— Special teams work at the start of practice focused on kickoffs. Among those deep to receive were Andre Ellington, J.J. Nelson and rookie T.J. Logan.Injury updateIt may be a few days, perhaps longer, before wide receiver John Brown sees the field again. He hurt his quad in Thursday’s practice, according to Arians, who added Aaron Dobson, a free-agent wideout, will be sidelined longer with a hamstring injury.Linebacker Ironhead Gallon (knee) practiced on a limited basis.Not practicing at all were cornerback Elie Bouka (ankle), linebacker Alani Fua (knee) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (hamstring). Linebacker Deone Bucannon (ankle) remains on the physically unable to perform list and linebacker Jarvis Jones (quad) on the non-football injury list. Arizona Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick (43) runs drills during the team’s first day of NFL football training camp, Saturday, July 22, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) 0 Comments Share GLENDALE, Ariz. – His nights are spent studying as if he were back in school. His mornings and afternoons, too.Rookie linebacker Haason Reddick is learning as much as he can. Perhaps too much, according to head coach Bruce Arians, who put Reddick in the same sentence as former Cardinal Daryl Washington in terms of the potential impact they have on a defense.Right now, though, Reddick is playing too cautious “because I’m not trying to make so many mistakes,” he said. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can and once you know what you’re supposed to do, when you really know, that’s when you can let loose.” And early on it was sloppy work, at least offensively; though that may have had more to do with No. 3 not practicing.Quarterback Carson Palmer dressed for practice and at times had his helmet on but he never attempted a pass, leaving Drew Stanton in charge of the first-team offense.Palmer also did not practice on Thursday.Notable— Too many thrown passes landed on the field, especially in red zone work. Brandon Williams and former Arizona State Sun Devil Gump Hayes nearly had interceptions.— During 11-on-11, both Karlos Dansby and Antoine Bethea picked off Stanton.— The offense performed better later in practice when they worked on late-game situations. With 22 seconds left and the ball on the 19-yard line, the Cardinals scored three times with D.J. Johnson, Ifeanyi Momah and Kerwynn Williams scoring touchdowns.— Phil Dawson put on a kicking display. He was good from 48, 52 (hit the left upright and went in) and 56 yards away on field goals; the latter ended practice some 16 minutes early.— Ronald Zamort, on the practice squad last season, saw first-team reps at cornerback as Justin Bethel watched from the sidelines. It’s not known what’s wrong with Bethel but he did have a sleeve on his right leg. Follow Craig Grialou on Twitter Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling So, is Reddick studying too much?“Yeah, that’s a thing,” Dansby said. “That sponge gets full sometimes so you got to be able to squeeze it out and you got to be able to know when to squeeze it out and let some water out of it. He’s soaking it all up right now; and that’s a good thing, that’s a great thing.”And if you’re Reddick, there’s not many better people to learn from than Dansby and his position coach, 13-year veteran Larry Foote, who Reddick often stands next to in the end zone, behind the defense, when not on the field.Combined, Dansby and Foote have nearly 30 years of playing experience.“I’m always learning,” Reddick said. “In the classroom with Foote, learning; when I come off on the sideline I’m next to Foote, learning. It’s just always pointers that he’s teaching me. Same thing when I’m on the field when I’m with ‘Los, I’m learning. I’ll hear Foote when I’m on the field sometimes, too. I’m constantly learning and listening to the both of them. I got one in his ear and one in the other ear.“Having them two has been the best thing that could’ve happened to me as a rookie.”PALMER DOES NOT THROWA day before the annual “Red & White Practice”, the Cardinals ditched the pads, that they had worn the prior three practices, in favor of shells for their work on Friday. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Top Stories The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires
Go back to the e-newsletter >Scenic took a lucky group of travel agents on a journey through Africa, visiting South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.They began with three nights in Cape Town and enjoyed a journey to the top of Table Mountain in a gondola followed by a full day tour of Cape Point and visit to Boulders Beach and the resident penguin colony and a tour of the Cape Winelands.Next they headed to Kruger National Park where they spent the night at Lion Sands Game Reserve, a private concession. Here they enjoyed two game drives to spot the ‘Big 5’ and a hippo walk to the Sabie River. Then the group headed north to Thornybush Game Reserve for more wildlife spotting followed by a traditional African style outdoor dinner.Following the picturesque Panorama Route, they drove to Johannesburg to catch their flight to Livingstone for a three night stay at Victoria Falls where they visited the Zimbabwe side of the falls and toured the national park. This was followed by a visit to a local village which is a popular Scenic Enrich experience, an elephant interaction to meet these gentle giants up close and personal, and a sundowner cruise on the Zambezi River.The agents concluded their trip with a visit to Chobe National Park, home to large concentrations of big game, and a cruise on the Chobe River.Go back to the e-newsletter >
Go back to the enewsletter Go back to the enewsletterVirgin Voyages has revealed renderings of its new two-storey cruise facility and “future home” on Dodge Island in Miami, from where its maiden ship, Scarlet Lady, will homeport once constructed.“Seeing how we will be setting up shop in the heart of Biscayne Bay, we wanted to be sure we worked with a firm that understood how to highlight and honour the Magic City,” Virgin Voyages said.The structure will have a plaza-like feel, and offer a VIP drop-off and ride-sharing section for its “sailors”.The new cruise company has enlisted Miami-based talent Arquitectonica to design the PortMiami terminal in the heart of Biscayne Bay. Arquitectonica are the visionaries behind projects including American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami and the Miami City Ballet in South Beach.Render of terminal’s VIP entrance at ground-level with Scarlet Lady in the background | Virgin Voyages ©“Not only are they experts in building structures equipped for tropical elements like sizzling sun, splashing salt and dizzying winds; more importantly, they understand what it means to create something truly, unequivocally and wholeheartedly, ‘Miami’.”A Memorandum of Understanding for the facility’s construction requires approval from the local county commission, and is slated to begin work next year and delivered in 2021.“Miami is an incredible city and one of my favourite places to work and play,” said Virgin Group founder, Richard Branson. “From our headquarters for Virgin Hotels, Virgin Voyages and now Virgin Trains USA, South Florida has quickly become another home for Virgin brands in the leisure travel sector.”Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin said “South Florida is our home, and with our fleet now growing to four ships, we’re humbled and thankful to soon have a gorgeous new terminal overlooking the Miami skyline, an incredible view that will set the stage for the alluring journey that we will take our sailors on”.At the core of the 100,000-square-foot terminal are Miami’s iconic palm trees.“For years visitors have been attracted by the city’s sun-soaked beaches, invigorating atmosphere and gorgeous, iconic sights. No sight is more recognised than the Royal Palm Tree lounging carefree amidst a backdrop of captivating Art Deco design. These palm trees, tall and regal, relaxed yet unwavering, were the inspiration for the structure that will become our sanctuary in the bustling bay,” Virgin Voyages said.Render of terminal’s West facing side in the nighttime with dozens of lights shooting into the sky | Virgin Voyages ©“The terminal’s rooftop is designed to resemble a palm tree grove with pockets that allow natural light to flow into the building by day, and gorgeous beams to light up our iconic Virgin Voyages logo (as well as the Miami sky) by night, allowing our future home to shine brightly.”Normally cruise terminals are dull, lifeless places where people are herded onto even more boring boats; our palm grove-inspired design will be filled with colour and fun – a place where people can really begin their voyage of a lifetime.Virgin Group Founder, Richard BransonBranson confirmed Scarlett Lady would continue to operate to the Caribbean, including Cuba, from its Miami hub throughout 2021. Virgin Voyages’ second yet-to-be-named ship will also sail from Miami during the Fall/Winter cruise season of 2021/22.Additionally, Branson also revealed that bookings on Scarlet Lady will commence on 14 February 2019 for the general public, while guests holding pre-sale deposits will have the first opportunity to book, starting 5 February.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Oline H. Cogdill, The Associated Press Posted Mar 4, 2019 7:06 am PDT ‘The Last Woman in the Forest’ has suspense-filled plot “The Last Woman in the Forest” (Berkley), by Diane Les BecquetsDiane Les Becquets succinctly melds an adventure story, a look at conservation and a coming-of-age tale in a suspense-filled plot about the hunt for a serial killer in “The Last Woman in the Forest.”Marian Engstrom is a self-admitted “conservation gypsy,” moving from one nature study to the next in her quest to save the environment. But the 26-year-old may have finally found her calling when she joins a study group working with rescue dogs to help track and protect endangered wildlife. Her first assignment takes her to northern Alberta where she joins a small but committed group of fellow conservationists who are around her age and bonded by their love of dogs and the great outdoors.Their leader and mentor is the charming and captivating Tate Mathias whose seductive tales about his adventures and the thrill of being one with nature soon has Marian falling in love with him. Tate is Marian’s first love and she is easily manipulated by him. But while she is on another assignment, Tate is killed by a bear. Grief-stricken Marian can barely function but slowly begins to wonder about how real her relationship was with Tate, especially when his sister tells her that his stories about his family and growing up weren’t true, nor was his claim that he found the victim of a serial killer. As she begins to wonder if Tate wasn’t the murderer of four women, Marian reaches out to Nick Shepard, a psychologist and former forensic profiler who worked on the still-unsolved serial killer case. Slowly, the two piece together bits of evidence to prove — or disprove — Tate’s true nature and find links to the four women.Les Becquets elegantly weaves in an evocative story about the wildlife study into a strong look at the characters whose life’s blood is being a part of nature. Each of them, including Marian, are loners who keep their emotions in check and are only fully alive in the outdoors, which Les Becquets describes in beautiful detail. Rescue dog training and survival techniques add authenticity to the story.Looking into Tate’s past, Marian worries about how she could have fallen in love with a killer and wonders if Tate was grooming her to be his next victim.“The Last Woman in the Forest” offers a stunning view of the harshness of nature and the brutality of human nature.Oline H. Cogdill, The Associated Press
State Rep. Julie Alexander will sponsor office hours in Jackson throughout the month of May at the Jackson County Tower Building, 120 W. Michigan Ave. in Jackson.Office hours will take place on the following dates:Monday, May 1 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.;Friday, May 12 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.;Monday, May 22 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; andFriday, May 26 from 10:30 to noon.Rep. Alexander will also be sponsoring a special Milk Break at Candi’s BZB Café, 225 S. Mechanic St. in Jackson on Friday, May 26 from 8:30 to 10 a.m.“I’m excited to meet with the people of Jackson County,” Rep. Alexander said. “I encourage everyone to come and join me at any of these meetings.”No appointments are necessary. Those unable to attend may contact Rep. Alexander at 517-373-1795 or via email at JulieAlexander@house.mi.gov. 18May Rep. Alexander announces May office hours Categories: Alexander News
23May Committee hears Glenn bill banning sex between prostitutes, police Categories: Glenn News,News State Rep. Gary Glenn, of Larkin Township, testified before the House Law and Justice Committee today in support of bipartisan legislation he introduced to make it illegal for law enforcement officials to engage in sexual acts with prostitutes or victims of human trafficking during the course of an investigation.“We’re seeking to close a legal loophole that has Michigan as the last state in the country where police officers having sex with prostitutes or victims of human trafficking is shielded from prosecution,” said Glenn. “There is no evidence that law enforcement officers are taking advantage of this unintended loophole, but this is a matter of principle that Michigan is going to protect victims of human trafficking from abuse.”House Bill 4355 specifically states a police officer is not protected from prosecution if the officer has sex with a prostitute or victim of human trafficking, eliminating an exemption which protected undercover officers investigating prostitution–related crimes. The legislation also seeks to protect victims of human trafficking who have been forced into prostitution.“We’re told there are people who impersonate police officers who use this unintended exemption from prosecution to intimidate women into having sex. That casts an unwarranted cloud over our law enforcement officers,” he said. “This legislation will protect our police and victims of human trafficking.”HB 4355 is under consideration of the committee.State Rep. Gary Glenn testifies before the House Law and Justice Committee today in support of legislation to ban sex between law enforcement officers and prostitutes or victims of human trafficking.
State Rep. Scott VanSingel today announced a grant has been recommended by the Natural Resources Trust Fund board to purchase property in Newaygo County that will be used for hunting, fishing and wildlife observation.VanSingel, of Grant, said the $213,800 land acquisition also will contribute to a plan to protect the habitat of the Karner blue butterfly, a federally endangered species that is found locally. Funding for the purchase is comprised of revenue from the lease of state land and is designated on an annual basis in partnership with local governments.“This is a significant acquisition of 354 acres in Newaygo County that will help connect the east and west units of the Muskegon State Game Area,” VanSingel said. “It is a perfect example of how state and local governments can work together to create recreational opportunities for Michigan families.”The property also has 1,430 feet of frontage on Maple Lake and contains 4,100 linear feet of a tributary of the Maple River.The Legislature will consider the recommendations in 2018.##### Categories: News,VanSingel News 20Dec Rep. VanSingel: Recommended grant will help preserve natural resources
15Mar Rep. Crawford introduces Medal of Honor Day resolution State Rep. Kathy Crawford today introduced House Resolution 279 observing March 15, 2018 as Medal of Honor Day in Michigan.Medal of Honor Day commemorates the highest military decoration awarded by the President of the United States to members of the armed forces who have distinguished themselves through acts of valor.Rep. Crawford was honored to recognize Lt. Col. Charles Kettles on the House floor. Lt. Kettles is Michigan’s most recent Medal of Honor recipient, renowned for his brave and selfless acts during his service in the Vietnam War.“Today is a very special day. It is imperative that we continue to honor the brave men and women who have selflessly served our country,” Rep. Crawford said. “I’m honored to welcome Lt. Col. Charles Kettles to thank him and recognize his outstanding service.”House Resolution 279 passed the Michigan House of Representatives unanimously. Categories: Crawford News
Categories: Sheppard News 09May Rep. Sheppard continues fight to reduce car insurance rates in Michigan State Rep. Jason Sheppard today continued his battle to bring lower car insurance prices to Monroe County families, joining his House colleagues in approving a plan to reform Michigan’s broken no-fault system.The plan guarantees lower rates for all drivers in Michigan, who now pay the highest average car insurance premiums in the nation – twice as high as drivers in neighboring states like Ohio. The bill offers personal injury coverage options, fights fraud and abuse and addresses medical costs.“Michigan families simply can’t afford to keep paying the highest car insurance premiums in the country,” Sheppard, of Temperance, said after casting a crucial vote in favor of the legislation. “This solution will lower rates for drivers all across our state. People will finally be able to afford to drive in Michigan.”Michigan is the only state to mandate unlimited lifetime health care coverage through car insurance. The plan approved today allows people currently using the coverage to keep it, and those who want it in the future to continue buying it – while providing more affordable options.The plan:Guarantees lower rates on the personal injury protection (PIP) portion of policies. It would result in a 10-percent reduction of PIP costs for drivers who buy unlimited coverage, a 30-percent drop for drivers choosing $500,000, a 60-percent reduction for drivers purchasing $250,000, and an 80-percent drop at the $50,000 coverage level;Allows seniors with retiree health coverage such as Medicare, and those with health insurance policies that cover car accident-related injuries, to opt out of PIP coverage;Establishes fee schedules to end the practice of medical facilities charging far more to treat car crash victims than other patients;Cracks down on fraud and abuse by creating a fraud task force;Provides more financial oversight of and transparency within the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association;Sets reasonable limits on compensation for attendant care contracts; andHelps the state ensure insurance companies charge fair rates, while addressing attorney fee settlements and significantly reducing litigation.“This is an issue I have worked on since I first started serving as a state representative,” Sheppard said. “After years of gridlock, I’m pleased we were able to use my bill as a foundation to move forward with a solution that will deliver real rate relief for Michigan families.”The sweeping legislation now advances to the Senate for consideration.###
Share68TweetShare4Email72 Sharescommon core cartoon / WWYD?September 11, 2015; San Jose Mercury NewsThe California Department of Education recently released the results for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s (SBAC) Common Core assessment test, which was used for the first time to measure the performance of 3.1 million students for the 2014-15 school year. Taken on their face, the results are disturbing. Looked at more closely, they challenge the prevailing wisdom about how to improve our public educational systems.As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:A majority of students failed to meet state standards in math and English—with a stark racial achievement gap despite decades of efforts to close it…performance correlated with family and community wealth, language ability and ethnicity. […] While 72 percent of Asian students and 61 percent of white students statewide met or exceeded standards in English, only 32 percent of Latino students and 28 percent of African-American students matched that achievement. In math, scores were lower and the gaps wider: 69 percent of Asians, 49 percent of whites, 21 percent of Latinos and 16 percent of African-Americans met or exceeded standards. Among students from low-income families, scores also lagged. Only 31 percent met or exceeded standards in English, and 21 percent did so in math.With the results in hand, educators, policymakers, and parents now have the challenge of deciphering what they mean. Are these poor outcomes just an artifact of changing test formats? Are they as expected, since the new test intentionally raised the bar for passing? Or do they really tell us that the strategy for “reforming” the nation’s public education system is deeply flawed?Since this is the first year this specific test was used and its expectations are so different from previous tests, perhaps it’s just best to wait a few years before we draw any conclusions? This was the approach recommended by state education officials, who “stressed that scores from the inaugural year of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium form a baseline for future measurement, and no conclusions can be drawn” from comparing them to the results of previous state tests.“It’s unreliable to try to make any comparison,” said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction. “It’s apples to watermelons.”For others, the disappointing results should be seen as a clear marker of improvement still needed. Howard Blume, writing in the L.A. Times, observed that supporters of the test felt it gave a more accurate picture of the educational challenge before us. He cited Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, who observed that this year’s results are “going to show the real achievement gap”:We are asking more out of our kids, and I think that’s a good thing, [but] there’s no question that when we raised the bar for students that we’re going to have to support our lower-achieving students even more so than we are now.Executive Director Joe Willhoft said, in a press release describing this year’s tests, that “because the new content standards set higher expectations for students and the new tests are designed to assess student performance against those higher standards, the bar has been raised. It’s not surprising that fewer students could score at Level 3 (passing) or higher. However, over time the performance of students will improve.”But maybe the results are showing us that our problems lie not with students and teachers, but with our basic strategies? Maybe whether the gap is bigger is not the important part of California’s test story. The fact is that a different test continues to tell us that a serious racial and economic gap exists. Rather than being seen as a measure of individual student learning, or of teacher and school performance, it should be seen as a measure of how effective the strategy of school reform has been.The terms of two U.S. presidents have been devoted to reforming implementing a model of school reform based on increased choice, core standards, increased testing, devaluing teachers, and privatization. Is that time not long enough to expect to see improved outcomes and the closing of gaps between groups of students? You would think so, but the California results, which mirror the recently released national SAT results, seem to tell us it’s just not working.In looking at the meaning of the recently reported decline in SAT scores, Carol Burris pointed out that Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessment of the College Board, advised that the disappointing results be seen as a challenge to our approach to the problem. “Simply doing the same things we have been doing is not going to improve these numbers. This is a call to action to do something different to propel more students to readiness.”After 15 years of a failing national strategy, her words would serve us well as we consider what California’s results should be telling us.—Marty LevineShare68TweetShare4Email72 Shares
Share14TweetShareEmail14 SharesDisaster Vehicle 179 / Falk Lademann FollowDecember 24, 2015; ProPublicaThe potential effect of restructuring or consolidating the Red Cross chapter system is one of the issues queried in a six-page letter sent to the Red Cross of America’s CEO Gail McGovern by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) immediately before Christmas. Thompson sits on a committee that oversees the American Red Cross.NPQ, as you may remember, wrote in, “What Ails the Red Cross Looks Like a Perfect Storm of the Very Familiar” that one of the concerns we would have about its current downsizing plan, which entails the closing of local offices, would be the loss of the critical-in-disaster intimacy held by local leadership and volunteers. After Katrina, the scarcity of a local presence in some areas was seen as a fatal flaw in the response, particularly in low-income areas.The Red Cross is hardly alone in its consolidation strategy. At that time, we wrote:In the Red Cross’s attempt to consolidate many chapters into fewer chapters, it may have become more cost effective and efficient but it also relieved longtime local leaders of their organizing roles and robbed the organization of deep local roots, which were crucial for raising money and volunteers. Such consolidation appears to be the fad in federations with local chapters, and it can particularly victimize rural areas, as this article indicates may be the case with the Red Cross. The same strategy has been used by other chapter-based organizations such as the Girl Scouts, which experienced a revolt complete with lawsuits when it pursued the same type of consolidation. Another local revolt, this time against Easter Seals withdrawing from a rural area, was documented here. NPQ raised a particular concern about the consolidation at the Red Cross as far back as 2011 because the lack of a body of locally organized volunteers in remote areas appeared to be a real yet unintended outcome of the strategy.Thompson’s letter gives the Red Cross a deadline of January 27th to answer a list of questions, including a number relating to how the closure of 450 of 700 local chapters during McGovern’s tenure of seven-plus years might affect the quality of its disaster response. During that period, the Red Cross’s workforce shrunk by more than a third, to around 23,000.“In light of the chapter closures and staff reductions, what efforts is the Red Cross undertaking to ensure that it can respond to major and small-scale disasters, particularly in small towns and rural areas?” the letter asks.Thompson also questions how those chapter closures married to what may be an overdependence on arm’s-length, corporate-style “marketing” affected the Red Cross’ ability to raise money and recruit volunteers. The Red Cross has been running deficits in the tens of millions.While Thompson introduced the American Red Cross Sunshine Act last year, with provisions requiring more regular government audits of the charity’s finances and its response to disasters, Thompson is clearly intending to get some answers now.—Ruth McCambridgeShare14TweetShareEmail14 Shares
Share8TweetShareEmail8 SharesBy Voice of America News: Scott Bobb reports from Aleppo, Syria [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsSeptember 26, 2016, New York Times, Al JazerraAncient Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, had a population of more than 2 million before the onset of the Syrian Civil War. Since the Battle of Aleppo started in 2012, as the NPQ newswire reported then, “the challenges are immense for NGOs functioning amidst active warfare perpetrated by a regime that seems prepared to hold onto power regardless of the human costs.” Ever since, the Syrian government has used “starvation sieges” and much else as a weapon against its own people.Aleppo split into the government-held west and the rebel-held east. Russia supports the Syrian government; America, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Kurds support the rebels. We hope America is on the side of the angels, and the virtuous course is to fight President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. It would appear that Russia and Assad have abandoned diplomacy and are betting on a decisive military victory regardless of the cost in human lives and human decency.Last week, breaking a shaky ceasefire, a convoy made up of Syrian Red Crescent trucks carrying UN-supplied food destined for a rebel-held area near Aleppo was targeted in an airstrike, killing at least 12 people and destroying 18 trucks. According to CNN, more than 200 air strikes struck rebel-held Aleppo this past weekend, killing more than 100 people and injuring hundreds more. The UN called the offensive “barbaric.”According to Reuters, U.S. Secretary of State Kerry said, “Today there is no ceasefire and we’re not talking to them right now. And what’s happening? The place is being utterly destroyed.” Civilians, medical staff and aid workers are being killed. Only about 30 doctors are left in the city. In the last year alone, 11 MSF-supported medical facilities were bombed, killing some 23 medical staff.“Aleppo city’s hospitals are overwhelmed with wounded people. […] Things are starting to run out,” said Aref al-Aref, an intensive care medical worker, who spoke from Aleppo. “We are unable to bring anything in…not equipment and not even medical staff. Some medical staff are in the countryside, unable to come in because of the siege,” he said.Al Jazeera reported from a makeshift hospital, saying it was “overflowing” with the dozens of dead and wounded people. Bodies were strewn inside and outside the facility. An ambulance driver said, “It looks like judgment day.”At an emergency meeting of the UN on Sunday, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said, “What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counter-terrorism. It is barbarism.” British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said, “It is difficult to deny that Russia is partnering with the Syrian regime to carry out war crimes.”Rycroft said that the deployment of such advanced and powerful weaponry as “barrel bombs” creates “a new hell” for the war-weary Syrians. The UN warned Russia that the strikes against civilians could amount to war crimes and called on world powers to “work harder for an end to the nightmare.”The Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, said in a television interview that the collapse of the ceasefire was the fault of the U.S., and that the UN’s condemnation of the recent Aleppo bombings were “shameful.” The Russian government is also unapologetic.Russia’s government, which has called the military campaign a necessary response to terrorist groups in Syria, responded harshly on Monday to the criticism, warning that it carried the risk of further alienation between Russia and the West.“We note the overall unacceptable tone and rhetoric of the representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States, which can damage and harm our relations,” Dimitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told reporters in Moscow on Monday.On August 18th, the world’s attention focused on the horrific suffering being endured by Syrian civilians in Aleppo by looking into the face Omran Daqneesh, the five-year-old boy who survived an air strike on the apartment building where his family once lived. Omran was pulled from the rubble, miraculously still alive. His face was coated with blood and dirt as he sat in an ambulance staring silently in shock. The New York Times placed his image on its front page and then reflected on why the photograph went viral. Too often, it’s the image of a child’s suffering that moves the world to want to stop its madness. The barbarity in Aleppo is far from over, and apparently nothing short of a perceived victory will end the indiscriminate violence against children and adults alike.—James SchafferShare8TweetShareEmail8 Shares
Share44TweetShare5Email49 SharesOval Office Replica / AaronSeptember 17, 2016; NBC NewsWhen this article appeared in September, it made a very small splash. No trending hashtag, no national conversation about the ethics of running companies out of the Oval Office, almost nothing about the potential conflicts of interest inherent in a Trump presidency. On the other hand, and as clearly befits the situation, there has been a lot of conversation about Hillary Clinton’s need to step away from the operations of the Clinton Foundation. So let’s try to even that conversation up from a nonprofit point of view.“Conflict of interest.” In the nonprofit sector, we know this phrase like our own birthdate. Our board members fill out conflict of interest statements every year. We scrupulously research our vendors to indicate overlap and document it in our financial statements. And, of course, the topic pops up frequently here in the NPQ nonprofit newswire.For those readers who are unclear, Law.com defines a conflict of interest as:n. a situation in which a person has a duty to more than one person or organization, but cannot do justice to the actual or potentially adverse interests of both parties. This includes when an individual’s personal interests or concerns are inconsistent with the best for a customer, or when a public official’s personal interests are contrary to his/her loyalty to public business.It is not just us conscientious, put-upon nonprofits, either; the government is included in conflict of interest requirements through the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. It is meant to bring transparency to any relationships, such as transfer of money and gifts, which would cause an official to be influenced. Officials can fall far afoul of these requirements, such as the recent case of a county supervisor in New York indicted for receiving trips, dinners, and a massage chair from someone contracted to provide food service in the county.But what about the highest office in this country? What are the policies for his or her conflicts of interest? While there is no law that the president must remove himself or herself from their pre-election businesses or careers, the expectation is that the president-elect will put past and present jobs aside and place their assets in a blind trust. For instance, Secretary Clinton has pledged to step away from the Clinton Foundation during her time of service; NPQ writes often about that relationship and the complicated and ongoing process of trying to eliminate actual and perceived conflicts of interest. Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton have maintained their foundation leadership positions. Should Hillary Clinton become president, Bill Clinton will resign his position, but Chelsea will continue in foundation leadership.On the other hand, we hear comparatively little about the privately owned international conglomerate Trump Organization that controls over 500 namesake businesses around the globe. Ivanka Trump has said that a blind trust would be established, with Trump’s three children (perhaps soon to be joined by a fourth) employed as executives by the Trump Organization as trustees. Ari Melber, MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent, brings up “two key legal obligations that impact a president’s business interests.”A federal law…compels the president to report assets and business activities over the previous year, and a set of federal laws already prohibits government officials from abusing their office for private gain, or using government resources for bribery or extortion.Trump has demonstrated a business-as-usual style, doing ribbon cuttings for his businesses while on the political stump. Trump has still not willingly released his past federal income tax returns to the public, which could indicate he won’t be reporting his assets and business dealings while in office, either.The potential conflicts of interest with someone running 500 businesses globally are mindboggling. As nonprofit leaders are aware, conflict of interest regulations include family members as well as the individual. With all the charges back and forth between the candidates and the media, it’s cause for concern that the topic has not risen in a more balanced way.—Marian ConwayShare44TweetShare5Email49 Shares
Set-top provider Amino Technologies has posted improved full-year EBITDA and operating profits despite a downturn in revenues.The company posted EBITDA of £6.2 million (€7.25 million), up from £4.4 million in 2011, with an operating profit of £2.8 million, up from a loss of £0.6 million. Underlying revenue fell by 6.1% to £41.7 million, which Amino said reflected a continued focus on profitability.“Amino has performed strongly in 2012, and we have seen significant increases in both profit and cash flow, alongside material improvements in its operational execution. This has allowed us to sharply increase shareholder returns,” said non-executive chairman Keith Todd. “Moving into 2013, we will continue to target growth which is both high margin and cash flow generative, leveraging off a simplified supply chain and more targeted product range. Whilst exercising a suitable degree of caution, we are well positioned to meet its expectations for the financial year ahead.”
European broadcast giant RTL Group is planning to exit the Russian market after reportedly failing to gain control of leading channel operator National Media Group.Last week, RTL revealed it was exercising a put option to sell the 7.5% stake it owns in NMG. The value of the stake was €81 milion, RTL added.Yesterday, Bloomberg quoted an RTL spokesman as saying of the move, “Generally, we aim to have operational control, or at least there should be a credible path to it,” though further details were not forthcoming.NMG, which is owned by billionaireYury Kovalchuk, has stakes in three of the four leading Russian channels, including FTA market leader Channel One.RTL’s content arm FremantleMedia still has a production base in Russia that will be unaffected by the exit.RTL took its stake in NMG two years ago after swapping it for a 30% stake in broadcaster Ren TV.RTL couldn’t be contact for comment before press time this morning.Last week, the Bertelsmann-owned channels group posted strong half year results, in which it quietly revealed the plan to exit Russia.
RTL Group and Deutsche Telekom have settled a dispute over conditions for carriage of the former’s channels on the latter’s Entertain IPTV offering and RTL channels will now be available on Telekom’s service.Deutsche Telekom has meanwhile also said that it is expanding its offering with the launch of 24 new HD channels, including n-tv HD in October and HD channels from the German public broadcasters in December.RTL’s channels are returning to the IPTV offering after an absence of almost three years, following a dispute reportedly centred on RTL’s desire to block the ability to record and fast-forward through adverting breaks.Entertain customers will now be able to access free channels RTL HD, Vox HD, RTL II HD, Super RTL HD and RTL Nitro HD, which will be included alongside CNN International HD, Deluxe Music HD and iMusic HD in the existing HD Start package. Pay TV channels RTL Crime HD, Passion HD and RTL Living plus 13 other high-definition TV channels will be added to Entertain’s thematic packages.Telekom is revamping its subscription structure. An HD option can now be added to one or more thematic packages as well as to the Big TV offering for €4.95 a month, meaning that subscribers will be able to view all the channels in their existing packages in HD. Telekom is also including its HD start and optional packages in its Entertain Premium offering alongside its Big TV package, giving customers an incentive to subscribe to all rather than individual packages.
Apple is in talks with Comcast to enter into a deal to allow Apple to launch a streaming TV service over Comcast’s cable network, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.The Journal, citing unnamed sources, said that Comcast and Apple were discussing privileged access for traffic to reach Apple TV boxes over the Comcast network. Apple hopes to deliver live and on-demand programming and cloud-based DVR services to Comcast subscribers, according to the Journal.According to the report, discussions between the pair are at an early stage.Apple was previously in talks with Time Warner Cable, which is subject to a takeover by Comcast, over joint TV activities.Reports of the discussions between Apple and Comcast follows the deal struck last month between Comcast and Netflix giving the latter direct access to Comcast’s network rather than having to deliver its content via third-party content delivery networks.
Amazon is launching its web streaming set-top box Amazon Fire TV in Europe for the first time, rolling it in the UK and Germany.Customers in both countries will be able to order the device now, with boxes to start shipping in Germany on September 25 and in the UK on October 23.Fire TV will cost €99 in Germany and £79 (€99) in the UK. Existing Amazon Prime customers who order in the next five days will able to buy for the discounted price of €49 or £49.“Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price – customers love Fire TV, and we’re thrilled to introduce it in the UK/Germany,” said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.In the UK, the streaming box, which first launched in the US in April, will give access to content from the likes of Amazon Prime Instant Video, Netflix, Channel 5’s Demand 5, Sky News, Curzon Home Cinema, YouTube and music streaming service Spotify.In Germany, Amazon said customers will be able to use Fire TV to access the media libraries of ARD and ZDF, as well as services like German VoD provider Maxdome.Fire TV streams in up to full-HD 1080p, has voice search with a built-in microphone in the remote control and also lets users play games such as Minecraft, NBA 2K14, and The Walking Dead.Amazon claims the device’s quad-core processor gives it three times the processing power of Apple TV, and its 2GB of memory means that it has four times the memory of Apple TV or Google’s Chromecast.
Wuaki.tv, the streaming video service owned by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, has launched in France, just two weeks after the launch of Netflix in the country.Wuaki.tv will be available on the interent, game consoles, tablets, PCs smart TVs and via the Chromecast HDMI dongle in France.Unlike Netflix, Wuaki.tv has until now adopted a transactional video-on-demand model, with titles available from €3.99. Titles available in France will include Qu’est-ce que j’ai fait au bon Dieu, Les Garçons et Guillaume à table! and La Belle et la Bête.Jacinto Roca, CEO of Wuaki.tv, said that the group was in discussion with ISPs, but that access via set-tops was not an immediate priority and that nothing is expected on this front before Christmas.Wuaki.tv has an advantage in France in the shape of PriceMinister, the country’s second-ranking e-commerce site, which is owned by its parent company, which already has 20.8 million registered users. Wuaki.tv has been operating in France in beta mode for some time, available for the most part to PriceMinister customers. Roca said that the two services would seek to maximize synergies.Wuaki.tv, which is already available in Spain and the UK, plans to launch in 15 European countries over the next year, including Germany and Italy. Following that, it will look to expand into other international territories where Rakuten has a presence, including the US, Asia and Latin America.
Households that either would like to be exempted from paying the UK licence fee and not receive BBC services, or who would like to pay a reduced fee, are likely to change their minds if deprived of the pubcaster’s content, according to a study carried out by MTM for the broadcaster.The BBC commissioned the survey to understand what households that said they would forgo the BBC or who thought the licence fee was too high valued and what, if anything, they would miss. MTM surveyed 70 households nationally, of which 22 said they would prefer to pay nothing and not receive the BBC and 24 said they would be willing to pay less than the current licence fee for the current BBC. Twenty-two of the surveyed households said they would be willing to pay the licence fee or more to continue to receive services.All members of each household agreed to forgo BBC access across all platforms for nine days. Apps and websites were removed or blocked, TV channels locked, and pre-set radio stations changed.At the end of the period, the survey found that of the 48 households who originally said they would prefer to not pay at all and not receive the BBC, or who wanted to pay a lower licence fee, 33 changed their minds and said they were now willing to pay the full licence fee for the BBC.Participants cited being unable to find alternatives for programmes and services they enjoy on the BBC; valuing advert-free programmes, not being able to find educational content to match CBBC and CBeebies, missing access to Red Button and BBC iPlayer, news and sport content and an inability to find a replacement for BBC Radio 2 among the reasons for changing their mind.Twenty-one out of the 22 households who originally said that they were happy to pay the licence fee or more still held this view, and 15 of these households believed this even more strongly, according to the BBC.“This rigorous study enabled us to follow a group of UK households through their weekly routine to explore their media habits and to identify those occasions – the big must-see shows or the small moments woven into their daily lives – where they felt a sense of loss without the BBC,” said Nick North, director of BBC Audiences.“The results showed overwhelmingly that most people felt they got great value from the BBC when they came to realise the full range and breadth of what we provide – often in quite stark contrast to what they thought in advance of the experiment.”