Putin says ousted minister can get new post

first_img Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Top Stories Quick workouts for men He says, “We aren’t in 1937,” referring to the peak year of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s purges.Some observers believe the dismissal was likely rooted in a battle over 20 trillion rubles ($635 billion) that the Kremlin plans to spend on weapons through 2020. Serdyukov was demanding higher quality and cheaper prices, angering Kremlin-connected industry leaders.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daycenter_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix MOSCOW (AP) – Russia’s President Vladimir Putin says his sacked former defense minister isn’t facing charges and may get a new official job.Putin unexpectedly fired Anatoly Serdyukov this month amid a military corruption scandal focused on the suspicious sale of military assets.Putin said Friday that Serdyukov lost his job over “doubts about his ability to oversee property issues.” But he added that Serdyukov would not be blacklisted. Sponsored Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Comments   Share   last_img read more

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first_img Comments   Share   Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires – / 26 The last time the Cardinals were 9-1, the team called Chicago home, Harry S. Truman was the president and the Phoenix metropolitan area was still two decades away from landing its first professional sports franchise.Well, it took 66 years, but the Cards are back in the rarefied air of a 9-1 record after their hard-fought 14-6 win over the Detroit Lions last Sunday at University of Phoenix. Drew Stanton, making the first start of his second stint as Arizona’s starting quarterback this season, threw two first-quarter touchdown passes and the defense held the Lions out of the end zone to push the Cardinals’ winning streak to six. Even some of the Stanton naysayers, who believed Arizona’s inclusion in the group of true Super Bowl contenders died when Carson Palmer blew out his ACL, have given the Cardinals credit (looking at you, Shutdown Corner.)Here’s a look at the Cardinals’ spot in some of the leading Week 12 NFL power rankings from around the country. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Top Stories Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more

Rep Sheppard introduces plan to help decrease car insurance costs

first_img Categories: News,Sheppard News 19Apr Rep. Sheppard introduces plan to help decrease car insurance costs State Rep. Jason Sheppard of Temperance today introduced legislation to help drivers and families financially saddled by Michigan’s exorbitant automobile insurance rates.“Michigan residents deserve to have choices when it comes to automobile insurance so they have the opportunity to lower costs for their families,” Sheppard said. “When we’re dictated what the level of coverage is instead of given a marketplace of varying rates and options, that is a problem which must be addressed.”Sheppard’s legislation will allow consumers to choose a level of coverage, up to the current standard of unlimited coverage, and create a fraud authority to address unlicensed drivers and other illegal behavior.One of the key reasons for the high cost of Michigan auto insurance is a mandate that forces drivers to purchase unlimited lifetime medical benefits, the most generous benefits in the country.Sheppard’s bill makes reforms aimed at decreasing insurance rates for the state as a whole and for Michigan families.“My constituents and residents across the state have made it clear that reforming Michigan’s auto insurance system is a priority to them,” Sheppard said. “Since I came to Lansing, I’ve made it my priority to work on this. We need to have automobile insurance on the same level as health and home benefit plans, where we have options for coverage. Let the consumers choose what is best for themselves and their families.”House Bill 4488 has been assigned to the House Insurance Committee for consideration.last_img read more

Rep VanderWall Proposal to lower auto insurance rates step in right direction

first_img Categories: News,VanderWall News 26Sep Rep. VanderWall: Proposal to lower auto insurance rates step in right direction State Rep. Curt VanderWall today attended the announcement of a bipartisan coalition to reform Michigan’s broken auto no-fault insurance system and dramatically cut costs for drivers.VanderWall is reviewing legislation introduced today that will lower the cost of auto insurance in Michigan – which now has the highest rates in the nation – by offering motorists more coverage options, fighting fraud and reining in medical costs.“Everywhere I go in northern Michigan, people tell me the same thing – auto insurance costs far too much. We lead the nation in auto insurance costs, and that’s the sort of thing you don’t want to be No. 1 in,” said VanderWall, of Ludington. “We’ve heard these concerns loud and clear, and we’re committed to doing something about it. This proposal is a first step as we work toward lower insurance costs for drivers in Michigan.”Michigan’s average full coverage auto insurance premium cost – nearly $2,400 per year – is more than $1,000 above the national average and twice as high as those in neighboring states.The new bipartisan plan continues benefits for Michiganders already receiving lifetime health care after a catastrophic traffic accident. The plan also gives motorists the option to continue to buy unlimited personal injury protection coverage, or buy more affordable alternative coverage plans.The legislation:Provides a guaranteed rate reduction for drivers who choose certain coverage plans alternative to the unlimited plan;Gives individuals the choice on the extent of PIP coverage as part of their auto insurance. Choice levels include $250,000, $500,000 or unlimited;Allows seniors age 62 or older with lifetime health care benefits the option to opt out of PIP coverage to avoid the current double taxation;Establishes fee schedules and attendant care limits to lower medical costs related to auto injuries;Helps the state ensure insurance companies are complying with state law, and creates a fraud authority to address fraudulent claims;Provides a state review of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) to make sure motorists are not overpaying for insurance; andAddresses attorney fee costs and unfounded lawsuits while eliminating attorney conflict of interests with medical providers.VanderWall is vice chair of the House Insurance Committee, which will take up the legislation for further review.#####last_img read more

Bletsch family Hughes testify to require victim statements be heard

first_img Categories: Hughes News,News Rebekah Bletsch’s mother and sister today joined state Rep. Holly Hughes to testify before the House Law and Justice Committee on the need to require anyone convicted of a crime to hear impact statements by victims or their families during a sentencing hearing.Rep. Hughes’ legislation was inspired by a Muskegon County murder trial where the convicted murderer Jeffrey Willis requested to leave his Dec. 18 sentencing hearing before Rebekah Bletsch’s family made their statements. Current state law has no specific legal requirement that anyone convicted of a crime be forced to listen to statements, as it is left to a judge’s discretion.“Rebekah Bletsch’s family deserved to be heard and this legislation requires that everyone convicted within the Michigan legal system absolutely must listen to how their actions affected victims,” Hughes said. “There is no way the monster convicted in the Rebekah Bletsch case should be able to dictate court policy.”Jessica Josephson and Debra Reamer, the sister and mother of Rebekah Bletsch, also spoke before the committee. They detailed the events during Willis’ sentencing as well as the necessity of victims being heard.“A part of my grieving process was taken from me in a horrible way,” Josephson said. “What is the point of an impact statement if I can’t speak it to the person who has impacted me and destroyed my family? No other family should have to feel their words and their heartache don’t matter. Victims have a right to be heard and express their feelings to the individuals who caused it.”Hughes’ legislation will update the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim Rights Act, which set the procedures currently used in Michigan courtrooms for protection of victims. The bill will require the defendant be in attendance for sentencing unless the individual is determined by the court to be a safety risk or providing a disruption.“The victims deserve to be heard in all cases,” Hughes said. “A murderer robbed the Bletsch family of a key step in the healing process. No family should be prevented from their rights, especially over an individual convicted of a crime.”House Bill 5407 remains under consideration by the committee. If enacted, HB 5407 will be named the Rebekah Bletsch law, in the victim’s memory. 06Feb Bletsch family, Hughes testify to require victim statements be heardlast_img read more

Rep Kahle Car insurance reforms guaranteeing savings for Michigan motorists now law

first_img30May Rep. Kahle: Car insurance reforms guaranteeing savings for Michigan motorists now law Changes in no-fault system will save drivers hundreds of dollars per yearCar insurance reform strongly supported by Rep. Bronna Kahle was signed into state law today, guaranteeing significantly lower costs for all drivers in Michigan.The bipartisan reforms – approved by Kahle and the Legislature after weeks of thorough deliberation – give drivers more choice on personal injury protection coverage, combat fraudulent claims and stop price gouging on medical services for car accident victims. Many Michiganders, including Lenawee County families, will save hundreds of dollars or more each year.Michigan has had the most expensive car insurance in the nation mainly because it’s the only state mandating unlimited lifetime health care coverage through car insurance, with no corresponding cap on what medical providers may charge accident victims. The revised law will provide more affordable options for motorists while allowing those who currently use the unlimited coverage to keep it, and those who want it in the future to continue buying it.“Be it office hours, door-to-door visits, letters and phone calls or at the grocery store, I have heard drivers’ concerns about the excessive cost of car insurance,” said Kahle, of Adrian. “I’ve listened and am pleased to say we got long-overdue no-fault reforms across the finish line. Friends, families and neighbors in Lenawee County and across the state will finally see the rate relief they have demanded and deserve. There will be one less burdensome, hidden tax squandering the money of hard-working Michigan families and vulnerable seniors on fixed incomes.”Beginning in July 2020, many drivers will be able to opt out of personal injury protection altogether, including seniors with retiree health coverage such as Medicare and those with health insurance policies that cover car accident-related injuries. Others will be able to continue with unlimited coverage or choose PIP limits of $250,000 or $500,000. A $50,000 option will be available for drivers on Medicaid.Other reforms include:Non-driving factors, such as ZIP codes, home ownership and educational level, can’t be used to determine rates.An anti-fraud unit will help crack down on those abusing the system, which should help further lower car insurance rates.A fee schedule will be established and phased in over three years for medical providers, reining in runaway costs that result from medical care providers charging far more to treat car accident victims than other patients. Categories: Kahle Newslast_img read more

Resettlement Nonprofits Have a Core Role in Local Economic Development

first_imgShare28TweetShare9Email37 SharesDecember 31, 2016; National Public Radio, “nprED”Imagine you’ve spent a decade living in a refugee camp, having been forced out of your home, and your country by circumstances beyond your control. Your house is now a tent, surrounded by thousands of other tents also full of displaced people. The crowd, with its noises and smells, is overwhelming. Your water comes from a dirty pail and your food, such as it is, from a communal feeding station pot under yet another tent. Your possessions amount only to what you were able to carry when you fled your village. You can no longer remember the faces of the family members you left behind.Then, one day, you leave the camp and board a plane—your first ever flight. When you land, many hours later, you’re in a major metropolitan city in yet another foreign country. You barely speak the language or know how to find your one piece of luggage, never mind how to get to the address of a caseworker you’ve never met.As you stand alone in the middle of the airport arrivals hall, what is going through your mind? For Edward Murinzi, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose story is similar to that above, those thoughts were ones of fear: “How will I start? How will I manage?”Edward was lucky. He happened to meet a friendly NPR journalist at Reagan International Airport, who helped him find his bag and contact his caseworker. Some refugees who find themselves arriving in Chicago are also lucky; they have the assistance of the Pan-African Association, where people like Claire Mukundente—herself a refugee—are on hand to help them learn the basics of life in their new country.Conquering these basics is essential to helping new arrivals deal with simple day-to-day functioning, things those of us born in America wouldn’t give a second thought. Mukundente says food is the focus of many early lessons. Imagine going from standing in line for rations to wandering the overstocked aisles of a modern supermarket, for instance. She goes shopping with newcomers and helps them learn how to make healthy choices and to store and cook what they buy. Many refugees have spent so many years in camps that everyday appliances like ovens and refrigerators are unfamiliar.Mukundente and her colleagues also help with using public transportation, opening a bank account, and understanding societal norms and cultural quirks the rest of us take for granted. These, says Murinzi, three months after his arrival in Washington D.C., are the “invisible lessons.” For him, the concept of time was the most important of these. He quickly realized that “time was paramount to every success in America,” a particularly steep learning curve after two decades of waiting in a Ugandan refugee camp.Other nonprofits, such as Lutheran Services in America and World Relief, provide similar assistance to refugees and asylees, often relying on individual volunteers and community groups to provide the help immigrants need to integrate successfully. They fill in the knowledge gaps that government-funded assistance doesn’t cover and provide a robust support system, helping to maintain community stability and foster appreciation for the skills and experience the new arrivals bring with them.Helping these new residents to adapt and feel welcome isn’t just humanitarian best practice. The economic and cultural contributions of immigrants are vital to maintaining America’s economic vitality and its rich cultural diversity, which are closely linked. Diverse, dynamic cities attract more people, new businesses and—as a result—more money. As a 2015 federal government report on immigrant and refugee integration points out, immigrants increase the country’s labor force and customer base and are more entrepreneurial than native-born Americans, readily contributing their creativity and innovation to society. They pay taxes that contribute to everything from the nation’s infrastructure to the care of its senior citizens, and their children and grandchildren grow up to do the same. Clearly, investing in their success is investing in America’s success.—Melinda CrosbyShare28TweetShare9Email37 Shareslast_img read more

An Ugly Profiteering Twist to the Sackler Story Does It Take Eight

first_imgShare48Tweet11ShareEmail59 SharesJenny Mealing [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsApril 1, 2019; New York TimesAs NPQ has noted, lawsuits brought by Massachusetts and New York have named eight Sackler family members (in addition to a range of corporations) as defendants. These are, details the Times, “Kathe, Mortimer, Richard, Jonathan and Ilene Sackler Lefcourt—children of either Mortimer or Raymond Sackler—along with Theresa Sackler, the elder Mortimer’s widow; Beverly Sackler, Raymond’s widow; and David Sackler, a grandson of Raymond.” All told, the Sacklers now directly face lawsuits filed by more than 600 cities, counties, and Native American nations. Their company, Purdue Pharma, faces over 1,600 lawsuits.The Sacklers, the New York Times remind us, are “a far-flung billionaire family that has a network of trusts and companies in the United States and abroad. Their philanthropic gifts have built namesake wings housing the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and oriental antiquities at the Louvre in Paris, as well as a library at the University of Oxford, and a scientific institute at Columbia University.” As of 2016, Forbes estimated their wealth at $13 billion. Last month, three museums—the National Portrait Gallery in London, London’s Tate Modern, and New York’s Guggenheim Museum—refused Sackler donations, and the Sackler Trust has said it will suspend new giving to avoid being a “distraction.”Writing in the Times, Danny Hakim, Roni Caryn Rabin, and William K. Rashbaum highlight one more aspect of the Sackler story: an effort, launched in 2014 and codenamed Project Tango, that proposed that Purdue and the Sacklers could profit not only off the sale of OxyContin, but by selling drugs intended to help addicts wean themselves from OxyContin.“The business potential of adding addiction treatment to the mix was illustrated in internal company charts and diagrams,” the Times explains. “Pain treatment and addiction are naturally linked,” noted one Project Tango document in the New York complaint. A funnel shows a fat end labeled “pain treatment” with a narrow end labeled “opioid addiction treatment.”[Source: New York court filing]The New York court documents also contend that a slide at a Purdue board meeting attended by Richard and Kathe Sackler advocated for Project Tango as follows, “It is an attractive market. Large unmet need for vulnerable, underserved, and stigmatized patient population suffering from substance abuse, dependence, and addiction.”The lawsuit adds:Defendant Kathe Sackler and Purdue’s Project Tango team reviewed findings that the “market” of people addicted to opioids had doubled from 2009 to 2014. Kathe and the staff found that the national catastrophe they caused provided an excellent compound annual growth rate (“CAGR”): “Opioid addiction (other than heroin) has grown by ~20 percent CAGR from 2000 to 2010.” […]In February 2015, staff presented Kathe Sackler’s work on Project Tango to Purdue’s board. The plan was for a joint venture controlled by the Sacklers to sell the addiction medication suboxone and would result in the Sacklers’ acquisition of the “market lead [] in the addiction medicine space.”“Purdue temporarily abandoned plans to pursue Project Tango in 2014,” Hakim and his colleagues write, “but revived the idea two years later, this time pursuing a plan to sell naloxone, an overdose-reversing drug, according to the Massachusetts filing. A few months later, in December 2016, Richard, Jonathan and Mortimer Sackler discussed buying a company that used implantable drug pumps to treat opioid addiction.”The Sacklers, for their part, deny the allegations. The Times notes that a statement issued by “some of the Sacklers named in the suits” contends that “no board member proposed Tango or authored any documents in support of it.”—Steve DubbShare48Tweet11ShareEmail59 Shareslast_img read more

Maker Studios has turned down Relativity Medias U

first_imgMaker Studios has turned down Relativity Media’s US$1 billion (€723 million)-plus approach in favour of its existing agreement to join the fold at The Walt Disney Company.Relativity yesterday attempted to hijack Disney’s deal to buy YouTube channel operator Maker with its own offer ahead of a Maker shareholder meeting today, but this has proven unsuccessful.“As per the announcement made on March 24, Maker Studios has entered into a merger agreement with The Walt Disney Company,” a Maker spokesperson said a widely issued statement.“The agreement has been approved by Maker Studios’ board of directors and the majority of its shareholders and is expected to close in the next few weeks, subject to regulatory approval.”Maker’s offer was initially thought to be of a similar value to Disney’s, but US reports now say the offer was for an initial US$525 million, plus US$500 million in target-related extras and US$75 million in order to keep key executives.Disney’s offer is for an initial US$500 million, plus up to US$450 million in target-related fees.The spokesperson also noted the legal motion Maker co-founder and former CEO Danny Zappin brought to stop the Disney deal had been denied by the Superior Curt of California. Zappin’s lawsuit over his exit from Maker nearly a year ago is separate and remains on going.Zappin founded Maker in 2009 alongside Shay Butler, Lisa Donovan, Scott Katz, Kassem Gharaibeh and Ben Donovan.last_img read more

Entertainment giant Viacom has confirmed it is to

first_imgEntertainment giant Viacom has confirmed it is to provide 22 launch channels for Sony Corporation’s upcoming US cloud-TV service.The deal marks the first time Viacom channels have been offered as live internet TV channels via a VOD service. Terms of the agreement were not revealed, but such a significant deal would not have come cheap.At least 22 Viacom channels will be on the service at launch as a result. These are BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, Spike, TV Land and VH1, BET Gospel, Centric, Logo, CMT Pure Country, MTV Hits, MTV James, mtvU, Palladia, TeenNick, Vh1 Classic and Vh1 Soul.Sony’s service will also get hundreds of hours of TV Everywhere programming from the likes of Nick, MTV, Comedy Central and BET available via Viacom websites and apps; and Viacom’s full VOD offering.“Viacom always strives to create transformational opportunities that combine consumer value and technological innovation,” said Philippe Dauman, president and CEO, Viacom. “Given our young, tech-savvy audiences, our networks are essential for any new distribution platform, and we’re excited to be among the many programmers that will help power Sony’s new service and advance a new era for television.”Sony has been planning the cloud service for some time, though details remain scarce. The Viacom deal was first mooted in US trades last year. Further announcements from Sony will come in the “near future”, the firm said.“Our new cloud-based TV service will combine the live TV content people love most about cable with the dynamic experience they have come to expect from our network,” said Andrew House, group executive, network entertainment business, Sony.“Viacom’s award-winning networks are a perfect match for our new service, ensuring that our customers will be able to access the shows they love on their favorite devices, when and how they choose.”Sony claims there are more than 75 million internet-connected Sony devices in US homes.last_img read more

Streaming services from broadcasters and pay TV op

first_imgStreaming services from broadcasters and pay TV operators are giving Netflix and Amazon Prime Video a run for their money in France, Germany and the UK, according to new research.Data from research house App Annie analysing monthly active users shows YouTube is the most popular destination for video streaming in the three major European territories.In France streaming services from Orange, SFR and Canal+ – TV d’Orange, SFR TV and myCanal – all ranked higher than Netflix, which has struggled to establish itself in the country, only just making the top ten and placing ninth in the ranking.In Germany the TV Spielfilm service was second behind YouTube, with Amazon Prime Video third, pubcaster ZDF’s ZDF-App fourth. Netflix was fifth, ahead of Twitch and pay TV platform Sky’s Sky Go.In the UK the BBC iPlayer streaming and catch-up service ranked second. Netflix was fourth and Amazon did not feature in the top ten.“TV-first companies such as Sky, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have gained a particularly strong beachhead in the UK,” App Annie noted.“Early entry into the streaming market and strong promotion via their existing networks have given them a powerful first-mover advantage.”In terms of how users access mobile video, App Annie said mobile – meaning smartphone or tablet – accounted for 46% of usage.last_img read more

YouTube has unveiled details of its muchanticipat

first_imgYouTube has unveiled details of its much-anticipated television streaming service, describing it as “live TV designed for the YouTube generation”.YouTube TV is set to go live “soon” in the US with a line-up of more than 40 channels, including the biggest US broadcast networks.The service will be available across devices, includes a cloud DVR with “no storage limits” for recording TV shows, and will cost US$35 per month without commitments – substantially cheaper than a typical US cable subscription.Live TV streaming will be available from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, regional sports networks and “dozens” more cable networks including MSNBC, USA, Disney Channel and Fox News.Access to YouTube’s homegrown SVOD service, YouTube Red, is also included as part of the offering and users can add Showtime or Fox Soccer Plus to their line-up for an additional charge.“We’re bringing the best of the YouTube experience to live TV,” said YouTube product management director, Christian Oestlien. “To do this, we’ve worked closely with our network and affiliate partners to evolve TV for the way we watch today.”Announcing details of the service, YouTube said that membership comes with six accounts, each with its own unique recommendations and personal DVR.Users can record as many shows as they want simultaneously and each will be available to access for up to nine months.“Consumers have made it clear that they want live TV without all the hassle,” said Oestlien. “They don’t want to worry about their DVR filling up. They don’t want to miss a great game or their favourite show because they’re on the go. They tell us they want TV to be more like YouTube.”YouTube TV will be available soon in the largest markets in the US before expanding to cover more American cities. YouTube has not announced any plans for an international version of the service.last_img read more

Total virtual reality revenues will reach US72 b

first_imgTotal virtual reality revenues will reach US$7.2 billion globally by the end of 2017, according to new research by Greenlight Insights.The virtual and augmented market intelligence company said it anticipates modest industry growth in the short term, but expects the VR industry to reach US$74.8 billion in global revenues and become a “major global marketplace” by 2021.Of this year’s anticipated VR revenues, Greenlight said it expects head-mounted displays to account for US$4.7 billion. By 2021 it said it expects revenues to be driven in part by the increased spending in several enterprise sectors and in the location-based entertainment industry.“We saw mixed results in the global VR industry in 2016 — initial sales volume by some high-end manufacturers didn’t quite live up to the hype, while PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR, and low-cost headsets continued to gain traction,” said Greenlight Insights CEO, Clifton Dawson.“There are turbulent times ahead, but our analysis points to VR achieving critical mass in many markets by 2019, building to a considerable global marketplace five years from now.”last_img read more

OTT technology outfit Vewd has teamed up with chip

first_imgOTT technology outfit Vewd has teamed up with chipset manufacturer HiSilicon Technologies to forge a global strategic partnership to develop turnkey OTT software solutions direct on HiSilicon chipsets.Device manufacturers that choose HiSilicon’s Vewd-enabled chipsets will benefit from a user experience that is available automatically and encompasses content search and discovery along with a choice of 1,500 apps from multiple markets.Aneesh RajaramVewd handles contracting, certifying, delivering and maintaining these TV apps so they work on devices using HiSilicon chipsets.The company said that driver-level integration means OEMs have an OTT platform optimised to take advantage of the capabilities of HiSilicon chipsets.“Our silicon partner program is the hallmark of Vewd’s continued success in this space. We’re constantly thinking about how we can better serve our OEM customers and we find ourselves increasing our commitment to pre-integrated solutions on chipsets. By working closely with HiSilicon and making these significant investments, Vewd plays its part in mitigating launch risk for OEMs and better serving the overall OTT value chain with high-performance solutions,” said Aneesh Rajaram, CEO, Vewd.“Partnering with Vewd to deliver these solutions on our TV chipsets is a great win for us and our addressable OEM market. Our new TV chipsets push the limits on performance, and as we aggressively expand in the global market it was important to work with Vewd, the world-leader in streaming television. Investing in this partnership means we can offer manufacturers the most secure path to market, without challenging and expensive integration work” said Kun Luo, general manager of TV product line, HiSilicon.last_img read more

Olie Baumann senior technical specialist video p

first_imgOlie Baumann, senior technical specialist, video processing, Ericsson Media Solutions, looks at the importance of social media to VR. The consumption of media has always been a sociable experience.From live global events such as the first man on the moon or the fall of the Berlin Wall to sports events like the Olympics or local football matches, we often watch together. Anytime, anywhere, on-demand viewing now increasingly takes place on personal mobile devices making watching TV a more individual, fundamentally less sociable activity. At first glance, the head mounted devices used for virtual reality (VR) take this personal isolation a step further. I would argue, however, that this emerging way of consuming media may, in fact, offer TV providers a way of creating new social TV experiences in the future.VR is gaining groundAlthough it’s still early days, VR is starting to gain consumer acceptance. What started as the reserve of the dedicated computer gamer is now spreading to other forms of entertainment. Driven in part by the ubiquity of tablet and mobile phone devices with integrated sensors and sufficient processing power to deliver a high quality immersive experience, VR is starting to reach the mass market. The latest Ericsson ConsumerLab TV and Media report, which gathered quantitative data from 20,000 online interviews from people in 13 markets, found that around 10 percent of consumers are already using a VR device, and over 25 percent are planning to get one. Furthermore, 30 percent of consumers are intending to use VR for video content within the next five years.Overcoming the reality of technological barriersAlthough we often associate VR with strange looking goggles, the use cases are in fact much more varied. For example, 360º video that allows the user to orientate their view within the scene could be displayed on a large living room TV or tablet. Furthermore, a tablet or mobile phone could be used as a second screen showing 360º content in synchronization with the TV broadcast. Imagine sitting with friends watching sports with the live broadcast on the TV as it is today but with additional, synchronised 360º content on phones and tablets. Discussions around the best angle to view a goal or the best driver to ride along with can only add to the sociability of the experience.At IBC 2017, Ericsson worked with Sky and 360º video specialist Tiledmedia to create demonstrations showing how VR and 360 videos can be synchronized with Premier League soccer and Formula 3 motor racing content using VR headsets, tablets and traditional TV screens. The demo uses Viewport-Adaptive streaming technology along with Ericsson’s HEVC software encoding technology to dramatically reduce bandwidth consumption and optimize the video quality for each device.The demonstration highlighted the work taking place to overcome one of the biggest challenges of 360º video; creating platforms that allow content producers to capitalize on the untapped potential without having to dramatically increase production complexity and costs.A unified approach to making VR a realityThe production of 360º content is still at an early stage but already seems to have captured the minds of creative storytellers. The format poses production challenges, but overcoming these give an opportunity for innovation. Placing the 360º camera on top of the broadcast camera for a live sports even, for example, gives the consumer the opportunity to see not only the view captured for broadcast, but also, how it was captured, complete with crew and microphone boom! The heightened impact an immersive 360º experience has on the consumer will, no doubt, be of great interest to advertisers. This in turn will feed into the monetization models which will be necessary for the success of the format.The technology for the capture, storage and delivery of 360º video has made a great deal of progress in recent months. Ericsson has become part of the recently formed Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) advocating for consensus around industry standards for the creation of an interoperable, end-to-end ecosystem for high-quality audio-visual VR services. As an ongoing process, the industry is progressing Omnidirectional Media Application Format (OMAF), as part of an end-to-end ecosystem for managing the creation, integration and distribution of VR and 360 content.Where next for VR?The Ericsson ConsumerLab report shows us there is an appetite for more immersive experiences through VR in the future. To meet consumer demand for this and monetize the offering effectively, technology players need to find common standards and scalable solutions that address some of the challenges around delivering a high-quality VR experience. In solving these, it’s possible for VR to become a format that is able to bring a new social viewing experience.last_img read more

Freesat the UK free to air satellite TV provider

first_imgFreesat, the UK free to air satellite TV provider, has announced that David Thomas has joined the company as its new head of product. Thomas has a varied background and extensive experience in the communications and broadcast sector, having held positions with companies like Sky, Cellcast, Endemol and Atlas Mobile.He joins Freesat from fintech start-up Novastone Media where he was also head of product. Prior to Novastone, Thomas worked as a consultant at mobile web development specialist, Atlas Mobile, as well as working as a product lead at Sky.Commenting on his appointment, Thomas said: “As a longstanding Freesat customer, I’m excited to be joining the business at such an important time in the company’s journey. There is huge potential for growth in the product offering, as well as many ways in which we can further enhance user experience around existing features. I’ve been extremely impressed by the team.”Alistair Thom, managing director at Freesat, added, “David’s appointment is key in this crucial year for Freesat. His diverse experience is invaluable as we look to connect with both new and existing customers in a number of innovative and exciting ways.”last_img read more

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first_imgShareTweet Music fans queuing outside Cool Discs in Foyle Street in the hope of getting MTV Crashes Derry ticketsTickets for next month’s MTV concerts in Derry sold out in record time – despite the acts not being confirmed.Twenty thousand tickets were available for the “MTV Crashes Derry” concerts at Ebrington Square on September 19 and 20.Hundreds queued overnight outside Ticketmaster outlets at Cool Discs in Foyle Street and at Foyleside Shopping Centre to get their hands on tickets when they went on sale this morning at 9am. crashesDerrymtvticketscenter_img Thousands more went online in the hope of securing some of the sought-after tickets.The lucky fans who were able to obtain tickets now face an anxious wait to see who will be appearing.MTV DERRY GIG TICKETS SELL OUT IN RECORD TIME was last modified: August 9th, 2014 by stephenstephen Tags:last_img read more

The band were due on stage around 830 pm at the S

first_imgThe band were due on stage around 8.30 pm at the SSE Arena, formerly the Odyssey Arena, in front of fans who had queued all day to get in.In a statement, Aiken PR said: “The show tonight has been cancelled as Liam has taken ill, and whilst not serious, he is unable to perform tonight.”Fans have been asked to hold on to their tickets and await information.Audience members had already gathered inside the concert venue when the cancellation announcement was made The promoter’s spokeswoman added: “A further statement will be made in the morning [Wednesday].“The band apologise to the fans and wish Liam better.”Band member Louis Tomlinson tweeted tonight: “We’re so so sorry for what happened tonight, it was out of our control!“Lots of love to Liam and thank you for being so understanding!”Belfast’s Deputy Lord Mayor Guy Spence fumed on Facebook: “Devastated, the band need to take a good look at themselves!“I know that’s no reflection of the promoter who did a great job to get them here, but to leave 9,000 people standing was a disgrace!“I don’t understand how one member takes ill and if isn’t ‘serious’ they cancelled, the other members should at least have had the decency to appear!“We’ll see what the band say, and why they left so many of their young fans and our Citizens heartbroken!“Just not good enough!”DERRY FANS LEFT DEVASTATED AFTER ONE DIRECTION CANCEL GIG was last modified: October 20th, 2015 by John2John2 Tags: NINE thousand fans were left devastated when pop band One Direction cancelled a Belfast concert at the last minute tonight.Hundreds of Derry fans had travelled the 75 miles plus to Belfast for the gig only to have return home severely disappointed.The gig was cancelled after one of the band members, Liam Payne, became ill, said the promoter. ShareTweet AIKEN PRDERRY FANS LEFT DEVASTATED AFTER ONE DIRECTION CANCEL GIGlast_img read more

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first_imgShareTweet CAMERAWORK Derry will bring its fascinating photographic exhibition about what life was like in the 80’s to the Alley Theatre in Strabane this month.‘Days Like These’ is a photographic snapshot of Derry in the 1980’s. The collection is drawn from the photographic archive of Camerawork Darkrooms Derry (Camerawork). Established in 1982 in the Bogside, Camerawork aimed to provide local people with the tools to help them create their own black and white images and document their lives’.These black and white images depict a time when men walked greyhounds and women still worked in shirt factories. A place where funerals were many and people marched for anything. There are photographs that can only have been from the eighties, were dole queues had pencils on a string and Mohican wearing punks was not an uncommon sight. This retrospective is often powerful depicting everything from the momentous to the mundane and is testament to the creative vision of the photographers involved.The exhibitions curator Jim Collins says of the work “it is a valuable visual account seen through the lens of those within the community it depicts’.The exhibition is currently on display at the Alley Theatre until September 28.For more information visit www.alley-theatre.com or call 028 71 384444The 80’s return with Camerawork Derry’s Days Like These Exhibition was last modified: September 4th, 2018 by John2John2 Tags: Camerawork DerryCurator Jim CollinsstrabaneThe 80’s return with Camerawork Derry’s Days Like These ExhibitionTHE ALLEY THEATRElast_img read more

Durkan welcomes improved access to specialist drug

first_img Durkan welcomes improved access to specialist drugs for cancerFOYLE MLAHEALTH SPOKESPERSONMark H DurkanSDLP ShareTweet SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has welcomed today’s announcement that will see improved access to specialist drugs for cancer and other conditions suffered by people living in the North of Ireland.Cancer patients in the North of Ireland are to have the same access to drugs currently being offered to patients in the rest of the UK.Up until now some patients with cancer and other conditions were denied access to certain drugs mainly due to cost. “While today’s announcement is welcome, it is long overdue. Today we think of all those who have campaigned for this civil right and those who would have benefited from it but who are sadly no longer with us,” added Mr Durkan.Durkan welcomes improved access to specialist drugs for cancer was last modified: September 12th, 2018 by John2John2 Tags: The Foyle MLA commented: “For many years the SDLP have stood shoulder to shoulder with sufferers of cancer and other conditions fighting for fair access to treatment. “The current situation where some patients in Northern Ireland are offered a second class service compared to those in England is unfair and it is, as it always has been, unjust. “Why should someone in Derry not get the same chance or treatment as someone in Derby?“This reform of the Individual Funding Request process will ease the suffering and improve the lives of many people here and give their loved ones the comfort of knowing they are being given the most suitable drugs for their condition – be it cancer, MS or anything else.last_img read more