Tag Archives: featured

Repaying Your Student Loan: 7 Essential Tips You Should Know

October 26, 2013

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If you borrowed money to finance your college education, you are in good company. According to data from FICO, the average student owes educational financiers $27,253; a figure which represents a 58% rise since 2005. The following tips will come in handy as you prepare to repay your student loan. [...]

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European Scientists Insist GMO Debate not over Yet

October 25, 2013

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European unionThe European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility has come out to strongly criticize the assertion that genetically modified crops are now safe. This is after the biotech giants Syngenta and Monsanto were awarded the 2013 World Food Prize.

The coalition brings together over 90 academics, scientists and physicians. In a statement, the network seeks to address widespread claims in circulation purporting that the GMO debate is now over. [...]

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Augusta’s Master Plan for Revitalization

October 14, 2013

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Lee Epstein, attorney and land use planner working for sustainability in the mid-Atlantic region, recently discussed Augusta’s master plan for revitalization, on the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) Staff Blog. Below is a summary and highlight of the key points covered. 

augusta streets

The city of Augusta has many faces: some see the sweet green golf courses with fiendish sand traps, while others see it as their home, a heart of the South and third-largest city in the state.

Distressingly, the city has begun to lose its luster, in tune with many other great cities in the United States. These cities are fading due to a combination of empty downtown areas and an increase in suburban sprawl.

The neighborhoods could definitely do with some renovation. Not all is lost, however; the Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program has come up with intensive plans to revitalize this old Southern belle of a city.

The Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program (ASDIP) has paired up with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to use one of their challenge grants to revitalize Augusta and its empty neighborhoods. The project’s main goal is to upgrade Augusta, injecting sustainable economic development, enhanced transportation, and improved neighborhoods to bring the city back to life. The program is focused on results, not just plans.

regency mallThey hope to work wonders on Downtown Augusta – ranging from the 4.5 mile long Dean’s Bridge Road, to the Regency Mall and through the neighborhoods near the rail yards. Like many malls in America, Regency Mall slowly faded and then died, becoming an abandoned relic. With the ASDIP program in place, it would become a village center, while the neighborhoods leading to the mall would offer the basic amenities needed to sustain a bustling community. These would include farmer’s markets, grocery stores, medical clinics, and small restaurants – all the ingredients needed to create a successful neighborhood. During the rebuilding process, they will also add some mixed-unit and higher density housing, though older neighborhoods will likely remain untouched.

Another large focus of the project would be transportation. Without accessibility, the revitalized sections would never flourish. Many elderly or mid-to-lower income residents don’t have cars or do not drive, so a renewed public transport system will be required to ferry them to the rejuvenated sections of Augusta. The program will also create better walking areas, with repaved sidewalks and more sitting areas in shady sections, as well as pedestrian walkways and crossing areas. Bike lanes will also be implemented and made safer.

The hub of the transport reform would be a new transit center to replace an old bus transfer station. At the same time, a nearby building will be rebuilt to become a pedestrian shopping and commercial village.

They hope to improve the number of parks and playgrounds, as well as renew previously existing ones. The program looks to acquire more land for public parks in strategic neighborhood locations, as well as improve storm water management and other green projects. The public areas would be enriched by public art and mixed-use centers for everyone, creating a welcoming, friendly neighborhood feeling.

Most impressively, this project has been meticulously planned for and articulated, with required costs enumerated and accounted for. Specific proposals have also been evaluated, together with potential funding sources – both public and private. The Augusta Sustainable Development Implementation Program members appear to have spared no effort to make this program successful, identifying all possible ways of fulfilling their plans for urban development as well as managing vacant housing. All in all, this project stands to be one of Augusta’s best chances for revitalization – restoring its former glory as well as propelling it towards the future.

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Exploring the Islands Surrounding Singapore

September 25, 2013

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Singapore is a metropolitan city and a melting pot of people, languages and culture. There is no lack of activity or novelty in this urban island, but city life can sometimes take its toll on the mind and body. Whether you are a tourist or a local, the islands surrounding Singapore offer both a welcome refuge from the concrete jungle and a peek into Singapore’s pre-urban past. Let’s check out some of these destinations within a two-hour boat ride from Singapore.

Pulau Ubin

pulau ubinPulau Ubin is one of the few remaining undeveloped areas within Singapore. Located 15 minutes away from Changi pier, Ubin is an enchanting destination that has an element of timelessness and is a must-see for any would be visitor. It stands in sharp contrast to the skyscraper filled mainland, with one of its major attractions being the 19th century wooden houses that are home to cheery, easy-going villagers.

Some of its rural charm includes unfettered forests, age old dust paths and a laid back pace of life that makes one feel liberated from the modern pressures of life. Visitors have the option of cycling off to a wetland reserve – Chek Jawa – or simply whiling away at the local eatery enjoying the tranquility of the rural landscape.

You can reach the island by catching a bumboat from the Changi ferry terminal.

St John’s Island

st john

St John’s Island is another popular destination within Singapore. It offers an idyllic retreat for visitors who can choose among picnicking at its remarkable beach, getting a tan or even just strolling around the island to experience nature at her best.

St John’s Island also has an exquisite coral reef home to a school of dolphins that on a good day can be seen playing in the water. For individuals who seek tranquility, taking part in a nature walk conducted by the local marine institute would be a good idea.

The island can be accessed via the daily ferries leaving from Marina South Pier.

Batam

batam resortAlthough Batam (part of Indonesia) is known for its luxurious resorts and sprawling golf courses, it is not the reserve of well-heeled travelers. There are actually numerous locations on this island that offers budget-friendly refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life. Located 20 kilometers from Singapore’s south coast, Batam is also a gateway to Indonesia and its famous Riau Archipelago.

Visitors have the option of hiring a vehicle and setting out on an enchanting drive through the island. Some of the most notable landmarks that can be viewed during these drives include the Barelang bridge – a signature landmark in Batam and camp Sinam: now a ghost town that once hosted thousands of refugees during the Indochina war.

For those more interested in having a good time, the Melur beach renowned for its pristine conditions is the destination of choice. You can then spend the rest of the day at the Sekupang district best known for its luxurious spa and massage treatments.

The island can be accessed via BatamFast Ferry which runs a frequent 45 minute ferry service departing from Singapore’s Harbourfront Terminal.

Bintan (Tanjung Pinang)

bintan--indonesia

This Indonesian island lies right next to Batam and can be best described as sleepy village with one of the finest beaches in Asia.

When visiting this island, it would be a good idea to first power-up with traditional buffet – Nasi Campur – before heading out to the coastline.

The view from the coastline is quite remarkable making a stroll on the peaceful stretches of sand one of the major highlights when visiting. The day can then be completed by a visit to the Penyangat island ruins (ancient capital of the Malay Kingdom) and a seafood meal at the Melayu square.

The island can be accessed via a 90 minute ferry ride from the Tanah Merah terminal.

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