Pictured here in 1987, Costa Rica’s former President Oscar Arias was instrumental in negotiating a Central American peace deal that helped end the region’s bloody wars in the 1980s. The same year, Arias won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. He still quotes Martin Luther King, Jr. as an inspiration. Facebook Comments No related posts. OPINIONOn the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, it strikes me how little it is generally understood that the civil rights movement in the United States is mirrored by struggles for equality and democracy in Central America.And it’s not just the fight in Central America between good ol’ boys like John Hull, the Indiana farmer who aided the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan Contras from his farm in northern Costa Rica, and 1960s activists like Martha Honey and Tony Avirgan, the husband and wife journalism team who devoted themselves during the ’80s to exposing Hull.Ever since the adventurous gray-eyed man of destiny William Walker tried to bring Central America into the U.S. union as slave states in the 1850s, events in Central America have been under the sway of politics in the southern United States.It should have come as no surprise that mercenary groups from places like Alabama, and with names like Civilian Military Assistance, were evident in abundance during the Contra era.Also, Costa Rican former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias’ calls for nonviolent political solutions to regional wars owed a debt to Martin Luther King Jr., whom Arias still quotes quite regularly.And just as King would have predicted, “the arch of the moral universe” that “bends towards justice” bent in favor of the peace process led by Arias.The Arias peace plan tapped into a current of history that transcended national boundaries and was helped along by the same historical flow that boycotted buses in Montgomery, was hosed and attacked by police dogs in Birmingham and blocked a bridge in Selma.Arias acted with the knowledge that his pacification plan would take root in a country that abolished its army in 1948 and where a sign outside the chambers of Congress quotes the first president of the republic, José María Castro Madriz, as saying, “The sword is the enemy of freedom – we should block it from power.”The powers that pursued an armed solution to the Central American conflict did so oblivious to the historical forces at work in the region.U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Lewis Tambs (1985-1986) – who resigned after 16 months at his post when reports surfaced that he had tried to influence Costa Rican officials to allow Contra arms shipments through Costa Rica – probably didn’t know, and surely wouldn’t have cared if he did, about the 30-year rivalry between three-time Costa Rican head of state José “Pepe” Figueres and the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, deposed in 1979 by Sandinista rebels.Costa Ricans still remember the annual Christmas bombardments of their territory in the 1950s by Somoza, which the dictator engaged in as much to chastise Figueres for his constant conspiring with Somoza foes as to help aid Figueres’ political rival, Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia, exiled in Nicaragua. If, as Tambs later testified in the U.S. Congress’ Iran-Contra hearings, he was sent to Costa Rica primarily to establish a Contra “southern front,” he was sent on a fool’s errand.Despite their distaste for the Sandinistas, Costa Ricans would never have accepted a Somocista-led Contra presence.And the Iran-Contra scandal, which had the effect of focusing U.S. public attention on a Contra policy run amok in a relative policy-making backwater, proved that the U.S. people as a whole were, at the end of the day, not going to accept it either.The peace plan not only put an end to the region’s civil wars, but also laid out a framework for continued peaceful democratic development throughout the region.The hopes initially raised by the signing of the peace plan in Esquipulas, Guatemala, on Aug. 7, 1987, have been dashed in the short term by the rise of trans-regional drug gangs and continued high levels of violence and impunity in the region.But lately signs have pointed to life for the “Spirit of Esquipulas.”In Guatemala, the trial of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, and in El Salvador, renewed debate over post-war amnesty, show the stirrings of life in the will to bring the Esquipulas accords to their full fruition.If history is any guide, the great arch of the moral universe will continue to bend toward justice in Central America.
With Thursday’s parliament decision, Turkish leaders expanded their options for dealing with Syria but avoided a full-scale military confrontation, said Ayham Kamel, a Middle East analyst at the Eurasia Group in London.Some of Syria’s other neighbors, particularly Lebanon, have also shown restraint, in part to try to avoid inflaming sectarian divisions within their own countries that mirror the divides in the Syrian civil war.Many of those rising up against Assad are Sunni Muslims, while Syria’s ruling elite is dominated by Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Syria’s Christian and Kurdish minorities have largely been trying to stay out of the line of fire.Both Iraq and Lebanon have an ethnic and religious mix similar to Syria’s, and in Lebanon, sectarian tensions have been rising. Since May, repeated street clashes between pro- and anti-Assad groups in Lebanon’s majority Sunni port city of Tripoli have killed more than two dozen people.In a further complication, the pro-Assad Hezbollah militia, which is believed to be sending fighters to help the embattled Syrian regime, is a major political and military force in Lebanon.However, Lebanon’s major players have largely resisted the temptation to exploit the Syrian conflict for political gains at home, several analysts said. Comments Share Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project However, Iranian advisers are helping direct the Syrian regime’s battles, the defected Syrian prime minister said last month. This would put them just a frontier away from Israel at a time of increasingly ominous threats between Israel and Iran over Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.Nerguizian, the Washington analyst, said Syrian conflict has set in motion sweeping changes that will transform the region.“At this rate, it is not going to look anything like the pattern we’ve seen in the past few decades, since the end of World War II,” he said.___Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, Barbara Surk in Beirut and Lauren E. Bohn in Jerusalem contributed reporting.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The fighting spirit of Syria’s Sunnis, meanwhile, has helped embolden a Sunni insurgency in Iraq that had been withering for years. If Assad is defeated and Syria joins a Sunni coalition in the region, Iraq might find itself seeking even closer ties with Iran.Turkey’s outspoken support for the Syrian rebels _ a policy it adopted in August 2011, after trying to reason with Assad first _ has coincided with a sharp rise in increasingly brazen attacks by the separatist Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, in southeastern Turkey.In August, Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Bulent Arinc, said a number of those attacks were apparently carried out by Kurdish gunmen who infiltrated from Iran, a staunch Assad ally. A Turkish pro-government newspaper, Sabah, has claimed that Iranian intelligence has stopped providing Turkey with information about Kurdish rebel infiltrations.Assad has also used Syria’s Kurds as pawns against Turkey.After Turkey repeatedly raised the idea of internationally enforced safe zones in Syria in the spring, Syrian regime forces withdrew from several Kurdish towns on the border with Turkey over the summer. That granted them unprecedented autonomy, but also set them up as a buffer zone. Assad was telling Turkey: “‘You can intervene (in Syria), but you’re going to have to fight the PKK on the way to get there’,” said Soner Cagaptay, a Turkey expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies.Picking a side in Syria also seems to have ended a decade-long effort by majority Sunni Turkey to increase its regional influence by getting along with all players, including Iran.In Jordan, the biggest problem for now seems to be the strain put on the country’s meager resources by some 200,000 Syrian refugees who have flooded across the border.Israel has tried to stay on the sidelines, but last month sent a clear message that it’s prepared for all scenarios. In a snap military drill, it airlifted thousands of soldiers to the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau Israel captured from Syria in 1967, and carried out live fire drills there.Israel could face a serious threat to its security if Syrian territory near the Golan becomes a chaotic no-man’s land, said Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser in Israel. Last week, Syrian mortar shells fell near a Golan apple orchard, but Israel said it did not believe it was an intentional hit. Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, which ended in 1990, is still deeply etched in the collective memory, and there seems to be little appetite for another round.“I don’t think anyone in Lebanon, among the major political leaders, the major political factions, wants to support a sectarian war (at home),” said Michael Young, the opinion editor for Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper.But Lebanon’s fragile coalition government may not be able to withstand a protracted conflict next door, and any miscalculation could ignite violence.“What the crisis is doing is eroding the resilience of the state,” said Emile Hokayam of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank. “Small security incidents may escalate just because of bad management.”For Iraq’s Shiite-led government, the Syrian civil war has made the job of balancing the demands of Baghdad’s main patrons, the U.S. and Iran, even more difficult.Last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki came under pressure from Washington to ban Iranian planes suspected of carrying weapons to Syria from using Iraqi airspace. Sticking to official neutrality on Syria, al-Maliki said he’d try, but that Iraq could at best perform spot checks. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Top Stories Associated PressBEIRUT (AP) – Retaliatory Turkish artillery strikes deep into Syria have showed the speed with which the bloody civil war can entangle its neighbors and destabilize an already volatile region.Beyond the cross-border flare-up, the 18-month battle to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad has already deepened sectarian rifts in Lebanon and Iraq, raised tensions along the long quiet frontier with Israel and emboldened Kurdish separatists in Turkey. “There is not a single country bordering Syria that we can honestly say they are not facing a realistic threat to internal stability and national security,” said Aram Nerguizian of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.From the start, Syria’s conflict burst over its borders. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians sought refuge across the country’s borders with Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. Stray bullets and mortar rounds, sometimes with deadly result, have struck Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.But in a dramatic escalation on Thursday, Turkey fired back for the first time after an errant Syrian mortar shell killed five people in a Turkish border town Wednesday. Turkey shelled Syrian military targets, and Turkey’s parliament approved future retaliation under such circumstances.Turkey said it did not amount to a declaration of war, and Syria offered a rare apology _ a sign that both want to defuse tensions.Assad’s foes, including Turkey, have been unwilling to intervene directly in Syria, and the Damascus regime has tried to make sure it stays that way, avoiding major provocations that could inadvertently trigger foreign intervention. 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Outrigger Resorts is kicking off World Oceans Month with enough coral planted, monitored and protected to cover approximately 100 football fields’ worth of coral since the 2015 launch of its global conservation initiative, OZONE (Outrigger’s ZONE).In response to more than 60% of the world’s reefs depleting and under immediate threat from climate change, land-based pollution and unsustainable fishing, Outrigger’s OZONE conservation programme encourages guests to become part of the solution. Coral planting in Fiji, snorkelling with a resident marine biologist in Maldives, viewing the ocean through a glass-bottom boat in Mauritius, swimming with sea turtles in Hawaii, visiting a marine rehabilitation centre in Thailand, and walking through an underwater aquarium tunnel in Guam are a sample of the hands-on educational opportunities offered year-round for Outrigger guests.This June, throughout World Oceans Month, Outrigger Resorts properties worldwide are offering a diverse range of immersive activities and conservation opportunities for Outrigger guests to get in the OZONE mind-set and make a difference, even while on holiday.“We define ‘The Outrigger Way’ as caring for the guest, the host and the place. OZONE is Outrigger’s pathway of action to care for the oceans surrounding the iconic destinations at which Outrigger Resorts are located,” said Sean Dee, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Outrigger Enterprises Group. “With help from our guests, Outrigger has grown and protected 100 football fields’ worth of coral, but this is just the beginning – the level of interest and engagement has inspired us to continue offering OZONE experiences that are eco-friendly, memorable and make a positive impact.”OZONE Month and World Oceans Month highlightsOutrigger Resorts’ beachfront properties are offering a range of educational and volunteer activities, family entertainment, exciting adventures and more – all in an effort to preserve the global coral systems and oceans’ biodiversity. Highlights from each destination include:Hawaii: Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort and Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort will feature live Hawaiian music, educational exhibits, games and more at the Waikiki Aquarium on 24 June.Visitors of the Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort are invited to visit and partake in an educational tour at the Phuket Aquarium and the Phuket Marine Biological Centre, a rehabilitation centre for turtles and other marine life that have been injured by debris, as well as participate in a local beach cleanup. Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort will be planting coconut trees and doing a beach cleanup.Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort will host an educational workshop for building and then sinking “fish houses” made of transplanted coral, which will become a coral nursery and attract a number of fish and other marine life over time. Castaway Island, Fiji will host a butterfly fish count, coastal tree planting, sunset kayak and night snorkel for guests.Outrigger Guam Beach Resort is adjacent to and supports UnderWater World – Guam’s popular aquarium that teaches about the island’s vibrant sea life with a spectacular walk-through glass tunnel. The property will have a beach cleanup and mini fair with educational outreach, ocean crafts, raffle drawings and face painting.Those visiting Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort can participate in a coral restoration workshop with the resident marine biologist, have some fun with a special #worldoceansday selfie stand with props and join in family activities available through the resort.Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort will offer educational activities and glass-bottom boat tours for guests to discover the beauty of various coral gardens in the lagoon in front of the resort.OZONE Eco-Adventure PackageGuests at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort and Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort are invited to explore the ocean and safely scope out the fascinating world of Hawaii’s endangered green sea turtles with the OZONE Eco-Adventure Package. The offer features a buy-one, get-one-free Snorkel Eco-Adventure Sail Tour, two admission tickets to the Waikiki Aquarium and an in-room welcome gift that includes reef-friendly sunscreen, swim goggles, and a dive mesh bag to help with collecting plastics and other debris found in the ocean or on the beach. Starting at $239 per room, per night (taxes and fees not included), reservations can be made online.Conservation in actionOutrigger Resorts participates in year-round global and local efforts with dozens of opportunities for marine education and conservation activities. Outrigger hosts put the company’s conservation mission into action by participating in green initiatives across local communities such as marine environment educational sessions, field trips to beaches, coastal wetlands and mangroves and beach clean ups. As a result of the clean-up efforts, Outrigger’s Waikiki properties collectively recycled more than 160,570 kilograms of aluminium, plastic, paper and glass.
Four out of five players playing in the Cyprus football league this year were foreigners, a 15-per-cent spike on the previous year’s numbers, the association of Cypriot footballers (Pasp) said on Friday, citing data released by the Football Observatory of the International Centre of Sports Studies (CIES).According to Pasp, the figures show that the situation is getting worse every year, both with regard to the number of foreigners playing in first-division clubs and the average age of players, as well as the clubs’ tendency to replace a large part of their rosters every year.In the observatory’s latest analysis, released earlier this month, the Cypriot league features the most foreign players by far, and ranks second-to-last among ageing leagues and roster turnover – the average time a player stays on with a particular team.Most alarming, Pasp said, was the average playing time of non-Cypriot footballers.In 2016, Cyprus topped the list with 65.4 per cent foreign players, but 2017 was even worse, with the percentage rising to 80.2.Second on the list was Turkey with 73.3 per cent (an 11.3-per-cent bump from last year) and England with 61.2 per cent (0.8 per cent less than last year).In contrast, only 15 per cent of available playing time went to non-Serbians in the national league, with Ukraine in second place with 18.2 per cent and the Czech Republic in third with 23.8 per cent.Among the top-ten individual teams across Europe with the most playing time allotted to foreigners were Cyprus, with Apollon Limassol topping the list with 98.9 per cent, Anorthosis Famagusta in second place with 95.3 per cent and AEK Larnaca third with 91.5 per cent. Champions Apoel ranked sixth with 88 per cent and Pafos FC eight with 87 per cent.The rest of the top-ten were Galatasaray (90.6 per cent), Chelsea (90.4 per cent), Karabukspor (87.8 per cent), Besiktas (86.9 per cent) and Ludogorets (86.7 per cent).“Unfortunately, the numbers regarding the participation of international players in Cyprus remain tragic, since we hold the top spot in total and the three top individual teams are Cypriot,” Pasp chairman Spyros Neofytides said.Cyprus also ranks high on ageing leagues, with the national league being the second-most ageing in Europe. The fourteen division-one clubs have an average age of players of 28.46, second only to Turkey, where the average age is 28.64.On average, the oldest team in Cyprus is AEK, at 31.97 years old, with Apoel (29.67) second, Anorthosis (29.65) and Apollon (29.44) third. Doxa Katokopias is the ‘youngest’ team in the league with an average age of 25.4.On roster turnover, Cyprus averages 1.17 years, ranking second only to Romania’s 1.11.You May LikeLuxury Crossover SUV I Search AdsThese SUVs Are The Cream Of The Crop. Search For 2019 Luxury Crossover SUV DealsLuxury Crossover SUV I Search AdsUndoDr. 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 SupplementUndo 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
##### Tags: #SB, Avian Flu, birds, chicken virus, Cole, HPAI, livestock, MDARD, MDNR Michigan residents that have noticed 3 OR MORE WILD BIRD DEATHS, please report this immediately to Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). 04Jun Rep. Cole advises residents to be cautious of Avian Flu, how to protect Michigan birds Lawmaker explains HPAI & how to defend against spread of virus to livestockThe Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD),with the advice of MDARD State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill, along with the Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (MAFE), Michigan 4-H, and Michigan Allied Poultry Industry announced this week the cancellation of all statewide events featuring Michigan poultry and waterfowl slated for 2015, citing Avian Influenza as the culprit.Out-of-state regions surrounding Michigan have recently reported cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) that has resulted in the premature death of many birds across the nation. HPAI is a virus infecting domestic poultry such as chickens, turkey, quail, and geese and the heightened pathogenicity of this virus is deadly to poultry.“To avoid the spread of HPAI to Michigan fowl, both backyard and commercial, the MDARD has decided against hosting all Michigan poultry and waterfowl exhibitions in the state in order to prevent the comingling of birds from different locations,” said House Agriculture Committee vice-chair, State Rep. Triston Cole. “It is important to note here, how HPAI is spread to poultry and livestock and how we can protect our Michigan fowl from contracting this deadly virus.”“As far as researchers can tell, HPAI is a zoological virus. Meaning strands of this virus are currently only detrimental to animals and not human beings. At this time, Avian Flu is not a food safety concern; you can still eat poultry and eggs. The primary concern here is the safety and well-being of our healthy bird populations across the state. HPAI may not be harmful to humans but we can still be carriers of the HPAI virus.”“That being said there are some precautionary steps to take in order to avoid the unnecessary contamination of Avian Flu from infected bird populations to healthy bird populations. Infected birds spread HPAI through droppings or nasal discharge found in soil and dirt making it extremely susceptible and easy for humans to spread. People pick up the virus and carry it on their shoes, clothes, equipment and vehicles. Migrating waterfowl, like ducks, are also carriers of HPAI making it very easy for them to spread the virus as well.”“Michigan bird owners should restrict their biosecurity practices,” Rep. Cole, R-Mancelona, said. “This includes limiting exposure to wild birds and restricting outdoor access to your flock in order to protect your birds.”There have been no reported cases in Michigan. Report a sick or dead bird and mammal to Michigan DNR using this OBSERVATION FORM. Categories: Cole News,Featured news,News If you have experienced a high volume of livestock deaths in a short period OR have noticed an unusual or unexplainable pattern of recent deaths in flock, please immediately report it to Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). If you have a sick bird or a bird is acting sick or in an unusual manner, please contact the following state agencies to receive immediate help. State of Michigan Agency Contact InformationMichigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD)800-292-3939517-373-0440 (after-hours EMERGENCY)Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)517-336-5030Additional Resources and Information Status of Avian Influenza in MichiganHow to report a sick or dead wild birdMDARD Fact Sheet: Get more information on Avian FluAvian Influenza Information from MSU Extension ServiceMSU Extension Poultry Website: General Information on How to Care for PoultrySick or dead bird and mammal observation report What can Michigan residents do to help?
19Dec Rep. Kelly announces three area recreational grant recommendations State Rep. Tim Kelly today said the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board has recommended funding for three Saginaw County park projects.Kelly, of Saginaw Township, said the proposed grants totaling $881,200 will pay for two trail improvements and one land acquisition. Funding is comprised of revenue from the lease of state land and is designated on an annual basis in partnership with local governments.“This is an excellent use of money generated from land leases in concert with local governments that provides recreational opportunities for families across the state,” Kelly said. “Projects like this enable families to go outside and play among our abundant natural resources.”Recommended projects are:Purchase of three acres in Thomas Township to expand the township nature preserve. The land will become the main entrance to the park with parking and a building for the nature center. The cost is $372,000.A $209,200 grant to develop a trailhead with a parking lot and amenities, providing access to the south of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail.Development of an observation trail at Riverfront Park in Saginaw, that includes a universally accessible trail from the parking lot to the top of the large hill located in the center of the property. This project will offer people the chance to observe seasonal colors at the park as well as the abundant wildlife in the area. The development will cost $300,000.Kelly said the Legislature will consider the recommendations in 2018.##### Categories: Kelly News,News
Share20TweetShare2Email22 SharesNovember 9, 2015; Center for Public IntegrityThe Center for Public Integrity chose not to grade states on a curve regarding their practices of secrecy, compromised ethics, and conflicts of interest. It wouldn’t have been much of a bell curve. According to the Center’s 2015 State Integrity Investigation, only three states scored higher than a D-plus: Alaska with a grade of C, and Connecticut and California earning C-minus grades. Eleven states flunked, with Michigan coming at the tail of all 50 states as the worst student in class.The Center’s review is not a measure of corruption but a review of the laws and practices of the states regarding transparency and accountability and how well those laws are actually implemented. The Center uses 245 questions to explore issues such as “public access to information, political financing, electoral oversight, executive accountability, legislative accountability, judicial accountability, state budget processes, state civil service management, procurement, internal auditing, lobbying disclosure, state pension fund management and ethics enforcement agencies.”According to the Center, the states scored worse than the last time this study was conducted three years ago, partially because the Center added questions about “open data” policies, but also because of “moves toward greater secrecy in some states.” The biggest drop was New Jersey’s, which plummeted from the highest score in the nation at B-plus in 2012 to a D in 2015, probably not the grade that presidential candidate Chris Christie wanted to see.Note that this isn’t an anti-government tract. Unlike the likes of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson, who have all been heard to describe government as corrupt virtually because it exists, the Center’s analysis doesn’t equate government with corruption, but looks for the governmental policies and practices that make government more open and accessible—and give citizens the levers to hold state government to public scrutiny.How did Michigan not only earn an “F” as a letter grade, but an overall score that placed it at the absolute bottom of states for their transparency and ethics laws and practices? The state flunked ten out of thirteen categories of behavior, including ranking at the bottom in the categories of executive accountability, legislative accountability, judicial accountability, and state pension fund management, as shown in this chart:In other words, Michigan’s “F” was a worse “F” than the other flunking state students of ethics and accountability earned in South Dakota, Delaware, Wyoming, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maine, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.Of importance to nonprofits? You bet.One reason Michigan might have scraped the bottom of the barrel on executive accountability is the state’s emergency law, which in 2013 replaced the state’s two-decade-old law, giving the state broader powers to appoint emergency financial managers to take over local municipalities in fiscal crises, bypassing elected officials. Regardless of whether one believes that Michigan’s use of its emergency law was appropriate in Detroit, or whether emergency financial manager Kevyn Orr succeeded in his mission to rectify the city’s fiscal situation, it is not a practice that lends itself to transparency, disclosure, and accountability. Ultimately, for Detroit’s revival, the answer isn’t just a matter of putting its financial house together, but of returning the city to democratic self-governance; otherwise, Detroiters might just as well submit their futures to benevolent dictatorship rule from Lansing—which in the future might not always be counted on to be benevolent.Nonprofits in Michigan also have a stake in this ranking because of the dynamics of the financial solution for Detroit, the Grand Bargain that was negotiated largely behind the scenes with Governor Snyder, the state treasurer, and elements of the state legislature. If the state ranks rock bottom on issues of executive accountability and transparency, the fact the state’s top foundations negotiated a unique, groundbreaking philanthropic deal with the state government becomes part and parcel of the picture of the state’s less-than-salutary sunshine practices, notwithstanding the public-spirited motivations of the foundations involved. Note, for example, that contributing to Michigan’s F grade is its exemption of the governor’s office and the legislature from open records laws.Another dimension of Michigan’s poor ranking is its statutory enshrinement of anonymity for donors who pay for campaign “issue ads,” the dark money that has been polluting campaign politics in recent years, often through the mechanisms of 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. In 2013, Governor Snyder signed just such a law, despite his campaign pledge in favor of disclosure.Notwithstanding the more than occasional need for nonprofits and foundations to partner with government to get things done, the nonprofit sector must also stand apart from government and press for policies and practices that upgrade government transparency, ethics, and accountability. The need may be acute in Michigan, but given only three states with grades above D-plus, the governmental integrity agenda is a legitimate issue for nonprofits in all 50 states.—Rick CohenShare20TweetShare2Email22 Shares
Share31TweetShare1Email32 Sharesfossil-fueled power plant / glasseyes viewJanuary 5, 2017; New York TimesIn the face of the imminent threat from global warming, decreasing our dependence on carbon-based fuels is critical. This need poses a direct threat to the wealth and power of those who have invested heavily in drilling, mining, and related businesses. Typically, the debate has centered on whether global warming is real and to what degree human actions have influenced or driven it. Perhaps in recognition that this point is a lost cause, oil interests are changing their message and seeking new allies in unexpected places.A new nonprofit business organization, Fueling U.S. Forward, is leading an effort to position fossil fuels as the fuel of the people, essential to every American’s economic security:Access to reliable energy is the common thread that binds millions of Americans together as we set out to build, create, and care for people living in the greatest nation in the world. When we talk about powering our future, we can’t afford to leave anything on the table…domestic oil and natural gas is the key to ensuring Americans continue to grow, innovate, and thrive into tomorrow.[…]Energy shapes everything we do, every moment of our life—so much so that we often take it for granted. No longer. The story of energy is one worth telling, and one best told by the people who have the most at stake…we’re going to take the conversation out of Washington, D.C. and into local communities. We’ll talk to people of diverse backgrounds—industry employees, small business owners, community leaders, and low-income families—and share their stories.According to a recent report in the New York Times, Fueling U.S. Forward is “funded by Koch Industries, the oil and petrochemicals conglomerate led by the ultraconservative billionaire brothers David H. and Charles G. Koch.” Their strategy is to change the debate about global warming from one about science to one about self-interest and economic security. A new argument gives them the opportunity to reach out to “new allies in their quest for a fossil fuel resurgence: minorities.”Funds provided by Fueling U.S. Forward supported a meeting last June of the National Policy Alliance (NPA), which comprised major organizations representing black public officials from federal, state, and local levels of government. The purpose of the meeting was to develop policy recommendations that could be “a living document, to be updated and more importantly, acted upon, as we select our next president, congressmen, and local officials.”This new tack on building support for fossil fuels seems to have gotten some traction. The platform that emerged from the meeting strongly connected energy to economic security and ignored the consequences of global warming: “Access to affordable, reliable energy is crucial to economic progress. Low income families, many in the Black community, spend as much money on energy as they do on food. […] Policies that subsidize electric vehicles and solar panels for the wealthy raise energy prices and harm the black community.” Linda Haithcox Taylor, executive director of the National Policy Alliance, said that the organization was just “standing up for poor, underserved communities.”Eddie Bautista, executive director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, a nonprofit that works with low-income and minority neighborhoods on environmental issues, doesn’t agree. He told the Times that the campaign is “an exploitative, sad and borderline racist strategy.” He pointed to the falling costs associated with renewable energy, which he said made shifting away from reliance on fossil fuels a winning proposition for everyone.This is an approach that mirrors the successful strategy employed by the Trump campaign in its appeal to white working class voters. It plays on economic struggles, fears, and worries. It looks to blame a distant “elite.” If global warming is indeed as real as our scientists tell us it is, this strategy carries great risk to the very people it’s trying to bring on board. Fossil fuels may be cheaper today, helping those with limited resources stretch their budgets, but the threats posed by a warming earth will affect these very communities first and hardest.—Martin LevineShare31TweetShare1Email32 Shares
Sky has added content from Sky Movies to its Sky Go app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.Sky Movies subscribers using Sky Go can stream movies on demand via a WiFi connection. The pay TV operator will add 3G capability by the end of the year. Subscribers will also be able to view all 11 Sky Movies channels on a linear basis.New release titles available through Sky Go over the coming weeks include Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Little Fockers, Black Swan, Gulliver’s Travels and Limitless.According to Sky, since its launch in July 2011, Sky Go has attracted almost two million unique users, with over 30 million pieces of content viewed in the last month across more than 2.5 million devices.
Russian service provider ER-Telecom had 1.747 million TV subscribers at the end of last year, up 43% compared with 2010.Broadband internet customers numbered 1.899 million, up 39%, while fixed-line phone subscribers numbered 265,000, up 98%. ER-Telecom made a number of significant acquisitions in the course of the year.Revenue from TV services amounted to RUB2.868 billion (€72 million), while broadband revenues amounted to RUB6.166 billion.Overall revenues were RUB9.688 billion, up 43%. The company has set a target of winning a 20% share of the country’s internet and pay TV business by 2014. ER-Telecom envisages further investments to the amount of US$500 million (€381 million) to help it reach this target.ER-Telecom’s customers base at the end of the year was 3.9 million.
Set-top vendor AirTies has promoted Karl Tempest-Mitchell to executive vice-president sales and marketing, and appointed Ian Challinor as vice-president sales and business development.In his new roll, Tempest-Mitchell will be responsible for AirTies’ commercial growth, strategic direction and marketing communications.Challinor, who joins from ADB’s IPTV unit, will be responsible for delivering AirTies ambitious plan to increase global sales and customers.Bulent Celebi, chairman and CEO of AirTies, said, “Having experienced industry veterans forming the core of our commercial team is vital to our growth, strategy and development. Karl & Ian’s abilities, combined with their excellent reputations, will allow AirTies to target major opportunities within our market sector.”
UPC Slovakia has added six channels including ESPN America to its line-up.The US sports channel airs coverage of NHL hockey and NBA basketball matches as well as NASCAR racing events. The cable operator is also adding HD public service channels Jednotku HD and JOJ Plus HD, along with movie channel Filmbox Extra 1 and local channels TV Bratislava and TV Ružinov.UPC Slovakia offers 130 channels, including 13 in high-definition.
Italian media group Mediaset has asked an Italian court to overturn an earlier government decision to postpone the beauty contest for Italian digital TV frequencies, according to newspaper Il Sore 24 Ore.The Berlusconi-family controlled media group was joined by broadcaster Centro Europa 7 in seeking to have the decision revoked, the paper reported.Mediaset was expected to be awarded two of the best slots. The Italian government postponed the beauty contest for new digital-terrestrial TV frequencies while it conducted a full analysis of how the frequencies should be used.
Swedish cable operator Com Hem has named Agnes Reuterskiöld as its new head of consumer sales, effective August 6.Reuterskiöld was previously sales manager for local newspaper group Mitt i Stockholm, having earlier been responsible for direct sales at Viasat.
Polish pay TV operator nc+ is in talks with local cable association PIKE to ensure that cable subscribers to its services are offered the same services and conditions as its satellite customers.nc+ president Julien Verley recently met with PIKE president Jerzy Straszewski to discuss the issue. Verley said that the offer recently made to satellite customers would be extended to cable customers that took Canal Plus services.In an attempt to assuage customer concerns and a high drop-out rate following the merger of the ‘n’ and Cyfra Plus platforms, nc+ has said all customers will now have until the end of their current contract to decide which nc+ packages to subscribe to, and has introduced a new Ekstraklasa package combining access to football coverage with 20 channels as an option.
MultiChoice-owned South African pay TV provider DStv has added sports channel SuperSport 9 to its line-up to replace ESPN, which has ceased broadcasts outside the US.SuperSport 9 will feature a range of US sports previously carried on ESPN, including live college basketball as well as football and boing. It will also offer EFC Fight Nights and action from African domestic football leagues.The channel will be available in the DStv Compact, Extra and Premium packages.
The US National Football League (NFL) has agreed a partnership with YouTube to deliver NFL content to fans around the world. The deal, which was agreed ahead of this Sunday’s Super Bowl final between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, will see the NFL post content on an official NFL YouTube channel.This content will include game previews, in-game highlights, post-game recaps as well as clips featuring news, analysis, fantasy football advice, and other select content from NFL Network and NFL.com.Viewers will be able to access this content through YouTube on PCs, tablets, and mobile phones. The official NFL game highlights and content will also be available through Google Search.“Partnering with YouTube and Google provides the NFL unique access to millions of highly engaged fans through the global leader in video and search,” said Hans Schroeder, senior vice-president, media strategy, business development and sales for the NFL.“We continue to see an insatiable appetite for digital video content, and this partnership further expands fans’ ability to discover and access NFL content throughout the year.”Separately, Level 3 Communications announced that it will provide TV broadcast video services to the NFL and NBC Sports for the Super Bowl final on February 1, as well as additional Super Bowl-related programming, using its Vyvx VenueNet+ technology.This is the 26th consecutive year that Level 3 has provided such services for the Super Bowl, with the firm claiming that a total of more than 3,000 hours of video content will be acquired, encoded and transported across Level 3’s Vyvx VenueNet+ platform as part of the Super Bowl coverage.
Liberty Global-owned German cable operator Unitymedia has added information to its website to inform subscribers about the technical and registration requirements involved in acquiring their own internet routers ahead of the opening up of the Germany market for routers on August 1.Unitymedia has created a specific website and blog to let users know how to set up their routers.The German parliament, the Bundestag, passed a law in November last year that forces ISPs to allow subscribers to choose their own routers or cable modems, giving users ownership of their own consumer premises equipment.
YouTube viewers are now watching a billion hours of content a day on the video service, according to company stats.Announcing the milestone, YouTube said that around the world people are spending a billion hours each day “rewarding their curiosity, discovering great music, keeping up with the news, connecting with their favourite personalities, or catching up with the latest trend”.To put the billion figure into perspective, YouTube said that to sit and watch a billion hours of YouTube would take “over 100,000 years”.“A few years back, we made a big decision at YouTube. While everyone seemed focused on how many views a video got, we thought the amount of time someone spent watching a video was a better way to understand whether a viewer really enjoyed it. It wasn’t an easy call, but we thought it would help us make YouTube a more engaging place for creators and fans,” said YouTube VP of engineering, Cristos Goodfrow.YouTube announced the one billion hours viewing figure in a blog post yesterday and said that it reached the landmark number during 2016.In its most recent quarterly earnings announcement, YouTube’s parent company Alphabet said that every day more than 1,000 YouTube content creators reach the milestone of having 1,000 channel subscribers.On the earnings call, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai also said that the company plans to invest more in subscription service YouTube Red, targeting “more countries, more original content”. The service launched in the US in 2015 and is now available in five countries.
BBC show Life StoryGoogle will have a raft of BBC content on its relaunched Google Earth service.The internet giant is refreshing its maps and mapping service and has struck a deal with BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the UK public broadcaster, and Earth will now have BBC footage from what it calls its Natural Treasures collection.Natural Treasures will sit within a revamped feature on Earth called Voyager, which launches today.Google Earth users will be able to journey through 30 locations via the BBC footage, across six habitats: islands, deserts, grasslands, mountains, cities and jungles.The BBC said users can embark upon curated journeys, with filmed insights from its wildlife producers, imagery and clips from series including Life Story, Africa and Planet Earth II.There will also be video from the BBC’s app The Story of Life including various Sir David Attenborough’s clips.“We’re delighted to be strengthening our decade-long partnership with Google by pursuing a common goal to bring audiences everywhere even closer to our incredible planet,” said Jackie Lee-Joe, chief marketing officer at BBC Worldwide.Through this partnership, we’re leveraging BBC Worldwide’s iconic brand and content to deliver audiences a new way to experience the natural world. The BBC has been capturing and sharing the natural world for over 60 years, and now we’re further innovating how we tell these stories.”