Joseph Keller doesn’t expect he’ll live to see the end of 2013. He blames the house at 190 Avondale Avenue.
Five years ago, Keller, 10 months behind on his mortgage payments, received notice of a foreclosure judgment from JP Morgan Chase. In a few weeks, the bank said, his three-story house with gray vinyl siding in Columbus, Ohio, would be put up for auction at a sheriff’s sale.
The 58-year-old former social worker and his wife, Jennifer, packed up their home of 13 years and moved in with their daughter. Joseph thought he would never have anything to do with the house again. And for about a year, he didn’t.
Then it started to stalk him.
First, in 2010, the county sued Keller because the house, already picked clean by scavengers, was in a shambles, its hanging gutters and collapsed garage in violation of local housing code. Then the tax collector started sending Keller notices about mounting back taxes, sewer fees and bills for weed and waste removal. And last year, Chase’s debt collector began pressing Keller to pay his mortgage, which had swollen, with penalties and fees, from $62,100.27 to $84,194.69.
The worst news came last January, when the Social Security Administration rejected Keller’s application for disability benefits; the “asset” on Avondale Avenue rendered him ineligible. Keller’s medical problems include advanced liver disease, hepatitis C and inactive tuberculosis. Without disability coverage, he can’t get the liver transplant he needs to stay alive.
“I can’t make it end,” says Keller. “This house, I can’t get out.”
SPECIAL REPORT: The latest foreclosure horror: the zombie title
Walt Disney Co, which reported record earnings in November, started an internal cost cutting review several weeks ago that may include layoffs at its studio and other units, three people with knowledge of the effort told Reuters.
Disney, whose empire spans TV, film, merchandise and theme parks, is exploring cutbacks in jobs no longer needed because of improvements in technology, one of the people said.
It is also looking at redundant operations that could be eliminated after a string of major acquisitions over the past few years, said the person, who did not want to be identified because Disney has not disclosed the internal review.
Executives warned in November that the rising cost of sports rights and moribund home video sales will dampen growth.
“We are constantly looking at eliminating redundancies and creating greater efficiencies, especially with the rapid rise in new technology,” said Disney spokeswoman Zenia Mucha.
HSBC takes its name from its roots as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, but there has long been a joke inside and outside the firm that the name stands for “How Simple Became Complicated”.
That complexity in part explains how the London-based bank ended up with the biggest fine ever imposed on a financial firm by U.S. regulators on Tuesday - an eye-watering $1.9 billion - after a lengthy U.S. probe showed sweeping problems at the bank. Lax controls had left HSBC as the “preferred financial institution” for drug traffickers and money launderers, U.S. prosecutors said this week.
The concern is that HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, with more than 60 million customers across 84 countries, is unable to adequately monitor all its operations, a task made harder by its history of patchwork acquisitions.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell for a fourth straight week last week, pointing to steady healing in the labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 29,000 to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week’s figure was revised to show 2,000 more applications than previously reported.
Last week’s drop left new claims at their lowest since the week of October 6, and well below the levels just before superstorm Sandy, which slammed into the East Coast in late October and triggered several weeks of volatile claims numbers.
Guatemala will deport to the United States software pioneer John McAfee, who is wanted for questioning in Belize over the murder of a neighbor, a Guatemalan immigration official said on Wednesday.
McAfee has been held for a week by immigration officials in Guatemala, where he surfaced after evading Belizean officials for nearly a month.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras visited Bavaria on Sunday, charming former critics of Greece in the southern German state who once wished to eject his country from the euro zone, and departing with pledges of solidarity and support.
Samaras’ visit to Munich and dinner with Bavaria’s State Premier Horst Seehofer on Sunday night was another sign of the new thaw in Greek-German relations that started when Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Athens in October and was convinced of Athens’ commitment to painful reforms.
“We want to support the Greek government and the Greek people, and help them gain economic growth and competitiveness,” Seehofer said at a press conference with Samaras.
Seehofer added the Greeks deserved deep respect for their achievements. “They are on a good way to overcoming the causes of the crisis.”
Danish toy maker Lego will move deeper into the digital world, with more computer games and tie-ups with popular movie franchises, as it battles to grow in a shrinking toy market, its chief executive told Reuters.
Jorgen Vig Knudstorp said on Friday growth in sales of the group’s trademark colorful plastic building bricks was likely to slow in the coming years as sluggish economies in its main European market take their toll.
But he was optimistic the world’s third-largest manufacturer of play materials would outperform the broader toy market, helped by growing demand in Asia, as well as its drive to combine the worlds of physical and virtual play.
“My aim is to continue to reinvent Lego,” Knudstorp said in an interview in his bright corner office, surrounded by Lego boxes, bricks and toys.
“To seize the digital revolution and make it our advantage is vital,” he said, adding he personally spends on average two hours a week playing with Lego.
READ ON: Lego goes digital to keep building
Netflix Inc signed a multi-year agreement with Walt Disney Co, gaining exclusive U.S. pay television rights to Disney movie releases from 2016.
Netflix shares were up 8 percent at $82.21 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.
Netflix subscribers will be able to watch new Disney movies on TV, tablets, computers and mobile phones, the companies said in a statement.
Disney’s direct-to-video new releases will also be made available on Netflix starting 2013.