This is the Dec. 4 view from near the mass graves in La Barca where 64 bodies have been unearthed in the past month. The area is a site of violence between rival drug cartels. Washington Post photo by Joshua Partlow The official count is 64 bodies unearthed from 35 graves in and around a vine-entangled brick building along a dirt road toward the riverbend known as “The Great Corner.” The dead have not been identified.“It hits you in the chest,” Jiménez said.“It’s just our bad luck,” Reina Villanueva said, as people started to assemble outside her cellphone shop to watch the parade. “Guadalupe is the most important event of the year for us. We’re a small town but very linked to our traditions and our roots. And now people are afraid to come here.”The first 12 nights of December, residents of La Barca honor Mexico’s patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe, with theater and concerts and a procession down Calle Hidalgo from one Catholic church to the other. It is a time for immigrants to come home to their families; neighbors to visit their friends. To offer the virgin a token and ask her for a miracle.“The lights, the color, the happiness of the people, the music — it all combines to give ourselves and our visitors a demonstration of what is best in us,” the mayor, an art teacher by profession, wrote in the program for this year’s festivities.And so one sundown in this difficult time, the people of La Barca lined up for their parade. It was a thin, rather grim-faced crowd. But the night was warm, and there were balloons and cotton candy. Mothers blew bubbles for their children, who waved their arms and spun trying to catch them before they fell.Then from behind the police truck, a bugler and his marching drummers led acolytes and their virgin statue through the town. Once the residents fell in behind them, the street was full. It was dark by they time they passed the priest flicking holy water and entered the chandeliered brilliance of the cathedral, Santa Monica de La Barca, where the drumming echoed against the stone walls with martial thunder.The townspeople walked toward the altar to pay their respects and offer their secret wishes.Villanueva, from the cellphone shop, didn’t mind sharing hers.“I asked for the people to come back,” she said.© 2013, The Washington Post Facebook Comments LA BARCA, Mexico — The town motto, “a city alive,” feels like a stretch for this corn-farming crossroads, with its flaking paint and rutted roads and long afternoon shadows.But now the old men are wheeling out their churro carts and little girls are prancing in sequined Virgin Mary capes. The priest has swept his hair back for the occasion, his vestments white as teeth. Nissan pickups are decked out with plastic flowers. Shiny-suit musicians are testing their clarinets.Mass grave or no, this little town will be having its annual parade.“Not many people this year,” Rogelio Gómez said, as he sold slushies and surveyed the crowd. “People don’t know if they should go outside.”Last month, when police found the first bodies among the broken cornstalks along a bend in the Río Lerma, it was a few more scratches in the sad tally of Mexico’s drug war. “Another day, another mass grave” read one headline. The investigation netted 22 policemen accused of participating in the killings. They came from across the river, marking the Jalisco-Michoacán state line, where cartels have been fighting.Then the numbers kept rising — 18, 31, 42, 60 — and the newspaper vendors outside Claudia Ponce’s hair salon began shouting, “They found women and children in the graves!” Her father asked her to stay home after dark.The lawyers who used to drop in for cappuccinos at Monique Jiménez’s cafe stopped coming around, leaving her to sit alone at a back table reading her gold-leaf Bible.“And you know what I learned?” she asked. “They were at war back then, too. They needed someone to bring rules and order and God gave that to them.”Jiménez found order in her life by opening Cafe D’Monique after her divorce, and she loves La Barca for the life it afforded: “I can work, exercise, study and be independent, which is the most beautiful thing for a woman.” She volunteers at a Catholic church, where the mayor’s father plays piano Sundays and where she started to see little notes a few years ago about parishioners who went missing.That’s how the violence arrived. Out of the air like bad weather or low corn prices. As easy to stop as relatives leaving for the states. Someone else’s problem, becoming yours. Restaurants emptied out. Shops closed early. Worry blew into town.“We’ve never seen anything like this type of crime before in our town,” Mayor Eduardo Espinoza Salazar said. No related posts.
Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires This is what happens when you get good. The 49ers are experiencing it and, to some degree, so are the Seahawks. People want to get paid. People want more of the pie. People want what they think they deserve. That’s called human nature…and although Beastmode runs the ball with such ferocity it makes you question his humanity, he’s apparently just like everybody else.The way the game works in the NFL is the longer the contract the more up-front money you get in the form of a signing bonus. So guys sign these four and five-year deals, knowing they’re going to break their word, break a signed contract after 2 or 3-years, but they keep the signing bonus up front. This is disingenuous at best and malicious at worst. I’m all for players making the most money they can and too many NFL teams come back and ask for players to take pay cuts after they underperform their contracts. But they don’t ask, nor would they ever receive, for signing bonuses to be returned. But the player knows the longer the contract the more signing bonus he’ll receive and then, when things go well, he’s suddenly underpaid. Marshawn Lynch signed his name to a contract…he should honor that contract. If he wasn’t happy with his contract two-years ago he should never have signed the contract. But he did…because he wanted the signing bonus of a four-year deal. Let your conscience be your guide. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact 0 Comments Share Top Stories Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling According to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is expected to skip the mandatory team minicamp next week because he wants a contract extension.Lynch signed a four-year deal that paid him $30-million, including $6-million in the form of a signing bonus. The problem is he signed that contract two-years ago. Beastmode’s base this season is $5-million and he’s scheduled to make $5.5-million in 2015. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo
Go back to the enewsletterQantas is adding new direct seasonal flights between Sydney and Sapporo, meeting a growing demand from Australians wanting to travel to the popular Japanese ski holiday destination.To coincide with the peak ski season, Qantas will fly three times per week to Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport between 16 December 2019 and 28 March 2020, subject to regulatory approval. The flights will be operated with Qantas’ upgraded Airbus A330 aircraft, offering more than 10,000 seats on the route over this period.Qantas will be the first airline to fly direct between Sydney and Sapporo and the service will be the national carrier’s 5th route between Australia and Japan.Qantas International Acting CEO Naren Kumar said Sapporo was a highly sought-after holiday destination for Australian travellers.“Travel between Australia and Japan is booming. These new flights make it easier for Australians to reach Hokkaido’s popular ski resorts like Niseko and Rusutsu,” said Kumar.“The number of Australians travelling to Japan has more than doubled over the past five years, with almost 500,000 Australians visiting Japan in the last 12 months alone. We expect Japan’s popularity to continue with the country hosting a number of major international sporting events in the next two years.“Domestic connections with Jetstar Japan will also open up new options for customers who want to travel beyond the Hokkaido region for both business and leisure.”“In the past two years we’ve expanded our network by adding two new destinations in Japan to meet this growing demand: a year-round service to Osaka, and now seasonal services to Sapporo. We’ll continue to look for opportunities to meet customer demand.”The new service is also expected to drive tourism by creating a new option for travellers from the Hokkaido region to experience summer in Australia. Qantas will be working with the Hokkaido Government to promote the new service to travellers from across Australia and Japan.Customers can book Qantas’ new Sapporo service from today at qantas.com or through travel agents.The Qantas Group operates the largest Australia-Japan network and through Jetstar Japan, the Group also operates the largest low-cost domestic network across Japan. The new Sapporo service adds to Qantas’ flights from Sydney to Tokyo (Haneda) and Osaka, Melbourne-Tokyo (Narita) and Brisbane-Tokyo (Narita) and Jetstar’s flights from Cairns to Tokyo (Narita) and Osaka, and Gold Coast to Tokyo (Narita).Go back to the enewsletter
Disy leader Averof Neophytou said on Wednesday Turkish Cypriots would decide the outcome of the European parliamentary elections on Sunday, if Greek Cypriots abstain from voting.“If Greek Cypriot voters do not participate in the elections and the abstention is high among Greek Cypriot voters, the weight of the Turkish Cypriot vote will increase. And, you know there is a reserve of about 81,000 votes,” he said.Neophytou said he was concerned that the Turkish Cypriots could affect the voting results, if the Greek Cypriots fail to head to the polls.The Disy leader’s comments come at a time the party has been scrutinised for one of their candidates, Eleni Stavrou-Syrou, suggesting Turkish Cypriot candidate for Akel, Niyazi Kizilyurek, is Ankara’s stooge.The party’s actions sparked a backlash from moderate voters who disputed the party’s European and liberal credentials and even its will for reunification.Stavrou-Syrou suggested that if Kizilyurek was elected he would not represent the “Republic of Cyprus’ Greeks but the ‘hapless’ community of the Turks of Cyprus.”Disy leader Averof Neophytou has sought to distance himself from his MP’s comment, but has been heavily criticised for keeping her on the ticket nevertheless.“I don’t think any Turkish Cypriot is Ankara’s stooge. I consider Turkish Cypriots our compatriots. It’s the breakaway state that is Ankara’s subordinate (administration),” he said.You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoModernizeIf Your Home Has Old Roofing, Read ThisModernizeUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’UndoThree arrested in connection with hotel theftsUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
16Jan Price named chair of House Education Committee State Rep. Amanda Price was appointed by House Speaker Kevin Cotter as chair of the House Education Committee for the 98th Legislature.Price has served on the Education Committee for the past four years, and is looking forward to a leadership role in improving the efficiency of education in Michigan. She has also been appointed as vice chair of the House Local Government Committee, and will serve on the Communications and Technology and Workforce and Talent Development committees, as well as continue her service on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.“I’m honored to have been chosen as chair of the House Education Committee and look forward to using this new leadership position as an opportunity to help make the future brighter for Michigan families,” said Price, R-Park Township. “Significant reforms have been made over the past four years and I look forward to continuing that momentum.”House committees review legislation affecting their issue area and make recommendations as to whether the full House should take up a bill. Committee chairs play a key role in determining when bills are heard and organize hearings to assist lawmakers and the public in understanding the legislation up for discussion.### Categories: News
Categories: News 23May Rep. Hernandez testifies in support of plan to help fix Michigan roads Legislation creates the Michigan Innovative Transportation FundPHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Shane Hernandez (right) with Reps. Jason Sheppard (center) and Jeff Noble this week testified in support of a three bill package aimed at helping fix Michigan roads by creating the Michigan Innovative Transportation Fund. The fund would be administered by experts outside of the Michigan Department of Transportation and would review, publicly post, implement and then analyze ideas on ways to improve Michigan roads without increasing state spending. Hernandez bill creates the Michigan Innovative Transportation Board.
Tags: CARES Task Force, Mental Health Care Categories: Mueller News Retired psych employees returning to work will keep pensionsState Rep. Mike Mueller has voted in support of a House plan to combat the ongoing shortage of behavioral health workers in Michigan.The issue was brought to the Legislature’s attention last term during the House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force statewide tour, which aimed to find ways to improve Michigan’s mental health system by listening to mental health experts, families of patients and law enforcement officials.The plan would allow certain retired mental health professionals to come back to work with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) without forfeiting their pension benefits.“As a former sheriff’s deputy, I’ve seen the effects of untreated mental health crisis in law enforcement professionals and first responders, who witness extreme trauma regularly,” said Mueller, of Linden. “Each and every member of our community deserves access to quality psychiatric care, and we must do all we can to ensure that. This is the right move to encourage experienced professionals to come out of retirement and assist during this critical shortage of psych workers.”The state already allows retired psychiatrists to continue to keep their pensions during reemployment with the state. Mueller contends the state should extend that same opportunity to other mental health care professionals such as physicians, psychologists, nurses, social workers, counselors and therapists to combat serious shortages in such roles.House Bill 4156 was approved with unanimous, bipartisan support and now moves to be considered by the state Senate.### 17Apr Rep. Mueller votes to help combat Michigan psych worker shortage
20Jun Microgrid legislation receives diverse support at House Energy Committee Categories: Steven Johnson News LANSING – At a House Energy Committee meeting on Wednesday, a broad, bipartisan lineup of organizations– including engineers, officials from the City of Grand Rapids, former military officials and energy experts–expressed support for House Bill 4477. The bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland) would allow for the use of microgrids for critical facilities, which would enable energy users with standalone energy systems to disconnect from the main electric grid during outages to continue powering their facilities.“Allowing microgrids for critical facilities is a commonsense solution to ensuring essential services, like schools, hospitals, water treatment plants and shelters keep the lights on when the main electric grid fails,” said Johnson. “This legislation is a step toward greater energy independence, adaptability and resiliency for Michigan energy users, and we are encouraged by the broad, bipartisan support we have received.”Under current law, these facilities are unable to generate electricity through their own independent energy systems during outages on the main grid. The legislation would diminish outage risk for facilities like schools, hospitals, water treatment plants and other essential services. It also would implement a study on the use of microgrids for residential customers.Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Vadnais (Retired) testified in support of the legislation pointing to increased security in the event of cyber attacks on the electric grid. In his testimony he referenced how access to independent power could have provided help for relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.Karyn Ferrick, government and legislative affairs manager for the city of Grand Rapids testified in support on behalf of the city. She applauded members of the House Energy Committee for considering legislation to promote sustainability and public safety during emergencies.Grand Rapids Fire Department Battalion Chief Jack Johnson also testified in support of the legislation providing the example of critical care facilities going offline during the Feb. 7 ice storm, in which more than 42,000 city residents were without power. HB 4477 would allow for microgrids to be established so these critical facilities could stay online in the event of power outages and blackouts like the Feb. 7 storm.John Hodge, industrial and institutional markets manager for engineering at Black & Veatch, an engineering firm specializing in energy and the electric grid, also spoke in favor of the legislation because it would ensure increased reliability of the energy supply.###
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesMarch 14, 2014; PublicCEO.com A San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee has heard legislation that would define community-based nonprofit staff as “lobbyists.” The measure, sponsored by Supervisor David Chiu, subjects nonprofits to the disclosure, filing, and training requirements of lobbyists hired by corporate interests like developers, vendors and franchisees. An opinion piece by Randy Shaw, the Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, on the Public CEO website says, “It’s a mystery [how this] anti-nonprofit measure reach[ed] the Board. Progressive San Francisco is considering legislation that attacks nonprofits, even those serving the poor.”According to Shaw’s posting, Chiu’s bill expands “lobbyist” to include every nonprofit employee who “makes five or more contacts in a calendar month” with a government official. He points out that would mean that nonprofit employees pushing Supervisors to support or oppose a proposal are deemed “lobbyists” if they contact five supervisors—“a logical plan given the need for eight votes to pass [anything]—and they are subject to extensive reporting requirements and ongoing lobbyist training sessions imposed by the measure.”“What a great strategy for deterring nonprofit staff from urging legislators to provide more resources for the poor and disenfranchised,” says Shaw, who says that the legislation emerged from concerns about widespread circumvention of the city’s lobbying restrictions: “Although nonprofits were not identified among these offenders, the initial draft of legislation targeted them. When they raised objections to Chiu, he assured them that their concerns would be addressed prior to a Board hearing on the legislation.”However, Shaw says that the draft legislation from the City Attorney’s office is “even worse than before.” He goes on to say that the law is unnecessary because “the public knows the difference between a corporate interest hiring an outside firm to lobby on its behalf and a nonprofit group pushing for [public policy changes], and that their agendas are completely transparent.Shaw explains that the significant cost of compliance is an issue for nonprofits. As in most jurisdictions with similar regulations, lobbyists must file disclosure forms, attend trainings and keep records, and failure to do so will result in onerous fines. He fears that many nonprofits will not be able to implement its provisions, and will instead be forced to curtail their public advocacy: “This means that powerful real estate interests would face less opposition at City Hall, and nonprofits would push Supervisors for [their causes] at their peril.Shaw dismisses Chiu’s proposal to exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofits from the lobbyist designation because it would still impact change-seeking 501(c)(4) advocacy groups. He makes a compelling argument:“Amidst growing concern over economic inequality, San Francisco’s community-based nonprofits should be able to freely discuss proposals for remedying injustices with public officials without having to file reports on every one of those conversations or risk prosecution…. Nonprofits need to be more engaged with city government, not less.”—Larry Kaplan ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesKeystone XL Pipeline Protest / tarsandsactionNovember 7, 2015; New York TimesOn Friday, President Obama announced that because of concerns regarding climate change, he was rejecting a request from the TransCanada Corporation to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. This does not mean, of course, that the issue won’t get resurfaced in another administration; some believe the president was just waiting out the situation. But for now, advocates can pat themselves on the back for keeping the heat on the issue.“America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change,” Mr. Obama said in his statement. “And, frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.”President Obama also said the pipeline’s role as a political football has given it disproportionate importance. “It has become a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter. And all of this obscured the fact that this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.”Some see the timing of the decision as related to the election of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada, which Rick Cohen covered in this newswire. Although Trudeau supported the pipeline, he did not believe it to be as central to the relationship between Canada and the United States as his predecessor.There is no doubt that environmental activists on both sides of the border played a key role in the decision. There have been many reports of administrative and law enforcement harassment of environmental groups in Canada. In the U.S., Bill McKibben of 350.org was an early opponent of the pipeline, and he says that the decision gives Obama “new stature as an environmental leader, and it eloquently confirms the five years and millions of hours of work that people of every kind put into this fight.”The New York Times writes that “both supporters and critics of Mr. Obama saw the surprisingly powerful influence of environmental activists in the decision” and that “environmental activists cheered the decision as a vindication of their influence.”“Once the grass-roots movement on the Keystone pipeline mobilized, it changed what it meant to the president,” said Douglas G. Brinkley, a historian at Rice University who writes about presidential environmental legacies. “It went from a routine infrastructure project to the symbol of an era.”—Ruth McCambridgeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share66TweetShare3Email69 SharesNovember 13, 2016; The Washington Post and Southern Poverty Law CenterSometimes, the symbolism of an action is as important as the action itself because it sends a message of what is to come—a statement of values and intentions. President-elect Donald Trump has named Stephen “Steve” Bannon as his “chief strategist and senior counselor,” the same role Karl Rove served in the George W. Bush administration and John Podesta served for President Obama. USA Today reported that in a series of interviews yesterday, Reince Priebus, the new chief of staff, took as many questions about Bannon as himself, that Bannon is “the story.”CNN reports this morning that white nationalist leaders are the most vocal in their praise of Trump’s decision to name Bannon to this influential position.“I think that’s excellent,” former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke told CNN’s KFile. “I think that anyone that helps complete the program and the policies that President-Elect Trump has developed during the campaign is a very good thing, obviously. So it’s good to see that he’s sticking to the issues and the ideas that he proposed as a candidate. Now he’s president-elect and he’s sticking to it and he’s reaffirming those issues.”Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker begins his article unequivocally entitled, “Steve Bannon will lead Trump’s White House” this way:“I’m a Leninist,” Steve Bannon told a writer for the Daily Beast in early 2014. “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”If that were not enough to give the nonprofit sector pause, this New York Times list of Bannon and Breitbart quotes will give the nonprofit sector a sense as to why Bannon’s ascent to the West Wing was immediately and broadly condemned by Democrats and some Republicans alike as being divisive, if not racist. For a president taking office with few positions detailed, this appointment matters a great deal.Bannon is a former Navy officer and Goldman Sachs banker and the former chairman of Breitbart News. The Washington Post article discusses the “sharp rebuke” this appointment received from a wide range of political observers and strategists and organized groups such as the Anti-Defamation League. NBC News provides this list of diverse quotes about the appointment. The hate-watch group Southern Poverty Law Center observes that this appointment “goes directly against Trump’s pledge to be a president to ‘all Americans.’”Bannon has a long history of bigotry. He has insinuated that African-Americans are “naturally aggressive and violent” and under his leadership, Breitbart’s publishing strategy turned to one that has made it the media arm of the racist Alternative-Right movement, publishing articles promoting popular white nationalist tropes such as “black on white crime” and that “rape culture” is inherent in Islam. Some of the key players in the Alt-Right movement, along with other well-established platforms for white nationalists have rejoiced in Trump’s appointment of Bannon to a key role.You would make a mistake to simply categorize Bannon as a one-note bigot, or as merely a leader of the Alt-Right movement. More than a year ago, Bloomberg Businessweek described Bannon in a lengthy profile as being “the most dangerous political operative in America.” Now that Bannon has won this privileged position in the White House, his influence on the nation, let alone the president-elect, will have direct implications for the nonprofit sector. Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor, wrote this warning in August 2016, and updated it on November 13th, following Bannon’s new appointment as chief strategist and senior counselor.Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the Breitbart News network is expanding globally. In this interview with Mother Jones last August, after being named Trump’s new campaign chief, Bannon unabashedly boasted that Breitbart News was “the platform for the alt-right” and that he was responsible for inciting the populist nationalist movement “long before Trump came on the scene.” Bannon dismissed Trump the candidate as being “very late to this party.” Now that Trump is president-elect, whose “party” will it be?—James SchafferShare66TweetShare3Email69 Shares
Share14TweetShare5Email19 SharesJuly 6th, 2017; Chicago Sun-Times and Bloomberg NewsLate on Tuesday afternoon, the Illinois House of Representatives concurred with Sunday’s vote by the state senate and overrode Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto, giving Illinois its first budget since Fiscal Year 2015. The scene surrounding that passage is a story for another day, but “dramatic” suffices as a descriptor for now.For more than two years, Illinois has been operating under a patchwork of limited temporary budgets and court orders that left state universities, public schools, and many nonprofit organizations seriously wounded. Even this limited level of spending exceeded the state’s tax income, resulting in a $14.7 billion backlog of unpaid bills that left many nonprofits struggling to survive while they waited months for payment by the state.The budget under which Illinois will now operate will bring a degree of stability that has been missing. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the $36 billion budget that was enacted includes a permanent increase in individual and business income taxes that will bring in $4.6 billion per year, along with “$2.5 billion in spending cuts and 5 percent in across-the-board cuts to state agencies. It also includes reductions to state programs, grants and other expenditures.”After passing the budget, House Speaker Michael Madigan said, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, “Today, Republicans and Democrats stood together to enact a bipartisan balanced budget and end a destructive 736-day impasse. The people in this chamber did not do what was easy today. But we did what was right for the future of our state.”Rauner saw the vote as a failure to address the issues he sees as threats to the state’s future health, describing it asanother step in Illinois’ never-ending tragic trail of tax hikes. Speaker Madigan’s 32 percent permanent income tax (rate) increase will force another tax hike in the near future. His tax-and-spend plan is not balanced, does not cut enough spending or pay down enough debt, and does not help grow jobs or restore confidence in government. It proves how desperately we need real property tax relief and term limits.The Ounce of Prevention Fund, which laid off its full-time service staff due to its inability to finance delayed state payment, issued a press release that seemed to capture the relief of the nonprofit sector, saying, “While it will take some time for early childhood programs to rebound from the impasse, with this override, we are relieved that early childhood programs will be able to shift their focus to rebuilding their programs, providing vital services for children and families, and planning for the future of the children and families they serve.”Rauner’s concerns remain to be dealt with and still threaten the state’s economic health. In the aftermath of the heated two-year battle between the Republican governor and the Democratic legislature, can these difficult issues be addressed? If not, Illinois’ overall health may not improve very much and schools and nonprofits will continue to feel the pain.Illinois is not alone in struggling to deal with difficult financial times for states. Ten other states went beyond the July 1st start date of their fiscal years without a balanced budget. Bloomberg News observed that this year was not normal:In a poor economy, states often freeze spending while lawmakers and the chief executive work out how to plug budget holes. This year’s standoffs, though, comes amid record stock-market gains and low national unemployment. Some disagreements even split members of the same party: Delaware, with a Democratic governor and legislature, finally struck some agreement two days late; Wisconsin, led entirely by Republicans, was hung up on transportation and school funding.While the overall U.S. economy has been growing for the past eight years, many states have not seen their revenues boom to meet growing costs. John Hicks, executive director of the Washington-based National Association of State Budget Officers shared his perspective with Bloomberg, saying, “the pressure is mounting as state tax revenue generally has recovered more slowly from the most recent recession than from earlier downturns, personal income-tax revenue growth is lackluster and spending cuts don’t fill the gap.” Disputes over how to resolve this dilemma have proven hard to resolve, pushing the budget approval into overtime and resulting in uncertainty for those dependent on state funding.In a recent NPQ story, Jim Schaffer described the expected impact of Connecticut’s budget woes. Until it follows Illinois’ lead and passes a budget, Connecticut will be operating under an executive order that Governor Dannel Malloy said “offers…less ability to avoid very deep cuts that will have a very real impact on our state and its citizens…[while]…my focus will be on protecting services for our most vulnerable: the mentally ill, the developmentally disabled, and others who simply cannot care for themselves….even these services will need to be scaled back in one form or another.”Gian-Carl Casa, President and CEO of the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance, told the New Haven Register that these “are devastating funding cuts to community-based providers. Thousands of people are going to be affected. Many of these providers are going to tap into their savings and others are going to close.”In some states, the impact on nonprofit organizations has been less significant. Pennsylvania was able to pass a budget, but its legislature is still working to find another $2 billion in new funds or spending cuts to bring it into balance. If the spirit of compromise that allowed the budget to pass cannot be found as legislators search for funding, Pennsylvania will be forced to relive the pain of last year, when they limped through the first six months of the year without a full budget.Maine’s government was shut down for two days as the governor refused any increase in taxes while the legislative leaders insisted on more money for education. When the governor finally signed a budget early on Tuesday, he got tax increases pulled from the plan, but schools got $167 million more in state funding.Wisconsin is totally controlled by the Republican party, and remains budgetless. The issue is how to pay for roads and schools; according to the Wisconsin State Journal, “The major highway development program, which funds large highway expansions, would see a 45 percent funding cut in the next two years, from $641 million to $352 million, if no new budget is enacted.” The Governor wants to borrow, and members of the legislature want to pay for it by with increased taxes. Because the state’s constitution allows the government to continue to operate based on the prior year’s budget levels, the stalemate can continue without major impact.In Delaware, WBOC reported that a budget compromise became possible when “Democrats gave up their insistence on raising personal income taxes and Republicans agreed to drop demands for reforms to Delaware’s prevailing wage law.” The final budget deal had enough new revenue to allow a restoration of millions of dollars in grants for the state’s “nonprofit organizations, community groups and volunteer fire companies.”—Marty Levine Share14TweetShare5Email19 Shares
Share25TweetShareEmail25 Shares“Cab Ride to Tribeca,” Thomas HawkOctober 12, 2018; New York Times“Nursing home residents on the verge of death are increasingly receiving intense levels of rehabilitation therapy in their final weeks and days, raising questions about whether such services are helpful or simply a lucrative source of revenue,” reports Tara Siegel Bernard in the New York Times. The practice, she notes, was twice as prevalent at for-profit nursing homes as nonprofit ones.Such are the main findings, Bernard writes, of a study authored by four professors from the University of Rochester School of Medicine, published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. “More broadly,” Bernard adds, “the study’s findings suggest that some dying residents may not be steered to hospice care, where the focus is on their comfort.”The fact that the study found this practice to be twice as common at for-profit nursing homes than non-profit nursing homes is not surprising. As NPQ’s Karen Kahn wrote earlier this year, “Multiple studies over the last two decades indicate that for-profit ownership of nursing homes, particularly for-profit chain ownership, correlates with substandard care.” Unfortunately, as Kahn notes, “nonprofits own less than one in four nursing homes, while for-profits control nearly 70 percent. (The remaining five to six percent are government facilities.)”One reason nonprofits fold is because margins are slim—and nonprofits are more likely to provide needed care, even if margins are inadequate. As NPQ noted a couple of months ago, the result is that often nonprofits are acquired by for-profits, which may be more willing to cut staffing ratios—or, as the Rochester study suggests, raise income by providing services with greater margins, even if the benefit to patients is limited.Bernard cautions that the study only examines New York state patients. Still, she notes, the findings are consistent with those of federal regulators. “Some of these services are being provided in the last week and sometimes on the day of their death,” Dr. Thomas Caprio, one of the study’s authors, tells Bernard. Rehabilitation services—such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy—are, Caprio says, “a potential revenue source for these facilities. And when the plan of care shifts to hospice care and palliative care, that revenue stream disappears.”The study sample size may be modest in scope, but it did look at 55,700 long-term residents at 647 skilled-nursing homes in New York State in the 30 days before they died between October 2012 through April 2016.“Nearly 14 percent of those residents, or 7,600, got some rehabilitation in the month before they died,” Bernard writes. “Of that group, 2,667 received therapy at high (at least 325 minutes a week) to ultrahigh (at least 12 hours) levels.” Medicare, Bernard adds, “often covers rehabilitation therapy for long-term patients, and nursing homes can bill Medicare at the highest rate for ultrahigh levels of treatment.”According to the study, patients receiving more than 12 hours of rehabilitation jumped 65 percent from 2012 to 2016, to 7.3 percent of the group “with most of the rehabilitation concentrated in the last seven days of their lives.”Rehabilitative therapy, Bernard notes, can benefit some patients who are not expected to recover. “Speech therapy” she notes, “can help patients maintain their ability to swallow.” Still the Rochester researchers say that often high-levels of therapy near the end of life may be excessive and can make patients less comfortable.Toby Edelman, a senior policy attorney for the Center for Medicare Advocacy interviewed by Bernard, notes there are two problems: “Nursing facilities are providing more therapy than needed in order to increase their reimbursement, and nursing facilities are not providing appropriate maintenance therapy to residents who need it.”While the study was limited to New York, the problem might be worse in less-regulated states. “I would think it is magnified in other states,” says Caprio. “I think this is just tip of the iceberg, really.”—Steve DubbShare25TweetShareEmail25 Shares
US public service broadcaster PBS has selected Channel 4 to manage ad sales for its soon-to-launch UK channel.The channel will debut on BSkyB’s DTH platform on November 1, with Channel 4 acting as the sales house. Jonathan Allan, Channel 4’s sales director said: “PBS and Channel 4 have a natural synergy – in becoming their sales house we’re helping bring the best public service programming from the US to a UK audience. The deal reinforces Channel 4 Sales’ position as the premium sales house for high quality public service content.”PBS UK is a joint venture between Canadian-born oil entrepreneur David Lyons, the chairman and CEO of Orca Exploration Group, and PBS Distribution, which holds the rights to most PBS output. It will air the UK premiere of Prohibition, a five part film by Ken Burns, and Special When Lit, a film on the history of pinball, alongside established PBS programming including Nova, American Experience and Frontline, which will broadcast every weeknight.
International children’s channel KidsCo has named Kimberly Huttnestine as its new distribution director.Huttnestine joins the network from The Walt Disney Company where she was senior manager for six years, working to negotiate content distribution agreements across Europe, specifically the Nordic market.At KidsCo she will be responsible for developing opportunities in the Nordic market, assisting the in-house sales team with European opportunities and identifying opportunities in Latin America.Paul Robinson, CEO at KidsCo, said: “As KidsCo enters the next stage of its development, the expansion of our in-house sales team is necessary to support our growth. We are delighted to have Kimberly on board, and we look forward to her further expanding the customer base of KidsCo.”
StarTimes Media has launched a pay TV platform in Kenya.The service offers seven packages – Basic, Basic Plus, Classic, Classic Plus, Unique, Unique Plus and India, with prices starting from KES499 (€4.70). A decoder will cost around KES3,000.StarTimes is a Chinese company with operations in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea and Mozambique. It has invested around US$75 million in Kenya’s DVB-T2 network.
BT has confirmed that it will offer a free YouView box to new subscribers to its BT Infinity high-speed broadband service from October 26.The UK telco is one of seven launch partners for YouView, the UK’s connected TV service that launched in July. It will offer new Infinity customers signing a 12-month contract a free Humax YouView box that currently retails for up to £299 (€373). New customers that are not in an Infinity area will be able to claim a free box if they sign up to the TV Essential package, which starts at £4 per month.Existing BT broadband customers will be able to upgrade to YouView for a one-off fee of £49.The deal mirrors that of rival telco and fellow YouView partner Talk Talk, which is currently offering a free YouView box to its Plus customers.BT’s YouView service will offer access to the BT Vision VOD service, alongside the regular YouView services including video players from the UK’s free-to-air broadcasters and BSkyB’s movie streaming service NowTV.According to reports last week, BT had intended to launch its YouView service using boxes from Pace but concerns that the boxes had not met its requirements meant it turned to Humax boxes. BT is expected to use Pace boxes that will be smaller than the Humax device at a later date.Alex Green, director TV, BT Retail, said: “This is a fantastic offer. Customers will now be able to enjoy BT’s super-fast fibre broadband with a YouView box and TV Essential pack all for £18 per month. With YouView from BT not only can customers experience a great new way to watch TV they will also be able to access a huge range of on-demand content from BT Vision. The launch of YouView from BT is another piece of exciting news about BT’s plans for TV.”
The global market for services delivered via connected TVs will reach US$3.23 billion (€2.5 billion) in 2016, according to new research.Information service company Global Information (GII) predicts that these services will account for 16.8% of the total OTT video market and about 1% of the global fixed video services market.The forecasts will provide some relief to TV manufacturers that have reported major recent losses, including Sony, Panasonic and Sharp. However, the research also concluded that conditions were not yet optimum for the rolling out of connected TV services, and substantial growth is not likely until 2015.GII believes that paid-for services will account for 59% of revenues from connected TV services by 2016. The US will account for up to 61% of the entire market, GII said.“The television sector is facing a profound restructuring, as players from formerly disparate sectors, such as TV, internet and equipment vendors converge on the market. We are indeed currently nearing the end of a double phenomenon known as cord-cutting in which consumers will combine free access to linear television via digital terrestrial and satellite with a fee-consumption via OTT services and cord-shaving in which consumers will scrap their paid cable and IPTV plans for low cost OTT offers or a limited consumption of VOD services,” GII said in a statement.
Netflix has lowered its full year subscriber target for the US, but said it has witnessed stronger than forecast growth in each of the international markets in which it operates. As expected, the company reduced its subscriber target in the US from seven to five million net additions as it reported its third-quarter results. CEO Reed Hastings admitted the company had made a mistake in forecasting the higher number of new customers. Speaking to analysts after the results he said: “I think we’re feeling our way along as the streaming market grows, and we miss-predicted, but I would call that more of a forecasting error than anything else. But in terms of actual performance of the business to grow five million net adds, domestic, is substantial, and we feel good about that and about the growth next year.”Internationally, the company added just under 700,000 new customers, taking the total to 4.3 million although 620,000 of these are customers taking a free trial. The loss from international operations increased year-on-year and was US$92 million (€71 million) for the quarter.Hastings said that, following the launch in the Scandinavia last week, the loss from its international operations will peak in the fourth quarter at US$113 million and decrease thereafter.Numbers for Scandinavia will not be released until the year-end results, but management said take-up of the free trial offer was strong. In the UK and Ireland Hastings said that Netflix was beating Amazon’s Lovefilm. “We believe our viewing is higher. We think our content is better. We’re growing faster, but it’s a real head-to-head battle,” he said.In terms of content trends, Hastings said that two-thirds of viewing was now TV series and that, globally, three billion hours were viewed in the third quarter.Netflix reported 1.16 million new subscribers in the US, taking the total to 25.1 million, 23.8 million of which were paying customers. Quarterly revenues were US$905 million compared with US$822 million a year ago. Profit was US$8 million compared with US$62 million.
Satellite operator SES has teamed up with video compression specialist Harmonic and chipset vendor Broadcom to deliver HEVC-based Ultra HD signals from the 19.2° East satellite position.SES presented a demonstration of HEVC-based Ultra HD at its SES Industry Days event in Luxembourg using Harmonic’s ProMedia Xpress and a HEVC decoder reference-design system based on Broadcom’s BCM7445 device for receiving HEVC encoded Ultra-HD television transmission. The signal was broadcast in DVB-S2 using a data rate of 20Mbps.According to SES, this was the first live demonstration of a full 3840×2160 pixel Ultra HD picture in HEVC, with previous demos using either H.264 or four HD pictures in parallel.“We are very proud to present the first Ultra HD demo in the HEVC standard on satellite. SES has once again taken a leadership role in the industry by broadcasting the first real Ultra HD picture in a commercially realistic bandwidth,” said Thomas Wrede, vice-president, reception systems, SES. “We are convinced that the HEVC standard will become the option of choice for TV operators broadcasting Ultra HD content and expect the industry to develop prototype Ultra HD receivers in the coming months. With this initiative SES will be significantly driving the Ultra HD ecosystem forward and provide a 24/7 test channel to its industry partners.”