Archive for December, 2018

France, Britain Agree Action Plan on Migrant Channel Crossings

Monday, December 31st, 2018

Britain and France have agreed to boost bilateral cooperation over a spike in migrants trying to cross the Channel, the UK’s Home Office said Sunday.

In the coming weeks, the two countries will increase surveillance patrols and focus on measures to dismantle trafficking gangs and improve awareness about the dangers of sea crossings in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

“The UK and France will build on our joint efforts to deter illegal migration — protecting our borders and human life,” said Britain’s Home Office minister Sajid Javid, after speaking on the phone with French counterpart Christophe Castaner.

Attempts to cross the English Channel have been increasing since October, with authorities on both sides struggling to stop them.
Javid, who has previously said the rise is being treated as a “major incident”, has faced criticism from the opposition and from within his own party for responding too slowly. 

“More than 200 migrants have arrived on the Kent coast in small craft in the past two months. The scale of the problem is unprecedented,” Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover on the southeast coast of England, told the Daily Mail.

A particular increase in arrivals has been recorded over the Christmas period, with British authorities finding 43 people in English waters on Christmas Day and December 26.

On Thursday, British border officials found 23 Iranians in three locations in Kent on England’s southeast coast, hours after French maritime authorities intercepted 11 migrants in a small boat near Sangatte.
And on Sunday, authorities intercepted six Iranians near Kingsdown beach in Dover.

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Residents and Visitors of Bulgaria’s Capital Sofia Can Attend Traditional Festive Concert Stage Under the Stars

Monday, December 31st, 2018

Residents and visitors of Bulgaria’s capital Sofia will again have the opportunity to attend the festive concert Stage Under the Stars that will be held traditionally on Prince Alexander I square downtown Sofia, reported the Bulgarian National Radio. 

The 20th jubilee edition of the biggest festive event in Bulgaria will be broadcast by BNT1 and BNT4. The concert will begin at 8 pm. Some of Bulgaria’s most popular rock and pop bands will participate at the concert. A brass orchestra, folklore formations and soloists of Arabesque Ballet will also take part at the festive event.

Renowned Bulgarian athletes and artists will greet the Bulgarian people in video messages. Last year the Stage Under the Stars concert gathered over 30,000 people. Over 1 million people watched the concert on the TV.

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Energy issues to watch in 2019

Monday, December 31st, 2018

The imposition of US sanctions on Iran could have the greatest impact on the sector

14 Most Profitable Products for Handmade Woodworking Businesses to Build and Sell

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

14 Most Profitable Woodworking Projects to Build and Sell

Making beautiful, hand-crafted wood items to sell is an extremely creative and rewarding way to make money. Naturally, like any art or craft project, some woodworking creations sell better than others.

Most Profitable Woodworking Projects to Build and Sell

If you’re determined to turn your creative, woodworking skills into profit, take a look at the following 14 most profitable woodworking projects to build and sell.

Wooden Toys

Unlike many of their plastic counterparts, wooden toys can withstand the test of time. Not only do they possess longevity, but toys made of wood look fabulous in nurseries and children’s bedrooms, hence these quirky items will always be sought-after.

Put your best woodworking hat on and start making wooden dolls, puppets, train sets and more – the perfect gift for a child at Christmas.

Coat Racks

Rustic coat racks made from wood make a striking feature on the wall of any home. These desirable home accessories are also easy to build requiring little more than some chunky wooden, nails and wrought iron hangers, making them a super profitable woodworking project.

Fruit Bowls

Fruit bowls are a ubiquitous feature in almost every household, providing an eye-catching and practical feature in kitchens and dining rooms. These household accessory staples look even more striking when made from real wood.

Whether they’re made from a solid piece of wood or from fragmented pieces, fruit bowls are a sought-after item for the home and are therefore a profitable woodworking project.

Picture Frames

Wooden picture frames are easy to make and can be made to look unique by the decoration, color and embellishments you add to the wooden frame. Wooden picture frames will always be in demand and being inexpensive to make, are a profitable woodwork project to embark on.

Plant Boxes

Wood is a great material for robust and eye-catching plant boxes, which make a great addition to patios, terraces, gardens and even indoors. These simple-to-make and sought-after items are one of the most inexpensive and profitable woodburning projects you can get involved in.

Wooden Furniture

It’s hard to resist a piece of bespoke, handmade wooden furniture that provides a robust, lasting and practical feature in the home. From coffee tables made from pine to wardrobes in mahogany, set yourself a rewarding and profitable woodworking project making beautiful pieces of furniture.

Wooden Utensils

Spoons, knives, forks and other utensils made out of wood don’t just look great and can be used solely as ornamental pieces, but they can be functional features in the kitchen and dining room, conducting heat more efficiently than metal utensils.

Capitalize on the unique properties of wooden utensils by making your own exclusive and highly profitable knives, forks and spoons made from wood.

Corner Wall Shelves

Corner wall shelves that are made from chunky wooden pieces provide a unique feature in both traditional and contemporary homes.

These woodworking projects are fun to try and, other than the wood and glue, cost next to nothing, meaning you can sell your creative inventions for a tidy profit.

Birdhouses

Birdhouses look fantastic when they are made from a high-quality wood and they aren’t as difficult to make as you might have thought. Start knocking together redwood, cedar, pine or cypress and you’ll have a desirable product bird-enthusiasts will want to buy from you.

Wooden Pallet Christmas Trees

Wooden pallet Christmas trees are incredibly easy to make and can be sold for a tidy profit for those seeking a quirky alternative to a real Christmas tree. Simply build your tree by placing pieces of pallet wood on top of one another and add some pretty Christmas decorations for a creative woodwork project you can sell for a profit.

Coffee Cup Racks

Like coat hangers but on a smaller scale, coffee cup racks are easy items to make from wood and make superb Christmas and birthday presents for anyone who loves unusual and quirky items in their home.

These desirable kitchen items don’t take long to make and are inexpensive, making wooden coffee cup racks profitable woodworking projects.

Dog Beds

Dog beds can be expensive and for dog owners looking for an alternative to plastic beds, ones made from wood could prove attractive. These sturdy, comfortable and attractive beds for dogs aren’t difficult or expensive to construct, making them a profitable woodworking project to build and sell.

Rustic Headboards

Put your artistic woodworking skills to best use by working on beautiful, handmade, rustic headboards made from stunning wood. Such pieces of furniture make a great addition to a bedroom and will always be in demand, making them a lucrative woodwork project to embark on.

Wine Racks

Wine racks made from wood are not only sturdy, but they look great in the home. These desirable items are neither expensive nor difficult to build and can be sold for a nice profit for wine-lovers looking for an eye-catching and robust place to store their bottles.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “14 Most Profitable Products for Handmade Woodworking Businesses to Build and Sell” was first published on Small Business Trends

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New Facebook Group Stories May Help Your Brand Engage with Customers

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Facebook Group Stories Launched

Facebook has added Stories to all of its brands and now it is also part of Groups. With this new feature Group members can be part of the story by contributing and collaborating in a conversation. Since many businesses and brands maintain such Groups, this may be an opportunity to boost engagement.

The global rollout also includes lightweight reactions so group members can respond with emoji’s while giving Group Admins more access and control.

The addition of these features means businesses will be able to engage with their audience outside of newsfeed ads. This new capability comes after Facebook announced it was offering ads for businesses in Stories earlier this year.

With hundreds of millions of daily Stories users across all its brands, offering additional engagement options was a natural progression to attract more users. And the tighter controls for admins give members a safe place in which they can share moments with their group and choose who can contribute.

Facebook is especially highlighting the new features available to admins. In the Blog, the company said admins will have the ability to effectively manage the group stories while maintaining a safe place where members can share freely.

It goes on to say, “With these tools, group admins are able to approve or delete member stories before those get shared with the community. Group admins are also able to mute members and select a setting that allows only admins to post or contribute to group stories.”

Post Stories on Your Facebook Groups

With the new features, Facebook Group members can use their Android or iOS mobile device or desktop to view Group Stories. However, if they want to add to a Story they can only use their mobile device.

Adding to a Group Story requires members to tap on the Story button located by the Group mobile page and selecting the “Add” button. At this time members can react with emojis or add their own photo, video, text, and other content.

When it comes to admins, they will be able to directly interact with members and use these new features to reach their membership. It starts with an approval feature which lets admins approve members before they can add any content to a Story.

The ‘admin tools’ on a mobile device or ‘moderate group’ on a desktop can be used for managing pending and reported stories. The stories can then be muted or have those members blocked from contributing any further.

If a member posts a Story photo or video which is not related to the Group, the admin can delete it.

More Control and Better Engagement

One of the issues Facebook is tackling with the new features is privacy, which is being addressed by giving admins more control over who can be a member and what they can post.

The Cambridge Analytica case, Russian hackers, and privacy issues have been plaguing Facebook for the better part of almost two years.

Giving its users more control over their Group means not anyone can post content and if they find something objectionable, they can delete it.

Image: Facebook

This article, “New Facebook Group Stories May Help Your Brand Engage with Customers” was first published on Small Business Trends

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How to Help Your Introverted Employees Survive Holiday Office Parties (INFOGRAPHIC)

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Office Parties for Introverts (INFOGRAPHIC)

For most businesses, Christmas and New Year’s means office parties, but for introverts, this time of year can be highly stressful.

A new infographic by Simply Be titled, “An Introvert’s Guide to Office Parties” has 18 tips to help introverts navigate office functions around this time of year.

The infographic looks to provide a set of tools introverts can use before, during, and after work functions to handle their anxiety and even enjoy themselves.

Office functions might seem trivial, but for business owners and managers they provide more than just a way to let loose and have a good time.

In addition to bringing everyone in the organization together, they allow owners and managers to see how their employees interact with each other while identifying potential candidates for certain positions.

Introverts who fail to attend these gatherings might be missing out on opportunities without knowing it, which is what Simply Be says in the report.

It goes on to say, “…If you’re not attending work gatherings, it’s likely that you’ll be left out of office friendships and conversations – not to mention being at the back of management’s mind when it comes to promotions and pay rises.”

Help your introverted employees by sharing the infographic below to help the feel more comfortable at this stressful time of year.

Tips on Office Parties for Introverts

Before the party, the infographic says to be honest about whether you’ll be attending or not. Saying you’ll attend and not showing up will make your work environment even more uncomfortable as an introvert.

Another tip is to make the decision on whether it is worth attending the party. If your presence is not required and it is too stressful, you should consider not attending.

Once you have made the decision to go, set a goal for the party to make it easier to socialize while you’re there. This includes practicing conversations, brushing up on current events and having some talking points ready.

The infographic says this might be a bit extreme, but for introverts going through this process will help overcome the anxieties of attending the party.

Two additional tips before introverted employees go to a party include resting or charging their batteries and finding someone they are comfortable with (wingman/woman) to attend the event with them.

When at the party, introverted employees can use existing friends to make new ones, and above all should avoid drinking too much because the outcome could be less than desirable. At the same time, introverted employees should have an exit plan just in case they are feeling particularly anxious or tired.

After the party, they can wind down by taking a bath, taking a walk, or spending some quiet time alone. Introverted employees can build on this experience by attending other parties outside of the workplace until they are wholly comfortable no matter where they are.

The key is to identify what makes them uncomfortable, finding solutions, and implementing said solutions at their own pace.

Introverts

The infographic lists five main traits of an introvert. Knowing these traits can also help owners and managers identify introverts who might be having a hard time fitting in with the organization even though they are great employees.

Once you identify these employees, you can work with them to slowly bring them into the fold with the rest of the organization so they can feel more comfortable in the workplace. At the same time, you can also make workplace functions optional for them until they are ready to attend.

 

You can see these five traits and the rest of the tips in the infographic below.

Office Parties for Introverts (INFOGRAPHIC)

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Help Your Introverted Employees Survive Holiday Office Parties (INFOGRAPHIC)” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Top 2018 YouTube Trends for Small Business

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Top 2018 YouTube Trends for Small Businesses

Since its launch back in 2005, YouTube has become the premier online destination for video content. For small businesses, YouTube provides a number of unique opportunities, from video marketing for a specific product or service to earning an income through the YouTube Partner Program.

2018 YouTube Trends

Here are some statistics and trends that could be of interest for entrepreneurs looking to leverage the power of YouTube.

YouTube Popularity

  • YouTube has more than 1.9 billion logged-in users who visit YouTube every month.
  • YouTube is adding 900,000 unique visitors every month.
  • By 2019, YouTube is expected to increase its user base by 187.8 million.
  • YouTube has also become one of the most popular online platforms for teens. 85 percent of teens say they use the platform.
  • In addition, 32 percent of teens say they use YouTube more than any other platform, making it second only to Snapchat.
  • 81 percent of parents with kids 11 and younger said they let their kids watch YouTube videos.
  • And 34 percent of those parents say it’s a regular occurrence.

Popular Types of YouTube Videos

  • Entertainment related videos get an average of 9,816 views per month.
  • How-to and style videos receive an average of 8,332 views per month.
  • Science and technology related videos receive an average of 6,638 views per month.
  • Videos related to pets and animals receive an average of 6,542 views per month.
  • Videos related to autos and vehicles receive an average of 5,673 views per month.
  • Education related videos receive an average of 4,872 views per month.
  • Videos related to travel and events receive an average of 3,070 views per month.
  • Gaming related videos receive an average of 3,050 views per month.
  • Videos related to people or vlogs receive an average of 2,354 views per month.
  • 35 percent of adults turn to YouTube for how-tos or tutorials.

Ideal YouTube Videos

  • 70 percent of YouTube users view videos on their mobile devices. So mobile friendly videos are incredibly important.
  • Short videos tend to be especially popular on YouTube. Research has suggested that the ideal length is between one and two minutes.
  • In fact, 56 percent of all videos posted online in the past year are two minutes long or less.
  • The YouTube algorithm tends to favor those who post new videos consistently, as well as those who use consistent and relevant keywords.
  • Optimal thumbnails for YouTube videos should be 1280px wide by 720px tall.

YouTube Marketing

  • 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute.
  • 500 years worth of YouTube videos are watched every day on Facebook.
  • And 100 million people like, comment or interact with at least one YouTube video each week.
  • 19 percent of YouTube users consider YouTube videos to be very important when they’re making a decision about buying a particular product.

YouTube Ad Revenue

  • YouTube monetizes at least 3 billion video views per week.
  • The number of creators earning six figures per year on YouTube has increased by 40 percent year on year.
  • The number of creators earning five figures per year on YouTube has increased by 50 percent year on year.
  • About 250 brands pulled YouTube ads last year when they found that their ads were running alongside content they didn’t want to be associated with.
  • YouTube also implemented some changes that require creators to have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours within the last year.

Bottom Line

These statistics show just how powerful and effective YouTube can be for small businesses. Whether you’re looking to market a product or service or actually earn a living from the video content you post, there’s an audience for your brand on this popular platform. Here are some more articles and resources to check out as you shape your business’s YouTube strategy.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Top 2018 YouTube Trends for Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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German Police Detain Syrian National Suspected of Planning Terror Act

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

The police of the German city of Mainz detained a Syrian national, who is suspected of preparing a terrorist attack and is thought to be linked to four individuals, who were detained earlier in Rotterdam, local media reported on Saturday, quoted by SPUTNIK. 

Earlier on Saturday, the Dutch police said that four individuals had been detained in Rotterdam on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities.

According to Germany’s Zeit newspaper, the 26-year-old Syrian national was detained at an apartment in Mainz, with the flat having been searched by the police. The German police worked in cooperation with the Dutch colleagues, the news outlet added.

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Italy Passes Revised Budget After EU Compromise

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

The 2019 budget agreement reached between Italy and the EU is likely to ease market concerns. Rome and Brussels had gone head-to-head since October over the original high-spending fiscal plan, reported DW. 

Italian lawmakers on Saturday passed the government’s 2019 budget, soothing market angst after Rome reached a compromise with the European Commission last week.

The coalition of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League passed the bill, with 327 deputies voting for and 228 against it, and one abstention. A final vote in the lower house to approve the budget is considered a formality.

Italy redrafted its big-spending budget and cut its deficit next year to 2.04 percent of GDP after the EU rejected its original 2.4 percent target as a violation of fiscal rules. This year’s deficit was 1.9 percent.

Saturday’s vote was marked by heated debate between the populist government and the opposition, which claimed it had had little time to examine the deal with Brussels ahead of a December 31 deadline.

In a tussle that unnerved markets and threatened the eurozone, the European Commission in October rejected Italy’s budget, which promised a universal basic income and scrapped pension reform.

Italy has now agreed to reduce the cost of both measures to avoid significant increases of its €2.3-trillion ($2.6-trillion) debt load. Italy’s public debt stands at 131.7 percent of GDP — more than double the EU ceiling of 60 percent. It’s projected to fall to 130.7 percent next year.

The 2019 budget includes a toned-down income support scheme known as “citizens’ wage” and a lowering of the retirement age. It also includes tax cuts for the self-employed as well as higher taxes on banks, insurers and gambling. Low-income earners are also eligible to settle back taxes by paying a small fine.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called the budget “the first step of a broad and ambitious plan of reform” that would help kick-start the eurozone’s third-biggest economy and reduce unemployment.

The prospect of a budget clash between Italy and the EU had spooked markets and driven up bond yields. Italy’s failure to reach a deal could have risked a fine of up to 0.2 percent of GDP.

Since coming to power seven months ago, M5S and the League have seen their popularity rise to around 60 percent.

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How Much Did the State Spend in 2018?

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

The state has negotiated 12% more as value, public procurement this year compared to the past.

 The central and local authorities are obliged to spend their money transparently and for this purpose they publish their orders on a daily basis in the register of the same name.

According to the statistics of the Public Procurement Agency last year, the state has accelerated the spending of money to BGN 21.3 million  per day. For comparison, in 2017, the amount was BGN 18.6 million and in 2016 was BGN 16.4 million. One of the main reasons for the increase in the spending was that the absorption of the EU funds started under the current programming period.

The total value of the public procurement contracts concluded exceeds BGN 7.8 million.

And this year, construction orders are at a lower value than the money that goes for supplies of different materials. For the construction the amount allocated is BGN 2 billion and 580 million.

However, the construction cost is expected to increase next year due to the more capital expenditures for the municipalities, as well as the expected increase in the absorption of EU projects in the area of ??water supply and sewerage and the construction of roads.

Typically, the companies with the highest number of public procurement contracts per year are the Electricity System Operator and the Maritsa East 2 TPP. For the first time, however, Sofia Municipality was replaced by the Municipality of Varna in the ranking. 

The number of orders does not match the amounts that are being spent. One of the largest orders announced this year was released in the last hours of 2018 and worth BGN 2.2 billion. The competition is for the construction of a gas pipe, and the contracting authority – the state-owned Bulgartransgaz.

Judging by the state budget next year – the money spent will be more. The state has set a record number of spending with four priorities – income growth, education, defense and social policy. Wages in the budget sector will increase by 10 per cent, education by 20 per cent, and for defense and social policy also an increase in funds is foreseen. All of these amounts have to go through public procurement law to be spent.

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