Here Is Six Beautiful But Lesser Known National Wonders

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

wever, you’re only familiar with some of the most famous ones. Here are six beautiful and lesser-known natural wonders to check out.

Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland

Credit: DrimaFilm/Shutterstock

Have you ever seen 40,000 interlocking basalt columns? If you visit Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, you can. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located along the Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland. The basalt columns, which are relics from a volcanic age, lead from the hills to the ocean. At the visitor’s center, you can learn more about the cherished tale behind this natural wonder — one involving Irish and Scottish giants who got in a fight. The Irish giant attempted to build a path to Scotland, but the Scottish giant ripped it up.

Grand Prismatic Springs, Yellowstone, Wyoming

Grand Prismatic Springs, Yellowstone, Wyoming

Credit: Wisanu Boonrawd/Shutterstock

Many people go to Yellowstone to see Old Faithful, the geyser that regularly erupts into the air. But do you know about Grand Prismatic Spring? Also in Yellowstone, this geyser and hot spring is the biggest hot spring in the U.S. and the third biggest hot spring in the world. It’s located in the Midway Geyser Basin. The bright colors make this hot spring popular among photographers. Grand Prismatic is deeper than a 10-story building and larger than a football field.

Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy

Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy

Credit: sibromar/Shutterstock

The Blue Grotto is a magical sea cave located near the island of Capri; thanks to the reflection of the sunlight, the entire cave is a vibrant shade of blue. You can visit Capri and go into the cave by boat. It’s a surreal, almost otherworldly experience and should definitely be on your bucket list. Be aware, though, that you may not be able to plan in advance — each morning, the skippers go to the mouth of the cave and decide whether it’s safe to enter that day.

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Credit: zrfphoto/iStock

Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the world, and Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is the place to go to see it. Over 400 miles of the cave system have been explored and you can take guided tours to learn about the geology and history of the caves. Stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone deposits and more line the interior. You can also camp in Mammoth Cave National Park and enjoy other surface activities such as hiking and horseback riding.

Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona/Utah

Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona/Utah

Credit: Johnny Adolphson/Shutterstock

The Paria Canyon Wilderness area stretches over 112,500 acres in Arizona and Utah. The Vermilion Cliffs have a Navajo sandstone face and lots of slot canyon hiking opportunities, plus deer and desert bighorn sheep. If you like alone time in nature, Paria Canyon is a gorgeous way to indulge in some. Check out Coyote Buttes, too; this is an area of amazing scenery where the colors and textures of the rock formations change in different types of weather.

Pulpit (Preikestolen) Rock, Norway

Pulpit (Preikestolen) Rock, Norway

Credit: Supreecha Samansukumal/Shutterstock

Preikestolen is a jaw-dropping, 1982-foot-tall cliff in the Rogaland area of Norway. Tucked in the Scandinavian Mountains, the cliff has a flat top that’s about 82 feet by 82 feet. Many tourists enjoy hiking Preikestolen, also called Pulpit Rock, but it’s not for the faint of heart. According to VisitNorway, the 3.7-mile hike takes four hours and ascends 1,148 feet. You can also hike during the night and watch the sunrise from the top of Pulpit Rock. Finally, if standing on top of the cliff doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, many companies offer sightseeing tours that take you out on the fjord, where you can view Preikestolen via boat.

Paradise Papers: Invest NI and the Mauritian giveaway

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Paradise Papers: Invest NI and the Mauritian giveaway

Paradise Papers graphic

A number of business owners in Northern Ireland have been involved in aggressive tax avoidance schemes, an investigation by the BBC’s Nolan Show has revealed.

Sam McCrea MBE and his wife, Julienne, are owners of Springfarm Architectural Mouldings Ltd (SAM Mouldings) in Antrim.

The couple was involved in a Mauritian tax avoidance scheme.

The McCreas have said they have fully complied with their tax obligations.

Over a quarter of the people signed up to that scheme were from NI.

Julienne McCrea and her husband, Sam McCrea MBE, are owners of Springfarm Architectural Mouldings Ltd in Antrim
Image captionJulienne McCrea and her husband, Sam McCrea MBE, are owners of Springfarm Architectural Mouldings Ltd in Antrim

The Paradise Papers are a huge batch of leaked documents mostly from offshore law firm Appleby, along with corporate registries in 19 tax jurisdictions, which reveal the financial dealings of politicians, celebrities, corporate giants and business leaders.

The 13.4 million documents were passed to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The Nolan Show team worked alongside colleagues in BBC Panorama, the Guardian, and nearly 100 media organizations worldwide.

Multi-million pound property given away

In 2000, SAM Mouldings bought land from Stormont’s Department of Enterprise for £280,000. The company built their business on the site. By 2014, the property, with its factory and offices, was valued on its balance sheet at £4m.

But the following year, SAM Mouldings gave the multi-million pound property away for just one pound to what the company described as an ‘unconnected third party’. The beneficiary was a company in Mauritius.

Documents seen by the Nolan Show reveal that the McCreas had control of the Mauritian company – they had given the multi-million-pound property to themselves in all but name. The couple was listed as ‘investment advisors’ to the company – but the leaked files suggest they were doing much more than just advising.

At one stage, Sam McCrea wrote to the company in Mauritius questioning why a payment was made without his or his wife’s permission.

Email from Sam McCrea

He asked how the company could make any payments without the approval of the IA or ‘investment advisor’ – meaning either himself or his wife Julienne.

In other documents, Sam McCrea advises that the Mauritian company buys shares from himself.

Invest NI

Since 2008, SAM Mouldings has received over £431,000 in financial assistance from Invest NI – who is a preferential shareholder in the company.

After the Antrim property SAM Mouldings operated from was given to the McCreas’ company in Mauritius, SAM took on a £270,000 annual rent bill. This rent was sent through various intermediaries – and ended up in the McCreas’ Mauritian company – where the income tax rate is just 3%.

This tax avoidance mechanism was promoted by the McCreas’ tax advisors who set up the Mauritian scheme as a form of ‘rent factoring’ – that’s where in exchange for a lump sum, a company diverts future rents from property to a financier.

Under this system, SAM Mouldings paid £270,000 annual rent to the Mauritian firm but Sam McCrea received a £200,000 loan from the firm. As a loan, it was not liable for tax.

Invest NI told the BBC in a statement that as part of their project monitoring and approval procedures of SAM Mouldings Ltd they “were aware of the property transfer in question and this was taken into consideration when approving their most recent project.”

“SAM Mouldings has continued to grow in terms of both exports and employment targets and is meeting the agreed repayment schedule for the preference shares.

Paradise Papers explainer box

“A company’s tax planning is a matter between it and HMRC. If it transpires that information provided to us as part of our approval process has been misleading and would have resulted in a different decision being made, we will review the specific case, as would be normal practice.

When asked about their involvement in tax avoidance schemes, the McCreas’ lawyers said their clients “are not going to enter into a course of correspondence concerning this sensitive and confidential funding arrangements of their business, with the BBC”.

They added: “Our clients have fully complied with their obligations to HMRC, specifically with regard to the Mauritian companies.

They also said, “there will be no loss to the UK Exchequer as a result of the Mauritian companies”.

They said the allegations were “untrue, defamatory and are particularly unpleasant slurs on two people who have brought prosperity and employment to the Antrim area”, adding “Mr. McCrea holds a public honor for his services to business and he guards his reputation carefully”.

The Nolan Show will be focusing on stories from the Paradise Papers across the week.

Paradise Papers: Full coverage; follow reaction on Twitter using #ParadisePapers; in the BBC News app, follow the tag “Paradise Papers”

Watch Panorama or listen back to the Nolan show on the BBC iPlayer (UK viewers only)

Prime Minister May Forced To Form New Government With Help From DUP Party

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

British Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to form a government that will provide “certainty” and guide the country through Brexit, just hours after voters delivered her party a huge blow at the polls.

May, who visited Buckingham Palace to meet with Queen Elizabeth II Friday, said she would work in particular with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which she described as her “friends and allies”

UK Election 2017 results

326 Seats needed for majorityData:PA
Party Seats Change
Conservative 318 -12
Labour 261 +31
Scottish National Party 35 -19
Other 35
649/650 Seats declared*Scotland
Promising to move towards a Brexit deal, enabling Britain to exit the European Union, May said the new government would “be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.”
Brexit talks — due to start in 10 day’s time — may be delayed and the Prime Minister’s personal authority undermined by the shock result, which left the Conservatives short of a working majority by just eight seats.
It’s an embarrassing turn for May who called the snap election three years earlier than required by law, convinced by opinion polls that seemed to place her in a strong position.
In a night of high drama across the UK, her party shed seats to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, which surpassed expectations.

‘Catastrophic’ results

For May, who called the snap election in April, the failure to gain a large majority already has critics sniping.
George Osborne, the former finance minister who stepped down at the election, told ITV that the results were “catastrophic” for his party. Anna Soubry, a Conservative MP, said May would have to consider her position.
Meawhile, Corbyn said the early results showed May had lost her mandate and called for her to resign.
“People have said they have had quite enough of austerity politics,” he said, repeating his campaign promises to push for better funding for health and education.

Upsets elsewhere

After the result was declared in her constituency of Maidenhead, May gave a faltering speech. “At this time more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability,” she said, suggesting she would attempt to form a government even if her party loses its majority.
There were upsets elsewhere in the UK: In Scotland. the Scottish National Party was on course for significant losses. The former leader, Alex Salmond, lost his seat, as the Conservative Party made some rare gains in Scotland.

Theresa May: What you need to know

Theresa May: What you need to know
The anti-Brexit Liberal Democrat Party did not make its hoped-for inroads. Former leader Nick Clegg, a former Deputy Prime Minister, lost his Sheffield Hallam seat. Tim Farron, the current leader, retained his seat with only a narrow majority.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd, one of May’s closest allies, barely held onto her seat of Hastings and Rye, after a recount put her just over 300 votes ahead of the Labour candidate.
May experienced a gradual slide during the campaign period, in which a wide gap between the Conservatives and Labour narrowed.
Predictions of Conservative success became more modest as the party’s campaign faltered following a series of missteps.
May was criticized for making a number of U-turns on social welfare and she came under fire for a controversial proposal on who should pay for the cost of care for the elderly, a policy that became known as the “dementia tax.”
Her opponents also took issue with her refusal to take part in a televised debate with other party leaders.
The Prime Minister called what she thought would be a Brexit-focused election, but the issue was quickly overshadowed by security as two deadly terror attacks, in Manchester and London, struck during the campaign period.
The attacks only put May under more scrutiny for national security decisions she made during her tenure as Home Secretary, a role she held for six years in the government of her predecessor, David Cameron.
The attacks triggered a heated debate on whether the police are well-enough resourced to deal with terror threats. Police numbers across the UK were cut by 20,000 under May’s watch as Home Secretary.

Leaders Of England, Scotland, Whales And Northern Ireland Meet To Discuss Brexit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

UK nations hold crucial Brexit talks

THE leaders of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales met British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday to discuss what part the three nations will play in the Brexit process, a thorny issue that risks triggering a constitutional crisis.

May proposes setting up a new committee to give the three devolved governments, which have varying degrees of autonomy from London, a formal avenue to express views on how Britain’s future relationship with the European Union should work.

“The country is facing a negotiation of tremendous importance and it is imperative that the devolved administrations play their part in making it work,” May said in a statement released before the meeting.

At stake is the three-century union between England, where a majority voted to leave the EU, and Scotland, where a majority voted to stay.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday she was seeking “meaningful input” into the decision-making structure and wants each of the United Kingdom’s four assemblies to get a vote on the proposed negotiating package.

Sturgeon has said her government is preparing for all possibilities, including independence from the UK, after Britain leaves the EU.

In Northern Ireland, which also voted to keep EU membership, there are fears that Brexit could undermine a 1998 peace deal and reinstate a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

Experts have warned of the risk of a constitutional crisis if May does not take into account the position of each of the UK’s four nations when conducting talks on the terms of Brexit.

“Imposing a Brexit settlement in the face of devolved opposition (while legally possible) would be a reckless strategy,” said the Institute for Government, an independent think-tank.

“Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland cannot be treated like any other lobby or interest group. Equally, the devolved governments will have to accept that Westminster will have the final say,” it said in a report.

The new committee proposed by May would be chaired by Brexit minister David Davis and include representatives from the three devolved governments. May proposes that it should meet by the end of November and at least once more before Christmas.

Sturgeon has said Scotland wants to keep as many of the advantages of membership of the EU’s single market as it can and is looking for a bespoke deal to do so.

King Obama Telling The British People “How It Is” (I don’t think the British people like getting lectured)

THIS IS A COPY POST FROM THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH NEWS PAPER OF APRIL 24th

(This IS A Re-post From Two Months Ago, I Said Then That King Obama Should Have Kept His Royal Mouth Shut. The Vote Results Proved Me Correct.)

Brexit: Furious reaction following Barack Obama’s intervention

(By Shaun Connolly, Press Association Political Correspondent)

PUBLISHED 24/04/2016

Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama
Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama

US president Barack Obama has launched a fresh intervention into the Brexit battle, warning the UK would have to wait up to a decade for a trade deal with America if it quits the EU.

Unbowed by a furious backlash from the Leave camp against his “interference” in British affairs during his visit to London, Mr Obama reinforced his stark statement that the UK would be at “the back of the queue” for a beneficial economic arrangement if it breaks away from Brussels.

“My simple point is that it’s hard to negotiate trade deals. It takes a long time, and the point is that the UK would not be able to negotiate something with the United States faster than the EU.

“We wouldn’t abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade deal with our largest trading partner, the European market, but rather it could be five years from now, ten years from now, before we were able to actually get something done,” Mr Obama told the BBC.

Denying that he was a “lame duck” president as prominent Leave figures have alleged, Mr Obama delivered a direct slap-down to the Brexit camp who had claimed the UK could cut a speedy deal with the US.

“The point I was simply making was that for those who suggested that, you know, if we could just not be entangled with the Europeans, our special relationship is going to mean that we can just cut the line and just get a quick deal with the United States, and it will be a lot more efficient, and that’s not how we think about it.

“I don’t think that’s how the next administration will think about it, because our preference would be to work with this large bloc of countries,” Mr Obama said.

The president made it clear he believed it would be damaging for the British economy to quit the EU.

“If I am a business person or a worker in Britain, and I’m looking at the fact that I already have access seamlessly with a massive market, one of the wealthiest markets in the world, that accounts for 44% of my exports, the idea that I’m going to be in a better position to export and trade by being outside of that market and not being in the room setting the rules and standards by which trade takes place, I think is erroneous,” Mr Obama said.

The president also warned that the security of the West could be weakened by a British withdrawal which took it out of communications between Brussels and Washington.

“I think we will together be less effective if we’re not in those forums, than we are currently, where we’ve got this great ally who engages in unmatched co-operation, with us in the room negotiating.

“You know, things as simple as making sure that passenger lists are shared, it took a lot of years for us to be able to negotiate that with the European Parliament and EU, and our strongest advocate for getting that done was the UK, and it was extremely helpful.

“What we do believe is that the United Kingdom will have less influence in Europe and as a consequence, less influence globally, and since we rely heavily on the UK as a partner globally on a whole range of issues, we’d like you to have more influence. We’d like you to be at the table, helping to influence other countries who may not oftentimes see things as clearly from our perspective as our British partners do,” Mr Obama said.

Mr Obama rowed back from criticism that Prime Minister David Cameron became “distracted” after the military action in Libya as the country slipped into turmoil.

“Well, I think that we were all distracted. You know, that portion of my comments, I’m sure got attention here. What maybe got less attention was my statement that one of my regrets is not fully anticipating the degree of concentration of focus that would be required after the campaign to make sure that Gaddafi wasn’t killing his own people in Libya,” Mr Obama said.

 

Obama issues stark trade warning against Brexit

Boris Johnson suggests ‘part-Kenyan’ Obama may have an ‘ancestral dislike’ of Britain

 

King Obama Telling The British People “How It Is”

THIS IS A COPY POST FROM THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH NEWS PAPER OF APRIL 24th,

Brexit: Furious reaction following Barack Obama’s intervention

By Shaun Connolly, Press Association Political Correspondent

PUBLISHED 24/04/2016

Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama
Prime Minister David Cameron greets US president Barack Obama

US president Barack Obama has launched a fresh intervention into the Brexit battle, warning the UK would have to wait up to a decade for a trade deal with America if it quits the EU.

Unbowed by a furious backlash from the Leave camp against his “interference” in British affairs during his visit to London, Mr Obama reinforced his stark statement that the UK would be at “the back of the queue” for a beneficial economic arrangement if it breaks away from Brussels.

“My simple point is that it’s hard to negotiate trade deals. It takes a long time, and the point is that the UK would not be able to negotiate something with the United States faster than the EU.

“We wouldn’t abandon our efforts to negotiate a trade deal with our largest trading partner, the European market, but rather it could be five years from now, ten years from now, before we were able to actually get something done,” Mr Obama told the BBC.

Denying that he was a “lame duck” president as prominent Leave figures have alleged, Mr Obama delivered a direct slap-down to the Brexit camp who had claimed the UK could cut a speedy deal with the US.

“The point I was simply making was that for those who suggested that, you know, if we could just not be entangled with the Europeans, our special relationship is going to mean that we can just cut the line and just get a quick deal with the United States, and it will be a lot more efficient, and that’s not how we think about it.

“I don’t think that’s how the next administration will think about it, because our preference would be to work with this large bloc of countries,” Mr Obama said.

The president made it clear he believed it would be damaging for the British economy to quit the EU.

“If I am a business person or a worker in Britain, and I’m looking at the fact that I already have access seamlessly with a massive market, one of the wealthiest markets in the world, that accounts for 44% of my exports, the idea that I’m going to be in a better position to export and trade by being outside of that market and not being in the room setting the rules and standards by which trade takes place, I think is erroneous,” Mr Obama said.

The president also warned that the security of the West could be weakened by a British withdrawal which took it out of communications between Brussels and Washington.

“I think we will together be less effective if we’re not in those forums, than we are currently, where we’ve got this great ally who engages in unmatched co-operation, with us in the room negotiating.

“You know, things as simple as making sure that passenger lists are shared, it took a lot of years for us to be able to negotiate that with the European Parliament and EU, and our strongest advocate for getting that done was the UK, and it was extremely helpful.

“What we do believe is that the United Kingdom will have less influence in Europe and as a consequence, less influence globally, and since we rely heavily on the UK as a partner globally on a whole range of issues, we’d like you to have more influence. We’d like you to be at the table, helping to influence other countries who may not oftentimes see things as clearly from our perspective as our British partners do,” Mr Obama said.

Mr Obama rowed back from criticism that Prime Minister David Cameron became “distracted” after the military action in Libya as the country slipped into turmoil.

“Well, I think that we were all distracted. You know, that portion of my comments, I’m sure got attention here. What maybe got less attention was my statement that one of my regrets is not fully anticipating the degree of concentration of focus that would be required after the campaign to make sure that Gaddafi wasn’t killing his own people in Libya,” Mr Obama said.

The president heaped praise on his wife Michelle, saying: “I cannot separate anything that I’ve achieved from the partnership that I’ve had with that remarkable woman. So I could not be prouder of her, and I think it’s fair to say that anything good that I’ve done, she gets a shared billing.”

Obama issues stark trade warning against Brexit

File photo dated 23/02/16 of Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who has come under fire over his attack on the "part-Kenyan" president Barack Obama. PA

Boris Johnson suggests ‘part-Kenyan’ Obama may have an ‘ancestral dislike’ of Britain