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Los Angeles Times: "Mergers create hotel giants, but few are complaining"

11/08/2016

Los Angeles Times: "Mergers create hotel giants, but few are complaining"

On Century Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport, travelers can pick among 14 hotels, ranging from budget lodging to a stylish three-diamond inn.

In reality, the choices are more limited.

All the hotels clustered on the busy thoroughfare are owned, managed or licensed by just six companies, led by Marriott International Inc., the world’s largest hotel company after its recent $13-billion takeover of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Nationwide, nearly half of the 53,400 hotels are linked to the six hotel giants — Marriott, Hilton Worldwide, Intercontinental, Wyndham Worldwide, Choice Hotels and Best Western Hotels & Resorts.

Despite a few murmurs of concern in the corporate travel world, Marriott swallowed Starwood with no opposition from antitrust watchdogs around the world. And the dominance of a handful of hotel companies hasn’t sparked the kind of protest seen in the airline, telecom, bank and insurance industries.

“It hasn’t been a top concern until now,” said Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit think tank that focuses on competition and consumer choice.

The institute, which has opposed several airline mergers on antitrust grounds, is looking more closely at the increasing merger activity in the hotel industry.

“Hotels tend to fly under the radar,” Moss said. “They don’t get a lot of attention.”

The merger of Marriott and Starwood — creating a hotel behemoth with 5,800 hotels in more than 100 countries — was just the latest hotel deal to concentrate the industry in the last few years.

In 2015 alone, France’s AccorHotels bought the Toronto-based parent company of the luxury Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel brands for $2.7 billion; Intercontinental Hotels Group acquired Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants for $430 million; Marriott acquired Delta Hotels & Resorts for $135 million; and a Wyndham Worldwide subsidiary acquired Dolce Hotels & Resorts for $57 million.

Before the Marriott and Starwood deal, the series of acquisitions did little to reduce competition in the hotel industry, but the latest transaction might be “a game changer,” according a report by CWT Solutions Group, a consultant to the travel industry.

“With daily room rates and occupancy levels at all-time highs in many major markets, basic economics dictate that less competition will only lead to even higher prices,” the report said.

In Los Angeles, Marriott and Starwood account for nearly half of corporate travel spending, among the highest percentages in major market where those companies operate, CWT said.

Marriott spokeswoman Felicia McLemore rejected suggestions that the company’s greater girth cuts into the choices available to travelers.

“The lodging industry continues to be very fragmented compared to other travel-related businesses, such as airlines, with robust competition from numerous lodging brand companies and independent operators,” she said.

Some hotel analysts predict little fallout from the increasing clout of the top six hotel companies. 

Among the reasons: A big share of those brand hotels are simply licensed to carry a franchise name but are owned or managed by local hoteliers, who can set the nightly rates based on local demands.

Also, most major hotel giants oversee a range of brands, from cut-rate to high-end, giving consumers more options.

“The industry is very segmented,” said Andrew Coggins, a management professor at New York’s Pace University. “If you look at any big hotel company, they manage different brands. The brands appeal to different segments of the market.”

For example, the New Yorker, a Wyndham hotel in Manhattan, offers rooms for more than $400 a night. Meanwhile, the Travelodge in Jersey City, N.J. — another Wyndham hotel — rents rooms for as little as $70 a night.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hotel-giants-20161105-story.html

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The Wall Street Journal: "Donald Trump’s Loyal Numbers Man"

11/08/2016

The Wall Street Journal: "Donald Trump’s Loyal Numbers Man"

Shortly after he appeared on an episode of the his boss’s reality television show, “The Apprentice,” Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg took a call from an old college buddy.

“That was your 15 minutes of fame,” said his friend, Marty Weinbaum, an accountant in Florida. The two of them chuckled.

Mr. Weisselberg’s quarter hour of stardom seems destined to stretch on, regardless of the Nov. 8 presidential election.

As CFO, Mr. Weisselberg maintains a coveted spot as one of Donald Trump’s longtime confidants. That has tied him to some of his boss’s most sensitive dealings.

When the New York attorney general’s office draws up a witness list as it investigates payments and a political donation made by The Donald J. Trump Foundation, Mr. Weisselberg will likely be on it, said a person familiar with the situation. The 69-year-old Brooklyn native is also treasurer of the troubled nonprofit.

In 2000, Mr. Weisselberg was named a vice president at Mr. Trump’s Atlantic City, N.J. casino company following an accounting scandal that resulted in it eventually agreeing to a Securities and Exchange Commission cease-and-desist order.

And he served on the board of at the Miss Universe Organization, the pageant on which Mr. Trump lavished attention, after buying it in 1996. Although the Trump Organization sold it last year, the candidate’s spat with a former winner was front-page news.

Insiders call Mr. Weisselberg key to the enterprise. “He plays an integral part in the Trump Organization’s growth and continued financial success,” wrote Ivanka Trump in an emailed statement. “He is deeply passionate, fiercely loyal and has stood alongside my father and our family for over [three] decades.”

Mr. Weisselberg declined to be interviewed for this article.

Despite Mr. Weisselberg’s position, he keeps an under-the-radar profile, partly a function of what experts call the Trump Organization’s “command-and-control” leadership culture, with Mr. Trump on top.

“Even though he hires very good people, they are comfortable taking their lead from him,” said William Klepper, a management professor at Columbia Business School. Command-and-control leaders like Mr. Trump promote themselves and eschew consensus-building, he said.

Former Trump employees say Mr. Weisselberg fades into the background. “He fits in with the wallpaper,” said one of them. “That’s how he’s survived.”

Mr. Weisselberg’s reticence is nevertheless unusual, with Mr. Trump campaigning largely on his business bonafides. The CFO remains unknown to even close Trump associates, despite his decadeslong service.

“I don’t even recall the name Allen Weisselberg, and don’t believe we ever spoke or met,” wrote Andrew Beal, head of Beal Financial Corp., in an email. Mr. Beal’s Dallas bank once held $486 million in liens on casinos owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., a publicly traded company that in 2009 filed for bankruptcy. He was named to Mr. Trump’s economic advisory team in August.

Mr. Weisselberg is a contrast to his boss. He is quiet and, say former colleagues, eats salads and tuna sandwiches in the lunchroom or at his desk in a 26th floor office overlooking Madison Avenue. Mr. Weisselberg has been married to the same woman, Hilary, for 46 years.

He is also an outlier among modern CFOs, who are strategic partners with their bosses, communicating with bankers, suppliers and employees. “No big transaction is going to happen without the other party being comfortable with the CFO,” said Jack McCullough, founder of the CFO Leadership Council, a network of financial professionals.

Instead, Mr. Weisselberg is a throwback to when they acted as functionaries. At a business meeting last year, Mr. Trump reflexively solicited his CFO for his opinion.

“Isn’t that right, Allen?” Mr. Trump asked.

“One thousand percent,” Mr. Weisselberg responded.

One former employee used to joke about the symbiotic relationship, “If Donald had a cold, he [Allen] would sneeze.”

Mr. Weisselberg performs due diligence on properties, reviews leases on asset acquisitions, and deals with real-estate firms that might be interested in marketing a property using the Trump name.

However, Mr. Weisselberg seldom signs checks on behalf of the Trump Organization above a certain amount, saving those for Mr. Trump, a former colleague said. The CEO is wont to withhold final payment to contractors whose work he is dissatisfied with, according to former employees.

Many of Mr. Trump’s personal transactions are handled by Mr. Weisselberg, including payment of household expenses, as well as the purchases of boats or planes, said an ex-Trump executive. He also dealt with Mr. Trump’s stockbroker, the late Bear Stearns Cos. Chairman Alan “Ace” Greenberg.

Allen Howard Weisselberg attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn where he served on the student patrol, according to the 1965 yearbook. His future occupation: accountant.

He graduated from Pace College, now Pace University, in 1970 with an accounting degree.

Mr. Weisselberg started off working for Mr. Trump’s father, Fred, and by the late 1980s was controller of the Trump Organization. In this role Mr. Weisselberg worked under CFO Stephen Bollenbach, who was hired in 1990.

Read more: http://blogs.wsj.com/cfo/2016/11/05/donald-trumps-loyal-numbers-man/

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San Francisco Chronicle: "Clinton or Trump? What to watch for as election results roll in"

11/08/2016

San Francisco Chronicle: "Clinton or Trump? What to watch for as election results roll in"

One of the longest and nastiest presidential election campaigns in memory ends Tuesday night, with Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump each looking to win a four-year, all-expenses-paid stay at the White House.

But even before the first polls close at 4 p.m. Pacific time, it’s clear what the candidates need to do and what indications to watch for through the night to see whether Trump or Clinton is on track for victory.

For Clinton, the key is her blue firewall of six swing states: Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Those states, which have a recent history of voting Democratic, would combine with solidly Democratic states like California and New York to give the former secretary of state just more than the 270 electoral votes she needs to become president.

But if Trump can crack that firewall by stealing one or more of those swing states, election night becomes much messier for Clinton, who then will have to win a toss-up state like Nevada, North Carolina or Florida.

Trump, though, has a narrower path to victory. He has to not only hold all the GOP-leaning states, but also virtually sweep the close races.

“Trump has to win all the battleground states,” said Jack Citrin, who runs UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. “It would help if he could grab a state not thought to be close.”

But if Clinton can win traditionally Republican states like Arizona, Utah and possibly even Texas, “we’re looking at a landslide,” he said.

Viewers should watch for any early signs that either Clinton or Trump is doing worse than expected in their targeted states because, in elections, bad news tends to be contagious.

Here’s what to look for as the polls close across the United States. All times are Pacific Standard Time.

Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
4 p.m.: Virginia is the first battleground state to close. It was trending Democratic even before Clinton picked Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate. Democratic strength is in the cities and the Washington, D.C., suburbs, which tend to report their votes late.

While Indiana and Kentucky are Trump territory, they can give an early look at the evening’s trend, said David A. Caputo, a political science professor at Pace University in New York.

“People should look to see if there’s a surge in support for Trump,” he said. “In Indiana, if (Democratic Senate candidate) Evan Bayh is close or winning, that’s good news for Clinton.”

Read more: http://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Clinton-or-Trump-What-to-watch-for-as-election-10599642.php

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Letter To the Editor: "Personal Views of Instructors Are Never Relevant in the Classroom"

11/03/2016

Chronicle of Higher Education: Letter To the Editor: "Personal Views of Instructors Are Never Relevant in the Classroom"

The Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, speaks in September at Miami Dade College. His boundary-defying campaign has political-science professors debating how much to express their views of his candidacy in the classroom. [Photo: Jewel Samad, AFP, Getty Images].

As someone who has taught the presidential elections course for more than 30 years and someone who is asked frequently for media commentary, the article on neutrality was perplexing (“The Tricky Task of Teaching About Trump,” The Chronicle, October 28), writes David A. Caputo, President Emeritus and Professor of Political Science at Pace University, in a letter to the editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Our personal views are never relevant in the classroom. Students have the right to an unbiased approach, and that is possible even in a divisive election year such as this one. You can, and I do, lecture on candidate traits, etc., but it must be done in a fair way. One can point out how a candidate’s rhetoric differs from past rhetoric, but again this can be done without introducing personal preferences. If you are going to have credibility, your personal views should not be part of the discussion.

Read more here.

 

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Wall Street Journal: "Raising a Trilingual Child"

11/02/2016

Wall Street Journal: "Raising a Trilingual Child"

The Striuli family is trilingual. Pilar Guzman, foreground, usually speaks Spanish with her daughters, including 7-year-old Maite, foreground right. Stefano Striuli, center, usually speaks Italian with the girls, including 10-year-old Letizia, background, right. Photo: Maura Friedman for The Wall Street Journal

... Before elementary school age, children usually can learn a second, third or even fourth language without much formal instruction, says Xiao-lei Wang, acting dean at the School of Education, at Pace University, in New York City, and author of a book, “Growing Up With Three Languages.” In many trilingual households, the unwritten rule is each parent speaks only one language to the children and encourages the children to reply only in that language, she says.

Read more here.

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USA Today: "Ivanka Trump's brand draws Twitter wrath, but struts on"

11/02/2016

USA Today: "Ivanka Trump's brand draws Twitter wrath, but struts on"

(Photo: MANDEL NGAN, AFP/Getty Images)

. . . While her family name has become controversial, it has also attracted many fans.

"There will be some people who won’t buy anything that she sells, but that's OK,'' says Larry Chiagouris, a marketing professor at Pace University. "What she’s left with is a sizable enough group of people that would make for a very attractive pool of customers or prospects, and she can grow it from there if she wants to.''

Read more here.

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Wall Street Journal: "Black Friday’s Inside Secret: Same Deals Every Year"

11/01/2016

Wall Street Journal: "Black Friday’s Inside Secret: Same Deals Every Year"

Black Friday remains one of the busiest shopping days of the year, but it recently lost its top ranking. Photo: Richard B. Levine/Zuma Press

. . . Eighty percent of the products and 43% of the prices promoted on the front pages of the 2015 and 2014 Black Friday circulars of Best Buy, Macy’s, Target, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and J.C. Penney were identical, according to price-tracking firm Market Track LLC.

Marketing experts say the trend is likely to continue, particularly since retailers are under pressure to contain costs. “The budgets for producing these circulars are under pressure, and that’s contributing to a lack of change,” said Larry Chiagouris, a marketing professor at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business in New York.

Read more here.

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infosecurity: "Most Americans Believe a Tech-Enabled Terrorist Attack is Imminent"

10/31/2016

infosecurity: "Most Americans Believe a Tech-Enabled Terrorist Attack is Imminent"

A full 69% of Americans believe a major, technology-based terrorist threat is likely within the next three to five years.

Pace University announced poll findings that show that fear of these kinds of cyber-threats increases with age, reflecting a potential generational divide in how technology is understood and experienced. 

Only 58% of participants under 30 believed that a technology-based terrorist threat was imminent, while 85% of participants over 60 felt the same way. Men are also more likely to fear these kinds of cyber-attacks, with 76% responding yes, compared with only 61% of women.

“We live in extraordinary times. Just last weekend a cyberattack cut millions of Americans off from the internet,” said Pace University president Stephen Friedman. “And throughout the presidential election cycle, hacked emails have been released in an attempt to influence America’s most fundamental and democratic process. We are ever-more reliant on technology, and our vulnerability to cybercriminals and cyber-attacks increases in tandem.”

Read more: http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/most-americans-believe-terrorist/

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Inside Cybersecurity: "Survey finds most Americans expect major cyber-terrorist attack in next few years"

10/31/2016

Inside Cybersecurity: "Survey finds most Americans expect major cyber-terrorist attack in next few years"

Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe there will be a “major, technology-based” terrorist threat within the next three to five years, according to a new survey from Pace University released last week.
Only 58 percent of those surveyed under the age of 30 believe cyber terrorism is imminent, however, and 85 percent of respondents over age 60 agreed that terrorism through cyber-based attacks in the near term are unlikely, the report finds.
“We live in extraordinary times,” said Pace University...

Read more: http://insidecybersecurity.com/daily-briefs/survey-finds-most-americans-...

 

 

 

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News Release: Pace University Poll Shows 69% of Americans Believe Technology-Based Terrorist Threat Likely Within 3-5 Years"

10/28/2016

News Release: Pace University Poll Shows 69% of Americans Believe Technology-Based Terrorist Threat Likely Within 3-5 Years"

Pace University Poll Shows 69% of Americans Believe Technology-Based Terrorist Threat Likely Within 3-5 Years

Poll Results Released at Pace University InsideTrack Conversation with Former NSA Senior Counsel and Inspector General  Joel F. Brenner

NEW YORK – Pace University announced today the results of a new poll showing that 69% of Americans believe a technology-based terrorist threat is likely to occur within the next 3-5 years. The poll shows that fear of these kinds of cyber-threats increases with age, reflecting a potential generational divide in how technology is understood and experienced. The results of this poll were released as part of Pace University’s InsideTrack series during a conversation between Joel F. Brenner, the former Inspector General and Senior Counsel at the National Security Agency, and Pace University President Stephen J. Friedman.

“We live in extraordinary times. Just last weekend a cyberattack cut millions of Americans off from the internet. And throughout the presidential election cycle hacked emails have been released in an attempt to influence America’s most fundamental and democratic process,” said Pace University President Stephen J. Friedman. “We are ever-more reliant on technology and our vulnerability to cyber criminals and cyber-attacks increases in tandem.”

“There is no electronic system that cannot be hacked,” said Joel F. Brenner, former Inspector General and Senior Counsel at the National Security Agency.

At this morning’s conversation, Brenner and Friedman discussed the security of federal government and state communications, the recent Distributed Denial-of-Service Attack and vulnerabilities that individuals and companies face from cyber-attacks, among other topics.

The Pace University poll surveyed 850 Americans, with results that highlight a clear generational difference in how people perceive cyber threats. Only 58% of participants under 30 believed that a technology-based terrorist threat was imminent, while 85% of participants over 60 felt the same way. Men are also more likely to fear these kinds of cyber-attacks, with 76% responding yes, compared with only 61% of women.

In addition to his years of service at the NSA, Joel F. Brenner is also the bestselling author of two books on cybercrime and espionage in America, Glass Houses and America the Vulnerable.

Complete poll results can be accessed and a comprehensive report containing poll results and analysis can be downloaded at www.pace.edu/news

About Pace University

Since 1906, Pace University has produced thinking professionals by providing high-quality education for the professions with a firm base in liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York Metropolitan Area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, enrolling almost 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its College of Health Professions, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lubin School of Business, School of Education, Elisabeth Haub School of Law and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.

To view analysis and polls click here:

Pace University Poll on Technology-Based Terrorism (PDF)
Pace University Poll on Technology-Based Terrorist Threats: Comprehensive Results (PDF)

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