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1. Pat Sajak's Great American Deals, a New Hyper-Local Online Daily Deal Platform, Officially

Company Announces Nationwide Sale of Franchise Opportunities

March 21, 2014 // Franchising.com // Los Angeles, CA - March 21st, America's Favorite Television Host Invites Investor-Entrepreneurs with Strong Community Ties to Help Drive Success of New Neighborhood-based Deal Of The Day Retail Offering that "Pays It Forward" with a Charity Twist Television personality and savvy businessman Pat Sajak is looking for energetic, self-starting entrepreneurs to join him in taking a new daily deal website concept to communities across America. It's called Great American Deals - a hyper-local online shopping website that focuses on individual neighborhoods versus larger metropolitan territories and offers daily discounted deals designed to keep consumer spending within the immediate community, and in the pockets of nearby retailers.

Not only does this model stimulate repeat business, but, as a bonus, a portion of every online sale generated through Great American Deals is donated to local schools and charities as part of the brand's "Give Back" campaign. Having experienced phenomenal success with its pilot franchisees in the bedroom communities of Southern California, the company announced today that it will begin selling additional franchise territories nationwide.

Take the irresistible appeal of discounts delivered by online daily deal sites, eliminate the annoyance of spam-like offers that are too far away to bother with, and add in a fundraising feature that delivers money to consumers' favorite neighborhood charities every time a deal is purchased. That's the winning premise and the Great American Deals difference. The brainstorm of Sajak and seasoned marketers Michael Silber and Mark Vannuki, Great American Deals boasts an A-list leadership team that recognized early on, at the time of the brand's inception, that the power of buying local was a category game-changer for the daily deal industry. Along with Sajak, the team has tapped into the appeal of serving up neighborhood deals with laser precision to hometown residents, who prefer to keep their spending dollars within the immediate community, instead of driving across town, as a way to reinvigorate the entire the category. "I've never endorsed a product before, but there are so many aspects of the Great American Deals concept that have proven to be powerfully successful in our established test model, so I am a big believer," said Pat Sajak, Partner and Brand Ambassador for Great American Deals. "Our franchisees are deeply embedded with their 'feet on the ground' in the towns where they are operating - and each has invaluable localized community ties and expertise, which is something the big players just can't replicate. With Great American Deals, we're going to uncover hidden retail gems in every neighborhood in America - and help local residents discover them online. This platform is an absolute win for businesses and consumers alike, and the charitable aspect of our sales model means a lot to me, especially in these continued tough economic times."

With estimated revenue of $3.3 billion in 2013 according to IBISWorld, the online daily deal industry is projected to continue growing. Building on this existing market opportunity, Great American Deals brings new solutions and "fixes" to the previous pitfalls of the early daily deal pioneers. The format eliminates consumers' "deal fatigue" of being bombarded with unrealistic "across town" offers that aren't feasible or convenient to redeem - and replaces them with hyper-local offers from merchants right around the corner. The franchise model of Great American Deals also provides a fertile environment for local business leadership - at the individual franchisee level - to grow. Each franchisee overseeing their neighborhood- based locale has a vested interest in their own business, which helps to incent the success of the operation within their territory. Conversely, the management and sales structure of the current national deal sites does not transcend easily or effective ly to a hyper-local approach. The Great American Deals model is different from other competitive offerings because it is designed to benefit both local customers and merchants so efficiently.

Interested franchisees can hit the ground running with very little upfront investment. With no storefront, no inventory and no receivables, Great American Deals provides potential franchisees with a pathway toward a desirable professional lifestyle and a flexible workweek. Franchisees are able to work from their own office, or even from home if desired. Ideally suited for a two-person team, Great American Deals' franchisees are indoctrinated to the brand via an intensive four-day training at the brand's corporate headquarters in Beverly Hills, CA - and then receive the option of participating in a co-op program that offers individualized marketing and operational support on an ongoing basis, post-launch. "This is a tremendous opportunity for many established executives, especially those with sales and marketing backgrounds who were caught in the massive corporate layoffs of recent years, to secure their financial and career security with their own business," said Michael Silber, CEO and Founding Partner, Great American Deals. "Imagine being the engine behind a business that brings together members of your own neighborhood looking to discover both valuable discounts and find new quality local businesses to patronize, with merchants and service providers who are eager to welcome the new customers in their own locale. Whether someone is choosing to work for themselves for the first time or returning to the professional world after raising a family, the opportunity to become a Great American Deals franchisee is an exciting proposition for motivated, community-minded entrepreneurs." Added Sajak: "For sales professionals with strong ties to their local communities, our Great American Deals franchise offers an unparalleled opportunity to make a difference for the merchants, consumers and cha rities in their own neighborhoods. With daily deal delivery defined by specific geographical borders and our 'giving back' component that incentivizes purchases to support their hometown schools and charities of choice, Great American Deals offers a distinctively different model for online shopping and selling." For more information, please visit Great American Deals at [http://franchising.greatamericandeals.com/].

About Great American Deals

Great American Deals is a pioneering franchise model in the burgeoning online "daily deal" industry. Cited by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the Hottest New Franchises in 2013, Great American Deals is the new daily deal site with a difference - a hyper-local difference that delivers highly targeted offers to tap better savings from neighbor retailers and service providers, and for the best savings on admission to local events. Backed by the star power of television personality Pat Sajak, a company Partner and Brand Ambassador, Great American Deals not only puts the power of the daily deal industry into the hands of highly driven franchisees looking to generate localized prosperity for merchants and consumers alike, but $1 from every sales goes to support neighborhood schools and non-profits. Founded in 2013 and based in Beverly Hills, CA, the company is currently selling franchise locations to entrepreneurially minded individuals with strong ties to their local communitie s seeking a desirable, independent professional lifestyle.

SOURCE Great American Deals

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2. Price Hike Got You Mad? Here Are Alternatives to Amazon Prime

AlamyBy Cameron Huddleston

Being a member of Coupon Code Prime certainly has its perks. Since the online retailer launched this program nine years ago, members have been able to get free two-day shipping for $79 a year -- a good deal for those who do a lot of online shopping. Membership also includes access to streaming movies and television shows and free Kindle e-book downloads. But now the question is whether those perks are worth $99 annually.

Amazon.com ( AMZN) recently announced that it's hiking the price of its Prime service by $20 effective April 17. The news has elicited a lot of grumbling on the Amazon Prime forum from members, many of whom say the service won't be worth the higher price. They might be right.

There are plenty of ways to score free shipping on online purchases other than an Amazon Prime membership. You might not get your orders within two days -- as you would with Amazon Prime -- but you won't have to pay a membership fee to get free shipping with these other options. Plus, you can get free e-books through other outlets, and you can stream movies and TV shows for free or at a price that doesn't top $99 a year.

Free ahipping. Amazon orders totaling $35 or more may qualify for free shipping even if you're not a Prime member. And plenty of online retailers frequently offer free shipping on orders that exceed certain dollar amounts. But there are some retailers, such as Zappos.com and Nordstrom.com,

that offer free shipping on all purchases all the time. And ShopRunner, which offers free unlimited two-day shipping from 85 online retailers, is waiving its $79 annual membership fee for a year for Amazon Prime members who haven't renewed their membership at the higher rate. You also can find free shipping codes and coupons at FreeShipping.org.

You might be able to avoid paying for shipping by having your purchases shipped to a retailer's brick-and-mortar store. Best Buy ( BBY), Target ( TGT), Toys R Us and Walmart ( WMT) are among the merchants that have free in-store pickup and typically drop their prices around the holidays to match Amazon's prices. In fact, Best Buy, Target and Toys R Us have price-matching policies that extend to Amazon prices year-round. So if you're shopping at one of these stores and use an app such as RedLaser to scan the barcode of an item and find that Amazon is offering it for a lower price, show a sales clerk the lower price and ask for a price match. Then you can avoid shipping costs altogether and still get the best deal. See How to Get Retailers to Match Prices for more information.

Video streaming. Amazon Prime members have access to 40,000 movies and TV episodes. However, the movies typically aren't the newest releases. You can find many of the movies and TV shows available to Prime members for free at Hulu and Crackle. You can stream new releases starting at $4 through services such as Vudu and Blockbuster On Demand. Or you could pay $8 a month ($96 a year, which is less than a Prime membership) for unlimited streaming through Netflix ( NFLX). See 9 Places to Get TV and Movies Online for more options.

Free e-books. With Amazon Prime, you have access to more than 500,000 Kindle titles. However, you can borrow just one a month. You don't even have to be a Prime member, though, to take advantage of thousands of free out-of-copyright books through Kindle Popular Classics. At Gutenberg.org or the University of Pennsylvania online books page, you won't pay a cent to legally download thousands of books whose copyrights have expired. For newer titles, check out your public library. Or join a free online lending community such as ebookfling. You list your Kindle and Nook ebooks on the site, then you swap ebooks with other members. For more, see 5 Ways to Borrow and Read More Free E-B ooks.

More from Kiplinger

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3. A Terrible Response to the Internet Sales Tax Mess

Ten months ago the Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation aimed at sorting out the mess over online sales taxes, which consumers owe but states rarely collect. Now, House GOP leaders are floating what they call a compromise: Set national rules for sales tax collection based on the location of the seller, not the buyer. It is a terrible idea.

It may, in fact, be worse than that. It may really be a classic legislative poison pill: A cynical effort to exempt Internet sales from any tax under the guise of "fairness" and "state sovereignty" that could not possibly pass Congress. If it somehow became law, it could well be a recipe for the ultimate demise of sales taxes as a source of state revenues. At a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Stephen Kranz, a tax partner in the law firm of McDermott, Will & Emery, called the idea "the nuclear bomb version of tax competition."

That's certainly dramatic. And apt. Imagine what would happen if online sellers (which account for a growing share of retail sales) could effectively sell tax-free merely by locating in a state such as Oregon that has no sales levy. States with a sales tax would come under enormous pressure to repeal the levy to "save jobs."

To understand what's happening here, let's review the history. More than two decades ago, in a case called Quill v. North Dakota, the U.S. Supreme Court barred states from requiring remote sellers to collect sales taxes unless the retailers had some physical presence (nexus in legalese) in their state.

In that decision, the High Court strongly urged Congress to work with states to establish a uniform set of rules to reduce complexity and avoid potential double-taxation. Congress dodged the request.

But during the Great Recession, cash-strapped states started finding ways around the High Court prohibition. New York State discovered a loophole, began taxing most online sales, was sued by Amazon Sales.com and Overstock.com...and won in state court. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, effectively letting stand New York's requirement that online sellers collect sales tax. And the High Court once again left it to Congress to sort out the mess.

In a rare bit of bipartisanship, the Senate passed a bill last spring that allows states, under some conditions, to require remote sellers to collect sales taxes. But the House has not acted.

In an effort to avoid looking recalcitrant (heaven forbid), divided House Republicans have been searching for a solution of their own. The idea of an origin-based sales tax was brought to lawmakers by Chris Cox, a former congressman who is now lobbies for trade association called NetChoice that represents Overstock.com and a handful of other Internet firms.

Under the plan, the federal government would let retailers collect tax based on the levy where the seller is located, no matter where the purchaser resides. This would apply to all retailers, as long as they had no physical presence in the consumer's state.

A firm could base its "home jurisdiction" on the state where it has the most employees, the most physical assets, or the state it designates as its principal place of business for federal tax purposes.

Given the nature of online sellers, changing locations to a no-sales-tax state would be fairly easy. It would almost certainly set off the sort of tax competition that worries Kranz. And at least some states would end up increasing property and income taxes-not an outcome that most House Republicans would likely favor.

But that's only part of the problem. Such an origin-based tax would create immense complexity for sellers and consumers. It would still leave unanswered the vexing question of when a firm had physical presence (and would collect taxes owed to the buyer's state) or did not (and would collect taxes levied by the seller's state).

And, as Krantz notes, it would raise a huge issue of taxation without representation since a buyer would have no say in the tax rate he pays. And, he argues, it would very likely violate the Due Process clause of the Constitution.

In short, this proposal would make our current incoherent system of taxing Internet sales massively worse. Other than that, heckuva job, Brownie....

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4. Curtis Granderson: 'The Season's Going To Be Very Optimistic'

During a spring training game last week, newly acquired Mets outfielder curtis granderson got a little friendly with Cardinals first baseman Scott Moore.

Granderson grabbed Moore's butt.

Moore seemed to enjoy it.

"Well, Scott Moore and I have a long history together; we both got drafted in the same year by the Detroit Tigers," Granderson explained on The Morning Show. "As you start getting going through spring training games, the games start to get a little less energetic. So the two of us are out there talking about (anything) and everything, and sure enough the situation presents itself where the two of us get to mess around with each other."

One thing led to another, and soon enough, Moore and Granderson were touching each other on television.

"It's fun. You got to liven things up in spring training," Granderson said. "You got 30 games out here, guys are moving in and out. You got to try to keep it fun or else it becomes Groundhog Day real quick."

New York hopes Granderson can bring that loose and fun feel - no pun intended - to a team that was neither loose nor fun last season. The Mets went 74-88 and finished third in the NL East.

Granderson, a four-time All-Star, should help mightily in that regard. He spent the last four seasons with the Yankees, hitting a combined 84 home runs in 2011 and 2012. He isn't too concerned about going from a hitter-friendly park to a pitcher-friendly park, however, because a) he doesn't consider himself a power hitter to begin with, and b) he spent the first six years of his career in a pitcher-friendly ball park in Detroit - and he still notched a 30-homer season.

"I just want to be productive," he said. "If we got guys on base, I got to try to drive them in. If there's no one on base, I got to try to get myself on base. If some of those balls happen to get out of the ball park, that's an added bonus."

The Mets, who last year finished 23rd in baseball in runs and 29th in average, will take whatever they can get. But with Granderson and Chris Young joining David Wright, the Mets' offense should be much-improved.

"The NL East is definitely going to be a division where you've got a lot of people jockeying for position, and . . . (we were) right in the middle of the pack based off of last year," Granderson said. "You start to add some pieces with veteran experience - such as Bartolo Colon - to a pitching staff that's done really well, (and good things could happen). Even without Matt Harvey, we've got some great arms."

Those arms include Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

"At the same time, we can't win everything on paper," Granderson said. "We got to execute, we got to compete, we got to prepare like we're doing here in spring training. The season's going to be very optimistic. It's going to be very positive."

Speaking of optimistic, Harvey, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, claims he'll pitch in 2014.

"He's very positive," Granderson said of the Mets ace. "He looks very energetic. He's throwing every day. He said he feels a lot better than he expected to feel at this point in time, which is a good thing. At the same time, he's a very young kid. He's got a long career ahead of him. We'd love to have him back as soon as possible, but he's also got to be smart about things. When everything is good to go, they'll give him a green light and we'll be glad to accept him, whenever that happens to be."

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5. The Week's Winners and Losers: Yelp-Yahoo! Deal, Keurig 2.0

Getty Images/Bloomberg/Scott Eells

Companies can make brilliant moves, but there are also times when things don't work out quite as planned. From the leading online retailer jacking up prices to a short-term lender coming under scrutiny, here's a rundown of the week's smartest moves and biggest blunders in the business world.

Discount.com (AMZN) -- Winner

Shoppers aren't going to like it, but Amazon's move to bump the annual price of its Amazon Prime program from $79 to $99 is still a pretty sweet deal. This is the plan's first increase since its inception nine years ago, and since then we've seen Amazon expand its range of self-warehoused products that it makes available to Prime shoppers without charging shipping on two-day deliveries.

Amazon has also made Prime more compelling by adding monthly Kindle e-book rentals and unlimited streaming of a growing library of streaming movies and TV shows.

The 25 percent increase may seem like a lot, but it's a safe bet that the vast majority of its members will stick around and pay up.

World Acceptance (WRLD) -- Loser

Another short-term lender has come under fire. World Acceptance shares tumbled nearly 20 percent on Thursday after revealing that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has served it with a subpoena as part of an inquiry into the legality of its marketing or operating practices.

Companies that specialize in short-term or payday advance loans have been criticized for the high rates that they command on cash advances, preying on people without traditional banking services.

Being targeted in an inquiry is certainly not the same as being guilty, but the questions do cast doubts on World Acceptanc e.

Yelp (YELP) and Yahoo! (YHOO) -- Winners

Yahoo! and Yelp are teaming up to populate Yahoo.com search queries with Yelp's local business reviews. This is a pretty big deal, since Yahoo! isn't known for its breadth of local search offerings, unlike Google ( GOOG), which already has its own platform for local reviews.

The deal gives Yelp more prominence, and it will help make Yahoo! a more compelling search destination for those seeking area businesses.

General Motors (GM) -- Loser

GM may have taken too long to call for a fix of faulty ignition switches. It is now at the center of several investigations after revealing this week that it knew about the faulty ignition switches as early as 2001. The company making the defective component claims that a replacement would cost just a couple of bucks to make and is an easy fix for service centers.

Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR) -- Winner

No one has has mastered the art of single-serve java the way that the Keurig platform has. It has revolutionized the lives of caffeine seekers, but a lot of investors may not know that Green Mountain is the company behind the champ of the premium one-cup brews.

That changed this week when Green Mountain Coffee Roasters changed its name to Keurig Green Mountain. This comes at an important time for the company. It's getting ready to roll out Keurig 2.0, a new platform that will offer more customized options, including portion packs that make entire carafes of coffee. Keurig Green Mountain will also enter the carbonated beverage market in its next fiscal year via Keurig Cold. A name change may seem to be just a name change, but it's smart way to get consumers and investors to warm up to the brand.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, General Motors, Google, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Yahoo!, and Yelp. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com and Google. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days. ​

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6. App.net 'not just a way for nerds to talk to each other', boss tells nerds

Has it finally blossomed into the developer's Twitter?

4 reasons to outsource your DNS

Column It has never been quite accurate to describe the social network App.net, founded by developer and entrepreneur Dalton Caldwell a little over a year ago, as simply a Twitter also-ran.

True, the similarities between the two are impossible to miss: App.net users have accounts prefixed by "@" from which they post (not tweet) messages of up to 256 (not 140) characters.

Posts can be reposted (not retweeted) by other people, @-replied to, or "starred" (not "favorited"). App.net accounts have followers, followees, and a Stream (not a Timeline). Tapbots' App.net client Netbot is fairly similar to the extremely popular Twitter client, Tweetbot, with different labels. But the similarities end there.

For one thing, ADN (as members refer to it) was intentionally designed as an extremely open platform. Third-party developers are not only allowed to build whatever apps they can dream up, they are encouraged to do so. ADN has backed this up with a Developer Incentive Programme, where developers are paid for their work by ADN itself based on the popularity of their apps - as determined by a periodic vote of members.

ADN accounts come with 10GB of file storage that can be used for anything at all, including photos. Among other things, this has led to the development of the photo-sharing app Favd, which is a lot like Instagram but without the ads or fineprint. (Favd allows users to post their photos to Instagram and Facebook as well.)

ADN also includes private chat features and Patter, a set of member-created discussion boards devoted to such subjects as podcasts, photography, cryptography and journalism. The highly open nature of ADN is such that it has spawned apps like Appneticus, which offers all kinds of peeks into the guts of the system via graphs and charts: the number of new users per day, the most active posters, the most popular client apps, and a slew of other measures.

Whatever the value of these features may be, a number of recent developments have the potential to widen the gap between App.net and Twitter much further. The first of these is Twitter's recent IPO. Whether due to a freedom-loving benevolence or sheer incompetence by the company's notoriously bumbling management, Twitter has traditionally been much less guilty of the ad-targeting and personal-data-mining that are now a plague on Facebook and in Google's suite of apps.

Pay-to-play and ad-free - but is that viable?

But the hand of Twitter's impatient investors has become increasingly visible over time, in everything from the company's promoted tweets to the Facebook-like, and widely unpopular, "media previews" introduced recently. With not merely dozens but thousands of investors, and the stakes much higher than before, the heretofore-unprofitable company will have to get serious once and for all about revenue and er, "monetisation," which will almost certainly mean more and more ads and less and less privacy.

From third-party developers' point of view, the creeping restrictions placed on Twitter's public API will surely get worse. The Twitter of 2015 could end up looking like the Twitter of 2011 surrounded by barbed-wire fences, security cameras, and TV screens blaring commercials around the clock.

In theory, App.net will never be subject to these kinds of pressure. From the beginning the network was designed around a freemium and explicitly ad-free model, with operations funded by paid memberships (currently $36/year) and fees for developer access to the API.

While pay-to-play has never really been tried with social networks (though the idea has been bandied about for years), Caldwell points out that Evernote and dropbox api, both of them wildly popular and successful, are freemium services.

While App.net started out as a paid-membership-only service - causing many reporters to inaccurately brand it a Twitter for wealthy snobs - a free membership tier, with limits on the numbers of follows and the amount of storage space, was introduced shortly after. Caldwell sees this as a definite benefit: As a business, he says, ADN's goal "is to get more [paying] members, but users should go ahead and have fun with the free tier if they want to."

As Evernote and Dropbox have shown, "it's advantageous to have a free tier," since free users will help spread the word, and there will always be power users and corporate users for whom the extra benefits of paid memberships are worth the price.

High performance access to file storage

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7. Online Coupons: Where Can You Find Them?

If you shop online often, you may be aware that there are many online coupons available that can help you save money on your purchases. These coupons can help you get items for free with a purchase, get free shipping on your purchase or save a certain percentage off your total purchase. Almost every online story has online coupons available, you just have to know where to find them.

Coupons Websites
The easiest way to find coupons for your favorite online stores is to search coupon websites. There are many of these online and they can all offer different savings, deals, and offers. Most will offer information and restrictions on the coupons and even tell you if the Coupon you want to use is still working or has expired. A few of the most popular online coupons websites are RetailMeNot, CouponCabin, and DealCatcher.

Store Newsletters
If you shop at a store often, you may have been asked if you would like to subscribe to their online newsletter that is delivered to your email inbox on a regular basis. While you may not opt for this subscription because you think of the newsletter as spam, you could be missing out on some great store coupons. These newsletters often contain information on deals, sales, and special offers and even coupon codes that can be used online.

Ads And Inserts
While you might not think that ads and coupon inserts would have coupons that can be used online, you are wrong. If you look carefully on certain coupons and ads, you will find that there is a code that can be used to enter the coupon online. Not every coupon will have this option, but many do. It's worth checking out if you have a few inserts or ads around your home.

If you shop online often, it is worth finding coupons that you can use to save money. What are you favorite coupon sites or where do you find your online coupons?

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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8. Nokia X Dual SIM Android Smartphone Now Available for Rs 8,499: Top 5 Attractive Online Deals

There are a number of Windows Phone devices that are rumored to be unveiled by the Finnish smartphone maker Nokia soon. While the good news for the Nokia fans around the world who have been waiting for an Android-based device from the same company for a long time is here as the company has recently announced a couple of affordable Android-based devices.

The smartphone series which come dubbed as Nokia X is in fact being rolled out currently. While in India the Nokia X Dual SIM handset is already available at the price of Rs. 8,500 via online stores. Thus today GizBot has come up with a number of Coupon Codes pertaining to the handset.

But before you jump on to the deals, take a look at the specs of the device. The Nokia X (Dual SIM) will come in Black, Green, Cyan, Yellow, Red and White color variants.

Recommended: Top 10 Best High-end Smartphones Available With EMI Offers In India

It comes packed with a 4-inch WVGA display having a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, 1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory. There's a 3MP fixed focus camera on the rear side of the device.

Besides being a dual SIM handset, it also supports 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS with A-GPS connectivity options. The makers have added a 1500mAh battery fitted inside. The Android 4.1 Jelly Bean powered handset also features FM Radio.

Take a look at the sliders:

Click Here For The New Nokia X Dual SIM Smartphone Photos Gallery Recommended: Top 10 Best Quad-Core Smartphones To Buy In March 2014

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9. El Nino may bring good weather news this summer - CNN.com

cnn weather/dam/assets/140306174454-sea-surface-temperatures-story-top.gif">

(CNN) -- After the craziness of the winter weather, it's time for some positive predictions, right? Meteorologists are on the lookout for a weather pattern that could mean a milder hurricane season for the East Coast this summer.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday that there's about a 50% chance of a weather phenomenon called El Nino developing this summer or fall. That's not a guarantee, but conditions are favorable enough in the next six months to warrant an "El Nino Watch."

An El Nino event occurs about once every three to seven years, said Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. It involves the warming of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, and results in major changes in the jet stream where storms track.

As the ocean builds up heat in the western Pacific Ocean, some of the heat goes into the atmosphere through evaporation. The moistened atmosphere invigorates storms, Trenberth said, changing where hurricanes and typhoons occur.

But those of you on the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast, rejoice: "It means that the Atlantic hurricane season will be rather weak because it can't stand the competition," Trenberth said.

An El Nino event would likely mean more shear -- wind speeds that increase with height -- in the upper levels of the atmosphere during hurricane season. This wind shear would suppress the development of tropical systems.

California would also benefit if El Nino conditions develop and continue into the winter. The state is suffering from one of the worst droughts in its history. An El Nino pattern in the winter time usually results in much wetter conditions for the West Coast.

Because El Nino warms up the atmosphere as a whole, we may see a mini global warming phenomenon, Trenberth said. Places that shivered through a deep freeze this year may see above-average temperatures next winter, if the pattern continues, Trenberth said.

But in other parts of the world, El Nino can be quite disruptive, depending on where you live. Monsoons in India and droughts in Australia may result, Trenberth said. Hawaii would be more likely to see a hurricane. Flooding in Peru and Ecuador are also associated with El Nino. Farmers there have switched from cotton to rice farming to adapt during such times, Trenberth said.

In February, sea surface temperatures were below average in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, but above average near the International Date Line, NOAA said. There were also strong low-level westerly winds reappearing over the central equatorial Pacific, which could help to hold onto the increased heat content in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific.

Right now the El Nino Southern Oscillation is in its "neutral" phase -- neither warm nor cool -- but models suggest that El Nino could develop.

The last record-breaking El Nino event was in 1997 to 1998. The pattern led to a relatively warm winter, but also a series of devastating weather events: Flooding in the Southeast and California, an ice storm in the northeast and tornadoes in Florida.

"Be careful what you wish for sometimes," Trenberth said.

READ: Climate change may increase violence, study shows

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10. Johnny Manziel signs multiyear endorsement deal with Nike

He's got the big apparel Printable Coupons. Now he just needs to find a team.

According to a report from ESPN, former Heisman winner and likely first-round draft pick Johnny Manziel has signed a multiyear endorsement deal with Nike. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is reportedly the largest contract signed of any member of the rookie class.

From ESPN:

Manziel's team negotiating the deal included LeBron James' business manager, Maverick Carter, and Fenway Sports Group.

Adidas, Under Armour and New Balance's Warrior brand all submitted bids for Manziel's marketing rights.

The former Texas A&M quarterback had an impressive combine, especially in the 40, but it's not clear just where he'll fall in the draft yet. For now, at least, he's got some money.

(Thanks to ESPN for sharing.)

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11. Seahawks' Super Bowl run hurt home sales

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The number of home sales in the metropolitan Puget Sound region dropped by 8 percent last month from February 2013, and some residential real estate experts say the fan frenzy surrounding the Seattle Seahawks was partly to blame.

Meanwhile, the median price of houses and condos that sold in February was up by as much as 13 percent, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) reported on Wednesday.

Many home buyers were more interested in the Seahawks than buying houses and condos, said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott.

Limited inventory also hurt sales activity and is increasing competition among buyers. Mike Gain, CEO and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest in Seattle, said agents are "starving for inventory."

The result of the shortage is bidding wars, especially for houses and condos that are priced right.

It's common for sellers in markets with less than four months of inventory to receive multiple offers, said Dick Beeson, managing broker at Re/Max in Tacoma.

The inventory shortage is acute in King and Snohomish counties. Based on sales volumes, King County has enough inventory to last 2.5 months, while the supply in Snohomish County is enough to feed the market for just over three months, according to the NWMLS. Inventory also is tight in Pierce and Kitsap counties, which have enough residences for sale to last 4.4 and 5.1 months, respectively.

Prices are climbing the most in Snohomish County. Last month, the median price of closed house and condo sales was $294,000. That was 13 percent higher than in February 2013. In King County, the median price was up nearly 10 percent to $365,000. Median prices increased almost 11.5 percent to $195,725 in Pierce County, and 7 percent to $219,000 in Kitsap County. Gain thinks home prices will continue to rise.

Marc Stiles covers commercial real estate and government for the Puget Sound Business Journal.

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12. Spectacular Photos of a Rare Northern Lights Display in U.K. - weather.com

On Thursday, Britain enjoyed a rare display as the Northern Lights were visible as far south as Essex, Norfolk and Gloucestershire.

The Northern Lights are usually only seen in the Arctic, but, according to Caters News Agency, unusually high activity in particles reaching the earth from the sun made the red and green glow appear farther south than normal. explained that a strong magnetic storm helped the lights become visible.

Atoms in the Earth's high-altitude atmosphere collide with charged solar particles to create the Aurora Borealis. The waves are most commonly pale green and pink, but according to uk weather com/news/uk/home-news/northern-lights-skies-in-scotland-norfolk-and-essex-glow-with-aurora-borealis-9158698.html">The Independent

, they can appear in shades of red, blue, yellow and violet. (MORE: These Surreal Photos Make Japan Look Like a Fairyland)

Above are photos from The Shetlands, Highlands, Cumbria, Humberside and Norfolk showing the spectacular rare treat seen Thursday night. The collection also features other stunning views from around the world.

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13. Royce White works out with Kings, could sign 10-day deal

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The Sacramento Kings recently worked out 22-year-old forward and mental health advocate Royce White and are likely to sign him to a 10-day contract, two people with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because no deal had yet been finalized.

White was drafted 16th overall by the Houston Rockets out of the University of Minnesota in 2012, but he struggled to adjust to the NBA lifestyle, in part, because of the well-chronicled anxiety disorder from which he suffers.

White had a public and often-contentious back and forth with Rockets officials regarding the support system, or lack thereof in his opinion, that he deemed necessary to thrive in the professional ranks.

He was traded from the Rockets to the Philadelphia 76ers in Aug. 2013, but - as was the case with the Rockets - never played in an NBA before getting cut three months later. White has played in 17 games for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League, averaging 11.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists. The Houston Chronicle first reported that the Kings had held a workout for White.

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14. WWE Raw Review (2/3/14): Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton, Did CM Punk Appear?

<Printable Couponsimg src="http://img.bleacherreport.net/img/images/photos/002/737/541/d90bc0fc7247fe5700fbad4bd8971b7c_crop_north.?w=630&h=420&q=75">

Credit: WWE.com

-Some exciting things going on over on Twitter (@MikeShannon22), namely my awesomely written articles and completely hilarious jokes.

-Speaking of jokes, I really home the smarks are out in full force for tonight's episode because nothing spices up a bland Raw like a crowd completely pissing on the product being presented.

-Live from Omaha, NE. I actually had to look that up because WWE doesn't consider the city big enough to mention where they are.

- Randy Orton starts us off to complain about the Elimination Chamber match and cuts his usual, boring promo that no one cares about. The smark fans try to get a "CM Punk" chant going but there must be lots of kids in the crowd tonight, so it doesn't really catch on. The Authority (with Stephanie looking more and more like Chyna Jr. every week) comes out and books Orton against Daniel Bryan tonight.

The Shield vs. Kofi Kingston, Big E Langston and Rey Mysterio
Ambrose gets overpowered by Langston so Kofi is brought in to jump around and hit Rollings with a dropkick for two. Monkey flip puts Rollins down but Seth slugs him and Kofi gets caught in the heel corner. Kingston does his best Ricky Morton impression until Rollins misses a kneedrop and Mysterio gets the hot tag. Flying headscissors are dealt out to everyone and Rollins takes a kick to the face for two. He tries to bring Seth over with a hurricanrana but Reigns tags himself in and clotheslines Rey down for two. WWE decides to take a break now because that's what they do.

We return with Reigns beating on Mysterio before bring in Ambrose for a short-arm clothesline for two. He hangs Rey in the Tree of Woe and charges but Mysterio lifts himself up and Dean hits the ring post. Langston gets the second hot tag and he spears Reigns in the corner. Overhead belly to belly suplex leads to the Ultimate Warrior splash for two, broken by Ambrose. Mysterio and Rey clear the ring but Reigns (busted open) floors Langston with the Superman punch. He looks to finish but Ambrose tags himself in and hits a headlock driver for the pin. Roman does not look happy with his tag partner.
Winners: The Shield

-The Intercontinental champion does a job on TV? Of course he does. Match was the usual formula stuff punctuated by Reigns beating everyone up *1/2. The Wyatts cut a promo on the Shield...who is supposed the be the babyface team again?

-Bad News Barrett says we shovel so much junk food into our mouths that we probably won't live to see next year's Super Bowl. Apparently, this is so offense that Jerry Lawler has to insult Barrett with the lamest line possible. They even play Lawler's theme music because this promotion has no idea what they are doing.

Christian vs. Jack Swagger
Christian is definitely the odd man out when it comes to the Elimination Chamber match, so I wouldn't be surprised if they replaced him before the event. Swagger overpowers him but misses a charge to the corner and Swagger gets sent to the floor. Jack yanks Christian off the apron though and rams him into the ring steps. Back in, Swagger hits a knee lift in the corner for two and follows with an Oklahoma Slam for two. Swagger, out of offensive moves, stalls a bit before heading to the second rope and hitting boot on the way down. I hate moves like that because Swagger came off the rope with absolutely no intention of doing a move that would hit Christian on the mat. It's the little things, people.

Swagger cuts off Christian's comeback with another knee lift and tries the gutwrench but Christian floats over and hits a reverse DDT for two. Christian heads up top for a cross body but Swagger catches him and tries for the Patriot Lock. Christian manages to wiggle free but gets yanked to the mat. Jack goes for the Swagger Bomb but hits feet on the way down (it made sense that time) and Christian applies a sunset flip from the second rope for the win.
Winner: Christian

-They weren't given a whole lot of time but they squeezed a lot into the match and it wasn't a bad little match **.

-Betty White is next week's Raw guest host...and WWE wonders why wrestling fans hate this show?

Steel Cage Match for the Tag Team Titles
New Ages Outlaws vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust
The Outlaws still get the legend babyface pop despite turning heel because, seriously, who is going to boo the New Age Outlaws at this point in their careers? This is pin or submission only because that's how a man wins a cage match.

Goldust freaks out Road Dogg, so he tries to escape through the door to establish the rules of the match for the really dumb people in the audience. Road Dogg questions why they are in this cage match and brings in Billy Gunn who actually takes his shirt off for the first time in about 10 years. Goldust slugs down Gunn and brings in Cody, who rolls up Gunn for two. A small package from Cody gets another near fall as they are building a story that the Outlaws are intimidated by being in the cage.

The crowd starts getting really bored by all the stalling so they start chanting for CM Punk while Cole talks over them. The Outlaws work Cody's arm in a boring fashion until Cody clotheslines Dogg down and works his arm as retribution. More arm-based offense leads to more crowd chanting as the crowd doesn't have patience for this stuff in a cage match. Goldust slugs away in the corner but misses on a cross body attempt and goes back-first into the steel cage. We take a break as the crowd chants "we want Punk" during the fade to black.

We return with Goldust tasting the steel for two and we hit the hardcore chinlock. Dustin manages to spring off the corner and catch Billy with an elbow for a double KO but takes a big boot when he fights to his feet. Dogg tries for his punches but gets caught with a spinebuster and Cody gets the hot tag to clean house. Dogg breaks up Cross Rhodes but pays the price by getting powerslammed by Goldust. Billy gets rid of Dustin but walks right into the Disaster kick (great sell by Billy) and gets caught in a close near fall.

And, after practicing at house shows, Cody heads up to the top of the cage and hits a moonsault from the top onto the Road Dogg...just spectacular. Unfortunately, Billy Gunn immediately hits Cody with the Fameasser to get the pin and suck the life out of the spot.
Winners and STILL Champions: The New Age Outlaws

-The opening segment was boring and slow and only really served to build to the huge bump from Cody. It's a shame Cody and Goldust didn't have a better end to their reign as they were the best tag champion team in years. I don't know where the Outlaws go from here but I don't expect their shelf life to be much longer **.

Zack Ryder vs. Titus O'Neil
Holy hell, Zack Ryder is still alive! Titus immediately dumps Zack to the outside and slams him against the ring barrier while the Miz makes his way to the commentary position. Miz complains about not being on Raw while Zack gets his ass kicked in the ring. Ryder fights out of a bear hug and hits the Broski Boot. Titus catches him coming off the top though and hits a backbreaker before hitting Clash of the Titus for the win.
Winner: Titus O'Neil

-Total squash but the crowd couldn't have cared less 1/2*.

Dance Off
Fandango vs. Santino Marella
This "match" was booked because Vince McMahon hates me. Santino calls Emma from NXT in the ring to be his partner. Summer Rae dances first and looks hot, Emma dances second and looks like a geek. The crowd picks Emma as the winner because who cares? That was seriously the whole segment...what an awful debut for Emma.

Sheamus vs. Curtis Axel
Slow start as they wrestle around on the mat until Axel ends up on the apron and takes Sheamus's clubbing forearms. A clothesline puts Axel to the floor and he tastes the announce table. Sheamus gets caught with his head down though and Axel sends him into the ring post to work the recently rehabbed shoulder. The crowd is so into this match that the crowd starts chanting "Ryback sucks". Axel gets some heat from the crowd for his offense being so boring but other than than, there's nothing there. Sheamus makes the comeback to zero reaction and hits White Noise to lukewarm cheers. Brogue Kick hits and that thankfully ends this soul-crushingly boring match.
Winner: Sheamus

-Seriously, this is exactly why people change the channel during Raw. Axel on offense is the cure for insomnia and Sheamus is nowhere near the main event level guy they portray him as. This thing was a major DUD.

-Batista hits the ring to a mixed reaction but gets immediately interrupted by Alberto Del Rio who says that being famous doesn't make you a champion. When Batista tries to respond, Del Rio punches him in the mouth and beats him down. Batista tries for a Batista Bomb but Del Rio heads for the hills and leaves the fight for another day.

The Wyatt Family vs. Dolph Ziggler, Xavier Woods and R-Truth
Rowen destroys Woods to start but he gets a blind tag to Truth and they double team Rowen for two. Truth gets caught in the wrong corner though and gets floored with a big boot from Harper. Bray comes in for some punishment. Harper comes in and does that weird Gator Roll move that accomplishes nothing except for it being a chinlock. Truth fights out and gets the hot tag to Ziggler who nails a huge DDT for two, saved by Rowen. Woods gets rid of him but Bray plants him. Ziggler dropkicks Bray out but gets floored by a turnaround clothesline from Harper. Sister Abigail hits for Bray and that's it for Ziggler because he's apparently a glorified jobber at this point.
Winners: The Wyatt Family

-The match wasn't anything special (which is a trend tonight) and just served to put the Wyatts over **. The Shield cut a promo afterwards and Bray welcomes the war.

Naomi vs. Aksana
AJ Lee is on commentary, so I guess CM Punk is busy playing video games with Colt Cabana tonight. Naomi throws awful forearms in the corner while AJ calls her a "sexy baked potato"...I don't even know what that means. Naomi hits a sitout full nelson bomb but gets slammed down and Aksana chokes her out. More bland offense from Aksana leads to Noami fighting out of a headscissors and making a comeback. She throws some more of her awful dropkicks and gyrates like an idiot until Aksana knee drops her directly in the eye socket...ouch. Aksana buys her some time until Naomi recovers and hits a split-legged moonsault for the win.
Winner: Naomi

-See, when you train supermodels how to wrestle, you get accidents like Naomi's eye socket almost being cracked by a Lithuanian's knee. This was typical Diva fare *.

Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
So the stakes for this match are, if Bryan wins, the Authority might reconsider who the face of WWE should be. Wow, what a risk! Orton stalls and pulls Bryan by the beard to break an armbar. Suplex hits for Orton and a shoulder tackle leads to more posing. Bryan pops up with a knee lift though and fires off a dragon screw leg whip. Bryan wraps Orton's leg around the ring post and dropkicks it, establishing our psychology and giving Bryan a target.

Bryan goes to work on the leg but Orton bites him to break a leglock. Bryan catches him with a backslide for two then goes back to the dragon screw to stay on the leg. Orton takes a powder to try to buy time but Bryan gives chase and tosses Randy into Michael Cole. That kills two birds with one stone. Back inside, Bryan dropkicks Orton's leg in the corner as he continues to surgically destroy the injured limb. It's not a good sign that he's getting all the offense though, that's for sure.

Bryan brings Orton off the top with a hurricanrana and applies the surfboard. More kicks from Bryan as Orton is really taking a beating tonight and Bryan locks on a single-leg crab. Orton escapes to the outside and catches Bryan with a back suplex on top of the ring barrier. The match grinds to a halt as Orton goes on the offense and hammers away in the corner. Bryan flips out of an Irish whip to the corner but gets caught with a powerslam as we head to commercial break.

We return with Bryan firing off kicks but Orton catches the final one and hits him with an overhead suplex, injuring Bryan's shoulder. Outside of the ring, Orton slams Bryan into the ring post and the steps, destroying the shoulder a little more. Orton briefly works a Fujiwara armbar and nicely attacks the arm with good selling from Bryan. They battle to the top rope and Orton tries for a superplex but Bryan slugs him down and comes off with a missile dropkick.

They have a slugfest but Orton stops it by wrenching Bryan's arm to the mat. Randy looks to finish but Bryan surprises him with the Yes Lock, forcing Orton to scramble to the ropes. Bryan hits a pair of dropkicks in the corner but Orton explodes out on the third attempt and catches Daniel with his own dropkick. Draping DDT plants Bryan and Orton looks to finish but Bryan catches him with a kick and scrambles to the top for a flying headbutt which gets two.

Bryan kicks the hell out of Orton as Kane makes his way out and takes a dropkick from Bryan. Daniel dumps Orton to the floor and takes out both heels with a dive. He runs Kane into the ring steps to get rid of him but is distracted long enough for Orton to recover. Randy tries an RKO but Bryan runs him into the corner and hits the running high knee for the clean pin.
Winner: Daniel Bryan

-An absolutely great TV main event as both guys worked their tails off and took a beating in the name of putting on a good match. I swear, if they would have done that finish at the Royal Rumble in Pittsburgh, they would have had the loudest reaction in years. Of course, Bryan immediately gets beaten down by Orton and Kane because WWE. Still, the match was ***3/4 in my mind for great psychology and some hard-hitting offense for both guys.

Final Word
You mean you can actually have a Raw without ? I'm stunned. The whole show was a total and complete borefest until the main event, which was one of the best TV matches you'll see this year. Unfortunately, they flushed all that goodwill down the crapper by having Kane (completely useless in his current role) and Orton destroy Bryan immediately after the match. He just beat the world champion clean as a sheet in the middle of the ring, don't you think that deserves a send-off on the show? Still, that match seemed like it was booked at the last second to placate the smark fanbase and Bryan will be shuffled into a feud with Kane as soon as Cena's hangnail heals or whatever.

As for the show as a whole, you can completely skip the first 2 hours and 45 minutes and just catch the main event.

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15. Today's minor league deal: Yorvit Torrealba

The Angels agreed with veteran catcher Yorvit Torrealba on a minor league Printable Coupons with an invitation to spring training, adding depth behind Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger.

Torrealba, 35, has spent parts of 13 years in the majors, most notably with the Colorado Rockies. He hit .240 in 196 plate appearances with Colorado in 2013.

Torrealba, who has played for seven teams, is known for his defense. He is a career .256 hitter with a .315 on-base percentage.

The Angels have signed seven ...

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16. New Website Designed to Help Investors Compare Prices

A new website has been made available that will help those interested in buying physical gold coins and/or bullion compare the prices of many of the top gold dealers around the country.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) January 31, 2014

We are all aware of the current economic issues that are facing us as a nation as well as globally. Many financial experts have agreed that it is prudent to invest in physical gold as a form of wealth preservation or financial insurance. The problem is finding the right gold dealer to purchase your physical gold from. How does one know who is actually offering the best rate? It's a lot of work and research to find the gold dealers with the best prices. That is until now. The Gold Spotter presents TheGoldSpotter.com gold Coupon Codes comparison website.

TheGoldSpotter.com is a new website that takes a bulk of the work off your shoulders. Statistics are showing individual physical gold ownership is and has increased over the years as many investors are wising up to the game the Federal Reserve and other central banks are playing with the dollar.

Gold investors and/or those interested in buying physical gold have a reason to smile with the launch of TheGoldSpotter.com a website that will save you time and money!

http://www.TheGoldSpotter.com, is a new gold price comparison website that takes care of all the research and analysis of gold prices for investors and/or those looking to buy gold. With fluctuations experienced throughout the day, gold investors need a reliable source of information before making purchasing decisions. TheGoldSpotter.com is that source.

The concept is simple, TheGoldSpotter.com compares the prices of various the gold coins and bullion as sold by various gold dealers on one webpage so to allow a side by side comparison of over a dozen gold dealers across the country.

It would take someone hours to find and access each individual website, note the prices on the coins/bullion you desire, etc...Such work is exhaustive if one is to do it on their own, and TheGoldSpotter.com clearly comes to the rescue. This could go without saying, however, we all know that any investment must be done with careful thought and diligence, and TheGoldSpotter.com offers one the chance to perform their due diligence in part, in a fraction of the time.

"As an avid investor in gold I got tired of spending hours trying to find the best prices, writing down gold dealers' information, the website address, and the prices for each site, and then finally comparing them all. TheGoldspotter.com is the one stop site that does all this work for you, and also updates constantly to keep track of price fluctuations," says James G., an investor who's already happy with the results he achieved by using thegoldspotter.com.

There's no arguing that one of the best investments one can make is to buy gold, physical gold. However, to do this, one must have the right information before making any purchases.

TheGoldSpotter.com's ultimate goal is simply to help investors save money, time, energy and effort to assist those who know the value of owning gold by helping to find the right gold dealer with the right price. Like with any investment, there are risks associated with gold trading, as they say the more you know the more you grow.

TheGoldSpotter.com is a free to use site, and investors aren't charged for the information provided. The details for every individual dealer are shown in table format, click on the name of the particular coin and the table is sorted cheapest to most expensive, click the name twice and rearranges to show the most expensive down to the cheapest dealer for that specific coin. This is so very convenient.

With ever-fluctuating gold prices, a comparison site like TheGoldSpotter.com is a sure headache-reliever; it allows you to make good decisions based on regularly updated data. With TheGoldSpotter.com one will have more of an advantage for buying your gold coins and bullion being able to seeing the best rates of numerous dealers in one location, it's really that simple.

One benefit of trading in gold is that it is one of the few investments that inflation doesn't affect adversely. Gold is a good protection against inflation and the devaluing dollar, which makes gold popular with investors seeking to protect their savings, protect their retirement and protect their financial future. Gold's prices might fluctuate now and again, but overall, owning physical gold is a solid investment over time. With the information you get from TheGoldspotter.com, you are in a much better position when it comes to making a purchase decision.

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17. Stocks trim big losses; January bad 2014 omen?

<chinese lunar new year cards designp>Stocks are trimming earlier sharp losses Friday as Wall Street braces for the S&P 500's first negative January since 2010 -- a poor start that history says could bode ill for the remainder of the year.

In afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average is off 108 points, or 0.7%, the S&P 500 is down 0.4% and the Nasdaq composite is 0.3% lower. The Dow had earlier tumbled as much as 230 points -- its biggest drop since Friday, when it gave back 318 points.

The drop in stocks comes as investors seek out safety.

Money is piling into long-term U.S. Treasury bonds: Prices on the 10-year Treasury are rising, and yields, which move in the opposite direction, have declined to 2.65%. That's a level last seen in early November, when the closing yield was 2.61%, according to Yahoo Finance data.

At the start of the year, the yield was 3.03% and Wall Street was betting it would move higher, not lower, as U.S. economic growth picks up and asset purchases from the Federal Reserve decline.

Investors were also reacting to a troubling weaker-than-expected inflation reading in the eurozone that raised fears of deflation, as well as ongoing angst related to the ongoing turbulence in emerging markets.

The slow start to January, which often serves as a barometer of how stocks trade for the entire year, is the newest worry for Wall Street, which has run into selling pressure in 2014 amid turbulence in emerging markets. When the first month of the year is negative the chances of finishing the full year in the plus column drop to roughly 50-50, according to the Stock Trader's Almanac.

Wall Street is also grappling with renewed worries related to the eurozone. Consumer inflation in the 18-country eurozone dropped to 0.7% in December, below its previous monthly reading of 0.8% and below analysts' estimate of 0.9%. The record low readings on consumer prices there raised fears that a period of falling prices, or deflation, might be taking hold. If deflation persists it would be negative for Europe's economy, as shoppers often hold off on purchases in an effort to get things at lower prices at a later date.

■ Consumer spending: Up 0.4% in December

■ Patience, people: When stocks dip, watch emotions

A big earnings miss by online retailer Amazon.com after Thursday's close could also be weighing on investor sentiment. Investors also got earnings news Friday from oil giant Chevron and credit card processor MasterCard that missed analysts' expectations.

Heading into Friday's session, the Dow was down 4.4% in January, the S&P 500 was off 2.9% and the Nasdaq composite was down 1.28%.

The S&P 500 closed Thursday at 1,794.19 and a key level to watch on the downside is around 1,770, says Bryan Sapp, senior trading analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research.

"The 1,770 level on the S&P 500 has held (so far), and it looks like it could provide some support for the market," Sapp told clients in a early morning research note. "Meanwhile, the index rallied right up near the round-number 1,800 level yesterday, but retreated on an intraday basis. Going forward, the bulls will want to see this area taken out, as it could be a sign that the market is ready to resume its longer-term uptrend."

Financial markets are closed in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines for the Lunar New Year holidays. Japan's Nikkei index dropped 0.6% to 14,914.53.

European benchmarks were trading firmly lower. Germany's DAX index led decliners with a drop of 0.7%, while London's FTSE was off 0.4% and Paris' CAC 40 was off 0.3%.

U.S. stocks rose sharply Thursday as investors cheered the strong earnings and data that showed the U.S. economy grew at a robust annual rate of 3.2% in the fourth quarter. The S&P 500 rose 19.99 points, or 1.1%, to 1,794.19. The Nasdaq composite jumped 71.69 points, or 1.8%, to 4,123.13 and the Dow Jones industrial average rose 109.82 points, or 0.7%, to 15,848.61.

■ Thursday:Stocks close higher on GDP growth, Facebook

Benchmark U.S crude for March delivery was down 12 cents at $98.11 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 87 cents to finish Thursday at $98.23, boosted by the GDP report.

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18. Keystone review mutes environmental concerns, raises pressure on Obama

The long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline got a major boost on Friday as a key State Department Printable Coupons raised no major environmental concerns, muting pipeline foes' main argument and raising pressure on the Obama administration to make a final decision.

Republican supporters said the report should compel President Obama to swiftly green-light the Canada-to-Texas project.

"This report from the Obama administration once again confirms that there is no reason for the White House to continue stalling construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. "So, Mr. President, no more stalling -- no more excuses."

The Canadian government, which wants Keystone approved, also pressed the administration to act, though a final decision could be months off.

"This is the fifth federal study on the environmental impact of the Keystone XL pipeline. Each previous one has stated that building Keystone XL would not adversely affect the environment. Today's report confirms once again this result, including no appreciable impact on greenhouse gases," Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said in a statement. "The benefits to the U.S. and Canada are clear. We await a timely decision on this project."

Despite statements from pro-pipeline advocates, the department report stops short of recommending approval of the $7 billion pipeline. Nevertheless, the review could give Obama cover if he chooses to endorse the pipeline.

The White House released a statement Friday night saying Sec. of State John Kerry and other agency heads will "closely evaluate" the report in the coming weeks.

"The president has clearly stated that the project will be in the national interest only if it does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution," White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said.

Republicans are largely united behind the project, describing it as a needed jobs creator that would have little environmental impact. But it has divided Democrats. The unions have pressed the administration to approve the project, but environmental groups have adamantly opposed it.

Foes say the pipeline would carry "dirty oil" that contributes to global warming. They also worry about a spill.

The 1,179-mile pipeline would travel through the heart of the United States, carrying oil derived from tar sands in western Canada to a hub in Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries in Texas.

The State Department report effectively said Canadian tar sands are likely to be developed regardless of U.S. action on the pipeline. An official added that other options to get the oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries -- including rail, trucks and barges -- would be worse for climate change.

State Department approval is needed because the pipeline crosses a U.S. border. The Environmental Protection Agency and other departments will have 90 days to comment before State makes a recommendation to Obama on whether the project is in the national interest. A final decision by the government is not expected before summer.

The new report comes only days after Obama's State of the Union address, in which he reiterated his support for an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy that embraces a wide range of sources, from oil and natural gas to renewables such as wind and solar power. The remarks were a rebuff to some of his environmental allies who argued that Obama's support of expanded oil and gas production doesn't make sense for a president who wants to reduce pollution linked to global warming.

"We believe that continued reliance on an `all-of-the-above' energy strategy would be fundamentally at odds with your goal of cutting carbon pollution," the environmentalists wrote in a letter to Obama.

Obama blocked the Keystone XL pipeline in January 2012, saying he did not have enough time for a fair review before a looming deadline forced on him by congressional Republicans. That delayed the choice for him until after his re-election.

Obama also said in a New York Times interview last year that there was "no evidence" the pipeline would be a "big jobs generator," claiming it might create 2,000 jobs in the construction phase and far fewer permanent jobs.

But pipeline supporters have challenged that claim. House Speaker John Boehner said it could create "more than 100,000 jobs," citing separate analyses which include indirect jobs.

"President Obama is out of excuses," Boehner said Friday.

Obama's initial rejection of the pipeline went over badly in Canada, which relies on the U.S. for 97 percent of its energy exports. The pipeline is critical to Canada, which needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oil sands production. The northern Alberta region has the world's third largest oil reserves, with 170 billion barrels of proven reserves.

In a bid to smooth over relations with Canada and other pipeline supporters, Obama quickly suggested development of an Oklahoma-to-Texas line to alleviate an oil bottleneck at a Cushing, Okla., storage hub. Oil began moving on that segment of the pipeline last week.

The 485-mile southern section of the pipeline operated by Calgary-based TransCanada did not require presidential approval because it does not cross a U.S. border.

The latest environmental review, the fifth released on the project since 2010 -- acknowledges that development of tar sands in Alberta would create greenhouse gases. But the report makes clear that other methods of transporting the oil -- including rail, trucks and barges -- would release more greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming than the pipeline.

U.S. and Canadian accident investigators warned last week about the dangers of oil trains that transport crude oil from North Dakota and other states to refineries in the U.S. and Canada. The officials urged new safety rules, cautioning that a "major loss of life" could result from an accident involving the increasing use of trains to transport large amounts of crude oil.

Several high-profile accidents involving crude oil shipments -- including a fiery explosion in North Dakota and an explosion that killed 47 people in Canada last year -- have raised alarms. Keystone XL would travel through Montana and South Dakota before reaching Nebraska. An existing spur runs through Kansas and Oklahoma to Texas.

Click to read the Keystone report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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19. My Biz: North Liberty jeweler started career at young age

At the age of 21, Harold van Beek was the youngest self-employed jeweler and goldsmith in the Netherlands.

Several decades after getting his start, van Beek owns and operates Jewelry by Harold in North Liberty. He spends his days making custom jewelry creations for customers in the Corridor and all over the world.

Van Beek got his start making clock repairs when he was 14. His interest in jewelry grew from there and he decided to attend jewelry school to learn the goldsmith trade.

After van Beek started work as a jeweler, his is reputation grew quickly in the Netherlands and he had a very successful career for many years.

In 2006, van Beek and his wife, Astrid, decided to move to the states for a fresh start.

They landed in Iowa City, which was not an accidental choice as van Beek's family has maintained a long distance friendship with a local family since World War II. That's a fairy tale all it's own and van Beek is happy to share it with customers.

After several years of working for other jewelers, van Beek had the opportunity to again have his own shop. Jewelry by Harold opened in April 2011 and van Beek was glad to be the man behind the name of the store again.

Van Beek handles the design work and all repairs, noting that his customers appreciate that the repair work is not shipped out.

"We do everything in house," he said. "We are a full stop shop."

On any given day, van Beek is handling custom designs, milling, casting, stone setting, repairs, restorations and finishing. Van Beek's work station and computer are set up in a booth where customers can talk with him and see him work on his designs on the computer.

"The shop's atmosphere is meant to be relaxed," van Beek said. "This is who I am. And if they open up to me and I open up to them, then it is way easier to communicate and create what they want."

Customers at Jewelry by Harold also will find a full line of pandora bracelet charms, officially licensed Iowa Hawkeye jewelry and the option to create personalized charms from pictures.

Over the last few years, Jewelry by Harold has become known for creating not only stunning custom jewelry, but also some imaginative promotions.

Van Beek said customers really took to the "Shot Gun" wedding promotion a while back, where you received a free shotgun if you purchased an engagement ring.

"We always try to do things that are a little bit crazy," he said.

Van Beek also can be very traditional. The van Beeks, who can often be heard speaking to each other in Dutch, honor their European heritage with fresh Dutch coffee and cookies for every customer that walks in the door.

"Our studio is an extension of our living room, which means that we welcome you to sit down and relax," van Beek said. "Read a good book on art or design and watch us work on the 3D CAD-CAM programs displayed on the big screens."

And van Beek will be giving a nod to another European culture when he launches his own jewelry line later this year. Adriano Milano will be an Italian style line of rings, bracelets and more that will pay homage to his father.

"This is my hobby," van Beek said. "I've never worked a day in my life."

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20. Websites allow travelers to compare true hotel pricing

You can expect some new ways to arrange hotel accommodations this year, as well as a few changes in the old ways. And, as usual, along the way you'll have to watch out for gotchas.

The biggest change this year is a new website that allows you to compare hotel prices, side-by-side, posted in terms of what you actually have to pay. Until now, the big metasearch engines have used only the base room rates, as supplied by individual hotels, either directly or through the Global Distribution Systems, in their initial side-by-side Coupon Code comparisons. They may show taxes and mandatory fees somewhere along the purchase process, but do not include them in the first comparison, and sometimes they state only something to the effect that "taxes and fees may be extra." This approach, of course, greatly distorts price comparisons:

* Taxes can add more than 20 percent to the total cost of a hotel, and they often vary substantially within a single metro area that may encompass many different taxing venues.

* Some (far too many) hotels carve out a part of their real prices, present the carve-outs as mandatory fees with such plausible labels such as "resort" and "housekeeping" fees, and initially post a phony base price reduced by the carve-out. In popular tourist destinations such as Las Vegas and Hawaii, these mandatory fees can understate the true price by up to $50 a night.

Department of Transportation rules prevent airlines from understating their true prices in these ways, but hotels do it routinely. Now, however, a new metasearch website, the Suitest (thesuitest.com), allows you to filter price comparisons to include taxes, mandatory fees, and, if you want, Wi-Fi and parking rates, into the initial price comparison postings. It also assigns a "deal grade" to each posting and other details; it links to the online agency with the best price, where you actually buy the deal. So far, it lists only a limited number of domestic upscale hotels, but it finally breaks the "hidden fee" barrier.

Worried about arranging a hotel reservation in advance, only to find out that the price later dropped? Trip Rebel (triprebel.com), currently alive in beta, makes an intriguing offer: Book through its system, then it tracks your reservation; if the rate drops, it rebooks you at the new rate and refunds 100 percent of the difference to you. The problem here, of course, is that the system does not work with nonrefundable room rates, and with Trip Rebel, you pay the first reservation in advance. Many of you would be better off with a pay-when-you-get-there reservation, which you can rebook yourself. Still, it's an interesting idea.

For some reason, the "flash sale" business model for hotel deals seems to be contracting. Two years ago, I monitored a half dozen such websites, but today, the main survivors seem to be Jetsetter (which combined with Sinqueaway) and Vacationist, along with Groupon and Eversave for discount coupons. Flash sale websites still offer good deals, largely on upscale properties, and the coupons offer some good pricing on budget-class accommodations, as well as more expensive spots. But these days you find fewer places to look.

A reader booking a European driving tour encountered a recent gotcha. He made a "Free Cancellation, pay later" reservation on Booking.com, only to find a notice in the confirmation email calling for a 50 euro fee for cancellation. This seems to be a problem with the hotel rather than with Booking.com, because I couldn't replicate the process. No matter what dates I chose, the site noted that no rooms were available, which I suspect was a way of handling the problem until it could be fixed with the hotel. Still, always check any link to special conditions and details before you make a final buy on any hotel accommodation.

email: [email protected]

There are fewer places online these days to find flash sales for hotels.

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21. Stand up paddle, slackline, ioga... Veja os dez esportes que estão bombando entre os famosos neste verão

Confira o que Grazi Massafera, Isis Velverde, Cauã Reymond, Carolina Dieckmann, fernanda lima facebook Souza, Giovanna Ewbank, Bruno Gagliasso e outros estão fazendo para manter a forma e aproveitar a estação.

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22. Banshee "The Warrior Class" Review: You're Not My Dad

<Amazon Dealp>

When looking for areas of improvement in sophomore TV series, one thing to focus on is how they go about balancing more stories at once, both in individual episodes and longer arcs. It isn't always the case, but many shows expand their worlds in their second season, and of course it doesn't always work. Although Banshee hasn't blown open its universe too dramatically in the first three episodes of Season 2, the series has methodically brought us into new corners of its small domai and most impressively, been able to carry additional plots.

"The Warrior Class" was a fine example of this slightly more assured storytelling. The episode went a little deeper into both the Amish and Native American communities, gave us some quality time with Carrie in her own twisted Cinemax version of , and somehow squeezed in coverage of what was previously Orange Is the New BlackBanshee's biggest "secret" with the arrival of the real Lucas Hood's son. I wasn't bamboozled by the show's ability to make all of these things work within one hour of television, but it was absolutely impressive, and a sign that Banshee, while still wild and violent and sex-crazed, is becoming a more efficient, interesting series.

Can we start by talking about the compelling Terrence Malick-y sequence at the beginning of the episode? Anytime you start a scene with slow-moving, almost ponderous montages of people ruffling their hands through wheat fields and top it off with a voiceover, it's probably fair to call it a "Full Malick." Not that it was bad! In fact, I loved it, and this is what I'm talking about with regard to the show pushing its boundaries and doing some different things here and there, but making them fit within the preexisting Banshee universe. The Full Malick worked so well that at first, I wasn't even sure whether it was happening in the present day, as opposed to being some sort of fascinating flashback. Of course, this being Banshee, a lovely four-minute side story with two star-crossed lovers ended with a teenage girl dead in the rain and a teenage boy MIA. You know, just in case you thought a show on Cinemax was going to go whole hog into Tree of Life.

Maybe the introduction of two teens-one from the local Indian tribe and the other from the Amish community, both of them just trying to make it work in this craaaazy world-was a little on-the-nose in hitting the season's early tensions between the two groups, but it established a reason for Hood and the rest of the squad to go into both communities. Naturally, since they're outsiders, neither excursion went particularly well. "The Warrior Class" made some inroads into explaining the general histories of and politics between the two groups, and obviously set up a couple of truly gut-wrenching fight sequences. There's something so charming about a show that introduces the HUGE tribe gang leader character, lets him spew on about his people's ages-long mistreatment by the white man, and then moves right into a throwdown with Hood involving chains, knives, nightsticks, broken tables, and whatever the heck else was in that dusty old room. And more than that, the episode (as most do) made those seemingly dissonant things go together so clearly that I was cackling by the end, because it was RIDICULOUS, but also because it was RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME.

Amid the perhaps slightly less believable parts of the show, I appreciated that "The Warrior Class" kept grounding the proceedings in some semblance of reality. So Hood and the squad rolled onto the Indian reservation despite a complete lack of jurisdiction (and I loved Hood's acknowledgement that the FBI wasn't going to help them anyway, so screw it), they raised all sorts of hell, and then they returned to the station to find Gordon's replacement in the DA's office breathing down their neck. They can do just about whatever the hell they want, until they can't. Those quick reminders keep the show from falling into full-on (albeit completely enjoyable, mind you) cartoon mode. Similarly, right as Proctor beat a few of trespassing tribesmen within an inch of their life, he shared a half-awkward, half-moving moment with his former family, particularly his mother.

The actual investigation into what happened to the teens was less successful, mostly because I didn't care about them, but it accomplished a few things. First, it added some color to the groups' feud without necessarily focusing on Proctor and Alex Longfellow, who are the key players in what we've seen thus far but not the only members of their respective communities. Second, it furthered the confusing trajectory of Odette Annable's Nola. That she was wearing the dark hoodie in the final moments suggested to me that she probably killed the girl, I'm guessing for the same reasons that they figured the big dude did, but who knows with her right now. Third, it allowed the show to put Lili Simmons in the mud and rain and whatever else. Would I like her to have more to do than get chased in a downpour or pleasure herself on the bed? Sure. But the show's gotta serve its Cinemax masters every once and a while, right?

And on top of all of that, "The Warrior Class" found time to bring the real Hood's son into town, and into our Hood's life. It was interesting how Banshee handled that moment. It wasn't played over the top like it was so fundamentally earth-shattering, and Hood was almost immediately given an out because the son didn't really care about his dad and is generally kind of a dirtbag anyway (duh, that's the case with everyone on this show). Nevertheless, I liked that the episode just threw that in there, making Hood's current existence even more of a living hell. You get the sense that it's all becoming too much here and there, and while I don't know if he's going to "break" or lose it, there are bound to be some moments in the future where Hood actually lets himself feel all that garbage he's holding onto. Or maybe he just get it in with Siobhan some more and everything will be fine. Do not blame him.

I can't (yet?) say that Banshee Season 2 is head and shoulders aboveSeason 1 in quality, but what I've liked about the first three episodes, and "The Warrior Class" in particular, is how much ground the show is trying to cover, and how quickly. There's a lot going on already, and the show is handling it very well.


- Shockingly, Carrie's not doing too well in prison. Banshee should probably dedicate a little more time to those scenes in the coming weeks, but this episode gave us enough to recognize the dire straits.

What'd you think of this episode? Which fight sequence was your favorite?

- Speaking of Carrie, what's the shipper breakdown for this show like? Are we all in on Hood and Carrie, or hopeful for more Hood and Siobhan?

- I made the mistake of watching my screener for this episode at Starbucks, and while Banshee's aggressive sex and nudity is always a bit embarrassing to deal with, the sheer impact of Proctor nailing those dudes with the baseball bat had me squirming in my chair, and probably making a fool of myself. Just the sound of the bat, ugh.

- What do I need to do to get more Job in my life this season? Can they rob something else next week?

- I appreciated how surprised the real Hood's son was that Hood actually does the job. Well, "does" the job.

Previously Aired Episode

Season 2 : Episode 3

Next Episode

Season 2 : Episode 4

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23. Justin Bieber's Arrest: 14 Burning Questions We Need Answered

You might think that the only question you have about Justin Bieber's arrest is: "Why did it take so long?" But you'd be wrong, because there are many other questions we have regarding Justin's DUI arrest and the events leading up to and following his stint in a jail cell.

We have so many things to ask about his posse of friends, his actual height and his delusional fans who think he did nothing wrong. And damn it, we need answers! Here are the 14 burning questions we have about Justin Bieber:

READ: 18 People Who Think Justin Bieber Should Not Have Been Arrested for Drinking and Driving

1. How did Bieber spend his eight hours in jail? Besides dealing with a hangover?

2. Does anyone in Justin's entourage have a normal name? Lil Za, Khalil, Lil Twist, Big Skittle, Purple Skeez, White Lightning, Teddy Ruxpin, Rainbow Brite, Jem and the Holograms, Madballs...some of those names might actually be made up (or toys r us careers from the '80s).

3. Was it just us, or was Justin Bieber making a Zoolander Blue Steel face during his bail hearing?

4. Isn't it illegal to lie about your height? Because there is no way Justin is 5'9''! Or does he subscribe to the Dr. Mindy Lahiri school of thought that any info on an ID "should be aspirational"? You might get past 5'7'' yet, Justin!

5. According to his Twitter bio, Justin Bieber's dad calls himself Lord Rauhl...We have so many questions about that, and we don't even know where to start. But mostly: Why?

PHOTOS: If you're looking for shirtless Bieber pics, we've got a gallery full of 'em!

6. How did that radio station make those Free Bieber signs so quickly? Actually, we bet they had them made the very second Justin got to Miami.

7. Why so happy and clearly pleased with himself in one mug shot and then very "sad panda" in the next? Is it because he knows he can't put the world under the spell of his piercing gaze when he's facing sideways?

8. How long after the news broke did it take people to Photoshop Justin Bieber's face on the Orange Is the New Black poster? 10 seconds or 20 seconds?

9. Are these Bieber fans who believe it's all a misunderstanding actually serious or is it all just a really involved practical joke cooked up by the Internet?

10. Why isn't anyone on his team saying stuff like: "Hey, maybe don't drink and drive?" Or: "Hey Justin. Maybe you shouldn't drag race after smoking pot and partying at a club?" Or: "Hey, bro. I really think you should look inside yourself, take stock of your life and stop doing these ridiculously asinine things?"

READ: Justin Bieber's Arrest: See the Best Memes, Jokes and Photoshop Jobs

11. Are Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus the same person? Discuss.

Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus are one and the same. Don't convince me otherwise. pic.twitter.com/oEnFzSCu2C

? Mike Buzz-saw Asti (@MikeAsti11) January 23, 2014

12. Where were the parents of the kids who were waiting outside the jail for Justin to be released? Aren't they supposed to be in school? Or how about the kids who were out at 4:30 in the morning watching Justin get arrested? Go home and go to bed!

13. When he got on top of the car after being released, was Justin greeting fans? Mocking the paparazzi? Or simply waving goodbye to his career?

14. When will Justin just stop? Because enough. Unsubscribe.

PHOTOS: See Justin Bieber partying hours before his DUI arrest RELATED VIDEOS:

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24. Digger Phelps And Notre Dame: A Dream Realized

Digger Phelps And Notre Dame: A Dream Realized
Phelps' Fighting Irish teams beat the Number Ones -- and a whole lot more.

Richard 'Digger' Phelps, who led the Notre Dame men's basketball program to 393 wins and the 1978 NCAA Final Four in his 20-year tenure, will be enshrined in Notre Dame's Ring of Honor Sunday night at halftime of the Fighting Irish game vs. Virginia Tech at Purcell Pavilion (6 pm ET on ESPNU).

Jan. 18, 2014

By Tim Bourret

The week after the University of Notre Dame's 29-3 football victory over Navy on Oct. 30, 1965, Irish head football coach Ara Parseghian received a letter from a first-year high school coach at a small Catholic school in Hazelton, Pa.

The letter from the 24-year-old navy coupons basically told Parseghian that he wanted to be the head basketball coach at Notre Dame some day. Even though he had never seen the campus, it was his dream job.

Parseghian received a lot of letters like this from football coaches interested in getting into his chosen profession, but never had he received a letter from a basketball coach about being the Notre Dame basketball coach. At least this guy wasn't after his job.

Parseghian had a file for such correspondence called "Crazy Letter File"--and that is where he placed it.

Less than six years later, in May of 1971, a now 29-year old Richard "Digger" Phelps, the author of that letter, joined Parseghian as basketball coach on the head coaching staff of legendary Notre Dame athletics director Moose Krause.

Phelps qualified as the first Notre Dame men's basketball coach who was not a Notre Dame alumnus since 1943, yet he may have had twice as much passion for the school as any of his predecessors.

"I loved the essence of Notre Dame and what the University stood for," recalled Phelps about his letter to Parseghian. "It does seem crazy today that I would write a letter to the football coach about becoming the basketball coach. But, Ara had such charisma. He was the most visible symbol of the school and I identified with him.

"When I thought about Notre Dame then, I thought of Ara Parseghian. To some extent I still do that today."

That letter was just one of the examples of Phelps' personal mission to be the head basketball coach at Notre Dame at an early age. A native of Beacon, N.Y., he was surrounded by New York subway alumni and remembers as a youth the city's excitement when Notre Dame came to Yankee Stadium to play football against Army.

"When I was a kid and we played pickup football games in the neighborhood, I was always Johnny Lujack," he said of the oldest living Heisman winner who won the award when Phelps was six.

When Phelps became the head coach at St. Gabriel's (Pa.) High School in 1965, he designed the uniforms and wanted to incorporate something about Notre Dame into the game attire.

"Even though our primary color was purple, I put a green shamrock on our game pants," he said.

Phelps coached at St. Gabriel's for one year and won the state Pennsylvania Class C championship. He then became the freshman coach at the University of Pennsylvania, a position he held for four years, and helped recruit many of the players who went on to take the Quakers to a 28-1 season in 1969-70.

One of those recruits was Corky Calhoun, who lived in Waukegan, Ill. In the fall of 1968, on one of his trips to Illinois, Phelps made a side trip to Notre Dame. He had a strong relationship with Johnny Druze, who had been one of the Seven Blocks of Granite at Fordham with Vince Lombardi and later an assistant football coach at Notre Dame under Frank Leahy and Terry Brennan.

"Johnny called Moose Krause and he arranged for me to meet him," said Phelps. "But, before I met Moose, I went to Notre Dame Stadium and walked to the middle of the field. I mentally flashed back to my youth. I could hear Bill Stern calling games on WOR radio. I had goose bumps standing in the middle of that field. The visit only confirmed to me that this is where I wanted to be."

Two years later Phelps, with the help of Druze, was named the head coach at Fordham. He took over a team that had been 10-15 the previous year and led the Rams to a 26-3 record and top-10 final ranking.

Two of the games on Fordham's 1970-71 schedule were against Notre Dame and Marquette. In those days, there was no film exchange and coaches, usually assistants, would go to games and scout future opponents. Notre Dame played at Marquette on Jan. 12, 1971, so Phelps decided he could scout both teams with one trip.

Instead of calling Marquette to get a scouting pass, he called Eleanor Van der Hagen, Krause's secretary. He had made a point of striking up a friendship with Eleanor when he had visited three years earlier. Phelps was a master at paying attention to detail.

"Eleanor was a wonderful person," recalled Phelps. "I called her and asked her to call Marquette and see if they could give me a seat next to (Notre Dame sports information director) Roger Valdiserri on press row. In addition to scouting the game, I knew it would give me a chance to spend some time with Roger."

Sure enough, Eleanor pulled it off and Phelps spent the entire game in Valdiserri's ear.

On Feb. 18, 1971, Phelps had his chance to impress more than just Valdiserri as Notre Dame came to Madison Square Garden to face his 14th-ranked Fordham Rams. Thanks to a lot of interviews with New York's most popular sportscaster, Howard Cosell, Phelps and the Rams were the talk of New York and a sellout crowd of 19,500 was in attendance for the 9 p.m. tipoff.

The Irish had beaten UCLA behind Austin Carr's 46 points just three weeks earlier and were a virtual lock for an NCAA bid. Both teams were ranked in the top 20 of the Associated Press and United Press International polls entering the game.

Prior to the contest, Phelps enhanced his relationship with Valdiserri and his chances of getting the Notre Dame job. "It was just 30 minutes before the game and I was in the runway with Roger and Johnny Druze. Johnny asked me how I was going to stop Austin Carr.

"Roger said he wouldn't run to the locker room and tell Johnny Dee my plan because it was too close to the game. So I told them Notre Dame had struggled against a zone in five of its six losses. We hadn't played a zone all year, but we were going to use it for this game because Notre Dame wouldn't expect it. I told him we were going to double team Carr and let Sid Catlett shoot from the outside. We wanted someone other than Carr to beat us."

The strategy worked and Fordham defeated Notre Dame that night 94-88. It was Notre Dame's only loss over the last eight games of the regular season. The victory also gave Phelps a common accomplishment with Parseghian. Ara had impressed Notre Dame administrators by beating Notre Dame as Northwestern coach four times from 1959-62 before he was hired by Notre Dame president Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. Now Phelps had beaten the Irish on the brightest stage in the college basketball world.

"That night I sold New York City on Fordham's basketball program. And, I sold Roger Valdiserri that I could be the next coach at Notre Dame."

Phelps became the hottest coach in the country by the end of that season and was approached by Virginia Tech and Pennsylvania. Both schools were willing to pay $35,000 a year for four years. But Phelps was going to wait for Notre Dame. He talked with Valdiserri often and Valdiserri suggested Dee's resignation was on the way.

On April 30, 1971, as Valdiserri was putting out a release on Dee's resignation, Phelps was interviewing with Notre Dame executive vice president Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., at the Detroit airport.

"He told me he expected us to graduate our players, never get in trouble with the NCAA and to be competitive. I asked him, `What do you mean by competitive?' He said, `About 18 wins a year,'" said Phelps.

At the conclusion of the interview, Father Joyce said the job paid $18,000 a year, plus an additional $3,000 for radio and television shows, plus a car. That was just a little over half of what Penn and Virginia Tech were offering.

"That didn't matter," recalled Phelps. "I would have taken that job for food coupons for my wife and kids at the North Dining Hall."

In fact, that initial four-year contract would be the only multi-year contact Phelps had at Notre Dame. He worked from year to year after the 1975 season.

Brimming with confidence, the "electric young coach of the Fighting Irish," as Dick Enberg called him, did not inherit a easy situation. It was going to be a rebuilding situation because Carr, Notre Dame's greatest player, had graduated. His 2,560 career points still stand as the school record. Plus, there were six other very good seniors, including Collis Jones, a 24-point scorer in 1970-71, who also graduated.

The outlook became worse because John Shumate, the leading scorer on the 1971 freshman team, contracted a rare blood disorder and could not play in 1971-72. Plus, the only returning player with any degree of experience, Doug Gemmell, seriously injured himself in a motorcycle accident, an injury that ended his career.

Phelps' first game as head coach in the final year freshmen were ineligible (Gary Brokaw and Dwight Clay were on the Irish freshman team) he started five sophomores. The Irish stayed with Michigan for half the game but lost 101-83. It marked the first of 20 losses that season against just six wins.

Phelps always scheduled the best and he played eight games against top-20 teams, including five against top-10 clubs, that first year. One of those games was against first-year Indiana coach Bob Knight, whose Hoosier team was ranked 10th in the nation by UPI. The Dec. 18, 1971 game also marked the dedication of Assembly Hall.

It proved a perfect storm for an Indiana celebration. Indiana won 94-29, still the fewest points Notre Dame has scored in a game since 1942 and the only time in history a Notre Dame team has had as many turnovers as points. Indiana forward John Ritter outscored the entire Notre Dame team (31-29).

"The next day I got calls from my buddies in New York. `Digger, the wire service switched the digits on your score against Indiana.' I told them we had lost at the buzzer," he said with a grin.

It got so bad by the end of the season that Phelps told a writer from the Chicago Tribune, "We have to scrimmage every day so I know what it feels like to win."

The Irish started the next season with a 1-6 record, but the team gradually improved. Four of the first seven losses came by two points or in overtime. The fever finally broke on Jan. 7, 1973, when Notre Dame beat Kansas in overtime 66-64.

"When you are in the development of a program, you look for one win to turn your program around. That victory came for us when we beat Kansas in overtime," Phelps said.

The Irish won 17 of their last 23 and reached the finals of the National Invitation Tournament. In those days only 25 teams made the NCAA Championships, so the NIT qualified as a big deal. The Irish defeated USC, Louisville and North Carolina (coached by Dean Smith) before a heart-breaking 92-91 loss to Virginia Tech in the championship on a buzzer jumper off an offensive rebound by Bobby Stevens.

Despite the loss, 3,000 Notre Dame students, including the entire band, met the team on campus Monday when it returned from New York. The students lifted Phelps on their shoulders.

When Phelps first came to Notre Dame, he would schedule meetings with the students in the lobbies of their residence halls during the fall semester. He hit just about every dorm at some point and the topics ranged from politics to religion to economics--to basketball. Everything was on the table.

He knew the support of the student body for the football team and he wanted it to reach a similar level in basketball. He took the personal approach and, as the students lifted him on their shoulders, he knew those sessions had had an impact.

With all five returning starters from the NIT finalist team, plus the addition of a recruiting class that included potential star Adrian Dantley, a future member of the Naismith Hall of Fame, Notre Dame had become a nationally-relevant program again.

The 1973-74 Notre Dame team did not reach the NCAA Final Four, as Phelps' 1977-78 squad did, but it was his best team. Its accomplishments were considerable and many considered it the best team in Notre Dame history.

Everyone remembers the win over UCLA that ended the 88-game winning streak, Phelps' first of seven wins over the number-one ranked team. But that year featured so much more.

Few remember that the UCLA win marked the start of one of the great 11-day runs in college basketball history. The Tuesday after that win over the Bruins, the Irish went to Kansas to face a 17th-ranked Jayhawks team that would go on to the NCAA Final Four that same year. Talk about an assignment with the potential to be the all-time letdown game. But the Irish, behind Shumate, won 76-74. It's one of the great wins in Notre Dame history when you consider all the factors.

When you look at that schedule you have to ask, "What was Digger thinking?" On Thursday, St. Francis (Pa.) came to South Bend and the Irish won easily. The morning after that game, the Irish got back on a plane to travel to Los Angeles to face UCLA again, just seven days after the end of the 88-game streak. UCLA was ready and defeated the Irish by 19 points behind 32 from Walton.

The following Tuesday night, fifth-ranked Marquette came to South Bend with a 16-1 record. After a battle of technical fouls between Marquette coach Al McGuire and Phelps, the Irish came away with a 69-63 victory. Marquette went on to the national championship game that year against North Carolina State.

In summary, Notre Dame beat three of the four teams that would go to the Final Four at the end of the year in an 11-day period, a time frame in which the Irish had to play two other games. It is still the only time a team has beaten three of the teams in the Final Four during the regular season. And the Irish did it in 11 days.

A look at the final AP poll for 1973-74 also reveals that Phelps and the Irish beat four of the teams that finished in the final top 10. There were six wins over top-20 teams, including four top 10s at the times of the games.

Phelps beat seven different coaches that year who would go on to be named to the Naismith Hall of Fame: John Thompson (Georgetown), Fred Taylor (Ohio State), Bob Knight (Indiana), John Wooden (UCLA), Al McGuire (Marquette) Frank McGuire (South Carolina) and Ray Meyer (DePaul).

The 26 wins against three losses were the most victories by a Notre Dame team between 1909-2010. The team featured three All-Americans in Dantley, Shumate and Brokaw.

The 1973-74 season marked the start of the greatest era in Notre Dame basketball. Eight straight seasons in the NCAA Championships, seven of which included at least one NCAA victory. There was a 1978 Final Four appearance, two trips to the Elite Eight and seven Sweet 16s. The Irish ranked in the AP top 10 98 times, including 58 times in the top five (third among all Division I programs) during that eight-year run. The Irish posted six wins over the number-one team, 14 wins over top-five opponents, 21 top-10 wins and 33 top-20 victories.

Phelps that year began his series of seven wins over number-one-rated opponents. He remains the only coach to beat seven different schools when they were number one. On the court, from a national standpoint, that will be Digger Phelps' legacy.

"There has never been a better coach in getting a team ready for a big game," said former Notre Dame guard Ray Martin, who played a key role in Notre Dame's 71-70 win over UCLA that ended the all-time winning streak. Martin went on to a long coaching career, including the 1983 season when he was an assistant on Jim Valvano's national championship North Carolina State team.

Phelps' teams played 22 different coaches who are in the Naismith Hall of Fame and defeated 20 of them at least once. His teams beat Rick Pitino, Bob Knight and Larry Brown at two different schools. He owns wins over each of the top four winningest coaches of all time -- Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Bob Knight and Dean Smith.

The 1974-81 streak included the NCAA Final Four season of 1977-78.

"I called that my Noah's Ark team because we had two of everything that year. I really thought we could get to the Final Four and win it all that year," said Phelps.

Eight players from that team went on to play in the National Basketball Association, including Bill Laimbeer, Kelly Tripucka, Orlando Wooldridge and Bill Hanzlik who all played at least 10 years in the league.

Seven players on the roster would score at least 1,000 points in their careers, the first team in the history of college basketball to have seven players eventually score at least 1000 points.

The Irish that year registered seven wins over top-20 teams, still the most in a season in Notre Dame history. One of the victories came over number-one-ranked Marquette, a game in which Notre Dame trailed at the half by 14 at the half then won by six (65-59). Notre Dame's three NCAA Championship wins were all against top-20 teams.

While the highlight years of Phelps' career came during the 1974-81 era, there were many other significant accomplishments in the second decade under Digger. There was another win over number-one-ranked North Carolina in 1986-87, one of four top-20 wins that year. That team reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championships. Six of his last seven years he took Notre Dame to the NCAA Championships.

When Phelps concluded his 20-year run at Notre Dame he had a record of 393-197. He enjoyed 12 seasons with at least 20 wins and 14 NCAA Championships invitations. He coached 10 seasons in which he took the Irish to a final top-20 ranking, including eight top-10 finishes. He had a run of six straight top-10 seasons, just one short of the seven in a row Parseghian had during his Notre Dame football career.

Fifty-one of Phelps' wins came over top-20 teams, the most in Notre Dame history. Twenty-seven wins came at the Athletic and Convocation Center and 24 happened away from home. He had seven wins over number-one-rated foes, 20 wins over top-five teams and 30 wins over top-10 teams.

Still, the statistic that means most to Phelps is the 100 percent graduation rate for his four-year players (57 of 57). He was certainly proud when Dantley was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame, but he was equally as proud when Florida State won the national championship in college football this year knowing that one of his former players, Stan Wilcox, is the athletic director of the Seminole program.

Phelps was always interested in making sure his student-athletes were prepared for life after basketball. He used to post the front page of the day's newspaper in the locker room, then before practice he would ask a player about something that was going on in the world.

Each senior had to schedule a couple of job interviews before the beginning of the season. When the team went on the road and there was an alumni gathering at some point during the trip, he made sure one of his players spoke to the group, providing experience in public speaking.

I have known Digger Phelps since my freshman year at Notre Dame when I was one of the many students who stormed the court after that win over UCLA broke the 88-game streak. As I look back on his career, his considerable accomplishments and the way he reached those milestones, with incomparable passion for his players and his school, with a 100 percent graduation rate and a perfect NCAA compliance record, I must give him one compliment that should make him smile.

Digger, you were the Ara Parseghian of Notre Dame basketball.

Hall of Fame Coaches Digger Phelps Defeated in his Coaching Career
Coach (Schools)
Jim Boeheim (Syracuse)
Larry Brown (UCLA and Kansas)
Lou Carneseca (St. John's)
Pete Carril (Princeton)
John Chaney (Temple)
Denny Crum (Louisville)
Chuck Daly (Boston College*)
Marv Harshman (Washington)
Bob Knight (Army* and Indiana)
Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)
Guy Lewis (Houston)
Al McGuire (Marquette)
Frank McGuire (South Carolina)
Ray Meyer (DePaul)
Ralph Miller (Oregon State)
Rick Pitino (Boston University and Kentucky)
Dean Smith (North Carolina)
Fred Taylor (Ohio State)
John Thompson (Georgetown)
John Wooden (UCLA)
* - won as Fordham head coach in 1970-71

Tim Bourret was a University of Notre Dame freshman in 1974 when the Fighting Irish victory over UCLA ended the Bruins' 88-game winning streak. He is the author of "Digger Phelps' Tales from the Notre Dame Hardwood."

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