Categories: Hughes News,News 20Jan Rep. Hughes resolution on veterans health care approved by state House LANSING – A resolution authored by Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague, which addresses red tape hampering military veterans’ health care options was approved by the state House today.House Concurrent Resolution 7 encourages the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the U.S. Congress to create a pilot program in Michigan that would institute a Veterans Choice Card system similar to a traditional health care program for all Michigan veterans.The resolution is in response to problems that arose after the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act was passed by U.S. Congress in 2014. The act allowed that any veteran who lives more than 40 miles from a Veterans Affairs clinic can obtain care – paid for by the V.A. – at a local medical facility. However, if a veteran lives within 40 miles of a clinic but needs specialist care not available at the clinic, then the veteran could not access the program.“While the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 was a good start, more needs to be done to address the health and well-being of our veterans,” said Rep. Hughes. “I hope our leaders at the federal level will take this idea to heart, as our veterans deserve better than to be told to drive hundreds of miles for care when they can get the same or better care at a private provider. There should be no red tape when it comes to health care for our veterans.”Dave Eling, director of the Muskegon County Department of Veterans Affairs, testified in support of the resolution before the House Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs.“This choice has huge ramifications to our veterans when they don’t have a choice,” said Eling. “This resolution will hopefully encourage the federal government to allow Michigan to be a trial state to give veterans a choice where they receive they receive their health care.”HCR 7 was approved by the state House initially in 2015, then accepted by the Senate with minor revisions on Jan. 14. With the House’s approval today, copies of the resolution will be sent to President Barack Obama, U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.#####
Categories: Hughes News,News 08Feb Rep. Hughes encourages Muskegon County to enjoy Free Fishing Weekend Rep. Holly Hughes is calling on Muskegon County residents to safely enjoy the state’s Free Fishing Weekend on Feb. 13-14.“Whether it’s Muskegon Lake, Mona Lake or any other of the small lakes within our county, there are plenty of opportunities to safely enjoy the outdoors during Free Fishing Weekend,” said Rep. Hughes. “I encourage everyone to take this opportunity to go ice fishing or visit any state-managed park to enjoy many family-friendly activities free of charge.”The event is sponsored by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. A listing of Free Fishing Weekend activities is online at www.michigan.gov/freefishingRep. Hughes also emphasizes caution during the weekend, especially on ice surfaces that can be affected by the current mild winter. Potential anglers are asked to speak with area guides or outdoor businesses for information on ice conditions as well as taking care when observing large cracks or fissures on the ice, never going out on the ice alone and informing a friend or family member where you will be.The summer Free Fishing Weekend is currently scheduled for June 11-12.
State Rep. Roger Hauck of Union Township today encouraged residents of Midland and Isabella counties to take advantage of Free Fishing Weekend on June 10 and 11.The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites residents and out-of-state visitors to fish without a license during the weekend, giving parents and grandparents an opportunity to introduce youngsters to a new and fun summer activity.“As a fisherman myself, I enjoy the many rivers, streams and lakes in Mid-Michigan, not to mention the excellent fishing opportunities in the entire Great Lakes Bay Region,” Rep. Hauck said. “Free Fishing Weekend is a chance to take advantage of the natural beauty that surrounds our great state.”Fishing license fees will be waived for two days, although all fishing regulations will still apply.For more information about Free Fishing Weekend, visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing, or contact Rep. Hauck by calling 517-373-1789 or via email at RogerHauck@house.mi.gov. 02Jun Rep. Hauck encourages residents to take advantage of Free Fishing Weekend Categories: Hauck News
Bipartisan solution would expose potential conflicts of interestState Rep. Steve Marino today announced a bipartisan plan to increase the transparency and accountability of elected state officials in Michigan.Marino, of Harrison Township, said the plan will expose potential conflicts of interest by requiring candidates for and officeholders of the legislative, executive and judicial branches to fill out a financial disclosure form.“Requiring financial transparency from elected officials will expose potential conflicts of interest and deter corruption,” Marino said. “The public deserves access to this information so they can hold public officeholders accountable.”Michigan is one of just two states without a law requiring elected officials or candidates to disclose their personal finances.Marino said the eight-bill solution announced today would require elected officials and candidates for state-level offices to disclose sources of income; stocks, investments and real estate assets owned; business associations above certain thresholds; and any relatives registered as lobbyists. The same information would be required for the filer’s spouse and any dependent children.“This plan provides all of the necessary financial information,” Marino said. “Citizens will be able to read the form and easily see where the people they elect have financial interests and potential conflicts.”If enacted, the disclosure rules would apply to candidates and legislators in the state House and Senate, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, circuit court judges, court of appeals judges, state board of education members and elected state university board members.### Categories: Marino News 16May Rep. Marino plan requires financial transparency from elected officials
Share18Tweet11ShareEmail29 Shares“Rent strike in Sunset Park,” Michael FleshmanJune 11, 2018; Next CityRachel Kaufman’s article “Rent Strikes Heating up Nationwide, Say Tenant Organizers” starts with an appropriate note of nostalgia. The trend that Kaufman identifies is based on stories in the Washington Post and the Toronto Star, but any quick perusal of the internet could find dozens of other examples of tenants taking direct action against gentrification by withholding their rents.The very term “rent strike” rings a 1960s chime, but rent strikes actually go back to at least the turn of the last century when Progressive Era unrest in East Coast cities precipitated rent-withholding campaigns, most notably in New York City. In the absence of any local government regulations of rents or housing conditions, renters emulated their labor union cousins and challenged landlords to accept financial losses from unpaid rents and the cost of eviction or capitulate to tenant demands. Back then, the issue wasn’t gentrification of tenement slums; it was simple affordability.Three features make rent strikes an attractive tactic to renters and organizers.Low cost. Simply not paying the rent doesn’t require a lawyer or organizer.Fairness and equity. Tenants perceive a natural balance in the exchange of rent for services. That common sense equity is an easy proposition to “sell” to the general publicHigh engagement and solidarity. Mass participation provides some “safety in numbers” and some opportunities for everyone to make a contribution. The social roots of rent strikes are critical to success.Advocates are often warier of rent strikes as a be-all, end-all tactic. For many activists, rent strikes are the “casework” of social change. The Star quotes City Councilor Gord Perks as saying that “rent strikes are a temporary solution.” According to Councilor Perks, “It’s good that this particular group of tenants and the previous group of tenants who participated in a rent strike have been able to win some concessions…[B]ut I believe we need a larger structural solution because I can tell you for every one person who’s succeeded in avoiding an above-guideline rent increase, I’m hearing from 10 who haven’t.”Advocates and organizers agree that keeping a grassroots movement together is a lot of work. There are too many ways for free riders to join the effort and for “turncoats” to undermine the resolve of the rent strikers. In many case, laws enacted to protect tenants’ rights have made old fashioned rent withholding much more complex. Organizers, lawyers and bookkeepers may be required to keep the effort on track…more like a corporation than a mass action.Last year, NPQ profiled the emergence of the “Renter Nation” movement in connection with eviction reform. “Renter Nation” arises from the post-Recession reality of a growing number of households across the country choosing rental housing instead of homeownership. Two types of renter networks capture this movement. The Homes for All (HFA) campaign provides online training, mutual support, and technical assistance to local organizations around the country. The Nation recently invited readers to “Meet the Rising New Housing Movement That Wants to Create Homes for All.” On a smaller geographic scale, Los Angeles’ Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) provides professional organizing services to local rent-strikers and acts as a lobby voice at local and state government levels. For both CES and HFA, rent strikes are the entry level for tenant activists to grow into broader civic involvement. At the same time, both networks are supported by grassroots involvement rather than top-down professional advocates.Networks that encompass a range of policy interests or span a range of localities around the country can overcome the limitations of the traditional site- and issue-specific rent strike.Recent legislative setbacks like the defeat of just cause protections for California renter households or the reversal of the Seattle head tax show that the Finance, Investor, Real Estate, Developer (FIRED) lobby is pushing back against elected officials who are pledged to support their voting constituents. In both cases, money appears to have tipped the balance against voter interests. Still, the fact that the FIRED lobby has to play defense in multiple cities suggests that the Renter Nation is coming of age. While tenant politics must evolve new strategies (e.g., citizen initiatives and electoral politics), grassroots tenants engagement in the form of a rent strike can provide the fuel needed to build a national movement.—Spencer WellsShare18Tweet11ShareEmail29 Shares
Beltelecom’s Zala TV service has passed the 400,000 subscriber mark, according to the Belarusian telco.The news follows expansion of the availability of the Zala TV service in the Mogilev region, where the service has about 56,500 subscribers.
The BBC has launched live and on-demand broadcasts of Euro 2012 football on mobile phones in time for England’s match against Sweden today.Viewers can now watch all Euro 2012 matches broadcast by the BBC live and on-demand via iPhones, iPod touches with iOS version 5.0 and above and on the iPad and on Android devices with OS 2.2 or above. Games will be available via 3G or via WiFi.The BBC has also redesigned its sport homepage for mobile devices to showcase the video and also to align the mobile portal with the new-look BBC Sport website launched in February.The BBC has developed its new services for mobile using its new ‘responsive design’ approach, which adapts what’s on screen to the mobile device’s screen size and capability.The BBC said it would now offer other sports events, including Wimbledon and the Olympics, on mobile as well.“Audience research shows that users are increasingly looking to the web on the go, getting the content they want when, and where, they want it,” said Lucie Mclean, senior product manager in BBC Future Media in a blog posting. “Huge numbers of people already enjoy live and demand video on their desktop, at home or office, and text and data services on their mobile. By offering video across mobile devices we aim to give sport fans the complete picture wherever they are.”
History HD is to launch in Greece for the first time following a deal between A+E Networks UK and Greek pay TV operator OTE TV.The channel will be available via satellite and IPTV.Tom Davidson, managing director at A+E Networks UK, said: “Greece is a country with a rich and fascinating history so there is no better place to launch our high definition History channel. Extending the reach of History to new audiences in Europe is a continuing priority for us and we believe that our channel adds tremendous value to our affiliates’ offering.”
The total number of pay TV subscribers in western Europe has fallen for the first time ever. New research from DTVE publisher Informa Telecoms & Media reveals that there were 92.6 million pay TV subscribers across the region at end-2012, a year-on-year decline of 380,000.Challenging economic times in the region were largely to blame for the cumulative subs reverse, according to Informa.That is significant given the received wisdom that, in tough times, consumers retain pay TV subscriptions while cutting back on other entertainment and discretionary spend.Informa Telecoms & Media research manager Adam Thomas said the numbers should serve as a wake-up call to the pay TV industry.“This is the first drop in subscriber numbers since pay TV launched in Europe in the 1980s, so it is certainly a significant moment,” he said. “It’s a wake-up call to the industry that confirms pay TV growth is no longer insulated against economic downturns. The heaviest losses were experienced in markets like Italy and Spain, where the Eurozone crisis has been hitting hard.”The number of pay TV subs went down in four of Western Europe’s big five territories of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.The UK, where BSkyB is the runaway pay TV leader, was the sole bright spot, recording 190,000 additions across all platforms.Italy was by far hardest hit as IPTV services Fastweb and Wind closed and Sky Italia shed subscribers. Overall, the number of pay TV subs fell by 800,000 year-on-year in 2012.Spain was the next hardest hit and lost 261,000 pay subs. Germany was down 180,000 and France just edged into negative territory, with subs down 3,000.However, Informa sounded a positive note and predicted that just as pay TV subscribers have declined in line with economic conditions, there will be an uptick as economic conditions improve.“There were a fairly unique set of fiscal circumstances in play last year and, as economic recovery kicks in, pay TV subscriber numbers will return to growth,” said Ted Hall, a senior analyst at Informa. “We are forecasting that the pay TV total will rise to 93.9 million this year, so, while the 2012 drop injects some caution, there is no suggestion the wheels are coming off the pay TV bandwagon.”The pay TV analysis and detailed forecasts are contained in Informa’s Western European TV report, which is published today.
Over-the-top TV platform specialist Nangu.TV has named Zdeněk Gerlický as chief technology officer.Gerlický joined Alnair, the intellectual property owner of Nangu.TV, in 2006 as a middleware system developer for the IPTV platform. He became team leader of the Java development team in 2010.Gerlický said: “Nangu.TV has expanded significantly over the past two years. I look forward to using my experience working on the platform to further our stronghold in the market.”
Over 45% of European broadband customers connecting to Akamai in the fourth quarter of 2012 did so via internet connections at speeds of 4Mbps or above, according to the global CDN provider’s latest State of the Internet survey.According to Akamai, among European countries, Switzerland and the Netherlands ranked number two and three globally for broadband connections, had 82% of all connections at 4Mbps or above.The Czech Republic, number six globally, came next in Europe with 72% of connections above 4Mbps.Only Turkey and Italy saw broadband speed progress go into reverse, with the number of 4Mbps-plus connections down 0.2% in both countries.Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden topped the European rankings for internet connections of 10Mbps or above, with 23%, 21% and 19% of connections above that threshold respectively.Average peak connection speeds grew by 10% across Europe, led by the UK, up 44% to 30.5Mbps, Spain, up 40% to 27.8Mbps and Austria, up 40% to 25.9Mbps.Romania led the pack overall for average peak connection speed during the quarter, at 42.6Mbps.Almost 700 million unique IPv4 addresses from 240 countries connected to the Akamai platform in the fourth quarter, up 4.2% quarter-on-quarter.
Amazon has greenlit three new half-hour pilot comedy originals for the Amazon Instant Video and Lovefilm subscription video-on-demand services.The new pilots comprise Mozart in the Jungle written by Roman Coppola (The Darjeeling Limited), Jason Schwartzman (Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore) and Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher), The Outlaws written by Jeremy Garelick (The Break-Up) and Jon Weinbach and Transparent written and directed by Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under).The new shows will be aired exclusively on Amazon-owned Lovefilm in the UK and Prime Instant Video in the US early next year.The latest pilots follow an intial round of shows commissioned by Amazon last April.“We are thrilled to be working on these pilots with such talented creators with passionate visions for new shows. We are excited to hear what customers think of the shows,” said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios.
Robin RutiliTV technology company Zenterio has teamed up with content discovery specialist XroadMedia to integrate the latter’s personalisation service Ncanto into Zenterio OS.Zenterio OS will support XroadMedia’s content discovery software Ncanto that finds relevant content based on consumers’ behaviour, interests and social profiles.“The availability of TV content, both on demand and broadcasted, is increasing rapidly. A key challenge for TV viewers is to find content that is relevant and interesting. The collaboration with XroadMedia means that Zenterio’s customers and partners can instantly offer a personalized content discovery and recommendation service that hugely increases the attractiveness of their TV offerings,” said Robin Rutili, CEO, Zenterio.“Ncanto enables TV viewers to easily find and enjoy the content that they are really interested in – anywhere and anytime. Combining Ncanto with the possibilities and scale of Zenterio OS opens up many new and attractive business opportunities for us,” said Adolf Proidl, CEO and co-founder, XroadMedia.
Vivendi has acquired Paris film studio Studios de Boulogne.The studio has long been seen as a cornerstone of the French film and TV industry, providing the setting for iconic French movies including Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot and Touchez pas au Grisbi as well as being used for Hollywood movies such as Love in the Afternoon and Charade. The facility was renovated in 2000 as a TV production studio. Canal+’s Le Grand Journal and Canal Football Club are produced there.Vivendi said the acquisition was in line with its “strategy to provide Canal+ Group with the financial and technical means for its development” and said it secured “tighter control over its means of production in order to create and distribute more content”.Production outfit Flab Prod, creator of Canal+’s La Nouvelle Edition, which was acquired by Vivendi earlier this year, is housed at the studio.Vivendi’s latest foray into acquiring production assets followed the news that it is in exclusive talks to become a minority shareholder if the merged Banijay-Zodiak group.
A group of Italian and international investment funds have expressed concern about Vivendi’s request to have four seats on the Telecom Italia board following its acquisition of over 20% of the Italian telco’s shares.As reported by Reuters, the group have written a letter to Telecom Italia president Giuseppe Recchi, CEO Marco Patuano and the company’s board, asking that Vivendi’s request by examined urgently, pointing out that it would dilute the representation of institutional investors on the board while giving Vivendi a disproportionate voice.Four seats out of a proposed 17 would give Vivendi a 23.5% representation on the board. Telecom Italia has recently moved to increase its capital by an exchange of ‘savings shares’ into ordinary shares, which would dilute Vivendi’s stake in the company to about 14% if carried through.Sources cited by Reuters have also said that Telecom Italia shareholders are concerned about Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré’s supposed closeness to Italian former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Telecom Italia is seen as a competitor to Berlusconi’s Mediaset.Vivendi earlier this week requested four seats on the Telecom Italia board for CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine, COO Stephane Roussel, CFO Hervé Philippe and consultant Felicité Herzog and proposed increasing the size of the board from its current 13 to 17.Italian market regulator Consob is currently investigating whether Vivendi has acted in concert with French telecom tycoon and Free boss Xavier Niel, who has acquired options that could see him take a 15% stake in the Italian company.
Vodafone Spain has officially launched a new 4K UHD set-top aimed at its XDSL base, which it says is the first such box to launch in the Spanish market.The box is aimed at ADSL and VDSL customers and has functionality similar to the existing Vodafone TV box, including search and recommendation, seven-day catch-up and access to online TV services including Netflix.Vodafone will kick off its 4K offering with the launch of four channels in the format as part of its programming line-up. These are Festival 4K, a music-theme channel, SPI International’s FunBox 4K UHD, which first launched on Vodafone’s network in neighbouring Portugal in July last year and airs a mix of documentaries, extreme sports, series and movies, ShowChannel, which airs a range of scenes in 4K, and the latest addition, Insight TV, which offers a mix of entertainment programming including series, sports, documentaries, science programmes and interactive programmes.Vodafone said it would launch the new channels “soon”, without giving a specific date.The box will also enable viewers to access Netflix’s range of 4K titles, such as Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Marvel’s Daredevil and Narcos.The box comes with an integrated digital-terrestrial TV tuner, enabling users to access over-the-air channels.
The recombination of National Amusements subsidiaries CBS Corp. and Viacom has moved another step forwards.CBS has reportedly retained banks Moelis & Co. and Goldman Sachs to advise on the possible merger, which has been on the table since Shari Redstone and her father, Sumner Redstone, took more active control of Viacom.CBS and Viacom have already created special committees to review conditions for a merger, which would bring the CBS broadcast network together with cable nets such as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV.According to the Wall Street Journal, Viacom will not hire any specialist financial or legal advisors apart from those it brought on it counsel the committee, namely Morgan Stanley, Allen & Co. and LionTree Advisors LLC.Last week, CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves said his company, which has been a Wall Street success story in thepast decade, would only entertain a merger with the more-challenged Viacom “if it is in the best interests of CBS and all of its shareholders”.Moonves would likely run the merged operation, having guided CBS through a sustained period of growth. Viacom recent named international chief Bob Bakish interim CEO of the wider business, with current incumbent Tom Dooley exiting on November 15.
Cable and telecom investor Altice has filed its planned buyout offer for the remaining shares of French subsidiary SFR with the French markets authority, the AMF.Altice has filed a buyout offer to be followed by a squeeze-out, offering €34.50 a share. Following completion, SFR will be delisted form the Euronext Paris exchange, probably early in the fourth quarter.The transaction has yet to be approved by the AMF.SFR’s board has issued a positive opinion on the offer after taking independent advice from Finexsi and hiring Perrella Weinberg Partners as financial advisors.Altice previously attempted to acquire the shares in SFR that it did not already own last year, then amounting to 22.25% of the company’s stock. However, the AMF rejected the bid on the grounds that Altice had not provided sufficient information to shareholders.Altice subsequently upped its stake in SFR in private off-market transactions, exchanging its own stock for shares in the operator. The company announced in August that it planned had crossed the 95% threshold of ownership and that it intended to file a buyout offer.
Belgian telecom operator Proximus added 71,000 TV customers in 2017, taking its total TV base to 1.56 million, up 4.8% over the year.Proximus now claims a TV market share of 36.8%, compared with 46.6% share of the broadband market and a 39.9% share of mobile.Dominique LeroyProximus TV contributed to a modest 1.1% rise in underlying revenue from domestic operations for Proximus. The telco posted domestic revenues of €4.458 billion for the year despite what it described as a more competitive landscape and significant regulatory headwinds.TV highlights over the course of the last year include a renewal of Proximus’ deal for top-tier Belgian football and a new strategic partnership with Studio 100.Proximus acquired the exclusive nationwide broadcasting rights to kids channel Studio 100 TV from the beginning of this year, leaving Liberty Global-backed Flemish rival Telenet in the cold.Proximus added 62,000 fixed internet customers in the course of 2017, taking its total to 1.983 million. Fixed voice customers fell by 2.4% to 2.624 million lines, while the mobile base dipped by 0.6% to 6.05 million.Triple and quad-play homes and businesses now total 1.431 million, or close to half of Proximus’s customer base, up 5% year-on-year. The company’s all-in Tuttimus and Bizz All-in offerings reached 360,000 subscriptions at the end of the year.“With sound financials for the fourth quarter, our Fit for Growth strategy resulted in a full-year Domestic revenue growth of 1.1% and a 1.5% growth in Group EBITDA, increasing for the third year in a row,” said CEO Dominique Leroy.“In an increasingly competitive market we further grew our customer base. Proximus won market share for both internet and TV, demonstrating solid customer gains and improved fixed churn levels. We also realized growth in our mobile postpaid customer base, in spite of the many competitor promotions.”
Oculus Research, the division of the Facebook-owned company that is focused on creating “the future of personal and shared reality”, has rebranded to Facebook Reality Labs (FRL).Oculus GoAnnouncing the name change in a post on Facebook, Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash said that “while our name is new, our focus on the future hasn’t changed”.He also said that Facebook’s “growing investment” in FRL will allow it to “push the boundaries of what it takes to build great experiences further and faster”.“We are helping Oculus and all of Facebook create trailblazing AR and VR experiences, from what’s most affordable to leading edge.”Abrash described personal computers and their descendants as “the first great wave of human computing” and claimed that augmented and virtual reality will be the second – “revolutionising the way billions of people work, play, and interact even more powerfully than the personal computer or the smartphone”.FRL is made up of researchers and engineers that span a range of expertise, including optics, haptics, audio, graphics, displays, animation, machine learning and optimisation, and software and hardware engineering.The news comes a week after Oculus released its new standalone VR headset, Oculus Go, in 23 countries with a starting price of US$199 for the 32Gb version of the device.Oculus claimed that the standalone form factor and attractive price point “promises to radically change the game for consumer VR”.The launch was announced at Facebook’s F8 conference, where the company also unveiled Oculus TV – a virtual screening room for apps like Hulu, Showtime, Red Bull TV and the Facebook Video app. Oculus TV is due to go live later this month.