More than five years in the making, Soneva Kiri opened on November 30, 2009 and is set to impress even the most loyal fan of the first two Soneva properties. Soneva Kiri by Six Senses is the new global benchmark for “Intelligent Luxury” and will attract discerning guests who enjoy a touch of hedonism with their sustainability.Just one hour southeast of Bangkok, accessed by the resort’s private plane, Soneva Kiri is located on Koh Kood, a pristine island off the coast of The Gulf of Thailand. Upon landing at the resort’s own airstrip on an adjoining island and the five-minute crossing to Koh Kood aboard the classically-inspired Six Senses Aquasense motorboat, arriving guests will discover the stunning pool villas, extraordinary guest experiences, a Six Senses Spa and more—and all the while, treading lightly and responsibly on the earth.Six Senses has sourced the most environmentally benign building materials available in Asia, without compromise. To preserve the site’s identity and ensure wildlife corridors are maintained, a monitoring system protecting indigenous flora and fauna was implemented during construction. The on-site nursery propagated many species of native plants for landscaping, while a microgreen organic garden has been established to provide produce. Fruit trees, ginger, lemongrass and pepper plants have been scattered across the site as part of the edible landscaping concept.The resort comprises 42 Pool Villas, including Beach and Hilltop Reserves, Beach and Hilltop Retreats and the Eco Villa, plus 20 Private Residences, along the beach front and on the hillside overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. Several villas feature private spa suites and each has an electric vehicle and charging station to ensure that all noise and air pollution is avoided as guests silently cruise the jungle without disturbing wildlife. The zero-carbon-emissions bio-climatically designed Eco Villa showcases a range of futuristic environmental technologies.A Six Senses Spa is a focus within the resort. A team of international and Thai therapists take guests on sensory journeys with Six Senses a la carte and local treatments for balancing the senses. Visiting practitioners bring unique talents to the spa to enlighten and inform guests. The spa menu includes spa journeys, bodywork, well-being, men’s journeys, junior spa and wellness activities.The property also features a state-of-the-art observatory, Cinema Paradiso, an ice cream parlor and adjoining chocolate room, a gourmet deli, wine cellar, the children’s Den and much more.For more information, visit www.sixsenses.com.
Get in the holiday mood with Diana Ross, John Legend, more AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email This cover image released by Ross Records/UMe shows “Wonderful Christmas Time,” a holiday album from Diana Ross. (Ross Records/UMe via AP) by The Associated Press Posted Nov 20, 2018 8:57 am PDT Here’s a collection of holiday albums reviewed by The Associated Press.______Diana Ross, “Wonderful Christmas Time” (Ross Records)Are you in the mood for jolly, sing-along Christmas music? Diana Ross has you covered.Looking for something more serene, with religious tones? Diana Ross has you covered.Or are you looking for inspirational music that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the holidays? Again, Diana Ross has you covered.Her new Christmas album, the 20-track “Wonderful Christmas Time,” may actually have a track for every mood of the season with the exception of the bah-humbug crowd. Ross’ silky, smooth soprano takes on a wide variety of songs, from “Ave Maria” to “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let it Snow!”She also goes outside the Christmas arc with songs about peace and love, like Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.” While there’s something for everyone here, the downside is the lack of cohesiveness: Even though “What the World Needs Now” is given a sweeping, classical approach, to go from that to “Amazing Grace” is still a bit of head scratcher, despite a near seamless transition.Of course, it’s a small quibble, like complaining that you were offered too many pie options at the holiday meal. In the end, you’ll be deeply satisfied.— Nekesa Mumbi Moody (twitter.com/NekesaMumbi)______John Legend, “A Legendary Christmas” (Columbia Records)If anyone needs a model for how to put out a successful Christmas album, look no further than everyone’s latest EGOT winner — John Legend.On the modestly titled “A Legendary Christmas,” the singer mixes old chestnuts and new tunes, switches tempos from jazz to blues, and adds a few perfectly cast cameos. (Only Legend could get Stevie Wonder to play a little harmonica work on “What Christmas Means to Me”).Legend teams up with veteran producer Raphael Saadiq for new takes on classics, including an uptempo “Silver Bells” and a lush “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with guest Esperanza Spalding. “Christmas Time Is Here” gets the lounge treatment and he’s nicely unearthed Marvin Gaye’s “Purple Snowflakes.”Legend shows off his own songwriting with the delicious throwback “No Place Like Home” and co-writes the bustling “Bring Me Love” with Meghan Trainor. “Waiting for Christmas” is classic piano Legend, “Wrap Me Up in Your Love” is a smoky R&B standout and “By Christmas Eve” — a promise to get home, like an update on Brenda Russell’s “Get Here” — is simply sublime.The album’s cover features Legend in a Santa hat and bow tie, emulating one of Bing Crosby’s iconic Christmas albums. Bold move, Mr. Legend — but earned. This Christmas album is an instant classic.— Mark Kennedy (twitter.com/KennedyTwits)______Eric Clapton, “Happy Xmas,” (Bushbranch/Surfdog)Guitar god Eric Clapton may have been an unlikely rock star to cut a Christmas record, but for music fans looking for a bluesy alternative to the typical holiday dredge it’s as welcome as a steaming cup of hot chocolate on a wintry night.“Happy Xmas” steers clear of the typical holiday playlist, and thankfully has more hits than misses.“White Christmas” and “Lonesome Christmas” benefit from Clapton’s distinctive slowhand blues guitar style. The lone new song from Clapton, “For Love on Christmas Day,” will comfortably find a slot into soft rock holiday playlists but may turn off fans who prefer their Clapton with a little less schmaltz.The most un-Clapton song, “Jingle Bells (In Memory of Avicii),” is a tribute to the late EDM DJ-producer Avicii, whom Clapton admired. It may be the first time “Jingle Bells” has ever been re-imagined as a tribute to a DJ, but whatever. It bears little resemblance to the holiday standard, or anything Clapton has done before, making it a curiosity at the very least, and a standout track for those who treasure Christmas music that’s not just outside the box, but on another planet entirely.Kudos to the 73-year-old Clapton for at least making it interesting.— Scott Bauer (twitter.com/SBauerAP)______The Monkees, “Christmas Party” (Rhino)Take the last train to Christmas, and enjoy pure pop goofiness, harmony and personality with the implausibly still-around Monkees, the late ’60s TV sensations who are still as fun today as they were then.Micky Dolenz handles most of the vocals, though Michael Nesmith sings on two songs and Peter Tork is on the banjo-laden “Angels We Have Heard on High.” Davy Jones, who died in 2012, sings lead on two tracks via tapes he recorded in 1991, backed by new instrumentation. His “Silver Bells” and “Mele Kalikimaka” will make a daydream believer out of you, too.“Unwrap You at Christmas” sets the tone for this lighthearted holiday romp, leading into the whimsical “What Would Santa Do?”Most interesting is “House of Broken Gingerbread,” with its unmistakable ’60s psychedelic feel. Built around a funky guitar riff, “Christmas Party” arrives at the conclusion that one holiday blowout year is enough: “Remember last year/Cops had to shut us down twice.”The Monkees also cover classic Christmas tunes from Roy Wood (“I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday”) Paul McCartney (“Wonderful Christmastime”), and the oft-covered “Merry Christmas, Baby,” which is way more bad-ass than one would expect from The Monkees.Guest musicians include XTC’s Andy Partridge, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Adam Schlesinger, who produced as well.— Wayne Parry (twitter.com/WayneParryAC)______William Shatner, “Shatner Claus — The Christmas Album” (Cleopatra)There comes a point every Christmas season that we get tired of hearing the same holiday songs. For that reason, and maybe if you’re a “Star Trek” fan, consider giving a listen to “Shatner Claus — The Christmas Album” by William Shatner.Delivered in spoken word, the man who played Captain Kirk takes on classics like “Silent Night,” ”Blue Christmas” and “Feliz Navidad” on an album that features a diverse group of guest artists, including Brad Paisley, Iggy Pop and Judy Collins.Then there’s Henry Rollins, just in case you want a little bit of thrash to go with “Jingle Bells.” Or maybe Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson playing flute while Shatner speaks the word to “Silver Bells” is more your thing.Whatever you decide, one thing is for sure — this is one of the most unique albums for the holiday season.— John Carucci (twitter.com/JaCarucci)______Rodney Crowell, “Christmas Everywhere” (New West)There are more than enough recorded renditions of the season’s standard repertoire, from “Silent Night” to “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” So it’s a Christmas blessing that Rodney Crowell has opted for all-original material on his first album celebrating the holiday.His songs tend toward the “Grandma Got Run Over” end of the spectrum, as his wry humour spreads irreverent Christmas cheer. The opening “Clement’s Lament (We’ll See You in the Mall)” is worthy of Tracey Ullman, and the Spike Jones-inspired title cut is just as funny thanks to a dream interlude and such poetic couplets as, “Christmas out the waz … Christmas up the schnoz.”Crowell offers a mix of musical styles, from countrypolitan and jump blues to gypsy jazz. He does the bah-humbug bit on “Let’s Skip Christmas This Year” and the powerful “Christmas In Vidor,” and there are several ballads about romance on the rocks and the resulting holiday blues.But he ends with the cheery “All for Little Girls & Boys,” as Crowell and his young daughters sing on a cassette recording from the early 1980s — a gift from Christmas past.— Steven Wine (twitter.com/Steve_Wine)______Mitch Ryder, “Christmas (Take A Ride)” (Goldenlane/Cleopatra)If you have a juke box by the Christmas tree or want to experience the feeling, Mitch Ryder’s your man. He keeps songs under three minutes, accentuates the beat and primes a dozen Yuletide favourites for a bit of Christmas dancing.The Motor City legend’s style (no surprise here) is founded on the sounds of the Sixties — rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues and soul — and enough energy to light up all your seasonal ornaments.Ryder, who’s made some albums since his glory years with Detroit Wheels that are well worth tracking down, sings some of the inevitable holiday favourites in the rock and pop canon like “Blue Christmas,” ”Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” and Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”But you’ll also find some Motown sounds like “What Christmas Means to Me” and a hidden 1965 gem in The Sonics’ booming “Santa Claus.”Ryder’s voice is often ragged and he covers the unfortunate “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” but Jackie DeShannon’s “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” is a great closer to a kind of Christmas record you rarely hear these days.— Pablo Gorondi (twitter.com/PabloGorondi)______Michael McDonald, “Season of Peace: The Christmas Collection” (BMG Records)Michael McDonald is no newcomer to the Christmas album genre. He’s recorded two original discs while also putting tracks from those records on compilations with the addition of a new song or two.“Season of Peace” belongs in the latter category, complementing tunes from records released in 2001, 2005 and 2009 with an instrumental version of “Winter Wonderland” featuring ukulele wiz Jake Shimabukuro.If you don’t have any of the previous offerings, “Season of Peace” is a good holiday choice, as the intimacy and warmth of McDonald’s voice is well suited to the Christmas catalogue of standards like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” ”O Holy Night” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”“Every Time Christmas Comes Around,” which he co-wrote, sounds like the Doobie Brothers with the Earth, Wind & Fire horn section. Other tracks McDonald co-wrote — such as “Peace” (written with Beth Nielsen Chapman), “To Make a Miracle” and “Christmas on the Bayou” — add a variety of styles and tones to the festive spirit and help make the compilation a worthy option.— Pablo Gorondi (twitter.com/PabloGorondi)______Jessie J, “This Christmas Day” (Lava/Republic)English pop star Jessie J of “Bang Bang” fame shows off her jazzy side and a very serious ability to tackle standards on her first holiday album, “This Christmas Day.” It’s utterly charming — and utterly unmemorable.The talented songwriter and singer’s voice flutters beautifully over classics like “Let It Snow,” ”White Christmas” and “Silent Night” without doing anything different or interesting to them. It’s overly respectful, as zesty as eggnog.These songs have been done to death and everyone has their favourite versions. While Jessie J proves yet again she’s an underappreciated artist, she’s hardly dislodged, say, Brenda Lee from owning “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”Two duets — “Winter Wonderland” with Boyz II Men and “The Christmas Song” featuring Babyface — are highlights, as is her nicely fresh take on “Jingle Bells,” which she nicely owns. But let’s face it: This is mostly background music while we wait for Elvis or Sinatra or Mariah to show up.— Mark Kennedy (twitter.com/KennedyTwits)______The Mavericks, “Hey! Merry Christmas!” (Mono Mundo)If you could only choose one new album to mingle in with the classics at your holiday party, you could do a lot worse than the Mavericks’ “Hey! Merry Christmas!” It’s the sound of a great band with a unique style leaning into the holiday season with gusto.The Mavericks have evolved in all the right ways over the years — adventurous, ambitious and not bound by formulaic thinking. Led by Raul Malo’s dynamic vocals, they pour folk, swing, jazz, rockabilly and Latin sounds into one big pot of gumbo.And it turns out their holiday stew has some kick.This collection includes eight original compositions and two familiar tunes, both far enough from heavy rotation to fit in well here: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and “Happy Holiday.”And while some of the new songs sound derivative — you’ll hear echoes of Springsteen’s “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” on “Santa Does,” for example — the common element is fun.No gimmicks or fakery here — just straight-ahead party songs made-to-order for the party season.— Scott Stroud (twitter.com/ScottStroud1)______Engelbert Humperdinck, “Warmest Christmas Wishes” (OK! Good Records)Engelbert Humperdinck seems like a natural choice for frequent collections of Christmas songs, but “Warmest Christmas Wishes” is his first in nearly four decades.Last year’s “The Man I Want to Be” showed the now 82-year-old singing with gusto and updating his repertoire with songs from Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran. Here he doesn’t come so near to the present, covering Chris Rea’s “Driving Home for Christmas” and Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Christmas Song (I’m Not Dreaming of a White Christmas)” and the arrangements stay close to the “holidays with strings” sort. One exception is an unexpected instrumental version of “White Christmas,” which sways gently in Django Reinhardt-Stephane Grappelli mode.Also on board are Frank Loesser’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” as well as “O Tannenbaum,” in a bilingual German-English version.The German influence continues with “Leise rieselt der Schnee,” which also gets a separate, English-language adaptation — “Silently Falls the Snow.” The album also includes Austrian evergreen “Still, Still, Still” (in English only) and some original compositions like “A Christmas for the Family.”Humperdinck’s album radiates calm, so it’s probably best played when soothing sounds are most appreciated, not, for example, when the children are tearing the wrapping paper off their gifts. On second thought, maybe that’s exactly when it could be most effective.— Pablo Gorondi (twitter.com/PabloGorondi)The Associated Press
Photo Information: Rep. Mary Whiteford recently welcomed Allegan High School students Benjamin Andrews and Max Clark to the House floor. The students spent the day in Lansing job-shadowing Rep. Whiteford and learning more about state government. 26May Rep. Whiteford invites local students to Capitol Categories: Whiteford News
26Jan Rep. Howell, Michigan House vote to bring tax relief to families and seniors Categories: Howell News,News Rep. Gary Howell of North Branch once again voted this week to lower taxes for Michigan families and seniors.The legislation, approved by the Michigan House, increases the personal exemption amounts for state taxpayers and their dependents, while providing additional relief for seniors.“This tax relief is long overdue,” Howell said. “We’re lowering taxes without compromising our schools and other public services. That is the common-sense way to help Michigan residents hang on to a greater share of their own money.”Taking into account the federal tax reforms that were signed into law last month, this legislation ensures that Michigan taxpayers can continue claiming personal exemptions on income taxes. In addition, the legislation gradually increases the state personal exemption from the current $4,000 to $4,800 for the 2020 tax year. Taxpayers in Michigan cities with an income tax will continue to be able to claim exemptions as well.Other legislation in the package also helps senior citizens in addition to the personal exemption increase. The legislation provides a $100 income tax credit for a single filer age 62 or older – or $200 for joint filers. This provides partial relief for retirees who have been hit by the pension tax in Michigan. Representative Howell has repeatedly proposed repeal of the unfair pension tax.The bills include a provision to ensure that school aid funding is not negatively affected by the legislation.House Bills 5420-22 advance to the Senate for further consideration.###
Oakland County roads would benefit with additional money for road repairs this construction season through legislation approved this week by Rep. Jim Tedder of Clarkston and the Michigan House.The $175 million bill provides additional money for road preservation and construction across Michigan.“Everywhere I go, the poor condition of our roads is a complaint I hear about,” Tedder said. “With additional money available through smart budgeting, we are in a position to invest more than previously planned to help improve road conditions. And that’s exactly what we should do.”In addition to state projects, the bill includes money for county, city and village roads throughout Michigan. Some of the estimated local allocations include about $7 million to Oakland County.“Imagine using this money to pave miles of Oakland County roads in a year where we need it more than ever,” Tedder said.Additional funds would go to cities and villages within Oakland County.The money is left over from a previous state government budget cycle and is already available, meaning no budget cuts or additional fees or taxes are required for the investment. The money included in the bill approved this week comes in addition to previous changes that provide more funding for road and bridge projects across the state.House Bill 4321 advances to the Senate for further consideration.### Categories: News,Tedder News 23Feb Rep. Tedder: Michigan House approves more road repair money for Oakland County
22Mar Rep. Barrett’s bill part of measures protecting state interests from drone interference The Michigan House today advanced a legislative plan establishing needed state laws for drones, with a bill sponsored by state Rep. Tom Barrett included.Barrett’s bill, House Bill 5497, makes it a crime to knowingly and intentionally interfere with a public safety official performing their official duties. First responders attempting to reach people in life-threatening, emergency situations have been impeded by drones in the vicinity – most notably during airlift evacuations when helicopters need to land close to an accident in order to provide assistance.“When firefighters are attempting to direct ladders or airlift evacuation personnel are looking to touch down, they are concerned solely with doing their jobs and trying to save lives,” said Barrett, of Charlotte. “They should not have to worry about a hobbyist drone getting in their way, and these are the things we needed to look at when working on this project and these proposals. I’m pleased with the work of the task force assembled by the governor last year and the subsequent legislation that has been advanced to this point. I want to make sure it keeps working its way to the governor’s desk so we can make the very difficult jobs our first responders do a little easier.”A separate part of the plan cracks down on drone use around correctional facilities, which would be classified as a “key facility” along with manufacturing plants, electric or natural gas utilities and telecommunication facilities in accordance with the Michigan Penal Code. Individuals have used unmanned aircraft to drop contraband, cell phones, weapons and other items onto correctional facility property for inmates.Drone use would be declared as an “extension of the person”. Illegal activity carried out with the use of a drone would be treated the same as an individual breaking the law without unmanned aircraft as an aid. This language would apply to Barrett’s proposal in regards to intentional interference.A 2016 Federal Aviation Administration report estimated 2.5 million unmanned aircraft systems were being operated nationwide for a variety of purposes, including hobbyist and commercial. That number could grow to a projected 7 million by 2020.The FAA currently has security sensitive airspace restrictions and other parameters on unmanned aircraft flights. However, little has been done at the state level due to the rapid rise of the industry’s popularity while state government assesses its role in maintaining safety in the wake of technological advancements.House Bills 5494-98 advance to the Senate for further consideration. Categories: News
State Rep. Peter J. Lucido testifies in support of his civil asset forfeiture legislation before the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 6.Legislation introduced by state Rep. Peter Lucido to protect the due process rights of Michigan citizens advanced today after receiving approval from the House Judiciary Committee.Lucido’s legislation requires a criminal conviction before law enforcement officers can seize property using the civil asset forfeiture process.“The whole concept of civil asset forfeiture is to prevent criminals from profiting off of their crimes,” said Lucido, of Shelby Township. “I completely agree – no one should profit from criminal activity. The problem is, the due process rights of innocent citizens are being trampled on under the current process.”As a former probation officer and criminal defense lawyer of more than 30 years, Lucido said he witnessed law enforcement agencies abuse Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture law.In 2016, Michigan law enforcement agencies reported confiscating $15.2 million worth of cash and property through the civil asset forfeiture process. No charges were ever filed in about 10 percent of the cases.“This reform is long overdue,” said Lucido. “It’s time to protect the civil liberties of Michigan citizens by ensuring their personal property cannot be seized unless and until law enforcement proves a crime has been committed.”House Bill 4158 advances to the full House for consideration.### 01May House panel advances Lucido’s civil asset forfeiture reform plan Categories: Lucido News
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares July 1, 2014; ForbesWhere might a new college graduate find good job prospects? Forbes has an analysis ranking states by relatively low increases in college tuition for four-year public colleges and universities, high increases in income, and consistently low unemployment. In the table below, states shaded in green show conditions that Forbes considers the most promising (yellow reflects changes that are roughly commensurate with the nation’s, and pink conditions are below average). Based on this analysis, it’s a good thing to be in college getting ready to graduate in North Dakota. While North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming look promising for grads, other states offer grads less promising employment prospects. According to Forbes, “California, Rhode Island and Georgia reside in the nation’s basement, with large decreases in median income, high unemployment rates, and rising tuition since 2006.”Interestingly, many of the pink states are high in the number of nonprofit employers that might be looking for graduates. GuideStar’s map of nonprofits of all kinds (searchable on its website) suggests some states have lots of nonprofits that might be good employers:It isn’t hard to imagine that on a per capita basis, states such as Rhode Island, Delaware, and New Jersey probably rank very highly in their nonprofit density. How would the Forbes list change if there were a column for measuring the job environment for college graduates in the nonprofit sector?—Rick Cohen ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share1TweetShareEmail1 Shares August 18, 2014; Accounting TodayIt seems that the IRS is getting stricter on what gets approved for 501(c)(3) status. We once heard a well-known tax lawyer suggest that getting a (c)(3) approved required a bit of paperwork and time, but beyond the minimal rigmarole, there was little to stop the nonprofit status of nearly any kind of organization.That’s recently been shown to not be the case in a private letter ruling of the IRS last month, wherein the Service denied tax-exempt status to an unusual organization. According to its articles of incorporation, MindJustice.org says it is dedicated to the “protection of the human rights of defenseless victims from involuntary microwave and M attack, organized stalking, or direct mind control attack of its various forms, and to compensate such targets from the associated damage or death resulting from such sightings.” Writing for Accounting Today, Michael Cohn says that M attacks are “electronic radio or microwave transmissions from governmental agencies and others who are working on projects that manipulate or control human behavior.”That may not be the most coherent mission statement ever written, but the point is understandable. On its website, MindJustice describes itself with a bit more clarity: “A human rights group working for the rights and protections of mental integrity and freedom from new technologies and weapons which target the mind and nervous system.” These people, whoever they are, are concerned about neuroweapons development and classified neuroscience research. It’s not clear if they’re focused on the most common form of mind control: the jingles on television commercials. (“We’re Behr-footing,” “H-O-T-W-I-R-E, hotwire.com,” “Five, five dollar, five-dollar footlong,” “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there,” “I’m stuck on Band-Aid ‘cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me,” “Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that Kit-Kat Bar”—oh how many nights are you sleepless with these jingles running on an endless loop in your brain?) According to Cohn, MindJustice.org aims to educate the public about involuntary mind control and develop anti-M weapons, sort of mind control jammer. It will also help specific individuals counter M attacks.That didn’t fly with the IRS. “You did not provide a detailed description of the proposed operations of the trust or describe the process by which you will verify claims or insure unbiased selection of eligible victims,” said the IRS. In fact, the unnamed founder of MindJustice would himself be eligible for compensation in legislation proposed by MindJustice. The founder—referred to in the IRS letter as “E”—apparently has paid for much of the group’s operations and is owed $35,000 by MindJustice, to be reimbursed after the organization receives grant funds. To the IRS, this all sounded like a strategy that would have MindJustice operate for the benefit of specific private interest—implicitly, Mr. E’s interest.MindJustice, of course, can appeal the IRS’s ruling. For our purposes, maybe MindJustice.org should get a (c)(3) if they could protect us from the Phillips Colon Health lady who pops up on double-decker buses and on airplanes warning about bloating.—Rick CohenShare1TweetShareEmail1 Shares
ShareTweet4ShareEmail4 SharesMarch 28, 2016; NPR, “The Two-Way”NPQ reported yesterday that the state of Georgia was under widespread pressure from entities doing business in the state to dump the religious liberties bill making its way through the legislature towards Republican Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk. Yesterday, Deal vetoed the measure, which was believed to “enshrine” discrimination against LGBTQ people based on religious beliefs. It would, in short, allow people to discriminate against others based on the “sincerely held religious beliefs” of the discriminator.Calling the measure “a solution in search of a problem,” Deal declared Georgia “a welcoming state…full of loving, kind and generous people. And that is what we should want. They choose to worship God in the way they see fit in a myriad of ways, in a variety of different settings. I believe that that is our best side. And our people, every day, work side-by-side without regard to the color of their skin of their fellow mate. Or the religion that their coworker might adhere to. They are simply trying to make life better for themselves, their families and their communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way.”“For that reason,” he said, “I will veto House Bill 757. […] I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, of which I and my family have been a part of for all of our lives.”Among the corporations that had threatened to rethink their business relationships in Georgia were the NFL, UPS, Coca Cola, and Delta. To take one specific industry as an example of the damage that might have been caused: Georgia’s film industry is very active due to its tax incentives. In fact, the Georgia Department of Economic Development reported that there had been “248 film and television productions shot in Georgia in 2015, amounting to $1.7 billion in spending.” But Disney threatened to boycott the state, and companies including Time Warner and AMC Networks (which shoots The Walking Dead in the state) urged the governor to veto the legislation.As readers will remember, the same kind of pressure was brought to bear on Indiana when a similar bill was passed there, and in North Carolina where a discriminatory “bathroom bill” has just been passed, we also see corporations using their financial “voices” to some effect.—Ruth McCambridgeShareTweet4ShareEmail4 Shares
European cable giant Liberty Global increased revenues by US$1billion (€750 million) last year, posting a total of US$9.5 billion for the full year compared with US$8.4 for the previous year. The company posted a loss of US$772.7 million, compared to a profit of US$388.2 million in 2010 when it benefited from the sale of its Japanese operation.LG’s UPC Broadband division ended 2011 with 15.2 million subscribers, an increase of 2.3 million on 2010. Germany, where UPC recently acquired regional operator Kabel BW, was UPC’s largest market with 6.8 million subscribers, of which two million took digital services. In Poland, including the recently acquired Aster customer base, digital subscriber numbers were up 41,500 to 626,100.Telenet, LG’s Belgian operator, increased its digital subscriber base by 48,700 to a total of 1.4 million.LG’s president and CEO Mike Fries said, “The operating momentum we exhibited throughout 2011 continued into the fourth quarter with 380,000 net RGU additions, and 1.2 million for the full year. Our broadband bundles are driving demand across our footprint, which is now over 90% upgraded to offer 100Mbps-plus speeds. This demand propelled us to a record quarter in both broadband and telephony, as we added approximately 230,000 RGUs of each product in the fourth quarter.”
Orange has begun migrating its IPTV subscriber base to a new, next generation platform, La Nouvelle D’Orange, based on a unified service platform operated by Viaccess and its subsidiary Orca Interactive, both of which are owned by Orange.Orange has, to-date migrated 400,000 of its IPTV customers to to Viaccess and Orca’s unified platform. Overall, Orange has over 5.1 million TV customers and this represents the largest-ever IPTV middleware migration, according to Viaccess, a process in which three different existing services over ADSL, FTTH and hybrid satellite-IP will be converged onto a single unified platform. Migration of satellite customers will follow.Content security specialist Viaccess and its subsidiary IPTV middleware company Orca Interactive are providing a unified service platform which includes a Service Delivery Platform, Content Discovery platform, Conditional Access System and native multiscreen solution. It is adapted for IPTV, OTT delivery and hybrid networks.La Nouvelle TV d’Orange enables Orange to upgrade its IPTV service with a new interface and prepare the infrastructure for future over-the-top, multiscreen and unlimited content services. The new user interface incorporates VOD, catch-up TV, content discovery and recommendations, EPG, DVR services and apps.Philippe Rozes, head of TV service platforms at Orange Group, said: “The operational difficulty of managing multiple separate service platforms (for ADSL, web and hybrid satellite-IP) was impairing our ability to keep pace with the market. Collapsing all those separate silos onto a single platform has given us significant operational efficiency and has freed up resources to allow us to innovate faster. The use of advanced solutions, such as [Orca’s] RiGHTv and COMPASS, helps us improve our service velocity while the tight integration with Viaccess’ IPCAS content protection solutions ensures that we are able to preserve the value of our premium content.”Francois Moreau de Saint Martin, CEO of Viaccess and chairman of Orca, said, “With La Nouvelle TV d’Orange service, Orange has taken a big step forward and is now able to provide a more up-to-date, comprehensive service. However, the competition for pay TV subscribers in France and around the world is increasing. To maintain their position, operators such as Orange must provide a great experience for the viewers.”
Danish technology supplier Triax is due to present a new modular distribution system at ANGA COM. The system will enable the distribution of HDMI signals over Cat5e or Cat6/7 cables based on the HDBaseT standard and will encompass different transmitters and matrix switches that can be combined with one or more receivers.Accessories like infrared emitters and infrared eyes for remote controlling HDMI sources – such as TV sets or BluRay players – remote controls for the matrix switches, and different power-supply units round are also included in the product portfolio.Triax said the system can be used flexibly – for example in seminar rooms, fitness centres or for digital advertising boards – and that uncompressed full HD video signals and different audio formats like Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital Plus or DTS-HD can be transmitted over distances up to 100 metres, ten times the distance of a standard HDMI cable.Triax will be exhibiting at ANGA COM at stand G.11, hall 10.2.
French commercial broadcaster TF1 has welcomed a decision by the Paris Court of Appeal to multiply by five the penalty imposed on video sharing site Dailymotion for infringing the copyright of TF1 and news service LCI. The decision relates to a legal action dating from 2007. The Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance found in favour of the complainants in 2012, ahead of the latest judgment.Dailymotion has now been ordered to pay a fine of €1.3 million to TF1, LCI, TF1 Video and e-TF1.The court found that Dailymotion had failed to take action against users identified by TF1 as engaged in illegal posting of its content online.It also found that Dailymotion had enabled unfair and parasitical competition to e-TF1, which manages the broadcaster’s web activities.
UK broadcaster ITV is re-launching its ITV Choice channel in Singapore after striking a deal with the TV arm of local telco Singtel. The channel has previously been carried in the country on the StarHub platform before being taken off the platform in 2013 having launched in 1997, and the Singtel carriage deal marks its return.The drama and entertainment service will be programmed with ITV shows including scripted offerings Doc Martin and The Trials of Jimmy Rose, both of which will be shown within 24 hours of their UK TX on ITV1. Other drama titles on the channel will include Vera, Lewis, Murdoch Mysteries and Midsomer Murders.There will also be long-running UK soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale, which will also run within 24 hours of their UK broadcast on ITV.The entertainment line-up will include Paul O’Grady: For the Love Of Dogs and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!The ITV Choice launch in Singapore follows recent roll outs on Clear TV in Nepal and DCTV in Taiwan, as well as the channel launching across the Africa continent on DStv in May this year.Nic van Zwanenberg, Channel Director of ITV Choice, said: “Our new and improved schedule means Singaporean viewers no longer have to wait for their favourite shows and they can engage in all the social media conversations around our high rating content as viewers of ITV Choice do in other parts of the world.”
Star Wars villain, Darth VaderPortuguese pay TV operator Nos has launched a subscription video-on-demand service ahead of the arrival of Netflix in the country next month.Nos’ N Play will offer a range of films, series and kids content in HD quality for a fixed subscription of €7.50 a month. To promote the new SVoD service, Nos will make N Play available free of charge to current and new customers of its Iris advanced TV service for the first three months.N Play is kicking off with a catalogue that includes the six moves in the Star Wars sequence and a promotional campaign focusing on the films’ Darth Vader character.The service will be available across TVs, PCs, tablets and smartphones.Nos’s Lusomundo content arm last month signed a new output deal with HBO that saw its TVseries channel rebranded as Home of HBO, and N Play’s content offering will include the likes of Game of Thrones and True Detective.Netflix announced in June that it would launch in Portugal in October, but has not revealed pricing, although the streaming VoD provider recently upped its prices across existing Euro-area countries in which it is present to €9.99 for the standard service, with its single-device, non HD Essential option remaining available for €7.99.
Sky CEO Jeremy DarrochSky CEO Jeremy Darroch has urged Ofcom to call for BT and its infrastructure arm Openreach to separate, as the regulator prepares to publish the conclusions of its digital communications review.In an open letter, published in the Times newspaper today, Darroch said that ultrafast broadband is “critical to Britain’s future economic and social welfare”, and said that “it is clear the status quo is not an option”.“It’s no secret that Sky supports separation. But while some portray the issues as a battle between commercial rivals the truth is it matters to us all,” said Darroch.“BT invests virtually the same amount today in the network as 10 years ago. This has seen the annual level of faults grow to 10% of all customers, and customers waiting more than two weeks for their broadband to be connected. Unacceptable for a modern society.”The Sky boss claimed that despite its own fibre trials with TalkTalk in York, it is “often not economically viable for other providers to roll out separate ultrafast networks.”“Because BT’s broadband network faces little competition, BT sweats its copper assets for as long as possible, knowing it will not lose its captive customers and continue to earn decent profits even if it does not invest in fibre,” said Darroch. “Freeing up Openreach would allow the right level of investment to be made.”He said that the process of separating BT from Openreach “is not complicated” as the latter already functions separately.He added that the current BT Openreach approach to highspeend broadband improvements “will not deliver the 1Gbps speeds Britain needs” and that “investing in copper in 2016 is, as Henry Ford would have put it, like breeding a faster horse rather than building a car.”Last month a cross-party broadband study, backed by 121 UK members of parliament, said that BT should be forced to sell off Openreach to encourage “more competition and a better service for every internet user”.However, BT hit back at the findings, describing the report and its recommendations as “misleading and ill-judged” and said that the UK is “number one for broadband and superfast broadband when compared to other large EU countries.”“The idea that there would be more broadband investment if BT’s Openreach infrastructure division became independent is wrong-headed. As a smaller, weaker, standalone company, it would struggle to invest as much as it does currently,” said BT.Openreach was created 10 years ago to house BT’s local access network business, which can be accessed by third-party service providers in a regulated market. The division has been in the spotlight due to Ofcom’s digital communications review, with rivals including Sky alleging poor service and slowness in investing in ultra-fast networks.Ofcom is due to announce the conclusions to its review of digital communications this Thursday.
European digital economy and society commissioner Günther Oettinger is to headline the second day’s conference agenda at this year’s ANGA COM.Oettinger will present his view on broadband investments and connectivity in the Gigabit Society. His speech on Wednesday morning at 09:00 is open to all visitors and exhibitors.ANGA COM will open its doors next Tuesday June 7 at the Köln Messe with Where Broadband Meets Content as its unifying theme.For the first time this year, the third day of the event will take the form of a dedicated Broadband Theme Day, with free access for all visitors.The topics of the eight strategy and technology panels range from FTTH, G.fast and Smart Home to Internet of Things and regulation.On June 9, both exhibition and congress will be completely free of charge dependent on prior registration.Key topics at this year’s conference include Next Generation Networks, Internet of Things, Personalized TV, TV Everywhere, Multiscreen, All over IP and WiFi.This year’s congress programme includes 28 strategy and technology panels with more than 160 speakers and moderators.According to ANGA COM, a key highlight of the international congress track will be the International Television & Broadband Summit, featuring a range of speakers that includes Michel Azibert, chief commercial officer and deputy CEO, Eutelsat, Wilhelm Dresselhaus, spokesperson of the managing board at Nokia Solutions and Networks, Norbert Hölzle, SVP commercial Europe, SES and managing director, Astra Deutschland, Manuel Kohnstamm, chief corporate affairs officer, Liberty Global and Bruce McClelland, president network and cloud and global services, Arris.Other speakers include Xinbing Tang, chief technology officer, Huawei fixed network product line, Dirk Wierzbitzki, EVP products and marketing, Swisscom and Dirk Wössner, president, consumer business unit, Rogers Communications. The summit will be moderated by Matthias Kurth, executive chairman, Cable Europe.ANGA COM’s Speakers’ Corner feature is returning to this year’s show. Thirty-one companies will present new products, projects and solutions.Another feature of this year’s event will be the ANGA Overseas Panel, where international experts will speak about TV distribution in the Middle East, India and Africa.
Easter Rising: Voice of a RebelThe BBC has unveiled its first “true VR” pieces of content, marking a step forward in the UK public broadcaster’s experiments with the technology.The BBC posted a number of its Virtual Reality experiments to BBC Taster, its platform for experimental ideas, ahead of their premiere at Sheffield Doc Fest, with more projects set to follow.In a blog post detailing its work in this area, Andy Conroy, controller of BBC Research and Development, said that ‘true VR’ relates to virtual reality worlds that are interactive and can “react to some degree to what you do” – such as where you look and where you move your hands.This marks a distinction with the several pieces of 360-degree that the BBC has previously published, with each of the new projects designed to address challenges that will provide “invaluable insights for the organisation now and in the future,” according to Conroy.Available now on BBC Taster is We Wait, a BBC R&D and Aardman Studios co-production that uses the real stories of refugees as the basis for an animated virtual experience. This project was built for the Oculus Rift VR headset.Also available for Oculus is Easter Rising: Voice of a Rebel. BBC R&D worked on this project with BBC Learning, Crossover Labs and VR specialists VRTOV, producing a “new form of history documentary” that uses VR to present historical events from the perspective of their protagonists.Two other ‘true VR’ projects that will be available soon are: Home – A VR Spacewalk, a collaboration between BBC Science, BBC Learning, BBC Digital Storytelling and VR studio Rewind that was built for the HTC Vive VR headset; and The Turning Forest, a fairy tale created with VRTOV, which has used R&D technology to create “incredibly realistic 3D sound”.Two 360-degree BBC projects that are also available now on BBC Taster are: Rome’s Invisible City VR, which takes audiences on a tour of Rome’s Pantheon; and Trooping the Colour, a 360-degree “Queen’s eye view” of what the British monarch will see as part of her 90th birthday celebrations. Both projects were built for viewing in a web browser, or through smartphones VR headsets like Google Cardboard.“This is all part of the BBC’s early experimentation to help us better understand emerging technology and new mediums, explore the potential for future audiences, and see what kind of role the BBC should, or shouldn’t, be playing,” said Will Saunders, editorial lead for BBC Taster.“In terms of the technology, the main difference is that VR is more interactive and immersive than 360 degree video, which is very much as it sounds – a video played out in 360 degrees around the viewer. However, both have the potential to give viewers a sense of presence.“This is interesting to us as programme makers as it can help make people feel like they’re at the heart of the action or the story, which could help future audiences better understand important current affairs, news, science and history topics or give them a new perspective.”
Stéphane RichardOrange does not want to acquire Canal+, according to CEO Stéphane Richard. Interviewed on the Good Morning Business show on BFM TV, Richard said Canal+ was an important partner and that Orange was a key distributor of the latter’s content.Richard said that to his knowledge, Canal+ was not for sale, and there were no discussions in progress about a potential sale. He said the pair were discussing deeper cooperation both inside and outside France.There has been considerable speculation about the possibility of Orange acquiring the pay TV operator. Speaking at a conference in Morocco in December, Richard said Orange “would definitely look into it” if Canal+ was up for sale.Orange and Canal+ last year struck a deal that saw Canal+ content provided as part of a bundled offering from Orange for the first time.Richard said Orange was paying close attention to the distribution of Ligue 1 football rights and that it was important that his customers were not deprived of the ability to view Ligue 1 matches. However, he said Orange had no intention of launching its own premium sports offering, on the model of rival SFR.Asked about SFR’s emergence as a key player in the market for premium sports rights and the threat this posed, Richard drew a comparison with Telefónica in Spain, which held key football rights that Orange had access to, despite the pair being competitors.French financial daily Les Echos reported earlier this month that Orange was in talks with Canal+ about how to help it acquire premium rights. According to the paper, Orange would seek a deeper participation in Canal+, possibly through the creation of a new company to commercialise the pay TV service in France, as a condition of any deal that involved it financing the acquisition of sports rights.Richard was speaking to BFM TV after year-end results that saw its TV customer base in increase by 6.9% year-on-year to reach 8.5 million customers across Europe.In France, Orange had 6.609 million TV customers, down from 6.423 million a year earlier. However, fixed broadband ARPU grew by 0.8% in the year to December, reflecting the growing share of fibre and premium services and the development of TV content offerings. Convergent offers represented 57% of the retail fixed broadband customer base at December 31.In Spain, take-up of TV services increased sharply, with 507,000 customers at the end of the year, up 1.7 times year-on-year.Orange Belgium had 33,400 Internet and IPTV convergent customers at the end of the year. Belgium and Luxembourg together had 40,000 TV customers, up from 4,000 a year earlier.Orange’s central European operations including Poland, Slovakia and Moldova had 507,000 TV customers at the end of the year, up from 366,000 a year earlier. Orange Moldova had 100,000 TV customers at the end of the year.In Europe outside France as a whole, fixed broadband revenues rose 7.7% in the fourth quarter after rising 4.8% in the third quarter, boosted by the rapid development of fibre and TV content offers in Spain.