Service members, consider yourselves warned

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This company and others like it target young, inexperienced service members and then victimize them, no matter where they may be. USA Discounters – unfortunately headquartered here in Virginia – along with Freedom Furniture and Electronics and Military Credit Services offer high-priced credit to military clientele. Together with USA Discounters, the three companies have filed more than 35,000 suits since 2006.

They offer automatic approval, easy credit for young military members who may not have had time to establish credit on their own. And that’s when it gets disgusting.

Should customers fall behind, the company transforms into an efficient collection operation. And this part of its business takes place not where customers bought their appliances, but in two local courthouses just a short drive from the company’s Virginia Beach headquarters.

From there, USA Discounters files lawsuits against service members based anywhere in the world, no matter how much inconvenience or expense they would incur to attend a Virginia court date. Since 2006, the company has filed more than 13,470 suits and almost always wins, records show.

[...]

The federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA, was designed to give active-duty members of the armed forces every opportunity to defend themselves against lawsuits. But the law has a loophole; it doesn’t address where plaintiffs can sue. That’s allowed USA Discounters to sue out-of-state borrowers in Virginia, where companies can file suit as long as some aspect of the business was transacted in the state.

The company routinely argues that it meets that requirement through contract clauses that state any lawsuit will take place in Virginia. Judges have agreed.

[...]

Once a judge awards USA Discounters a judgment, the company can begin the process of garnishing the service member’s pay. USA Discounters seizes the pay of more active-duty military than any company in the country, according to Department of Defense payroll data obtained by ProPublica.

Look, I’m the first one to say that you are responsible for making payments on time, and that if you borrow from someone, you are responsible for paying them back. I don’t like deadbeats, and I abhor excuses. If you can’t pay for what you borrow – be it a house, a car or appliances – you shouldn’t borrow that money in the first place.

But at the same time, I also know that young Soldiers, who likely have a job for the first time where they’re getting regular pay, tend to be ignorant of budgeting facts and irresponsible with their money. It’s a fact. Yes, it’s a leadership failure to leave those youngsters out there to make bad decisions without giving them the information they need to help ensure they don’t make stupid decisions, don’t deal with predatory lenders and don’t understand how to budget properly. But this company specifically targets young soldiers, tempts them with easy credit and quick lending, and then swoops down to destroy their financial lives.

This company is a predator. Period.

Do not deal with them.

You have been warned.

 

Remember Original Keyless?

9 Comments

That fraud of a company owned by a Nicole Cucuzza that tried to steal my money without sending me merchandise and then ignored all attempts at communication until I outed her scamming ass?

Well guess who got a letter from the Office of the Arizona Attorney General today!

On behalf of State of Arizona, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against the owners of Original Keyless. Our office alleged that the defendants violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. the Company has ceased operations, but we are seeking refunds for customers as well as an order prohibiting future illegal practices.

Yep. The swindling shrew is getting sued.

Karma. She’s a harsh bitch, but ya gotta love her

Something good out of something bad

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When you lose an animal, part of your heart gets torn out. They really are furry children, who rely on humans in every way, and when they take you as their human, they hold your heart in their furry little paws forever.

That’s how I’ve felt all week after having to put my son’s best feline buddy to sleep, but I knew – after having felt her little body struggle agonizingly to draw every breath – that it was the right thing to do. I couldn’t let her suffer. She didn’t deserve that after 16 years of love, friendship and joy.

I initially solicited donations to help me with Mac’s medical bills. Overall, they came out to $5000, which was quite a bit. Through the GoFundMe site I created, and through this blog, my generous friends and readers and even random strangers who stumbled across the posts contributed $2400 to help me pay that huge bill. The love and support has been overwhelming.

We can pay off the rest of her bill through CareCredit, so that’s not an issue, but there’s a huge part of me that desperately wants her death to mean something more – something greater. I want something positive to come out of all that heartache.

So instead of shutting down the fundraiser, I changed it. I found an amazing animal rescue organization in Northern Virginia. HART or Homeless Animals Rescue Team  is a non-profit, no-kill animal rescue/support group that takes in and finds loving homes for abused and unwanted furfaces. According to their website:

HART works with local veterinarians, foster homes, kennels, and trainers to provide temporary housing, medical care and, where appropriate, training for our animals until s/he is placed in a loving, carefully-screened new home. HART takes in older, sick, and injured animals as well as the readily adoptable and never takes just the pups and kittens, leaving mom behind. We seek to direct our resources where they are most needed and to alleviate or prevent suffering wherever we find it.

HART is a worthy organization, so the rest of the money I raise toward the $5000 goal I set for Mac’s medical bills will go to HART.

Every last penny.

I don’t want her death to have been in vain. I want to do something for the homeless, abused, lonely animals looking for loving families with whom to spend their lives, so I figure if I can raise another $2500 and give it to HART, Mac’s death will have meant something more than just tears, grief and agony.

So there it is. Something good comes out of something bad.

You guys have been beyond generous to me and to my family. But now I ask you to direct that generosity – as much as you possibly can – to sweet, loving, lonely, abused and abandoned animals who need your help. Please go to GoFundMe and donate to help save as many homeless animals as possible in Northern Virginia.

I’ve changed the donation page, but the photos and the updates of my gorgeous little girl are still on there.

Please help save some really deserving, beautiful critters in her name. I know she would be so happy to see the love of humans who helped her so much also touch other innocent fur babies!

Here’s the site again. I’m taking nothing for myself, and will forward everything to HART. If you can’t contribute anything to this worthy cause right now, I understand. Times are pretty hard all over. That said, if you do nothing more than share the link to the page with everyone you know, I would be forever grateful!

Thank you to all.

Goodbye

19 Comments

I received a call from the hospital this morning telling me that Mac had taken a turn for the worse. She was struggling to breathe, and our doctor did not think they could do anything else for her, since she did not respond to chemotherapy.

Rob and I were with her, holding her and stroking her as she fell asleep in my arms for the last time

RIP, my beautiful little friend. I swore I would never allow you to suffer, and I kept my promise.

We will all love you for eternity.

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It’s about love (Scroll down for an update)

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Sixteen years ago on a sunny day we brought home a little ginger kitten from the local shelter. We named her McGwire, because it was the same day as Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run. And she was a ginger, so it fit.

The Redhead was not quite a year old then, and she was only a few months. From the moment he laid eyes on this tiny little ginger ball of fur and poked her with his pudgy little finger, she was his kitty.

They grew up together. McGwire, or Mac, as we like to call her, didn’t like very many people. She shunned most everyone except her immediate family. But, oh how she loved the Redhead! You could see her little head perk up every time he walked into the room. He would pick her up and hold her like a baby in his arms, while kissing her smushy little face. She licked his fingers and rubbed her furry head against his hands. If he happened to have his room door closed, barring her from entry, you could hear her yowls from other floors in the house as she pounded her little paws against his room door until he opened it.

Two gingers

Two gingers

I can’t begin to describe the swelling in my heart when I would look in on the Redhead sleeping every morning before going to work and see two gingers on that bed – a small feline and my son. She would sleep with him every night, and when she heard me peek through the door, she would lift her head to ensure that no one was out to hurt her human, look at me, and peacefully close her eyes again.

The bond between an animal and her human.

Last week I had to take Mac to the vet, because she refused to eat. At first I thought it was because she was grumpy with us for leaving her with Rob’s step brother while we went to Vegas. After all, he’s not us. But no. She refused to eat again, and began vomiting spectacularly green, foamy liquid after a few days. Her calcium and kidney levels are off the charts, and she’s so weak, that the internal medicine doc put her on a feeding tube. They’re running a bunch of tests – ultrasounds, blood tests, biopsies, x-rays…

Mac is still alive and being fed through a tube. So far her treatment is costing us $4000. It’s a lot. Who has that kind of money lying around? And it could be more before her calcium returns to normal. But I refuse to let my friend die because it’s too expensive to help her. I refuse to break my son’s heart because I couldn’t afford to save his buddy. I won’t go back on my promise to care for this beautiful sweet creature, because of money. When you make a commitment to an animal, it’s no different than a commitment to a human being. These are creatures completely dependent on you for food, shelter and care. Would you really let them die, because it was too expensive to help them live?

Poor, sick kitty.

Poor, sick kitty.

It’s not about money. It’s about love.

Look, you’ve seen me ask for support for my friends on this blog when they needed help healing their furry friends. I’m good at asking for help for others, but not so good for myself. However, I’m also smart enough to know when I can’t handle things on my own. $4000 is a lot of money, and it may wind up being much more than that.

So I’m swallowing my pride and asking for your help today. Help me save my friend. Help me heal her – something the doctors say is very possible. Help me give my son a few more years with his best friend. She is in the hospital. She needs tests. She needs IV fluids and already has a feeding tube. She needs medication to control her calcium. And then there’s the cancer.  It’s very likely that she has it, according to the hospital. So she will need chemotherapy.  They’re taking care of this soft, sweet, dedicated creature, but the cost is ridiculously high, and I need help.

If it helps me save Mac, I will resort to begging, and that’s essentially what I’m doing, because when you love something this much, you swallow your pride. I’m not above begging for my friend, because I love her so much. And I love my son, and I want to do everything I can to help him have a few more years with his little feline sister.

I know $4000 is a lot of money, but I also know the generosity of people who understand what it’s like to love and commit yourself to an animal. I will pay it. I will do whatever I have to do to make her well again, but I need help.  I did create a GoFundMe site to raise money for Mac, and I have shared it with Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

There is also a PayPal button in the upper right hand corner of this blog where you can help as well.

I know times are hard. I know today’s economy has a lot of folks worried about their finances. I know I’m asking a lot. But anything you can do at all to help me save the Redhead’s best friend would be appreciated. Anything at all.

Please help me live to watch TV for a few more years!

Please help me live to watch TV for a few more years!

Anything I don’t use for Mac will be donated to a no-kill shelter to help other animals find loving families.

UPDATE: Well, we’re going to start her on chemotherapy. It’s just a shot, and it doesn’t harm her in any way. She won’t lose her hair and she won’t vomit like humans do. But the doctor hopes that in a few days, she will start eating and recovering. The one thing I don’t want to do is keep her on a feeding tube forever. I can’t imagine this is good for her quality of life in any way, but I guess I’ll need to talk to her doctors some more. If she doesn’t start eating, even after the chemotherapy, what do we do?

About those sanctions

7 Comments

If you haven’t heard, the Treasury Department has released the latest round of sanctions against Russia for its activities in Ukraine, and some Second Amendment advocates are suspicious, to say the least.

Earlier today, the Department of Commerce announced new sanctions against Russian products and companies operating in the United States. Previous sanctions only tangentially impacted the import of cheap and reliable firearms from Russia into the United States, but now the Obama administration is specifically targeting the makers of Saiga rifles and shotguns, as well as other companies. 

There’s going to be a lot of information out there in the next few days, so let’s get a few facts out of the way.

This is not in any way, shape or form an assault on your Second Amendment rights. The sanctions impact companies, banks and entities that have been supporting Ukrainian separatists and destabilizing the region.

The U.S. moves to impose restrictions on the Russian state-controlled oil giant OAO Rosneft and other top firms are aimed at squeezing Russia’s already struggling economy and financial system. They followed weeks of U.S. threats that Russia would face repercussions unless it helped defuse the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian government for months.

The sanctions stop well short of crimping international business ties or blocking deals with entire sectors of the Russian economy.

The U.S. and Europe say separatists in Ukraine are getting significant support from Russia, an accusation Moscow has denied. 

And yes, the U.S. government has plenty of information confirming Russian involvement, funding and support of Ukrainian separatists. These entities include the Russian firearms company Kalashnikov, as well as Almaz-Antey, Uralvagonzavod, Novatek and several banks.

Is this an attempt to limit imports of firearms in the United States? Absolutely not.

This is an attempt to cut off companies and entities that are involved in destabilizing Ukraine off from the U.S. financial system and punish them for their actions.

This means that U.S. companies and individuals can do no further business with the sanctioned entities. No. Further. Business.

That means the AKs that you love so much that are already here in the stores are perfectly legal to buy and sell – UNLESS the store still owes money to Kalashnikov for an order. You can still buy, sell, trade, whatever your AK or your Izmash-produced firearms. What you are NOT  allowed to do is start new business with these companies.

Given the number of other companies that produce inexpensive AK-like and other firearms, this really shouldn’t affect your everyday right to keep and bear arms.

Is this an indefinite ban on imports of AKs and other inexpensive firearms? The sanctions will stay in place until the illegal activities cease. Some Second Amendment advocates claim once the government implements these sanctions, they will continue, because BAN! That’s not true. OFAC has de-listed a myriad of different companies and entities once they’re deemed to no longer be involved in illegal activities, or with a successful appeal.

This is all about Russia’s activities in Eastern Europe, and it has nothing to do with our right to keep and bear arms.

A list of frequently asked questions is here.

374. If I own a Kalashnikov product, is that product blocked by sanctions?  Am I able to resell a Kalashnikov product at a gun show or other secondary market? 

If a U.S. person is in possession of a Kalashnikov Concern product that was bought and fully paid for prior to the date of designation (i.e., no payment remains due to Kalashnikov Concern), then that product is not blocked and OFAC sanctions would not prohibit the U.S. person from keeping or selling the product in the secondary market, so long as Kalashnikov Concern has no interest in the transaction.  New transactions by U.S. persons with Kalashnikov Concern are prohibited, however, and any property in which Kalashnikov Concern has an interest is blocked pursuant to OFAC’s designation of Kalashnikov Concern on July 16, 2014.  If a U.S. person has an inventory of Kalashnikov Concern products in which Kalashnikov Concern has an interest (for example, the products are not fully paid for or are being sold on consignment), we advise that U.S. person to contact OFAC for further guidance on handling of the inventory. [7-16-2014]

There are other answers that may be of concern to gun owners as well. Please go read the release closely and understand it. Misinformation helps no one.

“Being Honest Messed Up My Life”

4 Comments

This is my latest for JPFO. When the judge and the police officer who stopped you both say you should have just kept your mouth shut about that firearm you were legally carrying in your state, but which became illegal when you mistakenly took it across a state line, and then insist on prosecuting you…

…there’s something really wrong with the system! REALLY wrong!

via “Being Honest Messed Up My Life”.

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