Clouds loom over regional airlines The Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) says the recently announced carbon tax will mean “more pain” for regional aviation and communities.Accusing the federal government of “either not caring, or not understanding” the role of regional aviation, RAAA chief executive Paul Tyrell said the tax was “simply a grab for revenue from an industry that is least able to afford it”. “The Prime Minister claims that the carbon tax is aimed at the big polluters, but the regional aviation industry contributes around 0.2% of the nation’s total carbon emissions,” Mr Tyrell commented.“Encouraging people to jump in their cars and drive long distances instead of using one of the regional operators seems a very poor environmental outcome.”According to the RAAA, the only way regional airlines would be able to cut their carbon emissions would be to “walk away from the industry” as aircraft are already flown at maximum efficiency and do not operate on alternative fuel sources.At 6 cents per litre, the group says the new tax “will add millions of dollars” to regional operators’ costs, which will in turn be passed onto regional communities, threatening the marginal routes which “bring doctors, nurses, teachers and other essential services” to country towns. Expressing its “strong disappointment” with the announcement, Australia’s largest independent regional airline, Regional Express (Rex) says the carbon tax is just the latest in a raft of “adverse government measures” facing provincial air services, citing in addition, the removal of the en-route rebate scheme for regional airlines, the additional fuel excise to increase Civil Aviation Safety Authority funding and increased security screening at regional ports. “The combined effect of these measures on Rex alone would equate to at least $6m per annum,” Rex chief operating officer Chris Hine said.”I foresee many regional operators without the financial strength and diversification of the Rex Group being forced out of business once these take effect after 1 July 2012.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H
By Kendall BaerDespite their lack of discussion on the housing market during the primary debates and now the first presidential debate on Monday, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have expressed their stances on housing sporadically throughout the race.Trump spoke at the National Association of Home Builders’ 2016 Midyear Board of Directors Meeting in Miami, Florida and stated he believed overregulation was the source of many issues in the housing industry including the job growth.“The U.S. economy today is 25 percent smaller than it would have been without the surge of regulations since 1980,” said Trump. “So many businesses knocked down. We will issue an executive order to impose a temporary regulation moratorium on new agency regulations.”Furthermore, he has stated that he plans to discontinue funding of at least some government housing programs and work to ease the current regulatory framework if elected. He has specifically alluded to the possibility of eliminating The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.Clinton on the other hand as shared via her website that she plans to “reduce barriers to lending in underserved communities,” and “support housing counseling programs.” She has also noted that if elected she will “provide the resources necessary to overcome blight, giving communities a chance to rebuild and renew with new businesses, new homeowners, and new hope.””For Hillary Clinton, growing middle class jobs and middle income security is the single lens in which she will judge economic policy,” said Gene Sperling, a top economic advisor to Clinton, in an address to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Board of Directors at their Midyear Meeting in Miami. “What better helps the middle class than housing? Housing creates jobs in the United States. There is probably no other sector that creates jobs throughout income levels – from construction jobs to professional and servicing jobs.”Though Trump and Clinton remained did not discuss their housing policy stances during the debate, their was a brief exchange regarding the foreclosure crisis in which Clinton resurrected an accusation she made against Trump earlier this year.”Well, let’s stop for a second and remember where we were eight years ago,” Clinton said. “We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street, and created a perfect storm. In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, ‘Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.’ Well, it did collapse.”Trump responded to the accusation by saying, “That’s called business, by the way.”Clinton continued, “Nine million people—nine million people lost their jobs. Five million people lost their homes. And $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out. Now, we have come back from that abyss. And it has not been easy. So we’re now on the precipice of having a potentially much better economy, but the last thing we need to do is to go back to the policies that failed us in the first place.” in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News September 26, 2016 513 Views Share Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Housing Policy Presidential Debate 2016-09-26 Seth Welborn Housing Policy? Not in This Debate
How to get to DubaiAs a popular destination for business travel, there are plenty of direct and connecting flights from the UK to Dubai. Non-stop flights go from London airports Gatwick, Heathrow and London City, as well as Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester.Dubai International Airport is just over 2 miles from Downtown Dubai. A second airport, Dubai Al Maktoum International, is open but still being developed 23 miles outside of the city, aiming to be the biggest in the world by its completion.Ready to book? Compare the best deals on flights to Dubai below: 7. Ski Dubai at the Mall of the EmiratesWant to visit the desert and hit the ski slopes in the same weekend away? Don’t miss Ski Dubai, a huge ski slope situated in Mall of the Emirates at the Marina end of the city. It’s a bit of a shock to go from the 50°C desert heat to below zero temperatures but you can hire all equipment, clothing and ski lessons you need so you don’t have to pack your skis. There’s even a café-bar halfway up the ski slope in true mountain style, so you can stop for a bumper hot chocolate and watch the fun unfold. For more tips on where to find great skiing destinations across the world, even in the spring and summer, check out our late-season ski guide.Opening times: Sun to Wed 10.00 am – 11.00 pm; Thurs 10.00 am – 12.00am; Fri 9.00 am – 12.00am; Sat 9.00 am – 11.00 pm.Location: Mall of the Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Rd.Price: ‘Snow passes’ start from 260dhms for adults and children. 3. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural UnderstandingIf you’ve always wanted to know about Islam but were too afraid to ask, this is your chance. Founded by an Emirati man who married a European woman and hosted by the charismatic general manager Nasif, the centre is a great place for a cross-cultural experience, as the name suggests. Don’t be surprised if you leave with a whole new understanding and appreciation of the Muslim world. Traditional Emirati cuisine also makes it a treat for breakfast or lunch, or just to pick up a bar of Camel chocolate on the way out. If you’re feeling bold, when everyone has left, ask kindly if they would mind you climbing on to the roof to admire the views over the old Persian district, the Bastakia Quarter. Time it right and you can be up there when the call to prayer is sung at sunset – a real goosebumps moment. Opening times: Sun to Thurs 9am – 5pm, Sat 9am to 1pm. Breakfast every Monday & Wednesday at 10:00am; Lunch every Sunday through Thursday at 1:00pm; Dinner every Sun, Tues & Thurs at 7:00pm; Cultural Brunch every Sat at 10:30am.Location: House 26, Al Mussallah Road, Al Fahidi District.Price: Breakfast & lunch 90dhs, dinner & brunch 100dhs Go to the website to book activities in advance.4. Dubai’s public parksParks might not be the first thing you associate with Dubai, but the city boasts some of the most beautiful, tranquil, clean, green parks anywhere. Pay a 5dhs fee to enter a place quite different to other cities’ public spaces, and see Filipino, Pakistani, Indian, Emirati, Arabic and European families barbecuing and playing ball games side by side. Try Safa Park on Sheikh Zayed Road for a sprawling 150 acres of lawns, waterfalls and hills made for jogging and sports like rounders. Mushrif Park Khawaneej Road is a good bet if you’ve got kids in tow, with its extensive woodlands and zoo (you might need to rent some wheels for this one). Pack a picnic, leave your stresses behind you and enjoy. Fan of dining outdoors? We’ve rounded up the best places to picnic all over the world. 14. Step back in time in Al BastakiyaThe Bastakiya Quarter of Dubai offers a freeze frame of life that was, a nineteenth century merchant town facing off modern Dubai’s sleek cityscape. Sometimes called the Al Fahidi historical area, it’s a pleasure simply getting lost here, wending your way through narrow alleyways, past palm-wood houses and ‘wind towers’ (an early Arabian ventilation system) and through silent squares as though you’ve skipped back a couple of centuries. Peer in painter’s studios, galleries and bookshops and stop in at the Arabian Tea House for a quick cuppa – there are over 100 blends to choose from! It’s officially a government conservation area so may feel slightly like an inauthentic theme park at times, but it’s still a welcome contrast to the glitzy consumerism over the other side of the creek. 9. Take a safari in the desertA desert safari offers the chance to get a flavour of the Bedouin lifestyle, from a time when the Dubai skyline was more sand than super-city. Numerous companies offer desert safaris but check them out before booking: ask what time you’ll be dropped back at your hotel and whether they plan to stop anywhere on the way, especially what food there will be and any extras you may need to pay for. Most start with a 4×4 drive to an authentic Bedouin campsite where you can try ‘hubbly bubbly’ (shisha tobacco) and indulge in fresh barbecued shawarma. Opt for a thrill ride around the dunes by Land Rover or camel depending on the tempo you want, while after sunset, it’s a magical experience just to sit in the darkness and stare at the many, many stars visible away from the city lights. Companies like Arabian Nights include options like falcon-handling and belly-dancing entertainment and start at $82 for an afternoon to evening safari. 10. Dubai fountainsSpectacular, exciting and – best of all – free! If you’ve seen the Belaggio fountains in Vegas and thought you’d seen it all, Dubai does it taller, bigger, louder and with an incredible light show at night. The musical repertoire of the fountain show includes Sama Dubai, Baba Yetu (an award-winning song in Swahili), the Arab world’s top-selling dance number Shik Shak Shok, and the signature piece of world-renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, Con te partiro: Time to Say Goodbye. The fountains are situated outside the Dubai Mall, surrounded by a lively hub of restaurants with frontrow views – book ahead to dine on the terrace and see the fountains in all their glory. The Thai cuisine at the Mango Tree in Souk Al Bahar is a standout. The fountains operate Saturday to Thursday 1pm and 1.30pm; 6 to 11pm every 30 minutes, and Friday 1.30pm and 2pm; 6 to 11pm every 30 minutes. ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepartReturnCabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map Related2-4-1 Dubai: How to save money on Dubai’s top attractionsGlamorous UAE super-city Dubai is not known as a budget travel destination, but with a few handy pointers and the 241Passport travel app, there are lots of ways to save rather than overspend on a holiday to Dubai this summer.10 totally unmissable things to do in DubaiOur top 10 Dubai sights, attractions and activities that you absolutely must not miss, from shopping to skiing.The best hotels in Dubai for every budgetWhether you’re looking for a five star resort with access to the world’s biggest shopping centre or just a good deal on a beach hotel, Dubai has a room for every occasion and budget. We’ve lined up the best hotels in Dubai so you can take your pick…. 8. Jumeirah Beach Residence Walk and Dubai MarinaBuilt in the last few years, Dubai Marina throngs with spectacular twisting skyscrapers, while just next door is the effortless glamour of Jumeirah Beach Residence walk (or ‘JBR walk’ if you want to sound like a local). Like a city within a city, this area owns some prime people-watching cafés, sociable bars and some of the best restaurants in Dubai. Look out for Frankie Dettori’s Frankie’s Italian Bar & Grill and try Gary Rhodes’ Twenty10 for a mixed grill to remember (220dhms, or around £40). During the day, you’ll see plenty of joggers taking advantage of the marina views and behind the Address Hotel you can take the Dubai ferry out to sea, which passes the Atlantis Hotel, its famous arch standing like a gateway to the leaf-shaped island of Palm Jumeirah. 11. Wild Wadi Water ParkUnleash your inner child at this spectacular water park, more like a miniature world of its own, right next to the sea. If you’ve never experienced an ‘aquatic roller coaster’ or a state-of-the-art surf machine, then add this place to your list of things to do in Dubai. You could easily spend days on the whirling Tantrum Alley, and Burj Surj tube slides, while kids will love the splash-tastic water guns and racing slides at the Dhow and Lagoon. Be prepared to get very very wet, over and over again.Opening times: Daily, 10am – 6pm.Location: Jumeirah Road, Next To Jumeirah Beach Hotel.Price: Adults 275dhs, Children (below 1.1m) 245dhs. Residents of Jumeirah hotels get free entry. Did we miss your favourite things to do in Dubai? Let us know your recommendations in the comment section below!Search for flights to Dubai1. Burj KhalifaDubai runs on superlatives, from the glitziest, biggest malls on earth to the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa. Check out the exhibit on the building’s history, then take the fastest (of course) lift in the world. Hold on to your hat – it only takes a few seconds. It’s not for the faint-hearted but is well worth it, as the views will blow your mind. If you’re a serious photographer, you can even take a tripod with you to capture the endless panoramas towards the beach and over the city. Go at sunset if you can, as you get to see both day and night from the top.Opening times: Daily, 8am – 3pm (‘non-prime hours’) & 3pm – 6.30pm (‘prime hours’). Early opening from 5.30am Fri & Sat. Location: 1 Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai. The Burj Khalifa Metro Station is a 10 minute walk away.Price: Adults from 125dhs, Children under 12 from 95dhs. Timed tickets and different packages available – see website for information. ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map 12. Shop ’til you dropNot for nothing is Dubai frequently called the world’s best shopping destination, and if you like nothing better than indulging in some retail therapy on a weekend away, then get stuck in! Dubai has an incredible selection of malls, including the largest in the world, The Dubai Mall, so much so that it’s hard to choose. If you’re after a bargain or two, head to the Dubai Outlet Mall, which offers up to 90% off original prices, or hang out in style at the BurJuman in the business district – if you can’t afford Louis Vuitton or Burberry, take in an IMAX movie at the hi-tech Vox Cinemas. Where to stay in DubaiIf you can’t afford the likes of The Burj Al Arab – and with rooms from £1,440, we don’t blame you – then save your dirhams for spending money with a room at the Villa Rotana. You still get 4-star comfort: a rooftop pool, 24 room service and frontrow views of the Burj Khalifa, but all from a more reasonable £86 a night.In fact, you can get a comfy stay for very little money in Dubai. Try the dorms at Domme Hostel (from £21), on the south side of Dubai Creek, not far from the old Al Fahidi neighbourhood.Find hotels in Dubai*Published March 2017. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.Tripbod Alex began his career in the creative industry and now runs a successful photography business in Dubai: alexjeffriesphotographygroup.com. Alex is also a passionate traveller and finds that more interesting travel experiences result when you get off the beaten track.Inspired to visit the culture-rich Middle East? Here are a few more destinations you might like…Beyond Dubai: Top 5 lesser-known destinations in the Middle EastDone Dubai? We give you five places to go for an alternative Middle Eastern holiday. Top tips for visiting IranWhere are you going this year? Paris? Majorca? How about Iran? Bet that’ll impress your friends.Jordan’s best attractionsFrom ancient sites like Petra to floating in the Dead Sea, you could spend months exploring Jordan. Here’s what to do if you only have days…Skyscanner is the world’s travel search engine, helping your money go further on flights, hotels and car hire. 13. Dubai Aquarium & Underwater ZooIf shopping in the biggest and best just isn’t enough, The Dubai Mall also hosts the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. Observe Dubai’s fascinating nocturnal desert animals, come face to face with huge saltwater crocodiles, walk beneath a 48-metre aquarium tunnel…all without getting a drop on you. For those happy to take the plunge, there’s shark diving and cage snorkelling, plus many other imaginative ways to dive in. Don’t miss the ‘VRZOO’, a simulated virtual reality experience that lets you travel to the jungles of Asia or the African Savannah without taking a step.Opening times: Weekdays 10am to 11pm; Weekends 10am to 12am.Location: Dubai Mall, Level 2.Price: From 100dhs pp. 5. RaviOne for die-hard curry fans and among Dubai’s longest-serving restaurants, Ravi deserves a place of its own in our top ten. Usually full with diners from all over the world, there are no white tablecloths, wine lists or snooty waiters, just honest Pakistani curry served up by friendly staff. Favourite dishes include chicken boti, mutton tika, daal and mutton kebab, and the bread is fresh, fluffy and hot. A whole family can eat here for less than 100dhs. Ravi has recently been refurbished, with the addition of a ‘family’ area, but it’s often more fun to sit outside or in the main area to soak up the atmosphere. Opening times: Daily, 5am – 2am.Location: Shop # 245, Al Dhiyafa Rd, Satwa.Price: 1 – 49Dhs. 6. Burj Al ArabThe Burj calls itself ‘the world’s only 7-star hotel’ and, whether or not you agree, it’s certainly one of the most iconic buildings in Dubai. Soaring to a height of 321 metres over the coastline of Umm Suqeim, the Burj is designed to resemble a billowing sail. There are various viewpoints but one of the best is from the public beach next to it, for the ultimate Dubai selfie on the beach, with the Burj in the background. It is one of the most photographed structures in the world, and consistently voted the world’s most luxurious hotel, so naturally it’s rather expensive for the average visitor. Here’s a good tip however: go for a drink at the Dhow and Anchor in the hotel opposite, Jumeirah Beach hotel, and sit out on the terrace for an even better photo opp. 2. Dubai CreekAfter the ultra-modern heights of the Burj, there’s nothing like the contrast of a simple abra ride on Dubai Creek. Take one of these beautiful old roofed boats from Bur Dubai Abra Station on the southern side, and ride across the creek for just one dirham at sunset, as the evening call to prayer is singing out across the mosque minarets. Close your eyes and you could be back in the 1960s when the city began. At the other side you’ll be met with the aromas of Dubai’s spice souk, the place to buy an incense burner and a handful of frankincense. Make time for a stroll around the old area of Deira while you’re here, with its quirky alleyways and skinny alley cats. Talk about atmospheric! Didn’t think it was possible to do Dubai on the cheap? Read our budget tips before your trip. 15. Dubai Museum & Al Fahidi FortMake sense of it all at the Dubai Museum, which explains a little more about how a desert fishing community transformed, through oil and investment, into a high-flying mega-tropolis in the space of half a century. The building itself is an eighteenth century fort built to protect the ruling sheikh, complete with stout defensive towers, and you can see a full scale traditional Dhow boat in the courtyard.Opening times: Sat to Thurs, 8:30am – 8:30pm, Fri 2:30pm – 8:30pm.Location: Al Fahidi area, Bur Dubai.Price: Adults 3dhs, Children (under 6) 1dh.
East Meadow, New York – Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazineLufthansa will unveil its newly developed First Class when it accepts delivery of its first Airbus A380 today. The world’s largest and most modern commercial aircraft promises relaxed and comfortable travel – and not only in First Class. In Business and Economy Class on its A380, Lufthansa also offers the highest level of passenger comfort. The generous proportions of the cabin alone create a feeling of spaciousness.“The A380 offers our passengers a first-rate travel experience. The very dimensions of the Airbus A380 and its flight characteristics make traveling on this aircraft a truly unique experience. In all three travel classes, our passengers can enjoy the ultimate in comfort. The exceptional and exclusive First Class concept, which was designed according to our passengers’ wishes and needs, is particularly impressive,” said Thierry Antinori, member of the Lufthansa German Airlines Board responsible for Marketing and Sales, at the presentation of the new First Class.Developed by customers, for customers – top-flight travel in the new First ClassIn the future, Lufthansa passengers can expect a First Class experience that sets new standards in terms of exclusivity and comfort. The first impression upon entering the cabin is one of spaciousness, inviting passengers to relax and unwind. Superb-quality materials plus a clear, uniform design language echo the elegant features of the First Class Lounges and the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt on board the A380 and provide a harmonious travel experience. The generously proportioned, open design and exclusive ambience with simple, distinct lines and subtle colors creates a light, appealing and inviting atmosphere. A concept with separate cabins was deliberately rejected because at numerous customer events, and during in-flight tests and surveys, Lufthansa passengers expressed a clear preference for an open-plan design. However, thanks to a flexible privacy screen, First Class guests can determine the degree of individual privacy they desire.In order to adapt the new First Class concept to the actual needs of passengers, Lufthansa customers were substantially involved in its development. From the outset, their experiences and wishes were integrated into the design. A quiet atmosphere is one of the most important needs of First Class customers. Sound-absorbing curtains partition off the rest of the cabin, while special sound-insulating material in the aircraft’s outer skin and sound-absorbing carpeting block footstep noise and ensure the world’s quietest First Class cabin.The atmosphere soon lets passengers forget that they are traveling by air. Another important factor in customer comfort is the newly developed seat, which combines ergonomics and comfort and which can be extended to create the “best bed in its class”. Measuring 6’9″ feet in length and 2’7″ feet in width, the comfortable bed offers plenty of room, enabling passengers to enjoy deep, relaxing sleep. The air humidification system — the first of its kind to be installed on a commercial aircraft — and the lighting concept, which adjusts according to the time of day, also contribute towards passengers’ well-being on board.On the A380, First Class passengers have an extraordinary amount of space. In the cabin, overhead bins were omitted in order to provide more headroom. Instead, each passenger has an individual closet, which is lockable, in addition to the generous storage facilities around the seat.Instead of just a washroom with a lavatory, First Class passengers will find a luxurious bathroom with wash and changing areas separated from the lavatory area. The room is well-equipped with various bath amenities and provides plenty of space to move around in.Successful Lufthansa Business Class provides even more comfort Passengers traveling in Lufthansa’s successful Business Class on the A380 can enjoy the recognized benefits of a seat that converts into a comfortable, two-meter-long bed. Compared with the previous Business Class cabin, functionality and user-friendliness have been further improved. A new control console for the in-flight entertainment system has been installed. Thanks to the larger luggage bins on the A380, Business Class passengers also have more storage space.More individual space for Economy Class passengersA newly developed seat has as well been installed in Economy Class. In cooperation with internationally renowned designers and ergonomics experts, Lufthansa is thus offering passengers in Economy Class a maximum amount of space. Thanks to the optimal ergonomic design and seat structure, which also have slimmer seat backs, passengers in this travel class will also enjoy more space and comfort. The new seat concept provides passengers with an additional 0’5″ feet of personal space and thanks to the slim-line seat back, they also have more legroom at knee level.Cinema on board – time just flies with the new in-flight entertainment programThe varied in-flight entertainment program, which can be accessed via a personal monitor, caters to all interests. Passengers can choose from a wide selection of the latest feature films, a range of international music and radio channels, and a current TV program. New kids’ channels have been introduced, with a varied program for young passengers and a multi-player game mode. The 3D game graphics, which are controlled with an external game controller, provide a special highlight. In all travel classes on the A380, the popular service information about the flight, the route and the flight position can be viewed as a 3D animation. Moreover, external video cameras will be used for the first time. Among other things, they will transmit pictures taken from the tailfin perspective to passengers’ individual monitors.The A380 has a total of 526 seats, including eight in First Class, 98 in Business Class and 420 in Economy Class.www.lufthansa.com
17Nov Iden bill to save taxpayer dollars signed by Gov. Snyder Legislation authored by state Rep. Brandt Iden to fast-track the end of the Venture Michigan Fund has been signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder.“My colleagues and I are continuing to ensure that our state government makes smart financial decisions to secure our economy for future generations,” said Rep. Iden, R-Oshtemo. “The Venture Michigan Fund began with good intentions at heart, but ultimately placed a liability on taxpayers that we can’t afford.”House Bill 4365 – now Public Act 194 of 2015 – reforms the funding mechanism of the Venture Michigan Fund. Specifically, the legislation limits the amount of tax vouchers which can be issued to supplement the fund.“Michigan business owners are the backbone of our state’s economy, but we need to be focused on reforms which are able to help them that don’t rely on millions of taxpayer dollars,” Rep. Iden said. “One step to ensuring financial sustainability for future generations, and our state’s comeback, is the elimination of risky investments like this fund.”### Categories: Iden News,News
State Rep. Diana Farrington today voted to repeal Michigan’s pension tax, a proposal that would provide meaningful tax relief for the state’s senior citizens.“Across southeast Michigan and the entire state, the pension tax established in 2011 is one of the biggest complaints we hear about. The change in state law came up unexpectedly and soon-to-be retirees didn’t have time to prepare for it,” Farrington, of Utica, said after she and the House Tax Policy Committee voted to advance the repeal proposal with bipartisan support.“Eliminating this tax will help seniors today and those who will be retirees in the future,” Farrington said. “It will free up resources for seniors on fixed incomes to pay rent, buy food and get the medicine they need.”The committee’s vote advances the bill – one of the first introduced in the 2019-20 session – to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.House Bill 4006 would eliminate the pension tax approved in 2011, re-establishing Michigan’s previous retirement tax structure. Public pensions would be exempt from taxation and other retirement income would have higher deductibles for state income taxes. Social Security income would continue to be exempt.The proposal also would eliminate Michigan’s current, complex three-tiered retirement tax structure – which now has different rules for taxpayers depending on what year they were born.Farrington noted Michigan’s economy and state budget are in much better shape today than when the pension tax was enacted.“The state budget should never be balanced on the backs of retirees,” Farrington said. “The time is certainly right to move forward with this repeal.”### Categories: Diana Farrington News,News 28Feb Rep. Farrington votes to repeal Michigan’s pension tax
Share10Tweet9Share1Email20 Shares“Climate science matters – Melbourne #MarchforScience on #Earthday” Credit: TakverAugust 13, 2017; The Conversation, Boston Globe, and New York TimesThe ongoing debate over climate change within and outside the scientific community may take a new tack if Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt has his way. Pruitt has called for a “red team-blue team” review to challenge the science that says that climate change is real and a threat to this nation’s future.In a red team-blue team exercise, the red team attacks something and the blue team defends it. The exercise was originally used in the military to test force-readiness. For-profit security companies then began using it to protect themselves from attacks.According to people attending the American Association for Clean Coal Electricity, a lobbying group for coal companies, Pruitt indicated that his staff was already at work preparing for a “red team-blue team” exercise to challenge mainstream climate science. This is one of a number of actions by the EPA to undermine the role of scientific research at this agency that is charged with protecting the environment and public health.As described by the Boston Globe,The idea is that a “red team” made up of officials from government agencies with responsibilities related to climate would try to poke holes in mainstream climate science, while a similarly constituted “blue team” would have the task of defending the mainstream consensus against this critique. Supposedly, this process would shed new light on what is known and what is not about human influence on the global climate.Of course, the validity of a “red team-blue team” review is being disputed. Writing for The Conversation, Richard B. Rood, Professor of Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan, states that from his experience,I can say confidently that red team-blue team exercises are not a mechanism for scientific debate. They are not designed to take a testable hypothesis and then look at whether observations and theory support or refute it. They are more like Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Night, causing disruption, distortion and chaos.And so, Pruitt’s call for a red team-blue team review is not designed to test the scientific robustness of our knowledge of climate change. Rather, it is part of the political strategy to continue the dissolution of the EPA’s climate change activities and to destroy President Obama’s efforts to address climate change—something Pruitt and the Trump administration have made their stated goal.The initial source for this idea may have been Steven Koonin, a physicist at New York University and former undersecretary at the Department of Energy in the Obama administration. Koonin, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, proposed that a “red team” of dissenting scientists be established to critique major scientific reports on climate change with a “blue team” of climate scientists who could then rebut their critiques. Koonin suggests this should be a very public process and “would produce a traceable public record that would allow the public and decision makers a better understanding of certainties and uncertainties.”So, what’s wrong with this process? Plenty, according to an opinion article by three scientists writing in the Washington Post. They state:Such calls for special teams of investigators are not about honest scientific debate. They are dangerous attempts to elevate the status of minority opinions, and to undercut the legitimacy, objectivity and transparency of existing climate science.The basic premise of these “Red Team/Blue Team” requests is that climate science is broken and needs to be fixed. The implicit message in the requests is that scientists belong to tribes, and key findings of climate science—such as the existence of a large human-caused warming signal—have not undergone adequate review by all tribes. This tribalism could be addressed, Koonin believes, by emulating Red Team/Blue Team assessment strategies in “intelligence assessments, spacecraft design, and major industrial operations.”To use present-day vernacular, both Koonin and Pruitt are essentially claiming that peer-review systems are rigged, and that climate scientists are not providing sound scientific information to policymakers.It is doubtful that the mainstream scientific community that has produced the research on climate science via the rigorous peer-review and scientific inquiry process will want to participate in this proposed red team-blue team process. These scientists worry that Secretary Pruitt’s exercise will elevate and create a platform for marginal views that have already been discredited in the scientific community. There could be doubts raised about the credentials of those who would participate in a process with such dubious goals. As the Washington Post opinion article states:Even after all the tire kicking, there is strong scientific consensus that planetary-scale warming is now unambiguous, and that human activities are the dominant contribution to this warming.In short, climate science is not broken. It does not need fixing. We hear similar “broken” arguments about the media, the courts and our democracy itself. We are told that only one team or person can fix the problem; that if we place our trust in that one team, that one person, everything will be fine. In the case of climate science, we choose to place our trust in peer review and in the scientific community—not in teams appointed by Koonin or Pruitt.The EPA, however, seems determined to move forward with this red team-blue team process and to use it as a platform to further debunk climate change science and advance their own political agenda. As Professor Rood concludes, “Such spectacle will be based on emotional appeal and will rely on manipulating the message about the role that uncertainty plays in scientific investigation. The goal will be the amplification and persistence of public doubt—a goal that would be undoubtedly achieved.”There is no doubt that the science community will continue to speak out and raise questions about the validity of this kind of exercise. Will their voices be heard? Or will they be undermined by those who would deny that climate change in real?—Carole LevineShare10Tweet9Share1Email20 Shares
Share6TweetShareEmail6 SharesBy victorgrigas (Wikipedia) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsOctober 31, 2018; New YorkerIf the Bay Area were a country, it would be ranked ninth in the world for its billionaire population,” writes Anand Giridharadas in the New Yorker. Giridharadas gets that figure from the World Billionaire Census, which counts 74 billionaires in the San Francisco metro area out of a total of 2,754 billionaires worldwide.San Francisco has the world’s third-highest concentration of billionaires, trailing only New York (103 billionaires) and Hong Kong (93 billionaires). Yet even so, the city of 884,000 also has an estimated 7,499 homeless people. That’s 13 percent lower than 2004, but still disturbingly high.The juxtaposition of wealth and poverty in San Francisco is hardly new. Author Rebecca Solnit chronicled the transformation of San Francisco from a place that was once a working-class community to tech-fueled gentrification in a book titled Hollow City, published in 2000. “The city forgets what it has evicted; the new landscape erases the past,” astutely observed Tess Taylor in her San Francisco Chronicle review.There have been some successes in preserving affordability, such as those of a nonprofit community development corporation that has used community organizing and property management to maintain thousands of units of affordable housing in Chinatown, or even the creation of a multi-use building that contains both a library and 140 units of housing for low-income seniors. But despite plentiful resources, making San Francisco livable for those at the bottom end of the income scale is a challenge most often not met.Proposition C, which NPQ first wrote about two months ago, will be on city ballots on Tuesday. The measure, if passed, will nearly double San Francisco’s budget for addressing housing and homelessness, raising an estimated $300 million a year by taxing business gross receipts (for most companies, the rate would be half a percent of gross receipts above $50 million).Businesses that would pay the tax include Salesforce, Yelp, the Gap, Williams Sonoma, Pacific Gas and Electric, Wells Fargo, and Charles Schwab. The revenues raised are slated to support 4,000 units of subsidized housing, public health supports for street-based care of those with mental illness, temporary subsidies to keep people in their homes, and 1,075 new shelter beds.The measure, developed by the Coalition on Homelessness, a community organization with a 30-year history, has the support of a broad spectrum of community groups. Jennifer Friedenbach, the coalition’s executive director, is cautious about expectations: “We’re not claiming to end homelessness with this. We were really careful to put together a plan that was doable.”But things got weird when Salesforce’s CEO not only endorsed the initiative, but got into a tête-à-tête with Twitter’s CEO, as NPQ’s Martin Levine covered last month. Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All and a recent interviewee on an NPQ “Tiny Spark” podcast, has now also weighed in, calling out the irony that, “In a time of extreme inequality…[Salesforce co-CEO Marc] Benioff and [Twitter CEO] Dorsey, two white-guy billionaires [are] arguing over how best to help their city’s poor and vulnerable.” As Giridharadas points out, nobody’s motives are pure. What is clear, however, is that power has shifted from the people to the plutocrats.Meanwhile, the present scene in San Francisco borders on the bizarre. London Breed, the city’s first Black female mayor, ran pledging to address homelessness, but opposed the initiative because, she said, “the flight of companies and jobs from the city” is “inevitable” if the tax levy passes. But Salesforce, the city’s largest private sector employer with 8,400 employees, has not only endorsed the “job killing” measure, but has contributed $5.9 million to the “Yes” campaign, with $2 million more coming personally from Benioff. Presumably those Salesforce jobs are staying. Meanwhile, other business leaders, like Dorsey, say they too support addressing homelessness, but want to follow the mayor’s lead. Alice in Wonderland never had it so hard.Regardless, if the measure passes, effective implementation, both by community partners and the city leadership, will be key. In her statement on homelessness written this past March, Breed wrote that, “In confronting homelessness, our biggest obstacle is the perception that the crisis can’t be solved, that homelessness and suffering on our streets are an inevitable part of city life. They are not.… I hope to prove that.” Proposition C might not have been Breed’s preferred vehicle, but if it passes, it may well give her the opportunity to act that she was seeking.—Steve DubbShare6TweetShareEmail6 Shares
Google has unveiled a new version of its Google TV service as well as announcing a plan to create 100 original video channels on the YouTube website.The move to launch an improved version of the Google TV platform comes after limited success for Google in its initial foray into TV. The platform, which was criticised for lack of ease of use and the limited availability of equipment, has also failed to win over content providers who declined to allow Google to make their programmes available on the platform. Version 2.0 of Google TV provides features including improved recommendation, an easier way for Android software developers to create apps for the platform, and integration with the Android market.“Connected experiences are a pillar of Sony’s value to TV consumers and Sony internet television powered by Google TV certainly brings ‘smart’ connectivity to the highest level,” said Steve Haber, executive vice-president, Sony Electronics, one of the two device manufacturers of Google TV products. “We very much look forward to the possibilities the Android market will create for customers to personalise their experience. Users will enjoy the new features that this update brings to their interactive engagement with home entertainment programming, either through Sony Internet TVs or Bu-ray disc players.”YouTube will develop content for its channels via partnerships with third-party media organisations. Categories will include sports, comedy and news, with the first channel set to launch in November.Separately, AOL in the US has made its AOL HD app available for download on the Samsung Smart TV and Google TV platforms. AOL launched its HD app on Roku, Boxee, DivX TV and Yahoo! Connected TV devices earlier this year.AOL HD features high-definition video content, updated daily, from AOL Huffington Post Media Group, including technology news from Engadget, TechCrunch and Translogic, entertainment news from Moviefone and Huffington Post Celebrity and lifestyle content from partners including Eric Stromer, Sam Talbot and Carter Oosterhouse.
Vivendi-owned French service provider SFR has teamed up with publisher Nathan to launch Dokéo TV, an educational interactive application aimed at kids aged between four and 10 years.The app will be available free of charge from December 6 to Neufbox and Neufbox Evolution customers and will be extended next year to tablets and smartphones with the SFR Neufbox TV app.The app is built around four environments: Mes Histoires, providing illustrated and animated stores, Top Quiz, with 2,000 questions to educate and amuse based on a number of themes, The Rich Morning Show, a series of animations to teach English, and Gulli Planète, videos quizzes and songs based on an ecological theme.
Sky has added Channel 4’s video-on-demand service 4oD to Sky On Demand, now offering catch-up content from each of the UK’s terrestrial broadcasters.The deal will allow Sky customers with web-connected Sky Plus HD boxes to access catch-up content from Channel 4’s portfolio of channels – including Channel 4, E4 and More 4 – as well as older shows and series from the Channel 4 archive, which will be added to the library section of Sky’s On Demand service.Channel 4 also becomes the first UK terrestrial network to offer its channels and programmes on Sky’s online and mobile TV service, Sky Go. Available to existing Sky customers, this service will now let users stream the Channel 4 and More 4 channels live to different devices, with E4 and Film4 feeds to follow shortly.A range of shows on will also be available on-demand on Sky Go, while customers that pay £5 per-month for the Sky Go Extra offering will be able to download these to watch them on-the-go.Sky claims the Channel 4 deal gives it the most complete catch-up TV service in the UK, joining content from networks and broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, Channel 5, The History Channel, National Geographic and a range of Sky’s own channels.“Over two million Sky customers have already connected their Sky+ box to the Internet so they can enjoy our full catch-up and On Demand service. But we are working hard to get even more Sky homes connected as we know our customers love the control and flexibility it gives them – it’s a perfect complement to Sky Plus,” said Sky’s Director of TV Products, Luke Bradley-Jones.At the same time, Sky has added More4 HD to its line-up of HD channels, and is due to add Film4 HD in September.
The Royal Television Society has now opened entries for the RTS Young Technologist Award 2015.The award is open to anyone with less than three years’ experience working within the technical side of broadcasting or its related industries.“With the rise of on-demand services, communication and technology is more important to television than ever before,” said Terry Marsh, chair of the RTS Young Technologist Award jury.The deadline for award applicants is May 11, and the winner will receive a trip to the IBC Conference in Amsterdam and a pass to the RTS Cambridge Convention 2015.
Cable and telecom investor Altice has taken a 50.42% stake in French media group NextRadioTV, owner of the BFMTV news channel, entertainment service RMC Découverte and related radio services, in partnership with NextRadioTV founder Alain Weill.The move, which follows approval by French media regulator the CSA, sees Groupe News Participation, a joint enterprise in which Altice holds a 49% stake and Weill holds the 51% majority share, take a majority 50.42% stake in NextRadioTV. The acquisition will be followed by a public offering in mid-December to acquire the remaining shares in the group.Altice will retain an option to take control of the TV and radio group as of March 2019.The project, which was initially unveiled in July, will see Weill participate in Altice’s management as managing director of Altice Media, responsible for the group’s media activities.
Paula KergerPBS is launching a range of new kids offerings including a round-the-clock kids channel and a streamed version of the linear service.The publicly funded US broadcaster said the 24/7 kids service will be available to its local affiliates later this year. As well as a linear digital channel there will be a live stream of the service.The online version will be viewable via a dedicated PBS app or the PBS website. There will be a stream of the live channel as well as on-demand episodes and clips from PBS shows from the service. Games will be added at a later date, PBS said. All of the digital apps and services will be free of charge.“Television continues to be the most widely used platform for children’s educational content, especially among low-income familiesiii,” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “The new PBS Kids 24/7 channel and live stream offered by local member stations ensure that educational media is available to all families, all the time and via a platform that works for them.”He added: “Given that 54% of all children nationwide do not have the opportunity to attend preschooliv, providing access is a critical element of our public service mission.”Shows on the new PBS Kids service will include Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Odd Squad, Wild Kratts, Nature Cat and Dinosaur Train.
Middle East pay TV operator OSN has launched a new iPad app that enables its subscribers to access their OSN Plus HD box remotely and search its library of on-demand and download-to-own content.The app also enables viewers to keep track of new channel listings and search for previously recorded shows.OSN’s app, which has been developed by Accedo, allows users to control their box remotely, activating downloads and scheduling recordings from their iPads.The app, which is available in English and Arabic, also includes social media sharing features and the ability to link content with microsites and third-party services such as IMDB.com, which an additional source information on OSN shows. The app seamlessly integrates OSN Play and also functions as a second remote control for users’ OSN Plus HD boxes.“OSN has a reputation for innovating, engaging and delighting its subscribers. We designed the OSN App with our viewer in mind to encourage even more engagement with our content and offer a world-class, immersive and dynamic TV viewing experience,” said OSN’s chief technology officer, Mark Billinge.Adam Nightingale, vice-president for EMEA at Accedo said “The OSN App is the first companion app in MENA. Its rich UX and deep integration with OSN’s existing services will help provide an even more enjoyable way of finding and consuming great content and will help accelerate changing viewing habits within the region.”
Sam GhoshZee Entertainment Enterprises has acquired a pair of channels from Indian compatriot Reliance Capital, confirming the latter’s exit from general entertainment broadcasting.The agreement hands Indian broadcaster Zee the Big Magic and Big Ganga networks, plus hour other TV licences.Big Magic is a comedy channel for the Hindi-speaking markets, while Big Ganga is a Bhojpuri entertainment network for audiences in Bihar, Jharkhand and Purvanchal.Both are distributed on India’s major cable and direct-to-home platforms, and will sit alongside networks such as Zee TV, &tv, Zee Action, Zee Classic, and Zing, and a host of regional channels, in the Zee portfolio.Reliance Big Broadcasting Private Limited, Big Magic Limited and Azalia Broadcast Private Limited, which are all part of Anil Ambani’s sprawling conglomerate Reliance Group, currently own the channels and TV licences.“We are happy to divest 100 per cent of our general entertainment TV business to Zee Entertainment,” said Reliance Capital CEO and executive director Sam Ghosh (pictured). “This transaction is part of our strategy to reduce exposure in non-core businesses and work towards further reducing debt under Reliance Capital.”The agreement is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals, but is expected to close in the second half of next year. Financial terms of the deal were not revealed.Another branch of Zee’s business, Zee Media Corporation, is also acquiring a 49% stake in Reliance Broadcast Network’s radio business, 92.7 Big FM.Zee has been pushing into the international market this year, expanding channels distribution in markets such as the US, and hiring well-known programmes sales execs such as Janice Strangward and Sarah Coursey to bolster sales of its 222,000-hour catalogue.Reliance Capital is part of Reliance Group, which is one of the investors in the Steven Spielberg-fronted Amblin Partners. It is linked to but separate from Reliance Industries, which owns a majority stake in Network18, the Indian broadcasting business that houses Viacom joint venture group Viacom18.
ProSiebenSat.1 Media has signed a long-term agreement with Vodafone for the distribution of its free, paid, HD, and video-on-demand content.From the end of this month, Vodafone customers will be able to access ProSiebenSat.1-owned on-demand service, Maxdome, via Vodafone’s new GigaTV entertainment platform.For the first time, Vodafone viewers with a cable TV or IPTV connection will be able to receive, two free TV stations from the ProSiebenSat.1 Group in HD quality – Sat.1 Gold and ProSieben Maxx.Pay TV stations Sat.1 Emotions and Kabel Eins Classics will also be available in Vodafone’s HD Premium Plus package, while ProSieben Fun HD will be added to the HD Premium package.“Vodafone is a very attractive partner. In addition to the nearly eight million cable TV and IPTV Vodafone households, with the new agreement we will expand our potential reach by more than 30 million mobile and DSL customers,” said ProSiebenSat.1 Group COO, Christof Wahl.News of Vodafone Germany’s new advanced TV platform, GigaTV, broke yesterday and the service is due to go live this month.
BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, is considering a £500 million (€557 million) bid to take full control of UKTV, currently a joint venture with Scripps Networks Interactive.BBCWW is talking with advisers about borrowing millions of pounds from private investors to buy Scripps out from its half, according to the Daily Telegraph.The news arrives as Scripps becomes the target of a US$14.6 billion buyout by Discovery, with the UKTV deal looking likely to happen when the Scripps buyout is completed early next year.It is understood that discussions are still at an early stage, and suggested that Discovery itself had been interested in a UKTV buyout adding it to its extensive content library, according to the report.UKTV is a lucrative channel, providing the BBC with a total of £72 million last year.Talk of a Scripps buyout has been apparent for the most part of the year, with Viacom also throwing in its hat this July with a proposed US$10.6 billion.After consideration throughout the year, Discovery has begun moves to acquire the company, which is still subject to approval of both sets of shareholders and regulatory watchdogs.
Vodafone España has taken forward its involvement in eSports by sponsoring the creation of a new all-female eSports team that will compete in Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) competitions.The five-woman team will compete in mixed and all-female events.Vodafone said that the initiative was designed to contribute to the development and growth of eSports in the country.Yesterday’s edition of Vodafone’s eSports show on Twitch, Ask Me Anything, featured an interview with one of the multinational team’s members, Aída García Cortes.Spanish telcos have invested significantly in Esports, with Vodafone’s rivals Telefónica and Orange both supporting the growing activity. Vodafone’s involvement is anchored in its support of the Vodafone Giants team, of which the female group is a part.“The presence of women in Vodafone’s eSports project has been important since we got involved in this area three years ago. A good proof of that is Maya [Pixelskaya], our presenter [of Ask Me Anything], and the girls who work in the streaming and content production team. Having players within the club’s team structure was an ambition shared from the beginning of the alliance between Vodafone and Giants in April 2018, and the presentation with such fanfare today of this team is the result of many months of work on the part of the club,” said Cristina Barbosa, Vodafone España’s director of branding.
In addition to his principal job as deputy director, EBU Technology and Development, broadcasting technology expert David Wood finds time to be chairman of the European High Definition Forum, chairman of the DVB CM-3DTV, chairman of the ITU-R WP6C (Baseband formats and quality evaluation), chairman of the European Digital Radio Forum, and chairman of the World Broadcasting Unions Technical Committee. A renowned broadcast industry technology expert, he has worked tirelessly to promote standards for 3D TV and the new 4K and 8K UHDTV systems.Age 63Education BSc (Hons) Electronics, University of Southampton, UK; MSc and PhD (Thesis in television quality evaluation), Popov Institute, Ukraine; AMP (Advanced Management Programme) Harvard Business School, US.Previous positions Engineer, BBC Research Department; senior engineer, BBC Capital Projects Department; principal engineering information officer, Independent Broadcasting Authority; head of new technology EBU; head of new media EBU; head of emerging media EBU; deputy directory, EBU Technology and Development.Last year’s highlights The agreement on the DVB 3DTV Phase 1 (Frame compatible) broadcast standard. The agreement on the requirements for the DVB 3DTV Phase 2a (Service Compatible). The worldwide agreement in the ITU-R WP6C on most of the parameter values (all except colour equations) for the 4K and 8K UHDTV systems. The award of the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting’. The award of merit by the SMPTE for the paper ‘Understanding Stereoscopic television’. Being elected chairman of the WBU-TC. The Emmy award to ITU-R Study Group 6 for the Loudness work.Most significant industry development I was fortunate enough to lead the standardisation group on Ultra High Definition Television. I believe UHDTV will shape the next 40 years of media, and come sooner that we think. 3DTV will be an important niche system, but will be overshadowed by UHDTV in the long term. The growth of ‘catch-up’ TV throughout the world suggests this will the most important element affecting ‘audience time’ in future.Goals for next year Many issues in the ITU-R, including worldwide finalization all the parameter values for the 4K and 8K UHDTV formats. Completion of requirements for the DVB Phase 2b system (legacy 3DTV compatible). Make progress with ITU-R Recommendation sound systems for UHDTV. A number of issues in the WBU-TC such as preparing guidelines for ‘green broadcasting’. Making an exciting SMPTE/EBU summit next May on the next five, 10, and 15 years of the media work well – as chair of the Programme Committee.Industry challenges and opportunities Across the world there are very many standards and systems emerging for ‘hybrid broadcasting’. There must be some rationalisation of systems if hybrid broadcasting is to achieve its potential. There is growing pressure from network operators to take ever more of the terrestrial broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband. A balance must be found that takes into account the future needs of terrestrial broadcastingAlternative career choice My original hopes were (a) journalist (not eloquent enough); (b) actor (not talented enough), or (c) musician (as with actor).TV character most identified with Maybe the captain of the Welsh rugby team for non-fiction? For a fictional character, I always wanted to be Captain Kirk. If I was, I could use my Phaser to blast the Mr Silly of Sci-Fi, Doctor Who.Most admired personality I would begin with Barack Obama, though his failure to deliver on his promises is disappointing. Europe has few great politicians at the moment.Life outside work I have been a fanatical 3D photographer for many years (I believe 3D works better in stills than in movies). I love reading science fiction, family, light sports…and I admit I watch a lot of movies and TV (as Homer says “TV is my best friend –it is never judgmental!”).