Diplomats in Washington tout the emerging Pumas of the Pacific

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. – Move over, Asian tigers. It looks like the four so-called “Pacific Pumas” – Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru – have become the latest darlings of the investor crowd.Costa Rica is now in the process of joining the four as the newest and smallest member of the Pacific Alliance – a trade bloc boasting a combined population of 215 million and gross domestic product of $2.2 trillion. Together, the four countries already in the bloc represent 36 percent of Latin America’s total GDP and just over half of its foreign trade.In February, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla signed a declaration of intent to enter the Pacific Alliance, a process that could take up to a year. If Costa Rica is accepted, the other four member countries will sign a protocol of accession that must be ratified by their presidents.Experts say Costa Rica stands to benefit dramatically from joining the new club – and vice-versa.“Moisés Naim has called this the most important alliance you’ve never heard of,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Americas Society-Council of the Americas, quoting the prominent global thinker and syndicated columnist. “Direct concrete steps have already been accomplished, and the United States recognizes the importance of developing an economic relationship with the Pacific Pumas.”Farnsworth was one of eight speakers at a March 13 panel that analyzed why these four emerging markets are so appealing to foreign investors. The event, co-sponsored by AS-COA and the Bertelsmann Foundation, featured three ambassadors – Colombia’s Luís Carlos Villegas, Mexico’s Eduardo Medina Mora and Peru’s Harold W. Forsyth.“It will mean a tremendous added value when Costa Rica joins,” said Forsyth. “In digital technology, it’s probably the most advanced of all our countries, and its services sector has a lot to offer.”Recommended: Chinchilla defends road map to join Pacific Alliance as candidates reserve judgmentAlso on the panel: Mauricio Hurtado, chargé d’affaires at the Chilean Embassy; Annette Heuser, executive director of the Bertelsmann Foundation; Samuel George, the foundation’s project manager, and Antonio Estevadeordal, manager of integration and trade at the Inter-American Development Bank.“The puma is a powerful, fast, agile animal that’s efficient and resourceful. This New World cat can thrive in mountainous highlands and humid rain forests. We think it’s a fitting mascot for the emergence of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile,” George said in introducing his 52-page study, “The Pacific Pumas: An Emerging Model for Emerging Markets.”George said this new model contrasts sharply with Brazil’s disappointing growth, Argentina’s looming sovereign default and Venezuela’s worsening economic chaos, all of which have dominated regional news coverage in recent months.“Since the global financial crisis, areas of optimism have been few and fleeting. Whenever we hear about Latin America, it’s generally negative,” he said.“This study suggests that quietly, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru have taken big strides toward stabilizing their macroeconomic foundations, making major inroads against poverty. The Pacific Alliance has created quite a buzz in Washington. If there’s one thing we can take from this conversation today, it’s that the momentum of these four countries is about more than an incipient integration pact. We believe these four have made advancements that go far beyond the scope of the Pacific Alliance.”‘Pumanomics’At present, 30 nations have official observer status within the alliance, including 10 EU members.Coining a new buzzword, “pumanomics,” George said that despite overall turbulence in emerging markets worldwide, the four signatories to the alliance have enjoyed low inflation and strong growth.“In Mexico, we’ve seen their willingness to address long-term bottlenecks even at the expense of short-term growth,” he said. “In Colombia, we’re seeing important steps toward establishing a lasting peace. For midsize emerging markets like Peru or Chile, it’s imperative to find a niche in global trade. Even as the Doha Round has sputtered, these countries have created linkages the world over.”Significantly, all four have free-trade agreements with the United States, Canada and the 28-member European Union, while China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and India all have concluded FTAs with at least two of the Pumas. In addition, Mexico, Peru and Chile are actively participating in current talks for a Trans-Pacific Partnership.Since 2005, economic growth in the four countries (with the exception of 2009, a year of global economic chaos) has exceeded 5.5 percent. That compares favorably to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whose 10 member states averaged 4.8 percent growth over the same period.Recommended: Costa Rica moves forward with Pacific Alliance effortsThe four Pumas take the top four slots in the World Bank’s latest Ease of Doing Business in Latin America survey, and inflation has remained quite low, ranging from 1.7 percent in Chile to 3.6 percent in Mexico last year.“These countries are far from perfect. Violence, corruption, urban and rural poverty remain a fact of life for millions, and this study does not shy away from that. But thanks to good work and timing, these four countries have a golden opportunity,” George said. “It’s not about how many FTAs you have on paper, but how many jobs you can turn them into.”Meeting Feb. 10 in the Colombian port city of Cartagena, the four nations’ heads of state agreed to abolish 92 percent of tariffs on goods and services traded between them within a year. Tariffs on the remaining 8 percent – consisting of sensitive agricultural products like bananas, coffee and beans – will be phased out over a 17-year period.“We have moved forward,” declared Colombia’s Villegas, commenting on the puma designation. “I want to be around when we move to the whales and lions.”Animal mascots aside, Villegas says it’s hard to overestimate the weight of this alliance, which seeks to counter the protectionist policies of Latin America’s other leading trade bloc, Mercosur, which consists of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela, with Bolivia as an associate member.“This is the most important effort at Latin American integration in 100 years,” said Colombia’s envoy. “Fate brought together four heads of state who had the political will and internal muscle to make decisions that would open their economies in trade, investments and services. Now, for the first time, we’re trying to do business together in places like Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa – to have our trade officers work together and get investments for all four countries instead of just one.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Chinchilla defends road map to join Pacific Alliance as candidates reserve judgment Costa Rica signs agreement to become full member of the Pacific Alliance Costa Rica moves forward with Pacific Alliance efforts Mexico opens landmark debate on marijuana lawslast_img read more

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Salary increase for private sector set at 235 percent with a little

first_imgRelated posts:Private-sector employers offer 1.33 percent salary hike Pessimism prevails in Costa Rica’s business sector for 2015 Costa Rica’s food industry joins growing chorus of private-sector complaints Costa Rica’s upbeat economic projections may not be enough to lower unemployment rate The National Wages Council on Tuesday evening approved with six votes in favor and three against an increase of 2.35 percent for 1.2 million workers in the country’s private sector. The percentage increase will apply to salaries for the next six months.In addition to the 2.35 percent that will be applied starting this month, the council also approved an additional ₡5,000 ($9.25) per month for unskilled workers and those earning minimum wage, bringing the increase for the lowest-paid sector to 4.22 percent.Minimum wages in Costa Rica vary according to profession and are set by the Labor Ministry. (Download a table of minimum wages by trade for the first quarter 2014 here.)The six votes in favor came from government and union representatives while employers voted against it, issuing a counterproposal of 3 percent increase for all workers, which was immediately rejected.Shirley Saborío, a member of the Costa Rican Union of Private Sector Chambers and Associations, opposed the deal and said the increases “could generate more unemployment.”Union representatives said they are satisfied with the figure and the expeditious manner in which an agreement was reached with the government.“We must recognize that this administration succeeded in its first salary negotiations, and – at least this time – they passed a first major test in this area despite our initial doubts,” the National Association of Public and Private Employees said in a statement on Wednesday morning.The closed-door negotiations took place at the Labor Ministry in San José. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Its despair on all fronts says Ebola aid worker

first_imgRelated posts:UN confronts deadly Ebola epidemic Health officials in Costa Rica react to first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States Costa Rican health officials announce measures to prevent introduction of Ebola virus here El Salvador quarantines 2 nuns as Ebola precaution For Lance Plyler and the other health workers treating Ebola patients at the small missionary hospital in Liberia, exhaustion came in many forms.The physical demands of working under layer upon layer of protective gear, sweating profusely in the sweltering African heat. The mental challenge of staying alert to the risk of infection while caring for patients suffering bouts of vomiting, diarrhea and fever. The realization that no matter how hard the health workers tried, most patients would die.“It’s despair on all fronts,” said Plyler, a U.S. doctor who led the Liberian disaster response efforts for the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. “It wears on you after a while. … It breaks some people.”U.S. President Barack Obama plans to announce Tuesday that the United States will significantly ramp up its aid to Ebola-ravaged countries in West Africa, from sending supplies and setting up field hospitals to providing health-care personnel and training local medical staff. The commitment comes days after the World Health Organization issued a plea for more volunteers, saying at least 500 doctors and 1,000 more health-care workers are needed.But while the additional U.S. aid will come as good news for West African officials and aid organizations, it remains unclear how quickly it will make an impact on the ground. International relief groups that have shouldered the burden for months say their staffers are fatigued and fragile. Finding volunteers to relieve workers battling the epidemic has been a struggle.“We are so much at the breaking point,” said Joanne Liu, international director for the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders. “My people are telling me, ‘We don’t know how much longer we’re going to last.’ ”More than 240 medical staffers have gotten sick while fighting the outbreak, and about half of those have died. Yet the epidemic has spread rapidly in recent weeks. More than 2,400 people have been killed.Recommended: Costa Rica-based US relief workers join efforts in West Africa to combat Ebola Juah Mayson, 35, cries as she leaves an Ebola treatment facility on Saturday on Monrovia, Liberia, after learning that her father, who was dropped off there the previous day, was no longer there. She assumes he is dead. Washington Post photo by Michel du CilleDespite pledges of support in recent days, including $50 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Cuba’s commitment to send 165 health workers, the response remains disturbingly inadequate, humanitarian groups say. A serious need exists for more workers who can provide logistical and operational help, such as running isolation units, distributing medical supplies and conducting safety training, Liu and others said.In the meantime, relief workers care for swelling numbers of patients at overburdened treatment centers. Cleaning crews must disinfect corpses and sanitize isolation wards covered in blood, vomit and feces. Burial teams put themselves at risk while safely disposing of the bodies of victims. One of the most stressful jobs at a Doctors Without Borders Ebola-treatment camp in Monrovia is working the front gate, which often involves telling very sick people there is no room in the facility.Some African nationals working alongside international staffers face the additional burden of the skepticism that surrounds the disease, making them stigmatized in their own communities. A sick child that health workers call Cynthia waits for dead bodies to be removed from Redemption Hospital on Saturday in the New Kru Town neighborhood of Monrovia, Liberia. Washington Post photo by Michel du CilleAt the Monrovia treatment center, Western medical staffers have been working eight-to-12-hour days in the humid Liberian weather, with perhaps an afternoon off each week. Locals generally work three shifts before taking their fourth day off.“They’re working too hard,” Sylvia Wamser, an Austrian clinical psychologist who spent three weeks in Sierra Leone working for Doctors Without Borders, said of the clinic staffs. “[There are] feelings of helplessness and guilt. It’s a bit like Sisyphus; you try to do your best, but you know there’s so much work out there to do.”Wamser said she counseled weary workers in stress-management techniques. She taught them to mentally revisit better days, such as a visit to the beach. She encouraged them to listen to music, watch movies or go jogging.Most aid groups limit the number of days and hours that staffers can work without a break. They also try to rotate in new workers before employees are burned out. But that has proved more difficult during the Ebola outbreak than in past disasters.“Where are the volunteers?” said Ken Isaacs, a vice president at Samaritan’s Purse and a former director of foreign disaster assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development. “There aren’t so many people willing to go there because it’s so deadly.” Mohammed Conti, left, seen with customer Richard Gweh on Saturday in Monrovia, Liberia, has seen business at his tailoring shop drop dramatically since an Ebola treatment center opened around the corner. Washington Post photo by Michel du CilleJoe DiCarlo, vice president of programs at Medical Teams International, a Christian health organization that has operated in Liberia since 2004, said his group has a roster of more than 300 trained medical professionals that it calls on when disasters happen around the world. But when the group sought people to head to West Africa, some said no or simply did not respond.“There is hesitation from volunteers.,” DiCarlo said, adding: “But there are people who are willing to go.”Dan Kelly is one of them. When the infectious-disease expert decided to join the Ebola fight in Sierra Leone this summer, colleagues at the University of California at San Francisco seemed to think he was crazy. Alarming numbers of health-care workers in West Africa were getting sick and dying. Still, Kelly thought he would be followed by many like-minded doctors and scientists. He was wrong.“I’m still fighting an uphill battle to get anyone interested in going,” Kelly said, having returned from a three-week visit to Sierra Leone, where he taught modern infection control practices and checked in on a health-care nonprofit group, Wellbody Alliance, that he started in 2006.Signs point to additional help on the way — eventually. The U.S. government has promised a rapid increase in aid. Cuba’s health professionals are to arrive early next month. The World Health Organization is training hundreds of workers in the protocols needed to prevent Ebola transmission, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has scheduled its own training next month. USAID has put out a call for volunteers; so has UNICEF, the global children’s rights and emergency relief organization. Samaritan’s Purse and other aid groups that were forced to pull some workers out are planning their return, despite the risks.“It really is analogous to going to war,” said Plyler, the Samaritan’s Purse doctor. “This is literally a deployment where your life is on the line.”Meanwhile, health-care workers in the affected countries — particularly Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea — wait for relief.“You need more people so it’s not such an incredible burden on the people doing the work,” said Dan Lucey, an expert on global virus outbreaks at Georgetown University Medical Center who recently returned from three weeks in Sierra Leone. “There are far too few people to provide basic care.”Lucey, who plans to begin a six-week stint in Liberia this month, spent part of his time in Sierra Leone inside an isolation unit at Connaught Hospital, caring for patients waiting to learn if they had Ebola. He remembers the feeling when he showed up to discover only two other doctors caring for dozens of patients: “You get there, and you look around, and you say, ‘Where is everybody?’ ”Washington Post staffers Lena H. Sun and Todd Frankel in Washington and Lenny Bernstein in Monrovia, Liberia, contributed to this report.© 2014, The Washington Post Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Want a taste of the Dream Job

first_imgNetwork 10’s international travel series Places We Go is calling on the public to join them while filming on the road for a taste of living the ‘dream job’. Whether you’re an avid traveller, photographer, cameraman, wannabe travel reporter or just love an adventure, Places We Go is giving two lucky people the chance to get ‘Behind the Scenes’ and join them on location filming in Tasmania for their fifth series. The winner and a friend will fly to Tasmania and spend three days with the crew in and around Bicheno on Tasmania’s East Coast, then a further four days independently enjoying the Bay of Fires region. “After so many requests from our viewers asking if they can come and travel with us, we thought why not? It really is the dream job for us, so we thought it would be fun to let a couple of lucky winners join us and see what it’s really like to make a TV Travel show” says Places We Go Host and Founder Jennifer Adams.“The winners will spend a few days with us filming the amazing experiences on Tasmania’s beautiful East Coast. We will involve them in whatever we are doing and they might even end up on television!” The winners will participate in many of the same activities the crew will be filming, such as Bicheno’s famous glass-bottomed boat experience and a trip to one of Tassie’s renowned local wineries. The prize includes return flights, 7 nights incredible local accommodation, car hire, activities, a new Antler Cyberlite luggage set each, and they will also have the chance to test-drive the all new Subaru Outback which will be on location with the crew. To enter, visit facebook.com/placeswego or http://placeswego.com/behind-the-scenes-competition/ Source = Places We Golast_img read more

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SwissBelhotel International to triple its inventory of rooms in Bahra

first_imgGrand Swiss-Belresort Seef, Bahrain.Swiss-Belhotel International to triple its inventory of rooms in BahrainAs part of its strategic expansion across the GCC, Swiss-Belhotel International has unveiled two new hotels slated to open in Bahrain this year. With these new openings the group will triple its inventory of rooms in the Kingdom while ushering in two new brands into the country that is its luxurious 5-star brand ‘Grand Swiss-Belresort’ and midscale brand ‘Swiss-Belresidences’.Superbly located on the scenic water banks of the Seef district, overlooking the Arabian Gulf in close proximity to Bahrain’s major leisure and business attractions, Grand Swiss-Belresort Seef is a magnificent 5-star. Featuring 193 luxurious rooms and suites including four presidential suites, the hotel will welcome its first guest in August 2018. Included in its facilities is an all-day-dining restaurant, two specialty fine-dine restaurants, a Sky Bar, night clubs, a spectacular ballroom with a capacity to accommodate up to 300 guests, spa with five treatment rooms, health club and swimming pool.The second property, Swiss-Belresidences Juffair is gearing up for opening in the third quarter of 2018. Centrally located in Juffair – a popular hub for dining and shopping venues – it is an upper midscale hotel-apartment complex boasting 129 (1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments and penthouse) with beautiful facilities. These include an array of leisure and entertainment features for families ranging from a business lounge, superb spa and health club to an outdoor swimming pool, cinema, games room for all ages and playground.Mr. Gavin M. Faull, Chairman and President of Swiss-Belhotel International, said, “We are pleased to expand our footprint in Bahrain where we have enjoyed great success since the opening of our first property Swiss-Belhotel Seef. The new developments are in line with our multi-brand growth strategy and are testament to the confidence of owners in our brands. Swiss-Belhotel International, with a strong track record in delivering world-class hospitality with 14 award-winning brands, is well-poised to meet the rising demand for high quality accommodation in the market. We look forward to a long-term partnership with our valued owners and associates.”Elaborating on Swiss-Belhotel International’s rapid expansion in Bahrain, Mr. Laurent A. Voivenel, Senior Vice President, Operations and Development for the Middle East, Africa and India for Swiss-Belhotel International, said, “Bahrain remains a priority market for us where we see massive opportunity for growth driven by strong demand for the destination. We are confident that our upcoming properties in Bahrain, with their exceptional facilities and superb locations, will appeal to travellers seeking outstanding comfort and value for money. Both Grand Swiss-Belresort Seef and Swiss-Belresidences Juffair are an excellent addition to our portfolio and, along with our existing business hotel, will be complementing each other. This will tremendously enhance our brand offering in the Kingdom.”Bahrain welcomed a total of 12.7 million tourists in 2017 and is targeting 15.2 million visitors in 2018. Continued investment in tourism infrastructure with solid increase in arrivals, particularly from the region, is contributing to this massive growth in Bahrain’s tourism sector. Tourism investment is set to rise further with the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) forecasting total foreign direct investment (FDI) in the sector to increase from the current $300 million to $500 million in the next few years. As part of these developments, Bahrain International Airport is undergoing a US $1.1 billion modernisation programme, set to increase passenger capacity from nine to 14 million per year by 2020. Other infrastructure investment projects include the development of fabulous shopping malls such as Dilmunia Mall and the Marassi Galleria shopping complex, to join the recently-opened US $159 million Avenues Mall at Bahrain Bay.Source = Swiss-Belhotel Internationallast_img read more

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Top Stories

first_img Top Stories It’s a mentality the team seems to be carrying with it after winning 21 games over the last two seasons.“They’ve accomplished a lot in two years, the guys that have been here,” Arians said. “They see the young guys and they see the depth that we have so yeah, they’re very excited and very confident.”Seemingly every member of the organization has little problem talking about not only the team’s goals, but its expectations. For a while last season the Cardinals looked like a Super Bowl contender, and that is supposed to be the case once again.From 10 wins and no playoffs in 2013 to 11 wins and a Wild Card Round exit in 2014, any kind of progress could mean a special season. Of course, Week 1 is still a few months away. “I’m very intrigued to see what we can do this year,” defensive lineman Calais Campbell said. “This team is special. Talent’s not the issue, leadership’s not the issue. We have all the pieces in place so we’ve got to go out there and handle business. But we’ll come back ready to go to work, and when the time comes, figure out how good we can be.”With OTAs now a thing of the past, the Cardinals have three days of minicamp ahead of them before the rest of their offseason. Then, sometime in July or August, training camp will begin, and at that point there will be no more time off until the season comes to a close. “The best thing about it was great competition every single day, and our guys know how to practice and it was evident in the timeframe we were out here and how many reps we got in. It was a really good OTAs.”Of course, it was just OTAs. The players were not wearing pads and there was no tackling. There was one scuffle Thursday, with D.J. Humphries getting into it a bit with LaMarr Woodley.“Yeah, two new guys that don’t know the rules,” Arians said. “But they’ll find out real quick.”Last year during training camp, a scuffle led to the entire team being forced to run wind sprints. There was no such punishment Thursday.“No punches thrown,” Arians explained. “A lot of jersey pulling. It was WWE.”If nothing else, it may have been a sign of the kind of intensity with which the players are practicing. Last offseason, the talk was about how the team’s 7-2 finish the season before led to them not just hoping they can win, but knowing they could. This year, the conversation is about how the team’s 9-1 start in 2014 showed that not only can they win, but the Cardinals — when healthy — may be one of the best teams in the entire NFL. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals wrapped up OTAs Thursday at their Tempe training facility feeling pretty good about the work they had put in over the 10 optional practices.“It was outstanding OTAs,” head coach Bruce Arians said Thursday. “We got a lot accomplished as a football team in every phase. Special teams, offense, defense — everybody got better. We’re finding out more and more about the young guys. We’ve got a group of young guys I think that can help us. Comments   Share   Notable– Arians said Earl Watford had the best OTAs of any offensive lineman. “He’s playing four positions and playing extremely well. I’m really, really happy with what he did,” the coach said. “He could push — he played right tackle very well, he played left tackle a little bit, which was new for him. He’s a heck of an athlete and it looks like, hopefully, the light’s come on. I’m really anxious to see him in camp.”– Powers played mostly in the slot last season, but is expected to move back to the outside with the departure of Antonio Cromartie. While he’s comfortable at either spot, the cornerback said he prefers staying inside.“You kind of like the nickel just because you have more opportunities to make plays, and the defense is kind of suited for the nickel so it’s a lot more fun,” Powers said. “Outside you’re just out there just doing your job, basically, and hopefully making some plays. The nickel is just more fun, but corner is great as well.” – / 18 The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires When that will be is anyone’s guess. With a few breaks, maybe the Cardinals make the deep postseason run they seemed destined for last year. Or, maybe things don’t go as well and Arizona misses the playoffs altogether. Maybe the result is something in between. But perhaps most interesting about their season is that outside of Arizona, expectations don’t seem to be all that high. Underrated, perhaps?“I think so,” cornerback Jerraud Powers said. “I don’t know if it’s just because we are on the west coast or what not, but I always feel like we’re kind of overlooked a little bit. I think some people still look at it as, I don’t want to say fluke, but they still don’t believe that the Cardinals are as good as their record shows or as good as they’ve been the last two years.“But if you play good defense and don’t turn the ball over, that’s a lot of teams’ philosophy. You look at Seattle, they play great defense and they just don’t turn the ball over and they win. That’s kind of our philosophy and what we want to get at. As long as we keep winning games, they aren’t going to have to do anything but respect us. We were 9-1 last year and everybody kept talking like, is this the best team in the league. When you’re 9-1 in the NFL, if you’ve got the best record, you’re the best team in the league. That’s just how I look at it. This team has a lot of confidence. We don’t really worry about what the outsiders say, we know what we can do in this room. We know how close we were last year, so we just look forward to getting things going.”last_img read more

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Private doctors in latenight talks on Gesy

first_imgPrivate doctors belonging to the Cyprus Medical Association (CyMA) were on Thursday evening meeting to discuss whether they would be joining the national health scheme, with their final decision seen as critical to the scheme’s future.Their gathering began at 7.30pm and was expected to last beyond midnight.The association represents some 40 societies of physicians and medical scientists, of which 15 have already stated they will not participate in the national health scheme (Gesy) as it stands.Private doctors were taking stock of two meetings held at the presidential palace earlier this week to discuss the implementation of Gesy.The association’s main grievances are two: they want the flexibility of being able to enter into private practice within Gesy, and are calling for an increase in the budget due to concerns over remuneration.The government has said no to both demands.On Thursday, finance minister Harris Georgiades again ruled out any increase to the Gesy budget.Under the government’s timetable, the first phase of Gesy is to be rolled out on June 1. This concerns outpatient care provided by personal physicians, specialists, pharmacies and labs.Gesy will come into full swing as of June 1, 2020 with inpatient care.You May LikeLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoGundry MD PrebioThrive Probiotic SupplementCardiologist: This Is What Happens When You Eat GlutenGundry MD PrebioThrive Probiotic SupplementUndo Remand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)UndoPensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoThree arrested in connection with hotel theftsUndoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

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Rep Hoitenga bill will help human trafficking victims

first_img Legislator’s plan forces criminals to pay for survivors’ servicesState Rep. Michele Hoitenga, of Manton, today detailed her legislation as part of a bipartisan effort to provide added legal protections and assistance to human trafficking survivors.Hoitenga’s measure would create a human trafficking assistance fund financed by Michigan’s convicted criminals, in the form of fines and penalties, rather than the Michigan taxpayer. The fund will supply trafficking survivors with monetary support and access to legal, health and housing services to help rebuild their lives.“This is a common-sense measure, providing the needed help to survivors of human trafficking,” Hoitenga said. “Criminals themselves will pay for expanding our rehabilitative services for survivors, which helps our law enforcement and court systems, and community-based assistance organizations. This fund will be used to restore the survivors’ lives and open paths to new opportunities.”Hoitenga’s legislation is a key part of a 26-bill package to address the connections between prostitution and sex trafficking, while expanding awareness, updating preventive measures and creating additional legal tools for victims.Current Michigan law categorizes prostitution as a disorderly conduct offense, much like loitering, public intoxication and illegal gambling. This plan would not only remove prostitution as a crime of disorderly conduct, but would also change all references of “prostitution” to “commercial sex act” in state law to remove the stigma of acts tied to human trafficking.“Michigan must take the next step to help survivors of sex trafficking and prostitution, but do so in a way not hurting our state’s collective wallet,” Hoitenga said. “Over the past two years, we have expanded legal protections to victims for their crimes done under unfathomable duress, but we must not stop there. There is an added responsibility to restore their basic human rights and make opportunities available to get their lives on track.”House Bills 6156 and 6157 have been assigned to the House Law and Justice Committee.### 27Jun Rep. Hoitenga bill will help human trafficking victims Categories: Hoitenga Newslast_img read more

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Rep Wendzel attends annual State of the State address

first_img12Feb Rep. Wendzel attends annual State of the State address Categories: Wendzel News PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Pauline Wendzel, of Watervliet, attends the Governor’s annual State of the State Address with her guest, Jerry Price. Price is the manager of Diversity and Inclusion at Spectrum Health Lakeland in Saint Joseph.###last_img

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Philanthropist Coal Mine Owner Refuses to Pay 2M in HealthSafety Fines

first_imgShare1KTweetShareEmail1K Shares November 15, 2014; National Public RadioThis NPR report from reporter Howard Berkes, with the assistance of NPR data analysts Anna Boiko-Weyrauch and Robert Benincasa—in partnership with Mine Safety and Health News, edited by Ellen Smith—addresses an important theme for readers of the NPQ Newswire: the problem of wealthy philanthropists whose charitable giving may camouflage some less than socially responsible corporate behavior.Berkes reports that West Virginia’s richest man, Jim Justice, worth $1.6 billion, happens to be the owner of 70 active coalmines in five states. Like many corporate moguls, Justice is a philanthropist of sorts, having given $25 million to the Boy Scouts of America for the Jim Justice National Boy Scout Camp in West Virginia (remember the special constitutional amendment that was passed in West Virginia earlier this month that gave a tax exemption to the Boy Scouts facility), $5 million to Marshall University (his alma mater), and $10 million to the Cleveland Clinic.Justice has also invested more than $175 million to purchase and upgrade the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, part of which went to three football fields and a training center for the New Orleans Saints. Neither Greenbrier, which dates back to the 1700s and is now a high-end resort for golf, tennis, and private homes, nor the Saints are charitable entities, but Justice’s acquisition and restoration of the place beginning in 2009 was welcomed for saving a major West Virginian tourist destination.At the same time as Justice is dispensing charitable gifts and purportedly public-spirited corporate investments, he is also a scofflaw, owing more than $2 million to the government in mine safety violations. According to Berkes, Justice has “five hundred penalties…overdue, four times as many as any other delinquent mine owner.” As a billionaire, Justice ought to be able to pay up, but he hasn’t. According to Congressman George Miller (D-CA), Justice is “certainly exhibit A of the kind of operator that should not be allowed to continue with reckless disregard of the law.” A Justice representative said that Justice has actually already paid $500,000—which, if true, would make the unpaid bill only $1.5 million—and that operating costs at the mines have cut profit margins and made payment of safety fines a challenge.Berkes was not able to get an answer from the Mine Safety and Health Administration why it hasn’t pursued the billionaire coalmine-owner for the delinquent payments. However, upon word from NPR and Mine Safety and Health News that he would be a subject of the NPR report, Justice instructed his chief operating officer at Southern Coal to begin paying off the penalties at $100,000 a month.West Virginia’s only billionaire is probably worshiped in some quarters for having rescued the Greenbrier, though that is hardly his only resort acquisition. He followed the Greenbrier acquisition with the purchase of another major resort in Daniels, West Virginia, and more recently the Wintergreen golf and ski resort near Charlottesville, Virginia. While Justice remains on the government scofflaw list for his coal mine safety violations, he has gotten government subsidies for his resort restoration work, including cutting a deal with the West Virginia state government for a subsidy structured exactly for his operations at Greenbrier.Notwithstanding his charitable contributions, Justice is still a violator of hundreds of government safety regulations. In September, activists associated with Mountain Justice, the RAMPS Campaign, and Rising Tide North America hung a banner across a main street in Roanoke, Virginia, one side reading “Jim Justice Profits, Appalachia Pays,” and the other, “Jim Justice: Toxic Spill Billionaire,” aimed at the toxic wastes and mountaintop removal associated with Justice’s mining activities.It seems from the NPR report and other information that for whatever charitable largesse Justice may be willing to distribute to the Boy Scouts and Marshall University, Justice and his coalmining companies have been serial violators of health, safety, and apparently environmental regulations. If nonprofits are concerned about the probity of their charitable supporters, they might want to think twice about soliciting and accepting the support of Jim Justice, whose impact on coalminers, their families, and their communities has more than warranted the $2 million in fines that he has been exceedingly slow to pay.—Rick Cohen Share1KTweetShareEmail1K Shareslast_img read more

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The Rebirth of the Voting Rights Act

first_imgShare137Tweet5ShareEmail142 Shares“March for Voting Rights,” Michael FleshmanFebruary 1, 2019; New York Times, and January 30, 2019; TruthoutThe case was Shelby County v. Holder and the year was 2013. The Supreme Court ruled that major parts of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) were unconstitutional, and the 5-to-4 majority indicated that they expected Congress to rewrite those parts of the VRA to come into compliance with changing times. But this was not to be. Within hours of the decision, the state of Texas instituted ID laws and other redrawing of voting district boundaries which, prior to the decision, would have required federal government approval. Voting requirements in the name of protection from voter fraud (cases of which have been few and far between) have proliferated, especially in states that were relieved of federal oversight by the Shelby decision and states that want to protect the dominance of one political party or another.But the plea for a rewrite of the Voting Rights Act may now be on the legislative table. HR1, the prestigious first bill named in the newly constituted House of Representatives, is just that—a voting rights bill.The bill before the judiciary committee is known as the For the People Act, and its proposed reforms would address virtually every high-profile electoral controversy that has arisen over the past decade. The bill would establish national automatic voter registration, set rules to curb partisan gerrymandering and restore voting rights for people with felony convictions in states that have not already done so, a major goal for racial justice groups.The bill also directly targets the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, which unleashed massive corporate political spending. The legislation declares Congress’s intent to amend the Constitution and re-establish its ability to enforce campaign finance and donor disclosure rules, although doing so would require a broader move to pass a constitutional amendment. Another proposal for public campaign financing would match small donations to candidates.In addition, this bill addresses the bottleneck in the Federal Elections Commission by reducing its membership to an uneven number (from six members to five) so actual decisions, rather than tie votes along party lines, result.All of this is likely to pass in the House where the Democrats hold a majority and where a number of Republicans are reading the tea leaves of their constituents who see voting rights and addressing corruption in DC as a nonpartisan issue. Cracking down on corruption was a top item in a recent poll in House districts that are considered vulnerable.On the Senate side, Mitch McConnell stated that this bill was nothing but a power grab by the Democrats. So, what’s in this bill that makes it so onerous that McConnell has indicated that it is “dead on arrival” in the Senate and not to expect him to call it up for a vote as long as he is in control? Because the House Democrats view this as an anti-corruption bill as well as a voting rights bill, it may rub some the wrong way. Here are a few of the bill’s components:The bill would require Super PACs and [secretive] political organizations to make their donors public.It would set up a voluntary option to publicly finance campaigns, powered by small donations. The federal government would provide a voluntary 6-1 match for candidates for president and Congress, which means for every dollar a candidate raises from small donations, the federal government would match it six times over. The maximum small donation that could be matched would be capped at $200.The president and vice president and presidential/vice presidential candidates would be required to disclose 10 years of their tax returns.It would put in stricter lobbying registration requirements, with more oversight of foreign agents.It would set up nonpartisan redistricting commissions to end partisan gerrymandering, and create new national automatic voter registration asking voters to opt out, rather than opt in.It would make Election Day a holiday for federal employees and encourage private sector businesses to do the same.While the Senate will surely fall in line behind its leadership and ignore this bill, the people of this nation seem to be clamoring for change. The Republican promise to “drain the swamp” may come back to haunt them in upcoming elections and members of the House and Senate are cautiously watching the polls.For those who have felt the sting of voter suppression—people of color, the elderly, college students, those living in rural areas, those with prison records, the poor, women, and others—HR1 is a ray of hope. Restoring and updating the Voting Rights Act seems to have been the intent of the Supreme Court in 2013. Reflect on the words of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s dissent: “The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the [Voting Rights Act] has proven effective…throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”—Carole LevineShare137Tweet5ShareEmail142 Shareslast_img read more

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Disney Channel is launching on Free Sat in Turkey

first_imgDisney Channel is launching on Free Sat in Turkey, taking the kids and family offering into 60% of Turkey’s 18.5 million TV homes.The channel will launch on the free-to-air service on January 12 as an ad-supported service.“Turkey’s youthful population coupled with a high affinity for digital media create a perfect environment for this free to air approach,” said Giorgio Stock, executive vice-president and managing director, Disney Channels, music, publishing, gaming and online, The Walt Disney Company EMEA. “As the gateway to all things Disney, Disney Channel is the ideal vehicle to grow our presence in Turkey – our brand has universal appeal and this launch will give it nearly universal reach.”Disney XD and Disney Junior will remain pay TV channels in Turkey. Disney’s strategy in Turkey is similar to the one it adopted in Spain where it changed from a pay, to a free-to-air, channel in 2008.last_img read more

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The use of 3D in broadcast TV will see explosive

first_imgThe use of 3D in broadcast TV will see “explosive growth” over the next few years according to Avatar director James Cameron.Speaking with Vince Pace, his partner in the 3D camera technology venture Cameron Pace, at the NAB show in Las Vegas yesterday, Cameron said that the key to the success of 3D both in broadcast and cinema, was the integration of 3D production with existing 2D processes. Cameron told NAB attendees that 3D had unified the worlds of movies and video. “We’re using the same lenses and same sensors in both places,” he said. Development of technology could be “amortised across the whole sector – there’s never been a moment like this in history before,” said Cameron.Cameron said there had been 35 3D cameras used, paired with 2D equipment, at the ESPN Winter X games. He said there was little point in broadcasters treating 3D as a side activity to 2D broadcast. The key was to integrate the two. “The industry has moved towards the concept of ‘5D’ – of integrating 3D with 2D,” he said.Cameron said that “despite the naysaysers”, 3D broadcasting was progressing. The legacy approach of separate trucks for 3D and the allocation of inferior camera positions to 3D crews at live events was becoming a thing of the past, he said. 2D cameras and 3D cameras were now sitting side by side. “The important thing is that we are now shooting 3D as if it’s not special…using the same operators and the same general production strategy,” said Cameron.Cameron said that the message his company had put out was to encourage broadcasters to believe they knew what they were doing, and promising to overlay the 3D equipment and processes on what those broadcasters already did. He said that he had not looked on the production of Avatar primarily as the making of a 3D movie, but had sought to integrate the 3D elements with 2D, knowing that the film would be distributed in 2D as well as 3D. Shooting 3D only made sense, he said, if production units were integrated so that 3D shared the best camera positions as well as the expertise of the existing 2D production crew on live events. 3D also had to be shot for the same cost as 2D, which again would be enabled by the integration of 2D and 3D teams. Cameron exhorted broadcasters not to “give us one episode to shoot” but to commit to simulcasting entire seasons of shows and series of games both in 2D and 3D in order to bring the costs of producing the latter down over time.As part of their NAB presentation, the pair showcased a film Cameron was making, in the role of producer, about the Cirque de Soleil circus group, directed by Andrew Adamson and to be released by Paramount.Cameron’s technology partner Pace said that the pair’s company had been created with the view that broadcast 3D was going to be a success story. He said that ESPN had approached the company to cover the Winter X games by integrating 2D and 3D production. “ESPN threw their best people at it, and these are the kind of people who work with us to make these success stories,” said Pace.Pace said that the company had introduced a ‘shadowing’ approach for 3D coverage of the US Masters golf tournament, tapping into the expertise of existing 2D crews.Cameron Pace used the NAB show to highlight a range of equipment designed to work alongside 2D equipment, including its new Epic Shadow camera system, the Alexa M Shadow lightweight camera, Mini X-Frame integrated set control centre, the MaxRemote Shacow Cam and the Shadow D, which can be top-mounted or side-mounted with existing 2D cameras.last_img read more

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Dutch cable operator Ziggo is launching an advance

first_imgDutch cable operator Ziggo is launching an advanced VOD user interface delivered entirely from the network cloud.Ziggo will use ActiveVideo Networks’s virtual set-top box platform CloudTV to deliver the UI. The initial deployment will include video-on-demand navigation and guide functionality, including enhanced search, discovery and previews, to existing set-top boxes.“Service providers deploying advanced navigation, guides and other content need long-term, flexible solutions that will support any current or future device,” said Ronald Brockmann, managing director for ActiveVideo Networks in Europe. “The selection of CloudTV will allow Ziggo to deliver rich, engaging services without replacing existing set-top boxes.”last_img read more

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Eric Tveter managing director of UPC Cablecom in

Eric Tveter, managing director of UPC Cablecom in Switzerland, officially took charge as chairman of cable marketing association CTAM Europe at the CTAM Europe EuroSummit in Vienna this morning, replacing Chris Winkelmolen of Liberty Global.Tveter said that the cable industry faced challenges in the form of the “relentless pace of change” and an “increasing level of competition” from IPTV, citing the example of Cablecom’s competitor Swisscom. He said that cable operators had to come to market with new services in a timely way.“We are successfully shaping the market and the competition is feeling the pressure,” he said. “We are as an industry introducing new products and services,” he said, citing the examples of Liberty Global’s Horizon box and Virgin Media’s TiVo service in the UK.Tveter said that he would try to make CTAM Europe more relevant by trying to develop an executive education programme. He said the board would work to introduce a programme similar to the US CTAM University. “We hope to become more relevant to all of the companies that we work for,” he said. read more

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Online video platform provider Kaltura has launche

first_imgOnline video platform provider Kaltura has launched a new white label OTT video portal called Kaltura MediaGo.According to Kaltura, the “Netflix-like” video portal allows content owners to publish and monetise their content across multiple screens via subscription or advertising revenue. Kaltura says the portal is already being used by a number of media companies.The portal includes support for paid subscriptions with customizable components, and support for PC, iOS and Android mobile devies and selected OTT and TV platforms. Built in features include browse search, related content, content galleries and playlists, adaptive HD playback, DRM, user account and subscription management, social TV features  and personalization features. Other elements provided by Kaltura include an international UI that supports different languages, ingest, transcoding, hosting and delivery, a video content management system, billing gateways and a CRM portal.“Today’s viewers are light years ahead of where they were just a few years ago. They consume content from a variety of sources and on multiple devices, at home and on the go. Media companies are faced with the challenge and opportunity of adjusting to this new digital world,” said Ron Yekutiel, Kaltura chairman and CEO. “Working closely with some of the world’s leading media companies, Kaltura identified the need for an out-of-the-box media application that makes paid OTT delivery simple and seamless.”last_img read more

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Yuliana Slashcheva Russian broadcaster CTC Media

first_imgYuliana Slashcheva.Russian broadcaster CTC Media has launched a licensing business and has presented opportunities to potential partners at an inaugural licensing summit.CTC said it planned to license brands targeted at the teenage and adult audiences based on hit programmes including Kitchen, The Voronins, Molodezhka and brands from thematic channels Domashny TV and Peretz TV.The company said it had already struck licensing agreements with companies including Unilever, Russkaya Cosmetica, Gauss, Polimerbyt and the Eksmo publishing house as part of a rive to diversify its revenue streams, and expected slaes of licence products to deliver between US$10 million (€8 million) and US$15 million in revenue from royalties next year.CTC said it planned to have licensing account for between 3% and 5% of revenue over time, in line with international markets.“When establishing this business, we drew on the expertise of the developed markets, particularly the EU and the United States; we also took into account the distinctive features of Russia. The Holding Company formed a team of professionals which supports the entire cycle of licensing activities: sale, design of products and promotional materials and subsequent support to a Licensee. We believe that the success of our brands can help our partners to succeed as well,” said CTC Media CEO Yuliana Slashcheva.“The licensing business offers great opportunities for the development of our partners’ business. We will continuously present our new license projects and proposals to the market, including at the annual CTC Media Licensing Summit,” said Ksenia Gordienko, director of licensing products for CTC Media.last_img read more

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David Zaslav Discovery Communications plans to mak

first_imgDavid ZaslavDiscovery Communications plans to make staff cuts that will cost the cable giant up to US$60 million (€52 million).A filing reveals severance pay and other related costs relating to voluntary buyouts will end in impairments of between US$40 million and US$60 million.An internal memo from CEO David Zaslav outlining a restructuring was circulated to Discovery employees yesterday as part of a plan “designed to align its operations with evolving business needs and improve efficiencies”.Zaslav said the reductions would be made across business units, with divisional management contacting their teams with specifics in coming days and weeks.Discovery’s filing said the resulting cost structure would look to direct funds to “growth initiatives, including digital services and content creation”.The company has previously set a target of earning an extra US$100 million in extra revenues from its direct-to-consumer OTT platforms, and has invested heavily in its new digital content arm Seeker.Plans for the cuts were drawn up on April 28 and they are expected to be complete by the third quarter of this year.The news comes ahead of Discovery’s first-quarter earnings results today.last_img read more

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Virgin Trains has launched an onboard entertainme

first_imgVirgin Trains has launched an on-board entertainment app for its UK customers, offering around 200 hours of free TV and film content, as well as magazines and games.The Beam app lets customers stream free entertainment on-board Virgin trains, provided they have downloaded the service to their Apple or Android phone or tablet.The content on the app includes films like The Wolf of Wall Street, Bridesmaids and Theory of Everything and box sets and TV series such as House of Cards, Poldark and Fortitude.Virgin Trains developed the on-train entertainment service in partnership with GoMedia – a company that works with rail, coach and other transport companies to provide entertainment and information content.Irdeto has been selected as security partner for delivering the OTT content.last_img read more

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Börje Ekholm Lower sales in the TV and media secto

first_imgBörje EkholmLower sales in the TV and media sector contributed to Ericsson’s poor year-end results, with the company saying that lower sales of legacy products in North America contributed to the decline.Ericsson said that trials of its next-generation TV platform is ongoing that this has not translated into sales. TV and media sales also fell in northern Europe and central Asia. Ericsson is banking on its MediaFirst IPTV platform turning around the TV business.Overall, the struggling telecom equipment giant posted sales of SEK65.2 billion (€6.9 billion) for the final quarter of the year, down 11%. Net income was negative SEK1.6 billion, down 123%.The company cut its dividend and announced a revamping of its strategy. The company’s new CEO Borje Ekholm said he would cut costs and build a base to invest in growth areas.“We as well as our customers are going through a period of rapid change. As a consequence, we are reviewing our priorities in order to set the future direction of the company. This work has been initiated involving key teams in the company, to secure quality of decisions and speed in implementation once decisions are made. Emphasis will be on refining the strategy to focus investments into areas where we both can and must win. Building on the suggestion from the famous ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky; We will focus on skating where the puck will be, not where it has been,” said Ekholm.“In the near term, stability will be key to establishing a strong base for future growth. This means prioritising profitability over growth, but also to diligently continue to work on efficiency and effectiveness across all operations. This can and will ensure that we remain at the forefront of technological development – building on the combined strength across products, services and solutions.”Under Ekholm’s predecessor Hans Vestberg, Ericsson invested significantly in areas including media and broadcast.last_img read more

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