Monday, June 30, 2014

SOME MORE RAMBLINGS: Or little rants about life these days that I could say again, again and again

THE Fresh & Easy grocery chain, based in California, brags that its house brands have no artificial colors or trans fats, that two-thirds of its produce is grown locally and that its main distribution center is powered by a $13 million solar installation. Cool! Right? But in one crucial respect, Fresh & Easy is just like the vast majority of large American retailers: most employees work part-time, with its stores changing many of their workers’ schedules week to week. In two of America's leading industries — retailing and hospitality — the number of part-timers who would prefer to work full-time has jumped to 3.1 million, or two-and-a-half times, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Tough times...

ALL these energy drinks, what dafuq! Monster Energy, Red Bull, Hype Energy, Gatorade, and Rockstar. Among the latest entrants in the energy industry’s caffeine race is a pocket-size squeeze bottle called Mio Energy. Each half-teaspoon serving of Mio, which is sold by Kraft Foods, releases 60 milligrams of caffeine in a beverage, the amount in a six-ounce cup of coffee, the company says. But one size of the bottle, which users can repeatedly squeeze, contains 18 servings, or 1,060 milligrams, of caffeine — more than enough, health specialists say, to sicken children and some adults, and even send some of them to the hospital. Ah! Just give me my Tap Water+Plus++Premium+ please!

ACCORDING to the American Institute of CPAs, money fights prompt an average of three arguments each month – making it the most volatile topic for spouses. Arguments about money are a common source of discord among couples in the United States. The escalating cost of raising kids, coupled with a still-difficult economy, makes it more likely that arguments about kid-related expenses will pop up. The most frequent money fights cited in the AICPA survey revolved around “needs versus wants” (58 percent reported this as the most common reason for a spat), unexpected expenses (49 percent) and insufficient savings (32 percent) – all of which can be exacerbated in families with children... Smartphone, iMac, iPod, iPad, Xbox, Kindle Fire etc etc.

A STUDY by researchers at North Carolina State University, Brigham Young University and the University of California-Irvine finds that parental involvement — checking homework, attending school meetings and events, discussing school activities at home — has a more powerful influence on students’ academic performance than anything about the school the students attend. Moreover, the Review of Economics and Statistics reports that the effort put forth by parents has a bigger impact on their children’s educational achievement than the effort expended by either teachers or the students themselves. Does it say that America's educational system sucks? Or the study suggests that parental guidance is utmost—over school systems—in raising children...

CHECK THIS OUT: Eleven million Hispanic citizens remain unregistered, Americans all, and 15 million youths between the ages of 18 and 24 who can’t be pried away from Facebook, are eligible voters. Also, thousands of innocent black citizens, labeled as “felons,” are disregarded from voter rolls, according to Greg Palast in his book, “Billionaires & Ballot Bandits.” This huge mass of voters could spell the outcome of the next presidential elections, but it's either they don't know that they can actually vote or they are barred from doing so... And as Palast warns, “over 5.9 million votes can be stolen in November 2012...” Which means, you know. I thought this is only possible in the Philippines.

KARL Marx wrote many years ago that capitalism contained the seeds of its own destruction. As it looks, this is the danger America faces today, as the 1 percent continues to amass wealth that should have been distributed better with the rest of the citizenry. Something that may also spell doom to the Chinese—if they pull away from their socialist agenda and embrace Western-styled capitalism, in case they aren't into it already. Historically, the United States' left and right spectrum have identified an economic openness that is an essential source of economic vigor. But that has changed. Example: The bipartisan $700 billion rescue of Wall Street in 2008 only rescued the 1 percent.

WHAT do we believe in these days—if faith in a God or government isn't working? Good news or bad news: The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the US public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling. In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15 percent to just under 20 percent of all US adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6 percent of the public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14 percent).

EACH year, American taxpayers spend nearly $1 trillion trying to help the poor, according to a recent study by the Cato Institute. It’s easy to miss that headline number, though, because the money flows into and out of scores of federal, state and local government programs. Some 126 federal programs for low-income Americans together spend $668 billion of taxpayer money annually. Some of these government programs, though focused on low-income Americans, extend a hand to more than just “the poor.” Roughly a quarter of this trillion-dollar outlay is devoted to Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for poor and disabled people, including many elderly. Other programs have a broader impact on society as well. Complex, isn't it? 

A LITHOGRAPH by Henri Matisse for $800; another by Georges Braque for $1,400; a screen print by Andy Warhol for $1,450; and a textile-and-paint collage by Heather Robinson for $1,699.99. All these, plus some more fine-art treasures, are available at Costco. So while you load in bales of toilet paper and drums of tomato sauce, you may also add a Picasso or Klimt at “affordable” prizes. Costco is not the first large chain to offer fine art. Between 1962 and 1971, Sears sold more than 50,000 works by artists like Picasso, Rembrandt, Chagall and Whistler through its catalog and in its stores as part of the Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art. But then, I know what you might be thinking...

RECESSION's fallout drive people to drink. When they drink, they also patronize breweries. That's how a Time article sees it. People's misery is always a business bait... Recently, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that lets microdistillers sell their wares at farmer’s markets and fairs, something both microbreweries and wineries are already allowed to do. It’s only the latest in a series of initiatives states have undertaken that make it easier for craft distilleries to set up shop. Drinking brings tourists and taxes to rural areas, and state lawmakers are hoping small-batch aged whiskey, vodka and even moonshine will do the same. Ah, life and profit.

IN America, bike helmets are aggressively promoted for health and safety. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible. Makes me wonder since in most cities outside of the US—from Paris to Barcelona to Guangzhou, and in Amsterdam and Copenhagen where people ride bikes more than they drive cars – almost no one wears a helmet, and there is no pressure to do so. “If you say biking is wonderful, but you have to wear armor, they won’t. These are normal human beings, not urban warriors,” says Ceri Woolsgrove, safety officer at the European Cyclists’ Federation. A number of bicycling advocates say that the problem with pushing helmets isn’t practicality but that helmets make a basically safe activity seem really dangerous.

VALIUM is famous for being in everyone’s medicine chest. It also famous for ruining lives. Elizabeth Taylor said she was addicted to Valium plus whiskey, Tammy Faye Bakker on Valium plus nasal spray, Elvis Presley’s Valium was spiked with an assortment of other prescriptions. Yet Valium is still out there with 14.7 prescriptions written in 2011, according to a NY Times article. Xanax, Valium's successor, outsells every other psychiatric drug on the market (48.7 million prescriptions last year). This is new to me that is why it perplexes and fascinates me. When Americans are feeling out of sorts, the most likely to turn to are anti-anxiety drugs: Prozac, Wellbutrin, Celexa, Paxil, Zoloft, Ritalin, Adderall.

A GOOGLE executive in Brazil was recently questioned over a YouTube video that criticized a local mayoral candidate, and a court ruled that YouTube must block the video. Sure, many of us in freedom-loving America would easily howl: “Censorship! Suppression of freedom of speech!” I cannot argue that—the First Amendment is a hallmark of American democracy. But haven't we been abusing and playing around with this “freedom” that we tend to disregard human decency and respect? We don't only criticize people's God and culture—we also make fun of them, in the same way that we ridicule our elected leaders and religious heads. Yet we're always the first ones who'd scream, “politically incorrect!” “racist!” or “don't judge me!” on slight provocation.

REALLY? Federal regulators are about to take the biggest steps in more than a decade to protect children online. The moves come at a time when major corporations, app developers and data miners appear to be collecting information about the online activities of millions of young Internet users without their parents’ awareness, children’s advocates say. Some sites and apps have also collected details like children’s photographs or locations of mobile devices; the concern is that the information could be used to identify or locate individual children... This is like, the government “protecting” youths from alcohol while it freely allows liquor stores to flood the neighborhood.

IN 2004, pharmaceutical companies spent $58 billion on marketing, 87 percent of which was aimed at the roughly 800,000 Americans with the power to prescribe drugs. The money was spent mainly on free drug samples and sales visits to doctors’ offices... Although it's common knowledge that shrinks are under the beck and call of pharma giants, few experts believe that psychiatry’s relationship with the drug industry is healthy. British psychiatrist David Healy has repeatedly charged how drug firms companies conceal important info about the risks of medications by, among others, hiring ghostwriters to spin the results of scientific studies and then getting renowned experts to put their names on the published papers.

SEVERAL farm hands were hunched over a bed of sweet potatoes under the midday sun—for $10 an hour. They are not typical laborers. They are young graduates at Colorado State University, Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and Skidmore College. You may have guessed that major reason why these college educated youths are plowing is the unabated unemployment scourge brought about the economic downturn. In some degree, yes—but some of them are taking on the earth for more sublime motivation. For example, Nate Krauss-Malett, 25, who went to Skidmore College, became interested in farming after working in a restaurant and seeing how much food was wasted.

A NY Times article says: “The need to constantly adapt is the new reality for many workers, well beyond the information technology business. Car mechanics, librarians, doctors, Hollywood special effects designers — virtually everyone whose job is touched by computing — are being forced to find new, more efficient ways to learn as retooling becomes increasingly important not just to change careers, but simply to stay competitive on their chosen path.” The real problem is, changes at the workplace is so fast and quick that human capabilities couldn't keep up with it. Machines have massively controlled the world that it takes a machine in us to at least keep pace with the stride.

GLOBAL warming. The rise in the average temperature of earth's atmosphere and oceans—that is expected to be strongest in the Arctic and would be associated with the continuing retreat of glaciers, permafrost and sea ice. Actually, the Arctic ice is melting at record pace... So you think the world’s superpowers—that are often tasked (sic!) to safeguard humankind—care a shit? Nah... In fact, they are now jockeying for political influence and economic position in this territory that's previously regarded as barren wastelands. The Arctic has abundant supplies of oil, gas and minerals... China, the United States, Russia and several nations of the European Union are on a “gold rush” of some sort... Greed.

NEWS: “McDonald’s Menu to Post Calorie Data.” Uh—huh... Yes, McDonald’s said that it would begin posting calorie counts on all its menus next week — a move that could put pressure on other fast-food restaurants to do the same. “They are such a huge restaurant and there are so many people that eat their food, so this is a really positive step,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It will help their customers get more familiar with calorie counts and make decisions about what they eat based on them, and it will probably improve McDonald’s menu over time.” Figures, big business buying out healthy food/organic outfits.

OUR voracious appetite for anything electronic/computerized cuts deeper than any other addiction that we have been struggling to kick. Sincerely, if I have extra dough, I'd probably score a Smartphone... Sure, we are very aware that these huge companies are having a grand time feeding us e-baubles as long as we remain hooked. Recently, announced that it would allow buyers of its new Kindle Fire tablet to pay $15 extra to turn off advertisements that are built into the devices. Kindle Fire, priced from $159 to $599, challenges Apple’s dominant iPad on price and additional digital content. Jeez! Competitions among titans—as consumers bleed. So here's my $15, bitch...

LAST year, Google promised to wire homes, schools, libraries and other public institutions in Kansas City with the nation’s fastest Internet connection, Google Fiber. Community leaders on the predominantly black east side were excited. They anticipated new educational opportunities for their children and an incentive for developers to build in their midst. But by mid-year, Google announced a process in which only those areas where enough residents preregistered and paid a $10 deposit would get the service. While nearly all of the affluent, mostly white neighborhoods here quickly got enough registrants, a broad swath of black communities lagged. Progress? Progress is a commodity.

THIS supposed breakthrough research should have been pursued long time ago: medical studies that point to tighter pairing of drugs and patients. Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston said that the work became feasible only in the past few years because of enormous advances in DNA sequencing that allow researchers to scan all the DNA in a cell instead of looking at its 21,000 genes one at a time. The study of the genetics of a common lung cancer has found that more than half the tumors from that cancer have mutations that might be treated by new drugs. A new type of treatment can now be foretold in which drugs are tailored to match the genetic abnormality in each patient, researchers added.

STANFORD University’s Center for Health Policy says that when it comes to nutrients, there is not much difference between organic and conventionally grown food. But it also found that organic foods have 31 percent lower levels of pesticides, fewer food-borne pathogens and more phenols, a substance believed to help fight cancer. For countless shoppers, the study just added to the stress of figuring out what to eat. Hence, most American shoppers' grocery cart reflects an ambivalence (or contradiction) of goods: organic kale and jar of Skippy peanut butter, Laura Lynn TV dinners and four-pack of handcrafted beer etc. I just hope such diversity on the dining table doesn't lead to separate bedrooms...

FREEGANS. A subculture of dumpster divers and urban gleaners who sift through the contents of seas of garbage bags. They’re not just combating waste; they’re eating it. Freegans refuse shopping for locally grown apples or purchasing non-toxic cleaning products, they aim to not purchase at all. Instead, they find, repurpose, share, and barter to obtain food and other necessities like bedding, clothes, toiletries, and housewares. Freegans are linked to the Diggers, a 60s Frisco-based anarchist group—who took their name from English Diggers, a 17th-century group that envisioned a society free of private property and commercial exchange. I once sheltered a Freegan in New York. He drank my six-pack PBRs in 27 minutes—in exchange for the “privilege of knowing what a Freegan is.”

IF so-called food research chill a bit and concentrate on feeding the hungry than wiggling their brains out on the microscope for some bad chow finding, I guess—our fears will ease out considerably. Paranoid consumers are calling for federal guidance on how much of the carcinogen can be present in rice—yes, MY rice! Yet the Food and Drug Administration found no evidence that suggests rice is unsafe to eat. Arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil in two forms, organic and inorganic. But according to the FDA, organic arsenic passes through the body quickly and is essentially harmless. So there! If rice is bad, I reckon—all Southeast Asians are dead by now? Zombies?

WRITES Roger Cohen for Utne Reader: “Organic has long since become an ideology, the romantic back-to-nature obsession of an upper middle class able to afford it and oblivious, in their affluent narcissism, to the challenge of feeding a planet whose population will surge to 9 billion before the middle of the century and whose poor will get a lot more nutrients from the two regular carrots they can buy for the price of one organic carrot.” In 2010, says the Organic Trade Association, organic food and drink sales totaled $26.7 billion in the US, or about 4 percent of the overall market, having grown steadily since 2000. Yet more than half of the world could barely afford half slice of bad pizza.

A VAST majority of the nation’s 1.8 million nursing home residents counts on Medicaid to cover most of their medical bill. But whatever they receive aren't enough. Mostly, they hope that their kids could help—but they themselves are burdened with saving for their own old age. Most nursing homes charge an average of $250-a-day nursing home care, says an article by NY Times. With baby boomers and their parents living longer than ever, few families can count on their own money to go the distance. So while Medicare has drawn more attention in the election campaign, do seniors believe still? I just wish that some of Washington's lofty foreign policy budget goes to the elderly...

COULD you imagine Detroit or Los Angeles—or the entire United States—restricting car ownership? No, that's not going to happen—although I must admit, we should and then focus on public transport improvement and sidewalk infrastructures... Truth is, China has just initiated a move towards such a “startling” precedent. The municipal government of Guangzhou, China's third largest city and one of its biggest auto manufacturing centers, recently introduced license plate auctions and lotteries that will roughly halve the number of new cars on the streets. The measure hopes to help clean up China’s notoriously dirty air and water, reduce long-term health care costs, among others...

IN my book-in-progress “My Life as a Greyhound,” I have devoted a few chapters about American youths that I met on the road—homeless youths. Homelessness among US children is a startling truth that I never thought happens in America, but it is happening... There are 1.6 million homeless children in the US. Writes Craig Blankenhorn who photographed these children in cities around the country, including Janesville and Beloit, Wis., Kissimmee, Fla., and in Essex County, NJ: “Sadly for the children across America who are homeless today, neither presidential campaign is expected to pay much attention to them, with big policy speeches or new ideas about improving their situation.”

THIS one literally pushes my tongue on my left cheek: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act intended to prohibit the payment of bribes to foreign officials by United States businesses has produced more than $3 billion in settlements. But a list of the top companies making these settlements is notable in one respect: its lack of American names. The most guilty or companies that have reached the biggest settlements under the law are foreign: Siemens and Daimler (German), Alcatel-Lucent (French), and JGC Corporation (Japanese). The lone American company in the top 10 is KBR, the former Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the Texas oil services company.

DOES an organic strawberry contain more vitamin C than a conventional one?” Maybe? Maybe not? Okay, let's ask “experts” at Stanford University... Voila! These smarty-pants dudes weighed in on the “maybe not” side of the debate after an “extensive examination of four decades of research comparing organic and conventional foods.” They concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts, which tend to be far less expensive. Sure, organic food advocates argue such finding, saying organic chicken and pork were less likely to be contaminated by antibiotic-resistant bacteria... As for me? What the hell, EAT THAT FOOD!

MAYBE, they don't really know—or their motley crew of super thinkers—haven't figured it out yet. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are left rambling about their foreign policy agenda... In his acceptance speech, Romney resorted to sloganeering about American exceptionalism, sneering at President Obama’s record on Iran and Israel, and obscuring his own lack of new ideas. He said he would “honor America’s democratic ideals because a free world is a more peaceful world” and he praised the “bipartisan foreign policy legacy of Truman and Reagan,” but said nothing specific. Fact: Today’s GOP are as divided on foreign policy as they’ve ever been, and the Dems are no different...

I WENT to Film school in year 1898 (ugh!) hence I am as ignorant—or worse—than the next dude in regards modern day moviemaking. High-definition cameras, 3-D digital extravaganza, pixels and CGI sound? You tell me... I don't even know how to transfer footages from my Sony Hybrid Handycam to my email or YouTube. Chris Kenneally's documentary, “Side by Side,” which explores the impact of digital technology on 21st-century moviemaking offers infos and insights that could shed light to my darkness. Guided by Keanu Reeves, viewers are escorted onto sets and into editing bays, shown clips both esoteric and familiar, and invited to examine a lot of cool hardware. Check it out...

IN the US, two thirds of teens use instant messaging services regularly, with a full third messaging at least once every day. I am one of the many who grumbles that social media may be harming children’s social and intellectual development. But then, here goes some expert study—suggesting that constant IM’ing and texting among teens may also provide benefits, particularly for those who are introverted. According to a report from the journal Computers in Human Behavior: “People who talk with their real-life friends online also report feeling closer to them than those who just communicate face-to-face, implying a strengthening of their bond.” Now don't ask me what multinationals fund this bullshit.

WRITES NY Times' Charles M. Blow. “Emerging economic powers China and India are heavily investing in educating the world’s future workers while we squabble about punishing teachers and coddling children.” Data from the Center for American Progress: Half of US children get no early childhood education, and we have no national strategy to increase enrollment, and more than a quarter of US children have bad health, such as obesity or asthma, threatening their capacity to learn... Meantime, by 2030, China will have 200 million college graduates — more than the entire US work force, and by 2017, India will graduate 20 million people from high school — or five times as many as in the US.

STUDIES from the American Institute of CPAs show that most parents are poor financial role models for their children. The average $780 allowance per year that American kids get are wasted—mostly spent on toys and hanging out. Majority of children chip in 6.2 hours of housework weekly and then get $65 per month—that sum provides a child enough money in a year to afford an Apple iPad and three Kindles and still have money leftover. Problem is, most parents simply hand money to kids and even pay extra for cellphones, digital downloads, and expenses related to hobbies. Parents say these are necessary expenses—so they toil so hard to keep up with this financial burden.

INTERNATIONAL branch campuses or IBCs are thriving—and Asia is fast-becoming the world’s leading destination. From 2009 to 2011, Singapore saw a 50 percent increase in schools. Branch campuses give schools a shot at building a global brand, but some disagree. Yale's plans to expand in Singapore drew fire from alumni and students alike... But then, what really is education for? To reap wisdom in life—or to gain headstart in living? Practical sense—which most Asian economies have plenty of—does matter at a time when college grads from reputable schools like NYU and Columbia University toil at Starbucks or Target just to pay rent... I guess, the West needs to learn from the East, as well.

THIS extremely intricate world of “hacking” can be confusing. WikiLeaks' Julian Assange is on asylum; hackers like Jonathan James, Adrian Lamo and Kevin Mitnick were all prosecuted. Is there a way to stop them? They could easily be the frail young nerds in a downtown cafe. Hacker Dojo, located in Mountain View CA, is equal parts shared office, lecture hall and after-hours salon for a variety of tinkerers, software coders and entrepreneurs who intend to reinvent the future. City officials want Hacker Dojo to move out on account of non-compliance with city regulations... Harassment? Are they breaking laws? Maybe they're just cooking up a new internet game? Who knows? This is the future!

ARE you still enraged with National Security Agency eavesdropping? In 2002, ex-president Reagan's top security adviser John M. Poindexter laid out a Pentagon program called Total Information Awareness, that proposed to scan electronic info (phone calls, e-mails, financial and travel records) looking for transactions associated with terrorists. That plan was shot down but it doesn't mean the NSA isn't checking on you. But do we still care? “Consider the revealing intelligence that millions of us give to Facebook” writes Shane Harris, a senior writer at Washingtonian. “We are more likely to be outraged by airport screening, and its public inconvenience and indignity, than by unseen monitoring.”

TRACE China's ascent as Masters of the Universe. Recheck “Hongkong, China's” entry to the WTO (World Trade Organization) in 1997, thus becoming a GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) contracting party. GATT is a multilateral agreement regulating international trade. The US and European Union paved way to China's WTO seat. Now, after two decades of negotiations, Russia finally joins WTO. The lower trade barriers that come along with membership will open up new opportunities for foreign companies to do business in Russia. So now Russia will fight it out with China who gets the world's jobs. FACT: Earth's billionaires will be on the dinner table—whoever wins the US presidential elections.

WE have applauded or smirked over campaign braggadocio many times in the past... Not new. Now, here is reality—a bit of “good” news. The number of people living paycheck to paycheck dropped from a 2008 high of 46 percent. That, however, is still alarming. Translated, it says a mere one car repair or medical bill away from financial catastrophe. “Even relatively minor unexpected expenses can quickly mushroom for people who have no savings, because many turn to credit cards or short-term loans and compound their financial burden with interest costs,” says EMore than three years after the Great Recession officially ended, two in five households are still living paycheck to paycheck.

THEY call this thing “sophisticated.” Smartphone apps filling the roles of television remotes, bike speedometers and flashlights. Then, there will be apps acting as medical devices, helping patients monitor their heart rate or manage their diabetes, and be paid for by insurance. “It is intuitive to people, the idea of a prescription,” said Lee H. Perlman, managing director of Happtique, a subsidiary of the Greater New York Hospital Association. Mr. Perlman suggested that a change in the way people think about medicine might be required. An “affluent” humanity's stride to the other side of Stone Age... Imagine a GPS voice: “Recalculating... recalculating. Wrong pill.”

THIS is the future: At the Philips Electronics factory in the Dutch city of Drachten, 128 robot arms assemble electric shavers with yoga-like flexibility. Video cameras guide them through feats well beyond the capability of the most dexterous human. One robot arm forms three perfect bends in two connector wires and slips them into holes almost too small for the eye to see. The arms work so fast that they must be enclosed in glass cages to prevent the people supervising them from being injured. And look, no coffee break — three shifts a day, 365 days a year. All told, the factory here has several dozen workers per shift, about a tenth as many as its sister plant in the Chinese city of Zhuhai.

PR2, a robot—which can pick things up, fold laundry, open doors and bring cups, plates and stuff to people—was introduced to media recently by Willow Garage, a robotics company in Menlo Park CA. It costs $400,000! Many robots are already out there—like those sold by iRobot, which are by now cleaning floors, pools and gutters in more than 8 million homes and offices. The US Army has robots to disarm bombs in war zones. Big Dog, made by Boston Dynamics, is being built to replace some soldiers in battle... Back to PR2. At the same press conference, one robot dropped a soda can on the floor and just stood there, befuddled. It couldn’t figure out what had happened to the can. Dumb robot!

TOUGH times and tougher still to those who are unable to fight... Whatever it takes, big banks want their money (or YOUR money)--via questionable debt collection practices. Companies like American Express, Citigroup and Discover Financial are going to court to recoup their money—but many of the lawsuits rely on erroneous documents, incomplete records and generic testimony from witnesses, according to judges who oversee the cases. "I would say that roughly 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits are flawed and can't prove the person owes the debt," said Noach Dear, a civil court judge in Brooklyn, who said he presided over as many as 100 such cases a day.

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