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How Costa Ricas 2015 International Arts Festival flopped

first_imgStill, the damage that’s been done — to the Culture Ministry’s image, to the festival’s reputation, to the artists who had planned to share their work and to the artisans who had counted on selling theirs — won’t be easily fixed.Opting to move the festival out of central San José and into town and neighborhoods on the city’s margin was a laudable plan. However, the spectacular failure in the execution of that plan seems worse than not having tried in the first place. Facebook Comments Related posts:FIA conspiracy? Former culture minister blames ‘plot’ for festival failure Lawmakers to probe Culture Minister about International Arts Festival fiasco Costa Rica’s culture minister sacked over failed international arts festival Ousted culture minister blames subordinates for arts festival woes This year’s International Arts Festival has been plenty entertaining so far — just not in the way the Costa Rican government intended. Instead of people mapping out a schedule to squeeze in as much music and culture as possible, they’re gossiping indignantly about how the festival’s organizers could have possibly messed it up quite this badly.The Culture Ministry announced Monday evening on its Facebook news page that all major headliners for the rest of the festival were cancelled, including Chilean band La Ley and the Argentine rock icon Miguel Mateos.The ministry said that the artisan fairs scheduled along with the major events were cancelled as well.The announcement came on the heels of the first disastrous week of the 2015 International Arts Festival (FIA), during which most events were cancelled or reprogrammed. One major venue, in the town of Acosta, was completely abandoned by the organizers. As the 2015 edition of Costa Rica’s biggest arts festival began to unravel, unflattering memes were quick to circulate on social media, on April 27, 2015. (from Facebook)The extensive arts festival, which has traditionally been a major source of pride for the Costa Rican government — and a hugely popular event among residents of the Central Valley and beyond — massively flopped this year in the midst of major planning flubs and conflicts with contractors and artists.The Ministry of Culture finally issued an apology on Sunday, three days after cancelling dozens of concerts, workshops and performances with only vague notice to the public.In a news release, Minister of Culture Elizabeth Fonseca apologized to the communities of Aserrí, Desamparados, Alajuelita and Acosta for FIA’s failures. She also apologized to the artists and performers who were, or still are, part of the festival  — after blaming them for some of the festival’s problems last week.The minister promised the show would go on through May 3 as planned, with an adjusted schedule, part of which the ministry shared on Sunday. Finally, Fonseca promised to form a commission to investigate why FIA turned into a fiasco and who’s responsible.But that was before Monday evening’s announcement that all major acts were cancelled. Fonseca was absent from the press conference where two of her vice ministers made the announcement, La Nación reported.According to the daily, the vice ministers said Fonseca wasn’t there because “she felt exhausted from attending to the press all day.” Vice Ministers Alfredo Chavarría and Luis Carlos Amador also said they had suggested to Fonseca in March that she push back the festival to June, but she didn’t take the advice. They said it was unclear whether the government will still need to shell out compensation for the cancelled international acts  —  La Ley was to receive approximately $200,000 for their appearance  —  or face lawsuits from the bands.Lights? Sound?News of the festival’s troubles started to trickle out early last week when artists began complaining about the lack of contracts and limited communication with organizers. A wider public got wind of the problems when, on Wednesday, April 22, two days before the festival inauguration, the company chosen to provide lighting and sound at the major venues pulled out.The company, LuzArt S.A., said it would be impossible to fulfill the contract since the company hadn’t gotten word that it won the bid until 6 p.m. that same day. A review of documents on the government’s open contracting website, Comprared, confirms that the contract wasn’t awarded until Tuesday, April 21.In a letter to the Culture Ministry, LuzArt reminded the minister that the government’s original bid offer required the winning company to start setting up the venues on April 19. The company said it would be “materially impossible”  to comply with the contract’s equipment demands and timeline given the truncated timeframe.LuzArt has a thorny history with this administration. In July 2014, newly-appointed Minister Fonseca asked the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate several programs put on by the Culture Ministry throughout the previous year, including FIA. She said budgets for the events had skyrocketed during the previous administration, under the leadership of former Culture Minister Manuel Obregón (2010-2014). She also questioned the fairness of the bidding process.In a subsequent investigation, La Nación singled out LuzArt as one of the contractors included in the government’s investigation. The paper also noted that the company had worked for nearly a decade for Malpaís, the band that counts among its members former Culture Minister Obregón and former Vice Minister Iván Rodríguez.The investigation also showed that, for some of the jobs the government employed LuzArt to do, the bidding process was only open for a few days, and in some cases, only a few hours.While that’s not necessarily illegal, last year current Minister Fonseca indicated that she would run a more democratic bidding process, and one that cut costs for the government. FIA 2015 was her first big shot to do so.Even though LuzArt wasn’t officially invited to bid, the company won the contract for this year’s festival after bids from another two companies were rejected: one because it was incomplete and another because it was well over budget. The Culture Ministry set this year’s FIA budget for lighting and sound at ₡55 million (about $110,000). That’s also the amount LuzArt offered in its bid.Last year LuzArt won the contract for ₡99.5 million ($199,000).LuzArt also took action this year that, while within its rights, added to the delays in the bidding process: It filed an official complaint about the contract and three subsequent requests for clarification on aspects of the contract. The government modified the contract as a result of the complaint.LuzArt certainly wasn’t the only would-be collaborator to complain about the pre-festival chaos. Artists, musicians and show technicians complained that they hadn’t received contracts and that communication with festival organizers was severely lacking. Many quit out of frustration.Don’t ask usAfter the proverbial caca hit the fan, the ministry and FIA failed to inform the public, via its Facebook page, about the schedule changes until after several events had already been cancelled.On the second day of the festival, La Nación reported that a group of disabled adults was left waiting for a puppet show in Acosta that had been cancelled the day before. No one from FIA bothered to show up to tell the public that all shows at the venue had been called off.Meanwhile, some of the country’s top culture gurus, artists and musicians, including former minister Obregón, have blasted the Culture Ministry — and especially Inti Picado, the man in charge of FIA — for ineptitude.Critics have lambasted Picado’s lack of experience in producing events, especially major international festivals. Picado, himself a musician with the 22-year-old band El Parque, has publicly said very little about the fiasco in recent days. He was not named in the list of top Culture Ministry officials who officially apologized Sunday for the problems with this year’s FIA.Angry Costa Ricans have taken to social media to ask Fonseca and Picado to resign. Fonseca has thus far skirted questions from reporters on whether she’ll consider the suggestion, saying she had to concentrate on getting the festival back on track.Other government entities have tried to distance themselves from the Culture Ministry’s festival flop. ICE, the state-owned telecommunications company and one of the festival’s patrons, said Monday that it was holding off on handing out free tickets to festival concerts at its Kölbi cellphone stores until the Culture Ministry officially announced a revised schedule.Some shows have gone onDespite the last-minute schedule and venue changes, some concerts and other events have gone on, and people have shown up to enjoy them. Bands originally scheduled to play in Alajuelita played instead over the weekend at the National Cultural Center (CENAC) in downtown San José. (The Tico Times will continue to monitor the situation in the coming days and provide information about events available for the fair’s second weekend.)At some venues, artists took to self-promoting their shows in the absence of official help, La Nación reported.In Acosta, despite being abandoned by FIA, a local group, Colectivo Acosteño, stepped in to put on events there last Friday and over the weekend. They called it a “Cultural Tantrum.”last_img read more

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Slings and Games at YourSingapore Launch

first_imgKah Peng Aw (Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board), Catriona Leonard-Rogers (Getaway) – winner of puzzle competition (trip to Singapore) Subhas Menon (Regional Vice President South West Pacific, Singapore Airlines), Tetsuya Wakuda (Chef Owner, Tetsuya’s restaurant), Kah Peng Aw (Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board) Source = e-Travel Blackboard: D.M back row: Edward Shute (Assistant Manager, Singapore Toursim Board Oceania), Yee Choong Chooi (Regional Director, Singapore Tourism Board Oceania), Evon Lam (Manager, Singapore Tourism Board)front: Michelle Thoo (Manager, Singapore Tourism Board Oceania), Agatha Seeto (Executive Assistant, Singapore Tourism Board Oceania), Kah Peng Aw (Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board), Sandra Leong (Area Director, Singapore Tourism Board Oceania), Gillian Huang (Assistant Manager, Singapore Tourism Board Oceania). Singapore Tourism Board hosted a lavish launch party at Tetsuya’s unveiling its much anticipated new digital marketing campaign and brand, YourSingapore. Moving forward in a new direction from tagline marketing and its previous Uniquely Singapore banner, the new brand is expected to empower visitors to create their own Singapore experience.“It’s all about empowering the visitor.  In the 21st century, that’s what people are after,” STB Chief Executive, AW Kah Peng said. “We want to speak to visitors in a way that they understand and can connect with, making it powerful and meaningful.” YourSingapore was chosen specifically to showcase the destination’s flexibility and ability to offer a wide variety of unique sights, sounds, tastes and cultures for travellers to personalise their own unique Singapore experience. The main component of the branding campaign is the launch of the yoursingapore.com website which is a digital marvel incorporating travel itineraries and a shopping cart for a complete virtual experience.“Our website, which is packed with up-to-date interactive content about all things Singapore, will deliver a virtual experience unlike any other destination website,” Ms Aw said. STB are also considering incorporating a trade section to upload relevant travel packages, following their China specific site which already offers this function. Visitor arrivals exceeded expectations during a tough 2009 according to Ms Aw, who revealed the 9.7 million travellers; 830,000 of which Australians, were more than originally forecasted. 2010 is already shaping up to be another bumper year, with 20 to 30 per cent growth expected.  The openings of Singapore’s new integrated resorts are also projected to create a huge impact in visitor numbers. Australia currently represents Singapore’s fifth biggest market, and with visitors spending more than the average traveller, it is also considered to be one of its most lucrative markets. With the launch of Singapore’s new cruise terminal, set to be operational in 2012, Ms Aw said the tourism board was now focusing on the cruise market as another potential area of growth with Australia playing a key role considering its current successful cruising industry. Singapore’s ever evolving culinary scene was outlined as another drawcard for travellers, according to Ms Aw, who said it was part of their “living heritage”.  Tetsuya’s is poised to open Waku Ghin, his new restaurant at Marina Bay Sands at the end of the month.View www.yoursingapore.com for more informationlast_img read more

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EEAA recognised for the positive impact of its industry advocacy by gl

first_imgEEAA recognised for the positive impact of its industry advocacy by global peak bodyThe Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia’s (EEAA) achievements in government advocacy have been recognised by industry peers in the inaugural Global Exhibition Day Awards 2017.Awarded the Industry Impact Award, the Association’s activities for Global Exhibitions Day 2017 was judged by The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) and Exhibition World as having had ‘the most positive impact supporting exhibitions as an industry’.The EEAA campaign included engaging all tiers of government to promote the importance of the industry as an economic driver and was directly responsible for delivering new advocates for the sector in Canberra.EEAA Chief Executive, Joyce DiMascio, said it was a great honour to be recognised on the international stage.“We are very pleased to have been acknowledged for our comprehensive campaign to support the advocacy efforts of UFI and to be among some of the leading global companies recognised through these awards,” said Ms DiMascio.The Awards, established by Exhibition World in partnership with UFI, sought to acknowledge and reward the best activity around Global Exhibitions Day 2017 – which took place on 7 June.The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) Managing Director, Kai Hattendorf, praised the EEAA’s work in helping bring greater political awareness to the value of the sector.“As a ‘hidden giant’, the exhibition industry is challenged to raise awareness for its issues among political leaders. This makes advocacy work such a vital part of the everyday work for industry associations,” said Mr Hattendorf.“Only in its 2nd year, Global Exhibitions Day (GED) was celebrated in 77 countries and regions all around the world, as exhibition industry professionals everywhere stepped up to raise awareness for the important role exhibitions play to develop economies and societies globally.“EEAA has used Global Exhibitions Day as an opportunity to seek out new allies, writing to 75 parliamentarians (on both sides of the Parliament), business leaders and industry stakeholders around the country to deliver the #GED17 message.”EEAA also congratulates Gold Members Info Salons Group and Ungerboeck Software International who were among those recognised in the Awards for their ‘ambitious online marketing initiatives’.Other winners were:Amsterdam RAI for ‘Most Creative Activity’Fondiazione Fiera Milano – Fondazione Fiera Milano – Accademia Fiera Milano for ‘Highest Profile Online Activity’, andBombay Exhibition Centre, NESCO, Goregaon (E), Mumbai (India) for ‘Biggest Scale Physical Activity’.RUEF, Russia and AEFI, Italy were also jointly awarded the GED Champions Award for offering ‘the most diverse support for the initiative’.“Our advocacy agenda is highly targeted and effective. Initiatives such as Global Exhibitions Day give weight to our own efforts and are important for strengthening our collective voice. We will continue to add our weight to this annual campaign,” said Ms DiMascio.Source = EEAAlast_img read more

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Christmashotelsoffice partyRadisson Blu Plaza Hote

first_imgChristmashotelsoffice partyRadisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydneyspecials Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney has delivered the slightly unsettling news that Christmas will, once again, be upon us in a mere 20 more weeks! Book your office Christmas Party/Bash before 31 August 2018 and enjoy a 10% discount and you can ‘jingle and mingle’ in style in the heart of the Sydney CBD.Email events.sydney@radisson.com for more information and Terms & Conditions.Ho! Ho! Ho!last_img

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July 22 Actor Orson Bean Dr Quinn Medicine Wo

first_img July 22: Actor Orson Bean (“Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”) is 90. Actress Louise Fletcher is 84. Actor Terence Stamp is 80. Game-show host Alex Trebek is 78. Singer George Clinton is 77. Singer-actor Bobby Sherman is 75. Actor Danny Glover is 72. Writer-director Paul Schrader is 72. Singer Don Henley is 71. Actor-comedian-director Albert Brooks is 71. Composer Alan Menken (“Little Mermaid,” ”Little Shop of Horrors”) is 69. Actor Willem Dafoe is 63. Singer Keith Sweat is 57. Singer Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls is 55. Actor-comedian David Spade is 54. Actor John Leguizamo is 54. Bassist Pat Badger of Extreme is 51. Actress Irene Bedard (“Pocahontas”) is 51. Actor Rhys Ifans (“Elementary,” ”Notting Hill”) is 51. Actor-singer Jaime Camil (“Jane the Virgin”) is 45. Musician Daniel Jones (Savage Garden) is 45. Singer Rufus Wainwright is 45. Actress Franka Potente (“The Bourne Identity”) is 44. Actress A.J. Cook (“Criminal Minds”) is 40. Actor Keegan Allen (“Pretty Little Liars”) is 31. Singer-actress Selena Gomez is 26.July 23: Radio personality Don Imus is 78. Actor Larry Manetti (“Magnum, P.I.”) is 75. Country singer Tony Joe White is 75. Singer David Essex is 71. Guitarist Blair Thornton of Bachman-Turner Overdrive is 68. Actress Edie McClurg (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) is 67. Actress Lydia Cornell (“Too Close for Comfort”) is 65. Actor Woody Harrelson is 57. Guitarist Martin Gore of Depeche Mode is 57. Actor Eriq Lasalle (“ER”) is 56. Drummer Yuval Gabay (Soul Coughing) is 55. Guitarist Slash of Velvet Revolver and of Guns N’ Roses is 53. Singer Sam Watters of Color Me Badd is 48. Singer Dalvin DeGrate of Jodeci is 47. Singer Alison Krauss is 47. Drummer Chad Gracey of Live is 47. Actor-comedian Marlon Wayans (“The Wayans Brothers”) is 46. Country singer Shannon Brown is 45. Singer Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child) is 38. Actor Paul Wesley (“The Vampire Diaries”) is 36. Actor Daniel Radcliffe (“Harry Potter” movies) is 29. Drummer Neil Perry of The Band Perry is 28. Country singer Danielle Bradbery (“The Voice”) is 22.July 24: Actor John Aniston (“Days of Our Lives”) is 85. Comedian Ruth Buzzi is 82. Actor Mark Goddard (“Lost in Space”) is 82. Actor Chris Sarandon is 76. Comedian Gallagher is 72. Actor Robert Hays (“Airplane!”) is 71. Actor Michael Richards (“Seinfeld”) is 69. Actress Lynda Carter is 67. Director Gus Van Sant is 66. Country singer Pam Tillis is 61. Actor Kadeem Hardison is 53. Actress-singer Kristin Chenoweth is 50. Actress Laura Leighton (“Melrose Place”) is 50. Actress-singer Jennifer Lopez is 49. Director Patty Jenkins (“Wonder Woman”) is 47. Actress Jamie Denbo (“Orange Is the New Black”) is 45. Actor Eric Szmanda (“CSI”) is 43. Actress Rose Byrne is 39. Country singer Jerrod Neimann is 39. Actress Summer Glau (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) is 37. Actress Elisabeth Moss is 36. Actress Anna Paquin is 36. Actress Mara Wilson is 31. Singer Jay McGuiness of The Wanted is 28. TV personality Bindi Irwin (“Bindi: The Jungle Girl”) is 20.July 25: Actress Barbara Harris is 83. Singer-guitarist Bruce Woodley of The Seekers is 76. Drummer Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds is 75. Bassist Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire is 67. Guitarist Jem Finer of The Pogues is 63. Supermodel Iman is 63. Cartoonist Ray Billingsley (“Curtis”) is 61. Guitarist Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth is 60. Country singer Marty Brown is 53. Actress Illeana Douglas is 53. Actor Matt LeBlanc is 51. Actor D.B. Woodside (“24”) is 49. Actress Miriam Shor (“Swingtown,” ”Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) is 47. Actor David Denman (“Parenthood,” ”The Office”) is 45. Actor Jay R. Ferguson (“Mad Men”) is 44. Actor James Lafferty (“One Tree Hill”) is 33. Actress Shantel VanSanten (“One Tree Hill”) is 33. Actor Michael Welch (“Twilight” films, TV’s “Joan of Arcadia”) is 31. Actor Pierce Gagnon (“One Tree Hill”) is 13.July 26: Singer Darlene Love is 77. Singer Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones is 75. Actress Helen Mirren is 73. Drummer Roger Taylor of Queen is 69. Actress Susan George is 68. Actor Kevin Spacey is 59. Singer Gary Cherone (Extreme, Van Halen) is 57. Actress Sandra Bullock is 54. Singer Jim Lindberg of Pennywise is 53. Actor Jeremy Piven is 53. Singer Wayne Wonder is 52. Actor Jason Statham (“Transporter” films) is 51. Actor Cress Williams (“Close to Home”) is 48. Host Chris Harrison (“The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette”) is 47. Actress Kate Beckinsale (“The Aviator,” ”Pearl Harbor”) is 45. Actor Gary Owen (“Think Like a Man” films) is 45. Drummer Dan Konopka of OK Go is 44. Contemporary Christian singer Rebecca St. James is 41. Actress Eve Myles (“Victoria,” ”Broadchurch”) is 40. Actress Juliet Rylance (“American Gothic”) is 39. Actress Monica Raymund (“Chicago Fire,” ”Chicago P.D.”) is 32. Actress Francia Raisa (“The Secret Life of the American Teenager”) is 30. Drummer Jamie Sharpe of Rush of Fools is 29. Actress and singer Taylor Momsen of Pretty Reckless is 25.July 27: TV producer Norman Lear is 96. Actress-director Betty Thomas (“Hill Street Blues”) is 71. Singer Maureen McGovern is 69. Actress Roxanne Hart (“The Good Girl,” ”Chicago Hope”) is 64. Guitarist Duncan Cameron (Sawyer Brown) is 62. Comedian Carol Leifer is 62. Comedian Bill Engvall is 61. Jazz singer Karrin Allyson is 56. Country singer Stacy Dean Campbell is 51. Singer Juliana Hatfield is 51. Actor Julian McMahon (“Profiler”) is 50. Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”) is 48. Comedian Maya Rudolph is 46. Drummer Abe Cunningham of Deftones is 45. Singer Pete Yorn is 44. Actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers (“The Tudors”) is 41. Comedian Heidi Gardner (“Saturday Night Live”) is 35. Actress Taylor Schilling (“Orange is the New Black”) is 34. Singer Cheyenne Kimball of Gloriana is 28. Actress Alyvia Alyn Lind (“Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors”) is 11.July 28: Cartoonist Jim Davis (“Garfield”) is 73. Singer Jonathan Edwards is 72. Actress Sally Struthers is 71. Actress Georgia Engel (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” ”Coach”) is 70. Drummer Simon Kirke of Bad Company is 69. Guitarist Steve Morse of Deep Purple is 64. Bassist Marc Perlman of The Jayhawks is 57. Actor Michael Hayden (“Murder One”) is 55. Actress Lori Loughlin (“90210,” ”Full House”) is 54. Jazz trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis is 53. Actress Elizabeth Berkley (“Showgirls,” ”Saved by the Bell”) is 46. Singer Afroman is 44. Drummer Todd Anderson of Heartland is 43. Singer Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach is 42. Actor Jon Michael Hill (“Elementary”) is 33. Rapper Soulja Boy is 28. by The Associated Press Posted Jul 16, 2018 10:31 am PDT Last Updated Jul 16, 2018 at 11:20 am PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Celebrity birthdays for the week of July 22-28last_img read more

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Walsh 20th annual Senior Celebration tickets available

first_img Fun, informative event is Oct. 10State Rep. John Walsh, R-Livonia, is hosting the 20th annual Western Wayne County Senior Celebration Day, along with Angela Hospice and Senior Citizen Achievement Needs, a local nonprofit organization serving senior citizens. Senior citizens looking for a day filled with entertainment and information should make plans to attend on Friday, Oct. 10.“There are still tickets available for this fun and informative event,” Walsh said. “It’s our hope that area seniors take advantage of this fun, social, informational and very affordable occasion.”The event takes place at Laurel Manor Banquet & Conference Center, located on Schoolcraft Road west of Newburgh, in Livonia. The celebration runs from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the Livonia Senior Center.The ticket includes a hot lunch, entry in a raffle, music by Mike Wolverton, exhibitor booths, bingo and other games and prizes. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door, so organizers urge those who plan on attending to purchase their tickets in advance.“This is simply a way that we can show our appreciation for all that senior citizens have done to improve our community,” Walsh said.For additional information, please contact Walsh’s Lansing office by calling 517-373-3920, emailing JohnWalsh@house.mi.gov or online at RepJohnWalsh.com.### 05Sep Walsh: 20th annual Senior Celebration tickets available Categories: Newslast_img read more

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Rep Franz takes 201516 oath of office

first_img15Jan Rep. Franz takes 2015-16 oath of office Categories: News State Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama, Wednesday took the ceremonial oath of office in the state Capitol to begin his third term in the Michigan House of Representatives. The oath was administered by Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. Franz serves the 101st House District of Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee and Mason counties. Residents can contact their lawmaker by calling toll free 1-855-DIST-101 (1-855-347-8101), by email at rayfranz@house.mi.gov, and his online office website address is www.RepRayFranz.com.last_img read more

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Rep Griffin School resumes with record state funding on tap

first_img Categories: Griffin News,Griffin Photos,News ##### 28Aug Rep. Griffin: School resumes with record state funding on tapcenter_img State Rep. Beth Griffin today said that local schools in the communities she serves will see a record amount of state funding for K-12 education in the next school aid budget.Griffin, of Mattawan, said every school district in the state will receive an additional $60 per student under the 2017-18 budget, with smaller, rural school districts being allocated $120 per student.“As a teacher, I can attest to the fact that every dollar spent on education is stretched to its fullest to achieve as much as possible in the classroom,” Griffin said. “A majority of school districts in the communities I serve will receive the $120-per-student amount to help make up a funding gap that has existed between rural and urban schools.”Griffin said the budget for the coming fiscal year includes a $25-per-pupil allocation for high-school students on top of the base increase. In addition, the funding formula includes $25 for each at-risk student.She also said more money is being invested in career and technical education to give students more options after they finish high school.“There are a great number of good-paying jobs available in skilled trades in Michigan, and they are unfilled because we do not have enough people qualified for these jobs,” Griffin said. “Adding more training opportunities make it possible for people to enter the workforce while at the same time enabling job creators to maintain or expand their businesses.”Griffin was involved in budget discussions this spring and voted for the funding increases.School districts in the communities served by Griffin are estimated to receive the following increases:Bangor Public Schools, $274,112;Bangor Township School District 8, $3,295;Bloomingdale Public School District $304,911;Covert Public Schools , $91,409;Decatur Public Schools, $213,309;Dowagiac Union School District, $542,694;Gobles Public School District , $199,063;Hartford Public School District, $326,750;Lawrence Public School District, $149,602;Lawton Community School District, $232,844;Marcellus Community Schools, $209,149;Mattawan Consolidated Schools, $622,351;Otsego Public Schools, $458,226;Parchment School District, $395,629;Paw Paw Public School District, $491,177;Plainwell Community Schools, $579,279;South Haven Public Schools, $441,272.last_img read more

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Rep McCready Retiring veterans to have CPL fee waived

first_img State Rep. Mike McCready of Bloomfield Township Tuesday introduced a plan waiving certain concealed pistol licensing fees for military veterans who retire from service.Under McCready’s proposal, retired members of the United States armed forces, the Reserve or the Michigan National Guard can be exempt from the $100 licensing fee to apply for or renew a concealed pistol license.“For their honorable service to our country and state, I wholeheartedly believe our military retirees do not need to pay this burdensome fee for a concealed pistol license,” McCready said. “With the extensive training, safety and knowledge of firearms they have received in addition to their dedication to the defense of our nation and state, I think they are more than deserving of some relief when applying for and renewing their permits.”Veterans would still be required to pay the $15 fingerprinting fee under the new plan.McCready’s measure, House Bill 5987, now advances to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. Categories: McCready News 16May Rep. McCready: Retiring veterans to have CPL fee waivedlast_img read more

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Atomic Veterans Advocate Acie Byrd Dies

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares June 14, 2014; Washington PostLast month, Acie L. Byrd died. Inexplicably, the Washington Post printed an obit about Byrd a full month later, missing earlier notices about Byrd by OpEd News, Democracy Now!, and Black Voice News.Byrd was a disabled Navy veteran. In the Navy in 1958, he was assigned to an atoll in the Marshall Islands with the job of retrieving equipment and supplies after nuclear bomb tests. Over some time, the U.S. military detonated 14 megatons of nuclear weapons on the Enewetak atoll. Eventually, the government came to recognize that aboveground nuclear testing had devastating health impacts on people who might have been exposed even minimally to the radiation released by the detonations. It led to the test-ban treaty, but it was too late for Byrd, who among other veterans suffered from a variety of health issues related to the nuclear radiation, including prostate cancer first diagnosed when he was in his 30s, the illness he died of last month in a hospice in Arlington, Virginia.One of many veterans whose radiation-related illnesses were little recognized by the U.S. government, Byrd joined the National Association of Atomic Veterans and later co-founded the International Alliance of Atomic Veterans. Byrd was one of the increasingly rare species of nonprofit activists—an advocate, and a good one. His work contributed to the passage of the Atomic Veterans Relief Act of 1986, formally titled the Veterans Dioxin and Radiation Exposure Compensation Standards Act, which provided compensation to veterans (and their survivors) who developed health problems that might be due to exposure to atmospheric nuclear bomb tests or nuclear radiation from their World War II assignments in Hiroshima or Nagasaki or, more recently, exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.Byrd is an example of the positive impacts of advocacy. Not only did he become and active and influential advocate on behalf of American’s “atomic veterans,” he became actively involved in civil rights causes, the abolition of the death penalty, and not surprisingly, a ban on nuclear weapons. The few published obits take note of Byrd’s role in the Pacifica radio network as one of the founding members of the Washington-based WPFW and serving on the Pacifica national board.Byrd wasn’t hugely famous; he simply did the work of a movement advocate, organizing marches and conferences here and around the world on nuclear disarmament, world peace, and civil rights. But his work on behalf of atomic veterans is most significant. We’ve seen numbers of some 250,000 to 300,000 U.S. military veterans who had been exposed to radiation from the detonation of American atomic and hydrogen bombs. Add these veterans to the people who were revealed to have been the test subjects of government-funded human radiation experiments from the 1940s into the 1960s. Assigned to retrieve test instruments after nuclear tests, working with irradiated test animals, and functioning near “ground zero” locations, Byrd and the others are another category of Americans whose assent was never asked as to whether they were willing to be nuclear test subjects.The reason for the creation of NAAV, and then the International Alliance, was in part the secrecy of the military regarding the effects of the nuclear tests, probably in part due to the impact that transparent information would have had on public concerns about hundreds or even thousands of nuclear tests. Our guess is that the military might have also been concerned about suits that might have been filed by veterans who unknowingly signed on for tours as nuclear guinea pigs.In an example of the odd ironies of history, not long after Acie Byrd died, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduced the Atomic Veterans Service Medal Act, which would create a new military service medal for members of the U.S. military who were “exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of participation in the testing of nuclear weapons or under other circumstances.” Acie Byrd probably wouldn’t have claimed individual credit for the 1986 legislation that provided VA assistance for radiation-related illnesses, nor the pending 2014 legislation for the military service medal. But he deserves a lion’s share of credit as an example of a nonprofit activist and advocate.We need more people like Acie Byrd in the nonprofit sector.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

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Brown v Board of Education Decades Later Equality is Still Elusive

first_imgShare18TweetShare1Email19 SharesMay 18, 2016; National Public Radio, “nprED” and the Los Angeles TimesSixty-two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled “the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ [had] no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Yet if two recently released studies are to be believed, for too many children our public education system is becoming more segregated along both racial and economic lines.On Tuesday, May 17th, the Government Accounting Office released a report on school enrollment patterns that found “from school years 2000-01 to 2013-14 (the most recent data available), the percentage of all K-12 public schools that had high percentages of poor and Black or Hispanic students grew from 9 to 16 percent.” Seen from another perspective, that of the Los Angeles Times, U.S. Department of Education data shows that “in the 2000-01 school year, 7,009 public schools were both poor and racially segregated. That number climbed to 15,089 by 2013-14.”Just one day earlier, UCLA’s Civil Rights Project published a briefing paper from its ongoing look at race and public education. Their analysis of school data came to the following conclusion:The share of intensely segregated nonwhite schools (which we defined as those schools with only 0-10% white students) more than tripled, rising from 5.7% to 18.6% of all public schools. Even as the resegregation was taking hold, there was a sharp decline in the percent of segregated white U.S. schools that have a tenth or fewer nonwhite students, dropping from 38.9% to 18.4%. The result of these diverging trends is that whites can perceive an increase in interracial contact even as African American and Latino students are increasingly isolated, often severely so.When we recognize the connections between poverty, residential patterns, and race, these findings raise bright red flags when effective education is seen as the key to future success. According to Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which had asked the GAO to conduct its study, “Segregation…[is] getting worse, and getting worse quickly, with more than 20 million students of color now attending racially and socioeconomically isolated public schools.”A recent op-ed in Education Week underscores the critical importance of this new data. “Policymakers increasingly recognize that stresses related to student poverty—hunger, chronic illness, and, in too many cases, trauma—are the key barriers to teaching and learning.”Decades ago, the Supreme Court struck down the legal structures that enforced racially segregated schools. These new studies show that other factors have allowed new barriers to be built. Changing residential patterns, a still-unfair economic framework, and the growth of alternate forms of public education have combined to allow inequality to rear its ugly head. Disturbingly, the authors of the UCLA CRP brief see little effort being made to reverse course:The challenge of segregation grows each year and takes on more urgency as nonwhite students make up half of all students, yet it has been a long time since it was approached with vision to further integration and to provide the needed resources to do so. Instead, we have spent decades trying another approach: policies that have focused on attempting to equalize schools and opportunity though accountability and high-stakes testing policies, not to mention the federal subsidization of entirely new systems of school choice, like charter schools, without any civil rights provisions. These policies have not succeeded in reducing racial segregation or inequality.The resistance to change is well illustrated in local, state, and federal battles to fund schools in less affluent communities sufficiently to provide the same level of education as can be offered in more affluent areas. The intertwining of race and economic status now pits white, affluent communities against poorer communities of color in a competition for a limited amount of educational funding. And that argument is bitter.Should funds be prioritized for those at greatest risk and in districts with the least resources to spend on education, even if it means some districts will receive reduced funding? Just this week, Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee battled with U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King over how the federal government allocates funds specifically for boosting the education of low-income students. (Overall, the federal government provides about 10 percent of education funding, with the balance of funds provided evenly split between local and state governments). King’s proposed changes would result in more affluent districts losing current funds in order to assist areas in greater need, a change Alexander opposes vehemently. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, described the dilemma a fixed education pie puts in front of policymakers: “We don’t want to hurt one school to help another school. We have to help all schools.”If separate is truly unequal, then we must either be willing to spend more money so that no one needs to have less in order for some to get more, or we must accept the pain of those whom segregation has favored giving up some of their benefits to even the playing field. The social and economic barriers that separate our children cannot be allowed to remain and sentence some of our children to dim futures. It will take courage and investment, but it must be done.—Martin LevineShare18TweetShare1Email19 Shareslast_img read more

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Guidelines for Temporary Travel Ban Predictably a Chaotic Overreach

first_imgShare5TweetShare1Email6 Shares“No Muslim Ban march on the Capitol in Washington D.C. February 4, 2017” by Masha GeorgeJune 29, 2017; Washington PostAs the government rolled out its plans for implementing the SCOTUS-defined narrower version of the president’s immigration executive order at 8 pm ET Thursday night, it “clarified” components of the court order that left room for interpretation. Having heard the government’s decisions, some advocates are calling them “capricious” while others say that they’re designed to split up extended families and exclude refugees with pre-existing agreements with resettlement agencies. The suits have already begun, with one being filed by the state of Hawaii overnight, alleging that the implementation of the SCOTUS order violates and overreaches on its intentions.One of the areas left unclear in the Supreme Court’s court directive lifting lower court stays affecting the order, for instance, was the definition of “close family.” As reported in the Washington Post, “The administration’s new rules do not allow grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, cousins, and fiancés. They do allow sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, and stepchildren.” As it happens, the ban on affianced persons was lifted right before the ban went into effect last night, providing little confidence in the clarity of the rationales behind the rules.The administration also announced that even with existing agreements in place with refugee resettlement agencies, refugees will not be allowed to enter the country without a close family member in the U.S. Those resettlement nonprofits had read the law to say that their formal links with refugees would be sufficient basis for entry. Reactions from refugee resettlement nonprofits and advocates to the vague but threatening restrictions on their work came swiftly, as reported by Politico:“We’re going to do whatever needs to be done to make sure the government doesn’t gut the Supreme Court decision as it simultaneously guts the refugee program,” said Becca Heller of the International Refugee Assistance Project.“They’re halting almost the whole refugee program, which I think is a pretty gross violation of the Supreme Court’s order.…We’re going to need to challenge that. We’re working out precisely the best way to do so.”“There are 20,000 to 25,000 refugees not yet here who are already clients of refugee resettlement agencies who have been preparing for their arrival,” said Justin Cox, an attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “The government’s interpretation of this as to refugees will affect tens of thousands of the most vulnerable people in the world. We will be seeking recourse. Certainly, efforts will be made to fix this.”Meanwhile, legions of legal advocates have organized to represent individual travelers and to challenge the implementation of this decision.—Ruth McCambridgeShare5TweetShare1Email6 Shareslast_img read more

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A dispute has brewed up in Russia over the possibl

first_imgA dispute has brewed up in Russia over the possible allocation of frequencies held by the country’s ministry of defence for a new public broadcasting service proposed by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, according to local reports.The Russian defence ministry currently uses the frequencies for its own Star channel, which broadcasts in 79 regions across the country. According to reports, the ministry has so far failed to comply with requests to prepare for the handover of spectrum used for its service to the new public broadcast service.Plans for the development of the new public broadcast service have meanwhile reportedly stalled, with no structure or charter yet in place. The service was originally scheduled to begin broadcasting next year.last_img read more

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YouTube is taking on linear TV by opening up live

first_imgYouTube is taking on linear TV by opening up live streaming options for the first time to any channel that has more than 1,000 subscribers.The major expansion follows the introduction of live streaming functionality on the site in 2011, which has to now only been available to selected partners to air tentpole events such as the Coachella music festival coverage, and Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking skydive.YouTube said that any channel with enough subscribers that are in “good standing” – ie follow the YouTube community guidelines – can now apply for live streaming with the functionality to roll out to these channels in the coming weeks.The features offered by the new streaming options include real-time transcoding in the cloud, with YouTube to make streams instantly available in all resolutions and device formats. Multiple camera angles, closed captions, ad inserts can also be used.The news, which coincides with Google’s I/O developers conference in San Francisco, follows the launch last week of a subscription channels pilot for its site, with 53 initial participant networks kicking-off the scheme.The new pay channels carry subscription fees starting at US$0.99 (€0.77) per-month and all have a 14-day free-trial, with many also carrying discounted yearly rates.last_img read more

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Web streaming specialist RealNetworks has internat

first_imgWeb streaming specialist RealNetworks has internationally launched its cloud video service, which is designed to make it easy for viewers to move, watch and share content across any device.Announcing the wider rollout at of RealPlayer Cloud at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, RealPlayer said the app is now available in French, German and Spanish, with versions in Italian, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese due to follow.RealPlayer Cloud lets users send videos privately to family or friends straight from the app – without the need to share to public services like Facebook or YouTube.Users can access content from iOS, Android and Windows gadgets, as well as from Kindle Fire tablets and Roku and Chromecast TV streaming devices.RealNetworks’ founder and interim CEO Rob Glaser said RealPlayer Cloud is “essentially Dropbox for videos,” adding that the service already has 500,000 users in North America.Users can sign up for 2GB of RealPlayer Cloud storage for free, with additional storage priced from US$4.99 per-month (€3.64).last_img read more

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Sky and FX Networks have announced plans to team u

first_imgSky and FX Networks have announced plans to team up and develop new comedy aimed at audiences in the US and UK.The two-year deal will see the firms co-fund and co-develop new, post-watershed, half-hour scripted comedy.The firms said that the co-development deal will “involve the very best on- and off-screen talent from both Britain and the US” with any commissioned shows due to air on Sky1 or Sky Atlantic in the UK and Ireland and on FX Networks Channels in the US.“We’re hugely excited about working with FX Networks to develop distinctive brand new comedy and further strengthen our commitment to original home-grown programming,” said Sky’s head of comedy, Lucy Lumsden.“Partnering with the world’s most renowned broadcasters lets us bring Sky customers something truly special, and we look forward to working with the most talented comedy writers and performers in both Britain and the US.”last_img read more

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Netflix cofounder and CEO Reed Hastings In the n

first_imgNetflix co-founder and CEO, Reed HastingsIn the next 10 to 20 years all television will be on the internet, with the internet sector in general “transforming our society,” according to Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings.Speaking on CNBC’s Mad Money show, Hastings said that while cord cutting is still very small today, in the long term “it’s a worry” for the cable TV industry. He also predicted that sports networks and linear channels will start to go on-demand.“You’ll be able to watch any game, you’ll be able to watch it on any device. Think of all the current linear networks – they’re going to go to on-demand also, just like HBO has,” said Hastings.Asked about the disruptive influence of Netflix, Hastings said: “The taxi cabs have not been able to hold back Uber, Walmart has not been able to hold back Amazon, so really it’s a sector thing; the internet just offers such power.”“There’s this big internet sector story that’s transforming our society – not as fast as we thought in the 90s but when you look at the big picture now it’s pretty impressive,” he added.Asked why Netflix’s success hadn’t been replicated globally, he compared the service to Starbucks – “it doesn’t seem that hard to make coffee, yet one coffee chain is amazing around the world.”He also praised Netflix’s workforce, “the heart and passion” at the company, and the execution of its strategy, for its ascent.Earlier this year, Netflix confirmed plans to launch in Portugal and Italy in October this year. In the same month it intends to go live in Spain for the first time.last_img read more

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Sky is due to launch its new basic tier channel Sk

first_imgSky is due to launch its new basic tier channel Sky Sports Mix in the UK on August 24.Sky said the channel will bring a “huge variety of different sports to a whole new audience” with an average of five hours of live action broadcast each day in the first month.In this time Sky will cover 16 different sports on thechannel, including live cricket, rugby union, rugby league, golf and football.“It’s an exciting moment for Sky Sports as we open up a window to millions more people for the first time,” said Sky Sports managing director, Barney Francis.“Sky Sports Mix will offer the chance for millions of homes to enjoy a selection of the first class sport we broadcast every day, and we hope that will mean even more people find a sport they love and are inspired to become even more passionately engaged.”Sky first announced the launch of Sky Sports Mix back in March.last_img read more

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Roku has introduced five new streaming devices in

first_imgRoku has introduced five new streaming devices in what it described as the biggest player launch in the company’s history.The new device line-up introduces new entry-level options as well as high-end 4K and high dynamic range (HDR)-capable devices.The full product line consists of the Roku Express, Roku Express+, Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+ and Roku Ultra and ranges in price from US$29.99 to US$129.99 – undercutting both Google’s US$35 Chromecast at the low-end of the market and the US$149 Apple TV at the top-end.The entry level Roku Express models – priced at US$29.99 for the Express and US$39.99 for the Express+ – are Roku’s “most affordable streaming players ever”, according to the company, offering 1080p HD streaming in a simple dongle-style device.At the top-end, the Roku Ultra box offers HD, 4K at up to 60 fps and HDR streaming. It also supports Dolby Digital Surround Sound.The mid-range Roku Premiere and Roku Premiere+ boxes will retail for US$79.99 and US$99.99 respectively. The Premiere also supports 4K UHD playback while the Premiere+ includes HDR support.“Roku stands for streaming innovation and today we’re celebrating the biggest player launch in our company’s history, including the introduction of the Roku Express player which delivers a complete streaming experience for a shockingly low price of US$29.99,” said Roku founder and CEO, Anthony Wood.“Whether consumers simply want fast HD streaming via an inexpensive device or are looking for a top-of-the-line player with advanced features such as 4K and HDR, Roku is an easy choice.”At the same time, the streaming device maker said that Roku Search had hit a milestone, with content from more than 100 channels now available to browse – up from 50 channels in June. Roku Search is designed to give a cross-service rundown of content, ordered by what is free or the lowest price for viewers.Roku said that its five new streaming players complement its popular, April-introduced Roku Streaming Stick, and offer viewers “the most complete streaming player line-up”.“With this new lineup, though added mid-range and high-end depth will address the growing 4K TV set market, Roku’s most disruptive product in the new lineup is undoubtedly the new entry-level Express model,” said senior analyst at IHS Technology, Paul Erickson.“Chromecast’s low price, despite not being a standalone product, propelled it to become the most popular-selling streaming device in the world. With that as background, it is expected that Roku Express’ delivery of full standalone capability at an even lower price point will result in astrong consumer response.”The new Roku devices will be available over the coming weeks in US, Canada and Mexico, with no details currently about a European rollout.The news also comes amid reports that Google plans to launch a new 4K version of Chromecast and its new Amazon Echo-rivalling speaker device, Google Home, at an event planned for October 4.last_img read more

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UK freetoview satellite service Freesat is now i

first_imgUK free-to-view satellite service Freesat is now in over two million homes after recording a 90% increase in TVs and set-top boxes sold last year.Freesat added 58,000 new homes added over the course of the financial year, taking the total number of Freesat homes to over two million.In the year to March, Freesat recorded 904,000 devices sold – an increase of 90% year on year – which it said was boosted by the continuing popularity of smart and UHD televisions.The company said that the Freesat app has been downloaded over 800,000 times since it was first launched in 2014. The app, which can can be used as a remote control, to set recordings remotely, or to plan viewing through the TV Guide, was adapted for Android users in March.The last year as seen a number of new services join the Freesat on-demand platform, including STV Player and Wuaki. A number of new linear channels, Blaze, True Crime, Talking Pictures and 4Music, also joined the platform.“We’re delighted with the success of 2016 which saw us surpass a milestone figure of two million Freesat homes. Our increase in customer numbers is testament to the great service we offer: a viable alternative to expensive, pay TV services which offers customers a huge range of flexible and diverse content,” said Alistair Thom, Freesat’s managing director.“Freesat aims to provide an array of brilliant free content and the latest TV services to our viewers. As more and more channel partners see the value in subscription free TV, Freesat will continue to expand its content offering to bring customers a huge choice of programming, both free and pay. The user experience will also evolve as Freesat focuses on making it easier for customers to find the programmes they want to watch.”last_img read more

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