The fight to raise the minimum wage is going local.
Congress failed to raise the minimum wage for the fifth year straight in July. Today, the federal wage floor of $7.25 is worth 30 percent less than the minimum wage of 1968, which was only $1.60. But thankfully, states and cities are realizing the dire need for action. Here are five cities that are in heated battles over raising the minimum wage:
1) Seattle. Seattle made national news this summer when it voted for a $15 minimum wage. This is a marked increase from the statewide rate of $9.32, but is consistent with a living wage. However, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Restaurant Association have joined a lawsuit brought by the International Franchise Association seeking to halt implementation. Most recently, an organizer asked for $1.1 million to stop the increase.
2) San Diego. The San Diego City Council raised the minimum wage this month, but Mayor Kevin Faulconer vetoed the action. With a poll showing 63 percent support of the raise, the City Council fired back last week, overriding the veto and enacting the stepped increase to $11.50. Now, opponents are circulating petitions for a ballot measure to reverse course. While organizers need 34,000 signatures for their petition, there are allegations that the sponsors are misleading voters.
3) Los Angeles. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has reportedly circulated a proposed increase in the city’s minimum wage around to business leaders in recent weeks. Earlier this summer, the city saw debate over hotel workers’ wages. Garcetti is now expected to announce his plan on Labor Day: a gradual increase to $13.25 over three years, with annual inflation-based increases. Business leaders have yet to release their position.
4) San Francisco. San Francisco made history 11 years ago as the first city to raise its own minimum wage. Residents will again be asked to increase the wage this November, but this time to $15. In fact, there are several ballot initiatives throughout the Bay Area making similar increases. A recent report from researchers at UC Berkeley says that the $15 minimum would help almost a fourth of the city’s workforce.
5) Chicago. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is forging ahead and pushing for a citywide increase to $13. Though all Illinois voters will see a non-binding referendum on a $10 minimum wage, Emanuel now plans to take action regardless of the how the state legislature moves forward. 84% of Chicagoans support the increase to $13 and even among those who make over $100k annually, support is strong at 71%.
Whether your roof is brand-new or years old, here’s what you need to do to keep it in the best possible shape for the longest possible time. A new roof is an expensive proposition — $18,800 on average for composition shingles, according to Remodeling magazine’s Cost Vs. Value Report, and as much as $36,000 for high-end materials. Once you’ve made that kind of investment, you’ll want to protect it.
And even if your roof is years old, maintaining it in good shape will prolong its life and keep you from having to replace it prematurely. Here’s what you need to do to get the most from your roof.
Clean the Gutters- Ruined paint on siding and a wet basement are typical problems caused by clogged gutters, but it might surprise you to learn that the overflow can also go upward. When leaves pile too deeply in gutters, water can wick into roof sheathing and rot it, or even rot roof rafters.
Fixing that kind of damage could run into the thousands of dollars, but you can avoid it by cleaning your gutters each fall and spring. Do it yourself in a few hours if you’re comfortable working on a ladder, or hire a pro for $50-$250, depending on house size.
Remove Leaves – If you have a simple peaked roof surrounded by low landscaping, your roof probably stays clear of leaves on its own. But if the roof is more complicated or if towering trees are nearby, piles of leaves probably collect in roof valleys or near chimneys. If you don’t remove them, they will trap moisture and gradually decompose, allowing moisture to accumulate in your roof — or worse, create fertile ground for weeds to grow.
If you have a low-slope roof and a one-story house, you may be able to pull the leaves down with a soft car-washing brush on a telescoping pole. Or you can use a specialty tool like a roof leaf rake, which costs about $20. A leaf blower gets the job done too, especially on dry leaves, but you or a pro needs to go up on the roof to use it.
If leaves are too wet or too deep, you might need to wash them off with a garden hose. Don’t use a pressure washer, which can force water up under the shingles.
Get Rid of Moss -In much of the country, composition roofs often become covered with black algae. Although unsightly, this filmy growth doesn’t hurt the roof. A little chlorine bleach or detergent mixed with water will kill it, but it’s safer for both you and the roof to just leave it alone.
If you live in the Northwest, you’re likely to find moss growing on your roof, particularly on wood or composition shingles. Moss, which looks more three-dimensional than algae, needs to go because it traps water. If you tackle it early enough, you can just sweep it off. If there’s a lot of buildup, you may need to kill the moss first, apply the soap only where moss is growing, and try to keep the wash water from getting into storm drains.
Once the roof is clean and free of moss, consider investing in zinc strips to keep it from coming back. For about $300, a roofer will install strips near the top of the roof. When it rains, the runoff from the strips inhibits the growth of moss. It’s effective and more environmentally friendly than treating the entire roof with pesticide, as long as you don’t live near a stream or a lake where the runoff can harm aquatic life.
Trim Overhanging Branches –A little prevention in the form of tree-trimming goes a long way toward keeping leaves and moss off your roof and keeping your roof damage-free. Abrasion from limbs and leaves that touch your roof can eventually damage shingles, especially in high winds.
Overhanging branches also give squirrels and other rodents access to your roof. They can gnaw on your roof and siding. Branches need to be 10 feet away from your roof to keep these pests at bay. If that’s not possible, wrap the tree trunk with a sheet-metal bank to prevent them from climbing the tree. Trimming branches that hang over the roof is a job for a pro, though, or you might cause more damage than you prevent.
Prevent Ice Dams- </strong If you’re plagued by ice buildup on the roof, removing some or all of the snow between storms might forestall leaks into your house. Don’t try to pry off ice that’s already formed, since that could damage the roof. Use a roof rake to dislodge snow within three or four feet of the gutters. Get a telescoping pole and work from the ground, if possible. If you must be on a ladder, work at an angle so the falling snow doesn’t push you over.
Inadequate insulation and air leaks into your attic greatly increase the risk of ice dams, so once the storms pass, address those problems, too.
Look and Listen- After every big wind or hail storm, or if you’ve heard scurrying on the roof at night, give your roof a quick check to make sure everything’s still intact.
Look for: Curling, loose, or missing shingles- Damaged flashing around vents, chimneys, skylights, and other openings If anything seems amiss, ask a roofer to inspect ASAP. Most problems are fairly easy to fix, but if you put them off and water gets in, the damage and costs escalate. You don’t have to climb a ladder to inspect your roof. You can use binoculars.
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Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/4843448
Here are some tips on what to look out for when using public Wi-Fi, whether you use a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
Choose your network wisely:Tempted to connect to that elusive “Free Wi-Fi” hotspot? It’s worth doing your homework before selecting any network that’s open or not familiar to you. For example, if you’re in a coffee shop or public library, make sure to verify the name of the network with staff or on signage before connecting.
It’s pretty easy for someone who wants to intercept your data in a man-in-the-middle attack to set up a network called “Free Wi-Fi”, or any other variation that includes a nearby venue name, to make you think it’s a legitimate source.
If you are connecting via Windows, make sure to turn off file sharing and mark the Wi-Fi connection as a public network. You can find this option in the Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Change Advanced Sharing Settings. Under the Public heading, turn off the file sharing toggle. You may also want to turn on the Windows Firewall when connecting to a public network if it’s not already activated. These settings are also found in Control Panel > Windows Firewall.
On Mac, open up System Preferences and navigate to the Sharing icon. Then, untick the checkbox next to File Sharing. Here’s a full rundown on how to disable sharing and removing public home folder sharing options in OS X.
Use a VPN
Creating a virtual private network (VPN) is one of the best ways to keep your browsing session under wraps. A VPN client encrypts traffic between your device and the VPN server, which means it’s much more difficult for a would-be intruder to sniff your data.
Between five and ten migrant children have been killed since February after the United States deported them back to Honduras, a morgue director told the Los Angeles Times. Lawmakers have yet to come up with best practices to deal with the waves of unaccompanied children apprehended by Border Patrol agents, but some politicians refute claims that children are fleeing violence and are opting instead to fund legislation that would fast-track their deportations.
San Pedro Sula morgue director Hector Hernandez told the Los Angeles Times that his morgue has taken in 42 dead children since February. According to an interview with relatives by the LA Times, one teenager was shot dead hours after getting deported. Last year, San Pedro Sula saw 187 killings for every 100,000 residents, a statistic that has given the city the gruesome distinction as the murder capital of the world. That distinction has also been backed up by an U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency infographic, which found that many Honduran children are on the run from extremely violent regions “where they probably perceive the risk of traveling alone to the U.S. preferable to remaining at home.” Hugo Ramon Maldonado of the Committee for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras believes that about 80 percent of Hondurans making the exodus are fleeing crime or violence.
Since October 2013, Border Patrol agents have apprehended about 63,000 unaccompanied children and another 63,000 “family units” (adults and children) at the southern U.S. border. While a steady stream of deported immigrants are flown back to Honduras about three times per week, the United States sent its first planeload of about 40 Honduran mothers and children from this particular wave in mid-July. Those individuals were dropped off in Honduras’ capital San Pedro Sula.
Politicians like Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) have been keen on expediting the legal process by demanding that immigration judges make a court decision within seven days. But that move could undermine children’s rights by denying due process to children who already don’t understand the courtroom procedures. As Vox found out, one teenage girl told a border agent that she was afraid of being forced into prostitution only after her paperwork had been filed.
According to a United Nations report, at least 58 percent of the children cited “international protection needs” as in they were seeking protection from the international community because their home governments could no longer protect them. And at least 40 percent of apprehended children are eligible for some form of legal relief from removal, a 2012 Vera Institute report found.
Both the U.S. and Honduras governments have allocated funds to help repatriated immigrants stay in Honduras. In June, the White House stated that it would devote $18.5 million to “support community policing and law enforcement efforts to confront gangs and other sources of crime.” And the Honduran First Lady Ana Garcia de Hernandez committed to new governmental programs that are “aimed at improving the lives of those who are sent back and giving others a reason to stay.” Some deportees are rightfully skeptical since the Honduran government hasn’t exactly funded programs meant for repatriated immigrants: Valdete Wileman who runs the Center for Returned Migrants in San Pedro Sula said that the government hardly helps maintain her center.
Still, deportations — and sometimes certain death — will likely not stop. Especially jarring comes recent news out of a New Mexico immigration detention center where multiple lawyers representing women claim that the Honduran consulate is advising immigrants “to forego legal counsel and consent to deportation,” according to a Santa Fe affiliated public radio station.
Home not selling? That could happen for a number of reasons you can’t control, like a unique home layout or having one of the few homes in the neighborhood without a garage. There is one factor you can control: your home price. These six signs may be telling you it’s time to lower your price.
1. You’re drawing few lookers —-You get the most interest in your home right after you put it on the market because buyers want to catch a great new home before anybody else takes it. If your real estate agent reports there have been fewer buyers calling about and asking to tour your home than there have been for other homes in your area, that may be a sign buyers think it’s overpriced and are waiting for the price to fall before viewing it.
2. You’re drawing lots of lookers but have no offers— If you’ve had 30 sets of potential buyers come through your home and not a single one has made an offer, something is off. What are other agents telling your agent about your home? An overly high price may be discouraging buyers from making an offer.
3. Your home’s been on the market longer than similar homes——Ask your real estate agent about the average number of days it takes to sell a home in your market. If the answer is 30 and you’re pushing 45, your price may be affecting buyer interest. When a home sits on the market, buyers can begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with it, which can delay a sale even further. At least consider lowering your asking price.
4. You have a deadline—-If you’ve got to sell soon because of a job transfer or you’ve already purchased another home, it may be necessary to generate buyer interest by dropping your price so your home is a little lower priced than comparable homes in your area. Remember: It’s not how much money you need that determines the sale price of your home, it’s how much money a buyer is willing to spend.
5. You can’t make upgrades—-Maybe you’re plum out of cash and don’t have the funds to put fresh paint on the walls, clean the carpets, and add curb appeal. But the feedback your agent is reporting from buyers is that your home isn’t as well-appointed as similarly priced homes. When your home has been on the market longer than comparable homes in better condition, it’s time to accept that buyers expect to pay less for a home that doesn’t show as well as others.
6. The competition has changed—-If weeks go by with no offers, continue to check out the competition. What have comparable homes sold for and what’s still on the market? What new listings have been added since you listed your home for sale? If comparable home sales or new listings show your price is too steep, consider a price reduction.
6 Tips for Buying a Home in a Short Sale
When sellers need to sell their home for less than they owe on their mortgage, they’re shooting for a short sale. Short sale homes can sometimes be bargains, but only if you do your homework, stay patient, and remain unemotional during the sometimes lengthy and difficult short sale process.Here are six tips for protecting yourself emotionally and financially when bidding on a short sale.
1. Get help from a short sale expert
A real estate agent experienced in short sales can identify which homes are being offered as short sales, help you determine a purchase price, and advise you on what to include in your offer to make the lender view it favorably. Ask agents how many buyers they’ve represented in short sales and, of those, how many successfully closed the transaction.
2. Build a team
Ask agents to recommend real estate attorneys knowledgeable in short sales and title experts. A title officer can do a title search to identify all the liens attached to a property you’re interested in. Because each lienholder must consent to a short sale, a property with multiple liens, like first and second mortgages, mechanic’s and condominium liens, or homeowners association liens, will be harder to purchase.A title search may cost $250 to $300 up front, but it can help weed out less desirable properties requiring multiple approvals.
3. Know the home’s fair market value
By agreeing to a short sale, lenders are consenting to lose money on the loan they made to the sellers to purchase the home. Their goal is to keep those losses as low as possible. If your offer is dramatically less than the home’s fair market value, it may be rejected. Your agent can help you identify the price that’s good for you. The lender will determine whether approval is in its best interest.
4. Expect delays
There are two stages to a short sale. First, the sellers must consent to your purchase offer. Then they must submit it to their lender, along with documentation to convince the lender to agree to the sale. The lender approval process can take weeks or months, even longer if the lender counteroffers. Expect bigger delays if several lienholders are involved; each can make a counteroffer or reject your offer.
5. Firm up your financing
Lenders will weigh your ability to close the transaction. If you’re preapproved for a mortgage, have a large downpayment, and can close at any time, they’ll consider your offer stronger than that of a buyer whose financing is less secure.
6. Avoid contingencies
If you must sell your current home before you can close on the short-sale property, or you need to close by a firm deadline, your offer may present too many moving parts for a lender to approve it. Also, consider ordering an inspection so you’re fully informed about the home. Keep in mind that lenders are unlikely to approve an offer seeking repairs or credits for such work. You’ll probably have to purchase the home “as is,” which means in its present condition.
This article includes general information about tax laws and consequences, but isn’t intended to be relied upon by readers as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice; tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.
(Houselogic, March 2010)