Tag Archives: free

And the Ugliest Woman Award Goes to……

Scotland’s ugliest woman honoured

Jack O’Sullivan

She was the Bridget Jones of her day. Desperate to wed, Muckle Mou'd Meg, heroine of a famous Scottish ballad, could find no takers.

Indeed her quest for her Mark Darcy was doubly frustrating. Poor Meg was known as the ugliest woman in the Scottish Borders.

All of which explains why the 17th-century noblewoman was honoured yesterday by a striking new sculpture, unveiled at Ellibank in Scotland, her family home. The elmwood carving portrays an ugly bride beside her groom. Despite all, Meg got her man.

So what did Meg have that Bridget is missing? A dad who could pull strings or, more accurately, ropes.

Sir Gideon Murray, the King’s Treasurer, despaired of finding a match for his unattractive daughter. Then a cattle raider, Willie Scott, was caught red-handed stealing his stock. Sir Gideon came up with the perfect punishment – marry his daughter or hang.

Legend says that Scott was initially so appalled at the prospect that he opted for death. Only when he saw the noose hanging from the gallows tree did he decide he was better off wed than dead.

The new sculpture, set on the banks of the Tweed, shows the pair in the throes of a joyous reel at their wedding feast. Eight feet tall, the sculpture by the Borders artist Rob Taylor overlooks the turrets of the bride’s ancestral home near Galashiels. Bridget would be envious.

The depiction of Willie Scott as joyous is not artistic licence. Relate may be amazed to discover that Meg’s marriage was long and happy. “Her nature was generous, gentle and free,” says the Scottish poet James Hogg’s ballad, “The Fray of Ellibank”, which immortalises the episode.

During his research, Mr Taylor also decided that Muckle Mou’d may not have been as ugly as her reputation suggested. “She did have a long nose and a very big mouth,” he said. “But so does Barbra Streisand. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

SOURCE

America…Land of the Free?

10 Examples That Should Convince Anyone That We No Longer Live In The Land Of The Free And The Home Of The Brave

Do you know people that still believe that America is a free country? Do you have friends or family that are proud to live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”? If you do, just show them this article. The things that you are about to read are enough to make the blood of any red-blooded American boil. We don’t live in a free country anymore. Instead, we live in a “Big Brother” police state control grid that is becoming more restrictive every single day. Most of our politicians seem to be control freaks that are obsessed with running every single little detail of our lives. These days there has to be a “rule” or a “regulation” for everything. The radical social engineers in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and communist China never even dared to try some of the things that are going on in America today. We are all being treated little better than cattle and we are all being taught that it is best to just sit in our homes and absorb all of the television “programming” that is being provided for us. Meanwhile, our public schools have become little more than prison grids. Our children are being taught to enjoy living as docile slaves in a world where imagination, liberty, freedom and adventure are all greatly discouraged.

Unfortunately, none of this is an exaggeration. Our politicians love to give speeches about “liberty” and “freedom”, but they always seem to have excuses to justify the endless parade of liberty-killing laws that they are imposing on all the rest of us.

Almost all of the freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights have been severely eroded. In fact, a number of them are almost totally gone at this point.

The things that you are about to read should make you mad. In fact, if none of these things make you mad there is a problem. Sadly, millions of Americans have actually embraced tyranny, and if you are not outraged by any of the items listed below than you are likely one of them.

The following are 10 examples that show that we no longer live in the land of the free and the home of the brave….

#1 According to the ACLU, state police in Michigan are using “extraction devices” to download data from the cellphones of motorists that they pull over. This is taking place even if those pulled over are not accused of doing anything wrong.

The following is how an article on CNET News describes the capabilities of these “extraction devices”….

The devices, sold by a company called Cellebrite, can download text messages, photos, video, and even GPS data from most brands of cell phones. The handheld machines have various interfaces to work with different models and can even bypass security passwords and access some information.

#2 In the state of New York, the Department of Health has designated wiffle ball, dodge ball, kick ball, freeze tag, red rover, frisbee tossing and tug of war as “risky recreational activities”. Any organization or program that allows kids to enjoy these games during the summer will now be subject to strict government regulation according to the New York Daily News….

Under the new rules, any program that offers two or more organized recreational activities – with at least one of them on the risky list – is deemed a summer camp and subject to state regulation.

#3 At one public school in the Chicago area, children have been banned from bringing their lunches from home. Yes, you read that correctly. Students at that particular school are absolutely prohibited from bringing lunches from home. Instead, it is mandatory that they eat the food that the school cafeteria serves.

#4 Would you like to have your face scanned and your ID recorded every time you attend a public event? Don’t laugh. The San Francisco Entertainment Commission is actually proposing a new rule which “would require all venues with an occupancy of over 100 people to record the faces of all patrons and employees and scan their ID’s for storage in a database which they must hand over to law enforcement on request.”

#5 In Delaware, police and state government officials recently tore a basketball hoop right out of a family’s front yard and carted it away because it was “too close” to the street. They even extracted the pole for the basketball hoop out of the ground and took that away too.

#6 In Missouri of all places, two young girls named Abigail and Caitlin Mills were recently taught a lesson on how to be good citizens in the emerging totalitarian control grid going up all over the United States. After a complaint from a neighbor, the city of Hazelwood cracked down on the two girls and told them that they must stop selling girl scout cookies in their own front yard.

#7 As I have written about previously, federal bureaucrats have outlawed the incandescent light bulbs that we all grew up with and will be forcing us to switch over to new CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) light bulbs that are more expensive and that are actually worse for the environment. One new study conducted by scientists in Germany has shown that the new CFL light bulbs that we are being forced to use contain poisonous carcinogens that are likely cause cancer. In fact, the German scientists say that these CFL bulbs should be “kept as far away as possible from the human environment”.

#8 Many states are aggressively seizing “unclaimed” safe deposit boxes and are selling off the contents and using the money to pay state government bills. In the state of California, they are now going after safe deposit boxes if the owners have had “no contact” with the bank for just 3 years. Other states are being nearly as aggressive. If you have a safe deposit box that you have not opened in a while you need to go check on it right away.

#9 One Mississippi state judge recently issued an order for state officials to gather and deliver to him the names of every single child that is being homeschooled in the state. The frightening thing is that the judge did this all on his own. Nobody requested this information and there is no case pending for which this information would be required.

#10 The TSA had promised that they were going to stop groping little children at airports, but apparently that is not the case. For example, one 6 year old little girl made headlines recently when a TSA worker touched all of her private areas before allowing her to get on an airplane. Her parents were forced to stand aside and watch this outrage take place.

So what do all of you think about this list?

Does anyone out there still believe that we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/10-examples-to-show-anyone-that-still-believes-we-live-in-the-land-of-the-free-and-the-home-of-the-brave

NEW $5 ATM FEE JUST THE LATEST CHECKING TRAP

CT by Bob Sullivan

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“Total Checking.” “Value Checking.” “MyAccess Checking.” What do they all have in common? The word “free” is missing from the name.

You are likely painfully aware that big banks like Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America have ended no-strings-attached free checking accounts. But if you had any questions about how restrictive — or expensive — those strings can be, consider Chase bank. Scarcely two years ago, we marveled at banks’ efforts to inch fees up to $3 per withdrawal. Chase bank is now test-piloting $5-per-withdrawal fees for non-customers in Illinois. That’s in addition to fees the consumers’ bank charges. Soon it may cost $10 to grab $20 in a pinch.

Once upon a time, consumers could expect to earn money by leaving their cash sitting in a bank. Today, consumers must worry about their bank slowly bleeding money out of the account. The change is happening swiftly. Chase says it’s converted around 8 million free accounts — many former customers of Washington Mutual — into “follow-our-rules-or-pay-up-to-$144-annually” accounts.

It costs banks about $300 apiece annually to offer checking accounts, according to a recent study by Bretton-Woods. They used to recoup these costs by helping themselves to some $30 billion worth of overdraft fees from consumers. But now that the cash cow has been largely eliminated by new consumer regulations, banks are trying out new techniques to recoup this lost revenue.

Just how far will banks be able to push fee-weary consumers? That’s unclear. Earlier this month, Bankrate.com released a survey showing 75 percent of consumers earning $75,000 or more would rather switch banks than pay higher fees. Overall, 64 percent of customers said they’d bolt.

That ire may not translate into action, however, and banks know it. A J.D. Power study released on March 1 found that, while consumers are switching banks at a slightly higher rate than in the past (8.7 percent last year, compared to 7.7 percent a year earlier), fees and interest rates have almost nothing to do with their choices. “Pricing” impacted only 4 percent of consumers, the study found.

This would not be a surprise to behavioral economists. Consumers almost never consider fees — particularly punitive fees like overdrafts or “your balance fell below $1,000” charges — when making purchase decisions. Nearly everyone suffers from what’s sometimes called “magical thinking” — as in, “I’ll never misbehave and get hit by that fee.”

It’s the shallow things that matter
So what do people consider when switching banks? Big, impressive buildings and billboards seemed to matter most, the survey found. Here’s the depressing quote from the JD Power press release:

“For customers evaluating and ultimately selecting a new bank, the most important factors driving their decision are advertising; branch convenience; products and services; promotional offers; and direct and indirect customer experience,” it said.

That means you can expect higher fees, more buildings and more kooky ads from banks.

There was one positive note in the J.D. Power research. There is evidence consumers do have their limits. About 17 percent of consumers who switched banks said high fees or low interest motivated the breakup.

Banks argue that it’s not fair to say free checking has disappeared. OK. Let’s just say NSA relationships with big banks are dead, replaced It’s by accounts wrapped in red tape. And remember, many of these rules can change at any time. So here’s five Red Tape Traps you’ll find along the way to a free checking account.


1) Soaring ATM fees
We’ve already mentioned Chase’s $5 experiment. Plenty of folks now pay $6 or $7 per withdrawal, when the ATM machine fee is added to their own bank’s fee. These fees are perhaps the best example of magical thinking at work. Most folks think they’ll be good about walking the extra block to access cash at their bank’s ATM. But when there’s a screaming kid in a stroller or an impatient date on the arm, you’re likely to just pay the fee. Even one so-called “foreign” ATM transaction with a $5 hit every month costs $60 annually. Be realistic: If your bank charges for such transactions, you should just budget $100 annually for ATM service. But a much better choice is to find a bank that doesn’t charge you. For those ATM emergencies, you’ll at least cut your ATM fees in half, and some banks — USAA Federal Savings Bank, for example — refund the ATM bank’s fees. There’s no law preventing you from getting a secondary checking account with a new institution that you use primarily for accessing cash on the fly. I recommend this kind of “allowance” account structure in Stop Getting Ripped Off.

A few other creative efforts can cut your ATM fees. Get cash back when you shop at grocery stores with your debit card, although that’s not my favorite way to use debit. Better yet: Find fee-free ATMs. They’re out there. The WaWa convenience store chain offers them, and it recently performed its one billionth fee-free cash withdrawal.

What it costs: Two “foreign” withdrawals per month — $120

2) Keeping your minimum balance
Most account holders are familiar with the idea that they might have to do something — maintain a minimum balance or direct deposit their paychecks — in order to keep some level of service.

But now, a single slip-up, such as a flurry of cashed checks that sink your balance to $998.43 for one afternoon, can be costly. With fees of $12 or more, the experience is not unlike getting hit with an overdraft. The same advice you followed to prevent overdrafts applies here. Some banks let you link your savings and checking accounts to make sure you don’t dip below that minimum. Sign up for text message alerts so you can get early notification of a dangerously low balance, and log on to online banking to check your balance often. Stagger your regular payments so they hit after your paychecks.

The biggest Red Tape Trap of all, however, is the dreaded movable minimum balance. Consumers who once enjoyed fee waivers for keeping $500 in an account can see that minimum raised to $750 or $1,000. It’s easy to miss a warning letter from the bank, and end up with one or two months of $12 fees. The clearest hint a balance change is coming is an account name change (see below).

What it costs: Two slip-ups — $24

3) Overdraft fee marketing
The voracious overdraft fee animal isn’t gone, it’s just been put back in its cage. Until recently, consumers could incur $35 overdraft fees by making small purchases with their debit cards. Today, those transactions are simply declined by the bank, or approved without the fee — unless the bank has received explicit opt-in permission from the account holder. Banks have driven hard to trick consumers into giving up this permission, which is inappropriate for the vast amount of consumers. They’ve given it pleasing sounding names like “courtesy pay,” “Buffer Zone,” or “debit card advance,” and plastered bank windows with pictures of smiling, attractive men and women who say they are relieved to have this peace of mind. If you’ve been tricked into signing up for overdraft protection, un-sign up immediately.

What it costs: Two overdrafts — $70

4) The name has changed
The surest sign a new fee or restriction is coming is a name change — either the name of your bank has changed because of an acquisition (like Washington Mutual becoming Chase) or the name of your account has been changed. Former Washington Mutual customers have seen their account names changed from “WaMu Free Checking” to “Chase Free Extra Checking” to “Chase Total Checking,” which is totally more expensive than free. Ironically, a Google search for Washington Mutual still sends consumers to a Web page at Chase.com with the title “WaMu.com, home of WaMu Free Checking, is now Chase.”

Chase customers can avoid checking fees through a variety of methods — maintaining a minimum daily balance, a high average balance, making at least one large direct deposit, or by paying a bunch of other fees.

The amounts required — at least one $500 deposit — aren’t Draconian, but the rules mean consumers have a lot of new things to keep track of. They will slip up, and pay. And of course, the rules can and will change. Beware the notice that you’ve just been upgraded to “Complete Awesome Checking” or “Value Asset Acquisition Checking.” You almost certainly are about to be hit with a new fee or rule.

What it costs: Two mistakes — $24

5) The hidden cost of no interest
Of course, requiring a minimum balance of $1,500 or so is itself a fee. That’s money you could park in a high-yielding money market account earning interest. Even a 1 percent interest rate would get you a smidge more than $15 on your $1,500, so that kind of minimum requirement amounts to a $15 annual fee.

What it costs: Missed interest — $15

TOTAL TRAP COST: $253 annually.

This entire column has been a not-so-subtle suggestion that you consider banking alternatives. Online banks like ING Direct offer higher interest and fewer fees. Credit unions and small banks still offer really free checking. In fact, BankRate.com just released a survey showing 38 of the 50 largest credit unions have free checking with no strings attached, and about half of them don’t even require a minimum balance. Their ATM fees are, on average, half of traditional bank fees and one-quarter of the large credit unions charge no ATM fees at all.

That means there’s no reason not to open a credit union account, even if it merely serves as a secondary checking account.

http://redtape.msnbc.com/2011/03/total-checking-value-checking-myaccess-checking-what-do-they-all-have-in-common-the-word-free-is-decidedly-missing-from-t.html?GT1=43001