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Wonga to cut third of staff following new clampdown on payday …

Wonga is slashing about a third of its workforce to cut costs as it responds to a wider clampdown on unfair practices in the payday lending market.

The controversial lender said 325 jobs would go, mainly in the UK and Ireland. Wonga’s Dublin office will close as part of the plans, as will its office in Tel Aviv.

Related: Payday lending will shrink but only a complete ban will do

Andy Haste, the lender’s chairman, said: “Wonga can no longer sustain its high cost base, which must be significantly reduced to reflect our evolving business and market.

“Regrettably, this means we’ve had to take tough but necessary decisions about the size of our workforce. We appreciate how difficult this period will be for all of our colleagues and we’ll support them throughout the consultation process.”

Wonga’s decision to cut jobs came on the same day that the Competition and Markets Authority announced new rules to force payday lenders into being more transparent about their charges. The CMA is hoping that it will create more competition in the market, lowering costs for millions of consumers who rely on the loans.

Wonga employs a total of 950 people worldwide, but all the job losses relate to its UK payday loans business, which employs 650 people – about 280 in the UK, 175 in Ireland, 185 in South Africa and 10 in Israel.

It is understood about 100 jobs will go in the UK alone. All jobs will go in Ireland and Israel.

The group is aiming to achieve overall cost savings of at least £25m over the next two years, following a period of rapid expansion that saw costs treble between 2012 and 2014.

When Haste was appointed chairman last July, he said Wonga would become smaller and less profitable as it scaled back the number of customers it extended loans to, imposing stricter lending criteria.

In October the company was forced by the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, to write off £220m of loans to 375,000 borrowers, who it admitted should never have been given loans.

Wonga also announced on Tuesday that its former chairman Robin Klein was stepping down from the board after eight years.

The payday loans industry is undergoing a major shakeup as regulators seek to make the market fairer for cash-strapped consumers.

Under the new rules announced on Tuesday, lenders will have to list their deals on price-comparison websites and make it easier for customers to compare the total cost of different loans offered by various lenders.

Payday lenders will also have to provide customers with a summary of the total cost of their loans, as well as how additional fees such as late repayment affect the cost.

The recommendations were made after a 20-month inquiry into the payday loans industry by the CMA.

The watchdog concluded that a lack of price competition between lenders had driven costs higher for borrowers, with most people failing to shop around partly owing to a lack of clear information on charges.

Simon Polito, who ran the inquiry, said: “We expect that millions of customers will continue to rely on payday loans. Most customers take out several loans a year and the total cost of paying too much for payday loans can build up over time.”

The CMA’s decision follows an earlier clampdown by the UK financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The authority introduced a price cap on 2 January to ensure that borrowers are never forced to repay more than double the amount of their original loan.

Interest and fees were capped at 0.8% a day, lowering the cost for most borrowers, while the total cost of a loan was limited to 100% of the original sum. Default fees were to be capped at £15 to protect people struggling to repay their debts.

Polito said: “The FCA’s price cap will reduce the overall level of prices and the scale of the price differentials but we want to ensure more competition so that the cap does not simply become the benchmark price set by lenders for payday loans.

“We think costs can be driven lower and want to ensure that customers are able to take advantage of price competition to further reduce the cost of their loans. Only price competition will incentivise lenders to reduce the cost borrowers pay for their loans.”

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust charity, welcomed the action from the CMA and FCA but added a note of caution: “This is good news for the consumer. More competition and transparency in the payday loan market will ensure that the FCA’s cap on the cost of credit remains precisely that– a cap, not the norm.

“This is a good example of regulators working together to bring about meaningful change in this sector. However, these improvements in the way that payday loans are regulated must not dilute the core message that payday lending remains an extremely expensive way to borrow,” she said.

Payday lenders will be forced to publish the details of their products on at least one price comparison website, authorised by the FCA. The CMA said on Tuesday it would work closely with the FCA to implement the new recommendations.


Home Credit and Finance Bank Selects Earnix Banking Solution to Enhance Analytics Capabilities



The use of our product enables our customers to stay ahead of their competition. We are looking forward to a long-term relationship with the bank’s analytical teams and managers

Tel Aviv, Israel (PRWEB) November 21, 2014

Earnix, a leading provider of integrated pricing and customer analytics solutions for banking and insurance, announced today that Moscow-based Home Credit and Finance Bank, has selected the Earnix Banking solution to enhance the bank’s analytics capabilities and optimize its strategies for its cash loan portfolio.

The Earnix platform helps banks eliminate the “guesswork” when it comes to decision making. Earnix Banking predicts, simulates and optimizes customer interactions to efficiently achieve business goals such as profitability, market growth or long-term customer retention. Home Credit will be implementing the Earnix Banking solution as part of a two phase project, beginning with data analytics and modeling, followed by optimization of its cash loan portfolio and field testing.

“We are extremely proud that Home Credit & Finance Bank, the leading player in POS finance in Russia, selected the Earnix software”, said Amitai Ratzon, VP of Sales at Earnix. “The use of our product enables our customers to stay ahead of their competition. We are looking forward to a long-term relationship with the bank’s analytical teams and managers”.

About Home Credit & Finance Bank, LLC
Home Credit & Finance Bank specializes in retail finance in Russia and Kazakhstan. HCFB offers its clients a wide range of credit products and banking services. The Bank’s database comprises over 30.2 million contacts. HCFB’s products are distributed through over 93,000 points of sale in Russia and Kazakhstan. The Bank’s network also comprised 9,733 branches and offices and 1,293 ATMs across the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan as of 30 June 2014.

Apart from a full range of consumer lending products HCFB offers current and saving accounts and a comprehensive range of deposit products, including salary accounts. Having a vast client database, HCFB is successfully utilizing its cross-selling opportunities to further expand its coverage. HCFB utilizes direct mail, telemarketing, on-line sales and various forms of partnerships (e.g. agreements with insurance providers in Russia, third party brokers or via direct collaborations with employers).

About Earnix
Earnix Integrated Pricing and Customer Analytics software empowers financial services companies to predict customer risk and demand and their impact on business performance, enabling the alignment of product offerings with changing market dynamics. Earnix combines predictive modeling and optimization with real-time connectivity to core operational systems, bringing the power of analytic driven decisions to every customer interaction. Banks and insurers rely on Earnix solutions to improve deposit, loan, and insurance policy offerings. For more information, visit

Contact person:
Aviv Cohen, Vice President of Products & Marketing
Earnix Ltd.


Elbit Imaging admits breach of Hapoalim loan terms

Chairman Shimon Yitzhaki: We’re making every effort to meet cash flow and find an investor.

“We are not meeting the terms of our loan with Bank Hapoalim,”

Elbit Imaging Ltd.





) CFO Doron Moshe told bondholders at a meeting at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv yesterday.

Bank Hapoalim



) is demanding that the real estate company, controlled by president and CEO Mordechay Zisser, increase its collateral for a $64 million loan, because of the plunge in the share price of subsidiary

Plaza Centers NV





). Elbit Imaging is struggling to comply, and is in talks with the bank. A debt settlement seems almost a certainty.

Elbit Imaging chairman Shimon Yitzhaki tried to calm the bondholders at the start of the meeting, saying, “We’re making every effort to meet cash flow and find an investor. We have skill and experience in making bid deals, and we’ll meet our debt payments by bringing in a new investor.”

Yitzhaki and Elbit Imaging VP and general counsel Zvi Maayan then took questions from the audience. Zisser, who was due to attend upon arrival from overseas, cancelled his participation, citing illness. He is scheduled to undergo catheterization, and his aides said that he would return to work in a few days.

100 people attended the meeting, including representatives of investment institutions, lawyers, and many private investors, who did not hesitate to express their frustration about Elbit Imaging’s shape. The company’s resources and uses report states that it is due to make NIS 732 million in payments this year, but has just NIS 116 million in cash. It expects NIS 1 billion revenue this year, and is due to make an NIS 80 million payment on its two short-term bonds in February.

After the meeting of bondholders of all eight of the company’s bonds, the bondholders of the two short-term bonds held a separate meeting. The issue on the agenda was whether to consolidate the bonds and set up a joint representative body, or to have two separate representatives.

Elbit Imaging, which has a market cap of just $42.8 million (NIS 156 million), and its bond debt totals NIS 2.5 billion. Its bonds are traded at junk bond status with yields of hundreds of percent. Last month, Standard & Poor’s Maalot Ltd. and Midroog Ltd. slashed their ratings for the company’s bonds five grades to speculative investment grade.

Elbit Imaging’s bondholders face a second front against the bondholders of Plaza Centers, in which Elbit Imaging owns a 63% stake, and which has been asked to distribute a 30 million divided from which Elbit Imaging will benefit. Plaza Centers’ shareholders will hold a general meeting in February to approve the dividend, which the bondholders oppose. Plaza Centers’ bond debt totals NIS 1.3 billion, and the bonds are traded at yields of up to 22%. Elbit Imaging will use half of the dividend to repay Bank Hapoalim. “If we get the dividend from Plaza Centers, we will have no problem meeting the upcoming bond payment,” said Yitzhaki.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – – on January 21, 2013

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013


AP Interview: Palestinian PM warns of cash crisis

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The Palestinian self-rule government is in “extreme jeopardy” because of an unprecedented financial crisis, largely because Arab countries have failed to send hundreds of millions of dollars in promised aid, the Palestinian prime minister said Sunday.

The cash crunch has gradually worsened in recent years, and the Palestinian Authority now has reached the point of not being able to pay the salaries of about 150,000 government employees, Salam Fayyad told The Associated Press. The number of Palestinian poor is bound to quickly double to 50 percent of the population of roughly 4 million if the crisis continues, he said.

“The status quo is not sustainable,” Fayyad said in an interview at his West Bank office.

The Palestinian Authority, set up two decades ago as part of interim peace deals with Israel, is on the “verge of being completely incapacitated,” Fayyad warned. Only a year ago, he said he expected to make great strides in weaning his people off foreign aid.

The self-rule government was meant to be temporary and replaced by a state of Palestine, which was to be established through negotiations with Israel. However, those talks repeatedly broke down, and for the past four years the two sides have been unable to agree on the terms of renewing the negotiations.

In late November, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas won U.N. recognition of a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, overriding Israeli objections to the largely symbolic step. On Sunday, Abbas asked his West Bank-based government to prepare for replacing the words “Palestinian Authority” with “State of Palestine” in all public documents, including ID cards, driving licenses and passports.

Israeli officials declined comment, including on whether Israel would prevent Palestinians with new ID cards and passports from crossing borders and checkpoints.

The U.N. bid gave the Palestinians new diplomatic leverage by affirming the borders of a future state of Palestine in lands Israel captured in 1967, but changed little in the day-to-day lives of Palestinians.

In an apparent response to the U.N. move, Israel in December halted its monthly transfer of about $100 million in tax rebates it collects on behalf of the Palestinians. That sum amounts to about one-third of the monthly operating costs of the Palestinian Authority. Fayyad said he now only takes in about $50 million a month in revenues.

Israel has said it used the withheld money to settle Palestinian Authority debt to Israeli companies, and it’s not clear whether the transfers will resume. In the meantime, the 22-nation Arab League has not kept a promise to make up for the funds Israel withholds, Fayyad said.

The head of the League has written to member states, urging them to pay the $100 million, Mohammed Sobeih, a league official, said Sunday.

Fayyad pinned most of the blame for the Palestinian Authority’s financial troubles on delinquent Arab donors, saying they are “not fulfilling their pledge of support in accordance with Arab League resolutions.”

European countries kept their aid commitments, he said.

Some $200 million in U.S. aid were held up by Congress last year, a sum the Obama administration hopes to deliver to the Palestinians this year, along with an additional $250 million in aid. “We have made it clear that we think the money should go forward,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said last week.

The Palestinian Authority has relied heavily on foreign aid since the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000. It has received hundreds of millions of dollars each year since then, but has struggled to wean itself off foreign support, in part because harsh Israeli restrictions on Palestinian trade and movement have hurt economic growth.

Only a year ago, Fayyad said he hoped to increase local revenues, including through spending cuts and higher taxes for wealthier Palestinians. He even set 2013 as a target for financing the government’s day-to-day operations with local revenues. However, his tax plan was met by widespread protests and modest economic growth slowed.

Now he’s not even sure how he will cover the government payroll, his heftiest monthly budget item.

The Palestinian Authority employs some 150,000 people, including civil servants and members of the security forces. About 60,000 live in Gaza and served under Abbas before the Hamas takeover, but continue to draw salaries even though they’ve since been replaced by Hamas loyalists.

In recent months, the government has paid salaries in installments.

Fayyad said he managed to pay half the November salaries by getting another bank loan, using as collateral Arab League promises of future support. He said he can’t pay the rest of the November salaries, let alone start thinking about December wages.

The Palestinian Authority already owes local banks more than $1.3 billion and can’t get more loans. It also owes hundreds of millions of dollars to private businesses, including suppliers to hospitals, some of whom have stopped doing business with the government.

The crisis “has put us in extreme jeopardy,” Fayyad said.

The malaise has sparked growing protests. Civil servants have held warning strikes. On Sunday, their union called for four days of strikes over the next two weeks.

Walid Abu Muhsin, a government employee who makes 4,000 shekels ($1,000) a month, said he received only $500 in November, and his bank deducted 50 percent of that for car and home loans, leaving the father of three with $250 to live on.

“I am spending from the few savings I have,” he said.

Fayyad said he’s thought about quitting, but won’t leave during a crisis. He was appointed by Abbas in 2007, after the Islamic militant Hamas seized Gaza by force. Hamas has received money from Iran, while Qatar last year pledged some $400 million for housing projects in Gaza.

Repeated attempts to heal the Palestinian rift have failed. Meanwhile, recent surveys suggest support for Hamas is on the rise, in part because it extracted what were perceived as Israeli concessions after a round of heavy cross-border fighting late last year.

The failure of the Palestinian Authority to deliver on many of its promises, Fayyad said, “has produced a reality of a doctrinal win” for Hamas.

He said the international community must decide whether it wants the Palestinian Authority, once seen as key to any Mideast peace deal, to survive.

“A weak Palestinian Authority cannot be an effective player if you are all the time preoccupied with making ends meet,” he said.


Associated Press writers Aya Batrawy in Cairo and Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City, Gaza, contributed to this report.


Biltmore Loan and Jewelry a Great Source for Extra Cash as Classic Car Owners Prepare for January Car Auctions

Many collectors are preparing to show their classic cars at one of the seven area auctions this year, but their prize car might needs some repairs. If a collector needs some extra cash fast to fix up their classic car, there is an answer….Biltmore Loan, Scottsdale’s upscale collateral lending business, which can provide a collateral loan on an auto title.

Scottsdale, AZ (PRWEB) January 03, 2013


classic car auctions

in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area are coming up this month. Many collectors are preparing to show their classic cars at one of the seven area auctions this year, but their prize car might have a few scratches, the paint could be faded, or the leather interior might be ripped. If a collector needs some extra cash fast to fix up their classic car, there is an answer….

Biltmore Loan

, Scottsdale’s upscale collateral lending business, which can provide a collateral loan on an auto title.

Justin Hagerty restores classic cars and is a regular customer of Biltmore Loan using auto titles as collateral to get loans to fix up his car. Prior to working with Biltmore Loan he had gotten loans through credit unions and his cash flow was limited to be able to show only one car at auction. “Because of Biltmore Loan’s flexible terms and good rates, I have been able to grow my volume,” says Hagerty.

Hagerty is participating this year in the Scottsdale International Classic Car Auction and will be showing three cars: a 1967 Cougar, a 1965 Mustang and a 1965 Chevy Impala. He fixes up his classic cars with loaned money from the auto title loans and then pays the loan off when he sells that car. Hagerty has been very pleased working with Biltmore Loan and says “They are amazing to work with and they always make time for you. Prior to working with Biltmore Loan I had never used an auto title loan to get cash. I would highly recommend classic car owners to consider Biltmore Loan for extra cash flow.”

The seven area car auctions include: Scottsdale International Classic Car Auction, January 14, 2013, Russo and Steele, January 16-20, 2013, Barrett-Jackson, January 13-20, 2013, Bonhams’ Scottsdale Auction, January 16-17, 2013, Gooding & Company, January 18-19, 2013, RM Auctions, January 18, 2013 and Silver Auctions, January 18-19, 2013.

“Your special classic car could need just a minor touch up to ready for auction,” says Marc Israel, General Manager, Biltmore Loan & Jewelry. “However the banks are not lending.”

If collectors have that rare car in their garage and just need to make a couple of fixes so it’s ready for auction, Biltmore Loan can help with auto title loans for collectors to fix up their cars. “Now is the time to contact Biltmore Loan to get that extra cash you need. You might hold the key to the next great car,” continues Israel.

Biltmore Loan provides quick available financial products including lending at fair terms and cash buy out of classic cars.

Biltmore Loan takes their responsibility as a lender very seriously and educates its customers with tips on how to select the best auto title loan. As pointed out in the Huffington Post, Consumer expenditures account for over 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, so having fair, affordable financial products is critical for the entire economy.

“We pride ourselves in providing the most affordable financial solution for our customers including fair-termed title loans on classic cars,” adds David Goldstein, President, Biltmore Loan & Jewelry. “Also we are a good fit if you have a car and want a new or different one.”

Biltmore Loan & Jewelry is Now Considered a “Modern-Day Bank.”

With over 30 years of experience in the diamond and jewelry trade, the founders of the company have built successful businesses through a reputation based on honesty, integrity and trust.

Biltmore’s goal is to provide the ultimate upscale collateral lending experience, based on the highest level of customer service for clients and by paying the most for their valuables. Staff includes GIA certified experts and experienced appraisers who have the expertise to value potential purchases and provide appraisals of all types of high end valuables. Considered simply the best source for people who want to sell jewelry, diamonds, antiques, art, or obtain loans on these and all other valuables.

Biltmore Loan has flexibility, expertise and privacy. The highest level of security is adhered to, as all valuables held are insured by Lloyd’s of London. All transactions are executed in a private, upscale Scottsdale office located in a traditional office building which also houses CPA firms, financial advisors and title companies. “If you own it, we loan on it. Safe. Fair. Confidential,” Biltmore Loan & Jewelry is located just north of Indian Bend and Scottsdale Road. For more about see or call Marc or Erin at: T | 480-991-LOAN (5626).

Susan Assadi
Gitenstein & Assadi PR
480 860 8792
Email Information


Online Payday Loans – Emergency Cash Loans

The Text Says:

Today’s text from I Kings is a story of the young King Solomon’s wisdom in determining which of two mothers was telling the truth and who’s not. The result was the public’s regard for their new king that went much deeper than his astuteness, “They stood in awe because they perceived the wisdom of God was in him to render justice” (Vs. 28). Such is always the case when we seek truth through the test of love. That is to say love is not always blind. It can also quicken our insight is ways to discover the truth, as the real mother’s love was rewarded. Likewise love always wins the verdict before the divine Judge.

Hear the sermon.

The Preacher Says:

It’s hard to believe somebody’s telling the truth if you’d lie were you in their place. That’s just one reason why it’s so hard to tell the truth, especially when there’s something in it for me not to. Sometimes we lie because we’re afraid. When I was a kid me and Bernard Bull were offered to have our way paid to R. A. Camp by our church. (Royal Ambassadors! It sounds sooo ‘50?s) But we didn’t know any better and took ‘em up on it. What we didn’t know was they expected us to give a report during Sunday night service! In front of all those people? Fear stuck and I had to think quick on my feet. So I came down with an instant sore throat. Anyhow, as we stood there looking at the audience looking at us, Bro. Bull allowed as how, “Now Danny here’s got a sore throat; so I’m gonna talk for me and him both,” as I’m noddin’ and rubbin’ my throat, for affect. Lordy! The big people knew my throat wasn’t sore, but they understood why I said it. My lie got me off the hook.

Bernard turned out to get his PHD and spent his career as an English teacher where I attended college. And after I got over my “sore throat,” I’ve spent the last 50 years preaching biblical truth in public worship that I believed was true for all and good for all. Because the truth is so rare it’s delightful to tell. But I have to confess that my initial experience of speaking in church was based on a fib! That’s why I like the ending of Mark’s Gospel with the women: “Don’t tell anyone anything!”

The Bible says a lot about telling the truth. And the consequences of not telling it. Father Abraham threw Sarah under the bus, to protect himself, claiming she was his “sister,” not his wife. That made her fair game for the guys on camels. I reckon the “war on women” is nothing new. So the story of the Old Testament is a rambling account about Israel breaking their Covenant with God. Thus, one of the big Ten became “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” And because it’s largely ignored, we’re in the fix we’re in today.

Good people can tell tall tales. Perhaps the most famous was the mess David the King made by changing the 6th commandment to say: “Thou shalt not ADMIT adultery.” No, David, it’s “commit.” But after stealing another man’s wife he lied to cover it up, which is always worse than the original deed. A whole web of relational tragedy resulted; even taking out a contract on his most loyal warrior, Uriah. This is the courageous giant killer? The “one after God’s own heart?” He thought his popularity would let him get away with it. Only after being exposed by the prophet Nathan, did he repent. But the damage was done. But he lied in public, and confessed in private. Because getting caught lying is so embarrassing, people will say anything to avoid getting outed.

King Solomon got his reputation for wisdom, because two gals wanted the same kid, and one of them was telling a whopper! But the king had a creative method up his sleeve to determine the real mother: “Fetch me a sword, and whack the child in two. Give half to one and half to the other.” But the woman who forfeited her chance to be a mother sacrificed herself to save her kid’s life. “She’s remorseful: “Oh, my Lord, give the child to her; just don’t kill it.” But the other woman’s nose started growing like Pinnochio, as her callousness betrayed her ugly desire to win at all costs: if I can’t have it then neither will she! People lie when they don’t wanta lose. Whatever it takes to win, like the recent NFL scandal of intentional hurting. A wise King faces a malevolent liar who was intentionally lethal. Somebody could die because of her lie. Deadly stuff. I wonder if Solomon would’ve really done it. But all we know is his trick uncovered the phony. Said he, “Give the child to the first woman. She’s the true mother.” A masterful way to render justice because it relied on love.

Sadly these stories are so up-to-date. Who knows what to believe anymore? Only the nomenclature has been softened. Where’s George Washington when you need him? Nobody lies today. We just parse the narrative, or push the meme mostly because that’s how we can get away with it, much of the time. Not all the time, but much of the time. Most people lie because they think they won’t get caught. Just throw anything out there and hope you don’t get “fact-checked.” But even then, whose facts? One person’s facts are another person’s lies. That’s why we admire those folks who are forthright, who come clean and tell it like it is — even when it hurts; whose statements have the ring of truth and are believable. But it’s so hard to tell the truth. So we “mis-speak ,“ or “walk-it-back,” anything but lie! Lying sounds so harsh. Well that’s because it is. People with nothing to lose have few reasons to lie. But those with a lot to lose are afraid to fail. And that’s at the root of a lot of lying. So we shade the truth for personal advantage. But there’s always been a shortage of honesty in God’s flawed children of light. We just know about it quicker in today’s instant info age.

I like ol’ Jesus who said, ‘let your yea be yea and your nay be nay.” Say what you mean and mean what you say. Some people are very skilled at clouding communication with ambivalence; to leave yourself a way out. I just shake my head: how can we hope to live together before we’re fit to live with; if we can’t believe what we’re told? On the other hand, considering human nature being what it is. The instinct of self-preservation is so strong, should we really be shocked at the dishonesty that’s commonplace? Perhaps, but you hate to see it become the norm; to live at such a low level of expectation in integrity. Ah everybody does it. Like ol’ Joe Stalin said: “It’s not about how many votes. It’s who does the counting.” Out of sight, behind the scenes, half-truths are everyday stuff.

Doesn’t that make the biggest sin of our time gullibility? It was rampant in Jesus day, which is why he talked about being “wise as serpents but harmless as doves.” He championed the combining of sharp-minds and soft-hearts. Cause there’s too much soft mindedness and hard heartedness! Now if you’re blessed to have a wife who’s hard to fool, you’re onto something! Everybody should have one o’ those. Somebody that knows you so well that living the truth calls for accountability. We’ve built a relationship of mutual trust, and it takes a long time to get it. But once you get it you better not break it! How do you restore trust once it’s broken? You can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Don’t you wish we had true checks and balances of restraint not just in our town halls but in human hearts? That’s where the fat hits the fire. A conscience that can’t be trained to look the other way?

I can’t think of any place where there is no lying. In the home, in the Bible, people lie. It’s in sports. Washington DC? Are you kidding me? In business, anywhere the bottom line is cash, they play fast and loose with the truth. Trying to get somebody to buy it. And there are always those out there who will. Like that guy on Thanksgiving, who took a bite of hot potatoes and spit a mouthful out on his plate. But he made a comeback when he said: “Some people will swallow anything!” So we have the legal profession, and drug companies, and insurance, and banks, and oil spills. Wall Street? God help us.

Church is not exempt either. There’s no place like an inner-city church to hear street-people scams. Oh you can waste a lot of time listening to their stories that all end the same: a request for cash. I’ve heard ‘em all. So I’ve reverted back to my “sore throat” days: “Sunday is the time for our members. Come back on Monday and we’ll give you something to eat.” It’s not technically the truth, but I can’t call it wrong. White lies. Preachers are fired for cooking the books; priests on trial for child molestation; coaches sent to prison. How can such a duplicitous society survive? Is the church out of its league on this one? We might have a chance to influence those who come, but it’s mostly preaching to the choir. This is not just a big problem, it’s an old one, going back to the Genesis serpent. “Yea hath God said…You shall not surely die.” The first lie but not the last.

In Jesus’ day posturing and hypocrisy were standard procedure. Zacchaeus shaved funds off the top. Temple religion was politicized and ritualized. Ostentatious folks stood on the street corners pretending to give huge offerings for show. Nothing got Jesus’ goat more than faking it. It’s the only time he came close to cussing somebody: “You “whitewashed tombstones,” “making others worse the child of hell than yourselves!” On the outside, the Puritans of Palestine appeared so antiseptic, but on the inside they’re “bleached bones.”

When people are invested in you failing, lies comein handy to make you look bad. So the threatened leaders who despised Jesus, began to slander him. They couched it in terms of “we’re right and he’s wrong.” But truth told with bad intent matches any lie you can invent. John says the Pharisees called Jesus an impostor. They even tried to skew the resurrection as fraudulent. Jesus had to go because they feared his success. So people lie because they can’t stand for somebody else to be right.

They finally got him before Pilate, who understood only power. “Are you a king?” Jesus said there’s something more important than royalty: “My kingdom is not of this world.” Huh? Well which world? The one God wants to give. Jesus kept zeroing in on the most hurtful thing we can confront: “I came to bear witness to the truth,” which oughta have some bearing on justice. But Pilate caved because the truth hurts: “What is truth?” he growls. Notice he didn’t stay around for the answer standing right before him. Because reputation trumps the truth every time.

Ol’ Bobby McGee says “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Jesus said “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” It’ll also make you mad! But Pilate had too much to lose to let Jesus loose. And “the last fraud is worse than the first!” The earliest Christians made a mockery of that cheap shot by making truth-telling integral to its way of life. The thing about truth is, it always provokes those it does not convert. One of the most dramatic stories in the Book of Acts is about an active couple who “pretended to give more to the church than they did” and they keeled over dead when the preacher exposed their dishonesty! Lying is serious stuff, because pretense prevents community.

There’s not a lot we can do about all the lying that surrounds us in our society. It’s gone ballistic. Other than be alert to it and not be swayed by it. One reason we come to church I assume is to be reminded that truth is having the same idea about something that God has. And get on the same page. To pray and be inspired by the scriptures and uplifting music and get away from the cesspool of deceit that daily confronts us. I think it would be fine also to admit that truth is not in any one of us but between all of us. Instead of like those who think they own the truth. Sometimes it’s hard to name but we know it when we see it. That’s what allows you to live like you don’t have something to hide; a life of transparency, so you won’t have to be looking back over your shoulder all the time. That way you can keep your eyes on the prize not the lies.

Because another biblical theme is this: The Lord God expects us to back up with our lives what we say with our mouths. As St. Paul said: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable——if anything is excellent or praiseworthy——think on these things” (Phil 4:8).

ProvidencePrayers: (October 21, 2012)

Ever mindful of the pitfalls of this world, O Lord, we pray not just for knowledge but for the common sense to use it rightly. We pray not just for wisdom, but also for the character to make something worthwhile out of ourselves because of it. Forgive us for thinking our abundance is a matter of our rights instead of the evidence of Thy grace.

We have much for which to be grateful: for the eagerness to serve; for our ability to remember and our capacity to hope; for curious minds to grapple with tall questions, while the rest go on playing their games; for not taking ourselves too seriously and for blessing us with a sense of humor. We thank Thee for a Book that reads us; and for a church that energizes us, where the strong bear the infirmities of the weak. Bless our congregation with honesty, so hard to come by in these days, along with an awareness to see reality, and an openness to listen, lest we succumb to the arrogance of knowing all the answers and none of the questions.

Like Jesus, may we try to be person-centered, lest stones and statistics, size and structure and impressive numbers be inflated above what really makes Thee smile. Keep raising up men and women who love this church to serve it with the best they have to give and to give of the best that they have for Thy glory. We pray for all who are joined in this experience of worship, and remember those who are willing but unable. For the sick, grant healing; for the lonely, Thy presence; for the undecided, Thy wisdom; for the bereaved, Thy support; and for all of us, the strength to “stay by the stuff” in the living of these days. Bless us with poise, persistence, and peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


EpiCept Amends Loan and Security Agreement


Regulatory News:

EpiCept Corporation (Nasdaq OMX Stockholm Exchange and OTCQX: EPCT) announced today that it has amended the Company’s Loan and Security Agreement with MidCap Financial, LLC (“MidCap” or the “Lender”) effective August 27, 2012.

Pursuant to the terms of the amendment, EpiCept has made a principal prepayment of $1.2 million, which approximates the scheduled principal payments due under the Loan and Security Agreement from September 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012. As a result of the prepayment, the current principal balance of the loan is $4.1 million. The next principal payment is due on January 15, 2013, and regularly scheduled monthly principal payments will commence February 1, 2013 until the scheduled maturity of the loan in March 2014. The Company will continue to make monthly payments of interest to the Lender as per the Loan and Security Agreement.

EpiCept also agreed, pursuant to the amendment, to maintain a cash balance of $1.1 million in a bank account that is subject to the security interest maintained by MidCap under the loan agreement. Further, the Company has committed to signing a definitive agreement, acceptable to MidCap, by October 15, 2012 with respect to a sale or partnering transaction and to consummate such a transaction as soon as is practical but in any event no later than January 15, 2013.

“This amendment is consistent with our current plans to complete a transaction and leaves us with cash availability similar to what we had prior to the amendment,” remarked Robert Cook, EpiCept interim President and CEO. “While we cannot be certain that an acceptable transaction can be completed according to this timetable or at all, we are intently focused on concluding a transaction within the deadlines set forth in the amendment.”

EpiCept engaged SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in January 2012 to assist in exploring strategic alternatives to maximize the commercial opportunity of AmiKet™ for the treatment of CIPN following taxane-based therapy. The engagement is focused on the identification and implementation of a strategy designed to optimize AmiKet™’s value for the Company’s stockholders, which includes the evaluation of potential transactions involving the sale of the Company. EpiCept is considering various transactions to obtain additional cash resources to fund operations, including the sale or licensing of assets and the sale of equity securities. Current cash is anticipated to be sufficient to run operations into the fourth quarter of 2012. If EpiCept is unable to complete a transaction or otherwise obtain funding on a timely basis, the Company may default on its loans or be declared in default under the Loan and Security Agreement, which would entitle the Lender to sell the Company’s intellectual property and other assets. See the Company’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended June 30, 2012 for a further discussion of its liquidity and cash position.

About EpiCept Corporation

EpiCept is focused on the development and commercialization of pharmaceutical products for the treatment of pain and cancer. The Company’s pain portfolio includes AmiKet™, a prescription topical analgesic cream in late-stage clinical development designed to provide effective long-term relief of pain associated with peripheral neuropathies. The Company’s product Ceplene®, when used concomitantly with low-dose interleukin-2 (IL-2) is intended as remission maintenance therapy in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) for adult patients who are in their first complete remission. The Company sold all of its rights to Ceplene® in Europe and certain Pacific Rim countries and a portion of its remaining Ceplene® inventory to Meda AB. Ceplene® is licensed to MegaPharm Ltd. to market and sell in Israel and EpiCept has retained its rights to Ceplene® in all other countries, including countries in North and South America. The Company has other oncology drug candidates in clinical development that were discovered using in-house technology and have been shown to act as vascular disruption agents in a variety of solid tumors.

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release and any oral statements made with respect to the information contained in this news release contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements include statements which express plans, anticipation, intent, contingency, goals, targets, future development and are otherwise not statements of historical fact. These statements are based on our current expectations and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or developments to be materially different from historical results or from any future results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause actual results or developments to differ materially include: the risks associated with the adequacy of our existing cash resources and our ability to continue as a going concern, the risks associated with our ability to continue to meet our obligations under our existing debt agreements, the risk that Azixa™ will not receive regulatory approval or achieve significant commercial success, the risk that we will not receive any significant payments under our agreement with Myrexis, the risk that clinical trials for AmiKet™ or crolibulinTM will not be successful, the risk that AmiKet™ or crolibulinTM will not receive regulatory approval or achieve significant commercial success, the risk that we will not be able to find a partner to help conduct the Phase III trials for AmiKet™ on attractive terms, a timely basis or at all, the risk that Ceplene® will not receive regulatory approval or marketing authorization in the United States or Canada, the risk that Ceplene® will not achieve significant commercial success, the risk that our other product candidates that appeared promising in early research and clinical trials do not demonstrate safety and/or efficacy in larger-scale or later-stage clinical trials, the risk that we will not obtain approval to market any of our product candidates, the risks associated with dependence upon key personnel, the risks associated with reliance on collaborative partners and others for further clinical trials, development, manufacturing and commercialization of our product candidates; the cost, delays and uncertainties associated with our scientific research, product development, clinical trials and regulatory approval process; our history of operating losses since our inception; the highly competitive nature of our business; risks associated with litigation; and risks associated with our ability to protect our intellectual property. These factors and other material risks are more fully discussed in our periodic reports, including our reports on Forms 8-K, 10-Q and 10-K and other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. You are urged to carefully review and consider the disclosures found in our filings which are available at or at You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements, any of which could turn out to be wrong due to inaccurate assumptions, unknown risks or uncertainties or other risk factors.

*Azixa is a registered trademark of Myrexis, Inc.


EpiCept Corporation:

Robert W. Cook, (914) 606-3500


Feinstein Kean Healthcare

Greg Kelley, (617) 577-8110



Kim Sutton Golodetz, (212) 838-3777


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