November 07, 2013

By DAVID KOENIG and PETE YOST

Associated Press

 

Attorney General Eric Holder says American Airlines and US Airways must make broad concessions if they want to settle a lawsuit blocking their proposed merger.

 

Holder indicated on Monday November 4 that the government's concerns about the merger extend beyond the control that American and US Airways would have at Washington’s busy Reagan National Airport.

 

The attorney general’s comments show that the parties could try to reach a deal and avoid a Nov. 25 trial on the lawsuit, but also could indicate that the government's demands may be too steep for the airlines.

 

The government sued to block the merger, which would create the world's biggest airline, on grounds that it would restrict competition and drive up prices for consumers on hundreds of routes around the country.

 

At a press conference in Washington, Holder said his department has focused on forcing American and US Airways to make concessions at key busy airports throughout the United States.

 

“We will not agree to something that does not fundamentally resolve the concerns that were expressed in the (lawsuit) and do not substantially bring relief to consumers,” Holder said. If there is no settlement, he said the department was fully ready to take the case to trial.

 

Last week, American and US Airways Group Inc. began working on a settlement proposal that would include giving up valuable takeoff and landing rights at Reagan National, two people close to the situation told The Associated Press. It was not clear how many takeoff and landing slots the two airlines were willing to give up, and they did not want to make broader concessions.

 

The combined airline would keep the American name and leapfrog United Airlines and Delta Air Lines in size. It would control about 69 percent of all flights at Reagan National.

 

American Airlines offered a terse response to Holder's comments.

 

“Any discussions about settlement to resolve this litigation, whether internal, with DOJ directly or through the mediator would be private and we are not going to comment on them in any way,” said Mike Trevino, a spokesman for the airline. US Airways said it would not comment on the discussions either.

 

The airlines and the government have agreed to use a court-appointed mediator in settlement talks. If those discussions fail, a trial is scheduled to begin later this month and run through mid-December in U.S. district court in Washington.

 

Vicki Bryan, an analyst at the bond-research firm Gimme Credit, said that far-reaching demands by the Justice Department were “disturbing but not surprising.” She said the government would push hard for a settlement “to save face” but would find it hard to convince a judge to block the merger. She said holding up the merger would hurt the airline industry by leaving American to carry on “as a below-average, poorly run carrier with a long history of safety concerns.”

 

American’s parent, AMR Corp., has been operating under bankruptcy protection since November 2011. As part of the bankruptcy case, it agreed to pay a record $24.9 million in fines to settle $162 million in claims lodged by the Federal Aviation Administration for a variety of maintenance and safety issues.

Parent Category: News
Category: Business

November 07, 2013

Special to the NNPA from The Insight News

 

In an overflow meeting at the Capri Theater, executives with Target Corporation engaged in a dialog about how corporate hiring policies prevent people with criminal arrest – disproportionately people of color – from securing a job.

The community meeting was organized by TakeAction Minnesota through its Justice 4 All, fair hiring campaign.

Jim Rowader, Target’s vice president of employee and labor relations, announced during the meeting that the company would institute a nationwide ban on the checkbox included on employment applications that screens for an applicant’s past criminal history. Officials with TakeAction said the move is a significant step in removing a key employment barrier for those with arrest records from one of the nation’s largest employers.

“Ending racism in employment demands the leadership of Minneapolis’ Northside community,” said TakeAction Minnesota’s executive director, Dan McGrath. “No matter their credentials and work ethic, the fact is that there are structural barriers in place that stop people from getting jobs. Our Justice 4 All campaign was launched by leaders from this community so that no one who has been locked up is locked out of a job and a positive future.”

McGrath said TakeAction Minnesota has worked for more than two years to build a base of leadership on the Northside to address inequities in employment.

Nekima Levy-Pounds, an attorney, professor and activist, moderated a panel discussion between Rowader and three individuals leading TakeAction Minnesota’s Justice 4 All fair hiring campaign. The panel included Larcel Mack, a workforce coach at Emerge Community Development and small business owner, Ramsey County Workforce Solutions employment counselor Renee Zschokke and James Cannon who serves as a Ramsey County employment guidance counselor.

During the panel discussion, Rowader also announced Target would be contributing $100,000 to the Council on Crime and Justice to fund the “Second Chance Saturdays” program in Minneapolis that helps those with past records navigate barriers to employment.

Cannon, who is African-American, spoke of his own struggle to obtain employment after getting into a fight outside of University of Minnesota campus bar shortly before graduation. The fight resulted in a felony conviction and it took several years for Cannon to re-establish his employment credentials and obtain a good-paying job.

“Anyone with a record is basically shut out of society,” said Cannon. He said programs like Second Chance Saturday, which he himself participated in, are critical to establishing second chances for ex-offenders yet receive little to no funding. “People in the streets, people in this room, need help today. People need help navigating the system that makes it so hard to find a job and get your life back on track.”

Several at the Oct. 24 meeting, including Levy-Pounds, noted that while the $100,000 from Target is much needed and will be a boost to the Second Chance Saturday program, much more is needed to truly make the necessary impact in the poorer segments of the community.

“Some could argue this is really just a drop in the bucket,” said Levy-Pounds who commended Target for the contribution but also noted the millions and millions Target donates every year to other endeavors.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, Minnesota has the widest racial jobs gap in the nation and the worst recidivism rate in the country, with 61 percent of those leaving the criminal justice system returning within three years. More than 92 percent of employers use background checks to screen applicants, with as many as two-thirds refusing to hire applicants with criminal or arrest records, regardless of the time lapse since conviction or the relevance of such a record to the job for which applied.

Zschokke, an employment counselor who specializes in finding jobs for those with records, told the audience she is a survivor of crime.

“I went to school to get my degree in criminal justice and police science because I thought life-long punishment was a solution to crime,” said Zschokke, but she changed her opinion as she worked to place ex-offenders in jobs and found one after the other not getting hired. “Crime is not as simple as people doing bad things. We cannot just release people into a world that systemically keeps them unemployed. It doesn’t work for people’s lives or our economy which is spiraling downward.”

Among the over three-hundred people in attendance Thursday night were numerous political and community leaders, including U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, State Senator Bobby Joe Champion, State Representative Rena Moran and several Minneapolis mayoral candidates including Don Samuels, Betsy Hodges and Jackie Cherryhomes.

Justin Terrell, TakeAction Minnesota’s Justice 4 All program manager believes Thursday night’s forum is the beginning of a long overdue dialog.

“The best way to stop a bullet is with a job,” Terrell said. “There are solutions to making sure those individuals with criminal histories in their past – the vast majority non-violent misdemeanors – are given a fair opportunity to be hired. That’s what tonight’s conversation is about. It’s about all of us working together to remove the barriers and narrow this employment gap.”

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October 31, 2013

LAWT News Service

 

On October 26, 2013, Rickey Ivie, veteran attorney and Senior Partner of Ivie, McNeill, & Wyatt, was inducted into the John M. Langston Bar Association’s Hall of Fame. This honor further solidifies Mr. Ivie’s career as one of Cali­fornia’s most-accomplished attorneys and comes on the heels of the opening of Ivie, McNeill, & Wyatt’s Ontario office.

Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt is California’s largest African-Ameri­can owned law firm. Founded in 1965 by retired Judges Charles R. Scarlett and Robert L. Roberson, the firm is located in downtown Los Angeles. The John M. Langston Bar Association is the largest historically African-American attorney bar association in Southern California. Other distinguished Hall of Fame honorees by the Langston Bar Association included Virgil Roberts, Esq., Beverly A. Williams, Esq., Wilma J. Williams-Pinder, Esq., and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sandra A. Thompson. 

As a trial lawyer, Mr. Ivie has tried over 75 jury trials. Among the firm’s victories include a successfully litigated multi-million dollar class action lawsuit against a major California healthcare provider for sexual discrimination which resulted in the elimination of the nine-month pregnancy exclusion as a pre-existing condition for health insurance, saving millions of dollars for California consumers. Recently, the firm was retained by the family of Raymond Johnson in their civil rights wrongful death federal lawsuit against River­side County Sheriff’s Department.

The firm recently announced the opening of its first regional office located at 3200 Guasti Road, Suite 100 Ontario, CA 91761. The firm chose to expand its office to the San Bernardino/Riverside area in order to serve the growing minority populations in those counties.

Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt

A Professional Law Corporation

IMW has successfully litigated high-profile, high-exposure cases for its clients for more than 35 years. The firm has an outstanding reputation for providing the highest quality legal services at competitive rates. Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt has a successful history in civil rights litigation and criminal defense representing both public entities and individuals in State or local institutions including jails, prisons, juvenile detention facilities, and health care facilities. IMW has defended and prosecuted civil rights cases for more than 35 years.

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November 07, 2013

By Christopher S. Rugaber

Associated Press

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The jobs report for October due out Friday may be bleak. It might even be scary. The unemployment rate could jump by the most in three years. Hiring may slow from an already weak pace.

Don’t panic.

The ugly figures will reflect the government’s partial shutdown, which coincided with 16 days in October. The trends for the job market will likely reverse themselves in coming months.

“It’s going to be a very messy report, and I don’t think we think should take it at face value,” said Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Economists warn that the unemployment rate could surge as high as 7.5 percent from 7.2 percent in September. That would be the steepest one-month rise since 2010.

The number of jobs added in October could slow to roughly 120,000 from the 148,000 added in September. That isn’t healthy. In the first nine months of this year, the average job gain was 180,000.

The shutdown will be mostly to blame. But its effect on the data won’t be easy to tease out. Economists have all but thrown up their hands trying to forecast Friday’s figures or to suggest what they might mean. However the numbers turn out, the distortions mean the monthly jobs data will be less useful in gauging the economy’s health than they normally are.

“We have much less confidence in these numbers than usual,” economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote in a note for clients.

Why the confusion?

Consider how the jobs report is compiled: It’s derived from two separate surveys. Each survey will be affected differently by the shutdown.

One is a household survey. Government workers ask adults in a household whether they have a job. Those who don’t but are looking for one are counted as unemployed. That’s how the unemployment rate is calculated.

The other is a payroll survey. The government asks mostly large companies and government agencies how many of their employees worked or received pay, typically during the second week of the month. This survey produces the number of jobs gained or lost.

Suppose you’re a federal worker who was furloughed by the shutdown. The payroll survey would consider you employed. But the household survey would count you as unemployed.

Why the disparity?

Because furloughed federal employees received back pay for the time they didn’t work. So for the purposes of the payroll survey, they were employed. The same is likely true for government contractors who were temporarily laid off. Many were probably paid for at least part of the time covered by the payroll survey. So the payroll survey will consider them employed.

That’s why October’s job gain isn’t expected to drop much.

The household survey takes a different approach: It will count both the federal workers and the contractors as unemployed because they weren’t working during the survey period.

The shutdown furloughed about 450,000 federal employees in the second week of October. If the number of unemployed rises by that much in October's jobs report, the unemployment rate could reach 7.5 percent.

There will be other distortions. Some people with private employers might have been affected. Examples would be employees of hotels and restaurants near national parks that were closed. Those workers might have been temporarily laid off, thereby boosting the unemployment rate.

Yet as long as they were paid for even one day of work during the survey period, the payroll survey would count them as employed.

“It is basically impossible to determine how many private-sector workers were affected by the shutdown,” economists at JPMorgan Chase wrote in a note to clients.

The shutdown likely stopped the government from hiring for roughly two weeks. Goldman Sachs estimates that this fact lowered government employment by 12,000 in October. With the shutdown over, those jobs will be added over time.

In addition, some workers, in both the government and private sector, might have had their hours cut during the shutdown. Their reduced hours might have boosted the number of part-time workers in October.

The shutdown’s effects will be largely unwound by November. But then the bounceback from October could distort November’s jobs data.

A clear picture of the job market's health may not emerge until January, when December’s jobs report will be released.

Parent Category: News
Category: Business

October 31, 2013

By Jeffrey L. Boney

Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward-Times

 

Identity theft is a term used to describe all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.

There is nothing like going to apply for a loan, attempting to buy a home or opening a checking account, and having a representative inform you that you were denied because you had a negative credit history.

That is exactly what happens to many Americans on a daily basis and is an increasingly disturbing trend that must not be ignored; it is called identity theft.

Houstonian Dexter Evans has been the victim of this criminal atrocity for the last 12 years and he wants the world to know why every American should be gravely concerned about the deep flaws in our various systems of government.

For over a decade, Evans became the unwilling victim of identity fraud and didn’t even know it until he started receiving correspondence from creditors.

Evans quickly learned that a 36-year old man by the name of Edgar Abiel Linares, had not only acquired several credit accounts, but had moved into a home in north Houston that was purchased under Linares’ name but using Evans social security number back in 2001.

“First, I started getting letters in my P.O. Box from Capital One saying that I owed them $4,000 to $6,000 and then I found out about the house,” said Evans.  “Before I knew it, I called Conn’s and found out that this man had received 8 different accounts using my social security number and that’s when the floodgates opened.”

Evans said that he discovered that Linares had established account relationships with Wells Fargo Bank, Conn’s, Home Depot, Macy’s, Pep-Boys, Sam’s Club, Reliant Energy, Washington Mutual Bank, Life-Lock, Finger-Hut, Chase Bank, Capital One Bank and several others.

Evans said that all of these accounts appeared on his Equifax, Experian and Transunion credit reports and his credit has been completely ruined as a result.

Linares was able to secure over $100,000 in credit accounts and purchase at least one home that Evans is aware of.  Evans was even denied a checking account at a local bank because Linares had already opened one at the same bank.

Evans wants to know how a banks and a detailed financial system that has been setup to supposedly protect Americans, can allow this to happen to Americans.

According to the Harris County Sheriff’s office, Linares got a hold of Evans’ social security number back in 2001 and immediately went to town on him.

Harris County Sherriff investigators stated that Linares admitted to using Evans’ social security number and admitted to knowing that the social security number didn’t belong to him.  Harris County Sheriff investigators believe that Linares is an illegal immigrant and used Evans’ social security number because he had no social security number of his own, which is not unusual especially in a city that attracts undocumented workers who end up making Houston their home.

Even after he was arrested and charged with a third-degree felony of False Statement to Obtain Credit charge, Linares and his family continued to live in the home he purchased fraudulently.  Linares eventually moved and now Evans lives in the home but is still looking for legal assistance to help him clean up his credit and his name.

Evans currently is unaware where Linares is, but is livid to recently learn that Linares received a no-bill judgment on his third-degree felony charge from the courts.  That means Linares will not have to go to court to face the music for his crimes.

“I feel totally betrayed by the system and it is frustrating,” says Evans. “This man has been able to come to this country and live high on the hog using my personal information. Everything he did was fraudulent and this man didn’t even have to pay the price for it.”

Unlike your fingerprints, which can’t be used by anyone else, your Social Security number can be used by a criminal-minded individual if they choose to.

Here in the U.S., people regularly report that an unauthorized person has taken over their identities and have ran up countless amounts of debt in the name of the victim.  In most cases, the loss that a victim encounters is more than just a financial one, but also consists of the losses of money and time associated with seeking to restore their reputation and correcting the fraudulent information attributed to them.

Evans states that the rules established by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), puts all of Americans at risk.

According to the Texas DPS website, “individuals who do not have a SSN, have never been issued a SSN, or are not eligible for a SSN can visit any driver license office and complete an affidavit attesting to such.”

That affidavit is called a Social Security Affidavit (form DL-13) and has a form date of August 2002.  Linares has been using Evans’ social security number since 2001.  Evans states that the dates don’t add up and believes that someone on the inside of the Texas DPS helped Linares obtain his state issued identification.  In order to purchase a home or do any credit or financial transactions, a person would need to have proper state identification. Linares was issued that identification from the Texas DPS.

Evans believes if it was so easy for an illegal immigrant to cover over to America; steal his social security number; be issued a state issued driver’s license by simply filling out a Social Security Affidavit; and not go to jail and be charged with a crime; then all Americans should be worried and should contact their state legislators to express their concern.

“It’s disturbing,” says Evans. “If the government makes it this easy for someone to take your identity and commit crimes against innocent Americans, there is no telling what other crimes have and will be committed against us.”

A call was placed to the Texas DPS offices at the time this story was written, but we were unable to get a response.

Everyone should take major precautions to protect themselves from one of the fastest growing consumer crimes in the nation; known as identity theft.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Javelin Strategy & Research, nearly 12 million Americans have their identities used fraudulently each year with financial losses totaling approximately $21 billion in 2013.  On an average basis, that means approximately 7% of all Americans have their identities misused with each instance resulting in approximately $4,930 in losses per individual.

These alarming statistics show that identity theft may very well be the most common and expensive crimes committed in the U.S.

The Department of Justice prosecutes cases of identity theft under a variety of federal statutes.  Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act in 1998, which prohibits “knowingly transferring or using, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.”

Identity thieves don’t just steal money; they steal who you are and their actions can seriously jeopardize your financial future.  Victims of identity theft have the ongoing responsibility to correct erroneous information about their financial or personal status, as well as restore their reputations with the community, which often takes longer to make right than it took for the criminal to commit their crimes.

In order to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, people should: avoid giving out personal information to others unless they have a reason to trust them; check their financial information regularly and look for what should be there and what shouldn’t be there; ask for a copy of their credit report periodically; and maintain careful records of their banking and financial accounts.

If you think you have become a victim of identity theft, you need to act immediately to minimize the damage to your personal funds and financial accounts, as well as to your reputation.

Here are some actions that you should take right away:

1. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report the situation, whether Online,

2. By telephone at 1-877-ID THEFT (877-438-4338) or TDD at 1-866-653-4261, or

3. By mail to Consumer Response Center, FTC, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.

Under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, the Federal Trade Commission is responsible for receiving and processing complaints from people who believe they may be victims of identity theft, providing informational materials to those people, and referring those complaints to appropriate entities, including the major credit reporting agencies and law enforcement agencies.

Individuals should contact their local office of the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service to report crimes relating to identity theft and fraud.

Individuals should also contact their local Post Office; the Social Security Administration if they suspect that their Social Security number is being fraudulently used (call 800-269-0271 to report the fraud); the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if they suspect the improper use of identification information in connection with tax violations (call 1-800-829-0433 to report the violations) and the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.

To report fraud with Equifax, call (800) 525-6285 or write to P.O. Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374-0250.  To report fraud with Experian, call (888) EXPERIAN or (888) 397-3742, fax to (800) 301-7196, or write to P.O. Box 1017, Allen, TX 75013. To report fraud with Trans Union, call (800) 680-7289 or write to P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634.

Individuals should contact all creditors and financial institutions with whom their name or identifying data have been fraudulently used.

Many people do not realize how easily criminals can take over our identities without even having to rob them at gunpoint or break into their homes.

Identity theft is a federal crime. It is important for everyone to do their best to protect themselves from being one of the many victims of this horrible crime.

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