enjoy the wonders of the island.Aulani is part of the Ko Olina Resort Community & Marina, which features:Spectacular beaches and serene lagoonsA championship golf courseShopping and dining venuesWater sports, including snorkeling, sports fishing and more.‘Ko Olina’ means ‘Place of Joy’. Part of an original royal land division, Ko Olina was once a sacred area for Hawaiian monarchs and leaders to rest and unwind. Today, the area is an inviting vacation destination for those seeking relaxation.To plan your family’s own island adventure at Aulani Resort, visit your local travel agent.  Source = Disney Resort & Spa in Hawai’i – Aulani Resortlast_img read more

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Renaissance brand to debut in Pattaya Thailand

first_imgRenaissance brand to debut in Pattaya ThailandRenaissance brand to debut in Pattaya ThailandRenaissance Hotels is planning to open its first resort in the seaside town of Pattaya in Thailand. Located in the attractive and tranquil Jomtien district, the low-rise resort will offer a fashionable beachfront retreat within easy reach of the town’s attractions. The property is scheduled to open by the 1st September 2017.Stylish and vibrant interiors will wow guests at the 257-room Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa. With four room categories available, Renaissance Pattaya will offer some of the city’s most comfortable accommodation, including chic Pool Villas and spacious Family Suites. Recreational facilities will include two outdoor swimming pools, a kids pool, kids club and a luxury spa. Inspirational gourmet choices will be available around the clock, as dining options at the resort are set to include 609 Kitchen for breakfast and all day feasting and speciality restaurant, Pebble Bar & Grill, for fine cuts served alongside hand crafted beverages, created by an expert mixologist. R-Lounge will create a relaxing space in the lobby area, where guests can unwind and soak up the buzz of the resort.The design of the hotel is inspired by the serene beach setting of Na Jomtien and the local fishing village that Pattaya once was. Playful use of wood, veneer and metal finishes in organic earthy tones bring the feeling of the sand from Na Jomtien beach to each space, accented by marine shades of cobalt and gentian blue. The use of local Thai silk from Jim Thompson, cotton, chenille and jute complement the design scheme by adding texture and a feeling of real luxury.The latest addition to Renaissance Hotels will reflect the brand’s signature approach to feed curiosity, fuel the imagination and excite the senses. Following the Renaissance principle of Business Unusual™, where even meetings and events offer something beyond the unexpected, R.E.N. Meetings will offer groups a non-traditional experience, rooted in creative sensory meeting design and custom-curated local Navigator excursions and networking events. With spaces that can accommodate meetings and events for up to 350 people, Renaissance Pattaya is looking forward to establishing itself as a premier destination for meetings and incentives in the region.The resort’s owner, Mrs Vipavan Mahadumrongkul, Managing Director of The Ninesotel Co., Ltd shared her excitement on the announcement and said:“We are extremely pleased to be collaborating with Marriot International to introduce the first Renaissance branded property to Pattaya. We saw an opportunity to offer a non-traditional hotel experience in one of Thailand’s most mature tourism markets. The Renaissance brand is fresh and youthful and we feel confident that our location and product will be attractive to couples, families and business travellers alike. With an investment of $87 million USD, pioneering architectural and interior design and the brand hallmarks of Renaissance Hotels, we are optimistic that this hotel will be well received when it launches later this year.”Source = Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spalast_img read more

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OYO unveils current data sight insights on travel and stay pattern

first_imgOYO has unveiled OYO Red Map, launched by Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO of OYO, at Tech in Asia’s first India conference held in Bangalore.“At OYO, we are relentlessly focused on delivering a superior customer experience – from search, to booking and on-stay. In the recent past, we have made a conscious thrust towards building data science capabilities to enhance our offerings. Our data scientists use natural curiosity and innovative tools to derive deep insights into customer behavior. These insights not only help us improve our service but also take effective business decisions,” said Agarwal.OYO has now endeavoured to study consumer behaviour using both qualitative and quantitative data science research. “We record more than 750,000 bookings every month.  As one of the exploration exercises, our data science team plotted the normalised geo-locations of our booking sources. When they rendered the locations of approximately 2 million bookings on a blank chart, a complete map of India emerged. We probed the data further in order to better understand our customers, changing travel-behaviors and the various interventions that impact their decisions and choices,” added Agarwal.last_img read more

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Bots AI wearables and VR to create billiondollar savings in the tourism

first_imgThe impact of disruptive technologies on the tourism industry is set to create multi-billion dollar savings through the use of IoT, robotics, artificial intelligence (A.I), Virtual Reality (VR) and wearable technology according to data published ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2019, which is scheduled to take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 28 – May 1.The latest research from Colliers International, in partnership with ATM 2019, reveals that in addition to vast cost savings, the customer experience is set to be more streamlined with travel set to become better, smoother and more personalised with travel bookings on VR platforms, AI chatbots guiding customers through the booking process and IOT providing internet-based inter-connectivity between everyday devices.Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market said, “Technology, and the use of technology, is evolving every day. The tourism industry is at the very forefront of tech innovation with companies investing huge sums of money to improve the customer journey and experience.“Airports and airlines accounted for US$30 billion of investment in IT in 2018, however, this will be offset by the implementation of technology that will see fuel savings alone top US$30 billion in the next 15 years.“We’ve seen incredible developments in recent years, SITA, the multinational tech company to the air transport industry, for example, is using robots to check travellers onto flights and to transport their luggage, while, although in the infancy stage, robots have been used in some hotels to welcome guests and show them to their room.”ATM 2019 has adopted cutting-edge technology and innovation as its main theme and this will be integrated across all show verticals and activities, including focused seminar sessions.Running throughout the event, professionals from across the industry spectrum will discuss the ongoing unprecedented digital disruption and the emergence of innovative technologies that will fundamentally alter the way in which the hospitality industry operates in the region.Discussing the defining evolutions of hospitality technology, the Travel Tech Show will return to ATM 2019 with 45 dedicated international exhibitors and an influential agenda of discussion and debate in the Travel Tech Theatre – sponsored by Sabre Corporation.last_img read more

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Economic Worries Trample on NewHome Sales Over August

first_imgEconomic Worries Trample on New-Home Sales Over August Despite the lure of record-low mortgage rates, fewer consumers stepped out from behind the fear of a global economic slowdown to purchase new homes, curtailing new sales by 2.3 percent month-over-month in August. Market watchers chalked up a six-month dearth to consumers wary about their job security, stock markets, and the threat of a new recession.[IMAGE]Under the umbrella of the “”Commerce Department””:http://www.commerce.gov/, the “”Census Bureau””:http://www.census.gov/const/newressales.pdf signaled a fallback to 295,000 housing units on a seasonally adjusted basis, down from 302,000 from July. New-home sales figures tanked for all regions except the Midwest, which saw consumers scooping up 53,000 residences.””[I]n the current climate a new home is a luxury that many Americans can no longer afford,”” “”Paul Dales””:http://www.capitaleconomics.com/staff/global-economics/paul-dales.html, a senior U.S. economist with “”Capital Economics””:http://www.capitaleconomics.com/, wrote in a note Monday. Although Hurricane Irene may have crunched new-home sales in New England, he says, it is “”much more likely that the willingness and ability of households to buy a new home was dented by the turmoil in the financial markets and growing signs of a sustained and significant economic slowdown.””August made itself as heady an event for the markets as the storm system. A narrowly avoided debt default at the national level drove ratings heavyweight “”Standard & Poor’s””:http://www.standardandpoors.com/SPComIPResolver to “”downgrade U.S. credit””:https://themreport.com/articles/markets-shake-with-gse-home-loan-bank-downgrades-2011-08-08 from AAA to AA+, sapping GSEs “”Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html and “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ and 10 federal home loan banks of their creditworthiness in the same stroke. The move helped upend stock markets, which slashed gains by historic margins on several occasions as euro-zone economies grew less and spent more, with some, namely Greece, poised to default on their debt obligations.[COLUMN_BREAK]Downplaying headwinds from around the country and world, analysts and economists say, the real problem for housing still lay with a weak U.S. economy, which assuaged few nervous homebuyers by “”slashing as many jobs as it added over August””:https://themreport.com/articles/housing-industries-freeze-alongside-zero-job-growth-2011-09-02.””The hub on the wheel is jobs,”” “”Greg McBride””:http://www.bankrate.com/blogs/federal-reserve/about-greg-mcbride-cfa.aspx, a senior financial analyst with “”Bankrate.com””:http://www.bankrate.com/, a finance Web site, told _MReport_ in a past interview. He said that consumers would continue refraining from investments like mortgages until the national employment numbers improve.””With job growth at a standstill, the stock market swinging wildly, Congress wrangling over the debt ceiling, and the euro zone’s problems sending consumer confidence down, sales of new homes are slipping from an already weak pace,”” “”Celia Chen””:http://www.imn.org/pages/biography.cfm?personid=30DE66589034, senior research director and housing specialist with “”Moody’s Analytics””:http://www.moodysanalytics.com/, offered in Monday comments.She said the housing market continues to waffle despite an all-time high for house affordability, which rock-bottom mortgage rates shape even in failing to stimulate chronically low demand. Bankrate.com and Freddie Mac more recently found interest rates for the benchmark 30-year loan at “”4.29 percent and 4.09 percent””:https://themreport.com/articles/europe-feds-treasury-buy-up-keep-mortgage-rates-low-2011-09-22, respectively, reflecting lows not seen in the history of surveys for either company.Chen also referenced competition from a high tide of foreclosures with new home construction, with a “”RealtyTrac report””:http://www.realtytrac.com/content/press-releases/august-2011-us-foreclosure-market-report-6836 recently revealing a 7-percent month-over-month uptick over August as foreclosures rose to 228,098 from July.Tellingly, a “”National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index””:http://www.nahb.org/news_details.aspx?newsID=13446 released last week showed a three-month dearth in confidence among homebuilders, with points for the index dipping from 15 to 14.””To be sure, new-home demand still faces many obstacles, and the risks to this outlook are decidedly on the downside,”” Chen wrote.Whither new-home sales in a bad economy?She forecasted that job creation “”will remain weak until next year,”” with new-home sales continuing to “”meander close to bottom for the remainder of this year before picking up in 2012.”” September 26, 2011 422 Views Agents & Brokers Bankrate Capital Economics Census Bureau Department of Commerce Fannie Mae Fixed-Rate Mortgage Freddie Mac Home Sales Housing Affordability Investment Investors Jobs Labor Department Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates National Association of Home Builders Processing S & P Index Service Providers Shares Stocks Unemployment 2011-09-26 Ryan Schuettecenter_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Sharelast_img read more

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