http://i.imgur.com/j9TJzzN.gif

Holidays in Asia, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, wonder of Asia

Guesthouse, Villa, Bungalows

nicest beaches, crystal clear waters

Tangalle / Southcoast

Villa Araliya

now special offers

Global News Search

Please make the Cache directory writable.
Please make the Cache directory writable.
Please make the Cache directory writable.

Who's online

We have 177 guests online

Search

A+ R A-
The push toward a cashless society is becoming more of a shove. From Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog: The push toward a cashless society is becoming more of a shove.  Before today I had never heard of “The Visa Cashless Challenge”, but after reading about it I have to say that I am quite alarmed.  […] The post Cashless Society Alert: Visa Will Be Giving Up To $500,000 To Restaurants That Go ‘100% Cashless’ appeared first on Silver Doctors.

Read more: Silver Doctors

Over on the Billboard Country Charts, a song called "In Case You Didn't Know" by Brett Young is sitting at the No. 2 spot. Young is relatively new to the country music scene, and just last year, he went out on a radio tour across the U.S., as many new country artists do. The radio tour is a right of passage for new singers in the industry. After an artist signs a deal with a label, they travel around America, visiting upwards of a hundred radio stations. The singers meet with radio program directors, trying to convince them to add their songs to the rotation. The tour is exhausting, but the artists do it because even in this age of online music streaming, traditional radio is the way to become a star in the country music world. Emily Yahr wrote about the country music radio tour for the Washington Post, and Marketplace's Adriene Hill spoke to her about what keeps the tradition going.  Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Read more: Marketplace All Stories

On the heels of the recent capitulation in the gold and silver markets, today King World News interviewed the man who has been in the gold and silver business for over 44 years, and what he said about the panic selling that is now taking place was truly fascinating. The post ALERT: 44-Year Market Veteran Says Retail Panic Selling Now Taking Place In Gold & Silver Markets! appeared first on King World News.

Read more: http://kingworldnews.com/alert-44-year-market-veteran-says-retail-panic-selling-now-taking-place-gold-silver-markets/

In what may be one of the most significant foreign policy decisions of his first year in office, Trump is shutting down the CIA's covert program to arm rebels fighting the Syrian government. This would constitute a monumental shift in terms of US priorities in Syria which throughout most of the 6-year long war have focused on removing Bashar al-Assad. The Washington Post reports: Officials said Trump made the decision to scrap the CIA program nearly a month ago, after an Oval Office meeting

Read more:

Authored by Mark Melin via ValueWalk.com, While central bank interest rate policy has been a relatively muted factor in stock market performance recently – successive rate hikes and hawkish Fed inclinations have mostly been warmly greeted by stock market advances – this pattern is about to change, predicts a July 18 Macquarie research report. Central bank quantitative interest rate repression, known euphemistically as “stimulus,” has created a mirage of tranquility that

Read more:

So far this summer at the movies we've seen "Wonder Woman," a new "Spider-Man," a shark thriller and a car chase-musical mashup. Many would say, though, that the summer movie list is missing a key item: a classic baseball movie. As the New York Times Magazine puts it, "Where Did the Great Hollywood Baseball Movie Go?" Jay Caspian Kang, author of the article, explores this question with host Adriene Hill. An edited transcript of their conversation follows.  Adriene Hill: Why has the great Hollywood baseball movie disappeared? Jay Caspian Kang: I think that a lot like the rest of Hollywood right now, baseball movies are suffering from foreign rights and the idea that you can't really get a movie made with a big budget unless it sells in China or other parts of Asia. And I think baseball movies even more so than other sports movies don't really translate to international audiences, so it's very difficult to get funding for them. But I think on another level, our sentimental relationship with baseball might have changed over the past 15 or 20 years, and I'm not sure that you can still make the same type of movie that you made in the late '80s and the early '90s, which is sort of like sentimentalized fathers and sons in the sort of middle Americana. Hill: Is that because of the strike or is it something else? What about our relationship with the sport itself has changed? Kang: Starting in 1994, I think the strike and then the steroid era purged a lot of the sentimentality that comes along with it. I think there's also this thing, which, you know, I certainly don't blame on the players at all, or even on the economy of baseball, where I think in the early '80s or in the '70s you could sort of imagine that somebody that you grew up with who you could relate to would be playing on the field. But given the salaries of the players and how public they are and how rich they are, it's very difficult to make anything about sports that feels modern and current that doesn't discuss like the lifestyle of these players. Because you have to at some point address the fact that this guy is making like $20 million a year, and that his life is very, very different from the person who's watching the drama unfold. Related 42 the movie: A legendary baseball star and a luxury hotel chain? What a baseball game has to do with NAFTA negotiations Meet the baseball player who invented the high five Hill: That's interesting that we've sort of lost the ability to connect to these players in some way. Kang: Yeah, and you know, I think that some of it unfortunately is probably about race as well. I mean, you know, I think that since the '80s and '90s, the demographics of baseball has changed quite a bit and that a lot of the star players are now from Latin America and that baseball hasn't really done a good job of introducing these players to the rooting public. So I think that baseball itself has sort of lagged behind in trying to make a large portion of their player base accessible enough to even feature in a movie, however silly. Hill: And what about a great sports movie more broadly? As I was thinking about it, we're not seeing a ton of sports movies either, at least these schmaltzy sports movies of my childhood. Kang: Yeah, I think that the NBA probably has the best shot at it, because they have such a big fan base in China and around the world. But I just think that the NBA doesn't quite lend itself to being filmed in the same sort of way, because you don't have the moment where the guy walks out of the tunnel and then the field opens up in front of him and he gives a speech about, you know, this is a cathedral of my childhood, and my father was like a sardine canner... Hill: ... The sun shining through the cloud at the precise moment on his face. Kang: Yeah, exactly. So in a basketball arena, it would be like people shooting off a T-shirt cannons and loud music, so I don't know if it translates. At least it wouldn't work for me as well. But maybe there are some people for whom that sort of scene has a lot of sentimentality.

Read more: Marketplace All Stories

The U.S and China began talks in Washington today about trade and other issues. The talks — billed as an "economic dialogue" — have a couple of clouds hanging over them. Like North Korea and steel, which, the U.S. complains, China produces and sells too cheaply. But there are other issues. Chinese companies want access to U.S. markets and vice versa. One big concern of American tech companies: new hoops for firms that want to play on China's digital turf. Click the audio player above to hear the full story.  

Read more: Marketplace All Stories

Tax reform is like health care reform in at least one important way: If Republicans want to pass it without Democrats, they can’t raise the deficit too much over the long term. But tax experts who have analyzed the GOP’s main proposals say they would add trillions of dollars to the deficit.  Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

Read more: Marketplace All Stories

When you're a government agency, asking for a tax increase is always a hassle. As Ryan McMaken notes, for the most part, taxpayers don't like taxes, and if asked if they want to pay more, they're likely to often say "no." Moreover, when public officials pass tax increases, they may face the wrath of taxpayers at the ballot box. For this reason, governments are always looking for ways to get revenue without having to use tax revenue. One such 'hidden' method of

Read more:

The New York Civilian Complaint Review Board has just released a report [PDF] indicating NYPD officers are slow learners when it comes to recognizing citizens' right to record police officers. It's not that these officers have never been told. They have. The NYPD's "Finest Order" was handed down in 2014, telling officers citizens had a First Amendment right to film police. It's a response to a 2012 order by the Washington DC PD and a First Amendment lawsuit filed that year. It followed this up

Read more: Techdirt.

With so many articles dedicated to the debate on value stocks vs growth stocks I think it’s a good time to revisit what Seth Klarman calls ‘Value Pretenders’ in his best-selling book, Margin of Safety. Here’s an excerpt from that […] The post Seth Klarman – Beware of Value Pretenders appeared first on ValueWalk.

Read more: ValueWalk

One month after the CBO scored the now defunct Senate healthcare bill, forecasting it would increase the number of uninsured by 22 million while cutting the budget deficit by $321 billion over the next ten years, moments ago the CBO released its latest score of what a straight repeal of Obamacare would look like. In short, doing away with the Affordable Care Act, would increase the number of uninsured by 32 million by 2026, while reducing the budget deficit by $473 billion in the CBO's

Read more:

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein suggested he was uncomfortable with former FBI director James Comey’s decision to leak contents of a memo detailing an encounter between him and President Donald Trump where the president – according to Comey’s interpretation of events – pressured him to drop an FBI investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. Rosenstein’s comments were made during an interview with Fox News that’s set to air

Read more:

Jeffrey Sherman, DoubleLine’s Deputy CIO & Sam Lau, DoubleLine’s Asset Allocation Analyst, host a candid conversation:   Click for audio   The post Josh Brown on The Jeff Sherman Show (Episode 8) appeared first on The Big Picture.

Read more: The Big Picture

"Buy and Hold"... for 17 years to turn a profit. After a nine-day winning streak the S&P 500 Technology Sector has finaly surpassed its dotcom bubble peak. Today's 992.29 close is above the previous record of 988.49 on March 27 2000. As The FT notes, the S&P 500 technology index tumbled more than 80 per cent from its March 2000 peak as a wave of young Silicon Valley companies failed. Seventeen years ago, Cisco, Microsoft, Intel, Oracle and IBM were the largest US

Read more:

Nikkei Asian Review's William Pesek wonders if the BoJ is about to shock the markets again as pressure is mounting on Kuroda to save Abenomics... Masaaki Shirakawa could be forgiven for some Schadenfreude. In March 2013, the then-Bank of Japan governor was shown the door by a prime minister who felt he had not eased monetary policy enough. Now his successor is starting to worry about his own job security.   Two advisors to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have publicly suggested

Read more:

One month after the CBO scored the now defunct Senate healthcare bill, forecasting it would increase the number of uninsured by 22 million while cutting the budget deficit by $321 billion over the next ten years, moments ago the CBO released its latest score of what a straight repeal of Obamacare would look like. In short, doing away with the Affordable Care Act, would increase the number of uninsured by 32 million by 2026, while reducing the budget deficit by $473 billion in the CBO's view. Of

Read more:

In the middle of downtown Los Angeles' bustling Arts District, you’ll find the headquarters of Thousand occupying one of the few work/live lofts left in the area. It's a company that makes bicycle helmets, but think less duck-billed head gear and more Steve McQueen in the 1960s. Gloria Hwang, the co-founder and CEO of Thousand, thinks designing a bike helmet people will eagerly wear is the key to keeping more people safe on the road. Marketplace’s Adriene Hill spoke with Hwang about the inspiration for her company and why it’s not as easy as just designing a better-looking helmet. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation. Gloria Hwang: My story is I've been a longtime biker in Los Angeles and I never wore a bike helmet. And if I'm honest, it's just because I just thought they looked kind of dorky so... it's not a good reason. Adriene Hill: Right, yeah. Hwang: But it was my reason. And then a friend of mine passed away from a really bad accident. It was a head-first injury, in New York City; he wasn't wearing a bike helmet. And for me I was just... afterwards, it was just that feeling of: I need to start wearing a bike helmet to be responsible to myself, to be responsible to people around me. And I went on the market to find something I really liked, and, you know, could kind of represent. And I think I found things I thought were kind of passable, and I really thought to myself "Hey, you know if you make a bike helmet people actually want to wear, I think you can solve a public health crisis. You can prevent a lot of injuries and fatalities every year." And beyond that, I feel like you can really encourage cycling within cities because I thought people were like me. Like, the main reason they didn't want to bike was because they don't want to feel unsafe. So if you could give people way to feel safe then maybe they'd bike more. Gloria Hwang, Co-Founder and CEO of Thousand.  Photo Courtesy of Thousand Hill: Did you have any experience with bike helmets or designing? Hwang: Not at all.  Hill: Okay, you're like, I just want to make a cool-looking bike helmet?  Hwang: Yeah. You know what, my background was in philanthropy. I was actually former Toms. So I was in the "Giving Department" there. And my job was trying to help things have social impact that the company was doing. So my background is trying to find new ways to do good in the world. So the mission, that was in my background. But design was not. Again, design was something I just had to learn to make this happen. Hill: And describe your helmet. How did you make — what's it look like, for folks who can't see. Marketplace's Adriene Hill tries on a Thousand helmet at their headquarters in Los Angeles.  Robert Garrova / Marketplace Hwang: Going back to the whole like equestrian, vintage, moto thing, I really just try to put those two together. For me it was thinking, the coolest thing for me to find would be like a 60s or 70s scooter helmet in someone's basement. And can we take that concept and make it for today? Hill: So you have this idea for design. You want it to look like this sort of vintage scooter helmet... about like keeping it safe. Like I can't just look good; it actually has to do its job. How did you do that? Hwang: The helmet development process takes a year and a half. You have to pass CPSC testing in the U.S. which is, like, 20 different tests. We also sell a lot in Europe. So we have CE testing, which is an additional 20 other tests. So that whole testing process takes like four months. And the really crazy thing about bike helmets is you have to build everything to production level before you can test it. So that means you have to invest all of the money in design, in all the molds. You have to build the whole thing of what you're going to sell to the public, and before you can, you have to test it. And if that fails, you've got to go to the beginning again. Helmets at Thousand headquarters in Los Angeles  Robert Garrova / Marketplace Hill: So how much does it cost to develop a new helmet? Hwang: Minimum six figures. Hill: Where did you guys come up with that? Hwang: While I was at Toms, I had this idea and I was like, okay, I'm going to start working nights and weekends on it. And I put together a Kickstarter concept. At the time, I was trying to raise twenty grand. By the time that campaign closed, we had close to a quarter of a million dollars. I actually thought Kickstarter was broken! Because pledges were coming in but they were all from people I didn't know. So I just thought I was a system glitch. Hill: And are most of your sales coming direct to your website? Or coming through bike shops? Hwang: It's a little bit of both. So a lot of the shops that we sell to aren't bike shops because we felt like the customer experience in a bike shop... and probably our customer isn't going to bike shops a lot. Our customer rides a couple of times a month. They're biking to work. They're not like bike aficionados. We kind of fall into a more progressive area because we're thinking more about how do people behave nowadays than they did maybe 10 years ago or 20 years ago. Hill: How often do you think back to your friend who passed, that sort of started this idea? Hwang: I would say really often. He actually hired me at Toms. He hired me as an intern and it was one of those things where when you're like young, in your 20s, you don't really believe in yourself a lot. He was the first, kind of, grownup that made me think I could and should believe in myself. So, I think it's kind of ... sorry .... again, creating something for him, it feels kind of full circle in a lot of ways. Because you just get the letters and you're like, this is kind of worth it, you know? Just, like, even one life saved, one hospital trip avoided. Worth it. Marketplace's Adriene Hil and Gloria Hwang of Thousand discus re-designing the bike helmet on the roof of the company's headquarters in Los Angeles.  Robert Garrova / Marketplace  

Read more: Marketplace All Stories

Charlie Munger Interview Q&A AFTER Daily Journal Shareholders Meeting The post Charlie Munger Interview Q&A AFTER Daily Journal Shareholders Meeting appeared first on ValueWalk.

Read more: ValueWalk

Officials in states, cities and counties are increasingly looking to use private money for public infrastructure projects like roads and bridges, a result of tight budgets, eager financial investors and a president who believes that business — not government — can deliver better services to Americans. An analysis by APM Reports has found that at least 46 transportation and water-related projects in 23 states and the District of Columbia presented to the White House could rely on private money to be completed, including investment opportunities in Alabama, drinking water pipelines in California and New Mexico and a massive transit project in the New York City area. Locating infrastructure projects that could use private money.    APM Reports The 46 projects are a subset of nearly 520 pitched to the White House since the inauguration, evidence that investors have convinced government at all levels nationwide that their business acumen is a solution to financing and maintaining deteriorating roads, bridges and other projects. The projects will likely be among the favorites of President Donald Trump because of his insistence that private investment be used to pay the cost of the country's infrastructure fix. But privately financed projects have proven unpopular in at least two states after citizens learned they had to pay higher fees and tolls to private investors. And a federal loan program Trump is pushing to broaden has lost money on three projects that featured private investment. In most instances, the projects serve high population, urban centers. That means rural voters, who helped elect Trump, could be left out of the potential infrastructure boom unless he either directs a significant amount of taxpayer money to rural projects or convinces investors to steer money there. Forty of the 46 projects on the list are transportation related. The remaining six are water projects. Eight of the projects are entirely private enterprises with limited or no government involvement. The others rely on a financing mechanism known as a public-private partnership, which can include a variety of models. The most common is a government receiving upfront financing to build or fix a project in exchange for either payments to the investors or rights to the investors allowing them to earn money on the project from, say, charging tolls on a highway. APM Reports contacted officials managing the projects to ask whether the project had the potential for private investment through complete ownership or through a public-private partnership. The analysis focuses only on projects that were submitted to the Trump Administration, indicating they are priorities for governors, infrastructure consultants, union leaders and Trump advisers. Some states however, such as Massachusetts, say they are pursuing private investment on projects not included on the list submitted to Trump. While most of the projects on the list still rely on public money to get completed, the trend shows private investment — especially through public-private partnerships — is becoming more common. For example, officials say 13 of the 46 projects on the list collected by the White House since November are road and bridge projects. That's more than half the total number of highways — 21 — that relied on private financing between 1989 and 2012, according to a 2012 report by the Congressional Budget Office. Trump has not released specifics about what he calls his $1 trillion infrastructure plan or the timing, but he has emphatically embraced public-private partnerships as a solution to a problem that he's identified as critical to America and what most political observers say could deliver a badly needed political win. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation's infrastructure poor marks in a report card released earlier this year. The group said it will cost $4.6 trillion to address the nation's roads, bridges, ports and water systems. The White House budget plan clearly indicates that private investment will be a strategy. "Providing more federal funding, on its own, is not the solution to our infrastructure challenges," the document said. Many state and local officials already see private investment as a solution, regardless of whether President Trump is successful in passing an infrastructure package. "I think the U.S. is really sitting on a kind of infrastructure gold mine," said John Schmidt, an attorney who has negotiated public-private partnerships — known as P3s — in Chicago, Indiana, Texas, Puerto Rico and Colorado, offering an optimistic assessment for the industries that stand to gain. It isn't certain, though, how many projects will get financed with private money. Investors may balk at a proposal because there isn't a revenue guarantee. Government officials may also decide that it's more cost effective to use traditional borrowing rather than private financing. What's clear is that investors are eagerly moving to put more money into infrastructure. It's considered a safer and steadier investment than the stock market, yet has higher returns than bonds. Wall Street is already lining up. Global Infrastructure Partners closed on a $15.8 billion fund in the first quarter of 2017, according to the data analysis firm Preqin. The fund was the largest infrastructure fund at the time but was soon surpassed in May when Saudi Arabia announced it would invest $20 billion in a $40 billion infrastructure fund run by Blackstone Group, a private equity firm. Other fund managers, state and national pension funds and foreign governments are also looking to profit. Preqin found $71 billion ready for infrastructure spending in North America even before the Saudi pledge. "There has been reasonable investment within infrastructure in the U.S., so it's more of whether we're going to see a real explosion going forward," said Tom Carr, a Preqin analyst. But private financing comes with risks and drawbacks: Last month, Texas — an early adopter of privatizing transportation projects — rejected efforts to authorize additional private investment. Private investors in road projects in South Carolina, Texas, California and Indiana have declared bankruptcy. In some instances, the bankruptcies resulted in a financial loss for the federal government. A 2015 Congressional Budget Office study found that private financing will speed up the construction of a road but doesn't reduce overall costs or increase with other transportation spending. Rural communities may lose out since they don't have the population willing to finance projects that can cost billions. And critics of privatization warn against selling rights to what has long been considered a public asset. They also say private backers are looking for investment returns that could make the projects more expensive to the taxpayer. Donald Cohen, executive director of the anti-privatization group In the Public Interest, called Trump's vision an attempt to "sell off America" to Wall Street investors. He said private investors will collect their returns by creating toll roads, increasing fees or finding other sources of revenue to get a return on their investment. "There may be lots of folks who actually want to rebuild America but their top job is to generate returns, and they're going to do pretty well under Trump's plan," Cohen said. Despite the risks, the Trump Administration continues to push for increased private investment. "The private sector can provide valuable benefits for the delivery of infrastructure, through better procurement methods, market discipline, and a long-term focus on maintaining assets," a White House budget document said. It's unclear, though, when the president will roll out the specifics of his plan or how it will fit into a congressional agenda bogged down by a stalled health care bill, a desire to overhaul the tax code, a measure to lift the debt ceiling and a budget plan that includes infrastructure spending cuts. Kathrin Heitmann, an infrastructure analyst with Moody's, said that's why she doesn't expect an impact from Trump's plan in the short-term. "We are very cautious that the $1 trillion infrastructure investment can be realized," she said. Heitmann also pointed that it will take a long time for projects to get started even if Trump's plan becomes law later this year. The lag between funding approval and project completion could mean that nothing substantial happens until the end of Trump's term in 2020. "It looks like that some of this funding will only peak at the end of the current administration's term," she said. Adding to the uncertainty, public records show Trump's top infrastructure adviser is pushing states to finance construction projects without any help from the federal government, a quiet shift in rhetoric that reflects the president's onerous budget realities. That could be a blow to local governments since many have historically relied on federal funding to complete infrastructure projects. Whether Trump's plan becomes law or states independently embrace privatization, it would come years after other countries took similar action. Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and other western European countries have sold the rights to road and bridge projects, airports, water treatment facilities and schools to private investors. Infrastructure projects that include private financing President Trump says that his preferred projects will either be completely or partially funded with private dollars. An APM Reports analysis shows that at least 46 projects nationwide — either transportation or water — fit that category. This list is derived from an analysis that APM Reports published in May showing 520 projects submitted to the Trump administration for possible inclusion in a federal infrastructure package. Most of the projects — 398 — fell into two general categories: transportation (including highways, bridges, freight rail, mass transit, aviation and shipping,) and water (flood control, sewage treatment and drinking water). Reporters analyzed those projects and determined sponsors were considering private financing for 46 of them. Those projects are spread over 23 states and the District of Columbia. Eight of the projects are completely private, while 38 have the potential for financing through public-private partnerships. Under that financing model, private investors help cover the costs of construction, repair or even maintenance in exchange for an ongoing revenue stream such as the tolls motorists pay to drive on a turnpike. Click on the map to filter the table by that state's projects.Map and table by Will Craft | APM Reports Only two projects for rural America The analysis by APM Reports shows that larger population centers are the primary focus for private investment. Of the 46 projects that could rely on private investment, just two are located in and would serve rural America. Both are in Alaska. Eight projects are located in rural communities but primarily serve urban population centers, including two privately financed projects that would allow companies to ship water from rural parts of California and New Mexico to urban areas. The lack of financing opportunities for rural America is a bipartisan concern in Congress. Lawmakers worry that private money will chase the highest return, typically found in higher population centers instead of financing the neediest projects. "There are thousands of miles of highway and tens of thousands of bridges that need work that can't make money," said U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. "No private sector person is going to buy them and repair them, because there isn't enough volume." Some lower-population states are trying to get creative to attract private investment. Five — Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota — want to build a coalition and offer a bucket of projects that could build interest among private investors, according to William Panos, director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation. He hopes the effort will leverage private money and funds from Trump's infrastructure plan. "There's a really robust effort on the part of the administration and the Congress to look at ways of using P3s in rural states inclusively," he said. Texas, Virginia, Colorado and Florida are among some states active in the P3 market because they passed laws allowing for widespread use of the public-private agreements. However, 13 states, including New York and Iowa, don't allow public-private partnerships, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., a trade group for the national construction industry. States without such agreements would need to pass laws, at least on a project-specific basis, in order to enter into an agreement with a private entity. Meanwhile, the nation's largest metropolitan areas are receiving unsolicited bids from private funds. In November, voters in Los Angeles County approved a new half-cent sales tax and extended an existing half-cent sales tax. The increase is projected to raise $120 billion over 40 years. Even before the measure passed, private investors submitted unsolicited proposals to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority. California Gov. Jerry Brown asked the Trump Administration to include three Los Angeles County transit projects in its infrastructure plan. They are a 9-mile extension of an existing transit line, a connector to the airport and a bus rapid-transit line. Experts say financing projects like those in Los Angeles County are perfect for investors looking to capitalize on long-term projects. The city is the second largest in the country, and county voters just approved a long-term funding stream that's attractive to private investors. Other states are focusing their efforts on one project in a larger metropolitan area. In Alabama, officials are considering an expansion of the Mobile River Bridge to increase capacity along the I-10 corridor from four to eight lanes. "Right now, it's the only ALDOT (Alabama Department of Transportation) project that seems to have the potential for development under the public-private funding scenario," department spokesman Tony Harris said via email. "The reality, though, in Alabama and across the United States is that more consideration will be given to how to fund major projects using traditional as well as P3 approaches." Private financing is becoming a more attractive option as cities, counties and states grapple with tight budgets, a transportation system that is costly to maintain and a desire to build new projects that serve a growing population. The financing mechanism also allows state officials to finance projects without raising gas taxes. "States are becoming more enamored of this because they're able to deliver projects sooner," said Shailen Bhatt, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. "It allows you to advance a project without necessarily, say, raising your gas tax." But Bhatt says there are only so many projects that can be financed with private money. And he said federal and state officials should not ignore a gas tax increase as an option. Since Colorado is an early adopter in public-private partnerships, Bhatt would prefer Trump focus his plan on directly funding projects. "If the president's plan was just more financing opportunities, well, we're already moving on that path on our own," he said. The trade group for the national construction industry is also directing most of its efforts on states when it comes to public-private partnerships and infrastructure investment. Ben Brubeck, an executive with Associated Builders and Contractors, said his organization has been pushing for an infrastructure package on the federal level but said the states are where he sees the most action. "If you look at the deal flow here in the United States, it's happening at the state level and not really happening at the federal level," he said. The Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel in Hampton, Va. Steve Helber/AP Trump's lack of specifics worries local leaders Since President Trump was elected, anticipation has grown that the real estate billionaire would deliver on his promise to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. He's met with union leaders, state and local officials and private business leaders trying to build support. He's also assembled an infrastructure team led by New York real estate investors Richard LeFrak and Steven Roth. LeFrak has personal ties to the president, and Roth and Trump have a business relationship. In May, the White House released Trump's budget proposal, which included spending $200 billion in "federal outlays to the infrastructure initiative," but didn't specify how the money will be spent. And from some departments, Trump cut infrastructure funding. He proposed a 13 percent reduction to the U.S. Department of Transportation general fund budget, eliminating funds for new transit projects and gutting a $499 million grant program that has paid for road, bridge and transit projects. The plan also eliminates a $500 million water and wastewater loan and grant program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but boosts funding for water and wastewater infrastructure at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since then, there have been few other details. In June, during a week devoted to promoting his ideas about infrastructure, Trump pledged $25 billion to rural projects and $15 billion to spur what he called "transformative" projects. An accompanying document didn't elaborate on the spending or say whether the funds are included in his $200 billion request. And despite pleas by White House officials that journalists cover the president's policy agenda instead of allegations of Russian interference in last year's election, they didn't return repeated requests for comment about Trump's infrastructure plan. The lack of specifics regarding infrastructure — and a budget that weakens infrastructure-related programs — have left state and local government officials wondering when a plan will be released and whether it will benefit them. Documents show White House officials were still working to craft a policy in March despite a campaign rollout in October, a two-month presidential transition that focused on assembling wish lists from states and multiple meetings since the inauguration to discuss policy. During a conference call with state leaders on March 23, D.J. Gribbin, the president's infrastructure policy adviser, was reluctant to embrace any plan and emphasized that he was only speaking for himself, not for Trump or other White House officials, according to a readout of the call. And adding to the uncertainty, notes from the call — captured in an email from Adam Zarrin, a policy adviser to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — show that Gribbin wants states to build projects without federal help. "They really are most excited ‘about projects [states] are paying for' and not the federal government. Want states to help themselves," read Zarrin's email. Gribbin did not respond to an interview request. The White House has aggressively courted states on infrastructure. In December, Trump's transition team requested a list of "shovel-ready" projects from governors. The White House also met in June with a group of county officials, mayors and Native American leaders to discuss infrastructure needs. The vast majority of those in attendance were Republicans. Through the National Governor's Association, governors submitted a list of projects to the White House. Union officials, infrastructure consultants and campaign aides also submitted requests. It isn't certain whether White House officials are relying on those lists as it crafts its policy. Others say they weren't approached to submit a list of projects. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, who served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors through June, said his organization wasn't solicited. He's skeptical that any plan relying solely on private investment will work. "I wouldn't get overly optimistic that the private sector is going to come to the rescue for America's infrastructure projects," Cornett said. "I don't think that's likely. And if that's the hope and dream, then we're probably going to be waiting a long, long time." Cornett said that it's often cheaper for government officials to finance projects through government borrowing. He says cities, counties and states with a solid credit rating will likely get a cheaper rate than the private sector. While many states are becoming more active in courting private investment, one een an early adopter is changing course. A deep red state rejects Trump's vision Texas State Highway 130 offers a vivid example of how Trump's vision for infrastructure could spark projects. It also shows how some Texans have revolted against toll roads that have been privately financed. In 2012, Gov. Rick Perry appeared at the grand opening of the highway. His speech focused on how the 41-mile stretch of road between San Antonio and Austin would reduce congestion on another busy freeway, Interstate 35. Perry, who now serves as Energy Secretary in the Trump Administration, also targeted critics of privatization. "When we debated this concept back in 2003, there was no shortage of individuals both inside and outside the Capitol that said it wouldn't work," Perry said at the time. "Today's proof that the concept is complete, and it can be seen in concrete and asphalt." His vision focused on the financing of public and private toll roads to spur road construction. The record shows Perry was successful. A state report last year showed 53 toll roads spanning 671 miles in Texas. Many were built in the past two decades. Some, like State Highway 130, are privately operated. Others are managed by local governments or the state. State officials claim that 10 public-private partnerships established since 2003 have generated $17 billion in construction. And Marc Williams, deputy executive director of the state's transportation department, said public-private financing was critical to speedy completion. But swift, private construction and tolling doesn't guarantee a healthy return on investment. In 2016, the SH 130 Concession Company, which built the highway, declared bankruptcy. The firm — owned by Cintra, a Spanish company, and a consortium of Australian entities — cited less traffic than projected, according to bankruptcy records. The combination hasn't proven politically popular, either. Critics say the financial failure should be a warning to the Trump Administration about the unpopularity of toll roads in Texas. "If you want to lose a voter, the fastest way you do it is to take $300 or $400 out of their pocket every month," said Terri Hall, who runs Texans for Toll-Free Highways. Hall, a Republican who says she voted for Trump, intends to lobby against increased private investment in transportation. She said Trump and others who back privatization will have a political problem on their hands. "They're going to have a rude awakening if they think that this is going to be something acceptable to the average Joe," she said. Hall's lobbying appears to have been successful in Texas. Gov. Gregg Abbott opposes more toll roads, and the Texas House of Representatives defeated a bill in May that would have allowed communities to negotiate private financing for 10 projects. No matter; Texas communities seem undaunted and state transportation officials are still lobbying the Trump Administration to include an expansion of I-635 in its infrastructure plans. Douglas Athas, mayor of Garland, Texas, said private investors are interested in expanding the highway from 10 lanes to 15 lanes. He said the $1.6 billion proposal would ensure the project is finished more quickly. The program relied on allowing the investors to collect tolls on a few of the managed lanes that run near existing lanes. Like the federal government, Texas has not raised the gas tax since the early 1990s, which has slowed new road construction that's led to congestion as the state's population soars. "Politicians are scrambling to solve a problem," said David Ellis, a research scientist at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and manager of the Infrastructure Investment Analysis Program. He said some toll roads, specifically in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, have been effective. After all, said Ellis, while no one likes paying a toll, the alternative is waiting in traffic. Drivers along SH130 say they've been forced to weigh those options. D.J. Shaw, a daily commuter on that Texas highway, said he hates paying $15 a day in tolls to drive from Seguin to Del Valle. But he said it's better than spending an extra 30 minutes on I-35. "It costs so much money and there's no other way to go," he said. "Nobody likes sitting on I-35 so they kind of got you cornered." Williams, the state transportation official, said the legislative action means it's unlikely that any new toll roads will be financed over the next two years. But he's confident his department will secure federal funding when Trump's infrastructure plan is introduced. Williams also said Texas will spend as much as $3 billion a year more on transportation projects after voters approved a ballot measure dedicating general fund money to projects. But even as Texas distances itself from the P3 model, other states are enticed by the concept. The Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore.         Patrick Semansky/AP Sophisticated investors versus government The model — public-private partnerships — took off in the U.S. during the mid-2000s. Chicago's sale of the rights to the Chicago Skyway in 2005 was the first major project. For $1.8 billion, the city gave up the leasing rights to the nearly 8-mile road for 99 years. "It was a very startling idea at the outset," said Schmidt, the attorney involved in similar projects elsewhere. He expects more public-private partnerships — regardless of whether Trump's infrastructure plan becomes law — because politicians are struggling to fix a deteriorating infrastructure system. "I think if we can figure out a way to cut through the political resistance and realize the value, it can be an enormous strength and really provide massive resources in meeting other infrastructure needs," Schmidt said. A P3 deal either results in a private group building a new road, bridge, water plant or building, or recycling an existing structure. There are two ways a private group can make money on its investment: The first is a concessionaire agreement, which allows the government to sell the rights to a highway, for example. Private operators then collect tolls or fees after they pay the costs of building a new highway or fixing an existing one. Such deals typically come with a multi-decade lease agreement. State Highway 130 in Texas, the Indiana toll road and the Chicago Skyway are examples of concessionaire agreements made in the past 15 years. The other financing model is known as an availability payment. These deals also rely on a private investor to pay upfront costs and maintenance for a project. It differs from a concessionaire agreement because the government then makes regular payments to the investors for decades, ensuring a return on investment. In Pennsylvania, a 2012 deal helped the state to rebuild and maintain 558 structurally deficient bridges in exchange for $1.8 billion over 28 years. Bridge No. 418 over Little Deer Creek in Indiana Township, Pennsylvania, was completed in the the Rapid Bridge Replacement Project. Courtesy of Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners Regardless of the model, critics and even some supporters of public-private partnerships warn that the public loses control over infrastructure assets when a deal is done. A citizen upset with a road project or a new toll, for example, can't complain to an elected official and get relief. "When you enter into the P3, you now have a third party that is now in the process," said Aubrey Layne, Jr., Virginia's Secretary of Transportation. Unwinding a deal, he says, no longer means taking a vote in the Legislature or at a city council meeting. Instead, private investors want something in return if a government reopens a contract. Layne said governments going into P3 agreements need contractual precision and an amount of prescience because deals could last decades. Moreover, attorneys and financial consultants are critical to protect the public's interest, he said, because private investors are typically armed with savvy financial analysts, lawyers and contractors who have negotiated these complex deals in the past. Cities and counties, particularly those with smaller population centers, may not have the same experience or budget to retain a high level of expertise to protect their interests. "These are some of the most sophisticated investors in the world you're going to be negotiating with," Layne said, cautioning that naivete will result in a bad deal for the public. Cohen from In the Public Interest analyzes the choice more cynically, saying that too many policy leaders look for private investment instead of making the difficult choice of raising taxes. He said there's little worry because the policy leaders often leave office before there's blowback from an increase in fees or tolls. "They don't have to answer the question in eight years about what happened to the tolls when they're tripled," Cohen said. Financial risks for taxpayers In fact, a key selling point of public-private partnerships has been the financial protection of taxpayers. The private sector typically assumes most of the risk in the deal. When the private backers of the Indiana toll road filed for bankruptcy in 2014, for example, taxpayers there didn't see a loss. However, that's not always the case. At least three times in the past seven years taxpayers have been on the hook for business failures, each stemming from a federal loan program — called the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) — which President Trump wants to grow. The program helps finance transportation projects through direct loans, loan guarantees and lines of credit. In budget documents, the Trump Administration claims TIFIA is a success. "One dollar of TIFIA subsidy leverages roughly $40 in project value. If the amount of TIFIA subsidy was increased to $1 billion annually for 10 years, that could leverage up to $140 billion in credit assistance, and approximately $424 billion in total investment," the document states. But TIFIA loans have put taxpayers at risk: In 2010, the private investors of the South Bay Expressway in California declared bankruptcy. When the investors emerged from bankruptcy in 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation took a $47 million loss on a $140 million loan that helped finance the road. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation sold a federal loan it held on the Pocahontas Parkway in Virginia to private investors at a 59 percent loss. Anthony Foxx, who was the Transportation secretary, said he chose to sell the loan after private investors signaled they were losing money on the nearly 9-mile toll road near Richmond. And the bankrupt Texas highway — State Highway 130 — was initially financed with a $430 million federal loan. It emerged from bankruptcy in June with new ownership and $260 million in new financing. The federal government received $16 million for the loan. The Texas agreement also brings an ironic twist: The investors who insisted the private sector could manage transportation projects better than the public sector will now answer to a new owner: the federal government, which now has a 34 percent stake in the toll road. Maria Curi, Ryan Katz and Andy Kruse contributed to this report.

Read more: Marketplace All Stories

“The launch date hasn’t been fixed yet but should be in the next 3-4 weeks.”  Meet Andrew Maguire’s GAME CHANGER For the Physical Bullion Market:  By Larry White: We have been following the somewhat cryptic comments that London metals trader Andrew Maguire has made about an event coming in the gold market that he suggests will be […] The post Andrew Maguire’s Bullion Bank Slayer is Revealed: Meet BullionCoin appeared first on Silver Doctors.

Read more: Silver Doctors

Page 4 of 6509


Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 129

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 135

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 129

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 135

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 129

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 135

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 129

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 135

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 129

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 135

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 129

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 135

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 129

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 135

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 129

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 135

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 129

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 135

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 129

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in /www/htdocs/w00f1f37/templates/gk_twn2/html/pagination.php on line 135