Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy How China would respond may be swayed by its leadership transition. The new guard would not want to appear weak. But neither would China want the dispute to escalate as it relies on exports and faces its own economic slowdown. If that translates into major job losses at home it could affect social stability, which is Beijing’s biggest concern.Obama has consistently opted against designation of China as a currency manipulator. Like President George W. Bush before him, he has preferred to wait while economic forces encourage Beijing to allow its currency to strengthen _ which it has done, although most economists still believe it is undervalued.The Treasury is due to make its next six-month assessment on Monday, although it’s not yet clear if it will be announced on that date. China is likely to get a pass.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Those plans, though, could take years to implement. Addressing the currency issue on Day One would immediately affect relations.Romney says he would designate China as a manipulator unless it stops currency manipulation by his January inauguration. Romney trade policy adviser Oren Cass said this would set a new tone and show the U.S. is willing to take China to task over a range of trade violations, including intellectual property theft and restrictions on market access for U.S. companies in China.The designation itself would not mandate any sanctions, but would require that the U.S. hold consultations with China.Cass said that if Beijing doesn’t move toward changing its currency policies after consultations, the U.S. could impose so-called countervailing duties on Chinese products.But Matthew Goodman, former director of international economics in the National Security Council under Obama, said the U.S. discretion to unilaterally impose retaliatory tariffs ended when it joined the World Trade Organization in 1995, and in practice it is difficult to take a currency dispute to the WTO for settlement. Cass says that under domestic law, the U.S. could impose countervailing duties, and it’s an open legal question at the WTO whether member states can do so unilaterally to compensate for a currency subsidy. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories How do cataracts affect your vision? China’s state media has weighed in with unusually direct criticism of a presidential candidate, suggesting that Beijing hopes Obama will win.News agency Xinhua has accused Romney of hypocrisy, saying much of his wealth was made doing business with Chinese companies and warning that his “mudslinging” policies could spark a trade war.Early in his presidency, Obama made warmer relations with China a priority, and ties have deepened. The two governments have navigated some rough patches _ such as the standoff over a blind activist, Chen Guangcheng, who sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and was then allowed to come to the U.S. to study. The Obama administration said that reflected a maturing relationship.But diplomacy has failed to bridge fundamental differences on issues such as climate change, the civil war in Syria and China’s territorial disputes with its neighbors. And as the U.S. has wound down its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its modest moves to deploy more forces around Asia have irritated Beijing.Romney is calling for an even stronger U.S. presence in the Pacific. Wong said that would encourage the peaceful resolution of the region’s many maritime territorial disputes, including one flaring between U.S. ally Japan and China over islands both claim. He said Romney would make clear it has a treaty alliance with Japan that covers the islands and has the naval power to back it up. The U.S. seeks Chinese cooperation on international hot spots, such as North Korea and Iran, and wants to narrow differences over how to handle maritime territorial disputes in East Asia.Given the potential repercussions, some foreign policy experts doubt Romney would carry out the currency threat. Other presidential candidates have made similar promises in order to appeal to voters who have seen manufacturing jobs migrate to China. But, once elected, they soften their approach.“There’s probably been wisdom in administrations in the past, Republican and Democrat, of not wanting to go there,” said Jon Huntsman, who served as President Barack Obama’s first ambassador to China before a failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination.But the commitment to act on Inauguration Day doesn’t appear to leave much room to back down.Romney has also taken aim at Obama’s “pivot” to Asia _ a strategy of deploying more forces and shoring up U.S. alliances there, in part to counter China’s military buildup.In a speech this week, Romney said China’s recent assertiveness was “sending chills through the region.” He said the pivot is under-resourced and has alienated U.S. allies elsewhere. He outlined plans to expand U.S. naval power _ although it’s unclear how he’d pay for it since he also wants to slash government spending. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments Share “What we have seen from the Obama administration has been acquiescence to China, not just on trade issues and currency issues, but on issues of security and human rights,” said Romney foreign policy adviser Alex Wong. “To protect our interests and those of our small businesses and of our economy, we have to take measures to make sure China does play by the rules.”U.S.-Chinese relations are entering a critical juncture. Two days after the Nov. 6 vote, China will begin its own once-in-a-decade leadership transition. How the next U.S. administration gets on with the new guard in Beijing could determine whether the world’s pre-eminent military powers can cooperate in the Asia-Pacific region or head on a path to confrontation.Appreciation of those stakes tends to get lost in the fiercely fought election campaign.Both Romney and Obama have TV spots with China as a foil. Romney accuses Obama of being soft on China’s trade practices; Obama accuses Romney of outsourcing U.S. jobs to China when he ran the private equity firm Bain Capital.The tone of the debate, labeling China a “cheat,” has drawn withering criticism from the architect of U.S. re-engagement with Beijing 40 years ago, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who has nonetheless endorsed Romney. Kissinger said that avoiding conflict between the powers is the most fundamental challenge for U.S. foreign policy. Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) – Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is promising to get tough on China to help American workers, but his plans could backfire.Romney is pledging, on his first day in office, to designate China a currency manipulator, a step no administration has taken against any country for 18 years.That could, eventually, lead to tariffs punishing China for policies that Americans believe unfairly keep Chinese products cheap, hurting U.S. manufacturers. Tariffs could trigger a trade war with a country that is the fastest-growing market for U.S. exports. Even if they don’t, the designation would instantly set back relations with Asia’s emerging superpower.
Netflix hasn’t announced any purchases at Cannes yet, but it is shopping. The company has already had a large impact at other festivals, acquiring Cary Fukunaga’s “Beasts of No Nation” at the Sundance Film Festival for a reported $12 million. At the Berlin Film Festival, it reportedly snagged Richie Smyth’s “Jadotville” for $17 million.Those acquisitions point to Netflix’s deep pockets — not a common quality in the largely tight-fisted independent film market. That, plus a reputation for allowing the creators to have creative control and the chance for a global audience, has made Netflix a very appealing option for filmmakers.Netflix, Sarandos said, will increase its push into original movies and continue in its attempt to revolutionize the movie industry.“Everything about how we consume entertainment has been changed by the Internet,” said Sarandos, “except windowing for movies.”___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Netflix has inked deals with the Weinstein Co. for a “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” sequel, a new Pee-wee Herman movie with Judd Apatow, and a series of comedies with Adam Sandler. Other plans include a movie with Ricky Gervais, a documentary deal with Leonardo DiCapiro and a four-picture deal with Mark and Jay Duplass.Two documentaries (“The Square” and “Virunga”) have earned Netflix Oscar nominations in the last two years. Its growing prominence in the movie industry is now seen everywhere from the Academy Awards to Cannes.On Friday, Sarandos insisted that Netflix wasn’t “anti-theaters,” but “pro-movies.”“If you don’t want to put on your shoes, nothing in the theaters can compete with Netflix,” said Sarandos.Theater owners, however, have pushed back. All the major North American chains have refused to play “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend” on Aug. 28 when it’s to be released day-and-date, both online and in theaters.Sarandos said that movie budgets for Netflix range from below $10 million to more than $50 million, though TV shows still make up about 2/3 of its programming. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Top Stories 0 Comments Share Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober A sign for the 68th international film festival inside the Palais des Festivals, Cannes, southern France, Wednesday, May 13, 2015. The festival opens on Wednesday and runs until Sunday, May 24. (AP Photo/David Azia) CANNES, France (AP) — In Netflix’s first official visit to the Cannes Film Festival, the streaming service’s ambitions have been met warily at the Cote d’Azure cinema capital, a 68-year-old movie palace reverential to the theater-going experience.Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix, appeared Friday as part of Cannes’ NEXT conference to tout Netflix’s global strategy and its desire to upend the traditional window release schedules of movies. Sarandos drew a packed theater in the Palais des Festivals, but not all in attendance were swayed by his prognostications. One French reporter shouted that Netflix will “destroy the film ecosystem in Europe.” Sarandos protested that Netflix would benefit European film. Weinstein Co. co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, a collaborator with Netflix who was sitting in the audience, also came to his defense, calling Netflix “a visionary company.”The confrontation illustrated the unease felt by some at the Cannes Film Festival about the encroachment of digital operators into an art form seen as hallowed in France, the birthplace of cinema.Cannes is a place where a trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, “Hateful Eight,” drew applause when it advertises itself as shot “in glorious 70mm.” On the first day of the festival, jury co-presidents Joel and Ethan Coen were cheered for their disinterest in television.“How do we feel about people watching ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ on their iPhone?” Joel Coen said, pointedly rephrasing a question about digital media. “There’s something special about sitting with a big crowd of people watching a movie on a big 80-foot screen.”But Netflix’s inroads into original movies has been celebrated by many viewers, has helped increase the streaming service’s 60 million-plus subscribers and has drawn a lineup of major names in Hollywood. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement How do cataracts affect your vision?
ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map Meanwhile, in the southern hemisphere, our autumn heralds the start of their spring. Considered a “shoulder season”, travelling now is calmer and more affordable. We know what you’re thinking: fewer crowds and amazing scenery, for less money – what’s the catch? The only downside is that in autumn you’ll rapidly lose daylight hours. Many visitors come in summer to experience the midnight sun (where it’s light 24/7), but by November, daylight hours are limited to 9am to 5:30pm. The silver lining – or, should we say, the many-coloured lining – is that you’re far more likely to catch a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights when it’s dark. New England claims to have the best ‘fall’ colours in the world. It’s a bold claim from the six constituent states, but they’re telling the truth. Thanks to the unique mix of soil and tree type, their landscapes blaze with vivid colour every year. The leaves start changing in the north from mid-September and the colours sweep south until around late October. This is prime time for travellers, or “leaf peepers” – as the locals call them – to arrive in their swarms. The most beautiful spots change yearly, but each state has a dedicated website and hotline (yes, really) with daily updates to help you track down Mother Nature’s finest. Patagonia, Chile Hotels in Munich Flights to Munich from £60 Flights to Santiago from £481 Why visit Iceland in autumn? Number one: from September the crowds tend to disappear. Which leads us nicely to number two: flights, car hire and hotel prices drop. The third reason is unique autumnal scenery: you’ll find deep purples and magentas alongside the traditional reds and yellows. Thingvellir National Park is particularly impressive this time of year, so make the most of that affordable car hire and take a day trip east of Reykjavík. Hotels in Boston Autumn is hands-down the most popular season for visitors, so advance booking is key. Hotels fill up quickly, and smaller inns might ask for a two- or three-night minimum stay. Boston is considered the gateway to New England: most major airlines fly direct and it’s a good starting point to hire a car. Japanese tourists love autumn leaves as much as their blossoms, so book well in advance. Kyoto doesn’t have an airport, and there are no direct flights from the UK to nearby Osaka, but you can take the two-and-a-half hour shinkansen (included in a Japan Rail Pass) to and from Tokyo. New England, USA Hotels in Reykjavik Not only does Patagonia feel more serene and remote at this time of year, but with fewer tourists about, you’ll get more bang for your buck on flights, hotels and tours. Flights from London to Santiago will usually involve a stopover in the US, and then you’ll need a further flight south (to Punta Arenas if you’re heading for Torres del Paine). It can work out cheaper to book each leg of the journey separately. Flights to Reykjavik from £42 This landlocked state of mountains and fairy-tale castles is best experienced in autumn. Don’t miss Neuschwanstein Castle, a turreted wonder set on a lake, made all the more magical by its surrounding patchwork of autumnal forest. The castle is a doable day trip from Munich, but if you’re pushed for time, you can also experience the autumn colours in the city’s English Garden. Bavaria, Germany Flights to Tokyo from £405 RelatedAwesome Autumn: 10 fabulous fall foliage spots for leaf peepingAwesome Autumn: 10 fabulous fall foliage spots for leaf peepingThe BEST time to holiday in the most popular destinationsDeciding when you should jet off can make or break a holiday. After weeks or months of planning, the last thing you want is a holiday plagued by monsoon rains or unbearable heat and crowds. Luckily for you, we’ve done the research and found the best times to visit all…Autumn leaf peeping? Ask SkyscannerAutumn leaf peeping? Ask Skyscanner Flights to Boston from £183 Time your stay right, and not only will you catch nature’s finest, but you can also experience the traditional beer, music and Bavarian clothing of Oktoberfest. The annual 16-18 day folk festival was first held in Munich, and is now celebrated all around the world. Getting here is pretty easy, there are plenty of flights to Munich, but it’s often cheaper to fly into alternative Bavarian airports like Memmingen or Nuremberg. Flight prices were correct based on a search at time of writing (4 Sep 2018) and are subject to change. Hotels in Santiago Kyoto, Japan Rugged landscapes, mountains and glaciers are all characteristic of Patagonia’s wild beauty. From September onwards, the snow begins to melt and the national parks that were closed for their winter finally reopen, which means you can be one of the first footsteps on popular trails like the Paine Circuit in Torres del Paine. The flora and fauna are also at their best. Mountain landscapes swap blankets of snow for a spread of pretty alpine flowers, and you’re more likely to spot shy pumas and huemul deer, who disappear at the first signs of crowds come their summer. Hotels in Kyoto In the northern hemisphere, leaves are on the turn, busy painting landscapes in fiery shades of red and gold. This annual phenomenon makes autumn high season and you’ll likely be competing with locals too, especially on the weekends. Book now to get the best deals. Iceland Think of the best time to visit Japan and cherry blossom season will probably spring to mind. But the autumn foliage – or koyo – is equally beautiful, just in a more modest way. (They’re much easier to catch than the fleeting floral displays too.) You’ll find famous spots all over the country, but Kyoto is a great base. Take in the views from the Tahoto Pagoda at Eikando Temple before wandering through the ruddy gardens. Or visit the famous golden pavilion, Kinkakuji Temple, and frame that iconic photo with russet leaves. Arrived late? No worries. Catch a train south to Nara for richly coloured maple trees and wandering deer. Ready to start planning your autumn getaway? Search flights below:
Police on Tuesday seized around 16 kilos of cocaine that was sent from overseas using a courier company and arrested a 25-year-old man who showed up to collect it in Larnaca.The bust followed a tip from a European country that two packets containing drugs would be arriving in Cyprus on Tuesday, drug squad chief Stelios Sergides said.After their arrival, police took control and waited for the recipient to show up at the carrier company’s office in Larnaca to pick them up.The suspect noticed the officers and tried to flee the scene but he was caught following a short chase.Two private vehicles and one police car were hit in the process.The suspect is expected to be brought before court on Wednesday.You May LikePlarium I Vikings: Free Online GamePlay this for 1 minute and see why everyone is addictedPlarium I Vikings: Free Online GameUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoYahoo SearchYou’ve Never Seen Luxury Like This On A Cruise Ship. Search Luxury Mediterranean CruisesYahoo SearchUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Categories: Cole News,News State Rep. Triston Cole of Mancelona today voted in favor of legislation to safeguard the retirement benefits of police and firefighters.The bills approved by the Michigan House will help identify local governments most at risk of bankruptcy or severe financial hardship due to underfunded retirement plans. The legislation is designed to help local governments avoid financial crisis, so they can continue to pay for promised retiree benefits and public services.“Our goal is to protect the benefits promised to the people who spent their careers protecting us. We want to preserve retiree benefits – not take them away,” Cole said. “That’s why we must do something to address this developing crisis. If we do nothing, police and fire department retirees will be at far greater risk of losing the benefits they’ve worked hard for and deserve.”Michigan’s local government employee retirement systems have unfunded liabilities fast approaching $20 billion.The legislation approved by the House seeks to help communities improve their plans’ finances, mirroring recommendations from a task force assembled by Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this year.The legislation calls for communities to make a minimum level of payments related to retirement systems for new hires. It creates a reporting system with uniform financial and accounting standards for local government retirement plans. An early detection system will help identify potential funding problems so local governments act quickly to mitigate them. Communities will be vetted through a state treasurer’s fiscal impact evaluation and retirement systems will be flagged as underfunded when municipalities aren’t meeting set criteria to alleviate their debts.“The state is not intervening in local plans through this proposal,” Cole said. “Instead, we are working to give local communities the tools they need to fix the financial situation on their own.”House Bill 5298 and companion legislation advance to the Senate for consideration. 07Dec Rep. Cole: Reforms needed to protect retiree benefits for police, firefighters in Michigan
09May Rep. Lower plan eliminates duplicate layers of government red tape Categories: Lower News,News Legislation introduced today by state Rep. Jim Lower reduces the burden on employees and businesses through new occupational licensing parameters.Under Lower’s plan, local governments in Michigan will not be allowed to have licensing requirements for occupations that already are regulated at the state level.“We want to attract professionals to our state. We want businesses to grow and flourish while being job providers in the midst of Michigan’s comeback,” said Lower, of Cedar Lake. “We don’t want businesses to be bogged down through licensing at multiple levels with different agencies or entities. This plan updates and simplifies licensing with what will be a cleaner model.”“The current setup creates a hassle for employers who rely heavily or exclusively on licensed occupational professionals for their business,” Lower said. “They have to worry about multiple forms of licensing in a hiring process instead of putting people to work and serving consumers.”House Bill 5955 creates the Local Government Occupational Licensing Act and is part of a multi-bill package ensuring cities, villages, townships and counties are in accordance with the new legislation. The bill package has been referred to the House Local Government Committee.
20Feb Rep. Yaroch to host spring listening tour State Rep. Jeff Yaroch of Richmond will host a ‘Spring Listening Tour’ to connect directly with people throughout the community. Rep. Yaroch will also be visiting local boards and councils.“Talking to my neighbors and listening to their concerns about state government continues to be one of the most important parts of my job,” Yaroch said. “This listening tour is a great opportunity to directly hear your thoughts and questions about state government and I hope that you will join me.”Rep. Yaroch will be available at the following times and locations:Saturday, March 2 from 11 a.m. to noon at Clinton-Macomb Public Library North Branch, 16800 24 Mile Road in Macomb Township;Monday, March 18 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Richmond City Hall, 36725 Division Road in Richmond;Wednesday, March 27 from 5 to 6 p.m. at Clinton-Macomb Public Library North Branch, 16800 24 Mile Road in Macomb Township;Tuesday, April 2 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Memphis City Hall, 35095 Potter St. in Memphis;Monday, April 22 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Clinton-Macomb Public Library North Branch, 16800 24 Mile Road in Macomb Township;Monday, May 6 from 5 to 6 p.m. at Lenox Township Hall, 63775 Gratiot Ave. in Lenox Township; andMonday, May 13 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Clinton-Macomb Public Library North Branch, 16800 24 Mile Road in Macomb Township.No appointment is necessary. Residents unable to attend or who have questions related to state government may contact Rep. Yaroch’s office by calling (517) 373-0820 or by email at JeffYaroch@house.mi.gov. Categories: Yaroch News
Share51TweetShare16Email67 SharesImage Credit: We Need Affordable Housing, Brooke AndersonJuly 27, 2015; Times-PicayuneIn the absence of a significant commitment of federal dollars to the generation of new affordable housing to meet burgeoning demand nationwide, communities may wish to look to the model being proposed by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. This model induces private developers to set aside units for lower income occupants by allowing greater density. The challenge in New Orleans is the loss of affordable housing due to gentrification, so the Fair Housing Action Center is proposing, in collaboration with the New Orleans City Planning Commission, to provide, among other incentives, increased densities, in exchange for lower income set-asides. The proposed rule would apply to any part of the city that currently allows multifamily units, meaning that the zoning would increase affordable housing development opportunities throughout the city.“If we want long-term residents—the drivers of our cultural and service economy—to be able to live in the neighborhoods that have been home for generations, then we need to solve our affordability crisis, and that will take all the tools at the City’s disposal, including zoning-based initiatives,” said Cashuana Hill, the director of the Action Center, in a written statement. A report from the Center indicates that 58% of renters in New Orleans pay more than 30% of their income toward housing, the threshold definition of being cost-burdened. Renters who aren’t necessarily poor—that is, with incomes between $35,000 and $75,000—are still cost-burdened, with 44% paying more than 30% of monthly income for housing costs.The problem is, given our national inability to generate much support for affordable housing production, it is unclear whether the incentive of allowing market-rate developers to put more units in smaller lots will achieve all that much. According to Robert McClendon, who reported on the new zoning for the Times-Picayune, Planning Commission staff are concerned that the new zoning rule “might not be broad enough to be effective,” especially if other zoning limitations—building height, floor-area ratio, etc.—don’t change.When it comes to the affordable housing crisis, desperate times call for tough measures. Offering a density bonus to market-rate developers in return for affordable housing may not be a solution, but choosing not to pursue this kind of incentive for market-rate developers simply means more high-end housing with no benefit for lower income renters.As logical as the inclusionary zoning/density bonus strategy may be, many cities still fight against the idea. For example, in Encinitas, California, the city council has been concerned about possible inclusionary zoning language that would allow new density bonus developments located near transportation hubs to face reduced off-street parking requirements—though that and other technical objections to the specifics of the density bonus rules seem to have been motivated less by concerns about the effectiveness of the developer incentives and more by resident opposition to increasing residential densities.In some cities, developers can pay their way out of affordable housing set-asides by making cash payments for the creation of off-site lower income units. In New York City, where two super-luxury apartment buildings are planned (as the tallest residential buildings in the city—taller than the Chrysler Building), this issue is in play. The buildings will be constructed on so-called “Billionaires’ Row,” and cash payments will subsidize the development of 23 of 37 affordable units being developed by Friends House. The affordable units will be between 300 and 326 s.f. and will rent for $1,159 a month. In comparison, in one of the Billionaires’ Row towers, there will be 60 super-luxury units, including eight multimillion-dollar duplexes ranging from 5,000 to 6,500 s.f. Members of Community Planning Board 5 are concerned that the cash payments by the Billionaires’ Row developer are insufficient given the affordable housing need.In many cases, there are municipal needs that compete with and sometimes contradict affordable housing priorities. For example, in Austin, Texas, the market-rate developer of a 39-story, 154-unit luxury condominium project will make a $320,000 payment to the city as an alternative to providing on-site affordable housing in development (which is receiving a density bonus), plus a $75,000 contribution to the nonprofit Shoal Creek Conservancy for its efforts to enhance a creek that runs into Austin’s Lady Bird Lake. Should the developer’s contribution to the Conservancy have been part of the deal? Should it have been closer to a $400,000 payment, exclusively for affordable housing? Given that the condo units will be marketed at $500,000 and up, the $320,000 affordable housing payment looks pretty paltry.Maybe the challenge for New Orleans, New York, Encinitas, and Austin (and all other cities) is to calculate their current and projected affordable housing preservation and development needs and make affirmative plans for having those needs met—not just from developer incentives but also through housing trust funds tapping local general funds and federal dollars, exactions on commercial development, building on municipality-owned land, and generating programs to hold down the rents on affordable units so that they don’t become priced out of the reach of lower income tenants. Even with all of that, however, the federal government has to come to the table. It may be time for nonprofits and local government officials to join together to tell the bevy of current presidential candidates what they are doing to generate more affordable housing and demand to get answers from the prospective presidents about what they will do to help meet the affordable housing needs of New Orleans and elsewhere.—Rick CohenShare51TweetShare16Email67 Shares
Share81TweetShareEmail81 SharesJanuary 26, 2016; Fresno BeeAcross the country, older cities are fighting blight in the neighborhoods ravaged by the wave of foreclosures that swept through communities in the wake of the bursting housing bubble. The bubble pushed out resident homeowners and left behind houses that became the targets of squatters, vandals, and speculators. The Fresno Bee story “Fresno’s biggest property manager fighting blight, replacing boarded-up windows with plexiglass” illustrates the challenges of protecting neighbors from blight and encouraging landlords to make affordable housing available to tenants with the lowest incomes.The story focuses on Bryce Hovannisian of JD Home Rental and his efforts to comply with a new set of standards for property maintenance. At issue for Mr. Hovannisian is the cost of preparing a unit for occupancy before it is rented. While “prep for occupancy” is standard practice for large developments, individual rental entrepreneurs who are buying into a depressed housing market in hopes of making a substantial profit often shave some corners.In an effort to comply with Fresno’s new code, the Bee reports, “Hovannisian said his company is taking down boards on vacant homes and replacing them with plexiglass, one requirement of the blight ordinance. Hovannisian would not say how many boarded homes he is responsible for in the city but said, ‘I have it all,’ referring to the supply of plexiglass in Fresno.”Mr. Hovannisian describes his business plan on the JD Homes website:JD Home Rentals buys homes in any condition for cash. We do not resell the property so you or your renter can stay as a tenant. We will value and close your property in as little as 10 days, no gimmicks, and no run around. Fill out the form below for an evaluation.His operation seems a cut above the “flippers” and “strippers” who hang signs on telephone poles. Still, his business is well known around Fresno for being the target of local neighborhood activists.Even in cities where code enforcement has been a priority, finding funds to support the work of finding absentee owners, dragging them into court, and then holding them accountable is a constant problem. The latest HUD appropriations signal more reductions in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding that cities customarily use for code enforcement work. HUD figures show that FY 2015 funding is just slightly above 2012 levels and a cut from the levels in 2013 and 2014. FY 2016 funding level is the same as FY 2015. One of the dangers of “block granting” as a public policy has been that recipient cities see the funding level as the “cap” on their programs…regardless of the need.Code enforcement is much more expensive than demolition—the other favorite strategy of the post Great Recession era, but the persistence of overgrown lots is not much better than boarded-up abandoned properties. Here’s the other reason code enforcement makes sense for cities. The demand for “affordable” housing continues unabated, but few developers are stepping up to replace demolished housing with new affordable units. Still, some would argue that having no neighbors is better than living next to the folks willing to live in broken-down hulks. This week’s Marketplace captured the frustration of Dayton residents: “Neighborhoods Over Politics wants the city to work with residents to create a demolition plan for each neighborhood—and then, a redevelopment plan. The city does some targeted demolitions now, but says it just doesn’t have the money or the staffing to keep up with every neighborhood’s needs.”—Spencer WellsShare81TweetShareEmail81 Shares
Vimpelcom has sold its 75% stake in DVB-H technology company Dominant.The Russian telco sold its stake to businessman Yevgeny Roitman, who already owned 25% of the company. Roitman is planning to transform the company from a DVB-H specialist into a DVB-T2 outfit. The value of the deal is unknown but thought to run into millions of US dollars.Vimpelcom acquired its stake in Dominant for US$10.5 million (€8 millon) in 2007. It launched a DVB-H network in 2009, investing up to US$15 million in the project. However, the technology has proved unpopular in Russia and even Vimpelcom failed to launch DVB-H services via its Beeline TV brand.
Use of catch-up services and legal pay VOD services in France grew by over a quarter between January 19 and January 31, following the closure of the MegaUpload website, according to a study by the Hadopi, the commission set up to implement the law of the same name to counter illegal filesharing.Use of catch-up TV grew by 25%, while use of pay VOD jumped by 35%, according to the Hadopi, which also noted that visits to illegal streaming sites fell by 19.5% over the same period.The Hadopi based its findings on Mediametrie/NetRatings’ survey of 50 sites and a number of other studies including the TV Online barometer.
KPN will not proceed with its planned acquisition of cable service provider Caiway.The Dutch telco said the country’s competition authority, NMa, has too many objections against the transaction.Caiway provides television, broadband and telephony services in several municipalities in the Netherlands through the cable and fibre infrastructures of CIF and a number of regional cable operators. The acquisition was first announced last May, with KPN set to acquire Caiway’s activities and network lease contracts but leaving the passive infrastructure assets. KPN planned to provide open access to other operators and service providers.The completion of the acquisition was subject to approval by the NMa, which has expressed concern that KPN would get a dominant position in the areas that Caiway operates in.
Portuguese media company Media Capital has reported a 23% fall in operating revenues as a result of falling advertising revenues for its television division. The company, which operates commercial broadcaster TVI as well as news channel TVI 24 and radio stations and a television production arm, saw operating revenues fall to €90.9 million in its latest financial quarter with overall advertising revenues of €57.6 million, an 18% drop in the comparable period last year.“In terms of financial performance, and given the difficult economic environment, the TV segment saw its operating revenues falling 11% (down 5% year-on-year in Q2). Advertising revenues came 21% lower than in 2011 (down 19.2% excluding the elections effect in the first half of 2011). Media Capital estimates the free-to-air advertising market to have fallen by approximately 22% year-on-year. In the quarter, advertising revenues also stood 21% below last year’s figure (down 19% excluding the elections), also on a year-on-year basis. In the same period, the Group estimates the free-to-air market to have decreased by 18%,” it noted in its results.Separately, the company has seen an increase in subscribers for its international networks. The company launched TVI Internacional in 2010, which airs content from its TVI and TV24 stations, and it airs across Africa and in certain territories across Europe including Andorra, Luxembourg, France and Switzerland. During the first six months of the year, it increased the number of subscribers to 250,000.
HBO’s Game of ThronesRussian service provider VimpelCom, which operates under the Beeline brand, has launched local producer and channel provider Amedia’s premium channel and subscription video-on-demand service, Amedia Premium HD.The Amedia service will be available for RUB299 a month (€6.25), enabling viewers to watch their favourite shows and movies an unlimited number of times.The addition of Amedia Premium HD will bring content including HBO shows Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire to Beeline viewers. Amedia has said it plans to expand the range of content available on the service, including the introduction of home produced Russian series.
Over seven in 10 French internet users now use catch-up TV services – 72% in 2014 as against 69% in 2013 – consuming 311 million videos a month last year against 207 million in 2013, according to a study by media regulator the CSA.However, the current model of advertising support for catch-up may be unsustainable, with a pay TV option offering a possible way forward, according to the regulator.Over 15,300 hours of free-to-air content were available on French catch-up services at the end of last year, up 9% on 2013.About half the available catalogue content available – 47% – was drama, followed by documentaries – 27% – animation – 26% and movies – 1% – according to the CSA.Pay TV providers made content from about 70 channels available on catch-up, while Canal+ and OCS made movies and series available for up to one month after their initial airing.Catch-up TV drove online TV growth of 40% last year, with the proportion of linear TV online falling relative to the total. Catch-up now accounts for 86% of video consumption online.TV sets now account for 38% of catch-up viewing, with computers accounting for 40% and mobiles and tablets for 22%.The CSA noted that broadcasters face challenges in making money from catch-up services, with the bulk of revenues coming from advertising. However, problems including a lack of a unified measurement system, downward pressure on prices and a limited additional inventory. Internet service providers, meanwhile, are under pressure to recover some of the costs of distribution the CSA noted.The CSA said that the current economic model for services is probably unsustainable in the longer term, delivering lower growth than hoped for in the face of competition from YouTube and other services and demands from ISPs for a slice of the available advertising revenue. It also found that a model whereby broadcasters bypassed ISPs’ boxes and delivered a ‘pure OTT’ service would be destructive of value.The CSA suggested that a pay model, while difficult to execute and facing a number of commercial, technical and regulatory challenges, could have advantages for free-to-air commercial players. It suggested that a partnership with ISPs to deliver a segmented on-demand offering, including low-cost catch-up, could provide one way forward.
Some 97% of 12 to 24 year-olds are affected by boredom, despite the average teenager in countries like the UK now owning up to six connected devices, according to MTV.The youth broadcaster’s new research study ‘F*ck Boring, Ignite Passion’ said that two-thirds of young people claimed to be bored on a weekly basis and nearly one-quarter on a daily basis.Of those surveyed, 40% said that “mindlessly browsing the internet” was one of the most boring activities they undertook, more so than school (39%) and work (33%).“The results surprised us – given this generation’s access to technology and a seemingly limitless range of content, we thought boredom might barely exist for youth,” said Kerry Taylor, who was appointed as the first chief marketing officer for Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) UK – MTV’s parent company – in March.“Understanding our audience is critical to our business, and insights like these reinforce the importance of cross-platform initiatives that unleash our audience’s creativity and inspire them by tapping into what they’re passionate about.”The MTV study surveyed more than 15,000 people aged 12 to 24 across 26 countries – including the UK, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Argentina, Colombia, Malaysia, Indonesia and China.
Polish telecom operator Netia’s TV base grew by 18% year-on-year to reach 152,000 by the end of June, meaning that 37% of the company’s broadband base use its TV service.Netia said that it had prioritized growth of the TV base through selling TV services to new customers this year, either via its up-to-date next-generation access network or via its acquired Aster HFC net.Netia had 771,000 broadband customers at the end of June, a decline of 7% year-on-year. The operator lost 9,100 broadband customers in the quarter to June. The company said it was focusing on services provided via its own network rather than those provided under regulated access on third-party networks.Netia posted revenues of PLN769.1 million for the first half of the year, down about 10%. Second quarter revenues amounted to PLN380.3 million, down 2%. The decline overall was mostly attributed to lower subscriber numbers.Adjusted EBITDA was PLN223.1 million for the first half, down 14%, while EBITDA for he quarter was PLN109.8 million, down 3%.Netia is currently in the process of integrating TK Telekom, the enterprise-focused operator whose acquisition was completed on July 21 for about PLN222 million.
Facebook is focusing its video efforts by trialling a new section designed to help people discover, watch and share videos on the service.The dedicated video destination marks Facebook’s latest attempt to take on the likes of YouTube and will let viewers watch videos from friends, pages they follow and other video publishers on Facebook.The new section will also give access to ‘saved videos’ – another new feature that Facebook is testing that lets users click a save button to watch videos later.Facebook said it is initially testing the feature with “a small number of people” and that it will be accessible via a ‘Videos’ icon at the bottom of the Facebook app on iPhone or in the ‘Favorites’ section on the left-hand side of News Feed on the web.The introduction of a video section on Facebook follows a recent suggested video trial for iPhone users, designed to make it easy for users to discover multiple related videos in a row after tapping a video from the News Feed.“While we’re still in the early days of testing, we’re pleased with initial results, which show that people who have suggested videos are discovering and watching more new videos,” said Facebook vice-president of product management, Will Cathcart.“We’ve now rolled out suggested videos to most people on iPhone globally, and are starting to test ads within the experience. We are also starting to test this on the web, and plan to test on Android phones in the coming months.”In an update about new video experiences on Facebook, the social network said it has also been working on a number of features to help publishers to better manage and control their videos on the site.“We recently began testing new video matching technology with a set of partners, with the long-term goal of providing a comprehensive video management system for creators,” said Cathcart.“We’ve also rolled out new video tools for Pages — like updates to Page Insights and video upload improvements — to help video publishers grow their businesses on Facebook.”Other recent video developments at Facebook include the rollout of 360-degree immersive video support in September. A month earlier, the company announced that public figures on the site can share live video with their fans on the site – a feature that has been used by celebrities like actor Vin Diesel and tennis player Serena Williams.In September 2014 Facebook said that for months it had been averaging more than 1 billion video views on the service each day. Cathcart said that since then video “has continued to grow on Facebook” and has become “an integral part of how people around the world discover, watch and share videos they care about every day”.This summer, a report by research firm Ampere Analysis said that Facebook is making a “serious play” for content owners and looks poised to take on YouTube’s dominance in video. It said that video views are “rocketing” and trials with content owners like NFL and Fox Sports “suggest it’s primed to become a plausible alternative to YouTube.”
Canal+ has signed a new non-exclusive distribution deal with rival BeIN Sports following the French competition watchdog’s refusal to greenlight the pair’s planned exclusive partnership, according to local press.The deal between the Qatar-owned sports broadcaster and the Vivendi-owned pay TV outfit gives BeIN Sports a guaranteed source of revenues for several years, while the service will remain potentially available via other providers such as Orange, Free or SFR, according to BFM TV, which broke the story.The agreement is a renewal of a deal originally struck in 2012 that sees BeIN Sports receive revenues in line with the number of subscribers signed up for its service via Canal+.Under the exclusive partnership sought by the pair but vetoed in June by the competition regulator, Canal+ would have paid €400 million a year to secure exclusive carriage of BeIN Sports on its pay TV service.In rejecting an exclusive tie-up, the country’s competition authority ruled “that the conditions are not currently satisfied to lift the ban on exclusive broadcasting of premium sports” imposed on Canal+ in 2012 years ago, which is not due to expire until 2017.
Russian pay TV operator NTV+ has completed the migration of its service from MPEG-2 to the MPEG-4 format.According to the pay TV provider, the move will free up satellite capacity, enabling it to extend its offering with the addition of new HD channels.NTV+ has provided a hardware verification page on its website to enable users to check of their boxes or conditional access modules can receive the signal of if they need to upgrade.The operator is offering set-tops and CAMs at special discounted prices to enable subscribers to make the shift.The move to MPEG-4 also saw NTV+ change the settings of a number of channels.