Dangerous Cities, Credit Control and More

Here are a few news items and bit pieces of information that you may have missed...

Controlling Your Credit

Even if you haven't been a victim of identity theft, you might feel you need greater credit security. Perhaps you are a natural target because of being well-known or having a high income. Whatever the reason, you can easily control the issuance of new credit under your name by requesting a fraud alert be posted to your information at the three big credit reporting companies (Equifax, Transunion, or Experian). You can still use your credit cards and still get new credit cards, but all new lines of credit will be double checked to verify that it is definitely you who are opening them.

Look for the Fraud Alert option on the credit company websites. On equifax.com, for example, you'll find a link near the bottom of the homepage that says "Request a fraud alert." Click that and they guide you through the process. All you have to do is suspect that you might be a victim of identity theft or at high risk of it. The alert is good for 90 days, and then you can renew for another 90 days. So far there is no limit to the number of renewals, so with a couple minutes online every three months you can keep this level of security indefinitely, and for free. By the way, you might be able to get a free credit report when you do this.

You can also place a complete freeze on any new credit issuance, although there may be a charge of up to $10 for this service, and another charge if you decide to unfreeze your credit.

Most Dangerous Cities

Which cities in the United states are the most dangerous? That depends on the criteria used to measure them, of course. But if we use the incidence of violent crime per 100,000 residents as our measure, Flint, Michigan tops the list. In 2011 (more recent figures have not yet been reported by the FBI) it had 2,337 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. They have three times as many rapes as the average for the country, and high rates of armed robbery and domestic abuse. Below are the top fifteen on the list. The number in parentheses indicates how many violent crimes there were per 100,000 residents in 2011.

1. Flint, Michigan (2,337)
2. Detroit, Michigan (2,137)
3. St. Louis, Missouri (1,857)
4. Oakland, California (1,683)
5. Memphis, Tennessee (1584)
6. Little Rock, Arkansas (1,490)
7. Birmingham, Alabama (1,483)
8. Atlanta Georgia (1,433)
9. Baltimore, Maryland (1,417)
10. Stockton, California (1,408)
11. Rock ford, Illinois (1,373)
12. Cleveland, Ohio (1,366)
13. New Haven, Connecticut (1,344)
14. Hartford, Connecticut (1,311)
15. Buffalo, New York (1,238)

According to an article in Business Insider, if we use the murder rate per capita as our measure, several cities in the United states make it into the top 50 most dangerous in the world, including New Orleans at number 21. The majority on the list are in Latin America, with Mexico having the most (12 of the 50).

The Salmon Lie

It is true that Salmon is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids -- at least some Salmon. But unfortunately it isn't true that just because it's Salmon it's good for you. In fact, if you buy it at a regular supermarket, there is a good chance it isn't one of the healthy ones.

Much of what is sold in supermarkets and served in restaurants is actually farmed Salmon. Studies show that farmed Salmon have 60% to 70% less omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain much higher levels of cancer causing dioxins and PCBs. They also contain antibiotic residue -- more than meat or any other domestic animal products.

They fish are hatched in plastic trays, crowded in unsanitary cages underwater, unnaturally fattened using soybean pellets, and treated with antibiotics and pesticides. They have to be fed a synthetic pigment to give them their pink color. This pigment contains canthaxanthin, which was used in sunless tanning pills until they were banned for human use.

These fish aren't just bad for your health, however. They are also bad for the environment. The antibiotics used are creating new varieties of resistant bacteria that are killing other fish in the oceans. The pesticides used are killing shellfish and other bottom-dwelling ocean life.

How do you avoid the unhealthy fish and eat only the healthy Salmon? Try natural food markets. The label should indicate if they are wild Salmon. Ask if you aren't sure. In restaurants you'll have to ask the waiter or chef, although the more expensive restaurants will normally serve wild-caught Salmon, because in addition to being healthier, they also taste better.

The fish farming industry claims that they are providing a healthy fish, and that fish farming helps to protect the wild Salmon population from over-fishing. Essentially they are saying that their fish are good for you and good for the environment. Both are questionable claims to say the least.

Larger Sizes Are Not Always Cheaper

At one time it was mostly true that you could save money by buying the larger size of something. It makes sense, after all. A manufacturer can reduce the cost of packaging per item or per ounce by having more items or more ounces in a package. Therefore they could pass on some of those savings to the consumer.

Consumers then, got used to the "family" or "institutional" cans, jars and packages of food costing less per ounce. However, some retailers have recently been overpricing large items, so they actually cost more per ounce or item than the smaller sizes. They know that many will assume the larger sizes are the better buy without doing the math. The lesson? Check out that price per ounce or pound. It is normally listed on a tag on the store shelves.

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