DHX Media Puts Itself Up for Sale


Canadian production and broadcasting corporation DHX Media has listed itself for sale following disappointing financial results this year. The news follows a major purchase this year of the Peanuts and Strawberry Shortcake properties for $ 345 million dollars from Iconix Brand Group, which gave the Hallifax, Novia Scotia-based company an 80 percent stake in the Peanuts intellectual property (with the Charles Schulz estate holding on to 20 percent).

DHX Media stressed that despite the announcement, they are continuing to seek alternatives such as mergers, and may not wind up making a transaction after all if they choose. They’ve assembled a special internal committee to evaluate their possible options.

In recent years, DHX has focused on acquiring properties and furthering Video-on-Demand access worldwide. In addition to Peanuts and Strawberry Shortcake, they own the rights to the shows Bob the Builder, Inspector Gadget, and Degrassi. They’ve further bolstered their library by acquiring Canadian rival Cookie Jar Entertainment, along with the Arthur, Caillou, and Care Bears properties. They also own Teletubbies creators Ragdoll Worldwide.

[Sources: CBC, Hollywood Reporter]



Animation Magazine

Budweiser renames itself ‘America’ to inspire drinkers

What could be more American than standing in a backyard at a barbecue while holding a beer on the Memorial Day weekend in the United States? Budweiser thinks it has the answer: Holding a beer called America.

The brewer said on Tuesday it will rename its eponymous Budweiser brew as “America” from May 23 through to the Nov. 8 presidential election to “inspire drinkers to celebrate America.”

During that period, cans and bottles of the beer will be adorned with U.S. icons such as the Statue of Liberty, phrases from the Pledge of Allegiance and lyrics from “America the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” The change will coincide with the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The marketing effort sent both Budweiser and “America” trending on Twitter in the United States, with social media users reacting in befuddlement and amusement.

“Pretty cheeky for Budweiser to rename its beer ‘America’ considering it’s now a Belgian company,” tweeted T.C. Sottek (@chillmage), the managing editor of technology news website Verge.

Budweiser is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, which is based in Belgium.

“‘No officer I am not drunk, I’ve only had 15 Americas. Are you really going to arrest me for enjoying some nice cold freedom?’ @Budweiser,” tweeted Meme (@ArturoChaidez).

(Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Alan Crosby)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Ebola Anxiety: A Bigger Threat Now Than the Virus Itself

TUESDAY Oct. 21, 2014, 2014 — Headlines remain riveted on the three Ebola cases in Dallas. But, mental health specialists say overblown fear is a much bigger health threat to Americans.

President Barack Obama on Friday appointed an Ebola “czar” to oversee the U.S. response to the virus, which has infected two Dallas nurses who cared for a Liberian man who died of Ebola this month at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

But the U.S. cases are miniscule in the context of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that’s concentrated in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and has so far killed more than 4,500 people, according to the World Health Organization.

Still, U.S. mental health experts say the combination of a deadly infection, uncertainty about how the Dallas nurses contracted it and constant media coverage could set the stage for widespread public anxiety.

Americans aren’t in panic mode yet, said James Halpern, director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

However, flu season is starting up, and its common symptoms — fever, headache and muscle pain — could be misinterpreted if people have Ebola on their minds.

“If we have a bad flu season, that could create a considerable emotional contagion,” Halpern said.

“It’s not only the virus that’s contagious,” he added.

In general, Halpern said, people have a hard time accurately assessing personal risk, and emotional reaction can override rational calculations. “We’re more afraid of snakes than cigarettes,” he noted.

And since most people, understandably, have limited knowledge of infectious diseases, they could be particularly susceptible to believing misinformation about disease outbreaks, said George Kapalka, a professor of psychological counseling at Monmouth University in West Long Beach, N.J.

Halpern agreed. With any worrisome event, he pointed out, “there’s going to be a lot of misinformation and rumors going around.” But faced with something as scary and unfamiliar as Ebola, people could have a particularly tough time separating reality from rumor, he said.

And then there’s the media coverage. “I think there’s been a gross overreaction on the part of the media,” said Gerard Jacobs, director of the University of South Dakota’s Disaster Mental Health Institute.

“The flu is a much greater threat to the American public than Ebola is,” Jacobs said.

He suggested that if you are feeling anxious about Ebola, go to a reliable source for information, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Their focus is the health of the American public,” Jacobs said. “They’re scientists, not politicians.”

Added Halpern: “Accurate information can be a good antidote to anxiety.”

But once you find out some Ebola facts, find something else to do. It’s not wise, Halpern said, to watch 24-hour news coverage of the outbreak, or devote hours of online time to it — including social media sites, where rumors can run rampant.

That could be especially important advice for people already prone to anxiety, according to Kapalka. “Those individuals can have a more intense fear response to what they’re hearing,” he said. “It would be sensible for them to self-impose some limits on their media exposure.”

According to the CDC, Ebola is spread through direct contact with the virus. “Direct contact” means that an infected person’s bodily fluids — such as blood, saliva or vomit — have touched someone else’s eyes, nose, mouth or broken skin.

Coughing and sneezing aren’t common symptoms of Ebola, but the CDC says it’s possible the virus could be transmitted if an infected person’s saliva or mucus got into someone else’s eyes, mouth or nose.

The bottom line, the CDC and other experts stress, is that you would need to be very close to someone with Ebola symptoms to become infected.

Kapalka suggested that, armed with that knowledge, people do a “reality check.” That is, what are the chances you are going to be in close contact with someone likely to have Ebola?

Then, Kapalka said, “You might be able to tell yourself, my personal risk is so low, living in fear is not worth it.”

More information

For more on coping with worry and stress, visit Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Posted: October 2014

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Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Activision buys itself back from Vivendi

Activision Blizzard has bought itself back from financially troubled majority owner Vivendi. The publisher today announced that it and an investor group led by CEO Bobby Kotick purchased more than 600 million shares back from the French media conglomerate for $ 8.2 billion.

Now an independent company with most of its stock held by the public, Activision Blizzard will be led by Kotick and chairman Brian Kelly. Vivendi will retain a 12 percent stake in the company with 83 million shares.

“These transactions together represent a tremendous opportunity for Activision Blizzard and all its shareholders, including Vivendi,” Kotick wrote in a statement. “We should emerge even stronger—an independent company with a best-in-class franchise portfolio and the focus and flexibility to drive long-term shareholder value and expand our leadership position as one of the world’s most important entertainment companies.”

Kotick and Kelly personally committed $ 100 million to their investor group, which includes Chinese media conglomerate Tencent among others. Their group now holds about 25 percent of the company’s stock.

Vivendi purchased Activision in 2007, merging the company with its Vivendi Games division to form Activision Blizzard.

GamesRadar – Xbox News

Smoking Deadlier For HIV Patients Than Virus Itself: Study

WEDNESDAY Dec. 19, 2012 — A new study finds that HIV patients who receive good care but who smoke lose more years of life to smoking than to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The findings show the importance of including quit-smoking counseling in long-term HIV care, the Danish researchers said.

They looked at nearly 3,000 HIV patients who were treated in Denmark from 1995 to 2010 and received well-organized care with free access to antiretroviral therapy. The researchers found that more than 60 percent of the deaths that occurred among the patients were associated with smoking rather than HIV.

They also found significant differences in life expectancy between HIV patients who smoked and nonsmokers. For example, a 35-year-old patient who smoked had a life expectancy approaching 63 years, compared with more than 78 years for a nonsmoking patient who was the same age, according to the study, which appears online Dec. 19 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The loss of years of life associated with smoking was twice as high as that associated with HIV, and the increased risk of death among HIV patients who smoked was three times higher than among people not infected with HIV, according to a journal news release.

“Our findings emphasize the importance of counseling HIV patients on smoking cessation, as smoking may impact their life expectancy considerably more than the HIV infection itself,” wrote Dr. Marie Helleberg, of Copenhagen University Hospital, and colleagues.

Although the study tied nonsmoking to longer life in HIV patients, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center has more about smoking and HIV.

Posted: December 2012

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Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Humble Bundle Loses What Makes Itself Special With THQ Bundle

Company of Heroes Tales of Valor

The launch of the latest Humble Indie Bundle yesterday was an unusual one. Rather than being met with the usual reaction — people spreading the word, maybe some praise being bestowed for a strong selection of games — this particular one instead prompted complaints that the Humble Bundle has lost its way. That’s because it consists of games published by THQ, a company which, despite its ongoing financial troubles, is far larger than those we normally see featured in these bundles. While I don’t find the situation quite as egregious as others do, I do think this is a step in the wrong direction.

The first Humble Indie Bundle was launched in early 2010, and it’s still easy to see why it was so appealing: Buyers could get five great indie games for Windows, Mac, or Linux without any DRM, and at any price they deemed appropriate, be it hundreds of dollars, a few pennies, or, in the case of that particular bundle, nothing at all. To sweeten the deal, purchasers could freely decide how their money was divided up between the developers of these games, the organizers of the bundle, and a pair of charitable organizations, the latter of which made it so five games could be had in return for nothing more than a donation to charity.


Call of Duty Elite Simplifies Itself By Going Free For All

Call of Duty Black Ops II Season Pass

The way Call of Duty Elite — the subscription service for the massively popular FPS series — worked never really seemed like the most sensible way to go. By having free and premium tiers, there was always a great deal of confusion among gamers, and this led to some unfair criticisms about how the money-hungry Activision was charging for stat-tracking services other games offered for free when, in reality, that was not the case. As Elite approaches the beginning of its second year in existence with the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops II next month, Activision is doing the sensible thing: it’s making Elite (sans downloadable content) free for everyone to access.

When it was originally launched last year, the $ 50-per-year version of Elite offered a year’s worth of downloadable content, extra storage for replay videos, the ability for clans to level up, tournaments with real-world prizes, and Elite TV. The DLC was obviously the big attraction, as on its own that same content would cost $ 60. But the manner in which DLC was handled was not immediately apparent: If I purchase an Elite membership this past June, do I get all of the previously released content? Do I get Black Ops II DLC released prior to next June? It was needlessly confusing.


Fez Left Broken, Highlighting How XBLA Shoots Itself in the Foot


Long-awaited Xbox Live Arcade title Fez received a patch last month fixing a long list of issues. However, despite this patch taking more than two months after the game’s initial release to show up, it proved to introduce a serious issue of its own: it could corrupt players’ save game files. The update was pulled from Xbox Live and we’ve been awaiting a fixed version, only we now know one is not coming. Developer Polytron has announced its decision to re-release the patch as-is due to the cost involved in issuing a new one. This is yet another illustration of how Microsoft has hamstrung Xbox Live Arcade and ensured that, without changes, it will never fulfill its potential.

But first, Polytron’s decision demands addressing. A blog post from last night explained that Microsoft would charge “tens of thousands of dollars to re-certify the game,” and with the save corruption happening to less than one percent of players (and most often to players “who had completed, or almost completed the game”), it has been deemed “safe for an overwhelming majority of players.” Microsoft agrees the patch is ‘good enough’ to be re-released, and you can now go about downloading the patch (if you haven’t previously) to fix the framerate, various crash bugs, and so on. Polytron notes that, had it been released on Steam, “the game would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us.” Between this and a subsequent tweet, it certainly sounds like a Steam release is in the works.


Can Aliens: Colonial Marines Free Itself from Prometheus’ Shadow?

With the runaway success of 2009’s Borderlands, Dallas-based developer Gearbox created a reputation for itself as more than just the studio behind a few Half-Life expansions or WW2 shooters, but one capable of offering its own serious creative output. With the long-in-development Aliens: Colonial Marines finally set for release early next year, Gearbox’s latest trailer is capitalizing on the film franchise’s return to theaters with next month’s prequel-in-all-but-name, Prometheus.


OP-ED: Activision Has a Point When Defending Itself Against Claims It Doesn’t Innovate


Between DICE taking place last week and Tim Schafer successfully turning to Kickstarter to fund a Double Fine-developed graphic adventure, there has been a lot of talk recently about the role publishers serve in the videogame industry. There is the belief among many people that publishers do little more than stifle innovation, a suggestion Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg takes issue with.

During a panel at DICE, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter made the case that today’s publishing model isn’t good for for the industry. Publishers are opposed to risks and many shy away from bringing out games unlikely to sell millions of units, he said, also adding, “We are getting fewer choices as consumers because financial guys are taking over. Financial guys are making the decisions.”


NPR shames itself for spreading Dragonfly lies on Prop 19

Shame on you, NPR. Shame.

This morning I was very excited to see National Public Radio (NPR) beginning week-long coverage of the debate over Proposition 19.  I was thrilled to see the hear installment, entitled “Legalized Pot’s Unlikely Supporters: Moms And Cops“, wondering whom I would hear from first.  Would it be police supporters like former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper or former Baltimore narcotics officer Neill Franklin?  Or would it be mom supporters like Oaksterdam’s Dale Sky Jones or NORML New Jersey’s Anne Davis?

So maybe you can understand my outrage when the first voice I hear is not a supporter, but rather Stoners Against Legalization‘s “Dragonfly de la Luz” spouting her outright lies about Prop 19.  Maybe you can further understand my disappointment in NPR that a 7:48 segment entitled “Legalized Pot’s Unlikely Supporters: Moms And Cops” would lead its first 4:20 (really?) with opponents, leaving the moms and cops with just 45% of the time in the segment (or 39% of the words in the written story, if you prefer).

I guess NPR is just following in the FOX News example of providing “both sides” of the debate – the truth and the lies.  Let’s just count how NPR managed to promote factual inaccuracies about Prop 19 just eight days before election:

Californians would be able to legally possess, process, share or transport only one ounce of pot. And they would be able to grow it only in a 25-square-foot area.

“These exotic strains that we know and love are going to quickly become obsolete because a 5-by-5 space is just not enough space to breed and experiment all these new strains,” she says. “It would be a real shame if we lost all of this variety.”

So, let’s see… when absolutely no personal marijuana growing is legal, we have great genetic diversity, but when it is legal for everyone to grow four-to-six plants in a 5-by-5 space, producing anywhere from 12-to-30 ounces of dried bud per season, exotic strains will go extinct?  Because people that are growing illegal larger plots for breeding are going to stop breaking the law when a 5-by-5 is legal?  Because all those growers with Prop 215 recs who can and will still be able to grow larger plots won’t do so anymore?  Because the companies that form to grow commercial marijuana won’t want to have as many brands as possible to entice customers?  Riiiiggghhht….

Proposition 19 allows local governments to license commercial marijuana companies, which worries self-professed stoners like de la Luz.  ”We’re kind of like anti-Wal-Mart and anti-McDonald’s,” she says. “So for them to try to sneak in and turn cannabis into a corporation, that’s disgusting.”

First of all, existing corporations, like Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds, long rumored to be waiting in the wings to take over the marijuana market, can’t.  Marijuana will still be federally illegal and the minute they touch Schedule I marijuana, the feds will have them in court to seize their assets.  It’s not as if the government doesn’t like hauling Big Tobacco into court.

Second, when some companies do begin commercial marijuana sales and production, they’re regulated and controlled by the localities, not the state.  So if you don’t like Wal-Mart, like many local communities don’t, you can keep them out.  If you do like marijuana companies but want to keep a close eye on them, you can work with your local officials.  Local control is exactly what big corporations don’t like.

This is the ultimate result of the illegal marijuana market "Dragonfly de la Luz" supports (Photo by AP)

Third, what’s so disgusting about companies creating jobs for Californians, paying taxes to help our citizenry, and not shooting up people in the streets over the marketing of marijuana?  You want to talk about disgusting, let’s talk about the illegal market that keeps pot prices at $ 15 per gram for medical marijuana patients.  Let’s talk about a million teens nationwide selling pot in the high schools.  Let’s talk about slaughtered beheaded Mexicans in the streets of Juarez.

“This particular cannabis, this Dr. Walker’s Daze, this beautiful frosty sativa bud I’m holding did not come from a licensed dispensary,” de la Luz tells him. “Under Prop 19, it would be illegal for me to possess and smoke this. It looks a lot more like freedom today in California than it would be if Prop 19 were to pass.”

“Why would it be illegal?” Ali Baba asks.

“Because Prop 19 prohibits possession of cannabis that was bought anywhere other than a licensed dispensary,” she explains.

So, “Dragonfly”, you bought marijuana from the black market?  Yes, that’s exactly what we want to make illegal, because your illegal dealer buddies aren’t checking kids’ ID’s.  But saying you couldn’t possess and smoke it is a flat-out lie.  Prop 19 allows you to possess and share one ounce of marijuana outside the home and the only way anyone could tell you bought it illegally is if you open your gaping maw and tell them.  Here are your options when the cop asks, “Miss ‘de la Luz’, where did you get that beautiful frosty sativa bud?”

  1. “I grew it.”
  2. “My friend gave it to me.”
  3. “I bought it at a Prop 19 store.”
  4. “I have my Prop 215 rec and bought it at a dispensary.”
  5. “I have my Prop 215 rec and this comes from my collective.”
  6. “I don’t answer police questions without my attorney present.”
  7. (silence)
  8. “I bought it illegally from an unlicensed weed dealer.”

Shame on NPR for spreading DragonfLIES.  Let’s hope the rest of the week’s segments are more truthful.

The NORML Stash Blog

Study suggest acne itself, not medications, may up suicide risk in teens

depression, rather than the treatments with which those symptoms had been previously linked. Older studies have linked acne drugs to increased risk of mental health side effects, but the correlation has not been confirmed in a controlled setting. The
Moreover Technologies – Search results for… drugs – 30 of 646 returned

The Sociology of American Drug Use

Revised and updated in its second edition, The Sociology of American Drug Use is an ideal text for drug courses offered in sociology and criminology departments. Presenting a broader sociological perspective on drug use in American society than any other text, it includes extensive coverage of various methods and statistics for measuring drug use, a topic that is particularly relevant for sociology students. The authors open with an examination of the construction of drug use as a social problem

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