By Jody Ehrhardt

Whether you are starting a small business from your home or opening a new, large operation, you will need to decide which business structure is better suited to you and your company’s needs. There are four basic types of business structures: sole-proprietorships, partnerships, corporations and limited liabilities companies. The type of structure you choose will be determined by the type of business you own, the size of the business and many other individual actors. To make the best choice it is usually necessary to seek the advice of a lawyer that specializes in business law.

Before consulting a lawyer, however, it is a good idea to understand your options. The first option, sole-proprietorship, can only be used by an individual that is the only owner of the company. The only exception to this rule is if the owners are husband and wife. In a sole-proprietorship there is one very distinctive advantage and one equally distinctive disadvantage. The advantage to this structure is that there is no legal requirement necessary to form it. This means that you can create a sole-proprietorship for little if any cost and maintain it without further paperwork or legal filings. The disadvantage to this structure is that the individual that forms the sole-proprietorship is solely responsible for any debts incurred by the business. For example, if a customer were to sue your company, your personal assets could be used to pay off any judgment against your business.

In a partnership two separate individuals must own the business and the individuals must choose not to incorporate. As with a sole-proprietorship, no legal filings are required to establish this business structure but it is highly recommended that you at the very least draft an agreement between all parties involved. This document or contract can be drawn up by the partners but it is more advantageous to have a lawyer that specializes in business law draw it up for you. If you choose to draw up the contract yourself, be sure to include information regarding the financial responsibilities of each partner, the terms for the sharing of profits and losses and the responsibilities in decision making for each partner.

If you are thinking about choosing a corporation as your business structure it is important to know that each state sets forth its own requirements for the formation of a corporation. For details about these requirements it is best to consult a lawyer.

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The advantage to organizing a corporation is that the liability for the company is limited to only what an individual puts into the company. This means that each individual owner does not have to worry about his or her personal finances or assets seized to pay off company debt.

The disadvantage to owning a corporation is the time it takes to maintain one. In a corporation, the company must elect a board of directors, write articles of incorporation and issue stock. Owners must also attend shareholder meetings and follow all corporate guidelines while running the business. Unless you own a large company with multiple employees, a corporation is usually not necessary.

Perhaps the best business structure is a limited liability company. This structure includes the advantages of each structure while minimizing the disadvantages. For example, in a limited liability company, the owners are not held personally responsible for company debt yet they are still able to run their company without issuing stock or holding corporate meetings. The biggest disadvantage is that there are legal requirements needed to create a limited liability company and an attorney must do the paperwork necessary to create one.

As with all legal agreements, there are many complex issues to keep in mind when making a decision. No matter which type of business structure you are likely to choose, it is best to consult a lawyer for advice on which structure with offer your company the best tax situation while still allowing protection for your assets.

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Friday, May 23, 2008 

A controversial development training course called “Landmark Forum” is cited in religious discrimination lawsuits in United States federal courts in New York and Washington, D.C. The seminars are run by a San Francisco, California-based for-profit training company called Landmark Education. The company evolved from Erhard Seminars Training “est”, and has faced criticism regarding its techniques and its use of unpaid labor. The sperm bank and surrogacy company Los Angeles-based Growing Generations is named as a defendant in the New York lawsuit, and the Democratic political action committee Twenty-First Century Democrats is a defendant in the Washington, D.C. case.

In separate lawsuits filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, New York, and in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C., former employees are suing their employers for monetary damages and claiming religious discrimination after their employers allegedly mandated that they attend courses at Landmark Education.

In the US$3 million federal lawsuit filed in New York, Scott Glasgow is suing his former employer Growing Generations and its CEO Stuart Miller. Growing Generations maintains sperm banks and also arranges surrogacy for gay couples who wish to have children. The company has offices in New York and Los Angeles, and has done business with celebrities including actor B. D. Wong of Law & Order: SVU.

Glasgow was marketing director of Growing Generations, and claims he was fired in June 2007 after refusing to continue attending Landmark Education seminars. Glasgow is also suing for sexual harassment, and claims Miller came on to him in September 2006. He made approximately $100,000 per year as the company’s marketing director, and was the company’s only employee based out of New York City. The company’s main offices are in Los Angeles.

“I was shocked when I was fired. It took me months to right myself. I want them to stop imposing Landmark on the employees, and I want an apology,” said Glasgow in a statement in The Village Voice. Brent Pelton, one of Glasgow’s attorneys, stated that: “The Landmark philosophy is deeply ingrained in the culture of the company”. Glasgow said that the Landmark Education training courses were “opposite” to his Christian beliefs. According to Glasgow he was questioned by Miller in May 2007 after he walked out of a Landmark Education course, and was fired shortly thereafter. “We stand by the allegations contained in the complaint and we look forward to proving them at trial,” said Pelton in a statement to ABC News.

Ian Wallace, an attorney who represents Growing Generations, claimed that Glasgow wasn’t fired but walked away from his position. “Growing Generations and Mr. Miller are very confident that these claims will be dismissed ultimately, and there’s no factual basis for them whatsoever,” said Wallace in a statement to The Village Voice. Lawyers representing Growing Generations and Stuart Miller declined comment to The New York Post, and did not immediately return a message from ABC News.

In Glasgow’s complaint, entered into federal court record on April 18, he asserts that Landmark Education constitutes a “religion”, and “perceived their philosophy as a form of religion that contradicted his own personal beliefs”. He states that when he was promoted to Director of Marketing, he asked Miller if he could stop attending the Landmark sessions but was told that they were mandatory for all of the company’s executives and that Landmark is “very much the language of the company.” Glasgow said his performance at the company was assessed based on how he was “touching, moving and inspiring” others, a phrase from the Landmark philosophy, as opposed to his business accomplishments at the company. The complaint claims that the actions of Miller and Growing Generations violated Federal, New York State and New York City civil rights laws.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. deals with a separate plaintiff and company, but the plaintiff in the suit also claims that religious discrimination took place for allegedly being mandated to attend Landmark Education courses. Kenneth Goldman is suing the United States Democratic political action committee Twenty-First Century Democrats (also 21st Century Democrats) and its former executive director Kelly Young. Goldman was formerly the communications director of 21st Century Democrats.

According to Goldman’s complaint, three employees of 21st Century Democrats were fired after refusing to attend the Landmark Forum course. The complaint asserts that Landmark Education has “religious characteristics and theological implications” which influenced the mission of 21st Century Democrats and the way the organization conducted business. Goldman’s complaint states that in addition to himself, a training director and field director were also fired after they made it clear they would not attend the Landmark Forum.

Goldman says executive director Young infused Landmark Education jargon terms into staff meetings such as “create possibilities”, “create a new context”, and “enroll in possibilities”. He also claims that Young “urged” staff members to participate in Landmark Education events outside of the workplace, drove employees to and from Landmark functions, and used funds from 21st Century Democrats to pay for employees to attend those functions. Goldman’s complaint asserts that he was discriminated against in violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.

In a statement in The Washington Times, the executive director of 21st Century Democrats, Mark Lotwis, called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said: “we’re going to defend our organization’s integrity”. Landmark Education spokeswoman Deborah Beroset said that the Landmark Forum “is in no way religious in nature and any claim to the contrary is simply absurd,” and stated: “While we are not a party to this lawsuit and have no firsthand knowledge of it, we can only assume that we are being used as a legal and political football to further the plaintiff”s own financial interests.”

The New York lawsuit was filed April 14, and is still in early filing stages. A conference with the federal court judge in the case has been scheduled for June 17. The Washington, D.C. suit began in November 2007, and entered mediation this past March. As of April 15 the parties in the case were due back to court on July 11 to update the court on the mediation process.

Landmark Education is descended from Erhard Seminars Training, also called “est”, which was founded by Werner Erhard. est began in 1971, and Erhard’s company Werner Erhard and Associates repackaged the course as “The Forum” in 1985. Associates of Erhard bought the license to his “technology” and incorporated Landmark Education in California in 1991.

This is not the first time employees have sued claiming mandatory attendance at “Forum” workshops violated their civil rights. In a lawsuit filed in December 1988 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, eight employees of DeKalb Farmers Market in Decatur, Georgia sued their employer claiming their religious freedom and civil rights were violated when they were allegedly coerced into attending “Forum” training sessions. “Many of these training programs, particularly at large corporations, claim to be purely psychological, aimed at improving productivity and morale and loyalty. But in fact they are religious,” said University of Denver religious studies professor Carl Raschke in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.

The DeKalb Farmers Market employees were represented by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union. Consulting Technologies Inc., an affiliate of Transformational Technologies Inc., was named as a party in the lawsuit. Transformational Technologies was founded by Werner Erhard, and was not named as a party in the suit. The “Forum” course that the employees claimed they were mandated to attend was developed by Werner Erhard and Associates. Employees said that they were fired or pressured to quit after they objected to the Forum courses.

The workers claimed that the Forum course contradicted with their religious beliefs. The plaintiffs in the suit included adherents of varying religious backgrounds, including Christianity and Hinduism. “The sessions put people into a hibernating state. They ask for total loyalty. It’s like brainwashing,” said Dong Shik Kim, one of the plaintiffs in the case. The plaintiffs said they lost their jobs after objecting to a “new age quasi-religious cult” which they said was developed by Werner Erhard.

The DeKalb Farmers Market denied the allegations, and an attorney for the company Edward D. Buckley III told The Wall Street Journal that employees were encouraged, not coerced, to attend the training sessions. According to The Wall Street Journal, The Forum said it would not sanction workers being coerced to attend its training sessions.

The parties in the DeKalb Farmers Market religious discrimination case came to a settlement in May 1989, and the case was dismissed with prejudice in June. The terms of the out-of-court settlement were not made public, but the employees’ attorney Amy Totenberg told The Wall Street Journal that the case “has made employers come to grips with the legitimate boundaries of employee training”.

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must “reasonably accommodate” their employees’ religious beliefs unless this creates “undue hardship”. In September 1988, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a policy-guidance notice which stated that New Age courses should be handled under Title VII of the Act. According to the Commission, employers must provide “reasonable accommodation” if an employee challenges a training course, unless this causes “undue hardship” for the company.

In October 2006, Landmark Education took legal action against Google, YouTube, the Internet Archive and a website owner in Queensland, Australia in attempts to remove criticism of its products from the Internet. The company sought a subpoena under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in an attempt to discover the identity of an anonymous critic who uploaded a 2004 French documentary of the Landmark Forum to the Internet. “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” (Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus) was produced by Pièces à Conviction, a French investigative journalism news program. The Electronic Frontier Foundation represented the anonymous critic and the Internet Archive, and Landmark withdrew its subpoena in November 2006 in exchange for a promise from the anonymous critic not to repost the video.

Landmark Education itself has come under scrutiny for its controversial labor practices. The company has been investigated by the United States Department of Labor in separate investigations originating out of California, Colorado, and Texas. Investigations focused on the heavy reliance of unpaid labor in the company’s workforce, which Landmark Education calls “assistants” and deems volunteers.

An investigation by the U.S. Dept. Labor based out of Colorado found that activities performed by Landmark Education’s “assistants” include: “office, clerical, telephone solicitation and enrollment, as well as greeting customers, setting up chairs, handling microphones during the seminars and making coffee. Additionally, a number of volunteers actually teach the courses and provide testimonials during and after the courses.” The Colorado investigation’s 1996 report found that “No records are kept of any hours worked by any employees.” According to a 1998 article in Metro Silicon Valley: “In the end the Department of Labor dropped the issue, leaving Landmark trumpeting about its volunteers’ choice in the matter.” Metro Silicon Valley reported that Landmark Education at the time employed 451 paid staff, and also utilized the services of 7,500 volunteers.

After an investigation into Landmark Education’s labor practices by the U.S. Dept. Labor’s offices out of California, the company was deemed to have overtime violations. According to the Department of Labor’s 2004 report on the investigation, back wages of $187,569.01 were found due to 45 employees. An investigation by the U.S. Dept. Labor in Texas which concluded in 2005 stated: “Minimum wage violation found. Volunteers (Assistants) are not paid any wages for hours worked while performing the major duties of the firm. The assistants set up rooms, call registrants, collect fees, keep stats of classroom data/participants, file, they also are answering phones, training and leading seminars.”

The Texas investigation also discovered an overtime violation. Landmark Education agreed to pay back wages for the overtime violation, but did not comply with the overtime violation found by the U.S. Dept. Labor for the “assistants”. Landmark Education denied that the “assistants” are employees, though the Department of Labor report concluded: “Interviews reveal that the employees are taking payments, registering clients, billing, training, recruiting, setting up locations, cleaning, and other duties that would have to be performed by staff if the assistants did not perform them.”

According to the 2004 investigative report by Pièces à Conviction in the “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” program, Landmark Education was investigated by the French government in 1995. In the “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” program volunteers were filmed through a hidden camera and shown performing duties for Landmark Education in France including manning phones, recruitment and financial work for the company, and one volunteer was shown cleaning a toilet.

Le Nouvel Observateur reported that after “Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous” aired in France, labor inspectors investigated Landmark Education’s use of unpaid volunteers. According to Le Nouvel Observateur, one month after the labor investigation took place the French branch of the company had disbanded. A former “Introduction Leader” to the Landmark Forum, Lars Bergwik, has recently posted a series of videos to YouTube critical of the company and its practices. Bergwik appeared on a 2004 investigative journalism program on Sweden’s Channel 4, Kalla Fakta (Cold Facts). According to Bergwik, after the Kalla Fakta program on Landmark Education aired, “Landmark left Sweden”.

Trial for Texas lawyer accused of murder enters third day

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 

The trial of a former Texas justice of the peace, accused of killing three people in Kaufman County in early 2013, entered its third day this morning. The defendant, Eric Williams, is being tried for one of the three murders, specifically involving the death of Cynthia McClelland.

Media reports indicate the prosecution in the case intends to rest its case today. Prosecutors allege that McLelland was fatally shot by Williams inside her home Easter weekend of 2013. During opening remarks on Monday, the prosecutor stated Williams killed McClelland in a “blizzard” of bullets. She was the spouse of public prosecutor Mike McClelland whom police allege Williams also shot and killed during the same home invasion.

A separate prosecutor, Mark Hasse, was also allegedly killed by Williams in a separate incident. Early on the trial’s first day, a reporter for the Dallas Morning News posted on Twitter that Williams looked, “…like the attorney he once was.” The cases garnered much attention, as initially, authorities considered a wide variety of theories. However, upon further inquiry, their attention ultimately turned to Williams. Police allege Williams and his wife carefully planned the murders as revenge for the prosecutors’ official actions in an earlier case against Eric Williams. Prosecutors have chosen at this time, to only bring the case of Cynthia McClelland’s murder to trial.

Williams’ wife, Kim, also faces capital murder indictments pertaining to the murders. Her trial date has not yet been set.

After McLelland’s and her husband’s deaths, many public figures in the county began attending community meetings with bodyguards over fears of other possible murder attempts. Other public officials in parts of Texas expressed fear during the time when the murders were happening.

Trial for Texas lawyer accused of murder enters third day

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 

The trial of a former Texas justice of the peace, accused of killing three people in Kaufman County in early 2013, entered its third day this morning. The defendant, Eric Williams, is being tried for one of the three murders, specifically involving the death of Cynthia McClelland.

Media reports indicate the prosecution in the case intends to rest its case today. Prosecutors allege that McLelland was fatally shot by Williams inside her home Easter weekend of 2013. During opening remarks on Monday, the prosecutor stated Williams killed McClelland in a “blizzard” of bullets. She was the spouse of public prosecutor Mike McClelland whom police allege Williams also shot and killed during the same home invasion.

A separate prosecutor, Mark Hasse, was also allegedly killed by Williams in a separate incident. Early on the trial’s first day, a reporter for the Dallas Morning News posted on Twitter that Williams looked, “…like the attorney he once was.” The cases garnered much attention, as initially, authorities considered a wide variety of theories. However, upon further inquiry, their attention ultimately turned to Williams. Police allege Williams and his wife carefully planned the murders as revenge for the prosecutors’ official actions in an earlier case against Eric Williams. Prosecutors have chosen at this time, to only bring the case of Cynthia McClelland’s murder to trial.

Williams’ wife, Kim, also faces capital murder indictments pertaining to the murders. Her trial date has not yet been set.

After McLelland’s and her husband’s deaths, many public figures in the county began attending community meetings with bodyguards over fears of other possible murder attempts. Other public officials in parts of Texas expressed fear during the time when the murders were happening.

By Jim Wong

Do you know why you instantly eliminate up to 90 percent of available job candidates when you limit your search to temporary workers?

If your firm struggles with efficiency or redundancy, do you know why immediately filling your full-time vacancy with a full-time employee can cause you to squander time and money?

Do you know why you should avoid sharing your company, department and job role needs before questioning candidates during your interviews?

These are innocent mistakes that nearly everyone makes when filling vacant positions. But with some simple knowledge, youll have no problem avoiding them the next time you hire new staff.

First, understand that determining whether you need a consultant, temporary or full-time employee comes down to four factors:

1. Are there large fluctuations in work load?

2. How much bandwidth (knowledge/expertise and/or time) do you have internally to accomplish your goals?

3. Is the role and career defined for a full-time employee?

4. How much flexibility do you need with labor cost?

The benefit of using consultants and temporary employees is flexibility. You might need additional staff during peak workloads or to complete a short-term project. In these cases, consultants and temporary employees offer greater cost savings than a permanent hire.

Also, from a consultant perspective, you may not need a particular level of expertise all the time. In situations where niche knowledge is required, a consultant can share insight, develop best practices around a particular expertise, and then transfer the knowledge to you.

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But if a temporary worker or consultant leaves and the transition is not handled properly, you risk losing time, money and, most importantly, the knowledge.

Are You Willing to Take These Additional Risks?

Temporary employees are frequently used on a try before you buy basis, which offers obvious benefits, including:

You get greater flexibility when unsure about filling your position with a full-time employee a fact thats especially helpful in uncertain economic situations.

You get to evaluate a person from a technical perspective for an extended period of time. You also get to assess cultural fit and character traits, as well as how well the perspective employees values fit into your organization.

Although these benefits outweigh the disadvantages, you should still consider the drawbacks.

For example, temporary employees may be presented with additional opportunities. So if your worker is lured away by a better situation, the time, money and training you invested departs with that person.

Also, if you only consider people available for hire on a temporary arrangement, you eliminate a large pool of candidates to fill your position, including anyone who is currently employed.

Remember, most candidates available for temporary jobs are in between opportunities. If you take into account the general unemployment rate which today is approximately 10 percent targeting temporary employees means you miss out on evaluating 90 percent of the other candidates (i.e., candidates who are currently employed) for your position.

3 Critical Mistakes That Lead to the Wrong Type of Hire

A common mistake that leads to ineffective hiring is not having a clearly defined role and an idea how that position might evolve. For managerial roles, smart companies hire a consultant first to do the job on an interim basis. That way all opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce redundancy and address future needs are evaluated.

This approach makes determining the best candidate for the role easier. If youre hiring for a staff level position, an overqualified temporary employee can help with the evaluation process. The end result of using flexible labor before hiring a full-time employee is it provides you with a better understanding of your full-time employee needs, which results in making a better hire.

Another common mistake is giving little consideration to how a person fits in a companys culture.

And although these two oversights are important, theyre minor compared to the most common mistake of all hiring a candidate based only on technical knowledge and experience, without considering character traits.

The best run departments and companies view character traits as important (if not more important) as experience, knowledge or skills. You can train candidates to reach technical requirements, but character traits and values are not teachable.

How to Conduct the Interview Process

To ensure the best candidate evaluation, you should avoid sharing your company, department and job role needs before asking questions. If you begin by describing anything related to your company, or the roles from your vacant position, candidates will often shape their responses around your perceived needs.

Here are several questions you should incorporate into your next interview:

Why did you want to leave your current role? And why did you leave your previous three positions?

Listen for logic in a candidates career moves. This question also allows you to gather an understanding of what motivates them. (Incidentally, candidates who only leave positions for more money are a red flag as are candidates with frequent personality conflicts.)

Describe your ideal role, company and manager you would like to work for.

This response allows you to get a clean look at your candidates desires. And, because you didnt reveal your needs ahead of time, you can better determine if the candidates objectives fit your job requirements.

How do you see your career progressing?

Your candidates future should align with what you offer.

If we spoke to your current manager, what would he/she tell us were your biggest accomplishments?

The phrasing of this question makes your candidate believe youll contact a former manager. As a result, youll hear more honest responses.

What motivates you?

This question allows you to evaluate how your candidate fits your management style and company culture.

What is the biggest misperception people have about you?

If youre hiring at a supervisory, director or managerial level, you must address this question to ensure your candidate has self-awareness and maturity. You can live with negative issues how your candidate addresses those problems is whats important.

The bottom line: Take a strategic approach to selecting the best employee for your situation, and you wont get stuck trying to undo mistakes later. When you consider everything you lose when you hire a worker who isnt a good fit for your firm, the extra time you put in is well worth the extra effort.

About the Author: Jim Wong,CPA is the founder of Clear Focus Financial Search, Brilliant Financial Staffing and Numerate Partners in Chicago. In addition to more than 15 years of experience in accounting/finance executive search, temporary staffing and consulting, he on the advisory board for Northern Illinois University Department of Accountancy and a board member for the NIU Executive Club. Get his free weekly email which provides useful insider information on accounting/finance, career management and recruiting by visiting http://www.clearfocusfs.com or http://www.numeratepartners.com.

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Major US bankruptcy reform bill signed into law

Thursday, April 21, 2005 

U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law Wednesday a major bankruptcy reform bill, making the most sweeping changes to the laws of personal bankruptcy in the past two decades. Bill S.256 is predicted to reduce the chances of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy for 30,000 to 210,000 families per year, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

The legislation was strongly opposed by some consumer advocates and by some Democrats in Congress, who complained about the lack of debate on exemptions they attempted to introduce and tried to derail the passage of the bill. Those who are unable to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will then be forced to file under Chapter 13, which requires payment of some debts by order of a judge based on the financial resources of the debtor.

Opponents said the bill will end a chance for a fresh start in the financial lives of the American people by keeping them in debt to collection agencies, as well as credit card companies and banks who have made it easy to obtain high credit limits amid mounting consumer debt.

In his remarks before signing the bill, which he supported, Bush said, “The bipartisan bill I’m about to sign makes common-sense reforms to our bankruptcy laws. By restoring integrity to the bankruptcy process, this law will make our financial system stronger and better. By making the system fairer for creditors and debtors, we will ensure that more Americans can get access to affordable credit.”

The bankruptcy bill received a 302-126 approval in the house, after receiving a 74-25 vote in the Senate last month following strong, mostly partisan debate.

The US bankruptcy system was established in 1898. It allowed judges and debtors to come to terms with the costly medical bills that can follow a relative’s death, or a family illness. Such cases form nearly half of all bankruptcies filed in the USA, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Now many of those people will have to work out repayment plans suitable to creditors instead of having debts erased by a judge, according to the new law, which takes effect in six months.

In the past, a judge or court representative would calculate an individual’s income and subtract necessities of life to come up with a practical repayment plan of some debt. The new law stipulates that a graph, showing the poverty level in whichever state the consumer is living will be the criteria. It assumes that if people can subsist at that poverty level, then everything over that can be used to repay creditors.

Additionally, a provision that allowed debtors to file their own Chapter 7 fresh start bankruptcy has been changed to require a lawyer, paid by the debtor, to do the filing.

The new law also erased “usury” provisions in lending laws, with some lawmakers saying that paying 30 percent interest was not too much when a debtor was behind on payments.

But Bush said that credit will “be more affordable because when bankruptcy is less common, credit can be extended to more people at better rates,” meeting demands of the credit card companies which they have been pressing for the last eight years.

“The big winners under the new law will be the special interests that literally wrote it, particularly the credit card industry,” said Travis B. Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America. “This is particularly ironic because reckless and abusive lending practices by credit card companies have driven many Americans to the brink of bankruptcy.”

The forces arrayed on the losing side of this bill said it will hurt low-income working people, single mothers, minorities, and elderly and will end a safety net for people who have lost jobs or face major medical bills. People who fail (refuse) to pay or refuse to go to court will punished by a fine and or arrest warrant made out in their name. About fifty thousand Americans will be punished by a fine and or warrant about three thousand Americans every year will go to jail under the new bankruptcy law. For some people this will be a third strike so they will be put in jail for life.

But Mallory Duncan, a lawyer for the National Retail Federation, said “Bankruptcy has gone from a stigma to a financial planning tool for many.”

New personal bankruptcy filings have increased from 172,423 in 1978 to 1,599,986 last year, an increase of 828% during that time; however, it edged down slightly last year.

About 2 percent to 13 percent of those who dissolve their debts in Chapter 7 bankruptcy each year in exchange for forfeiting some assets will be disqualified from doing so under the law, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Bankruptcy lawyers anticipate a rush to the courthouse to beat the six-month window before the new reforms take effect.

Major US bankruptcy reform bill signed into law

Thursday, April 21, 2005 

U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law Wednesday a major bankruptcy reform bill, making the most sweeping changes to the laws of personal bankruptcy in the past two decades. Bill S.256 is predicted to reduce the chances of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy for 30,000 to 210,000 families per year, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

The legislation was strongly opposed by some consumer advocates and by some Democrats in Congress, who complained about the lack of debate on exemptions they attempted to introduce and tried to derail the passage of the bill. Those who are unable to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will then be forced to file under Chapter 13, which requires payment of some debts by order of a judge based on the financial resources of the debtor.

Opponents said the bill will end a chance for a fresh start in the financial lives of the American people by keeping them in debt to collection agencies, as well as credit card companies and banks who have made it easy to obtain high credit limits amid mounting consumer debt.

In his remarks before signing the bill, which he supported, Bush said, “The bipartisan bill I’m about to sign makes common-sense reforms to our bankruptcy laws. By restoring integrity to the bankruptcy process, this law will make our financial system stronger and better. By making the system fairer for creditors and debtors, we will ensure that more Americans can get access to affordable credit.”

The bankruptcy bill received a 302-126 approval in the house, after receiving a 74-25 vote in the Senate last month following strong, mostly partisan debate.

The US bankruptcy system was established in 1898. It allowed judges and debtors to come to terms with the costly medical bills that can follow a relative’s death, or a family illness. Such cases form nearly half of all bankruptcies filed in the USA, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Now many of those people will have to work out repayment plans suitable to creditors instead of having debts erased by a judge, according to the new law, which takes effect in six months.

In the past, a judge or court representative would calculate an individual’s income and subtract necessities of life to come up with a practical repayment plan of some debt. The new law stipulates that a graph, showing the poverty level in whichever state the consumer is living will be the criteria. It assumes that if people can subsist at that poverty level, then everything over that can be used to repay creditors.

Additionally, a provision that allowed debtors to file their own Chapter 7 fresh start bankruptcy has been changed to require a lawyer, paid by the debtor, to do the filing.

The new law also erased “usury” provisions in lending laws, with some lawmakers saying that paying 30 percent interest was not too much when a debtor was behind on payments.

But Bush said that credit will “be more affordable because when bankruptcy is less common, credit can be extended to more people at better rates,” meeting demands of the credit card companies which they have been pressing for the last eight years.

“The big winners under the new law will be the special interests that literally wrote it, particularly the credit card industry,” said Travis B. Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America. “This is particularly ironic because reckless and abusive lending practices by credit card companies have driven many Americans to the brink of bankruptcy.”

The forces arrayed on the losing side of this bill said it will hurt low-income working people, single mothers, minorities, and elderly and will end a safety net for people who have lost jobs or face major medical bills. People who fail (refuse) to pay or refuse to go to court will punished by a fine and or arrest warrant made out in their name. About fifty thousand Americans will be punished by a fine and or warrant about three thousand Americans every year will go to jail under the new bankruptcy law. For some people this will be a third strike so they will be put in jail for life.

But Mallory Duncan, a lawyer for the National Retail Federation, said “Bankruptcy has gone from a stigma to a financial planning tool for many.”

New personal bankruptcy filings have increased from 172,423 in 1978 to 1,599,986 last year, an increase of 828% during that time; however, it edged down slightly last year.

About 2 percent to 13 percent of those who dissolve their debts in Chapter 7 bankruptcy each year in exchange for forfeiting some assets will be disqualified from doing so under the law, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Bankruptcy lawyers anticipate a rush to the courthouse to beat the six-month window before the new reforms take effect.

Sunday, October 7, 2012 

A Norwegian University of Science and Technology study released Thursday found electric vehicles have a potential for higher eco-toxicity and greenhouse impact than conventional cars. The study includes an examination of the electric car’s life cycle as a whole rather than a study of the electric car’s environmental impact during the use phase.

The researchers conducted a comparison of the environmental impact of electric cars in view of different ratios of green-to-fuel electricity energy sources. In the case of mostly coal- or oil-based electricity supply, electric cars are disadvantageous compared to classic diesel cars with the greenhouse effect impact being up to two times larger.

The researchers found that in Europe, electric cars pose a “10% to 24% decrease in global warming potential (GWP) relative to conventional diesel or gasoline vehicles”.

The researchers suggest to improve eco-friendliness of electric vehicles by “reducing vehicle production supply chain impacts and promoting clean electricity sources in decision making regarding electricity infrastructure” and using the electric cars for a longer time, so that the use phase plays a more important role in the electric vehicle life cycle.

Best Tips On Home Renovations And Designs

Submitted by: Kim Colt

Renovating a home and obtaining garden services in Melbourne is definitely a fascinating experience similarly as well as on contrary, it may be unpleasant also. It doesn’t just enhance your home but additionally add worth into it. On the other hand, home renovation takes a bit of effort, creativity, as well as course- expenses. Below are great tips which you’ll apply when you choose for landscape solutions, garden architects and choosing renovations design for your home to make it an attractive haven to reside in:

Be aware of type of house and garden design you wish

Lots of people buy a home then get it rebuilt. Professional may help you for cool renovations design since business of home renovation Melbourne is well flourished and you can get it through online query too. It s not just about garden or home designing, one can also find professional service for pool landscaping in Melbourne as well.

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Basically, whenever you buy a home, the dwelling and design might not be fully suitable for your living or family capacity. If you wish to reconstruct or redesign it, make sure you get something what you are looking for indeed. You are able to surf the Internet for modern house and landscape solutions if you wish to allow it to be newer or look at different companies for house renovation ideas. Hiring reliable home renovations professionals will help you in getting the type of house you dream. It needs to be your individual choice so at the conclusion from the renovation, all of the efforts and money spent makes it worthwhile.

Set a specific budget

There are two methods to set the budget for that renovation. One you are able to plan for that type of reconstruction you would like, thinking about the rooms, wall surfaces, floors, home furniture, fittings along with other areas you need to change. Then compute for that budget necessary for renovation. Additionally, you could have an estimation of how much you need to invest in renovation. Then renovate the home thinking about your budget. When looking for home builders experts you might first inquire them a good estimation for that house restructuring according to your plan. Budget is essential and prior to the real revamping of the home, you should look at that which you offer prior to the task gets started.

Secure the base and begin renovating the weak spots

Lots of home owners give more focus on the pool landscaping Melbourne and other designing aspects they need rather than things that actually need enhancement. If you wish to add more rooms or maybe an additional floor to create your home three-stories rather than two, you should know first when the foundation of the home is firm enough to resist it. You may even need to look for weak and destroyed areas in your house. Have specialist for home renovation Melbourne to check up on the ceiling, flooring, along with the strength from the walls. After remodelling the weak places within your house, you can begin with matching all of them with beautiful architectural designs. You can contact garden architects and get beautiful renovations design with wonderful garden services in Melbourne.

Don t forget – home renovation is an investment not just money-spending stuff

Whenever you modernize, make certain to select top quality materials. You might want to give a garden and perform some landscape designs and broaden your garage. Obviously including structures is d3etermined by your wants. For those who have a big family it is much better to make the home bigger. Upgrading a home is much more than the usual desire to live inside a comfortable and delightful home. At present, renovation is a type of investment. Real estate properties are becoming increasingly more expensive. Decorating your home and garden through architects can also add value into it as well as in any situation you choose to market it soon, you’re certain to possess a return on investment.

Yes, it is satisfying to reside in a secure and guaranteed house. And redesigning your property is one method to do it.

About the Author: Modern Outdoor Living offer landscape solutions, pool landscaping, home renovation and garden services in Melbourne. You can also get professional and expert garden architects to enhance your garden space in a great way. Visit at:

modernoutdoorliving.com.au/landscaping_design.php

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Excellent crafts from indigenous peoples showcased in Taipei, Taiwan

Saturday, June 28, 2008 

To promote the craft design of indigenous peoples in Taiwan, the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Executive Yuan, the show organizer, made an inception on crafts of indigenous peoples with the “2008 Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Craft Exhibition” in the Ketagalan Culture Center in Taipei, Taiwan.

As of the organizer, this exhibition was set to discover more excellent artisans from indigenous peoples and promote the excellent crafts of indigenous peoples in Taiwan to bring on the sustainability of the traditional indigenous tribes.

Not only this show until June 29, but the 2008 Taiwan Designers’ Week from tomorrow (June 28), in addition to 2008 Taipei In Style from July 10, will bring on the other opportunities for cultural, creative, and the fashion-related industries.