Builder Confidence Improves for Third Month in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, News Confidence Homebuilders Housing Starts National Association of Home Builders New Home Sales 2014-08-18 Tory Barringer August 18, 2014 586 Views Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes continued to improve this month, despite ongoing shakiness in new construction numbers.The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported on Monday a two-point increase in its Housing Market Index, a gauge of builder sentiment measuring current single-family new home sales, expected sales six months out, and volume of traffic from prospective homebuyers.As of August, the index measured 55, five points above the benchmark separating a market largely viewed as poor from one viewed as good.All three index components moved upward, with the measure of present home sales climbing to 58, expected sales rising to 65, and buyer traffic increasing to 42.”Each of the three components of the HMI registered consecutive gains for the past three months, which is a positive sign that builder confidence appears to be firming following an uneven spring,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Factors contributing to this rise include sustained job growth, historically low mortgage rates and affordable home prices, which are helping to unleash pent-up demand.”Regionally, August was a mixed picture. Builders in the Northeast and the Midwest expressed greater confidence, boosting those indices to 41 and 65, respectively. The indices for the South and West pulled back slightly, dipping to 51 and 57, respectively.Each region’s three-month moving average was up, thanks in part to significant improvements in July.While the latest increase brings the headline HMI to its second highest point so far this year—nearly undoing all of the damage from a plunge in February—the effects have yet to be seen in housing starts. Despite gains in confidence over the last few months, new construction has remained weak, plunging 9.3 percent month-over-month in the Census Bureau’s June data.Crowe explained that, as a leading indicator of building activity, the index reflects an expectation of improvements in new home sales and construction for the rest of 2014.”Builders are seeing buyers that normally would have been buying several years ago, but because of economic conditions had postponed that purchase,” he said. “So they’re more confident that the pent-up demand will be released.”Estimates for new construction in July are set to be released Tuesday. Economists surveyed by Econoday are calling for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 963,000 new units started. Share
There may be no better way to take in the sights of New York then from the seat of a bicycle while riding the scenic bike path along the Battery Park Esplanade or over the architectural wonder that is the Brooklyn Bridge. The world-renowned hotel is known for its outstanding waterfront location, panoramic views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and New York Harbor, and service excellence.The Bike, Bed & Breakfast package includes the following: •Overnight luxury accommodations for Deluxe City View Guest Room •American breakfast for two in the hotel’s 2 WEST restaurant •Full-day bike rentals for two:Bike pick-up is conveniently located across the street from the hotel Trek bicycles, locks, helmets, bottled waters and NYC bike mapsThe Bike, Bed & Breakfast Package is offered weekdays and weekends August 24, 2009 to November 14, 2009 and is priced starting from $460 USD per couple and requires a 2-day advanced reservation. Supplemental cost for each additional person staying in the room is $100. This package is subject to availability and exclusive of taxes and gratuities.http://www.ritzcarlton.com/batterypark
Categories: State of the State,VerHeulen Photos State Rep. Rob VerHeulen talks and his guest Jon DeWys, owner of DeWys Manufacturing waiting in anticipation of the 2014 State of the State address. 17Jan VerHeulen welcomes local business owner to Capitol for governor’s State of the State address
16May Reps. Marino, Farrington seek emergency disaster fund reforms Bills ensure adequate funding, set up tier system for grants Categories: Diana Farrington News Two Macomb County state representatives have introduced legislation to reform the state contingency fund designed to aid communities dealing with disasters.State Reps. Steve Marino and Diana Farrington introduced the measures, which are designed to continuously maintain a greater amount of emergency funds that can be used more quickly to help local governments cope with disasters.“If the Fraser sinkhole taught us nothing else, it’s that the state emergency fund is inadequately designed to deal quickly with multiple disasters that occur across our state,” said Marino, of Harrison Township. “It should not take an extended debate in the Legislature to ensure that we have adequate funding so communities can quickly react to a disaster. We should have a system that addresses the immediacy of the situation and ensures funds are available.”Rep. Farrington, of Utica, said an escalating amount of aid based on county or city population will work more efficiently than an arbitrary amount decided upon by the Legislature.“My bill changes the maximum grant availability based on the number of people who might be affected,” Farrington said. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and this tiered system will take the guesswork out of the equation.”Under Marino’s bill, the Legislature would continually maintain the minimum balance of the fund at $2.5 million instead of the current balance of $1 million.Farrington’s bill sets up a tier system, allowing a maximum assistance grant of $1 million for a county or municipality of 75,000 or more; $500,000 for entities with populations between 25,000 and 75,000 people; and $250,000 for local governments with 25,000 people or fewer. The current maximum grant is $100,000.The bills were referred to the House Appropriations Committee.#####The bills are House Bills 4609 and 4610
Share32Tweet27Share3Email62 SharesPixabay. Public domain.July 28, 2017; New America MediaDespite GOP insistence that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a disaster for the American people, the reality is quite different. Far from perfect, the ACA has delivered health coverage to 20 million more Americans, many of them low-income people of color. Further, efforts were made to reduce health disparities. A critical tool intended to reduce disparities has been the widespread implementation of digital patient portals and electronic medical records (EMRs). But new data suggests that the digitization of medical access may in fact increase health disparities rather than reduce them.In 2015, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported, eight percent of nonelderly whites were uninsured, compared to 12 percent of Blacks and 17 percent of Latin@s. Overall, people of color accounted for more than half of the total 32 million nonelderly uninsured. Lack of access to care leads to disparities of outcomes. For example, Blacks have persistently higher rates of HIV, asthma, and diabetes, diseases that are also correlated with higher rates of poverty.In addition to digital patient portals and EMRs, a number of other provisions of the ACA were intended to address health disparities. For example, establishing Offices of Minority Health within HHS agencies, promoting cultural competence, and strengthening data collection. The ACA also appropriated $11 billion over a five-year period to enhance community health centers, where many low-income people access care.In a recent article by reporter Viji Sundaram, Suneel Ratan, chief strategy officer of Community Health Center Network and the Alameda Health Consortium, discussed her recent research on patient portals used by Bay Area community health centers. She said, “You could argue they increase disparities.”Patient portals did not arise under the Affordable Care Act, but they have become more widespread. Portals generally allow patients to make appointments online, pay bills, renew prescriptions, and review lab results. In some cases, patients can review their entire medical record.Kelvin Quan, Executive Director of MayView Community Health Center, noted that many of the health centers’ patients can’t afford computers. Moreover, they may not have a high degree of English language or technology literacy. Sundaram cites a recent California study that found an increasing number of low-income Californians access internet service only through their cell phones. The patient portal, however, is not mobile friendly.The MayView Community Health Center, with clinics in the Silicon Valley communities of Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Sunnyvale, launched a patient portal last year to meet “meaningful use” requirements of the Electronic Health Records Incentive Program and qualify for incentive payments. In addition, said Quan, MayView invested $30,000 in building the portal and connecting it the electronic health records system in order to meet the standard of a “Patient-Centered Health Home,” a coordinated care model also promoted by the Affordable Care Act.What MayView has found, however, is that only about 10 percent of its 6600 patients enrolled with the online patient gateway. Of those, only about 200 patients are active users. MayView’s clinic attracts patients with low incomes and from Latin@, Asian, and Pacific Islander communities. A similar clinic in East Palo Alto, Ravenswood Family Health Center, found that only 10 to 15 percent of their patients used the patient portal. By contrast, Kaiser Permanente did a study two years ago showing that 70 percent of its 5.2 million patients used their patient portal. The difference: Kaiser’s portal is geared toward users who are white and middle class. Kaiser finds that patients without a high school degree are much less likely to use their portal.Patient portals are intended to create health care consumers who are informed and empowered. But, Dr. Vikas Saini, president of the Lown Institute, pointed out that electronic medical records (EMRs) were not designed to improve patient care, but rather to improve administration and billing. As a result, he said, “It’s no surprise that patient portals, which must be tightly integrated with EMRs, are not user friendly and available to poor and working-class people.”Among the most significant issues facing the American health care system is how to resolve issues of health care access and disparate outcomes. It may be time to rethink how technology can support that project.—Karen KahnShare32Tweet27Share3Email62 Shares
Share90Tweet31Share1Email122 Shares“Aggie Creek Fire,” USDASeptember 1, 2017; Montana StandardMedia coverage continues to rage about the aftereffects of Hurricane Harvey, and now news is breaking about Hurricane Irma and the 10th tropical storm of the season, Jose, predicted to evolve into a hurricane of its own. But what is not generating as much discussion are other harmful weather-related events, such as wildfires, and the “invisible hand” behind them all: climate change.The National Hurricane Center is calling Category 5 Irma “potentially catastrophic.” Florida is preparing for a possible hit, and both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico could be pummeled by the duo of Irma and Jose. Meanwhile, wildfires are ravaging the West and Northwest. A 2016 Climate Central analysis found that the annual number of large fires has tripled since the 1970s and that the amount of land they burn is six times higher than it was four decades ago. According to the organization, more than 37,000 fires have burned more than 5.2 million acres across the country since the beginning of the year.Fires have burned nearly 600 square miles in Montana—an area larger than Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. It’s costing the state an estimated $1.5 million a day to fight fires. “What had been predicted to be a moderate fire season earlier this year has turned into one of the state’s most active ones, as severe drought spreads across the state,” reports the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.Washington, California, and Oregon also issued distress calls over the last several days. Wildfires forced thousands to flee their homes across the area during the smoke-shrouded holiday weekend. The fires caused evacuations in Glacier National Park in Montana and many other parts of the West and forced about 140 hikers to spend the night in the woods after fire broke out along the Columbia River Gorge Trail in Oregon. In Los Angeles, firefighters spent the weekend fighting what Mayor Eric Garcetti called “the largest fire in the history” of the city, covering about 7,000 acres and forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate. Officials are worried about the impact of the heavy smoke on human health, both physical and mental.What do tropical storms, hurricanes, and wildfires have in common? All of them are correlated with climate change. EPA head Scott Pruitt continues to insist that talk of any association is “misplaced,” and though it’s true no single event can definitely establish causation, the majority of experts agree the cumulative evidence is clear and points to escalating destabilization.The association of stronger hurricanes to climate change is well publicized. In a warmer world, there’s more water vapor that storms can sweep up and dump on us. In addition, as the earth’s temperature warms, land-based ice melts and ocean water expands, causing sea levels to rise. This, in turn, increases the risk of flooding. If the sea level continues rising at the current rate, says Chris Landsea, science and operations officer at the National Hurricane Center, every single hurricane will have a two-foot higher storm surge by the end of the century.However, the contribution of climate change to wildfires is less well understood. Rising temperatures are extending the fire season longer than it used to be, and the warming fueled by greenhouse gases is stoking more and larger fires as it dries out more vegetation that acts as fuel.“A single stray cigarette is often enough, particularly with the hot, dry brush found along state and federal highways,” a recent article in Forbes magazine warned. It reported that the biggest culprit for starting wildfires may be cars, as a hot undercarriage or tailpipe can ignite brush found at campsites or on the sides of roads.“The records being broken year after year—whether for drought, storm surges, wildfires or just heat—are happening because the planet is markedly warmer than it has been since record-keeping began,” charges author Naomi Klein in the Intercept. “Ignoring those facts, [and] failing to provide a platform to climate scientists who can make them plain, all while never mentioning President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, fails in the most basic duty of journalism: to provide important facts and relevant context.”—Pam BaileyShare90Tweet31Share1Email122 Shares
Uzbekistan is launching its first HD digital-terrestrial channel, according to local reports. The channel, Uz.HD, will carry a range of factual, cultural and fiction programming.The Uzbek digital-terrestrial platform is currently available in the cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khorezm, Andijan, Namangan, Ferghana, Kashkadarya and Karakalpakstan, delivering 12 channels including seven Uzbek services to just under 40% of the country’s population.
Deutsche Telekom’s Entertain TV service continued to grow during the first half of the year, ending June with 1.83 million subscribers, an increase of over half a million in a year. Of that total figure, 239,000 took the Entertain via Sat DTH service that launched in September 2011. The telco said revenue from TV services increased 29.6% year-on-year.DT’s share of the German broadband market stood at 45% in the first six months of the year. The number of broadband lines increased by 149,000 to 12.4 million.
TV technology consultancy firm Farncombe has launched a new initiative designed to overcome the problem of delivering WiFi products with a guaranteed Quality of Service for wireless-video applications in connected multi-screen homes.The company has launched a new approach based on benchmarking and test services that allows QoS to be measured for 802.11n-based devices. Through a set of standardised tests, Farncombe said its service will help operators navigate the wide choice of WiFi-enabled set-top boxes, gateways and routers by validating their performance.“Wireless performance is the Achilles’ heel of the connected home. With consumers demanding HD video on multiple devices, the quality and reliability of wireless home networking products has become the gating factor in delivering TV Anywhere products and services,” said Ian Walsh, head of business development for Farncombe’s test lab services.
The BBC is launching a new red button connected TV service.The UK public broadcaster’s Connected Red Button service will launch initially on cable operator Virgin Media’s TiVo service before rolling out to other internet-connected TVs over the coming months.The service will enable users to watch programmes from BBC children’s channels, BBC Three and BBC Four at anytime, even if the channel is off-air. Users will also be able to catch up on previous episodes from other channels and access additional sports streams, clips and content from various events. News and weather headlines and clips will also be available.Daniel Danker, general manager, BBC programmes and on-demand, said, “With today’s launch of BBC Connected Red Button, the BBC is seamlessly bringing the internet together with live TV, while making the technology completely invisible. This is red button reinvented, and the beginning of the exciting future of television.”Cindy Rose, Virgin Media executive director of digital entertainment, said, “The BBC understands as passionately as we do how important connected television is for home entertainment. We’re delighted the BBC is working with us to launch another milestone in interactive services. Our commitment to this partnership of innovation means Virgin Media TiVo customers are the first to experience the latest interactive services at the press of a button.”
Lagardère’s media arm Lagardère Active has acquired France’s leading discount online ticketing specialist BilletReduc.com.BilletReduc.com, which sold 2.2 million discount theatre and event tickets last year, will continue to be led by founders Fabienne and Jean-Marie Rétif. Fabienne Rétif, the company’s deputy CEO, said that the acquisition would enable BilletReduc.com to target customers via Lagardère existing media outlets including TV channel Gulli and radio service Europe 1.
Orange has chosen Accedo to provide application management software for its new Orange Livebox Play set-top box. Orange Livebox Play will use Accedo’s Application Sphere product, which provides a customisable user interface with multiple existing applications included.Accedo will be an enabler of the Orange Appshop section. Users will be able to access a range of program-specific contextual apps, according to Accedo.
Revenue for satellite TV providers in the US market is set to increase by 1.8% year-on-year to US$39.8 billion (€30.5 billion) this year as more consumers subscribe to these services, according to new stats. The report, from research firm IBISWorld, claims that higher spending on satellite services is also anticipated to result in an annualised revenue growth rate of more than 4.5% over the five-year period to 2013.“Over the past five years, the top companies have successfully expanded their scope and revenue by offering an increasing array of services and continually improving their quality,” said IBISWorld.The firm added that, with satellites already in orbit, the industry’s two main players, DirecTV and Dish Network, only incur low costs per additional subscriber. As such it expects industry concentration to stay high in the next five years.
Facebook-owned photo-sharing network Instagram has added video functionality to its service, allowing users to share video clips for the first time. Instagram users can now choose to capture videos of up to 15 seconds and choose from 13 filters to give the clips a distinctive look – the major draw for its still image service.“Over the past two and a half years, Instagram has become a community where you can capture and share the world’s moments simply and beautifully. Some moments, however, need more than a static image to come to life. Until now these stories have been missing from Instagram,” said Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom.The update follows Facebook’s US$1 billion (€756 million) buyout of Instagram last year and will put Facebook in competition with Twitter’s Vine service – another video sharing app that lets users take six-second looping video clips.
Swedish broadcaster TV4 has begun broadcasting its TV4 Sport channel in HD on the country’s digital-terrestrial platform. TV4 Sport HD will be available to digital-terrestrial pay TV operator Boxer’s subscribers. The channel is broadcast in MPEG-4 and the DVB-T2 format.
German cable operator Primacom has signed up its 100,000th internet customer.The milestone comes 15 years after the operator initially launched internet services. More recently the company has invested in an extensive fibre network build-out, bringing advanced services to a wider number of customers.Primacom customer Steffen Preiß was named as the lucky 100,000th customer and given free high-speed internet for one year.Primacom chief executive Joachim Grendel said the company would soon be able to deliver even higher speed services.
21st Century Fox-owned Sky Italia saw a continued decline in its subscriber base in the quarter to June, dropping by 25,000 to 4.73 million.For 21st Century Fox as a whole, direct-to-home TV generated quarterly segment OIBDA of US$146 million (€109 million) compared with the US$156 million reported in the same period a year ago. While the group saw a 16% increase in revenue, thanks to growth from Sky Deutschland, this was more than offset by higher sports programming costs including Sky Italia’s broadcast of the FIFA World Cup and Sky Deutschland’s exclusive broadcast of Bundesliga football.21st Century Fox has removed Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland from its future guidance going forward as a result of its agreed deal to sell the assets to BSkyB.
LG has agreed a global distribution partnership with Netflix as the subscription video-on-demand firm goes global with 130 new country launches.Announcing the deal at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, LG said it had been chosen as “a primary global business partner of Netflix” due to the picture quality and performance of its smart TVs.LG and Netflix will work together to provide prepaid access to Netflix across the OTT service’s new markets in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.“Our global partnership with LG will help entertainment lovers worldwide discover and enjoy Netflix. We look forward to delighting our members with cutting edge technology and the ability to watch their favourite series in 4K and HDR,” said Scott Mirer, vice president of device partner ecosystem at Netflix.Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced at CES yesterday that Netflix would launch high dynamic range (HDR) content “later this year.”At the trade show, LG is giving a preview of this development by demoing a 4K HDR clip from Netflix original series Marvel’s Daredevil.
BT is set to restructure the business following its buyout of UK mobile operator EE, with the changes to take effect from April.Under the new structure, BT will have six lines of business, including a new division to serve businesses and the public sector in the UK and Ireland, and an EE division that will see the mobile operator retain its brand, network and high street stores.The new Business and Public sector division will combine the existing BT Business unit with EE’s business division and parts of BT Global Services that are UK focused. BT Business boss Graham Sutherland becomes CEO of this division.EE’s chief commercial officer, Marc Allera, will head up the EE unit as CEO. The mobile operator confirmed last month that previous CEO Olaf Swantee would step down shortly after BT completed the EE buyout.EE’s chief sales and marketing officer, business, Gerry McQuade, will also take on a big role as part of the restructure, becoming CEO of BT’s Wholesale and Ventures division. News of the appointment comes after BT Wholesale CEO Nigel Stagg said last week that he will leave the company after 36 years in various roles.Overall, the six divisions of the restructured BT are: Consumer; EE; Business and Public Sector; Global Services; Wholesale and Ventures; and Openreach.These six business lines will be supported by Technology, Service and Operations, a separate unit that is already responsible for BT’s ‘core’ networks in the UK and overseas, its IT platforms and its global R&D arm. As of today, BT executive Howard Watson takes over as CEO of Technology, Service and Operations, replacing Clive Selley.Selley meanwhile takes over as CEO of Openreach – a role he was appointed to in January after former Openreach CEO Joe Garner announced he was leaving BT to become CEO of Nationwide Building Society.BT Consumer will continue to be led by its CEO John Petter and BT Global Services will continue to be led by its CEO Luis Alvarez.The news comes after BT closed its £12.5 billion (€16.7 billion) buyout of EE on Friday.BT CEO Gavin Patterson said the deal was “great news for our shareholders, our customers and for UK plc given we will continue to invest and innovate. Customers will benefit as we combine the power of fibre broadband with the convenience of mobile.”“The acquisition provides us with a chance to refresh our structure and we have done that by creating a major new division that will focus on businesses and the public sector in the UK and Ireland. We want to support those sectors by offering customers the very best services whether that be dedicated private lines, network products such as fibre broadband, mobile solutions, IT services or cyber expertise to keep them safe.“We will continue to offer many of these services to multinational companies and major overseas customers via our Global Services division. It is an important part of the company and this new structure will enable it to sharpen its focus on its key areas of strength”.
All3Media International and TV4 Entertainment are joining forces for an OTT initiative that will see the pair launch a range of online channels, DTVE‘s sister title TBI can reveal.The agreement between All3Media’s international arm and US-based TV4 will see the pair work up online channels that will be distributed over the top, as well as through the Amazon Channels package and third-party platforms.The partners plan to launch a range of targeted OTT channels in different genres, with the first service themed around homes and gardens. That is yet to be named, but will launch this spring.As well as mining the All3Media catalogue for content, it is understood that TV4 will work up original content for the OTT channels, with All3Media International having a first-look deal that gives it an option to coproduce, co-finance and distribute.All3Media International is the commercial and distribution arm of Discovery Communications – and Liberty Global-backed production group All3Media. TV4, meanwhile, is an LA-based OTT specialist that counts Hollywood studio Warner Bros. and UK pay TV platform Sky among its investors.The channels coming out of the new partnership are expected to sit alongside the existing offerings in the TV4 stable, which includes martial arts service Blackbelt TV, docs channel DocCom TV, hunting and fishing net Gone TV and the petrolhead destination Motorland TV.These channels are available over the top as well as via AppleTV, Roku and FireTV.The line-up for the homes and gardens channel is still a work in progress, but All3Media International’s homes and gardens programming includes Love Your Garden, Monty Don’s Italian Gardens and Britain’s Best Back Gardens.All3Media International confirmed the news this morning. “We are delighted to be working with Jon Cody and the team at TV4 Entertainment – the OTT opportunity has been part of our strategic plan for some years and TV4’s expertise is what makes them a great partner for us in this venture,” said Gary Woolf, executive VP, commercial development at All3Media International. “Together, we are excited at the opportunity to find passionate audiences looking for high quality programming that really super-serves their core interests”Jon Cody, founder and CEO of TV4 Entertainment said: “This alliance represents the world’s premier original content creators and OTT distributors coming together to drive the future of television.”