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Friday, December 31, 2010

UPDATE 3-Car bomb hits church in Egypt, seven dead

01 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Ministry says seven dead, 24 wounded in church blast

* Incident sparks sectarian protests, scuffles

* Rights groups say sectarian violence on the rise

(Adds ministry statement, background)

By Yasmine Saleh and Marwa Awad

CAIRO, Jan 1 (Reuters) - A car bomb exploded outside a church and killed seven people in Egypt's northern city of Alexandria as worshippers gathered to mark the New Year, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday.

It said a further 24 people were wounded in the incident, which swiftly prompted hundreds of Christians to take to the street in protest. Some Christians and Muslims pelted each other with rocks, a witness said. Cars were torched.

Christians in Muslim-majority Egypt make up about 10 percent of the nation's 79 million people. Tensions can flare into violence, often over issues such as the building of churches or relationships between members of the two communities.

"We sacrifice our souls and blood for the Cross," shouted Christians near the Coptic Orthodox church where the blast struck, the witness said.

Police used teargas to disperse the crowd. Ambulances were also at the scene where medical personnel gathered body parts that were scattered over the area by the blast.

"This is a scene from Baghdad," one witness told Reuters by telephone, a reference to explosions more commonly seen in Iraq.

A statement from the Interior Ministry said the blast occurred just after midnight in front of the church after a service to mark the New Year. It said the blast damaged a mosque near the church and eight Muslims were among the 24 wounded.

The ministry said an investigation about the incident had begun to find out who was responsible.

"The preliminary investigation indicates that a car was the reason behind the explosion. It was parked in front of the church and had been assumed to belong to one of the people who often come to the church," said the statement, which was read to Reuters by a ministry official.

Egypt, which will hold a presidential election in September, had stepped up security around churches, restricting cars from parking directly outside them, after an al Qaeda-linked group issued a threat against the church in Egypt in November.

The al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq, which claimed an attack on a church in Baghdad in November, threatened the Egyptian church over its treatment of women the group said the church was holding after they had converted to Islam. [ID:nLDE6A01R6]

Rights groups say the number of violent sectarian incidents have been rising in Egypt.

In November, hundreds of Christians clashed with riot police, as well as some Muslims who joined in, during a protest over a decision to halt construction of a church. Officials said the church did not have a licence to be built. [ID:nLDE6AN0G3]

Two Christians died as a result of those clashes and dozens were hurt, medical sources said. More than 150 were detained. [ID:nLDE6AP1MG]

Analysts say the state must address grievances such as those over laws making it easier to build a mosque than a church if it wants to stem such sectarian violence.

Officials are swift to play down sectarian differences and are particularly sensitive to emphasise national harmony after a a parliamentary election in November that opposition groups said was rigged and before the presidential poll.

President Hosni Mubarak, 82 and in power since 1981, is expected to run again, if he is able. Gallbladder surgery last March rekindle questions about his health, although he has returned to a full schedule. (Additional reporting by Mohamed Abdellah; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Alison Williams)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Real Estate & Legal Professional Services in Canada: Suggestions

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If you've been undecided on the real estate sidelines here is your chance to start building a solid foundation for yourself and your family.If you are having a plan but can't decide about its execution, I can help you in decision making regarding selling, buying, leasing, renting any residential, commercial, business oriented properties.

There are millions of families who sent their sons and daughters for higher studies in Canada, think about expenses of living in a rental unit for 4 to 5 years. The cost of rent and other utilities may surpassed present market value of brand new condominium. So why not own your own house, your own property, which can be utilized not for 1 or 2 siblings but this future investment will continue pay cash forever and furthermore you can handover keys to your direct relatives or sibllings whenever they plan to travel Canada, they can peacefully land, study and rest in their own house under your own roof rather then draining your hard earned money in the shape of rent.

Feel free to contact about further details , your intention and type of properties you are interested in and for any kind of services or help you are looking.


Top 10 investing tips for 2011By Don Taylor, Ph.D.,CFA • Bankrate.com
100 Tips for 2011 » Top 10 investing tips for 2011

With an economy still on the mend and unemployment stubbornly high, it's important to make the best investing decisions for you and your family. The best strategy blends managing risk while investing to get the most bang for your buck.

10 investing tips

1.Define or refine your life goals
2.Get the big picture
3.Create an investment policy
4.Know your risk tolerance
5.Review and rebalance portfolio
6.Establish an emergency fund
7.Review your approved list
8.Roth IRA conversions and more(A reportable movement of assets from a Traditional, SEP or SIMPLE IRA to a Roth IRA. The movement of assets may be taxable.

9.Estimate your retirement needs
10.Capture match in retirement plan
Take these baby steps and follow the rest of Bankrate.com's 100 tips for 2011 and you can improve your financial life in the coming year.

Define or refine your life goals
What do you want out of life?

The trend in financial planning is to work with people to help them determine what they want out of life, and then establish financial objectives that will facilitate the client's ability to achieve those life goals. Money becomes the catalyst instead of the goal.

Don't get drawn into the vague generalities of a comfortable retirement, an education for your children or travel abroad. When you know what you're working toward, you'll be more committed to investing for those goals. The Bankrate feature, "Use investments to reach your goals," can help you get started.

Get the big picture of your financial plan

Financial planning is a lot more than just managing your investments. A comprehensive financial plan looks at the big picture. It includes a review of your insurance, employee benefits, income taxes, investments, retirement and estate planning, as well as personal financial statements, your attitudes toward risk, and your goals.
A good planner is the captain of your financial ship. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. has a wealth of consumer-friendly information, including the publication, "How to choose a financial planner." The Bankrate feature, "Financial planners: not just for millionaires anymore," gives additional insight.

Create an investment policy statement

Whether you do it yourself or work with a financial planner, you should have an investment policy statement that serves as a guide on how you want to invest.
This guide should include the investor's philosophy toward investing, investment objectives, the investor's attitude toward risk, a target asset allocation, guidelines for monitoring portfolio performance and an approach to portfolio rebalancing.

Other items should cover tax considerations, estate planning goals, fees and expenses, and trading costs. It should spell out an approved list of investments, and whether the investor allows trading on margin, short selling and investing in derivative securities. And it should also spell out whether the investor's account allows discretionary trading by the account manager.

Know your risk tolerance
Know how you feel about risk in investing.
The "Investment Risk Tolerance Quiz" offered by Rutgers University's New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, can give you a quick read on your risk tolerance. If you find yourself tossing and turning at night and it's not your mattress but rather the markets keeping you awake, then it's time to dial down the risk in your portfolio.


Knowing your risk tolerance will help you decide how to invest your money. Conservative investors may not be comfortable with investing much money in the stock market because of its volatility. Lower volatility means lower potential returns, so a conservative investor will have to save a higher percentage of his income to be on track to meet his financial goals.

Investors have to manage their investments considering twin risks: the risk that their investments lose principal and the risk that their investments lose purchasing power. Conservative investors can protect principal by investing in certificates of deposit insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but the FDIC doesn't protect the purchasing power of those deposits. Keep an eye on your purchasing power, too.

Review and rebalance your portfolio

Calendar rebalancing is one approach to adjusting how you've invested. Others include target rebalancing and tactical rebalancing. Calendar rebalancing has you adjust your portfolio on a regular basis. Target rebalancing waits until an asset allocation is above (or below) the maximum (or minimum) target asset allocation. Tactical asset allocation has you reducing or increasing the allocation to an asset class based on your outlook for that asset class.
An active management portfolio strategy that rebalances the percentage of assets held in various categories in order to take advantage of market pricing anomalies or strong market sectors.

Investment allocations in financial securities are typically split between stocks, bonds and cash. The investment allocation that's right for you will depend on your risk tolerance, investment goals and market outlook. You may decide that an allocation of 50 percent stocks, 30 percent bonds and 20 percent cash is right for you. If this year's stock performance brought your stock allocation up to 60 percent, then rebalancing the portfolio will get you back to your target allocation.

Tax and other considerations like estate planning can influence your desire and ability to rebalance your portfolio.

Establish an emergency fund

Establishing an emergency fund is where most consumers should start investing.
Starting out, it's best for the money to be invested in liquid and safe investments like a money market account or a money market mutual fund.

Financial planners typically suggest the fund hold three to six months' in living expenses. The more risk you face in the workplace, the more you should have available. The Bankrate feature, "Creating an emergency fund," will help.

Counting on cash advances from your credit cards or loans from your 401(k) plan are not viable financial backstops because the credit card companies can raise the interest rates to obscene percentages and a plan loan won't help you if your financial emergency is getting laid off from your job since a 401(k) loan comes due when you leave an employer.


Review your approved list

Your "approved list" is the stocks and bonds you're willing to invest in and the cash you plan to hold. Even within those basic categories you can invest in individual securities, mutual funds or exchange-traded funds, or ETFs.
If your portfolio doesn't have an international component, looking beyond domestic investments can make sense, and not just for stocks.

Expanding the list to include commodities, precious metals and real estate can give your portfolio diversification. Learning how to hedge portfolio risk with options and futures contracts is best left to a discussion between you and your investment professional.

Roth IRA conversions and more

The Internal Revenue Service removed the income limitations for Roth IRA conversions, starting in the 2010 tax year. Unfortunately, there are still income limitations on who can contribute to a Roth IRA. That forces taxpayers with incomes above the contribution limits who want to hold retirement assets in a Roth IRA to perform the intermediate step of contributing to a traditional IRA and then making a converting contribution to a Roth IRA.
If investment returns don't pan out, taxpayers have the ability to recharacterize their Roth IRA contribution as a contribution to a traditional IRA. The taxpayer has this option up until Oct. 15 of the tax year following the conversion year. Converting in January 2011 gives you the flexibility to recharacterize over 21 months. Investors should have a better read on the recovery and tax code changes over that time span.

Work with your tax professional to determine if converting your traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs makes sense.

Estimate your retirement nest egg needs
You need a sense of how big your investment portfolio should be at retirement. The Employee Benefit Research Institute's 2010 Retirement Confidence Survey concluded that only 46 percent of workers or their spouses have attempted to estimate their retirement nest egg needs.
If you construct a household spending plan (or budget), you can use the total annual expenses as a guide to what you might need in retirement.

Financial planner recommendations typically range from 75 percent to 100 percent of your annual expenses while working, but exclude money budgeted for retirement savings. You'll be taking distributions from these accounts, not funding them.

Bankrate's retirement calculators can help you right-size your nest egg by estimating your income needs in retirement, considering how much you have already put aside and deciding on your pre-retirement savings goals.

Capture the match in your retirement plan

If your company's 401(k) or 403(b) plan has your employer matching contributions, then you should contribute up to the limits of the company match. A typical 401(k) matching program has the employer contributing 50 cents for every dollar you contribute up to a limit of 3 percent of salary. You contribute 6 percent, the company contributes 3 percent, and you just made a 50 percent return on your money.

Read more: Dr. Dons Top 10 investing tips for 2011 http://www.bankrate.com/finance/investing/dr-don-s-top-10-investing-tips-for-2011-1.aspx#ixzz19kgCzpWk


MURB; Park License; Real Estate Career; Appreciation; Market Value; FMV; Construction; Builders


Mortgage Rule Changes:
CMHC insured mortgages only. Less than 20% down payment.

Home Buyers:

Amortization (repayment length) reduced from 35 years to 30 years. This will not have a large impact on qualifying for a mortgage.
Home Equity Loan (line of credit secured by a mortgage) maximum 80% of the purchase price. This is not new.

Refinance: (of a currently owned property, not a purchase)

Maximum mortgage advance 85% of the appraised value, down from 90%.
Home Equity Loan (line of credit secured by a mortgage) maximum 80% of the appraised value. This is not new.
Down Payment:
5% down payment still available for purchases.


In this photo taken Saturday, April 3, 2010, a home for sale is seen in the Jadriyah neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq. Ali Al-Robaie in Baghdad, Derrick Turner and Ishraf Ahmad in St. Paul, are equal partners in a unique, globe-spanning effort to connect Iraqi property owners in the U.S. with potential buyers back in the country. Seven years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq and less than six months from the promised end of combat operations there, they're in their second year of treading where many larger U.S. companies are still afraid to go.

January is the new March: Put your house on the market this month to reap the rewards
By Mark Hughes-morgan
Last updated at 1:20 PM on 21st January 2011
Comments (5) Add to My Stories Although it may come as a surprise to nature-lovers, spring is already here in the property market, ­according to a growing number of ­estate agents.

It has been getting earlier over the past decade, and now, it seems, January is the new March. The property portal, Zoopla, has seen inquiries rise to more than three times the number at the beginning of last year.

During the first four days of January, there were more than a million property searches on the site, more than double last year’s early tally.
Early bird: Over Christmas, potential buyers and sellers are busy making plans, so January can be a prime time to sell

The new early-bird market has grown due to a variety of factors, from new technology to a revived City bonus season. The autumn market, which used to be almost as important as the spring, has been squeezed by long summer ­holidays and the pre-Christmas run-up.

Over Christmas, however, potential buyers and sellers are busy making plans.

Thanks to the rise of internet property searches, couples can crowd round the glowing yuletide laptop to register with agents. As soon as the holiday break is over, they are raring to go.

‘If you want to beat the market, by the third week of January you want to be up and running,’ says Mark Jamieson of country property specialists Strutt & Parker, who reports that a number of the agency’s offices have had full appointment books for viewings in January.

Marketing plans were drawn up for many of their properties last October and November, ready to launch in the new year.

The London property market hardly goes into hibernation at all, and last year the pre-Christmas London market went on much longer, too — it was still going until mid-December, says Justin Bhoday of Kinleigh, Folkard & Hayward. He reports that the Kennington, ­South London, office of KFH made two sales from scratch between January 5 and January 12.

Hamptons International ran a marketing campaign to prepare people for the January market this year — it reports that viewing ­diaries are filling up throughout the Home Counties.

‘In 2010, we saw a 280 per cent increase in interested buyers over December 2009,’ says Peter ­Everett of Hamptons, which also undertook to keep the VAT on its fees at 17.5 per cent for early birds.

Michael and Susan Pratt, a retired couple in their 60s, have put their five-bedroom Seventies house in the Buckinghamshire countryside, six miles from High Wycombe, on the ­market with Hamptons for just under £1.4 million. The couple want to release some equity and spend more time travelling.

With nearly an acre of garden, the property does look its best in spring and summer. The Pratts have kept the house and garden in good ­condition, and decided there were enough reasons to go now.

‘We would like to build something locally, so we want to get moving,’ says Mr Pratt. ‘If we put it on later, it’s possible we might get a higher price, but with all the City bonuses being paid now, we think it would be good to get ahead of the game.’

For seaside property or the ­countryside, sunshine and flowers are still an important aid to a sale, but for London and the Home Counties, the early-bird market is significant. Sorting out your plans in January can also take a certain amount of stress out of the rest of the year — starting children in new schools, for example.

‘If the sale is agreed early, longer completion dates are much more palatable,’
says Mark Jamieson of Strutt & Parker.

There is one important caveat, however: if the weather turns bad, it can kill the market stone dead.
David Shiel, who runs a market research ­business in Newcastle, has his fingers crossed. He and his wife, Gillian, have put their pretty, four-bedroom Grade II-listed ­cottage in the Tyne Valley in Northumberland on the market with Strutt & Parker because they want to move into a new-build property closer to his work.

‘The snow was unbelievable before Christmas — my wife and I have 4x4s and we were having to tow the neighbours, but it’s fine now. We haven’t even approved the details and we have already had people viewing.’

The Shiels had the foresight to take some photographs of their house and garden in the summer, which now have pride of place in the sales brochure.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/property/article-1349177/January-new-March-Put-house-market-month-reap-rewards.html#ixzz1C143bv1c

For Foreign Iraqis, Pakistanis like Canadians, Americans,Britishers, Europeans who are living abroad, feel free to contact the poster/blogger to buy or sell, exchange ,appraise real estate properties in Iraq,PAKAFG, Canada.

While the public perception of Iraq, Afghanistan is still one of high risk, and it is admittedly far from being a developed economy, the financial markets are already beginning to recognise Iraq’s improving outlook.

If you’re considering taking advantage of these new developments in Iraq, RAW and THAQALAIN are here to help you. For more information please contact Thaqalain or Mahdi.


Q+A: Will 'land grab' rules benefit developing countries?
14 Jul 2010 14:47

Source: alertnet // olesya-dmitracova

LONDON (AlertNet) - The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is leading efforts to draw up the first ever global guidelines to ensure land access for farmers and investors, boost food security and prevent arbitrary land grabs.

The high food prices that sparked riots and supply scares in 2008 have pushed countries such as Saudi Arabia, China and South Korea to seek farmland abroad to feed their growing populations, a practice that has prompted criticism for harming the interests of local people.
Investors have also been leasing land abroad for mining, timber and tourism.

Since 2006, foreign buyers have acquired or are negotiating to acquire between 15 million and 50 million hectares(124 Million Acres) of farmland in poorer nations, according to different estimates released in the past year. Ongoing research by the International Land Coalition indicates the real figure could be many times higher.

Problems relating to land tenure are often caused by weak governance, the FAO said in October when it set out to develop the voluntary guidelines.

Based on consultations with governments, the private sector, farmers, indigenous groups, local authorities, academics and independent experts, the organisation plans to produce a draft of the new guidelines in October 2010.


The guidelines will be based on seven broad principles, developed by the World Bank and U.N. bodies – the FAO, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The principles were laid out in a January 2010 publication by the four bodies and are summarised below.

Governments and investors must:

1. Respect existing rights to land
This applies to both use and ownership rights, whether statutory or customary, primary or secondary, formal or informal, group or individual.

"There are few areas truly 'unoccupied' or 'unclaimed'," the publication says. "Frequently land classified as such is in fact subject to long-standing rights of use, access and management based on custom."

Ways to ensure all rights to land are respected include paying the holders of the rights fairly and promptly, and allowing any disputes to be resolved via independent channels.

Particular attention should be paid to lands abandoned by their owners or users due to conflict or a natural disaster and which may be reclaimed later, and to the land rights of often-neglected herders, women and indigenous groups.

2. Ensure investments prevent hunger

If a land lease or acquisition threatens the supply of food for those who lived off the land previously, policy-makers must provide them with job opportunities outside farming.
Also, "attention should be given to improving the people's ability to purchase food by ... generating downstream employment in packing sheds, processing operations, or ancillary services such as handling, transport or marketing", the paper says.

Another way to prevent a land lease contributing to a food crisis in the host country is to write provisions into investment agreements that prevent the export of large amounts of food from that country under specific market conditions.
3. Make processes for investing in land transparent, and work on improving business, legal and regulatory conditions
Lack of transparency creates distrust, leads to allegations of corruption and fuels conflicts, the publication says.

Its recommendations include making all relevant information - such as requests for land, key features of prospective investments and potential tax revenues - publicly available, and regularly auditing institutions that handle the selection and transfer of land to investors.
As examples of good practice, the paper cites websites in Cambodia and Sudan that provide information on investors’ requests for land and the digitising of land records in India which has reduced corruption and increased the number of deals.

Many land investors say they are reluctant to put money into countries with constricting business rules and biased or weak enforcement of policies. Dialogue between investors, governments and other affected people can help improve the investment environment.

4. Consult all those materially affected, and record and enforce the resulting agreements

If the people affected by a land deal are not consulted, they are likely to become worse-off.

They could, for instance, lose their rights to a plot of land without due compensation, see their surrounding environment deteriorate, lose access to a culturally important area or miss out on possible profits from the land - all of which can lead to conflict, the paper says. They should be given the opportunity to turn down land investors.

5. Ensure projects respect the rule of law and industry best practice, and are economically viable

Investors should "strive not only to increase shareholder value but also to generate significant and tangible benefits for the project area, affected communities and host country".

6. Work to generate positive and fairly distributed social effects

Neither governments nor investors tend to focus on the social effects of investments in land. Yet even economically viable projects can have negative social consequences by forcing people to relocate without due compensation, for example, or if local elites capture all the economic benefits.

Governments and investors should collaborate to make sure their land deals produce social benefits such as improvements in infrastructure, transfers of technology and expertise, and job creation.

The publication cites the Sichuan Urban Development Project as an example of how to compensate fairly people who are asked to leave their farmland.

The farmers were consulted before the project started, and as a result, the government committed to provide them for life with the same amount of income they used to derive from their land and gave them access to training courses to help them find new jobs.

7. Analyse and minimise negative environmental impacts

Investors have little incentive to take into account their projects' impacts on natural resources and the environment outside the immediate project area or beyond its lifespan. Regulators - local, national or global - should therefore ensure investors prevent negative environmental effects, such as reduced access to water for local people or worse soil quality.

The paper recommends conducting an independent analysis of possible environmental impacts of a land project before it is approved; reclaiming or increasing productivity of areas already used rather than clearing new land; choosing a production system that uses natural resources most efficiently; and monitoring the project's effects during its implementation.



"If done well, resource-intensive agro-investments can generate new and higher-paying jobs, upgrade the skills of the labour force, facilitate technology transfer, open new and better markets, and generate complementary infrastructure," the four institutions say in their publication.

Investment in farming is something Africa - where many farmland deals have been made - sorely needs, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in May.

"African agriculture faces multiple constraints, ranging from lack of access to water and modern inputs to poor rural infrastructure... Underinvestment in agriculture has been the core reason for African hunger and malnutrition," he said in a statement.

Lorenzo Cotula, a senior researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), also wrote in March that farmland deals can be good news for local populations when not made behind closed doors.

"The key problem is the lack of transparency in the ways governments make land available to investors. This opens the door to corruption and means the rich and powerful can capture the benefits of land deals without sharing them fairly," he said.

Such investments can also produce environmental benefits, according to the World Bank/FAO/UNCTAD/IFAD paper.

For example, large-scale operations in the southernmost areas of South America have pioneered the routine use of GPS to monitor soil and plant conditions and so reduce the amount of fuel and fertiliser needed.

Opponents of land grabbing say the capital, technology and expertise from large land investments are unlikely to trickle down to poor farmers.

More than 100 social organisations and movements said in a statement in April:
"These principles will not accomplish their ostensible objectives. They are rather a move to try to legitimise land grabbing. Facilitating the long-term corporate (foreign and domestic) takeover of rural people's farmlands is completely unacceptable no matter which guidelines are followed."(The principles) aim to distract from the fact that today'’s global food crisis, marked by more than 1 billion people going hungry each day, will not be solved by large-scale industrial agriculture."

They proposed the following alternative measures:

- Keep land in the hands of local communities and implement agrarian reform to ensure all citizens have equal access to land and natural resources

- Strongly support small-scale farmers, fishermen and shepherds to help them produce ample, healthy and safe food

- Overhaul farm and trade policies and support local and regional markets

- Enforce strict regulations that curb the access of corporations and other powerful actors - state and private - to agricultural, coastal and grazing lands, forests and wetlands.
Sources/further reading:

- "Principles for responsible agricultural investment that respects rights, livelihoods and resources" by FAO, IFAD, UNCTAD and the World Bank


- "Land grab or development opportunity? Agricultural investment and international land deals in Africa" by IIED, FAO and IFAD


- "Deals can be good news when not made behind closed doors" by Lorenzo Cotula of IIED


How Net Asset Value is Calculated

by ShareRoundup on Feb 7, 2011 • 1:29 am
Net Asset Value (NAV) represents the estimated value of a companies combined assets. It can often take into account assets which are not certain or are intangible, such as potential oil in place , and as such is only an estimate. The NAV can however be a strong indicator as to the potential of a companies share price, as theoretically the share price should reflect the value a companies net assets, though cannot be relied upon when making any investment decision.

How the Net Asset Value is calculated

Example: GKP

To calculate the net asset value, take GKP’s Shaikan block for instance, we have taken the estimated oil in place (OIP), the mean estimate for Shaikan being 4.2 billion barrels, and multiplied that by the recovery factor (35%), then by the diluted working interest (51%), taken off the Kurdistan Regional Government’s 40% tax on profits, and finally multiplied by the estimated profit per barrel ($7.20). For Shaikan, this process places its value at $3.24 billion. Converting this into British Pounds, Shaikan’s value to GKP is £2.01 billion.

Shaikan’s value can also be calculated per share. Taking its value of £2.01 billion, we can then divide by the number of shares GKP has in issue; 754.2 million. This values Shaikan at 266p a share; considerably higher than its current share price of around 170p currently, based on this one asset alone.

The risked Net Asset Value can also be calculated, by dividing the NAV with the chance of success. The chance of success has been estimated at 50%, taking into account the chance of finding oil based on the seismic surveys, as well as the chance that political problems in Iraq may interfere. The risked NAV of Shaikan is therefore 50% of £2.01 billion; £1 billion or £1.33 a share.

GKP can also be valued on a per barrel of oil basis; dividing the market cap by number of barrels of oil in place. For GKP this would then be £1.26147 billion (market cap) divided by an estimated 9.3 billion barrels of oil; 13.5p or 21.5 cents a barrel. This calculation could be considered a huge simplification of a company’s value, as it does not take into account any costs.

In the calculations, several assumptions were made, mainly because specific data was not available.

1) The recovery factor is 35%. Recovery factors are generally between 20% and 50%, and GKP have not indicated a specific estimate for the recovery factor of each well. The recovery factor could be as low as 15% or as high as 70% (as Hertiage (HOIL) optimistically estimated was possible in Kurdistan); but there is no way to know for sure, and any NAV calculation would be significantly affected by an incorrect recovery factor. The recovery factor is the percentage of oil that can be recovered from each well; so 35% would mean that 35 barrels of oil would be recovered from a 100 barrel find.

2) That the profit per barrel of oil would be 8% of the current price of oil; $90. 8% is a conservative estimate, and 10% to 15% could be expected, but Shaikan’s crude is heavy and requires a discount. The price of oil has also been predicted to rise significantly throughout 2011 and beyond, and any increase in the price of oil would increase GKP’s NAV.

3) The chance of success is 50%; about average for a Kurdistan drill.

4) The diluted working interest was used, rather than the working interest. The diluted working interest is more relevant as it takes into account the Kurdish governments back-in rights; which would most likely be utilised if the drills were successful.


Top Eight Mistakes First-Time Buyers Make when Shopping for a New Home

For most people, purchasing a home is the largest investment they will ever make For those who have taken the plunge, they understand it is a complex endeavor which requires preparation and education

For most people, purchasing a home is the largest investment they will ever make. For those who have taken the plunge, they understand it is a complex endeavor which requires preparation and education. Since a home could cost 25 to 45 percent of one?s gross income, it''s important to conduct research and ask questions.

Following are the top eight mistakes consumers make when shopping for a new home:

1. Looking for a home without being pre-approved.

Potential buyers who are competing for a property have a better chance of getting an offer accepted by being as prepared as possible. Imagine a seller who has received multiple offers for the purchase of their property. When an offer is made, the seller is being asked to take the property off the market. However, without pre-qualification or pre-approval, the seller has no evidence that a potential buyer can actually afford the property.

A buyer who is pre-qualified has met with and informed a broker or lender regarding their income, expenses and liabilities. The broker or lender may have also seen the buyer''s credit report. By undergoing a pre-qualification process, buyers are able to provide a letter stating a broker?s professional opinion of what the buyer can afford.

Buyers who are pre-approved have provided a broker or lender written evidence of income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and credit. All information has been verified by the lender. As a result, much of the paperwork for a loan has been completed. Therefore, a pre-approved buyer will probably be able to close quickly. In addition, the seller will have more certainty that the buyer can close the deal. For these reasons, pre-approved status may give the best chance of getting an offer accepted and this may be critical in a competitive situation.

2. Choosing a lender because they have the lowest rate.

While the rate is very important, buyers should consider the total cost of the loan including the loan fees, discounts and origination points. When receiving a quote from a lender or broker, it is appropriate to insist the discount points be distinguished from origination points.
The cost of the mortgage, however, shouldn''t be one?s only criterion. It is also important to have confidence that the selected company is reputable and will deliver the loan with the terms and costs they promised. If in the final hours of the transaction, it is determined that the lender has suddenly increased their profit margin at the buyer?s expense, there may not be time to start again with a different lender. Buyers should ask family and friends for referrals, as well as interview prospective mortgage companies.

3. Not receiving a good faith estimate.

Within three business days after the broker or lender receives a loan application, the applier must receive a written statement of fees associated with the transaction. This is both the law and the best way to determine what one will pay for the loan. A buyer should bring the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) when signing loan documents. Furthermore, buyers should not be expected to pay fees which are substantially different from those contained in their GFE.

4. Not getting a rate lock in writing.

When a mortgage company informs a buyer that they have locked a rate, it is important to get a written statement detailing the interest rate, the length of the rate lock, and program details.

5. Using a dual agent, or an agent who represents the buyer and the seller in the same transaction.

Buyers and sellers have opposing interests. Sellers want to receive the highest price; buyers want to pay the lowest price. In the standard real estate transaction, the seller pays the real estate commission. When an agent represents both buyer and seller, the agent can tend to negotiate more vigorously on behalf of the seller. Buyers may be better off having an agent representing them exclusively.
6. Purchasing a home without professional inspections.

Unless buying a new home with warranties on most equipment, it''s highly recommended to get property, roof and termite inspections. Inspection reports are great negotiating tools when asking the seller to make needed repairs. When a professional inspector recommends that certain repairs be done, the seller is more likely to agree to do them.

7. Not shopping for home insurance until ready to close.

Start shopping for insurance as soon as there is an accepted offer. Many buyers wait until the last minute to get insurance and do not have time to find the best possible deal.

8. Signing documents without reading them.
Whenever possible, buyers should review in advance the documents they?ll be signing. While some specifics of the transaction may not be known early in the process, the overall documents are standard forms and are available for review.


Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE among top 10 countries in world by proportion of ultrawealthy households, says study by BCG

* Saudi Arabia: Thursday, June 02 - 2011 at 17:14

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE emerged as four of the top ten countries in the world with the highest density ultrawealthy households. The findings appear in BCG's eleventh annual Global Wealth report titled Shaping a New Tomorrow: How to Capitalize on the Momentum of Change, which was released recently in the Middle East.
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Dr. Sven-Olaf Vathje, Partner and Managing Director at BCG Middle East.
Dr. Sven-Olaf Vathje, Partner and Managing Director at BCG Middle East.

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According to the study, "ultra-high-net-worth" (UHNW) households, defined as those with more than $100m in AuM, were most highly concentrated in Saudi Arabia registering 18 per 100,000 households. This was followed by Switzerland (10), Hong Kong (9), Kuwait (8), Austria (8), Norway (7), Qatar (6), Denmark (5), Singapore (5) and the UAE (5).

Qatar, Kuwait and UAE also made it to the top ten list in terms of the highest proportion of millionaire household by market with 8.9%, 8.5% and 2.6% millionaire households, respectively.

Positive trends also emerged for Middle East and Africa overall, as assets under management rose by 8.6% to hit $4.5 trillion in 2010 and with expectations to reach $6.7 trillion by 2015.

Dr. Sven-Olaf Vathje, Partner and Managing Director at BCG Middle East said, "The results are not surprising. Given the demographics and overall wealth of these petroleum-rich countries wewould expect a higher proportion of UHNW households than in other parts of the world. Growth in assets under management also reflects the strong fundamentals of the region, driven by continuing strong petroleum prices. Nevertheless, the risk appetite of regional investors remains low, especially when compared to levels seen before the downturn. The asset allocation of GCC high net worth individuals remains overweight in cash and capital-protected products."

Offshore wealth - defined as assets booked in a country where the investor has no legal residence or tax domicile - from the Middle East and Africa reached a total of $1.4 trillion, with the major proportion held in UK, Channel Islands and Dublin ($0.52 trillion) and Switzerland ($0.49 trillion).

Within the region, Dubai sustains its position as most prominent offshore center in the Arab world, with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait and Russia emerging as the most important origins of offshore wealth.

Markus Massi, Partner & Managing Director at BCG Middle East said, "The recent unrest in the region has reversed the trend towards "onshoring" wealth in some countries in the Middle East. For the more stable Gulf States, however, the onshoring trend continues. Some Gulf jurisdictions, for example, Dubai, are now attracting more wealth from other Middle East countries as they act as offshore centers themselves."

Trends in Global Wealth
Propelled by growth in nearly every region, global wealth continued a solid recovery in 2010, increasing by 8.0%, or $9 trillion, to a record of $121.8 trillion.[i] That level was about $20 trillion above where it stood just two years prior during the depths of the financial crisis. Among the other key findings:

• North America had the largest absolute gain of any regional wealth market in assets under management (AuM), at $3.6 trillion, and the second-highest growth rate, at 10.2%. Its $38.2 trillion in AuM made it the world's richest region, with nearly one-third of global wealth.
• In Europe, wealth grew at a below-average rate of 4.8%, but the region still had a gain of $1.7 trillion in AuM. The growth rate was slowed by the euro's slide relative to the U.S. dollar in 2010.
• Wealth grew fastest in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan), at a 17.1% rate.

In the Middle East and Africa, growth was somewhat above the global average, at 8.6%. In Latin America, wealth grew by 8.2%. Together, these three regions accounted for 24.4% of global wealth in 2010, up from 20.9% in 2008.

• In terms of individual countries, the nations showing the largest absolute gains in wealth were the United States, China, the United Kingdom, and India.

The strong performance of the financial markets accounted for the lion's share (59%) of the growth in AuM. The recovery of global equities markets in combination with active portfolio reallocations into equities drove the portfolio share of equities up from 29% to 35%.

In addition, 2010 saw millionaire households grow in number and wealth. The number of millionaire households increased by 12.2% in 2010 to about 12.5 million. The concentration of wealth increased again in 2010: Millionaire households represented just 0.9% of all households but owned 39% of global wealth, up from 37% in 2009.The United States had by far the most millionaire households (5.2 million), followed by Japan, China, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Mixed Results for Wealth Managers Worldwide
To gauge the performance of wealth managers (both private banks and wealth management units of large universal-banking groups), BCG gathered benchmarking data from 120 wealth-management institutions worldwide. The survey revealed wide variations in margins, cost ratios, and AuM growth across and within regions.

On the whole, the industry experienced mixed results. The average pretax profit margin of wealth managers increased by 4 basis points to 23 basis points in 2010. In most regions, however, revenue margins remained lower than they were before the crisis (and in some places continued to decline), while cost-to-income ratios remained higher (and in some places continued to rise).

"Wealth management in the Middle East is still very much a growth industry. Many local wealth managers and private banks are only now getting their business models - including product offerings and service delivery - at a level that is comparable with more developed regions. The growth of Islamic Wealth Management is also an advantageous trend for wealth managers in the region - as their proximity to clients and their product expertise makes the Gulf region a natural Islamic Wealth hub. We think that going forward, we will see more and more wealth managers in the region being compared favourably to their much more established competitors from Europe, the Americas, and Asia," said Douglas Beal, Partner and Managing Director at BCG Middle East.

Global Outlook
BCG expects global wealth to grow at a compound annual rate of 5.9% from year-end 2010 through 2015—to about $162 trillion—driven by the performance of the capital markets and the growth of GDP in countries around the world. Wealth will grow fastest in emerging markets. In India and China, for example, it is expected to increase at a compound annual rate of 18% and 14%, respectively. As a result, the Asia-Pacific region's share of global wealth (ex Japan) is projected to rise from 18% in 2010 to 23% in 2015.

"As much as the sustained recovery of global wealth reaffirms wealth management's place as a relatively stable and attractive part of the financial services world," Vathje said, "it also masks important and lasting changes to the dynamics of this industry. Perhaps more than ever, a wealth manager's adaptability—its capacity to anticipate and respond to a combination of regulatory, client-driven, and competitive changes—will determine how well it prospers from the continued growth of wealth."


The Canadian Press

Date: Tuesday Mar. 23, 2010 6:05 PM ET

TORONTO — Yvonne Kraft feels trapped between listing without using the most widely viewed service in Canada or paying commission on a house she's confident will sell as soon as the sign goes up.

"There's nothing in between, it would be nice to have a choice," said the interior designer from Hamilton who has privately sold houses twice.

Kraft says when she sold her house five years ago, she was one of only a handful of private sellers, but a growth of do-it-yourself websites has made private listing more mainstream.

"The do-it-yourself real estate industry is growing in spite of the real estate board not wanting to budge on their regulations, it's going to grow on its own and if they don't want to join the party then they're going to be left out," she said.

The Canadian Real Estate Association, which represents about 98,000 realtors, loosened its rules Monday to lift restrictions on realtors' minimum service requirements and allow consumers to use an agent to simply list their property and handle the details on their own.

But the Competition Bureau rejected those changes saying they do not create more choice for home buyers and sellers, and instead give realtors a "blank cheque" to impose new anti-competitive rules.

Commissioner of competition Melanie Aitken told the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday that there is no guarantee the amendments are permanent.

"Until there is some certainty that the rules aren't going to shift, that it's not going to be a risk of a fleeting(Passing quickly) opportunity, (realtors are) not going to make the investment to offer up those innovative service and pricing models, she said.

"Until they do so, we're concerned we're not going to see the choice for the Canadian consumer and we're not going to see the downward pressure on prices that we would otherwise expect to see."

The bureau has said it will continue to pursue an application filed with the Competition Tribunal in February seeking to strike down CREA's rules on the use of its Multiple Listings Service, which it has said restrict consumers' ability to conduct real estate transactions without an agent.

CREA allows only its members to post homes for sale on its MLS database, which is operated by regional real estate boards and where 90 per cent of homes in Canada are sold.

Kraft says the rules preventing her from listing her home on MLS drive her to use smaller private web sites that charge a flat fee.

"(But) not everyone knows to look there, I don't even look there myself," she said.

Listing privately also reduces the number of potential buyers who see her home, she said, because part of the CREA rules require a listing agent to give the buying agent a percentage of commission, and they're less inclined to show a home they won't be making a profit from.

Kraft said she wants to be able to decide which services she would like an agent to provide and which she'd do herself.

"There's people like me, if you've bought and sold a few houses you know exactly what an agent has to do, its no big mystery," she said.

John Andrew, director of the executive seminars on real estate at Queen's University, noted most buyers already do online research and no longer wait for an agent to present them with homes.

"Most consumers want to do at least the initial leg work themselves...and it's bad for the industry that people haven't really been able to do that."

He added that CREA could have avoided the anti-competition troubles by updating the site and making more information available to consumers, to help turn casual shoppers into customers.

"The way it is now if you're interested in possibly moving, possibly looking for another house, you've basically got no choice but to hire an agent."

Philip Soper, president of Royal LePage, said the changes to the association's rules do give agents more flexibility to offer "a la carte" services, which will prompt an increase in the number of discount brokerages.

He added the industry is seeing a number of consumer portals cropping up, adding that Kijiji, an eBay subsidiary that operates online classified, is already Canada's second largest real estate site.

But Soper said even if the data available on the MLS system was opened to consumers, the industry wouldn't change dramatically.

"There are many low priced alternatives already competing for the price sensitive portion of the market, so I don't think rule changes will result in a big shift in the way real estate services are offered in Canada."

Soper said it wouldn't be any more complicated than using websites like Kijiji or Craigslist for a homeowner to list a home themselves, but added privacy would be a major concern.

"By far and away the majority of people pay a realtor to act as a screen in order to weed out serious offers from tire kickers or worse, people who are just trying to sell you something."


Competition Bureau Sues Canada's Largest Real Estate Board for Denying Services Over the Internet

OTTAWA, May 27, 2011 — The Competition Bureau announced today that it has filed an application with the Competition Tribunal seeking to prohibit anti-competitive practices by the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) that are denying consumer choice and the ability of real estate agents to introduce innovative real estate brokerage services through the Internet.

TREB is the largest real estate board in Canada, with approximately 31,000 members. It owns and operates the Toronto Multiple Listing Service system (the Toronto MLS system), which contains current property listings and historical information about the purchase and sale of residential real estate in Toronto and the surrounding area. The vast majority of local real estate transactions make use of the Toronto MLS system, which is an essential tool for agents to help customers buy and sell homes. TREB is restricting how its member agents can provide information from the Toronto MLS system to their customers, thereby denying member agents the ability to provide innovative brokerage services over the Internet.

"Today, consumers are demanding a greater selection of service and pricing options when buying or selling their homes and many agents are eager to accommodate them,"
said Melanie Aitken, Commissioner of Competition. "Yet TREB's leadership continues to impose anti-competitive restrictions on its members that deny consumer choice and stifle innovation."

Toronto MLS information is controlled by TREB and is only accessible to its members. It is much more detailed than what is available on public sites, such as Realtor.ca. For example, the Toronto MLS system contains data about previous listing and sale prices, historical prices for comparable properties in the area, and the amount of time a property has been on the market.

Because of TREB's restrictive practices, agents do not have the flexibility to share this important data with customers in innovative new ways, such as through password protected Web sites, also called Virtual Office Web sites (VOWs).

VOWs permit a customer to search a full inventory of listings containing up to date data online, before making the decision to tour a home or attend an open house. This enables customers to be more selective and focused, and agents to spend less time trying to find an appropriate property for a specific customer.

While agents can provide detailed MLS listing information not available on Realtor.ca to customers by hand, mail, fax, or email, TREB's anti-competitive practices effectively prevent agents from providing the same MLS listing information to customers via a password-protected Web site. As a result, there are currently no VOWs operating in the Toronto real estate market that enable customers to search a full inventory of listings.

"When the Bureau identifies anti-competitive behaviour, our first preference is always to reach an agreement that fully resolves our concerns," added Ms. Aitken. "Consistent with the Bureau's practice, we shared our concerns with TREB, as well as what would be necessary to address them. Ultimately, it was necessary for us to seek a legally binding order from the Tribunal to ensure greater competition and increased innovation in the market for real estate services in Toronto and the surrounding area."

A copy of the Bureau's application will be available shortly on the Competition Tribunal Web site.

The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Gabrielle Tassé
Senior Communications Advisor
Public Affairs Branch

For general enquiries, please contact:
Information Centre
Competition Bureau
Toll free: 1-800-348-5358
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Bank of America in $8.5B mortgage settlement
APBy CHRIS KAHN - AP Business Writer | AP – 1 hr 0 mins ago

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2009 file photo, a Bank of America branch office is shown in New York. The Bank of America said Tuesday, June 29, 2011 it will pay $8.5 billion to settle with investors over housing crash claims. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2009 file photo, a Bank of America branch office is shown …

NEW YORK (AP) — Bank of America and its Countrywide unit will pay $8.5 billion to settle claims that the lenders sold poor-quality mortgage-backed securities that went sour when the housing market collapsed.

The deal, announced Wednesday, comes after a group of 22 investors demanded that the Charlotte, N.C. bank repurchase $47 billion in mortgages that its Countrywide unit sold to them in the form of bonds.

The group, which includes the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Pimco Investment Management, and Blackrock Financial Management, argued that Countrywide enriched itself at the expense of investors by continuing to service bad loans while running up servicing fees.

Bank of America, which bought Countrywide in 2008 for $4 billion, has denied those claims.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said Wednesday that the settlement would minimize "future economic uncertainty" in the banking business and "clean up the mortgage issues largely stemming from our purchase of Countrywide."

For several months, Bank of America battled claims based on estimates "that were much different from ours," Moynihan said. But at this point, it made more sense to settle than to keep fighting, he said.

"We have said consistently if people are reasonable and can get to a reasonable assessment of their claims and it's in the best interest of shareholders, we will settle," Moynihan told Wall Street analysts in a conference call.

The settlement is subject to court approval and covers 530 trusts with original principal balance of $424 billion.

Citi analyst Keith Horowitz said the settlement, which amounts to only 2 percent of the original principal balance, removes one of the largest investor risks for Bank of America.

"We think this could prove to be a step forward" for Bank of America, Horowitz said. It would show investors that the bank can manage through crisis without raising additional capital.

As a result of the settlement, Bank of America put its second-quarter loss at $8.6 billion to $9.1 billion. Excluding the settlement and other charges, the bank expects to post a quarterly loss of $3.2 billion to $3.7 billion.

Shares of Bank of America Corp. jumped more than 4 percent, or 48 cents to $11.30 before the market opened, with investors happy that the bank can put very big uncertainty behind it.

Investors may now be more confident that they can get similar concessions from other major U.S. banks that created markets for mortgage-backed securities with questionable pedigrees.

Yet stocks in the financial sector were rising in electronic trading Wednesday, likely because the Bank of America deal presents a framework for others to follow.
======================= Real estate underperformed in 2011 Faryal Najeeb Sunday, January 01, 2012 KARACHI: The real estate and construction sector strives on sentiments and 2011 was another disastrous year for builders and developers as the nation failed to curb its security issues, experts related to the industry informed The News. They also said that concerns such as low gas supply (which compelled the government to stop fresh gas connections to new high-rise buildings), energy crisis, rising cost of input such as cement and iron and the imposition of sales tax under the Sindh Sales Tax on Services Act 2011 impacted the real estate sector adversely. Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry Standing Committee on Real Estate Chairman Munir Sultan said that 2011 had been another dismal year for the industry when both local and foreign investments remained at bay. Comparing over the previous years, he said, in 2009 the representation of the construction sector had been more than 28 percent in the gross domestic product, which in 2010/11 crashed down to a mere four percent. Uncertainty, land grabbing and political turmoil had been the main causes for the real estate sector’s nosedive, he said. “All over the world, port cities have the most expensive housing rates, whereas in Pakistan, Lahore happens to be more expensive than Karachi,” he said. Referring to the house financing and the performance of House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC) in Pakistan, Sultan said that both had been dismal in 2011 as the financing institution had itself remained troubled with fund issues. However, the Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) of Pakistan former chairman said that though 2011 had not been generally good for the real estate sector, it had seen investments in single-storey and one unit bungalows, which had been resounding successes. Four to five big projects had been launched in the country, which was all successes, example the Naya Nazimabad project, he said, adding that a greater number of smaller projects had also been launched. “Projects were launched where there was a demand for housing,” he said. Most of the projects had been launched in the urban cities of Pakistan, namely, Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Dera Ghazi Khan etc, he added. Another prominent builder who wished to remain anonymous said that 2011 had also seen a rise in the ‘Bhatta’ mafia (extortionists) and builders had to deal with the rising “bribe rates” and land grabbers. “It’s a misperception that builders and developers have powerful backups and they remain unharmed by elements such as encroachers and land grabbers,” he said. Karachi had the worst cases of land mafia, he added. When the experts were asked how they perceive 2012 to be for the construction industry, most said that builders and developers are playing a wait and watch game and taking cautious steps at the moment since 2012 will be an election year. “We don’t know as yet what will happen in 2012 and how the year will go by. The real estate sector involves millions of rupees worth of investments and any decisions made will be much thought over,” said Sultan. However, the former chairman of ABAD said that the housing projects will continue to be introduced in the country as the demand for them is very high. According to a World Bank report, the backlog for housing units was eight million in 2008, which jumped several-fold since then. According to ABAD Vice Chairman Arif Siddik, the annual demand for housing is 600,000 to 700,000 units, while only 300,000 to 400,000 units are being built. This means that the demand remains unfulfilled by at least 300,000 units every year, which adds onto the already existing backlog of the country, he said. ====================

Facebook tops Google as most visited site in U.S.

Thu 30 Dec, 2010 21:21

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Facebook surpassed Google for the first time as the most visited website in the United States for most of 2010.

The social network site edged out Google.com with 8.9 percent of all U.S. visits between January and November 2010, while Google.com ranked second with about 7.2 percent of all visits, according to online measurement service Experian Hitwise.

Facebook's move to the top spot shows just how quickly the site has grown in popularity. Within the span of six years, Facebook has become the world's largest Web social network with roughly half a billion users worldwide.

Google.com dominated the top spot as the most visited website in the United States in 2009 and 2008. News Corp's MySpace was the No. 1 visited website in 2007. It is ranked No. 7.

However, when all of Google's properties are considered -- such as YouTube and email, for instance -- Google still reigns as the most visited site at 9.9 percent between January and November 2010. Facebook follows at 8.9 percent. Yahoo and all of its properties ranked third at 8.1 percent.

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba. Editing by Robert MacMillan)

Tatbir is not Harram

Ayatollah Al-Udhma Sheikh Yusuf Saane'i, one of the highest Maraje' present in Qum Iran, speaks in this video. He speaks about the legibility of Azadari and the strong history of Tatbir going right back to the time of Hazrate Zainab (sa) and Karbala. He speaks about Ayatollah Khomeini's ruling.

To watch the Video in Urdu/Arabic, you may visit the website and select your preferred language, then select the video from the Videos and Inteviews page.

Hujjatol-Islam Sheikh Abdul-Hamid Muhajir...
Hujjatol-Islam Sheikh Abdul-Hamid Muhajir is a renowned Aalim and holds classes to train Ulema on how to speak. He frequently lectures in Lebanon.

To watch the Video in Urdu/Arabic/Farsi, you may visit the website and select your preferred language, then select the video from the Videos and Inteviews page.
Watch Video

The latest edition of our azadari annual publication is now available: "Commemorating the Martyrdom of Imam Husein (as) - Innovation or Tradition?"

The book contains Fatawa of our Respected Maraje' and Ulema on the issue of Mourning for Imam Husein (as) and has been translated into 4 languages (Arabic, Urdu, English, Farsi).

You may request the latest edition for yourselves and your family/friends/jamaat by emailing all postal addresses to contact@azadari4imam.org.

Two killed in attacks on Christians in Iraq capital

30 Dec 2010

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Attacks follow al Qaeda threats

* Thousands of Christians fleeing Iraq

BAGHDAD, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Two people were killed and at least 16 wounded in a series of bomb attacks on Thursday on the homes of minority Christians in the Iraqi capital, security sources said.

The blasts occurred after al Qaeda-linked militants threatened to step up attacks on Iraqi Christians during the Christmas period, two months after 52 people were killed when gunmen stormed a Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad.

An Interior Ministry source and police sources said up to 10 explosions targeted Christians in Baghdad. In the worst attack, two people thought to be Christians were killed in a blast in the Ghadir district of eastern Baghdad.

Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, a spokesman for the Baghdad operations command, put the toll at one dead, denying the victim was a Christian, and six wounded. He said two other bombs were defused before they exploded.

Some 1,000 Christian families, or 6,000 people, have fled to Iraq's northern Kurdish region, or to regional countries, since the Oct. 31 assault on the cathedral, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said earlier this month.

Iraq's Christians once numbered about 1.5 million but are now believed to have fallen to less than 850,000 out of a population estimated at 30 million.

In its latest threat, the Islamic State of Iraq, the local affiliate of al Qaeda, said Iraqi Christians risked further attacks unless they pressured the Christian church in Egypt to release a group of people it said the church was holding after they had converted to Islam.

Iraqi Christian leaders say they fear Sunni Islamist al Qaeda wants to drive them out of the country. The vast majority of the tens of thousands of civilians killed in violence since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion have been Muslim. (Reporting by Baghdad Newsroom; Writing by Michael Christie; Editing by Matthew Jones)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

'Saudi Arabia supports terrorism in Iraq'

Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:58AM

The scene of explosions in Iraq's second-largest city of Basra

Several Iraqi authorities have accused Saudi Arabia of supporting terrorist attacks in the war-wrecked country, which run by the Shia-led government.

"We hope that our neighboring countries do their best to help the Iraqi government control the borders and improve the security,"
Fawzi Tarzi of Sadr movement told a Press TV correspondent on Wednesday.

Members of Iraqi National Coalition said some circles in Saudi Arabia offer financial and moral support to terrorists, who have been behind numerous attacks in the war-torn country.

They added that some religious authorities in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa that permits killing of Shia people, who make up the majority of Iraqi population, and that the Saudi government does everything possible to make the Baghdad government fail.

"The Saudi government has done whatever it can to prevent the formation of the Shia-led Iraqi government,"
political analyst Khalid al-Sarral said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki named security as one of his top priorities after the parliament approved his nomination for a second term as attacks still remain common in the Iraqi capital and the main northern city of Mosul.

Meanwhile, politicians from the Iraqi national coalition claim that there is enough evidence to implicate the Saudis in at least part of the violence and to prove that they still interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq, although Riyadh has denied involvement in the violence.

Iraqi officials also urged the government to strictly control the country's border with Saudi Arabia to stop the flow of terrorists into the country.

"We should seal our borders with Saudi Arabia to hold the flow of terrorism," said Mohammed Hussein of Iraqi National Alliance.

Sonatrach, China's CNPC Make Oil Discovery In Algeria

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Sonatrach and China National Petroleum Corp. have made a new oil discovery in Algeria's Sahara, Sonatrach said Thursday, bringing finds in the North African nation to 11 this year.
In a statement posted on its Web site, Algeria's national oil company Sonatrach said drilling in Bloc 438B had encountered oil twice, with flows of 2.6 cubic meters per hour and 12.2 cubic meters per hour.
State-owned CNPC says it owns 100% of the Bloc 438B project. Sonatrach is the concessionary and partner on the block. Previous exploration on the bloc had already found oil and gas in 2007, CNPC says on its Web site.
The announcement comes after U.K.-listed Petroceltic International PLC (PCI.LN) said Tuesday it and Sonatrach had made a natural gas discovery in Algeria.

Verbal skullduggery: Temperatures rise as MQM, PML-N trade charges

It was virtually impossible to separate the personal insults from the political invective.
ISLAMABAD: Verbal sparring between the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) descended to historic lows of ugliness on Wednesday when leaders of the two rival parties dragged out skeleton after skeleton from their family cupboards while trading charges of corruption and poking fun at each other’s foibles.

By the end of Wednesday’s skirmish – the third consecutive and most virulent day of political jousting – it was virtually impossible to separate the personal insults from the political invective. While one leader accused their rival of being alcoholic, the other retorted with jeers about donning a toupee and getting a hair transplant.

In tit-for-tat attacks outside parliament, the second tier leaders of the two parties mounted scathing attacks on the personal lives and family relationships of Nawaz Sharif and Altaf Hussain. The focus of the PML-N diatribe was the self-imposed exile of MQM chief Altaf Hussain and his allegedly troubled family life. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and a prominent member of the PML-N, fired the first salvo, threatening to reveal what the former spouse of Altaf Hussain had deposed in a British court while seeking a divorce from him. He claimed that the MQM leader owned property worth billions and was often found in a woozy state. Chaudhry Nisar openly ridiculed Altaf for offering to challenge Sharif to a public debate on national issues. “We know he (Altaf) is not conscious most of time when he speaks…he is not somebody we should take seriously,” he said when asked to comment on Hussain’s challenge to Nawaz. “But for a debate with us Altaf will have to return to the country and I’m sure he cannot,” said Chaudhry Nisar in a mocking tone.

He then made allusions to Altaf’s troubled marital life and his mental condition. “During the debate we can produce a certificate from a London rehabilitation centre where Altaf was treated for a mental disorder,” Chaudhry Nisar added.

The MQM did not hold back any venom either. Its federal lawmakers Haider Abbas Rizvi and Waseem Akhtar were even more vicious as they thundered that they knew “whose daughter had run away with whom” and charged that “dance parties” were held in Lahore “in every house” and “prostitution was widespread”.
The two MQM parliamentarians did not spare the daughters of the Sharif family and resorted to crude and ‘uncivilised’ language to castigate their party’s rivals. “We know whose daughters have been flirting with whom…and we are also aware of what was recovered from Nawaz Sharif’s bedroom after a military coup in 1999,” one of them said.

Currently, the MQM is in a three-way tussle with major political parties. It has taken on the ANP in Karachi, it is engaged in a political row with the PPP and is busy in a vicious verbal battle with the PML-N.

The MQM wants the ruling PPP to restore the old local body system, opposes the restoration of commisionariate system and does not want the introduction of RGST. It has already withdrawn its members from the federal cabinet and has threatened to sit on the opposition benches if its demands are not met.

Meanwhile, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain, has directed members of the MQM Rabita Committee as well as all office-bearers and members of the provincial and national assemblies to refrain from giving any statements or reacting to the “personal attacks” made by PML-N leaders.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2010.

NJ gov, NYC mayor feel the heat after the blizzard

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images
The word 'HELP' is written on the window of a New York car covered in snow.

Play Video Video:NY plow driver: 'Nastiest' storm I can remember AP .
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AP – Front loaders clear snow from Broadway in preparation of the Times Square New Year’s Eve 2011 celebration, …
By SARA KUGLER FRAZIER, Associated Press Sara Kugler Frazier, Associated Press – 51 mins ago
NEW YORK – With many streets still unplowed, New Yorkers are griping that their billionaire mayor is out of touch and has failed at the basic task of keeping the city running, while New Jersey's governor is taking heat for vacationing at Disney World during the crisis.

The fallout against two politicians who style themselves as take-charge guys is building in the aftermath of the Christmas-weekend blizzard that clobbered(To strike violently and repeatedly; batter or maul.
) the Northeast, with at least one New Jersey newspaperman noting Gov. Chris Christie's absence in a column headlined:
"Is Sunday's storm Christie's Katrina?"

Across New York, complaints have mounted about unplowed streets, stuck ambulances and outer-borough neighborhoods neglected by the Bloomberg administration.

"When he says New York, he means Manhattan,"
said Hayden Hunt of Brooklyn, a borough of 2.6 million people where many streets were not cleared for days. "He's the man in charge. ... It's foolishness, come on."

Bloomberg, a third-term Republican-turned-independent who is occasionally mentioned as a long-shot presidential candidate, spent the first day after the storm on the defensive, testily dismissing complaints and insisting the cleanup of the 2-foot snowfall was going fine. But he later adopted a more conciliatory tone.

On Wednesday, as stories began to surface about people who may have suffered serious medical problems while waiting for ambulances, the mayor was his most apologetic, without actually apologizing.

"We did not do as good a job as we wanted to do or as the city has a right to expect, and there's no question — we are an administration that has been built on accountability," he said. "When it works, it works and we take credit, and when it doesn't work, we stand up there and say, `OK, we did it. We'll try to find out what went wrong.'"

The city sanitation commissioner promised that every last street would be plowed by Thursday morning.

Christie, meanwhile, has not been heard from publicly since he left New Jersey on vacation with his wife and four children. His spokesman, Michael Drewniak, said that the governor — who has also been mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate — has been briefed while in Florida, and that the emergency services have functioned well across the state.

"This was definitely a big snow, but we are a Northeastern state, and we get plenty of snow, including heavy hits like this, and we'll get through this just as we always have," Drewniak said.

Click image to see photos of the East Coast snow storm

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Christie's absence at the same time his lieutenant governor was also out of state left New Jersey's Senate president to deal with the storm, which stranded thousands of travelers and left highways strewn with stuck and abandoned cars.

"They're both entitled to a vacation, but not at the same time," said Sen. Dick Codey, a Democrat who was acting governor for 15 months after Jim McGreevey resigned in 2004.

Meanwhile, New York's transportation system was operating closer and closer to normal. Most subway service knocked out by snowdrifts on elevated tracks resumed. The metropolitan area's three major airports had their busiest day since the blizzard, and more stranded passengers managed to fly home.

But some lashed out. About 100 people surged the Qatar Airways ticket counter at Kennedy Airport after airline representatives tried to persuade them to take a bus to Washington, after days of waiting for flights to take them back to Southeast Asia.
The complaints against Bloomberg and Christie are all the more remarkable because of the reputations they have cultivated.

Bloomberg, who made his fortune from the financial news company that bears his name, has portrayed himself as adept at cutting through bureaucracy and politics-as-usual to get things done. Christie has become a hero in the GOP for his willingness to do battle with teachers and other powerful interests.

In the aftermath of the storm, many have noted the contrast with Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, who has been on the streets with a shovel, clearing sidewalks and freeing stuck ambulances.

"I have not been out with a snow shovel, but I have been answering e-mails," Bloomberg said Wednesday, when the comparison was raised between him and Booker.

New Yorkers have long been willing to cut the mayor slack over his lack of touchy-feely sensitivities, in part because of his smooth performance during several crises. He took office not quite four months after the Sept. 11 attacks and kept the city functioning during a major blackout in 2003, a paralyzing transit strike in 2005 and a deep recession.

But history has also shown that snowstorms can make or break political careers.

After a 1969 storm dropped 15 inches of snow on New York, streets in the outer boroughs were not cleared for days. The episode became a symbol of what some said was Mayor John Lindsay's Manhattan-centric attitude. He barely won re-election that year, and the story haunted him forever.

Bloomberg, when asked Wednesday about the perception that he, too, does not care about the areas outside Manhattan, said: "I care about all parts of this city. ... It isn't that we don't care; it's just that you have to do as much good as you can with the resources you have."

City officials said they plan to review their handling of the snowstorm more intensely after all the streets are clear. The explanations given so far range from the unexpectedly rapid snowfall to the unusual number of vehicles that became stuck in the snow, preventing snowplows from getting through.

The mayor promised a closer look at the city's 911 system, which logged tens of thousands of calls during the storm — including nearly 50,000 in a day, one of the highest totals on record. Emergency officials said they couldn't reach every call immediately, including a call about a woman in labor. Her baby later died.

The criticism may not pose much danger to Bloomberg's future because he insists he won't run for president in 2012 or any other public office. But he still has three years left as mayor, and it could dent his reputation as a manager.

As for Christie, it remains to be seen how his being absent during a crisis could affect his political career.

As The Asbury Park Press put it in an editorial Tuesday, the residents of one town where streets remained clogged "will not soon forget the days of waiting for their roadways to be cleared and should be insistent in their demands to get clear answers to the question, `What went wrong?'"


Contributing to this story were Associated Press writers David B. Caruso, Samantha Henry, Meghan Barr, Karen Matthews in New York and Beth DeFalco and Angela Delli Santi in Trenton, N.J.

UPDATE 3-Suicide bombers kill police chief in Mosul attack

29 Dec 2010

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Suicide bombers kill police commander in Mosul

* Three bombers stormed office, one bomber killed outside

* Mosul considered al Qaeda's last urban stronghold

(Updates number of attackers, adds witness, funeral)

By Jamal al-Badrani

MOSUL, Iraq, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Three suicide bombers stormed into a police battalion headquarters on Wednesday and killed the commander in the restive northern Iraqi city of Mosul, police sources said.

The sources said three militants detonated their explosive vests in the office of Lieutenant Colonel Shamil Ahmed, who headed the battalion in Mosul's western area of Bab Sinjar. Mosul is considered the last urban stronghold of the Islamic militant group al Qaeda in Iraq.

A fourth suicide bomber was killed by police before he was able to enter the main building.

"At about 5.45am (0245 GMT), I heard gunshots. I jumped up from my bed and my colleague and I grabbed our pistols. When we opened the door, we saw some men, dressed in black, entering the commander's room, which is near ours," policeman Ahmed Mahmoud told Reuters.

"Suddenly, after that, there was a huge blast inside the commander's room and everything around us collapsed. I fell on the ground. I was in shock. I didn't know what had happened."

Police sources, who initially said only two suicide bombers had entered the police commander's room, said they had retrieved the remains of a third bomber in the debris.

One other policeman was injured in the attack, a police source said.

A source at the city morgue said it had received the remains of three of the suicide bombers as well as the body of the fourth attacker, riddled with bullet wounds.

Mahmoud said the commander had probably been targeted because of his campaign against al Qaeda. He had led an operation this month in which al Qaeda members were arrested and a senior leader was killed.

Another police source said Ahmed had recently received numerous death threats from the Islamist militant group. He escaped an attempt on his life last year.


The northern city of Mosul, about 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, remains one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq.

While Iraqi and U.S. forces say they have made major strides this year against a stubborn insurgency, militants have stepped up attacks on Iraqi troops and police in recent months as the U.S. military pulls back more than seven years after the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

At Ahmed's funeral, held hours after the blast, the mood was defiant. More than 30 police vehicles, including military Humvees, joined the procession to bury the commander. Policemen fired into the air for around half an hour to express anger.

"I know why they killed him. (It was) because he broke the back of al Qaeda in Mosul," Ahmed's 60-year-old father, Ahmed al-Jibouri, told Reuters"But we will not yield, we will not submit. The wheel must keep turning. We have to exterminate these harmful insects, those that use Islam as a cover to kill innocent people."

Although overall violence in Iraq has dropped sharply since the height of sectarian warfare in 2006-7, bombings and other attacks are still a daily occurrence.

On Monday, twin suicide bombings rocked a government compound in the city of Ramadi, about 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, killing 17 people and wounding dozens. [ID:nLDE6BQ05X] (Additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Serena Chaudhry; Editing by Caroline Drees and Peter Graff)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

PRESS DIGEST - Vietnam newspapers - Dec 29

29 Dec 2010

Source: reuters // Reuters

HANOI, Dec 29 (Reuters) - These are some of the leading stories in the official Vietnamese press on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.



-- Vietnamese retailers are losing out to foreign competitors in the race to expand their share of the lucrative retail market that is growing at 25 percent annually, industry insiders said.


-- Vietnam aims to nearly double per capita income to $2,000 by 2015 from $1,160 this year and push the country's economic growth forward to between 7 percent and 7.5 percent for the 2011-2015 period, from an average 7 percent in the five years ending 2010, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said.


-- Twelve sailors were missing after the Vietnamese ship Van Don 02 sank some 60 nautical miles off the southern province of Kien Giang on Tuesday. The ship was en route to Vietnam from Malaysia carrying steel billets.


-- Vietnam aims to stop exporting raw minerals as the returns are low, said Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai.

-- Traffic accidents killed more than 11,000 people in Vietnam and injured 10,500 others this year, said the National Traffic Safety Committee.


-- The government said it has approved a plan to equitise nine subsidiaries of Song Da group, one of Vietnam's largest state-owned builders, in 2011-2012. (Reporting by Hanoi Newsroom)

NY struggles to dig out; passengers still stranded

Reuters/Lucas Jackson
Workers clear snow from runways at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. More photos »
AP – People walk past an MTA bus stuck in the middle of Stillwell Ave. in the Coney Island neighborhood of …
By CHRIS HAWLEY and SARA KUGLER FRAZIER, Associated Press Chris Hawley And Sara Kugler Frazier, Associated Press – 24 mins ago
NEW YORK – Hundreds of airline passengers were stranded for up to 10 hours on the tarmac at overworked Kennedy Airport. Ambulances struggled to get patients through unplowed streets. City buses sat abandoned in the snow.

The Christmas weekend blizzard proved to be the curse that keeps on giving Tuesday, as confusion and frustration snowballed in New York and the rest of the country.

Officials warned it could take until New Year's to rebook all passengers and straighten out the transportation mess created by the storm, which shut down all three of New York's major airports for 24 hours and caused a ripple effect across the U.S.

A high school band from Pennsylvania faced the prospect of marching in the Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena, Calif., with only half its musicians after the storm stranded the rest in Philadelphia. European tourists who planned to fly into New York found themselves in Chicago when their flights were diverted. Travelers as far away as San Francisco were marooned, even though they were headed nowhere near the Northeast.

New York's airports struggled to get planes in and out. But some jetliners couldn't even get to the gate.

At Kennedy, a British Airways plane from London carrying 300 passengers waited five hours for an open gate, and then two more hours for customs to open, said John Lampl, a spokesman for the airline. A Cathay Pacific flight that had been diverted to Toronto spent 10 hours on the tarmac, and a second Cathay Pacific plane with 250 people sat on the runway for about eight hours Tuesday.

Passenger Abi Subramanian, 38, said supplies on the plane were running low and he was worried about his wife and 2-month-old daughter.

"We're going to be in trouble very shortly. There's no food left for her," he told The Associated Press by cell phone, shortly before the family got off the plane.

Airlines were dispatching planes to the airport without lining up gate space first, causing backups on the ground, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Kennedy.

Click image to see photos of the East Coast snow storm

Reuters/Lucas Jackson
Cathay Pacific spokesman Gus Whitcomb said the planes had taken off under the assumption that they would have somewhere to go upon landing.

In general, U.S. airlines operating domestic flights are not allowed to keep passengers waiting on the tarmac for more than three hours. But the rule does not apply to international flights or foreign airlines.

The chaos was also reflected in New York's streets, where hundreds of abandoned city buses and dozens of ambulances still sat in the middle of snowdrifts from the storm, which clobbered the city with up to 2 feet of snow. A video that instantly went viral on the Internet showed city crews accidentally smashing a parked car as they tried to free a city construction vehicle.

Officials predicted streets would not be clear until Wednesday, a day later than they first promised.

"And even then I'm not so sure," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

In the Bronx, Yankee Stadium, usually dormant at this time of year, was full of about 400 workers Tuesday shoveling snow to prepare for Thursday's inaugural Pinstripe Bowl between Kansas State and Syracuse.

Brooklyn resident Annie O'Daly waited more than 30 hours for help after falling and breaking her ankle Sunday night at around 8 p.m., said Jim Leonhardt, her husband. An ambulance didn't arrive until 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. Leonhardt had to help paramedics carry her out onto the unplowed street and over a snowbank.

Officials pleaded with private companies to help out, and the city converted various vehicles in its fleet into snowplows, including trucks typically used for cleaning graffiti.

"It's a bad situation and we're working together to correct it," Bloomberg said.

Some 1,000 vehicles had been removed from three major New York City-area expressways alone, the mayor said. In New Jersey, police in helicopters counted at least 60 vehicles stranded along a highway at the shore. Motorists were taken in National Guard Humvees and other vehicles to shelters.

In Asbury Park, N.J., a commuter train hit a tractor-trailer that got stuck at a railroad crossing. The driver had left the truck and no injuries were reported.

More than 5,000 flights had been canceled since Sunday night at all three New York-area airports, about 1,000 of them on Tuesday alone.

Adriana Siqueira, 38, a housekeeper from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was told she and her 10-year-old daughter cannot get home from New York's LaGuardia until New Year's Day. They had already spent one night in the terminal and couldn't afford a hotel.

"I have no idea what I'm going to do," Siqueira said. "I don't feel good."

The delays and cancellations were having a domino effect around the country.

Carol Gibson, a 39-year-old unemployed business analyst, was stranded in San Francisco overnight Monday when the JetBlue plane that was supposed to take her home to Austin, Texas, got stuck in New York. She booked a flight home on Southwest. She said she is out about $375 because of a hotel room in San Francisco, the costlier flight and food.

"I'm not employed right now, so it's one of those double whammies," she said. "It's frustrating that I had to use some of my Christmas cash right away."

The Downingtown High School band from suburban Philadelphia was trying to get to Southern California to perform in the Rose Parade. By Tuesday only 100 of the 300 musicians had made it, but Continental Airlines had found nearly enough seats for the rest, said band director Brent Lewis.

In Chicago, German traveler Michael Giesen his wife, Merja Nevalainen-Giesen, were among the mostly European stranded passengers in gathered in the lobby of the Hilton inside Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

At least eight international flights were diverted to O'Hare. The Giesens, of Dusseldorf, had left Germany on Monday afternoon with plans to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Hudson River on a boat. Instead they were flying to Pittsburgh and then were supposed to get on a seven-hour bus ride to New York.

Nevalainen-Giesen, 66, vowed to never travel in winter again, but her husband was philosophical about the whole thing.

"It's nature," Michael Giesen said. "Perhaps it's good to learn that nature can't be run and we have to listen to nature."


Associated Press writers Deepti Hajela, Samantha Henry, Meghan Barr and Samantha Gross in New York; Beth DeFalco in Asbury Park, N.J.; David Porter in Newark, N.J.; Carla K. Johnson in Chicago; Kate Brumback in Sudbury, Mass.; Amanda Lee Myers in Phoenix; Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia; AP business writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.