Workers’ comp payouts dropping

first_imgChief Deputy County Counsel Donovan Main said a $3million sheriff’s settlement, a $4.5million medical malpractice case and $2.3 million in legal fees in a hospital closure case drove up the costs. “Normally, we don’t have that combination of large-magnitude cases,” Main said. Risk Manager Rocky Armfield said the $61 million drop in workers’ comp costs is significant because the county has more than 95,000 employees and about 24,500 open worker’s compensation claims. The county has aggressively worked to combat fraud and abuse and has encouraged employees to come back to work to perform light duties. The county Fire Department also has embraced a Fitness For Life program that offers firefighters, lifeguards and their nonunion management a 3 percent bonus for participating. At the Sheriff’s Department, workers’ compensation costs have dropped from $100 million in 2003-04 to $84 million last fiscal year. “We have been aggressively pursuing anything that looks like or might be fraud,” said Chief Bill McSweeney, who oversees the Risk Management and Internal Affairs divisions. Sheriff Lee Baca hired 10 retired detectives to conduct surveillance on employees and McSweeney said the department has reviewed more than 1,000 cases. McSweeney said the detectives’ work is sending a “big message” to employees. “When we call somebody up and say, `We have reason to believe you were playing basketball at the park last week and you told us you couldn’t walk. Which one is it?’ We often get a response of `I’m feeling much better now. I’ll come back to work.”‘ troy.anderson@dailynews.com (213) 974-8985160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The annual risk management report found workers’ compensation costs dropped from $324 million in 2003-04 to $263 million last fiscal year. The report also found the county’s total liability for workers’ compensation costs dropped 35 percent in that period to $2.4 billion. But while the county’s legal expenses fell from $49 million to $45 million in that period, settlements and judgment payments jumped from $26 million to $38 million. For the second consecutive year, workers’ compensation and litigation costs have dropped in Los Angeles County, where officials have cracked down on abuses and boosted wellness efforts, such as offering fitness bonuses for firefighters and lifeguards. After paying out $408 million in fiscal 2003-04, the county’s total costs dropped to $358 million in 2005-06, officials said Thursday. Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen said county and state workers’ compensation reforms and stepped-up attention contributed to the drop. “Departments specifically identified risk managers that we can work with, focusing on return-to-work programs and working as a whole organization to continue to monitor and drive down the costs,” he said. last_img

Peddlers facing strict new law

first_img“Ice cream vendors can work within the framework of the ordinance, but long-term vending is a problem in areas not designed for long-term activities,” Hirsch said, noting that some peddlers have been staying in residential locations for hours with no restrooms or trash cans to contain littering. Councilwoman Barbra Williamson said she has seen problems from street peddlers increasing in Simi Valley over the years, particularly on weekends and holidays. “On Valentine’s Day or on a long weekend, you have people selling flowers, rugs, flags, shirts, strawberries, you name it,” she said. Williamson said she sympathizes with vendors who might have trouble finding spots on private property, but said the ordinance is clearly supported by local residents and business owners. Williamson and other council members noted that people who operate their businesses from shops pay rent, insurance costs and taxes. “If someone can go onto a street corner and sell the same things with no taxes, undercutting the businesses, it’s not fair,” she said. “The small businesses in this community are our lifeline. We have to support them.” Police are expected to start warning violators and issuing citations March 15, when the law goes into effect. People selling products from vehicles, such as ice cream vendors, will be allowed to remain at each stop no longer than 10 minutes. Vendors are prohibited from trying to sell anything to people in their cars on any public street. The ordinance also prohibits people from trying to sell things to people waiting in lines or seated in public areas where they would be considered a captive audience. And it prohibits all peddling from nonmotorized vehicles on public sidewalks and by anyone sitting, standing or walking on public rights-of-way, including sidewalks, grassy areas and medians. “We are going to mainly concern ourselves with people who are creating continual recurring problems,” said Sgt. Dave Livingstone, a spokesman for the Simi Valley Police Department. eric.leach@dailynews.com (805) 583-7602160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The way some vendors move from place to place in and out of the community has also raised concerns about the potential for sales of defective or otherwise misrepresented goods. David Hirsch, Simi Valley’s city attorney, said the law was based in part on similar ordinances in other cities. “It’s a strict ordinance, but not unique,” he said. It does not apply to private property, so it would not affect bake sales at schools and churches, or a lemonade stand in someone’s front yard. “It’s not an outright prohibition,” he said, noting that such people as ice cream vendors will still be able to conduct business on city streets and people can still sell things such as Christmas trees or pumpkins on private property, with the owner’s permission and temporary city permits. SIMI VALLEY – A strict new local law against street peddling will go into effect next month to stop increasing numbers of itinerant vendors who sell goods from vehicles on city streets and from carts set up along sidewalks. The primary reason for the new ordinance is to maintain public safety, but the peddlers have also been creating a growing nuisance for residents and business operators, city officials said. “I think what is happening today is conducive to crime,” said City Councilman Steve Sojka, citing the potential for black-market sales. “This has nothing to do with oppressing the poor,” he added, responding to critics who complained that the law targeted poor people who couldn’t afford to establish stable businesses. The vendors have been damaging landscaping, trespassing, invading people’s privacy, creating health hazards, causing parking and traffic problems, and increasing the danger of vehicle crashes and injuries, city officials said. last_img read more

Palmdale slips and slides through DryTown

first_imgPALMDALE – Season passes go on sale today for the city’s new DryTown Water Park. The passes, which are being sold at a discount until April 28, are available only at the water park office, 3850-B E. Ave. S. The water park office is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. For more information, call (661) 267-6161. The park opens May 27 for Memorial Day weekend and closes on Labor Day, Sept. 4. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Passes bought by April 28 cost $43 for Palmdale residents, $54 for nonresidents. A Family Pack of four season passes costs $146 for Palmdale residents, $184 for nonresidents; passes for additional family members are $40 for residents, $50 for nonresidents. Individual season passes go up $10 after April 28, and family passes go up $34. Daily rates for patrons ages 9 and older will be $12 for Palmdale residents, $15 for nonresidents. Palmdale children age 3 to 8 pay $7, or $10 for nonresidents. Palmdale seniors age 62 or older pay $7, or $10 for nonresidents. Military personnel pay $10, both resident and nonresidents. Financed with a special tax that property owners approved in 2002, the $27.5 million Oasis Park opened its recreation center in October, with the swimming pool opening this month to high school teams. The $15.4 million water park has a Western mining-town theme called DryTown, with 35-foot-tall water slides named Rattler’s Revenge, The Wildcatter and Devil’s Punchbowl. A 920-foot-long “river” in which visitors can float in inner tubes is called Big Rock River. Oasis Park’s 25-yard by 25-meter swimming pool will open for the public on Memorial Day weekend. The 33-acre Oasis Park, on Avenue S at 40th Street East, is one of two “super parks” created in a $43 million park improvement effort. The other was an expanded Marie Kerr Park, which gained a swimming pool and an amphitheater. Oasis Park’s 16,800-square-foot recreation center contains a gymnasium big enough for a regulation basketball court or two smaller courts, a dance and fitness studio with wood flooring, a youth game area, a lounge, a kitchen and a multipurpose hall that can be divided into three separate rooms. Operating the water park is expected to cost about $1 million per summer, city officials said. Officials hope to attract 125,000 visitors a summer and to have admission fees cover the costs. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

ST EUNAN’S GAA CLUB NOTES – 18/04/11

first_imgClub Notes – Naomh Adhamhnáin – 18.04.11The Seniors got their first win of the League campaign away to Gaoth Dobhair last Saturday but in a reversal of fortune, the Reserves lost their first game of the year. Both teams will have a Championship warm-up this Monday with home games against Dungloe in the Park, times to be confirmed.The Junior Men Footballers still await the beginning of their League and the word seems to be that it will be aone round of games and not home and away, which is very disappointing as it will not offer many games of football over the season. Thanks you to everyone that turned up to help at last week’s Bag Pack in Tesco. In particular Ciaran Maguire and his U-14 Boys, Brian McGeehin and his U-12 Boys, Jim Clarke, Celine McMenamin, Anne Forde and Tracey McVeigh who all put in big shifts to help out.There was a Minor Board meeting on Monday night in the Clubhouse. At a fairly uneventful meeting, the main topic now that the underage season is up and running was the buses. All managers have been sent a template to help them collect their bus money, so please use it or make your own.The Minor Boys Footballers had a good win over MacCumhaills last week, they have a home game against Malin this Friday in the Park at 7:30pm.The U-16 Boys footballers will play their rescheduled game with Termon this Friday in the Park with  a 12 noon throw-in. The U-16 Div. 2 team put up a great display in Fanad before going down by 2 points in a game where the appointed Ref failed to appear. The James Gallagher Memorial Cup is underway. In the South, Ardara defeated Aodh Rua before drawing with Naomh Conaill. In the North, our lads began their challenge by winning a close game with Gaoth Dobhair by 3-05 to 1-04. They take on Fanad in their next game.Congratulations to Kinieshia McKinney on being appointed Captain of the Co. U-16 Girls team for 2011.The St. Eunan’s Minor Hurlers drew with MacCumhaills last Thursday in an excellent game of hurling. The U-14 Hurlers also beat MacCumhaills. The U-14 Hurling County Feile was held in O’Donnell Park last Thursday with 7 teams taking part. St. Eunan’s beat Carndonagh and followed this up with a draw against a very strong Aodh Rua. They then had a convincing win over Burt. In the play-off in against Aodh Rua for a place in the final a tired St. Eunan’s went down in the last few seconds to Aodh Rua. Magnificent achievement for this very young team who had to play 3 straight games in a row without any substitutes. The U-12 Hurlers had a sucessful Blitz on Sunday winning 2 out of 3 games. The U-14 Camogie team had their County Feile on Sunday. This very young team produced strong performances against the eventual winners Burt. Special thanks to everyone who supported the Camogie table quiz. We raised approx €500 for the Club. The Easter County Camogie Camp will be held in Burt next week. Details from your managers.U-12 & U-14 Hurling Training 5:30pm each Tuesday. U16 & Minor training at 5:30pm Monday. The Friday Hurling/Camogie Academy is on a break this week and next for Easter and will return on Friday, May 6th. The Sunday Morning U-10 Football Academy is also on a break this week and will return the following Sunday, May 1st at 11am.There were two winners in this week’s Lotto draw. They matched 3 numbers and win €50 each. The numbers drawn were 2-5-22-23 and the winners are: David Whelan, Lismonaghan (card) and Darragh O’Callaghan, Kilraine, Glenties (Adrian).We extend our deepest sympathies to the Molloy and Dorrian families.ST EUNAN’S GAA CLUB NOTES – 18/04/11 was last modified: April 19th, 2011 by gregShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:St Eunan’s GAA club noteslast_img read more

Champions League: Liverpool seek early advantage as Spurs, Man City square off

first_img Tags: FC Portoliverpoolmanchester citytoptottenham hotspursuefa champions league Liverpool have never lost to Porto (Agency Photos)Liverpool vs PortoAnfield Stadium, LiverpoolTuesday, 09-04-2019 @10pmReferee: Antonio Mateu (Spain)Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk is expected to be fit after suffering a minor knock in Friday’s 3-1 league win at Southampton. Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum could also feature despite a minor back injury, but Adam Lallana is likely to miss out with a muscle issue. Klopp said defender Joe Gomez, who has been sidelined since December, “won’t play unless he has to”.But Porto will be without a number of key players for the encounter. Key man Alex Telles is back in training but it remains to be seen whether he will be passed fit in time – while Fabiano, Jorge and Marius Mouandilmadji are also on the sidelines. Boss Sergio Conceicao has 19 players at his disposal at present, three of those being goalkeepers.Liverpool have never lost a European match against Porto in six previous encounters (W3 D3). Porto have never faced an opponent in the Champions League more often than Liverpool without winning (four games), also failing to win in four matches against Zenit St Petersburg and Juventus.Liverpool’s Sadio Mane has scored 69% of his Champions League goals in the knockout stages of the competition (9/13); of players with at least 10 goals, only Ivica Olic (7/10 – 70%) has a higher such percentage in Champions League history. Should he appear, Mane will make his 20th Champions League appearance, scoring 13 goals in 19 games. Only five players have scored more than 13 goals in their first 20 matches in the competition’s history: Alessandro del Piero (14), Ruud van Nistelrooy (16), Andriy Shevchenko (14), Jari Litmanen (14) and Roberto Soldado (16). Milner has recorded 10 Champions League assists since the beginning of last season, more than any other player. Since 2003-04, only three other Englishman have registered double figures for assists for a single side in the competition: Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) and Steven Gerrard (Liverpool). All of Liverpool’s 12 goals in the Champions League this season have come from inside the box, the only side left in the competition yet to net a goal from outside the penalty area. The nine goals Porto have conceded in the competition have also come from inside the box. Liverpool have progressed from four of their past five quarter-final appearances in the Champions League between 2004-05 and 2017-18 – only in 2008-09 did they fall out at this stage after a 5-7 aggregate defeat by Chelsea.Porto striker Moussa Marega could become the fourth player in Champions League history to score in seven successive matches in the competition, after Edinson Cavani, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo. Porto have failed to win any of their past 12 away knockout games in the Champions League (D4 L8) since a 1-0 victory at Deportivo La Coruna in 2004. Porto won the competition that season under manager Jose Mourinho.Tottenham Hotspurs vs Manchester CityTottenham Hotspur Stadium, LondonTuesday, 09-04-2019 @10pmReferee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland)City have won 11 of their last 16 games against SpursCity forward Sergio Aguero, who has missed the last two games with a muscle injury, could feature after returning to training. Aguero has 29 goals this season, including five in the Champions League. Full-backs Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy should also be available.Tottenham will be without midfielder Eric Dier (hip), forward Erik Lamela (hamstring) and full-back Serge Aurier (hamstring). Forward Fernando Llorente is back in the squad after he missed out against Crystal Palace last week with concussion.Tottenham have not faced an English team in a European competition since April 1973, when they faced – and were eliminated by – Liverpool in the 1972-73 UEFA Cup semi-final. Manchester City have lost all four of their European matches against English opponents, losing both legs of the 1970-71 Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final against Chelsea and both legs of last season’s Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool. This is the first ever European meeting between Tottenham Hotspur and City in what is the 157th meeting between the teams in all competitions. City have won 11 of their last 16 matches against Spurs (D1 L4), with all those meetings coming in the Premier League. Spurs are competing in only their second Champions League quarter-final, losing previously 0-5 on aggregate to Real Madrid in 2010-11. Tottenham striker Harry Kane has been involved in 17 goals in 17 Champions League appearances (14 goals, 3 assists). City boss Pep Guardiola has won 26 of his 52 Champions League knockout matches, just one behind the all-time record held jointly by Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti (27 wins).Comments last_img read more

Africa’s resources key to unlocking its wealth

first_imgAndre Groenewald from the Department of International Relations said if Africa takes advantage of its vast natural resources, the continent can reach $13-trillion by 2050. (Image: Ndaba Dlamini)• Sandisiwe GugushePublic RelationsBrand South Africa +27 11 712 5007sandisiweg@brandsouthafrica.comNdaba DlaminiAfrica, it seems, is on the rise. The size of the economies of most countries on the continent is growing and economists are predicting that by 2050, Africa’s economy will reach $13-trillion.African countries have to take advantage of these positive developments and communicate the enormous potential that lies within the continent to the world, said Andre Groenewald, director of diplomatic training at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.Groenewald was speaking at a seminar organised by Brand South Africa and the Department of Trade and Industry at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on Thursday, 27 March. The seminar, attended by African diplomats based in South Africa, focused on, among other issues, Africa’s competitiveness and how strong nation brands contribute to improving the continent’s image.Groenewald said considering the size of the continent “there is room for growth and room for markets in Africa”.He said, “We are the only continent remaining with resources. There was a study done in the UK at the London University where they found out that for an economy to grow to an average of $13 000 income per year per person, that country will use exponential amounts of steel.”Many countries, including India and China, are far off this benchmark. Steel, said Groenewald, “will remain a big issue and there is lots of iron ore resources on the continent”. In this regard, opportunities abound, he said.In addition, a recent study by the World Bank predicts that Africa’s GDP will grow by 6% in 2015. In the past five to 10 years, the continent has been recording a growth of 5% per annum. The only region ahead of Africa in terms of growth is China.“We are the second-fastest growing region in the world. And this says a lot. If you link this to the population and the resources then Africa is indeed rising,” Groenewald said.In 2013, the World Bank also established that among the 15 economies with the biggest improvements in their economies since 2005, five – one third – are in sub-Saharan Africa.“This is a significant finding for the sub-region indicating improving conditions for doing business in a period when negotiations regarding the establishment of a trilateral free trade area encompassing the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the East African Community are taking place.”This free trade area, according to Groenewald, will create an integrated market of more than650 million people, and double that number in the US and the European Union.Groenewald said Africa’s poverty rate has also dropped from roughly 44% to 22% in recent years. “While we are not doing well on the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals], we have halved the poverty and this shows that Africa is making progress.”There is “incredible economic activity going on in Africa”, according to Groenewald. In Kenya, for example, a software banking application recently developed has become so popular that there are more banking transactions per year done through the software than that government’s budget.One of the most notable things about Africa is cellphone usage. Groenewald said 71% of adults in Nigeria own cellphones, 62% in Botswana and more than half the population of Ghana and Kenya; a great opportunity for investment in the sector.In addition, the African diaspora contributes $60-billion per annum back to Africa; this is 10 times more than the $6-billion donor money per annum from the International Monetary Fund and six times more than the some $10-billion Chinese foreign direct investment in Africa.“All these are opportunities that Africa needs to brand as a continent. We need to tell the outside world about this,” said Groenewald, adding that South Africa is one good example where there are many good news stories to tell.There are two big growth opportunities that Africa has missed, something that shouldn’t happen again. The first is agriculture, where Africa has the best competitive advantage in the world, according to Groenewald. “Kenya is a good example. They have over the past 10 years become the biggest exporters of flowers. If we can farm flowers then we can farm about anything.”Also, Africa should take advantage of its huge natural energy reserves and market itself competitively to the whole world, said Groenewald.last_img read more

Does market volatility matter?

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Bean prices bounced off the recent trading lows this week. While this was positive for farmers, there still remain several unknowns. Dry weather throughout the Midwest has many in the trade concerned and wondering what summer time weather will be like and if yields will suffer. Also, it’s uncertain how many acres farmers will plant this spring. This may ultimately mean some speculators will exit their short positions with some profit now and look for other opportunities down the road.With farmers generally not selling, basis and short-term corn spreads have narrowed throughout the Midwest until late this week. Then the corn market moved to the top of a narrow 10-cent trading range, which encouraged some farmers to sell some of their grain. I expect small fluctuations like this to continue in the short-term but I’m not expecting there will be a big rally unless something catches the market completely off guard. It’s still a long time until summer weather markets can affect these markets. Why I don’t care about volatility valuesRecently some advisors and experts have been talking again about the importance of volatility in the option market and that farmers should consider it within their marketing strategy. They explain that “because volatility is the lowest it’s been in 10 years that it’s not a good time to sell options and instead farmers should be buying them.”I usually find that these “experts” are always looking for reasons to recommend buying options. Generally, I think buying options is usually the least advantageous avenue for farmers and their rationale of “market volatility” doesn’t change my mind. Unfortunately, when these experts describe market volatility’s impact, it can easily get complicated, which can mislead farmers into thinking volatility is more important than it actually is to a farmer’s marketing strategy. What is market volatility?For grain markets, volatility is basically the expectation of the upcoming pricing movement of the market. For example, if there are many unknowns, like in the summer when it’s unclear when and how much it will rain throughout the Midwest, there is significant price movement potential (i.e. volatility) up or down. On the flip side, during harvest there is typically lower volatility because there are fewer unknown issues that can impact price movement.Higher volatility will generally mean options have higher values relative to future prices. Lower volatility would mean options values should be lower compared to futures prices.There are several factors that affect the value of volatility on options including the time left before the option expires, actual value of the option and the amount of market unknowns. Normally option volatility is measured by standard deviation, which is stated as a percent of value.Yes, it’s extremely complicated. To put it into very simple terms, 12% volatility is widely seen as being extremely low, whereas anything over 30% is considered very high. In 2011 and 2012 volatility levels exceeded 30%. From 2013 to 2015 volatility ranged between 18% and 25%. Over the last six to 12 months, volatility has been under 15%, and in January it went below 10%. Why market volatility can be misleadingUsually when “advisors” discuss low volatility they seem to only reference short-term values, which doesn’t provide a complete picture. A very near-term option may have low volatility today, but an option with a longer time value left will have higher volatility because of more potential price movement from market unknowns. For instance, as short-term option’s volatility fell below 10% on the Feb options, the July option volatility was trading over 15% and Dec was almost 17%. In general, what we have been seeing with volatility has been that it usually decreases as time narrows. How the importance of volatility can be overblownOnce again the difference between the goals of farmers and speculators has an impact on the importance of volatility. For example, let’s say an option has six months of time left and it moves 2 cents in value. That 2-cent movement could probably shift the volatility by 4% points, which may mean a shift from a low to mid-range level. A farmer wouldn’t generally be any more motivated to buy or sell an option from just a 2-cent movement in the value of an option because they’re usually trading less than 10 options at a time. Speculators and fund traders on the other hand are trading hundreds or thousands of options at a time. With that many options, 2 cents makes a big difference on their bottom line, hence market volatility is a bigger factor to them. What can we learn from market volatility?Market volatility is a great measure of what traders are expecting from the market over time. Low volatility essentially means that most market participants think the market is going nowhere. High volatility means there is more uncertainty and potentially more price movement possibilities.These loose guidelines can be helpful in planning and making decisions in market strategy. Just because there is low volatility doesn’t mean that high volatility or higher prices are just around the corner. Price could continue to be stuck in an extremely tight trading range for another year.last_img read more

Best LittleCo of 2010: Tumblr

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tumblr launched back in 2007, but this year it really took off in terms of growth – crushing its nearest light blogging rival,Posterous. Tumblr achieved this growth at surprisingly low staffing levels: just 16 employees, with an estimated 20 before end of 2010. It’s got plenty of money behind it, though. The company has raised $40m. $30m of that was raised this month from existing investors Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures, plus new investors Sequoia Capital (who backed Google in 1999, before it went big).ReadWriteWeb’s 2010 In Review:Top 10 Semantic Web Products of 2010Top 10 RSS and Syndication Technologies of 2010Best BigCo of 2010: FacebookTop Trends of 2010: App StoresMost Promising Company For 2011: SimpleGeoTop Trends of 2010: Internet TVTop 10 Startups of 2010Top Trends of 2010: PrivacyTumblr currently boasts over 11 million blogs running on its service, perhaps leading to some performance hiccups recently. In a recent comparison we did between Tumblr and the popular blogging service WordPress, we discovered that people who visit Tumblr blogs view far more pages per person and twice as many pages in total. WordPress still has many more publishers and far more site visitors, but Tumblr is doing better on a user engagement level.Heading into 2011, Tumblr has a full tank of funding petrol and is racing full speed up the page view growth slope. Content curation is expected to be a big trend of 2011, so next year could be another tipping point again for this trendy New York startup.What do you think of our choice for Best LittleCo of 2010? Do you agree with Tumblr, or should it have been another startup? As always, let us know in the comments. Tags:#2010 in Review#Features#New Media#NYT#web#Year in Review Every year since 2004, ReadWriteWeb has selected a best ‘little company.’ In past years we’ve given this honor to Flickr, 37Signals, YouTube (in 2006, the year it was acquired by Google), Twitter (in 2007, before it went mainstream), Zoho, and Aardvark. As you can see, many of these companies have gone onto much bigger things. When we select the Best LittleCo winner each year, we look for small companies (less than 100 employees) that have set the online world alight.This year there was plenty of competition. Foursquare won the battle of the check-in apps, Flipboard created an innovative iPad app that caught our imagination, Instagram burst onto the scene with a mobile photo app. The LittleCo that impressed us the most though was New York-based Tumblr.We’ve already noted that the rise of Tumblr, Posterous and other ‘light blogging’ services was one of the top trends of 2010. These are products which enable you to publish and share things very quickly and at the click of a button. A lot of the activity in this form of publishing in 2010 was due to Tumblr’s increasing usage among people outside of the early adopter set, along with pick-up from a number of traditional media companies. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Related Posts richard macmanus A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

Will Taxpayers Get Stuck With Coal’s Cleanup Tab?

first_imgWest Virginia’s problems are especially acute. The Times said that many of its coal mines are scheduled to close and environmental remediation will be costly. Damage from stripping away mountain tops to reach seams of coal can be extensive.“The goal is to make sure the coal companies clean up the mess when they leave,” Barrett told the newspaper. Regulators in Appalachia are worried that coal companies forced into bankruptcy won’t have enough money to pay for reclaiming stripped mountain tops and polluted rivers, leaving taxpayers to pick up at least some of the tab. According to an article in The New York Times, cleanup costs could amount to $1 billion. While the industry says that its cleanup plans are financially sound, states such as West Virginia aren’t so sure.There, the state has brought in an outside lawyer, Kevin Barrett, and named him a special assistant attorney general as it wrangles with Alpha Natural Resources over its legal obligations for cleanups. Alpha, now in bankruptcy, plans to earmark a total of $209 million for cleanup in five states, including West Virginia, but Barrett doesn’t think that’s enough money. Another problem: Alpha is depending on future coal sales to add to the pool, but the industry doesn’t show much potential for that.Alpha borrowed heavily to buy Massey Energy in 2011, but when the coal market collapsed, Alpha was forced by its debt to seek bankruptcy protection. The same factors — low natural gas prices that ate into sales, tougher environmental regulations, and slumping sales in China — also have affected other coal companies. Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest private-sector coal producer, filed for bankruptcy in April after losing $2 billion last year. Finances are often tangledCongress passed the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 as a way of ensuring that coal companies would not wiggle out of their financial responsibilities for repairing environmental damage even if they went belly-up. Companies were required to buy bonds that would pay for reclamation, but some states, including West Virginia, allowed big mining companies to “self-bond,” meaning that they promised to pay for reclamation but weren’t actually required to buy bonds.Peabody has nearly $1.4 billion in cleanup obligations in self-bonds, while Arch Coal and Alpha have self-bonding liabilities topping $485 million and $640 million respectively, The Washington Post reports.Alpha is now planning to buy bonds or come up with other collateral to replace most of its $240 million in self-bonds in West Virginia, but that will still leave $100 million in obligations that are not bonded, The Times said. In Wyoming, Alpha says it is hoping to replace all of the $400 million in self-bonds with surety bonds or other collateral.In the meantime, regulators are trying new tactics to unravel complicated financial underpinnings of troubled companies and make sure that there is enough money to pay for reclamation. In West Virginia, they are approaching banks that hold loans to coal companies in hopes that they can influence how the companies spend their dwindling supplies of cash.But this work can be tough going. Barrett went to court for a list of so-called “first-lien lenders,” which get paid before anyone else, after Alpha claimed that it didn’t know who they were. Barrett subpoenaed Citicorp, the agent for the lenders, to get the names, but it took Citicorp more than a month to come up with the list.A number of smaller coal companies already have defaulted on cleanup obligations, leaving abandoned strip mines and topped mountains in their wake. In addition to being just plain ugly, old mines also can leach toxic wastes into streams and groundwater.Steve Jakubowski, a bankruptcy lawyer, shared Barrett’s concerns that self-bonding promises won’t be enough to pay for environmental cleanups. Self-bonding, he told the The Post, is “not worth the paper it’s written on.”The Sierra Club says that 232 coal plants in the U.S. have been closed or scheduled to close since 2010 as the industry’s influence and share of the energy market continue their decline. “The coal industry fundamentals remain very bleak in my opinion,” Matthew Miller, a coal industry analyst with S&P Global Market Intelligence, says in a post at the Sierra Club’s website. “If there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t see it yet.” RELATED ARTICLES A Cloudy Future for CoalSierra Club’s Anti-Coal Campaign Hits a LandmarkCan Solar Power Solve the Coal Problem?Coal is No Boon for U.S. Treasury, Report SaysThe True Cost of Electricitylast_img read more

Everything to Know About NAB 2016: Cameras, Lenses, Gear, and More

first_imgNAB 2016 has come and gone. Here are ALL of the major announcements from the latest National Association of Broadcasters show.Top image via ShutterstockIt’s tough to imagine how the 2016 NAB show will be remembered. There were no announcements regarding amazing new cinema or broadcast cameras from any of the major manufacturers. In fact, the two biggest camera announcements came from Craft and Lytro — neither known to most audiences.This was a year dedicated to VR, 360-degree video, and stabilization tech. With regards to VR, the future is still up in the air. At the moment, it just isn’t practical for most users to shoot 360-degree footage due to the crippling cost of VR cameras. High-end rigs cost more than a car, and lower-price VR setups still cost as much as an actual production camera. Why buy a six-camera GoPro Omni for $4,999 when I could buy a Canon C100 or a Blackmagic URSA Mini for cheaper?Image via FoMA SystemsThere was some exciting tech announced regarding stabilization. Drones, gimbals, and ARRI’s purchase of the Artemis Trinity all grabbed headlines. There were so many new support rigs, we had to write two different roundups (Support Gear and More Support Gear) – and we still didn’t cover everything.NAB 2016 wasn’t a bust — but it was certainly quiet. After Blackmagic stole all the headlines with the URSA Mini in 2015, Canon positioned themselves to dominate NAB 2016 — but they barely made a blip on the radar. In fact, it was Sony who had all the foot traffic checking out all of their cameras on the floor. Sony was the only major manufacturer to announce a major new camera along with serious updates for their existing line.There are still plenty of shows left this year, like Photokina and IBC. In fact, rumors have Canon releasing a new mirrorless line at Photokina, but the real question is will we ever see the 5D MKIV? Only time will tell. With that wrap up of the event itself, let’s dive into everything worth looking at from NAB 2016.CamerasHere is a quick recap of the latest cameras, for more detailed specs and info check out the biggest camera announcements from NAB 2016.SonySony made a splash at NAB 2016 announcing the HDC-4800, a Super 35mm camera that can shoot up to 480 fps in 4K. They also debuted the PXW-Z150, a UHD camcorder that can shoot 4K footage and HD up to 120 fps. Most readers will be interested in the firmware updates for the Sony FS5 and FS7. Sony also introduced the AXS-R7 external recorder for the F55.CraftCraft stole the show without even having a booth. The modular camera came out of nowhere. The company had been teasing a production camera leading up to NAB 2016, where they finally released all the specs on their website. The biggest note was that all the information came from the website specs, as a functional camera has not been revealed — only a 3D rendering.Lytro Lytro showed off a camera unlike any other, using Lytro’s light-field technology. This camera doesn’t shoot images as much as it gathers information. The Lytro Cinema captures every ray of light in a scene, giving each pixel color properties. This doesn’t only give you control of color grading, but in post you can focus and change the depth of field. This gives you infinite creative choices in editing. The camera will also work wonders in VR.CanonNo updates on the 5D MKIV or any other DSLRs. The company did announce the ME200S-SH, a Super 35 camera that has the same sensor used in the C100 series. PanasonicPanasonic touted two new midrange 4K UX camcorders — AG-UX180 and the AG-UX90 — plus the Varicam LT that was announced earlier this year. The Varicam LT is a 4K Super 35mm camera designed for indie filmmakers.KinefinityKinefinity unveiled the new 5K and 6K Terra cameras. Both cameras are rather impressive, proving that the Chinese manufacturer is making giant strides in trying to break into an international market.Leica Leica debuted the new Leica SL, a 4K mirrorless camera designed to take on the likes of the a7S and GH4.LensesIn one of the main topics we have not yet covered this year, there were quite a few new lenses announced at NAB 2016.SLR Magic GH4 Anamorphic LensesEarly last year, Panasonic announced a GH4 update that offered support for anamorphic lenses. The problem? The only anamorphic lenses built for the GH4 needed an adapter or DIY setup. SLR Magic has remedied the situation with a new lineup designed for the GH4. Check out more over at No Film School.Zeiss AnamorphicThe new Zeiss Master Anamorphics offer interchangeable rear and front elements, giving you a multitude of options. Their new Compact Zooms are designed for lighter cameras, and their T1.5 Compact Primes are also now available. No Film School has more on the new Zeiss glass.Zenit LensImage via PetaPixelZenit returns with the new Zenitar 50mm f/0.95, 50mm f/1.2, and 85mm f/1.2 lenses. These lenses are all expected to see a 2017 release at a fairly low price. Peta Pixel has more on these new Zenit lenses.ArriARRI and Zeiss introduced two new lenses — the MA28 and MA180. The MA28 is a 28mm lens with T1.9 aperture speed, ideal for low-light work and shallow depth of field. The MA180 is a 180mm lens with T2.8 and a front diameter of 95mm.SchneiderSchneider has a new full frame Xenon lens — the Xenon FF 18mm T2.4. The company claims this to be the fastest full frame prime lens on the market. See more on No Film School.Video EditingWipster vs Frame.ioBoth Wipster and Frame.io made major strides in their video editing platforms. Both companies had previously hosted videos on their sites, which allowed editors to send proofs to clients — who could then make notes and adjustments during playback. Now both companies have integrated with Premiere Pro. Wipster released the Review Panel and Frame.io announced a Premiere Pro plugin (they also have a FCPX plugin).Adobe Adobe announced several updates to the Creative Cloud, most notably the major Premiere Pro VR capabilities. They also boosted Lumetri color controls, giving you more abilites when color grading.FCPX Editor KitsPremiumBeat teamed up with Shutterstock to create a new series of FCPX tutorials. Unlike your typical tutorial, we are providing footage, music, and assets for FREE. This allows you to accurately follow along and truly hone your skills as an editor. The Editor Kits are also featured on the official Apple Final Cut Pro page. You can download the assets and watch the tutorials at PremiumBeat.com/FCPX.Monitors, Lighting, Audio Equipment, and GearThere is always so much new gear at every NAB show. If you’re looking for more in-depth coverage on a specific product, be sure to check out our NAB 2016 roundups;The Newest in Monitoring, Lighting, and AudioThe Latest Camera Rigs, Dollies, Gimbals, Drones, and MoreMore of the Latest Camera Rigs, Dollies, Gimbals, and DronesDJIDJI was quick to make headlines for their major announcements — a new cinematic drone and a new Ronin gimbal. The Matrice 600 hexacopter will take your production cameras to the sky. The drone was designed to mount the new Ronin-MX gimbal — which can easily carry anything from a DSLR up to a RED or ALEXA Mini.ARRIIn a surprise move, ARRI announced the purchase of the Artemis Trinity from Sachtler/Vitec. The stablization system combines a gimbal with a traditional Steadicam rig. ARRI also announce some new lenses they collaborated on with Zeiss, as well as some great updates for the SkyPanel series of lights.MonitorsSmallHD really impressed the audience with their new SmallHDR line — a monitor so rugged it survived being beaten by bats, bullets, and trucks.Atomos announced a new flagship monitor/recorder, the Shogun Inferno. Blackmagic revealed their new Video Assist 4K, which was designed for ease with its touchscreen display.Read more about all of these monitors in our roundup.LightingAs previously mentioned, ARRI had a fantastic update to the SkyPanel, giving owners instant access to a catalog of gel colors, allowing you to change your color temperature to just about any color imaginable.KinoFlo introduced the Select Series LED fixtures with a Kelvin range of 2700K to 6500K. Fotodiox introduced a new FlapJack LED Wand and LED Ring Light. Ikan released some new Lyra LED Soft Lights, and Aputure showed off the new Lightstorm COB 120t fresnel. You can read about all of these lights here. In addition to our roundup — Hive Lighting debuted the incredible WASP 1000 and BEE 1000, two lights with the output of a 2.5K HMI. Mole-Richardson showed off the Tener LED, a 10K Tungsten equivalent. Each of these lights can be powered by a regular outlet. AudioTascam revealed the DR-10SG, a recorder with built-in microphone that attaches directly to your camera, ideal for DSLR and mirrorless shooters. Zoom introduced the U-24 and U-44 interface, which allow you to connect microphones, instruments, or monitors into an array of recording devices like computers and iPads. Aputure announced the low budget A-Lyra Lavalier mic and D3 Shotgun mic. Sennheiser showed off a new supercardioid microphone also designed for DSLR and mirrorless users. The MKE 440 is a stereo pair set in a V shape, said to represent the viewpoint of the camera. Read more about these microphones in our roundup.Other Tech and StorageFor storing and managing footage, G Tech debuted the G-Rack 12, a RAID 6 storage solution than can store up to 120TB of data. Switcher Studio‘s app allows you to control live camera switching through your mobile device.For storing gear, the new Pelican Air line has kept the same durability of the Pelican name with a 40% weight reduction. Those with drones will be excited to hear about the CaseCruzer, a durable shell that not only protects your drone, but can also charge three batteries and the remote.As far as stabilizers and gimbals, there were just too many to list here. Brand new gear from Kessler, eye catching devices by Edelkrone, a new EVF from Zacuto, the Freefly Alta 8 cinema drone, and the amazing robotic arm — KIRA.Be sure to check out the corresponding NAB 2016 posts, The Latest Camera Rigs, Dollies, Gimbals, Drones, and More and the aptly named More of the Latest Camera Rigs, Dollies, Gimbals, and Drones.That does it for NAB 2016. What are you most excited about getting your hands on? Let us know in the comments below.last_img read more