Rail Plus on the right track Rail Plus will offer Australian travel agents booking The Ghan, Indian Pacific, The Overland and The Southern Spirit more base commission, the company has announced. A booking on one of the four Great Southern Rail journeys will now earn agents a ten per cent commission, an increase of three per cent on the previous rate. According to Rail Plus national sales and marketing manager Greg McCallum, the move reflects the growing importance the company places on domestic rail journeys. “Last year Rail Plus saw the number of Australian passengers experiencing a local rail adventure grow by 10 per cent,” Mr Callum said. “This year we expect that figure to increase even more dramatically.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H
With two decades of coaching experience under his belt including four as the San Diego Chargers head coach, McCoy is familiar with the pressures that coordinators and head coaches face. While he understands that analysis and second-guessing come with those job titles, he wants outsiders to remember a simple reality.“This is what we do as coaches all week long from Monday up until the game, or adjustments in the game.,” he said. “You put a game plan together and you stick to your plan.“It’s going to come down to players. Good players make good coaches and we’ve got to design a good scheme on a weekly basis to help our players succeed.” GLENDALE, Ariz. – Cardinals coach Steve Wilks doesn’t know what to expect from coordinator Mike McCoy’s offense because McCoy doesn’t know what to expect from his offense.McCoy hasn’t had starting quarterback Sam Bradford for more than a few full practices because Bradford was limited in OTAs and minicamp while rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee.McCoy hasn’t had a long look at star running back David Johnson because Johnson sat out minicamp in a contract dispute. McCoy hasn’t fully evaluated tight end Jermaine Gresham because Gresham is still rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon suffered last season, and aside from Larry Fitzgerald, the receiving corps is still a mystery of scattered puzzle pieces. Wilks hasn’t hidden the fact that he’d like to run the ball more than the Cardinals did under Bruce Arians. Health provided, Johnson gives him a premier back with which to do it and a superlative receiver to boot.McCoy is also expected to go to more short and intermediate routes in the passing game, and he said Tuesday that he will give his tackles more protection in passing situations, something Arians was hesitant to do.“You’re probably going to see [diminutive receiver] JJ Nelson try to blow up a defensive end from time to time,” McCoy said, joking. “We’re going to give those tackles help. Back in the day, there was usually one guy you had to worry about. Now, you look across the line of scrimmage and the athletic ability of the defensive fronts these days, that’s the toughest part. That’s a challenge every week. There’s so much talent on defense and the speed of the game.”McCoy said he wants to have an open dialogue with his players to better understand their strengths and comfort zones.“I want them to express their opinions about things and come to me with suggestions, but then I also say that I am the coordinator and I have final say,” he said. “You may not always like the decisions we make but there’s going to be give and take.” Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires 6 Comments Share “We’ve only had two practices in pads,” McCoy said Tuesday. “We’re going to find out.”Despite all the unknowns, Wilks believes he can fall back on McCoy’s track record.Related LinksCardinals notebook: Outdoor practice and Chandler Jones’ sled destructionCardinals’ ‘Red & White Practice’ to raise funds for fallen DPS trooperCardinals’ Rosen ‘unbelievably fortunate’ to have Bradford as a mentor“There’s guys that have schemes and guys that have systems. I believe in systems that adapt to the personnel that you have,” Wilks said. “Mike does a great job of that.”Five days into training camp, McCoy was preaching that very approach when asked to evaluate the progress and identity of his offense.“We’re creating the identity right now in training camp and the preseason,” he said. “We’ve got a long ways to go. That’s what training camp is for.”McCoy said it is critical that the coaching staff evaluate the strengths of its personnel and then play to those strengths with the game plans it designs and the plays it calls.“Who’s the best puller? Who are our best double-team guys? How do our tight ends block certain schemes. You find out a lot about your players,” McCoy said. “There’s going to be plenty of plays we’re going to look at in the next couple weeks before we get to that home opener and say, ‘OK, this is not us.’ That’s our job as coaches to find out, ‘What do we do best?’” Top Stories The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Arizona Cardinals rookie receiver Christian Kirk on Saturday, July 28, 2018, the first full day of Arizona’s training camp. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact
Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed Rep. Greg MacMaster’s House Bill 4732 into Public Act 125 of 2013, a law that waives some state building code requirements so small roadside farm produce stands don’t have to install plumbing. Pictured attending the signing were Stacy and Triston Cole of Cole Farms in Mancelona, Rep. Greg MacMaster, and his wife, Kim MacMaster. 22Oct MacMaster bill for roadside stands now law Categories: News Michigan farmers can more easily sell their goods to people from small or temporary roadside produce stands now that Gov. Rick Snyder has signed Public Act 125 of 2013 to reform certain building code requirements Triston and Stacy Cole of Cole Farm in Mancelona joined Rep. Greg MacMaster for the signing of House Bill 4732. Triston approached MacMaster about creating the legislation to waive the rules for plumbing and other building code requirements based on the smaller size and type of facility.“This bill reduces regulation on agri-business, especially startups and small farms looking to expand,” Triston Cole said. “This bill keeps farms family-owned and operated, and increases direct sales to the public. This also will help to continue to strengthen the relationship between the community and our local farmers, as well as increase awareness of local farming activity.”MacMaster said the regulations put an overly burdensome requirement on the farmer for what should be fairly simple and straightforward part of farmers providing healthy food options for people.“The small stands and tents that farmers use to protect vegetables and other produce so people can eat fresh, wholesome food shouldn’t fall under the full-blown rules for full-size building structures,” said MacMaster, R-Kewadin. “Excessive government paperwork and mandates don’t need to be part of picking up some tomatoes, peppers or a dozen ears of corn from the local farm stand on the drive home.”Typically, the stands in question are approximately 200 to 300 square feet in size – the new law exempts those up to 400 square feet from the plumbing requirement. Building permits and other safety requirements remain in place.Ryan Romeyn of Providence Farm in Central Lake also applauded the regulation reforms in the new MacMaster law.“This is great news and will be a great improvement to give farmers and consumers greater flexibility in marketing and purchasing locally grown products to benefit our local economies in Michigan,” Romeyn said. “Our farm is preparing to expand our roadside market, and this law will provide many more options that are economically viable. This will benefit farm families, farm employees, local residents and vacationers.”The law also exempts tents of the same size from the code in its entirety, but does require a form of secure anchoring for all structures.MacMaster can be contacted by calling toll free (855) DIST-105; by email, GregMacMaster@house.mi.gov; or through is office website, www.repmacmaster.com.
LANSING – Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague, and Muskegon County Equalization Director Donna VanderVries testified in support of House Bill 4888 before the Senate Committee on Local Government on Tuesday.HB 4888 would allow an assessor to maintain the local property assessment roll electronically, instead of on paper only“This is a fairly simple bill, which came about from working with Donna,” Rep. Hughes said. “Every year township and county assessors have to print out the assessment rolls, but if even one mistake is made then the entire roll has to be reprinted. That’s hundreds or thousands of pages and with it added costs.”“This bill addressed a critical need and will help bring storage of assessor rolls into the 21st century,” VanderVries said to the committee.Following testimony by Rep. Hughes and VanderVries, the Michigan Department of Treasury, Michigan Assessors Association and Michigan Townships Association all shared their support of HB 4888.The committee did not vote on the legislation. 02Feb Rep. Hughes, Muskegon County official testify on assessor legislation Categories: Hughes News,News
Categories: VanWoerkom News 09Jan Rep. VanWoerkom takes ceremonial oath of office on House floor FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Former Senator Jerry VanWoerkom (father), Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman, Valerie VanWoerkom (mother), Wendy VanWoerkom (wife), Rep. VanWoerkom and their children.PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Greg VanWoerkom, of Norton Shores, was joined by family as he was sworn in today at the state Capitol for his first term as state Representative for the 91st House District. Administering the Oath of Office was Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman.###
Share4TweetShare1Email5 SharesApril 24, 2017; Pittsburgh Tribune-ReviewAs a result of news coverage about lead poisoning, Allegheny County’s Health Department (ACHD) announced the formation of a new task force. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Allegheny County is launching a lead task force to consider policy changes and analyze county data, Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker announced at a news conference Monday. The announcement followed several media reports on the county’s lead problem, including a Trib story revealing the county has rarely imposed penalties on landlords who take months to abate lead paint in properties where poisoned children live.”ACHD may be operating in crisis control mode, since the details of the task force have yet to be defined. The fact that County Executive Rich Fitzgerald will be offering more details next week is a sign that the media have attracted the attention of the political class. In another strange twist, ACHD held an “informational presentation” at the county council meeting on Wednesday—without posting a public notice first.The Tribune-Review also announced that the County Controller’s office would conduct an independent audit of the Health Department programs related to lead poisoning. Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner cited stories prepared by Pittsburgh’s Public Source, an investigative news organization that provides Pennsylvania citizens with in-depth information, as motivating the audit of ACHD. According to Public Source,Wagner based her claims, in part, on a report PublicSource published last week that pointed out flaws in the health department’s data and the methods it was using to collect the data. That story showed a correlation in a slight rise of elevated blood lead levels among Pittsburgh children who were tested and the timing of a chemical switch made by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority in April 2014.The political spotlight is probably due in part to the fact that next week is the primary election for mayor and council in Pittsburgh. Pols don’t want to appear helpless in the face of many questions about possible lead poisoning risks. Mayor Peduto, who is expecting to win the Democratic primary against two opponents, has signaled that free water filters are still on offer to Pittsburgh households. This news comes in the wake of revelations that the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) hired the same contractor as Flint, Michigan, to operate their water system in 2012 and got many of the same results as Flint. Mayor Peduto has pledged to reorganize the PWSA, while his primary opponents claim it’s “too little, too late.” The big question for Pittsburghers is whether lead poisoning will survive the primary as an issue.The current stories in the Tribune-Review and from Public Source expand upon the issues addressed in the earlier “Hidden Poison” series, which primarily looked at the problem of lead in the drinking water. Last week, the Tribune-Review featured a story on ACHD’s failure to shut down homes where lead dust caused a child to be poisoned and where the owner failed to remove the lead from the property. Under state law, these homes should be “placarded” to warn tenants against renting there. The Tribune-Review article notes that the names of owners and addresses of the poisoned properties are considered protected information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The article also focused attention on the low level of lead testing in children in Allegheny County.ACHD Director Dr. Karen Hacker challenged some of the facts in the Tribune-Review and Public Source stories but didn’t provide specific examples.To a great extent, the lack of clarity and transparency about data and procedures is at the root of the problem of public accountability for lead poisoning. The Public Source article, “How dangerous is Pittsburgh’s lead problem? The data is contradictory and the damage could be worse than officials say,” tells the frustration of dealing with partial and faulty data coming from the ACHD.The number of tests confirming elevated lead levels in Pittsburgh children younger than six fell from 49 to 43 from 2013 to 2015. However, during that same time, the number of lead tests conducted in the city fell by more than 1,000, from 4,428 to 3,412, meaning that the total percentage of children in Pittsburgh with elevated lead during the time of the chemical switch slightly increased, from 1.11 percent to 1.26 percent.Got that? Test fewer children, find fewer cases…but a higher percentage of poisoned children among those tested. No wonder citizens are confused about the scope of the problem.Pittsburgh’s media outlets are not alone in trying to penetrate the public health obfuscation around lead poisoning. What is clear is that “the lead system” can break down at many points—from blood testing, to health management, to water and home testing, to remediation of known hazards. The second installment of a series by Reuters acknowledges that facts about lead poisoning are hard to come by, but the stories of people’s suffering are compelling. That’s also the lesson of the “Toxic Neglect“ series in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which over nearly two years has documented failure after failure by public officials to carry out their missions and accurately report their outcomes.While necessary, media scrutiny of public programs may not be sufficient to trigger real change. That’s why politicians in election mode are scrambling right now. But without ongoing civic engagement, the pols’ interest in getting to the bottom of the problem may wane. One civic effort to address lead poisoning in Pittsburgh, the Women For A Healthy Environment, has undertaken a community education program around lead-in-water issues. As of now, however, there doesn’t seem to be a vehicle for grassroots political involvement.—Spencer WellsThanks to Mila Sanina of Public Source for contributing to this story.Share4TweetShare1Email5 Shares
Share159Tweet4ShareEmail163 Shares“House on Money,” 401kcalculator.orgNovember 29, 2018; Next CityRecent media reports have documented the widening gap between black and white homeownership. Nationally, the black homeownership rate is 41 percent—nearly unchanged from 50 years ago, when the federal Fair Housing Act banned racial discrimination in that sector. That compares to the 71 percent of white adults who own homes. The gap is even wider now than it was in 1900, as was documented in a Zillow study released in April.And, as Lisa Rice—president of the National Fair Housing Alliance—notes, where black families have made gains, this has required political struggle. “Areas with high levels of African-American homeownership generally have very active fair-housing and social-justice activity. You will find a history of active organizing and engaging,” Rice explains. However, the struggle isn’t just about the level of homeownership. A new study released by the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution finds that neighborhoods with high levels of black homeownership are penalized.In the average US metropolitan area, the study says, homes in neighborhoods where the population is at least 50 percent black are valued at roughly half the price of homes in communities with no black people. Majority-black neighborhoods have 3.2 million owner-occupied homes worth an estimated $609 billion—but those buildings would collectively be worth $156 billion more if race did not impact housing values. In other words, structural racism reduces housing wealth for these black homeowners by an average of $48,000 per family.“Much of the research on implicit bias focuses on individuals’ perception of an oppressed class. These biases carry over into places where there are high concentrations of black people [for instance],” write authors Andre Perry, Jonathan Rothwell, and David Harshbarger. “The value of assets—buildings, schools, leadership, and land itself—are inextricably linked to the perceptions [others have] of black people.”Why does this matter so much? Home-based wealth is the leading source of wealth for most families of modest means. In fact, owner-occupied homes make up the majority of black wealth in the United States, according to an analysis of the federal Survey of Consumer Finances by economist Edward N. Wolff. That makes devaluation of black-owned homes particularly devastating; in 2016, the median American white family had a net worth of $140,000, compared to $3,400 for the median black family.These latest findings reflect patterns that first became entrenched decades ago—via government fiat—as documented in a new book titled The Color of Law. In 1933, the federal government initiated a program explicitly designed, in part, to segregate America’s housing stock. Author Richard Rothstein says the housing programs begun under the New Deal were in essence a “state-sponsored system of segregation.” The government’s efforts were “primarily designed to provide housing to white, middle-class, lower-middle-class families,” he says. Meanwhile, blacks were pushed into urban housing projects. He notes that the Federal Housing Administration refused to insure mortgages in and near African-American neighborhoods, literally coloring the “no-lend” neighborhoods in red on city maps (“redlining”). At the same time, the FHA subsidized builders who mass-produced entire subdivisions for whites—with housing covenants specifying that none of the homes be sold to African Americans.These decades-old housing policies continue to impact US society today. And those old patterns keep being reinforced. For example, the Washington Post recently reported that, “across the country, American communities employ ‘snob zoning’ policies that forbid builders from constructing apartment buildings or impose minimum residential lot requirements. They are often presented as driven by concerns that building smaller units could change the character of a community. Such rules effectively impose a price floor for the cost of housing, making it impossible for people who live below a certain means to afford them.”Towns with the most stringent rules, reported the Post, tend to have lower density and be wealthier than those with less regulation. And while the laws do not specifically mention race, they effectively drive people of color out and keep neighborhoods more uniformly white because African Americans and Latinxs have on average far less wealth and income than white people.—Pam BaileyShare159Tweet4ShareEmail163 Shares
A growing triple-play subscriber base helped Ziggo increase second quarter revenues by 6.3% to €386.5 million.The Dutch cable operator attracted 34,000 new All-in-1 customers during the three months ending June, giving it a total of 1.4 million triple-play customers. The number of digital TV customers increased by 6.1% year-on-year to 951,000, with ARPU for digital pay TV increasing by 9.9% from €13.49 for Q2 2011 to €14.83 for Q2 2012. Ziggo’s total TV subscriber base numbered 2.2 million, up 13.8%.Ziggo added 25,000 internet customers during the quarter, giving it a total of 1.8 million internet customers, up 8.3% year-on-year.Second quarter EBITDA increased by 5.9% to €219.2 million.
German cable and IPTV operator NetCologne is adding a raft of new channels to its line-up, taking the total number of HD channels on the platform to 48.New free-to-air HD channels on the platform include SWR, 3sat HD and Ki.Ka HD. All three will be available to NetCologne subscribers next month. Other new free channels include QVC HD and QVC Beauty. The operator is also adding pay TV channels RTL Living HD, Fox HD, National Geographic HD, Spiegel TV Wissen HD and Bon Gusto.NetCologne has restructured its offering and is now providing a new Entertainment package with 12 channels for €9.95 and an Entertainment Extra package with 26 channels for €16.95, offered alongside the Premium Plus HD offering with 16 HD channels. NetCologne has also reduced the minimum contract period for its TV services from 24 to 12 months.
Broadcasters, satellite operators and equipment manufacturers have begun discussing the development of countermeasures to tackle to the problem of satellite jamming.Satellite operator Eutelsat reported 340 cases of deliberate satellite jamming in the first 10 months of 2012, three times the number of incidents recorded in 2009. About 90% of jamming signals were traced to Syria and Iran.Industry participants met at Eutelsat’s Paris HQ at the end of last week to discuss possible countermeasures.Among the measures discussed were sharing of data about disruptions that could be stored in a common database. Sources of jamming can be traced by two satellites working together via so-called geolocalisation.Other possible measures include electronic redirection of satellite receiving antennas so that the source of interference is placed in a so-called dead point in the antenna’s receiving pattern.
Over 70% of western European pay TV subscribers can now receive multiscreen services, according to a study by research firm Parks Associates. According to Parks Associates, 70% of western European and 25% of eastern European pay TV customers can now access TV Everywhere services. However, average revenue per customer from these services remains low, according to the research firm. As a result, operators are being pushed to test new business models such as à la carte pricing.“Connected CE and digital media usage continues to grow in Europe, and cloud-based services, including music, video games, and storage, will drive more data across broadband provider networks,” said Stuart Sikes, president, Parks Associates. “However, several challenges unique to Europe, including low margins, competition, and regulatory and economic factors, create uncertainties on the best path to boost revenues.”
Manuel KohnstammEurope’s cable industry is on the “brink of a new wave of consolidation,” according Cable Europe president and Liberty Global SVP and chief policy officer Manuel Kohnstamm.Speaking at a Cable Europe press briefing at Cable Congress in Amsterdam, Kohnstamm predicted that recent consolidation in the cable space would continue following a spate of recent deals – such as Liberty’s own agreed buyout of Dutch operator Ziggo.“The mobile industry is actively consolidating at this moment. I think there’s a lot of desire on the fixed telecom business to do that as well,” said Kohnstamm, who also forecast more tie-ups between mobile and fixed line players.“We’ve seen a great deal of those [deals already]” he said, citing pay TV provider Zon Multimédia’s acquisition of mobile telco Optimus in Portugal, which was approved by the country’s competition watchdog in August, and Vodafone’s acquisition of Kabel Deutschland, which it completed in October.Discussing the opportunity in the cable space, Kohnstamm said that around half of Europe’s cable customers – some 50 million households – are still served by fairly small cable companies.“About three years ago there was 7,000 cable companies in Europe. I think today there’s still 6,000. So yes we are consolidating – a big chunk of them are being consolidated as we speak,” said Kohnstamm.
Netflix’s content streaming obligations grew by US$1.6 billion (€1.25 billion) in the first nine months of 2014, due to multi-year commitments linked to its latest European launches and the expansion of its original programming efforts.In its latest quarterly report, filed yesterday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Netflix said that its streaming content obligations had grown from US$7.3 billion as of December 31, 2013 to US$8.9 billion as of September 30, 2014.“A streaming content obligation is incurred at the time we enter into an agreement to obtain future titles,” said Netflix, explaining that certain agreements include the obligation to license rights for unknown future titles – “the ultimate quantity and/or fees for which are not yet determinable.”In its domestic streaming segment, Netflix recorded a US$91.3 million year-on-year increase in domestic streaming cost of revenues in Q3, which it said was primarily due to a US$71.2 million increase in content expenses relating to existing and new streaming content, including more exclusive and original programming.Streaming delivery expenses increased by US$12.8 million and other costs, such as payment processing fees and customer service call centres, increased $7.3 million due to Netflix’s growing member base, the company said.In its international segment, Netflix reported a similar US$82.1 million year-on-year increase in cost of revenues for the quarter. It said this was due to a US$66.4 million increase in content expenses and US$15.7 million more in streaming delivery expenses.“Our primary uses of cash include content acquisition and licensing, streaming delivery, marketing programs and payroll,” said Neflix in the filing.“We expect to continue to make significant investments in streaming content, including original content. We also expect to significantly increase our investments in international expansion.“Payment terms for certain content agreements require more upfront cash payments relative to the expense and therefore, future investments could impact our liquidity,” it warned.Elsewhere, Netflix said that a potential loss in ongoing legal action is “reasonably possible,” although the amount of such possible loss or a range of potential loss is “reasonably estimable.”Netflix is being sued by a group of shareholders, who allege that Netflix executives caused the company to buy back stock at “artificially inflated prices to the detriment of the company and its shareholders while contemporaneously selling personally held company stock.”Overall, in Q3, Netflix reported that domestic streaming revenues grew 25% year-on-year to US$877 million, while international revenue grew 89% to $346 million – both were in line with forecasts. Net income came in at US$59 million, up from US$32 million for the same quarter last year. However, Netflix added fewer new customers than it had previously predicted.
Facebook is stepping up its video efforts with a new ‘suggested video’ feature that will reportedly see the social network share ad revenues with video creators for the first time.According to various US news outlets briefed on the plans, Facebook will place ads between suggested video clips, keeping 45% of revenues and paying 55% out to content partners.The suggested videos feature will serve up content related to previous videos watched on the site, with the social network already said to be conducting tests with professional content makers like the NBA, Fox Sports, Hearst and Funny or Die.The move has widely been seen as an effort by Facebook to step up competition with the likes of YouTube and attract more premium content to the site.A recent research report by Ampere Analysis said it expects Facebook to trigger an “advertising ‘arms race’” by competing directly against YouTube for user-uploaded video audiences and that the trials with content owners like NFL and Fox Sports suggest Facebook is “primed to become a plausible alternative to YouTube.”Separately, in a ‘Townhall Q&A’ earlier this week in which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered questions from site users, Zuckerberg said that in the future “video will be even more important than photos” on the service.Asked about the future of Facebook, Zuckerberg said: “We used to just share in text, and now we post mainly with photos. In the future video will be even more important than photos. After that, immersive experiences like VR will become the norm.Eventually, Zuckerberg said he thinks people will have the power to share “full sensory and emotional experience” and that “one day, I believe we’ll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology.”
Vadim FedotovRussian pay TV provider NTV+ is launching an internet-connected hybrid set-top that will enable it to offer interactive TV services including video-on-demand, pause live TV and catch-up TV.Gazprom Media-owned NTV+’s box is a joint project between the pay TV outfit and its parent company’s technology arm. The device will be manufactured by Korea’s Kaonmedia with NTV+ branding.The UI of the new set-top is currently undergoing testing and development ahead of a planned November launch, according to NTV+.The new UI will allow subscribers to browse channel, order movies and manage their subscriber account as well as create a list of favourite channels.NTV+ CEO Mikhail Demin said that sales of the new box will kick off in Novmeber. He said he expected the hybrid device to account for 10% of all new box sales from launch, growing to up to 50% by the end of next year, depending on market conditions.Demin said that the trend towards consumption of OTT TV services was likely to accelerate and that the launch of a hybrid box would give the operator an opportunity to grow its base.Gazprom Media Technology CEO Vadim Fedotov said that the launch was an important step towards creating a personalized TV experience for subscribers. He said the UI would provide access to standard broadcast, on-demand and catch-up content, including exclusive premieres. Fedotov said the OTT element of the service would be further developed in the future.