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Monday, July 27, 2009

Halo Group, Inc. Tremendous Growth is Paralleled by Giving Spirit

The Allen-based Halo Group, Inc. (Halo) has been experiencing unprecedented growth over the past several years. The nationwide holding company now has eight subsidiaries within the consumer financial services industry. Ranking number three in the Comerica Bank Collin 60 of the fastest growing companies, Halo continues to be recognized for excellence and achievement in their market space. However, what is not widely known is the commonly held servant attitude and actions that characterize the Halo employee. Those actions include domestic service projects such as post Katrina clean-up efforts to various wellness and service missions to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cambodia, South Africa, and India to name a few. Halo has been in support of such projects from the beginning. “It falls in line with Halo’s mission to serve and stand above reproach. Halo’s mission as a company has always been to serve the American consumer in financial distress and offer solutions to strengthen the economy. It stands to reason that we as individuals enjoy serving outside the walls of Halo as well,” states Jimmy Mauldin, chief strategy officer at Halo Group, Inc.

One such employee is Neelka Smith, executive assistant at Halo Group, Inc., who has spent over 18 years involved in missions, having lived in 45 countries during that time including Central Asia, India, China, Angola, North Korea, and Guatemala. Today she continues to serve as a project director for Team Mania Global Expedition, a position she has held now for nine years. She is currently heading up a food factory initiative that will bring 250,000 meals a day to underserved countries. Neelka began her mission work while in college using summers to do work abroad in refugee camps in Nepal and Buton through Global Christian Network. Her heart has always been for young people and works locally, as well as, abroad as a child advocate working to put a stop to child prostitution. “Halo offers me the flexibility and the support that allows me to fulfill my commitment to serve others,” adds Neelka.

Another good example is Jeffrey Rasco, vice president of government relations & compliance at Halo Group, Inc., who spent eight days in Nicaragua to work with an orphanage providing facility and land maintenance, and much needed care to the community of children. “In addition to serving the financially-distressed American consumer, the culture at Halo also allows me to take time away from the office to serve those with even greater needs. Working with a group of orphans in Nicaragua for a week makes you realize how truly blessed we are as Americans, and brings a greater sense of purpose to my work, both here at home and abroad,” offers Jeffrey.

Throughout the year, there are many others serving locally and nationally through churches and shelters. Jonathan Whitt, operations assistant at Halo Group, Inc., enjoys serving through his church in the Dallas area, as well as abroad. He has made several trips to Mexico and is currently raising money for a trip to Cambodia this winter. The wellness mission to Cambodia will include teaching English and providing preventative healthcare to improve quality of life. Brianne DeVries, a receptionist at Halo Group, Inc., works with the homeless in Dallas serving locally in shelters and running clothing drives. “The character of the employees we hire is a real consideration in the interview process,” states Derek Stringer, executive vice president at Halo Group, Inc. “Halo believes in the integrity of its employees and the work that they do both corporately and in acts of service.”

About Halo Group, Inc.

Halo Group, Inc. is a nationwide holding company based in Allen, TX with subsidiaries operating primarily in the consumer financial services industries including debt, mortgage, real estate, credit, loan modification, and insurance. For more information about Halo Group, Inc., visit
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AAA Network channels launched in Taiwan

AETN All Asia Networks (AAA Networks), a joint venture of A&E Television Networks and ASTRO All Asia Entertainment Networks Limited, have announced the launch of its channels in Taiwan with four key Multiple System Operators (MSOs): TBC, kbro, CNS and TFN Media.

AAA Networks’ portfolio of four factual channels – HISTORY HD, HISTORY, The Biography Channel (BIO), and Crime & Investigation Network (CI) – have recently launched on both TBC and kbro’s digital platforms; while CNS and TFN Media will soon debut HISTORY HD, a 100 percent HD content channel.

Louis Boswell, General Manager, AAA Networks, said, “Taiwan is such an important pay TV market, it is unthinkable not to have our channels available there. We believe the Taiwan cable TV industry has developed extensively and the digital revolution is underway. We are pleased to offer our channels on the digital platforms of the four key MSOs. Taiwan viewers can now enjoy more in-depth, high quality factual entertainment programmes than ever before.”

All four channels are fully subtitled with traditional Chinese. Boswell continued "Subtitling is only the first step; as in every market we will continue to focus our efforts on the localisation of content through acquisition and production."

AETN All Asia Networks launched in June 2007 with HISTORY and CI. In just two years, the company’s channel portfolio has grown to include BIO and HISTORY HD. Distribution now covers Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Macau, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
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Cambodia: ‘AIDS Colony’ Violates Rights

Source: Human Rights Watch

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.
The Cambodian government should urgently address dangerous conditions in a de facto AIDS colony it has created and immediately stop sending HIV-affected families there, more than 100 international HIV/AIDS and social justice organizations and experts said in a joint letter delivered on July 27, 2009 to Cambodia's prime minister and health minister.

In June 2009, the Cambodian government forcibly relocated 20 HIV-affected families living in Borei Keila, a housing development in Phnom Penh, to substandard housing at Tuol Sambo, a remote site 25 kilometers from the city. Another 20 families were moved there on July 23. The families were resettled into crude, green metal sheds that are baking hot in the daytime and lack running water and adequate sanitation. Just meters away, higher-quality brick housing is being built, with the assistance of a nonprofit group, for other homeless families slated for resettlement at Tuol Sambo. Even before the HIV-affected families were resettled at the site, local people referred to the green sheds as "the AIDS village."

"By bundling people living with HIV together into second-rate housing, far from medical facilities, support services, and jobs, the government has created a de facto AIDS colony," said Shiba Phurailatpam of the Asia-Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS. "It's hard to understand how a government that has received international recognition for its HIV-prevention efforts could so callously ignore the basic rights of people living with HIV."

Dozens of organizations and individuals based in the Asia-Pacific region signed the letter, joined by groups and individuals from many nations, ranging from Canada and the United States to India and Tanzania.

The letter stresses that conditions at Tuol Sambo do not meet minimum international standards for even temporary emergency housing. The shelters are flanked by open sewers, with only one public well for all of the relocated families. They are crowded into the poorly ventilated metal sheds, where the afternoon heat is so intense they often cannot remain in their rooms, and they fear their antiretroviral (ARV) medication will deteriorate.

"The housing conditions in Tuol Sambo pose serious health risks for families living there," said Rebecca Schleifer, health and human rights advocate at Human Rights Watch. "People living with HIV have compromised immune systems and are especially vulnerable. For them, these substandard conditions can mean a death sentence or a ticket to a hospital."

The organizations also expressed deep concern about discrimination against HIV-affected families in the screening and allocation process for on-site replacement housing being built at Borei Keila. After two years of denying eligibility to HIV-affected families for this housing, the authorities have now said that at least 11 HIV-affected families previously slated to be sent to Tuol Sambo are in fact eligible. Those families remain at Borei Keila, but are still waiting for the housing they have been promised.

Increasing property values in Cambodia's capital city have left thousands of urban poor people vulnerable to forced evictions to make way for commercial development. The development of the Borei Keila site was approved in 2003 with the understanding that the developer would build new housing on site for those displaced by the project. With few exceptions, however, the HIV-affected families thus far displaced have not even been screened for eligibility for this housing.

When living at Borei Keila, these people worked as day laborers, motorcycle taxi drivers, cleaners, and seamstresses. Now, most have no prospects of work at or near Tuol Sambo. Their economic situation is worsened by the fact that a return trip to Phnom Penh to go to work or to visit hospitals costs the equivalent of about US$5 - for families who earn only $1.50 to $3 a day.

"The Cambodian government needs to establish a fair and open process for all to receive the housing and services they need," said Kevin Moody of The Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+). "People living with HIV - like all others - need adequate living conditions that do not threaten their health and a way to earn a livelihood, so that they can provide for themselves and their families. Grouping families affected by HIV in this way exposes them to further stigma and discrimination; steps must be taken to end this discrimination now."
The groups called on the Cambodian government to:

Cease moving HIV-affected families to the Tuol Sambo site;

  • Improve conditions at Tuol Sambo to meet minimum standards for adequate shelter, sanitation, and clean water;
  • Ensure full access to quality medical services, including antiretroviral treatment, treatment of opportunistic infections, primary health care and home-based care;
  • Work with relevant agencies and consult with the families already at Tuol Sambo to address immediate and long-term concerns regarding housing, health, safety, and employment, and reintegration into society in a manner that protects their rights and livelihoods; and
  • Employ a transparent and fair screening process to determine eligibility for on-site housing at Borei Keila, and allow eligible families to move in immediately (including the 11 HIV-affected families already approved). For those found ineligible, authorities should provide other adequate housing.

"Living with HIV with dignity means more than just ARVs," said Aditi Sharma of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition. "It means these families should have a healthy environment with adequate nutrition, proper sanitation and a continuum of care that addresses the social, psychological, legal, and economic consequences of living with HIV."

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