first_img Comments   Share   Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project “Burma is like the work that I did in Africa in the’90s. It’s 15, 20 years out of date,” says Dr. Chris Beyrer, an HIV expert at Johns Hopkins University who has worked in Myanmar for years. “If you actually tried to treat AIDS, you’d have to say that everybody with every other condition is going to die unless there are more resources.”Of the estimated 240,000 people living with HIV, half are going without treatment. And some 18,000 people die from the disease every year, according to UNAIDS.The problem worsened last year after the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria canceled a round of funding due to a lack of international donations. The money was expected to provide HIV drugs for 46,500 people.But as Myanmar wows the world with its reforms, the U.S. and other nations are easing sanctions. The Global Fund recently urged Myanmar to apply for more assistance that would make up the shortfall and open the door for HIV drugs to reach more than 75 percent of those in need by the end of 2015. It would also fight tuberculosis, a major killer of HIV patients. TB in Myanmar is at nearly triple the global rate as multi-drug resistant forms of the disease surge. Sponsored Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement He says sicker patients deserve treatment first. Still, as he sits waiting for his second blood test, he can’t help wishing his immune system was weak enough to help him reach the magic number.But when the doctor reads his results, he knows he will leave empty-handed again.CD4 count: 289. Still too high.His only choice is to try again in three months, hoping he’ll be sick enough then.___Follow Margie Mason on Twitter at 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) He’s lost 10 pounds in the past month, dropping from 130 pounds to 120. His cheeks are starting to sink, and his eyes look hollow. His strength is also fading, and he can no longer lead grueling daily runs with the trainees. He uses his TB as an excuse, but he fears his superiors will not be fooled much longer.“I try to hide it as much as I can, but some people have started rumors about me, so I try not to face them directly,” he says. “I want to be strong like the other people. I’m trying, but now my body cannot follow my mind.”His wife refuses to be tested until Aung gets on the drugs. She worries that if she comes back positive, her guilt-ravaged husband will kill himself.“She doesn’t want me to be depressed,” he says. “If she is positive, I will be very, very depressed.”The disease has forced him to rethink who he is. He’s killed people in combat, cheated on his wife and witnessed many horrors in his lifetime. But he wants a chance to make up for his wrongs.As a Buddhist, he believes his disease is a punishment for misdeeds in a previous life. He vows to be a better man by helping others and giving what little he has to charity. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day AP Medical WriterYANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Thein Aung has been trained not to show weakness, but he’s convinced no soldier is strong enough for this.He clenches his jaw and pauses, trying to will his chin to stop quivering and his eyes not to blink. But he’s like a mountain that is crumbling. His shoulders shake, then collapse inward, and he suddenly seems small in the denim Wrangler shirt that’s rolled up to his elbows and hanging loosely off his skinny arms. Big tears drip from his reddened eyes, and he looks away, ashamed. CD4 count: 460. Low enough for drugs in the U.S., but well above the 150 cutoff in Myanmar. He was given TB meds and told to come back in three months.____Many of the 200 people crammed into the two small buildings of an HIV center just outside Yangon are simply waiting to die.Beloved opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited patients there in November 2010, just days after being freed from house arrest, appealing to the world for more medicine. She also spoke passionately in July about the stigma of HIV via a video link to the International AIDS conference in Washington, saying, “Our people need to understand what HIV really is. We need to understand this is not something that we need to be afraid of.”There are no doctors or nurses stationed at the hospice supported by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, forcing patients to care for each other. One man hangs a drip bag on a plastic string from the ceiling over an emaciated body. Other caregivers _ many of whom are also infected _ wave paper fans beside their loved ones for hours, providing the only relief they can offer.Infected children whose parents have already passed away play barefoot in the stuffy, crowded rooms. Bodies, some nothing more than breathing corpses, are stacked side by side on bamboo slats above dirt floors. Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix The questions swarmed and consumed him, followed by a flood of worry and guilt that he had possibly infected his spouse. Then the bigger concern: What’s next?Unlike many living in a country closed off to the world for the past half century of military rule, Aung, an Army staff sergeant, had some firsthand knowledge about HIV.He had watched the disease rot one soldier from the inside out, punishing him with a cruel death. But he also saw another get on treatment and live a normal life, despite the military kicking him out.With the images of those two men locked in his head, Aung decided to fight to save himself and ultimately his family. No one but his wife could know, or he would lose his job and their home on the military base because of the deep fear and discrimination surrounding the disease. Drugs were his only chance to keep the secret.“If I get the medicine, and I can stay in this life longer, I will serve the country more and my family will not be broken,” he says. “My family is invaluable.”At the clinic in Insein, an area of Yangon better known for a notorious prison, Aung, who is using another name to protect his identity, waited nervously for the results of his first blood test. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day As he sits outside a crowded clinic on the outskirts of Myanmar’s biggest city, he knows his body is struggling to fight HIV, tuberculosis and diabetes _ but he can’t help wishing he was sicker.Although Aung is ill enough to qualify for HIV treatment in other poor countries, there’s simply not enough pills to go around in Myanmar. Only the sickest of the sick are lucky enough to go home with a supply of lifesaving medicine here. The others soon learn their fate is ultimately decided by the number of infection-fighting cells found inside the blood samples they give every three months.The World Health Organization recommends treatment start when this all-important CD4 count drops to 350.In Myanmar, it must fall below 150.____Antiretroviral therapy, in the past considered a miracle only available to HIV patients in the West, is no longer scarce in many of the poorest parts of the world. Pills are cheaper and easier to access, and HIV is not the same killer that once left thousands of orphaned children in sub-Saharan Africa.But Myanmar, otherwise known as Burma, remains a special case. Kept in the dark for so many decades by its reclusive ruling junta, this country of 60 million did not reap the same international aid as other needy nations. Heavy economic sanctions levied by countries such as the United States, along with virtually nonexistent government health funding, left an empty hole for medicine and services. Today, Myanmar ranks among the world’s hardest places to get HIV care, and health experts warn it will take years to prop up a broken health system hobbled by decades of neglect. Another room is packed with 20 women stretched out on straw mats crisscrossing the wooden floor. A young mother sobs in one corner as she breast-feeds a 7-day-old baby girl. She did not take HIV drugs until late in her pregnancy, and now must wait up to 18 months to know for sure whether her only child is infected.“The funding is limited for the enormous number of patients,” says newly elected parliament member Phyu Phyu Thin, who founded the center in 2002 and was jailed by the former government for her HIV work. “Waiting to get the medicine under the limits is too risky for many patients because they can only get it when their health is deteriorating.”____Aung looks the part of a soldier with his shaved head and wiry build. He spent the first decade of his 27 years in the military fighting in domestic ethnic wars, away from his wife and two children.It’s this past life that devours him each night when sleep refuses to come. He served as a medic then, and regularly came into contact with the blood of wounded soldiers. He also had sex with other women. The question that haunts him most is, which one is to blame? He’ll never know.He takes sleeping pills every night to be released from these thoughts. But relief does not come, as chills and night sweats drench his body and the constant urge to urinate keeps him running to the toilet. The aid group Doctors Without Borders has tried to take up the slack by providing more than half the HIV drugs being distributed. But every day, physicians at its 23 clinics must make agonizing decisions to turn away patients like Aung, who are desperately ill but still do not qualify for medicine because their CD4 counts are too high.“It’s very difficult to see those kind of situations,” says Kyaw Naing Htun, a young doctor with a K-pop hairstyle and seemingly endless energy, who manages the organization’s busy clinic in Insein. He says about 100 patients who should be on drugs are turned away every month in Yangon alone. “It takes a lot more resources when they come back sicker. It’s a lose-lose game.”____Aung first learned about the virus living inside him in April. He had dropped weight and wasn’t sleeping well, but figured it was the TB and diabetes running him down.When the test came back positive for HIV, he was shocked and scared: How? Why?“I wanted to commit suicide when I found out the results,” he says softly, looking away. “What upset me most was my wife. She says I shouldn’t die now because we have children.”last_img read more

first_img Comments   Share   Hammarskjold’s plane crashed over the African bush in Northern Rhodesia, today’s Zambia. One issue for the panel was whether the DC-6 plane was shot down.Three investigations into the tragedy have failed to satisfactorily settle the matter.Dujarric said Ban is pleased that the panel visited Zambia to meet with new witnesses, and that it gathered new information from member states and other sources including national and private archives in Belgium, Britain and Sweden.The U.N. General Assembly voted unanimously on Dec. 29 to ask Ban to appoint an independent panel to examine. On March 16, he appointed Tanzania’s Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman to chair the panel. Its other members were Kerryn Macaulay, Australia’s representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization, and Henrik Ejrup Larsen, a ballistic expert in the Danish National Police.The assembly’s action followed publication of “Who Killed Hammarskjold?” by Susan Williams in 2011 which set off a renewed round of speculation because it relied on testimony ignored by earlier inquiries. It also followed an independent investigation by a Commission of Jurists released in September 2013 which concluded that “significant new evidence” existed which might shed light on the circumstances of Hammarskjold’s death. It said the U.S. National Security Agency might hold crucial evidence, which remains classified. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies How do cataracts affect your vision? Sponsored Stories UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An independent panel of experts that examined new information about the mysterious 1961 plane crash that killed Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold on a peace mission to newly independent Congo has delivered its report to current U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. said Friday.U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the secretary-general will study the panel’s findings, conclusions and recommendations and release the report, “subject to any considerations of a medical or private nature,” as soon as possible with his own assessment “and options on the way forward.” Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Four benefits of having a wireless security system Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Congo won its freedom from Belgium in 1960, but foreign multinationals coveted its vast mineral wealth.Hammarskjold was flying into a war zone infested with mercenaries and riven by Cold War tensions.The country was facing a Western-backed insurgency in Katanga, which hosted mining interests belonging to the U.S., Britain, and Belgium. The Western countries were jockeying for influence with the Soviet Union, which was trying to spread communism to the newly independent nations of Africa.All four powers had a stake in the outcome of Congo’s struggle, and published reports have pointed fingers at all four as potential suspects in Hammarskjold’s death.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Check your body, save your lifelast_img read more

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Stores, businesses and schools slammed shut across Indian-controlled Kashmir on Wednesday after separatists called a strike to protest a series of assassination-style killings over the past week.Security forces patrolled the streets of the main city, Srinagar, and buses and taxis stayed off the roads. Many government employees also stayed home.Authorities say their initial investigations indicated that rebels killed the four victims, each with a close-range shot to the back of the head. But separatists challenging India’s sovereignty say secret government agencies were behind the killings. The murders occurred in the town of Sopore. Top holiday drink recipes The vital role family plays in society New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   center_img Sponsored Stories Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety. Rebels want the region to merge with Pakistan or to become independent.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. A Kashmiri woman walks through a closed market during a strike in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, June 17, 2015. Kashmiri separatists called for a complete shutdown across Kashmir on Wednesday, to protest the recent killings of civilians by unknown gunmen in the town of Sopore. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan) Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Police also announced a reward of 2 million rupees, or about $31,000, for the capture of two suspects who they say are members of Kashmir’s largest militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen. The group, however, has denounced the killings and blamed the government for the deaths.On Wednesday, Kashmir’s top elected official, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, met with top military, police and intelligence officials to review security in the wake of the killings.Sayeed “expressed concern over the targeted killings of civilians in Sopore and emphasized taking all-out measures to avoid a recurrence of such incidents,” an official statement said.Kashmir has a long history of brutality on both sides. Separatists say the recent murders echo the style of the “Ikhwanis,” the government-sponsored Kashmiri militias that killed hundreds of rebels and activists in the 1990s.The killings began last week when gunmen killed a well-known separatist activist in Sopore. That was followed by the deaths of two former rebels and a separatist sympathizer.Separatists have called for a Friday rally in Sopore.Anti-India feelings run deep in Kashmir, the country’s only majority-Muslim state, where about a dozen rebel groups have been fighting Indian rule since 1989. About 68,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The rebel groups have largely been suppressed by India in recent years, and resistance is now principally through street protests.last_img read more

first_img New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments   Share   3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “We are still searching if there are more bodies because many people were in the market and some are still in their shops,” said police officer Eric Bambue, describing the scene as the worst thing he had ever seen.There were no details about the bombers, but two previous suicide attacks have been carried out by women, a hallmark of the militant group that also uses suicide attacks in Nigeria. Cameroon recently banned women from wearing burka veils after suicide bombers used them to conceal explosives in Fotokol on the border with Nigeria.Hundreds of people were wounded in the crowded market, said local businessman Ousmaila Toukour.“Almost all of the goods sold here are brought in from Nigeria, and it is very likely that the bombs were hidden in the goods,” he said. “I think the market should be closed and searched.”On Monday, residents of Kamouna village, in the same northern region, said 80 members of Boko Haram attacked and killed 23 people at night, including many children.Nigeria-based Boko Haram, which this year became the West African franchise of the Islamic State group, has targeted northern Cameroon repeatedly in retaliation for Cameroon’s participation in a regional military effort against the extremists. Last week, bombs planted at a bar in north Cameroon by suspected Boko Haram fighters killed 14 people. YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — At least 20 bodies have been found in northern Cameroon’s regional capital of Maroua after two suicide bombers blew themselves up on Wednesday in a busy marketplace and a popular neighborhood.Cameroon, which borders Nigeria and has contributed troops to the multinational force fighting the Boko Haram Islamic extremist rebels there, has been repeatedly attacked by the insurgency as recently as Monday. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

first_img WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s respite from accelerating health care costs appears to be over.Spending on health care will outpace the nation’s overall economic growth over the next decade, the government forecast on Tuesday, underscoring a coming challenge for the next president, not to mention taxpayers, businesses and individual Americans.A combination of expanded insurance coverage under President Barack Obama’s law, an aging population, and rising demand, will be squeezing society’s ability to pay. Health care as a share of the nation’s overall economy is projected to grow from 17.4 percent in 2013 to 19.6 percent in 2024, the report says, accounting for nearly $1 of every $5 spent.Growth in the nation’s health care tab slowed dramatically during the 2007-2009 economic recession.Then came several years when health care increases tracked closely with the economy as it started to stir again.As taxpayers, Americans benefited from the slowdown, which reduced projected Medicare costs. But many people saw their own medical bills rise, as employers shifted costs to workers.Things changed in 2014, the report says, with coverage expansion under the new health care law. Some 8.4 million gained coverage that year, and people with health insurance use more medical services and prescriptions than do the uninsured.At the same time, expensive new drugs that can cure hepatitis C are boosting spending on medications. In 2013, prescription drug spending rose by 2.5 percent. For 2014, the projected increase is 12.6 percent, according to the report. Hepatitis C is a viral infection that gradually destroys the liver, afflicting about 3 million Americans.Spending on Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for low-income people, also has jumped. The 2013 increase was 6.1 percent. But the program is projected to have grown by 12 percent in 2014, again boosted by coverage expansion under the health care law. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   How men can have a healthy 2019 New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Medicare, which turns 50 this week, is in the midst of its own quiet overhaul. Increasing numbers of beneficiaries are joining private insurance plans offered through the program. And the Obama administration is trying to revamp the way it pays hospitals and doctors to reward quality results over volume of services. Still, it can take years to develop new payment standards and demonstrate their effectiveness.“If there’s a political implication of this, it’s to find those areas where there are proven or likely cost savings, and aggressively go after them through Medicare,” Mendelson said.The health care spending report was published online by the journal Health Affairs.___Online:Health Affairs: © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center In this photo taken Sept. 1, 2010, Douglas Holtz-Eakin speaks on Capitol Hill Washington. Health care costs appear to be accelerating again, the government says. That poses a challenge for millions of Americans and the next president as health spending looks set to outpace U.S. economic growth the next 10 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)center_img Expanded Medicaid is one of two paths for covering the uninsured under Obama’s law. The other is subsidized private insurance. Spending on private insurance is projected to have grown by 6.1 percent last year, more than double the rate in 2013.The effects of expanded coverage won’t be as dramatic in the years ahead, the report says. Likewise, the spike in drug costs will work its way through the system as government programs and insurers demand rebates from the manufacturers of hepatitis C drugs.But the other big factors pushing spending higher may harder to deal with. An aging population means older and sicker Medicare beneficiaries who will need more services, and more intense medical attention. Also, economic recovery creates demands for higher pay, and hospitals and doctors’ offices are labor-intensive enterprises.Government will become a more dominant player as the federal, state, and local government share of health care rises to 47 percent in 2024, from 43 percent in 2013.There’s no hard-and-fast rule about how much a society should spend on health care. But there’s widespread agreement that the United States wastes too much. Other competing priorities such as education and infrastructure can get short- changed. Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sponsored Stories By 2019, midway through the next president’s term, health care spending will be increasing at roughly 6 percent a year, compared to an average annual rise of 4 percent from 2008 through 2013.The higher rate of increase is still “relatively modest,” says the report from the Office of the Actuary in the Health and Human Services Department. The forecast, through 2024, does not foresee a return to pre-recession days of torrid health care inflation, as the government and private employers try to revamp the way they pay hospitals and doctors to emphasize quality over quantity.Even so, the report is “not great news,” said economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, a center-right think tank.“The main point is that the bill will continue to grow faster than the economy, which is what pays the bill,” he added. “The next president faces the task of reining in the growth of federal entitlement spending.”“I do think this becomes something of a liability for anybody coming into office, and they need to have a very proactive policy to address it,” said Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health, a market analysis and consulting firm. Mendelson served in the Clinton White House as a health policy expert. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

first_imgAs part of its No Leave, No Life initiative, Tourism Australia is urging Australians to make taking a holiday one of their New Year’s resolutions come New Year’s Eve.Australians should take a break in order to rejuvenate and spend quality time with friends and family in the new decade, says Tourism Australia in urging Australians to access their annual leave.“There is certainly a link between not taking leave and having a poor work-family balance,” said Peter Cotton, Health Services Australia Director of Psychology Services,“Not taking leave can often be associated with an increased risk of ‘burnout’ and stress-related problems.”Other suggested new year’s resolutions from Tourism Australia include doing something new, being more organised, being generally more positive, and helping others. <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.Xlast_img read more

first_imgVenues, destinations and hotel chains from all corners of Australia are competing to be crowned the “Home” of Australian Events, with organisers of the Australian Event Awards conducting a nationwide search for a venue to host the Awards for the next three years. The Australian Event Awards is regarded as the pinnacle awards program for the industry. With less than three weeks until bids close, competition is heating up and venues from Ballarat to Brisbane are encouraged to think creatively about how to maximise this unique profile opportunity in the industry. “While all states in Australia enjoy an excellent reputation in staging events, we are looking for one venue, destination or hotel chain to shine in the industry spotlight,” said Jeremy Miller, Executive Producer, Australian Event Awards. “Being regarded as the home of Australian events will allow the successful venue or destination to benefit from major long-term exposure to the key players across the entire events industry. Many are seeing this as an invaluable opportunity and are taking the time to think of innovative strategies to add value for attendees and Award winners.”Partnership with the Australian Event Awards provides the widest exposure to event industry professionals across Australia, including professional event managers and conference organisers, venues, charities, cultural and community festivals, federal state and local government bodies. The Industry Night of Nights on 7 October 2010 will be a glittering occasion with attendees from all facets of the industry, including many potential clients for the successful venue or destination.“We are looking for a venue or destination that can work with us to make the Industry Night of Nights bigger and better each year. Venues will need to have a capacity for 400 – 600 guests, provide quality catering and outstanding service at the event and have technical capacity for an evening of non-stop entertainment.” “Venues and destinations from across Australia are keen to showcase their capability to attract and host events.  Whichever state becomes the successful bidder, this rivalry illustrates the overall strength of the industry.”The Home of Australian Events will be announced in March 2010. For more information about the Australian Event Awards and to download an EOI pack visit 2010 Australian Event Awards is the national awards program to reward innovation, recognise excellence and unite the entire Australian Events Industry. Entries are open to any event staged between 1 July 2009 and 30 June 2010. Want to be the new home of the Australian Event Awards? Download an EOI pack here.Award Entries Open – NOWClosing Date for “New Home” applications – 19 FebruaryAward Entries Close – 26 July 2010Gala Dinner – 7 October 2010 <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = Australian Event Awardslast_img read more

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard The future is looking bright for Travelscene American Express member agents but more work with preferred partners is needed moving forward, according to TSAX management at the launch of the annual Owners-Managers conference in Buenos Aires today. General Manager Jacqui Timmins, sent a clear, direct message to member agents to use preferred partner suppliers or business will stall and halter impending growth for the whole group. “For us to remain competitive and to grow our collective businesses, we need to increase our brand presence in the public domain and we also need to increase our support of our preferred suppliers,” she said. “As a collective group there are further opportunities to grow the amount of preferred product we sell in our network. This is critical for us to grow our footprint in the market and to further strengthen work with our suppliers” “We chose the theme It Takes Two, engaging with our partners and taking full advantage of our business network. It can’t be done alone, it takes two.”Reviewing marketing efforts made by head office in the past year, Ms Timmins said the implementation of individual member Call to Actions in advertising and launching the (Local Area Marketing kit (LAMkit) has been two initiatives proven highly successful with agents. A new Member Benefits Kit will be presented to agents in coming weeks, which include Preferred Partner Relationships for airlines, wholesalers, GDS and Car Rental agreements, with a key goal to increase support of their chosen suppliers.“It is vital that you as Owners and Managers understand and support your preferred suppliers. Every booking, every dollar you give a non preferred supplier has a direct impact on you … the ability for you to grow your product knowledge through training and educationals and to attend conferences such as this one” “The ability for suppliers to provide marketing dollars as well as competitive and exclusive deals such as the recent exclusive early bird advertising. This can all be impacted if you support others that are not part of our range of preferred suppliers,” she said. Ms Timmins said the past 12 months has also been showered with various challenges ranging from Volcanic ash to riots in Bangkok, but the most significant message was the need for travel agents to assist customers during difficult times. “There is a significant difference in the treatment clients received when they booked through a travel agent compared to those who booked online. Online customers didn’t have the great support and advice of an experienced travel consultant,” she said. Following these issues, Travelscene are set to launch a new Client Advocacy campaign focussing on trust and value beating the competition. “Whether this be sourcing the right travel deal, providing Travel Essentials products, maximising spend via programs such as Membership Rewards, or providing assistance and advice if things don’t go according to plan. The knowledge and expertise in our network means that we can provide clients with value and choice.“The campaign will highlight the trust that clients have in their Travelscene American Express agency to be on their side and deliver tailor made travel experiences created for them.”last_img read more

first_img(Back row left to right) Cameron Kerr, Director and Chief Executive, Taronga Conservation Society, Lyndel Gray, Executive Director and General Manager Tourism NSW, Narendra Kumar, Executive Manager QantasLink, and Councillor Alan Smith, Mayor of Dubbo pose in front of the aircraft with QantasLink flight and cabin crew with Taronga zoo handlers and wildlife In an effort to promote regional tourism and educational awareness, QantasLink and Taronga Western Plains Zoo have launched new wildlife aircraft livery for the QantasLink Bombardier Q400. During the official launch, which was held at the Qantas Jet Base at Mascot, guests were also invited to visit ZooMobile, Taronga’s wildlife outreach programme. This offered the opportunity for guests to interact with a variety of Zoo animals that aid educators in teaching communities about the importance of Australian wildlife. “We are excited to see one of our 74-seat Q400 aircraft ready to fly in this special safari livery and even more excited to have the opportunity to take it around Australia and promote the Zoo as one of our great regional destinations” said QantasLink Executive Manager, Narendra Kumar. Ms. Kumar emphasised the fact that QantasLink is embedded in regional Australia and in turn, has a strong understanding of the incredible opportunities, destinations and experiences available across the country. Taronga’s Director and Chief Executive, Cameron Kerr is confident that the “simple, yet intriguing message will travel to communities around Australia.” “By using an aircraft as a flying canvas [it is] an invitation to discover the wonders of wildlife in one of Australia’s premier open range zoos and to do so with the travel convenience of Qantas’ comprehensive regional airline network” he said. The initiative aims at highlighting the Zoo’s conservations efforts while adopting a novel approach to connecting people with the growing opportunities for wildlife tourism in regional Australia. QantasLink operates 50 return services each week between Sydney and Dubbo, providing easyaccess to Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s famous Zoofari Lodge wildlife Safari experience, along withaccess to the Orana region’s many attractions. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T (Left to right) Cameron Kerr, Director and Chief Executive, Taronga Conservation Society, Lyndel Gray, Executive Director and General Manager Tourism NSW, andNarendra Kumar, Executive Manager QantasLink. QantasLink flight and cabin crew pose in front of the special aircraft with Taronga zoo handlers and wildlifeQantasLink flight and cabin crew pose in front of the special aircraft with Taronga zoo handler and wildlife last_img read more

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Business and conference travellers have been urged to consider the Christchurch and Canterbury region for events, with several venues still operational and undamaged.While February’s quake has impacted venues and hotels in the city centre, properties outside the CBD are still capable of hosting large events, according to Christchurch & Canterbury Convention Bureau manager Leonie Ashford.“Conference and exhibition venues outside of the CBD, like CBS Canterbury Arena, Wigram Air Force Museum and Addington Events Centre have come through unscathed and are up and running as normal,” Ms Ashford said.  “That’s fantastic news because it means we can keep the ‘open for business’ sign out and continue to welcome conference groups to the city. “Fly-in, fly-out day conferencing options are already being considered to get around our shortage of hotel accommodation.”Ms Ashford added that properties such as the AMI Stadium which is set to re-open by February next year, are capable of holding up to 800 people while much of Christchurch’s shopping, dining and business district will reopen by October this year.While less than an hour’s drive from Christchurch International Airport locations such as Ashburton and Methven are available for conferences as well as Terrace Downs Resort in the high country and Hanmer Springs alpine resort, located 90 minutes from the airport.    “Christchurch & Canterbury is still a great destination for conference groups,” Ms Ashford added. “We may have to think a bit more inventively in some areas but we can still be great hosts and provide people with all the comforts they need to enjoy their stay.”Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter said while his confidence in the city’s position as a key player in business tourism has not dropped he has acknowledged that for the moment there are limitations. “Our ability to host large conferences will be very much be contingent on the restoration of hotel capacity in the central city,” Mr Hunter said.“Christchurch has always led the way in terms of business tourism in New Zealand and I’m confident it will do so again when our infrastructure, in particular our hotel capacity, is restored.”According to Mr Hunter business tourism contributes up to NZ$100 million per annum to the local economy and the city will continue to work hard to resurrect it. “We are determined to recover and rebuild and to create an even better, stronger, and more vibrant city centre.”last_img read more

first_imgUNWTO and Amadeus join forces to strengthen technology in tourismAmadeus, a leading provider of technology solutions for the tourism sector, and UNWTO are joining forces to advance the use of innovative technology in tourism in areas such as education and multi-modality.UNWTO and Amadeus, a UNWTO Affiliate Member since 2007, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to consolidate their partnership in several areas. This includes the development of a UNWTO Prototype on multi-modality – the door-to-door planning and ticketing of trips involving all possible transport options – to further integrate different means of transport between destinations around the world.“Innovative technological solutions are fundamental for the tourism sector’s competitiveness and ability to create jobs and inclusive development worldwide. UNWTO is looking forward to working even closer with Amadeus, a highly valued Affiliate Member and key player in this field, to strengthen the ties between tourism and technology”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.”It gives me great satisfaction to strengthen our relationship and build upon our respective areas of expertise: technology and tourism. Amadeus is committed to strengthening the sustainability of the travel and tourism sector and already has many initiatives in two of the key agreed priorities, tourism education and innovation in technology.  We look forward to amplifying these through the network of UNWTO affiliates and its events to shape the future of travel”, commented Tomás López Fernebrand, Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary of Amadeus IT Group.UNWTO and Amadeus will also collaborate on issues of sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility and education through the participation of Amadeus in the UNWTO Talent Development in Tourism pilot project and in various UNWTO capacity building initiatives. UNWTO Source = Amadeuslast_img read more

first_imgFrontliners Forum 2015 empowers helloworld consultantshelloworld’s commitment to driving leadership, growth and excellence has paid off at the helloworld Frontliners Forum 2015 with strong agent and supplier support for the theme of leadership, networking, learning and professional development.A record 505 delegates made the most of a jam-packed weekend with informative sessions, workshops, presentations and business updates. Frontliners culminated with the Gala Awards Dinner which acknowledged high achievers across the helloworld network. Winners across the Branded and Associate networks are:BRANDEDHero Award – Andy Barton, helloworld Surrey Hills VIC & Rhonda Sunderland, helloworld TorontoSpecial Recognition Award – Sarah Anne Bignall, helloworld Belmont WARookie of the Year – Stephanie Laucht, helloworld Scone NSWConsultant Team Spirit Award – Kelsey Farmer, helloworld Ellenbrook WAConsultant Pursuit of Knowledge Award – Renee Lambert, helloworld Thornton NSWTop Revenue – Jayne Walsh, helloworld Darwin NTASSOCIATE:Associate Recognition Award – Nicholas Dann, Cruise Travel Centre NSWAssociate Customer Service Hero Award – Clare O’Neill, Phil Hoffmann Travel SAAssociate Top Sales Award – Angela Kaluzyn, Skilled Travel NSWAssociate Rising Star Award – Libby Mullavey, Temora Travel NSW“A huge congratulations to all our award winners and high achievers. You were up against some very high calibre competition and deserve your success,” helloworld CEO Elizabeth Gaines said.“In just 12 months from launch our brand awareness has more than tripled amongst our target audience with more than 1 in 3 knowing who we are and what we stand for and much of that is due to the work of our frontline consultants in successfully showcasing the helloworld advantage.”“Frontliners is our opportunity to update our consultants on our investment in future-proofing them through technology, training, product and profile to help them continue to deliver excellent customer service and boost productivity. The Helloworld vision is Creating the future of travel with each journey and we continue to deliver innovations to help our consultants shine.”Frontliners is also a chance to celebrate our partnerships with the very best in the business and to reinforce with our consultants the many benefits that flow from their support of our preferred suppliers.”Among the initiatives launched at Frontliners:in-App Booking commission: helloworld consultants will now earn commission on a majority of flight, hotel and car hire bookings made via the helloworld iOS and Android app.helloworld scholarSHIP: Created in partnership with CLIA, the “new to cruise” six month modular program will boost our consultants’ capacity to tap into this rapidly expanding market.helloworld business technology: helloworld’s proprietary platform delivers rich content, multiple quotes, itineraries, transparent commissions and integrated travel planning via a single system.David Padman, Head of Associate and Affiliate Networks updated delegates on the significant progress across the network in entrenching a leadership position while Julie Primmer, Head of Branded Network provided analysis of the rapidly changing consumer landscape and the strategies which helloworld is deploying to harness the opportunities. helloworldSource = helloworldlast_img read more

first_imgEmirates will remain shirt sponsors for Arsenal until the end of the 2023-2024 seasonEmirates and Arsenal renew sponsorship dealEmirates to remain shirt sponsors of Arsenal to the end of the 2023-2024 seasonEmirates Stadium naming rights already signed to 2028Emirates, the world’s largest international airline, and Arsenal Football Club, have today announced a new sponsorship deal. The sponsorship, the largest ever signed by the club and one of the biggest ever agreed in football, grants the airline a 5-year extension to their shirt partnership with the Club until the end of the 2023-2024 season.The new sponsorship agreement, strengthens one of the most recognisable and respected partnerships in sport. The agreement was formally finalised today by Arsenal Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis and Emirates President, Sir Tim Clark.Mr Gazidis said: “Our shirt partnership is the longest running in the Premier League and one of the longest relationships in world sport. This mutual commitment is testimony to the strength and depth of our unique relationship. Emirates are again demonstrating their great belief in our approach and ambition and their significantly increased investment will help us continue to compete for trophies and bring more success to the club and our fans around the world.”“Emirates is a great partner for Arsenal – a world class brand with a truly global reach. The airline plays a significant role in our ambitions to extend our influence and following around the world. The new deal, extending our shirt partnership until 2024, underlines how much both organisations value and benefit from the relationship.”In addition to being shirt sponsors, with the Emirates brand continuing to appear on Arsenal’s playing and training kits, Emirates will provide access to their award winning planes for Arsenal to use on preseason tours. Emirates will retain marketing rights to develop campaigns and initiatives around the world. Arsenal’s home will continue to be known as Emirates Stadium up to 2028, as part of theextension agreed in 2012.Emirates’ shirt partnership began in the 2006/2007 season, and this extension means that Emirates branding will remain on the shirt of all Arsenal teams for at least 18 years.Emirates President, Sir Tim Clark, said: “Arsenal’s strong appeal and influence around the globe, combined with their ambitions as a Club makes them an ideal partner for Emirates, with values that reflect ours as a brand. As a long-standing supporter of football, we are passionate about the game and are a proud partner to the team.”“As a business, we are hugely committed to supporting sports all over the world and our relationship with Arsenal is no different. Our partnership with Arsenal Football Club is a great combination of two truly global brands and we’re very pleased to have extended this relationship for five more years – connecting fans from around the world with one of the greatest teams in the world.”Aside from partnerships with some of the biggest clubs in European football, Emirates is the Official Airline of international sporting events across golf, tennis, rugby, cricket, horse racing and motorsports.Source = Emirateslast_img read more

first_imgRaising its profile as an all-weather tourism hotspot, Kerala rolled out a high-voltage ‘Visit Kerala 2015’ campaign with an array of innovative programmes, ranging from Ayurveda to adventure trips, from destination weddings to heritage tourism, from food festivals to quiz competitions.Unfolding the initiatives in the national capital, Kerala Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar said the major focus of the campaign is to strengthen the promotion of tourism products that are unique to the state, such as Ayurveda, Responsible Tourism and Spice Route – Muziris heritage.“Plans are underway to host a tourism industrial meet to promote Responsible Tourism and encourage the participation of local communities in the tourism sector,” he said, adding, “the meet will provide guidance to people on setting up home stays and villas with investments on a small scale.”As part of the campaign to showcase the state’s alluring destinations and products that justify its moniker as God’s Own Country’, Kerala Tourism will foray into new markets in China and Sri Lanka through trade fairs, roadshows and familiarisation tours. In addition, it will launch aggressive campaigns in traditional markets like UK, France and Germany to woo potential travellers by holding trade fairs and roadshows. Consumer fairs and familiarisation trips will be introduced in upcoming markets like the U.S.“For Kerala, domestic tourism is equally important in our strategy. We are planning a major offseason promotional blitz in the country to counter seasonality in arrivals and make Kerala an all-weather destination,” he pointed out.‘Visit Kerala 2015’ will also promote Kerala Tourism products like cultural festivals, weddings, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE). It will also showcase the Spice Route and Muziris heritage through an international campaign to promote heritage tourism in the state.Kerala Tourism Secretary G Kamala Vardhana Rao said a comprehensive calendar of festivals and events would be prepared and promoted through multiple channels, including India tourism offices and Indian embassies abroad. Kerala will be promoted as a major ‘Wedding and MICE destination’ through online campaigns. The tourism department will also prepare wedding venue databases. In addition, adventure and cycling holidays will be promoted to attract youths and students.To create a destination pull, food festivals will be held in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad to market Kerala’s authentic cuisine, one of the tourist attractions in the state.Highlighting the importance of Responsible Tourism, Kerala Tourism Director P I Sheik Pareeth said a ‘God’s Own Country, People’s Own Tourism’ campaign would be conducted across the state to sensitise local communities to tourism and its opportunities.As part of the destination development initiative, Kerala will embark on industry-driven cleanliness campaign in major destinations in the state. A hop-on hop-off bus will also be introduced in Thiruvananthapuram to enable the tourists go around the city with a single ticket.last_img read more

first_imgIn a bid to make Himachal Pradesh a major tourist attraction, the Union government has sanctioned INR 1,800 crore for tourism development purposes in the state, CM Jai Ram Thakur confirmed recently.The CM was addressing the public at Garagushaini in Kullu district after laying the foundation stone for the Science Lab block of the Government Senior Secondary School. He remarked that efforts would be made to develop lesser known and unexplored tourism destination from the tourism point of view.He asserted that Garagushaini area would be developed from eco-tourism point of view. Jai Ram said helicopter services between Shimla and Chandigarh are being operated thrice a week to facilitate tourists. He said the government has also provided INR 5 crore for Degree College Garaguisaini.Forest and Transport Minister Govind Thakur said the state government was endeavouring to make Himachal Pradesh a favourite tourist destination of the country by exploring and exploiting its immense tourism potential judiciously with minimum impact on the environment.last_img read more

first_img July 25, 2011 441 Views “”Fifth Third Bancorp””: had a great spring season, judging by the company’s scorching second quarter numbers. The bank estimates its quarterly results were the best on record since 2007, and the dramatic, 58 percent increase in mortgage banking revenue between the first and second quarters of this year contributed heavily to the company’s recent success. [IMAGE]Total net income during Fifth Third’s second quarter was $337 million, demonstrating a significant rise quarter-over-quarter, with correlating 2010 net income standing at $192 million during the same period one year ago. The company’s mortgage banking net numbers rose 42 percent quarter-over-quarter.Originations during the second quarter stood at $3.1 billion, down from $3.9 billion in the previous quarter, and representing a very slight quarter-over-quarter increase from $3.8 billion during the same quarter last year. [COLUMN_BREAK]Origination gains during the second quarter totaled $64 million, and the gain on sale margins rose between the first and second quarters, which is attributed to the lower interest rates during the period.Of the positive second quarter statistics, Fifth Third’s president and CEO Kevin T. Kabat, said, “”Bottom-line results ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬ª drove strong returns – a 1.2 percent return on assets, a 14 percent return on average tangible common equity, and a 4 percent unannualized sequential growth in tangible book value per share.””Other factors contributing to Fifth Third’s strong second quarter include the amortization of mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) and MSR valuation alterations. Servicing asset adjustments were up $40 million during the quarter, improving from a negative $18 million during the first quarter, boosted by MSR amortization of $25 million and valuation changes of positive $10 million. Fifth Third’s total mortgage-servicing component was valued at $847 million to end the quarter, and its servicing portfolio stood at $56 billion.Fifth Third’s mortgage servicing fees remain static, ringing in at $58 million during both the first and second quarters, which demonstrates a slight improvement quarter-over-quarter from $54 million in 2010. Continuing his comments, Kabat noted, “”Fifth Third’s second quarter results were strong and reflected continued improvement in credit trends. Bottom-line results were the best Fifth Third has generated since 2007.”” in Data, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Mortgage Numbers Up for Fifth Thirdcenter_img Agents & Brokers Company News Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Service Providers Valuation 2011-07-25 Abby Gregory Sharelast_img read more

first_img Agents & Brokers Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Investment Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2011-08-08 Ryan Schuette in Data, Government, Origination, Servicing Share Freddie,Markets Shake with GSE, Home Loan Bank Downgradescenter_img August 8, 2011 448 Views “”Standard & Poor’s””: sent markets into a tailspin Monday when it downgraded credit ratings on debt for mortgage giants “”Fannie Mae””: and “”Freddie Mac””:, citing majority ownership by the federal government, whose own ratings the agency pulled down to AA+. Showing no remorse, the ratings agency also downgraded debt ratings for 10 Federal Home Loan Banks across the country. [IMAGE]Chad Wandler, a spokesperson for Freddie Mac, declined to comment for the story. Representatives for neither S&P nor Fannie Mae could be immediately reached for comment.Declines in credit ratings for Fannie and Freddie rolled forward as a result of S&P’s decision to place U.S. Treasury debt on negative review. Any decision on sovereign debt immediately impacts the GSEs, which have functioned under federal conservatorship since the government spent $170 million to bailout the companies in September 2008.The GSE downgrades could offer up a new wave of concerns for mortgage markets, with a “”_Wall Street Journal_””: story saying the mortgage giants back about nine in 10 loans around the country. Public officials offered mixed reactions to both news about the U.S. debt and GSE downgrades.President Barack Obama appeared at a press conference Monday to reassure jittery Americans, investors, and market watchers. “”The markets continue to reaffirm our credit as among the world’s safest,”” he said. “”Our problems are imminently solvable. And we know what we have to do to solve them.””[COLUMN_BREAK]Reacting to the news, Sen. Jim DeMint “”tweeted””: that the “”Fannie & Freddie downgrade isn’t surprising, they’ve relied on over $160 billion in endless taxpayer bailouts,”” according to “”_The Hill_””: “”Time to break up the mortgage giants & privatize them,”” he added. “”Forcing taxpayers to prop them up hasn’t solved crisis; it has prolonged it.””Celia Chen, senior research director and housing specialist with fellow ratings agency “”Moody’s Analytics””:, downplayed the GSE downgrade by calling it a “”downside risk to the outlook.””””The downgrade of U.S. Treasurys [sic] could result in a downgrade of debt institutions that rely on the federal government as a backstop,”” she says. “”This would raise the cost of borrowing for the GSEs, but the increase would be small, a few basis points at most.””After issuing downgrades for the GSEs, S&P went after 10 Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs), institutions with reportedly over $809 billion in assets and $551 billion in outstanding bonds, according to “”_Bloomberg News_””:””The FHLB system is classified as being almost certain to receive government support if necessary,”” the news service reported S&P as saying. Other economists revealed that the stress is more likely to sweep the markets as a result of the debt downgrades in general.””The downgrade comes at a time when the financial markets and advanced economies are already very fragile,”” says Paul Dales, a senior U.S. economist with “”Capital Economics””: “”A lower credit rating is likely to mean higher borrowing costs and a lower dollar only if other things are equal.””The dual downgrades represented a vote of no confidence by S&P that helped create selloff frenzy on Wall Street and sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average into a 630-point downward spiral on Monday – the worst since the 2008 financial crisis, according to “”CNNMoney””: read more

first_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bankrate Freddie Mac Inflation Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Processing Service Providers 2013-01-17 Tory Barringer Share January 17, 2013 454 Views Mortgage rates were either flat or markedly down this week, depending on who you ask.””Freddie Mac’s””: Primary Mortgage Market Survey registered little motion among rates for the week ending January 17. The average 30-year fixed rate slipped to 3.38 percent (0.7 point), down from 3.40 percent last week.[IMAGE]The 15-year fixed rate averaged 2.66 percent (0.7 point), the same as in the previous week’s survey. The 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) also stood still, hanging at 2.67 percent (0.6 point).Meanwhile, the 1-year ARM moved the most, sliding down to 2.57 percent (0.4 point) from 2.60 percent.””Mortgage rates were flat to down a little this week amid reports that inflation remains contained,”” said Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist at Freddie Mac. “”The overall producer price index rose 0.1 percent between November and December, below the market consensus [COLUMN_BREAK]forecast, and the consumer price index was unchanged. For the year as a whole, consumer prices rose just 1.7 percent in 2012, almost half that of 2011’s increase of 3.0 percent.””””””:, on the other hand, reported more extreme shifts as markets grow increasingly nervous about the country’s continued financial uncertainties. According to Bankrate’s weekly survey, the 30-year fixed average took a major dive, falling seven basis points to 3.60 percent. The 15-year fixed also dropped, ending the week at 2.89 percent (from 2.92 percent previously).The 5/1 ARM saw its own decline, slipping to 2.74 percent from 2.77 percent in the last survey.””The glow of the fiscal cliff deal is beginning to wear off, with mortgage rates now sliding back after a run-up to start the year. Although recent economic data has been pretty positive, the pace of the decline in bond yields and mortgage rates will likely pick up as nervousness about the debt ceiling debate increases,”” Bankrate said in a release.While some “”analysts surveyed””: say the severity of the debt ceiling issue is enough to drive rates down further, 54 percent of those who talked to Bankrate expect little change in the next week.””Through the ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├ï┼ôfiscal cliff’ and debt ceiling shenanigans, the Federal Reserve has managed to keep mortgage rates fairly steady. I draw two inferences from that: One, mortgage rates are where the Fed wants them. Two, the Fed is good at keeping mortgage rates where it wants them,”” said Holden Lewis, assistant managing editor for Bankrate.center_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Contained Inflation, Debt Ceiling Woes Nudge Rates Downlast_img read more

first_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Movers & Shakers Processing Service Providers 2014-01-06 Tory Barringer in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing January 6, 2014 392 Views Sharecenter_img New,Genworth Names New Chief Risk Officer In Virginia, “”Genworth Financial, Inc.””:, announced the hiring of Lori M. Evangel as EVP and chief risk officer.[IMAGE][COLUMN_BREAK]Evangel joins Genworth from Aflac, where she served as managing director and chief risk officer for Global Developments, positions that saw her working to develop the company’s investment division risk management function. Prior to that, she was SVP and enterprise risk officer for MetLife.””Managing risk is one of our core capabilities as an insurer, to enable us to meet our policyholder obligations while building value for our shareholders,”” said Genworth president and CEO Tom McInerney. “”Lori’s extensive experience with creating, implementing, and leading global risk management systems will be integral to our broader, more comprehensive view of risk management across the enterprise to support the continued progress of Genworth.””Michel Perreault, the company’s former chief risk officer, will remain on as chief risk officer of the US Life Insurance Division, Genworth announced.last_img read more

first_img in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, News, Origination July 30, 2014 489 Views After fizzling out over the past several quarters, the post-recession refinance boom officially ended in the quarter, according to data from Freddie Mac.The mortgage behemoth released on Tuesday the results of its quarterly refinance analysis for Q2, showing that refinancing fell in the last three months to below 50 percent of total mortgage activity as rising interest rates have stifled demand.In the past six years since the boom first kicked off, Freddie Mac estimates more than 25 million American borrowers have refinanced their loans, resulting in savings of more than $70 billion in interest payments.At the same time, those years also saw only $215 billion in home equity cash-outs. For reference, cash-out refinance volume peaked at $86 billion in the second quarter of 2006 alone.”Even with recent home price gains and rock-bottom interest rates, American households are not cashing out equity at rates we’ve seen historically,” said Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist at Freddie Mac, adding that recent low volumes reflect “how much equity was lost during the Great Recession.”In just the latest quarter, an estimated $7.8 billion in net home equity was cashed out during refinances of conventional prime-credit home mortgages, up from a revised $5 billion in the first quarter.Out of those who refinanced last quarter, Freddie Mac reports the average interest rate reduction was about 1.4 percentage points, or a savings of about 24 percent.Those who refinanced through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) cut their interest rates by an average 1.6 percentage points.Altogether, the company estimates borrowers who refinanced last quarter will save more than $1 billion in interest payments over the coming year.Freddie Mac also reported that 40 percent of refinancers last quarter chose to shorten their loan term, approximately the same share as the prior quarter and the highest share since 1992.”Regardless of the minimal level of cash-out refinance activity, when we couple it with lower mortgage rates and shorter terms homeowners have taken out through refinance over the past couple years, they have accelerated principal pay down and contributed to the rebound in home-equity accumulation,” Nothaft said. Freddie Mac Home Equity Mortgage Rates Refinance 2014-07-30 Tory Barringercenter_img Refinancing Falls Further; Cash-Outs Tick Up Sharelast_img read more