The 10 best beaches in the world, according to travelers

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Whitehaven Beach

With temperatures below freezing in much of the northern hemisphere, it’s the perfect time to escape to one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

TripAdvisor has just released its 2015 Travelers’ Choice Awards, which ranks the best beaches in the world based on millions of reviews from real travelers.

Baia do Sancho, a beach on the remote Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, was named the best in the world for the second time in a row.

From the white sands of Turks and Caicos to the crystal clear waters of Italy’s Rabbit Beach, here are the top 10 beaches in the world.

10. Elafonissi Beach, Elafonissi, Greece

10. Elafonissi Beach, Elafonissi, Greece

9. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Australia

9. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Australia

8. Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico

8. Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico

7. White Beach, Boracay, Philippines

7. White Beach, Boracay, Philippines

6. Anse Lazio, Praslin Island, Seychelles

6. Anse Lazio, Praslin Island, Seychelles

5. Playa de Ses Illetes, Formentera, Spain

5. Playa de Ses Illetes, Formentera, Spain

4. Playa Paraiso Beach, Cayo Largo, Cuba

4. Playa Paraiso Beach, Cayo Largo, Cuba

3. Rabbit Beach, Lampedusa…

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Hero of the Middle East: Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

The courageous, historic speech yesterday by the Grand Imam of al-Azhar University, the seat of Sunni Islam, calling for the reform of Islam, was the result of the even more courageous, historic speech delivered a few weeks ago by Egypt’s devoutly Muslim President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the current American administration’s great friend, is the poison tree whose fruit is the Islamist terrorism embodied by the ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Al-Nusra Front, Boko Haram and others.

Apparently some of the Sunni Arab States have not yet realized that their own national security, and ability to withstand Iran, depend on how strong Egypt is.

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Pencil drawing

The Sketchbook

My Californian sketcher friend Suhita draws people in motion really well. I watched her draw in Barcelona and can attest to the fact that she creates magic with her trusty Sharpie pens. I can’t believe how fast she sketches, and how well she captures gestures of people in crowds. She has recently gone back to figure drawing with a model, and she commented on this blog after I posted something from a studio session. Here’s a snippet of what she said: “…it’s just that when I am drawing the figure fluidly, I am much more confident in all that I draw.” I think about that often, and now carry around a sketch kit in my bag, so that if I have a few minutes and there’s a willing model, I can do a quick drawing. Today I took it out when I was visiting my mother, and I thought that even though I try not to link my…

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More On “No-Go Zones”: Displacing What Is Disagreeable

Amid all the giggling and the Twitter hashtags, something dark is going on in France and Britain. None of these areas is a place where non-Muslims are “forbidden” to go. But they do exist. They are places where behavior that is commonplace in wider society would certainly be discouraged, sometimes intimidatingly so.

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An Irresistible Sales Pitch

Cousin Ole Ole, the smoothest-talking Swede in the Minnesota National Guard, got called up to active duty.

Ole’s first assignment was in a military induction center.

Because he was a good talker, they assigned him the duty of advising new recruits about government benefits, especially the GI life insurance, to which they were entitled.

The officer in charge soon noticed that Ole was getting a 99% sign-up rate for the more expensive supplemental form of GI insurance. This was remarkable, because it cost these low-income recruits $30 per month for the higher coverage, compared to what the government was already providing at no charge.

The officer decided he’d sit in the back of the room at the next briefing and observe Ole’s sales pitch.

Ole stood up before the latest group of inductees and said, “If you haf da normal GI insurans an’ yoo go to Afghanistan an’ get yourself killed, da governmen’ pays yer beneficiary $20,000. If yoo take out da supplemental insurans, vich cost you only t’irty dollars a mont, den da governmen’ got ta pay yer beneficiary $200,000!”

“Now,” Ole concluded, “vich bunch of guys you tink dey gonna send ta Afghanistan first ?”

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