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The Reason Cristiano Ronaldo Refuses To Get A Tattoo Might Surprise You

Athletes love their ink – but not Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who is adamant he will never get a tattoo.

His reason may surprise you.

why cristiano ronaldo does not have tattoos
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Regarded by many as an arrogant pretty boy, Ronaldo has made substantial donations to help children with debilitating diseases.

That’s right, he passes on the permanent ink so he can continue to donate blood.

In many countries around the world, tattoos can impact a person’s eligibility to give blood due to risks of cross-contamination and hepatitis.

“I don’t have tattoos because I donate blood very often,” Ronaldo told the Diretta News.

why cristiano ronaldo does not have tattoos
Getty Images

In 2015, Ronaldo was named the world’s most charitable sportsperson, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

In June, he donated his €600,000 Champions League win bonus to good causes.

One month later after winning the Euro Cup with Portugal, he donated his £275,000 Euro bonus to a Kids Cancer foundation.

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Walking out to protest gun violence? Robert De Niro just wrote a note to your principal.

On April 20, students from more than 2,500 schools nationwide will walk out of their classrooms to protest gun violence.

At 10 a.m. on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, students across the country will drop what they’re doing and leave their classrooms behind as part of the National School Walkout.

The walkout is continuing an important national conversation that has begun in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Teens are refusing to let the debate fade from public consciousness until gun laws change.

Students will participate in a variety of activities organized by the leaders of that school’s walkouts. While some may return to class —  several school districts have already issued statements saying that not doing so will result in disciplinary action — others will march on their local lawmakers’ offices, call on the government for widespread gun reform, and register people to vote.

Some will, in accordance with the wishes of the officials at Columbine, participate in a day of service.

The protests have received widespread support. But one actor went even further to stand in solidarity with America’s students.

Photo by Karim Sahid/AFP/Getty Images.

Robert De Niro, a vocal critic of the NRA and now ally to the #NeverAgain movement, has penned an absence note for anyone who’s planning to take part in the walkout.

Didn’t expect De Niro to be the one to get all those students out of class? He’s got compelling reasons.

The letter, shared by the National School Walkout’s official Twitteropens with an appeal to educators to understand that they and De Niro want “a safe nurturing environment for [student] education and growth.” Then, De Niro outlined all the reasons he’s asked educators to excuse his children in the past, making it clear how those reasons are relevant to the walkout.

“Gun violence is a devastating disease,” he wrote under the heading of “health.” De Niro goes on to make the case that the walkout is an example of good citizenship — “This is what good citizenship is all about” — and education.

“What an opportunity to teach these kids history by encouraging them to make history,” De Niro stated. “Let them learn about the American tradition of protest for change as they experience it.”

View image on Twitter

Would most principals accept this letter? No. But it’s an urgent reminder to stand with the students.

The walkout is important. There’s no argument about that.

But it’s not about just a call for change; it’s a demand that, as a country, we don’t become desensitized to gun violence. The walkout’s creator, high school sophomore Lane Murdock, lives just miles from Newtown, Connecticut, the site of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. She said the idea for the walkout came to her after she realized that her own reaction to the February 2018 shooting at Parkland wasn’t one of sadness or fear.

“I really felt quite numb to it. Our whole country is pretty desensitized to gun violence and once I realized I was, too, it really scared me,” she told USA Today. “I was no longer surprised that people were dying. That shouldn’t be the case.”

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Survivors of gun violence call for change at the March for our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. in March 2018. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

De Niro’s note is a good start, but here’s hoping that parents and adults see it and decide to write notes of their own — or, even better, also sit down with their teens to discuss what the walkout means and the impact that young people can have in the world.

“Keeping up the momentum is important,” said Murdock. “We saw that low after March for Our Lives, but students aren’t quitting on this. Our generation is demanding change and won’t be ignored or swept under the rug.”

Share image: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Ima
 

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How a Stock Market Shakeup Affects Mortgages

Will the stock market shakeup affect mortgage rates and home sales? If you’ve been thinking about buying or selling a house, the recent financial headlines might be making you anxious. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, after peaking at 26,616 on Friday, Jan. 26, (Google Finance) dropped by 363 points on Tuesday, Jan. 30 – the sharpest drop since last May. The Dow lost 540 points over two days. As investors sold bonds, stock prices declined.

The Stock Market Shakeup and Home Sales

Since then the market has continued to be turbulent. In February, it registered its biggest monthly drop (4.3%) in two years. Then, President Trump’s tariffs announcement made it drop 420 points on March 1.

Investors are fearful because they don’t know whether these changes are the beginning of a serious correction or just a blip in the 8,000-point upward trend the Dow has experienced since President Trump’s November 2016 election. So how does the recent shakeup affect you if you’re thinking about buying or selling a home?

Buying in a Turbulent Market

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes has risen. When the yield on these notes increases, mortgage rates increase. On Nov. 10, 2017, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage charged 3.73%, according to Bankrate; by Feb. 9 the rate had climbed to 4.26% – an increase of more than 0.5% over just three months.

To put that in perspective, for every $100,000 you borrow, a 0.5% interest rate increase will cost you $28 per month ($336 per year). On a $250,000 mortgage that’s $70 per month ($840 per year).

Another factor that’s pushing mortgage rates up is that the Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate target by 0.25% in December and is expected to continue to raise this rate over the course of 2018. Meanwhile, a lack of housing inventory has pushed home prices up.

If the recent stock market fluctuations are the precursor to a recession, layoffs could be widespread, and no one wants to be saddled with a new mortgage while they’re unemployed. Still, for the average individual pursuing home ownership as a lifestyle choice and a long-term investment, timing the market shouldn’t be the goal; making a wise, long-term decision should.

If a recession materializes,home prices could fall, perhaps making it easier to buy a home if you remain employed – and most people do. But as interest rates rise, you could find yourself facing a monthly payment similar to what you would have with higher home prices and lower interest rates. And, of course, if you’re also selling a house, the lower prices will leave you with less to spend on your new home.

Stock-market volatility underscores the importance of buying a home you can comfortably afford, one whose mortgage payments, maintenance costs, homeowner’s insurance and property taxes are well within your means. It also underscores the importance of having an emergency fund. It might be a good time to buy a home before rates increase any further, but only if you’re otherwise ready and only if you find a home you will be happy living in for years. You’re not going to care if your monthly payment is $80 cheaper if you don’t feel satisfied with your home.

Selling in a Turbulent Market

The median U.S. home price has increased by about $100,000 since January 2010, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. However, the association says we do not appear to be in a housing bubble, so there’s no need to panic and try to sell your home before prices plunge.

Home sales are often driven by factors beyond our control, such as job change, death and divorce. Choosing to sell a home when market conditions are ideal is rarely an option. Still, if you do have flexibility in when to put your home on the market, is now a good or bad time to do so, given what’s happening in the stock market and the broader economy?

If your home’s value has increased substantially since you bought it, then you should have the positive equity you need to pay off your mortgage and make a down payment on your next home. Mortgage rates are still relatively low, making it a good time to take out a home loan. Inventory is low, which could put your home in high demand but also make it hard to find a place to buy. Indeed, finding the right home to buy is the biggest challenge buyers face, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The Tax Bill Tie-In

Because the December 2017 tax bill doubled the standard deduction, fewer homeowners will itemize their deductions, including mortgage interest. The $10,000 limit on state and local income taxes (SALT) and property taxes also makes it less likely that homeowners will itemize and get a tax break for these homeownership costs.

In addition, new homeowners will only be able to deduct mortgage interest on a maximum of $750,000 rather than $1 million in mortgage debt as they can now. This change, however, won’t affect all that many home buyers.

Cumulatively, the tax bill changes could affect home prices, especially in states most affected by the SALT provision. Homeownership could become more expensive without the tax deductions, decreasing demand. However, the higher standard deduction, across-the-board tax rate cuts and the expanded child tax credit could put more money in home buyers’ pockets, offsetting this change. The National Association of Realtors predicts that existing home sales volume and prices will moderate in 2018 because of the tax law. (For more, see How the GOP Tax Bill Affects You.)

The Bottom Line

Buying or a selling a home is a slow and expensive process with long-term implications for your lifestyle and finances. Short-term stock market shakeups should not be a factor in home buying or selling decisions. Your personal circumstances – including your personal finances – should be the biggest driver of your real estate decisions. (For more, see Playing Hardball When Selling Your Home.)

Read more: How a Stock Market Shakeup Affects Mortgages | Investopedia https://www.investopedia.com/personal-finance/how-stock-market-shakeup-affects-mortgages/#ixzz596SVio68
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Stock Sell-Off Has Worrisome Similarities to 2008 Crisis

Stock Sell-Off Has Worrisome Similarities to 2008 Crisis

Investors may not be out of the woods just yet, despite the recovery of stock prices from their recent lows on February 8. In fact, some analysts and investment managers are seeing disturbing parallels with the 2007-08 financial crisisYahoo Finance reports. That’s worrisome, since the bear market of 2007–09 lasted 517 calendar days and knocked 56.8% off the value of the S&P 500 Index (SPX)per Yardeni Research Inc. At the close on February 12, after gains on two consecutive trading days, the S&P 500 was 7.5% below its record high on January 26.

The Investopedia Anxiety Index (IAI) continues to register extremely high concerns about the securities markets among our 27 million readers globally, outweighing low levels of worry about other economic and financial matters. A new risk for 2018, and thus a new source of anxiety, has come from so-called “short-vol” trading strategies that fell apart in recent weeks. (For more, see also: 6 Forces That May Push the Stock Market Even Lower.)

The 2007–08 Crisis

“Part of what brought down the stock market [last week] was very symptomatic and very similar to what happened in the financial crisis. Secured [securitized] products, leverage and complexity combining to form a selloff. When you look at 2008 a lot of it was there,” says Aaron Kohli, interest rates strategist at BMO Capital Markets, in remarks to Yahoo Finance.

In 2007, there was a subprime mortgage meltdown, as a housing price bubble began deflating. Banks were hit by increasing defaults and delinquencies on home mortgages, especially those that began to exceed the declining values of the underlying properties. Complex debt instruments carved out of home loans began to crater in value, such as mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and collaterized debt obligations (CDOs).

This imposed huge losses on the holders, both individual investors and major financial institutions. Then the dominoes started falling, as big financial institutions faced insolvency and could not meet obligations to each other. For the first time, the concept of counterparty risk entered mainstream discourse, and a massive government bailout of leading financial institutions under the TARP program eventually was necessary to prevent systemic financial and economic collapse.

The Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world then pursued a policy of aggressive quantitative easing, pushing interests down to zero (or even into negative territory), to prop up the prices of financial assets, and to stimulate the economy. As in 2018, 2007 began with a strong economy and upbeat U.S. economic outlook. However, by the end of 2007, partially due to the subprime crisis, the economy was in what has come to be called The Great Recession, which lasted into 2009.

Dangers in 2018

In 2018, the unraveling of risky “short-vol” trading strategies tied to the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) accelerated the recent stock market selloff. After more than a year of historically low volatility, a growing number of speculators began making what they had come to believe were can’t-miss bets using futures and options. When volatility as measured by the VIX shot up unexpectedly, these highly-leveraged schemes produced huge losses, and traders scrambled to raise the capital necessary to cover these losses, adding to the selling pressure on stocks.

Today ordinary retail investors can choose from more than a dozen ETFs linked to the VIX, Yahoo Finance reports. Many of these products are highly leveraged, meaning that their value can swing wildly, Yahoo adds. Just as with various complex debt instruments and derivatives in 2007–08, individual investors have piled into these new products with little, if any, understanding of the full risks. Yahoo might have added that even investment professionals seriously underestimated the risks of complex new products in 2007–08, adding to that crisis.

A particularly notorious example today is the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term ETN (XIV) from Credit Suisse AG. It lost 92.6% of its value on February 6 alone, and Credit Suisse plans to liquidate it on February 21, at close to a total loss for most investors, Yahoo says. Also, as in 2007 with MBS and CDOs, the leading rating agencies have not been issuing warnings about the dangers of these volatility-linked products, Yahoo adds.

What’s Ahead

Since 1980, the MSCI All-Country World Index has recorded at least a 10% decline two out of every three years on average, per research by Charles Schwab & Co. Inc. cited by The Wall Street Journal. The maximum dip so far this year has been 8.4%, dividends included, from the high on January 26 to the low on February 8, suggesting a further decline this year, per both sources. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 fell by 10.2% over that same period.

Despite all this, the optimists point to worldwide economic growth and corporate profit growth that remain solid. However, even long-term bulls such as Michael Wilson, chief U.S. equity strategist and chief investment officer at Morgan Stanley, acknowledge that today’s high equity valuations will be hard to maintain in the face of rising interest rates and inflation, the Journal adds, raising the odds of further pullbacks in stock prices. (For more, see also: Why Stocks Won’t Crash Like 1987: Goldman Sachs.)

Read more: Stock Sell-Off Has Worrisome Similarities to 2008 Crisis | Investopedia https://www.investopedia.com/news/stock-selloff-has-worrisome-similarities-2008-crisis/#ixzz570nW6qyF
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National Federation of the Blind Applauds Introduction of AV START Act

National Federation of the Blind Applauds Introduction of AV START Act

Legislation Will Promote Access to Automated Vehicles for the Blind


Baltimore, Maryland (September 29, 2017): Today the National Federation of the Blind commends Senator John Thune, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Senator Gary Peters, Senator Roy Blunt, and Senator Debbie Stabenow for introducing the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act (S. 1885). This bill will promote equal access to automated vehicles for the blind and others with disabilities through the prohibition of discriminatory licensing practices and the promotion of accessible user interfaces.

“The advent of automated vehicle technology presents tremendous potential benefits for the blind and other Americans with disabilities,” said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “From more reliable transportation to greater access to employment, automated vehicles will be a valuable tool improving the opportunity of blind people to live the lives we want. But none of these benefits will materialize if the principles of equal access and opportunity are not front and center. The National Federation of the Blind therefore calls for automated vehicle technology to be accessible to everyone through nonvisual user interface options and nondiscriminatory public policy, and applauds Chairman Thune and Senator Peters for introducing a bill that takes positive steps in that direction.”

The AV START Act specifically prohibits states from issuing licenses in a manner that discriminates on the basis of disability. The legislation also creates a disability access working group, tasked with promulgating best practices and recommendations on the accessibility of user interfaces and vehicle design more broadly. The bill specifically denotes “accessibility” as a component of reporting requirements for vehicle manufacturers.

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About the National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

CONTACT:
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
cdanielsen@nfb.org

 

Heroic dog braves Long Island Sound to rescue baby deer

by Melissa Breyer (@MelissaBreyer) –

 

We all know people who wouldn’t hesitate to dive into the water to rescue an animal in need; but how many dogs do you know that would do the same?

Come to think of it, maybe more dogs than people would rise to the occasion! Dogs are incredible in the art of rescue and have been doing it at least since the early 18th century, when monks living in the frigid and treacherous St. Bernard Pass in the Alps used their namesake St. Bernard dogs to help on their rescue missions after blizzards.

But what makes Storm – an English golden retriever from Port Jefferson, NY – even more special is that without any training or prodding, he leapt into action upon seeing a baby deer in duress in the Long Island Sound. Retrieving may be in Storm’s nature, but still, what a trooper.

“Storm just plunged into the water, started swimming out to the fawn and then grabbed the fawn by her neck and started swimming in to the shore,” says Storm’s caregiver, Mark Freeley.

Freeley took a video of the event, having no idea of how things would turn out. As you can see below, Storm gets to the babe, brings it back to shore, and then lays down next to it. And then?

“And then he started nudging it with his nose and then started pulling it to make sure it was gonna be OK, I guess,” Freeley says.

Freeley quickly called animal rescue workers who arrived as the deer headed back into the water, apparently spooked by the dogs.

“This time it went out even further,” Freeley says. Between Freeley and the careful team from Strong Island Animal Rescue League, the deer was rescued yet again.

The sweet fawn is currently on the mend at Long Island’s Save the Animals Rescue Foundation, donations to which can be made here.

CBS New York station WCBS-TV reports on the story below.

Tags: Animals | Pets

 

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How Will Current Politics Affect Facility Management?

BY JUSTIN FEIT –

Changes are underway with the new administration – how will they impact you?

••••
President Trump’s agenda places several programs that have helped FMs in danger of being eliminated. Their survival depends heavily on the ability or willingness to push some key parts of his agenda through Congress.

After the unprecedented electoral victory of Donald Trump, the political climate in the U.S. has been in a state of flux. As the president fills in cabinet and department positions, enacts his agenda and navigates the tumultuous waters of the current political climate, the commercial building industry awaits Washington’s concrete actions and their wide-ranging impacts.

With Republicans holding both houses of Congress and the White House, budget cuts, tax cuts and deregulation are likely on the way. While some of these actions might help businesses, these actions will also have consequences for the buildings industry in the coming weeks, months and years. How will the current political situation affect you?

Information Sharing for Energy Efficiency

Michigan State University had a plan to boost its energy efficiency across the board but was in need of more information and strategies to enact changes across its portfolio of academic buildings, science facilities, parking ramps and athletic facilities. The Department of Energy’s voluntary energy program, the Better Buildings Challenge, provided these vital resources, even though it did not offer any financial incentives.

“We have saved close to $10 million over the past few years by installing energy-efficient measures across campus. We have reduced the energy footprint by 13% in the 20 million square feet included in the program,” says Lynda Boomer, Director of Planning Design and Construction at MSU.

Learning from similar universities that had undergone comparable projects, MSU found success in its energy-saving initiative. The information sharing partnership of the Better Buildings Challenge helped MSU enact HVAC upgrades, chiller replacements and insulation improvements for optimal efficiency.

Through the Better Buildings Challenge, partners commit to improve the energy use of their building portfolios by at least 20% within 10 years and lead the way in a network for peer-to-peer collaboration,” says Maria Vargas, Director of the Better Buildings Challenge. “By showing how energy efficiency has been successfully adopted – and the barriers addressed and overcome – these partners are examples for others across a myriad of building types and locations.”

Since joining the initiative, MSU has been able to achieve considerable savings in its facilities, and the program has been successful across the board in reducing energy usage in buildings.

“MSU became aware of the Better Buildings Challenge and Alliance through involvement in the International Institute for Safe Laboratories (I2SL). We had just completed the energy transition plan and were already on the path to reducing energy use on campus and becoming more efficient, so it was a good fit to join the Better Buildings Challenge,” says Boomer. “While they did not provide any financial aid, the program gave MSU an opportunity to network with other universities and suppliers that could provide ideas and opportunities for energy saving projects.”

In practice, the Better Buildings Challenge has been successful in helping participants reach that 20% goal. “Partners have saved 240 trillion BTUs in energy consumption, $1.9 billion in cost savings, 15 million tons in avoided carbon emissions, $8.6 billion in funds extended by financial allies partnering with DOE and 4 billion gallons in water savings,” says Vargas.

Initiatives that the voluntary Better Buildings Challenge has started include the Financing Navigator to help people find financing options, greater focus and research on data center energy use, water efficiency pledges that save both water and energy, and the SWAP, a reality TV-inspired web series in which property managers from two organizations look for savings opportunities in each other’s buildings.

The voluntary nature of the project allows organizations to earn recognition and share energy information with other participants, which can provide the spark for worthwhile changes. However, the future of the Better Buildings Challenge is in jeopardy due to a recent executive order and the future federal budget.

The Trump Trajectory

President Trump has targeted several Obama-era policies that directly relate to the buildings industry through executive actions and legislative proposals. One needs to look no further than the Better Buildings Challenge, which former President Obama introduced in his 2011 State of the Union address as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In his 2013 Climate Action Plan, Obama’s agenda included expanding the Better Buildings Challenge.

However, the Trump administration has taken aim at Obama’s Climate Action Plan with the Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, identifying goals of striking down energy-related regulations that executive departments have mandated in the past. This executive order could threaten the future of the Better Buildings Challenge, although it is not yet clear how or to what extent.

Executive orders have some historical precedent of being more symbolic, guiding the vision and overall policy of a presidency. Whether or not this particular executive order will on its own largely impact Obama’s Climate Action Plan is unclear at this point. But what an executive order may or may not be able to accomplish can be done so through legislation.

The budget proposal Trump will expand and hopes to usher through Congress provides more concrete plans for cuts within several departments that house energy efficiency programs. While this budget proposal will undoubtedly undergo major changes to placate the many factions of the House, the original budget presented provides insight into the trajectory this administration would like to follow as far as federal funding goes.

Two of the most important departments to look at with the budget proposal are the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, both of which would face cuts in 2018.

The DOE’s proposed cuts seem small compared to other departments with 6% or $1.7 billion in cuts having been proposed to its 2017 allocation. However, under this prospective budget, the National Nuclear Security Administration would receive a $1.4 billion boost, meaning cuts to other programs in the department – ones that might impact building operators – compound under this budget.
One of the hardest-hit agencies under the proposed budget cuts is the EPA; the agency’s overall budget would shrink by 31% or $2.6 billion. Stating a desire to cut back on regulations that hinder businesses, the president set his sights on cutting one particular program in the EPA: ENERGY STAR.

 
 
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