Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry Reach Truce in Custody War


After a long court battle and an ugly fistfight outside her house, Halle Berry and her ex Gabriel Aubry appear to have settled their key differences over custody of 4 ½-year-old daughter Nahla – for now.

"The parties have reached an amicable agreement," read a written statement held up by attorney Blair Berk, who represents Berry, after a hearing Thursday in Los Angeles. "There will be no further statements regarding this matter."

Aubry, wearing a black sport coat with dark sunglasses to mask his bruised face, was present, but Berry and her fiancé Olivier Martinez did not attend.

Just exactly what they agreed to – earlier issues ranged from residency to restraining orders – wasn't known.

But the deal was worked out on the same day an emergency protective order issued against Aubry was to expire. That order barred him from seeing his daughter or going anywhere near Berry and Martinez.

It's also unclear whether Aubry's restraining order against Martinez, filed Monday, remains in effect or if it had been, or will be, withdrawn.

Meanwhile, LAPD Commander Andrew Smith tells PEOPLE the Thanksgiving Day altercation between Aubry and Martinez is still under investigation. "Our officers have initially concluded that Aubry was the primary instigator," he says, but adds it's too early to say whether the case will be referred to prosecutors.

source: people.com

Facial hair fun: Bacon shaving cream, mustache bottle openers


As the facial-hair-focused month of Movember draws to a close, we thought we'd revisit some of the beard- and mustache-themed merchandise that's come to our attention, including bacon-scented shaving cream, a stainless steel, mustache-shaped bottle opener and a book cataloging the cultural history of the 'stache.

The most recent to cross our desk is J&D's Foods' Bacon Shaving Cream, touted as "the highest quality meat-scented shaving cream on the market today."

Justin Esch, a co-founder and "bacontrepreneur" at Seattle-based J&D's (the company, which launched in 2007, is responsible for a slew of bacon-flavored products such as Baconnaise and a bacon-flavored popcorn called BaconPOP) told All the Rage that their latest product does not contain any actual pork products.

"We wanted that," he said in a recent phone interview, "but we ran into shelf-life issues and things like that. Our goal was to make a real, high-quality shaving cream -- something classy."

To that end, Esch says, the company worked with the Art of Shaving, the Gillette-owned brand that's carved out a niche in the high-end men's grooming market, to develop the product, which is available in a limited run of 2,500 jars as of Nov. 28. J&D's Foods Bacon Shaving Cream, 5-ounce jar ($14.99), available online at www.baconshavingcream.com.

During a recent trip to Las Vegas for the 2012 National Beard and Moustache Championships, we ran across what may be the perfect stocking stuffer for the facial-hair aficianado/beer drinker in your life: a mustache-shaped bottle opener.

A single, laser-cut piece of stainless-steel gives the Mustache Bottle Opener a simple, sturdy and reliable feel that's sorely lacking in these high-tech, ever-more-complicated days.

Created barely a year ago, it's the brainchild of Adam Bierton, a Rochester, New York, metalwork artist who'd been asked to create a mustache-themed beer tap for a local pub. It was while working on that project that Bierton realized the curved end of the mustache shape he'd created could easily pop the top off a frosty-cold one.

The nearly $20 price tag might seem hefty for a bottle opener at first blush, but we prefer to think of it as investing in a portable, functional, made-in-America, trendy piece of pocket art that'll last a lifetime of six-pack-popping. Mustache Bottle opener ($19.99), keychain ($20.99) and necklace ($27.99), available online at mustachebottleopener.com.

One of the judges at this year's battle of the bearded in Las Vegas was Allan Peterkin, a Toronto-based psychiatrist who has written and commented extensively on the topic of facial hair, and whose latest book,   "One Thousand Mustaches: A Cultural History of the Mo," was published in September.

The paperback book is part illustrated facial-hair field guide, which is helpful if one finds themselves agonizing, for example, about whether the English mustache they're looking at is a peculiar sub-species (that style alone has nine) and part historical survey of famous lip spinach.

It also turns out to be a surprisingly rich treasure trove of tonsorial trivia. We had no idea, for example, that "the mustache  is capable of absorbing twenty percent of its own weight in liquid," or that "[u]ntil the 1940s a man had plural 'mustaches.' Now he has but one 'mustache.'"

Now that's our kind of splitting hairs.

source: latimes.com

Amy Winehouse Play Canceled After Father Objects


A play about the life of Amy Winehouse has been scrapped after the late singer's father denied permission to use her music and likeness, according to the New York Times. The Royal Theater in Denmark has canceled the production, which was set to open January 30th, after the reaction from Mitch Winehouse.

Eleven Danish playwrights collaborated on the script for the play, which focused on the singer's troubles with drugs and alcohol and "the enormous pressure a sensationalist public put on a young superstar when her problems began," as the producers suggested. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in July 2011 at the age of 27.

source: rollingstone.com




A play about the life of Amy Winehouse has been scrapped after the late singer's father denied permission to use her music and likeness, according to the New York Times. The Royal Theater in Denmark has canceled the production, which was set to open January 30th, after the reaction from Mitch Winehouse.
Eleven Danish playwrights collaborated on the script for the play, which focused on the singer's troubles with drugs and alcohol and "the enormous pressure a sensationalist public put on a young superstar when her problems began," as the producers suggested. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in July 2011 at the age of 27.


Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/amy-winehouse-play-canceled-after-father-objects-20121126#ixzz2DQ9RfMoJ
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

Purchase Mortgage Market Share Shrinks to 15-month Low


The market share of purchase mortgages that closed in October reached its lowest level since August 2011.  Only 31 percent of all mortgages that closed last month were used to purchase a house versus 69 percent to refinance, according to the latest origination report from Ellie Mae released today.

The FHA loan market share also reached the lowest level since Ellis Mae began issuing the report 15 months ago.  Only about 19 percent of all mortgages closed in the month were FHA loans and 74 percent were conventional.  The decline in FHA market share, which was 24 percent a year ago, comes as FHA announced it will raise its annual premium an average cost of about $13 per month per borrower next year in order to reduce a $16.3 billion net worth deficit uncovered in the agency’s annual audit.

The closing rate for all loans jumped four points in October, rising to 54.5 percent of all applications, the highest closing rate in a year.  The closing rate for refinancing was 51.3 percent and for purchase loans rose to 61.2 percent, slightly higher than the September rate and a sign that borrowers are in better shape with credit, down payments and documentation.

Average FICO scores, loan-to-value ratios and debt-to-income ratios for all types of loans didn’t vary much from September, suggesting that lenders are not loosening standards.

Average time to close increased from 50 to 54 days from September for October for all loans.  All of the increase came from refinancings, which increased from 53 to 57 days.

The Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report provides monthly data and insights from a robust sampling of closed loan applications that flow through Ellie Mae’s mortgage management software and Ellie Mae Network™. In 2011, the total volume of mortgages that ran through Ellie Mae’s Encompass360 mortgage management software was approximately two million loan applications, or 20 percent of all U.S. mortgage originations.

source: thenichereport.com

Mayim Bialik and Michael Stone Divorcing


After "much consideration and soul-searching," Mayim Bialik announced Wednesday that she and husband Michael Stone are divorcing after nine years of marriage.

The Big Bang Theory star, who has sons Miles, 7, and Fred, 4, with Stone, cites "irreconcilable differences" for the split, which she revealed in a statement on her Kveller.com parenting blog.

"Divorce is terribly sad, painful and incomprehensible for children. It is not something we have decided lightly," she writes.

The former star of TV's Blossom, 36, also says that the split is not due to the attachment parenting she discusses in her book Beyond the Sling. "Relationships are complicated no matter what style of parenting you choose," she says.

"The main priority for us now is to make the transition to two loving homes as smooth and painless as possible," Bialik continues. "Our sons deserve parents committed to their growth and health and that’s what we are focusing on. Our privacy has always been important and is even more so now, and we thank you in advance for respecting it as we negotiate this new terrain."

She concludes by saying, "We will be ok."

The couple were married in August 2003 in Pasadena, Calif.

source: people.com

Euro zone likely to reach deal on Greek aid payment

BRUSSELS - Euro zone finance ministers are likely to approve the next tranche of loans to Greece on Tuesday although the money is unlikely to be disbursed before December and a deal on debt reduction may need further talks.

Officials familiar with preparations for the finance ministers' meeting expect a "political endorsement in principle" on unfreezing loans to Athens, after Greece completed almost all the reforms that were required.

"It is clear that Greece has delivered," the chairman of the euro zone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, told reporters before the meeting.

"We must still reach an understanding on several details and I would expect that the chances are good that we will come to a final and joint solution this evening. But I'm not entirely certain... about the matter," he said.

Hours before the meeting, set to start at 1600 GMT, views on the outcome were still quite far apart among the individual ministers, but a compromise was possible, officials said.
"I hope, I believe and I want to a find a solution tonight," French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said in Paris.

But Finnish Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen was less optimistic.

"I'm not at all sure that it will happen. More information is needed before a decision can be made, so the situation is very much open," she said after briefing parliament in Helsinki.

Greece got a second financing programme from the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund in February, but two subsequent parliamentary elections and a deep depression threw its reforms and fiscal consolidation off course.

Lending was frozen in June and to get it going again Greece had to show it was fully committed to a detailed package of economic reforms or "prior actions".

But the euro zone and the IMF also want to be sure that Greek debt, expected to be almost 190 percent of GDP next year, will fall at some point to a more sustainable 120 percent, so that they will not have to keep financing Athens.

The IMF and the euro zone are at odds on whether to shift the original target date for Greece to do that from 2020 to 2022, torn between the need to retain market confidence and allowing the Greek economy some breathing space.

Reducing the debt

The ministers will also discuss how to reduce debt in a country where the economy is expected to contract for a sixth year running in 2013.

The talks will be based on a debt sustainability analysis prepared by the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

Options include halving the interest on existing, bilateral loans to Greece from the current 150 basis points above financing costs, lengthening their maturities, lowering fees charged by the temporary bailout fund EFSF and a debt buy-back.

Germany has floated an idea that Greece could buy back half of its 60 billion euros in bonds remaining in private hands, offering 25 cents per euro.

Euro zone officials have asked for a legal analysis of a debt buy-back and a more operational description for the Tuesday talks. A senior French official said a decision on the buy-back could even be taken on Tuesday.

"It's possible as soon as tonight, it's an option on the menu," the official said.

German Deputy Finance Minister Steffen Kampeter said that if a deal on cutting Greek debt eluded euro zone finance ministers on Tuesday, work would continue this week.

Once a deal is done, proposals on how to cut Greek debt and provide additional financing can be sent to national parliaments for approval, a step expected to be completed by Nov. 30.

This will give Athens time to complete the few outstanding "prior actions". International lenders will check if the remaining reforms are in place on Nov. 28 and euro zone finance ministers will make a final decision to pay the next tranche to Athens on Dec. 3, according to the schedule seen by Reuters.

Greece and the European Commission would then sign a revised memorandum of understanding on Dec. 4 and Greece would get the money on Dec. 5.

Having missed two tranche payments because of the suspension of the programme, Greece should now get a total of 44 billion euros if the next tranche, due in December, is paid out together with the overdue ones.

More than half of that total is cash to recapitalize Greek banks after Greece's debt restructuring hurt their capital base. But some officials said incomplete data on the recapitalization might result in the payout of 31 billion euros, rather than the full 44 billion.

The ministers will also have to decide how to finance two extra years, until 2016, they gave Greece to reach the target of a primary surplus that would allow the country to start cutting its debt pile in a sustainable way.

The troika estimated that such an extension would entail almost 33 billion euros more in financing for Athens, which is politically difficult because of growing opposition to bailouts in many euro zone countries, notably Germany and Finland.

European Central Bank policymaker Joerg Asmussen said on Sunday the euro zone should agree on just two years of funding for Greece and leave further help to be decided later, a view likely to irk the IMF, which wants a permanent solution. — Reuters

source: gmanetwork.com

One Direction top British single and album charts

LONDON - Boy band One Direction topped Britain's singles and album charts on Sunday, outselling new releases from rock veterans Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones, the Official Charts Company said.
The English-Irish quintet shot to number one in the album charts with "Take Me Home", with one of its tracks, "Little Things", also taking first place in the singles rankings.
Singer Rod Stewart had to settle for number two for his new collection of seasonal classics "Merry Christmas Baby", while the Rolling Stones were third with their 50th anniversary compilation "GRRR!".
Also new in the album lists were British tenor Alfie Boe at number six with "Storyteller", while American punk band Green Day entered in tenth place with "¡Dos!".
American singer Bruno Mars took second place in the singles charts with "Locked Out Of Heaven", just ahead of "DNA" at number three from British girl group Little Mix. 

source: gmanetwork.com

Should You Be Scared Of Inflation?


More than anything else, the financial markets are driven by fear.  Investors fear large, unexpected moves in the markets.  They fear missing out on opportunities.  And, most of all, they fear losing money.

Of course, fear becomes a real factor in the financial markets when a major crisis occurs, such as the bank bailouts in 2008.  Fortunately, these types of events don’t happen all that often.

On a more consistent basis, nothing generates investor fear like the threat of inflation.  Year after year, analysts and experts of all kinds warn of the adverse effects inflation can have on an investment portfolio.

Basically, inflation means the costs of goods and services are rising over a period of time.  As such, each dollar you earn can purchase less and less of those goods and services.

So what makes inflation such a big deal?

Well, if your income level doesn’t keep up with the pace of inflation, you’re essentially taking a pay cut when inflation occurs.  On a limited basis, it’s not a major concern. However, over a long period of time or in large amounts, inflation can be a real issue.

What’s more, severe inflation can lead to social unrest and other major sociopolitical issues.  Clearly, that’s the kind of stuff no one wants to deal with.

With that in mind, you might be wondering if the recent Fed stimulus is a reason to worry about inflation.  After all, many of those critical of the Fed have been citing inflation concerns.  Their argument is that with the Fed “printing” so much money, it will devalue the dollar to the point of significantly eroding our purchasing power.

Here’s the deal with the recent round of quantitative easing (QE3): yes, it should result in some inflation.  However, it’s actually supposed to create inflation.  You see, a certain amount of inflation is actually good for the economy – especially during a recession.

Let me explain…

There are actually several positive benefits to inflation when it is sits at a reasonable level (from 2% to 4% depending on overall economic conditions).

First off, reasonable inflation levels benefit the labor market.  The thing is, companies don’t like lowering wages because it upsets the workforce.  Instead, they can let inflation do their work for them.

Without getting too technical, companies can leave wages flat in tougher periods and inflation will function as a sort of pay cut.  Eventually, this means companies can hire more workers sooner than if inflation wasn’t occurring.

Second, inflation means money sitting in the bank is losing its purchasing power.  So, it makes sense for companies to go spend that money on capital investments, such as plants and equipment.  This capital spending then leads to economic growth.

Finally, when inflation is occurring, it means deflation is being avoiding. Deflation is very bad, even worse than high levels of inflation.  Just think of the Great Depression versus the high inflation of the 1970’s.  Everyone agrees the Great Depression was far worse than the 70’s.

What’s more, the Fed has a good track record of dealing with high inflation – particularly over the last 25 years.  On the other hand, a deflationary spiral is much harder to recover from.

Here’s why this is important to investors…

The first two reasons I mentioned about how inflation can be good are also good for your portfolio.  If a company is doing well enough to hire more workers or purchase capital goods, it should also be posting higher earnings.  And of course, that should translate to a higher stock price.

Let me break that down a bit further.

Suppose we’re in a recession or slow growth period with inflation running a modest 2%.  A company that makes widgets will raise the price of their widgets in line with inflation.  However, they’re holding labor costs steady due to the recession.  That means higher revenues with roughly stable costs (yes, materials costs will also rise, but in most cases labor is the far greater expense).

So what does higher revenue mean if costs stay the same?  Bigger profits.

Now, let’s say our widget company also has $100 million in the bank just sitting there.  If inflation is at 2% and short-term interest rates are paying 1%, then the company is effectively losing money.

So what will they do?  Well, they could buy another widget factory, buy more advanced equipment, acquire another company, expand into a new product, and more.  The payoff from these types of activities is almost certainly higher than what they’d earn saving the money.

Of course, any sort of expansion or addition to the company should result in higher revenues – and likely higher profits as well.  And, that’s exactly what investors are looking for when they buy stocks – in other words, higher stock prices.

Keep in mind, the benefits of inflation have an overarching effect on a portfolio as a whole.  Over time, it will benefit a cross section of companies.  It’s not necessarily the sort of reasoning investor use when purchasing one specific stock.  However, since most investors’ portfolios contain multiple stocks or mutual funds, healthy inflation is a positive for a vast majority of investors.

Bottom line, inflation isn’t nearly as bad as many investors think, especially during a recession.  Just keep an eye on inflation expectations.  As long as the number doesn’t exceed 3% to 4%, there’s nothing to worry about.  Even better, it should actually benefit your portfolio over time.

source: excessreturn.net

Foreclosure cancellations surge in Golden State


The number of foreclosures canceled by banks surged 62% across California last month, the same month major mortgage servicers were required to comply with new rules outlined by this year’s National Mortgage Settlement.

Banks in the Golden State canceled 15,539 scheduled auctions last month, according to a report by website ForeclosureRadar.com. That was a 36.7% drop from the same month last year.

Sean O'Toole, founder of ForeclosureRadar, wrote in the October report that the increase was most likely due to the effective banning of dual tracking in the state. Dual tracking refers to the practice by banks of pushing a borrower through the foreclosure process while at the same time negotiating a loan modification.

“This is another example of where changes in foreclosure trends are driven by government intervention, and not necessarily economic recovery. While the impacts are still unclear, the elimination of dual tracking may avoid some unnecessary foreclosures, but will lengthen the foreclosure process and delay ultimate recovery. Expect further impacts to foreclosure trends in the months ahead.”

There has not been a comparable spike in California foreclosure cancellations since December 2011, when banks were under heavy scrutiny by state and federal regulators for improperly foreclosing on troubled borrowers. That scrutiny resulted in the big mortgage settlement earlier this year — of which California was the biggest beneficiary.

The settlement, and a series of California laws backed by State Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris, resulted in effectively banning dual tracking. O’Toole said banks are probably canceling foreclosure sales so that they will not be in violation of any laws.

Before the ban on dual tracking, a bank would often give a homeowner a trial loan modification and continue to postpone the foreclosure auction. By keeping the trustee sale in place, but postponing it, the bank could foreclose immediately if a trial modification did not work out.

But consumer activists railed against this practice, saying that it confused homeowners, strung them along and in some instances resulted in unnecessary foreclosures. Consumer activists had tried to pass legislation banning the practice in California, but the measures had failed until Harris put her weight behind them.

source: latimes.com

2 killed, 1 critically injured in Long Beach car crash

Two people died and a third was critically injured in a car crash Saturday night in Long Beach, authorities said.

The single-vehicle accident occurred about 6:20 p.m. on Redondo Avenue beneath the 405 Freeway, said Long Beach Police Department spokesman Aaron Eaton.

Two people were declared dead at the scene. The injured person was hospitalized Saturday night.

The crash was still under investigation, but the wet weather may have been a contributing factor, Eaton said.

Redondo Avenue remained closed Saturday night.

source: latimes.com

5 Smart Ways to Avoid a Cash Crisis


Here’s an interesting puzzler. How is it possible for a profitable business to be growing and failing at the same time? The all important answer to this conundrum lies in the company’s cash flow.

Hot product companies that experience rapid sales growth have to purchase and assemble inventory months in advance of shipment to retailers and distribution partners. This eats up a company’s cash. And, just when customers get around to paying for last month’s product shipments the company has to invest its available cash in the next inventory production run. This is how too much success can quickly lead to an empty bank account.

If a commercial bank doesn’t step in to help a company catch up, the company may have to lay off workers, cut back production or face bankruptcy. This scenario is the living nightmare of American business today.

Here are five easy ways to protect your company’s precious cash life line.

No. 1: Limit exposure to high risk customers.  Are your largest customers also your company’s slowest paying customers?  If so, take immediate steps to diversify the customer mix to favor faster paying customers.  Sales commission payments should be tied to the timing of customer collections too.

No. 2: Bill frequently.  Most service-oriented businesses bill on a monthly basis or at the end of a project.  Why not bill customers every week or every two weeks in the form of progress payments?  The faster companies invoice customers, the faster they get paid.

No. 3: Reduce dependence on a single funding source.  As too many entrepreneurs have learned, it’s relatively easy for banks to pull credit lines when companies can least afford it.  To minimize the risks of sudden cash shortfalls, smart entrepreneurs set aside one or two credit cards for emergencies.

The first time a bank lending officer learns about your company should not be the day you are desperate for cash.  If you don’t know the names of at least four bank credit officers, ask your business colleagues for referrals now!  Smart business owners are always eager to meet credit officers from big and small community lenders.

No. 4: Streamline product lines.  Entrepreneurs who don’t have a lot of loose cash should avoid producing too many products in too many styles to sell to too many different types of customers.  The more complex a company’s product line, the more cash that is required to produce, store, advertise and deliver goods to customers.

No. 5: Set high profitability standards.  The companies that are most vulnerable to financial heartaches during a recession or credit crisis are low profit margin businesses.  Simply stated, low margin businesses have no margin for error.  Don’t be shy about axing products or services that don’t match or exceed your industry’s average gross profit margins.

There is another reward for entrepreneurs who emphasize cautious cash management in their day-to-day business operations.  Lenders and investors compete to fund them.

source: foxbusiness.com


Here’s an interesting puzzler. How is it possible for a profitable business to be growing and failing at the same time? The all important answer to this conundrum lies in the company’s cash flow.
Hot product companies that experience rapid sales growth have to purchase and assemble inventory months in advance of shipment to retailers and distribution partners. This eats up a company’s cash. And, just when customers get around to paying for last month’s product shipments the company has to invest its available cash in the next inventory production run. This is how too much success can quickly lead to an empty bank account.
If a commercial bank doesn’t step in to help a company catch up, the company may have to lay off workers, cut back production or face bankruptcy. This scenario is the living nightmare of American business today.
Here are five easy ways to protect your company’s precious cash life line.
No. 1: Limit exposure to high risk customers.  Are your largest customers also your company’s slowest paying customers?  If so, take immediate steps to diversify the customer mix to favor faster paying customers.  Sales commission payments should be tied to the timing of customer collections too.
No. 2: Bill frequently.  Most service-oriented businesses bill on a monthly basis or at the end of a project.  Why not bill customers every week or every two weeks in the form of progress payments?  The faster companies invoice customers, the faster they get paid.
No. 3: Reduce dependence on a single funding source.  As too many entrepreneurs have learned, it’s relatively easy for banks to pull credit lines when companies can least afford it.  To minimize the risks of sudden cash shortfalls, smart entrepreneurs set aside one or two credit cards for emergencies.
The first time a bank lending officer learns about your company should not be the day you are desperate for cash.  If you don’t know the names of at least four bank credit officers, ask your business colleagues for referrals now!  Smart business owners are always eager to meet credit officers from big and small community lenders.
No. 4: Streamline product lines.  Entrepreneurs who don’t have a lot of loose cash should avoid producing too many products in too many styles to sell to too many different types of customers.  The more complex a company’s product line, the more cash that is required to produce, store, advertise and deliver goods to customers.
No. 5: Set high profitability standards.  The companies that are most vulnerable to financial heartaches during a recession or credit crisis are low profit margin businesses.  Simply stated, low margin businesses have no margin for error.  Don’t be shy about axing products or services that don’t match or exceed your industry’s average gross profit margins.
There is another reward for entrepreneurs who emphasize cautious cash management in their day-to-day business operations.  Lenders and investors compete to fund them.


Read more: http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/finance-accounting/2012/11/15/5-smart-ways-to-avoid-cash-crisis/#ixzz2COXjczLv
Here’s an interesting puzzler. How is it possible for a profitable business to be growing and failing at the same time? The all important answer to this conundrum lies in the company’s cash flow.
Hot product companies that experience rapid sales growth have to purchase and assemble inventory months in advance of shipment to retailers and distribution partners. This eats up a company’s cash. And, just when customers get around to paying for last month’s product shipments the company has to invest its available cash in the next inventory production run. This is how too much success can quickly lead to an empty bank account.
If a commercial bank doesn’t step in to help a company catch up, the company may have to lay off workers, cut back production or face bankruptcy. This scenario is the living nightmare of American business today.
Here are five easy ways to protect your company’s precious cash life line.
No. 1: Limit exposure to high risk customers.  Are your largest customers also your company’s slowest paying customers?  If so, take immediate steps to diversify the customer mix to favor faster paying customers.  Sales commission payments should be tied to the timing of customer collections too.
No. 2: Bill frequently.  Most service-oriented businesses bill on a monthly basis or at the end of a project.  Why not bill customers every week or every two weeks in the form of progress payments?  The faster companies invoice customers, the faster they get paid.
No. 3: Reduce dependence on a single funding source.  As too many entrepreneurs have learned, it’s relatively easy for banks to pull credit lines when companies can least afford it.  To minimize the risks of sudden cash shortfalls, smart entrepreneurs set aside one or two credit cards for emergencies.
The first time a bank lending officer learns about your company should not be the day you are desperate for cash.  If you don’t know the names of at least four bank credit officers, ask your business colleagues for referrals now!  Smart business owners are always eager to meet credit officers from big and small community lenders.
No. 4: Streamline product lines.  Entrepreneurs who don’t have a lot of loose cash should avoid producing too many products in too many styles to sell to too many different types of customers.  The more complex a company’s product line, the more cash that is required to produce, store, advertise and deliver goods to customers.
No. 5: Set high profitability standards.  The companies that are most vulnerable to financial heartaches during a recession or credit crisis are low profit margin businesses.  Simply stated, low margin businesses have no margin for error.  Don’t be shy about axing products or services that don’t match or exceed your industry’s average gross profit margins.
There is another reward for entrepreneurs who emphasize cautious cash management in their day-to-day business operations.  Lenders and investors compete to fund them.


Read more: http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/finance-accounting/2012/11/15/5-smart-ways-to-avoid-cash-crisis/#ixzz2COXjczLv

Miss America Contestant, 24, to Undergo Preventative Double Mastectomy


Allyn Rose is more than just another pretty face.

The Miss America contestant, who will represent Washington, D.C., in the Jan. 12 pageant live on ABC, lost her mom to breast cancer at age 16. Now, at only 24 years old, Rose has decided she will undergo a double mastectomy as a preventative measure after learning she is a carrier of the same rare chromosomal disease that her mother had.

"The idea that I could wake up one day and not have the same body that I did the day before is very scary," Rose, a self-proclaimed former tomboy, tells PEOPLE. "But I also realize my mom was diagnosed at 27. That's three years away from me. I'm not going to let my fear of losing this part of my femininity stop me from living."

Of the disease, Rose explains, "It manifests in male children, but there have been studies that women who are the carriers of it have almost a 75 percent likely chance of contracting breast cancer. It's a very strange change in our genetic code. Almost all of the women in my family have passed away from it."

Thinking back to completing teenage milestones that she couldn't share with her mom, Rose wants to take all the necessary precautions to ensure that these experiences are ones her own children will be able to share with her.

"My mom had her right breast removed at 27, but at 47 or 48, it came back in her left breast," she says. "It was already stage three. She could have had that other breast removed, but I'm sure there was a part of her that thought she didn't want to give up this other part of herself."

She adds, "My dad said he begged her for years and years to get it removed, but she said no. It's ultimately the thing that killed her. I had to become my own mentor. I had to go pick out my prom dress by myself. I had to go to my high school graduation without my mom. She didn't see me go off to college or go on my first date or drive a car for the first time."

But after the "very difficult" experience of losing someone she calls "incredible," Rose will make a huge sacrifice to ensure her own life will last.

"It's a very scary proposition," the model, who also works as a paralegal, says of undergoing the surgery. "But my father and I have met with a surgeon and countless doctors. Some of them are wary because I don't have breast cancer and I am so young, but others have said it's a very smart move, especially for someone who is genetically predisposed."

Choosing Life over Beauty

Rose describes the breast reconstructive plan as "very risky" and "not exactly seamless," but one that is worth it.

"Your skin may be damaged in a way that you will lose your nipple, or sometimes women lose all of their breast tissue," she says, [but], "Breasts don't define your life. I'm choosing life over beauty. I'm choosing to remove something that's so iconic to my womanhood."

Rose – who looks up to Robin Roberts and Giuliana Rancic, who both have battled breast cancer – is using her pageant opportunity as a platform to teach people how to be proactive in their healthcare.

"Title holders across the country get an opportunity to speak to their generation and have something they can advocate," she says. "Being in the industry and competing in the most iconic swimsuit competition in the world, I thought to myself, 'If I were to win and have this surgery a year from now, would I be a different Miss America because I lost my breast?' No."

Should she win the competition, Rose plans to undergo surgery after her duties are complete in January 2014. If she does not win, she will have the procedure done after her local duties are complete next June.

"To win the pageant would truly have my mother's dreams for me come to fruition," says Rose, who will show off her unique roller skating talents during the competition. "Never once in my life did I doubt my mom's love for me or that she wouldn't do anything to have me succeed in life. Some people will never experience that kind of relationship with a parent."

source: people.com

Pacquiao reportedly turning heads in Wild Card training; Arum to check in on progress


While Bob Arum was away, holding court in Houston last week and attending the memorial service for fellow Hall of Famer Emanuel Steward in Detroit, Manny Pacquiao was making heads turn at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California.

“I have been told that Manny’s really looking great in training,” the Top Rank chief told AKTV on Wednesday shortly after heading back to Los Angeles from Motown for the Steward funeral.

Arum is returning to the Wild Card on Thursday to see for himself the progress of the Filipino’s buildup less than a month before the much-awaited fourth duel with Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Actually, Arum was on hand when Pacquiao first sparred two weeks ago and the 80-year-old promoter was a bit disappointed to see somebody like Pacquiao struggle offensively and defensively.

But after two days, Arum returned and was glad to see Pacquiao back in his element.

Still, Arum wants to see for himself if his leg is just being pulled the past several days while he was not around.

“Manny has to win big,” said Arum.

Pacquiao looked superb according to those were allowed to see Pacquiao train and spar on Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles.

Trainer Freddie Roach has advised Pacquiao to be busier in the fourth fight, knowing that an all-action fighter with lightning-quick reflexes would trouble Marquez.

Pacquiao will train at the Wild Card until Dec. 3, the day he heads to Sin City with his massive entourage.

source: interaksyon.com

Getting Old, Huh? This Tech Will Help You Out


By the year 2020, 70% of the population will find themselves on the other side of 50. And despite the fact that many optimists call 70 “the new 40,” researchers agree that once you hit 40 — “new” or “old” — it’s a downhill slope.


Instead of throwing up our flabby arms and surrendering, we’re seeing a generation facing the slow decline of the senses with clever tech ideas to make aging more manageable and less humiliating. Whether it’s vision, hearing, memory or just driving skills that are beginning to dim — and, trust me, they will dim — technology is coming to the rescue.



Can’t See

A personal fave is LED reading glasses. Donning a pair might stop you from ordering a regrettable dish in a darkened restaurant. Or, you can just blast the table with your smartphone light by downloading one of dozens of free flashlight apps. I like the one that turns on my camera flash.



Can’t Hear

What’s that you said? Thirty six million Americans face age-related hearing loss, often as a result of their wayward high-decibel pasts. Companies like SoundFest are banking on the fact that baby boomers are going to be yelling “What’d he say?” in theaters and on cellphones everywhere. The company’s app offers hearing assistance through your cellphone.


Can’t Recall

For graying matter, there’s software like Nintendo’s Brain Age that’s filled with puzzles that keep speed and thinking skills polished. You’ll feel like Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon as you sort shapes and subtract numbers, but brain researchers swear by this. The crème de la crème of aging brains, Dakim’s BrainFitness software, has been clinically tested (although it costs $249).

Can’t Drive

Perhaps the scariest aging person of all is the one behind the wheel. Again, technology is stepping up to keep us driving better, longer. Ford kicked off the assistive race with its self-parking car. GM’s new Cadillac seems like it has more sensors and GPS systems on it than NASA –- giving it nearly 360 degree camera systems. Volvo and Mercedes drivers can order driver alert and detection systems to warn them when a pedestrian makes a “b line” off the sidewalk or when you’re low on caffeine. Your car can actually help you keep your blood glucose levels up through unusual alliances like this one by Ford, Microsoft, Healthrageous and BlueMetal Architects.

Ultimately we’re looking at a future where cars drive themselves. LIDAR, Google’s self-driving vehicle project, uses a spinning array of laser receivers and emitters to create a 360 degree map of the road. Most components of driver-less cars: cameras, GPS, accelerometers, radar and ultrasound already exist. Car manufacturers are experimenting on how to package them together.

Of course, there’s a flip side to all of this. Maybe getting older — not seeing or hearing so well — is a gift. What if aging is just nature’s way of telling you to slow down and stop fretting over the little things –- like the newly sprouted chin hair you can’t see in the mirror. Diminishing senses may be our evolutionary protection, a protection that, thanks to technology, we might never get the chance to appreciate.

source: mashable.com

How to Make Money with Online Teaching

As technology improves, we have a number of new opportunities to learn and make money online. There has been a dramatic increase in online learning as students complete college courses online, and look for tutors online. This increase in online learning has led to an increased demand for online teachers.

If you have a level of tech savvy, it is possible to make money with online teaching, whether you do so through more “official” channels, or whether you teach in another way.

Online Teaching through a University

If you have the proper credentials, you can teach online classes for a university. Some for-profit universities with an emphasis in online learning, such as University of Phoenix and Kaplan, only require a Master’s degree (and, to teach some courses, you might only need a Bachelor’s degree). If you can show that you have reasonable qualifications to teach, you can manage online courses.

It’s also possible to teach online courses for more traditional universities. Even the most prestigious universities, like Harvard, are adding online courses that count toward a degree. My husband teaches two online courses for Utah State University. However, to teach online for a more traditional education institution, you definitely need a Master’s degree, and you probably need a Ph.D. to teach many of the courses.


Check with the university to find out if there are openings for instructors who can teach online. You will probably need to know how to use an educational content platform, like Canvas or Blackboard, or some other platform used by the university. In some cases, you might be required to hold Skype chats or teach webinars.

Many universities advertise job openings for online instructors. Check with web sites like HigherEdJobs and The Chronicle of Higher Education for listings.

Online Tutoring

There are a number of web sites that offer online tutoring services. If you are proficient in a particular subject area, you can sign up to be a tutor. You will probably need to demonstrate your command of the subject in question before you could help others with it. In some cases, you need to have a degree to tutor. There are also opportunities to tutor for standardized tests, like the SAT and GRE.

You can apply to be an online tutor at sites like Tutor.com and TutorVista. Most likely, you will need to commit to specific hours of the day, or be on call to help in “emergency” situations. Before you apply, make sure you understand the requirements of the job, and what you will be required to do as a tutor, and whether there are specific hours to work, or software purchases you need to make.

Teach Webinars, or Offer Your Own Online Classes

In addition to working for others as a teacher or a tutor, it is also possible to teach webinars or offer your online classes and workshops. Web sites like Big Marker can help you set up a community, and offer classes. You can even set up to charge for webinards and online classes. If you have something valuable to share, and you think others would pay to learn it, you can turn online teaching into a home business idea.




If you go this route, you have a number of options. You can develop a course on a specific subject, and then sell it. You can also decide to hold regular webinars and online workshops, providing interaction with others, and helping them in a more in-depth way. It’s also possible to set up one-on-one teaching time with those you are helping. There are a number of web sites that can help you manage these online teaching opportunities, and even help you charge (and collect) a fee. Just make sure you understand the terms of the arrangement, since you will probably have to share some of your earnings with whatever platform you use.

Online teaching can be a good way to make money on the side, or even as your career. Think about what you know, and consider whether you are considered expert. If you really know your stuff, you could be paid to teach it online.

source: financialhighway.com

For dentist with student debt, repaying is like pulling teeth


VACAVILLE, Calif. — His jaw clenched beneath a blue surgeon's mask, Opanin Gyaami jerks his right arm and pulls out a prize: the decayed tooth of patient Larry Butler, also known as state prison inmate J22312.

By the time he is done, Gyaami's smock and mask are spotted with the inmate's blood. He gently pats Butler on the shoulder and wishes him well.

The 71-year-old dentist reports to the state prison in Vacaville day after day, long past retirement age. He wishes he could have hung up his drill and forceps years ago, but he's still paying off a student loan.

After borrowing $50,000 in the 1980s and ignoring payment notices, Gyaami owes more than $500,000 with penalties and interest. The Justice Department took him to court and is seizing $3,000 from his paycheck each month.

Gyaami doesn't expect any sympathy; he knows he's at fault and has added to his problems by falling behind on his income tax. He acknowledges he made some bad decisions along the way.

"I don't want to sound like I'm blaming someone else for my woes," he said. "If you take a loan and don't pay it, you're responsible. It became so overwhelming. I got scared, and it didn't go away."

Student-loan debt in the United States has surpassed $1 trillion. A record number of loans are in default, according to several recent reports, and lawmakers in Washington are pushing for reform to make it easier to discharge some of the debt in bankruptcy.

Although economists' concerns about this debt are typically focused on the young and newly employed, about 2.2 million Americans over age 60 collectively owe more than $43 billion in student loans, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Many of those loans are in default.

"People think they're kids, but I'd say half the people who come here are over 40, and we have a lot over 60 and some over 70," said Elena Ackel, a senior attorney with Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, which often advises people with student loan debt. "It just doesn't end because of all the fees and everything."


By the time Gyaami graduated from Loma Linda University in 1983 with a degree in dentistry, he had taken out five loans to pay for his education, including $50,000 from the federally guaranteed Health Education Assistance Loan program.

The special loan program, offered from 1978 to 1998, lent $4 billion to 157,000 aspiring doctors, dentists, podiatrists, chiropractors and other health professionals. The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversaw the loan program, reports that 935 of the borrowers are in default, owing $115 million collectively.

After graduation, Gyaami owed about $100,000 and made monthly payments to Loma Linda, none of which was applied to the $50,000 loan. Those payments, he later discovered, should have gone directly to the bank that issued the loan.

When late notices started to arrive, Gyaami ignored them. "There was nothing I could do about it," he said. "I was behind with my business."

Gyaami admits he's better at dentistry than business. He didn't realize how dire the situation had become even after hearing from the Justice Department, which sues borrowers who default on federally insured student loans. Gyaami's $50,000 loan had grown to $195,000 with penalties, interest and fees.

He continued to discard the collection notices. He said he couldn't afford to pay. By June 2010, the $195,000 debt had jumped to $522,214.

The dentist offered to pay $150,000 to settle the suit and close the loan — the money would come from taking a second mortgage against the family's house — but the Justice Department rejected it. A department representative declined to comment on Gyaami's case.

In December 2010, the government reduced the debt to $400,000 and agreed to collect $3,000 a month from his monthly checks, Gyaami said. He thinks it will take more than 10 years to pay it off.

"It's not easy to deal with," Gyaami said. "It looks like I'll have to work until the day I drop off and die."




Born and raised in Ghana, Gyaami was one of 12 children. He studied theology in Nigeria before moving to the United States in 1970. At Andrews University in Michigan, he met his wife, Elizabeth, and they moved to California. He earned a master's degree in public health at Loma Linda University and entered dental school.

Gyaami thought that his dental career would be lucrative and that he wouldn't have trouble paying off his student loans. He opened his practice in Grand Terrace, near San Bernardino.

But he struggled to turn a profit, netting an average $15,000 a year after payroll, rent, supplies and a loan for dental equipment, which was eventually repossessed. Then an employee embezzled about $15,000, which he didn't report to the police.


"She had two children. I couldn't bring myself to prosecute her and let her go to jail," he said.

In 1994, he closed the practice and took a job in the state prison system, first in Blythe and then in Vacaville at the California Medical Facility, where he's worked more than 15 years.

Even though his income increased at the prisons, he still struggled. He and his wife, who worked at the Vacaville prison as a dietitian, put their five children through private schools. Each month they tithed 10% of their income to their church.

He and Elizabeth are devoted members of a Seventh-day Adventist church, where he serves as an elder. "I've been able to get through all of this because of God," he said.

Gyaami treats 30 to 40 prisoners a week, under the watchful eye of uniformed guards. Many of his patients are violent felons serving time for rape, robbery or murder.

As an experienced dentist, Gyaami is among the highest-paid state employees in California, making about $275,000 per year.

"I'm completely broke, even though I make all that money," he said. "The good news is I'm strong enough to practice. And I love doing dentistry, even in the prison."

Since 2008, Gyaami has fallen behind about $120,000 in federal taxes and pays $6,000 a month to the Internal Revenue Service on top of the $3,000 to the Justice Department. His monthly paycheck, after deductions, is barely enough to live on, he said.

Other medical professions have tried to address this problem among its members. The Osteopathic Medical Board of California, for instance, has suspended the licenses of osteopaths who fail to repay their student loans. Donald Krpan, executive director of the board, defends the policy.

"When they don't pay the loan, the federal government comes in and pays the loan. At that point, you and I as taxpayers pay the loan," Krpan said. "It's an aggravation to those of us who borrowed money and paid our loans."

Despite the lingering debt, Gyaami and his wife live a comfortable lifestyle. One year ago they took a two-week cruise in the Caribbean that cost about $4,000, said Gyaami, who called it the most luxurious vacation they had ever taken.

"We forgot about everything and relaxed," Gyaami said, "even though in the back of our heads we knew we were coming back to pay for it."

They live in a 4,000-square-foot home in Vacaville, which Elizabeth purchased new in 2001 for $429,500, according to property records. In 2010, she took efforts to make the home more difficult for creditors to seize by transferring its deed to a corporation she started, Eternal Enterprise Corp.

Gyaami and Elizabeth have been married 41 years. Four of their children are doctors, and each graduated with college debt. He said he hopes they learned from his mistakes.

One of his sons recently negotiated a good deal before he took a new job. His employer paid off his student loans.

source: latimes.com

How Your Course Load Affects College Financial Aid and Student Loan Help

If you are using college financial aid to pay for your education, you need to understand how your course load affects financing. Being approved for loans depends on several factors, including financial need, your performance/progress as a student, your expected family contribution, and the number of credit hours for which you are enrolled. See how your course load will impact your borrowing, whether it’s federal or private.




Course load and federal college financial aid

Your federal college financial aid assumes you will be attending school at least part-time. In fact, some college financial aid is given in direct proportion to the number of credit hours you are taking. The amount of a Federal Pell grant award, for example, is awarded after taking into account your expected family contribution and whether you are enrolled in school full-time, part-time or even less than that. To understand how your specific financial aid package will be affected by altering your enrollment hours, it is best to sit down with your college loan advisor.

Course load and private college loans

Many private lenders will also require you to be enrolled in school at least part-time to be eligible for student loan help. If you are borrowing private student loans, be sure to work with your lender to fully understand the borrowing terms. Carrying too few credits can cause you to become ineligible for private college loans. Additionally, dropping below the part-time status requirement means you’ll have to start repaying your loans sooner than you expected.

Leaving school and college financial aid

If you decide part way through your education to withdraw from classes, you immediately enter the six-month grace period that precedes required payments on your college loans. This is also true if you drop below part-time status. Talk with you financial aid advisor before withdrawing from classes to see how it will impact the student aid package you received. In some cases, you may even have to repay federal grants if you do not complete a required number of credit hours, and scheduled future loan distribution may be impacted.

Be an informed borrower

Even if you have no intention of dropping below full-time status as a student, it’s important to understand the terms of your federal and private college loans in the event that your plans change. Understanding the full obligation of your loans can help you make smarter decisions about your future and maintain a positive credit score.

source: 20smoney.com

Getting a Loan With Bad Credit

In today’s struggling economy, a lot of people have low credit scores and loans are more difficult to get. Your credit score is based on payment history, outstanding debt, credit age, and new credit. To keep your credit score up it is important to pay bills on time and keep your credit card balances low. Your credit score determines how much your can borrow for a loan. If you have bad credit, you can still get a loan, it is just tougher with limited options. Websites like www.badcreditloans.com make it easy for people to get loans regardless of their credit history.




Personal loans are usually considered to be a bad way to borrow money, primarily because of the very high interest rate that comes with them. However, personal loans are a reliable and affordable option for many people, particularly those with limited savings and credit options.

Before taking out a loan it is important to be educated on the loan process. The Bad Credit Loans website has a large selection of resources to help borrowers make the best loan decisions. There are informational articles including tips on when to take out a loan, spending a loan responsible, repaying a loan, budgeting, and more.

In order to be eligible to apply for a personal loan, you must be at least 18 years old, a United States citizen or legal resident, have a steady income of at least $1,000/month after taxes, and have a checking account in your name.

To apply for a loan, you just need to fill out a short application online. Once approved, you will be presented with a number of competitive loan offers from local vendors. Bad Credit Loans has a network of trusted lenders for a variety of loan types including personal, business, mortgage, home, student, and auto loans.

Comparing loans can be quite time consuming, but by using an online service like Bad Credit Loans you will save hours of valuable time by being able to review multiple offers within minutes.

If you decide to take out a loan only borrow what you can afford to pay back, avoid borrowing from more than one lender, repay the loan on time, and set up a realistic budget to help avoid the need to borrow in the future.

Once you decide on a particular loan offer, you are guaranteed to get the money directly deposited into your bank account within no more than one business day. To repay the loan, your lender will withdraw the loan amount, plus any fees and interest charges, directly from the bank account in which the money was deposited on the set repayment date, which is usually your next payday.

There is no fee to apply for a loan on the Bad Credit Loans site and there is no obligation to actually take out a loan. To learn more, go to www.badcreditloans.com.

source: 20smoney.com

Prince William Pays Tribute on Remembrance Sunday


A solemn Duchess of Cambridge watched Sunday as husband William paid his personal tribute to Britain's war dead.

William, in RAF uniform, was one of the senior royals making a somber commemoration of those who have died in the World Wars and other conflicts on Remembrance Sunday.

He followed his grandmother Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip in laying a wreath of bright red poppies at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London.

Kate, whose coat was decorated with poppy-style jewelry, watched from a balcony along with William's Aunt Sophie, Countess of Wessex.

The royals traditionally lead the commemorations in London, where hundreds of veterans then paraded. At 11 a.m. around the U.K., the country fell silent for two minutes of reflection.

Missing this year was Prince Harry, who is currently on a military tour in Afghanistan.

source: people.com

Monique Lhuillier opens store in New York


Monique Lhuillier opened her first New York store on Oct. 5, and within five minutes made a sale—a fur-and-lace jacket from her Fall ready-to-wear collection.

The store is in a two-story brownstone on East 71st Street. Next day, 43 brides had appointments on the second floor, which is the bridal section.

Monique’s New York flagship store comes 12 years after she opened her first store in Los Angeles, and four years after that in Edina, Minnesotta.

“We are very strategic in how we grow, and we grow within our means,” Monique told writer Jessica Iredale. She added that “there was never really a rush to open in New York … just when it felt right.”

The business is owned by Monique and her husband Tom Bugbee, the company’s chief executive officer. They always wanted a space in New York City’s upper East side, since that’s “where our customer base is.”

They found this location in 2010, at first limited to the ground floor. But soon the second floor gallery became available, as well as a one-bedroom apartment on the same floor.

Monique’s New York flagship store has 3,000 sq ft, with enough space to house all the label’s collections—RTW, bridal, table top, shoes and chandeliers done for Waterford.

The chandeliers hang from the high ceilings, designed by Monique with tiers of multifaceted crystal baguettes. They imitate the layers of fabric and beadwork of her gowns.

Flagship

Monique’s signature gray color scheme is evident in her New York flagship. The walls are in gray suede. Chairs from the ’60s and ’70s are covered in gray velvet.

Monique worked with designed Jennie Abbott, who designed her Los Angeles home and store. There are two commissioned works by New York sculptor Silas Seandel. More artworks are by Herve van der Straeten, Daniel Gluck, Neal Small and Nany Lorenz.

An open staircase framed by 22-foot glass walls leads to the bridal section on the second level. The RTW collection is on the ground floor because Monique and Tom want it more accessible to the customer. It is also the category they consider essential for more growth.

In 1986, Monique launched her business as strictly bridal. She soon became one of the top designers in the US, thanks to her celebrity clientele. Britney Spears wore Monique Lhuillier in her wedding to Kevin Federline in 2004.

Bridal is the foundation of Monique’s meteoric success. As she says, “I feel like in bridal we’re at the top of our game right now.” However, at the moment, her primary focus in on RTW.

Now that they have opened their New York flagship store, Monique and Tom are looking forward to possibly opening in the Philippines and Hong Kong.

Establishing her own network of stores will result in the company’s expansion.

As she told Iredale,  “A lot of department stores or specialty boutiques that carry me buy me for wedding gowns or solely evening gowns.

We really feel like the future for us is in the ready-to-wear collection, and housing the entire thing in our stores. Now the customer has access to it all.”

Monique was born in Cebu, the youngest of four children of Michel Lhuillier, Honorary Consul of France in the Visayas, and Amparito Llamas Lhuillier, who Monique always says has been her inspiration.

source: lifestyle.inquirer.net

UK ‘excited’ over trade with Philippines


LONDON—The Philippines is a “hugely exciting” market where the United Kingdom is keen on boosting reciprocal investment.

Key trade officials here bared this bright outlook, noting that the UK was setting its sights on Southeast Asia as a priority growth area amid the continuing dim prospects in Western economies.

They said the UK hoped to step up trade with growing markets to combat a general sense of pessimism over economic numbers here and in the euro zone.

Nick Baird, chief executive of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the state body that links UK firms to the global market, said that British firms were looking at ways to tap the Philippines’ robust economy and invest in major infrastructure, health care and retail-related projects.

“I think that for us, the huge opportunities there are certainly around big infrastructure projects, health… We’re also very interested in areas I would describe as building on and working with countries’ growing middle classes, so [it’s about] providing better education, health services, accessing the consumption of these middle classes through the retail sector,” Baird told Asean reporters on a visit here.



Enjoys Brits’ confidence

Baird said the Philippines enjoyed the confidence of the UK business community, particularly of Richard Lambert, former head of the UK employers group, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and now chancellor of the University of Warwick, a top British university.

“We have a lot of very strong champions for the Philippine market. I was talking recently to Mr. Lambert, former head of CBI, which is our biggest business organization and he’s saying the Philippines is a hugely exciting market,” said Baird.

The Philippines is currently regarded among the world’s booming markets and is expected to retain in the second semester the 6.1-percent growth rate it posted in the first half of the year.

International credit ratings agencies Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings, and Standard and Poor’s upgraded the country’s rating to a notch just below investment grade, citing the Philippines’ steady growth pace.

The UK is sending a trade mission to the Philippines this week to touch base with the government and business sector and discuss possible partnerships in social infrastructure and transport.

Participating UK companies include Arup, Tata Steel International, Kier Construction, Tony Gee & Partners, GE Healthcare, Ryder Architecture, IMC Worldwide, SKM Colin Buchanan and KM&T, top firms in construction, design and architecture, project management and consultancy, services and supply chain management, according to the UK Embassy in Manila.

Total bilateral trade between the Philippines from January to August of this year was placed at 512.9 million British pounds (P33.8 billion), a five-percent growth over the same period last year.

‘Asean is very important’

Such an economic glow in the Philippines, also mirrored across the region, is a bright spot amid continuing economic troubles in the euro zone and the slow recovery in the United States. The latest UK growth rate was placed at one percent and the struggle to raise this is expected in the next few years.

“The Asean is really very important to us not just because this is such, collectively, a huge economy, comparable in size to China and Japan, bigger than India, but also because in many of the countries, we have good strong positive relationships,” Baird said.

Expand export capacity

He said the UK hoped to establish greater two-way trade with Asean firms, stepping up both export and inward investments. Currently, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are among the UK’s major trade and investment partners.

More than half of UK exports go to the developed but currently struggling markets and it has only a 1.2-percent share of imports in major growth markets, including the whole of Asean.

“Britain wants to hugely expand its export capacity, with particular focus on the growth markets and, in that, the Asean markets have a special place for us. And second, this is a country that is massively open to foreign investors and companies of all kinds. It’s very easy to set up business here,” he said.

He said the UK aimed to double its trade with each of the Asean countries by 2015. And while concerns about political stability, corruption and business ease may remain, the UK holds the view that there is “far less risk to trade with Asean than there is to trade with China, Africa or India,” he said.

Giving Asia attention

“We have been trading successfully in the last few years in our European backyard and with the United States, but of course those markets are still weak and we need to get much better trading into the big growth markets of Asia, Latin America and Africa,” Baird said.

The UKTI, through the year-old UK Asean Business Council, is hoping to facilitate this exchange through spreading greater Asean market awareness to UK firms, said the council’s executive director, Tom Burden.

“We are working on raising awareness of Asean markets in the UK. It’s really about giving Asia the attention it deserves,” Burden told reporters in a separate briefing.

source: business.inquirer.net

Strong quake strikes off Guatemala – USGS


GUATEMALA CITY – A strong 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of Guatemala on Sunday, just days after a tremor in the same area left 42 people dead, Guatemalan President Otto Perez said.

The aftershock, which struck at 2215 GMT, triggered some landslides but “fortunately we have no human losses to lament,” Perez told reporters.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was “no destructive widespread tsunami threat” based on the data.

The epicenter of the quake was located 24 kilometers (15 miles) west-southwest of the town of Champerico, and 180 kilometers west-southwest of Guatemala City, said the US Geological Survey, which monitors quakes worldwide.

Perez said that the quake triggered some landslides, especially in an area known as Barranca Grande (Big Ravine) in the department of San Marcos, some 250 kilometers west of the Guatemalan capital on the border with Mexico.

Scores of rescuers were already on the site searching for a person who was buried in Wednesday’s quake, Perez said.

“Thank God nothing regrettable happened, only that the landslide again covered what we had already cleared out,” Perez said.

The 7.4-magnitude quake on Wednesday killed 42 people, according to an updated death toll given earlier by Perez. Initially, 52 people had been reported dead.

Last week’s quake was the most violent to strike the central American country since 1976, when almost 23,000 people perished.

source: newsinfo.inquirer.net

Courts appointments provide Obama a chance to leave his mark

WASHINGTON DC - As US President Barack Obama dives into his second term and looks to build his legacy, his appointments of federal judges, especially to the Supreme Court, appear certain to make a lasting impact.

Over the next four years, the Democratic president will have the opportunity to pull a largely conservative federal bench toward the left, with about 100 vacancies to fill and a Supreme Court that could have up to three openings.

"It is typically in the second term that presidents tend to handle the legacy issues," said Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, a Washington-based think tank.

"He has to exercise his constitutional right and authority," Kendall told a recent conference, urging Obama to appoint "moderates" to respond to the "very radical vision of the Constitution" espoused by some ultra-conservative judges.

Unlike in individual states where judges are elected by popular vote, the president names judges to the bench in the US federal court system -- comprised of 89 trial courts, 13 appellate courts, and the Supreme Court.

The US Senate must confirm all judicial nominees.

Currently, most of the 179 appeals judges and 678 trial judges were named by Republican presidents over the last three decades, and the highest courts lean towards the right.

"President Obama really has to be the commander-in-chief in terms of diversifying" the courts, said Caroline Fredrickson, president of the progressive American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.

The US needs "to have a court system that is actually fair and balanced" both politically and socially, she said.

Frederickson hailed Obama for increasing the number of women, homosexuals, and minorities on the federal bench -- including the two women he put on the Supreme Court.

But she said the November 6 election, in which Obama handily defeated Republican rival Mitt Romney, served as a "wake-up call" on women's and family issues, and a win over "shocking words on rape and abortion" from the right.

During the campaign, Republican Senate candidates Todd Akin from Missouri and Richard Mourdock from Indiana sparked national outrage with their comments about rape and abortion. Both candidates lost their respective races.

'Flood the zone'

The judiciary is meant to be non-partisan, noted Andrew Blotky, director of legal policy issues at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, saying "judges shouldn't be policymakers."

But whether it's health care reform, voting rights or affirmative action, just a few of the issues taken up by the Supreme Court in recent months, Blotky said "courts play a significant and long-term role on American life."

Obama's Republican predecessor George W. Bush "flooded the zone" with like-minded judges, said Ian Millhiser, a constitutional policy analyst also with the Center for American Progress.

Bush named 12 appeals court judges and two Supreme Court judges, including the current chief justice John Roberts.

Now that he has the chance, "Obama has to flood the zone" to restore judicial equilibrium, Millhiser said.

After naming Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the nine-justice Supreme Court, Obama may have the opportunity to replace as many as three more who will be over the age of 80 by 2015.

Speculation has focused on Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 79, who suffers from cancer.

But his impact could be felt across the system, as the vacancies on lower courts have mounted over the past four years, in part because Obama struggled to get his appointees confirmed by the Senate.

Although the Democratic Party holds a majority in the chamber, Republicans can use legislative maneuvers to block nominations or at least make the process more cumbersome.

John Podesta, the chair of the Center for American Progress and a former White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton, said reforms to the process of confirming judges in the Senate are necessary.

Millhiser noted that if Obama does not respond to the challenge at hand, "we will have a future president in 2016 who will."

source: interaksyon.com

China slams ‘distorted’ view of copyright piracy problem


BEIJING — China’s top official in charge of fighting copyright piracy on Sunday slammed what he said was deliberate distortion of the problem by the Western media caused by the country’s poor global image, saying important facts had been ignored.

Foreign governments, including the United States, have for years urged China to take a stronger stand against pervasive violations of intellectual property rights on products ranging from medicines to software to DVD movies sold on the street.

The United States in April again put China, along with Russia, on its annual list of countries with the worst records of preventing the theft of copyrighted material and other intellectual property.

But Tian Lipu, head of China’s State Intellectual Property Office, said the government’s efforts were being ignored.

“Speaking honestly, there is a market. People use and buy pirated goods,” Tian told reporters on the sidelines of a landmark Communist Party congress.

“To a large extent, China’s intellectual property rights protection image has been distorted by Western media.

“China’s image overseas is very poor. As soon as people hear China they think of piracy and counterfeiting — (Beijing’s) Sanlitun, that place in Shanghai, Luohu in Shenzhen,” he said, referring to places notorious for selling fake goods.

“We don’t deny (this problem), and we are continuing to battle against it,” Tian added.

But other facts were overlooked, he said.

“For example, China is the world’s largest payer for patent rights, for trademark rights, for royalties, and one of the largest for buying real software,” he said. “We pay the most. People rarely talk about this, but it really is a fact. Our government offices, our banks, our insurance companies, our firms … the software is all real.”

Microsoft Corp and other members of the Business Software Alliance in the United States complain that nearly 80 percent of the software installed on personal computers in China is pirated.

Tian said that if companies like Apple Inc were so worried by piracy they would never choose China for their production bases.

“Of the goods made for Apple, most are made in China. Once Apple’s brand is added to it and it is exported to the United States its value doubles,” he said.

“This could only happen because China’s intellectual property rights environment sets foreign investors at ease allowing them to come to China to manufacture.”

The International Intellectual Property Alliance, a U.S. coalition of film, software, music and publishing groups, estimates that U.S. companies lost more than $15 billion in 2009 due to international copyright theft.

About $14 billion of the total was due to software piracy, with an estimated $3.5 billion in losses in China and $1.4 billion in Russia.

source: interaksyon.com