cruiseluxurySeabourn CruisesSeabourn Sojournworld cruise 2020 Seabourn has announced a 146-day “World Cruise: Extraordinary Destinations” departing Miami on 4 January 2020 and travelling east, arriving in San Francisco on 28 May 2020.Seabourn Sojourn will stop at 62 ports in 36 countries on five continents throughout the course of the sailing, visiting many extraordinary and noteworthy destinations around the world, including the Caribbean, Africa, India, Arabia, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Australia & South Pacific, and Hawaii. “The World Cruise on Seabourn Sojourn will be an extraordinary journey, offering guests a trip of a lifetime with many unique experiences and unforgettable adventures as they sail to so many far off destinations,” said Chris Austin, Seabourn’s senior vice president of Global Marketing & Sales. “This is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in a world of fascination, culture, and people while our gracious crew makes you feel at home aboard the world’s finest resort at sea.”
24Mar Rep. Lyons’ elections legislation protects taxpayers Elections measure passes House with bipartisan support Categories: News The House today passed Rep. Lyons’ bill to prohibit those expelled or those who have resigned from legislative office from running in the special election called to replace them.The legislation clarifies that when an elected official resigns or is removed from office, that resignation or removal remains in effect for the remainder of that legislative term.State Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, the bill sponsor and chair of the House Elections Committee, said its purpose is to protect taxpayer dollars.“This bill is just common sense,” said Rep. Lyons, R-Alto. “It is absurd that an individual could run to fill a vacancy that their own departure created at the expense of local governments and the taxpayers. If a person who resigns or is removed from office wants to seek that seat in a regular election, the voters should- and will continue to- have the right to decide for themselves whether they will elect that person. The loophole in our current law allowing them to run in a local taxpayer-funded special election to fill their own vacancy simply does a disservice to hard-working taxpayers.”House Bill 5407 now moves to the Senate for consideration.###
State Rep. Julie Calley is joined by her guest, The Right Door CEO Robert Lathers, at the governor’s State of the State address on the House floor today.Calley said she chose to invite Lathers because she wanted to recognize his impactful work in Ionia County before he retires in the spring.The Right Door coordinates with a number of organizations including the state Department of Health and Human Services, the county’s jail diversion program and probate court, local health care providers, and area schools. Calley stated that under Lather’s direction, The Right Door has truly enhanced the efficacy of local behavioral health services.“I applaud Robert Lathers for his emphasis on accessibility, recovery, evidence based practices, and reduction of stigma,” said Calley, of Portland. “I hope the entire state can pursue these key issues, as we strive to improve life for all Michiganders.”### Tags: State of the State Categories: Calley News 23Jan Rep. Calley invites The Right Door CEO to State of the State address
Categories: Miller News,News 12Apr Rep. Miller approves plan to improve campus safety House Higher Education Subcommittee approves budgetState Rep. Aaron Miller today voted to require Michigan’s public colleges and universities to be transparent with Title IX reporting or face a 10-percent reduction in future state funding.The updated requirement is part of budget approved today by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education, upon which Miller serves.Title IX prohibits sex discrimination at educational institutions that receive federal funding and the 15 public universities in Michigan are required to submit reports to the state pertaining to sexual assaults on campus.“We all want our college students to be safe while continuing their education on Michigan’s campuses, but we want the administrations at those same colleges and universities to share when that does not happen,” said Miller, of Sturgis. “This is not about penalizing a school, students or faculty. This is about transparency.”The plan includes the following:Requires an in-person sexual assault prevention course for students in their first two years and an electronic/online course for all other students;Prohibits the use of in-house medical professionals during Title IX investigations;Requires a third-party investigator to review an institution’s Title IX office, along with its policy and procedures before the 2018-19 school year;Prohibits the distribution of differing investigation and final reports to victim and university officials; andRequires the institution’s president and at least one governing board member to review all Title IX reports.The subcommittee also approved a 1-percent state funding increase to all institutions that keep tuition and fee increases under 3.8 percent or $490 per student.“We have great colleges and universities in Michigan, but we also must work together to keep it affordable,” Miller said. “That’s what our state’s future depends on.”House Bill 5571 advances to the House Appropriations Committee.#####
03Oct Rep. Frederick testifies on plan to ensure access to road funding Categories: Frederick News,News State Rep. Ben Frederick (right) with state Rep. Gary Howell this week testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in support of a plan to allow counties, cities and villages to legally utilize funds from the State Infrastructure Bank to fix Michigan roads. The reform was brought forward to Frederick by the Village of Morrice in Shiawassee County.
Rep. Joe Bellino today voted in favor of legislation designed to help Tenneco preserve employment in Monroe County.The bipartisan plan approved by the House would allow Tenneco to keep Michigan Economic Growth Authority credits originally awarded to Federal-Mogul. Tenneco finalized a deal to acquire Federal-Mogul in 2018, and transferring the already approved credits will help Tenneco preserve Michigan jobs – including those with Monroe Shocks and Struts – without any additional costs to taxpayers.“This is a common-sense plan that will help preserve good, local jobs as company ownership changes,” said Bellino, of Monroe. “It’s a smart move that will help the Monroe economy, along with several other communities in Michigan. And it’s all done without costing taxpayers another penny.”The MEGA credit was included as part of the Tenneco/Federal-Mogul deal. The legislation approved today makes it clear the credit may be transferred to the company’s new owner.The MEGA credit involved in this legislation was previously awarded and is capped at $12 million. The tax credit can’t be amended to last longer or cost more.The legislation applies only to the Tenneco case. The Legislature will maintain oversight on a case-by-case basis moving forward, because each company acquisition is unique.House Bills 4189-91 advance to the Senate for further consideration. Rep. Jason Sheppard of Temperance is one of the primary sponsors of the legislation. 22May Rep. Bellino, Michigan House approve plan benefiting Monroe County economy Categories: Bellino News,News ###
Schools. The plan raises the state’s minimum per-pupil foundation allowance by $180 per student, which covers the majority of Michigan’s school districts. All districts would get at least $90 more per student under the House plan. This comes on top of the largest annual per-student increase of the past 15 years – which schools are receiving in the current budget year – while continuing to close the gap between the state’s lowest- and highest-funded districts. Early literacy and career training are special focuses as the overall school aid fund would surpass $15 billion. Respecting taxpayers through government efficiencies. Many state departments are being asked to find a savings of 3 percent in their administrative budgets. The House also has identified several state programs that do not spend as much money as taxpayers have been providing, so their budgets will be adjusted accordingly. The plan also helps rein in information technology project spending within state departments, which has been a problem area.The House budget plan costs taxpayers about $1.3 billion less than the plan recommended by the governor.### State Rep. Jack O’Malley this week supported record funding for Northern Michigan road repairs and schools – without increasing taxes on Michigan families.“I have traveled across the state listening to drivers about road funding concerns. This plan ensures all taxes paid at the pump will go directly towards fixing our roads. With this budget, we would use available state resources to boost road repairs without burdening Michigan drivers with extra costs,” said O’Malley, of Lake Ann, chair of the House Transportation Committee. “There are many good things in the greater budget, however I am concerned with some of the reductions for public transit in the Transportation budget. I will be working hard to get this funding restored.”The House approved several budget measures this week, advancing the plan to the Senate for further consideration.Key elements of the budget plan:Roads. The plan ensures every single penny spent on taxes at the gas pump goes to improve our roads – including the 6 percent sales tax motorists already pay. This change could add more than $800 million more per year to road repairs – without raising taxes – once fully phased in over two years. This change would be accomplished without sacrificing money for schools, local government revenue sharing or other essential public services. O’Malley has hosted several town hall meetings across the state to educate drivers about the accelerated meetings in the House Transportation Committee and help find affordable solutions to help fix Michigan roads. Strengthening communities and families. More resources will be dedicated to protect drinking water, clean up the environment, promote mental health and fight opioid addiction. Local communities will get an increase in revenue sharing to enhance essential public services. More Michigan State Police troopers and state prison corrections officers will be trained. Categories: O’Malley News 13Jun Rep. O’Malley: House budget improves roads, helps Northern Michigan families
Share6Tweet3Share1Email10 SharesJune 27, 2016; NPR, “Shots”It seems entirely reasonable for the U.S. government to have supplies on hand should a nuclear, biological, or chemical (NBC) disaster strike within our borders. Until recently, however, there was precious little information made available to the public about the quantities, costs, or locations of the six estimated facilities maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and collectively known as the “Strategic National Stockpile”.The program budget to maintain the $7 billion stockpile is about $500 million a year. Supplies are guarded, cataloged, and rotated to ensure that vaccines and other perishable supplies are fresh when needed. Much effort goes into ongoing threat assessments to match inventories with most likely emerging public health threats. However, the maintenance budget remains the same while the inventory increases and different supplies are added, placing stress on the program.That’s not the biggest challenge for the Strategic National Stockpile:“The warehouse is fine in terms of the management of stuff in there. What gets in the warehouse and where does it go after the warehouse, and how fast does it go to people, is where we have questions,” says Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.Disaster response plans rely on the presence of state and local public health employees and volunteers across the country ready and able to respond within hours of a declared emergency.“We have drastically decreased the level of state public health resources in the last decade. We’ve lost 50,000 state and local health officials. That’s a huge hit,” says Dr. Tara O’Toole, a former homeland security official who is now at In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit that helps bring technological innovation to the U. S. intelligence community. She wishes local officials would get more money for things like emergency drills. “The notion that this is all going to be top down, that the feds are in charge and the feds will deliver, is wrong.”NPQ has devoted much attention to nonprofit intermediaries in the context of services from FEMA disaster preparedness role in Katrina to HUD’s role in neighborhood housing support. To protect the disaster health needs of our nation, it’s past time to update the distribution and deployment plans to make effective use of the billions of dollars in available federal stockpiles.—Michael WylandShare6Tweet3Share1Email10 Shares
Share46Tweet6ShareEmail52 SharesJune 26, 2016; National Catholic ReporterPope Francis often makes news when conducting in-flight press conferences. Last weekend, on his return to Rome from Armenia (where he renewed the controversy of using the term “genocide” to describe the slaughter of Armenians during World War I by the then-Ottoman Empire, thereby offending Turkey), Francis said:The church must say it’s sorry for not having comported itself well many times, many times. […] I believe that the church not only must say it’s sorry…to this person that is gay that it has offended. But it must say it’s sorry to the poor, also, to mistreated women, to children forced to work.Francis spoke of “accompaniment” of “a person with that condition,” a theme he has repeatedly stressed during his pontificate. As NPQ has noted, the pope is advocating for a shift in emphasis away from condemnation of a person’s sin as a precondition for engagement with the church, preferring to meet someone “where they are” in their faith journey and helping them within the context of church doctrine. Confusion persists both within the Catholic Church and the general public because, while the approach is different, dogma and doctrine have not changed. Francis appears reluctant to change church teaching on subjects like homosexuality, families, and artificial contraception even as he encourages sustained dialogue on these subjects and others by theologians and church leaders. Put crudely, Francis’s apology comes down to a failure of customer service rather than an admission of mistaken dogma. He also is quick to distinguish between the church and Christians. “When I say the church: Christians,” Francis clarified. “The church is holy. We are the sinners.” The fact that the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics speaks of an apology at all, however, is international news.—Michael WylandShare46Tweet6ShareEmail52 Shares
Share4TweetShare26Email30 SharesDecember 29, 2016; Pittsburgh Tribune-ReviewGovernment leaders in the birthplace of PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) and that region’s flagship nonprofits are close to an agreement that will result in large annual payments over the next decade.Pittsburgh and Allegheny County officials tell the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the deal will see the region’s four largest nonprofit employers making “hefty annual payments toward public projects for the next decade.”PILOTs are the controversial funding mechanism used by many local governments in the eastern U.S. to extract financial support from large institutions that are normally exempt from property taxes, even though they rely heavily on local government services.The still-confidential agreement—being hailed as a “comprehensive investment proposal”—will come after three years of negotiations between Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and the four big institutions: the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Highmark Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.“Those are the four agencies that are driving our local economy right now. They are at the heart of the resurgence in this city,” an aide to the mayor told the paper. “What we’d like to do is to make sure that the cost of running a city is borne by those who are leading its economy.”The four nonprofits generate “billions” of dollars in revenue, according to the Tribune-Review, and employ approximately 120,000 people.The plan is a payment formula that moves funds from the four health and education institutions into public works projects, such as improving parks and roads, as well as into government-driven special programs, but not necessarily ongoing public services. Hospitals and universities in Boston, New Haven and other eastern cities with large tax-exempt institutions that dominate their local economies have struck similar deals with local governments.Peduto has told reporters “he expects to get more than the $5.2 million in payments the city received from…PILOTs in 2012 and 2013 under a previous pact.”Despite the long-term nature of the deal, the mayor’s staff told the Tribune-Review that they “would like to see state legislators enact broader reforms to tax laws to account for areas such as Pittsburgh that have shifted toward nonprofit-driven economies.” Chief of staff Kevin Acklin said:Every time UPMC or Highmark or Pitt or Carnegie Mellon expands, our real estate tax base shrinks. That doesn’t mean that we don’t encourage expansion, job growth and the new economy, and people coming here because of the innovation that’s happening, but it is a reality that we have to address. The situation you have right now is there are taxpaying citizens who are subsidizing the growth that’s occurring.Spokespeople for the nonprofits offered only noncommittal (but positive) comments and declined to discuss details with reporters. They met with city and county officials just before the holidays.—Larry KaplanShare4TweetShare26Email30 Shares
Share19Tweet4Share2Email25 Shares“Help” by Tsai ProjectJuly 24, 2017; U.S. News & World ReportSaying that recent restrictions handed down from the Department of Justice violate the First Amendment rights of immigrant-serving nonprofits, U.S. District Court judge Richard Jones, by way of a temporary injunction, ruled that nonprofit legal groups can keep assisting immigrants facing deportation even if they do not subsequently represent them in court. This was an important decision for groups all across the country that serve the legal needs of immigrants.The Justice Department informed the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project by way of a cease and desist letter sent in April that it was not allowed to provide certain legal assistance to immigrants unless it intended to follow through with court representation. NWIRP sued the Justice Department and AG Sessions.Steven Hsieh, writing for the Stranger, says this effectively signals “to nonprofits nationwide that they’re free to help undocumented immigrants without going through the process of formally signing onto the case of every person that they advocate for. Thirty-two different legal organizations and nonprofits signed declarations and letters of support saying the policy would impede their ability to help immigrants.”“During this unprecedented time of increased immigration detention and deportation of immigrants by the Trump Administration, thousands of immigrants who cannot afford an attorney rely on legal advice to help them as they face deportation,” said NWIRP executive director Jorge L. Barón. “Today’s victory grants them a better opportunity to seek justice.”—Ruth McCambridgeShare19Tweet4Share2Email25 Shares
VOD technology specialist SeaChange has integrated its Infusion advanced advertising platform with Envivio 4Caster C4 encoders, enabling multi-screen operators to monetise video delivered to Apple devices. The Infusion platform enables targeted advertisements to be dynamically inserted into linear and on-demand video streams. It can scale to 150,000 insertable channels and millions of ad assets.Operators deploying Envivio encoders in the video headend or IT datacenter can deliver broadcast TV, HTTP adaptive streaming and 3GPP mobile video services. Envivio’s 4Caster software-based architecture supports various functions including encoding, transcoding, packaging, encryption, publishing and ad insertion.“Our open Infusion platform is providing the flexibility for operators to work quickly with the widest range of video formats and devices in their monetisation strategies,” said Aseem Bakshi, general manager, advertising, SeaChange. “SeaChange has been collaborating with Envivio to help operators establish advanced video services and we’re pleased to now extend integrated HLS encoding to our advertising customers.”
Belarusian pay TV operator Cosmos TV is adding entertainment channel S-TV to its network.From April 20, the channel, which airs celebrity news and fashion programming, will be available in Cosmos TV’s Entertainment and Plus packages.
South African pay TV operator MultiChoice is transforming its current M-Net Series channel into three new international series-based networks.The channels – M-Net Series Showcase, M-Net Series Reality and M-Net Series Zone – are due to go live on July 9 and will be available to premium customers of MultiChoice’s DTH pay TV platform DStv.The M-Net Showcase channel will feature US shows like Army Wives, Mad Men and Criminal Minds. Multichoice said most of the series will be seen on African TV for the first time, close to their US debuts.M-Net Series Reality will feature reality shows like Junior MasterChef and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and will also air talkshows. Meanwhile, M-Net Series Zone will be available to subscribers of the slimmed-down DStv Compact package of channels.“M-Net’s fantastic reputation in broadcasting is built on screening the world’s best movies and series. These new channels allow us to do it even better, with well-designed tailor-made schedules for every taste,” said Pierre Cloete, director of M-Net channels.Earlier this month, MultiChoice also launched the Televisa Networks-owned TLN channel. The Portuguese-language channel airs telenovelas, series and comedies, with MultiChoice adding it to portfolio of DStv channels in the main Portuguese-speaking African countries of Angola and Mozambique.
Discovery Networks has acquired the exclusive broadcast rights to RBS Six Nations Rugby in Italy.Discovery Italy has signed a four-year deal to acquire exclusive sports rights across TV, online and mobile platforms in Italy for the tournament for the 2014-17 seasons. The matches will be broadcast free-to-air and live on Discovery’s DMAX channel, which is available on the country’s digital-terrestrial platform.Discovery will run a promotional campaign across its Italian channels to promote its coverage of the sport. Discovery currently operates 12 TV channels in Italy.“This deal with the RBS Six Nations is a great opportunity for our Italian business. DMAX launched at the end of 2011 and has quickly established itself as a destination channel for men aged 20-49 and we are thrilled to be adding rugby to the breadth of content we offer on the channel,” said Dee Forbes, president and managing director, Discovery Networks Western Europe.
The new BBC iPlayer on tablet, smart phone, TV and computerThe BBC is rolling out an updated version of its iPlayer streaming service in a bid to offer a “consistent, but optimised,” experience across different screens. Due to start rolling out today, the BBC said the new version of the iPlayer has been developed using responsive design so that it can be accessed on from different sized screens without the need for separate versions to be built.It also includes a simpler and “easier to browse” homescreen, with the entire service designed to be easier to navigate.“A major focus of this release is making it easier to find something to watch, helping you quickly and easily find the programmes you know you’re looking for and, crucially, helping you discover something new. The current iPlayer’s pretty good if you know what you want to watch, but we know that 42% of visitors are now coming without a particular programme in mind,” said iPlayer boss Dan Taylor announcing the changes.The revamped iPlayer includes new BBC channels pages and different programme categories – gone is the ‘factual’ genre, replaced instead with “genres which users talk about when describing their TV viewing habits: documentaries, food, arts, history, science & nature,” said Taylor.Another new addition is ‘collections’ section that groups programmes by series, season, event or theme. A ‘recently watched’ section lets viewers quickly resume watching shows, while new search tools suggest programmes a viewer may be looking for as soon as they start typing.“I’m very proud of what the iPlayer development teams in London & Salford have built and as I mentioned, this launch is just the beginning,” said Taylor.“We’ve got ambitious plans for later in the year including extending the standard availability window from 7 days to 30 days and introducing new IP only channels (such as a Radio 1 video channel), subject to approval from the BBC Trust. We also have a raft of exciting personalisation features in mind.”The new-look iPlayer starts to roll out today on computers, tablets, mobiles and connected TVs. The iPlayer mobile and tablet apps will be updated with the new interface in the coming months.
On-demand TV software and solutions firm Espial is expanding its Ottawa, Canada, headquarters and Cambridge, UK, office to keep pace of demand for its solutions.The firm said that it is hiring more engineers and technical staff to expand its capacity and deliver user experiences for smart TV manufacturers and service providers worldwide.Espial said it was seeing demand for its TV user experience solutions based on HTML5 and Reference Design Kit (RDK) and will host a recruitment event in Ottawa on June 5, 2014.“There is tremendous interest from service providers around the world in deploying compelling and responsive HTML5-based TV user experiences for their consumers. We are scaling our technical capacity to meet these customer demands as we establish our leadership in these markets,” said Espial’s chief technology officer Kumanan Yogaratnam.
The SopranosRussian cable operator Akado has added drama series channel Amedia Hit to its programming line as part of the Amedia Premium package.Akado is offering the channel, which airs US shows including The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, Sex and the City and The Wire, in both SD and HD formats.Akado says it has added 35 new channels since November 2013, with eight channels, including services from Viacom International Media Networks, added in December.Akado now offers a total of about 220 digital channels.
ITV has taken a majority stake in Cirkus, the best-of-British on-demand service.The UK broadcaster was already a minority shareholder, but has now upped its ownership level in the streaming service.Financial details were not broken out but Martin Goswami, ITV director of pay and distribution, said: “Cirkus is an important part of ITV’s international pay television distribution strategy.“We look forward to accelerating the growth of the business through investment in exclusive content rights and supporting its development as it expands into new territories.”Cirkus was launched in 2013, as first reported by DTVE sister title TBI, and ITV’s initial investment was made a year after. The platform packages UK content from a range of suppliers including BBC Worldwide and Endemol Shine Group.ITV Studios is also a supplier, giving titles including Poldark, Vera and Lewis to Cirkus for its British-flavoured on-demand service that pay TV operators can add to their line-up as they compete with the likes of Netflix.Cirkus has launched services with Boxer and Com Hem among others in the Nordic region, and has branched out from drama to factual with the launch of the Curio brand.In recent times it has started to take exclusive rights to shows including ITV-distributed Victoria and Content Television’s Line of Duty.Cirkus bosses Mark Bradford and Hugh Williams jointly said: “ITV’s decision to step-up its investment is a tremendous vote of confidence for Cirkus.“Being the Nordic on-demand TV business of one of Europe’s largest and most successful vertically integrated content and television businesses will strengthen our position in the market enormously.”
Ukrainian cable operator Volia has added Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America’s news service Nastoyashcheye Vremya (Current Time), to its offering.Nastoyashcheye Vremya was launched, initially as a news programme aimed at Russian speakers, by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America as a joint venture in partnership with public and private broadcasters and Internet portals in Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, and Ukraine. It offered a 30-minute news and magazine show as a counter voice to Russian state media.Volia will air the channel in all cities where it is present as part of its digital packages.