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High court says government can be liable for flood

The court sided with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in its appeal of a lower court ruling that said the federal government did not have to pay for damage to thousands of trees after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released more water than usual from its dam on the Black River. The release of additional water benefitted farmers, but the commission said its hardwood forest suffered significant damage.

The commission said the damage amounted to the government taking its property, for which compensation would be owed under the Constitution.

The Court of Federal Claims agreed and ordered the government to pay $5.6 million for destroyed and damaged trees. But the U.S Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said damage resulting from temporary, as opposed to permanent or inevitable, flooding cannot be compensated under the Constitution’s Takings Clause.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the court, said the appeals court was mistaken. Ginsburg said that “government-induced flooding of limited duration, but severe impact, can amount to a taking of property warranting just compensation.”

But Ginsburg also cautioned that the court was not deciding that the government has to pay for all flooding caused by government action, or even necessarily in this case. Instead, courts must consider the details on a case-by-case basis. The justices also ordered the appeals court to consider other arguments advanced by the government to avoid liability.

Justice Elena Kagan sat out the case because she worked on it while serving in the Justice Department.

The case is Arkansas Game and Fish Commission v. U.S., 11-

Don’t Let a New Credit Card Destroy You

You probably get weekly credit card offers online, in the mail or at the checkout of major retailers. Careless acceptance of a credit card can destroy you financially. Knowing a few critical facts before accepting a credit card can save your financial life!

Closely examine “Introductory Interest Rates.” A “Low Introductory Interest Rate” is a great come-on for credit card companies. These rates are temporary and may increase drastically in a short period of time, locking you into exorbitant payments that you can bury you financially. Before accepting any credit card, make sure you fully understand the potential interest rates both during and after the introductory period.
Know all interest rates that may apply to your account. Your credit card company will charge a higher interest rate for cash advances and may increase your interest rate if you are past due on payments or over your credit limit. These increased interest rates are in addition to fees that may also be charged for these activities.
Know when your payments are due and the penalty for late payment. Make sure you understand the due date for your payments and the penalties and interest imposed for late payments. They may be large, cumulative and disastrous for you.
Know your payment options. You may be able to pay online, by phone or by mail. Some options may carry fees, while others do not. Understand the options and only use the ones that do not impose a separate fee
Know your credit limit and stay below it at all times. Your credit limit is the maximum debt you are authorized to carry on your credit card account. Most credit card companies will let you exceed your credit limit, but many impose substantial fees for doing so. These fees can accumulate quickly and can result in fee debt larger than your credit debt. Additionally, exceeding your limit may be reported to credit agencies and substantially damage your credit score.
Know ALL of the fees that can be imposed on your account. In addition to late fees and over limit fees, your credit card company may also charge annual fees, fees for balance transfers, use of ATMs and other actions. Know all of the potential fees and avoid them whenever possible.
Understand the fine print in your cardholder agreement. Credit card companies know that virtually no cardholder reads the cardholder agreement. It is always very long and printed in nearly unreadable small print. When you accept the credit card you are bound by the cardholder agreement regardless of its length, print size or whether you read it. For the sake of your financial health, take the time to read the cardholder agreement and understand all the obligations and penalties you are subject to BEFORE you accept the credit card. Your financial life may depend on it.

Reverse Mortgage Coluld Be an Answer For Many Seniors Needing More Cash Quickly

Seniors, age 62 and older who are looking for money for any reason may just find themselves sitting on it. Thousands of seniors every month are cashing in on the equity in their homes by doing reverse mortgages. It may be the best way for seniors to get cash without paying income tax on the money they take out and the seniors are not required to pay the money back.

How does a senior get approved for a reverse mortgage? Approval is simple. Credit score or credit history does not matter. Income doesn’t matter. Credit and income are probably the biggest factors in approving or denying a forward mortgage but when applying for reverse mortgage, these factors do not matter at all.

The 3 biggest factors of being approved for a reverse mortgage are:

? Loan is based on age, number of borrowers and home value.
? Must be 62 years of age for F.H.A. insured reverse mortgages.
? Must have equity in the property. Amount or percentage of equity will vary depending on the senior’s goals but typically an equity position of 50% or greater pays more benefits.

There have been many myths surrounding reverse mortgages. The biggest myth might be, “The bank takes the deed to the house.” In a reverse mortgage, the borrower retains ownership of the home. The lender does not take control of the title. The lender’s interest is limited to the outstanding balance.

Another myth regarding reverse mortgages is that the approval process is difficult. Although the approval is easier than a forward mortgage, an over the phone credit counseling session is required for each borrower. This phone session only takes twenty to thirty minutes and is designed so that seniors are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous telemarketing companies. The credit counseling helps the seniors have a full understanding of the reverse mortgage. A certificate of completion is issued to the senior after the counseling is conducted. The credit counseling is conducted by third party firms and is paid by the lender and not the senior.

Reverse mortgages are regulated by H.U.D. and insured by F.H.A. and there are safeguards in place to protect seniors before a transaction takes place. These processes are in place to make the transaction smooth and thus ensure that the seniors are well informed of the details of the transaction.

Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom’s Mansion Raided by FBI,SWAT for Copyright Infringement (video)

‘Kim Dot Com’, Megaupload Founder Was Barricaded in Room with Shotgun Before Police Arrested Him

This story gets more strange as it goes. The larger than life Kim Schmitz, aka Kim Dot com was arrested last Thursday on copyright infringement and theft violations on his Megaupload.com website. We are not sure how many people knew the facts leading up to the arrest. Apparently, it was not an easy arrest one.

Reporters from The Global Post, the 37 year old German national had the feds raid his home but had to take careful steps to get to him as he had a shotgun ready to take aim at any time.

According to Agence France Presse, armed police had to cut into a locked safe room where Schmitz had barricaded himself with a sawn-off shotgun. Officers also seized his collection of luxury cars –with number plates reading “God,” “Mafia Hacker” and “Guilty” – and froze up to $10 million NZD ($8 million USD) in a number of New Zealand bank accounts.

Reports state there were more than 20 raids in similarity and in connection with this case that were carried out in 9 other countries.

The other suspects arrested are Megaupload’s co-founder Mathias Ortmann and chief marketing officer Finn Batato, both from Germany, and Dutch national Bram van der Kolk, who oversees programming, reported Radio New Zealand. Graphic designer Julius Bencko, head of business development Sven Echternach and software developer Andrus Nomm have also been charged, but not yet arrested.

Defeated Kim Schmitz has stated he wants his court appearance to be live because he says he has nothing to hide.

The Five Big Scams and How to Avoid Them

The Five Big Scams and How to Avoid Them

Well disguised scams come at you from all directions – the internet, mail, even face-to-face contact. Scammers change tactics constantly in order to lure victims into their schemes. Understanding the biggest scams will help you avoid them.

Easy money is the oldest and still the best hook scammers use to lure victims. “International Lottery Winner”, “Money Escrow”, “Check Cashing”, “Nigerian Scams” are all classic “easy money” scams that claim thousands of victims each year. The promise of quick and easy money is hard to pass up, especially in these economic times, but remember, there is no such thing as easy money. In the end only the scammer makes the money. Run, do not walk, away from plans that promise you much money for little work.

Fear is the most effective means scammers use to force victims to make fast and disastrous decisions. Fear has proved especially effective against senior citizens insecure about their financial future. Claims that your bank account has been “hacked” and demanding account information quickly in order to “save” it are common. Most of these come under the guise of your bank’s letterhead or service mark. If you receive a regular mail, email or a phone call claiming your account has been hacked, immediately contact your bank independently and inquire about your account. Do not use a provided reply envelope, reply email website or telephone patch through to contact your bank. These are part of the scam.

Confusion goes hand in hand with fear as an effective way to make victims act quickly. Again, these scammers often target the elderly who may be easily confused and manipulated. When contacted by a stranger or in an unusual way with a demand that you act promptly, protect yourself by immediately breaking contact or by calling a trusted friend to discuss the matter before taking any action.

Faith and charity are the best human traits, but ones that scammers often rely on to bilk their victims. Do not make donations or offer assistance to “churches” or “charities” unknown to you who email, call or show up at your home uninvited. Never make a donation to a church or charity that you are not familiar with, no matter how compelling their “story”.

Jobs are difficult to find in a slow economy. Scammers use the promise of work to bilk individuals desperate for employment. Do not pay money to apply for a job! Do not give personal information to a “prospective employer” over the phone, mail or online. This is a major source of information for identity thieves. When you are contacted about an employment opportunity, meet with the prospective employer in person at their place of business and do some research on the employer before providing any personal information.

Must Read! 5 Ways to Save Your Family from Disaster

5 Ways to Save Your Family from Disaster

Fire, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes are unavoidable disasters, but you can avoid the family legal disasters that they often cause.

1. Be sure your family is cared for if the worst happens to you – have an estate plan. Every adult needs an up-to-date estate plan and will. A will insures that your assets go to who you intend them to go to and may determine guardianship of your children.

2. Be sure your family and physicians know how you want to be cared for if you are critically and permanently injured – have an advance medical directive (AMD). Also known as a “Living Will”, your AMD names the person you want to make the life or death healthcare decisions for you if you are incapacitated.

3. Do not lose the value of your home and other assets if they are destroyed – have proper insurance. Review your assets now and make sure you have the best insurance coverage that you can afford. If you rent your home or apartment, make sure you have renter’s insurance.

4. Do not make your family fumble and search for people that must be contacted in an emergency – have a thorough emergency contact list. Create a list of your most important contact information and tell your family where it is. Your list must include family doctors, utility companies, insurance carriers and your provider law firm.

5. Do not make your family fumble and search for critical documents they must have in an emergency – have a secure document depository to keep critical documents. Keep your most critical documents, including your will, insurance policies, military discharge and other important papers in a safe deposit box or secure place where they can be found in the event they are needed. Tell trusted members of your family where they are deposited.

ABA Silver Gavel Awards Honor Documentaries on Fights for Justice

Two documentaries on people who fought for justice are among four Silver Gavel award winners announced this week by the American Bar Association. The Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts recognize outstanding work that fosters the American public’s understanding of law and the legal system, according to a press release. The Standing Committee on Gavel Awards named four winners and seven honorable mentions from among nearly 200 entries. The four winners are: • For documentaries, THIRTEEN and Fork Films in association with WNET and ITVS: Women, War & Peace: I Came to Testify The…

Criminal Defense Lawyer Plays Role of Killer in Award-Winning Independent Film

If criminal defense attorney Kevin Broughton was ordering his final meal on Earth, he’d want it to include frog legs. But when asked to order on behalf of his character, a twisted Mississippi killer headed to execution in Old Oak, he opted for fried chicken, pork chops, black-eyed peas, cornbread and mashed potatoes. To be shown at the Crossroads Film Festival in Jackson over the weekend, the award-winning independent film stars Broughton in gray-and-white striped prison garb and leg irons, according to the Clarion-Ledger. The attorney, who made his film debut last year in another award-winning short, Murderabilia, that was also shown at Crossroads,…

Still Practicing at 100, ‘Miss Alice’ Talks of Harper Lee and Working in Their Dad’s Law Firm

Nelle Harper Lee, the famous and reclusive author of To Kill a Mockingbird, has rarely, if ever, given interviews since a few years after the book was published in 1960. But her older sister, “Miss Alice,” is still sharp as a tack at age 100, working as the oldest practicing lawyer in the state of Alabama and fielding questions about her 85-year-old sister on occasion. Suffering from hearing loss, Miss Alice had to sit close to a filmmaker so she could see her lips and understand the questions as she was interviewed for five hours, two years ago,…