If you don’t know Yoon Eun Hye than you’ve been living under a rock or somewhere other than Asia. Or so I was told when my Korean guide asked me how familiar I was with the series, ‘The First Shop of the Coffee Prince’.One of Korea’s most popular comic-book-come-TV-dramas, ‘The First Shop of the Coffee Prince’ is broadcast in 12 other countries and exported to millions via the internet.Yoon Eun Hye is the star of the series, dressing as boy to get a job in a coffee shop and, like in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, her love interest struggles with his sexuality – or so I was told (again).In a bus full of Malaysians and Thais all well-versed in the plotlines of various Korean dramas, I was clearly the odd one out.“Don’t worry, they even know more than me,” my guide assured.“Often my travellers have seen episodes of the dramas before I have and they are always more aware of the latest gossip about the stars,” she said.The Korean popular culture movement sweeping through most of Asia and even in pockets of South America and Africa is often referred to at Hallyu (Korean Wave) or K-pop.And it’s taking over the world.According to the Global Post, Thais are exposed to about 100 minutes of Korean soap operas daily and travel to Korea from Thailand has more than doubled in the last ten years, after K-pop fever neared a zenith point in 2006.My Malaysian counterparts were hit up with orders to buy the latest K-pop music while the Singaporeans on tour were quick to vouch for the awesome artists Korea produces.Colored Rhythms sales and marketing director Stephanie Loh told me that K-pop themed club parties in Singapore have sold out.“Our last event had 800 people in attendance, and for our next one we’re looking to bring over a Korean artist especially for the event,” she said.Visitors on the trail of their favourite K-pop icons need only hop onto the Korean Tourism Organisation’s (KTO) website, where sandwiched between the Shopping and Culture tabs, Hallyu sits comfortably.In fact, the site even tells visitors where to go to recreate special shot for shot moments.On KTO’s recommendation, I went to Shilla Millenium Park in Gyeongju, a theme park purpose-built for TV series Queen Seondeok of Silla.Open for public viewing, the park features the Silla’s nobleman village, a royal palace, and horse/martial arts shows.And while not ‘authentic’, the site’s beauty amongst the changing hues of an autumn sunset make me think that ‘authentic’ is a concept best left to universities, while I’ll get on with the real living of a gorgeous evening in Korea – K-pop included. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A
New York, N.Y. – Halcyon Jets, a premiere broker of private jet charter services, announced it will participate, together with Diva Limousine, Ltd., in the 2008 National Business Travel Association (NBTA) International Convention & Exposition at booth #448 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on July 27 – 30.“Halcyon Jets is honored to exhibit its extensive line of high-end luxury services along with Diva Limousine at this premier event in the corporate travel industry,” said Andrew Drykerman, Executive Vice President of Halcyon Jets. “There is an unwavering demand for business travel in today’s world, and Halcyon Jets has a unique understanding of how to cater to that demand for its clientele.”Halcyon Jets arranges luxury private transport by connecting travelers with independently-owned and operated executive aircraft. Halcyon-arranged flights provide customers with convenient, comfortable, luxurious, and safe private jet travel by matching customers’ flight requirements with Part 135 general aviation aircraft operators. Halcyon’s jet brokerage clients have access to an extensive network of private jet charter services for every size of aircraft.“Last year our companies created a strategic alliance with Halcyon Jets that allowed both companies a clear leading-edge in the marketplace as well redefine luxury jet charter and chauffeured ground transportation service,” said Bijan Zoughi, President and CEO Diva Limousine, Ltd. “Events such as the NBTA, will allow us the opportunity to continue to co-brand both companies as leaders in the luxury travel industry.”The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) is the world’s premier business travel and corporate meetings organization. NBTA and its regional affiliates – NBTA Asia Pacific, NBTA Canada, NBTA Mexico and NBTA USA – serve a network of more than 15,000 business travel professionals around the globe with industry-leading events, networking, education & professional development, research, news & information, and advocacy. NBTA members, numbering more than 4,000 in 30 nations, are corporate and government travel and meetings managers, as well as travel service providers. They collectively manage and direct more than US $200 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually on behalf of more than 10 million business travelers within their organizations. For more information, visit www.nbta.org.For more information, please call 212.616.JETS, go to www.halcyonjets.com, or visit booth #448 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on July 27 – 30.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by The Canadian Press Posted Dec 23, 2018 9:35 am PDT HALIFAX — Hollywood actor Ellen Page is tweeting her opposition to a controversial project that would eventually see natural gas stored in huge underground caverns north of Halifax.Indigenous protesters have set up a permanent camp near the Shubenacadie River to protest Alton Natural Gas LP, which intends to pump salt brine into the waterway after flushing out the caverns.Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation in nearby Indian Brook have argued that the project will hurt the 73-kilometre tidal river, which runs through the middle of Nova Scotia.The Halifax-born Page lambasted the project on Friday, describing it as “a massive risk to the Shubenacadie River,” and asking that her 1.4 million followers support the Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies opposing Alton Gas.In recent weeks the actor has also voiced her opposition to Northern Pulp mill’s plan to build an effluent pipeline into the Northumberland Strait.Earlier this month, Page said Nova Scotia’s government must stop its “corporate welfare.” Ellen Page takes aim at Alton’s controversial underground gas storage plan The Canadian Press
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s favouring of a relaxation in EU decision-making rules based on qualified majorities on matters including further harmonisation of tax rates, is likely to have implications for certain member states including Cyprus.Juncker, who was delivering his State of the EU address at the European Parliament on Wednesday, said that “so-called ‘passerelle clauses’ in the current treaties allow us to move from unanimity to qualified majority voting in certain areas,” provided all heads of state or government give their consent.“I am also strongly in favour of moving to qualified majority voting for decisions on the common consolidated corporate tax base, on value added tax, on fair taxes for the digital industry and on the financial transaction tax,” the former Luxembourgian prime minister, who was addressing the parliament in French and German, said according to the English translation of his speech on the website of the European Commission. “Europe has to be able to act quicker and more decisively”.The harmonisation of the corporate tax rate, already on the agenda of the European Commission since October when it tabled proposals for a common corporate tax base (CCTB) and a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB), is considered anathema in Cyprus, which taxes corporate profits at 12.5 per cent. As one of the lowest rates in the EU, the island regards it as a comparative advantage for the business services sector.Six months ago, the parliamentary energy, commerce, industry and tourism committee dismissed the European Commission’s proposals after consulting stakeholders, including law and accounting firms and the executive branch.Other member states, also expressed reservations about the harmonisation of tax rates in the past, including Luxembourg, Ireland and the UK, which last year decided to leave the EU, thus weakening opposition to CCTB and CCCTB.“The discussions on a common consolidated corporate tax base should serve as a warning for us in order to start planning how to diversify our economy which to a great extent is currently relying on services,” said Andreas Assiotis, Hellenic Bank’s chief economist.The Cypriot economy, the euro area’s second smallest, emerged two years ago from a prolonged recession as traditional key sectors, such as tourism, business and construction saw their output in the years continuously rise following the fiscal and banking crisis. Key reforms agreed with international creditors, including the overhaul of the civil service, privatisations, the modernisation of legislation governing the financial sector and the opening of professions were not partially implemented, if at all.Juncker also advocated in favour of transforming the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) into a “European Monetary Fund” and the office of the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs into that of a European Minister of Economy and Finance.The ESM, established five years ago during the euro crisis –which engulfed five EU members–, to finance bailouts in the euro area together with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The latter supervised the bailouts, including that of Cyprus, jointly with the European Central Bank and the European Commission.A European minister –“ideally also a vice-president” and president of the Eurogroup– promoting and supporting structural reforms in member states “can build on the work the Commission has been doing since 2015 with our structural reform support service,” a body helping EU members design and implement reforms, said Juncker who served as chairman of the Eurogroup, the informal body of the euro area finance ministers until early 2013.“The new minister should coordinate all EU financial instruments that can be deployed when a member state is in a recession or hit by a fundamental crisis”.The Commission will submit concrete proposals about the future of ESM in December, Juncker said and added that “we do not need a budget for the Euro area but a strong Euro area budget line within the EU budget”.Michalis Florentiades, chief economist at the online financial service provider XM.com said in an interview that he is not taking for granted that Juncker’s agenda will be finally implemented. “His job is to present his vision but whether the heads of state and government will ultimately do, that’s another story,” he said.Much may be determined following the German elections scheduled for September, he continued. “The Germans want a European finance minister with lots of powers and small budget but it is the other way around with the French,” who elected a new government and parliament in the second quarter of the year, he said.Still, the focus in the EU will shift to reform following the completion of the election cycle when Italians elect a new parliament before May next year, said Ioannis Tirkides, who heads Bank of Cyprus’s economic research division.“Whilst everybody agrees on the need for reform there is less agreement amongst member countries on the nature of the reforms that are needed,” Tirkides continued. He added that reforms proposed by the president of the Commission and likely to centre on budget risk sharing measures including a common unemployment insurance programme, “will not be easy and negotiations will likely be tense”.The Bank of Cyprus economist added that he considers it certain that the euro area’s north will seek more say over national fiscal policies.“In principle, I am in favour of European integration,” Hellenic Bank’s Assiotis said adding that this process should prevent widening the gap among member states by undermining their competitive advantages.You May LikeDr. Marty ProPower Plus Supplement3 Dangerous Foods People Feed Their Dogs (Without Realizing It)Dr. Marty ProPower Plus SupplementUndoUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementAdd This One Thing To Your Dog’s Food To Help Them Be HealthierUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoOur View: Argaka mukhtar should not act as if he owns the beachUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
By Francesco GuarascioA PROPOSED gas pipeline to link Cyprus to Crete and then Greece or Italy will be in an EU list of strategic projects eligible for financial support, Cypriot officials said yesterday.Cyprus has high hopes its natural gas reserves can be developed quickly to help revive its broken economy.Its priority is to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, but a pipeline could have advantages for Europe. LNG, which can be shipped anywhere in the world, is typically sold to the most lucrative market. A pipeline would guarantee that some gas supplies reached EU consumers.“The European Union will include the East Med Pipeline in the revised list of projects of common interest within the Southern Corridor for gas,” George Shammas, chairman of the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority, said.Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis also said he had information the European Union would include the pipeline, although adding that Cyprus had to study the feasibility of the link.The Southern Corridor is the EU name for routes to ship gas from central Asia, the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean basin to diversify supplies and reduce dependence on Russian gas.The most high-profile non-Russian gas project is one to ship Azeri natural gas from the Shah Deniz field, which has become a contest between the Nabucco West project into Austria, led by OMV and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline into Italy, led by Swiss AXPO and Statoil.An official announcement on the outcome is expected next week, but European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said yesterday, following talks with the Azeri president in Brussels, he was confident both routes could ultimately be realised.Gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field is expected to become available for export from 2017, while Cyprus has said it could be exporting gas from 2020.The European Commission has said Cypriot gas could play an important role in diversifying supplies and in improving room for negotiation with Russia, but its development is complicated by Turkey and the Cyprus issue.Finance is also a problem given Cyprus’ huge debts, and the pipeline would run through very deep waters (almost three kilometres in places), making it technically challenging.A Commission spokeswoman said she could not comment.EU officials have said they expect agreement on a list of EU strategic energy infrastructure projects after the August summer break in Brussels.These projects, judged to benefit more than one EU country, would be eligible for some of a €5.1 billion pot of EU funding under the bloc’s multi-year budget.You May LikeLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoFreedom Debt ReliefPeople In Heavy Debt Are In For A SurpriseFreedom Debt ReliefUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)UndoConcern over falling tourism numbersUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
Categories: McCready News 18Sep Cotter, McCready sponsor package reforming wage garnishment laws Changes offer added protections to employees, employersThe Michigan House today passed a two-bill package to cut bureaucratic red tape involving the state’s wage garnishment laws and strengthen the overall economy, announced state Reps. Kevin Cotter and Mike McCready.House Bills 5390 and 5391 provide comprehensive wage garnishment reform, which will reduce administrative burdens on employers, compensate employers appropriately for administering garnishment and limit the liability of employers.“This legislation is about making sure Michigan’s workers, businesses—small and large alike—and creditors are treated fairly,” said Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant. “I’ve talked to many small business owners, and they’ve told me how quickly they can become liable for another’s debt. It’s taken a lot of work to make this legislation a reality, but it is a common-sense reform we need.”HB 5390, sponsored by Cotter, makes a writ of garnishment of wages, salary, commissions or other earnings valid only if the writ is served on the garnishees in accordance with Michigan court rules.“We want to safeguard employers from wage situations that can escalate extremely quickly,” said McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills. “Any Michigan employer or small business that gets stuck with an employee’s substantial debt will have trouble getting back on its feet. We need to look after our economy’s recovery in big and small ways, so I’m glad to see this preventative legislation is being seriously considered.”HB 5391, sponsored by McCready, makes provisions that if an employer is ordered to pay any part of an employee’s debt, the employer will have the ability to deduct that amount from the employee’s regularly scheduled wage payments.HBs 5390 and 5391 now head to the Senate for consideration.###
Lawmaker looking for solutions in response to landfill violationState Rep. Al Pscholka is researching legislation to better address current issues regarding landfills violating state law. The representative’s review includes reevaluating civil fines for violations of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, which addresses solid waste management practices.“We are looking at possible options, including an update of the fines to guarantee more accountability,” said Rep. Pscholka, R-Stevensville. “Fines serve as a deterrent for violators, but the fines dealing with solid waste management are no longer in line with inflation. Whatever the solution, one thing is clear – there needs to be a little more skin in the game.”Rep. Pscholka has been working for more than three years with the Orchard Hill Sanitary Landfill and nearby citizens to address the landfill’s odor problems. The representative hosted local town halls where officials and leaders discussed the ongoing solutions to the landfill odor issue, and took comments and suggestions from nearly 200 local residents.“The community engagement in the town halls surrounding the Orchard Hill Sanitary Landfill has been remarkable,” said Rep. Pscholka. “Unfortunately, even with the continued work we have done in the community, Orchard Hill has violated the law by not properly covering exposed waste at the end of the work day. We have been dealing with this odor issue for too long, and this has to end now.”The representative said since 2013 there have been 130 complaints from the public concerning the Orchard Hill Sanitary Landfill documented with the DEQ. Of those complaints, 69 were rated a three or higher on an odor scale from one to five. He also noted that due to daily cover issues, the Orchard Hill landfill has voluntarily entered into a consent order with the Department of Environmental Quality to resolve the alleged violation and has agreed to pay a $4,500 settlement.“Inadequate daily cover could be partly responsible for the odor issue if waste is not covered at the end of the day,” said Rep. Pscholka. “Not covering the landfill could also allow debris to blow in the wind.”The settlement was determined based multiple factors, including the extent of deviation from the requirement and potential for harm to the public, environment or the regulatory program. The current maximum civil fine for first-time offenders is $10,000.Rep. Pscholka said: “I look forward to working with the landfill as they correct the alleged violations. The residents of the Coloma and Watervliet communities deserve better. It’s time to lay this odor issue to rest.”For residents who would like more information on the issue or would like to submit odor reporting forms, please visit RepPscholka79.com. His office is available toll-free at 888-656-0079 and by email at AlPscholka@house.mi.gov.### 16Apr Rep. Pscholka says it’s time to end odor issue Categories: News
03Oct Rep. Griffin hosts Veterans Roundtable Categories: Griffin News,Griffin Photos,News,Photos Yesterday, State Rep. Beth Griffin hosted her inaugural Veterans Roundtable with guest speaker James Redford, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. Director Redford gave an update on the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, and the progress Michigan is making to ensure veterans are receiving the benefits they earned while serving our country.The program lasted about one hour with more than 25 veterans, family members of veterans, concerned citizens, and local elected officials in attendance. Both Rep. Griffin and Director Redford took questions from attendees.“I would like to thank everyone who took time out of their day to attend this discussion. Hearing directly from our veterans about what they need and how state government can better serve them is very important to me,” Griffin said. “As a Navy wife, I can assure you that taking care of our active military members and veterans is a top priority of mine.Those unable to attend the event who have questions about veterans’ benefits can contact Rep. Griffin by phone at 517-373-0839 or via email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov.
State Rep. Steve Marino of Harrison Township today introduced legislation to help local agencies fight substance abuse in Michigan.Marino’s bill would dedicate a portion of the money raised through liquor taxes to Michigan’s local community mental health agencies. Each local board would provide grants for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, primarily targeting alcohol and opioids.“Substance abuse is a major problem in Michigan,” Marino said. “Our local community mental health agencies are in the best position to identify and develop programs to fight the abuse of alcohol, opioids and other drugs. This bill will deliver more resources to agencies on the front lines of this fight.”Marino’s bill would require a portion of the revenue collected by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission be distributed to community mental health agencies. It could provide more than $17 million a year to combat alcohol-related disorders, opiate addiction and other conditions.Recent statistics indicate the alarming abuse problems are worsening. Opioid deaths in Michigan rose from 622 in 2011 to 1,689 in 2016, according to legislative committee testimony from the state Department of Health and Human Services. Opioid prescriptions in the state now top 11 million per year. The number of people in treatment for substance use disorders also is growing and exceeds 32,000.### Categories: Marino News,News 11Oct Rep. Marino introduces bill to combat alcohol and opioid abuse
17Oct Legislation to expand dual enrollment to border school districts approved in House Categories: Miller News,News High school students in school districts bordering Michigan’s state borders are one step closer to more post-secondary and dual enrollment options after the House approved legislation by state Rep. Aaron Miller, of Sturgis.The legislation amends the Postsecondary Enrollment Options Act with the specific stipulation that the out-of-state educational facility must be within 20 miles of the shared border for students enrolled in a public, charter or private school district.“We’ve got to give all of our state’s students the best opportunity for their education, even if that is not within Michigan’s borders,” said Miller. “There are portions of our state where the nearest Michigan-based dual enrollment programs are quite a distance away, so we have to look at what’s reasonable for a student – drive 50 minutes away or 10?”Two Michigan educators agreed with Miller as Brent Holcomb, superintendent of the Lewis Cass Intermediate School District in Cass County, and Stephen McNew, superintendent of the Monroe County Intermediate School District, joined Miller before the House Education reform Committee on Sept. 14.“We have found that several school districts in neighboring states send their students into Michigan for post-secondary education programs, which just reinforces this is good policy,” said Miller. “This was always about our commitment to education going beyond our physical borders for the good of the state’s future.”HB 4735 advances to the Senate for its consideration.#####
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesOctober 9, 2014; CrowdriseBy many accounts, the number of individual donors giving to alleviate the Ebola outbreak has been few, relative to other disasters. So Erica Ollmann Saphire, a professor in the department of immunology and microbial science at the Scripps Research Institute, started a $100,000 crowdfunding campaign to pay for needed processing equipment.Ebola samples from around the world are being sent to Saphire’s lab, according to the Scripps website, “but the number of samples outpaces the ability of her current equipment to process them. Funding for equipment and staff will allow Dr. Saphire to work more aggressively to fight Ebola.”“If I had more investment, it would allow me to buy more equipment that would allow us to accelerate our work,” Saphire said, but as of the morning of October 13th, the campaign had raised just $9,627.In February, L.A. Times reporter Larry Gordon wrote that more and more researchers are trying to incorporate crowdfunding appeals as federal grants have stagnated but it is not an easy sell. A sense of community needs to be built around the cause and that may be hard for one of a number of research efforts at major institutions. This assumption may be proving out a bit in that a fund to raise the estimated $500,000 needed to cover the care of Ashoka Mukpo, the Rhode Islander who contracted the disease while covering the outbreak as a journalist, has already raised more than $46,000.—Ruth McCambridge ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share16TweetShareEmail16 SharesDetail of the “All of Mankind” mural / Erin NekervisDecember 21, 2015; DNAinfo Chicago#williamwalker #mural #chicago #publicart #publicartchi #allofmankindA photo posted by @seriouspleasures on Sep 26, 2015 at 11:54am PDTLast week, when in the Northside Stranger’s Home Missionary Baptist Church in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood in Chicago painted over its historic mural with no notice, there was understandably an outcry from the public. Many saw the mural as a staple in the community and within greater Chicago. The mural was painted by one of Chicago’s first muralists in 1972 in the midst of a social revolution. Since then, the “All of Mankind” mural has symbolized peace and unity between different religions and backgrounds while also including the names of people who were killed in terrible ways, like Malcolm X, Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.According to Jon Pounds, emeritus executive director of the Chicago Public Art Group, which fought for years to save the mural, it was painted over in light of the property’s new owner deciding to convert the church into a home. Indeed, the mural’s fate was tied to the fate of the Cabrini-Green church, which put the property up for sale five years ago having lost much of its congregation in the changing neighborhood. Once a haven for the poverty-stricken, the Cabrini-Green neighborhood now houses a more affluent crowd. With the changing needs of its community, the church fell on hard times.The response to the loss of the mural has been nothing short of heartbreak—and, for others, hostility. “I said, ‘Holy cow!’” said Reverend Randall Blakey, part of the Chicago Public Art Group. “It was a sad feeling—for the legacy of William Walker, for the potential of the Near North neighborhood. And it was a sad day for the contribution that this church had made to the Near North Side for years.”“I feel bitterness and sadness,” said Pounds. “The bitterness I feel is not precisely for the decision or action, or decision of someone to make money from an investment, but the bitterness is that we don’t have enough of a social conscience that we can’t anticipate the value of reflecting on this more. There wasn’t a more accessible ability to preserve this as an element of Cabrini-Green, as an element of our contemporary life.”Ingeborg Kohler, 74, created the “All of Mankind” Coalition seven years ago to help preserve the mural she calls a “masterpiece.”“It was a teaching piece. Not only for adults, but specifically for kids. It was a value [that kids] could check out all of the names and events and do research on them,” she said.In response to the backlash to the decision, those who ran the church had only this to say: Where were you five years ago, when the church needed you? Annie Thomas, the daughter of the founding pastor of the church expressed little sympathy for those outraged about the loss of the mural. “Nobody could help, and now they want to know why it’s gone,” said Thomas.According to Thomas, painting over the museum was “completely the church’s decision.” The church had considered other options, such as moving it entirely or repair it, doing so was always too costly. None of the prospective buyers of the property were willing to repair or move the mural themselves.“Believe me, we can’t afford to even pay our monthly bills,” Thomas said. “This place is raggedy, old, and it’s falling apart.”The Chicago Public Art Group and other concerned individuals wanted to take on the responsibility of the church and convert it into a community center, but couldn’t afford the $1.7 million asking price to buy the property. Despite their good intentions, the immediate needs of the church and the need to pay off its debts prompted the decision to sell.“I think it was a ploy to hurry up and sell the property,” said Chicago alderman Walter Burnett. “I understand the family wanted their money, but it would’ve been better to speak with the community about it. That mural means a lot to a lot of people.”—Shafaq HasanShare16TweetShareEmail16 Shares
Share19TweetShare5Email24 SharesOctober 20, 2016; PoliticoIn its seminal article on the IRS scandal from May 2013, NPQ referred to the 2010 lawsuit against the IRS filed by Z Street, a conservative pro-Israel nonprofit group, alleging that its application for tax exemption was being delayed on “viewpoint discrimination” grounds. Last week, Z Street received notice that its application had finally been approved.The journey to tax exemption was long and rocky. An IRS agent had told Z Street representatives that applications from a number of organizations similar to Z Street had been routed to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the administration’s public policies.” At one point in the litigation, “[t]he IRS even took the position that because Israel is a country ‘where terrorism happens,’ the service was justified in taking additional time to determine whether Z Street was involved with funding terrorism.” Z Street maintains that it is a purely educational organization and funds no programs, either in Israel or in the U.S.One particularly stinging rebuke of the IRS’s approach to Z Street’s application for tax exemption came from an interesting source: U.S. Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s choice to succeed Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. As NPQ noted at the time in its nonprofit newswire, Garland believed the IRS’s view that pro-Israel nonprofit Z Street could not sue the IRS until a 270-day waiting period has expired was ridiculous.You don’t really mean that, right? Because the next couple words would be the IRS is free to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, religion, race [for 270 days]. You don’t actually think that?Z Street was one of about 40 targeted groups included in a federal judge’s order to the IRS last week demanding that all remaining applications be processed by November 11 and that the IRS produce a plan to assure the court that there would be no further targeting and the groups previously targeted would suffer no stigma or ill effects from their previous treatment by the IRS.—Michael WylandShare19TweetShare5Email24 Shares
Share99Tweet12Share14Email125 Shares“Four Little Girls and the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama.” Photo: Andy MontgomeryDecember 13, 2017; Washington PostLast night’s Democratic win for the Alabama Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions was a moment full of meaning. Not only does it reduce the Republican majority in the Senate to 51 percent, but the race between the candidates itself was like a war of symbols.The Republican candidate, Roy Moore, has been accused of sexual harassment and the abuse of teenage girls. He’s also voiced a fond longing for the good old days of slavery when families were happy together. He relied on Steve Bannon and Donald Trump in the last few days of his campaign.Doug Jones, on the other hand, was a federal prosecutor who had convicted the Ku Klux Klansmen involved in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church where four little girls were killed. He relied in the last few days of his campaign on black leaders like New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Georgia Representative John Lewis. President Obama was the voice on his robocalls urging people to the polls.Despite a lot of doomsaying by mainstream media about the strategy of relying in large part on black voters, who were deemed “unenergetic” and “uninspired,” the plan worked. As was reported in the Atlantic by Vann R. Newkirk II,Jones won…and that script has been flipped on its head. Election day defied the narrative, and challenged traditional thinking about racial turnout in off-year elections and special elections. Precincts in the state’s “black belt,” the swathe of dark, fertile soil where the African American population is concentrated, reported long lines throughout the day, and as the night waned and red counties dominated by rural white voters continued to report disappointing results for Moore, votes surged in from urban areas and the black belt. By all accounts, black turnout exceeded expectations, perhaps even passing previous off-year results. Energy was not a problem.Newkirk writes that grassroots organizing took the day, overcoming any barriers erected by the voter repression efforts in the state.The grassroots organizing in black communities by groups like local NAACP chapters was more muscular than it had even been in the 2016 general election. In the lead-up to Tuesday’s contest, voting-rights groups registered people with felonies, targeted awareness campaigns at people who might not have had proper ID, and focused specifically on knocking down the structures in place that keep black voters away from the polls. Their efforts immediately become a case study in how to do so in a region that has, since the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision curtailing the 1965 Voting Rights Act, become a bastion of new voter-suppression laws, including new voter-ID laws.“Democrats,” Newkirk writes, “were saved by a community already fighting against the grain to be heard in the din of democracy.” In the end, the black electorate is estimated to have been approximately 28 percent of the vote in yesterday’s election, where the population of the state is only 26 percent black.Of course, there were other factors at work in this coalition. Among voters under thirty, Jones took 60 percent. And, in the end, there had already been a withdrawal of affection from Trump before the election, as the Washington Post reported:Other exit polls seemed to indicate that this electorate would be different than the one that came to the polls in November 2016. Trump, for instance, won Alabama with 62 percent of the vote in 2016. But preliminary exit polls Tuesday found that just under half of Alabamians approve of Trump’s performance, while about an identical share disapprove. About 4 in 10 voters say they “strongly disapprove” of Trump, compared with just over 3 in 10 who “strongly approve.”In his victory address, Jones told the crowd, “At the end of the day this entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency, and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which Zip code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life.” Jones declared that Alabama had stood at a crossroads on that day, and said that in the past, “unfortunately, we have usually taken the wrong fork. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you took the right road.”The vote may not, unfortunately, result in Jones being seated before the reconciled tax bill comes up for a vote, but it places the rest of the GOP agenda on far more shaky ground in a year where one or two votes can make a difference. And it is a moment when we owe our hardworking colleagues in Alabama a respectful bow.—Ruth McCambridgeShare99Tweet12Share14Email125 Shares
Share16Tweet5ShareEmail21 SharesBy Mark Oniffrey [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia CommonsMay 16, 2018; Kaiser Health NewsOne of just two calls to action this year by the US Surgeon General is related to naloxone and efforts to fight epidemic opioid overdoses in this country. The advisory statement encourages community members at large to learn about and even carry the antidote: “Naloxone is increasingly being used by police officers, emergency medical technicians, and non-emergency first responders to reverse opioid overdoses. There are two FDA-approved naloxone products for community use that are available by prescription, but too few community members are aware of the important role they can play to save lives.”Nonprofit hospitals, advocacy groups, and community coalitions have been fighting to educate individuals, families and community members on life-saving strategies, including the use of overdose-reversing pharmaceuticals.But while the awareness of the efficacy of quick-acting Narcan, or naloxone, has grown, so has the price. NPQ has been raising the alarm on this issue for years. Sadly, the heroic efforts of state legislatures across the country to ensure the legal use of naloxone, not just by first responders, but ordinary citizens as well, has also ensured a thriving market for the makers of such pharmaceutical antidotes.To broaden access, every state and Washington, DC, have passed laws making it easier for friends, family members or bystanders to get and use naloxone. Just how easy it is depends on your state, or even the pharmacy you use.Congress has even called for accountability from drug manufacturers and is seeking pressure from federal agencies to call for fair pricing.More than a dozen US senators have signed a letter urging Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to negotiate with drug companies to lower the price of naloxone.For people who can’t afford the drug, Ray said, health departments and nonprofits can help. Laws in many states allow these organizations to dispense naloxone to lay responders.Meanwhile, nonprofits will do their best to get this life-saving mechanism in the hands of everyday people, ready to respond in a moment of need, while continuing to call for price reforms in order to increase access and reduce profiteering on a nation’s sad epidemic.— Jeannie FoxShare16Tweet5ShareEmail21 Shares
Share20TweetShareEmail20 SharesNovember 20, 2018; Washington Post and The HillAs regular NPQ readers may remember, the ties between former attorney general Jeff Sessions and the private prison industry provide real insights into many of the policies he later pursued. (We wrote about this here, here, and here.) With the appointment of Interim Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, the American public is treated to a smokescreen that obfuscates some of his most critical relationships, thanks to his 2014–2017 employment by a nonprofit. Ironically, the current stated mission of the organization is to expose unethical conduct by public officials.The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), reportedly founded in 2014, has a K Street address in Washington, DC. While he was FACT’s president, reports the Washington Post, Whitaker was on television and radio, such as Fox TV and CNN, as a legal analyst, representing the organization, which is part of a conservative network of tax-exempt nonprofits. He often targeted special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.Of course, Whitaker now oversees the Russia investigation led by the special counsel, raising questions on both sides of the aisle about his ability to do so fairly and ethically. According to the New York Times:FACT has raised nearly $3.5 million since its inception in 2014, according to tax filings, which show that the group’s largest single expense was Mr. Whitaker’s salary.There is very little publicly available information about FACT’s financing.DonorsTrust, a conservative foundation that allows other conservative foundations to mask their giving, provided much of FACT’s seed funding—$1.1 million donated in 2014 and 2015—but the original source of that donation is not clear.Another expense on FACT’s 990 is a contractor, America Rising, from Arlington, Virginia, making $500,000 from 2015–2017. The company’s “sole purpose is to hold Democrats accountable and expose any hidden hypocrisy.”A FACT spokesperson, who spoke to the Washington Post on condition that his name would not be disclosed, cited the First Amendment as the reason they need not disclose the sources of their tax-exempt funds.“Like nearly all nonprofit organizations—including those with similarly stated missions—FACT does not and is not required to release its donor information,” the spokesman reportedly said. “This protects free speech rights of all of these groups’ supporters as outlined in the First Amendment.”Neither Whitaker nor Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec issued a statement on the matter.The origins of FACT as an organization are a little confusing. Raymond Wotring created the Free Market American Educational Foundation. Six weeks after the IRS approved the group in July of 2014, it changed its name to Working for Rights to Express & Communication. It changed again in October that same year to FACT, according to Virginia state records, and Whitaker became its leader. However, David Nelson, specialist on nonprofit organizations and a former tax partner at the Ernst & Young accounting firm, reviewed the organization’s 990s for the Washington Post and concluded, “It’s very possible that this organization is misusing its status as a charity.”“It appears the IRS never gave approval to FACT,” Nelson continues.In its federal tax filing for 2014, FACT declared that it had not changed its name or its mission that year, records show, and there was no mention of the prior names. The spokesman for FACT declined to provide documents that he said showed it had notified the IRS of the name change.Considering that the nonprofit was led by a lawyer, there are a lot of questions about the organization begging for answers. And there are more questions for Whitaker, the man presently representing the United States in legal matters. But the biggest questions remain for Congress and the American public. Just how much do we need to know about the closest financial influences on our attorney general, and why won’t Whitaker voluntarily disclose his?—Marian ConwayShare20TweetShareEmail20 Shares
Neotion will use IBC to launch Blue Bridge, a solution to create a secure wireless link between TV and smartphones or tablets, allowing the introduction of new services or apps combining simultaneous use of television and mobiles.The Blue Bridge system can be integrated into multiple interfaces such as a CAM, set-top or USB dongle. Blue Bridge allows data to be extracted from TV streams and to generate information from an interactive televisionapplication for transmission to the second screen. Since this link is bi-directional, the mobile device can also transmitinformation to the television in the opposite direction. Blue Bridge technology allows a television to connect to the internet using the mobile device’s internet connection, providing a connected TV without the need for an Ethernet cable or WiFi router.At IBC, Neotion will present TV apps running on the Blue Bridge platform: ‘Watch 2 Cash’ TV couponing whereby the TV receives and displays discount coupons that the user then validates and acquires using the TV remote control or directly onto their smartphone or tablet; ‘HBB Tablet’ for navigating HbbTV content on a tablet; ‘Blue Bridge Pay’ for pay-per-view via a mobile device whereby the companion device, connected to the TV by a secure wireless link, allows viewers to purchase and transfer pay-per-view rights on live TV channels or for VOD offers; and ‘Blue Bridge Social TV’, a simplified solution for publishing information and comments on social networks, synchronised with the broadcast content, from a TV not connected to the internet.Gregory Wieczorek, CEO of Neotion, said: “Neotion Blue Bridge represents a shift for Neotion, as we are expanding our offering to include other technologies as well as CAMs by combining technological products and services. In doing so we rely on our teams’ security expertise and on our privileged relationship with Operators and CAS partners who are keen to obtain a solution allowing them to enable and exploit second screen usage with television usage but with the ability to secure and control this connection. This combination of television and second screen usage through our Blue Bridge solution is an innovative development which will enable new advertising and services revenue generation for broadcasters and operators as well as user friendly apps, payment solutions and benefits for the user/consumer. The Blue Bridge solution is a truly disruptive technology bringing the couponing world to the linear television, enabling real audience measurement, tele-voting and much more.”Neotion will be exhibiting at IBC on Stand 4.B53
Shazam has launched a new TV advertising metric, designed to let brands more successfully gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns.The Shazam Engagement Rate combines third-party viewing data from Nielsen with the number of people engaged with ads through Shazam, to determine which are resonating best with viewers.“By showing brands where they are seeing actual engagement – not just viewers, but people who are leaning in and asking for more information – Shazam is able to provide an entirely new service to advertisers: measurement and accountability on how effectively an ad campaign connects with the target audience,” said Shazam CEO Rich Riley.Unveiling the ad measurement metric at the Cannes Lions international advertising festival, Riley added that the service would help companies optimise their ad spend. The Shazam Engagement Rate is available to Shazam for TV advertisers, who build mobile-optimised experiences for brand campaigns that can be accessed through the app.
Microsoft is in talks with Orange about taking a stake in its video site Dailymotion, according to Reuters and French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche. The news comes after Stéphane Richard, the CEO of Dailymotion’s parent company Orange, told delegates of the Le Web conference in Paris last month that Orange would likely sign a deal in the coming weeks with “a major player in the digital economy” – with reports tipping Microsoft’s MSN is the most likely candidate.Earlier this year, Orange was in talks with Yahoo about selling a stake in Dailymotion, though talks broke down after the controversial intervention of French minister Arnaud Montebourg, who reportedly sought to limit the extent of non-French involvement in the company.Orange subsequently said in July that it will invest €30 million from internal resources in Dailymotion in a bid to boost the video site’s revenues from €37 million last year to more than €100 million by 2016.
Sweden’s TV4 Group is adding new exclusive kids content to its TV4 Play Premium non-linear pay TV offering.The broadcaster is adding six new episodes of the popular Maria Lang whodunit series to the premium offering, with other content, including Chuggington, Thomas the Tank Engine, Koalabröderna, Postis Per, Den Lilla Pingvinen Pororo, My Little Pony, Doktor Mugg and Bröderna Fluff to be added over the summer.