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Putin: 'The bear never asks permission'

CNN World - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 4:22am
Have no fear, Vladimir Putin is here. That seems to be the message in an epic promo released ahead of the Russian president's annual news conference as the country's economy plummets.
Categories: International News

Thaw with Cuba angers exiles

CNN - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 4:16am
In Miami, where the vast majority of the large population of Cuban exiles once fiercely opposed any change in the U.S. stance toward the island, reactions were split, largely along generational lines.
Categories: National News

You won't believe where this truck was found

CNN World - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 3:05am
A plumber in Texas is trying to avoid fallout after a picture of his old work truck ended up on Islamic social media sites.
Categories: International News

Falling in love with public transit

CNN World - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 2:58am
You could call it a budding romance with the possibility of a long-lasting relationship. More Americans are riding public transportation. In fact, ridership is on track to top 2013, which was the highest since 1956.
Categories: International News

How to do Nepal without climbing mountains

CNN World - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 2:36am
Yes, you can experience the mountains and culture of Nepal without crampons. Here's how.
Categories: International News

Marriage proposal goes wrong

CNN World - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 2:14am
A Dutch man rented a crane to reach his girlfriend's window for a romantic proposal, but things went a little wrong.
Categories: International News

14 best places to spend Xmas

CNN World - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 2:10am
If your Christmas is too often one of tacky decorations and bitter family feuds, you may need to put the baubles back in the attic and plan a yuletide getaway.
Categories: International News

Wedding trend alert: More couples choose enchanting winter themes

Bridal - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - The glittering icicles, crisp white snow and a simple unspoken elegance – the wonder of winter has suited weddings well for many years. Today, Disney’s Frozen has renewed interest in winter weddings, with more couples choosing a sophisticated theme that is inspired by the style and storyline of the popular film.

If you think it’s odd to model the theme of your wedding after a children’s movie, you’re perhaps not aware of just how brides are finding inspiration from the movie to create the wedding of their dreams. The reception isn’t plastered with princesses and fairies. Rather, this is chic style that embraces the beauty of winter while taking subtle cues from the movie. Consider these five trendy ways brides are creating Frozen-themed weddings:

The invitation sets the stage and provides guests clues as to what to expect at the ceremony and reception. The Disney Fairy Tale Wedding collection from Invitations by Dawn gives brides two beautiful wintery options. The Disney’s Icy Swirls Invitation is inspired by Elsa, evoking a regal, elegant and magical design that features shimmer paper and a laser cut swirl band in baby blue. For the down-to-earth bride who embraces natural designs, the Disney Natural Beauty Invitation inspired by Anna is the perfect option. Ecru shimmer paper, a wood grain background and choice of design colors combine to show a bride’s free spirit and impeccable style.

The look
Wedding-day style is emulating Frozen with looks that are as cool as ice. Brides are choosing dresses of crisp white satin, glitter and organza to capture the beauty of Elsa. Alfred Angelo even features an Elsa wedding dresses in his 2015 Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings collection. To finish the look and truly exude the character of Elsa, brides are choosing loose braids and soft, shimmery makeup. For the bridesmaids, dresses in tones of evergreen or plum are gaining popularity.

Reception decor
The reception is where brides are really having fun selecting decor to create a winter wonderland setting that captures the attention of guests young and old. Some are going with an all-white setting with touches of sparkling crystal, flickering candles and twinkle string lights for an instantly romantic ambience inspired by Elsa. Others are embracing touches of rich color and natural decor, such as plum table runners, gold-rimmed plates and accents of pine cones and birch branches, much to the style of Anna.

More florists are being asked to model bouquets and centerpieces after Frozen and the outcomes are breathtaking. For an icy winter look representative of Elsa, brides are selecting all-white arrangements with petal tips dusted in micro-glitter or gems peaking out of the center of each flower. For the rich, natural look of Anna, brides are selecting flowers in a variety of gemstones like ruby, garnet, emerald and amethyst for bouquets that pop against a white dress or tabletop.

While diamonds are the traditional stone for engagement rings, more brides are thinking outside the jewelry box and longing for a ring that none of their friends will have. Selecting stones in unique hues is a big trend, and there are many options that capture the beauty of winter. A ring featuring icy aquamarine with blue sapphire accents set in white gold embraces the style of Elsa perfectly. For natural beauties like Anna, an emerald center stone set in rose gold surrounded by rich purple amethyst in the shape of a snow flake is sure to please. Bottom line: when it comes to rings, the sky is the limit and diamonds aren’t necessarily a girl’s best friend any longer.                  

Pint-sized wedding guests: Yay or nay?

Bridal - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - It’s one of the most debated aspects of any wedding: Should children be invited? Some argue children add to the magic of the event while others prefer to keep the potential tantrums far from their big day. Ultimately it’s up to the couple to decide what is right for them, and with the proper etiquette, it’s simple to communicate to guests exactly what they want without offending anyone.

Remember, when deciding whether to invite children, it’s not necessarily an all-or-nothing decision. Some people choose to include children of immediate family, such as nieces, nephews and godchildren, but not the children of family further removed. The wedding experts at Invitations by Dawn note the key to clear communication starts with the wording on the invitations.

The outer envelopes
The main purpose of the outer envelope is for mailing. Guests should be referred to by title, first and last names – no need to mention children. For example, Mr. and Mrs. Chris Jones, or, Mrs. Sara Nelson and Mr. Jon Jefferson, followed by the address.

The inner envelopes
The inner envelope holds the invitation and is where you can specify who exactly is invited to the wedding and reception. For adults-only events, list just those names. If you want children invited also, list the parents’ names and then underneath that, list children’s first names from oldest to youngest.

For specific examples of proper wording for inner and outer envelopes, visit

The invitations
In addition to the envelopes, some couples who decide not to invite children add a notation on the invitation that reiterates their request. For example, a small asterisk in the bottom right hand corner that states: * No children please, or * Adults-only reception.

No matter how clearly you think you’ve worded the invitation, you may receive responses that include people who were not invited. In this case, the best thing to do is to pick up the phone and talk with the guest one-on-one to explain the situation. Simply state you weren’t able to invite everyone’s children but are hoping the adults can still come. You may choose to explain your parameters for the restriction, such as limited space or that you are inviting just the children of immediate family members. Most people are understanding and will be grateful for the personal call.

Want to celebrate your marriage? Hold a vow renewal ceremony

Bridal - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Your wedding might have been 50 years ago, 20 years ago, or even just last year. Each year on your anniversary, you and your spouse might give each other cards and a special gift. But this year, why not consider renewing your vows?

Vow renewal is becoming more popular, especially with the growth of social design sites like Pinterest, which provide lots of inspiration for fresh wedding decorations. Couples who loved celebrating their wedding last year or several years ago often want to celebrate again. Some reasons for this desire include wanting to throw a party with family and friends, or to be able to repeat the wedding without feeling all the stress they felt the first time around.

Some couples renew their vows to better connect their family, especially if they have children. They bring their children into the ceremony, showing their continued love for each other and every member of the immediate family.

And some couples who kept their wedding very simple with a destination wedding or even a courthouse ceremony decide to have a vow-renewal service to celebrate with all the loved ones who might not have been able to attend the original ceremony.

To get your vow-renewal service started on the right foot, check out the vow-renewal invitations from Invitations by Dawn. The site has added new styles and designs specifically meant for vow renewals. You’ll find the perfect invitation to send to your friends and family, and you can also use it to hint at the type of party you’ll be throwing.

Head to the Internet to start gathering ideas for how to make your next special day as memorable as the first. You might choose to make the ceremony simpler than the first, or more elaborate, depending on how much you want to spend and how much effort you want to put in. But thanks to the Internet, you’ll have plenty of ideas about how to plan everything for your vow-renewal service, from the clothes everyone wears to the food served at the reception.

Many celebrities are into throwing a bash to renew their vows – even on a yearly basis. While that might be a bit extreme, couples are considering hosting a special ceremony at the five, 10 and 15-year marks to rekindle that special day when they first said, “I do.”

If you and your spouse need something new in your marriage, consider renewing your vows in front of your friends and family. Even if you aren’t celebrating a big milestone anniversary, it’s a great way to reconnect to the love that initially brought you together.

Invitations are the best way to set the style and tone for your wedding

Bridal - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - You might be a fairytale-style bride or a more professional bride who doesn’t tolerate frilly. You might even be the girl next door with a laid-back attitude. Whatever your personal style, your tastes will set the look and feel of the wedding you’re planning.

Over the years, weddings have changed and so have brides and grooms. For example, the average age of a bride has gone up, therefore more couples are choosing to pay for their own weddings. This trend is also causing changes in the overall theme of a given wedding.

If you’re in the process of planning your upcoming wedding, here are some ways you can spice up your wedding starting with the invitations.

* Theme – Infuse a hint of your event’s theme into the wedding invitations. Some couples choose themes based on how they want to decorate. Movies, hobbies and favorite sports teams are popular choices for themed weddings. Invitations by Dawn has a variety of trending theme styles ranging from elegant to destination weddings, allowing you to tease your guests with what they can expect for the big day.

* Voice – Wedding invitations used to be very formal. “The parents of the bride request the honor of your presence in the marriage of their daughter to the groom at ... .” Since many couples are now writing the invitation wording, they’re choosing to add a little personality. So instead of formal language like “regretfully declines” or “accepts with pleasure,” couples might now instead use “Bummer, we’re out,” or “Totes, we’re there!”

* Symbols and designs – Sometimes couples don’t have a theme but will focus on an element like a certain kind of flower, pattern or specific color. This decorative element can have special meaning to the couple. Perhaps the flowers are the same as those the groom gave the bride on their first date, or maybe the lace pattern on the wedding dress was also worn by the bride’s mother or grandmother. Check out the wedding invitations at Invitations by Dawn for designs that incorporate your special element so you can tie the entire event together beautifully.

* Type of invitation – Paper invitations are still the most popular option, as most couples aren’t interested in sending e-vites for their big day. However, the style varies depending on the couple’s taste. Some are choosing to do away with the formal invitation with multiple envelopes. Instead they’re picking tri-fold invitations or postcard notifications and responses. Some couples are opting for photo cards, so they can share their engagement photos in the invitation. Pocket initiations are also very popular. Invitations by Dawn has these styles and much more, giving you plenty of options to help you find the perfect wedding invitation.

Planning a wedding is a lot of fun. When you find an invitation that introduces your wedding theme beautifully, you’ll know you have a winner!

Level up! Selecting the best video games for your children

Education - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Kids love video games - they're exciting, fun and engrossing. While games can promote learning and growth, too much video gaming - or playing inappropriate games - can lead to negative consequences. What should parents know to make good game choices for their children?

“The video game rating system works well and is pretty accurate,” says Richard Fiore, an instructor in game art and design/visual effects and motion graphics at The Illinois Institute of Art – Schaumburg. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) provides ratings from “Early Childhood” to “Adult Only.” Fiore says that while these ratings are accurate, it is up to the parent to pay attention to them.

For young children, Fiore says tablets are the way to go, because they are very tactile. He adds that it is important to get your child acclimated to technology, and tablets are great for children’s hand-eye coordination. “Leapfrog makes tablets that are tough enough for kids to play with,” he says. These tablets make age-appropriate games and provide children with technology that resembles what their parents have.

Ken Kavanagh, visual and game programming instructor at The Art Institute of Vancouver, says education software and software that makes a child think is better than twitch games, where children are simply moving a character around. “You can start a child on software earlier as long as you are adamant on it being educational,” he says.

As children grow, you can continue this with games that encourage creativity and imagination. He says a lot of online education games and storybook software are prominent for young children, where they have some interaction with the story.

Fiore recommends Disney online gaming for young children. All safety features are turned on so there is no chatting with strangers. He likes Club Penguin, because it is somewhat educational and fun. It allows children to play with other children around the world, with preloaded things they can say to each other. “It’s enough for kids to feel like they are playing real video games and being part of a community,” says Fiore. For online games, Kavanagh likes Hooda Math, which offers fun flash games that have an educational spin on them.

Children 6 and older can start to appreciate sandbox-type games such as Minecraft. Games such as this, with very few limits, “really fosters the kids’ imaginations,” says Fiore. “There’s a whole process that kids need to learn to build and create. I think those games are way better, because you aren’t simply racing a car or collecting coins or fighting.” He warns that the most important thing to remember is to turn off the chat function because it is the most dangerous part for children.

While educational games are great for children, Fiore says playing a game for fun every now and then is totally fine. Limiting a child’s screen time is also a way to ensure your child is experiencing other things outside the gaming world. Fiore allows his son to have one hour of screen time a day, but he can earn another hour by reading for an hour.

When looking at consoles, Fiore recommends Nintendo. “It seems like Nintendo has more appropriate games for kids,” he says. For instance, the violence in a game like the Mario games isn’t real violence, but cartoon violence. He also says a lot of children enjoy the Nintendo 3DS. It’s tough and doesn’t scratch. Fiore says if a group of children are sitting together with 3DSs, they are all probably playing the same game. This way children aren’t playing alone.

Fiore sees virtual reality as the future of gaming, but not necessarily a good idea for children. “I see that being a problem for kids, and I say keep them out of it.” He says children’s eyes are still growing and the virtual reality glasses can cause a lot of eye strain.

Once children start buying their own software, it is important for them to have been taught what they should buy, Kavanagh says. “You have to care what your children are interacting with.”

Categories: Lifestyle

Research study uncovers small business predictions for 2015

Business/Careers - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Small business owners can easily get caught up in the December rush. But once the holiday sparkle fades, business owners and entrepreneurs will need to refocus and make decisions likely to impact their business in 2015.

Before coming to any conclusions, entrepreneurs should be aware of some business revelations uncovered by the Q3 Spark Business Barometer while they feverishly plan during the last few weeks of the year.

Women and millennials’ optimism will drive sales: Do you know an entrepreneur who is skyrocketing to the top? Surveys show that there is a good chance that person is a millennial or a woman. The Q3 Spark Business Barometer indicates that millennial and women business owners are seeing improved sales, and tend to be more optimistic about financial conditions and business prospects, as well as the economy, compared to other generations and male counterparts. Entrepreneurs should seek out diverse points of view from their millennial and female counterparts; a new perspective may help tackle a long-standing challenge or identify a new opportunity.

Employees will be better compensated: The cost of doing business – and doing it well – will continue to rise in 2015. The good news for workers at local businesses is that employers have a renewed focus on rewarding and growing talented workers. Employees can expect to see higher salaries and better training in 2015. Nearly half (46 percent) of small business owners plan to increase funding for employee salaries, while a third (33 percent) plan to spend more on employee training. Employers that have struggled to win and retain top talent should consider investing more in their training and compensation policies. A relatively small investment can pay dividends in worker productivity.

Retirement plans will help business owners attract and retain employees: Where are business owners not investing? Retirement plans. Growth of retirement planning adoption has remained static, as only 24 percent of business owners offered this benefit in 2013 and 2014. However, businesses should realize that replacing an employee can often cost more than investing in current talent. Those looking to attract the best employees should consider offering retirement plans to compete with other employers – you can even save some extra money during tax time by implementing a plan before the year ends!

Main Street will adapt to Silicon Valley: Entrepreneurs recognize that technology can help them streamline their operations, grow their businesses and even cut costs – and they are investing accordingly. According to the survey, nearly a third (29 percent) of small business owners plan to increase spending on hardware and software next year, while 16 percent will invest more in mobile payment technology. Entrepreneurs should consult a technology expert who can advise on the best hardware, software and solution investments that will help grow their business.

As the business landscape shifts constantly, business owners should seek out advice from peers and industry experts. Resources are available to provide businesses with valuable insight on the opportunities and challenges affecting the business community.

Categories: Lifestyle

Ask the Pharmacist: Don't let a bleeding disorder wreck your travel plans

Community Cares - Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - If you or someone in your family, has a bleeding disorder, you know that even the simplest accident can be a cause for major concern. Major developments in care and treatment have significantly improved quality of life. Most patients can now self-administer intravenous clotting factor with education and direction from a trained clinician – like Accredo bleeding disorder nurses – rather than going to a treatment center for each infusion.

“However, many medications have special treatment, storage and transportation requirements,” says Leslie Oygar, a clinical nurse liaison in the Accredo Bleeding Disorders Therapeutic Resource Center. “This means that traveling with a bleeding disorder, especially during the busy holiday season, can pose particular challenges.”

A few precautions can ensure that patients and their families can have a safe and healthy holiday travel season, she adds. Specialist nurses, like Oygar, in Accredo’s Therapeutic Resource Center, can help patients effectively manage their condition.

Here are a few tips for people with bleeding disorders to consider as they plan to travel:

* Plan ahead: If traveling a long distance, make sure to discuss arrangements in advance with a physician or specialist pharmacist. Obtain emergency contact information for both the physician and pharmacy.

* Be prepared: Not all hospitals carry clotting factor or the other medications used to treat bleeding disorders. Make sure to carry adequate clotting factor, other bleeding disorder medications, infusion supplies and, if possible, a few extra doses in the case of a significant bleed or trauma. Many insurance providers require prior notice to be able to authorize extra doses of medication. Allow 3-4 weeks to make sure you have all the approvals in place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has information about treatment centers in the U.S, as well as hematologists who can provide medical intervention at or near travel destinations, if necessary.

* Keep your records current: If traveling for extended periods, make sure the specialty pharmacy has accurate information about how to contact you and where to ship the factor during the travel period.

* Carry documentation: A letter from the hematologist is an important document of introduction and information for anyone treating the patient if medical intervention is necessary. This letter will also provide an emergency physician with treatment guidelines specific to the individual, and the contact information of the patient’s personal hematologist and nurse coordinator.

* Know the rules: When using public transportation, whether air, bus, train, or anything else, call ahead to ask about requirements associated with traveling with needles, syringes and other medication administration equipment. Sharps boxes are usually acceptable even if they contain used syringes. If traveling by air, download and complete the TSA Notification Card 72 hours prior to air travel and contact TSA Cares at 855.787.2227 to help facilitate your trip through airport security.

* Keep the original packaging: Keep all medications and supplies unopened and in the original boxes especially when traveling by air, which requires an inspection of carry-on bags or coolers if appropriate. Medications and equipment should be accompanied by a letter from the physician and carried by the patient while traveling. Wear a Medic Alert at all times – especially when traveling.

* Store carefully: Mini-fridges in hotels and other accommodations can have poor temperature control, which increases the risk of freezing the factor. Be careful to store medications at the appropriate temperature.

For bleeding disorders patients traveling internationally, the World Federation of Hemophilia website can provide information about treatment centers outside the U.S. For more information, visit

Categories: Lifestyle

Judge denies request to release Steve Jobs trial video

Business News - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:40pm
A California judge has denied a request by media companies to release a videotaped deposition of Apple's Steve Jobs, taken six months before his death in 2011.

Selma protesters invoke Ferguson but police say no comparison

CNN - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:22pm
The chants of protest heard across America in recent weeks echoed Wednesday in the small city where the civil rights movement reached a crescendo five decades ago.
Categories: National News

205 more charges for kidnapping suspect

CNN - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:04pm
A 34-year-old man originally charged in the kidnapping of a New Hampshire teen is now facing 205 additional charges, according to two grand jury rulings.
Categories: National News

Johnson Matches Career High Of 20 Points In Loss To ASU

Bulldog Beat - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:03pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Roquez Johnson tied his career-high with 20 points for the fourth time, but it wasn't enough as Arkansas State rallied to beat Mississippi State 69-55 Wednesday at Humphrey Coliseum.

Six charged in West Virginia water contamination

CNN - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:02pm
Almost one year after water for more than 300,000 West Virginia residents was contaminated because of a chemical spill, six former officials for the company responsible for the leak are facing federal charges.
Categories: National News

14 arrested in deadly meningitis outbreak

CNN - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:58pm
Fourteen people have been arrested in connection with the deadly 2012 national outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to steroid injections distributed by a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts, a law enforcement source told CNN on Wednesday.
Categories: National News
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