Welcome to the Silver Standard News
As a central element of the outreach work of the Elder Abuse Reform Now (EARN) Project, it is our goal to bring you the latest news on developments in the fight to end financial elder abuse, as well as a wide range of other information to assist senior citizens and their loved ones. From detailing the progress of legislation aimed at ending the practice of financial elder abuse in each of the 50 states to telling the stories of those who have suffered from the effects of this practice, the Silver Standard News is dedicated to making sure that no senior citizen in this country is denied the right to control the assets and property that are rightfully theirs.
To achieve this goal, we will be working on several different fronts; whether it be unraveling legal terminology for our readers or giving them a way to connect with each other, we will work to improve the lives of America's senior citizens by giving them a voice that reflects their concerns and ensures that they are part of a larger community that has their interests at heart.
We will shine a cold light into the darkness of financial elder abuse and the involuntary guardianship that is the favorite tool of the financial abuser. Scrutinize every state, every city, and every court to make sure the citizens of each state understand precisely where their state, and each legislator, stands on financial elder abuse, and how well existing laws protect their elders and punish the abusers.
We will remind every politician that senior citizens control the largest block of money and the largest block of votes. We will apply our motto, taken from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying." For we will be watching and reporting on the actions of those powerful Americans who, while enjoying the salaries and perks of office provided by the American tax payers, have failed the greatest generation and are now failing their baby boomer children.
In addition, we will give our readers. a look at the human faces behind every aspect of this struggle--not just victims but politicians, legislators, home care administrators, professional guardians, businesses. We will tell the personal stories of the people who have lost their money, homes and dignity due to unscrupulous individuals who are often allowed to act under the cloak of legality. But we will also tell the stories of those who have fought back, who have refused to take the existing state of affairs lying down, and who are winning their battles. We will tell you about those officeholders who are, and have been, their champions. Our aim is to empower our readers, to make them aware that they do not have to simply accept the way things are. Though they may be past the age of lying down on courthouse steps or participating in noisy demonstrations, we will encourage them to put their voice, their votes and their money to good use on the elder abuse front. Collectively, especially when joined by those who love them and younger people who don't want this evil to invade their "Golden Years"—they can create a mighty roar.
Though our principle focus is to inform and make elder abuse a sin of the past, we also hope we will amuse and entertain. Tell us what you want, what your concerns are, how you feel we can do a better job to make the Silver Standard News a vital source for all seniors and their adult children. We look forward to hearing from you.
"YOU HAVE NO MORE AUTHORITY THAN A HORSE'S ASS"
said the guardian with a chuckle
By Marcia Southwick
In most states, if you are deemed incapacitated by a court, it will hand your rights over to a professional or family guardian who then will make all decisions for you. Given that state courts are backlogged, and judges are faced with stacks of papers, it’s no wonder that a tendency to treat every case with uniformity has developed. Unfortunately, one size does not fit all, and many elders and persons with disabilities are not being treated as individuals with dignity but rather as second-class citizens without equal protection under the law—as a non-person. The descriptions of how removal of rights has caused suffering are heartbreaking.
Now that someone (often a complete stranger) has been appointed Dictator over your life and assets, and now that this Dictator has almost no supervision and little accountability for how your assets are spent, how are you feeling about it? Not too great. How is the guardian feeling? Power drunk.
Even though guardians can control every aspect of people’s lives, they aren’t monitored by outsiders. They pay themselves out of your estate in addition to having the right to claim that anything they do is in your “best interest.” If that means selling your house and throwing you into a lock-down unit, so be it. If your spouse of 50 years fights for your freedom, they will simply, on your behalf and “in your best interests”, get you a divorce from that pesky spouse. If your family doesn’t like it and wages a court battle, the guardian can use YOUR money to hire a lawyer to battle back, quickly exhausting your estate. And, what are your families chances of winning if you are in one of the many jurisdictions where the judge, the guardian, who was very possibly appointed by the judge, and the guardian’s lawyer are old pals?
One example out of many in which guardians became increasingly tyrannical can be seen in the case of Evelyn Schwartz. Evelyn was born in 1916, widowed early, and, having had no children, lived alone for many years. She had been a secretary to the dean of a local Mayfield Ohio college, and at the time she was deemed “incompetent”, a very alert 93-year-old woman who had been declared fully capable by her physician.
For fifteen years, her caretaker, a young man named Dean, had been seeing to her every need. He had a heart attack, however, which caused Adult Protective Services to come knocking. At that moment, her life was changed forever.
Evelyn didn’t expect or welcome this intrusion into her life. She was receiving excellent care and had a close-knit group of friends. She had put a financial Power of Attorney and Health Directive in place, which meant that she was well prepared for the future. As most of us do, Evelyn desperately wanted to remain in her own home. Instead, a professional guardian was appointed over Evelyn.
In the documentary The Unforgivable Truth, produced by The Silver Standard for the EARN Project, Evelyn can be seen picking typos out of the court document declaring her to be—in their assessment—incompetent. Can we really trust those who are not educated enough to construct a simple document to assess others’ mental capacity (overriding the judgement of medical professionals)? Do we really want them to have the right to use this assessment to imprison someone for life after having rob them of their entire identity, and given that identity, and all the powers and possessions that come with it, to someone else?
In a YouTube video, Evelyn describes losing her rights: “Everything is turning against me. It’s the most unfair thing I have ever encountered in my life! I’m in my 90s and should not have to put up with anything like this—
I’m treated like a common criminal. I have nothing left to live for . . . I don’t deserve this, a prison sentence!” (view article).
Many elders in her situation have compared being forced into nursing facilities as no different than criminal incarceration, yet their only crime is aging and their rights are less than an incarcerated criminal. The “hearing” was held in front of a magistrate (not a judge) in a civil court. Those giving testimony did not have to swear under the penalty of perjury. Evelyn’s Power of Attorney was not allowed to speak (view article). Often the senior citizen in question is not even allowed to be present at those hearings to determine the direction of their property and their very life.
Evelyn entered a world of psychological and financial devastation in which the guardian stole, destroyed, or sold off many of her and Dean’s belongings. One of Evelyn’s friends, upon mentioning to the guardian that he could be fined five thousand dollars for removing Dean’s belongings without giving proper thirty-day notice, received this response: “YOU HAVE NO MORE AUTHORITY THAN A HORSE’S ASS” (view article).
To me, that phrase captures the one-sided power that guardians have over protected persons and anyone who tries to help. Lord Acton, the 19th century politician, said, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Unfortunately, that is still even more true today.
By Mary West
You Too Could Become a Victim of an Elder Financial Scam
Financial scams are rampant and have many forms, making it especially hard to avoid them. In a 2012 survey titled Financial Fraud and Fraud Susceptibility in the United States by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, 80 percent of the respondents reported that they had been solicited by a person making a fraudulent offer. Once solicited, older adults were 34 percent more prone to victimization than younger adults in their forties. The losses can be devastating: according to a 2014 study by Allianz Life, on average, victims of elder financial abuse lose $36,000.
Seniors’ heightened vulnerability to fraud is due to an array of causes. Two factors that play a prominent role are the tactics used by scammers along with the inability of older adults to recognize red flags that indicate an offer isn’t legitimate. Since at one time or another you’re likely to encounter one of these schemes, and being familiar with the dirty tricks of the trade can help protect you from losing your money to a fraudster.
Scammers Use Tactics that Incite Strong Emotions
When scammers make their pitches, they say things that generate strong emotions. The older people are, the greater the likelihood that these emotion reactions will lead to their victimization. A study conducted by the Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL) compared the effects of strong emotions in adults between 65 and 85 years old, to those between 30 and 40 years old. The participants underwent tests that elicited strong positive emotions such as excitement, strong negative emotions such as anger, and neutral emotions such as boredom or depression. Each participant was place in a situation intended to provoke, one by one, these three emotions and after each one, presented with fraudulent ads to ascertain their interest.
The results showed that the older adults whose reacting was excitement or anger were more likely to purchase the item promoted in the misleading ads than those experiencing neutral emotions. Conversely, younger adults who felt excitement or anger weren’t more likely to have an interest in the fraudulent offers than those with neutral emotions. Regardless of their feelings, unlike the older participants, the younger adults’ interest depended upon how they perceived the ads’ credibility: the more credible they rated the offers, the more likely they wanted to purchase the products advertised. In a study done by UCLA in 2012, it was discovered that the area of the brain which warns us that something is not quite right, begins to diminish as early as our mid-forties. Additionally, we begin to lose our ability to absorb information, simultaneously analyzing it based on multiple logical criteria (so called “Fluid Intelligence”), and reach a well-considered decision. This makes financial decision-making problematic.
Authors of the SCL study concluded that the elderly are more susceptible to scams that generate emotions like excitement or anger. It was clear that “high-arousal” emotions such as excitement lead to risky decision-making compared to “low-arousal” emotions such as boredom. Strangely, even when older adults suspected that an add was misleading, their frustration or excitement would never-the-less cause them to want to purchase the fraudulent products. Unsurprisingly, an appeal to these feelings is a major persuasion tactic used by scammers who target the elderly.
The authors recommended sharing the findings with older adults so they can recognize the tactics used by scammers. Fraudsters tend to create excitement about an offer by the following means:
It’s always best to postpone any decision until the company’s background can be researched to verify its legitimacy.
Be Alert to Red Flags of Guaranteed or Unrealistic Gains
In the survey on fraud susceptibility, a main takeaway was that many Americans are unable to identify red flags associated with scams, especially older Americans and older women make up a larger proportion of those... They aren’t knowledgeable about what constitutes reasonable returns on investments, which makes them prone to believe fraudulent pitches with promises of “guaranteed” or inflated gains. In reality, all investments carry some risk, but mentions of unrealistic returns are a commonly used means of ensnaring the scam prey.
When the survey presented the respondents with two pitches that were full of red flags, a significant percentage of the participants found the fraudulent claims appealing rather than suspicious. Below are some examples of statements that 48 to 59 percent of the respondents rated appealing:
Further questions to gauge the participants’ ability to identify red flags showed the following promises were the most appealing:
You can see how the excitement generated by such claims might override an elderly person’s normal good judgement and induce him or her to take a risk. Widowed women in their late seventies and older are particularly susceptible because so often it was only their husbands who dealt with the family finances.
Elder Financial Scams are Vastly Underreported
The fraud susceptibility survey cited underreporting as a problem that prevents policy makers from having accurate data reflecting the scope of financial scams among the elderly. It estimated 60 percent of fraud cases are unreported because of various factors such as embarrassment or a belief that it won’t make a difference.
To get a true picture of the incidence of financial scams, the survey respondents were asked about their experiences in two ways. As in past studies, they were asked directly if they had been the victim of a fraud. They were also questioned indirectly by inquiring about their experiences with financial offers that are rife with fraud such as email scams, lottery scams, free lunch seminars, boiler room sales, penny stock sales, and pyramid schemes. This research method that involved both direct and indirect questioning yielded a fuller view of fraud susceptibility. The inescapable finding was that elder financial scams are more pervasive than earlier research indicates.
The bottom line is to avoid talking to strangers on the phone as well as to refrain from responding to unsolicited mail invitations or emails. Moreover, don’t give out personal information to a stranger or allow someone to rush you into a decision. Talk to your elderly parents about scammers. Put a pad and pencil next to their telephone and suggest that they jot down all the details and go over them with you or a trusted friend before making a purchase. Above all, remember the old adage, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Keniel Aeon Thomas was a happy man. He lived on the beautiful island of Jamaica basking in the sun and happily running a small home business hat was doing very well. He had no office rent to pay and, using only his telephone and email, Keniel’s business was going so well that he made a profit of at least $300,000 in a relatively short amount of time.
Keniel Aeon Thomas was a scam artist. He had scammed more than 30 victims. Something that is fairly common on the beautiful island of Jamaica. They target elderly people who come from a generation that instinctually trust others and want to help anyone in need and, more often than not, get away with their scams because these crimes are very difficult to prosecute due to the need for extradition
But, one morning, in 2014, Eniel Thomas called the wrong man. On the other end of his line was… a federal district and appellate court judge in the 1970s, then was appointed by Pres. Jimmy Carter to be director of the FBI and, in 1987, head of the CIA—in fact, the only person to ever hold both of those job. In addition, this man, Judge William Webster, currently chairs the Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Keniel Thomas told Judge Weber that he had just won $72 million and a new Mercedes Benz. He explained that the judge would need to send $50,000 to cover taxes and fees before the winnings would be released to him.
“You’re a great man…. you was a judge, you was an attorney, you was a basketball player, you are in the U.S. Navy, Homeland Security, I know everything about you. I even seen your photograph, and I seen your precious wife” Thomas told the judge. What Keniel Thomas did not know was that the next call was being monitored by the FBI…. Judge Webster told the man that “I am as anxious as you are to get the money” but, that it would take a while for him to collect that much money.
Thomas told him that he could send it in various payments, with a first payment of $20,000. Then he lowered the number
Thomas called numerous times, identity himself as David Morgan, a manager with Megamillion. The judge asked him to stop calling, but Thomas continued and then began sending email (more than 20 emails). Judge Webster noticed email address identified him as firstname.lastname@example.org not David Morgan.
One day Judge Weber’s wife Lynda answered the phone and the calls became threatening. She was told that she needed to pay $6,000 “or else”. Thomas told her that he knew that one had been at home with her the previous night. He further threatened to find her at “her white brick house” and “put a bullet straight through her head”. He said it would be “so easy that we go set your house ablaze…you can be taken care of easy” He also bragged that the FBI would never find him, and she needed to pay or she and her husband would be killed
Finally, in 2017, Keniel Thomas took a trip to New York City and the FBI grabbed him as he exited his flight from Jamaica. He pled guilty and, just a few weeks ago, went on trial.
Under normal circumstances the prison term for this sort of crime is 33 to 41 months. However, US District Judge Beryl Howell added 2 ½ years for a total of six years saying the scam qualified as organized criminal activity and the scammer presented a threat to the family members of the victim.
In court Thomas addressed the Websters saying “I really didn’t mean to hurt you guys and… we (referring to Jamaicans) love you guys, we love tourists”
His lawyer said he was disappointed by the 30 months added to Thomas’ sentence and said he was considering an appeal
From the bench, Judge Howell Addressed Judge and Mrs. Webster, saying “You continue your public service it is a real honor to have you in my court”
Jamaican based scamming has become big business in the last years. They frequently target older more vulnerable citizens and, in many cases, completely destroy their lives. Scammers pass around cell phone numbers, which is why the Webster’s continued to receive calls even after the arrest
Running scams on numerous victims these criminals launder the money by having one victim send money to a second victim before it is sent to Jamaica. A man in California told the FBI that he received certified checks in exchange for sending $85,000 for the “taxes and fees”. Not surprisingly, the certified checks all bounce.
A 75-year-old woman, receiving one of these call for man in the 876-area code (Jamaica) and having been previously warned about this sort of scam, told the man she wasn’t interested. But, before she could hang up, he began threatening her, telling her he knew where she lived and that he would put a bullet in her head.
Frightened, she told him she didn’t have any money and again hung up. He called back saying he knew she lived alone, and she would be killed. Finally, she called her cell phone company to have the number blocked and then called her local sheriff’s department.
In yet another case, an 82-year-old woman from Californian said that the man who called her identified himself as “Obama” on the phone. She sent him $600,000 in one year. A California man paid 87,000. An 85-year-old man lost his home and lifesaving. A woman in North Dakota lost more than $300,000. A man in Knoxville Tennessee committed suicide after sending thousands to a Jamaican group according to a report on CNN. Another woman received an email saying if she didn’t pay $3,000 by a certain time, members of her family would be murdered. The email stated… “we know who you are, we know where you live, we’ve been tracking you, we know your schedule, we know where you spend your time.
A California woman received a phone call one morning while she was driving to work. The man on the phone said they had abducted her mother and they were going to kill her if she did not pay. She could hear her mother’s voice in the background on the other end of the phone which made her believe that this was true. She was told to go to a nearby grocery store and put the money into a money pack card. She was then to give the man the card numbers over the phone and then destroy the card. He said they would release her mother after they got the money and received email pictures of the destroyed money card.
Somehow this call got cut off at which point the woman called her mother and the mother answered the phone. It turned out the scammer had also called the woman’s mother frightening her with a story of having kidnapped her daughter in order to obtain her frightened voice for the daughter to hear.
He did not call back.
She said she never answered phone call she did not recognize, didn’t answer block numbers, and often let people leave voicemails before she picked up. However, this call appeared to be from her mother. She said, “If it could happen to me, it can happen to anyone”.
Law enforcement says that when people get calls like this they should immediately hang up and call law enforcement. The FBI recommends that, if you get an email like this, you should not respond. Your response shows the scammer that your account is active and that will attract further contact from scammers.
Frank Abagnale, the con artist who inspired Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie Catch Me if You Can, says that things have gotten “4000 times easier” for scammers today than when he committed his crime. He, along with all law enforcement, says that we give out far too much of our personal information especially on the Internet
Mrs. Webster said that the FBI is doing wonderful work with this sort of crime and that she and her husband had chosen to speak publicly as a way to draw attention to frauds targeting older people.
The California woman, targeted with a fake kidnaping scam, was correct when she said, “If it can happen to me it can happen to anyone” We must educate ourselves about scams and financial elder abuse. These crimes will only come to an end when we are an informed, alert, and cautious citizenry.
By Joan Hunt
I was not quite thirteen years old when I got off the California Zephyr at a small depot in the Sierra Nevada mountains, went behind the station, and waited for the train to continue its route to Nebraska. Surprisingly, nobody saw me do it. Weirdly, I felt calm and purposeful as I strode through the streets of Portola, California—until I realized that I had only a ten-dollar bill in my purse, no clothing but what was on my back, and no plan past the one I had just accomplished.
What caused me to jump the train? Indecision. But it was even more than that. I had been caught between my parents since their divorce four years earlier, and I just couldn’t take it anymore.
It began with each of them asking me the rather nebulous question as to which of them I would rather be with if “something happened.” I told them both what they wanted to hear, because that is a terrible choice to give an eight-year-old. I knew that something must be wrong, but it was several months before it became clear. Dad would be staying in Nebraska, and my mother and I were moving to California where her family lived.
I spent most of the two-day train trip across the Plains, the rivers, and the Rockies alternately hating everybody I knew and feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t think much about anybody else’s pain because the adults had ruined my life and they deserved to feel bad about it.
Once united with my mother in California, I regained my equilibrium. My mother, who was not a joiner, made friends with ladies in the neighborhood who had daughters my age. And I, who was not friendly, discovered that I could extend myself to like people that I didn’t already know. I also learned from listening in to my mother’s conversations with my Aunt Janet that she was still miserably in love with my father, who had “become involved” with another woman. Clearly, I was not the only person who had lost something they valued.
Even then, I could see what drove my parents apart. Dad was a farmer who loved the land. Mom was a city girl who hated dirt, farm animals, and really everything that had to do with being outside. This wasn’t an excuse, but it was most likely the reason my father fell for a neighbor woman who worked in the field and enjoyed haying and hauling corn as much as he did. Unlike most kids, I did not feel it was my fault that my parents divorced, and I didn’t take sides.
The trouble was that I had inherited my father’s love of the land. This became obvious when I got to visit him and his new family the summer before my freshman year in high school. I enjoyed irrigating in the cornfields, feeding the cattle, and riding the overgrown Shetland pony through the pasture all the way to the Platte River. Plus, Grandma Sahling was there, and my cousin Johnny, and I became rapidly attached to my new little brother and sister.
Junior high school had been rough in California. It was the late ’50s, and racial tension, drugs, and “mean girls” were menacing features that threatened my ability to stay alive, let alone learn anything in school. Mom worked in downtown Oakland, leaving me on my own and vulnerable after school. So, I made the huge decision to stay in Nebraska for my freshman year. Surprisingly, everyone agreed, with the caveat that I would then go back to California the next summer. Which I did, reluctantly.
Never have I felt so conflicted. I loved my new life, loved being with my mom again, and once again felt like I was in a vise—being squeezed this way and that. My mother had remarried—not for love, it turned out—but to give me the security of a family like I had in Nebraska. They even bought me a dog in hopes that I would want to stay.
It was my new stepfather who brought things to a head. He had a bad temper, which he lost on my mother, and I put him straight. Without thinking of the consequences, I called my dad to tell him what had happened. He insisted on my coming home immediately. And that necessitated leaving my mother in a bad situation that I felt responsible for.
Which brings us to the little logging town in the Sierra Nevadas where I decided to make my stand. Within a couple of hours, I returned to the train station and admitted my “mistake.” The town’s police chief (who incidentally had two great-looking teenaged sons, but that is another story) took me home to stay the night with his family and contacted my parents.
Finally, it was in their hands. My parents had to put their heads together and for once come up with an arrangement that put my welfare in front of their own interests. They agreed that I was to finish high school in Nebraska. And with that decided, I was free to be a kid again.
COME RIDE WITH ME
By Elizabeth Sinclair
Although we might bemoan that our kids and grandkids are riding their bikes less these days and therefore getting less exercise, it is heartening to learn that there is one age group actually riding more: seniors.
With more cities introducing bike-sharing (or short-term rental) programs, or building bike-friendly commuting lanes and spaces, seniors are hopping (back) on their bikes in increasing numbers.
The US National Census Bureau reports that more people than ever are biking to work, and the use of bikes is “skyrocketing among the old,” according to People For Bikes. New studies show that bike riding can hold back the effects of ageing and keep you healthy.
If you are thinking about starting to ride a bike (again), check out the League of American Bicyclists. They have information about bike clubs, bike shops, rides, events, and much more on their website. They also offer classes in safe riding for people who may not have done much riding lately and want to get back on a bicycle again or for those who want to learn how to ride a bike.
Karen Jenkins, the League’s Director Emeritus, has some good advice for people who are wanting to get back on—or learn to ride—a bike. She recommends heading to your local bike store to find a bike that works best for your needs. Decide in advance what your budget is so you’re not tempted to overspend. You can also check out bike recycle or resale programs in your area or ask if the bike store has second-hand bikes for sale. Consider your physical needs: how high can you lift your legs? If the answer is not very high, then you may need a “step-through” bike, and if you have balance issues, you might consider a tricycle, says Jenkins.
Make sure you test ride any bike you are considering buying. Once you have a bike, look for safe, accessible places to start riding. Seek out a biking group for company. A group will also help keep you motivated to ride regularly. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing when you ride, with sturdy shoes to protect to protect your feet. Invest in some good outerwear to protect you from the elements if you don’t already have some.
Jenkins suggests taking a short course on bike maintenance and basic repair (such as changing a tire or oiling the chain). You can find classes in your area through the League’s website.
Together with the growing interest in bike riding in cities or to work, seniors are keen to try bicycle touring as well.
LifeCycle Adventures, a cycling tour company that runs bike tours in the USA and Europe, states on their blog that, as a senior, you need to ask yourself three important questions before you decide to go on a bike tour.
First, you need to be realistic about your ability. Do you ride regularly? How long and how far can you comfortably ride? Can you handle hills and rolling terrain, or do you fare better on flat roads? You don’t want to book a vigorous tour only to find yourself spending more time in the support vehicle than on your bike.
You also need to choose the length of tour—it could be three or four days, or a week or longer—based on your ability to successfully finish the tour, and, most importantly, enjoy it.
Second, what sort of tour experience do you want to have? Do you want food or wine tours, rustic natural landscapes, or do you want to explore new cities? Do you want a small, private, custom-designed experience, or are you happy to join a larger group and meet new people? Most tour operators can create a customized tour for you or your group and also run scheduled tours that you can join.
Finally, you need to be clear about the level of support you will need. Will you want a vehicle you can ride in on harder terrain? Will you want a guide who stays with you? Or are you happy with a larger group with people breaking up into smaller groups and moving at their own pace?
LifeCycle Adventures has received accolades for their trips from Wanderlust, Examiner, and The Huffington Post. National Geographic Adventure rates them as one of their “Best Outfitters on Earth.” LifeCycle offers self-guided, scheduled, and personalized cycling tours.
International Bike Tours (IBT) is another company that offers senior tours. The company offers both US and international bike trips, often combining them with riding on a barge or walking. They run special 70 Plusser Bike and Barge tours to Belgium, France, and Holland. The 70 Plusser combines cultural visits to historic sites with half-day biking. And best of all, IBT has a special discount for travelers booking this particular tour: you get to subtract your age from the total cost of the tour.
By Bill Wine
On marquees and contracts, they were Laurel and Hardy.
But for those of us who loved them dearly, they were—and still are—on a first-name basis.
Thus the diverting and endearing new biopic, "Stan & Ollie," a puckish portrait of friendship and love between arguably the greatest and most beloved screen comedy duo in movie history, gifted providers of much-needed belly laughs during the Great Depression.
Brit Stan Laurel and American Oliver Hardy—the former curious and slim and childlike, the latter pompous and rotund and frustrated—left individual movie careers and teamed up to star together in over a hundred movies: first silents, then talkies; some shorts and others feature length. Their particularly idiosyncratic brand of sly slapstick, carefully choreographed and oddly elegant in such memorable outings as "The Music Box," "Babes in Toyland," "Way Out West," "Another Fine Mess," "Blockheads," "Busybodies," and "Helpmates," was designed to make all generations laugh. Hard.
If nothing else, who could forget them carrying a piano up a set of steep steps in "The Music Box" or their dainty dance in "Way Out West"? Nobody—that's who.
Director Jon S. Baird ("Filth," "Cass"), working from a screenplay by Jeff Pope, focuses on a stretch in 1953, years after “The Boys,” as they were sometimes referred to, were a dominant pop-culture force and urgent big-screen attraction. Their livelihood in peril and confronted with considerable money worries and other major issues, they embarked on an ill-fated, grueling theatre tour of the post-war United Kingdom.
The casting choices for impersonators of the titular leads seem odd and arbitrary at first blush. But John C. Reilly's Ollie and Steve Coogan's Stan turn out to be the film's most irresistible revelations, always pleasantly watchable and occasionally astounding.
Reilly, the Oscar-nominated supporting actor from "Chicago," wearing fat suit prosthetics and heavy makeup, captures Hardy's speech patterns and fourth-wall-breaking gestures so perfectly that we have to keep reminding ourselves it's someone else under there.
Coogan, who was Oscar nominated for co-writing "Philomena" along with Jeff Pope and also for co-producing the Best Picture nominee, contributes what seems like a nifty tribute to Laurel as a unique performer as well as a gifted writer and director.
The two male leads have effectively replicated the artful antics and merry magic of the terrific twosome and conveyed their enduring appeal.
They're adroitly supported by Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda as their wives— Stan's fourth and Ollie's third—bouncing off each other so cleverly that they could be the stars of their own comedy act.
S & O relied on the simplicity of terse dialogue and inevitable looks of exasperation delivered right to the camera—never too often, never too seldom—creating a bond with the audience over a shared repeated acknowledgement of life's primal absurdities, calamities, and indignities.
And, two-thirds of a century later, their bountiful humor holds up in a sprightly mix of broad comedy and touching sentiment. So say hello again to "Stan & Ollie."
Another fine mess? Fine, yes. But a mess? Certainly not.
On the EARN website under “State Info,” There is a drop-down list where you can find all the legal information about Financial Elder Abuse and involuntary Guardianship for your state.
As we researched each state, a question arose—though the public chooses those who will represent their interests and safety and, through one manner of taxation or another, pay the salaries of those representatives as well as Attorney Generals, Judges, and District Attorneys, why is there so little concern shown for the senior citizens in so many states? It is particularly perplexing given the fact that those very senior citizens are, more often than not, paying the largest share of the taxes and casting the largest share of the votes.
Over the next year, we will compare all 50 states, each month we will carry forward the state that was the best in the previous month’s comparisons, to see...
WHO IS DOING THEIR JOB.
|Financial Exploitation of Elders||Comparison of State laws protecting Elders against Financial Exploitation|
|Does the State define an elder?||Yes. Person 60 years or older||No. Only Vulnerable Adults.||Yes. Person 60 years or older||No. Vulnerable Adults.|
|State laws protect elders against financial exploitation?||Yes||Only Vulnerable Adults||Yes||Only Vulnerable Adults|
|Are there penalties for financial exploitation of elders?||Yes. Divided into Classes of Felony||Yes.||Yes||Yes|
|Is there a duty to report financial exploitation of elders||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Is there a penalty for failure to report?||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Does the State law define financial exploitation?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Does the State's Elder law define the following:|
|b) Undue Influence||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|How does the State define|
|a) Financial Exploitation||Financial Exploitation means the use of deception, intimidation, undue influence, force, or threat of force to obtain or exert unauthorized control over an elderly person's property with the intent to deprive the elderly person of his or her property or the breach of a fiduciary duty to an elderly person by the person's guardian, conservator, or agent under a power of attorney which results in an unauthorized appropriation, sale, or transfer of the elderly person's property||Financial Exploitation involves wrongfully taking or using an older adult's funds or property through theft, s cams, fraud, or predatory lending.||Financial Exploitation means an act or omission by another person, which causes a substantial monetary or property loss to an elderly person, or causes a substantial monetary or property gain to the other person, which gain would otherwise benefit the elderly person but for the act or omission of such other person; provided, however, that such an act or omission shall not be construed as financial exploitation if the elderly person has knowingly consented to such act or omission unless such consent is a consequence of misrepresentation, undue influence, coercion or threat of force by such other person; and, provided further, that financial exploitation shall not be construed to interfere with or prohibit a bona fide gift by an elderly person||Financial exploitation means an action that involves the misuse of an adult's funds, property, or personal dignity by another person.|
|b) Deception||Deception occurs when a person knowingly: a) Creates or confirms a false impression b) Fails to correct a false impression the defendant created or confirmed; c) Fails to correct a false impression when the defendant is under a duty to do so; d) Prevents another from acquiring information pertinent to the disposition of the property involved; e). Sells or otherwise transfers or encumbers property, fails to disclose a lien, adverse claim, or other legal impediment to the enjoyment of the property.||Deception 1) "Deception" means knowingly to:
(i) create or confirm in another a false impression that the offender does not believe to be true;
(ii) fail to correct a false impression that the offender previously has created or confirmed;
(iii) prevent another from acquiring information pertinent to the disposition of the property involved;
(iv) sell or otherwise transfer or encumber property without disclosing a lien, adverse claim, or other legal impediment to the enjoyment of the property, regardless of whether the impediment is of value or a matter of official record;
(v) insert or deposit a slug in a vending machine;
(vi) remove or alter a label or price tag;
(vii) promise performance that the offender does not intend to perform or knows will not be performed; or
(viii) misrepresent the value of a motor vehicle offered for sale by tampering or interfering with its odometer, or by disconnecting, resetting, or altering its odometer with the intent to change the mileage indicated.
(2) "Deception" does not include puffing or false statements of immaterial facts and exaggerated representations that are unlikely to deceive an ordinary individual.
|c) Intimidation||Intimidation is a threat of physical or emotional harm to an elderly person, or the communication to an elderly person that he or she will be deprived of food and nutrition, shelter, property, prescribed medication, or medical care or treatment||None||None|
|d) Undue Influence||Undue Influence means domination, coercion, manipulation, or any other act exercised by another person to the extent that an elderly person is prevented from exercising free judgment and choice.||Undue
Influence means domination and influence amounting
to force and coercion exercised by another person to such an extent that a
vulnerable adult or an individual at least 68 years old was prevented from
exercising free judgment and choice.
(ii) "Undue influence" does not include the normal influence that one member of a family has over another member of the family.
|Undue influence means the misuse of real or apparent authority or the use of manipulation by a person in a trusting, confidential or fiduciary relationship with a person who is a dependent adult or an incapacitated adult.|
Letters to the Editor
As we have just begun, we have not yet received any letters. I certainly hope that you will write to us: tell us about your experience with Financial Elder Abuse or Involuntary Guardianship. We will also be looking for people to interview for our monthly video and lovely photographs for our cover.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving demonstrated how much change can be accomplished when we all speak as one and insist on change. Now, it is time for Americans to again speak as one—create a roar so loud we cannot be ignored--no longer tolerating the abuse of our senior citizens.
Join The EARN Project. The membership is free. It will provide you with notifications when your Senate or House have a Bill, concerning Financial Elder Abuse and Involuntary Guardianship, coming up. It will provide a contact to all pertinent officials, through the EARN Project for you to make sure your concerns are heard and addressed. It also gives you access to information on all the laws in your state and an emergency contact list for your state which, at this time, are open to all on our website but, will soon be for members only.
Earn has picked up the baton, won't you please join the chorus —without you there is no roar and no change.
Looking forward to seeing what you send us
Sharon de Lobo
please send your letters through the EARN Contact Form or directly to email@example.com