Selasa, 31 Desember 2013

Top trends for spring

IT'S the first day of the year and time to take a look at your wardrobe and what to wear this season.

The key word here is 'curate'. Let's not push the panic button, and think about the consequences of not having the latest pieces from several collections. No one dies from wearing past season collections; the idea is that you create your own style.

Curating works by selecting essential and classic pieces. When it comes to building a wardrobe, it's very simple, you just need have a selection of excellent basics.

While you may think that any old T-shirt would do, quality counts. Cut and fit is very important. Go for tailored pants and jackets, a well cut suit, T-shirts made of the best fabric, several white shirts, pencil skirts or long skirts, a black dress ... this is the starting point.

From there, you move on to the seasonal collections, where you add in some trends for a fresh look as well as some fun pieces.

Don't forget to include the pre-collections, special collections and cruise/resort collections. You can pick up great investment pieces from here.

Always work with what you have, go through the collections and pick out things you know you're actually going to wear. As much as we, the fashion writers, love to gush about architectural proportions, dimensional silhouettes and fantastical creations, these are, at the end of the day, clothes, not art sculptures.

Though really, in matters of personal style, who says you can't look like a work of art if you want to?

Bear in mind there aren't many people who can carry off unusual proportions, so keep it simple, and stick to what works for you.

Fashion isn't rocket science and trends are just that, trends. A collection is merely a guide, the final look rests with you.

And since it's a new year, if you're thinking of a change, this is the best time to do it.

Here's a breakdown of some of the top trends Artistically-inclined

Art and fashion are never far apart and this season, it seemed like it was nothing but an artistic palette with Prada and the political street muralists and Chanel and Pantone-streaked dresses.

Streams of colour (Kenzo, Versace), splashes of paint, face-paintings (Jean-Charles de Castlebajac, Antonio Marras), paintings (Aquilano Rimoldi), graffiti (Louis Vuitton), graphics (just about everyone) ... everything under the sun.

If you're leaning towards an artisanal bent, this is definitely your season.

Tribal beat

Pick a tribe, any tribe. The world is your oyster and it's a movement towards embracing the inner warrior in you. Cultural influences are a major trend, and it was all over the runways. From Celine, Junya Watanabe, Valentino, Givenchy and Alexander McQueen, it's a mish-mash of different cultures. But what does it matter? You're a global citizen, and your tribe is a universal one. Anything goes in this new world order.

In full bloom

Well it is Spring, and where would we be without flowers? Pretty posies, 3D blooms and delightful renditions of florals permeated the catwalk as flowers made their presence felt. Dior, Mary Katrantzou, Jonathan Saunders, Rochas and Marc Jacobs were among those with a love for flora and fauna. One of the easiest looks to wear, and also the one that most people trip over. If you're wearing separates, go easy and pair it with a plain or solid colour counterpart.

Shine bright like a diamond

More like a metallic one actually. Turn up the sheen and make it a shiny season. Satin, that rather unforgiving material is in full force, and metallics came in every colour of the rainbow. Lanvin, Isabel Marant and Preen were among those that had shimmer on display, though several other designers made a point to include several luminous numbers.

Since we've already recovered from wearing sequins during the day many moons ago, it's not such a huge leap to now look even more shiny by day. At the risk of looking too much like you're heading into cyborg territory, do what's always been done when it comes to a possibly overwhelming look. Break it up, and wear it with a matte piece and bring the shine down to a glow.

Sugar, sugar

Oh, the sugary sweetness of pastels! Summery yellows, cotton candy pinks, pale greens, it was a veritable fondant of colours as seen at Burberry, Miu Miu, Prabal Gurung and Christopher Kane, among others.. For those with a sweet tooth, it was all prettiness and light. Now these are colours that can be mixed and matched sans prejudice, as it's almost impossible to trip up on sorbet shades. Keep it to a maximum of three though, and check the tones to your skin.

Prada Cast Black Model for Spring 2014 Campaign: Cindy Bruna Marks Third ...

(Photo : Prada)

Prada recently released a preview of its spring 2014 advertising campaign, and among all of the brightly colored, mural-inspired looks, one person in particular really stood out in the image.

That individual is Cindy Bruna, the third woman of color ever cast for a campaign by Prada. For its fall 2013 campaign, the Italian luxury fashion house casted 18-year-old black model Malaika Firth, who was the first black model to appear in a Prada campaign since Naomi Campbell became the first ever back in 1994.

According to The Fashion Spot, Firth is also featured in the full spring 2014 campaign, which will debut in the coming weeks. The model also stars in Burberry's spring 2014 campaign alongside Jean Campbell, as well as other young British talents from the music and film industries, including Jamie Campbell Bower, Leo Dobson, Matilda Lowther, Neelam Johal and Callum Ball.

Bruna recently walked in this year's Victoria's Secret runway show, which was aired earlier this month.

Together, both Bruna and Firth show off Miuccia Prada's show-stopping spring looks in Prada's forthcoming campaign.

The collection features three-dimensionally embellished dresses with large faces on them, bejeweled bras worn over ribbed sweaters and coats, crewneck, sleeveless rugby sweaters, leg warmers that look like football socks, high rubber sport heels, crystals and encrusted paillettes, multicolored statement furs, feathered headbands, keyhole cutouts, colorblocking, jeweled external bras and Prada's take on Tevas.

Prada showed these items in a space that was transformed with huge murals - inspired by Diego Rivera and other Mexican muralists - of women's portraits that were commissioned from six contemporary artists who were told to focus on 'an active, strong woman' in their work.

'I saw them as strong, visible fighters. We need to be fighters in general. There is this debate about women again, and I want to interpret it. My instrument is fashion. I use my instrument to be bold. I had this idea that if you wear clothes so exaggerated and out there, people will look, and then they will listen. It's a sort of trick. I want to be nasty,' Prada said backstage in response to the questions regarding the models she sent down the runway.

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Baptist Fashion Week lets customers shop for good cause - KBTV Fox 4 Beaumont


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Baptist Fashion Week is actually just one night... but what a night it is! Visit trendy boutiques and shop with your friends, all while helping a good cause.

Last minute bid could change future of Fisker in Delaware

Just days before a judge was set to decide whether or not to approve the sale of Fisker Automotive to Hybrid Technologies LLC, another Chinese company is stepping up to bid on the luxury car manufacturer.

Wanxiang America Corp., China's largest auto parts manufacturer, made an 11 th hour bid to acquire Fisker Automotive.

Since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of November, Fisker has been speeding through a bankruptcy deal with Hybrid Tech, owned by Chinese billionaire Richard Li, with little opposition.

Wanxiang is offering $24.7 million and will assume some of Fisker's liabilities, according to reports. The company would continue manufacturing cars and move production to Michigan.

Wanxiang has also purchased A123, the bankrupt manufacturer that supplied batteries for Fisker.

Another bankruptcy hearing is set for Friday morning in Delaware. A judge will decide which Fisker sale plan he will approve.

Ilene Slatko, principal of Delaware Shareholder Services, watches bankruptcy hearings on behalf of stakeholders. She said the deal with Hybrid Tech was going unusually fast which could mean the large creditors are in agreement with the bankruptcy sale plan.

'There are creditors who have put sizable amounts into the company,' said Slatko. 'My guess is that they're already on board with this. Because they figured out through the debtors' attorneys that this is the best they're going to get.'

However, several objections to the sale have been filed in the past few days which could delay the process.

At one point, Fisker had secured more than half a billion dollars in federal loans and upward of a billion dollars in private investments including those who made investments in the company and those who put down a deposit for a vehicle.

Payments, now and in the future

The state of Delaware also provided the auto manufacturer with millions in loans and grants to help set up for car production at the shuttered General Motors in Newport, Delaware.

Thousands of creditors are listed in court documents and some aren't letting the luxury auto manufacturer off easy.

New Castle County wants the automaker to pay up the $1.1 million in property and school taxes owed on the Boxwood Plant in Newport. Other companies are owed money for materials and services that were provided but not paid for.

While Fisker doesn't have many tangible assets left to liquidate, the company did list its $20 million Delaware plant as an excluded item in bankruptcy papers, meaning the company has the option of holding on to the plant, presumably for liquidation.

Other legal action

In addition to bankruptcy, the company is also facing a class action lawsuit filed by former Fisker employees who were laid off earlier this year. Fisker executives are also being sued because they did not disclose the company's money troubles to potential investors.

Fisker blames the bankruptcy on a number of issues including supply chain disruptions, design delays and the inability to access additional or incremental liquidity. They also claim sales were affected by negative press after the company was forced to recall car's A123 batteries after cars began catching on fire.

Fisker also claims to have suffered a multimillion dollar loss when 339 Karma's were destroyed in Hurricane Sandy.

2013 in review: Fires, floods top stories in the Colorado Springs area - Colorado Springs Gazette


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A firefighter fights a blaze in a detached garage in the Black Forest area in Colorado on Table Rock Rd. on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. (Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette)

The warnings were everywhere.

Drought-stricken Colorado was primed for wildfire, and after a devastating 2012 fire season, people were on edge. Adding to the tension, thousands of acres scorched a year earlier meant a new threat loomed. Flash floods and the unknown consequences that could come with them were on everyone's minds as they looked to the sky. If rain fell too hard in the wrong places, catastrophe would strike.

The worst fears were realized, beginning in June with a rash of wildfires that included the Black Forest fire that would become the most devastating blaze in state history.

Two fires erupted June 11 in the Pikes Peak region.

The Royal Gorge fire sparked near Canon City, eventually burning more than 3,200 acres and destroying much of the Royal Gorge Park before it was fully contained on June 16.

Houses ignited soon after the Black Forest fire was reported, and thousands of northern El Paso County residents were evacuated as strong winds and high temperatures fueled the blaze. Two people were killed in the 14,280-acre fire and 488 homes were destroyed before full containment was reached on June 20.

As those fires raged, three others in southern Colorado converged to create a monster blaze that ravaged the forests near Wolf Creek Pass. The Papoose, Windy Pass and West Fork fires created a beast called the West Fork Complex. The blaze scorched more than 100,000 acres, and national reports painted a picture that made it look like the entire state was on fire.

After the fires slowed, the rains began to fall.

Flash floods hit the Waldo Canyon burn scar in July and August and gave a foreshadowing of deadly storms that in September left the entire Front Range drenched and running from raging floodwaters.

On July 1, the first of the flash floods that plagued the U.S. 24 corridor damaged homes and left people along Canon Avenue in Manitou Springs cleaning up mud. Another, less damaging flash flood struck the same area on July 9, and on Aug. 9 a strong surge sent vehicles hurdling down U.S. 24, killing a Divide man. The death of John Collins pushed emergency officials to a heightened sense of flood awareness and led the Colorado Department of Transportation to close a portion of the highway at the first hint of heavy rain over the more than 18,000-acre, ash-laden Waldo Canyon burn area.

Water, mud, rocks, trees and other debris poured out of the foothills the week of Sept. 11 in what officials called rains 'of Biblical proportion.' Some sections west of Denver and Colorado Springs received more than 10 inches of rain and on Sept. 12, roads washed away, homes were destroyed and people were either stranded or killed from southern El Paso County all the way north to the Wyoming border.

Ten people died that week, including two in El Paso County. That brought the Pikes Peak region's summer flood death toll to four, including Collins' death and Rose Hammes, a 17-year-old who was swept away by floodwaters in August; James Bettner, 47, who was found in Sand Creek in September; and Danny Davis, 54, who was found in Fountain Creek, also in September.

Warnings that the flash flood danger from the Waldo burn scar would loom for years led to mitigation work by local and state officials, including the addition of a new, much larger culvert under U.S. 24.

While the disasters dominated the news for months, statewide issues also repeatedly took the spotlight: The state legislature passed gun control laws, which led to the recall of two state senators; the possession of recreational marijuana was legalized and municipalities debated whether to allow pot sales; and voters denied a huge tax increase for public school funding.

See the top videos of 2013 here. See the top photos of 2013 here.

- Recreational marijuana might have been legalized by voters in 2012, but in 2013 all the laws, rules and regulations surrounding the new industry were hammered out by lawmakers. The federal government announced it would turn a blind eye to states with legalized pot as long as it wasn't trafficked across state lines or wasn't involved in other crimes. Retail recreational pot sales will begin Jan. 1 - but not everywhere.

No licenses have been issued for sales in El Paso or Teller counties because most jurisdictions have banned sales. Retail sales might be permitted in Manitou Springs in 2014.

In July, the Colorado Springs City Council split 5-4 to ban retail sales of recreational marijuana. It was a surprise and blow to proponents of Amendment 64, who said the council's ruling did not represent the will of the people. Colorado Springs voters approved Amendment 64, the state law that allows adults 21 and older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow six marijuana plants on their property. The law allows cities to regulate the sale of marijuana for recreational use like they do alcohol sales. But cities can opt out of the law, and many did.

Most of the 136 licenses for marijuana shops issued by the state in December were for businesses in the Denver area.

- In December, the City of Colorado Springs was awarded from the state an estimated $120.5 million over 30 years to help finance the City for Champions - four major tourism projects that proponents say will transform the region.

The projects are an Olympic museum in southwest downtown and an adjacent sports arena, a sports medicine clinic at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and an Air Force Academy visitors' center near Falcon Stadium. Proponents danced in the street at the news, but now must plan the projects, including financing the rest of the $130 million it will take to build them. To get the state tax increment financing - a percentage of the net new sales tax generated in a specified zone over 30 years - the city must break ground on the four projects within five years and complete them within 10 years.

- Lawrence Leighton Smith, the music director of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic since 2000, died Oct. 25 under hospice care from complications due to Binswanger's disease, a form of dementia. He was 77 years old.

- The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region announced Andrew Vick as its new executive director. He starts Feb. 1, and replaces Christina McGrath, who announced her resignation in October. Vick last served as executive director of the Allegany Arts Council in Cumberland, Md.

- The Business of Art Center in Manitou Springs was renamed the Manitou Art Center in October. About 185 names were suggested.

- In October, City Attorney Chris Melcher, who had become the focal point of a power struggle in the city's new form of government, announced his resignation effective at the end of January. Melcher had drawn criticism from past and current City Council members who said his legal advice typically aligns with the political position of Mayor Steve Bach. Melcher said the strife between the legislative and the executive branches was a reaction to the city's new form of government, and he said his office presented unbiased legal advice on what was best for the city.

- Colorado Springs School District 11 closed two elementary schools and one high school in May as a result of declining enrollment and a plan to consolidate schools and sell off under-utilized properties. The high school, Wasson, was repurposed into a campus with eight alternative-type educational programs, including a new early college program.

- As part of a large-scale leadership and educational restructuring that began in January 2011, Falcon School District 49's board hired a new chief education officer, Peter Hilts, for the top administrative position in the district. It's the first time a chief education officer was hired and not appointed. It's one of the top three leadership jobs. Hilts took over for the start of the 2013-2014 academic year.

- Five school districts canceled November school board elections because there were no contested seats. A total of 51 open school board seats were filled. Voters in Monument overwhelmingly turned down a $4.5 million tax increase for Lewis-Palmer School District 38, and a statewide tax proposal to benefit education also failed.

- Common Core Standards were adopted by most states in an attempt to improve education. The standards are designed to provide a clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be relevant to the real world, reflecting critical thinking and collaboration.

Colorado adopted the standards and they are beginning to be implemented.

The state also requires that teachers and principals be evaluated to more stringent standards.

- Former Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director Tom Clements was shot to death at the front door of his Monument home on March 19. His killing, which drew international attention, came just hours after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law new gun control laws. The suspect is Evan Ebel, a 28-year-old parolee with ties to a white supremacy prison gang, the 211 Crew, who died in a shootout with Texas police two days after Clements' death.

- Former Colorado Springs police officer Joshua Dwayne Carrier was sentenced to 70 years-to-life in what a judge called an 'unprecedented' string of sexual abuses against 18 male students at Horace Mann Middle School. The sentence was imposed by 4th Judicial District Judge David A. Gilbert, capping a bitter legal saga that included two lengthy trials in 2012 and more than $10 million in civil settlements to be paid to victims and their families by Colorado Springs School District 11 and the city of Colorado Springs.

- El Paso County tied its 2002 record for homicides, recording 13 as of Dec. 30. The city of Colorado Springs had 30 homicides, two fewer than the record of 32.

- The Colorado Department of Transportation gave its blessing in October to funding a critical $95 million transportation project: the long-awaited Interstate 25-Cimarron Street interchange reconstruction.

The transportation commission also approved money for an I-25/Fillmore Street interchange and improvements to interchanges at Judge Orr Road and U.S. 24 and Colorado 21 (Powers Boulevard) and Old Ranch Road.

The funding is available under Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships, or RAMP, which allows CDOT to advance $300 million a year for five years to fund projects.

- The 4-mile segment of an expanded Interstate 25 opened Thanksgiving Day with new lanes from Woodmen Road to Interquest Parkway in both directions.

The work is part of the I-25 expansion project - an 11-mile project in northern El Paso County that will add one lane in each direction of I-25 between Woodmen Road in Colorado Springs and Colorado 105 in Monument.

The project is set for completion by Dec. 31, 2014.

- More than 30 black-footed ferrets were released into the wild Oct. 30 on a cattle ranch northwest of Pueblo. The monumental release of the predator that was considered extinct in the late 1970s came little more than a week after partners in 12 states completed a black-footed ferret 'programmatic safe harbor agreement,' allowing private landowners to release ferrets on their land without having to worry about liability or loss of ownership rights if something happens to the animals. Ranchers say the ferrets are crucial in a fight against prairie dogs that have ravaged pastures for decades.

- Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning set the NFL single-season record with his 51st passing touchdown on Dec. 22 at Houston and wound up with 55. He also set the season yardage record at 5,477 and the team scored a record 606 points. Tight end Julius Thomas caught the record-breaker, one of four Manning touchdowns in the game. The Broncos also set an NFL record with four players catching at least 10 touchdowns this season.

- By virtue of their win at Houston, the Broncos won the AFC West for the third straight season, a franchise first. As the top seed in the AFC, Denver also will host a playoff game for the third straight season. The Broncos enter the NFL playoffs as the favorite to reach the Super Bowl from the AFC.

- Despite winning 57 games during the Nuggets' regular season, a franchise record, Denver moved forward without the two biggest names on the bench (George Karl, fired) and in the front office (Masai Ujiri, to Toronto). Brian Shaw was introduced as the coach.

- The Colorado Avalanche traveled into their championship past to jump-start their franchise. Patrick Roy, who won a pair of Stanley Cups as the Avs' goalie, was hired to replace Joe Sacco as coach. The Roy era opened with a flurry, the Avs winning 11 straight to start the season. Joe Sakic is the GM.

- Pine Creek and Coronado win state football titles, marking the first time since 1998 that a state football championship had been brought back to Colorado Springs. Both titles were also first for both programs.

- Colorado College loses in the last WCHA Final Five championship game, falling one win short of second NCAA Tournament bid in three years and a winning record, ending a streak of 20 non-losing seasons.

- USA Basketball announces its national headquarters will move to Tempe, Ariz., in fall 2015.

- Wrestling wins International Olympic Committee vote to remain in 2020 Summer Games on Sept. 8.

- CC hockey plays its first National Collegiate Hockey Conference game on Oct. 18.

- CC women's soccer hosts its first NCAA Tournament game in 22 years on Nov. 16.

- Ragain Sports announces its USL PRO soccer franchise will begin play in Colorado Springs in spring 2015 on Dec. 5.

- Air Force football suffers through the worst season of the Troy Calhoun period, going 2-10 with only one win over FBS competition, limited by youth, injuries and a porous defense.

- Air Force hockey fails to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in seven years.

- The Rockies had a new manager in Walt Weiss and said goodbye to a franchise icon, first baseman Todd Helton, but didn't fare too well during the season.

- A fully paved Pikes Peak International Hill Climb yielded an astonishing 8 minutes, 13.878 seconds record by Sebastien Loeb driving a modified minivan in 2013.

- In May, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed five gun bills into law amid a vocal outcry that the laws infringed on Second Amendment Rights. The laws prohibit new sales or transfers of magazines that hold more than 15 bullets or eight shotgun shells; require background checks on all gun sales even between private parties; charge a fee for background checks done for gun sales; enable judges to remove guns from suspects in domestic violence cases and prohibit online-only concealed carry laws.

The laws led to the recall of state Sens. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, and the resignation of Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster. Hudack was targeted for recall and resigned so Democrats could keep their narrow margin in the state Senate. Morse was replaced by Sen. Bernie Herpin and Giron was replaced by Sen. George Rivera - both Republicans.

Republicans have vowed to attempt to overturn the laws.

- More than 1,400 same-sex couples in Colorado have been united through civil unions since the governor signed a civil union law in May granting many of the same rights as marriage. It took Democrats several years to get civil unions into law, including a tortured 2012 session when the bill was never brought to a vote despite indications it had enough support to pass and a special session where it was narrowly defeated.

- A surge of shoppers temporarily caused glitches to the state's new health care marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado, during the website's first few hours of operation Oct. 1.

Overall, Colorado's state-run exchange operated far more smoothly than its federal counterpart,, but problems arose. An unwieldy Medicaid application appeared to delay enrollments through the fall, and enrollments were lackluster for much of October and November.

Insurance enrollments surged in December - reaching 42,771 by Dec. 23. Still, the exchange has been in constant danger of missing its enrollment goals - and that will be a major focus in the new year. Coloradans had until Dec. 27 to purchase health insurance, if they wanted coverage to start at the beginning of 2014.

- In October, Memorial Health System marked one year under the control of University of Colorado Health - a milestone for the formerly city-owned hospital system.

During the first year of University's 40-year lease, the hospital system began work on a three-year, $90-million improvement plan. University of Colorado Health spent $37 million on capital improvements during its first nine months - much of which went to a $40.1 million electronic records system that went live in early November.

Officials announced plans to seek a Level I Trauma Center designation, and the hospital also added dozens of doctors to its payroll, in large part by acquiring two Colorado Springs-based cardiology practices.

But challenges remain: Revenue and hospital visits largely remained flat, hospital officials said. Observers said the biggest change came in offering the hospital system a sense of stability.

'For the first time in a long time, we have a firm foundation on who we are and what we stand for,' said Mike Scialdone, the hospital's chief executive.

- Two former Fort Carson soldiers received the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for valor, this year for 'conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity' during a 2009 battle at Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan. Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha received the medal Feb. 11 and Staff Sgt. Ty Carter received the medal Aug. 26. At the time of the battle, both were assigned to Bravo Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

- Nine troops assigned to Colorado Springs military installations or with significant ties to the area died in Afghanistan this year. A Colorado National Guardsman from Watkins also died in Afghanistan. Two Fort Carson soldiers died in Kuwait in May due to a vehicle accident.

In 2013, more than 13,000 Colorado Springs-based troops deployed, according to local military installations: 12,000 from Fort Carson, 950 from Peterson Air Force Base, 157 from Schriever Air Force Base and 80 from the Air Force Academy.

- In July the first elements of Fort Carson's 4th Infantry Division headquarters headed to Afghanistan to help close the books on America's longest war.

While most deployments last nine months, the length of the division's deployment has been left up in the air, pending events on the ground. All American troops are expected home by the end of 2014.

- The Oct. 1 federal government shutdown forced about 6,000 Defense Department workers off the job for a week in the Pikes Peak region. It closed commissaries and limited services on the region's military bases.

The Pentagon changed course days later, citing the Republican sponsored Pay Our Military Act. Services were restored and all but a handful of Defense Department civilians returned to work Oct. 7.

Congressional enaction of sequestration and other planned cuts totaling $1 trillion over 10 years took a bite out of local defense spending. Civilian Pentagon workers had to take six unpaid furlough days and the Army announced cuts of 1,500 soldiers at Fort Carson.

- A woman took command of the Air Force Academy, breaking a 59-year string of male leadership.

Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, a 1981 graduate of the academy, was also the school's first female to hold its top cadet rank. Johnson said she didn't consider the promotion in terms of her gender.

'It's a very American experience,' she said.

Johnson replaced Lt. Gen. Mike Gould.

- The single-family housing market continued to rebound in 2013. The pace of home construction was at its highest level since 2006; home sales and prices increased throughout most of the year; and foreclosure filings late in the year were on pace to be at their lowest level in about a decade.

- Wal-Mart continued its growth in Colorado Springs by opening three new Neighborhood Markets - stores that are more comparable in size to traditional groceries than the retailer's Supercenters.

- The five-star Broadmoor hotel and resort in Colorado Springs expanded its menu of destination options with a pair of rustic retreats. In late summer, the hotel opened the Ranch at Emerald Valley, several cabins about 20 minutes west of the hotel on Pike National Forest land. The retreat closed about six weeks early in mid-September because of flooding that month; it's scheduled to re-open May 1. In 2014, the hotel plans to open Cloud Camp, another rustic retreat, on top of Cheyenne Mountain where hotel founder Spencer Penrose's historic lodge once stood. The Broadmoor also announced plans to upgrade two golf courses to accommodate major golf tournaments, but withdrew the plan after nearby residents voiced concerns about access in and out of their neighborhoods if the project was completed.

- Apartments were in demand in 2013, and rents soared as a result. The Colorado Springs-area vacancy rate of 5.4 percent in the third quarter was at a 12-year low, while average rents of $830 a month between July and September set a record high.

- This year saw some notable restaurant closures. Here's a look at shuttered eateries:

- La Creperie, 204 N. Tejon St., closed in October after being in business since September 1978.

- Merlinos' Belvedere, 1330 Elm Ave., Ca?n City, closed in December after being business since 1946.

- Charles Court, 1 Lake Ave. at The Broadmoor, closed October 21 after being in business since 1976.

- Little Market and Deli, 749 E. Willamette Ave., closed Dec. 24 after being in business since 1910.

- The Olive Branch, 23 S. Tejon St., closed Dec. 29 after being in business since 1979.

Contributors: Matt Steiner, Jakob Rodgers, Andrea Sinclair, Carol McGraw, Debbie Kelley, Erin Prater, Tom Roeder, Rich Laden, Monica Mendoza, Garrison Wells, Lisa Walton, Megan Schrader, Lance Benzel, Teresa Farney, Jen Mulson, Jim O'Connell, Joe Paisley, Scott Kaniewski and Paul Klee.

Majority of LA Fashion Insiders Say Nay to LA Fashion Week

Just like last year, we've tapped a handful of reputable fashion friends to weigh in on 2013's greatest hits (and misses). We've already named LA's best shops, brands, dream stores, buyer's remorse, purchases, 'hoods, worst trends, best words. Now, insiders are explaining why LA should or shouldn't have a Fashion Week.

Image via @stylefwla/Instagram

Jen Weinberg, Glamour West Coast editor: 'Nay. LA doesn't need a fashion week to prove it's a fashionable city.'

Simone Harouche, stylist and Simone Camille designer: 'Nay. Los Angeles Fashion Week has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. That said, there is definitely a place for LA fashion.'

Sonja Rasula, Unique LA founder: 'Nay. NYC has most of the media so no matter how awesome LA's Fashion Week is, it will never get the same amount of hype, coverage, press... So I say come up with something new, something our own, something unique.'

Richard Wainwright, A Current Affair co-founder: 'Nay. As it is, the fashion calendar is over a month long and buyers and editors are not going to extend an additional week to LA unless there is something really special to offer. Unfortunately, any established LA designers worth looking at already show in New York. I think we should focus on re-building market week and play to LA's strengths, like boutique shopping, denim, celeb/red carpet and vintage, using special events and social media to lure consumers rather than trying to compete with the already crowded existing fashion weeks.'

Kaya B. Mlle Mademoiselle designer: 'Nay. Too late in the game.'

Amanda Thomas, Luv Aj designer: 'Nay. Let's leave it to NYC and London to do what they do best.'

Melissa Akkaway, designer and Beckley Boutique owner: 'Because I live in LA, I feel that the LA designers are more relaxed in their designs and vibe. I think it would be interesting to do more of a presentation-based fashion week, highlighting different areas of the city and the designers. Steer away from the seriousness of runway shows and try something new and fresh.'

Christos Garkinos, Decades co-owner: 'What is LA Fashion Week?'

Monica Rose, stylist and designer: 'Yay for emerging talent in LA. I'm hopeful that LA fashion week productions will improve. I'm excited to see how the diverse scope of this city's designers resonate with future fashion weeks. It's only a matter of time.'

Tommy Lei, My Belonging blogger: 'I decided to attempt a few shows this past season and left somewhat underwhelmed. There is promise, but LAFW has a long way to go.'

Sarah St. Lifer, freelance journalist: 'I feel a tad guilty for saying this, but I have yet to participate in LA Fashion Week. I do hope that one day it will become something the fashion industry wholeheartedly embraces.' · All Year in Racked 2013 Posts [Racked] · Chanel Boy Bags, Hermès Riding Boots: This Year's Best Buys [Racked] ·'Miley' to 'Minimal': Insiders Describe 2013 Fashion in a Word [Racked]

A Banner Year for HSUS


What a year it has been for expanding protection for animals! The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, works tirelessly to expose animal abuse and put legislation in place that transforms the lives of millions of animals. Here are some of the highlights for 2013:

* Animal Testing -- The HSUS and its global arm Humane Society International persuaded government officials from three of the world's biggest economies to take decisive action against animal testing. The European Union implemented a marketing ban on cosmetics that have been tested on animals anywhere in the world; India has banned animal testing for cosmetics; and China has agreed to stop requiring animal testing of cosmetics manufactured in the country. As the CEO of PRAI Beauty, a global skincare company, I stand firmly against any form of animal testing.

* Laboratory Chimpanzees -- The HSUS played a crucial role in the passage of a bill in the U.S. Congress to continue funding for chimp sanctuaries. It also persuaded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to propose that all chimpanzees be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act; a final decision is expected in 2014. The HSUS also worked with the National Institutes of Health to plan for nearly 90 percent of government-owned chimpanzees to be retired to sanctuaries and to place significant restrictions on chimpanzee research.

* Canadian Seal Hunt -- A World Trade Organization panel upheld an existing ban on the sale of seal products. Keeping the ban in place is necessary to ending the hunt and validates the idea that animal welfare is a moral issue that can justify trade restrictions.

* Puppy Mills -- Working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, The HSUS championed a new rule to bring 2,000 Internet dog sellers under federal regulation, finally providing oversight for how these sellers operate. Investigators with The HSUS went undercover to expose how puppy mill dogs were being sold at flea markets and pet stores. The public also became aware of the American Kennel Club's ties with the puppy mill industry. These accomplishments raise awareness about the abuses of puppy mills and the importance of adopting one's new family member from a shelter.

* Horse Slaughter -- When the USDA issued grants of inspection to U.S. horse slaughter plants, The HSUS filed suit and temporarily blocked the opening of plants in Iowa, Missouri, and New Mexico. The HSUS also successfully advocated for passage of amendments to the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations bills to defund horse slaughter inspections, which if retained in the final FY 2014 spending bill, will restore the ban on horse slaughter in the U.S. The ultimate goal is passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports Act (H.R. 1094/ S.541), which would prevent the slaughter of American horses here in the U.S. and across our borders.

* Improving Conditions on Factory Farms - Another successful undercover operation lead to the conviction of seven workers at a Wyoming pig farm for animal cruelty. The HSUS also secured a settlement of more than $155 million against the owners and investors of a dairy cow slaughter plant that was cited for animal abuse. Another important victory for farm animals was the successful defense of California laws phasing out the extreme confinement of farm animals in crates and cages and prohibiting the force-feeding of ducks and geese for foie gras.

* Rejection of Gestation Crates -- Thanks to The HSUS and HSI, sows will live more humane lives as gestation crates are slowly phased out around the world. In the United States, food retailers such as Marriott and General Mills along with McDonald's, Burger King, Costco and Safeway are paving the way for a total end to the use of these cruel crates that severely restricts a sow's movement.

* Animal Fighting -- The HSUS won a big victory in securing an amendment to the farm bill that makes it a federal crime to attend an animal fight. The Congress is expected to pass the farm bill in January and then the animal fighting spectator ban will go into effect. Raids on dogfights and cockfights resulted in the rescue of hundreds of animals, including rescuing dogs from the second-largest dogfighting bust in U.S. history. In Costa Rica, HSI assisted law enforcement in saving close to 100 dogs from lives of suffering and fighting.

The HSUS believes that the best way to protect animals is through strong legislation to protect animals. In 2013 alone, 107 new state laws were put into place, from banning the trade of apes, baboons, and macaque monkeys as pets in Arkansas to defeating anti-whistleblower (ag-gag) legislation in all 11 states where factory farming interests introduced them.

Many powerful lobbies pour money into legislation that harms animals. The HSUS works to defeat harmful legislation while at the same time educating the public about cruelty. It is my hope that 2014 will be a banner year for the protection of animals. But it will only happen with your help.

New Year's Eve 2014 Livestream: Where To Watch The Times Square Ball Drop ...

New Year's Eve 2014 in Times Square is expected to bring a million visitors to New York City. For those that can't make it to NYC, a livestream will capture the celebration and all the musical acts, beginning at 5:55 p.m. EST, 2:55 p.m. PST.

Beyoncé Slammed for Sampling Shuttle Tragedy on New Album

Beyoncé has been labeled 'insensitive' by some current and former NASA astronauts and their families for sampling audio from the space shuttle Challenger disaster for a love song off her newly released album.

Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center Jan. 28, 1986. All seven crewmembers aboard were killed.

'Flight controllers here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction,' now-retired NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt said as the nation watched wreckage fall toward the ocean on live television.

Twenty-seven years later, Nesbitt's voice is heard at the beginning of the video for Beyoncé's new song 'XO,' about a troubled relationship. The singer has said that 'XO' was written and produced by Ryan Tedder and Terius Nash, who goes by the stage name The Dream.

The audio clip is short, lasting six seconds.

Beyonce, in an exclusive statement to ABC News this morning, said, 'My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster. The song 'XO' was recorded with the sincerest intention to help heal those who have lost loved ones and to remind us that unexpected things happen, so love and appreciate every minute that you have with those who mean the most to you.

'The songwriters included the audio in tribute to the unselfish work of the Challenger crew with hope that they will never be forgotten.'

But former and current NASA astronauts, employees and Challenger family members argue that using it in a pop song mocks the crew's sacrifice and opens fresh wounds.

June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee and a founder of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, told ABC News she is 'disappointed' in the singer's decision to include the clip.

'We were disappointed to learn that an audio clip from the day we lost our heroic Challenger crew was used in the song 'XO,'' she said. 'The moment included in this song is an emotionally difficult one for the Challenger families, colleagues and friends. We have always chosen to focus not on how our loved ones were lost, but rather on how they lived and how their legacy lives on today.'

Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee who now runs the website, said, 'This choice of historic and solemn audio is inappropriate in the extreme. The choice is little different than taking Walter Cronkite's words to viewers announcing the death of President Kennedy or 911 calls from the World Trade Center attack and using them for shock value in a pop tune.'

Cowing wants Beyoncé to remove the clip and apologize to families of the Challenger crew.

Several current NASA astronauts, who are not authorized to speak publicly, privately expressed similar dismay at what they say is Beyoncé's use of a tragedy to sell a pop song.

Retired NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson told ABC News, 'For the words to be used in the video is simply insensitive, at the very least.'

Anderson knows NASA tragedy firsthand. In 2003, he was assisting shuttle Columbia family members the moment news came that all seven had died when the craft disintegrated re-entering Earth's atmosphere.

But Anderson, who flew twice on the space shuttle and lived on the International Space Station for five months, seemed to give Beyoncé and her team the benefit of the doubt.

'What we do in space just isn't as important to young people today,' Anderson said.

Beyoncé was born in Houston, the same home as NASA's astronaut training campus, the Johnson Space Center. She has worked with the space agency in the past, once recording a wake-up greeting for the orbiting crew of STS-135, the final space shuttle flight.

'You inspire all of us to dare to live our dreams, to know that we're smart enough and strong enough to achieve them,' she told the Atlantis crew back in 2011.

ABC Catapults 40% Over Live + Same Day


Based on Nielsen's TV playback data, ABC shot up 40% over its Live + Same Day Adult 18-49 rating (to deliver a 2.1 in the final Live + 7 Day ratings), marking the biggest percentage gain of any major network during the week.ABC claimed 2 of the week's 3 biggest broadcast gainers in TV playback among Adults 18-49, with Modern Family (+1.9 rating points) - #2 and Grey's Anatomy (+1.8 rating points) - #3. Scandal (+1.4 rating points) was the week #1 biggest gainer for any 10pm broadcast series among Adults 18-49 (tied with CBS' Elementary). Modern Family (+4.0 million), Grey's Anatomy (+3.9 million) and Scandal (+3.7 million) all placed among the week's Top 10 biggest overall gainers.The Goldbergs increased its playback gain among Adults 18-49 for its 3rd consecutive telecast to deliver a new high, spiking +63% this week over its L+SD number.In the final Live + 7 Day ratings, the winter finale of Grey's Anatomy shot up to the week's Top 10 highest-rated broadcast series in Adults 18-49 (4.5 rating), ranking #6 versus #12 in the initial Live + Same Day numbers. In addition, the winter finale of Scandal (4.6 rating) jumped up to #5 (from #8) in the final L+7 rankings. Scandal solidified its claim as the week's #1 drama among Adults 18-49, while Grey's finished as TV's #2 drama in the L+7 numbers, moving ahead of CBS' NCIS (4.0).Season-to-Date TV Playback (9/23/13-12/15/13):Based on TV playback data for the 2013-14 season, ABC continues to claim the most Top 10 playback gainers of any broadcast network in Adults 18-49 and Total Viewers. With each show adding on at least +1.5 rating points in Adults 18-49 over their L+SD numbers, ABC has 4 of the season's 10 biggest TV playback gainers on the broadcast networks: Modern Family (+1.9 rating points), Grey's Anatomy (+1.8 rating points), Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (+1.8 rating points) and Scandal (+1.5 rating points). ABC owns 4 of the 10 biggest overall gainers on the broadcast networks (tied with CBS): Castle (+4.3 million), Modern Family (+4.2 million), Grey's (+4.0 million) and Scandal (+3.9 million).Nearly all of ABC's key returning series are seeing bigger percentage gains among Adults 18-49 from L+SD to L+7 this year than last: Castle (+57% vs. +50%), Dancing with the Stars (+20% vs. +18%), Grey's Anatomy (+64% vs. +55%), Last Man Standing (+46% vs. +40%), Modern Family (+50% vs. +46%), Nashville (+75% vs. +57%), The Neighbors (+30% vs. +16%), Once Upon a Time (+55% vs. +42%), Revenge (+59% vs. +50%), Scandal (+48% vs. +43%) and Shark Tank (+37% vs. +21%).· Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is Tuesday's #1 TV show this season with Adults 18-49 based on original telecasts, beating NBC's The Voice (4.6 rating vs. 4.5 rating). In fact, based on first-run telecasts in the L+7 Adult 18-49 ratings, ABC claims the season's #1 TV show on Tuesday (S.H.I.E.L.D. - 4.6 rating), the #1 show on Wednesday (Modern Family - 5.7), the #2 show on Thursday (Grey's and Scandal tie - 4.6) and the #2 show on Friday (with Shark Tank within 1-tenth of a rating point of NBC's Grimm - 2.6 vs. 2.7).· Modern Family is the season's #2 scripted series among Adults 18-49 on the broadcast networks (5.7 rating).· ABC's S.H.I.E.L.D., Grey's Anatomy and Scandal all tie as the 2nd-highest-rated broadcast drama of the season among Adults 18-49 (4.6 rating).Source: The Nielsen Company, as dated. Network averages based on all programming. Program rankers based on regular, original telecasts only.


Senin, 30 Desember 2013

Giving help, getting help, Dec. 31


THE SWIM LESSONS FOUNDATION is offering free swimming instruction to more than 100 children of low-income families at the Swim Lessons Company's heated, indoor pools beginning Jan. 13 for seven weeks. To see if your family qualifies, go to and complete the Income Verification form. Instruction will be held at locations in Northeast Columbia, Harbison and West Columbia. (803) 865-2629 or email

■ Caughman Road Park, 2800 Trotter Road

■ City of Columbia Compost Facility, 121 Humane Lane

■ Clemson Institute for Economic & Community Development, 900 Clemson Road

■ Crooked Creek Park, 1098 Old Lexington Highway, Chapin

■ Friarsgate Park,1712 Chadford Road, Irmo

■ Forest Lake Park, 6820 Wedgefield Road

■ Fort Jackson Recycling Center, Building #5671 on Lee Road, Fort Jackson

■ Holiday Inn & Suites Columbia Airport, 110 McSwain Drive, West Columbia

■ Hollow Creek Tree Farm, 228 Windmill Road, Gilbert

■ Lexington County C&D Landfill, 498 Landfill Lane, Lexington

■ Lexington County Sandhills Collection Center, 3241 Charleston Hwy., Cayce

■ Lexington County Southeast Collection Center, 538 Martin Neese Road, Swansea

■ Polo Road Park, 730 Polo Road

■ Richland County C&D Landfill, 1070 Caughman Road North

■ Richland County Adult Activity Center, 7494 Parklane Road

■ Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church, 5508 Sunset Blvd., Lexington

■ Seven Oaks Park, 200 Leisure Lane

■ State Farmers Market, 3483 Charleston Highway, West Columbia

■ St. Andrews Park, 920 Beatty Road, Columbia

ST. PAWS THRIFT STORE, 304 12th St., West Columbia, lends a hand to area animal rescue organizations through its Protecting Animal Welfare (PAW) awards. St. Paws was formed to serve as a portal for the sale of tax-deductible merchandise donations, providing a steady source of funding for the numerous animal rescue and welfare organizations in the Midlands. Those interested in applying for a PAW award, volunteering or donating, should call (803) 936-0077. To qualify, all PAW award applicants must be registered 501c3 nonprofit organizations in good standing.

NEED HELP PAYING your Medicare prescription drug cost? The Extra Help program helps individuals pay their Medicare prescription drug plan costs such as premiums, deductibles and copayments. The Medicare Savings program can help with Medicare costs such as premiums, deductibles, copayments and the monthly Part B premium. To see if you qualify for these programs, contact the I-CARE (Insurance Counseling Assistance and Referral for Elders) program of the Central Midlands Area Agency on Aging/Aging and Disability Resource Center at (803) 376-5390, ext. 309 or 312. The Central Midlands region covers Fairfield, Lexington, Newberry and Richland counties. The I-CARE program is a volunteer insurance counseling and assistance program for persons on Medicare. There is no charge for these services and absolutely no selling of insurance involved.

KEEPIN' IT REAL, a ministry for the homeless, has released its wish list for the winter. Financial assistance is used to pay rent and utilities for the transitional homes and storage units, upkeep and gas for the van and for emergency needs (prescriptions, transportation, etc.); warm clothing and blankets (coats, hooded sweatshirts, gloves, knitted caps, warm socks and footwear); there is a critical need for men's clothing and new socks and underwear. Donations of women's and children's clothing are also accepted and distributed. Out-of-season clothing is stored until needed. Local churches or groups are sometimes needed to provide food and fellowship following Sunday afternoon worship as well as canned goods and non-perishable foods for seniors. (803) 406-0724

THE LEXINGTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT is accepting donations of used cellphones and telephone accessories to benefit Cell Phones for Soldiers. The nonprofit group sells used cell phones and accessories to a recycling company and uses the proceeds to buy prepaid telephone calling cards that are issued to members of the armed forces serving outside the United States. Personal information and personal photographs should be deleted. Drop-off points include the Lexington County Law Enforcement Complex, 521 Gibson Road, Lexington; North Region Service Center, 111 Lincreek Drive, Columbia; South Region Service Center, 102 Airport Road, Pelion; West Region Patrol District Headquarters, 4079-B Augusta Highway, Gilbert; and Crooked Creek Park, 1098 Old Lexington Highway, Chapin. Sgt. David Amick is coordinating the effort, if you have questions, call him at (803) 223-3778

REACH OUT AND READ, an early literacy program providing books for children age 5 and younger during well-child visits at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital, needs new book donations and contributions. Call Callee Boulware, (803) 434-2523.


DAYBREAK CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTER is seeking female volunteers in several areas. The center needs volunteer counselors, hotline volunteers, teen volunteers, parenting/childbirth volunteer teachers, post-abortion class leaders, baby boutique volunteers, receptionists and office assistants. The center also needs male mentors and mailing clerical volunteers. Adults only, training will be provided. Daybreak has offices in downtown Columbia and Lexington and needs assistance at both sites. (803) 771-6634

THE COOPERATIVE MINISTRY, in partnership with the United Way of the Midlands, is looking for volunteers for its income tax assistance program. Trained volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualifying families with a household income less than $50,000. Volunteer tax preparers will receive free instruction and training to become certified IRS tax preparers. Volunteers are also needed to welcome clients and assist the VITA site coordinator with administrative tasks; no experience is necessary. The Cooperative Ministry provides tax assistance sites throughout the Midlands in Richland, Lexington, Fairfield and Newberry counties. (803) 799-3853, ext. 115

RIVERBANKS ZOO & GARDEN is seeking volunteers to act as docents. You'll get to interact with guests, give presentations, handle program animals and participate in special events. Training begins Jan. 16. Email or go to

FIDO DOG RESCUE is looking for volunteer foster families to care for rescued dogs until they find permanent homes. (803) 796-2390

THE IRMO CHAPIN RECREATION COMMISSION is seeking volunteers age 18 and older to become nature interpreters at Saluda Shoals Park. Nature interpreters interact with and educate park guests in the Wetlands Preserve. Volunteers meet at 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays for training. No experience necessary; retirees welcome. Jeanette Wells, (803) 213-2051