Archive for April 1st, 2010

The beat of the solar system

| April 1, 2010 | Reply
The beat of the solar system

Whimsical. Charming. The “beat” of the solar system. Two times around per tone for speedy Mercury.

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How big is the U.S. military budget?

| April 1, 2010 | 1 Reply
How big is the U.S. military budget?

This article by the U.K. Guardian puts it in perspective:

[T]he United States spent a staggering $607bn (£402 bn) on defence in 2008. Currently engaged in what will likely be the longest ground war in US history in Afghanistan. Harbourer of thousands of nuclear weapons. 1.5m soldiers. Fleets of aircrafts, bombs and seemingly endless amounts of military technology.

I know that many Americans would read the above paragraph with pride and contentment. I consider it succinct evidence that we are a paranoid war-mongering nation. I consider these enormous military expenditures tragic, considering all of the other things that we could and should be doing with most of that money.

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Unconscionable credit card fees

| April 1, 2010 | Reply
Unconscionable credit card fees

How onerous are credit card fees. Consider this example described by the NYT:

Robert Triozzi . . . found that over a period of several years, Ms. Owens had paid nearly $3,500 on an original balance of $1,900. But Discover was suing her for $5,564, mostly for late fees, compound interest, penalties and other charges. He called Discover’s actions “unconscionable” and threw the case out.

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Rich man feels left out.

| April 1, 2010 | Reply
Rich man feels left out.

The Onion reports on a rich man who is feeling left out of the recession.

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Man arrested at the Large Hadron Collider claims to be from the future

| April 1, 2010 | 1 Reply
Man arrested at the Large Hadron Collider claims to be from the future

As reported by CNET UK:

A would-be saboteur arrested today at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland made the bizarre claim that he was from the future. Eloi Cole, a strangely dressed young man, said that he had traveled back in time to prevent the LHC from destroying the world.

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Five minutes is all it takes to help cap Missouri payday loans at 36%

| April 1, 2010 | 1 Reply
Five minutes is all it takes to help cap Missouri payday loans at 36%

As I indicated here, Missouri is considering a 36% rate cap for payday loans. Currently, payday lenders often charge 400% and 500% interest on such loans that are financially devastating to the poor and the working poor (Missouri’s 9% “usury” cap does not apply to payday loans).

Bill 2116 is now pending before The House Committee on Financial Institutions, which is chaired by Republican State Representative Mike Cunningham. This important bill will not get a hearing unless Mr. Cunningham decides to grant a hearing, at his discretion. This single bill, HB 2116, “combines two bills filed by Representative Mary Still in January into one bill dealing with both annual percentage rates (APR) caps and restrictions of nursing homes offering payday services to employees.”

Here’s how you can help. Please consider writing to Mr. Cunningham today, requesting him to hold a hearing regarding Bill 2116, to consider capping Missouri payday loans at 36% interest. Your letter can be two sentences, or you can spell out your reasons in more detail.

Mr. Cunningham can be reached at mike.cunningham@house.mo.gov . His snail mail address is:

Representative Mike Cunningham
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 411-2
Jefferson City MO 65101
Office Phone: 573-751-3819
Fax: 573-526-1888

Even a small number of emails, faxes or letters will make a big difference. If you want to be part of a citizens’ movement cap interest rates of payday loans at 36%, please take a moment to write to Mr. Cunningham. I can’t emphasize enough that your single email, fax or letter could be the difference between this bill getting a hearing, or nothing being done.

As for the detailed reasons for imposing a rate cap, see my earlier post on the proposed legislation. I have also inserted (below) a letter written by John Campbell (an attorney with whom I work). Thank you so very much for considering this. Please do consider sending me a copy of any emails you send to Mr. Cunningham.

[Letter from John Campbell to Mr. Cunningham]

Representative Cunningham:

I am writing to request that the House Committee on Financial Institutions grant a hearing on Bill 2116, a bill to limit the interest rate on payday loans to 36%.

I have extensive personal experience with payday loans. I am an attorney, and I spend much of my time representing consumers. In the course of my practice, I have talked with dozens of payday loan borrowers. Their stories are remarkably similar. Payday loan borrowers are generally low wage earners with high school degrees or less, and they are typically in desperate situations when they go to a payday lender. In my experience, payday loans lead to create a debt cycle that is difficult for most borrowers to escape.

[more . . . ]

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