Category Archives: Videos

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Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.

Unhappy Customer

 

 

 

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.
Bill Gates

 

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Will power: 5 financial things to do, no matter how old – ravenzlo

Will power: 5 financial things to do, no matter how old – Ravenzlo

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Remember that old saying about only two things being certain in life, death and taxes?

Some people will pay more taxes than others and some will deal with the consequences of evading them.

Death, however, does not discriminate and there’s no getting away from it.

And still, many people refuse to think about it.

While a record number of Americans, including young people, have living wills explaining their wishes for end-of-life matters, that’s not the case for wills. A 2012 survey by legal website Rocketlaw.com found about 41% of baby boomers don’t have a will. The numbers are even more stark for younger generations.

Often, that refusal to face what lies ahead leads to unneeded trauma and expense for the entire family.

Attorney Steven Allender of Allender & Allender and his father, Jerry, see situations related to the lack of a will, or health care directive, regularly in their elder law work.

Here are five things he says anyone, of any age, should take some time to think about:

1. Durable power of attorney for financial matters

Allender considers this the No. 1 must-have, whether you’re 18 or 100.

You and your spouse are both on the deed to your home, but one of you becomes incapacitated or incompetent, whether it’s dementia or an accident.

But to sell that home to pay the bills, both parties must sign to convey the deed to the buyer.

“That’s when you get to come in and talk to me about guardianship and wind up involved in the court system,” Allender said.

“It’s far more economical to get your affairs in order in advance … some people think ‘estate planning’ is only for the wealthy, but it’s for everybody, like someone who is trying to get on Medicaid and needs to move their assets around. We call it ‘planning for tomorrow.’ And planning is important — 100 percent of us are going to die.”

2. Wills

You have property, savings and valuable artwork. Or you have no money put away, but own a trove of family treasures with sentimental value.

Say you and your spouse own a home but don’t have children or grandchildren — or a will.

If you die at the same time in a car crash, someone will be deemed to have died last.

And without a will, “the law dictates what happens from there,” Allender said.

For instance, in Florida, when a person dies “intestate” — without a will — the law demands what’s called “looking down.” That means when dispersing assets, they’d look for children or grandchildren first. If there are none, they’d “go up,” to the parents of the person who died last, and on from there to other family members.

“The law may not divide your property the way you want,” Allender said.

“That’s why it’s very important that you at least have a last will and testament.”

3. Advance directives, also known as living wills

“It gives you the ability to say, ‘If I become incapacitated or incompetent, this is where I show who I want to have authority to make medical decisions for me,'” he said.

Many times, he said, husbands and wives “have this assumption that because you’re married, you have the authority to make decisions for each other, whether it’s financial or health care,” he said.

“That’s not the case.”

Medical power of attorney allows a person to name a spouse or another trusted individual to make medical decisions on their behalf.

Often, Allender said, parents will designate all of their children to make those decisions.

Allender’s preference is to name just one person, to avoid potential differences of opinion that can lead to a court fight.

He likens it to the old concept of having too many chefs in the kitchen.

“Select the person you feel will have the ability to make the decisions that need to be made — not simply the oldest child,” Allender said.

Think of the famous case of Terri Schiavo of Florida. She lay in a persistent vegetative state as her husband and parents fought for 15 years over whether to take her off life support.

Consider the ugly fight between the second wife and the children of radio personality Casey Kasem, who died earlier this year.

And then, get your wishes in writing.

4. Make sure you’ve provided for minor children — and for beloved pets

Allender and his wife have legal documents in place that state, No. 1, the people they want to have care, custody and control of their children.

“We’ve established that if Mommy and Daddy die while the children are still minors, they don’t inherit all of our money,” he said.

“We dictate the terms and conditions — we call that controlling from the grave, holding the money in trust.”

Pets can be provided for, too, with specified amounts going to a person or organization who’ll be caring for your “anipals.”

5. Specify your choices for your burial or cremation

Pay in advance if you can, Allender said.

“There’s nothing better than getting something for today’s value vs. tomorrow’s prices,” he said.

Then, when you’ve done all those things, be sure to let those you leave behind know what you had and where it is.

“A list of your assets, where you bank, who to contact — that’s a real gift to your children or beneficiaries,” Allender said.

“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard, ‘What did my mom, or dad, own?’ We don’t always have the foggiest of clues.”

And don’t hide the list, or your will, in an impossible-to-find place.

The Allender firm suggests putting vital information in a zippered plastic bag and then, in the refrigerator or freezer.

That way, it’s insulated from fire and water. Plus, “documents don’t get freezer burn,” Allender said.

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Top Keyword Searches for Today – Ravenzlo

Top Keyword Searches for Today – Ravenzlo

Ravenzlo.com Ravenzlo Blog

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Ravenzlo – Obama Finally Signs Veterans Bill into Law

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Obama signs veterans bill into law

President Barack Obama signs into law the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014. | AP Photo

The signing, which took place at Fort Belvoir, Va., caps off months of heated negotiations. | AP Photo

President Barack Obama on Thursday signed into law a bill to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs, in what amounted to a rare display of bipartisanship amid the current congressional gridlock.

The signing, which took place at Fort Belvoir, Va., capped off months of heated negotiations. The president was flanked by his newly installed VA secretary, Robert McDonald, and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

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The Republican chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, was unable to attend because of previously scheduled trips, including a visit to an Army medical center in Texas.

In a speech ahead of the signing, Obama said the bill was passed with bipartisan majorities — which “doesn’t happen often in Congress.” As he signed the measure, he joked that the members of Congress in attendance ought to send him more bills to sign — a dig at the congressional gridlock that has dogged much of his tenure.

The president said the bill marks a first step toward fixing the problems at the VA and highlighted the work still left to be done, including ending veteran homelessness, eliminating the backlog of VA disability claims and helping more veterans get jobs. He also urged the Senate to confirm several pending nominees for senior VA posts, including Linda Schwartz, selected to be assistant secretary of veterans affairs for policy and planning.

“As soon as the Senate gets back in September, they should act to put these outstanding public servants in place,” Obama said. “They’re ready to serve; they’re ready to get to work.”

The legislation was written after allegations earlier this year that some veterans may have died waiting for health care, generating outrage that led to the May resignation of McDonald’s predecessor, Eric Shinseki. Though negotiations about the bill’s terms at one point almost broke down, lawmakers on Capitol Hill eventually struck a breakthrough compromise, seeking to avoid going home for the August recess without addressing the VA’s issues.

The $16 billion measure, passed on the Hill last week, makes it easier for the VA secretary to fire or demote top officials accused of mismanagement — a response to the allegations that VA officials falsified records to make it appear they were meeting agency goals for providing care.

The bill also authorizes new VA clinics, provides funding to hire more health care providers and allows veterans who have faced lengthy waits to seek doctors outside the VA health system, among other provisions.

“America has to do right by all who serve under our proud flag,” Obama said Thursday.

In a statement, Miller said the signing ceremony should be a “wake-up call” and accused the Obama administration of ignoring the department’s challenges “at every turn.”

“I am pleased President Obama has finally recognized what we have been telling administration officials for years: that VA’s widespread and systemic lack of accountability is jeopardizing the health of veterans and contributing to all of the department’s most pressing problems,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sanders said he was “glad we accomplished something significant for veterans” in a “dysfunctional Congress.”

“This legislation will go a long way toward ending unacceptably long waiting times for veterans to access health care and allow the VA the resources to hire the doctors, nurses and other medical staff it needs to address these problems over the long term,” he said.

Some veterans groups hailed the legislation, arguing that it marks an important step in fixing the VA. John Stroud, national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said in a statement that the law will help McDonald “fix what’s broken, hold people accountable and restore the faith that veterans must have in their VA.”

Still, some cautioned that there remains more work ahead. Paul Rieckhoff, chief executive and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said in a statement that the legislation represents a “good first step toward healing the VA,” but it’s not a “silver bullet.”

“It is merely a Band-Aid and one that will soon fall off,” Rieckhoff said. “American leaders must continue to focus on the VA and veterans issues more broadly.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/obama-veterans-bill-law-109813.html#ixzz39jAoW2pP

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New Phase of Gaza operation from CBS/AP – Ravenzlo

Israeli military announces “new phase” of Gaza operation

Last Updated Aug 3, 2014 1:45 PM EDT

RAFAH, Gaza Strip – A United Nations school sheltering displaced people in the southern Gaza Strip was hit Sunday by what a U.N. official said appeared to be an Israeli airstrike that killed 10 people as Israel signaled a possible scaling back in the ongoing war.

 

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack near the Rafah school as both “a moral outrage and a criminal act.”

The Israeli military had no comment on the Rafah school strike but confirmed it was redeploying along the Gaza border for a “new phase” of an operation aimed at stopping rocket fire toward Israel and destroying the Hamas underground tunnel network.

“We have indeed scaled down some of the presence and indeed urged Palestinians in certain neighborhoods to come back to their homes,” said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman.

The U.S. State Department also condemned the attack on the school. Spokesperson Jan Psaki released a statement calling it “disgraceful,” adding: “The coordinates of the school, like all UN facilities in Gaza, have been repeatedly communicated to the Israeli Defense Forces. We once again stress that Israel must do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties.”

Several Israeli tanks and other vehicles were seen leaving Gaza a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested troops would reassess operations after completing the demolition of Hamas tunnels under the border. Security officials said the tunnel mission was winding down and Israel would soon be taking its troops out of the strip.

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Israeli soldiers stand on top of their Merkava tanks along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip after they pulled out from the Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014.

 

COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images

 

 

 

In Gaza, meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes and tank shelling continued. Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said at least 10 people were killed and 35 wounded after the strike near the boys’ school in Rafah. Robert Turner, the director of operations for the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, said preliminary findings indicated the blast was an Israeli airstrike near the school, which had been providing shelter for some 3,000 people. He said the strike killed at least one U.N. staffer.

“The locations of all these installations have been passed to the Israeli military multiple times,” Turner said. “They know where these shelters are. How this continues to happen, I have no idea. I have no words for it. I don’t understand it.”

The Israeli military said they were investigating.

 

Inside the U.N. school’s compound, several bodies, among them children, were strewn across the ground in puddles of blood.

“Our trust and our fate is only in the hands of God!” one woman cried.

Some of the wounded were transported to the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah and others were treated in what seemed to be a makeshift clinic underneath a tent.

At least six U.N. facilities, including schools sheltering the displaced, have been struck by Israeli fire since the conflict began, drawing international condemnation. In each case Israel has said it was responding to militants launching rockets or other attacks from nearby.

In nearly four weeks of fighting, Palestinian health officials say more than 1,750 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed. Nearly 70 Israelis, almost all soldiers, have been killed.

Israel launched an aerial campaign in Gaza on July 8 to try to halt Palestinian rocket fire on major cities, and later sent in troops to dismantle Hamas’ cross-border tunnels that have been used to carry out attacks.

Artillery shells slammed into two high-rise office buildings Sunday in downtown Gaza City and large explosions could be heard seconds apart, police and witnesses said. Al-Kidra said more than 50 Palestinians were killed Sunday, including 10 members of one family in a single strike in the southern Gaza Strip. Israel said it carried out 180 strikes Sunday.

CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata reported from Tel Aviv that Israel struck 200 alleged terror targets in Gaza on Saturday, while Hamas launched more than 80 rockets into Israel.

 

When people returned to neighborhoods Saturdday where Israelis said their offensive was done, most found little to save from war’s destruction, reports CBS News correspondent Barry Peterson.

Israel cut off cement during its eight year blockade, saying it was being used not to build a better life but Hamas tunnels to attack Israel.

But no cement, according to American educated engineer Mustafa El Hawi, means nothing gets rebuilt.

“Cement is the basic material,” he said. “In Gaza cement is the key for every construction. Homes, mosques, schools.”

So is Gaza’s lone power plant gone. With help from the outside world, it might be repaired in months. Without help, it may never work again.

And without light many of Gaza’s 1.8 million people will live in a modern day dark ages.

The bodies of the Al Ghoul family, killed early Sunday morning, were lined up on the floor of the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah. Doctors wiped dried blood from the faces of three men. Outside the hospital, men and children shed tears while sobbing women cradled the smallest of the dead, kissing their faces.

In another hospital room at the hospital, at least four children were piled into an ice cream freezer, all wrapped in white cloth drenched in blood. Doctors say that morgues in Rafah are at maximum capacity.

 

In Cairo, Egyptian and Palestinian negotiators held talks over a potential cease-fire. After accusing Hamas of repeatedly violating humanitarian cease-fire arrangements, Israel said it would not attend the talks and there was “no point” negotiating with the Islamic militant group.

Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq said the Israelis will have to either withdraw unilaterally or accept a political agreement that addresses Hamas’ demands.

“Hamas will not accept any ceasefire deal as long as Israelis are still in Gaza Strip,” he said.

Hamas has said it will not stop fighting until Israel and Egypt lift their blockade of Gaza, imposed after the Islamic militant group overran the territory in 2007. Large swaths of Gaza have been destroyed and some 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since the war began.

In a televised address late Saturday, Netanyahu warned Hamas they would pay an “intolerable price” if militants continued to fire rockets at Israel and that all options remain on the table.

From an Israeli perspective, the advantage of a unilateral pullout or troop redeployment to the strip’s fringes is that it can do so on its own terms, rather than becoming entangled in negotiations with Hamas. However, a unilateral pullback does not address the underlying causes of cross-border tensions and carries the risk of a new flare-up of violence in the future.

Rocket fire continued toward Israel Sunday. More than 3,000 rockets have been fired since the war began, which have killed three civilians and damaged several homes. Several soldiers have been killed in the current round of fighting by Palestinian gunmen who popped out of tunnels near Israeli communities along the Gaza border.

The Israeli military death toll rose to 64 after Israel announced that Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old infantry lieutenant feared captured in Gaza, was actually killed in battle. His funeral is later Sunday.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon revealed on his Facebook page Sunday that he is a distant relative of Goldin and had known him his whole life. The information was previously kept under wraps while Goldin was feared to be abducted.

Israel had earlier said it feared Goldin had been captured by Hamas militants Friday near Rafah in an ambush that shattered an internationally brokered cease-fire and was followed by heavy Israeli shelling that left dozens of Palestinians dead.

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Ravenzlo – Jim Oeffinger’s plane crashed Thursday as he tried to land it at a Wisconsin airport.

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OSHKOSH, Wis. — Authorities on Friday identified the victim of a single-engine airplane crash at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh as Jim Oeffinger, 74, of Versailles, Kentucky. Oeffinger’s Breezy crashed in a grassy area east of the airport’s north-south runway while he was attempting a landing at about 9 a.m. Thursday, during the fourth day of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture convention. Oeffinger was taken to Theda Clark Regional Airport in Neenah, Wisconsin, where he later died. His passenger, 21-year-old Jennifer Woloszyk, of Elmhurst, Illinios, is at an Oshkosh hospital with serious injuries.

According to the Oshkosh Fire Department, the plane burst into flames after it crashed into a line of Oshkosh Corp. military trucks that are being stored on the periphery of the airport. John Holland of the Oshkosh Fire Department said fire crews on the grounds saw the crash happen and were able to get to the scene within two minutes. “The fact they were right there certainly helped,” Holland said. “We have a complete fire department on the AirVenture grounds all week. We couldn’t beat the speed of that response. Our presence there speeds up response times and, hopefully, saves lives.” The airport was temporarily closed for several hours after the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are working with local authorities in the ongoing investigation of the cause of the crash. Ravenzlo.com/Ravenzlo – blog

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Wholesale inflation nears the Fed target – helping REITs

Wholesale inflation nears the Fed target—helping REITs – Ravenzlo Blog

Market Realist

The Producer Price Index measures inflation at the wholesale level

Inflation at the wholesale level has been typically taken to predict inflation at the consumer level. In a normal business environment, producers pass these increased costs to consumers, which would decrease the disposable income if wages didn’t rise accordingly. A little inflation is considered a good thing.

Deflation causes a lot of economic problems, especially for the Fed. Since interest rates can’t go below zero, if deflation increases, it causes real (inflation-adjusted) interest rates to increase. This is exactly what we don’t want to see in a depressed economy.

 

Inflation is also a debtor’s best friend. As inflation increases, wages and prices increase, which means that the relative size of the debt decreases. Given the shaky state of most household balance sheets, the Fed would really like to create inflation, provided it results in increased wages. If wages don’t co-operate, the Fed could end up making matters worse. If commodity prices increase while wages stay flat, consumers end up with even less disposable income.

Increasing inflation has historically meant that the Fed was getting ready to raise interest rates. A disappointing inflation report would cause stocks and bonds to sell off as investors react to a tighter Fed. These days, the Fed isn’t overly concerned about inflation. As long as unemployment is elevated and inflation is below 2%, the Fed will consider itself to be failing at both of its mandates—price stability and unemployment.

Prices at the wholesale level fall as prices at the consumer level rise

The PPI rose 0.4% in June after falling 0.2% the month before. Ex-food and energy rose 0.2%. On an annualized basis, the producer price index rose 1.9%, and 1.8% ex-food and fuel.

This report will probably give the Fed some comfort. The Fed still fears deflation and will maintain ultra-low interest rates and continue with asset purchases until unemployment falls below 6%. That said, the Fed prefers to use the Personal Consumption Expenditures index to measure inflation, not PPI or CPI.

Implications for mortgage REITs

Low inflation means the Fed will be able to maintain short-term interest rates at low levels for the foreseeable future. This means mortgage REITs like Annaly (NLY), American Capital Agency (AGNC), MFA Financial (MFA), Capstead (CMO), and Redwood Trust (RWT) need not fear an increase in their borrowing costs—at least in the near future. Provided the long end of the curve stays the same (and the ten-year curve seems to have found a range here), their net interest margins should remain robust. They should be able to maintain their dividends. Investors who wish to make a directional bet on interest rates should look at the iShares 20-year bond fund (TLT).

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