Challenging times for Florida with travel intent down 15 Allianz Global Assistance

first_img Travelweek Group Tags: Allianz, Florida, Zika Posted by RICHMOND, VA — Florida and specifically Miami are being hit hard by fallout from the Zika virus. An analysis of travellers’ booking intent by Allianz Global Assistance shows the number of Americans planning to travel to Florida over the peak fall/winter season dropped by almost 15% following the discovery of locally-transmitted Zika virus in Miami.On Aug. 1 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel warning for people heading to South Florida after finding that Zika was being spread by mosquitoes in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami-Dade County, and later in a section of Miami Beach.  The warning for Wynwood was recently lifted.Allianz Global Assistance reviewed more than 940,000 Americans’ travel plans made during the month of August for the peak fall/winter vacation season from mid-November 2016 to mid-April 2017 and compared the results with the same period last year. The number of travellers planning to book flights to Miami was down 29.11%, while the state of Florida as a whole was down 14.84%.More news:  AMResorts has a new Sr. Dir. of Cdn. Sales & Consortia Rel’nsExcluding Miami, which has been hardest hit by negative publicity surrounding Zika, the remainder of the state recorded a 12.4% decrease in travelers that intended to book flights during the fall/winter season. Other areas that have recorded locally-transmitted cases of Zika virus also experienced a decrease in booking intent at nearby airports, including Tampa (-32.79%) and Palm Beach (-15.51%). Sharecenter_img Tuesday, September 27, 2016 Challenging times for Florida with travel intent down 15%: Allianz Global Assistance << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Costa Rica records lowest poverty figures in seven years

first_imgCosta Rica reduce la pobreza y alcanza índice más bajo en los últimos 7 años. Fuente: INEC pic.twitter.com/yblIuv59Zt— Luis Guillermo Solís (@luisguillermosr) October 26, 2016 The Costa Rican Union of Private Sector Chambers and Associations said they agree with results of the survey.Chamber President Franco Pacheco said in a statement that the positive data from INEC’s research are a direct result of coordinated work by government agencies, which has provided continuous support to education and promoted the creation of new jobs.He noted, however, that in order to create new jobs in the private sector, the government needs to “further improve the business climate to attract investment, both domestic and foreign, and also improve efficiency in public spending.”MethodologyINEC’s research determined the poverty threshold using values measured by two different indices: the poverty line index and the multi-dimensional poverty index.The first one evaluates the relation between a household’s income and the cost of a set of basic goods, or canasta básica, established by the Economy Ministry.The multi-dimensional poverty index takes into account 19 indicators distributed in five areas: education, housing, health, employment and access to social protection.Evaluations from both indices resulted in Costa Rica’s poverty levels going down by 1.2 percent. Facebook Comments Related posts:Dollar exchange rate reaches highest price in seven years Dollar exchange rate down following Central Bank’s intervention announcement Costa Rica drops two spots in global competitiveness ranking Government tables draft bills aimed at approving fiscal reformscenter_img An increase in the average income of the population reduced poverty levels by 1.2 percent in Costa Rica. That is one of the main findings of the 2016 National Household Survey conducted by the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC).INEC released survey results on Wednesday that showed 20.5 percent of Tico households live in poverty.The figure represents an improvement from last year, when the survey found 21.7 percent of people were poor. It also is the lowest poverty figure recorded in the past seven years, INEC reported.The change translates to 10,390 families who are no longer considered poor, raising the number of Costa Rican families above the poverty line from 307,270 households in last year’s survey to 317,660 this year.Survey coordinator Annia Chaves said during the presentation of the results that INEC found an increased income, particularly among families living in rural areas. The average household income rose 2.4 percent in urban areas and 3.6 percent in rural areas.INEC investigators attribute the decrease in poverty to two variables: a reduction in the country’s inflation rates and benefits granted by government subsidies.Chaves said the increase is directly linked to government subsidies that increased by 14 percent and to income received from other sources such as remittances and pensions.Among the total number of poor households, some 95,000 live in extreme poverty: 6.3 percent of the country’s households live, down from the 7.2 percent found in the 2015 report. The number of households in extreme poverty fell for the first time since 2010.Income gapINEC reported that the country’s high income inequality figures are virtually the same as those recorded in 2015.The 20 percent of households with the highest income have a cumulative income share of 50.7 percent. The average monthly income in these households is ₡2,600,000 (approximately $4,650).By contrast, the 20 percent of households with the lowest earnings represent only 3.9 percent of the income share, and an average monthly income of ₡201,500 ($360).This means that the average income for the wealthiest households in Costa Rica is almost 13 times higher than that from households with the lowest income levels.ReactionsPresident Luis Guillermo Solís attributed the decline in poverty levels found by INEC to the efforts of his administration as well as aid programs launched by public agencies during his term.Following the release of the survey results, Solís posted a series of messages on his social media profiles highlighting facts and figures from the research.Among others, Solís said that his administration so far has allocated ₡33 billion ($58 million) to the “Bridge to Development” aid program in assistance to poor families.last_img read more

Derrick Hall satisfied with Dbacks buying and se

first_img Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo GLENDALE, Ariz. – More shifting along the offensive line is ahead for the Arizona Cardinals.Left tackle D.J. Humphries will not play against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium. He’s missing his third straight game after hurting his right knee in the season opener.Humphries is inactive, as is guard Alex Boone, who’s dealing with a slight pectoral strain. And, of course guard Mike Iupati, placed on injured reserve Saturday, is out.center_img Top Stories All this means the Cardinals will use some sort of tackle/guard combination featuring John Wetzel and rookie Will Holden on the left side. Regardless of how they line up, it will be the third different starting five-man unit charged with protecting quarterback Carson Palmer in four games.The remaining inactives are quarterback Blaine Gabbert, running back D.J. Foster, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, wide receiver Chad Williams and cornerback Tramon Williams.With receivers John Brown and J.J. Nelson both available, that leaves Chad Williams as the odd man odd; while Tramon Williams will be in street clothes after dressing out and not playing a week ago.Nkemdiche (calf) had already been ruled out.For the 49ers, linebacker Reuben Foster (ankle), safety Eric Reid (knee) and linebacker Pita Taumoepenu (ankle) are out due to injury and among the team’s listed inactives.The others not in uniform for San Francisco are wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, offensive lineman Eric Magnuson, linebacker Mark Nzeocha and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon 0 Comments   Share   last_img read more

Go back to the enewsletter Wine isnt the only th

first_imgGo back to the e-newsletterWine isn’t the only thing on the menu at Mont Rochelle Hotel and Vineyard. Younger guests, also known as ‘Little Corkers’, can now look forward to a tailor-made itinerary during their stay.An exciting range of activities is on offer for children to enjoy, whatever their interests. Budding vintners will love getting their hands – or rather, feet – dirty while stomping grapes with our experts, before recharging with a refreshing grape juice tasting. The hotel’s extensive grounds are the ideal setting for a scavenger hunt and picnic, and lawn games dotted throughout are sure to see youngsters getting competitive with the adults.There’s also plenty for the kids to enjoy in the local area from Giraffe House, Butterfly World or the Farm Sanctuary to chocolate and ice cream tasting at De Villiers Chocolate Café.At the end of the day, the whole family can relax in their own ‘home away from home’: the exclusive Manor House. The house comes complete with four deluxe suites, a bunk room for up to six children, two private pools and a games room. For smaller families and those staying in the main hotel, children are welcomed on single beds in the spacious Pinotage and Cap Classique suites, which feature a separate lounge and stunning views.Between 16 April to 30 September 2018 up to two kids under the age of 16 years can stay for free with their parents at Mont Rochelle when booking a Pinotage Suite, Cap Classique Suite or the Manor House.Virgin Limited Edition, The Manor House, Mont Rochelle, South AfricaVirgin Limited Edition, The Manor House, Mont Rochelle, South AfricaGo back to the e-newsletterlast_img read more

For travelers on a shortened schedule and on a lux

first_imgFor travelers on a shortened schedule and on a luxe for less budget, stay the fourth night free at The Kahala Hotel & Resort with the Ocean Promotion. With its recent multi-million dollar makeover, stay in one of the newly redone “Kahala Chic” rooms overlooking the Pacific Ocean and natural lagoon home to six fun loving Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles and varied tropical fish.When booking a Diamond Head ocean view room or higher, the Ocean Promotion includes:-Daily buffet breakfast for two in the Plumeria Beach House -Rates starts at $755 per night in an Ocean View No Lanai room -Available in Ocean View, Oceanfront and Beachfront room categories -Minimum 4-night stay for 4th Night Free offerThe above promotion is available from now to April 30, from May 7 to July 31, and from August 26 to December 20, 2009. Not valid with any other package or promotion.The Kahala is also offering a special rate for their new contemporary island-style inspired suites. The Suite Chic promotion gives guests the opportunity to relax in The Kahala’s newly redesigned suites featuring rich ivory and coffee colored tones, out of this world beds and elegant tropical accents. Enjoy luxurious amenities from custom-made Italian Frette linens, towels and chenille robes to exclusive Kahala-only signature fragrances by Floris of London.The Kahala Suite Chic promotion is available for the resort’s Ko’olau Partial Ocean View Suite and Koko Head Ocean Front Suite room categories and includes:-A spacious new suite at 30% off the rack rate -With two or more nights, a complimentary daily breakfast buffet for two beachside at the Plumeria Beach House restaurant -With five nights, the fifth night is freePlus all the amenities included in The Kahala’s Suite Amenity Program: -Special lei greeting upon arrival -Escort to suite -Personalized stationery packet -Unpacking/packing services -Complimentary pressing service for one garment upon arrival -Morning coffee with newspaper daily -Daily late afternoon cocktail service with light pupus in suite -Nightly VIP turndown -Preferential oceanfront seating at Plumeria Beach House and Hoku’s -Preferential appointment times at The Kahala’s Spa Suites -Full complimentary Business Center services such as use of computer for one hour per day, photocopying, facsimile use and free internet connectionwww.kahalaresort.comlast_img read more

Fitting and Proper Tribute to Veterans

first_img13May Fitting and Proper Tribute to Veterans Michigan must continue to embody the spirit of Memorial DayIn a few weeks, we’ll celebrate Memorial Day with family and friends, ushering in another beautiful summer in northern Michigan. In honor of this important holiday, I wished to share a few words spoken nearly 130 years ago by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., describing the meaning of the day:“Memorial Day… embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching.”I was reminded of this quote recently when I attended the Traverse City chapter for Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War 100th anniversary celebration, marking a milestone of dedication for a group of men that have loyally and passionately honored the memories of soldiers who have long since passed away. This group’s longevity and dedication to its mission serves as an inspiration to our community. But their devotion shouldn’t come as a surprise; Michiganders have a long tradition of honoring veterans.It was a small group of Michiganders who in 1862 first decorated graves of Michigan soldiers buried at Arlington Heights, prompting a national movement to celebrate Decoration Day. The Michigan Legislature then became the first among the northern states to officially recognize Decoration Day—now known as Memorial Day—in 1871. Where our state once led the nation in honoring and remembering its veterans, it must always strive to continue.A recent example of Michigan’s commitment to helping and supporting our deserved veterans occurred just this session when the Legislature established a new Veterans Affairs Agency to connect veterans with vital benefits and services and invested in nursing care and maintenance for the Grand Rapids and Jacobetti Veterans’ Homes. Thanks to recently created laws, veterans may now receive a designation on their driver’s license to indicate their service, disabled veterans, former POWs, and Congressional Medal of Honor recipients may now access our state parks free of charge, and the principal residence for disabled veterans—and their surviving spouses—is now eligible to be exempt from property taxes.During my time in office, I’ve been proud to support furthering the establishment of Michigan Veteran Treatment Courts, which recognize the difficulties some soldiers face when returning from war and provide treatment programs for veterans struggling with substance abuse or mental illness. Just last week, I assisted with a package of bills to help ensure that veterans who have successfully gone through these courts become aware of and utilize the benefits to which they are entitled.Finding a job, however, is the single most important thing I hear from men and women returning to civilian life concerns. Soldiers often return with technical training which meets or exceeds the criteria of many certifications for vocational employment, but until recently Michigan didn’t recognize this training. Now, there is an expedited licensing process for veterans in several career fields, including EMT, firefighter and mechanical contractor. Proposals to waive license and application fees for certification in numerous occupations have passed the legislature, but have not been signed into law.Offering our veterans better opportunities for securing employment and providing for their families is among the best ways we can say thank you. Which is why, as a personal measure of gratitude and support, I will be hosting a job fair geared for veterans and job providers seeking the skills and knowledge that military men and women possess. Doors are open 5-7 p.m., Friday, May 16, at the Traverse City VFW Hall (3400 Veterans Drive). A town hall meeting will take place afterwards to provide further information on the benefits and services to which veterans are entitled.Michigan is devoted to the task of providing for its veterans. The men and women who fight for our country have earned the respect, honor and support of our community, and we must remain committed to showing our appreciation. As we celebrate Memorial Day on May 26, let’s remember to do so “with enthusiasm and faith,” and honor Michigan’s veterans with all our heart.###Veterans who have questions or cannot attend the Veterans Job Fair and Town Hall may call Rep. Schmidt’s office toll-free at (800) REP-1046, via email WayneSchmidt@house.mi.gov or online at RepSchmidt.gophouse.org. Categories: Newslast_img read more

Griffin joins House in approving county veteran services grants

first_img Lawmaker cosponsors bill providing counties with grant for veteran servicesState Rep. Beth Griffin of Mattawan today joined her colleagues in the House in passing legislation providing Michigan counties grants to establish and maintain veteran service offices.Under the legislation Griffin is co-sponsoring, each county with a veteran service office that satisfies pre-approved requirements will receive $25,000, plus an additional amount based on the number of veterans in the county. To continue receiving the grant, an established county veteran services department must meet benchmarks for staff performance and reporting while maintaining the previous year’s funding level.“The fight shouldn’t have to continue upon returning home for our brave men and women in uniform,” Griffin said. “This grant will provide the resources necessary for every county throughout the state to establish veteran services offices with an accredited agent present, improve pre-existing departments and increase awareness of the services available locally.”Lack of funding and sparse access to services has led to inadequate coverage for portions of the state. Depending on the county, a Veteran Service Officer may only be available for a few hours each month at a single location. Only 72 out of Michigan’s 83 counties currently have a county veteran services department.House Bill 5536 now advances to the Senate for further consideration.##### Categories: Griffin News 14Mar Griffin joins House in approving county veteran services grantslast_img read more

The Controversy Bubbles Over ScarJo Quits Oxfam for West Banks SodaStream

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares January 30, 2014;Los Angeles TimesImagine you’re Scarlett Johansson, a talented movie star. You reportedly earned a record $20 million for your appearance in the upcoming Avengers 2, topping the previous single-film high payment for an actress ($19 million for Angelina Jolie in The Tourist). A website that monitors and reports on celebrity wealth estimated your 2012 net worth at $60 million, not just from films, but also endorsement deals with L’Oreal ($3m a year), Calvin Klein ($1m a year), Reebok, Dolce & Gabbana, and Louis Vuitton. In fact, a lot of your income has been from endorsement deals—including a deal with SodaStream, the home carbonated soda maker with a factory in an Israeli settlement on the occupied West Bank. Your SodaStream commercial, to be aired during the Super Bowl, is already in the can and is considered vital to the Israeli soda-making firm, whose business performance in the U.S. has been lackluster.At the same time, since the mid-2000s, you’ve been a global ambassador for Oxfam, the international humanitarian relief organization. Over the years, you’ve visited such countries as Kenya, India, and Sri Lanka on behalf of Oxfam, even skipping the Oscars one year to do an Oxfam visit, and you’ve said many positive things about the NGO, though your statements on its website are no longer there. But Oxfam isn’t a fan of SodaStream. In fact, like much of the world, it views Israeli settlements on the West Bank—in this case, the settlement Ma’ale Adumim, which was taken by Israel during the 1967 war—as illegal, and has joined with other organizations to protest business investment in Israeli firms on the West Bank. Oxfam has made it clear that it is none too happy with its global ambassador suddenly showing up as an ambassador for home soda machines manufactured in the occupied West Bank.Between these opposite pressures, which would you have stuck with and which would you have divorced?Yesterday, Scarlett Johansson announced she was cutting her ties with Oxfam. Her public statement cited “a fundamental difference of opinion [with Oxfam] in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.” In accepting Johansson’s resignation, Oxfam reiterated its opposition to “all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law,” which Oxfam believes “further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities.”Worth noting, and generally unreported in the Johansson/SodaStream/Oxfam controversy, is Oxfam’s longstanding aid role in Palestine. Oxfam isn’t simply an NGO that signed on to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement or campaign. It has run programs in both Israel and what it calls the Occupied Palestinian Territory, or OPT, since the 1950s, with an OPT focus “on helping improve the lives of poor Palestinians living in areas physically isolated by policies and practices of the occupation…includ[ing] Gaza, East Jerusalem, and Area C of the West Bank, where the government of Israel maintains full military and civil control, along with Palestinian villages that are enclosed by Israeli settlements, access restrictions, or the Wall.” Among its OPT initiatives are efforts to improve access to clean water and sanitation in Gaza, help small farmers in the West Bank form producer cooperatives (including olive-growing cooperatives), invest in economic development projects, and strengthen civil society organizations.On balance, it’s likely that Oxfam is doing more to meet the critical needs of poor Palestinians around issues of community development, infrastructure, agriculture, and economic development than SodaStream is. Johansson got plenty of benefit from working with Oxfam over the years. Her Oxfam-sponsored visits to developing countries vaulted her into the celebrity humanitarian category that Angelina Jolie occupies due to her extensive humanitarian aid resume, an intangible but desirable factor for celebrity reputations. With more than eight years experience with Oxfam, including serving as an official Oxfam ambassador since 2007, Johansson has made a new calculation and traded Oxfam for SodaStream, with whom her relationship has only formally existed since earlier this month.Let’s take Johansson at her word that she believes that the employment generated by SodaStream at its West Bank factory is a net benefit for Palestinians. After several years of work with Oxfam, an NGO that actually does humanitarian work on the ground addressing poverty in Palestinian communities rather than just talking about Palestinian issues from afar, Johansson has sided against the NGO and in favor of her work with one business entity—and the contract it gave her for her Super Bowl ad and other global ambassador functions. Whatever Johansson’s beliefs, there is almost no way that her rejection of Oxfam in favor of her endorsement deal with SodaStream won’t go down badly.—Rick CohenEditor’s note: It should be stated that Oxfam’s opposition to trade with companies working in Israel’s settlements in the West Bank is due to Oxfam’s position, expressed above in its statement about Johansson, that it views those settlements as illegal under international law and an infringement on the rights of the Palestinians with whom Oxfam works with on issues of poverty, economic development, health, and sanitation. To our knowledge, Oxfam has not signed on to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and the BDS movement is not the basis of Oxfam’s opposition to trade with the companies operating in the occupied West Bank settlements.ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Nonprofits Should Consider the Implications of Ebola Fighters as Times Person of

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares December 10, 2014; Time MagazineThis year, the much-awaited announcement of Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” should remind us in this sector that there is some consciousness and admiration out there about the power of mission-based collective effort. And that’s who we are, remember?The announcement of Time’s “Person of the Year” usually draws attention and a little controversy. Such famous faces as Mahatma Gandhi (1930), the Apollo 8 astronauts (1968), and almost every U.S. president since FDR have graced the magazine’s cover as part of this annual tradition. The Person of the Year need not be a singular individual, of course. Three years ago, on the heels of the Occupy movement, Time chose “The Protester,” a representation of the Arab Spring uprisings from Egypt to Libya and Syria as well as other protests in other nations from 2011, Russia and Greece among them. In 2003, Time chose “The American Soldier,” as the Iraq War was getting started; in 1969, it was “Middle Americans,” those deemed the “silent majority” by then-president Richard Nixon. And if you were alive and paying attention in 2006, congratulations—you, too, were Person of the Year.This year, Time bestowed the title to “the Ebola fighters,” collectively representing the medical personnel, from the volunteer charity workers to the ambulance drivers and burial teams, that helped to manage one of the worst medical crises of our time. While citizens of the West African nation of Guinea began contracting Ebola back in December 2013, it wasn’t until the media became interested in late summer 2014 that the reality of the impact became clear. Hundreds were dying as the epidemic spread to neighboring countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia. As the World Health Organization wrestled with managing the growing number of infected and international aid efforts were bungled by red tape, the sole constant in the mess were the humanitarian aid workers, like Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and Samaritan’s Purse, among others. These individuals include many who worked relentlessly with patients, risking their lives—some losing them along the way.Each year, Time’s choice for “Person of the Year” gives NPQ an opportunity to reflect on the important social or political issue embodied by the person or the conglomerate of people. In this case, it’s the heroic, ongoing humanitarian response to the Ebola epidemic. This is an opportunity for reflection on society, like the broken healthcare systems that exacerbated the epidemic or the international failure to consistently deliver and distribute much-needed supplies, some as basic as beds and linens, to West African hospitals and treatment centers. On Monday, Sierra Leone saw 58 new cases of Ebola, and as late as Tuesday, junior doctors in Sierra Leone have gone on strike to protest the inadequate equipment and supplies available. “We have decided to withhold our services until a proper and more conducive atmosphere is created for us to continue our work,” said the Junior Doctors Association. In the last four months, Sierra Leone has lost 8 percent of its available doctors to the disease.As shown by such choices as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin in the years around World War II and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979, being the Person of the Year isn’t an endorsement so much as a statement of significance. While some Time covers require some explanation, 2014’s cover, with its masked medical worker, in many ways representing the nonprofit sector, does not. Still, people working in civil society should understand that this acknowledgement of the innumerable and unnamed volunteers and nonprofits in the fight against Ebola provides a glimpse of what many value about the humanitarian portion of our work.—Shafaq HasanShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Lending your Voice to Those Who Cannot Speak—Literally

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesDecember 18, 2014; The AtlanticThe end of the calendar year is a time of giving. Some of us give presents to each other in celebration of a holiday. Some give money to the nonprofit of their choice. Others give food to ensure that people who are hungry have something to eat. Now, Rupal Patel, a speech-science professor at Northeastern University, has come up with an idea for something new for us to give: our voices.People who cannot speak often rely on text-to-speech machines to help them communicate verbally; they type words into a computer, which then translates those words into audible sound. (The most famous user of such a device is Stephen Hawking.) But the computer-produced voices tend to sound the same, and lack the fine control of pitch, tempo, and volume that distinguishes a human voice.The “source-filter theory” suggests that there are two parts to the process of speaking: the source, which comes from the vibration of the vocal cords and makes sound and controls the pitch, and the filter, which is shaped by the vocal tract—the path through the head and neck of the speaker that actually forms the words. A number of years ago, Professor Patel conducted research demonstrating that people with speech impairments were often able to make sound (the source) but could not control it to make intelligible words (the filter).So, she started thinking and inventing, and in 2007, she founded a company called VocaliD (pronounced “vocality”). Part of the company is a voice bank, which began operations over Thanksgiving and already has collected the voices of several hundred donors. People who wish to donate are asked to record up to four hours’ worth of sentences from old stories. Eventually, the donor will have formed all of the sounds required in the English language.This donated voice becomes the filter and will be matched with the source sound from a person with a speech impairment. Using techniques similar to the ones that give “voices” to GPS systems, the source and filter are spliced together. When the recipient types into their text-to-speech system, the voice that comes out will sound a lot like their own. It will still sound like a computer, with little inflection, but it is unique to them, and that means a lot. Three teen girls have been given voices using this process; one can be seen in a video on the company’s website.Unfortunately, if you are interested in making a donation, we do not believe it would be tax-deductible. First of all, the IRS would probably not recognize the donation, and second, despite having grown out of work done with the assistance of a grant from the National Science Foundation, VocalID is a for-profit company.—Rob MeiksinsShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

Transgender Movement Gets 20 Million Injection of Funds

first_imgShare301Tweet11Share1Email313 SharesDecember 8, 2015; BuzzFeed NewsA coalition of foundations has pledged $20 million dollars to improve the quality of life of transgender people around the world. This article reports that the money will be granted to groups that focus on transgender issues or are led by transgender individuals, rather than organizations that include transgender issues as part of a broader agenda. The grant program will be U.S.-based at first, though it is meant to expand internationally.Two foundations have provided really significant leadership gifts: the social justice–oriented ARCUS Foundation has pledged $15 million, and the NoVo Foundation, whose focus is on women and girls, has committed $1 million.This BuzzFeed News article gives an alarming account of harassment, threats and cruelty against trans people in Detroit against the backdrop of how 2015 has been an overly violent and deadly one for transgender people, particularly for transgender people of color:Confirmed homicides of transgender women have nearly doubled in the United States within the past year. […] The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported 24 homicides between Nov. 20, 2014, and the same date in 2015, compared with 12 during the previous year. Seventeen of the victims since this time last November were black trans women or black gender-nonconforming people; four were Latina; just three were white.NPQ has covered many sides of the issues facing transgender people, from the need for inclusive student housing to higher rates of HIV. This situation has been blamed on the refusal of governments to pass protective legislation. Given the state of affairs, Global Action for Trans* Equality (GATE) and American Jewish World Service (AJWS) published a case for increased support of trans and intersex organizing. Some testimonials from organizers include “I was shocked at how hard it is to raise funds for a trans organization” and “As we are ‘T’ specific, it is difficult to access LGBT funding.” According to Funders for LGTBQ Issues, trans communities only receive 0.015 percent of all foundation funding, or a penny for every $100 awarded.The GATE and AJWS report also states that just a few private funders, public foundations, and governments support trans activism. The Arcus Foundation is one of them. This global foundation that promotes human and environmental diversity announced on December 8th that it would provide lead funding, along with funds from the NoVo Foundation and other groups, to the Global Trans Initiative. Overall, $20 million will be earmarked for transgender groups and organizations. Importantly, the initiative will focus on “those most affected by violence and discrimination, including trans women of color who live in the United States and trans communities in the Global South.”Broadly, the initiative has higher aims, as this BuzzFeed News article reported that the “project’s ambitions include increasing understanding of transgender people, expanding pathways to economic sufficiency for a chronically underemployed population, and promoting long-term philanthropy of the transgender movement.”Transgender Law Center executive director Kris Hayashi also told BuzzFeed News that support “from foundations like Arcus, which started long before anyone was discussing Caitlyn Jenner or a ‘trans tipping point,’ has been critical to building a strong and resourced movement that could survive to see the moment of unprecedented visibility and unprecedented violence we face today.” Hayashi also said that these funds will ensure the Transgender Law Center and similar organizations can continue their work for justice so that “all people can live safely and fully as their authentic selves.”Let’s hope that more foundations can take similar strides to reverse this chronic underfunding of much needed human rights work.—Amy ButcherShare301Tweet11Share1Email313 Shareslast_img read more

Bloomington Wants to Build on Strength of Community Capital not Amazon

first_imgShare24Tweet4ShareEmail28 SharesPhoto: John Hamilton for MayorApril 4, 2018; Next CityIn Bloomington, Indiana, a mid-sized college town with roughly 84,000 people, Mayor John Hamilton was looking for a way to attract investment capital to his city, reports Emily Nonko for Next City. In itself, this is nothing remarkable, but what is unique is the focus on attracting community development financial institution (CDFI) capital, rather than providing tax abatements for corporations like Amazon. Last week, Bloomington announced that it aimed to become the nation’s first self-described “CDFI Friendly City.”Hamilton, prior to being elected mayor, had served as president of City First Enterprises, a CDFI based in Washington, DC. After his election in 2016, Hamilton was looking for ways to bring the kind of community finance infrastructure that exists in DC to Bloomington. Brett Theodos, who was a co-author of a December 2017 Urban Institute report on how state and local policy can support CDFIs, notes that CDFIs, despite mostly being nonprofit, need to be able “to recoup a good part of their expenses from their lending activity,” and that this means CDFIs find it more cost-effective to operate in big cities than in smaller cities like Bloomington. So, local policy support for community investment can be important.According to the city, the CDFI Friendly City program aims to encourage and incentive CDFI investment in Bloomington by building a supportive infrastructure that includes a nonprofit agency that can manage projects, with the city co-investing with CDFIs on specific projects.The city’s press release adds that, “Several local projects have already been identified as potential recipients of outside CDFI financing, including a number of affordable housing projects…and facilities such as child care centers and community-oriented businesses. Several CDFIs have expressed interest in expanding their portfolios in the city.”Hamilton says the city will commit $2 million to attract CDFI co-investment. Specifically, Hamilton is tapping the city’s Redevelopment Commission to earmark $1.5 million for affordable housing support—and the BUEA [Blooming Urban Enterprise Association] to earmark up to $500,000 to support small business development.A number of partners have been responsible for the effort. One leading partner has the been the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, which provided seed funding for working groups and the feasibility study, along with Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association and PNC Bank. The Community Foundation has also agreed to serve as a temporary fiscal sponsor. President Tina Peterson notes that the role of the foundation goes beyond providing money. According to Peterson, this role has also involved “working on getting a better understanding of what this community needs in the way of creative financing and introducing the idea to the broader community.”Mark Pinsky, who served as executive director for 21 years at the Opportunity Finance Network and now runs the advisory firm Five/Four Advisors, conducted the feasibility study, which resulted in a white paper that outlines his vision both of the project—and the broader concept of a “CDFI Friendly City” that emerged from the Bloomington working group meetings.Pinsky, who envisions more cities following Bloomington’s lead, identifies the following eight key principles: 1) completion of an evaluation and planning process; 2) the use of local funds (“skin in the game”) that can induce CDFI lending (such as loan guarantees); 3) creation or designation of an operating entity, either a standalone nonprofit or part of a larger organization; 4) a local governing body with broad representation; 5) a public strategy statement; 6) explicit goals and a method for tracking results; 7) a designated person independent of local government to lead the work; and 8) a public declaration of the city’s intent to support CDFIs.—Steve DubbShare24Tweet4ShareEmail28 Shareslast_img read more

Liberty Global has completed the acquisition of Po

first_imgLiberty Global has completed the acquisition of Polish cable operator Aster, which has been merged with UPC Poland.UPC will respect all existing Aster customer contracts. Aster customers in areas where UPC networks are also available will be able to sign up for UPC services. The merger gives UPC Poland a base of 1.5 million customers, with a total of 2.5 million homes passed.last_img

Belgacom has added Belgian public broadcaster RTBF

first_imgBelgacom has added Belgian public broadcaster RTBF’s La Une, La Deux and La Trois to its TV everywhere offering, along with French commercial channel TF1.The service, which allows users to watch TV on a PC, Mac, laptop, tablet or smartphone, already offers één, Canvas, Ketnet/OP 12, vtm, 2BE, vtmKzoom, Vier, VIJF, Vitaya, Acht, Eurosport, anne, JIM, Nickelodeon Junior, Euronews, Belgacom  11+/Zoom, Belgacom 5, RTL-TVI, Club RTL, Plug RTL, AB3, AB4, France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5, LCI, MCM Pop, Tiji and Canal J as well as football and basketball matches.Belgacom said its TV everywhere application had now been downloaded over 400,000 times. The full service is available for €4.95 a month, but users can access the Belgacom TV guide and programme recordings remotely free of charge.Separately, Belgacom has said it will add German-language channel RTL to its line-up and has denied rumours that it has withdrawn German public channels ARD and ZDF. Belgacom said it hoped a deal could be struck to keep both channels on its line-up.last_img read more

Private equity groups Cinven and Warburg Pincus ar

first_imgPrivate equity groups Cinven and Warburg Pincus are planning their exit from the Netherlands’ largest cable operator Ziggo with a fresh offering of 27 million shares via an ‘accelerated bookbuild’ offering, and a potential upsizing to sell a further 7.2 million shares that would see the investors sell their entire holding in the cable operator.Currently, Cinven, Warburg Pincus and their co-investors hold approximately 34 million shares in the company, representing about 17% of Ziggo’s ordinary share capital.Liberty Global, owner of second largest Dutch cabler UPC Netherlands, recently acquired a 12.65% stake in Ziggo from Barclays Capital Securities after the latter saw itself temporarily become a shareholder in the operator.Barclays had underwritten an offering of 40 million shares by Cinven and Warburg Pincus, the equivalent of a 20% stake, but failed to find enough buyers.last_img read more

USbased SnapStream a software firm focused on TV

first_imgUS-based SnapStream, a software firm focused on TV search, has launched new social TV tools, designed to help organisations understand and build TV audiences on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.Version 6.4 of SnapStream, which existing SnapStream appliance users can upgrade to for free, includes a new Tweets Tab that surfaces and categorises live tweets about any TV show. Users can also locate any TV moment with SnapStream and share it on Twitter, Facebook or Tubmlr as a screenshot, an animated GIF or a video clip.“We believe that Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr are an essential part of how people watch TV today. And we believe it’s early days for this phenomena – the importance of social media to TV will only grow. With our new social TV features, we aim to make SnapStream an essential tool for any television producer, marketer or advertiser,” said SnapStream CEO and founder, Rakesh Agrawal.SnapStream is best known for its DVR appliance and TV search technology, which allows organisations ranging from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to the US Senate record and search television.last_img read more

Netflix will pass the 100 million subscriber mark

Netflix will pass the 100 million subscriber mark in 2018, with the UK due to be the SVoD service’s number one European market that year with 7.1 million subscribers, according to IHS.The research firm predicts that between now and 2019, Netflix subscriptions will grow by 22%, with 10 million new subscribers to be added in the US, 10 million in Western Europe and the rest coming from its other international markets.“International subscribers are key for Netflix. As Netflix invests more in international content, we expect to see huge growth in Western Europe over the next three years, with 10 million new subscribers to be added to its already burgeoning international base,” said Ted Hall, research director at IHS Technology.“Excluding spend on sports, in 2013 and 2014, Netflix outspent almost everyone on original and acquired content. In 2014, Netflix’s content spend was about double that of ITV and Amazon,” added Hall.In its third quarter earnings announcement, Netflix said that its global membership figure grew by 3.62 million to 69.17 million members and that it expects to end the year with 74 million members.In the US it had 43.18 million streaming subscribers in Q3 and internationally it had 25.99 members – though Netflix does not break down figures by international market.“The traditional linear channel will be around for a long time to come, but it will become increasingly marginalised by a plethora of online services, from catch-up TV to TV Everywhere, pay TV channels’ streaming offerings and YouTube multi-channel networks,” said Hall. read more

Amazon is reportedly going after video rights for

first_imgAmazon is reportedly going after video rights for professional sports, including tennis, rugby and golf.According to a Bloomberg report, which cites people with knowledge of the matter, Amazon has expressed interest in sport with a global appeal, which also includes soccer and auto racing.The online retail giant is also reportedly interested in US sports like baseball and basketball, even though the rights are not currently up for grabs.Bloomberg said that while the progress of Amazon’s sports rights talks are not clear, this year the company hired executives formerly from Sports Illustrated and YouTube to oversee a sports division, as well as sports partnerships and business development.Moving into sport would differentiate Amazon’s video offering from the likes of Netflix, with the latter’s CEO, Reed Hastings, recently commenting that Netflix is not interested in adding sport and news to the SVOD company’s content line-up.In December Amazon partnered with major TV networks and content makers like Showtime, Starz and AMC – in order to offer additional content subscriptions through Amazon Video.According to details revealed in a string of company job posts this summer, Amazon is now also planning to launch this streaming partners programme in Europe.last_img read more

A little under 50 of television homes in the UK a

first_imgA little under 50% of television homes in the UK are subscribed to at least one SVOD platform.According to the latest statistics from BARB, the number of homes with SVOD services has risen by 8.37% – just over a million – in Q1 2019. The total is 13.33 million.The number of Netflix subscribers rose by 11.25%, while the number of homes subscribed to Amazon Prime Video has risen by 12.88%.The total number of television homes in the UK is 27.27 million. 11.47 million of those have Netflix, 5.96 million with Amazon Prime Video and Sky’s Now TV has 1.62 million subscribers.46.6% of UK homes had access to one of these services, and 4.3 million have two or more.The research found that households with three or more people are 47% more likely to be SVOD subscribers.However, despite the rapid growth in SVOD numbers and the flexibility to access them across multiple devices, the TV is still king.The research concludes that approximately 525 billion minutes were viewed in the UK between 9pm-10pm in 2018 on TV. This is compared to 6.25 billion minutes viewed on computers, tablets and phones for the same period.last_img read more

HBO Asia has launched the streaming services mult

first_imgHBO Asia has launched the streaming service’s multiscreen OTT TV offering HBO Go in Vietnam.HBO Asia, its Vietnam agent Q.net and their platform partner FPT Play unveiled the launch at a press conference in Ho Chi Minh City. HBO Go is now available on the FPT Play app.HBO Go Asia offers series, movies and documentaries from the US and Asia, Hollywood blockbusters, Asian hit movies and kids programmes. The latest series will premiere on HBO GO on the same day as the US.Jonathan Spink, CEO of HBO Asia said that the service would soon be available on more platforms. Subscribers will also be able to live stream HBO, Max by HBO and Red by HBO channels which are subtitled in Vietnamese.Nguyen Hanh, Q.net president said that the group had been preparing to unveil HBO Go in the market for over three years, ensuring that the service was in full compliance with local law.Vu Anh Tu, deputy general director of FPT Telecom, said that the launch would mark “the first time young Vietnamese audiences have a chance to enjoy Band of Brothers, the latest season of Game of Thrones, and thousands of blockbusters and action programming on platforms including smartphone, tablet, smart TV, the web and FPT Play Box”.“The launch of HBO GO marked a critical breakthrough for FPT Play in providing the best audience experience. Working with a world-leading content provider, we will do our utmost to utilize technologies and infrastructure capable of offering audiences the most entertaining and relaxing programming, worthy of the No. 1-rated OTT service provider in Vietnam,” he said.last_img read more