From the print editionLuis Liberman came to the second vice presidency of Costa Rica by an unusual route: an outstanding banking career in the private sector. Liberman, 65, started from scratch in the late 1970s by getting a group of prominent businessmen to invest in Banco Interfin, a finance company that he ran as general manager. Under Liberman’s leadership, Banco Interfin grew during three decades into Costa Rica’s biggest private bank. In June 2006, Scotiabank bought Banco Interfin, which had $1.6 billion in assets. Liberman continued as general manager of Scotiabank for another year, and then resigned to join Laura Chinchilla’s successful presidential run. With a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois, Vice President Liberman coordinates President Chinchilla’s economic team. He is married with three adult children and a grandfather, and lives in the southwestern suburb of Escazú.The Tico Times caught up with Liberman Monday at Casa Presidencial to talk about job creation, the fiscal deficit and challenges facing the Chinchilla administration.Excerpts follow:TT: Mr. Liberman, my point of departure is that Costa Rica is economically stable and should continue with stability until the end of the Chinchilla administration.LL: I hope this is so. Unfortunately, with Costa Rica so dependent on its export markets, we are very vulnerable to world economic stability, which right now depends on how the euro, and to a lesser extent the dollar, evolve. If the euro muddles through without major market disruptions, then yes, we should have continued stability. But this situation is out of our control, and I won’t venture a guess as to what will happen with the euro.So aside from the euro threat that Costa Rica can do nothing about, how do you see the economy?We are on track for the economy to grow 4.5 percent this year, which is pretty good. Exports are up 12 percent, and service exports [increased by] 15 percent on a year ago. I’m especially encouraged that construction is coming back on a much healthier basis than in the 2006-2007 bubble years. Back then construction was driven by foreign sales, with developers building based on foreign commitments to buy Costa Rican properties. Now, there are several big hotel projects funded the old-fashioned way, with developers bringing their own money in and not dependent on foreign-purchase commitments. Construction is only growing at about a 4 percent rate, but it has all kinds of linkages to suppliers and tourism, which make it a very high-powered employment generator. Employment is something we really focus on in the government. Last year, we generated 90,000 new jobs, but a lot of that went to offset the 80,000 jobs we lost in the 2009-2010 crisis. Employment is a permanent challenge, because Costa Rica needs to generate 95,000 new jobs every year just to keep up with the number of young people who enter the workforce. So, even though I’ll take a 4.5 percent [gross domestic product] growth rate, I’d like to bump that up another point or point and a half to generate all the jobs we need.What will be this government’s way forward on the fiscal deficit front, in view of the tax-increase bill that’s now dead in Congress?There’s a misperception that the fiscal reform we attempted consisted only of the tax package. That was one of four reforms we presented, and we are going ahead with hopes for success with the other three. The first of these is a law to rationalize and contain public spending, the second is a law to strengthen income tax and customs tax administration, and the third is an authorization for U.S. dollar international bond market issues as a tool for managing the government’s debt.A recent Bloomberg-Newsweek article stated that you were leading the government team to put together a bond issue for $4 billion.Yes, that is falling into place surprisingly quickly. Two weeks ago, I made a presentation on Costa Rica at a meeting of the Emerging Markets Trade Association and was surprised by the interest in a Costa Rican issue. Costa Rica has not sold international market bonds since 2004.$4 billion is really big for Costa Rica. Doesn’t this present potential problems of downward pressure on the colón-dollar exchange rate?Not really. What we are proposing to the Legislative Assembly and to investment bankers for the bond issue is an authorization for up to $4 billion, but for bonds to be issued over a 10-year period with a maximum of $1 billion in any given year. The minimum practical amount for any single sale of bonds will be around $500 million, so if the government wants to stretch the issuance out, they could do eight $500 million bond issues over the next 10 years. I don’t anticipate significant funds from sale of these bonds being changed into colones, so they shouldn’t generate exchange-rate pressure. Bond-sale proceeds mostly will be applied to refinance existing foreign debt. International bond market rates are very low right now, and Costa Rica qualifies to issue in a favorable emerging-market bond sector rather than as a high-rate “exotic.” The rate for 10-year emerging-market bonds is now around 5 percent, so under present market conditions Costa Rica has a chance to lock in a very favorable rate for 10 years.Focusing on a very prominent problem for this government, what is being done about the 1856 Road project [the problematic highway paralleling Costa Rica’s San Juan River and northern border, started under presidential emergency decree in March 2011]?The big change is that the project is now being built by MOPT [Public Works and Transport Ministry]. MOPT will contractsome of that work with private construction companies, but now under full government tendering procedures. There’s something the public is unaware of regarding this project, which is that it’s not just the 160 kilometer parallel to the river. An integral part of the project has been the rehabilitation of more than 400 kilometers of access roads to the river highway itself. So the project is really an opening of access to the entire northern quadrant of Costa Rica.What about the crisis at the Costa Rican Social Security System, or Caja, which with 45,000 employees and more than $4 billion in assets is the largest company in Central America?The Caja has its own funding and administration and is very autonomous from the central government in how it is run. Fixing it will be a long-term proposition. They’ll have to start with controlling costs and implementing more effective collection of their payroll taxes. The Costa Rican Electricity Institute, or ICE, has just shown operational losses. How concerned are government officials?I think ICE can handle its problems. They have strain on their cash flow because they are investing in big projects. The Reventazón Hydroelectric Project alone is $1-1.4 billion, and they also have the Diquís project and a lot of expansion of the power grid.Where they have had most difficulty is with the cellular phone [market], which has recently been opened up to competition. But in ICE’s case, I am heartened by the experience of the Costa Rican state banks. Remember, they once had a monopoly on deposits. When this was abolished and private banks started to compete, state banks went through some rough years. But they adapted to the competition, and today are much better banks as a result. I think ICE will go through a similar process with cellphones.What accomplishments can the Chinchilla administration point to on the social font?First of all, security. Despite all of the media’s crime coverage that leads people to think otherwise, we have brought down crime rates where crime used to hit hardest: poor, urban neighborhoods. Nothing fancy, just more cops on the beat, and more and better equipment. Under our FODESAF payroll tax social fund, we continue to develop our care network for children and elderly people at risk. In education, we are on track to develop 90 vocational high schools over four years of this government. We consider these as very good social-development tools because they make young people immediately employable without a college degree. Our AVANCEMOS program of subsidizing poor students to keep them from dropping out of school is making headway on that problem. And, finally, we are building 10,000 homes for poor people per year, which we consider a good contribution under a program that we wish was much bigger. Facebook Comments No related posts.
On Tuesday morning, bothSemanario Universidad and The New York Times reported that Óscar Arias Sánchez has been accused of sexual assault.The accuser said Arias kissed, touched and penetrated her without her consent following a December 2014 meeting, according to Semanario Universidad. Arias, through his lawyer, said he “categorically denied” the reports. Related posts:Óscar Arias, Costa Rica’s former president and a Nobel Prize winner, accused of sexual assault, per reports Two more women accuse Óscar Arias of sexual misconduct, per reports Former Tico Times publisher recalls Daly’s account of Arias misconduct Why Now: Oscar Arias accusers explain why they waited to come forward Arias is among Central America’s most powerful political figures, not only for his terms as president in Costa Rica but also for his work promoting peace in the region.He served as President of Costa Rica from 1986 to 1990 and again from 2006 to 2010. He was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 “for a plan designed to put an end to the cruel civil wars that were devastating Central America,” according to the organization.Arias was born into an upper-class family in Heredia and received a graduate degree in England.Following his election in 1986 as a member of Costa Rica’s National Liberation Party, Arias became a recognized name internationally as he sought to reduce violence in the region. As the non-profit organization United For Human Rights explains:In a series of meetings with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, President Arias Sánchez pressed to resolve the turmoil and end outside influence in Central America. He eventually gained approval of his peace plan, which called for each country to limit the size of their armies, assure freedom of the press, and hold free and open elections. The plan was successful and, with the signing of the accords, fighting in the region came to an end.Arias was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 due to his principal role in stabilizing Central America.In his Nobel Lecture, Arias said “evils” in Central America “are manifest, naked to the view of anyone who cares to see them,” but that Costa Rica was a beacon of a better future:I am receiving this prize as one of 2.7 million Costa Ricans. My people draw their sacred liberty from the two oceans which bound us to the East and West. To the South and to the North, Costa Rica has almost always been bounded by dictators and dictatorships. We are an unarmed people, and we are fighting to remain free from hunger. To America we are a symbol of peace, and we hope to be a symbol of development. We intend to show that peace is both the prerequisite and the fruit of progress.During his final address to the nation at the conclusion of his first term, Arias said he and Costa Rica had “stood up as a force for morality.”With funds from the Nobel Peace Prize, Arias created the “Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress,” which remains “dedicated to promoting democracy, gender equality, disarmament and demilitarization.”Following a four-year battle to eliminate Costa Rica’s ban on re-election, Arias successfully ran for president in 2006. He said in 2010 that his focus on social issues ranked among his top successes. His administration pointed to a reduction in extreme poverty and the introduction of a school dropout prevention program, Avancemos, as solid accomplishments.However, Arias faces criminal charges for breach of duty stemming from a probe into whether he failed to uphold his presidential responsibilities by allowing a Canadian gold mine to operate in Costa Rica in 2008.In 2016, Arias penned a letter to the country in The Tico Times explaining why he was not seeking a third presidential term.“No one person is indispensable in a democracy,” he wrote. “What is indispensable is many people willing to work for this country we love so much.”Though Arias did not seek a third term, he has remained active in Costa Rica through his foundation and as a supporter of human rights.That included his backing of a nuclear disarmament plan that was presented at a conference in Austria in 2014, according to The New York Times. When Alexandra Arce von Herold met with Arias at his house to discuss the cause, he allegedly sexually assaulted her, according to The New York Times. This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Óscar Arias, Costa Rica’s former president and a Nobel Prize winner, accused of sexual assault, per reports
“Our growth has been nearly double the growth of the main Japanese markets in Australia such as New South Wales and Western Australia since 2009.” “The number of people travelling between Victoria and Japan grew by 12 per cent last year, making Victoria one of the fastest growing Japanese markets last year, Melbourne Airport chief executive officer, Chris Woodruff. Jetstar Australia and New Zealand has announced a new one-stop route from Melbourne to Osaka. Melbourne Airport has welcomed the move, saying that it will cement Melbourne as Australia’s hub for Australians going to the Asia-Pacific. Flights will at first commence twice weekly from 30 March 2014 with a non-stop service from Melbourne to Tokyo starting on 28 April 2014. Source = ETB News: T.N.
Utah has just earned the distinction of having the most expensive hotel in the world. A recent survey from Luxury-Hotels.com came to this conclusion after comparing the rates of luxury hotels around the globe. The average price tag for a standard double room during the peak summer travel period of June through August 2015 served as the basis of comparison.The Amangiri hotel in Canyon Point, Southern Utah took the top spot. An average overnight price tag of USD 1889 for the least expensive double room easily landed it in the survey’s number one spot. Coming in just behind in the number two spot was the Hotel Cala di Volpe in Sardinia, Italy. This establishment’s average nightly rate of USD 1789 positioned it in second place.Rounding out the Top 3 was the Explora Rapa Nui on the Easter Island of Chile, with an average rate of USD 1733 per night. The United States landed another luxury hotel in the Top 5. Maui’s Montage Kapalua Bay ranked number five on the global survey. An average overnight rate of USD 1554 for the most affordable double room secured it as the world’s fifth most expensive hotel this summer.
D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’ And they drive fans and coaches up the wall.“I’m going to tell you honestly, he can’t make some of those throws that he made,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said after the win over the Dolphins Sunday. “He’s been better about that coming into this game. Going forward, he will continue to work not to do that.“He responded big on that last drive.”Follow up some horrid mistakes with an amazing rally. Yeah, that’s how Jake did it. Of Plummer’s 30 wins as a Cardinal, 15 involved a fourth quarter comeback/game-winning drive. The same can be said for three of Kolb’s six wins as a Cardinal. Truth be told, while many of us were in awe with the way Plummer used to lead the Cardinals to wins late in games, much of the time it was necessary because of the quarterback’s own mistakes. He threw 15 interceptions in those 15 wins, and one could easily make the case that better QB play early would have led to not needing heroics late. The same could easily be said for Kolb — especially in the win over the Dolphins — as without the bone-headed pick in the end zone there’s a good chance the Cardinals would have increased their lead and won the game fairly comfortably. What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke 0 Comments Share – / 15 Kevin Kolb, meet Jake Plummer. Jake, Kevin. “Woah, it’s like looking in a mirror.”Plummer, who quarterbacked the Cardinals from 1997-2002, and Kolb, who has been in the Valley for less than two years, have much in common.They’re about the same size (Plummer 6’2″, 212 lbs. and Kolb 6’3″, 218 lbs.), they were both selected in the second round of their respective drafts, and they tallied identical 3-6 records as starters in their first year with the Cardinals. Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation Guess it comes with the territory when you take the beating Kolb did — physically and emotionally — and still come out on top.“It feels really good to know that even when the game is on the line we’ve got a quarterback that can make that throw,” Cardinals running back Ryan Williams said of the game-tying touchdown to Andre Roberts, adding that the entire play was right on the money.“It feels good to know that we have guys that are not going to quit.”Larry Fitzgerald joked after the win that fans pay to see close games, that the barnburners are more fun — with the caveat that the Cardinals come out on the winning side. Back in the late 90s, the Cardinals were rarely on the right side of the scoreboard, but when they were it was largely due to some late-game magic from Jake Plummer that followed some early game disaster. With “The Snake” under center you knew the team was never out of the game, even if the QB himself appeared to put it out of reach, and that meant something.Kevin Kolb followed a similar pattern Sunday against the Dolphins, and while it may have made things more stressful than necessary, it may have been necessary for Kolb to cement himself as the guy in Arizona. Top Stories But no QB is perfect, and the ability to bounce back after mistakes — yours or someone else’s — is an important trait to have for any person, let alone an NFL QB.And Kolb, like Plummer many times before him, did exactly that. He led the Cardinals on a 10-play, 51 yard scoring drive that started with the QB being sacked twice and ended with him throwing a dart to Andre Roberts for the game-tying touchdown on fourth down.“Looking back on it now and the circumstances, it’s probably the most special in my career,” Kolb said of the touchdown pass. “Now, the one before that was probably the worst in my career.“That’s definitely the worst in my career.”The former Eagle got a second chance because his defense forced a fumble, and took advantage of it by showing the same resiliency that led many to believe John Skelton was the team’s best choice at the position. Who knows, he still might be. But for now Kolb has certainly done enough to warrant a continued grasp on the starting job. He has led the team to a 4-0 start, and is coming off two of the best games of his Cardinal career. The 28-year-old should now get the benefit of the doubt from fans, as he has the full confidence of his teammates.
With three visitors per inhabitant, Cyprus is among the most visited countries in the world, a new study by online magazine TravelMag has found.Numbers for visitor arrivals used for the survey were taken from a report released by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).With 6,600 visitors per 1,000 residents arriving in Iceland each year, that country emerged on top. Malta was in second place with 5,300 visitors, while the Bahamas completed the top three spots with 3,800 visitors.Cyprus is number seven, with 3,000 tourists for every 1,000 residents. It is higher ranked than Greece which had 2,400 and is in 11th place.The UK has seen a big increase in tourism thanks to the pound sterling’s drop in value after Brexit, but still only sees 569 visitors per 1,000 inhabitants.At the other end of the spectrum Somalia, Yemen and Libya are the least visited counties, with less than one visitor per 1,000 residents. While no UNWTO data was available for these destinations, tourist arrivals are close to zero according to various independent sources.Total international tourist arrivals in 2017 have gone up 6.8 per cent from the year before, well above the 3.8 per cent forecast for the period from 2010 to 2020. More than half the arrivals, 51 per cent, travel to Europe.In absolute numbers, France was the top destination worldwide, with 86.9 million visitors, followed by Spain (81.8 million).China is the top spender, followed by the USA and Germany.In 2017, 2 per cent of tourists travelled by train, 4 per cent by ship, 37 per cent by road and 57 per cent by air.See the full report here: https://www.travelmag.com/articles/most-and-least-visited-countries-in-the-world/You May Like Stairlift | Search Ads Stair Lifts Could Be a Cheaper Luxury Than You Might Think Stairlift | Search Ads UndoWater Purifiers | Search AdsWater Purifiers May be Cheaper Than You ThinkWater Purifiers | Search AdsUndoStuff AnsweredNot Sure What Laptop To Get? No Worries. Here’s The Top 5 Of 2018!Stuff AnsweredUndo Film review: Child’s Play ***UndoBritain preparing for a no-deal BrexitUndoFamagusta municipality says Varosha entry goes against UN regulationsUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
State Rep. Amanda Price presented Lakeshore Elementary School with a special state tribute from the Michigan Legislature, signed by Price, Sen. Arlan Meekhof and Gov. Rick Snyder, to commemorate its exemplary achievement as a 2013-14 National Blue Ribbon School award winner.“I’m honored to have the opportunity to recognize Lakeshore Elementary as a National Blue Ribbon Award recipient and the entire school community for this outstanding accomplishment,” said Price, R-Park Township. “The collaboration between staff and parents has created a nurturing environment in which, with the continued commitment of Lakeshore’s educators, students are continuing to excel academically.”Lakeshore Elementary is part of the West Ottawa Public School District and serves over 400 students from kindergarten to fifth-grade.The National Blue Ribbon School award is presented annually by the U.S. Department of Education to elementary, middle and high schools based on overall academic excellence and achievement. Lakeshore Elementary School was one of only 340 schools nationwide to receive the award in 2014. Categories: News State Rep. Amanda Price (R-Park Township) presents a state tribute signed by Price, Sen. Arlan Meekhof and Gov. Rick Snyder to Lakeshore Elementary principal Jens Milobinski. 28Jan Price presents tribute to Lakeshore Elementary, National Blue Ribbon School award winner
State Rep. Lee Chatfield invites residents of the 107th House District to join him during local office hours for the month of May.“Meeting with people face-to-face and listening to their ideas and concerns helps me better represent their voices in the state Legislature,” said Rep. Chatfield, R-Levering. “I do everything I can to follow through on my commitment to stay accessible and I have kept my word by holding over 70 public office hour gatherings.”Since taking office, Rep. Chatfield has held monthly office hours in every county that he represents.His May office hours schedule is: No appointment is necessary and there is no cost to attend. Anyone unable to attend may contact Rep. Chatfield’s office by calling (517) 373-2629, via email at email@example.com or through his website at www.RepChatfield.com.### Categories: Chatfield News 12May Rep. Chatfield announces May office hours Monday, May 23Emmet CountyGrand Traverse Pie Co.316 E. Mitchell St. in Petoskey10-11 a.m.Cheboygan CountyMackinaw City Village Hall102 N. Huron Ave. in Mackinaw CityNoon-1 p.m.Mackinac CountyNorthern Lights Restaurant645 I-75 Business Loop in St Ignace2-3 p.m.Chippewa CountyCaffeine Café2675 Ashmun St. in Sault Ste. Marie4-5 p.m.
Categories: Frederick News 16Mar Frederick bill to protect special-needs children gains House approval State Rep. Ben Frederick’s bill to offer an added layer of protection for special-needs children received unanimous approval today from the Michigan House of Representatives.The Owosso representative’s first bill approved by the House gives the parent or guardian of a special-needs child the option to place the child’s photograph and fingerprints on file with the Michigan State Police and the national Automated Fingerprint Identification System database. That information would then be easily accessible to emergency responders in the event of a lost or missing child.Frederick, who has two special-needs children, said the program will give families some added peace of mind.“Many special-needs kids are completely non-verbal, and countless others would have a hard time communicating even basic information if they found themselves in a situation where they were lost, scared and surrounded by strangers,” Frederick said. “If a child’s photo and fingerprints are on file, emergency responders will be able to simply scan his or her finger or use facial recognition software to quickly identify who they are and reunite them with family.”The program would be strictly voluntary, and photographs and fingerprints would be removed from the system at the request of the parent. Frederick noted that the parent or guardian would cover the fee associated with adding the child to either database.House Bill 4137 now moves to the Senate for consideration.###
Plant transforms wood debris, tires to power for 18,000 homes and businessesState Rep. Triston Cole this week toured the Hillman Power Company facility in Montmorency County, emphasizing its importance to northeast Michigan as both a job creator and biomass-based producer of energy. “The benefits of Hillman Power can be felt across the state, transforming otherwise unusable wood chips, railroad ties and many of the 10 million tires coming off Michigan roads annually to power area businesses and homes,” said Cole, a member of the House Energy Policy Committee. “We invited Anne Armstrong, the executive director at the Michigan Agency on Energy, to join us for the tour of the facility as part of her review of our state’s energy infrastructure. Biomass facilities are crucial to Michigan as part of our energy needs, in addition to accounting for over 600 jobs beyond the plant itself. That includes the loggers cutting down trees to build furniture to the materials that would otherwise would be costly health hazards sitting in landfills, such as tires. These are crucial for northeast Michigan today and into the future.”The Hillman facility generates power to 18,000 homes and businesses in partnership with Consumers Energy, serving as a key contributor among the state’s five other biomass facilities. Its production helps keep electrical bills in the region 40 percent lower than if the power was created by wind or solar sources.Cole emphasized the plant as a win-win to residents beyond Montmorency County.“This is the ultimate recycling program, primarily benefiting from the ripple effects of good landfill and wildlife habitat management,” Cole said. “Michigan is among the top five states for producing energy from biomass and there’s a very good reason for this — it is an environmental-friendly source of power.”This week’s tour included six northern Michigan-based facilities serving multiple roles and using diverse methods of energy production throughout of the region. Categories: Cole News,News 19Jul Rep. Cole: Hillman biomass facility is crucial to region
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares May 6, 2014; Minneapolis Star TribuneIn Minnesota, six people have filed a whistleblower suit against The Wildcat Sanctuary in Pine County, alleging that they were fired or were forced to resign from their jobs for reporting misuse of organizational funds by the executive director. Minnesota’s Whistleblower Act disallows that type of retaliation against employees who report suspected violations of law.Tammy Thies is the executive director and founder of the sanctuary, and a state attorney general’s report says that sanctuary funds were used by her for personal expenses, including purchases of groceries, ladies’ underwear, skydiving lessons for Thies’ husband, “bawdy books,” and utilities for her private house. This behavior was acknowledged in a signed agreement between the sanctuary’s board chairwoman Gail Plewacki and the Attorney General’s Office.Thies was placed on administrative leave while the investigation was active, but has been reinstated to leadership. However, according to Legal Newsline, “TWS must recruit and elect at least three additional members to its board who are approved by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, review and evaluate all expenses to determine their reasonableness and propriety and appoint a third-party monitor to provide guidance and instruction to the organization’s board. Within 60 days of executing the agreement, TWS must undertake a comprehensive review to determine the amount of TWS funds allegedly spent by Thies. If she refuses to pay back TWS for the alleged expenditures, TWS must sever its relationship with Thies.”—Ruth McCambridgeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share28TweetShareEmail28 SharesImage assembled from caricatures “Brian Kemp” and “Stacey Abrams.” Art: DonkeyHotey.November 5, 2018; WSB-TV and The Root“If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” A saying made most popular by Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, but it seemingly applies to politics in this midterm election season. Last week, NPQ reported that voter suppression is re-emerging in 2018, especially in the state of Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams faces off against Brian Kemp for the governor’s seat in one of the most watched and iconic races of 2018.“Iconic” is 40 Black senior citizens told to get off a bus that was taking them to a poll station to cast early votes. “Iconic” is a Republican gubernatorial candidate—and secretary of state, and election chief—invoking the “exact-match” law to suspend 53,000 voter-registration applications for infractions as minor as a hyphen missing from a surname. “Iconic” means irregularities reported with voting machines across Georgia, including vote-switching and touch screen malfunctions. But then, over last weekend, a coalition of civil rights groups won an injunction against the use of the controversial voter regulating software, Exact Match, allowing some 3,000 naturalized US citizens to vote in elections this week and prevented the state from throwing out some absentee ballots.Great wins for voters and for the state of Georgia, right? Yes, until Saturday evening.Saturday evening, the secretary of state’s office (aka Brian Kemp’s office) announced they were investigating an attempted voter registration hack by the Democratic Party. Yes, you read that right! As voters visited the website to find their voting locations, they were greeted with the headline, “AFTER FAILED HACKING ATTEMPT, SOS LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO GEORGIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY.” Others were notified, as major news stations, both local and national, sent Breaking News alerts via their apps. What is happening in Georgia?Last week, we learned that Georgia has never had a secure voting system. Robert DeMillo, one of the most respected elections systems experts, has stated “that unauditable systems such as Georgia’s pose a very real threat to voting security.” Georgia’s system is rated among the worst in the country, earning a D grade from the Center for American Progress’s election security report. In 2016, after the state’s servers were compromised, Kemp was the only secretary of state to refuse help from the federal government to see if Russians had hacked the servers. Also, when cybersecurity expert Logan Lamb showed how the system’s servers could be exploited to reveal the passwords, voter rolls, and voting machine software, the Coalition for Good Governance wanted the FBI to examine the servers. Instead, Kemp had the servers wiped clean.Since the beginning of the election season, voter suppression has been prevalent in the state of Georgia. Although every tactic in the book has been used to suppress votes, Georgia still came through with record numbers for early voting—2 million early ballots were cast in 2018, compared to 900,000 early ballots in 2014. Is it coincidental that the Democratic Party is accused of hacking the voting system (with no details provided on the alleged hacking crime) days before Election Day when all other voting suppression tactics have failed and when a record number of people have voted early? Kemp has always believed that his voting system could not be compromised…until now.Wild speculation, right? “The reason for the wild speculation is because the people responsible for finding out if election tampering is going on aren’t interested in doing so”…until Saturday. Kemp told reporters at a pre-election rally that “[he] is not worried about how it looks, [he] is doing [his] job.” He continued, “I can assure you if I hadn’t done anything and the story came out that something was going on, you’d be going, ‘Why didn’t [he] act?’”Well, Secretary of State Kemp, we have been telling you that something has been going on over the past several months, and yet here we are, one day before the election with a scandal on our hands said to be caused by the opposing party. Sounds oddly familiar…Kemp, in a statement on the secretary of state’s website in regard to record early voting numbers, wrote that “it is easy to vote and hard to cheat.” The election results tomorrow will prove if there is any truth to that statement. Georgia, go vote!—Diandria BarberShare28TweetShareEmail28 Shares
Hungary had 1.707 million digital TV subscribers as of the end of March, out of an estimated universe of 3.222 million TV subscriptions, according to figures provided by regulator the NMHH.The country had 1.863 million cable and IPTV subscribers, based on figures from the 10 largest players, of which 1.138 million were analogue and 725,500 were digital. Wireless and DTH subscribers numbered 924,000, while MinDigTv digital-terrestrial pay homes numbered 57,000.
Welsh-language channel S4C is now available on the UK’s YouView connected TV platform.The service allows customers across the UK to watch S4C programmes on demand for up to 35 days following the original broadcast.YouView customers in Wales can already watch S4C programmes through the live service.S4C CEO Ian Jones said, “Launching S4C on the YouView platform is a significant step which will place S4C shoulder to shoulder with the UK’s other main channels. Our aim is to expand the methods of watching S4C making it easier than ever for people to watch our excellent programming. We know that viewing habits have changed and are continuing to evolve, and the challenge for us is to respond and remain at the forefront of these changes, by listening to our viewers.”
Isaac DensuChannel 4 has hired a dedicated short-form commissioner who will order programming for its online Shorts channel.Isaac Densu will take the newly-formed role at the UK commercial public service broadcaster and order original shorts across various programming genres. Densu will also work with commercial partners and the Channel 4 sales team on ad-funded short form programming.The Shorts service will be part of the broadcaster’s All 4 digital hub, which was announced late last year and will house all of Channel 4’s digital content.Densu joins from UK independent producer Little Dot Studios where, as a development producer, he worked on long and short form programming, including shorts for Channel 4. He will report to Richard Davidson-Houston, Channel 4’s head of All 4 and Digital Content.Houston said: “Isaac has a strong track record in developing creative digital content and for finding and nurturing hard-to-reach talent. We’re really excited to have him on board to grow our Shorts portfolio and to help build All 4’s reputation as more than just a catch-up service.”Isaac, who joined Channel 4 next month, added: “The Shorts brief is inspiring and I’m super excited to be working with talented indies and helping to discover the next generation of emergent creative talent to create cutting edge digital content which will be fun, engaging – and highly binge-able.”Channel 4’s recent short form commissions include Tattoo Twists, Taxi Gags and Craic Addicts.
Metrological will exhibit at ANGA COM in hall 10.2, booth H21. Metrological co-founder and CEO, Jeroen Ghijsen, will also feature in the technology session, ‘RDK – Technical Implications and Opportunities’ at 13:15 on June 10. Pay TV operator app store specialist, Metrological, will highlight its device- and software-agnostic application platform at this year’s ANGA COM. The platform is designed to support operator app stores and content provider apps on any screen, while giving access to business intelligence data.Included in the platform’s capabilities is an app store platform that lets operators launch operator-branded TV app stores to STBs and other connected devices.Contextual app experiences merge live TV and OTT content, enabling operators to present a unified app experience in one screen.Social media integration and mobile pairing lets viewers link TV viewing to their mobile devices – allowing them to interact, vote, use their mobile phone as a TV remote or game control and swipe pictures and videos from their mobile to their TV screen.A real-time app dashboard offers real-time insights on operations and app usage, an app manager lets operators to manage, in real time, app store content, while the app developer and RDK emulator workflow highlights the step-by-step process for developers to develop, publish and test apps on RDK-based devices.Metrological is headquartered in the Netherlands and its partners include Liberty Global. The firm delivers a complete product suite that enables pay TV operators to launch, manage and monetise their own branded TV and multi-screen app store and unified user experience across devices.
Qatar-based pay TV operator BeIN Media has added multiple on-demand service and seven new channels to its offering.The video-on-demand services include a Box Office channel that will showcase Hollywood movies and include subscription and transactional options. BeIN said it would also offer comprehensive catch-up TV functionality.The operator has on-demand deals in place with studios including Sony, Warner and Disney to make titles including The Amazing Spiderman, Moana, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Puertoricans in Paris, Passengers, Inferno and Doctor Strange available to its customers.BeIN is also making sports content, including archive matches and documentaries available on-demand. Kids content from suppliers including Dreamworks, Jeem and Baraem is also available.Subscribers to BeIN Media’s Complete, Elite and Elite Duo packages will be able to access VOD services as part of their current subscription.To promote the on-demand service, the pay TV company is offering a US$20 credit to subscribers that can be used to buy VOD content.In addition to VOD, BeIN has also added an electronic sell-through services to its offering, enabling subscribers to buy and keep content.The pay TV outfit has also added seven new channels to its offering.These include Fox Action Movies HD, Fox Family Movies HD and FX HD from Fox International.Other channels include female-focused cooking channel BeIN Gourmet and news services Euronews and TRT World.
Shonda RhimesGrey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes is bringing her Shondaland production company to Netflix under a multi-year deal to produce new series and other projects.Rhimes’(pictured) range of dramas including Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder and Grey’s Anatomy already stream on Netflix in various regions.The shows also air in the US on ABC and will continue to do so, but Netflix has pulled off a coup by snatching her from ABC Studios, where she has produced all of her main hits.Rhimes’ producing partner Betsy Beers will also make the move to Netflix.“Shondaland’s move to Netflix is the result of a shared plan Ted Sarandos and I built based on my vision for myself as a storyteller and for the evolution of my company,” said Rhimes.She added: “Ted provides a clear, fearless space for creators at Netflix. He understood what I was looking for — the opportunity to build a vibrant new storytelling home for writers with the unique creative freedom and instantaneous global reach provided by Netflix’s singular sense of innovation. The future of Shondaland at Netflix has limitless possibilities.“Our current shows will continue to thrive on ABC and Shondaland will be there every step of the way. I could not have asked for a better home to begin my career. I continue to be grateful to work with so many talented people – especially our studio gladiator Patrick Moran and our most powerful and brilliant champion Channing Dungey.“Starting today, we are thrilled to begin creating new Shondaland stories with Netflix. Everyone at Shondaland is honored to expand both our audience and our creative identity with Ted and the entire team at Netflix.”
Latvian prime minister Māris Kučinskis has said he will respond by November to Nordic telco Telia’s threat to sell its stakes in mobile operator LMT and fixed-line telco Lattelecom if the Latvian government blocks the planned merger of the pair.Telia has promoted the combination of the fixed and mobile companies in order to drive convergence in the country’s telecom market. Telia holds separate 49% stakes in both operators. This week it warned the government that it could sell down its stakes if the merger is blocked.Lattelecom currently holds a 23% stake in LMT. The Latvian government holds a 51% stake in Lattelecom and a 5% stake in LMT, with state-owned national broadcasting services provider LVRTC holding the remaining 23% of LMT.A report in the summer from KPMG recommended that he two companies be integrated, with the Latvian state and Telia each holding an equal number of shares in the combined entity and the balance being free-floated.Lattelecom posted revenues of €141 million for the first nine months of the year, with profits up 8% to €25.6 million.Telia’s TV subscribers meanwhile remained more or less flat over the third quarter, while its overall broadband base declined by 11,000. The company’s mobile base grew by 42,000 including 28,000 machine-to-machine subscriptions.TV subscriptions at the end of September amounted to 779,000, up 3.6% year-on-year. Broadband subscriptions were down 1.5% year-on-year to 1.282 million. Fixed phone customers dropped by 15.8% to 1.461 million. Year-on-year, mobile customers were up by 1.8% to 6.175 million, including 921,000 machine-to-machine postpaid subscriptions.In Lithuania, TV customers were up 4.9% year-on-year to 237,000. Telia’s Estonian TV customer base grew by 4% to 183,000. Danish TV subscriptions amounted to 32,000, up 14.3% year-on-year.Telia’s revenues for the quarter fell by 8.8% to SEK19.628 billion (€2.04 billion) and adjusted EBITDA fell by 3.6% to SEK6.604 billion.Telia has divested shares in Turkish operator Turkcell and Russian service provider Megafon and attempted to refocus its activities on the Nordic and Baltic markets after a series of scandals and expensive financial settlements with the US and Dutch authorities that rocked the company.“The third quarter of 2017 marked yet another quarter where we step by step are approaching a pure Nordic/Baltic footprint. From a financial aspect I am pleased that we can now show that the trends we have been talking about all year are materializing. Both the activities to reduce our cost base and the efforts we have made to improve cash flow are yielding positive results,” said president and CEO Johan Dennelind.
After first being mooted in 2018, thematic channel provider SPI International has this week launched a global drama network offering Turkish scripted series. Called Timeless Drama Channel (TDC), the service will initially be available in one million homes via operators including RTL Albania, A1 Croatia and A1 Macedonia.Berk Uziyel (pictured), CEO of SPI International, described Timeless as a “game changer. We are certain it will reach millions of drama genre lovers all over the world and contribute immensely to the growth of the Turkish TV drama series industry.”While the initial carriage deals are mainly in Eastern Europe, SPI is also in discussion with operators in the Middle East and North Africa and Asia Pacific – which are also strong markets for Turkish drama. Currently, the service is available in 10 languages.TDC was created in partnership with leading Turkish producer Ay Yapim and will offer 800 hours of content, including Karadayi, Black Money Love, 20 Minutes, Kurt Seyit & Shura, Moms & Mothers, Red Scarf, Five Brothers and The End.While it is early days for the service, Korean drama platform Drama Fever proved that there is room for the right creative and commercial model to work. The domestic Turkish market is prolific in terms of its output, delivering shows in high volume, and is also know to audiences around the world via strong distribution penetration.