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Amtrak ridership hits record levels

Amtrak is having a good year so far.

March set a record as the single best month ever in Amtrak’s  history. October, December and January set individual monthly records, the railroad said Tuesday.

Overall ridership grew about 1 percent in the first half of 2013, despite Superstorm Sandy and other severe weather events.

Rebounding strongly from such service disruptions, Amtrak ridership grew nearly 1 percent in the first six months of 2013-2014, compared to the same period the prior year. In all, 26 of its 45 routes posted ridership increases. Amtrak expects to end the fiscal year at or above last year’s record of 31.2 million passengers.

“The continued ridership growth on routes across the country reinforces the need for dedicated, multi-year federal operating and capital funding to support existing intercity passenger rail services and the development of new ones,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman.

Routes with ridership growth in the October-to-March period …

Were you in foreclosure in 2009 or 2010? A settlement check could be in the mail

Were you in foreclosure in 2009 or 2010?

If so, a check could be in the mail for you, under a settlement reached between top banks and U.S. regulators earlier this year.

The $3.6 billion cash settlement is to compensate 4.2 million borrowers who were wrongfully foreclosed on. The payments will be split among borrowers who were in foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 and had home loans serviced by one of 13 banks, including Bank of America, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo.

Cash payouts will range from between $300 and $125,000, according to regulators. Payments will begin going out on Friday, the Federal Reserve announced on Tuesday.

The cash payments are supposed to go to borrowers who were at any stage of the foreclosure process during the height of the housing crisis.

The largest numbers of borrowers will receive between $300 and $600. Borrowers who were foreclosed on while they were on active duty in the military would receive the top amount –  $125,000 each. About 50 borrowers who were …

April 9, 2013 Edition 15

How Old Are You? By Zig Ziglar You probably know some people in their forties who are “old,” and others who are in their seventies and yet are “young.”  I say that because I believe most of the readers of this column have confidence in Webster’s Dictionary.  Not once does Webster refer to the calendar [...]

Many have given up looking for work

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Many more people stopped looking for work last month than in February, a revelation that cast a pall over a recent string of month-to-month employment gains nationally and locally.

The question on the minds of many is whether this is just a blip or sign of something more disturbing for the months ahead.

People who are out of work are no longer counted as unemployed once they stop looking for a job, a major reason why the national unemployment rate dropped to 7.6 percent in March, the lowest in four years, from 7.7 percent a month earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The unemployment rate for metro Atlanta is 8.3 percent.

Only 63 percent of Americans were working or looking for work last month, the lowest participation level in nearly 34 years. Economists say many of those who had been job hunting became so discouraged that they gave up the search. Others may have stopped looking because unemployment benefits had run out. The …

The cell phone turns 40

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(Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

(Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Remember your first cellular phone? Was it the size of a lunchbox?

For those of you into milestones, today is the 40th anniversary of the ubiquitous mobile phone. The Motorola DynaTAC made its debut April 3, 1973, a creation of engineer Martin Cooper.

The first device weighed a little over 2 pounds, was 9 inches tall, relied on 30 circuit boards and took 10 hours to recharge. Cooper told UK’s  The Telegraph that “you could only talk for 20 minutes before the battery ran out…which is just as well because you would not be able to hold it up for much longer.”

Cooper’s first call was to Bell Labs rival Joel Engel: “Joel, this is Marty. I’m calling you from a cell phone, a real handheld portable cell phone.” The phone was priced at $4,000 when it went on sale in 1983.

Today the mobile phone is a mini computer. It is a fraction of its original size and weight, provides all manner of news and …

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