FINANCE

Federal Jobs Registration

Medicine Bidding May Hurt Seniors Nuclear ScienceCareer Opportunities Employment Eligibility Backroom Deals Worth Billions Help For Women Business Owners Benefits of Credit Cards and Debit Cards Social Security Information Online

A Key Step Is Required For Many Jobs

(NAPSI)—The Supreme Court recently reaffirmed that those men who fail to register with the Selective Service System can legally be denied a federal job. In addition, many states and municipalities now link their jobs to Selective Service registration. Even some government contractors are now requiring proof of registration for employment.

What To Do

Taking a few minutes to register, young men, 18-25 years old, can maintain their eligibility for these jobs throughout their careers, and at the same time remain eligible for a number of federal job-training programs, such as those that are tied to the Workforce Investment Act. Registration also means being eligible for government-funded student financial aid, including Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, National Direct Student Loans, and College Work Study.

Virtually all young men living in the United States-regardless of their citizenship status-must register with the Selective Service System within 30 days of their 18th birthday. Immigrant men on valid visas are not required to register.

Registration

Registration is easily done at any U.S. Post Office, by U.S. mail or online.

For more information about registration, visit www.sss.gov.

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"Competitive" Bidding May Hurt Seniors

(NAPSI)—Many Americans are taking their health care into their own hands in a surprising way.

They're calling Congress at (202) 224-3121 and asking their representatives what's being done about Medicare's bidding program for durable medical equipment and services. This type of equipment, which includes oxygen, hospital beds and wheelchairs, helps to keep seniors and people with disabilities safe and independent at home. The current system has alarmed patients and policy experts alike.

Durable or home medical equipment and services also help control health care spending by preventing costly stays in emergency rooms, hospitals and nursing homes. Hundreds of patients, however, say Medicare's bidding program makes it harder to get medically required equipment and limits the choices of equipment and providers.

A recent study in The Quarterly Journal of Economics found that the system "fails to generate competitive prices of goods and fails to satisfy demand."

More about this issue and home care in general is at the American Association for Homecare site: http://action.aahomecare.org.

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Nuclear Science Offers Lucrative Opportunities

(NAPSI)—Those counting on a lucrative career after studying math or science may want to consider a career in nuclear science and technology.

Nuclear engineers and technicians tackle problems in consumer and industrial power, space exploration, water supply, food supply, environment and pollution, health and transportation.

As a nuclear engineer, you may develop designs for the nuclear plants for electric power and ships or apply radiation in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. You may also develop ways to use radiation to produce and preserve food supplies or design power plants to power satellites and deep-space probes.

According to the American Nuclear Society, nuclear engineers command the third-highest median income among the engineering professions at $100,000/year.

More professionals in this field are needed domestically and internationally, both to fill new positions and openings created by those who are retiring.

To learn more, visit www.ans.org/pi/edu/students/careers.

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Employment Eligibility

(NAPSI)—If you're hunting for a job, you'll want to use every tool you can to ensure that everything is in order.

Here's How

Self Check is a free, Internet-based service that can be used by anyone in the U.S. over the age of 16 to confirm his or her employment eligibility. Self Check is now available nationwide in both English and Spanish. It gives workers access to confirm the same records that employers check in E-Verify.

If a mismatch occurs with your employment eligibility records, it tells you how to resolve that issue before you meet your next employer.

Self Check is part of E-Verify, a Department of Homeland Security program. E-Verify is used by many employers to verify the employment eligibility of new employees. With Self Check, workers can check their own employment eligibility.

Learn More

For further information, you can visit www.uscis.gov/selfcheck and www.radioonesource.com/19342/selfcheck.html or call (888) 897-7781.

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Backroom Deals Threaten American Interests

(NAPSI)—Billions of dollars in mining assets belonging to companies like Alcoa, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, American oil company Hyperdynamics Corporation and their shareholders could be handed off to middlemen thanks to a secret deal struck by the government of Guinea .

Not long after the Obama administration lifted sanctions against Guinea , a new mining code was passed that gives 15 percent of every mine in Guinea to the state mining company free of charge, including another 20 percent at market rates. This law will cost billions of dollars in current assets to U.S. and European free-market businesses and their shareholders.

The agreement, which may be in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Dodd-Frank Act, has taken place between Guinea and a well-known businessman known for trading diamonds in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo named Walter Hennig, who is based out of South Africa . The deal could prove an embarrassing election year misstep for the Obama administration, which restored the country to privileged trade partner status last October. The deal, which puts billions of dollars of U.S. investments at risk, was made between Mvelaphanda Holdings, whose founder is listed in the United Nations report on illegal transactions under the Oil-for-Food Program, and the U.S.-based firm Och-Ziff. Och-Ziff's billionaire CEO has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to U.S. politicians and PACs and continues to provide support for candidates in the upcoming elections.

Widely documented media reports published recently show that last April, five months before the code became law, Mohamed Lamine Fofana, the mining minister, agreed to a $25m loan with Palladino Capital, an investment vehicle registered in the British Virgin Islands. The deal was signed by Fofana, Kerfalla Yansane, the finance minister, and Samuel Mebiane, listed as "proxy holder" for Palladino. Hennig set up Palladino Holdings in 2003 as a vehicle for "mining, energy and other assets in Africa." The company is close partners with U.S. investment company Och-Ziff.

As reported in London's Sunday Times recently, the terms of the loan are rumored to include a provision that if the cash-strapped government defaults, Palladino can convert the debt into a 30 percent stake in the operations of the national mining company. This would potentially be worth billions. Simandou alone-owned by Rio Tinto, China's state giant Chinalco, resources tycoon Beny Steinmetz and Vale, a Brazilian iron ore group-is worth at least $10 billion.

The Palladino agreement was signed less than a month after Hennig signed a memorandum of understanding under which another vehicle, Floras Bell, would become a "partner" with the government in the mining industry.

Guinea has the world's largest reserve of bauxite and is home to Simandou, a huge undeveloped iron ore deposit. These resources are vital to U.S. business and national security interests.

Some people have begun to protest the asset seizure tactics and the government has recently said publicly that it would repay the money, but so far Western governments appear, for the most part, unconcerned over the backroom deal.

American oil company Hyperdynamics Corporation, Alcoa, BHP Billiton, steel group ArcelorMittal and Rusal, the Russian aluminum producer, all have assets in the country affected by the new code and each stands to lose billions.

Many individuals, some politicians in the States and Europe, and some entities like the World Bank have been calling on political oversight committees and watchdog groups to further look into the recent Guinea laws and those involved.

The United States may be forced to intervene, having previously signed an investment guarantee agreement with Guinea that offers political risk insurance to American investors through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). If this occurs, then the issue may not only gain the attention of legal oversight, but could very well become an issue for both Obama and Congress to contend with.

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Five Innovative Solutions To Help Women Small-Business Owners Grow And Adapt To Today's Economy

(NAPSI)—The recession was tough on many small-business owners. But new research shows that many of today's women-owned businesses have adapted and emerged stronger from their experiences during the tough economy. "Small Business: Lessons of the Recession" is an in-depth look by Chase Card Services, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Center for Women's Business Research at how women small-business owners fared during the recession. The research provides many valuable insights, including five innovative ideas that many women small-business owners can apply to their business plans no matter how the economy is doing:

1. Social media is not just for socializing. It became a valuable business tool during the recession. Half the women now use social media compared to 4 percent before the recession. Of those surveyed, 56 percent said social media is "very important" or "important" to their business. Social media sites are free platforms that can easily connect business owners to customers-a cost-effective way to promote your business.

2. It's wise to constantly examine your customer base. Although 54 percent focused on generating new business among existing customers during the recession, one in four are now marketing to a customer base that's different from prerecession targets. Always think critically about your customer base and make your decisions on the numbers. Targeting new types of customers requires a thorough analysis of profit and growth potential.

3. It's good to become involved in community activities. Nearly two out of five women-owned businesses increased their involvement during the recession in civic, social or school activities to increase exposure for their business while creating value for their community. It can be a particularly cost-effective way to strengthen sales efforts.

4. It pays to control costs. During the recession, 45 percent of the firms focused on controlling costs as a remedy to the economic times, while 31 percent concentrated on increased sales. Looking back, 59 percent feel their focus area was the right choice.

5. The right kind of help can pay off. Nearly a quarter of women-owned businesses that sought outside help to control costs or increase sales during the recession had slightly better sales records than those that did not. It's important, however, to do your research and set expectations; otherwise, it can cost you more in the long run.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of many communities in the United States . Chase Card Services uses its financial expertise to create innovative products that help small businesses succeed. For example, Ink from Chase is a portfolio of business credit cards that were specifically designed with small-business owners in mind. They include everything from flexible payment options to rewards programs that they can reinvest in their business.

To help businesses focus on what is really important, Chase created Jot, a mobile application and online tool that lets business owners easily track, categorize and organize business expenses on the go from an iPhone or Android device. This is especially useful for small-business owners who do not have the time to manually monitor and manage their expenses, or the resources to hire someone to do it for them.

To learn more about credit cards for business owners, go to www.chase.com/ink. To learn more about the "Small Business: Lessons of the Recession" study, visit www.nfib.com/wobstudy.

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Take Advantage Of The Benefits Of Credit Cards And Debit Cards

(NAPSI)—While consumers have become savvy when it comes to managing their money, many could take greater advantage of using either a credit card or a debit card by better understanding the benefits of each.

Below are considerations to help individuals choose for themselves when the benefits of using a credit card outweigh those of using a debit card, or vice versa.

Benefits of Debit Cards:

• Withdraw Cash When Making Purchases—Debit cards not only allow access to cash from ATMs, but also the ability to withdraw money when making a purchase.

• No Balance Due at Month's End—Charges made using a debit card are pulled directly from a checking account and not added to a credit card balance. Some consumers like the freedom of not worrying about a balance at the end of the month and are able to better establish a monthly budget.

• No Due Dates—To avoid interest charges, credit card users must pay close attention to due dates and pay off their balance. Debit cards, on the other hand, pull money from a checking account immediately, eliminating worry about when a balance will be due and any interest that could result from missing the payment due date.

Benefits of Credit Cards:

• Earn Rewards on Daily Purchases—Many credit cards earn rewards. And if consumers pay off their credit card when the payment is due, no interest will accrue on everyday purchases such as gas and groceries.

• Building Credit History—Using a credit card responsibly may help to build good credit, which may make it easier to get loans and better interest rates.

• Funds to Make Large or Unexpected Purchases—Whether it's a large purchase, such as new furniture, or an unexpected expense like a last-minute home repair, credit cards offer access to spending limits typically greater than one's checking account balance.

Security Benefits—Credit cards offer the security of funds not being tied directly to a checking account, as they are with debit cards. So if fraudulent activity occurs, the funds in a checking account are not depleted. However, Fifth Third Bank's new DUO Card, which is the first and only option available to combine the benefits and features of both a credit card and a debit card into one, allows consumers to use a debit card without sacrificing this security feature. With this card, only transactions made using a security PIN are tied directly to a checking account (i.e., debit purchases), which adds an additional layer of protection.

The decision as to when to use a credit card versus a debit card is a personal one, as there are benefits to both, and no two people manage their money in exactly the same way. With options like Fifth Third Bank's DUO Card, these personal decisions are that much easier—with the security, convenience and flexibility of both a credit card and a debit card all in one.

For more information, visit www.my53card.com/DUO or a Fifth Third Banking Center in the following states: Ohio, Florida, Georgia , Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Note to Editors: The products featured within this story are only applicable to certain states in which Fifth Third Bank operates, including Ohio, Florida, Georgia , Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia. Lending is subject to credit review and approval. Fifth Third Bank. Member FDIC.

 

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Securely Access Your Social Security Earnings Information Online

(NAPSI)—Secure and convenient online access to your Social Security earnings and benefit information is available due in part to fraud prevention services that help the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA).

The SSA uses Experian fraud prevention services to securely authenticate and safeguard the identities of consumers who now have online access to their Social Security earnings and benefit information through the SSA's new online Social Security Statement.

The Statement is simple and easy to use and provides people with estimates that can help them plan for retirement. The online Statement also provides estimates for disability and survivors benefits, making it an important financial planning tool. In addition to helping with financial planning, the online Statement offers a convenient way to determine whether your earnings are accurately posted to your Social Security records.

To get a personalized online Statement, people age 18 and older must be able to provide information about themselves that matches information already on file with Social Security. Then, Social Security uses Precise IDSM, Experian's fraud detection and prevention platform, to securely authenticate and further verify the person's identity. Once verified, the person can create a "My Social Security" account with a unique user name and password to access his or her online Statement.

To get your Social Security Statement online, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement.

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