Whether a tried-and-true standard or an imaginative gourmet creation, pizza is an all-American crowd pleaser. USA TODAY asked local experts to name one great pizza parlor in each state and the District of Columbia. Here are their picks for places to savor that favorite Italian import
If you consider museums dusty collections of artifacts, think again. Even the smallest collections hold tantalizing secrets and intrigue, says Don Wildman , host of the Travel Channel show Mysteries at the Museum. “People see museums as boring places, but that’s not the case,” he says. He shares some favorite behind-the-scenes stories withLarry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.
Most of our national leaders started their careers working in state capitols. Author Jim Stembridge says statehouses are bona-fide tourist attractions — working museums of regional art and history. “They don’t have water slides or video games, but they are great,” says the author of Fifty State Capitols: The Architecture of Representative Government (Coho Publishing, $27.95). To research the book, he visited every state capitol and shares some favorites with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY:
HIGHER hotel prices, airline capacity cuts and rising travel demand mean travelers will have to work harder to find a good deal in 2012. But there are plenty of online tools to help keep your vacation expenses in check. Here are 19 go-to Web sites to help you save money this year.
Looking for sales on a specific route, or just want to go somewhere cheap? AirfareWatchdog.com hunts down deals computers tend to miss, like promo codes airlines include in e-mail newsletters. It also finds sales from Allegiant and Southwest, which typically aren’t listed on major airfare search engines. You can sign up for specific fare alerts or a list of all the cheap round-trip fares from your local airport.
Where can you go for $500 or less? Kayak.com/explore will show you where you can vacation for a particular price and display the results on a map. You can narrow your search by month, region, flight length, weather or activity. Clicking on a price reveals dates the fare is available.
If you already know where you want to go, use Itasoftware.com to find the cheapest dates to fly. Click on “airfare search” in the middle of the home page, then enter your departure date and destination and select “see calendar of lowest fares.” To purchase, you must go to the airline’s Web site or online agencies like Travelocity.
Go for the canal. Stay for everything else.
2. Helsinki, Finland
Design. Design. Design. Aesthetics fuel a new cool.
As the new year unfolds, unexpected twists and turns — in politics, business and the economy — are inevitable. Here are some we think are good bets.
SEE ALSO: How Did We Fare on 2011′s Forecasts?
1) The world’s fastest-growing economy next year may well be lraq’s, as that nation cranks up its oil production machinery and begins massive rebuilding after eight years of war. The country is poised to see its GDP grow by more than 12%. It may expand even faster if Baghdad can keep sectarian strife to a minimum.
By comparison, China’s economic growth will slow to under 9%, while Taiwan, at 5%, and South Korea, at a projected 4.4 % pace, will lead the industrialized economies. As for the U.S. economy, look for it to expand at a 2.3% clip, a tad stronger than earlier expectations.
2) U.S. multinationals will return. More manufacturers and service businesses will expand their operations at home rather than abroad. And they’ll buy more of their parts and materials domestically. Companies such as Boeing, Advanced Micro and Dow are finding that they can cut costs by shortening the supply chain. And many are heeding how the earthquake in Japan and floods in Thailand stymied U.S. production of cars and computers.
3) Forget gold. America’s sexiest commodity is coal. Although tough new rules for coal-burning power plants and fierce competition from inexpensive natural gas will trim U.S. coal usage next year, overseas markets can’t get enough of it. U.S. exports of the black stuff will again hit 100 million short tons as demand from Asian power plants and steel mills requires ever more thermal and coking coal.
4) Women will make up the majority of the U.S. workforce for the first time. Although much of the growth is due to the creation of many low-paying jobs, women are also making big gains in many typically male lines of work. They already hold 52% of managerial and professional jobs (compared with 26% in 1980), plus they make up 60% of all accountants, 32% of physicians and more than 31% of lawyers. The wage gap is shrinking, too; working women now earn 77% of what men earn for comparable jobs, vs. 60% in 1980.
5) President Obama will serve four more years, despite the tepid economy. Barring a big downturn, the president will benefit from an upward trend in job creation and the economy. Moreover, he’Il gain votes if the GOP continues to struggle finding messages that resonate.
An Obama win will complicate GOP designs on the Senate. Republicans need to pick up four Democratic seats and retain all 10 of their seats on next year’s ballot to gain the majority. That’s no slam dunk. In fact, a 50-50 Senate, with Vice President Joe Biden breaking ties, is a fair shot. That will happen if Republicans gain just three seats and Obama wins again.
6) Unusual allies may help Obama win the Supreme Court health law case. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia, both conservatives, have nevertheless taken expansive views of congressional authority over states in other cases. Some conservative judges at the appellate level have already backed the heart of the law, which requires people to have health insurance or pay a penalty. A ruling is expected in June, following three days of hearings in late March.
7) The “temporary” payroll tax reduction for workers is here to stay. It’ll remain on the books until Congress overhauls the tax code — not before 2013, and maybe later. Democrats will try to force a vote early in 2012 to make the trim permanent. It’s an election year gambit to pressure congressional Republicans who rebuffed Democrats’ attempts to set higher tax rates for millionaire earners. If that effort falls short, both sides will agree to year-by-year extensions.
8) Big Brother will be welcomed back by Congress — to fight cyberterrorism. Both Democrats and Republicans will support the most sweeping security measure since the Patriot Act, requiring private firms to share information with Uncle Sam. Though details are unresolved, the measure will give civil libertarians heartburn and will likely result in new safeguards to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans.
9) The world will get serious about Iran — and its fixation on nuclear weapons. But conventional military action isn’t in the cards for now, though the U.S. has sent at least 55 bunker-buster bombs to Israel in recent years. Instead, look for more cyberattacks and aerial surveillance. The goal: Disrupt the fundamentalist regime and undercut its push for the capability to manufacture nuclear bombs. Stepped-up pressure from the West won’t sit well with pro-Iran China, but Beijing is already busy keeping a lid on another nuclear outcast: North Korea.
10) Bills for the Iraq war will mount, even though the fighting is over. Postwar charges may top $1 trillion — the same amount that the hostilities cost the U.S. Billions will be spent to build infrastructure and support Iraq’s fragile government, and military operational costs will stay high in 2012 as equipment is removed from lraq.
But the biggest — and longest-lasting — cost will be for the treatment of seriously wounded soldiers. Already half a million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have received government benefits for injuries. But some, with certain types of injuries — brain damage, paralysis and severely impaired vision, for instance — will require ongoing treatment and care for 30 to 40 years.
Good service is key, of course. But dependable Wi-Fi is also big on campers’ wish lists.
So says Bob MacKinnon of GuestRated.com, a sort of TripAdvisor for the outdoors set. For the past four years, the site has invited happy (as well as unhappy) campers to share their evaluations of RV parks and campgrounds they’ve slumbered in. Results for 2011 – consisting of 30,000 responses covering 3,000 individual facilities – are out. And while the A-list (44 campgrounds made the top grade) is too lengthy to get into here, 12 of those have earned a perfect grade for four years running.
They are: Buttonwood Campground, Mifflintown, Penn.; Dogwood Acres Campground, Newville, Penn.; High Plains Camping, Oakley, Kan.; Kozy Rest Kampground, Harrisville, Penn.; Lake George RV Park, Lake George, N.Y.; Mill Creek Ranch RV & Cottage Resort, Canton, Texas; Misty River Cabins & RV Resort, Walland, Tenn.; Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, S. Car.; Pioneer Campground, Muncy Valley, Penn.; South Haven Family Campground, South Haven, Mich.; Sunny Brook RV Resort, South Haven, Mich.; The Vineyards Campground & Cabins on Lake Grapevine, Grapevine, Texas.
GuestRated.com’s 76-point questionnaire asks participants how they’d grade the overall experience, then gets into the nitty-gritty from the levelness of the campsite to the availability of toilet paper.
Good service relates to overall satisfaction. “What’s true in any service business is how people are treated,” MacKinnon says.
But many campers, particularly newly-minted ones, appreciate the comforts of home, he adds. Like Wi-Fi. (So much for getting away from it all.)
And in other campground news (it’s never too early to plan for summer) the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds has named winners in its annual awards competition.
Park of the Year awards: Nashville Country RV Park, Goodlettsville, Tenn. (small-park category); Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Kozy Rest, Harrisville, Penn. (medium); Buttonwood Campground, Mifflintown, Penn. (large); Ocean Lakes Family Campground, Myrtle Beach, S.C. (mega).
DECEMBER 24, 2011: U.S. Federal agents arrested Santa Claus earlier today at the North Pole.
The United States Department of Fish and Wildlife has arrested Santa Claus, an elusive figure with many aliases (e.g., St. Nicholas). On the morning of 24 December, 150 heavily armed Fish and Wildlife special agents raided Claus’ North Pole compound, seized several tons of exotic woods forbidden by the Lacey Act, arrested Santa Claus and a female accomplice identified only as Mrs. Claus, and liberated thousands of diminutive slave labourers known only as “Elves”.
Claus has been charged with multiple counts of money laundering, illegal exportation of currency, illegally importing into the United States toys made of contraband–rare woods, ivory and other banned substances. He has also been charged with violations of slave labor and child labor laws, hundreds of patent and trademark violations, and illegally entering and exiting the United States.
Indeed, Fish and Wildlife agents also seized an unidentified aircraft called a “sleigh” which had numerous secret compartments holding the contraband. Fish and Wildlife agents charged Mr. Claus with animal cruelty with regard to the caribou that he used to launch this “sleigh”.
Special Agent Hugo Smith said, “We arrived just in the nick of time. A moment later, and the caribou would have launched the sleigh and Claus would have escaped with the illegal materials. By now, he would be in the United States, breaking into people’s houses and selling this stuff.”
The United States Department of Immigration and the Internal Revenue Service have also had their eyes on Mr. Claus. An immigration official who also attended the raid said that they were able to obtain several dozen passports. He said, “It seems that this Santa Claus character has a different name in every country–his EU passport says, ‘Father Christmas’ and his Canadian passport says, ‘Père Noël’. We have, however, determined with certainty that Santa Claus is a United States citizen.”
Apparently Claus worked in Hollywood during the 1940s and 50s making autobiographical films, such as Miracle on 34th Street. During that time he applied for and received U.S. citizenship.
According to United States law, all United States Citizens are required to pay taxes to the IRS and to report any foreign bank accounts. Failure to obey these filing requirements may result in civil and criminal penalties including imprisonment.
The Obama administration declared that they were very pleased with the news.. ”It is about time,” Obama said from his Hawaiian retreat, “that the United States returned those who have fled the country just because they don’t feel like paying their fair share anymore.”
The Republican candidate for president, Ron Paul criticized the raid, “The United States has neither the authority nor the right to go into another country and enforce its laws. Santa Claus is a citizen of the North Pole and it is overreach for us to go there and arrest him.”
Also running for president, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich responded to Paul, “The United States must reserve the right to arrest terrorists and to violate the rule of law in order to provide safety for the People of the United States.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada said that his government did everything that they could to help the United States, even to the point of allowing the use of Canadian air space. ”We are cooperating with the good faith efforts of the United States to eliminate terrorists in order to maintain the safety and security of all Canadians.”
By Nora Dunn, Wisebread
A while back, Jeff wrote a great post on surprising ways to reuse foil, such as sharpening scissors and knives, reducing static cling, and repairing stripped threads. Here are 36 more ways to use the shiny stuff!
Note — make sure you reuse, rewash, and recycle your foil whenever possible. This helps your money go further and reduces unnecessary waste. Also, instead of ripping off a sheet larger than you need, cut your foil to suit your exact size requirements (this has the added benefit of sharpening your scissors too).
Foil is usually kept in the kitchen, so let’s start there. It’s good for so much more than you might think!
1. Storing Food
The reason foil is good for food storage is because it creates a total barrier against light, oxygen, odors, flavors, moisture, and bacteria. Fats — for example — won’t oxidize and become rancid. (See also: Simple Strategies for Using Your Leftover Food)