Rossendale firm looks to chip in to Winter Olympics

Universal Smart Cards (USC) has been chosen as one of only 13 British companies to attend a trade mission in Moscow, organised by the British Chamber of Commerce, later this month.

As the only Lancashire representative out of 90 applicants, business deve-lopment manager Paul May hopes he’ll be returning from Russia with a lot of love for the company’s prod- ucts and services.

They include a vast range of contact and contactless smart cards – all featuring a PVC microchip – card readers, card printers, fobs, wristbands and labels.

Dear Muy, Ignoring any payment of principal over the year, your annual interest expense on a $22,000 loan balance at 6.6% is $1,452. Unless you're making interest-only payments, your interest expense for the coming year should be even less than that because you're paying down principal over time.

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Managing a collection of credit cards to reduce your interest expense has its own set of additional risks. You're not transferring credit card balances from another credit card, so you have to find a card that has a teaser rate on a cash advance. Multiple credit card applications over a short period of time will negatively impact your credit score, making it even harder to qualify for that great credit card offer. You also give up any of the loan payment options available with your student loans, including any tax deductibility of the interest payments.

I understand students and graduates complaining about the high interest rates associated with student loans. Comparing student loan rates to mortgage rates isn't a fair comparison, however, because a mortgage is secured by the house as collateral. You've borrowing money unsecured at a fixed 6.6%. That's not a bad deal. Bankrate's latest national average for a fixed-rate credit card is 13.02%. It's 15.15% for variable-rate credit cards. The cards are unsecured debt, too.

In an ideal world, you could use your emergency fund to pay down your student loan, and then replenish the fund over time and come out ahead. But to do that means you've lost the potential protection the fund offers.

The value of a tax deduction depends on your income RFID tag federal income tax bracket. Don't let taxes be the guiding force or the tail wagging the dog here. I'd argue that you should be making additional principal payments each month to chip away at the outstanding loan balance, and set a target date for paying off the debt. Do that, and I'll give you an A for the day!

The lineup for the festival, which takes place from Aug. 2 to 4 at Parc Jean-Drapeau, is a thoughtfully balanced blend of post-punk heritage acts, contemporary roots-rockers, psychedelic buzz bands, acclaimed hip hop artists and synth-pop groove merchants, among others.

New Order join the Cure as a sure draw for those who came of age in the 1980s, while the Lumineers will help the Mumford lads reintroduce acoustic instruments to a new generation in the noisy outdoor mix.

French alt-rockers Phoenix will be there, as will Kendrick Lamar, Vampire Weekend and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the duo whose irresistible Thrift Shop might still be riding the Billboard charts by then.

The bill will also include Alt-J, Hot Chip, Tegan and Sara, Ellie Goulding, Beach House, Big Boi, Flogging Molly, Silversun Pickups, Azealia Banks, the Gaslight Anthem, Father John Misty, Jimmy Eat World, We Are Wolves, Diamond Rings, A Tribe Called Red and Wild Belle.

Even during the early years — a.k.a. the "good years," a.k.a. the "dangerous years" — some people thought it was lazy or hack. In the book on comedy writing And Here's the Kicker, SCTV alumnus Harold Ramis explained why he was happy to not work on SNL even though all his friends were: "The writing was a little weak and gratuitous in a lot of ways. I though the notion of just repeating scenes over and over, week after week, was not a good thing." However, as Buck Henry argued in the same book, "The repetition is funny in and of itself." And those who love this aspect of the show would argue that the very fact that these characters are met with exuberant applause is evidence of why it’s a good practice. Fans love the characters, and they love repeating the catchphrases on their own, so why wouldn't it be a delight to see those characters repeat the catchphrases?

Classic JT characters weren't the only ones reused last weekend. The last two live sketches of the night — "Maine Justice" and "Mo?t & Chandon" — were not only redos, but they were also from the same episode from earlier in the season, Jamie Foxx's. "Maine Justice" lost a ton of juice in its second go-round, as the sketch became less about the concept (a surreal Maine courtroom where everything is inexplicably New Orleans–y) and more about the characters (namely Jason Sudeikis's Cajun judge, who himself strikes a resemblance to Sudiekis’s character from the "Potato Chip" sketch). Conversely, Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong's unfortunate porn stars grow more ridiculous and compelling as we learn more about their insane past. But will it get even better the fourth and fifth times and beyond?

But ultimately, none of the aesthetic comedy debate on this issue matters. Michaels has been hearing complaints about recurring characters for nearly 40 years and has shrugged it off because, as heretical as this might sound to its critics, it would be foolish to change. While the rest of network TV slides deeper into the abyss, SNL holds relatively strong. Unlike most shows in prime time, its audience this season, particularly among adults under 50, is the same or higher than it was two or three years ago. What's more, as NBC's fortunes have sunk, SNL now often boasts a bigger audience than many of the network’s comedies and dramas. TV executives flail (and usually fail) to find new ways to reinvent the sitcom, drama, or reality show; when a talk-show host retires, the network tries to find some fresh way to invigorate the host/desk format. But SNL has an automatic-refresh button: As beloved cast members leave to become big movie stars, new young faces come in with the promise of being the next generation’s big star. The very appeal of this show is that young people will get new faces to “own”: The unchanging institution of SNL is a machine with which we watch our new comedy heroes get built.

That's what Justin Timberlake's Five-Timers Club monologue was about: continuing to assert the show's place as an institution. So just as Tom Hanks belonged in the same all-time-great host conversation with Steve Martin, Justin Timberlake belongs in it with Tom Hanks. Michaels famously believed the show was special when he started it, and he continues to do so today. Saturday's episode reminded you that throughout the show's 38 seasons, through exceptional and less-than hosts, there's a legacy. And whether you like it or not, part of that legacy is recurring characters.
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