cindy's Blurty
 
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in cindy's Blurty:

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    Monday, April 11th, 2011
    4:55 pm
    Pistons' Joe Dumars safe, source says
    There will be changes in Detroit when Tom Gores officially takes over as owner of the Pistons.

    Dumars
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    One thing that won't change, however, is the man in charge.

    According to a source close to the situation, Pistons president Joe Dumars will keep his gig -- even after the ownership change.

    Gores, a billionaire California investor, agreed to buy the team Friday. He's expected to be approved by the NBA and take control of the franchise in June.

    Dumars has been team president since the 2000-2001 season and won an NBA championship in 2004. In 2002-2003, Dumars, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006, was named Executive of the Year for the Pistons (28-51), who will miss the postseason for the second straight year.

    It's been seven years since Dumars landed Rasheed Wallace in a trade-deadline deal. It was the missing piece that enabled the Pistons to win the NBA title and has served as Dumars' biggest get.

    But the pending ownership transition caps a more recent, tumultous turn of events highlighted by a public feud between veteran guard Richard Hamilton and coach John Kuester.
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    Saturday, March 26th, 2011
    11:29 am
    If Ford is smart, his firm will cease business with city
    Documents released this week confirm that the mayor’s family business has earned tens of thousands of dollars over the past decade doing business with the city he now leads.

    That may seem like a trifling thing. The contracts awarded to Etobicoke-based Deco Labels and Tags are small potatoes for a government with a budget of more than $9-billion. No one is suggesting that Deco got the business simply because Rob Ford was a city councillor. No one is saying that Mr. Ford exploited his influence to secure contracts for the company, which is a prominent name in its line of work and is quite capable of winning the business on its own merit.
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    Monday, March 21st, 2011
    4:38 pm
    After injury, former Baylor standout Udoh on right track with Warriors Read more: http://www.star-t
    Marred by a left wrist injury that occurred less than three weeks after the Golden State Warriors chose him with the sixth pick of last summer's NBA Draft, Udoh's first season has been more or less a time to simply get his feet under him.

    That's what missing the summer league, training camp and the first 22 games of the season did for the 23-year-old rookie from Baylor.

    "It was tough being out, and I'm still trying to get it right,'' Udoh said before Sunday's game against the Dallas Mavericks. "But you've got to just get better.''

    Warriors coach Keith Smart said Udoh wasn't able to secure some of the intangibles surrounding the NBA because of the wrist injury that required surgery.

    "Missing summer league and the first part of the season with training camp and all that, he didn't have that gamesmanship that you need to have at the position that he's going to play,'' Smart said. "I think sometimes when young big (players) come into the NBA he's still on the college mentality on how he defends people on the post.

    "I think as the season has moved on and now he's getting a chance to play more, he's getting a feel that he can be a little bit more physical in the NBA.''

    Udoh averages just 3.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in only 14.8 minutes per game. His best game thus far was a 16-point, seven-rebound showing against Phoenix on Feb. 10 when he converted 8 of 12 shots.

    Other than that, Udoh has played 20 or more minutes 11 times, he has seven or more rebounds three times, and two or more blocks 11 times.

    "The NBA's the best of the best and you've really got to prepare yourself,'' Udoh said. "But it's been going good.''

    Smart described Udoh as a willing worker and student of the game. He added that although Udoh is naturally a power forward, he also had to learn the center position, where he started Sunday against the Mavs.

    "Even when he was out he was a guy that was always focused and paying attention to what was going on,'' Smart said. "During a timeout he looks you right in the face, looks you right in the eye and wants to know for sure where he's supposed to be in a play offensively or defensively.

    "So he's on the right track and his experience is going to pay off for him this year that he's getting.''

    With only 12 games remaining for the Warriors this season, Udoh plans to spend a lot of his off-season in the weight room trying to buff up his slender 6-foot-10, 245-pound frame.

    "I've got to really get physical,'' he said. "I haven't been able to lift upper body weights like I want to due to the injury.

    "So this summer I'm just going to really hit the weights and just focus on in my game.''

    Smart indicated that Udoh also has to work on his conditioning.

    "His conditioning skills are not 100 percent there,'' he said. "I just think that the gamesmanship that he missed out on earlier in the year probably set him back a little bit.

    "So he's still probably a couple of weeks behind in his conditioning, but he's done a great job. He trains, he runs, he does everything that's necessary.''

    Udoh is shooting only 43.2 percent from the field. An improvement in that category, Smart insists, is on the horizon.

    "He surprised me with the little mid-range jump shot and a few of his post-ups around the basket with some moves,'' Smart said. "Now the percentage is not high there, and I want to get him there where he's rebounding well from a rebounding standpoint, but that'll come with time and experience.

    "But he's on the right track, moving at the right pace. I thought he need to get himself in better conditioning before he gets a chance to start playing 25-39 minutes a night, and he has done that.''

    Udon on Baylor's fortunes

    Ekpe Udoh’s dominance around the paint and shot-blocking skills helped lead Baylor to within one win of reaching last year’s NCAA Final Four.

    The Bears finished last season with a school single-season record 28 wins against eight losses. And not long after Baylor’s miracle season ended with a 78-71 loss to Duke in the Elite 8, Udoh announced he would forgo his senior season with the Bears to declare for the NBA Draft.

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    Monday, March 14th, 2011
    5:02 pm
    British food exports topped £10bn in 2010
    The figures, unveiled by the Food and Drink Federation, are also evidence that consumers overseas, especially in Asia, are increasingly developing a taste for British produce, from shortbread biscuits and haggis-flavoured biscuits to sausages and ice cream.

    In 2010, food and non-alcoholic drink exports increased by 11.4 per cent to £10.8 billion, with particularly strong growth to Asia, with exports to China increasing by 29 per cent.

    Dairy products to china – cream, ice cream, and milk drinks – were one of the main reasons for this growth, as Chinese middle-class consumers jumped at the opportunity to buy Western imports, in the wake of the Melamine-tainted milk scandal. Chinese manufacturers were found to have used illegal quantities of melamine to boost the protein content of milk, killing six children and causing 300,000 to become ill in 2008.

    The two biggest categories were fresh fish, with £382 million of exports and chocolate, with £376 million.

    The pound, which has remained weak against the dollar for the past two years, has helped many exporters, narrowing Britain's trade deficit.

    Other notable increase in exports included Breakfast cereals, Eat Natural fruit and nut bars, Britvic selling its Tango brand to Mongolia and Robinsons barley water to Thailand.

    Karin Hayhow, the marketing director, of Mackie's of Scotland, which has started selling its ice cream and crisps to south east Asia, said: "Singapore is a big snacking country, second only to America. And many consumers out there actively seek out imported brands."

    Food and Farming Minister Jim Paice said: “This is excellent news – showing Britain that our food and drink industries are real areas of strength and growth at the same time as showing the world how good our food is. People now recognise that Britain produces some of the best food you can get anywhere."
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    Thursday, March 10th, 2011
    4:43 pm
    Two years, two sports, too bad Pat White
    In the span of less than two years, second-round draft choice Pat White not only couldn't stick with the Miami Dolphins, but also has dropped an entirely different sport.

    White didn't show up for spring training with the Kansas City Royals and has informed the team he's retiring from baseball.

    The Dolphins had big expectations when they drafted White 44th overall out of West Virginia in 2009. He was a dual-threat quarterback, brought in to augment their chic Wildcat offense. Only he wasn't a strong enough runner or an accurate enough passer in the NFL.

    White played 13 games his rookie season. He ran 21 times for 81 yards. Take out his longest attempt of 33 yards and he averaged 2.4 yards a carry. White didn’t complete any of his five pass attempts and was sacked once.

    White's 2010 training camp began mysteriously. He showed up a day late. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel spoke to White's brother, who informed the paper he was dealing with a serious off-field issue that never came to light.

    The Dolphins waived White as part of their final cuts, opting not to keep a fourth quarterback in addition to Chad Henne, Chad Pennington and Tyler Thigpen.

    White turned to baseball, with the Royals assigning him to their Fall Instructional League.

    He'd been selected in the Major League Baseball draft four times: fourth round by the Los Angeles Angels in 2006, 24th round by the Angels in 2007, seventh round by the Cincinnati Reds in 2008 and the 48th round by the New York Yankees in 2009.
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    Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
    4:15 pm
    IBM Chief Palmisano’s Compensation Rises to $31.7 Million
    International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) Chief Executive Officer Sam Palmisano’s compensation increased 30 percent last year as the company exceeded its four- year earnings target.

    Palmisano, 59, received $31.7 million in total compensation, including salary, stock awards and incentives, compared with $24.3 million a year earlier, the Armonk, New York-based company said today in a regulatory filing.

    The CEO’s non-stock incentive compensation almost doubled to $9 million as IBM increased its full-year profit to $11.52 a share, besting its goal of at least $10 set four years ago. Palmisano set another long-term target for the company last year, saying that operating earnings will almost double to $20 a share in 2015.

    IBM, the world’s biggest computer-services provider, fell $1.90 to $159.93 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have climbed 9 percent this year.

    Palmisano, who has led the company since March 2002, received $4.75 million in non-stock incentive pay in 2009.
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    Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
    3:45 pm
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    In what appears to be ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’, the Ado-Ekiti lawyers too, will 24 hours after the inauguration of the state-of-the-art-edifice, honour Afe Babalola, through a declaration of an Annual Public Lecture.

    The declaration, barring any last minute change, would be made on Friday.

    A statement issued by the Ado-Ekiti Bar and signed by its Chairman, Owoseni Ajayi, Secretary, Gbemiga Adaramola, and two others, Femi Ogunlade and Obafemi Adewale, both Chairmen, Honour & Awards and Law Week Committee stated that Babalola was being honoured due to his immense contributions to the humanity.

    To this end, the body in their letter entitled: “Immortalising Aare Afe Babalola -A declaration of an Annual Public Lecture by the NBA, Ado-Ekiti branch”, stated that seasoned topics to be delivered by celebrated legal icons, shall always be put in place to celebrate him throughout his life and thereafter.

    The letter reads: “The first-ever of this Annual Public Lecture is taking place on Friday, March 4, 2011 at Owolabi Hall of the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), and beginning from 10am.

    “The topic of the lecture is; The Role of Legal Profession in Promoting an Enduring Democratic Culture in Nigeria.”

    A retired Justice of the Supreme Court and distinguished jurist, Justice Pius Aderemi, would deliver the lecture, while Justice Moronkeji Omotayo Onalaja, also a retired Justice of the Court of Appeal and Chairman, Council of Legal Education, would chair the occasion.

    The inauguration of the Bar Center would be done by Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, while the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adejugbe Aladesanmi, would also perform the inauguration of the inner hall of the project.

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    3:43 pm
    Brian Fitz’s Free NBA Basketball Pick Against the Spread
    The New Orleans Hornets open up a five game road set as they visit the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.

    The New Orleans Hornets currently occupy the Western Conference 5th seed in what’s becoming a congested race for the 5-8 seeds. The Hornets are getting a little healthier with Emeka Okafor having returned to the lineup to complement David West underneath the hoop. The Hornets can’t afford to drop games against the likes of the Raptors with road games against the Knicks, Grizzlies, and Bulls awaiting on the trip.

    The Toronto Raptors are a disappointment that will occasionally pop up for a big performance as we most recently saw against Chicago last Wednesday. In typical fashion, Toronto responded in their next two home games by getting trounced by the Suns and Mavericks. It could be an indicator that their best games against good competition could be strictly EAST competition.

    With the Raptors only having five wins in the past two months and Hornets finding health at the right time, this looks like it should be a routine win for the visitor. The teams met in New Orleans on January 17th with the Hornets prevailing 85-81.

    If the number is right, I may be jumping on the home dog. I don’t expect the Hornets to secure the win in cruise control style as they should look to slow the tempo and play defense against a young and athletic Raptors team who can be a handful at times. Against strong West teams like the Spurs and Mavericks, the Raptors did hang very solidly for three of four quarters.
    Monday, February 28th, 2011
    2:24 pm
    its range-extending flights for the Air Force since 1956.
    Aerial refueling tankers aren't the most glamorous planes in the Air Force's arsenal, but they are the unsung heroes of the skies, giving fighters and bombers the mid-flight fill-ups they need to keep flying. With the current tanker fleet dating back to the 1950s, the Pentagon announced today that it has made its long-delayed decision about which company will build a new version, seemingly ending a decade-long scandal-filled saga to get a replacement refueling tanker off the ground.


    "We announce that the Air Force has selected the KC-X proposal provided by the Boeing Company," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley as he revealed that the Chicago-based company is the Pentagon's choice to build the next generation of the Air Force's airborne refueler.

    In giving the $35 billion contract to Boeing, the Air Force has forsaken the company's European arch rival EADS, the parent company of Airbus, which has been locked in a fierce competition with Boeing for the contract to replace the American company's aging refueling plane, the KC-135 Stratotanker, which has been flying its range-extending flights for the Air Force since 1956.


    The Air Force's much-anticipated decision today reversed one that it made less than three years ago. In fact, it was the third time that the Air Force had awarded the multi-billion dollar contract to build the mammoth planes to one of the same two competing companies: In 2001, the Air Force announced it would lease 100 tankers from Boeing, but the deal fell apart two years later after it was revealed that Boeing executives had offered a job to the Air Force acquisitions officer overseeing the contract.
    2:14 pm
    Shanghai Tightens Security Ahead of China ‘Jasmine’ Rallies
    The front entrance of Starbucks next to the Peace Cinema, which last week was packed with customers sitting outside the cafe, was closed today and it directed customers to enter from inside the Raffles City mall.

    A Starbucks employee called Maggie, as shown on her name tag, was standing outside the front door and said the outlet was told yesterday to remove chairs and tables from the front today and tomorrow. The reason was unknown, she said.

    Reporting Warning

    Several Beijing correspondents received phone calls from Chinese police asking them to “obey reporting rules” that require prior consent for interviews, according to an e-mailed statement yesterday by the Beijing-based Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China. The phone calls show there may be “tighter-than- usual” reporting conditions in Beijing tomorrow, it said.

    Prime Minister Wen Jiabao announced that he will hold an “online discussion” tomorrow morning. The discussion will be on the websites www.gov.cn and www.xinhuanet.com. The website http://ask1.news.cn/ is now open to questions for the premier.

    LinkedIn Corp., operator of the largest networking site for professionals, became accessible again in Beijing after a disruption of more than 24 hours
    2:06 pm
    There's a crisis of confidence in Black Caps
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    It is hard to say how much effect the tragic events of the past week had in the Black Caps' poor showing against Australia - but surely they had a hand in such a wayward display.

    I doubt whether the emotions; the touching minute's silence; the linking of arms at the start of each innings were conducive to the mental state required to take on Australia.

    That said, though, what we saw was more of the same from our struggling cricket team.

    To analyse that performance in isolation of the distracted build-up, seems a bit unfair - but nevertheless a game was played and once more it was played poorly on our behalf.

    I was completing a survey on New Zealand cricket the other day and one of the questions asked whether I agreed or disagreed with the statement that the Black Caps are inconsistent.

    I didn't know what to answer because the term inconsistent comes with negative connotations when in reality our team is quite consistent at this time ... consistently poor.

    Ignore performances against minnows like Kenya. Our cricketing heritage demands we benchmark against quality test-playing nations.

    Consistently, over the past couple of years, we have come up short.
    Friday, February 25th, 2011
    10:41 am
    NBA makes a power shift to all-star team
    The big names are on the move, forming new alliances in new cities to create the next formidable duo or trio on the basketball court.

    The trade deadline ended at 3 p.m. Thursday, after this story already was sent to press and probably after another big trade was made final.

    It happens every year, the big-trade frenzy as the deadline nears. Every team wants to land that blockbuster trade to improve its game attendance, jersey sales and team record.

    Last year, the Cleveland Cavaliers were the big-trade winners, snagging Antawn Jamison as LeBron James’ sidekick in what was their best shot at the championship. We all know how that turned out.

    Last offseason was anticipated several years in advance. It was the offseason LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, among others, could or would be free of their contracts. Some huge names moved to different teams, and some huge names moved to the same teams. We all know where LeBron took his talents, along with Bosh and Wade.

    This seems to be a new trend in basketball. Chris Paul declared he wants to play in New York with Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony last July. Speculators create hundreds of possible combinations of talent, creating the next conspiracy or the next Big Three.

    Is this a bad thing for the sport? It is changing the game somewhat, making front office decisions more important than ever before. But it’s hard to say that it’s actually bad for basketball.

    The Miami Heat have the third-best record in the league, second in the conference and lead the Southeastern Division. Miami gained millions of haters this season; LeBron and Wade gained millions of critics, including basketball legends like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. But do they deserve the heat they’re taking for putting together a super-team?

    The Celtics received little criticism in 2007, when Kevin Garnett and Allen joined Pierce in Boston. And the only notable difference seems to be the front office pulling off the trades instead of the players planning their futures together. The decision clearly paid off, considering that the Celtics won the 2008 championship, reached the 2010 Finals and now lead the Eastern Conference.

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    Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
    11:22 am
    Survey: Customer satisfaction score for online travel websites improves
    Customers are more satisfied with online travel websites than ever, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index report released Tuesday.

    The online travel industry reached an all-time high index score of 78 out of 100 for 2010, up slightly from 77 in the previous year.

    The index scores for various industries, including travel and retail websites and online brokerage companies, are updated annually in the fourth quarter. The index was developed at the University of Michigan, and the university spun it off last year as a separate company.

    Expedia scored the highest among online travel websites. Its score of 79 was unchanged from 2009.

    Travelocity's score improved the most, jumping to 77 from 75 in 2009. Orbitz scored 75, down from 76. Priceline fell to 73 from 76.

    Other smaller travel websites, including Kayak and Bookit.com, collectively scored 79 vs. 78 in 2009.

    "From 2005 to 2008, the industry was on a declining trend," says Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee Results, which worked on the index. "But now, they have reversed that trend. This is not welcome news to competitors of this industry. Customers like being able to compare competing flight options and prices on a single site, and customers are far more satisfied with online travel companies than they are with airlines overall."

    American Airlines recently pulled its flights from Orbitz and Expedia to steer customers to its own channels and avoid paying distribution fees. Delta also pulled its flights from smaller online travel companies.

    Airlines, which are measured every June, scored 66, one of the lowest scores among the industries the index includes.

    Priceline's score dropped because of its "pricing approach," the report says. "Priceline's aggressive pricing has resulted in high revenues over the past year, but their drop in score tells us that the future is not as bright," Freed writes of the auction site. "Their pricing approach may not be as valuable to consumers as the economy has stabilized."

    "We believe that saving money is still very much front and center with leisure travelers in this economy," Priceline spokesman Brian Ek responded in an e-mail.

    Customer satisfaction with e-commerce is down from 81.4 in 2009 to 79.3 last year, the lowest since 2004.
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    Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
    10:07 am
    Senators pass travel alert system bill
    Senate Bill 267 written by Fort Wayne's Tom Wyss

    Updated: Monday, 14 Feb 2011, 7:16 PM EST
    Published : Monday, 14 Feb 2011, 7:16 PM EST

    INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) - Senate lawmakers voted unanimously Monday in favor of legislation creating a standard travel alert system in Indiana.

    Republican Senator Tom Wyss is the author of Senate Bill 267. It now moves to the House for further consideration.



    “Currently, we have counties following different emergency alert policies which is confusing for residents, media and emergency personnel,” Wyss said. “It’s critical Indiana implements a simple travel alert system that’s easy for all Hoosiers to understand.”



    Wyss said he crafted the proposal after severe winter storms which hit the state earlier this month underscored the need for a uniform emergency alert system across the state.



    Wyss’ proposal would place key terms describing local travel advisories – already established and recommended by the Department of Homeland Security – in Indiana Code:



    * “Advisory” or routine travel may be restricted in areas;
    * “Watch” or conditions are threatening to public safety and only essential travel – like driving to and from work – is recommended; and
    * “Warning” – the highest advisory level – meaning travel is restricted to emergency personnel only.
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    Saturday, February 12th, 2011
    4:14 pm
    Indian markets expensive relative to Southeast Asia: Sashi Krishnan, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance
    No, we do not get scared by corrections in the market. In fact, we see corrections in the market as an opportunity because we are long-term investors and strategically we are bullish on India and these kinds of corrections are actually very big opportunity for us. We still have close to 20% of our large cap and mid cap portfolios in cash and we will get an opportunity to deploy this cash as markets correct.

    Does it seem like the climax for the index at least is still pending and that we are going to continue to see EPFR and ETF outflows?

    As far as ETF outflows are concerned, all the signals that I can read at this point of time seem to suggest that they will continue. I see a fairly large numbers of ETF outflows not only in India but across emerging markets as a whole. Even China has seen close to $1.5 billion of ETF outflows. India could have seen something like 400 billion of ETF outflows over the last couple of years.

    ETF outflows are fundamentally a function of the fact that the view on the rupee is still negative. People expect the rupee to depreciate and the fact that on a relative basis, there are other markets - emerging as well as developed - that are looking more interesting than India. So ETF outflows will not stop in a hurry and, therefore, possibly avoiding stocks where the FIIs and the ETFs are overweight could be a reasonable strategy at this point of time.

    We are seeing incremental selling in pockets like IT which were sort of stalwarts up until now and the last hope now seems to be caving in. How would you use this opportunity? Would you buy into IT stocks or would you book profit?

    Some part of the selling that could come into IT stems from the fact that a lot of stocks that are overowned by the foreign investment institutions and the emerging market funds could come in for some sort of selling. That could be one of the reasons why you are seeing selling in IT. But if you look at it from a long-term growth perspective, we do believe that the opportunities in IT still remain. This is because any recovery that you see in the US economy will clearly benefit the IT sector. We also understand from our conversations with IT companies that the spending that a lot of the large US banks will be making in IT over the next couple of years seems to be on the rise. This will clearly benefit the IT sector. So from a fundamental perspective, we would still look at investing into IT and especially if they correct significantly now.
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    10:36 am
    Travelocity mistake leads to hotel's bad review
    Before we buy, before we try, most of us will now hop on the internet to suss it all out.

    Especially with hotels and motels.

    Sites like Trip Advisor are hugely popular. Travellers post reviews, letting others know what's good, what's bad, and sometimes what's downright horrific about the hotel they've just stayed in.

    If you search on Trip Advisor for the Rees hotel in Queenstown most of the reviews are glowing - so good that the Rees is currently ranked number 5 out of 61 hotels in the town.

    But at any time in the last two years if you'd searched on Travelocity - another online travel portal - you would have been shocked with what you were reading. There the Rees was, according to guests, a "hotel to avoid at all cost".

    So who's right and who's wrong? Jendy Harper investigates.

    Watch the video.
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    Friday, February 11th, 2011
    10:29 am
    Lessons from Egypt: Double-check tours and travel insurance coverage
    Most travelers would rather spend their time seeing Egypt's pyramids or cruising the Nile than thinking about the consequences of a major tourist destination turning into a battle zone, literally overnight.

    Hundreds of thousands of Americans travel safely every year to far-flung parts of the world - including countries such as Nepal, Mexico, Kenya and Israel for which the U.S. government now has travel warnings in place.

    But hot spots are just that, and traveling always carries some risk. When things go wrong, as they did in Egypt recently, it pays to know what tour companies, cruise lines and travel insurers will and won't do for you.

    -Tours

    Most tour companies have canceled and offered refunds for trips to Egypt in February. Some, but not all, have extended those policies through March. Less clear is what will happen to those who booked trips and paid deposits for trips later in the year.

    The luxury tour company Abercrombie & Kent canceled 16 Egypt tours and cruises through March. It's providing a full refund or, for those who want to travel later to Egypt or another destination, a credit plus a 10-percent discount on the new trip.

    If things improve and the U.S. State Department lifts its warning issued Jan. 30 advising Americans not to travel in Egypt, Abercrombie and most other tour operators will likely go ahead with their trips.

    For now, at least, most companies are sticking to their normal cancellation policies for trips beyond February or March. In Abercrombie's case, that's a $500 per person penalty to cancel within 90 days of departure - or customers can choose another trip.

    "Most are opting to postpone their trips until the fall or are switching destinations," said Abercrombie's Pamela Lassers. New Hampshire-based General Tours at first canceled its Egypt trips through March, offering those booked in February a full refund, and those booked in March the choice of rebooking a trip later, or accepting a travel credit good for a year.

    It revised that policy when it decided this week to suspend all of its tours there through May. Customers were given the option of taking a full cash refund, or a credit, along with a 15 percent discount, to be applied towards a tour to any destination over the next two years.

    -Cruises

    If you've paid for a cruise scheduled to stop at ports in Egypt and Tunisia (also rocked by protests) in the near future, chances are you'll be stopping elsewhere.

    Until things settle down, major lines will be bypassing those ports and calling instead at ports in Jordan, Turkey, Greece and Israel.

    Unless a line cancels an entire cruise, such as a Nile River trip, don't expect any compensation. The "Terms & Conditions" written into cruise contracts allow lines to skip ports or change their itineraries for any reason.

    -Travel insurance

    Many travelers were surprised to find out that most insurance policies don't include civil unrest in their trip cancellation/interruption coverage.

    One exception is the American Express Global Travel Shield classic plan. If you're planning a trip to Egypt and haven't yet bought travel insurance, the coverage no longer applies because the company now considers civil unrest there a "foreseeable event." But its coverage, broader than most companies offer, is something to consider for trips to other destinations.

    A few other types of polices cover the costs of trip delays caused by civil disorder, just as they do for weather or strikes. They include reimbursement for additional hotel nights, meals and local transportation.

    "Cancel for Any Reason" insurance policies provide coverage for civil unrest, but Washington state allows only a handful of companies to sell these policies, and they're expensive. Standard travel insurance adds 4 to 8 percent to the cost of a trip. "Cancel for Any Reason" coverage can cost 50 percent more, and reimburses only 50 to 75 percent of prepaid trip costs.

    Just as many insurers added terrorism coverage to their plans after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, some may look at adding civil unrest, says Vikki Corliss, of Insuremytrip.com, a website that compares and sells insurance policies for 19 major companies.

    "I think it is safe to assume that the industry as a whole is assessing the situation in the Middle East and determining how better to meet the needs that are resulting from it," Corliss said.

    TRAVELERS' TIPS:

    STATE DEPARTMENT ADVICE: Most tour operators will cancel trips when the U.S. State Department issues a warning advising against travel. Check www.travel.state.gov for specific advice on countries.

    TRAVEL INSURANCE: Most types of trip cancellation/interruption insurance don't cover civil unrest. If you're worried that a political uprising could affect your travel plans, consider "Cancel for Any Reason" coverage, but keep in mind that this type of insurance is expensive and provides only partial reimbursement.

    PAY WITH A CREDIT CARD: Pay for tours and cruises with a Visa or MasterCard credit card. Should the tour operator cancel a tour and not offer a refund, you can dispute the payment under what's called a "delayed delivery" clause that provides reimbursement for services paid for - a flight or a tour - but not delivered.

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    Saturday, January 29th, 2011
    11:28 am
    What's best in travel — after 40 million reviews
    The world's "best" hotel? The Golden Well (U Zlate Studne) in Prague, say ordinary travelers like you. That's the result of TripAdvisor's recently released scoring of reviews travelers post on its site. And TripAdvisor has the numbers to back up the ratings: With more than 40 million reviews, it's by far the Internet's largest compiler of user-based hotel and resort reviews.

    In total, TripAdvisor's analysts identified 676 Travelers' Choice Awards worldwide, ranked in eight categories:

    Best bargain: Seacoast Inn, Hyannis, Mass.

    Best luxury (4- and 5-star hotels): Golden Well (U Zlate Studne), Prague, Czech Republic

    Best for service: Anastasis Apartments, Santorini, Greece
    Best B&B and inn: The Old Manse, Invermoriston, Scotland

    Best for romance: Capella Ixtapa, Guerrero, Mexico

    Best all-inclusive: Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, Playa Paraiso, Mexico

    Best relaxation and spa: Adler Thermae Spa Resort, San Quirico d'Orcia, Italy

    Trendiest hotel (whatever that means): citizenM Amsterdam City, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    The site posts separate scores for U.S. hotels and inns in five categories:

    Best luxury: Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Wailea, Hawaii

    Best B&B: Sedona Views Bed-and-Breakfast, Sedona, Ariz.

    Best for romance: Spindrift Inn, Monterey, Calif.

    Best relaxation and spa: Bardessono, Napa Valley, Calif.

    Trendiest hotel: W Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

    But "best" doesn't come cheap: Outside of the "bargain" and "bed-and-breakfast" categories, average rates at the top spots are upwards of $250 a night. I suspect that most of you who read this column will be more interested in two other categories:

    Bargain hunters probably will be most interested in the best bargains in the U.S., and they may be a bit surprised to see that three of them are units of large chains: Sea Coast Inn (also world's best); Cedarbrook Lodge, Seattle, Wash.; Historic Route 66 Motel, Tucumcari, N.M.; Profile Motel, Lincoln, N.H.; Mount Coolidge Motel, Lincoln, N.H.; La Quinta Inn, St. George, Utah; Palm Springs Rendezvous, Palm Springs, Calif., Drury Inn, Greenville, S.C.; Clarion Inn, Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and The Motor Lodge, Prescott, Ariz.

    TripAdvisor shows separate Top 10 bargain scores for hotels in Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, the Caribbean and Mexico, Africa, Canada and India.

    Travelers considering an all-inclusive resort also will welcome independent reviews in a segment where many first-time visitors may not have a clue as to their best options. Tops here are Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, Riviera Maya, Mexico; Gargona Safari Camp, South Africa; Le Blanc Spa Resort, Cancun, Mexico; Drowsy Water Ranch, Granby, Colo.; Nukubati Private Island, Fiji; East Winds Inn, St. Lucia; Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera, Cancun, Mexico; Ceylon Tea Trains, Sri Lanka; Iberostar Grand Bavaro, Dominican Republic; and The Caves, Negril, Jamaica.

    For more detail, visit tripadvisor.com, click "The Best Hotels 2011" on the home page, and check out the categories that interest you. You can also use links on the site to find prices.

    I suspect that these awards will get a lot of ink in the travel press. And they will raise the "usual suspects" argument about the relative merits of hotel reviews generated by ordinary consumers compared with those generated by "expert" writers:

    Overall, I come down on the side of consumer-generated reviews. Sure, they may be based on highly subjective responses, often to trivial factors, but there is great safety in the huge numbers that TripAdvisor generates.

    Expert reviews can be more discriminating and at least should reflect consistent standards. But in my experience, hotels tend to steer "expert" reviewers to their most expensive rooms and overemphasize public rooms that mean little or nothing to average consumers.

    Fortunately, you don't have to choose between one and the other: Check out other review sites such as igougo.com, travelpost.com and mytravelguide.com), and develop your own conclusions.
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    Friday, January 28th, 2011
    12:55 pm
    Alleged Foley basher to travel to NSW
    The man accused of bashing South Australia's embattled Treasurer Kevin Foley to the ground outside a nightspot will be allowed to leave the state to work in NSW.

    Ante Tony Grgich, 29, of the Adelaide suburb of Rosewater, appeared briefly in the Adelaide Magistrate's Court on Friday charged with committing a basic offence of assault that causes harm.

    He was charged nine days ago with king hitting Mr Foley outside the Marble Bar in Adelaide's CBD early in the morning of November 28.
    Advertisement: Story continues below

    No plea was entered on Friday during his brief appearance in a courtroom packed with journalists.

    Both Grgich's lawyer Martin Anders and police prosecutor Fred Wojtasik sought more time to examine the allegations and respond to queries.

    Mr Anders applied to vary Grgich's bail conditions to allow his client to work in NSW.

    Magistrate Bill Ackland agreed to allow Grgich to live with his mother when he travelled interstate for work.

    "(I) give him permission to leave the state for remunerated employment," the magistrate said.

    Grgich was ordered to be present when the case returns to court on March 24.

    He did not respond to questions outside the court.

    Mr Foley, who is overseas on a work trip, has said the alleged attack occurred as he was seeking a taxi after a long day of facing protests, calls for leadership change at the ALP state conference and his staff Christmas party.

    It left him battered, bruised and unable to act as deputy premier while Premier Mike Rann was overseas.

    It also prompted speculation about Mr Foley's future in politics - and jockeying for position has been rife in Labor ranks following his recent announcement that he will not contest the next state election.
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    Thursday, January 27th, 2011
    1:13 pm
    Wichita State (16-4, 7-2) at Southern Illinois (10-10, 4-5)
    Tonight’s Game... Wichita State travels to Southern Illinois in the first meeting between the two teams this season.
    •WSU is coming off a three-overtime, 93-83, win against Indiana State on Saturday night. WSU’s last road game was a 68-54 win at Drake.
    •WSU’s 4-0 overall league start prior to the MSU loss was the best since 1982-83 when the Shockers started 5-0 in MVC play.
    •WSU has sold out three ofthe last four home games and had won 32-straight regular-season home games prior to the MSU loss.

    Television... Mitch Holthus calls the action while Rich Zvosec serves as analyst on the MVC-TV, 6 p.m. telecast. The game marks the eighth of 15-straight televised games for the Shockers, which could stretch to 19-plus should the Bracketbusters game Feb. 19 be televised. WSU is 11-4 in televised games to date.

    The Series... The two teams meet for the 81st time in a series that SIU leads 46-34. WSU won both meetings in 2009-10.

    On WSU Head Coach Gregg Marshall... The veteran coach is in his fourth season at WSU and brought WSU from 11 wins his first season to 25 wins in 2010. The Shockers returned all but one starter off a team that played in the postseason NIT, received votes in the AP poll and advanced to the MVC Tournament title game. He carries a 261-134 career record in 12-plus seasons as a head coach, and a 68-51 record at WSU.

    Next Outing... The Shockers play host to Bradley in the second meeting between the two teams this season. WSU won the first meeting, 79-63, on Jan. 1, in Peoria. The game is set to be televised on ESPNU.

    Last Time Out... A sellout crowd watched Wichita State pull out a 93-83 triple-overtime win against Indiana State Saturday at Charles Koch Arena. The Shockers outscored Indiana State, 12-2, in the third overtime period.
    Saturday’s win marked the Shockers’ first triple-overtime victory in Shocker history and just the third triple-overtime game played by Wichita State.
    Garrett Stutz led the Shockers with 16 points, and added seven rebounds. Senior forward Gabe Blair posted a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Aaron Carter scored 16 points to lead the Sycamores.

    Durley Toughs It Out... Despite getting a bone bruise on his foot against UNI, WSU senior J.T. Durley averaged a team-leading 13.5 points in WSU’s two games last week. He also averaged 4.5 rebounds and shot 52.6 percent (10-19) from the field for the week.

    Ragland Excelling... Junior guard Joe Ragland averaged 10.5 points while shooting 57.1 percent form the field. Against UNI, he scored nine points, and against Indiana State he had 12 points, which included 8-of-10 from the line.

    OT Me... When Wichita State defeated Indiana State in three overtimes, 93-83 on Saturday night, it was the third, three-overtime game the Shockers had played in history, and the first in Wichita. WSU had previously played two road three-overtime games, a 94-92 loss at Nebraska on Dec. 10, 1968, and a 76-72 loss at Cleveland State on Dec. 29, 1972.

    Durley Climbing... Senior J.T. Durley is climbing the WSU career charts, and ranks 27th for career points with 1,143, tied for seventh with 82 blocked shots, and 22nd with 59 three pointers.

    Murry Reaching for 1,000...WSU junior Toure Murry needs seven points to reach 1,000 for his career. He opened the season with 792 points and has scored 201 to date for 993 overall. He will be the second Shocker to reach 1,000 this season (Senior J.T. Durley) and the 40th overall.

    90s Works, too... With the 93-83 win against Indiana State, Gregg Marshall is now 12-0 when his teams have scored 90-plus points in his 12-plus seasons as a head coach, including a 3-0 record at Wichita State.

    Kyles Still Ticking... David Kyles’ surrendered the WSU cumulative scoring lead for the first time this year to J.T. Durley after the Indiana State game and is the Shockers’ second-leading scorer at 11.3 points a game.

    Shockers Love the 70s...The Shockers are shooting 73.1 percent from the line through 20 games, which would rank third all-time on the season team free throw percentage list if the season stopped today.
    Last year, WSU shot a WSU-record-high 74.6 percent from the line. Joe Ragland (90.3) and Toure Murry (81.3) leads WSU in free throw percentage.

    The Road... Wichita State has won the first four-straight MVC road games of the season for the first time since 1964-65 with the wins at Creighton and at Drake in the last outings.

    Rebound Margin... Since Gregg Marshall arrived, WSU has out-rebounded 92 of 120 opponents, which includes all but the San Diego State game this season. WSU now carries a plus-9.5 rebound margin, which ranks sixth in the NCAA.

    Academic Shockers...Nine Wichita State men’s basketball players were named to the Fall 2010 WSU Athletic Director’s honor roll this week, which is the most since there were also nine in the Spring of 2003. Since the Fall of 1984 there have only been the two times where nine players had a semester GPA of 3.0 or better. In addition, the overall GPA of the team is the best since 2002. The players on this semester’s AD’s honor roll are Gabe Blair, Derek Brown, Graham Hatch, Toure Murry, Ehimen Orukpe, Ben Smith, Garrett Stutz, Randall Vautravers and Josh Walker.

    No Votes for the First Time... WSU is not receiving votes this week (Jan. 24) for the first time this season.
    Last week, Jan. 17, WSU recieved votes which equated to 39th in the ESPN/ USA Today voting section and 43rd in the AP Poll.
    •On Jan. 10, WSU was 42nd in ESPN/USA Today and 44th in AP poll.
    •On Jan. 3, WSU was 31st in ESPN/USA Today and 33rd in AP poll.
    •On Dec. 27, WSU was 35th in ESPN/USA Today and 37th in AP poll.
    •On Dec. 20, WSU was 40th in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
    •On Dec. 3, WSU was 40th in ESPN/USA Today and 39th in the AP poll.
    •On Nov. 29 WSU was 39th and 42nd in the two polls, respectively.
    •On Nov.22, WSU was 34th in the getting votes section of both polls
    •WSU was 33rd in both polls released Nov. 15.
    •WSU’s votes put them at No. 32 in the Preseason ESPN Top 25 listing.

    Last Time Ranked/Getting Votes...Prior to this season, WSU last received votes in the Feb. 8, 2010 AP Top 25 poll, which marked the fourth week in the 2000-10 season, and had five points for the second-straight week. WSU also had five points in the Feb. 1, 2010 AP Top 25 poll.
    Earlier in 2009-10, WSU also received votes in both the Dec. 21 and Dec. 28 AP Top 25 polls after the Texas Tech win. WSU also got one point in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 poll Dec. 28. Prior to that, WSU last received votes on Jan. 8, 2007.
    WSU was last ranked Dec. 25, 2006 (16th in the AP after a season high of 8th). WSU’s highest ranking was No. 1 for two games in 1964-65. WSU has six times played the No. 1 team in the country.

    Marshall Loves the 80s... Gregg Marshall is 68-3 in his career when his teams score 80 or more points, which includes a 13-0 record in the last three-plus seasons at WSU. He is also 12-0 when his teams have scored 90-plus points in his 12-plus seasons as a head coach.

    Stutz’ Double... Seven-foot center Garrett Stutz scored his second 20-point game of his career with 20 points against Tulsa, which marked his second such outing of his career. He scored his career-high 22 points in the third game of his freshman year. He had three double-figure scoring games that season, 13 a year ago, and now has six this season.

    One-and-Two... Junior guard Toure Murry continues to mix time at the point and off-guard, while averaging a team-third 10.1 points a game and a team-first 3.5 assists per game. He is also second in rebounding with 5.0 a game.

    Durley 39th Shocker to Reach 1,000... J.T. Durley jumped right out of the gate against Nicholls State with a jumper from the elbow and then followed that up with a three-point play off of a rebound put-back. A three-pointer from the left wing at the 16:35 mark gave WSU an 8-0 lead and Durley 1,002 career points. He became the 39th Shocker to reach 1,000 points, and enters tonight’s game with 1,143 career points and is currently 27th on WSU’s all-time list. He came into the season needing 89 points to reach 1,000.

    Rebound Margin... WSU out-rebounded high-caliber opponents in Maui by plus-10 a game (38.3- 28.3). The Shockers continued that streak upon returning to Kansas, out-rebounding both UMKC and Chicago State, but were out-boarded for the first time this season at SDSU, 36-27. WSU got back on track against Nicholls State, Alabama A&M and LSU with a plus-16 margin, plus-21 margin and plus-five, respectively. WSU then topped Tulsa, 35-21; Evansville, 38-24; Bradley, 42-32; Drake, 43-33; Illinois State, 40-33; Missouri State, 40-32; Creighton, 38-27; Drake, 45-20; and UNI, 27-19. WSU was last out-rebounded by Indiana State in the triple-overtime win, 51-46. That brought the Marshall Era total to 92 times out of 120 that WSU has out-rebounded opponents. WSU is plus- 9.5 to date.



    Two Preseason All-Valley...Shocker junior guard Toure’ Murry represents Wichita State on the 2010-11 MVC Preseason All-Conference Team. Murry, who stands 6-foot-5, is Wichita State’s top returning scorer. The guard from Houston, Texas averaged 11.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game last season. Senior center/forward J.T. Durley, from Pittsburg, Texas, received MVC Preseason All-Conference Honorable Mention for the Shockers. Durley, who stands 6-foot-8, averaged 11.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 2009-10. The Shockers were last picked to win the league in 2003-04 and won their most recent regular-season title in 2006.

    MVC Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll
    School (First-Place Votes) Total
    1 Wichita State (33), 382; 2 Missouri State (1), 313; 3 UNI (3), 289; 4 Creighton, 282; 5 Bradley (2), 264; 6 Illinois State, 165; 7 Indiana State, 136; 8 Drake, 121; 9 Southern Illinois, 120; 10 Evansville, 73.

    2010-11 MVC Preseason All-Conference Team
    Kwadzo Ahelegbe, UNI; Kenny Lawson Jr., Creighton (Preseason Player of the Year); Sam Maniscalco, Bradley; Toure’ Murry, Wichita State; Kyle Weems, Missouri State; Josh Young, Drake; HM: Taylor Brown, Bradley; J.T. Durley, Wichita State; Adam Leonard, Missouri State; Colt Ryan, Evansville; Seth VanDeest, Drake; Andrew Warren, Bradley

    Reserved Season Tickets Sold Out... Wichita State’s reserved season tickets for the 2010-11 home season are sold out. WSU sold more than 8,500 reserved season tickets and surpassed the 2009-10 total by more than 100. MVC singe games are now on sale.

    Hall of Fame Induction Set Jan. 29...Wichita State All-Americans Tim Raley, Travis Wyckoff, Sara Younes and Ryan Barkdull will be inducted into Wichita State University’s 2011 Pizza Hut Shocker Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is scheduled for halftime of Wichita State’s 1:05 p.m., Jan. 29, men’s basketball game against Bradley, while a luncheon is set for 6:30 p.m., Jan. 28, in the Charles Koch Arena Champions Club. Cost for the dinner is $25 per person, and paid reservations must be made to the Shocker Ticket Office no later than Fri., Jan. 21, 2011 by calling 316/978-FANS, or in person at the WSU Ticket Office located on the south side of Charles Koch Arena.

    Fall, 2010 Wichita State Signees... Fourth-year head coach Gregg Marshall has announced the signing of Carl Hall, Tekele (Ta-KALE) Cotton, Evan Wessel and Jake White to National Letters-of-Intent to play men’s basketball at Wichita State beginning with the 2011-12 season.
    Hall, a six-foot-eight forward from Cochran, Ga., will come to WSU after a two-year junior college career. He played one season at Middle Georgia College and was MVP of the NJCAA regional tournament and named to the first-team all-region. He averaged 18.6 points and 11.3 rebounds per game last season. Over the summer hetransferred to Northwest Florida State in Niceville, Fla., where he will play his sophomore season in 2010-11. He was named the top junior college transfer in the country, according to the Northwest Florida State College web site. He joins a team that is ranked No. 1 in the State of Florida and No. 5 in the NJCAA.
    Wessel, a 6-foot-5 guard, plays at Heights High School in Wichita. He averaged 12.4 points per game, 5.2 assists per game, and 7.3 rebounds per game as a junior and was named second team All-Class 6A and All-City League. Heights High School has won back-to-back state championships under the guidance of Wessel.
    White, a 6-foot-8 forward from Chaska, Minn., averaged 21.4 points and 10.4 rebounds as a junior.
    Cotton, a 6-foot-2 guard, plays at Whitefield Academy in Georgia. The Atlanta Tipoff Club named Cotton one of 30 players on the All-Metro Team. He was also named honorable mention Class A in Georgia. Cotton averaged 15 points, seven rebounds, and four assists as a junior.
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