Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Authorities have regained control of the checkpoints, which had been overrun by Taliban fighters. Forty insurgents were killed and 18 wounded, the statement said.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. “With the rise of ISIS and the distinct fighting season that is marked this year, the threat environment continues to evolve in ways that clearly, in my view, demands a reassessment of the administration’s current calendar-driven drawdown of U.S. forces with a plan that must be based on conditions on the ground,” McCain said.Afghan forces have struggled to fight off the Taliban since the U.S. and NATO combat mission officially concluded at the end of last year. More than 2,300 Afghan soldiers, police and pro-government fighters have been killed since the start of the year — more than the total number of U.S. troops killed since the 2001 invasion that ended Taliban rule.Meanwhile, Afghan lawmakers rejected President Ashraf Ghani’s nominee for defense minister, a position that has remained empty for more than nine months amid some of the toughest fighting since the Taliban insurgency began 14 years ago. Masoom Stanekzai received 84 out of the 107 votes needed for parliamentary approval.Stanekzai’s rejection reflects in part a power struggle between Ghani and Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Stanekzai, the second nominee put forth by Ghani to be rejected, is also seen by some to be ineffective, based on the chaotic security situation around the country. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Stanekzai previously led the High Peace Council negotiating body charged with ending the conflict with the Taliban. He has been serving as the country’s top defense official in an acting capacity.In January, Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi also failed to get enough votes in parliament. It could be months before a new nominee for the position is put forth.Also Saturday, men on a motorcycle attacked a pair of schoolgirls in the western city of Herat, throwing an unknown chemical substance in their faces, authorities said. The victims, aged 16 and 17, were hospitalized in stable condition, said Mohammad Rafiq Sherzai, spokesman for the Herat hospital.It was not clear what sort of substance was used in the attack but it was not acid, he added.Police were searching for the two men, who attacked the students as they were on their way to school, and no arrests had been made, said Rauf Ahmadi, spokesman for the Herat police.Authorities on Saturday also raised the death toll from a Taliban attack on several police checkpoints in Wardak province. The Wednesday night attack left 24 police dead, up from the previously reported total of seven, and two wounded, according to a statement from the provincial governor’s office. Men’s health affects baby’s health too Mesa family survives lightning strike to home The vital role family plays in society Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The ongoing Taliban offensive in Afghanistan demands a reassessment of the Obama administration’s current plan to drawdown U.S. forces, U.S. Sen. John McCain said Saturday during a visit to the country’s capital.The Republican told reporters that Afghan national forces are fighting bravely, but suffering heavy losses in the field.American and international troops have already stopped playing a combat role, remaining as trainers for local forces. The international numbers will be reduced further at the end of 2016. But McCain said reductions should be based on conditions on the ground. Comments Share Sponsored Stories
Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Jobs Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Refinance Service Providers 2013-01-08 Krista Franks Brock in Data, Origination As we delve into the new year, many wonder what lies ahead in the mortgage industry. According to one mortgage lender, we can expect declining originations, rising interest rates, and fewer mortgage professionals. [IMAGE]Residential mortgage origination volume will decline 24 percent this year, largely driven by significant declines in refinances, according to Milford, Connecticut-based “”Total Mortgage Services, LLC.””:http://www.totalmortgage.com/index2.asp?utm_expid=640214016&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.totalmortgage.com%2Findex2.aspThe mortgage lending company foresees purchase originations rising by about 16 percent this year. However, a sharp decline in refinance originations will more than offset this growth, according to the company’s analysts. In addition, interest rates that continue to hover near record lows will soon become a thing of the past, according [COLUMN_BREAK]to Total Mortgage Services. The company anticipates rates will begin rising by the second half of 2013. The lender expects strengthening in the overall economy will contribute to higher interest rates. “”Rising employment and wages, while supporting the residential real estate market, will also help to push interest rates higher and cut refinance volume significantly,”” the company states. Changes in the mortgage market landscape this year “”will present mortgage lenders with a new set of challenges,”” said John Walsh, president of Total Mortgage Services. “”This new set of challenges will require adaptation by lenders that wish to survive in the new lending environment,”” he added. As refinances decline and purchases rise, originators will have to adapt. Total Mortgage Services suggests the “”vast majority of mortgage originators are wholly unprepared”” for this change. However, not all originators will adapt, according to the company, and not all will need to. The company anticipates a 30 to 35 percent decline in employment in the originations sector this year. While a decline may be warranted this year, “”the most likely victims of the industry’s reduction in force [will be] younger, less experienced workers.”” This trend will lead to a whole new obstacle for the industry: “”the graying of the mortgage industry,”” Total Mortgage Services says. January 8, 2013 402 Views Will 2013 Bring Declining Originations and Rising Interest Rates? Share
Nationstar Mortgage Holdings rebounded from a $48 million net loss in the first quarter this year to post a net income of $75 million ($0.69 per share) for the second quarter in the company’s Q2 2015 earnings statement released Thursday.The Lewisville, Texas-based residential mortgage servicer posted adjusted earnings of $35 million ($0.32 per share) for Q2, which was an increase of 59 percent from Q1. Nationstar received $52 million ($0.47 per share) of after-tax benefits resulting from the net increase in the value of mortgage servicing rights and related liabilities accounted for at fair value. The company also had $10 million ($0.10 per share) in after-tax expense related to streamlining operations (including severance).With a larger servicing portfolio, Nationstar’s servicing segment produced an increase of $16 million sequentially in Q2, primarily as a result of increased incentive fees, which were due to continued strong operational performance and higher servicing fees.A favorable rate environment and focused execution resulted in adjusted pretax income of $59 million for Nationstar in Q2. Xome, the company’s end-to-end real estate platform, produced top-line growth of $14 million sequentially, largely as the result of an increase in property sales, according to Nationstar.”We remain resolute in our strategy of creating long-term sustainable growth by capitalizing on market opportunities, increasing the profitability of our servicing segment, building the first fully integrated digital platform for buying or selling a home through Xome and taking advantage of the recovering economy and rising rate environment, all of which we believe will create additional value for our shareholders,” said Jay Bray, CEO of Nationstar. “Our servicing segment continues to operate as the top ranked servicer in its FNMA STAR peer group and had a significantly improved operational quarter, even with elevated levels of amortization.”The share of 60-plus day delinquent mortgages in Nationstar’s total portfolio declined to 7.4 percent in Q2, with the company having completed 16,831 workouts during the quarter as well as the boarding of lower delinquency portfolios.Nationstar’s adjusted revenues climbed by $24 million sequentially, primarily because of $15 million in higher base servicing fees, which are due to a higher average unpaid principal balance as well as an increase in incentive fees of $5 million. The company’s servicing portfolio ended Q2 with a UPB of $404 billion, which was in increase of 4 percent from the previous quarter and the first time in Nationstar’s history that the UPB was greater than $400 billion at the end of a quarter. The hike in UPB was due to the successful closing of $29 billion worth of servicing acquisitions. The company’s outstanding commitments as of the end of Q2 total $28 billion. July 30, 2015 554 Views Nationstar Mortgage Posts Q2 Net Income of $75 Million in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Servicing Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Net Income Q2 2015 Earnings Statement 2015-07-30 Seth Welborn Share
May 5, 2017 554 Views Nearly three quarters of Americans are struggling with the size and scale of their debts, and mortgage debt is the largest contributing factor, according to new findings Northwestern Mutual’s 2017 Planning & Progress Study.The study found that 45 percent of Americans in debt spend up to half their money every month in debt payments. Twenty-nine percent of those monthly debt payments go to mortgage. Credit card bills make up another 20 percent, and for Millennials, student loan debt is nearly a quarter of payments made every month.The weight of the debt, according to Northwestern Mutual, is indeed heavy. Nearly half of Americans are carrying at least $25,000 in debt, and the average debt on Americans’ backs is $37,000‒‒and that excludes mortgage payments. Ten percent are carrying debt above $100,000. Add to that, another third told Northwestern Mutual they will be in debt between 6 and 20 years, and 14 said they expect to be in debt for the rest of their lives.”Building financial security while saddled with high debt is like running a race with a weight around your ankle,” said Rebekah Barsch, vice president of planning, Northwestern Mutual. “Reducing debt accumulation and being proactive about strategically managing the debt you already have is integral to a sound financial plan.”Reducing debt could go a long way towards easing mounting anxiety as well, the report noted. According to Northwestern Mutual, 40 percent of Americans said debt has a substantial or moderate impact on financial security. The same number said they consider their debts a high or moderate source of anxiety.The same number also said they’d use a surprise $2,000 windfall to pay down debts. More than a third said they pay as much as they can towards their debts every month, while 17 percent said they just pay monthly minimums.Yet despite recognizing the downsides of debt, the lure of spending remains strong. After covering necessities, Americans said 40 percent of their monthly income goes toward discretionary spending on entertainment, leisure travel, and hobbies. In fact, when asked what financial pitfalls they are prone to, one quarter of Americans flagged excessive or frivolous spending.”One of the hardest challenges is resisting the urge to splurge on items that are beyond our budget,” said Barsch. “While giving into temptation can feel good in the short-term, it often contributes to an ongoing cycle of buy and borrow that can become hard to escape. A thoughtful approach to debt repayment that minimizes interest and safeguards credit is essential, otherwise, you risk building your financial foundation on a house of cards‒‒literally.” in Daily Dose, Data, News Americans Not Optimistic About Their Debts Share Debt debt study mothly mortgage Northwestern Mutual 2017-05-05 ScottMorgan1
April 18, 2018 1,211 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News The 5 Most Environment-Friendly States Eco-friendly homes LEED-Certified Homes states WalletHub 2018-04-18 Radhika Ojha Share Job availability and affordability are, of course, top concerns when considering where to live; but “environmental security” may be a growing concern as many homebuyers also focus on factors such as clean drinking water and air quality. With a reference to natural disasters that caused an estimated $200 billion in property damage in the past year and a recommendation that “We should all try to do our part to save the world for future generations,” WalletHub released the results of a study ranking all 50 states in terms of environmental friendliness.We “spend money through our own consumption and taxes in support of environmental security,” according to WalletHub, so where do we find it? WalletHub compared 23 metrics and classified them into three major categories, including “environmental quality,” “eco-friendly behaviors,” and “climate-change contribution.” Vermont was ranked the most environmentally-friendly state in the nation, ranking No. 1 for both environmental quality and eco-friendly behaviors. The state ranked around the middle, at No. 23, for climate-change contributions. Vermont was reported to have some of the best air quality in the country and had the second-least amount of solid waste per capita. The top five most environmentally friendly states were rounded out by Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, and South Dakota. West Virginia came in last, leaving it as the least environmentally friendly state in the nation. It ranked lowest for both eco-friendly behaviors and climate-change contributions and was No. 41 for environmental quality. The list of five least environmentally friendly states also included Louisiana, Kentucky, North Dakota, and Alabama. WalletHub also ranked states in terms of LEED-certified buildings per capita. New Mexico took the No. 1 spot for this metric, followed by Hawaii, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Texas. Delaware had the least LEED-certified buildings per capita, followed by Kansas, West Virginia, Nebraska, and Iowa. The highest air quality in the nation can be found in Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and New Mexico. The lowest quality air in the country is in Arizona, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California. The states with the highest water quality were Minnesota, Delaware, Maine, Nevada, and Colorado; while the states with the lowest water quality were Ohio, Louisiana, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.
Categories: McCready News 26Jan Rep. McCready appointed to four key House committees State Rep. Mike McCready has been appointed to serve on four key House committees during the 2017-18 legislative session.McCready, of Bloomfield Hills, will serve on the Commerce and Trade, Financial Services, Financial Liability Reform, and Families, Children, and Seniors committees.“These are all issues important to people in Oakland County, and I’m grateful they continue to put their trust in me to represent them well at the Capitol,” McCready said. “I’m eager for committees to start meeting so we can get back to work on legislation that helps struggling families and ensures Michigan’s economy continues to grow.”The House’s 26 bipartisan committees discuss, analyze and revise legislation before presenting it to the full chamber for consideration.People can contact McCready by calling his office toll free at (855) 373-8670, emailing MikeMcCready@house.mi.gov or visiting www.RepMikeMcCready.com.###
08May Rep. Calley plans local office hours in May Categories: Calley News State Rep. Julie Calley of Portland welcomes residents to office hours in two communities on Monday, May 22.Rep. Calley will give attendees a legislative update before taking individual meetings of ten minutes each.Rep. Calley will meet with constituents at the following locations:The Village of Lake Odessa, Page Memorial Building, 839 Fourth Ave., Lake Odessa, from 11 a.m. to noon; andThe Barry County Courthouse, Commissioners’ Chambers, 220 W. State St., Hastings, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.“District office hours allow me to learn more about the priorities of the people I serve,” Calley said. “I value their insight and welcome the opportunity to address questions.”No appointment is necessary. Residents unable to attend scheduled office hours may send their questions and ideas Rep. Calley at 517-373-0842 or via email at JulieCalley@house.mi.gov.
State Rep. Julie Alexander announced her monthly in-district office hours, emphasizing the importance of representing the concerns of the community. In addition to her regular office hours, Alexander will also sponsor special office hours at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, 200 W. Ganson St. in Jackson on Tuesday, Aug. 8 from 4 to 5 p.m.“The insight I receive from residents is the most important tool I have when fighting for the Jackson area in Lansing,” Alexander said. “I encourage anyone with questions or concerns about their state government to join me.”Alexander’s regular office hours will take place at the Jackson County Tower Building, 120 W. Michigan Ave. in Jackson at the following dates and times:Friday, Aug. 11 from 10 to 11 a.m.,Monday, Aug. 21 from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.,Friday, Aug. 25 from 11 .a.m. to noon; andMonday, Aug. 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.The monthly Milk Break meeting will be on Monday, Aug. 28 from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Spring Arbor Café, 7975 Spring Arbor Road in Spring Arbor.No appointments are necessary. Those unable to attend may contact Rep. Alexander at 517-373-1795 or via email at JulieAlexander@house.mi.gov. 03Aug Rep. Alexander hosts special office hours in August Categories: Alexander News
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesJanuary 10, 2014; Stateline The National Association of State Budget Officers has released its Fiscal Survey of the States and the National Association of State Legislatures has issued its State Budget Update. Both reports are from the fall of 2013, but are getting attention now that the nation is looking closely at prospects for the remainder of fiscal year 2014, as in Stateline writer Elaine Povich’s review of the NASBO report. Given that many nonprofits live, eat, and breathe state budget dynamics, the convergent and divergent parts of the NASBO and NCSL analyses carry weight.Both reports suggest that many states are doing much better on the revenue front than in recent years. According to the NCSL, of the 37 states plus the District of Columbia that collect personal income taxes, corporate income taxes, and sales taxes, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin report that their collections were higher than expected in all three. Among that group, only West Virginia indicated lower than projected revenues in all three categories. Of all states and D.C., based on current trends, 38 said that they were likely to meet their revenue collection targets for FY2014 and eight predicted exceeding revenue targets. The NASBO report tempered this with the following commentary: “Although revenues are expected to increase in fiscal 2014, states are not projecting a rise in tax collections comparable to the gains in fiscal 2013. Revenues increased by 5.7 percent in fiscal 2013, while states project revenues to rise by only 0.8 percent in fiscal 2014.” NASBO predicted “sluggish growth” in health care, higher education, and aid to local governments as behind the lower 2014 estimates. Of importance for nonprofit affordable housing and community development groups that often use state housing programs capitalized by real estate transfer fees and taxes, NCSL reported that these taxes were coming in on target in 17 states and the District of Columbia, and above projections in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. Only New Jersey and Tennessee predicted revenues below budget targets. That means good news for Florida, where the Documentary Stamp Surtax program has assisted numerous affordable housing developments, but potentially bad news for New Jersey where the Neighborhood Preservation Balanced Housing Program is funded by the NJ Realty Transfer Tax. NASBO identifies several states with double-digit percentage increases in anticipated expenditures for fiscal 2014—North Dakota (42.9 percent), Oregon (14.2), Ohio (11.4), Texas (12.0), Montana (10.2), and Hawaii (12.9)—and a handful of states with decreases—Alaska (-8.5 percent), Connecticut (-9.6), Illinois (-0.5), Kansas (-3.3), Minnesota (-0.3), West Virginia (-2.0), and Wyoming (-0.1). But the key, whether up or down, is where the expenditures will go. NASBO indicates that program cuts in public assistance are slated for Arkansas, Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Cuts in K-12 education are slated for Wyoming, West Virginia, Missouri, Minnesota, and Kansas. West Virginia shows revenue shortfalls plus multi-program budget cuts, which won’t serve it well as it tries to deal with what might be a prolonged and costly water contamination crisis. But other states have specific budget issues that might impact nonprofits. The NCSL report noted that Maryland, for example, is predicting a $25 million shortfall for spending in foster care maintenance, legal services, and child support enforcement. Wisconsin is already over budget in its public assistance cash benefits, while Vermont reports being over budget in general assistance payments and homelessness services. The headlines have been generally about state fiscal situations looking up, but for nonprofits, the news is buried in the details—which revenue sources are going up or down, which expenditure categories have been slated for cuts, where are program expenditures already or predicted to go over budget. While total state revenues may be generally looking positive, the overall picture for some categories of state expenditures is much more mixed and still not making up for the shortfalls and cuts that occurred at the height of the Great Recession.Perhaps some nonprofits think that these reports on state budget issues don’t affect them, because they are largely charitably funded and don’t rely on government grants and contracts. That kind of myopic vision is troubling. Even for those nonprofits that don’t seek or receive government money directly, their constituents and clients are probably getting government support for the services and programs they use—and perhaps even to pay for some of the services they get from the otherwise privately funded service providers. All nonprofits have to pay attention to state budget dynamics, because they are all affected, directly or indirectly—and unavoidably.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares Xanya69 / Shutterstock.comJune 20, 2014; StatelineThis piece could easily apply to concerns about the nonprofit sector human resources. Jeffrey Stinson writes for Stateline that state governments are concerned that “aging” Baby Boomers—as opposed to those that have found the miracle to stanch the aging process, one supposes—are choosing to leave their jobs in favor of the easy life of retirement—that is, assuming retirement is as easy and comfortable as it’s cracked up to be.Half of state government workers are between 45 and 64 years of age. “One-third of state workers,” said Leslie Scott, executive director of the National Association of State Personnel Executives, “are eligible to retire in the next five years.” That includes many employees who will choose to retire before the age of 65, either accepting reduced benefits for retiring early or retiring before 65 but getting full benefits because of years of employment. Stinson writes that the “impending exodus is prompting many human resources departments to dust off ‘succession plans’ for filling positions in a better-educated and lower-paid workforce than the private sector.”Here’s the troubling part of this for state governments—and for nonprofits.First, the increasing numbers of early retirees often reflects state government employees’ disappointment—disgust, perhaps—at working at jobs that haven’t seen pay increases for years. “If your pay is not increased, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep working,” William Thielen, executive director of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, explained. “You retire, and many people go out and look for other jobs.”If you think that’s the case with state government salaries, look at the salaries of nonprofit staff people below the CEO level (or not on the major gifts fundraising side). While some of the big thinkers, so to speak, in the nonprofit sector have been advocating that nonprofit CEOs should be paid like their for-profit counterparts, it’s all too clear that for many nonprofits, staff salaries for line staff have been stagnating. That’s no way to treat baby boomers in the nonprofit sector, who have been toiling for their employers driven by mission and passion—and who don’t deserve to be discarded for younger, lower-paid subs.Second, the issue is one of valuing the contributions of the baby boomers. Sometimes, with articles like this one from Stateline, the focus moves pretty quickly on how to attract and retain millennials, born between 1972 and 2004 or thereabouts. When Stinson writes that millennials are better educated—and cheaper—than their baby boomer parents, some boomers read that as the all but obvious kick-in-the-rear to get out and make way for replacements.Mimi Collins, communications director of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, told Stateline that millennials “aren’t automatically put off by the prospect of working for government.” That’s phrasing that doesn’t comport with their boomer parents, who, rather than being turned off, were strongly drawn to and motivated by the prospect of government jobs, which, by the way, have been major contributors to the growth of the middle class in the African-American community.Department of Labor statistics show a significantly higher proportion of employed African Americans with jobs in the public sector—19.3 percent—compared to whites (14.2 percent) and Latinos (10.4 percent). The University of California Labor Center estimates that the proportion of blacks in employed in the public sector between 2008 and 2010 was about 21.2 percent, making public sector employment “the single most important source of employment for African-Americans.”In some ways, the push to recruit millennials in state government has ramifications not only for nudging boomers out of the way, but for displacing African Americans in an employment sector that has been crucial to their middle class advancement, particularly since the Civil Rights era lessened some discriminatory recruitment and placement practices on the parts of government HR managers. It isn’t hard to imagine that boomers, particularly those within the African American community, might perceive some of these dynamics as reversals in their social progress in the nonprofit sector’s employment as well.While it is clearly important to find paths for millennials into jobs in the public and nonprofit sectors, the experience and knowledge of boomers in these sectors should make them worth valuing and retaining. Bring in new millennial talent, but don’t toss away the tried and true.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares October 21, 2014;Detroit NewsAs the worm turns, Detroit is pushing back on copper thieves by selling for itself 13 million pounds of copper wire left over at the Public Lighting Department. Although the city is budgeting for a $25 million haul, a city consultant said that the sale could generate as much as $40 million for the city’s budget hole.The city has been fighting back against copper thieves and other scrappers in a losing effort for many years, but this new policy of selling copper wiring undoubtedly benefits from the lessons learned from the informal practices of the underground economy of scrappers and the above-ground recycling programs of community organizations that have demonstrated both markets and alternative uses. A Dow Sustainability Fellow Program researcher at the University of Michigan, Nicholas Caverly, launched a study just last month to examine the formal and informal practices of scrappers and community organizations to look at viable alternatives to scrap. Detroit’s emergency financial leaders may actually be trying to get ahead of Caverly’s research and demonstrate a new agile learning curve.Detroit is on a slow but inexorably upward climb toward reviving municipal government competence after years of serial mismanagement under not only the administration of now-jailed former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, but under many previous political regimes in the Motor City. There are two major roles in Detroit for nonprofits in this, much like the roles played by nonprofits in other countries with underdeveloped governmental processes and procedures.One role is in experimenting with and demonstrating the potential and actual capability of government. Those demonstrations include the recycling and redevelopment efforts of nonprofit community-based groups. Smart city administrators, especially those open to learning, would do well to try to tap the knowledge of nonprofits, and nonprofits should be more than willing to share. FREE DOWNLOAD: Nonprofit Board and Leadership Development Strategies Detroit has had plenty of nonprofits with information to share—like Arts & Scraps on recycling issues, with knowledge for the taking. But that’s what the nonprofit sector ought to be doing more broadly in nearly every arena of public life to improve the mechanisms of and knowledge in government. That’s the real public/private partnership in which nonprofits can participate—not to figure out how they (or third party for-profit players) can capture a chunk of public funding, but how governmental agencies and nonprofits together can bring their combined best thinking to the solution of social problems.A second role for nonprofits is providing direct and concrete assistance to government. The Detroit governmental meltdown feeds into a narrative of overall government dysfunction that has hardly been helped by the recent crises of mismanagement at the federal level in the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Internal Revenue Service, and most recently at the sadly mercurial Centers for Disease Control. Anti-government pundits like the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens see this scene and conclude, “The lesson is that government bureaucracy should be treated, at every level, as inherently and inescapably incompetent.”What escapes us is how Stephens can perceive a person who goes into government work as incompetent, as opposed to that same person once they leave for a position in the private sector. Stephens’s use of the Obama administration’s track record on Ebola to condemn all government effort ignores the many examples of quite competent public service—much like an assumption that Detroit somehow characterizes the performance of all local government. Nonprofits should see Stephens’s charge against government as tantamount to one raised against nonprofits, many of which deliver functions tied to government programs.There is nothing about working in the private sector that makes someone preternaturally competent; witness the national economic recession brought on by rapacious mortgage bankers and Wall Street speculators. But at the same time, there should be no latitude given by the nonprofit sector for governmental behavior, whether it emanates from Detroit City Hall or the Centers for Disease Control, which abuses the public trust and undermines the ability of Americans to rely on government to deliver on its mission.As Detroit learns from community organizations that have long been demonstrating the value of recycling as a tool for municipal development, we should remember that nonprofits have to put their collective shoulder behind government and behind private corporations to make sure that they are functioning to meet the needs and priorities of Americans. That’s part of what nonprofits do in furtherance of their mission of bolstering small-“d” democracy.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
The current system of release windows for movies is often too rigid and can prevent the emergence of new business models, according to European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes.In a blog posting coinciding with the Berlin Film Festival, Kroes said that current rules and practices in the film sector, including release windows, “restrict flexibility” and make it harder for digital distribution models to develop. “For me, while such ‘exclusive’ periods may be important to finance some films, or get the most out of them, rigid and uniform rules can make it harder for the sector to capture digital benefits,” said Kroes. “This lack of flexibility troubles me. Because, in fact, different outlets for films – cinemas, TV, DVD, online – all have their strengths, and each can respond to different consumer needs.”Kroes said she believed some films would better be served by being made available online earlier, with the lower distribution costs of online distribution being particularly suitable low-budget and niche films. She said there was evidence from the US that the release of titles on video-on-demand before their theatrical release could create buzz and increase the overall return to a movie’s producers. “The US has seen big progress by releasing films earlier on VOD – earlier than on DVD or even before cinema release – to meet changed consumer expectations. And maybe there’s a new way to finance production here: like through TV sequencing, or even by direct investment from online movie sites,” said Kroes.Kroes said she did not “want to impose anything on the industry” in terms of a change in the windowing system, and that she saw cinemas as “important parts of our communities and cultural lives” but said she believed “many in the industry” were “just as frustrated as I am by the existing lack of flexibility, the opportunities we are missing, and the damage to the goals of cinema overall”. She said she believed the best way to “benefit everyone in the chain” was to promote “the flexibility to use new, exciting digital channels to the full”.
Belgian telco Belgacom has made its TV Partout/TV Overal TV everywhere service available on the Windows Phone platform.Belgacom TV customers with a Windows Phone can now watch TV at home and on the go on their smartphones via the Belgacom and Proximus networks via WiFi and 3G/4G.The service gives access to over 40 channels, including a number in HD.Subscribers to Belgacom TV’s Comfort and Maxi packs with Internet Everywhere subscriptions can get the service for free, while other Belgacom TV customers can access it for €4.95 a month.
GS Group’s Technopolis facility in Kaliningrad, RussiaGS Group, the Russian technology supplier to the Tricolor TV platform, has unveiled details of the boxes it is supplying to provide the Russian pay TV leader with a multiroom platform.GS Group is supplying two digital set-tops to Tricolor, a primary device and a secondary box for second TVs.The main device, the GS E501, can receive DVB-S and DVB-S2 signals and has two DVB-S2 tuners. The secondary box, the GS C591, receives the signa by Ethernet.The boxes are based on GS Group’s own chipsets, with software that supoprts automatic device detection, data synchronsiation, IP media server capabilities and encryption and permissions management, according to the group.“The good news for customers is that they don’t need to buy two separate set-top boxes to watch different channels of its satellite operator on two TVs. One set will be enough”, said Andrey Bezrukov, director, strategic marketing, GS Group.“The user can save money as the price of the set is only slightly higher than the cost of any single General Satellite set-top box of those we currently produce, and significantly cheaper than two separate consoles.”] “Our subscribers will by all means find it very convenient to watch different channels on two TVs having just one user account,” said Alexander Starobinets, marketing director of Tricolor TV.“We as an operator will benefit from simplifying customer service. Now our subscribers with two receivers from one set will be able to manage their payments from a single account. The two devices are connected via a local network.”Separately, GS Group has singed a joint venture agreement with Bangladesh’s Beximcom Group to launch the country’s first DTH service,GS Group will provide technical support to the new entity, Beximco Communications Ltd.The commercial launch of the DTH platform is scheduled for the end of this year, and Beximco has set a target of 300,000 subscribers by the end of next year, with an ambition to sign up 400,000 customers annually thereafter.GS Group expanded into international pay TV two years ago with a launch in Cambodia.
Programme requests to the BBC’s catch-up service, the iPlayer, were up 6% year-on-year in May, reaching 273 million – more than at any point in 2013. Announcing the internal figures in its monthly iPlayer performance pack, the BBC said that 202 million of the 273 million requests were for TV shows, stable month-on-month, while the remaining 71 million were for radio programmes.By device type, the most requests came from computers, accounting for 33% of total requests. This was up from 31% in the previous month, with the BBC attributing the rise entirely to a growth in radio listening.Tablets were the second most-used device for accessing the iPlayer with 24% of total requests, followed by mobiles in third place with 18% of requests.For TV show requests only, tablets and computers continued to account for the majority of traffic, accounting for 29% of traffic each.The BBC also noted “some modest growth in request from TV platforms in May,” with TV platform operators accounting for 17%, games consoles 4% and internet TVs and other connected devices 3%.Consistent with previous months, the BBC said that the iPlayer is used for TV viewing at roughly the same time of day as linear TV viewing, although there is proportionally more daytime and late-peak use.The profile of the BBC iPlayer users remains “strongly under-55 in terms of age,” which is younger than the typical TV or radio listener, though is split roughly evenly between men and women, according to the BBC.
Deutsche Telekom-owned Croatian operator T-Hrvatski Telekom provided an update on its plans to upgrade its TV offering in its first half results.The operator plans to replace its current platform with a new converged platform currently dubbed Next TV, which it says will expand the portfolio of its MAXtv offering with additional functionality.T-Hrvatski Telekom said the new platform had been installed and configured and that integration and software development for set-top boxes is ongoing.The operator had 391,000 TV customers at the end of June, up 1.1%. TV ARPU grew by 1.3% year-on-year in the first half to HRK82, outperforming ARPU for broadband retail services, which declined by 2.6% to HRK122.The company attributed the TV ARPU growth to service and programme improvements, and the promotion of SVoD service Pickbox as part of the MAXtv IPTV offering.T-Hrvatski Telekom said that its satellite TV base was also continuing to grow, boosted by a 50% discount offer.
The BBC will launch a new app featuring a raft of content from respected naturalist and presenter Sir David Attenborough later this week.The Story of Life app launches on Thursday (November 17) on Apple and Android devices. The BBC owns all of the content and the app will be available worldwide.It will have iconic moments from Attenborough’s broadcasting career including his interaction with mountain gorillas in Life on Earth, and his extraordinary meeting with a sloth in The Life of Mammals, The Story of Life.The BBC said that at launch there will be over 1,000 clips accessible via the app, which the public broadcaster said has been timed to coincide with the naturalist’s 90th birthday year.“This is natural history for the digital age, allowing people to explore the story of life on earth and share their favourite natural history moments with the world,” said Attenborough.The collection of clips can be searched via ‘Habitat’, ‘Species’ and ‘Behaviour’ and users can create their own collections of favourite clips, which can also be shared. There will also be exclusive easter eggs, with a series of films hidden in the app.The app has been made by BBC Earth and digital agency AKQA.
Steven SeagalPoland-based pay TV provider SPI International / Filmbox will coproduce a new Steven Seagal television drama, General Commander.SPI and its president, Loni Farhi, will coproduce the series with Sarandan Media. The company has acquired tights in Africa, Eastern Europe, ex-Yugoslavia, the CIS and Baltic regions, Latin America, Portugal, Turkey and the Middle East.General Commander follows the missions of a top secret, rogue international paramilitary unit that fights major criminal organisations in a bid to stop World War III.Seagal will star. His previous TV series include Steven Seagal: Lawman and True Justice, both of which he created himself.Bey Logan and Phillipe Martinez are writing the series, with filming begins in Europe and Asia in September ahead of a premiere on Filmbox channels in 2018.SPI is following in the footsteps of European pay TV services such as Canal+, Movistar, Sky and Altice, all of which have moved heavily into international coproduction of high-end drama.The business currently has more than 30 channels operating across five continents, and is now moving into original programming to complement its usual staple of acquisitions.“We have been expanding distribution of the FilmBox movie channel in the CIS, the Baltics, Middle East, Turkey, Africa and across CEE,” said Farhi. “We are now gathering content to launch FilmBox and FilmBox Action in Latin America, India and across other markets.“Coproductions like General Commander and high level content acquisitions are clearly showing our commitment to our channels and the new markets that we are entering.”
Vodafone España has added four new TV channels to its programming line-up, including two 4K UHD TV services from AMC Networks.Vodafone is adding the new 4K versions of AMC Networks International Iberia’s cooking channel, Canal Cocina 4K, and lifestyle channel, Canal Decasa 4K, to its Vodafone One TV offering. Both channels will be available in Vodafone’s TV Extra package.Vodafone España has been ramping up its 4K content recently, striking deals with Sony Pictures Televsion and Paramount Picture in May to offer 4K UHD movies as part of its Videoclub offering.The operator has also aired the main La Liga football daily match in 4K, along with making content from Netflix avaialb ein the format. Other 4K channels on the platform include Odisea 4KFestvial 4K and Funbox UHD.Vodafone is also adding Betis TV, the channel of Seville football club Real Betis Balompié. The channel airs exclusive interviews, magazine programmes and and other content about the club, including repeat coverage of weekend matches. The channel will be included in Vodafone’s TV Total and Vodafone Sport packages as well as its commercial offering, Vodafone Bares.Finally, Vodafone, is adding Iberalia TV, a channel dedicated to hunting, fishing and the conservation of nature. The channel will be part of Vodafone’s Caza package.
Senior executives from Vodafone Deutschland and Deutsche Telekom clashed over whether the acquisition of Liberty Global-owned Unitymedia by Vodafone would have an anti-competitive impact in Germany at ANGA COM yesterday afternoon.Taking part in an industry panel at the event, Dirk Woessner (right), management board member for Germany at Deutsche Telekom, said that his company is “looking forward” to competition but that “it must be fair”.“On the TV market we are the smaller company and that is our problem,” he said. Cable’s dominance in TV distribution means that Telekom will be challenged to sell convergent product, in particular to the housing association market, he said.Woessner said that Telekom “believes we need less and note more regulation” but that his company faces demand to provide third-party access to its broadband network and there needs to be a level playing field in TV distribution. To be competitive in the TV market, Telekom has been forced to pay for carriage of channels that have historically paid cable operators for distribution on those networks, he said.Woessner nevertheless said that Telekom would “have to accept the framework conditions” of any merger and that it would use its broadband network to compete. He said that the company was preparing itself for a changing market.Manuel Cubero, COO of Vodafone Deutschland, countered by saying that after the merger, Unitymedia and Vodafone together would have a market share of 20% of fixed networks, and would cover 37% of all TV homes in Germany.He said that 37% was not a dominant majority.“We believe this will be to the benefit of competition in Germany, “ said Cubero, adding that Vodafone and Unitymedia’s networks did not overlap and that Vodafone planned to upgrade 25 million homes to 1Gbps over the next few years, showing evidence of its commitment to broadband. If Vodafone upgraded two thirds of its homes to 1Gbps, the country would benefit, he said.Responding, Woessner said that cable TV was a distinct market including homes that are not allowed to access satellite services and the housing association market is in effect a closed market comprising16-20 million homes.Woessner said that Telekom was committing to deliver a minimum of 50Mbps to 95% of homes and that it was investing in fibre-to-the-home.Conrad Albert, deputy CEO and group general counsel for commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1, speaking on the same panel session, said that there was now a danger of local cable monopolies emerging. Albert said that while competition could stimulate broadband, the German market does not have a good coverage of broadband currently,. “There is no live streaming in rural areas because there is no broadband and creating new monopolies will not help this,” he said.Albert said that broadcasters do not have the option of being independent of network operators.Carsten Schmidt, CEO of Sky Deutschland, also on the panel, also said that the merger was of concern. He said that fees would have to be discussed. However, he said that Sky would be constructive and would take a position on the merger at the proper point in time.Responding, Vodafone’s Cubero said that the results of court rulings were now seeing carriage fees flow to programmers rather than the other way round. He also said that housing associations can choose between service providers already, and are not limited to cable.