Universal Life Insurance - What Is It?

Most people are aware of the differences between term life insurance and whole life insurance. However, there is a hybrid called the universal life that many have little idea about what it is or how it works.

Universal life insurance was developed in the late 1970s as a result of arbitrage interest rates that financial institutions feel the high interest rate environment at that time. During the late 70's and early 80-ies, banks offer certificates of deposit at double-digit interest rates, but a whole life insurance only showed a relatively modest dividends and interest. Customers will be withdrawn or cash values, loan and deposit them in the creation of CD-type arbitraže.Osiguranje industry response was to create a kind of permanent, cash value life insurance building that is more directly sensitive to changes in interest rates, which gave birth to what is called universal Life (UL ).

How it works
UL is unbundled access to cash value life insurance building. Every year, customers receive an annual report clearly shows that every dollar prize was awarded ... how much went into insurance costs, administrative fees, and interest credited.

UL could be regarded as a bucket of money. The trash goes in the form of cash premium, and interest shall be credited with a bucket (or a separate account returns to a variable universal life). Premium dollars plus interest creates a cash value vrijednost.Gotovinsku supports the death benefit. There must be a cash value in the bucket or the policy will cease to exist .... without insurance. Continuing with the analogy of a spoon at the bottom of the bucket is a hole that drips from the costs. Costs such as premium loads, administrative fees are fixed and the other 'drip' is the cost of insurance charges (COI). This can be considered one year term cost. Every year, because the insured is older, this charge increases and becomes larger and the drip drip brže.Ideja UL is that, when the compounding factor of the cash value exceeds the increase in 'fall' policy is just enough .... Interest will increase faster than the cost of insurance and other troškove.Kamatna credited rate is declared by the insurance company, but you can change in any given month. There is a minimum or guaranteed interest rate is stated in the policy where the interest rate loan can not fall ispod.COI charge changes each month and is expected to grow as the insured ages. There is a maximum, or guaranteed COI charge is stated in the policy whereby the company can not move.

One of the main advantages is the flexibility of universal life. Again, continuing with the bucket analogy, the owner of the responsibility to pay a premium estimate. He may pay more or less depending on personal circumstances or preferences. If the owner wants the policy to pay for a short time, can increase the payment or payment amount. If he is experiencing financial difficulties, could reduce or even skip a premium. If interest rates rise, the owner could continue to pay the expected amount of premiums or reduce the amount. If interest rates fall, the owner of May have to increase premije.Vlasnik may increase or decrease the death benefit to his / her needs change. (Increase compensation for death usually requires more medical underwriting ).

With flexibility comes increased risk. S, the insurance company guarantees a majority of elements of the insurance contract. As long as the owner pays a premium, no matter what happens to interest rates or dividends, the insurance company guarantees to pay a death claim. However, with the UL, there is no such jamstvo.Jedini real way to guarantee that a UL contract to take the minimum interest rate, with a maximum COI rates. What you will usually find that a UL premium will approach or even exceed the comparable whole life premiums. With the UL, the insurance company essentially moves the interest rate and mortality risks for the policy owner. This "risk shift" is not guaranteed premiums are usually much lower than whole life counter-parts. If interest rates and mortality experience to work, then UL could do. If you do not, as was the case recently, UL owners could find great premium growth coming in the mail notification. Although people are living longer and mortality costs have dropped significantly, due to the reduction of the interest rate environment, many UL contracts have lost significant cash value, and are in danger of 'blowing' ... running out of money and death benefit is lost.

Contrary to what most mutual life insurance companies want to believe, Universal Life is a viable option for permanent life insurance. However, we must be aware of moving parts, and that are leading to more rizika.Pitanje becomes, are you willing to take risks with what protects your family?

Rabu, November 09, 2011 | 0 komentar | Read More

Crop Insurance: A Pricey 'Safety Net' For Farmers

Farming nowadays is risky business — it's not uncommon for a farmer to invest $500,000 in 1,000 acres of corn or soybeans, and run the risk of losing a chunk of their income to pests or fickle weather events like droughts and floods.

That's why farmers say crop insurance is "the most important safety net program" for them, says Joe Glauber, chief economist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And though politicians are looking to make some big cuts to farm programs in the upcoming 2012 farm bill, farmers are clinging fiercely to crop insurance.

The program has ballooned in recent years; ten-year projections show the government paying $8 billion a year to both producers and crop insurance companies, making it the biggest farm program expenditure. So now some economists are asking if we're subsidizing it too much. In a recent paper, Vincent Smith of the American Enterprise Institute, wrote: "the U.S. federal crop insurance program has become one of the most expensive ways of transferring income to farmers while, at the same time, supplying products that most farmers would never buy absent subsidies."

Here's a big part of why it's gotten so expensive in recent years:

Instead of paying about 42 percent of the premium, the government in 2000 began paying about 60 percent of the premium. More and more farmers started to buy more expensive revenue insurance policies and at higher coverage levels.

"So what a farmer's choice is: Should I buy full coverage and the taxpayer pay 60 percent of the cost?" says Iowa State University economist Bruce Babcock, who has written a policy brief on crop insurance. "Well of course I'm going to buy full coverage!"

"But then if you took subsidy away, would a farmer make the decisions to buy full coverage? Some would, some wouldn't, just like rest of us make decisions about our medical insurance, property insurance."

Here's the thing: Unlike yield insurance, which protects a farmer in the case of hail or pest damage to his crop, revenue insurance actually guarantees the farmer a certain income. The amount of dollars guaranteed is based on market prices for grain (averages of the Chicago Board of Trade ) and the farmer's average yields in the past.

Take Frank Seidel who farms in western Iowa, for example. He's insured his corn and soybean crops at 80 percent, both yield and revenue insurance. A hailstorm hit one of his 70-acre fields and killed about 20 percent of his crop. The damage wasn't enough for him to get a yield insurance payment. BUT because soybean prices have come down some since last spring, Seidel will get a revenue insurance payment, which could be about $1,745 for that field.

"Basically what the revenue plan does, it lets the insured know he can plant this many acres and have so many dollars guaranteed so he can adjust his input costs to that figure," says Tom Borrall, Seidel's claims adjuster.

Now the insurance isn't cheap — Seidel's paying $18 an acre for soybeans and $30 an acre for corn for his 1,000+ acre farm. But the government is paying even more.

"Even going back to the early 90s, the liability average from 1991 to 1995 was somewhere around $14 billion," says Glauber of the USDA. "If you look at the last five years we've been more in the $70 billion to $80 billion range. Just dramatic growth."

And that has some worried. Kathy Ozer of the National Family Farm Coalition says putting more taxpayer dollars into crop insurance programs is basically sending it private insurance companies.

"The biggest concern around crop insurance is that it's in effect privatizing what should be, in our view, a role of government in helping to enable farmers to receive a fair price for what they produce," says Ozer.

Environmental groups are also concerned because enrollment in crop insurance programs doesn't require that farmers adhere to good conservation practices, as most other farm programs do.

Obama recently proposed a plan that would trim about $8.3 billion from the crop insurance program over 10 years. But what isn't clear yet is how much farmers are actually willing to let go.
Sabtu, Oktober 29, 2011 | 0 komentar | Read More

Little help for middle class in 3 GOP tax plans

WASHINGTON - Texas Gov. Rick Perry's optional 20 percent flat tax plan would save millionaires hundreds of thousands of dollars a year while conferring relatively little benefit to taxpayers earning $100,000 per year or less, an analysis of three Republican tax plans conducted for the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News has found.

Georgia businessman Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan gives wealthy Americans an even larger reduction in payments to Uncle Sam than Perry's plan, according to the study conducted by Houston accountant Edward M. Gardner.

Lower-income taxpayers would fare best under Cain's proposal, and worst under Perry's plan, unless they were married and had children.

Under former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 59-point plan, middle-class families earning less than $50,000 would do slightly better than under Perry's proposal. But Romney's approach would provide less tax relief for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans than the plans from either Perry or Cain.

Differences touted

"Governor Romney has a pro-growth economic plan that will keep taxes low, remove the death tax, and eliminate taxes on savings for the middle-income taxpayers hurt most by the Obama economy," said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams.

"His plan cuts taxes while also bringing the budget deficit under control and restoring the confidence in America's fiscal health needed to promote investment and job creation."

Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger called Perry's plan "a bold, fundamental restructuring of the tax code, not a reformulation of the status quo" - an allusion to Romney's approach.

No fear of 'pundits'

Cain says he won't back away from his plan to cut individual and corporate income tax rates to 9 percent, while adding a 9 percent national sales tax - "because the so-called pundits criticize it" as weighted heavily toward the rich.

"You instinctively know that it's far better than the mess we have today," Cain said at a recent Nevada campaign appearance.

The study compared five hypothetical taxpayers: an unmarried individual earning $30,000 per year; a married couple with two children earning $50,000; a two-parent household with a $100,000 income; a family of four with $250,000 in income and $25,000 in capital gains; and a married millionaire with two children and $250,000 in capital gains.

All models assume the average level of consumption and itemized deductions for each wage level.

Alternative to Obama

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie dismissed all of the Republicans' plans as giveaways to the rich. The GOP candidates believe "working families should carry the burden while those who live off investments should pay no taxes at all," he said.

Whatever the differences in details, Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, the top House Republican on the congressional Joint Economic Committee, said that any of the GOP plans is better than President Barack Obama's economic approach.

Obama would effectively raise taxes on families earning more than $250,000 by allowing the temporary Bush-era tax cuts to expire, Brady said.

Next year's presidential election "is a clear choice of two paths," he said, "one with higher taxes or one with more taxpayers."

David Hendricks in San Antonio contributed to this report.
Sabtu, Oktober 29, 2011 | 0 komentar | Read More

No exit date for Kenyan mission in Somalia

The Kenyan military has no firm date for a withdrawal from Somalia, where it is battling al-Shabab fighters, the country's military chief has said.

General Julius Karanga was speaking to a news briefing in Nairobi on Saturday, as at least 10 people were killed in an attack on an African Union base in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

"When the Kenya government and the people of this country feel that they are safe enough from the al-Shabab menace, we shall pull back," Karangi said.

"Key success factors or indicators will be in the form of a highly degraded al-Shabab capacity."

Earlier this month, Kenya sent its own troops into Somalia following a string of cross-border attacks and kidnappings blamed on Somali gunmen and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group.

Both the UN and Ethiopia have earlier sent in forces into Somalia at different times in order to stablise the country during its 20-year civil war, but both were forced to withdraw without ending the conflict.

Karangi said that Kenya did not wish to permanently occupy Somalia, and that his forces were working alongside the UN-backed Somali government.

"We acted as a country on the spur of the moment," he said. "At no point did we plan to enter Somalia and annex territory there."

The Somali president has criticised the intervention, but Kenyan officials said they expected "clarification" from a high-level Somali delegation on Monday.

So far, Kenya has suffered one fatality due to al-Shabab fire, Karangi said. Five personnel were also killed when a helicopter crashed.

He said that hundreds of al-Shabab fighters had been killed in Kenyan operations, though he was not able to confirm that, or provide an exact figure.

'No allied involvement'

Responding to a question regarding any other countries operating in Somalia through the Kenyan intervention, General Karangi said that while Kenya had bilateral military agreements with several countries, they were not involved in Nairobi's Somalia operations.

"There has been a lot of talk about other friends of ours participating militarily in what we are engaged in, and the answer is no," he said.

"I think the American ambassador yesterday made it very clear ... that they are not militarily involved in the campaign with us."

Officials present at the briefing dismissed any speculation that the Kenyan government was ready to negotiate with al-Shabab.

"We will not negotiate with criminal terrorist groups," Francis Kimemia, permanent secretary at the internal security ministry said.

Yusuf Haji, the Kenyan defence minister, said that international forces in Somalia are soon to be strengthened by a boost in AMISOM, which consists at the moment of 9,000 Ugandan and Burundian troops.

Attack in Mogadishu

At least 10 people were killed in the attack on the AU base in Mogadishu, a Somali military official said.

The attackers were attempting to infiltrate a based manned by AMISOM, the AU's mission in Somalia, on Saturday.

"They were dressed in Somali military uniform and disguised as ordinary soldiers," said Colonel Nor Abdi.

"Then they tried to enter the base and AMISOM soldiers fired at them.

"Then heavy gunfire started and all of them were killed.

"I don't know how many they were but they were more than 10 men."

Mohammed Abdi, a local resident, said that he heard several large explosions take place near the base. The gunfight lasted for several hours and the final number of casualties was unclear.

Al-Shabab fighters claimed in a statement to have "stormed the AMISOM compound killing 80 Ugandan soldiers" in a battle that lasted over two hours, the AFP news agency reported.

AU troops have been deployed in Somalia since 2007, and now control almost all of the capital. They continue, however, to suffer frequent attacks.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since warlords overthrew the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party in 1991.
More than 600,000 Somali refugees have fled the fighting and famine in their homeland and now live in Kenya.
Sabtu, Oktober 29, 2011 | 0 komentar | Read More

Cardinals Are 2011 World Series Champions

SCOTT SIMON, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.


SIMON: And the St. Louis Cardinals are World Series champions. The Cards beat the Texas Rangers 6-2 in the 7th and deciding game last night, in a game that was cut and dried compared to the twisting, turning drama of game 6. But Cardinal fans can enjoy winning the team's 11th world championship, the second largest number in baseball history. NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman was there and filed this report.

TOM GOLDMAN: How do you follow up one of the greatest games in World Series history? Answer: it's hard.

(SOUNDBITE OF FIREWORKS) Oh, there was euphoria, and fireworks moments after the Rangers' David Murphy flied out to left field to end the game. But for chunks of the previous three hours and 17 minutes, Busch Stadium was weirdly quiet - white rally towels sometimes hanging limply. Of course, partly to blame was the hangover from epic game six the night before, when the Cardinals battled back after twice teetering, a strike away from elimination. Last night started with the look of a good sequel. The Rangers rang up St. Louis ace starting pitcher Chris Carpenter for two runs in the top of the first inning. In the bottom? The comeback Cards did it again. David Freese, a guy you'll hear more about in a bit, slugged a two-run double, wiping out the Rangers' early advantage. Texas manager Ron Washington was asked afterwards if that was like another punch to the gut, like so many the night before. He said no.

RON WASHINGTON: We wasn't behind. You're still in the ballgame. We just didn't get an opportunity the rest of the day to get that hit, to make that difference.

GOLDMAN: Now, far be it from any of us observers really to know what's happening on the field. But from off, it sure looked at times like the Rangers weren't making their opportunities. One hit in the final four innings? In game six, staring at elimination, the fire-breathing Cardinals scored in each of the final four innings. In Texas's defense, Chris Carpenter finally started throwing like the dominant pitcher he is. In the champagne-scented St. Louis clubhouse, Carp, who started on short, three-days' rest, explained his early struggles.

CHRIS CARPENTER: I was a little excited. You got to control the adrenaline, control what's going on in the early part of the game. And, obviously, you know, the command that I had early on wasn't as good as I'd like. But I was able to collect myself and make pitches when I had to...

GOLDMAN: And the Rangers didn't. The Texas pitching staff, especially the relievers, had been so dependable during this postseason. But a meltdown in the 5th inning was costly. St. Louis loaded the bases, then Texas relievers walked the man at the plate.


GOLDMAN: That bumped the Cardinals' lead to 4-2. The next batter...


GOLDMAN: ...was hit by the Texas pitcher, pushing in another run, 5-2. Not much more to say, which is really OK because the story of this World Series was so much bigger than the final workmanlike game. It was the story of David Freese, who grew up in St. Louis, being named World Series most valuable player on the heels of winning the MVP award for the National League championship series.

DAVID FREESE: No, I've had plenty of days in my life where I, you know, thought I wouldn't even be close to being a big leaguer. To do this is, you know, I'm just full of joy - finally.


GOLDMAN: It was the story of game 6, a classic that left Texas manager Washington wondering what if?

WASHINGTON: You know, if there's one thing that happened in this World Series that I'll look back on is being so close; just having one pitch to be made and one out to be gotten and it could've been a different story.

GOLDMAN: And so many other stories - the 9th inning Texas rally in game two; the Albert Pujols three-home-run barrage in game 3 that drew comparisons to a fellow named Babe Ruth; the bullpen phone debacle in game 5. After last night's confetti settled on the floor of Busch Stadium, it was the story of the Cardinals, behind 10 and a half games in late August, roaring back to make the playoffs on the last day of the regular season and then making the playoffs theirs. The comeback Cards finally in front - for good. Tom Goldman, NPR News, St. Louis.
Sabtu, Oktober 29, 2011 | 0 komentar | Read More

Live blog: Michael Moore crosses the Bay, visits Occupy SF

Occupy Oakland protesters have returned to Frank Ogawa Plaza, pitching some dozens of tents in front of City Hall at 14th Street and Broadway. City leaders have asked that no one camp in the plaza, but also said they would not move to oust demonstrators to avoid new confrontations.
3:55 p.m.: Michael Moore stops by Occupy San Francisco
Filmmaker Michael Moore, fresh off his Occupy Oakland visit the day before, crossed the Bay and spoke at the San Francisco encampment in Justin Herman Plaza this afternoon.
"He was awesome ... His coming here reaffirms and confirms what we're doing out here and how important it is," said Skud, a protestor camped there since Sept. 17.
Tony, who's been living in a tent in the plaza for two weeks, said Moore spoke about how the movement has spread.
"He spoke about Occupy Fayeteville and he spoke about how the Occupy Wall Street has spread to small towns," he said.
Tony was excited in the crowd diversity too.
"It's wonderful to see all these older hippies who had hung up their tie-dye for a suit and tie now coming back out and joining us," he said. "It's what makes us so strong."
The filmmaker is next heading to Occupy Grass Valley.
3:10 p.m.: Union members march along 14th Street
Union members marched up and down 14th Street for a short period of time, chanting: "We're fired up!" and "Si se puede!"
The group is dressed in purple SEIU T-shirts and many are United Long Term Care Workers.
After the brief flurry of activity, the group has stopped.
2:35 p.m.: Special city council public forum called for Thursday
The Oakland City Council rules committee has called a special council meeting Thursday to hear from the public about Occupy Oakland.
"The purpose of the public forum is to seek input from the public regarding the Occupy Oakland/Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, to hear from people affected by the demonstrations and response, and to develop a strategy for accommodating peaceful demonstrations going forward," the city administrator's news release said.
The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the council chambers.
Earlier Saturday, filmmaker Michael Moore dropped by the Occupy San Francisco encampment at Justin Herman Plaza and encouraged campers there. Moore visited Occupy Oakland on Friday, telling the crowd that they had galvanized the national movement.
1:05 p.m.: Occupy Oakland drums up support for general strike
Members of the movement have fanned out across Oakland, soliciting support for Wednesday's general strike to "shut down" the city.
A handful of people handed out fliers on Piedmont Avenue in the midst of a large Halloween parade for children, and went into nearby businesses to urge merchants to close their doors during the planned day of action.
"Liberate Oakland," the fliers read. "Shut down the 1 percent. General strike and mass day of action called for by Occupy Oakland on Wednesday, Nov. 1.
"Everyone to the streets! No work! No school! Converge on downtown Oakland to help shut down the city. Mass gathering at 14th and Broadway at 9 a.m. All banks and corporations must close down for the day or we will march on them."
12:25 p.m.: The curious flock to the camp
People curious about the new encampment are trickling in.
Two men in wigs seemed excited by the drumming while they walked through a passageway from Broadway to the plaza. After the percussion stopped, the men milled around, looking a little lost. A couple with three children walked through, looking like tourists on a sightseeing excursion.
Oakland firefighters just drove by in a rig. They didn't stop but peered from 14th Street toward the camp.
One man sat down to eat lunch on a nearby bench facing the amphitheater. He said he was wholeheartedly in support of the effort. "It's the protest of the 21st century."
Earlier, another man standing nearly in the same spot, had the opposite reaction. He resented what it cost the city to clean up and police an action that was just "whistling in the wind."
The banks and corporations haven't registered any effect of the movement, at least not in Oakland, he said, noting the CEOs are up in their offices counting their money.
The occupiers should take their protest to Sacramento, he said.
Oakland, he said, has been through enough.
12:10 p.m.: Planning continues for general strike
Drivers passing by the square are honking in support of the protesters. The assembly meeting in the amphitheater broke out into smaller groups to discuss outreach plans in advance of next week's general strike.
They'll team up in advance of Wednesday's action and try to get the community involved or at least make residents aware of what will be happening that day. They're calling on students and workers to join Occupy Oakland in the streets but they are still making specific plans. So far they've decided to form a picket line at the Port of Oakland. Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Workers union, which primarily represents dock workers, pledged not to break the line.
11:50 a.m.: Crowd grows at Occupy Oakland
A good hundred people have gathered in the amphitheater at Frank Ogawa Plaza, as the atmosphere in the camp has turned festive. About a dozen drummers are entertaining the campers and many people are dancing.
Photographers continue to take pictures around the camp. A camper who previously threatened a photographer has since apologized.
11:20 a.m.: No march
A march reportedly planned for 11 a.m. around Oakland doesn't appear as if it will get off the ground, as demonstrators are still waking up around the camp. A 5 p.m. meeting is apparently planned, however, to discuss Wednesday's general strike.
Some camp occupiers have told news photographers not to take pictures of the encampment or the people there. One resident threatened a photographer if he tried to take pictures.
9:40 a.m.: Reinforcements from New York?
One demonstrator says more tents will soon arrive at Frank Ogawa Plaza -- from supporters in New York.
Occupy Wall Street is reportedly going to send some tents to join the Oakland encampment. Protesters, who rose to a breakfast of apples, oranges and pastries, also say Occupy Wall Street is going to help out with some monetary donations, although that has not been confirmed.
9 a.m.: Organizing for health inspection
Workers in the Occupy Oakland camp kitchen are busy preparing for an expected visit from a health inspector.
One of the city's conditions on allowing the demonstrators to remain is that officials from the public health department and other agencies have access to the camp, and Saturday the group expects someone to drop by.
Oakland officials cited unsanitary conditions at the previous camp as one of the reasons they moved to shut it down. Asked what the camp would do differently this time to ensure those conditions don't return, one protester said they won't keep so much stuff lying around.
Other demonstrators are still waking, trying to organize for a planned 11 a.m. march.
8:30 a.m.: More tents by the minute
The fourth day of re-Occupy Oakland dawned Saturday with as many as 60 tents dotting the lawn in front of City Hall. One reporter said it seemed as if the tents were multiplying by the minute.
For every tent, there are probably quadruple the number of people in the camp, with many sleeping unsheltered on the ground in front of, behind and between tents.
The camp First Aid Station is up and running, and there's evidence the protesters are in it for the long haul. The tents have transformed the lawn into a checkerboard of blue, red, yellow, beige and army green. Yawning dogs stretch and scratch, waiting to be fed as their owners slowly emerged from their tents.
A woman on a bike rode by and yelled, "Good morning, Oakland."
Alicia Arnold and Steve Butler, two Oakland school teachers, were up early to help unload nine portable toilets paid for by donations, mostly from unions friendly to the cause.
Arnold and Butler's union, the Oakland Education Association, has been helping the movement by handling donations. The self-declared leaderless Occupy Oakland group does not have a bank account through which donations can be processed.
Protesters are planning an 11 a.m. "mass propaganda action" and march around the city, according to a tweet from @occupyoakland.
Rallies are also planned at 5 and 6 p.m. Saturday.
8 a.m.: Oakland teachers support general strike
In a news release Friday, the union representing Oakland teachers announced its unanimous endorsement of Occupy Oakland's general strike planned for Wednesday, and urged its members to "participate in a variety of ways, including taking personal leave to join actions at Frank Ogawa Plaza, doing informational picketing at school sites, and holding teach-ins on the history of general strikes and organizing for economic justice."
"We are the 99 percent!" trumpets the release from the Oakland Education Association, which has been supporting the demonstrators.
"Faced with growing class sizes and dwindling resources, school closures, and the ongoing attempts of charter management companies to entice Oakland schools to convert to charters, it is critical that we link our struggles with those of the 99 percent of Americans fighting for social and economic justice," the release said. "It is simply wrong that banks and corporations are bailed out and continue to reap huge profits, while schools and social services suffer."
Sabtu, Oktober 29, 2011 | 0 komentar | Read More

Air NZ 'surprised' by lack of notice from Qantas

The Qantas brand will be damaged by the decision to ground its fleet, Air New Zealand believes.

Passengers were left stranded after the decision to ground the fleet was made by Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, who said he had no choice but to take drastic action after weeks of stoppages.

Joyce said the ongoing dispute between Qantas and three unions: the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) is undermining confidence in the airline.
"We're currently working hard with our strategic partners, Virgin, in order to move capacity on to the Tasman and free up some flights for them to then deploy into domestic Australia," he said.

He said it is pretty hard to tell how long the grounding of flights will last.

"We're planning over the next few days we're getting ready to make sure our customers can get to and from Australia.

"Then the second phase will be getting more capactity on the Tasman and also getting some long haul capacity to make sure those Qantas customers who are being let down can get on with their holidays."

He said it is coming into a busy period with the Melbourne Cup coming up and this will create challenges.

Qantas New Zealand Pacific General Manager Rohan Garnett told ONE News he gives "full credit to our custmoers for sticking with us throughout this" and that they are taking things "hour by hour".

Rival offers additional services

Meanwhile, Qantas' rival Virgin Australia is getting hold of every plane it can.

Virgin has been working overnight to schedule additional services to assist affected Qantas passengers.

Virgin spokeswoman Melissa Thomson says the airline will use Virgin aircraft to offer over 3,000 extra seats today between the ports of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Karratha and Perth.

This is in addition to the 40,000 seats that Virgin has recently added to its domestic network for travel between 14 October 2011 and 31 January 2012.

Virgin has 140,000 seats available for sale on the domestic network through until Sunday 6 November 2011.

In total 108 aircraft will be grounded in 22 airports around the world.

Budget off-shoots Jetstar, Jet Asia, and Qantas freight services are not be affected.

Passengers fuming

Airline passengers left stranded in London's Heathrow Airport after Qantas grounded its fleet indefinitely are fuming.

The stranded passengers say they have been left without any assitance or any way to get back to Australia.

"There is nobody here to tell us what is going on and it seems to be impossible to get through to the phone number that Qantas is telling you to ring," Frank Riquelme from Liverpool, Sydney, told The Australian, after the grounding of the weekend's first Qantas flight from Heathrow.

"All we have had here at the airport is British Airways staff handing out a printed statement from Qantas that tells you to go online or call a phone number that doesn't answer."

A Qantas flight which was due to arrive in Auckland from Los Angeles at 09:10 has been cancelled.

One customer who has been waiting in line at Auckland International Airport for four hours told ONE News he feels like a hostage.

Another said the situation leaves a bad taste in her mouth.

"I've heard so many people say I'm never going to fly Qantas again," she said.

US Tourist Erik Welch told ONE News the passengers are not being taken care of.

"Somebody dropped the ball here...it shouldn't have gone this far."

The cancellations do not include transtasman flights which are operated by a subsidiary carrier under the Qantas brand.

Joyce also announced the lockout of all employees covered by the agreements that are currently in dispute.

The airline will offer hotel accommodation and alternative flights to those who are mid-journey and can't get home when the grounding takes effect.

And there will be refunds and ticket transfers available to passengers whose flights are cancelled.

"We're very sorry for all customers affected by the grounding. Full refunds will be available to those affected," Qantas says on its Facebook page.

Union demands

Joyce said his hand had been tipped by the impossible demands of the three unions.

"They are trashing our strategy and our brand," he said.

"They are deliberately destabilising the company and there is no end in sight."

He announced the lockout of staff involved will begin at 10pm NZ time on Monday.

"We are locking out until the unions withdraw their extreme claim and reach agreement with us," Joyce told a press conference today.

If the industrial action continued, Qantas would have no choice but to shut down its business "part by part", the chief executive said.

Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes told the NZ Herald that the airline did not seek government intervention or use a range of provisions under the Fair Work Act that could have delivered an earlier end to the dispute.

"Make no mistake: this is an ambush on the Australian people," he said.

Joyce believes the lockout and grounding of the fleet was the only effective avenue at his disposal to bring about a solution to the dispute.

Joyce said the ball was now in the unions' court.

"They must decide just how badly they want to hurt Qantas, their members ... and the travelling public," he said.
Sabtu, Oktober 29, 2011 | 0 komentar | Read More

Commonwealth leaders refuse to publish key report's findings

PERTH, Australia - Commonwealth leaders have ignored warnings that their decaying association will die without urgent reforms and have failed to reach significant agreement on how to ensure its member nations abide by human rights principles and the rule of law.

The development came Saturday, as the leaders spent the second day of their biennial gathering - known as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) - debating the merits of a report delivered by an advisory group established two years ago.

But instead of endorsing the report, the leaders adopted a distrustful view about its contents - even deciding that it should be kept secret and not be published.

The report by a panel of "eminent persons" which includes Canadian senator Hugh Segal called for major reforms to ensure the Commonwealth - which is quickly losing its international credibility - becomes relevant and avoids a slow slide to death.
The advisory group made 106 recommendations, including the establishment of a charter of the Commonwealth and the appointment of a Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights to keep track of whether member nations are persistently violating human rights, and who also would recommend "remedial action."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is attending the meeting, is a strong supporter of the report, as is his British counterpart, David Cameron.

But others within the association have strongly objected and dug in their heels to ensure its major recommendations go nowhere.

Among those said to be opposing the reforms are India, Nigeria, South Africa and Sri Lanka, which is facing accusations itself of war crimes and human rights violations in the final weeks of its civil war with the Tamil Tigers in 2009.

On Saturday, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, host of the meeting, acknowledged that some countries had blocked the proposal for a human rights commissioner.

"Australia and a number of delegations indicated that they were supportive of this proposal but there were a number of delegations concerned by it," she told reporters.

"And the Commonwealth is an organization that involves consensus in decision-making."

The leaders did agree to the creation next year of a Charter to "bring together the Commonwealth's values, principles and aspirations in one clear and powerful statement," said Gillard.

But the leaders have effectively decided to deep-six the proposal for a human rights commissioner.

That recommendation will be sent to a committee for review, a move that members of the eminent persons group had feared would mean the idea is shelved.

Even before the leaders held their closed door discussions, members of the advisory group acknowledged at a news conference Saturday that they saw a troubling development emerging.

Segal noted that his group's 205-page report concluded that the Commonwealth had to be more proactive and acknowledge that "silence is not an option" when some countries are violating the human rights of their own citizens.

"Clearly there are some people at this meeting for whom silence is the best option," said Segal. "Would silence have been a way to bring apartheid to an end?"

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the British member of the group, said it was a "disgrace" that the leaders refused to publish the report.

"The Commonwealth faces a very significant problem," he said.

"It's not a problem of hostility or antagonism. It's more of a problem of indifference. Its purpose is being questioned, its relevance is being questioned and part of that is because its commitment to enforce the values for which it stands is becoming ambiguous in the eyes of many member states.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the former prime minister of Malaysia who chaired the advisory group, warned that the leaders were in danger of making a big mistake if they left the summit without major progress.

"There is no doubt that this CHOGM is expected to deliver meaningful reforms of the Commonwealth," he said.

"If this CHOGM does not deliver such reforms, it is our duty to sound the caution to you that this CHOGM will be remembered not as the triumph it should be, but as a failure."

Even by the time this year's summit began, it had become increasingly clear that the Commonwealth is losing its relevance.

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, whose country's 1.2 billion people constitute half the population of the entire Commonwealth, chose not to attend the meeting.

Indeed, about one third of the countries chose not to send their head of government to the summit - opting instead to send a foreign affairs minister or senior diplomat.

At their last meeting in 2009, it appeared the Commonwealth leaders were aware of their own association's deterioration when they appointed the 11-member eminent persons group to propose modernization reforms.

The result was a hard-hitting report that is filled with constructive recommendations but which pulls no punches.

It says the Commonwealth has a "proud record" in past times of responding to serious violations of human rights by its member countries - including apartheid in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, the "excesses" of dictator Idi Amin in Uganda, and military coups in Nigeria, Fiji, Sierra Leone and Pakistan.

In each case, the Commonwealth intervened, through actions ranging from condemnation to sanctions, such as suspension from the organization.

But it concluded there has been a growing criticism in recent years that the Commonwealth does not take a stand, at least in public, on violations of its values by its member states, other than in the case of the unconstitutional removal of governments.

"This failure by the Commonwealth is seen as a decay that has set in to the body of the organization and one that will occasion the association's irrelevance - if not its actual demise - unless it is promptly addressed."

As the conference began on Friday, Segal met with reporters, warning that the Commonwealth is at a crossroads.

"The organization will either be seen as an instrument for modern co-operation between sovereign states with common values, or it will be seen as a vestige of history with no role to play in the future."
Sabtu, Oktober 29, 2011 | 0 komentar | Read More

We've a pious, capable king: Naif

RIYADH: Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, on Saturday commended the important role played by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah in steering Saudi Arabia to greater progress, prosperity and stability at a time when the whole region is going through crises and political disturbances.

“We thank God, we have a pious, understanding and capable king and we have a faithful and trustworthy people,” Prince Naif said while receiving royal family members, the grand mufti, ministers, senior Islamic scholars, and civilian, military and security officers who came to pledge their allegiance at his palace.

Prince Naif thanked King Abdullah for his confidence in him, adding that he considered the position of crown prince as a big responsibility. “I pray to the Almighty to help me carry out my duties in the best manner and give me the power to take right decisions,” he said, while praising the unity and cohesion between the Saudi people and their leadership.

The crown prince also paid tribute to Prince Sultan, who died on Oct. 22, and commended his contributions toward the Kingdom’s development. “We have learned a lot from Prince Sultan’s life and dealings and we’ll follow his methodology under the leadership of King Abdullah and his directives,” he added.

Prince Naif said he had got an opportunity to work with all the Saudi kings beginning from his father King Abdul Aziz. “King Abdullah has taught us how to serve the nation and how to dedicate our lives in the service of the Ummah. We have passed through difficult situations when the king was not worried about anything except the safety of citizens and the Kingdom … Despite the disturbances surrounding us, he was able to make the Kingdom a stable and secure country as a result of his strong leadership. This is a great blessing from God,” the prince said.

Many of those who came to swear their allegiance to the crown prince waited their turn in the crowd to greet him and shake his hand.

On arrival at the venue, Prince Naif was received by Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman, and Vice Gov. Prince Sattan. First among the high-profile people to reach the Riyadh governorate were Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Culture and Information Abdul Aziz Khoja and Minister of Finance Ibrahim Al-Assaf. Prince Saud bin Naif, assistant interior minister for public affairs, and Prince Mohammed bin Naif, assistant interior minister for security affairs; along with several other princes and officials accompanied Crown Prince Naif.

Congratulatory messages and greetings poured in from foreign dignitaries including diplomats and foreign officials. The new crown prince received Saudi citizens at the governorate, where a huge crowd of ordinary citizens were seen rubbing shoulders with the royalty and high-ranking officials. The ceremony was open to all citizens who made a beeline for the event, in keeping with tradition. Citizens from other regions in the Kingdom will be able to pledge allegiance on Sunday to provincial governors.

Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, secretary general of Shoura Council, also congratulated Prince Naif. He lauded the efforts of Prince Naif in ensuring internal security in the Kingdom.

"In line with the fifth article of the basic rule system, members of the royal family as well as Saudi citizens are required to pledge allegiance to Crown Prince Naif," said an informed source, adding that prominent Islamic scholars of Saudi Arabia including Grand Mufti Al-Asheikh and Saleh Al-Wohaibi, secretary-general of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), have called on Saudi citizens to pledge allegiance.

Congratulating Crown Prince Naif on his appointment, the grand mufti expressed happiness and said: "Allah will help us and will give strength to our leaders to run the affairs of the nation successfully."

Al-Wohaibi said: "Prince Naif has always supported charities and Islamic workers locally as well as globally." The WAMY chief also said that the citizens hoped that Crown Prince Naif will help to create jobs for thousands of university graduates and begin weaning the Saudi economy off its total dependence on oil.

He called on the prince to attend to the needs of Saudi youth and to ensure more employment opportunities for young people in the country. Al-Wohaibi said he was "praying to Allah to give him more strength, vision and spiritual support to enable him to do more for his people and for the Muslim Ummah worldwide."

Diplomats in Riyadh congratulated the crown prince and said they expect him to strengthen the Kingdom's ties with other countries, especially its allies.

In a message emailed to Arab News on Saturday, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said: "Your appointment as the crown prince is a clear testimony to the trust and confidence that the people of Saudi Arabia and King Abdullah repose in your leadership." Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed strong ties for decades, and Bangladesh attaches great importance to its fraternal bonds with Saudi Arabia, said Hasina.

"I firmly believe that the existing excellent relations would be further strengthened and consolidated in the coming days and will take new heights under your able leadership, wisdom and sagacity," said the Bangladesh premier, wishing Crown Prince Naif good health and happiness.

Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman also congratulated the crown prince in a separate message sent to Arab News.

In another congratulatory note, Ambassador Luigi Narbone, head of the European Union delegation in Riyadh, said: "It is my great honor to congratulate Prince Naif on his appointment as crown prince and deputy prime minister. Crown Prince Naif is widely known and respected for his significant contribution to development and stability of the Kingdom. The EU is looking forward to working with Crown Prince Naif in his new capacity and to further strengthening the ties between the EU and Saudi Arabia," he added.

"Crown Prince Naif has been helping one and all and this is the reward of this helpful attitude from God", said an octogenarian Saudi citizen, who was waiting to swear his allegiance in the capital.

"The most visible of these challenges is terrorism linked to Al-Qaeda, which has been crushed by Crown Prince Naif," said a Western diplomat. "Thursday's appointment of Crown Prince Naif was a source of satisfaction for all Saudis," said Hassan Al-Qahtani, a senior Saudi citizen, who came to the governorate to greet the prince.

Crown Prince Naif "well deserved the position given his security and political experience and given his leadership skills and his stature in the Arab world," said Abdulrahman A. Fahd, another Saudi citizen who runs his own business in the city’s Al-Rabwa district.
Sabtu, Oktober 29, 2011 | 0 komentar | Read More