German Memories in Asia – A Visit to War-Torn Area

Our six-vehicle convoy reached Vavuniya, the Northern-most border town of the Island, which separates the LTTE-controlled areas and the Sri Lankan Government-controlled areas.The German Praktikum (Internship) students were enjoying the surroundings.When we stopped near the Vavuniya clock tower along the highway, there were people, who gathered to see what was happening. It is a usual phenomenon in Asian rural areas when Europeans make visits. Whatever the hidden motive or drive which impels them to meet the white-skinned foreigners, especially the Europeans, it is something they would not miss as it is a chance in a lifetime among these village folk.The obvious reason is that they hardly come across them in their remote places and do not have the wherewithal to travel to Europe and meet them. The combination of human aspiration, which drives one to see its fellow humans and an attraction towards the distant Homo sapiens cousins, is not something strange.While we were discussing our next step towards entering into the LTTE-controlled territory, the LTTE’s political wing head of Vavuniya Gnanavel came there with a Member of Parliament Kishor Sivanathan. After the Ceasefire Agreement between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE there has been a new development, which enabled the LTTE’s political wing to operate in the Sri Lankan Government-controlled traditional Tamil areas.I knew Gnanavel from my CARE days. He was attached at that time to the LTTE’s section of Economic Development, a sub unit of their Political Wing. The Economic Development section was overseeing economic developmental issues ranging from minor and major tank renovations, Agriculture, Fisheries, Industries, Environmental protection, and so on in the LTTE-controlled areas and coordinating with local and International NGOs in various ways. Gnanavel is a friendly person and though he was attached to a rebel organization he would freely discuss various issues which are normally difficult to think of for a person who is from a militant movement.He once asked me at one of the meetings what I would have to say regards setting up a village, which only accommodates women who have lost their husbands at war. I simply said you don’t make an unofficial red light area in the eyes of others, for if one woman commits a mistake it would reflect on the rest of the women. He agreed with me.There are widows not only on the Tamil side but also on the Sinhalese side as well and is problematic as it creates a lot of social and economic problems to the Island. Women are grief-stricken and traumatized when their husbands sacrifice their lives in confrontations.

Can TIC’s Survive in the Existing Real Estate Market? | Real estate

TIC InvestorsIn this very dynamic real estate market TIC (Tenant in Common) investors have suffered as the market has weakened. In particular, those real estate investors that joined TIC investments in the last four years, (at the top of the market) are finding that in some locations, high vacancy rates and plunging rental rates are squeezing their cash flow and their ability to pay their mortgages.Who bought TIC investments?As baby boomers have aged, they wanted to reposition their assets into investments that did not take up as much of their time and that did not involve their day to day attention. These investors wanted to escape management intense investments and buy into real estate investments that guaranteed them a “safe and consistent” return.They had typically sold other investments and traded into the TIC using a 1031 exchange, pooling with other investors which seemed like a safe bet. Unfortunately, many (not all*) TIC investments were organized by syndicators who purchased the properties at one price and then marked up the properties to resell to their investors. In many cases they used short term “interest only” loans to get their deals to pencil, betting that real estate appreciation as well as increasing rents would increase the value of the properties quickly and allow the properties to be refinanced.As a result of the large number of investors (TIC syndicators, REITS and others) competing for the same inventory, the price of assets went sky high thus lowering the yields of the investments. CAP rates as low as five and a half were not unusual and CMBS loan originators and other financial institutions were willing to lend to TIC syndicators and their investors on a non recourse basis.The Real Estate Market was not as strong as investors expected.Market appreciation, and rent increases did not occur. In the majority of American markets most property vacancy rates have increased, making it difficult for TIC’s to have enough money to cover their expenses. In many cases the properties performed to proforma, but when the time came to refinance them the rules had changed and the lenders wanted to see more equity in each investment. Nervous lenders have moved their investor equity requirements from 25% to 40% and even 50%.This has forced many TIC investors into the unpalatable position of significantly increasing their cash investments in properties to save their existing equity positions and furiously attempt to get new financing for their deals to replace the existing “interest only loans”. These new equity requirements are stretching the resources of TIC investors.TodayIn the past two years DBSI and Sunwest Management two major TIC syndicators have dissolved and filed for bankruptcy. As these cases move through the courts, questions have emerged about the future of TIC property sales. It seems likely that real estate TICs sold by real estate brokers will disappear and most likely be replaced by securitized TIC’s for larger investments and real estate partnerships for smaller investments. (TICs can be sold as real estate investments or as securities, but Real estate TICs are not held to the same high standard of disclosure as securities investments).A reflection of this trend, is that the Tenant-In-Common Association (TICA) changed their name to Real Estate Investment Securities Association ( REISA). In the last year REISA recommended that all TICs be structured as securities.** Some TIC syndicators are still in business such as RealtyNet Advisors. Realtynet Advisors have adjusted to changes in the market place with their special approach to TIC’s where there is no debt just equity invested, in other words they do not borrow money to make a deal. They find enough investors to contribute equity for the full sales price.The future of TIC investments will be dictated by the recovery of the market; in the mean time look for other ways to make money investing in real estate. Some of these other options include purchasing foreclosed property, purchasing real estate deals with large (50%) down payments or buying notes from banks that are desperate to increase their cash positions.Notes:**RealtyNet Advisors, are not your average Tenant-In-Common sponsor. Unlike most TIC sponsors, Realty Net Advisors don’t burden their properties with debt, brokerage fees, or other costly charges, and they do not sell at a higher than market rate. With the RealtyNet’s simple, co-ownership structure, investors own an undivided, fractional interest in an entire property. They each share in their portion of the net income, tax shelters, and property appreciation.” (quoted from RealtyNetAdvisors website) See http://www.realtynetadvisors.com/benefits-of-a-tic.php.Note: What is a Tenant in Common (also known as Undivided Fractional Interest) Investment?The tenant in common (or undivided fractional interest) structure allows investors to purchase an interest in a significant real estate asset, perhaps larger than they could obtain individually. The investor acquires a percentage ownership (title and deed) and receives passive rental income while receiving the tax benefits of traditional real estate. The investors own and control the properties, not a third party. TIC ownership provides investors with the first ever means for ownership diversity, both in location and type, of their real estate portfolio.Unlike partnership real estate, TIC ownership entitles each owner to the same ownership rights regardless of the equity invested. This element of the investment structure puts no individual owner (or group of owners) in direct control of the property over any other investor(s). You can truly have all of the ownership benefits and security of a large commercial asset with significantly fewer obstacles. As with any type of investment, the value of a fractional interest typically increases annually due to escalations inherent in most tenant leases. From Real Estate Investment Securities Association website at, http://www.reisa.org.** REISA is a national trade association for professionals who offer and distribute securitized real estate investments

Choosing Between Ethical Or Fair Trade Clothing | Clothing

In order to make an informed choice between ethical and fair trade clothing, you must have a clear understanding of what the difference is between the two. The clothing industry is one that can be very volatile when it comes to fads, trends and clothing styles that can come and go with the blink of an eye. There are many extremes that come into the clothing industry and nearly just as quickly, their appeal is gone.Some clothing styles go on to become legendary or what are known as classics that never lose their appeal even as the generations come and go. Over recent years, there has been a change in the clothing industry. So what exactly is ethical clothing and how does it differ from fair clothing? Let’s examine both types.Ethical clothing addresses a broad range of concerns that have been around about as long as the clothing industry itself. Some of the major concerns with clothing that is not ethical is that the clothing is produced by workers in factories or sweat shops where wages are an amount so low that workers cannot make a reasonable living to support themselves. The unfortunate reality is that there are many designs on the racks in your local stores that have been made by these workers. Ethical clothing demands that workers be paid what their labor is worth. Ethical clothing also mandates that the workers be give benefits such as maternity leave and insurance options.The momentum for ethical clothing has not picked up because many clothing manufacturers experience significant cost savings by outsourcing work to these countries where the condition of life is so poor that people are willing to work for minimum amounts of money in substandard work conditions to survive. Clothing in the United States aimed at creating a better environment and better working conditions for people. The Fair Trade Federation provides a means for clothing lines to join but the membership criteria is strict. Fortunately, fair trade is also branching out into jewelry, personal care, candles, bedding, toys, games and paper goods. The difference between ethical and fair trade clothing is that clothing made by the latter takes the earth into consideration and provides clothing that is made from natural products.When it comes to fair trade clothing, however, none of the major retailer chains carry fair trade clothing. This should not be a deterrent if you wish to purchase it, just look online and you will find many sources from which you can order such clothing.Choosing between ethical clothing and fair trade clothing does not have to be a real dilemma. Ethical clothing is manufactured with respect to ensuring that laborers are not overworked and underpaid. Fair trade clothing uses organic materials that are green friendly and don’t harm the earth’s ozone when discarded or made from recycled materials.Although the types are similar, there are some differences described here that should help you make a choice about whether you want to wear ethical clothing or fair trade clothing.