God Bless America by Rattleface
I will never ever forget the men and women that lost their lives on 9-11-2001. I will never forget the heroes that day the firefighters the police the citizens and the families of the victims. I wrote the lyrics to this song with tears running down my face watching the towers fall on TV . Ron Sachs my guitarist had given me the music recorded to write to on a cd and I was given the inspiration to write this to some very beautiful music. Thanks Ron ! It almost made the soundtrack for the Nicholas Cage 9-11 Movie but didnt end up being chosen :=( This song has been played on radio stations all over the world and has been featured on 95.5 KLOS Radio Station in Los Angeles numerous times and I hope they play it today on the air again. God Bless America !
The 10 biggest scams of 2013
The 10 biggest scams of 2013The Better Business Bureau was busy last year. Make sure you don't fall for these nefarious schemes in 2014.
Every year, Better Business Bureau receives thousands of calls and emails from consumers who have been scammed ... or from the lucky ones who have dodged scams by being wary. Some scams are widespread, getting a lot of people for small amounts. Others are more narrowly focused, but take people for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Data Book estimates that Americans lost $1.4 billion to scams in 2012.
The Council of Better Business Bureaus, the umbrella organization for the 113 local BBBs across the U.S. and Canada, culls its annual “Top Ten Scams” list from a variety of sources, including reports from consumers, some of whom have been victims of scams; from federal agencies; and from other reliable information sources.
According to the BBB, these are the scams that seemed to be the most widespread, aimed at the most vulnerable, growing in popularity, or just plain audacious. These are the BBB’s top 10 scams of 2013.
Medical alert scam
A new twist to the telemarketing scam hit 2013 hard. With promises of a “free” medical alert system, the scam targeted seniors and caretakers and claimed to be offering the system free of charge because a family member or friend had already paid for it. In many cases, seniors were asked to provide their bank account or credit information to “verify” their identity and, as a result, were charged the monthly $35 service fee. The system, of course, never arrived and the seniors were left with a charge they had trouble getting refunded. The BBB says be wary of “free” offers that require your personal information upfront and always verify with the supposed friend or family member that the caller says paid for the service.
Auction reseller scam
Many people turn to eBay and other online auction sites to sell used items they no longer need, and relatively new electronics seem to do especially well. But scammers have figured out a way to fool sellers into shipping goods without receiving payment. Usually the buyer claims it’s an “emergency” of some sort — a child’s birthday, a member of the military shipping out — and asks the seller to ship the same day. The seller receives an email that looks like it’s from PayPal confirming the payment, but emails are easy to fake. Always confirm payment in your eBay and PayPal accounts before shipping, especially to an overseas address.
Arrest warrant scam
In this scam, con artists are taking advantage of technology that can change what is visible on Caller ID, and allowing them to pose as the office of the local sheriff or other law enforcement agency. They call to say there is a warrant out for your arrest, but that you can pay a fine to avoid criminal charges. Of course, these “police” don’t take credit cards; only a wire transfer or prepaid debit card will do. Sometimes these scams seem very personal; the scammer may refer to a loan or other financial matter. It may just be a lucky guess, but don’t be fooled into thinking you are about to be arrested.
Invisible home improvements
Home improvement scams vary little from year to year, and most involve some type of shoddy workmanship from unlicensed or untrained workers. The hardest for homeowners to detect, and therefore the easiest for scammers to pull off, are repairs or improvements to the areas of your home that you can’t see: roofs, chimneys, air ducts, crawl spaces, etc. Scammers may simply knock at your door offering a great deal because they were “in the neighborhood,” but more and more they are using telemarketing, email and even social media to reach homeowners. Helpful videos on YouTube can add legitimacy to a contractor, but consumers have no way of knowing if the video is real or “borrowed” from a legitimate contractor. Check out home contractors before saying yes.
Casting call scam
This isn't as widespread as some other scams, but it seems to be on the increase in recent years, thanks to the popularity of television talent shows like “American Idol” and “Project Runway.” Scammers pose as agents or talent scouts looking for actors, singers, models, reality show contestants, etc., and use phony audition notices to fool aspiring performers into paying to try out for parts that don’t exist. There are several ways this plays out. It can simply be an unscrupulous way to sell acting lessons, photography services, etc., or it can be an outright scam for things like fees for online “applications” or upcoming “casting calls.” Even worse, the information provided on an online application could be everything a scammer needs for identity theft.
Foreign currency scam
Investments in foreign currency can sound like a great idea, and scammers frequently use real current events and news stories to make their pitches even more appealing. They advertise an easy investment with high return and low risk when you purchase Iraqi dinar, Vietnamese dong or, most recently, the Egyptian pound. The plan is that, when those governments revalue their currencies, increasing their worth against the dollar, you just sell and cash in. Unlike previous hoaxes, you may even take possession of real currency. The problem is that they will be very difficult to sell, and it’s extremely unlikely they will ever significantly increase in value.
With online and mobile banking skyrocketing, it isn’t a surprise that scams quickly follow. One major tactic recently is the use of scam texts, known as “smishing,” to steal personal information. They look like a text alert from your bank, asking you to confirm information or “reactivate your debit card” by following a link on your smartphone. Banks of all sizes have been targeted, and details of the scam vary, but the outcome is the same: scammers get your banking information, maybe even your ATM number and PIN. You may even inadvertently download malicious software that gives the scammer access to anything on your phone.
The National Do Not Call Registry (U.S.) or the National Do Not Call List (Canada) offer consumers a free way to reduce telemarketing calls. Scammers call anyway, of course, and they’ve even found a way to scam consumers by pretending to be a government official calling to sign you up or confirming your previous participation on the Dot Not call list. In one variation, scammers ask for personal information, such as your name, address and Social Security or Social Insurance number. In another, scammers try to charge a fee to join the registry. Either way, just hang up. These services are free, but sharing personal information with a scammer could cost you a lot.
Fake friend scam
Did you ever get a friend request on Facebook from someone you already thought was your friend? If you hit ‘accept’, you may have just friended a scammer. A popular recent scam has been the theft of people’s online identities to create fake profiles, which can be used in a variety of ways. A new friend can learn a lot about you to scam you later, “recommend” sketchy websites that download malware, use your account to scrap information on your other friends, even impersonate a military officer or other trustworthy person to perpetrate a romance scam. Be careful on social media, keep your privacy settings high, and don’t share confidential information. You can’t always be sure that your friends are really your friends.
Scam of the year: Affordable Care Act scam
Scammers had a field day with the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, using it as a way to fool Americans into sharing their personal information. Scammers would call claiming to be from the federal government and saying the would-be victim needed a new insurance card or Medicare card. However, before they can mail the card, they need to collect personal information. Scammers do a lot to make their requests seem credible. For example, they may have your bank’s routing number and ask you to provide your account number. Or, they may ask for your credit card or Social Security number, Medicare ID, or other personal information. But sharing personal information with a scammer puts you at risk for identity theft.
Michigan motorists bent out of shape by potholes, lack of reimbursement
Drivers can file claims with state or local road agencies for blown tires, bent wheel rims and other damage in what already has become an especially nasty pothole season. But their chances of collecting are slim.
Hundreds of claims filed with the state since 2010 have resulted in payouts totaling just over $3,300 to six motorists, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation. None of the 128 claims lodged between Oct. 1 and Feb. 14 has been paid, a department spokesman said.
Motorists with pothole damage in Oakland County have fared a little better. Of 75 claims filed since Oct. 1, seven totaling $3,464 have been granted, said Road Commission for Oakland County spokesman Craig Bryson.
The state takes responsibility for interstates and U.S.- and M-designated roadways; the counties are responsible for county roads.
The situation promises to worsen as a result of the extreme freeze-thaw cycle of a frigid winter and continued underfunding of road repairs. Some drivers’ frustrations are boiling over.
“We should be getting something better for all of the money we spend on the roads,” said Archie Fonville, 77, of Ecorse, who wrecked two tires on his 2006 BMW in a pothole encounter on Interstate 75 near Springwell. His November claim for $204.40 was rejected by the State Administrative Board.
Fonville said he was headed to church when the pothole loomed ahead. He couldn’t change lanes because there was truck next to him. He filed a claim for just one tire, he said, because the other one was old.
“I still feel I should be reimbursed in some kind of way,” Fonville said.
Dr. Rudolph Demercurio, a Farmington Hills optometrist, said he feels fortunate to have collected $400 from the state for two blown tires on his Cadillac from a pothole in the same area of I-75 near Springwells on a Friday evening in February 2013. His claim initially was rejected, but approved on appeal.
Demercurio said he was one of eight motorists with disabled vehicles waiting for wreckers along the interstate about 8 p.m. while State Police directed traffic around the pothole, which appeared to have been patched once and reopened.
“You drive around in Ohio, you don’t see the type of potholes we have here,” Demercurio said. “I think it’s poor workmanship, or they just don’t allocate enough money to ever fix the roads.”
Few claims eligible State law says state and local road agencies are liable only for damage from potholes that have gone 30 or more days without repair, or if negligence can be proved. It means drivers whose wheels slammed through jagged paving that appeared overnight or during the past few days are unlikely to be reimbursed.
“State law requires that to prove a highway defect claim, the motorist must show that we failed to maintain the highway in reasonable repair,” said MDOT communications representative James Lake. “They must also show that MDOT knew of the condition and had an opportunity to repair it, or the condition existed for more than 30 days.
“Few claims are eligible for payment because potholes form quickly, and when we become aware of them, we work quickly to repair them,” Lake said. “We don’t want vehicles to be damaged, or anyone to be hurt.”
Of claims paid in the past few years, Lake said, the average claim was $555, with a low of $205.49 and a high of $999.99. The most common types of damage are blown tires, bent rims, damaged suspension or damaged steering, he said.
The State Administrative Board, not MDOT, makes the final decision if a claim for less than $1,000 is rejected and the driver appeals. MDOT’s data show that in addition to the six claims paid since 2010, another 44 were rejected on appeal to the State Administrative Board, whose members are the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, superintendent of public instruction and transportation director.
Drivers with damage exceeding $1,000 have to file complaints with the Michigan Court of Claims in Lansing.
Other states handle pothole claims differently. In Ohio, drivers with damage worth $10,000 or less file with the Ohio Court of Claims. According to the Ohio Supreme Court’s news site, drivers must show the state highway department had been notified of a pothole and failed to repair it.
The Ohio Court of Claims administrator decides if damages will be awarded after an 81-day process in which the highway department is allowed to file an investigative report and the motorist can reply to the report. If the claim is denied, the motorist can appeal to the claims court judge.
The Illinois Department of Transportation requires “prior notice” and “an adequate length of time to remedy or repair the condition.”
Road funds lacking The normal pothole season still is a couple of weeks away, but Michigan’s rugged roads already are taking a toll and creating business for tire and repair shops.
“We have a whole stack of broken rims and split-open tires from our customers hitting potholes,” said Keith Fenwick, senior assistant manager at a Discount Tire store in Auburn Hills.
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said drivers’ troubles with potholes are likely to grow because the Legislature hasn’t approved the funding necessary to fix roads as fast as they’re deteriorating. A Legislature-sponsored study in 2011 showed an investment of at least $1.2 billion more per year is needed now.
“Roads are not getting funded properly year after year, and we’re still waiting for the Legislature to come up with a funding formula for it,” Hackel said.
The 2011 study showed by early the next decade the state should be spending nearly $2.5 billion more per year for repairs on state roads — let alone local roads.
Gov. Rick Snyder repeatedly has called for action on more infrastructure spending, but leaders in the House and Senate have said again this year it’s unlikely lawmakers will approve the necessary tax hikes or changes. At best, it appears they’ll use $200 million to $300 million of a nearly $1 billion state surplus to boost the road repair budget.
The situation led Hackel in late January to make public a promise for prompt response to all calls received by the county dispatch center about pothole damage to vehicles.
“We will get a crew out there and fill it within an hour, day or night,” Hackel said. “We’re not going to wait and put it on a list.”
The Macomb County executive’s pledge is prompted in part by his own experience. Three weeks ago, he hit a pothole that wrecked a tire on his vehicle on 23 Mile near Interstate 94. Coincidentally, he said, it happened in front of a tire store.
State pothole claim process Applicants for state reimbursement on pothole or “highway defect” claims must meet several criteria to qualify for payment:
■ The pothole must be located on a highway with an M, I or U.S. prefix.
■ The motorist must show the state failed to maintain the highway in reasonable repair.
■ The driver must show MDOT knew of the condition and had an opportunity to repair it, or the condition existed for more than 30 days.
■ Claims for less than $1,000 must be submitted to the MDOT regional office or transportation service center that covers the county where the incident occurred. If a claim is for $1,000 or more, it must be filed with the Michigan Court of Claims in Lansing.
A claim form and instructions are available on the MDOT website at: http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,4616,7-151-9615_30883-93194--,00.html.
Source: Michigan Department of Transportation
How to report a pothole ■The Pothole Hotline is 888-296-4546.
■ “Report a Pothole” is the first link in the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Spotlight section at www.michigan.gov/mdot.
■196 state highway potholes have been reported to MDOT this year.
Source: Michigan Department of Transportation
From The Detroit News
As winter's snow slowly melts, people may be happy to see that sidewalks are finally free of ice and slush. But those ice-free sidewalks and roadways may hold an even more dangerous threat: death by electrocution.
Several blocks of busy Sixth Avenue in downtown Manhattan were cordoned off to pedestrians and vehicles on Feb. 19, following reports of a powerful electric current surging through sidewalk grates, manhole covers and the doorknobs of nearby buildings, Gothamist reported.
The problem was a defective electric cable, according to service provider Consolidated Edison (Con Ed). Though no injuries were reported, similar incidents in the recent past have proved deadly to people and pets.
In winter 2004, graduate student Jodie Lane, 30, was electrocuted to death while walking on a damp street in New York City. Con Ed later admitted that her death was the result of poorly insulated electrical wires.
In 2007, two dogs were electrocuted in as many days after walking on New York City sidewalks where snow and ice had melted. One dog died; the other was revived after its dog walker was able to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the pet.
And earlier this month, a pit-bull-terrier mix was electrocuted just steps from the front door of its owner's Manhattan apartment. "We were entering the building when Bella started acting funny," the dog's owner told the New York Daily News. "She let out a cry. She didn't seem to want to go into the building. Then, she went into a spasm and just laid there."
Winter's deadly shocks
It's not a coincidence that these electrocutions all happened in winter, during periods when the weather was just warm enough to melt the snow and ice that had accumulated on roads and sidewalks.
Water can conduct electricity, though not very efficiently. The conductivity of water is greatly increased when salts and other inorganic chemicals (such as calcium, magnesium and chloride compounds) are dissolved in water.
And those dissolved minerals - especially sodium chloride (NaCl), calcium chloride (CaCl2), magnesium chloride (MgCl2) or potassium chloride (KCl) - are the exact compounds found in deicers commonly spread on sidewalks and roads to melt ice and snow.
So when ice and snow begin to melt, deicing minerals are dissolved in the meltwater, creating a perfect conduit for any electrical charge that may be present in wires that are frayed or have cracked insulation.
In the most recent case of electrocution, Con Ed was able to determine that the electric current from a frayed electric wire on a building's scaffolding was responsible for the dog's death.
Smoke Alarms & Fire
Smoke alarms & fire -- statisticsMost consumers don't think about a fire until one happens. As part of its commitment to educating the public on fire safety and prevention, UL asks consumers to think about fire now to minimize the risk of it happening later-and to minimize the risk of injury or death if one happens.
Scope of the problem
Suicide occurs when a person ends his or her life. It is the 10th leading cause of death among Americans. But suicide deaths are only part of the problem. Suicide attempts impact a larger population—more individuals survive suicide attempts than die. And they are often seriously injured and in need of medical care.
Suicide Deaths in the United States
Suicide is a complex human behavior, with no single determining cause. The factors that affect the likelihood of a person attempting or dying by are known as risk or protective factors, depending on whether they raise or lower the likelihood of suicidal behavior.
Major risk factors for suicide include:
Some behaviors may indicate that a person is at immediate risk for suicide. The following three should prompt you to immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or a mental health professional.
Does your job bring you in contact with people who may be at risk of suicide?
Perhaps you work in a school or a first responder agency?
Or you may be an employer or a foster parent?
Do you know how you can help prevent suicide?
SPRC has created a series of information sheets for people in positions that bring them in contact with individuals who may be at risk for suicide. Each sheet is customized to a specific role and setting, and includes:
If you are a teen, family member, or survivor of suicide loss, you may need suicide prevention information for yourself or others. Fortunately, there are many excellent suicide prevention resources for these individuals. SPRC has compiled these resources into annotated lists.
Resource sheets are available for the following:
The high cost of home heating fuels and utilities have caused many Americans to search for alternate sources of home heating. The use of woodburning stoves is growing and space heaters are selling rapidly, or coming out of storage. Fireplaces are burning wood and manmade logs. All these methods of heating may be acceptable. They are, however, a major contributing factor in residential fires. Many of these fires can be prevented. The following fire safety tips can help you maintain a fire safe home this winter.
ØBe sure that kerosene heaters are legal in your area.
ØBe sure your heater is in good working condition.
ØInspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup. Be sure the heater has an emergency shut off in case the heater is tipped over.
ØNever use fuel burning appliances without proper room venting. Burning fuel (coal, kerosene, or propane, for example) can produce deadly fumes.
ØUse ONLY the fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer. NEVER introduce a fuel into a unit not designed for that type fuel.
ØKeep kerosene, or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers, in well ventilated storage areas, outside of the house.
ØNever fill the heater while it is operating or hot. When refueling an oil or kerosene unit, avoid overfilling.
ØRefueling should be done outside of the home (or outdoors). Keep young children away from space heaters—especially when they are wearing night gowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
ØWhen using a fuel burning appliance in the bedroom, be sure there is proper ventilation to prevent a buildup of carbon monoxide.
Wood Stoves And Fireplaces
Wood stoves and fireplaces are becoming a very common heat source in homes. Careful attention to safety can minimize their fire hazard.
To use them safely:
ØBe sure the fireplace or stove is installed properly. Wood stoves should have adequate clearance (36”) from combustible surfaces and proper floor support and protection.
ØWood stoves should be of good quality, solid construction and design, and should be laboratory tested.
ØHave the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary, especially if it has not been used for some time.
ØDo not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate any fire.
ØKeep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.
ØThe stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup.
ØDon’t use excessive amounts of paper to build roaring fires in fireplaces. It is possible to ignite creosote in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
ØNever burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal can give off lethal amounts of carbon monoxide.
ØKeep flammable materials away from your fireplace mantel. A spark from the fireplace could easily ignite theses materials.
ØBefore you go to sleep, be sure your fireplace fire is out. NEVER close your damper with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper will help the fire to heat up again and will force toxic carbon monoxide into the house.
ØIf synthetic logs are used, follow the directions on the package. NEVER break a synthetic log apart to quicken the fire or use more than one log at a time. They often burn unevenly, releasing higher levels of carbon monoxide.
ØIt is important that you have your furnace inspected to ensure that it is in good working condition.
ØBe sure all furnace controls and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition.
ØLeave furnace repairs to qualified specialists. Do not attempt repairs yourself unless you are qualified. Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace and along the chimney line. If the wall is hot or discolored, additional pipe insulation or clearance may be required.
ØCheck the flue pipe and pipe seams. Are they well supported and free of holes and cracks? Soot along or around seams may be an indicator of a leak.
ØIs the chimney solid, with cracks or loose bricks? All unused flue openings should be sealed with solid masonry.
ØKeep trash and other combustibles away from the heating system.
Other Fire Safety Tips
ØNever discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house.
ØNever use a range or an oven as a supplemental heating device. Not only is it a safety hazard, it can be a source of potentially toxic fumes.
ØIf you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. Only use extension cords which have the necessary rating to carry an amp load. TIP: Choose an extension cord the same size or larger than the appliance electrical cord.
ØAvoid using electrical space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
ØFrozen water pipes? Never try to thaw them with a blow torch or other open flame, otherwise the pipe could conduct the heat and ignite the wall structure inside the wall space. Use hot water or a laboratory tested device such as a hand held dryer for thawing.
ØIf windows are used as emergency exits in your home, practice using them in the event fire should strike. Be sure that all the windows open easily. Home escape ladders are recommended.
ØIf there is a fire hydrant near your home you can assist the fire department by keeping the hydrant clear of snow so in the event it is needed, it can be located.
ØBe sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm, and be sure to check and clean it on a monthly basis.
ØPlan and practice a home escape plan with your family.
ØContact your local fire department for advice if you have a question on home fire safety.
For more information or copies of this publication, please contact:
Department of Homeland Security • U.S. Fire Administration
16825 South Seton Avenue • Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727
800-561-3356 • www.usfa.dhs.gov
Winter Home Fire Safety Part 1
The threat of winter fires is real. Use these statistics to help citizens understand the severity and prevalence of winter fires.
I recently began selling again on ebay. In the course of three days, I have been met with 2 scams.
The first is from a lady who bought an item for $0.99 and flat rate shipping of $10. I added in some 'freebies' as a thank you. She has now accused me of increasing the shipping weight by adding the freebies. Understand, this was flat rate shipping & it actually cost me $12 to ship. Now she is holding her 'rating' hostage, until I tell her not to pay for it.
The second is much worse. I sold a turbo for $800. The buyer had no previous buying experience on ebay. He has now placed the transaction through Paypal on hold. He states that he didn't receive the item as described.
In both cases I fear I will lose. The first is only out $11, the second I cannot afford. ebay is siding with the buyers in both cases. This is a clear case of the tail wagging the dog.
I am venting but I am also using this to warn everyone out there about the dangers of selling on ebay. Here is an excerpt from another blog by Joel Lee:
The Scam: In this Ebay scam, everything goes according to plan. You put up an item for sale, a buyer bids on it (or Buys It Now if you
allowed it), you receive payment, you send the item, done! However, before he bought your item, he also bought a broken version of the same exact item. They use this to blackmail you into giving them a full refund or else they’ll report you to eBay.
How It Gets You: When something like this happens, it’s easy to feel helpless. You feel like they outsmarted you, you have no evidence that your item was functional, you can’t prove that they’re lying. In order to mitigate your losses, you agree to the full refund and move on while the scammer just got a free item from you.
How to Avoid It: Sadly, this scam is a little harder to avoid. You have two options. One, you can require your buyers to purchase
shipping insurance to protect yourself against this kind of thing. Two, you can state on your eBay listings that there are NO REFUNDS on your items.
(You can read more here: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-ebay-scams-to-be-aware-of/
PSA from Hub911
Information to know