Sunday, December 31

Australia and Zealand bring in the New Year.

Sydney's fireworks featured a special display designed by Hugh Jackman
ON THE OTHER side of the globe, New Year's Eve has already come and gone with celebrations in Australia and New Zealand.We thought we’d round up some photos to show how those communities brought in the New Year.Though Samoa was the first country to embrace 2018, New Zealand wasn’t far behind with the capital of Wellington lighting up with a fireworks display.Jack Thurston from NBC was there to capture celebrations: Sydney’s fireworks featured a 20-second set designed by Hugh Jackman.

New Year's Eve: 'Most technologically advanced' Sydney fireworks show wows 1 billion people worldwide with an estimated worldwide audience of 1 billion people the Sydney fireworks spectacular wowed the crowds around the harbour which was jammed to capacity by midnight on Sunday.About 1.6 million people attended the fireworks around the edge of Sydney Harbour where a rainbow waterfall off the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Jade Macmillan
The 'love' theme for the Sydney fireworks suits this American couple - Jayson and EJ got engaged on the Harbour Bridge yesterday!  @abcnews

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Melbourne lights up as crowds prepare to welcome in 2018

New Year's Eve: Partygoer set to ring in 2018


Melbourne lights up as crowds prepare to welcome in 2018

Hobart New Year's fireworks

Saturday, December 30

Lagos Govt Moves To Tax Churches, Mosques.

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A bill that would review land use charge in Lagos state has gone through second reading on the floor of the state House of Assembly during plenary on Thursday, December 28.The law tagged:“A Bill for A Law To Repeal The Land Use Charge Law 2001 and Enact Land Use Charge 2017 and For Connected Purposes” was subsequently committed to the House Ad-hoc Committee on Finance headed by Yinka Ogundimu representing Agege II, New Telegraph reports.
Speaker of the House, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa said the law was all about increasing the revenue generation of the state.He said that the House would not exempt religious organisations in the law “because most of the worship centres are making money.“We could only exempt Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).”Obasa observed that a situation where a few consultants were working with the state governments on the collection of land use charge was not good enough, calling for an increase in the number of consultants.He said: “We need more consultants to do the job so that the entire state could be covered in the collection of land use charge. Whatever tribunal that would be set up to deal with offenders should have the support of the government.
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Are you a lone parent? If so, you might be eligible for a €5,000 per year higher education bursary.

THE DEPARTMENT OF Education has announced €6 million worth of funding to assist people from different groups that are underrepresented in higher education.The 1916 Bursary Fund will allocate students €5,000 per year over the next three years, coming to a total of €6 million.The bursary will be allocated first to 200 students for the current 2017/2018 academic year, in a number of different universities and colleges across the country.The qualify for the bursary, a person needs to be from one of a number of target groups.No matter what target group a student is from, they need to be socio-economically disadvantaged in order to be eligible.The target groups include:
  • Lone parents (at least 20% of the bursaries will be targeted towards lone parents)
  • First time and mature student entrants
  • Students with a disability – particularly students with a physical/mobility impairment, students are who deaf/hard of hearing and students who are blind or have a visual impairment
  • Travellers
  • Further education award holders
  • Ethnic minorities (including programme refugees)
All recipients of the grants will need to be socio-economically disadvantaged in order to qualify for the payment.Students can apply for the grants if they are currently in higher education or if they are entering for the first time. A student in receipt of a Susi maintenance grant will be able to add this on top.The Education Department also today announced the areas in which the grants will be allocated and the number of grants per area for the 2017/2019 academic year.These will be spread across higher education institutions across the country. A total of 40 bursaries (out of 200) have been awarded to lone parents for the current academic year.The bursary will be payable to each year of study that the student is in higher education. The €6 million funding will be for the next three years before it is looked at again.The funding is being allocated under the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019 and is part of the Programme for Access to Higher Education (Path) Fund.Previously, a total of €2.7 million was announced under Path to help train teachers from specific target groups.“If we want our education system to be the best, it must be as inclusive as possible,” said Education minister Richard Bruton.“This funding is one of a range of measures we are taking to ensure that this is the case.I’m particularly happy that we are supporting people from disadvantaged backgrounds to become teachers, thus becoming role models for the rest of their community.

Better sex education and conversations with parents: Why the teen pregnancy rate keeps falling.

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THE NUMBER OF teenage pregnancies in Ireland has fallen by 64% in 15 years.Earlier this year, figures released by the CSO showed a decrease in the number of teenage births from 3,087 in 2001 to 1,098 in 2016.This equates to a decrease in the teen birth rate from 20 per 1,000 of females aged 15-19 in Ireland in 2001 to 7.8 per 1,000 in 2016.So, why has it dropped so much?.Niall Behan, Chief Executive of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) said: “We think it’s down to better sex education and better conversations between parents and young people.”Behan said that, as well as the conception rate among teenage girls decreasing in recent years, so too has the abortion rate.In 2016, 10 girls under the age of 16 sought an abortion in the UK, as did 56 girls aged 16 or 17 and 174 women aged 18 or 19 according to figures from the UK Department of Health.Behan said the decline in teenage pregnancy rates first noted in the early 2000s was likely a result of changes made to the sexual health education curriculum in the late 1990s.He noted that sex ed can vary widely depending on the school, stating: “A lot of schools will talk about the main issues, some won’t.” He said some schools are “very reluctant” to talk about contraception, often for religious reasons.There are some boards of management who still are reluctant to allow teachers to provide comprehensive sexual education. In fairness, that has diminished a lot.
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“How an issue like contraception is talked about can influence its use,” he said, noting that some teachers may feel embarrassed when broaching the topic.Behan said fear tactics around teenage pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections may have an “initial scare impact on young people” but don’t help long-term, adding: “They need to be taught about contraception.”Behan said people need to accept that humans are “sexual beings” and “young people will experiment with their sexuality”. He said it’s also important that young people are taught about the emotional aspects of relationships.Behan said the curriculum could be further improved by being more inclusive of the LGBTI+ community.
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He added that the sex ed curriculum in some European countries discusses the opportunities girls and young women may lose out on if they become pregnant something that could be also further explored in Ireland.Behan said abstinence is no longer commonly taught as a way of avoiding pregnancy but still features in some programmes, usually those imported from US evangelical organisations. He said these can have a “really negative effect”, adding there is “no evidence they have any impact on rates of teen pregnancy”.Speaking about the role parents also play in terms of teaching young people about sexual health and contraception, Behan said there is an “increasing level of comfort” around discussing these issues, but it’ll always be an awkward conversation for some people.
When asked about how sex ed can vary widely in schools, a spokesperson from the HSE’s Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP) noted: “While research suggests that more RSE (Relationships and Sexuality Education) is happening in schools, the Department of Education Inspectorate continues to report a variation in the quality of the RSE programme taught in schools and students continue to report dissatisfaction with the RSE programme.”The spokesperson said the SHCPP and the Department of Education have commissioned qualitative research “to help understand how RSE is experienced from the perspectives of stakeholders in a sample of post-primary schools”.A key objective of the research is to assess what is required to support schools to improve implementation and quality of RSE. 
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The recommendations from the project will help inform the steps needed to be taken to support teachers and principals.The spokesperson added that RSE “has made a significant contribution to the decline in teenage pregnancies”.According to the Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy Study 2010, most young people were having sex for the first time between 17-19 years. Some 37% of men aged 18-25 and 26% of women aged 18-25 reported having had sex before the age of 17.In the Growing up in Ireland Study carried out in 2016 (a nationally representative survey of 17 and 18-year-olds), one-third of young people said they had previously had sexual intercourse. Of those who were sexually active, 79% reported that they always used some form of contraception.“This data suggests that the majority of sexually active teenagers in Ireland are aware of the risk of pregnancy and use contraception to protect themselves,” the HSE spokesperson said.

Friday, December 29

7 lovely photos of mothers and daughters who look almost the same age.

As the saying goes, age ain't nothing but a number. Sometimes, this saying is proven literally true when pictures of moms alongside their daughters show them looking almost the same age.Age can sometimes play tricks on the eye. In some cases, it's even impossible to tell a parent from his or her child. Mothers who are blessed with good looks, pass on their impeccable genes to their offspring and have people wondering if they are twins.Sometimes, mothers even look younger than their kids and all that can be attributed to good genes or really good work out routines. Here are seven incredible photos showing mothers looking almost the same age as their daughters. 
1.43-year-old mom (left) is almost indistinguishable from her twin daughters. 
Mom's on the left. Photo: Bored Panda
2.Almost difficult telling them apart. 
Daughter (left) and mom. Photo: Bored Panda
3.51-year-old mom (left) looking every bit as young as her daughter. 
Who's who? Photo: Bored Panda
Unbelievable, but this 61-year-old mom (second from right) is definitely not her daughter's (left) sister. 
One big happy family - but who's mom's mom? Photo: Bored Panda
5.This daughter (right) is paying tribute to her mom (left).The only problem is,they look like sisters.
Mom and daughter who look like sisters. Photo: Bored Panda
6.This mom (left) went prom dress shopping with her daughter,but she could easily attend prom herself. 
Erm, who's the mom? Photo: Bored Panda
7.Mom and daughter modelling together can you tell who's who? 
Mom and daughter modelling. Photo: Bored Panda

9 stunning destinations from National Geographic's best winter trips.

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EVERY YEAR, NATIONAL Geographic Travel puts together an annual Best Winter Trips collection to gather some of the world’s most amazing.This year, the publisher has nine wintry getaways to have people reaching for their passports.Here are some shots of what they went for.During peak breeding season on South Georgia Island, which is near the Antarctic Peninsula, there is said to be more wildlife per square foot than anywhere else in the world.
A gentoo penguin will make as many as 450 foraging dives per day, and with 24 hours of sunlight during December days, you’ll have plenty of chances to see it happen.

Every winter, thousands of grey whales migrate some 6,000 miles south to breeding grounds in Baja California.
Tiny mangrove-laced islands, such as Isla EspĂ­ritu Santo, make perfect base locations for swimming, snorkelling, and kayaking.
Belize is well-known for its pristine waters and coral, but the mainland is equally beautiful. These jungles are located near Belcampo Lodge.
Belize is home to the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere and the thousand-foot-wide Great Blue Hole.
After a devastating series of hurricanes this year, some Caribbean islands are opening their doors to visitors once again, including Turks and Caicos.
Colorful beachside buildings have reopened on many Caribbean islands, including Turks and Caicos.
Glowing houses are covered in snow in Chubu, Japan. This is just one of many festivals that bring Japan to life this time of year.
Red bridges and torri gates are striking under a blanket of white snow in the winter months.
More than a hundred square miles of ice surround visitors on the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park.
With many amenities closed during the summer months, November through April is an ideal time to visit Torres del Paine National Park.
A cheetah struts across Serengeti National Park.
Whether you’re in a hot-air balloon over the savannah or at eye level on the roads below, the Serengeti National Park is sure to be a wild experience.
Snowstorms will not keep Vienna's world-renowned Christmas markets from spreading holiday cheer.
Christmas markets have warmed Vienna’s city centre for centuries. This is City Hall’s classic Christkindlmarkt.
There are countless ways to experience the arching palms, floating markets, and biodiversity of the Mekong river, which connects six countries.
Stunning views line the banks of the Mekong, Southeast Asia's longest river, like the Amphawa floating market in Thailand.

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