This holiday season marks the last call for Crystal Cruises’ award-winning ships to Antarctica. Beginning in 2011, a proposed ban on the carriage of certain fuel oils on board will effectively prohibit the sailing of most passenger vessels in the Antarctic. Crystal Symphony’s December 20 Christmas/New Year cruise is the only time Crystal will be cruising the region in 2009 and 2010. The 19-day journey departs from Buenos Aires to Valparaíso with visits to several ports in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, including the breathtaking Chilean Fjords and Cape Horn.“There’s no more exciting destination to spend the holidays than Antarctica, among the snow and stunning wildlife,” says Bill Smith, senior vice president, sales and marketing. “Additionally, while Antarctica can offer a magical ‘white Christmas,’ it’s summer in South America, allowing guests to enjoy two beautiful seasons on the same itinerary.”Ashore, adventurous guests have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly to King George Island and walk on Antarctica, take a helicopter to a humpback whale sanctuary, enjoy a 4 x 4 expedition to a King penguin colony, and trek the mountains of Chile.Completing the Crystal Holiday experience, Crystal Symphony will boast more than $100,000 of exquisite seasonal décor. Handcrafted ornaments, elaborately decorated trees and larger-than-life toy soldiers are among the ship’s holiday furnishings.Extravagant holiday dinners, parties and entertainment are planned for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, culminating in a black tie gala on New Year’s Eve. Clergy will be on board to conduct services. Also during the holidays, Crystal’s junior activities staff will be on hand to coordinate daily programming for children of all ages. Cruise fares start at $8,995 per person, double occupancy.crystalcruises.com
Categories: Kahle News,News State Rep. Bronna Kahle today said that record funding for K-12 schools and road repairs are among the many ways Lenawee County residents will benefit from the first six months of the Michigan Legislature’s 2017-18 session.“I am pleased with the progress we’ve made to improve the lives of Michigan residents,” said Kahle, in her first term as a member of the state House. “We have invested in programs to help families – improving our schools, our roads and bridges, and lifting up the most vulnerable among us. And we have done so in a way that is fiscally responsible and responsive to taxpayers.”Kahle has personally been the main sponsor of several bills designed to improve the quality of life in Michigan while benefitting taxpayers.A look at some of the key initiatives supported by Kahle in the first six months, in accordance with an action plan adopted at the start of the 2017-18 session:Record funding for K-12 schools, signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder last week. The Legislature took steps to ensure more money goes directly into the classroom, where it does the most good.Record funding for road and bridge projects, addressing one of the primary concerns of Michigan residents across the state.Programs to support the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Kahle’s bill to expand “safe harbor” protections for victims of human trafficking was signed into law, as was her legislation to combat child abuse through female genital mutilation. The state budget also boosts vital resources for senior citizens, including Meals on Wheels and in-home service programs.More revenue sharing money to support local-level services in communities in Lenawee County and across Michigan.More money for skilled trades programs, helping match students and workers with the jobs that are in high demand in Michigan.Kahle also sponsored a measure that would speed up sales tax relief for Michigan residents buying new vehicles with the help of a trade-in. Legislation identical to Kahle’s has passed both the House and Senate and is awaiting Gov. Snyder’s consideration.“I will continue to fight to give Lenawee County families the tax relief they deserve,” Kahle said of her plans for the rest of the 2017-18 legislative session. “Michigan’s economy continues to rebound and things are looking up. We must continue that trend with smart policies that help taxpayers and job providers.” 20Jul Rep. Kahle: Making progress for Lenawee County and all of Michigan ####
Categories: LaFave News State Rep. Beau LaFave, of Iron Mountain, today introduced a bill in a bipartisan plan to fix Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.The legislation is based on findings of a workgroup consisting of industry experts and legislators. The plan will provide clarity, restore integrity and improve accountability within the agency and address the faults of the unemployment system.“It is obvious the current state of the unemployment system is flawed,” LaFave said. “Both sides of the aisle agreed something must be done to make sure reforms are made to fix the system.”The proposal will adjust interest owed by claimants in overpayment situations. There will be no interest if overpayment is due to agency error, and 1 percent interest accrued after one year if due to claimant error.“No one should be punished for a state agency’s failure,” LaFave said. “Our plan gives breathing room to those who have been overpaid due to the agency’s error by eliminating interest on payments.”The plan will address identity theft claims by creating a “watchdog” position to investigate fraud and make recommendations to improve the system. The legislation also will require claimants to submit more proof in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits and maintains the nation’s toughest penalties on fraud.The legislation also:Gives those accused of fraud access to an advocacy program;Allows the agency to reopen a fraud case within three years with good cause;Improves the process for determining the validity of an unemployment claim; andClarifies the eligibility for hardship waivers and the agency’s process for ruling on applications for a waiver. 19Oct LaFave part of bipartisan plan to improve the state’s unemployment system
Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Williams Township) hosted special guests for Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address at the Michigan Capitol.Glenn was joined by Auburn Mayor Lee Kilbourn, Essexville Mayor Scott Wittbrodt and Pinconning Mayor Jason Brazeau.“I have great respect for local government, and I am humbled to be joined by these three leaders,” Glenn said. “They are on the front lines of the effort to improve our communities and make our region a better place to work, live and raise a family.”Brazeau – born and raised in Pinconning – is in his first term as mayor. He owns Brazeau Construction and has served as a youth baseball coach for a decade.Kilbourn has been mayor of Auburn since 2011, and also served a stint as mayor in the 1980s. He is a past president of the Michigan Association of Mayors. He owns Tri City Furniture in Auburn.Wittbrodt grew up in the Essexville area and was elected mayor in 2016. Wittbrodt has been employed as a probation/parole agent with the Michigan Department of Corrections since 1996.Glenn is chair of the House Energy Policy Committee and Associate Speaker Pro Tempore. 23Jan Trio of local mayors join Rep. Glenn for annual State of the State address Categories: Glenn News,News
State Reps. Joe Bellino and Stephanie Chang today introduced bipartisan legislation to limit the sale and distribution of nitrous oxide containers, helping to combat the abuse of the dangerous gas especially among minors.“Addiction is not a joke and we’re seeing that sections of Michigan have nitrous oxide abuse increasing,” said Bellino, of Monroe. “Anything that will alter our minds, inhibit our coordination, cause liver and kidney damage, and even death from brain anoxia should not be available without significant restrictions.”Commonly called “whip-its”, the two-bill package seeks to limit distribution of containers carrying just nitrous oxide because it is returning as an inhalant of choice with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reporting over 12 million users in the United States.Chang is sponsor of the bill criminalizing the sale and distribution of the containers to anyone under the age of 18, working with Bellino’s legislation to allow collection of a civil fine up to $500.“Over the past few years, I have seen the rise in the abuse of ‘whip-its’ in southwest Detroit,” said Chang, of Detroit. “After talking with various law enforcement officials and residents in my district who are concerned about the rampant abuse and health impacts, we developed this legislation. My bill would prohibit the sale of ‘whip-its’ to minors. This is a common-sense solution to a growing problem all over our state.”Bellino, a recovering addict for over 30 years, agreed with the legislation’s necessity.“When you see any drug rebounding in popularity, you’ve got to act instead of letting it destroy more lives,” Bellino said. “Today kids might do ‘whip-its’, but tomorrow they can move on to a drug even more dangerous. We’ve got to block that path.”House Bills 5463 and 5464 were assigned to the House Regulatory Reform Committee.##### 30Jan Rep. Bellino bill seeks to limit nitrous oxide abuse Categories: Bellino News,News
Categories: Wentworth News 28Feb Rep. Wentworth: Michigan House approves critical civil asset forfeiture reforms Bipartisan plan protects due process rights of residentsState Reps. Jason Wentworth, right, and David LaGrand speak in support of their civil asset forfeiture reform plan on Feb. 19 before the House Judiciary Committee.A bipartisan solution to improve the civil asset forfeiture process and better protect the due process rights of all Michigan residents was overwhelmingly approved today by the Michigan House.Reps. Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) and David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids) sponsored the plan, which requires a criminal conviction before the government can take ownership of personal property through civil asset forfeiture.“Everyone deserves their day in court before their personal property is taken away for good,” Wentworth said. “This simple and reasonable solution will safeguard the due process rights of innocent people across Michigan while still allowing our law enforcement officers to do their jobs and protect public safety.”In 2017, Michigan law enforcement agencies reported confiscating $13.1 million in cash and property through civil asset forfeiture. In more than 200 cases, people who were later found not guilty were forced to forfeit their property, never to have it returned. Charges were never even filed in a staggering 736 cases.Under the plan approved today, officers will be able to seize property based on probable cause, but a criminal conviction would be required before law enforcement agencies can sell or use the property. This will ensure property can be returned to an individual if they are found not guilty in the criminal system.“It is vital that government respect the Constitutional right to due process and protect people from government seizure of private property,” LaGrand said. “I’ve been on both sides of litigation on asset forfeiture as an assistant prosecutor and a defense attorney. I’ve seen firsthand that many citizens facing asset forfeiture are confused and lack the resources to defend themselves. This bipartisan plan allows police to continue to go after large criminal organizations, while making sure innocent people have full access to justice.”The plan is laid out in House Bills 4001-02, which now move to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee for consideration.###
Share65Tweet7Share12Email84 Shares0124TL / Pistols DrawnJune 24, 2016; San Jose Mercury NewsSoaring real estate prices and rents in the San Francisco Bay Area, fed by the success of the region’s high-tech industry, continue to take their toll on the region’s nonprofits, as NPQ has reported in the past (two more recent examples may be found here and here).The San Jose Mercury News tells the tale by focusing on the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE) which was hit with a 30 percent rent increase last year after the building in which it rented office space was sold. “The affordability crisis and displacement that had affected so many of the low-wage workers that EBASE works with is now affecting the nonprofit itself,” said the Mercury News.Because of the big rent hike, EBASE moved to a small, temporary headquarters in Oakland’s Chinatown as it searches for permanent office space. But it won’t be easy, as rents across the Bay Area remain high. This group’s dilemma is becoming more and more common for nonprofits in the region. Many of them are being pushed out of their long-time homes as commercial properties change hands in the Bay Area’s red-hot real estate market. The paper reports that rent increases of 30 percent or more are not unusual, compounded by a lack of affordable options. The nonprofits in the area are finding it challenging to serve the people struggling with the same high costs of housing.Since most nonprofits rent, they are typically at the mercy of the real estate market. The tech-fueled boom in is exacerbating the problem. In the past, many Bay Area nonprofits found affordable space in underserved neighborhoods where weak demand kept rents reasonable. “But with a business sector that has exploded in recent years, commercial real estate—much like housing—has become more expensive across almost every neighborhood in every Bay Area city,” one anti-poverty executive told the paper.A recent survey of nearly 500 nonprofits operating in 846 locations across Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties found that over 80 percent worry about the expensive real estate market and their long-term finances. Most expect to move within the next five years to find more affordable housing.The Northern California Community Loan Fund said it is seeing affordability increasingly becoming a challenge in the East and South Bay. This funder operates San Francisco’s Nonprofit Displacement Mitigation Program, a public-private partnership that provides technical and financial assistance to nonprofits facing displacement and rent hikes.Local nonprofits, developers, and cities are considering the establishment of nonprofit “hubs” like the David Brower Center in Berkeley, host to a variety of resident environmental nonprofits that are able to save money and pool resources. Another approach comes from the Community Arts Stabilization Trust, a holding company that buys properties and rents them to nonprofits for up to 10 years to give the nonprofit tenants time to raise the money to purchase the buildings from the Trust at an affordable price.Bay Area nonprofits also face increasing pay scales for employees who likewise face the high cost of living in the area. This confronts many of them with the prospect of having to close up shop or cut back, which has a significant impact on the communities they serve. It’s a classic example of a region becoming a victim of its success.—Larry KaplanShare65Tweet7Share12Email84 Shares
Satellite equipment supplier Newtec has named former Eutelsat CEO Giuliano Berretta as an external member of its strategic committee.The committee advises the Newtec board of directors with company policy and strategy. Berretta is the third external member, with Brigitte Boone, formerly the CEO of the merchant banking division of Fortis Bank, and Martin de Prycker, the former CEO of Barco, joining in 2010 and 2009 respectively.Serge Van Herck, CEO and Chairman of Newtec, said: “We are extremely fortunate to have Giuliano joining us. He has exceptional industry experience and knowledge and is set to be a real source of strength for us. Many technologically ambitious plans are already underway and having Mr Berretta on board goes a long way towards ensuring our continued success.”
European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes has told European cable CEOs that the EC is opposed to draft legislation in the Netherlands that would force cable operators to open up their networks to third-party providers.The cable industry is opposed to two amendments to the Diutch implementation of the EU Telecom Directive and one amendment to the country’s media law that could see Dutch operators forced to give open access to networks. Cable industry body Cable Europe has questioned their compliance with the EU regulatory framework which holds that infrastructure should only be regulated in this way on the basis of a market analysis that has identified a dominant network.Kroes told a meeting of cable operators in Brussels that the EC will use its powers to oppose the amendments.
Mediaset and Sky Italia are to offer comprehensive Champions League and Europa League football coverage to their pay TV subscribers following a deal over the exchange of rights acquired separately from UEFA.Following the deal, both operators will be able to offer coverage of the matches of Italian teams in the two championships for the next two seasons.Mediaset will also be able to offer the best Italian Champions League match from Wednesday nights and the best Europa League match on Thursday via its free-to-air channel Italia 1.Sky Italia will provide coverage of both Champions League and Europa League matches in HD, with Champions League games shown exclusively on Sky in HD. The operator will also make Champions League games available on its Sky Go service, and in 3D on its TV service.
Netflix has snagged exclusive UK and Ireland rights to the third season of the The Killing in a deal that has helped the latest series of the Forbrydelsen remake to get made.The streaming service will make episodes of the upcoming third season available to its subs in the UK and Ireland within a week of their premiere on US cable network AMC.Netflix will also make the entire second season of the dark cop drama available from May.It inked a deal with Fox for the international rights and the acquisition helped get the new season of the show over the line after AMC, which transmits it in the US, initially indicated it would not order a third season.“Our agreement with Netflix played an extremely significant part in the studio’s strategy that enabled us to bring The Killing back for a third season,” said David Madden, president of Fox Television Studios. “We are delighted to be in business with Netflix to deliver Season three, as well as past seasons of The Killing to a broader audience worldwide.”At the same time, Netflix yesterday announced the Netflix Cloud Prize – a competition that will carry US$100,000 in prize money. This will challenge developers from around the world to improve features, usability, quality, reliability and security of cloud computing resources.Submissions open this week and will close on September 15. Winners will be announced a month later, with the prize money to be divided across 10 different categories.
Online video distribution specialist Rightster has struck a deal with international media group and digital publisher Future, whose properties include the TechRadar.com site, to distribute its video content to publisher partners.Future’s technology websites, including T3.com, Maclife.com, TechRadar.com and MaximumPC.com reach over 17 million visitors globally each month. Rightster will distribute unbranded clips from Future’s digital video portfolio, including how-to videos, gadget reviews, conferences and product reviews to its syndication partners, while Rightster’s media sales team will provide advertising sales support.Charlie Muirhead, founder and CEO, Rightster, said: “Rightster is delighted to be working with Future and this deal demonstrates increased traction in the online video space for content syndication deals globally. Rightster’s distribution and marketing services will provide Future with the opportunity to exploit new revenue streams by capitalising on the power and reach of online video.”
Liberty Global president and CEO Mike Fries will take part in the forthcoming ANGA COM TV Summit, which takes place in Cologne from June 4-6.Fries will take part in the TV Summit, which will focus on the topic “Networks and Content: Who pays the Bill?” alongside Karola Wille, chairwoman, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, Conrad Albert, managing board, ProSiebenSat.1 Media, Andreas Bereczky, director, production, ZDF, Adrian von Hammerstein, CEO, Kabel Deutschland, Dietmar Schickel, managing director, Tele Columbus, and Brian Sullivan, CEO, Sky Deutschland.
PBS America is to move to a new channel slot on the BSkyB platform in the UK.From next Wednesday, PBS America will move from the Entertainment to the Documentaries section of Sky’s EPG and its new home of channel slot 534.The move has been made possible thanks to a deal between PBS America and UKTV. Negotiated by PBS America general manager Richard Kingsbury and UKTV’s head of commercial development, Dan Fahy, this agreement will also see UKTV’s latest offering, Drama, move up Sky’s EPG from slot 291 to 166.Kingsbury said: “Over the last 12 months, we’ve doubled our share on both Sky and Virgin Media, but our absolute share on cable is disproportionately higher. The fact that we’re already in Virgin’s Factual section suggests that we’ll really benefit from a move into Documentaries on Sky. This exciting development enables us to instantly make PBS America more visible to factual viewers looking for our type of well-crafted, in-depth and engaging content.”
Video technology provider RGB Networks has formed a partnership with Conax, a global provider of solutions for securing multi-device and digital video content distribution. The joint offering – integrating Conditional Access Systems (CAS) and Digital Rights Management (DRM) from Conax within RGB’s TransAct Packager – allows pay TV operators to deliver services subscribers across any device, while guaranteeing that only paying viewers can access content, according to the pair.RGB’s TransAct Packager uses adaptive streaming technology to enable the segmentation of video and audio into chunks that are delivered to PCs, mobile devices and set-top boxes using HTTP. In addition, by using standard AES-128 encryption for HTTP Live Streaming or PlayReady for Smooth Streaming, the TransAct Packager can encrypt traffic and integrate key exchanges with digital rights management servers. Incorporating Conax CAS/DRM, the solution now serves to better protect pay TV content from unauthorised viewing by non-subscribers, according to the pair.“The demand for video and expectations of service are becoming greater each year. As video service providers continue to battle it out to win subscribers, they cannot afford to encounter a performance gap when it comes to content delivery, or tie themselves up in compliance issues,” said Simone Sassoli, vice-president of marketing and business development for RGB Networks. “The combination of our solution with Conax CAS/DRM provides operators with a best-of-breed solution that addresses both business needs and market evolution.”“We have several customers who have come to us for a solution that enabled them to deliver quality video content to customers without the risk of hijacking or disruption en route which has obvious negative impacts on business operations,” said Tom Jahr, executive vice president of products and partners at Conax. “The RGB Networks partnership with Conax now enables operators to reconcile these two issues so that they can continue to provide their own customers with the best viewing experience possible.”RGB Networks will exhibit at IBC on stand 4.B70 and Conax will exhibit on stand 1.D69
Fox International Channels’ pay and free TV businesses in Turkey are merging.Fox International Channels Turkey and Fox Turkey will now operate as a single business unit under FIC’s executive VP, southern Europe and Africa Adam Theiler.The change results in the departure of Pietro Vicari, who has run the Fox Turkey business for the past five years but will now move across to another 21st Century Fox-backed business, Sky Italia.A “structured operational integration process will occur in the next few months, lead by COO Cenk Soner, while Sebnem Askin will remain in control of programming at Fox TV.Vicari will become the Sky-owned Italian satcaster’s deputy CFO. “Pietro has steered Fox Turkey on a steady growth path, more than doubling the size of the business during his tenure,” said FIC president, Europe and Africa, Jan Koeppen. “I would like to thank him for his leadership and congratulate him on his new position at Sky.”Of the move to merge the pay and free businesses, Koeppen said: “By combining our pay TV business and our free-to-air channel in Turkey, we make them a more integral part 21st Century Fox, one of the world’s most dynamic media companies.“This operational integration creates a stronger partner for advertisers and platforms, a powerful creative destination for producers and an even more exciting place for our employees to work.”Theiler will continue to report to Koeppen, and all the changes are effective immediately.FIC operates channels such as National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Adventure, Foxlife, FX, and has rights to shows such as The Walking Dead; while Fox TV has operated separately as a free TV entity.
Kudelski-owned Conax has expanded its Conax Contego portfolio and will demo innovations including end-to-end forensic watermarking for UHD and secure Android TV.Conax will showcase services at IBC including its multi-DRM backend and quick-to-deploy solutions for OTT and TV Everywhere. It will also announce a new solution for IPTV.The Conax Contego unified security hub offers support for all major distribution technologies and formats including UHD/4K. It supports smart cards, cardless, IPTV and advanced multi-DRM functionality and OTT content services from a single unified back-end.Conax will demonstrate forensic watermarking, a secure hybrid STB based on Android TV, and Conax Contego’s multi-DRM security back-end.It will also demo the Conax GO Live solution for pay TV operators to stream live channels to iOS and Android devices and the Conax Xtend Multiscreen eceosystem for deployment of multiscreen services.Conax will be co-exhibiting with parent firm Kudelski’s sister companies, NAGRA, Kudelski Security and SmarDTV.Conax will exhibit at IBC on stand 1.C81
A deal with media services provider Globecast to provide expatriate-targeted services My Polish TV and Telefrance has taken French telco TV specialist Netgem’s content partnerships total for 2015 to 29, bringing the total number of partners the company has to over 50.The Globecast deal saw the launch of My Polish TV and Telefrance in the UK on the Netgem-supplied EE TV platform on November 26.Other Netgem partnership agreements include Mubi, Netflix, Youtube, Wuaki.TV, and Sky’s Now TV.One of Netgem’s most recent partnerships has been with online TV streaming solution Simplestream to provide the company’s TV Player Plus service that offers customers in the UK a wide range of TV and films across free and premium TV channels, including Eurosport, National Geographic and Cartoon Network.“The Triple/Quad-Play telecoms market is an incredibly competitive space, with a range of service providers competing hard to maintain revenue streams and gain new customers” said Sylvain Thevenot, managing director of Netgem TV PVX.“By signing agreements with leading content providers on our #TelcoTV platform, we are enabling telcos to save both in terms of cost and time-to-market as they deploy engaging TV services to their customers. Operators can then focus on delivering the best customer experience, rather than having to deal with the challenges of securing and maintaining content services and building out content management infrastructure.”
Adult content specialist Playboy Plus Europe has secured carriage for its Reality Kings TV channel with Polish cable operator Multimedia Poland.The channel will be accessible to subscribers with the operator’s FunKlub package, which includes Fight Club HD, Adult Channel, Brazzers TV Europe, Hustler TV, Blue Hustler and Private TV.Reality Kings TV is the fourth channel from Playboy Plus Europe to be carried by Multimedia Polska, following an extension to the pair’s existing agreement in July. The operator already carries Playboy TV, Brazzers TV Europe and Adult Channel.
Matthew PostgateThe BBC has chosen BT to provide its next-generation broadcast network, switching supplier from Vodafone-owned Atos.The BBC said that the new, IP-based network would enable it to add extra services and capacity easily for major events and at lower cost than the current network and would also make it easier for the BBC to launch data-heavy formats like UHD TV and 360° TV.The contract is worth £100 million (€130 million) over seven years, with an option for the BBC to extend this for a further three.The network will ink all BBC UK sites, including 21 broadcasting centres and local radio stations, as well as connecting to the main overseas bureaux and partners for playout of the BBC’s TV channels. It will carry all video, audio and data traffic, as well as fixed line telephony, ISDN and broadband services.The network will be operated by BT Media and Broadcast as part of the BBC’s Aurora Programme of re-sourcing core technology services as its current contract expires in April 2017.The BBC said that Vodafone would continue to have an important role in providing the BBC with a key data centre, telephony services and additional connectivity in London.“This is an important step towards building an internet-fit BBC and will allow us to provide more interactive and personalised content in the future. At a time when the BBC faces serious financial challenges, it will also save us tens of millions of pounds so we can focus more of our money on the programmes and services for licence fee payers,” said the BBC’s recently appointed CTO, Matthew Postgate.“We are delighted by the BBC’s decision to choose us as their next generation broadcast network partner. Both of our organisations have a vital part to play in making the best use of advanced technology to support and enable the ever-accelerating evolution of broadcast media,” said Mark Wilson-Dunn, global vice-president of BT Media and Broadcast.