Death Before Bankruptcy – No Way – Hope is on the Horizon

In today’s economic conditions death seem to be the only way out for many consumers who are consumed by over whelming debt. Although bankruptcies are up in filings for the third year since reforms went onto effect many consumers feel that their options seem hopeless yet they still plug on through the daily grind. For many alternatives such as the housing bailout seems like it’s to strict on its guidelines or to ambiguous in its terms to clearly point out the pitfalls and loopholes used to gain the upper hand in the situation by the mortgage lenders.

While we are in these turbulent and chaotic times we need to keep out wits up, our spirits high so we can see clearly through the stormy and uncharted waters of our financial status. For many it’s all or nothing, the fight seems hopeless will I ever survive? Lawyers go for blood and prey on those challenged in tough times. Are they really giving you the best advice for you or for them?

If you have ever had to seek counsel for filing a bankruptcy you know it’s a gut wrenching and sickened type of feeling. You know you’re in for a life long time of hurt and suffering. However if you’ve exhausted all of your options and you can’t take the pressure of your creditors calling and demanding terms you are unable to afford then you need to seek shelter.

Seeking shelter doesn’t mean go hide, change your address and telephone number it means legal protection for you as well as your sanity. Stop the annoying creditor phone calls; get the debt goons off of your back and regain your sanity back to a time when life was a bit easier and more joyous for you.

Although finding an attorney who is both ethical and sensible to your needs is often an oxymoron in the true sense of the meaning of the word they do exist. When in doubt seek them out. This is when having direct access to a professional organization of seasoned attorneys who are both smart and compassionate to your needs is essential.

We’re not suggesting you seek out a well known discounted legal firm or county legal aid for your personal or commercial situation, we’re merely suggesting you have access to a knowledgeable professionals so that if you don’t like the individual your dealing with you have a back up or two or even three.

Consultations are usually free and can be very informative, although some firms may have a hidden agenda to get your commitment on the dotted line; don’t sign anything until you get all of your facts answered and you feel that bankruptcy will have your best interests covered.

If you have not sought out financial counsel this may be up your alley instead. Remember a professional’s whole status depends on the not only the advice given but the business received. Having a selection of more than one professional can make the difference in your outcome financially as well as mentally.

Get the facts you deserve and never jump to a conclusion, instead rely on a trusted group of professionals dedicated to your overall success, not theirs. Remember no matter where you are today there will always be a brighter tomorrow. Learning the options, facts and different solutions for you are your responsibility. Seek out a close friend or family member even a co worker if you have this type of rapport with the individual; ask them about their experiences and pitfalls.

Ask them about personal triumphs then ask them what advice you might need when consulting with an attorney. Once you have scoured your inquisitiveness and come up with questions you are now armed to tackle the interview. You’re confident and sure about your needs and desires.

Learn the secrets of saving money, making money and creating wealth by maximizing protecting and growing your income. Receive trusted, unlimited advice from our financial counselors, attorneys, and financial mentors that will save you literally thousands of dollars and tons of frustration. You owe it to yourself to seek out qualified advice. Stop walking around in fear and get empowered. Maximize your wealth today.

The Difference of the Political Parties

When it comes to political parties you are going to find many citizens out there who have different beliefs. If you are looking to learn about political parties and see the difference of political parties then you have come to the right site. Within this article we will be discussing the different of the political parties.

You should know that around the world there are many different political parties. So many that it would take a lot of time to compare the difference of the political parties. What we are going to talk about are the parties that are the best known. These parties are the Democratic Party, Republican Part and the Communist Party. To start with we have the Democratic Party. The Democratic Part is know for being one out of the two well known political parties that can be found in the United States of America. The Democratic Party is known for being the oldest political party you will find in the United States of America and it is also amongst the oldest political parties in the world.

If you look into the Democratic Party origins you will find it traced to the Democratic-Republican Party. In the year 2004 the Democratic Party was known for being the biggest Republican Party because there was 72 million voters that claimed to be in the Democratic branch. The Democratic Party is also known to hold the most state governorships. This year in the 2008 election we have Senator Barack Obama running for the Democratic Party and he is from Illinois.

Next we have the Republican Party and this comes after the Democratic Party. This party is the second biggest political party to be found in the United States of America. The Republican Party is often called the Grand Old Party. The Republican Party was founded in the year 1854 by the individuals that were known as the anti-slavery expansion activists and also by the modernizers. The first Republican president is Abraham Lincoln. The current president is George W. Bush and he is known to be the 19th person from the Republican Party. As stated in the previous paragraph the next elections will be in 2008 and John McCain is running for the Republican Party and he is from Arizona. Currently there are 55 million members who are registered in the Republican Party.
Last we have the Communist Party. Currently there are hundreds of Communist Parties located throughout the world of all different sizes. Communist Parties are not found in the United States of America but there are found in five other countries. These countries include China, DPR Korea, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam. There is a slight difference between Republicans and Democrats but when it comes to the Communist Party there is a big difference because in the countries who promote communisim you will be told what to do and how to do it at all times. As we stated many individuals have different beliefs but really you should not let your beliefs come between one another.

Ian Pennington is an accomplished niche website developer and author.

To learn more about political parties, please visit Conservatives and Liberals for current articles and discussions.

Why the Right Hates Public Education

by Barbara Miner

In an article about education, it’s appropriate to start with a pop quiz. Today’s question: Republican strategists want to privatize education because:
a) Education is a multibillion dollar market, and the private sector is eager to get its hands on those dollars.
b) Conservatives are devoted to the free market and believe that private is inherently superior to public.
c) Shrinking public education furthers the Republican Party goal of drastically reducing the public sector.
d) Privatization undermines teacher unions, a key base of support for the Democratic Party.
e) Privatization rhetoric can be used to woo African American and Latino voters to the Republican Party.
f) All of the above.

OK, I admit it, the answer’s obvious: all of the above. But in the debates over education policy, the Republican political agenda (see d and e) is often invisible.

Occasionally, Republican strategists let the cat out of the bag and admit that vouchers–which divert public dollars to private schools–are about politics, not education.

Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform and one of the most influential Republican strategists in Washington, has long recognized the partisan value of vouchers, sometimes euphemistically referred to as “choice.” “School choice reaches right into the heart of the Democratic coalition and takes people out of it,” he said in a 1998 interview with Insight, the magazine of the conservative Washington Times.

Norquist and others see great political benefit in going after the teachers’ unions. During the last thirty years, as private sector unionism has declined, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) have grown in strength. Today, the 2.7 million-member NEA is the country’s largest union. The AFT has one million members, mostly in education but also in health care and the public sector.

While both teacher unions overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party, conservatives especially hate the NEA. It is larger, more geographically diverse, with members in every Congressional district in the country, and more likely to push a liberal agenda that includes social issues such as gay rights.

As the conservative Landmark Legal Foundation complained this fall, the NEA is “the nation’s largest, most powerful, and most political union.”

The teacher unions back up their support for the Democratic Party with money and grassroots organization. After all, public schools exist in every municipality and county in the nation. Unlike manufacturing, teaching cannot be outsourced to Mexico, China, or Bangladesh.

In mainstream publications, conservatives tend to muffle their partisan antagonism toward teacher unions. Not so in conservative publications and documents.

The issue comes down to “a matter of power,” said Terry Moe, a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution and co-author of the book Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools, in an interview with the Heartland Institute in Chicago this summer.

The NEA and AFT “have a lot of money for campaign contributions and for lobbying,” he said. “They also have a lot of electoral clout because they have many activists out in the trenches in every political district. . . . No other group can claim this kind of geographically uniform political activity. They are everywhere.”

School vouchers are a way to diminish that power. “School choice allows children and money to leave the system, and that means there will be fewer public teacher jobs, lower union membership, and lower dues,” Moe explains.

For those in the thick of the debate, it’s long been obvious that vouchers are an attack on teacher unions. Even Wisconsin State Representative Annette “Polly” Williams, an African American who helped start the Milwaukee voucher program, the country’s first, now admits as much. “The main motivation of some of the choice supporters was to weaken public education unions,” she wrote in a letter this summer to Governor Jim Doyle.

Eliminating public education may seem unAmerican. But a growing number of movement conservatives have signed a proclamation from the Alliance for the Separation of School and State that favors “ending government involvement in education.” Signatories include such Washington notables as David Boaz and Ed Crane of the Cato Institute; conservative author Dinesh D’Souza; Dean Clancy, who is an education policy analyst for House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert; and Howard Phillips, president of the Conservative Caucus.

Wisconsin State Representative Chris Sinicki, who was a Milwaukee School Board member when vouchers began in Milwaukee in 1990, says there is no doubt that vouchers “are a Republican strategy to take down public education and the unions. This is partisan politics, completely.”

Which brings us back to our pop quiz and, in particular, to Answer e: Privatization rhetoric can be used to woo African American and Latino voters to the Republican Party.

In the 2000 Presidential election, Bush garnered only 8 percent of the African American vote and about 35 percent of the Latino vote. (Overall, less than 10 percent of Bush’s votes came from minorities.) The following year, Republican strategist Matthew Dowd outlined a plan to boost African American support to 13-15 percent and Latino support to 38-40 percent for the 2004 election.

While universal vouchers remain the goal, for tactical reasons conservatives have wrapped vouchers in the mantle of concern for poor African Americans and Latinos. Indeed, voucher supporters are fond of calling school choice the new civil rights movement. This plays well not only with voters of color but also with liberal suburban whites who, while they may be leery of allowing significant numbers of minorities into their schools, nonetheless support the concept of equal rights for all.

Conservatives and their front groups in the African American and Latino communities have not been shy about comparing voucher opponents to Southern segregationists. During the Congressional push for vouchers in Washington, D.C., this fall, groups such as D.C. Parents for School Choice launched a particularly vicious campaign against prominent Democrats. “Forty years ago, politicians like George Wallace stood in the doors of good schools trying to prevent poor black children from getting in,” one ad said, comparing voucher opponents like Senator Edward Kennedy to Wallace.

Virginia Walden-Ford, executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, was vague in explaining to the Washington community newspaper The Common Denominator how her group financed the ads. She did admit that over the years her group had received money from the Bradley Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and Children First America–all prominent conservative organizations supporting vouchers. The Institute for Justice, a libertarian legal group, provided media support. So did Audrey Mullen, a signer of the Separation of School and State proclamation.

Even if Republicans fail to woo African Americans and Latinos to the Republican Party, they may dampen African American and Latino voter turnout–a neutralization strategy, as it were.

“The strategy is to get young black people not to vote,” says Michael Charney, editor of The Critique, the newspaper of the teachers’ union in Cleveland, which also has a voucher program. “These radio commercials are aimed at the hip-hop generation. The goal is to discredit Democrats and breed cynicism.”

The commercials, he continues, “are part of a conscious strategy by the most advanced elements in the electoral Republican machine. It’s smart from their view, even if it is disgusting.”

David Sheridan, an analyst for the NEA, agrees it will be tough for the Republicans to win over African American voters. “But I think it’s different with the Hispanic audience,” he says. “I think they see this as a major effort to get more Hispanic voters into the Republican camp.”

The Republican emphasis on vouchers runs the risk of alienating moderate Republicans who support public education. Such support is strong not only in rural areas where public schools are a vital part of the community and private schools are few, but also in suburban communities with strong, well-funded public schools.

Senator Norm Coleman, Republican of Minnesota, cautions his Republican colleagues that they shouldn’t even use the word “vouchers,” which he refers to as “the deadly V-word.”

“In my state, it’s a pretty divisive word,” he warned them in a speech on the Senate floor this fall.

But that won’t stop conservatives like Norquist, who view vouchers as a key ingredient in their effort to “downsize” government services. “The problem is that the federal government hands out billions of dollars, and people will lie, cheat, steal, or bribe to get it,” Norquist said in an interview with Reasononline, the website of the libertarian Reason Foundation. “If you have a big cake, and you put it under the sink and then you wonder why the cockroaches are in your kitchen, I don’t think any sprays or blocking the holes in the walls are going to get rid of the cockroaches. You’ve got to throw the cake in the trash so that the cockroaches don’t have something to come for.”

The American people do not view public schoolteachers and students as cockroaches. The overwhelming majority strongly support public schools. They don’t want them dismantled; they just want them to work better.

The attack by Norquist and his ilk is nothing less than a highly partisan attempt to undermine teacher unions and the Democratic Party, destroying our American tradition of public education in the process.

— Barbara Miner is a Milwaukee-based journalist specializing in education. via

Gas Prices Are Not High Enough and You Heard Me Right

As I set here typing this up I have just finished listening to a cable news discussion of our present oil crisis resulting in high gas prices. I have also looked at the latest political polls that have come out for this year’s presidential election showing Obama still holding the lead he has held onto for weeks now. When one looks at the state by state breakdown in what is called the battle ground states it is obvious that Mr. Obama has good reason to believe he will be President in just a few short months.

It is said the economy is the number one issue this year. This I do not understand. How do you say the economy is the number one issue this year and yet vote for Obama which every poll says is presently the publics choice? Please explain.

Gas prices are for me one of the biggest issues as it is an expense that has me trapped for it is a commodity I must have living where I do. Mr. Obama and his party have no plans whatsoever to drill for a single drop of oil anywhere. Yet, I am hearing we have all kinds of oil comparable to Saudi Arabia if we would be willing to drill for it. And, I am hearing that we can get it within 5 years, at least a substantial amount of it.

However, Mr. Obama seems to want to save it for a rainy day as it is not yet raining where he lives. Where I live it is pouring but I guess weather is like that. But, I am sure I am about alone as the American public is saying he is our man and the Democratic Party is our party. Nancy Pelosi will not allow a House vote for offshore drilling and people seem to be fine with that.

I am just stupid I guess or maybe just confused (I can hope can’t I?). I had always heard that the Democratic Party was the party of the poor and the working man and that the Republicans were the party of big business and the wealthy. Yet, it seems to me, and what do I know, that those candidates and that party that will allow oil drilling is more in my economic interest as a poor man than those of the Democratic Party that are suppose to be the Saviors of the poor. I wish I was as smart as the average American who has this figured out – that is how voting for a man who will not drill for oil is what is really best for me and the rest of the poor.

I think maybe I have at least a hint as how that can be – maybe. It could be it is all George Bush’s fault. Use to be if we would get a cold around our house we would say it was George Bush’s fault for we were always hearing everything was and who were we to argue with the consensus?

The more I think about it the more it seems this may be the answer. George Bush will not allow Nancy Pelosi to bring this oil drilling bill (opening up the off shore for drilling) before the House. It is his fault. Yeah, I heard him laying it all on her but then we have heard for years he was a liar. So, could be he is lying about it and if we were to know the truth he is really keeping her from opening the House for a vote.

In any case it is evident I am on the losing side and most Americans feel gas prices are not high enough and that what we need is a man in office who will promise to not drill for a drop and who will find a way to make our cars run on wind or something else. I heard one guy say maybe we could put sails on top our cars. I never did like storms but this may be the answer – a sail on top and a windstorm.

I don’t think the solar will work on my car because it is hot as fire inside with the windows rolled up this summer but so far I have had no luck with this solar energy turning the motor over. That electricity thing might work if I could get an extension cord long enough to get to where I want to go.

I think the worse thing for me, if Obama wins the Presidency, is I may have to get a mule but that is not the best way to travel when it is 30 some miles to the nearest town of any size. Oh, the thought just dawned on me as I typed that last sentence, I bet it is those wicked city women who do not have to drive far that is behind this Obama for President thing (if it is not George). (Tennessee Ernie Ford on “I Love Lucy”.) I did hear, believe it or not, they find him more attractive than McCain. I don’t know how you can dress McCain up enough to make him attractive to women, no slam intended.

But, I probably will be made a stronger man by a little suffering (call it poverty). Thanks ladies. I need that. We men need a good beating now and then. Need a ride to go vote this fall? Maybe you can fuel up your car to get there with a little green energy or catch a ride on one of those ANWAR caribou. Good luck. Donations are appreciated out here in the country.

P.S. You might comment and enlighten me as I can use all the help understanding that I can get. Denny Smith

Someone Stole My Country

I recently was sitting in the Atlanta International Airport with a (2) hour lay-over. I had some time to just think and look back on my own life. I had read the newspaper and was tired of surfing the net, when a couple of our “warriors” passed by and sat down a few rows away from me.

This kind of choked me up to the point that I think I had a tear in my eyes. Theses “warriors” in their fatigue uniforms looked like “little boys”. Hell, half of them didn’t even have to shave. But, the look in their eyes told a story and that prompted me to sit down and put my thoughts on paper.

Here was the “little boy” from next door that you never thought was a “trained” specialist in warfare, walked into dark unknown buildings, knowing that the enemy was just waiting for him so he could “kill” him in the name of some “kockamaney” idea of being brainwashed into “killing all Christians”.

This little guy from down the street went to Iraq or Afghanistan or Somalia or wherever he was sent to give all of those displaying “hate, fear and terror” the opportunity to do that without fear of any reprisal. What a country. This young “warrior” also gave the twisted minds of the media a chance to sell space by sensationalizing views of what they think sells print and NOT giving the American people the real story.

I asked one of these kids, “What are we doing over there to make those folks like Americans”? The answer was not what I expected, nor would I read it in the New York Times or any other bottom line media enterprise. The answer was this. “Those people in Iraq want America to succeed, because they want their children to be able to go to America”. Put that in your pipe you “mis-informed journalists, politicians, bureaucrats and any other idiot” trying to hypnotize, US, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

Since America declared its independence this country has always been the “hope of the world” as a place to provide the dream. Things have not changed from over (200) years ago. America’s young men and women have always answered the call to defend our liberties all over the world and the pride that we all have in our hearts for today’s hero’s is no less as fierce as that which was evident during both world wars.

Now, lets look at reality. Here we are a land of sincere, hard working honest and God fearing people. I read on the Internet about the words “etched in concrete” THAT are embedded into the entrance into our supreme court. “In God We Trust” and there is also an image of “Moses with the ten commandments”.

I also read about a message that sits on top of the Lincoln Memorial that talks about our founding as a land based on Christian Ideals. None of the activists can scale the Memorial to deface the message and I would venture to say, none of them even know about the contents.

Latest surveys show that over 87% of the American people want the flag displayed in schools and at all public events. The survey also emphasized that “In God We Trust” MUST remain on our currency. Hell, no one can trust the “fun house” in Washington. We all know the secret to winning an election. Just surround yourself with enough losers and you become a winner. Tell them what they want to hear, tell them what you told them and finally tell them what you want to tell them. “Paralysis from analysis”.

So, with those numbers, IF I WERE PRESIDENT, I would follow the lead of the folks in Australia. They simply told EVERYONE, English is our spoken language, you are free to enjoy our country. BUT, if there is anything that you don’t like or cannot learn our language, you are FREE TO LEAVE.

IF I WERE PRESIDENT, I would let ALL of the media know, without restricting the “freedom of speech” that “behind the scenes” advertising dollars from big corporations that enjoy the “coziness” that they have with both the Democrats and Republicans will be scrutinized unless they direct some of their dollars to those media outlets that “let the American People” know the truth.

Call it “arm twisting, extortion” or whatever. But the “monkey house” in Washington has been “twisting arms” for hundreds of years. What else is different? I would also bring the leaders of our educational institutions into one big “backyard barbecue” and let them know that their “alumni dollars’ would be VERY highly scrutinized by the IRS as that tool has been used appropriately in the past to acquire results.

Now, for those activists that seem to crawl out of the cracks like “cockroaches” with their message of “hate America” I would, as your President arrange for an all expense paid trip to the vacation spot of their choice. To, the land of “no free speech” and a chance to “enlist” into the army of hate that they so willingly want to support.

If, I could, I would restore the MANDATORY taking off of your hat (males) at all public events. I would make it a law that when the national anthem is played, EVERYONE either salutes the flag or places their hand across their heart, just as our warriors do every morning and every night living thousands of miles from the comfort of their home. Everyone would have to stand during the playing of our national anthem. The only ones that cold sit would be “old folks” and “disabled veterans”. Hell, most of them that I know would stand out of “patriotism”.

Now for this religious extremism that is “rampant” because it is very easy under our constitution to express “freedom of speech”. My old accountant once said ” If someone wants to make an ass out of themselves, DON”T stop them.”

As our youngsters are taught the “real history” of our country, the pledge is restored into our schools and the national anthem resounds through ALL the halls of public gatherings then and ONLY then will sensibility survive. No longer will the media feast on “negatism” but by DEMAND have to report on the emergence of national pride.

Yes, someone STOLE MY COUNTRY, and I want it back. I don’t care how many people don’t like my country, I just want those that love it to stand up and let the world know “what a wonderful country the USA is”.

Respectfully, Regis Sauger

Regis Sauger is a licensed Mortgage Broker in Florida, an author, lecturer on credit awareness. He has conducted seminars for underwriters, attorneys, mortgage lenders, realtors and the general public. http://www.foreclosurewatchdogs.com/

The Top 10 Most Wanted Toys For Christmas 2008

Christmas is coming faster than you think!

Each year the same thing happens to millions of parents, when they have to tell their little one that “Santa didn’t have time to deliver this year”. Instead of running around like a headless chicken trying to find that special toy during the Christmas rat race, why not shop early and take a look at some of the most in-demand toys for Christmas 2008.

Basically there are 10 toys that are going to be hard to find by the time Christmas comes, so shop early for the best selection of Christmas gifts in 2008.

Toy Number 1

The Nintendo Wii

Nintendo’s Wii video game system (pronounced “we”) is designed to attract people, regardless of their age or video game experience, to sit down and play together–whether they’re in the same room or on different sides of the globe. The system’s name reflects this simple idea. It’s easily pronounced in a variety of languages, and the distinctive spelling suggests two players side by side. The two Wii features Nintendo thinks will create new levels of gaming community are built-in Wi-Fi access, supported by a new online gaming service, and Wii’s intuitive, wireless, motion-sensitive game controller.

Toy Number 2

The Wii Fit

Wii Fit is designed to be enjoyed by the whole family. In Japan it has been encouraging family members as a whole to discuss the topic of fitness and take an active interest in understanding their own fitness in a fun and entertaining way, all in the comfort of their own home.
Wii Fit comes bundled with the Wii Balance Board, an accessory developed exclusively for the Wii console that will have a far-reaching impact for all who use it. It’s innovative, exciting and most of all fun and simple for all to use. It is a pressure sensitive, wireless balance board that goes on the floor – so someone can stand on it in front of the TV. It senses weight and shift in balance in any direction and therefore by standing on the Wii Balance Board during activities allows players to follow along to movements ensuring they have full control of the on-screen activities. This allows personal improvement goals to be set to effectively help you and your family to train and stay fit.

Toy Number 3

The Nintendo DS

Sleek black and white may have been the must-have look this summer, but now it’s all about pink as the hugely successful Nintendo DS Lite turns pink. Nintendo’s latest console includes all the existing features of the Nintendo DS, yet includes a variety of distinctive changes which truly sets it apart from other handheld consoles. Nintendo DS Lite retains the advanced touch screen technology, allowing players to control the software with a stylus or even their finger, as well as dual screens, voice recognition and Wi-Fi capabilities of the Nintendo DS but is now both smaller and lighter. Weighing nearly 60g less than the original, it is just two thirds of the original size. The redesign isn’t only cosmetic though, the Nintendo DS Lite features adjustable screen brightness with four settings, a repositioned microphone for ease of use and a larger and more comfortable stylus. With its new design and unique features, this console is perfect for everyone regardless of age, gender and gaming skills.

Toy Number 4

Sony Playstation 3

The PS3 features IBM’s “Cell” processor and a co-developed Nvidia graphics processor that makes the system able to perform two trillion calculations per second. That makes the PlayStation 3 40 times faster than the PS2. Along with the traditional AV and composite connections, it also boasts an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port, which delivers uncompressed, unconverted digital picture and sound to compatible high-definition TV and projectors. The system is capable of 128-bit pixel precision and 1080p resolution for a full HD experience. This console also provides for a sound experience by supporting Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, as well as Linear PCM 7.1. A pre-installed 40 GB hard disc drive allows you to save games as well as download content from the internet. Unlike the other models of the PlayStation 3, the 40GB does not offer backwards compatibility.

Toy Number 5

Xbox 360

In comparison to the Darth Vader inspired design of the original Xbox, the Xbox 360 a thing of (near) wondrous beauty.

In addition to playing games and movies, the Xbox 360 can stream music and video from a wide variety of electronic devices, including iPods and the Sony PSP.

Toy Number 6

Sony PSP

All other portable consoles seem like chess to this. what is the point of making them. The PSP slim and lite has out classed the original and out classed all other portable devices. You can even get satnavs now for PSP! FANTASTIC!!!

Toy Number 7

Lego Mind Storm

Build-your-own Star Wars droids with the Droid Developer Kit. If you have ever wanted your own R2D2, now’s your chance. With a little time and patience you can create a droid that can be programmed to do what you want it to.
At the heart of the Droid Developer Kit is a small, intelligent brain called the Micro Scout. This minute computer can react to light, has a motor to bring movement and has seven pre-programmed routines as well as a programmable option via your PC. If R2D2 is not your ideal choice of robot then you can build one of the two other droids in the pack: L-3GO Training Droid or the Jedi Knight Droid.

Toy Number 8

Silverlit PicooZ Twin Blade 3 Channel Helicopter

Be warned. This is no ordinary radio controlled helicopter. This is the TandemZ. A full three channel, auto stable system with twin propellers and an advanced multi-role set-up that requires skill, brains and determination to master. In appearance, the TandemZ closely resembles the iconic Sea Knight Helicopter, a vehicle famed for its assault transportation of combat troops and its ability to land on aircraft carriers. The twin propeller system is a striking feature of this unique style of helicopter, and providing greater stability, greater control and added power when airborne. With the TandemZ being a full 3 channel radio controlled unit, users are able to control the flight altitude, forwards and backwards movement and the direction of flight. Easier said than done. The handheld control unit (which doubles as the charging base for the TandemZ) is more complex than the standard R/C chopper, incorporating controls for Yaw trimming (direction), Pitch trimming (hovering angle), Throttle (altitude), Direction (forward/backward movement) and an additional headlight switch for flying in the dark. With guidance from the instruction booklet and a little practice, users will quickly appreciate the added control that the TandemZ offers and once mastered, can attempt more challenging stunts than ever before.

Toy Number 9

Speed Racer & Snake Oiler

Chase the robbers in the air and catch them at sea. This police seaplane is perfect for difficult police missions. Open the side door, take your seat, spin propellers and get ready for takeoff! Total wing span 40 cm/ 15.7 inches. Includes one police pilot.

And Finally – Toy Number 10

Original Rubix Cube

One of the most famous toys in history, Rubik’s Cube is the incredibly addictive, multi-dimensional challenge that has fascinated fans since it arrived in 1980. Over “43 Quintillion” (that’s 43 with 18 zeros to you and me) moves are possible with this original 3×3 Cube, but there is only one solution! A must for puzzle lovers, the aim is to twist and turn the Rubik’s Cube to return it to its original state, with every side having one solid colour. For those who struggle to master this challenge – or simply lack the patience – the enclosed guide provides the simplest ever 7-step Rubik’s Cube solution and introduces a number of other fantastic games to play. So, whether you’re into simple siding or prefer a spot of classic cubing, hours of challenging fun lie ahead.

Darius Diamond specializes in writing video gaming, DVD & entertainment reviews, free tips guides and more.

To view a large selection of games, consoles and DVDs at great prices visit :

http://astore.amazon.co.uk/toys-and-games-superstore-21

Benefits of National Holidays

National Independence holidays are a part of the makeup of almost every country. Some countries have more and other have fewer of these special days on their calendar, but most countries have at least one of these special holidays. Taiwanese celebrate their independence day on 10/10. July 4 is one of the highlights on the USA calendar. The Brits celebrate the Queen’s birthday. In Panama the citizens of this small country are not happy with celebrating only one Independence-day.

During my stay in the country I discovered they have three separate Independence-day festivals on different days in November. Some people may argue that these holidays are a bore as they have lost their original meaning, and now are a waste of time and money. The protesters would argue that in the current economic climate traders cannot afford the loss of a full day’s revenue. In Panama at least, the lost trade is countered by the numerous much greater advantages attached to celebrating a national holiday.

The celebration of the major national independence-day festival in Panama City in November does not occur without due preparation. At least two weeks before the actual ‘Day’ most public city buildings suddenly fly the national colors. Banners and rosettes in red, blue and white flutter in the breeze winking at passers-by like huge bright eyes. Storefront windows display magnificent day and evening dresses side by side in the three national colors. And, as if by prior arrangement, vehicles start sporting miniature pennants, often one on either side of the car or truck. Fast food vendors’ tricycles become even more noticeable with the added blue, red and white flags brightening the big yellow plastic buckets containing their spicy rolls and pastries. This general upsurge of patriotism is not confined to public places of business and trade. Flags of varying sizes draped on balconies of apartments and other visible areas in private homes declare to the world that a loyal Panamanian family or perhaps only a single individual lives there.

On Sunday afternoon before the start of the festival week in Panama City a full dress rehearsal of parades takes place on one of the main streets of the city. Large crowds of enthusiastic spectators cheer a seemingly unending flow of bands. Some are led by drum majorettes, others, only by baton swinging band leaders marching down the street. Every band tries to outshine the rest as they march past a number of perspiring local VIPs under a red and white striped canopy. These guests of honor sit behind a table laden with shiny trophies. Their task is to judge participants on performance and dress and award prizes to the best performers afterwards.

Throughout the long merry afternoon onlookers show their support to family and friends spontaneously in many ways. Sometimes a spectator joins the band as an extra member on the edge of the road, walking in pace with them for a couple of yards. Or a member of the colorful crowd darts out on the street to offer a soda or a wet sponge to a relative marching past under the blazing sun. Or, a well wisher shouts a few words of encouragement to perspiring individuals who look drained by the heat and exertion of the long march. Sometimes someone hurriedly kicks away an empty carton or soda-can that may block the way of the marchers on the street.

On the sidewalk carefree toddlers who are sitting very securely on their fathers’ shoulders tower above other umbrella holding onlookers. They wave half empty soda cans or tiny flags trying to catch the eye of a familiar band member. Mothers and other equally proud relatives loudly hail or wave at their favorite persons in the band. And sandwiched in between the densely packed masses strollers, with their light loads soundly asleep, fill every available empty spot. If the little ones clamor for attention they’re hurriedly pacified with a drink or a pat by an adult or older sibling. No one wants to lose track of the barrage of sound and ever moving spectacle on the wide street in front of them.

The actual celebration lasts two days. Scores of brass bands, school bands and private and public organizations participate in parades. The Panama sky may more often than not be a monotonous gray, but life on the city streets usually vibrates with smells, sound and color. At no other time is this liveliness more evident than during the independence festival week. Supporters loudly cheer their favorite band waving their special banner when they come in sight down the main road especially when dancers in colorful sugar fairy national dress form part of a particular procession. Locals and international visitors from neighboring Central American and other more distant countries mingle freely in the crowded public spaces. And all add enthusiastically to the cacophony without giving a second thought to who’s pressing against whom.

Rich and poor are united in pursuit of pleasure and free entertainment. Nobody seems to mind being jostled and sometimes stepped on in spectators’ single-minded urge to move forward a fraction of a meter in order to have a better view of the colorful visual and musical spectacle in front of them. Thousands of citizens line the main streets ten deep to watch and cheer and share in their compatriots’ repeated musical performances. The merging of clanging cymbals, energetic thumping on drums interspersed with the finer lighter piping of clarinets and melodious tunes of xylophones fills the air. Trumpeters blaring at full blast often herald the procession.

A lot of trading goes on amidst all this medley of color and sound. Informal entrepreneurs brave the throng of people to carry on brisk trade. The piercing sounds of vendors’ rubber balloon hooters trill at every street corner and open space between store fronts and entrances. The sellers weave in and out among the jostling pressing, noisy masses. Some are on bicycles with long festoons of miniature flags sticking out above the heads of people on the sidewalks. Others carry heavy trays filled with handmade trinkets from the countryside or cheap Chinese manufactured mementos. These trays overflow with shiny yellow miniature trumpets, pennants, fake brand name watches, sunglasses and strings of multi-colored bead necklaces and bracelets. The best customers are the scores of children who wish to blow their shiny toy trumpet or fly their own pennant.

People also have to eat and drink at a festival. The colorful canopies of fast food vendors’ three-wheelers proudly displaying their country’s colors therefore are a welcome sight. Strong flavors of fried sausage and roast meat carried by the light wind tempt prospective customers to flock to the carts. Hungry compatriots fight for the best spots to give the sizzling delicacies a closer look before parting with their small change. Those with different preferences sample spicy hot-dogs, tamales, rolls and pies. An inviting selection of soft drinks and ice creams revives the weary ones who crave something sweet to get new energy to enjoy another spate of drum beats.

After two days of incessant drumming, dancing and parading it seems as if a cloud of silence blankets the weary city. People are exhausted but happy. They were energized by a rush of patriotism which transformed divergent masses into a nation. People from all walks of life could be part of the celebrations at no cost. The less privileged were able to escape the drudge of their daily lives while being entertained by their own people for free. And more privileged citizens, who wanted to escape the crush, could spend time with family and friends in the quiet countryside. Pennants also waved on many of the outward bound vehicles.

As I was standing on the fringes of the colorful assortment of people I thought about the benefits of celebrating national independence days. It may be inconvenient to find some stores and banks closed for two weekdays in a row. But these special days bring home the truth that success should not always be measured in terms of perfect professional performance, or reckoned in multi-million dollar profits.

Often the reward lies in the satisfaction of unemployed persons who could earn a few dollars to provide for their family, or the joy of a school boy or girl having been able to show their musical talents as a member of a group making their parents proud. These special days also give families a chance to share quality time together. And, last but not least, these national holidays provide citizens a chance to show their pride in their country. (1431 words)

monica.vanh@gmail.com

Our Health Care System – An Insider’s View

Upon completing college back in the early 1970s, I worked for a large department store in NY in the accounting office. Working full time, naturally, I was afforded a company group insurance policy which included health benefits, along with dental, and life insurance. At that time there were no HMOs, nor were there any physicians that did not accept any legitimate health insurance plan. During my childhood, my parents always maintained insurance coverage on both me and my sister through Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NY. The insurance offered by my employer was also through Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NY. It was touted to be the best health insurance plan around at that time, and cost me personally nothing to enroll. The employer paid the entire premium in my behalf, and although it did have a yearly deductible, and then paid 80% up to a specified amount before paying 100%, being relatively healthy it posed no real economic hardship on me, and I was easily able to cover my deductible, and small out of pocket costs for any tests or prescriptions I may have needed.

It wasn’t until I relocated to southern California in the mid 1970s, that for the first time, I realized just how much our country needed to revamp its health care system. Perhaps revamp is a poor term for what I observed initially, but eventually it would become a very well suited term for what would be needed. Of course today what is needed is a complete overhaul of our health care system, and a program that will allow everyone affordable and good quality health care. However, intiially, the programs in place were very good, and very affordable to those who worked full time. There obviously weren’t as many small businesses out there, and even the ones that were, could at least afford some type of health care coverage for their families. While I was living in southern California I met and married a young woman who had been afflicted with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy, and was on Social Security Disability and State Supplemental Income. In addition she had Medicare and Medi-Cal to help pay for her medical fees and services which she desperately needed to keep her alive, and functioning.

Even back then, it took almost an act of Congress to qualify for those programs, and you had to have a redetermination every two years to see if your conditions had improved. Every two years my wife was subjected to an independent medical exam with a Medicare approved physician who reviewed all her medical records for the previous two years, and examined her, and then reported his or her findings to the Social Security Administration for review with his or her recommendations. Although my wife’s condition was only getting worse, and other than short periods of remission where her disease was in check, she was basically declining, and it was obvious it should would never be cured, still she would continue to be subjected to these exams every two years until her death in 1988. In was during this period of time that I personally became involved in the health care field, and saw first hand just how insurance companies worked, at least when it came to health care.

In 1981, I obtained a position at a very well known Hospital and Health Care center in southern California. My job was that of a Patient Financial Counselor, which entailed the discussion with patients and/or their families either prior to admission, during admission or at discharge, in order to work out arrangements for payment of the unpaid portion of their hospital bills. In most cases the balance owing was anywhere from a few hundred dollars to couple of thousand dollars depending upon the procedure done and the amount of time actually spent in the hospital. If the patient was covered by a good private insurance carrier, it was usually only a few hundred dollars. In the case where they were covered by Medicare of Medi-Cal, they ofter owed nothing. If they were indigent, and had no insurance at all, we had a social worker on staff who would attempt to get them on some form of emergency medical assistance to help pay their debt in full. However, that would soon all change with the cut backs in Medicare, and other social programs during the course of the Regan Administration. By the mid to late 1980s, insurance carriers were demanding second opinions on certain procedures, and PPOs and HMOs began to spring up all over the country. It was the beginning of managed health care, which has its own pros and cons. The biggest advantage to the employers who provided these programs to their employees of course was the costs. Costs for PPOs and HMOs were much less expensive than the traditional health care plans, and saved the employer thousands of dollars per year in costs. It was the biggest selling point for them, but left many employees with less than adequate coverage.

If an employer for example opted for an HMO plan, the employees found themselves in many cases looking for a new doctor as their doctor wasn’t a part of the HMO plan. At least with the ones who lucked out with a PPO plan could still see their own doctors of choice. The insurance just didn’t pay as much as they would if the physician was enrolled in their plans. With the HMOs, you had to sign up for a primary care physician who had to be a participating physician in their plans, or they would not pay the doctor’s fees. In addition if you had to see a specialist, your primary care physician had to get an authorization from the insurance carrier for that visit. The same held true for many procedures you may need to have, and again it was up to the primary care physician to get prior authorization, or the patient was stuck with paying the entire bill. It was during this period that medical groups or clinics began to spring up all over the country, owned and operated by the HMOs. It was their attempt to control health care costs, and manage health care for its patients. Since the inception of HMOs there have been all types of lawsuits filed against the HMOs for wrongful deaths and for lack of necessary treatment for their patients, but still they are going strong.

The question I pose is, when does good health care offset the costs? If a doctor deems it necessary for a patient to undergo a long medical treatment plan to help save their lives, or to give them a better quality of life, costs should be of secondary concern, and the patient’s well being should be placed first. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Yes, I agree that there are people who abuse the system, and run to the nearest emergency room for every little ache and pain when they are covered by a public medical program such as Medicare and Medicaid, but what about the ones who truly do have a need for emergency services, and often have to wait hours to be seen because the emergency room is filled with non emergent cases simply because they know they cannot be turned away just because they have no insurance or public insurance programs. The publicly funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid need to start to review these non emergent cases, and refuse to pay for those services making the patient liable for any and all costs incurred for those visits.

In the 1990s, during the Clinton administration there was a push on for a complete overhaul of the health care system in this country. The concept behind the idea was to find a feasible way to offer affordable, good quality health care to all Americans, not just those who could easily afford it, or those who were already on publicly funded programs such as Medicare or Medicaid. Additionally, there was a proposal that would allow the insurance companies to receive government subsidies to offset the costs of insuring those who were considered to be high risk, or chronic patients. Several models were investigated, and in an effort to destroy any hope of resolving this issue, lobbyists and special interest groups claimed that it would be a form of socialized medicine and costs taxpayers billions of dollars, and would not necessarily offer better quality health care. In the end the only positive thing that came out of the whole deboggle, was guaranteed health care for children, and the allowing of either parent to take time off from work after a child’s birth without fear of losing their job or seniority. Even the bill which affords health care for children needs additional funding and has been lacking due to political pressure and budget restraints over the past several years.

In recent years we have been so concerned about fighting terrorism around the world, and our military and political efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan at the cost of billions of dollars, that the overhaul and reconstruction of America’s health care system has been put on the back burner. Even with a Democratically controlled Congress, the health care system has not gained any further support, nor has it been placed on anyone’s priority list. Only in recent months with the primary elections has the question of providing affordable health care for all Americans once again resurfaced and been placed on the candidates priority lists. There is no question in this author’s mind that something has to be done to protect Americans from the high costs of health care, and the ability to receive good quality health care services no matter what the persons financial situation. I am not proposing a socialized medical system, nor am I in favor of allowing non citizens to have free participation in any such system devised. However, for those hard working Americans who hold down jobs and pay their taxes, and especially those with families, need some type of guarantee, that they can obtain good quality health care when they need it, and at an affordable price.

No one wants to see people dying or not enjoying a good quality of life just simply because they cannot afford to see a physician when they really need to, or afford their medication that keeps them alive or in good health. However, we cannot afford to keep going the way we are just because we are a free enterprise system and allow for competition between businesses. While the health care industry is a business, just as with public utilities, the government does put controls on prices and price increases, and perhaps a similar program with the health care industry would work the same way. I just have a hard time swallowing the fact that we have billions of tax dollars to spend overseas on wars we can’t win, or have no reason to be involved in, other than the stuffing of someone’s pocket, yet we cannot provide affordable quality health care for our own citizens here at home. While this may be just my opinion, I think that there are many Americans out there who feel the same way, but believe that we are in the minority, and that no one in Washington, is really listening to us. Perhaps this next national election will show the bureaucrats in Washington that this is not the case, and really send a message to our political leaders that it is time for a real change.
Mark Sacks

Election 2008 Media Coverage Is Quite Peculiar

For the last several months the presidential election coverage has been like a meal at a neighborhood restaurant – a main course of Barack Obama with a side order of Hillary Clinton and just a touch of John McCain for seasoning.

It seems that Obama’s face is plastered everywhere, Clinton’s message pops up a little less often and McCain’s presence has all but been forgotten.

When I speculate as to why the coverage is playing out as it is, I’d have to say McCain has been placed on the back burner a bit primarily because the Republican race is simply not “sexy” enough. McCain has the nomination wrapped up and visually represents what the presidency has looked like forever, not really exciting when it comes to selling papers and getting ratings.

On the other hand, the Obama/Clinton thing is practically orgasmic. Neither candidate is in clear control and being part African American and a woman respectively, both are something different to talk about.

The funny thing is, absolutely none of this has anything to do with qualifications.

Ultimately, the brutal battle of mud slinging between the two Democrats vying for their party’s nod could work on of two ways.

1. Either Barack of Hillary will get so much play in the media that they will have a sizable advantage over McCain going into the general election.

2. McCain will save his funding for when it counts, fly under the radar and make a strong move once all the dirt has been brought out on the winner of the Democratic nomination.

So, either this will bring more attention to the eventually victor between Obama and Clinton, or it will lead to a certain level of disgust with the Democratic candidate and a victory by McCain.

Of course, this all remains to be seen. And, at the very least, it should be interesting.

Jason Greiner

Politics And The Economy

The most crucial question in the minds of many Americans and people around the world today is: Who will be the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States this election year? Will it be Illinois Senator Obama, or will it be New York Senator and former First Lady Clinton? Whosoever it is, history is about to be made as Americans are gearing up to elect either the first woman President, or the first African American President of the United States of America.

Let there be no misunderstanding, the Democratic ticket will be Obama-Clinton, or Clinton-Obama. The Democratic Political Strategists would be silly and simply idiotic not to have this ticket to defeat the smooth, seasoned and polished Senator John McCain this November. Let us hope that these two Candidates (Obama-Clinton) will put their egos, self interests or personal aggrandizement aside and embrace what seemed to be a well needed shift in the political culture and socialization in the United States. The mandate of the people has spoken across this Nation. There is no doubt that the American people are ready to embrace change. What is most noble of our democracy is the fact that America’s laws and its people are an evolutionary process and one that is base on necessity. We are always trying to be better. What a country! With a Constitution just over 200 years old, the American people have demonstrated that the color of a man’s skin or one’s gender is of no more significance. What a breath of fresh air to see this young and brilliant African American and woman running for the White House. However, the question still remains, will it happen?

Let us not get carried away by celebrating any victory for the Democrats too fast. We still have those closet racists who still believe in this 21st Century that one’s pigmentation is a factor. How they will vote, we do not know. Then again, we have the black pessimists who still utter words like: “America is not ready for a black President.” How silly. We have the Hispanics who can be very unpredictable. We have the older voters who are set in their ways and generally make up the majority of our voting population. However, with a surge of young voters, will it make a difference in November? Can Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama pull it off this fall?

One thing for sure, the American people are galvanized by this shaky economy, anti war sentiments in Iraq, lack of healthcare, high gas prices at the pump, etc. People are losing their homes and jobs across this Nation in the millions. Those that seek the American dream through diligence are fed up and lost faith in their government. We have seen our noble Veterans begging in the streets and middle class jobs outsourced overseas. It is time to take care of the American people. Let us take care of home first then help where we can in the world after. We cannot afford to boast in our arrogance that we are the greatest Nation on the planet, yet we cannot provide basic healthcare and decent jobs to our citizens. We cannot afford to cast a blind eye to the world however. Let me remind those with short term memories what took place in Germany many years ago. We turned a blind eye to some disgruntled and ignorant folks in Germany at that time called the Brown Shirts. They became a formidable force known as the Nazis under Adolph Hitler that led to the destruction of over 5 million of our Jewish brothers and sisters lives. So while we should take care of America first, we must keep an eye on the world so that something as horrible as this will not repeat itself anywhere again on this planet.

As for Senator John McCain, the Republican Nominee for President of the United States, his service to this Great Republic is first class, invaluable and second to none. I applaud him wholeheartedly for his service to this Nation. I admire his impeccable character and the fact that he is not the conventional politician. He is a “straight shooter.” Senator McCain will say the same thing to people in 10 different rooms. You can rest assured that what he says in Room number 1 will be consistent throughout Room number 10. I like that about him. No one can ever question the veracity of Senator McCain’s words. Undoubtedly, he is the best qualified for Commander in Chief. However, timing might be a factor for this great American Hero. Senator McCain will have to unequivocally convince the American people that he will revitalize the economy, provide healthcare, deal with this immigration issue, create jobs and restore the middle class in order to win this election…straight up. While many Americans are concern about the war on terror and those that want to kill us for our freedom, the American people are crying out for jobs, healthcare, and to save their homes. Owning a home is the core tenet of the American dream. We must restore the American people and promulgate laws that prohibit corrupt banks, mortgage companies, brokers, etc., from taking the American people for a ride.

Come this November, invoke your constitutional rights and vote. Remember that many of your ancestors died for that privilege. Go into that polling booth and vote your conscience. One thing for sure, whether it be Obama, McCain or Clinton, the American people are ready to sacrifice and work with our duly elected President. May God continue to bless the United States of America.

Patrick Pearce is Founder, President and CEO for Southeastern Development & Consulting Group, Inc., a Florida Corporation.

Patrick Pearce earned his BA degree from the City University of New York and his law degree (JD) from Hofstra University School of Law in Hempstead, New York.

Patrick Pearce works as a Consulting and In House Attorney with various Law Firms and Government Offices.
Website: http://www.sdcg1.com
Blogs: http://legalconsulting.wordpress.com