' WELCOME TO MY NEWS READERS '

This blogger is dedicated to provision of of news and views across the worldwide web. These area cover, finance, world, finance, contracts for goods and services, property and business. It was to provide links to our other associate sites and to provide you are readers with help and guidance in being kept up to date with the latest news, through our news services. Our main news group sites are here: https://acenewsservices.com/ Please sign in or leave your comments as we will be shortly be adding a news mail letter and are interested in your news so we can add a shareotherscolumn. Enjoy, ALL - Ian

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Payday loans firm still chasing my son, after I settled the bill

Extract courtesy of Mark King Guardian News


Pounds to Pocket is pursuing my son for outstanding payments but I have already paid off his debt
My student son got into trouble with a payday loan from a company called Pounds to Pocket (PTP). I offered to pay off the loan in full so he could pay me back the capital without accruing further punitive interest. He authorised me to have access to his account with them, which enabled me to make a payment by debit card on 6 July 2012 of £346.72, which left my account on 9 July. Pounds to Pocket says it has not received it and continues to pursue my son for payments. I have, as requested, provided a screengrab of my bank statement showing the payment and it says "management is investigating" but nothing happens. AR, Stockport

PTP offers loans of up to £2,000 for up to 12 months, at extremely high interest rates – a £1,000 loan incurs an APR of 277%. To put that in context, Sainsbury's Bank charges a typical APR of 14.8% on loans of £1,000-£4,999. Payday loans are one of the most expensive ways to borrow money and consumers should tread carefully when considering one.

PTP is owned by CashEuroNet UK, which also runs QuickQuid in the UK, operating out of Chicago in the US. I found its PR representative in the UK and can report that, following my intervention, your son suddenly received an email stating there was no further liability on the accounts. I'd urge your son to talk to you before approaching any other loan companies and especially payday loan firms.

Mark King


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Thank you, Ian [Editor]

Businesses resort to company voluntary agreements to stave off insolvency

Businesses resort to company voluntary agreements to stave off insolvency:
Number of CVAs, which allow businesses to renegotiate their debts, rose by 32% to 924 last year, says accountancy firm
Businesses are increasingly using a little-known procedure to stave off the threat of insolvency. The number of company voluntary agreements, which allow businesses to renegotiate their debts, increased by 32% in the last year to 924 from 699 in the previous year, according to the accountancy firm Wilkins Kennedy.
To enter a CVA a company's arrangement for repaying creditors must be approved by three-quarters of them and supervised by an insolvency practitioner. CVAs allow companies to continue trading and prevent creditors from taking action to recover debts until the agreement ends – either through completion or failure.
One of the reasons for the large rise is the collapse of Southern Cross Healthcare. To avoid bankruptcy, the care home provider entered into hundreds of CVAs with creditors and different parts of the group.
Other companies that have used CVAs include Fitness First, JJB Sports, Blacks Leisure and Focus DIY. Last week, the budget hotel chain Travelodge agreed one as part of a £635m debt restructuring deal and eight other hotel chains have entered CVAs in the past six months.
Landlords have complained that the process often leaves them out of pocket. After the Travelodge announcement, Liz Peace, the chief executive for the British Property Federation, said: "Once again landlords are being asked to play a significant part in rescuing a business, and a minority at that, who are being asked to take a 'hit' to keep a far bigger business afloat."
Inflexible rents have been blamed for the increase in CVAs by retailers and hotel operators. Anthony Cork, a partner at Wilkins Kennedy, has said: "Planning restrictions in the UK mean that rents are far more expensive here than compared with continental Europe and the US. That huge property overhead plays real havoc whenever there is a recession.
"Landlords do talk about being more flexible over rents but there is little substantial progress on that point. You get the impression that landlords will only renegotiate when they think their tenant is at the brink of bankruptcy."

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The posts l provide are my views of good recipes and also are shared from a number of contacts, news and blogging services. They are not always tried and tested by me unless it states that l have cooked any myself,whereby it will be noted on the post accordingly. Please tweet at #AceFoodNews or email News & Views Thank you, Chris [Chef]

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Dean Baker: Romney Pledges a Fed that Will Screw Workers

Last week Mitt Romney committed himself to picking a Federal Reserve Board chairman that will try to keep workers' wage down, likely costing them tens of thousands of dollars over the next decade. You remember reading the front page news stories on this pronouncement?
Of course you didn't read them, because the media largely ignored President Romney's statement about his choice of Fed chairs. And all of them ignored its implications for people's wages and living standards. The media would much rather focus on the ongoing debate over President Obama's birth certificate or, when we are lucky, tax policy decisions that might in the extreme case make $1,000-$2,000 a year in difference to the typical family. The much more important policy decisions that allow people like Mitt Romney to be incredibly wealthy and the rest of the country to be struggling are totally off the media's radar screen.
Romney's statement about the Fed fits in the latter category because he said that he would pick a chair who supports a "strong dollar." The implication is that he wants the Fed to run policies that keep the dollar over-valued relative to other currencies, making U.S. goods uncompetitive in international markets.

Read More...

More on Unemployment



The posts and articles provided by our news desk are not always representative of our personal views of the story.Tweet at #AceBusinessNews or email to News & Views Thank you, Ian [Editor]

Monday, 27 August 2012

Introducing the YouTube US Election Hub

Introducing the YouTube US Election Hub:
Catch all of the live and on-demand moments of the 2012 US Election season at www.youtube.com The Elections Hub is your one-stop shop for convention speeches, debates and Election Night results plus partner coverage from ABC News, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Phil DeFranco, Univision, Al Jazeera, and Buzzfeed.
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Cows Genetically Modified To Improve Flavour For Profit

Scientists in China have created genetically modified cattle designed to produce tastier beef.

Ed says this is one step too far, as many of our foods are getting evermore tainted by the phrase GM! This type of development is against God and against Nature and can and will only lead to disaster, in the making!
Witness a simple fact that we as yet do not know what the results of the long term affects on body, will have! Also we cannot and do not know how the eating such meat ,may change our DNA in such a way ,as to be irreversible! Then finally " Genetically Modified Animals" are artificial in its making and we were created to accept only natural foods and to only put " Profit before People " is ludicrous in the extreme! As the cost could be more than what we make and the results beyond our own extent of knowledge!

God Help Us!!!                

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Bills Seek To Help Students Avoid Too Much Debt - One Persons Story

When Steve MacIntyre connected with a recruiter at the Art Institutes about enrolling in online classes to work toward a bachelor's degree, he told them he had no money to pay for school and would probably need assistance with any paperwork thrown his way. He says the for-profit art college chain told him no problem and it could help.

"I allowed them to represent me for filling out financial paperwork, so they were able to take out loans and grants in my name," MacIntyre told The Huffington Post. It was a choice that the 40-year-old now calls "foolish."

With only a high school diploma, MacIntyre had struggled to find work for a few years. In the 2004-05 term, he began taking Art Institutes classes. By the time he completed an associate's degree in graphic design, he owed $60,000 in private and government loans. He tried to finish the work for a bachelor's degree, but wasn't able to obtain all the needed loans and had to drop out a few classes shy. He's now spent most of a decade unemployed or underemployed.

He receives frequent calls from Sallie Mae, asking for more than $800 a month in payments, MacIntyre said. But he can't pay. "I'm sure I'm going into default soon," he said on Thursday.

MacIntrye is angry. He said he feels like he was "thrown to the wolves." Had he known the financial hole he would fall into, he would have searched for a cheaper means to obtain more training. He's continuing to look for full-time work and "trying to stay positive, but it's difficult," he said.

Now, some lawmakers and officials in Washington are arguing for more disclosure about student loans to prevent individuals like McIntyre from getting in over their heads, an idea that consumer and student advocates have been pushing for the past several years.

Speaking at Loyola University in Chicago on Monday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, "Most students just sign. They have no idea what they're getting into. They lack life experience. This is not an arms-length transaction between two parties who each understand the terms."

Along with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Durbin has introduced the Know Before You Owe Act, which would require schools to counsel students before they take out a private loan and inform them if they have any untapped federal loan eligibility.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has put forward similar legislation, the Understanding the True Cost of College Act, which would require disclosure by higher education institutions and lenders that federal student loans offer generally more favorable terms and repayment options than private loans. It would also require the Education Department to detail interest rates, fees and expected monthly repayment amounts for federal loans. Franken's bill has attracted support from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and several other Democrats.

Student finance experts like Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, argue that such disclosures could help save students from taking on excessive financial burdens. Kantrowitz, who recently reviewed debt trends in a paper titled "Who Graduates With Six-Figure Student Loan Debt?," said students need to know what their repayments are going to look like.

"Colleges should tell students when they are borrowing excessively as compared with their peers and/or absolute standards concerning affordable debt," Kantrowitz wrote in his study's recommendations.

A recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Department of Education found that during the past 10 years, many students took out private loans before low-cost federal loans. In the 2007-08 academic year, half of all students with loans from private lenders had not tapped all the federal aid available to them. The CFPB found that 42 percent of undergraduates at for-profit colleges, like the Art Institutes, took out private student loans in 2008 -- a significantly higher proportion than those at public and private nonprofit colleges.

The CFPB report concluded that too many students were taking on more debt than they could likely repay, similar to what happened with the subprime mortgage crisis.

Jacki Muller, a spokesperson for the Art Institutes' parent company Education Management Corporation, said its schools already go beyond current disclosure requirements. For instance, Muller said, they encourage students to "exhaust all other federal and state provided methods of financing their education before applying for private loans."

"We agree that the student debt crisis in our nation must be addressed," Muller said. "Current laws and regulations permit students to borrow well past the cost of tuition and fees up to the maximum loan limits set by Congress, and while we cannot limit the amount of debt a student incurs, we make every effort to provide access to resources that encourage responsible borrowing, repayment of loans and avoiding excessive debt."

There have been a few first steps toward more comprehensive student loan disclosure.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 required better disclosure of fees on private loans. Earlier this year, the Obama administration launched the college cost "shopping sheet," meant to be a guide to the cost of attendance at and graduation rates for universities around the country. But colleges' provision of data for the shopping sheet is only voluntary at this point.

Moreover, a for-profit colleges trade group, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, is pushing back against the Education Department's latest attempts at securing better disclosures, particularly against the effort to make for-profit colleges reveal statistics indicating whether their students are taking on huge debts they likely cannot repay.

In the absence of new legislation anytime soon, Durbin hopes private lenders will begin to fully certify students' educational progress with their schools, as laid out in his bill, before issuing student loans. He sent letters to the Consumer Bankers Association, the Credit Union National Association, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions and the Education Finance Council in August.

The senator said in a statement, "The student loan debt bomb is no longer something we can ignore."

Are you struggling to pay for college? Trapped by student debt? Want to share your story? Send an email to tyler.kingkade@huffingtonpost.com.

Watch the video below for a HuffPost Live discussion on how students handle debt.

Tweet your opinion at #AceDebtNews or email your story at News & Views

Thank you, Ian [Editor]

Prison For Man Who Accidentally Became Rich

A New Zealand man dubbed the "accidental millionaire" or "runaway millionaire" after he fled to China with a small fortune deposited into his account because of a bank error, has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison.

Gas station owner Hui "Leo" Gao, pleaded guilty in a New Zealand court to seven charges that involved stealing $6.7 million and was sentenced to 4 years and 7 months in prison. His former girlfriend and accomplice, 32-year-old Kara Hurring, will serve nine months in home detention, reports the New Zealand Herald.

Gao, 31, was working 16-hour shifts just to keep the doors open at his BP gas station, when he applied for a $100,000 overdraft. Westpac bank mistakenly transferred $10 million ($8.2 million USD) after a clerk entered the decimal point in the wrong place, reports the Rotorua Daily Post.

"I'm f**king rich," Gao reportedly told Hurring at the time and later told the police he'd won the lottery. The Australian reports the couple told friends they were going on vacation, abandoned their car at Auckland Airport and skipped town.

According to the Herald, Gao siphoned close to $6.8 million from his business account to personal accounts in his name and in his parents', and transferred more than $347,000 to casino accounts in Macau before fleeing New Zealand. His then-girlfriend, who gave birth to their son while on the run, followed four days later and opened a "player's account'' at the casino with her passport. Later, another $2.2 million was funneled to the same casino, but this time under Gao's father's name, Alex Wang.

Gao was arrested in September when he tried to cross from mainland China to Hong Kong. According to the paper, he didn't oppose being extradited, and was returned to New Zealand in late December, while Hurring was arrested when she re-entered New Zealand last year.

The Herald reports that Gao plead guilty to theft charges in June, and at yesterday's sentencing, his lawyer, Ron Mansfield, told the court his client could not resist the temptation placed in front of him by human error.

"Your Honor, some say the greatest temptation was faced by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden but these are modern times for a man trying to keep the doors of his small business open, $10 million placed in his bank account was a very great temptation," he said.

Westpac Bank says it has recovered nearly $3 million, but another $3.7 million remains missing.

Need to email me leave a comment and use our new Disqus box and share.Or tweet your opinion at #AceNewsServices or email your story to News & Views  

Thank you, Ian Draper [Editor]

Sir Richard Branson Offers To Run West Coast Main Line For Free

Sir Richard Branson Offers To Run West Coast Main Line For Free:
Sir Richard Branson has offered to run the West Coast Main Line for free to allow parliament more time to examine their decision to award the franchise to rival FirstGroup.

The entrepreneur has claimed that his rival's bid will lead to FirstGroup's "almost certain bankruptcy" and made a last-ditch appeal to the government to delay signing the 13-year contract, expected to take place on Tuesday.

He said Virgin Trains and Stagecoach would operate the joint venture on a not-for-profit basis or donate profits to charity if the franchise needed to be extended beyond December to allow parliament to investigate the decision.

FirstGroup claims it will deliver better value for taxpayers. It plans major improvements to the InterCity West Coast franchise to enhance the customer experience, including improved wifi and catering, as well as additional services and more seats and reducing standard anytime fares by 15% on average.

richard branson


Richard Branson has offered to allow parliament more time to consider their decision and in the meantime he will run the train line on a not-for-profit basis



More than 100,000 members of the public have signed an online petition against the "outrageous" decision, in a campaign supported by double Olympic champion Mo Farah, Apprentice star Lord Sugar and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. The e-petition on the government's website states:

"The West Coast Mainline's current value is thanks to millions of pounds of investment and commitment from Virgin Trains - they're not perfect, none are - but they have delivered a reliable service for 15 years and turned the line around.

"FirstGroup consistently rate amongst the worst of the train operators in passenger satisfaction surveys - they should show improvements in their existing services before being able to bid on more.

"The government should look at more than the highest bidder - look what happened with G4S at London 2012.

"I urge the government to reconsider this decision or to seek public opinion in these franchise bids."

west coast




Branson thanks Ross McKillop, who started the petition, writing: "All of us at Virgin Trains are overwhelmed and thank you. Let us hope that sense prevails and your views are acted on quickly."


Sir Richard is also pressing for an independent audit of the Department for Transport's decision over the £10 billion deal.

His plea comes after Louise Ellman, the chairman of the House of Commons Transport Committee, wrote to Transport Secretary Justine Greening asking her to hold off signing the final contract, saying that "important issues" had been raised.


In an opinion piece for the Sunday Telegraph Sir Richard said: "It is far better for MPs to have the chance to debate the issues, and question ministers on the detail before the decision is finalised.



"To assist in this process, there should be an independent audit of the DfT decision to ensure it has been based on correct criteria and reliable forecasting of customer numbers, revenue and payments to Government.

"We must ensure that this crucial decision is taken with all the facts correctly assessed and understood."

Sir Richard accepted that he has a "vested interest" but added: "City analysts, politicians, media commentators and - most importantly - our many loyal customers have seized on this decision as outrageous, unjust and simply wrong."

Virgin has operated the West Coast line since 1997 and has more than doubled annual passenger numbers over 15 years.

A DfT spokesman indicated that the agreement was set to be signed on Tuesday despite Sir Richard's offer.

He said: "We note the offer that one of the bidders appears to have made via the press.

"However, the winning bidder was decided by a fair and established process and no reason has been advanced to convince DfT not to sign the agreement."

The positions and jobs offered on this blog are provided by us obtaining details from other news sources and we always suggest you check out all posts and companies for further details. We will of course advise when a position is available within our organisation with our associates. Need to email me leave a comment and use our new Disqus box and share. Or tweet your comment at #AceNewsServices or email your News & Views  

Thank you, Ian Draper [Editor]

Sunday, 26 August 2012

5 Scandalous Reasons Big Finance Is Trying Hard to Keep a Low Profile

5 Scandalous Reasons Big Finance Is Trying Hard to Keep a Low Profile:
Few news outlets are more sympathetic to the financial services industry than the Wall Street Journal. So it’s interesting when the paper reports from London that “antibanking sentiment here is still off the charts,” leaving the industry “gun shy about flaunting wealth.” That was also true at the Olympics, even though “The games are typically one of the biggest corporate schmoozefests on the calendar.” This is part of what the Journal calls “a wave of banker austerity,” with executives skipping the usual “hired black sedan” and champagne, and even resorting to putting up important clients in mere three- or four-star hotels. Overall, “The City of London’s high-rolling banking industry is rolling as low as possible,” in order to “avoid displays of wealth that will further inflame an already angry public.”
So why is the public so “inflamed” with “antibanking sentiment?” Recent events here and in the UK make it easy to see.
1. Fool me 30 Times, Shame on You
For Britons, at the top of the list stands the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal, in which the UK’s most prominent banks conspired to fix a baseline interest rate that's used to calculate rates on thousands of financial products like mortgages. The scandal continues to unfold, with giants Citigroup and Chase still awaiting charges, among others.
But as is common in episodes where major banks have committed large-scale fraud, in this case involving hundreds of billions of dollars in financial instruments, the most heavily implicated bank, Barclay’s, is not facing legal prosecution, merely a large fine. The New York Times Dealbook described the settlement as “a multimillion dollar financial penalty and modest admission of wrongdoing, but no criminal conviction to affect its operation.” Pretty gentle treatment for a firm whose traders, while working to manipulate the key rate, said in emails while executing the collusion: “Always happy to help;” “For you, anything;” “Done…for you big boy;” and from a more conscientious employee, “I will reluctantly, gradually, and artificially get my libors in line.”
Especially notable in this connection is the conspicuous absence of Bob Diamond, the disgraced ex-CEO of Barclay’s, from the London Games, since Diamond “had been a fixture for years at UK events” and “had been planning to attend several Olympic events as a guest…[but] after the furor surrounding his resignation, he is expected to stay away.” The banks are politically smart enough to keep their heads down when they look bad.
Of course, the LIBOR affair pales in its human impact when compared with other recent banking scandals, like the “robo-signing” scandal in the US. In that scam, thousands of homes, mortgaged during the housing bubbles, were foreclosed upon without the required legal standing or paperwork. The implicated banks, including the four US megabanks—Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo—settled the charges with the Justice Department and the states for $26 billion, an impressive figure. However, the settlement does little for the real human families evicted fraudulently, including three-quarters of a million evictees who were foreclosed upon from the finance crisis through the end of 2011, most of whom received a check for $2000 each.
2. Sanctions-Busters
In the fast-moving world of banking scandals, Standard Chartered of London impressively secured a spot for itself when it was accused by a New York regulator of laundering a quarter trillion dollars in Iranian money, in violation of US economic sanctions on the country. You don’t have to support the efforts of the US government to economically strangle Iran to appreciate the disregard for law in company emails cited in the criminal charge, including an executive confiding that the Iranian trading had “the potential to cause very serious or even catastrophic reputational damage to the group.” Standard Chartered settled the charges for $334 million, in hopes it can “avoid admitting wrongdoing.”
Indeed, this type of fraud is increasingly prevalent among the financial sector, with banking giant HSBC accused of laundering Mexican drug cartel money, along with cash from Saudi banks with terrorism ties. ING Bank recently spent millions settling a charge that it also bucked international sanctions to move Cuban and Iranian money. These above-the-law moves, while possibly helping the peoples of these countries against the suffocation of their economies by the US, no doubt add to the “inflamed” feelings of the general public.
3. One Nation Under fraud
The power of the financial sector is such that the SEC, whose job is to examine financial firms and prevent or punish fraud, has become notorious for avoiding punishing firms for lying, even when dealing with repeat offenders. While financial law allows serious penalties for fraud, including large fines and restrictions on business practices, the SEC allows “waivers” for these offenses and has granted them quite liberally to the largest US banks. Chase has settled six fraud cases since 2000, with settlements that run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, but has argued before the SEC that it has “a strong record of compliance with securities laws.” Notably, the SEC justifies settling these cases and issuing waivers by referring to promises from the firms not to violate the law in the future. Yet when the firms are taken back to court for their next act of fraud, their recidivism rarely brings a stiffer penalty, as any mere human would likely receive.
In fact, of these waivers issued by the regulator, nearly half go to repeat offenders, “Wall Street firms that had settled previous fraud charges by agreeing never again to violate the very laws that the SEC was now saying that they had broken.” This includes other industry giants like Bank of America and also Citigroup, which racked up so much fraud it finally did get sanctioned. The ability of the megabanks to weasel out of sanctions for widespread fraud are a third reason industry’s keen to stay below the radar.
4. High-Speed Glitches
Further undermining confidence in our financial cornerstones are the recurrent “glitches” in large computerized stock trading systems that have lead to horrifying market swings. May 2010 saw the stock exchange lose literally trillions of dollars of value in just several minutes, only to recover again within another 20 minutes. August of this year began with a similar out-of-control development on the market, as retail trading company Knight Capital Group had a “technology issue” with its brand-new automated stock-trading system. While it was supposed to react to trading by others, the computer system instead placed giant orders to the point that millions of erroneous trades were made, often at inflated prices, such that Knight ended up having to seek new equity partners to stay afloat.
Computer algorithm-based trading strategies like those used by Knight are another product of regulatory loosening over the last two decades, to the point that half of stock trading is now handled by such “high-speed” firms. To compensate for the increased instability such deregulation has brought about, the Securities and Exchange Commission maintains “circuit breakers” to cut off trading if the price of a particular stock behaves erratically. Unfortunately, these countermeasures are not activated until 15 minutes after the beginning of trading, whereas Knight’s algorithm began runaway trading immediately.
The upshot of course is to make finance in general and equity trading in particular more suspiciously viewed by the public. As the Times put it, the chaotic computer trading was “the latest black eye for the financial markets…drawing renewed attention to the fragility and instability of the nation’s stock markets.”
5. Fed by the Fed
Notably, the banks are increasingly dependent on government action for their profits. In recent years, the central bank of the EU and the US Federal Reserve have engaged in a somewhat desperate mode of economic stimulus, “quantitative easing,” where the Fed buys bonds from major banks in order to inject more cash into the banking system, with the goal of lowering interest rates and hopefully increasing economic growth. This bond buying has become a significant profit center for the banking majors, with bond-trading income exploding shortly after each round of (mostly ineffective) monetary “stimulus.” The business press notes that “Big trading banks are particularly well positioned to profit when central banks act aggressively. The firms help make markets in bonds and derivatives. When the banks’ clients see the Fed take bold steps, they feel encouraged and come off the sidelines to buy more bonds. This increases the amount of business that flows through Wall Street, but it also lifts the prices of the bonds that banks hold, creating profits for the traders.”
The ability of the banking industry to sustain its profitability and power despite scandal after scandal – and after crisis after technological disaster -- speaks to its unparalleled power in the modern economy. But beside the social power of the firms to dominate markets and shape perceptions with ad spending, and their obvious political muscle, the banks also make use of their power in a more everyday fashion, in maintaining relatively high retail interest rates in the US. The mortgage-handling banks are benefiting in historically large terms from the growing spread between the low rates they pay to investors they sell mortgages to, and the higher rates they charge the actual homeowner. The Times business section notes that “if the market were functioning properly, the recent drop in the bond rates should have led to a larger decline in mortgage rates for consumers than has actually occurred. Instead, the difference between the two rates is increasing.” One suggested reason: “Mortgage lenders may also be benefiting from less competition. The upheaval of the financial crisis of 2008 has led to the concentration of mortgage lending in the hands of a few big banks, primarily Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and US Bancorp.”
This long record suggests why the finance industry is trying to keep a low profile these days. With banks like these, who needs enemies?
Wed, 08/22/2012 - 11:59
This is the news and views of one writer and is not necessarily the view of our organisation or news services.

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The Major Economic Ideas We Live By Are Shockingly Flimsy

The Major Economic Ideas We Live By Are Shockingly Flimsy:

The following is an excerpt from Jonathan Schlefer's Assumptions That Economists Make (Harvard, 2012):
In his well-known textbook Economics, Paul Samuelson depicts our economic world as being like the universe of Newtonian physics. Though he concedes that deciding on policies may involve value judgments—eliminating rent control may hurt individuals, even though it benefits the economy—he promises to focus on the economic science of cause-and-effect. “Positive economics describes the facts and behavior in the economy,” he insists. The emphasis is his. Questions in this realm may
be “easy or tough,” but they “can be resolved only by reference to facts.” In another popular text, Walter Nicholson similarly tells students: “‘Positive’ economists believe that one reason for the success of economics as a discipline is that it has been able to emulate successfully the positive approach taken by the physical sciences rather than becoming involved in the value-laden normative approach taken by some of the other social sciences.”
Economists’ insistence that their discipline is like physics sounds a little nervous. Did you ever hear a physicist boast to the world that that physics is like economics? More important, when they talk about economics this way, Samuelson, Nicholson, and other economists are misrepresenting what they do and what economics is. From Adam Smith to Karl Marx, from John Maynard Keynes to Milton Friedman, economists have sought to gain insight into economies by building models of them. They make simplified assumptions about the economic world we inhabit and construct imaginary economies—in other words, models—based on those assumptions. They use these imaginary economies to draw practical conclusions about the actual economies we inhabit.
Nearly everything economists do is based on some model. For example, the famous story that prices are determined by supply and demand is a model. Consider the price of oil. On the one hand, there is supposed to be an upward-sloping “supply curve”: the higher the price of oil rises, the more oil producers want to pump. This curve is an imaginary construct intended to describe the different amounts of oil that producers would pump at any given time, if oil prices were at different levels. On the other
hand, there is supposed to be a downward-sloping “demand curve”: the lower the price of oil falls, the more businesses and consumers want to buy. This curve is likewise an imaginary construct intended to describe the different amounts of oil that consumers and businesses would buy at any given time prices were at different levels. The point where the imaginary curves intersect—where the price is such that the amount of oil producers would pump just equals the amount of oil businesses and
consumers would buy—is supposed to determine the actual price of crude oil and the amount of oil that is pumped.
All we ever see is the point where the imaginary curves are supposed to intersect: the actual oil price. Nobody has ever seen supply or demand curves; they are models. They can be useful, but should not be mistaken for a literal picture of reality. If you trace, over time, the movement of actual gasoline prices versus consumption, you see loops and zigs and zags that don’t look anything like imagined supply and demand curves.
Moreover, some factors that affect oil prices are inconsistent with the model. For example, energy-intensive industries such as aluminum smelters may hedge against possible oil price increases by entering into contracts to buy oil at some fixed price at a given date in the future. Oil producers sell such contracts. They also speculate by buying such contracts. They have insider information about oil prices—if a platform explodes, the firm that owns it knows before the public gets the news—but are exempt from laws against insider trading. Alexander Elder, a commodities trader, describes visiting a friend at the trading desk of a multinational oil company: “After passing through security that was tighter than at Kennedy International Airport, I walked through glass-enclosed corridors. Clusters of men huddled around monitors trading oil products. When I asked my host whether his traders were hedging or speculating, he looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Yes.’ I asked him again and received the same answer.” When oil companies speculate on oil prices, they move prices, but there is no supply or demand curve. Sophisticated tests of the supply-and-demand model can be framed, but they depend on other models, some of them statistical, that can in turn be challenged.
Textbooks make economics sound like physics by blurring the distinction between the idealized world of models, which does behave like a physics, and the messy real economic world, which does not. To make sense of economics, you can never ignore the distinction. Not only does Samuelson fail to make this clear in his textbook; he doesn’t even explain what an economic model is. Oh, let me not exaggerate! In the thirteenth edition—the one I happen to have read—Samuelson and his coauthor, William Nordhaus, provide a brief definition of a model in an appendix, on page 977.
Blurring the ideal world of model economies with the complex world of real economies deeply confuses students. Some feel cheated, as if they were watching a magician put on a stage show, the workings of which are hidden from sight. Others like the stage show better than the messy everyday world. As students thus encounter economics, David Colander of Middlebury College laments, “They either love it and think economists have something to say that they aren’t saying, or they hate it and think economists have something to say that they aren’t saying.”
A model is never a full-dimensional hologram of real economies, but at best a partial two-dimensional perspective. Much that I say will be controversial, but this point should not be. Robert Lucas, one of the most creative model-builders, tells a story about his undergraduate encounter with Gregor Mendel’s model of genetic inheritance.6 He liked the Mendelian model—“you could work out predictions that would surprise you”—though not the lab work breeding fruit flies to test it. (Economists are not big on mucking around in the real world.) Over the weekend, he enjoyed writing a paper comparing the model’s predictions with the class’s experimental results. When a friend returned from a weekend away without having written the required paper, Lucas agreed to let the friend borrow from his. The friend remarked that Lucas had forgotten to discuss how “crossing-over” could explain the substantial discrepancies between the model and experimental results. “Crossing-over is b—s—,” Lucas told his friend, a “label for our ignorance.” He kept his paper’s focus on the unadorned Mendelian model, and added a section arguing that experimental errors could explain the discrepancies. His friend instead appended a section on crossing-over. His friend got an A. Lucas got a C-minus, with a comment: “This is a good report, but you forgot about crossing-over.” Crossing-over is actually a fact; it occurs when a portion of one parent gene is incorporated in the other parent gene. But
Lucas’s anecdote brilliantly illustrates the powerful temptation to model-builders—across the ideological spectrum—of ignoring inconvenient facts that don’t fit their models.
As Lucas says, “The construction of theoretical models is our way to bring order to the way we think about the world, but the process necessarily involves ignoring some evidence or alternative theories—setting them aside. That can be hard to do—facts are facts—and sometimes my unconscious mind carries out the abstraction for me: I simply fail to see some of the data or some alternative theory.” Often I disagree with Lucas, but I like the transparency with which he discusses models. He has said that a model is a “mechanical imitation economy,” a “robot imitation of people,” a “thought experiment.” It must be distinguished from reality because “in practice all axioms for models we can actually solve will be crude approximations at best, and determining which axioms produce reliable models will involve judgment, testing, and luck.”
Copyright 2012 Harvard University Press. Reprinted with express permission from the author.
Sun, 08/19/2012 - 20:44

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Corporate America Running Ads That Tap into Our Anxiety About the Hell They've Created for Us

Corporate America Running Ads That Tap into Our Anxiety About the Hell They've Created for Us:

This story originally appeared at Salon.
Big Industrial Ag pretends to go organic. PC behemoths mimic Apple products. Barack Obama goes to the right of the Republicans on civil liberties. Mitt Romney suddenly  portrays himself as a left-leaning moderate on immigration. It seems no matter the arena, the most cliched move in corporate and political combat is to co-opt an opponent’s message, expecting nobody to notice or care.
But as inured as we are to this banality, it’s still shocking to see corporate America transform the message of organized labor into a sales pitch for … corporate America. Yes, according to the New York Times last month, that’s what’s happening, as new ads are “tapping into a sense of frustration among workers to sell products.”
One spot for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (read: the casinos) shows a woman climbing onto her desk to demand a vacation. Another for McDonald’s implores us to fight back against employers and “overthrow the working lunch.” Still another for a Coca-Cola subsidiary seizes on the stress of harsh working conditions to create buzz for a branded “Take the Year Off” contest.
“Marketers are adopting the theme of workers’ rights at a time when unions themselves are confronting declines in membership and influence,” notes the Times. “In effect, some labor experts say, they are turning a pro-worker theme on its head to serve the corporate interest.”
In one sense, this is good news for organized labor — at a moment when unions are under assault, the ads reflect polls showing persistent mass support for both the concept of worker solidarity and the economic outrage voiced by worker protests. Indeed, companies wouldn’t be echoing such themes if they didn’t know they were wildly popular.
And yet, that’s also why organized labor can’t take too much solace. Image-wise, the ad campaign undermines unions by effectively severing the popular pro-worker message from the labor movement brand. Preposterously, the spots insinuate that workers can get better treatment — and wield real power in the employer-employee relationship — wholly without unions.
It’s a fantasy, of course. Not coincidentally, as union density in America has declined, so too have workers’ wages, benefits, workplace protections and negotiating power. Additionally, as the Economic Policy Institute documents, unions not only help their own members, they set industry-wide standards. So when unions lose ground, all workers lose out.
The ads imply the opposite by suggesting that individual workers don’t need solidarity (i.e., collective bargaining, unions, etc.) to get ahead, and what’s particularly galling is that this message comes from interests that have been hostile to the labor movement.
For example, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority may ostensibly speak for a city with a comparatively high union density – but that’s not because that city’s key tourism industry is friendly to labor. On the contrary, the casino industry has often led vicious fights against unions.
McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are even worse. While the former touts the virtues of lunch breaks — workplace benefits standardized through labor movement activism — journalist Eric Schlosser has documented the fast food company’s aggressive union busting. Meanwhile, the beverage conglomerate advertising the need for more worker vacations — again, benefits originally secured through labor organizing — has fought organizing drives in the United States and has faced international outrage over alleged anti-union violence abroad.
Put it all together, and you see the sleight of hand: In the same way rapacious oil companies try to green-wash their brands to align them with environmental sentiment, the particular industries and companies airing these ads are subtly “worker-washing” their brands in an attempt to equate themselves with populist economic outrage.
That they can accomplish this with so few noticing proves that in the age of truthiness, anything can be corporatized — even the anti-corporate zeitgeist.
Sun, 08/26/2012 - 05:00

This is our opinion and feelings about the the posts added to this blog by ourselves and writers who have asked to write on our blog network and does not necessarily represent our agreement or disagreement with the writers concerned.Please add #AceNewsServices to your tweets and follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/AceFinanceNews  Thank you, Ian

Thursday, 16 August 2012

OFT revokes payday lender’s licence and imposes penalty of over half a million pounds

OFT revokes payday lender’s licence and imposes penalty of over half a million pounds: The OFT has imposed a £544,505 financial penalty on the online payday lender MCO Capital Limited for breaching the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, including its failure to adequately verify the identities of loan applicants.

This is our opinion and feelings about the the posts added to this blog by ourselves and writers who have asked to write on our blog network and does not necessarily represent our agreement or disagreement with the writers concerned.Please send your email to AceNewsDesk with your News and Views or follow us on twitter at #AceFinanceNews 

Win One of Three Canvas Shop 30×40” Canvas Prints Valued at $204 Each

Win One of Three Canvas Shop 30×40” Canvas Prints Valued at $204 Each:
Win One of Three Canvas Shop 30x40 Canvas Prints Valued at $204 Each canvasshop
Time for our giveaway o’ the week! This week we’re giving away three (3) large canvas prints from LA-based Canvas Shop. The canvases measure 30x40x1.5-inches, and ordinarily cost $204 each. Three randomly selected winners will each win one print for showing off their favorite photo on their wall.

Here’s a video that shows the love that goes into each of the beautiful prints:


This giveaway will be done through Facebook using the simple sweepstakes app we’ve been using. Entering is super easy. Here’s how:

#1: Make Sure You’re a Fan

This giveaway is open to fans of our Facebook page. If you aren’t one, simply click “Like” below:

#2: Enter the Giveaway

Visit the contest page on Facebook or use the form below (reload this page if you had to do Step #1). We’re asking that you enter your email address so that we can contact you if you win. The email won’t be used for any other purpose:

#3 (Optional): Share for More Entries!

Once you enter the contest, you’ll be given a special link to it. Every time someone enters the contest through your special link, you’ll be given another two additional entries and a better chance to win the prize!

Rules & Details

This contest will end on August 20, 2012 at midnight. A winner will be selected randomly from all the entries, and his or her name will be displayed on this page (and on the contest page).
The giveaway is open to readers outside the US as well, and shipping will be free!
Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

A big thanks to Canvas Shop for providing the prizes for this giveaway!

ED - says best of luck and let me know your news an views of contest? 


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Build a DIY Bluetooth GPS Unit for Your Nikon DSLR

Build a DIY Bluetooth GPS Unit for Your Nikon DSLR:
Build a DIY Bluetooth GPS Unit for Your Nikon DSLR gps mini
Israeli photographer Ido Nassimi wanted to geotag the photographs shot using his Nikon D90, but didn’t want to shell out $200 bucks for Nikon’s official GP-1 GPS receiver. Since he had a GPS Bluetooth receiver lying around, he decided to do some research and make it compatible with his DSLR. He ended up successfully building one for around $50.

For his components, Nassimi used a camera connection cord salvaged from a cheap shutter release cable, a Bluetooth modem, a USB2.0 to RS232 converter, his GPS receiver, and a simple box to house everything in after it’s assembled.
While the parts list is relatively small and simple, putting everything together requires a moderate amount of knowledge in electronics. If that’s your cup of tea, head on over to DYIP for the step-by-step tutorial.
Build A Bluetooth GPS Unit For Nikon Cameras [DIYPhotography]

Image credit: Photograph by Ido Nassimi


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Beware Craigslist Scammers Hunting for Gullible Wedding Photographers

Beware Craigslist Scammers Hunting for Gullible Wedding Photographers:
Beware Craigslist Scammers Hunting for Gullible Wedding Photographers wedding mini
If you’re a photographer looking for a gig on Craigslist, be careful. As with virtually all the types of “help wanted” listings found on the site, requests for photography services are often used by scammers as a way of luring the naive. Scammers also regularly send out emails to photographers advertising their services.

Here’s how a typical scam might work:
First, you’re introduced to a photography gig that seems perfect for you. The pay is great, and you feel qualified to do everything that’s asked.
The client is friendly, and all the arrangements seems to be moving forward at a fast clip.
However, buried among all the details is the fact that the client wants to pay you up front with a cashiers check. That’s the big red flag. It’s the old Nigerian 419 scam.
Here’s an actual example of a scam email, received recently by by a photographer named Anthony Perlas:
Hello ,
Thanks for the quick response and I’m sorry if my message came in late , i have been busy with other arrangements and i hope you understand .Its really nice reading from you and im glad to hear that you are available for my wedding .
I want you to know that this is a inside wedding and the order of events will mail to you a week before the wedding day but the order events is likely to be pictures first, then the wedding ceremony , and then the reception but let me discuss this with my lady because is our wedding so our two has to make the decision together . I hope you understand my point of view.
I want you to know that we will be taking formal pictures so i will like you to recommend 45minutes or an hour set aside for taking formal pictures because we have large family from both my side and the bride side and friends /co-workers we will want to take pictures with . So it will be easier if we can take the pictures before the ceremony because it will be more relaxed with fewer time constraints and would like you to set up a great “first look” shot of me looking at my bride for the first time on the wedding day.
the wedding date is [REMOVED]th of sept 2012
Basically we need your service starting from 12pm to 6pm .
We are expecting 250 guests i.e 200 adults and 50 children .
And also there will be a table place set for you at the reception , so you don’t need to bring your own food but it will be nice if you can just give me an hint of what kind of food you want us to arrange for you i.e if you are vegetarian or eat all kind of foods .
Further more , there will be special important parts/people at the ceremony or reception that i would want you to take a picture of .I will send the list of the important parts/people to you a week before the wedding day and i want you to know that my wedding is a sleek modern wedding .
I need you to get back to me with your charges and i will be paying you upfront , I just called my uncle who will be in charge of your service fees he told me that your payment will be paid to you via certified check so he has asked me to ask for your full name and physical address with zip code that you want the payment to be send to so as for me to secure your service for my wedding party.
I’m currently on working on off shore and im using impaired device ,so therefore i can only send message via internet or send you an sms from my pinger ..
I will send you the venue address once you agree to everything i stated above and also waiting for the details to issue on the check…
Will be expecting to read back from you with the details I have asked for thanks so much and God bless.
Regards,
[REMOVED]
If you were gullible and took the bait, here’s how the rest of the con would play out:
After receiving a substantial cashiers check that mysteriously exceeds what your asking price was — a check that appears to be guaranteed by a bank (i.e. almost as good as cash) — you deposit it and follow the clients instructions on sending the difference back to them.
Once you do so, your bank finally informs you that the check was fake, and therefore failed to clear. At this point, your real money was already shipped off to the scammer, and you might even be held responsible for the fraudulent check.
Game over. You lose.
Beware Craigslist Scammers Hunting for Gullible Wedding Photographers scam mini
An actual fake cashiers check sent by a Craigslist scammer
If you know about these scams, you’re unlikely to fall victim to one of them. The reason is because they’re designed by the scammers to be obvious scams.
Microsoft researcher Corman Herley recently did a study on this type of scam, and published a fascinating paper titled “Why do Nigerian Scammers Say They are from Nigeria?“.
He found that one of the reasons they work so well is because they’re so obviously fraudulent. Since the scam is so well known and the emails so ludicrous, only the most clueless, gullible, and naive people respond — precisely the kind of people that actually fork over large amounts of money to strangers.
Making scam emails — and Craigslist listings — more believable actually backfires on scammers, since they then need to spend more time convincing less gullible people that they’re not being scammed. Why do that when they can easily target the perfect victim?
Thus, the same Craigslist listing that is so head-slappingly obvious to you is the same one that’s actually working on other innocent photographers looking for a gig to pay their bills.
Please do share this with all the clueless photographers you know — it might save them a pretty penny.

Image credit: cashier’s check scam by cafemama


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Thursday, 9 August 2012

FTC Seeks Comments on Additional Proposed Revisions to Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule

FTC Seeks Comments on Additional Proposed Revisions to Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule:
Privowiki main page screenshot
Privowiki main page screenshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
FTC Seeks Comments on Additional Proposed Revisions to Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule
Children’s On-line Privacy Protection Rule has not changed since 1999 and this will be the first real overall of the system.
With the rise of social media ever on our mind it has become a matter of not just how ,we protect our children! But the fact we must at all costs shield them from the type of people who will at any cost, exploit their social appetite for such sites as Facebook and the like!
As the rise of social media has grown to obtain every extra morsel of information about our lives, it has led to many cases of children being exploited for gain! As in the past we have moaned and tried to stop our children consuming sugary drinks or eating quick snacks and we failed.
This time it is different and we must act now and l welcome any changes that will strengthen this act and provide a way to protect their fragile minds!
This time we must not fail them, they are our future!
via FTC Seeks Comments on Additional Proposed Revisions to Children’s On-line Privacy Protection Rule.
Related articles

Filed under: Ace News Desk, Ace Social News Tagged: Child, children, Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, coppa, Facebook, Federal Trade Commission, ftc, Internet privacy, Personally identifiable information, privacy, Security, social-media

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3D Printed "Magic Arms" Help Little Girl Give Hugs, Demonstrate How Technology Can Change Lives And Maybe The World

3D Printed "Magic Arms" Help Little Girl Give Hugs, Demonstrate How Technology Can Change Lives And Maybe The World:
Best use of 3D Printing. Ever.

Ed Says! How wonderful we can use technology for the greater good of the human race, instead of wasting time producing ever more superfluous products! That will not save anyone or provide a smile like her, that will last in our memory forever!  

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