U.S. elderly hounded by debt collectors

debt collection

Like the U.S. government that has a bad habit of spending way more than it makes, resulting in a national debt that is now a mind-boggling $18+ trillion, too many Americans are also mired in debt.

Note: Some say it is now mathematically impossible for the U.S. government to pay off the national debt because the government now owes more dollars than actually exist. (Source)

Herb Weisbaum reports for NBC News that 35% of Americans have debt in collections. For 18% of Americans, not only do they have debt in collections, repayment of their debt is so unlikely, they expect to die owing money.

Among the Americans whose debt is in collections are millions of senior citizens — retirees in their “golden years” who, faced with a fixed income and constantly rising cost of living, are being hounded by increasingly aggressive debt collection agencies.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently reported that for older Americans, debt collection is the top complaint. About one out of three complaints submitted to the agency by seniors is about debt collection. The major complaints include:

  • Being hounded for medical debts (42 million Americans have medical debt)
  • Attempts to collect the debts of deceased family members from their relatives
  • Callers using foul language, and
  • Illegal threats to garnish Social Security and other federal benefits.

Some of the seniors who complained about debt collectors expressed concern that “the distress of being harassed by a debt collector aggravates existing medical conditions and thereby endangers their health.” Some seniors pay off debts just to stop the calls, even though they don’t believe they truly owe the money.

Michael, a 77 year-old retiree who lives in the Seattle area realized he could not pay his credit card bills after he stopped working. So he contacted the two card companies and made payment arrangements that he could handle. That worked for a while, but eventually, they turned it over to collection. The calls started immediately. Michael said, “Initially, they were not that aggressive, but over time when I made it clear that I had to abide by the initial payment arrangements that I had made, they would not accept that. And then they started to threaten garnishment of my fixed income. I knew that if that happened that I was going to be in a place of real jeopardy.”

Michael was getting as many as four calls a day. He says the collectors told him they were prepared to garnish his Social Security payments. A few threatened him with arrest. He was afraid to answer his phone. “And these calls would come early in the morning and late at night, and it was always from the point of view of we’re going to get you, no matter what you do. When you hear that again and again, it becomes a pretty unsettling experience to say the least. The sense of belligerence which they exercise pretty effectively can be very, very scary.”

Eventually, the pressure, stress and anxiety began to impact his day-to-day-life, so Michael contacted a lawyer and decided his only option was to file for bankruptcy protection.

Lisa Stifler of the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), a non-profit advocacy group, says “American consumers are profoundly and negatively affected by wrongful debt collection tactics on a daily basis. No one should be forced to deal with illegal collection activity, and debt collectors should not be allowed to exploit vulnerable seniors in order to make a profit.”

If you are a senior citizen being harassed by debt collectors, here’s what you need to know:

1. If you don’t own a home, you are “judgment proof.”

2. Your income from Social Security or government pension is exempt from collection because most federal benefits are protected in debt collection. Contrary to some debt collectors’ threat, they can’t garnish your Social Security benefits. If you receive federal benefits by direct deposit to a checking account, the bank or credit union is required automatically to protect up to two months’ worth of these benefits. Benefits received on a government-issued prepaid card are usually protected, too.

3. Dispute inaccurate debts.

4. The CFPB advisory has sample letters that can be used to find out information about the claims being made, dispute the debt, and request that a debt collector stops collection communications like harassing phone calls.

5. If you are having a problem with a debt collector, you can file a complaint with the CFPB.


Concerning Hobbits, Authors, Critics and Fans…

Here is an interesting article for all of us who love the works of JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Peter Jackson. This is just an excerpt. There is a link at the end to the whole article. ~TD 

A Pilgrim in Narnia

The Hobbit as a Living Text: The Battle of 5 Blogs

hobbit battle of 5 armies posters jacksonThis post is part of the Battle of the Five Blogs, or six blogs to be precise. It is a throw-down of various Tolkien bloggers who are thinking about the release of the final installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy,  The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Other bloggers in this series are Kat SasJames MoffettSørina HigginsCrystal Hurd, and Matthew Rettino. Follow the links to check out their reviews, recaps, and rants. We encourage comments and links to your own reviews, recaps, and rants.

The Hobbit as Living Text

There is a curious thing that happens to C.S. Lewis’ writing: He made friends.

I think that most true J.R.R. Tolkien fans are going to hate The Hobbit: The Battle of 5 Armies, the newest and last installment of Peter Jackson’s series. Some of those fans detested the Lord of the Rings trilogy on film, while I loved them. I lack the technical, absolutely precise knowledge of the massive myth project that are the books that make up The Lord of the Rings, The HobbitThe Silmarillion, and the dozen or so other books that tell us about the History of Middle Earth. The second language in my home is not Quenya or Entish, and I haven’t tracked the number of new moons that pass in Frodo’s long journey to Mordor.

The Hobbit Dwarfs FilmI loved the LOTR films. And though there are moments that make you wince in The Hobbit trilogy—poor computer imaging, characters bent out of narrative shape, unclear lusts and motivations, uneven storytelling, genre confusion, and a general lack of Hobbitishness—I have quite enjoyed the films, as films. I went last night to The Battle of 5 Armies and had a great night out with friends.

But even I, who am willing to throw myself into the adaptation projected on screen, felt uncomfortable at times with how Jackson seems to bend what is to me a pretty straight story.

And yet…. And yet… I want to suggest that Jackson’s bending of Tolkien, and my discomfort with it, and the 100s of angry reviews online are all part of the tale.

Let me explain why…

The Hobbit as a Living Text: The Battle of 5 Blogs.

Creation: Birds know a storm is coming

Every morning, I put a cup of wild bird seed and peanuts-in-shells (for the blue jays) in my garden, right outside my bedroom window.

The birds come immediately. On most days, they already have been patiently waiting for me, perched in the surrounding bushes and on the gnarled branches of the crab-apple tree — robins, finches, sparrows, passing migratory birds, and of course the blue jays.

Later in the day, the rain doves come to peck the leftovers. By late afternoon, all the seed would be gone.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed something odd.

The weather forecasters said a huge storm was coming. The day before the storm’s arrival, at the end of the day, I looked out my bedroom window and saw that most, if not all, of the seed I had put out that morning was still there. It was as if the birds knew a major storm was coming, and took precautionary shelter or flew far far away.

And as serendipity would have it, biologists recently discovered that birds indeed have the ability to predict storms in advance!

Below is a press release from Eurekalert, the global news service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, about Golden-winged Warblers in Tennessee knowing in advance the coming of an epic storm that spawned 84 tornadoes and killed 35 people last spring.


Golden-winged warblerGolden-winged warblerGolden-winged Warbler

Birds sensed severe storms and fled before tornado outbreak

Dec. 18, 2014

Golden-winged warblers apparently knew in advance that a storm that would spawn 84 confirmed tornadoes and kill at least 35 people last spring was coming, according to a report in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on December 18. The birds left the scene well before devastating supercell storms blew in.

The discovery was made quite by accident while researchers were testing whether the warblers, which weigh “less than two nickels,” could carry geolocators on their backs. It turns out they can, and much more. With a big storm brewing, the birds took off from their breeding ground in the Cumberland Mountains of eastern Tennessee, where they had only just arrived, for an unplanned migratory event. All told, the warblers travelled 1,500 kilometers in 5 days to avoid the historic tornado-producing storms.

“The most curious finding is that the birds left long before the storm arrived,” says Henry Streby of the University of California, Berkeley. “At the same time that meteorologists on The Weather Channel were telling us this storm was headed in our direction, the birds were apparently already packing their bags and evacuating the area.

The birds fled from their breeding territories more than 24 hours before the arrival of the storm, Streby and his colleagues report. The researchers suspect that the birds did it by listening to infrasound associated with the severe weather, at a level well below the range of human hearing.

“Meteorologists and physicists have known for decades that tornadic storms make very strong infrasound that can travel thousands of kilometers from the storm,” Streby explains. While the birds might pick up on some other cue, he adds, the infrasound from severe storms travels at exactly the same frequency the birds are most sensitive to hearing.

The findings show that birds that follow annual migratory routes can also take off on unplanned trips at other times of the year when conditions require it. That’s probably good news for birds, as climate change is expected to produce storms that are both stronger and more frequent. But there surely must be a downside as well, the researchers say.

“Our observation suggests [that] birds aren’t just going to sit there and take it with regards to climate change, and maybe they will fare better than some have predicted,” Streby says. “On the other hand, this behavior presumably costs the birds some serious energy and time they should be spending on reproducing.” The birds’ energy-draining journey is just one more pressure human activities are putting on migratory songbirds.

In the coming year, Streby’s team will deploy hundreds of geolocators on the golden-winged warblers and related species across their entire breeding range to find out where they spend the winter and how they get there and back.

Sunday Devotional: The Old Testament foretold the Coming of Christ

Today is the fourth (and last) Sunday of Advent.

The term advent is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”.

Luke 1:26-33

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

St. Gabriel appears to Mary. The Annunciation, by Botticelli

St. Gabriel appears to Mary. The Annunciation, by Botticelli

Did you know that the coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord, had been foretold in the Old Testament? How cool is that! Below are some examples.

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Numbers 24:17

there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

Micah 5:2

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Jeremiah 23:5

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

Zechariah 9:9

behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Zechariah 11:12

So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

Psalm 22:1, 16, 18

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

they pierced my hands and my feet.

They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

Psalm 16:10

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

And, we are promised:

Genesis 12:3

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.



3D printed legs help disabled dog run for the first time

Yahoo: By now, the heartwarming video of Derby the dog running for the first time in his life thanks to 3D-printed prosthetic legs has officially gone viral. But Derby, a rescue dog who was born with disabled and deformed front legs, isn’t the only one excited about his fancy new limbs. While 3D printers have been used to make replacement limbs for humans, Derby is the first animal to be successfully outfitted with 3D-printed prosthetics. His ability to run marks a huge step forward for the small but remarkable field of animal prosthetics.

Derrick Campana — who helped create Derby’s new legs with designers at the 3D printing company 3D Systems — has been a trailblazer in that field for the past decade.

A certified orthotist, specializing in the creation and use of corrective braces and artificial limbs, Campana had worked only with human patients until about 10 years ago. But when a veterinarian brought a dog in need of a prosthesis to the facility where Campana was working, he discovered he could apply the same technology that he’d mastered on people to help animals. He also soon learned there was a market for animal prosthetics and orthotics that hadn’t really been tapped. So Campana founded Animal Ortho Care in Chantilly, Va., one of the first companies to make orthotics and prosthetics specifically for animals. Today, Campana told Yahoo News, Animal Ortho Care is one of five such companies in the world, seeing between 200 and 300 animal patients each month.  

A few months ago, Derby became one of those patients. Tara Anderson, an employee at the South Carolina-based 3D Systems, had been fostering the disabled dog, and after a failed attempt to help him walk with a cart, she enlisted a couple of her colleagues to help make Derby some prosthetic legs. Accessing 3D printing technology was no problem, but none of them were experts in prosthetics. That’s where Campana came in.

“We were really interested in the case because we always wanted to incorporate 3D printing into our business,” he said. Though 3D printing technology has been available for a while, he explained, some of the materials and tools that work for making human prosthetics aren’t totally compatible with animals. For example, the technology used to easily scan a person’s leg is not as accurate when scanning a leg covered in fur. For Derby, Campana said he molded a fiberglass cast and scanned that into the 3D printing system.

“In the future, hopefully we can just scan the leg directly,” he said.

While 3D printing technology is bound to see furry-friendly advancements in its future, creating the perfect prosthetic is only half the battle when the patient is an animal. “We can make a perfectly well-fitted device, but from there it takes the whole team — the veterinarian, physical therapist, the owners — to teach the dog how to use it,” Campana said.

Not every dog is a good candidate for a prosthetic. Some have been holding up their injured or missing leg for so long that retraining them to step down is very difficult.

“Derby was a hard case, but he was a good candidate because he really wanted to use his legs,” Campana said, explaining that even though he didn’t have paws, Derby still attempted to use his small forearms to get around, despite not getting very far. “When any patient comes in here using his stump, bringing it down, that really increases the chances of success,” he said.

Campana said he’s already been in talks with 3D Systems about further collaborations. As for Derby, Campana hasn’t seen the dog since he started using his prosthetic legs, but, like nearly 3 million others, he has seen Derby’s video.

“He’s running great,” Campana said. “We’re really excited.”


President Lucifer’s Legacy of Racial Understanding

New York Post

Gunman executes 2 NYPD cops as ‘revenge’ for Garner

By Larry Celona, Kevin Fasick, Jamie Schram and Laura Italiano
December 20, 2014 | 4:07pm

Two uniformed NYPD officers were shot dead Saturday afternoon as they sat in their marked police car on a Brooklyn street corner — in what investigators believe was a crazed gunman’s ­assassination-style mission to avenge Eric Garner and Michael Brown.


Slain Officers Liu and Ramos

“It’s an execution,” one law-enforcement source said of the 3 p.m. shooting of police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.

The tragic heroes were working overtime as part of an anti-terrorism drill in Bedford-Stuyvesant when they were shot point-blank in the head by the lone gunman, identified by sources as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, who had addresses in Georgia and Brooklyn.

Moments after killing the two officers, he too was dead, having turned the gun on himself on a nearby subway platform as cops closed in.

Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley

Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley

“I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today,” a person believed to be the gunman wrote on Instagram in a message posted just three hours before the officers were shot.
“They Take 1 Of Ours…Let’s Take 2 of Theirs,” the post continued, signing off with, “This May Be My Final Post.”
He used the hashtag #ShootThePolice, along with two other hashtags referencing Garner and Brown.

Read the whole story at http://nypost.com/2014/12/20/2-nypd-cops-shot-execution-style-in-brooklyn/


Two race baiters

Two race baiters

Farrakhan and  Obama

Farrakhan and

Rev. Wright, "God Damn America!"

Rev. Wright, “God Damn America!”


President Lucifer

President Lucifer

Best Christmas Cookie Recipe Ever

Note: This is a regurgitated post from back in 2011, but I figured we have enough new readers to make it worth posting again – Dave


1 cup of water

lemon juice

1 tsp. baking soda

4 large eggs

1 cup of sugar

1 cup nuts

1 tsp. salt

2 cups of dried fruit

1 cup brown sugar

1 bottle Jack Daniels Whiskey

Sample the Jack Daniels to check quality.

Take a large bowl, check the Jack Daniels again to be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.

Turn on the electric mixer…Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.

Add one teaspoon of sugar… Beat again.

At this point it’s best to make sure the Jack Daniels is still OK, try another cup…just in case.

Turn off the mixerer thingy.

Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit, Pick the frigging fruit off floor…Mix on the turner.

If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the Jack Daniels to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift two cups of salt, or something.

Check the Jack Daniels. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

Add one table.

Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink.

Whatever you can find.

Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

Don’t forget to beat off the turner.

Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the Dack Janiels and make sure to put the stove in the dishwasher.



(h/t: my dear SiL)