Virgin Voyages Terminal at PortMiami coming in 2021; Scarlet Lady bookings open Feb. 2019 Share Travelweek Group MIAMI — Virgin Voyages is getting ready to open the books for 2020 sailings on its first ship, Scarlet Lady, starting Feb. 14, 2019 and has also released renderings of its just-announced 100,000-square-foot dedicated Virgin Voyages terminal at PortMiami.“Since we’re already feeling the love, Pre-Sale Deposit Holders will be able to book passage aboard our Scarlet Lady starting February 5, 2019. We will be open for business for all sailors beginning February 14, 2019,” says the cruise line.Virgin Voyages says Scarlet Lady will continue to sail to the Caribbean from Miami throughout 2021. The company’s second ship will sail from Miami during the fall/winter cruise season of 2021/22.Meanwhile the new Virgin Voyages Terminal will be located on the northwest side of the port. Pending the Board of County Commission’s approval of the MOU for construction of a new cruise facility, along with the subsequent berthing agreement, the project will start next year and is slated for completion by November 2021.“Miami is an incredible city and one of my favorite places to work and play,” said Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson. “From our headquarters for Virgin Hotels, Virgin Voyages and now Virgin Trains USA, South Florida has quickly become another home for Virgin brands in the leisure travel sector.”More news: Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portalAdds Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin: “South Florida is our home, and with our fleet now growing to four ships, we’re humbled and thankful to soon have a gorgeous new terminal overlooking the Miami skyline, an incredible view that will set the stage for the alluring journey that we will take our sailors on.”The new terminal is designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, the same architecture firm that designed American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami, Brickell City Centre Complex in Brickell and the Miami City Ballet in South Beach.Arquitectonica has designed the terminal’s rooftop to resemble a palm tree grove with pockets that allow natural light to flow into the building by day, “and gorgeous beams to light up our iconic Virgin Voyages logo (as well as the Miami sky) by night, allowing our future home to shine brightly.”The two-storey storm-proof glass facility will boast lush landscaping, giving the terminal a plaza-like feel with designated areas for VIP drop-offs, as well as ride-sharing and provisioning, all designed to provide a seamless shore to ship experience, says the cruise line.More news: Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”Earlier this month Virgin Voyages announced its plans to build a fourth ship from Fincantieri shipyard, set for delivery in 2023 and accommodating 2,770 passengers.The cruise line also announced Cuba as one of the destinations for its first ship Scarlet Lady, setting sail in 2020.The adults-only cruise line has created considerable buzz in the industry. In a recent feature story for Travelweek, McAlpin said Canada is a “great market” for Virgin Voyages and talked about his plans for this market.A number of trade-focused initiatives will be included in the line’s rollout over the next year, like a First Mates website and an expanding sales force that will educate front-line agents.Earlier this month the cruise line also released renderings of its dining venues for Scarlet Lady. Wednesday, November 28, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Tags: Miami, Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages
Discovery Parks launches a new water park in BarmeraDiscovery Parks launches a new water park in BarmeraWith it set to be a glorious summer in South Australia, families will be excited to hear that there’s a new waterpark in town! Thanks to Adelaide-based Discovery Parks, locals and travellers alike can now look forward to an exciting new attraction in the area to help stay cool this summer. Visitors can find this unique family holiday destination on the banks of Lake Bonney in South Australia’s Riverland.This new waterpark is being built at Discovery Parks – Lake Bonney and will be illuminated to extend the fun beyond sundown. Featuring three slides, a huge tipping bucket, water cannons and several spray zones, it is sure to provide endless hours of fun for the whole family and thrill-seekers alike. The 500sqm waterpark will be themed to reflect the beauty of the Murray River and the local citrus growers.Discovery Parks – Lake Bonney will also introduce 16 brand new two-bedroom cabins which will comfortably accommodate up to six people. The cabins will feature all of the comforts you would expect to find at home and are suitable for families, corporate travellers and large group bookings.“Perfectly positioned next to Barmera’s magnificent Lake Bonney, our park is all about lakeside relaxing and water sports. Visitors can experience a huge range of family-friendly activities in the freshwater at the front door of our caravan park. With the development of this new waterpark, we are confident that the park will be the go-to destination for families this summer,” Sharon Bottrell, Park Manager of Discovery Parks – Lake Bonney said.This waterpark is part of Discovery Parks’ $14 million investment across six properties in the lead up to Christmas. It follows a recent announcement from the business around its new structure and focus on further investing in its people, place and process as part of a strategic plan to support the business for scalable growth to 2020 and beyond.“This investment is us putting money where our mouth is. All the developments are built on our extensive customer knowledge. We are confident that they will fulfil the demand at each location and create an even better experience for our customers,” said CEO of Discovery Parks, Grant Wilckens.Discovery Parks – Lake Bonney will continue to operate as usual with the waterpark and new cabins to be launched in time for summer.Source = Discovery Parks
The St. Regis MelbourneSt. Regis Hotels & Resorts slated to debut in AustraliaSt. Regis Hotels & Resorts today announced the signing of The St. Regis Melbourne, marking the first hotel in Australia for the renowned luxury brand. Owned by Century Group Aus, this new-build hotel is slated to open in 2022 and will be located in the heart of Melbourne amidst distinct architecture and a dynamic arts scene.“Melbourne’s vibrant mix of world-class dining, art galleries and rich history makes it an ideal destination for the debut of the iconic St. Regis brand in Australia,” said Lisa Holladay, Global Brand Leader, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts. “We are delighted to be working with Century Group Aus to open The St. Regis Melbourne and offer our guests impeccable service and exquisite experiences in Australia.”Located in the luxury mixed-use precinct Flinders Bank on the corner of Spencer and Flinders Streets, the new St. Regis Melbourne will serve as a landmark gateway to the city’s bustling Central Business District. Guests will also be within walking distance of Collins Street, known for its historic Victorian architecture, prestigious boutiques and high-end retailers, as well as the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.“We are honoured to be bringing this iconic brand to Australia,” said Connie Wu, Executive Director of Century Group Aus. “From the outset, we knew we wanted to create a hotel for today’s discerning and sophisticated traveller and the St. Regis brand’s timeless, tasteful and luxurious offering is the perfect fit. We are confident this hotel will become an architectural benchmark in the region and the jewel in the crown at Flinders Bank.”The 33-storey Flinders Bank will house the St. Regis Melbourne across levels 2 to 11 and include 168 luxuriously appointed guestrooms and suites, all of which will offer sweeping views of the Yarra River or city skyline. With interiors created by world-leading interior design studio, Chada, and the building designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects, The St. Regis Melbourne will be an instant icon and stylish addition to the city’s skyline. Refined food and beverage offerings will include a specialty restaurant in addition to a sophisticated Drawing Room space and the St. Regis Bar, which will serve up the local rendition of the brand’s signature cocktail, the Bloody Mary. Guests will also be able to immerse themselves in unparalleled leisure facilities, such as a fitness and wellness centre with a 25-metre indoor swimming pool and an exceptional Iridium Spa and beauty salon. Guests of The St. Regis Melbourne will also experience the renowned hallmarks of the St. Regis brand, including the legendary St. Regis Butler Service that personalises each stay according to guests’ unique tastes and preferences. The hotel will also be an ideal setting for exclusive corporate gatherings, special events and weddings.“This signing is an indication of the investment community’s confidence in the Australian hotel market, where we are seeing a growing demand for premium lodgings,” said Richard Crawford, Senior Director, Hotel Development, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific at Marriott International. “The St. Regis Melbourne will be an outstanding addition to our strong and growing footprint in the region, where we are on track to boast the largest portfolio of upper upscale and luxury hotels and resorts, with two-thirds of the new supply pipeline.”St. Regis Hotels & Resorts is one of the world’s fastest growing luxury hospitality brands, more than doubling its footprint in recent years. There are currently more than 40 St. Regis branded hotels open worldwide and for more information please visit www.stregis.com.Source = St. Regis Hotels & Resorts
Fairfield by Marriott announced the opening of its 1,000th hotel, making it the second brand in the Marriott International portfolio besides Courtyard by Marriott to reach this milestone. Fairfield has recently experienced rapid global growth in China, Japan, Mexico, India and the U.S. While the debut of Fairfield by Marriott Inn & Suites Denver Tech Center North sets the milestone, the brand expects to continue its growth curve with more than 300 hotels anticipated to open by 2021.“With 1,000 Fairfield hotels now open, we are well positioned to continue building on this powerhouse brand’s popularity with franchisees and guests,” said Eric Jacobs, Marriott International, Chief Development Officer, North America select service and extended stay brands. “Fairfield is a brand that has great appeal to our franchisees and also resonates with travellers who seek a comfortable, uncomplicated and consistent experience wherever they travel.”Fairfield is also launching a new modern logo and communications platform ‘The Beauty of Simplicity,’ as well a new décor package called ‘Modern Calm,’ both of which are inspired by the warm and calming sensibility and feelings evoked by the Fairfield Farm. The experience continues to be backed by the Fairfield Guarantee – from its free, hot breakfast to a great night’s sleep, Fairfield’s level of service and accommodation is what the brand was founded upon.“As Fairfield continues to expand around the world, we continue to deliver on the brand’s founding principles of warm hospitality and family treatment, which translates into every language and culture,” said Janis Milham, Senior Vice President and Global Brand Leader, Marriott Classic Select Brands. “The launch of The Beauty of Simplicity brings to life the feelings evoked from the brand’s heritage at the Fairfield Farm. It’s the simple things done right that make our guests return again and again.”Fairfield aims to open its doors in Japan in 2020 with more than a dozen innovative prefabricated hotels expected to open throughout the country in tertiary markets that tourists increasingly want to visit as the country experiences a surge in inbound tourist arrivals.India is also a priority growth region for the brand, with 14 functional properties, including the recently opened Fairfield Goa Anjuna and another eight in the pipeline.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by The Associated Press Posted Jan 7, 2019 5:35 am PDT NANTUCKET, Mass. — The Latest on the arraignment of Kevin Spacey (all times local):8:30 a.m.Journalists have packed the Massachusetts courtroom where Kevin Spacey is due to appear to answer a sexual assault charge.Media trucks lined the usually quiet street where the Nantucket courthouse sits before dawn Monday. Locals on the island, which teems with tourists in the summer but largely shuts down in winter, drove by slowly to take pictures of reporters standing in line in the cold.When the doors opened, more than two dozen journalists filed into the courtroom hours before Spacey was scheduled to appear in late morning.The Oscar-winning actor is accused of groping the son of a former Boston TV anchor in a crowded bar on the island. He has said he plans to plead not guilty to felony indecent assault and battery.___1 a.m.Kevin Spacey is set to appear in court on accusations that he groped an 18-year-old man in 2016.The disgraced actor is scheduled to be arraigned in the Nantucket District Court on Monday on felony indecent assault and battery. He has said he will plead not guilty.He’s accused of groping the son of a former Boston TV anchor in a crowded bar on the small Massachusetts island.Spacey’s lawyer has sought to poke holes in the case, noting during an earlier hearing that the teen didn’t immediately report the allegations.Spacey tried to get out of appearing at his arraignment, saying his presence would “amplify the negative publicity already generated” by the case.It’s the first criminal case brought against Spacey after several sexual misconduct allegations crippled his career in 2017.The Associated Press The Latest: Media pack courtroom where Spacey is to appear
PARIS — The lawyer for a woman who filed a rape complaint in Paris against Chris Brown says the American singer-songwriter “has thumbed his nose at and shown disrespect for the French legal system” after he did not attend a formal meeting with the alleged victim on Tuesday.Brown was arrested in January then released from custody without charge pending further investigation of the woman’s allegations that he and two other men raped her at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris. The Grammy winner called the accusation false.“His failure to appear today is very unfair to my client, but I assure him that my client will not be deterred from seeking justice,” said American lawyer Gloria Allred, who travelled to Paris judicial police’s headquarters to assist her client at the meeting, which in France is called a confrontation.The woman’s French lawyer, Jean-Marc Descoubes, said Brown was not legally obliged to attend the meeting. The two other suspects, both American, did not attend the meeting either, Descoubes said, adding he expects another date to be set.“If he doesn’t show up a second time we will have to either ask for the preliminary investigation to be closed (to allow for an investigative judge take over the procedure) because we just can’t keep going like this. Or we will ask the prosecutor to put in place more coercive measures, a warrant to get him to come because the confrontation requested by our client is key to this case – a sexual abuse case,” he said.Brown’s French lawyer, Raphael Chiche, did not immediately answer an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.French police detained Brown and the two others in January on potential charges of aggravated rape and drug infractions. The Paris prosecutor’s office said at the time the investigation hasn’t been closed, but Brown was free to leave the country while it continued.Allred said Brown “has betrayed the trust of the criminal justice authorities who allowed him to leave France expecting that he would honour his promise to attend the confrontation.”The AP does not typically identify people alleging sexual assault unless they agree to be named or come forward publicly. Descoubes told the AP his client does not want to be identified.Brown burst onto the music scene as a teenager and won a Grammy Award in 2011 for best R&B album for “F.A.M.E.” He has had continued legal troubles since he pleaded guilty to the felony assault in 2009 of his then-girlfriend, Rihanna.___Alex Turnbull contributed to this report.Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press American lawyer Gloria Allred gives a press conference, in Paris, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. The lawyer for a woman who filed a rape complaint in Paris against Chris Brown says the American rap artist “has thumbed his nose at and shown disrespect for the French legal system” after he did not attend a confrontation with the alleged victim Tuesday. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) Lawyer accuses Chris Brown of “disrespect” in rape case AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press Posted May 28, 2019 6:18 am PDT
JUST 48 hours before an unofficial dinner between the two leaders in an attempt to re-start stalled negotiations and help restore lost trust, President Nicos Anastasiades launched a blistering attack on the Turkish side’s positions that appeared to leave little room for compromise.Addressing students and professors from the National Kapodistrian University of Athens, at the presidential palace in Nicosia, Anastasiades, appearing irritated, said if the Turkish Cypriot side insisted only on discussing confidence building measures at the dinner they should at least change their stance as regards what that meant.“The best confidence building measure would be through specific proposals to show respect to the concerns of the Greek Cypriots, especially as regards [Turkish] guarantees,” he said.Anastasiades said the problems that arose in the talks came about due to Ankara’s influence on Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who he said walked away from the talks citing the House vote for schools to mark the 1950 Greek Cypriot referendum for Enosis, union with Greece.Anastasiades said Akinci’s position was that on Sunday they should only discuss confidence building measures and nothing of substance until the House withdraws the amendment. A compromise vote handing over school commemorations to the education ministry is due at the plenum next Friday, five days after the dinner, which means Akinci is unlikely to commit to new talks before he is satisfied with the outcome of the new vote.Giving a rundown on the talks, Anastasiades said that when he began talks with Akici “it was a basic principle of our understandings that any solution would have to be balanced, responsive to the concerns and aspirations of both communities and never ignores the [EU] acquis, given that it was agreed that Cyprus will remain member of the EU and so must meet the prerequisites required for a member state.”“But unfortunately over time, Turkish influence created a different attitude from the Turkish Cypriots, and it is with great regret and disappointment I say, their current positions do not serve either the Greek Cypriot or the Turkish Cypriot communities but are primarily designed to enable Turkey to become a regulator of what will be decided by the [federal] government,” he added.Anastasiades said that in the early stages of the talks they observed significant convergences that allowed an optimism that the climate had finally changed and that the leaders saw the prospects for ending the unacceptable situation on the island, even despite the differences.He said that when the leaders returned from Geneva he suggested that due to difficulties that might occur due to the constitutional referendum in Turkey this month, negotiations could slow down so that Turkey could act on Cyprus free from the influences of the referendum.“The answer of Mr Akinci was that the talks would not be affected, and of course the opposite has been proved,” said Anastasiades, adding that, Akinci turned around and used the Enosis vote as an opportunity to leave the table.“Unfortunately, he found that he could humiliate the Greek Cypriot side claiming that it had an obligation to correct the mistake,” he added.Anastasiades said he told Akinci he could not change the vote and in any case “I told him I did not react nor stop the dialogue when celebrations were held [in the north] for the day of the invasion, the proclamation of the pseudostate, the time difference, or the occupation flag on the Pentadaktylos,” the president said.Anastasiades also referred to his proposal for the triptych – a document on differences and convergences – but said the Turkish Cypriot side did not respond positively to this proposal.He also referred to the demand of the Turkish side for the EU four freedoms for Turkish nationals post-solution and said this would mean “occupation of Cyprus by peaceful means”.Everything that has happened recently, he added, proves the hypocrisy of the Turkish side.“What matters now is what happens on Sunday,” he said.“At the same time I want to make clear that I am not willing to put before the Greek Cypriots a plan that they will be obliged to reject because of unjust provisions which would create a dysfunctional state, a hybrid state that would be unable to meet its obligations as an EU Member State, a state which accepts human rights violations or discrimination such as to render or to convert the so-called policy of equality in a way that would mean the rights of the few would govern the many.”You May LikeTruthFinder People Search SubscriptionOne Thing All Liars Have in Common, Brace YourselfTruthFinder People Search SubscriptionUndoFigLeaf Beta AppFigLeaf brings You 3 Easy Steps to Privacy on Your Terms…FigLeaf Beta AppUndoGundry MD PrebioThrive Probiotic SupplementTop Yale Doctor: This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Eat GlutenGundry MD PrebioThrive Probiotic SupplementUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoOur View: Argaka mukhtar should not act as if he owns the beachUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
Categories: Allor News 18May Rep. Allor bill helps pay for sexual assault examinations State Rep. Sue Allor (right) with state Rep. Diana Farrington (left) testified in support of her bill that expands state payment to health care providers for sexual assault exams.State Rep. Sue Allor of Wolverine today testified in the House Michigan Families, Children and Seniors Committee in support of her bill that expands state payment to health care providers for sexual assault exams.The cost of providing these services to victims of sexual assaults has increased and many health care providers have become financially constrained because of the costs. To ensure these services are continued, Allor said the state must provide additional funding to health care providers, partners or subcontractors. The testing should have approval from the Crime Victims Compensation Board.“After sexual assault, a medical exam can check for injuries, even those you may not be able to see,” said Allor. “With medical attention and testing, costs shouldn’t keep victims from getting the care they need.”Every 98 seconds, a person experiences sexual assault in the United States. Sexual assault affects hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime and 3 percent of men are victims of attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.The Crime Victims Compensation Board provides reimbursement expenses to innocent crime victims who suffer personal injury. Michigan became the 17th state to offer this program.House Bill 4506 remains under consideration by the Families, Children and Seniors Committee.###
Categories: News,VanderWall News Rep. Curt VanderWall today said a new plan signed into law will benefit important projects in Leelanau and Manistee counties.“Each of these projects will make a unique contribution to northwest Michigan – fueling our economy, improving tourism and recreation opportunities, or making travel easier,” said VanderWall, of Ludington. “I’m proud to play a role in bringing home support for these outstanding initiatives.”The bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder assists several projects including:Discovery Center pier improvements. The measure provides $2 million for the pier project in Leelanau County’s Elmwood Township, which includes campuses for several nonprofit organizations including the Inland Seas Education Association, Maritime Heritage Alliance, Great Lakes Children’s Museum, Traverse Area Community Sailing, and Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay.M-55 detour improvement in Manistee County. The measure provides $300,000 to help create an alternative detour needed because of ongoing improvements to the M-55 bridge over the Pine River east of Wellston. The new detour will provide better access to the village of Wellston and the surrounding area.Leelanau TART Trail. A Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails project will receive $162,000 for capital improvements to the 17-mile, paved off-road connection between Traverse City and Suttons Bay. 28Dec Rep. VanderWall: Northern Michigan projects benefit from new budget plan The legislation is Senate Bill 601.###
Share1TweetShareEmail1 SharesJune 15, 2014; Argus LeaderA recent article written for job search website careerbuilder.com identified the top ten occupations based on current and emerging employer demand as reported by the US Labor Department. The good news is that, between now and 2022, the Labor Department estimates these ten occupations will expand by almost 4 million jobs. The bad news is that six of the ten occupations, representing almost two-thirds of the jobs, pay minimum or near-minimum wage. Even more jarring is that nine of the ten top jobs require little or no formal education, and the tenth doesn’t require a college education.Much of the demand for new employees comes from occupations taking care of the retiring baby boomer generation. Personal care aides, home health aides, nursing assistants, and janitors/building cleaners are included in this group. From fast food to retirement homes, as always, there is demand for food preparation and serving workers. Retail salespeople are always in demand. None of these six occupations requires a college education, though some health occupations require specialized study and a certification exam. None of these occupations has a median full-time annual salary above $25,000—about $12.50 per hour. Customer service representatives, construction laborers, and secretaries/administrative assistants all have reported median annual salaries in the $30,000-$32,500 range, or about $15.00 to $16.25 per hour.The only top ten occupation where a college education is typically seen as a prerequisite is also the only job with a median annual salary above $32,500. Registered nurses earn a median salary of $65,470. They can have a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, or they may have a diploma from an approved nursing program.To be sure, there are expanding fields for college-educated job seekers, as Kiplinger reported in a 2006 article listing the top-ten list for college graduates. Not surprisingly, most of these positions are in the technology and healthcare fields. Median salaries in these fields are in the $60,000–$80,000 range. Of course, the economy needs far fewer software technicians than it does servers and personal care aides.The challenge for nonprofit service providers is positioning themselves to serve a growing cohort of individuals and families who work, yet need assistance with everything from child-care to healthcare to transportation to basic nutrition. Many of these nonprofits are organizations that employ direct service personnel in the top ten jobs categories. Some nonprofit leaders advocate for a living wage or arbitrary increases to the minimum wage to address issues affecting the working poor. However, they often also wonder whether their organizations can—or should be required to—pay higher wages to their own employees in times of scarce resources and increased demand for services.These questions need to be faced squarely if the nonprofit sector were to see these areas as places where they may wish to provide service.—Michael WylandShare1TweetShareEmail1 Shares
Share8TweetShareEmail8 SharesImage Credit: Guantanamo jog, The U.S. ArmyJuly 28, 2015; ReutersA complaint has been lodged against the U.S. Department of Defense charging officials for ignoring health concerns from personnel for years.Cancer clusters, like the famous cases of childhood leukemia in Woburn, Massachusetts, and Tom’s River, New Jersey, have been notoriously difficult to substantiate. Even before a scientific link can be established, there must be a concerted effort by the community members to bring the issue to the attention of public health officials, to be taken seriously or ignored. Lois Gibbs was the leader of one of the first largely grassroots movements to address a widespread toxic contamination of her community. Gibbs led an activist residential movement to relocate away from their town Love Canal, New York, after contaminants began creating noticeable health problems. Gibbs went on to form her own nonprofit, but the activist spirit behind the push for answers in situations where a cluster is suspected has been a common thread for the past 40 years.In much the same way, a current employee at Guantánamo Bay is also pushing for change, and trying to hold government officials accountable. At Guantánamo Bay, a complaint alleging a cancer cluster has been gaining strong support from former and current employees that have long suspected (and reported) health problems linked to the site that were seemingly ignored by officials for years.The U.S. Navy is investigating reports in a complaint filed against the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General, alleging the existence of a cancer cluster in Guantánamo Bay’s war court site after at least seven military and civilian employees working at the camp were diagnosed with a variety of different cancers. Cancer clusters occur when unusually high numbers of people around the same geographic region develop the same illness from a common cause.“The Department of Defense is aware of concerns about possible carcinogens around the Department of Defense Military Commissions site,” said base spokeswoman Kelly Wirfel, in an e-mail from Guantánamo. “We take any health concerns very seriously. Working together with the Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center and other environmental and health officials, Navy Region Southeast is looking into this to identify whatever steps may be necessary to address these concerns. We will keep everyone informed as we go along.”The complaint was filed by a Navy Reserves attorney who had worked at the camp on July 14th, just days before the death of Navy Lieutenant Commander Bill Kuebler, a former war court lawyer on July 17th, at the age of 44. Kuebler had been representing Canadian captive Omar Khadr before his death from appendix cancer between 2007 and 2009. The complaint says that there has been an unusually large number of people who have been diagnosed out of the 200 prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other employees who have worked at the base. Those who have been affected were between the ages of 35 and 52, and their cancers include lymphoma, brain, appendix, and colon. Three have died so far, and Kuebler’s was a particularly aggressive cancer.According to the complaint, those who have been diagnosed may have been exposed to carcinogens while working at areas in the camp where jet fuel was previously disposed of. In addition, the affected may also have been exposed to toxins like asbestos while working in older buildings where the trials were housed.According to the Miami Herald, which has been following these cases since 2008, attorneys representing or prosecuting the detainees have had to work in buildings with warning signs of the health hazards of using the water. These buildings were abandoned before the detention center opened in 2002.For some, the complaint brings welcome change that has been long coming. VICE News obtained documents via the Freedom of Information Act that indicated defense attorneys that had worked at the camp had previously fallen ill in 2012 from an infestation of mold and rat droppings located in their offices at the base.“We have been telling our chain-of-command for years that we don’t feel safe living and working in the temporary facilities the government has erected for military commissions,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Michael Schwartz and a military defense lawyer who has worked on Guantánamo Bay for years. “But, along with the Constitution, the government seems to want to sweep this under the rug.”Although it’s uncertain that officials were aware and deliberately ignored the health concerns, others are sure that the government should not itself be conducting an internal investigation. Richard Kammen, a civilian defense attorney who represented one of the masterminds of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, is recommending an independent NGO take over the investigation, being as complex as it is.“It is doubtful the Navy or any DOD related agency could perform this kind of investigation with any objectivity,” he said.The case of Guantánamo Bay would not be the first instance that civilians have struggled to hold officials accountable in cases of possible cancer clusters. Between the 1950s and 1980s, Marines and their family used and drank water contaminated with toxins at the Marine base camp Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina. With slow responses from officials and neglect to inform the residents of the dangers years later, studies have found that those stationed at Camp Lejeune had a greater risk of dying from certain types of cancers. Similarly, like Gibbs, those affected have pushed for studies to undercover the extent of the damage to the residents.Although it’s still uncertain whether health officials can determine whether Guántanamo exhibits the characteristics of a cluster, the complaint appears to be only one in a series of efforts by personnel at the camp to find answers and assign accountability.But as we read this story, it is important to remember not only the hard-won roots of this movement but also the intense difficulties there still are in proving the existence of cancer clusters even when the outcomes are devastatingly obvious.—Shafaq HasanShare8TweetShareEmail8 Shares
Share5TweetShareEmail5 Sharescarbon emissions / Sheri JoOctober 16, 2016; New York TimesThis past Saturday, negotiators from more than 170 countries reached a momentous, legally binding accord to reduce the use of a pervasive planet-warming chemical used in air conditioners and refrigerators. The agreement requires the consent of the world’s major chemical companies to use alternatives to the coolant called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.The Paris agreement involved nearly every country voluntarily pledging to cut emissions of carbon dioxide from the fossil fuels that power vehicles, electric plants and factories. This agreement on the use of HFCs is enforceable, including targets, timetables, and trade sanctions to punish cheaters. This accord is happening just as poorer countries with rising incomes can begin to afford air conditioning. Rich countries will help finance the transition for poor countries.How could this be? Capitalism is not known for altruism or environmentalism. The short answer is that companies care about nature when caring means profit. No protesters chained themselves to factory gates to compel this action. Corporate leaders saw the necessity for change and championed this new direction that mitigates climate change. This accord, seven years in the making, results from the alignment of economic forces with conservation, and corporate survival instincts. The chemical companies are not suddenly thinking more about conservation than they are about commerce. Environmental groups do not have an exclusive on saving the planet so long as becoming green is profitable.The New York Times offers a more nuanced answer.“This is an area where we are aligned with the environmental benefits,” Kenneth Gayer, vice president of fluorine products at Honeywell, said in an interview. “We anticipated the need for these regulations before people were even talking about global warming. Now, the world is going to use alternatives in a big way.”Other options are now available, including systems that use propane or ammonia, and companies throughout the supply chain are racing to adopt them. Coca-Cola, for example, has put more than 1.8 million refrigerated vending machines and other HFC-free equipment into service.Still, some environmentalists caution against what they see as excessive influence by the corporate sector in shaping the way forward for cooling technologies.This new accord is an amendment to (and maintains the legal force of) the 1987 Montreal Protocol focused on banning ozone-depleting coolants called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. This is a new mandatory treaty; companies and governments are obligated to comply.Here are Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks, made just before the passage of the agreement at the Plenary of the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.If only the oil companies could find an economic reason to embrace alternatives to fossil fuels, maybe they would listen to their researchers and join most everyone else in trying to mitigate climate change, or at least accept the risks of not doing so.—James SchafferShare5TweetShareEmail5 Shares
Share45Tweet2Share8Email55 SharesExcerpt of “Wheelchair” by Will JacksonJune 22, 2017; DCistAccording to DCist, after the new Senate Republican health care bill was unveiled this morning, revealing serious cuts to Medicaid, a total of 43 people were arrested outside of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office.The protestors, many of whom had disabilities, were with the activist group ADAPT, and the action appropriately took the form of a “die in.” The group explained that Medicaid lets them live with relative liberty rather than confined to their homes or a healthcare facility.Police dragged the protesters from the scene, including those in wheelchairs or using medical devices.Meanwhile, Trump was heralding what we hope will be a very transient victory at the White House. “Obamacare is dead, and we’re putting a plan out today that is going to be negotiated,” he said. “We’d love to have some Democrats’ support, but they’re obstructionists.” We wonder if he understands what real lifelong obstructions are.ADAPT’s statement provides some indications:“The American Health Care Act caps and significantly cuts Medicaid which will greatly reduce access to medical care and home and community based services for elderly and disabled Americans who will either die or be forced into institutions,” said Bruce Darling, an ADAPT organizer taking part in the protest. “Our lives and liberty shouldn’t be stolen to give a tax break to the wealthy. That’s truly un-American.”“Not only will AHCA take away our freedom,” said Dawn Russell, an ADAPT organizer from Colorado. “That lost freedom will also cost Americans much more money. The nursing facilities that people will be forced into are much more expensive than community-based services that AHCA would cut.”In 2012, the National Council on Disability (an independent federal agency that makes policy recommendations to the President, Congress and federal agencies) reported that States spent upwards of $300,000 more per person serving disabled people in institutions each year than they would spend providing equivalent services in the community. The protest falls on the 18th anniversary of Olmstead v. LC, the 1999 Supreme Court Ruling which first recognized disabled people’s right to live in the community.ADAPT organizer Nancy Salandra of Pennsylvania was quick to note the connection between that case and the AHCA. “We fought so hard to have our right live in the community recognized and here we are 18 years later and we are still fighting for our freedom from incarceration.”The charges against those arrested were for crowding, obstructing, or incommoding: “Many of the demonstrators, as part of their protest activities, removed themselves from their wheelchairs and lay themselves on the floor, obstructing passage through the hallway and into nearby offices. U.S. Capitol Police officers warned the demonstrators to cease their unlawful activities or be faced with arrest.”—Ruth McCambridgeShare45Tweet2Share8Email55 Shares
ShareTweet10ShareEmail10 SharesInternational Committee of the Red Cross [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsApril 15, 2019; New YorkerIn the New Yorker, Ben Taub tells the story of Mohamedou Salahi, a person once deemed the US military’s “highest-value detainee” at Guantánamo, but who was released after 14 years in captivity without charge in October 2016. When taken into custody, Salahi was 30. Salahi penned the book Guantánamo Diary while in captivity.The story of Guantánamo is about many things, but one of its most important effects has been to chisel away at US democratic values. Guantánamo is largely ignored these days. At its post 9/11 peak, it housed about 780 prisoners; today, 40 remain.But the damage to civil society remains. As Kristine Huskey, now a law professor at the University of Arizona, wrote in the University of New Hampshire Law Review in 2011, “In a pre-9/11 world, a ‘Guantánamo’ and the idea of ‘detention without trial’ would have been seen as decidedly un-American and a violation of our democratic values. Over the last decade, however, Guantánamo” and the practice of long-term detention without trial for terrorism suspects (or, “preventive detention”), have evolved into institutions of American society that are now perfectly acceptable, indeed desirable to some, and of little concern to many.”Of course, a nation founded on the practice of slavery and genocide against Native Americans—and which imprisons people at a larger per capita rate than anywhere else in the world, and where that imprisoned population is disproportionately of color—is hardly a paragon of democratic virtue. But Guantánamo is important both for its high profile and because it helped legitimate holding people in custody without charge indefinitely. A thread can be traced from the indefinite detentions at Guantánamo to those of immigrants today, a practice upheld by the US Supreme Court just a month ago.As Taub reminds us, Guantánamo is a legacy of the US occupying Cuba in 1898; afterward, the US insisted on leasing an island base from Cuba for a trivial $4,085 a year. (For decades, Cuba has called for an end to the lease and has left US checks uncashed.) Salahi provides a detailed account of the conditions he faced there:The cell—better, the box—was cooled down to the point that I was shaking most of the time. I was forbidden from seeing the light of the day…for the next 70 days, I wouldn’t know the sweetness of sleeping.Salahi was also subjected to 20-hour-long interrogations. “You know, when you just fall asleep and the saliva starts to come out of your mouth?” Salahi explains. “No prayers, no information about the direction of Mecca. No showers for weeks. Force-feeding during the daylight hours of Ramadan, when Muslims are supposed to fast.”Salahi had a sciatic-nerve condition, which interrogators exploited. A Red Cross delegation that visited Guantánamo reported that “medical files are being used by interrogators to gain information in developing an interrogation plan,” notes Taub.Salahi was groped by female interrogators and was threatened with rape. He was denied food some days and forced to vomit on others. He was beaten and at least seven of his ribs were broken. He was falsely told that his mother was in custody and would be brought to Guantánamo.“Had I done what they accused me of, I would have relieved myself on day one,” Salahi wrote in his diary. “But the problem is that you cannot just admit to something you haven’t done; you need to deliver the details,” he added. After countless hours of questioning though, Salahi writes he had “a good idea as to what wild theories the government had about me.”Taub details some of Salahi’s “confessions”:“I came to Canada with a plan to blow up the CN Tower in Toronto,” Salahi wrote.… He listed his accomplices and added, “Thanks to Canadian intel, the plan was discovered and sentenced to failure.”[…]He drew organizational charts, with the names and operational roles of key figures, and supplied intelligence on jihadi cells and safe houses all over Europe and West Africa.”Salahi figured he ended up in Guantánamo because of a similar false confession. Salahi writes, “I felt so bad, and kept praying silently, ‘Nothing’s gonna happen to you, dear brother.’”For Salahi, cooperation brought “comfort items,” including a pillow, soap, towels, books, a television, a PlayStation, an old laptop, a prayer cap, and prayer beads. Taub adds that, “One day, Salahi started requesting paper from his guards. A court ruling had given Guantánamo detainees had access to legal representation, and so, over months, Salahi drafted a diary of his detention in letters to his lawyers, Nancy Hollander, Sylvia Royce, and Theresa Duncan—466 pages.”In 2012, Salahi’s lawyers won a seven-year legal battle to declassify his diary. The scanned pages were sent to Larry Siems, a writer and a human-rights advocate, who edited the manuscript, which was published in 2015.Even after Salahi’s release to his homeland of Mauritius in October 2016, his freedom remains limited. He’s still denied a passport. Salahi needs gallbladder surgery; a German hospital says it will pay for both the surgery and a year’s rehabilitation, but he can’t travel there.Speaking by Skype at an Amnesty International gathering in Washington, DC, Salahi observed, “Everything that happened to me—everything I witnessed in Guantánamo Bay—happened in the name of democracy, in the name of security, in the name of the American people.”The message the US sends the world through Guantánamo, Salahi says, is “that democracy does not work—that when you need to get down and dirty, you need a dictatorship.” It’s a message reinforced by the many US practices that fail to respect human rights at home and abroad. Guantánamo, in short, reminds us of the violence hidden beneath supposed US democratic practice.—Steve DubbShareTweet10ShareEmail10 Shares
Netflix announced a programming deal with US producer and distributor Lionsgate today for its soon-to-launch UK and Ireland service.The agreement, which gives the content streaming and DVD service exclusive rights to Lionsgate TV series and movies in the first pay TV window, was widely reported late last year, but only confirmed today. The deal covers new Lionsgate titles The Expendables 2 and The Hunger Games and library fare including Reservoir Dogs and Saw.
The EBU has extended its deal with Eutelsat with a new multiple-transponder contract on two satellites.The renewal of four transponders on Eutelsat 7A up to 2016 and the further renewal of four more transponders on Eutelsat 10A will support the association’s network that serves 85 national media organisations in 56 countries in and around Europe.Graham Warren, director of network at the EBU, said: “The EBU and Eutelsat have agreed the renewal of a long-lasting relationship. The EBU was the first customer of Eutelsat in broadcast services in the eighties, developing a relationship which has brought success for both parties over so many years. In the fast and ever-changing broadcast technologies world, this renewal is the premise of further successes for the EBU.”
Satellite operator SES has signed a capacity agreement with Romantis, a global provider of satellite capacity and networking equipment, to support connectivity needs across Russia and central Asia.Romantis will use 24MHz of Ku-band capacity on SES’ NSS-12 satellite at 57° East to deliver various communication services across the region. Romantis offers bundled capacity and VSAT hardware packages.“We are pleased that Romantis has decided to come on board NSS-12. Romantis leads the way in developing innovative satellite solutions. SES’ premium satellite capacity will support Romantis in implementing its global expansion plans. We look forward to establishing a long-term working relationship with them,” said Norbert Hölzle, senior vice-president commercial Europe of SES.
Xstream has announced a white-label solution for Smart TV apps that covers both connected TVs and PlayStation and Xbox games consoles.Xstream has developed a Smart TV app that it says can be customised to fit any company’s branding and design guidelines, as well as any need for special changes. Xstream says it has already optimised the user experience and implemented DRM, APIs.“We’re proud to be amongst the first companies worldwide to offer a white label solutions for Smart TV apps, reducing cost and time to market for customers wanting to reach their audience on Smart TVs without having to pay a fortune, invest massive time and resources to get started or having to spend months defining technical requirements,” said Frank Thorup, founder and CEO of Xstream.
Peter Dorr, Managing Director of Strategic Marketing, Liberty Global
NHK is revamping its NHK World TV service with a raft of new content.The Japanese pubcaster said today that there will be a greater number of original programmes on the international channel and it will move into new categories of programming including movies and classical Japanese theatre. There will also be more extensive news coverage.NHK said that the number of regular programmes on NHK World TV will increase from 34 to 43 with 80% of the shows original productions.There will also be Japanese movies for the first time and a movie magazine series J-Flicks.Kabuki Kool, a half hour show about the world of Kabuki, the traditional form of Japanese theatre will also run on the channel. Its news coverage will be extended to incorporate regular economy and business segments from New York.Other new shows include Japanology Plus, a half hour show about traditional and contemporary Japanese culture and Asia Music Network in which well-known Japanese artists talk about the Asian music scene.