If Only Santa Was a Woman – Unwanted Gifts

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Christmas friend or foe, either way it’s gone for another year. But what’s left? Big stomachs, ruined bank accounts, headaches, screaming kids that don’t want to go back to school, more than a few unwanted gifts, and that’s just me! So how about the rest of the world? But seriously what do you do?

Why do we even buy presents in the first place? Guys will buy a gift for a woman they love and other people will buy fabulous gifts which are loaded down with good intentions. But what is it? Guilt, pressure, love or just simply a case of keeping up with the Joneses? One thing for certain, the original religious concept has become somewhat neglected, forgotten or even shunned by popular opinion. Even when we do remember the genesis of the idea, it’s molded into plastic and sold as an action figure.

What about all those gifts we don’t want? The advertisements, pressure from colleagues, commercials for credit cards and loans offer no advice. All these tools of commercialism only point in one direction, and that’s towards the checkout. There are however a few shining lights out there from the odd individual, to the online business. Some of these offer useful solutions to the overdose of unwanted presents.

Not everybody is out to make a quick buck from our problems, according to a story by Reuters there’s actually a pretty cool shop in Slovenia which opened just in time for Christmas.  The idea behind the shop is simple yet important.  Basically if you don’t like a gift then simply change it for one you like.  To quote the shop owner “people get and give too many present nowadays” and I think the shop owner is 100% right.

In some cultures especially in China cash really is king when it comes to gifts. Yes you could say it’s a cold, perhaps even an unthoughtful kind of gift – but there’s no denying its versatility.

Gift cards are increasingly popular gifts, I especially like them when it comes to kids. As opposed to cash, it allows you moderate control on what they kids will blow their money on. But these sentiments maybe the thing’s biggest downfall. What happens when you get a gift to a shop you stylistically have nothing in common with? What are your options if you have a gift card you don’t like, can you take it back to the shop in question and get the cash? Not likely, at least not in that shop. But there are ways according to The Daily Beast.

Cash back sites – the middle man will take a cut!

Giftcards.com, will assess the cash back value, mail you a check or even transfer funds via paypal. Gift Card Granny, it’s a smiliar variation on the above, it scans sites that will give you the most value for you card.Just be prepared to make a small loss on the value of the gift card.

Then you have old faithful – Ebay. There’s always loads of people who are wanting to get their hands on a bargain. But you will have to prepared to sell for a lesser amount, but it’s better than being stuck with a card you hate.

Other options

Gift card rescue, works with Amazon, you get a bonus 5 percent for changing it too an Amazon gift card. Cardpool, works much the same way.

Charities can benefit too. Plastic Jungle allows you to donate the cash on the card to a worthy charity, its aligned with a few such as Red Cross. Plastic Jungle rather cunningly allows you add air miles as well, in cooperation with United Airlines.

Traditional gifts

If the gift is a more traditional kind of gift you can deal with it in similar ways. You could try holding a swap party. People rewrap the gifts they don’t want, and give them to someone else – of course they ran the risk of getting disappointed twice. Or you could do it the boring way and not wrap them – an episode of The office springs to mind. Just make sure things are of a similar value!

Returning stuff to the stores can be an option. It depends on the store of course, not all stores have equal policies on returning gifts. Just check the policies for online and locations for shops. But of course if it’s given to you then you might have little choice, you’re going to have to roll with the punches.

Re-gifting, I have done this and felt horrible about it. But that doesn’t mean you have to. In my case I had to go back overseas and didn’t have the luggage space, so I off loaded the gift and saved time, and money (but it still didn’t feel right). Although seriously why not? I think the key issue is, to choose more carefully than the person who you gifted it to you in the first place. The lucky person might appreciate it more than you did.

Donate it! Just like the gift cards, donating something can be a rewarding experience and in my book a much nicer feeling option than just simply re-gifting. I have a friend who just a few years ago, gave 100’s of man sized teddy bears to a load of kids that needed a bit of happiness in their lives – although in this case they were just extra teddies from the factory. But honestly the kids didn’t care about how they got them, they were happy just the same.

About The Woman, Merry Christmas Everyone!

Human Trafficking a Mother’s Love

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Buenos Aires, Argentina — 13 people accused of human trafficking and in the disappearance of a young woman who was allegedly kidnapped and forced into prostitution which is just another kind of modern slavery.

What is human trafficking?

The typical countries that are plagued by people trafficking humans, are normally lawless, places where the police are ineffective, typically a place where corruption and bribery are rife. These kinds of countries are prone to kidnapping, forcing women and children in prostitution, sometimes through drug addiction and almost always through coercion.

People who live on the fringes of society are often most affected by this, or even persecuted groups that have little legal status. Mostly it’s women and children who which are the unfortunate targets, for this life of sex and slavery.

My country doesn’t have that problem

You would be wrong to think this. Human traffickers are in every country, but what are the statistics for human trafficking? It’s estimated by organizations that as many as 3 million people women and children every year are the targets of the human trafficking trade.

The U.S. State Department’s estimated numbers for trafficking of people, in and across US borders are somewhat lower, at something between 600,000 and 800,000 per year. This is still too high by a long way. It’s been estimated that trafficking in women makes up some 80% of the human trafficking trade.

What about slavery?

Lets look again at the numbers – an estimated 3 million per year! So in the 21st century there is more trafficking in women and young girls than slavery in the 18th century. So basically, how far have we really evolved? There are more women and girls being forced into brothels annually than African slaves sent to toil in the plantations 300 years ago. According to a US report, the volume of human trafficking in the Middle East, and Africa are at critical levels, a trend that is likely to continue unless more is done about it.

Prostitution is not a crime everywhere

It’s true in many countries, it’s not illegal. What about Argentina? Argentina like some European countries allow prostitution. But whether you agree with this or not that’s a different point. But the prevailing thought is, if it’s legalized and governed there is less chance for the underworld element, and the business of trafficking humans to take advantage of it.

What’s the Buenos Aires connection?

At the start of the story I mentioned Buenos Aires, so what’s so special about Argentina? Well at the moment, Argentina is at the focus of the world’s attention and at the epicenter of a movement that’s working hard to break up human trafficking, within its borders

At the center of that movement is a mother, her name is Susana Trimarco’s. Her story is as equally inspiring as it is sad and tragic. She lost her daughter to human trafficking, she was snatched while coming back from a doctors appointment, leaving a 3 year old daughter behind. I say lost because in the process of freeing 100’s of women, Susana has yet to find her daughter.

Susana has her work cut out for her as she fights corruption in the police force, and within corruption in the political system. As a result of her investigations 13 ringleaders have come under arrest, but in case that’s dawn massive amount of media attention the ringleaders (who have all been implicated in her daughters disappearance and forced prostitution have just been acquitted and will not face any further jail time. The 13 ringleaders include both men and women, it was part of a well organized family business – women also often play key roles in women trafficking, sometimes as recruiters or in managing victims of human trafficking.

Raised Awareness

She has won recognition across her own, country, South America, North America and even won a Noble nomination for her work. But I am sure, the only thing on her mind is helping women like her daughter and the fight to find her daughter again. In this, her Mother’s love will not let her rest until she is found.

About The Woman

(more on Susana Trimarco, coming soon)

Paparazzi vs Anne Hathaway 2:1

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Hollywood’s sweetheart Anne Hathaway’s wedding to Adam Shulman, was perfect friends and family were all there, the kind of wedding any woman would dream about. The wedding planers had done the perfect job. There really was only one problem, yes that’s right wedding crashers and I’m not talking about the movie with Vince Vaughan. You’re probably way ahead of me, and you’re right. I’m talking about the beloved, ever present, yet necessary paparazzi.

Why do I say necessary? Well if you remember the Diana incident several holier than thou celebs jumped on the paparazzi bashing band wagon, and did vehemently in public – which was covered rather ironically by the paparazzi. However it appears that even the paparazzi have feelings because after the event several of crusading stars, failed to get any newspaper attention for their, movies, bust-ups and premiers – the paparazzi boycotted them.

Back to Anne Hathaway. She had no such problem for her wedding as helicopter whizzed overhead, loaded with paparazzi. So we can call that 1:0 to the paparazzi.

But Anne Hathaway was not finished. She announced on David Letterman’s Late Show that she was incredibly angry and frustrated, as they’d tried very to avoid that very situation. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned – she wanted nothing better than to give the paparazzi the finger – can you imagine that! It would have been way better than any scene in her Bride Wars movie. Good sense prevailed, when Adam her hubby, advised against it, according to Dave’s interview.  Then a clever insider came up with the idea to steal the paparazzi’s thunder. They sold authorized pictures to a magazine and donated the proceeds to a support a Gay Charity Group. Very cunning indeed. Anne Hathaway 1, Paparazzi 1 – it’s looking like a draw, but the game’s not over.

If you have been reading the news yesterday and today, you would have seen the video interview of Anne with Dave. Yep, that’s the one, Anne is giving the paparazzi a belated two handed two fingered – up your’s. That showed the paparazzi! They won’t mess with feisty Anne again! Wrong!

Anne is being critically acclaimed and looks a very strong contender to receive and an Academy Award for her role of the emaciated Fantine, in Les Miserables film. As she arrived at the Ziegfeld Theatre wearing her bondage inspired dress, she had the ultimate dress malfunction happened (no photo provided). She stepped out of her SUV, she showed a lot too much leg and not enough underwear to all her Les Miserable fans. In fact there wasn’t any underwear, which was the crux of the problem.

It wasn’t all bad news though. Her friends were there – the paparazzi. The ever vigilant paparazzi, displayed their characteristic determination, and dedication in documenting every single embarrassing moment of the celeb lifestyle (and sell it!). Then bingo!

Final score 2:1 to the paparazzi! But the celeb soccer arena that’s called Hollywood, has many teams and even more players. There are sure to be more close games and re-matches and cries of fowl play. Just keep an eye out for the flashing cameras and for the les miserables caught on film.

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AskMen Hungry For Jennifer Lawrence

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AskMen, asked the world in an international poll, and it’s official Jennifer Lawrence is the most desired woman in the world. You may not actually know the name, I also had to double check, but she’s the woman who rose to fame in the The Hunger Games. Although what may have really helped her was the role in Silver Linings Playbook where she played a sex-mad young widow – doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how that might have influenced the voting.Bassil editor in chief of AskMen said “Overall, there’s a sense that she’s a little more authentic than other actors.” He also suggested because the public know so little about the 22 year old, there’s really little negative opinion out there about her. In comparison to the success of her movies to date, she’s pretty much avoided any damaging headlines in the media.

How does it work?

The results are taken from 2.4 million readers, the question is: which celebrity would they choose for a partner? Some celebs have fared better than others. Sofia Vergara of Modern Family and the universally popular Kim Kardashian saw their votes go down. Although in Kim’s case plummet would be more accurate. I have to be honest Kim is not one of my favorites either, there’s something about the woman, she is beautiful, savvy, all things that I normally like but, I don’t know. Although I can understand how she got on the list. I’m pretty sure however that she will not be phased by her 90 place drop. On a positive note stars like: Mila Kunis, model Kate Upton, R&B star Rihanna and Emma Stone all managed to make the top 5.

When asked on how men choose their most desirable celebrity partner, Bassil suggested publicity played a big role. He went on to say if celebs were getting a lot of media or headline attention it would have strong influence on men’s opinions. Conversely too many headlines can actually can leave men “looking elsewhere” – so basically he doesn’t know either.

The younger woman weren’t the only age group on the man’s mind this year, the top rankings included a number of 40 year olds. This has been a trend for the last few years apparently. Bassil said “Like most things in life, attractiveness is extending into middle age. Who knows? In 20 years we could see 60-year-olds on the list.”

The over 40s that made the list: U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, 48; comedienne Sarah Silverman, 42; actress Lucy Liu, 44; and British actress Rachel Weisz, 42.

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Pamela Anderson – Why Can’t Stars Pay Tax?

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We know it, “Tax not so bad a voice to slander music any more than once.” Shakespeare knew it, and now does Pamela Anderson. What does this quote mean? Not sure. But I hope it means he didn’t like taxes either, if it doesn’t I’m going to look a bit daft. There’s one thing that’s certain however, the Baywatch beauty, a woman who’s assets have never gone unnoticed, is now feeling the painfully intense gaze of the IRS. That’s right their scrutinizing her assets, or more precisely the tax income generated by them.

So how much tax trouble can a woman get into? Well according to TMZ, quite a bit. Poor Pam owes the IRS $370,000. It’s far from the first time she has appeared on the top list of delinquent tax payers, she also appeared on it in 2009. What is about the woman and her tax issues? But let’s be fair, she’s not the only one. Stars have had a long troubled relationship with the IRS over the years.

The beloved Lionel Richie had a $1.1 million tax bill slapped into his hand in April, for taxes allegedly unpaid since 2010. He later released a statement that he was unaware of it, and that he was dealing with it.

Tax shy stars

If Richie and Pam weren’t enough then these tax liens (could stay tax Aliens) have been filed to collect by the IRS:

Other tax challenged stars include Lindsay Lohan, who’s rarely out of the headlines owes $230,904, the list goes on. FYI – what’s a federal tax lien? The government’s legal claim against your property.

For the government cash is god! They will only take your property and cars as a last resort. Although it does happen, Willie Nelson famously lost nearly everything in an IRS auction – apparently he hid his guitar.

Why are stars prone to this?

Apparently it is down to massive drops in income! Let’s say you make $10,000.000 as a star then your earnings drops to a tiny amount of $1,000,000, that’s when they get into trouble. Well why didn’t you just say so? Because that makes it all okay, doesn’t it?

But stars can be saved at the last minute, Robert Downey Jr who went to jail for… that’s right drug abuse, fell $2 million behind. But came back with Iron Man.

Power to him for getting clean, and paying his bill. On the other hand, why do we even reward stars who screw up, or seem to treat them so differently? A normal guy who gets a DUI, can’t find a job. What happens to Joe the plumber if he falls behind on taxes? I’m not sure, but I know what won’t happen.

I Started off this post feeling sorry for Pam, but I changed my mind. See the full article here.

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Jennie Garth’s Ex’s New Relationship Stings

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Jennie Garth Beverly Hills 90210 star who was ranked 59th on the FHM 100 Sexiest Women of 2000 admitted that her ex’s (Peter Facineelli) new relationship hurts. But after 11 years of marriage you really can’t blame her. It was about nine months ago when Peter Facinelli announced their divorce. Even though Jennie is making positive steps to move on – she’s dating someone special. It still hurts.

Peter Facinelli announced just last month that he was dating Jaimie Alexander who is a star of the Thor movies and 10 years younger than him.  But that’s okay because he’s a man. He’s definitely not Demi Moore, and there’s no danger of him being compared to a female cougar. Double standards? I think so.

Jennie in my opinion is being a bit more classy about the whole thing and is keeping her lips sealed about who her new flame is. She has so far avoided taking her new man to any blockbuster movie premiers – unlike her Ex! She went on to tell People magazine. “I think there will come a time when it won’t sting so bad, but I’m not quite there yet.”

Despite the sting of it all, the two still remain friends and by all reports she is glad, he is happy with his new relationship. Unlike other Hollywood couples – I’m really tempted to mention certain former bond girl and her men. They have both remained on good terms for the sake of their three lovely daughters Luca, Lola and Fiona.

In rather un-Hollywood fashion they have apparently sat down, and rather sensibly worked out an agreement for sharing their beautiful kids over the Christmas holidays. In Jennie’s own words “We are co-parenting and getting the hang of it”.

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Anne Hathaway in Focus

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Anne Hathaway in my opinion is probably the most beautiful woman in Hollywood today. She has even been rated as one the Hottest Stars Under 25 back in Teen People Magazine in their June 2002 issue.

Her Early Career

Hathaway is called Annie by her friends and by all who know her best. Annie was born in Brooklyn, New York she studied acting at the Paper Mill Playhouse. Although Halthaway appeared in many plays as a youth, she first grabbed the attention of executives at Miramax when she was playing Megan Green, on the TV series Get Real. She was bold enough even then to turn down a three picture deal with Miramax because she wasn’t happy with the scripts. However it wasn’t until a starring role in The Princess Diaries (2001) opposite Julie Andrews that the offers for movies came flying in. She has recently said in an interview with Glamour magazine:

I was labeled a good girl, and for the first eight years of my career I had to fight to get any other kind of role. But I like fighting for a job, actually. Once you get it, you feel like you’ve emerged victorious from the scrap and you’re like, “OK, this one’s mine.

Her Movies

She was in Broke Back Mountain (2005)! I’m a big movie nut and although I’m a fairly late comer in terms of being a Anne Hathaway admirer, how did I miss it! I’ve only seen the movie 4 times. There’s 4 points here, the topic was very distracting, secondly the cinema photography (actually the best part) was stunning. The late Keith Ledger totally stole the show in terms of acting, or did he? I might be wrong, but was Anne Hathaway was pretty unrecognizable as Jake Gyllenhaal’s wife?  The next year she played another strong role in The Devil Wears Prada (2006), which actually is her best in my opinion. Later roles included Becoming Jane and bit later Rachel Getting Married (2008), which she won an Oscar nomination.

Personal Life

Controversy has followed Anne Hathaway though with her ex-boyfriend Raffaello Follieri was arrested for fraud. Anne was never suspected of anything although allegedly the FBI did take her diary and recently jewelry given to her by Follieri was auctioned by the US Marshalls. Making her next movie Love and Other Drugs with her Broke Back co-star Jake Gyllenhaal helped her get through the tough time. These days Anne is happily married to Adam Shulman, a famous jewelry designer. Anne who was previously a cynic of marriage is loving her new life, and when asked by Glamour – what changed her mind, she replied:

Him. I would never have gotten married if it weren’t for him. He’s a good man. He’s beyond intelligent. He loves fearlessly.”

And..

“But there’s not a lot of positive information out there about marriage. It’s the old ball and chain, the seven-year itch, the divorce rate. Still, my parents have been married for 30 years; his parents have been married for 40 years. Mine had great moments and some really sh-tty moments. But they couldn’t have been married to anyone else, and they make each other better.”

Timeless Beauty?

How beautiful a woman is Anne Hathaway? Is she a timeless beauty comparable to such a woman as Audrey Hepburn? Perhaps.. at least I think so. Although Hepburn and Hathaway come from very different backgrounds – Hepburn was British, and lived Belgium there are some other striking similarities. Both unarguably elegant and beautiful, Hepburn left the whole Hollywood scene do focus on her international charity work – recently Hathaway has become the face of One Billion Rising. When talking to Glamour magazine she said:

It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that a billion women have been raped or beaten, When I was in college, I’d heard that one in four women would be raped, and I thought, God, that means I must know someone who was raped. Sure enough, I found out a week later that a friend had been. A billion is too big because one is too big.”

Vogue in 2010, Hathaway did a stunning photo shoot which mirrored many of Hepburn most iconic images. If you haven’t seen them you must take a look.

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More Recently

Her public roles have not always gone so smoothly. Her the 83rd Academy Awards performance with James Franco totally bombed in front of 35 million viewers. Although the blame was mostly directed at the lack luster Franco.

The trend continued into her next atrocious ensemble the rom-com Valentine’s Day, as well as the comedy Bride Wars. It was later named as being one of the 10 worst chick flicks by Time Magazine. Other critical performances included An Education,  where Hathaway’s mangled British accent drew fire.

The Dark Knight Rises – fanboys of Batman were unsure at the news of Hathaway in the role of Catwoman but she blasted the role, and made it her own. She stood toe to toe with her more famous male co-stars, and shone. She displayed the wiliness and toughness the role needed while being demure and as sexy as Michelle Pfeiffer.  Bringing her critical acclaim from all corners of the industry.

Anne Hathaway may not be popular with everyone, and she has had her fair share of both fans and detractors. But she looks sure to stay, and continues to shine – she is a strong competitor for the next an Academy Awards  for her role in Les Miserables.