US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (2nd R), alongside US Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn ®, Republican of Texas; US Senator John Barrasso (L), Republican of Wyoming; and US Senator Orrin Hatch (2nd L), Republican of Utah, speaks after a meeting between US President Donald Trump and the Republican Senate Caucus at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Photo: AFPUS President Donald Trump clashed with Democratic leaders in dramatic fashion Tuesday, heaping pressure on Congress to craft a compromise on federal spending or face a crippling government shutdown in 10 days.Hours after the president suggested a funding deal with Democrats may be impossible, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer pulled out of a planned White House meeting with Trump that they said would be fruitless.“Given that the president doesn’t see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead,” the pair said in a statement.Trump shot back that he was not surprised the Democrats rejected his offer, saying they were “very far apart” on several issues like immigration.“They’ve been all talk and they’ve been no action. And now it’s even worse, now it’s not even talk,” Trump declared during the meeting, which went ahead with Republican congressional leaders-an empty chair on either side of the president underscoring the absence of their Democratic counterparts.The rare public rejection of White House talks ratcheted up tensions in Washington over a 2018 spending bill that must pass by a December 8 deadline, and served as a stinging rebuke to a president who often mocks his rivals on Twitter.The spat heaps pressure on Congress to craft a compromise or face a crippling government shutdown next month.And it muddied the waters on the same day Trump headed to Congress to urge fellow Republicans to unite behind his tax overhaul, a controversial bill that he wants on his desk by year end.Trump lunched with Senate Republicans for an hour, answering questions from Ron Johnson and Susan Collins, who have concerns about the bill.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, addressing reporters afterwards, acknowledged the challenge in getting at least 50 of his chamber’s 52 Republicans on board, likening it to solving “a Rubik’s Cube.”‘Chuck and Nancy’Behind the tough talk, Trump needs Schumer and Pelosi to rally their party’s votes to keep government running through the next 10 months.But the self-styled master dealmaker Trump derailed Tuesday’s plans for a bipartisan White House meeting on the challenge ahead when he hit the two top Democrats-whom he called “Chuck and Nancy”-in a morning tweet.“Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes,” he added. “I don’t see a deal!”Schumer later said Democrats would meet with Trump “any time, anywhere, any place,” so long as he was serious about a deal.“But there is an alternative; when the president stays out of it we seem to do much better.”The White House expressed disappointment at the no-show, urging Democrats to “put aside their pettiness” and “grandstanding,” and saying Trump’s invitation remained open.High priceBut McConnell did not hide his irritation at the snub, calling it “a lack of seriousness” about the prospect of a looming government shutdown.In 2013, a similar spending feud caused 850,000 government officials to be sent home temporarily, and as much as half a percentage point was shaved off economic growth.Trump has staked much of his fragile political reputation on being a good steward of the economy, so failure could be damaging. But Democrats are demanding a steep price for their support.They say funding for Trump’s border “wall” must be stripped out, and Trump must honor the Obama administration’s pledge to allow migrants brought to the country as children to remain.The issue, as tricky as it is, is not the only problem on Trump’s plate.Tough sleddingIn December, a “debt ceiling” deadline is also looming-if missed, the US government could be hurtling towards a technical default in the new year.And beyond the spending fight, Trump’s primary task will be to pass tax cuts, which Republicans see as absolutely vital to keep voters and donors happy.Having so far failed to pass health care, immigration or infrastructure reforms, Trump faces a party revolt if he cannot make tax cuts law.With the party controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, the task should be straightforward. But little is straightforward in Washington these days.The administration has struggled to convince the public that the tax cut will help middle-class families, and a Harvard-Harris Poll showed a majority of voters oppose the bill.Democrats portray the proposals as good for big business but bad for ordinary Americans, while half a dozen Republican senators have publicly expressed doubts about the plan, which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects would increase the national debt by $1.4 trillion by 2027.The White House argues the cuts will boost growth, in turn increasing tax revenue, although most economists disagree.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina speaks to reporters after casting her vote in parliamentary elections in Dhaka, on Sunday.—Photo: APBangladesh Awami League’s election victory with a margin of victory at 96 per cent “was a result one might expect in a place like North Korea, not a democratic nation such as Bangladesh”, writes The Washington Post.That is, according to the US newspaper, exactly the problem: prime minister Sheikh Hasina “consolidated her grip on power but at the cost of her own electoral legitimacy.”Her party and its allies secured 288 out of 299 contested seats. The opposition BNP, which won only seven, has called the election “farcical” and demanded a do-over, TIME magazine mentioned in an article ‘They Threaten Everyone’, adding that Sheikh Hasina’s “landslide win in Bangladesh marred by voter suppression”.The Economist wrote, “… the embarrassingly skewed tally suggested that the BNP was not really the biggest loser. The biggest loss was for democracy itself.”It observed that the flawed general election of 30 December represented a sharp reversion to the less democratic end of the spectrum. “The Awami League, which has been in power continuously for 10 years, flagrantly wielded the full power of state institutions,” the British magazine said in a piece “By hook, crook and ballot”.TIME magazine cited an example of voting in Dhaka on 30 December, quoting a polls worker who tried to defend disruption in voting as “Lunch break”. But by 3.10pm, the explanation had changed. “We’ve already started to count,” a policeman was quoted to have said. The polls had been supposed to close at 4pm.It also pointed out that the result of AL’s landslide victory has been clouded by pre-election violence and allegations of a crackdown on the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), as well as widespread reports of vote-rigging and intimidation on election day, some of which was observed by TIME on the ground.The Washington Post reported that there were scattered reports of irregularities at polling stations, including possible vote tampering, “but observers said Hasina had used other means to tilt the field in her favour long before Sunday.”Nazrul Islam Khan, a standing committee leader of the BNP, told TIME that “the extent to which the government has rigged these elections is beyond imagination.”The AL chief, Hasina, rejected all allegations of impropriety, at a briefing with journalists and election observers on Monday evening. Her advisor HT Imam was said to have called it “one of the best elections held ever.”Evidence of voter disruption was widespread, said TIME. At one polling station at Kabi Nazrul Islam College in Old Dhaka, TIME was reportedly harassed by dozens of government supporters and forced to delete a video showing a woman who got into a fight with poll workers.It wasn’t just BNP supporters who claimed they were prevented from voting. “I wanted to vote for the Awami League anyway, but when I reached the polling station they told me my vote had already been cast,” said one woman who asked TIME not to publish her name for fear of reprisals.The Economist said the sweeping nature of the repression meant that on voting day, few of the BNP’s electoral agents — who guide voters and monitor the process — dared show up at the 40,000 polling stations. By contrast, the Awami League fielded 120,000 agents. In Dhaka, the capital, it was hard to find a single poster for the BNP among the tens of thousands boosting the Awami League, the magazine said.The sweeping nature of Hasina’s victory raises “serious doubt” about the fairness of the election, the Post quoted Ataur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Political Scientist Association, as saying. He added that the opposition’s tiny number of seats also means there will be no mechanism for political accountability.Hasina, according to the newspaper, is also viewed by some — including in neighbouring India — as an ally against the potential spread of Islamist extremism in Bangladesh.After Sunday’s election, Bangladesh has become a “one-party democracy,” Kanchan Gupta, a political commentator in New Delhi, was quoted to have written. Hasina “faces no opposition worth its name.”“Why should Sheikh Hasina pull out so many stops to ensure a victory that most observers had assumed was in the bag in any case?” wrote The Economist, adding that opinion polls had universally shown a solid advantage for the Awami League.The magazine observed that Sheikh Hasina seems to bear a personal grudge against perceived enemies, which springs both from the murder of her family members including Bangabandhu Sheikh Mijibur Rahman in 1975 and from an attempt on her own life that has allegedly been tied to figures in the BNP.Some of the ruling party’s rivals were quoted to have suggested that the AL needs to cling to power to cover its own corruption.TIME quoted Bangladeshi editors and journalists as saying that it’s increasingly difficult to publish news that embarrasses the government. Some estimate they self-censor at least two-thirds of their stories. “I am not sure if I want to stay in this country now that the Awami League will feel even more entitled to stifle dissent,” one TV journalist, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, was quoted to have said.And on social media, it reported, criticism of the government is carefully shrouded in irony. “Can someone please tell me if my vote was already cast? Then I don’t have to get out of bed this morning,” a law student posted on Facebook on election day.TIME referred to a BNP activist, Mozammal Hossain, one of a dozen BNP activists who were documenting fraud, arrests, voter harassment and violence during these elections, as saying that his parents were recently harassed by police for their son’s work. “They threaten everyone,” he was quoted to have said.
Editor’s Note: Entrepreneur’s “20 Questions” series features both established and up-and-coming entrepreneurs and asks them a number of questions about what makes them tick, their everyday success strategies and advice for aspiring founders.For many women, shopping for the right bra is something of an ordeal. You have to get measured by a total stranger, the bra may only last about a year and the offerings that are available can be pretty expensive, with an average garment retailing for about $100 or more.Fed up with an exhausting and inefficient process and certain that others felt the same, in 2013, Heidi Zak launched ThirdLove, a San Francisco-based lingerie company that aims to provide customers with bras that truly fit at an affordable price.Related: A Bra Company That Uses Smartphones to Find the Right Fit Just Raised $8 MillionZak, who worked as a senior marketing manager at Google before founding the company, differentiated ThirdLove from other lingerie startups by integrating technology and patenting an app to allow users to size themselves at home with just a few photos. Once a person is sized, they can shop for the bra they need. ThirdLove allows customers to try the garments before they purchase for 30 days. If it doesn’t fit, then they can send it back for $2.99. The company also provides a glossary of fit concerns on the site for reference and live chats with ThirdLove stylists.She also realized that standard sizes simply wouldn’t work for every customer, so with head designer Ra’el Cohen, the company designed bras in half sizes. With that custom fit in mind, ThirdLove also has a 30-day trial period before purchase.Since its launch over four years ago, the company has raised more than $13 million, expanded into underwear, as well as lounge and sleepwear and has more than 250,000 paying customers.We caught up with Zak for our 20 Questions series to find out what motivates her and makes her tick.1. How do you start your day?I wake up usually around 6:00 am and try to get a quick workout in. I have two little kids. Before my second baby, I would go to a bootcamp or a cycling class but now I just tend to do cycling using Zwift. It’s a cool new startup that allows you to use your own bike and work out with the TV. I also use Daily Burn, a platform for online fitness videos That way I can just work out from my basement. Working out is something that really energizes me and makes me feel much more focused and efficient. The days I don’t work out, I feel it.2. How do you end your day?By putting my kids to bed. I have a 3 year old and a 7 month old. I’m away from them during the day, so for me, it’s crucial to spend time with them.What I love about that is that when you’re with your kids you don’t have to think about anything else. As the founder a company your mind is always racing, but I don’t think about anything for a few hours while I spend time with them.Related: The Top 10 American Cities for Working Parents3. What’s a book that changed your mind and why?Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. It’s all about how children relate to each other — but some of it also can be brought into any relationship, even those at work. The book talks about not needing to be fair, meaning, each child does not need to get the exact same thing.This lesson applies really well in the corporate environment, too. Every employee is unique and needs their own personal objectives and goals. If you’re having any interpersonal issues, getting to the root of the issue at hand is important, so is being able think about things from different [points of view].4.What’s a book you always recommend and why?One of the things that is super important in business is how to negotiate well. For me, it’s something that I’ve had to learn along the way. One of the books I read at MIT is Getting to Yes by Bruce Patton, Roger Fisher and William Ury. I recommend it to everyone at our company to read.Negotiating is a hard skill, but one that is necessary for almost every job function – and this book is a quick read about the basics. The key learning for me is that you must figure out what you can offer to the other side, and to do that, you must get to know them to understand their most important needs. It’s not just transactional, it’s personal.5. What’s a strategy to keep focused?I check email once an hour or less. If I check it more, I lose focus. So, I set aside five or 10 minutes to check email and then spend the rest of the time thinking about what I need to be doing.Related: 4 Great Non-Business Role Models for Entrepreneurs6. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. I looked up to Katie Couric when she was at the Today Show. I think she was just really knowledgeable and came across as very friendly — something about her that was really real, and I think I liked that about her.7. What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?I haven’t had a lot of really bad bosses. The one thing that I’ve noticed from having different types of bosses is that the best ones have a clearly articulated vision of what the team is working toward. You have to communicate it effectively and do it often. That’s what I try to do; you can’t say it too often.8. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?I think my dad is my biggest influence. He grew up on a small farm outside of Pittsburgh. Through a lot of hard work and by focusing on education, he has been really successful in business. I think it’s true in life that when you work hard, things will work themselves out for you. That work ethic is also something that I look for when I’m hiring.Related: 7 Elements of a Strong Work Ethic9. What’s a trip that changed you?Five years ago, my husband and I climbed to Mt. Everest basecamp in Nepal. You get to 18,000 plus feet at base camp. It’s important in two ways: I like to challenge myself generally and that trip pushed me to my limits. I had a little altitude sickness, but I made it thanks to the support of my husband and the other couple we were with. That’s the other thing, surround yourself with people who are supportive that you trust.10. What inspires you?I think what inspires me the most are our customers. I specifically set aside time to read customer chats, reading the positive comments of course is awesome, but I also get a lot of value from the things that we can improve on. I read those conversations and get inspired to do things better, change things and develop products based on that feedback. That inspires me every day.11. What was your first business idea and what did you do with it?I had a more traditional career path before ThirdLove. But after moving out to Silicon Valley five years ago, I caught the entrepreneurial bug. I was impressed by the people I was meeting and ThirdLove was the first real business I started.Related: Starting A Business? You Need These 3 Basics.12. What was an early job that taught you something important or useful?My first job was when I was 14, I grew up in western New York, and I worked at a farm stand. There are two things that I still use today from the job. One is how to make things look really beautiful. It was very much learning how to merchandise — how do you make them look compelling for a customer that it going to walk in. The other thing was I learned how to think about the customer, what their needs were and how to sell to them effectively.13. What’s the best advice you ever took?Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you start your own company you have to get used to learning how to do things that you don’t know how to do. You also need to learn how to take risks and be okay with not knowing what the next stage is going to bring.14. What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?The worst advice that I’ve gotten is to not do something. There is never been a time that I have regretted going somewhere new. Most regrets come from not seizing an opportunity or not doing something. A lot more comes out of saying yes than saying no.Related: Richard Branson: How to Spot an Opportunity15. What’s a productivity tip you swear by?We use Hipchat at work. It’s a great way to collaborate across teams and share files instead of email.16. Is there an app or tool you use in to get things done or stay on track?I live and die by my Google Calendar. I would be nothing without it.17. What does work-life balance mean to you?I don’t think there is such a thing. Every day you choose something to prioritize, especially as a working mom. Sometimes I stay late to work or leave early to go to my daughter’s preschool. Every once in awhile I squeeze in something for myself. You’re always picking and choosing, and hopefully, it’s balancing out over the week or month.Related: In Defense of Work-Life Balance18. How do you prevent burnout?It goes back to exercise and being outdoors. In the winter that might be snowboarding or going on a trail run, or maybe surfing, being outside and getting away from technology. Those activities really energize me.19. When you’re faced with a creativity block, what’s your strategy to get innovating?Go outside. I think taking a walk and going out to look at some new scenery is the best way to reset.20. What are you learning now? Right now our business is growing very quickly, so I spend a good amount of time interviewing more senior people. The interview process is much longer for these hires, because it’s important to find the people with the right skill set, cultural fit and leadership skills. For me, it’s learning how to effectively handle those interviews. That’s something I’ve been focused on recently. January 6, 2017 Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. 10 min read Register Now »
Travelweek Group Thursday, February 21, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >> Share TORONTO — In its 20-year history, soft adventure specialist On The Go Tours has never had a North America office – until now.Opening this summer in Toronto, the brand new office will be headed by Mike Quinto, General Manager-North America, who’ll lead a six-member team that will work with travel agents to increase the U.K.-based company’s visibility in the North American market.Quinto, who spoke exclusively with Travelweek alongside Hollie Youlden, On The Go’s Marketing Manager, said that opening a Canadian office was pivotal to the company’s growth, particularly in light of the numbers coming out of Canada.“Canada is a stronger market for us than the U.S.,” he said, adding that reps have been in Canada for the past 10 years compared to just the past six months in the United States. “North Americans like to deal with North Americans. Plus, the new office will help with the challenge of working in different time zones. Now, we’ll be able to help North American agents in real time and answer their calls immediately.”So who is On The Go Tours? With the company expected to make its presence known even further in Canada, agents should know the following:They go all over the world. On The Go Tours has grown immensely since its inception 20 years ago. Starting with just Egypt tours, the company now offers 60 destinations around the world. Egypt remains its top-selling destination, but watch out for emerging hotspots like Sri Lanka and returning favourites like Turkey, which Youlden says is “coming back in a big way.”More news: Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesThey know how to do soft adventure. Its guided small-group tours take travellers to some of the world’s most remote places, and include such high-thrill activities like camel trekking in Morocco, bike riding in Cambodia, and felucca sailing down the Nile.Camel trekking in MoroccoIt has five product ranges.Signature Range: ‘Exciting days and comfortable nights’ featuring 3- to 4-star accommodation, English-speaking local guides (in Egypt, groups are led by highly-trained Egyptologists), and a maximum group size of 24Budget Range: Similar to Signature but with less inclusions and a lower price pointHandpicked Range: While its Signature tours are all operated by On The Go, Handpicked tours work with local operators as a nod to sustainable tourismActive: Off-the-beaten track tours that include walking, trekking or cyclingIndependent: FIT private itineraries for clients who want all the details taken care of but do not want to travel in a groupTheir target demographic may surprise you.Despite its reputation for being a soft adventure specialist, On The Go sells mostly to an older clientele. Its core demographic for its most popular product range (Signature) is 35-50 year olds, and even older among North Americans (45-60).They can customize.Knowing that more seasoned travellers don’t necessarily want to ‘rough it’ all the time, Quinto noted that on most tours, upgrades are available to enhance comfort. For example, while on one of the Vietnam itineraries, clients can forego an overnight sleeper train and upgrade to a flight for an additional $300, while on the best-selling King Ramses tour in Egypt, a two-night felucca sailing can be upgraded to a four-star river cruise up the Nile for an extra $450.Abu Simbel TempleThey just launched tours to the Baltics.More news: Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTIn response to a growing demand for ‘off-the-beaten-track’ destinations, the company has launched four new tours to Latvia, Estonia, Poland and Lithuania, with departure dates running from March 2019 through to September. These include the eight-day ‘Highlights of the Baltics’, which visits Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn; the eight-day ‘Baltic Capitals Explorer’, which takes in the highlights of the Baltic capitals plus the seaside town of Klaipeda; the 10-day ‘Best of the Baltics’, which includes Lahemaa National Park and Rundale Palace; and the 12-day ‘Poland and Baltic Discover’, which visits Krakow, Warsaw and more.They can’t wait to work with Canadian agents.According to Quinto, agents can expect a North American ‘blitz’ this year that includes a grand opening party in Toronto this summer. Knowing full well how important front-line agents are to the business, Quinto is also reminding them of On The Go’s ‘Sell 4, Go For Free’ program, which runs until March 31, 2019. When agents sell four tours, they’ll earn a free tour to one of the company’s six top destinations: Egypt, Jordan, China, Turkey, Sri Lanka and India.For more information go to onthegotours.com. Posted by Tags: On The Go Tours, Openings & Renovations On The Go Tours to open Toronto office, here’s what you need to know