A business advocacy group listed the Columbia River Crossing among the state’s top infrastructure needs in a report released today. The Association of Washington Business, or AWB, issued its report on transportation infrastructure in Washington as part of its legislative day in Olympia. The AWB focused on funding, regulation, environmental mitigation and other factors as they relate to business and commerce. In addition to the CRC, the report identified projects on state Highway 520 in Seattle, state Highway 167 in King and Pierce counties, and the North South Freeway in Spokane, as “critical to business growth.”The $3.5 billion CRC would replace the Interstate 5 Bridge connecting Vancouver and Portland, extend light rail into Vancouver and rebuild the freeway on both sides of the river.
Local responders in Shishmaref are working to absorb the oily sheen discovered off the island’s north coast last week. The source of the substance remains unknown.Download AudioRichard Kuzuguk is with the Shishmaref Environmental Program. He said a gasoline-like odor from the sheen can be smelt throughout the community.“You can smell the odor from the Native Store to the other store, which is three-quarters of the village’s length as far as houses,” said Kuzuguk.Last Thursday June 5, 2014 Shishmaref’s Village Public Safety Officer Barret Eningowak reported “a sheen on the nearshore icepack” to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. The next day a team from the DEC, the Coast Guard, and Spill Response Coordinator Emerald Alaska arrived on the island to investigate.Paul Lhotka is an Environmental Program Specialist with the DEC and said the sheen “looked to us to be some type of weathered petroleum product, such as a gasoline or a diesel.”Contaminated nearshore sea ice. (Photo courtesy Barret Eningowak, DEC)Lhotka said no source has been identified and no volume estimation of the product has been calculated. However, a situation report estimates the sheen covers a 1,200 foot area of near-shore ice.Closeup of absorbent pad collecting product. (Photo courtesy Barret Eningowak, DEC)U.S. Coast Guard Chief Eric Vogel with the Incident Management Division at Sector Anchorage said this ice is hindering clean-up efforts. Local responders are maintaining an absorbency boom and pads along the coast of the affected area to soak up and confine the substance. But with the ice in break up, responders cannot venture more than five feet offshore by foot or skiff to absorb the product.“Responders are unable to work out on the ice,” Vogel explained, “so most of the recovery operations are from shore—the absorbent boom and pads that are anchored to the shore with rebar and passively collecting this emulsified oil.”DEC’s Lhotka said the ice is thawing at a rapid rate and should be melted in a few days. Both Lhotka and Kuzuguk said “no known wildlife impacts” have resulted from the sheen.Samples of the oily substance are being shipped to the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab in Connecticut. They are being compared to petroleum samples from the Shishmaref tank farm.The Coast Guard personnel are returning to Shishmaref this Friday June 13, 2014 to continue their investigation.
X Share To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: 00:00 /00:51 Listen Diane Trautman campaignDiane Trautman is Harris County’s Clerk elect.This week, Harris County voters chose a new official to oversee future elections. Democrat Diane Trautman defeated incumbent Republican Stan Stanart in his bid for a third term as Harris County clerk.Trautman has been a vocal opponent of Texas’ voter ID law. While a county clerk can’t change the law, she can implement it in a way that makes it easier to vote.“One of the things I’m sure she’ll be looking at is ways to speed up the check in, where there are people who don’t have traditional driver’s licenses to be scanned and bring in other pieces of identification that are perfectly legitimate,” says Bob Stein, a professor of political science at Rice University.One of Trautman’s proposals is to set up county election centers. Voters would be able to vote at any location, not only during early voting, but also on Election Day.Stein says unless Trautman can speed up the lines soon, the problem will only get worse. That’s because Texas is eliminating straight-ticket voting in 2020.
But every legal action failed as weeks passed.In Houston, Isabel’s kids missed their dad as she tried to comfort them.“When my son woke up in the morning he was asking, ‘Dad didn’t give me a kiss… Where is Daddy because he didn’t give me kiss?” Isabel said. “Remembering those words from him, that breaks my heart.” Elvin was transferred to detention centers in San Antonio, Wisconsin and Illinois, which isn’t uncommon. In jail, he said there was a two-day delay whenever he asked for pain reliever. He said he spent a lot of time hungry, too, but the worst pain was psychological. “I spent day and night crying,” Elvin said. Locked away in a tiny cell in an Illinois county jail, his mind was racing. At this point, several weeks had passed, and he was still facing deportation. “It’s all over,” he said he would say to himself. “What am I going to do now? They’re going to send me to my country. My kids are going to stay here. Who is going to help them?”A rare case?In some ways, Elvin’s case is unique.Julie Pasch, an attorney with the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, said that she’s never seen anybody with his background be erroneously put in expedited removal proceedings. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening, she said.“What’s concerning me is that if this is happening to him, how many other people is it happening to [who] didn’t have access to an attorney, who didn’t have the chance to push back?” U.S. Department of Homeland Security data compiled by the American Immigration CouncilThe use of expedited removal has grown since it was first created in 1996.Pasch also said that she frequently sees errors in immigration documents coming from the border zone.“Finding either outright falsifications or errors — and often time it’s difficult to tell which — on documents prepared by Customs and Border Protection is extremely common,” Pasch said. She said that she’s seen a high percentage of clients with errors on their documents. For example, she often talks with clients with paperwork that says they were coming to the U.S. to work, when the client says they actually left out of fear for their lives. Asylum laws protect people with fears of returning to their home countries because of violence. Economic strife is not protected, so having incorrect documentation could impact the outcome of someone’s asylum claim. Pasch also said it’s important to consider that the border zone is a special place where immigration officials have more powers.“There is so little protection built into the system, particularly for expedited removal, which happens within 100 miles of the border. The American Civil Liberties Union has termed that the ‘constitution-free zone’ and I think this case really demonstrates that,” said Pasch. Expedited removal was rolled out in 1997 to speed up the processing of undocumented migrants found at the border. Its use has since expanded to apply to any undocumented person found within the 100-mile border zone who entered the country within 14 days. In 2017, expedited removal was used to deport over 103,000 migrants, according to Department of Homeland Security data.It looked like Elvin would be another one of the thousands deported through expedited removal.National Immigrant Justice CenterAfter being released from detention, Elvin (center) stands with National Immigrant Justice Center lawyers (left to right), Guadalupe Perez, Hannah Cartwright, Hena Mansori and Chuck Roth.One last shotIn Houston, Isabel had gone through all their savings, and she couldn’t make rent. Now midway through her pregnancy, she was rejected when she asked for work. With no income and now no savings, they had to abandon most of their furniture and belongings and quickly move away from Houston. “I know it’s something material, but it’s something that we work a lot to get,” Isabel said. “I cried when I saw all my things outside of the house.”Their only option was to move in with Isabel’s family in Tucson, Arizona.All was lost, they thought.Courtesy of ElvinElvin reunites with wife and kids at a bus station in Tucson after he is released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention.Then some lawyers from the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center filed a special motion after learning about Elvin’s case. Days before his flight to Honduras, they showed a federal judge proof Elvin had been living here: his marriage certificate, tax returns, a credit card statement and other documents.The judge cancelled his deportation.“I was really really happy that I screamed,” Isabel said. Nearly two months had passed, but Elvin was released mid-February. He took a bus to Arizona to their family’s new temporary home. Isabel took her kids to the bus terminal without saying they would be reunited with her dad. “I saw the bus when it parked in the parking lot and I said, ‘Stand up to see if there’s someone familiar to you,’” she said. Her two kids finally recognized Elvin and ran towards their dad to hug him. They may have lost their home, but they didn’t lose their family. Courtesy of ElvinElvin embraces his two kids after being in immigrant detention for two months.Isabel was expecting her third child with her husband Elvin when their lives unexpectedly started to unravel. Elvin, a welder living in Houston, went to Laredo last December to scout out a job opportunity. On his way back home, his bus stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint. These checkpoints within the 100-mile zone of the border allow for immigration authorities to question anybody about their legal status, even though they’re not at a port of entry. Immigration officials detained Elvin, who’s undocumented and from Honduras.They took him to what’s referred to in Spanish as a hielera or “icebox”, a Customs and Border Protection holding facility.“They put you in a extremely cold room,” said Elvin in Spanish.Elvin said officers questioned him for hours. He refused to talk at first, since he didn’t have a lawyer with him. Officials came forward with paperwork and a photo of another Honduran man with his same name who had already been deported, according to Elvin. He said that wasn’t him — they were wrong. Then, border agents came to Elvin with other questions, like if he drove an Infiniti and had a pending immigration petition.Elvin said, yes, that was him. He did have an petition.“I’ve never been deported,” said Elvin. “I’ve lived in this country since 2007.” But in documents shared with Houston Public Media, Border Patrol agents wrote down that Elvin said he crossed the river into the U.S. near Laredo five days prior, on December 15, 2018. Courtesy of ElvinIsabel, two months pregnant, with her husband Elvin and their two kids.People who have crossed the border within 14 days can be ordered deported through what’s called “expedited removal.”That specific timing is crucial in the world of immigration enforcement.It’s a way to speed up the deportation of people who have recently entered by taking away their right to appeal their deportation. But Elvin hadn’t recently crossed the border, so he shouldn’t have been eligible for expedited removal, according to federal immigration rules. And Elvin had a strong case for staying legally in the United States and the right to plead his case before a judge: he has two citizen children, his wife is protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and his father is a U.S. citizen. As he discussed with border officers, Elvin already had a petition pending to gain legal status. Houston Public Media reached out to Customs and Border Protection for comment and they have not responded. After refusing to sign any papers, Elvin was locked away and sent to a detention center in San Antonio. Back in Houston, Isabel didn’t hear from him for five days until she finally received a call from him: her husband was in trouble. Using their family savings, Isabel spent thousands on an immigration lawyer.Battling pregnancy symptoms like dizziness and nausea, Isabel rushed around town to get papers to prove her husband had been living in Houston. “I [felt] dizzy and I still had to drive to go see the lawyer. It happened twice I had to stop in the middle of the freeway,” said Isabel. X Share To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Listen 00:00 /04:02
Kolkata: The body of a missing rickshaw-puller was found from roadside swamp at Polenite in Salt Lake Sector V on Monday afternoon.Some local residents saw the body on the bank of the swamp and informed the Electronics Complex police station. According to sources, the person identified as Uttam Ghosh (37), a resident of Barokopat area in Polenite was missing since Friday. His father Biswanath lodged a missing complaint at the police station on Saturday. During investigation sleuths could not find any clues to trace Uttam’s location. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseOn Monday, some residents sense a foul smell and tried to find its source. When they went to the swamp they saw Uttam’s body but could not recognise as the bode was in a decomposed state. Later Biswanath identified the body at the Bidhannagar Sub-Divisional Hospital. Police said that Uttam was a habitual drinker. Sources informed earlier in several occasions he was found lying on the road in heavily drunk condition. Though police are probing the case from all possible angles but during preliminary investigation no foul play could be noticed. No injury marks were visible when the body was recovered. Sleuths are waiting for the autopsy report to ascertain the cause of death.
Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wiseman Air New Zealand has today announced plans to take delivery of two additional Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.These two additional aircraft are expected to be delivered in late 2017 and the latter half of 2018 respectively and will take the total number of Dreamliners in the fleet to 12.Air New Zealand chief executive officer Christopher Luxon announced the fleet investment at an event in Sydney this week.“This investment is possible as a result of our strong commercial results. As the airline’s commercial performance continues to improve, we are focussed on reinvesting our profits directly back into the business on products, services and fleet to further enhance the customer experience and to ensure the business remains strong and competitive,” Mr Luxon said.“Air New Zealand is very committed to the Boeing 787-9. The aircraft is a key component in our growth strategy. These new aircraft will provide us with additional flexibility as we move forward with our growth plans.”Earlier this year Air New Zealand became the first airline in the world to take delivery of the Boeing 787-9 and the airline first operated the aircraft to Sydney followed by scheduled services to Perth, Shanghai and most recently Tokyo.“The entry into service programme has gone very smoothly and we’ve been incredibly pleased with the aircraft’s performance. Feedback from customers has also been very positive with many commenting on the cabin fit out, our new inflight product and entertainment system,” Mr Luxon said.The aircraft is a game-changer for the airline with increased levels of fuel efficiency and passenger comfort through a raft of on board technologies.
Real Journeys, a privately owned tourism business with operations from Queenstown to Stewart Island, has announced a new convention and events centre to be built near Queenstown by 2020.The convention centre is the second stage of a NZ$20 million development at Walter Peak High Country Farm, which will also include a restaurant, in a restored heritage building seating up to 150 people.“It’s such a stunning natural alpine environment at Walter Peak that our event facility will probably be more of a retreat,” said Real Journeys director of product development, Matthew Day.He said the venue would be a combination of heritage and architectural buildings set in cottage gardens, with lake and mountain views.A large new amphitheatre, seating up to 400 people, is part of the first stage of the development, to be built in time for next season’s Walter Peak Farm tour demonstrations.“We know people work better in a beautiful environment so we wanted something away from the hustle bustle where they can unplug, reflect and totally focus on the event,” said Day.Real Journeys has also added a new fleet of transportation at Walter Peak: the Ubco electric trail bike.Designed in New Zealand, the dual electric-drive trail bike has a lightweight frame and powerful near-silent motor in each wheel that provide complete control for an off-road adventure at Walter Peak.
The primary school in Episkopi, Limassol will remain closed on Monday after a decision was taken by the parents and village authority.Building works continue at the school for the third year and parents say the place is dangerous for the children.The parents have branded the school a ‘minefield’ as in addition to it resembling a building site, they say there are problems with the electrics.According to the Cyprus News Agency, president of the parents association Andreas Ktorou said on Thursday last week two teachers narrowly missed an electric shock. “Technicians have not yet found the cause of the problem,” he said.At a meeting on Friday of the 550 parents of the school, which has 293 students, it was decided that they would not allow anyone to enter the school on Monday until they had received written confirmation that the electrical system was not a danger and a written timeframe for the ongoing building works.The parents said the minister of education visited the school in May and promised that the second phase of the building works would be finished before the start of the school year. But a new date for completion has now been given as October 7.“I am not a civil engineer but I think that October 7 is not a feasible date looking at the current state of the works,” Ktorou said.Members of the parents association will on Monday stand outside the school from 7am to 9am to prevent it from operating.You May LikeSUVs | Search AdsHave You Seen These New 2019 Crossover SUV’s?SUVs | Search AdsUndoMental FlareThese Owners Caught Their Dogs Sleeping In The Weirdest Places ImaginableMental FlareUndoNewsXoXo6 Reasons of Heart Arteries Start Clogging You Never Knew!NewsXoXoUndo Widowers threaten legal action over pensionsUndoFilms and food at RialtoUndoFilm review: Child’s Play ***Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Categories: News 29Jan Rep. Poleski encourages all residents to participate in Flint bottled water drive State Rep. Earl Poleski, R-Jackson, has teamed up with Absopure and Polly’s Country Market to collect 1,500 cases of water to be donated to Flint.Absopure will match all water donation purchases at all Polly’s Grocery locations made Friday, Feb. 5 through Sunday, Feb. 7.“We have great water in Jackson, and we want to share it with Flint,” said Rep. Poleski. “We are all together one Michigan. I’m glad we were able to team up within the Jackson community to help in this time of need.”Absopure says they will match all donations made up to 1,500 cases, which is equivalent to one truckload.To learn more about the drive, contact Rep. Poleski’s office at 517-373-1795 or by email at EarlPoleski@house.mi.gov.###
Categories: Vaupel News State Rep. Hank Vaupel, of Handy Township, today praised his colleagues in the Michigan House of Representatives for approving legislation he sponsored to remove political party icons from the ballot.Vaupel said vignettes are small icons representing political parties first added to the ballot in the 1890s, but ballots have changed drastically since then.“Vignettes no longer serve as an aid to voters,” Vaupel said. “In fact, the outdated practice has had the opposite effect for some people who think circling the icon is all they have to do to cast a straight-ticket vote. If they circle the vignette without marking the bubble next to their intended party, their vote does not count, and I want to ensure that every vote counts.”Livingston County Clerk Elizabeth Hundley worked with Vaupel on the legislation and recently joined him to testify before the Elections and Ethics Committee.House Bill 4177 moves to the Senate for consideration.### 27Apr Vaupel’s bill removing vignettes from ballot gains House approval
Categories: Theis News 25Jan Theis votes to approve bills giving families and seniors tax relief State Rep. Lana Theis of Brighton joined her colleagues in the Michigan House today in approving legislation giving Michigan families and seniors broader income tax relief.The legislation continues and increases personal exemptions for Michigan taxpayers and their dependents on their state income taxes. Other bills in the package provide additional tax relief for senior citizens.“Any tax relief is great for Michigan’s economy,” Theis said. “This legislation will allow taxpayers from all industries – first responders, teachers, office workers and factory workers – to spend their hard-earned money where they want it spent. Providing a tax credit on top of the personal exemption increase for our senior filers is important and well-deserved.”One of the bills ensures Michigan taxpayers will be able to continue claiming personal exemptions on their income taxes after federal tax reforms signed into law last month. In addition, the legislation increases the state personal exemption from the current $4,000 to $4,800 by the 2020 tax year.Another measure provides a tax credit for those 62 and older — $100 for single filers and $200 for joint filers – in addition to the personal exemption increase. A third bill would allow taxpayers in Michigan cities with an income tax to continue to claim exemptions.The House specifically added a provision to make sure public school funding is not affected by the proposal.House Bills 5420-22 advance to the Senate for consideration.
19Jul Rep. Hornberger: Straits must be protected Legislator backs plan to bolster Great Lakes safety standards Categories: Hornberger News,News State Rep. Pamela Hornberger recently signed on to a legislative plan to help protect the Straits of Mackinac from environmental disasters by strengthening safety standards.Rep. Hornberger, of Chesterfield Township, said an April incident involving a tug boat dragging an anchor across the bottom of the Straits demonstrated the need for additional safety measures.“The April incident involved the release of 600 gallons of pollutants into the Straits.” Rep. Hornberger said. “If oil and gas pipelines running beneath the Straits had ruptured, we would have an environmental disaster on our hands. It is estimated up to 56,000 barrels of crude oil would be released into the Straits, impacting more than 400 miles of shoreline in Michigan, Wisconsin and Canada. The clean-up cost is estimated at almost $2 billion.”The “Straits of Mackinac Safety, Protection and Accountability” plan:Improves reporting from pipeline operators to the state of Michigan;Increases the safety and security of underwater utility lines and pipes that provide communities in northern Michigan with access to phone, cable, natural gas, oil and electricity;Provides additional signs and buoys alerting ships not to use anchors in the Straits;Establishes penalties for vessels that violate maritime laws and jeopardize the safety of our waterways; andProvides added accountability and increases penalties for those responsible for negligence or criminal damage to public utilities.“I support this plan to protect our natural resources and make those who use the Straits accountable to the people of Michigan,” Rep. Hornberger said. “It’s imperative that we preserve the beauty and integrity of the Great Lakes for generations to come.”The plan laid out in House Bills 6187, 6199, 6200 and 6201 is now under consideration in the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee.#####
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares January 7, 2015; ReutersThe International Red Cross initiated an anti-smoking component to its global disease prevention campaign in 2008 and, in doing so, stopped taking donations from tobacco companies. That isn’t the case with the American Red Cross (or the Red Cross affiliates in Russia and Germany). Jilian Mincer reports for Reuters that the American Red Cross has accepted at least $12 million since 2001 from tobacco companies, including the Altria Group, Reynolds American, and Philip Morris International.Specific numbers on tobacco company contributions to the ARC aren’t available—in part because the ARC’s 990s are not required to report on the sources of its donations, in part because a significant part of corporate philanthropy occurs directly through undisclosed company donations as opposed to disclosed donations through corporate foundations, and in part because Mincer reported that Red Cross spokesperson Laura Howe would not provide details of the tobacco contributions the ARC received.This contretemps is a very clear example of the problems of some kinds of corporate philanthropy. The American Red Cross defends its use of tobacco money with the argument that any contributions, tobacco or otherwise, that help the Red Cross with its disaster relief functions are welcome and worthwhile. In contrast, last month the Public Health Law Center, Action on Smoking & Health, and other U.S. health advocacy organizations wrote a pointed letter to ARC President Gail McGovern calling for a change in the ARC’s tobacco money policies:“The Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement is respected around the world for protecting life, health and human dignity. […] To lend its enormous credibility, connection and influence to an industry that sells and promotes a product that kills 6 million people a year is a serious violation of the most basic principles of public health.”All too many corporations buy their way into the public’s good graces through philanthropic giving, and many nonprofits are quite willing for financial reasons to let that happen. It would seem that ARC has the fundraising mindset that the source of a nonprofit’s money is of no consequence so long as the nonprofit puts the money to good use. But in the case of the Red Cross, tobacco money compromises the organization’s credibility. If the Red Cross were only about disaster relief and not health, then maybe (and only maybe) it could make the argument that Howe makes about the importance of raising money for that purpose, even if the money came from tobacco companies. But the “what we do” page of the American Red Cross website identifies five categories of programs, one of the five being “Health and Safety Training and Education.”One would think that the Red Cross had advanced considerably since World War I, when its famous “Red Cross parcels” sent to American troops in Europe contained packets of tobacco, and since World War II when they included packages of cigarettes. Public knowledge of the dangers of tobacco today would probably preclude even the tobacco-funded ARC from sending cigarettes to troops in Iraq or Afghanistan.The ARC’s own guidelines for fundraising partnerships with businesses explicitly state that any “proposed promotion must not…encourage the direct sale and/or promotion of firearms, alcohol and/or tobacco.” Is the ARC’s acceptance of tobacco money allowable because someone might be able to argue that that that isn’t the same as “promoting” the use of tobacco? For the purposes of the tobacco industry, always interested in burnishing its image and reputation given the unchallengeable health dangers of tobacco use, the willingness of the ARC to accept tobacco company donations and the PR the companies get from associating with the Red Cross does approximate promotion—and implies that the Red Cross does not object to philanthropy based on products that cause cancer and kill millions of smokers and non-smokers.The American Red Cross is a brand name itself, though recently tarnished as a result of ProPublica’s investigative pieces on the ARC’s alleged misrepresentation of cost allocations and expenditures and its performance regarding Superstorm Sandy relief efforts. Still, for most Americans who aren’t tracking stories about nonprofits, the Red Cross is still widely respected and trusted. Consequently, the ARC has a bigger responsibility than most other nonprofits when it comes to the messages its policies and actions imply. People look to the ARC, a health-related organization, and see its willingness to do business with big tobacco as a statement running counter to the many organizations that are divesting from tobacco stocks because of the societal costs and damage they cause.What does it mean to efforts such as the tobacco-free campuses campaign—1,477 college campuses and 3,822 hospitals are entirely tobacco-free—to find the ARC giving tobacco a pass? What does it mean to efforts to get colleges and universities to join the 33 institutions of higher education, including Harvard University and the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of California-Berkeley and its School of Public Health, Emory University Medical School, the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, and the Ohio State University School of Public Health, that have divested from tobacco stocks? Does it matter to the ARC that such major foundations as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, and even the Rockefeller Foundation have divested from tobacco?Jesse Bragg, the media director of Corporate Accountability International, one of the organizations that signed the letter to the ARC, told NPQ that he believes that the Red Cross has “an opportunity here to set the precedent for other health-oriented nonprofits…especially because [the tobacco money] is such a small part of what they raise every year.” With over $3.4 billion in total revenues in 2013, ranking it sixth on the NPT Top 100 list, the American Red Cross could disgorge itself of tobacco money without much or any financial consequences. It is hardly a nonprofit “usually strapped for cash” “no matter what size…[it] is,” the explanation offered by one commentator as to why the ARC might solicit tobacco money.“Why associate with an industry that kills six million people a year?” Bragg asks. That is exactly the right question for the American Red Cross.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares txking / Shutterstock.comFebruary 9, 2015; PBSMary Agnes Carey reports for Kaiser Health News and the PBS NewsHour that getting Latinos to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act has been difficult. Carey writes that Hispanics constitute roughly a third of the nation’s uninsured, but in the second open enrollment period so far, only about 10 percent of the enrollees are Latino—better than last year’s seven percent, but still not at the level that is needed. Moreover, a third of the ACA media budget this year aimed at reaching out through Hispanic media, up from 10 percent in the first year, but the sign-ups do not appear to match the expenditure.The states with the best success in signing up Latinos are those that have expanded their Medicaid coverage, but that leaves out some states, such as Texas, with large numbers of Latinos but a steadfast governmental resistance to the Medicaid option. HHS indicates that if all of the states expanded their Medicaid eligibility, 95 percent of Latinos could be eligible for coverage. Only about half of the states have expanded Medicaid eligibility to date.In the absence of universal expanded Medicaid eligibility, what seems to have worked best in reaching Latinos is the in-person assistance delivered by “navigators,” typically people at nonprofits who explain the insurance offerings on the health insurance exchanges. They don’t recommend one plan over another, but they provide an invaluable assistance to previously uninsured people struggling to understand premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. However, as Carey describes, in-person assistance doesn’t necessarily result in fast enrollments:“Providing in-person assistance, however, takes time. A session can easily run 90 minutes to two hours, and several meetings are often needed to explain how insurance works and what the various options are. Even though applicants may qualify for the law’s tax credits, many will have to still pay a premium each month. And people who have been doing without health insurance might not feel the need to pay for it.”The other significant obstacle Carey identifies is “the widespread fear in the Latino community that those who are eligible for coverage might endanger others in their family who are undocumented. That concern persists even though President Barack Obama and other administration officials have said repeatedly that no information on a health law application will be used for deportation purposes.” According to Alicia Wilson, the executive director of La Clinica del Pueblo in Washington, D.C., despite the government’s assurances, people are still afraid. “You don’t want to be the family member that because you signed up for coverage you’re getting your grandmother, your uncle or your parent deported,” adds Anthony Wright, executive director of the group Health Access California, a health care consumer group. Complicating matters are “mixed immigration status families,” with some family members in the U.S. legally but not eligible for the ACA, and other families with children born in the U.S. but with parents here without documentation.The complexity of the ACA process, the special challenges of documentation and paperwork required of immigrants, and the different openness of the states to Latino customers makes the challenge of the ACA for Latinos a special challenge for the Obama administration.—Rick Cohen ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Ukrainian cable operator Volia has announce that it now has over half a million internet customers.The country’s leading cable operator said it is also approaching 400,000 subscribers taking both internet and TV services. The company is undertaking a UAH300 million (€30 million) investment in its network this year. It currently offers digital TV services in 15 cities and HD channels in 12 cities.
Canal Plus’s CanalPlay Infinity subscription on-demand service is now available on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 platform. The move means that subscribers to the Xbox Live Gold on-demand offering can access thousands of CanalPlay titles delivered via Microsoft Smooth Streaming.Canal Plus already offers a number of other services on the Xbox 360 platform following its partnership with Microsoft in 2009, including all Canal Plus channels and on-demand services, about 100 CanalSat channels and the CanalPlay VOD offering.There are about three million XBox 360 users in France. CanalPlay Infinity costs €9.99 a month.
Benoît Loutrel is to replace Philippe Distler as director-general of French telecom regulator ARCEP in March.Loutrel was deputy director-general of ARCEP until 2010, when he left to head a programme to fund the development of the digital economy.He was named as the new director-general by ARCEP president Jean-Ludovic Silicani. Distler has been named a member of the regulator’s college. ARCEP deputy director-general François Lions, will take interim charge ahead of Loutrel taking up his post.
The UK Advertising Standards Authority has upheld in part a complaint by Virgin Media about an advertising campaign by public broadcaster-backed connected TV service YouView that claimed its services was “unique” and the “easiest way to watch catch-up TV on your TV”.The ASA received complaints from both Virgin Media and BSkyB about the campaign, encompassing a TV and, two press ads and a poster. The authority accepted that the use of the words “unique” and “easiest” were misleading but rejected an additional complaint from Virgin Media that a claim that the service was “subscription free” on the grounds that YouView users would need to subscribe to a broadband service.The ASA said that the ads had included text referencing the need for a broadband connection. It also rejected a complaint from Virgin Media and Sky that YouView’s claim to offer “over 70 digital channels including HD” was misleading and a complaint from Sky that the tagline “Record your favourite shows in HD” misleadingly exaggerated the availability of HD channels on the platform.
Multiplatform TV search and recommendation firm ThinkAnalytics said it had a “record-breaking financial year” for the 12 months ending June 30 after almost doubling its subscriber base from 70 to 130 million licenses.The firm also said it expanded its customer portfolio to 52 operators worldwide, introduced support for five new languages bringing the total supported to 17, and recorded 100% growth in both revenues and profits.“We think our growth is proving that as recommendations solutions get more and more sophisticated, the value of bringing ten years of real field deployment is very important to our customers as they continue to build the best proven solution for their customers and marketing objectives,” said Eddie Young, Chairman ThinkAnalytics.Peter Docherty, founder and chief technology officer, ThinkAnalytics, added: “We see a significant lift in VOD and live TV viewership after our recommendations platform is deployed. Our service provider customers are given a great deal of flexibility in how the recommendations interface with their customers, 50 percent lift is not unusual, with some operators seeing even higher returns.”ThinkAnalytics offers its recommendations engine as both a traditional, on-premise solution and as a cloud-based service. Its customrrs include Liberty Global, Cox Communications, BSkyB and Virgin Media.
AMC Networks has reached an agreement to buy Liberty Global-owned channel operator Chellomedia for €750 million.The deal hands US-based AMC an extensive array of channels that are distributed to nearly 400 million homes in 138 territories.Chellomedia is the international content arm of John Malone’s Liberty Global, while AMC has emerged a leading cable channels provider and content producer in the US and has been expanding its international operations through its AMC/Sundance Channel Global division.This means networks such as Canal Hollywood, MGM, Film Café, Buzz Horror Channel, Extreme Sports Minimax, Historia and Outdoor will all sit along side AMC, WE tv, IFC and Sundance Channel in the AMC Networks stable. Chellomedia’s stakes in its joint ventures with CBS Studios International, A+E Networks, Zon Optimus and other partners are also included.However, Liberty will keep its Dutch premium channels business, which comprises the Film1 and Sport1 channels.The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014 and subject to unspecified limited closing conditions. It is now subject regulatory approval.Liberty Global said the assets it is selling generated revenue of around €350 million in the 12 months to June 30.Liberty president and CEO Mike Fries called the deal “great” for both parties and added: “For Liberty Global, this transaction is attractive from both a valuation and liquidity perspective. It also simplifies our business and allows us to focus on our core markets and more strategic programming opportunities.”“Chellomedia has developed a remarkable portfolio of popular channels that reach hundreds of millions around the world,” said Josh Sapan, president and CEO of AMC Networks. “As AMC Networks has expanded internationally, we have had a great desire to do something we consider fundamentally strategic, which is to take our content and put it on channels we own.“This acquisition allows us to secure a large, global platform on which to distribute our increasingly successful original programming through a collection of strong, well-established and well-managed assets worldwide.”Chellomedia President Niall Curran added: “AMC Networks are content professionals with an excellent creative and business track record. They are highly enthusiastic about the business we have built at Chellomedia and are ambitious to develop it further, making AMC Networks a great owner and partner for Chello’s next phase of growth.”Morgan Stanley acted as financial advisor to Liberty, while Guggenheim Securities acted as lead financier for AMC. Merrill Lynch will provide debt financing for the deal as served as an advisor on the agreement.