No related posts. Costa Rica received 248,996 European tourists in 2012, and it’s their favorite tourist destination in the region, followed by Guatemala with 172,160 visitors from that continent.The figures were published in a report released this week by the Central American Tourism Promotion Agency, adding that the region as a whole increased tourist arrivals by 16 percent in 2012.According to the report, 717,883 European tourists arrived in the region in 2011, while in 2012 the number rose to 832,576.Germany and the United Kingdom are the countries that most contributed to these figures, as visitors from those countries accounted for 9.7 and 7 percent of visitors in the seven countries of the region.Spanish tourists are third, as they increased their visits to Central America by four percent. Facebook Comments
Housing Market Housing Prices HPI 2017-05-02 ScottMorgan1 May 2, 2017 609 Views Home Prices March Ever Higher The steady increase in home prices continued in March. The latest CoreLogic Home Price Index (HPI) showed home prices up 1.6 percent from February, and up 7 percent from a year ago. And the firm is confident that the upward trend will carry through to next year.Through its HPI Forecast, CoreLogic predicted that home prices will increase by almost 5 percent year-over-year basis by next March. Its prediction for April’s increase is a more modest 0.6 percent.“With a forecasted increase of almost 5 percent over the next 12 months, the index is expected to reach the previous peak during the second half of this year,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Prices in more than half the country have already surpassed their previous peaks, and almost 20 percent of metropolitan areas are now at their price peaks.”Washington led states in year-over-year price increases, up 12.8 percent compared to last March. Three of its large metros‒‒Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellingham‒‒posted similar numbers. Neighboring Oregon saw a 9.9 percent increase in prices, while Utah saw a 9.4 percent bump. Of states that saw prices increase over the year, Oklahoma had the smallest return, with prices climbing 1.1 percent.Only two states saw home prices drop compared to last year. Prices in Alaska were 0.8 percent below where they were last March; prices in West Virginia were 1.2 percent under last year’s values.”A potent mix of strong job gains, household formation, population growth and still-attractive mortgage rates in the face of tight inventories are fueling a continuing surge in home prices across the U.S.,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Price gains were broad-based with 90 percent of metropolitan areas posting year-over-year gains.”Outside of Seattle, the largest gains were seen in the Denver metro area, where prices climbed 10 percent over the year. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Chicago all showed home price increases of 6.4 percent compared to last March.The once scalding hot Houston metro showed much quieter gains over the year. The city’s home prices increased 3.2 percent from a year ago. The smallest major metro increase occurred in the New York/Northern New Jersey region, where annual values climbed 2.3 percent. Share in Daily Dose, Data, News
Magellan Travel GroupSerko Magellan Travel Group has signed a preferred partnership agreement with corporate travel technology provider, Serko.The agreement underlines another component within the Group’s suite of member tools and services, which not only support and propel individual member growth, they also underpin the strategic growth plans of the broader Group.“We continue to act in the best interests of our members and negotiating industry competitive agreements to support their business growth ambitions remains a key focus,” said Magellan chief executive Andrew Macfarlane.Darrin Grafton, Serko chief executive officer, said “We are really pleased to have signed this agreement with the Magellan Group and we expect it to be a successful and enduring partnership. We see good potential in the Magellan Travel Group and we look forward to growing both businesses over the next few years.”
Categories: Iden News 16Jun Governor’s Talent Investment Board holds first meeting for new term Rep. Iden excited to work with board on important talent initiatives The first meeting of the Governor’s Talent Investment Board for the 2015-16 term took place this week.State Rep. Brandt Iden, who was appointed to serve on the board by House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, said the meeting was a good opening discussion on talent issues facing our state.“I’m excited to work with this fantastic group of individuals on talent enhancement efforts in Michigan,” said Rep. Iden, R-Oshtemo. “We have a chance on this board to develop positive ideas and solutions to help our state continue its economic growth and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in this on-going discussion.”The board is made up of representatives from business, labor unions, elected officials, state department directors and individuals from different types of community groups.###
01Feb Rep. Sheppard supports bipartisan transparency legislation Bills allow people to hold governor’s office, Legislature accountableState Rep. Jason Sheppard today applauded the introduction of an 11-bill bipartisan package to give the public more access to records in the governor’s office and Legislature.Sheppard, of Temperance, joined his colleagues in the House to unveil the plan today during a news conference at the Capitol. The reform plan makes the governor and lieutenant governor subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and creates a set of similar rules for state representatives and senators called the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA).“This is good legislation that makes more information from the Legislature and governor’s office available to the public, and increased transparency is something I’ve always supported,” Sheppard said.The legislation will be formally introduced in the House on Thursday.### Categories: Sheppard News
Categories: Howell News,News All districts share in record amount of state aid 31Aug Rep. Howell: Lapeer schools on high end of state funding ##### School districts across Michigan will soon open their doors for a new year following the summer break, and they will be in line for a record amount of state school aid.State Rep. Gary Howell said all K-12 schools in Lapeer County will receive an additional $120 per student in state funding in the coming fiscal year, which is twice the base amount of $60 per pupil. That added amount is being allocated to bridge a funding gap between rural schools and wealthier, urban districts.“Schools in more rural areas have been underfunded for years, and the Legislature has recently begun sending more state money to those districts to make up for earlier shortages,” said Howell, of North Branch. “It’s important that we invest in a good education for all children in the state so they have a promising future, be it going to college or directly entering the workforce after graduation.”Howell said funding is also increased in the 2017-18 budget for studemts who might not choose to pursue a four-year college degree.“Some high-school graduates want to learn skilled trades and enter the workforce with abilities that are in high demand right now,” Howell said. “With the proper training, these young people can make good wages, and there are many in-demand jobs available for skilled workers with the right qualifications.”Howell was involved in budget discussions this spring and voted for the funding increases.The schools in the communities Rep. Howell serves are estimated to receive the following school budget increases:Almont Community Schools, $271,043;Chatfield School, $85,277;Dryden Community Schools, $107,664;Imlay City Community Schools, $531,291;Lapeer Community Schools, $1,152,319;North Branch Area Schools, $510,153.
Categories: Schroeder News 21Feb Rep. Schroeder devoted to shedding light on car insurance fraud Fraud committed by insurers and individuals within the state’s no-fault car insurance system would be exposed under a new plan introduced this week by state Rep. Andrea Schroeder.Schroeder’s legislation calls for establishing a fraud authority to investigate unfair claims and settlement practices to help shed light on insurance providers and drivers committing fraudulent practices. Schroeder said her plan should be considered as part of a broader solution to end Michigan’s tenure as the state with the highest car insurance premiums in the nation.“Car insurance reform is a top priority shared by drivers back home and the 100th Michigan Legislature,” said Schroeder, of Independence Township. “It’s imperative we make important strides toward tackling fraud within our state’s no-fault car insurance system as part of those reforms. Rampant fraud is a large factor responsible for driving up costs for innocent parties, and exposing it within our current car insurance setup will help alleviate some of the burdensome rates motorists face.”The authority would develop an annual report for the Legislature that details unfair claim practices of Michigan insurance companies. It would also assess the impact of fraud and unfair claims, summarize prevention programs and outline allocations. The authority would be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.House Bill 4202 now moves to the House Insurance Committee for further consideration. Legislator’s plan creates a no-fault fraud authority
Share20TweetShareEmail20 SharesBlack Lives Matter Protest / Nicholas UptonDecember 23, 2015; WSFA-TV (Minneapolis, MN)The death of Jamar Clark in a shooting by Minneapolis police has sparked a number of demonstrations in Minnesota, including one occupation outside of the police station during which five demonstrators were shot. (The suspects in that shooting are now in custody.) But the Black Lives Matter activists are not easily deterred from their work, organizing a protest at the Mall of America for December 23rd. This MOA protest would have been the second in two years, based on the idea that interfering with the flow of money always gets the public’s attention.The Mall tried to block the action through getting a restraining order against the group, one of the provisions of which would be to forbid group members from organizing others on social media. (Frankly, we can’t think of any action more likely to create a backlash among young activists.) Not only did the court turn that part of the suit down, only restraining three members of the group from themselves attending the rally, but the activists themselves showed up as promised.Around 500 people showed up in the mall, but they did not stay long after running into an advancing blockade of police officers, a reaction which they would have anticipated, given that plans to bring in a contingent of state troopers was made clear well in advance of the action. They removed themselves and quickly moved by light rail to Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, where they blocked access to one of its two terminals for around two hours, and then to the streets, where they blocked traffic around the airport.Organizers now say the Mall action was a decoy, masking the intention to do the airport protest. They also revealed that it was one action in a six-city coordinated plan. Other protests occurred in L.A., San Francisco, D.C., Chattanooga, and Chicago. —Ruth McCambridgeShare20TweetShareEmail20 Shares
Share29TweetShareEmail29 SharesApril 20, 2016; NewYorkUpstate.comIn celebration of Earth Week, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced that $1.8 million in grant funding would be distributed across 55 nonprofit land trusts during the upcoming fiscal year. This historic level of funding will help to support programs that protect farmland and other natural resources as well supporting urban initiatives such as community gardens. In addition, grants were given to organizations that have committed to the Land Trust Alliance’s goal of having 40 nationally accredited land trusts in New York by the year 2020.This $1.8 million in grant funding from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund will continue to have a positive economic impact on the state of New York, as it will allow organizations to leverage an estimated additional $2.25 million from other funding sources. Leveraging one source of funding to secure others is a common and often successful strategy in many nonprofits. Talking to other potential funders with support already in hand shows there is confidence in a program or service, and also increases the number of stakeholders around a given cause.State senators praised the investments as a “win” for each community in which the organizations are based. These grants have a positive impact on the local economy as well as on the environment. It is estimated that each dollar invested through the various grants generates $7 in tourism and improved public health. Jobs are created or sustained to deliver the outcomes of the grant. This is in addition to other economic benefits of increased property values and supporting local businesses.The grants awarded ranged from $80,000 to $2,750. By region, the Finger Lakes area received the largest percentage of the funding, with awards totaling $310,500. Projects supported through the initiative include:$80,000 Professional Development Grant for the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy.$30,000 Capacity Grant for the Finger Lakes Land Trust.$30,000 Capacity Grant for Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo.—Kelley MalcolmShare29TweetShareEmail29 Shares
Share7TweetShare5Email12 SharesMay 5, 2017; New York TimesAdvocates of school choice see the struggle to ensure that all children receive a high quality education that prepares them to be a successful adult as the natural outcome of a stagnant, bureaucratized system of public education. Allowing parents to choose the school they feel is best for their children unlocks market forces that will naturally push schools to improve. The theory is simple, but making it work in the real world has been very hard and the results have not been all positive.In 2003, New York City Public Schools changed its approach to assigning their students to high schools. All 8th graders apply to as many as 12 of the city’s 439 high schools, which offer almost 800 distinct programs, and are assigned algorithmically to a school via a system similar to one that assigns medical school graduates to hospitals for their residencies. According to the New York Times, the theory is that this approach “unshackles students” from “failing, segregated neighborhood schools.…This process was part of a package of Bloomberg-era reforms intended to improve education in the city and diminish entrenched inequities.” In practice, though, the Times has found that while graduation rates have improved and the divide between black and white students has narrowed, the district is still far away from having every student attend a high performing school. And, despite a fully choice-based system, high schools remain almost as racially segregated as elementary and middle schools.The educational market New York has created for high school students is large but imperfect. “Buying” the right school can be daunting, and the sheer complexity of doing so limits the impact of choice. Not all 13-year-olds are able to manage the effort needed to engage in the process, and not all parents have the time, money, and skill to guide and coach their children toward the right school. As a result, too many children end up in poor schools or a school that does not match their unique needs. Often, this unequal outcome reflects the same racial and economic biases that school choice is meant to overcome.The sheer size of New York City and its system is problematic in a city that’s residentially segregated. Many of the better-performing schools are closer to more affluent neighborhoods, adding a major time and travel hurdle to the equation. Even with New York’s extensive bus and subway systems, getting to a “better” school may require travel times of an hour or more, which may not fit in a family’s schedule. For working parents who wish to be a part of their children’s school experience, these distances can be dealbreakers as well.The inequality of the feeder system that prepares students for high school takes too great a toll for high school choice to overcome. The impact of poverty on school performance makes its mark well before the algorithm makes its assignment.Students in competitive middle schools and gifted programs carry advantages into the application season, with better academic preparation and stronger test scores. Living in certain areas still comes with access to sought-after schools. And children across the city compete directly against one another regardless of their circumstances, without controls for factors like socioeconomic status. Ultimately, there just are not enough good schools to go around. And so it is a system in which some children win and others lose because of factors beyond their control—like where they live and how much money their families have.For those who are assigned to a high performing school, the future is bright, but for those not that fortunate, choice offers no answers. The Times asked Measure of America to review outcome data. According to Kristen Lewis, a Measure of America director, the “data revealed, in essence, two separate public school systems operating in the city.”There are some great options for the families best equipped to navigate the application process. But there are not enough good choices for everyone, so every year thousands of children, including some very good students, end up in mediocre high schools, or worse. The average kid has to be able to get a good education, because most people are average. It’s great that the high-fliers are succeeding, and they deserve the chance to succeed. But so do the average kids.”The experience in New York illustrates the complexity and limitations of choice. Offering a diverse set of school options does allow a more tailored educational experience. But when not all choices are equal and some are still poor, overcoming the built-in bias of our society remains problematic. Josh Wallack, a deputy chancellor for strategy and policy in the NYC Education Department, summed this up for the Times: “Choice is a really important part of our system, but it’s not enough just to have choices. You have to have good systems and personal help in figuring out what the best fit is for you. We know different families need different kinds of help, and that is what we aim to provide.” And you need to not ignore race and poverty in developing a more holistic approach to educational improvement.—Martin LevineShare7TweetShare5Email12 Shares
Nicolas Bonard has been named general manager, Discovery Networks France.The appointment will see Bonard combine his role as head of the international factual channel operator in France with his role of head of Discovery Enterprises, International, the company’s global programme distribution arm.This comes as Discovery Networks has also promoted Yitz Shmulewitz to the role of chief operating officer and chief financial officer, Discovery Networks Western Europe. Shmulewitz was previously chief financial officer. Both Shmulewitz and Bonard will report to Dee Forbes, president and managing director, Discovery Networks Western Europe.Separately, Alexander Nielsen has been names as country manager for Norway. Nielsen, who previously research director for the Nordic region, will report to Jan Andreassen, general manager, Discovery Networks Nordic.Dee Forbes, president and managing director, Discovery Networks Western Europe, said: “These promotions reflect the ambitious growth plans that the Western Europe business is embarking on. Over the last two years Discovery’s Western Europe business has seen considerable growth with the launch of three free to air channels in Italy and Spain and the roll-out of DNI’s flagship female lifestyle brand TLC in a number of markets including Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Discovery also boosted its French business earlier this year when it took a 20% stake in Televista, a pay TV female lifestyle company.”
The UK’s commercial broadcasters expect a sharp decline in TV ad revenues throughout the London Summer Olympics as the BBC dominates the ratings battle.The Financial Times reports that media buyers and airtime executives expect the UK public broadcaster, which has Olympics rights, to garner big audience figures for its coverage of the games and are braced for year-on-year ad revenue declines of 8-10%. Earlier forecasts had suggested a 5% rise in ad revenues.
Second-screen specialist HyperTV has teamed up with watermarking specialist Civolution to deliver real-time social gaming for TV broadcasters.Italian pay TV operator Sky Italia is using the joint platform to deliver a social gaming experience running alongside the X Factor 2012 talent show.Synchronisation between screens is based on Civolution’s SyncNow watermarking-based system.“We’re excited to now offer broadcasters the tools to engage audiences simultaneously across multiple screens and devices with an unique gamification proposition with high and relevant social media involvement,” said Claudio Vaccarella, Founder and CEO of HyperTV. “HyperTV’s eXperience is the first second screen white label platform to provide a built-in social gaming engine. Designed with TV authors and creatives in mind, HyperTV eXperience allows programmers to easily define game mechanics to build engaging user experiences without writing any software code.’’
KPN now claims to be the second largest Dutch TV distributor with a 24% market share.The telco reported 116,000 IPTV additions during the quarter to the end of March, up from 79,000 additions for the quarter last year, taking its IPTV total base to 1.128 million.KPN now has an overall TV base of 1.8 million, including its Digitenne digital terrestrial offering. The operator’s Digitenne and analogue TV base declined to 717,000 at the end of March, down from 754,000 at the end of December.
Intel’s chief technology officer and director of Intel Labs, Justin Rattner, is stepping down from his current role. Intel said that the move was required by Intel’s corporate bylaws, which say that Intel employees may not serve as corporate officers past the age of 65.Rattner, who joined the company in 1973, is due to take personal leave immediately to deal with “a pressing family matter,” but will return at a later date to take up an as-yet unspecified job, Intel said.The news comes as Intel’s new CEO Brian Krzanich said that he is “cautious” about moving ahead with Intel’s much anticipated push into the TV space, in his first briefing with reporters.“We believe we have a great user interface and the compression-decompression technology is fantastic, but in the end, if we want to provide that service it comes down to content. We are not big content players,” Krzanich is reported to have said.
Polish IPTV service provider Netia said it is gearing up to launch commercial cable TV services from early 2014, after it recently bought network capacity from UPC Polska.In its first half results, Netia said that it has started connecting the cable network to its backbone network, defining what the yet-to-launch service offering will be and has begun buying necessary network equipment and set-top boxes.“Together with the newly acquired cable TV networks in Warsaw and Krakow, Netia will soon have 2.9m homes passed by its own local access networks and we are confident that our increasingly competitive TV offerings can underpin a gradual increase in penetration rates for high margin bundled services in the medium term,” said Netia president and CEO Mirosław Godlewski.Netia signed a deal with UPC Polska in April to buy a part of the former Aster cable operator’s network, taking capacity in Warsaw and Krakow. The PLN5.8 million (€1.4 million) deal was finalised in May following approval by the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection with the acquired network reaching 446,000 households.Netia said that as of June 30, its existing TV services reached 100,879, up 42% year-on-year and 11% compared to the previous quarter.During Q2, the firm said it also continued to expand its NGA standard network, which delivers high speed broadband and triple play services including IPTV and streaming TV services. As of June 30, 2013, Netia covered in total 1.172 million households with its NGA network.“We are committed to developing B2B services, where we generate over two-thirds of our cash flows, defending margins on defocused off-network voice and broadband while growing TV and broadband services delivered over Netia’s own local access networks, which we continue to upgrade to NGA quality,” said Netia CFO Jon Eastick.Since 2011 Netia has been offering its customers TV services. The offering includes a proprietary set-top box – the ‘Netia Player’, which provides access to paid digital TV services provided over IP based protocols in multicast IPTV and unicast streaming, access to internet services or personal multimedia over the TV screen as well as VOD content libraries such as Ipla, Kinoplex and HBO GO.Netia’s revenue for the first six months of this year was PLN968.2m, down by 10% compared to the same period in 2012. Net profit was PLN 21.7m for H1 2013 versus net profit of PLN 11.2m for H1 2012.
Latvian telco Lattelecom has added four news and information channels to its programming line-up. The telco has added BBC World, CNN International and Russia’s TV Dozhd to its line-up of news channels, and has also started to carry infotainment channel RTVi International.The latest additions follow the addition of Ukrainian channel Inter+ in November is trial mode. Other international news channels on the platform include Euronews, available in six languages, Bloomberg and Al Jazeera International.BBC World and CNN International will be available in English.
Arts Council England has unveiled plans for a new online multichannel network (MCN) for the arts and has offered a £1.8 million (€2.3 million) grant to online video specialist Rightster to set up and manage the new network. By providing seedcorn investment to support a new network for the arts, the Arts Council hopes to extend the reach of publically funded arts and culture.Over the coming months, Rightster will work with the arts and culture sector to develop the MCN proposition, with a view to launching the new channel in spring/summer 2015.“There is some great arts content online, but it is hard to find and fragmented. We hope that the award to Rightster will support the arts sector to find and develop new audiences and build their profile in this expanding digital space,” said Simon Mellor, the Arts Council’s executive director for arts and culture.“We believe the new MCN will be particularly effective in supporting the profile of smaller organisations and artists across England that are producing great content but don’t have well-known brands and therefore find it harder to build audiences for their content.”
Telefónica has completed its acquisition of a stake in Mediaset’s Italian pay TV arm, Mediaset Premium, and has named Luis Velo Puig-Durán as its board representative.The closure of the deal follows an agreement between the pair in July that saw Telefónica also agree to acquire Mediaset’s stake in Spanish pay TV operator Digital+.While closure of the Mediaset Premium deal had initially been expected at the end of last year, the appointment of Velo Puig-Durán, Telefónica’s global head of content, to the Premium board has been seen as a sign of Telefónica’s commitment to the Italian market.Telefónica is acquiring an 11.1% stake in Mediaset Premium for €100 million, valuing the Italian pay TV unit at €900 million.According to documentation seen by the Reuters news agency, Mediaset has retained the right of first refusal to the class B shares obtained by Telefónica. If Mediaset were to sell all or part of its holding in the pay TV unit, it could also potentially oblige Telefónica to sell its stake, a condition that will expire as of July 12 this year. Telefónica has similar rights.Mediaset is believed to be keen to open Premium up to other investment partners such as Vivendi or Al Jazeera. However some observers believe that the relatively high valuation on the unit set by the Telefónica purchase could act as a disincentive to potential investors.Mediaset Premium currently has about 1.7 million subscribers and reportedly hopes to attract about 700,000 additional customers from rival Sky through an offering that includes the next three Champions League football tournaments and rights to Serie A Italian football.
Altice boss Patrick Drahi has said he was “not ready” to make a bid for Time Warner Cable as part of his international expansion plans after a two-hour discussion with Time Warner Cable CEO Bob Marcus.Speaking at a French national assembly hearing yesterday, Drahi said such a large acquisition was a step too far for Altice at this stage. However, he said there would be further opportunities to expand in the US cable market following its acquisition of number seven player Suddenlink.Drahi indicated that a number of smaller acquisitions in the US market could serve Altice better. He said that acquiring five smaller operators could deliver an operation that was the equal of Time Warner Cable.Addressing concerns about the level of debt amassed by Altice-owned Numericable-SFR, Drahi told French parliamentarians that the level of debt was on a par with its competitors. He said that accumulating debt was not a problem for companies in a growth phase, and that it was companies in decline that focused on reducing their debt.Addressing reports of low morale among Numericable-SFR employees and discontent among suppliers, Drahi said that any problems were the result of a lack of cost control when the company was owned by Vivendi. He said that the company had no interest in its suppliers losing money.