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Monthly Archives: March 2012

‘Bully,’ another documentary out to save the world one viewer at a time

By Thelma Adams | The Reel Breakdown – 17 hours ago

Let’s all agree up-front: Nobody likes a bully, and that’s the easiest connection with the new buzzed-about documentary, “Bully,” out today in New York and Los Angeles. I wasn’t happy when Bobby Dreyfus told me I was flat-chested in the seventh grade when I was walking the halls between algebra and Spanish, and I didn’t believe adults who told me it was his way of saying he liked me. It’s still embarrassing to admit, and there wasn’t any violence attached. Oh, and Bobby, I have boobs now. Hah! Most of us have been on the receiving end of some level of bullying, and if we are still alive to talk about it when we have our own adolescent children, then we’re not like the unfortunate extreme cases, also chronicled in the movie, in which children have taken their own lives rather than get on the bus one more time.

It’s easy to identify with the individual subjects, such as Tyler who hanged himself in his bedroom closet, the awkward Alex who is so starved for friendship he tolerates daily physical abuse on a bus in Middle America and who’s being poked with pencils and called names. It’s no surprise, given his age and geekiness that he doesn’t have the emotional wherewithal to fight back, or put into words his feelings of inadequacy when (and if) he discusses the outbreaks with his parents, teachers, school officials, and police officers. The movie also follows an Oklahoma out-lesbian teen who tries to take a stand at her high school, a 14-year-old who took her mother’s gun and brandished it at her tormenters on the morning bus, and an 11-year-old farmer’s son whose bereft father becomes an antibullying activist.

[Related:Is ‘Battle Royale’ the Japanese version of ‘The Hunger Games’?]

“Bully,” the anecdotal new documentary from the Weinstein Company, has been in the news because the MPAA recently rated this teaching tool “R,” due to swearing. In response, the Weinstein Company, having received a certain amount of publicity from the ridiculous rating, is going out with the film unrated. It’s nowhere near as obscene as any random episode of “South Park.” In fact, it seems to me, and I’m not a filmmaker, that a teeny amount of bleeping could easily have changed the rating of this movie to PG, although the producers claim that sharing the hurtful words of bullying is crucial to the message.

“We wanted to depict honestly what bullying sounds like, how pervasive it is and this language — those six uses of the F word, which is why this film has an R rating — that’s part of bullying,” producer Cynthia Lowen told the Hollywood Reporter. “And so for us not to have it in a film about bullying is to participate in the myth that it’s not that bad, it’s not that pervasive, to say that kids aren’t hearing this every time they get on the bus,” she added. “But they are, so we don’t want to look the other way.”

Then why look away when it comes to the hard questions that need to be asked. We all agree — except those tormenting these victims and justifying their daily actions — that bullying is bad. The major failing of this movie, beyond a stubborn refusal to turn itself into a PG teaching tool that would be more accessible to schools across the country, is that it doesn’t delve into why kids bully, why school administration officials let themselves off the hook saying “kids will be kids” or that they will take care of the problem, and try to solve it with well-reasoned discourse and limp handshakes. Why do the responsible parties consistently fail to assume responsibility or be held accountable? Is this really that new, and that universal, that new programs — even legislation — are required to address it?

[Related: A Mom’s Eye View of ‘The Hunger Games’]

At the end, we see parents and surviving students banding together, and literally wearing wristbands, releasing balloons in honor of those who have taken their lives, and calling for people to just get along, one act of kindness and support at a time. Am I alone in thinking that’s kind of feeble? Like many recent activist documentaries, the end credits include a link to a website for a movement, in this case www.thebullyproject.com.

There are tough questions that need to be addressed: Why do schools no longer have control over children’s safety on school buses? The driver has to drive, but someone has to maintain order and ensure that kids sit in their seats and don’t prey on one another. Someone has to step up and take responsibility, when predatory behavior against other children is happening in plain sight, and not leave it to children to police themselves.

We all agree that corporal punishment has no place in schools. But what has replaced it? Why do the schools in the movie seem to have no control over the students who steal one boy’s clothes in the gym while he is in the shower (boys will be boys), call one another names, and hit other kids in the head while no one is looking? The teachers and counselors are failing to protect the kids on their watch, and we may just have to go back to a certain level of strict behavior enforcement. Or at least address that issue, or other solutions to the endemic problems of bullying on and off campus, a problem that has become even more baroque once you add sexting, texting, and cyberbullying.

It may make us feel bad, and by extension better, to watch “Bully” and click on a website, but what are the roots of the problem, and what are the viable solutions? Certainly an unrated film once deemed R-rated will have a tough time getting the school exposure that it needs. And it’s possible that, by hooking the movie on the extreme case, the rare suicide, we fail to address the more commonplace evil that lurks just around every school hallway and behind every locker. And, beyond that, hovers in the boardroom and beside the water cooler.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in News in Yahoo

 

7 Ways to Make Yourself Irreplaceable in the Office

By Wall Street | Secrets to Your Success – Wed, Mar 28, 2012 3:14 PM EDT

Provided by

BizInsider

by Vivian Giang

In order to protect yourself from the next round of layoffs, you need to convince your employers that you’re valuable and that your existence alone benefits the company.

“Today’s business environment doesn’t allow for satisfaction with the status quo. It requires constant growth and change,” writes Mark Samuel in his book Making Yourself Indispensable: The Power of Personal Accountability.

“Being indispensable means that you are adaptable, learning and growing with your organization as it changes and evolves…at the end of the day, you are either working to make yourself indispensable or working to make yourself obsolete.”

[Related: Things Never to Say to Your Boss]

Samuel provides seven tips to help you become the most valuable person to your employers:

1. Never take the shortcut. Have you known many highly-successful people to be lazy? In order to be truly  irreplaceable, you have to work hard. You can’t take shortcuts and still expect tremendous respect.

2. Be adaptable, not rigid. Samuel says that being rigid is the fastest way to losing your job. In an age where technology, workplace environment and strategy techniques are constantly changing, the most pernicious thing you can do for your career is to cling on to something from the past and refuse to change.

“The good news about rigidity is that it gives you a sense of control — it is predictable. You understand it, know it, can explain it, and can even teach it to others,” he says. “The bad news is that the sense of control is often a false one or temporary at best.”

“You can always tell when someone isn’t adaptable to change. They demonstrate their paralysis through resistance, advocating for the old way, talking about the “good ol’ days,” or undermining current change efforts through their lack of cooperation and cynicism.”

3. Being a perfectionist will be your downfall. Most people think that being a perfectionist is what they need for success, but, in actuality, it prevents it.

“Perfectionism fosters inaction — waiting until we we can guarantee success before we take action. And this negates accountability and prevents success. We wait for the perfect plan, the perfect decision, and the perfect action that won’t fail.”

4. Be of service to others without expecting anything in return. Most of us only do things for other people if we get something in return, but a truly irreplaceable employee is someone who makes decisions and solves problems for the good of their team and other departments in the organization.

The more you become “we-centered” rather than “me-centered” the more indispensable you become. Samuel quotes Stephen M. R. Covey’s book The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything:

“Trust grows when our motives are straightforward and based on mutual benefits — in other words, when we genuinely care not only for ourselves, but also for the people we interact with, lead, or serve.”

[Related: Happiest Happiest Jobs in America]

5. Be purpose-driven, not goal-driven. At work, you will have goals to achieve, but Samuel says that these goals are often “established without a clear sense of purpose.” And since most people are often too busy to go above and beyond their daily tasks, they’re not making an effort to produce actual changes. Samuel quotes Daniel H. Pink in his own book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us:

“Substantial evidence demonstrates that in addition to motivating constructive effort, goal setting can induce some unethical behavior.”

So don’t stress out about finishing every single step you’ve written down on your checklist or it’ll become a never-ending cycle.

6. Be assertive. Life is a game, so play big or go home. Take charge, stand apart and don’t be afraid to speak up during meetings for fear of sounding unintelligent or being wrong.

7. Forgive others quickly. “The measure of accountability is based more on how you handle mistakes, mishaps, and breakdowns than on getting everything right all the time,” Samuel says. “It’s about how fast you can pick yourself up when you fall; how quickly you correct a mistake that you made; that little or no harm comes to your customer, family member, or friend.”

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in News in Yahoo, Study and Read

 

5 Reasons You Don’t Really Want to Win all that Lottery Money

CreditCards.comBy Gina Roberts-Grey | CreditCards.com – Thu, Mar 29, 2012 3:00 PM EDT

 

Do you find yourself dreaming of the day your lucky lottery numbers are called? Or fantasizing about what numbers lurk under the silver bar of that scratch-off ticket you impulse-bought while gassing up?

The lure of “Mega Millions,” “Powerball” and other lottery jackpots has millions in search of, well, millions. And while it’s fun to daydream about what having more money than you can count would be like, winning the lottery might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

[Related: World record $540 million lottery drawing]

A windfall of widely publicized winnings that finally allows you the luxury of affording a trip around the world, a fancy car or flat-screen TVs for every room in your house just might ruin your life.

Here’s a look at the ugliness landing all that loot can bring to your life. And a reminder that being mega rich isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

1. Your friends will take advantage

Once word gets out that you had the winning ticket, you can expect everyone to try to cozy up to you, from the college roommate you haven’t heard from in 20 years and the kid who tortured you on the kindergarten playground, to fellow carpool parents and “friends” you barely recognize. It’s common for lottery winners to see a flood of online and in-person friend requests that range from wanting to share a meal to suggesting a weekend getaway to relax or catch up. Of course, these “buddies” all hope that you’ll ultimately pick up the tab for their good time.

After she was one of a pool of 12 people who won the Missouri Powerball in 2006 and split $224 million, Sandra Hayes had to rethink her social network. “It became necessary to be careful about who I make friends with because some people can be cruel and have alternative motives for befriending you. Some feel that just because you have money, you owe them money,” she says.

“When I would hang out with friends and we would stop to get something to eat, they would order their food and then announce they did not have the money to pay, which happened a few times,” says Hayes. She quickly figured out her friends’ plan and stopped going to eat with them. “I eventually stopped hanging out with them altogether.”

Lottery winners get pleas from pals and hopeful BFFs in need of a personal bailout, too.

Hayes says one of her friends even expected her to rescue their family from their serious financial woes. “I did not rescue them thanks to the advice of my financial adviser, who told me if I bailed them out they would continue to sponge off me. If I did not draw the line, I would go broke,” she says.

[Related: 7 Things You Could Do If You Winthe Mega Millions Jackpot]

2. Your relationship could fail

Money woes can put a strain on a relationship . But those who come into big windfalls find coming into a lot of money all at once can also overtax a relationship.

Alexey Bulankov, a certified financial planner who’s worked with a family who won a lottery jackpot saw this devastation firsthand. “Following a string of unfortunate financial decisions, the family fell apart,” he says. Bulankov says the husband, who was emotionally unprepared for the enormous responsibility and pressure of winning the lottery, took to gambling and womanizing to deal with the troubles adjusting to his new lifestyle. When his wife found out, she retaliated with vindictive shopping.

Eventually, they talked and sorted it out, says Bulankov. “Needless to say, the level of trust was not the same and the fighting and blame-placing for the squandering of their fortune became routine occurrence in this once tightly knit family,” says Bulankov.

3. You’ll have an increased risk of bankruptcy

Given the fact that you’d have enough dough to clear up your debt, bankruptcy seems a long shot after winning the lottery. But experts say lottery winners actually are at greater risk of bankruptcy.

“Winners suddenly have significantly more credit available to them than they ever had. That makes them more likely to make purchases on credit, rather than use cash,” says Scott Dillon, a senior bankruptcy attorney at Tully Rinckey in Albany, N.Y. “Winners are much more likely to make significant impulse purchases far beyond their previous means. So the purchase amounts will be much higher, making the interest accrued on those credit cards much higher. And because they don’t stop to think the money could run out, winners don’t generally think they need to create or live by a monthly budget.

“While it may be counterintuitive, a large influx of wealth without proper planning can easily cause people to forget the need to save for the future,” adds Dan White, founder and president of Daniel A. White & Associates, a financial planning firm in Glens Mills, Pa., that specializes in asset protection and transitional and retirement planning.

4. You’ll have to fight off a host of long-lost family members

Jeff Motske, a financial planner and president of Trilogy Financial Services, headquartered in Huntington Beach, Calif., says lottery winners often become targets for long-lost relatives who knock on the door with one hand and hold the other palm up. Somehow they think when one family member wins the lotto, the whole family wins the lotto. “A family member who wins the lottery will appear as a better option than a bank for fast cash that comes with the price tag of little to no interest paid and no application process,” says Motske.

So many winners find themselves fielding pleas for help with a pile of credit card or medical debt, foreclosure or car repairs.

“The majority of my family members treated me the same as they did before I won the lottery, however, there were those family members who suffered the entitlement syndrome,” says Hayes. “A few of my family members with whom I did not have a previous relationship with before winning the lottery came out of the woodwork and started calling me to butter me up just for money.”

[Related: Charitable Donations: What You Need to Know]

Hayes says she faced her share of bad experiences, including family members borrowing money that they felt they didn’t have to pay back. “Some family members I gave a monetary gift for a special occasion thought I should have given more,” says Hayes.

5. You’ll be a target for a litany of lawsuits and scams

Hoping to carve out a chunk of your fortune, Motske says lottery winners are often targets for bogus lawsuits because everyone starts to come after them. “If the winnings are public knowledge, winners can bet their phone will never stop ringing. Winners hear from investors, reputable firms and scammers, and every planner/schemer under the sun,” he says.

They also need to be wary of people who purposely “slip and fall” on their property, including claims of winners rear-ending them and so on. That includes contractors, babysitters, friends and family who visit you, borrow your car, etc.

Hayes says she endured some less-than-honest business deals. “Some people I dealt with were honest, but others were not. I experienced contractors changing their work bids to a higher price after they found out I won the lottery,” she says. “Now I will only work with people who have been referred from trusted associates, friends or family.”

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in News in Yahoo, Study and Read

 

Most Memorable Movie Swimsuits

  1. most memorable movie swimsuits titlecardSpring break is here. It’s time to slip into that teeny-weenie yellow polka-dotted bikini and hit the sand and waves. In honor of that, we’ve put together this groovy gallery of some of the most memorable movie swimsuits. Get the sun block and check it out.
  2. Brooklyn Decker, Just Go With It
    Brooklyn Decker
     “Just Go With It” (2011)
  3. Kristen Bell, Forgetting Sarah MarshallKristen Bell
    “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (2008)
    Jessica Alba, Into the BlueJessica Alba
  4. “Into the Blue” (2005)
    Angelina Jolie, Tomb RaiderAngelina Jolie
  5. “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” (2003)
    Demi Moore, Charlie's AngelsDemi Moore
  6. “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” (2003)
    Kate Bosworth, Blue CrushKate Bosworth
  7. “Blue Crush” (2002)
    Halle Berry, Die Another DayHalle Berry
  8. “Die Another Day” (2002)
    From Dusk Till DawnSalma Hayek
  9. “From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996)
    Carrie Fisher, Return of the JediCarrie Fisher
  10. “Return of the Jedi” (1983)
    Pheobe Cates, Fast Times at Ridgemont HighPhoebe Cates
  11. “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982)
    Bo Derek, 10Bo Derek
  12. “10” (1979)
    Pam Grier, CoffyPam Grier
  13. “Coffy” (1973)
    Ursulla Andress, Dr. NoUrsula Andress
  14. “Dr. No” (1962)
    Elizabeth Taylor, Suddenly Last SummerElizabeth Taylor
  15. “Suddenly, Last Summer” (1959)
    Raquel Welch, One million YearsRaquel Welch
  16. “One Million Years B.C.” (1966)Deborah Kerr, From Here to EternityDeborah Kerr
    “From Here to Eternity” (1953)Bridgit Bardot, The Girl in the Bikini
  17. Brigitte Bardot
    “The Girl in the Bikini” (1952)
 
 

Obama sets stage for tough new sanctions targeting Iran’s oil

By Olivier Knox | The Ticket – 6 hrs ago


Click image to see more photos. (Susan Walsh/AP)

President Barack Obama moved Friday to tighten the economic vise on Iran over its suspect nuclear program, taking a big step toward tough new sanctions aimed at crippling the Islamic republic’s ability to export oil.

Obama announced in an official memorandum that he had determined that there is enough oil on world markets to go ahead with measures designed to push countries that buy Iranian crude—including key U.S. allies like Japan, South Korea and India—to get their petroleum elsewhere.

“There is a sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial institutions,” the president said in a message to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

“I will closely monitor this situation to assure that the market can continue to accommodate a reduction in purchases of petroleum and petroleum products from Iran,” Obama said.

Under a law he signed in December, the president had until Friday to make a determination about whether countries that import Iranian oil could “significantly” reduce their purchases without sowing chaos in world markets.

[Related: Oil ends quarter up 14 percent on Iran, supply problems]

The law permits Obama after June 28 to effectively cut off banks still doing business with Iran from the U.S. financial system. He could also decide to exempt institutions in countries that he formally designates as having made sufficient progress on cutting imports of Iranian oil.Washington and its allies say they suspect Tehran wants to develop the ability to build a nuclear weapon. The Islamic republic, which relies on oil exports as its major source of income, denies the allegation. The president has repeatedly said that there is still time for a diplomatic end to the tense standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, even as Israel has reportedly taken steps toward preparing for a military strike.

Obama’s Friday decision could send already soaring gasoline prices—a political liability for him heading toward the November elections—still higher, though media reports suggest that the administration has been working with key allies like Britain and France to release emergency oil reserves to offset any major disruption in supply.

More popular Yahoo! News stories:

• Gingrich cuts staff for lean march to convention
• Nancy Pelosi applauds Bobby Rush’s ‘courage’ for wearing a hoodie on House floor
• Obama goads Congress to end tax breaks for large oil companies

Want more of our best political stories? Visit The Ticket or connect with us on Facebook, follow uson Twitter, or add us on Tumblr. Handy with a camera? Join our Election 2012 Flickr group to submit your photos of the campaign in action.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in News in Yahoo

 

7 Foods that Burn Fat

By Cosmopolitan.com | Healthy Living – Thu, Mar 22, 2012 5:46 PM EDT

These foods will help you burn fat.These foods will help you burn fat.With rising temps come rising hemlines, bare shoulders… and eventually, bikini season. Add these metabolism-boosting foods and drinks to your shopping list, and you’ll score a leaner and sexier bod.

By Carolyn Kylstra

Chicken Breast
Meet the ultimate wonder food. Chicken is packed with protein, which is essential for maintaining muscle mass-and the more muscle mass you have, the more efficient you are at burning calories. Even better, protein takes more time to digest than carbohydrates, so you’ll feel full longer than if you ate the same number of calories in a carb-or fat-heavy meal. An ideal serving: the size of a computer mouse or a deck of cards.

Greek Yogurt
Calcium consumed in tandem with an amino acid found in dairy products has been shown to burn fat. Consider it a fab excuse to add more yogurt, milk, and cheese to your meal plans. What makes Greek yogurt a standout dairy option is that it has more protein that the regular kind-so you boost the fat-burning benefits.

Related: 6 Ways To Get Him in Shape and Improve Your Sex Life

Green Tea
Research suggests that consuming two to four cups of fresh brewed green tea daily can help you burn about an extra 50 calories a day. It’s teeming with catechins, nutrients linked to increased metabolism and a smaller waistline.

Eggs
Scramble up two eggs for breakfast tomorrow-it’s a fat-melting morning meal. Part of the reason is that eggs are loaded with protein (which will keep you feeling full for longer), but also, eating in the a.m. means you end up taking in fewer calories during the day, research shows.

Related: 13 Foods That Can Make Your Fat

Cold Water
You’ve probably heard the tip to drink water when you’re hungry, in case the pangs you’re feeling are actually thirst. Well, here’s another reason to down the H2O: When you drink ice water, your body actually expends energy, warming the water up to your natural temperature.

Chili Pepper
Capsaicin, the ingredient that gives chili peppers their fiery kick, can also fire up your fat-burning furnace. Order more hot curries and other spicy dishes when you eat out, or just add a tablespoon of chopped chilis to your pizza or soup at home.

Related: Kinky Light Sex Moves You Need to Try

Pistachios
These nuts contain the right balance of healthy fat, protein, and fiber, and together they rev your metabolism and keep you feeling satisfied. About 50 pistachios equals one serving, so pop some in a bag and munch when you’re feeling snacky.

Sources: Lisa Drayer, MA, RD, nutritionist and author of Strong, Slim, and Thirty: Eat Right, Stay Young, Feel Great, and Look Fabulous! Stephanie Middleberg, RD, nutritionist and founder of Middleberg Nutrition

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2012 in News in Yahoo

 

10 Unique Neighborhood Coffee Shops

By CNBC | Shine Food – Wed, Mar 21, 2012 4:12 PM EDT

By Morgan Tornetta, CNBC.com

Unique Coffee Shops

Whether dark roast, light roast, with milk or black, no matter how you take your morning cup, you are part of a worldwide community of java drinkers that have made coffee one of the world’s top-traded agricultural commodities.

For as many coffee drinkers as there are in the country, it seems there are just as many coffee shops, from international chains to the coffee house on the corner. To honor the best neighborhood shops in the country, coffee appliance maker Krups created its Best Brew Awards in 2011. Facebook users nominated and voted on cafes in major metropolitan areas to choose the winners.

“Krups is about coffee and beverages, and we want to support the industry and support the local coffee shops that are doing such a great job within the industry,” Michele Lupton, Krups’ director of marketing communication, told CNBC.com.

This year, voters chose 10 shops to receive the Best Brew Award. Check out the winners.

See the full slideshow: 10 Unique Neighborhood Coffee Shops

Metropolis Coffee Co.Metropolis Coffee Co.Metropolis Coffee Co.
Location: Chicago
Best-seller: Redline Espresso Blend

For eight years, Metropolis Coffee Co., which is both a roasting company and a café, has served its own roasts and blends in its shop, and in other coffee houses in the Chicago area. Manager Tony Dreyfuss says that the diverse neighborhood Metropolis serves is part of the appeal of running the café. “People sit down together, they actually talk,” he says.
When the economy turned sour, Metropolis had to start raising prices, but customers remained loyal. Dreyfuss said that being open about its financial situation made customers willing to dig a little deeper to pay for their morning jolt.

Dreyfuss especially likes to talk to customers about where Metropolis’ beans are sourced and how farmers are compensated for their work. It’s all part of an effort, he says, “to give customers more information about where their coffee is coming from.”

Four Barrel CaféFour Barrel CaféFour Barrel Café
Location: San Francisco
Best-seller: Rotating single-origin coffee

Four Barrel Café owner Jeremy Tooker travels around the world to find the best beans for his brews. With more than 14 years in the coffee industry, his expertise is the backbone of Four Barrel Café.

While Four Barrel is located in the ultra-hip Mission District of San Francisco, Tooker considers himself more “hippie” than “hipster.” The café offers no wireless Internet access or outlets for computers, encouraging interaction between customers and staff.

Four Barrel has plans to open another store in the Panhandle/Alamo Square area, as well as continuing to fine-tune its customer service. “But really,” Tooker says, “I can only hope to maintain the level of success that we’ve already achieved.”

White Rock CoffeeWhite Rock CoffeeWhite Rock Coffee
Location: Dallas
Best-seller: Lady of the Lake, a dark roast named for a local legend.

Husband-and-wife owners Nancy and Bob Baker have a seriously hands-on approach to their coffee: They recently returned from a trip to Costa Rica, where they hand-picked coffee cherries.

White Rock Coffee specializes in fair trade organic coffee, roasted in small batches at its roasting facility and then sold at two cafés in the Dallas area.

The Bakers are trying to find as many avenues of direct trade with coffee farmers as they can to source the beans for their coffee. Their sustainable model extends to their decaffeination process, which uses a natural water-only method, as opposed to using methylchloride.

White Rock Coffee is an integral part of the local social scene, hosting musicians five nights a week. Its relationship with the community is one of the things Nancy Baker likes best about the café. “Even though we’re in the coffee business, it’s all about people, all up and down the chain, from the migrant workers who pick the beans to the baristas to the customers,” she says.

Condesa CoffeeCondesa CoffeeCondesa Coffee
Location: Atlanta
Best-sellers: Espresso-based drinks and locally brewed Chai

Condesa Coffee is located in Atlanta’s rapidly gentrifying Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. It’s off of the main drag, however, and owner Daniela Staiculescu says customers have to work to find it – so she knows she has a loyal customer base.

The shop opened in 2010, and Staiculescu, together with partners Amin Rida and Octavian Stan, took over last year. It serves coffee from Counter Culture Coffee, a company that values sustainability and direct trade with coffee farmers.

Tinta y CaféTinta y CaféTinta y Café
Location: Miami
Best-seller: Sandwiches

Don’t bring your laptop to Tinta y Café – owner Neli Santamarina doesn’t offer WiFi. She prefers that you come to talk.
“My vision is to encourage interaction,” Santamarina says. Indeed, many of her customers have forged friendships with each other.

Miami’s Tinta y Café straddles two up-and-coming neighborhoods: Little Havana and Brickell Village, and the shop’s Cuban eats and coffee attract customers from both.

The menu is filled with traditional Cuban food: empanadas, croquetas, and pastelitos. Its croquetas, which come in a variety of flavors, have even been named the best in the city. Sandwiches are made with fresh ingredients: The bread is baked on the premises, and ham is sliced several times a day.
The café, which has been open for several years, experienced growing pains in the beginning, which makes her current success all the more sweet. Says Santamarina: “We’re very proud of the accomplishments we have made in the last five years.”

Café DulcéCafé DulcéCafé Dulcé
Location: Los Angeles
Best-sellers: Sweetened latte and green tea donuts

L.A.’s Café Dulcé is less than a year old, and already gaining the attention of the city’s coffee fans. Owner James Choi says this first year has been a lot of hard work, but the long hours have been worth it.

His goal is to create an atmosphere like on the TV show “Cheers” – where everybody knows your name. “The first thing we tell people when we hire is ‘Learn who you’re serving,’ ” says Choi.

Café Dulcé serves up organic Lamill coffee, brewed by the cup. It is also known for its menu of unusual pastries, such as donuts flavored with bacon and green tea.

Choi says the single-cup drip coffees and unique menu offerings are nothing, however, without a great staff to serve them. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the team, the people who really care about the products we’re serving,” he says.

Next up for Choi: A pop-up Café Dulcé, sometime in the coming year.

Ninth Street EspressoNinth Street EspressoNinth Street Espresso
Location: New York City
Best-seller: 6 oz. cappuccino

“Espresso is the true expression of what you do” as a coffee shop, says Ninth Street Espresso shop owner Kenneth Nye. You’ll find no flavored syrups, fancy sweeteners, or complicated brews at any of Ninth Street’s three locations.

The no-frills menu contains only espresso, espresso with milk, and brewed coffee. This menu is an expression of Nye’s emphasis on genuineness, particularly in the quality of the coffee.

“If you’re not real and you’re not genuine, you’re not going to last long,” he says.

Elixr CoffeeElixr CoffeeElixr Coffee
Location: Philadelphia
Best-seller: 16 oz. drip coffee

Located in Center City, Philadelphia, Elixr Coffee draws a mix of businessmen and students from nearby universities, including Temple, Penn, and Drexel, looking for a caffeine fix at all hours of the day.

Elixr recently located to a new, larger building less than a block away from the original shop. While the larger storefront helps them handle more customers, the focus is still on quality, says owner April Nett.

The café specializes in Chemex hand-pour coffee, which Nett calls the most basic type of brewed coffee. Beans and water are weighed, the beans are ground, and both are run through a filter into a beaker. Baristas tinker with the grind of the coffee to create that perfect cup for customers.

Thinking CupThinking CupThinking Cup
Location: Boston
Best-seller: Espresso beverages

Since opening its doors in December 2010, Thinking Cup has gained accolades from a number of outlets. Besides being one of Krups’ top 10 coffee shops, it has also been named to Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston 2011, boston.com’s 2011 A List, and Stuff Magazine’s Hot 100.

The café serves Stumptown Coffee, roasted in Brooklyn, N.Y. Thinking Cup owner Hugh Geiger says that he likes being able to “provide a place for people to come together to relax and socialize with friends and family,” and says great service is the key to success. “We have very dedicated employees passionate about providing a great service,” he says.

M.E. Swing's Coffee HouseM.E. Swing’s Coffee HouseM.E. Swing’s Coffee House
Location: Washington, D.C.
Best-sellers: Drip coffee (morning); latte (afternoon)

No one could accuse M.E. Swing’s Coffee House of jumping on the java bandwagon. Founded in 1916 as a roasting company, the coffee house has a long history in Washington, D.C.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in News in Yahoo

 

‘Idol’ Top 9 Results: Heejun’s Last Laugh

By Lyndsey Parker | Reality Rocks – 4 hours ago

Heejun Han sings one last timeIf there was ever an “American Idol” week when the Judges’ Save seemed likely to be used, this week seemed like the one, since Wednesday’s top nine show was the best episode of Season 11–and possibly one of the best in “Idol” history. Really, anyone had a good chance of being saved–except Heejun Han, who, despite redeeming himself with his finest (and most serious) performance of the season this week, was still arguably the weakest vocalist left in the very competitive top nine. And thus, when Heejun ended up being the contestant with the least votes on this Thursday’s results show, the Save was not used, and he became the fourth finalist to go home this season.

 

Heejun belted his lungs out when it came time to sing for the Judges’ Save, reprising this week’s “A Song For You” by Donny Hathaway and performing it with perhaps even more heart and soul this time around. But it seemed like payback time: Steven Tyler, who, despite being the panel’s wackiest judge, had expressed uncharacteristically stern-faced dissatisfaction with Heejun’s hokey, jokey “My Life” performance last week, told Heejun the news of his dismissal with all the coldness of the Fox Network’s Dr. House delivering a damning diagnosis.

J.Lo cries for Heejun”You knew this was coming,” Steven told Heejun, straight up. “Unfortunately, we’re gonna have to let you go, man.” Jennifer Lopez, however, seemed more sympathetic; she’d even gotten genuinely misty-eyed during what turned out to be Heejun’s farewell song, and at one moment it looked like she’d been arguing, obviously unsuccessfully, with Randy Jackson and Steven over whether to use the Judges’ Save on Heejun.

Phillip loses his BFFThe always affable Heejun took the news of his elimination very well, but up in the rafters, the other eight contestants looked positively devastated–especially his BFF, Phillip Phillips, who also had tears in his eyes. But I’m sure Heejun and Phillip will have tons of madcap adventures when they reunite and continue their bromance on the Idols Live Tour this summer.

I will miss Heejun’s comedy, and honestly, the show is going to be a lot less interesting without him. But let’s face it, someone had to go, and it was probably his time. However, he will be dearly missed.

This week’s bottom threeRounding out this week’s bottom three were Hollie Cavanagh, who’d received mixed reviews from the judges on Wednesday, and, more surprisingly, Skylar Laine, whom Randy had actually compared to Carrie Underwood after her guns-blazing “Gunpowder & Lead” performance. Heejun, a boy, may have been the one to go home this week, but considering the talent that was on the chopping block alongside him this Thursday, Season 11 still may not be a “girls’ season” after all.

 
 

Global Warming Presents Historic Disaster Risk, Report Says

APBy Seth Borenstein | AP – Wed, Mar 28, 2012 11:39 PM EDT

Mumbai is among the densely populated cities that scientists say is at great risk. (Photo: Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Global warming is leading to such severe storms, droughts, and heat waves that nations should prepare for an unprecedented onslaught of deadly and costly weather disasters, an international panel of climate scientists said in a new report issued Wednesday.

The greatest threat from extreme weather is to highly populated, poor regions of the world, the report warns, but no corner of the globe — from Mumbai to Miami — is immune. The document by a Nobel Prize-winning panel of climate scientists forecasts stronger tropical cyclones and more frequent heat waves, deluges, and droughts.

The 594-page report blames the scale of recent and future disasters on a combination of man-made climate change, population shifts, and poverty.

In the past, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, founded in 1988 by the United Nations, has focused on the slow, inexorable rise of temperatures and oceans as part of global warming. This report by the panel is the first to look at the less common but far more noticeable extreme weather changes, which have been costing about $80 billion a year in damage.

“We mostly experience weather and climate through the extreme,” said one of the report’s top editors, Chris Field, an ecologist with the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “That’s where we have the losses. That’s where we have the insurance payments. That’s where things have the potential to fall apart.

“There are lots of places that are already marginal for one reason or another,” Field said. But it’s not just poor areas: “There is disaster risk almost everywhere.”

The report specifically points to New Orleans during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, noting that “developed countries also suffer severe disasters because of social vulnerability and inadequate disaster protection.”

In coastal areas of the United States, property damage from hurricanes and rising seas could increase by 20 percent by 2030, the report said. And in parts of Texas, the area vulnerable to storm surge could more than double by 2080.

Already, U.S.-insured losses from weather disasters have soared from about $3 billion a year in the 1980s to about $20 billion a year in the last decade, even after adjusting for inflation, said Mark Way, director of sustainability at insurance giant Swiss Re. Last year that total rose to $35 billion, but much of that was from tornadoes, which scientists are unable to connect with global warming. U.S.-insured losses are just a fraction of the overall damage from weather disasters each year.

Globally, the scientists say that some places, particularly parts of Mumbai in India, could become uninhabitable from floods, storms, and rising seas. In 2005, over 24 hours nearly 3 feet of rain fell on the city, killing more than 1,000 people and causing massive damage. Roughly 2.7 million people live in areas at risk of flooding.

Other cities at lesser risk include Miami, ShanghaiBangkok, China’s Guangzhou, Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, Myanmar’s Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon), and India’s Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta). The people of small island nations, such as the Maldives, may also need to abandon their homes because of rising seas and fierce storms.

“The decision about whether or not to move is achingly difficult and I think it’s one that the world community will have to face with increasing frequency in the future,” Field said in a telephone news conference Wednesday.

This report — the summary of which was issued in November — is unique because it emphasizes managing risks and how taking precautions can work, Field said. In fact, the panel’s report uses the word “risk” 4,387 times.

Field pointed to storm-and-flood-prone Bangladesh, an impoverished country that has learned from its past disasters. In 1970, a Category 3 tropical cyclone named Bhola killed more than 300,000 people. In 2007, the stronger cyclone Sidr killed only 4,200 people. Despite the loss of life, Bangladesh is considered a success story because it was better prepared and invested in warning and disaster prevention, Field said.

A country that was not as prepared, Myanmar, was hit with a similar sized storm in 2008, which killed 138,000 people.

The study forecasts that some tropical cyclones — which include hurricanes in the United States — will be stronger because of global warming. But the number of storms is not predicted to increase and may drop slightly.

Some other specific changes in severe weather that the scientists said they had the most confidence in predicting include more heat waves and record hot temperatures worldwide and increased downpours in AlaskaCanada, northern and central Europe, East Africa and north Asia.

IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri told The Associated Press that while all countries are hurt by increased climate extremes, the overwhelming majority of deaths occur in poorer, less developed places. Yet, it is wealthy nations that produce more greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, raising the issue of fairness.

Some weather extremes aren’t deadly, however. Sometimes, they are just strange.
Report co-author David Easterling of the National Climatic Data Center says this month’s U.S. heat wave, while not deadly, fits the pattern of worsening extremes. The U.S. has set nearly 6,800 high temperature records in March. Last year, the United States set a record for billion-dollar weather disasters, though many were tornadoes.

“When you start putting all these events together, the insurance claims, it’s just amazing,” Easterling said. “It’s pretty hard to deny the fact that there’s got to be some climate signal.”

Northeastern University engineering and environment professor Auroop Ganguly, who didn’t take part in writing the IPCC report, praised it and said the extreme weather it highlights “is one of the major and important types of what we would call ‘global weirding.'” It’s a phrase that some experts have been starting to use more to describe climate extremes.

Field doesn’t consider the term inaccurate, but he doesn’t use it.

“It feels to me like it might give the impression we are talking about amusing little stuff when we are, in fact, talking about events and trends with the potential to have serious impacts on large numbers of people.”

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in News in Yahoo

 

Best starter homes in America

By Rob Bear, Curbed
March 28, 2012
Provided by:

 

This South Boston starter home’s balcony view of Dorchester Bay holds lots of promise.
Photo: Curbed

 

More from Curbed

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Let’s check out some of the best starter homes around the country, taking into consideration relatively affordable properties in neighborhoods appropriate for young families.

These picks come from some of the country’s most populous urban areas—so don’t expect much space to spread out—but all benefit from the cultural bounties at their doorstep. In some cases the perennial love for luxury won out; in others, get ready for a renovation!
South Boston
Listing: $579,900

 

The top condo unit with terrific views is selling for $580,000.
Photo: Curbed

 

South Boston used to be famous as the headquarters for Whitey Bulger and the rest of the Irish mob. Today, it’s a thriving and thoroughly gentrified district where first time buyers just might find a deal in the otherwise pricey Boston real estate market.

This third-floor penthouse, with two bedrooms and one bath, is one of the most luxurious units on the market in “Southie” and it still comes in at $580K. Panoramic views of Dorchester Bay and the islands can be enjoyed from the private roof deck, a covered porch, and the unit’s numerous windows. Additional luxuries include built-in speakers, central air conditioning, a jacuzzi tub, and an updated kitchen with stainless appliances. Short on space at 1,165 square feet, this well-kept condo makes up for it with the finishes and the view.
Highland Park, Los Angeles
Listing: $380,000

 

This bungalow-style starter home in LA’s Highland Park is listed at $380,000.
Photo: Curbed

 

Down in sunny Los Angeles, home to famously expensive areas like Beverly Hills, finding an affordable first home requires venturing off the beaten (or televised) path. The gentrifying neighborhood of Highland Park, in the northeastern section of the city, has experienced a wave of renovations lately, most in an accessible price range. Listed for $380K, this revamped bungalow might be small, with just two beds and a single bathroom in 843 square feet, but it certainly beckons with outdoor space ripe for entertaining and a garage that could be converted into extra interior space. For those that find this too small, a third bedroom in this neighborhood runs roughly $75K more.
Carroll Gardens, New York City
Listing: $775,000

 

There’s an open feeling to this $775,000 loft penthouse in Carroll Gardens, NYC.
Photo: Curbed

 

Shopping for a home in famously expensive NYC on a first time buyer’s budget is no mean feat, but it’s certainly possible to find something other than a shoebox if buyers look outside of Manhattan. The Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens have all emerged as cheaper alternatives. That’s not to say cheap, as a roster of excellent restaurants, bars, and retail keep these neighborhoods pricey. In the southern section of Carroll Gardens, close to Red Hook and, unfortunately, the elevated expressway, this two-bedroom loft penthouse offers the feel of Tribeca for $775K. Highlights include the high ceilings, expansive private roof deck, open kitchen with marble counters, and a coveted in-unit washer/dryer.
Nob Hill, San Francisco
Listing: $599,000

 

This 2-bedroom condo is SF’s tony Nob Hill sells for $599,000.
Photo: Curbed

 

Make it to San Francisco and you’ll find real estate prices that rival New York for big price and small space. Still, the City by the Bay has some deals, even in the traditionally upper class neighborhood of Nob Hill—sometimes derisively referred to as “Snob Hill.” While this two-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot condo can’t rival the billionaires’ abodes up on Broadway, the unit is well finished and sits in a charming, nine-unit Spanish-style building that was completed in 1913. Built-ins and bay windows abound, and while the listing photo of a wood paneled room illuminated by a bare bulb gives us pause, the rest of the place is immaculately presented considering the $599K price tag.
Hyde Park, Chicago
Listing: $229,000

 

This Hyde Park, Chicago home may need TLC but it’s only $229,000.
Photo: Curbed

 

Compared to the expensive Northeast, there are considerable deals to be found in some of Chicago’s lesser-known neighborhoods. Considered an isolated pocket of prosperity on the city’s otherwise depressed South Side, Hyde Park is sandwiched between the lake, Washington Park, and the campus of the University of Chicago. The students give the area a youthy vibe and provide a source of potential rental income should the buyers’ circumstances change. This six-bedroom townhouse, built in 1895, is rife with historical detail, but gravely in need of some TLC. A buyer willing to rehab the place could get quite the deal considering the interior houses six bedrooms and the place is asking just $229K. Perhaps first time buyers would do well to steer clear of such a daunting challenge, but, then again, they just don’t make inlaid floors like that anymore.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in News in Yahoo