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The Tyler Group Expat Connections Blog

The Tyler Group Barcelona Hand and Gavel Economic: Keeping a Positive Outlook through the Present Economic Challenges

Many developing countries have muddled through from one economic crisis to another for decades, and a few only in recent years; but all have never felt as challenged as within the present global economic environment. With growing population being felt in urban centers , accompanied by increased unemployment, scarcity of resources and escalating prices, citizens can no longer feel as secure as before when life in general was more financially manageable and less socially turbulent. Natural calamities, on one hand, provide a real challenge, especially for nations which encounter them on a regular basis, aggravating their economic woes.

Yet in spite of what many people feel or perceive through the popular media, the overall reality portrays a brighter future for the global economy. We point to two factors that bring hope for a more stable and progressive economy in the future:

1. Levelling of the global economy for all countries to freely participate

Globalization, as it was originally designed by the engineers of the global economic program, has given a chance to many countries to participate actively in international economic activities due to the easing up of former trade and tariff restrictions. Developing and developed countries now have a healthier interaction through more trade interaction and exchange of technological expertise. The economic field is no longer an exclusive arena for the big countries to play in while the rest of the smaller ones struggle to survive among themselves.

This is proven by the fact that growth rates have increased for many developing countries: from Africa which is expected to attain 4.7% growth rate in 2014, to India which has a present robust 8.0% growth rate, and to East Asia which has shown consistent growth expected to average at 6.0% in 2014 and gain slightly in 2015 at 6.1%. This can only be a boost to the world economy as these regions are a rich source of raw materials for the rest of the globe. Allowing these once-undeveloped areas to the big picture will serve as impetus for more economic dynamism on a wider scale.

2. Political and financial leaders are the key to continued economic growth

Fiscal health is the major concern for all countries even before the exit of Greece from the EU and with unemployment still a big challenge everywhere, even in the US which had 7.0% unemployment late 2013 from 10% in 2010. However, inflation remains tame and could eventually slowdown and help spearhead the expected growth of the global economy.

Divisive politics and policies as well as adventurous economic and military expansionism exhibited by a few countries will put to the test the resolve of political and fiscal leaders as they steer the global ship through the turbulent seas ahead. Tensions among nations due to territorial conflicts will continue to challenge the community of nations as they try to stabilize the ship without causing it to implode from within. But if majority of the nations will exhaust all possible peaceful means to resolve conflicts, avoiding violent confrontation along national borders can be attained. As the world arbiter, the United Nations will have its hands full keeping destructive wars at bay.

The economic stability and overall security of the global community rests in the hands of a few leaders who are tasked to provide a vision of progress and sustainability not just into the next year but for a whole generation of citizens who will reap our present efforts at attaining worldwide political and economic security. With all the structures in place to allow nations to achieve this vision, all we need now is the individual and common will to work for that vision.

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The Tyler Group Cyber Restriction: When Your Teens Abuse Their Digital Privileges

A majority of families have set limits and guidelines that their kids and teenagers need to follow when using digital gadgets. Here is hoping that parents nowadays appreciate how important digital citizenship is just as potty training was important to them when their children were toddlers.

Articles on tips for cyber security, safety and bullying online are plenty. There are also so much you can read about what you must do when you happen to see abuse online or find yourself being victimized by a scammer or a cyber-criminal.

At present, a deluge of beneficial articles will assist you in managing your online integrity and many other services, such as, which can help you maintain your virtual image and protect the privacy of your family online.

Nevertheless, I have not found a lot of articles dealing with what you can do to discipline your teenagers who might abuse their privileges in terms of using the Internet or cell phone.

What specific acts can be considered digital abuse?

Here are several listed:

• Posting improper comments, photos or videos
• Sharing too much personal information
• Joining questionable chat forums
• Cyber-bullying, cursing, teasing or harassing people online
• Buying items online without parental consent
• Sending abusive tweets

Sexting or passing mean text messages
- Sending or posting anything with the purpose of hurting or harming people

Dear parents, surely you have more things you can add to that list; but I suppose many of us, more or less, think along the same lines when it concerns our teens and digital abuse.

We have to bear in mind that this does not concern being a cruel parent; it is all about safeguarding your children’s future. It is a given that your teen’s name will enter into the “Google-wash-cycle” even before they even reach college or work for an employer later on. In short, you are protecting their future by being determined on setting your digital rules.

I talk to parents regularly concerning their experiences pertaining to the consequences for their teenagers when they violate their digital limits. At first, they decide to simply take away all the devices; but that does not solve the problem. We have to admit it; technology exists practically everywhere — at every street corner and each friend will have a device they can always borrow, so taking out the technology will only strain them out for a while. Eventually, they will find their way back into cyber-wonderland.

Certainly, not all cases are the same, and depending on the specific conditions, the age and mental development of the teen, combined with their particular acts, parents can determine how each situation can be addressed.

Once you find out your teen has overstepped the family’s online rules, it is time to have a serious talk and assess what your teenager went through. Listen to them first, then make them understand why there will have to suffer the consequences — explaining clearly that they have abused their privilege. It is vital that they appreciate the gravity of their mistakes so they can learn and grow from the experience.

What about punishment? Well, we will not condone such extreme cases set by parents, one father in North Carolina taking a gun to his daughter’s laptop or a mother went so far as to think having her daughter shame herself publicly online would provide her a better understanding of how your virtual image can be affected online. Such approaches are definitely overkill.

An excellent article on McAfee’s Blog Central posted recently by Family Safety Evangelist Toni Birdsong entitled, What Should the Consequences Be for a Teens’ Digital Slip-Up?, might enlighten many of us.

She enumerated several outstanding points that parents must consider when their teens slip-up online.

Here are some of my favorites:

• Make sure they get the “why”. Discuss clearly the dangers related to the behavior and why it will not be tolerated. If the matter on hand is sexting, then clarify the personal risk of trusting another person and the legal risks of having or posting sexual pictures.
• Be consistent. If you decide on a three-week no-phone-use imposition, keep to that “sentence” even if it may be such a strain on you and your family’s digital habits. If you stick to the outcome, you gain to win the fight and curtail or control the behavior and send the message that the harsh application of the “law” can still happen in the future.
• Let them write it down. It may appear old school, but writing an essay in this world of impulsive clicking has worked wonders in our home. Parenting involves a lot of teachable moments, so utilize this chance to impart wisdom. Have your teen child compose an article on the risks involved in their behavior. Whether bullying, sexting, racism, suggestive texting, racism, cursing, or gossip — great lessons can be derived through studying and writing. Be aware that many tweens and teens are obviously naïve as to technology’s ability to cause harm and damage and that they simply still have many things to learn.
The use of the Internet and cell phones comes as a privilege, not a right. Teenagers must understand that abusing the privilege will result in consequences. From the time they give their child any kind of device, parents have to make sure what the limits are and what the results of crossing them will be.

Communicating clearly is the parent’s best tool for educating children, in general, and it applies as well to digital parenting. Always strive to be consistent and firm; most of all, remain to be a parent first.

Takeaway tips:

• Always begin digital parenting offline through face-to-face communication
• Be clear and firm on the expectations and the consequences from cyber abuses you have imposed for your teen’s behavior online
• Learn from cyber errors; find every opportunity for teachable digital moments
• Always discuss digital citizenship as often as possible, focusing on its importance

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Take a Luxurious Cruise along the Coast of Spain by The Tyler Group Barcelona Travel Guide

DISEMBARKING after nine days on board a luxurious cruise ship is like being dumped by your first love.

There are plenty more ships in the sea but bidding adieu to Crystal Serenity left me feeling bereft, as if no other cruise will ever float my boat again. 

Like Vegas hotels, cruise ships get bolder every year so although they come bigger than Crystal Serenity, none are more beautiful. 

The 1,100-passenger vessel was recently voted the best mid-sized ship for the 20th consecutive year.

My wife Jenny and I were amazed to find Crystal Serenity had undergone a stunning £11million makeover since we last stepped aboard three years ago. 

There are pristine indoor and outdoor dining areas as well as extraordinary sights such as the living wall of plants – which even includes the chef’s herb garden. 

Stylish new penthouse suites have chic furnishings that wouldn’t look out of place in a boutique hotel and there are 70 specially air-conditioned hypoallergenic cabins. 

The ship’s newly expanded all-inclusive offering takes the food and drink experience up yet another notch. 

The finest wines, single malts such as Glenlivet and Macallan and lip-smacking cocktails (the Aviator was my pre-dinner tipple of choice) are all included in the price, encouraging guests to try something new every day.

I didn’t order a single vodka and tonic all week. 

Serenity has five restaurants which include the elegant Crystal Dining Room with its floor-to-ceiling windows and tables set with Schott Zwiesel crystal, Villeroy & Boch china and crisp linens. 

This is where most guests eat lunch and supper. 

The menu changes almost daily to include traditional dishes from wherever the ship happens to be. 

Speciality restaurant Prego, which has just been remodelled as part of the redesign, serves celebrated Italian cuisine by Piero Selvaggio, owner of the Valentino restaurants in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. 

There’s Asian cuisine next door at Silk Road, dished up by chef Nobu Matsuhisa. 

Here the signature black cod is so beautifully prepared it’s a wonder all the other fish don’t leap out of the Mediterranean and form an orderly queue at the door to applaud. 

Our nine-day Southern Spanish Sun sojourn from Barcelona to Dover took in many European must-see cities such as the Roman port of Cartagena and Malaga, where we took a 30-minute drive down the winding coastal road to visit the village of Mijas and its Contemporary Art Museum with world-beating Picasso collection. 

Another day we docked in Gibraltar, from where you can take in the amazing views of the villages of southern Spain and towering tips of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains across the sea. 

Its famous brown tailless Barbary apes run wild on The Rock. 

The locals believe Gibraltar will remain British territory as long as the apes are present so they are fed every day and sent to the Royal Navy hospital when they are sick.

Overnight we sailed onwards to Lisbon, where a 10-hour stopover allowed time for a tour of the Estoril Formula One racetrack, lunch in the chocolate box fishing village of Cascais and a stroll through the cobbled alleyways of the millennium-old Alfama district. 

Our final stop was Bordeaux, winemaking capital of the world, famed for producing red and whites since the Romans planted grapes in its fertile soil. 

We spent the afternoon in the city’s fascinating Jewish district, focused around the vast Great Synagogue on Causserouge Street. 

Crystal Serenity sails many routes. 

After Dover she headed for Copenhagen, followed by a trip around the British Isles. 

You can keep track of the ship’s progress via webcam on Crystal Cruises’ website. 

As I write this she’s docked at dusk in the Canary Islands. 

I can see some lucky blighter lazily leaning out of his penthouse balcony with a flute of something sparkling in his hand, no doubt contemplating the black cod in sweet miso sauce waiting for him at Silk Road later that night.

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10 Tips to Avoid Pickpockets while Traveling by The Tyler Group Barcelona Travel Guide

For many, vacation time is right around the corner and the thought of the perfect getaway does not include being a victim of crime. While most vacations will go as planned, some will fall victim to petty theft: mainly purse snatching and pickpockets. Thieves target tourists because they are the ones with the money. In Barcelona alone, it is estimated almost 6,000 incidents happen daily–that is 1 out of every 4 tourists. So how do you protect yourself from becoming part of the pick-pocketing statistics? Here are 10 sure-fire ways to better your odds.

1) Wear a money belt – This is the most important thing you can do to lower the chances of being pick-pocketed. A money belt is worn under your clothing; this is where you keep your passport, extra credit cards and cash. Keep that day’s cash and a credit card in your day bag or wallet for easy access. You want to think of the money belt like a safe deposit box, and only get into your money belt when replenishing your wallet. When getting into your money belt, do it in a safe area like your hotel room, a bathroom stall or a changing room.

2) Do not put anything in your back pocket – The outline of a wallet in the back pocket is advertising to pickpockets to rob you, especially in crowded areas like metro platforms and escalators. Place your wallet in your front pocket and put an elastic band (like the rubber band that you find holding the broccoli in the grocery store) around your wallet. This will create friction in your pocket and make it just that harder for a thief to steal from you.

3) Valuables need to stay in your hotel room – Laptops, tablets and such are much safer in your hotel room than in the bottom of a bag on the streets. When leaving valuables in your room, put them away so as not to tempt the hotel staff. Better yet, leave them in a hotel safe or at the front desk.

4) Walk with purpose and confidence – Pickpockets look for the confused tourists–the ones constantly looking at a map, taking hesitant steps, having a “deer in the headlights” look on their face. Before leaving your hotel, restaurant or metro stop, check your surroundings and directions. If you do need to look something up, stop somewhere with a wall to your back. If that is not an option, get to a place that is wide open so you can tell if someone is approaching.

5) Secure your belongings – When sitting or eating, never put your purse/bag on the chair behind you or on the ground. Countless bags are stolen while people are in cafes and restaurants. Loop a strap of your daypack/purse around your arm, leg or chair leg. If you are in an airport or on a train and want to sleep, use a cable lock to secure your bags to the seat, luggage rack or even yourself. If you have a camera or smart phone don’t place them on tabletops where they can easily be snatched. Thieves are always looking for the easy mark, so even the most minor obstacle (a strap around a chair) can be an effective deterrent.

6) Carry a purse or bag with the flap against your body – You want to cut down the number of entry points into your bag so thieves’ fingers have fewer places to wander. If your bag has a long strap, carry your bag across your body. Never keep important items in any outside pocket.

7) Get to know your new money before heading out – If you’re traveling out of the country you will be confronted with foreign money. Become familiar with the local currency before you hit the pavement. Pickpockets observe travelers shopping, and then later know exactly where to lift their wallets. Count your change and put it away right there and then, and don’t be rushed by cashiers.

8) Stay clear of commotions and avoid crowds – A fight breaking out, someone dropping items, even people falling down are most likely a smokescreen for bad guys wanting to separate tourists from their money. Crowds anywhere, but especially on public transit and in markets, provide thieves with plenty of targets, opportunities and easy escape routes. Sometimes you cannot avoid a crowd, especially during rush hour on a subway. Try to go to the first car or the last car where there are typically fewer people. Avoid standing near the doorways of trains, as groups of pickpockets can rush at you when the doors open.

9) Know how they work – Get to know the local scams thieves use to rob travelers. Most guidebooks will have a section just on this. You will then recognize situations to avoid and keep your attention focused on your valuables, not on their intentional distractions.

10) Be unpredictable – If you get the feeling someone is following you, change directions. Go into the nearest shop/hotel/restaurant and wait a few minutes. Most likely they will move on; if not, call the police.

From the well-dressed businessman to the group of children with outstretched arms, it can be difficult to recognize a thief. But travelers can prevent the majority of common thefts by arming themselves with these 10 tips. Follow these time-tested tips and soon you will be enjoying your vacation and not worrying about pickpockets.

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