Friday, February 29, 2008


By Jen HaleyCNN

(CNN) -- If you've faced a financial catastrophe -- an illness or job layoff -- and you've fallen behind on some bills, you're well aware that debt collectors are eager to collect those payments.

Some debt collectors are crossing the line into illegality according to some consumer groups.

But some collectors go over the line, threatening to have the person arrested, making improper bank withdrawals, intimidating people and making harassing phone calls.

In one case a collector threatened to call a woman's place of work "until she lost her job," according to the National Consumer Law Center.

In another case, a collector threatened to send the police to the person's workplace to arrest them, said Joe Ridout of Consumer Action.

The Better Business Bureau received a complaint about a debt collector contacting someone's grandmother four-to-five times a day, using threats like, "if she dies, then her life insurance can pay this debt off."

John Fugate, a Texas consumer attorney relates a story about a rogue debt collector. The debt collector told the "9-year-old child of my college friend, who is the victim of identity theft, that they were going to take her mommy away forever."

Complaints about debt collection agencies are on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission said they received more complaints against debt collectors than against any other industry for at least the past three years. And for the past five years, complaints are up about 43 percent according to the Better Business Bureau.

Some of the most common complaints from consumers include collectors using vulgar language, trying to collect more than they're owed, sharing the consumer's debt information with friends and family or trying to collect extra fees, like late fees or court costs.

That's not to say all debt collectors are resorting to these illegal tactics. ACA International is one of the largest credit and collection industry trade groups and it maintains a code of ethics that prohibits this kind of behavior.

And ethical debt collectors are necessary. According to a study cited by the company, the collection industry saved the average American household $351 in 2005. That is how much money households would have spent if businesses were forced to raise prices to cover bad debt. The bottom line here is that if you owe money, you should make every effort to pay off the debt.

But you still need to know your rights. "Most people are not aware of their rights. And unfortunately debt collectors take advantage of that fact," says Joe Ridout of Consumer Action.
Here's some expert advice on how to fight back against unethical collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat you fairly. This doesn't mean you won't have to pay your legitimate debt. But here are some basic rights:

A debt collector cannot call you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree.

You cannot be contacted at work if the collector knows your employer disapproves.

If you don't want to hear from a debt collector, write a letter telling them to stop. By law, they have to. Remember, the debt won't go away and you can still be sued.

The debt collector can contact your attorney -- if you have one. If not, your friends and family can be asked about how to get in touch with you.

A debt collector can't misrepresent the amount of your debt.

A debt collector also cannot use profane or threatening language

Debt collectors can't say that they will put a lien on your property or file a lawsuit unless the agency really means to do that and it's legal.

Collectors can't legally claim federal benefits, such as Social Security or your retirement accounts, like your IRA or 401(k).

Once you're contacted by phone, you have the right to get a notice that outlines your debt, whom you owe money to, and what action to take if you don't owe the money. Keep in mind that a debt collector can collect a debt owed by an ex-spouse. If the debt was incurred while you married, you may be liable for the debt after a divorce even if the divorce papers state your spouse is responsible for paying off the debt.

If you've been contacted by a debt collector, but you don't think you owe a debt, you must write a return letter stating that the debt is not yours within 30 days. Once a collector receives your letter, they should send you proof of the debt, such as a copy of the bill. Don't be coerced into paying a debt you don't owe. If you do pay just to get rid of the debt collectors, it's an admission of guilt, and it will have a negative impact on your credit score.

Keep in mind that some debt has an expiration date. There is a limit to how long collectors can legally collect your debt. Generally this limit - called the statute of limitations - can range from three to 15 years according to Ridout. Check with your state's attorney general's office to find out the limit in your state. You can find out who to contact at

Sometimes debt collectors will try to collect on this old debt called zombie debt because it never goes away. Make sure you don't accept a new credit offer from a creditor you never repaid. Once that creditor renews your credit relationship, the clock starts ticking all over again on your state's statute of limitations.

If you think you've been treated unfairly by a debt collector, take action. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-HELP or go to You should also contact your state attorney general's office.

You also have the right to sue a debt collector in state or federal court within a year of the date the law is violated. A victory will allow you to recover money for the damages you suffered plus an additional amount up to $1,000. A group may also sue a collector and for damages up to $500,000, or one percent of the collector's net worth, whichever is less.

And the federal government plays by slightly different rules. In 1996, Congress passed the Debt Collection Improvement Act which allows the government to take a portion of federal retirement, federal salary and Social Security benefit checks to cover non-tax debts owed to the government.

There are some debts that you can't get rid of. If you don't pay your federal student loans for example, debt collectors can garnish your Social Security wages and prevent you from renewing any state licenses according to Mark Kantrowitz of Debt collectors can even dip into your tax refund. Other debts like past-due child support and federal tax liens tend to stick with you.

The sign says is Swahili:

The Tap was opened/launched by the Kigogo Ward Councillor, M.H.R. Chengula
This was photographed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania by Muhidini Issa Michuzi

Thursday, February 21, 2008

In Africa villages were burned, its people were captured and then enslaved. In this case they were forced to work for the colonialists! Here is a photo of Nwembe Village in Kenya being burned! It was taken around 1915.
It pretty much represents how slaves were captured and shipped to new lands. Villages and crops were burned and those who could hid in the bush and often starved to death. Slavery was one of man's greatest atrocities.
A very interesting history of Tanzanians slave

Exodus of the Zigula (“Somali Bantu”) Max Dashu, Suppressed Histories Archives

Many scholars think that the ancestral Bantu cultures were matrilineal. Even today some cultures retain mother-right traditions, in the “matrilineal Bantu belt" of south-central Africa. (The term Bantu means, loosely "the people," like so many aboriginal names, putting a humanizing prefix before the being-radical Ntu; it long predates the racist usage of the apartheid government in South Africa.)

A little-known historical pocket from this cultural line was forcibly transported into northeastern Africa. Omani slave-traders based in the Sultanate of Zanzibar carried off people from Tanzania, Mozambique, and Malawi, and shipped many of them for sale in the slave markets of Somalia. Tens of thousands of these southern Africans ended up laboring on plantations in south Somalia.

The major groups are the Zigula (or Zigua) and Shanbara. Zigula oral history says they escaped slavery as a group and thus preserved their language. They scorn the Shanbara who no longer speak a Bantu language, only accented Somali.

This group claims descent from “five original brothers who belonged to east African groups such as the Yao, Makua, Nyasa, Nyamwesi and others.” [Declich: online] They became farmers of the Juba and Shebeli rivers in Somalia: Shabelle, Shidle, Makanne, Eyle, Elay Baydabo.

The great hero of Zigula oral history is Wanankhucha, a mganga diviner and prophetess. She organized the escape of large numbers of Zigula people from slavery and led them to freedom in the mid-1800s. They say that her visions and power as a diviner enabled her to guide her fleeing people out of danger. She is also credited with building unity of the emancipated people by “organising repeated performances of traditional Zigula songs.”

Their goal was to return to Tanzania, but Wanankhucha's group of refugees faced great dangers in their migration, including the possibility of being reenslaved on their way through Kenya. So they settled in the lower Juba valley in southern Somalia, after Wanankhucha decided that an earthquake there was a sign.

The so-called Bantu Somali were conquered by the Oromo and later by Somali pastoralists. Some Zigula farmers adopted pastoral people who intruded on their country, after a period of clashes. There were also foragers called Bon, and various low-caste groups, either despised professions or descendants of slaves. The slaves often lost their original family names, and were left with slaveholder’s names. The pattern was pastoralists styled as nobles, and farmers as slaves or ex-slaves, so that all farmers came to be considered “freed slaves.”

All the non-elite groups got lumped together as Bantu. Italian colonialists reinforced this categorization and deepened it by forced labor conscription to their plantations, such as the Bertello farming contract. They refused to accept ethnic distinctions, outside of “pure Somalis.” “You are all Mushunguli Mayasid (Bantu).” (from a word meaning Zigula person) The Italians enlisted Somali pastoralists to round up people from farming groups to perform forced labor.

Colonization was heaped upon colonization, because the Italians also used gender divisions to defuse “Bantu” men’s resistance to their own exploitation as members of oppressed ethnic groups. “Men to be conscripted into forced labor were given the right to choose any woman they wanted as a wife, without her consent or that of her relatives.”

These men were freed from the obligation to pay bridewealth for the non-consensual wives, and fathers were threatened with conscription, for themselves or their sons, unless they surrendered their daughters. This strategy seems to have been effective, since, as people from the Juba region told Francesca Declich, “without the company of a woman most young men would have run away from conscription.

Friday, February 15, 2008

In Tanzania, East Africa wearing khanga cloth is part of our culture. We have khangas celebrating every event. This is a speacial design created for President Bush's visit to Tanzania this month 2/08.
The President will be welcomed by multitudes of Tanzanian women wearing these.

This is a common scene in Tanzania... a python crossing the road! Yes, I have seen several in the neighborhood that used to live in on the University of Dar es Salaam campus. One would come out of the bush eat a chicken then go back in the bush! Urg!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Why do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front?

Why do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke?

Why do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters?

Why do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage?

Why do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight?

Why do we use the word 'politics' to describe the process so well: 'Poli' in Latin meaning 'many' and 'tics' meaning 'bloodsucking creatures'?

Why do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering?

EVER WONDER .... Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin ?

Why women can't put on mascara with their mouth closed?

Why don't you ever see the headline 'Psychic Wins Lottery'?

Why is 'abbreviated' such a long word?

Why is it that doctors call what they do 'practice'?

Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?

Why is the person who invests all your money called a broker?

Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?

Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?

Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes?

Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?

You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?!

Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?

Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together?

If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress?

If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the terminal?

Now that you've smiled at least once, it's your turn to spread the stupidity and send this to someone you want to bring a smile to (maybe even a chuckle) other words, send it to everyone. We all need to smile every once in a while.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Will the New England Patriots crush the New York Giants in the Superbowl tomorrow? We shall see.