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Move over ginseng here comes ashwagandha

first_imgRelated posts:How sweet it is: plants that may support diabetes treatment Plant one of these trees for Arbor Day Costa Rican plants for aches and pains Diatoms: a pest-control ally from prehistoric times The tropical regions of the Americas have always been fertile ground for exotic plants from around the world. Here’s one from India that many herbalists and health seekers may know. It’s called Ashwagandha (Withania somnefera).In India, the use of ashwagandha dates back 3,000 years: it appears in ancient Ayurvedic texts and is renowned for its rejuvenating tonic effects and benefits to the nervous system.Ashwagandha is a bushy plant from the nightshade family (along with tomatoes and eggplant). Its light-green leaves resemble eggplant leaves, but smaller. The small, yellow flowers bloom in the apex of the stems and later turn into small, orange berries full of tiny seeds. Ashwagandha is a plant which takes almost one year to produce mature roots, but the seeds can be harvested during most of the plant’s growth until maturity.Because ashwagandha is a wild plant, it grows well on a wide variety of tropical soils and require minimum fertility. Of course, boosting its growth and vigor can be achieved with natural fertilizers, like compost tea and foliar sprays. In my trials at home, the plants also seem to have little or no problems with the bugs.Indian researchers began to study ashwagandha’s medicinal properties in the 1950s and found that it had a positive impact on nervous disorders including insomnia, stress, hypertension and inflammation of the joints. Ashwagandha was also compared to Chinese ginseng and was found to have comparable anti-stress activity and anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as an aphrodisiac effect.Today, more than 200 studies have confirmed that ashwagandha can reduce the effects of stress, improve learning and memory, reduce anxiety and depression, stabilize blood sugar levels, help to lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, protect the immune system, as well as enhancing sexual potency in both men and women.The roots can be dried and powdered to make teas or tinctures. The tea is safe and non-toxic, but the small, tomato-like berries have been reported to cause gastroenteritis in children. The typical recommended dose is 600 to 1,000 mg twice daily. For people who suffer from insomnia and anxiety, having a cup of hot milk that contains a teaspoon of powdered ashwagandha before bedtime is beneficial.We were lucky to obtain ashwagandha seeds last year, and our new seedling plants are thriving. Here’s what we have learned so far on how to grow them at home.  First off, the seeds are very small and need to be started in flats with prepared potting soil for optimal results. The seeds take 20 days or more to germinate, so be patient. The young seedlings take about a month before they can be transplanted to pots. I’d suggest you plant them in 12-inch pots with a mix of 4 parts strained compost and 1 part sand.Once your first plants start producing seeds, you can create hundreds of new plants that can be planted around the home or in an herb garden.Mature roots can be harvested, then washed and sliced to dry in the sun for several days. These chips can then be stored in a glass jar for future use as a tea. The powdered root can be preserved in alcohol as a convenient tincture. Add 50 grams of powder to 1 liter of clear rum for tincture.  Shake the bottle once or twice a day until the tincture is ready in about 10 days.Several companies on the web offer ashwagandha root powder in Costa Rica, and you will find that major herb and seed companies offer ashwaganda seeds. We’ll be offering young plants and seeds in the future at our upcoming Sunday workshops on gardening and medicinal plants, to be held on May 7 and 21.For more information on these workshops or on tropical gardening in Costa Rica, contact us at: thenewdawncenter@yahoo.com Facebook Commentscenter_img Read more of Ed Bernhardt’s monthly Home Gardening columns here.For more information on tropical gardening – naturally – and upcoming Sunday workshops, visit Ed’s website or contact him at thenewdawncenter@yahoo.com. last_img read more

Declaration of Independence oped

first_img Categories: Steven Johnson News Each Fourth of July, we celebrate America’s Declaration of Independence as we commemorate the anniversary of our country’s founding. This spirit of independence is something we should cherish and must preserve for our children.Just as our government is not beholden or dependent on another government for its sovereignty, we as individuals should not rely on federal, state and local governance. Our founding fathers envisioned a nation where citizens could pursue their dreams, seek their own happiness and accomplish their own goals, objectives and aspirations aside from government intrusion in their lives and interference in the marketplace.What they did not envision was a country of individuals dependent on government for their well-being. They did not envision a country of businesses lobbying state and federal governments for special privileges and immunities.Our founding fathers believed in the principles of freedom, entrepreneurship, individualism and independence. They believed the role of government in our lives should be very limited. The Constitution mandates that Congress shall meet “at least once in every year.” Our founding fathers would be astounded if they saw the extent government plays in our lives today.In honor of everything our founding fathers accomplished and stood for, I believe we should take a step back and look at where our country is today. What do we do right? What do we do wrong? What could we do better?How can we as a society ensure that our children grow up and live in a country more free, more prosperous and more independent than the one we live in today? We have been afforded great opportunities, with many things that are good and right in our nation but it seems that there are some areas of improvement that can be made. One of the biggest changes is demanding government take a step back, not be so involved in our lives and simply let us interact with our neighbors as we see fit. Government does not give us our freedom and independence, it is there to preserve and protect them.Unfortunately, we have a mindset of ‘ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you.’ Let’s change that mindset to what President John F. Kennedy envisioned, let’s be that free and independent country, let’s be a sovereign country, let’s demand freedom and equality in opportunity, let’s oppose corporate welfare and special handouts, and most importantly, let’s fight for independence! 29Jun Declaration of Independence op-edlast_img read more

Rep Hoitenga joined by member of Wexford County law enforcement for ceremonial

first_imgPHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Michele Hoitenga, of Manton, was joined by Sergio Delgado of the Wexford County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday for a Michigan House session commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The ceremony honors first responders and members of the military from Michigan who died in the line of duty in the past year. Categories: Hoitenga News,News 06Sep Rep. Hoitenga joined by member of Wexford County law enforcement for ceremonial House sessionlast_img

Channel providers strategies vary according to th

first_imgChannel providers’ strategies vary according to their time to market and available resources. All however, state the importance of meeting the needs of local distribution partners while moving as far as possible to develop additional revenue streams.The priorities of international channel providers are built on growing distribution and increasing viewership where they already have distribution. To make money they seek to develop, as far as possible, the classic ‘dual revenue stream’, complementing pay TV subscription fees from distribution affiliates by building an advertising sales story. And further down the line, they may seek to build additional revenue streams by offering value-added services such as transactional or subscription video-on-demand or, in the case of channels with their own intellectual property, by developing licensing and merchandising revenues.Strategic priorities vary according to which stage channels have reached in their development. In the early days of a channel’s life, the crucial thing is to secure as much distribution as possible. For Bruce Tuchman, president of AMC/Sundance Channel Global, a relatively recent entrant in the international channel business, the key priority remains the expansion of the Sundance Channel globally.“It’s about selling independent content movies and series coming out of the non-studio framework and appealing to a new, sophisticated audience that wants to watch compelling content not only on TV but also on the internet and mobile devices,” says Tuchman. The company’s priority is to deepen its availability in those markets in which it is already present and to source and acquire the right content for those markets, he adds. The programming mix will vary between territories and Tuchman says that AMC/Sundance Channel Global is continuing to pick up movies and series targeted at particular groups of territories. In addition to AMC original series, Sundance Channel is airing Weeds in Belgium and France. Next month the network is premiering Damages starring Glenn Close in Spain and Portugal, while season two of the Australian series Rake starring Richard Roxburgh will premiere this autumn in eastern Europe. Another Australian drama, The Straits, premiered in eastern Europe this month and will premiere in Flemish-speaking Belgium next month and Asia in January. Tuchman adds that Sundance Channel is also designed to cater to what he sees as a growing market in international territories for independently produced movies that transcend national boundaries, “bringing content to people that they’ve not been exposed to”, particularly in markets that lack a robust independent film production sector of their own.Allied to unique content is robust marketing activity in partnership with distributors. “Trade marketing is quite important because we’ve come to the market later than some other channels,” says Tuchman. He highlights a series of recent street performance initiatives in France around The Walking Dead.“We also sponsor film festivals all over the world,” says Tuchman, highlighting the channel’s involvement in the recent launch of the Sundance Festival in London. Inviting distributors to attend the festivals and inviting stars of the channel’s shows to meet affiliates –  and Sundance founder Robert Redford has been present at key meetings – are alike part of the company’s relationship-building activity.In addition to building relationships with affiliates, AMC/Sundance Channel has also engaged in consumer marketing initiatives. For Breaking Bad Sundance highlighted its first pay TV window showing of the series in Asia, generating “a lot of coverage”, according to Tuchman. Singapore’s The Straits Times ran a feature of the show featuring stars Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston. Glenn Close recently did several interviews with Spanish media for the launch of Damages. The Sundance Channel has also run sweepstakes where winning audience members are invited to the Sundance Festival in Utah.Next month Sundance Channel will be celebrating the Busan International Film Festival for the first time with daily coverage produced at the event. There will also be a showcase of films seen at Busan, including the Asian premiere on Sundance Channel of the 2011 film I Carried You Home and the European premiere of the 2011 festival winner Bleak Night.Much of AMC/Sundance Channel’s activity on the marketing front is designed to compensate the disadvantage the channel suffered by being later to market than many of its rivals. “We were late to the game and there are a lot of channels taking a good share of available revenue. In DTH, capacity is limited and the capacity to add channels costs money. That’s the challenge,” he says. However, says Tuchman, Sundance Channel benefits by filling a gap in the market, with content that can also showcase the merits of HD.Another issue related to late entry to the channels market is that, while AMC content is well-known internationally, this in many cases is due to the fact that it has already been sold and seen on third-party channels. Tuchman says that the windowing strategy adopted by the channel varies according to the market and a variety of other factors.Sometimes it is an advantage if a series has already been seen in a particular market, while at other times holding the first-run pay TV rights offers a clear advantage. Sometimes knowing which strategy to adopt is a case of trial and error.“There are different lessons from different markets. Breaking Bad was a first run in Asia and we weren’t sure the market was ready. In others we air a mix of first-window and franchised series. If your first run is on a limited-reach pay TV service that can still generate buzz,” he says. It is rarely a disadvantage to already have sold content to third party channels however, he says. “Something like Mad Men came out before we had an international channel, and that was exploited through traditional routes, but we have had no problem re-securing rights,” says. “Nowadays we work closely with production partners and colleagues in the US to work out the right windows for us at the right values.”New brandsRelatively recent broadcasters, or those launching new channel brands, must of course fight to find their own place in what are often crowded markets. French broadcaster Trace started life as an urban lifestyle magazine, before launching its first music channel, Trace Urban, in 2003. It has since expanded its portfolio, adding Latin American music channel Trace Tropical and African music channel Trace Africa to its line-up. More recently, the company made a bold move into sports, with the launch of Trace Sports, a channel dedicated to the lifestyles of sports stars. According to Trace’s CEO Olivier Laouchez, far from stretching Trace’s core values, Trace Sport is a perfect fit. “It conveys the same core values of our music channels by talking to the youth about their passions,” he says.Rather than entering the crowded world of pure sports channels, which are usually controlled by well-established incumbent channel operators, Trace took a different approach by concentrating on the stars that ply their trade on those sports channels. It seems to have paid off; since launching in 2011, the channel has secured distribution agreements in over 70 countries and the broadcaster plans to reach over 30 million subscribers from all continents by the end of 2012.For Laouchez, one of the key focuses for Trace is to make sure operators and consumers understand its brand values. “We ensure Trace’s channel values are understood by operator parents and consumers by using them a filter to drive our decisions, and especially our content strategy.”Laouchez says there can be a lot of value in formulating marketing partnerships with operators in specific regions to help promote Trace’s channels and values. One such endeavour involved the launch of a temporary ‘pop-up’ channel in partnership with French DTH operator CanalSat to tie in with the Olympic games. La Chaine des Champions, Spécial Londres offered exclusive access to French athletes taking part in the Olympics. The channel was made available exclusively to CanalSat customers. “Our marketing efforst are fully focused on partnerships with operators,” says Laouchez. “We have used our unique access to sport and music celebrities to organise many promotions around the world.”Free-to-air channels face somewhat different challenges. Another French channel that launched (relatively) recently is news broadcaster France 24. Despite launching less than six years ago it has already expanded its reach to 255 million households worldwide, with an audience reach of 45 million viewers per week. The broadcaster, which offers three language channels, in French, English and Arabic, recorded a 52% year-on-year audience growth last year, and according to Eric Cremer, vice-president of distribution at France 24, it is aiming to maintain this momentum. “I could mention specific countries where France 24’s penetration rate remains average, or specific objectives like developing pay TV revenues in some territories but as a global news platform broadcasting in three languages, France 24 must perform everywhere in the world on every network and on every device.”The decision to extend the France 24 service to two additional languages alongside its native French channel means the channel can remain relevant to a wide number of people globally. While the three language feeds are actually three distinct news channels made by native-speaking journalists, Cremer points out they share many common elements including reports and editorial policy, which to keeps them within the France 24 brand. The channels focus on international news rather than domestic stories, with journalists coming from over 40 countries. “This contributes to the creation of a very open state of mind within the channel’s team,” Cremer adds.The number of international news providers is growing, and Cremer says it can be difficult to stand out. “It’s not easy to convince people how France 24 is unique and different from other news channels with words. We can only encourage operators and consumers to watch it, test it and compare it. It also means that a big part of our distribution department’s role is to meet operators and continue to contact them in order to explain what France 24 can bring to their clients.”Once it has a distribution deal in place, Cremer says France 24 works closely with operators to leverage brand awareness, using tools including co-brand, social networks and creating special events: “It’s a win-win deal. These partnerships allow both operator and content providers to gain more visibility across a wide range of audiences.” Marketing deals often form part of contracts with operators, he adds.Cost of localisingOne of the key issues that faces channel providers as they expand their global distribution is when and how to localise their feeds so as to better serve the needs of a particular market. Localisation can mean many things – from creating a language version of the channel for a particular market or set of markets to a fully locally programmed version of an international brand. But all steps along the way involve costs that must be measured against the commercial opportunity.Given the cost of localising channel feeds, global kids channel KidsCo will weigh international expansion opportunities on a case-by-case basis, according to managing director Hendrik McDermott. KidsCo will also look at opportunities to diversify its revenue streams.“Globally we’re looking at increasing subscribers in a calculated fashion, targeting key territories where we’re already on the air. We have pan-regional feeds and it costs a lot to localise feeds. We have to take a dubbing risk to go into new territories,” says McDermott, who took charge at KidsCo at the end of 2011.McDermott said that KidsCo still had “a long way to go in Russia” and had done well in Turkey, another significantly large market. Recovering its position in key central European market is a priority as is building its presence in Romania. “Turkey gives us almost perfect distribution. We are trying to emulate that success in central and eastern Europe,” says McDermott. Western Europe remains challenging, given its domination by large pay TV operators.The high cost of localisation – essential for kids channels – means that the case for launching in a new territory has to be weighed carefully. While it is possible to introduce kids programmes in certain Asian markets in English, Europe requires 100% localisation, he says. “It’s difficult and expensive,” says McDermott, adding that for kids channels localisation generally means expensive dubbing. “We don’t subtitle at the moment – affiliates prefer dubbing. From a viewer perspective dubbing is better.” In a few territories such as Poland, lectoring is the preferred option.The cost of localisation means that small countries can be challenging from a business perspective. However, in some cases an English-language version of the channel is acceptable and some countries will accept the language feed of a neighbouring territory if its inhabitants are familiar with that language. “In general the affiliates expect the channel to be 100% dubbed on day one. Often the upfront revenue up front doesn’t make smaller territories valid. We are in 18 different languages. Small countries might have expatriate audiences or multi-language feeds and some will tolerate English,” he says.Taking localisation further, KidsCo does acquire some region-specific programming, says McDermott. However this generally has to work across multiple territories. “We do acquire region specific programming, but it’s not worth having local insertion for one particular programme,” he says.In general, says McDermott, KidsCo will continue to focus on its core message of delivering safe content for kids. The channel recently consolidated its branding and logos and has communicated its brand guidelines to affiliates: “The thing we can offer is safe and non-violent content. We are trying to provide high-quality programming for children.”Brand valuesFor established pay TV channel providers, one of the key challenges is expanding channel portfolios and distribution without diluting core brand values.One way to do this is to invest in local production. At the recent CTAM Europe EuroSummit in Vienna, Levente Malnay, CEO of Chellomedia Central Europe, told attendees that Chellomedia had made significant content investments to make its central European brands as premium as possible. He said that the company had invested in local formats – notably for its cooking channel – and had simplified and conflated its lifestyle and factual brands into a single Spektrum Home channel. Investing in local production had to be done in a responsible way and Chellomedia had not, for example, invested in local programmes for its kids channels, choosing instead to create characters that could be used in interstitials give the channels a distinct brand identity, he said.Malnay also said that Chellomedia Central Europe planned to develop HD versions of its channels to exploit what it views as an opportunity to take advantage of relatively high penetration of HD TV sets combined with under-consumption of HD content. He said that HD set penetration in the region varied between 20-40% but actual consumption of HD services was currently minimal.This kind of focus on the needs of a particular market generally requires the resources of a large multichannel organisation.According to Jesús Perezagua, Fox International Channels president, Europe and Africa, the broadcaster’s programming and channel distribution strategy is defined by the strength of iconic brands Fox and National Geographic. Despite having two brand ‘pillars’, in total FIC operates 38 channel brands spanning entertainment, factual, lifestyle, and sports genres. “Over the last decade we have developed different TV brands that have evolved from Fox and National Geographic,” explains Perezagua. “The ones dedicated to fiction have kept the Fox affiliation, such as Fox Crime, Fox Movies, FX or FoxLife, and the same goes for the National Geographic channels developed from NGC, including Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Adventure or Nat Geo Music. Fox and NGC are our flagship brands for fiction and factual, so all new products are immediately recognised by the viewers as part of our legacy for high-quality programming.”FIC’c channel brands, particularly Fox and Nat Geo, are known globally and, according to Perezagua, the company treads a fine line between ensuring that branding emphasises the international perception of the brands whilst also ensuring the channels are relevant to local viewers. “Our content and premium global brands are localised in each market to ensure the satisfaction of everyone in every location. As such, FIC’s goal is to provide top-quality programming and build emotional connections with audiences around the world. We like to tailor the look and feel of our channels to the different local tastes, but without losing our international brand style,” he says. The broadcaster has a common graphic image that makes its channels immediately recognizable. Recently the Fox graphic identity has been overhauled across all channels to give it a more contemporary style that is linked to its commercial targets.Depsite the large presence of Fox’s channels around the world, Perezagua stresses the importance of the relationship it forges with service providers “Our distribution partners are key for us. They are our clients and the way we reach our viewers. We collaborate on marketing initiatives and always aim to offer innovative proposals that engage their subscribers. This is a key part of our business. Thanks to a strategy that combines the best content with the most innovate and smart promotion, we support their goals of adding new subscribers and satisfying existing ones. We see this as key added value with FIC brands.”DiversificationDeveloping a suite of channels allows providers to broaden their demographic base and facilitates the diversification of the revenue model. Discovery Networks International has moved in recent years to balance its portfolio, appealing to female viewers as well as males and distributing channels that can attract advertisers as well as subscription revenues. In Discovery’s case, the international launch of the female-skewed TLC has been a major area of focus over the past couple of years. Mark Hollinger, president and CEO of Discovery Networks International, says that Discovery is now concentrating to some extent on building the viewership of TLC for which it already has distribution in a significant number of markets. “There is still a bit of growth to be had but we are also focused on solidifying the viewership for the channel. It’s seen some audience growth. It is the primary female flagship,” he says.Discovery has launched a number of new channels over the last year, including  Discovery Kids in Asia. “It’s picked up a lot of buzz in a market that’s tuned in to education as a priority,” says Hollinger. Crime and investigation channel ID, which has been successful for Discovery in the US, has also been rolled out in a more significant way internationally over the last year. “We’ve really prioritised it, with a full launch in Latin America in August, and we are starting in central and eastern Europe with Poland,” says Hollinger. “We’ve done a big distribution push and we are rolling out a lot of content from the US.”Discovery has also started to build a new content production source for the business after hiring former Channel 4 and BBC executive Julian Bellamy as production and development chief last year, tasked with pushing the development of content for multiple regions around the world. Hollinger says that Discovery is also continuing to look for ways to grow its production business through acquisitions or partnerships.While growth in distribution is beginning to flatten out after years of development, Hollinger believes “there is some still to get”. He says Discovery has set a goal is to have TLC or Real Time (its alternative in some markets) distributed on a global basis. But on top of extending distribution, Discovery primarily wants to extend viewership through getting the programming mix right. While TLC has done well in Nordic countries and central and eastern Europe, and Discovery Real Time is highly rated in Italy, Hollinger says that the broadcaster is keen not to lose momentum on the content side.“For central and eastern Europe a lot of US content works very well,” he says. “We’ve also produced a number of shows based on formats we have done or licensed.” Recent commissions include a version of The Great British Bake-off in Polish.Discovery is also pushing forward with extending the reach of ID, which also has a female-skewing audience. “The goal for ID is to replicate some of the success the channel has seen in the US. Over the last two years it’s been the fastest growing channel in US pay TV,” says Hollinger. “It’s also got the highest average time spent viewing across the female audience in the US. If we could replicate that in international markets it could be a flagship channel.”Turning to the other major pillar of Discovery’s strategy to woo female viewers, The Oprah Winfrey Network, Hollinger says: “We talk to management about international opportunities about possible international expansion but the great thing is it’s gaining traction in the US, and our goal was to get it on a solid footing in the US.”When it comes to marketing its channels, Discovery has focused on doing things in partnership with its distribution partners. “We feel we get a lot of bang for our buck by marketing with our affiliates,” says Hollinger. Social media plays an increasingly important role in extending marketing beyond traditional media, and Hollinger sees use of social media as part of Discovery’s localisation strategy. “We know Discovery is a global brand and there is a global audience. You use that to build brand loyalty. But when you are building loyalty around a specific programme its usually about a local initiative,” he says.Localisation more generally for Discovery, as for other channel providers, encompasses scheduling and interstitial material as well as local acquisitions. “There are lots of things that make the channel look local before you get to programming. Content in the factual space travels well across borders and we share a lot of content across territories. That is always going to be the biggest component of the programming strategy,” he says. “For the local element the question is the market big enough to justify local investment, and then what kind of content for what channels?” For the Discovery show How we Invented the World, which is about technology in the modern era, Discovery took a fresh approach by creating 12 or 13 different ‘modular’ versions of the show. Local presenters or interviews can be inserted within a broadly international programming stream as required. “There will be a lot that’s shared but parts that are really local, with a common skeleton. We think it will work well from a ratings point of view. It’s a step beyond a format. It could become a standard production model for us,” he says.If there is a common thread running through the thinking of diverse channel providers in the international marketplace, it is the idea of tailoring the channel’s activities – ranging from marketing initiatives up to and including the acquisition and commissioning of programmes – to meet local requirements in a way that makes commercial sense.last_img read more


first_imgShareTweet Santa switches on Derry’s Christmas lights with the help of Mayor Cllr Brenda Stevenson and MC, Mark Patterson, BBC Radio Foyle.Over 10,000 people packed to Derry city centre last night to welcome Santa for the Christmas lights switch on, marking the beginning of the city’s Festive Time programme.Mayor of Derry Brenda Stevenson joined Santa on stage in the Guildhall Square after he swooped in specially from the North Pole, landing on the city’s historic walls.After a bit of “hide and seek” fun  and switching on the illuminations, he delighted the thousands of children by distributing sweets. SANTA LIGHTS UP DERRY FOR CHRISTMAS was last modified: November 21st, 2014 by stephenstephen Tags: Speaking after the event. Derry Mayor  Cllr Brenda Stevenson said: “I was absolutely thrilled to see so many young families out this evening to see the switch on – and meeting Santa was just the icing on the cake.“Looking out at the sea of smiling faces, all there to welcome Santa, was just fantastic and it’s really put me in the festive spirit. And this is just the beginning of the Christmas fun!”Meanwhile, the Christmas Village will open at Ebrington Square on 28 November featuring the LegenDerry Ice Rink, Festive Funfair and pop up cinema. christmasDerrylightsSantalast_img read more