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New Music Video Burning Up The Internet
Arthritis Pain Relief Cream That Celebs Can't Stop Talking About
HealerCream.com is a major seller today in the world of arthritis pain relief medications because the condition is common among many people in every culture, as many as one in three people have some form of the disease as they age. There are different types, but the different forms of arthritis pain relief medicine apply to most. The three most common arthritic conditions are Gout, Osteoarthritis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. The disease, in its many forms, often includes symptoms of swelling, stiffness, tenderness, redness and warmth around joints. Although the exact cause of the disease is unclear, factors such as age, obesity, heredity and work conditions have been known to contribute to the disease. Whatever the cause, the condition keeps sufferers from doing usual tasks. Simple tasks such as walking or cooking become painful. This is why it is so important for sufferers to find the right medication for them HealerCream is one of them.
HealerCream is meant to relieve the inflammation in the joints caused by the disease.
Other options always require a prescription. Disease-modifying Antirheumatic drugs or DMARDs are used for rheumatoid, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic forms of the disease. Although DMARDs can have serious side effects, they can cut these forms of arthritis short in their progress. They take a few weeks to take full effect and are often combined with NSAIDs or steroids, another arthritis pain reliever. Corticosteroids are just another form of anti-inflammatory drugs meant to relieve inflammation. The patients are usually injected directly into the joint to minimize side effects to the rest of the body. The administered doses of corticosteroids are often cautiously low and combined with other drugs. For certain forms of the disease, there is the new option of biologic therapy. In particular forms, the immune system actually attacks the joints. Biologic therapy is used to alter the immune system through intravenous drugs.
There are other options for relief if sufferers don't want to use medication. One is a hot or cold compress. Another option is special exercises to increase the joints' strength and flexibility. Sufferers can also protect the joints by wearing special devices. These can all be attempted in combination with a good, over-the-counter medication. One last and more involved option of treatment for the disease is surgery. This can be expensive and will require recovery time. People should talk with a doctor about all of these treatment options to determine if any would be best. The doctor may just recommend a few lifestyle changes in combination with HealerCream one of the best arthritis pain relief medicine.
Sufferers of this condition can find relief from not just medication but other helpful aids. On the Internet and in medical supply stores, patients can find joint wraps which will provide heat to the joint and relieve suffering. Seeing a physical therapist can help strengthen the joints which arthritis pain reliever does not do. Patients should also always be aware of what they are doing. It's best to avoid pushing and pulling excessively. Sufferers shouldn't try to move heavy objects or lift heavy things or overuse the joints, even if the muscle or joint is numbed with arthritis pain relief medicine. Exercising as well as maintaining a healthy weight are important to reducing the risk. Eating healthy and protecting the joints can also be effective ways to prevent the disease. There are devises and techniques out there that will assist patients in protecting the joints from strain. Prayer is also important in fighting the disease. Sufferers should ask God to give them strength and comfort while enduring the disease. "The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." (Proverbs 18:10)
Huge Career Politician Fire Sale Needed
by Dr. Janet Shienbaum contributing writer
I think it's the "elected power" bit that lulls Vincent Gray into thinking that he is distinguishable as individual to anyone outside his immediate family circle or payroll (a recognition factor rendered even smaller, of course, by the frequent substantial overlap between the two). We out here know that our God given right to elect individuals, is powerful based on, one person one vote concept. I was 27 before I realized there was a theory out there that said politicians were supposed to represent and execute the public's wishes. There's supposed to be a direct, traceable line between what you think and what they do. It's true. Until then, I had assumed that every four years we operated a sort of formal, nationwide act of charity and added a bit of excitement to these odd but ultimately career politicians who do nothing for the people, and who have the bully pulpit to command the media and go on TV and talk nothing. I cast my vote mainly according to their track record and on helping people get jobs or educating our children. We just cannot let the same old gray politicians get in power and do the same thing, just more undercover. That's why we need a Huge Clearance Sale and get rid of these career politicians who do nothing for the plight of the people!
If you listen to Gray's town hall meetings, he did not say he would bring some of the wrongly fired teachers back. He said, “I will not micro manage the school system” (what the H_ _L does that mean)? The teachers union backed him 100%, to rectify some of the wrongful teacher firings and he's still saying nothing. He says he wants to change the school system but puts the same person who was 2nd in command to Michelle Rhee in power. Let's review Chairman Vincent Gray's record, and not pay attention to the 12 person council who've put the city in a deficit now. He was 2nd in command to Mayor Fenty, he will tell you his hands were tied but it wasn't tied, when he approved his buddy William C Smith of $300 million dollars. But can't find jobs for his home ward (7) of 24% unemployment and next door neighbor ward (8) of 30% unemployment. Remember everything Mayor Fenty implemented, Chairman Gray (by law) had to approve, he is 2nd in command at all the ground breakings and photo ops with Mayor Fenty and 1st in command in the legislature!
Here's my question, a politically incorrect one that has been nagging me for a while now: just what is it about our city that makes it turn a blind eye to the corrupt, arrogant, incompetent leaders who have been in office for 6 years or more and also happen to be a home boy, Washingtonian? Is sitting on a seat for 6 years and doing nothing about (unemployment, high school dropout rate, and unbalanced budget) so damned important that results don't even matter? Whether it's Gray = Fenty, or Sharon Pratt Kelly, it's like our politicians can do no wrong as long as they have experience, they are on the tube (television) and warm a council seat for a few years! Say what you want about Marion Barry, but he was visible in the community. If you ask the community in ward 7 or 8 what they think of Vincent Gray, they will tell you, I don't know who he is, I just see him on TV.
I mean, we could not stand Fenty because he was not visible in the community but now we are going to turn a blind eye and put the same person that approved everything that Fenty did, in office as our Mayor? If a CEO of a corporation and their council, failed that miserably, they would get sh#tcanned faster than Juan Williams on NPR.
But even if Washingtonians are just bound and determined to have a career politician for their mayor, that's cool…but just listen to the alternative candidate Carlos Allen and listen to what he has to say. Check out his website and listen to his message, then you can make the decision for yourself and not the media or the same old gray campaign party.
There are issues that are (or at least, should be) important to all people, regardless of race, gender, or income level: crime; education; jobs; opportunity. Under Chairman Gray, he has demonstrably failed in massive proportions on all of those issues. If Washingtonians want their children to have a great school reform program that works, if they want their crime rates to drop because we know - MORE JOBS = LESS CRIME, if they want the city's economy to thrive so as to create better-paying jobs, then their best chance to realize these things is to vote in someone who genuinely shares their values, and loves to help people. So please look at the other candidates.
Who Is Almeta Bowman?
Almeta, highly esteems INTEGRITY as her signature voice. She is a humanitarian and has counseled and fed many people both spiritually and naturally. The individuals she has touched resulted in a creation of stability that's caused families to be more enriched in love. She is to be commended for being the Queen that she is and most people she's inspired call her Mother Queen Almeta.
Almeta had a brother named Reginald Bowman who was stricken with the Aids Virus in the late 90's. As his care taker, Almeta notice his skin became very dry and started to peel. They went to the doctor to have it observed but nothing the doctors gave him seemed to work. So Almeta took it upon herself to start experimenting and mixing different oils, lotions and African Shea Butter in her kitchen. To her amazement the formulas she blended brought the elasticity back to her brother's skin. Her brother's skin cleared up and his hair started to grow back, her brother said to her, calling her by her nick name “baby' I think you are on to something, you need to try to market this”. Today she has now developed “Queen Almeta's Anointed Shea Butters Soufflé”, Lotions, Par-fumes, Anointing Oils And Aroma Therapy Sprays, the ultimate prescription available for public use. Ingredients: Natural African Shea Butter, Essential and Fragrant Oils And Lotions Blended And Anointed With Love. Queen Almeta's Divinely Inspired Products Will Anoint Your Body And Refresh Your Spirit. You may Contact her at: Po. Box 159 Mount Vernon Va. 22121 703-863-4430 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow her on Facebook- Almeta Bowman
Elizabeth Shuler, 1st Woman Secretary-Treasurer
The Celebration of Women Labor Leaders reception honoring Elizabeth Shuler, was fantastic. Elizabeth Shuler the 1st woman and youngest person ever elected as Secretary-Treasurer of AFL-CIO opened in the Samuel Gompers Room with the soulful jazz sound of Ski Johnson, #1 Billboard and 3 times Grammy Nominated Saxophone player. Co-hosted by Barbara Ferris, President of the International Women's Democracy Center and Susan Scanlan, Chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, guests included member unions of AFL, their presidents, secretary-treasurers and non-profit executives. The program speakers included Tina Chen from the White House Office of Public Engagement who applauded Ms. Shuler's extraordinary journey that started as a labor organizer in Oregon to being elected the highest-ranking labor union woman in the United States. Introduced by AFL Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, Ms. Shuler spoke with great humility that she stands today on the shoulders of the many courageous women before her who made enormous sacrifices, fought for equality and faced difficult struggles head on to ensure that women moved upward in labor unions. She spoke of the continuing challenges that women and labor unions continue to face in today's workplace combined with her commitment to reach out to new constituencies of workers who have no protections in the workplace.
Hundreds of guests enjoyed delicious h'ordurves donated by Chef Theo's Restaurant in Silver Spring and decided which gifts they wanted to win in the fabulous which included Nando's Peri-Peri gift certificates, wine, and holiday items.
The International Women's Democracy Center was established in 1995 to strengthen women's global leadership through training, education, networking and research with a focus on increasing the participation of women in politics, policy and decision making within their own governments. In 1998, the United Nations awarded IWDC Special Consultative Status to the Economic and Social Council. IWDC facilitates innovative and transforming leadership training programs for women in Southern Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin American and the United States.
Microsoft and Kelley Moore Salute Our Troops
It's great to witness individuals and corporations recognizing our troops for their courageous and patriotic efforts. Microsoft Corporation is doing just that in supporting a charity called "Salute our Troops." Salute our Troops is a national program honoring troops who demonstrate selfless dedication, courage and inspiration to our country. The program seeks to inspire others into action and show unified support for our service men and women and their family members.
Microsoft also supports a charity called the Fisher House Foundation located in Bethesda, Maryland on the grounds of the Naval Medical Center. During the Christmas tree decorating we were introduced to Michael Allen (Microsoft Director of Business Strategy), Tanya Klause, (Microsoft Public Relations Officer), Kelley Moore (Lifestyle Coach and HGTV star), Jim Weiskopf (Fisher House Executive Vice President) and Sandy Dean (Navy Medical Center Public Affairs Officer). As we spoke I learned that Fisher House provides comfortable, temporary lodging for military families when members or dependents require specialized or extended medical care. Fisher House facilities enable families to reside together while a loved one is undergoing long-term treatment. Twenty four of the Fisher House residences were built by Zach Fisher, a real estate developer and philanthropist. Eleven more houses were built in seven states with the support of private donors like Microsoft Corporation, who help service men and women, feel comfortable with their loved ones near them. Today there are over thirty five Fisher House domiciles and the numbers keep growing. Zach Fisher was never able to serve himself, but made it his mission to aid military families during burdensome times. Zach once called war veterans our “national treasures” that deserve to have their loved ones nearby when they need them. The Fisher House Foundation doesn't consider what they do charity; they consider it to be their duty.
When given the honor to speak with HGTV star Kelley Moore, I found Kelley to be totally grounded and very warm. Kelley's motto is to empower and inspire people all over the world with her inner and outer beauty.
We also had the opportunity to bring along Ski Johnson (3 times Grammy Nominated Saxophonist) who showed his support for the troops by donating his time and serenading the folks in the room with beautiful sounds from his Saxophone!
Microsoft is selling tickets for a private showing of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular being made available today for service members and their families. Reservations can be obtained online at www.salutetoourtroops.org. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular's private showing maintains the Microsoft tradition of entertaining the troops and providing them the opportunity to spend valuable and quality time with their families during the holiday season. As part of the commitment to ensure that troops around the globe get to experience the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the show will be rebroadcast on American Forces Network and the Pentagon Channel.
New star is Born in Hollywood (Melvin Jackson)
By Lyric Dysin
Melvin Jackson Jr. just may be the biggest name set to hit Hollywood that you haven't heard of…yet. Once weekly spotted on the popular television series, “The Wire,” where he played the role of Bernard, a naïve street soldier, and then again as the intimidating Bully on Chris Rock's television production, “Everybody Hates Chris,” Melvin, the actor, is by no means a two hit sensation. In fact, his career is on the rise. Recently stretching his talent from TV to the Big Screen, this D.C. native has revealed to critics and fans alike that his name is the name to remember. Starring in such films as The Vanishing Black Male, The Mannsfield 12, and Five. K. One—Melvin's versatility in the acting realm is no longer questioned. Now he's been tagged as “The Star Amongst Us.” It's a label that Melvin isn't too comfortable wearing. Although, if you'd let him tell it, he'd go on about how much he appreciates the limelight that it brings---and not for vanity's use. Instead, Melvin Jr. has made it a custom to not only share the limelight but, if possible, redirect it completely until it shines onto the pathways of those who need a little help seeing their way. Despite his acting ability, which seems to have destined Melvin to one day have a formal meeting with Oscar, I have discovered that it's his real character that makes him shine.
From Caves To Castles
by Mike Krumboltz There's rags to riches and then there's rags to mega-riches. Two
brothers from Hungary definitely fall into the second category. Until recently, Geza and Zslot Peladi lived in a cave near Budapest. Completely destitute, the two cave-brothers earned money by gathering scrap metal and selling candy they found on the street. That all changed the moment they heard that they stood to inherit a substantial portion of their maternal grandmother's $6.6 billion fortune. (That's billion, with a "B.") According to an article from the New York Post, once the paperwork goes through, the two brothers will share the fortune with their sister in the United States. While some folks who come into obscene amounts of money might buy a plane, throw a party, or commission large oil paintings of themselves, Geza Peladi has a more modest goal. He would like a "normal life" and to find a woman to share his fortune with. Apparently, it's rather hard to get dates when you live in a cave. A blog from Ananova explains their circumstances a bit more. They were told of their mother's death by homeless charity workers. Geza was quoted as saying that he knew his mother came from a wealthy family "but she was a difficult person and severed ties with them, and then later abandoned us and we lost touch with her and our father until she eventually died."
Under German law (where the grandmother lived), the brothers (and the sister) "will inherit the entire estate as they are the closest surviving family members." Once proof of relation to the grandmother is established, they'll be traveling to Germany to start what we can only presume will be a very different kind of life. Best of luck, guys.
Dubai request for debt 'standstill' raises fear
By BARBARA SURK, Associated Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Just a year after the global downturn derailed Dubai's explosive growth, the city is now so swamped in debt that it's asking for a six-month reprieve on paying its bills — causing a drop on world markets Thursday and raising questions about Dubai's reputation as a magnet for international investment. The fallout came swiftly and was felt globally after Wednesday statement that Dubai's main development engine, Dubai World, would ask creditors for a "standstill" on paying back its $60 billion debt until at least May. The company's real estate arm, Nakheel — whose projects include the palm-shaped island in the Gulf — shoulders the bulk of money due to banks, investment houses and outside development contractors. In total, the state-backed networks nicknamed Dubai Inc. are $80 billion in the red and the emirate needed a bailout earlier this year from its oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Markets took the news badly — with the Dubai woes and the continued fall of the U.S. dollar giving investors twin worries. Dubai's move raised concerns about debt across the Gulf Region. Prices to insure debt from Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain all rose by double-digit percentages Thursday, according to data from CMA DataVision. In Europe, the FTSE 100, Germany's DAX and the CAC-40 in France opened sharply lower. Earlier in Asia, the Shanghai index sank 119.19 points, or 3.6 percent, in the biggest one-day fall since Aug. 31. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1.8 percent to 22,210.41. Wall Street was closed for the Thanksgiving holiday and most markets in the Middle East were silent because of a major Islamic feast. "Dubai's standstill announcement ... was vague and it remains difficult to discern whether the call for a standstill will be voluntary," said a statement from the Eurasia Group, a Washington-based research group that assesses political and financial risk for foreign investors interested in Dubai. "If it is not, Dubai World will be going into default and that will have more serious negative repercussions for Dubai's sovereign debt, Dubai World and market confidence in the UAE in general," the statement added. Dubai became the Gulf's biggest credit crunch victim a year ago. But its ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, had continually dismissed concerns over the city-state's liquidity and claims it overreached during the good times. When asked about the debt, he confidently assured reporters in a rare meeting two months ago that "we are all right" and "we are not worried," leaving details of a recovery plan — if such a plan exists — to everyone's guess. Then, earlier this month, he told Dubai's critics to "shut up." "He needs to produce a recovery plan that will be respected by those who want to do business with Dubai," said Simon Henderson, a Gulf and energy specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "If he does not do it right, Dubai will be a sad place." After months of denial that the economic downturn even touched the glitzy city-state, the Dubai government earlier this year showed signs of trying to deal with the financial fallout that has halted dozens of projects and touched off an exodus of expatriate workers. In February, it raised $10 billion in a hastily arranged bond sale to the United Arab Emirates central bank, which is based in Abu Dhabi. The deal — seen by many as Abu Dhabi's bailout of Dubai — was part of a $20 billion bond program to help Dubai meet its debt obligations. On Wednesday, the Dubai Finance Department announced the emirate raised another $5 billion by selling bonds — all taken by two banks controlled by Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi's ruling Al Nahyan family has been more conservative with its spending, investing oil profits into infrastructure, culture and state institutions. During Dubai's real estate bonanza, the Nahyans saw their flashy neighbor race ahead with development plans and tourism plans that had plenty of hype but few details on how they would be pulled off. Some did materialize. The more than 2,600-foot (800-meter) Burj Dubai is scheduled to open in January as the world's tallest building. But many other projects, including a tower even taller than the Burj Dubai and satellite cities in the desert, are still just blueprints. The standstill will likely not immediately affect CityCenter, an $8.5 billion casino complex opening next month in Las Vegas that is half-owned by Dubai World. A Dubai World subsidiary and casino operator MGM Mirage agreed with banks in April to fully fund and finish the six-tower, 67-acre development of plush resorts, condominiums, a retail mall and one casino on the Las Vegas Strip. However, the standstill's effect may be felt on the famous Keeneland thoroughbred horse auctions near Lexington, Ky., where Sheik Mohammed is a prominent bidder. Last week, Sheik Mohammed demoted several prominent members of Dubai's corporate elite and replaced them with members of the ruling family, including his two sons, one of whom is Mohammed's designated heir. Businessmen who fell out of favor were closely associated with Dubai's phenomenal success. They include the head of Dubai World, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, and Mohammed Alabbar, the chief of Emaar Properties, developer of the Burj Dubai and hundreds of other projects. "He is trying to shake things up," said Christopher Davidson, a lecturer on the Gulf at Britain's Durham University and an author of two books on the UAE. However, Davidson added, Mohammed's decision to replace those who helped put Dubai on the world map with his relatives might be "read as an increase in autocracy which does not look good internationally." Not everyone is upset at Dubai Inc.'s transformation into a family business, analysts say. Mohammed's latest moves may have pleased Abu Dhabi more than the foreign investors, but it is Abu Dhabi that still has the strongest incentives to save Dubai from its financial misery. "By shifting the power base back to the family things are as they should be as far as Abu Dhabi is concerned," said Mohammed Shakeel, a Dubai-based analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit. After an expensive adventure in doing things the Western way, it's "going back to basics" for Dubai, Shakeel added.
Iran seizes human rights lawyer's Nobel Peace medal
By NASSER KARIMI and IAN MacDOUGALL, Associated Press Writers
TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian authorities confiscated Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi's medal, the human rights lawyer said Thursday, in a sign of the increasingly drastic steps Tehran is taking against any dissent. In Norway, where the peace prize is awarded, the government said the confiscation of the gold medal was a shocking first in the history of the 108-year-old prize. Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts in promoting democracy. She has long faced harassment from Iranian authorities for her activities — including threats against her relatives and a raid on her office last year in which files were confiscated. The seizure of her prize is an expression of the Iranian government's harsh approach to anyone it considers an opponent — particularly since the massive street protests triggered by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed June 12 re-election. Acting on orders from Tehran's Revolutionary Court, authorities took the peace prize medal about three weeks ago from a safe-deposit box in Iran, Ebadi said in a phone interview from London. They also seized her Legion of Honor and a ring awarded to her by a German association of journalists, she said. Authorities froze the bank accounts of her and her husband and demanded $410,000 in taxes that they claimed were owed on the $1.3 million she was awarded. Ebadi said, however, that such prizes are exempt from tax under Iranian law. She said the government also appears intent on trying to confiscate her home. Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to be awarded the peace prize and the first female judge in Iran, said she would not be intimidated and that her absence from the country since June did not mean she felt exiled. "Nobody is able to send me to exile from my home country," she said. "I have received many threatening messages. ... They said they would detain me if I returned, or that they would make the environment unsafe for me wherever I am. "But my activities are legal and nobody can ban me from my legal activities." Ebadi has criticized the Iranian government's crackdown on demonstrations by those claiming the June vote was stolen from a pro-reform candidate through massive fraud. Ebadi left the country a day before the vote to attend a conference in Spain and has not returned since. In the days after the vote, she urged the international community to reject the outcome and called for a new election monitored by the United Nations. During the past months, hundreds of pro-reform activists have been arrested, and a mass trial has sentenced dozens to prison terms. Authorities also went after Ebadi's human rights center in Iran. "After the election all my colleagues in the center were either detained or banned from traveling abroad," Ebadi said. Calls to Iranian judiciary officials were not returned Thursday. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere called the move "shocking" and said it was "the first time a Nobel Peace Prize has been confiscated by national authorities." The Norwegian Foreign Ministry summoned Iran's charge d'affaires in Norway Wednesday to protest the confiscation, spokeswoman Ragnhild Imerslund said. The Foreign Ministry also "expressed grave concern" about Ebadi's husband, who it said was arrested in Tehran and "severely beaten" earlier this fall, after which his pension and bank account were frozen. Ebadi said her husband, Javad Tavassolian, and her brother and sister have been threatened many times by authorities pushing them to persuade her to end her human rights campaigning. Ebadi has represented opponents of Iran's regime before but not in the mass trial that started in August of more than 100 prominent pro-reform figures and activists. They are accused of plotting to overthrow the cleric-led regime during the postelection turmoil. The Iranian Embassy in Norway refrained from giving a comment. The Norwegian Nobel Committee's permanent secretary, Geir Lundestad, said the move was "unheard of" and "unacceptable." He told The Associated Press that the committee was planning to send a letter of protest to Iranian authorities before the end of the week. Ebadi said she planned to return to Iran when the time is right. "I will return whenever it is useful for my country," she said. "Right now I am busy with my activities against violations of human rights in Iran and my international jobs."
Charles Woodson donates $2 million to U-M hospital
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)—Charles Woodson wants to be known as more than a football player. Donating $2 million to the new University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital and Women's Hospital gives him a chance to do that. The school announced Woodson's gift on Thanksgiving before he played for the Green Bay Packers against the Detroit Lions. Then, he intercepted two passes—returning one for a score—forced a fumble, recovered it and had a sack. “It was a good day,” Woodson said after Green Bay's 34-12 win in Detroit. His donation will support pediatric research by The Charles Woodson Clinical Research Fund in the $754-million, 1.1-million square foot hospital scheduled to open in 2012. “He's really studied and tried to understand what the issues are in doing research in pediatrics,” Dr. Valerie Castle said. “What most people don't know is that less than 10 percent of the National Institute of Health budget goes toward research in pediatric disease. “When you study those patients, you often times get clues to adult diseases.” Woodson hopes to attract the world's best researchers who want to help children with cancer, heart disease, kidney disorders and autism. “I want to be part of that symbol of hope,” Woodson said. “So that they can say, ‘I know I can beat this thing and there's people out there who will help me beat it.”' Woodson said during a visit to Ann Arbor earlier this month that becoming a father in January motivated him to make the gift, altering his outlook on life. “It can change a lot,” he said. Lloyd Carr, his coach at Michigan, hopes Woodson's gift pushes his peers to also give back. “I think it's going to have a significant influence across the athletic world that he decided to do this,” Carr said. Woodson acknowledged feeling awkward about allowing a Fox TV reporter and crew to follow him as he visited patients on a day off in November, but said it was part of his mission. “Half of the battle is about awareness,” Woodson said. “When I signed on board to be a part of this team, that was going to be part of the deal. Part of making it work is me being a face or spokesman. “I guess what bigger days can we do it to bring awareness to the cause when everybody is watching a Thanksgiving Day game?” The native of Fremont, Ohio, helped Michigan win the national championship in 1997. He won the Heisman Trophy as a cornerback who also played wide receiver and returned punts. His memories from college on and off the field led to him giving back financially. “It was probably best three years of my life that I can remember, other than having my son,” Woodson said. “When people still see me, even though I have been in Green Bay and Oakland, they still talk about Michigan.” Charles Woodson Clinical Research Fund: http://www.woodsonfund.org
HUSH SOCIETY MAGAZINE ANNUAL THANKSGIVING DINNER DRIVE 100 FAMILIES / 100 DINNERS
HUSH Society Magazine Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Drive in support of local disadvantaged families was an extreme success . We are so grateful and thankful for everyone (individuals, businesses, and government entities) who helped us give back to the community by volunteering time and/or contributing money to help us gift 100 needy families with a fulfilling Thanksgiving dinner.
We thank the following Donors--
General Petraeus Receives AWARD
Nearly 630 people gathered to honor the National Defense University Foundation's 2009 American Patriot Award recipients: General David Petraeus, Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the Men and Women of CENTCOM. The event, one of Washington, D.C.'s most prestigious galas, was held in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
Program participants for the 2009 American Patriot Award Gala included honoree General David Petraeus, USA, General Ann Dunwoody, USA, and Gen. John Galvin, USA. jazz saxophonist Ski Johnson and Pam Ritter Shilling (Out Reach Program Manager for the National Defense University Foundation) performed live and they both rocked the house. Pam had a standing ovation after she sung. Leon Harris, Anchor of ABC 7/WJLA-TV, emceed the event. Five military heroes accepted the American Patriot Award on behalf of their services, along with General David Petraeus, USA. The five heroes included: CSM Rocky Shapla, USA; CDR Stephen Hall, USN; GYSGT Josue Magana, USMC; Tech. Sgt. Timothy R. Evans, USAF; LCDR Holly Harrison, USCG. Notable guests included White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel; LTG Dennis Via, USA, Director, C4 Systems (J6) Joint Chiefs of Staff; and, National Defense University President VADM Ann E. Rondeau, USN; Members of Congress, the Administration, and Diplomatic Community; and past and present Armed Forces Service Heroes. The Gala was attended by more than 600 guests. More than 40 "patriots" from all five branches of the military service attended this year's celebration, through the "Sponsor a Patriot" program. Many of these young patriots recently returned from Iraq, Afghanistan or other overseas deployments. Some are recovering from injury sustained while deployed; others are actively serving their country on military installations and in communities across America Beyond honoring the recipients, the Gala supports National Defense University (NDU) and its crucial mission of educating national security leaders. Students of NDU are the next generation of ambassadors, national and international military commanders and civilian defense industry leaders -- patriots who have committed their lives to furthering the security of our nation and the world. "Paying tribute to General Petraeus and the service men and women who put their lives at risk every day to safeguard our national security is the focus of this year's National Defense University Foundation's American Patriot Award," said Walter Stadtler, Ambassador (Ret), President and CEO, National Defense University Foundation. "These unsung heroes are the ultimate patriots and are most deserving of this award." Previous recipients of the American Patriot Award include: The Honorable Henry A. Kissinger; General Colin Powell; The Honorable Caspar Weinberger; former President George H.W. Bush; The Men and Women of our Nation's Defense Team; The Honorable Bob Dole; The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye; The Honorable Ted Stevens; The Honorable John Glenn; The Honorable John Warner; and The Honorable Ike Skelton. IBM is the Patriot Sponsor for this year's Gala. Eagle Sponsors include: C4 Enterprises, LLC; Lockheed Martin Corporation; and, Raytheon Company. Liberty Sponsors include: Agility Defense & Government Services; The Boeing Company; Caterpillar Inc.; EADS North America, Inc.; G4S Wackenhut and WSI; L-3 Communications Corporation; Northrop Grumman Corporation; William D. Smythe Family Foundation; and TriWest Healthcare Alliance. The National Defense University Foundation, Inc. was established in 1982 to support and enhance the mission and goals of the National Defense University through promoting excellence and innovation in education by nurturing high standards of scholarship, leadership and professionalism. The National Defense University is the country's preeminent institution for military, diplomatic and civilian national security education, research and outreach. It is the only university providing a common educational experience for all the various professional communities engaged in national security. The main campus is located at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.
Palm Beach Polo Club International: Pre-season Kick Off Match
By Karen Brooks
HUSH Society Magazine meets with the legendary polo columnist, Alex Webbe, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach during the pre-season kick-off match. It was exciting to finally have an opportunity to meet Alex particularly after chatting over the phone so frequently; it actually felt like we've known each other for years. It was a great to get away from the brisk DC weather and head down to sunny Wellington, Florida to hear the rumbling of the horses' hooves and the whack of the ball as it meets the wooden mallet during the polo match.
The Audi team seized the U.S. Open Polo Championship defeating Las Monjitas 9 – 8 in overtime at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. The players, guests and John Walsh – Palm Beach Polo Club International President of Club Operations were in high spirits in celebration of the win. The International Polo Club Palm Beach is the unsurpassed polo facility in the United States and this tournament has been played in the US since 1904. The club has nine meticulously manicured polo fields that host the most competitive polo tournaments in the country. John said “the season starts January 3rd and you haven't seen anything yet.” The post match entertainment was equally electrifying with wonderful people, great conversations, and delectable food.
This combination of an exquisite venue, mind-blowing polo action, great entertainment and picture perfect weather is completely what attracts individuals to the Palm Beach International Polo Club.
Female Solidarity- A Woman Who Fights For Others
By Karen Brooks
HUSH Society Magazine received a hot tip from Loubna Z. Starnes, about a remarkable woman, Aicha Ech Channa, being honored for the advancement of civil rights for single, Moroccan mothers with children. She is achieving phenomenal accomplishments and her organization, The Associeation Solidarite Feminine (Female Solidarity Association), assists unmarried and single parent, young women to obtain the services, support and career skill-sets needed to ensure their own livelihoods.
A celebratory event was held at the luxurious home of His Excellency Aziz Mekouar, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United States. Upon arrival I was graciously greeted by His Excellency, Lady Maria Felice (His Excellency's wife) and Mrs. Faiza Mehdi (Cultural Attaché to the Embassy of Morocco). Lady Felice personally introduced me to Madame Aïcha Ech Channa where I was engulfed by her warmth and abundant presence. It was an amazing feeling and was very apparent that her success in part, is due to her compassionate demeanor that soars through you while in her company. Although we had some obvious language challenges, our communications were perfectly understood and resulted in smiles, congratulatory discussions and lots of laughter. The wonderful Aïcha Ech Channa, has helped individuals for over 40 years and was honored tonight with the prestigious 2009 Opus Humanitarian Award. What a fantastic and distinguished event, celebrated among people from all walks of life.
HUSH Attends Fight For Children Fight Night- Incredible
The Washington Hilton was the place to be on Thursday night for Fight For Children's Fight Night Event. Hundreds of who's who of entertainers, corporations, and athletes were in the house. Joseph E. Robert Jr., Mayor Fenty, Roy Jones, Smokin Joe Frazier, Skip Johnson, Kenneth Baby Face Edmonds, A. Scott Bolden, Justin K Wine, Al Checchi, Emmanuel S Bailey, Brian Silver, Kwame R. Brown, Allison Tucker, Vincent Gray, Jermaine Dupri, Michael A. Brown, Lon G. Walls, Jason Van Buren, Duane C. McKnight, Vincent B Orange Sr., and Mike Ponticelli to name a few. The attendees who are Fans, were given the opportunity to meet their favorite celebrity while raising money for a good cause — Fight For Children. And the event went off without a glitch once again.
Brian Silver executive of Hush Society Magazine was extremely impressed. “I can't say enough about this event put on by Joseph E. Roberts Jr., this is my first event and will not be my last. The atmosphere was incredible and the attendees were having so much fun that everyone was in a joyous, giving mood. — We were also truly impressed with Al Checchi who did not care the price, just wanted to give back to the children of our fallen Military soldiers, he bid on a flag and won the bid at $60,000 --Amazing!
HUSHAnnual Halloween Masquerade Gala
Washington's Best and Brightest Gather for a Charmed Evening of Merriment
by Juli Robertson
An enchanted gathering of the influential and the beautiful occurred at Washington DC's HUSH Society Galleria. The Mount Pleasant area home of Carlos Allen was the venue for the charity event, which was staged to perfection for the enjoyment of all its guests. Elegance reigned at the HUSH Society's Black Tie Masquerade Ball on Saturday night while guests enjoyed a sumptuous buffet, and delicious cup cakes that were donated by JP Kake Corner. The hot music was provided by Johnnie Steele and the exhibit of fabulous works of art by Kenneth Nyakabwa. Estella Couture LLC donated a beautiful dress to auction for the MVP program (Most Valuable Pupil).
The event was held as a benefit for the Society's Most Valuable Pupil Program. Carlos Allen, Brian Silver , Sharmila Viswasam, Richard Glover, Karen Brooks and Oliva Evans the event organizers, stated that the program is an outgrowth of the Society's philanthropic endeavors: staging elegant, profitable events for the purpose of assisting young people in the community to achieve positive outcomes in their lives.
Johnny Steele provided the music on the main floor while special guest DJ Robert L Shields Esq. spun Hip Hop, Progressive Jazz, funk, R & B and soul hits on the ground level under a wonderful tent donated by Mediaeval Miscellanea Tents.
London mayor shows bike rescue
LONDON (Reuters Life!) –
London Mayor Boris Johnson rescued a woman attacked by a group of girls wielding a metal bar after answering her plea for help during an evening bicycle ride, a spokeswoman for his office said Wednesday. Documentary filmmaker Franny Armstrong was confronted by a group of young teenage girls as she was walking in North London Monday night, media reported. "I was texting on my phone so didn't notice the girls until they pushed me against the car," the Guardian newspaper quoted Armstrong as saying. "I saw that one of them had an iron bar in her hand. It was more than a meter long." "Then along came a cyclist. And I thought, 'Good, he's a big bloke,' and shouted, 'Can you help me please?," The Guardian reported. "I said, 'That's the mayor of London!' and they ran off," Armstrong told the Guardian. "They must have thought they were going to get in trouble. One dropped the bar, so Boris picked it up and cycled after them." Johnson, a Conservative who read classics at Oxford, has been a journalist, author and a member of parliament. He is a passionate cyclist and was elected mayor in 2008. After the incident Johnson escorted Armstrong home. She said that although she had voted for his Labor opponent Ken Livingstone in last year's election, Johnson might be the tougher of the two if you ever found yourself in trouble down a dark alleyway. "He was my knight on a shining bicycle." (Reporting by Catherine Bosley; Editing by Paul Casciato)
A Write to Revolution
By Sharmila Viswasam, Hush Society Magazine “A write to Revolution” is a fight against Illiteracy in Urban America and the African Diaspora. Art Creates life Institute of Leadership and Cultural Development (www.artcreateslife.org) is an international nonprofit organization committed to developing global citizens who then become weapons of mass reconstruction by training them to use art as a vehicle to understand and confront issues that plague humanity. Their vision is to create leaders who value, protect, and support life through service. ACL was founded by Executive Director, Tracie S. Jenkins in the summer of 2002.
The Washington Plaza Hotel hosted the “A Write to Revolution” kickoff party. Some of the special guest that attended was Oscar- Nominated Actress Taraji P. Henson, Lamman Rucker, John Forte, and ABC/WJLA Anchor Cynne Simpson. The ceremony raised awareness of the goals of this great foundation and to help children in urban areas get the help they need to become future stars through mentorship and reading programs.
The Art Creates Life Institute of Leadership and Cultural Development invites you to positively impact the lives of children and families both in the U.S. and the African Diaspora who have been struck by devastating issues that have swept away the hopes and dreams of millions. Their goal is to help these communities reignite their belief in the perseverance of the human spirit, by sharing the untold stories of survivors whose contribution to humanity have been left behind; no history, no footprints, no context for future generations.
Through their work, ACL attempts to capture these stories and the faces behind them, the small miracles that occur through chance meetings, the roar of hope that echoes through the heroic acts of common people, children who dream dreams of better days and quiet nights. The students discover purpose, compassion, commitment, and leadership through service on their lifelong journeys to a dream. Hush Society Magazine was honored to be at this event to show support and looking forward to working with Art creates Life in the near future.
Latin Beauty Queen Gives Back to Community
Maryland resident Consuelo Dee is Ms. MD Belleza Latina and she is in pursuit of the National- Ms. Belleza Latina Pageant in spring 2010. We caught up with Consuelo Dee and we were excited to learn all the great things she is doing in the community, like her passion to work with Breast Cancer Patients. She has also worked with Jerry's Kids, St. Jude's Church, and countless Walk-A-Thons, which is a definite direct result, of her mother's nurturing and life as a care-giver in her place of origin, of El Salvador. Consuelo Dee went on to spend a great part of her pre-teen and teenage years vigorously learning American History, and Language skills in school. Her hard work paid off as she became a translator for the US Court System, and was very instrumental in assisting the judicial system in many cases. Consuelo Dee's personality, communication, dedication, and strong work ethic while working in the Judges Chambers was recognized by different organizations, specifically The Department of Social Services which was in need of a bilingual professional to help their officers. Consuelo Dee graciously accepted the position and saw this as an opportunity to help families, particularly Hispanic families in need. Although she was instrumental in providing a lot of help to families, Consuelo Dee was even more saddened by the many stories of neglect and abuse that she witnessed while working for Social Services. It was these stories that urged Consuelo Dee to become more involved in Philanthropic work. She became very sad and emotional seeing kids that were abused, that she made it her passion to bring a positive out look into people lives. Consuelo Dee began working in different areas of social work to help out as much as she positively could. One area in particular became dear to Consuelo and that was to help increase the awareness of Breast Cancer within the Hispanic Community. She began to pursue a career with the Breast Cancer Center providing education, awareness, and assistance to Men and Women utilizing her bilingual skills to help Doctors effectively communicate with Hispanic patients. Consuelo Dee feels she now has the privilege and responsibility of being a positive role model for present and future beauty queens, and she feels teaching others how to be comfortable in their own bodies and being able to show love for who they truly are, is important. As her own journey progresses, she will continue to succeed in everything she does, and she hopes that one day she will be able to make a difference in the lives of our youth across the world. Consuelo Dee feel's that pageants are more than just poise and beauty; it's a way for all-- to Help Us Support Humanity- (HUSH)!
Gabrielle's Angels Raise $4 Million
Gabrielle's Angels (www.gabriellesangels.org) held a great event at Cipriani Wall Street in NYC raising over $4 Million Dollars. Denise Rich the Co-Founder of the organization put together a marvelous star studded line up of: Natalie Cole, Sherri Shepherd, Blake Lively, Robin Thicke, Paula Patton, Satr Jones, Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford, Buzz Aldrin, Swizz Beatz and more. The mission of Gabrielle's Angel's Foundation is to dedicate all its efforts to help find a cure for Cancer.
Gabrielle's Angel Foundation for Cancer Research was created in 1996 by Denise Rich and her daughters and son in-law, Daniella Rich, Ilona Rich Schachter and Philip Aouad in memory of Rich's daughter, Gabrielle Rich Aouad. Gabrielle lost her long and valiant struggle with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) at the young age of 27.
It was Gabrielle's wish that a foundation be created to help spare others the suffering she endured. Gabrielle's Angel Foundation for Cancer Research funds basic and clinical medical research in both conventional and integrative disciplines which focus on prevention, treatment and quality of life issues of leukemia, lymphoma and related cancers. To date the foundation has awarded nearly $11 million in medical Research Awards making Gabrielle's Angel Foundation one of the largest non-governmental sources of grant support to blood cancer researchers at the nation's leading institutions.
“Beneath the Veil” Play
By Sharmila Viswasam, Hush Society Magazine
Hush Society and Michelle Katz, MSN teamed up with “Beneath the Veil” production team to honor the brave women of the Middle East. The Play focused on women of the Middle Eastern Culture and what they went through and still go though to obtain their freedom and their right to speak up. Most of these women in these cultures are faced with public executions, allegations of human rights violations like massacres and torture, and are forced to beg because they are prevented from working.
The Play “Beneath the Vail” was performed at The John F. Kennedy Center In Washington, DC The play was written my Mary Apick and Ginger Perkins and directed and produced by Mary Apick. Vocal performance was by Shani Rigsbee and music was performed by Behfar Bahadoran and Steve Bloom. The Performance is dedicated to Neda Agha Soltan and all the other heroes who continue to risk their lives for freedom and democracy all around the world. The play was written in honor of Tahirih, Zahra Kazemi, and Melody. Tahirih was an Iranian poet who was imprisoned and eventually executed as a heretic in 1852. She is best known for deliberately entering a gathering of religious Muslim men without a veil as a symbolic act of defiance. Zahra Kazemi was a Canadian journalist who was tortured, raped and ultimately killed in Tehran for taking photographs of the exterior of Evin Prison in 2003. Melody was a sweet young woman who died in vain.
The Play gives a view inside a male dominated world that dictates how women think to what they wear and say. It was very powerful to see how men treat woman and this play opens your eye to that. Hush Society Magazine had a wonderful time to learn about this and stand for the rights of these women in the Middle Eastern culture.
T.I. wins at the BET awards
By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr., Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA T.I. didn't need to attend the BET Hip-Hop Awards to win two trophies on Saturday.
The rapper T.I., won the best collaboration award with Rhianna for the song "Live Your Life" and the album of the year award for "Paper Trail." His fiancee Tameka "Tiny" Cottle accepted his awards at the ceremony in Atlanta and read a letter by the rapper, who began serving a yearlong sentence in late May. "Although I'm not there with you all, I'm there in spirit," Cottle quoted the rapper as writing. "My road to redemption is almost over. ... Thanks for the support." Jay-Z was honored as the "MVP of the Year," while Drake took home "Rookie of the Year," and Ice Cube received the "I Am Hip-Hop" icon award. Ice Cube said he was humbled by the award, and he believes his career as filmmaker could earn him more honors in the future. He helped launch the gangsta rap genre with the group NWA, and he starred in "Barbershop" and "Friday," which he also co-wrote. "When you get recognized by your peers for a life of work, you got to be humbled," the rap veteran said. "I'm honored by this. I have 20 more years of work left in me. I hope (BET) is ready to give out two of these awards." Rapper Busta Rhymes presented the award for "DJ of the Year" to DJ AM, the celebrity spinner who died of an accidental drug overdose in August. Kanye West, meanwhile, couldn't hijack the stage, because the rapper was a no-show. West had been expected to attend the fourth annual awards show. He fell under scrutiny for interrupting Taylor Swift's award-winning moment at last month's MTV Video Music Awards.
Jay-Z took the stage with Young Jeezy to perform "Real as It Gets" and rap group Goodie Mob performed its song "Cell Therapy."
3 Americans share Nobel Prize in physics
By Matt Moore and Karl Ritter, Associated Press Writers
STOCKHOLM Three scientists who created the technology behind digital photography and helped link the world through fiber-optic networks shared the Nobel Prize in physics Charles K. Kao was cited for his breakthrough involving the transmission of light in fiber optics while Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith were honored for inventing an imaging semiconductor circuit known as the CCD sensor. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said all three have American citizenship. Kao also holds British citizenship while Boyle is also Canadian. The award's 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) purse will be split between the three with Kao taking half and Boyle and Smith each getting a fourth. The three also receive a diploma and an invitation to the prize ceremonies in Stockholm on Dec. 10. Kao, who was born in Shanghai and is a British citizen, was cited for his 1966 discovery that showed how to transmit light over long distances via fiber-optic cables, which became the backbone of modern communication networks that carry phone calls and high-speed Internet data around the world. "With a fiber of purest glass it would be possible to transmit light signals over 100 kilometers (62.14 miles), compared to only 20 meters (65.62 feet) for the fibers available in the 1960s," the citation said. Boyle and Smith worked together to invent the charged-coupled device, or CCD, the eye of the digital camera found in everything from the cheapest point-and-shoot to high-speed, delicate surgical instruments. In its citation, the Academy said that Boyle and Smith "invented the first successful imaging technology using a digital sensor, a CCD." It said that technology builds on Albert Einstein's discovery of the photoelectric effect, for which he was awarded the Nobel physics prize in 1921. The two men, working at Bell Labs in New Jersey, designed an image sensor that could transform light into a large number of image points, or pixels, in a short time. "It revolutionized photography, as light could now be captured electronically instead of on film," the Academy said. "Without the CCD, the development of digital cameras would have taken a slower course. Without CCD we would not have seen the astonishing images of space taken by the Hubble space telescope, or the images of the red desert on our neighboring planet Mars," it said. Boyle, in a phone call to the academy, said he is reminded of his work with Smith "when I go around these days and see everybody using our little digital cameras, everywhere. Although they don't use exactly our CCD, it started it all." He added that the biggest achievement resulting from his work was when images of Mars were transmitted back to Earth using digital cameras. "We saw for the first time the surface of Mars," Boyle said. "It wouldn't have been possible without our invention." The academy said digital image sensors are usually involved when photo, video or television are used for medical applications, such as taking images inside the body. "It can reveal fine details in very distant and in extremely small objects," the academy said. The physics award is the second of the 2009 Nobel Prizes to be announced. On Monday, three American scientists shared the Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering a key mechanism in the genetic operations of cells, an insight that has inspired new lines of research into cancer. Elizabeth H. Blackburn, who also has Australian citizenship, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak were cited for their work in solving the mystery of how chromosomes, the rod-like structures that carry DNA, protect themselves from degrading when cells divide
Firms are getting billions, but homeowners get $0
By Chris Adams, McClatchy
WASHINGTON The federal government is engaged in a massive mortgage modification program that's on track to send billions in tax dollars to many of the very companies that judges or regulators have cited in recent years for abusive mortgage practices. The firms, called mortgage servicers, have been cited for badgering, manipulating or lying to their customers; sticking them with bogus fees, or improperly foreclosing on them. Mortgage servicers are the middlemen between homeowners and the investors that hold their mortgages, collecting homeowners' checks and disbursing payments for the mortgages, property tax and insurance. They're a necessary player for any modification. The reliance on such companies points to an ironic paradox for federal regulators: Cleaning up the nation's financial crisis often rewards the firms that helped create the mess. Those Wall Street banks and mortgage servicing companies argue that they're best positioned to repair the damage they've helped cause. In the case of the mortgage program, the firms getting the taxpayers' money are, after all, the firms that control the troubled mortgages. To make matters worse, the Government Accountability Office, Congress' watchdog, has said that the Treasury Department hasn't done enough to oversee the companies participating in what's known as the Home Affordable Modification Program, which emerged from the bank bailout bill Congress passed last fall. The modification program has been slow to get off the ground. Since it began this spring, only 12 percent of a potential 3 million delinquent mortgages have begun the process of being reworked, or put into "a trial modification," according to Treasury Department data through August, the most recent available. "We've consistently been behind this problem," said Mark Pearce , North Carolina's chief deputy commissioner of banks, who works with a state-level group of attorneys general from across the country. "Two years ago, maybe some were caught by surprise. But we still haven't gotten to a point where the servicers have demonstrated an ability to handle the problem." Housing advocates say homeowners still face "reluctant lenders," said Irwin Trauss , an attorney who represents low-income homeowners for Philadelphia Legal Assistance. He recently testified at a hearing of the Congressional Oversight Panel , the watchdog that monitors the Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP, or the bank bailout bill. Trauss said that Bank of America , at least through July, told homeowners that they couldn't participate in the program when they should've been allowed to do so, and he alleges that Saxon Mortgage forced one of his clients into bankruptcy without providing a valid reason for turning down her modification request. Trauss' comments were echoed by other housing advocates, who've found mortgage servicers slow to respond and confused about modification rules. "Servicers look for reasons to avoid making the modifications when they are most needed, rather than for opportunities to make them," Trauss said. Saxon Mortgage said it couldn't comment on Trauss' testimony because it wasn't provided with specific details of the account in question. Bank of America said there could've been instances in which improperly trained employees were confused about the modification rules, but the vast majority of customers have been given proper information. Although it's early in the Treasury Department's program, housing advocates say the servicer industry for years has resisted helping customers with modifications. Donna and Ronnie Fruia , of Troutman, N.C. , learned firsthand how difficult it can be. The couple was in the midst of a series of health crises, and three members of the family and the couple's son, Donna's mother and Ronnie were in the hospital. It was then that Donna got an urgent call that somebody from her mortgage company, CitiFinancial, had just showed up in her husband's hospital room, where he was recovering from a stroke. "They said, 'Some guy's in there aggravating him,'" she said. "At the time, I couldn't even really talk that good," Ronnie said. "But he wanted me to sign a bunch of papers." The Fruias had been trying to get a mortgage modification from CitiFinancial. The company, however, was pushing the Fruias to accept a modification that wouldn't have cut their interest rate, they said. Only after the episode in the hospital room and the involvement of state regulators did CitiFinancial cut the mortgage's interest rate from 11.5 percent to 5 percent, lowering their monthly payment from $985 to $602 . The process took from the start of the year until July. "They were the perfect candidate for someone with a subprime rate getting a modification," said Henrietta Thompson , who as housing coordinator for United Family Services , a United Way -funded organization in Charlotte , helped the Fruias. "I know if the banking commissioner hadn't gotten involved, it wouldn't have happened." While CitiFinancial, a unit of Citigroup Inc. one of the largest recipients of TARP bailout funds said it couldn't talk about specific customers, it's "pleased" that the case was resolved. "We have strict guidelines concerning the behavior of our representatives, and the incident you described would not be acceptable under our policies, even if well-intentioned," said Mark Rodgers , a spokesman. It shouldn't have been a surprise that the mortgage service companies would have trouble executing wide-scale mortgage modifications. They generally aren't set up for the complicated business of reworking loans. In 2007, an assistant attorney general in Iowa , Patrick Madigan , analyzed the looming mortgage meltdown and found that mortgage service companies have a "highly automated process, spending as little time as possible on an individual loan and preferably no time actually talking to the customer." "Loan modifications, by contrast, are a time-intensive process that requires a great deal of individualized attention," he wrote. "In some situations, it may be easier and cheaper for a servicer to simply foreclose on a borrower than to try to fix the underlying problem." Service companies had high turnover and employees who saw their jobs as akin to that of collection agents. Some were known to hang up on callers if they started to get tough questions, Madigan wrote. He urged mortgage service companies to hire far more staff and boost training. That year, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller convened a group of state officials ( Iowa's Madigan helped coordinate the effort), who then contacted the nation's 20 largest servicers of risky subprime mortgages. By September 2008 , however, as the economy went into freefall, the mortgage industry's efforts had been "profoundly disappointing." "Too many homeowners face foreclosure without receiving any meaningful assistance by their mortgage servicer, a reality that is growing worse rather than better," said a report from the State Foreclosure Prevention Working Group . By this year, more federal and private efforts were under way to modify millions of troubled mortgages, and customer service was beginning to improve. Companies, though, were still having trouble getting the jobs done. "It is difficult for homeowners to initiate productive discussions with lenders because many servicers lack the capacity to deal with a large volume of modifications," the Congressional Oversight Panel reported. "Servicers are generally understaffed for handling a large volume of consumer loan workouts." The panel found that it's "unlikely" that mortgage servicers will be able to do all they're being asked to do: "Servicers are simply in the wrong line of business for doing modifications en masse," it said. Madigan, the assistant Iowa attorney general, said in an interview that, "The mortgage industry has responded to this crisis with a series of half steps based on a notion that a turnaround in the housing market was just around the corner." Under the Treasury Department's mortgage modification program, three parties can participate: the company that owns the loan, the company that services the loan, and the homeowner. All get a portion of the more than $20 billion that the federal government currently estimates it could spend to keep homes out of foreclosure. While the Treasury said it's necessary to take in as many mortgage service companies as possible, the GAO found that the department wasn't doing enough to monitor the process. In a July report, the GAO said that the department had "significant gaps in its oversight structure," and was short-staffed in the office monitoring the modification program. As of July eight months into the program the Treasury had filled fewer than half the positions in a key modification office. (Many of those jobs have since been filled, the department said.) Beyond that, the government had conducted "readiness reviews" of only seven of 27 mortgage servicers the GAO examined; no more were planned. The reviews only included interviews with senior executives and the information gathered wasn't verified. "Treasury cannot identify, assess and address risks associated with servicers that lack the capacity to fulfill all program requirements," the GAO said. Treasury said it's beefing up its review procedures and also said it recognizes many of the problems and has been working to correct them. "Clearly, we're not there yet," said Seth Wheeler , one of the Treasury officials who oversees the modification effort. "Clearly there's still inconsistent application of the program, even though we have made progress." Several companies in the Treasury program have been cited by judges or regulators for having engaged in improper behavior with their customers. They include Select Portfolio Servicing Inc. , a Utah -based company formerly known as Fairbanks Capital Corp. ; Countrywide Home Loans Inc. , now a unit of Bank of America Corp. ; Carrington Mortgage Services LLC , based in California ; Saxon Mortgage Services Inc. , a unit of Morgan Stanley ; EMC Mortgage Corp. , now a subsidiary of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. ; and Green Tree Servicing, a Minnesota company. Ocwen Financial Corp. , a Florida -based company that services more than 300,000 mortgages nationwide, could receive more than $200 million in TARP payments. "Ocwen has screwed up my finances so bad you can't believe it," said Brad Rhoton , whose rental properties in the Houston suburbs are part of a nationwide lawsuit against Ocwen. "It's been the most maddening process you can imagine." Rhoton's lawsuit charges that Ocwen constantly misapplied Rhoton's mortgage payments and tacked on unnecessary fees and insurance, causing his accounts to fall behind. So far under the Treasury's modification program, Ocwen has started trial modifications in 8 percent of potential mortgages below the national average and well below some other servicers. Paul Koches , a company spokesman, said the number is misleadingly low. Ocwen, he said, has set rigorous standards in documenting its modifications and is therefore likely to have a far higher share of its modifications stick than other companies. He said that Ocwen undertook its own loan modification program in 2007 and has beefed up its staff substantially since then. As for the suits against it, Koches said they represent a fraction of the firm's customer base, and many were copycat lawsuits that tried to paint Ocwen with the same brush as other mortgage servicer firms. He said the company continues to vigorously defend itself against lawsuits. Over the years, Ocwen has lost other lawsuits and has been slapped down by a federal judge for its conduct. In one Texas bankruptcy case, for example, a federal judge blasted Ocwen after it tried to pass the cost of a $1,000 sanction onto the customer it was cited for mistreating. When the judge found out, he said, "Ocwen's course of conduct in this proceeding bordered on the outrageous." He fined the company an additional $27,500 . The case was far from isolated, however. A jury in Galveston, Texas , ordered the company to pay $11.5 million , and one down the coast in Corpus Christi ordered it to pay $3 million for unfairly foreclosing on homeowners (both cases were then settled in the appeals process for undisclosed amounts). In both cases, the plaintiffs were on the edge financially, and so when Ocwen added extra fees to their accounts. they quickly fell behind. That was part of their strategy, plaintiffs' attorneys said. One of the key witnesses before both juries was a former Ocwen account officer who said the company trained its sights on customers who had substantial equity in their homes. In those cases, the company had the most to gain if customers lost their homes in foreclosure. "We didn't treat the people very well, but the money was pretty good," the former account officer, Ron Davis , testified during one of the trials. (Davis couldn't be reached for further comment.) The motive, he said, was simple: force people into foreclosure as a way to earn higher bonuses. "We would call the customers and ask them what bridge they were going to live under," Davis testified. Ocwen lost that lawsuit. A Texas jury found that the company engaged in "fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading" tactics that it called "unconscionable." The case involved an elderly Texas woman the bank tried to evict from her home even after a local judge had ordered it not to. The jury awarded her $11.5 million , which was reduced to $1.8 million , according to Ocwen's Securities and Exchange Commission filings; the case was settled during appeals. Outside the courts, federal regulators in 2004 approached Ocwen to request that the company enter into a formal supervisory agreement under which it promised to improve its customer service. It required, for example, that Ocwen beef up its ombudsman to take customer complaints; adopt a "borrower-oriented customer service commitment plan"; take reasonable actions to see if homeowners already have hazard insurance before adding it to customers' accounts; and regularly report to federal regulators about outstanding customer complaints. Koches of Ocwen said the agreement was merely an attempt to formalize many of the steps the company was already taking and that the company and federal regulators wanted avoid the kind of problems other firms had experienced. Later that year, however, Ocwen took steps to ensure that such regulatory decisions wouldn't come again. It successfully petitioned to have itself removed from oversight by the Office of Thrift Supervision , thus ending the supervisory agreement hatched just months before, according to Ocwen's regulatory filings. Ocwen said it removed itself from OTS oversight for business reasons unrelated to the supervisory agreement and that it continues to follow the intent of the agreement. (This article is part of an occasional series on problems in mortgage finance.)
Gates brings education message to MTV, Nickelodeon
By SHAYA TAYEFE MOHAJER, Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES, Students who might be too glued to their televisions to keep up with homework are going to find channels like MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon prodding them to get on task and graduate. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is partnering with Viacom Inc.'s television networks, education leaders and celebrities to launch an awareness campaign to reduce the number of dropouts. The foundation, started by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, has invested more than $2 billion in educational programs since 2000. "People should understand how the system is falling short today and how it really contradicts our commitment to equal opportunity," Gates told The Associated Press. "If we don't change it now, it will hurt the future of the country as a whole." Only one-third of American high school students graduate with the skills necessary to succeed in college and the nation's workplaces, he said. "All too often, the value and benefit of education are not real enough to kids," said Tony Miller, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. Charities and industry won't have to go it alone; about $100 billion of the federal stimulus package is dedicated to improvements in education, said Miller. The "Get Schooled" initiative focuses on low graduation rates in college and high school and the accountability of teachers. Gates criticized the practice of salaries rewarding seniority over proven efficacy, calling it a detriment to quality education. A student drops out of an American high school every 26 seconds, according to the Seattle-based Gates Foundation. At that rate, not enough American children are graduating high school and college to stay competitive in the global marketplace, said Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman. "We don't know much about substance, we're about fluff at Viacom," Dauman said with a laugh. The Viacom chief, whose networks also include VH1, CMT, Spike TV, TV Land and Logo, said he told Gates a year ago, "We know kids, we know how to reach them; if you provide the substance we can be the megaphone." To launch the five-year campaign, the documentary "Get Schooled" was set to premiere on all of Viacom's networks simultaneously at 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday night. The documentary features pop singer Kelly Clarkson, basketball star LeBron James and President Barack Obama, but the program's real focus is on people behind the scenes, like a presidential speechwriter, and how education brought them success. Dauman said the "Get Schooled" initiative would find its way into plot lines and programs, like BET's documentary "Bring Your 'A' Game," which featured prominent black men who have achieved success. But "we're not going to go to all PBS-type programming," Dauman said. "In order to reach kids, you have to entertain them." Activism is not new for Viacom and its networks. MTV has raised AIDS awareness, promoted participation in elections and led other education initiatives. At a Los Angeles event to launch the "Get Schooled" campaign, New York City schools chief Joel Klein said he was hopeful the approach would succeed because "trying to get traction with the millions and millions of kids in school is something that's been a challenge." "When you bring the resources and the vision that the Gates family and foundation has, coupled with the distribution assets that Viacom has with the role models, the glitz they can produce a real good mix of stuff that will capture kids," Klein said. Klein and others praised the successes of charter schools, which have drawn the ire of union representatives and school officials. Union leaders in Los Angeles say that such schools would decrease the size of districts and that instructors at charter schools are not covered by unions. An e-mail to the nation's largest labor union, the National Education Association, was not returned immediately Tuesday. Privately operated schools undertook fresh approaches to schooling, had happier teachers and inspired healthy competition in achievement among New York City schools, said Klein. In Los Angeles, the Board of Education approved a resolution that invites outsiders to submit proposals to develop new charter schools, while increasing accountability standards. Private charter school operators, communities and the mayor's office will submit proposals for the operation of 50 new schools that will open over the next four years, as well as 200 existing schools that are chronic underperformers. Tuesday's event coincided with a speech Obama made in Arlington, Va., that was broadcast to schools across the nation. In the address, Obama urged students to hit the books, saying that success is hard-won and that every student has something at which they excel.
Goodwill Returns Trashed Treasure Worth $500,000
By Kimberly Chapin A recent, generous donation from a hotel included the usual: furniture, mirrors, lamps, paintings and other decorative pieces. While going through those, workers stumbled across a life-size, bronze statue of a ballerina weighing in at 2 tons!
Intrigued by the expensive-looking, signed statue, the management at Goodwill in Miami did some research and identified the original artist and the fact that a only ten such ballerinas were produced decades ago. When they were created, collectors paid half a million dollars for each piece.
However, not many bargain hunters head to Goodwill searching for $500,000 statues. Savvy art dealers recommended Goodwill sell the statue in the worldwide art market. They could bring in a fortune, all for the nonprofit organization.
But rather than reel in the big bucks, the management at Goodwill decided to return the ballerina.
"Once we learned of the value and history of the ballerina and that the ballerina came from a large corporation that has gone through several ownership changes over the years, we suspected that the owner did not have a clue of the value of the statue," Dennis Pastrana, President and CEO of Goodwill, said. Goodwill then advised a representative of the owner who was pleasantly surprised that Goodwill contacted them.
"We have a reputation for integrity and honesty. And while we could have kept the statue, in good conscience we knew that it would have been wrong and unethical to attempt to sell such a valuable piece of art without notifying the donor first."
The donor, who has requested to remain anonymous, had already been generous. "Their other donations have translated into a value of about $68,000 to Goodwill," said Pastrana.
Goodwill Industries is a national nonprofit social services organization for training and employing people with disabilities. In 2008, the institution provided training and employment services to over 4,800 people with disabilities and special needs in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
How To Lose 3 Million In 6 Years
by Mike Krumboltz
Stop us if this sounds familiar: A very lucky person wins the lottery and expects life to change for the better, but instead, things go horribly wrong. It's a story as old as the hills, but each time it happens, it causes a huge commotion in Search. The latest "victim" of sudden wealth is a young woman from the U.K. who won millions of bucks several years ago, only to lose the vast majority of it shortly thereafter. Callie Rogers was just 16 when she won a whopping $3 million in the lottery. Six years later, she reports that she blew untold sums on drugs, partying, exotic cars, and breast implants. A staggering $730,000 went to designer clothes alone, Ms. Rogers explains in an article from AOL. Says Rogers: "I honestly wish I'd never won the lottery money and knowing what I know now I should have just given it all back to them." She's currently left with around $32,000. In these trying economic times, Ms. Rogers will likely find little sympathy. Still, it's worth noting that she's hardly the first big winner who wished she'd never bought a ticket. There is such a thing as the lottery curse: As mentioned in a previous Buzz Log, there are numerous cases of lotto winners getting divorced due to stress and losing everything from poor investments. A few have even died at the hands of greedy relatives. A 2007 article from ABC will fill you in on a few more examples. Knowing she's not the first jackpot winner to suffer hardship won't make her life any easier. But perhaps Ms. Rogers can take some comfort from the fact that there are others out there with eerily similar stories: They won big then lost big, and often wish they'd never even played.