Travel insurance – helping travellersleave with memories and not withhuge medical bills. Image: flickr.com “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel”.This phrase has been repeatedly drilled into Australian heads, yet according to a new study 30 percent of all Aussies do not purchase travel insurance when going overseas.Travel insurance provider SureSave recently conducted research which found that out of 1,000 Australian respondents, travellers aged 60+ were the most likely to invest in travel insurance, with only 13 percent leaving home without it.Generation Xers were the riskiest of the respondents with 24 percent of 30-39 year olds opting to travel unprotected, followed by 18-29 years old of whom only 13 percent resisted purchasing travel insurance.Overall, 30 percent of Australian respondents did not always purchase travel insurance, 12 percent either never or rarely bought it and 18 percent made their decision based on their perception of the destination to which they were travelling.”If you travel without insurance, you’re putting yourself at risk and there can be serious financial consequences,” SureSave executive general manager Michael Callaghan said.”Even a short stay in a US hospital can cost a traveller tens of thousands of dollars if they’re not protected.”A travel insurance policy is a very small price to pay for coverage in the event that something goes wrong.”Do you take out travel insurance every time you travel?Source = e-Travel Blackboard: A.N.
Go back to the e-newsletter >United Airlines is introducing a new custom-designed seat for first-class cabins on more than 200 of the company’s narrowbody aircraft. The seat will debut on an Airbus A319 this week, with retrofits on A319s, A320s and many Boeing 737s and 757s through 2016.Developed with input from customers whom the airline invited to test seat prototypes, UA and design firm PriestmanGoode have created several elements to improve the customer experience, including:All-leather seat covers in signature navy and champagne colorsA patented-design tray table with tablet holder, enabling travelers to enjoy food and beverages while using their personal electronic devicesAn articulating seat bottom for greater comfort when reclining and an adjustable headrestIn-seat universal A/C power outlets for customers to charge their devicesAdditional in-seat storage, including two seatback pockets and side stowage for laptops and tabletsDedicated beverage holdersGranite cocktail tablesAt 21.1 inches wide, the new United First seat is wider than the current seat and will have numerous custom-design elements and premium finishes, including the signature UA-branded tag.Each aircraft will continue to have the same number of premium-cabin seats.“This new seat is directly based on customer testing and feedback,” said Tom O’Toole, UA’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “We designed a custom seat that incorporates the features that today’s passengers want and upgrades our cabins.”UA’s new premium-cabin seat is among upgrades the airline is making to its aircraft interiors, including larger overhead bins, more in-seat power outlets and new carpets, mood lighting, boarding music and galley flooring.The airline has also recently:Updated its mobile app to offer interactive indoor maps at the airline’s hubs in the continental United States, including testing beacons at Newark Liberty International AirportExpanded its personal device entertainment to 120 Wi-Fi-equipped United Express regional jets, enabling more customers to stream free content to their laptop computers and iOS and Android devicesLaunched an upgraded food and beverage service – including multi-course meals, complimentary beer and wine and a new option to purchase premium snacks – for customers in United Economy on many intercontinental flightsIntroduced products from Cowshed Spa, the premium spa and lifestyle brand of London-based Soho House & Co., in premium cabins on long-haul international flights and in more than a dozen UA airport lounges worldwide.Go back to the e-newsletter >
TIME Unlimited Tours has launched its Cultural City to Cape Collection for winter. The tours, named ‘Season of Matariki – A Star Journey’, target premium international visitors looking for a fully integrated, seasonally themed Maori cultural experience.Clients seeking luxury options can immerse themselves in quality experiences that showcase culturally significant locations and attractions between Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland) and Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) at the top of New Zealand’s North Island. Tours range from one-day, one-way or multi-day options.TIME Unlimited Tours works collaboratively with partners to deliver bespoke, exclusive or behind-the-scenes experiences as part of each itinerary to share both their Maori history and their everyday cultural upbringing.The experiences provide exclusivity and choice by connecting local people to the local places visited so that every cultural encounter is tailored to the manuhiri (guests).“The aim is to gain a sense of genuine connection between visitors and locals so that guests can have authentic experiences that share who we are as Maori,” says TIME Unlimited Tours director, Ceillhe Sperath. “Immersion into our tikanga (customs) fosters a greater understanding of Tangata Whenua (people of the land) and empowers our guests to feel comfortable to engage with the locals.”
August 10, 2002 Alumni Paul Moorebrought the dance group ‘Human Nature’ to Arcosanti for another dynamicretreat session. Participants this year were Will Duncan, Jayne Lee,Francis Martineau, Nathan Montgomery, Paul Moore, Delisa Myles andBreanna Rogers. The group describes itself as a loosely bandedcollective of strong willed performers intending to express a deep feltunspeakable vision. Here is part of the group during reheasal in the CollySoleri Theater. [Photo & Text: SA] ‘Human Nature’ isbased in Flagstaff and spends one week each year at Arcosanti. Thestage is being prepared with some beautiful red silt. [Photo & Text:SA] This yearsperformance ‘Unveiling the Mirage’ explored relationships betweenpeople. It included everthing from personal journeys into inner self toexpressions of culturally inhibited gender roles. From beginning to endit was a very intense and deeply touching performance. [Photo: T &Text: SA] Part of eachperformance offered at Arcosanti is a tour of the site before dinner.[Photo & Text: SA] Chef Ali Sadiquiwith helpers Spenser Marese and Caterina Loy presented anotherbeautiful meal. The menu included: Asian Gaspacho,Jicama-Parsnip-Carrot Salad, Honey-Glazed Salmon or Tofu, Purple StickyRice, Green Tea Mousse with Sake Marinated Cherries. A very colorfuland ‘very’ delicious combination. [Photo & Text: SA] Washing dishes for aconcert meal of at least 150 people sounds a bit scary. Theseresidents; Gabriel Hendrix, planningintern Scott Airlie and Brad Bishop, are actully having a greattime. [Photo & Text: SA] This dinner wasserved in the cafe. Here are servers Gwen Birk, Liz Schiffler, IraMurfin, Marlena Mejia and Justin Dehnert. [Photo & Text: SA] The cafe lookedclassy with white tablecloths and napkins. Paolo Soleri [in blue shirt] is enjoying the dinnerand conversation with workshoppers Rebecca Keithen and StefanoCapranico. Another wonderful event. [Photo & Text: SA]
State Rep. Jim Tedder and state Sen. Mike Kowall have introduced resolutions to voice concern regarding the federal government’s attempt to more stringently regulate the Internet.New rules would begin heavily regulating Internet service providers and the entire broadband industry, rather than its current state as a lightly regulated information service.“This is a federal issue but as a state legislature we can voice our concerns to the federal government and our congressional delegation in the interests of economic freedom for all Michiganders,” said Rep. Tedder, R-Clarkston. “While I think the FCC rules are heavier-handed than needed, Internet was created as a neutral network and I don’t think that should change.”Net neutrality has been heavily debated recently and many are in disagreement on whether or not more federal regulations are required for the internet.“Net neutrality as a concept does hold some merit, but by creating stricter rules has a great potential to stall the great advancements made to the Internet,” said Sen. Kowall, R-White Lake. “Those advancements have occurred without heavy regulation and any new regulations could become prohibitive to that.” Categories: Tedder News 26Feb House and Senate Republicans introduce resolutions encouraging the Federal government not to create Internet regulations
Categories: Garcia News,Garcia Photos,News,Photos PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township, had George Earhart (left) and Jack Tatigan (right) of OT Investigations and Associates join him as guests for the State of the State address Tuesday at the state Capitol. Earhart is the chief operation manager and Tatigan is owner and president at the Commerce Township-based OT Investigations, a personal/private investigation and security firm featuring professionals with local, state and federal law enforcement and U.S. military experience. “It was an honor to have George and Jack as my guests,” Rep. Kesto said. “Small businesses are the foundation of a strong economy. I am dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners in the 39th District and across the state of Michigan.” 18Jan Commerce Township business owner joins Rep. Kesto for State of the State speech
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares a katz / Shutterstock.comDecember 12, 2014;Office of Senator Tom HarkinThis is part of the text of Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s final speech from the floor of the U.S. Senate. NPQ doesn’t often draw on press releases or reprint speeches, but in this case, given Harkin’s 40 years in Congress, Harkin’s beautiful and moving statement is worth a detailed read. It’s about a man’s faith in the institutions of American democracy and his appreciation of what this country has given to him and his family, particularly his mother, who came to the U.S. after 25 years living in a small house with a dirt floor and no running water in Suha, Yugoslavia (now Slovenia), and his father who, at the age of 53, with only a sixth-grade education and five children (with Tom Harkin himself on the way as the sixth), received a WPA card in 1939, giving him a job, income, meaningful work, and hope for a better future.Just as moving were Harkin’s four challenges for his successors, four overriding issues that he thinks need to be addressed for this country to progress—and to rectify longstanding injustices. Because all four of Harkin’s concerns have been addressed extensively in NPQ’s writing, we are reprinting excerpts from his speech here:“There are four overriding issues that I hope this Senate will address in the coming session. Number one, as I mentioned, the growing economic inequality in America. It is destructive of lives, it slows our progress as a nation, and it will doom broad support for representative government. When people at the bottom of the economic ladder feel the government is not helping them and in fact may be stacked against them, they will cease to vote, or will turn to the siren song of extreme elements in our society. History proves this to be true.“I don’t have a cookie-cutter answer or solution, but it must include more fair tax laws and trade laws, more job training and retraining, rebuilding our physical infrastructure, and manufacturing. And I believe it must include some things, seemingly unrelated, like quality, free, early education for every child in America.“The answer to closing the inequality gap must include rebuilding labor unions and collective bargaining. If you trace the line over the last 40 years of our growing economic inequality and put that over another line showing the loss in the number of union workers, they are almost identical. I do not believe it is a stretch to say that organized labor, unions, built the middle class in America, and they are a part of the answer in strengthening and rebuilding our middle class. “Another part of the answer is raising the minimum wage to above the poverty line and inflation indexing it for the future. We also need new flex-time laws especially for women in the workforce. We need to strengthen Social Security as in Senator Brown’s bill. We need a new retirement system for all workers. Not another 401(k), but a system in which employers and employees contribute, which can only be withdrawn as an annuity for life after one retires, like the Netherlands has. Lack of a reliable retirement is one of the most under reported, unexamined crises on our national horizon, and is a big part of our growing inequality. “Finally, we must continue to build on the Affordable Care Act. The cost and availability of good health care has in the past widened the inequality gap. We are now starting to close that element of inequality. We need to add a public option to the exchange as another choice for people. And we must continue support for prevention and public health—moving us more and more away from ‘sick care’ to real ‘health care.’“The second overriding issue is the destruction of the family of man’s only home—planet Earth—through the continued use of fossil fuels. We know what’s happening. The science is irrefutable, the data is clear, the warning signs are flashing in bright neon red: ‘stop what you are doing with fossil fuels.’ We must shift massively and quickly to renewable energy, a new smart electric grid, retrofitting our buildings for energy efficiency, and moving rapidly to a hydrogen-based energy cycle.The third issue I commend to the Senate for further development and changes in existing laws is the under employment of people with disabilities. “As you all know, ensuring equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities has been the major part of my work in the Senate for the past 30 years. We have made significant strides forward in changing America to fulfill two of the four goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act. These two are full participation and equal opportunity.“The other two goals—independent living and economic self-sufficiency—need more development. I ask you all in the next Congress to do two things to advance these two goals of independent living and economic self-sufficiency.“First, help states to fully implement the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision, to more rapidly de-institutionalize people with disabilities and provide true independent living with support services. This will save money, and individuals with disabilities lives will be better and more truly independent. “Secondly, we must do more on employment of people with disabilities in competitive, integrated employment.“We get the monthly unemployment figures. Last month unemployment held steady at 5.8 percent officially, but Leo Hindery has better calculations to show the real rate is twice that figure. Also, we know that unemployment among young African-Americans is 11.1 percent. “But how many of us know that the unemployment rate among adult Americans with disabilities who want to work and can work is over 60 percent?! Yes, you heard me right: almost two out of three people with disabilities cannot find a job. That is a blot on our national character.“Thankfully, some enlightened employers have affirmative action plans to hire more people with disabilities. Employers are finding that many times these become their best employees—they are more productive, the hardest working, most reliable workers.“I ask you to meet with Greg Wasson, CEO of Walgreens, and Randy Lewis, who was Senior V.P., now retired. Walgreens has hired many people with disabilities in Walgreens’ distribution centers, and now has set a goal of 10% of their store employees will be people with disabilities. There are others making strides in this area: Best Buy, Lowes, Home Depot, IBM, and Marriott—to mention some other large companies moving forward in hiring people with disabilities. We need to learn from them what we—the federal and perhaps state government—can do to help in this area. We also need to implement policies to help small businesses employ more people with disabilities.“I dwell on this because perhaps I feel I haven’t done enough on this issue of employment for people with disabilities, and we just have to do better. I will say, however, that our HELP Committee passed this year and President Obama signed into law, a new re-authorization of the old Workforce Investment Act, now named the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act. In the law, there is a new provision I worked on to get more intervention in high school for kids with disabilities to prepare for the workplace through summer jobs, job coaching, and internships…“The fourth issue concerns the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.“I don’t think anything has saddened me more in my 30 years here than the failure of the Senate to ratify the CRPD. This convention was modeled after our own Americans with Disabilities Act. It has been ratified by 150 nations. It has broad and deep support in our country, supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, veterans groups, every disability organization, every former living President, every former Republican leader of the Senate: Senator Dole, Senator Lott, and Senator Frist. In November, we received a letter of support from the National Association of Evangelicals. I also want to point out that Senator Dole has worked his heart out on this. I hope the next Senate will take this up and join with the rest of the world in helping make changes globally for people with disabilities.”Speeches by American politicians—no offense—are generally staff-written PR statements, lacking the authentic voice of the politicians themselves. Harkin’s final speech feels like a heartfelt statement of a great statesman whose top priorities were core issues for much of the nonprofit sector.—Rick Cohen ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share42Tweet3Share7Email52 Shares“West Sacramento affordable housing construction” by Mark HoganFebruary 28, 2017; Minneapolis Star TribuneNobody likes tax season, but affordable housing developers have an extra reason to be anxious this year. After President Donald Trump promised to slash the corporate tax rate, investors are hesitant to buy affordable housing tax credits, leading to a serious dearth of cash for affordable housing developers.The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, or LIHTC, is an $8 billion federal program, which translates to hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for affordable housing. As the Minneapolis Star Tribune explained,The low-income housing tax credit program starts with the Internal Revenue Service, which allocates tax credits to state agencies that divvy them up among developers. Those developers sell the tax credits to investors for cash to fund their projects. For investors, part of the appeal of buying tax credits is a 10-year, dollar-for-dollar tax write-off. Purchasing $1 million in low-income housing tax credits translates to a $10 million tax break over time.Between 1987 and 2014, the LIHTC was responsible for over 40,000 projects involving nearly three million units of affordable housing. Just between 2007 and 2013, the rate of shelter use declined by over 10 percent. That’s nearly 150,000 fewer people in shelters, and that’s not counting the LIHTC-funded units that went to people who didn’t start in a shelter but came straight from the streets or from homes they could no longer afford. The LIHTC finances 90 percent of the affordable rental housing in the U.S.LIHTC units are required to be affordable for families making 60 percent or less of an area’s median income for at least 15 years, giving time for families to get on their feet and establish savings before having to pay the market rate for housing—which is rapidly increasing in cities across the United States.Now, developers are halting projects, worried they may not have the funds to finish. The value of a credit dropped from over a dollar to under a dollar around the time of the presidential election and investors began to back off from prior commitments to buy.“It is disrupting a market that was really working well,” said Warren Hanson, president and CEO at the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. Developments in Minneapolis could be short as much as $1.3 million, depending on whether investors follow through on their commitments.It’s not the investors’ fault that they can’t say whether they’ll buy. Donald Trump has promised to reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, though whether he’ll actually follow through, and whether Congress will pass legislation enacting it, is yet to be seen. If investors honor their current commitments and the tax rate does drop, lowering their tax liability, they’ll have bought credit for taxes they don’t have to pay. They’ll have overspent for nothing, since affordable housing doesn’t have an ROI. That’s a betrayal of their shareholders and not likely to win them business in the future.The uncertainty is bad for investors, who can’t manage their tax liability; it’s bad for developers, who have to hold onto as much funding as they can before they know if a project will actually be built; it’s certainly bad for low-income families, who may lose the best chances they have for affordable housing. And, as WBUR pointed out, it’s bad for construction workers, whose workloads may drop significantly.“We probably have four projects that were slated to start in the first quarter that are being delayed, and the answers we’re getting for clients on those particular jobs are, we’re working on it,” said Joe Rettman, who heads NEI General Contracting in Massachusetts. Rettman says that a quarter of his work is funded by low-income housing tax credits.The loss of the LIHTC helps nobody, from the corporate investors to the construction workers. It eliminates housing, jobs, and capital from the market. It has, therefore, exactly the opposite effect that the tax cuts are intended to have—it cuts jobs instead of creating them. If a program is serving both the top and the bottom of the income spectrum, there can be no logical reason to do away with it—though whether that will save the LIHTC is anyone’s guess.— Erin RubinShare42Tweet3Share7Email52 Shares
Share17TweetShareEmail17 SharesBy Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon (Minneapolis Homeless Memorial March) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia CommonsAugust 24, 2018; Star TribuneThanks to Minneapolis city officials and American Indian leaders, there is hope for a growing homeless encampment in Minnesota.According to the Star Tribune, Mayor Jacob Frey recently announced that local service agencies will have a special focus on helping the rapidly expanding tent city between Hiawatha and Cedar Avenues. The deadline to eliminate the encampment is end of September. The rise in homelessness has been tied to a decrease in affordable housing and an inability for local homeless shelters to keep up with the growing demand.“Housing is a right, and the city has an obligation to step up and we are stepping up,” Frey said at a news conference at the American Indian Center in Minneapolis. “We will be working to ensure that those present at the encampment receive every service they need.”Star Tribune noted that the homeless camp is made up in the greatest part by American Indians and has doubled in size over the past two weeks. The camp is battling infections like MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection) and hepatitis, and some are concerned for the safety and well-being of single women.It is important here to note the work of local nonprofits. The American Indian Community Development Corporation will be providing hygienic service areas that will include toilets and showers. Star Tribune noted that AICDC hopes that by operating these hygiene areas, it will build relationships and help the people there learn how to access services such as supported housing and chemical dependency treatment.As homelessness continues to rise across the nation, creative solutions for affordable housing are key. NPQ has noted how repurposing malls has been in the conversation. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is also looking into California’s issues with affordability.As the housing and homelessness crisis continues to impact cities across the nation, it will be interesting to see how nonprofits shift strategy and seek out innovative solutions, especially when homelessness impacts people of color at higher rates. The solutions proposed for the encampment (especially working with local American Indian leaders) in Minneapolis showcase the need for nonprofits and government to understand intersectionality, which Merriam-Webster defines as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.”Whether the topic is homelessness, poverty, disparate health outcomes, or lack of representation in various job sectors, there’s no surprise that marginalized groups always come out behind. Racism, sexism, and classism have all impacted outcomes in career, housing access, and health. Solutions for fixing those disparities need to address the overlapping causes and involve representation from those most affected. Nonprofit decision-makers need to take the time to understand how historical and modern injustices have resulted in the issues we see today.By understanding the complex and interwoven systems of oppression in society, and the complex and interwoven identities that we all have, we can better tackle the problems of our community. The more nonprofits (of all scope of services) and government see how disparities are all related, we can move beyond Band-Aids over symptoms and address the deeply rooted injustices impacted marginalized groups.—Kelly PhippsShare17TweetShareEmail17 Shares
Belgacom has struck a deal with on-demand music provider Deezer to offer unlimited access to over 13 million music tracks.Belgacom claims to be the first operator in Belgium to integrate unlimited music subscription to various of its Internet and mobile packs. The Deezer for Belgacom service will be launched in the next few weeks, with commercial terms announced at the time of launch.
UK commercial broadcaster ITV and its pay TV counterpart BSkyB have refuted claims in a new report that they do very little to support the UK film industry.The UK-government commissioned report said the pair should be doing more to support the UK industry in terms of direct investment and acquisition of British titles.ITV said it invests almost £1 billion (€1.2 billion) in UK programming a year. Sky said it has a distinctive place in the UK broadcasting eco system and needed a commercial rationale to justify any investment unlike public service broadcasters that receive public money.
Strong TV and broadband sales helped Slovenian telecom operator Telekom Slovenije maintain its first half revenues at last year’s level, despite a continued decline in voice telephony and lower mobile revenues thanks to migration to lower-cost packages. The Slovenian operator grew its TV base by 2.6% to 131,868, representing a 54% market share, according to the company’s calculations.Telekom Slovenije reported €381.6 million in revenue, flat year-on-year and EBITDA of €111.2 million.
Sony’s over-the-top TV service PlayStation Vue has launched as an app for Apple TV in the US.PS Vue is available now on fourth generation Apple TVs– the most recent version of the streaming box, which launched last year.Announcing the launch, Sony said that Apple TV was “one of the most highly requested devices by our fans”.“The PlayStation Vue experience on Apple TV will provide viewers with a better option to watch your favourite live TV programming, with unique streaming features such as cloud DVR, simultaneous streaming, and no long-term contract commitments,” said PlayStation Vue’s head of product, Dan Myers.New customers can sign up for one of several plan options – starting at US$29.99 per month – through the PlayStation Vue website and link their account to Apple TV without needing a PlayStation console.PlayStation Vue launched on Android TVs in the US late last month and Sony said that PC and Mac support would follow soon. In the summer it also went live on Roku streaming devices and Android smartphones and tablets.In terms of PlayStation Vue’s content offering, BBC America went live this month, however some 20 Viacom networks were pulled from the OTT service including Comedy Central, Spike, Nickelodeon and MTV.
Vivendi has denied an Italian press report that suggested the French media giant and its chairman Vincent Bolloré were inclined to resume negotiations with Mediaset to strike a new deal over ownership of the Italian broadcaster’s pay TV arm, Mediaset Premium.Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported, citing unnamed sources, that Bolloré was willing to involve Telecom Italia, the Italian national telco in which Vivendi is the largest shareholder, in a new deal.According to the report, one plan being discussed is for Vivendi, Mediaset and Telecom Italia each to take a one third stake in the loss-making pay TV unit, which would avoid any one shareholder consolidating Premium’s losses in its financial reporting.Il Sole 24 Ore said that Telecom Italia had denied involvement in any such scheme.Vivendi denied being involved in any talks.Mediaset boss Pier Silvio Berlusconi was yesterday reported by Italian press as saying that Vivendi had inflicted “serious damage” on Mediaset and added that Mediaset was looking at alternative plans to create a wider European pay TV platform, possibly with other partners. He said Mediaset had struck a “binding” agreement with Vivendi, declining to comment further ahead of the hearing scheduled on the case in March.Berlusconi declined to comment on rumours of talks with Sky about forging a pay TV alliance.Vivendi and Mediaset struck a deal in April whereby the former agreed to take control of Mediaset Premium. However, the French company subsequently pulled out on the grounds that the pay TV unit’s financial prospects were worse than it had been led to believe, something vigorously denied by Mediaset. The pair are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute over the matter.
The cable industry in the European Union grew from €21.2 billion in 2014 to €22.4 billion in 2015, despite a dip in cable TV subscribers, according to IHS Markit.The research firm’s new ‘2016 European Broadband Cable Yearbook’ claims that the industry grew despite “increasing competition” from traditional and over-the-top (OTT) players.TV accounted for almost half of total cable revenue in 2015, coming in at €10.5 billion, and the take-up of digital services was found to be on the rise.However, the total number of cable TV subscribers in the European Union fell from 55.7 million in 2014 to 55.1 million in 2015, according to the report.At the same time it said the revenue contribution of internet and telephony services has risen over recent years, climbing from 47% in 2010 to 53% in 2015.IHS Markit said that by the end of 2015, close to two-thirds of cable homes opted for digital TV and that high definition TV (HDTV) was taken by 54% of European digital cable homes.While ultra high definition was found to still in its infancy, the report said that the uptake of HD “bodes well for acceptance of the new formats such as UHD and 4K in the years to come”.IHS predicted the cable “consolidation trend” would continue following a number of important mergers and acquisitions in 2015, including Tele Columbus’ buyout of Primacom in Germany, and Altice gaining control of Numericable-SFR in France.“Further consolidation in the sector can be expected, with cable remaining fragmented compared to the platforms it competes with,” said IHS Technology research director and report author, Maria Rua Aguete.Overall, Germany and the UK were the largest European cable markets in terms of revenue, generating €4.7 billion and €4 billion respectively.The European Broadband Cable Yearbook was produced by IHS Markit in association with trade body Cable Europe.
Austria overtook Belgium to claim the fourth-fastest average internet speeds in the Europe, Middle East and African (EMEA) region, according to Netflix’s November ISP Speed Index.In Austria the average speed during the month was 3.87 Mbps, pipping Belgium at 3.86 Mbps.Another strong month for Austria meant the country has climbed the Netflix rankings from seventh place in September to fifth in October and fourth last month.Liwest was Austria’s fastest ISP with speeds of 4.30 Mbps, followed by Kabelplus, CableLink and UPC, according to Netflix’s stats.The top three places in the EMEA rankings remained unchanged in November, with Switzerland leading with average web speeds of 4.14 MbpsRomania followed in second place with average speeds of 3.98 Mbps while the Netherlands placed third with 3.95 Mbps.In Switzerland the fastest ISP in November was ImproWare (4.25 Mbps), in Romania it was Digi Net Fiberlink (4.07 Mbps), while in the Netherlands it was KPN (4.03 Mbps).In Greece, OTE saw speeds gain by 0.33 Mbps, increasing its average monthly speed to 3.38 Mbps, up from 3.05 Mbps in October. This helped Greece to claim 19th place in the EMEA rankings.The Netflix ISP Speed Index is a measure of primetime Netflix performance on a particular ISP and not a measure of overall performance for other services or data that travels across the specific ISP network.Faster Netflix performance generally means better picture quality, quicker start times and fewer interruptions.
French pay TV provider Canal+ has teamed up with Vivendi sister-company Universal Music to launch a new channel dedicated to classical music.The new service, Deutsche Grammophon+, will offer exclusive programmes and content based on Deutsche Grammophon catalogue.The channel will make available about 400 titles at launch, spanning short documentaries, interviews, profiles, extracts, concerts and performances and playlists recommended by Deutsche Grammophon artists.Among performances to be aired is one performed in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel in Dolby Atmos sound. The channel will also air 10 re-masterisations of discs in Dolby Atmos that will be published this year, with a second, similar series to be aired next year. Both will feature re-mastered versions of discs from the analogue era of recording featuring conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan and Carlos Kleiber.The channel will be available to Canal+ subscribers as part of the Family, Panorama and Intégrale pack, and will be delivered as a streaming service on the myCanal app as well as to the latest generation of Canal+ set-tops. The service will also be offered to third-party distributors to make available via their IPTV boxes.Canal+ said that music from other labels in the Universal Music stable would be added later.The broadcaster said that the creation of the channel showed the synergies that are possible between the different arms of Vivendi.
At the moment, I’m just sitting here and waiting for the next shoe to drop.The gold price didn’t do much in Far East trading on their Wednesday…and the tiny rally in London didn’t get far…and got sold down to basically unchanged by the time that Comex trading began in New York.The gold price rallied a bit more, but that lasted until the London p.m. gold fix…and then it got sold down to its 3:45 p.m. Eastern time low, before rallying a hair into the close.Nothing much to see here. The high and low price ticks in New York were $1,396.30 spot…and $1,367.60 spot. For the second day running, the gold price wasn’t allowed above the $1,400 spot price mark.Gold closed the day at $1,377.50 spot…up $8.20 from Tuesday’s close. Volume was very heavy once again, around 269,000 contracts.It was pretty much the same price pattern in silver, with the New York high tick [$23.81 spot] being printed at the London p.m. gold fix…and the low [$22.86 spot] at the Comex open. Once the afternoon gold ‘fix’ was in, the silver price followed the gold price around like a shadow.Silver finished the Wednesday session at $32.31 spot…down 3 cents from Tuesday. Volume was very chunky once again…around 51,000 contracts net.The trading patterns in both platinum and palladium were similar as well…and both finished down on the day.The dollar index closed on Tuesday afternoon in New York at 81.83…and once trading began in the Far East on their Wednesday, the index continued to rally…hitting its zenith [82.70] around 3:00 p.m. in New York. It backed off a hair from there, closing at 82.63…up 80 basis points on the day.Despite the decent price performance in gold, the shares struggled to remain above the unchanged mark. Their highs were at gold’s high at the afternoon London gold fix…and it was basically all down hill from there, closing almost on their lows. The HUI finished down another 5.11%.The silver shares were crushed again as well…and Nick Laird’s Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed down another 6.25%.(Click on image to enlarge)As I said in this space yesterday, it’s my opinion that the mutual funds have been hit with massive redemptions…and they’ve been forced to sell into an illiquid market whether they wanted to or not.The CME Daily Delivery Report showed that zero gold and 3 silver contracts were posted for delivery on Friday. Nothing to see here.Another day…and another withdrawal from GLD yesterday, as an authorized participant[s] withdrew 357,860 troy ounces. And as of 9:48 p.m. Eastern time yesterday evening, there were no reported changes in SLV.Over at Switzerland’s Zürcher Kantonalbank, they reported declines in both their gold and silver ETFs as of the close of business on April 15th. Their gold ETF dropped by a smallish 19,008 troy ounces…and their silver ETF fell by 212,767 troy ounces.It was a pretty decent sales day over at the U.S. Mint yesterday. They sold a very chunky 63,500 ounces of gold eagles…almost two metric tonnes! And they almost doubled their April one-ounce 24K gold buffalo sales from 9,500 to 18,000 in one day. But they only sold 172,000 silver eagles, so it’s obvious that the are selling them as fast as they are making them.Over at the Comex-approved depositories on Tuesday, they reported receiving 630,567 troy ounces of silver…and shipped 484,203 troy ounces of the stuff out the door. The link to that activity is here.Well, the silver bullion supply crunch has finally arrived in Edmonton. Virtually all silver bullion sold in Canada starts off life in the United States…even the Canadian silver maple leaf…as the Royal Canadian Mint sources virtually all of its blanks from the U.S. So much for “Made in Canada”…eh!As of noon today, our store stopped selling most products over the counter…and order-in as well, which is the lion’s share of our business. None of our U.S. suppliers were taking orders for any bullion products of any description. We could still sell a very limited number of silver, gold, platinum and palladium maples leafs and bars over the counter, but that was it. This problem is now wide-spread everywhere in North America. Most small ‘Ma and Pa’ precious metals dealers are cleaned out…and have no chance of getting any more product for months.Here are a couple of charts that Nick sent me on Tuesday evening that I just didn’t have room for in yesterday’s column. They show gold and silver prices going back to 1970…and the percent deviation from their respective 200-day moving averages over the years. As you can tell, we are at extremes rarely seen in both metals…especially in gold.(Click on image to enlarge)(Click on image to enlarge)Here is your quota of ‘cute’ photos for the day… I have the usual number of stories for a weekday…and I hope you have the time to read the ones that interest you the most.The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in “Metcalfe’s law” – which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants – becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine. – Paul Krugman, 1998I wouldn’t read much into yesterday’s price action in either gold or silver, except to note that gold wasn’t allowed to penetrate the $1,400 mark for the second day in a row. Volumes in both metals were very heavy…and with the much quieter price action, one would have thought that the volume level would have dropped off even more than it did.At the moment, I’m just sitting here and waiting for the next shoe to drop. Are we going higher or lower…and how soon and how fast? Beats me, but like I said yesterday, I doubt very much if we’ll have long too wait to find out. My bet is up…and up big.But, having said that, I note that in Far East price action around 9:00 a.m. in Hong Kong on their Thursday morning, all four precious metals were massaged to the downside by the high-frequency trading crowd, as no for-profit seller would dump a boat load of contracts all in the same moment in the most thinly-traded portion of the market, if they were trying to get the best price.The biggest price declines were in both gold and silver…and that doesn’t come as a surprise to me. However, both metals are struggling back…and have regained most of their losses going into the London open. As of 3:25 a.m. Eastern time…gold volume is already north of 63,000 contracts…and silver’s net volume is a bit over 12,000 contracts.Here are the 3-year charts for both gold and silver with both the 50-day and 20-day moving averages shown. Note that they both printed a record low RSI reading earlier this week…and probably the lowest in history. The RSI in silver didn’t even get that low on the May 1st drive-by shooting back in 2011. The nearest moving average of importance in gold is the 20-day…and it’s about $170 above yesterday’s closing price on the chart below. In silver, the 20-day moving average is currently about four bucks above silver’s closing price on Wednesday. Until we get to those moving averages, there’s no reason for the technical funds to begin covering their record high short positions…and the 50-day moving average in both metals are even higher.(Click on image to enlarge)(Click on image to enlarge)And as I hit the ‘send’ button at 5:19 a.m. Eastern time, gold is up about nine bucks…and silver is up a nickel. Volumes are continuing to rise. Gold’s volume is approaching 80,000 contracts…and the net volume in silver is around the 15,000 contract mark. The dollar index is down a hair…not that it matters.That’s all I have for you today…and I’ll see you here on Friday…or Saturday if you live just west of the International Date Line.
Sanctuary of Hope Church in Tuscaloosa hosted its annual Health and Wellness Fair on Saturday to emphasize the importance of living a robust life.People who attended the event were able to get free dental and diabetic screenings as well as HIV testing. Local vendors including the Veteran’s Association, doctor’s offices and insurance companies were on site to provide services to those who may not have access to preventative health care.Church Administrator Anita Foster says a statewide anti-bullying app was also demonstrated during the event.“A lady from West Alabama, Livingston, Alabama, developed that app and like I said, it is approved by the state board of education,” Foster said. “It’s a great app because bullying has gotten to be a great issue not only in the state of Alabama but throughout the united states and we want to help save not only children lives but adult lives as well.”Eleven counties from across the state are already using the app.
The Trump administration is proposing a major shake-up in one of the country’s most important “safety net” programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Under the proposal, most SNAP recipients would lose much of their ability to choose the food they buy with their SNAP benefits.The proposal is included in the Trump administration budget request for fiscal year 2019. It would require approval from Congress.Under the proposal, which was announced Monday, low-income Americans who receive at least $90 a month — just over 80 percent of all SNAP recipients — would get about half of their benefits in the form of a “USDA Foods package.” The package was described in the budget as consisting of “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables.” The boxes would not include fresh fruits or vegetables.Currently, SNAP beneficiaries get money loaded onto an EBT card they can use to buy what they want as long as it falls under the guidelines. The administration says the move is a “cost-effective approach” with “no loss in food benefits to participants.”The USDA believes that state governments will be able to deliver this food at much less cost than SNAP recipients currently pay for food at retail stores — thus reducing the overall cost of the SNAP program by $129 billion over the next 10 years.This and other changes in the SNAP program, according to the Trump administration, will reduce the SNAP budget by $213 billion over those years — cutting the program by almost 30 percent.Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a hunger advocacy group that also helps clients access food-assistance services, said the administration’s plan left him baffled. “They have managed to propose nearly the impossible, taking over $200 billion worth of food from low-income Americans while increasing bureaucracy and reducing choices,” Berg says.He says SNAP is efficient because it is a “free market model” that lets recipients shop at stores for their benefits. The Trump administration’s proposal, he said, “is a far more intrusive, Big Government answer. They think a bureaucrat in D.C. is better at picking out what your family needs than you are?”Douglas Greenaway, president of the National WIC Association, echoed that sentiment. “Removing choice from SNAP flies in the face of encouraging personal responsibility,” he said. He says “the budget seems to assume that participating in SNAP is a character flaw.”It isn’t clear how billions of dollars’ worth of food each year would be distributed to millions of SNAP recipients who live all over the country, including dense urban areas and sparsely populated rural regions. The budget says states will have “substantial flexibility in designing the food box delivery system through existing infrastructure, partnerships or commercial/retail delivery services.”Critics of the proposal said distributing that much food presents a logistical nightmare. “Among the problems, it’s going to be costly and take money out of the [SNAP] program from the administrative side. It’s going to stigmatize people when they have to go to certain places to pick up benefits,” says Jim Weill, president of the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center.Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, called the proposal “radical and risky.” The idea that the government could save money by distributing food itself, she said, is “ill-informed at best.”It isn’t clear whether the boxes will come with directions on how to cook the foods inside. “It could be something that [SNAP recipients] don’t even know how to make,” notes Miguelina Diaz, whose team at Hunger Free America works directly with families to help them access food aid. “We deal with different people of different backgrounds. Limiting them by providing them a staple box would limit the choices of food they can prepare for their families.”According to Dean, from CBPP, the Trump administration wants to trim an additional $80 billion from the SNAP program by cutting off about 4 million people who currently receive food assistance. Most of them live in states that have decided to loosen the program’s eligibility requirements slightly. Under the administration’s proposal, states would no longer be able to do so.Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in early December that he wanted states to have more flexibility in doling out SNAP, announcing the agency wanted to hear about programs from states that don’t increase the cost of the program and will combat what he said is fraud and waste. At the National Grocers Association conference over the weekend, Perdue said the budget has “common-sense reforms that call for greater consistency across nutritional programs.”Nutrition programs, including SNAP, made up about 80 percent of the USDA’s budget in the most recent farm bill, making it the largest portion of agency spending. About 44 million people participated in SNAP each month in 2016, at an annual cost of $70.9 billion. Nearly two-thirds were under 18, over 60 or disabled, according to the USDA.Congress largely ignored Trump’s proposed budget for SNAP last year, when he wanted to cut the funding by a quarter. This time, it’s a farm bill year, meaning many budgetary decisions will be made among the House and Senate agriculture committees.Several critics we spoke with expressed skepticism that the proposed SNAP changes would pass in Congress. Even so, Weill says, “Whenever you see proposals like this that attack [SNAP] … it harms the program even if it doesn’t pass, in the long term reducing support for the program and stigmatizing people who use it.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.