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Chris Brown Steps In It Again With Ebola Tweet: ‘It’s Population Control’

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Nearly 4,000 people have died of the deadly ebola virus mainly in three West African countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

Chris Brown has been ridiculed for a bizarre tweet Monday in which he claimed the virus was a form of population control.

After receiving hundreds of criticism from some of his 13.6 million followers he backtracked and tweeted “Let me shut my black ass up?”
His first post has so far received 12,000 retweets and has not been deleted by the singer.

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Comedian Warren Holstein tweeted: ‘Chris Brown tweeted that Ebola is “a form of population control.” He should try it.’
Kevin Hildebrand said: ‘Let’s keep in mind that Chris Brown is a complete idiot, so his theory of Ebola is equal to a rant from a village idiot.’
Wayne Durham tweeted: ‘The stupid gene is strong in Chris Brown.’

There is no vaccine for the virus, with the UN expecting the outbreak to continue for at least three months.

 

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Experiencing Paradise in the Most Unbelievable Place on Earth: Bora Bora

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Some consider New York or L.A. as the center of the universe but Bora Bora in the South Pacific is proudly a world’s away.

It’s an impossible to describe the waters of Bora Bora.

I heard the “oohhs” and “aahhs” on the propeller plan carrying 75 passengers to paradise on Earth.

Unfortunately, because I was on the right side of the plane, I wasn’t catching the spectacular views. I jumped out of my seat and rushed to the left side to catch a glimpse of what half the plane was experiencing.

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The Beauty Of #BoraBora Has To Be Seen To Be Believed, No #PhotoShop Needed! #FSBoraBora #boraborabirthday #Tahiti #FourSeasons #tropics #beaches #frenchpolynesia #marlonbrando #paradise #moorea #sunsets #luxurytravel #tropical #chocolate #nature

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Unbelievable Views

The view was that spell bounding that the French woman turned me down for a peak through her window. My optimistic inner-self told me it’s because she didn’t understand my English.

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When we landed, I saw the turquoise blue waters that would be the first splash of my adventure in paradise on Earth.

The Air Tahiti Nui overnight flight from the Los Angeles International Airport into Paipettee, Tahiti lasted a little more than eight hours – about 3 three hours more than Hawaii or approximately the same timeframe if we were traveling from the East Coast of the U.S.

Air Tahiti Nui sports colors Boeing airplane befitting its destination’s tropical colors. The jade and bunt orange interior colors with paintings of French-born artist Paul Gauguin helps transitions passengers to the Tahitian spirit.

I was surprised that the trip to Tahiti didn’t require a Visa nor did we need to cross the International Date Line. In fact, it’s directly south of the equator from Hawaii.

unnamed Bora Bora

Charming Early Tahitian Surprise

We arrived early in the morning at Faa’a International Airport in Tahiti’s capital of Papeete and had a long layover until taking a 45-minute Tahiti Air flight to Bora Bora.

Since the shops at the airport hadn’t yet opened, we went outside to a delightful surprise: encountering local women making beautiful flower leis for arriving tourists.

Almost everything was closed in the early hours at Tahiti's airport but smiling women making colorful leis for international visitors, including the open hearts of hospitality of Fabienne.

Almost everything was closed in the early hours at Tahiti’s airport but smiling women making colorful leis for international visitors, including the open hearts of hospitality displayed by a new friend, Fabienne.

Bora Bora has become synonymous with overwater bungalows and romantic honeymoons.

My special trip was to celebrate my 45 years living on this planet, but little did I know that I would soon be transported to paradise on Earth.

Travel brochures and websites often liberally proclaim their tropical destinations as such heaven on Earth and a slice of paradise, etc. But after experiencing Bora Bora for a week, I can unequivocally state that no other travel destination will match its vivid physical beauty and emotional resonance.

Bora Bora is located northwest of Tahiti, which is the largest island in a group of South Pacific islands called French Polynesia. French is the official language although Tahitian and English widely spoken – especially in Bora Bora.

Airport Amnesia

The islanders have a special place in their heart for Americans with the natives being conversant with all things Americans – at least with pop culture.

The Bora Bora airport was built by Americans and used by the U.S. military during World War II. Upon landing at the airport, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

The white sands sparkled alongside the sky blue hues of the lagoon. “If the airport looks this beautiful, I can’t imagine what the rest of the island looks like,” I exclaimed.

Other passengers forgot their luggage as they were too occupied capturing the first sights of paradise at the airstrip as if it were a mirage that would soon vanish.

Used to the distractions, flight attendants would reunite luggage, purses and backpacks to the otherwise occupied tourists.

The airport makes finding your final destination easy with kiosks with all the resorts.

We spotted the Four Seasons one with the service agents greeting us by name and offering traditional Tahitian leis of the Tiaré flower that had a unique gardenia-like citrus aroma that will forever forge in my mind and heart as the scent of the best vacation I’ve experienced – ever.

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Transported to Paradise

We boarded a classic wood yacht for a 30-minute ride across the near placid lagoon.

In addition to the immense beauty of the water, all eyes were transfixed on Mount Otemanu with its jagged volcanic peak rising magically above the swirling clouds.

Named “Bird of Paradise” by the Tahitians, the extinct volcano would serve as my constant compass of comfort and luxury throughout my five-day adventure in the South Pacific.

Seconds after the hospitality team gave us Tiaré-scented refreshing towels and cold water bottles, all of the 15 passengers on the boat rushed to snap photos. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so beautiful in my life,” a visitor from Canada exclaimed. “Every angle is a photo-op,” remarked another tourist from California. “It’s unbelievable.”

And so my unbelievable 45th birthday in Bora Bora begins. Hashtag #BoraBoraBirthday!

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As the boat docked, about 15 team members greeted us at the lobby greeted with the traditional Tahitian greeting, “Ia Ora Na,” and offered us a passion fruit smoothie.

Marketing Specialist Aurelie Voituron and Resort Manager Christophe Chabaud gave us a warm welcome to the Four Seasons Bora Bora.

Within a few minutes, we were whisked away on a golf cart with Aurelie, a native of Paris, who proudly gave us a tour of the expansive and perfectly landscaped tropical resort surrounded by private lagoons and sparkling white sand beaches set amidst lush tropical gardens.

Optimizing Private Luxury

Architects and landscape designers planned the resort with location, privacy and luxury in mind after learning from all of the other resorts built before the Four Seasons.

The 100 overwater bungalows and seven private beachside villas are strategically positioned to maximize the sweeping vistas yet they all somehow retain a level of privacy.   Beach Villa cq5dam-2.web.1280.1280

We divided our trip to take advantage of both accommodations. Riding on the pontoons above the fantastical waters, I couldn’t help to feel transported to another world.

Stepping into the bungalow, my eyes became immediately transfixed onto the deck and spacious outdoor area with commanding views of Mount Otemanu.

The water was beckoning me to enter. I listened as Aurelie provided a tour of our luxury accommodations, but I all I wanted to do was to take a plunge into the lagoon just steps away.

Built on stilts over the turquoise lagoon, the overwater bungalow at the Four Seasons Bora Bora offers luxury and tranquility but best of all -- your own lagoon.

Built on stilts over the turquoise lagoon, the overwater bungalow at the Four Seasons Bora Bora offers luxury and tranquility but best of all — your own lagoon.

That’s true desire especially for somebody who doesn’t know how to swim. But luckily, I had both patience and a life vest with snorkeling gear waiting.

The 1,000-square-foot overwater bungalow featured native dark woods on the floor, walls and ceilings with all the modern amenities – Wi-Fi, CD and DVD player, iPod docking stations and private bars – one would expect from the Four Seasons brand.

Teak furnishings and native artwork exuded tropical charm. The high ceilings with traditional-thatched roofs created an elevated ambiance, taking full advantage of the natural light.

The floor even features cut-outs to bring in the colors of the waters glistening below. The unique lighting effect is even more brilliant at night with flooring lights illuminating the waters.

Capturing the mystical beauty of Bora Bora, New Zealand photographer Trey Ratcliff sharing his experiencing on Twitter and Google Plus as he arrived at the Four Seasons Bora Bora at night.

Capturing the mystical beauty of Bora Bora, New Zealand photographer Trey Ratcliff shared this photo on Twitter and Google Plus as he arrived at the Four Seasons Bora Bora.

One of my favorite moments was waking up in the middle of the night and going out to the bungalow’s deck.

I would lie there eyes stretched in almost every possible direction at the bright stars of the Southern Hemisphere that formed the Big Dipper and the Southern Cross. It was such awe-inspiring sight that will forever live in my mind.  

My Private Water Oasis

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Diving into the next 45 years of my life! #boraborabirthday #borabora #tahiti #bungalow #jumpingshot #instagramphotooftheday #nofilters #lagoon   View on Instagram

At last, it was time for my plunge. I put on my life vest and took a dive into my own private paradise.

Floating in the calm lagoon, I felt I was the only person in the world. There were no other sounds than my breath and the splashes of waves lapping against me. I suddenly felt the layers of stress and anxiety built over 45 years melt away.

I would revisit that feeling numerous times during my stay. After devouring a mid-afternoon snack of tropical fruits, juices and cheeses, I had an appointment with marine biologist Oliver Martin at the resort’s Ruahatu Lagoon Sanctuary.

Preserving Marine Life

I had known about Oliver from his blog showcasing his worldwide travels with young daughter, Alyx. Since 2008, Oliver and his team have created one of the largest aquatic areas in French Polynesia.

It’s a testament to his passion for preserving the most sensitive of sea creatures against the tide of global warming.

After a three-year research study of French Polynesian reef ecosystems and a six-year world tour to research worldwide anthropogenic impacts, he now works with the cutting-edge program to protect the delicate marine ecosystem.

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Today is World Oceans Day! Saluting hardworking people that protect our oceans like @FourSeasons @FSBoraBora marine biologist Oliver Martin #worldoceansday #marine #marinebiologist #borabora #boraborabirthday #fourseasons #southpacific #tahiti #lagoon #paradise #tropics #tropical #pufferfish #coral #tropicalfish View on Instagram

He leads guests on snorkeling tours of the inner lagoons to enhance their knowledge about marine life.

One of the highlights of my trip was getting to know Oliver and meeting his daughter as well as to experience the underwater living creatures of tropical fish and corals.

Snorkeling in the lagoon was like swimming in a tropical fish aquarium with a kaleidoscope of colorful fish darting about. But as soon as I emerged from the water, I could see the majesty of the surroundings – with Mount Otemanu as the constant background.

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I miss my tropical fish in Bora Bora, especially the rare yellow puffer fish that followed me around in the lagoon. #tropical #tropicalfish #boraborabirthday #borabora #tahiti #snorkel #snorkeling #fsfotog #lagoon #pufferfish

 

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Cultivating Corals

I had the chance to graft corals on large sheets of concrete. They look like exotic herbs in an underwater version of Alice in Wonderland.

I took my turn in grafting five corals which can grow up to 10 inches long a year. I hope to return someday to see Oliver’s dream realized of creating a center on the Pacific side of the island – and to see how my five corals are faring.

Though Tahiti certainly attracts honeymooners and couples celebrating special occasions, I noticed there were many multi-generational families and groups of friends spending quality time in and out of the lagoon.

We spent a brilliant day on an excursion with other guests at the Four Seasons Bora Bora – a family of seven from Japan and a couple from our hometown of Laguna Niguel, Calif. The extended family was made up of grandparents, parents and grandchild – all on a group vacation.

Swimming with Friendly Sharks and Families

Knowing that I had on the internary of the shark and stingray excursion rattled my nerves partly because I couldn’t swim but mostly because of the sharks and stingrays.

The resort helped prepare me for the trip after explaining to me that the sharks were lemon sharks and reef sharks that did not eat humans and that the stingrays and manta rays would be harmless.

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The excursion began with two cousins – Manu and Ray – of Lagoon Tours welcoming our group with some fast-playing ukulele and soothing songs to calm anxious nerves. I wonder if they really are cousins because in that part of the world, your close friends are considered family. I also think their names sound suspiciously close to manta rays.

But the reality is that the duo delivered an amazing day. It began with musical ride on a motorized outrigger canoe that took us to the other side of the main island of Bora Bora where we could see the other resorts along the way. The common comment from the group was how much bigger the Four Seasons bungalows looked compared to the others and the view of Mount Otemanu wasn’t as impressive from those vantage points.

The other consensus of the group was the spectacular shades of blue changing from minute to minute depending on the depth of the water. The first stop along Manu and Ray’s “ocean office” was to feed the stingrays and manta rays. Still a bit hesitant, I safely stood away from the feeding frenzy about neck-deep in water.

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So unreal to be swimming with sharks! #snorkel #snorkeling #boraborabirthday #borabora #sharks #tropicalparadise @fsborabora @fourseasons #diving #tahiti View on Instagram

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Not a boring Bora birthday with life teeming underneath. #borabora #boraborabirthday #tropical #fish #tropicalfish #snorkel #snorkeling #instagramphotooftheday #nofilters

 

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I was in awe as I saw the couple of my hometown embrace the stingrays while the Japanese grandmother kiss another sea creature. I put on my snorkeling gear and became entranced by the rays gliding around as giddy humans – old and young alike – squealed in pure delight.

It was magical. It happened all too fast. The time had come for us to return to the canoe for the second part of the trek – the sharks. After singing Steam’s or Bananarama’s versions of “Kiss Him Goodbye,” we took a plunge into a deeper sea coral garden where schools of tropical fish circled our boat, and eight to 10 sharks awaited their uneasy friends.

I waited for a while next to the boat to get my sea bearings and my strength. But I mostly wanted to watch to make sure it was perfectly O.K. to be in the water with sharks. Conquering my fear of the ocean, I made the plunge and was mesmerized by what I saw under water.

It was impossible to describe colors of translucent fish darting about along with how to describe the engineering marvel of giant lemon sharks and reef sharks flying through water. The near silence under water provided me an extra level of insulation of a shark grazing inches away from head – its body and tail zipping through the water while pummeling me away.

Mantu appeared next to me and asked via hand gestures under the water if I needed help. I gave him the thumbs up sign, and he grabbed by GoPro camera as he made a quick dive toward the gentle giant and filmed it as it was swimming all around us. After getting back on the canoe, I realized I conquered three fears – swimming, sharks and swimming with sharks. I survived my birthday vacation. 

Private Island Picnic

As we all took turns sharing our close encounters with sharks, Mantu and Ray took us to a private motu or small island where we would have lunch. I would have my next surreal experience – being served red wine by Tahitians wearing loincloths.

An après shark indulgence is a traditional Tahitian picnic on a private motu or  island with feet splashing about.

An après shark indulgence is a traditional Tahitian picnic on a private motu or island with feet splashing about. The friendly hosts weave the palm leaves into a pineapple plate with traditional Tahitian fare perfectly complemented by French and California wines.

The dining experience certainly qualifies as a gourmet one with any Four Seasons resort but in the most special of settings.

The delectable meal was prepared by a Tahitian family. And by the pure genuine hospitality, one could tell it was shared with much affection for their guests and pride in their warm culture.

We feasted with Manu and Ray and their extended family on picnic tables in the lagoon.

Never before had I experienced small fish swimming between my toes while dinning. Yes, only in Bora Bora and with cousins named after fish.

Pampered in Paradise

With all the excitement, it was time for relaxation.

I think taking a nap would suffice but I’m one to always indulge in some massage time. The spa at the Four Seasons Bora Bora could easily be summed up by one word: Heavenly.

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The spa’s architecture resembles a cathedral with high-pitched roofs. It’s nestled between the calm inner lagoons and the energetic waves of the Pacific with large trees and colorful flowers surrounding the sanctuary of well-being and relaxation.

I opted for the traditional Polynesian massage inspired by the French Polynesians’ love for graceful and soothing dance-like motions called “taurumi.” This treatment along with the selection of vanilla and tiara natural oils quickly put me into a zen-like state.

A Culinary and Cultural Fiery Feast

A trip to the South Pacific would not be complete without the traditional luau.

I’ve always preferred the luau’s cultural performance over its food, I found the Four Season’s interpretation of luau cuisine to be just as delectable and delightful as its entertainment.

The appetizers feature traditional luau fare of fresh seafood, native root vegetables with an Asian twist. The main course consists of quality preparations of beef, pork, chicken and fish with savory side dishes.

Vegetarians also will delight in the bountiful assortment of meatless offerings. I marvel at the variety of fresh produce and protein that must be shipped in by boat or airplane that are expertly prepared per the high standards according to the Four Seasons brand.

Tahitian dancers entertained guests with traditional performance. And for those who indulged in dinner too much, they can shake off some calories with some hip-swirling routines to the sheer delight or utter bemusement of their loved ones.

The highlight of the night’s luau was the traditional Tahitian fire knife dance with high-fueled fire on both ends of the sharp knife.

I noted that all of the performers had burn marks on their arms and legs – likely earned from entertaining guests like myself. At the end of the high-octane performance, I joined the crowd in clapping until my hand hurt in appreciation of the team’s work.

Private Beach Villa

A private villa features all the comforts of top-end indoor amenities while maximizing outdoor activities -- all on a private stretch of a white-sand beach with unsurpassed views.

A private villa features all the comforts of top-end indoor amenities while maximizing outdoor activities — all on a private stretch of a white-sand beach with unsurpassed views.

I went back to what was even a more luxury accommodations than Bora Bora’s iconic overwater bungalow.

It was a 2,000-foot private villa with two master suites with enough entertainment space for the U.S. presidential family and their guests.

The tropical gardens surround the villa provided privacy yet offered sweeping views of the lagoon and the main island. It came complete with an outdoor spa, swimming pool and a lovely hammock on a private beach with soft powder white sand.

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Thanks, kind @fsborabora team, for the delectable apres jet ski snacks and the delightful visual treats! #boraborabirthday #borabora #tahiti #luxurytravel #luxuryvilla #tropical #paradise

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A Fond Farewell

I awoke from my slumber with the realization that it was my last day of my Bora Bora birthday. I spent the day absorbing every minute of the sights, scents and sounds of paradise. It also gave me one last chance to go snorkeling in the lagoon with my fish friends.

One rare fish – a gold puffer fish – had followed me around from one end of the lagoon to the next before. And it was trailing me again. As I got out of the water, it circled around and splashed water on my eyes as if it were waving its fond farewell to me.

I was trying to savor every last detail of the Bora Bora Four Seasons as we were checking out, and I noticed the sad faces on the others checking out.

Among the long faces were two newly wed couples – one straight and one gay – along with a multi-generational family of five.

We all agreed that it was the most magical place we’ve ever experienced and relished the opportunity to visit paradise again.

Perhaps it will be for Bora Bora Birthday No. 50 for me.

More Travel Tedbits

No travel article – even this multimedia feature – could capture the mesmerizing beauty and charm of Bora Bora. I’ve included audio podcasts and a video to help you experience this mystical island paradise. But you truly have to experience it for yourself.

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Shakira Wows Crowd At World Cup 2014 In Glittering Rio de Janeiro

SHAKIRAAfter a month of matches 79,000 fans crowed the world famous Maracana stadium and up to one billion watched worldwide as Germany took on Argentina in the the glittering World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro.

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A host of famous fans were in the stadium for the final game, including singer Rihanna, football legend Pele and supermodel Gisele. David Beckham and his three sons Brooklyn, Cruz and Romeo were also in attendance with the boys all wearing Argentina shirts.
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Prior to tonight’s kick off fans in the stadium were treated to a glittering closing ceremony including 400 samba dancers and musicians, pop star Shakira and supermodel Gisele.
The Columbian singer joined forces to perform Dare with Carlinhos Brown, while Brazilian singer Alexandre Pires, Carlos Santana and Wyclef Jean will provided a rendition of the World Cup official anthem, We Will Find A Way.

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Fossil Joan Rivers To Protesters: ‘Those furs that would have been lying in a cellar have gotten to go to the opera’

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Animal rights group PETA arrived unannounced at a promotional event for Joan Rivers new book, Diary of a Mad Diva, held at Barnes and Noble in Times Square yesterday holding graphic posters.

One protester shouted out: “Why do you choose to wear fur when there are so many cruelty-free alternatives?”

At first she tries to appease the impassioned demonstrators, telling them, ‘You’re absolutely right; I’m on your side.’ Then becoming angry as the protesters continue Rivers shouts: “Oh shut up, you don’t know what the f**k you’re talking about,” she yelled.

Rivers has had a long standing feud with PETA and other animal rights groups since 1997 when she was attacked by someone who threw red pain over her 18 year old sable and ran off.

“Why don’t they go do something important? Don’t go after middle-aged, affluent, white women, who are just minding their own business. If an animal had to die to keep me warm for l8 years, it’s ok.”


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Swimming Pigs of Bahamas Become YouTube Sensations

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Pigs can’t fly but prove they can swim in the sunny Bahamas!

The domesticated pigs and their piglets which have turned feral live on a small Caribbean island and have become YouTube stars thanks to vacationers filming the pigs swimming in the tropical surf.

Filmmaker Charles Allan Smith is now making a documentary ‘When Pigs Swim’ about the swimming pigs of Big Major Cay and the surrounding islands.

The project will feature breathtaking shots of the crystal clear waters of the region, interviews with experts on the pig’s history and, of course, the adorable pigs themselves.

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Premiere: Iggy Azalea ‘Fancy’ ft. Charli XCX

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Lea Michele Releases Debut Single ‘Cannonball’ From Her Forthcoming CD Louder

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Glee  actress Lea Michele revealed the album cover for her first solo CD Louder and also released her debut single ‘Cannonball today.

“Break down/ Break down/ Break down/ I was scared to death, I was losing my mind,” she sings on the opening lines of the single. “But now/ I think I found the light at the end of the tunnel.” Then the beat picks up and Lea is belting, “And now I will start living/ Today, today, today/ I close the door/ I got this new beginning/ And I will fly/ I’ll fly like a cannonball.”

The 27-year-old looks fierce on the cover, wearing a black sleeveless top as her tousled, brunette tresses are slightly blown to the side.Here is the complete track list for the album, which is available for preorder on Dec. 10:

“Cannonball”
“On My Way”
“Burn with You”
“Battlefield”
“You’re Mine”
“Thousand Needles”
“Louder”
“Cue the Rain”
“Don’t Let Go”
“Empty Handed”
“If You Say So”

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The Cruel Truth Of Chinese Factory Workers Abuse Of 50 Million Angora Rabbits Annually

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The abuse of animals worldwide is epidemic and the shocking footing of Chinese factory workers violently ripping the fur from angora rabbits screaming in agony is one of the most egregious I have seen.

British retailers Asos, Marks and Spencer, Next and H&H have banned any products made with angora although I as of the writing of this article I was informed by a reader that Marks and Spencer is still selling an angora jumper on their online site.

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The announcement follows the release of video footage that shows workers in Chinese factories violently ripping the fur from the bodies of screaming rabbits. 

PETA released a gut-wrenching video into the angora industry in China, which is responsible for 90 per cent of the world’s supply of angora wool.

Investigators went to ten different angora farms and witnessed,  appalling abuse of animals at all ten locations. At half of the farms a particularly barbaric form of live plucking is used to remove the fur.

Terrified rabbits, screaming with fear, are stretched  on wooden boards and held by the neck while the soft fur is plucked by hand — though scalped might be a more appropriate term. The animals fur is pulled from the follicles until only raw, pink skin remains.

In other scenes from PETA’s undercover video, the defenseless rabbits are tethered with rope by the front and back legs while they are sheared by men with metal scissors, who pay little attention to the cuts they are inflicting on the animals. 

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This process is repeated every three months for the two to three years of the animal’s life.

‘After their fur is yanked out, the gentle, sensitive rabbits are left in shock, able only to lie motionless inside their tiny, filthy cages,’ says PETA spokesman Ben Williamson. 

 The angora rabbits are alive throughout the plucking and are kept for several years, plucked every few months, before their throats are slit.

Angora breeders in Britain say the only way to not cause harm to a rabbit is to gently remove loosened hair which takes up to two weeks not minutes the Chinese factory workers take to rip hunks of fur from the terrified animals.

The rabbits are kept in horrible conditions, filthy cages, surrounded by their own waste and little protection from the elements.

After several years of this miserable existence and if they survive the brutal conditions the rabbits are killed by having their necks broken or have their throats slit and sold to local markets. 

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There are thought to be more than 50 million rabbits on angora farms in China. 

Argentina, Chile, the Czech Republic and Hungary also produce the bulk of the remaining 10 per cent of the worlds angora wool supply.

 China has consistently had one of the worst records when it comes to factory farming and animal cruelty especially when it comes to the fashion industry.

“As long as greed is stronger than compassion, there will always be suffering.” -Rusty Eric

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Lady Gaga Sits Down With CBC’s Wendy Mesley To Discuss Fame, Her Little Monsters & Whats Next

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Exploring Costa Rica’s Wildlife and Eco-Tourism at Parador Resort Hotel

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My adventure to a lush tropical jungle with white-sand beaches and brimming wildlife started with a tweet.

The tweet came from the Parador Resort and Spa, a luxury travel destination on the Pacific coast of central Costa Rica. The tweet beckoned me for a visit to see the humpback whales, sea turtles and toucans — three of my favorite creatures. It would end with the hashtag #PuraVida — Costa Rica’s national motto that’s akin to “hang loose” or “aloha.”

A month or so later, I was on a 6-hour flight from Los Angeles International Airport to the tropical paradise of Costa Rica, a destination that I had heard rave reviews from friends and colleagues.

They told me of splendid vacations in the most peaceful nation in all of Latin America with the longest-spanning democracy from the 1950s.

After a brief layover in San Salvador, I arrived Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose at 10:30 p.m. with a driver from the hotel waiting to transport me to the Parador.

He offered citrus-scented cold white towels that set the perfect mood for beginning of my six-day stay in Costa Rica.

A Passenger of the Parador

Often there’s nothing to really see when riding in the dark. But the 2.5-hour drive from San Jose to the Parador was filled with magical moments.

Under the soft glow of the moon and in between bursts of rain showers, I spotted lush jungles hugging the edge of beaches. Equally mesmerizing were the fog and wispy low clouds suspended from mountain tops while speckles of lightning danced from a distance.

And as to put an exclamation point on my ride from the airport, heavy rain poured when we arrived at Quepos, the once-sleepy fishing village turned into the tourism center for the region and just two miles from my resort destination.

From there, it was all literally uphill. In the steady warm rain, we snaked up the mountain filled with restaurants, tour guide kiosks, boutique hotels and other small businesses catering to tourists.

On the end of the road, I grew in anticipation as we entered the stately gates of the Parador. In the still of the night only interrupted by sprinkles of warm rain, we were the only souls except for the hotel concierge who warmly greeted us as we checked me. “Welcome to the Parador,” Mr. Ted. “We have been waiting for your arrival.”

We were then whisked away with suite cases via golf cart on a manicured pathway lined with marble statues and fountains to the newest part of the Parador perched on top a hill with a third floor room that seem to tower much higher.

After almost inhaling a light meal the hotel prepared knowing we were arriving late, I immediately fell into a slumber – anxiously awaiting the vistas of the morning light.

Morning Delight

After a full day and night of travel, my patience was rewarded.

Set on a peninsula, my vacation home commanded a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean with a tropical rain forest jungle in the foreground. Two small islands approximately 300 yards away provided a lush green focal point to the expansive Pacific Ocean.

Besides boasting an ocean as a backyard, the Parador has a neighbor to the side – the Manuel Antonio National Park, one of Costa Rica’s crowning jewels. Ocean and wildlife adventures must wait as my hunger pangs called me to breakfast.

The hotel’s breakfast spread is equally expansive as the its tropical grounds. There are more than 30 choices of American, European and Costa Rican dishes for the complimentary breakfast with thousands of combinations to satisfy the most discerning palates.

I settled for my ultimate comfort breakfast – soft-scrambled eggs and flaky pastries with a twist of the tropics with papaya, mango and pineapple and a cold glass of watermelon juice.

Omlette woman

After hearing rave reviews from other guests about the made-to-order omelet, French toast and Belgian waffles, I had to come back to visit the “omelet lady,” one of the longest working members of the Parador team with a genuine smile that welcomed me every morning in Costa Rica.

Marjorie Godinez, 46, prides herself on starting the day just right for all of her guests with a bright smile and a satisfying breakfast — and she’s done it well for the past 17 years.

My veggie omelet was perfect and — I dare say — even better than my Mom’s version. The vegetables were still crispy and suspended in the tender egg with spectacles of spices. She definitely perfected the dish during her years at the hotel.

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Sustaining Perfection

After breakfast, we set out to discover more about the internationally recognized work of the hotel’s sustainability program. The greenhouse and composting program offered one of many major aspects of the property’s commitment to the environment.

In a meticulous procedure, the grandfather-grandson team of Miguel Mora, 67, and Eduardo Solano, 19, were preparing compost from the hotel kitchen’s unused fruit and vegetable peels into organic soil used to grow microgreens of radishes, basil, carrots and other vegetables and herbs.

The attention to detail during this procedure even calls for around-the-clock music to be played for the delicate plants to thrive. I was a bit skeptical at first but became a believer after tasting the different microgreens.

The delicate microgreens of radishes and carrots packed a big burst of flavor. It was refreshing yet so full of flavor — and without having to consume the entire vegetable. I was already looking forward to dinner with these pampered plants.

Getting Wild About Wildlife

What I thought was just a tour of the composting grounds soon gave way to the pure delight of my first up-close encounter with wildlife.

The previous night’s rain provided fresh water for the white-faced monkeys on top of the date trees above the greenhouse. It helped that the rain made the date shells softer for these beautiful creatures.

A group of white-face monkeys are intrigued about the humans below them.

A group of white-faced monkeys are intrigued about the humans below them.

My heart raced seeing these cute monkeys drinking water from the tree tops and feasting on the dates — and we didn’t mind the shells falling down upon us.

In all, I spotted more than 15 monkeys without having to move an inch. Some were gingerly eating the dates while others were sleeping perched on top of the swaying branches. I even saw a mother carrying a baby on her back.

Just walking up the steps back to the hotel, I immediately felt the intimacy of nature and wildlife.

I spotted lizards darting across the paths, saw large colorful iguanas lying in the sun, witnessed dozens of different birds darting from tree to tree and felt colorful humming birds whizzing by.

During the light lunch, I enjoyed more of the my newfound favorite drink – watermelon juice — and soaked up the panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean above the infinity pool with adults enjoying the swim-up bar and children frolicking next to the life-like crocodile in the shallow area.

Guests from honeymooning couples and families with young children to hip singles and mature couples were equally enjoying the luxury ambiance and genuine warm hospitality of the Parador team.

I was glad our first day’s schedule was light in order to recover from the day’s travels. But the travel kiosk next to the pool offered all types of excursions and adventures that I knew I couldn’t pass up.

First on List is Bliss

The first vacation task on my list was a full-body massage later that evening. I selfishly reasoned it would help complete my full day of relaxation before the planned active excursions.

Hotel General Manager Jorge Rodriguez recommended that I arrive early to relax at the resort’s Pacifica Spa, a two-level Mediterranean villa surrounded by tropical rain forest.

All of the luxury spas I’ve been to have a music track that contains sounds of nature, but this spa didn’t need it. It already comes with the natural sounds of nature from the jungle just steps away. I heard birds and crickets chirping nearby with the rustling of the trees swaying away with the breeze.

It didn’t take me long to enter my state of personal relaxation after being welcomed with a fresh tropical drink. Soon I soaked up the ambiance in the refreshing pool and hot Jacuzzi. The spa was beautifully lit with flickering candles and appointed with freshly cut flowers.

With dozens of spa treatment options all with natural ointments, I opted for an anti-stress Swedish-style massage with an emphasis on my aching shoulders and stiff neck from sitting on the plane for hours. I’m not sure if it was the sounds of nature or my therapist’s magic hands, I found myself in the ultimate state of bliss in the tropical haven.

After the treatment, the therapist provided a refreshing smoothie and slices of tropical fruit for me to enjoy as I continued to relax before dinner.

Though it was difficult leave, I had dinner that included a culinary treasure of choices from gourmet offerings to fresh authentic sushi and Costa Rican traditional fare.

I ordered the grilled mahimahi with microgreens of radishes freshly pampered in the greenhouse just hours before. The delectable dish was served on a bed of silky mashed potatoes and tender field greens.

The chef’s special use of farm-to-table dishes with the organic microgreens that I saw earlier in the morning made for an appropriate end to my first day in tropical paradise.

On Top of the World

zipline rapple

In addition to experiencing wildlife, you can’t come to Costa Rica without ziplining in the canopy forest. Conquering my deathly fear of heights for the sake of capturing memories, I psyched myself up for the high-flying adventure invented by biologists in Costa Rica to go from tree to tree to study the health of the forest.

After getting picked up at the Parador from the Canopy Safari tour bus, our daring group of eight that consisted of a young family from Detroit, Mich. and a couple of Tucson, Ariz. took a 30-minute ride through groves of palm trees and farm fields dotted with humble homes all with satellite dishes. We crossed through several rivers toward the towering mountains filled with lush trees.

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The ziplining adventure began with a fascinating experience of a butterfly garden and close-up experience with reptiles and snakes.

After some important safety information, we suited up knowing that we had just literally signed our rights away with various disclosure and legal forms.

The first of 10 zip lines was meant to be the bunny hill of zip line ski resorts, but it scared me nonetheless. Not to worry … just nine more zip lines to go along two rappel points, one Tarzan swing and one swing bridge – all hundreds of feet above the ground.

As we hiked higher and deeper into the tropical rain forest, it began to rain. By then, we had all bonded with each other with our professional but friendly tour guides.

As we got higher onto the giant trees, zipping from tree platform to the next, I was surprised how peaceful I felt, especially with the rain pouring down upon us.

We were the only humans around. And the sight of all us on those majestic trees towering above the river with rain falling upon was a magical moment that I will always treasure. I was beginning to understand the famous Costa Rican phrase of “pura vida” or pure life.

Creatures of the Night

If the daytime adventures were not enough, the Parador offers a unique nighttime tour of its 12-acre wildlife property called “Mysteries of the Night.”

We met with one of Costa Rica’s premier naturalist, Elias Mora, who led us on a private tour of the grounds the resort. Armed with a flashlight, we quickly encountered various bats but there was one bat making circles around us.

Elias explained that the bat’s circular motion was positioning the mosquitoes to swarm closer to each other so the bats could efficiently consume them as meals.

At first, the sound of the bat was alarming and touched off nightmares of vampires, but Elias assured me they were harmless even if they are called vampire bats. Several minutes later, we saw other species of bats hanging upside down on trees.

And it didn’t take us long to encounter one of the most charming critters unique to Costa Rica. They were the iconic red-eye frogs right in front of my own eyes – and much smaller in person than from the covers of the National Geographic Magazine and travel guidebooks that feature them.

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I had the chance gently hold them after they landed on the side of Elias’ face, which made for a great tattoo inspiration.

Seeing these colorful gentle creatures brought me more close to nature than I could have ever imagined. Throughout the night, we also saw other frogs and toads that were larger. But the red-eye frogs will always have a special place in my heart.

I never imagined seeing sloths on the night tour, but we immediately spotted a two-toed sloth that was quite active. The slow furry creature had long course hair and was moving more rapidly from tree to tree than I thought possible.

Elias shared with us that the two-toed sloth was nocturnal while its three-toed cousin is active in the day and sleeps at night.

Before his explanation ended, we saw a three-toed sloth wrapped around a tree near the cliff above the ocean sleeping peacefully – so rudely interrupted by our flashlights and our curiosity.

The night tour of wildlife ended with the same refreshing cold towels scented with limes that became an expected luxury during our stay at the Parador. We enjoyed fresh fruit while chatting with Elias under the moonlight sky.

Knowing the tour of wildlife would begin again at daylight with the world-famous Manuel Antonio National Park, we said goodnight and headed to another delicious meal at one of the three restaurants at the Parador.

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Creatures of the Day

I got a tip that Elias ranks among the best naturalist in Costa Rica. But seeing him in action spotting creatures in the night and hearing his expertise and passion about living creates made me feel so fortunate to have him lead me through the country’s smallest but bio-diverse dense national parks.

Within the gates of Manual Antonio National Park, Elias explains to us that the conservation area was created as a last-ditch legislative effort to preserve one of Costa Rica’s most bio-diverse areas from commercial and residential development. I was surprised by the crowds, but then noticed it was a Sunday and there were mostly local families making their way to enjoy to one of the park’s four pristine beaches.

Elias Mora, top right, shares his gift for spotting wildlife, winning legions of fans in awe of his knowledge and passion for the animals of his homeland.

Elias Mora, top right, shares his gift for spotting wildlife, winning legions of fans in awe of his knowledge and passion for the animals of his homeland.

Elias says it’s still a mystery as to the park’s name, but to me it’s no surprise why the national government and its people would want to protect and preserve this special land for posterity.

It boasts 109 mammal and 139 birdlife species along with colorful coral reefs. I immediately was in awe of its sweeping lush landscape with majestic mountains rolling down to the white-sanded beaches.

Armed with a telescope and his intimate knowledge of almost every square foot of the national park, Elias immediately spotted a rare iguana in the tree top.

What makes him amazing is that he first saw the creature with his naked eye, then set up the telescope for our closer-viewing pleasure.

He did that so many times during the four-hour tour that I jokingly told him that I suspected that his team was placing wildlife – monkeys, sloths, birds, lizards and insects – in their spots just for us.

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In the middle of the trek through Manual Antonio, the Parador team once again delighted us with those wonderfully scented cold white towels, placed beach towels on the gorgeous beach, gave us cold drinks and provided us with a refreshing treat.

After playing in the warm water and snapping photos of the crescent-shaped beach, it was time to go through more lush forest for more Elias animal magic tricks and experience even more picture-perfect beaches and landscape.

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We ended our charming trip to the national park with cold coconut juice straight from the coconut and witnessed from just a foot way an elusive white-face mother monkey caring her sleeping baby.

Coming Back to Luxury

After a fun-filled day, it was wonderful to come back to our luxury rooms decorated with both function and contemporary design in mind.

The room featured one of the most comfortable beds I’ve slept on. The high-thread count sheets provided an extra layer of luxury.

The walk-in shower allowed me to fully soak in the natural light and strong water flow. The large bathroom also had an oversized tub, double sinks and an enclosed toilet.

I also found the closet to be quite roomy with plenty of room for clothes. The room also had two office nooks ideal for writing or reading as well as a dinning table, entertainment area with a large screen LCD TV, a large lounge sofa and comfortable chairs and tables areas. The room also had plenty of electric outlets to fully charge modern travelers’ tech gadgets and free Wi-Fi to keep connected with loved ones and business associates. In fact, the Wi-Fi was available in practically all of the public spaces near the hotel.

My favorite feature was the room’s outdoor balcony area overlooking the private pool, the jungle and Pacific Ocean. I spent quality moments with time and nature passing by.

The outdoor spa is strategically located on the covered balcony to provide privacy while optimizing the view.

Early one evening, I spent almost an hour in the hot Jacuzzi watching a rainstorm dance upon the red-tiled roof tops, the green shrubbery, the azure pool and the expansive Pacific Ocean. That moment was truly heaven on earth.

Last-Minute Discoveries

The last full day of my trip to Parador Paradise was the discovery of a restaurant bar just steps away from my room. Because of the angle of the area and the lush vegetation, I didn’t even know this hideaway existed until one of the staff members pointed it out.

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I snacked on a salad and quenched my thirst with a mango smoothy. It was like was having lunch on top of the trees. The panoramic view from the area was that breathtaking.

The last excursion of my trip to Costa Rica was a catamaran boat tour that included seeing humpback whales and playful dolphins from a distant, stunning views of the majestic sea cliff with the Parador and national park in the midst of the rain as well as the two small islands next to the coastline.

Most of the guests also dove into an intimate cove for a closer view of the colorful sealife. But the fear of jellyfish stings and not knowing how to swim kept me firmly planted on the 60-foot boat. As the skies cleared way, my reward for staying dry was seeing a brilliant double rainbow framing the mountains.

The next morning, I awoke to the grim reality that my Parador Paradise would be over in a few hours. I would have to bid farewell to Costa Rica’s premier eco-luxury resort, especially the warm smiles of its helpful and friendly staff.

The trip to Central America helped me conquer my fear of heights and fulfilled the dream of at least seeing one of the three things I longed most. Humpback whale, check.

The unchecked items give me a good excuse to come back to Costa Rica to see the sea turtles and the toucans and discover more about what “pura vida” means — the good life in the tropical paradise at the Parador.

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