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Laura Osnes Sounds Like an Angel & Wants You to Have an Emoji-Filled Christmas

first_img Star Files View Comments Happy Friday! Here’s a Tony nominee singing a Christmas tune about a smartphone. Because why not? Broadway babe Laura Osnes joined the a cappella group Straight No Chaser on The Today Show on December 5 to perform their hilarious yuletide hit, “Text Me Merry Christmas.” Sorry, Idina. “Holly Jolly Christmas” is so iOS 7. This video totally makes us :snowman emoji: :heart_eyes_cat emoji: :raised_hands emoji:. Take a break from sending Frozen-themed Snapchats and take a look below!center_img Laura Osneslast_img read more

Drive-In Camping: Top Spots to Pull Up and Pitch a Tent

first_imgDriving into the woods and setting up camp only a few feet from your bumper may not have the same cache as hauling a 50-pound backpack into the middle of nowhere. But the truth is, some of the South’s best adventures begin at family campgrounds and more secluded forest road campsites. And here’s the best part: Come November, these car camping adventure-lands are largely absent of the RVs and crowds. Here are a few of our favorites.Warden FieldsCitico Creek Wilderness, Tenn.It’s not easy to car camp inside a federally designated Wilderness area. Actually, it’s illegal, which means by and large, campers who want to enjoy the solitude and pristine nature of our Wildernesses must backpack. But the Citico Creek Wilderness in Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest is bordered by the Citico Creek Road. And along Citico Creek Road are pristine car camping sites, many of which hug the banks of Citico Creek itself. By far, the most desirable site is Warden Fields, a large clearing that was once the base of operations for logging companies who needed to access the steeps that now comprise Citico Creek Wilderness. Today, Warden Fields serves as a primitive base camp for day hikers looking to explore the Wilderness and surrounding mountains.234084525_c4229a7f13_zCitico Creek is a 16,226-acre Wilderness known for its wet creek crossings and high density of bears. Warden Fields serves as the trailhead for four hiking trails that climb deep into the Wilderness.Hike This: All of the trails beginning at Warden Fields can be connected to create loops. Pine Ridge Trail is 3.5 miles of singletrack that climbs 2,000 feet before joining Fodderstack Trail (which is also part of the Benton Mackaye Trail). Views are scattered along your ascent, but you can take a side trip up Big Fodderstack if you’re looking to bag a peak. Brush Mountain Trail (4.4 miles) connects the South Fork Citico Creek Trail with Warden Fields. The South Fork and North Fork Citico Creek Trails each follow and cross their respective forks, joining at Fodderstack at the N.C. border. Together, they make a beastly and wet 15-mile loop. For a shorter hike, Flats Mountain Trail (6.1 miles one way) begins at Beehouse Gap on Citico Creek Road not far from Warden Fields. The trail climbs one thousand feet to Flats Mountain, then switchbacks along the ridgeline, offering views of 5,000-foot peaks.CampingDeep Hole Recreation Area Chattahoochee National Forest, Ga.Location, location, location: that’s what makes Deep Hole such a coveted base camp for exploring North Georgia’s mountains. The small, primitive campground (no electricity, no showers) sits on the banks of the Toccoa River, just a few miles south of Lake Blue Ridge, within prime striking distance to some of the Chattahoochee National Forest’s best recreation. The Appalachian Trail and Benton Mackaye Trail intersect a few miles from the campground, one of Georgia’s best mountain bike systems is just up the road, and winter views can be had from nearby peaks. The campground is also the put-in for the 17-mile Toccoa River Canoe Trail.Hike This: The Benton Mackaye Trail crosses Highway 60 a few miles north of Deep Hole. You can follow it south to the suspension bridge across Toccoa River (three miles in) or go nine miles to the Bald, a man-made clearing that sits at 3,250 feet with views of Springer Mountain. This is one of the most remote sections of the BMT, featuring 1,300 feet of climbing from the Toccoa River to the Bald in a roller coaster ride of ascents and descents. The Appalachian Trail crosses Highway 60 at Woody Gap. From the gap, hike a mile north to Big Cedar Mountain, which has one of the best views along the first 30 miles of the A.T. Push your day hike a mile farther north and you can bag Granny Top Mountain and pick up the Dockery Lake Trail, which drops for three miles off the ridgeline via rocky, creek-side singletrack. Arrange for a shuttle and you can follow the trail all the way down to the tiny, trout stocked lake of the same name. The 9,649-acre Rich Mountain Wilderness has a similar ecosystem to the more popular Cohutta Wilderness, but only a fraction of the users. If you’re willing to bushwhack it, there are miles of old logging roads inside Rich Mountain’s boundaries, some of which take you past amazing winter views and old Native American camps.CampsiteYellow Gap RoadPisgah National Forest, N.C.The amount of high quality singletrack, long range views, rock faces, and waterfalls inside the Pisgah Ranger District should be illegal. This 16,000-acre outdoor oasis is one of the most popular national forest districts in the country. But don’t worry about crowds come November. If you want car camping with a bit of solitude, look for a spot on Forest Road 1206, more commonly known as Yellow Gap Road. The Yellow Gap winds from the North Mills River Recreation Area to the Davidson River Recreation Area, connecting two of the most popular recreation destinations in North Carolina. Classic Pisgah hikes fan from the road in either direction, and dozens of primitive campsites can be found tucked beneath the forest canopy just off the gravel road. There’s a particularly sweet spot that sits on the edge of Bradley Creek between the Pilot Rock and Pilot Cove trails.Hike This: Pilot Rock Trail is a 3.6-mile rock-laden beast of a climb that leads to massive views from a rocky outcropping. Bring your crash pad and climbing shoes and you can try to send some of the massive boulders that line the trail along the way. You’ll climb 1,500 feet in one brutal two-mile stretch. Looking Glass Rock Trail climbs 1,700 feet in 3.2 miles, rewarding hardy hikers with astonishing views from two cliffside perches. The trail switchbacks up the forested side of Looking Glass Rock, which is one of the hottest rock climbing destinations in the South. Take a side trail from the old helicopter pad for views from Lower Looking Glass Cliffs, and get even better views from the culmination of the trail at Upper Looking Glass Cliffs. For an easier hike, take Moore Cove Trail, a relatively flat 1.5 mile out and back with the sublime 50-foot Moore Cove Falls sandwiched in the middle. Depending on the weather, the falls is either a rollicking cascade or trickle. Either way, the massive rock cliff it tumbles over is worth the short hike alone.Related:last_img read more

Diálogo Interview With Lt. Gen. Adalberto Ramon Garcete of Paraguay

first_imgBy Dialogo June 06, 2011 I AGREE with General Garcete that the biggest problems are poverty and corruption. I am happy to see that there is a new mind set among the army, away from the old idea that all bad things came from communism. New realities, new problems, and fortunately, newer and more modern visions from South American armies. This update of concepts and philosophy is more than welcome. In April, Lt. Gen. Adalberto Ramon Garcete, Chief of the Paraguayan Joint General Staff, met with Gen. Douglas Fraser, Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, to talk about regional security affairs. During his visit, Diálogo took the opportunity to speak with General Garcete about various topics, including Paraguay’s role in peace-keeping operations and the modernization of its Armed Forces. Diálogo: What are the chief security threats that Paraguay is facing today, and what measures are the Armed Forces taking to combat them? General Garcete: The threat perspective is viewed from different angles by each country; it may be that terrorism is the top threat for the United States or England or France, and that same threat is second or third or last in Paraguay. Now, with regard to traditional threats, the Southern Cone is undoubtedly one of the most peaceful regions in the twenty-first century, since in practice, we no longer perceive any threat of a military confrontation between countries. This is backed by measures of mutual trust. With regard to new threats, non-traditional ones, Paraguay sees corruption, poverty, illicit arms trafficking, and drug trafficking as priorities. As a consequence of such threats, Paraguay may face terrorism, which is not latent today, but which could break out. All these non-traditional threats are transnational, that is, they affect all countries to the same extent, but as I repeat, the priorities in confronting traditional and non-traditional threats depend on each country. Along those lines, for Paraguay and from my point of view, poverty and corruption are among the chief threats. The measures that we are taking in the Armed Forces to combat them are to increase our capabilities and to create a “Directorate of Other Military Operations,” which will enable us to monitor or anticipate events that may affect our security. Diálogo: What measures is the Paraguayan government taking to increase the capabilities of its Armed Forces? General Garcete: This year, after a long time, our Armed Forces have received a considerable budget increase, with the help of political actors and all our compatriots who are committed to the country’s wellbeing, aware that development cannot be achieved without security, and that, as a consequence, it will not be possible to achieve the state’s supreme purpose: the common good. With the current budget, we are building up our human resources, a vital element of the force, ensuring that their condition improves in all aspects. In the context of the budget, we are also in the process of acquiring new armaments, equipment, and modern military vehicles for use in any operational environment, for the purpose of achieving the true transformation of our Armed Forces. Likewise, and with regard to infrastructure, we are operationalizing work in our organization to improve our installations for all our units, starting with those that have the greatest needs. Another measure to increase our capability is related to the deployment of a multi-role engineering company in Haiti, in addition to having personnel carrying out peace-keeping operations in Cyprus, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Western Sahara for several years now, a way in which we are collaborating on international security. Diálogo: What have been the peace-keeping successes of the Armed Forces that they can share with other nations? General Garcete: A major success of our Armed Forces is having operational experience among our personnel in interacting with professionals from other armed forces with modern technology, in a multi-personnel, multi-cultural environment. All this facilitates the fact that Paraguay today has personnel who are highly trained to successfully confront any situation together with other countries, for the purpose of providing security at both the national and global levels. last_img read more

CUNA supports fight against senior scams, goes on record for hearings

first_img continue reading » CUNA brought credit union issues and concerns before several Congressional committees and subcommittees Tuesday, including on affordable housing, flood insurance and international credit union programs.CUNA also wrote in support of the Stop Senior Scams Act (S. 149), a bill introduced by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas). S. 149 would create a federal advisory council dedicated to combating senior scams.“Financial exploitation is one of the most common forms of elder abuse. CUNA strongly supports the goal of this legislation to help seniors avoid financial exploitation and to encourage responsible decisions regarding financial management,” the letter reads. “This legislation represents an important step toward improving protection for seniors by creating a federal advisory council bringing together relevant government officials, industry representatives, advocates and consumer representatives to collect and develop educational materials for financial institutions and retailers to use in stopping scams on seniors. We are pleased to support this legislation and look forward to working with you to enact it.” ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Legal experts scoff at Indonesia’s improved rule of law ranking

first_imgThe Rule of Law Index, compiled annually by the United States-based World Justice Project, is a widely used tool to assess whether a country practices the four universal principles of law of accessibility, accountability, openness and fairness.The index makes use of eight indicators, each of which is assessed by 4,000 legal practitioners and 130,000 households around the world.According to the latest index, published on March 11, Indonesia has only progressed on five indicators: constraints on government power, open government, absence of corruption, civil justice and criminal justice.On the other hand, Indonesia experienced a setback in another indicator – order and security – while the scores for two others – fundamental rights and regulatory enforcement – remained stagnant.Erwin bemoaned Indonesia’s performance, saying the government should place more attention on the index, which has long been used as a primary basis for other indices, including Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.He urged the government to focus on improving three particular indicators – absence of corruption, civil justice and criminal justice – as they were still below the global average, despite improved scores on the index this year.Indonesia scored 0.39 in the absence of corruption indicator, well below the global average of 0.57. It also scored 0.39 for criminal justice and 0.46 for civil justice. Both are also below the global average of 0.47 and 0.55, respectively.“These indicators have long been stumbling blocks for Indonesia to achieve a better score on the index. So far, I haven’t seen any effort from the government to improve these indicators,” said the law expert.“Instead, the government has only made contentious gestures that have weakened Indonesia’s score, such as issuing the controversial 2019 Corruption Eradication Commission [KPK] Law.”Separately, Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation (YLBHI) chairwoman Asfinawati echoed Erwin’s sentiments, saying that the woeful reality of the current justice system was reflected in the low scores in the three aforementioned indicators, especially criminal justice.“I think the index is really good at capturing such realities,” she told the Post.As the head of a legal aid agency, Asfinawati said she had witnessed impoverished people entangled in criminal cases being discriminated against by law enforcers, simply because they did not have access to legal representation.To prove her point, she recalled several legal proceedings where the police had forcibly detained suspects without any evidence to prove they deserved to be arrested in accordance with the Criminal Law Procedures Code (KUHAP).Other times, she noted instances where suspects were unable to file pretrial lawsuits because they were unable to afford an attorney. As a result, they often faced tough sentencing when they could have been cleared of the charges if they had access to legal assistance.These circumstance implied that law enforcement agencies often abused their power, Asfinawati said, adding that this further exacerbated the unfairness within the country’s justice system.“Sometimes poor people have no idea where to even seek out legal aid, but that doesn’t mean that law enforcers can just discriminate against them haphazardly,” she said. “That’s not at all in line with the principles of the rule of law.”The YLBHI leader said she believed legal reforms such as amending the KUHAP to include fair treatment and the implementation of principles from the Universal Declaration on Human Rights would help Indonesia score better on the Rule of Law Index.“[Such reforms] may lift not just one but many index indicators at the same time, including criminal justice and fundamental rights,” she said.Asked separately about the justice system’s shortcomings, Supreme Court spokesperson Abdullah said the public can report judges who have allegedly violated the code of ethics to the Judicial Commission, which would then recommend deserving sanctions for them to the court.In 2019, the Judicial Commission recommended sanctions for 130 judges for breaching KUHAP provisions, which makes up most of the violations committed at the lower courts. Out of these recommendations, however, the Supreme Court has only followed up on 10 reports.“We have also simplified our judicial processes since launching the e-Litigation and e-Court system last year, so I think that should be called an achievement as well,” Abdullah said on Friday. (glh)Topics : Critics saw almost no merit in the slight improvement, but also acknowledged the index’s accuracy in exposing flaws in the justice system, which has long been held back by draconian laws and the pervasive grip of corruption.“The improved ranking might be deceiving as it looks like we have made a significant effort to set up a fair justice system in this country,” law expert Erwin Natosmal Oemar told The Jakarta Post earlier this week.“However, if you look at Indonesia’s score in the last five years, we haven’t improved much at all, meaning the government hasn’t done much to reform the justice system.”The report reveals that positive indicators have not improved significantly, as each score only increased between 0.01 to 0.02 percentage points compared to last year’s ratings. Unimpressed legal experts have called on the government to make the Indonesian justice system fairer despite the country’s improved position in a global rule of law index.Indonesia improved its aggregate score on the 2020 Rule of Law Index from 0.52 to 0.53, the first improvement in the last five years. The index measures a country’s adherence to the rule of law on a 0–1 scale, with 1.0 being the strongest.The slight progress was enough for Indonesia to place 59th out of 128 countries surveyed, four positions better than last year’s results.last_img read more

Trump bars travel from Brazil, a new pandemic hotspot

first_imgPresident Donald Trump on Sunday suspended travel from Brazil, which has emerged as a major new hotspot in the coronavirus pandemic, the White House said.Non-Americans who have been in Brazil in the 14-day period prior to when they seek admittance to the US cannot come to America, said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Trade is not affected by the new rule.”Today’s action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country,” she said in a statement. With more than 360,000 confirmed cases, Brazil now has the second-biggest caseload in the world, after the United States. It has registered more than 22,000 deaths.Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is a political ally of Trump and with his brash, not politically correct way of speaking, he has been dubbed the “Tropical Trump.”And, like Trump, Bolsonaro has downplayed the health crisis, famously comparing the virus to a “little flu” and arguing that stay-at-home measures are unnecessarily hurting Latin America’s largest economy.Brazil downplayed Trump’s move as standard procedure.”The decision… is identical to measures taken previously that suspended travel from other countries affected by COVID-19, including China, Iran, the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as the European Union’s Schengen zone,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.Brazil had itself already barred foreigners from entering the country because of the pandemic.Topics :last_img read more

Seaside life at inland prices

first_img52 Augusta Drive, Balgal Beach.LIVING by the beach is often a luxury reserved for those who can afford a seven-figure price tag but just north of Townsville homes by the sea are being listed for under $500,000.Areas such as Balgal Beach, Toolakea, and further north in the Hinchinbrook region all offer homes for under half a million that allow buyers to fall asleep to the sound of the sea. RELATED: >>Agents aid hot buyers in Townsville >>Rasmussen is proving you can nab a family-friendly home for under $200,000 >>Capital city buyers fed up with unaffordable property prices are heading to Townsville Selling agent Robyn Neilson is selling 52 Augusta Dr at Balgal Beach which is priced in the high $300,000s.The three bedroom two bathroom property has water views and is across the road from the beach.She said homes with water views near the beach always attract plenty of interest from the market.“They generally attract a higher price and they always sell well,” she said. “This home is amazing value … I don’t think there’s anywhere else you can get this for that money.“Balgal Beach is just such a brilliant place and I’ve travelled all over the world and this is where I choose to live.“It’s a wonderful community and location.” CLICK HERE for the latest Townsville real estate news Townsville Property Centre agent Jean Laterre said you can’t beat living by the beach and he has chosen to base himself by the sea at Toolakea.He is selling 72 The Esplanade which is priced at $475,000 and is a two bedroom, two bathroom home on a large 1012sq m allotment.More from news01:21Buyer demand explodes in Townsville’s 2019 flood-affected suburbs12 Sep 202001:21‘Giant surge’ in new home sales lifts Townsville property market10 Sep 202072 The Esplanade is for sale for $475,000.The property offers the ideal beachside lifestyle with the home’s front lawn ending where the sand beginsMr Laterre said white collar workers and people from interstate looking for a sea change at a bargain price were his main market for beachfront homes.“We get a lot of interstate inquiries (for beachside properties) and most of them are looking for a sea change rather than a holiday home,” he said.“Some people say I wouldn’t live on the beach because we might get taken out by a tsunami but you have a better chance of winning gold lotto.“This property is literally 50 steps from the beach.”Peter Reitano is selling 74 John Dory Street at Taylors Beach with a listing price of $460,000. The view from74 John Dory Street at Taylors Beach.The three bedroom, two bathroom home has beach frontage and the small coastal community is a fisherman’s paradise with all the streets named after fish.Mr Reitano said compared to other areas around Queensland beachside properties in Taylors Beach, Lucinda and Forrest Beach were relatively affordable.“We have quite a few properties around the district with water views and they do get strong interest,” he said.“With this property it has water views, you can stroll down to the beach and nothing can be built in front of you.“People really like the water views so they do usually attract a higher price than other properties in the area.”last_img read more

Sunland Group officially launches Magnoli Apartments

first_imgMagnoli Apartments.Apartments feature a mix of one, two and three-bedroom plus study designs, featuring kitchens, large indoor/outdoor living areas, and quality fittings and finishes.Prices for a one-bedroom apartment start from $395,000, and two-bedroom plus study apartments are priced from $580,000. The three-bedroom penthouses start from $1.15 million. Magnoli Apartments. Magnoli Apartments.“Magnoli Apartments introduces a new architectural language to the southern Gold Coast,” Sahba said.More from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa17 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag2 days ago“The twin twelve-storey apartment buildings feature vibrant cascading gardens, where views ofunspoilt beaches are framed by contemporary coastal living spaces.“Generous landscaped setbacks interwoven with ancient Norfolk pines, an expansive community park, and an on-site cafe further add to the local amenity.”Private resident amenities include a resort-style pool, lounge, and landscaped entertaining areas.center_img Magnoli Apartments is officially launching today.MAGNOLI Apartments features a collection of boutique residential apartments and terrace homes, adjoining a large park in Palm Beach.Sunland Group managing director Sahba Abedian said the vibrant transformation of the southern Gold Coast was s creating unique opportunities for home buyers.last_img read more

UK regulator cracks down on data irregularities with seven investigations

first_imgThe UK regulator is to launch an investigation into seven pension schemes over mass irregularities in their member data, as the body moves forward with its push to rid the industry of poor data.The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has been working on its push for better member data in UK schemes since 2010, when it introduced strict requirements on quality.In June 2010, the requirements laid down gave schemes two and a half years to have 95% accuracy for past common data, which include member names, addresses and dates of birth, and 100% accuracy for any data collected from that point onwards.Since the deadline passed at the end of 2012, the regulator has been investigating the industry to see whether its requirements have been met. It began a thematic review in the middle of last year, which involved an in-depth investigation into 237 of the UK’s most vulnerable schemes, to test the extent of which they had adhered to its requirements.With its findings expected to be published later this month, the regulator announced it has launched investigations into seven of the schemes it reviewed.In its thematic review, the regulator said it found 201 examples of good member data, and gave strong recommendations to a further 29 schemes on how to improve.With the seven schemes, however, it said it encountered a lack of engagement in its review, examples of trustees “passing the buck” on data quality and a significant impact on members.However, it said it also found examples of schemes building in risk management tools for poor member data, and cost-effective ways of keeping member data up-to-date.In its full review findings, the regulator will lay out to the industry how well schemes have taken on board the strict requirements brought in.It also confirmed the thematic review undertaken in 2013 was not a one-off, with another procedure taking place later this year.last_img read more

New Japanese Ambassador appointed to Dominica

first_imgPresident Dr. Nicholas Liverpool (left) and Ambassador Yoshimasa Tezuka His Excellency Yoshimasa Tezuka is Japan’s New Ambassador to Dominica.The Japanese Diplomat presented his letters of credentials to Dominica’s Head of State H.E. Dr. Nicholas J.O. Liverpool on June 6, 2012 during a ceremony at the President’s Office.The new Ambassador during his speech said, “On this occasion, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to your Excellency for your Government’s invaluable cooperation extended to Japan in the international arena. I also wish to convey our appreciation for the compassionate condolence message from your Excellency after the greatest Japan earthquake disaster. After one year, Japan is steadily moving forward toward recovery. I’m firmly resolved to do my best to fulfill my important mission and to provide all possible cooperation for the development of your country.”H.E. President Liverpool noted that since the formalizing of ties between Dominica and Japan in 1978, Dominica has received significant assistance from Japan.“I would like to express appreciation of the Government and people of Dominica for the tremendous help extended to this country under the Japan Overseas Development Assistance Programme including the provision of exports and training for Dominican nationals. They recognize the potential of the programme as an effective means of complimenting our national development efforts. I note in particular your country’s assistance to Dominica in the area of fishing under the Fisheries Grant Aid programme. The most recent being the construction of the Portsmouth Fisheries complex which has since been inaugurated and is now fully operational.”The island’s Head of State also welcomed news of plans by Japan’s Government to simplify its overseas development assistance programme.“I also welcome the news that your Government has taken the decision as of this year, to implement new procedures geared at simplifying its Overseas Development Assistance Programme. Your Excellency, it is my sincere hope that Dominica will continue to benefit from your country’s expertise and that of your people and that we will explore greater opportunities in developing more creative cooperation between our two countries.”Government Information Service Share Share LocalNews New Japanese Ambassador appointed to Dominica by: – June 8, 2012 12 Views   no discussionscenter_img Share Tweet Sharing is caring!last_img read more