Maps of World
21Nov/140

Natural Travel destinations in California

California is a diverse state comprising deserts, mountains, exotic flora and fauna, magnificent beaches, and above all a favorable climate. By all means California is truly a traveler’s delight. Whether you are looking for some adventure, fun and excitement, or even solitude then California is the right place for you. It would also appeal to nature lovers, as here one would come across numerous national parks, beaches, wildlife, and deserts.

Yosemite National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Yosemite National Park is frequented by tourists from all over the world.  It is known for its clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves, majestic waterfalls and spectacular granite cliffs. A main attraction of the park is the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Here you will catch a glimpse of the endangered Peregrine falcons. Other places at the park, worth visiting are El Capitan and El Cap Meadow. The Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and the Mariposa Grove at Wawona are also incredible destinations.

Home to giant trees

Wondering where are the world’s tallest trees located? California is home to some of the biggest trees found on this planet.  Here you will come across unique specimens such as Giant Sequoias and Coastal Redwoods, which measure up to a height of 350 feet. To have a look at these enormous trees you will have to visit the Redwood National and State Parks and Yosemite National Park.

Marine Life

The state is also home to a diverse marine life. Visit the Channel Islands National Park and you will witness exotic specimens such as whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises. You need to take a boat trip to catch a glimpse of these beautiful creatures. In winters you can sight the elegant gray whales, while in summers you may get a clear view of the blue whales. You may also be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the sperm whale, minke or the occasional orca.

Lake Tahoe

Located along the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is the sixth largest lake by volume in the United States. It is also deepest lake in the country after Crater Lake.  A major tourist attraction in California, the destination is famous for its ski resorts, outdoor recreations and tourist attractions.  Snow and skiing are also very popular and do brisk trade. Here you will also come across a number of casinos.

Joshua Tree National Park

The park owes its name to the Joshua trees. The park is popular among rock climbers, as it comprises hills of bare rock. These are usually broken up into loose boulders. The flatlands are forested with Joshua trees. Joshua Tree National Park is also a perfect destination for campers.  Here you would have the privilege of sleeping under a fantastic night sky and would be surrounded by magnificent rock formations and elegant Joshua trees.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles, home to Hollywood, would surely appeal to movie buffs. But it is also a remarkable destination for nature lovers. Take a trip down to the suburbs and you would come across diverse and rugged natural landscapes. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, beaches of Malibu, Griffith Park are some of the places worth visiting in Los Angeles.  View LA Map WBPB0811201

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14Nov/140

What is Obamacare and is it required in USA 

Everyone has heard of the term Obamacare but quite a lot would be eager to know as to what exactly is Obamacare and how would it help the people of America. Signed into law by President Barack Obama on 23 March 2010, Obamacare is the unofficial name for The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Barack Obama administration has introduced the Obamacare with the right intentions. Obamacare aims to reform the American healthcare system. At times when the cost of essential services is rising, and healthcare is definitely one of them, Obama’s aim was to bring in an Act that would largely improve the quality of healthcare and health insurance. As affordable health insurance is now a dream for a large section of the people, Obamacare is turning this dream into reality as a large percentage of people would get easy access to affordable health insurance. Apart from this, Obamacare would also regulate the health insurance industry and save the government millions of dollars by reducing healthcare spending in the country.

The Act would prove beneficial for the people of the country in a number of ways. Obamacare will help Americans save huge sums of money. It will provide billions of dollars in tax relief. Further it will also help in reducing costs of premiums to millions of families. It has also been estimated that millions of Americans will receive tax credits to help pay for healthcare.

Some of the benefits that the Act is providing to the people include setting up a Health Insurance Marketplace. Here the people would be able to purchase federally regulated and subsidized health insurance during open enrollment.

The Act has made life simpler for people. Prior to 2010, people who would have fallen ill in the past would be denied treatment or coverage. Moreover women had to pay more. But all that is a thing of the past. Obamacare provides a lot of benefits to the ordinary people. Further here you would also have many rights which would offer people protection.

It has been estimated that approximately 44 million US citizens did not have any health insurance coverage in 2013. Many of the uninsured included working families or people who could not bear the cost of health insurance. However, Obamacare takes care of such individuals and helps them to get access to health insurance through the increased Medicaid eligibility. Cost assistance is also offered through health insurance marketplaces. Obamacare has witnessed success. In 2013 around 16 percent of the American population was uninsured but in 2014, this figure dropped to 13 percent.

Another advantage that people would get with Obamacare is that by the year 2016 full time employees working with large employers would be entitled to health coverage. This will be greatly beneficial to workers who are not covered by private insurance.

Though Obamacare has witnessed opposition, the aim of the Obama administration was to provide the people of the country with affordable health insurance which would protect them from sickness and other diseases thereby making their lives easier.

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12Nov/140

The Heroes of Burkina Faso

Adverse conditions can at times turn ordinary people into heroes. The image of the Chinese man standing in front of a column of tanks, which was carried on the front page in many newspapers, on the morning after the Chinese military had suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 is still fresh in the minds of many people. The identity of the man, who dared to defy the all powerful Chinese military, is still under wraps but he has sort of become a legendary figure.

Similarly, as Burkina Faso was being rocked by violent demonstrations, little did a tax inspector and a student know that they were all set to acquire celebrity status. View Map of Burkina Faso

However, unlike the Chinese protestor, these two heroes were not to remain faceless. The images of the protestors, one standing up against two soldiers, while the other raising a defiant fist in the air, were prominently displayed in many domestic as well as international papers. Today, they are being hailed as the ‘Heroes of Burkina Faso’.

It all began when Blaise Compaore, the then president of Burkina Faso, decided to extend his 27-year rule. The decision was greeted with disapproval and anger by the people of the country, who soon took to the streets demanding Compaore’s ouster. The faceless crowd, whose numbers swelled into thousands, attacked the parliament and government buildings and soon set them on fire.

Among the faceless crowd was a 40-year old tax inspector Lassina Sawadogo, who would have remained anonymous like the rest of the crowd had it not been for a photographer who had clicked him standing up to two soldiers. At such times, when death is staring one in the face, many would run rather than face bullets. But Sawadogo was made of sterner stuff. Rather than taking to his heels in order to save his life, Sawadogo decided to stand his ground and face the two soldiers. The moment was captured on camera and as the pictures went viral, Sawadogo achieved a kind of hero status. Today young people idolize him and want to chat with him, while radio talk-shows and local newspapers hail him as the hero of Burkina Faso.

On that Thursday morning 27-year-old engineering student Romuald Ouedraogo too had woken up with unusual courage. The young student had joined the crowd with the aim of overthrowing an unpopular leader and ushering in a period of freedom and prosperity and like Sawadogo, he too was unaware that fame was waiting for him.
He was just a face in the crowd but an amateur photographer caught him on camera. The photograph shows the young student wearing a white T-shirt with a large target drawn on it and his defiant fist raised in the air. The message: "Shoot. My country or my death," was written on the T-shirt. Know Richest Country in the World

Today just like Sawadogo, Ouedraogo too is now celebrated as a hero of the uprising.
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8Nov/140

Natural travel destinations in California

California is a diverse state comprising deserts, mountains, exotic flora and fauna, magnificent beaches, and above all a favorable climate. By all means California is truly a traveler’s delight. Whether you are looking for some adventure, fun and excitement, or even solitude then California is the right place for you. It would also appeal to nature lovers, as here one would come across numerous national parks, beaches, wildlife, and deserts.

Yosemite National Park

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Yosemite National Park is frequented by tourists from all over the world.  It is known for its clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves, majestic waterfalls and spectacular granite cliffs. A main attraction of the park is the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Here you will catch a glimpse of the endangered Peregrine falcons. Other places at the park, worth visiting are El Capitan and El Cap Meadow. The Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and the Mariposa Grove at Wawona are also incredible destinations.

Home to giant trees

Wondering where are the world’s tallest trees located? California is home to some of the biggest trees found on this planet.  Here you will come across unique specimens such as Giant Sequoias and Coastal Redwoods, which measure up to a height of 350 feet. To have a look at these enormous trees you will have to visit the Redwood National and State Parks and Yosemite National Park. View California Map

Marine Life

The state is also home to a diverse marine life. Visit the Channel Islands National Park and you will witness exotic specimens such as whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises. You need to take a boat trip to catch a glimpse of these beautiful creatures. In winters you can sight the elegant gray whales, while in summers you may get a clear view of the blue whales. You may also be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the sperm whale, minke or the occasional orca.

Lake Tahoe

Located along the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is the sixth largest lake by volume in the United States. It is also deepest lake in the country after Crater Lake.  A major tourist attraction in California, the destination is famous for its ski resorts, outdoor recreations and tourist attractions.  Snow and skiing are also very popular and do brisk trade. Here you will also come across a number of casinos.

Joshua Tree National Park

The park owes its name to the Joshua trees. The park is popular among rock climbers, as it comprises hills of bare rock. These are usually broken up into loose boulders. The flatlands are forested with Joshua trees. Joshua Tree National Park is also a perfect destination for campers.  Here you would have the privilege of sleeping under a fantastic night sky and would be surrounded by magnificent rock formations and elegant Joshua trees.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles, home to Hollywood, would surely appeal to movie buffs. But it is also a remarkable destination for nature lovers. Take a trip down to the suburbs and you would come across diverse and rugged natural landscapes. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, beaches of Malibu, Griffith Park are some of the places worth visiting in Los Angeles. View Los Angeles City Map

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29Oct/140

Boko Haram Roadmap

For the past few years people in Nigeria have been living in the shadow of fear, uncertainty, bloodshed, and bullets. Nigeria, which got its independence in 1960, was being governed by ruthless dictators till the 90s. With the advent of democracy, the people of this African nation had heaved a sign of relief but lately the scourge of terrorism has reared its ugly head in the nation.

The last couple of years have witnessed the rise of Boko Haram, a deadly and much feared terrorist organization based in Nigeria. The group which has gained world-wide notoriety for its violent acts has killed more than 5,000 civilians between July 2009 and June 2014. Of these, 2,000 people have been killed in the first half of 2014.

The terror organization, which seeks the establishment of an Islamic state in Nigeria, and opposes the Westernizing of Nigerian society, was designated by the US as a terrorist organization in November 2013. View Islamic State map.

The terror organization made headlines when it abducted 276 female students on the night of 14–15 April 2014 from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. This is one of the biggest abductions by the group and was condemned on a large scale by world leaders.

According to reports more than 200 girls are still in captivity and are living in constant fear. Some of the girls who escaped their abductors have heart wrenching stories to tell. The girls were converted to Islam, made to clean, cook, carry ammunition, and were even raped.

The Government of Nigeria is making concerted efforts for the release of the girls but nothing concrete has happened during the past six months. However, as the government still trying to secure the release of the girl students, Boko Haram kidnapped at least another 30 boys and girls from a village in northeast Nigeria during the weekend.

Despite the bleak situation, the Nigerian government has achieved a major breakthrough in the case of the girl students and there is a possibility that the girls would soon be released. According to the latest reports, the Nigerian military has said it has agreed a ceasefire with Islamist militants Boko Haram for the safe release of the girls.

Commenting on the development, a senior Nigerian official has said that the agreement was signed after a month of negotiations, which were mediated by Chad. Though more than a week has passed since the ceasefire agreement was signed still there is no sign of the girls being released. Further talks to release the schoolgirls are taking place this week between the government and a Boko Haram representative in the Chadian capital N'Djamena. However, the talks are shrouded in secrecy.

Many people in Nigeria are skeptical about the development. In the past too such statements were given but they turned out to be false. However, the government is hopeful that it would reach some conclusion. Know Islamic Countries in the World

27Oct/140

New Ebola policy in the US

One of the world’s deadliest viruses Ebola has already ravaged many countries of Africa and is now threatening the United States as well as the European countries. As per the latest figures, the number of people affected from Ebola has crossed the 10,000 mark, while 4,922 have fallen prey to the disease. Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea are the three African countries that have been badly impacted by the disease.

Stringent steps are being taken by governments around the world, as well as international organizations like the World Health Organization to contain the disease.

Recently a few US cities have laid down new Ebola policies, which have not been very well received. The new Ebola policy has been imposed by the states of New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Florida. View all the states on US Map

As per the new policy, travelers coming to these states after having contact with Ebola sufferers will be subjected to mandatory 21-day quarantine. This policy applies to anyone including healthcare professionals.

Travelers are being subject to strict scrutiny. Those who are de-boarding at the five airports - New York's Kennedy, Dulles International, New Jersey's Newark Liberty International, Chicago's O'Hare International and Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta – have to go through enhanced screening to determine whether they are free of the disease.

The policy was implemented in these two states of New York and New Jersey on the same day that Kaci Hickox, a nurse, got off at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport. The nurse was working with the organization ‘Doctors Without Borders’ and had been treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, one of the worst affected countries in Africa. She was ordered placed in quarantine at a hospital and had tested negative in a preliminary test for Ebola. However, hospital authorities told her she must remain under mandatory quarantine for 21 days.

However, the policy has not gone down well with the US administration. US President Barack Obama's administration has urged the governors of New York and New Jersey to reverse the quarantine rules. The White House officials believe these rules could discourage health workers from helping fight the epidemic in West Africa.

Bowing to pressure the state of New York has decided to relax its rules. The state has ended the mandatory 21 day isolation period for people who had no contact with an infected patient.

Some of the relaxations as stated by the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo include - there will be no home confinement for people who have arrived from an affected area, who have no symptoms and have had no direct contact with people infected with Ebola. But during the 21-day incubation period, these people will be monitored by health officials.

People who have traveled to Africa and have had contact with Ebola-infected patients but themselves are showing no signs of symptoms of the disease will be confined to their homes for three weeks. Their health will be monitored throughout the isolation period. Know Ebola affected countries in the world

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21Oct/140

How many countries are there in the world?

How often have you wondered as to how many countries are there in the world? There are currently more than 200 countries in the world. The list of countries in the world is an exhaustive one and comprises the sovereign nations, the partially recognized countries, and the de-facto or the unrecognized nations.

At present there are 195 sovereign countries in the world. A sovereign country is one that is controlled by its own government. These 195 countries are internationally recognized as being sovereign. Of these 195 countries, 193 are UN Member states while two are UN observer states. The two UN observer states are the Vatican and Palestine.

The partially recognized states have partial diplomatic recognition. These countries are recognized by only a few of the UN member countries and not by the UN as a whole. Some of the countries in the world that fall within this category include Taiwan, Western Sahara, Kosovo, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Northern Cyprus.

Apart from the partially recognized states, there are also states that that are not recognized by any UN member state. These are de-facto independent states or may have broken away from a country. Currently there are three states that fall within this category. They include Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, and Somaliland.

The split of Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia led to the creation of a number of independent countries in the 1990s. South Sudan is the latest entry on the list of countries in the world. In 2011, Sudan split into two countries after the people of south voted for independence. Sudan was once the largest country in Africa. Now it is the third largest country in Africa.

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20Oct/140

Which Continent does Middle East Belong in?

The Middle East is a huge region covering West Asia, North Africa, and to some extent Turkey as well. The origin of the term Middle East can be traced back to the early 20th century. The geopolitical term Middle East was first coined in 1902 by a United States naval officer Alfred Thayer Mahan. It was referred to the area between Arabia and India.
However, it was in 1957 Eisenhower Doctrine, which pertained to the Suez Crisis that the U.S. Government officially used the term Middle East.
Middle East consists of Cyprus, the Asian part of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Egypt and Libya.
The total population of the Middle East region stands at approximately 368,927,551 and it covers and area of 2,742,000 square miles.
The region has a very rich culture and heritage. The three major religions - Christianity, Islam, and Judaism were born in the Middle East. Many of the world’s greatest empire’s, which have left a lasting impact on world history, were also formed in the Middle East. These include Ancient Egypt, the Persian Empire, and the Babylonian Empire.
Some of the major cities of the region include: Istanbul (Turkey), Tehran (Iran), Baghdad (Iraq), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Ankara (Turkey), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Izmir (Turkey), Mashhad (Iran), Halab (Syria), and Damascus (Syria)

20Oct/140

Why did Yugoslavia break up into six Countries?

A prominent country during the cold war period, Yugoslavia broke up into six countries in the 90s. Factors such as ethnic tensions and a deteriorating economy played a major role in the breakup of the country.

The origin of Yugoslavia dates back to the World War 2. After the communist victory in World War 2, Yugoslavia was formed and comprised six republics - Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia.

In 1945, the country became the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (FPR Yugoslavia, FPRY), with the constitution coming into force in 1946. It changed its name to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1963.

Yugoslavia was enjoying relative prosperity until the 1980s. According to the 1991 World Bank Statistics, from 1960s to 80s, Yugoslavia was experiencing an annual GDP growth of 6.1%, a life expectancy of 72 years, and literacy rate of 91%. However, after the death of president-for-life Josip Broz Tito in 1980, the situation spiraled out of hand.

Rising ethnic tensions

The 1980s witnessed rising tensions between the six constituents of Yugoslavia. While Slovenia and Croatia were demanding greater autonomy within the Yugoslav confederation, Serbia wanted to strengthen federal authority. With no solution in sight, Slovenia and Croatia decided to break away and declared independence in 1991. By 1992 a further conflict had broken out in Bosnia, which had also declared independence.

The Yugoslav federal government did attempt to forcibly halt the breakup prompting the Yugoslav wars and the ultimate breakup of Yugoslavia into six countries.

Economic hardships

Though the country was already facing the problem of ethnic tensions, it was also caught in a web of economic hardships.

Apart from the ethnic tensions, the deteriorating economy of Yugoslavia also played a role in the ultimate breakup of the country. Though enjoying relative prosperity until the 80s, the oil crisis of the 70s greatly impacted the economy of the country. The recession in the developed nations in the West severely hurt Yugoslavia. This in turn halted the economic growth that the country was experiencing for the past 30 years.

In an effort to curb the domestic crisis, Yugoslavia began to take loans from the IMF. Soon, the country’s debt skyrocketed. As a request for incurring so much IMF debt, the IMF demanded market liberalization. Many of the regions responded by introducing new measures such as cutting subsidies, privatizing, and quickly opening trade to allow foreign capital. Rather than improving the economy, these measures only worsened the situation. As the crisis ridden nation fell into further problems, one of the most violent wars started which finally broke up Yugoslavia into six countries.
Bosnia and Herzegovina borders the Adriatic Sea and Croatia. Montenegro is located between the Adriatic Sea and Serbia, while Serbia lies between Macedonia and Hungary. Slovenia lies between Austria and Croatia, while Croatia borders the Adriatic Sea, between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia. Macedonia is located in Southeastern Europe, north of Greece.

 

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16Sep/140

What will it take to defeat the Islamic State?

Will an air assault be enough?

President Barack Obama has ruled out US ‘boots on the ground’, which means the campaign against the Islamic State will be largely carried out through air strikes and, if needed, special forces. But the question is how effective can air strikes be against a foe as determined as the Islamic State? Consider the facts. Within its ranks, the Islamic State has battle-hardened fighters including military officers from Saddam Hussein’s Ba'athist regime, which was systematically dismantled by US forces after they invaded Iraq.

Many of these Ba'athist officers, who were the elite of their society under Saddam, found themselves suddenly hounded and excluded from the new Shia-led government. Experts believe that these men, even if they don’t share the Islamic State’s extreme ideology, are lending support to it because they hold a grudge against US forces and the Iraqi government.

Interestingly, some of the moderate rebel fighters in Syria who were armed by the US and other western nations to fight Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime, have claimed that the Islamic State militants know how to protect themselves in case of an air attack, and air strikes alone will not be sufficient to defeat them.

However, given the far-reaching capability of American air-power, further territorial advances by the Islamic State are now unlikely. Also, targeted attacks against militant pockets could slowly “degrade” their capability. But to “destroy” them — as Obama has pledged — could take much longer.

The sectarian divide

The reason why even the al-Qaida decided to part ways with the Islamic State is that the al-Qaida leadership wanted to project itself as a pan-Muslim organization. The Islamic State, on the other hand, is a self-proclaimed anti-Shia group. In fact, it is violently opposed to all Muslim minorities who don’t fit into its rigid interpretation of Sunni Islam. Needless to say, with such a fanatical group (with a demonstrated capacity for extreme violence) gaining ground, the Arab States are bound to be deeply uneasy about it. After all, the Arab world is home to several diverse Muslim and even non-Muslim communities. That's why 10 Arab states have hopped on to the anti-Isis bandwagon led by the United States. Their support, military and diplomatic, is crucial in the battle ahead.

The Assad factor

The Islamic State may not have evolved into such a serious threat had it not been for the withering away of the Syrian state from large chunks of the country because of the bloody civil war in Syria. The attempt by the US and other western countries as well as Saudi Arabia to selectively arm what they considered to be ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels was always a high-risk strategy — and it seems to have backfired at least in some respects. There are credible reports that sophisticated Saudi and US weapons are now in the hands of the Islamic State fighters, who were also fighting Assad’s forces to begin with. Know what is Islamic State

The dilemma for American strategists is whether the US should strike a deal with the Syrian regime to seek its support in cornering the Islamic State. That could be a potential game-changer, but the US would have come a full circle in its Syrian policy.

The other big political question for the west is if it should reach out to Iran, which is both a regional superpower and an ally of Assad.

As military strategies are fine-tuned, the coming days will also see a lot of diplomatic maneuvering as the coalition of nations confronts the Islamic State in this volatile part of the world.

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