Structured Settlement Quotes

We recently had to make the decision to get my father into an assisted living home which was a tough decision in itself.

To make matters worse we were running into a brick wall with multiple companies when it came to selling his annuity. He told us that it was impossible and I understand why he felt that way. He had been in contact with four companies that said that he wasn’t qualified and they wouldn’t be able to handle his annuity funding.

Apparently, his particular situation was,”beyond complicated”. Needless to say, I was beyond frustrated. The reason we went to these companies in the first place was because they were supposed to be the experts. It wasn’t until I got in contact with an attorney, about another matter, that I was able to find a solution. He told me about StructuredSettlement-Quotes.com and within weeks they had come up with a solution to what seemed to be an impossible problems.

Bravo guys, in an industry that seems to be filled with incompetence, you were able to provide quality customer service, put up with a very frustrated individual and get the job done. If it weren’t for this company we may have never been able to get the funding. Since the transaction has been completed we were able to handle some of my fathers medical costs and get some estate planning done or him as well. I’m beyond relieved to be done with the whole process and to my surprise, there was a happy ending.

Structured Settlement Quotes – SSQ took me out of a mess.

Structured Settlement Quotes – A great company to TRUST!

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First images of the Sony Xperia Z3 leak – are they real?

Rumors of the Sony Xperia Z3 have been spreading, with the latest coming from Vodafone Germany. The device’s appearance has not been unveiled until today, though, making this leak a little special. Today we bring you a set of images said to have the Xperia Z3 as the subject.

While previous rumors made us expect the design to be different, we don’t see many changes in the design language here. Sony is known for its classic aesthetics, which is something their fans often praise. Aside from its looks, the prototype unit does seem to be quite a capable device so far.

This would be the Chinese version with model number L55t, which makes sense knowing the Xperia Z2 is labeled as the L50t. Check out the gallery below to see the device in more detail. The pictures are not half bad, but we could always use better quality.

Most specs continue to be a mystery, but from the photos we can tell it is running Android 4.4.4 on firmware build 23.0.G.0.98. It also seems like the device will have a 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, Adreno 330 graphics and probably the same 20.7MP Exmor RS lens we have seen from both predecessors.
Sony Xperia Z3 leak
@ Images Gallery
It’s also important to note this is still a prototype, so design, specs and other aspects could still be subject to change. Of course, it may a bit early to be losing sleep over the Xperia Z3. After all, the Sony Xperia Z2 is an amazing smartphone and has yet to reach many markets.

Not to mention, this are still rumors and we wouldn’t hold our breath on them just yet. We will definitely give you the details as soon as they become available, so stay tuned!

[Source: Android Authority]

Android L improves battery life by 36%!

Android L is Google’s biggest update to its mobile operating system. We are expecting wonders when it comes to design, performance and new features, but it seems we didn’t give battery life improvements too much attention. This is probably due to us simply assuming it wouldn’t really be a huge jump, but we may have underestimated Google’s work.

Google’s “Project” tradition started with Jelly Bean and Project Butter, which made the UI incredibly smooth. KitKat offered Project Svelte, which allowed lower-end devices to run the software more efficiently. Next up is Project Volta, which is much more than a small improvement in battery efficiency.

 

The test

Ars Technica’s latest tests prove the new software boosts battery life by about 36%! This is no normal battery test, either. Ars Technica went all out and was as precise as possible. Both software versions were tested with the same Nexus 5 smartphone, managing to avoid battery variations. Screen brightness was set to 200 cd/m2, which was verified by a colorimeter.

The 6 Most Beautiful Natural Pools in the World

The Devil’s Pool

the-6-most-beautiful-natural-pools-in-the-world

Twice the height of Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls in southeastern Africa is the largest waterfall in the world. But for some brave souls, the top of the Falls is just another swimming hole. With water levels at their lowest from September to December, swimmers venture into the Devil’s Pool, an area with minimal current, mere feet from where the water gushes 355 feet down into the gorge below.

Barton Springs Pool

the-6-most-beautiful-natural-pools-in-the-world

Fed from freshwater underground springs that were once used for purification rituals by the Tonkawa Native American tribe, the Barton Springs Pool in Austin, Texas, covers more than three acres and maintains a temperature of about 68 degrees year-round. Admission to the 18-feet-deep pool is free from November until mid-March and every evening after 9:00pm; from mid-March until October, the cost is $3 for adults and $1 for kids.

Bondi Iceberg public pool

the-6-most-beautiful-natural-pools-in-the-world

A 15-minute drive from Sydney, Australia, where the country’s southeastern coast meets the Tasman Sea, sits The Bondi Baths at Bondi Icebergs. The historic 50-meter public saltwater pool has been around for more than century and features a small beach, bar, and kiddie pool—not to mention the occasional wave crashing harmlessly into the pool. The entry fee ($5.50 for adults; $3.50 for kids) isn’t much considering the million-dollar view.

Hot Springs National Park

the-6-most-beautiful-natural-pools-in-the-world

Located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and designated by President Andrew Jackson as a special reservation in 1832, Hot Springs National Park, and the 47, 143-degree springs within the 5,500-acre nature reserve, have been a sanctuary for those seeking healing and solace for more than a century.

Johnson’s Shut-Ins

the-6-most-beautiful-natural-pools-in-the-world

The East Fork Black River in southeastern Missouri cascades over and around billion-year-old lava rock to form dozens of small rivulets and wading pools in the 8,550 acre Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.

Dudu Blue Lagoon

the-6-most-beautiful-natural-pools-in-the-world

Does floating in a secluded 100-feet-deep freshwater pool so pristine that it glimmers with a shade of cobalt blue sound like paradise to you? Then check out the Dudu Blue Lagoons, located near the town of Cabrera on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic. The lagoon also features underwater caves, making it a popular scuba diving destination.

Making meditation an everyday practice

Establishing a habit of regular meditation practice can be tough, especially when you’re a beginner. But we have tips to help keep you motivated.

Taking time out from a frantic day to practise finding mental stillness can go totally against our ingrained notions of efficiency and productivity – especially when the rewards aren’t always immediate.

But experts say building the skill of meditation requires persistence and offer these suggestions to help keep you on track.

Make it a ritual

Even if you favour a no-frills form of meditation, a little bit of ritual can be a good thing, says meditation teacher and author Gillian Ross. Practising at the same time of day, in the same place, can be very helpful in establish a regular habit, she believes. “If nothing else, if you have family, it gives them the message ‘this is a special time so please don’t bother me’.”

She also recommends you make your place “special and aesthetically pleasing”, and minimise intrusions from devices like mobile phones. Wrapping yourself in a light shawl can help too as it “engenders a feeling of turning inwards”.

Craig Hassed, GP, meditation researcher and Monash University senior lecturer, says before breakfast and dinner are good times because you’re more likely to fall asleep after you’ve eaten as your metabolism is at a low point.

This is fine if you’re trying to help yourself relax so you can sleep, but to learn the skill of meditation so that in can help you in other areas of your life, you need to be awake.

It’s not “all or nothing”

If you forget to meditate before breakfast and dinner, or if you’ve let the habit slip for a few days, don’t feel like all is lost and you should just give up. “Practise when you remember and have the opportunity,” Hassed says. “If your day is full of unavoidable emergencies, then practise when you’ve finished dealing with them.” Avoid time anxiety by having a clock within easy view. “Just open your eyes when you think the meditation time might be up and if the time is not yet up, move back into practice.” While some find it helps to set an alarm, say on a mobile phone, Hassed advises making sure it’s not one that will jolt you out of your meditation. You want to try to carry over some of what you practise into the rest of your day, rather than a stressful, jarring finish.

Try guided meditations

Worried your meditation time might get derailed if your mind goes totally off the task? Taking an accepting attitude to distractions is part and parcel of meditation. But Ross says listening to recorded instructions as a guide can be a boost when you’re starting out. “There will come a time when you let them go, when you want to let them go, but I think to begin with, they can be enormously helpful.” For a selection of audio guided meditations you can use, see our Meditation Toolkit.

Be patient with yourself

Feel disheartened that you can’t control thoughts that enter your mind? Says Ross: “We might not be able to choose ‘not to think’ but with modest practice, preferably daily, you learn to get a taste of what it means to rest in pure awareness, free of thought, even if it’s just for a very short space of time.

“And then that overflows into your everyday life where you find yourself giving less energy to thinking and more energy to awareness and that means you become less reactive. You might think you haven’t got anywhere with your incessant thinking, but you’ll be surprised how much that awareness has come in.”

If you feel very unsettled or feel you just can’t pay attention during a sitting meditation, Hassed recommends trying a form you can do while moving about, such as a walking meditation (for an audio guide to a walking meditation, see the Meditation Toolkit.) Aim to feel the whole experience of your body as it moves from the tip of the toes up and practise returning to the activity as your mind wanders off.

Don’t make excuses

Hassed says we are creatures of habit, so when we try to change old habits, it’s no surprise the mind resists and can present us with no end of excuses.

Too tense to meditate today? It’s the perfect time to learn to respond to tension differently.

Don’t need inner stillness at the moment as everything’s going well? Learning to meditate is a form of mental fitness and like physical fitness, you don’t build that overnight. Practise will help build the ability so it’s there when you do need it.

Too busy? This is a great reason to learn to be more efficient with your attention. “Sharpening attention is like a woodcutter sharpening their axe – those few moments will save a lot of time in the long run,” Hassed says.

Feel too strange? Ross says “all sorts of sensations can arise when we meditate. Let them come, let them go. Don’t give them any energy or worry about them. You’re practising the art of letting go.”

 

In the United States

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Jaguar XKR Ends Life with ‘Final Fifty’ Limited Edition

The British automaker has announced that it will exclusively offer U.S. customers a limited-edition XK model called the XK Final Fifty limited edition, which will be based on the 510-hp XKR and will be limited to 25 coupes and 25 convertibles. The 2015 XK Final Fifty will be the last 50 XKR vehicles produced for the U.S. market and will be built this summer to arrive showrooms in early fall. To create the Final Fifty edition, Jaguar drew inspiration from the special final edition of the iconic E-Type in 1974.

All the limited edition vehicles will be painted in Ultimate Black while the convertible variant will feature a black top. Enhancing the styling of the Final Fifty XKR is a louvered hood from the XKR-S GT while on the inside, the limited edition model will be identified by a special badge on the center console and an inscribed doorsill treadplate.

The XK Final Fifty edition will also include both the Dynamic Pack and Performance Pack and will come with 20-inch wheels. Under the hood is a 5.0-liter V8 supercharged engine with 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque allowing it to accelerate to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.6 seconds with a top speed of 174 mph.

Expect pricing on the Jaguar XK Final Fifty limited edition to be announced closer to its release.

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2015 Acura MDX Priced from $43,460

Acura has announced that its 2015 MDX will have a starting price of $43,460 including destination.

The 2015 Acura MDX will go on sale starting June 3 and will be available in two-wheel and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) trim. Under the hood of the Acura MDX is the company’s 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6 engine with 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. In two-wheel drive form, the MDX is rated at 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway while with SH-AWD it achieves 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

The MDX with the Technology Package will start from $47,735, while adding the Entertainment Package will cost an additional $2,000. The MDX with Advance Package has a starting price of $55,675. Those interested in adding SH-AWD will have to pay 2,000 additional.

The 2015 Acura MDX includes Smart Entry with Push Button Start, Jewel Eye LED headlights, exterior and interior LED lighting, an eight-inch infotainment screen, expanded view driver’s mirror and a powerful 432-watt sound system. Adding the Advance Package equips the MDX with Lane Keeping Assist System, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, remote engine start, an Ultra-Wide DVD rear entertainment system and front and rear parking sensors.

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2015 Subaru WRX Earns IIHS Top Safety Pick

The 2015 Subaru WRX has earned a top safety pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

To qualify to be a top safety pick, a vehicle must earn a “good” rating (the highest rating) in the moderate overlap front, side crash, roof strength and head restraint tests, along with at least an “acceptable” rating in the new small overlap test.

The 2015 WRX managed to score top marks in every single crash test category, with the only factor holding it back from being a top safety pick plus being its lack of crash avoidance technology. To get that added “plus” moniker, the vehicle in question must score at least a “basic” rating in crash avoidance technology.

There are two spots where this Subaru faltered however. During the moderate overlap front crash test, the IIHS says that the dummy’s head hit the steering wheel through the airbag and forces on the left foot indicate lower leg injuries are possible.

This marks the sixth Subaru vehicle to get a top safety pick, three of which are the full top safety pick plus.

[Source: Autoguide]

The challenges facing private equity

The private equity industry is enjoying a renaissance in Europe, with an abundance of free-flowing debt, IPO exits and successful fundraisings hitting the headlines already this year. But some familiar problems persist, according to leading industry executives discussing the future of private equity at an event held by Dow Jones in London last night.

Buyout executives George Anson, the managing director of fund of funds HarbourVest Partners (above right); James Brocklebank, managing partner at buyout firm Advent International (left); and Warren Hibbert, founder of placement agent Asante (centre), shared their views on the buyout market’s past, present and future.

Taxation on fund profits, the growing influence of investors and the threat of a credit bubble were among the issues discussed by senior industry figures at the event.

Advent’s Brocklebank admitted he was “concerned” the private equity sector was “committing the sins of the past” by using leverage too aggressively in the last year, and acknowledged that debt financing packages for deals were reaching pre-crisis levels.

“2014 does feel like on the borderline of 2007,” he said. “I’m confident there won’t be a huge fallout, but certainly there is concern.”

The growing influence of investors, who are demanding more co-investment opportunities with buyout firms, lower fees and earlier access to deal pipelines was one of the topics of discussion among the panel.

HarbourVest’s Anson, who is also chairman of the European Private Equity & Venture Capital Association, said private equity firms and funds of funds needed to deal with a broader range of demands from a wider range of international investors who have the financial muscle to call the shots: “If sovereign wealth funds are looking for separate accounts then you have to respond,” he said.

But Anson said this did not mean that buyout firms were prepared to “go to the lowest common denominator to raise a fund”.

Some of the largest investors in private equity, such as sovereign wealth funds and large Canadian pension funds, have chosen to build direct investment capabilities in recent years in the hope of avoiding private equity management fees. The panel acknowledged the changes, but expressed reservations about how many investors were capable of executing deals and co-investments.

Hibbert said: “It starts with co-investments but very few can execute them. Sovereign wealth funds and large pension funds have developed internal resources, but have they got the best teams?”

Brocklebank voiced his doubts about how many could set up a “credible” direct business. “It is not that easy,” he said.

And while some institutions have competed with Advent on deals in recent years, he said it was no different to competing in a “straight fight” with other buyout firms.

Anson said the remuneration models at large institutional investors were set up differently to private equity firms, potentially creating problems for investors looking to go into direct deals.

Regulation, hardly one of private equity’s best-loved topics, was also under discussion.

Brocklebank said Europe’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers’ Directive had made a “big impact” on the industry after it was introduced last year. He said firms could benefit from complying with some of the rules, arguing that private equity is known as a “closed shop”, and that the regulation could help to force the industry to become more transparent.

Anson said AIFMD was “not perfect”, and could hurt investors’ ability to support funds which did not have the clearance to operate in certain European countries under AIFMD. He said: “There will be west coast GPs [general partners] which will not be able to set up an EU onshore programme. LPs [limited partners] don’t feel as though they have to be wrapped up cotton wool like that.”

The executives also spoke about the thorny issue of tax. Sweden’s private equity industry has been in a long-running dispute with tax authorities over whether carried interest – a firm’s share of profits from investments – should be subject to a higher tax rate. Earlier this week, the Swedish tax agency launched an appeal following an earlier ruling in favour of the buyout industry, and the issue is set to rear its head in other counties across the continent.

Brocklebank said he believed the industry “isn’t as transparent as it should be”, which did not help its cause with regulators. He said the question of tax was a “legislative issue”, which was likely to face further outside scrutiny in the future.

Asked how the buyout industry expected to face up to criticism of its tax practices, Anson said private equity could seize the opportunity to tell a positive story to legislators. “In 10 years PE managers will be more forthright about the jobs creation, growth and the tax they pay.”

“It would be a good story to tell,” he added.
– write to daniel.dunkley@wsj.com