20 Questions FEb. 25 issue

1. Did you watch the Oscars on Sunday?  2.  Does Beyonce’ think that she has to perform at EVERY function? 3. Was Inaugauration not enough for her? 4.She was lip-synching, wasn’t she? 5.  Did you think that Taraji P. Henson got robbed?   6. Why do people go to the gym 1 week before Spring Break and expect results? 7. Where was all of this ambition when you were eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts? 8. Why do teachers give homework during Spring Break? 9. Would they enjoy grading papers on their vacation? 10.  How many people went to the mall right before the Winston-Salem game on Saturday? 11. How do you feel about Chancellor Battle’s resignation? 12. Is that a PR answer or is it something else? 13. Didn’t we just get him last year or the year before? 14. How come we have had three chancellors in the last four years? 15. Did you know that the Men’s basketball team is #2 now? 16.  Shouldn’t Amber Bland be MEAC MVP by now? 17. Is BTJ trying to take it away from her? 18. Isn’t Coach Eaves a trip to watch during the game?19. Why does Blue Reign do the same routine every game? 20.  Did they think that we would not notice that they just changed the song and that’s it?

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FBI, police crack down on illegal sex trade in US locations

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI has rescued more than 45 suspected teenage prostitutes, some as young as 13, in a nationwide sweep to remove kids from the illegal sex trade and punish their accused pimps.Over a three-night initiative called Operation Cross Country, federal agents working with local law enforcement also arrested more than 50 alleged pimps, according to preliminary bureau data.The teenage prostitutes found in the investigation ranged in age from 13 to 17.Meanwhile, in Memphis, Tenn., a man pleaded guilty Monday to federal civil rights charges for sex trafficking in minors. Leonard Fox faces at least 10 years in prison after admitting that he arranged for underaged girls to engage in sex for money.”To sexually prey upon young girls in this manner for financial gain is particularly damaging to the victims and an affront to the society in which we live,” said Loretta King, acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.Historically, federal authorities rarely play a role in anti-prostitution crackdowns, but the FBI is becoming more involved as it tries to rescue children caught up in the business.”The goal is to recover kids. We consider them the child victims of prostitution,” said FBI Deputy Assistant Director Daniel Roberts.”Unfortunately, the vast majority of these kids are what they term ‘throwaway kids,’ with no family support, no friends.” Roberts said.Special Agent Melissa Morrow of the FBI’s Washington office said the operation has put them on the trail of a particular 16-year-old prostitute they still haven’t found.Adult prostitutes arrested during the operation provided key tips about the girl, the agent said.”She is currently 16 and started when she was 13. Now she is out there recruiting other juveniles as well,” said Morrow.Government prosecutors look to bring racketeering charges or conspiracy charges that can result in decades of jail time.”Some of these networks of pimps and their organizations are very sophisticated, they’re interstate,” said Roberts, requiring wiretaps and undercover sting operations to bring charges.The weekend’s roundup marked the third such Operation Cross Country.

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Runway turns corporate

Like it or not, fashion is everywhere.  Whether you get fresh, stay fly, or watch out for the trendiest new gear, you know what you like and exactly when you want to wear it.  But what if you had an interview?  Would you consider wearing what you normally wear to the club?  Or what if you were interested in attending a Ball on campus?  Would it be acceptable to wear sneakers or jeans?  Of course we know the answers are no, but what is the real appropriate dress code?On Wednesday, February 18th 2009, the senior class continued their Spring Career Fair by presenting A&T’s campus with Turn My Swag On: A Business Fashion Expose.  The event was held in Exhibit Hall in the Memorial Student Union from 7:30 until 9pm.  Hosted by Mr. Zed Tally of the Office of Career Services and preformed by Couture Productions and Verge Modeling Troupe, the fashion Expo’s sole purpose was to “Enlighten students on proper attire in a professional workplace.” In detail, “Turn My Swag On” educated students on “what to wear and what not to wear in a business atmosphere” according to Ashleigh Odom, the senior class Treasurer.  “It’s the year of change and the raise of standards.  This event should help students know what to wear to job interviews so that they can seal the deal.”The first occasion Mr. Talley introduced was Business Professional.  He explained, “When you have to go into professional environments there are guidelines that need to be followed.” A clean-cut shape-up and manicure is a perfect touch for fellas, while a French manicure or natural colored nails and hair is acceptable for females. Hair must be out of your face with the least amount of make-up keeping the look natural. One thing most females might not have known is that pants suits should be avoided.  Try skirts or dresses with skin tone stockings. The suit colors allowed for both sexes to wear are black, grey, and blue. Male button-up shirt can be white or light blue and female blouses can be white or pastel. In the other sections the dress code is more of less the same.  The Business Casual wardrobe depends on the company, environment, and occasion. Sweaters, jackets, and slacks can be worn by men as well as women. If you attend cocktail hour, Mr. Talley warned that “drinks are off limits.”  The expected costume is business casual.  Ladies try to wear studded earrings.  You can never go wrong with a simple string of pearls.  Lastly, at a business dinner, you can wear exactly what you would wear to a business professional occasion frankly because a meeting can possibly occur. Turn My Swag On: A Business Fashion Expose was an informative event everybody should have attended.  With the help of our own models of Couture Productions and Verge Modeling Troupe, the senior class taught the campus something else we should learn during a career fair.

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He fell down, but he got up

In sports, adversity is a common condition among athletes.  The ability to overcome adversity can lead to success or defeat.Athletes use many sources to aid in resilience, and for A&T basketball player Julian McClurkin it has been his faith that has helped him conquer the rocky roads to triumph throughout his basketball career. “I didn’t make an organized basketball team until my junior year in high school,” said McClurkin.”Every year I got cut. Seventh grade, eighth grade, ninth grade, tenth grade, and I was just about to give up. And then I hit a growth-spurt.”That growth-spurt became a blessing in disguise for the fifth-year senior who ended up playing varsity basketball in his senior high school season averaging 8 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. His efforts eventually landed him at Tiffin University, a Division II college in Tiffin, Ohio, and soon other trials would begin.The coach that recruited the now 6-8 forward left the university two years later leaving him on his own to unfamiliar coaches that resulted in decreased playing time.  “After my coach quit, I figured if I was going to sit the bench it was going to be somewhere I wanted to be,” said the 22-year older. “I didn’t want to be miserable so I took a chance coming to North Carolina A&T.”And the risk has proven itself worthy although McClurkin patiently had to wait his turn putting on a blue and gold uniform.In his first year at the University, the Columbus, Ohio native sat out from basketball due to NCAA transfer regulations, but sacrificed his time as a manger for the team.”My year sitting out I got up every morning at six o’clock and worked out,” he said.  He often kept in close contact with former Aggie Stand-out player Steven Rush, who provided a voice in helping him gain a roster spot.. “He wanted me on the team big time and sometimes campaigned me more than the coaches,” said McClurkin. Now in his second year as a first-year senior, McClurkin has become a starter on the team, and vital component in the Aggie quest for a MEAC Championship.But even McClurkin never saw this coming to past three years ago.” I never thought it was possible but through God all things are possible,” said the fifth-year senior.This reference to his religion is familiar to McClurkin’s teammates who know that his door is always open for inspiration on and off the court.And not only does he share his spiritual advice with teammates, he is also the leader of Church of the Living God (CLGI), a campus ministry that has Bible study every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. where he speaks weekly with students on campus.There may be something in McClurkin’s devotion. Ever since the team appointed him to the lead the Lord’s Prayer before the games against Winston Salem State Rams, the team won seven out of their last nine games including that game.That was also McClurkin’s season high 8 points, including two jaw dropping dunk over Ram defenders that erupted Lawrence Joel Coliseum in his breakout game.”I saw a lane to the goal, sprinted, and just went up,” he said.  “Plays like that bring an extra boost of energy to your teammates.Aggies head coach Jerry Eaves praised McClurkin’s athleticism after that game referring to him as “the most athletic player in conference,” and three weeks later McClurkin confirmed his words with another thundering dunk against Delaware State that landed number seven on ESPN’s top ten plays after last week’s game that was televised on ESPNU.”Before the game I told my teammates I was getting a top ten plays,” said McClurkin. “The Holy Spirit says name it and claim it and I gave God all the glory.”As long as he continues the electrifying dunks, the more momentum he can bring to his second place Aggies heading into the postseason.In McClurkin’s eyes, it’s the same incentive that got him to where he is in his basketball career today that’s going to help move them forward.”My motivation to keep doing what I’m doing is Jesus Christ,” he said. “That’s my motivation in everything.”

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Expression at the cost of professionalism

Today’s society is booming with a generation that firmly stands on grounds of freedom of expression and individuality. Brought up on the mindset that it’s okay to be different, things such as tattoos, piercing, and natural hair styles are second hand nature. But will this nature be accepted in the eyes of corporate America?Tattoos, piercing, and certain hairstyles have always been viewed as “unprofessional” in the eyes of the business world. But in the 21st century it is no longer uncommon to see people with multiple tattoos and piercings, dreadlocks and other certain styles. According to a survey from Harris Interactive, 13 percent of people 18-24 and 36 percent of those that are 25-29 have at least one tattoo. Sixteen percent of all Americans have at least one tattoo and 83 percent feel no regret. Half of all adults have pierced ears, while only five percent have a body piercing, and two percent with a face piercing. “I have 16 tats in all,” admits sophomore student Keith Crowder, a secondary history education major. “I went and got my first one when I was 17 which were the names of my great aunt and uncle. That’s how I got away with it and after that I just kept going.” Crowder admits that tattoos are very addictive to him but that each has its purpose on his body. “Every one has a meaning and they mean something to me. I don’t get any of that thug stuff,” he said. When asked of how he thinks people view him or how he’ll be viewed in the work force he admits he might have to hide them. “I guess I’ll just have to wear long sleeves,” he said. I don’t care what people think, I got them because I wanted to. I do believe that the workforce is more lenient and open. Back in the day it was almost like you killed someone if you had one.”Not too long ago, it was understood that if you wanted a good paying job you had to abide the business professional standards. This meant a short cut, limited facial hair, business attire for men, and straight, flat ironed hair for women with a certain skirt length. According to salary.com, “As body art becomes easier and safer to apply, the percentage of employees reporting to work with body art increases. However, most corporations do not have a policy in place, since it’s only recently that tattooing and piercing have become more mainstream. Companies need to look at how they are going to address this issue in the future,” according to the report. “Moreover, taking a candidate out of the running because of body art isn’t always practical. You’d obviously want to talk about the issue and reach some compromises. “Can the person do the job? If they are sitting in a computer lab, not dealing with clients, perhaps it doesn’t matter what they are wearing.”Career counselor Zebedee Talley III, informs his students that it’s fine to do these things, but to be aware of how people will perceive you. “You have to realize perception isn’t reality, but when it comes to an interview and a job, it can be,” Talley said. “They will make selections based on your appearance and how they perceive you. Of course we don’t tell them not to get these tattoos or piercings, but we give them the best advice. We want them to be strategic in where they place them so as to not be in easy view and to not be wrongfully perceived. Is it fair, no, but it happens.”Talley believes that some professions maybe more lenient to the differential look but students must do their research on that business. He also believes the professional viewpoint is being challenged.”Some fields maybe more lenient, but you should research the culture of the company. You might be able to get away with that extra piercing or wrist tattoo,” he said.  When I graduated in 99, professionalism started to be challenged. You saw more of business casual, polo’s, slacks, etc. I believe the information age will continue to challenge that.”Junior biology major, Minica Steele, who also has 16 tattoos as well as 4 piercings, two of which are located on her lip and cheek explains that she wants to be looked upon as a just a cool person and not for her tats.  “I went and got my first tattoo for my 18th birthday,” she said. “My mom really likes clowns, so I found a nice one and got it. After that I came up with another idea and went from there. I’ll admit I am strange but that’s just who I am. I didn’t get these for people, I got them for me. When you do stuff outside the box people will look at you funny or wonder what she was thinking.”Steele realizes that the business world will not look nicely upon her works of art and has come to terms with it. “The field I’m in, I do know I’ll have to wear long sleeves,” she said. It’s ok with me. A lot of people in my field have them but you don’t know. Its cold right now and people don’t know I have as many as I do unless they ask because I have them covered up.  But I might be changing my major to Fashion and it’s not really as big as a problem in that field. I just want people to be able to tell that I’m different before seeing my tats.”

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Cold Running Creek’ author visits campus

 For years, the Alpha Lambda Delta National Freshman Honor Society and the College of Arts and Sciences have held their annual colloquium series, but this year was the first for the Text-In-Community program to have the author personally present at A&T.Author Zelda Lockhart visited A&T on Thursday, Feb. 19 to speak about her novel, Cold Running Creek, which was also awarded a 2008 Honor Fiction Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Lockhart’s story centers on the livelihood and struggles of three generations of women of Native American and African American descent during the Civil War era.During the program, Lockhart presented the audience with a summary of the plot of Cold Running Creek, as well as a brief excerpt from the book.  Lockhart explained the concept of “internal freedom” and “external freedom” as it related to the general theme of the main characters’ individual struggles.”If you know who you are, you can find your place in this world,” Lockhart said of the major theme in her story.Following the author’s presentation, the floor was open to panel discussion and comments and questions from the audience.  The selected panel for the discussion was comprised of students and faculty members, including Assistant Professor Valerie Nieman and Bryon Turman from the Department of English, and Dr. Claude Barnes from the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice. Although the colloquium series is aimed specifically toward the incoming freshmen, the audience was filled with upperclassmen, other staff and faculty members, and people from the community as well. Shami Chimonyo, a sophomore political science major and the vice president of Alpha Lambda Delta, said she was pleased with the turnout and the outcome of the event.”We just put this program on to give students the opportunity to talk to an author of the Text-In-Community program,” said Chimonyo.  “We just wanted people to have the opportunity to come and interject, and have some wonderful discussion.  I’m honored actually just to have the opportunity to be in the presence of such a great author.” Sandrea Williamson, regional representative and advisor of the A&T Chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta, said she loved the book itself and she was also pleased with the success of the program. “I am so thrilled that so many freshmen had the chance to read this book,” said Williamson.  “It helped to get them early on in their careers used to the idea of intellectually exploring something with another group of scholars, I really liked the idea and this was a perfect way to do that.”Williamson stated that Lockhart had previously visited A&T for the summer Text-In-Community program in August to present Cold Running Creek. Lockhart said she was so pleased with the students and environment at A&T that she wanted to come back, so she returned to the university for the Spring semester as she said she would.  Lockhart also expressed her enjoyment of the program and the participant’s appreciation for her work.”I think that the instructor, the administrators and the students all showed such a depth of understanding of the book, and even those who hadn’t read the book, a willingness to think beyond our everyday lives and think toward the past and what we have been through as a country with the institution of slavery and also think toward the future of how we’re going to do things differently,” Lockhart said.  “I love coming to North Carolina A&T.  It’s just such a welcoming place, it’s just a wonderful feeling.”    Dr. Nita Dewberry, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the colloquium series, said she feels that the program is the perfect way for students to gain an in-depth understanding of literature.”We hope that we can continue to have that connection with authors and those associated with our Text-In-Community each year and grow so that our audience can grow each year,” Dr. Dewberry said.Williamson announced that next year the honor society is planning to have the colloquium based on the autobiography of Malcolm X.  Williamson stated that Alpha Lambda Delta is planning to invite one of Malcolm X’s daughters to the program to represent the deceased Civil Rights leader.

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Tuesday’s fat despite tight wallets

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The economic downturn couldn’t overshadow the Mardi Gras revelry Tuesday as partiers jostled for beads on parade routes and the French Quarter swelled with boozy fun and masked crowds.Many revelers turned the tables on the recession, dressing in costumes riffing on bailouts, the stimulus package and busted budgets.Suzanne Gravener, a 59-year-old New Orleans teacher, dressed as the Statue of Liberty — without a crown. That, she joked, had to be sold for cash because of the hard times. Her husband lost his job.”I still have my torch, though,” she said, and Carnival was one luxury the family could afford. “This is the greatest free show on earth.”The day started with clarinetist Pete Fountain leading his Half-Fast Walking Club into the streets, marking the unofficial opening of Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday.By dawn, spectators crammed parade routes and costumed revelers mingled with all-night partiers.The first parade of the day was Zulu, the traditional African-American parade, followed by Rex, the king of Carnival, and hundreds of truck floats.At 4 a.m., Zulu members got into costume, which for them means blackface, huge afro wigs and grass skirts.”Oh, my God, if my family could see me now, the only good news is that they wouldn’t recognize me,” said Zulu member John Rice after his face was painted. “This is the only city in the world where you can get away with this.”Mayor Ray Nagin rode on horseback dressed as what he called a “recovery gladiator” in honor of the city’s rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina.Katrina was on the mind of Cherry Gilbert, a 42-year-old Seattle bus driver who helped organize a reunion for about 80 family members, many displaced by the 2005 storm.”This is the first time since Katrina we’ve all gathered here and it’s a beautiful thing,” Gilbert said. Despite the economy, tourism officials hope to match last year’s crowd of about 750,000. Before Katrina, Fat Tuesday typically brought in about 1 million people.”I just keep calling my friends at work and telling them what they’re missing,” said Bud Weaver, 31, of Philadelphia. “It’s 40 degrees colder there and none of them had beer for breakfast.”Mardi Gras ended at midnight. In heavily Catholic New Orleans, many revelers will be in church today to have ashes daubed on their foreheads as they begin 40 days of prayer, penitence and self-denial leading up to Easter.

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French student on school trip killed by bombing in Egypt

CAIRO (AP) — A group of French teenagers on a school trip was hit hard by a bombing at a landmark Cairo bazaar, which killed a 17-year-old girl on the tour and wounded more than a dozen other students, the mayor of the teens’ hometown said Monday.Sunday night’s explosion from a homemade bomb raised worries in Egypt of wider damage to the country’s vital tourism industry, which is already suffering from the global economic meltdown.The blast went off in the main square of the sprawling Khan el-Khalili market, which was packed with tourists and Egyptians — including more than 40 high school students from the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret.A government spokesman said the bomb was placed under a stone bench in a cafe where the French students were sitting in the square, next to one of Cairo’s most revered shrines, the Hussein mosque. The 17-year-old girl, who has not been identified, was killed and 24 people were wounded, including 17 French, said spokesman Magdy Radi, according to Egypt’s state news agency MENA.The students were nearing the end of their trip when the attack occurred, said Patrick Balkany, mayor of Levallois-Perret. He said some of the students have serious wounds, and other students suffered psychological shock from the “horror” of the experience.”We are faced with a dreadful drama,” Balkany told RTL radio on Monday.There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, which was the first against tourists in Egypt in three years. Islamic extremists have in the past attacked tourists in an attempt to hurt Egypt’s biggest source of income.Khan el-Khalili — a 650-year-old bazaar of narrow, winding alleys — is one of the top tourist spots in Cairo, often crowded with foreigners shopping for souvenirs, hanging out in its cafes or visiting its numerous mosques and Islamic monuments. In April 2005, a suicide bomber in the market killed himself, two French citizens and an American.A second bomb was found under another bench in the same cafe Sunday and was safely detonated, Radi said. Three people have been detained for questioning, security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.Besides the French, the wounded included three Egyptians, three Saudis and a German, the government spokesman said. Three of the French teenagers remained in the intensive care unit Monday. One had a lung injury, another broken legs and the third suffered a ruptured ear drum.Most of the French students returned home Monday, and 10 others who suffered light injuries were expected to follow later in the day or Tuesday, Balkany said.Several experts on Islamic militancy in Egypt said the attack may have been carried out in anger over Egypt’s response to Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip against Hamas in January and early February. During Israel’s onslaught, Egypt came under heavy criticism around the Arab world for what some saw as its failure to help the Palestinians in Gaza.The attack came days ahead of an international conference on rebuilding Gaza that Egypt is hosting March 2 in the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheik. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due to attend.Khalil al-Anani, an expert on Islamic movements at Cairo’s Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said Sunday’s attackers were likely small-scale militants provoked by Gaza rather than a large organization. “We are now facing a new type of terrorism, what I call an individual type of terrorism.”Egypt fought a long war with Islamist militants in the 1990s, culminating in a massacre of more than 50 tourists in Luxor in 1997. The militants were largely defeated, and there have been few attacks since in the Nile valley. But from 2004 to 2006, a string of bombings in Sharm el-Sheik and other resorts in the Sinai Peninsula killed 120 people.Several shopowners in Khan el-Khalili said they now worry that foreigners will avoid the bazaar. “I hope that this is phase is like an illness, and we’ll recover,” said Ahmed Magdy, who works in a shop selling scarves, bellydance outfits and trinkets.Sunday’s bombing is likely to have little long-term impact — but more damaging is the world economic crisis, which is forcing many in Egypt’s prime European markets to stay home rather than travel for vacation, tourism and economic experts said.

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Have we become lazy?

Aggie Pride is dead, the campus needs rehab, and A&T is wack. I have heard these complaints since last year, but what changes have we seen?I feel like we have had some great vision come through aggieland, but only a few come to pass. I hear so many complaints, but I only see a handful of people trying to change them and it makes me wonder. Have we become lazy in our vision?This past weekend at the Winston-Salem State game, we simply asked students to wear gold for unity and aggie pride, but at the game I found the usual fashion show instead of a sea of gold. When we stormed some of the residence halls asking people to wear gold, we received a couple of commitments but the majority said, “Sorry, I already have my outfit picked out.” Why is campus so corny? Maybe it is because everyone is out to get their own. Some of us are trying to be popular, some trying to feel accepted, and some of us are so busy “doing me” that we are failing the entire vision of being an Aggie. If we were not too wrapped up in ourselves, we might actually care about what the campus is doing for us.We would know where our money is going, and our priority would be to create an atmosphere where Aggies feel as though they are a part of a family.All of our student leaders would actually listen and make moves towards pleasing the students. The students would run the campus again.My freshman year made me so proud to be an Aggie. No matter who you were, you were greeted and treated like family. I walked around knowing that if anyone ever tried to cross me, I would have Aggies to back me up. That is not the case anymore.Losing Dennis Hayle was very hard for the campus to deal with this semester. Marches took place afterwards protesting violence, but campus has gotten quiet again with many of us simply shaking our heads saying how sad it is. I think it is horrible that it always takes a tragedy to bring us together, but it is even worse that the efforts to stop violence only last for two weeks afterwards. How about making community watches among us Aggies? Oh sorry, that doesn’t fit in your schedule huh? We can protest about not having tickets for a basketball game, but we can’t protest for more weekend activities for students on campus? We all want the glory and fame, but none of us wants to be the armies of workers who make it happen. We should know by now that we cannot rely on one person to make changes for us.Back in the day our ancestors protested for human rights knowing that their fate lay either in jail or in a noose, but they persisted fearlessly for a vision they had faith in. How many of us are that dedicated to a vision? Not many, because we think one of fighting will make a vision come to past the next day. We love to complain, but not many of us are walking in faith for our visions. If we took things a little more seriously, we would come off that high from the drug laziness, and we wouldn’t need rehab anymore. We have to take charge of the campus so we can show incoming freshmen how to expand and continue the vision of creating a powerful community of leaders, followers, entrepreneurs, activist, inventors and more.No one is going to take charge of our vision for us, and rehab is getting pretty old. How about we stop being fiends of laziness and get high off of pride.

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Economy suffering ‘severe contraction’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress on Tuesday the economy is suffering through a “severe contraction” and pledged to use all available tools to lift the country out of the recession that already has cost millions of Americans their jobs.In testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, Bernanke said the economy is likely to keep shrinking in the first six months of this year. Housing, credit and financial crises — the worst since the 1930s — plunged the economy into its worst slide in a quarter-century at the end of last year.Bernanke hoped that the current recession will end this year, but said there were significant risks to that forecast. Any economic turnaround will hinge on the success of the Fed and the Obama administration in getting credit and financial markets to operate more normally again.”Only if that is the case, in my view there is a reasonable prospect that the current recession will end in 2009 and that 2010 will be a year of recovery,” Bernanke said.Among the risks to any recovery are if economic and financial troubles in other countries turn out to be worse than anticipated, which would hurt U.S. exports and further aggravate already shaky financial conditions in the United States.Another concern is that the Fed and other Washington policymakers won’t be able to break a vicious cycle where disappearing jobs, tanking home values and shrinking nest eggs are forcing consumers to cut back sharply, worsening the economy’s tailspin. In turn, battered companies lay off more people and cut back in other ways.”To break that adverse feedback loop, it is essential that we continue to complement fiscal stimulus with strong government action to stabilize financial institutions and financial markets,” Bernanke said.In an effort to revive the economy, the Fed has slashed a key interest rate to an all-time low and Obama recently signed a $787 billion stimulus package of increased government spending and tax cuts.In addition, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has revamped a controversial $700 billion bank bailout program to include steps to partner with the private sector to buy rotten assets held by banks as well as expand government ownership stakes in them — all with the hopes of freeing up lending. The Obama administration also will spend $75 billion to stem home foreclosures.Those and other bold steps — including a soon-to-be-operational program to boost the availability of consumer loans — for autos, education, credit cards and other things — should over time provide relief and promote an economic recovery, Bernanke said. That program is “about to open,” he told lawmakers, without providing an exact date.Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the panel, and other senators suggested expanding that program overseen by the Fed and Treasury, to help squeezed local governments.Radical actions by the government since last fall when the financial crisis intensified have relieved some credit and financial strains, Bernanke said.”Nevertheless, despite these favorable developments, significant stresses persist in many markets,” he said. “Notably most securitization markets remain shut … and some financial institutions remain under pressure.”Although Bernanke didn’t mention any financial institutions by name, Citigroup Inc. — the industry’s troubled titan — apparently is in line for additional government help.Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., worried the government was “creeping” toward bank nationalization through a new option announced by the administration Monday. The new plan allows the government to greatly expand its ownership in a bank by converting preferred shares into common shares.”It is not nationalization,” Bernanke said.Looking ahead, Corker was skeptical about the effectiveness of bank-rescue efforts saying he saw a continuation of “sort of dead-man walking, zombie bank.”When pressed about how much more money the government might need to shore up the nation’s troubled banks, Bernanke didn’t give a figure and said it would depend on the health of banks, how the economy evolves and the margin of safety that regulators believe is needed.Critics worry the Fed’s actions have the potential to put ever-more taxpayers’ dollars at risk and encourage “moral hazard,” where companies feel more comfortable making high-stakes gambles because the government will rescue them.

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Spend money on an experience not a product

If someone had to write a book about your life, would it be adventurous? Or would it be so boring that the high lights of your life would be buying your first pair of Jordan’s. If your life story consists of just buying new things then you’re simply not living. You should spend your money on an experience rather then a product. Why? An experience can be life fulfilling and a product leaves you wanting more, or without a care. Shoes, bags, a new shirt, rims, silver bracelets are all nice things to have but they don’t satisfy the human soul. Products get old and upgrades come out almost every month. The out-dated products leave you feeling empty inside to the point where you want to buy something new. I would walk around and see girls on campus carrying Louis Vuitton bags, wearing designer shoes, Tiffany bracelets, Coach everything and I would think; what a waste of money. All that money that was used for consumer purposes could have been a plane ticket to a different country or a payment for a community service organization. Living requires having an experience, consumerism doesn’t. Traveling for me is one of the best experiences you can have. Experiencing a new culture, trying new things, is something you will always cherish. When I would hear the excuse I simply can’t afford to travel, I laugh because the little thing called save, actually works. Unfortunately, most people I know are too blind to see that   there is nothing wrong with living life as an explorer. And, if they can see that lifestyle they are too afraid and or clueless on how to do it.Traveling is just the basics, and once you have that down, you can find little adventures in your own backyard. But first, it takes courage and an open mind to break free from the consumerism lifestyle, unless consumerism is what you acquire your happiness.  However, Life should be filled with adventure and wonderful stories that you can tell your friends and family. Tomorrow is never promised so while you’re still alive, you should live. People are living each day on repeat, waiting for their next pay check so they can buy more things. But, the adventure starts with you, the living part of your life starts with you. Don’t get me wrong, there are other things you can experience; sky diving, rock climbing, backpacking are all things that are wonderful experiences that everyone should take advantage of.Right now you should take the time to ask yourself, where have I been in the past five years? If there’s nothing that sticks out in your mind that you can remember, for the past five years of your life you have been alive, but you weren’t living. People should break away from only knowing how to buy and should be more focus on how to live. You should go sign up for a foreign language class, or pottery class, join a community team, or see a play. Those are all life experiences that you can invest in and that will always be a part of your development as a human being. Products do not feed the soul, only the ego.  With products you’ll always be left with feeling empty, and there’s no warranty that can cover that.  

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Home prices continue to fall

NEW YORK (AP) — Home prices tumbled by the steepest annual rate on record in the fourth quarter, two housing indexes showed Tuesday, and the pace of decline continued to gain speed in all but a handful of battered cities.The farther prices fall, the fewer homeowners may be able to qualify for President Obama’s mortgage relief plan. Last week, the president estimated up to 5 million borrowers in good standing who don’t owe more than 105 percent of their home’s current value would be able to refinance into a lower interest-rate loan.Though details of the plan won’t be released until March 4, almost 14 million homeowners are already under water, according to Moody’s Economy.com, meaning they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.Nationally, home prices have receded to 2003-levels, and half of the metro areas in the 20-city Case-Shiller Home Price Index have lost more than 20 percent of their values from their peaks in 2006, including Las Vegas and Miami.”If they don’t get (the plan) into place very soon, it will be out of our reach to help these people,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com.Consumer confidence index sank as job cuts, shrinking retirement accounts and plunging home prices fueled fears, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

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