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Friday, December 1, 2017

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The Resurgence of Central Asian Connectivity

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 01:31 AM PST

It is early September 2017 at the Dostyk border post, where southern Kyrgyzstan meets Uzbekistan’s Andijan region. Located only a few kilometers outside of Osh, Dostyk became instrumental in separating communities that were once united: until the summer, people could only cross it by producing a so-called telegramma – an official proof of invitation received from across the border. A lively ceremony is held to mark the reopening of Dostyk or, more precisely, the termination of this strict invitation-only policy. Local leaders from either side of the border and Kyrgyzstan’s deputy prime minister noted the progress made by bilateral relations in the preceding year, highlighting the benefits that a working border post may bring to the economies of the neighboring regions and, most importantly, the daily lives of local communities.

There is nevertheless more than the leaders’ personalities to recent tightening and relaxations in Central Asia’s customs policies. Globally, the movement of people and goods across international borders is perceived as a bitterly divisive issue. In Central Asia, the mechanisms determining who and what transits across regional borders have been equally politicized, and remained essentially subjugated to the authoritarian agendas that crystallized regionally since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the 1990s, the political imperatives of the emerging regimes dominated the strategies through which new international boundaries were demarcated. More recently, the logic of authoritarian control sealed the majority of these borders, which thus became symbols of isolation and instruments of insulation from external actors, influences, and pressures.

Despite the advance of globalization, and notwithstanding China’s recent push for regional connectivity, Central Asia retreated into one of the most dis-integrated and disconnected regions in the world: the five regional states showed very little interest in establishing mutually sustainable commercial relations and, perhaps most disconcertingly, failed to engage multilaterally in any meaningful way. The consolidation of authoritarianism prevented the progress of Central Asian integration and set apparently insurmountable obstacles to the dual enhancement of connectivity and integration in the region. Looking at the current border kerfuffle between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the process of regional dis-integration appears to be irreversible. Recent improvements in Uzbek-Kyrgyz relations, on the other hand, paint a much rosier picture of the prospects for inter-state cooperation in Central Asia.

Holidays bring up painful challenges

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

Dear Amy: I am currently separated from my husband of less than a year, due to some pretty serious rage and respect issues that snowballed immediately after we wed.

My husband has voluntarily enrolled in a 52-week domestic violence course and is committed to recovery and discovering how to be compassionate and empathetic.

On the recommendation of our marriage counselor, we have decided to remain separated for the duration of the course.

We are still very much in love and committed to working through this tough time together, despite being apart.

My question is about the holidays. Would it be appropriate for the two of us to attend family functions together during the holidays, even though we live separately?

We both agree it would be weird for us and our family, but on the other hand, we are committed, still married and doing all we can to save our marriage. It would feel confusing for everyone if we showed up together, but it seems a shame to spend this time apart.

Please help us decide, is there something we aren’t considering?

— Wife-ing at a distance

Dear Wife-ing: My instinct is that it would NOT be wise for the two of you to jointly attend family events over the holidays. The reason isn’t necessarily because it would be “weird” for everyone, but mainly because the holidays provide an almost constant stream of triggers (including alcohol, family, in-laws, high expectations, disappointment, noise, late nights, stress, gift-giving and fruitcake). The winter holiday season can drive otherwise balanced people into a rage state.

I think it would be wisest to be low-key this year and avoid questions and the judgment of family members, who might want to confront your husband over his treatment of you. It would be best for him to complete treatment before facing your family in a group setting.

Perhaps you two could attend a church service or holiday concert together, followed by coffee and a private gift exchange.

Importantly, you should ask your marriage counselor for a professional recommendation. Your counselor knows both of you.

Dear Amy: The holiday season has never brought me much joy, except when my (now young adult) children were young.

Growing up, my parents always had epic fights on Thanksgiving and Christmas (their fights on all the other days were less epic).

Fortunately, my family lives out of state, so we get together with my spouse’s siblings for holiday celebrations.

I have longstanding issues with depression. I take medication and see a therapist for it. This year, due to a number of circumstances, I just want to skip the whole holiday thing, especially spending time with my in-laws.

If I bow out, I will be harshly criticized. They don’t know anything about the issues I’m dealing with, nor do I want them to know.

I guess I can buck up for the meals, but I have no holiday spirit whatsoever. How do I hold it together for the next two months for my spouse and kids?

— Holiday Blahs

Dear Holiday Blahs: One thing you could do differently this year would be to stop holding it together for your spouse and (young adult) kids. Perhaps they could hold it together for you. You should be honest about the need for rest and space this year.

You have an illness (depression) which can be worse during the holiday season. Even if you weren’t depressed, your parents’ terrible legacy of waging epic fights on holidays would make this a tough annual dance.

Your therapist could help you to come up with a strategy to get through these next weeks.

If you think you can make it through the holiday meal, great. Drive separately, if possible. When you feel you must leave, thank the host quietly, say you’re not feeling well, and exit without fanfare.

If possible, plan something you enjoy doing, so that you can reward yourself for making it through. It might be driving to a favorite spot and listening to a podcast in your car, taking a long walk or sitting quietly with a good book.

Dear Amy: The letter from “Upset Wife” concerned me. Her husband had become a “troll” on Facebook, posting offensive comments and content. She should definitely “unfriend” him on Facebook. She should also consider unfriending him in real life!

— No Fan of Trolls

Dear No Fan: “Upset Wife’s” husband seemed to be revealing a disturbing aspect of his character. And, like the saying goes, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamy@amydickinson.com. Readers may send postal mail to Amy Dickinson, c/o Tribune Content Agency, 16650 Westgrove Drive, Suite 175, Addison, Texas, 75001. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.)

OMARR’S DAILY ASTROLOGICAL FORECAST, For release 12/01/17 for 12/01/17

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

BIRTHDAY GAL: Actress Katherine LaNasa was born in New Orleans today in 1966. This birthday gal currently portrays Sally on “Imposters.” She starred as Adriana on “Satisfaction” and has played recurring roles on “Devious Maids,” “Longmire,” and “Big Love.” On the big screen, LaNasa’s film resume includes roles in such movies as “The Squeeze,” “The Campaign,” and “Valentine’s Day.”

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Cut friction off at the pass. Accept peacekeeping efforts in the same spirit with which they are offered. Gain the support of intelligent adversaries by explaining your ideas frankly, sincerely and honestly.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Don’t look the gift horse in the mouth. If someone gives you a car and gas you may as well take a trip somewhere. Share the enthusiasms of a loved one and find ways to utilize gifts and opportunities wisely.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Accept minor irritations with good grace. Someone is likely to push you off your cloud and force you to face reality. Those pennies spent here and there on little things could mount up, so take steps to economize.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Shrewdness must not be confused with smartness. Your run of good luck can come to a screeching halt. You could be on a collision course with trouble if you act impulsively in public or spend too much money.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Your stamina is highly prized when push comes to shove. You are able to burn the midnight oil and awaken alert at the crack of dawn. It may be difficult to unwind and to put ambitions aside for the weekend.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Everything is great until it’s not. Someone may mystify you by using passive aggressive tactics or could act in a confusing manner. Seek support and guidance from someone trustworthy in the immediate vicinity.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): It may be difficult to pinpoint the conflicts that are in play. Be understanding of the pressures that make others act the way they do. Employ compassion rather than losing your temper when someone opposes your wishes.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Setting a sterling example can be unsettling. You may occasionally have doubts. Just remember that you are loved, warts and all. A permanent improvement is in process although you may not be aware of it now.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Put plans on hold. Projects and proposals might turn out as hoped if you put them in motion now. Authority figures breathe down your neck and expect that you finish every step with military precision.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Concentrate on being a rock of dependability in an unreliable world. Don’t be distracted by a passing whim unless you have the time for a wild goose chase. Try to stay on your on course.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): A gift can heal a rift. You can spend time, or money, to adjust someone’s attitude and warm up a chilly relationship. You might find a creative and beneficial way to put things right if you are very discreet.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Use it or lose it. Make valuable connections and put your networking skills to work. You can increase your sphere of influence. There’s enchantment in your walk and admirers to talk to before you head home.

IF DECEMBER 1 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: People who meet you as the next three to four weeks unfold are impressed by your glamorous aura. You might initially feel you are only faking it, but your desire to win applause gives you an incentive to do your best, especially in January. January is a good time to embrace opportunities, apply for a new position or change careers. Any relationship that forms or solidifies in this time period will have the potential for long term commitment or will be good for you in some way. Both February and April are good for making financial and investment decisions. Plan carefully so you can avoid making crucial changes or launching projects in May when your judgment is temporarily off center.

*Love Is… – Comic Panel – 20171201cplis-a.tif

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

*Pluggers – Color Comic Panel – 20171201cpplc-a.tif

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

Vintage ‘Dracula’ poster set a new world record at auction

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

WHAT: Few films have captured fans as much as much as the original “Dracula.” Everything about the movie, including the star, snippets of dialogue (“I vant to suck your blood” is a misquote), posters and other visuals, has captivated the public. Made by Universal Pictures and produced by Carl Laemmle, the 1931 original birthed the universally held version of Bram Stoker’s Count.

Eighty-six years after its release, mention of the film still conjures images of Bela Lugosi as the dreaded Count Dracula. Once a relatively unknown stage actor, Lugosi, thick accent and all, will forever be the Count.

MORE: A one-sheet poster of Lugosi’s looming face as the Count has become almost as famous as the film, and an obsession for collectors. A newly found poster in coveted Style A format, so rare that it is one of only two known to exist, recently sold at Heritage Auctions for $525,800. The result set a new world record for a movie poster.

SMART COLLECTORS KNOW: One principle of collecting is that condition is everything. As a rule, flawed items do not get top dollar.

But when an item is rare and very desirable, some flaws are tolerable. When found, the poster had pinholes in the corners from hanging and breaks at creases from folding, color loss, grease pencil bleed-through, and a repaired hole near Lugosi’s face. With professional restoration and a linen backing, the flaws were fixed.

Made to hang in theater lobbies and as outside advertising, most old and vintage movie posters show considerable wear. Professional restoration is often necessary when the cost is likely to pay off.

HOT TIP: The only other known copy of the poster in the same style surfaced in the 1990s. None have appeared since.

BOTTOM LINE: Here’s a case where the cult-like popularity of the film, appeal of the star and the vampire plot, along with the rarity, impact and aesthetic appeal of the poster combined for a record price.

Consider fees and finances carefully before inheriting a timeshare

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

Q: I found a lady on Facebook from my town who owns three timeshares. She is retiring in 2019. She can’t sell one of her timeshare units and she doesn’t use it either. She wants to give it to me. She said I can use a transfer company, pay them a fee and then I’d get to use the timeshare. She paid the fees through next year, and I’d be able to start using it sometime next year. Since I cannot afford to buy a timeshare and I would use it for vacations, is this worth it to me? I’m scared but would love it if I could take my grandkids on vacation.

A: Let’s start with the old adage, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” And, before you start seriously thinking about taking your kids on vacation, you should separate out the issue of vacation and this particular timeshare.

The only reason that you have found this timeshare unit for “free” is that the owner has been unable to sell it. And, the only reason she wants to get rid of it is that the fees and expenses of keeping it outweigh any money she would make by renting it or having one of her family members use it. If it was a great deal, she’d never give it away.

Most timeshare developers charge an upfront fee to buy the unit. In addition to the purchase price, you may also have monthly maintenance expenses, property taxes, association dues and special assessments to keep up the property, and those fees are non-negotiable. Add them up, and you might quickly see that all of these expenses outweigh the benefit you get from receiving the timeshare (essentially as a gift) and not having to pay the upfront cost.

Have you seen this timeshare unit? Do you know anything about the property? Our guess is that you haven’t seen it; and without seeing it, there’s no way to know what the unit looks like, what condition it is in, what the location of the unit is, and whether the amenities will suit you.

You also need to think through the financial responsibilities, including maintenance expenses, taxes and other fees. And if you don’t use it or no longer want it, what happens when you, too, try to sell it? Will you be able to give it away?

Make sure you crunch the numbers: Take a look at what the annual expenses are for the timeshare and what it would cost you to simply stay at a hotel or vacation rental for your next vacation. Young parents with kids might get the best benefit out of a timeshare if they love the building, love the location and intend to go back to the same location year after year.

Older owners may also benefit from a timeshare; but here again, it only works if you want to go to the same place every year. If you don’t think you’d want to go there more than once or twice, this deal probably isn’t right for you.

If you knew that you could easily rent out the unit and could cover all of your yearly expenses and more, the deal might work. But if that was the case, we suspect the owner of the timeshare would have kept it or other people would want to buy it.

(Ilyce Glink is the creator of an 18-part webinar+ebook series called “The Intentional Investor: How to be wildly successful in real estate,” as well as the author of many books on real estate. She also hosts the “Real Estate Minute,” on her YouTube channel. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact Ilyce and Sam through her website, ThinkGlink.com.)

LATEST LINE

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

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             By J. McCarthy  

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Stanford is 7-1 against the spread its last 8 games in December. Southern Cal is 2-8 against the spread its last 10 neutral site conference games. The Cardinal are 6-2 against the spread their last 8 Friday games. Take Stanford +4 for another Best Bet winner.

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                      NFL  

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 Favorite            Points   (O/U)       Underdog  

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                 Sunday, Dec 3rd.                       Week 13   BALTIMORE             3      (43)         Detroit   CHICAGO               3      (41)   San Francisco   ATLANTA               3      (47.5)     Minnesota   New England           8 1/2  (48.5)       BUFFALO   Denver                1 1/2  (39.5)         MIAMI   TENNESSEE             6 1/2  (43)         Houston   JACKSONVILLE          9 1/2  (41)    Indianapolis   GREEN BAY             2      (44.5)     Tampa Bay   Kansas City           3 1/2  (44)         NY JETS   NEW ORLEANS           4 1/2  (48)        Carolina   LA CHARGERS           14     (43)       Cleveland   LA Rams               7      (45)         ARIZONA   OAKLAND               8 1/2  (42)       NY Giants   Philadelphia          6      (47.5)       SEATTLE                   Monday, Dec 4th.   Pittsburgh            5      (43.5)    CINCINNATI  

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                College Football  

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 Favorite            Points   (O/U)       Underdog  

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            Pac 12 Championship Game           Levi's Stadium-Santa Clara, CA.   Southern Cal          4      (58.5)      Stanford                  Saturday, Dec 2nd.   GEORGIA ST            6 1/2  (46)           Idaho   APPALACHIAN ST        15     (58)    UL-Lafayette   Georgia Southern      3      (52)COASTAL CAROLINA   ARKANSAS ST        Pick'em   (60)            Troy   NEW MEXICO ST         9 1/2  (54)   South Alabama          Conference USA Championship Game             FAU Stadium-Boca Raton, FL.   Florida Atlantic      11     (74.5)   North Texas         American Athletic Championship Game            Spectrum Stadium-Orlando, FL.   Central Florida       7      (81)         Memphis                MAC Championship Game               Ford Field-Detroit, MI.   Toledo                21 1/2 (58.5)         Akron                SEC Championship Game           Mercedes-Benz Stadium-Atlanta, GA.   Auburn                2 1/2  (48)         Georgia           Mountain West Championship Game            Albertsons Stadium-Boise, ID.   Boise St              8 1/2  (50.5)     Fresno St                ACC Championship Game         Bank of America Stadium-Charlotte, NC.   Clemson               9 1/2  (46.5) Miami-Florida              Big 10 Championship Game          Lucas Oil Stadium-Indianapolis, IN.   Ohio St               6      (51.5)     Wisconsin              Big 12 Championship Game             AT&T Stadium-Arlington, TX.   Oklahoma              7      (63.5)           Tcu                   Write-In Games   FLORIDA INTL          1      (55.5) Massachusetts   FLORIDA ST            27     (64.5)     UL-Monroe  

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                      NBA  

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 Favorite            Points   (O/U)       Underdog  

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 a-WASHINGTON         OFF     (OFF)        Detroit   Golden St             11     (230)        ORLANDO   TORONTO               6 1/2  (215)        Indiana   OKLAHOMA CITY         4 1/2  (211)      Minnesota   San Antonio           4      (193.5)      MEMPHIS   Sacramento            1 1/2  (193)        CHICAGO   b-MIAMI              OFF     (OFF)      Charlotte   c-UTAH               OFF     (OFF)    New Orleans  

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a-Washington Guard B. Beal is questionable.

b-Miami Center H. Whiteside is doubtful.

c-Utah Guard R. Hood is out.

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               College Basketball  

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 Favorite            Points               Underdog  

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 Purdue                2 1/2              MARYLAND   PITTSBURGH            5 1/2              Duquesne   NORTH CAROLINA        11 1/2             Davidson   NORTHWESTERN          7 1/2              Illinois   OREGON                8                  Boise St   GONZAGA               7 1/2             Creighton             Belfast Basketball Classic        SSE Arena-Belfast, Northern Ireland.                   Semifinal Round   Manhattan             2 1/2            Holy Cross   La Salle              1                    Towson                     Added Games   THE CITADEL           4 1/2                Marist   BRADLEY               7 1/2      Eastern Illinois  

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                       NHL  

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 Favorite             Goals    (O/U)      Underdog  

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 COLUMBUS             1/2-1    (5.5)       Anaheim   NY ISLANDERS        Even-1/2  (5.5)        Ottawa   NY RANGERS           1/2-1    (5.5)      Carolina   Pittsburgh           1/2-1    (5.5)       BUFFALO   FLORIDA             Even-1/2  (5.5)      San Jose   ST. LOUIS            1/2-1    (5.5)   Los Angeles   WINNIPEG             1/2-1    (6)           Vegas   COLORADO            Even-1/2  (5.5)    New Jersey  

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                       MMA  

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          Bellator 189: Budd vs. Blencowe        WinStar World Casino-Thackerville, OK.     A. Blencowe         +330   J. Budd             -430   R. Lovato           +150   C. Honeycutt        -180   H. Kato             +150   C. Njokuani         -180   D. Rickels          +160   A. Piccolotti       -190  

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            Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale              Park Theatre-Las Vegas, NV.   R. Modafferi         OFF   N. Montano           OFF   R. Janes            +375   A. Sanchez          -500   J. Soto             +160   B. Johns            -190   T. Ware             +210   S. O'Malley         -260   E. Spicely          +160   G. Meerschaert      -190  

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               Home Team in CAPS  

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Spending: The best phone plan for you

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST

From “The Best List” in the December issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, our picks for the best smartphone plan for every kind of user:

Families

With the Sprint Unlimited Freedom Plan, you’ll pay $90 a month through October 2018 (you must make automatic payments to qualify for that price) for unlimited calling, texting and data on up to five lines. After that, you’ll pay $60 a month for the first line, plus $40 a month for the second line and $30 a month for each additional line.

Average users

For moderate data users — maybe you check in on email but rarely stream music or a video — consider the TextNow Wireless Grande Plan. It includes unlimited talk and text and 3GB of data for $28 a month. The no-contract plan includes unlimited talk and text within the U.S. and Canada.

Data gobblers

All four of the major carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — now offer plans with unlimited data. For $50 a month for one line and $90 a month for up to five lines (through October 2018), it’s tough to beat the Sprint Unlimited Freedom plan. But if you live in an area where Sprint doesn’t work well, we like the Cricket Wireless Unlimited Talk and Text plan with high-speed data for $55 a month (you must make automatic payments to receive that price). Cricket operates on the AT&T network and will reduce your data speed if you surpass 22GB a month.

Bargain hunters

Tello lets you choose the number of minutes, texting and data. Plans start at $5 a month, and you can make changes at any time. A moderate user, for example, might pick 200 minutes, unlimited texting and 1 gigabyte of data, for $19 a month.

International travelers

With the T-Mobile One Plus plan ($80 a month with autopay), you get unlimited talk, text and data at home, plus phone calls for 20 cents a minute and unlimited data at up to 4G speeds (on the first 10GB used each month) in more than 140 countries.

Deal on the new iPhone

All the major carriers have similar pricing for the new iPhone 8 ($699), iPhone 8 Plus ($799) and iPhone X ($999), but you can score a discount. If you’re trading in a recent smartphone, Sprint’s Flex monthly finance program offers the best value. New and existing customers who join the lease program and trade in an iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S8 or certain other recent smartphones can upgrade to a 64GB iPhone 8 for no charge. After 18 months, you have the option of buying the phone for the remaining balance or upgrading to a new device.

(Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.)

*Dick Tracy – Comic Strip – 20171201csdty-a.tif

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 12:01 AM PST