Archive for February, 2009

Consumers In Debt: Know Your Rights!

February 27, 2009

The Chicago Tribune has an article on debt collect tips that consumers should know.

They are:

  1. Answer the phone
  2. Be brief
  3. Know the times they are allowed to call
  4. Ask for verification of the debt in writing
  5. Give them a time frame
  6. Make a deal (added by me: use a mediator if needed)
  7. Keep good records

For a Full description of the tips, read the article [here]
I came across this site, Credit Mediation Services, an Australian company of “professional negotiators” that helps you “typically lower your debt by over 50%”. They specialize in Credit Cards, Store Cards, Personal loans, Trade debts, Old secured debts, and School debts.

To no surprise, there is no mention anywhere of what the fees are or how they go about charging the clients.
In many situations, the people being taken to court by debt collection agencies are not represented by an attorney. Getting tips like simply asking for proof of ownership of the debt is paramount to the direction of the case. The problem is many people do not know this and only come across this information after hiring a debt assistance company to help.

In response to that, if any people out there reading this is in that situation, I might have saved you some money πŸ™‚
There are also many other free resources out there that can provide assistance. Many court systems give out free booklets when choosing to represent yourself. Mediators, new and old, might want to track it down in your local jurisdiction to further educate yourself if you mediate debt related cases.

Mobile Mediation and Negotiation Tips 2.26.09

February 26, 2009

Here is today’s mobile mediation and negotiation tips. What do I mean by ‘mobile’? I am thinking of this and typing it while on the train so enjoy!

5 Tips For Using Silence As A Tool

1- It puts the pressure on the other party (meaning it’s not on you). By feeling the need to say something in order to break the silence will possibly get them to move away from their position, and give you insight on their interests.

newbies: remember, it is usually better to mediate/negotiate on interests compared to positions; it helps with expanding the pie and all that good stuff.

2- it let’s the other party continue speaking, which allows them the feeling of being heard (note, for this, silence should be combined with other tools like nodding, open-ended questions, etc.)

3- Silence tests how firm they are in the comment they just made. If they feel strong about it, they will repeat it.

4- it gives you time to think.

5- it helps you remain cool (heck, combine it with three breathes!) so you will respond, NOT react.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

(edited later to add color and change the font to ‘arial’ because everyone knows arial is much better than times new roman, right?)

Mediation & ADR News

February 25, 2009

New Foreclosure Mediation Costlier and Longer
Several bankers said the mandatory mediation program for home mortgage foreclosure lawsuits ordered Friday by the chief judge of the Treasure Coast court system could increase the cost and length of the cases.

…β€œI have mixed feelings about it. I understand what the reason is, but any time the judicial system or the government gets involved, I think it could be troublesome,” said Bill Pittenger, senior vice president at Seacoast National Bank in Stuart. β€œI hate to see anything interfere with the free market and we’ve seen a lot of that lately.”

Full article [here]

Activists Seek to End Street Violence

Ministers and community activists gathered Sunday at a spot a few steps away from where three teenagers were gunned down Friday afternoon in the South Chicago neighborhood.

“Violence is definitely a sickness. It’s a disease, and we need to start treating it like a disease,” he said. “I want youth to know that they can call CeaseFire before someone gets shot.”Hardiman said he can be reached at 773-391-9072 for mediation services. He hopes CeaseFire will be able to go into schools in the neighborhood to tell students they can call on CeaseFire to mediate conflicts.

Full article [here]

Swedish Diplomat Shares Insights on Conflict Resolution

BEIRUT: Swedish diplomat and long-time conflict negotiator Jan Eliasson shared his experiences and outlined a general plan for conflict resolution on his fourth trip to Lebanon during a lecture yesterday at the American University of Beirut dubbed, “Peace-Making Under the United Nations Flag: Reflection on a Quarter Century of Mediation.”
Eliasson, who served as Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for Darfur from 2007-2008 and worked extensively to secure peace during the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980s, said that effective resolutions must involve the right actors, be well-timed and take into account cultural and communicative aspects.

Full article [here]

India-Pak Don’t Need Chinese Mediation

I usually put just a tidbit of an article, then put a link to it, but the article is this short (really):

New Delhi: Union Minister of state for home Sri Prakash Jaiswal has assured that Pakistan will get the desired reply from India soon that will help the neighbouring country to successfully complete its probe in 26/11 terror attacks case.However, the minister refused any mediation from China. Talking to the reporters he said, ‘No mediator is required for solving issues between India and Pakistan and any kind of arbitration will not be tolerated.”India is capable of handing attacks,’ he further added.

Don’t believe me, see how short it is [here]

Sync Your Blackberry Contacts with Google
Not really mediation related or maybe? For those out there like me who constantly has their Blackberry at their side and use Gmail, this is a great new feature. You can now sync your contacts together, which for your Blackberry, it also serves as a way to back up your information on Gmail too.

Read it [here]

Owners no Jackasses, Keep Jackass Website!

February 24, 2009

Owners No Jackasses, Keeps Jackass Website

For those who remember, I posted about dispute resolution and the internet a few weeks back. I found this charm of a story and had to post it here:
The World Intellectual Property Organization has the thankless job of overseeing Internet domain name disputes, but few can have been as surreal as the just-concluded case brought by US media giant Viacom. The company sought control of from a “serial cyber-squatter” based in the Virgin Islands who was (and is) using the domain to show pay-per-click ads. When hauled before WIPO to explain himself, the owner insisted that it had taken six years in order to ready the “website about donkeys” that was actually planned for the domain.
WIPO panelist John Swinson, not being a jackass himself, recognized a load of donkey manure when he saw it, but he still
refused to hand the domain over to Viacom, which will have to settle for instead.
Full story [here]
In domain disputes, three key criteria must be proven by the contesting party:
1) Is the name identical or confusinlgy similar to a trademark of the contesting party?
2) Did the purchaser have any legitimate claim/interests to the title or subject of the domain name?3) Was the domain bought in bad faith?

God, Australia, Mediation“Social justice” and “solidarity” – those were two themes touched on with frequency and passion at the 9:00am mass at Saint Mary’s Church in South Brisbane on Sunday.
A colourful crowd of over 1,000 turned out for the morning mass to support Father Peter Kennedy, who was sacked by the Catholic Church for allegedly flouting church rules but defied the order by participating in mass.
…Archbishop Bathersby has called for mediation between Fr Kennedy and the Archdiocese, and says he is looking for a peaceful and dignified resolution of the current impasse.
Full Story [here]

Mediation For Internet Kiwi Pirates?
Are there even Pirates in New Zealand?
Movie and music industry bosses have pulled back from a hardline approach and are belatedly considering a plan for an independent mediator to oversee protracted complaints between them and telcos.
The idea is that a mediator will be a go-between in protracted internet piracy complaints where copyright holders claim an illegal download, but it is denied by ISP customers.
The mediator plan might ease the tense relationship between the hard-nosed Hollywood-led approach and telcos disgruntled about policing copyright holders’ property rights.

Full Story [here]

Unrest in Caribbean Has Roots in Slavery Past

February 23, 2009

Unrest in Caribbean Has Roots in Slavery Past

I read about this about a week ago and it stuck in my mind. So, when I saw it again on the homepage of Yahoo! News, I decided to write about it. An additional factor driving me to write about this is that as mediators and negotiators, we are always promoting ‘expanding the pie’. there are plenty of times I blog on ‘typical’ ADR and mediation news stories so why not expand the realm and mention this? Reading this story, there is a heap of built up anger, frustration, resentment and other emotions dating back over a century- yes a century, not years!

From the article:
POINTE-A-PITRE, Guadeloupe – Protests that have nearly shut down the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique are not just about demands for lower prices and higher wages: For demonstrators they are no less than a battle against the vestiges of slavery.
Afro-Caribbean islanders β€” most of whose forbears toiled in the sugarcane fields under the yoke of slavery more than 160 years ago β€” not only resent France’s handling of the global economic crisis, they have long resented that slaveholders’ descendants control the economy on both islands.
They also suspect that businesses earn too high a profit on goods, most of which are imported.

…The protests are “not a call for war, but for dignity…”

…Several islanders blame the arrival of 450 French riot police for the violence that has erupted during protests β€” and say it shows how France treats the islands like colonies.
Full article [here]

Where can mediation or negotiation fit in? Have there been any type of talks between the haves and have-nots? Is the arrival of the riot police seen as instigating an already powder-keg in the making?

Admittedly, my knowledge of the situation is limited but one route towards a possible peaceful solution is using The Third Side Model and exploring options that promote cooperative negotiation.

The Third Side is a book and concept created by William Ury (for sale [here] and many other places) which says in conflicts, there are roles for everyone. They are broken down to ten:
Bridge Builder
read more on them [here]

The good sign already coming out is the protest leaders and the French Government are already negotiating.

“Protest leaders and government officials are still negotiating to lower the costs of housing, gasoline, water and electricity.”

Hopefully dialogue will continue towards a peaceful resolution.

Blogging on the Go!

February 22, 2009

Yes, technology has made another advancement here at the Enjoy Mediation Blog. I am now able to post updates from my mobile phone.
If you are asking why, and who cares, so am I!
Now that we have that out of the way, think about all the great news that I can now post instantaneously…no I can’t think of anything at the moment either.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend and sleep easier tonight knowing my blogging has gone mobile.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

(note: the photo was added later)

Hillary Clinton: Currency Before Compassion?

February 21, 2009

Human Rights Second, Money First?
Is this the same direction that we thought the Obama Administration was going to head in? What happened to Conflict Resolution, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation as well as Negotiation? For those who thought the USA planned on pressing China on human rights issues, newly appointed Secretary of State and former First Lady, Hillary Clinton, said the following on her first to to Asia including China:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Amnesty International and a pro-Tibet group voiced shock Friday after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed not to let human rights concerns hinder cooperation with China.
Paying her first visit to Asia as the top US diplomat, Clinton said the United States would continue to press China on long-standing US concerns over human rights such as its rule over Tibet.
“But our pressing on those issues can’t interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis,” Clinton told reporters in Seoul just before leaving for Beijing. [full AP story here]

I did not expect humans rights to necessarily be the only factor and topic of discussion when she arrives on her first visit but to start things off with this comment?

Very surprising and confusing. Add to that the latest reports [here] of the Chinese military cracking down on Tibetans protesting and it is easy to get the impression that China will not have to worry about any substantial concerns from America.

Is negotiation as well as conflict resolution only good for getting deals done on the world economy? I hope somehow there is more to this story then what has been reported so far.
Edit: I did some research of her past comments in regards to China, and more specifically the unrest in Lhasa, Tibet and other areas of Spring 2008.
From Students for a Free Tibet: (March 2008)
I am deeply concerned about the violent clashes that have erupted in Lhasa, Tibet. Based on the limited information available, there is an urgent need for all parties, and in particular the Chinese security forces, to exercise restraint, to demonstrate respect for human rights and to protect civilians from danger. I call on the Chinese government to prevent further escalation of this conflict and to urgently pursue resolution through peaceful means.
On April 7th, CNN reported this:
Sen. Hillary Clinton called on President Bush Monday to boycott the opening of this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
In a statement released by her campaign Monday, the New York senator pointed to recent protests in Tibet; and to the Chinese government’s failure to pressure the government of Sudan to end the violence in Darfur.
“These events underscore why I believe the Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy towards China,” said Clinton.
President Obama had this to say on April 8th, 2008 (from ESPN)
“The Chinese government must take immediate steps to respect the dignity, security, human rights and religious freedom of the Tibetan people,” Obama said. “If they do not, there should be consequences.”

No Mediator… No Peace

February 20, 2009

The NYU ‘Siege” is Now Over

The student takeover of the Kimmel Student Center Cafeteria has ended with:

1) no demands met
2) no negotiations
3) an injured security guard
4) 1 arrest for disorderly conduct
5) multiple suspensions of NYU students involved

The overall media coverage and editorials have really sided against the protesters. An example is the NY Post [here]

“With the kids’ human rights indulged, they unfurled a dizzying list of 13 demands, which ran the gamut from lower tuition, to NYU pulling out investments in Israel, to giving freebies to Palestinian students. But their No. 1 demand was this: “Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation.”

A recap of the event is [here] and local channel WCBS has a heap of videos (right side of the page) is [here].
No mediation or outside negotiators were brought in. The way the communication was handled (it seems) was the protesters submitted their demands via paper and through lower level school staff; The higher-level administration then met and discussed the situation and ultimately the only real offer from the school was for the ‘siege’ to end immediately and then the leaders could meet with school officials. That was quickly turned down.

From some reports, it all ended when the school asked to speak with the leaders of the group outside of the occupied area. Once out, they were then told there was going to be no negotiating but rather they were told they were now suspended. Security, whom I believe have peace officer status, then removed the remaining protesters.

Local school web-paper NYU Local cover the event (very nicely too) [here]

Finally, and oddly enough, it seems they passed time by dancing the night away. This picture seems to prove it [here]

Finally, [here] were the demands of the occupiers.

New York University Under Siege

February 19, 2009

NYU Under Siege!

Well, the Kimmel Cafeteria is at least. This is still a developing story, so I will post more on it tomorrow. If you are interested, there is a blog posting updates every few minutes [here]

NY Times first broke the story [here]

From CBS:
AP) Dozens of students have barricaded themselves inside of New York University‘s student union cafeteria to demand increased transparency of the school’s finances. The protest began about 10 p.m. Wednesday when students from various city universities gathered inside the cafeteria of the Helen & Martin Kimmel Center for University Life. Members of the coalition called Take Back NYU! pushed tables and chairs against the doors. A supporter said about 60 students were involved.
An open letter by a fellow student criticizing the ‘takeover’ [here]
“It is peculiarly ironic that a group of students who (presumably) oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine choose occupation as their method of communication and conflict-resolution last night.
It is even more confusing to me that my peers, so dedicated to their activist lifestyles, did not enlist the most necessary tactics of activism in their demonstration yesterday evening. Take Back NYU – I am asking you for self-reflection. Do you think occupation is effective? Or have you merely hosted a publicity stunt void of accomplishment? As a fellow student activist who believes in your ability to make a difference, I write to you asking for clarification, transparency, solidarity, and sincerity.”

Russia, Mediators, Georgia, Smiles All Around
Russia and Georgia have agreed on a mechanism to try to prevent any flareups around the breakaway South Ossetia region from turning into full-scale clashes, international mediators said on Wednesday.
The mediators hailed the accord as an important step forward in efforts to reduce tensions in the area, which sparked a brief but devastating war between the two last August, but diplomats warned that it needed to be tested on the ground.

International Herald Trbune article [here]

New Mediation Program Started In Kansas
In order to increase efficiency and resolve conflicts between consumers and businesses, Attorney General Steve Six today unveiled his new Consumer Mediation Program. It was developed to work though common consumer problems and obtain refunds and restitution without the need for legal action.
“Through my new Mediation Program, we can return money to consumers without stepping foot in a courtroom,” Six said. “This program will help us efficiently assist Kansas consumers while saving on the cost of expensive litigation.”

Full story [here]

Mediator Credited With Settling Fire Department Contract Dispute
OLEAN – The city of Olean and its 36 firefighters have a tentative agreement on a new contract after about two years of negotiations.Mayor David Carucci and Capt. James Bennett, president of the Olean Professional Firefighters Association, announced Tuesday afternoon that the two sides have reached a deal, but neither would comment on the specifics until the new contract is ratified by the association and Common Council.
The two sides met with a mediator from the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) Tuesday for the second time and reached an agreement, avoiding arbitration.

Full story [here]

Police to Nudge You to Mediation!

February 18, 2009

Singapore Police To Nudge People Towards Mediation

Hey, ‘nudging’ is better than dragging and macing someone into mediation, right? And if they refuse such a nudge? Well, it can be held against them if it the matter goes to court. Unfortunately the article does not clarify what that means.

This ‘nudging’ program started in 1998 and each year it has seen the caseload increase sixfold.

Read the short article [here]

Federal Mediators In Texas Town
PARIS, Tex. β€” The killing of Brandon McClelland, though horrible, never fit the classic description of a lynching. The police say two friends ran him over with a pickup truck after an argument during a night of drinking.
But Mr. McClelland was black and the men accused of killing him are white, and his gruesome death has reignited ugly feelings between races that have plagued this small town for generations, going back to the days 100 years ago when it was the scene of brutal public lynchings…
Still, the suspicions and ill will have grown so strong that the federal Department of Justice has dispatched a team of mediators to get residents to begin talking about the problem and to propose possible resolutions.
Last month, about 100 people of all races went to a building on the fairgrounds to vent their frustrations, while federal mediators took notes and tried to keep the peace.

Full article [here]

Faith Based Mediation Going Strong- Over 20 Years In Indiana
NORTH MANCHESTER – Education for Conflict Resolution began in 1989, organized by local residents interested in making their community a better place to live.And 20 years later, ECR is still going strong.
It was started through the Church and Community Project board, consisting primarily of North Manchester community leaders, which first organized in 1987. With a three-year Lily Endowment, the board was looking for a worthwhile project…

…β€œECR has three primary services,” Duffy said. β€œThey are Community Mediation, Training (team building, conflict resolution), and our Resource Materials.”
Full article [here]