Canada’s warrantless surveillance bill is back, and bigger than ever, with surveillance powers for US gov’t, too

Internet surveillance 45654

Authorities are doing their best to clamp down on the internet.

Bill C30, the sweeping Canadian warrantless Internet surveillance bill, is back from the dead. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews (who declared that opposition to his bill was tantamount to support for pedophiles) has been working behind the scenes to resurrect his legislation, joining forces with the US government in the name of “perimeter security.” This proposed deal would expand the warrantless surveillance to US authorities, who could also access Canadians’ private information…

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Consumers Paying Their Credit Card Bills Before Their Mortgage

a new study shows that many people, when faced with a financial crisis, are not putting their mortgages first.
TransUnion, one of the big credit bureaus, recently released a report showing that an increasing number of consumers are choosing to pay their credit card bills before their monthly mortgages.
My grandmother Big Mama had a key financial rule that I’ve followed throughout my life.
You can manage without a telephone, she would say. You can take the bus and get by without a car. But you can’t live comfortably if you don’t have a roof over your head. Big Mama always made sure she paid her mortgage — and on time.
Thankfully, Big Mama, who raised me, never had to skip payment on another bill to cover her mortgage. If it had come to that, there’s no question which bill would have been paid first.
But a new study shows that many people, when faced with a financial crisis, are not putting their mortgages first.
TransUnion, one of the big credit bureaus, recently released a report showing that an increasing number of consumers are choosing to pay their credit card bills before their monthly mortgages.
The percentage of people delinquent on their mortgages but current on credit cards jumped to 6.6 percent in the third quarter of 2009, up from 4.9 percent in the third quarter of 2008.
“I think the biggest message that the data shows is that consumers’ priorities have changed,” said Sean Reardon, the author of the TransUnion study and a consultant for the credit bureau. “This is really a reflection of the housing bubble bursting and the ripple effect of the recession.”
The percentage of consumers current on their credit cards but delinquent on their mortgages first surpassed the percentage of consumers up to date on their mortgages but delinquent on their credit cards in the first quarter of 2008, according to TransUnion.
“The implosion of the mortgage industry over the last 24 months, the resetting of adjustable-rate mortgages and the weak job market have all come together to redefine how consumers are managing their finances and meeting or not meeting their credit obligations,” said Ezra Becker, director of consulting and strategy in TransUnion’s financial services business unit.
Many people see their credit card as an emergency source of funds. They may not be able to afford a mortgage payment, but they can make a minimum credit card payment. For them, it’s not about buying flat-panel televisions or toys for their kids. Instead, they are using credit to buy food or gas or pay for other basic necessities. When faced with a choice at bill-paying time, they are opting to pay their credit card accounts so that reservoir of money doesn’t get snatched away.
For the study, TransUnion looked at consumers who had at least one credit card and one mortgage. The company examined 30-day credit card and mortgage delinquency data.
The shifts in payment behavior are even more pronounced in California and Florida, two states that have experienced high foreclosure rates and significant decreases in home prices.
TransUnion found that the percentage of consumers in California who are delinquent on their mortgages but current on their credit cards was 10.2 percent in the third quarter of 2009, up from 3.5 percent in 2007. In Florida, it increased to 12.4 percent from 5.1 percent.
The financial news continues to be troubling, signaling that this trend might not turn around soon. For the week ended Jan. 30, the Labor Department said the number of laid-off workers filing initial claims for unemployment benefits was 480,000, up 8,000 from the previous week. Forecasters expected new claims would drop.
A record 2.8 million U.S. properties received foreclosure notices in 2009, up 21 percent from 2008 and 120 percent from 2007, according to a 2009 year-end report from RealtyTrac, which tracks foreclosure activity throughout the country.
“In the long term, a massive supply of delinquent loans continues to loom over the housing market, and many of those delinquencies will end up in the foreclosure process in 2010 and beyond as lenders gradually work their way through the backlog,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive of RealtyTrac.
Reardon said in an interview that many people are figuring that they may lose their homes, so they reason: Why pump more money into the mortgage? They cling to the notion that the plastic is their savior.
“It used to be people kept cash in the coffee can for an emergency,” Reardon said. “But times have changed. People don’t have coffee cans. Plastic has become their coffee can.”
I hope this trend is only temporary. Relying on your credit card is like having a life jacket with a slow leak. It may keep you afloat for a little while, but the protection is short-term. You’ll still sink.
Via Washington Post

Paying Bills 783

A record 2.8 million home owners received foreclosure notices in 2009

A new study shows that many people, when faced with a financial crisis, are not putting their mortgages first.

TransUnion, one of the big credit bureaus, recently released a report showing that an increasing number of consumers are choosing to pay their credit card bills before their monthly mortgages.

Continue reading… “Consumers Paying Their Credit Card Bills Before Their Mortgage”

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‘Project Wanted Horse’

‘Project Wanted Horse’ 

This year, as a humanitarian effort, the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) and the Aminal Welfare Institute (AWI) launched ‘Project Wanted Horse,” assuring that any horse rescued from slaughter or an abuse situation would be placed on one of 94,000 NBFA farms across the country. Del Camino Equestrian Enterprises Inc., which takes a very special interest in “senior” horses has honored the NFBA its 2008 Best Humane Business Innovation Award for its commitment to senior horses.

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Bailout Provides Broader Mental Health Coverage

Bailout Provides Broader Mental Health Coverage

Representative Patrick J. Kennedy speaking at a rally in March on Capitol Hill. Mr. Kennedy
and Representative Jim Ramstad, third from left, led the fight in the House for mental health parity.

More than one-third of all Americans will soon receive better insurance coverage for mental health treatments because of a new law that, for the first time, requires equal coverage of mental and physical illnesses.

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Gates Issues Call For “Creative Capitalism”

 Gates Issues Call For “Creative Capitalism”

The battle between the “thinkers” and the “do-ers” takes shape

Capitalism has improved the lives of billions of people — something that’s easy to forget at a time of great economic uncertainty. But it has left out billions more. They have great needs, but they can’t express those needs in ways that matter to markets. So they are stuck in poverty, suffer from preventable diseases and never have a chance to make the most of their lives.

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Patent Reform Bill Won’t Clean Up Patent Mess

Patent Reform Bill Won’t Clean Up Patent Mess

Dog Powered Car

Ars Technica analyzes the Patent Reform Act that has passed the House and is being debated in the Senate. Unfortunately for those longing for real, meaningful patent reform, the bill comes up short in some significant ways. Despite the heated rhetoric on both sides, it is unclear if the legislation will do much to fix the most serious flaws in the patent system.

A series of appeals court rulings in the 1990s greatly expanded patentable subject matter, making patents on software, business methods, and other abstract concepts unambiguously legal for the first time.

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