Author Archive: Jeremiah Long

Degradation of the US Mainstream Media from Reagan to Trump

Ronald Reagan took the oath of office as the 40th President of the United States of America on January 20th, 1981. Since
then, the world has fundamentally changed in so many ways. One place where you can see the change, though not necessarily change for the good, is in the mainstream media. For example, when Reagan took office CNN was an infant, the internet had not yet been brought to the general public and the term “fake news” was not even a term, let alone a term which has shifted to common usage. Let’s go on a journey from the 40th US President to the 45th US President to try and understand why there has been degradation in the US Media in this comparatively short period of time.

However, before we start on that journey let’s try and take a “helicopter view” of the issues and try and understand some of the issues that are in play here. They include

· Consolidation – In 1983, according to the Media Reform Information Centre, The US mainstream media was controlled by approximately fifty corporations. Since then, mainly through a process mergers and acquisitions, the number of players started to reduce so that by the year 2000, getting towards the end of the Clinton Presidency, the number of major players
had reduced to six. Deregulation had also played its part in this. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 which was signed into law by President Clinton also played a part in this as the Act did, amongst other things, promote media cross ownership. This meant that you could own TV, Radio and Newspapers all in the one market. The consolidation process continues to this
day with the attempted acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T which is subject to litigation by the Department of Justice.

· The Rise of the 24-Hour News Cycle – Prior to the birth of CNN news was broadcast by networks such as NBC, CBS and ABC with bulletins held nightly around 6.30pm or thereabouts. Enter CNN which was started by Ted Turner and gave it’s first broadcast June 1, 1980. CNN, in its formative years when it was the only 24-hour news player, was able to focus on issues of significant issues to the nation including the Challenger Disaster, the First Gulf War where they broadcast from inside Iraq and the crisis in Somalia in 1993. The passage of the Telecommunications Act in 1996 led to the CNN monopoly coming to an end when they were joined by MSNBC which is jointly owned by Microsoft and NBC and Fox News which is, of course
owned by News Corporation.

· Politicization – There is a convincing argument to suggest that the media has become more politicized than objective. This can be seen particularly with Fox News where it’s show “Fox and Friends” is reportedly a favorite of President Trump’s. Other Fox Commentators such as Sean Hannity are also proud to wear the conservative label and put a spin on the events of the day.

· Fake News – The “Fake News” phenomenon, the attacks on media outlets who report a
position or point of view that the Administration disagrees with is also
political. The best example of this can
be seen in the extraordinary response by then White House Press Secretary Sean
Spicer in response to reporting on the crowds at Donald Trump’s inauguration.

· Influence of Social Media – Social Media Platforms, particularly Twitter
have a lot of influence on mainstream media. Both Donald Trump and Barack Obama have used Twitter albeit in diverse
ways. The claims that Barack Obama was
not born in the USA, the so called “birther movement” gained traction on Social
Media.

So, what has all this change
meant for standards and quality in the US Mainstream Media. While Journalists are human beings and are
liable to make mistakes, there are more corrections to
stories being publicized now than before. The specific task of “fact checking” of stories is also being done which
means that the facts may not have been checked in the first place.

Yes, there has been lots of
change in the US mainstream media but not necessarily for the better. In my view there has been degradation.

Legal Property Dispute Settlement With Tenants

First things first, a problem tenant is not someone who wants their broken boiler fixed, it is your job as a landlord to fix these issues. We’re talking about the kind of tenants who do not pay their rent, cases where the tenant has to get out of the contract because of a mental illness, or who break things around the household. These are the kind of people that any landlord dreads, so read on for advice on how to come to a peaceful and happy agreement.

Things to remember:

1.Professionalism:

One thing you should always ensure is that you carry out every task and deal with any situation promptly and professionally. The reason for this is that it will not exacerbate the situation any further, and would make it easier to conclude that both parties are happy.

2.Maintain all records and correspondence:

Make sure you maintain a register of all the typical legal and financial documents you deal with as a tenant, and also keep a record of all emails, letters and if possible phone calls that you have with your tenant.

A grey area disputes can be of many types that could make troubled time for landlords. These include:

1. Damage or criminal activity:

In cases where you had your property damaged, then firstly look to resolve the issue with the tenants directly, as most will willingly hold their hands up and pay the cost. Also, make sure that you contact your insurance provider and seek advice from them on the matter. If there is criminal activity taking part in your property, then do not try and negotiate with the tenants, contact the police, and they will directly deal with the situation in the appropriate way.

2. Anti-Social Behaviour:

If neighbors are persistently complaining about the tenant’s behavior because of the noise or anti-social behavior, then look to deal with the tenants and come to a peaceful resolution with them. If problems persist, then you have every right to contact local authorities or the police.

3. Nonpayment of rent:

This is the complicated situation to deal with, and if you lose your cool, you may have a real fight on your hands. This is probably the most common problem for a landlord by tenants with mental illness, but do not jump in all guns blazing, look to talk to your residents about paying their bill. If they are still unwilling to pay, then as said before remember to keep it professional and look at negotiating alternative payment methods or dates.

Steps to take you may consider where the tenant has to get out of the contract

1. Send a written eviction notice to your tenant precisely stating that reason why you want your tenant to leave your property. Please make sure that the notice period to comply agrees with the terms of the lease on such matters.

2. If the written eviction notice gets ignored by the tenant and the notice period to comply is unheeded, then the next step would be to file an eviction at the appropriate court. You must provide enough evidence to the court to prove that the landlord or their property manager had sent a written notice to your client to vacate the property.

3. There is a chance that a tenant moves out after getting a court summons. But if he or she still appears adamant, then the landlord or their property manager should provide the court with records of the payment history (a tenant ledger), a copy of your eviction notice, documentation of other communication, and evidence of damages caused to your property by the lessee.

4. If the tenant denies moving out, then you can request that the court order, the local sheriff to intervene to carry out the writ by evicting the tenant forcibly from your rental property.

3 Ways to Deal with Property Disputes

In property law, whether you bought a new house and the neighbors are crossing to your line or to trees or objects blocking the nice view you used to have. Dealing with issues like this may seem quite petty, but since you spend a substantial amount of money on your property, you need to deal with this as quickly and as inexpensively as possible before you end up in court to waste thousands more. There are better and more peaceful ways to deal with issues like this.

Peaceful Negotiations

If you have a breach of say, land encroachment or property damage due to a tree or anything like that, the best and most obvious way to deal with this is to approach your neighbor, or landlord or whoever the disagreement involves. Be as nice and as stern as you can possibly be. Maybe bake some cookies to present in a peaceful way. The benefit of the doubt goes a long way. State your problem as if it was an easy mistake to not offend anyone and hope they listen and understand. Maybe this can even lead to a better compromise to help both parties. You can show the deeds with all the specifics of your property and how they are breaching that agreement and to compare with their deed as well to get a better understanding.

A Letter

Some people aren’t very sociable and don’t like conflicts. You can an official letter to your neighbor or person you have a dispute with. You can even get your attorney to write a letter for you. The letter should politely state what the issue is. It is a good idea to give a possible and fair solution they can agree to or not. People usually send the letter to their own attorney to be sure of the terms and their own rights to have a full scope of the issue. So don’t worry too much if they do that, it really isn’t an insult.

Mediation or ADR third parties

Most people really do try their best to get the better end of the deal. They don’t listen or try to argue with you to win. You could start a huge fight or neighbour-wars which will be devastating for you. When this happens, asking for a mediator is a great choice. All a mediator does is sit there and listen to both sides so that both parties understood properly and they can find their own solution. They even carry messages between the two parties, anything to maintain order. There is also the ADR option. With arbitration, you have a third-party that initially makes the final decision for you. This way, nobody gets the upper hand.

There are many ways to deal with a land dispute and some end up leading to the court and wasting a lot of money for both parties. So, try to be friendly and avoid all of that and hope for the best. Why look somewhere else yet you have the best here?

4 Ways to Deal with Wrongful Dismissal

Due to the ever changing economy and high inflation rates, employee retrenchment is no stranger to any business. From Major firms and corporations to small start-ups and businesses. Sometimes, your employment is not as secure as you think.

The companies who have managed to keep and increase its employees seem to have good work environments complete with a good HR department. But in some cases, your employer or boss may seem to have something against you.

You try to maintain a level of mutual respect but somehow, it doesn’t work. Your boss seems to constantly and unfairly treat you compared to your colleagues. Next thing you know, you receive a dismissal letter from the HR department terminating your employment contract. This are some of the reasons that would make your dismissal be term as ‘wrongful’.

‘Wrongful’ termination by your employee

In some cases, reasons for termination are legitimate, as the employer has the right to fire anyone who violates the company’s policies. Drugs usage during office hours, poor work delivery and constant lack of punctuality are some of the top reasons for fair dismissal. However, wrongful dismissal is considered when ones work contract is terminated because of the following:

· Retaliating to another employee’s personal complaint that may not be true or may have been set up on false evidence

· Reasons that are in violation of the state and federal laws on anti-discrimination

· Threats and cases on sexual harassment by the employer or senior employees

· Dismissal in violation of any labour laws included in the constitution

· Termination in violation of any standard employment agreement and termination procedures that may be written or orally done

· Refusing to commit an illegal act on behalf of the employer

How to deal with wrongful termination

1. Do not act on impulse and revise your contract

Even though you might be confused or agitated, it is important that you do not retaliate or do anything negative to the employer. This may land you on the wrong side of the law which consequently leads you to quadruple the problem you had in the first place. Instead, spend time to peruse through your contract, noting down the violated terms of procedure and agreements made with the employer.

2. Inquire about reason for termination

It is important that you fully understand the reasons why you were fired. This will help you build a case against your employer in case the reasons are not as per the agreements in your employment contract.

3. Return all company property and belongings

This is crucial as it may lead to a breach in contract as you are no longer an employee of the company. Do not however allow to be intimidated or threatened but do not react impulsively. This is necessary for you to build a strong case and will tremendously help the final and last step

4. Find legal counsel

Contact Employment Lawyers, a workers union or a personal or family lawyer conversant with wrongful dismissal. They will assist you in the legal procedures that are required to build a case against your former company. They will help you draft legal documents that will allow you to obtain information that may have been barred from you before and launch an investigation. It is however important that you are completely honest about the reasons of termination because if any verified and factual evidence is found against you, you will have to face the law.

Larry Silverstein’s lawsuit drastically changes real estate insurance policy

The events of September 11, 2001 drastically changed the world in ways more than we can even imagine. But a lawsuit that was filed by Larry Silverstein, the developer who owned the WTC towers at the time of the terrorist attacks, against the insurance company asking for 7 billion dollars. The lawyers for the insurance companies, one of them being Swiss Re, argued that Mr. Larry Silverstein was only qualified to receive 3.5 billion dollars because that was real face value of the insurance coverage for the two towers.

But Larry Silverstein’s lawyers argued that since there was a 17 minute difference between the two plane crashes into the towers, the attacks constituted as two entirely different occurrences according to the terms mentioned in the insurance contract. Therefore, Larry Silverstein demanded that the insurance companies pay him the double of what the actual insurance coverage was, which amounted to 7.1 billion dollars.

The case was fought in court between the parties based on their different interpretations of the term “occurrence” with Larry and his lawyers arguing that it referred to the number of attacks whereas the insurance companies argued the exact opposite. The court split the insurance companies into two groups with two different trails each to determine whether the events of September 11 constituted as one occurrence or two according to the insurance policies.

The first trial ended up in the favor of the insurance companies in which the jury decided it was just one occurrence hence the developer will only receive the face value of the insurance coverage. Silverstein appealed against it and lost. But the second trail returned a judgment in Larry Silverstein’s favor declaring that there were two occurrences. So, in the insurance policies involved in the second trail, Larry got twice the face value insurance coverage.

The total amount Larry Silverstein was qualified to receive from the insurance companies totaled 4.6 billion dollars. Many conspiracy theories also emerged during the time of this trial, as apparently, Mr Larry had acquired the lease for the twin towers weeks before the attacks. Some people construed theories that Mr Larry Silverstein knew about the attacks, that is why he bought the lease in order to make money off insurance claim.

Anyhow, ever since the attacks and this case, the insurance policies in New York City and soon in major cities around the world had to be rewritten from scratch as before 9/11 there was no terrorism policy. But ever since then, every sale agreement, loan and insurance policy includes a clear terrorism policy.

This case was a landmark case in terms of real estate as it changed the insurance industry drastically, at least in major cities around the world, by forcing them to reevaluate their policies from scratch. Lawyers, banks, insurances companies everyone had reevaluate their policies and change the way they conducted their business in order to survive. Change in insurance policies, and increase of terror threats led to increased premiums, increasing the costs of purchasing, renting or loaning out properties.

It is ridiculous how one incident and one lawsuit can set such a precedent that affects so many industries simultaneously. Lawyers working during those days had to rewrite every single contract from scratch just to make sure their clients were covered in case of another unfortunate event.

Real Estate Trends in 2017

Real market analysts expect that the U.S. economy will show stronger signs of grow in 2017. The real estate sector may serve as the catalyst of this economic growth. The housing market represents around 15 percent of GDP. Up to date, the housing component of the economy hasn’t performed so well, because lending standards have remained tight in the wake of the real estate bubble. Developers who survived the crisis have remained cautious and reluctant to risk expanding again their operations.

According to experts, these trends will change in 2017. Here are some real estate trends expected to emerge this year:

1. More Credit Available
Due to looser lending standards, mortgage credit will likely become this year more widely available. It is expected that the Federal Housing Administration will lower fees charged from first-time homebuyers. This will continue the trend started during the Obama administration, when the first-time homebuyers’ fees were lowered in 2015. For the first time in over a decade, government-owned mortgage companies such as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will begin this year to back up larger mortgages. This will make it easier for buyers to finance their purchases in expensive markets.

2. Rising Rates
Since 2006, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in December for only the second time. Most of the members of the Fed’s rate-setting board predict that in 2017 the interest rates will increase for three more times. Mortgage rates will also increase due to these decisions. For prospective homebuyers it will become more difficult to afford an expensive home. However, this trend is not making real estate market analysts worry too. The mortgage interest rates are expected to increase, but on the 30-year fixed rate they will probably be no higher than 4.3 percent.

3. More New Homes
While statistics regarding the new home constructions showed that in November last year builders pulled back on new projects, the overall trend remains clearly positive. In the year 2016, the average annual rate of new buildings reaching a 1.163 million rate. From 1.108 million in 2015, this figure is up around 5 percent. As home builders are encouraged by looser credit, higher wages, and increased buyer demand, this trend will continue in 2017.

4. Foreign Buyers Stay On The U.S. Market
In places like Los Angeles and New York, one trend that drives prices beyond affordability is the influx of foreign buyers. The number of affluent foreign buyers of U.S. real estate has increased lately. This trend is fueled in particular by Chinese buyers. They are driven away by repressive policies and slowing economy in their homeland and looking for safe places to store their wealth. Europe and the U.S. continue to attract Asian investors and growing amounts of foreign capital.

5. Medium-sized Cities Rise
Among the dominant trends of the current economic recovery is rise of medium sized cities. As workers come to these locations looking to take advantage of the employment market characterized by high-paying jobs, top-tier economic cities like San Francisco, Seattle and New York have seen property values rise. Those cities’ real estate markets are experiencing difficulties, because new construction cannot keep pace with demand due to local government regulations or geographic constraints. This makes the younger folks attracted to medium-sized cities that provide housing affordability. For instance, during the past six years, cities like Fort Collins, Colo. and Raleigh, N.C. have seen a booming in building permit issuance. This trend is expected to continue in 2017.