George Stewart


Condé Nast Traveller Just Gave A Nod To The Israel-Based Brown Hotels Boutique Hotel Chain

Air Force Fly By on Tel Aviv Beach IMG 1623

Part of the boutique Brown Hotels chain, Tel Aviv’s Poli House and Brown Beach House Croatia get Condé Nast Traveller’s 2017 design approbation By Jessica Steinberg The rooftop pool and cabanas of The Poli House, named to the Hot List 2017 of Conde Nast Traveller (Courtesy The Poli House) Condé Nast Traveller (UK edition) just gave… Read More

Toronto Kicks Off Summer Tourism With The Carole King Musical

Toronto Is Always Full Of Fun Things To Do In The Summer

Toronto at Dusk -a

The Summer Of 2017 Is Starting Off With A Bang, Ushered In With A Carole King Musical Event

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

Beautiful — The Carole King Musical recounts the motivating genuine story of Carole’s King’s momentous ascent to fame, from being part of a hit songwriting group with her significant other Gerry Goffin.

Beautiful, A ‘Jukebox Musical,’ accompanied by a book authored by Douglas McGrath that recounts the narrative of the early life and profession of Carole King, utilizing melodies that she created, many together with Gerry Goffin, and other contemporary tunes by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Phil Spector and others en route.

The iconic Carole King composed soundtracks that blended an era.

Begins June 28th, at  Ed Mirvish Theater
244 Victoria Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5B 1V8

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tells the genuine story of vocalist lyricist Carole King with her own particular words and music. From her initial days as a Brooklyn youngster to her tumultuous grown-up connections, Do not pass up a major opportunity for getting your Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tickets!

Beautiful Carole King Musical

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52 Days To Your New Life Overseas

How To Research Before Buying A Property Overseas

How To Vet An Overseas Property Purchase (And Avoid Being Taken!)

Ericeira, Portugal


An attendee at last week’s Offshore Wealth Summit asked for specific recommendations for how to carry out due diligence on real estate investment opportunities abroad. He knows how to do his due diligence for real estate purchases back home, where he is an active investor, he explained, but he is just getting started diversifying his real estate portfolio overseas and isn’t sure what to look for and what questions to ask when trying to vet potential purchases.

The tools available in the United States and Canada for verifying clean title or comparing prices, for example, aren’t available in most of the rest of the world.

Let’s start with pricing.

Comps aren’t easy to come by; multiple listing services don’t exist in most markets. You’re left to figure out fair pricing yourself.

There’s no shortcut to this. You have to meet with as many local real estate agents and go to see as many of their listed properties as possible.

One friend who has been buying real estate in Latin American markets for years puts together a new spreadsheet for every location where he’s looking to invest. Into this spreadsheet he enters every relevant property listing he can find, creating his own mini comp list for the area.

It’s no small investment of time and effort, but this investment on the front end pays off in the long run.

Once you’ve gathered as many sample properties and prices as possible (the more the better… a few dozen at a minimum), break each down to the cost per square meter. Put your per-square-meter figures into better context by remembering amenities and services included for properties in condo buildings or gated communities.

Construction pricing is easier to research than pricing for raw land.

Another friend spent the first year he lived in Costa Rica researching land prices and looking for deals. Eventually he began making purchases, buying at what he thought were “local” prices.

A year later, he was still buying but paying less per hectare… and a year after that (three years after starting his buying spree) he was buying at even lower prices.

It wasn’t that land prices were falling. They were appreciating. It was that my friend was getting closer and closer to the real local market.

Pricing is a key starting point when trying to vet a potential property purchase overseas. If you’re buying into a development, due diligence on the developer is step two.

A local developer with a track record can be easier to vet than a foreign developer, as you can see previous projects and speak with previous buyers. However, don’t let the fact that a local developer has been in business for years lull you into complacency.

Each new undertaking can be a new company with different partners and different financial backing. As they say in the financial services industry, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

If you’re working with a developer new to the market, ask who they are working with locally. If they’re smart, they’ll have a local partner, a local project manager, or some other local connection to help make sure they’re able to navigate local challenges and eccentricities.

After 20 years vetting and investing in property markets around the world, for me, now, it comes down as much to the people behind the project as the particulars of the project itself.

A development here in Panama has been stalled for the past two years because of financing problems. The developer had a commitment from a local bank to fund the construction of the building once he’d met the bank’s pre-construction sales goals. He met the goals, but the bank backed out, leaving the developer and early buyers in the lurch.

The developer could have walked away at that point. This would have left the investors with nothing.

I’ve known many, many developers who’ve found themselves in similar situations over the years. Sticking it out is tough, and, in most cases, most developers do walk away.

But the developer in this case didn’t. He continued to work over the past two years to find a solution. Today, I’m very happy to be able to say, this project is again moving forward, with new financial backers in place.

It’s hard to identify that kind of integrity and stick-to-itiveness in due diligence, but, more often than we may like to think, these are the variables that make the difference between the success and failure of an investment.

In addition to pricing, for any development, you want to research the title for the land (with your attorney’s help) and confirm that all required permits have been received.

As I explained to the conference attendee who approached me last week, it’s important not to make a decision based on information from a single source. Ask your questions of the developer… then ask them again of your attorney… then ask them again of every real estate agent you meet. Compare answers to try to come away with as rounded a perspective as possible.

And remember that, if you ask a question and the answer isn’t what you want to hear, then you have only yourself to blame if you move ahead with the purchase.

I’ve known many examples of this over the years in Mexico, for example, where people fall in love with a piece of oceanfront property only to find out that it is ejido land.

They knew enough to ask the question but then, when faced with a response they didn’t want to hear, they chose to ignore it. This happens with ejido land in Mexico, cooperativo land in Nicaragua, and rights of possession property in Panama. People buy knowing they can’t get title because prices for this kind of “un-ownable” land can be a fraction the cost of comparable titled land.

The price is so low, people sometimes think, that I’ll take the risk that the property could be taken from me at some point.

On the other hand, developers buy ejido and rights of possession land, too, in these markets, and then offer it for sale at titled land prices. Sometimes they even represent ejido or rights of possession property as titled property. You’re counting on your attorney to help you identify when this is the case.

If a title search shows that the property in question is some form of cooperativo land, move on.

The bottom line when vetting property overseas is caveat emptor. The kinds of regulatory safety nets we take for granted in the States don’t exist in the rest of the world.


Lief Simon / Live and Invest Overseas

Lief Simon


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52 Days To Your New Life Overseas


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This Country has been in the top destinations for investment and retirement for years

The U.S. Is Expanding Its Biometric Facial Recognition Program To Screen International Passengers At Airports

CBP Deploys Biometric Exit Technology To George Bush Intercontinental Airport

Terminal E Waiting area

HOUSTON — U.S. Customs and Border Protection deployed facial recognition biometric exit technology today to George Bush Intercontinental Airport for one daily flight from the United States to Tokyo. The deployment builds upon a June 2016 pilot at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport using facial recognition. CBP recently deployed the technology to Washington Dulles International Airport at the end of May and future deployments are planned for additional airports this summer.

“Through our consultations with the airlines and airport stakeholders, and based on the success of several pilots, CBP determined that facial recognition was a viable exit solution,” said John Wagner, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations. “With the expansion of this technology we will be looking at different flights, airports, lighting conditions, and internal IT configurations to demonstrate to our stakeholders that this solution is flexible, reliable and easy for travelers to use.”

Using the flight manifest, CBP builds a flight specific photo gallery using photographs from the travel document the traveler provided to the airline. CBP then compares the live photo against the document photo in the gallery to ensure the traveler is the true bearer of the document. If the photo captured at boarding is matched to a U.S. passport, the traveler—having been confirmed as a U.S. citizen—is automatically determined to be out of scope for biometric exit purposes and the photo is discarded after a short period of time. CBP remains committed to protecting the privacy of all travelers.

Delta and JetBlue recently announced collaborations with CBP to integrate facial recognition technology as part of the boarding process. Delta is testing eGates at John F. Kennedy International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and JetBlue is testing facial recognition technology at Boston Logan International Airport that allows passengers to self-board without scanning a boarding pass.

There are several legislative mandates that direct the Department of Homeland Security to record the arrival and departure of non-U.S. citizens by collecting biometrics. CBP first established biometric screening procedures based on digital fingerprints for certain non-U.S. citizens in 2004 to secure our borders and ensure that the foreign travelers presenting themselves for admission to the United States are who they claim to be.

Is The Mainstream Media Starting To Hold Itself Accountable For Inappropriate Political Bias – Or Is The Readership Fed Up With Being Duped?

The fin de siècle newspaper proprietor (cropped)
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A bad few days at CNN have gotten worse. Three of the cable news outlets’ journalists have resigned after a bogus Thursday article suggested Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci was tied to a Russian investment fund. The story was published on CNN’s website on Thursday. By Friday, it was retracted, and an apology issued. The CNN resignations… Read More

Nigeria – Boko Haram Suicide Bombers Strike Again, Kill Nine, Injure 13 Others

Nigeria (orthographic projection)
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Nine persons were killed in Borno State as seven suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers detonated their strapped explosives at the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) and Zannari community. All the suspected terrorists died in the explosions that occurred on Sunday at 11:00 p.m. and in the early hours of Monday, while 13 people were seriously injured. The… Read More

Global Leaders Are Wondering What Trump Is Going To Do Next – To Advance America’s Priorities And Not Theirs

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President Donald Trump’s favor with other nations seems to have fallen in recent weeks, particularly when it’s matched against that of Barack Obama, a new poll finds. And you know what America’s reaction should be to that survey? Big deal. So what. Who really cares what other nations – what other socialist, progressive, left-leaning nations -… Read More

Brazil – President Michel Temer Accused Of Multi-Million Dollar Graft Scheme

Michel Temer images news
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Brazil’s top federal prosecutor has charged President Michel Temer with taking multimillion-dollar bribes. Rodrigo Janot submitted the charge to the country’s Supreme Court, alleging Temer had “fooled Brazilian citizens” and owed the nation millions in compensation for accepting bribes. What do the charges relate to? Temer was charged in connection with a graft scheme involving the… Read More

France – Former French PM, Manuel Valls, Leaves Socialists To Join Macron’s Centrist Group

Manuel Valls 1
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Former French prime minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday he was leaving the Socialist Party and is ready to join forces with President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist group in parliament – assuming they want him. Valls, who served as interior minister and then prime minister under former president François Hollande, told French radio that he was walking away… Read More

Are Progressives Losing Ground On Health Care Legislation — Even In Liberal California?

Sacramento Capitol
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As Republican lawmakers grapple with their unpopular bill to repeal Obamacare, Democrats have tried to present a united front on health care. But for all their populist rhetoric against insurance and drug companies, Democratic powerbrokers and their allies remain deeply divided on the issue — to the point where a political civil war has spilled into… Read More

Theresa May Announced That Britain Will Allow European Nationals To Remain After Brexit

The Mall London
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British Prime Minister Theresa May has tried to reassure millions of Europeans living in Britain that their lives and those of their families will not be disrupted when London leaves the European Union in 2019. May’s post-Brexit residency proposals offer EU nationals “settled status” in Britain with broadly the same rights as native-born English, Scots and… Read More

Traveling To The U.S.? – Useful Information For International Visitors


Travel Information For International Visitors To The U.S.

Get the Information you need to smoothly navigate the process and procedures if you are a visitor to the United States, coming to work, study, conduct business or to immigrate.

Foreign Students and Exchange Visitors: The United States supports international education and welcomes foreign students and exchange visitors. Students and exchange visitors must be accepted by their schools or program sponsors before applying for visas. For more information, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

Videos: Information For International Visitors To The United States of America

Preparing To Travel To The U.S.

After Arrival In The U.S.


Transportation Security Administration Travel Checklist

Before Packing:
Liquids, gels and aerosols packed in carry-on must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule:
• 3.4 ounces or less per container
• 1 quart size, clear, plastic, zip top bag (all liquids must fit in bag)
• 1 bag per passenger
Review the prohibited items list for both carry-on and checked baggage.
If purchasing a baggage lock, be sure to look for those that are TSA recognized.
Tape a card with your name and contact information on your electronics.

When Packing:
Pack items in layers (shoes one layer. clothes one layer, electronics one layer. etc.)
Firearms are only allowed in checked baggage and must be unloaded, placed in a locked, hard-sided
container and declared to your airline.
All fireworks contain explosive materials and are not permitted in checked or carry-on baggage.
Pack large electronics an top layer of carry-on for screening accessibility.
Place your 3-1-1 bag with liquids, gels and aerosols in the front pocket of your carry-on for accessibility.
If traveling with a pet, be sure to bring a leash so carriers can be properly screened.

Before Leaving for the Airport:
Give yourself enough time to arrive at the airport early.
Wear easily removable shoes.
Passengers with a disability or medical condition may call ahead to the TSA Cares toll free helpline at
(855) 787-2227.

Before Entering the Checkpoint:
Eligible passengers look for the TSA Pre® lane for expedited screening at participating airports.
Have your ID and boarding pass out for inspection.

At Checkpoint:
Remove the 3-1-1 liquids bag and place it in the bin.
Ensure pockets are empty (keys, tissues, currency, wallets, cell phones, etc.) and remove bulky jewelry
(valuable items can be placed in carry-on).
Remove your shoes and place them directly on the X-ray belt.
Remove computers and large electronics from carry-on and place in the bin alone (video game consoles,
remote control toys, etc.)
Remember to check the bins and collect all belongings after going through screening

Video: TSA Travel Tips


[Source: CBP  and TSA -/- Media Relations]
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