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AT&T announces new iPhone/iPad promos for August

AT&T has two exciting promotions for Apple devices starting in August. Both new and existing AT&T customers can take advantage of one of the following offers:

1. Buy an iPhone 7 32GB and get one FREE

Both phones must be purchased on AT&T Next, as follows:
The first phone can be a new line or an upgrade.
The second phone must be a new line.
Must add or currently have eligible DIRECTV service within 30 days of mobile activation.
Within 3 billing cycles, you will start to receive up to $650 spread out over 30 monthly bill credits.
Pay taxes and activation fees at time of sale.. 2. Purchase any iPhone and get a bill credit toward the new Apple iPad 9.7” 32GB at the same time for only 99-cents or the Apple iPad 9.7” 128 GB for $99.99

Eligible iPhones: iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone must be purchased on AT&T Next with a new or upgraded eligible wireless plan.
iPad requires a 2-year agreement and activation on a postpaid data plan.
Must activate new DIRECTV service within 30 days of mobile activation.

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Pala Casino Spa & Resort announces plans for $170m expansion, renovation

Pala, CA – Officials of Pala Casino Spa & Resort this week announced plans for an expansion and complete renovation of its AAA FourDiamond award winning property. Construction of the $170 million project will begin in October 2017 and be completed in May 2019.

The renovation and expansion will include: the addition of a new 349 room hotel tower; the conversion of the existing resort pool into a multi-pool and entertainment resort complex; the construction of an inventory of unique hotel suites that will overlook the Starlight Theater event lawn and the new pool and entertainment complex; expanded gaming and casino bar space; a parking garage expansion; a completely remodeled restaurant promenade; a complete refresh of the entire casino interior; a complete refresh of the entire existing hotel tower.

“Our ability to exponentially expand and refresh Pala Casino Spa & Resort is a true testament to, not only the growth of Pala but also to the thriving economy and the continued strength of the gaming industry in California,” said RobertSmith, Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians. “This is a significant milestone for our Tribe and we look forward to continuing to exceed the expectations of our loyal patrons.”

Once completed, Pala’s hotel will offer 854 deluxe rooms and suites, beautifully appointed with the finest amenities. The hotel suites that will be added will overlook the new multi-pool and entertainment complex and the Starlight Theater, Pala’s custom built outdoor entertainment venue, which offers outstanding headliner acts and state-of-the-art sound and lighting.

The project will increase Pala’s casino from its current 90,000 square feet to over 102,000square feet of gaming space. The expansion will allow Pala Casino to increase its offering of the slot and video machines to 2,500 and its offering of table games to 88.

“We are very excited to engage in our third major expansion since our introduction to the SouthernCalifornia gaming and hospitality market more than 16 years ago. As in the past, we expect elements of this expansion and upgrade to be unique to our property and to set new resort standards,” said Bill Bembenek, Chief ExecutiveOfficer of Pala Casino Spa & Resort. “This significant expansion project will complement our already luxurious resort offerings while providing our patrons with new world-class amenities.”

Pala’s renovation and expansion project will create 400 construction jobs and, once complete, add over 200 new employment opportunities to Pala’s current team of 2,000 team members.

The construction company selected for the renovation and expansion is Level 10 Construction with headquarters in San Francisco, CA, and offices in Sunnyvale and San Diego, CA. The architect is Klai Juba Wald of Las Vegas, NV. The contributing architect is Marks Architects of San Diego, CA.

For more information onPala Casino Spa & Resort,
visit: www.palacasino.com.

The Pala Band of MissionIndians is a federally recognized tribe whose reservation is located along the Palomar Mountain range approximately 30 miles northeast of San Diego. The majority of the over 900tribal members live on the 12,000-acre reservation, established for Cupeño and Luiseño Indians, who consider themselves to be one proud people - Pala.

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Wells Fargo’s tips to finding the right home

While viewing a house in Oregon wine country, potential buyers mentioned to real estate agent BethCaster that the sellers really should have set a higher price. Bad move. The sellers had a video surveillance system, heard the conversation, and slammed the door on any negotiations.

The moral: House hunting is not exactly what it used to be. Finances aside, how can you land the house that’s right for you in today’s market? Much of it is common sense, but hereare seven tips that may not always be apparent:

1. Don’t buy without an agent.

In today’s technology-driven world, it’s easier than ever to go it alone, relying on sites like Trulia (www.trulia.com), Realtor.com (www.realtor.com) and even social media. However, while you’re likely to get a lot of data, without representation you risk missing out on analysis and negotiating skills. Brian Carothers, of RE/MAX Advanced Realtors in westernPennsylvania, says, “If your realtor represents only you and not the seller, the agent can convey the reality of a house to help you make the right decision. I let clients fall in love with the bath, but I look for anything structural.” Carothers will warn clients, “This house is going to make you spend money where you don’t want to spend it.”

2. Consider the neighborhood too.
For many people, what’s most important in a neighborhood is “safety and proximity to work, good schools, family and friends,” says Steven Long, of Long Realty, aBerkshire-Hathaway subsidiary in Tucson, Arizona. While those things are critical to your long-term happiness, there should be other considerations too.

“Get out of the car and walk around. Are the neighbors friendly? Do they offer information?” saysCaster. Carothers urges clients to revisit the area without him. “Go at different times of the day. Does it feel different in the evening? And drive to work from the neighborhood, especially during rush hour.” If there’s a home owners association, be careful, but don’t jump to the automatic conclusion that it’s a negative.

3. Know what suits you, and be honest.
Beyond the obvious (like the number of rooms), you have to determine what floor plan suits you. “Open floor plans have become the new standard,” says Carothers, but they’re not for everyone. An open floor plan can be great for entertaining or keeping track of children. “If, on the other hand, your family members want more privacy or you want to contain or manage clutter, then a traditional house with more walls is better.” It may be better for zoned heating and air-conditioning too.

Remember, your agent is on your side. “Give honest feedback to your realtor,” says Castor. “These aren’t my homes, you won’t hurt my feelings by telling me exactly what you feel.”

4. Know the trends, but think twice.
McMansions and three-car garages were once the rage, but they have since lost some of their allure — as many trends do. “I see buyers more interested in energy efficiency, solid construction, and safety of the neighborhood. They want smaller lots with less grass and upkeep,” says Caster. Carothers says personal preference should take precedence over trends or even resale value. What matters most, he says, is this: “Do you like the space? Can you live with the space?”

5. Delve further into the house.
When it’s time for a house inspection, Long encourages buyers to accompany the inspector. “The inspector will not only reveal issues with the home but will tell you how the home operates. Meet with the sellers prior to close of escrow, too, so they can explain how things work.” This could range from tips on the heating and cooling systems to making sure you know where the owners’ manuals are for appliances.

6. Investigate homeowners associations (HOAs) and condos.
Talk with the other owners in the neighborhood or complex and ask them how well the complex is managed. “HOAs can be a pain,”admits Long, “but they maintain the integrity of a subdivision, and hence property values.”
Understanding condo regulations is even more important: “How many parking spots are there? What about pets? Some condos will not even allow Christmas wreaths on doors,”cautions Caster. “And make sure the association or condo is financially able to make needed repairs.”

7. Be realistic.
“No house is perfect, even when people build their own,” says Carothers. Compounding that, he adds, is a current lack of inventory in some markets. Therefore, buyers have to be realistic and keep asking themselves, “Does this work?”

Here's the paradox:“Buyers today must be patient and aggressive at the same time,” he explains.“They’re unlikely to find the exact house of their dreams, but when something close does come up, they must leap at it.” Carothers pauses, then adds, “It’s a delicate balance.”

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BEYOND EMBARGO | N. Korea factories humming with ‘Made in China’ clothes, traders say

North Korean workers make soccer shoes inside a temporary factory at a rural village on the edge of Dandong, Liaoning province, China, October 24, 2012.


DANDONG, China – Chinese textile firms are increasingly using North Korean factories to take advantage of cheaper labor across the border, traders and businesses in the border city of Dandong told Reuters.

The clothes made in North Korea are labeled “Made in China” and exported across the world, they said.

Using North Korea to produce cheap clothes for sale around the globe shows that for every door that is closed by ever-tightening UN sanctions another one may open. The UN sanctions, introduced to punish North Korea for its missile and nuclear programs, do not include any bans on textile exports.

“We take orders from all over the world,” said one Korean-Chinese businessman in Dandong, the Chinese border city where the majority of North Korea trade passes through. Like many people Reuters interviewed for this story, he spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Dozens of clothing agents operate in Dandong, acting as go-betweens for Chinese clothing suppliers and buyers from the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Canada and Russia, the businessman said.

“We will ask the Chinese suppliers who work with us if they plan on being open with their client — sometimes the final buyer won’t realize their clothes are being made in North Korea. It’s extremely sensitive,” he said.

Textiles were North Korea’s second-biggest export after coal and other minerals in 2016, totaling $752 million, according to data from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA). Total exports from North Korea in 2016 rose 4.6 percent to $2.82 billion.

The latest UN sanctions, agreed earlier this month, have completely banned coal exports now.

Its flourishing textiles industry shows how impoverished North Korea has adapted, with a limited embrace of market reforms, to sanctions since 2006 when it first tested a nuclear device. The industry also shows the extent to which North Korea relies on China as an economic lifeline, even as US President Donald Trump piles pressure on Beijing to do more to rein in its neighbor’s weapons programs.

Chinese exports to North Korea rose almost 30 percent to $1.67 billion in the first half of the year, largely driven by textile materials and other traditional labor-intensive goods not included on the United Nations embargo list, Chinese customs spokesman Huang Songping told reporters.

Chinese suppliers send fabrics and other raw materials required for manufacturing clothing to North Korean factories across the border where garments are assembled and exported.

Factories humming

Australian sportswear brand Rip Curl publicly apologized last year when it was discovered that some of its ski gear, labeled “Made in China”, had been made in one of North Korea’s garment factories. Rip Curl blamed a rogue supplier for outsourcing to “an unauthorized subcontractor”.

But traders and agents in Dandong say it’s a widespread practice.

Manufacturers can save up to 75 percent by making their clothes in North Korea, said a Chinese trader who has lived in Pyongyang.

Some of the North Korean factories are located in Siniuju city just across the border from Dandong. Other factories are located outside Pyongyang. Finished clothing is often directly shipped from North Korea to Chinese ports before being sent onto the rest of the world, the Chinese traders and businesses said.

North Korea has about 15 large garment exporting enterprises, each operating several factories spread around the country, and dozens of medium sized companies, according to GPI Consultancy of the Netherlands, which helps foreign companies do business in North Korea.

All factories in North Korea are state-owned. And the textile ones appear to be humming, traders and agents say. “We’ve been trying to get some of our clothes made in North Korea but the factories are fully booked at the moment,” said a Korean-Chinese businesswoman at a factory in Dalian, a Chinese port city two hours away from Dandong by train.

“North Korean workers can produce 30 percent more clothes each day than a Chinese worker,” said the Korean-Chinese businessman.

“In North Korea, factory workers can’t just go to the toilet whenever they feel like, otherwise they think it slows down the whole assembly line.”

“They aren’t like Chinese factory workers who just work for the money. North Koreans have a different attitude — they believe they are working for their country, for their leader.”

And they are paid wages significantly below many other Asian countries. North Korean workers at the now shuttered Kaesong industrial zone just across the border from South Korea received wages ranging from a minimum of around $75 a month to an average of around $160, compared to average factory wages of $450-$750 a month in China. Kaesong was run jointly with South Korea and the wage structure – much higher than in the rest of North Korea – was negotiated with Seoul.

Workers in China

Chinese clothing manufacturers have been increasingly using North Korean textile factories even as they relocate their own factories offshore, including to Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia.

“Wages are too high in China now. It’s no wonder so many orders are being sent to North Korea,” said a Korean-Chinese businesswoman who works in the textiles industry in Dandong.

Chinese textile companies are also employing thousands of cheaper North Korean workers in China.

North Korea relies on overseas workers to earn hard currency, especially since UN sanctions have choked off some other sources of export earnings. Much of their wages are remitted back to the state and help fund Pyongyang’s ambitious nuclear and missile programs, the UN says.

The new UN sanctions imposed on North Korea this month ban countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working abroad.

China does not disclose official figures for the number of North Koreans working in factories and restaurants in China, although numbers are down from a peak period two to three years ago, according to Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea specialist at Beijing’s Renmin University.

“It’s a hassle to hire North Korean workers though,” the Korean-Chinese businesswoman from Dalian said. “You need to have the right set-up. Their living space has to be completely closed off, you have to provide a classroom where they can take classes every day. They bring their own doctor, nurse, cook and teachers who teach them North Korean ideology every day.”

One clothing factory that Reuters visited in Dandong employs 40 North Korean workers. They fill smaller orders for clients who are more stringent about their supply chains and expressly request no production inside North Korea.

North Korean factory workers in China earn about 2,000 yuan ($300.25), about half of the average for Chinese workers, the factory owner said.

They are allowed to keep around a third of their wages, with the rest going to their North Korean government handlers, he said. A typical shift at the factory runs from 7:30 a.m. to around 10 p.m.

The workers – all women dressed in pink and black uniforms – sat close together behind four rows of sewing machines, working on a consignment of dark-colored winter jackets. The Chinese characters for “clean” and “tidy” were emblazoned in bold blue lettering above their heads and the main factory floor was silent but for the tapping and whirring of sewing machines.

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FOREST CITY | A metropolis of the future rises in Malaysia

Perspective scale model of the Forest City development project in Iskandar, Malaysia.
For the Chinese developer Country Garden Pacificview, the city of the future would have residents from different parts of the world, plants covering the surfaces of buildings, and a multi-layer mobility system where pedestrians and cyclists own the main roads, and cars are relegated to underground.

And this is exactly what’s being accomplished in the company’s 20-year flagship project Forest City, located along the coast in the special economic zone of Iskandar in Malaysia. Neighboring Singapore is less than 30 minutes away by car.

The residential and commercial mixed-use development occupies 20 square kilometers of reclaimed islands and 10 square kilometers of the main island.

Southeast Asian journalists were invited to visit the township over the weekend, where they toured the Harbor Commercial Street, a retail area with duty-free shops, restaurants, and boutiques; stayed in Phoenix Hotel, a luxury accommodation with 283 guest rooms, restaurants, and meeting rooms; and looked at the first of four Industrialized Building System factories that would supply the prefabricated parts to be assembled on-site in Forest City homes.

Reporters also viewed the lavish, seaside Peony Littoral villas, with the biggest unit being a three and a half-storey house that occupies 6,500 square feet (approximately 600 square meters). Priced at 19 million Malaysian ringgit (about PhP224 million), it has six bedrooms, a bespoke elevator, a balcony, and a garden. Some 233 units will be completed by the end of 2018. All have been sold to buyers mostly from China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan.

With a US$100 billion investment, the development of Forest City began two years ago. After an environmental impact assessment, the first phase of reclamation began in March 2015. It opened in March 2016.

It is sparsely populated for now, with only employees, construction workers, shopkeepers, security guards, and some tourists bustling about.

But Country Garden Pacificview president and chief strategy officer Dr. Runze Yu envisions that, by 2020, residents will have already moved in, and the community will be a much livelier one.

A duty-free shopping mall will have opened; all three golf courses – including one designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus – will be up and running; and a landmark building will be ready for entrepreneurs to build their businesses in.

International school Shattuck-St. Mary’s will also be on its third year of operation by then.

“Everybody is talking about smart cities, but they don’t have a concrete (example),” says Yu, who leads regional strategy and business development for Forest City. “We studied every part of the world for smart cities. And the conclusion is, it’s always public sector-driven. We never saw a single successful case led by the private sector. So we want to be the first to try.”

Residents can look forward to living in a forest-like environment, with rooftop gardens, sky gardens, and coastal mangrove parks.

“They will be ready for the future climate change and sea level rise. Also, there’s a public space for the citizens in Forest City. So it’s very beautifully done,” Yu says. He also assures that the reclaimed area is “safe and geologically stable.”

As in the Phoenix Hotel, plants will cover the buildings’ surfaces to purify the air, lower indoor temperature, and reduce outdoor noise. There will be rainwater harvesting facilities, as well.

Houses will have smart electric and water meters, smart lighting and locks, automatic plant watering, an interconnected video intercom system, and a smart identification system along with the rest of the community for security.

As for its multi-layer mobility system, all roads, interchanges, and car parks will be underground. Pedestrians and bicycles will occupy the surface, and they will be only a few moments away from public transportation. There will be a light rail transit system, as well.

“The whole idea is to separate non-motorized transportation from the cars,” Yu says.

Forest City will be a prime model of “a green and smart futuristic city,” he adds.

The developer aims to attract eight industries: Tourism and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions); healthcare; education and training; regional headquarters; near-shore finance: e-commerce; emerging technology; and green and smart technology.

This year, Yu targets the tourism sector, in particular, given that Forest City’s duty-free center will be fully operational by November, and a jetty is being built in front of the hotel.

The “residential part” of the project is going smoothly, he says. “That’s why I need to produce more content for them. Even before actual homeowners are moving in, tourists should have something to do here.”

Yu hopes that young entrepreneurs will find a home in Forest City to build their businesses and enjoy cheaper living expenses compared to Singapore.

He also wants to lure nurses, doctors, hospital managers, and other professionals for a medical care hub and wellness center.

He disclosed that the project has sparked interest from at least one Philippine developer group, which paid a visit recently. Yu does not divulge the name, but has this to say: “They tried to get inspired, I would say, because this is a reclamation project. Not everywhere you can get the opportunity to reclaim.”

He adds that there are “follow-up discussions” with the group.

Yu says he and Country Garden chairman Yang Guoqiang met President Rodrigo Duterte during a lunch meeting with other companies in Hong Kong a few months ago, where the latter welcomed them and all other investors to the Philippines, where corruption “has been greatly reduced.”

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PG&E Survey finds only 1 in 7 customers call free 811 utility marking service ahead of digging projects

San Francisco, CA -- Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) this week announced findings from a recent survey of 1,750 of its customers that shows 811 -- the free service to mark underground utility lines -- is well-known but misunderstood and underused in Northern and Central California. To keep everyone safe when digging, PG&E is urging all of its customers, excavators, first responders and businesses across the state to promote the free service and most importantly, to use the service two business days ahead of any digging projects.

Common misconceptions among customers surveyed include:

Over 50 percent of customers think it's safe to dig up to 12 inches before needing to call 811.All customers and excavators need to call 811 every time they dig, no matter how deep they dig.Almost 20 percent of customers believe it's safe to plant a tree without calling 811.Any time customers plant trees in their yards, they need to call 811 two business days before.Of the customers who have never called 811 before digging, 60 percent felt their project was too small or believed it was already safe where they were digging.

"PG&E is committed to keeping the community safe, but we need the help of our customers and the community to avoid the potential hazards caused by dig-ins. Our recent survey gets to the heart of the safety issue showing that three in four of our customers are aware of the 811 free marking, but only one in seven have ever called 811 before digging. That's not good and it needs to get better. Calling 811 is simple, free and can prevent injuries or even save a life," said PG&E's Jesus Soto, senior vice president of Gas Operations.

"We want to send the message that no digging project is too small, any time a shovel or digging tool strikes the earth, you need to call 811. Whether you're planting a tree, installing a mailbox or performing a large-scale excavation, calling 811 or using the new online tool 811express.com should always be the first step," said Ryan White, general manager of USA North 811.

Last year, there were more than 1,735 strikes on PG&E's underground infrastructure. Of those dig-ins, more than 55 percent had not called ahead to have underground utility lines properly marked. In 2016, the average cost to those who damaged PG&E's underground utility lines, including fines and repairs, amounted to $7,500.

August 11 is National Safe Digging Day where the importance of calling 811 two business days before digging is recognized across the nation.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation?s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ andpge.com/news.

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Five “adulting” tips to help you prepare financially for your first solo travel journey

By Shuyi Wang 

Growing up comes with a lot of responsibilities: getting a job, paying bills, buying or renting a house – the list can seem endless. Yet, being an adult also means you have more freedom to do the things you love, like travel. 

Taking your first trip can be fun and exciting, but there are aspects of the planning process that require adult-like responsibilities. If you’re planning your first solo trip, there’s a good chance you’re a Millennial and studies show you’re willing to spend more on travel than other generations ($879 per trip, to be exact). Planning ahead and learning the financial ins-and-outs of travel early can help maximize your travel adventure.

To help you financially prepare for your first travel journey, here are five “adulting” tips you should not overlook before, during and after your trip: 

  1. Plan Ahead

Before you go out of town, take a minute to organize your finances, including any payments that might be due while you’re away. Set-up account alerts to remind you of when a credit card payment is due or when a deposit is made. Some companies also allow you to receive electronic bills and view electronic copies of your statements online.

Additionally, planning ahead can help you get organized and grow your budget. If you’re looking to grow your savings balance for your trip, there are apps designed to help you achieve your goals. The Wells Fargo Daily ChangeSM App is a great example of how you can turn saving into a habit by alerting you to transfer money from checking to your savings account. 

  1. Give a Heads-up 

Be sure to give your bank a heads-up that you’re travelling and what cards you’re planning to use. This way, you can help avoid having your charges viewed as suspicious by your bank, even if you are traveling domestically

Some banks will soon offer new features that will simplify banking and help customers avoid financial inconveniences. Wells Fargo will introduce a predictive banking feature that uses artificial intelligence to analyze your financial patterns and then provides personalized insights to help you avoid financial pitfalls or inconveniences. For instance, when you make a travel purchase, such as buying a flight, the predictive banking tool will use this information to provide a personalized message. For example, the feature might suggest you set-up a travel plan for your account and provide a link with information on how to do so to help avoid interruptions when using your debit or credit card.

  1. Do your Research 

Learn about the local currency so you have money for taxis, tips, and meals at hand. If you’re planning to use a credit card, be aware that other places may have additional criteria around credit card acceptance. For example in Europe, some merchants may only accept “smart cards” encrypted with a chip or personal identification number (PIN). There may also be fees for ATM withdrawals. Find out your daily ATM and withdrawal limits and daily card purchase limits before you leave to make sure they will fit your needs. Also make sure you look into the currency exchange rate so you know what you’re paying in U.S. dollars. Some credit card providers may also offer no foreign currency conversion fees, like the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card, which can help you avoid some added costs for transactions converted to U.S. dollars. 

  1. Travel with Confidence

Having a back-up plan is always a good idea. The same applies when it comes to your finances. If you’re planning to use credit, store a second back-up credit card in a safe and separate place in case you lose your primary card. It’s also wise to store your financial institution's contact information along with your passport. 

If you’re planning a road-trip, don’t forget to also budget for things like gas and food while on the road. Although it may seem a little dated, always carry a map in case your GPS stops working or you lose phone service. Equally important is to make sure you have your driver’s license with you at all times and your vehicle registration and proof of insurance in the vehicle. 

  1. Make the Most Out of It

If you regularly use a credit card, check your rewards balance. You may have earned enough rewards to offset vacation costs like airfare and hotel stays. You can also redeem your points for prepaid debit cards to use as your spending money. Prepaid cards can also be a great way to stay on budget — but you do need to make sure they’re accepted where you’re headed.

In addition to rewards programs, many cards offer little known perks that can help make your travel smoother. For example, some credit cards offer 24/7 concierge services that can help you plan your trip. Your card may also offer rental car and travel insurance, no-fee currency conversions, competitive currency conversion rates, and cell phone protection when you pay your bill with an eligible credit card. To learn more, read your credit card’s Guide to Benefits, Card Terms and Conditions, and Card Account Agreement. Also, by responsibly using your rewards credit card for vacation costs, rewards can add up. You can redeem them later – perhaps, for your next vacation

Preparing for the financial aspects of your vacation may not be the most fun part of your trip planning and can even seem too adult-like. However, financially planning ahead can help make your first solo travel experience much more enjoyable.

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LTFRB fines Uber and Grab ‘to put things in order'

MANILA -- The Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board on Wednesday clarified that the P5-M fine it imposed on Tuesday, July 11, on Uber and Grab for various violations is a way of putting things in order.
"Because they are new players ... while we embrace the technology, we made it clear sa kanila yesterday that we have to put things in order," said LTFRB spokesperson Atty. Aileen Lizada in an interview on Unang Balita.
"If we follow the Memorandum Circular 2015-016 dated May 28, 2016, ang nakalagay dito is cancellation of accreditation. Ngayon there is such a thing as compassionate justice po no. And ang guidance kasi sa amin ng Congress is that continue to accredit TNCs [transportation network companies] while we await legislation from Congress," Lizada said.
"Kaya ang nangyayari ho ngayon sa LTFRB, whenever we see concerns that we need to address, then we act. Or kagaya nung December, we put a price cut on their surge. There is only two ngayon lang ho. And then we ask for their master list [of all their partner operators],"
On Tuesday, LTFRB imposed the P5-million fine on Uber and Grab for various violations of terms and conditions. These include allowing Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) drivers to operate even without Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) franchise or Provisional Authority (PA).
Grab Philippines on Wednesday, June 12, said it will comply with the P5 million fine.
"The fine itself is the message already why we needed to sanction them for violations of their terms and conditions, one of which is that only duly franchised TN vehicles should provide a prearranged ride," Lizada said.
The LTFRB spokesperson added that the board will create a technical working group with Uber and Grab "so we can understand them better."
Lizada clarified that the LTFRB accredits TNCs, but they give franchises to TNVS, who are the partner operators of the TNCs.
"Hindi ho colorum ang Grab, Uber, U-hop. They are accredited. Ang mga colorum dito, 'yun ho ang aming iniiwasan na malagay sa alanganin, 'yung mga ina-accredit nila. Because they think na pwede silang mag-book ng rides once meron silang app. Hindi ho. 'Pag may case number kayo, pag may PA [Provisional Authority] kayo, diyan na kayo pwedeng mag-book ng rides," Lizada said.
"So right now ang sinasabi namin, only those with PAs, I hope, Grab and Uber are listening, only those with PAs and CPCs [Certificate of Public Convenience] must be on the road to book a ride. We will fine-tune everything next week when we create the technical working group," she added.
Lizada added that Congress has given the LTFRB the authority to give a franchise. "Mananagot ho kami sa Kongreso if we do not comply also with our mandate," she said.
"We are balancing and looking at the bigger picture because to the patronizers of Uber and Grab, if we want to hit hard, ang penalty ho talaga ay cancellation ng accreditation. Then you will no longer have Uber and Grab. Is that what you want? Hindi naman siguro," Lizada added.
"Kaya nga inaayos natin because we see that there is a niche, there is a demand for them. But we have to put things in order," she said.
Grab's accreditation is up for renewal in July, while Uber's is up for renewal in August, Lizada said. — GMA News

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Okada sues family in bid to regain gambling empire

By A Reuters Exclusive


Photo:Universal Entertainment Corp's founder Kazuo Okada poses for a photo near the venue of the company's annual general meeting in Tokyo, Japan, June 29, 2017. REUTERS File Photo

TOKYO – Japanese casino and slot machine tycoon Kazuo Okada has filed a lawsuit against his son, daughter and wife in Hong Kong in an attempt to regain control of his sprawling business empire, according to a court filing and Okada.

Okada, 74, told Reuters in an interview that he saw a lawsuit as the only way to get his son and daughter to the negotiating table after they took control of the board of a Hong Kong company at the center of his business holdings in May.

Okada Holdings Ltd, the Hong Kong company that is majority owner of Tokyo-listed gambling machine maker Universal Entertainment Corp, is also a defendant in the suit, according to the Hong Kong High Court online database, though Okada himself didn’t confirm that. It was unclear on what grounds the suit was brought and no other details were available from the court.

Okada declined to respond to questions about the details of the suit, which Reuters was unable to view, but said he believed he had been wronged by the move to push him out as director of Okada Holdings, a change that was registered on May 12, according to a public filing.

Okada said he hasn’t seen his son Tomohiro in two years and does not know his daughter Hiromi’s current whereabouts. Reuters was unable to reach either of them at addresses in public records. Both are Okada’s children from a previous marriage.

Okada said he hoped a lawsuit would prompt a judge to order them to negotiate a settlement that would restore his position at Okada Holdings.

“Unless I sue there will be no opportunity to talk. The reality is I am in a losing position in terms of voting rights,” Okada said, referring to his 46.4 percent stake in Okada Holdings, versus Tomohiro and Hiromi’s combined 53 percent.

Okada said he did not find out he was dropped as Okada Holdings’ director until May 18. He said Universal’s board told him on May 23 that he was being investigated for alleged misuse of company funds. That was followed by Universal’s announcement on May 31 that he would not be reappointed to its board. “I was totally blindsided,” Okada said.

The interview took place last Thursday in the restaurant of a Tokyo hotel where Universal was holding its annual shareholders’ meeting. Okada had been denied entry on the grounds he is not a direct shareholder since the Hong Kong holding firm holds his stake.

Universal declined to respond to Okada’s assertions. It said it would make additional disclosures once an internal investigation it recently launched to probe Okada’s alleged improper use of company funds had submitted its findings.

Cannot forgive

Okada said Tomohiro turned against him because his son believed he was not being paid dividends from Universal commensurate with his 43.5 percent stake in Okada Holdings. Okada said he planned to investigate the matter.
Okada said he was confident he could convince Hiromi to support him as long as he could get her brother to work towards a settlement.

As for his wife Takako, Okada said he could not forgive her for agreeing to be reappointed to Universal’s board. The company said Thursday that Takako would take on responsibility for Okada’s art museum and advise the company on its overseas business.

Takako, 43, did not respond to letters left at her home, an email sent to her company address, or a request to speak relayed through her mother.

Last month, Universal issued a press release accusing Okada and another director of misappropriating some $20 million in company funds in three transactions during 2015. It convened an investigative panel composed of three attorneys that is now looking for other alleged irregularities.

Okada described the company’s allegations as “nonsense”. For example, he said one of the transactions in question was a loan not due until November that had been used for a legitimate purpose: to expand junket operations aimed at attracting high-rollers to Universal’s casino in the Philippines.

“That contract is still active. There is no problem.” Okada said he could not provide a copy of the contract for Reuters to review because it was located at a company office to which he no longer has access.

Okada said he viewed the investigation as an attempt by Universal President Jun Fujimoto to seize control. Okada noted that he had handpicked Fujimoto to help lead the company founded five decades ago. “I made Fujimoto president. Now he wants to take over.”

Fujimoto called Okada “unfit” to be the director of a public company and vowed to prove that with “irrefutable physical evidence” in a private letter to a shareholder on June 21, Reuters reported last week.

Universal declined to make Fujimoto available for comment. Universal said it was not in a position to comment about Okada’s allegations against Fujimoto. Two new directors at Okada Holdings did not respond to emails seeking comment.

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PG&E Begins Daily Aerial Patrols to Spot and Speed Wildfire Response

San Francisco, CA -- Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has begun daily aerial fire detection patrols across hundreds of miles of its service area. The patrols are to assist the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE and local fire agencies with early fire detection and response this summer. PG&E is launching the patrols this week due to an increase in fire danger from rising temperatures, coupled with the potential for winds. The patrols also will occur in time for the Independence Day holiday with its risk of fires sparked by illegal or misuse of “Safe and Sane” fireworks.

“Even though the drought emergency has been lifted in most California counties, the wet winter resulted in a significant grass crop. That, with 102 million dead trees in our forests, is a potentially dangerous combination. We all must remain vigilant this summer when it comes to wildfire prevention and preparation,” said Kevin Dasso, PG&E vice president of Electric Asset Management.

The patrols will run until October 31, unless conditions allow for an earlier end. Five planes will fly daily routes from late afternoon until dusk, when wildfires are most likely to ignite with hot, dry weather at its peak.

Using fixed-wing aircraft, fire spotters will operate along these routes:

Redding to Auburn in the Northern SierraAuburn to Auberry in the Southern SierraRedding to Humboldt to Lake CountyVacaville to Solvang near the coast Mendocino County

The patrols are coordinated through PG&E’s aerial operations. The Mendocino County route is co-funded by PG&E and run by the Mendocino County Aerial Fire Patrol Co-Operative. The Co-Op patrol will begin July 1 and run through October 15.

In 2016, the third year of the patrols, PG&E and Mendocino Co-Op planes spotted 142 fires, and in seven instances, PG&E was first to report the fires to CAL FIRE or the U.S. Forest Service. Early detection of smoke or fire allows fire agencies to quickly respond to accurate locations to put out fires before they spread.

“CAL FIRE has responded to over 1,700 wildfires since January 1, 2017 that have resulted in more than 18,000 acres burned across California,” said Chief Joe Tyler, CAL FIRE’s assistant deputy director of fire protection. “We appreciate the aerial patrols PG&E does to look for potential fire starts, especially in those areas most impacted by the unprecedented tree mortality."

PG&E funds the patrols as part of its ongoing response to California’s tree mortality emergency caused by years of drought and bark beetle infestation. In addition to its daily aerial fire patrols, PG&E is conducting enhanced ground patrols on 73,000 miles of electric power line to inspect and remove dead and dying trees that could fall into a line and cause a fire. PG&E provided $2 million to local Fire Safe Councils this year to fund 43 fuel reduction projects in 21 counties. The company is also supporting CAL FIRE’s public education campaign to help raise and drive awareness of fire risk, prevention and response.

Dead trees are an extreme fire danger because they allow wildfires to spread rapidly. If you have dead or dying trees on your property, the entire tree needs to be removed. Contact PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 or online at www.pge.com/treesanddrought before removing dead trees near power lines. You can learn more about bark beetle and how to remove dead trees on your property through CAL FIRE's www.ReadyforWildfire.org.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and pge.com/news.

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