29 September 2009The meetings of world leaders at the General Assembly over the past week have made progress on major issues including climate change, nuclear disarmament and the global financial crisis with the United Nations playing a pivotal role, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today. “It is still early days, of course, but this has been one of the most engaged GA [General Assembly] sessions in years,” he told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York, summing up the opening of the Assembly’s 64th annual General Debate and the meetings that took place on the sidelines. “There is a broad recognition of the UN’s pivotal role in rising to the exceptional challenges of the coming year.”He said the summit meeting he convened on the climate crisis last Tuesday with 101 heads of State and government present laid a “solid foundation” toward December’s Copenhagen meeting, where leaders will seek a new treaty to control emissions of greenhouse gases.“All leaders said they wanted a deal and are prepared to work for it. This gives the negotiations vital political impetus,” he said, citing the leaders’ confirmation of the need to limit the global average temperature rise to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius with most vulnerable countries pushing for an even more stringent 1.5-degree limit. He also noted that on the mitigation front, Japan announced a “bold goal” of 25 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 and China said it would be prepared to take additional actions to reduce energy intensity in the context of an international agreement.On adaptation, he noted that the European Union (EU) announced support for a fast track funding facility for adaptation and their readiness to provide €5 billion to €7 billion to get it started. “At long last, leaders focused on climate change financing and got more concrete, with many expressing support for the proposal for $100 billion annually over the next decade for concrete adaptation and mitigation actions,” Mr. Ban said.“We need to maintain the new momentum and solidify progress in the run-up to Copenhagen.”Turning to disarmament, Mr. Ban said that the issue, along with nuclear non-proliferation, is “now front and centre” as a result of last week’s Security Council summit meeting. “Not long ago, few challenged the idea that nuclear weapons were here to stay,” he added, but the resolution the Council unanimously adopted on Thursday “is an important step. We continue the march for a world without nuclear weapons.” On recovery from the financial crisis, he noted that markets may be bouncing back, but incomes, jobs and people are not. “That is why we have put forward a Global Jobs Pact,” he said. “We are also creating a new Global Impact Vulnerability Alert System (GIVAS), giving us real-time data and analysis on the socio-economic picture around the world, so that governments can reach those who most need it.” He also cited the summit meeting in Pittsburgh of the G20 group of industrialized nations and major economies, which again promised to help the poorest countries. “They pledged more balanced and sustainable growth in the future. Now we must hold them to their word,” he declared.Mr. Ban also cited the meeting he hosted together with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on food security, designed to build on the announcement by the G8 group of industrialized countries in July of a $20-billion food security fund.“For much of the past year, we have focused on immediate needs – saving people from starving,” he said. “Today we are moving more firmly toward a longer term Phase 2 – working a revolution in the way we do agricultural development. We are focusing particularly on small farmers, most of them women. Our approach is about more than feeding the hungry. It’s about empowering the poor.Turning to the flu pandemic, Mr. Ban said the UN system had completed an assessment to help countries prioritize their needs.In recent days, he noted, nine countries agreed to make 10 per cent of their pandemic vaccine supply available to countries in special need – approximately 50 million vaccines; two vaccine manufacturers have agreed to donate 150 million vaccines; and a number of donor-countries have pledged financial and technical support, while others are exploring how they can help.
With a long-term view toward enhancing support for mining customers, Caterpillar announced plans on Friday to build a mining truck facility in Indonesia and to invest to increase capacity at the company’s large mining truck facility and large track-type tractor facility in the USA. The new mining truck facility is planned for Batam, Indonesia. A range of mining truck chassis and bodies will be produced at the new facility and will be shipped to customers throughout AsiaPacific. The company plans to invest about $150 million in the new facility, which is expected to be operational in 2012 for truck bodies, with the first trucks produced in the third quarter of 2013.Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman and Group President Rich Lavin announced these latest capacity expansion plans while attending the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC). The Summit brings business leaders, heads of state and other senior governmental officials together with the aim of improving trade and regional economic integration and cooperation between the 21-member nations. The USA is hosting the 2011 APEC Summit. “It is important that we have announced our latest growth plans for mining at the APEC Summit because much of the global demand for commodities today is being driven by the positive economic growth and development that is taking place in the growth markets of the AsiaPacific region,” Oberhelman said. “The capacity expansion announced today is in addition to our previously announced investments to support our mining business, and it demonstrates our commitment to be the leader in this strategically important industry,” Oberhelman added.“The mining industry is a critical part of Indonesia’s economy and plays an important role in many of the key growth markets in AsiaPacific,” Lavin said. “We have a long and successful history operating in Indonesia, and with this announcement, we continue to build out our full business model across AsiaPacific to better position Caterpillar to compete and succeed in this region, and to maintain our global leadership position,” he added.The Batam facility will be the second manufacturing operation for Caterpillar in Indonesia. The company’s existing production facility, located in Cileungsi, West Java, opened in 1982 and is focused on producing excavators and skidders. The company has also approved plans to triple excavator production at the Cileungsi location. The 20-t class of excavators made in Indonesia are primarily sold into the mining, forestry, construction and agricultural markets across Indonesia.Since the beginning of 2010, Caterpillar has announced a series of investments and capacity expansion plans for its operations across Asia, including a quadrupling of excavator production in Xuzhou, China, and a total of nine new facilities, which are now under construction in China. The company currently has 16 facilities in China, along with four research and development centres and three logistics and parts centers. Caterpillar also has previously announced the construction of two new manufacturing operations for Thailand.There are also to be significant new investments at the company’s existing manufacturing facilities in Decatur, Illinois, and East Peoria, Illinois. The company plans to invest nearly $300 million to further increase capacity for large mining trucks produced in Decatur. An additional capital investment of about $340 million is planned for production of large track-type tractors in East Peoria, which are used in mining applications around the world. The capacity expansion plans in Indonesia and the US will be supported by other Caterpillar component facilities around the world, including the previously announced state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for the machining, assembly, test and painting of axle assemblies for large mining machines. The new axle assembly facility in Winston Salem, North Carolina, is scheduled to open this week.“More than 90% of the large trucks made in Decatur are exported, and more than 80% of the large tractors made in East Peoria are exported,” Oberhelman said. “Beginning with capacity expansion plans announced in 2008, and once the plans announced today are fully in place, we will have nearly tripled our worldwide large truck capacity and doubled our large track-type tractor production capabilities in East Peoria,” Oberhelman said. “It is fitting that we have announced these significant new investments for our operations in Asia and the United States while attending the APEC Summit because it demonstrates the importance of open and free trade between the US and the AsiaPacific region.”The company expects the additional truck capacity in Decatur to be installed by 2016. The work to expand large track-type tractor production in East Peoria is expected to be completed by 2015.
IN CASE YOU needed your pre-existing assumptions confirmed, here it is: Irish workers are very badly behaved at their office Christmas parties.Two out of three managers at Irish companies reported receiving formal complaints – formal complaints! – after their office festivities.Which means, if the figures from 1,012 employers surveyed by Peninsula Ireland are to be relied upon, that the majority of Irish companies include someone who does something completely unacceptable at the party. To the extent that one of their colleagues goes to management about it.Says Alan Price, Peninsula’s managing director: One thing I will say though, when planning office Christmas parties you need to be aware of potential risks including; alcohol-fuelled brawls, harassment and discrimination.Despite this fairly horrifying indictment of Irish people’s behaviour, the number of Christmas parties is going up. Peninsula say 74 per cent of businesses surveyed are organising a Christmas do this year.In 2011, only 49 per cent did. Meaning workers at more than half of Irish companies went without the opportunity for an alcohol-fuelled brawl.Tips for surviving an Irish office Christmas party>13 office Christmas parties we really want an invite to>
Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Former White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus is being honoured as this year’s recipient of the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation‘s Paradigm Award.Described by the Foundation as a “proud Greek American”, the lawyer who served as part of US President Donald Trump’s administration until July 2017 and is now president and chief strategist of law firm Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, has been recognised for his efforts at the forefront of drawing attention to Hellenic issues in the US.“He has been a vocal supporter of US-Greece relations and a strong advocate of Hellenic values such as free speech, freedom of belief, and education,” said the Foundation.Priebus in large part attributes his approach, and hence success, to his Greek Orthodox upbringing.“As a young kid in Wisconsin, I grew up going to Greek Orthodox Church surrounded by a strong, faith-based community,” he told the Foundation.“The values I heard from Scripture and witnessed in the actions of that community helped shape me, and taught me what it means to live a life cloaked in faith and guided by principles.”(R) Priebus and US President Donald Trump.The Paradigm Award, which will officially be presented to Priebus at a special gala event on 16 June, honours the lifelong achievements of a distinguished Greek American whose career and accomplishments are a testimony to the Foundation’s mission.Priebus’ impressive performance in the field of law along with his contribution in the Greek American community also make him a fitting example for the Foundation’s scholars to follow.He joins a high calibre of former Paradigm Award winners, including 2017 recipient, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and business leader John Pappajohn; CEO of Calamos Investments, John S Koudounis who was awarded in 2016; and 2009’s recipient NASA Senior Planetary Scientist Dr Thanasis Economou, amongst a host of others.A not-for-profit organisation, the Foundation is dedicated to promoting education and leadership. It recognises and honours exceptional undergraduate students of Hellenic descent with monetary awards in a bid to support their individual efforts, and the collective push to build “a better America through Education and Hellenism”.
Stay on target Lego fans, rejoice! Today marks the launch of The LEGO NINJAGO Movie Video Game on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam. This launch coincides with The LEGO Ninjago Movie which also releases in theaters today.“With new, powerful combat moves, players can jump into the action with adrenaline pumping fighting sequences that let them jump higher, kick harder, swing further and defy gravity to conquer their enemies,” reads today’s press release. “Players can master the art of Ninja-gility by running on walls, high-jumping and battling foes of NINJAGO to rank up and upgrade the ninja’s combat skills, and traverse across NINJAGO Island fluidly with parkour-like moves. The new combat moves include Rushing Boar, a dash attack to bridge the gap between characters, Floating Butterfly, a jump lunge attack that allows the ninja to leap and attack from above, Swooping Hawk, a jump slam attack, and Stinging Bee, a flurry of very fast strikes.”As players progress, they unlock new combat skills and abilities. These allow for the mastery of “Spinjitzu” which will helps with dispatching the game’s various hordes of enemies. Each ninja can unlock new combat techniques, moves, and elemental powers along with upgradeable weapons. All of these can be combined throughout the game.The game features eight open-world(ish) levels. Not only are they based on locations from the movie, but also from the LEGO NINJAGO TV series. Places like NINJAGO City and NINJAGO Island contain many hidden items to collect. They also have unique Challenge Dojos where players can test their combat skills by battling against waves of increasingly challenging foes. On top of that, the game’s Battle Maps allow players to face off against one another in three different game modes. These modes feature competitive split-screen local gameplay for up to four players.You can buy The LEGO NINJAGO Movie Video Game over on Amazon.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. The New Lego UCS Imperial Star Destroyer Is Nearly Four Feet LongLego Makes Building Sets Accessible to the Blind
Argentine international star Lionel Messi says family is more important than awards and trophies.The Barca forward has numerous awards and trophies, so much so that he can decide to have a museum full of all of them. But he prefers family ties and relationship to all of that.The Argentine spoke to Marca and talked about family, Cristiano Ronaldo and coming fifth in the Ballon d’Or voting this year.“I love football, but family is above everything,” said Messi with regard to his outlook on life, before touching on more specific subjects.Fiorentina owner: “Ribery played better than Ronaldo!” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso was left gushing over Franck Ribery’s performance against Juventus, which he rates above that of even Cristiano Ronaldo’s.“The rivalry with Cristiano was very healthy and very beautiful for the spectators,” he said about the competition with the Portuguese.“I heard the nominees for the Ballon d’Or and I knew I would not be in the fight,” he said about finishing fifth, with Luka Modric winning the award.Messi has won Ballon d’Ors five times and five Golden Boots. He could win more in the future.
Enroll Now for Free This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. July 9, 2014 Updated on July 10 at 10:45 with comments from Google spokesperson.A storm is brewing among leading cloud storage providers, and business owners stand to benefit enormously from rapidly plummeting prices.Today, Google Cloud Platform — the arm of the company that provides computing, storage and application services for web-based businesses — said it would offer customers two terabytes of free storage for one year, The Wall Street Journal reports.The move not only takes aim at early arriver and industry leaders like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, but illustrates that such storage may soon become entirely free, say some industry experts.Related: 4 Signs It’s Time for a Cloud-Based HR Platform“Storage is a race to the bottom on pricing,” Rajesh Abhyankar, CEO of cloud-consulting firm MediaAgility told the Journal. “The money will be in software and services that sit and run on top of these companies’ cloud platforms.”Abhyankar added that “Google is trying really hard to catch up with AWS. These types of offers may persuade users to move their data.”Google’s offer comes through one of its partners, cloud services startup Panzura, which also partners with Amazon, Dell and Cisco.Related: Deflating 4 Myths About the Wonders of Cloud ComputingAnd while it might seem like a great deal, the offer may not end up being such a bargain in the long run. A Google spokesperson told Entrepreneur.com that once the promotion is complete standard pricing resumes. (Currently, on Google Cloud Platform, pricing per GB is 2.6 cents a month.)Google did not immediately return Entrepreneur.com’s request for comment.As for its competitors, Amazon charges as low as 1 cent a month per GB, or $120 a year, for infrequently accessed storage. Microsoft Azure charges its customers 2.4 cents a GB per month for the first TB of data storage.Related: Many Entrepreneurs Still Up in the Air About the CloudIn recent months, prices have fallen fast in the lucrative cloud services arena. Last April, each of the three major providers announced price cuts of up to 85 percent for various services within days of one another.And profits are sizable. Though none of the above break out sales figures, financial firm Bernstein Research estimates that Amazon Web Services raked in $3 billion last year, while Microsoft and Google “each pulled in several hundred million dollars,” according to the Journal.Other companies like Dropbox and Box are also renowned for providing free digital storage, though the reduced amounts they offer are more suited to individuals.Related: How the Cloud Could Huff and Puff and Blow Your Business Down Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now 3 min read
DJI Spark Mini RC Selfie Drone (White) for $434Not into Fly More Combo? You can also get your hands on the DJI Spark Mini with huge savings for a limited time only.Head over to this link.Click on Add to Cart.Go to the cart.Enter coupon code Bfriday022 to get the price down to $434.99.Hit Apply and Proceed to Checkout.Bonus: You can save 20% extra on DJI products and accessories. Head over here and use code GB11.11Toys to get discounts. No other Chinese tech manufacturer can match the dominance experienced by DJI in the world. While the smartphone and accessory makers from the country repeatedly face questions over spyware and are considered as “cheaper alternatives” to more “secure” and reliable products, DJI has no such competition. The company continues to enjoy popularity and has its drones being adopted not only by the governments (and armies) but also by the masses.Over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we shared a number of deals offering massive discounts on DJI’s Phantom 3 SE and Mavic Pro. While many of them may have come to an end (check this link as some of the codes are still working!), we can’t totally forget about the company’s sparkling cute Spark Mini quadcopter.“Spark is a mini drone that features all of DJI’s signature technologies, allowing you to seize the moment whenever you feel inspired,” the popular drone manufacturer claims. You can now get DJI Spark Mini and save over $260!Save over $250 on DJI Spark Mini RC Selfie Drone (Yellow)The DJI Spark Mini Fly More Combo is originally priced at nearly $900 with the company itself offering it for over $600 during the holiday period. However, you can get it for just $586.99 for the first 10 units!Head over to this link.Click on Add to Cart.Go to the cart.Enter coupon code colordji to get the price down to $586.99.Hit Apply and Proceed to Checkout.The code is only valid for first 10 units, so act fast before this one runs out too. Share Tweet Submit
Related posts:UPDATE: CNN seems to have bumped special on US man’s mysterious death in Costa Rica Costa Rica court finds US expat Ann Patton not guilty in third murder trial Guilty of murder: Costa Rica court convicts expat Ann Patton of killing husband in 2010 Costa Rica appeal of Patton ‘not guilty’ verdict would have little to stand on, legal experts say Facebook Comments Ann Maxin Patton, 43, was in court again today in San Isidro de El General for a retrial on charges that she murdered her husband, U.S. financier John Felix Bender, 44, in a bizarre incident at their jungle mansion in 2010.Patton, born in Brazil, has always claimed Bender’s death, the result of a single gunshot wound to the neck, had been a suicide. A Costa Rican court had cleared her once of the charges, but an appeals court tossed out that verdict and ordered a retrial.Upon entering the courtroom Monday morning, Patton said, “I hope justice in Costa Rica does its job, as it did the first time. I must trust this country’s justice system. My husband committed suicide and that’s what happened. All this is very painful to relive.”Costa Rican prosecutor Edgar Ramírez, however, insisted Patton killed her husband as he slept. “We will demonstrate that there is convincing evidence, scientific proof that is irrefutable, “Ramírez said.Asked by the court on Monday about her relationship with Bender, Patton described how the two met, how their relationship evolved and how it ended on a fateful night in January 2010.Patton said she met Bender on March 15, 1998 at 4:30 p.m. “On that day it was love at first sight for both of us,” she said.For the next two weeks she visited Bender where he was living, on a farm in the U.S. state of Virginia.“Besides love at first sight, what made us such good friends, such good partners, were primarily our love for animals, a love for conservation, a love for any and all things that were conservationist in ethics and in action,” Patton said.In the U.S., Bender worked from home as a hedge fund manager, and Patton became his personal assistant as he worked 18 hours a day, six days a week.“This was John’s trust in me, and he seeing in me someone that he felt to be intelligent, useful, valuable, was an amazingly beautiful thing for me, just at a time when I needed it most,” Patton testified.“After we met and fell in love I remember something that John told me, that he had never expected that it would happen to him. He had felt that he would never meet someone that he would want to spend the rest of his life with,” Patton said.“Between when we met and when we decided to come to Costa Rica for the first time for me, which was November of ’98, over the course of that time we realized in our discussions the way we were living together, how successfully we were able to live and work together 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the exception of when we had doctors appointments or the like,” she added.According to Patton, at 30, Bender decided he would continue working a few years and then move to Costa Rica, where he planned to establish a wildlife refuge.In March 2000, the couple moved to Costa Rica permanently, where they settled into 5,000 acres of land in the Southern Zone. They met and hired a lawyer, who also would become a fiduciary for the land deals in Florida de Barú, Pérez Zeledón.In previous statements to the press, Patton has said the couples’ lives together began to change one year after moving to Costa Rica. She claimed they were attacked by corrupt police who had been hired by another U.S. citizen, who had sued Bender. To protect themselves, they bought firearms and allegedly obtained firearm permits.They continued their plan of building a jungle paradise home and retreat, and in October 2004, construction of the Boyacarán wilderness refuge was complete.But Patton testified that Bender’s estate trustee said he was quickly running out of money, and the death of some animals on the estate led Bender to believe he had failed at in his conservation efforts. Patton said her husband’s frame of mind quickly deteriorated and he became depressed. He also had a history of depression and bipolar disorder, she said.Patton’s version of the events on Jan. 8, 2010 has remained consistent with her past statements: Her husband committed suicide and she fought with him that night in an unsuccessful attempt to wrestle the firearm away from him. Prosecutors, however, say she shot him.In January 2013, a Costa Rican court agreed with Patton’s version of events, and the case was thrown out. But in August 2013, an appeals court in Cartago, east of the capital, annulled the previous ruling and ordered the court in Pérez Zeledón to schedule a new trial.According to the appeals court, the penal court that first heard Patton’s case failed to correctly review evidence and alleged inconsistencies in Patton’s testimony.Prosecutors say that when Bender died, he was wearing earplugs, had three pillows under his head, and his legs were flexed in a sleeping position. They claim it is illogical that he would shoot himself in that position. They also say there were no signs of gunpowder residue on Bender’s hands, while Patton allegedly wiped her hands with napkins after the shooting. Those napkins revealed traces of gunpowder, prosecutors claim.Patton has Lyme disease, and to alleviate symptoms she took intravenous morphine, she testified, along with an anticoagulant and antibiotics. She also is bipolar, and takes clonazepam and alprazolam.The trial is expected to last a week.The case is featured in a special CNN investigation titled, “Love & Death in Paradise.” Watch a trailer here:
The two winners of the first round of the presidential elections begun consultations on Monday ahead of the runoff vote on Sunday, as the losers took stock of their defeat.Incumbent Nicos Anastasiades, who finished first but with a narrow margin compared to the 2013 election, said he would wait for parties to complete their internal procedures before making a move.Both Anastasiades and Akel-backed Stavros Malas now have to decide whether they can negotiate with the losing candidates to attract their supporters’ votes next Sunday.When asked about Anastasiades’ next steps, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said “first of all we will be patient, with full respect towards the parties, for them to finish their in-house procedures and then act.”In a written statement on Monday, Malas said a new social majority had been created, which wanted true, creative and hopeful change.He said his government would not be the product of horse-trading, but added that it was the duty of all political forces in line with the will of the people to exhaust all room for agreement.He said if he is elected next Sunday his government would be representative of the desires and expectations of the people, “a government that will change the way of administration and introduce a new culture of political transparency and respect towards citizens”.What was important was to seek the points of convergence between the social and political forces from which the people expect cooperation to forge an alliance that will bring change he said.“We will leave the past behind us. We will overcome yesterday’s divisions.”As early as Sunday evening, when the first-round results became clear, party officials doing the rounds on television appeared to tone down the rhetoric, preparing the ground for potential alliances.Both sides, Anastasiades and Akel-backed Stavros Malas, whose better-than-expected performance suggested he had a shot at the presidency, will be looking to Diko for backing, even though the party appears split.Diko, Edek, Solidarity, and the Green party which backed Nicolas Papadopoulos, who failed to go into the second round after losing to Malas with a bigger margin than polls had suggested, exchanged views on Monday.“There was an informal exchange of views in relation with the political situation and the state of affairs ahead of the second round,” campaign spokesman Chrysis Pantelides said.He said Anastasiades and Malas are “completely aligned on the Cyprus problem and therefore completely opposed to our politics. As far as domestic politics are concerned, we believe both, for different reasons, are unsuitable to handle the situation.”Nonetheless, Pantelides said “all possibilities are open”, as to what the party would decide to do in terms of potentially supporting one of the two candidates.“I believe both are equally inappropriate for the presidency of the country.”However, there have already been warnings from voters on social media to both candidates that any co-operation with Papadopoulos or the party that backed him would mean a loss of their support.The same went for far-right Elam, which received 5.65 per cent of the vote. Malas made it clear before the election that he was not going to talk to Elam, nor would he be responding to a questionnaire the party said it would send the runoff contenders.Ruling Disy leader Averof Neophytou said Monday that Anastasiades would be responding but he was not prepared to change his policies on the Cyprus problem or the economy.Elam spokesman Geadis Geadi said the document will be sent to both candidates “very soon”. It contains questions on the Cyprus problem, the economy, and other social issues.After receiving their responses, the party’s political bureau would convene to decide on its next move.“All scenarios are open,” he said, though it would be quite a big surprise if they decide to back Malas.Akel chief Andros Kyprianou appealed for unity on Monday to bring real change.Malas, he said, “Is the voice of all those who want to see Cyprus reunited and peaceful. The voice of those who want dignified and quality jobs, a social state that will protect and not humiliate, meritocracy and growth for all.”Akel officials have tried hard throughout the campaign to put a distance between the party and Malas in a bid to allay fears that his possible election would be a repeat of the woeful administration of Demetris Christofias.But no sooner had he qualified for the runoff, then the incumbent’s campaign started banging on about the Christofias administration and the collapse of the economy, showing early on that that would be their main line of offence.Malas, on the other hand, is also trying to calm down concerns, saying he will be announcing his finance ministry on Wednesday.Names have floated around, including that of Mike Spanos, Akel’s first choice for candidate who didn’t pass muster eventually, but according to Kyprianou nothing has been confirmed yet.“As far as I know he has not yet decided on who would this person be,” he said. 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Categories: Steven Johnson News State Representative Steve Johnson invites local residents to join him during office hours:Monday, March 13thKent CountyKentwood City Hall4900 Breton Road SE5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.Monday, March 27thAllegan CountyWayland City Hall103 S. Main Street5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.“Meeting with people and listening to their ideas and concerns helps me better represent them in the state legislature,” said Johnson, R-Wayland. “I am committed to keeping in touch with residents because I genuinely value their input concerning state government.”No appointment is necessary and there is no cost to attend. Those unable to attend are encouraged to call Rep. Johnson’s office at 517-373-0840, email StevenJohnson@house.mi.gov or visit his website at www.RepJohnson.com. 22Feb Representative Johnson announces March office hours
16Mar Rep. Victory votes to increase transparency for state government Categories: News,Victory News State Rep. Roger Victory of Hudsonville voted ‘yes’ on a package of bills passed by the House that makes state government more transparent.The legislation subjects the governor and lieutenant governor to the Freedom of Information Act and has similar requirements for state representatives and senators called the Legislative Open Records Act.“The public has the right to see how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent,” Victory said. “Michigan has repeatedly scored poorly for transparency standards when compared to other states. We need to address this problem directly and remove the barriers keeping public information from the people.”The legislation is similar to a package of bills introduced last session and passed overwhelmingly by the House. The bills did not make it to the governor for signature.#####
State Rep. Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville will host office hours in Fowlerville, Hartland and Howell on Friday, Jan. 19.Rep. Vaupel will meet with residents at the following locations:Fowlerville: 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Fowlerville Farms, 941 S. Grand Ave.;Hartland: 4 to 5 p.m. at Biggby Coffee, 11325 W. Highland Road; andHowell: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at All Star Coney Island, 934 S. Michigan Ave.“I appreciated the conversations and ideas from our community during office hours this past year,” Rep. Vaupel said. “I look forward to continue listening to your feedback in 2018.”Rep. Vaupel hosts district office hours on the third Friday of every month. Residents who are unable to attend, but would like to voice concerns or ideas, may contact Rep. Vaupel’s office by phone at (517) 373-8835 or by email at HankVaupel@house.mi.gov. 11Jan Rep. Vaupel to host in-district office hours on Jan. 19 Categories: Vaupel News
Categories: Allor News 07Jun Rep. Allor calls on federal government to release PFAS study State Rep. Sue Allor this week called on the federal government to release critical information regarding chemical contamination in drinking water and provide additional support to affected communities.Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances – known collectively as PFAS – are an emerging type of chemical contaminant identified in groundwater in a number of Michigan communities over the past few years.“The federal government is holding back information from a scientific assessment that reportedly shows certain chemicals endanger human health at a far lower level than the Environmental Protection Agency previously identified as safe,” Allor said. “Infants, breastfeeding mothers, and other sensitive populations may be at risk. It’s critically important for the federal government to be transparent and share this information with the public.”The EPA health advisory level for PFAS is currently set at 70 parts-per-trillion (ppt). According to reports, the Centers for Disease Control has indicated the level should be dropped to less than 12 ppt for some types of PFAS.This week, Allor introduced a resolution urging the federal government to release the draft toxicological profile on PFAS, develop a national environmental limit for PFAS, and increase coordination and funding support.“Release of the draft assessment will ensure a broad review from experts across the country so that it may accurately inform decisions at the federal, state and local level,” Allor said. “New research must be conducted and incorporated into our response, including the development of a national standard for exposure that protects the public health.”Michigan has been a national leader in efforts to identify the scope of the contamination problem through the establishment of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART). The team is coordinating response efforts among 10 state departments, local governmental units, and federal and local agencies.Allor said a number of the sites where PFAS contamination has been identified are former military bases operated by the federal government. Her district includes the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center.“The federal government has a duty to ensure states receive the necessary funding to carry out efforts needed to protect the public health,” Allor said. “It’s time for the federal government to follow Michigan’s example and increase coordination of agencies working on this issue to ensure the most effective response.”The measure, House Concurrent Resolution 24, was adopted by the House Wednesday and now awaits consideration in the Senate.###
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares August 19, 2014;Alternatives JournalTrent University professor of environmental and resource science Stephen Bocking has written a brief essay in Alternatives Journal on the challenges of divestment. After being impressed with a prominent environmentalist who said he would stop flying as a protest against fossil fuels, Bocking recalls spotting the activist a few years later at a frequent flyer lounge at Toronto Airport. Obviously, even if he were sincere in wanting to stop flying, the environmentalist’s work required it. Living and functioning free of fossil fuels is not easy in modern society.To Bocking, it is a story with relevance to the divestment movement active at a number of Canadian college campuses. The Canadian Youth Climate Coalition began a Fossil Free Canada campaign in January 2013. CYCC’s president, Kesley Mech, describes divestment as “a strong way to send a super-clear message that we’re no longer interested in supporting fossil fuel use.” Bocking says that divestment campaigns like CYCC’s hope to repeat the successes they see as having been achieved in divestment efforts around tobacco, military industries, and South African apartheid.“Divestment is the perfect gesture,” Bocking says. “It feels good, might be profitable, [and] requires no change in personal behavior.” It might even be a moneymaker, in that if fossil fuels become less valuable due to divestment, early divesters will have made a smart investment (or, rather, divestment) decision. He calls divestment a “clear and convenient response to an inconvenient truth.” But he suggests that it is less clear that divestment really makes a difference when it comes to its effect on the climate. Fossil fuel divestment, Bocking says, is different than other divestment issues, because “we can’t separate from fossil fuels—they are mixed up with everything we do.” He adds that the direct impacts of divestment are limited, especially since by universities and other nonprofits selling their shares in fossil fuel companies, those shares will be purchased by investors who in all likelihood have much less interest in changing energy practices and climate change.He also challenges the notion that divestment should be portrayed as a moral issue, calling it a counterproductive strategy. “Threats of shaming don’t usually change behavior—if anything, they make people defensive,” Bocking writes. “Telling people they are immoral is a lousy way to get them on your side.” Rather than divestment, he suggests that activists “work with, rather than shun, the [fossil fuel] industry” to get them to work toward more sustainable energy options.At the University of Dayton, all of these issues and more came to the fore in the university’s decision to divest from investments that have the largest holdings in fossil fuels. Fr. Martin Solma, the vice chair of the university’s board of trustees and provincial, or leader, of the Marianist Province of the United States, described the University’s divestment decision making. In June, the University of Dayton became the first major Catholic University in the U.S.—with an endowment of $670 million and a student population of roughly 11,000—to join the fossil fuel divestment movement.Fr. Solma’s analysis tackled some of the same issues raised by Bocking. He said that the university board had a member who questioned whether the divestment decision was a hypocritical decision “because all of us benefit from coal and fossil fuel.” Moreover, some questioned whether Dayton’s divestment decision would be “too small to make any real impact.” Solma’s answer is that the “too small” argument represents a “defeatist attitude.” He said if one succumbed to the “too small” argument, “you wouldn’t do anything about anything.”In contrast to Bocking, Solma’s reasoning is essentially a moral argument. He called the decision “a symbolic decision on the part of people of faith,” with the cumulative decision of many Catholic universities, were they to divest, as a major statement about fossil fuels. Notwithstanding the comparatively small size of Dayton’s divestment (approximately five percent of its investment portfolio, amounting to roughly $33.5 million), Solma referenced the response of Mother Teresa to criticisms of her work: “One by one,” he said.Like the intent of the environmentalist at the Toronto Airport, Solma said that the divestment decision accompanied plans on rethinking energy use on the university’s campus with recycling, food services, energy audits of student housing, and other aspects of university life. According to Solma, the university’s policies have to be made consistent with the fossil fuel divestment decision.The difficulty in the divestment decision is actually making it happen. The university can disengage from equity investments in the specific companies on the “carbon 200” list of fossil fuel corporations. However, the investment portfolios of institutions large and small are more complex than investments in specific stocks. Like others, the University of Dayton maintains investments in various investment funds, hedge funds, and other, more complex instruments, which may or may not contain fossil fuel-purveying corporations. The equity disinvestment risk for the university is small, Solma admitted, with “a very minor impact on our returns,” even once the university works through its various funds.In some ways, Solma acknowledged that the divestment decision of the University of Dayton changes little on its own, and even the cumulative decisions of a number of Catholic schools may not affect the fossil fuel industry much, just as Bocking suggests. Divestment in a way is “a challenge to ourselves as a university community,” Solma said. “We have to be more concerned about a sustainable future, more discerning about how we use resources.”Ultimately, similar to Bocking’s assertion, Solma’s analysis is that the university’s divestment decision is a statement within the university, establishing “a higher bar of responsibility.” Anticipating an encyclical from Pope Francis soon on stewardship and public concerns, Solma’s perspective sees the Dayton decision as consistent with the school’s religious mission, but, contrary to Bocking’s assertion, that the university must change its own behavior to be consistent with the principles of the fossil fuel divestment. “We’re doing this in kind of a humble way,” Fr. Solma said.Divestment decisions concerning an industry as massive and pervasive as the carbon-dependent energy sector may not have much of an effect on the industry, as Bocking indicates. However, it is a decision aimed morally, less on the behavior of others than to address and reform the behavior of the individuals and institutions choosing to divest. In that sense, there is nothing wrong with “one by one,” so long as one’s personal and institutional efforts to divest don’t end up with being spotted driving a low-mileage gas-guzzler.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share8TweetShareEmail8 SharesAugust 31, 2015; The HillA few weeks ago, NPQ reported on the grief and outrage locals and government officials felt toward the EPA following a disastrous 3 million gallon spill of wastewater into the Animas River, a major waterway in the Southwest. Among those that were vocal about their grievances were residents of the Navajo Nation, a Native American–governed territory that occupies parts of Arizona and Utah that were affected by the spill. As anticipated, the Navajo Nation, which comprises some 300,000 tribe members, is planning legal action against the EPA for also contaminating the San Juan River, an important water source.According to The Hill, the Navajo Nation has hired a prominent firm to represent them, with John Hueston leading the team. Hueston was the lead prosecutor on the case against the Enron executives who were convicted of fraud and conspiracy in 2006.The decision to pursue legal action follows a two-week stalemate after Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye rejected the EPA’s official lift on the ban against using the water in the San Juan River, indicating it was safe for irrigational purposes. While some parts of the river reopened at the end of last week, others are still restricted from use.“I am furious that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has placed the Navajo Nation into this position,” Begaye said. “Our farms will not last much longer without water, and our resources are depleting. These past few days, I have visited with the farmers along the San Juan River because they are part of this decision.”The overwhelming concern of the officials was that the water could still contaminate the crops and fields. In particular, officials and locals are concerned whether the soil is contaminated.“I’m glad the water samples indicate the water is safe for irrigation use, but I remain concerned over the soil and sediment that lines our river bank,” Begaye said. “Every time a heavy storm hits or the soil is disturbed, it can re-contaminate the water.”The crux of the tribe’s case is the loss of livelihood, culture, and “peace of mind” for the past several weeks, as noted by Navajo Nation attorney Ethel Branch. This Tuesday, President Begaye also formally requested FEMA help to manage the impact of the spill.The Denver Post previously reported on the impact of the spill on Navajo farmers. As their community is heavily agricultural, Navajo officials fear using the contaminated waters, leaving farmers’ crops drying up and dying in the summer heat. Farmers had already been facing a drought; with the river also contaminated, “I’m going to lose about 6.5 acres of crops,” said Robert Laphahie, a member of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The reservation is working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to receive water for consumption and agricultural purposes.The EPA has said it has initiated its own internal investigation into the spill, which unleashed millions of gallons of contaminants into the water, including arsenic and lead.—Shafaq HasanShare8TweetShareEmail8 Shares
German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 has acquired a stake in online social network meetOne.The company, through its SevenVentures investment arm, has bought a 29% stake in the website, which was developed by the team behind successful online gaming venture Bigpoint. The site, which is run by managing director Mila Sukhareva, combines online social networking with a dating site and was launched in the second quarter of 2011.Christian Wegner, chief new media and diversification officer at ProSiebenSat.1, said: “MeetOne is the logical next step beyond social networks and successful online dating models. Its target group is substantially larger than for online dating. The network impressed us with two aspects especially: its highly successful, international team, and a product that combines entertainment with an innovative business model. We also foresee many opportunities for links with TV shows. So meetOne enriches our equity investment portfolio with another fast-growing startup company that has very good prospects for success.”
Time Warner is reportedly offering about €1 billion for Endemol in a deal that would involve the US media giant providing the producer and distributor with €100 million of working capital.The Time Warner bid came to light late last week and followed news of another potential deal that would see existing Endemol shareholder and Italian broadcaster Mediaset and finance house Celssidra inject €200 million of working capital in return for a majority stake in the content company. Local press reported that Mediaset and Clessidra are eyeing re-launching a recapitalised Endemol as a way of averting existing creditors from converting debt into equity in the company.Mediaset was part of a group including Goldman Sachs and a John de Mol investment vehicle that acquired Endemol for €2.8 billion in 2007.Endemol is carrying about €2.8 billion of debt load and last week agreed a deal to postpone repayment terms until mid-November
ITV’s international business has registered increased overall profit and revenue driven by a raft of international commissions. However, year-on-year sales at the UK free-to-air broadcaster’s programme sales division, Global Entertainment, decreased in 2011.ITV’s production and distribution activities are housed in its ITV Studios division. Total revenue increased 10% year-on-year, taking the total to £612 million (€724 million). EBITA profit of £83 million was up £2 million.ITV Studios now makes 55% of ITV1’s output and £345 million of ITV Studio’s revenues came from the UK.International production revenue was up by a third, driven by 45 new commissions including the upcoming ITV Studios coproduction Titanic. Programme sales revenue, meanwhile, fell £3 million, taking the total to £126 million and ITV blamed the weak DVD market in the UK.Kevin Lygo joined ITV Studios as managing director in 2010 and ITV CEO Adam Crozier said headway was being made in the production and distribution business. “We are making encouraging progress but, given the long lead time involved in production, there is still a lot of work to do to develop scale in our content business on the international stage,” he said. “We will continue to develop and invest in our international network as we build on the momentum which has been created within ITVS.”ITV recorded overall group revenue of £2.1 billion in 2011, a 4% year-on-year increase. EBITA was £462 million, a 13% increase year-on-year.“We’re now almost two years into our five-year transformation plan and our continued growth in revenue and profit – at a time when the advertising market is broadly flat – demonstrates that we’re performing in line with our strategic priorities,” Crozier said. “The increase in non-advertising revenues of £93m, driven by our studios and online businesses, is clear evidence of progress in rebalancing the company and our ability to grow new revenue streams.”
German public broadcasters and cable operators are engaged in a struggle over the former’s growing reluctance to pay retransmission fees, ANGA Cable attendees heard this morning.Karola Wille, managing director of regional public broadcaster Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR) told attendees at the opening panel session at the congress that it was not normal in other countries for broadcasters to pay cable operators for carriage. There were now multiple distributors of content and cable operators had to compete for content, she said. “We think this is a good point in time not to pay fees to the cable operators any more,” she said.Kabel Deutschland chief operating officer Manuel Cubero retorted by saying that cable operators were an inexpensive infrastructure option for public broadcasters. ARD and ZDF paid €2 per home for access – much less than for satellite carriage or to use the digital-terrestrial platform. “We think we are the perfect partner for public broadcasters [and others],” he said. Pubcasters benefited from their enormous market power and from the imposition of must-carry rules, he said. Cubero said he was optimistic an acceptable deal could be reached, but cable was not willing to see this revenue stream disappear. “We hold the view that we are willing to negotiate,” he said. “Public broadcasters take enormous capacity in our network. They take 30% more capacity than private broadcasters taken together.”Wille said that satellite and terrestrial platforms were different because there were no subscriptions from which platform operators could make money. All platforms received HD channels from public broadcasters and benefited from their content, she added.Speaking on the same panel, Liberty Global president and CEO Mike Fries said that his company remained open minded about the issue. He said there were ways to renegotiate the business arrangements so that both cable and broadcasters were happy. He said that feed in fees were not unusual in other countries.Conrad Albert, head of legal, distribution and regulatory affairs, ProSiebenSat.1 Media, said that it was not acceptable to have different regimes for public and private broadcasters and that any relaxation of retransmission fees for public broadcasters would mean that commercial players would be entitled to seek similar terms.