BBB warns of phony sweepstakes letter

first_imgThe Better Business Bureau is warning the public to beware of letters supposedly from Publishers Clearing House which claim that they have won a grand prize drawing of $1 million. Despite how official the letters might look, the recipient is the target of a widespread scam that is seeing a sudden resurgence across the country. “Perhaps, not surprisingly, the increased prevalence of this scam comes on the heels of the actual Publishers Clearing House awarding a New Jersey woman $5,000 a week for the rest of her life,” Michael Clayton, President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Southeast Texas, said. “Scammers often steal their hooks from the headlines and operate in the wake of newsworthy events, such as Publishers Clearing House giving out a prize, because they know it’ll be on top of people’s minds.” How the scam operates is that victims receive a letter supposedly from Publishers Clearing House claiming that they have won $1 million as the second place winner of a drawing sponsored by Reader’s Digest Magazine. The letter is accompanied by a check for as much as $5,900 with instructions to call the Publishers Clearing House representative listed in the letter. Over the phone, the victims are told that, in order to receive their prize, they must cash the check and then wire approximately $4,000 to Publishers Clearing House and then the rest of the winnings will be sent to them. The check, however, is fraudulent and any money wired to the scammers cannot be recovered. Since early March, reports of the Publishers Clearing House scam have come in from 19 states including California, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Not only are letters popping up in mailboxes, but some people report receiving phone calls from scammers pretending to be with Publishers Clearing House as well. While this scam predominantly takes advantage of individuals, business owners also need to be aware that their company’s name could potentially be used by fraudsters to pull off this con. The fraudulent checks sent to the supposed prize winners with the letter are copies of checks from legitimate businesses which have been stolen by the scammers. Businesses located in Alabama, California, Kansas and West Virginia have discovered that their checks — which included their name, address and even account number — were reproduced as part of the scam. For more information on the Publishers Clearing House scam, please contact Alison Southwick at 703-247-9376. In Southeast Texas, visit www.bbb.org or call 835-5348 or 800-685-7650.last_img read more


State Bicycle Co. Black Label V2 offers big fun for a little price

first_imgGood bicycles are rarely accused of being affordable, but State Bicycle Co. of Tempe, Arizona has built a business keeping riders on good looking bikes that don’t break the bank. Their Core line of bikes starts at a buck under $300 and the newly updated Black Label V2 furthers their dedication to bang-for-buck bicycles.As the name implies, the State 6061 Black Label V2 is built around an aluminum frame similar to what’s been in their lineup for several years. The new frame retains the aerodynamic tube shapes and track-inspired geometry of its predecessor, but now includes a tapered headtube and carbon fiber fork to further improve stiffness and handling, two traits the bike was already known for.The second generation Black Label bike is also fitted with upgraded wheels with sealed bearing hubs and a new CNC machined crank which lends the bike a more refined aesthetic. Available with compact drop bars or a wide riser flat-bar, the customizable options don’t stop there. Choose from a number of add-on items and upgrades like a Brooks saddle or carbon fiber tri-spoke front wheel. Available in five sizes and four colors including purple, army green, raw aluminum, and matte black, the base model Black Label V2 clocks in at just $639. For riders and commuters not ready to go full fixie, the rear flip/flop hub accommodates a singlespeed freewheel and each bike ships with uninstalled front and rear brakes. Bottle cage mounts are there for extended ride times. If you’re of the part-collecting ilk with a closet full of bike components needing a purpose, the Black Label V2 can be purchased as just a frame and fork for $299.StateBicycle.comSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSavelast_img read more


Danielle Brooks to Play Gospel Legend Mahalia Jackson in New Movie Directed by Kenny Leon

first_imgJackson, who died on January 27, 1972, was often called the Queen of Gospel. Throughout her life, she performed for racially integrated audiences from Carnegie Hall to rallies in Washington, D.C.  alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, she was posthumously inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1973.Last seen on the New York stage in Leon’s Shakespeare in the Park staging of Much Ado About Nothing, Brooks earned a Tony Award nomination and a Theatre World Award for her fiery turn as Sofia in the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple. She is a Screen Actors Guild Award winner for her ensemble work as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on Orange Is the New Black. Brooks is also an executive producer on the Broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud. She is a co-founder of Black Women on Broadway, which celebrates the legacy of Black women in the theater industry. Danielle Brooks will star in Lifetime’s new film The Mahalia Jackson Story. The Tony nominee will portray the gospel legend and civil rights activist and reunite with her Much Ado About Nothing director Kenny Leon, according to Deadline.  Star Files Director Kenny Leon (Photo by Emilio Madrid for Broadway.com) View Comments Danielle Brooks(Photo: Emilio Madrid for Broadway.com) Danielle Brookslast_img read more


TD Bank: Most small businesses lost money, but didn’t close

first_imgSupply chain disruptions: 21% TD Bank,An overwhelming 81% of small businesses lacked a crisis plan prior to the pandemicVermont Business Magazine TD Bank today released new data from its 2020 Small Business Recovery Survey(link is external). The annual survey polled 750 small business owners (SBOs), including 153 SBOs in the Northeast, earning $10 million or less in annual revenue about their overall business outlook and plans in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.Most notably, the survey found that the majority (61%) of Northeast SBOs (in NY, NJ, PA, MA, CT, RI, ME, NH and VT) project a decrease in revenue due to the impact of COVID-19, despite 39% reporting that they did not have to close for any period of time due to the pandemic. Business owners in the NE were more likely than other regions to say that their revenue will decline significantly, with 47% of respondents in the area stating they will have 2020 revenue losses of more than 10% due to the pandemic.Additional key insights from the survey include:Northeast SBOs were not properly prepared to handle the challenges of the pandemic, with an overwhelming 84% of Northeast SBOs saying they did not have a disaster or crisis plan in place prior to COVID-19. External factors are the ‘next wave’ that may impact business with SBOs in the Northeast reporting that top challenges are the health of the local economy (46%), getting paid on time (29%), and the presidential election / potential associated regulatory changes (25%). 20% temporarily or permanently laid off staff 28% added work from home capabilities 13% moved their business online 27% reduced operating hours What’s more, only half of respondents reported making any business adjustments to better serve their customers or clientele, although millennial and Gen Z business owners (ages 18-39) were nearly twice as likely as Gen X and baby boomer SBOs to make changes to accommodate customers during this time. SBOs who did modify operations for their customers added virtual functions like appointments/telehealth or conferences (25%); created a new delivery or pick-up service (15%); and developed e-commerce/online sales (11%).”Owning and operating a small business is full of challenges in good and bad times, but COVID-19 has presented unforeseen and unique circumstances over a longer time period than most business owners have ever experienced,” said Chris Giamo, Head of Commercial Bank, TD Bank. “Those business owners who are willing and able to adapt their business model and overall mindset are the ones who are better positioned to weather these unprecedented times.”Uncertainty lies aheadSBOs expressed mixed sentiments related to their financial outlook and external factors that could affect their business operations. Fifty-five percent stated they will seek funding but just 7% of participants expressed concern about their ability to obtain a loan in the next year. The top near-term challenges for SBOs are: Despite this, Northeast SBOs proved more nimble than the rest of the U.S., with 75% making changes in their business operations to adapt to the COVID-19 environment. Of the 75% that made changes: 31% set up work from home capabilities, 33% reduced their hours of operation and 27% made staff layoffs. Getting paid on time or without significant delays (not more than 30 days): 25% Uncertainty still lies ahead for many Northeast small businesses, with 55% of Northeast SBOs seeking funding.Across the nation, more than half (58%) of small business owners (SBOs) report they expect their revenue to decrease in 2020, even though 47% stated they did not have to close for any amount of time during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to TD Bank results. Conversely, just 16% of SBOs expect to see any increase in revenue in 2020, while 26% project it will stay the same.Businesses with annual revenues of $500,000 or less, which comprised 59% of the survey respondents, were more likely than those with higher annual revenues to state that they expect significant 2020 revenue decreases (loss of 10% or more), with 38% of this group making such projections.Many SBOs have sought assistance. Forty-three percent of survey respondents participated in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Of those businesses in the survey that received a PPP loan, 60% have annual revenues of $1 million or less.Little planning or pivotingSmall businesses were ill-equipped to cope with the challenges of COVID-19, according to survey data. An overwhelming 81% of SBOs said they did not have a disaster or crisis plan prior to pandemic shutdowns. Further, 31% of respondents did not make any changes to business operations or strategy to adapt to the circumstances. Of the 69% of SBOs that reported implementing one or more changes: Presidential election and potential regulatory changes: 24% 18% incurred extra costs for additional cleaning Health of economy (national and local): 69% When thinking about the future, the majority of SBOs (69%) acknowledged that they need to prioritize building stable financing and cash reserves, enhancing their business model flexibility, and improving budgeting and accounting methods to cut costs to better prepare for future crises. While a large opportunity also exists for SBOs to digitize their payment methods in a time when fewer consumers want to handle cash due to health concerns, only 15% of businesses identified this as a future priority. In fact, 75% of small businesses reported accepting cash and checks, making it the overwhelmingly preferred method of point of sale (POS) or vendor payments, while only a third use electronic payments such as ACH and 28% use either a cloud-based or traditional POS system to process credit card payments.”A business owner’s banker should be a primary resource for financing ideas and solutions to optimize business plans and operations,” said Jay DesMarteau, Head of Commercial Distribution, TD Bank. “The pandemic has accelerated consumers’ and vendors’ expectations to have more options available when working with businesses of any size, from contactless payments to remote purchasing. By working with trusted professionals like a bank, accountant or attorney, business owners can gain insights that could help drive efficiencies and better long-term plans.”Survey Methodology  The study was conducted among a representative group of 750 small business owners across the United States from June 5-11, 2020. The survey was hosted by global research company ENGINE INSIGHTS.About TD BankTD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 9.5 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,220 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. To learn more, visit www.td.com/us(link is external). Find TD Bank on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDBank(link is external) and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US(link is external).TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol “TD”. To learn more, visit www.td.com/us(link is external).Source: CHERRY HILL, N.J., July 23, 2020 — TD Banklast_img read more


Ironman Western Australia 2013 fills

first_img Related Set in beautiful Busselton, general entry for SunSmart Western Australia 2013 is now closed. The event has reportedly filled in record time; this follows the rapid hitting of capacity this time last year. Although, ‘Smiling for Smiddy’ charity spots are still available for next year’s event, via the official charity of SunSmart Ironman Western Australia.Next year’s event takes place on 8 December 2013.Recognized around the world for the spectacular swim course that goes around Busselton’s record-setting jetty (the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere), SunSmart Ironman Western Australia is a popular choice for first-time Ironman athletes, and those after a fast time, thanks to the flat and speedy three-loop bike course, which is followed by an equally flat, spectator-friendly, four-loop run course.In addition to the great course, Busselton is a popular holiday spot featuring everything from vineyards to snorkelling (and even whale watching), making it a great destination race for athletes and their families.SunSmart Ironman Western Australia takes place in picturesque Busselton, Western Australia, approximately a 2.5 hour drive south of Perth. There are 40 qualifying slots for the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i.Smiling for Smiddy charity spotsAthletes can still join the ‘Smiddy’ team and receive guaranteed entry to race in Busselton. The focus at SunSmart Ironman Western Australia is on melanoma awareness and raising much needed funds for research that has a national and international impact.All Ironman Western Australia athletes are encouraged to make their Ironman about more than the finish line and support potentially life-saving research into the causes, prevention and improved treatments of this devastating disease.www.ironmanwesternaustralia.comwww.ironman.comlast_img read more


Board approves 2018-19 calendar that has Shawnee Mission classes starting Friday, Aug. 10, ending Thursday, May 23

first_imgFor the second August in a row, Shawnee Mission elementary students, 7th graders and 9th graders will start their academic year on a Friday, a move that allows the district calendar to accommodate a full week break for the Thanksgiving holiday and ensure that classes are completed before Memorial Day.The 2018-2019 school calendar approved by the board of education at Monday’s meeting sets the first day of school for students in grades 1-6, 7 and 9 at Friday, Aug. 10. Students in grades 8 and 10-12 will begin classes Monday, Aug. 13. Pre-K and kindergarten classes will start Tuesday, Aug. 14.The last day of school for grades K-11 will be Thursday, May 23. Pre-K classes will end Wednesday, May 24.Associate Superintendent Rick Atha told the board Monday that next year’s calendar largely mirrors the one for this academic year, including the move toward having parent-teacher conferences in evening hours so as to allow for two additional days of instruction.“By and large, we’re getting pretty good feedback on the parent teacher conferences,”The approach used this year and for 2018-19 also eliminates the series of incomplete weeks that frustrated parents in 2016-17.Additionally, it allows for a full week break at Thanksgiving, with classes out from Nov. 19-23, 2018.Spring break will be March 11-15, 2019.The full calendar is embedded below.[gview file=”http://shawneemissionpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2019-2020DistrictCalendar.pdf”]last_img read more


United Community Services of Johnson County seeking public input on housing experiences and opinions in survey

first_imgUnited Community Services of Johnson County earlier this month released a survey to collect public input on the housing market of the county.As a joint effort with Johnson County and local cities, the Johnson County Municipalities Community Housing Survey allows people who live and/or work in Johnson County to share their experiences with housing, opinions on the current status of housing in the county and preferences for housing options across all stages of life.The survey is part of a countywide housing study already underway. UCS Johnson County will release the findings from the survey as part of the 2020 Johnson County Housing Market Study report, which will be used to draft a 10-year outlook on housing for local leaders to use for future policymaking.UCS Johnson County reported that in 2018, 20% of homeowners with a mortgage and 43% of renters were considered to be housing-cost burdened — or paying more than 30% of their gross income on housing.Julie Brewer, executive director of UCS, said increased housing costs impact the community in a number of ways.“When families pay increasingly larger proportions of their income on housing, they experience negative health impacts,” Brewer said. “These may include foregoing basic medical care, moving frequently or facing evictions, high stress levels that impact physical and mental health, long commute times, limited money for healthy foods, and a lack of quality social connections with family and friends.”The survey will be open through the end of July and is available online and paper in English and Spanish.Brewer said UCS will work with employers later this summer to offer workplace surveys for employees.Early results from the survey and data collection/analysis will be the focus of this year’s UCS Human Service Summit, which is set for Aug. 26 at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center.last_img read more


Home builder uses social media to attract buyers

first_imgLennar Arizona has just surpassed 250,000 “views” on YouTube, has nearly 5500 Facebook “likes”, and 4,000 Twitter followers.  In fact, social media has become such a critical component of the Valley home builder that it has created a new “I Team”, standing for Information, Integrity and Internet. The five member I-Team is a strategic addition to the marketing department and will dedicate themselves to the on-line dialogue with customers.In any given day, you can watch 30videos of their YouTube that take the viewer through a visual tour of any number of Lennar model homes available in Arizona, provide insights into the company’s innovations such as the new NextGen Home Within a Home® series, or point you in the direction to clear up a troubled credit score.Lennar has a number of communities in the greater Phoenix area including Montecito in El Mirage, San Tan Heights and Skyline Ranch in San Tan Valley, Lone Mountain in Cave Creek, Evans Ranch and Layton Lakes in Gilbert and Stetson Valley in Phoenix.In the era of 24-7, second by second streaming information, the communication begins long before that prospective buyer walks into the sales office. For the uninitiated, social media is a group of Internet, web based and mobile applications that have redefined the way many people communicate.  The user-generated content has put the general public in the forefront of defining the conversation, compared to the traditional methods such as newspapers, magazines, broadcast and websites that were controlled by professional journalists and company marketers.For buyers Linn and Kelly Shaw who purchased a Lennar home at the Layton Lakes community in Gilbert, the social media presence made their search process easy.  “The ability to look at financing options and view new model homes prompted me to look into Lennar as a builder.  I really enjoyed the YouTube videos of the models.  With my wife’s and my busy schedules, we didn’t have a lot of time to tour model homes or communities, so their social media content streamlined the process for us.  Access to the homes through the videos and online detail description of the homes was a huge benefit to us,” said Linn Shaw.Mike Lyon of the real estate sales training company Do You Convert says that content is the key in the success of social media.  “If the information a company presents is entertaining or educational, it will spread.”  And that’s the key.  “Social spaces are not about selling; it’s about educating and spreading information naturally, and Lennar was one of the first home builders to really commit to creating and spreading content,” he noted.A number of the big home builders have embraced social media, but Lennar has taken the communication to a higher level. The company has tremendous visibility online whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, FourSquare, or LinkedIn, Lennar is all over it. The company also has four very active blogs.“For several years now, Lennar has aggressively pursued the social media path.  “There is no question that our social media initiatives have created relationships that have led directly to home purchases,” said Mike Dowell, senior vice president of marketing for Lennar’s Arizona operations.Buyers who have utilized the social media connections often pass along those tools to friends. “I watch real estate closely and haven’t seen another builder do what Lennar does on-line.  It was so easy to share the Lennar YouTube videos with our friends who were also looking for a home,” homebuyer Lin Shaw added.The cultural shift is well underway. For many people of all ages, social media is becoming a preferred communication method. Social media is an effective way to communicate facts. “The customers seem to appreciate the ability to research the home opportunities on their own, and to review comments from current Lennar home owners via the company’s Facebook page, blog and other social media sites,” noted Dowell.A home builder with nationwide presence, at the national level Lennar has more than 800,000 YouTube views, over 200,000 “likes” on Facebook and over 130,000 followers on Twitter. Additionally, each of Lennar’s Divisions across the nation has a strong and growing social media presence in their respective markets.Lennar, founded in 1954, is one of the nation’s leading builders of quality homes for all generations. The company builds affordable, move-up, and retirement homes primarily under the Lennar brand name. The company has been building in Arizona for nearly 40 years and owns considerable land holdings in the state. For the latest Lennar information, visit any of the following: Lennar.com, Facebook.com/LennarPhoenix; Facebook.com/LennarTucson; YouTube.com/LennarPhoenix; YouTube.com/Lennar Tucson; Twitter.com/LennarPhoenix, Twitter.com/LennarTucson.last_img read more


Narcissists are not always risk-takers — despite what they say

first_imgEmail Maybe narcissists aren’t always such big risk-takers after all, a new study suggests.Many studies have found that narcissists often make volatile and risky decisions, possibly because they tend to have inflated views of their own abilities and achievements.But in a series of three experiments, researchers found that people who scored higher on measures of narcissism were no more likely than others to make risky choices in lab-based tasks. LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twittercenter_img The results surprised Amy Brunell, lead author of the study and associate professor of psychology at The Ohio State University at Mansfield.“I thought that narcissists, given that they are impulsive and have high opinions of themselves, would take bigger risks. That’s what other research would have suggested,” Brunell said.“But any association between narcissism and risk-taking that we found was very small and essentially meaningless.”One explanation for the discrepancy may be the fact that many of the studies linking narcissism and risk-taking were based on self-reports: Essentially, narcissists saying that they took risks in certain situations.But self-reports may not be the best way to measure risk-taking for this group, Brunell said.“When they’re asked, narcissists may brag about taking big risks because they’re showing off,” she said. “But their own behavior in our experiments doesn’t support their claims about being risk-takers.”Brunell conducted the study with Melissa Buelow, assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State at Newark. The results appear online in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making and will be published in a future print edition.The three experiments involved a total of 936 undergraduate students. Depending on the study, the researchers evaluated the participants with two different measures of narcissism. In one study, they also looked specifically at three narcissistic traits – grandiosity, entitlement and exploitativeness, to determine if any of them might have links to risky decision-making.Participants completed a variety of decision-making tasks to measure risk-taking. In one task, the students played a computer game in which they pumped up 30 balloons, earning 5 cents for each pump until they decided to stop. But if the balloon popped, they lost all the money.In the Iowa Gambling Task, participants were presented with four virtual decks of cards on a computer screen. With each card they chose, they won or lost money. Some decks were “good” decks in which they won more money and some decks were stacked with more losing cards.In these and other tasks, the researchers wanted to know how much people who score high on narcissism were willing to risk compared to those who scored lower.There were some slight differences in how people responded. For example, people who scored high on grandiosity (having an inflated sense of self-importance) were more likely to take risks in one of the experiments.But none of the differences was large enough to have real practical significance, Brunell explained.While there had been many self-report studies linking narcissism and risk-taking, Brunell said she could find only two other published papers that used lab experiments to examine whether there is such a link.That may be because there is a bias in academic publishing toward publishing significant results, she said. Not many studies are published that find no linkages between two variables, as this study does.“But in this case it is important to know that there is no relationship between narcissism and risky decision-making because it contradicts other research that used different methods,” Brunell said.However, she cautioned that this research doesn’t mean that narcissists shun risky decision-making in all situations. For example, this study included college students, who may not always act the same way as older adults.Also, in this research, the participants were taking risks that could hurt only themselves.“Narcissists may act differently in situations where the risks of their decisions are borne at least somewhat by other people,” she said. Share Pinterestlast_img read more


BDSM in the boardroom? More powerful people are more aroused by sadomasochism, study finds

first_imgNew research published in the journal Social Psychology & Personality Science has found that people with more social power are more likely to enjoy BDSM.The study of 14,306 men and women found that people in higher positions at work were more likely to be aroused by both sadistic and masochistic thoughts. As social power increased, women tended to be more aroused by sadism (inflicting pain on others) while men tended to be more aroused by masochism (having pain inflicted on oneself).PsyPost interviewed Joris Lammers of the University of Cologne about his research. Read his responses below: Share on Facebook LinkedIn PsyPost: Why were you interested in this topic?Lammers: I have always been interested in power because of my background in political science. I feel that power is one of the most important social psychological variables. Connecting this to sex is very exciting given the importance of sex to many people. Also, since Freud and others sex has always been one of the classic topics in psychology. So I have always been thrilled to connect these two very basic and important variables.What should the average person take away from your study?Power affects us in many more ways than people think. Power (at work, e.g. being a CEO or President) does not only affect what you do in the boardroom or at work but changes you as a person, thus also changing how you behave in other settings, even if they have nothing to do with work, such as in bed. What is the scope of the study? Are there any major caveats?The major caveat is the effect size: this is a huge sample (15,000, so 1 in every 1,000 Dutch participated!) and so this allows you to test very fine-grained effects. It is not the case that all powerful men and women are into BDSM; power only increases the odds a few percentages. But what is interesting is also the effects that are not there: there is certainly no evidence that power only affects men’s sexual behavior (and not women’s) or that men necessarily have to adopt the dominant role and women the submissive (as in Fifty Shades of Grey). Large sample sizes also allow you to show that certain things are not the case (which is often much harder than showing that something is the case).What questions still need to be addressed?Sex is such a multifaceted experience and there is still so much to discover. A very interesting and important question is how this affects downstream consequences. So power makes people more likely to engage in BDSM (and also other sexually liberating behaviors). I now want to know what that does to them in the long run and outside sex. Do they perform better as a result, etc.?The study, “Power and Sadomasochism: Understanding the Antecedents of a Knotty Relationship,” was co-authored by Roland Imhof. Pinterestcenter_img Share on Twitter Share Emaillast_img read more