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Do US presidents carry cash?


18 October 2014 Last updated at 00:33

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President Barack Obama’s credit card was rejected in a restaurant. How often do US heads of state spend their own money, asks Jon Kelly.

It’s commonly said the Queen doesn’t carry cash. It seems her American counterpart doesn’t get his wallet out too much either. Barack Obama told an audience that his credit card was rejected in a New York restaurant last month: “It turned out, I guess, I don’t use it enough.” During his term in office, Bill Clinton once had his credit card rejected too.

In the 1995 film The American President, Michael Douglas’s commander-in-chief attempts to buy flowers but is told his cards are “in storage with the rest of your private things”. It’s a similar situation for real-life White House occupants, says presidential historian Thomas Whalen of Boston University: “Everything’s provided for them – they really don’t need money.” The Secret Service agents who are on hand at all times can provide a loan if necessary. John F Kennedy “didn’t carry any cash at all, even before he was president. His friends would have to foot the bill for the privilege of hanging out with him”, says Whalen.

Others have been less parsimonious. A wallet belonging to George Washington contained a 1776 two-thirds dollar bill and a 1779 one-dollar bill until it was stolen from a museum in 1992. Abraham Lincoln was carrying a $5 Confederate bill on the night he was assassinated. In 1984 Ronald Reagan was once photographed paying for a $2.46 Big Mac meal with a $20 note, and his successor George HW Bush once showed his American Express card (plain green, not gold) to an eight-year-old who had reacted sceptically when informed that she was talking to the president. Some 14 years later, however, his son George W Bush told a Spanish-speaking journalist that all he had in his pockets was a handkerchief. “No dinero,” Bush added. “No wallet.”

The current incumbent – who earns $400,000 (£248,000) each year and has an annual expense allowance of $50,000 – has been filmed and photographed on numerous occasions paying for food with cash. In July he paid for a $300-plus bill at a takeaway barbecue restaurant in Austin, Texas, with a JP Morgan credit card (he was allowed to jump the queue). But now it appears that in New York last month the transaction wasn’t so successful. Thankfully for the president, his wife Michelle was present on that occasion to pick up the tab.

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Kerry Katona loan advert is banned


Kerry Katona payday loan loan advert is banned by ASA

Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Wednesday, 8 May 2013 15:35 UK

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An advert for a payday loan featuring Kerry Katona has been banned.

Some people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), who said it suggested the money could help to fund a celebrity lifestyle.

Others complained it was irresponsible because it focused on her financial problems and encouraged people in similar situations to borrow cash.

The ad should not appear in its current form. We told Cash Lady to take care with the overall presentation of information of its loans

Advertising Standards Authority

The ASA said the advert promoted itself as an alternative to banks while offering an APR in excess of 2,000%.

The ad for PDB UK, trading as Cash Lady, featured Kerry Katona saying: “We’ve all had money troubles at some point, I know I have. You could see your bank and fill in loads of forms, but is there an easier way to get a loan.”

Cash Lady said Katona was chosen as its “face” because she had experienced money troubles in the past and their customers would be able to relate to her.

‘Particularly attractive’

It said its loans were limited to £300 and were therefore aimed at those experiencing relatively low-level short-term financial difficulties with a need to bridge a gap between paydays.

However, the ASA said references to Katona’s financial problems within the ad “had the potential to encourage vulnerable viewers with financial problems and/or restricted credit from seeking to resolve them through the payday loan service”.

It said some viewers with restricted credit may have found the product in the ad particularly attractive because of their identification with Katona and the references to her own past financial problems.

“The ad should not appear in its current form,” a statement said. “We told Cash Lady to take care with the overall presentation of information of its loans.”

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Fair to women and East Asians (The Funny Side)Moustaches wars not

By Nury Vittachi, IANS

Picture the scene. A banker, reluctant to give out a large cash loan to a desperate man, asks: “But do you have any valuable assets to offer as collateral?” The applicant points to his upper lip, saying: “Yes. My moustache.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” says the banker. But no. That’s not what happens. This is Planet Earth, Weirdest Place in the Galaxy. So what ACTUALLY happened was that the banker said: “That’ll do nicely,” and handed over the money. True story.

In the Arab Emirates, male facial hair is being used as collateral for loans, I hear from a reporter researching facial hair. One of the most feared punishments for wrongdoing in that region is moustachectomy, which is the forced shaving of the upper lip, a traumatic experience which victims liken to castration, although I don’t suppose many of them have actually been castrated, not more than once, anyway.

Facial hair is in, in a big way. Thousands of people in India joined in the Australian tradition of turning November into Movember, or “grow-a-moustache” month, and almost all were men.

That’s one of several problems with this trend. First, many women find it extremely hard to grow moustaches, so it’s only a matter of time before all female Earthlings take
out a class action against the organisers for trillions of bucks.

Second, baldies (like the present writer) cannot grow moustaches as it makes us look like gay guys from the 1970s, not a good look.

Third, many men (and women) in China cannot grow moustaches at all, because Chinese people are more highly evolved than regular humans, or so a friend from Shanghai tells me. I was about to tell him he was talking rubbish, but held back, in case he wasn’t. I know for a fact that Chinese WOMEN have weird superhuman powers, having encountered them regularly.

The Shanghai gentleman said it takes him a year to grow a moustache, and even then it is so sparse that it looks like a long, thin, flat spider perched on his lip.

Poor him. Moustaches boost male confidence, psychologists say. In parts of India, police officers have even been given government grants for moustache cultivation. (Not sure what they spend the money on, perhaps that Gro-Fast fertiliser you get in gardening shops?)

The following day I saw a report on the BBC that Turkish doctors are offering moustache implants for men (or presumably, eccentric women) who feel their upper lips are too naked. Simply book yourself into an Istanbul hospital and come out with a thick, luxurious Lech Walesa-style growth which curtains your whole mouth, filtering out bugs, acid rain, particulate matter, etc.


Anti-sexism campaigners are calling for the immediate arrest of everyone on Earth. This is because pretty much every country is littered with “Men Working” signs, which are blatantly sexist, according to Esther Leung and Anya Das, two feminist readers.

They were inspired to protest after reading that anti-sexists at a US college recently demanded the removal of Men Working signs at a construction site (although one report said that after they were removed, several people fell into holes).

But what should the signs be changed to? “Men AND Women Working” is fine in Asia, but is inaccurate in the West, where buildings are erected by guys only. “Construction Persons Working” is over-fussy.

“Illegal Immigrants Working” would be more honest for many places. One reader said the ladyboy district of Bangkok and most of San Francisco should have signs with extra quotation marks: “Men” Working. Having seen the astonishingly low level of activity at building sites around Asia, I would move the quotation marks along a bit, making it: Men “Working”.

One reader, whom I will not name because he will (and should) have his house burned down, said we could simply balance out all the Men Working signs around the world by placing “Women Working” signs in every kitchen. Careful.

A reader from Delhi pointed out that the word “man” comes from the Sanskrit word “manu” which means “human being”, so we should “simply use the original term”. Okay in principle, but “Manu Working” looks weird to me, especially since the only guy I know called Manu has a severe allergy to working, thinking, lifting a finger, or indeed any activity which involves using more than a single calorie of energy.


Reader Ann Teoh tells me there’s uproar at hairdressing salons in Kelantan, Malaysia. Prudish officials have made it illegal for hairdressers of one sex to give haircuts to customers of another, indicating that doing so is equivalent to having sex. Officials: just try it. You are going to be SO disappointed.


If traffic jams keep growing at present rates, key highways in Asia will be permanently gridlocked, greenies say. People will have to abandon vehicles and go back to walking and cycling, which would be a good thing.

It is already happening, campaigner Elly Sung told me. I believe it. This columnist visited Bangkok recently, and the drive from the airport to town took so long that I pretty much had to turn around straight way to head back to the airport.

Last week during a traffic jam in Russia, drivers took 24 hours to move one kilometre. This is extremely slow, comparable to the speed of a snail crossing a desert or a Greek businessman paying a tax bill. In China, a single traffic gridlock on the Beijing-Tibet road lasted NINE DAYS, and one on the Mongolia-Beijing road in Hebei lasted ELEVEN DAYS. Picture the scene: HUSBAND: “Bye, honey, I’m just popping out to the shop to buy some milk.” WIFE: “Okay. See you in a month!”

“But for the gridlock plan to work, we need governments to encourage reckless amounts of car production,” said Elly. “Luckily, almost every government in Asia is co-operating.”


The Russian government just put out an official message that citizens will NOT die from the so-called Mayan “end of the world” prediction on December 21. Phew. Russian citizens can get back to their normal pastimes, i.e., dying from alcoholism, snow storms and gun violence.


When Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway visited a friend’s baby twins at the hospital in New Delhi recently, staff assumed she was a domestic helper, the media said. This is ridiculous. We’re talking about one of the most important, most challenging, most respected roles in the world. Being a domestic helper is tough: no mere princess could manage it.


Talking of royals, friends of the UK’s Princess Kate say she may name her baby after where it was conceived – which means it will have an Asian name. King Malaysia? Queen Singapore? Good thing they didn’t stop in Hong Kong. The kid would have ended up as King Kong.

(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via



Letter: Corporations real welfare queens



Bud Wright: Hatred from religious extremism rears its headScott Mooneyham: McCrory needs to be up-front about tax overhaul planRomney: ‘Middle income’ between $200K to $250KObama, Romney trade tough words over consulate attacksLetter: Barnes right to share his beliefsLetters: Do not publish unsigned commentsLetter: Progressives set America’s values

Letter: Corporations real welfare queens

By Jim Bridges

The Daily Advance

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No one fares well on welfare, except perhaps, corporations.


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Definition Please

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on September 11, 2012 – 10:43am.

What is welfare? Where does it come from and who receives it?

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Firm condemned for 'Jubilee loan'


29 May 2012 Last updated at 11:27 ET

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Delicious Digg Facebook reddit StumbleUpon Email Print The blog was promoted on the company’s website

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More help for payday loan debtors Should there be a cap on payday loans? Listen ‘I took 64 payday loans worth £22,000’ Watch

A payday lender has been branded “irresponsible” after it published a blog suggesting people could take out a loan to fund Jubilee celebrations.

Payday Bank said the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee presented the “perfect opportunity” to celebrate in true British style.

It concluded: “If you want to boost your Jubilee spending pot, a same day loan could provide the cash you need.”

The article has been condemned by campaigners and a debt advice charity.

The online piece suggested people throw a party, get their children involved in making bunting, watch coverage of the various public events on TV and head to London to watch the pageant on the Thames.

It was tagged with a number of search terms including “ways to save money”.

Taken down

A spokesman for the company said the blog had been taken down once the BBC brought it to their attention.

He said: “We do not feel this was acceptable content and is not up to the standards we set ourselves with regards to responsible lending and brokering.

“The blog was written by a contracted third party, and we should have been more rigorous in checking the information on it.

Steve Perry said the advertising could make people feel they were missing out

“We would like to clarify to anyone that uses our site that we do not encourage or recommend that anyone takes out payday loans for any reasons other than emergencies.”

He added the firm would be reviewing the content of the blog and of its website to make sure they did not send “conflicting messages”.

According to the company’s website, the interest payable on a £180 loan is £45 if paid back in full within 28 days. The APR is given as a variable rate of 1,737%.

Steve Perry took out 64 loans from 12 different companies over 18 months, leaving him with a debt of £22,000.

He now campaigns for more regulation for the payday loans industry.

‘Targets the vulnerable’

He said: “Since I began campaigning I have witnessed blatant acts of irresponsible advertising from a number of lenders targeting huge national events, ranging from Halloween to Mother’s Day.

“It is of little surprise that an event which has captured the nation’s imagination is being exploited by this industry.

“Irresponsible advertising targets the vulnerable on an emotional level, people can easily get caught up in the hype and fear of ‘missing out’ and for that reason could be tempted by a payday loan.”

MP Stella Creasy wants more regulation for payday lenders including caps

Business Minister Norman Lamb warned people against getting into “unnecessary debt” over the Jubilee.

He said: “Of course the government wants everyone to enjoy the Jubilee this weekend, but there are undoubtedly cheaper ways to enjoy this special occasion without getting into unnecessary debt.

“Payday loans should only ever be used as a short-term financial stop-gap, not as a long-term solution to financial difficulties.

“And in all cases, people need to ensure they fully understand the terms of the loan and can afford the repayments before signing up.”

Debt advice charity the Consumer Credit Counselling Service said the blog was no surprise.

A spokeswoman said: “We see it at Christmas and around Valentine’s Day.

“People need to take into account this is an incredibly expensive form of credit.

“Start Quote

Every time I think the payday industry couldn’t be more outrageous they prove me wrong”

End QuoteStella CreasyLabour MP for Walthamstow

“There are so many ways to celebrate the Jubilee without spending money.”

She said the charity was seeing more payday loan companies using different forms of media such as blogs to promote their services.

“There’s nothing they wouldn’t do or say to get people to take out incredibly expensive credit,” she said.

“If you need a payday loan your financial situation is probably quite vulnerable so it’s likely you will struggle to pay it back.”

Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, campaigns for more regulation for payday lenders.

She has pushed the government for caps on the cost of credit being introduced in the high-cost credit market.

She said: “Every time I think the payday industry couldn’t be more outrageous they prove me wrong – encouraging people to get into debt to celebrate the Jubilee is just another example of why these companies cannot be trusted to put the interests of consumers first and why the government should intervene.

“Self-regulation is not the answer to the poor practices of legal loan sharks and with millions of people now getting into financial difficulties as a result of these loans there’s no time to waste.

“We need caps on the costs of credit to give British consumers the same protection that others around the world enjoy from these companies.”


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