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Amazon Confirms Plans For Air Cargo Network In Wilmington

Inc to Boost its Own Delivery Efforts The e-commerce giant has partnered with Air Transport to lease 20 Boeing 767 freighter aircraft

Confirming what local leaders had long suspected, Air Transport Services Group, Inc. said Wednesday it had reached agreements with Amazon Fulfillment Services Inc., an affiliate of Amazon.com Inc., to operate an air cargo network out of the Wilmington Air Park to serve Amazon customers in the United States.

ATSG’s Cargo Aircraft Management subsidiary will lease the 767s, which will be flown by the company’s subsidiary airlines-ABX Air, a Part 121 cargo airline, and charter carrier Air Transport International. The agreement sent shares of ATSG soaring 17% in trading Wednesday.

The duration of the 20 leases will be five to seven years; the agreement covering the operation of the aircraft will be for five years. “At our scale, supporting growth requires adding some of our own logistics capabilities”, said spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman.

While Amazon presently depends on UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, and FedEx to fulfill orders, this latest move will allow the online retailer to really take matters into its own hands. The air transport company revealed that it has been using five aircraft as a pilot program with Amazon.

Many analysts see the deal as a move that will enable Amazon to assume greater control over its business and shipping costs. At the same time, Amazon has sometimes struggled to deliver packages on time during surges in sales, especially around the holidays.

In a related move, Amazon is to open two fulfillment centers near Manchester and Birmingham airports in the United Kingdom employing a total of 1,500 people.

A Wall Street Journal report explained that while it would likely take years for Amazon to establish its own delivery network, Amazon is a “major customer for both UPS and FedEx, helping drive volume growth at the delivery giants”. Head of French company La Poste said in a local newspaper last month: “Amazon is our biggest customer”. These cargo planes are quite efficient and are created to ensure smoother cargo handling while at the same time ensuring optimum load-hauling to bring down delivery cost. It is quite clear Amazon intends to significantly cut down the expenses involved in delivering the products it sells, and operating its own air delivery fleet is the fastest and cheapest way. Shipping costs is among one of the fastest growing expenses for the company, totaling about 12.5% of fourth quarter sales, compared to 10.9% a year ago

Prince George & Princess Charlotte Look Beyond Adorable During First Snowy Vacation

Prince William and Kate Middleton have released six intimate photographs of their first vacation in the French Alps as a family of four.

Charlotte is seen smiling broadly as she is held up by her father, with a wintry backdrop to the image.

Now a mental health campaigner, Benjamin has praised William and Kate for the efforts they are making in addressing the issue, and joined Neil to meet the royal couple and share their own experiences.

It was the first time the children ever had played in the snow, a spokeswoman from Kensington Palace said.

William and Kate have a well-known competitive streak and the Duchess was determined to win the snowball fight with the Duke.

It comes after Prince William has been accused by some newspapers of shirking royal engagements, with the Sun demanding: “Where’s Willy?” They look so in love.

The Belgian and Dutch royals have each participated in playful photocells during their recent winter getaways, and may have inadvertently inspired the Duke and Duchess to follow suit.

Beside family photos, William and Kate were photographed frolicking in the snow.

“The Duke and Duchess continue to receive warm messages about Princess Charlotte from all over the world and they hope that everyone enjoys these lovely photos as much as they do”, the palace said in a statement.

In this undated photo released Sunday Nov. 29, 2015, by Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, showing Princess Charlotte with her cuddly toy dog, at Anmer Hall in Sandringham, England.

Both William and Kate have enjoyed skiing since they were children and want George and Charlotte to be good at the sport too.

At 10 months old, Princess Charlotte wore a pink beanie and snow jacket, while George was not hard to miss in his bright red beanie topped with a pom.

And let’s face it – those cute photos of the family of four throwing snowballs were definitely worth the bad press.

Insurgent shelling of Aleppo kills 13 civilians

At least 13 civilians died and 40 were wounded in artillery shelling by terrorist groups at a northern residential district of Aleppo in northwestern Syria, a military source told RIA Novosti, according to Sputnik.

The al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and Islamist group Jund al-Aqsa and others took the village of al-Ais on Monday, in the first advance of the group this year but government forces quickly launched a counter assault and pushed them out, the Britain-based monitoring group said. At least nine civilians were killed in an attack in the Kurdish quarters of Aleppo on Sunday.

Substantive talks on the Syrian peace process in the Swiss city of Geneva are due to begin no later than March 14 a spokeswoman for UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura confirmed Tuesday.

He said preparatory meetings will be held ahead of “in-depth discussions separately” which each faction.

Insurgents have been shelling the area for days despite a shaky USA and Russian-brokered cease-fire.

HNC member Riad Nassan Agha said a final decision on attending the Geneva talks would depend on issues including the degree of compliance with the truce and progress towards easing humanitarian conditions.

A spokesman and close aide of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accused the YPG of providing targeting data that has allowed the Russian air force to bomb the rebels, a claim that is likely to further strain relations with the U.S., which has strongly backed the YPG, to Turkey’s consternation.

“All Syrian patriots should drop their ambitions selfish interests and unite under the only correct slogan of saving the country and the people of Syria” the participants of the meeting said. But key opposition backer Riyadh Saturday called for Assad to step down at the start of any transition.

On the sequence of events, Jubeir said: “There is a transitional body, power shifts from Assad to the transitional body, and then he goes”.

Hijab said the opposition would decide by the end of the week whether to attend the talks, which the United Nations aims to start this week.

At least 40 killed in Tunisian border clash with Islamist gunmen

The statement says 28 “terrorists” have been killed in the fighting, seven civilians and 10 members of Tunisia’s security forces.

In Paris, France’s foreign ministry identified the gunmen as “coming from Libyan territory”. But Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid directly accused Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

While the situation has calmed down, authorities said a curfew will be implemented in the city on Monday evening.

The IS also claimed responsibility for the June and November attacks.

Ben Gardane is a major border town near Libya, and has been accused of being a hub for arms smuggling by militants around the border.

Bodies of dead insurgents lay in the streets said residents.

“I see three corpses on the ground”, she said.

The AP quoted a witness who said the gunmen spoke of creating a caliphate and “liberating” the town.

Speaking from Tunis, Nicholas Noe, of MideastWire.com, said the latest attack is a “significant turn” for Tunisia and the regional security.

The militants – thought to have swarmed over from the Libyan side of the border – fought running battles with police and soldiers in the town of Ben Guerdan, not far from the tourist resort of Djerba.

Washington has said Chouchane was likely among the dozens of militants killed, and that the strike probably averted a mass shooting or similar attack in Tunisia.

Islamic State fighters are now estimated to number between 2,000 and 5,000 in several different cells across Libya.

“This is an unprecedented attack, planned and organized”.

The predawn firefight at Ben Guerdane, Tunisia, 18 miles from the border, killed 21 attackers, with six more captured.

Tunisian security forces killed at least 35 militants in a series of failed attacks on multiple border posts Monday morning.

Last week, Tunisian security forces killed five heavily-armed men in an hours-long gunfight after they crossed into the country from Libya with a larger group.

State Department spokesman John Kirby condemned the “cowardly attack” and offered fresh U.S. help to Tunis, while European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the attack “once more demonstrates the gravity of the threat faced by Tunisia“.

Monday’s attack came weeks after a US airstrike killed almost 40 people at an Islamic State training camp in the Libyan city of Sabratha, near the Tunisian border.

A medic said a 12-year-old boy was among the dead. The interior ministry said at least four of the five militants were Tunisians who had entered from Libya in a bid to carry out attacks in their homeland.

Turmoil followed in other countries such as Libya and Egypt that were also caught up in what was called the Arab Spring, while protests in Syria spiraled into a bloody civil war that still rages today.