Thursday, January 18, 2007

Retailers Assess Citrus Freeze Impact

Retailers Assess Citrus Freeze Impact

The Associated Press


January 17, 2007

Any time there is a product shortage, it follows that prices increase Grocery retailers are taking stock of the impact California's freeze will have on supplies and the prices of citrus, strawberries and other damaged crops in their stores.

Meghan Glynn, spokeswoman for Kroger Co., said Wednesday that severe weather in California, Arizona and parts of Mexico is expected to hurt store supplies for several months.

'We expect shortages of citrus fruits, berries, some lettuce varieties and several fresh vegetable offerings,' she said. 'We regret that we are not able to offer our customers the range of high-quality fresh produce usually available this time of year.'

Glynn said Kroger, the nation's largest traditional grocery chain, is working with suppliers to find alternative sources. Kroger has nearly 2,500 grocery stores in 31 states.

'We are working with our vendors to source some items from other countries,' she said, although details weren't yet available.

Growers in California say prices will shoot up in the aftermath of subfreezing temperatures that caused nearly $1 billion in losses to oranges, lemons, avocados, strawberries and other crops.

'Our prices will remain competitive based on market conditions,' Glynn said. 'We'll continue to monitor the situation closely.'

Whole Foods Market Inc. spokeswoman Kate Lowery said prices will go up for citrus fruit and customers could also see price increases for California strawberries.

'Any time there is a product shortage, it follows that prices increase,' Lowery said.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said it's assessing the situation with its suppliers.

'Although it's too early to determine the impact, we are communicating with our California citrus suppliers to understand their losses and to help them manage the situation,' spokeswoman Karen Burk said in a statement, adding that Wal-Mart is 'revising their previously agreed upon costs to put them more in line with present conditions.'

Brian Todd, president of The Food Institute, an industry information service, said some of the fresh citrus and other damaged crops could be replaced with imports, but prices are still likely to rise.

'Supermarkets for the most part in some way will have to pass along the increase,' he said.

Restaurants might substitute other items for those in shortage, or raise prices, and price-minded consumers could switch to other fruits and vegetables, Todd said.

HSBC analyst Mark Husson said although prices will most certainly go up if a shortage results, the impact will not be big enough to substantially affect grocers' margins, sales or earnings.

AP Business Writer Lauren Shepherd in New York contributed to this report.

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The growers GOT THE SHAFT again since the crops are damaged we will not receive the income as expected and, any undamaged fuits that are still good, THEY WILL NOT BRING THE HIGHER PRICES; Believe me, the packing houses will lower the prices they pay TO THE GROWERS since they will claim that the FRUITS ARE DAMAGED!!!

Real Estate Investment Ponzi Schemes.

$1.2 Billion Dollar Fraud Scheme Alleged in Southern California

Temecula, CA (PRWeb) January 14, 2007 -- The Temecula law firm of Ackerman, Cowles & Lindsley filed a 1.2 billion dollar claim against what are alleged to be the perpetrators of a vast real estate and currency exchange scheme taking place in Southern California.

Riverside County Superior Court Case No. RIC463483 (Anonymous Investor v. Jovane Investments, et al.) was filed by an investor who claims to have suffered $3,000,000 in damages on her case alone. The plaintiff seeks to have the matter certified as a class action later this year because there are another alleged 400 investors in the alleged scheme.

The amended complaint, filed on January 12, 2007, alleges that the operators of the Jovane Investment firm of Murrieta, and related businesses, including Stonewood Consulting, Inc., Pacific Wealth Management LLC (Nevada), Oetting Enterprises, and Sunburst Financial Systems, Inc., engaged in a real estate scheme involving perhaps as many as 5000 home loans in the Southern California region. The defendants are alleged to have incited members of the general public. members of the military, and nursing staff at Rancho Springs Community Hospital in Southern California, to get involved in a real estate business whereby "investors" could each become the owners of multiple residential properties throughout the Temecula Valley and Northern San Diego County.

It is alleged in the complaint that defendants allegedly involved in the scheme would artificially inflate the values of the homes, complete 125% loan to value mortgages in certain cases, give escrow kickbacks to sellers who received as much as $100,000 more than an asking price, and sell the investors on the idea of giving up excess proceeds out of the sale to investment companies for a great profit over a period of years. In some cases, $50-60k-a-year salaried employees had mortgage obligations that were more than $20,000.00 a month because they "owned" 5-8 homes. The defendant companies are alleged to have taken money from other investors to pay the mortgages on behalf of plaintiff and others. The scheme is alleged to be a traditional Ponzi scheme.

Additionally, other investors were alleged to have been duped into buying into Iraqi dinar investments where the alleged victims would pay more than sixty times the actual value of the dinars. The victims were allegedly not told about the true value of the dinars and the dinars were allegedly never delivered to the victims.

The allegations were referred to the Riverside County District Attorney's office back in November of 2006. However, according to lead counsel, Richard D. Ackerman, "I am quite certain that the district attorney's office is swamped with thousands of criminal cases and simply has to allocate investigation resources toward violent crime at this time. Justice will eventually prevail. Unfortunately, however, if action is not taken soon, our entire Southern California economy may suffer as a result of the type of practices alleged by the many victims in our case."

All told, it is alleged that the damage to investors, lenders, the county tax rolls, Southern California neighborhoods, and others is far in excess of the 1.2 billion dollars cited in the complaint.

The case has been assigned to Judge Dallas Holmes of the downtown Riverside Superior Court in Riverside, California, for trial. The plaintiff intends on working with alleged victim-lenders and governmental agencies in an effort to prevent hundreds of foreclosures and additional damage as a result of the alleged fraud. The victim lenders are alleged to include Bay Capital Mortgage, Community First Bank, GMAC Mortgage, Suntrust Mortgage, Aurora Loan Services, Home Eq Servicing, and SLS Loan Servicing. Numerous credit card companies are alleged to be affected by the currency scheme as well.

Defendant Pacific Wealth Management LLC and defendant Maurice McLeod, a principal of Pacific Wealth Management LLC, have already been ordered by this same judge to stop all investments activities in California under the name of Pacific Wealth Management LLC. The related case is captioned Pacific Wealth Management LLC v. Pacific Wealth Management LLC, Superior Court of California, Riverside Case No. RIC462505. The injunction order was entered on January 9, 2007.


Ackerman, Cowles & Lindsley



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Well, It is sad since people think they can trust anyone without any actual agreement and or a signed contract! I hate to say this I seached Google for Sunburst Financial Systems, and if any one did, they could easily have found this suspicious story about Sunburst Financial Systems of Palm Deserts in 2003 !!!!

Desert company cuts back business
PALM DESERT: Sunburst says it has no conection to MX Factors, which is
under investigation.

Thursday, October 23, 2003
By Devona Wells / The Press-Enterprise
A Palm Desert firm has sent its employees home and stopped accepting
investments after plagiarizing marketing materials from an Inland
company that is being investigated.

Sunburst Financial Systems also dismantled a Web site that "plagiarized
sales and marketing information out of MX Factors," said Sunburst
general manager Christopher Oetting by phone Wednesday. He declined to
say why biographical information on one of Sunburst's managers mirrored
that of Richard Harkless, the owner of MX Factors.

Riverside's MX Factors is being investigated by the U.S. Postal
Inspection Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and has
been accused in a recent lawsuit of operating a Ponzi scheme.
Like MX Factors, Sunburst Financial does not have a license to sell
securities in California, according to the state Department of
Corporations. In September, the no-license violation earned MX Factors
an order from the department to no longer accept money from investors.
Spokeswoman Kam Coveyou said she could not confirm whether such an order
would be issued to Sunburst or whether an investigation of the company
is under way.

Oetting said Sunburst and MX Factors are not connected.
"We are not MX Factors. We are not affiliated with MX Factors. None of
the principles of MX Factors are involved with Sunburst," he said.
But biographical information about a Sunburst director named Richard
"Rick" Nelson is very similar to that of Harkless.
According to literature from Sunburst and MX Factors, both Nelson and
Harkless have an MBA with an emphasis in business organization and
mathematical applications, were collection agents for a national firm in
1986 and started a company for clients needing protection from
collection agents.

Some sentences are exact duplicates, including: "This company was one of
the first in California to begin converting sole proprietors and
partnerships to limited liability companies. The company continues today
and has a client base of over 150 manufacturers and wholesalers."
Harkless could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In August, Sunburst opened in Palm Desert, according to Oetting. The
company has pulled in $205,000 from nine investors, he said in a phone
interview. A company name is absent from the front door of the Sunburst
office on Fred Waring Drive. All business is conducted by phone, fax or
the Internet, he said.

Sunburst incorporated in California on Sept. 11 - two days after MX
Factors investors were notified in a letter that it was no longer taking
funds. Nevada records show MX Factors came to be in 2001.
Sunburst shut down its Web site and let go of its seven employees for a
week, said Oetting. He said he was acting on the advice of company
lawyers after he received a call Tuesday from Barry Minkow, an
investigator with the Fraud Discovery Institute. Minkow, jailed in 1988
for securities fraud, said he has been checking into Sunburst for two
weeks and turned over information he uncovered to a postal inspector and
the Securities and Exchange Commission. Minkow also shed light on MX
Factors and gave his research to the Better Business Bureau and has
since shared it with investors.

Sunburst saw MX Factors' literature and loved it, said James Duncan, a
Sunburst consultant. On its Web site, Sunburst advertised a 17 percent
yearly return to investors who put in at least $20,000. The money would
be used to finance other companies by purchasing accounts receivable, a
practice called factoring - the arrangement MX Factors offered its

"We thought we could do the same thing. Did we make some mistakes?
Probably. But, that's why we stopped. We'll pay the fines, face the
repercussion," Duncan said by phone.

Since MX Factors was ordered to stop taking investments, a trio of
lawsuits have been filed by investors and customers seeking their money
from the Riverside firm. Estimates put the amount invested in MX
Factors, which promised investors a 12 percent return every 90 days, at
$50 million or more. An Oct. 2 lawsuit asks for more than $26 million
and accused MX Factors of running a Ponzi scheme, which uses money from
new investors to pay the original ones.

Caren Singer, an MX Factors investor for more than two years, attempted
to acquire information by phone and in person Tuesday from Sunburst
after hearing about the company from another investor.
Singer saw the Web site before it was taken down and said, "I'm still
trying to catch my breath from the shock."

"This is way more than a coincidence," she said in a phone interview.
A San Diego accountant hired to reconcile the accounts of MX Factors
said Wednesday he's received financial documents from at least 150
participants. Dan Tobias said by phone that he hopes to have the job
done by the end of the year.

An e-mail newsletter warning investors about Sunburst was sent out
Monday by Venture Research Institute. The Lake Forest institute provides
information on private investments and issues warnings about ones it
finds violating laws and other guidelines.
"The suspicion is that Sunburst Financial is a continuing effort of the
folks that brought you MX Factors," the e-mailed warning says.
Staff writer Jonathan Shikes contributed to this story.Reach Devona
Wells at (9090 368-9559 or

Now How much is the whole region and the industry is going to suffer? Ofcourse we all are going to suffer too.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Gen Y's attitudes differ from parents'

Gen Y's attitudes differ from parents'

Updated 1/9/2007 10:53 PM ET

By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY

The views of young people today on politics, social attitudes and life goals are far different from their baby boomer parents', a national survey of 18- to 25-year-olds suggests.

More than two-thirds (67%) believe immigrants strengthen American society; a quarter favor increasing legal immigration.

Just 47% of those ages 41 to 60 say immigrants strengthen society; among those 26 and older, 16% say immigration should increase.

While young people are split over gay marriage (47% in favor, 46% opposed), those over 25 are not: 64% oppose same-sex marriage; 30% favor it.

"This is a more tolerant generation than its predecessors," says Scott Keeter of Pew Research Center, which surveyed 579 young adults and 922 adults 26 and older.

The findings that this generation's top life goals are to be rich (81%) and famous (51%) contrast with a 1967 study of college freshmen in which 85.8% said it was essential to develop "a meaningful philosophy of life," while 41.9% thought it essential to be "very well off financially."

The Pew survey asked more than 75 questions on issues from world events to politics to tattoos and binge drinking. Keeter says the study, in which 130 people were called on cellphones because they don't have a landline, is among the most extensive of this age group.

Keeter doesn't expect views on social issues to become more conservative with time. "One can imagine the complexion of these issues changing pretty significantly when this generation is in positions of power and authority," he says.

Among other findings:

•32% attend church at least once a week; 20% have no religious affiliation or are atheist or agnostic.

•48% identify more with Democrats; 35% with Republicans.

•36% have a tattoo and 30% a body piercing in a place other than an ear lobe; 25% have dyed their hair a non-traditional color.

Overall, these young adults are content with their lives and optimistic about the future: 84% say their life is excellent or good; 14% say fair or poor.

The poll was part of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions' Generation Next project. The margin of error for ages 18-25 is plus or minus 5 percentage points; for the overall poll, plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Posted 1/9/2007 2:46 PM ET


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Weekend fliers stuck on jet for hours with no food

I read this news on USATODAY's Blog.

Today In The Sky....

By Ben Mutzabaugh

Weekend fliers stuck on jet for hours with no food, overflowing toilets
American Airlines passengers flying from San Francisco to Dallas ended up being stuck on the same plane for 12 hours Friday. The flight was diverted to Austin and was then stuck on the tarmac for more than eight hours, according to The Dallas Morning News (free registration). The paper said the plane sat in Austin with "no food, dirty toilets and frustration levels rising." The pilot on the flight -– AA Flight 1348 –- declined to give his name to the Morning News, but said the incident was the first time he had encountered such a scenario. "If I had a place to physically put the plane, I would do it," he told the paper.

Passengers, of course, were not pleased about being stuck on the jet. Overflowing bathrooms were among the top complaints. "The bathrooms have gone from a gas station to, 'What's the last concert you've been to?' " said Missouri passenger Andy Welch. For American's part, the airline faced an unusually high number of flight cancellations, diversions and delays Friday because of storms near its Dallas/Fort Worth hub. AA spokesman Andy Backover was quoted by KRISTV Channel 6 of Corpus Christi that he couldn't say for sure why Flight 1348 was kept on the tarmac so long. But he did say AA did its best to get the diverted flight off the ground, adding that the long Austin delay may have been an attempt to wait for a landing opportunity at DFW. "We were holding out hope throughout the day that it would go," Backover said. "That's sort of the way it was all day for our entire system."

Grant it I do not like to bad mouth American businesses but sometimes certain things are allowed to happen and it doesn't make any sense! This is another one that seemed rather ridiculous to me.

In the old days, especially with the international flights, the airlines would allow the passengers to go down to the loung and they also provide a coupon for free drinks and sometimes a free sandwich.

In the good old days one of the aims for the airlines was to provide their passengers with travelling in comfort and to enjoy the total experience.

Nowaday, the airlines just wanted to sell the tickets and get you there on their terms.

I also had a nasty experience with one of the AA Flight Attendant that left a bad taste in my mouth and I refused to fly AA when I can.

I love Thai Airways, the total flying experience is really high on the scale of 1 to 10. I would give them 10 most of the time. All the Flight Attendants are always polite and serve you with a willingness to serve and with a smile. The airline also provide FREE ammenities like, inflight entertainment, top movies, earphone, extra blanket, extra pillow and the steamy hot towels. The Flight Attendant will let you know if there are any empty seats available so that you can go there to laydown and sleep on a long flight. They constantly check if you want any bottle water or orange juice during the flight. They serve wine and cognag FREE with your meal, if you want it. I can go on and on and on...

Except for a business trip to Tokyo, Japan in 2005 which I flew United Airlines from LA to Tokyo. The flights were booked and paid for by the business that I contracted with. It was an OK experience then.

All my other personal trip flights from LA to BKK & back to LA, and within Thailand during the last few years were made with Thai Airways.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Saving The Cattles.


Cows run from a helicopter about 15 miles southeast of Lamar on Tuesday. The Colorado National Guard fed thousands of cattle by dropping bales of hay from a Black Hawk helicopter.

Choppers to the rescue

National Guard air crews, ranchers join forces to drop bales of hay to stranded cattle in Southeastern Colorado.



LAMAR - Ranchers across Southeastern Colorado either tried to reach their cattle or hoped the Colorado Army National Guard could Tuesday as the animals stood in 3- to 4-foot deep snow.

Helicopter crews operated out of the airports near Lamar, Springfield and Las Animas to reach the animals. Aircrew members joined forces with ranchers, who volunteered to help on the flights, to throw out bales of hay to the stranded animals and, where possible, landed to break the ice in cattle water tanks.

Leonard Pruett, a cattle specialist for the Colorado State University Extension Service, said ranchers have been calling to ask for the hay bale flights, but aircrews also have helped whatever isolated animals they see.

"If we see cattle out there that don't look like they've been fed, we'll drop hay to them," Pruett said. "We're doing everything we can to make sure they survive.

Ranchers will be charged for the cost of the hay, but not the cost of flying it to the animals, he said.

The region has an estimated 340,00 head of cattle, but officials at the Lamar airdrop operation center said they figure all but 100,00 of those cattle are safe in feedlots. The rest are sprinkled in herds across the plains and valleys of Otero, Las Animas, Baca, Bent and Cheyenne counties.

The feeding operation began Tuesday. Pruett said it will last several days before ranchers can reach their animals themselves.

I have great empathy with the farmers and the ranchers. I am considered myself a wannabe rancher ;)

Seriously I am praying that these cattles are saved!!

Happy New Year.

I have a very positive attitude about this coming year. I have a positive feelings from the first of the year.

I hope that this year will bring peace and love to you all too.