Monday, December 31, 2012


First things first. Online accounting service Kashoo was named after some noodling-around with the phrase, "making your nut." After considering various varieties of nuts, the founders settled on Kashoo because of the first syllable in "cashew."

Kashoo is available as an app for the iPad, the only site the group we looked at in late 2012?to have accomplished this feat. And they had it ready 18 months ago. Not even QuickBooks Online is a member of that exclusive club.

All that aside, the application itself is a pleasure to use, thanks to a well-designed interface and intuitive navigational conventions. It's fairly young (about three years old), so it doesn't have the generous stable of add-ons that its competitors do. As of today, it only integrates with a Canadian payroll system, and it lacks the time- and item-tracking and some other features that QuickBooks online offers.

But it has the critical audit trail ("Change Log") that only QuickBooks Online offers in this group. It's a strong competitor in terms of its core functions: managing income and expenses downloaded from financial institutions; paying bills and invoicing customers; and staying on top of cash flow with reports and graphs. Kashoo is true double-entry accounting, which will make your financial person happy, and it's a global solution, supporting over 100 currencies.

A Different Starting Point
Kashoo starts you out on a slightly different home page than its competitors'. All of the sites reviewed here have a kind of "dashboard," a page that you'd look at first thing in the morning to get a sense of where you stand financially. These generally display charts and tables that provide data like account balances and income year-to-date. Some of them also remind you of tasks that must be done soon, like past due invoices and bills that must be paid, and they often contain links to record and transaction screens.

Kashoo's dashboard presents the standard account totals, net income and taxes and remittances, and links to pages containing more data, as well as a vertical pane containing links to other areas of the site. But it also lets you get to work immediately; the bulk of the screen is devoted to transaction forms for both income and expenses (invoices, bills, etc.). Each has its own dedicated page, but the dashboard's layout just lets you jump right in and get started. That approach is neither better nor worse than the others'?just a little different.

The main income and expense pages are more thorough than those on the dashboard, and their forms and related data are comparable to QuickBooks Online's. The transaction forms are at the top of each page, and a table displaying the most recent transactions is below that. Mini-reports appear in the vertical pane on the right. On the income screen, for example, you'd see your net income, aged receivables, receivables and income by customer and income by account. Links take you to more all-inclusive screens. The other sites reviewed here don't offer a similar configuration, and I think it's a helpful approach.

You can import customer and vendor records in CSV, vCard or Excel format, and there's a multi-step process for migrating from QuickBooks that's well-documented. Kashoo provides ample fields for the contact records that will eventually be used in transactions. Item-tracking is comparable to Less Accounting's; neither keeps a running tally of inventory levels like QuickBooks Online does, though.

Loading the Data
Personal finance manager Mint, owned by Intuit, was the first financial site to make a big splash with downloaded financial transactions. Desktop personal finance managers like Quicken and the now-defunct Microsoft Money had offered online banking since the mid-90s, but Mint was a website that made downloaded data the central focus of the application. Millions of paper checkbook registers began gathering dust because consumers could now have their checks and deposits and credit card charges just appear within Mint. At a glance, people could see what they were spending and taking in. This meant no more duplicate data entry, greatly-improved accuracy and lots of time saved.

Kashoo and its competitors reviewed here also focus on downloaded transactions; each can pull them down from thousands of financial institutions, so it's unlikely that your bank wouldn't be on their lists. The process works the same on Kashoo as it does on competing sites. You just click the Accounts tab on any page and enter the name of your financial institution (or start typing and select it from the list). You'll need to enter the same user ID and password that you use to log into the bank's site itself. After a short wait, your most recent transactions appear (you can also download statements in OFX, QFX and QBO format), which you can refresh anytime.

You enter invoices and expenses the same way you do on competing websites by making selections from drop-down lists to fill in the blanks on the forms. But Kashoo veers off from what is fairly standard on other online accounting sites. For example, you'd expect to see a label called something like, "Product" or "Item" on the field whose drop-down list held products and services. Instead, on the invoice it says, "Income Account," and then there's a field for a more specific description. And you can't assign a class or category or tag to use as a filter in later reporting, as other applications allow.

International Appeal
Kashoo allows unlimited collaborators for no additional charge, unlike QuickBooks Online. So it makes sense that a small business might invite its accountant in to check its work occasionally and get ready for taxes. Accounting professionals would find a lot about this site appealing, like the fact that it's true double-entry accounting and it includes what it calls a "change log," which is a continuous record of every activity that anyone does on the site. In fact, a few of the features seem more appropriate for a financial advisor than a non-accountant in a small business, like the Adjustment page, where you have to understand debits and credits to enter data.

Kashoo does have global appeal; it provides updated exchange information for multiple currencies and allows sales tax localization. But its Canadian-only payroll is one of only two add-ons at this point, the other being FreshBooks?which does add a great deal to the sales side of your financial management. Its iPad-optimized app, though, is a big feather in the company's cap.

I'd recommend the site for small businesses whose needs don't include payroll or time billing or extensibility. For now, though, QuickBooks Online fills in the gaps that Kashoo leaves open, and is a better overall solution.

More Accounting and Tax Software Reviews:
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??? QuickBooks Online Plus
??? Wave Accounting
??? FreshBooks
??? Xero
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Monti's reform path faces test beyond Italy elections

ROME (Reuters) - Mario Monti declared "mission accomplished" when he resigned as Italy's prime minister, having seen off the debt crisis that loomed as he took office just over a year ago but 2013 will test whether he has laid the foundations for lasting economic change.

Elections on February 24-25 will give Italian voters their first chance to decide whether they want to stick to the broad course he has set or turn to a growing chorus of politicians who have attacked his austerity medicine.

Monti's decision to enter the race himself has put his reform agenda at the heart of the campaign and will have effects far outside Italy, the euro zone's third-largest economy, which took the single currency to the brink of collapse last year.

Former European Commissioner Monti, favored by the markets, the business establishment and even the Catholic church, has insisted that the election must be about creating agreement on policy rather than on any individual.

In that sense, the true test of his success may be not whether he wins a second term but whether he has succeeded in convincing the other parties and the country as a whole to stay with the liberalizing agenda he has laid out.

That remains uncertain, despite the plaudits he earned abroad for his handling of the crisis, as ordinary Italians have seen their living standards fall and unemployment rise relentlessly.

The centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the favorites to win the election, have supported Monti in parliament and say they will maintain the broad course he has set, while putting more emphasis on growth and helping workers and the poor.

But some on the left of the party and among its trade union allies say inequality has risen under Monti.

On the right, Silvio Berlusconi accuses Monti of taking orders from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and penalizing middle class Italians for the benefit of German banks. He has called for sweeping tax cuts to stimulate growth.

The runaway success of the anti-establishment comic Beppe Grillo and his 5-Star Movement, which wants to hold a referendum to decide whether to leave the euro, has also underlined the widespread mood of disillusion now deeply anchored in Italy.

"I don't have any confidence in my country, absolutely not," said Rosaria Resciniti, one of thousands of young people lining up to enter a competition for a job as primary school teacher in Rome.

"It is a country for old people. We should all leave and leave the country to the pensioners," she said.


Monti himself acknowledged the disaffection on Friday when he confirmed that he would be joining the election campaign as head of a centrist alliance committed to continuing his reforms.

"Fortunately, it seems that the financial emergency is over, but there is another emergency which is just as serious or even more so, which is the unemployment emergency, especially as regards youth unemployment and the lack of growth," he said.

Helped by the promise of European Central Bank support, the main gauge of investor confidence, the spread between yields on Italian 10 year government bonds and safer German Bunds has narrowed from the crisis levels of more than 550 basis points hit when Monti took office to about 320 points.

But the broader indicators of economic health have got worse, a fact constantly pointed out by critics such as Berlusconi and Grillo, who say the tax hikes and spending cuts imposed to calm the markets have dragged Italy into a recessionary spiral.

The economy has contracted for five consecutive quarters and is estimated to have shrunk by 2.4 percent in 2012. Public debt has topped the symbolic 2 trillion euro level, corruption and waste are still rampant, and youth unemployment is over 36 percent.

Italy has had the euro zone's most sluggish economy for more than a decade, and whether any of the leaders fighting the election can turn that around quickly is doubtful, as one of the possible ministers in a centre-left government acknowledged.

"This crisis will last throughout the whole of the next parliament at least," deputy PD leader Enrico Letta told Reuters last month.

The task will be greatly complicated if market sentiment turns against Italy as it did in 2011, when tensions in the Berlusconi government raised doubts about its commitment to budget discipline.

Monti, seen outside Italy at least as a guarantor of stability, has said he was "not a man sent by Providence", but whether he himself will be involved in the next government has been one of the main questions hanging over the race.

His sober, professorial style came as a welcome relief to international investors and European partners unnerved by the turmoil and scandal surrounding Berlusconi as bond markets crashed in the summer of 2011.

But if opinion polls are confirmed on election day, it is difficult to see how he could become prime minister without resorting to the kind of backroom deals that characterized the shaky coalitions of the postwar period, when governments often survived no more than months or even weeks.

The most recent opinion poll gave centre-left PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani support of 36 percent, with Monti on 23.3 percent, ahead of both Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) and Grillo's 5-Star Movement.

Monti's involvement in the election has ruled him out as a candidate for president of the Republic, a post that would have given him significant behind-the-scenes influence.

That leaves the possibility of becoming finance minister in a Bersani government, though there has been little sign of enthusiasm either from his side or from the PD, which has maintained a respectful tone towards Monti but now clearly sees him as a political adversary.


Beyond the issue of personalities, the deep-rooted problems afflicting the Italian economy will be a formidable challenge to any new government.

"The situation in Italy is not easy, there are too many centres of power where everybody blocks everything. Our infrastructure isn't working and we've got corruption all over," said Renzo Rosso, head of the group behind Diesel jeans, one of the Italian companies that has managed to find a way past the obstacles in its home market to create a global success.

All the main parties in the race have called for more emphasis on creating growth, which along with its towering public debt has long been Italy's Achilles heel.

Monti's own 25-page agenda lays out a range of answers, such as taxing consumption and large fortunes more than companies and workers, and opening up markets to more competition and breaking down the suffocating power of special interest groups.

Turning such ideas into practice and convincing the public to go along with them is another matter.

Reflecting on her time in office, Elsa Fornero, an academic expert recruited into Monti's technocrat government whose labor reform plans were largely stymied by resistance from both unions and employers, said she had learned the difference the hard way.

"In this period of almost a year now, I have been able to measure the distance between being a professor and being a minister," she told foreign reporters last month.

"It's something completely different. I have been more used to formulating rational solutions, but the rationality of a solution is not enough because society is more differentiated and doesn't just live on rationality."

(Additional reporting by Hanna Rantala, Cristiano Corvino and Antonella Ciancio; Editing by Will Waterman)


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Christmas spirit rekindled in Rome thanks to living Nativity scene

YoutubeDecember 29, 2012. ( The star of Bethlehem shone bright atop Rome's Trastevere neighborhood, for a spectacular depicting of a living Nativity scene. More than 100 neighbors, half of them children, in this well known, historic neighborhood dressed up in classical clothes, used nearly 2000 years ago, to relive the joy stemming from the birth of Jesus. ?

The scene included lambs, goats, shepherds, angels and, of course, the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph.?


?I am the mother of St. Joseph. He lives in this area and was chosen because he physically resembles Saint Joseph. He is joined by a beautiful Virgin Mary.??



?I am a peasant, and all peasants go and adore Jesus on his manger when he is born.??

During the living Nativity scene, organizers gathered toys, clothes and food for people in need. Hundreds of people, carrying red candles, walked the neighborhood to illuminate and participate in the tradition depiction.?


?This scene has been magical, a real surprise. We weren't expecting real animals, there's goats, lambs, chickens; we even saw the camels of the Three Wise Men.??

This is the second year organizers at the living Nativity scene read several passages written by Benedict XVI and Mother Theresa of Calcutta.?

The music also took prominence. This angel-turned violinist played several carols throughout the ceremony.?






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Burma's military has issued a Christmas ultimatum to ethnic Kachin rebels in the...

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pakistan militants kill 40 in execution, attack on Shiites

Naseer Ahmed / Reuters

Paramedics inspect the bodies of Shiite pilgrims killed by a car bomb in Quetta on Sunday.

By NBC News staff and wire services

QUETTA, Pakistan -?Pakistani militants, who have escalated attacks in recent weeks, killed at least 40 people in two separate incidents, officials said on Sunday, challenging assertions that military offensives have broken the back of hardline Islamist groups.

A car bomb exploded near a convoy of buses taking Shiite pilgrims to Iran, killing at least 19 people and wounding 30, officials told NBC News, the latest attack on the minority sect.?

Earlier Sunday, 21 tribal policemen believed to have been kidnapped by the Taliban were found shot dead in Pakistan's troubled northwest tribal region, government officials said.

Witnesses said the blast occurred as the three buses were overtaking a car about 35 miles west of Quetta, capital of sparsely populated Baluchistan province, site of many sectarian attacks, near the Iranian border.?

Pakistan has experienced a spike in killings over the last year by radical Sunni Muslims targeting Shiites who they consider heretics. The violence has been especially pronounced in Baluchistan province, where the latest attack occurred. ?

"The bus next to us caught on fire immediately," pilgrim Hussein Ali, 60, told Reuters. "We tried to save our companions but were driven back by the intensity of the heat."?

A second eyewitness said the bomber rushed by in a pick-up truck, swerved in front of the first bus and slammed on the brakes. The bus slammed into the pick-up truck and then a big explosion occurred.?

Photos: Blast in Karachi kills six, wounds 48

Akbar Durrani, Baluchistan's home secretary, told Reuters that rescue teams were trying to reach victims in the wreckage of the vehicles, one of which was still in flames some time after the attack. He said the death toll could rise.?

Fayaz Aziz / Reuters

A badly injured paramilitary soldier, who survived the shooting by Taliban militants, receives treatment at a hospital in Peshawar on Sunday.

At least 19 were killed in the attacks, and 30 wounded, according to government officials.?

A string of attacks on Shiites underscores the government's inability to crack down on groups promoting sectarian violence.?

Sectarian tensions
Shiites make up around 15 percent of Pakistan's 190 million people. They are scattered around the country, but the province of Baluchistan has the largest community, mainly made up of ethnic Hazaras, easily identified by their facial features which resemble those of Central Asians.

Pakistan's 'dynastic politics': Bhutto's son launches career

Sunni extremists have long carried out attacks against Shiites in Pakistan. But the sectarian campaign has stepped up in recent years, fueled mainly by the radical group Laskar-e-Jangvhi, aligned to Pakistani Taliban militants headquartered in the tribal region. More than 300 Shiites have been killed in Pakistan this year, according to Human Rights Watch.

The violence has pushed Baluchistan in particular deeper into chaos. The province was already facing an armed insurgency by ethnic Baluch separatists who frequently attack security forces and government facilities. But the secessionist violence has been overtaken by increasingly bold attacks against Shiites.?

Pakistan, Afghanistan share vision on Taliban

The sectarian bloodletting adds another layer to the turmoil in Pakistan, where the government is fighting an insurgency by the Pakistani Taliban and where many fear Sunni hardliners are gaining strength. Shiites and rights group say the government does little to protect Shiites and that militants are emboldened because they are believed to have links to Pakistan's intelligence agencies.?

Tribal policemen killed
The 21 tribal policemen who were shot dead were found by officials shortly after midnight Sunday in the Jabai area of Frontier Region Peshawar after being notified by one policeman who escaped, said Naveed Akbar Khan, a top political official in the area. Another policeman was found seriously wounded, said Khan.?

The 23 policemen went missing before dawn Thursday when militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons attacked two posts in Frontier Region Peshawar. Two policemen were also killed in the attacks.?

After receiving threatening telephone calls warning they would regret helping the "infidel" campaign against polio, a group of woman, working on a UN-backed polio vaccination campaign, were shot and killed by gunmen a day after a similar slaying in Karachi. Ch4 Europe's Lindsey Hilsum reports. Warning: Some images maybe disturbing.

Militants lined the policemen up on a cricket pitch late Saturday night and gunned them down, said another local official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.?

Also Sunday, two Pakistani army soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in the North Waziristan tribal area, the main sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the country, security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with official policy.?

NBC News'?Mushtaq Yusufzai,?The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

More world stories from NBC News:

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Four planets in 'habitable zones' spotted within spitting distance of Earth

Astronomers say they used a new statistical technique to find four possible super-Earths orbiting in the habitable zone of two stars within 22 light-years of Earth, Gliese 667C and tau Ceti.

By Pete Spotts,?Staff writer / December 19, 2012

This diagram shows an artist's rendering comparing our own solar system to Kepler-22, a star system containing the first 'habitable zone' planet discovered by NASA's Kepler mission. The 'habitable zone' is a region where under the right conditions, liquid water can form stable pools on the surface.



Astronomers say they have uncovered evidence for what could be four super-Earth planets orbiting within the habitable zones of two stars within 22 light-years of Earth.

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Three of those candidate planets are among a tightly packed clutch of five that orbit Gliese 667C, part of a triple-star system 22 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. The other possible planet is one of five orbiting tau Ceti, a sun-like star 12 light-years away in the constellation Cetus.

Taken together, the detections not only add to accumulating evidence that planets look to be more common than stars ? and that planets in habitable zones could be more common than previously thought, some of researchers reporting the finds say.

The finds also illustrate the power of improved statistical tools to boldly uncover candidate planets where no planet had been found before.

The evidence for these candidate planets requires independent confirmation, the researchers caution.?Still, the tools represent "a real breakthrough," says Steven Vogt, an astronomer at the University of California at Santa Cruz and a member of the team reporting the results for tau Ceti. The approach the team took leaves only about one chance in 3 million that the detections could herald something other than a planet.

Since the mid-1990s, astronomers have bagged more than 850 extra-solar planets. The ultimate goal is to find rocky planets with Earth-like masses orbiting within their stars' habitable zones ? a region where under the right conditions, liquid water can form stable pools on the surface. Liquid water is considered an essential ingredient for organic life.

Different groups of astronomers had aimed three telescopes for various lengths of time at tau Ceti and found nothing. Led by Mikko Tuomi at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain, the team reporting this latest analysis applied relatively new statistical tools to the combined data from these telescopes.

The result: "Five planets came out: boom, boom, boom, boom, boom ... as clear as a bell," Dr. Vogt says.

Tau Ceti has about 78 percent of our own sun's mass, but its composition is quite similar, Dr. Tuomi's team reports. Its candidate planets range from 2 to 6.6 times Earth's mass.

The innermost object orbits the star once every 14 days, while the outermost takes 642 days to make its circuit. The fourth planet from the star, with a 168-day orbit, travels well within a zone where liquid water could remain stable on the planet's surface, the team estimates. However, the results don't speak directly to what the planets are made of.?

A similar story has played out for Philip Gregory, an astronomer at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Previous researchers had found two planets orbiting Gliese 667C, a red dwarf with 31 percent of the sun's mass. Using a broadly similar statistical approach, he reports detecting the initial two, plus three more planets. Three of the five fall within the star's habitable zone, he estimates.


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Michigan Passes Law to Protect Social Media Accounts

Kenneth Rosen

Michigan passed a bill on Friday that prohibits employers and schools from asking employees and students for login information to their personal social media accounts.

House Bill 5523, signed by Governor Rick Snyder and introduced by state Rep. Aric Nesbitt, "prohibit[s] employers and educational institutions from requiring certain individuals to grant access to, allow observation of, or disclose information that allows access to or observation of personal internet accounts."

This means an employer or institution cannot require that you provide them with your username or passwords for sites like Facebook and Twitter. The bill is known as the "internet privacy protection act."

?Potential employees and students should be judged on their skills and abilities, not private online activity,

?Potential employees and students should be judged on their skills and abilities, not private online activity,? Snyder said in a press release.

Michigan isn't alone in adapting laws to the changing Internet social sphere.

Earlier this year, Delaware banned public and private schools from requiring students' social media account information. The bill passed through the House in a unanimous vote. Months earlier, Maryland introduced a similar bill that would particularly benefit student athletes.

In September, California passed a law that barred companies from asking its workers to surrender their social media account passwords.

Will bills and acts similar to these become more commonplace in our local and national legislature? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

BONUS: 18 Social Media Slip-Ups That Will Get You Fired

Photo via iStockphoto, DNY59

Topics: privacy acts, social laws, Social Media, U.S., US & World


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Video: 'Most violent giraffe fight ever filmed' for Discovery's 'Africa'

Giraffes aren't always Mr. Nice Guys.

In fact, as narrator Forest Whitaker points out in "Africa," the Discovery Channel's upcoming natural history series, "Most of the time they're gentle vegetarians, but to protect precious territory they will fight."

Filmmakers miraculously captured a vicious battle between two of the giant creatures -- described by Discovery as "the most violent giraffe fight ever filmed" -- striking fierce blows with their 6 feet long, 500-pound necks.

The scene isn't as distressing as most savage nature films, however. Rather, it evokes a classic spaghetti-western showdown, with a dusty setting and a score to match.

"A young gun sidles into town looking to stake his claim," explains Whitaker. "The first blow should settle it. Not today."

We'll have to wait for the "Africa" premiere -- Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 10 p.m. on the Discovery Channel -- to find out who prevails.

Photo/Video credit: Discovery Channel


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The Most Significant Benefits of NLP Training Online

Are you easily influenced by people? Do you have less confidence? Do you feel insecure? Are you challenged under some conventional beliefs? If the answer of any of these questions is yes then you need to consult an NLP training expert. NLP is surely your possible solution to solve all these problems. During these days NLP training online is available easily and you can consult any of the suitable practitioners. No doubt, you will enjoy a happier life without any problem or mental insecurity.

NLP or Neuro-Linguistic program is a transformational technology. It includes some outstanding technology in order to control and model a human mind. It also helps to put the human mind in the fullest potential use. In normal eyes NLP appears as a very intricate topic based on tons of theories as well as research. However, when you undergo an NLP training online, you will understand that this is a much easier topic and can easily change you from inside. As a matter of fact, Neuro-Linguistic Program is a downright easy technique to understand as well as undergo.

Actually the human mind follows a particular structure and as a result any techniques need to be made according to the structure of human brain. At the same time it is also true that the structure of human mind can be studied as well as altered whenever you wish. All the techniques and principles of NLP help a person to build human excellence with the help of modern online training techniques and tools.

NLP itself has its own magic but it is also true that the practitioner too, adds some extent of enthusiasm and zeal into the coaching session. The Neuro-Linguistic Programming professional acts as an agent to transform an individual?s way of thinking as well as acting. During these Neuro-Linguistic Training centers are growing like mushroom at different parts of the world. These training centers provide quality NLP training to those who need them most. However, it is also true that not all the professionals are expert. You need to find out such professionals who are employed to help to bring a shift of thinking patterns and human consciousness.

Thousands of tools and techniques can be implemented in a single NLP training program. The Nuero-Linguistic Program is basically an outcome of a thesis project undertaken by all these techniques. After the successful completion of all the effective NLP techniques you may be benefitted in many ways. First, it helps you change your body language by increasing your confidence level. Secondly, it helps you to read others mind so that you can judge a situation. Thirdly, it helps you to take decisions more logically and rationally. Finally, NLP teaches you the possible ways of getting success in your life by setting clear goals.

There is no lack of online courses for those who are looking for a free NLP training online. The quality of these courses delivered by these sites can literally help many people to regain their lost confidence.

Author's Bio:?

Dr. William Horton is an expert in providing NLP training online. He provides live and home study NLP practitioner certification courses for anyone who deals with sales, consulting, teachers, self hypnosis techniques, clergy etc. His training goes beyond the jargon of NLP and shows you the secrets of how NLP really works.


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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Crock Pot Vegan Black Bean Soup


Last night was heavenly. Mr. Prevention and I purchased a new, rather large, LED TV for our bedroom. I snuggled into bed in my new Cubs onesie (um, no joke) at 9:30, watching Shipping Wars and flipped through a new cookbook my sister-in-law got for me ? The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health: More Than 200 New Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for Delicious and Nutrient-Rich Dishes. I have a lot of sticky notes on pages and pages of recipes I want to try.

I am steadfast in my belief (knowledge!) that vegetarian meals are not only more wholesome in that they include more vegetables, but are also lower in cost than most meaty or fishy fare. I have no plans to omit meat or seafood from my diet?I just don?t think I could do it, but I love having go-to recipes that are chock-full of 100% good-for-me ingredients.

Enter: Crock Pot Vegan Black Bean Soup.


My mom and I were just talking about flavors and how important it is to flavor foods properly. If you don?t enjoy a recipe, consider first the flavors that you like and/or don?t like before shelving the idea all together.

We all have preferences, and in case you hadn?t noticed, I love ingredients such as cumin and cilantro for their boldness and versatility. Both of these same ingredients were used in the Black Bean & Quinoa Veggie Burgers I posted just a few days ago. The best part about finding spices and herbs that you love is that they are essentially calorie-free and contain fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that you can?t get from just any food. I can?t wait to start growing herbs in my AeroGarden. Hopefully it will work since winter has finally killed off my outdoor herbs!


I?ve been wanting to make black bean soup for a really long time. I knew I wanted to use dried beans and the crock pot. From there, I consulted a few recipes and pulled from each what appealed to me most. The beauty is this soup is that you can add, or not add, whatever you wish. Similar to the Black Bean & Quinoa Veggie Burgers, I may add a chipotle in adobo sauce the next time I make this soup ? I just love those peppers and all their packed-in heat and spice!

Cuddle up with a bowl of this and a big piece of crusty Italian bread?it may just be the best decision you make all winter long!


Crock Pot Vegan Black Bean Soup adapted from and Noreen Cooks

1 lb dried black beans
1/2 red onion, diced
1 green bell peppers, diced
2 jalapenos, diced
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
6 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz can no-salt added diced tomatoes
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar


Soak the beans in 1-2 quarts of water overnight at room temperature.

Drain the beans and combine all ingredients in a large crock pot, stir well. Cover and cook on HIGH for 9-12 hours. Stir before serving hot.

Yield: ~10 cups (varies with cooking time)

Nutrition Information (per cup): 123 calories; 02. g. fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 295 mg. sodium; 26.1 g. carbohydrate; 6.7 g. fiber; 7.2 g. protein

Result: As a lover of black bean soup I am thrilled to find a simple soup that is not only made in the crock pot, but that is also vegan and gluten-free. This soup really couldn?t be any easier to make. Be sure to leave 1-2 inches at the top of your crock as this soup does get hot and boils some. I love the long cook time that I can throw this in and not worry about throughout the day. I was skeptical about my crock on HIGH all day long, but it was perfect! Serve this with some cilantro and crusty bread. You?ll be hard pressed to find anything as delicious or healthy! Packed with fiber and protein with virtually no fat. This soup may be the perfect healthy, low-calorie winter meal!

?TGIF! It?s hard being at work when so much of the hospital is still on holiday vacation!

P.S. Be sure to ?Like? Prevention RD on Facebook for post updates there! Lots of good stuff coming with the new year?you don?t want to miss it!

Be well,



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Law school students accused of beheading bird

By Chris Roberts,

What happens in Vegas can end up in a courtroom.

Two University of California Berkeley law school students were charged with crimes -- one with felonies -- in Las Vegas after being accused of beheading an exotic bird, according to reports.

Prosecutors say Justin Teixeira, 24, and Eric Cuellar, 24, stole a 14-year-old helmeted guineafowl from a cage at the Flamingo resort and casino on Oct. 12. The pair were seen on surveillance video chasing the bird into some trees, and then emerging a short time later with the bird's body and its severed head, The Associated Press reported.


Teixeira's charges include felony killing and felony torturing of an animal, while Cuellar's charge is a misdemeanor. Teixeira could face prison time if convicted, while Cuellar's maximum sentence is six months in jail, the news agency reported.

Frat suspended after turkey allegedly abused, killed

If convicted, the men's futures as attorneys may be at risk. The State Bar of California requires lawyers to "demonstrate good moral character."


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College student's turtle project takes dark twist

In this Dec. 12, 2012 photo, Clemson University student Nathan Weaver holds a fake turtle he is using in his research to try and save the animals in Clemson, S.C. Weaver is placing the fake turtle in roads near campus and seeing how many drivers intentionally run over it. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

In this Dec. 12, 2012 photo, Clemson University student Nathan Weaver holds a fake turtle he is using in his research to try and save the animals in Clemson, S.C. Weaver is placing the fake turtle in roads near campus and seeing how many drivers intentionally run over it. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

In this Dec. 12, 2012 photo, the shattered plastic shell of a fake turtle sits near the turtle's rubber body on a road near Clemson, S.C. Clemson University student Nathan Weaver is placing fake turtles in roads near campus to see how many drivers intentionally run over the animals. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

In this Dec. 12, 2012 photo, Clemson University student Nathan Weaver, right, talks with his professor, Rob Baldwin, left, as they wait to see if a fake turtle he is using in his research is run over in a road near Clemson, S.C. Weaver is placing the fake turtle in roads near campus and seeing how many drivers intentionally run over it. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

(AP) ? Clemson University student Nathan Weaver set out to determine how to help turtles cross the road. He ended up getting a glimpse into the dark souls of some humans.

Weaver put a realistic rubber turtle in the middle of a lane on a busy road near campus. Then he got out of the way and watched over the next hour as seven drivers swerved and deliberately ran over the animal. Several more apparently tried to hit it but missed.

"I've heard of people and from friends who knew people that ran over turtles. But to see it out here like this was a bit shocking," said Weaver, a 22-year-old senior in Clemson's School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences.

To seasoned researchers, the practice wasn't surprising.

The number of box turtles is in slow decline, and one big reason is that many wind up as roadkill while crossing the asphalt, a slow-and-steady trip that can take several minutes.

Sometimes humans feel a need to prove they are the dominant species on this planet by taking a two-ton metal vehicle and squishing a defenseless creature under the tires, said Hal Herzog, a Western Carolina University psychology professor.

"They aren't thinking, really. It is not something people think about. It just seems fun at the time," Herzog said. "It is the dark side of human nature."

Herzog asked a class of about 110 students getting ready to take a final whether they had intentionally run over a turtle, or been in a car with someone who did. Thirty-four students raised their hands, about two-thirds of them male, said Herzog, author of a book about humans' relationships with animals, called "Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat."

Weaver, who became interested in animals and conservation through the Boy Scouts and TV's "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, wants to figure out the best way to get turtles safely across the road and keep the population from dwindling further.

Among the possible solutions: turtle underpasses or an education campaign aimed at teenagers on why drivers shouldn't mow turtles down.

The first time Weaver went out to collect data on turtles, he chose a spot down the road from a big apartment complex that caters to students. He counted 267 vehicles that passed by, seven of them intentionally hitting his rubber reptile.

He went back out about a week later, choosing a road in a more residential area. He followed the same procedure, putting the fake turtle in the middle of the lane, facing the far side of the road, as if it was early in its journey across. The second of the 50 cars to pass by that day swerved over the center line, its right tires pulverizing the plastic shell.

"Wow! That didn't take long," Weaver said.

Other cars during the hour missed the turtle. But right after his observation period was up, before Weaver could retrieve the model, another car moved to the right to hit the animal as he stood less than 20 feet away.

"One hit in 50 cars is pretty significant when you consider it might take a turtle 10 minutes to cross the road," Weaver said.

Running over turtles even has a place in Southern lore.

In South Carolina author Pat Conroy's semi-autobiographical novel "The Great Santini," a fighter-pilot father squishes turtles during a late-night drive when he thinks his wife and kids are asleep. His wife confronts him, saying: "It takes a mighty brave man to run over turtles."

The father denies it at first, then claims he hits them because they are a road hazard. "It's my only sport when I'm traveling," he says. "My only hobby."

That hobby has been costly to turtles.

It takes a turtle seven or eight years to become mature enough to reproduce, and in that time, it might make several trips across the road to get from one pond to another, looking for food or a place to lay eggs. A female turtle that lives 50 years might lay over 100 eggs, but just two or three are likely to survive to reproduce, said Weaver's professor, Rob Baldwin.

Snakes also get run over deliberately. Baldwin wishes that weren't the case, but he understands, considering the widespread fear and loathing of snakes. But why anyone would want to run over turtles is a mystery to the professor.

"They seem so helpless and cute," he said. "I want to stop and help them. My kids want to stop and help them. My wife will stop and help turtles no matter how much traffic there is on the road. I can't understand the idea why you would swerve to hit something so helpless as a turtle."


Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter:

Associated Press


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Friday, December 28, 2012

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Meet Our Pets of the Week from the Larimer Humane Society


Helga Larmer Humane Society

Helga is an easygoing lap cat looking for a new family to love! She?s an 8-year-old, female Domestic Shorthair who has the best years of her life left to spend with you. Classified as a ?Sidekick? in the Meet Your Match program, Helga is as independent as she is attentive. She?s all around great company. Visit her at the shelter today and she can be yours for just $25.


Angie Larimer Humane Society

Angie is a perfect angel! Classified as a ?Wallflower? in the Meet Your Match program, this 6-year-old, female Rat Terrier is shy yet charming. She?s looking for an easygoing family with a relaxed lifestyle to take her in and show her the love she deserves. Come visit Angie at the shelter today and take her home for $100.


Admiral Larimer Humane Society

You?ll want to salute this high ranking companion! Admiral is a 7-month-old, male Guinea Pig looking for a tip-top family to take him in. For such a distinguished pet, Admiral is as easygoing as they come. Give him a comfy cage and a daily cuddle and he?ll be your devoted companion for life. Take Admiral home today for just $15.


Adoptable Animals

To visit with these featured pets or any other adoptable animals, stop by Larimer Humane Society at 6317 Kyle Avenue in Ft. Collins. The shelter is open from 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more info, call (970) 226-3647 or visit


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PSA: Ouya developer consoles now shipping to qualified backers

DNP PSA Ouya developer consoles now shipping to qualified backers

Did you pony up $699 or more to the Kickstarter-famed Ouya in hopes of an early hands-on with the unreleased gaming platform? If so, you may want to keep an eye on your email's inbox, because orders for the developer version of the Android-powered console are starting to ship out. As for the package itself, early adopters can expect a dev unit console, two controllers and a copy of the system's "ODK" software development kit. If you went all-in on Ouya and have received your order or notification email, we'd love to hear about it via the comments below.

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Via: SlashGear

Source: OuyaForum


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Thursday, December 27, 2012

alaskasmith: victorrusso23: Shopping And Product Reviews: Toys ...

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Liquid crystal research, future applications advance

Dec. 24, 2012 ? Contributing geometric and topological analyses of micro-materials, University of Massachusetts Amherst mathematician Robert Kusner aided experimental physicists at the University of Colorado (UC) by successfully explaining the observed "beautiful and complex patterns revealed" in three-dimensional liquid crystal experiments. The work is expected to lead to creation of new materials that can be actively controlled.

Kusner is a geometer, an expert in the analysis of variational problems in low-dimensional geometry and topology, which concerns properties preserved under continuous deformation such as stretching and bending. His work over 3 decades has focused on the geometry and topology of curves, surfaces and other spaces that arise in nature, such as soap films, knots and the shapes of fluid droplets. Kusner agrees with physicist and lead author Ivan Smalyukh of UC Boulder that their collaboration is the first to show in experiments that some of the most fundamental topological theorems hold up in real materials. Their findings appear in the current early online issue of Nature.

UMass Amherst's Kusner explains, "There are two important aspects of this work. First, the experimental work by the Colorado team, who fabricated topologically complex micro-materials allowing controlled experiments of three-dimensional liquid crystals. Second, the theoretical work performed by us mathematicians and theoretical physicists while visiting the University of California Santa Barbara's Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). We provided the geometric and topological analysis of these experiments, to explain the observed patterns and predict what patterns should be seen when experimental conditions are changed."

Kusner was the lone mathematician among four organizers of last summer's workshop on "Knotted Fields" at KITP, which led to this work. The workshop engaged about a dozen other mathematicians and about twice as many theoretical and experimental physicists in a month-long investigation of the interplay between low-dimensional topology and what physicists call "soft matter."

In their experiments, the physicists at UC Boulder showed that tiny topological particles injected into a liquid crystal medium behave in a manner consistent with established theorems in geometry and topology, Kusner says. The researchers say they have thus identified approaches for building new materials using topology.

UC Boulder's Smalyukh and colleagues set up the experiment by first creating colloids, solutions in which tiny particles are dispersed but not dissolved in a host medium, such as milk, paint and shaving cream. Specifically, they injected tiny, different-shaped particles into a liquid crystal, which behaves something like a liquid and a solid. Once injected into a liquid crystal, the particles behaved as predicted by topology.

Smalyukh says, "Our study shows that interaction between particles and molecular alignment in liquid crystals follows the predictions of topological theorems, making it possible to use these theorems in designing new composite materials with unique properties that cannot be encountered in nature or synthesized by chemists. These findings lay the groundwork for new applications in experimental studies of low-dimensional topology, with important potential ramifications for many branches of science and technology."

For example, he adds, these topological liquid crystal colloids could be used to upgrade current liquid crystal displays like those used in laptops and television screens, to allow them to interact with light in new, more energy efficient ways.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Massachusetts at Amherst, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. Bohdan Senyuk, Qingkun Liu, Sailing He, Randall D. Kamien, Robert B. Kusner, Tom C. Lubensky, Ivan I. Smalyukh. Topological colloids. Nature, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nature11710

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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World's longest fast train line opens in China

In this photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, a bullet train G80 leaves for Beijing from the Guangzhou South Railway Station in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. China has opened the world's longest high-speed rail line, which runs 2,298 kilometers (1,428 miles) from the country's capital in the north to Guangzhou, an economic hub in the Pearl River delta in southern China. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Chen Yehua) NO SALES

In this photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, a bullet train G80 leaves for Beijing from the Guangzhou South Railway Station in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. China has opened the world's longest high-speed rail line, which runs 2,298 kilometers (1,428 miles) from the country's capital in the north to Guangzhou, an economic hub in the Pearl River delta in southern China. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Chen Yehua) NO SALES

In this photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, a high-speed train G802 leaves for Beijing from Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. China has opened the world's longest high-speed rail line, which runs 2,298 kilometers (1,428 miles) from the country's capital in the north to Guangzhou, an economic hub in the Pearl River delta in southern China. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Wang Xiao) NO SALES

In this photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, a high-speed train G90 leaves for Beijing from the Zhengzhou East Railway Station in Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. China has opened the world's longest high-speed rail line, which runs 2,298 kilometers (1,428 miles) from the country's capital in the north to Guangzhou, an economic hub in the Pearl River delta in southern China. (AP Photo/Xinhu, Zhao Peng) NO SALES

Map shows China???s high-speed rail line from Beijing to Guangzhou;

(AP) ? China on Wednesday opened the world's longest high-speed rail line that more than halves the time required to travel from the country's capital in the north to Guangzhou, an economic hub in southern China.

The opening of the 2,298 kilometer (1,428 mile)-line was commemorated by the 9 a.m. departure of a train from Beijing for Guangzhou. Another train left Guangzhou for Beijing an hour later.

China has massive resources and considerable prestige invested in its showcase high-speed railways program.

But it has in recent months faced high-profile problems: part of a line collapsed in central China after heavy rains in March, while a bullet train crash in the summer of 2011 killed 40 people. The former railway minister, who spearheaded the bullet train's construction, and the ministry's chief engineer, were detained in an unrelated corruption investigation months before the crash.

Trains on the latest high-speed line will initially run at 300 kph (186 mph) with a total travel time of about eight hours. Before, the fastest time between the two cities by train was more than 20 hours.

The line also makes stops in major cities along the way, including provincial capitals Shijiazhuang, Wuhan and Changsha.

More than 150 pairs of high-speed trains will run on the new line every day, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the Ministry of Railways.

Railway is an essential part in China's transportation system, and the government plans to build a grid of high-speed railways with four east-west lines and four north-south lines by 2020.

The opening of the new line brings the total distance covered by China's high-speed railway system to more than 9,300 km (5,800 miles) ? about half its 2015 target of 18,000 km.

Associated Press


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Hero dog missing snout seems to have beaten cancer

File - In this August, 12, 2012 file photo provided by the University of California, Davis, a Bunggal family member plays with Kabang the dog in the Philippines. A veterinarian at the University of California, Davis, has some good news about a dog from the Philippines who became an international hero after sacrificing its snout to save two young girls. Veterinarian Gina Davis says the dog named Kabang appears to have beaten the cancer it was suffering from. (AP Photo/UC Davis, Anton Lim, File)

File - In this August, 12, 2012 file photo provided by the University of California, Davis, a Bunggal family member plays with Kabang the dog in the Philippines. A veterinarian at the University of California, Davis, has some good news about a dog from the Philippines who became an international hero after sacrificing its snout to save two young girls. Veterinarian Gina Davis says the dog named Kabang appears to have beaten the cancer it was suffering from. (AP Photo/UC Davis, Anton Lim, File)

DAVIS, Calif. (AP) ? A veterinarian at the University of California, Davis, has some good news about a dog from the Philippines who became an international hero after sacrificing her snout to save two young girls.

After completing six weekly intravenous chemotherapy infusions, Kabang appears to have beaten the cancer she was suffering from, Gina Davis, the primary care veterinarian at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in Davis, told the San Francisco Chronicle (

The dog, however, is still facing treatment for heartworms in her arteries before she can have the gaping wound on her face closed. Full treatment of that condition was put on hold during cancer therapy.

Kabang ? a female mongrel ? had the first of three arsenic-based heartworm shots on Dec. 4 and is expected to receive the other two in the second week of January, Davis said.

"It will be one to two months for her to recover from that before she goes in and has the surgery," Davis said.

Kabang had her snout and upper jaw sheared off when she jumped in front of a speeding motorcycle, saving her owner's daughter and niece from serious injury or death, according to newspaper reports in the Philippines.

The dog ended up in Davis earlier this year after a nurse from Buffalo, N.Y., spearheaded a fundraising campaign to bring her to the U.S. Veterinarians in the Philippines were apparently unable to treat her injuries.

Surgeons are planning to perform two or three procedures. The first will involve dental work, extractions and covering exposed roots.

They will then try to close the dog's wound and restore nasal functions. The dog's bony structures are currently exposed to air, increasing the chance of infection, Davis said.

Kabang may return to the Philippines in May or June. The bill for her treatment is expected to top $10,000.

Davis said despite Kabang's many conditions, the dog appears to be in good spirits.

"She has come through everything very well," Davis said. "Her appetite is still good. She's still bright and happy."


Information from: San Francisco Chronicle,


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