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22 November 2019

First Ever Climate-Resilient Nation: Dominica Amazes World With Formidable Eco-Conscious Economic Model and Inspiring Survival Stories After Hurricane Maria

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Dominica aims to become the world's first climate-resilient nation, with critical support from the Citizenship by Investment Programme
Dominica aims to become the world's first climate-resilient nation, with critical support from the Citizenship by Investment Programme - (www.cbiu.gov.dm)
Affectionately called the 'Nature Isle of the Caribbean', the Commonwealth of Dominica leaves a lasting impression on those who visit it, conquering more and more travel journalists. Enthusiastic reviews keep pouring in, especially about the people on the beautiful island, who are known for their kindness, peacefulness and strong community sense.
Having resiliently survived several natural disasters in recent years, there is little now that shakes the 75,000 inhabitants of the island. The small but resolute country is winning over a wide spectrum of international stakeholders, ranging from nature lovers to economic experts.
A National Geographic article this week paid tribute to Dominicans' resilience and unity in the face of adversity, noting the government's formidable turnaround pace following mass devastation worth 226% of GDP in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017, at a time when the island was still recovering from 2015's Tropical Storm Erika. Despite the magnitude of the destruction and the psychological cicatrices, Dominica not only prevailed, but exceeded all expectations. Immediately after Maria, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit called on the international community to join Dominica's fight against climate change and support its goal to become "the world's first climate-resilient nation". The response was instantaneous.

Dominica after Hurricane Maria and two years later. The infrastructure was rehabilitated using Citizenship by Investment funds.
Dominica after Hurricane Maria and two years later. The infrastructure was rehabilitated using Citizenship by Investment funds.
To date, Dominica attracts foreign direct investment from reputable individuals and families around the world through its Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme. Investors are willing to contribute with significant amounts to Dominica's economy and receive its citizenship in return, along with a sense of pride for supporting the island's ambitious pledge to become fully climate resilient. The solidarity among investors grows with the completion of more and more luxury eco-resorts, currently counting Marriott, Hilton, Kempinski, Jungle Bay, Secret Bay and Sanctuary Rainforest, whose shares qualify for citizenship, provided the applicants first pass a rigorous due diligence process. The latter was marked with 10/10 points in this year's CBI Index, released by Professional Wealth Management (PWM) magazine, a publication from the Financial Times.

In August, multinational firm PricewaterhouseCoopers produced an extensive assessment of Dominica's CBI Programme for the past five years. The report concluded that "CBIP-funded public expenditure generated tangible impacts on almost every aspect of life in Dominica" and that "it was instrumental to the post-Maria recovery effort".

Earlier this year, leading accounting company Ernst & Young, British financial firm Smith & Williamson, and eminent Queen's Counsel Balraj Bhatia all pledged for Dominica's integrity, concluding that CBI could not be used as evidence of tax residence, therefore dispelling any myths where the two concepts were often confused. In fact, Dominica scored so well against various indicators valued by investors and was called a model for transparency and accountability of CBI funds, that it was officially declared as offering the world's best economic citizenship.

A few weeks ago, the Financial Times' PWM released a documentary unravelling just how much the CBI funding helped transform the island into a pristine ecotourism destination, ripe for sustainable investment opportunities. The 5-part series notes that Dominica is very selective about the CBI-approved hotels it allows to be built and prioritises quality over quantity, similar to whom it accepts as citizen through CBI. Dominica's strategy is by far not a race to the bottom, but quite the opposite – it is establishing a league of its own by building a sustainable ecotourism sector that educates visitors, citizens and businesses to respect the island's natural surroundings and way of living.

Importantly, the documentary notes that the Dominican diaspora, many of whom left after Maria and Erika, is slowly returning home. The CBI hotels are creating thousands of jobs in construction and hospitality, whereas those with an entrepreneurial spirit have the chance to set up their own businesses in ancillary services in travel and tourism. Dominica's thriving luxury ecotourism will further bring employment and business opportunities to farmers; fishermen; taxi drivers; tour operators; wellness specialists; artists specialising in handcrafting, culture and heritage; the Kalinago tribe; street food vendors; local artisans; restaurant and bar owners; Air B'n'B hosts; etc. Moreover, the National Employment Programme, also sponsored by CBI, tackles youth unemployment and was also involved in a post-Maria "Community Clean-Up and Beautification" action.

Meanwhile, the government has been putting aside millions from the CBI Programme to raise funds for the construction of a new international airport, "the only missing link" to catapult Dominica onto the global tourism scene, though still keeping in mind the quality-over-quantity principle. A new cruise village and port, also CBI-funded, will complement the island's regional connectivity and put Dominica firmly on the cruise map.

In addition, the new 7MW geothermal plant, partly funded by CBI, would provide the island with clean energy, lower electricity costs for the public and private sector, and ensure energy security in the long term.

21 November 2019

Seventeenth Century French Artifact Arrives In Seattle For An Immersive Exhibition

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By donning a HoloLens, guests are taken into a 15- to 20-minute experience where the Mont-Saint-Michel model comes to life.
By donning a HoloLens, guests are taken into a 15- to 20-minute experience where the Mont-Saint-Michel model comes to life.
Seattle's Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) and Microsoft Corp. on Thursday announced the opening of a new exhibit, "Mont-Saint-Michel: Digital Perspectives on the Model," which features a unique blend of 17th and 21st century technology.

Powered by Microsoft AI and mixed-reality technology as well as the recently released HoloLens 2 device, the interactive exhibition transports visitors into a holographic tour of the picturesque Mont-Saint-Michel, a medieval monastery perched atop a remote tidal island off the coast of Normandy, France.

The virtual experience is complemented by a physical relief map of the Mont-Saint-Michel, an intricate, three-dimensional model of the landmark. Entirely crafted by hand in the 1600s by the resident Benedictine monks, the 1/144-scale model precisely depicts the monument in such intricate detail that maps like this were considered valuable strategic tools to leaders like Napoleon and King Louis XIV, who considered the maps military secrets and hid them from public view.
"The Museum of History & Industry is honored to share this icon of world history, enhanced by leading-edge technology, to create a unique experience born of innovations both past and present," said Leonard Garfield, MOHAI's executive director. "More than 300 years separate the remarkable relief map and today, but the persistent human drive toward invention and creativity bridges those years, reflecting the unbroken quest for greater understanding and appreciation of the world around us."
The opening of the exhibit is timed with the 40th anniversary of the Mont-Saint-Michel being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the first time the relief map, as well as the mixed-reality experience, has been in North America.
"The relief maps were technological marvels of Louis XIV and Napoleon's time. It's exciting to see how we can blend old and new technology to unlock the hidden treasures of history, especially for younger generations," said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. "This exhibit provides a unique model for preserving cultural heritage around the world, something Microsoft is committed to through our AI for Good program."
The Mont-Saint-Michel experience is an example of Microsoft's AI for Cultural Heritage program, which aims to leverage the power of AI to empower people and organizations dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of cultural heritage. 

Microsoft is working with nonprofits, universities and governments around the world to use AI to help preserve the languages we speak, the places we live and the artifacts we treasure. For example, earlier today Microsoft announced it is working with experts in New Zealand to include te reo Māori in its Microsoft Translator application, which will enable instant translations of text from more than 60 languages into te reo Māori and vice versa. This will be one of the first indigenous languages to use the latest machine learning translation technology to help make the language accessible to as many people as possible. 

  • The AI for Cultural Heritage program is the fourth pillar of Microsoft's AI for Good portfolio, a five-year commitment to use AI to tackle some of society's biggest challenges.
The relief map is on loan to MOHAI from the Musée des Plans-Reliefs in Paris, which houses more than 100 historically significant and well-preserved relief maps. The relief map of Mont-Saint-Michel is considered the museum's crown jewel.
"One of the challenges in the history of art is the relationship with the public. To gain the attention, to capture the view or the interest of the public, is not always evident," said Emmanuel Starcky, director, Musée des Plans-Reliefs. "With the HoloLens technology, you have now the possibility to realize immersive experiences in art, where you still see the reality but have more information about it. It will be a unique experience for the American public to discover the relief map, its condition in the 17th century and its evolution through three centuries, as well as reflect on the purpose of those relief maps."
Drawing from hundreds of thousands of detailed images, Iconem, a leader in the digital preservation of cultural heritage sites, used Microsoft AI to create a photorealistic 3D digital model of the historic structure. Then, French mixed-reality specialists at HoloForge Interactive developed a unique Microsoft HoloLens experience to draw people into the artifact like never before.

  • The "Mont-Saint-Michel: Digital Perspectives on the Model" exhibit, including both the original relief map and mixed-reality experience, will be on display at MOHAI Nov. 23, 2019 through Jan. 26, 2020.
SOURCE: Microsoft Corp.

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20 November 2019

Peace 4 Animals & Wildlife SOS Launch "Refuse to Ride Elephants" Campaign to End the Cruel Practice of Riding Elephants in India

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Peace 4 Animals and Wildlife SOS have joined forces to launch the campaign "Refuse to Ride Elephants: End The Abuse," in India, which is aimed to raise awareness to the abuse and enslavement of the exploitative "elephant riding" tourism industry.
Peace 4 Animals and Wildlife SOS have joined forces to launch the campaign "Refuse to Ride Elephants: End The Abuse," in India, which is aimed to raise awareness to the abuse and enslavement of the exploitative "elephant riding" tourism industry.
Peace 4 Animals and Wildlife SOS have joined forces to launch the campaign "Refuse to Ride Elephants: End The Abuse" in India, which is aimed to raise awareness to the abuse and enslavement of the exploitative "elephant riding" tourism industry.

While a pervasive problem throughout Asia, this campaign focuses on the elephant riding industry in Jaipur, India, the epicenter of the abusive trade. Sadly, in Jaipur, more than 100 elephants are enslaved and exploited to carry tourists up to the Amer Fort.

Beginning this month, messages from "Refuse to Ride" are being distributed across billboards, auto rickshaws, and print advertising in travel and airline magazines, as well as on digital media throughout Jaipur, India, and the world.
"Riding elephants might appear to be innocent, but the industry is driven by money and greed, and can be very deceiving to tourists. What transpires before the elephant ride is animal cruelty and torture at its worst. Once stolen as babies from their families in the wild, they are beaten until they can't take it any more in order to break their spirit and force them into a life of enslavement to line people's pockets," said Katie Cleary, Founder of Peace 4 Animals and World Animal News. "Our goal is to raise awareness about the horrors that elephants are subjected to so that people around the world can make an educated and compassionate decision to help end this abhorrent industry by refusing to ride elephants."
Most tourists are unaware that the elephants exploited by tourism are put through a cruel practice called "phajaan" or "breaking of the spirit." The elephants, which now cower and obey commands to avoid further beatings, are forced into hard labor for up to 18 hours per day for 50 years or more until they finally collapse or die. The elephants are often starved and deprived of medical care for acute injuries.
"We have found that most tourists would be horrified if they knew the mistreatment that these beautiful elephants endure just to provide them with a few hours of entertainment," stated Nikki Sharp, Executive Director of Wildlife SOS. "Our hope is that this message will resonate with animal lovers around the globe and that people who love elephants won't ride them."

The Video:

Statistics about rampant elephant abuse in Jaipur, India, include:

  • Tourists are often lured in and fooled by false claims that the elephants are well-treated.
  • Elephants usually carry the load of three riders and a heavy saddle.
  • Nearly one-third of Jaipur elephants are more than 50 years old.
  • Nearly 20% of Jaipur elephants are blind, yet are still forced to walk on the busy roads.
  • 100% of Jaipur elephants suffer from foot problems such as deformation, arthritis, and cracks.
  • Most elephants have been illegally trafficked from the wild for elephant riding.
  • Asian elephants are an endangered species and the elephant tourism industry is having a negative impact on protecting them in the wild.
Peace 4 Animals and Wildlife SOS have joined forces to launch the campaign "Refuse to Ride Elephants: End The Abuse," in India, which is aimed to raise awareness to the abuse and enslavement of the exploitative "elephant riding" tourism industry.
Peace 4 Animals and Wildlife SOS have joined forces to launch the campaign "Refuse to Ride Elephants: End The Abuse," in India, which is aimed to raise awareness to the abuse and enslavement of the exploitative "elephant riding" tourism industry.
SOURCE: Peace 4 Animals

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19 November 2019

Losing Lena: Removing One Image To Make Millions Of Women Feel Welcome In Tech [Trailer Included]

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Losing Lena: Removing One Image To Make Millions Of Women Feel Welcome In Tech
Losing Lena: Removing One Image To Make Millions Of Women Feel Welcome In Tech (PRNewsfoto/FINCH)
There's a secret hidden in almost every website and every digital image you've ever seen. That secret is Lena, a Playboy centerfold. She is "a face more studied than the Mona Lisa's" and has been called Tech's Original Sin.

But how did a centerfold from the 70's become the most used test image in the world? And what impact has it had on women studying or entering tech industries?

Introducing Losing Lena, a new film created by FINCH and Clemenger BBDO Sydney for tech organizations, Creatable & Code Like a Girl, that asks us to help remove one image to make millions of women feel welcome in tech.

Lena's story began in 1972, when the Swedish model posed as the Miss November centerfold. The next year, her centerfold was chosen by some men at the University of Southern California (USC) as an ideal test image for the algorithms they were working on to turn physical photos into digital bits. This research laid the groundwork for what would later become the jpeg, an image standard that revolutionized our digital world.

Incredibly, 46 years on, Lena is still the most infamous test image in the world. She is symbolic of how women were left out, and pushed out, of the industry.

Losing Lena is a compelling documentary that questions the very tenets of the tech industry and leaves us pondering: Why wasn't Lena retired years ago? It explores a thread that binds together so many similar challenges and biases women in tech have experienced around the world.
With appearance in tens of thousands of journals, educational resources and books, Lena has been taught to young women and men in schools and universities for decades. We need to question, what place does Lena's photograph have in the modern world of tech industry and education where women are still fighting for an equal place alongside men?
Losing Lena ends with a call on individuals, tech companies, universities and image processing facilities around the world to stop using Lena, and to help drive equal representation of, engagement with, and respect for women and girls across all areas of tech.
Code Like a Girl founder and CEO, Ally Watson, said, "The role of Lena's image in tech's history is representative of so many of our industry's shortcomings. Tech is used by everyone – no matter your age, gender, ethnicity, or sexual identity. But when our tech is developed by a small subset of homogenous individuals, it's impossible for the end product to be without bias.

This documentary illustrates just how much effort is still needed to increase diversity in the teams building tech. It's a call to the leaders of our industry to commit to Losing Lena. Because with the removal of one image, we're better positioned to welcome millions of women to the table."
FINCH's Kyra Bartley, the film's director, added, "I was struck by how succinctly Lena's story demonstrates the impact of small, seemingly inconsequential actions on the generations who come after - and of course the spotlight that throws on our current attitudes to recognizing and addressing problematic practices within STEM industries.

Far from being a finger-pointing exercise though, the film encourages people to engage with these ideas as part of a broader conversation on diversity, and to consider the ways in which their own actions could contribute to moving us all forward."
Lena added, "I retired from modeling a long time ago. It's time I retired from tech, too. We can make a simple change today that creates a lasting change for tomorrow. Let's commit to losing me."
As we rush into artificial intelligence and machine learning, some of the biggest technological changes of our time, Losing Lena questions whether we're able to learn from the unconscious biases of the past? Or are we doomed to repeat them?

  • Members of the tech industry, businesses, universities and organizations can commit to Losing Lena at www.losinglena.com, as well as find substitute images that can be used for image processing testing.

'Losing Lena' - The Trailer:


The film will be available to view at a series of events hosted by Code Like a Girl, or exclusively on Facebook Watch from November 26. The full list of screenings and ticket purchase details can be found at codelikeagirl.com/events.

SOURCE: FINCH

18 November 2019

Wonder Media's Sexual Abuse Prevention Animated Series Produced for the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center Foundation, Adopted by the Boy Scouts of America and the Crimes Against Children Research Center

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The "Protect Yourself Rules," and "Stop the Secrets that Hurt" animated series produced by the edtech animation studio, Wonder Media, for the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center Foundation, has attracted 100 million views worldwide and has been adopted by The Boy Scouts of America to become mandatory viewing for every Cub Scout globally.
The "Protect Yourself Rules," and "Stop the Secrets that Hurt" animated series produced by the edtech animation studio, Wonder Media, for the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center Foundation, has attracted 100 million views worldwide and has been adopted by The Boy Scouts of America to become mandatory viewing for every Cub Scout globally.
The "Protect Yourself Rules," and "Stop the Secrets that Hurt" animated series produced by the edtech animation studio, Wonder Media, for the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center Foundation, not only has attracted 100 million views worldwide, but has been adopted by The Boy Scouts of America to become mandatory viewing for every Cub Scout globally.

Additionally, "Education for Justice," an initiative of the United Nations, has placed all of "The Protect Yourself Rules" animations in their video library. Educators in 15,000 cities have downloaded the printable extension lessons to share with their students.

The huge success of this animated series is based on research that shows children will mimic behaviors of an animated character before they absorb advice from an adult. Wonder Media was co-founded by Terry Thoren, the former CEO of Klasky Csupo, Inc, the studio that incubated The Simpsons and produced Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys.

The Protect Yourself Rules was developed and scripted by child advocates, therapists, and national scholars under the guidance of Dr. Jon Conte, PhD.

The "Protect Yourself Rules," and "Stop the Secrets that Hurt" animated series produced by the edtech animation studio, Wonder Media, for the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center Foundation, has attracted 100 million views worldwide and has been adopted by The Boy Scouts of America to become mandatory viewing for every Cub Scout globally.
The "Protect Yourself Rules," and "Stop the Secrets that Hurt" animated series produced by the edtech animation studio, Wonder Media, for the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center Foundation, has attracted 100 million views worldwide and has been adopted by The Boy Scouts of America to become mandatory viewing for every Cub Scout globally.
"ChildHelp reports that a child abuse claim is made every 10 seconds," said Terry Thoren, CEO and Co-Founder of Wonder Media, "This cannot go on. The medium of animation is a powerful tool that is obviously making a difference. We are dedicated to the well being of children and changing these statistics radically in our lifetime. We are not alone: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services created the Administration for Children & Families, and many private alliances such as the National Children's Alliance and organizations are deeply enrolled in creating awareness to bring these statistics down."
"When Terry Thoren approached the Foundation in 2015 he convinced us as to the powerful nature of animation," said John Thoresen, CEO of the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center Foundation. "We could not be more pleased with the success of our efforts that could not have occurred without the professional direction and animation of Wonder Media."
SOURCE: Wonder Media

Holiday Party Do's and Don'ts: Ten Ways to Stay off the "Naughty List"

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Holiday Party Do's and Don'ts: Ten Ways to Stay off the "Naughty List"
Holiday Party Do's and Don'ts: Ten Ways to Stay off the "Naughty List" (PRNewsfoto/XpertHR)
The holiday season brings many reasons to celebrate, and some employers make merry by hosting an employee holiday party. This occasion presents an opportunity for employers to express appreciation for the hard work performed by staff all year.

Despite their laudable intentions, employers could face liability for the conduct of employees who behave inappropriately at a work festivity, according to XpertHR, an online compliance resource. A holiday party may create unintended negative consequences for employers in a variety of ways. The workplace holiday party can become a breeding ground for all kinds of regrettable and potentially unlawful behavior, from claims of religious discrimination to sexual harassment and drunk driving.

Employers should be especially careful when serving alcohol at a holiday party. Without safeguards in place, alcohol consumption can quickly transform a lively celebration into a minefield of inadvertent consequences. With lowered inhibitions, employees may make unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate gestures, or offensive remarks which can result in claims of harassment and discrimination. In addition, if an intoxicated employee drives away from the company party and injures someone, or causes property damage, an employer may be liable for negligence.

"Providing employees with the opportunity to socialize with co-workers in a relaxing environment is an excellent way to improve employee morale," explains Beth Zoller, Legal Editor, XpertHR. "However, serving alcohol to employees is a risk and a potential liability. Therefore, employers should ensure that employees are aware of the employer's code of conduct and policies regarding harassment and improper conduct. This is particularly true in the #MeToo era when the risk of liability is heightened."
Be aware that if alcohol is being served, attendees may be less likely to behave appropriately. Overindulgence in alcohol may also lead to negligence claims for property damage or physical and emotional injuries, whether the employee is on or off the clock. Management should make sure that all employees are completely sober before getting behind the wheel and avoid drinking and driving while intoxicated at all costs.
"Even though the event may be held away from the employer's premises and during what is generally considered to be nonworking hours, the employer should reiterate that the same policies are in effect and that employees should treat each other with respect and common courtesy," says Zoller.
Religious symbols, while seemingly innocuous, may appear culturally discriminatory and offend employees. Employers should avoid overly religious decorations and music as this may lead to religious discrimination claims. Further, attendance should not be mandatory and employers should be willing excuse an employee from attending a holiday party as a religious accommodation if it violates the employee's own religious practices.

10 ways an employer can minimize the risk of liability when it comes to holiday parties:

  • Notify Employees that All Workplace Policies Remain in Effect
  • Have Supervisors Set a Good Example
  • Exercise Caution if Serving Alcohol
  • Keep Controlled Substances Under Control
  • Keep the Focus Off Religion
  • Do Not Make Attendance Mandatory
  • Plan the Menu and Entertainment For a Diverse Group
  • Be Inclusive of All Employees
  • Consider Whether to Invite Spouses or Significant Others
  • Respond to Complaints in a Timely Fashion
To download a free report on how to host a compliant holiday party, visit XpertHR.

SOURCE: XpertHR

17 November 2019

Walt Disney World Resort Brings the Adventure of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge to Air Travelers at Orlando International Airport

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First Order Stormtroopers appear to be on a terminal train at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 16, 2019. Disney installed these wraps on the terminal shuttle stations to bring the adventure of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to airport travelers
First Order Stormtroopers appear to be on a terminal train at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 16, 2019. Disney installed these wraps on the terminal shuttle stations to bring the adventure of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to airport travelers. (Steven Diaz, photographer)
The Force is strong today throughout Orlando International Airport with the debut of new décor that helps travelers feel as if they've stepped into Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the new 14-acre land inside Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Disney is the first organization the airport has invited to create artistic renderings that wrap shuttle stations within the airline terminals. It's a creative first for Central Florida's major transport hub that welcomes nearly 50 million passengers each year.

A traveler at Orlando International Airpott in Orlando, Fla., passes by a scene from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios prior to boarding a shuttle to the Main Terminal, Nov. 16, 2019. Disney installed artistic wraps on the shuttle stations to immerse airport travelers in scenes from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
A traveler at Orlando International Airpott in Orlando, Fla., passes by a scene from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios prior to boarding a shuttle to the Main Terminal, Nov. 16, 2019. Disney installed artistic wraps on the shuttle stations to immerse airport travelers in scenes from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. (Steven Diaz, photographer)
"We are constantly evolving the airport experience to make it more service oriented, passenger friendly and fun," said Raymond Anderson, senior director of concessions and properties for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. "This new installation provides a preview of what vacationers and business travelers alike can expect at Walt Disney World. It's also the most recent in a long line of collaborations between the airport and Disney over the decades."
"Our Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge art installation reflects how very special the Walt Disney World Resort and Orlando International Airport relationship is," said Claire Bilby, senior vice president of sales, services and events for Walt Disney World. "We've had a string of fruitful projects with the airport, like having two supersonic jets land simultaneously to celebrate the opening of Epcot in 1982, creating the groundbreaking Disney's Magical Express service in 2005, today's first-of-its kind art installation and so much more. The airport is Central Florida's 'welcome' to visitors from around the globe. We're honored to put our Disney magic to work in making that welcome exciting and memorable."
A traveler at Orlando International Airpott in Orlando, Fla., passes by a scene from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios prior to boarding a shuttle to the Main Terminal, Nov. 16, 2019. Disney installed these artistic wraps on the shuttle stations to immerse airport travelers in scenes from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
A traveler at Orlando International Airpott in Orlando, Fla., passes by a scene from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios prior to boarding a shuttle to the Main Terminal, Nov. 16, 2019. Disney installed these artistic wraps on the shuttle stations to immerse airport travelers in scenes from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. (Steven Diaz, photographer)
As travelers arrive in Orlando and prepare to board shuttles for the airport's Main Terminal, they will see life-size depictions of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge that look as if visitors could step right into the new land.

A child prepares to board a shuttle to the Main Terminal at Orlando International Airport, Nov. 16, 2019, in Orlando Fla. Disney installed artistic renderings on the terminal shuttle stations to bring the adventure of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to airport travelers.
A child prepares to board a shuttle to the Main Terminal at Orlando International Airport, Nov. 16, 2019, in Orlando Fla. Disney installed artistic renderings on the terminal shuttle stations to bring the adventure of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to airport travelers. (Steven Diaz, photographer)
One scene creates a dimensional landscape that feels as if visitors are standing inside Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, where travelers can see the iconic Millennium Falcon and other landmarks from the new land. In another scene, it appears as if First Order Stormtroopers are waiting to step off the shuttle as the train arrives in the station.

  • Combined, these artistic representations of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge stretch longer than eight full-size buses. They will remain in place into 2020.
A guest at Orlando International Airport stops to take a selfie with droids from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge outside the airport’s Magic of Disney store in the Main Terminal, Nov. 16, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. The droids were brought to the airport to help travelers feel some of the fun and excitement of the new land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort.
A guest at Orlando International Airport stops to take a selfie with droids from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge outside the airport’s Magic of Disney store in the Main Terminal, Nov. 16, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. The droids were brought to the airport to help travelers feel some of the fun and excitement of the new land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort. (Steven Diaz, photographer)
More new fun and excitement from a galaxy far, far away can be had elsewhere inside Orlando International Airport. Also debuting today at the Magic of Disney store in the Main Terminal West Hall – available to all airport guests, with or without boarding passes – is a new photo location featuring droids from the Star Wars galaxy. When the airport's second Magic of Disney store, in the Main Terminal East Hall, reopens Nov. 22, 2019, it will feature a 36-foot-long video screen on an exterior wall showing scenes from Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. This will be another ideal photo spot, giving visitors an enticing glimpse of the new land.

A First Order Stormtrooper appears to stand outside the shuttle station at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 16, 2019, in an artistic rendering installed by Disney at the airport to bring the excitement of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to airport travelers.
A First Order Stormtrooper appears to stand outside the shuttle station at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 16, 2019, in an artistic rendering installed by Disney at the airport to bring the excitement of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to airport travelers. (Steven Diaz, photographer)
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge invites guests to live their own Star Wars adventures at Disney's Hollywood Studios. They can take control of the Millennium Falcon, build a droid or a lightsaber, sample galactic food and drinks and discover much more. 
A groundbreaking new attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, opens Dec. 5, 2019, inside the land, bringing guests into a climactic battle between the Resistance and the First Order in an experience of cinematic scale.
SOURCE: Walt Disney World Resort

16 November 2019

How To Keep Branding Consistent In Business

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Black pencils and design word
Black pencils and design word (image via Pexels)
Brand consistency is important, even down to the fonts you use in-house for your company. It shows a level of professionalism and commitment to making sure that the brand as a whole is fluid, from social media platforms to literature you hand out to clients. So here are some tips to keep branding consistent in business.

Give Your Staff The Relevant Branding

As new staff members come in and the content you produce online and through business continues, it’s good to ensure that every staff member has the relevant branding tools needed to do their work. This even comes down to the company font that they have when having conversations over email. Look at what might be missing or needs amending throughout your business branding and figure out why this might be. Your staff are essential to what is produced throughout your company, and if you don’t take the time to make sure everyone has the right branding tools, there’s likely to be errors and mistakes made. As your company grows, you want to be paying more attention to everything that is going out because it ends up being seen by a lot more people, some of which who love to point out the negatives. It might be worth to have a regular check-up to ensure that every staff member is using the right font and styling for everything they work on, and that is seen by customers and clients.

Look Back On What Exists Already When Creating Something New

Whenever something new is being created, it’s good to look back on the content and things you already have out there. It’s a great springboard to ensure that you’re still remaining consistent with your brand, no matter how many staff members come and go in the existence of your business. Try to keep an archive when it comes to your branding and also to have some instruction documents on how your business branding is conducted across the various platforms that the business uses. With any business, attention to detail is important and the more consistent you can be when it comes to branding, the more recognizable the brand will be to your customers and even those who are not yet customers. It’s all about providing an imprint and a mark on the map of the business industry you’re in.

Establish Brand Personality On Social Media

With any corporate identity, it’s essential that you have a brand personality. How do you want to come across to your customers and to the public in general? Is there perhaps a certain personality you want to stick to in order to attract your niche market or do you want to open up the potential for more customers from a wide range of areas. It’s never too late to change the personality of your brand, but once you’ve nailed it, it’s important to remain consistent from there. Social media is a powerful tool and one that all businesses can benefit from. This is where your personality is put into the spotlight, and it is therefore, necessary to ensure that you have that same personality online, no matter who is controlling your channels. Whether that’s a number of people in-house or if you outsource the work to a company. Like social media, it’s important to keep this communicated between those involved in representing the brand’s voice online.

The online world has never been so influential and powerful. So it’s really important that there’s always a constant monitoring of the brand’s voice online, no matter how big or small the content is that you create and promote.

Have A Branding Police Squad

Unless there’s someone constantly looking at all the material and checking that it’s aligned with the company’s branding, things can get missed, and mistakes can be made. So, it might be worth it for your company to think about creating a branding ‘police squad’. This could be a group of staff members, all within different departments who are responsible for keeping an eye on the branding guidelines of the company and making sure that they are met. Pick those that have a keen eye for detail and don’t get bored of taking their time when looking over various amounts of content and documents.

Keeping brand consistency is essential, particularly in today’s modern society. It’s harder to become recognized amongst the noise. So have those who can make sure those branding guidelines are being obeyed and have guides and archives that you can look back on should they be needed as a reminder.

15 November 2019

Theatrical Anime Film Based On Popular Rhythm Game "DEEMO" To Be Released In 2020

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PONY CANYON announces new Theatrical Anime Film project based on popular rhythm game “DEEMO”
PONY CANYON announces new Theatrical Anime Film project based on popular rhythm game “DEEMO”
Tokyo based Anime producing powerhouse Pony Canyon announced the production of an Anime Film adaptation of the world-famous rhythm game "DEEMO" at a panel held during ANIME NYC (Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, NYC).

"DEEMO" creator/producer Min-Yang Yu and Mitsuhisa Ishikawa confirmed that the film will be produced by Pony Canyon and Production I.G group, a partnership that has already yielded tremendous success with the global blockbuster Anime "Attack On Titan".

The production company of the film is Signal MD will join the project as the production company and will be supported by Production I.G, Japan's leading Anime studio and creator of numerous masterpieces and global hits such as the "Attack on Titan" and "GHOST IN THE SHELL" series.

Junichi Fujisaku (screenwriter - "GHOST IN THE SHELL: STAND ALONE COMPLEX"; director/ series composer/production designer/screenwriter - "BLOOD+") has been named as the Executive Director, and up-and-coming creator Shuhei Matsushita will be the Director. 


The theme song will be composed by Yuki Kajiura ("Sword Art Online", "Puella Magi Madoka Magica", "Fate/Zero", and "The Garden of Sinners (Kara no Kyokai)/Boundary of Emptiness").

  • The film is expected to wrap up in 2020.

About DEEMO, the game on which the movie is based

DEEMO is a SmartPhone rhythm game app that has had over 23 million downloads worldwide. DEEMO -Reborn-, both its downloadable and packaged software for PlayStation4, will be released on November 21.

DEEMO, a rhythm video game inspired by the musical instrument of piano, carries approximately 200 songs of a wide variety, from beautiful classical music to rock, jazz, and electronic. It offers innovative entertainment to the players who must tap the notes on the screen like playing the piano, and in addition to its collection of superlative music, the smoothness of gameplay is unrivaled by any other game app, which have captivated many music game fans in Asia and around the world.

Movie: Introduction

"Never left without saying goodbye"

Alone in a castle, a figure plays a piano... Deemo
One day, a girl with no memory falls from the sky.

A gentle story that will touch your heart

Ming-Yang Yu (CEO of Rayark / Executive Producer) Profile

As a producer, Yu has developed a variety of titles as well as assisted in production line quality control and creative thinking. He insists on combining original game design with high-quality art as the cornerstone of Rayark's game development. At the same time, he also devotes himself to making Rayark a content provider that can influence the world.

Ming-Yang Yu (CEO of Rayark / Executive Producer)
Ming-Yang Yu

Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (CEO of Production I.G) Profile

Born in Tokyo in 1958, Ishikawa joined TATSUNOKO PRODUCTION Co, Ltd., after graduating from college, and later established his own company Production I.G, Inc., of which he is currently the CEO and president. Ishikawa is known for the world famous "Ghost in the Shell" (1995), "Blood: The Last Vampire" (2000), the animated sequence in "Kill Bill: Vol.1" (2003), as well as "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" (2004), which was the first anime to be nominated at the Cannes International Film Festival.

Within the current anime market, he is also known for such popular titles as "Attack on Titan," "Psycho-Pass," and "Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie."


Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (CEO of Production I.G)
Mitsuhisa Ishikawa

SOURCE: Pony Canyon

14 November 2019

San Francisco Prophet Calls Out Corruption, Homelessness, and other Woes in New Novel, Giants of Iniquity

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Giants of Iniquity
Giants of Iniquity
Corruption, homelessness and all other social problems can easily be solved in San Francisco and in an American town near you. By merely following policies from ancient historical leaders, San Francisco is able to create an idyllic society where everyone is happy and problems are fixed at the root. Working with former Soviets who came to San Francisco in the 1990s, spiritual leaders from the ancient past (who are fallen angels that people believe to be aliens) come out of a vortex on Nob Hill to lead the way with solidarity.

Giants of Iniquity brings the excitement and intrigue of paranormal discovery together with a supernatural battle between spiritual forces in an age of advanced technology and cultural shifting.
"The entertaining narrative combines dynamic characters with a variety of offbeat theories and concepts, all of which appealingly tie into the central plot. Readers who enjoy stories of aliens, Illuminati conspiracies, and unexplained phenomena will find it particularly riveting." -- Kirkus Reviews
The new novel, Giants of Iniquity: a San Francisco Omen, shows what it takes for San Franciscans to continue their success using historical solutions. A prophet who lives in San Francisco between Nob Hill and the Tenderloin senses an invasive shadowy paranormal force. His observations about San Francisco act as a social commentary, and the novel functions as a modern allegory, full of fun and humor. Dichotomies depicted include abject poverty contrasted with extreme wealth, political extremism versus a humble quest for freedom, powerlessness versus the extremely powerful, totalitarianism versus independence, and monopoly and corruption versus entrepreneurship.
Giants of Iniquity is a cautionary tale about what America is becoming. The novel uses hyperbole to depict social, political, religious, corporate, and government institutions. The novel makes readers ask, "Are we repeating the lessons we should have learned from history?" "Are we self-deceived?" "Where are we spiritually?" "Where is our culture headed?"

The Book Trailer

About Jason Covington 

Jason Covington is a modern allegorist whose writing examines American cultural and political extremism. Covington studied creative writing at Pepperdine University and later earned a Master’s degree in literature from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Covington has taught writing at eight colleges and universities since 1993.

Covington grew up in Silicon Valley when computer technology was in its infancy when his dad worked for Apple Computer, pre-IPO. Covington has had his own successful career working in technology. His interest in spiritual phenomena, combined with his observations about living in San Francisco, led to this epic tale.

Covington hopes the questions he raises will give us self-revelation for positive change and not backward steps toward regurgitated totalitarian solutions.


Jason Covington
Jason Covington (image via.jasoncovington.com)

13 November 2019

Preventing Depression in Pregnant Mothers May Have Lasting Impact for Generations

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Preventing Depression in Pregnant Mothers Could Have Impact for Generations
Preventing Depression in Pregnant Mothers Could Have Impact for Generations
Preventing depression in pregnant women or in women who have recently given birth (perinatal depression) may have long-lasting impact. In the Oct. 30 issue of Nature, noted depression prevention and treatment expert and Palo Alto University professor Ricardo Muñoz argues that offering women basic skills in mood management could have an impact across generations, because better maternal mental health is linked to healthier development in babies.
"I have been convinced of the importance of prevention in addressing mental-health problems since the early 1970s," Muñoz says. "But only now is there sufficient evidence from clinical trials of the effectiveness of preventive interventions, using approaches derived from interpersonal and cognitive behavioral therapy, to justify deploying them."
Two recent reports underline this conclusion. In February, the US Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts in evidence-based medicine, urged clinicians to "provide or refer pregnant and postpartum persons who are at increased risk of perinatal depression to counseling interventions."

And last month, the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released a report calling on various stakeholders, from educators to policymakers, to prevent mental-health disorders and to promote healthy mental, emotional and behavioral development in women under 25. Muñoz was a member of the committees that prepared this document and two previous NASEM reports on preventive interventions.

Pregnant mothers are both an ideal population to work with, as well as one with far-reaching consequences, Muñoz says. The window of risk is discrete (during pregnancy and up to one year after childbirth); interventions can easily be included in prenatal classes or doctors' visits; and outcomes would impact future generations since maternal depression is associated with low birthweight, preterm deliveries, and impaired cognitive development in the child.

In addition to calling for greater focus on the prevention of depression in mothers, Muñoz advocates for deploying technology to reach the greatest number women worldwide. Evidence-based preventive interventions could be made available to millions through 'massive open online interventions' or MOOIs — similar to 'massive open online courses' (MOOCs), which are delivered on the Internet for free. Such websites, apps and text-based interventions could also be useful for other high-risk groups such as adolescents. In his commentary piece, Muñoz lays out how MOOIs could work, based on his extensive work developing a course called Mothers and Babies/Mamás y Bebés while working at UCSF and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

Globally available online tools to prevent depression and a focus on pregnant women could cut global depression in half, Muñoz maintains. "We have the knowledge and the tools to create a world in which fewer people ever experience clinical depression and other mental disorders. Let's start creating it."

Pregnant women in Lima, Peru, painted each other in 2013 to help a local hospital to raise awareness of good maternity health care (image via Nature)

About Ricardo F. Muñoz

Ricardo F. Muñoz is distinguished professor of clinical psychology and founding director of the Institute for International Internet Interventions for Health (i4Health) at Palo Alto University, California; and professor of psychology emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, California, USA.

About Palo Alto University

Palo Alto University is dedicated to improving the human condition through excellence in teaching, research and scholarship in the fields of psychology and counseling. With an unwavering commitment to diversity and to the communities it serves, PAU offers doctorate, master's and bachelor's programs, as well as hands-on clinical training. A private, non-profit university, PAU was founded in 1975 as the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology (PGSP) and reincorporated in 2009 as Palo Alto University. PAU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

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