Share Tags: Airports, New York City Monday, April 10, 2017 Could Rikers Island spell relief for congested LaGuardia Airport? The Canadian Press NEW YORK — Travellers stuck in endless delays at New York City’s cramped and congested LaGuardia Airport can feel like prisoners. Now there’s a plan to liberate them by closing the city’s most notorious jail.A commission that helped persuade city officials to eventually close New York’s violent jail complex on Rikers Island said the 400 acres could be redeveloped as a new runway and terminal extension for LaGuardia. The island sits just off one of the runways at LaGuardia, which is squeezed onto a narrow strip of land at the edge of Flushing Bay.That idea is being met positively by some who say it would help improve air service and increase capacity at an aging airport that is among the most ridiculed in America.Last year it had by far the highest rate of late-arriving flights among the nation’s big airports. And then-Vice-President Joe Biden highlighted its wear and grime in 2014 when he quipped that a visitor who didn’t know better would think he had arrived in a Third World country.“This for us, we think would be a dream come true,” said Joseph Sitt, a real estate developer and chairman of the Global Gateway Alliance, a group that advocates for improvements to the region’s airport system.But skeptics scoff at the $22 billion estimated cost of the plan, pointing out that LaGuardia is already in the beginning stages of a multi-year, $4 billion overhaul. They also say it would increase noise over nearby neighbourhoods and wouldn’t solve the bigger problem of New York’s congested airspace.More news: Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youth“All this needs is $22 billion of new, imaginary funds,” said Robert Mann, an aviation consultant who lives nearby, in Port Washington, New York. “If it wasn’t for the hideous amounts of money involved and the huge impact on the surrounding communities, I suppose it would be a good thing.”Mann also questioned the wisdom of the proposed east-west runway, which would be a different orientation than the two existing runways at LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, and could make flying in and out of the area even more complicated than it is already.Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that the city would develop a plan to shut Rikers over the next decade, replacing a centralized jail plagued by violence and abuse with smaller jails in each of the city’s five boroughs. His decision came just days before the release of recommendations by an independent commission that had been looking into the jail’s place in the city’s criminal justice system.In its report, the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform said a third runway for LaGuardia could increase flight capacity 40 per cent and a new terminal that could be used for an additional 12 million passengers.The $22 billion cost includes the expense of demolishing the jail, cleaning up polluted soil and the construction of nearly $11 billion in other types of public infrastructure on the island, including a wastewater treatment facility, a solar field and a public greenway.More news: Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaA second concept floated by the commission would drop the airport expansion but include many of those other infrastructure projects, and cost about $15 billion.The commission noted there are constraints for what can be done with Rikers Island. Being next to LaGuardia limits the height of what can be built there. The island is now accessible only by a single, long causeway.The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the airports, had no comment. The Federal Aviation Administration declined to comment, as well. A spokeswoman for the mayor said that a decision on what to do with the island after a closure of Rikers is years away, but that nothing is being ruled out.New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo broke ground last year on a LaGuardia’s redevelopment project that includes a new 1.3 million-square-foot, 35-gate central terminal, expected to be finished by 2022.Asked about the possible use of Rikers for a LaGuardia expansion, Cuomo’s administration pointed out a redevelopment is already underway. But Cuomo has expressed interest in the idea, saying in September to a civic group that he was “very intrigued” by the idea. He publicly supported the closing of the prison, on humanitarian grounds. << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by
Source = Likuliku Lagoon Resort (L to R) Tony Whitton, owner of Likuliku Lagoon Resort; Sala Rasari, Resort Manager; Daniel Anania from Pure Fiji, and Tulia Seru, exec housekeeper Likuliku Lagoon Resort has been awarded “Best Luxury Accommodation” in the annual AON Fiji Tourism Awards for Excellence announced last week.Group GM of Likuliku, Steve Anstey said, “We are delighted to be recognised once again on a local level by our industry peers. Being a 100 per cent Fijian-owned resort with strong ties to local community and country, we are particularly proud to receive this award given our mandate to ensure that guests who visit Likuliku experience quintessential Fiji in all its forms.”Likuliku was also recently named in the 30th Anniversary edition of the prestigious USA magazine “Islands” as one of its Top 20 World’s Greatest Escapes – the only Fijian resort to be listed and also received the honour of being featured on the front cover.The resort has also been the recipient of Australia’s Luxury Travel Magazine annual Gold List Award for “Best Overseas Resort” in 2010 and 2011 and is vying for the award again in 2012.Since opening in 2007, Likuliku has welcomed nearly 90,000 guests from all over the world and has also welcomed back over 1,500 return guests with some couples up to their 10th stay. The clearly dominant factor in the success of the guest experience at Likuliku has been the staff, whilst a unique approach to cuisine has set new benchmarks in Fiji dining. Executive Chef Ihaka Perimandates that the majority of his ingredients are locally produced and procured – including from the Resort’s own garden, ensuring not only absolute freshness, but a connection to the Fijian culture through the variety of cross-cultural indigenous ingredients combined with an innovative, modern and unique South Pacific style. Situated in the Mamanuca group of islands in west Fiji, Likuliku Lagoon Resort is located 25km/16miles from Nadi International Airport. Guests can arrive at Likuliku by helicopter, seaplane, private speedboat, or fast catamaran transfer.There are 45 bures, all air conditioned and offering mesmerising views of the coral lagoon and ocean, with the over-water bures suspended over the magnificent Lagoon’s reef edge. The beating heart of the resort is the Central Facility housing the magnificent Fijian canoe house designed reception, signature restaurant, guest lounge, boutique and main bar. Guests can relax in the horizon-edge pool, rejuvenate in the gym or spa or watch the sun set at Masima Island Bar in the middle of the Lagoon in a very special piece of paradise.Prices start from AUD$425*per person per night inclusive of all meals and non-motorised activities. Stay seven nights and receive free return helicopter transfers for two*.*approx rates only – check daily FOREX rates. Conditions apply.Whatever the season, Honeymooners staying a minimum of five nights will receive a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne upon arrival and a one hour Serenity Couples Massage.
Rayavadee in Krabi, Thailand, a member of Leading Hotels of the World, has announced a worldwide summer offer for new bookings received until 31 July 2018 for travel to the resort from now until 30 September 2018.Bonus nights are capped at a maximum three nights i.e. applicable for 2 + 1, 4 + 2 and 6 + 3 respective paid and bonus nights.The Worldwide Summer Offer is based on contract rates across all room categories and includes daily breakfast, an additional bed and third person occupancy.This offer can be combined with contracted offers.Rayavadee features award-winning architecture, fine dining options, a relaxation spa and a fleet of speedboats for excursions to surrounding islands.Bookings can be made through preferred Thailand wholesalers or email Svetlana Jovanovic at The Unique Tourism Collection on email@example.com quoting Summer Offer. KrabiLeading Hotels of the WorldRayavadeesummer offerthailand
How tough is it not to consider Patrick Peterson for that role?“He’s kind of the guy you got in the back pocket when you try to make (a long return) happen, but you really like to find a younger guy to do that job.”Does that also allow Peterson to just focus on being a cornerback?“It’s really no focus for Pat. He catches them in his sleep. He catches them one-handed, two-handed. Now just putting him out there in space, you get rusty at that as far as catching it and making that guy miss.”Is John Brown in that mix when he’s healthy?“Yeah, whenever we get him healthy enough. He was really doing well last year. And he wants to do it—that’s the other thing, you want to do it. You’re coming to me, ‘Let me return kicks, let me return punts.’ Not say, “Hey, have you ever caught punts? No.’”Have you seen punt returners get the yips and start looking up field at the players coming after them?“Not the good ones. And they come in all sizes. You go back to Cleveland with ‘Ice Cube’ (Gerald McNeil), (Dante) Hall at Kansas City. And you got some big ones. It’s just a rare, rare knack to return punts.”Has it been frustrating for you at all to not find someone beyond Peterson? GLENDALE, Ariz. – Head coach Bruce Arians, now in his fifth year with the Arizona Cardinals, meets the media each day during training camp.Here, in this space, we’ll highlight many of the key topics and personnel conversations he has with reporters following the morning walk-through.“Alright, I’m really looking forward to today,” Arians said. “I really enjoyed the outside practices. The last practice was extremely competitive—a little too competitive because we got too many penalties down the field with our DBs (defensive backs) but it’s what you’re looking for. I’d rather say, ‘Whoa!’ than ‘Sic ‘em!’ Put the pads back on today and see how it goes. “Oh yeah. Tramon (Williams) is coming on fast. He’s learning what to do—he’s learning our defense. He knows what to do. He’s played 10 years. Brandon (Williams) has really stacked some really good practices together and I thought he played well the other night other than the one—he’s going to get ball. When you press-coverage as much as we do, you’re going to get a ball thrown on you but he also got an interception that was huge. It was great for his confidence. But he’s had a consistent level of practice since then.”The success this team has had in recent years, how much do you think that’s played a part in some of the free-agent additions?“If you have opportunities, one team looks like they’re going to win and one says, ‘Hey, it’s going to be a tough, long year’ you take the one that you think you have the best opportunity to make the team. If it’s winning, yeah, I think that always weighs into it.”What stood out to you about Budda Baker in the Hall of Fame Game?“Very decisive and when he’s decisive, he’s fast. He’s not afraid stick it up in there and hit and tackle. Extremely good tackler. He broke up a couple of passes. Just continue to grow and don’t try to put too much on his plate too soon.” Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact People have called him a ‘football junkie.’ Have you seen that?“Oh yeah. He’s always asking Ty (Mathieu), everybody. He’s right next to Antoine (Bethea) all the time, and Tyvon Branch. He’s a sponge.”Nelson’s catch-rate was right around 45 percent last year, was that a function of him being a deep threat or can that number be improved?“He’s got to improve in press, man-to-man. He struggles with Pat because Pat’s so big. He can’t use his speed because he can’t get away. That’s the one thing. Route runner he’s fine. He’s just got to get stronger in press, man-to-man against big corners. He’s fine against little corners. He eats them up.”Follow Craig Grialou on Twitter Do you expect a race to get some of those players who get cut?“That’s normally the thing. You start claiming them off waivers. If you’ve had injuries and you’re looking for guys, that’s the best way to do it.”What to you think of your two punters?“I’m not real pleased with it yet right now. It’s too inconsistent, both guys. They did not, neither one, kickoff as well they’re capable so, again, we’ve got four more games. We’ll look at it.”Finding that consistency, is that the challenge with younger punters versus more experienced ones?“I’m not sure any of those guys are out there. We’ll look at them for another couple of weeks and if we have to make a change we’ll make a change.”How important is it for you to have an experienced linebacker like a Karlos Dansby?“When you’re filling out your roster, you don’t want to have to put rookies in positions through injuries to have to play right away. You’d rather have a veteran and bring that guy at a pace so he doesn’t fail. If you can fill the fourth spot at inside backer or outside backer with a veteran player and then the fifth guy is a young guy, you’re better off.”Do you feel you have the depth behind Bethel to push him in competition? “Injury-wise, John Brown (quad) will go part-time today. D.J. (Humphries, hamstring) we’re going to give another day. I don’t think there was anybody else that was new.”How about the persistence of Kerwynn Williams? Every year it seems he’s on the bubble fighting for a roster spot.“Yeah, Kerwynn is one of those guys that if you just give him his opportunity he does great with it every time, and you’re kind of stupid if you don’t give him one because every time he does—I’m sure he’ll do a great job with the punt return/kick return job right now. He’s extremely competitive but he’s extremely reliable, too.”What are one or two of the attributes that a punt returner must have?“First, you got to have great hands. So many guys can’t do it because they can’t catch them. And you have to be fearless. If you can just make one guy miss—that’s the key, just make one guy miss, you’re going to make yards. So, if you can stretch the field, make one guy miss and you have those three things, it’s pretty much all there is to it. It doesn’t really matter, speed.”Why can some guys return kicks but not punts? “They can’t catch them. And then you get a left-footer—Andre Ellington was doing great all camp last year. We threw that left-footed Jugs (machine) out there, he couldn’t catch them. It just ruined his confidence. And we’ll face a left-footer early this year, so we’re going to have to get ready for it.” The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Top Stories “Yeah, because we thought we had some guys. J.J. (Nelson) kept breaking a finger, breaking a thumb. He fumbled and broke his shoulder. He was great at it in college and right now we’re just putting him on the back-burner.”What do you still need to see from Justin Bethel at cornerback?“Just what he’s doing. If he plays at the level he’s playing at right now, he’s going to have a great year.”Are you moving Harlan Miller back to corner?“Harlan goes back-and-forth because that’s his way to make the team; be a position-flexible guy. He’s playing corner again right now.”Are there specific things you look at Bethel when he gets in a game situation?“Biggest thing is body language. You saw that in practice last year. Frustration. He couldn’t practice all of camp last year on the foot and then he’d get in the games and he’d be frustrated because he knew he could do it and his head would fall. Now, it’s totally different.”How do you feel about just one cut-down, from 90 to 53?“I love it because there’s another week for a young guy to make an impression in practice and they’re going to play that fourth game. The other thing is, you’re going to always have injuries. We went to Denver two years ago and had one tight end. He got hurt in the first quarter so we played four wideouts the whole game. I’m not putting the starters back in the there. If it’s a lineman, you have to and you don’t want to have to put those guys back in but you always want to give those guys another tape because everybody evaluates it to clear waivers or to get on to a practice squad. Once you get on a practice squad you’re in the league. People study that all the time.” (AP Photo) Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires 0 Comments Share Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling
by Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press Posted Feb 12, 2019 11:36 am PDT Review: Learning to love the rom-com in ‘Isn’t It Romantic’ AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Even when done well, the romantic comedy is easy to pick on. They’re so earnest and full of clichés and unrealistic fairy tale standards. Intelligent women have been taught that there should be a healthy serving of self-hatred with whatever enjoyment you might glean from a well-done makeover montage. You don’t have to look much further than the phrase “rom-com” (like chick-lit) to know that. The dismissive term seems to have been thrown at the genre to take it and its fans down a few pegs, as if to say, no no, silly girl, that’s not cinema or literature or even art.This is the world we and Natalie, the heroine at the heart of “Isn’t It Romantic ,” live in, where these addictively appealing and occasionally great films come our way that we have to relegate to guilty pleasures or couch with disclaimers. And it can get rather exhausting that the justification always has to come back to a comparison to Nora Ephron, the only purveyor of rom-coms who has undeniable crossover film snob appeal.And that’s kind of the premise of “Isn’t It Romantic” in which a rom-com hating woman played by Rebel Wilson bonks her head and ends up in one herself. It’s written by Katie Silberman (who wrote the great “Set It Up”), Erin Cardillo and rom-com veteran Dana Fox (“The Wedding Date,” ”What Happens in Vegas”) and directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson.Natalie is introduced as a young girl glued to the television in a run-down apartment where her mother is off to the side making an ice cream and boxed wine float. On the screen is a young Julia Roberts in a bubble bath in “Pretty Woman.” Natalie’s mother tells her not to expect anything like that out of life. They don’t and never will look like Roberts and so the fairy tale is out of the question. Pretty harsh, but her mom is right, “Pretty Woman,” unlike so many great romantic comedies, is actually evil.Cut to adulthood and Natalie is a normal, messy adult. Her apartment is small and dirty. Her hair is a little frizzy. Her clothes are ill-fitting. Her co-workers at the very ordinary looking architecture firm where she works treat her like an assistant and she can’t seem to see that her friend with the 90s Jim Carrey haircut, Josh (Adam Devine), is in love with her.Much like Amy Schumer’s underappreciated and thematically similar “I Feel Pretty,” it takes a traumatic head injury for her to wake up in rom-com land, where Manhattan smells like lavender, cupcake and wedding shops adorn her city street, her apartment is palatial and clean and looks like a magazine spread, a handsome billionaire named Blake (a wonderfully goofy Liam Hemsworth) wants to date her and everyone is very, very nice (except her best friend at work, Whitney, played by Betty Gilpin, who has turned into a rival).It’s an enjoyable surface-level experience that hones in on all the generic rom-com tropes you love to hate. Natalie now falls down all the time, but it’s adorable! She wakes up with full hair and makeup (glossy lips, fake eyelashes, perfectly applied eyeliner and all). The man down the hallway in her building has turned into a magical gay best friend who is always, inexplicably there to freak out over minor developments in her love life. Everything is moving exaggeratedly fast too and it’s all scored to a fizzy blend of 90s and early 2000s rom-com music staples, from “Lovefool” by The Cardigans to Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.”“Isn’t It Romantic” stays pretty surface level, which makes for a fine and pleasurable viewing experience, but doesn’t exactly do anything to show that rom-coms would be better if the best friends had more of an inner life, for example. In fact, it just kind of redeems the formula in some ways. It’s fun to join a world with unrealistically glamorous jobs and apartments and wardrobes and cities, especially when there’s a good story to go along with it! And also that you can never go wrong with an upbeat song and dance scene. No guilt necessary.I suppose if there is a message to be minded from “Isn’t It Romantic” it’s that perhaps in all of our skepticism and jadedness about rom-coms, we became ashamed to want nice things, both in entertainment and life.“Isn’t It Romantic,” a Warner Bros. release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “language, some sexual material, and a brief drug reference.” Running time: 88 minutes. Three stars out of four.___MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.___Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahrLindsey Bahr, The Associated Press This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Priyanka Chopra in a scene from “Isn’t It Romantic.” (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)
Friends remember ‘enormously talented’ Toronto musician Adam Litovitz Adam Litovitz poses in this undated handout photo. A funeral service will be held Friday in northwest Toronto for musician, composer and writer Adam Litovitz, whose diverse talents and thoughtful, whimsical spirit touched many in the arts community. Canadian filmmaker, musician and broadcaster Sook-Yin Lee, his close friend and collaborator, tweeted a link to details for the service at Steeles Memorial Chapel. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Sook-Yin Lee *MANDATORY CREDIT* AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press TORONTO — A funeral service will be held Friday in northwest Toronto for musician, composer and writer Adam Litovitz, whose diverse talents and thoughtful, whimsical spirit touched many in the arts community.Canadian filmmaker, musician and broadcaster Sook-Yin Lee, his close friend and collaborator, tweeted a link to details for the service at Steeles Memorial Chapel.“I am so blessed you were in my life,” Lee wrote on Twitter, referring to Litovitz as “a pure light.”His obituary on the funeral home site says Litovitz died on Sunday. He was 36.Toronto Police had reported Litovitz missing and later confirmed he had been found dead and that there was no criminal investigation.Litovitz and Lee created many arts projects together, including dance performances and their band JOOJ, which released a self-titled debut album in 2015.They also worked together on her feature films, including the romantic comedy-drama “Year of the Carnivore” and the supernatural drama “Octavio is Dead!”For “Year of the Carnivore” they shared a 2011 Genie Award nomination for best original score with Buck 65.For “Octavio is Dead!” Litovitz and Lee shared a 2019 Canadian Screen Award nomination for best song for “Ghost of Love (Onakabazien Remix).”Litovitz, who was born in Toronto, was also a poet, story editor and writer on films. He was the son of Allan Litovitz and the late Malca Litovitz, a poet.Toronto-based cartoonist Chester Brown, who was close friends with Litovitz, said he was “enormously talented” and “impressed everyone who met him.”While he had been battling depression and was questioning his career in recent months, he remained a gentle spirit, Brown added in a phone interview.The word “gentle” is a common one Litovitz’s friends and colleagues have been using to describe him in their tributes on social media.“The only times I can remember ever seeing him angry were when someone, say in print or verbally attacked Sook-Yin or one of his friends,” Brown said.“But if someone would attack him, he would not react in anger to a situation like that. He would just be reasonable. Very mild-mannered, sweet-tempered, intelligent, bookworm, very well-read.” by Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press Posted Jun 20, 2019 11:08 am PDT
Categories: Runestad News 06Jun Rep. Runestad to host 4 coffee hours sessions in June State Rep. Jim Runestad of White Lake will host coffee hours in White Lake, Highland and Milford on Friday, June 9 and Milford on Wednesday, June 28.The office hours on Friday June 9 are at the following locations:8 to 9 a.m. at Leo’s Coney Island, 6845 Highland Road in White Lake;10 to 11 a.m. at Colasanti’s Market, 468 S. Milford Road in Highland; andNoon to 1 p.m. at Bakers of Milford, 2025 S. Milford Road in MilfordThe office hours on Wednesday June 28 are at:6 to 7:30 p.m. at Milford Public Library, 330 Family Drive in Milford.No appointment is necessary. Those unable to attend may contact Rep. Runestad at 517-373-2616 or via email at JimRunestad@house.mi.gov.#####
14Jan Rep. Berman fights for increased government transparency with first bill Categories: Berman News State Rep. Ryan Berman submits his government transparency plan to the House enrolling clerk.State Rep. Ryan Berman, along with a bipartisan group of his Michigan House colleagues, has introduced a comprehensive plan to increase the transparency of state government.Berman, of Commerce Township, said Michigan is one of a very few states that still exempts its governor, lieutenant governor and the Legislature from sunshine laws. The bipartisan solution would remove these exemptions and make the government more accountable to the people of Michigan.“Transparency isn’t a partisan issue,” Berman said. “Transparency is about being open and accountable to the people we’re here to serve.”The transparency plan will subject the Legislature to a new Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) and the governor and lieutenant governor to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).“State representatives, senators and the governor should be held to the same transparency laws as local governments and school boards. It makes no sense to exempt our elected state officials from these important standards,” Berman said. “It’s time to update the law and set an example of openness and honesty.”Just like some documents containing sensitive personal information are exempt from disclosure by local governments under the current FOIA law, the new LORA will exempt some records, including letters to and from people in the district, human resources files, and ongoing legislative investigations or lawsuits.The plan, laid out in House Bills 4007-16, has been referred to the House Government Operations Committee for consideration.###
Share2TweetShareEmail2 Sharesa katz / Shutterstock.comJuly 27, 2015; Washington PostBy a 79 percent majority, the executive committee of Boy Scouts of America yesterday lifted its ban on openly gay adults as leaders in scouting yet stopped short of directing local chapters to do the same, leaving it up to them whether to discriminate or not. In so doing, it passed along legal liability from the national organization to any local entities that choose to keep the ban in effect. Further, the Boy Scouts’ national organization declared it would defend any local scouting group’s “good faith refusal” of a scouting leader that violates the group’s religious principles.Approximately 70 percent of Boy Scout troops are sponsored by religious organizations, some of which will refuse, and it is unclear what form that refusal will take. Soon after the decision was made, for instance, the Mormon Church declared in a statement that its “century-long association with Scouting would need to be examined.” Florida lawyer John Stemberger, who founded a spin-off called Trail Life USA after the 2013 vote to admit gay Scouts, said repealing the national ban on gay scout leaders, “places the churches and religious institutions who sponsor BSA troops at greater legal risk.” Will other local troops join Stemberger or stay in a network that does not share a core belief? Will future BSA jamborees have segregated spaces where one can or must not be gay?The vote today was not unexpected by those in the know. Former defense secretary Robert Gates said in a speech back in April that the legal environment was such that maintaining the ban at the national level would result in unsustainability.Advocates were understandably measured in their responses to the announcement. Zach Wahls, who is an Eagle Scout and executive director of Scouts for Equality, called the fact that so many faith-based troops may continue to ban openly-gay leaders “disconcerting.”“Scouting is a place to hone important life skills and a moral compass,” Wahls said. “And that should not be sullied by discrimination, I think that’s really self-evident.”Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an LGBT civil rights organization, made his comments in a statement:“Today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay, lesbian and bisexual adults to work and volunteer is a welcome step toward erasing a stain on this important organization. But including an exemption for troops sponsored by religious organizations undermines and diminishes the historic nature of today’s decision. Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period.“BSA officials should now demonstrate true leadership and begin the process of considering a full national policy of inclusion that does not allow discrimination against anyone because of who they are.”To NPQ, this step does not appear to be a strategy with permanent legs but rather a step that will be followed in due course by other incremental steps into the 21st century. Perhaps the form in which the BSA will survive will be very different. There may have been no simple way to tear the Band-Aid off, but the likely result is a great deal of fractionalization in the ranks and a whole mess of lawsuits that will distract the organization from its work.—Ruth McCambridgeShare2TweetShareEmail2 Shares
Share245TweetShare5Email250 SharesNovember 18, 2015; Los Angeles TimesIn philanthropy, it is rare to see foundations protest each other’s work, but in Los Angeles, three foundations are speaking out about what they see as the potential undercutting of parent participation by the Broad Foundation in its new initiative to remake the public school, and they are even offering to intervene.The letter, sent to the LAUSD Board of Directors, LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines, United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl, and Broad Foundation Founder Eli Broad, reads in part:The California Community Foundation, the California Endowment and Weingart Foundation have invested in efforts to educate and inform parents and to build their leadership skills to become stronger advocates for their children and communities. In some cases, we have supported programs and projects related to the LAUSD, while in other instances we have supported the development of charter schools, pilot schools and partnership schools. Our priority has and will always be to ensure poor and vulnerable communities have access to high quality educational options and are informed about what makes for a good school. Recently, the Broad Foundation released a provocative proposal to significantly increase charter schools in communities that have high concentrations of underperforming schools. In the midst of the controversy surrounding this proposal, we must remember that our priorities are families and children. Superintendent Cortines has consistently reminded us that the schools belong to the community, but it takes community, with parents at the forefront, to make the schools great.It continues:At this point, our foundations are not interested in taking sides on the Broad initiative; rather, we are bullish on the matter of full and robust participation of community, parental and youth engagement on key, critical questions – such as the Broad Charter School proposal, and the desirable attributes of a soon-to-be-hired school superintendent.What we are willing to do is offer ourselves as neutral conveners interested in doing what is best for all of our parents and children. We must engage parents and community members and help them preserve their opportunity to secure high quality education for their children. L.A.’s vibrant future depends on it. We are open to what form our role might take, and willing to listen to constructive input from you.As NPQ has previously written, the Broad Foundation has been pushing a greatly contested plan to significantly expand the number of charter schools in the Las Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Now, as a part of that plan, a nonprofit organization has been established to advance the scheme. To date, only part of its 11-member board has been announced, but it will include Eli Broad or a designee.The new organization is called Great Public Schools Now, and is apparently the body that will take the next steps in a plan initially proposed by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. The plan calls for raising $490 million to enroll half the students in LAUSD in charters over the next eight years. It has met strong opposition from the teachers union and has gotten a mixed reception from the school board.The nonprofit will be run by two executives from ExED, another local nonprofit that helps charter schools manage their business operations and build their campuses. Because the operation will presumably expand the market for ExED, this in and of itself should provide some cause for concern.In addition to charters, the organization says it will work to expand or duplicate successful models of schools directly run by LAUSD. The group says its goal is to develop first-rate schools of all kinds, not exclusively charters.The Board of Education did not play a role in creating the original plan—and next week it will vote on a resolution officially opposing it. Critics are concerned that a massive charter expansion could threaten the solvency of the district, limit accountability, and leave LAUSD with fewer resources for the most challenging students, who are the most expensive to educate.The Times reports that Great Public Schools Now has been “using the language of urgency and indignation” found in the original draft of the plan, which calls for 260 new charters, which are the primary focus of the organization’s mission. Its announcement included polling showing public support for charters, and research indicating they are outperforming traditional campuses.—Larry Kaplan and Ruth McCambridgeShare245TweetShare5Email250 Shares
Share8Tweet3Share2Email13 SharesBy Adbar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsApril 20, 2017; New York TimesThe Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) is one of India’s largest public health organizations. Yet, this public-private partnership started by the Indian government in 2006 now joins the list of more than 11,000 other Indian NGOs that have lost their licenses since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014. The move is indicative of what many perceive as the Indian government’s aggressive, continuous crackdown on the foreign funding of major NGOs. As was reported in the New York Times, these foreign donors include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—a notable financier of the PHFI.The Times confirms that the PHFI “has long been a giant in the public health sphere” in India. In 2006, former prime minister Manmohan Singh used seed money from the Ministry of Health to create the organization. In coordination with the government, most of its funding comes from foreign sources: “The foundation received more than $30 million in grants from various sources in the fiscal year ending March 2016, according to financial documents on its website.”PHFI spokesman and media relations director Rajiv Chhibber spoke to the Times about a letter the organization received a week or so ago. Chhibber said, “The letter says that we have utilized funds from tobacco and HIV projects for lobbying against media and parliamentarians.” He further explained, “The Gates Foundation provides most of the funding for the tobacco and HIV programs [and] both operate in partnership with the Indian government.”Kuldeep Singh Dhatwalia, spokesman for India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, confirmed the PHFI’s foreign funding block and license cancellation. The only explanation he gave was that there were “irregularities” in some of its programs. Though he declined to specify any other reasons for the cancellation, the Times offers the following:A right-wing group known as Swadeshi Jagran Manch has accused the Gates Foundation of having a conflict of interest in its efforts to expand immunization in India. The group claims the foundation is connected to pharmaceutical companies, said Ashwani Mahajan, a senior member of the organization, which is putting together research detailing its assertion to present to the government and to request government action against the Gates Foundation.The New York Times reminds us that foreign-backed NGOs are not allowed to support any anti-government lobbying activities. However, Chhibber argued that the PHFI was not involved in anything of the sort. On the contrary, “a large part of the organization’s tobacco program involved research on tobacco’s health effects. He said the foundation worked with the government on this program.” In fact, Chhibber said that all the programs the government cited in the letter are ones run in coordination with the government.After receiving the letter, the PHFI sent an explanation of its programs to Indian officials. Hoping for reevaluation, Chhibber states that they are “still in conversations with the government…We’ve also given them supporting documents to show that whatever was done was done on the behest of the ministry or to carry forward the tobacco policy.”Meantime, in a statement, the Gates Foundation assured the public that the foundation supports a “variety of partners to undertake charitable objectives and requires these partners to comply with all applicable laws.” In what reads as a direct response to criticisms from the Indian government, the foundation said, “Ensuring the adequate production and affordability of vital and safe vaccines for the world’s poorest populations is of the utmost importance.”The Modi-led government continues to tighten the reins on NGO activity across India. Shutdowns escalate with only vague explanations from the administration and few details. The New York Times states that organizations such as Compassion International, a U.S.-based Christian charity “that provided meals and tuition subsidies to needy children in India,” have been shuttered. NPQ has reported on charitable organizations that suffered the same fate because they received foreign funding, such as Navsarjan, and other Indian NGOs are still losing their licenses because they get funding from prominent foreign organizations such as the World Health Organization and International Red Cross. This reflects a larger trend (covered by the NPQ Newswire) of countries constraining nonprofit organizations, particularly those that do advocacy.India touts itself as being a growing global democracy, but many of us remain shocked at the disturbing paradox presented. NPQ will continue to keep an eye on these trends.—Noreen OhlrichShare8Tweet3Share2Email13 Shares
Mike Darcey is to leave BSkyB to take Tom Mockridge’s role as CEO of News International as part of the restructuring of News Corp into two companies looking after publishing and media and entertainment respectively.News Corp has also confirmed that Robert Thomson, the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, will become the CEO of the new publishing entity, to be called News Corp, while Rupert Murdoch will serve as chairman and CEO of Fox Group, the umbrella group for film and TV activities, and chairman of News Corp. Chase Carey will serve as president and chief operating officer of Fox Group, while James Murdoch will continue as deputy chief operating officer.Darcey has been chief operating officer at BSkyB since 2006. “I’m delighted that Mike Darcey has agreed to take the reins as News International’s new CEO,” said Rupert Murdoch. “Mike is a world-class executive with unprecedented strategic and commercial experience and I look forward to benefiting from his many talents. His broadcasting background will provide important leadership in the development of our already impressive suite of digital products at News International.”News Corp expects to complete the split by the middle of next year, pending approval of the board and shareholders, as well as regulatory approvals, favourable rulings from certain tax jurisdictions on the tax-free nature of the transaction to the company and its stockholders, and certain other conditions. News Corp expects to make preliminary filings with the SEC on the separation shortly.Bedi Ajay Singh, the former finance chief at MGM Studios, will become chief financial officer of News Corp. Paul Cheesbrough, News Corp’s chief technology officer and a former digital media chief at the BBC, will continue in his role for the publishing company.“This is an incredibly exciting time, for me personally, and for our companies’ ambitious futures,” said Murdoch. “The challenges we face in the publishing and media industries are great, but the opportunities are greater.”
UK subscription-free satellite TV service Freesat has launched a new low-cost Freesat HD box that includes its connected TV service freetime. The Humax-manufactured box goes on sale today at a recommended price of £99 (€118) from retailers including John Lewis, Currys PC World.Freesat’s Chief Technology Officer, Matthew Huntington, said that the new Freesat HD with freetime box was a “natural extension of our award-winning TV service.”Freesat launched freetime a year ago and the service offers a roll-back TV guide, daily TV recommendations and on-demand services including the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD, Demand 5 and YouTube.“The affordable Humax HB-1000S brings the seamless freetime TV guide to cost-conscious consumers, opening up the opportunity for more people to benefit from this leading subscription-free satellite service,” said Graham North, commercial director of Humax.
The British Film Institute is set to make hundreds of films available online with the launch of the new BFI Player next week. The online platform, which has been optimised for the web and tablets, is due to go live nationwide in the UK on October 9 and will offer content on a free and pay-per view basis.At launch the BFI Player will include seven curated collections of content spanning cult movies, archive film footage from the early twentieth century, as well as interviews and behind the scenes action from this year’s BFI London Film Festival.This will amount to “over 1,000 items, including hundreds of feature films in the launch period,” according to the BFI. Speaking at a launch event in London, BFI chair and former BBC director general Greg Dyke said the service “will fully blossom in 2014” with a second launch phase planned for early next year.“[The BBC iPlayer] transformed broadcasting. It was a public service intervention that enriched the lives of millions by bringing them content when they wanted it. The BFI plan has the potential to do the same for film, all across the UK,” said Dyke.“When we launched our five year strategy plan ‘film forever’ last year, which laid out what we’re trying to do for the next five years, our number one priority was to put audiences at the heart of anything that we did and ensure that as many people as possible had choice and access to films across the UK.”At the player launch, the BFI also announced plans for day-and-date releases for new or reissued films through the service.Filmmaker Clio Barnard’s new movie The Selfish Giant will launch on the BFI Player simultaneously with its UK theatrical release on 25th October. The BFI restoration of the 1924 film The Epic Of Everest will also launch on the BFI Player on the same day as its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival and UK cinema release on 18th October.The seven curated collections of content that will launch on the service are: BFI London Film Festival Presents; Backed by the BFI; Gothic – The Dark Heart of Film; Edwardian Britain; Sight & Sound Selects; Cult Cinema; and Inside Film.Edward Humphrey, BFI Director of Digital said that library titles would cost viewers £2.50 to watch in SD and £3.50 in HD. Shorts will be priced at around £1, while day-and-date releases will cost £10. However, the BFI stressed that approximately 60% of the content available on the site will be free.Content will be streamed using adaptive bitrate technology. The BFI is working with Ooyala, which will provide online video playback, and Capablue, which has designed the web interface of the BFI Player.“The BFI has spent a six-figure sum on this, this year, which is coming from our core budget. DCMS [Department for Culture, Media and Sport] has very kindly granted us some capital funding which arrive in 2015/16 to support this – that’s £500,000,” said Humphrey.
Paul JacksonEx-Eyeworks, BBC and ITV executive Paul Jackson has taken a consultancy role at Videojug as part of a restructure at the online content firm that sees its CEO, Tom Laidlaw, leave the business.Videojug is a how-to site covering a range of lifestyle topics from fashion to food.The company said that Jackson’s brief as consultant, content and channels, is to develop the site into a competitor to the likes of Buzzfeed and Vice.Jackson, the former Eyeworks UK, Granada America and BBC entertainment boss, said: “I think there is a huge opportunity for the business to build on its position as the original ‘how-to’ site and develop into a global entertainment platform for short-form video.“There is a growing demand from brands and agency partners for great original video content with humour and compelling stories that engages consumers and we will move rapidly to answer this need.”Gareth Mugford, commercial director, Videojug Networks, added: “It’s thrilling to have such a great mind working with Videojug Networks on behalf of our client roster of brands and agencies. There is a content battle going on in the world of online video and Paul’s expertise will allow us to offer competitive advantage that will be of huge value to our clients.”Laidlaw has exited Videojug after six years at the helm.
Tech giant Apple considered a move for its media counterpart Time Warner, according to the UK Financial Times, which added that banking sources said it would be more likely to move for Netflix.The newspaper said Apple’s Eddy Cue, who reports directly to CEO Tim Cook, discussed a possible move for Time Warner with the company’s strategy chief Olaf Olafsson, adding talks never progressed beyond a preliminary stage.It went on to cite several unnamed banking sources who suggested it would be more likely to move for a streaming service such as Netflix, which would be a better fit.Netflix, which went from market star performer to enduring a period in which its stock price was fluctuating down- as well as upwards, ended up 2.6% on the day on the back of the Apple stories. It registered gains earlier this week when it said its movies deal with Disney will kick in later this year.Back in 2014 News Corp. was rebuffed in an approach for Time Warner and subsequently dropped its interest.
Telia-owned Latvian telco Lattelecom has launched a new OTT multiscreen entertainment platform, Shortcut.lv, which it says will offer a mix of series, movies and TV channel content as well live coverage of events.Shortcut users will be able to watch about 50 TV channels live along with Shortcut Films and Premiere, offering on-demand content. International content will be available in the original language with Latvian and Russian subtitles while kids content will be available with a Latvian voiceover.Content on the platform will also include pop-up TV channels covering events such as the Positivus music festival via the 360TV Positivus Shortcut service from July 15-17, and the Latvian World Rallycross Champioinship in Rīga and Biķernieki in October. Lattelecom coproate development director Kerli Gabriloviča said that Shortcut would be available on iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets, PCs and Apple TV devices. Availability via Smart TV apps, Android TV, Chromecast and game consoles will follow.Shortcut.lv will offer a number of option. Shortcut TV and Shortcut Films are available for €6 a month, while the pair together are available for €10. Shortcut Premiere offers on-demand movies for €3.60, while 360 Play, offering content from Lattelecom’s existing 360TV pop-up channels and the best of YouTube, is free.Lattelecom said it planned to offer an international version of the service if it can secure the necessary rights.
Telefónica-owned UK mobile operator O2 has unveiled a raft of new virtual reality experiences, including one built around the English rugby football team and one enabling music fans to explore the O2 Academy. A third experience showcasing events at The O2 will be coming soon.In what it describes as a “world first”, the mobile operator is combining real-life 360°-video with interactive CGI characters, giving gamers and rugby fans the chance to compete against the English national players.The interactive experience uses Xsense motion capture to provide in-game player movement, taking into accoutn England Rugby players’ weight, mass and average speeds to ensure their character’s movements are as realistic as possible, according to the telco.VR players are challenged to track the player’s movements, and those of the ball, and take part in virtual drills developed in partnership with England Rugby.The O2 Academy experience allows users to live through a pre-performance at an O2 Academy venue as either a music fan or a member of a band.Using an interactive and switchable storytelling technique, users can exchange between the music fan and band perspectives, experiencing what is happening both in front of and behind the stage.The experience is the first time an O2 Academy venue has given 360° ‘behind the scenes’ access, according to O2.“We believe in live, and using the latest VR technology we can showcase our live experiences to O2 customers in our stores across the country. Through a combination of world first CGI characters and unique interactive gameplay, each experience has been designed to give the user unprecedented access to O2 Academy venues, The O2 and our relationship with the England Rugby team. We’re excited to roll our new virtual reality in to O2 stores nationwide, Twickenham Stadium on match days and The O2,” said Gareth Griffiths, head of sponsorship at O2.Paul Gustard, defence coach at England Rugby said: “We really enjoyed working in partnership with O2 to develop this unique virtual reality experience. It’s the only game out there that has had input from England Rugby to create a great experience for fans. I hope the experience gives rugby fans and novices alike an insight in to the way we train and the amount of hard work that is involved in being an International rugby player.”O2 is making its VR experiences available to try in 90 O2 stores, starting yesterday.The VR experiences will be compatible with platforms including Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Canal+’s OTT TV service myCanal has teamed up with Apple to offer 4K UHD TV content on the new Apple TV 4K box.My Canal subscribers with a n Apple 4K UHD box will be able to view the best Ligue 1 football match of the day in 4K UHD, along with original Canal+ series and selected movies, series and documentaries in 4K UHD.Content on the service in the format will include the latest seasons of originals Le Bureau des Légends and Kaboul Kitchen, with others including Versailles, The Young Pope, Jour Polaire and Les Guerriers de l’Ombre to be added on an ongoing basis.In order to view the content, subscriber will need the Apple box, a 4K TV and an internet connection of 20Mbps or above.Canal+ said that 4K UHD content on the myCanal service would be made available on other Apple devices including iPads, MacBooks and iMacs soon.The pay TV operator has teamed up with French technology outfits Ateme and Anevia to tap into their expertise in securing and distributing 4K UHD content both live and on-demand.
Digital Element’s Charlie Johnson.Charlie Johnson, digital media director of Europe for Digital Element discusses using IP Intelligence data to manage digital rights and improve user experience.A quarter of internet consumers in Europe are being blocked from routine online activities, including streaming media and uploading content to popular social network sites, according to a recent Eurobarometer survey. Additionally, the survey found that a large proportion of browsers (41% of mobile and 37% of fixed line) experience problems viewing video content due to connection speed issues.These types of negative online experiences can frustrate users, are damaging for brands, and in the majority of cases are unnecessary. There is an alternative. By using IP Intelligence data, content providers can stream media to the right visitors at the right speed, enhance the customer experience, increase customer loyalty, and comply with geographic content rights.IP Intelligence is information returned from a user’s IP address – information such as location, connection speed and ISP. With this information, websites can make decisions about what content to make available to web visitors. However, it is important to work with accurate data, and not all IP data providers are created equal. There is a vast chasm between those who simply repackage publicly-available data and premium providers who deploy multiple methodologies to analyse IP routing infrastructure.Premium IP data, at its most granular level, can enable websites to accurately locate a user down to the city/postal code sector level without becoming personally-identifiable. The coverage is global, accuracy is 99.99% at a country level, and the data is refreshed regularly. It is an effective business solution that is simple to integrate into content streaming platforms and manage in-house. Conversely, publically-available data has patchy global coverage, is rarely updated, and is inherently inaccurate.It is vital for content providers to comply with digital rights licenses, either at a country or regional level, and yet many are using poor approaches that restrict content to users who should be able to view, while allowing access to those who should not. The deployment of accurate IP technology negates this issue because it accurately identifies the user’s location. At the same time, working with less accurate data providers can create false restrictions, leading to disgruntled consumers, as the Eurobarometer survey intimates.Furthermore, accurate IP-derived connection speed data helps ensure streaming content is optimised to the viewing platform and helps eliminate the technical problems associated with delivering video or music over a range of devices and connectivity types.To summarise, content owners can optimise the web media viewing experience and reduce negative online experiences by deploying the following IP-derived data parameters:Geolocation Accurately locating web visitors down to postal code sector/zip level enables delivery of localised content and eradicates false positives while maintaining geographic rights compliance with content owners. Accuracy can only be achieved by using accredited IP data specialists monitoring the constantly changing public internet 24/7.Connection speedThe web viewing experience can also be enhanced by optimising the content format according to the user’s connection speed and type, seamlessly providing a positive brand experience and reducing abandonment from poorly-displayed content.ProxiesContent owners also need to protect themselves from those actively falsifying their location, but not to the detriment of other legitimate users. Proxy IPs can fluctuate within a day, and therefore daily and weekly updates to this data is necessary to minimise the risk of false positives.MobileBeing able to recognise the device type and/or connection type is important to optimise content delivery. Distinguishing between WiFi, fixed internet, 3G and 4G can enhance a user’s viewing experience and generate additional revenue channels while maintaining consumer loyalty.As Europe continues to move towards an “open internet”, website and content owners need to continue to embrace IP data targeting to connect and enhance users’ online viewing experiences, whilst remaining focused on compliance and rights management. Simple, cost-effective and intelligent IP targeting is an integral component of a geographic rights management solution that protects online content owners while also building strong consumer relationships.For more information visit info.digitalelement.com/uk[advert_ banner]