Quick workouts for men Comments Share Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “This army has to be completely restructured,” he said. “Today, it acts more as a somewhat disparate set of elements, put together on request and on an emergency basis in order to cope with a tough combat situation … It’s not an army as such.”Restructuring it will be an “immense task,” he said. The army needs to observe strict subordination to the political sphere, and trust needs to be restored between the army’s high command and the troops, he said.In March 2012, the army took power in a coup. It ostensibly handed power back to civilians, but then in December it arrested the prime minister, who announced his resignation on state television after soldiers had stormed his house.The army has now pledged to return the country to democracy.The EU mission will be composed of about 550 people, with about 200 of them being trainers, the rest being there to provide such elements as protection and medical care.Each battalion will be trained an average of 2 1/2 months, Lecointre said. And two or three months after the training has been completed, an operational assessment of the battalion will be conducted to determine whether it is continuing to improve, he said. BRUSSELS (AP) – The general leading the European Union training mission to Mali said Tuesday that molding the country’s army into a cohesive and effective force will entail “a huge amount of work.”A small team of advisers from the EU has been evaluating the Malian army since February 18. And its needs, said Brig. Gen. Francois Lecointre, the mission commander, are “considerable.”“It is the army of a very poor country,” Lecointre told reporters. “And the army is very much underequipped and underendowed in budgetary terms.” Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Training is scheduled to start April 2.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Now that it is seeing combat, as French and African troops work to wrest control of northern Mali from radical Islamists and other rebel groups, it has come “face-to-face with its shortcomings,” Lecointre said. Among them, he said, are a shortage of basic equipment, such as arms, vehicles and radios, and a poor ability to plan and execute military campaigns.Officials said the commitment of EU member countries to the training mission remained strong despite fierce fighting in the north of the country, where three French soldiers have been killed since the French operation began in January.Peteris Ustubs, the EU’s top diplomat for West and Central Africa, said he had seen no sign of EU members pulling back on their commitments to send personnel to Mali. And Lecointre said the trainers would be “well back from the front lines” and would not see combat, though a terrorist attack would be conceivable.The goal of the mission is to train four battalions _ half of the Malian army _ so the army can keep the country secure. A battalion can include anywhere from 300 to 1,000 soldiers.Lecointre said the Malian army includes about 6,000 soldiers; 4,000 others are support personnel. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis
An initiative to encourage more travellers to visit the state, Maharashtra Tourism Development Commission (MTDC) has formulated a new range of budget holiday packages.The new budget tour packages include a discount of 25% on bookings for Indian tourists residing outside Maharashtra, and a discount of 20% on bookings for senior citizens (age 65+).A 10% discount is applicable for NRIs who book for Maharashtra tour through MTDC, while 20% discounts are valid for trips to destinations including Ganpatipule, Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, Ajanta T Junction, Ajante, Bhandardara, Malshej Ghat, Chikhaldar, Panshed, Holy pilgrims on Shirdi, Kaila, Nagpur, Truvada and Tuljapur.Students (aged 6-16) from schools across the state can enjoy a discount of 20% on bookings from Monday to Friday, and complimentary food will be available. The offer is valid for schools in Pune, Aurangabad, Ratnagiri, Nashik, Mumbai and Nagpur.MTDC has also updated its rate card with a 10% and 20% discount on bookings made during on-season and off-season respectively. It has also designed special packages for tours all over Maharashtra.
Review: A goofy, sweet and modern spin on Arthurian legend The Arthurian legend gets a modern and more youthful spin in “The Kid Who Would Be King ,” a surprisingly delightful film full of action, heart, a crazy-haired Patrick Stewart (as “old” Merlin) and a few genuinely good gags, and it really couldn’t have come at a better time.It’s an Amblin-esque movie about fantasy, geek culture and outcasts that’s actually been made for modern kids — not nostalgic adults who crave both the cozy comfort of the things they grew up with, but, like, with way more violence, gore and nudity. “The Kid Who Would Be King” reclaims the fantasy genre for actual kids of today. And it’s not even set in the 1980s.You can thank writer and director Joe Cornish for the restraint (although the score is pretty heavy on the synths). The film is his follow-up to “Attack the Block,” the cult sci-fi hit that helped put “Star Wars’” John Boyega on the map. Here he introduces audiences to some other young talents to watch, including Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Andy Serkis’ son, as the would-be-king, Alex.Alex is a normal and slightly dorky lower-middle class British schoolkid, living with his mom (Denise Gough). He struggles with everyday stuff — waking up on time, completing his school assignments and protecting his buddy, Bedders (a truly wonderful Dean Chaumoo), from schoolyard bullies named Lance and Kaye, but he’s trying his best.Then one night, running from Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rihanna Dorris), Alex spots a sword in the middle of a construction site and removes it from the stone with ease. He and Bedders plug the inscription into Google translate and try to keep their imaginations in check when they realize that it might be real, but, both the audience and the boys will fail at this.From here, the film just gets grander and weirder, with the introduction of Young Merlin (featuring a brilliant comedic performance from Angus Imrie), and the enemy, Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). Morgana, we’re told, is Arthur’s power-crazy half-sister who has been waiting for centuries for the perfect moment to rise. Although Brexit isn’t explicitly mentioned, it is the not-so-subtle context for all of this.When creatures start attacking at night, Bedders and Alex decide to enlist Lance and Kaye to help. They might be bullies, but they’re also the strongest, and Alex figures it’s worth the risk. And what follows is a big, classic quest as the four kids journey through the countryside and learn about sword fighting, the chivalric code, teamwork, trust, and the Lady of the Lake (who can be conjured in any body of water). Although basically unknowns, all the young actors have charm to spare and carry the film admirably.“The Kid Who Would Be King” really is quite a sweet and well-told reimagining of this story that’s fit for the whole family. And it is refreshing that it’s not trying to be too dark or edgy, although it definitely overstays its welcome, clocking in at over two hours. But it’s a small price to pay for something so enjoyable on its own that might also just get some kids to start reading about Arthur and Lancelot as well.“The Kid Who Would Be King,” a 20th Century Fox release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for “fantasy action violence, scary images, thematic elements including some bullying, and language.” Running time: 132 minutes. Three stars out of four.___MPAA Definition of PG: Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.___Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahrLindsey Bahr, The Associated Press This image released by 20th Century Fox shows, from left, Rhianna Dorris, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Angus Imrie, Dean Chaumoo, and Tom Taylor in a scene from “The Kid Who Would Be King.” (Kerry Brown/20th Century Fox via AP) AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press Posted Jan 22, 2019 7:35 am PDT
01Feb Rep. Lower proposes increased accountability for university trustees Categories: Lower News If approved by voters, current MSU trustees would be eliminated and replacedState Rep. James Lower today unveiled legislation calling for a constitutional amendment changing the selection process for future members of the boards governing Michigan State University, Wayne State University and the University of Michigan, as well as the state school board.“I believe voters should have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not the current system is working,” said Lower, of Cedar Lake. “We need to place this on the ballot this year.”Lower said it is time to bring these three schools in line with every other university in the state, where trustee appointments are made by the governor.“I have long considered the nomination and election process for these positions to be problematic. Voters often simply opt for the most recognizable names, or randomly bubble in their choice,” Lower said. “This situation, coupled with eight-year terms, leads to very little accountability and a lack of thorough vetting.”Under Lower’s proposal, House Joint Resolution DD, the existing board of trustees at Michigan State University, the existing elected regents of the University of Michigan, the existing board of governors at Wayne State University and the existing state school board would be abolished on Dec. 31, 2018.On Jan. 1, 2019, the governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, would appoint eight members to each governing board. Of the eight members, two would be appointed for two-year terms, two for four years, two for six years and two for eight years. At the expiration of the original term, successors would serve eight-year terms.The legislation will be formally introduced Tuesday and referred to a House committee for consideration.If House Joint Resolution DD is approved by two-thirds of both the House and Senate, it will be placed on the statewide general election ballot for voter consideration.###
Energy Policy Committee continues inquiry 15Feb Rep. LaFave wants answers for recent high utility bills Categories: LaFave News,News State Rep. Beau LaFave today said he and others serving on the House Energy Policy Committee are dedicated to getting more information on skyrocketing electric bills that some people say have doubled or tripled in cost this winter.LaFave, of Iron Mountain, said the panel heard testimony from one utility company about the sudden increase in charges. While representatives of that utility testified that prolonged bitter cold weather might be responsible for the higher costs, LaFave said he wants more information.“This is a major concern for people across the state, and the Energy Policy Committee is determined to get to the bottom of this,” LaFave said. “Some families are barely making ends meet, and an exorbitant electric bill compared to past billings can do serious damage to their budgets.”The committee plans to hear additional testimony regarding the issue.###
New laws sponsored by two Macomb County representatives will help Michigan communities seeking to secure state funds to deal with disasters.Bills sponsored by state Reps. Steve Marino and Diana Farrington were recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder. The new laws increase the minimum balance of the state disaster fund to $2.5 million – up from $1 million. The maximum allowable grants to local governments are also increased, based on population.“We can’t afford delays in assistance when a catastrophe like the Fraser sinkhole develops,” said Marino, of Harrison Township. “By increasing the amount of money readily available in this fund, communities should receive the money they need when they need it.”Farrington, of Utica, sponsored the new tier system that bases the maximum allowable amount of aid on a community’s population.“The previous limits on assistance were simply insufficient, particularly for larger communities facing greater expenses in the immediate aftermath of a disaster,” Farrington said. “Our new laws provide more flexibility so sufficient assistance can be delivered without needless delays.”House Bills 4609 and 4610 are now Public Acts 263 and 264 of 2018.### Categories: Diana Farrington News,News 09Jul Reps. Farrington, Marino: Plan to improve state disaster funding signed into law
Categories: Alexander News,News Legislation heads to governor for considerationThe Michigan House and Senate recently approved legislation introduced by state Rep. Julie Alexander updating the law to allow drivers to safely operate their vehicles with lightly tinted windows on Michigan roads.Many technological improvements have taken place since window tinting was regulated in 1980, and Alexander’s plan aligns with what is currently being manufactured.Most vehicle window tinting today is designed to filter light, giving drivers the ability to see the road much better than they could with the old tint technology.“This common-sense legislation allows drivers to safely operate their vehicles on Michigan roads without breaking the law,” said Alexander, of Hanover. “Law-abiding citizens should not be pulled over and cited for driving a car that aligns with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.”“If individuals place an additional film on their windows, tinting darker than this bill allows, a medical exemption is still required,” Alexander said.House Bill 5634 is now headed to the governor for consideration.### 19Dec Rep. Alexander offers plan to update vehicle window tint
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesMay 19, 2014; Washington PostHow long will it take for the Boy Scouts to bring that other foot into this century? As the Boy Scouts of America started their 2014 annual meeting, 17-year-old Pascal Tessier, an openly gay Eagle Scout, delivered a petition signed by 120,000 people to Amazon, asking the retail giant to stop funding the Boy Scouts as part of its AmazonSmile program.Last year, at its annual meeting, the Boy Scouts made the destined-for-trouble decision to allow gay scouts but to continue to exclude adult gay scout leaders, a group which Tessier would age into next year.A spokesman for Amazon defended the inclusion of the Boy Scouts by saying that “We rely on lists published by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control to determine if certain organizations are ineligible to participate.”Tessier used Change.org to gather signatures after he found that AmazonSmile prohibits the funding of organizations that “engage in, support, encourage, or promote: intolerance, discrimination or discriminatory practices based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age.” NPQ might suggest that the use of a list produced by Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, might not catch all groups that are discriminatory.Tessier said, “We’re just asking Amazon to stand by its own policy, and its commitment to the LGBT community.”Tessier wants to continue to participate in the Boy Scouts, but “the likelihood of that happening is very slim,” he said, “because there is so little time to change so many minds.”—Ruth McCambridgeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share7TweetShareEmail7 SharesJanuary 25, 2016; Next City“Pockets of urban decay fester like bad teeth in some otherwise healthy—some say even dynamic—areas. Some pockets are big, of course, sometimes covering streets or blocks. Some are smaller, narrowed to one lot.”This is the way that Toby Sells of NextCity.org describes the blight in Memphis. Within the Memphis city limits, there are more than 53,000 vacant properties, and since vacancies are the leading cause of blight, the city is plagued by the problem. Approximately nine percent of the county’s parcels of land have not had taxes paid on them for three to four years.This, and the sudden availability of $7 million in federal funds (unfortunately dubbed “free money” by one city councilman) through the Tennessee Housing and Development Authority, has led to the establishment of a new nonprofit land bank called the Blight Authority of Memphis, or BAM. The organization was established with a resolution from the Memphis city council, and the first meeting of its nine-member board was held last Thursday.There is, as we mentioned above, no doubt that the money is needed to address the scale and realm of the problem. (In fact, far more money is needed than would be available even if Memphis were to get the entire pool.) This particular money appears to provide for more flexibility than existing land banks in the area, but the effort would require a collective lift between nonprofits and the city and county. Our experience is that when entities collaborate only in response to the presence of money—and precious little money at that—that the effort can easily be run off track. But if it is one more tool in the collective box of already tight or potentially tight collaborators, there may be significant value added.“This is an area where there is not a clear leader to take title to properties that nobody wants, to assemble land that’s not just taken in tax sale, to help build on what the county land bank can do, to bring it to a new level of community development,” Steve Barlow, a board member of BAM and the director of Neighborhood Preservation, said.The city and county do have a big stake in eliminating blight. Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir says that delinquent taxes cost taxpayers around $35 million each year.“Clearly there are other social and community issues related to blight, but purely from an economic perspective, there’s no doubt it is a drain on our resources,” Lenoir said. “We pay higher taxes across the county because of the blight in our community. The property value impact that it has on surrounding properties has a direct impact on our county revenues.”And so do nonprofits. Brandon Gaitor of Neighborhood Preservation, Inc., says that the problem of blight in Shelby County is “truly huge.”“People haven’t yet solidified how big it really is,” Gaitor said. “They think we’re treating minor scratches, when we’re really treating fatal wounds.”—Ruth McCambridgeShare7TweetShareEmail7 Shares
Share1TweetShare1Email2 Shares“Empty Billboard” by Pat GuineyJune 26, 2017; WTAE (Pittsburgh, PA)The city of Pittsburgh and Lamar Advertising have history. In particular, the two are embroiled in a lawsuit over the legality of a billboard on Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh and the tax implications that come with it. Now, it appears some nonprofits have been brought into the dispute, as Pittsburgh’s mayor, Bill Peduto, is alleging that Lamar is withdrawing from plans to support green infrastructure and community development initiatives.One nonprofit, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, seems to confirm the withdrawal of support from Lamar but did not go as far as to say it was due to the company’s legal dispute with Pittsburgh. The mayor of Pittsburgh calls this “bullying” nonprofits to gain leverage in negotiations. Lamar, an outdoor (billboard) advertising company, is understandably reluctant to give up any advertising property that it owns, as those billboards are their source of revenue. Nine Mile Run Watershed Association makes clear that any projects it conducts would not require that Lamar take down any existing billboards.Coming to a head here are at least two issues that seem to be poorly defined, or at least understood. The first is the ownership of the land in question. As the article reads, Lamar was cooperating with a purchaser of the land on which the sign sits, and has recently decided to cease cooperation. Insofar as the contracts between parties allow, this seems reasonable, albeit troubling.The second issue seems to be a zoning matter, although it is not clear in the article what about the billboard is problematic besides its being “illegal.” It seems that finding a solution will depend on determining the legal status of the billboard first. If it is indeed ruled illegal, the value of that land to Lamar drops, and probably sharply. That might not be a bad thing for the nonprofit purchasing the land. After the legal dispute is resolved, then it becomes Lamar’s job to do with that land what it wishes. The Coase Theorem suggests that the land will go to whomever values it the most. However, Lamar may decide not sell to a nonprofit (be it the highest bidder or not) because of its toxic relationship with the city.In any event, these nonprofits have been put in the unenviable position of being thrust into a legal dispute that they did not start. It will be interesting to see how future negotiations between nonprofits and Pittsburgh—and nonprofits and Lamar—are impacted by this affair.—Sean WattersonShare1TweetShare1Email2 Shares
Share15TweetShareEmail15 Shares“President George W. Bush stands with former law clerks of Judge Samuel Alito as he delivers a statement in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building.”October 18, 2019; New York Times and SlateThe perks that come with nonprofit status can be both a blessing and a curse. There is an expectation of transparency for those organizations to which the government grants tax exemption for their charitable works and whose donors receive tax deductions. But sometimes, there is a clash between transparency and ethics for nonprofits. This was clearly demonstrated by the conservative Heritage Foundation this past week after it proudly announced its Federal Clerkship Training Academy—a program shrouded in secrecy and clearly intended to influence the federal courts.For a newly minted lawyer, clerking for a federal or Supreme Court judge can be the ticket to a career position with the law firm of one’s dreams, in academia, or in government work. It could possibly even be a stepping stone to a judicial appointment at a future date. The role of judicial clerkships can be one of great influence. It is law clerks who provide direct assistance and counsel to their judge as they make legal decisions. Often, it is legal clerks who write drafts of opinions and do much of the background research on issues that are before the court. Judicial clerks can play significant roles in the formation of case law due to their influence on a judge’s decisions. None of this was lost on the conservative Heritage Foundation.The Heritage Foundation posted information on their website proudly launching their Federal Clerkship Training Academy. This three-day program was to take place in February 2019 for accepted applicants who have already secured clerkships on the federal judiciary for 2019. According to the application, some of the topics covered would include “originalism, textualism, habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, and other substantive legal and practical subject matter, all aimed at preparing attendees to excel as clerks in the US federal court system. Faculty will include several distinguished judges who currently serve on US Circuit Courts of Appeals, and several professors who teach at various prominent law schools.”This all seems on the up-and-up. But a cry of “foul play” has gone up from the left around this seemingly benign training program. And the reasons may be rooted deeply in the mission of the Heritage Foundation.The Heritage Foundation Federal Clerkship Training Academy application form asked the usual background questions, but also for the applicant’s judicial philosophy, including their understanding of originalism, which SCOTUS justice’s philosophy (past or present) most aligns with theirs, and how they expect to use their upcoming clerkship in the future. Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern also indicates that the applicants are also asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement indicating “you won’t reveal who teaches the academy or what they say, and vow that you will not use any information you receive ‘for any purpose contrary to the mission or interest of The Heritage Foundation.’”In a thorough look at the foundation’s website and the form and materials related to this academy, a copy of this non-disclosure form was not accessible. It had quickly been removed in response to the outcry from the negative publicity. But, just the idea of a secretive training program based on the conservative mission of the Heritage Foundation has raised questions about political bias that might come with clerks who might come through this training. Could these clerks have possibly pledged to promote specific values and judicial perspectives to influence the outcomes of cases they work on?For the Heritage Foundation, this Academy would seem to be another logical step in its goal, clearly stated on its website, to build a conservative, right-wing federal judiciary. For others who do not share this philosophy, this is another means of undermining the concept of an independent federal judiciary. While, as Stern indicates, no federal clerks are expected to leave their ideology outside the courthouse door, they should be suspending their biases within the judge’s chambers as they work on cases.Nobody seriously expects these Federalist Society alumni to shed their partisan principles on day one. But traditionally, most clerks really have set aside their priors to follow the lead of their judges. Clerks might maintain a certain jurisprudential philosophy, like originalism, but they aren’t supposed to start the gig hoping that, say, businesses always win or Democrats always lose.In the end, the Heritage Foundation needed to walk back its plans for the Federal Clerkship Training Academy. It happened in two steps on Thursday, October 18th. A first inquiry to the press office of the Heritage Foundation as to the “missing” nondisclosure agreement on the application website was answered with the following statement: “Thanks for reaching out to Heritage. This is a private program. The applications are due on October 26. There is limited space and Heritage will only be admitting the most qualified applicants.” This was the same statement initially given to the New York Times. This was followed an hour later by an updated statement from Greg Scott, director of media at the Heritage Foundation: “Heritage is reevaluating the Federal Clerkship Training Academy. As a result, the program will not go on as scheduled.”Now, questions remain as to why this program was taken down. Was it the pressure of donors and funders of this program who do not want their names revealed? Was it the Academy faculty who were rethinking their association with this program and its impact on their integrity and ethics? Could it have been the overall pressure on a conservative nonprofit to push its mission a bit too far over the ethical line? Or might the secrecy and pledges of nondisclosure have led to the downfall? But there are lessons here for any nonprofit that has great success and seeks to build on it. There are still limits, and there are still public expectations.These are scary times for the federal courts, as public faith in government is at historic lows. While the judicial system is the last branch to be taken to task, actions of organizations like the Heritage Foundation to influence the federal judiciary could mean that the system is no longer seen as a fair arbiter for all people. Those who work within the court system should be accountable to that system and not to the mission of an outside organization that has trained them and pledged them to secrecy. The fairness and equity of our laws and the future of our democracy may depend on this.—Carole LevineShare15TweetShareEmail15 Shares
Share45Tweet20ShareEmail65 Shares March 5, 2019; The Star (Canadian Press)A well-timed report by Oxfam Canada assesses federal progress in Canada on issues of women’s rights and gender equality and expressions of concern in numerous policy areas, including gender-based violence and future directions for investments and approach to child care.Turning Feminist Progress into Lasting Change: Feminist Scorecard 2019 is the third such report since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government took power in November 2015, with a campaign platform that featured unprecedented commitments to women’s issues. The report assesses the steps the government took between March 2018 and February 2019 to make meaningful progress towards achieving women’s rights and gender equality across eight policy areas: representation and leadership, global development, climate change and extractive industries, care work. gender-based violence, tax, conflict and crisis, and jobs and pay equity.Lauren Ravon, director of policy and campaigns for Oxfam Canada, expressed enthusiasm for some of the concrete achievements to date. “Some of the major milestones that we hit in 2018 are really significant,” she said. “We got pay-equity legislation, gender-budgeting legislation—these are things that will make a difference in people’s lives.”Ravon pointed to outcomes from the Poverty Reduction Act (as discussed by NPQ last week), the creation of the Department of Women and Gender Equality, and the doubling of funding for Canadian women’s movements as important for the advancement of women’s rights in Canada.These positive sentiments are tempered with concerns about long-term impact:The one major problem that we’re seeing is that these new initiatives don’t have the bold investments that would be required to achieve long-lasting change. So yes, there’s lots of initiative being taken, but there’s not enough money to actually resource these initiatives and make sure they can impact the most people.Improvements to child care and reduction of gender-based violence are two of the key concerns identified in the scorecard, and this is echoed by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) report, The Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada 2019, which looks at women’s issues with a focus on municipal data.The CCPA report is also supportive of initiatives introduced at the federal level to improve gender equity but notes that disparities continue to exist in major cities across the country. For example, while women are now more equally represented in the federal cabinet, they continue to be underrepresented in local governments, making up just one-third of municipal councilors and only five mayors (out of the 26 municipalities in the report).CCPA senior researcher Katherine Scott also finds “very troubling” indications that levels of violence against women are on the rise, and also points to ongoing issues with employment fairness, noting that women continue to be paid less than their male counterparts and are still not promoted to upper management positions as often as men.“One of the critical issues, which remains important certainly for women’s rates of employment, is child care,” she added. “At this stage, Canada is one of the only OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries that does not have a national, sustained commitment to childcare, to building a national system, and it’s an extraordinary barrier to women. That’s certainly one policy area that would translate to more employment and more economic benefit for the country as a whole.” (Quebec has a provincial model, but it has not been extended nationally).With a looming March 19th federal budget, Oxfam Canada and other nonprofit organizations with a focus on women’s issues are sure to put a spotlight on child care issues and will attempt to ensure that this continues in the lead-up to the October 21st federal election. The Oxfam report, in giving a “yellow” (some progress) grade to “Investing in the Care Economy,” has positioned these concerns not only as a gender fairness issue, but also as having implications for the overall economic health of the country.Responsibility for unpaid care work is one of the biggest hurdles to women’s economic equality. Women around the world spend 16.4 billion hours a year doing housework and taking care of children and sick and elderly family members. If this amount of work was carried out by a single company, it would make an annual profit of $13.2 trillion, 43 times that of Apple. Yet, unpaid care work keeps many women trapped in poverty by preventing them from pursuing employment and educational opportunities. It not only hurts women but has major implications for economic growth.While there is little disagreement about the need for increased access to child care, debate over approach (and cost) is expected to be intense and may break down in a similar fashion to what is playing out currently at the provincial level. In Ontario, the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Doug Ford has introduced an omnibus bill, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, which includes changes to child care regulations that took many advocates by surprise. Coupled with a previous move that increase access to public dollars by for-profit child care providers, the non-profit child care sector is concerned about what they see as a trend to lower cost, less regulated private sector solutions, what detractors describe as “big box child care.”The new omnibus bill will impact on the regulation of smaller private child care services. After a number of incidents with private operators of home day care services, including several deaths, the previous Liberal government in Ontario introduced several restrictions back in 2014.Commenting on the easing of these restrictions, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development Todd Smith described the 2014 decision as a “knee-jerk reaction” and said the proposed changes would give parents more options and help them get back into the workforce faster. “This is something that’s not going to cost government anything but it’s going to create much needed spaces in the child-care sector,” he said. “It’s going to allow young families who are having children the ability to get back to work earlier.”Contrast this message with opposition parties and some child care experts describing these changes as “reckless” and “going backwards.” It seems the battle lines have been drawn over two distinctly different approaches to expansion of child care access: greater public-dollar investment in regulated nonprofit child care versus expansion through lowered costs and more participation from the for-profit sector.— Keenan WellarShare45Tweet20ShareEmail65 Shares
Chello Central Europe has extended the reach of kids channel Megamax in Hungary with a launch on Magyar Telekom’s T-Home DTH and IPTV platforms. The channel is now available in over one million Hungarian households.Megamax targets 7-14 year olds and offers local Hungarian-dubbed versions of animation series including Transformers, Battle Force, Twisted Whiskers, Dex Hamilton, Iron Kid and Metajets.
Cisco’s acquisition of NDS will enable it to achieve greater penetration into emerging and international markets, and is in line with a move towards open standards-based and software-based solutions for video service providers, and a move towards mobile broadband according to Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers and NDS executive chairman Abe Peled.Cisco is to acquire NDS for approximately US$5 billion (€3.8 billion), including the assumption of debt and retention-based incentives. The US technology company said that the acquisition of the News Corp-backed interactive TV and conditional access company would accelerate the delivery of its Videoscape platform for video service providers.The acquisition is expected to close during the second half of 2012, subject to regulatory review in the US and elsewhere.Cisco said the acquisition is generally in line with the EBITDA multiples paid when NDS was taken private by News Corp and private-equity group Permira in 2009, and is within the multiples ranges for comparable deals.Speaking at a press presentation on the deal, Peled said there was not a large overlap between Cisco and NDS. Peled said that NDS was particularly strong in Latin America, India China and other emerging markets. In those markets, LTE and mobile will be used to deliver broadband and in this area in particular the tie-up with Cisco will deliver benefits, he said, citing the example of India’s Bharti Airtel as a company where the pair could play a complementary role. “In some cases in these countries the transition to next generation broadband will happen a lot faster and…Cisco’s strength will play well in offering people like Bharti Airtel a partner that can give them the solution end-to-end and a road map for the way forward.”Peled said there was a great fit between the Videoscape back-end infrastructure and NDS’s client software. Growth of internet-based video was just at the beginning of its growth curve and all pay TV operators were looking to deliver services.Cisco’s Chambers said the acquisition will change Cisco’s position in video and move the company more into the software space. “The service provide market is in a rapid transition,” he said, “NDS has been very effective in capturing market transitions.” He said NDS’s business model was very close to what Cisco was trying to do as a company and described the deal as possibly the best strategic acquisition Cisco had yet made: “It doesn’t get much more strategic than this.” He said NDS benefited from recurring revenues and strong ongoing customer relationships, which was something Cisco aspired to.Peled said that about half of NDS’s revenues were recurring, based on service contracts, while other customers often started by buying smartcards and then bought into the company’s other products, which then became recurring revenues. “It’s a very large percentage and it’s aligned with how our customers grow their own business,” he said. This meant that the company had good visibility to revenues going forward, he said.Chambers said its service provider video group (formerly Scientific Atlanta) was still growing strongly. “This just really means we are accelerating that,” he said. “We will continue to have growth in our traditional business, but any set-top player can play in this new open architecture. This is the open approach and we’ll just add value on top of it, but it will migrate with things like we do with our BNI acquisition,” he said, referring to the acquisition of CDN specialist BNI Video last year. He said the former Scientific Atlanta team understood the direction the company was taking with the NDS merger. Differentiation in the future would be through software and the cloud, based on open standards, rather than in proprietary hardware solutions, he said. He said it would be a mistake for Cisco to focus on “being in the device business”.Martin de Beer senior vice-president, video and collaboration group, Cisco, said that NDS would remain set-top agnostic and that the combined company would make sure its platform remained open and standards-based.De Beer said the markets the pair were involved with were complementary. “The way NDS goes to market with an integration approach…got us really excited,” he said. While Cisco brings end-to-end video distribution systems, with strength in developed countries, NDS provides recurring revenue streams and strength in emerging markets, said De Beer. He said the merger gave Cisco a “market-leading portfolio” that “addresses the entire customer base”.Prior to the close, Cisco and NDS will continue to operate as separate companies. Upon completion of the transaction, NDS’s global operations, including sites in the United Kingdom, Israel, France, India and China, and its approximately 5,000 employees will join the Cisco service provider video technology group (SPVTG), led by senior vice-president and general manager Jesper Andersen. Peled will become senior vice-president and chief strategist for Cisco’s video and collaboration group, of which SPVTG is a part, reporting to De Beer.Chambers said he did not believe there would be any significant hurdles to securing regulatory approval for the acquisition.
UK pay TV operator BSkyB has secured a raft of England cricket deals.The operator has signed deals to air six overseas tours that will see England play Australia, South Africa and India between 2012 and 2020. The rights package means Sky will remain the live rights holder for the Ashes test series between England and Australia.Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said; “The Ashes is one of world sport’s greatest events and we can now guarantee the next three series, home and away. Test cricket has always been core to Sky Sports and it continues this winter with the start of a six-year deal with India. Then, as England look to take the test crown back from South Africa our viewers can see their next two series in South Africa.”
Swiss telco Swisscom is testing fibre-to-the-street (FTTS) technology for the first time in the municipality of Grandfontaine.The telco said FTTS would enable it to roll out fibre networks outside major urban centres much sooner.Swisscom is connecting nearly all households and commercial properties in Grandfontaine to the FTTS network, giving its customers access to up to 100Mbps broadband and HD TV services from the first quarter of 2013. Fibre-optic cables will be laid from the exchange in Rocourt to a neighbourhood distribution cabinet situated approximately 200 metres from the houses. The remaining distance to homes will be covered by copper cables.By the end of 2020, Swisscom is planning to provide around 80% of Swiss households with ultra-fast broadband using a mix of technologies.
Mobile TV specialist Yamgo TV has launched a Facebook social TV app which it says has already signed up over 9,000 users.According to Yamgo, the app has brought over 100 licensed linear TV channels to the social network, allowing users to watch TV services through Facebook. Content partners include Sony SAB, France 24 and Zee TV.The app allows users to share their viewing activity with friends via the Facebook Open Graph.Ian Mullins, the founder and CEO of Yamgo said, “Watching TV has become a huge social experience, we’re not just watching along with the people in our living rooms anymore, we’re watching with the whole world. In terms of social TV, Twitter has received a lot of attention regarding television lately for their research with Nielsen and their purchase of Bluefin Labs but Facebook also has a lot to offer as an entertainment platform – the success of current games and applications on the platform are a great example of the potential growth possibilities that the social network offers.”Yamgo has built a range of smartphone apps and desktop and mobile websites.
Vivendi is expected to name Jean-Yves Charlier as the new CEO of telco SFR, according to a report in financial daily Les Echos.According to Les Echos, which did not specify its sources, the appointment of Charlier, currently deputy CEO in charge of telecoms at Vivendi, will replace Stéphane Roussel, who will retain the role of president of the company.SFR is currently undergoing a restructuring plan that will lead to expected job cuts amounting to 1,120 posts.Vivendi, which is in the process of refocusing its activities on the media sector, has been under pressure to sell one or more of its telecom units.
The UK government is taking a close interest in dynamic spectrum access, or ‘White Space’ technology, according to Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and creative industries, speaking at the DTG Summit in London this morning.Vaizey said a programme of legislation to facilitate dynamic spectrum access would be set out in the government’s forthcoming communications White Paper.Vaizey said that White Paper would not set out a prescriptive regulatory regime when things are changing so rapidly, and indicated that changes to the current regulatory regime for communications would be relatively modest.“A lot of the regulations are still valid and important, and broadcasters are quite relaxed about them,” he said. The government had pulled back from tearing up the existing regulatory regime, even if there may be some amendments to Ofcom’s powers, he added.Vaizey also said the government had placed its bet on the successful creation of a new “sub-sector in the media framework” in the form of local TV channels, with the expectation that the first channel to be licensed would come on air before the end of the year.
Russian pay TV operator Tricolor TV has passed 10 million paying subscribers, according to the company. Tricolor TV said the number of active paying subscribers to its service had increased by 1.2 million since the start of this year, while the total base, including those with free access to a basic package of 10 channels, had increased by 1.9 million.Tricolor TV, in partnership with its technology supplier GS Group, will move ahead with plans to replace existing standard definition set-tops with HD models, according to local reports.