August 22, 2019
  • 12:05 am Changes afoot as Vacationcom sister companies form Travel Leaders Network
  • 11:56 pm Canadian carriers applaud extra money for airport security but want privatization off
  • 11:37 pm Disneys new app does the impossible – it makes waiting in line
  • 11:24 pm MSC Opera departure cancelled following Venice crash
  • 7:08 am New airport terminal boosting business

first_imgEvery picture tells a story which profoundly impacts on the opinions online shoppers have of hotels, according to the latest research commissioned by one of the world’s leading online travel agencies, Expedia®.The research, which used electromyography to gauge shoppers’ eye gaze and facial expressions, discovered that several types of images and image attributes consistently evoked emotional reactions in online shoppers.David Hamblin, the Expedia Group’s senior director of Market Management for Asia Pacific, said: “We know through our own data that hotels with good quality photography in their on-line brochure receive a conversion lift over those which have poorer images.” “The most important image to include is a room with a view. Rooms with windows overlooking an attractive visual scene such as a landmark or beach evoke the most delight in online shoppers and help shoppers see themselves in the context of their trip.”Photographs which are distorted by fisheye lenses or unusual angles evoke the most negative emotions in shoppers as they are viewed with suspicion – as if the hotel has “something to hide,” added Mr Hamblin.In addition to prioritising images of bedrooms with pleasing window views, other findings from the research revealed that hoteliers should follow these tips to maximise conversion opportunities:Include images of secondary spaces (i.e. terrace, restaurant) with attractive vistasEnsure images are well-lit, using natural light wherever possibleDisplay any unique features/attributes of the hotelEnsure rooms/spaces are pristine; avoid clutter and messRemember to include bathroom photosAvoid distorting camera techniquesInclude both close-up and perspective shotsThe research involved shoppers browsing online for hotels that they might like to stay in while their eye-gaze and facial expressions were tracked in real-time using EMG. Whenever there was an elevation in the EMG signal, indicating either delight or negative emotion, the shopper was verbally queried on their reaction to the hotel image. The study encouraged participants to shop in a way that was natural to them, visiting whatever sites and using whatever methods they would as if Expedia researchers weren’t there.Through Expedia Partner Central, an interactive engagement tool for hoteliers, marketing and revenue managers can quickly gauge if their properties require additional images with three different scores showing green, yellow or red.Source = Expedialast_img read more

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first_imgAugust 3, 2009 Welcome to the July 26 Workshop participants! Back row from left: David Gori [seminar week], Jason Kipp, Roni Kobrosly, Ander Bilbao, and Silvia Dal Prato [2 weeks]. Middle row from left: Kevin Bruno [2 weeks], Elijah Rushefsky [seminar week], Filippo Bazzoni [Arcosanti scholarship], Andrea Perletti [2weeks], Claudia Ardolino, and Pasquale Lacovone [Arcosanti scholarship]. Front row from left: Chintana Phenphanh [2 weeks], Valentina Leardi [2 weeks], Dorothy Thurston, Giorgia Aquilar and Marzio DiPace [both 2 weeks], and Claudia Cimino. [Photo: sa & text: Anna Tran]last_img

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first_img21Sep Rep. Kelly co-sponsors resolution honoring Air National Guard Tags: #SB 217th Air Operations Group attends Capitol ceremonyState Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Township, shakes hands with the Air National Guard’s 217th Air Operations Group’s commanding officer, Col. John Miner.Col. Miner, along with 11 airmen, received recognition today in the form of an honorary resolution which reads:“The airmen of the 217th have served with distinction in Operations Juniper Micron, Operation Odyssey Dawn, Operation United Assistance, Operation Enduring Freedom, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Recovery, and numerous training events answering the call for more than 66,700 days of active duty service to their community, state and nation.”center_img Categories: Kelly News,Newslast_img read more

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first_img Tags: #SB Categories: Featured news,Infographics,News,VerHeulen News 16Feb Rep. Rob VerHeulen: 2017-2018 Action Planlast_img

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first_img Categories: Miller News State Rep. Aaron Miller of Sturgis today announced a series of in-district office hours with local residents.“The feedback I receive at these meetings is the most important tool I have when representing the district in Lansing,” Rep. Miller said. “I encourage anyone with concerns or ideas about state or local government to join me for coffee and conversation.”Rep. Miller’s office hours are on Friday, Sept. 15 at the following times and locations:10:30 a.m. to noon at the Broadway Cafe, 158 S. Broadway St. in Cassopolis;1 to 2:15 p.m. at Yoder’s, 375 Eleanor Drive in Centreville; and3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Dawn and Phil’s Cafe, 105 W. State St. in Colon.No appointments are necessary to attend office hours. Those unable to attend may contact Rep. Miller’s office at (517) 373-0832 or AaronMiller@house.mi.gov. 12Sep Rep. Miller schedules September office hourslast_img read more

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first_img20Oct Rep. Farrington urges commuters to plan for I-696 construction in Macomb County State Rep. Diana Farrington has received numerous inquiries concerning construction planned for 2018 on Interstate 696 in Macomb County.Eastbound I-696 will remain open from I-75 to I-94 while the westbound lanes will be closed from I-94 to I-75. The closing of one direction of the freeway will provide a safer work zone for construction crews and drivers.The I-696 freeway carries approximately 150,000 vehicles a day through Macomb County and is in poor condition. A project is currently being designed to replace the concrete on I-696 between I-75 and I-94 beginning in spring 2018 with completion in late 2018.The $90 million project must be completed while funding is available and before the nearby I-75 modernization begins. If delayed, it may be until 2024 before the work could be performed.“We’re now spending a record amount of funding for roads, and when completed, the I-696 project will improve safety and mobility,” said Farrington, of Utica. “I would advise seeking alternate routes and I expect to see an increase in traffic on Hall Road and Metro Parkway once construction begins.”The Michigan Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting on Oct. 24 from 4-7 p.m. at Warren City Hall, 1 City Square, off Van Dyke Avenue, north of 12 Mile Road. The construction team will be on hand to address any concerns.### Categories: Diana Farrington Newslast_img read more

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first_img Legislation is in response to convicted murderer’s actions during Bletsch case The state Senate today unanimously approved Rep. Holly Hughes’ legislation requiring convicted criminals to hear impact statements from victims or their families during a sentencing hearing.The plan was submitted in response to a recent Muskegon County case where the convicted murderer of Rebekah Bletsch requested to leave the court before the victim statements. This legislation would prevent such an action, allowing for a judge to have discretion if the offender is disruptive or a safety risk to anyone attending the hearing in court.“No Michigan family should have their voice taken away by a criminal in the way Rebekah’s loved ones were,” said Hughes, of Montague. “A family of a Muskegon County wife and mother was prevented from speaking about how a convicted murderer turned their lives upside down. Victims have earned the right to speak and that’s not secondary to the right of a convicted murderer.”Rebekah Bletsch’s sister and mother, Jessica Josephson and Debra Reamer, testified during a House Law and Justice Committee meeting in February, supporting the legislation following their experience in the Muskegon County courtroom.The legislation will update the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim Rights Act, which set the procedures currently used in Michigan courtrooms for protection of victims.With Jeffery Willis, the individual convicted of murdering Bletsch, beginning trial this week for a separate murder case, Hughes expects another Muskegon County family will have the opportunity to share how Willis has affected their lives.“Jessica Heeringa’s loved ones must be heard, just like Rebekah’s family should have been,” Hughes said. “An abhorrent monster should never be able to dictate court proceedings, especially after a jury of their peers or a judge has found them guilty. This is not only about punishing criminals, but it’s about helping damaged families heal.”House Bill 5407 advances to the governor for consideration. If enacted, the legislation will be named the Rebekah Bletsch law, in the victim’s honor.##### 10May Senate approves Hughes plan requiring victim impact statements are heard Categories: Hughes News,Newslast_img read more

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first_img20Dec Michigan Legislature approves Rep. Bellino’s plan to make schools safer Rep. Joe Bellino’s plan to help improve school safety across Michigan won final legislative approval today in the state House, and will soon be considered by the governor.Bellino’s bill will help develop consistent and uniform training for law enforcement personnel related to school safety incidents. It’s part of a package establishing a state commission to help review and upgrade building security, create reporting procedures for incidents in schools, and make the OK2SAY school safety program permanent.“Nothing we do is more important than taking steps to keep our kids safe,” said Bellino, of Monroe. “The bottom line: This plan we’re putting in place creates a framework to make our schools more secure than they are today. It’s a continuous process, and it requires a team approach from everyone in our communities all across the state.”Other pieces of the bipartisan plan include:Establishing a liaison within each school district to report to and work with the state – a necessary step to make sure improved safety practices reach every corner of Michigan and ensure local perspectives are included in the process. Emergency operations plans will be adopted for each school building.Requiring schools to submit incident reports to Michigan State Police. The reports will provide state school safety officials with examples of how incidents and were handled to develop best practices for other Michigan schools to follow.Requiring schools to consult with local law enforcement officials prior to major renovations or new construction projects, with the goal of including building safety features.Removing the expiration date for the OK2SAY program, which allows the confidential reporting of tips on potentially harmful or criminal activity directed at students, school employees or school buildings.The school safety package includes House Bills 5828-29 and 5850-52, along with Senate Bills 882, 982-83 and 990-91. Categories: Bellino News,Newslast_img read more

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first_img19Mar House panel votes out Albert’s plan preventing youth e-cigarette usage Initiative bans possession, sales of e-cigs to minors, helps enforce regulationThe House Regulatory Reform Committee today overwhelmingly approved state Rep. Thomas Albert’s safety measure banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, as well as possession by individuals under 18.“For each day that passes without critical action, teenagers across the state are exposing themselves to harmful, addictive products capable of bearing long-term health effects,” said Albert, of Lowell. “Michigan is currently one of two states in the country without any regulation banning the possession and sales of e-cigarettes to minors. We must do better. This legislation is all about keeping vaping devices out of the hands our children and prevent a health crisis down the road.”Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine and flavoring without burning tobacco. Many devices are colorful and designed to look harmless – including a version that looks just like a computer USB flash drive – making them appealing to teens and difficult to detect in schools.The U.S. Surgeon General recently declared youth e-cigarette usage an “epidemic”. In a 2018 Centers for Disease Control survey, roughly one in five high school students reported using such products – up 78 percent from 2017.“This growing epidemic has infested our communities’ K-12 schools, including recent reports of e-cigarette usage by students as early as middle school,” Albert said. “Kids are watching their peers ‘vape’ and assume it’s the ‘cool’ thing to do without knowing the health risks that are associated with these addictive products. Schools and local law enforcement know firsthand how quickly this situation is spiraling out of control. With this vote, we are one step closer to getting this legislation across the finish line and protecting our kids.”The U.S. Food and Drug Administration bans the sale of e-cigarettes to those under 18, but Michigan state law does not. With the adoption of Albert’s plan, law enforcement and schools will have a pathway to keeping addictive, unregulated chemicals off campuses.House Bill 4164 now moves to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration. Categories: Albert Newslast_img read more

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first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesJuly 16, 2014; Milwaukee Journal SentinelFor many years now, there has been a raging debate about whether or not there are too many nonprofit organizations and if we should continue to support new ones as they are created. Now, a study by the Public Policy Forum has begun to put some statistics and analysis in the argument for at least one city: Milwaukee. Overall, the study says that the sector has been growing at a very robust pace and remains quite healthy, but it offers some concerns about the future if the trend towards smaller organizations leads to capacity issues down the line.The Public Policy Forum, with a mission to inform policy-making with independent, nonpartisan research on social issues, released its report, called “Give and you will receive,” last week. The study specifically looks at revenue trends and charitable giving in the nonprofit sector in Milwaukee. The data may appear to be a little out of date, looking at the years 1989 to 2011, but this is the last year for which a full data set is available. A lot of very valuable and interesting information is contained in the study, and it represents a model for other communities to begin to inform the debate about the nonprofit sector and the proliferation of nonprofit organizations. Here are a few key findings:Revenue in Milwaukee’s nonprofit sector rose at an average of 4.5% per year, well above the city’s GDP increase of around 2.3%. The report indicates that this growth has been sustainable and does not represent a “bubble,” but that it is also likely to slow down and settle at the GDP growth rate. There is also some concern about the volatility of the nonprofit sector’s growth rate.Despite this growth trend, the average revenue for an individual organization dropped by 17% between 1989 and 2011. This is attributed by some to the growth in the number of nonprofit organizations in the city. In other words, although the revenue pie has increased, there are more organizations looking for a slice, so the portions are getting smaller.The amount given in charitable contributions each year can be tied to the growth in the GDP, among other factors. For example, if the GDP grows by 1%, charitable giving rises by almost the same amount—0.98%. Conversely, if income taxes rise, charitable giving goes down. This makes sense, according to the study, as when the GDP rises, people have more money to give, and when taxes increase, they have less money to give. The study says this understanding is valuable because it can help nonprofits do analysis of these external trends and make more accurate and reliable projections about revenue. Interestingly, in a time of recession, charitable giving has a tendency to increase, which the study attributes to donors feeling that there is more need in hard economic times and it is their responsibility to respond.The findings in the study are not equal across the nine categories of nonprofit organizations; trends are not the same in the arts, health, education, social service, etc. For example, per-organization revenue has increased in the health category, whereas in almost all of the others, it has decreased.The report correctly identifies the value of the sector, stating quite clearly that nonprofits are not some minor category of organization we can ignore. Instead, the report argues, as government funding is increasingly challenged, it would behoove the community to pay attention to revenue trends and the health of the nonprofit sector, which will be increasingly vital in providing core services for people in need, and to enhance the quality of life overall. So the fact that the sector appears strong at this time is good news.You would not know this from the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, however, which this writer saw as a shockingly poor account of what the Forum is saying. The headline reads, “Rising ranks of nonprofits bring diminishing returns,” and it goes on from there without a single reference to the Forum’s analysis of the current overall health of the sector. Instead, the newspaper article offers a litany of issues, like reduced services, lack of capacity, and the erosion of the sector’s infrastructure.To be sure, the Forum’s report does make some very valid points in identifying what the writers fear could be the results of trends they see. The diminishing annual budget sizes, to them, indicate that organizations could potentially have diminishing capacity to provide services. Their argument is that if this trend continues, there may not be organizations of a size and scope to perform the services the government will need to contract for. This analysis and prediction openly assumes that smaller organizations cannot provide the services in as cost-effective a fashion as nonprofits with greater scale and capacity. It does not, however, look at whether or not smaller organizations are providing better quality service and, if so, whether we should change our thinking and instead find methodologies to distribute the available funds efficiently among those smaller organizations.One recommendation the study makes is for nonprofits of smaller scale to look at collaboration and partnership. The report correctly points out that this is not as easy as it sounds in a time of increasing competition for dollars. It is hard to collaborate when you spend most of your time trying to prove why you should get the money and not that other organization.Towards the end of the Executive Summary of the Forum’s report, a statement neatly captures the tone of the findings:“Overall, Greater Milwaukee has a growing, robust nonprofit sector supported by a donor base willing to fund its endeavors. Nevertheless, our research also uncovers questions about diminishing nonprofit capacity and the long-run viability of larger programs as a result of shrinking per-organization revenue.”The information in the report is very interesting, well beyond what has been captured here. The questions asked are good ones and posed with a tone of respect for all parties involved in decision-making and service provision. Hopefully, it will spark and inform a debate within and about the nonprofit sector, its role, and how it should be supported. These are questions every community should be asking.—Rob MeiksinsShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

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first_imgShare69Tweet13ShareEmail82 Shares Neftali / Shutterstock.com November 7, 2014; New York TimesFinanced by a $50 million grant from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) plans to decrease the incarceration rate in the United States though the launch of a new eight-year political campaign. Focused on making criminal justice reform an issue at the local, state, and national level in upcoming elections, the campaign has seen significant bipartisan success, with major conservative funders, like the Koch brothers, and Alison Holcomb, leader of efforts to legalize marijuana in Washington state, joining forces.The campaign plans to emphasize drug policy, mandatory sentences, and incarceration in the presidential election’s early primary states and to create a state-by-state database to reveal the crimes for which each prisoner is serving. While also targeting promoters of “overincarceration,” the aim of the ACLU campaign is to reduce the incarceration rate by 50 percent by the end of the campaign. Through the tough-on-crime policies of the past several decades, the United States has seen a sharp increase in prison populations, with over 2.2 million currently serving sentences. Many of those serving are results of mandatory sentences of nonviolent crimes, including drug arrests that many view as particularly damaging to poor communities. As put forth by the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization centered around the war on drugs, the current criminal justice system “has actually done more harm than problematic drug use itself, by breaking up families, putting millions of people behind bars, burdening even more people with a life-long criminal record, worsening the health prospects for people who use drugs and significantly compromising public health.” And drug related-crimes aren’t the only area of the criminal justice system that could use an inquisitive eye. A recent report by the Tampa Bay Times found that an intellectual disability can keep accused individuals in Florida state correction facilities without ever receiving an opportunity to argue their innocence. If deemed incompetent to stand trial due to an intellectual disability, defendants have two years to see whether treatment can restore their competence—otherwise, their charges are dismissed. Yet, state officials then determine whether to involuntarily commit the accused, with the alleged crime—a charge that is never proven—often being considered in the determination.The significant financial burden of the failing system is also a major issue, as can be seen in a report from the Congressional Research Service issued April 15, 2014. Federal money allocated to the Bureau of Prisons has risen sharply from $3,668 billion in 2000 to $6.445 billion in 2013. Infrastructure for the growing prison population has also left a backlog of 159 modernization and repair projects, costing approximately $342 million.With such high rates of incarceration and raising system costs, it is easy to see that the current policies are not providing the desired results. But Todd R. Clear, criminologist and provost of Rutgers University-Newark, cautions that for the incarceration rate to decrease by 50 percent, significant reform would need to encompass vast changes in both nonviolent and violent criminal charges. Upcoming elections and future regulation will determine whether the goal of 50 percent rate reduction can be achieved by the end of the ACLU campaign.—Michele BittnerShare69Tweet13ShareEmail82 Shareslast_img read more

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first_imgShare30TweetShareEmail30 SharesNovember 24, 2014; Indian Country TodayNPQ recently wrote about the nonprofit boarding school in South Dakota that has been employing an ethically questionable “poverty porn” scheme for the past several years, using letters ostensibly written by children describing the hardships of their lives to solicit donations. St. Joseph’s Indian School, a school working with troubled students and families of Native American descent, has accumulated more than $100 million from 2013 to 2014 in unrestricted contributions through direct mailings. After significant backlash over the revelation that these “children” are fictitious amalgams, St. Joseph’s has come forward saying they will suspend the mailings, yet does not admit any kind of wrongdoing.While the school has been profiled in the past for the fundraising campaign, a report from CNN last week seems to have caused the story to go viral, bringing an end to the questionable mailings. Following the report by CNN, the school’s attorney, Steven Smith, told the Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN), “Fundraising letters like this will never, ever be part of their fundraising approach again. A great lesson was learned. It has caused some pretty intense introspection.”However, introspection did not seem to be on the mind of St. Joseph’s current president, Michael Tyrell, who alleges that CNN came into the report with an agenda and “tried to pin on [them] that [they] are making things up, and that’s not the case.”When prompted to explain whether the children quoted in the mailings were real children, Tyrell said, “Those are real stories, but it would be hard to pin them on any one child. We put right on there, ‘the child’s name has been changed to protect the children.’ Those are unfortunate and true stories.”Tyrell seems to give two different, contradictory answers to a simple question. In the first sentence, he seems to be saying what Kory Christianson, the director of development, was originally quoted by CNN as saying: These specific children that are being quoted are not real, but their stories and the children living those lives are very real. In the next sentence, Tyrell backtracks and says the children are real; however their names have been changed to protect their identity, as noted in the mailings.However, one of the letters, sent by St. Joseph’s and attributed to a child named Josh Little Bear, includes a picture of the supposed child. If that is not Josh Little Bear, and indeed it is most likely not, then who is that child? If the purpose of changing the name was to hide the child’s identity, then why provide a picture if not to complete the aesthetic effect of the letter, which is to create the identity and profile of a troubled child to elicit sympathy in the form of donations?ICTMN also delves into the financial aspects of the mailing, which has generated $51 million in contributions in 2013, according to the annual report, and another $51 million this past fiscal year. An analysis by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a nonprofit that reviews organizations to further community trust, found that St. Joseph’s failed three of the BBB’s standards for accountability. Along with the misleading mailings, BBB also took issue with the proportion of the school’s expenses that are used for program services. BBB requires that 67 percent of the total expenses be used for program services. The most recent financial report from 2014 indicates that only 54 percent of the total expenses are used for program services, which include education activities and cultural education as well as expenses for the prayer program.In response to ICTNM’s question about the consistently low percentage of revenue being funneled into program services, Tyrell defends that the school is saving money for the future:“We have been criticized about our direct mail, but the whole mail system might not be out there in 10 years, 20 years. Can we begin to start an endowment, put some money aside so the good works can go on in perpetuity? If we show some prudence, people question us on that. If we don’t have any money, people question us on that. This allows us to get ahead.”St. Joseph’s decision to halt the letters comes after public backlash not only by those questioning the ethics of the mailings, but also by Native Americans who were offended by the exploitative campaign. From the neighboring Crow Creek tribe, tribal councilwoman Roxanne Sazue told ICTMN about the impact the school has had on the tribe, “There’s good and there’s bad. The school has really benefitted the tribes. Sometimes children need a residential setting and when the younger kids need stability, it’s good. The high school program is pretty phenomenal. The whole problem is how they exploit our children. They have caused the tribes a black eye.”NPQ would love to hear opinions from our readers on the fundraising ethics of this situation.—Shafaq HasanShare30TweetShareEmail30 Shareslast_img read more

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first_imgShare26TweetShareEmail26 SharesJune 19, 2015; The AtlanticDid you know that Mitt Romney in 2007 called for South Carolina to ditch the Confederate battle flag as its state flag? Back then, Romney said, “That flag, frankly, is divisive, and it shouldn’t be shown.” He did so again this past week, telling South Carolina’s Republican leadership that the time for the Stars and Bars was over. “Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims,” he tweeted on Saturday.Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol. To many, it is a symbol of racial hatred. Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) June 20, 2015In the wake of the massacre of Emanuel AME Church worshippers by Dylann Roof, most of Republican presidential candidates found themselves unable to follow Romney’s lead:Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, declared the flag controversy “an issue for the people of South Carolina…not an issue for a person running for president,” and that Republican presidential candidates were being “baited” with the question.The two Floridians in the race, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio, chose to trust the wisdom of the South Carolina electorate, with Bush expressing confidence that South Carolina would “do the right thing” and Rubio saying he thought the state would “make the right choice for the people of South Carolina.” As governor, however, Bush removed the Confederate flag from the state capitol in Tallahassee.South Carolina’s homegrown entrant in the presidential sweepstakes, Senator Lindsey Graham, actually defended the Stars and Bars as “part of who we are.”Ohio governor John Kasich took a middle-ground position, indicating that the decision was up to the people of South Carolina, but if he were a resident of South Carolina, he’d favor getting rid of the flag.Governor Scott Walker handled the flag question the way he did the question of his attitude toward evolution—with silence (though he acknowledged that Roof’s killing spree was motivated by racism).One of the most interesting reactions came from former Texas governor Rick Perry, whose administration fought an effort of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to get approval of Stars and Bars Texas license plates. (Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was within the power of the state to reject the Confederate flag vanity plates.) Although the SCOTUS decision came after Perry was out of office, the rejection of the vanity plates was when he was in office. Although like the other states’ righters running for president, he also said the decision was up to the voters of South Carolina, he expressed a clear opinion: “The people of the state of Texas, we dealt with those issues,” in a state that is no less rock-ribbed Republican than South Carolina. At least Perry distinguished himself from Justice Samuel Alito, who defended the plates as a mechanism of free speech. Perry’s rejection of the Sons of Confederate Veterans basically amounts to a message that the organization can believe whatever it wants to believe, but the state government of Texas doesn’t have to be a party to their propagating the symbol and implicit message of the Confederate flag.The meaning of the Confederate flag is (or, at least, should be) an issue for those nonprofits that find racist terrorism intolerable. Before the appearance of Dylann Roof in the consciousness of the American public, two members of the NAACP of Limestone County called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the county courthouse. In response, a nonprofit called Alabama Flaggers organized a rally in support of the flag, which Flagger member Freda Burton defended in this way: “This flag doesn’t hurt anybody. It doesn’t reach out and bite you in the leg or shoot anyone.”Actually, Ms. Burton, the Confederate flag does hurt. It is a symbol of the racism that is metastasizing in American society, putting the lie to the idea that ours is a post-racial society. In Governor Perry’s Texas, the city of Beaumont and its neighbors maintain a rigid track record of racial segregation. In the town of Orange, outside of Beaumont, a group is building a Confederate Memorial museum that will have a number of Confederate flags visible from the nearby Interstate. Emblematic of the racial separation and segregation that envelops much of Beaumont, the flag is a symbol that says, like Roof did, that it is time for African Americans to go away.If nonprofits are, in general, truly committed to eradicating racial discrimination and racial violence, their strategy will have to include eradicating public symbols such as the Confederate flag that tell blacks that they are or should be second-class citizens and encourage the likes of Dylann Roof to carry out their personal fantasies of a whites-only society.—Rick CohenShare26TweetShareEmail26 Shareslast_img read more

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first_imgShare5TweetShareEmail5 SharesOctober 6, 2015; Washington PostNPQ has written quite a bit over the last five or six years about the transgressions of for-profit colleges that promised much and delivered little in terms of graduation rates to their often low-income students, leaving them with impossible debt and employment prospects insufficient to pay it off. Couple this with bounty-paid, hard sell recruiters and you have an ethical nightmare that can deeply affect the lives of those least able to afford such a hit.Since 1992, new regulations that sought to make these schools more accountable for fulfilling their commitments have been promulgated at the federal level, and the reputation of for-profit colleges has taken a beating. All of a sudden, a number of formerly for-profit institutions got the nonprofit bug. Now, in a beautifully written and well-researched report for the Century Foundation, aptly named The Covert For-Profit: How College Owners Escape Oversight through a Regulatory Blind Spot, Robert Shireman not only exposes the “conversions” of four colleges—Herzing University, Remington Colleges, Everglades College, and the Center for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE)—from for-profit to nonprofit as frauds, but he also discusses beautifully the differences between the sectors in terms that are unusually clear. This is elemental to his thesis, that the inauthenticity of these conversions puts students at continuing risk of falling victim to profiteering by the very same folk who owned the for-profits those institutions evolved from.Don’t hold your breath for regulation from either the IRS or the Department of Education, writes Shireman, himself a former Department of Education official and reportedly the chief architect of Obama’s crackdown on for-profit colleges. The IRS rarely audits nonprofits for violations of the nonprofit purpose as reflected in things like governing practices, and as long as the IRS is good with it, he writes, so will the DOE be.In looking at each of these institutions, Shireman carefully documents spoken commitments against reality, as in the case of Everglades College below. NPQ’s Rick Cohen wrote about Kaiser University’s conversion to Everglades in 2011, looking at the school’s practical reasons for the conversion, but the resulting institution, as we discussed this year, has almost no claim to the nonprofit label.Shireman’s research shows the veneer of nonprofitness in these institutions to be thin to the point of complete transparency with obvious conflicts of interest everywhere:But Shireman, as mentioned earlier, does a particularly poignant job in describing the differences between the nonprofit versus the for-profit intention as evidenced through practice:The unpaid trustees are seen as such a bulwark against abuse that the organizations are, in some cases, allowed to engage in practices that would be illegal in a for-profit context. Many nonprofits, for example, involve vast numbers of people who work for free as volunteers, a practice that is highly restricted in the for-profit environment. Imagine a supermarket or snack food chain enlisting two million underage girls to sell cookies: the operation would be shut down and the companies would be prosecuted. Yet the nonprofit Girl Scouts do exactly that every year, selling 175 million overpriced cookies baked by for-profit contractor bakeries. This “child labor” is not illegal because the Girl Scouts councils are nonprofit: their unpaid boards are trusted to engage in this cookie selling, which they believe benefits the girls and is consistent with the values of the organization. Compared to the supermarket owner or cookie baker, the Girl Scout councils are far more likely to make decisions that truly benefit the girls—because council members do not have a personal financial interest. They are not allowed to keep the money for themselves.The nonprofit organization that runs Wikipedia offers a different type of example of how being a nonprofit affects the decisions that are made. While Facebook, Google, and other investor-owned Internet companies have all decided to take and sell our personal data for profit, Wikipedia has, remarkably, respected users’ anonymity. Wall Street types, salivating over Wikipedia’s billions of page views and massive troves of salable user data, think the people who run the organization are completely nuts. One analyst detailed all of the ways that Wikipedia could earn money, from selling advertisements to t-shirts, and calculated the website’s lost revenue at $2.8 billion a year—forty-six times the organization’s current income.Shireman writes that if Wikipedia were a for-profit, “the temptation to grab nearly $3 billion would be impossible to resist, even though it would destroy Wikipedia as we know it. Instead, Wikipedia has kept consumers’ interests at the forefront because it is a nonprofit organization. It is a different beast as a result of being structured without owner-investors.”Everglades College pretty clearly still has owner-investors, a fact which originally gave the IRS pause in terms of approving its tax-exempt status, but now that it has it, as Shireman says, the system is likely to move slowly if at all to revoke it.But, he writes, the public is harmed in a number of ways by this subterfuge—students are shortchanged, taxes are lost, and the regulatory environment for education is less than effective.Most of the recommendations Shireman advances are aimed at the secretary of education who he thinks should immediately:Aggressively review recent nonprofit conversions to determine regulatory compliancePlace a moratorium on Department of Education approval of any additional institutions seeking to be treated as nonprofitRevise the documentation and assertions required of institutions claiming nonprofit statusSeek the assistance of states and accreditors to identify any institutions that are claiming to be nonprofit but may be operating in a manner that inappropriately benefits an individual or shareholder—Ruth McCambridgeShare5TweetShareEmail5 Shareslast_img read more

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first_imgShare3TweetShare3Email6 SharesPixabay. Public domain.May 31, 2017; Al JazeeraSame song, different verse. Egypt joined a chorus of countries tightening restrictions on nonprofits operating in their countries with foreign funding support when President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi signed a law this week that would punish offenders with up to five years of imprisonment.According to Al Jazeera, the law could affect more than 47,000 NGOs operating in Egypt.The law strictly controls NGOs, including those in the realm of social and development work, and makes it difficult for charities to deliver services. It bans domestic and foreign groups from engaging in rights work or anything that can be said to harm national security, public order, public morals, or public health.Egypt’s civil society groups have criticized the bill since the Egyptian parliament approved it in November 2016 and speculated whether it will ever come into effect. For months, the president held off on signing and enacting the law, which was never presented to the public for debate.The 87-article law introduces a state regulatory committee—the National Authority for the Regulation of Non-Governmental Foreign Organizations—whose mandate will include monitoring any NGO that receives foreign funding. It must also be notified about local funding.NPQ has reported widely on crackdowns on NGOs with foreign funding in countries like India, Turkey, and many others. But, although attacks on international funding are usually the beginning of a wider crackdown on civil society, according to 2015 research on the “Closing Space Challenge” from the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, the situation in Egypt has already begun to deteriorate, especially since the president ordered a state of emergency last month following terror attacks. (El-Sisi’s enactment of the state of emergency came six years after the Arab Spring, when protesters called for an end to a previous state of emergency that lasted for three decades under Hosni Mubarak and ended in 2012.)Egypt’s human rights situation also differs from countries like Russia because the country receives foreign aid from the U.S., as Al Jazeera reported:According to Sarah Yerkes, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Sisi’s attempt at controlling Egypt’s sociopolitical sphere at this time “was certainly influenced by what he perceives as a strengthened U.S.-Egyptian relationship.”Last month, Sisi travelled to Washington for the first time since taking office in 2014. Relations between the two nations had soured amid Sisi’s crackdown on opponents and Egypt’s human rights abuses. Since the visit, Egypt has been negotiating billions of dollars in aid to help revive its economy.“The Trump administration has made clear that they will not put any pressure on Sisi to protect the rights of his citizens,” Yerkes told Al Jazeera. “However, this [enactment] may be a miscalculation on Sisi’s part, as the primary critics of Sisi’s crackdown on human rights are Members of Congress who have the power to restrict US foreign aid to Egypt.”Indeed, at an April 25th hearing in Washington, “a bipartisan panel of experts ripped Egypt as a floundering authoritarian state…and urged Congress to rethink its annual $1.5 billion aid package,” Al-Monitor reported.Thus, the devastating development for Egyptians could become a political football in Washington as deliberations for the 2018 federal budget get underway.—Anna BerryShare3TweetShare3Email6 Shareslast_img read more

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first_imgShare66TweetShareEmail66 SharesBy Moxy – Own work Michelle Caron, CC BY-SA 3.0, LinkOctober 7, 2018; Indian Country Today, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and Muskogee PhoenixTraditions that “appear or claim to be old are often quite recent in origin and sometimes invented,” noted the late famed British historian Eric Hobsbawm. Hobsbawm was writing primarily about Great Britain and Europe, but the same process plays out in the United States as well. The first expedition of Christopher Columbus to the Americas landed in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. But the United States did not celebrate Columbus Day as a federal holiday until more than a century-and-a-half after the nation’s independence, in 1937.A big part of the reason why Columbus Day became a holiday involved the lobbying efforts of Italian Americans, who faced widespread discrimination in the early twentieth century. A 1911 federal task force called the Dillingham Commission issued a 41-volume report that claimed, among other calumnies, that criminality was “inherent in the Italian race.”Columbus is widely believed to be from the Italian port city of Genoa (even if some scholarship disputes this), so when Italian Americans gained political power, they successfully advocated for the holiday. In most cities where Columbus Day parades persist today, these are less about Columbus, the person, than Italian-American heritage. In the New York Times, Christina Caron quotes one Italian American professor who condemns the genocidal acts of Columbus but avers, “Columbus as a mythical figure is a completely different thing.”Still, the facts regarding Columbus the person and the genocide he initiated are impossible to ignore. The holiday, while helping Italian Americans become white, did so at the expense of American Indians. “The man who discovered America for Europe routinely tortured slaves and starved his subjects in colonies on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola,” writes Graham Kelly of the Independent. Roberto Borrero, the president of the United Confederation of Taíno People, tells Caron, “For us, the bottom line is Columbus Day is just a celebration of genocide.” More than 85 percent of an estimated three million Taíno inhabitants of the Caribbean had died due to a combination of Spanish violence and disease (especially smallpox) by the early 1500s.The emerging tradition of Indigenous People’s Day began to gain ground in the early 1990s. South Dakota became the first state in the nation to establish Native Americans’ Day in 1990. Berkeley, California chose on the 500th anniversary of the landing of Columbus in 1992 to declare Indigenous People’s Day as a holiday. As Jourdan Bennett-Begaye writes in Indian Country Today, now “60 cities (and counting), four states (Minnesota, Vermont, Alaska, and South Dakota) and many college and university campuses officially [have] declared the second Monday of October as Indigenous People’s Day.” Cities making the switch in 2018 include Tacoma, Washington; Rochester, New York; and San Francisco, California. Last year, Nashville, Tennessee; Austin, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Los Angeles County, California’s most populous county, all added the holiday. The Cherokee nation has also adopted Indigenous People’s Day as its own national holiday.Writing in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Ronnie Pollack, executive director of the city’s Native American Cultural Center, explains the significance of the new holiday:Sadly, what is taught from an historical and current perspective is that we, Native Americans, are no longer here. We are often spoken of in the past tense. We have been invisible far too long on our own land…[…]It is important for truth to be taught.…Mistruths are hurtful; however, righting wrongs is movement towards healing. Healing is imperative to our traditions. We believe that without healing, inclusive of forgiveness, you cannot achieve wholeness.—Steve DubbShare66TweetShareEmail66 Shareslast_img read more

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first_imgMedia services provider Farncombe has acquired the MiriATE consumer device test automation assets of Mirifice, which recently went into liquidation.Farncombe will re-brand and re-launch the platform in early 2013.The company has used MiriATE for a number of years. It acquired Mirifice’s Professional Services business in 2010.  Farncombe said it saw demand for a number of value-added services around MiriATE, including training and scripting support. It has developed a new real-time web-based reporting tool and is in the process of testing a number of new features, it said.Farncombe will continue to support Mirifice’s existing clients, which include the UK’s Digital Television Group.Gary Marshall, managing partner for engineering services at Farncombe, said that the company was currently reviewing its automation solution in close collaboration with MiriATE clients. “We possess a considerable amount of in-house expertise, having provided professional services to the MiriATE client base for a number of years. Following a consultation period, we will announce a detailed roadmap for test automation in 2013,” he said. “We are confident that this will enable the TV industry to take a significant step forward with the introduction of large-scale, cost-effective test automation deployments.”last_img read more

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first_imgGerman OTT service Watchever has inked a programming deal with CBS Studios International.The Vivendi-backed on-demand service will get a raft of series from the CBS US network and its cable stablemate Showtime. Titles include 90210, Nurse Jackie, Numb3rs and Californication as well as older shows including Twin Peaks.France-based entertainment conglomerate Vivendi launched Watchever in January. The subscription TV series and movie-based service is priced at €8.99 a month. Content can be watched in English or with a German dub.The service competes with Lovefilm although chief content officer, Anne-Carole Nourisson, recently said there is space for more than one player in the German market. “We’re not looking to steal or buy market share from existing players, we see there are gaps that can be filled by players like ourselves,” she said at an industry event.last_img read more

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first_imgNangu.TV will exhibit at ANGA COM at in hall 10.1, booth N36 IPTV and OTT services platform provider, Nangu.TV, has completed the migration of O2’s TV customers in the Czech Republic to the Nangu.TV Media Platform.Nangu.TV started working with O2 last summer when the operator re-launched its Czech TV service, and through its Media Platform provides functionality like video-on-demand, time shift TV, recording and remote functionality.Nangu.TV started implementing its platform for new O2 TV subscribers via IP4TV set-top boxes. However, it has now also migrated O2’s existing customer base of 130,000 households, who use ADB3800 set-top boxes to the new Nangu.TV platform.The Media Platform is designed to eliminate the need for operator investment in backend infrastructure, enabling services to be deployed quickly.As well as IPTV, operators can use the platform to deliver content over any internet connection to multiscreen devices, optimising delivery through adaptive streaming functionality.“One of the big advantages of working with Nangu.TV is the ability to implement its new HD GUI and all the advanced nonlinear services that Nangu.TV’s platform provides for the ADB3800 set-top boxes.  The platform enabled us to immediately migrate our O2 TV customers without them needing to exchange their set-top boxes, which is a huge advantage,” said 02 marketing director David Duron.Nangu.tv CEO Jakub Kabourek added: “The nangu.TV mission is to provide our customers with a great tool for interactive TV distribution and we strongly believe IPTV is the best way to do this. Customers in today’s multiscreen, connected world expect to have content everywhere, on demand and we’re delighted to be able to deliver that.”last_img read more

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first_imgAnke Schäferkordt and Guillaume de PoschRTL Group has paid €107 million to take a 65% majority stake in US video advertising platform SpotXchange. The German media group said the deal establishes it as the first major broadcaster to invest in the rapidly growing market of programmatic online video advertising.It said that it also marks the next step of RTL Group’s strategy to become “a leading player in all segments of online video and online video advertising.”“Following our investments in non-linear TV services and in multi-channel networks on YouTube, RTL Group has already become the leading European media company in terms of online video views. The logical next step in our strategy is a structural move into the area of digital monetisation – improving our skills by adding innovative data- and technology-based competencies,” said RTL Group’s co-CEOs in a statement, Anke Schäferkordt and Guillaume de Posch.SpotXchange was founded in 2007 and its video ad monetisation platform is used by hundreds of publishers around the world, including The Atlantic, Hearst Corporation, Meredith Video Studios, Mail Online and Adaptive Media.Along with the initial payment, RTL has agreed an earn-out component that could increase the initial consideration dependent on the future performance of SpotXchange. RTL Group has also reserved the right to acquire the remaining shareholding in the business in the future.Subject to US competition authority approval, the deal is expected to close by the end of August.last_img read more

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