Wednesday, July 8, 2009

(MY075) Ten sneaky bank fees that sting unsuspecting consumers

Here are 10 fees you especially need to keep a close eye on:

1. Overdraft. Should you unknowingly bounce a check, you could be charged a multitude of times before finding out and balancing the account. Many consumers argue that banks should deny them cash at the ATM if it's going to overdraw the account.

2. Deposit returned. If a check deposited in your account bounces, you're charged a fee. Word to the wise: accept checks only from trusted sources.

3. Checking. This is the privilege-of-using-your-own-money charge that many banks did away with years ago. But charges are starting to creep back into the system, experts warn. Consumers should not assume their checking accounts are fee-free -- or if they are, that they will continue to be infinitum. "The type of checking account to now look for is one that does not have a monthly service charge, minimum balance requirement or limit on the number of transactions you can make," says Bankrate's Mr. McBride.

4. Teller. Banks drew fire from consumers in the 1990s when they tried charging a fee if human interaction occurred when depositing or withdrawing money. There are scattered reports of these fees popping up, mostly now in the form of "excessive" use of tellers. Some banks, for example, will give you two free teller visits a month, but charge you for extras.

5. Inquiries. This is the phone version of teller fees. Make a call about your account, a question about a charge or to order a new book of checks and you could get hit with this service fee. "These are the routine fees that month after month can really have a significant impact on your bottom line," Mr. McBride says.

6. Closing accounts. Consider this a punitive fee. Many banks will charge you a fee if you close an account within 90 days -- and sometimes within six months -- of opening it.

7. Credit cards. Late fees and over-limit charges are already steep but could go higher. The new legislation will put caps on some of those fees and on how they're charged against old and new balances. But until then, expect to see them grow. Grace periods also are expected to end or be severely restricted.

8. Annual. In the early days of credit cards, issuers charged consumers a yearly fee for the right to charge. Competition drove most away, but it looks like they may make a comeback. "Read your mail," Mr. Hammer says. "If you get something from the bank, it's usually because they're making a change. Find out what it is."

9. Currency conversions. Got extra euros from a recent trip that you want converted to dollars? It will cost you. These are fees that are on an upswing too.

10. ATMs. If you use an ATM that doesn't belong to your bank or has an agreement with your bank you could get whacked twice, once by your bank and again by the ATM's owner. And the bite is getting bigger.

credit to :

(MY074) Militant Back in Action : Two key oil pipelines blown up in Nigeria

LAGOS (AFP) – Militants in Nigeria's Niger Delta region said Wednesday they had blown up two key oil pipelines in the region operated by the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell and the Italian group Agip.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said in a statement it had blown up the lines in a pre-dawn attack in the Bayelsa state, in the Niger Delta, as part of their campaign to cripple the oil industry.

(MY073) Facebook predicts revenue to be in the ‘billions’

SAN FRANCISCO, July 7 — Facebook will likely be posting billions of dollars in revenue in five years, up from about US$500 million (RM1.8 billion) this year, according to Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mark Andreessen who sits on Facebook’s board.

Andreessen told Reuters that the world’s most popular online social network could pile up US$1 billion in revenue this year if it pushed harder on selling advertising.

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(MY072) Twitter should win Nobel Peace Prize, says former US security adviser

LONDON, July 8 — Twitter should win the Nobel Peace Prize for its role during the civil unrest in Iran, according to a former US national security adviser.

Mark Pfeifle, said the microblogging site was instrumental in helping document the crisis in Iran following the contested presidential election results last month.

The former aide for George W Bush said that more than 220,000 Iran tweets were sent through Twitter every hour at its peak.

“When traditional journalists were forced to leave the country, Twitter became a window for the world to view hope, heroism, and horror,” he said.

“It became the assignment desk, the reporter, and the producer. And, because of this, Twitter and its creators are worthy of being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize,” he wrote in the Christian Science Monitor.

The annual Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to those who push for “fraternity between nations” and for “holding the promotion of peace”.

Previous winners of the award include Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr and the Dalai Lama.

Last year’s winner was former Finnish president and United Nations diplomat Martti Ahtisaari, who acted as a UN special envoy during the long running Kosovo-Serbia dispute.

Pfeifle first mentioned the idea while being interviewed for Fox News last week.

“Twitter has been criticised as a time-waster — a way for people to inform their friends about the minutiae of their lives, 140 characters at a time,” he said.

“But in the past month, 140 characters were enough to shine a light on Iranian oppression and elevate Twitter to the level of change agent.

“Even the government of Iran has been forced to utilise the very tool they attempted to squelch to try to hold on to power.”

The ongoing conflict is still being tweeted everyday by thousands — both inside and outside the country.

Pfeifle also stressed the importance of other social networks, like Facebook, where Iranian presidential candidate Hossein Mousavi has amassed more than 100,000 supporters. — Daily Telegraph

(MY071) Man sues Kimberly-Clark over bad-breath device

BOSTON (Reuters) – A Boston-area inventor sued Kimberly-Clark on Tuesday, contending that the maker of Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers had violated his patent for a device to detect bad breath.

The man, Marv Freadman of Chelsea, Massachusetts, filed a lawsuit in Boston federal court, saying that the Dallas-based consumer products maker is developing a "visual indicating device for bad breath."

The device, Freadman said in court papers, works by detecting carbon dioxide and other gases given off by the bacteria that cause bad breath. Freadman said that he had already patented a similar device.

The company has its own later patent on the device, according to court papers.

The suit asks the court to stop Kimberly-Clark from using the technology and also seeks unspecified monetary damages.

A spokesman for Kimberly-Clark said he had not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit and therefore could not comment.

The case number is 09-1145 in U.S. District Court in Boston

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(MY069) 700-year-old skull washes up on Aussie beach

SYDNEY (AFP) – Baffled Australian police have launched an appeal for information after a 700-year-old skull washed up on a beach.

Police believe the skull must belong to a private collector or museum, but are mystified as to how it arrived on the Sydney beach in September.

"Detectives are now looking for the owner of the skull, who they believe may be a private collector or from a museum or research facility," they said.

Tests showed the skull belonged to a non-Aboriginal child aged between four and six who lived about seven centuries ago.

Police said any claim for the skull would require records or some other proof of ownership

(MY068) New monkey discovered in Brazilian Amazon

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Researchers have discovered a new sub-species of monkey in a remote part of the Amazon rain forest, a U.S.-based wildlife conservation group said on Tuesday.

The newly found monkey was first spotted by scientists in 2007 in the Brazilian state of Amazonas and is related to the saddleback tamarin monkeys, known for their distinctively marked backs, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said.

The small monkey, which is mostly gray and brown and weighs 213 grams (0.47 pound), has been named the Mura's saddleback tamarin after the Mura Indian tribe of the Purus and Madeira river basins where the new sub-species was found.

It is 240 millimeters (9.4 inches) tall with a 320 millimeter (12.6 inch) tail.