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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Foreclosed borrowers may receive payments

On March 18, 2013, more than 4.2 million people were sent notices about payments they will receive as a result of an agreement between federal banking regulators and 13 mortgage servicers. The payments range from $300 to $125,000 each.

The settlement includes eligible borrowers whose mortgages were serviced by Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, Morgan Stanley, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo. In January 2013, these 13 mortgage servicing companies reached an agreement in principle with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve Board to pay more than $9.3 billion in cash payments and other assistance to help borrowers.

The settlement concluded the Independent Foreclosure Review for these 13 servicers and will result in $3.6 billion in cash payments to nearly 4.2 million eligible borrowers and $5.7 billion in additional assistance.

A payment agent will be appointed to administer payments to borrowers on behalf of the servicers. Borrowers will not be required to execute a waiver of any legal claims they may have against their servicer as a condition for receiving payment. In addition, the servicers' internal complaint process will remain available to borrowers.

For borrowers with mortgage loans with the following servicers: EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company, Financial Freedom (OneWest), GMAC Mortgage, and IndyMac Mortgage Services (OneWest), the Independent Foreclosure Review process continues.

Watch out for scams. Borrowers who have questions about their eligibility or contact information can call the toll-free Independent Foreclosure Review number at 1-888-952-9105.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New Zealand best country for business

Forbes Magazine has listed New Zealand #1 as far as business goes, followed by Denmark and Hong Kong. According to  staff writer Kurt Badenhausen, the United States has fallen to 12th place, mainly due to statutory corporate tax rates and complex tax codes. (

According to the CIA Factbook, New Zealand has transformed from an agrarian economy to a more industrialized, free market economy over the last 20 years, however, it is not an economic panacea. "Per capita income rose for ten consecutive years until 2007 in purchasing power parity terms, but fell in 2008-09. ...The government plans to raise productivity growth and develop infrastructure, while reining in government spending."

The country suffered two major earthquake events in 2010 and 2011, and census data collection was postponed until March 2013.

Major problems in New Zealand cited by the CIA include disputes over the Ross Dependency territorial claim to a significant consumer amphetamine drug problem.
Graphic: Realm_of_New_Zealand.png - Sesmith, 2011-01-13 07:24 (UTC)

"Year of Ghana" events being held in Georgia

Kennesaw State University will host a three-day international conference and business forum featuring Ghanaian economics on March 21-23 in Social Sciences Building #22 at 1000 Chastain Road in Kennesaw, Ga.beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Up for discussion will be Ghana's status as a model for democratic governance, economic growth and sustainable development. Speakers will include Daniel Ohene Agyekum, Ghana’s ambassador to the U.S.; George Ayittey, president, Free Africa Foundation; Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, national security coordinator, Republic of Ghana; and others.

Additional topics to be discussed include investing, national security, health care, economic landscape, sociopolitical change, and the role of women in the West African nation.

Called the "Gateway to Africa" with vast amounts of natural wealth, the former "Gold Coast" became the first black nation in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve independence from British colonial rule under the leadership of the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah on March 6, 1957.

These events are co-sponsored by the Koch Foundation, Coca Cola, Divine Chocolate, etc.

For more information and to register for these events, visit

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Best advice for college students: get the help you need

When I was in college, I went atop the campus watchtower and contemplated suicide when I found out my boyfriend had been cheating on me. Looking backward, I remember thinking to myself, "Hey, that is really going to hurt," and climbed down.  I was lucky. My temporary death wish, however, did not include picking up a semi-automatic weapon and aiming it at the innocent.

My son, a recent college graduate, dated a girl that cut herself. How did I handle it? I wrote her name on a piece of paper and put it in my bible.  Fortunately, he didn't get the girl pregnant, and they broke up. I often wonder about that girl and if she ever got the help she needed.

So many students are in pain and want to kill themselves and others.  Many cannot cope with relationships and stress from having to make passing grades.

Students must step up and seek help on campus.
Mary Morris-Billings, a licensed professional counselor, says students should take advantage of help when they need it.

"I encourage all young people attending college or university to be aware of all available resources on campus, especially counseling resources," said Morris-Billlings, M.S. and  former director of Counseling & Development at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville. "Counseling centers are an important part of the university, university life, and the university experience.

"Whether you’re homesick, dealing with relationship issues, experiencing test and/or social anxiety or something even more challenging; the university counseling center is a great resource to assist students in addressing and resolving problems," Morris-Billings continued. "Counseling can make a positive difference in your life as well as your college experience. 

"Don’t pass up the opportunity to utilize counseling services.  You’ll be glad that you stepped up and secured the assistance you desired and needed.  Try counseling.  It helps."

CDC says prepare for Spring and unpredictable weather

Photo: A lightening strikeTomorrow is the first day of Spring, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges people to be prepared for disasters which accompany thunderstorms, lightning, tornadoes, and floods.
You should have on hand:
  • A battery-operated flashlight, a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio, and extra batteries for both
  • An emergency evacuation plan, including a map of your home and, for every type of severe weather emergency, routes to safety from each room; an emergency kit in your car
  • A list of important personal information
  • A first aid kit including, personal hygiene items, blankets/sleeping bags
  • A 3–5 day supply of bottled water and nonperishable food

Monday, March 18, 2013

Greek Orthodox pray for Cyprus; Great Lent begins

Clergy and members of the Greek Orthodox Church are praying for people in Cyprus and raising donations to help the poor in Greece during Great Lent which starts today.

Calling the financial situation "very bad" for people in his birthplace of Cyprus, Father Panayiotis Papageorgiou on Sunday urged members at Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Marietta, Ga. to pray, fast, and repent.

Papageorgiou said citizens of Cyprus are being told that 10% of their savings in bank accounts would be given to the government. Fox News is reporting that banks closed today and may not reopen until Thursday because of a recent run by depositors pulling out funds.

Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is a member of the European Union.

For more information on the  financial crisis in Cyprus, go to:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Private school enrollment down in United States

Over the last decade, fewer children attended private schools and more enrolled in charter schools, according to a working paper published by Stephanie Ewert, U.S. Census Bureau, who researches social issues.

Although  private schools provide certain benefits to children which may be unavailable in public schools - such as special academic programs, extracurricular activities, religious education, smaller class size and student-teacher ratios -  child abuse, rising tuition costs, and growth in the number of charter schools are factors listed for declining enrollment.

According to the report, Catholic school systems  are struggling due to changing demographics of the Catholic population and sex abuse scandals. In 1960, 5.2 million students were enrolled in 13,000 Catholic schools in the U.S. In 2006, only 2.3 million students were enrolled in 7,500 Catholic schools.

Other factors listed for the decline in private school enrollment are linked to the recession and an increase in home schooling.

The report focused on the decline in private school enrollment of non-Hispanic whites, however, and no clear patterns of blacks and Asians in private schools over the period were examined. 

To read the full report, go to:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mobile payment users seek answers on transaction security, service

According to MasterCard Worldwide, Prime Research has released the first global Mobile Payments Social Media Study tracking 85,000 related social media comments on Twitter, Facebook, online blogs and forums in 43 markets across North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Rim.

The study shows a high volume of conversation and consumer interest in adopting mobile payments but cites security, customer support and confusion over the array of options available today as barriers to entry.

Highlights of the study:
  • Social media commentary concerning mobile payment technology among Early Adopters is mixed in tone (58% positive/factual) while those yet to adopt are more positive overall (76% positive/factual). Most posts praised aspects including innovation, convenience and speed.
  • European users are the most vocal in expressing opinions about mobile payment technology overall followed closely by Asia-Pacific and the United States. The most positive regions overall are Asia-Pacific (China and Australia) and the United States while the most skeptical regions overall are Europe (France, UK) and Canada.
  • Across the Latin America and Caribbean regions, non-adopters express a need for clarification on the mobile payment technologies offered as well as a clearer understanding of the cost implications mobile payments may have on their current lifestyles. While adopters mention convenience as a benefit, they also convey concerns for the safety of their payment information.
  • China, Thailand, Australia, Japan and Singapore are the most active countries in mobile payment discussions across Asia. Of statements presenting unique commentary, users discuss product experiences and ask questions or share opinions about news stories originating in traditional print and broadcast media.
  • Discussions in the Middle East and Africa tend to either retell or redistribute stories which originate in traditional media with the highest shares of discussion stemming from South Africa, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Nigeria.
  • In the United States, users show interest in the compatibility of mobile payments with other payment systems during the transaction process. Other drivers of discussion center on value, longer-term benefits, as well as security. Similarly, conversations stemming from Canada present similar priorities despite lower volume.

Monday, March 11, 2013

GE announces cybersecurity management system

As North Korea ramps up tensions against the U.S., GE has announced the availability of a cybersecurity management and monitoring system specifically designed to help guard substation power system assets from issues or outages occurring as a result of malicious attacks. 

The product is CyberSentry SEM Security Event Manager.
“Cybersecurity has become a concern for any business that uses advanced computing and communications technology, such as utility and energy intensive industrial companies,” said Bala Vinayagam, marketing director, Grid Automation, GE’s Digital Energy business. “CyberSentry SEM ensures that changes to the configuration of a protection and control system are flagged and investigated. It also provides users with a detailed report of what changes have been made and how to resolve the cybersecurity issue at hand.”
If a problem is detected, the system provides alerts using its industry standard Syslog technology. In addition to detailing the problem and providing a solution, the report equips operators with essential evidence, proving their protection and control systems are in compliance with cybersecurity audit requirements. CyberSentry SEM also can make legacy GE systems compliant to today’s cybersecurity regulations and standards.
From protecting and optimizing assets such as generators, transmission lines and motors, to ensuring secure wireless data transmission and providing uninterrupted power, GE’s Digital Energy business delivers industry-leading technologies to solve the unique challenges of each customer. For more information, visit

(Photo by Tomi Johnson)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hugo Chavez called it like he saw it

After class at the church annex last night, I mentioned to my husband that I always feel tense after spiritual discussions. "When you talk, there is tension in the pause, and things become tense because we're not sure what you're going to say, but you say things that others are thinking but are afraid to voice themselves," he informed me.

Perhaps the late Venezuelan President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was just that kind of leader. Chavez caused tension with words even though he was stating the truth as he saw it. Terms linked to Chavez include tactless, offensive, insensitive, truthful, and honest to a fault. He was wired like that!

Chavez, 58, died yesterday and has gone to be judged by his Maker.

In a land where "free speech" is considered a right, Chavez was vilified by some Americans because of remarks he made in a 2006 speech before the United Nations which insinuated that President George W. Bush was a satanic, racist imperialist.

“Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world," Chavez said in his speech. "Truly. As the owner of the world...Wherever he looks, he sees extremists...He looks at your color, and he says, 'Oh, there’s an extremist.'" After his remarks about Bush smelling like sulfur, Chavez made the sign of the cross to ward off evil.

A man's words can sometimes create damnation. It has been proven, though, if you don't say what you think, disease can result. Maybe Chavez's cancer developed after he was attacked by politicians and the media. Because of his attacks on Bush individually and the U.S. collectively, he became a target himself. Because Chavez governed a country with the largest oil reserves in the world, some believe that he was killed by economic hit men.

Perhaps God only knows the facts behind the life and words of Hugo Chavez.

Photo credit: José Cruz/ABr. produced by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency. "Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil " (The content of this website is published under the Creative Commons License Attribution 3.0 Brazil

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Deltas celebrate women's suffrage while Voting Rights Act discussed in Supreme Court

Photo provided by Sharon Roper Jackson
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.'s members have come full circle. When they were founded in 1913 at Howard University, one of their first acts was to support the Women's Suffrage Movement. They converged on the nation's Capitol from every state on March 3, 2013 to support voting rights and continue the celebration of their organization's centennial.

The theme for their latest march: "Tracing the footsteps of our founders."

Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander - June 1921
One of their heroines is co-founder Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, the first black to receive a Ph.D in economics in the U.S. who also was the first woman to receive a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  One of Alexander's famous quotes documented in the Philadelphia Daily News was, "In a large system, your shining examples cannot just be islands unto themselves."

Deltas are members of the second major Greek sorority founded by African American women on a U.S. campus. The thrust of their service is to help communities by managing projects aimed at educational, economic, and political development. 

Sharon Roper Jackson poses in front of Capitol, giving the pyramid sign.
To learn more about this non-profit, go to:

Deltas marched in parade while Voting Rights Act was being debated in the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo provided by Sharon Roper Jackson
Alexander photo credit:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Potatoes two cents a pound in 1913; price now eight times higher when buying in bulk

A lot has changed in the last 100 years since your great grandma was shopping for groceries, and the U.S. Department of Labor has documented those changes. In 1913, great grandma was buying potatoes at $.02 per lbs. You can expect to pay between $.15 and $.66 per pound for potatoes depending on whether you buy 50 lbs. or 2 lbs. of potatoes - it's cheaper to buy in bulk!

To examine prices over time, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has Consumer Price Index (CPI) data going back to January 1913 and a few average prices going back to at least that far.

Here are some other interesting facts of changes...

By 2013, flour had replaced potatoes as the cheapest item per pound among the items tracked. And while potatoes remain among the cheapest food items today, potato prices have increased over 39-fold since 1913, the sharpest rate of increase seen of the items tracked over the past century.

Of the items listed on a per pound basis, butter was the most expensive in 1913, selling for slightly more than 40 cents per pound. By 2013, prices for coffee, steak (round and sirloin), chuck roast, bacon, and cheese were all significantly higher than butter.

Of the average price items listed, egg prices have increased the least, up about 5-fold in the last century, as advances in production, delivery, and storage techniques have outpaced those seen for most other food items.

To read more, go to:

Carlos Slim Helu: the "real" most interesting man in the world

Helu is said to be worth between $69 and $74 billion.

This photograph was produced by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency.
Their website states: "Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil "
(The content of this website is published under the Creative Commons License Attribution 3.0 Brazil)

Black billionaires, according to Forbes

Nigeria's Dangote is the richest black man in the world, but Mexico's Helu is six times richer. Photo: World Economic Summit

Of the 1,426 people "who control the global economy," better known as the world's billionnaires from the Forbes Magazine list, there are only four blacks who stand out. Dangote of Nigeria is the richest, Mostepe is the youngest, and Winfrey is the only black billionaire who is also female and single.

# 43 - Aliko Dangote

Net Worth 

$16.1 B As of March 2013
  • Source of Wealth: cement, sugar, flour, self-made
  • Country of Citizenship: Nigeria 

#267 - Mike Adenuga

Net Worth
$4.7 B As of March 2013
Age: 59
  • Source of Wealth: telcom, oil, self-made
  • Country of Citizenship: Nigeria 

# 490 - Patrice Motsepe

Net Worth
$2.9 B As of March 2013
  • Age: 51
  • Source of Wealth: mining, self-made
  • Country of Citizenship: South Africa

# 503 - Oprah Winfrey

Net Worth
$2.8 B As of March 2013
Age: 59
  • Source of Wealth: television, self-made
  • Country of Citizenship: United States
For more information on the world's wealthiest people, go to:

Photo Source

Friday, March 1, 2013

Food for thought...

"Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of illhealth; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood."