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Archive Monthly Archives: January 2018

Bill to limit office expenses of ex-presidents sent to Obama | Fox News

Congress voted Friday to put limits on the expense accounts ex-presidents get from American taxpayers.

The bill, which cleared the House by voice vote, is heading to President Barack Obama’s desk. The legislation sets an annual allowance of $200,000 a year for travel, staff and office costs that have become a standard part of life after the Oval Office.

For former presidents who make money through books, speaking fees and other ventures, the allowance is reduced for every dollar in outside income in excess of $400,000.

Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, like other former presidents before them, have earned millions in speaking fees since leaving office.

The legislation sets presidential pensions at $200,000 a year, nearly the same as the current amount. Each surviving spouse would be allotted a $100,000 annual survivor benefit.

The legislation was sponsored by the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, and the panel’s senior Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. The Senate passed the bill last month.

“Upon leaving office, most presidents go on to make millions of dollars and are not in need of taxpayer subsidies,” Chaffetz and Cummings said in a joint statement.

The oversight committee approved the bill in May 2015, just days after Hillary Clinton reported that she and her husband had earned more than $30 million combined in speaking fees and book royalties since January 2014. The earnings put the couple in the top one-tenth of 1 percent of all Americans.

In 2014, U.S. taxpayers paid a total of $3.5 million in pensions and benefits to the four living former presidents, including $1.3 million for Bush and $950,000 for Bill Clinton, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. Most of that money was for sprawling office space in Dallas and New York, respectively.

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Meet the young Mancunians making a living from their Instagram account – Manchester Evening News

Manchester Evening News

Meet the young Mancunians making a living from their Instagram account
Manchester Evening News
She was always my plus one when I went to a blogging event. "But I think they don't get how I make an income from it, so I do and try and explain. They don't really understand how people are full time bloggers. I think some people don't get how much

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We're Live Blogging the 2018 Grammy Awards! – Splinter (blog)

Splinter (blog)

We're Live Blogging the 2018 Grammy Awards!
Splinter (blog)
It's music's big night out! You might not recognize me, so allow me to introduce myself: I'm Maria Sherman, the managing editor of a new music site set to launch at GMG soon. Our team is hanging out with our friends at Splinter tonight to live blog the

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Tech Q&A: Squeezing life out of an old iPhone, protecting kids online | Fox News


Squeeze more life out of an old phone

Q. My iPhone 5 is starting to run slowly, but Im not ready to upgrade. What can I do?

If you hold down the Sleep/Wake button until you get the Slide to Power Off message and then hold down the Home button for five seconds or so, it brings back the home screen. This will refresh your phones homepage and reload your apps so they run better. Click here for six more iPhone tricks you should start using.

Protecting your kids online

Q. Im worried about what my kids are doing online. I dont want to spy, but I want to know theyre safe. What can I do?

A.  One of the easiest things you can do is change the browser your kids are using when they surf the web. I recommend trying Yippy, which is a browser thats specifically designed to block adult content. Plus, Yippy doesnt collect personal information that could be compromised by hackers, so your kids also have privacy. Click here to learn more about Yippy and other browsers that dont track you. Speaking of kids, I recently did a free podcast about how much screen time is too much screen time. You can listen to it here on my site.

Troubleshooting computer problems

Q. Whenever my computer acts up, my IT guy tells me to reboot before hell even look at it. Why is that?

A. It may sound too simple to be true, but the reality is that rebooting can really fix the issues youre experiencing. This is because many computer issues are temporary glitches that are resolved when your computer restarts. Of course, rebooting wont fix everything. If you have an issue with your hardware or have a virus, count on additional troubleshooting. Next time, before you call your IT guy, check out these tips for troubleshooting common computer problems.

More ways to make money at home

Q. I heard you talk about Uber on your radio show as a way to earn extra money. Are there other ways, too?

A. To make money at home, be honest about what youre good at. If youre artistic, you can sell handmade items on Etsy, or even Handmade at Amazon. If you like taking photos, you can sell your photography on sites like Imagekind or FineArtsAmerica. There are also sites like Fivrr where you can pick up little jobs that people need, like writing social media posts or business data entry. Click here for more ideas on how to do what you love to make more money.

Keeping track of all your bills

Q. My son just moved out of the house, and Im trying to teach him about managing money. I dont want him to ruin his credit. Help!

A. Parents want to look out for their kids in every way possible, but as kids grow up, we cant always be there to hold their hands. Luckily, when it comes to learning to be responsible with money, theres an app called Prism that can help your kids out. It lets you store the details of all of your bills and their due dates in one place, and it even sends reminders so your payments wont be late. Click here to learn more about this amazing app.

Bonus: Finding deals online

Q: There are so many places to shop these days. How can I tell Im getting a good deal?

A: Finding great deals is actually easier than ever if youre using technology to your advantage. Set Google Alerts for your favorite brands and include keywords like sale, discount, closeout, etc. If you set an alert, Google will email you when it finds something online that matches your search term. You can also compare prices from other retailers at the click of a button. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to compare prices across the web.

Copyright 2016, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

On the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at

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Stellar Emerges From Shadow of Bitcoin to Find a Home Overseas

LeEco is like the Netflix of China—except it also sells phones, televisions, and cars. Now, it’s moving into the US after acquiring the stateside television maker Vizio. Unlike some Chinese tech giants that seem happy to focus on a domestic market approaching 1.4 billion, LeEco has international ambitions. And to make those ambitions a reality, it’s embracing a bitcoin-like creation that can quickly and inexpensively move any country’s currency across borders and around the world.

This technology is called Stellar, an open source payments protocol that grew out of the bitcoin movement and is backed by marquee San Francisco startup Stripe. LeEco runs a dedicated online payments and banking company called LeFinance, and this subsidiary is now building services that will use Stellar to move money to and from businesses and customers abroad. Like bitcoin, Stellar provides a vast online ledger, or blockchain, designed to oversee the movement of money (and anything else of value) from one machine to another without the need for any kind of central authority or government to validate the transactions.

“We’re aiming to reduce the cost of capital, improve the efficiency of our operations,” says Linhui Gao, senior operations Director at LeFinance and the founder of LeFinance Blockchain Lab, through an interpreter. “We’re widening our influence globally, so cross-border payments is what we need.”

LeEco’s effort is still in the early stages—Stellar founder Jed McCaleb flew to China last week to help jumpstart the effort—but it shows where the blockchain idea may be most useful for businesses in the near-term. Bitcoin’s strongest proponents see the technology as a way to make money work just like the rest of the internet, freeing commerce from the grip of governments and banks. That dream isn’t exactly close to reality. But the blockchain idea may still have useful applications in the here-and-now. A blockchain offers a way of readily sending money between countries, which is still a difficult thing in a world where the borderless connections provided by the internet are only part of what’s needed.

Cross-border Costs

At the moment, sending and receiving money internationally is expensive. The average cost of an international payment is between $25 and $35, ten times more than domestic payments, according to a recent McKinsey report. What’s more, existing technology for moving money between banks varies from country to country. The application programming interfaces, or APIs, that move money between banks are poorly designed, if they exist at all. Sometimes, payments travel via one-off messages or file transfers. And in many cases, the existing system just isn’t very liquid, due to the number of parties involved. “It’s a bit of nightmare,” says Anthony Barker, chief technology officer of the Paris-based international money transfer company Tempo, who spent 15 years working in the foreign exchange for operations like BMO Capital Markets and National Bank of Canada.

These are precisely the problems that Stellar is trying to solve. McCaleb was among the earliest bitcoin adopters, but he realizes that the digital currency idea has limited appeal in the West, which already enjoys a robust electronic infrastructure for moving money. At least for now, he believes the blockchain’s real power lies in its ability to move money in the developing world and across borders.

‘A network of one isn’t very useful.’

Today, the San Francisco non-profit that oversees Stellar announced that its payments network has plugged into existing money transfer operations in Europe, Africa, and the Philippines, including Tempo and the Philippines-based Coins. For Stellar to work—to provide a truly global network—it needs these partners who operate money transfer hubs, or “nodes,” on this network. At the same time, these partners gain because they can potentially streamline their money transfers using Stellar.

Stellar and similarly unified networks such as Ripple, Barker says, could help make moving money across borders easier and more reliable than the ad-hoc systems currently in use. A network like Stellar could also ultimately help money-movers cut costs, though this will only work if use of the protocol is widespread. “You need partners on the other side of the transaction,” Barker says. “A network of one isn’t very useful.”

Presently, even that modest dream for international payments faces obstacles. Earlier this year, Stellar was working to create a money transfer network in Nigeria, where just 35 percent of the population has access to traditional banking services, according to a 2014 report. More than half of the 17.5 million Nigerian adults who need to send money use informal channels such as prepaid debit cards and friends and family members traveling from place to place. Even so, the Nigerian Central Bank put the breaks on the Stellar plan this summer, banning money transfers by all but three large and established companies. It’s only now starting to relax these restrictions.

Barker says that governments still haven’t really woken up to the possibilities that technologies such as Stellar offer. “I don’t think the regulators understand,” he says. He and his company hope to change this. They’re among the advocates discussing blockchain technology with regulators in Europe, and they’re actively working to push Stellar into Philippines and China. According to the World Bank, only India receives more money in remittances from overseas each year than China ($64 billion) and the Philippines ($28 billion). Clearly, the demand for easier, cheaper ways to move money across borders is there. If big tech companies like LeEco can make blockchains work for money transfers, perhaps that momentum will start catalyze the technology for other uses too.

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'Trippin' Midwest Mama' from Lena shares travel adventures in blog – Freeport Journal-Standard

Freeport Journal-Standard

'Trippin' Midwest Mama' from Lena shares travel adventures in blog
Freeport Journal-Standard
Our recent visit, which included a Tower King room and club lounge access/breakfast, was only $124 as part of a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale. Just watch your inbox for sale notifications,” Engel shared on her blog. “This is a labor of love,” Engel

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A Bit of Weekend Blogging Nostalgia – Mother Jones

A Bit of Weekend Blogging Nostalgia
Mother Jones
Blogging, that much-maligned pastime, is gradually but surely disappearing from the Internet, and so, consequently, is a lot of online freedom and fun. Before I came to The New Yorker, my only professional writing experience was at blogs, places where

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This Company Will Pay You To Cuddle With Cats All Day, So Get Your Resume Ready

If you cuddle with kittens like its your job, youll be thrilled to know a companyis now hiring a lucky cat lover to cuddle with felines throughout the day.

I know, this seems too good to be true. Take a deep breath, nuzzle your kitty and pay close attention, because Im not joking.

A veterinary clinic in Dublin, Ireland just posted a job listing for a Cat Cuddler to join their staff, which means you can officially profit off your undeniable cat obsession and make money by petting kittens all day long.

It sounds like the opportunity.

The clinic, called Just Cats Veterinary Clinic and Cattery, is Dublins only veterinary establishment just for cats (there are no dogs allowed). Therefore, its super important for them to find someone crazy for kitties to join their staff.

According to the listing, theyre looking for someone with cattitude who has gentle hands capable of stroking cats for long periods of time.

The cat-loving candidates are also encouraged to know the different types of purrs (I didnt even know different types of purrs existed), and must be softly spoken and capable of cat whispering.

So, it basically sounds like anyone who spends more time with cats than humans will land the job in a second.

In another -egory of the application, the clinic asks applicants if they ever count kittens before theysleep or feed stray cats in their town. If the answer is yes, the company suggests theymight be a good fit for the Cat Cuddler position.

Of course, the company also asks if petting cats makes applicantswarm and fuzzy inside, and the answer is obvious.

If this position seems like a good fit for you,send your cover letter and resume

But theres one detail you should know about before moving to Dubilnand putting your cat skills to the test: youll need a qualification recognized by the veterinary council of Ireland in order to be considered.

Its probably worth getting if you aspire to cuddle with cats for a living, though.

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Jane Campion: my Top of the Lake research involved sneaking into brothels

Director says she adopted a disguise to get access to the stories of sex workers in Sydney for second series of drama

The acclaimed director Jane Campion has revealed that her research for the new series of Top of the Lake involved sneaking into Sydney brothels in disguise in order to hear the real stories of sex workers in the city. Campion, who directed The Piano, made her move into television writing and directing with Top of the Lake in 2013, and the show is to return for a long-awaited second season at the end of July.

The crime drama will once again centre around detective Robin Griffin, played by Elisabeth Moss, but this series will move from wild backdrop of New Zealand to Sydney, delving into the world of legalised prostitution.

Sexual tourism in Sydney from Asia has always really annoyed me because I feel its so exploitative of people who dont have the choices that we have and I felt like it should be something we should talk about or bring out, said Campion. The legalisation of brothels is not a simple issue at all. The ownership of someone elses body is something very powerful to explore.

The second season begins with the body of a young Asian girl washing up in a suitcase on Bondi beach, and explores the experience of migrant sex workers. Campion described how she and her co-director, Ariel Kleiman, had felt it was important to meet women who worked in the legal brothels of the Sydney, but that as a woman she had struggled to be let in, and so resorted to disguise.

I had to pretend to be Ariels aunt, said Campion. You cant get into a brothel as a woman without some kind of story, and I thought Id have to pretend to be a lesbian. But we got in and were walking upstairs and when they saw me they said, No, absolutely no. So we made up a very feeble story that I was his aunt and that he was confused about his sexuality and didnt know whether he was into women or not. And we said he was a virgin as well. The story got more ridiculous, but they were all very kind.

Once in a room with one of the women, Campion said she and Kleiman had used the chance to ask honest questions about procedure, rules, about the clients and about how she had ended up working in prostitution. She opened a lot up about her journey from Thailand to Sydney and the hardships of her work, added Campion. This was a full-on brothel; there were a lot of girls there and there was quite a charged atmosphere.

Since 1988, prostitution has been almost completely legalised in New South Wales, the most lenient jurisdiction in Australia, and anyone over 18 may provide sexual services in exchange for money, goods or favours, with brothels regulated by local councils. However, the number of unregulated brothels are thought to outnumber licensed properties by four to one, and a study in 2016 showed that 43% of those working in brothels had entered Australia from abroad on a student visa.

Campion said her decision to explore the world of migrant sex workers as part of the second series of Top of the Lake was not about being dogmatically against it, but illustrating its complexity and the stories of those caught up in it. I must say it does repulse me a bit, but on the other hand its the way that these girls can earn good money. And sometimes they [decide] that its worth it. Im not critiquing it these girls explained to us how they liked to make money and get themselves a better future, but once youve crossed that line, they said, you cant go back.

Campion, who was the first female director to win the Palme dOr for The Piano 20 years ago, said that despite the success of the first series of Top of the Lake, she had been hesitant to make a follow-up. However, she was eventually convinced both by her co-creators and also by Moss, who has said she was just hounding Jane for three years, just emailing and emailing with ideas constantly, desperate for the chance to play the tortured character of Robin Griffin again.

Campion won particular praise for the diverse and complex range of female characters in the first series, who she described as all my avatars. It is a trend which continues into the second series, with key roles played by Nicole Kidman and Game of Thrones Gwendoline Christie, who both specifically asked Campion to cast them in the show.

Moss, who is also currently garnering praise for her nuanced portrayal of Offred in the TV adaptation of The Handmaids Tale, said: These female characters definitely felt rare, especially for someone my age. I was 28 when I did the first series and characters that are so complicated and strong and interesting are very hard to come by, especially five years ago.

She added: With this season, I made a really simple general request to Jane in that I really wanted to be challenged by it. I really wanted Robin to go to a deeper, darker place I used the words fucked up over and over It needed to be even darker and I got it.

  • Top of the Lake: China Girl is on BBC2 from Thursday 27 July at 9pm

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Coupon Kid's Kryptonite … Crohn's Disease: Why MSE's Jordon Cox has suddenly gone so quiet (and when he'll be … – MoneySavingExpert


Coupon Kid's Kryptonite … Crohn's Disease: Why MSE's Jordon Cox has suddenly gone so quiet (and when he'll be …
By spreading the word on this horrible disease – which currently has no cure – we can increase awareness, understanding and donations, so that hopefully one day, a cure can be found. Oh, and if you really miss me, why not have a scroll through my old

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