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Obama fails to secure breakthrough in Japan trade talks

Thursday, April 24, 2014 2:53 am

Trade talks between the United States and Japan failed to produce a breakthrough Thursday, in yet another blow to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

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  • 10 Facebook Settings to check right now

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    As Facebook becomes the window to the Web for its more than 500 million users worldwide, the security of the social network has never been a hotter topic.

    (In fact, your bank is even on Facebook! Check us out here!)

    While it can be hard to make a Facebook account completely hack-proof, you can do a lot.  Here are 10 Facebook settings for you to check now.

    1. Who can see what?

    Your first stop should be your privacy settings, which you can get to under "Account" at the top right of any page.

    Here, make sure you're using a set of custom settings. Click "Customize settings" under the grid on that page to see who can see which parts of your Facebook profile.

    Unless you use your Facebook account as a completely public page, every single one of these options should at least be set to "Friends Only." From there, you can make each setting more specific, keeping your photos hidden for certain people, for example.

    2. Place your friends in lists

    To make the previous tip more powerful, place your Facebook friends in lists. If you begin to define lists such as Coworkers, Best Friends, Employees, Students, etc., you can set each of your settings to be visible or not visible to a whole list of people.

    To do this go to "Edit Friends" under the Account menu. Type in a friends name and add them to a list.

    Then make sure that only your best friends, for example, can see the photos you post. Or make sure that your students or employees don't see your status updates.

    You also can add a friend to a list as you accept their friend request.

    3. How secure is your password?

    This is the front line to your Facebook security and should be taken seriously. Good passwords include capital letters, punctuation, numbers and words that can't be found in the dictionary.

    Resist using anything that someone who knows you well enough could guess (kids, pets, phone numbers, etc.).

    If you think for any reason that your account's security has been breached, change your password immediately. Doing so will end every active session of Facebook for your account, locking anyone else but you out.

    4. Who can find you?

    Facebook also allows you to set what people see if they're not your friend. Under privacy settings, click "View Settings" under the "Connecting on Facebook" setting at the top of the page.

    Here, you can set what people see when they search for you on Facebook.

    Pay special note the bottom option, which allows you to set who can see what you have "liked" on Facebook. Many don't realize that by default this option is set to show everyone on the Web what you like.

    Don't want that future employer to know that you "like" naps or skipping class? This is a good thing to check.

    5. What does my profile look like to Grandpa?

    Even the most conscientious Facebook user can miss a check box or two, putting his or her entire weekend escapade on Facebook for Grandpa to see.

    But the good news is that you can preview what your profile looks like to any of your friends, many of whom can see different things depending on your advanced you have set your privacy settings.

    In your privacy settings, click "Customize Settings" then "Preview My Profile."

    Here, you'll be able to type in any friend's name and see exactly what they see. Very handy.

    6. Browse Facebook securely

    One of Facebook's most vulnerable features is that much of your browsing is done without a secure connection to the Web site. Hackers have exploited this hole by accessing your personal information if you use Facebook on a public or unsecured WiFi network.

    In your account settings, choose Account Security. There's a check box there to enable secure browsing whenever possible. Check that.

    You'll soon see that Facebook will be using https:// instead of http://. That's how you know you're more secure.

    7. Who is logging in as you?

    One of Facebook's greatest security features is the ability to individually approve each computer or mobile device that logs into your account.

    You can name each computer you use Facebook with (work, home, laptop, iPhone, etc.).

    To turn this on, go to your account settings, click on "Account Security" and choose that you want an e-mail or text message when someone tries to log in from a computer that isn't one you've approved.

    Here, you can also see all the open sessions of Facebook tied to your account. Someone logging in from five states away? Click "end activity" and they'll be stopped in their tracks.

    8. Which apps know you?

    As we have used Facebook over the years, each of us has amassed list of applications that have access to our Facebook information.

    To see which apps now have access to our Facebook information, go to your privacy settings and click edit under "Apps and Websites" at the bottom left of the page.

    On the next page, click edit settings next to "Apps you use."

    Here, you'll see a list of all the apps that have your information on file. Many of them are used for convenience, such as integration with the popular Instagram photo-sharing app or commenting services on news Web sites. But there are certainly some you could lose.

    Click the X next to any app you want to yank your information from.

    9. Even your friends' apps know you, too

    This one is even scarier. On the same app privacy page, check out the subhead that says "Info accessible through your friends."

    You may not know it, but anything your friends can see on Facebook can also be seen by any app that your friends add on Facebook -- including apps that you have no idea were ever given access.

    To disallow this, click on edit settings and uncheck all the boxes that allow you to choose what about you can be shared with apps that your friends add. Click save.

    10. Who can post on your wall?

    Facebook security has become a veritable cesspool of spam.

    Many of these spammy links are clickjacking schemes, which spread by posting links on a bunch of your friends' walls.

    The only fool-proof way to prevent these links from gumming up your own wall is to set it so that no one can post directly on your wall. Friends still can comment on your status messages, links and photos, but won't have the ability to leave you a public note.

    To change this setting, head to the customize settings area under privacy. Then uncheck the "Enable" box where it allows friends to post on your wall.

    Courtesy of the The Associated Press -- 8:26 PM, May. 17, 2011

  • Eight Steps to Simplify Your Finances

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    If time is a precious commodity for you, here are eight ideas to save time and reduce the stress and anxiety of managing your financial affairs.

    1. Enroll for direct deposit.  It eliminates trips to the bank and keeps your money working longer.
    2. Sign up for overdraft protection.  By linking your checking account to a savings account or line of credit you avoid the cost, hassle and embarrassment of a bounced check.
    3. Establish an automatic savings plan.  Regular, automatic transfers to a savings account will add up.
    4. Use electronic bill paying.  Eliminate the dreaded task of writing checks.
    5. Consolidate your financial relationships.  Dealing with one institution makes everything easier.
    6. Consider personal finance software.  Many programs make handling your finances easier and quicker.
    7. Build a safety cushion.  Be ready for unexpected expenses or use some extra for a special vacation.
    8. Review your investments.  Make sure your asset allocation matches your time horizon and risk tolerance.
  • What Does The Term "Tax Bracket" Mean?

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    The income tax laws are complex and constantly changing.  Yet, there is one theme that is constant and its understanding may help you identify ways to reduce your tax bill.

    The U. S. tax laws are built around a progressive, marginal rate structure.  Simply speaking, this means the higher your income, the higher the rate of tax you pay on your incremental income.

    Think of our tax system like stair steps.  Each step represents a “bracket” of income that is taxed at a certain rate.  The higher you go, the higher the tax rate on the income in that bracket.  “Segments” of income at lower levels are taxed at lower rates and “segments” of income at higher levels are taxed at higher rates.

     Here are the “brackets” and rates for 2011 tax returns.

     Income Tax Rate Schedules for 2011

    2011 Single Return Rate Schedule

     

    2011  Married Filing Jointly Rate Schedule

    Taxable income levels

    Tax rate

     

    Taxable income levels

    Tax rate

    0 to $8,500

    10%

     

    0 to $17,000

    10%

    $8,501 to $34,500

    15%

     

    $17,001 to $69,000

    15%

    $34,501 to $83,600

    25%

     

    $69,001 to $139,350

    25%

    $83,601 to $174,400

    28%

     

    $139,351 to $212,300

    28%

    $174,401 to $379,150

    33%

     

    $212,301 to $379,150

    33%

    Over $379,150

    35%

     

    Over $379,1500

    35%

    There is a great deal more to our income tax laws like the definition of taxable income, deductions, alternative minimum tax and lots more.  Discussing your tax situation with your tax advisor may help you identify ways to take advantage of this marginal rate system and keep your taxes as low as possible.

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