Profits soar at Vertu Motors

first_img Profits soar at Vertu Motors Monday 18 October 2010 7:39 pm Car dealership group Vertu Motors saw pre-tax profits soar by three quarters to £4.9m over the first half of its financial year after acquiring a number of new sales outlets. Vertu, which will commence dividend payments in January, added that it beat management expectations for new car performance in September, gaining market share with new car retail volumes declining only 2.6 per cent versus a broader market fall of 19 per cent. Tags: NULL whatsapp whatsapp KCS-content center_img Share More From Our Partners Police Capture Elusive Tiger Poacher After 20 Years of Pursuing the Huntergoodnewsnetwork.orgFlorida woman allegedly crashes children’s birthday party, rapes teennypost.comBrave 7-Year-old Boy Swims an Hour to Rescue His Dad and Little Sistergoodnewsnetwork.orgKiller drone ‘hunted down a human target’ without being told tonypost.comAstounding Fossil Discovery in California After Man Looks Closelygoodnewsnetwork.orgA ProPublica investigation has caused outrage in the U.S. this weekvaluewalk.comNative American Tribe Gets Back Sacred Island Taken 160 Years Agogoodnewsnetwork.orgRussell Wilson, AOC among many voicing support for Naomi Osakacbsnews.comI blew off Adam Sandler 22 years ago — and it’s my biggest regretnypost.com by Taboolaby TaboolaSponsored LinksSponsored LinksPromoted LinksPromoted LinksYou May LikeMisterStoryWoman Files For Divorce After Seeing This Photo – Can You See Why?MisterStoryNoteabley25 Funny Notes Written By StrangersNoteableyTotal PastThe Ingenious Reason There Are No Mosquitoes At Disney WorldTotal PastMoneyPailShe Was A Star, Now She Works In ScottsdaleMoneyPailSerendipity TimesInside Coco Chanel’s Eerily Abandoned Mansion Frozen In TimeSerendipity TimesBrake For ItThe Most Worthless Cars Ever MadeBrake For ItBetterBe20 Stunning Female AthletesBetterBemoneycougar.comThis Proves The Osmonds Weren’t So Innocentmoneycougar.comBeach RaiderMom Belly Keeps Growing, Doctor Sees Scan And Calls CopsBeach Raider Show Comments ▼last_img read more

Indiana betting market breaks handle record in February

first_img Indiana’s regulated sports betting market reported a 9.6% month-on-month rise in handle in February, breaking the record set in January thanks largely to continued online growth. Topics: Casino & games Sports betting Horse racing Indiana betting market breaks handle record in February Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Tags: Mobile Online Gambling OTB and Betting Shops Race Track and Racino Indiana’s regulated sports betting market reported a 9.6% month-on-month rise in handle in February, breaking the record set in January thanks largely to continued online growth.Amounts wagered in February rose to $187.2m, of which $145.9m – 77.9% – was staked via mobile apps and websites. After player winnings, revenue of $11.1m, down 13.7% from January 2020.Looking at the breakdown of handle across sports, basketball proved the most popular in February, with amounts staked rising 50.8% to $90.2m, making it by far the most popular. While the Super Bowl took place on February 2, Indiana bettors still bet $11.6m on the sport, largely over those two days.Parlay betting also provided popular, with wagers up 8.6% to $44.1m. A further $39.7m was wagered on other sports and events, in the month that saw the Academy Awards take place on February 9.Read the full story on iGB North America. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter 10th March 2020 | By contenteditor Regions: US Indiana Email Address Casino & gameslast_img read more

Barnardo’s partners with toucanBox on 1-4-1 initiative for Easter holidays

first_imgBarnardo’s partners with toucanBox on 1-4-1 initiative for Easter holidays More one for one initiatives Dishoom has been donating a meal to child every time someone buys one of its meals since 2015. It is celebrating having now donated over 10 million meals to children in the UK and India. For Ramadan 2015 as its ‘zakat’ or act of charity, Dishoom supported two charities – Magic Breakfast in the UK, and The Akshaya Patra Foundation in India. At Diwali the same year, it made this partnership permanent.  AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis Booths Buy One Give One About Melanie May Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via www.thepurplepim.com. Last month saw Morrisons and Bodyform partner so that every time a Morrisons customer bought a Bodyform product, another pack was donated to a local food bank or community group to help combat period poverty. Future Noodles “Barnardo’s is pleased to be working with toucanBox to help keep children entertained over the holidays. Having access to a variety of play activities is crucial to children’s development, happiness, and well-being. This is more important than ever as families cope with restrictions during the pandemic.” Virginie Charles-Dear, Founder of toucanBox, said: People receiving their Covid vaccinations in the UK are invited to donate to a number of programmes working to vaccinate those in lower income countries by donating to provide someone else with a vaccination. Along with GAVI (the Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunisations)’s Covax AMC, people can donate to Unicef’s mission to deliver 2bn vaccinations, the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, the Bump It Forward appeal or Arm in Arm, among others. toucanBox has partnered with Barnardo’s, to help support the children’s charity that has been providing much-needed support to families in need throughout the last 12-months of the Covid-19 pandemic. Morrisons & Bodyform Melanie May | 1 April 2021 | News Dishoom Tagged with: buy one give one Those purchasing a 1-4-1 gifted Box will see a limited-edition sticker on their own toucanBox, showing their part in the charitable partnership.  Launching this month from chef Carl Clarke, Future Noodles offers nutritionally complete plant-based instant noodles and for each pot brought, another is donated. Its successful Kickstarter campaign raised £55,000 with all pledges promised noodles for themselves and someone in need. Booths the supermarket launched its Buy One Get One initiative at the end of October last year, where for every qualifying item bought in store, customers can pick up another one up free of charge to donate to their store’s food bank collection point. The list of items includes a variety of cereals, hot beverages, soft drinks, fruit and vegetables and toiletry products. From today, 1 April, and throughout the Easter holiday period, vulnerable children supported by Barnardo’s will be gifted a free crafting and activity box, every time a new subscription is made via the toucanBox site.  Barnardo’s will distribute the craft boxes across its services and children’s centres located around the UK. Advertisement  1,298 total views,  1 views today AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis Commenting on the partnership, Lynn Perry MBE, Corporate Director of Children’s Services, Barnardo’s, said: Barnardo’s and toucanBox are partnering on a one-for-one initiative this Easter to provide crafting and activity boxes to vulnerable children through the holidays. #GetOneGiveOne “As we embark on yet another school holiday period, at home, it’s imperative children are entertained with enriching activity.  Further to a year at home, or ongoing home learning, there is definite fatigue and with ‘having nothing to do’ many vulnerable children will be left to their own devices whilst the UK remains in its state of lockdown.”last_img read more

Freedom Party

first_img By Digital AIM Web Support – February 24, 2021 Pinterest Twitter Celebrate Freedom Party.jpg The Copper Rose Building, 415 N. Grant Ave., has scheduled an Independence Day “Celebrate Freedom” Party from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday. There will be lots of food, fun and live entertainment. Admission is free. Local News Pinterest WhatsApp Twittercenter_img TAGS  Facebook Freedom Party Facebook WhatsApp Previous articleECISD trustees to consider changing name of Falcon ECHSNext articleGOLF: Quarter Century Partnership Digital AIM Web Supportlast_img read more

10 biggest proptech funding rounds of 2020

first_imgMessage* Share via Shortlink 3. Better.com | $200 millionBuoyed by heightened demand for digital home loans, Better.com raised $200 million at a $4 billion valuation in November, setting off rumors of a potential IPO in 2021. But behind the scenes, CEO Vishal Garg was ensnared in several lawsuits alleging financial mismanagement, Forbes reported. Garg’s former business partner, Raza Khan, also claimed that the CEO threatened to burn him alive. A Better.com spokesperson called the accusations “baseless.”4. Sonder | $170 millionDespite the hospitality apocalypse unleashed by the pandemic, Sonder raised $170 million in June to scale its business — that is, leasing apartments and turns them into short-term rentals. The round valued the San Francisco startup at $1.3 billion, up from $1.1 billion. Despite a drop in business and layoffs, investors said the cash infusion was not a bailout. After Sonder’s bookings dropped in March, it secured rent reductions and pivoted to longer-term stays, avoiding the fate of rivals Lyric and Stay Alfred, which shuttered permanently because of the pandemic. Sonder has raised $560 million since 2012.5. Procore | $150 millionAfter shelving a planned IPO this spring due to market volatility, construction startup Procore raised $150 million in the private market, securing a $5 billion valuation despite economic distress. Founded in 2002, Procore sells construction management software, with a client list that includes major developers and contractors, including Brookfield Properties and Turner Construction. In 2019, the company generated $289.2 million in revenue, but lost $83.1 million, according to regulatory filings.6. States Title | $123 millionA flurry of startups is trying to streamline real estate closings, including States Title. The digital mortgage, title and escrow company, which was founded in 2016 by CEO Max Simkoff, raised $123 million in May from Greenspring Associations, Foundation Capital and FifthWall Ventures. That puts its valuation at $623 million. Historically, the title industry has been dominated by the so-called “Big Four”: Fidelity National, First American, Old Republic and Stewart. States Title is the biggest of the tech firms competing for the Big Four’s business.7. Vacasa | $108 millionAfter weathering a steep drop in business and layoffs, vacation rental startup Vacasa nabbed $108 million in June from Silver Lake, the private equity firm that helped bail out Airbnb this spring. Based in Portland, Oregon, Vacasa handles bookings, housekeeping and customer service for investors who rent out their homes, in exchange for a 20 to 40 percent cut.8. Homeward | $105 millionHome-buying startup Homeward secured $105 million to help buyers put their best foot forward. The Austin-based company, founded by Tim Heyl, a top agent at Keller Williams, raised $20 million in equity and $85 million in debt in May. The company loans prospective buyers money to make cash offers on their next home, and promises to buy their old home if they can’t sell.9. LendingHome | $75 millionLendingHome, which makes fix-and-flip loans to real estate investors, raised $75 million in December to accelerate growth as more distressed properties hit the market. The round was led by Benefit Street Partners, and brings LendingHome’s total funding to $249 million, according to Crunchbase. The San Francisco-based startup, founded in 2013, also added Michael Bourque as CEO.10. Orchard | $69 millionOrchard, a home-buying startup that allows owners to buy a new home before they sell their old one, raised $69 million in September to expand its offerings. The funding came eight months after the three-year-old startup nabbed $36 million. Formerly called Perch, the company added title, escrow and lending services this year. CEO Court Cunningham said the goal is to manage the entire home-buying process.Contact E.B. Solomont Tags2020 in ReviewsoftbankstartupsTechnology Email Address*center_img Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Full Name* Procore’s Tooey Courtemanche, REEF Technologies’s Ari Ojalvo, Pacaso’s Spencer Rascoff and Sonder’s Francis Davidson (Procore, CoMotion Miami, Getty, Sonder, iStock)Some got bailouts, others got boosters — but across the board, proptech firms continued to reel in cash in 2020 as the pandemic forced the slow-to-adapt real estate industry to fully embrace technology.As tech stocks led Wall Street’s recovery this spring, private investors also pulled out their checkbooks to fund hospitality startups and companies looking to digitize the home-buying process, from searches to securing titles.SoftBank continued to double down on real estate tech. Other prolific investors included proptech-focused funds such as Navitas Capital and Zigg Capital, as well as generalist investors like Founders Fund and Greycroft.All told, investors poured nearly $2 billion into the top 10 deals of the year, according to data compiled for The Real Deal by Pitchbook and the Center for Real Estate Technology and Innovation. Many were late-stage investments, and the average deal size was $198.7 million, according to the data.Here’s the breakdown of the biggest deals:1. REEF Technologies | $700 millionThe biggest funding round of 2020 went to REEF Technologies, a Miami startup that turns empty parking lots into logistics hubs. In November, a syndicate including SoftBank and Mubadala Corp. invested $700 million, fueling REEF’s planned expansion from 4,800 to 10,000 locations. Founded in 2013, REEF provides hardware, software and management services to parking lot owners; more recently, it added cloud kitchens, healthcare clinics, last-mile delivery and experiential retail to its portfolio. Similar to WeWork, REEF leases real estate itself.2. Pacaso | $267 millionSpencer Rascoff revolutionized the way people search for homes with Zillow. Now, he’s helping people find second homes with Pacaso, a startup he launched in September with CEO Austin Allison. Pacaso, which lets people buy from one-eighth to one-half of a vacation home, raised $17 million in equity and $250 million in debt, which it will use to purchase homes before quickly re-selling them. Investors include former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, Amazon exec Jeff Wilke and former Zillow exec Greg Schwartz.Read moreSpencer Rascoff’s next idea: second homes for all States Title nabs $123M at $623M valuation Sonder raises $170M despite hospitality apocalypse last_img read more

In a first for Iran, hundreds of women attend a major soccer match in Tehran

first_img Beau Lund Written by November 10, 2018 /Sports News – National In a first for Iran, hundreds of women attend a major soccer match in Tehrancenter_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailAmin M. Jamali/Getty Images(NEW YORK) —  After a nearly forty-year ban, hundreds of Iranian women were allowed to attend an international soccer final at a stadium in Tehran on Saturday, where they managed to secure nearly one percent of the seats at Azadi Stadium.Saturday’s event — the Asian Champions League final pitting an Iranian team known as Persepolis against a Japanese squad called the Kashima Antlers — saw the most significant female presence at a top soccer match in Iran since the Islamic revolution in the late 1970s.Iranian conservatives have persistently been opposed to women attending live sports matches, but cultural pressure has been steadily building against the ban.“It is time to let women in,” said Reza, 45, a real estate employee who was trying to find a ticket to enter the stadium. “We are fed up with so much economic pressures. We all need fresh air,” the woman, who declined to provide her last name, said.Reformists and women’s rights activists have been pushing for opening the doors to stadiums for years. Besides, pressures from international bodies seeking Iran’s compliance with their required equality standards have occasionally forced Iranian authorities to let at least a small group of women in.The practice invited widespread criticism by social media users who alleged that there were select groups of women attending the stadium to fulfill international expectations, an allegation denied by authorities.“I prefer watching nonsense soap operas than Persepolis and Kashima’s match with this way of selecting the spectators,” wrote Samira Alampanah on her Twitter.Waiting outside the doors about three hours before the match, Yalda, 28, said “we want to get in for Persepolis.”“So, it will have some real fans on the seats, not just the select group allowed in to appease FIFA and AFC,” she said, referring respectively to the international and Asian governing bodies of professional soccer, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association and the Asian Football Confederation. Outside the U.S, soccer is known as football.But Yalda’s path was tougher than she had imagined. She and a group of about 200 fans had to pass three gates before entering the stadium — each one of which kept their hopes of getting in hanging in the balance.Ironically, some of the women reported, the officials at each gate were as uncertain as women themselves.“I’ve been told ten times to go home and watch the match on TV, and then another official comes and says ‘there is still hope,’” said Mahsa Taheri, 27, an accountant who decided to skip a day at work once she heard that women would be allowed in.“I’m here to stay,” she said.After several hours of waiting, the gates were eventually opened for Yalda and others. A security official who requested anonymity told ABC News that Fariba Mohammadian, Iran’s Women’s Deputy Minister of Sports, helped exhausted and intimidated female fans into the stadium.But, by the time the women got inside, the section of about 850 seats allocated to females was almost full. Despite being on their feet at the gates for hours, the newly-arrived fans started to cheer their team, many shedding tears of joy.“I am proud that we insisted so much, leaving no way for the officials but to compromise to some extent,” said Maral, 42, who had come to watch the game with her sisters and her cousin. “We want our team to know that everyone supports them, not just men.”In a note published on FIFA’s website, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said it was “a historic and festive day for football, a real breakthrough.”Infantino thanked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for paving the way for the women’s attendance at the stadium.“This is the power of football and makes it all worthwhile!”Once allowed in, some fans burst into tears of joy which were subsequently supplanted by tears of disappointed fans.Persepolis lost the final to its Japanese rival.“One thing I am sure is that we will definitely come again,” Maral said.“We know that there will be gates on the way, but we hope it gets easier to get in.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Lets Rent sells to Romans Group

first_imgHome » News » Agencies & People » Lets Rent sells to Romans Group previous nextAgencies & PeopleLets Rent sells to Romans GroupThe Negotiator1st December 20160556 Views Romans say that this acquisition will give tenants greater choice.The Romans Group has acquired Lets Rent in Basingstoke. Karen Holmes, founder and Director of Lets Rent, said, “As a family-run business we are very passionate about the levels of service our landlords and tenants receive, with this in mind it was imperative that we sold to an agency with the same values as us. Romans is an established, experienced and trusted brand and the agency’s innovative approach to lettings caught my eye.”Joel Osbourne, Operations Director at Romans, added, “Acquiring Lets Rent’s portfolio of properties will help us to fulfil the demand from tenants in the Basingstoke area.“It will not only give greater choice to our tenants but it will also offer landlords that are new to us the opportunity to access our growing database of people looking for a new home to rent.”Lets Rent Romans Group acquisition December 1, 2016The NegotiatorWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles Letting agent fined £11,500 over unlicenced rent-to-rent HMO3rd May 2021 BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021last_img read more

Boris bounce: Barratt enjoys huge leap in house building and profits

first_imgHome » News » Land & New Homes » Boris bounce: Barratt enjoys huge leap in house building and profits previous nextLand & New HomesBoris bounce: Barratt enjoys huge leap in house building and profitsGovernment’s Help to Buy and first time buyer Stamp Duty relief schemes have played a huge role in giving the house builder a boost.Nigel Lewis5th February 20200419 Views More positive data revealing how the housing market is reviving has been published by the UK’s largest house builder, Barratt.The construction giant has enjoyed its strongest six months of activity for over 12 years, its latest results published this morning show, including a 9.1% leap in completions year-on-year.During the six months in the run up to December 31st the company built 8,312 homes in the UK compared to 7,622 during the same period the year before.The surprising results come despite many estate agents reporting difficult sales trading conditions in London and the South during last half of 2019, but like many other builders Barratt’s figures have been boosted by the government’s ongoing Help to Buy scheme and the consequently booming first time buyer market.Help to buyYesterday HMRC’s quarterly Stamp Duty figures revealed that the amount of relief claimed by first time buyers had hit the £1 billion mark for the first time.“The First Time Buyer Relief (FTBR) scheme’s effect over the past two years has been important but barely scratches the surface of the impact that the Help to Buy scheme has had,” says Andrew Southern, chairman of rival property developer Southern Grove.“Both schemes will come under pressure if a rumoured new urgency among buyers since Christmas pushes valuations higher.“This is looking increasingly likely. Rumours of a Boris Bounce have been getting estate agents on the front line very excited.”The boost given to Barratt by Help to Buy and FTBR have helped boost its profits, which increased by 2.9% during the period to £423.1 million. CEO David Thomas says the company has made a good start to 2020 with strong forward sales of £3 billion and 13,000 homes in its pipeline. February 5, 2020Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021last_img read more

Security in Sochi

first_imgAs international attention turns to the Black Sea port of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, the anticipation surrounding the Games is sharing headlines with the region’s recent history of unrest and its potential to bring violence to spectators and athletes there. In December, suicide bombers killed 34 people in two explosions in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, two months after a bus bombing killed seven others. The attacks came on the heels of an announcement by a militant leader from the restive Russian republic of Chechnya that the Games were a valid target for his fighters.Russian security forces have mounted a massive effort to keep the Games safe, pouring both manpower and advanced technology into the area.With the Games opening Friday, the Gazette spoke with Russia expert Timothy Colton, the Morris and Anna Feldberg Professor of Government and Russian Studies and chair of Harvard’s Department of Government, about the region’s troubles and the potential for Olympic violence.GAZETTE: Can you provide some background on the Sochi region and the security situation there?COLTON: This part of Russia — the whole region, the North Caucasus and Black Sea coast — is chronically unstable, largely because of post-imperial adjustments that have proved to be incredibly difficult.Sochi itself is, in Russian terms, an area with no particular ethnic coloration, so it’s governed like any other part of the country. But within a few hundred miles, you have dedicated homelands for minority groups, some of which have grievances and others that have been caught up for the last 10 or 15 years in a mood of rebelliousness against the center, which has increasingly taken on a religious coloration. So Islam also enters into this.One factor about Sochi, though, is that even though it’s governed today like any other Russian city, there is some history there, and it has to do with the Circassians.[Circassians are] a set of four or five groups that are related to one another by language and history. Some live in the Russian North Caucasus. Others live in diaspora in Turkey, in Jordan, elsewhere in the Middle East. Some of the more politically engaged insist that Sochi has particular meaning for them.It turns out that the deportation of many of the Circassian people, which was partly involuntary and partly voluntary, occurred from the port of Sochi beginning in 1864, or exactly 150 years ago. That lends a certain resonance to the fact that Circassian activists talk about “the bones of our ancestors” being here.GAZETTE: With news coverage of the attacks in Volgograd and the search for “black widow” suicide bombers, is there one specific group that is a threat for these Games?COLTON: There are a number of groups. It’s a shadowy world. Some are violent, and some are not, and the Internet plays a role as well. Some of these groups are more virtual than real. You can set up a website and claim that you are this or that without there being much substance to it.The particular group that has been most involved in violent acts is headed by a warrior named Doku Umarov. Umarov actually began as a Chechen rebel in the 1990s and has reinvented himself repeatedly. He now heads something called the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus or the North Caucasus. So this is partly virtual, partly real. But they have definitely been involved in terrorist activities, including in Moscow.There is suspicion Umarov has been killed in recent weeks. Some Russian sources say they’ve managed to destroy him. But it is not entirely clear that this is the case, because such claims have been made before.A couple of years ago, Umarov swore off bombings — suicide bombs and other attacks of that kind — against Russian civilians. He then changed his mind in 2013 and announced that the Sochi Olympics were going to be a target for his organization. So in terms of anxiety on the part of the Russian security agencies, he is probably the main source. But there are many others. For example, the bombings in Volgograd don’t seem to have anything to do with his organization.GAZETTE: What do you think of the Russian security preparations? It sounds like there’s a massive presence there.COLTON: There’s a massive presence. You hear numbers like 75,000 security troops and others there, but of course the Russians aren’t going to reveal the exact number. My guess is that it’s even higher than that. Plus, they’ve installed pretty high-tech equipment in terms of badges, screening devices, filtration, and all that. I think they’re on the case, and they can afford to buy state-of-the-art equipment and to train people. I take their effort quite seriously.They are all aware that this isn’t just about [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s personal [reputation], but that the reputation of the country, even the authority of the government among its own citizens, is at stake here. If something terrible happens in Sochi, this is going to be a disaster for all concerned. So I think they’re trying hard.However, terrorists are elusive adversaries. They always seem to be finding ways around security systems. The security cordon — the really thick one — is the so-called “ring of steel” around the Olympic zone, in Sochi and the surrounding hills. But the terrorists can in theory disrupt the Games by striking somewhere else in Russia. It wouldn’t have the same impact, but it would have a significant impact, and it could even lead to panicky withdrawal of athletes by the United States or other countries if it were anyplace close, even if it were in Moscow.GAZETTE: Would you be surprised if the Olympics period in Sochi, and the rest of Russia, passes peacefully?COLTON: I’m not sure I have any basis to say. The United States government is concerned about this, but there are going to be 15,000 Americans in Sochi, so we haven’t kept our people out. I guess everybody is banking on the Russian security measures working.But also I think it’s only rational to be fearful that something will happen. If you put me on the spot, my answer would be that I would think not, but I could be absolutely wrong.GAZETTE: I read that some experts on the region felt that when Sochi was announced as a site for the Games, it was sort of asking for trouble. Did you have a similar reaction?COLTON: I did wonder a little bit. Russia is, of course, a very northerly country. It has many thousands of square miles of frigid territory. It’s the land of winter. So why did they have to do it in Sochi? Partly, I think, it was a regional development thing. The Caucasus area is very underdeveloped. There’s a lot of poverty there. This was a sort of wake-up project that would have a lot of benefits.Sochi is [also] a very presidential place. That’s where the president has his summer retreat. A lot of foreign statesmen go to see him there. It has that sort of presidential, Kremlin resonance to it. In addition to that — I’ve been there a number of times — it has a very unusual flavor in that the northern coast of the Black Sea is quite moderate in climate. It’s like Virginia, North Carolina, or something like that.It’s quite balmy in summer. There are palm trees there. But when you go just north into the hills and mountains, there’s a lot of snow in winter. So it was a little bit like Vancouver in a sense. You have a sea-level city, which is of interest, and which they want to develop. And a few miles away, uphill, you get winter conditions.So, aside from the ethnic and national aspect of this, there is the climate risk. And in the early conversations that I can remember, this was given prominence: Is there a chance that it won’t snow on those hills, and the winter Olympics will fail for that reason?Well, the Russians were certainly awake to this from the beginning. They have stockpiled snow. They have shipped it in. They have made it with machines, and put it in cold storage. That’s a problem you can kind of spend your way out of, and I think they managed to do that.Elsewhere in the country, Russia is a relatively flat place. It does not have a lot of mountain relief. There are any number of places you could do hockey and skating, but as far as the mountain sports are concerned, you need relief. The main alternative — speaking of the Russian Federation and not its neighbors — would be the Ural Mountains, the separation between Europe and Asia.But that’s very far inland. It’s an industrial region. It has no particular tourist potential. I’m sure they considered it. They could have built ski lifts in that direction, but it’s less attractive for a lot of reasons.GAZETTE: Is there anything else you wanted to add?COLTON: I know it’s significant, and it’s troublesome, but I think there’s been an overemphasis on the security side of these Games. Our media coverage is zeroing in on the security aspect as if it were the only thing. And that seems slightly out of kilter to me.These things happen only every four years and are great events. The Russians got into this in the first place because they crave the recognition that hosting the Olympics brings. They only had one Olympic Games before — in the Soviet days, in 1980 in Moscow — so they really wanted to get back on the map in this regard.They’re also traditionally very strong in winter sports. So for them, this was the chance to shine. And the way they look at it, that should be the primary focus.last_img read more

Human Smuggler Gets 30 Years In US Jail After 9 Die

first_imgBy Dialogo December 02, 2011 A Mexican national in charge of a human smuggling ring responsible for the drowning deaths of nine illegal immigrants was sentenced to 30 years in a US prison, prosecutors said. Joel Cardenas-Meneses, 43, was in charge of recruiting illegal immigrants from Central America, arranging their transportation to northern Mexico and then smuggling them across the Rio Grande River to Texas. US officials began investigating the ring after discovering the bodies of seven men and two women who had drowned inside a vehicle that had fallen into an irrigation canal near Hildago, Texas. They determined that the vehicle’s teenaged driver had been driving — as instructed — with the lights off to avoid detection and lost control after making a sharp turn. The victims were illegal immigrants from El Salvador and Honduras. Cardenas-Meneses was arrested in Houston, Texas in February — more than four years after he was indicted on human trafficking charges — and convicted in September.last_img read more