ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise concludes in Zhanjiang, China

first_imgThe Chinese People’s Liberation Navy and navies of ASEAN member states have completed the at-sea phase of the inaugural ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise.The exercise spanned five days from October 22 to 27 and concluded with a field training exercise in Zhanjiang, China.Co-organised by the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the exercise involved more than 1,000 personnel deployed on board eight ships and at the exercise Combined Command Post in Ma Xie Naval Base.Brunei, China, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam deployed ships to the exercise.Employing the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), the sea-phase of the exercise included joint search and rescue operations and medical evacuation drills with the use of helicopters. These naval serials were executed based on plans developed during the table-top exercise held in Singapore in August 2018. Professional exchanges on military medicine and diving were also organised onshore.“The successful conduct of the inaugural ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise is an important achievement for the navies of ASEAN and China,” exercise co-director, Commander of First Flotilla and Commanding Officer of 185 Squadron from the Republic of Singapore Navy, COL Lim Yu Chuan said. “The exercise drills have enabled us to strengthen interoperability and more importantly, build trust and confidence for our navies to work with one another in responding to maritime incidents at sea.”“Through this exercise, ASEAN and China navies strengthened friendships and enhanced mutual understanding and cooperation” Commander of PLA Combat Support Flotilla, Southern Theater Command, Senior Captain Zhu Jianda, also the co-exercise director, said. “I hope to see more of such interactions in the future.” View post tag: ASEAN-China Maritime exercise View post tag: Chinese Navy Photo: Photo: Republic of Singapore Navycenter_img View post tag: RSN Share this articlelast_img read more

Faced With Staggering Backlogs of Rape Kits, States Change Testing, Investigations

first_imgFaced With Staggering Backlogs of Rape Kits, States Change Testing, InvestigationsSeeking to secure justice for thousands of rape victims, about 20 states are moving to test a backlog of unexamined rape kits found in storage rooms in police departments across the country — and change the rules for how rape cases are handled in the future.Some states, including Colorado, Illinois, Ohio and Texas, already have passed laws that require that old kits be tested, and have seen charges brought against suspects as a result. In several states, including Michigan and Tennessee, law enforcement agencies face new time limits for submitting rape kits for testing. In others, law enforcement agencies were ordered to make a full count of their backlogged kits before state officials decide how to go about testing them.This year, Arizona, Hawaii, New Hampshire and New York are considering bills that would require an inventory of backlogged rape kits. Oregon is considering legislation that would require testing the old kits, and Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island are considering bills that would require both, according to the Joyful Heart Foundation, a nonprofit founded by actress Mariska Hargitay of the Law and Order: Special Victims Unit television program and which advocates for the testing of all rape kits.The goal of all the legislation is to ensure that forensic evidence in the kits, such as DNA that is collected from victims in an invasive process that can last four to six hours, is promptly and properly tested to help identify and prosecute suspected rapists. The DNA evidence is placed in an FBI database so that it can be compared to that of criminals and suspects who’ve had theirs taken.“For someone to have survived a rape, reported it to police, and endured the invasive evidence collection, only to have it sit in an evidence room untested — I find that appalling,” said state Rep. Janet Adkins, a Florida Republican who is sponsoring a bill that would require faster testing of new rape kits.The exact number of untested rape kits across the country is not known, but indications are it’s staggering. The Joyful Heart Foundation initially documented about 140,000 kits in the 27 states for which it has data. But Ilse Knecht, the group’s policy director, said old kits are continuously being discovered. Last week, for instance, Honolulu police officials said they had a backlog of 1,500 rape kits dating back more than a decade. Florida officials said in January that nearly 13,500 untested kits had been found across the state.“We don’t really have a figure for how many kits there are, and that’s a symptom of the problem,” Knecht said.Backlogs often grew over the years because testing is expensive and labs with limited capacity can be forced to address some cases over others. Older kits piled up because evidence collected in the 1980s was used to run blood tests — something that happened only when there was a suspect to compare it with.Advocates for rape survivors say the kits also piled up because rape cases weren’t investigated seriously. “The bigger problem is not that they chose not to test the kit but that they chose not to investigate the case,” said Rebecca Campbell, a professor at Michigan State University who helped Detroit assess its backlog.While many states have intensified their efforts to deal with their backlogs since discovering them, investigators and prosecutors stress that testing the kits can be meaningless without police following up on them.“Some people are just testing the kits, and I don’t get that approach at all,” said Kym Worthy, Wayne County, Michigan, prosecutor, which had a backlog of 11,000 in 2009, much of which was from Detroit. “It’s great to test the kits and it puts information in the [FBI] database, but it does nothing for justice.”Testing Pays OffSo far, just Colorado and Illinois have cleared their backlogs.But some cities have taken action. Detroit and Houston began testing kits as part of a federal National Institute of Justice program that required them to study how the backlogs were created and how to avoid them in the future.The cities sent the kits to private labs for testing because state or local police labs were overburdened. Houston spent $4.4 million to send its backlog of 6,600 kits — some of which dated to the 1980s — to two private labs in 2013. When the testing was completed, comparisons with the FBI database that contains DNA profiles of more than 12 million offenders and suspects led to 66 new charges. The results also helped police confirm 132 previous arrests that were made without DNA evidence.Detroit, which received $7 million from the state to test its backlog, has seen the number of untested kits drop from roughly 11,000 to 1,000, according to the Wayne County prosecutor’s office. The kits helped identify 729 suspects and ultimately led to 36 convictions.By testing the kits and entering the results into the FBI’s database, police aren’t just coming up with new suspects in old cases — they’re connecting them to cases in other states and jurisdictions and mapping out the paths of serial rapists. “Rape kits in just one city and one county have tentacles in 39 other states,” Worthy said.When Detroit first decided to test its backlog, Campbell of Michigan State University said some people involved with the project were uncertain whether they should test kits that were beyond the statute of limitations. The state eliminated the statute of limitations for rape in 2001. But for most cases older than that, prosecutors had six years in which to bring charges. There also were questions about whether it made sense to test kits in cases in which a victim knew her attacker or focus instead on “stranger rape” kits.Testing of the first 2,000 kits in Detroit showed why it’s important to test all the kits, Campbell said. There were just as many hits on the FBI database in older cases as in newer ones, and the kits from acquaintance rapes got just as many matches as stranger rape cases. Just because a rapist is known to the victim, doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking to see if he was responsible for other crimes, Campbell said.Looking Back vs. Looking ForwardMany states that want to reduce their backlog start with an inventory of police vaults and evidence rooms, which the New York Legislature is considering requiring.Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat who sponsored the New York bill, said it’s important to understand the scope of the problem to decide how to fix it. Texas required a count in 2011, and, after about 20,000 kits were found, the Legislature in 2013 set aside nearly $11 million for testing.Audits can help states decide whether they can handle the tests within state labs or need to contract with a private lab, where it can cost $500 to $1,500 to test a kit. Colorado spent $2.7 million to test its 3,500 backlogged kits in private labs.States also are acting to ensure new backlogs don’t occur.Michigan passed legislation that gives police 14 days to get kits to the lab and requires labs to test the kits within three months, as long as they have sufficient staff to do so.Colorado mandates that all new kits be tested, with law enforcement required to submit them to the state lab within 21 days. It’s something Janet Girten with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which tests the kits, said is essential for making sure the state never has “a backlog of kits unanalyzed in law enforcement vaults.”But the mandate also creates three to four times the workload the lab had when police departments sent kits on a case-by-case basis, Girten said. To help deal with that, the state set aside $5 million annually for the lab to hire 16 more scientists.Last year, Tennessee passed a bill that gives law enforcement 60 days to submit a kit for testing and requires a state task force to come up with a new policy on investigating rape cases.Other states are considering similar legislation this year. A Florida bill, for instance, would give law enforcement 30 days to submit a kit to a lab, and labs would have 120 days to test it. A Kentucky bill would give law enforcement 30 days to submit the kit, but it puts more pressure on labs to speed up testing over time. Labs would need a 90-day average testing time by 2018 and a 60-day average turnaround by 2020.Beyond the LabInvestigators, prosecutors and victims’ advocates say that while testing rape kits is important, more needs to happen to bring justice in cases of rape.Both Cleveland and Detroit have set aside people to work solely on backlogged cases, using a mix of local, state and federal funds to hire more investigators and prosecutors.Rick Bell, assistant prosecutor in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County, said his team spends an average of 40 hours following up on a case once an old kit gets tested. Even with about 25 people looking into old cases in Cleveland, Bell said, it will take years to go through them all. But the investigations have led to 136 convictions, and those people are serving an average of about 10 years, he said.Support for VictimsThe push to get kits tested has also put a spotlight on victims, how they are treated by police and how to give them justice.Collecting the evidence is very involved and invasive, with victims naked in front of a stranger while their bodies are combed and swabbed for evidence.“It’s a lengthy exam and hours of questioning when all they really wanted to do was go home and shower,” said Knecht of the Joyful Heart Foundation.Several police departments have adopted new policies for investigating rapes. In Houston, advocates are available to help guide victims through the justice system and efforts are made to accommodate a victim’s gender preference for an investigator.Some entities are also looking at ways to track the kits. Detroit now has bar codes on all its kits that police can use to monitor them.Washington is considering a bill that would impose a $4 state tax on people who enter a strip club, with the money used, in part, to pay for a tracking system that the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Tina Orwall, a Democrat, would like to make accessible to victims. Orwall said the proposal would help the state monitor law enforcement’s progress and is “a great way to be accountable to victims.”NEWERTop State Stories 2/17FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

Martin Z. Mollusk Day Festivities Set for Thursday Morning

first_imgMartin Z. Mollusk sees his shadow and predicts the arrival of summer a week early in Ocean City, NJ, on May 1, 2014 — indoors on the Ocean City Music Pier.Martin Z. Mollusk, Ocean City’s weather-predicting mascot, will attempt to see his shadow once again at 11 a.m. Thursday (May 7) on the beach beside the Ocean City Music Pier (between Eighth and Ninth streets).If the hermit crab does see his shadow, summer will come a week early to Ocean City, as local legend has it. And in an an amazing feat of meteorological chance, winking and squinting, Martin has seen his shadow in all but one of the past 40+ years. In a heavy fog last year, Martin’s handlers brought him inside the Music Pier and he saw his shadow under bright spotlights.The tongue-in-cheek event is an annual tradition that usually does mark the arrival of nicer early-season weather in Ocean City. The human forecast for Thursday: mostly cloudy with a high of 64 degrees.The Ceremony starts at 11 a.m. with a parade to the beach while the Ocean City High School Band plays “Pomp and Circumstance.”Celebrities in the procession include: Martin Z and Mollie Mollusk; Dr. Frankenstein and Nurse Perfect, who check Martin’s vital signs prior to his creep; and Shelley the Mermaid, aka Suzanne Muldowney who will sing “Some Enchanted Morning” to psyche Martin into effort.The World’s only Wind Chimes Band will entertain onlookers; Doug Jewell, the Pirate will provide security. The Ocean City Fish will squish. Miss Ocean City Kendall Coughlin, Junior Miss Ocean City Megan Keenan and Little Miss Ocean City Hope Aita will greet onlookers and pose for photos.Big Momma Llama of Bready Farms in Tuckahoe will shake her head if Martin sees his shadow. Preschoolers and children will receive a miniature, shell replica of Martin.last_img read more

In Short

first_img== Unsoy’s delivery deal ==Ingredients supplier Unsoy Food Industries has announced a new five-year contract with Rosewood Trucking and Distribution to handle its imports, warehousing and deliveries. Unsoy has worked with Rosewood for the past five years and has increased its deliveries from 1,000 tonnes in 2005 to an expected 9,000 this year.== Finsbury shares drop ==Finsbury Foods’ shares took a 10% tumble last week, after the firm announced that preliminary discussions regarding the sale of the company had ended. It follows the announcement on 1 June that there had been a preliminary approach regarding a potential offer for the firm.== Starbucks shines ==Starbucks Corporation saw strong third-quarter results, with operating profit at $204m, compared to an operating loss of $21.6m in Q3 2008. The chain has also been experimenting with unbranded outlets in Seattle. Three are planned for the city and will also serve wine and beer, but a spokesperson said there were no plans for roll-out in the UK.== GBI buy finalised ==Canadian firm Lallemand has completed its acquisition of GB Ingredients (GBI) from Cie des Levures Lesaffre. GBI operates a yeast business in the UK and Ireland from its base in Felixstowe. It follows the acquisition of the GBI businesses in Spain and Portugal last month.== Sara Lee sells sites ==Sara Lee Corp’s international bakery segment is to sell three of its Spanish bakery production sites – in Burgos, Malaga and Gran Canaria – to Grupo Siro. Sara Lee will continue to own and market all of its Spanish bakery products, including its leading Bimbo brand.last_img read more

Plymouth man arrested after stabbing death and fire

first_img Facebook (Source: https://goo.gl/cu6FpO License: https://goo.gl/OOAQfn) A Plymouth man is behind bars after a fire and possible murder. Police were called to a home on Plum Street Sunday morning on a reported stabbing, and when they got there they found a fire inside of the home.That was eventually extinguished and inside they found the purported victim dead. When Plymouth police tried to make contact with 25 year old Duane Longacre he tried to run out the back door of the home but was eventually taken into custody.No further details about the incident have been released. Below is the full statement from Plymouth PD:Plymouth PD responded to the 900 block of N. Plum St. in reference to the report of a possible stabbing. Upon arrival, Plymouth officers attempted contact with a male subject that was in the residence. The male subject eventually tried to flee out the rear door of the residence. The male subject resisted arrest, but Plymouth officers were able to take him into custody. The subject in custody is Duane Longacre of Plymouth and he has been incarcerated at the Marshall County Jail.Upon the Plymouth Fire Department extinguishing a fire in the residence, a deceased victim was located inside.The investigation is ongoing and further information will be released once it becomes available.The Plymouth Police Department was assisted by Plymouth Fire and EMS, Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, Marshall County Coroner, Marshall County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Indiana State Fire Marshal. Twitter Pinterest Pinterest Facebook WhatsApp Plymouth man arrested after stabbing death and fire Google+ WhatsApp IndianaLocalNews Twitter Previous articleThis week’s Hometown Hero is Serenity WhitingNext articleAnother fireworks store robbed ahead of holiday weekend Carl Stutsman By Carl Stutsman – June 29, 2020 0 469 Google+last_img read more

Bakery chain hit with several burglaries

first_imgWigan-based-bakery chain Galloways has been the victim of an overnight raid in four of its branches in Aspull, Standish, Kitt Green and Haydock.The break-ins happened on Thursday night (28 July), with one of the shops missing a large amount of cash. Merseyside Police were called to the scenes in the early hours of Friday morning, but could not determine whether there was a link between the burglaries.The bakery took to Twitter to say: “Four of our shops were broken into on Thursday night thanks very much for leaving your prints and images at the scenes. Hopefully arrested soon!”It’s not the first time a case of pastry-related robbery has happened in Wigan. In 2008, a pie shop delivery driver was hauled before the courts after he was caught with his fingers in the till.Galloways bakery was set up in 1971 by Ronald and Patricia Galloway, who own 23 shops in the north west and primarily bake pies, pasties and sausage rolls No descriptions of intruders or vehicles have been forthcoming. However, the Police have asked any witnesses to contact them on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.last_img read more

From all over

first_imgWhether it’s to explore a library filled to the ceiling with thousands of books, experience big-city living for the first time, or take classes taught by world-renowned teachers, students from all corners of the globe find their way to Harvard. This year, Harvard Summer School’s size and span — 6,000 students; the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and American Samoa, and more than 100 countries; an age range of 14 to 81 — demonstrate anew the University’s commitment to diversity.About a third of students take classes online or away from campus. Summer School faculty members share the responsibility of welcoming with a variety of activities the nearly 2,000 on-campus students and more than 2,000 commuters.“Opening weekend is full of events for students, including residential meetings and get-togethers, an activities fair, a reception for commuting students, and the ever-popular Dean’s Ice Cream Social,” said Linda Cross, public relations director for continuing education.In addition to introducing Harvard’s staff, extra-curricular activities, and campus, the events encourage students to interact with peers who may live thousands of miles away.“You hear many different languages and accents just walking through Harvard Yard,” said Cross.The Yard is home to high school students studying at Harvard Summer School (HSS), who are connected with tutors from the Summer School Academic Tutor Program as well as four assistant deans to help “as they strive to transition from high school courses to college classes taught over a short, intensive summer term,” said William Holinger, director of Harvard’s Secondary School Program (SSP).The range of backgrounds and ages in the classroom is a draw for instructors.“Faculty who choose to teach in the summer are truly dedicated teachers who welcome the diverse makeup of a HSS classroom,” said Lisa Laskin, associate dean for academic affairs at the Summer School.Harvard Summer School classes provide a mix of teaching styles as well. From straight lecture to lab courses to project-based learning, “each course and discipline has its own approaches to teaching in our fast-paced session,” said Laskin.Ultimately, the result for both teacher and student is a deeper understanding of formerly distant viewpoints and issues.Said Laskin: “Every year, one or more faculty members will say to me, ‘You know, my best student this year was’ — a high school student, or an amazing woman from Pakistan, or a very dedicated engineering student from Germany.”last_img read more

Fuse announces $25,000 service grant program

first_imgFuse LLC,Fuse, a marketing agency that helps brands reach teens and young adults, is proud to announce the launch of an annually occurring Service Grant Program. Fuse will donate $25,000 in services to a to-be-selected charity program within the action sports community.”In the past fifteen years, Fuse has supported many great non-profits through donations and by providing pro bono or discounted work. It has been a rewarding experience and we are now excited to expand our community involvement through this new grant program,” said Brett Smith, Partner at Fuse. “This project will provide a substantial grant to a deserving non-profit and allow Fuse to continue its dedication to community service.”Existing non-profit programs within the action sports community, as well those with new charity ideas connected to action sports, are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is October 15, 2011.”As an agency that has our roots in action sports, Fuse is excited to give back to the community,” said Issa Sawabini, Partner at Fuse. “Fuse’s goal is to continue to support non-profits that are associated with action sports and who are tirelessly involved in aiding the community.”Grant selection will be based on the applicants’ positive impact on American youth and on Fuse’s ability to make a difference through its work. The grant winner will be announced on November 15, 2011 and grant-funded work will take place in 2012. More information and the online application can be found at facebook.com/FuseLLC.About Fuse: Fuse is a youth culture marketing agency founded in 1995. The agency connects brands with teens and young adults through sports, music, fashion, video gaming and other relevant cultural interests. Fuse’s services include brand strategy, public relations, event marketing, design, social media and digital services. The Fuse staff, led by Partners Brett Smith, Bill Carter and Issa Sawabini, is comprised of marketing professionals and cultural experts who have worked for some of the most prominent brands and agencies in the country. Fuse has experience working with clients in product categories including action sports, beverages, snacks, footwear, auto, higher-ed and finance. In addition to the Service Grant Program, Fuse’s community initiatives include a donation program, community engagement committee, donation matching, staff leadership in community projects, monthly group volunteer projects and paid time off for volunteering. In 2011, Fuse was named one of Outside magazine’s “Best Places to Work” in the US. For more information, visit fusemarketing.com, facebook.com/FuseLLC or twitter.com/fuse_marketing.BURLINGTON, VT–(Marketwire – August 15, 2011) –last_img read more

Trail Mix: The Barter Theater Jams in January

first_imgBen Sollee plays January Jams in Abingdon’s Barter Theater on Friday.I have been fortunate to attend many wonderful dramatic productions at the venerable Barter Theater in Abingdon. Virginia’s official state theater, the Barter opened in 1933 with a peculiar caveat – if patrons couldn’t afford the 35 cent admission price, they could barter their way in with homegrown produce. It was a win/win situation – locals got to see the plays and the actors were plied with farm fresh vittles. While I have never been lucky enough to trade a few tomatoes or cucumbers for a seat inside, I have happily taken my seat to watch the cast of the Barter Theater perform some incredible plays – To Kill A Mockingbird, Tarzan, and A Christmas Story are but three of the shows I have seen there.Despite my familiarity with the comfortable confines of the Barter Theater, I was unprepared for what I experienced last weekend. For lack of a better term, the Barter was rockin’.For the last three years, a concert series – January Jams – has taken up residency at the Barter when the theater’s cast takes the month off from performing. Promoted by the town’s Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and the Abingdon Main Street program, January Jams has brought some tremendous artists to perform in the theater. Last year, among others, Marty Stuart, Iris Dement, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, and Jason Isbell were on the bill. This year’s line up has been similarly impressive – Jill Andrews, formerly of the everybodyfields, and David Bromberg have already performed, while Mavis Staples and Greensky Bluegrass have shows upcoming.Last Saturday night, it was only fitting that the iconic Barter Theater played host to a collection of icons. The Blind Boys of Alabama, an unparalleled institution in gospel music that has been touring for much of the last seven decades, along with rising blues star Jarkeus Singleton, took the near capacity crowd on a spiritual journey of the music of the Deep South. This was my first time attending a January Jams show and I was much impressed with how this classic theater morphed into a first class music room. Without a doubt, the Barter ranks up there with some of my favorite theaters around the region, which includes the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, the Paramount Centre in Bristol, and the Tennessee Theater in Knoxville. The Barter is intimate, bordering on cozy, with just 500 seats, the sound was great, and the theater has already developed a reputation for supplying artists with warm and appreciative audiences.Sara Cardinale, as the town of Abingdon’s Special Events Coordinator, has been instrumental in the development and growth of January Jams. To her, the concert series is a special event that serves dual purposes.“Here at the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, we believe that a good community event is a good tourist event. An event that makes the community happy will make a tourist happy. The goal is to have more feet on the street.”Cardinale was effusive when talking about getting live music in the Barter Theater.“The Barter Theater puts on over one hundred shows a year, but January is their time to rehearse for next year, so there aren’t any shows going on. We decided to try to keep something happening in the theater, and that is how January Jams was born. Not having to drive to Asheville to hear great live music is pretty excellent, and the caliber of musicians who have come and been delighted by our little town is awesome.”Brent Treash, an Abingdon resident and avid live music fan, echoes these sentiments.“January Jams has quickly become woven into Abingdon’s social fabric. Enthusiastic crowds are able to see legendary musicians perform in a historic theater that rarely hosts live music. Because Abingdon is now embracing live music, I get to see these amazing musicians playing virtually on my back porch.”This weekend, January Jams wraps up its month of shows with two tremendous offerings. On Saturday, the aforementioned jamgrass heavyweights Greensky Bluegrass and Virginia folk rockers The Last Bison will play.On Friday, noted folkie cellist Ben Sollee, along with David Wax Museum and Cereus Bright, will perform.Ben Sollee is a native Kentuckian, having been born in Lexington, and he began playing the cello in high school. His career, much like contemporaries like Bela Fleck and Chris Thile, has been wide and varied, and Sollee’s sound is difficult to pigeonhole. Sollee draws from a vast array of influences, and you are just as likely to hear him accompanying the Charlotte Ballet or find scoring films or riding his bike – while toting his cello on a trailer – like he did on the way to perform at Bonnaroo in 2009. Sollee has been a member of both the Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour house band and Abigail Washburn’s Sparrow Quartet, has performed in vaunted concert halls around the world, including Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center, and has an impressive collection of releases to his credit.Trail Mix and the January Jams promoters are happy to give you a shot at taking in the show of Friday for free. All it takes is a simple email. Hit me up at [email protected] with an email and put BEN SOLLEE in the subject line. A lucky winner of two passes will be chosen from the emails received by noon on Friday.last_img read more

What Will Altice Buying Cablevision Mean for Long Island News?

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York European telecommunications giant Altice’s deal to purchase Bethpage-based Cablevision Systems Corp. for $17 billion including debt raises serious questions about what the acquisition means for Cablevision’s virtual monopoly on Long Island local news.If regulators approve the sale, which is scheduled to close next year, Altice will also take over Cablevision’s media assets: Newsday, LI’s lone daily newspaper; amNew York, a free New York City daily; and seven News12 hyperlocal cable news channels covering the tristate area, including their flagship station on the Island.“We were very focused on keeping control and ownership of…the media assets, which have been loss-making historically, but are extremely attractive as far as being a part of the fiber of the local community,” Altice Chief Executive Officer Dexter Goei said on a conference call Wednesday.Altice’s deal with Cablevision, the nation’s fifth-largest cable company with 3.1 million subscribers, combined with Altice’s $6 billion acquisition earlier this year of St. Louis-based Suddenlink Communications, the seventh-largest cable provider in the country, would make it the fourth-largest cable operator.The announcement comes amid an American media consolidation frenzy this year, with Charter Communications, the nation’s third-largest cable company, purchasing Time Warner Cable, the second largest, and AT&T buying DirecTV, the satellite television company.Cablevision CEO James Dolan issued a statement early Thursday morning calling Altrice “truly worthy successors.” He also noted that the Dolan family will still own their spunoff companies, Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks basketball team, the New York Rangers hockey team and AMC Networks, the cable channel company.“We expect that Cablevision will be in excellent hands,” Dolan said of the company that his father, Charles, founded 42 years ago. “We look forward to doing all we can to affect this transition for our customers and employees.”At one point in the negotiations, the Dolans had resisted selling their media properties as a part of the Cablevision deal, but Altice insisted on including them, The New York Times reported. Cablevision bought Newsday for $632 million seven years ago from the Tribune Company, based in Chicago.The acquisitions would not be the first foray into print media for Altice, which is owned by the French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, whom The New York Times described as “a ruthlessly efficient operator who runs a lean business.” Altice Media Group owns about 20 newspapers and magazines in France. Asked during the conference call if Altice planned to sell off Newsday, News12 and amNewYork, Goei said that is not their intention.“We find those businesses to be extremely attractive and a core part of the local community that we would like to continue to invest in and hopefully learn from in many respects,” he said. “We think that we can run those businesses a little bit more efficiently over time, but I think it’s about continuing to invest in the quality content, both on the Newsday side and as well as the News12 side.”Goei noted that Altice found the media assets’ $200 million in annual ad sales “very impressive” despite the $350 million in operating costs. He added that he believes Altice can consolidate the corporate offices of the news outlets without compromising the quality of the news coverage.“A lot of the losses are being generated by an allocation of corporate overhead,” he said. “You can expect us to try and manage those allocations a lot tighter going forward.”The Altice CEO also praised Cablevision’s controversial ownership of Newsday and said the new owner would not interfere with the newsrooms.“We have a huge amount of respect for what the Dolan family has done with those businesses,” he said. “We won’t touch anything to do with editorial content, but we obviously will look to optimize on the losses…There’s a lot of things like duplicative finance staff.”Jaci Clement, executive director of the Bethpage-based Fair Media Council, a local media watchdog group, said that while Goei may be saying all the right things now, only time will tell if Altice will tinker with the news coverage or not.“It’s too early to tell about anything,” she said. “Based on the way this has worked with other companies…you’re probably talking about a year before any changes take place…They want to formulate their own game plan and figure out what their idea of success is.”At Newsday‘s Melville office Wednesday night as news of the Cablevision sale was spreading through the building, staff in the composing room were reportedly joking about learning French.-With additional reporting by Desiree D’iorio and Spencer Rumsey.last_img read more