Sunday, July 31, 2011

Choice between debt management and debt elimination | Financial ...

A very common problem for too many Americans is overwhelming credit card debt. Many people blindly pay their monthly minimum payments without any knowledge that can never leave their debt.

When a person realizes that they are trapped in an endless cycle of debt, you can then admit that help is needed. What people may not know what help is available and how to find them.

Understand all the options to get rid of the debt canbe very confusing. Choosing the best plan of action can also cause the debt burden in the first place.

One option is to enroll in a debt management program. A debt management company will try to work with creditors to reduce interest rates and waive any fees, as over-the-limit fees and late fees. Please note the words "attempt". There is no guarantee that creditors will agree to lower the interest rate or waive fees. In fact, theInterest rate on a card can be informed when a credit card company in financial difficulties.

With a debt management program, the budget is analyzed to determine the amount of money per month you can make a part with the repayment of this debt began, and a plan for regular payments to creditors for a certain dollar amount. Once the creditor sees a pattern of regular payments to reduce the amount of capital that can accept the interest rates even lowerfurther.

For a debt management program to be effective, the debt must be paid within five years. You must be able to afford to continue making regular payments. Remember that the interest continues to accrue, so that payments are not all the capital invested. Part of the interest payments will continue to be applied, as well as any monthly fee charged by the management company.

The debt management company shouldYou with an amortization schedule, the pay level of interest and principal payments will be every month, month after month. With this program you can see exactly how long it takes to be debt-free under the payment plan. This program may change, however, because the adjustment of interest rates, overtime payments or missed payments. You should look for another management company, unless they can provide this program.

If you are unable to devise a plan tohave paid the debt within five years, a debt management program is not for you. One way to check is a program of debt elimination.

A debt elimination program allows a person legally walk away from 100% of unsecured debt credit card without bankruptcy, consolidation or refinancing. A person can use this program only once. It is a sort of financial "do-over".

With a debt elimination program, a person can choose which cardsto eliminate and which to keep. The ballots can not be used. The ultimate goal is to learn to live without a credit card at all.

Debt elimination does not happen overnight. A good program to be debt free in 6 to 12 months. There is also an education on the credit card system so that you understand how and why an elimination program can work.

Student loans, medical expenses, and all guaranteed loans does not apply to a program of debt elimination.Only major credit cards, signature loans and unsecured lines-of-credit are applicable. For these types of debts can be a real program to eliminate the financial aspect for people restart.

Choice between debt management and debt elimination


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Wall Street ends worst week in year on debt stalemate (Reuters)

NEW YORK (Reuters) ? Stocks ended the worst week in a year as time runs out on Washington to reach agreement before the government loses its ability to borrow money.

The S&P 500 fell every day this week and was down 3.9 percent for the week as legislators failed to work out an agreement to raise the federal borrowing limit, which expires on Tuesday. Investors also worry about the likelihood of a U.S. credit downgrade.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (.VIX), a gauge of investor fear, jumped as much as 9 percent to its highest level since mid-March before paring its rise.

Natalie Trunow, chief investment officer of equities at Calvert Investment Management in Bethesda, Maryland, said investors are taking a more defensive stance, possibly moving more into cash.

"It's frustrating for investors and for U.S. citizens to see this unfold in the way it has been," she said.

"From an overall asset allocation standpoint, in an environment like this, you get bigger moves into cash and safe havens."

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) was down 96.87 points, or 0.79 percent, at 12,143.24. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX) was down 8.39 points, or 0.65 percent, at 1,292.28. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) was down 9.87 points, or 0.36 percent, at 2,756.38.

U.S. President Barack Obama told Republicans and Democrats to find a way "out of this mess." The United States will be unable to borrow money to pay its bills if Congress does not raise the debt limit by August 2.

A second attempt for a vote in the House of Representatives is expected after the close of trading on Friday after a bill was modified to try to win over more conservative lawmakers. The measure has little chance of passing in the Senate, however.

At least one credit rating agency has said it is likely to lower the United States' prized tripe-A rating if the cuts in Washington don't go far enough.

"Will the deal be enough to satisfy the credit rating agencies is really what's at stake here," Trunow said, whose firm manages about $14.8 billion.

The S&P utility index (.GSPU) is down 2.1 percent for the week, while the Dow is down 4.2 percent and the Nasdaq is down 3.6 percent for the week.

Major indexes also posted losses for the month: the Dow and S&P 500 each lost 2.2 percent while the Nasdaq fell 0.6 percent.

The S&P 500 briefly fell below its 200-day moving average, seen as key support, and bounced back from its worst levels of the day.

Weak economic data also weighed on equities. The U.S. economy stumbled badly in the first half of this year and came dangerously close to contracting in the January-March period.

Among declining stocks, Chevron Corp (CVX.N), the second-largest U.S. oil company, fell 1 percent to $104.02 despite reporting a 43 percent jump in quarterly profit that beat estimates.

Energy led declines on the Dow on Friday, but the industrial sector was among the hardest hit for the week. The S&P industrial sector (.GSPI) lost 6.1 percent this week, following disappointing results from companies including Illinois Tool Works (ITW.N).

"The industrial sector appears to be pricing in lower earnings ahead," said Chris Burba, a short-term market technician at Standard & Poor's in New York.

Some 8.58 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq, above the daily average of 7.48 billion.

Declines outweighed advances on the NYSE by about 2 to 1, while on Nasdaq losers outpaced winners by about 7 to 5.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Kenneth Barry)


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"Jeopardy!" host injured after chasing burglar in SF

AP/Dan Steinberg

Alex Trebek arrives at the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday, June 19, 2011.

"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek says he snapped his Achilles tendon while running after a burglar who had stolen cash, a bracelet and other items from his San Francisco hotel room.

The 71-year-old Trebek tells KGO-TV that he also injured his other leg while falling down during the chase early Wednesday. He was on crutches later Wednesday when he hosted the National Geographic World Championship at Google headquarters in Mountain View.

San Francisco police Lt. Troy Dangerfield says 56-year-old old Lucinda Moyers was arrested on suspicion of felony burglary and receiving stolen property. The cash and bracelet haven't been found but other items were recovered. Dangerfield says officers found several items near the hotel ice machine.

Trebek is scheduled for surgery on Friday and is expected to be in a cast for six weeks.


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Why Is Floor Sanding Needed And What ... - Your Home Improvement Place

Floor restoration is definitely an attention which every wooden floor needs. It?s ironic that the most regularly used part of our household is offered least importance. Yet it can do its job well and definately will keep doing as long as it can, but ultimately when it?s time it is your turn to give it attention. The process involves several types of techniques depending on the form of floor you?ve got. In case your flooring is wood, you?ll need polishing and smoothening processes for the wood. There are companies that do cleaning, have specialized and a professional approach towards the work. They may also offer an after care maintenance package combined with the service.

The company is specialized in sealing floors and definately will offer up custom and personalized solution through the team that has been given professional training that is targeted on sanding a floor, buffing, cleaning, grinding and utmost importance given to the customer?s uniqueness. The education involves use of handling advanced and sophisticated flooring equipments needed in the process, and understanding of the innovative technology which assists in achieving a higher quality much more than what customer expects.

The company also offers floor sanding in London service along with maximum focus detail. The procedure is mainly devoted to the quality and the reliability of the information used. The ground preparation will begin only after proper discussion using the client and when the customer has a clear thought of the way the final product will look like. Flooring companies may have many contracts with some leading suppliers with an extensive range of flooring choices, beadings, insulating materials and skirting boards.

The parquet floors is handled very beautifully by the wooden flooring experienced team as well as the customer care team. The customers when interacted with the team may get a wide range of decorative options and solutions.

The solid floor fitting is also done with exactly the same attention and care. The team makes certain that the subfloor may be installed properly and can handle your new floor without causing any damage. All the methods which are utilized in order to undertake restoring and cleaning processes are chosen based on the form of the floor material that is required being installed. The adhesives which are used during the installation shall allow the floor to move naturally during change of seasons and also at the same time maintain its solid state.

The company team also handles the floor restoration in London work. The materials and equipments used are absolutely non-hazardous and safe. A professional specialist from the company should be able to carefully evaluate the causes of damages and suggest how to prevent them. They will provide you with a proper estimate from the repairs and be sure that minimum cost is barred by the customer in the process. The repairing services are built through number of experience in floor installation strategies. The repair service team will be able to offer using the minimum cost required. You can also get a totally free advice or even an immediate on location visit if someone makes a call.


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Saturday, July 30, 2011

US seniors fear hard times ahead if no debt deal (AFP)

WASHINGTON (AFP) ? Retired CIA analyst Ruth Washington is one of the lucky ones. She says she could survive for six months if Congress fails to reach a debt deal and her Social Security payments are cut off.

But she and other senior citizens are not optimistic about the near future -- they say their loved ones could suffer, and they are angry at lawmakers on Capitol Hill for allowing politics to endanger their livelihoods.

"I'm fine. I live well, not beyond my means. It just frightens me to think what all those people on Social Security are going to do without money. What's going to happen if they don't receive a check?" Washington, 83, told AFP.

"If the government delays my pension, I have about six months that I could survive on my own."

Washington spends some of her days at the Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center, a gathering place for retirees in a predominantly black neighborhood in the northwest section of the US capital.

She knits, listens to jazz and talks politics with her friends. These days, the battle of attrition between Democrats and Republicans over a plan to avert a calamitous US debt default is the hottest topic on the agenda.

The world's top economy has said it will no longer be able to borrow funds to pay its bills on August 2 if a deal is not reached -- potentially depriving the 54 million Americans on Social Security of their much-needed payments.

Donald Gaines, an 81-year-old retired US Treasury legal expert, said he too could "survive for quite a while" without his pension payments, but worried about his loved ones.

"I own my house, I own my car, I have comfortable savings," he said.

But Gaines said his son is in trouble. After banks allowed him to borrow 2.5 times the value of his home, he lost his job, and his house went into foreclosure.

"I'm sure I'm going to have to maintain the position of helping my relatives and my close friends -- I couldn't sit back and watch them," Gaines said.

The AARP, the country's main advocacy group for seniors, sent an open letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to "address the growing anxiety" among those worried that their benefits will be cut off with little warning.

"Beneficiaries need to know that payments will continue, regardless of the Congressional discussion over an agreement to raise the nation?s debt limit," the letter said.

"Without Social Security benefits, unprecedented hardship would befall millions of Americans who rely on these earned benefits to pay for life necessities such as food, medications, utilities and shelter."

Disabled veterans have taken their cause to Facebook, organizing a virtual march on Washington this week to push the government to "honor its moral obligations to those who sacrificed so much in the name of freedom."

Preston Lee, a 78-year-old former civil servant and accountant, is not alone in voicing frustration at the political deadlock over how to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit and curb the ballooning US budget deficit.

"Most of the people I talk with feel that the politicians are really not doing their job," Lee said. "Do I trust them? I don't have the choice but to trust them."

Washington said she was "angry" and accused Republicans of having ulterior motives.

"I don't think it's about the debt ceiling -- it's about Obama. They want him to fail and this is a way of getting him to fail. They could have solved this problem a long time ago," she said.

Gaines agreed, calling the situation "outrageous and completely unnecessary."

"It's strictly politics. The Republicans do not want to see Obama succeed in anything. Their whole program is designed to keep him from going a second term," he said.

"One sentence and a bill could solve the whole problem, but they go so far as to put the whole country in jeopardy just to keep the president from being re-elected."


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Hollywood wins UK piracy victory against BT (Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) ? Major Hollywood studios won a test case against Britain's largest internet provider in the High Court on Thursday in their fight against online piracy, the Press Association reported.

The judge said he would impose an order to restrict BT customers' access to a site that aggregates pirated material following the legal action taken by the Motion Picture Association of America.

The victory for studios including Paramount Pictures and Disney Enterprises is believed to be the first case in the UK in which an internet provider has been forced to block access to a website under the 1988 Copyright, Design and Patents Act.

"I will make an order substantially in the form sought by the studios," Mr Justice Arnold said.

The piracy website Newzbin2 has around 700,000 members who pay to download content from the site, which appears to have a large UK base, asking members to pay in pounds sterling.

Around 70 percent of the content available on Newzbin2 is television programs and films.

"Today's result is an important victory in the battle against a commercial pirate site which refused to operate within the law," said Lord Puttnam, president of the Film Distributors' Association.

Simon Milner, director of group industry policy at BT told Reuters the company thinks the ruling is "helpful" and is not going to appeal against the decision.

He said that following the judgment, BT must now look at how the operation to cut off access to the Newzbin2 website would function but could not provide details of this immediately.

Milner added that more ,similar cases could follow after the order is imposed on BT.

BT said in a statement: "This is a helpful judgment, which provides clarity on this complex issue. It clearly shows that rights holders need to prove their claims and convince a judge to make a court order."

The company added that it will return to court after the summer to explain what kind of order it believes will be appropriate.

Chris Marcich, president and managing director of the Motion Picture Association (EMEA) said: "This court action was never an attack on ISPs but we do need their cooperation to deal with the Newzbin site which continually tries to evade the law and judicial sanction."

(Created by Clare Kane; Editing by Steve Addison)


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RealTime Fantasy Sports - New coach Harbaugh gets going with 49ers ...

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - A hyped-up Jim Harbaugh bounced from drill to drill, observing the offensive line, quarterbacks and special teams units in a 25-minute span as his first practice in charge of the San Francisco 49ers began at last.

Harbaugh's staff set up hurdles on the field for Day 1 of his first training camp as an NFL coach. The weight room is now outside and right at the ready. Motivational banners hang from different areas around team headquarters, some featuring the very words Harbaugh used during a successful stint at nearby Stanford.

``A lot of energy, up-tempo, guys were flying around, moving,'' quarterback Alex Smith, an observer for now after signing a new one-year free agent contract, said of Harbaugh's debut. ``A lot of enthusiasm. A lot of emotion. You can just see it kind of just pours out of him. He loves being out here, he loves coaching, he loves the game of football.''

A new era began Friday for a franchise that is counting on Harbaugh - a 15-year NFL quarterback himself - to change the culture and turn San Francisco back into a winner. And fast. The Niners are paying him $5 million a year to make that happen, and Harbaugh faces the daunting task of not only meeting many of his players for the first time but also preparing them in a matter of weeks for their preseason opener Aug. 12 at New Orleans.

Rookie Chase Beeler, an undrafted center out of Stanford, might be the player with the most knowledge on the new coach.

``Frankly, it feels just like we're back at Stanford,'' Beeler said. ``First day of meetings, first day on the field, the mannerisms are the same, a lot of the sayings are the same, some similar items up in the locker room and facility. It really does go back to his playing days, which weren't that long ago.''

The 49ers have their share of holes to fill before the first exhibition game after losing a handful of familiar faces in recent days: center Eric Heitmann, kicker Joe Nedney, cornerback Nate Clements and backup quarterback David Carr all were released. Linebacker Takeo Spikes and offensive lineman David Baas have departed, too.

``It's good to be back,'' Harbaugh said. ``I like being in the chaos of this.''

Running back Frank Gore was a no-show for the first workout as expected, apparently fulfilling his plan to hold out for a new contract. The two-time Pro Bowl selection, in the final year of his current deal, is healthy again after going down with a season-ending fractured hip in a Monday night game at Arizona last Nov. 29. Gore, who avoided surgery, ran for 853 yards and three touchdowns in his sixth NFL season and caught 46 passes for 452 yards and two TDs. Gore's 24 100-yard rushing games are the most in 49ers franchise history.

Two other key offensive contributors are on the sidelines for now: Smith and wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Smith is unable to practice until Aug. 4 under the new labor deal, while Crabtree is on the physically unable to perform list nursing a left foot injury. He was in a walking boot on the practice field, and Harbaugh declined to speculate when Crabtree might return or elaborate on details of the injury.

``It's frustrating because they are some key components,'' tight end Vernon Davis said.

Getting the roster sorted out soon will be paramount. San Francisco has failed to post a winning record or make the playoffs since 2002.

``I'm not getting any younger,'' four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis said. ``It's about now and tomorrow. Not about trying to develop and become.''

Harbaugh understands the urgency. He welcomes fans with a video clip on the team Web site, with the words ``Game On'' in the background.

``It's exciting to get going and just feed off his energy. He has a lot of energy,'' wide receiver Josh Morgan said.

Cornerback Shawntae Spencer is busy cramming to pick up the nuances of San Francisco's defensive playbook, happy not to be pulling the pads on just yet. He knows there will be high expectations for a team that planned to be a contender a year ago.

The 49ers went unbeaten last preseason and had hopes of winning the NFC West, but instead began 0-5 and finished a disappointing 6-10. They endured their worst start since losing seven straight to begin a 2-14 season in 1979, in the late Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh's first year.

Now, even more change under Harbaugh, who was lured away from the Orange Bowl-winning Stanford program to replace the fired Mike Singletary in a high-profile recruiting process by team president Jed York and new general manager Trent Baalke.

``It's English and Spanish. Everything is different as far as the terminology, so we have to completely put aside everything we had for the last six years here,'' Spencer said. ``It's like learning a new language. First you have to learn the terminology.''


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Best Ebook Reader? [Hive Five Call For Contenders]

Best Ebook Reader? We've already run down the best ebook stores and services that provide ebooks, but now we want to know: which device do you read those ebooks on, or which do you think offers the best mix of features?

Whether you prefer an ereader that's not tied down to one specific service, or you enjoy the unity of an ereader and a matching ebook store, we're curious which device you think is the best, or will take with you on your next vacation. Leave your vote in the comments.

Hive Five nominations take place in the comments, where you post your favorite tool for the job. We get hundreds of comments, so to make your nomination clear, please include it at the top of your comment like so: VOTE: BEST EBOOK READER. Please don't include your vote in a reply to another commenter. Instead, make your vote and reply separate comments. If you don't follow this format, we may not count your vote. To prevent tampering with the results, votes from first-time commenters may not be counted. After you've made your nomination, let us know what makes it stand out from the competition.

About the Hive Five: The Hive Five feature series asks readers to answer the most frequently asked question we get: "Which tool is the best?" Once a week we'll put out a call for contenders looking for the best solution to a certain problem, then YOU tell us your favorite tools to get the job done. Every weekend, we'll report back with the top five recommendations and give you a chance to vote on which is best. For an example, check out last week's five best streaming music services. Photo by Masaru Kamikura.

You can reach Alan Henry, the author of this post, at, or better yet, follow him on Twitter.


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Friday, July 29, 2011

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McNabb heading to Vikings, Holmes stays home (AP)

Donovan McNabb's time in Washington is over after only a year.

The Minnesota Vikings acquired the veteran quarterback from the Redskins on Wednesday night in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick.

The deal gives the Vikings a six-time Pro Bowler who will play until first-round draft choice Christian Ponder is ready to take over. The deal also includes a conditional sixth-round pick in 2013.

Ponder tweeted that he welcomes McNabb to the team and looks forward to learning from him. But he also says he still plans on fighting for the starting job in Week 1.

McNabb will have to restructure the five-year, $78 million deal he signed with the Redskins because the Vikings don't have enough room to fit him in their salary cap.

McNabb's departure closes the book on coach Mike Shanahan's first major Redskins gaffe. He gave up second- and fourth-round draft picks for McNabb last year but ended up benching him for the final three games of a 6-10 season.

"He was going to come in and really help us win more games, but it didn't work out," said linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. "Relationships broke down, and now he's not here, but you can't really focus on that. You've got to continue to move forward."

Two days after the lockout ended, NFL teams are making deals at a frantic pace, with some big names changing addresses, and others staying put.

Not going anywhere is New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who signed a one-year extension Wednesday that keeps him with the team through 2012.

"As we said after the season, we strongly believe in Tom," co-owner and team president John Mara said of the coach who led the Giants to the 2007 NFL championship. "We believe in the job he has done, and we believe in his ability to lead our team in the future. Everybody was on the same page in arriving at the extension."

Also remaining in the New York area will be Santonio Holmes, who will continue to be a big benefit to Jets QB Mark Sanchez.

The Jets made the 2009 Super Bowl MVP their top priority among their five key players who are not under contract, and will keep him for the next five years.

Holmes has had some off-field issues, which led to the Steelers trading him to New York. He performed very well for the Jets on the field, with 52 catches for 746 yards and six touchdowns after missing the first four games while suspended.

Free agents aren't allowed to sign contracts until Friday.

In other moves Wednesday:

_Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is leaving Seattle for Tennessee. He spent the past 10 seasons with the Seahawks, leading them to the 2005 NFC title. The Titans drafted quarterback Jake Locker eighth overall in April, but needed a veteran presence after Kerry Collins retired; they plan to trade or release Vince Young.

Given the lack of offseason opportunities for Locker to get up to speed, Hasselbeck figures to be the starter in Nashville.

_DeAngelo Williams, the Panthers' career rushing leader, agreed to remain in Carolina. Williams' 2010 season was cut short by a right foot injury. He rushed for 361 yards and one touchdown. He had his best pro season in 2008, rushing for a team-record 1,515 yards, 18 touchdowns and a 5.5-yard average.

In perhaps the wildest day of transactions in franchise history, linebackers James Anderson and Thomas Davis agreed to five-year contracts. Also agreeing to terms were seven free agents, including kicker Olindo Mare, defensive tackle Ron Edwards, tight end Ben Hartsock, fullback Rick Brockel, defensive backs Cletis Gordan, Devon Hall and Kevin Payne.

Bringing in Mare will end the career of the only original Panther, John Kasay.

_Placekicker Adam Vinatieri agreed to a three-year contract with Indianapolis. The 38-year-old Vinatieri is one of seven players in league history to score 500 or more points for two teams (Patriots, Colts). He is headed into his 15th NFL season.

Safety Melvin Bullitt also agreed to remain with the Colts. He was a backup to the oft-injured Bob Sanders since joining the Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2007, but is expected to become a full-time starter this season after Sanders' release earlier this year.

_Cleveland will release quarterback Jake Delhomme on Thursday. He was 2-2 as a starter in 2010, but Colt McCoy has that job this year. Delhomme was scheduled to make $5.4 million in base salary.

_Cincinnati reached an agreement with Bruce Gradkowski, who knows the team's new offensive system and will help develop rookie Andy Dalton. The 28-year-old quarterback was in Tampa from 2008-09 with Jay Gruden, the Bengals' new offensive coordinator.

Incumbent Carson Palmer has told the team he would retire rather than play another season in Cincinnati, which has two winning records in the past 20 years.

_Minnesota and kicker Ryan Longwell agreed to terms on a four-year deal. The 36-year-old Longwell went 17 for 18 on field goals and 30 for 31 on extra points last season.

_Guard Robert Gallery agreed to a three-year contract with Seattle, where he rejoins Tom Cable, his former coach with the Raiders and now a Seahawks assistant.

Gallery was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2004 draft by the Raiders, but struggled when the Raiders tried him at tackle. He was moved to left guard before the 2007 season ? coinciding with Cable's arrival in Oakland ? and flourished.

But he's played just 18 games the past two seasons because of injuries.

_Safety Eric Weddle agreed on a five-year, $40 million deal with San Diego with $19 million guaranteed. He is due $14 million this year, including a $13 million signing bonus.

"It's exciting to think of Eric as being a Charger for his entire career," coach Norv Turner said.

_Receiver Brandon Stokley, 35, agreed to a one-year contract with Washington, which also traded with Denver for wideout Jabar Gaffney and agreed to terms with receiver Donte' Stallworth.

_Atlanta agreed on a five-year deal with outside linebacker Stephen Nicholas.

_The Texans agreed to terms with backup quarterback Matt Leinart.

"I am excited to be a Texan," Leinart wrote on Twitter. "Ultimately, I had to do what was best for me at this point. People can question the decision, but it was the right one for me."

_Lance Moore, a favorite target of Drew Brees, agreed to terms on a five-year contract with New Orleans. Last season, Moore played in all 16 regular season games and had 66 receptions for 763 yards and eight touchdowns.

_The Jaguars hooked up with linebacker Paul Posluszny for a six-year contract worth $45 million, including $15 million guaranteed.

"Jacksonville was very aggressive from the start," Posluszny told The Associated Press. "They showed a lot of interest. They have a lot of confidence in me, and I don't want to let them down."

_Defensive tackle Barry Cofield agreed to a six-year, $36 million deal with the Redskins, $12.5 million guaranteed. Cofield essentially replaces Albert Haynesworth, whom the Redskins are expected to cut or trade.

_San Francisco reached agreement on a five-year contract with defensive lineman Ray McDonald.


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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Israeli orchestra plays Wagner in Germany (AP)

BERLIN ? An Israeli orchestra on Tuesday broke a taboo as it played the music of Adolf Hitler's favorite composer, Richard Wagner, in Germany.

Some 700 spectators in Wagner's hometown of Bayreuth loudly applauded the Israel Chamber Orchestra as its 34 musicians concluded their concert with the Siegfried Idyll, becoming the first Israeli ensemble to perform a Wagner piece in Germany.

Since its founding in 1948, Israel has observed an informal ban on Wagner's music because of its use in Nazi propaganda before and during World War II.

The Wagner family also had close connections to the German fascists and their ideology, and performances of the 19th-century composer are kept off Israeli stages and airwaves out of respect to the country's 220,000 Holocaust survivors.

Some 6 million Jews were systematically murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators in Europe during the war.

"Some of us were crying, it was a very historical moment," the orchestra's Chief Executive Eran Hershkovitz said. "60 years ago they killed us Jews here, 60 years ago this was a brown city and now you have our flag in the streets," he told The Associated Press over the phone from Bayreuth.

The orchestra, led by Roberto Paternostro, started the concert with Israel's national anthem, "Hatikva," and played works by composers banned by the Third Reich, including Gustav Mahler and Felix Mendelssohn, Hershkovitz said.

"It was like a mission to be here: Playing Jewish music by Jewish musicians from the Jewish state," he added, saying the performance in Germany amounted to a "victory concert."

The musicians, many of whom are children of Holocaust survivors, had only started rehearsing the roughly 15-minute Wagner piece upon their arrival in Bayreuth on Sunday due to sensitivities in Israel. "We didn't want to harm any of the survivors," Hershkovitz said.

The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, however, sharply criticized the concert as a "particularly hurtful betrayal."

"The Israel Chamber Orchestra has shown itself to be tone deaf to the anguish of victims who lived through the instrumentalization of Wagner's music in the service of spreading hate," the group's deputy head Elan Steinberg said Tuesday.

Hershkovitz rejected the allegation, saying the performance demonstrates to the world the Nazis failed in their attempt to exterminate the Jews and their culture.

"Every one of us has some relatives who were killed in the Holocaust. But to be here in Bayreuth is a victory for us. To play here the music of Mendelssohn, the Jewish composer, it's a victory," he said.

Moreover, the concert wasn't the first Wagner performance by an Israeli orchestra. In 2001, world-renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim angered many Israelis when he played some of Wagner's music in Israel.

The concert took place alongside the annual Bayreuth festival, Germany's most important festival for classical music. That event was founded by Wagner himself in 1876.

Israel and West Germany established diplomatic ties in 1965, two decades after the end of World War II. Since then, Germany has become Israel's second-largest trading partner and has paid some $40 billion in reparations to Holocaust survivors in Israel.


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