Jean Lafitte

Jean Lafitte was a French pirate and privateer in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century. He and his older brother Pierre spelled their last name Laffite, but English-language documents of the time used "Lafitte"; this has become the common spelling including places named after him. Lafitte is believed to have been born either in Basque-France or the French colony of Saint-Domingue. By 1805, he operated a warehouse in New Orleans to help disperse the goods smuggled by his brother Pierre Lafitte; the United States government passed the Embargo Act of 1807, so the Lafittes moved their operations to an island in Barataria Bay, Louisiana. By 1810, their new port was successful. Lafitte warned the other Baratarians of a possible military attack on their base of operations, a United States naval force invaded in September 1814 and captured most of Lafitte's fleet. In return for a legal pardon for the smugglers and his comrades helped General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans from the British in the final battle of the War of 1812.

The Lafittes became spies for the Spanish during the Mexican War of Independence and moved to Galveston Island, where they developed a pirate colony they called Campeche. Lafitte continued attacking merchant ships as a pirate around Central American ports until he died circa 1823, trying to capture Spanish vessels. Speculation about his life and death continues among historians. A number of details about Jean Lafitte's early life remain obscure – they contradict each other. In the Journal de Jean Lafitte, which authenticity is contested, he claims to have been born in Bordeaux, France, in 1780 from Sephardic Jewish parents whose Conversos grandmother and mother fled Spain for France in 1765, after his maternal grandfather was put to death by the Inquisition for "Judaizing"; some sources say. He and his brother Pierre alternately claimed to have been born in Bayonne, while other documents of the time place his birthplace as St. Malo or Brest. Lafitte's biographer Jack C. Ramsay says, "this was a convenient time to be a native of France, a claim that provided protection from the enforcement of American law".

Other contemporary accounts claim that Lafitte was born in Orduña, Spain, or in Westchester, New York. Some sources speculate. In the late 18th century, adult children of the French planters in Saint-Domingue resettled along the Mississippi River in La Louisiane in its largest city of New Orleans. Families with the surname Lafitte have been found in Louisiana documents dating as early as 1765. According to Ramsay, his elder brother Pierre, his widowed mother migrated from Saint-Domingue to New Orleans in the 1780s. In 1784, his mother married Pedro Aubry – a New Orleans merchant – and kept Jean with her. Pierre was raised by extended family elsewhere in Louisiana. According to Ramsay, as a young man, Lafitte spent much time exploring the wetlands and bayou country south of New Orleans. In years, he was described as having "a more accurate knowledge of every inlet from the Gulf than any other man", his elder brother Pierre became a privateer. Lafitte helped his brother to sell or trade the captured merchandise.

By 1805 he was thought to be running a warehouse in New Orleans and a store on Royal Street. The biographer William C. Davis reports a different childhood for Lafitte. According to his book, Lafitte was born in or near Pauillac, the son of Pierre Lafitte and his second wife, Marguerite Desteil; the couple had six children, including at least three daughters. Jean Lafitte was born in 1782, although he was not baptized until 1786. Pierre Lafitte had one other child named Pierre, from his first marriage to Marie LaGrange, who died in childbirth; the boys were given a basic Catholic education. Acknowledging that details of Lafitte's first twenty years are sparse, Davis speculates that Lafitte spent much time at sea as a child aboard ships owned by his father, a known trader. Davis places Lafitte's brother Pierre in Saint-Domingue in the late 1790s and the early 19th century. Due to escalating violence from the Haitian Revolution, in early 1803 Pierre boarded a refugee ship for New Orleans. By 1806, several "Captain Lafitte"s operated in New Orleans.

Sources indicate that Lafitte was sharp and resourceful, but handsome and friendly, enjoying drinking and women. He was known to dress than most of his fellow privateers. Lafitte's native language was French, though the specific dialect is a matter of some debate, he was evidently able to speak English reasonably well and most had a working knowledge of Spanish. He was educated with his brother at a military academy on Saint Kitts. No samples of his writing survive, except his signature, his reading and writing abilities, remain unclear. During his life he acted as a soldier, diplomat and much more demonstrating natural gifts for leadership; the United States made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. In January 1808, the government began to enforce the Embargo Act of 1807, which barred American ships from docking at any foreign port and imposed an embargo on goods imported into the US; this was problematic for New Orleans merchants, who had relied on trade with Caribbean colonies of other nations. The Lafitte br

Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium

The Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium was a proposed open-air soccer facility in Vancouver, British Columbia that would have been funded and developed by the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The proposed location was north of Gastown on the central waterfront on what was a parking lot and the site of a helicopter landing pad; the proposed stadium would have housed women's clubs. The $70-million stadium would have had an initial capacity of 20,000, which would be expandable to 30,000 seats. In addition to Vancouver Whitecaps FC matches, the stadium was intended host international soccer matches, rugby union matches and tournaments and beach volleyball tournaments, open-air musical events and concerts such as the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; the stadium would have had close access to many modes of public transportation, including SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express, buses. Although Vancouver public support for the stadium was high, the proposal drew protests from several groups including the Gastown Neighbourhood Coalition.

Local architects Arthur Erickson and Bing Thom urged caution, saying that piecemeal development of some of Vancouver's last undeveloped waterfront should be avoided. They argued that the stadium would deny waterfront access and would negatively affect the historical theme of the Gastown area; the architects urged city hall to delay approval. Independent architecture firm Hotson Bakker, hired by the city of Vancouver, concluded that the stadium plans as proposed were unworkable, they reported that the development did not fit with the Gastown district and did not take future residential developments into account. They stressed the need for a comprehensive waterfront plan. On July 11, 2006, Vancouver's city council gave unanimous approval to continue the planning process, provided that certain critical problems were addressed. Specific issues included the lack of roads for spectator and emergency access, the stadium's location above railroad tracks; the project would be reviewed quarterly by city planners until the stadium's construction is approved.

On January 22, 2007, the Whitecaps filed a new proposal shifting the proposed site for the stadium project to the current location of the SeaBus terminal, a short distance northwest of the previous site. On February 1, 2007, Vancouver City Council unanimously endorsed a city staff report which identified a process to resolve the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium's five key requirements set out by City Council. In addition, the staff report outlined a procedure to integrate the stadium with the Waterfront Hub Study. In July 2007, the City of Vancouver noted that "The Whitecaps and the VPA are now considering an alternative siting which addresses the technical constraints facing the SeaBus terminal site; this would involve some of the VPA-owned land between the SeaBus terminal and Crab Park and would enable the SeaBus to remain in place. This area is anticipated for mixed use development by the Central Waterfront Port Lands Policy Statement and any proposal would need to be considered in that context."

They further added "The Whitecaps and VPA are investigating whether this site could meet their needs and aspirations. If the Whitecaps and VPA decide to pursue the development of the stadium in this location, they will need to develop a proposal and submit it to City staff for evaluation and consultation with the public and interested parties."Initial plans were targeting completion for Summer 2009, though this has been pushed back many times. On March 18, 2009 Major League Soccer announced an expansion franchise to the city to begin play in 2011; the team stated intentions to play at least the first season, up to five seasons, at BC Place Stadium. In 2011, Bob Lenarduzzi confirmed that the team was committed to BC Place, that plans for the Waterfront Stadium were put on hold. Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium official website Vancouver Whitecaps official site City of Vancouver - Central Waterfront Hub Study & Whitecaps Stadium Review

YTB International

YTB International, known as YTB Global Travel, Your Travel Biz or YTB, operates a multi-level marketing business through owner-affiliate websites offering travel and lodging. The company was founded in 2001 by Scott Tomer and Kim Sorensen; the company is owned by U. S. businessman Sam Hathi of Jamraval, Inc. Other YTB subsidiaries include Inc.. Zamzuu, Inc. and REZconnect Technologies, Inc. YTB is based in Illinois. International subsidiaries operate in the U. S. Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Canada. Between 2006 and 2009 the company was the subject of several lawsuits and investigations in California and Rhode Island, alleging the company to be a pyramid scheme and usage of deceptive marketing. Declining revenues following this led to the company's bankruptcy in 2013, after which it was purchased by Jamraval, Inc. and reorganized under the name YTB Global Travel. YTB reports having thousands of representatives in the United States, the Bahamas and Canada who have sold over $3 billion in travel in the company's first 10 years.

In 2012, YTB was listed as the 52nd largest travel agency in Travel Weekly's yearly "Power List". YTB Global Travel Inc has two separate companies that operate under the YTB Global Travel Inc. corporate umbrella: YTB Travel Network and YTB Marketing. Representatives can participate in both programs. In YTB Travel Network, representatives participate by purchasing an "online travel agency" website from which they can be paid a sales commission. After paying a set up fee and monthly maintenance-fee, representatives can sell travel-packages online to others, as well as utilize the website for their own travel purposes. In YTB Marketing, representatives market YTB's representative programs to others. YTB does not charge a fee to participate in the marketing arm of YTB Global Travel. YTB pays a commission or referral fee and tiered compensation to those who participate in the Rep marketing program. J. Lloyd "Coach" Tomer, his son Scott Tomer, Kim Sorensen launched YTB in 2001 in Alton, Illinois. Growth was slow until 2004, when YTB's creators bought controlling interest in a related company, REZconnect Technologies, increased their marketing budget, aggressively recruited new members with videos of successful salespeople.

By years end, the company employed 23 employees with total travel sales reaching $20 million. In 2007, Royal Caribbean stopped doing business with YTB, describing the company as a "card mill". In 2008 the company was sued by California Attorney General Jerry Brown. An out-of-court settlement required changes to the company's business model, generated a decrease in membership attributed to bad publicity. In late 2008, YTB laid off 17 employees, a move, part of a reorganization. In 2008 the company's revenues were $44.8 million. YTB said its independent audit at the end of 2008 expressed "substantial doubt about our company's ability to continue as a going concern", a sentiment the company itself echoed. In 2009 the company was operating at a loss of $1.9 million for the first three months of the year. Revenue in that quarter dropped 49% to $21.8 million and to $18 million in the second quarter. The company's paying members declined in number, from a high in April 2008 of 138,000 to 60,414 in mid-2009.

The decline in revenue led the company to sell several commercial properties it owned in 2009, including the company's Learjet. That year YTB sold RezConnect, by its technology and booking arm, to two of RezConnect's officers. Under the terms of the sale, YTB would indemnify the new owners for any YTB-related liabilities. In 2011 the company sold its headquarters building and adjoining property for $7.6 million. In October 2011, a newly formed company, Sixth Scott LLC began purchasing YTB Travel Network from YTB International; the company was relaunched as First Alliance Travel one year later. On February 1, 2012 founder J. Kim Sorenson died at the age of 62. In March 2012 the YTB announced a plan to merge with another MLM firm. In May the company began a major restructuring, stated that the President and CEO, Robert Van Patton, had submitted his resignation. In September YTB called off the merger, announced that founder and chairman Scott Tomer was resigning. On March 1, 2013 YTB International filed for Chapter 11 protection in federal court in St. Louis.

The last quarterly earnings report the company filed was for the third quarter of 2011, although the company announced that the report contained errors. On October 11, 2013 YTB completed the sale of its assets to a Chicago-based businessman Sam Hathi of Jamraval, Inc. "We believe the YTB franchise can be turned around and that it can regain the leadership position that it once held in the travel services industry," said Hathi in a statement. YTB has operated as YTB Global Travel since being acquired. In August 2008 California Attorney General Jerry Brown sued the company for $25 million, alleging it to be a pyramid scheme, among other claims; the Illinois Better Business Bureau and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined Brown in investigating the company. Brown's lawsuit indicates that 45,000 sales reps earned an average of about $90 in 2007 and of their 200,000 total agents, some 125,000 earned nothing and 37,000 earned less than $39. On May 14, 2009, California authorities settled their suit with YTB for $1 million.

As part of the settlement, YTB agreed to restructure hastening a transition to a franchise system. That same day, Madigan filed a similar suit in Illinois. Brown said the agreeme