A landmark study of the value of cruising has revealed that cruise passengers spend an average of $371 a day in Australian ports, helping push the cruise industry’s total economic contribution in Australia to an impressive $3.2 billion last year.Topping the list of big spenders are international passengers who ring up an average $756 a day on accommodation, shopping, dining and transport before they board their ship.The report was prepared for CLIA Australasia by Business Research & Economic Advisors (BREA), and it used a global methodology adopted for economic impact statements on cruise tourism in the US, UK and Europe.Australian cruisers also like to splurge, spending an average $450 a day before they board their ship as well as $156 a day in ports they visit during their cruise.With cruise passengers spending more than $700 million across Australia last year, the study found Sydney, Fremantle and Melbourne topped the list in terms of highest daily spend for international passengers pre-cruise.According to the new study, the cruise industry’s economic output in Australia in 2013 reached a massive AUD$3.2 billion, with direct expenditure by passengers, crew and cruise lines accounting for AUD$1.72 billion of this figure.The study found that cruise companies’ four biggest operating expenses were fuel, food and beverages, travel agent commissions and port charges with agent commissions totaling AUD$121 million in 2013.CLIA Australasia chairman Gavin Smith said that the report is a landmark study which clearly captures the far-reaching benefits of a growing cruise industry.“This is the first independent report to draw on cruise line data and passenger surveys to show us how much cruise lines, passengers and crew spend across the country,” Mr Smith said.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wiseman
The lounge service is offered in partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge and includes up to three hours of lounge access, complimentary food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and shower facilities. The lounge is open from 5am until midnight and is located in the Departures (Level 4) area of Brisbane International Airport, between Gate 81 and 82. AirAsia Regional Commercial Head Matana Thienthong said, “AirAsia is already known for its fantastic fares and award-winning service. Today, we are taking that up a notch with the introduction of our ‘Red Carpet Service’, a typical premium perk which includes priority check-in and baggage, exclusive lounge access and boarding privileges.”AirAsia also offers ‘Red Carpet Service’ at Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok AirAsia’s new Red Carpet Service, for guests travelling from Brisbane International Airport, includes, a dedicated check-in area, priority baggage delivery, complimentary lounge access and express boarding. The service is available for pre-booking at airasia.com for just AUD$75. Children under the age of two are able to access the lounge free of charge when travelling with a full paying adult (limit of two children per adult). Guests may also purchase ‘Red Carpet Service’ at check-in for just AUD$85. AirAsiaairlinesairportsBangkokBrisbaneRed Carpet Service
State Rep. Lee Chatfield today introduced a resolution declaring March 20, 2016 as ‘Snowplow Driver Appreciation Day’ in Michigan.“It is very fitting that we establish the first day of spring as ‘Snowplow Driver Appreciation Day’ to express our gratitude to the hard-working men and women who labor long hours under severe weather conditions to ensure Michigan residents can travel to work, school and other destinations safely,” said Rep. Chatfield, R-Levering.House Resolution 250 asks that all Michigan residents join in showing appreciation for the thousands of hard-working snowplow drivers who help keep us safe, as well as helping to ensure the uninterrupted movement of goods and services in support of our state’s economy.### Categories: Chatfield News 17Mar Rep. Chatfield introduces resolution declaring ‘Snowplow Driver Appreciation Day’ in Michigan
13Jan Midland guests join Rep. Glenn for House swearing-in ceremony State Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, Wednesday was sworn in for his second term in the Michigan House of Representatives.Joining him for the special event were Midland County Republican Chair Cathy Leikhim and 4th Congressional District Republican Chair Judy Rapanos, both of Midland. Pictured on the House floor, from left: House Speaker Tom Leonard, Leikhim, Rapanos and Glenn.Glenn was first elected in November 2014 to represent parts of Bay and Midland counties. To contact the representative, call toll free at 1-855-GLENN98; by email at GaryGlenn@house.mi.gov; through his website, RepGaryGlenn.com; or by mail at Anderson House Office Building, S-1287, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909. Categories: Glenn News,Glenn Photos
14Mar House approves Rep. Lucido’s electronic registration bill Legislation by state Rep. Peter Lucido of Shelby Township was unanimously approved by the House today, making it one step closer to law that drivers can share an electronic proof of registration during a traffic stop.“This is common sense for 2017 because technology is everywhere,” Lucido said. “A paper proof of registration is not the only way to confirm ownership of our cars. If we can make it more efficient and safer for the taxpayers and the police officers, we should absolutely take advantage of the technology we have at our disposal.”The legislation will allow either paper or electronic proof of registration to be presented. Law enforcement officials will be allowed to confirm its authenticity by taking the device to their vehicle or requesting the documentation be forwarded by email or text.The bill follows similar legislation enacted in 2016 that allows for electronic proof of vehicle insurance.“It’s about time,” Lucido said. “I’m certain there are other areas of state law where we can expand to include technology’s reach.”The legislation advances to the state Senate for its consideration. Categories: Lucido News,News
Under the Hernandez legislation, anyone who moves from another state, or enters the workforce for the first time would be able to average an income of zero dollars for the previous years. Meaning this bill will incentivize more people to enter the workforce, and help attract more workers and business investment to Michigan. ### “The state budget will not be negatively affected by this bill, since by definition – individuals will only get a tax cut based on how much their income increases,” Hernandez continued, “So the state is guaranteed not to lose tax revenue from where we are today.” 08Feb Rep. Hernandez introduces “My Thrive” legislation to reduce tax burden on Michigan citizens “What MY THRIVE does is to allow citizens to pay state taxes on the rolling three year average of their adjusted gross income.” said Hernandez. “Earlier this session, the legislature passed “MIThrive” and “Good Jobs” legislation, which were tax breaks on new jobs and economic activity for corporations. I see no reason why, if this can be done for them, we cannot give all individuals a tax break on new income they earn. Considering many recent reports of increased wages and bonuses nationwide, there is no better time to do this.” Citizens who’s income goes down from a previous year would pay taxes on the lower amount (would not be forced to average their income). So in this way, no one would ever pay MORE taxes under this bill. The way the plan works is that beginning in 2018, if an individual (or small business) makes $20,000 this year, $30,000 next year, and $40,000 in year three, they would pay taxes on $20,000 this year, $25,000 next year, and $30,000 in year three, the average of the current year and the previous 2 years. Categories: Hernandez News,News LANSING – State Representative Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) introduced legislation today which uses the concept of business tax incentives that passed the Legislature earlier this term and extends them to all Michigan citizens and small business owners. He is affectionately calling the bill “My Thrive”.
Categories: Cox News,News 14Feb Rep. Cox, House vote to provide Michigan families well-deserved tax relief Rep. Laura Cox and the state House today advanced legislation to significantly lower taxes for Michigan families.The bills would increase personal exemptions for Michigan taxpayers and their dependents on state income taxes – a move that will save families hundreds of dollars overall.“Our state budget is in good condition and our economy continues to improve,” said Cox, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee. “This is a fantastic time to provide tax relief. In fact, it’s long overdue. Michigan families deserve this tax cut and I am pleased to help deliver it.”The legislation ensures Michigan taxpayers will be able to continue claiming personal exemptions on their income taxes, a necessary step after federal tax reforms signed into law in December. In addition, the bills increase the state personal exemption from the current $4,000 to $4,900 by the 2021 tax year.That translates into significant savings. The technical fix related to the federal reforms saves $170 per person per year — or $680 for a family of four – on state income taxes. The plan to raise the personal exemption to $4,900 provides $102 in additional relief for a family of four.The legislation also allows taxpayers to continue to claim current city income tax exemptions.Senate Bills 748 and 750 also were approved by the Senate today, meaning the legislation advances to Gov. Rick Snyder for his consideration.###
The State of Michigan this week announced several new programs to receive state support and incentives for local development. One project, supported by Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield, is located in Cheboygan. Categories: Chatfield News The project also qualified for the state’s “Michigan Main Street” program, which grants the City of Cheboygan special access to technical assistance and expert guidance on economic development and job creation for the next five years. Boyne City, Charlevoix, Grayling, and Sault Ste. Marie have also recently qualified for the program. “I worked with state officials and the Cheboygan Chamber of Commerce in support of this project because I believe in Cheboygan, and I believe in this community’s future as it continues to grow and create opportunities for people all across the region,” said Chatfield, of Levering. “Downtown Cheboygan is a strong community with great potential, and our state and local governments should be doing all we can to support the city and the people of northern Michigan.” 13Jun Cheboygan receives state support for downtown redevelopment “New developments do more than just create jobs and raise the property values for local families. They also create stronger communities and build more interesting places to live and work. Cheboygan is a growing city that still has a lot of room for new opportunities and new investment. With the right plan, there’s no telling what kind of positive changes we could see in the next few years.” Cheboygan Main Street plans to develop an empty building on Main St. in downtown Cheboygan into several new apartments with commercial space on the first floor, including a theater and a new dedicated Stormy Kromer retail outlet.
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesSeptember 9, 2014; N.Y. Daily NewsThe Ferguson City Council will be implementing a Civilian Review Board to help guide and give feedback to the local police department, which has been heavily criticized for its behavior and aggressive responses to the protests following the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.This board will consist of civilians who are not connected or affiliated with the police department in any way but have a vested interest in helping to improve the police force while functioning in a watchdog role.The concept of an oversight board was proposed back in August during the height of the protests when the Ferguson police was still using rubber bullets and tear gas to subdue protestors.“We want to reassert the idea that we need accountability from the department, and we need local change—not just in North County, but city-wide,” said Montague Simmons with the Organization for Black Struggle back in August. “The relationship has to be transformed of how officers are actually being held accountable for excessive use of force.”The idea of a review board composed of civilians is not new or uncommon. New York City has a Citizen Complaint Review Board that is independent of the police department and investigates potential cases of police misconduct. Similarly, other cities like San Diego, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Durham and many more also have citizen review boards that address concerns submitted by other civilians and discuss what action, if any, should be taken.The initiative comes just days after the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would be opening a civil rights investigation into the Ferguson police department. In a prepared response last Thursday, September 4th, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said:“These anecdotal accounts underscored the history of mistrust of law enforcement in Ferguson that has received a good deal of attention. As a result of this history—and following an extensive review of documented allegations and other available data—we have determined that there is cause for the Justice Department to open an investigation to determine whether Ferguson Police officials have engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal law.”In addition to the civilian board, the Ferguson officials will also be implementing new procedures limiting the revenue the city can receive from its court systems. For example, the fee defendants would normally pay if they do not show up to their court date will be waived.According to Thomas Harvey, the head of ArchCity Defenders, a local St. Louis nonprofit that provides legal services to low-income individuals, these changes are “a great first step” and he hopes “they can improve up on it and hopefully be a model for other municipalities.”—Shafaq HasanShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share22TweetShareEmail22 SharesJune 28, 2016; USA TodayAs fans anxiously await the arrival of the 2016 football season, the National Football League is making use of its time off this summer, announcing earlier this week $10 million in funding toward sexual violence prevention efforts. News of the gift, first detailed by USA Today, has resulted in mixed emotions. Some are applauding the League for investing in solutions to problems that are all too familiar to its sport. Others are quick to consider the pledge a PR cover-up of a bigger issue deeply rooted in the culture of professional sports, and particularly the NFL. The NFL has partnered with Raliance, a newly formed coalition of three sexual violence awareness and prevention organizations, including the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. The Coalition will act as a liaison between the League and the beneficiary organizations. The first phase of the $10 million multiyear commitment will begin next month. The initial 27 grants of $50,000 each will be awarded by Raliance to organizations throughout the United States and one in Guam.So let’s just get the obvious grumble out of the way. The NFL spending $10 million is about proportionate a ratio as the cost of an average football fan buying a bag of chips and dip before the big game (and with the chips being on sale). The NFL reported 2013 revenue of just under $300 million, assets of almost $1.5 billion, and its Commissioner, Roger Goddell, received $34 million in compensation. A 2015 Business Insider article estimated that the 32 NFL franchises are worth about $63 billion. While it may be the thought that counts, the League’s gift isn’t, shall we say, sacrificial. However, the issue of sexual and domestic violence, and its relevance within the NFL, is what’s really at play here. Headlines of allegations of sexual and physical assault, including domestic violence incidences and rape convictions and the League’s choice to sit on the sidelines throughout it all have put the professional sport and its executives at the forefront of a national debate about the culture of professional football and what acts are condoned and swept under the rug for the sake of profit and victories on the gridiron. This isn’t the first time the NFL has attempted to remedy its own misconduct with participation in some sort of publicly spotlighted initiative. Just two years ago, a handful of NFL players teamed up with NO MORE—an initiative to raise awareness and engage bystanders around ending domestic violence—in a short-lived PSA campaign aired during football broadcasts. The PSA declared “NO MORE” common excuses given on behalf of those responsible for the sexual and physical assault. A spinoff PSA during the same campaign featured select players exhaling deeply, seemingly struggling to find the right words to say but ultimately remaining silent, symbolizing how hard it can be to talk about domestic violence (the underlying message being the importance of not staying quiet—a lesson that apparently was not heeded by the NFL on several occasions). But now that the NFL is attempting to let its money do the talking, a central question arises: is the recent pledge announcement a genuine step in the right direction toward a complete culture shift within the league itself? Raliance’s ultimate goal is to put an end to sexual violence in the United States in one generation, and according to the NFL’s senior vice president for social responsibility, Anna Isaacson, the League has what it takes to get them there:What I can’t stress enough is the potential for this progress and how excited we are to be standing behind these organizations because their goals are so lofty and this is such a huge moment in sexual violence. To be able to use these moments and actually make real change, it’s something that we really believe in.Regardless of whether the public considers the NFL’s philanthropic commitment yet another PR stunt, the League’s strategic partnership with the Raliance coalition and support of related sexual violence organizations is perhaps the biggest and best step yet that it has taken since stories of player misconduct began blanketing the front pages. In this scenario specifically, the National Football League is notorious for doing too little—or nothing at all—too late. Let’s hope the NFL’s gift is the start of a new kind of approach tackling issues of sexual and domestic violence.—Lindsay WalkerShare22TweetShareEmail22 Shares
Share63TweetShare7Email70 Shares“City of Flint, Michigan water, filter distribution, and sample turn-in, on Wednesday, October 5, 2016.” USDA photo by Lance CheungMarch 28, 2017; National Public Radio, “The Two-Way”A suit against the state of Michigan brought by Flint resident Melissa Mays and three nonprofit groups was settled yesterday for $97 million to be spent, among other things, on new water service lines to replace those that have been leaching lead into the city’s water. The water lines for 18,000 households will be examined for possible replacement.“This is the first little battle won in this huge overall war,” Mays told NPR’s Ari Shapiro. “For the first time, we’ve been able to have a federal court enforce the state to do the right thing, which is to replace the pipes that their agencies and their administration broke. And now people can start to see progress.”Mays and three nonprofits—Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan—filed the lawsuit more than a year ago. A mediator has been working with the case since December and passed along his recommendations to U.S. District Judge David Lawson, who made a final ruling yesterday.The settlement requires the state to continue to operate nine bottled water and filter distribution centers through September 1st, with clearly designated procedures for closing any of them. It also mandates expanded Medicaid services to cover such programs as monitoring the blood of local children for elevated lead levels. More details are available in this Detroit Free Press report.Flint, as we know, is not the only community with a poisoned water system, and Mays wants this lawsuit to be seen not only as a win for Flint residents but a model for others fighting for environmental justice. “This proves that even while poisoned, even while struggling for survival, that we’re not just victims; we are fighters. And we hope that we can lead a good example for the rest of the cities and states in this country facing this problem in a way that we can be proud of.”—Ruth McCambridgeShare63TweetShare7Email70 Shares
Internet media platform Blinkx has launched a beta version of its video embedding platform Blinkx VideoAdvantage.Blinkx VideoAdvantage is designed to enable web publishers to embed video from Blinkx’s video catalogue in their sites at minimum cost.According to Blinkx, publishers can use the Blinkx VideoAdvantage self-service portal to choose from a cataplogue of premium video content and track video views and revenue as well as customizing the playback experience via configurable video widgets.Blinkx will place contextually relevant advertising against the videos and share revenue with the publisher.The Blinkx VideoAdvantage portal will provide content from over 900 providers configurable for the web and mobile, according to Blinkx.
Amazon is reportedly planning to release a video-streaming set-top box in time for Christmas, going up against rivals in the online TV space like Roku and Apple TV. According to a Wall Street Journal report, which cites people briefed on the plans, the set-top box will be used to deliver Amazon’s own streaming video service as well as apps by third parties.Amazon has approached a number of media app developers and cable TV providers in a bid to secure partnerships for the rollout of the box, which is codenamed ‘Cinnamon’, said the WSJ.However, it added it was unclear when the precise release date would be or at what price the box would be priced.Amazon has already moved into hardware with its Kindle line of e-book readers and Kindle Fire tablet. In the US it also runs a subscription VOD service called Prime Instant Video and in the UK and Germany owns online streaming service LoveFilm.Reports of Amazon’s set-top plans first emerged in April, with Bloomberg reporting at the time that the device was due out by this autumn. Amazon’s Lab126 division in Cupertino was reportedly developing the device with former Cisco executive Malachy Moynihan said to be running the project.
Global average internet speeds increased by about 5.2% in the second quarter of this year, with Europe leading the way with impressive year-on-year gains, according to CDN giant Akamai’s latest State of the Internet report. The global average connection speed in the second quarter was 3.3Mbps, with quarter-over-quarter gains being seen in nine of the top 10 markets. The largest increases were in the UK, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, France and Italy, which recorded growth in average connection speed of over 10%.Switzerland remained the European country with the highest average speed of 11Mbps after recording a 9.1% increase during the quarter. The Netherlands with an average of 10.1Mbps is the only other European country with an average in excess of 10Mbps, after recording a 6.2% quarterly increase.Romania recorded the highest average peak connection speed in Europe at 47.5Mbps, followed by Switzerland with 41.4Mbps.
Pay TV provider M7 Group is launching a new DTH platform in Hungary as an extension of its existing AustriaSat offering.AustriaSat Magyarország will be operated by M7 subsidiary M70 and will be broadcast via two transponders on the Eutelsat 9A satellite.AustriaSat Magyarország will broadcast 55 of the most popular Hungarian public and commercial TV channels, including 12 channels in HD. The service will offer three packages, Start, Optimal and Maximal, ranging in price from HUF1,790 (€6.75) to HUF6,490.Transmissions from Eutelsat 9A can be received by dishes with dual feed LNBs pointed at the Eutelsat Hotbird position at 13° East.The service is the latest in M7’s portfolio of European DTH offerings, which include CanalDigitaal and Online.nl in the Netherlands, TV Vlaanderen in Flanders, TéléSAT in French speaking Belgium, AustriaSat in Austria and Skylink in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.Jaromír Glisník, member of the Board of M7 Group, said: “With the launch of AustriaSat Magyarország at the 9° East orbital position, we want all of our Hungarian customers to enjoy an easy and entertaining TV experience via a state of the art service and personal customer care. We are confident that this new platform will follow the same path of development as AustriaSat in Austria and Skylink in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.”
France’s Bouygues has extended its improved offer to acquire Vivendi-owned telco SFR until April 25 and has offered an indemnity payment of €0.5 billion in the event of a deal being blocked as it attempts to persuade the company’s owners not to sign a deal with rival bidder Altice/Numericable.The Bouygues offer had been due to expire on April 8, just four days after the termination of Vivendi’s agreed three-week period of exclusive negotiations with Altice.“Bouygues wishes to allow Vivendi the time to examine its offer in a calm and detailed manner, and to proceed with all the necessary discussions that such an important operation requires,” the company said.Bouygues is offering €13.15 billion for SFR, which it says presents a better deal than the €11.75 billion on offer from Altice.Bouygues is also offering to table an indemnity payment of €500 million in the event of France’s competition regulator blocking a deal between the pair.Bouygues said the money would be paid to Vivendi if the competition authority blocked the deal or if Bouygues withdrew its offer because the remedies proposed by the regulator were too onerous.The company said the move showed it was confident that the merger betweent Bouygues Telecom and SFR would secure a regulatory green light.
Wendy AylseworthThe US Society of Motion Pictures Engineers (SMPTE) and the Hollywood Post Alliance (HPA) are to merge.SMPTE will initially provide administrative support to HPA, expected to culminate in the merger of the two organisations by May 2015.The pair said that their partnership would unite the two leading technical organisations serving the media and entertainment business, and would give both SMPTE and HPA the opportunity to extend their reach and expand their membership while better serving the whole industry.“HPA is known not only for its unique brand identity, but also for facilitating open dialog among all disciplines in the entertainment industry,” said Wendy Aylsworth, president of SMPTE.“Complementing SMPTE’s work in standards and education, these qualities will enrich the experience of SMPTE members worldwide, giving them the opportunity to engage in more frequent dialogue with nontechnical and supporting industry professionals. For these and many other reasons, we look forward to extending the HPA brand to a broader global audience.”
Tele Columbus’s Hanover HQGerman cable operator Tele Columbus has acquired overall control of BMB, the cable arm of housing group Vivawest.Tele Columbus has now acquired all the outstanding shares of BMB, previously part of holding group and Vivawest subsidiary Marienfeld Multimedia. BMB supplies services to about 220,000 households in North Rhine Westphalia and the Ruhr area.The acquisition increases Tele Columbus’s presence in North Rhine Westphalia, also the home turf of Liberty Global’s German cable unit Unitymedia.The acquisition of BMB will mean that Tele Columbus will supply its cable TV and internet services to homes managed by Vivawest.
TV networks are in some instances now are seeing more than 50% of their 18 to 34 year-old viewership tuning in during the seven-day window after the live airing of shows, according to Nielsen. In new research, which looked at the importance social media in building audiences, Nielsen said that reality series were 31% more likely to be watched live, while premiere episode, regardless of genre, was 15% more likely to be watched live.Nielsen said a 10% increase in Nielsen Twitter TV Rating impressions corresponded to a 1.8% increase in the audience who watch the show during the seven days after the live airing. This indicates that “social media activity around TV programming is playing a role in driving viewers to watch programming later in the week,” said Nielsen.It also noted that “more social shows see a greater boost in time-shifted audiences than less social ones,” with ‘high social’ shows, getting a 36% larger catch-up audience than live audiences, compared to ‘low social’ shows’ that had catch-up audiences just 16% larger than live audiences.
UK service provider TalkTalk has added Netflix to its YouView-based TV offering as of today.TalkTalk is making Netflix available initially to households that have pre-registered for the service. It will make Netflix available to all 1.2 million homes that take its TV product by the end of the month.Netflix is already available to BT TV YouView customers and to YouView retail customers.TalkTalk’s agreement with the subscription video-on-demand provider follows its acquisition of the Blinkbox on-demand and sell-through service from Tesco last week. The company unveiled plans to use Blinkbox’s technology to launch a TV app to deliver services for in-home and out-of-home viewing on multiple devices.“Netflix is a brilliant new addition to TalkTalk TV. As Britain’s fastest growing TV service, we are on a mission to provide the best movies and hit TV shows that our customers can dip in and out of, all at a great price. Netflix complements this perfectly,” said Tristial Harrison, TalkTalk’s commercial director.“The fact that TalkTalk homes can enjoy such a huge range of must-see content, on their TV as well as on other devices is an exciting step forward. We can’t wait for them to dive into the movies and series everyone’s talking about.”Bill Holmes, global head of business development, Netflix, said: “By partnering with TalkTalk we’re making it even easier for many TV fans and movie lovers in Britain to watch Netflix on their television screens.”