The Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc. has gone AMEB Green; this is a business initiative that promotes becoming an environmentally friendlier company. This initiative is aimed at results which will impact the social, environmental, and financial performance of Berkshire through promoting environmental-consciousness among its customers and employees.

They follow similar behaviors as other banks that offer features that allow you to order checks online; that saves you from the time-consuming task of going to the bank and submitting paperwork for check ordering.

The Chief Administrative Risk Officer and Executive Vice President of Berkshire, Richard Marotta, said during an interview, “Environmentally friendly business delivers value to our clients, returns for our shareholders, and helps strengthen the economy. AMEB Green was developed by a cross-functional committee of employees that looked at policies, products, operations, and behaviors to identify goals and key steps to become a more environmentally sustainable company. I love that this initiative was spurred by employee suggestions, and has resulted in Berkshire’s renewed commitment to the environment and our communities.”

The AMEB Green Strategies of Berkshire Bank

  • To reduce the consumption of paper by 10% for the next 3 years. They will do this with the use of technology, promotion of online banking solutions for their clients, promotion of reusable office products, and promoting behaviors among employees and customers that reduces or eliminates their usage of paper. Some of the feature they are yet to implement is enabling their clients to order personalized checks hassle-free by allowing them to order on their online database.
  • To reduce the consumption of energy by approximately 10% for the next 3 years. This can be done through the implementation of standards in terms of energy usage wherein every bank branch should strictly implement and follow; the implementation of the rules and regulations in terms of temperature and thermostat setting of the air-condition and heater; as well as the implementation of the rules for reducing the consumption of non-essential energy around the office.
  • To encourage at least 15% of the company’s volunteer service to commit to environmental causes that is run by the community. Aside from that, to develop and create products that promote environmentally-friendly banking options — like ordering checks paperless— and the implementation of the standards of recycling across various branches of the Berkshire Banks.

On Paperless Bank Statements

Last year (2014), the Berkshire Bank joined the campaign of promoting eStatements, or paperless billing, to their clients instead of paper statements; this is in line with the company’s initiative to reduce the amount of carbon footprint in the environment. The New England Financial Marketing Association recognized the efforts of the company during the best “Green” marketing campaign for the year 2014 because they’ve promoted the adoption of e-Statement.

To jump start the AMEB Green initiative, the charitable sector of Berkshire Bank known as the Berkshire Bank Foundation, contributed to the Arbor Day Foundation for the planting of a tree to honor each of the employees of Berkshire in celebration of the introduction and launching of the initiative. For the next 2 weeks across the initiation of the program, the employees of Berkshire have helped in the beautification of several parks by planting trees and cleaning up the riverfronts in order to mark the launching of the AMEB Green.

order checks online

What you need to know about Berkshire

The Berkshire Hills Bancorp is the parent company of the Berkshire Bank, dubbed as the “America’s Most Exciting Bank”. They are widely known for their approach to entrepreneurship and their unique culture. They currently have more than $7 billion worth of assets and 98 branch offices in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont.

A few years ago, we only had several top level domain names (which include .com, .gov, and .net suffixes that we normally see on URL addresses); however, the organization that manages them recently opened up a market for hundreds of new domains and is now selling them to its highest bidder.

During the 90s, internet’s maintenance was done by just a single person: a computer scientist who is on the payroll of the Department of Defense of the United States, known as Jon Postel. As soon as the job has outgrown him, the US government created a nonprofit organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, to take over the job.

The ICANN

The ICANN is now responsible for keeping track of the owners of the domain names and has the task of maintaining different systems that are on the internet and the World Wide Web. A few years ago, they started creating and selling new top-level domains in the internet industry, particularly to celebrities and business owners.

Benefits of New Domains

Not only do they provide income (since these top level domains are bought for millions of dollars) but they create a larger space for an increasingly populated internet for companies to own domain names that would generally include their brand names, as well as their trademarks.

However, not all of these top level domains will be brand names; for instance, Google bought a generic “.app” domain for around $25 million among other purchases. This gives them the right to make a web address that includes Google.app and Android.app, as well as to change others and register them.

As a matter of fact, according to Google, they will start operating as a registry; thereby, charging those that lease domain names under this domain. So far, it is said that they have bought or in the process of purchasing domains such as .how, .meme, .new, and .PhD.

Other Buyers of Top Level Domain Names

Amazon has recently bought the .buy domain, beating Google in the auction; according to reports, they bought it for $4.6 million.

Unregistry purchased the .mom domain. They said they hope to “honour all mothers by providing them their own online space in which they can build a personalized online identity” — not for free, of course.

The Financial Services Roundtable and the American bankers Association, on the other hand, partnered to buy .bank with the hope of conveying trust for online banking.

There is a big health risk when mold is present in your home, according to the World Health Organization. Have you ever imagined that wall, books, clothes, toys and even your CDs are home of mold? Their growth can turn your things into moist and musty sadness that can be compared to garbage. However, for all the molds corrupting menace, the primary question that must be answered is to what extent or degree will you worry when they invade your home? Also, what are the risks they can pose to your family’s health? This article is going to answer these questions and the importance of mold testing NJ.

Molds come in different textures and forms, they appear as black, white, green, yellow or blue and often, they look like a stain or discoloration on a surface. Also, they can have a fuzzy or velvety appearance; it all depends on the kind of mold and the place they are thriving. Mold spores are invisible, they can be found anywhere and everywhere both inside and outside your home. These spores get inside your home by air or when they are attached to people or objects. Open doorways, windows and ventilation systems are the most common gateways of spores. Shoes, clothing and pets can facilitate the entrance of mold in the home too.

According to the report of the World Health Organization, about 10%-50% of environments in the home in North America, Europe, Australia, Japan and India are affected by dampness. This suggests that the problem of mold is a highly pressing issue all over the world. In North America, the EPA or Environmental Protection Agency state that if you have a problem of mold in your home, you must clean-up them up immediately at the same time fix the water problem.

Are there potential health risks of mold? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to mold does not always pose health risks indoors but for sensitive people, they can be affected. On the other hand, WHO said that moldy environment is often associated with indoor air pollution and could worsen this is certainly a risk factor for people who have respiratory conditions. They can produce harmful substances that can harm the health such as irritants, allergens and mycotoxins which are potentially toxic substances. In particular, EPA said mold exposure can irritate the nose, eyes, throats, lungs and skin even if you do not have an allergy. The most common symptoms include blocked or runny nose, itchy nose, itchy throat, sneezing and watery eyes.

mold testing NJ

Image – rohrlab.com

In addition, for those who have mold allergies, they have a greater risk of having asthma according to CDC while Prof. Stephen Spiro of UK’s British Lung Foundation informed the public that the presence of mold indoors can be more dangerous than simple pre-existing conditions. He said that certain species of mold can cause scarring and serious lung infections.

For these reasons, the WHO released a guideline to have quality indoor air. This issue has mixed conclusions but they conclude that there is sufficient evidence in the association of indoor dampness and respiratory health effects including respiratory infections, asthma, dyspnea, coughing and wheezing.

Despite the inconclusive results of the current research, the EPA and CDC recommend that growth of mold must be dealt with promptly. Both organizations said that the most crucial part in the prevention of mold is to control moisture to avoid them from growing indoors. The key is to act immediately in case of spillage or leak and dry the areas within forty-eight hours to make sure the mold will not grow.

If you are uncertain of their presence in your home, you can ask professional help from companies that conduct mold inspections.

As winter season comes, homes usually get all sealed-up for the protection of the inhabitants from the winter cold. However, with any season, caution must be considered in ensuring your home’s cleanliness so as to safeguard the property itself and of course, the occupants.

Canadians consume most of their time inside their homes. It is vital for your health to breath in clean air- yet it goes more than the air itself. Before the cold climate starts, there are numerous things that householders should highly take into account for their environment to be kept clean and green.

For instance, clogged dryer vents are a good breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Moreover, dryer vents that tend to clog can be a fire hazard, and can hinder the proper carbon monoxide ventilation. For kitchen and bathrooms alike, moisture is the main culprit that can result to build up of mildew and mold, while also producing unpleasant scents. Both the bathrooms and kitchen are two of the most-utilized areas of your home. Keep on-guard through extensive and regular cleaning for both of these greatly frequented rooms. Remember that moisture can load to mold formation where it is invisible to your naked eyes, such as in the ceiling or behind the walls.

It is also equally important of keeping your carpets and rugs clean at all times. Usually, people don’t mind with regard to the significance of cleaning their carpets at home and don’t bother about what such collects. Dirt, dust mites, dust, fungus, pet dander and all kinds of mysterious yet potentially unhealthy and harmful particles can grow in your home carpets that can lead to respiratory issues, asthmatic attacks, allergic reactions and some other illnesses. Carpets are believed to be a conducive nesting ground. It would be best to find a home cleaning company professional to do your carpet cleaning regularly.

home cleaning company

Any quantity of normal living within your home will generate pet dander, dust, moisture and array of particles that can simply include pollutants, pathogens and among others. Fungus, mildew, allergens and molds will likely to develop in your house in addition to the average “grime and dirt” of everyday living.

It’s best to always keep your home tidy and thoroughly clean and this advice should be applied to every season of the year. As the cold season commences however, cleanliness turns to be even more important for the protection and wellness of everyone at home and also your property.

In the region of Ottawa, Dr. Clean Air is one of the best cleaning aids and it can offer all the house cleaning services you need. There are also other cleaning services that have extensive packages and services which include dust cleaning, home cleaning, carpet cleaning, dryer vent cleaning and even maid services.

The recovery of the economy of the US only implies that small businesses should become more creative when it comes to searching for guarantor loans.

However, for those companies that has efficient business strategies have a greater chance to acquire one. Their options would include borrowing from traditional banks and financial institutions that are affiliates of the Small Business Administration, as well as financial services from online-based lenders.

According to the chief executive officer of the American Management Services (that offers consultation services to small businesses), George Cloutier, “For creditworthy, high-scoring small businesses, there is money available.”

“The best place to get small business loan is still a bank. Banks typically offer the lowest interest rates and many have established reputations as trustworthy lenders,” said Cloutier.

“Many small businesses try 3 or 4 banks and then stop looking. Take out the phone book, target ten banks and work through that list,” he added further.

It is important to note that using a more persistent approach and business strategy has a greater chance at achieving success. This strategy actually worked for Michael McKean, who is the founder of the Knowland Group —- a company that offers help to hotels to acquire clients that would fill up their conference rooms.

During the past few years as The Knowland Group is at the peak of their success, McKean started to search for a bank that could give an expanding company an access to loans.

According to McKean, “We talked to every bank in our area, at least a dozen. Many came back with proposals, but the terms were very onerous. Or sometimes they shifted terms.”

And finally, the MandT Bank gave them access to a loan.

“They just wanted to get our business,” said McKean.

According to him, they didn’t approach MandT dissimilarly than they have approached any other banks. “It was just a matter of being persistent until the right deal came along,” he says.

Furthermore he added, “We did everything right, approaching the right person at each bank. We’re a profitable business. I think it was just the credit crunch that prevented us from getting a loan.”

Cloutier, however, says that the primary factor to success with banks is for companies to show how profitable they are or they were, and to describe an effective and efficient strategy to gain their future profits.

Cloutier said, “If you aren’t making a profit now, you must be able to tell the bank how you will change that in the short term, or you really won’t be able to get a loan.”

He highly recommends to businesses that they should start small when requesting for a loan from any financial institution.

“If you need money for 4 trucks, ask for 2,” says Cloutier. “The bigger the loan request, the harder it is to get it approved.”

Another way to acquire a loan is through the Small Business Administration (SBA). They can help direct you to institutions that offer loans that are guaranteed by the SBA. Through this, you will have the advantage of getting loans from banks that are interested in giving loans to small businesses.

guarantor loans

SBA Awards Grants to Economic ‘Clusters’

Those who are interested in borrowing money should contact the nearest SBA office or look over their website. The acting administrator of SBA, Jeanne Hulit, is encouraging businesses to look for banks that are experienced SBA lender.

Financial institutions that grant loans guaranteed by the SBA put great importance on business plans, as well as cash flow and profit forecasts in terms of deciding whether to lend or not, according to Hulit. The SBA may also refer businesses to several counseling centers that offer free services to enhance their performance.

By Litia Mathewsell

An intensive two-year health program by the Viseisei Sai Health Centre has found more outreach services to rural women are needed.

The findings came from mobile clinics provided to 5622 women and girls with reproductive health services in the Ba Province from November 2012 to December 2014.

"The project has confirmed a gap in reproductive health service provisions, hence it is recommended that outreach services be provided to rural women," the centre noted in a report launched last week.

"There are major gaps in knowledge and motivation for health seeking behaviour.

"Frontline service providers need capacity building. Advocacy and education is required at the community level on basic reproductive health issues.

"There should be renewed efforts to ensure that every woman and girl in Fiji has equal opportunities provided to them in every community development initiative."

The centre also said the project’s objective was to strengthen the rights of rural girls and women by empowering them through awareness and education on their reproductive health needs.

"This was next to providing them with essential clinical services for their contraceptive needs, gynaecological problems and cervical cancer screening.

Ba Province, it noted, had a population of 231,760 and the total population of the area covered in the project was about 80776, as areas such as Tavua and the Yasawas which also fall under Ba, were not covered by the clinical team.

Source: Fiji Times

The Fiji Finance Minister, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, has called the boycott of parliament on Monday by the opposition a cheap political stunt.

The opposition boycotted over its concerns that the Budget document is riddled with errors and could not be made law in that state.

It wanted the entire document rewritten.

But Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says the opposition betrayed the interests of ordinary Fijians by their actions.

Mr Sayed Khaiyum says the opposition’s job is to ensure that the Budget is debated properly, effectively and meets relevant appropriate standards, something he says the government was looking forward to.

In the absence of the opposition the government pushed the Budget through parliament in one and a half hours.

All of this week had been reserved for Budget debate.

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Next story in Pacific: Sport: Samoa netballers stay unbeaten at Nations Cup

Source: Radio New Zealand

By Jemima Garrett

There are signs of renewed Australian investment interest in Fiji in the wake of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s visit late last week.

Ms Bishop’s trip to Suva was her first since post-coup elections restored parliamentary government in the country.

The Australia-Fiji and Fiji-Australia Business Councils held a two-day forum to coincide with Ms Bishop’s visit.

More than 100 business leaders from both countries attended the forum.

Business links between Australia and Fiji cooled following the 2006 coup, but not as much as political links. They still have not returned to pre-coup levels.

Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, and Ms Bishop both spoke of plans to reinvigorate trade and investment.

"Clearly, the indications are that on both sides there is a good intent to bring the two nations together in terms of trade and business participation, given particularly the emotional connection that we know the two countries have, which as we know is very, very strong," ANZ Pacific CEO Vishnu Mohan said.

"It is all about people. There are so many Fijians who have business interests in Australia – they have got houses they have got children going to school.

"Australians outnumber everyone else in terms of tourist arrivals going to Fiji, so, all in all, I thought it was a very, very positive two days and we could see the warmth and the good intent behind the relationship from both sides."

Mr Bainimarama told the forum there is much significant untapped potential in Fiji’s trade with Australia and new opportunities for investment, including as a result of the government’s policy of making more state land available.

In the tourism industry, plans are afoot for expansion and refurbishment of some of Fiji’s lucrative resorts.

Australia-Fiji Business Council president Greg Pawson said he also saw opportunities for growth in other sectors.

"There are some exciting things happening in relation to other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing," he said.

"Fiji is looking to put itself forward as a potential call centre base for companies, software developers, there are a lot of exciting things going on."
Australian investors still wary but optimistic

Before the election, there was a feeling among Australian investors that with other elements of democracy such as a free media, independence of the judiciary and an active civil society still a way off, they would continue to tread warily.

That feeling remains, but appears to be coloured with newfound optimism.

Australia is still by far the biggest source of foreign investment in Fiji and its biggest trading partner but it has been losing market share.

In the post-coup years, Fiji has accelerated its trade with countries in Asia and focused more on the Melanesian Spearhead group, which includes Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

Mr Mohan said Australian investors face increased competition in Fiji.

"Clearly it is going to be a challenge for Australia to break into that, but it is how they find that niche and how they go about doing it," Mr Mohan said.

Since the 2006 coup ANZ figures show that Chinese investment in Fiji has gone from $US25 million to around $US420 million.

Mr Mohan said he does not see this growth stopping.

"I think it will continue to grow because the Chinese have positioned themselves – and it is not just Fiji, [it’s] across the Pacific," he said.

"You will see a lot of Chinese interests in many areas, whether there is mining, or infrastructure development or trading or properties, and that will continue to happen. You can’t stop that."

Mr Bainimarama has thrown his weight firmly behind the proposed PACER Plus trade agreement, saying it would foster development in the whole region as well as Fiji, but made that conditional on addressing the trade imbalance between the two countries and significantly improving access for Fijian products in Australia.

Mr Pawson acknowledged there were problems with market access for products like ginger but said he believed problems with the trade balance are overblown.

"The prime minister, Bainimarama, made a comment, perhaps the only subtly negative comment in his speech, around the trade imbalance, where he talked about the fact that Australia exports considerably more to Fiji than Fiji does to Australia," he said.

"What he is not taking into account is service industries, the service industry sector and 350,000 people going there every year for a holiday contributes significantly to Fiji’s economy.

"So I think it is important to call that out. And on that basis the Fiji government has deliberately looked to other markets but that will all be bridged as we restore the relationship over time, I am sure."

Source: ABC

By Mohamed Taha and Allan Clarke

After selling fish and coconuts to help finance their trip from Fiji the Gonetoga rugby squad is ready to take on their Pacific nation rivals in Sydney.

The 15-member squad is the first from the Rewa province, which takes in the capital Suva, to travel to Australia for the Fiji Day Rugby Sevens Tournament in Parramatta this weekend.

The tournament is part of the Fiji Day Sydney festival, a major Pacific community event which attracted more than 20,000 people last year.

A total of 24 teams representing Pacific nations and Fijian provinces will take part.

Gonetoga team manager Unaisi Karan said many of the players came from simple backgrounds.

"This team is from the village," she said.

"Some of them are unemployed, some are fishermen and farmers, and they collect fish, collect coconuts.

"For some, it was the first time on a plane.

"To play in a big stadium will be an eye-opener."

Team captain Ilikena Karikaritu, 29, said many of the players sacrificed work to finance the trip.

"The rest of the boys, we deliver them some jobs to do," he said.

"Go out in the bush look for coconuts, some go out in the sea for fish.

"We put it together and sell the Lovo [national drink] for 50 dollars."

The fly-half said the team’s discipline included a self-imposed ban on alcohol, smoking and kava, which had helped them become role models in their province and fuelled their motivation to win the $20,000 prize money.

"All the elder people, they were very proud of us," he said.

"Even for some of the boys, it was very hard to leave [those] things and it’s been good to even, [for] some of us, grow big and healthy."

Team member Vuate Godro Sukulu, 22, said the village support had been huge.

"All our family members they were very supportive by helping us coming out here," he said.

"They were calling and praying for us and for best of luck."

Source: ABC

The island republic of Fiji, troubled but potentially prosperous, went to the polls on September 17th in the first election since the armed forces seized power in December 2006. Early results suggest that Frank Bainimarama, who became prime minister on the back of that coup, has polled strongly, with his Fiji First Party securing perhaps 60% of the vote. Since the coup Mr Bainimarama’s supporters have written a new constitution, introduced a bewildering electoral system and marshalled the resources of incumbency to secure victory for their new party. Their main opponent was the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), which led the government that was overthrown in 2006.

Mr Bainimarama, who stood down as army commander in March, says SODELPA is a group of corrupt politicians seeking to resurrect Fiji’s baneful tradition of racial tension between the three-fifths of the population who are indigenous and the one-third who are of Indian extraction. The head of SODELPA, Ro Teimumu Kepa, one of Fiji’s three paramount chiefs, retorts that Fiji’s root cause of instability is Mr Bainimarama himself and army officers.

Fiji has had three coups since independence, in 1987, 2000 and 2006. In all of them, the 3,500-strong armed forces have been the decisive actor—though in 2000 they intervened not to overthrow the government but to suppress a coup launched by ethnic-Fijian nationalists. Mr Bainimarama was military commander at the time. His claim to be liberating the nation from its history of ethnic strife constantly harks back to that earlier episode, when his own life was threatened during an army mutiny at the army barracks in Suva, the capital.

This time round, the army will accept the election result. Mr Bainimarama’s hand-picked successor as commander, Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga, has promised to uphold the constitution of 2013 and says he will back whichever party forms a government. The other larger parties lined up in opposition to Fiji First say that the new constitution was foisted on Fijians. They say they will seek a judicial review if elected to government. It looks like they will not get the chance.

Mr Bainimarama’s position has grown considerably more secure than it was in the early post-coup years. Fiji’s economy has recovered. Chinese money has helped build new roads, including a much-needed tarmacked highway up the eastern side of Viti Levu, the main island. Among the urban poor, subsidised bus fares for children and free schooling are popular.

Mr Bainimarama himself has grown more accustomed to speaking in public, cracking jokes and handling questions more adeptly than at first. Meanwhile, his opponents have withered. In an implicit acknowledgment of Mr Bainimarama’s popularity as a man who gets things done, they have concentrated their fire on the attorney-general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who is responsible for much of the affairs of government and who is less popular.

In past elections Fiji’s citizens have voted strongly along ethnic lines. This time the pattern is blurred. Mr Bainimarama has polled well among ethnic-Indian voters, who did not like the indigenous-controlled pre-coup government. Indigenous Fijians appear split between Fiji First and SODELPA.

Of the other five parties, most will struggle to reach the 5% threshold. The new proportional electoral system featured an opaque ballot paper showing only numbers representing candidates. It did not make clear to voters that party tallies are decisive in determining the overall outcome. Unfortunately, the 2013 constitution requires a 75% majority in a referendum for any change.

With no election for eight years, and a reduction in the voting age from 21 to 18, a large number of Fiji’s nearly 600,000 adults were voting for the first time. Many younger Fijians back Mr Bainimarama’s development and anti-racist messages. The result, by in effect legitimising the coup, has shocked the country’s intellectual elite. The task now for the Fiji First Party is to adjust the leadership style to fit the new parliamentary context, and to consult more effectively.

The past eight years have been debilitating for Fiji’s politics and have fostered possibly durable divisions among the country’s elites. A new elected parliament—particularly if it can marshal at least a degree of consensus among Fiji’s eternally quarrelsome politicians—would not only enable the country to return to the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum. It could also open the door to substantial foreign investment.

Source: The Economist