1909 Ballinger-Pinchot scandal erupts

by Shelton on December 5th, 2014

filed under Car Lending

Thursday November 13, 2014 the 315th day and 45th week of 2014, there are 52 days and 7 weeks left in the year. Highlights of today in world history
1909 Ballinger-Pinchot scandal erupts
The Ballinger-Pinchot scandal erupted when Colliers magazine accused Secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger of shady dealings in Alaskan coal lands. It is, in essence, a conflict rooted in contrasting ideas about how to best use and conserve western natural resources.
Ballinger was an appointee of President William Taft, the man who had succeeded the committed conservationist President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt had developed most of his environmentally friendly policies with the assistance of his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot. By 1909, Roosevelt, Pinchot, and other conservationists feared that Taft, though a fellow Republican, and Ballinger were systematically undermining the accomplishments of the previous administration by reopening to exploitation public lands that had been closed.
The Colliers article charged that Ballinger improperly used his office to help the Guggenheims and other powerful interests illegally gain access to Alaskan coal fields, confirming the worst fears of Pinchot and Roosevelt. Despite the fact that he had stayed on as chief forester in the Taft administration, Pinchot began to criticize openly both Ballinger and Taft, claiming they were violating the fundamental principles of both conservation and democracy. Livid with anger, Taft immediately fired Pinchot, inspiring yet another round of scandalous headlines.
The controversy over the Ballinger-Pinchot affair soon became a major factor in splitting the Republican Party. After returning from an African safari, Roosevelt concluded that Taft had so badly betrayed the ethics of conservation that he had to be ousted. Roosevelt mounted an unsuccessful challenge to Taft on the independent Bull Moose ticket in 1912. In truth, subsequent scholarship has shown that Ballinger had not technically misused the power of his office and the charges of corruption were unjustified. However, the Ballinger-Pinchot scandal reflected the ongoing tension between those who emphasized the immediate use of natural resources and those who wanted them conserved for the future, a discussion that remains active today.
1945 Truman announces inquiry into Jewish settlement in Palestine
On this day in 1945, President Harry Trumanannounced the establishment of a panel of inquiry to look into the settlement of Jews in Palestine.
In the last weeks of World War II, the Allies liberated one death camp after another in which the German Nazi regime had held and slaughtered millions of Jews. Surviving Jews in the formerly Nazi-occupied territories were left without family, homes, jobs or savings.
In August 1945, Truman received the Harrison report, which detailed the plight of Jews in post-war Germany, and it became clear to him that something had to be done to speed up the process of finding Jewish refugees a safe place to live.
In late August, Truman contacted British Prime Minister Clement Attlee to propose that Jewish refugees be allowed to immigrate to Palestine, which at the time was occupied by Britain. Attlee responded that he would look into the matter and asked for a joint Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry to examine the complicated issue of integrating Jewish settlers into territory that was home to an Arab majority. Meanwhile, two US senators introduced a resolution in Congress demanding the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
In April 1946, the committee issued its report, which recommended the immigration of 100,000 Jewish refugees to Palestine. Truman wrote to Attlee for his help in moving the repatriation process forward. However, by mid-1946, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff had weighed in, bringing up the question of who would control the lucrative oil fields in a region that had the potential for unstable political and cultural relations between Jews and Arabs. Since the threat of communist expansion into politically unstable regions then dictated most of US foreign policy, Truman and Attlee became convinced by their respective military advisors that Jewish communist sympathizers in a new Jewish state might jeopardize the west’s access to Middle Eastern oil. The settlement plans were put on hold.
Truman was again inundated with requests for help from the Jewish community. The issue of the establishment of a Jewish state was debated and delayed for another two years even though the newly formed United Nations, which had no enforcement power without the participation of the United Statesand Great Britain, had decided in favour of a Jewish state by 1946.
1953 Indiana Textbook Commission member charges that Robin Hood is communistic
In an example of the absurd lengths to which the Red Scare in America is going, Mrs. Thomas J. White of the IndianaTextbook Commission calls for the removal of references to the book Robin Hood from textbooks used by the state’s schools. Mrs. Young claimed that there was a Communist directive in education now to stress the story of Robin Hood because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor. That’s the Communist line. It’s just a smearing of law and order and anything that disrupts law and order is their meat. She went on to attack Quakers because they don’t believe in fighting wars. This philosophy, she argued, played into communist hands. Though she later stated that she never argued for the removal of texts mentioning the story from school textbooks, she continued to claim that the take from the rich and give to the poor theme was the Communist’s favourite policy. Reacting to criticisms of her stance, she countered that, Because I’m trying to get Communist writers out of textbooks, my name is mud. Evidently I’m drawing blood or they wouldn’t make such an issue out of it. The response to Mrs. White’s charges was mixed.
Indiana Governor George Craig came to the defence of Quakers, but backed away from getting involved in the textbook issue. The state superintendent of education went so far as to reread the book before deciding that it should not be banned. However, he did feel that Communists have gone to work twisting the meaning of the Robin Hood legend. The Indianapolis superintendent of schools also did not want the book banned, claiming that he could not find anything particularly subversive about the story. In the Soviet Union, commentators had a field day with the story. One joked that the enrolment of Robin Hood in the Communist Party can only make sensible people laugh. The current sheriff of Nottingham was appalled, crying, Robin Hood was no communist.
As silly as the episode seems in retrospect, the attacks on freedom of expression during the Red Scare in the United Statesresulted in a number of books being banned from public libraries and schools during the 1950sand 1960sbecause of their supposedly subversive content. Such well known books as John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo, were just some of the books often pulled from shelves. Hollywood films also felt the pressure to conform to more suitably all-American themes and stories, and rock and roll music was decried by some as communist-inspired
1955 Police search John Graham’s home and find bomb-making materials
FBI agents searched the home of John Graham, a chief suspect in the United Airlines plane explosion that killed all 44 people on board on November 1. The jet, which exploded shortly after departing from Denver, contained a hole near the cargo hold and traces of dynamite residue, suggesting that a bomb was responsible for the crash. Within a week, FBI agents began delving into the background of everyone connected to the flight.
One of the passengers on board the flight, Daisie King, was a wealthy woman traveling to visit her daughter. Although the suitcase that she had checked-in had been obliterated by the explosion, her carry-on bag contained a newspaper clipping about her son, John Graham, who had been involved in forgery and theft. When FBI agents questioned Graham on November 10, he told the detectives that his mother had packed shotgun ammunition in her suitcase. Graham’s wife provided more intriguing information: just before Graham took his mother to the airport, he had placed a gift-wrapped package in her luggage, explaining that the present was a jewellery tool kit. Graham denied any knowledge of this gift but the FBI obtained a search warrant to investigate further.
A search of the Graham home turned up the ammunition that Mrs. King had allegedly packed, a small roll of copper wire, and a life insurance policy for Mrs. King, naming Graham as the designated beneficiary. Graham’s wife later revealed that he had ordered her to claim that she had been mistaken about the gift package.
Faced with mounting evidence against him, Graham suddenly confessed to planting a bomb in his mother’s suitcase. He told the agents that he had taken a job in an electronics store to learn how to construct the bomb, which consisted of 25 sticks of dynamite, a battery, and a timer. At his televised trial, Graham retracted his confession but was found guilty. He was executed in the gas chamber in January 1957.
1974 Karen Silkwood dies in mysterious one-car crash
On this day in 1974, 28-year-old Karen Silkwood was killed in a car accident near Crescent, Oklahoma, north of Oklahoma City. Silkwood worked as a technician at a plutonium plant operated by the Kerr-McGee Corporation, and she had been critical of the plant’s health and safety procedures. In September, she had complained to the Atomic Energy Commission about unsafe conditions at the plant (a week before her death, plant monitors had found that she was contaminated with radioactivity herself), and the night she died, she was on her way to a meeting with a union representative and a reporter for The New York Times, reportedly with a folder full of documents that proved that Kerr-McGee was acting negligently when it came to worker safety at the plant. However, no such folder was found in the wreckage of her car, lending credence to the theory that someone had forced her off the road to prevent her from telling what she knew.
On the night of November 5, Silkwood was polishing plutonium pellets that would be used to make fuel rods for a breeder reactor nuclear-power plant. At about 6:30 PM, an alpha detector mounted on her glove box (the piece of equipment that was supposed to protect her from exposure to radioactive materials) went off: According to the machine, her right arm was covered in plutonium. Further tests revealed that the plutonium had come from the inside of her gloves–that is, the part of her gloves that was only in contact with her hands, not the pellets. Plant doctors monitored her for the next few days, and what they found was quite unusual: Silkwood’s urine and feces samples were heavily contaminated with radioactivity, as was the apartment she shared with another plant worker, but no one could say why or how that alpha activity had gotten there. (In fact, measurements after her death indicated that Silkwood had ingested the plutonium somehow; again, no one could say how or why.)
After work on November 13, Silkwood went to a union meeting before heading home in her white Honda. Soon, police were summoned to the scene of an accident along Oklahoma’s State Highway 74: Silkwood had somehow crashed into a concrete culvert. She was dead by the time help arrived. An autopsy revealed that she had taken a large dose of Quaaludes before she died, which would likely have made her doze off at the wheel; however, an accident investigator found skid marks and a suspicious dent in the Honda’s rear bumper, indicating that a second car had forced Silkwood off the road.
Silkwood’s father sued Kerr-McGee, and the company eventually settled for $1.3 million, minus legal fees. Kerr-McGee closed its Crescent plant in 1979.
1982 Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedicated
Near the end of a weeklong national salute to Americans who served in the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington after a march to its site by thousands of veterans of the conflict. The long-awaited memorial was a simple V-shaped black-granite wall inscribed with the names of the 57,939 Americans who died in the conflict, arranged in order of death, not rank, as was common in other memorials.
The designer of the memorial was MayaLin, a Yale University architecture student who entered a nationwide competition to create a design for the monument. Lin, born in Ohioin 1959, was the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Many veterans’ groups were opposed to Lin’s winning design, which lacked a standard memorial’s heroic statues and stirring words. However, a remarkable shift in public opinion occurred in the months after the memorial’s dedication. Veterans and families of the dead walked the black reflective wall, seeking the names of their loved ones killed in the conflict. Once the name was located, visitors often made an etching or left a private offering, from notes and flowers to dog tags and cans of beer.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial soon became one of the most visited memorials in the nation’s capital. A Smithsonian Institution director called it a community of feelings, almost a sacred precinct, and a veteran declared that it’s the parade we never got. The Wall drew together both those who fought and those who marched against the war and served to promote national healing a decade after the divisive conflict’s end.

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Credit scores can reveal if you’re healthy or not

by Shelton on December 5th, 2014

filed under Credit Scores

Credit scores can reveal if youre healthy or not

Duke University rightOriginal Study

Posted by Karl Bates-Duke on

A new study confirms what insurance companies already know: Credit scores can reveal how healthy you are.

Researchers have uncovered a strong relationship between low credit scores and poor heart health. The findings are based on results from a long-term study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders who have been monitored continuously from birth to age 38.

(Credit: mista stagga lee/Flickr)

This doesnt mean that poor financial management hurts your health, postdoctoral researcher Salomon Israel of Duke University is quick to point out. Its that the sort of personal attributes that can lead to a poor credit score can also contribute to poor health.

What it comes down to is that people who dont take care of their money dont take care of their health, says study leader Terrie Moffitt, who a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke.

She says this study confirms what the insurance and financial industries may already understand.

Bad behaviors start early

Backtracking into the data on these study participants, who have been monitored since birth to age 38, the researchers found that about 20 percent of the relationship between credit scores and heart health was accounted for by the attitudes, behaviors, and competencies displayed by the study members when they were younger than age 10.

Learn How to Collect From Slow Payers

by Shelton on December 5th, 2014

filed under Online Business Credit

SMALL-BUSINESS owners know it is cash flow or die. While the recession officially ended in June 2009, many companies are still reeling. Credit can be hard to come by, and profits have not completely bounced back. On top of that, many customers are taking longer than ever to pay their bills.

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Alan Zale for The New York Times

Diane Nicosia, a designer and project manager in New Rochelle, N.Y., says payment timetables can be flexible.

You’re the Boss

Soldier of Fortune: Collecting Receivables

Some tips for small businesses trying to collect money owed.


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Exhibit A is Cisco Systems, one of the largest technology companies in the world, which announced last year that it would wait a full 60 days to pay its small-business suppliers — mostly because it had found that that was what other big companies were doing.

So how does a small business get paid in a tough economy without hiring a collections agency or alienating its clients? Better yet, how does it avoid ending up with a stack of unpaid invoices in the first place?

Judging from the experiences of the small-business owners interviewed for this guide, it is part art and part science.

DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE It used to be that credit reports were expensive and only for big companies with large budgets. Not anymore.

Ron Phelps, commercial credit manager at Boulevard Tire Center, a tire distributor with 26 locations in Florida, pays $99 a month for Pulse, a service offered through Cortera, , an online business credit reporting system, that keeps tabs on his clients. Last December, Cortera’s monitoring system noted that there was a large federal tax lien on one of Mr. Phelps’s clients, a small trucking company. He cut off the company’s credit line.

“That very same day,” he said, “we decided just to make them a cash customer, because we were concerned about their ability to pay.”

Cortera also offers a free service that collects and analyzes payment histories on more than 20 million businesses. Think of it as Yelp for business credit — instead of reviewing restaurants and stores, its community gives feedback on how promptly a company pays.

“We are helping small businesses tell the world that this person is a deadbeat,” said Alex Cote, vice president for marketing for Cortera. (There are other services, including Dun & Bradstreet, that will assess the financial strength of a company.)

SET YOUR TERMS (WITH A SMILE) Diane Nicosia manages and coordinates major construction and design projects through her company, D. E. Nicosia & Associates, which is based in New Rochelle, N.Y. “I’m in charge of the budget and have to make sure vendors, architects and engineers get paid,” Ms. Nicosia said. “What I’ve learned is that you have to negotiate these days.”

On a recent project involving 45,000 square feet of office space in a Midtown Manhattan office tower, a construction company said it would back out of the deal after it found that it would take 90 days to get paid by Ms. Nicosia’s client, a Fortune 100 financial services and manufacturing firm. Ms. Nicosia met with her client’s senior management and found that the payment timetable was not set in stone; there was room to broker a schedule that could keep the construction company from walking.

“Most people don’t think to challenge the payment schedule,” she said, “but we have to step up as small-business owners and say, ‘This is my living.’ ”

What Ms. Nicosia learned through this negotiation process, which she said was very amicable, was that there are often options: “All they have to do is push a little button that says pay in 10, 30 or 60 days, and that gets your invoice in a queue, so I got my vendor paid faster by working with the right people in the company.”

GET THE PAPERWORK RIGHT Is your invoice perfect? Did you fill out all the forms (even the ones you may not know about)? Companies do not need much of an excuse, if any, to delay your invoice. So make sure not one piece of information is missing.

Do you know whether the invoice needs a purchase order number? Not having this number can leave invoices lingering in accounts-payable purgatory, and it is unlikely that accounts payable will call to tell you.

Is your invoice formatted correctly? Some companies accept invoices only in the form of a PDF. If you are a new vendor, did you fill out a new vendor form? Many companies require these forms to process a first-time payment (but do not always make that known).

KNOW WHEN TO LOSE A CLIENT If customers do fall behind, when do you decide to cut them off? And what do you do if it is a customer you think you cannot afford to lose?

At Boulevard Tire, delinquent accounts are placed in one of two buckets — 30 days overdue and 60 days overdue.

“We look at those lists long and hard and ask ourselves,” Mr. Phelps said, “is this someone I want to immediately put on credit hold? Or is there something salvageable here? Are they a first-time offender?”

There are, he said, no hard and fast rules. “It’s all about the dynamics,” he said. “For example, if we have a customer who is in dire straits, and they appear to be making an effort to pay, we might continue working with them.”

Still, the economics may ultimately dictate the decision. As Mr. Phelps pointed out, if your company has a 10 percent profit margin and you lose $10,000 on an account, that is an additional $100,000 in revenue that your company has to find.

DON’T RELY ON THE POST OFFICE To avoid having someone in the accounting department tell you that “the check is in the mail,” push for direct deposit or electronic transfer. That way, you can get paid exactly on the 45th or 60th day. There are also services available from banks that will allow checks to be faxed and scanned, with the money deposited into your account the same day.

Consider accepting credit cards or PayPal. Yes, there is a fee, depending on which card or service you use, but the cash comes almost instantly.

“Some credit card companies pay their merchants on the following day,” said George A. Cloutier, founder of American Management Services, a financial turnaround firm. “And in a climate where cash is so tight, that’s often worth the fee.”

LET THEM KNOW IT’S IMPORTANT Rachel Lawrence oversees invoicing and bill collection at Bright Power, an energy efficiency company based in Manhattan. She was trying to collect from a property management firm that was 30 days late on a $25,000 invoice.

“They kept giving me this excuse that they had changed accounting systems, which I think can be a delay tactic,” she said. “It got to the point where I really had to make it clear that I wanted payment, so I offered to physically pick up the check.”

Ms. Lawrence gave the property management company dates and times she would be available to make the 30-minute trip to its office in Midtown Manhattan. The firm agreed to have the check ready. “When you say this is important enough to me that I will go out of my way,” she said, “I think people respond.”

OFFER A DISCOUNT Mr. Phelps said he does not like to reward clients for not paying, but that in certain cases extending a discount on the condition that the debt be paid immediately in cash or a cashier’s check can make the money appear.

“We’d rather have something than nothing and save ourselves the time and effort of going to court,” he said, “but we probably wouldn’t enter into a credit relationship with that company in the future.”

And do not be afraid to give a 10 percent discount, said Mr. Cloutier: “For 1 or 2 percent, it’s probably not worth it to the person who owes the money, particularly if they are short on cash.”