Finance Minister Michael Baker announced today, March 21, that he will be taking intermittent time off from his duties to continue treatment for cancer that was first diagnosed last year. He intends to bring down the provincial budget on Friday, March 23, and continue in his role as finance minister and as the MLA for the constituency of Lunenburg. “Cancer is a serious illness that affects so many of our families. I ask for the understanding of members of the House, and all Nova Scotians, that I will not be able to attend the House as much as I might wish in the coming weeks,” said Mr. Baker. Mr. Baker underwent surgery last year just after delivering Nova Scotia’s 2006-07 budget. The surgery was to remove a tumour caused by a form of skin cancer. -30-
It is common for wildfires to occur in dry seasons, Brazil is no exception, nor is burning parts of forest a practice. But the flaming rain forests of Amazonia tell a grave story this time, one that has repercussions on the entire planet at large and its climate. In Brazil, forest fires are deliberately started in efforts to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching. Dry season only provides favourable conditions for the rapid spread of fire. These man-made fires in the world’s largest rainforest are of the intensity that the smokes have not only enveloped the region and blocked out sunlight but have even wafted thousands of miles away to the Atlantic coast. Amid concerns over this deliberate destruction of the environment that houses a biodiversity hotspot, there is also the question of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s policies for his largely anti-environment stance and the damaging impact it is showing. The rainforest has been ablaze for the past several days at an alarming rate for both governments and environmentalists alike across the world. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research has reported that forest fires in the region have doubled since 2013 and have increased by 84 per cent compared to the same period last year. This year alone, there have been 72,843 fires and more than 9,500 of those have happened over the past few days. It is widely attributed to the Bolsonaro government’s anti-environment rhetoric that farmers are emboldened to organised a ‘fire day’ along BR-163, a highway that runs through the heart of the rainforest. With this as a method, the farmers also set ablaze forests to get the government’s attention to clear pastures for their livestock. The climate of that region is not extreme dry, the kind to make a fire break out on its own, but dry enough to spread fast after it is induced by humans, whether accidentally or deliberately. The Amazon fires, as a result, have taken on such a huge proportion that they are visible from space. NASA released images on August 11 showing the expanse of the spread of fires and reported that its satellites had detected heightened fire activity in July and August. There have been more than twice as many fires in Brazil this year as there were over the same period in 2013. French President Emmanuel Macron being vocal on the issue said the fires in the Amazon are an “international crisis” and called for this matter to be top on the agenda at the G7 summit. “Our house is burning. Literally,” He expressed through a tweet. Obviously, this prompted a furious response from the Brazilian leadership. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is a right-wing nationalist who bristles at the idea of foreign interference in the Brazilian Amazon, took exception to his French counterpart’s comments and responded by accusing Macron of using this matter for personal political mileage. He went on to say that calls to discuss the fires at G7 summit in Biarritz, in which Brazil is not participating, evoke “a misplaced colonialist mindset”. Also Read – A compounding difficultyThe Amazonian rainforest is a repository of rich biodiversity and is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. It produces one-fifth of the world’s oxygen and about 20 per cent of its freshwater, as per a World Wide Fund for Nature estimate. It is also home to about three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous communities whose lives and homelands are under threat given the persistent encroachment by the Brazil government, local farmers, foreign corporations, and other governments with economic interests in the resource-rich region. Satellite data published by the INPE have shown an increase of 85 per cent this year in fires across Brazil, most of them in the Amazon region. Conservationists are together in holding Bolsonaro’s government responsible for Amazon’s plight, explaining that his policies have encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land at the cost of the environment. The French President and host of the G7 summit of some of the world’s most advanced economies, has emphasised and reiterated that the health of the Amazon was a matter of international concern. The Brazilian President said in response that he was open to dialogue about the fires if it was “based on objective data and mutual respect”, but hit out at the calls for it to be discussed at the G7 summit. In a 2017 study, the University of Leeds found that carbon intake by the Amazon basin matches the emissions released by nations in the basin. The burning of forests, therefore, implies additional carbon emissions. Subsequent research suggests that further deforestation could lead to the Amazon’s transformation from the world’s largest rainforest to a savanna and this would reverse the region’s ecology, and in turn, making a near-irreversible impact on human lives in general. The rain produced by the Amazon travels through the region to the Andes mountain range. Moisture from the Atlantic falls on the rainforest, and eventually evaporates back into the atmosphere. It is established that Amazon rainforest has the ability to produce at least half of the rain it receives. This cycle is a delicate balance with impact on all the major parts of the world. There is a very urgent need to heed this balance. In a consolidated international effort, Norway and Germany have withdrawn funding for programmes that seek to stop deforestation in the Amazon and have accused Brazil of doing little to protect the forests. The example of burning Amazon explains in painful ways how the environment of a region does not belong exclusively to the region and that global climate demands combined efforts from nations.
OTTAWA, O.N. — Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer has issued a statement criticizing new firearms regulations announced by the federal government on Tuesday.Bill C-71 was introduced in the House of Commons on Tuesday by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. If it passes, the legislation would expand the scope of background checks on gun license applicants to cover their entire life, instead of just the past five years.Other new rules in the legislation would require commercial gun retailers to keep “ledgers” of gun inventories and sales for a period of 20 years, though private gun sellers would be exempt. Those ledgers would be able to be accessed by police after obtaining a warrant, something that federal authorities in the United States don’t need. Anyone purchasing a gun both privately and commercially would also be required to present a valid firearms license before the sale is made. The proposed legislation would roll back some automatic authorizations to transport restricted and prohibited firearms, such as handguns and assault weapons. Under the bill, owners wouldn’t need a permit to take them to a shooting range or home from a store, but would need to apply for a transport permit to take them to a gun show or a gunsmith.The bill would also restore the authority of RCMP experts to say which firearms would be classified as restricted or prohibited.The federal government says the legislation was introduced to combat firearms-related crime that has increased in recent years. There were 2,465 criminal violations involving firearms in 2016, an increase of 30 percent since 2013. Gun homicides rose from 134 to 223 during that timeframe.Zimmer said in a statement today that the proposed legislation contains too much red tape, and treats law-abiding gun owners like criminals.“As I have said before, I support the idea of more vigorous background checks. However, the legislation introduced this week does little to make our communities safer. Keeping firearms out of the hands of violent criminals should be the number one priority in any new firearms legislation. This bill falls well short of that and instead is treating law-abiding firearms owners like criminals by creating needless red tape.This legislation is not only a backdoor attempt at a wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry, it also re-establishes a front door registry by handing data that was supposed to be destroyed over to the Quebec government.It is clear that this government does not believe the rights of law-abiding firearms owners should be protected. As a firearms owner myself, I will continue to push for common sense legislation that focuses on the criminal element behind firearms violence, instead of targeting Canada’s law-abiding outdoor community.”
At a press briefing in Geneva, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the number of people returning from Iran has just passed 600,000. The agency said the number returning from Pakistan topped 1.9 million today.Spokesman Kris Janowski said most refugees returned to central and northern Afghanistan, but that about a quarter of them remained in the country’s west, which borders Iran. UNHCR estimates about 1.1 million refugees remain in camps inside Pakistan, and another 1 million live in Iran.UNHCR’s representative in Pakistan, Hasim Utkan, described the current period as “especially rewarding” given the volume of refugees who left Afghanistan for Pakistan since 1979. “This has been a tremendously exciting time to be here,” he said.The pace of returning refugees has slowed down, as UNHCR expected, with the imminent arrival of winter in Afghanistan. The agency supplies returning refugees with transport, a travel grant, food, relief items and the opportunity to take part in a shelter programme.UNHCR organized the repatriation scheme in concert with the Governments of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, and it ends in 2005.
OSU redshirt-sophomore Michael Thomas (3) celebrates with teammates (from left) Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall and Curtis Samuel after a touchdown during a game against Virginia Tech on Sept. 6 at Ohio Stadium. OSU lost, 35-21.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorThe Ohio State football team is trying to avoid starting 0-2 at home for the first time since 1967.On paper, it doesn’t look like that will be a problem.The Kent State Golden Flashes roll into Columbus tagged with a 0-2 record, with those losses coming against Ohio University and the University of South Alabama, both at home.While focused on his team, OSU coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday he knows what it is like to be in Kent State’s shoes.“Those kids are going to be a hungry group coming in here because this is their chance to play in front of 110,000 people,” he said. “I have been in that locker room when we (Bowling Green) went down to Missouri and won that game. You are going to see a hungry group trying to get a win.”The third-year OSU coach held the same position at Bowling Green from 2001-02.Meyer added that although Kent State has yet to win a game, he expects the Golden Flashes to test the Buckeyes.“I see a very good MAC school — I have been there before when I was at Bowling Green,” Meyer said. “I see a quarterback who can make plays, that is our biggest concern on defense. I see guys that run around and hit you on defense.”The Kent State quarterback Colin Reardon has been the impact player for the Golden Flashes, averaging 244.5 total yards per game — a figure that leads the team.The Golden Flashes will likely lean heavily on their passing game as they rank 120th out of 124 teams in rushing offense, averaging just 47.5 yards per game on the ground.Despite the Golden Flashes’ lack of a run game, OSU senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said his No. 1 goal remains stopping the Kent State rushing attack.“We are going to make sure we shut down the run early,” Bennett said. “You got to shut down at least one aspect of their offense because they have so many different plays they can run.”Another key for the Buckeye defense will be simply getting off the field, something it struggled to do last week, giving up nine of 17 third down conversions to the Virginia Tech offense.“If you win first down, it makes second and third down a lot more tricky for the offensive coordinator,” Bennett said. “This week, you see stuff you can work on and you work on it. We get our pass rush better, we get our coverage better, and everyone comes together.”Offensively, Meyer said the key to the Buckeyes’ success will be getting off to a faster start than they have to begin the season. OSU has trailed at the half in both of its first two games.“We had a pretty good reputation for a while there of coming out of the gates real fast, real hard and we haven’t done that yet,” Meyer said. “I did some research on that, it was brought to my attention a while back and we haven’t. So we got to go take the lead and play Ohio State-style football. We’re not going to secret handshake or (give out) T-shirts. Finish the game. You got to do it, and we haven’t done it.”OSU football under Meyer during his first two years in Columbus usually meant running the football effectively as the Buckeyes ranked fifth in the nation last year (308.6 yards per game) and 10th in 2012 (242.3 yards per game).Two games into the 2014 season, the Buckeyes rank 81st in the country in total rushing yards, averaging just 151 yards per game.Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliot said the lack of a running game is because of the unusual style of defense that Virginia Tech ran against the Buckeyes last week, but added that OSU has been preparing against a similar defense to the Hokies’ in practice.“We have been practicing against that ‘bear no deep’ (defense) when you got eight guys in the box,” Elliot said. “We got a couple of answers for it.”The Buckeyes, who have lost three of their last four games dating back to the 2013-14 season, have only lost to a MAC team once, boasting a 29-1 record, the only loss coming against Akron, 12-6, in 1894.Redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas said that he, along with the rest of his teammates, are looking forward to redeeming the loss this week against Kent State.“It seems like it has been the longest week ever,” Thomas said. “We are just waiting to get back in the ‘Shoe and make Buckeye Nation proud.”The Buckeyes are scheduled to kickoff Saturday at noon against Kent State at Ohio Stadium.
Stay on target Syfy really wants you to know that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon produced their new TV series. It’s difficult to tell if their involvement had any effect on it’s quality, but Incorporated turned in a fine first episode regardless of who was involved. As with a lot of high-concept science fiction shows, we open with some text explaining the world we’re to inhabit for the next 40 minutes. In the future, environmental disasters have caused governments to fall, and large corporations have taken their place. People who work for the corporations are taken care of and live in Green Zones; others live on whatever they can in the Red Zones. Oh, and the corporations are at war with each other over what remains of the Earth’s natural resources.As the show begins for real, we see just how bad a shape the world is in. A Category Five hurricane is brewing, Canada is building a fence to stop U.S. citizens from immigrating illegally (ha), and there’s been a bombing in Jakarta. We follow Ben, a manager at the Spiga Corporation, a powerful biotech company that makes drought-resistant seeds among other inventions. He works for his wife’s estranged mother, which is exactly as awkward as you’d think it is. He takes a self-driving car to work, and there’s a cool moment where the green pastoral scenery is revealed to be a projection, hiding the harsher reality from the rich.One of the more plausible versions of the future on TV. (Photo: Screenshot via Syfy)As the episode goes on, we find out that Ben isn’t who he says he is. His real name is Aaron, and he’s working undercover for a powerful figure in the Red Zones. He’s infiltrated Spiga to search for Iliana, a friend’s sister who’s been sold as a sex slave to one of Spiga’s executive’s clubs. Ben/Aaron makes it his mission to become an executive and rescue her. The problem is the higher up he gets promoted, the more scrutiny is on him.It’s an interesting premise, and the world is well-realized. One thing I appreciate is that the technology is all extrapolated from what we currently have and the characters act like they’ve had it for years. They relax in self-driving cars while videos play on the windshield. There is a literal divide between rich and poor, though the rich can visit the Red Zones and indulge in a bit of class tourism as they get drunk and high. It’s like a Black Mirror episode extrapolated out into a full series, only slightly less bleak and depressing.The acting is not great, but it’s on par with what you’d expect from a Canada-United States Syfy collaboration. The world is interesting enough that I’m intrigued to see it explored more as the series goes on. The 45-minute pilot makes me miss the days of Syfy’s shows kicking off with 90-minute TV movies. Shows like Warehouse 13 and Eureka were given enough time to introduce the world, the characters, and tell a compelling story that set up a formula for episodes to come. Here, we have the characters and the world, but the story didn’t have time to shine.Julian (Dennis Haysbert) explains what happens when you betray the company. (Photo via Syfy)At this point, our main character has a relatively simple goal, and the stakes are small and personal. No doubt as Ben rises higher in the company; he’ll discover some unsavory things about Spiga and work to stop it somehow, but that’s just me speculating. As of right now, there’s no indication of where the story is going and no promise that it will grow in any direction, other than knowing how TV dramas work. There is some interesting tension between Aaron’s commitment to his mission and the fact that he really likes his life as Ben. It looks like, as much as he loves Iliana, he’s also fallen for his Green Zone wife, Laura. The show has potential, but it’s hard to see whether it’ll capitalize on it or not.I’m always happy when Syfy produces, you know, actual science fiction and Incorporated is off to a decent start. The characters aren’t as immediately charming as in some of Syfy’s other series, but in science fiction, a good premise counts for a lot. The promise of futuristic corporate espionage and war is exciting and the threat of “the quiet room” will boost the tension a bit. We’ll have to wait and see if the series has legs, but it’s off to a pretty good start. Syfy Axes ‘Krypton’ Superhero Series After 2 SeasonsRevisiting ‘Passions,’ the Craziest Soap Opera Ever
Vancouver police are asking the public’s help in finding a missing 14-year-old girl. Katelyn Straup has been missing since 11 p.m. Monday from her east Vancouver home in the 14000 block of Northeast Keyes Court in the North Hearthwood neighborhood. The teen was last seen in the area of Northeast 138th Avenue and Northeast 18th Street with a small white-and-caramel poodle named Sugar. Straup is described as 5 foot 5 inches tall and 130 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone who sees her or has any information about her whereabouts is asked to call 911.
I want to mention to you nonweather geeks who do not eat and sleep computer models that we might get a major Arctic blast right after the holiday weekend. This would be very cold and of long duration. This past week’s chill was only a tease.Before you hear widespread rumors of cold and snow heading our way from the TV and media meteorologists, I wanted to give you a heads-up before the rush to tire stores, TV crews setting up on overpasses and food totally disappears from grocery shelves.I did not mention this in Sunday’s column for conservative reasons although some long-range models have been quietly hinting for a while now. Thanksgiving holiday looks mostly dry with seasonal temperatures depending on wind and cloud cover. The changes begin over the weekend with moisture heading our way prior to any cold air.As I mention often in the weather realm, nothing is certain this far out but forecast models are being consistent in a major change with plenty of cold air not that far away to our north. It always pays to be prepared.Bottom line: periods of clouds as weak weather systems try to infiltrate the region, but little moisture before the weekend. An increased probability of a cold wave next week accompanied by some snowfall. Beyond that thinking, it will be a day-to-day realm of confidence as we get closer to the event.Be safe on your Thanksgiving journeys — we will chat on Thursday morning as the turkey goes into the oven.
MARGATE, FLA. (WSVN) – Police are asking for the public’s help in locating a missing Margate woman.According to police, 31-year-old Gretchen Herrera stands about 5 feet 7 inches and weighs about 160 pounds.Officials said she was last seen Friday afternoon, wearing a white shirt and jeans.Anyone with information on Herrera’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Margate Police Department at 954-764-4357.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
He was asked by Johna Beech, Alaska State Lead for ACSCAN, to testify in Juneau in support of the bill. He continues to testify in front of the legislature:“Before it was to work on the smoke-free workplace act. Now it’s just to remind legislators, especially the new ones, what the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is and stands for.” Joe: “About 4 years when Johna asked me to come to Juneau to testify in support of the smoke-free workplace act, which was successfully passed last year, stated that in places in business you cannot smoke in workplaces so that we weren’t forcing Alaskans to choose between a job and their health.” He was recognized for his work with American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network by the state legislature, and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski in Juneau on Tuesday. Over the last four years, Joe has been working on advocacy issues with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. He testified numerous times to our state legislators about the smoke-free workplace bill that was passed in 2018. Joe: “I went through 3 1/2 years of intense and grueling chemotherapy treatment, and then another five years in long-term remission. When I was 13, somewhere between 7th and 8th grade I was deemed cancer free.” His teacher would have their class listen to public testimony when Joe would call into the local legislative office to testify. Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享Joe Yourkoski was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of four, and by the age of 13 was declared a survivor. Now, Joe is a junior at Nikiski Middle/High School working to educate other Alaskans about the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
Alternative Press, a well-regarded yet relatively obscure music magazine, is getting a lot more exposure this summer than it’s used to. The magazine partnered with Sony’s RED distribution group to produce a one-off title called Summer of Rock. The publication, which includes a CD featuring music from 20 bands, is being sold at Wal-Mart stores across the U.S.“It is like the ‘Wild West’ in the entertainment industry these days … I’m really excited to do projects like these,” said AP’s president and founder Mike Shea. “Pulling in partners from a variety of fields to help drive sales just appears to be more and more a standard procedure.”RED, which collaborated with AP to produce its 2008 special summer music publication (AP was one of a number of magazines that contributed to last year’s publication), approached Wal-Mart again this year about doing another—this time with editorial produced exclusively by AP. “RED took care of the production and manufacturing and working with Wal-Mart’s music department to secure premium placement and internal marketing support,” Shea said. “We would help push the guide in the magazine, on our Web site and Twitter so they could rely on our brand strength to help push our fans to go into Wal-Mart and buy it.” In addition to the CD, the 56-page publication features guitar picks, stickers and collectible cards. AP produced four different covers featuring four bands. During the week of July 13, Summer of Rock reached number 165 on Billboard magazine’s Top 200 chart, due to the enclosed CD. RED distributed 39,100 copies of Summer of Rock to Wal-Mart stores. So far, the issue has sold 7,656 copies, Shea said.“The idea [behind Summer of Rock] was to help push sales of new artist’s CDS in Wal-Mart,” he said. “I think it’s a win-win in the marketing sense and fans get something that is unique and that they can’t get anywhere else.”Shea said he’s in talks with Wal-Mart to possibly convince the megastore to carry AP—which now has a monthly circulation of 298,000—in addition to the one-off. “We’re hoping the success of this guide will help convince them even more in the strength of our brand,” he said.
Kolkata: Seven persons were killed after a bus and an SUV collided head-on near Mohammad Bazar in Birbhum on Friday evening, while two persons including a child are still undergoing treatment.According to sources, on Friday evening, a bus was coming from Rampurhat towards Suri. At the same time, an SUV carrying nine passengers was moving towards Rampurhat from Suri. Near Kalikapur village in Ganapur forest, the driver of the SUV lost control and collided head-on with the bus. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataHearing the sound of the accident, local residents ran to the spot and found that the passengers of the SUV were badly injured. Mohammad Bazar police station was informed immediately. But before the villagers could act, five persons died on the spot due to the accident. Within a few minutes, police arrived at the spot and rushed the four injured including a child to Suri Superspeciality Hospital, where two persons succumbed to their injuries later. The other two are undergoing treatment but their condition is still critical. After admitting the injured persons, police sent the bodies to the same hospital for autopsy examination. Till Friday night, none of the deceased persons could be identified. It is suspected that the injured and the deceased persons are from the same family. To know their identity, police are trying to locate the vehicle owner through the registration number of the SUV.
Share May 22, 2012 429 Views in Data, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Warren Group: Massachusetts Prices May Have Hit Bottom Agents & Brokers Home Equity Home Prices Home Sales Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers The Warren Group 2012-05-22 Krista Franks Brock Continuing a four-month trend ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô one that has also prevailed in nine of the past 10 consecutive months ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô single-family home sales in Massachusetts rose year-over-year in April, according to “”The Warren Group””:http://www.thewarrengroup.com/, a New England real estate analytics firm. [IMAGE]However, single-family home prices reversed a seven-month downward drift, rising 1.1 percent. The median sales price for single-family homes in Massachusetts now stands at $275,000. On the other hand, the year-to-date median price is $264,900, which is 1 percent lower than the year-to-date price in April of last year, according to The Warren Group. The relative flatness of prices over the last year and the sudden uptick after months of decline may signify that prices “”have hit[COLUMN_BREAK]bottom and will start to increase in the second half of the year,”” “”Timothy M. Warren Jr.””:http://www.thewarrengroup.com/about-us/management/, CEO of The Warren Group, said in a statement with the release of the Massachusetts data Tuesday. Furthermore, “”[l]ow mortgage rates and an improving job market in the Bay State are encouraging buyers to enter the market,”” Warren said.April, in fact, saw a 22 percent rise in sales year-over-year with 3,505 single-family home sales, the highest number of sales recorded in any month so far this year. April, however, was not a complete anomaly; year-to-date sales are up 18 percent from last year reaching a total of 11,477 since the start of the year. Condominium sales and prices also rose in April. Condo sales increased more than 12 percent year-over-year with 1,262 sales in April. Year-to-date condo sales in Massachusetts total 4,424, up 11 percent from the same period last year, according to The Warren Group. The median sales price for condos rose 3.5 percent year-over-year in April. The median price is now $280,000. The year-to-date median price is lower ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô $257,250 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô but it is still 4 percent higher than last year. “”It looks like the months ahead will continue to be positive as the strong spring and summer market heats up,”” Warren said. “”Typically, June is the biggest month of the year for real estate closings.””
How Lack of Smarter Logic Cuts Into Lender Profits May 27, 2016 1,065 Views Lenders Loan Origination System Profits Smart Logic 2016-05-27 Staff Writer in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Origination, Print Features, Technology Share The ROI of Rules-Based Decision EnginesHow the Lack of Smarter Logic Can Cut Directly Into Lender ProfitsBy Lionel UrbanLenders have various loan origination system (LOS) choices available today to ensure that their operations run smoothly, but choosing the right one can be trickier than it seems. The LOS, technologically speaking, is a lender’s beating heart. When the LOS is working at its peak potential, the entire system has a higher likelihood of running smoothly. When it fails to keep up, the ill effects are felt throughout the organization.Logic: The Missing PieceWhile the late Leonard Nimoy said countless times as Mr. Spock in Star Trek, “It’s only logical, Captain,” Nimoy himself more wisely observed, “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” To appreciate why this is true, it is helpful to examine the role of logic in the modern LOS, and how administering smarter logic can be the difference between making the right and necessary choice.After observing the countless features and tools included in an LOS, ultimately a sizeable deciding factor should be how the system is built—and how it leverages logic to streamline a lender’s work. One could well assume that popular loan origination systems all function with logic, but that’s not necessarily true. Behind fancy bells and whistles, and modern looking screens, many popular systems are antiquated in nature. Rules capabilities are not all alike, and the largest providers aren’t necessarily the most sophisticated.The two most prominent approaches to helping lenders get the most from their LOS are template-based, and rules-based designs. As the first main concept used, the template-based approach was tried and true for decades. Templates provided form and function. But do they provide logic?Managers at every level constantly think in terms of “If/Then” progressions for decision-making, and each operates within their own set of rules as set by company policy, personal experience, and business ethics. The rules-based approach to LOS technology thinks the same way, though the rules come from other sources. A look back at how the all-important LOS developed over time sheds light on the importance of making the right (and logical) choice.Farewell to Form Filler OriginationsThe first LOSs were PC-based, run by floppy disks on desktop computers. Files were saved and moved about by basic networking, and even by exchanging disks. While this sounds like the lending equivalent of starting fires by striking stone to flint, it was a big leap over the purely paper and typewriter-based processes that had gone on before. The main point of the early systems was to provide a means for inputting data once and having multiple forms populated with the repetitive information. Later in the ’90s, there were big improvements to PC-based systems, including WYSIWYG (pronounced whizzy-wig), a now-archaic term that simply means, “what you see is what you get.” Forms looked like forms instead of showing up as blinking green cursors on black screens.This led to the introduction of templates to provide information defaulted for the various loan programs and transaction types, which was a major time-saver. Templates improved efficiencies but still required users to ensure the correct template was selected, and the templates did not cover all lender activities. Additionally, this method did not take into account all the various scenarios that the staff had to deal with in real-life practices. Templates possessed a rudimentary If/Then potential, but did not accelerate true decision-making or enable advanced workflow capabilities.The Lender’s Partner, An LOS Perfect FitAs loan origination systems became more sophisticated, and shifted to installed—and later to SaaS (Software as a Service)—delivery models, capabilities increased tremendously. Rules-based decision engines became more generally available, cementing the LOS’s role as the lender’s automated partner rather than a mere clerical enhancement. The difference is as dramatic as switching from a ’90s vehicle to a modern one—complete with antilock brakes, digital fuel injection, full airbags, collision avoidance systems, self-parking, and smartphone interfaces. Template systems are still out there, but rules-based processes in the LOS enable a far smoother ride for the modern mortgage company.While templates provide some guidance on the forms, loan types, and programs, more modern rules-based methods can create a highly effective manufacturing process based on the specific data points of each loan. Examples of these additional data points that can drive file requirements include property type (single-family, condo, or planned-unit development), borrower type (borrow, co-signor, accommodation mortgagor, or U.S. citizen/non-resident alien), automated underwriting system and other interface findings, income, and many more. Each of these can affect the workflow on the loan file, some requiring documentation that others do not, and much of it highly detailed. Property type, for example, can trigger homeowners association (HOA) monthly fees and covenants, but not on all single-families, and on most of the condos and PUDs. With rules firing elements of the workflow, processing knows to ask for information on these that not only are important to have in the file, but can impact basic eligibility criteria such as debt-to-income (DTI) ratio calculations.More importantly, the rules-based approach can keep errors and defects from occurring, and this is not a trivial benefit. Experienced lenders understand that even a minor error can require significant resources to cure and can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Defects and errors can also:Increase expenses by requiring a pool of resources to focus on cures that are not necessary when efficient and accurate processes are in place;Become distractions for key managers and keep them from focusing on more productive objectives; andCut directly into profits. The costs to resolve these issues come straight out of net income, directly affecting a lender’s bottom line.Superior Intellect, Piece By PieceRules-based LOS systems are highly customizable for each lender’s process model. They typically include presets for industry best practices, providing usability right “out of the box.” But tweaking them to fit your business can be surprisingly simple. Customizing a technology system generally makes managers think of IT specialists and software developers, but that is seldom the case with the best modern LOS software. Rules engines are designed for use by business-side subject matter experts rather than technology specialists.Readily understood If/Then steps are enabled so that lender customization remains logical and nothing gets lost in translation. If dealing with a self-employed borrower, for example, then the standard best practices rules specifying tax returns are triggered, automatically listing them as a requirement during the interview process, and before taking the loan to underwriting. But what if a particular lender or investor has tighter tolerances for income from certain sources? The rules can be immediately modified for the specific range and set to fire if needed. Logic prevails and time is saved across the entire origination process.In the broader view, rules-based systems provide:More accurate file documentation right from the start of the loan process, enabling better service and fewer hours required to process each loan;Quicker and more accurate generation of disclosures;User restrictions based on employee roles that prohibit them from making changes to, approving, or funding a loan that could result in defects, providing an ongoing quality control safeguard;More accurate loans delivered to the secondary market, resulting in a reduced number of staff hours to cure investor errors and omissions requirements;Improved loan quality resulting in higher pull-through ratios and reduced secondary marketing revenue exceptions;Reduced dependency on staff training and make new hire staff qualifications more manageable, as today’s best systems accurately present the right information to the right user at the right time;Efficient systems that increase staff productivity, retention, and collaboration. When a predictable and accurate process is in place, all staffers have clearly defined responsibilities and the tracking of requirements can be transparent; andHelp in recruiting top sales talent. Quality loan originators need a predictable and high-quality back office team in place to ensure service levels are high—resulting in great real estate agent and referral source relationships for increased business referrals.Value-Added Benefits: The Finishing TouchesMany on the origination side of the house will agree that the LOS is the most important technology decision a company can make. The smarter the system, the more effective the company can become, particularly if the logic can be delivered directly to borrowers when they apply, and integrated with the lender’s other vendors.Rules-based loan origination systems—possessing what amounts to a logical, native intelligence that facilitates decisioning—play well with others. Streamlining the initial interview process and collection of documentation is most efficient with a rules-based system. In addition, virtually all lenders require third-party sources for pricing, verifications, credit reporting, and automated underwriting. Loan decisions and processing require input from these providers in order to keep the loan moving through the pipeline, and documents flowing in through a variety of means.Advanced rules-based LOS systems are able to accept and largely manage the inflow of documentation through most means, and then trigger actions based on their receipt. Communications can be generated to advise parties that the appraisal has been received, for example. Or in another example, questions exist on another piece of documentation that has arrived. Imaging systems can identify document types, read certain fields, and then send the document to the correct person who needs to see it, as well as to the appropriate loan file. Rules can also identify when certain documents are going to expire and when human intervention might be needed to prevent a delay.The ability to make simple judgments and trigger actions, thanks to a customizable set of rules, saves a tremendous number of phone calls and other time-sapping activities. And every saved minute will make it’s way to a lender’s bottom line.Finally, there is another benefit to advanced rules-based LOS systems: They are surprisingly easy to evaluate and adopt. Some have SaaS/Cloud delivery options, are designed to integrate readily, and are engineered for ease of use by mortgage staff and system administrators.All in all, it is nothing short of amazing how far these systems have come in the last decade or so. The modern rules-based LOS quite literally makes its predecessors obsolete, much the same way as the modern smartphone has replaced the old flip phones. Current mortgage professionals are able to compete at the highest technology levels, regardless of their size, thanks to these innovative software platforms. And equipped with smarter logic, in the form of the rules-based design, mortgage lenders can find “the beginning of wisdom,” a remarkable state of the art that is available today.Editor’s note: This select print feature appears in the May 2016 edition of MReport magazine.
Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) has embarked on a refurb of the four Golden Lounge facilities at its KLIA hub. Central to the Golden Lounge refurbishment program are new demonstration kitchens where chefs will create Malaysian and international gourmet dishes while interacting with travellers and customising meals to their personal tastes.There will also be a bistro service in the business lounges, and a revamped fine dining experience in the first class lounge, with all locations also receiving faster wireless internet and additional universal power sockets, allowing visitors to easily recharge their devices without an adaptor.Adopting a design created by internationally-renowned firm Duoz – the same company behind the RitzCarlton Kuala Lumpur and the Marriott Sydney Harbour at Circular Quay – guests will notice patches of greenery for a touch of colour throughout, and to minimise disruption to travellers, only two lounges will be refurbished at one time.The Regional Golden Lounge in the Main Terminal Building was closed last Friday and will reopen on 15 August 2017. This facility is used by passengers on regional international services to destinations such as Singapore, ASEAN and the SASC (South Asian Sub-Continent). Passengers travelling in business class or who hold oneworld Sapphire/Emerald frequent flyer status (including MH and QF Gold and Platinum members) will be directed to the 24-hour International First or Business Class Golden Lounges in the Satellite Terminal Building (STB). Under oneworld Alliance lounge access rules Sapphire/Emerald frequent flyers are also able to use the Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge which is also located within the STB. The Domestic Golden Lounge will close between 2 June and 15 August. As passengers cannot access the airport’s international departures area where the International First and Business Class Golden Lounges are located, a temporary lounge space will be created at gate B3. Here lounge-eligible passengers will find light refreshments available along with dedicated seating, wireless Internet, newspapers, magazines and flight information screens. Toilets, showers and prayer rooms won’t be offered within this temporary space, although the nearest restrooms can be found just outside the gate area, with the closest prayer room aside the Malaysia Airlines Gate A transfer desk. airportKuala LumpurloungesMalaysia Airlines
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