RelatedTop 9 things to do in Washington DCWhere else on Earth can you find a park that’s home to a spaceship, the world’s tallest stone structure and a six metre-tall president?Stress-free holiday planning – the 10 steps you need to knowWant to take the stress out of holiday planning? Follow these easy tips and whether your dream holiday is the beach, a cosmopolitan city, or an epic road trip, you can even enjoy the research, booking and packing that will get you there. Imagine that! 1. Set your budget Photo credit: Christine Roy Your…A budgeter’s guide to booking aheadYou’ve booked the best deal on your flights and hotel, and the excitement is brimming… now what? Here are seven ways a little pre-holiday planning can save you money and have you breezing past the queues. 1. Book the essentials Photo credit: Austin Neill These are the items you can’t… Philadelphia is a city of firsts. It’s home to the US’s first ever fire department and America’s oldest ice cream company; its streets were the first of the grid-style metropolis that would come to dictate town-planning for years to come; and it was also the first capital of the USA.If you’re planning your own first, with an inaugural visit to the City of Brotherly Love, don’t feel overwhelmed by the wealth of things to do in Philadelphia, check out our nine essentials instead.1. Relive the Rocky stepsLoad up your iPod with Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now and put on your running shoes: we all know that famous scene. The steps to Philadelphia’s Museum of Art are one of the most popular attractions in the city, immortalized by Sylvester Stallone as a resilient Rocky Balboa in the 1976 film. Recreation of the epic scene is an absolute must for every visitor, and even if you’re not a Rocky fan, the views of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the Philadelphia skyline are worth the 72 step climb.https://instagram.com/p/130c-lkqYg/2. Get knocked out by cheese steakA Philly cheesesteak lunch will write off your afternoon: you’ll stumble around the city’s grid in a satiated haze of meat sweats and occasional palpitations. But don’t be put off by the cheesesteak coma; it’s every bit worth it as it is bad for your health. Created by accident on a hotdog stand in the 1930s, this long bread roll filled with ribeye beef and smothered in melted cheese has become a Philadelphia institution. Head to Jim’s Steaks on South Street for reliably ruinous fare.https://instagram.com/p/YDqXpPtFYP/3. Soak up powerful historyPhiladelphia is known as the birthplace of American democracy. It was inside Philly’s Independence Hall that the Founding Fathers of the USA debated and signed the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Today, this area of the city has been designated a free-to-visit National Historical Park and Unesco Heritage Site. You can visit a museum to learn about prominent revolutionary and inventor Benjamin Franklin or pay homage to the Founding Fathers at the Christ Church Burial Ground.https://instagram.com/p/2CAp-cI71N/4. Get hands on at the Science MuseumSitting at the southern end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the science museum at the Franklin Institute is the perfect place to entertain the kids. They can climb through a two-storey tall neural network to learn about the brain, get star-struck in the Planetarium, and be bowled over by the 180-degree IMAX movie theatre.https://instagram.com/p/1_K0HMNjfA/5. Eat Amish cake at Reading Terminal MarketSince 1892 the Reading Terminal Market has been supplying the city’s residents with fresh farm produce from the surrounding countryside. Today, it’s one of the highlights of Philadelphia for locals and visitors alike, with vendors and food stalls serving up a huge variety of delicious food, from Asian cuisine to American classics. Our tip? Head to the northwestern corner of the building for some sickly-sweet Amish cakes.https://instagram.com/p/2BSxjlldVj/6. Marvel at great (and sometimes quirky) artWith more public art on view than any other city in the USA, Philadelphia is a creative’s dream destination. There are huge, striking murals on almost every corner and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the third largest art museum in the country, has an astonishing array of works. But for something a little offbeat, head to the Rodin Museum to see hundreds of naked forms sculpted by the famous Frenchman.https://instagram.com/p/2CPnz6jC97/7. Go guilt-free shoppingAs the birthplace of Urban Outfitters and home to some excellent designer outlet malls, Philadelphia’s shopping scene is a sight to behold for the bargain hunter. But it’s made even better by state-wide tax-free purchases on clothes and shoes. So bring nothing but the shirt on your back and a big bag – you won’t go home empty-handed.https://instagram.com/p/156vRfJEA6/8. Have a Prohibition-style night outPhilly after dark is as colourful as by day: you can relax in a suave rooftop bar overlooking the lights below, or sip locally-brewed craft beer in an old pub. But you definitely can’t visit Philadelphia without experiencing some live jazz. Time Bar & Restaurant has regular live music in its downstairs bar or, for a real speakeasy experience, seek out the extremely inconspicuous Ranstead Room. Once you find the discreet entrance, enjoy creative cocktails from your red leather booth or at the bar, where the bearded and bow-tied waiters will make drinks to suit any taste.https://instagram.com/p/xf8F63oaoZ/Get more USA holiday inspiration:10 great things to do in ChicagoFrom blues to views, baseball to beaches, art to science, shopping to… doughnuts, we take in 10 of Chicago’s top attractions.10 best things to do in New YorkGet the inside gen on NYC with our local’s guide to 10 of the best things to see, do and eat in New York. How to see Philadelphia with a babyIf you’re heading to Philly with a baby, you’ll want to check out this post.Check flights to PhiladelphiaFind hotels in PhiladelphiaSkyscanner is the world’s travel search engine, helping your money go further on flights, hotels and car hire.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map
ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepartReturnCabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map *Published March 2017. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.Discover more of Spain, with our city break guidesMadrid’s top things to see and doWant to visit Madrid like a local? From tempting churros and tapas bars to experimental theatre, we bring you the best things to do in Madrid beyond the Plaza Mayor…Top attractions and things to do in BarcelonaBarcelona boasts striking architecture and beautiful city beaches that keep the tourists flocking in, but dig a little deeper and you’ll also find a distinctive Catalonian culture. The best of Malaga’s sights and attractionsWe bring you what to see and do in Malaga, capital of the Costa del Sol and brimful of Andalucian charm.Skyscanner is the world’s travel search engine, helping your money go further on flights, hotels and car hire. 6. Descend into Canelobre CavesCanelobre Caves are located in Busot, a scenic 24km drive from Alicante. Take a guided tour of the caves in the side of the mountain to see the jagged teeth of the stalacites and stalagmites, made all the more dramatic by the coloured lighting displays. Don’t miss the dramatic 70-metre high cave, one of the tallest in Spain, and resembling a vaulted cathedral ceiling. Tours are held throughout the day and take around 45 minutes. Opening times: (Sept to June) Tues to Fri 10.30am – 4.50pm, Sat, Sun & holidays 10.30am – 5.50pm. (July & Aug/Holy Week) Daily 10.30am – 7.30pm.Location: Busot, Alicante province.Price: Adults €7.50, Children 5-14 €3.50. 10. Buy localShops in Alicante are a treasure trove for locally produced leather pieces such as handbags and purses, along with crafts and handmade jewellery. The main shopping street is the Rambla de Mendez Nunez, a leafy thoroughfare dotted with cafes and bars. To the north of here, the fascinating Mercado Central farmer’s market is a must. Housed in a grand 100-year-old building, you’ll find dozens of stalls selling local produce including fresh fruit, wines and spices. 11. Cocktails on Plaza Portal de ElcheOne of Alicante’s favourite places to refuel is the fig-tree-festooned Plaza Portal de Elche, something of a hot spot as evening falls. It’s on the bottom half of the Rambla de Mendez Nunez, on the east side and is bristling with cafe bars with open-air tables spilling out into the street. Try 26 Cafe Lounge Bar for good-value cocktails with generous measures. 3. Browse the Alicante Museum of Contemporary Art (MACA)Art enthusiasts will enjoy the collection of twentieth century contemporary art at the Alicante Museum of Contemporary Art, hosted in a Baroque town house which also happens to be the oldest civil building in the Old Town of Alicante. There are over 800 pieces of art across three collections at the museum from greats such as Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris and Juana Frances, as well as local artist, Eusebio Sempere, who founded the collection.Opening times: Tues to Sat 10am – 8pm (summer opening at 11am); Sun & holidays 10am – 2pm. Location: Plaza de Santa Maria.Price: Free. 15. Head northExplore the Alicante province to the north, and you might find that slice of authentic Spanish life you’ve been craving. Jávea is a historic port just over an hour’s drive from the city, where you can wander through low-rise sandstone buildings and feel the breeze from the marine in the unchanged fishing community of Pueblo. Alternatively, head for the hills, to villages like the little-heard-of Sax, a town with an intriguing mix of medieval and Moorish heritage, looked over by a dramatic hill-top castle. Half the fun of exploring this region is the journey, where citrus-scented trees line the hills and the silence in the lush valleys is broken only by occasional parish church bells. Search for flights to Alicante here 9. Join in with Hogueras de San JuanAlicante has a calendar full of exciting events, yet none are more prominent than the Bonfires of Saint John, a summer solstice festival celebrated along the Spanish coast. It takes place between the 19th and 24th June, and events include an International Folklore Parade, Street Band Parade and a fireworks show culminating in the final event, the burning of the ninots, or wooden and papier maché figures; these days, they’re more often dressed up to look like contemporary politicians and celebrities. The Bonfires of Saint John are such an important part of Alicante culture that there is a Fogueres Festival Museum, documenting the traditions, costumes and wooden ninots from previous festivals who’ve managed to avoid a fiery demise. For visitors, it’s probably the best beach party you’re likely find in these parts. 5. Snorkel on Tabarca IslandAlicante isn’t traditionally thought of as a destination for snorkelling, yet an amazing place to do so is the islet of Tabarca, a few miles off the coast of Alicante. As a protected marine reserve, Tabarca is a haven for marine life and birds including loggerhead turtles, lobsters and a variety of fish. After snorkelling you can explore the small islet’s attractions which include beaches, quaint whitewashed streets, church, lighthouse and local restaurants serving Tabarca’s speciality dish; caldero, a rice and fish stew. There are three boats daily travelling between Tabarca Island and Alicante Port, taking around 45 minutes each way. 8. Basílica de Santa MaríaAlthough it’s not a particularly colourful building, both the exterior and interior of the Basílica de Santa María (Santa Maria Church) are impressive. Intricate stonework in a Baroque style outlines the door into the small church, which was built between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. Inside, watch out for the intricate Rococo altarpiece and seventeenth century organ.Opening times: Mornings/religious services only – check with your hotel or tourist office for times.Location: Old Town, Plaza de Santa Maria.Price: Free. 4. Go traditional at Gravina Museum of Fine Arts (MUBAG)Continuing with the arts theme, the Gravina Museum of Fine Arts is little more traditional in its tastes, with a focus on paintings and sculptures of Alicante by regional artists from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century such as Antonio Gisbert, Francisco Salzillo and Joaquin Agrasot. Gravina Palace itself, or the Palacio Provincial, is worth a gander, too, its stone facade built from the mountain rock from the nearby Sierra de San Julián.Opening times: Tues to Sat 10am – 8pm, Sun & holidays 10am – 2pm. (July & Aug only) Tues to Sat 11am – 9pm, sun & holidays 11am – 3pm.Location: Gravina Palace, Carrer Gravina, Old Town.Price: Free. ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepartReturnCabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map 13. Pick your Alicante beachYou may be looking for a culture-fuelled city break, but you are on the Costa Blanca after all, so set aside at least one day for sunning yourself on the toasty warm sands. The shores hereabouts are well known for their Blue Flag standards, and there are lots of them, from central Postiguet beach to the more unusual Playa de Agua Amarga, developed specially with dogs in mind, including umbrella lounge pads where your pooch can relax in the shade! Crowded resorts not your thing? To spread out your towel without fearing of bumping elbows, go for a quiet spot like La Almadraba, perfect for watching the sun go down. 12. Taste fresh seafood at Pesca al PesoFor fresh unfussy seafood that speaks for itself, head to this local favourite. Its concept is simple – pick out the juicest-looking morsels from the market-style display, pay for what you eat by weight and collect when it’s ready and piping hot. Add sides like rice and salad and you’re done!Opening times: 12pm – 5pm & 7pm – 1am.Location: Calle Mayor 22.Price: Mains €9-20. 14. Sample the local vinesNot many people know the region around Alicante is a wine-producing hotspot. Vinalopó is a rural area some 45 minutes from the city where you can spend a leisurely day tasting various vintages in the local bodegas (wine cellars), often paired with other regional specialties like olives and antipasti. Look out for the local rich and fruity red, Monastrell. Tramuntana offer day tours with experienced guides who will offer up a little wine-making history on the side of your tipples. 1. Climb up to Santa Barbara CastleSanta Barbara Castle is a tenth century fortress which has played an important role in the history of Alicante. The imposing location is one of the main draws – from its position atop Mount Benacantil the castle provides unrivalled views of Alicante and the surrounding area, especially from ‘La Torreta’ or the upper keep. The Museum of the City of Alicante (MUSA) is located inside of the castle and has 10 exhibition halls covering the history of the city and the castle.Opening times: (Oct to Mar) Daily, 10am – 8pm; (April, May, June and Sept) 10am – 10pm; (July & Aug) 10am – 12am.Location: Mount Benacantil. Walk, drive or take a lift (€2.70 per person) to the top from Postiguet Beach.Price: Free. 2. Dig deeper at MARQ Provincial Archaeological MuseumA visit to MARQ Provincial Archaeological Museum goes hand in hand with a trip to the Santa Barbara Castle and Museum and the Guadalest Valley (see below). The award-winning MARQ Museum explores the journey Alicante has taken from the Roman era to more recent times, local geography and the nature behind the varied landscapes which surround the city through interactive exhibitions, artefacts and audio-visual displays.Opening times: Tues to Fri 10am – 7pm, Sat 10am – 8.30pm, Sun & holidays 10am – 2pm.Location: Plaza Dr. Gómez Ulla. Price: €3, Concessions €1.50, under 8s are free. RelatedThe best hotels in Alicante for every budgetAlicante, on the Costa del Sol, is home to wide range of accommodation options if you’re looking to book a summer holiday. From good value, affordable hotels on the beach to boutique hotels in Alicante’s old town. Finding somewhere to stay that suits your budget is is easy, just read…Holiday destinations and inspiration: Travel guides for 2017Looking for holiday inspiration? Whether it’s Alicante or New York, a beach holiday or city break that you’re planning, here are some of the best holiday destinations in the world, with in-depth travel guides to help you pick the perfect escape.5 flights for less than £50!Five fantastic flights for under £50; everyone has an excuse to take a budget city break this month. ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map How to get to AlicanteLike many other Spanish holiday destinations, you can get direct flights to Alicante from several regional UK airports like Newcastle and Belfast International, as well as London airports Luton, Stansted, Gatwick and Southend. With easyjet and Ryanair operating most of the routes, you’ll have no problem finding a budget fare.The nearest airport to Alicante is Alicante Airport, located in Elche, around 9km outside the city and also the closest to other Costa Blanca resorts like Benidorm.Start searching for your Alicante flights using our comparison tool: Where to stay in AlicanteFor the cheapest accommodation, try a city centre hostel like X Hostel Alicante, ideal for young travellers wanting to mix with the party crowd (but bring your earplugs if you want to sleep at the weekends!) Dorm beds cost from £14.More peaceful rooms can be found at Hotel Castilla Alicante, further up the coast near Playa San Juan, though the area is still well-populated with supermarkets and other amenities (from £34). Looking for a luxury hotel? Get a surprising amount for your money (£60+ a night) at El Plantio Golf Resort. Views from the rooms look over the lovely gardens, backed by mountain scenery, and it’s handily located between the city and Alicante Airport.Search for hotels in Alicante 7. Guadalest ValleyGuadalest Valley, 63km from Alicante, is one of the most visited attractions on the Costa Blanca. There are endless photo opportunities thanks to the stunning views, waterfalls and Guadalest Village situated on the mountain top, overlooking a reservoir. The village itself has a number of attractions such as the Guadalest Castle, shops selling local produce and crafts, and eight museums including the Miniatures of Manuel Ussa Museum and Doll’s Houses Museum. There are guided coach tours available from Alicante Marina to Guadalest Valley, or hire a car from Alicante to explore the area at your own pace (and make the most of those viewpoints!).
13Feb McCready introduces trio of bills based on local recommendations Lawmaker: Bills are common-sense fixes to help homeownersState Rep. Mike McCready today introduced three bills to help homeowners and ensure local governing bodies are working more effectively and efficiently.House Bill 5319 adds language to the Michigan Condominium Act to require individuals running for a condo board to certify they are familiar with the act and have read the bylaws for that particular development. The idea was first brought to McCready’s attention by a local resident.“It was clear this small change would help ensure knowledgeable and well-prepared individuals are serving our condo communities,” said McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills. “Input from residents is vital to my work in Lansing, and it pushed me to introduce this legislation. It’s a minor adjustment to the law, but it’s one that is essential for the good management of these housing developments.”McCready also introduced House Bills 5317 and 5318, which set limits on how often homeowners are required to have their residential sprinkler systems tested.“Current law only mandates testing at least every three years, but some local authorities have instituted annual testing, which is costly and time consuming for homeowners,” McCready said. “By changing the requirements so that testing only occurs once every three years, we can save our hard-working taxpayers some unneeded hassles while still making sure that quality and safety are not compromised.”Residential sprinkler systems that have a chemical injection system installed would still be tested more frequently.HB 5319 was referred to the House Local Government Committee, while HBs 5317 and 5318 are before the House Regulatory Reform Committee.### Categories: Govt of the People,McCready News
Categories: Brann News,Brann Photos State Rep. Tommy Brann yesterday took part in the sixth annual Legislative Polar Plunge on the Capitol lawn to benefit Special Olympics Michigan. Special Olympics Michigan places a pool on the Capitol lawn and invites legislators to raise funds for the group and take a plunge in support of the nonprofit. “I am more than happy to brave the cold for such an outstanding organization,” said Rep. Brann. Special Olympics Michigan brings year-round sports training and athletic competition to more than 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Michigan. 03Mar Rep. Brann takes Polar Plunge for Special Olympics
03Nov Rep. Webber issues statement on auto insurance vote Representative Michael Webber of Rochester Hills issued the following statement after voting against House Bill 5013, which would have made changes to Michigan’s auto insurance system:“Many have been following the auto insurance debate in Lansing with a promise of rate reductions – something that all residents want. After not supporting House Bill 5013 in the House Insurance Committee last week, I worked on amendments that were important to many members that would add transparency and oversight to lower our auto insurance rates. One amendment added needed transparency to the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association – with a fund that holds over $20 billion of our ratepayer money – while also suspending the per vehicle assessment until the Legislature could better understand the health of the fund. This rate relief of $170 per vehicle would be the first rebate since the one secured by Governor Engler in the late 1990s and would represent the only true rate reduction guaranteed in the bill. The second amendment would end the “file and use” practice of insurance companies filing their rates with the state, but beginning to charge them without prior approval. Additional oversight is necessary when our state has the highest rates in the nation.“Unfortunately, neither amendment was adopted into the final version of the bill and so I voted ‘no’ on the final product on the House floor. This highly flawed piece of legislation written to benefit the insurance companies and trial lawyers would not solve many of the problems facing our auto no fault system. The bill shifts cost from insurance companies to our state budget and taxpayers, does not guarantee a meaningful rate reduction, and does not provide the oversight and transparency rate payers would like to see. Who would win under this bill? Not the residents of the Greater Rochester area.“There are other bills that have been introduced in a bipartisan fashion that can continue to drive discussion towards a meaningful compromise that can pass the House, the Senate and be signed by the Governor. There is a process to get legislation passed in Lansing. To simply put a bill up for a vote on the House floor that does not have the votes, and would not be taken up by the Senate, is an ineffective strategy at best and will do nothing to actually lower rates. I am happy to see the conversation surrounding auto no fault continue. I stand ready to work with my colleagues in the House and the Senate on both sides of the aisle to find a real solution that addresses fraud, offers real reforms that will lower costs for rate payers, and lessen the number of no fault related lawsuits.” Categories: News,Webber News
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Aaron Miller, of Sturgis, welcomed local Pastor Terry Cropper (middle) from Bethel Baptist Church in Three Rivers to the state Capitol to lead Wednesday’s invocation for the Michigan House of Representatives. House tradition calls for a representative or clergy member to begin each day’s session with a prayer. Joining them at the rostrum was Speaker Pro Tempore Jason Wentworth (left).### 20Jun Rep. Miller welcomes local pastor to lead House invocation Categories: Miller News
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares David Bostock / Shutterstock.comDecember 10, 2014; Voice of AmericaThe policies of Australia, one of the world’s worst polluters, have spun and spun again with regard to climate change. The latest about-face happened at the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru. To everyone’s great surprise, the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, announced a $165 million contribution to a United Nations fund that helps poorer nations combat climate change.It was a surprise because until then, the government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott had been relentless in its efforts to undo what the previous administration had put in place as its response to climate change. Yet even that previous government had a record of reversals; in fact, the previous government had reversed its own much earlier climate change commitments.Perversely, Australia’s ambivalence about climate change exists even despite the fact that Australia is considered to be the world’s biggest carbon dioxide polluter. Maybe the constant changing is explained by poet Dorothea Mackellar, who wrote one of Australia’s defining poems, My Country.I love a sunburnt country,A land of sweeping plains,Of ragged mountain ranges,Of droughts and flooding rains. The poem continues:Core of my heart, my country!Her pitiless blue sky,When sick at heart, around us,We see the cattle die —But then the grey clouds gather,And we can bless againThe drumming of an army,The steady, soaking rain. Core of my heart, my country!Land of the Rainbow Gold,For flood and fire and famine,She pays us back threefold –Perhaps it’s this endless cycle of droughts, floods, and fires that confuses Australia’s political leaders.President Obama may have thought Australia needed some steadying when he attended the Go8 conference in Brisbane last month. This was to the great annoyance of Tony Abbott, who, as conference host, had insisted, domestically at least, that climate change would not be discussed the summit. Nevertheless, Obama quite deliberately placed climate change full square on the agenda—as though it wouldn’t be so soon after signing the joint declaration with China. To be sure, though, he made a speech at an Australian university in which he specifically (and, given his host’s views, possibly undiplomatically) called upon Australia’s young people “to step up” on climate change.Obama also pointedly drew attention to the possible future of one of Australia’s iconic natural attractions: “The incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened. Worldwide, this past summer was the hottest on record. No nation is immune, and every nation has a responsibility to do its part.”However, since Prime Minister Tony Abbott came to power, he has taken such steps as scrapping the so-called “carbon tax.” (Actually, it was not a tax but a carbon-pricing scheme.) Oddly, too, only a week before Lima, Abbott had announced a cut $4 million from the UN Environment Program (UNEP), which provides advice on environmental policies and climate change negotiations. Currently, the Abbott government is attempting to undo the previous government’s renewable energy targets. Earlier, it sacked the Climate Commission, which had been established to provide public information on the effects of and potential solutions to global warming.It wasn’t always thus in the Land of Oz. Back in 2007, the then–Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, won great plaudits when he made signing the Kyoto climate protocol among his first acts after being elected—“thus,” he said, “demonstrating my Government’s commitment to tackling climate change.” Rudd’s reneging on this highly symbolic act is generally considered to be a chief reason for his losing the confidence of, and later overthrow from, the leadership by his party colleagues.However, what might have been seen as a small victory for climate advocates has been somewhat tempered by the revelation that the $165 million will be taken from Australia’s foreign aid budget, which has already been cut by billions of dollars.—John GodfreyShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share13TweetShare6Email19 SharesBy Steampowered32 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia CommonsAugust 1, 2016; Washington PostTwice a year, the politically powerful Koch brothers convene a large gathering of conservative mega-donors to target hundreds of millions of dollars into political campaigns. Their focus has been to support candidates and policies that support a small government, almost libertarian philosophy. At this gathering, strategies to oppose and repeal the Affordable Care Act have been developed and funded. From this network, support of Mitt Romney’s effort to defeat Barack Obama’s reelection was developed. Their approach to dealing with poverty has adhered closely to the Reagan-era focus on lowering taxes on the rich so that the poor would be helped through the “trickle-down” effect. Direct action by government to cure societal ills was anathema to the Koch approach. From afar, it seemed that the pain of poverty was not a topic on their agenda.But this year’s convening, which began only days ago, seemed remarkably different: “As top network officials and supporters met at a sumptuous mountain resort here this weekend, there was one dominant focus: the yawning gap between America’s privileged elite and working class.” Charles Koch has long been concerned about the threat of the U.S. becoming a “two-tiered” system. For the last year, he’s expressed a desire to find a way for individuals to succeed economically without “gaming the system” while still ending government overspending. Perhaps scared by the successes of the Trump and Sanders campaigns in mobilizing the anger of those who see the economy as structured to make the rich richer, the Koch network appears to be shifting its focus from Washington politics to “intensifying its investments to support communities, schools and the family structure.” Brian Brenberg, a business and economics professor at The King’s College, gave his perspective on these present challenges:Unless we address these underlying issues, these underlying threats, candidates, elections—they are only going to become more extreme and more divisive. Because if history has taught us anything, it’s this: When a citizenry feels neglected and ignored, they will line up behind leaders who give voice to their concerns and promise relief for their problems—even when the eventual outcome is likely going to be far, far worse.Having recognized that economic inequality is a real issue and a threat, will they change the solutions they support? Will they be ready to rethink the role government should play to level the playing field? Or will they take the power of their huge resources and use it to support policies and programs that go further down the policy road they have traditionally advocated?Reports emerging from their gathering don’t leave much hope that they see the current situation as a failure of their strategy that necessitates a new approach. Charles Koch’s diagnosis of our current situation seems to be that our problems come from not being libertarian enough: “Unless we make progress here in our culture, we are doomed to continue to lurch from one political crisis to another, and we will likely degenerate into socialism or corporatism, as two-tiered societies typically do.”Without a 180-degree turnaround, the Kochs’ political muscle will be put to work to further reduce government programs that directly help the poor and reduce tax levels. Rather than learning from their experiences, their bet is that the recognition of a real threat from a dissatisfied body politic to their personal well-being will motivate the private sector to do more and be more effective than they historically have been. Perhaps fear will prompt an increase in charitable contributions or more private investment in job-creating activities, that by their way of thinking will help narrow the gap between rich and poor.That these programs have not proven successful does not seem to be causing any rethinking. Economist Paul Krugman described this phenomenon as he viewed the current thinking of trickle-down economists.What strikes me is the contrast with the 1970s. Back then, the experience of stagflation led to a dramatic revision of both macroeconomics and policy doctrine. This time, far worse economic events and predictions by freshwater economists far more at odds with experience than the mistakes of Keynesians in the past seem to have produced no concessions whatsoever.If this describes what we will see from Koch politics, we are facing a well-funded battle over solutions to meet the needs of the poor.—Martin LevineShare13TweetShare6Email19 Shares
The European Commission has expressed concerns about French pay TV operator Canal Plus’ proposed acquisition of a stake in rival Orange’s Orange Cinéma Séries channels, according to various reports.Canal Plus and Orange struck a deal in July a deal whereby the former would acquire 33.3% of Orange Cinéma Séries. However, French press have reported that European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia’s department has expressed a number of concerns about the future role of Canal Plus relating to the programming of the channels.Specifically, the Commission has concerns about the agreement’s limiting of the amount the Orange channels can spend on programme acquisitions annually of €65 million, compared with the €85 million it spent in 2010. This would limit Orange Cinéma Séries’ bidding power in negotiations with the studios, meaning, for example, that it could not effectively compete with Canal Plus’s own channels.While Canal Plus and Orange have maintained that their agreement does not raise any issues of concentration in the market, the European competition authorities believe that the terms of the deal could amount to ‘co-control’ by Canal Plus, meaning that it would be subject to formal approval by Brussels and could be subject to multiple obligations.
Telekom Slovenia has named Rudolf Skobe as its new CEO.Skobe, who is currently the director of media subsidiary TSMedia, will take over in September, when current CEO Ivica Kranjčević retires.
Sky Deutschland has secured exclusive German broadcasting rights for Formula E racing and is due to air all races live from the new FIA fully-electric racing series.The agreement covers TV rights, along with internet, IPTV, and mobile broadcast rights for Formula E – the electronic car equivalent of Formula 1.Formula E races, or ePrix, will take place on Saturdays, with Sky Deutschland’s live broadcasts to include half an hour of pre-coverage and 15 minutes of post-race analysis.The first race in the inaugural 2014/15 Formula E season will take place in Beijing on 13 September. In total there will be 10 races in the Formula E season, all held on street circuits.The news comes just weeks after pay TV operator Canal+ secured the French rights to Formula E, agreeing to televise live races for distribution in France, Andorra and Monaco.
Sky is set to launch Sky News on Xbox 360 games consoles in the UK and US, extending the channel’s reach in the states and giving domestic customers a new way of accessing the station.From tomorrow, Xbox Live customers on Xbox 360 will see the Sky News icon on the TV section of their homepage, giving them access to the network’s live feed and a range of continually updated on-demand stories.Sky News is already available on Apple TV and Roku boxes in the US and Sky said it is building on its growth in this market by also tailoring its channel feed for the US, incorporating editorial segments produced specifically for this audience.“Sky News is consistently exploring opportunities to expand our global reach. Making Sky News available on Xbox was an ideal way to achieve this. With a growing US footprint of a million users and a US news team, we’re thrilled that our coverage will be showcased to millions of Xbox customers,” said head of Sky News Digital, Andrew Hawken.The Sky News Xbox app was developed by Sky in partnership with 1 Mainstream, which specialises in distributing video services across TV, games console, tablet and streaming devices. Sky has worked with 1 Mainstream since 2013 and also invested in the Silicon Valley-based start-up.
Chipset specialist ALi has launched a new DVB-plus-sound bar combination based on its DVB-C/T2/S2 and IPTV video streaming chipset.The application supports premium-quality streaming music delivery to the set-top.According to ALi, the solution fills a gap in the market created by moves by TV manufacturers to create devices that are as slim as possible, leaving little space for speakers that require volume in order to deliver decent sound, leading to the need to connect sound bars with TVs, set-tops and other equipment. The ALi chipset removes the need for this by combining set-top with sound bar for both video and audio.The application not only enhances sound quality of audio streaming from the TV broadcast but also functions as a standalone speaker capable of playing music from local USB storage, mobile devices via Bluetooth technology, and online services such as Spotify, Qobuz, and Deezer, without having to turn on the TV, according to the company. In addition, ALi has also enabled remote control of the set-top/sound bar solution on Android smartphones.“ALi’s chipsets are high performing solutions to support a wide range of innovative and diverse applications,” said Ben Lin, chairman and CEO of ALi Corporation. “The STB/Sound Bar combo we are introducing is an example of how ALi chipsets can be used to push the frontiers of home entertainment technology and inspire additional cutting-edge applications.”
Netflix series, NarcosNBC has revealed what it claims to be ratings for key Netflix series.The US broadcast net hosted a press lunch at the Television Critics Association tour that it dubbed a ‘reality check’ of the current TV landscape.Using data from tech firm Symphony Advanced Media, which in turn used a 15,000 sample of 18-to-49s, NBC said Netflix’s Jessica Jones was viewed 4.8 million times over a 35-day period.NBC’s president of research and media told reporters at the lunch about further Symphony findings.Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, which is produced by NBCUniveral, had 3.9 million views, drug kingpin drama Narcos had 3.2 million views, while comedy drama Orange is the New Black registered just 644,000.Symphony also tracked engagement with Amazon Prime Instant Video drama, reporting 2.1 million views for its big-budget original Man in the High Castle.Netflix is notoriously shy of breaking out any viewing data, reportedly even withholding information from the producers and talent working on its original series.Netflix, which has always said it measures success in subscriber numbers and the number of hours people watch (both of which are broken out), told DTVE‘s sister title TBI that it had no comment on the Symphony data.Meanwhile, Netflix’s share price tumbled in trading yesterday amid wider market uncertainty and a further analyst projections of weak US subscriber growth.It has been a tumultuous period for Netflix stock, with a sharp decline last week and then recovery as the streaming service announced a huge global rollout.Yesterday, however, Netflix share were down over 10% on the day, ending at US$106.56.ITG Research said it expects 1.13 million new Netflix subs in this quarter. That is below Netflix’s own guidance of 1.3 million and the wider Wall St expectation of 1.37 million.
YouTube is due to premiere its first original content for its new US-based subscription service, YouTube Red, next week.The video streaming service’s first four titles for the service will be two feature-length films, a feature-length doc and a reality-adventure series staring YouTube star PewDiePie.The two films are: Dance Camp, an Awesomeness TV-produced film about a boy who gets sent to a summer dance camp; and Lazer Team, a feature-length action-comedy from Rooster Teeth and Fullscreen Films, about four small-town losers who stumble across an alien crash site.A Trip to Unicorn Island is an Astronauts Wanted-produced feature length doc that follows YouTuber Lilly Singh, aka IISuperwomanII, as she goes on a 26-city world tour.Meanwhile reality series Scare PewDiePie will follower YouTuber Felix Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie as he faces “terrifying situations inspired by his favourite video games”. The series comes from the creator and executive producers of The Walking Dead at Skybound Entertainment and Maker Studios.“The diverse, dynamic creators behind these films have already built massive audiences on YouTube, rivalling many cable shows. With YouTube Red Originals, we want to help them tell bigger and bolder stories that delight you, their fans,” said Susanne Daniels, global head of original content, YouTube.“These series and movies are just the beginning. We have lots more thrills, chills, LOLs, smiles, romances and surprises from more of your favourite YouTube stars coming later this year.”The YouTube Red content will launch on February 10. YouTube Red customers in the US can access the content on as part of their subscription. Elsewhere in the world, where the Red service is yet to roll out, viewers will be able to rent the series and films on a per-title basis.YouTube launched Red, a US$9.99 per-month subscription offering that lets viewers access an ad-free version of the service and watch videos offline on phones and tablets, in the US in October.
Sky is due to launch its advanced TV service, Sky Q, in Italy before Christmas and then in Germany and Austria in the first half of 2018.Sky announced the plans during in its fiscal Q1 earnings announcement, with the wider European rollout of Sky Q following the release of the service in the UK and Ireland in early 2016.Speaking on Sky’s earnings call, CEO Jeremy Darroch said that Sky Q has “continued to grow well” in the UK market. It terms of customer uptake, it grew 23% quarter-over-quarter in Q1.“Since we launched the service 18 months ago, over 1.6 million households have taken it, driving improved customer satisfaction and loyalty – and we continue to make it better, launching a number of innovations including voice control,” said Darroch.“In the next few months, we’ll build on this success by rolling out Sky Q to Italy and then we’ll follow it up by launching Sky Q in Germany and Austria in the first half of 2018.”Sky said it will also launch its previously-announced Soundbox speaker in the UK in November, and plans to roll out new customer loyalty programmes in Germany and Austria following launches in Italy and the UK.The Soundbox all-in-one speaker was developed in partnership with audio technology startup Devialet and is designed to offer immersive sound that Sky claims can “surpasses many of the best home cinema systems available today”.Sky Q’s wider release comes after Sky launched a set-top box with Ultra HD capabilities in Germany, Austria and Italy last autumn.This box was already in development prior to the release of Sky Q and marked an upgrade to the previous generation of Sky+ box. The hardware was named Sky+ Pro in Germany and Austria, and MySky in Italy.Ahead of this release, a Sky spokesperson told DTVE that Sky’s UHD-ready next generation entertainment service, Sky Q, would launch in Germany, Austria and Italy at some point during 2017.
The worldwide over-the-top (OTT) video market is due to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% to generate revenues of US$51.4 billion in 2022, according to ABI Research.The report predicts global OTT subscriber numbers will reach 400 million in 2018 and said that growth in this sector is driving changing trends in the pay TV landscape.In North America and Europe, in particular, pay TV operators have started to offer OTT-delivered Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (vMVPD) services, such as DirecTV Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sky’s Now TV.“vMVPD services offer live TV packages as low as US$10 and customised packages are attracting cost-sensitive customers,” said Khin Sandi Lynn, industry analyst at ABI Research.“Pay TV operators recognise the consumer demand for vMVPD services and are trying to expand their OTT offering by providing more content choice to compete against other subscription OTT services such as Netflix.”ABI predicted that OTT video services will put more pressure on traditional pay TV services, especially in the developed markets with high broadband and pay TV penetration.“As competition intensifies, content and quality of service are crucial to win the OTT war,” said Lynn, noting further rivalry in the US vMVPD market from players like Hulu and YouTube.
Video service quality and customer experience company, Agama Technologies, has introduced artificial intelligence-powered anomaly detection.The AI and machine learning-based offering is an extension to the Agama solution that is designed to provide anomaly alarms with “unprecedented precision”.“Separating actual anomalies from normal variations in KPIs is an excellent example of how AI and machine learning can be applied to video service assurance in a way that addresses real-world needs,” said Johan Görsjö, director of product management at Agama Technologies.
The BBC’s deputy director-general, Anne Bulford, is due to leave the corporation in spring.Anne BulfordIn a statement, the BBC said that Bulford had decided to pursue a portfolio of non-executive roles and thanked her for helping to transform the BBC since she joined the broadcaster in 2013.BBC director general Tony Hall said Bulford has ensured the BBC continues to innovate and deliver popular services to the public and has “vastly improved the BBC’s efficiency to industry leading levels”.“Anne leaves the BBC a stronger organisation than the one she joined six years ago,” said Hall. “She has been a first-class colleague and an absolute pleasure to work with. I wish her every success for the future.”Bulford became the BBC’s first female deputy director general in June 2016, taking responsibility at board level for key functions including finance, engineering, HR, workplace, legal and business assurance, and marketing and audiences.She first joined the BBC as managing director, finance and operations in June 2013, having previously served as Channel 4’s chief operating officer. She joined Channel 4 as group finance director in June 2005, prior to which she was director of finance and business affairs at the Royal Opera House.“It’s been an honour to be the first woman deputy director-general of the BBC and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved since 2013,” said Bulford. “The BBC is an amazing organisation, with so many talented people. I feel I’m leaving the BBC in a stronger position and I’d like to thank Tony, my colleagues and especially all my teams for their contribution and hard work.”
ShareTweet DETECTIVES are investigating after a 23-year-old man was shot in the leg in Derry last night.Police say he was attacked by two masked men inside a bookmakers’ shop at Central Drive in the Creggan area of the city.The shooting incident happened around 8It happened at about 20:35 BST on Monday. CENTRAL DRIVECRegganladbrokesPSNIRETURN OF THE DISSIDENT GUNMEN AS PUNTER SHOT IN DERRY BOOKIES SHOP “You could see he was injured as there was blood on the ground.“This community doesn’t want this type of behaviour,” added Cllr Campbell.Anyone with information about the gunmen is asked to ring detectives at the Reactive and Organised Crime Branch in Strand Road PSNI station on the 101 number.Or, information can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on freephone 0800 555 111.RETURN OF THE DISSIDENT GUNMEN AS PUNTER SHOT IN DERRY BOOKIES SHOP was last modified: March 28th, 2017 by John2John2 Tags: The man’s injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Campbell described it as “another pointless shooting” and said a number of young people from a nearby youth club had witnessed the attack.“He had played a football match earlier, across the way on the football field, then came over,” he said.“He was playing a poker machine when two masked men came in and forced him to ground and shot him in the leg.