Monthly Archives: July 2016

31Jul 2016

Airport plans frequent flyer parking perks – News – Standard Speaker – Standard Speaker


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PITTSTON TWP. — Customers who regularly fly out of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport soon could find it easier getting in and out of its parking garage and outdoor lot.

Rather than stopping to pay for parking, they’ll be able to use an airport-issued electronic card in an automated system at the exit gates.

The card will link electronically to the parker’s pre-established account and charge it for the amount of time parked, airport assistant director Michael W. Conner said Thursday.

Airport users will be able to subscribe to the electronic system online. Though it’s meant for frequent airport parkers, anyone can sign up.

“The customer has less to do than they do now, they don’t have to wait in lines anymore,” Conner said.

The bi-county airport board approved Thursday a previously negotiated eight-year extension as part of the deal that includes the automated system. SP Plus now may run the parking lot and garage through July 31, 2021. As part of the deal, SP Plus will install the automated system, estimated to cost $113,000, at its own expense.

“The airport will not incur any costs for the system while it provides just another customer perk,” Conner said.

— Borys Krawczeniuk

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30Jul 2016

New rewards program aimed at keeping River Region schools … – WTVM


MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) –

As students get ready to head back to class across the River Region, authorities are launching an initiative to combat weapons in schools.

They believe bigger rewards for tipsters who step forward with important details will make a difference in exposing possible threats in schools.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and Central Alabama CrimeStoppers have announced a new Gun Deterrent Initiative designed to uncover hidden dangers and keep illegal guns out of schools.

“We’re trying to keep the schools safe by empowering students to be able to turn in dangerous situations such as a gun to an adult or staff member before something occurs,” said Tony Garrett, Executive Director of Central Alabama CrimeStoppers.

Currently, CrimeStoppers offers a $50 gift card to any student who turns in anyone involved in activity they deem to be a danger to the students or staff of their school. They can remain anonymous and expose individuals with guns and knives and anyone involved in drug transactions and theft.

Within the past five years, CrimeStoppers’ Scholastic Tip Line has resulted in 87 criminal arrests and the clearance of 122 criminal cases on school grounds in the River Region.

This school year, the ATF will be offering a $500 reward, through CrimeStoppers, for any tip that leads to the confiscation of a gun on school grounds. It includes after-school sanctioned events.

“This past year, we got three guns out of the schools throughout the River Region. We were thankful that nothing occurred from those three incidents and the students were able to tell someone and they were able to get those guns out of the schools. We feel that was too close though. So that’s why we’re going with the $500 incentive,” Garrett explained.

Corporal Pamela Revels is with the Lee County Sheriff Office School Resource Officer Division. She serves as president of the Alabama Association of School Resource Officers and regional director for the National Association of School Resource Officers. She feels the program is a proactive measure and a way to foster responsibility and safety.

“Our number one mission is to keep our kids safe and we also want to educate them. To be able to do that, you have to have a very safe environment so anything to promote that type of culture is what we try to do. Of course, when you’re talking about firearms in a school, we want to make sure that that’s not happening. So we really want to implore our students to tell someone if they know something because it not only keep them safe and everyone else safe as well,” Revels said.

Moses Harper owns Authority Bail Bonds in Montgomery and he donated money to the reward program. As a former member of law enforcement, he knows the benefits of reporting crimes and being able to stay anonymous.

“It’s going to give even more of an incentive for students or people to get involved and be more forthright in telling what they see or hear or have knowledge of,” Harper said. “I think it’s a good way to enhance community involvement. Also, it’s way to work with our youth today… I figured that if I could help out in any way that would be good.”

The ATF and Central Alabama CrimeStoppers are offering the service to every school system in the River Region to include Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Pike, Butler and Tallapoosa counties.

Garrett met with local agencies Friday to let them know about the program and how it works.

“This will be available for football games and after school events. If a child or student sees some type of danger, they’ll have some type of way to tell an adult. It’s safe and anonymous and without fear of retaliation,” he said. “We’re hoping that we won’t have to pay out a dollar because the students that normally bring the guns to school or has the potential to bring a gun to school, they’ll be afraid to do that because of that’s incentive that’s there for other students to say, “Hey, I want to be safe. I don’t want to get shot in my school so don’t bring it. If you do, I’m going to tell someone.”

To report a gun in a River Region school, call the CrimeStoppers hotline at 215-STOP.

Anonymous tips can also be sent by texting “CACS” plus your message to CRIMES (274637) or to the CrimeStoppers Facebook page

“We view it as a way to reward the student for being a good citizen,” Garrett said. 

To schedule an appointment to discuss in detail how the reward program works and how it can be implemented into your school system, please call Tony Garrett at 334-777-8116 or email at Garrett073.tg@gmail.com.

Through the ATF, CrimeStoppers is also planning on doing drug and gang training programs for school resource officers. Garrett says they are looking for grant funding and resources to help make it economical for local agencies to participate.

Copyright 2016 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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30Jul 2016

Go-go bar owner, others ran $9M credit card theft ring, AG says – NJ.com


TRENTON — A Livingston man and his accomplices used his Morris County strip club to cash in stolen and fraudulently obtained credit and gift cards,  netting $9 million in illicit proceeds over four years, Acting Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said in a statement Friday.

The scheme was carried out at Smiles II of Roxbury, which is owned by Kevin Lipka, 61, and his wife Shelly, 60, Porrino’s office said. Roxbury police began investigating the club and eventually called in the attorney general’s office, which launched a 10-month probe dubbed “Operation Smiles.”

The ring used the credit cards to buy prepaid gift cards at Target and other retailers which were redeemed in phony transactions at Smiles, with the money split among the members of the ring, Porrino said. The cards were also used for direct transactions at the bar, with the cash landing in the business accounts of She-Kev Inc., the bar’s corporate name. Some members of the conspiracy also used the cards to buy liquor at Smiles II or expensive items, authorities said.

Another facet of the alleged scheme involved phony sales of cars on eBay and Craigslist. Prospective purchasers were instructed to use gift cards in the transactions, which were then processed at Smiles II. The ring also allegedly obtained gift cards by targeting the elderly in a common scam in which the victim is told a grandchild has been arrested and needs bail money. The victims were told to buy gift cards and then provide the card information over the phone to someone posing as a police officer.

“These defendants allegedly racked up millions of dollars in illicit proceeds in the back room of a go-go bar, where they spent hours swiping stolen credit cards and ill-gotten gift cards,” Porrino said. “With these arrests, we have frozen their bogus credit and put a stop payment on their criminal schemes.”

The male defendants were all charged with racketeering and money laundering. Kevin and Shelly Lipka were also charged with misconduct by a corporate official and failure to file a tax return, while another defendant, Kevin Bae, 28, of Edgewater, was also charged with failure to file a tax return.

The remaining defendants are  Peter Vasilipous, 71, of Elizabeth,  a manager of Smiles II and Lipka’s alleged partner in the scheme; Eric Olsen, 47, of Roxbury, another manager of Smiles II who allegedly helped manage the scheme; and Jordan Turner, 23, of Jamaica, N.Y. and  Kevin Rodriguez, 23, of Whitehall, Pa., who allegedly brought stolen credit cards and illegally acquired gift cards to Lipka and his associates and shared in the profits.

All the suspects were being held in Morris County on bail ranging from $100,000 to $250,000.

Paul Milo may be reached at pmilo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@PaulMilo2. Find NJ.com on Facebook. 

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29Jul 2016

A Rule of Thumb to Estimate the Value of Your Travel Rewards Miles – Lifehacker Australia


Reward miles are a little misleading. They aren’t always based on how many miles you fly, and the rewards don’t actually equate to miles, either. There are tools to help you compare flight prices in terms of miles, but this rule of thumb works well for estimating.

http://twocents.lifehacker.com/awardace-compa…

Over at Forbes, personal finance writer Casey Bond points out that airline rewards miles can be confusing because 25,000 miles doesn’t at all mean you’ll be able to score 25,000 free travel miles. Here’s how to get a ballpark idea of how much you’ve actually earned, according to your rewards:

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The general rule of thumb for reward miles or any credit card rewards (such as points) is that they are worth $0.01 each,” explained Matthew Coan, owner of credit card comparison website Casavvy.com. …Most cards that offer miles as their rewards make redeeming them for travel expenses your best option. So if you racked up 10,000 “miles” (or points) over the course of a year, you would essentially be able to redeem them towards $100 in travel expenses.

Again, it’s not an exact amount—if you’re looking for something more precise, try this tool—but it’s a decent rule for quickly figuring out how far your miles will take you. For more detail, head to the full post at the link below.

4 Simple Ways to Earn Miles And Get Free Money For Travel | Forbes

Photo by Ed Schipul

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29Jul 2016

How This Woman Turned Her Passion For Wine and Travel Into A Career – Forbes


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How This Woman Turned Her Passion For Wine and Travel Into A Career
Forbes
When Gretchen Thomas started working in the kitchens of restaurants in her native Kentucky at age 14, she had no idea it would lead to a career that would allow her to travel the world. “My mother just needed me to burn off some energy and have a job



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29Jul 2016

This Week In Credit Card News: DNC Emails Contain Card Numbers; Card Info Still Confusing Consumers – Forbes


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550 KTSA

This Week In Credit Card News: DNC Emails Contain Card Numbers; Card Info Still Confusing Consumers
Forbes
WikiLeaks' DNC Email Trove Includes Social Security Numbers, Credit Card Info. WikiLeaks posted 19,252 searchable emails, including 8,034 attachments, from inside the Democratic National Committee. WikiLeaks says the emails are from the accounts of …
Credit card rates for Friday, July 29 – Bankrate.comBankrate.com
Many Credit Cards Drop International Fees – Connecticut PostCT Post
Credit Card Fees Falling550 KTSA
Credit.com News (blog) -Atlanta Journal Constitution -Economic Times
all 11 news articles »



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29Jul 2016

Trump's strategy to distract from Democratic convention carries risks, rewards – WJLA


Following Donald Trump’s unusual mid-Democratic National Convention press conference Wednesday, two schools of thought quickly formed among political observers.

Liberals and conservative Trump critics saw his comments, particularly his call for Russia to hack and release Hillary Clinton’s personal emails, as disastrous and disqualifying. Some argued that the Republican nominee felt the need to act out because the media was so focused on the Democrats.

“Trump’s statement is impossible to defend on the merits,” wrote Dara Lind of Vox. “But it’s actually really easy to understand why he made it: Donald Trump hasn’t been in the news yet all week.”

However, others saw Trump’s actions as a strategic maneuver to derail coverage of the convention. They say he succeeded in hijacking the news cycle and drawing attention to voters’ concerns about Clinton’s email practices as secretary of state.

“By answering reporters’ questions about Russia and bringing up the Clinton email scandal on his own, Trump once again directed attention to one of Clinton’s greatest liabilities at precisely the moment she didn’t want it discussed,” said Byron York in the Washington Examiner.

Holding a press conference on the third day of the opposing party’s convention was one of several unusual moves Trump has made this week. In addition to conducting multiple national media interviews, the candidate has held rallies in key swing states, including Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Experts say candidates traditionally lay low during their opponent’s convention because they realize they will have difficulty getting their own message out. Clinton held few public events last week, allowing campaign aides and surrogates to challenge Republican criticisms in the media.

“It’s usually not the lead characters who are doing this sort of counter-punching,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a former political media consultant and a professor of advertising at Boston University.

“Trump is always his own front-man and he is continuing his splendid track record of breaking pretty much every political rule in the book,” Berkovitz said.

According to Michael Cornfield, associate professor at the George Washington University Graduate School of Public Management, this may be unusual behavior for a politician but it is typical for Trump at this point.

“Most of the political establishment must feel as though they’ve wandered into a screening of ‘The Dark Knight,’” he said. “Donald Trump’s strategy is the strategy of chaos. He’s the Joker.”

Robert Lehrman, a former speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore, said Trump may not have the staff and resources to leave the counter-messaging entirely to others, so taking on his Democratic critics directly may be his best option.

“You don’t want to leave the whole field to the other team,” said Lehrman, now an adjunct professor at American University.

“Trump’s campaign from the beginning rejects every campaign norm,” said David Niven, a former political speechwriter and a professor at the University of Cincinnati. “He rejects fundamentally that there’s ever a moment that he can’t be in the spotlight.”

Given the Democrats’ constant refrain about Trump’s recklessness, encouraging cyberattacks against his opponent may not be the best way to seize that spotlight.

“I think the downside is when the Democrats are presenting themselves as the sober and responsible choice, he is helping them make their point,” Niven said.

During the 75-minute question-and-answer session on Wednesday morning, which was carried live on cable networks, Trump made several statements that could have been newsworthy on their own. The Russia comments made immediate headlines, and they dominated media coverage throughout the afternoon.

According to Berkovitz, the media perception that this was an error on Trump’s part may be missing a broader point.

“I think it makes sense because he is inserting himself into the Democratic message machine,” he said. “Even though a lot of people think what he has done is detrimental to him, what he has done is made people talk about emails.”

Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary and her deletion of 30,000 emails her attorneys deemed to be personal is “part of what makes ‘Crooked Hillary’ crooked,” Berkovitz said of Trump’s nickname for his opponent. So even if the media is now talking about Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, any discussion that involves the emails could be bad for Clinton.

“What it does is it keeps the conversation moving in a direction that Trump wants, even though many people perceive it’s backfiring on him,” he said. “But at least the topic is what he has chosen.”

Lehrman said that is a plausible rationale for Trump’s behavior.

“I think he might have said to himself, ‘Let me remind people of her emails,’” he said.

Cornfield also suggested Trump succeeded in dredging up a very real problem for Clinton.

“I think it was a masterstroke,” he said. “Does that mean that he will win more votes? I don’t know about that. But did he disrupt the news cycle? Did he disorient opponents? Yes, and that’s been his strategy all along.”

While Rush Limbaugh and others have suggested the Clinton campaign fell into Trump’s trap by responding to his words, Democrats had no real choice but to acknowledge them.

“At this point, he’s the nominee and as baffling as that may be to the Democrats, they have to make the direct comparison,” Niven said. “So every time they see a good contrast, they’re going to engage with him.”

Trump’s comments fed directly into the narrative Democrats have been building in Philadelphia, and at least one speaker, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, revised his speech to address them.

Lehrman said Democrats may have overreacted, but a response was necessary.

“Even if you do it the wrong way, I think that the other side has to do something strong and immediate,” he said.

According to Cornfield, specific examples of Trump’s past behavior like the fraud allegations over Trump University or making his products overseas are more potent issues than dwelling on outrageous things he says.

“I just think reacting to his comments is counterproductive… They’re better off when they attack what he’s done than what he’s just said,” he said.

Throughout the campaign, Trump has demonstrated an ability to effortlessly commandeer the media’s attention. Despite the many controversies his words have spawned, he did defeat 16 Republicans in the primaries and some polls do show him beating Clinton now.

“He is sort of going with that classic, old-time PR strategy, which is as long as you spell my name right, there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” Berkovitz said.

Rivals have attempted to paint him as unqualified and lacking the temperament for the presidency for over a year, and indeed polling indicates most voters feel he does not have the right temperament. More than 40 percent still consistently support him, though.

“The quandary for the Democrats is, what’s going to be the kryptonite that finally crashes this guy?” Berkovitz said.

Trump’s apparent belief that all publicity is positive may have served him well in the primaries, according to Niven, but he is now facing a different electorate and a different opponent.

“His premise is to reject everything that’s ever been done before, and there’s some advantage in that,” he said. “You saw what it did to Jeb Bush for example.”

Facing a coordinated effort by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party to portray him as reckless and unprepared, that strategy could backfire.

“When you help the Democrats tell their story, attention is not good for Donald Trump,” Niven said. “That’s campaign 101. He understands brilliantly how to get attention, but I don’t know that he fully understands the danger of that attention running against a professional campaign.”

Based on his fear-driven acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last week and his comments at the press conference Wednesday, Lehrman said Trump appears to still be appealing to his fans instead of expanding his base.

“It’s like he’s preaching to the converted.”

This could provide an opening for Clinton in her primetime acceptance speech Thursday.

“What Hillary has to do is pay attention to the people outside the hall,” Lehrman said. “Of course the people in the hall are going to jump up and down and cheer for you. That’s why they’re there.”

If Clinton can connect with viewers at home in the handful of swing states that will decide the election, she may succeed where Trump has so far failed.

A Gallup poll this week found that response to Trump’s convention speech was the lowest of any the company has ever tested. More than half of Americans said the convention overall made them less likely to vote for Trump, the highest percentage in the 15 times Gallup has asked the question.

“There’s a different audience now for his act,” Lehrman said, “and he hasn’t evolved at all for this new audience.”

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29Jul 2016

4 Simple Ways to Earn Miles And Get Free Money For Travel – Forbes


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4 Simple Ways to Earn Miles And Get Free Money For Travel
Forbes
Low-cost flights, heavily discounted hotel rooms, extra spending cash; ask just about anyone if they'd like to travel on the cheap this summer and you'd be hard-pressed to hear a “no.” Yet about four in five U.S. adults are saying just that – and

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29Jul 2016

Airport plans frequent flyer parking perks – Standard Speaker


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PITTSTON TWP. — Customers who regularly fly out of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport soon could find it easier getting in and out of its parking garage and outdoor lot.

Rather than stopping to pay for parking, they’ll be able to use an airport-issued electronic card in an automated system at the exit gates.

The card will link electronically to the parker’s pre-established account and charge it for the amount of time parked, airport assistant director Michael W. Conner said Thursday.

Airport users will be able to subscribe to the electronic system online. Though it’s meant for frequent airport parkers, anyone can sign up.

“The customer has less to do than they do now, they don’t have to wait in lines anymore,” Conner said.

The bi-county airport board approved Thursday a previously negotiated eight-year extension as part of the deal that includes the automated system. SP Plus now may run the parking lot and garage through July 31, 2021. As part of the deal, SP Plus will install the automated system, estimated to cost $113,000, at its own expense.

“The airport will not incur any costs for the system while it provides just another customer perk,” Conner said.

— Borys Krawczeniuk

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28Jul 2016

23 Companies That Will Help You Travel The World For Free (And Maybe Even Pay You To Do It) – Forbes


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23 Companies That Will Help You Travel The World For Free (And Maybe Even Pay You To Do It)
Forbes
If you're willing to do a little work while you're on vacation, these companies will help you get most — if not all — of your travel costs covered. Some will even pay you a stipend or a salary. It's a trend that is taking off, especially among young



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