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R.I.P.

John Walker, 67.

Charging the poor

I love how Tennessee thinks: Hey, we’re not ripping them off as much as the check-cashing places were, so that makes us the good guys!

WASHINGTON — Many states shortchange the jobless by distributing unemployment benefits on debit cards loaded with obnoxious fees, according to a new study by the National Consumer Law Center.

Of the 40 states that have switched from paper checks to prepaid debit cards, 22 states’ cards charge ATM fees, 24 charge balance inquiry fees, and 28 charge inactivity fees. The cards in Arkansas, Idaho, Nebraska, Ohio, and Oregon come with overdraft fees ranging from $10 to $20.

And in Connecticut, Iowa, Rhode Island, and Tennessee, cardholders “must pay for every ATM inquiry or pay a denied transaction fee if they request cash when their balance is insufficient,” the study says.

Tennessee stands out for having the card with the most “junk fees,” the study says. Tennessee’s card, provided by JPMorgan Chase, charges $1 for initial ATM withdrawals, 40 cents for balance inquiries, and 25 cents whenever someone swipes the card at checkout. It’s one of just four states that doesn’t provide even one free ATM withdrawal per deposit.

Tennessee doesn’t think its card’s fees are junk.

“I’m not sure calling them ‘junk fees’ is a fair statement,” said Jeff Hentschell, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Workforce Development, which distributes Tennessee Automated Payment cards for jobless benefits. “When you look at the context of where we were and where we are today, the fees are actually minimal compared to where people were going to cash paper checks before.”

I wonder which politicians are paying off which banker friends with these contracts?

Bedbugs

Oh dear. This isn’t good:

Anyone who has ever had a bedbug infestation knows full well what a nuisance the pests can be. Unlike ticks and mosquitoes, however, bedbugs, which feed on human blood, are not known to spread disease and are generally not viewed as a major public health threat.

But a peer-reviewed study published online Wednesday in a journal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the pests could play a role in disease transmission. In a tiny sample of bedbugs, collected from a small number of residents living in crowded conditions in a poor neighborhood in Canada, researchers found the drug-resistant bacterium known as MRSA.

Revolving door

Who could have predicted this from the rat’s nest that is Washington, D.C.?

Republican Federal Communications Commission commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker is planning to leave the agency for a job at Comcast Corp., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Ms. Baker is expected to announce her departure as soon as this week for an unknown position at the Philadelphia-based cable giant. Comcast declined to comment, a company spokeswoman said.

Ms. Baker did not respond to several emails and phone calls for comment.

[...] Baker’s move to Comcast comes just four months after she voted, along with three of the agency’s other FCC commissioners, to approve Comcast’s $13.75 billion deal to acquire control of NBC Universal from General Electric Co.

She’s funny that way

Erroll Garner:

How can you mend a broken heart

Al Green:

The first time ever I saw your face

Roberta Flack with the Ewan McColl classic:

Golden

Jill Scott:

Earthquake prediction

Who knows?

Tsk tsk

Despite the efforts of the past two popes to purge the ranks of liberals, there are still Catholics who believe in the teachings of social justice:

House Speaker John A. Boehner, a Republican who grew up in a devout Roman Catholic family in Ohio, is scheduled to give the commencement address this Saturday at the Catholic University of America in Washington, a prestigious venue in church circles for its affiliation with the nation’s bishops.

But now Mr. Boehner is coming in for a dose of the same kind of harsh criticism previously leveled at some Democrats — including President Obama — who have been honored by Catholic universities: the accusation that his policies violate basic teachings of the Catholic church.

More than 75 professors at Catholic University and other prominent Catholic colleges have written a pointed letter to Mr. Boehner saying that the Republican-supported budget he shepherded through the House of Representatives will hurt the poor, elderly and vulnerable, and therefore he has failed to uphold basic Catholic moral teaching.

“Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the Church’s most ancient moral teachings,” the letter says. “From the apostles to the present, the Magisterium of the Church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.”

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