Blockchain technology has gone through a considerable evolution since it was first founded in 2008 by anonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto. While much skepticism remains around this still nascent technology, it has validated itself as an effective means for conducting transactions for businesses, individuals, and even governments. Over the past year, in particular, various companies, whether private or public, have been incorporating blockchain in one way or another.While there have been a number of regulations set in place worldwide that can turn off crypto investors, there are also a number of smaller economies that are adopting cryptocurrency and blockchain technology for various industries. Five countries, in particular, stand out in the cryptocurrency and blockchain communities.GEORGIAAlthough a small country with a total population of four million (less than half of the state of Georgia in the United States), the Eurasian nation of Georgia was ranked second in cryptocurrency mining volume by a 2017 Global Cryptocurrency Benchmark study from the University of Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance. The country is located just north of the eastern side of Turkey. Georgia’s minimal regulations over cryptocurrency, as well as its affordable electricity with hydropower, have set the country up for success with the cryptomirror world.A large portion of the cryptocurrency mining in Georgia comes from Bitfury, a US-based tech company that has a data centre near the country’s capital Tbilisi. However, Georgia is becoming more and more accepting of cryptocurrency. Surveys suggest that as many as 5% of Georgian households participate in cryptocurrency mining or investments. According to Hans Timmer, World Bank Chief Economist for Europe and Central Asia, “Georgia is at the forefront in mining of cryptocurrencies,” whereas many countries in Europe and Central Asia are merely experimenting with blockchain technologies. “Georgia’s prevalent use of cryptocurrencies is driven largely by tax exemptions and low electricity prices. Going forward, therefore, it will be important for the government to ensure financial oversight, protection of consumers, and tax administration.”With the help of mining, Georgia has evolved from a net exporter to a net importer of electricity. The share of Georgia’s electricity demand devoted to cryptocurrency mining is estimated to range from 10 to 15%. In 2016, per capita, electricity consumption in Georgia was higher by nearly three times than in countries with similar levels of per capita income. As Timmer further explained, “Blockchain technologies are putting competitive pressure on private financial sectors, while also triggering creative ideas and approaches within governments… At the same time, they have introduced a range of policy challenges for countries.”Challenges do remain, however, such as ensuring financial oversight and combating money laundering, tax evasion, and illicit transactions. Governments will also need to face the high amount of electricity used in cryptocurrency mining. The amount of support that governments can offer to blockchain startups is another question that remains to be answered.THAILANDAlthough China ranked first place in cryptocurrency mining, according to the Cambridge University study, Thailand is also a strong player with a growing blockchain sector. An interesting development in 2017 was that Thailand’s postal service, Thailand Post, said it plans to use blockchain technology for its services, such as tracking packages that carry high-value luxury items. This is useful in that it would ensure no one would be able to open these sensitive packages other than the people who are authorised to do so, exemplifying how blockchain technologies can ensure safety and security.Thailand has embraced blockchain technologies in other ways as well. In January 2017, Thailand’s Electronic Transactions Development Agency amended its Electronic Transaction Act 2001 to include the support and use of smart contracts that are powered by blockchain. Moving forward, blockchains and distributed ledger technologies are expected to replace central institutions at-large.MALTAThe majority of legal trading of cryptocurrency occurs in Malta. In fact, the Binance cryptocurrency exchange set an interesting precedent this past March when it announced that it plans to move its headquarters to Malta from Hong Kong, where regulations on virtual currencies are more restrictive. A tweet from the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, welcoming this news, demonstrates the country’s acceptance of the digital currency.A proponent of the evolving capabilities of blockchain technology, Malta has also proposed the creation of the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA), which would “help to promote several policies and objectives including “[fostering], [promoting] and [facilitating] the advancement and utilisation of digital ledger technology and its design and uses,” as well as “[promoting] education on ethical standards and legitimate exploitation, use and creation of technology in particular digital ledger technology.”LIECHTENSTEINLiechtenstein, a small country situated between Switzerland and Austria, has played an important role in supporting the creation of cryptocurrency businesses. In fact, the number of registered businesses has been reported to surpass the number of citizens. This could be partially due to the fact that a company can be started in Liechtenstein without a bank account, and it can be done so with Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH), rather than fiats. For example, the Aeternity blockchain was founded with 50,000 Swiss francs, which approximates to $50,994.40 USD, of ETH.Another notable feature of Liechtenstein is that it is part of the European Economic Area (EEA) without being a member of the European Union (EU). This gives access to trades across Europe for business in cryptocurrency and blockchain, all while dodging the more restrictive regulations that are overseen by the EU. Monthly blockchain meetups in the capital city of Vaduz help make Liechtenstein a hub for blockchain technology.CYPRUSCyprus plays a key role in the evolution of blockchain and, likewise, blockchain technology is shaping the island as well. The island is strategically located and has been a financial hub for Europe for a long time. Although the 2013 debt crisis hurt its reputation as a destination for the financial sector, it also led to openness and better acceptance of new technologies, such as blockchain and cryptocurrency.After the volatility of the debt crisis, people began to look for alternative ways to store their funds, making the time ripe for embracing digital currencies. Since then, the Cyprus economy has stabilised and the government has developed a positive sentiment toward digital currencies. Moreover, Cyprus is home to the University of Nicosia, a school that was one of the first to offer programs in cryptocurrencies and blockchain and even accepts payment in both digital and fiat currencies. Seminars and lectures on subjects related to blockchain are hosted regularly by the Cyprus International Institute of Management.Additionally, some of the key events regarding cryptocurrency and blockchain will be held in Cyprus. Now, with its decentralised economy, Cyprus is a mecca for blockchain startups.FINAL THOUGHTSThe high volatility that has accompanied cryptocurrency and its values have been a primary cause of skepticism about the long-term viability of this field. Nonetheless, blockchain technology is being more widely adopted across the globe. Various governments are embracing and experimenting with blockchains in the interest of making public services more transparent, secure, and efficient. The global utilisation of blockchain and digital assets is another significant step toward mass adoption of these technologies by the mainstream.You May LikeTown and Country | HanacureSee Why Celebrities Love This Face MaskTown and Country | HanacureUndoMyFinanceTwo Accounts Your Bank Doesn’t Want You to Know AboutMyFinanceUndoYahoo SearchThese SUVs Are The Cream Of The Crop. 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AN ANGIOGRAPHY machine worth €550,000 has been donated to the Nicosia General Hospital by betting firm OPAP.According to Health Minister Philippos Patsalis, who was at the hospital to officially receive the machine, said it will drastically decrease risks to patients’ health and minimise future health complications.Angiography or arteriography is a medical imaging technique used to visualise the inside of blood vessels and organs of the body, with particular focus in the arteries, veins and the heart chambers.Patsalis thanked OPAP for their generosity.You May LikeDr. Marty ProPower Plus Supplement3 Dangerous Foods People Feed Their Dogs (Without Realizing It)Dr. Marty ProPower Plus SupplementUndoUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementAdd This One Thing To Your Dog’s Food To Help Them Be HealthierUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementUndoAngels And EntrepreneursRobert Herjavec Announce Venture Could Make You RichAngels And EntrepreneursUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoIsraeli rape suspects freed, woman who alleged assault arrested (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
The revamped ambulance coordination centre in Nicosia has expanded its services to cover the Famagusta district as of Sunday, it was announced.“The purpose of the centre is to better coordinate actions and thus maximise the efficient utilisation of human resources in order to reduce the transit time of the ambulance to traffic incidents or other serious incidents as a prerequisite for saving lives,” an official statement said.The ultimate aim is to expand the services of the centre to all districts, it added.Under a cabinet decision taken in August, the coordinating centre now operates from specially designed premises in Nicosia with up-to-date technology specifically for ambulance coordination.All calls to emergency numbers 199 or 112 relating to medical emergencies are forwarded to the centre, the staff of which have received specialist training in emergency management and telephone screening of cases on the basis of international protocols.The ambulance service says dispatchers have been UK trained to provide assistance to callers, to be able to decide whether to direct them to the nearest emergency departments or send an ambulance. They know what to ask callers and which ambulance is closer, which translates to significantly reduced response time.In August the cabinet approved a plan for the reorganisation and modernisation of the ambulance service that included four new station, one each at Klirou in Nicosia, the old Limassol hospital, Peyia in Paphos and Oroklini in Larnaca. Manpower was to be strengthened at Polis Chrysochous and 24 more paramedics plus more nurses were to be hired to help meet new and existing needs islandwide.The ambulance service says Cyprus is currently in line with international standards as regards response times, which is ten minutes in urban areas and 20 for rural areas.The goal is to reduce response time to less than this – seven to eight minutes in the cities and under 20 in rural areas.You May LikeLuxury Crossover SUV I Search AdsThese SUVs Are The Cream Of The Crop. Search For 2019 Luxury Crossover SUV DealsLuxury Crossover SUV I Search AdsUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementAdd This One Thing To Your Dog’s Food To Help Them Be HealthierUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoPensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
Some borrowers could interpret Estia handout as a reason to stop paying loansBy George PsyllidesDespite tightening the eligibility criteria of a subsidy scheme for non-performing loans backed by primary residences, there are still concerns about moral hazard and fairness in the Estia scheme, according to a post bailout programme surveillance report published on Friday.The report on the findings of the fifth post-programme surveillance mission of the European Commission and the European Central Bank, in general said it was essential for Cyprus to maintain budgetary surpluses so as to ensure a steady decline of its sizable public debt.The Commission and the ECB warned that despite the amendments to the eligibility criteria of Estia, a subsidy scheme for NPLs backed with primary residence, “there are still concerns about moral hazard and fairness, in particular concerning potential strategic defaulters.“The proposed Estia scheme raised a number of concerns. First, it rewards borrowers for non-payment in the past. Second, some borrowers with sufficient wealth to cover their past-due loans might be eligible. Third, the scheme did not distinguish between households with different incomes. Fourth, a similar temporary scheme was introduced in 2016, undermining the credibility of the claim that the current scheme is one-off,” the report said.“Putting these together, there is a concern that certain borrowers may interpret the introduction of such a generous scheme as a reason to stop paying, or continue not paying (i.e. moral hazard).”To further mitigate such concerns, it was crucial that the foreclosure procedure was promptly initiated upon re-default under the scheme and towards the remaining defaulted borrowers outside the scheme, the report said.On the other hand, it added that the introduction of such a scheme was seen by both the authorities and the banks as instrumental to increasing banks access to the borrowers’ information, as the applicants will have to disclose their wealth and income position, and allow banks to enforce their payment claims by making use of the foreclosure procedure and by overcoming stigma issues, and also ultimately helping Cypriot banks with NPLs resolution.According to the general findings of the report, public finances have performed remarkably so far in 2018, but the adverse fiscal impact of the sale of the Cyprus Cooperative Bank (CCB) is not yet fully established.The Commission autumn forecast projects an increase of the general government surplus to 2.8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018, excluding any potential deficit-increasing impact from the banking support measures related to the CCB sale.The strong fiscal position reflects the better-than-expected collection of revenue and the prudent expenditure management in the first eight months of 2018.“However, the public support measures for the sale and orderly winding down of CCB have resulted in a projected increase in the country’s public debt to 105 per cent of GDP in 2018, and the government’s exposure to explicit contingent liabilities (namely asset protection schemes) has increased,” the report said.“It is essential to safeguard budgetary surpluses to ensure a steady decline in the very high level of public debt. Although public debt is expected to resume its declining path as of next year, it would remain one of the highest in the euro area.”Continuation of prudent expenditure management remains essential, the report said, particularly in view of the cyclical nature of tax revenues and the uncertainties surrounding the potential fiscal impact of the healthcare reform.The sale of the publicly-owned CCB, formerly the second largest bank in the country and burdened by very high NPLs to Hellenic Bank was a major step in stabilising and consolidating the banking sector, the report said.The CCB sale has put the banking sector on a sounder footing and was an important driver behind the return of Cyprus’ sovereign credit rating to investment grade for the first time since 2012.With the sale, around one-third of NPLs, or €5.7bn were removed from the banking sector and transferred to the publicly-owned residual entity of the CCB.The sector however, continued to face considerable challenges with an NPL ration at around 31 per cent of total loans, still one of the highest in the EU.The NPLs from the residual entity will continue to weigh on the economy, even though they are out of the banking system, as the private sector remains heavily indebted.“Therefore, it is essential to adopt an appropriate governance framework and management structure for the CCB residual entity in order to maximise recoveries and the recuperation of public funds.”You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLuxury Crossover SUV I Search AdsThese SUVs Are The Cream Of The Crop. 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Police in Famagusta and Limassol were on Tuesday investigating four separate arson cases involving six cars, which were badly damaged.At Paralimini, police were looking into an arson attack involving three vehicles parked outside a house.Police said the call came in at 1.30am with firefighters finding three cars in flames at the scene.Preliminary examination of the scene determined that the blaze had been set deliberately. The cars belong to three different people leading investigators to believe that maybe one of them was the target but the flames spread to the other two vehicles.At about the same time in Limassol, the fire service scrambled to put out a fire in a car belonging to a 53-year-old woman from Kato Polemidia.The vehicle, which was parked outside her home, was badly damaged by the fire. The owner said she did not know who may be behind the arson.At 4.30am, firefighters had to respond to two separate incidents involving car fires. The first car was one that was reported stolen by its owner and was found burning in an open parking lot on the corner of Nicos and Despina Pattihis and Spyros Kyprianou Streets.The second vehicle belonged to a 48-year-old and was apparently set alight while parked in the Yermasoyia area. You May LikeLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoYahoo SearchYou’ve Never Seen Luxury Like This On A Cruise Ship. Search Luxury Mediterranean CruisesYahoo SearchUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
In the Nicosia criminal court, the defence on Tuesday sought to undermine the case brought by the state against former Central Bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou, the key figure in an ongoing corruption trial.Taking the stand were two police officers who investigated the case, which centres on the allegation that Christodoulou was bribed to the tune of €1m to look the other way while Greek financier Andreas Vgenopoulos – now deceased – took control of Laiki Bank in 2006.Laiki was shuttered in 2013.The €1m in question was paid by Focus Maritime Corp, owned by Greek businessman Michalis Zolotas, an associate of Vgenopoulos, into the account of a consulting firm technically owned by Christodoulou’s daughter.Christodoulou’s daughter, her firm AC Christodoulou Consultants Ltd and Zolotas are also defendants in the case.On Tuesday, during cross-examination defence attorney Efstathios Efstathiou grilled sergeant Philippos Violantis, a witness for the prosecution.The witness had taken part in the police investigations.Efstathiou pointed out that Christodoulou has already been found guilty and sentenced for the €1m for not declaring this income to tax authorities.For tax evasion, the former Central Bank governor had been sentenced to five months in jail, while his daughter’s consultancy had been fined €13,500.Responding, Violantis said the attorney-general had deemed it appropriate to prosecute two separate cases – one for tax evasion and one (the current one) for corruption.Efstathiou then asked the sergeant whether he thought this was “fair.” The prosecution objected, saying the witness was there to present the facts of the case, not to opine on the attorney-general’s decisions.The objection was sustained.Pressing on, the defence lawyer zeroed in on the charge sheet, which states the offences were committed between February 2006 and September 21, 2009.The charge sheet, he added, does not specify the precise date on which the €1m was transferred to the consultancy firm.This, Efstathiou argued, was done deliberately by the prosecution, in order to convey the impression that the alleged bribery was committed during the time that Christodoulou was governor of the Central Bank.But in reality, he added, the money was transferred on July 27, 2007, when Christodoulou had already quit the Central Bank. Christodoulou retired on April 30 of the same year, going on to join his daughter’s consultancy firm, to which he provided various services.There was another reason the timeframe on the charge sheet was so broad, Efstathiou posited. It had to do with the extradition of Michalis Fole, another defendant, to Cypriot authorities.Fole, a former Laiki official, was handed over by Romanian authorities in late 2016.Under Romanian law, the statute of limitations for this type of offence is eight years. Therefore, said Efstathiou, since the alleged offence occurred in 2007, the statute of limitations would have taken effect in 2015, at which time Fole would not be subject to extradition.However, by broadening the charge sheet to cover the period until September 2009, the prosecution was able to circumvent that statute of limitations and seek Fole’s extradition.Responding to the defence attorney, the witness said he had no part in compiling the indictments.Taking the stand next was CID sergeant Nicos Tomas, a member of the police unit tasked with probing the 2013 financial meltdown.Tomas testified that he took depositions from a number of individuals, including former Laiki employees and journalists covering financial news.He also received documents and digital material relating to interviews given by Vgenopoulos.The trial continues. The prosecution is expected to summon several journalists as witnesses.The defendants face a total of 24 charges including corruption, bribery, abuse of authority, abuse of trust, and money laundering.You May LikePlarium I Vikings: Free Online GamePlay this for 1 minute and see why everyone is addictedPlarium I Vikings: Free Online GameUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoYahoo SearchYou’ve Never Seen Luxury Like This On A Cruise Ship. Search Luxury Mediterranean CruisesYahoo SearchUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
The ‘green tax’ levied on electricity consumption will almost triple next year, in order to pay for a €13 million shortfall in the renewable energy source (RES) fund, House commerce committee chairman Angelos Votsis said on Tuesday.The RES fund, funded by a green tax of 0.5 cents per kilowatt hour on every electricity bill in Cyprus, is used to compensate investors in energy-production from wind, solar and biomass, per the terms of contracts signed with the government, and has shown substantial deficits in recent years due to stifled electricity consumption and the dramatic fall in oil prices.Among various proposals tabled, the most popular one is an increase in the green tax to 0.9 or 1 cent per kilowatt hour consumed.The state’s contribution to the fund, in the form of funneling revenues from gas-emission auctions, will run in the millions.“There was also discussion on whether RES producers should also pitch in, and various issues have come up,” Votsis said.According to the committee chairman, a consumer that paid €300 per month prior to the fall of oil prices, now pays €200, and some €8 will be added on to the bill to now become €208.As of 2019 the plan is to link the green tax to the cost of oil, so that the fund does not return in the red.You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoModernizeIf Your Home Has Old Roofing, Read ThisModernizeUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCypriot tycoon launches ‘Bank of Cannabis’UndoThree arrested in connection with hotel theftsUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
13Aug Rep. Webber asks attorney general to formally investigate gas price spike State Rep. Michael Webber is joining state Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, in calling on Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to spearhead an investigation in regards to the gas price jump occurring in the Midwest United States.“This dramatic increase in price deserves a full investigation by a trusted Michigan official,” said Rep. Webber, R-Rochester Hills, who serves as a member of the House Committee on Energy Policy.An oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana – which is owned by British Petroleum (BP) – has reported a mechanical breakdown. As a result, gas prices in Michigan have jumped by an immense amount.The breakdown is expected to result in an approximately 80-cents-per-gallon spike in gasoline prices in coming weeks. There is currently no estimated time that prices will return to normal.“In Michigan’s improving economic climate, the necessity of this price spike must be questioned,” Rep. Webber said. “A thorough investigation conducted by Attorney General Schuette would accurately look into this matter and provide answers that Michiganders rightfully deserve.”The Michigan Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division can be reached toll-free at 877-765-8388.### Categories: Webber News
Categories: Kahle News 31Aug Rep. Kahle invites residents to in-district office hours State Rep. Bronna Kahle invites Lenawee County residents to join her for local office hours on Friday, Sept. 8 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Lenawee County District Library, 4459 US – BUS 223 in Adrian.“I enjoy the opportunity to connect with people in the community and hear what matters most to them,” Rep. Kahle said. “I look forward to listening to our neighbors, addressing their concerns and working through solutions for the people of Lenawee County.”No appointments are necessary to attend office hours. Those unable to attend may contact Rep. Kahle’s office at (517) 373-1706 or BronnaKahle@house.mi.gov.
Categories: Kesto News,News State Rep. Klint Kesto, co-chair of the House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force, today announced the panel’s findings to serve as a guide to improve specialized veteran, substance abuse and mental health services in Oakland County and across Michigan.Kesto, who also chairs the House Law and Justice Committee, said the recommendations will improve care in Michigan’s criminal justice system, including improved training for first responders, better services to victims, enhanced court and diversion programs, and additional treatment during and after incarceration.“We went into this process determined to come up with real reforms, not just rhetoric,” said Kesto, of Commerce Township. “I’m extremely pleased with the results. We’ve developed some cutting-edge ideas that will allow our state to be smarter on crime without increasing the burden on taxpayers, while also helping so many of our fellow residents touched by mental health and substance abuse issues.”The bipartisan House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force was initiated by House Speaker Tom Leonard with a focus on five key elements: Community, Access, Resources, Education and Safety (C.A.R.E.S.) to explore which programs were successful and where vulnerable residents are lacking in care and resources. The panel held over a dozen public meetings and site visits across Michigan from July to October 2017, including a hearing at the Oakland Community Health Network in Auburn Hills on Aug. 29.Today’s release of the report was the next step in the process to improving services with Kesto already submitting legislation based on the Task Force’s findings.“We found that there are a lot of quality mental health programs and professionals in Michigan, but we must do better for our citizens,” Kesto said. “I was pleased to get the ball rolling with timely legislation and I look forward to reviewing any bills inspired by the hard work we put in last summer. We’ll get this done because Michigan is counting on it.”The full report is available to review at www.house.mi.gov/CARES. 17Jan Rep. Kesto announces House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force report
Legislator casts important vote as House approves landmark legislationState Rep. Pamela Hornberger today joined fellow House members in approving a bipartisan plan to reform Michigan’s broken no-fault system.The plan guarantees lower personal injury protection (PIP) rates for all drivers in Michigan, who now have the highest average car insurance premiums in the nation – twice as high as neighboring states. The bill offers personal injury coverage options, fights fraud and abuse, and addresses medical costs.“This plan is a huge win for the people of Michigan,” said Rep. Hornberger. “We’ve listened to their concerns and produced this complete overhaul of our state’s unfair and broken auto insurance system.”Michigan’s costs are high largely because it’s the only state mandating unlimited lifetime health care coverage through car insurance. The House plan allows those currently using the coverage to keep it, and those who want it in the future to continue buying it – while providing more affordable options.The plan:Guarantees lower rates for all Michigan drivers;Gives drivers a choice on car insurance policies;Stops price gouging on medical services for car accident victims;Combats fraudulent claims to help lower costs.The sweeping legislation now advances to the Senate for consideration.##### Categories: Hornberger News 09May Rep. Hornberger helps move car insurance reform into the fast lane
Share17TweetShareEmail17 Shares August 2, 2014; Lexington Herald-Leader Over the last few months, we have watched stories about nonprofits that have resisted being included in living wage requirements. These stories of two men who made sacrifices to ensure more equity can help us consider another way. They also provide a image that stands as a polar opposite and a rebuttal to the typical U.S. mega-rich billionaire hero.Not only did Raymond Burse, the interim president at Kentucky State University, request a $90,000 pay cut in order to raise the wages of 24 employees who made less than $10.25 an hour, but the school’s board of regents also approved the request. The second act may be even more important than the first.KSU Board of Regents Chairwoman, Karen Bearden, said “President Burse has asked the board to pay 24 employees who are currently earning less than $10.25 per hour the amount necessary to bring their salaries to $10.25 per hour, and this amount would be reduced from the base pay salary that this board would pay him.” Burse now makes $259,744 instead of $349,869.Burse is not, apparently, the first president of a university to make this move. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, at Hampton University, William R. Harvey, the president, donated more than $100,000 so that low-wage workers there would make at least $9 per hour. And, again according to the Chronicle, “This is not the first time the Harveys have donated money to support wage increases at the private, historically black university in Hampton, Virginia. They donated $45,000 to support a five-percent wage increase for staff members earning less than $7 an hour in 2006, and $166,000 in 2011 to increase minimum staff wages to $8 an hour. The most-recent donation will cover higher wages through the end of the current fiscal year, after which they will be included in the university’s budget.” Harvey is, no surprise, one of the longest-sitting university presidents in the country.Back to Kentucky. Burse says he understands that he cannot make the institution work without those workers, some of whom are making as little as $7.25. “It takes everybody on this campus to do what we need to do to improve it,” Burse said. “I want everybody on the team to be involved and this is one way of showing employees on the lower end of the pay scale that they are important as well.”“They are the people that do the physical labor on this campus on a daily basis. They are the ones that make it look good. I think they deserve to be rewarded,” Burse said. “We live in some very tough times and we want to make certain that they know we, the board and myself, care about them and want to do the very best by them.”—Ruth McCambridge Share17TweetShareEmail17 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesSeptember 16, 2014; Baking BusinessOperating in 60 countries and with 11,000 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants and 7,300 Baskin-Robbins restaurants, Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. has just committed to source only 100% sustainable palm oil in the United States by 2016. The sustainability must be fully traceable to the mill by the end of 2015 and to the plantation by the end of 2016.Still, the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has been pushing the sustainable palm oil agenda with corporations, says this commitment does not go far enough. “In recent years, dozens of major companies have committed to buying more deforestation-free palm oil,” reads UCS’s statement. “Last March, UCS scored commitments from 30 top companies and Dunkin’ Brands received a failing grade, largely because the company did not address palm oil procurement across its global supply chain.” Calen May-Tobin, an analyst with UCS’s Tropical Forest & Climate Initiative, states:“America might run on Dunkin’, but the company needs to address the 59 other countries in which it operates, too. Dunkin’ is clearly feeling the heat from American consumers, but their response is not quite what their consumers are demanding. “It’s a good sign that Dunkin’ is willing to improve sourcing for its U.S. locations; it should adopt the same requirements globally. The company says it’s going to consider doing so, but in the meantime, tropical forests are still getting fried. The fast food sector is woefully behind other industries when it comes to sourcing sustainable palm oil. Dunkin’ is taking this issue seriously and more fast food companies should follow in its footsteps. At the end of the day, though, this is literally a half-measure.”Dunkin’ Brands said it worked with several nonprofit organizations to develop its responsible palm oil supply plan, and intends to continue to work with the organizations to help it meet its goals. For a look at another company’s less positive interactions with an attempt to deal with problems with palm oil, you can see the NPQ newswire about Greenpeace and Nestlé here.—Ruth McCambridgeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares December 31, 2014; ThinkAdvisorThere has been substantial momentum in the LGBTQ movement over the last several years, and a new report by the organization Funders for LGBTQ Issues shows that there is a substantial increase in the funding of causes associated with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues. The following highlights the momentum behind the funding of the U.S. LGBTQ community in 2013:Increased Giving: There were “4,152 grants to organizations and programs focused on LGBTQ issues, totaling $129 million, a 6.3 percent increase over 2012.” Additionally, grantmaking for LGBTQ issues grew by 6.3 percent while foundation funding in general grew by 5.6 percent. Total LGBTQ grantmaking in 2013 amounted to $144.8 million—including re-granted dollars, detailed below. The report outlined that over the past decade, foundation funding for LGBTQ issues had grown by more than 250 percent while general foundation funding grew by less than 75 percent during the same period.Growth in Re-granting: Foundations granted $15.7 million to public foundations and other intermediaries, a $3 million increase from 2012. Twelve percent of LGBTQ funding was re-granted through an intermediary or funding collaborative, which, the report stated, demonstrated “an exceptional degree of collaboration and coordination among LGBTQ funders.”Funding Focus: Advocacy “continued to be the most funded strategy in 2013, representing 48 percent of all funding.” Direct services increased by five percent to 18 percent.The top funder of LGBTQ causes was the Arcus Foundation at $16.8 million, while the organization Freedom to Marry was the largest funder (without re-granting) at $3.6 million. The top 20 funders of LGBTQ organizations and programs funded 78 percent of all LGBTQ funding, with 331 foundations and corporations making grants to LGBTQ organizations.The Northeast continued to be the most funded region relating to LGBTQ causes, at nearly $20 million, with New York receiving nearly of half that funding. The Mountain region of the United States received the least amount of funding, just under $3 million. Wyoming received just $25K for the funding of LBGTQ issues. As it happens, Wyoming was ranked the least tolerant state by the Daily Beast, with ratings that incorporated issues relating to the LBGTQ community.While the above is encouraging, there is still a lot of growth to be had amongst funders. Of the approximately $55 billion foundations are estimated to have granted in 2013, only 0.2 percent went to LGBTQ organizations and programs.—John BrothersShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares February 19, 2015;The GuardianWe all know them: Organizations that are made up of collections of things. Universities comprising multiple departments and schools. Multi-service centers with twenty or thirty programs, all functioning relatively independently. These can sometimes be hard to corral. Charities large enough to house several departments often silo those departments so that they work almost as separate entities within a whole. This may cause many types of organizational problems, including hampering the way the outside world understands the organization.So what is to be done? Should you try to force everyone to get on message? Find a tag line that fits the whole and insist it be attached to all communications? Exercise tight control? Or maybe you could think about it another way. Something has to knit the whole together to make the parts sing in harmony to the community—find that and work with it. Creating a concordant voice in a multiple-part organization has more to do with everyone’s knowledge of, and commitment to, the whole song as well as their particular parts than with any structural changes or imposition of voice.This short article in the Guardian errs a bit in addressing communications and branding as the way into a larger problem of disintegration, which occurs over time and can get very firmly anchored, and that can be very thorny. In the end, this requires recommitment of the organization’s participants to a central mission and value proposition. That’s something that cannot be forced, but must be crafted; it is the form within the rock that needs to get sculpted.In a way, the article belies its own message by addressing the solution as integrated communications rather than an integrated organization. But it does provide some useful cautions in a set of myths about how to approach that sense of unity/harmony. The myths are:“To achieve integration, we’d have to restructure the whole charity.” Structural change is not necessarily needed. In fact, cultural change is more effective. If all departments collaborate and commit to shared objectives, any disconnection between departments will be eliminated. Sherine Krause, executive director of fundraising, communications, and policy at Action for Children, says, “Structure is just one part of the issue. It’s much more about the way you work together.”“We can’t do this because we haven’t got a massive budget.” Similar to the first myth, large advertising budgets are not necessary. If the entire organization is working together and focused on the same mission, the amount of an organization’s budget will be most effective. Basically, the charity will get the “biggest bang for the buck.”“This doesn’t apply to me, my audience is different.” Debbie West, head of fundraising and direct response at Good Agency, said, “Audiences do not classify themselves through their transaction. They care about the cause and the impact they will have, and often embrace multiple ways of supporting it.” In other terms, do not ever assume that someone is not a part of the organization’s audience. Each department working together has the potential to bring in donors and supporters from a wide range of demographics.“But we’ve got completely different objectives, so our messages will be very different.” If each department is a part of the same organization, then everyone is working toward the same mission. While teams will have different objectives to meet, the overall goals of the organization will be consistent—and so should the communications plan.In September 2005, NPQpublished an article that explained:“Without planning, our work too often functions in crisis-response mode and, as a result, tends to be scattered in its effect. When work is scattered, capacity never builds, nothing feels solid, and staff and members become demoralized. Just as an organization’s strategic plan clarifies its program goals and distributes resources to match group priorities, an accompanying communications plan helps an organization plan systematic communications work.”So, ensuring that all staff and volunteers understand and are passionate about the organization’s mission is the strongest tool in being able to put out a consistent, effective message to the community.—Erin Lamb and Ruth McCambridgeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share114TweetShare7Email121 Shares“Strong Beginnings – Pre-K Graduation – Friday, June 11, 2010 – Vicenza, Italy – CYSS – FMWRC – US Army.” Credit: U.S. ArmyMay 18, 2017; New York Daily News, “Opinion”Universal Pre-K is widely viewed as an important part of the nation’s efforts to give all children, particularly those raised in poverty, a quality education that will allow them to flourish in their adult years. But is it so important that early childhood educators should be subsidizing the cost of its expansion?Preschool programs can be expensive to operate, and funding remains an obstacle. Often missed in the discussions of whether taxes should be increased or funds diverted from other programs in order to create new Pre-K classes is the question of whether early childhood teachers should subsidize the cost of their own programs.Low salaries have been a hallmark of early childhood education. Ruth McCambridge, in a previous NPQ story, referenced a study by UC-Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, which found,Early educators are among the lowest-paid workers in the country. The median hourly wages for child care workers range from $8.72 in Mississippi to $12.24 in New York. Nationwide, the median wage is $9.77. Preschool teachers fare somewhat better: wages range from $10.54 in Idaho to $19.21 in Louisiana. In contrast, the median national wage for kindergarten teachers is $24.83. Nearly one-half of childcare workers (46 percent), compared to 26 percent of the U.S. workforce, are part of families that participate in at least one public assistance program, such as Medicaid or food stamps.Earlier this year, New York City began expanding preschool opportunities, with the goal of enrolling every three-year-old child. The city estimated it would need an additional $700 million to serve the estimated 5,700 children ($123,000/child) for this expansion. Even in a city as rich and liberal as New York, this is difficult to fund and those costs depend on keeping salaries down.According to Dave Nocenti, writing in the N.Y. Daily News, the disparities between similarly trained teachers in public kindergartens and in publicly funded preschools operated for the city by nonprofit organizations range from 32 percent to 113 percent, depending on their years of teaching.In the public schools, lead classroom teachers with master’s degrees and state certifications earn a starting salary of $60,704. Those with 10 years of experience earn $82,995, and those with 20 years of experience earn $101,550…[Universal PreK] teachers with identical credentials—a master’s degree and state certification—get paid a starting salary of $50,000, with minimal longevity increases. Teachers with 10 or 20 years’ experience earn only $51,000 and $51,700, respectively. Even worse, the certified master’s-level teachers of two-year-olds and three-year-olds…make even less. Their salaries start at $46,000, and those with 20 years’ experience earn just $47,700.Early Childhood Teachers work a 12-month school year for these salaries, as compared to the 10-month school year for their elementary school–based colleagues.New York’s approach mirrors the national situation: Keeping early childhood educators’ salaries low does make funding easier. It leaves teachers, policymakers, and the public with an ethical dilemma that pits the welfare of teachers against the needs of the children they are trained to teach—one noted in earlier NPQ coverage: “A major goal of early childhood services has been to relieve poverty among children, yet many of these same efforts continue to generate poverty in the predominantly female, ethnically and racially diverse ECE work force.”Too many teachers are leaving the field in order to support their own households, resulting in a shortage of qualified, experienced early childhood personnel. “The result,” Nocenti writes, “has been a severe shortage of certified teachers…and the teachers who remain—who are mostly women of color—are left wondering why the city is treating them like second-class citizens by refusing to approve salaries on par with those of their public school counterparts.” Turnover rates are also high. creating an unstable educational environment in classrooms where educational quality requires stability.Can we find a way to meet the needs of both children and their teachers? If we think quality matters when it comes to our children’s education, we must.—Martin LevineShare114TweetShare7Email121 Shares
Share7Tweet16ShareEmail23 SharesBy Office of the attorney general of California [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsApril 18, 2018; California HealthlineXavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, has ordered three hospitals to meet their nonprofit commitments after the group petitioned to have their contribution requirements reduced. This brings to a conclusion an issue that began in February of this year.Under California law, the attorney general can set charity requirements for nonprofit hospitals as they merge or are purchased by another nonprofit or for-profit hospital. This is on top of the IRS requirement that all nonprofit hospitals provide some, unspecified level of free or reduced-cost care in order to maintain nonprofit status.The hospitals in question—Mission Community Hospital, Emanuel Medical Center, and University of Southern California’s Verdugo Hills Hospital—were in each case ordered to pay $1.7 million or more in order to meet their state-mandated charitable contributions.Advocates for healthcare access for low-income Californians marked the attorney general’s decision as a victory. According to reporter Pauline Bartolone, Jen Flory, a policy advocate for Western Center on Law and Poverty, said the denial letters show that “Becerra understands there are still ‘unmet needs’ for financial assistance for people who have high-deductible plans or can’t afford their out-of-pocket costs.” Flory went on to note that hospitals can do more through outreach to help these patients understand their options for payment.The argument put forward by the hospitals was that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) had sufficiently reduced the number of uninsured to the point where it was inefficient to spend limited resources in assisting a dwindling pool of needy. It seemed unnecessary to allocate money that could be used in other areas to a problem that ACA was helping to solve. These monies could be spent on new equipment, more staff, better working conditions, and so forth. Ultimately, the attorney general did not buy the hospitals’ argument and denied their request.The California law makes it one of 20 states that afford attorneys general or some other regulatory agent the power to intervene in the sale of nonprofit hospitals. The legislation recognizes the possibility that the overall availability of nonprofit-supported healthcare will be reduced in the event of a nonprofit merger, sale, or conversion to for-profit. It is simple enough to imagine why: If there once were two nonprofit hospitals, and now there is only one hospital, that’s a 50-percent reduction in available nonprofit hospital services. That argument extends further to nonprofit hospitals converting to for-profit hospitals. The law works as a tool to maintain a certain level—presumably the status quo—of charity-provided healthcare in the event of a reduction in supply.Interestingly, it might have a dampening effect on the efficiency-enhancing mergers of nonprofit hospitals. Consider, for example, two nonprofit hospitals operating within the same market. If these two hospitals were to merge operations, they might see a positive efficiency gain. However, if the attorney general were to impose charitable contributions that outweigh those efficiency gains, the hospitals might not merge after all. Worse still, consider the possibility that one of those hospitals isn’t viable without the merger. The imposition of a charity threshold might lead to the market losing a hospital altogether. Ideally, the attorney general will take this into account, but it is an important consequence that requires thorough analysis.In this case, the mandates likely will not bankrupt any of these three hospitals. Hopefully, their work in outreach and reduction of healthcare costs for low-income patients will improve the quality of life in the area. Even further, let’s hope that gain in quality of life is greater than the opportunity cost of using the money elsewhere.—Sean WattersonShare7Tweet16ShareEmail23 Shares
Sky Deutschland has extended its distribution partnership with NBC Universal in a deal that will see the launch of Syfy HD and Universal 13th Street HD on its network from January 17.NBC Universal has also extended its existing output deal with Sky for the distribution of subscription pay TV and video-on-demand rights to movie premieres on Sky’s movie channels and Sky Anytime and Sky Go VOD and TV anywhere services. Exclusive movie premieres on Sky will include Les Miserables, Anna Karenina and Oblivion.The two new HD channels will be included in the Sky World package. Sky said it would add further HD services from NBC Universal in the course of 2013.
Kathrein TechnoTrend will exhibit at ANGA COM on Stand B19, Hall 10.2 Kathrein TechnoTrend, the company formerly known as TechnoTrend Görler, will debut its new Broadcom chipset-based TT-smart device range at ANGA COM. The new receiver portfolio with modern design ranges from DVB and IPTV Zappers with embedded Conax, Verimatrix, Irdeto and Nagravision CA systems and CI+ modules over hybrid receivers and DVRs with own and third party middleware, to OTT and cloud-based solutions.According to Kathrein TechnoTrend, the company’s open-API middleware Phoenix enables the company and its middleware provider partners to adapt to specific customer requirements.The company’s new smart TV platform, which was implemented in cooperation with Foxxum, a specialist in smart TV solutions, gives access to over 250 apps.In addition, Kathrein TechnoTrend is offering newly integrated solutions for video-on-demand, catch-up TV und IP streaming.At ANGA COM, Kathrein TechnoTrend will also show its home networking solutions for multiscreen and multi-device applications, such as live TV streaming or uPnP applications.“Our new generation of high-performance devices is combining our own know-how as receiver developer with the special expertise of our system partners to generate new value and business opportunities for our operator customers,” said Volker Belz, chief sales officer of Kathrein TechnoTrend. “By a strict and consistent technical standardisation and integration of efficient middleware combinations, we are offering very attractive and powerful CPE solutions for network operators of any size and any environment. Thereby, flexibility to customer requirements, sustainable quality and – of course – price are our highest priorities.”
Over-the-top box maker Roku has launched a new family of streaming players.The new Roku LT player will be available in the US while the Roku 1 and Roku 2 players will be available in the US, Canada, the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The flagship Roku 3 player which launched in the US in March is now also available in all of these countries.The Roku LT, Roku 1 and Roku 2 players give consumers a range new features and along with the Roku 3 provide access to the Roku Channel Store which features a selection of streaming entertainment currently running at more than 1,000 channels in the US and at more than 450 channels each in Canada, the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, according to Roku. The Roku LT supports 720p video while the Roku 1 can play back up to 1080p HD video.“These new players bring useful improvements at existing prices – just in time for the holidays,” said Jim Funk, SVP of product management, Roku. “We’re giving customers more value for their money by adding a headphone jack for private listening and dual-band wireless to the Roku 2, and support for 1080p HD video to the Roku 1. We are excited to bring these and other great features to our new line-up which provides a better TV experience across every price point.”Separately Roku has also partnered with Technicolor-backed US OTT service M-Go, providing the service on the Roku LT, Roku 1 and Roku 2 players.