&Beyond has been listed as the world’s 5th Top Safari Operator in the US Travel + Leisure 2012 World’s Best Awards readers’ survey. As one of Africa and South Asia’s leading experiential travel companies, &Beyond is renowned for designing luxury safaris and personalised travel adventures whilst remaining committed to its core ethic of “Care of the Land. Care of the Wildlife. Care of the People.” “With over 30 years’ experience in tour operating, we are honoured to be recognised by Travel + Leisure and its readers in this prestigious listing”, says Joss Kent, &Beyond CEO. “We have ambitious plans to take our guest experience at our lodges and safari adventures to even greater heights and to achieve our focused mission of being the finest luxury experiential travel company in Africa and South Asia.” In addition to the above accolade, &Beyond Kichwa Tembo and &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge were voted among the Top 100 Hotels overall and the Top 20 Hotels in Africa and the Middle East. Kichwa Tembo was also listed 27th in the Top 50 Hotels and Ngorongoro Crater Lodge received ‘Hall of Fame’ recognition for being listed in the awards every year for the past decade. &Beyond’s travel business and portfolio of luxurious safari lodges are deeply committed to the company’s founding principles of creating extraordinary guest experiences in order to achieve ongoing conservation development and community empowerment. Together with its community development partner, Africa Foundation, &Beyond has built up a highly successful track record in empowering and enriching the lives of communities living in and around its conservation areas. Africa Foundation completes &Beyond’s model of integrating conservation, high-end tourism and communities to their mutual benefit. As more and more guests are interested in getting involved with the positive legacy that high-end travel can leave, &Beyond’s sustainability and conservation ethic has never been more relevant and compelling. It is for this reason that &Beyond’s guests and the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine choose to travel with &Beyond, and in this way assist the company to make numerous small but meaningful differences to conserve Africa and South Asia’s natural heritage, and most importantly, its people. Source = &Beyond
02Jun Rep. Garcia: DPS reform package puts students first Categories: Garcia News,News A bicameral financial and educational reform package for Detroit Public Schools (DPS) was approved by the state House today, including two bills sponsored by Rep. Daniela R. Garcia.“This legislation is putting students first,” said Rep. Garcia, R-Holland. “Not just the 110,000 children calling Detroit home, but for all of Michigan’s students. We needed to ensure all DPS students’ education continues beyond the current school year, while not affecting children in the other 900 school districts across Michigan.”House Bill 5384 facilitates the structural foundations for a new Community Schools district while enacting educational reforms which will help improve academic outcomes for our students in Detroit.House Bill 5387 would allow for the State Superintendent, Attorney General, and most importantly parents to initiate proceedings in response to an illegal school strike.“The time has come not only to guarantee education, but to reform it in Detroit,” said Rep. Garcia, vice-chair of the House Committee on Education. “Financial mismanagement and corruption have broken the education system in Detroit, leaving the lowest performing urban district in this country. None of that is acceptable and this package of bills addresses that.”“There are no more excuses,” said Rep. Garcia. “Our students deserve better.”
17May Rep. VanderWall bill extends agricultural disaster loan program Categories: VanderWall News State Rep. Curt VanderWall (right) and Phil Korson, executive director of the Cherry Marketing Institute, speak before the House Agriculture Committee in support of legislation to extend the agricultural disaster loan program.State Rep. Curt VanderWall today was joined by Phil Korson, executive director of the Cherry Marketing Institute, to speak before the House Agriculture Committee in support of legislation to extend the agricultural disaster loan program.The low-interest loan program, which when funded provides the structure for financial institutions to offer assistance to farmers and agricultural producers to help alleviate the financial impact of crop damage caused by natural disasters, is currently set to end in February 2018.“In 2012, we had a big warm spell in March and April that caused tree fruit crops across the state to bud early. It was followed by a harsh cold spell at the end of April, which caused devastation to cherry, apple, peach, berry and asparagus crops across western and northern Michigan,” said VanderWall, of Ludington. “In many instances the crops were not insured and some farmers lost everything for the season. Following the damage, the state created the disaster loan program to help those farmers get through the year until the next growing season when they have the next chance to sell their crops.”VanderWall’s bill removes the program’s expiration date and keeps the structure of the program in law. Should another crop disaster be declared, the Legislature would then need to allocate funds for the program.“It’s doesn’t make sense for this program to end when it could be used again in the future,” VanderWall said. “This year may be a perfect example of why we need to keep this program, as parts of the state just went through a freeze about 10 days ago that may have damaged many of the blooms on our tree crops. We will know more in a couple weeks.”If another crop disaster is called by the governor, the Legislature would then need to allocate funds before farmers could receive loans from the program.Committee action on House Bill 4562 is expected later this month. It would then move to the full House for consideration.###
07Jun House approves Rep. Hornberger’s ‘right to carry’ legislation Categories: Hornberger News The Michigan House of Representatives today approved legislation introduced by state Rep. Pamela Hornberger to give law-abiding citizens back their fundamental right to bear arms without a government-issued permit.Hornberger’s legislation, House Bill 4417, is part of a four-bill package that removes the penalties for carrying a concealed handgun without first obtaining a concealed pistol license.“This is a common-sense reform that eliminates government over-reach to give honest, law-abiding people the freedom to exercise their right to carry a firearm for their personal protection without undue burdens,” said Hornberger, of Chesterfield Township. “If someone can currently openly carry a pistol without a permit, there’s no reason for that same person not to be allowed to carry concealed.”Under the plan, the current CPL permitting structure will remain in place to allow Michigan residents an option to obtain a CPL to continue to carry and receive reciprocity in states that recognize Michigan’s permit. A CPL will also continue to allow people to carry openly in certain restricted zones.Hornberger said the legislation does not give criminals more access to firearms because a background check would still be required when purchasing a handgun.“Our legislation won’t change who is eligible to purchase a pistol, it simply gives people who are already legally allowed to purchase guns the freedom to carry their guns in the manner they are most comfortable,” Hornberger said.House Bills 4416-19 now move to the Senate for consideration.###
Proposal saves tax dollars, improves transparencyState Rep. Jeff Yaroch has introduced legislation calling for a single-chamber legislature, which will save taxpayers an estimated $50 million dollars annually, increase transparency, and improve legislative dialogue, leading to better legislation.Yaroch, of Richmond, introduced House Joint Resolution R, which proposes putting the concept of a unicameral, or single-chamber, legislature before the voters. The resolution will require two-thirds approval from both the House and Senate to be placed on the ballot.A single-house legislature is not a new concept. Under the Articles of Confederation, the federal legislative body was unicameral and only became a bicameral, or two-house, legislature in the Constitution as a way to balance power between the big states and little states. It was not for checks and balances. The state of Nebraska changed from a bicameral to a unicameral legislature in 1937 in response to the Great Depression.“In 1835, when our state’s constitution was written, it would seem that there was no debate about the reasoning behind having two chambers in our state legislature. It seems that the founders of our state were focused more on other issues in our state’s constitution and simply followed the federal model out of expediency rather than debating the necessity of a two-chamber legislature,” Yaroch said. “But I think it’s time for that debate. If there is a sound policy reason for having two chambers, I have yet to hear it.”“Unlike the part-time legislature proposal, which only suggests saving ‘millions’ of taxpayer dollars, this resolution would actually cut $50 million dollars out of the state budget, and that’s a conservative estimate,” Yaroch said. “I think these tax dollars could be better spent on roads, schools and for local services like police, fire and mental health services. Alternatively, it could help with providing a tax cut. We would only have to pay for one set of legislators, legislative staffs, offices, analysts – it would reduce the current redundancy we have in government operations, which is not bringing better legislation.”The concept would also result in a more accountable government, Yaroch said, as it would be easier for our citizens to follow legislative activity if it was all in one chamber.“After serving seventeen years in local government and being told we had to do more with less, it is time for Lansing to lead by example, and do the same,” Yaroch said.The resolution has been referred to the Government Operations Committee. Categories: Yaroch News 27Jun Rep. Yaroch’s resolution calls for Real Reform: A single-chamber legislature
Categories: Griffin News 27Mar Rep. Griffin issues statement on new PFAS commission State Rep. Beth Griffin, of Mattawan, issued the following statement in response to the governor’s creation of a new panel to study the water advisory limit for PFAS: “From the day Michigan started testing for PFAS, we’ve used the Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water limit as our environmental cleanup standard to ensure no polluted site went undetected. Since then, we have worked to detect, contain and respond to PFAS contamination around the state. It is this kind of decision-making that allowed us to identify the emerging contaminant in Parchment and the surrounding area and enabled us to communicate with residents and local officials to take action. But our work is not done. This record of proactive progress must continue. “Governor Whitmer today took an important step to continue our state’s progress toward better protecting the health of all Michigan families. Over the last 15 months, careful scientific investigation, research and management of PFAS has made Michigan a national leader in protecting the health and safety of its residents from this contaminant. We’ve set the standard for action, and by creating this science advisory workgroup we can set a science-based standard for PFAS drinking water safety that Michigan families can trust. “It is important we not only set science-based standards, but also find ways to clean up PFAS when it is detected. Detection, as we know, is just the beginning. I encourage the governor’s committee to focus their efforts on long-term solutions, in addition to detection. This will improve our existing efforts to protect Michiganders health— which is and must continue to be a top priority.”
Share1TweetShareEmail1 Shares Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.comOctober 27, 2014; Baltimore SunNonprofit advocates have been laser-focused on preventing bank and mortgage company foreclosures, but homeowners can lose their homes to municipal government authorities due to unpaid taxes just as easily. The Baltimore-based Abell Foundation recently issued a report revealing that Baltimore homeowners can lose their homes for as little as $250 in unpaid property taxes. In contrast, in Washington, D.C., only 40 miles away, the threshold for triggering a tax lien sale is $2,500.Referencing the way the city’s tax lien sales frequently affect elderly homeowners, City Council member Mary Pat Clarke has proposed raising the threshold to $750. It isn’t clear how much of a benefit that increased threshold would be, other than exempting homeowners with lower tax debts. The tax lien sale essentially allows Baltimore to recruit third-party entities to chase down property owners for their back taxes, charge interest of 18 percent, and go to court to take the properties in question if the owners don’t pay. If they do pay, they are hit with not only the amount of taxes owed, but interest, court costs, and legal fees as well.The current mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, appears to support the lower threshold, indicating that it is, as written by the Sun’s Yvonne Wenger, “constructive by forcing homeowners to address the debt before it grows larger,” a statement that sounds a bit like those of defenders of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s shutoff policy. Rawlings-Blake indicated that the city offers help for low-income and elderly homeowners and offers help for them to save up to pay for future tax bills.The comparison to Detroit is not out of bounds. The Abell report also noted that Baltimore can trigger a tax sale of a property that may be current in property taxes but has an outstanding water bill of $350 that is at least nine months delinquent. Wenger notes that unpaid water bills cannot force a tax sale in Washington or New York. In a way, Baltimore’s policy of potentially putting a home up for tax sale due to unpaid water bills is even more draconian than Detroit’s shutoff policy, though both leave lower-income residents in exceptionally difficult and dangerous straits.Like Detroit, Baltimore is a predominantly black major city, with 63.3 percent of the population counted as black or African-American as of 2013. Almost one-fourth of Baltimoreans live below the federal poverty level. The Abell report—The Steep Price of Paying to Stay: Baltimore City’s Tax Sale, the Risks to Vulnerable Homeowners, and Strategies to Improve the Process, written by Joan Jacobson—acknowledges that most of the victims of this tax foreclosure process are black homeowners living below the federal poverty level. Many qualify for subsidized or free legal aid.A number of Baltimore groups have been working to stabilize the environment for lower-income homeowners tying to stave off foreclosures from banks and the city, while other community-based nonprofits have been trying to find ways of overcoming with the low threshold for tax sales and the inclusion of some water delinquencies as a tax sale trigger. Among the more notable nonprofits active in this arena have been the Pro Bono Resource Center, the Maryland Volunteer Legal Services, Belair-Edison Housing Services, and Neighborhood Housing Services. In the end, it will be nonprofit activists like these organizations and others who will have to assume the lion’s share of the work fixing the situation for troubled homeowners and advocating for policy changes that will protect future homeowners to get into trouble with their tax bills.—Rick CohenShare1TweetShareEmail1 Shares
Turner Broadcast System’s new pay TV channel Glitz will reportedly launch in Germany on May 8 on Kabel Deutschland’s cable platform.Glitz, which will focus on fashion, lifestyle and celebrity, will be available in standard and high-definition.Turner already operates four channels in Germany including kids nets Cartoon Network and Boomerang, movie channel TNT Film and TNT Serie.
Channel distributor Thema has struck deals to distribute luxury lifestyle channel Luxe.tv HD in Angola, Russia and Portugal.Luxe.TV HD is available on the Zap Premium extended basic tier of Angolan DTH service Zap, on the basic TV offer of Russia’s ER-Telecom and on the digital extended basic offer of Portuguese cable operator Cabovisão.Luxe.TV recently decided to expand its multilingual programming, already available in English and French, to Mandarin to target markets in East Asia and the Mandarin-speaking audience globally.
UK pay TV rivals BSkyB and BT seem set for a price war over their respective football offerings after failing to strike a mutual wholesale deal, according to press reports.According to the Telegraph, the two companies have not been able to agree on wholesale terms and a price war between the pair now looks likely. The paper cited BT sources as saying that while the company had been willing to share its content with Sky, the latter had declined to reciprocate on acceptable terms. BSkyB counter-claimed that BT was unwilling to share its own content.BT holds the rights to 38 English Premier League matches, while Sky holds the rights to 116 games. The telco has also secured rights to a number of international competitions as well as acquiring the former ESPN UK, which held FA Cup rights. BT’s matches will be available to Sky subscribers via satellite, but only for an additional fee.BT last week complained to regulator Ofcom over Sky’s refusal to air advertising for its two sports channels, which are expected to launch in July. BT said that Sky was showing “undue discrimination” by refusing to air the ads.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has said it will continue to maintain Greek public broadcaster ERT’s TV and radio services as a live stream via its website until it is able to resume full services to audiences in Greece.Despite the Greek Council of State ordering the government to restore the broadcaster’s signal earlier this week, ERT’s over-the-air signal remains blocked because the terrestrial transmitters are switched off. According to the EBU, the Greek government has yet to clarify whether it will comply with the court order to fully restore services.The EBU will continue to transmit the ERT signal via the Eurovision satellite network in the meantime.“This signal is used to facilitate the video and radio channel streaming that we set in place last Wednesday via the EBU website,” said Eurovision network director Graham Warren. “The signal is not really intended for direct-to-home reception. However a few domestic antennas will be capable of reception.”
Danish telco and cable operator TDC reported a year-on-year increase in TV revenues from its YouSee cable division, despite a sequential dip in TV average revenue per-user (ARPU). Announcing its third quarter results, TDC said that its domestic TV revenue was up 5.4% year-on-year to DKK1.028 billion (€138 million). TV revenues for the first nine months of the year were up 6.2% to DKK3.112 billion, compared to the same period last year.The firm attributed the nine-month increase to increased ARPU in both the TDC brand and YouSee following subscription fee increases at the beginning of 2013.However, compared to Q2, TV ARPU decreased by DKK6 “due to migration to smaller TV packages under the YouSee brand and the fact that Q2 included a one-off boost from a pay-per-view,” the firm said.Overall, in Q3, TDC’s revenue totalled DKK 6.069 billion, a decline of 4.4% compared to Q3 2012. Gross profit was down 3.3% to DKK4.448 billion.
David Butorac, OSN CEO, and Emad Morcos, SVP, Business Development & Digital, at the Go by OSN launch.Middle Eastern pay TV platform OSN has launched online TV service allowing its subscribers to watch content on connected devices.Go by OSN will cost the pay TV operator’s subs US$10 (€7.30) a month and allow them to tune into content carried on the OSN channels. The pay platform has programming deals with all of the US studios as well as other international partners including HBO and DreamWorks. It also has a wide range of content produced within the Middle East and North Africa region.OSN said the GO content line-up will include features from studios including Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Paramount and Sony. There will also be full ‘box sets’ of series including Revenge, Justified and Cougar Town available in English, dubbed, or subtitled in Arabic.The Go service works across PCs, Apple and Android devices and OSN said it will soon roll out on connected TVs and gaming platforms. It allows ‘dual-device screening’ whereby two different shows can be streamed at the same time on different devices. OSN is offering a free seven-day trial.OSN CEO David Butorac said: “With internet users across the region expected to reach over 400 million by 2015 and over 200 million people in the region currently below the age of 25, the potential for online TV streaming is tremendous. With ‘Go’, we are creating a new entertainment choice for those who traditionally have been depending on online video channels for content that is often illegitimate or low quality.”Emad Morcos, senior VP, business development and digital at OSN added: “There is no other service in the market that has multiple Hollywood studio deals which enables ‘Go’ to play host to the most critically-acclaimed and diversified Western and Arabic content.”
UK free-to-air satellite operator Freesat has launched a subscription video-on-demand offering for kids from Hopster, available via its Freetime connected TV platform. The pay service, created for Freetime by Hopster, will give access to a range of children’s content for £3.99 (€3.14) a month. As a promotional offering, Hopster is offering access to the SVoD service free-of-charge for a 30-day trial period.Hopster’s catalogue of programming includes Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, Super WHY!, Babar and Paddington Bear.Hopster launched last year with an app targeting kids aged two to six. The company is led by former Viacom International Media Networks Russia general manager Nick Walters.“We are thrilled that Freetime is the first TV platform to launch Hopster. This is our first dedicated children’s On Demand player and shows just how committed we are to giving families the programmes they love, ready to watch when they are. We already offer families a great range of children’s telly and introducing Hopster provides even more choice, from classics like Bob the Builder to the much loved Angelina Ballerina,” said Freesat managing director Emma Scott.“Our mission is to make screen time better for kids – and the TV is still the number one screen in many family homes. Freesat provides an amazing experience to its customers through Freetime, and we’re really excited about adding to its stellar line-up with the Hopster app. Freetime families can now access all the best shows on-demand in a completely safe, ad-free environment – with a juicy launch trial offer to boot,” said Hopster’s Walters.
Conan O’BrienUS talkshow host Conan O’Brien has passed the one billion views mark on YouTube with his official ‘Team Coco’ channel. The YouTube network ties in with the Conan show on Time Warner-owned US cable channel TBS, airing clips of this alongside with internet-exclusive music and comedy videos.The Team Coco YouTube channel has more than 2.2 million subscribers, while elsewhere on the social web Conan O’Brien has nearly 13.3 million Twitter followers, 2.6 million Facebook fans, 400,000 Tumbler followers and 100,000 Instagram followers.Conan airs on TBS Mondays to Thursdays at 11pm Eastern Time.
Canal+ España has posted a net loss of €207 million, triple the losses of €71.3 million recorded in 2013, thanks to a loss in subscribers and higher football costs. The company reported EBITDA of €23.6 million, down from €28 million. Cost-cutting measures elsewhere at the operator failed to offset these factors. Canal+ operating company DTS has cut 100 staff over the last year and reduced staff costs.The operator kept its revenues on an even keel thanks to the sale of content to other operators, offsetting a 4.2% fall in subscribers to about one and a half million.Canal+’s owners are currently awaiting approval for the sale of the company, with conditions, to Telefónica.
Telefónica has acquired big data specialist Synergic Partners, integrating the company in its business intelligence and big data department.Telefónica said that the Madrid and Barcelona-based company will continue to operate its portfolio of clients independently, managed by its founding partners.Created in 2007, Synergic Partners specializes in helping companies in particularly strategic areas such as digital transformation; improvement of client knowledge; financial governance; control and risk prevention and regulatory compliance.This partnership represents a great leap forward in our strategy of consolidation, growth and international expansion,” pointed out Carme Artigas and Jaume Agut, founding partners of Synergic Partners. “The experience and knowledge accumulated over the years, along with the capabilities resulting from being part of the Telefónica Group, constitute a solid base for us to focus on the purpose of turning Synergic Partners into the leading Spanish company in Big Data on an international level.”Eduardo Navarro, Commercial Digital Managing Director of Telefónica, said: “Advanced analysis and value extraction of Big Data extraction is one of Telefónica priorities. Synergic’s integration will allow us to enhance our analytical ability to anticipate the needs of our customers and offer them the personalized services being requested faster; and at the same time to capture important external business opportunities in this sector.”
Jay SamitSeaChange has announced the “termination of the employment” of its CEO Jay Samit, at the same time as it reported a US$22.1 million (€19.4 million) operating loss for its fiscal fourth quarter. The TV technology company made a simultaneous announcement accompanying its fiscal Q4 and full year 2016 results saying that chief operating officer Edward Terino would takeover the CEO role with immediate effect.In a statement, Terino said that SeaChange intends to “further increase operational efficiencies” in 2017, claiming it was “disappointed” in its fiscal 2016 performance.In Q4 the company reported revenue of US$27.2 million and a loss from operations of US$22.1 million – compared to revenue of US$31.3 million and a loss of US$5.3 million a year earlier.The company said that its Q4 results included charges of US$22.3 million, which it attributed partly to the loss from impairment of the assets of Timeline Labs – the real-time social media analysis firm that SeaChange bought at the end of 2014.It also said that charges came from severance and other restructuring costs, stock-based compensation, amortisation of intangible assets from prior acquisitions, and other non-operating professional fees.For full year 2016, SeaChange made an operating loss of $48.2 million, from revenues of US$107.0 million“As previously disclosed, we have implemented cost-saving actions with respect to restructuring our Timeline operations and the termination of our prior CEO, Jay Samit, which will enable us to achieve annualised cost savings of approximately US$7 million,” said SeaChange chief financial officer Anthony Dias.Terino, who became SeaChange’s COO in June 2015, said that this year the company aims to deliver “new software product innovations that capitalise on our core competencies in video delivery, content management and monetisation.”SeaChange will focus on using its R&D investments to become “more efficient” with spending, will introduce new cloud-based software products, and will invest in sales and marketing, he said.“We believe that these actions will enable SeaChange to return to revenue growth and profitability on a full year basis in fiscal 2017.”Overall, Dias said that SeaChange’s Q1 “tends to be down cyclically” and said the company expects its Q1 fiscal 2017 revenue to be in the range of US$20 million to US$22 million and its non-GAAP operating loss to be in the range of US$0.18 to US$0.24 per basic share.“For full fiscal 2017, we anticipate revenues to be in the range of $110 million to $120 million and non-GAAP operating income to be in the range of $0.05 to $0.15 per fully diluted share,” said Dias.Samit leaves SeaChange after less than two years in the CEO role, having joined the firm in October 2014.
Dominique DelportVivendi Content chairman Dominique Delport is to deliver a keynote at the forthcoming IBC in Amsterdam on September 8.Delport, who is also global managing director of Havas Media Group, will address the need for European content providers to develop local content and take on Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.Deplort, a supervisory board member at Vivendi, took on the role of head of Vivendi Content last year. The unit has been tasked with creating and investing in new video and music contentSpeaking at MIPTV earlier this year, Delport warned that Europe is lagging the US and Asia in terms of next-generation distribution platforms for content and risks losing out in terms of relevance and diversity. Delport called for the backing of European content companies and platforms.
French broadcaster TF1 has teamed up with investment outfit RAISE Ventures to launch a new ‘media for equity’ investment initiative to support media startups.A new company, RAISE M4E will aim to help accelerate the growth of startups by offering free publicity via TF1’s media supports. According to TF1, media-for-equity is an “alternative investment model” aimed at raising the visibility of ear4ly-stage media outfits in exchange for capital. TF1 will organise televised and digital media campaigns in exchange for a participation worth between €1 million and €5 million.RAISE, an investment group co-founded by former Idinvest Partners investment director Pierre-Edouard Berion and Matthieu Dordolo, founder of digital strategy outfit Rock8, has hired former 5M Ventures business chief Angélique Elizé to head up the initiative.RAISE M4E will make its first investment in the next few months, with several startups to be supported each year.