US Credit Card Debt Nears Toxic Levels

black friday shoppers

More American households are falling back into the debt hole, this time without the safety net of home values to help bail them out, the New York Post reported Sunday.

Last year, total US consumer debt reached its highest point in a decade, according to a credit card industry observer.

After a few months of reducing credit card debt levels, Dvorkin said, Americans are starting to return to their reliance on debt.

“People made some progress in reducing card debt earlier in the year, but in the last few months, as the stock market started to rise, they started to return to their old ways of charging things,” he explained.

In December 2011, the total consumer debt — which is the combination of non-revolving and revolving debt — rose by some 9.3 percent to $2.498 trillion, according to the latest Federal Reserve Board numbers.

Both revolving debt and non-revolving debt increased. Revolving debt, which is credit-card debt, went up by 4.1 percent. Non-revolving debt, which includes loans for cars and education, rose 11.8 percent, the central bank’s report said.

The trend — month to month, quarter to quarter and year to year — is rising steeply.

“Consumer credit increased at an annual rate of 7.5 percent in the fourth quarter. Revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 4.5 percent, and non-revolving credit increased 9 percent in December,” the Fed wrote in a note along with the latest monthly report, which also reviewed 2011.

“It’s still a big problem. Some people want to live life to the fullest even though they are using their cards too much,” Altfest explained. He said many clients last year tried to reduce card debt. But some “are falling back into their old ways.”
Indeed, last holiday season many consumers financed Black Friday trips to the mall and Cyber Monday online buying sprees by making purchases with plastic, Dvorkin contends.
“As the bills begin to roll in, consumers may find themselves unable to pay them off. It’s good to see an increase in consumer spending, but never is it worth going into debt,” according to Dvorkin.

Credit Card Debt Nears Toxic Levels

Sandler sets Razzie record: 11 worst-movie nominations

When Adam Sandlers bad, hes really bad, according to voters for the Razzies, an Academy Awards spoof that singles out the worst movies of the year.

Sandler received a record 11 nominations Saturday for the Razzies as star, producer or writer on three 2011 movies – “Jack and Jill,””Just Go with It” and “Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.”

That more than doubled the previous record of five Razzie nominations held by Eddie Murphy for 2007s “Norbit.”

Sandlers nominations include worst actor for both “Jack and Jill” and “Just Go with It” – and worst actress for “Jack and Jill,” in which he plays a family man and his own twin sister.

Sandler also had two nominations as worst screen couple opposite Jennifer Aniston or Brooklyn Decker in “Just Go with It” and opposite Katie Holmes, Al Pacino or himself in “Jack and Jill.”

As a producer, Sandler was credited with worst-picture and worst prequel, remake, rip-off or sequel nominations for both “Bucky Larson” and “Jack and Jill.” He also shared in worst-screenplay nominations as a writer on both movies, and a worst-ensemble nomination for “Jack and Jill.”

“Its almost karmic for someone to have made that much razz-able stuff in one year,” said Razzies founder John Wilson. “He has angered someone really powerful, I would say.”

My Way News – Sandler sets Razzie record: 11 worst-movie noms

Twelve killed in protests across Afghanistan

Hundreds of Afghans marched toward the palace of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, while on the other side of the capital protesters hoisted the white flag of the Taliban.

Chanting “Death to America!” and “Long live Islam!,” protesters also threw rocks at police in Kabul, while Afghan army helicopters circled above.

U.S. President Barack Obama had sent a letter to Karzai apologizing for the unintentional burning of the Korans at NATOs main Bagram air base, north of Kabul, after Afghan laborers found charred copies while collecting rubbish.

Muslims consider the Koran to be the literal word of God and treat each copy with deep reverence. Desecration is considered one of the worst forms of blasphemy.

Afghanistan wants NATO to put those responsible on public trial.

In neighboring U.S. ally Pakistan, about 400 members of a hardline Islamist group staged protests. “If you burn the Koran, we will burn you,” they shouted.

Twelve killed in protests across Afghanistan | Reuters

Obama Apologizes for Koran Burning as Afghans, Troops Are Killed in Riots

President Barack Obama apologized for the burning of Korans on a U.S. air base in Afghanistan as Afghans and NATO troops died in a third day of riots over the treatment of the Islamic scripture.

At least five deaths raised the riots’ Afghan death toll to 12, according to provincial officials reached by phone from Kabul. An Afghan in an army uniform killed two soldiers of the U.S.-led coalition force in Afghanistan, a statement from its headquarters said.

Obama wrote to Afghan President Hamid Karzai that “I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident” in which personnel at the Bagram air base threw copies of the Koran and other books into a burning rubbish pile. “I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies,” Obama wrote, according to a statement from Karzai’s office.

“We will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible,” Obama said in a letter delivered by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

Taliban leaders called on Afghans to ignore the apologies and step up attacks against Americans.

“The Muslim Afghan nation must not be deceived by their superficial apologies and must continue seeking revenge,” the Taliban leadership said in a statement e-mailed by Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman.

An Afghan in an army uniform shot two U.S. soldiers as hundreds of protesters were besieging their base in the eastern province of Nangarhar, said Ahmed Zia Abdulzai, the provincial government spokesman. It wasn’t clear whether the soldiers shot in that incident were the two NATO troops killed because NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, said in a statement that its policy prevented it from releasing the nationality of its casualties.

The U.S. embassy continued to restrict movements of its staff because of the risk of attack by Afghans angered at what protesters say was a desecration of the Muslim holy book.

Protests or riots were reported across the country. Local officials confirmed the deaths of two people in Nangarhar, two in the central province of Uruzgan, and one in the north, in Baghlan province.

Obama Apologizes for Koran Burning as Afghans, Troops Are Killed in Riots

ESPN Jeremy Lin racial slur blasted by Rep. Judy Chu

Jeremy Lin

Rep. Judy Chu on Monday slammed the racial slur used in an ESPN headline about NBA phenom Jeremy Lin, saying she did not believe the phrase “chink in the armor” was an innocent mistake.

The California Democrat said on MSNBC that the headline on the Saturday story about the New York Knicks breakout star was “appalling and offensive.” The writer’s word choice, Chu said, was intentional.

“I think that the use of the term is appalling and offensive,” she said on MSNBC. “The ‘c’ word is for Asian Americans like the ‘n’ word is for African Americans.”

ESPN editor Anthony Federico, who was fired on Sunday, told the New York Daily News that his headline — “Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-stopping Loss to Hornets” — had “nothing to do with me being cute or punny.”

“I’m so sorry that I offended people. I’m so sorry if I offended Jeremy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lin weighed in during an interview on Sunday, saying he did not believe the headline was intentionally written to reference the racial slur.

“I don’t think it was on purpose or whatever, but they have apologized and so from my end I don’t care anymore,” Lin said. “Have to learn to forgive and I don’t even think that was intentional. Or hopefully not.”

Federico told the Daily News he had used the phrase hundreds of times in headlines over the years, a fact Chu called “extremely sad.”

Chu said Monday, “And if he was using it all those times, that is extremely sad. The word was used since the 1880s to demean Chinese Americans and to deprive them of rights, and it is used on playgrounds specifically to humiliate and to offend Asian Americans. So I don’t know where he’s been all this time.”

Judy Chu

ESPN Jeremy Lin racial slur blasted by Judy Chu – Mackenzie Weinger

German Bank Offers ‘Islam-Compliant’ Investment


Last month, German bank WestLB rolled out a new “Islam-compliant” investment product named the Islamic Strategy Index Certificate. The value of the certificate is based on the value of the WestLB Islamic Deutschland Index, consisting of shares of ten German firms “whose business activities are consistent with the ethical rules of Islam.” The WestLB product prospectus explains that the Islamic Strategy Index Certificates “are certified by the Central Council of Muslims in Germany as Islam-compliant [Islam konformes] investment.” The Central Council of Muslims in Germany is an umbrella group of twenty-two Muslim organizations.

The prospectus goes on to explain that “for the selection [of stocks] it is in principle not permitted that the business activity of the chosen firms involve interest-bearing financial services or derivatives, insurance, alcohol, tobacco, pork, armaments, gambling, gold and silver hedging transactions, or the entertainment industry.” The firms making up the Islamic Deutschland Index are some of the biggest names in German industry, including the sporting goods manufacturer Adidas, the engineering group Siemens, the software maker SAP, the chemical giant BASF, the pharmaceutical company Bayer, and the energy companies E.ON and RWE. Deutsche Post, of which the German state remains the principal shareholder, also forms part of the index. In addition to providing postal services in Germany, Deutsche Post is the parent company of the international package sender DHL.

German Bank Offers ‘Islam-Compliant’ Investment | The Weekly Standard

Islamists in Egypt halt filming of TV series

Islamist students halted the filming of an Egyptian television series at Cairo’s Ain Shams University protesting against the “indecent” clothing of the actresses, the production company said Thursday.

Misr International films had obtained permission from the university’s management to film on site, the head of the company, Gaby Khoury, told AFP.

But “when the shooting started, the director of the engineering faculty, Sherif Hammad, came to tell us that some students and teachers were against it, because of the clothing worn by the actresses,” he said.

The series, adapted from the novel “Dhat” by Egyptian author Sonallah Ibrahim, takes place in the 1970s, “when women wore short clothing.”

Hammad “insisted that the filming should stop and that we would be reimbursed … explaining that he was not able to guarantee the protection of the materials or the artists,” Khoury added.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, the production company said “the student members of the Muslim Brotherhood at Ain Shams University had prevented the film crew from the ‘Dhat’ TV series from shooting the scenes set at the university.”

The students had objected to the “indecent” clothing, it said, and “categorically refused” to let the filming continue unless the costumes were changed.

Islamists have become a potent force in Egypt’s already conservative society in recent years, and won more than two-thirds of the seats in the recent parliamentary elections.

Islamists in Egypt halt filming of TV series

Moroccan gets 3 years for anti-king video

A Moroccan court has convicted a student of “violating the sacred values” of the kingdom and sentenced him to three years in prison after a video posted online showed him criticizing the king, the state news agency reported Tuesday.

Abdelsamad Haydour, from Taza, a mountain town 187 miles (300 kilometers) east of the capital that has been a hot spot for violent protests, accused King Mohammed VI of oppressing his people in the 4-minute clip, and also called the monarch a dog, a dictator and a murder.

The monarchy has tolerated widespread protests over the last year, but the latest incident shows that there are still limits to the kind of criticisms permitted.

The video, available on, showed the 24-year-old talking with a friend outside on the street, surrounded by a group of young people. At one point, Haydour points to the camera while making his statements.

“For years they have just been educating us to be consumers and buy the products of the colonizers and their representatives in Rabat,” the Moroccan capital, said Haydour, who also was fined $1,250.

Morocco’s king once was constitutionally considered sacred but under amendments passed in 2011 in response to pro-democracy protests, the wording has been toned down: His person is now described as “inviolable and respect is due him.”

On Feb. 7, another young Moroccan also was charged with attacking “sacred values” when he posted on Facebook mocking cartoons of the king. His trial is pending.

Moroccan gets 3 years for anti-king video

Egyptian Actor Adel Imam Sentenced for insulting Islam

Adel Imam

Adel Imam, probably the top comedian in the Arab world  for the last forty years (along with Sameer Ghanem who is from a Coptic Background) , is now under threat from Islamists who swept the “Arab Spring” elections. Imam is from a Muslim background and has a light smile surrounding him wherever he went. He is a much loved actor. However, Islamists are now in power, and Imam’s  funny acts and jokes are not a welcome sight by Islamists, even though they are much welcomed by most people.

Imam received a three-month jail sentence for insulting Islam in films and plays, a court document showed on Thursday.

Reuters  – Imam, who has frequently poked fun at authorities and politicians of all colors during a 40-year career, has one month to appeal the sentence and will remain out of jail until the appeal process is concluded.

The sentence Wednesday evening came weeks after Islamists swept most seats in a parliamentary election. The case was brought by Asran Mansour, a lawyer with ties to Islamist groups, and had languished in court for months, judicial sources said.

Mansour accused the actor of offending Islam and its symbols, including beards and the Jilbab, a loose-fitting garment worn by some Muslims, the Egyptian news portal Ahramonline reported.

Egyptian Actor Adel Imam Sentenced for insulting Islam |

Cincinnati High School Paying Students To Come To School

A Cincinnati high school is paying its students to come to school.

The Dohn Community High School has launched a $40,000 incentive program to get students to come to class.

The school’s CEO Ken Furrier told CBS Cleveland that students will get Visa gift cards for showing up everyday for school, being on time for class and not getting into trouble. Seniors would get $25 while underclassmen would get $10.

The school would also put $5 into a savings account for the student that earns a gift card.

“Our student population is 90 percent poverty,” Furrier told CBS Cleveland. “Money is important to them. We can’t teach them if they’re not here.”

Despite taking criticism for the program, Furrier brushes it aside.

“I think the thing that many parents have to realize is that these kids are very poor,” Furrier said. “They don’t have all the benefits suburban kids have.”

Dohn students have come around to the idea, excited about being rewarded for coming to school.

“I’m very excited to get the money,” 16-year-old student Arneqka Lester told the paper. “It makes me want to come to school on time, not that I don’t. But some students don’t have the money and this will help them. It’s a good idea.”

The school is trying out this new idea after the Ohio Department of Education designated the school an “academic emergency” on its report card. About 14 percent of students graduated from Dohn during the 2010-2011 school year.

Furrier said the program — which began Monday — has already seen benefits. Class attendance yesterday was up by 15 percent compared to Friday.

Cincinnati High School Paying Students To Come To School « CBS Cleveland