Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall BEIJING (AP) — China’s military has referred two ranking officers to prosecutors amid a continuing crackdown on corruption in the armed forces.Kou Tie and Liu Zhanqi were placed under investigation in November and their cases forwarded to prosecutors last month, the Defense Ministry said in a brief notice Wednesday.Kou had been head of the provincial military command in Heilongjiang in China’s northeast, while Liu had been transportation chief for the paramilitary People’s Armed Police, a sprawling body with broad responsibilities for internal security, disaster relief and other duties. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Quick workouts for men How men can have a healthy 2019 Military investigations have focused on embezzlement and bribery in the housing construction and logistics divisions, where generous funding and lax supervision have created ample opportunities for corruption.That has accompanied a new emphasis on welfare for the 2.3 million-member armed forces, with a substantial chunk of the annual double-digit percentage increases in defense spending going to salaries, benefits and other welfare for the troops.Along with the selling of ranks and positions, the diversion of military funds into private hands is believed to have dealt a strong negative effect on morale, discipline and combat preparedness in the world’s largest standing military.The campaign against military corruption kicked off with an investigation into the People’s Liberation Army’s former head of logistics, Lt. Gen. Gu Junshan, who allegedly amassed a jaw-dropping fortune through embezzlement, kickbacks and the selling of favors.Gu has yet to go to trial, while the military’s former second-highest ranking general, Xu Caihou, died of cancer in March while under investigation on suspicion of taking bribes and brokering promotions.President Xi Jinping, who is also head of the armed forces, has made the crackdown on military corruption a centerpiece of his sweeping drive against graft in the government and ruling Communist Party. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments Share
26Jan Pagel bill for parole hearings gets governor’s ceremonial signing Categories: Pagel News,Pagel Photos State Representative Dave Pagel, from Berrien Springs, joined Governor Rick Snyder this week for a ceremonial bill signing of his parole reform legislation. This bill corrected an injustice in the parole system for certain prisoners serving long-term sentences. Some of these prisoners were being unfairly denied access to the possibility of having their cases heard by the parole board, and Pagel’s legislation corrected this situation. “This bill is a common-sense improvement that allows all prisoners an equal chance at the possibility of parole hearings,” Representative Pagel said after the bill signing. “It allows our professionals on the parole board to carry out their responsibilities properly. All prisoners should be treated fairly.” While no prisoners will be granted parole based on this legislation, some that were being denied the possibility of parole hearings will now be able to have their cases considered by the parole board. Many have written to Representative Pagel expressing their appreciation for now having greater hope for the eventual possibility of receiving parole.#####
Organizers of the Michigan House’s mental health task force today announced plans to reschedule its meeting in Harrison.The meeting will be postponed until a later date. It was originally scheduled for Monday, Aug. 21, but a number of experts were unavailable to serve as panelists that day.“I apologize for any inconvenience this change has caused,” said Rep. Jason Wentworth, of Clare, a member of the bipartisan task force. “I am still looking forward to hearing from individuals throughout our area about improvements that should be made to mental health services, and I hope more people will be able to attend the meeting at a later date.”Information gathered during task force meetings will help legislators develop reforms that result in more consistency in mental health services statewide, better support for veterans, attention to substance abuse, enhanced training for law enforcement and more.The public also has an opportunity to submit written suggestions regarding mental health services online at www.House.mi.gov/CARES.The House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force, co-chaired by Reps. Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville and Klint Kesto of Commerce Township, is named for the key elements the House hopes to address in order to support residents facing mental health challenges: Community, Access, Resources, Education and Safety.### 16Aug House mental health task force reschedules Harrison meeting Categories: Wentworth News
28Sep Rep. Chatfield bill to return Michigan driver’s licenses, put thousands back to work Ineffective charges lead to heavy burdens on families Categories: Chatfield News,News State Rep. Lee Chatfield today introduced legislation as part of a package to reform and eliminate Michigan’s ineffective driver responsibility fees.Chatfield, of Levering, who serves as House Speaker Pro Tempore, said the fees were imposed by the last administration to help balance the state budget.“It is well past time to end this mistake and put this state back to work,” Chatfield said. “When the fees were first imposed in 2003, it was nothing more than a panicked fix to raise money for an unbalanced budget. That recklessness hurt thousands of families, cost people their jobs and trapped Michigan drivers in an inescapable cycle of poverty. We must stop the negative impact these pointless fees have on families trying to make ends meet.”Chatfield’s bill completely forgives the outstanding fines owed by more than 300,000 Michigan drivers, ending the ineffective program beginning Oct. 1, 2018. Other bills in the seven-bill package allow people to participate in a community service program in lieu of paying the fees. Earlier legislation had set a 2019 date for elimination of the fees.“People who are facing the fees likely have lost their driving privileges but still must work to support their families,” Chatfield said. “Some of those people are driving illegally just so they can pay the rent and put groceries on the table. These bills will end the process of forcing otherwise law-abiding people into criminal activity and perpetuating a cycle that keep them struggling economically.”The bills were referred to the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee, which Chatfield chairs.#####
Categories: Webber News 17Jan Rep. Webber: Overriding veto helps Michigan families receive vehicle sales tax relief Legislation speeds up reforms approved in 2013State Rep. Michael Webber today voted to accelerate sales tax relief for Michigan families buying motor vehicles by overriding a gubernatorial veto with his House colleagues.The House vote means additional tax relief for people buying cars, trucks and SUVs with a trade-in. Current law calls for phasing in planned sales and use tax deductions on purchases including a trade-in through 2039. This change corrects a wrong that has resulted in double taxation, keeping us competitive with many other states who do not have this tax. With today’s bi-partisan vote, the reductions will be fully implemented a decade earlier.Webber sponsored House Bill 4253 earlier this legislative session that was similar to the Senate bills voted on today.“This legislation rapidly increases the amount of money exempted from sales and use taxes when people buy motor vehicles, recreational vehicles and boats in Michigan with trade-ins,” said Webber, of Rochester Hills, after the House joined the Senate in overriding a veto of legislation from Gov. Rick Snyder. “Michigan families will be able to benefit from this tax relief. It will make buying a new car or truck more affordable.”The bills overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature were vetoed by the governor in July.The new law speeds reforms approved in 2013, allowing buyers to subtract the value of their trade-ins from the purchase price of a vehicle for sales tax purposes. The accelerated sales tax relief also will apply to boats and recreational vehicles bought with a trade-in.####
Categories: Canfield News State Rep. Edward J. Canfield, D.O. of Sebewaing, alongside a bipartisan group of his colleagues on the House’s mental health task force, Wednesday unveiled recommendations to make significant improvements to Michigan’s broken mental health system.As a member of the bipartisan House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force, Canfield spent five months attending meetings and visiting communities across Michigan. To learn how best to deliver meaningful solutions, feedback was collected from residents who lack care and resources. In particular, the panel focused on five key elements: Community, Access, Resources, Education and Safety (C.A.R.E.S.).“After traveling across the state and hearing from individuals experiencing mental illness and experts who help them, it’s clear mental health is a crucial issue everywhere,” said Canfield, who chairs the House Health and Human Services Subcommittee. “The Legislature must make it a priority. We need more support and funding to ensure mental health care facilities and patients are getting the proper resources and proactive care to make sure Michigan is not a state that waits for a crisis to happen, but rather a state that tackles a problem when it first arises.”Canfield said the House C.A.R.E.S report will not only serve as a blueprint for policy changes and legislation to be introduced in the next several months, but also establish a framework to further enhance mental health services in the future.The full report is available to review at www.house.mi.gov/CARES.Photo Information: State Rep. Edward J. Canfield, D.O. (center at podium) speaks during a press conference Wednesday afternoon unveiling the House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force’s final report. 18Jan Rep. Canfield: house report is framework to improving mental health services in Michigan
Share31TweetShare1Email32 SharesBy Illustratedjc (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMarch 29, 2017; BloombergHungarian leaders continued their assault on civil society this week with philanthropist George Soros still squarely in their sights. Legislation proposed by the right-wing Fidsez government as part of their self-proclaimed “spring offensive” targets foreign educational institutions, like the Soros-funded Central European University, with tighter regulations. With further crackdowns planned on NGOs, will the European Union step in?Both Soros and U.S. leaders expressed outrage over the new proposal, although the Hungarian-born billionaire is a frequent punching bag of America’s conservative leaders and the current administration.“The United States is very concerned about the legislation proposed by the Hungarian government yesterday that would severely impact the operations of the Central European University in Budapest,” U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Hungary David Kostelancik said in a statement to Bloomberg. The U.S. “opposes any effort to compromise the operations or independence of the University,” he said.As NPQ reported, the U.S. commitment to protecting human rights at home and abroad was recently called into question when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson downplayed the release of the annual Human Rights Report.Soros is also a controversial figure abroad, where he has offices of his Open Society Foundations running in 37 countries. In the European Union, he has been particularly vocal about member states doing their part to relieve the international refugee crisis, which is at odds with the anti-refugee policies of Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.Orbán, who has vowed to purse an “illiberal democracy” modeled on those in Russia and Turkey, is stepping up a campaign to sideline opposition voices, Bloomberg reported. One of Europe’s strongest advocates of U.S. President Donald Trump, the former anti-communist student leader has overseen the most extensive centralization of power in Hungary since the fall of the Iron Curtain after returning to office in 2010.Soros founded Central European University in 1991 at a time when “revolutionary changes were throwing off the rigid orthodoxies imposed on Central and Eastern Europe,” and the Budapest campus now serves about 1,400 students from 130 countries. Ironically, Orbán was once an ally and beneficiary of Soros’ largesse before moving rightward.CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff decried the new restrictions in a statement, saying, “Any legislative change that would force CEU to cease operation in Budapest would damage Hungarian academic life and negatively impact the government of Hungary’s relations with its neighbors, its EU partners and with the United States.”Although other countries including Russia and Uzbekistan have targeted Soros-funded organizations, as Bloomberg noted, Hungary is in a much different position.The director of the Open Society Initiative for Europe, Goran Buldioski, focused on the implications for democracy across the EU in an interview with the Irish Times.“This is a test for European values and democracies,” he said. “If an EU government feels free to attack civil society…it creates a really bad precedent, and I feel the EU should not only take note but take action.”—Anna BerryShare31TweetShare1Email32 Shares
Polish broadcaster TVP is about to launch high-definition versions of its two main channels. TVP1 and TVP2 will be broadcast in HD from start-June.The launch date means that Polish viewers will be able to see the public broadcaster’s coverage of the London Summer Olympics in HD.
Dutch telco KPN has increased its TV market share to 19% after adding 89,000 IPTV subscribers in the second quarter.The telco ended June with a total of 741,000, up from 416,000 a year earlier. However, KPNs DTT platform, Digitenne, continued to lose subscribers, dipping below the 800,000 mark for the first time to 771,000. That compares with 868,000 a year earlier.
The EU is half way towards achieving its goal of ensuring that all citizens have access to super-fast broadband services by 2020, according to a study by Point Topic.In a study produced for the EU’s DG Connect department responsible for the Digital Agenda, Point Topic said that 96% of EU homes can now get at least a 144Kbps internet service and over 50% can get super-fast broadband providing 30Mbps or above.Three EU countries – the Netherlands, Belgium and Malta – have over 98% coverage of super-fast broadband, while at the other end of the scale, three – Italy, Greece and Cyprus – have coverage of less than 11%. The other countries have coverage of between 35%-75%. Rural areas, however, have only 12% super-fast broadband coverage as a whole.Cable is the clear leader in providing super-fast broadband in the EU, with DOCSIS 3.0 now reaching 37% of homes, while fibre-to-the-premises covers only 12%. VDSL covered 21% of EU homes at the end of 2011. The coverage of the three technologies overlaps, meaning that about 50% of homes have access to one or more.
Arris customer premises solutions CTO Charles Cheevers explains the significance of the multimedia gateway concept and CCAP for cable.
Polish cable operator UPC Poland has made 35 channels available free to view and unencrypted on its platform. According to the company, its free to view offering provides a richer channel choice than that offered by digital-terrestrial TV. UPC says it is the first and only operator to provide free-to-air digital channels on this scale.The channel choice includes three HD services and a promotional free-to-view window for movie channel Kino Polska.Channels in the offering include TVP1, TVP1 HD, TVP2, TVP2 HD, TVP Info, Polsat, TVN, TVN HD, TVN7, TV 4, TV Puls, TVP Rozrywka, TVP Kultura, TVP Historia, TVP Polonia, PULS2, TV6, ATM Rozrywka, TTV, Polsat Sport News, Eska TV, Polo TV, Polsat2, Superstacja, TVS, TV Trwam, Tele5, religia.tv, 4fun.tv, Mango24, iTV and Galeria UPC as well as local TV services.UPC Poland also plans to launch a new digital Start TV package that will replace the existing Pakiet Minimalny basic analogue package.The free digital channels can be received via an integrated TV with a DVB-C tuner, including MPEG-4 for the HD services.
Vice Media and FremantleMedia yesterday launched in beta their new online food channel, called Munchies. The video-focused channel, named after Vice’s existing flagship food show, will showcase “the best in original food content and programming,” and combine Vice’s irreverent style with FremantleMedia’s production capability and global reach.Launching the network at MIPTV in Cannes this week, Vice unveiled five shows that will appear on Munchies: Being Frank; Munchies: Chef’s Night Out; Fresh Off the Boat; Girl Eats Food; and F*ck, That’s Delicious.Speaking at MIPTV, Vice co-founder Shane Smith said, “We expect viewership in the hundreds of millions this year,” reports DTVE’s sister title TBI.The Vice shows run to various length and FremantleMedia will repackage them into commercial hours and half-hours and shop them to broadcasters.“We have been approached by every company in the market and said ‘no’, because we like to keep our independence – but FremantleMedia are the best at what they do, at taking formats around the world,” said Smith.Launch plans for the Munchies channel were first announced in February.
Technicolor is to provide volume supplies of 4K-enabled set-top boxes to Indian DTH pay TV provider Tata Sky early next year – the first time a 4K box has been shipped in volume, according to Technicolor.Technicolor, which has supplied technology to Tata Sky since 2005, says it is building on its compression and colour science to deliver an augmented content experience capable of delivering Hollywood-grade picture quality to viewers.“Technicolor once again leads the market in landing the first high-volume deal to deliver 4K set-top boxes to consumers. This deal further solidifies our leadership in the 4K marketplace,” said Michel Rahier, president connected home, Technicolor.“With the promise of an unparalleled immersive viewing experience and the predicted rapid growth of the 4K market, this agreement is a valuable strategic business opportunity for Technicolor and our long term partner, Tata Sky.”
Sky will pay €6.68 per share to the remaining shareholders in Sky Deutschland as part of a ‘squeeze out’ process to take over the remaining 3.95% of the firm that it doesn’t already own. The squeeze out resolution is due to be approved at an extraordinary general meeting of Sky Deutschland on July 22, according to Sky.Sky said the price is based the “volume weighted average share price” of Sky Deutschland for the three-month period ending February 17, and the high-end of a formal valuation of the business.Sky said the cash compensation figure has been examined and confirmed by an independent valuer appointed by the competent Munich Court, in line with the German Stock Corporation Act.The announcement follows Sky’s takeover of Sky Deutschland and its sister company in Italy last November, creating a single international Sky operating across all three countries. Sky currently holds 96.05% of the shares in Sky Deutschland.
Red Bull Media House has struck a new partnership with Arqiva, which will distribute live sports for the media company to international broadcasters.The multi-year occasional use partnership will see communications infrastructure and media services company, Arqiva, distribute the content globally to rights takers through its teleports.Red Bull hosts a range of sports events across the globe, including the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series and the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Among the content that Arqiva will handle is the second season of Red Bull’s Beach Volleyball coverage.“It is always great to gain a new media partner, but the fact that we’ll be working alongside a global company that is pushing the boundaries in terms of sports content distribution is hugely exciting,” said Arqiva’s managing director of satellite and media, David Crawford.“Arqiva continues to expand its presence across the globe, and the partnership with Red Bull Media House to distribute content to international broadcasters highlights the outstanding, trusted reputation we are developing across multiple markets.”
Cable and telecoms group Altice aims to raise some US$1.35 billion by listing its US business on the New York Stock Exchange.In a statement, Altice said it had launched an initial public offering (IPO) of 46.55 million shares, which it expects to price at between US$27 and US$31 per share.This would value the IPO at between US$1.26 billion and US$1.44 billion – with a mid-point of US$1.35 billion.Altice would recoup roughly a quarter of this by offering some 12.1 million shares, with funds advised by BC Partners and entities affiliated with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board offering the rest.Reuters reported that the offering would value Altice USA at between US$20 and US$22 billion and could help Altice founder Patrick Drahi to expand the US business through more acquisitions.Altice USA offers broadband, pay TV and telephony services to an estimated 4.9 million residential and business customers in the US via brands like Suddenlink, Optimum and Lightpass.Altice first filed its planned US IPO registration with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in April, but at the time the number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering were yet to be determined.News of the terms of the IPO came in the same week that Altice agreed a multi-year partnership with Netflix to make the SVOD giant’s content available to its customers in France, Portugal, Israel and the Dominican Republic.
Pay TV outfit Viasat Ukraine has signed a deal with satellite operator SES to broadcast its offering on the Astra 4A satellite.Under the multi-year agreement with SES, Viasat Ukraine’s Vision TV service will be broadcasting approximately 40 pay TV channels, including 13 are in high-definition, and about 60 free-to-air channels at 5° East. SES serves close to 13 million TV homes in Ukraine from this orbital position, of which 4.5 million are DTH homes.“We are very pleased that Viasat Ukraine has trusted us with the delivery of their video content. This agreement with such an important TV player in Ukraine confirms our leading position in the country when it comes to DTH services. With the digital switchover approaching, and the drive for encryption of satellite channels, we strongly believe there will be considerable growth opportunities in the market, and we expect to support our customers in seizing them,” said Norbert Hölzle, SVP, commercial Europe, SES Video.“Viasat Ukraine offers the best collection of content available in local languages, and a reliable transmission of this content is key to keep entertaining our audience in the best possible way. That is why we chose to rely on SES’s track record in delivering high-quality services. We are confident that SES’s expertise will help us grow our audience and our TV business in the coming years,” said Svitlana Mischenko, CEO at Viasat Ukraine.Viasat Ukraine was sold by Modern Times Group last year to Ukrainian broadcaster 1+1, which saw an opportunity to diversify from its primarily advertising-focused free-to-air business.
Netflix uptake is now as strong as pay TV use in the US with 73% of Americans taking each type of subscription offering, according to new research by PwC.The survey found that the proportion of US respondents who subscribe to pay TV has fallen from 79% in 2015 and 76% in 2016 to 73% this year – the same proportion who now also subscribe to Netflix.“The number of traditional Pay TV subscribers continues to drop as more people are trimming or cutting the cord completely,” said the PwC report.“At the same time, people report they’re paying more for video today than they were last year. 53% of cord trimmers report paying more for their services in 2017 than they did in 2016. However, trimmers are still paying less than traditional subscribers overall.”PwC said that live sports is one of the “primary motivators” keeping people tied to a pay TV subscription and predicted the evolution of live streaming in sports could mean an “even more precipitous decline in pay TV subscriptions”.Some 82% of traditional pay TV subscribers polled said they would trim or cut their subscription if they no longer needed it to access live sporting events, while 90% said they believe the options for watching live sports have expanded in recent years.The findings were taken from a PwC survey of 1,986 Americans, aged 18 to 59, with annual household incomes above US$40,000, plus two consumer focus groups in New York. The research was carried out in October.Access the full report by clicking here.
Sweden-based conditional access specialist Cryptoguard has developed a range of solutions that are designed to enable smaller operators to deliver the same range of services as their large-scale counterparts, as CEO Kjell Carlswärd explained to Digital TV Europe.How do the content security needs of small-scale service providers typically differ from those with larger customer bases?Generally I do not see the needs of smaller operators being different than those of big operators. The problem seems rather to be that the small operators may not have the financial strength to invest in their own CAS. Our business model has been a success for small operators choosing Cryptoguard’s CAS, since we have a unique custom pricing model, which means that all operators can afford to make the investment. The decision path is shorter for a small operator and new technology can therefore be launched quickly in those nets. Actually, if the big operators have just one advantage against the small players, it is that they have their own marketing departments, and so can profile new features in its network professionally. But again, the small operators are incredibly important to us. And we hope they see us as important to them. Many smaller operators who have chosen our solution often have more features – NVOD, OTT, VOD – than the big operators, and, indeed, at a very attractive price. What we do not develop ourselves, we can provide through several extremely talented middleware companies with which we have established cooperation. We provide the operator with an eco-system containing box, CAS and smartcard and also, really importantly, our own-created SMS. We also have a cardless system that some operators want, although I am of the opinion that it is best to separate the security keys from the chip in the box. In addition it is actually a commercial for the operator to use cards, even if inexperienced operators think otherwise.How significant is demand for pre-paid solutions? Is this a growing market and, if so, in which regions and what is driving this?Prepaid solutions are an option that we offer. We have already launched, four years ago, CryptoLITE, which was offered not only in developing countries but also in Sweden to very small networks where a server is not used. We have created software for different headends so no server is needed. Another market where prepaid solutions are interesting is point-to-point satellite transmission.Do you believe that the separation of network infrastructure provider from service provider – with multiple service providers operating over the same network – is likely to be a growing trend? If so, what is driving this?Yes, we experience that today. We have patented a unique solution, CryptoMulti, which allows multiple service operators in the same network to manage the end user’s smartcard. What we often heard earlier from cable operators using QAM techniques is that there is limited frequency and therefore that they can’t offer more space to more service providers. In IP networks, this works easily and when we took on this QAM problem, we developed a technique that in fact really can handle it. Today, therefore, a network owner can take a role akin to a communications provider, and rent out his network to multiple service providers if Cryptoguard CAS is used, whether it’s an IP network, QAM network or both.To what extent is it possible for different service providers to share a common infrastructure while differentiating their offerings? What common forms of differentiation could you envisage, if any?As I said there is no restriction in this any more, if subscribers use one Cryptoguard card. Then, the subscriber can be a customer to one or more service providers at any time, or choose from among several service providers. You could have one provider of family films, or another that has unique sports programming for example. Everything is controlled by the same smartcard, using the same server of each of the operators.How significant is the market in the Middle East for the solutions you offer?The Middle East is interested in the latest technology. We have security solutions for OTT, which is a market that has grown very quickly. But other markets are important to us. Content providers have increased their demand for secure transmission of content. We’re proud of our state-of-the-art CW fingerprinting technology to detect card sharing networks to the individual subscriber level. We also send different CWs to all smartcards.Cryptoguard is a Swedish conditional access system provider, founded 2007. It delivers its CA system to over 110 operators in Sweden and several other countries. Cryptoguard is focusing on new markets in eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. Cryptoguard CAS can be used in terrestrial, satellite, cable, IP or hybrid networks.