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Monthly Archives: November 2013

JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending November 29th, 2013

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THIS WEEK”S SUMMARY
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JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT UPSET AT T&T DENIAL OF ENTRY TO JAMAICANS—11/23/13
The government of Jamaica has notified Trinidad and Tobago about its concern that a “significant number” of Jamaican citizens have been denied entry to the eastern Caribbean country. The most recent incident involved 12 Jamaicans turned back at Piarco International Airport in Port-of-Spain.

CRIMINALS DEMAND PROTECTION MONEY FROM WINDSCREEN CLEANERS—11/24/13
Young boys in the Corporate Area are being forced by criminals to work in groups as windscreen cleaners at busy traffic intersections. They must turn over the money they make to the thugs as protection money. Some of the boys are as young as seven years of age. The gunmen who make the demands have control over the community, providing little recourse to help for the children who live there.

TEACHER STARTS CAMPAIGN TO BOYCOTT PRODUCTS FROM T&T—11/25/13
Kesreen Green Dillon, a rural primary school teacher, has initiated Facebook campaign to urge Jamaicans to boycott products imported from Trinidad and Tobago in protest of that country’s treatment of Jamaican citizens. In addition to local consumers who are eager to join the boycott, the Parliamentary Opposition is also ready to express its concerns about the allegations that T&T is flouting the free-movement provisions of the Treaty of Chaguaramas.

JAMAICA TO LAUNCH DEBATE ON CARIBBEAN COURT OF JUSTICE—11/26/13
The Parliament of Jamaica is poised to debate the country’s potential accession to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). According to Minister Phillip Paulwell, the House of Representatives will start debate on two bills, one to amend the Judicature Act and the other to amend the Constitution of Jamaica. Currently, Jamaica sends all final appeals to the Privy Council in London; three Caribbean nations send appeals to the CCJ, which is based in Port-of-Spain. Most Caribbean countries want to move appellate jurisdiction to the CCJ.

AFTER A DECADE, “EAT JAMAICAN” CAMPAIGN BRINGS MINIMAL CHANGE—11/27/13
Jamaica has still not achieved its desired level of food security after ten years of the Eat Jamaican campaign, which was intended to stimulate the production and consumption of local agriculture products. According to Dr. Jerome Thomas, the representative of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to Jamaica, some progress has been made, but significantly greater production and consumption of local foods is needed to improve the living standards of the poor in a sustainable manner.

FOUR JAMAICAN POLICE CHARGED WITH FATAL SHOOTING OF PASTOR—11/27/13
Four Jamaican police officers are facing charges relating to the fatal shooting of Trevor Edwards, a pastor, while he was in a taxi in Kingston in 2010. Two male and two female officers have pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying that Edwards was one of several gunmen who fired upon them. Witness accounts dispute the officers’ story, however.

INVITATION TO TALKS ABOUT IMMIGRATION ISSUES ACCEPTED BY TRINIDAD—11/28/13
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar of Trinidad has accepted an invitation from Jamaica to discuss issues relating to the deportation of Jamaican nationals from Trinidad and Tobago. The Prime Minister said she has advised Winston Dookeran, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to accept the invitation to travel to Kingston for the talks.

PARLIAMENT SPLIT ON PROPOSAL TO CRIMINALIZE SONGS THAT INCITE VIOLENCE—11/29/13
Jamaica’s Parliament is divided over a controversial proposal that would criminalize the production and/or singing of songs that incite violence against police, informers, gays, or other groups. According to Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding, the proposal, Clause 15, as it now reads, is not relevant to the issue of criminal gangs. As worded, Clause 15 addresses the production of cultural material to facilitate criminal activity of a criminal organization, but Golding says it is really focused on using songs to encourage violence against informants and police. Olivia Grange, committee member, believes Clause 15 should be deleted, noting that the Broadcasting Commission and other entities could address this issue.

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JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
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UK FOUNDATION FOCUSES ON CARIBBEAN ECONOMY—11/23/13
The British Foundation for the University of the West indies (BFUWI), together with University College London’s Institute of the Americas, will host a discussion entitled “Beyond Remittances and Tourism: What Future for the Caribbean Economy” in London on December 5, 2013. Discussions will cover potential actions, taking into account the declining economic growth from tourism, increasing debt, and debilitating social issues. Participating in the discussions will be Professor Victor Bulmer-Thomas, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of London; Dr Vindelyn Smith-Hillman, Jamaican Economist, Economic Adviser, Law Commission and Alan Smith, Global Head of Risk Strategy & Chief of Staff Global Risk, HSBC Holdings and alumnus of UWI.

JAMAICA ELECTED TO WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE OF UNESCO—11/25/13
Jamaica has been selected to fill a seat on the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, the first time the island nation has been elected to do so. Jamaica received more votes that Angola to the committee, which decides if a property is listed on the World Heritage List. Lisa Hanna, Jamaica’s Minister of Youth and Culture, led the lobby supporting the nation’s candidacy. Hanna said the vote was historic and would bring benefits to Jamaica in the future by protecting and promoting its heritage.

JMA CALLS FOR JAMAICA, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO TO TAKE QUICK ACTION—11/28/13
Brian Pengelley, the president of the Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA), is asking the governments of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago to act quickly to stem the effects of the boycott of T&T products. Members of the Jamaican Diaspora in the United States and the United Kingdom have joined in the boycott, and while he recognizes the rights of consumers to boycott T&T in response to that country’s denial of entry to Jamaica citizens, the JMA does not believe this is the correct response at this time.

JAMAICAN-BORN LECTURER IN LONDON SUSPENDED—11/29/13
Dr. Mark Walcott, 52, a Jamaican-born lecturer at Newham College in London has been suspended due to homophobic remarks he made during a discussion in a staffroom that was secretly recorded. Walcott allegedly compared gay teachers to the Ku Klux Klan and said they wanted to convert their pupils to “gayism.” Walcott was the head of the dance and drama department at the college and is a part-time psychotherapist.
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CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
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244 HAITIANS EXPELLED BY DOMINCAN GOVERNMENT AFTER BORDER KILLINGS—11/24/13

VIOLENCE AGAINST CARIBBEAN WOMEN A CONCERN FROM OAS—11/25/13

COURT RULING IN DOMINCAN REPUBLIC REJECTED BY SEVERAL NATIONS—11/26/13

TALKS BETWEEN HAITI, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC END AFTER COURT RULING—11/27/13

GUYANA BLACKLISTED BY FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE—11/28/13

CARIBBEAN NATIONS WANT TAIWAN INCLUDED IN GLOBAL CLIMATE TALKS—11/29/13

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BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
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PRIVATE SECTOR INITIATIVE TO IMPROVE TRADE WITH U.S.—11/23/13
The Services of the Caribbean (SOCA) organization will focus its energy on promoting new trade and investment opportunities between the service sectors and industries in the United States and CARICOM countries. The United States Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI-CBERA) is being enhanced by the new SOCA and led by the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica and the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI).

US$16 BILLION IN DEVELOPMENT AID FROM JAPAN QUESTIONED—11/24/13
A negotiator from the Caribbean has questioned the intentions of Japan in making an announcement of a US$16 billion investment in aid to developing countries just days after it announced a reduction in its target for carbon emissions. The negotiator, who remains unnamed, asked whether the money is separate from the usual development aid provided by Japan.

HEAD OF SUGAR ORGANIZATION SHOCKED AT IMPORTS IN JAMAICA—11/25/13
Peter Baron, the executive director of the International Sugar Organization, was surprised to find that the sugar he used at breakfast in Jamaica had come from Brazil. Baron was in Jamaica participating in a general meeting of the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers Association. He wondered why the sugar packets he used contained brown sugar from Brazil and refined sugar from Guatemala, instead of local Jamaican sugar. Sugar from those two nations is shipped to Jamaica, unpacked, and then repackaged. Baron called the situation “absurd.”

JAMAICA, SINGAPORE SIGN OPEN SKIES AGREEMENT—11/26/13
An open skies agreement has been signed by Jamaica and Singapore. The governments of the two countries have agreed to allow selected airlines to fly between them without limitations on the number of flights, capacity of aircraft, or type of plane. The agreement means greater potential for transportation, tourism, and commerce between the nations.

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Caribbean Science and Technology News provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
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FISHERIES GROUP URGES REJECTION OF QUEEN CONCH PETITION—11/23/13

SMALL DEVELOPING ISLAND STATES ARE KEY IN CLIMATE DISCUSSIONS—11/25/13

GENETIC RESEARCH IN CARIBBEAN ADDS TO HUMAN HISTORY—11/26/13

JAMAICA’S MINISTRY OF HEALTH ADOPTS FREE, OPEN SOURCE SYSTEM—11/28/13

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ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
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REALITY TV SERIES TO STAR “CARIBBEAN WIVES”—11/23/13
Tulloch Media Communications, which is based in the United States, premiered the first episode of its new reality series “Caribbean Wives of South Florida.” It features women as family matriarchs who balance their marriages, careers, and living the American Dream. The company says the show will display the culture of the Caribbean region.

MC CHITA MAKES FOURTH ALBUM—11/24/13
On December 3, 2013, MC Chita, also known as Chitarisiro Chiketa, a hip-hop musician based in Jamaica, will launch his fourth album. The album is called “Red, Gold, and Green.” The musician worked with producers from Jamaica and Zimbabwe to make the album.

GREAT EXPECTATONS FOR TESSANNE—11/25/13
Jamaican singer Tessanne Chin is among the final eight contestants on the U.S. television show “The Voice.” She is pursuing her goal of being in the final six singers. Chin, 28, has been a sensation since her first appearance on the program, and suspense is growing about her chances at winning the competition.

STARS ANNOUNCED FOR 2013 CULTURE REGGAE FEST—11/26/13
On November 30, 2013, Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain will host the inaugural 2013 Culture Reggae Fest. It is expected to be one of the top reggae events of the year and will feature a large number of major Jamaican singers. Included in the lineup is Luciano, who is known for his inspirational songs like It’s Me Again Jah.”

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SPORTS
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JAMAICAN RELAYS AMONG BEST OF LATIN AMERICA SPORTS—11/23/13
Jamaican male and female 4×100-meter relay teams won world titles at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow in 2013. This achievement allows them standing to win the Annual Survey of Prensa Latina, confirming their rank as the pre-competition favorites. The teams are led by Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who raised Jamaica to third place in overall medals at the event.

ENTIRE JAMAICAN ANTI-DOPING BOARD RESIGNS—11/24/13
The entire board of the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (JADC) resigned as a result of the drug-testing crisis, which claimed that athletes in Jamaica have not been required to take sufficiently rigorous tests. Natalie Neita-Headley, Jamaican Sports Minister, said the government respects the decision of the 11 JADCO commissioners.

PALMER ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT FROM FOOTBALL—11/25/13
Lovel Palmer, who was excluded from the Jamaican squad for the final round of the World Cup qualifiers, has decided to retire from international football. Palmer is 29 years of age. He said he did not know why he was not included in the squad and said he was “shocked” at not being called up for the hexagonal stage.

MORE MONEY, GREATER PARTICIPATION FOR JN OPEN AMATEUR TENNIS—11/28/13
The fifth staging of the JN Open Amateur Tennis Championships in Jamaica are set to be better funded, with higher monetary prizes, more participants, and a new category. The tournament begins on November 30, 2013, at the Liquanea Club. Forty-eight people have registered to participate and aim for $150,000 in prize money. Twelve women will compete in the Ladies Open for prizes of $50,000.

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JAMAICAN JOBS
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Clerical Assistant – Details Here

Hospitality Professionals – Details Here

Project Manager – Details Here

Graphic and Motion Designer – Details Here

EPA and CSME Implementation Consultant – Details Here
Visit JAMAICAN JOBS.

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CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending November 29th, 2013

244 HAITIANS EXPELLED BY DOMINCAN GOVERNMENT AFTER BORDER KILLINGS—11/24/13
The government of the Dominican Republic expelled at least 244 individuals from Haiti after the stabbing deaths of a Dominican couple in an apparent burglary close to the border between the two countries. A mob retaliated for the killings by murdering a man from Haiti. A group of Haitians living in the area sought refuge at a Dominican police station, but police handed them over to soldiers who took them across the border, expelling them from the country.
VIOLENCE AGAINST CARIBBEAN WOMEN A CONCERN FROM OAS—11/25/13
According to Jose Miguel Insulza, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), violence against women represents one of the biggest challenges facing the Caribbean and Latin America. He made his remarks at the opening of the Fifth Conference of States Parties of the Belem do Para Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women.

COURT RULING IN DOMINCAN REPUBLIC REJECTED BY SEVERAL NATIONS—11/26/13
A ruling from the Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic has been rejected by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The court’s ruling had made many thousands of individuals with Haitian ancestry into stateless people. The OECS issued a press release to express their opposition to the ruling, describing the court’s decision as “revolting and discriminatory.” The group also called from CARICOM to suspend any consideration of an application from the Dominican Republic for membership in the organization.

TALKS BETWEEN HAITI, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC END AFTER COURT RULING—11/27/13
Talks with Haiti were ended by the Dominican Republic after a Dominican court ruling aimed at stripping citizenship of over 200,000 Haitian migrants, many of them born in the Dominican Republic. The nation also recalled its ambassador from Haiti for consultations. The two countries were having discussions mediated by the government of Venezuela to resolve their differences.

GUYANA BLACKLISTED BY FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE—11/28/13
The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) blacklisted Guyana after the country did not approve legislation designed to fight money laundering and counter terrorism financing. CTAFT stated that it had developed an action plan with Guyana aimed at the “expeditious rectification of the identified strategic deficiencies,” but Guyana had not met the agreed-upon timelines.

CARIBBEAN NATIONS WANT TAIWAN INCLUDED IN GLOBAL CLIMATE TALKS—11/29/13
CARICOM member nations that are allied with Taiwan want the Asian nation to be included in discussions about global climate issues as an observer. China believes Taiwan is a “renegade province” and has kept the country from being included in a number of United Nations agencies.

AFTER A DECADE, “EAT JAMAICAN” CAMPAIGN BRINGS MINIMAL CHANGE—11/27/13
Jamaica has still not achieved its desired level of food security after ten years of the Eat Jamaican campaign, which was intended to stimulate the production and consumption of local agriculture products. According to Dr. Jerome Thomas, the representative of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to Jamaica, some progress has been made, but significantly greater production and consumption of local foods is needed to improve the living standards of the poor in a sustainable manner.

FOUR JAMAICAN POLICE CHARGED WITH FATAL SHOOTING OF PASTOR—11/27/13
Four Jamaican police officers are facing charges relating to the fatal shooting of Trevor Edwards, a pastor, while he was in a taxi in Kingston in 2010. Two male and two female officers have pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying that Edwards was one of several gunmen who fired upon them. Witness accounts dispute the officers’ story, however.

INVITATION TO TALKS ABOUT IMMIGRATION ISSUES ACCEPTED BY TRINIDAD—11/28/13
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar of Trinidad has accepted an invitation from Jamaica to discuss issues relating to the deportation of Jamaican nationals from Trinidad and Tobago. The Prime Minister said she has advised Winston Dookeran, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to accept the invitation to travel to Kingston for the talks.

PARLIAMENT SPLIT ON PROPOSAL TO CRIMINALIZE SONGS THAT INCITE VIOLENCE—11/29/13
Jamaica’s Parliament is divided over a controversial proposal that would criminalize the production and/or singing of songs that incite violence against police, informers, gays, or other groups. According to Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding, the proposal, Clause 15, as it now reads, is not relevant to the issue of criminal gangs. As worded, Clause 15 addresses the production of cultural material to facilitate criminal activity of a criminal organization, but Golding says it is really focused on using songs to encourage violence against informants and police. Olivia Grange, committee member, believes Clause 15 should be deleted, noting that the Broadcasting Commission and other entities could address this issue.

 

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CARIBBEAN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending November 29th, 2013

FISHERIES GROUP URGES REJECTION OF QUEEN CONCH PETITION—11/23/13
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) has asked the United-States CARICOM Council on Trade and Investment to reject a petition from an environmental group to list the Queen Conch as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of the U.S. Opposition to the petition is based on what the CRFM believes is unreliable and obsolete information used by the environmental group. If the Queen Conch is listed as endangered, it would mean major economic hardships for many fishing communities in the Caribbean.

SMALL DEVELOPING ISLAND STATES ARE KEY IN CLIMATE DISCUSSIONS—11/25/13
According to Rodney Charles, Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador to the United Nations, small island developing states, or SIDS, are seen as the “conscience of the planet” at UN global climate discussions. Charles says it is the job of SIDS to remind other nations about the consequences of not taking action to mitigate the effects of climate change.

GENETIC RESEARCH IN CARIBBEAN ADDS TO HUMAN HISTORY—11/26/13
DNA sampling and analysis are central to the Genographic Project, which has been operating since 2005. Scientists from 11 regional research areas are gathering and analyzing genetic information from local populations around the world.  The Caribbean region is of particular interest because it is a place where distinct continental groups of people meet geographically. Islands that bridge South, Central and North America are excellent resources for anthropologists because of their rich histories and diverse, convergent cultures.

JAMAICA’S MINISTRY OF HEALTH ADOPTS FREE, OPEN SOURCE SYSTEM—11/28/13
The Ministry of Health in Jamaica has cooperated with GNU Health to implement a free health and hospital information system in its public health system. Jamaica is the first country to use the GNU Health system nationwide. The implementation requires integration of data from all the regions and health care departments around the country and involves cooperation among programmers, system administrators, health records personnel, doctors, nurses, and other

 

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The Dirty Secret of Black Friday ‘Discounts’

How Retailers Concoct ‘Bargains’ for the Holidays and Beyond

By

SUZANNE KAPNER


With Black Friday approaching, we explain how retail discounts generally aren’t discounts at all — they are priced into it from the beginning. Suzanne Kapner reports on the News Hub. Photo: Getty Images.

When shoppers head out in search of Black Friday bargains this week, they won’t just be going to the mall, they’ll be witnessing retail theater.

Stores will be pulling out the stops on deep discounts aimed at drawing customers into stores. But retail-industry veterans acknowledge that, in many cases, those bargains will be a carefully engineered illusion.

The common assumption is that retailers stock up on goods and then mark down the ones that don’t sell, taking a hit to their profits. But that isn’t typically how it plays out. Instead, big retailers work backward with their suppliers to set starting prices that, after all the markdowns, will yield the profit margins they want.

The red cardigan sweater with the ruffled neck on sale for more than 40% off at $39.99 was never meant to sell at its $68 starting price. It was designed with the discount built in.

Buyers don’t seem to mind. What they are after, especially in such a lackluster economy, is the feeling they got a deal. Retailers like J.C. Penney Co. JCP +2.34%who try to get out of the game get punished.

“I don’t even get excited unless it’s 40% off,” said Lourdes Torress, a 44-year-old technical designer, as she browsed the sale racks at Macy’s Inc.’s flagship store in New York on a recent afternoon.

The manufactured nature of most discounts raises questions about the wisdom of standing in line for the promotional frenzy that kicks off the holiday shopping season. It also explains how retailers have been able to ramp up the bargains without giving away the store.

The number of deals offered by 31 major department store and apparel retailers increased 63% between 2009 to 2012, and the average discount jumped to 36% from 25%, according to Savings.com, a website that tracks online coupons.

Over the same period, the gross margins of the same retailers—the difference between what they paid for goods and the price at which they sold them—were flat at 27.9%, according to FactSet. The holidays barely made a dent, with margins dipping to 27.8% in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 28% in the third quarter of that year.

Customer discounts are way up. But retailers’ profit margins are flat. Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal

“A lot of the discount is already priced into the product. That’s why you see much more stable margins,” said Liz Dunn, an analyst with Macquarie Equities Research.

Retailers including Best Buy Co.BBY 0.00% , Wal-Mart Stores Inc.WMT 0.00% and Macy’s are warning this will be an unusually competitive holiday season and that all the deals could hurt margins. That can happen when chains have to fight hard for sales or get stuck with excess inventory and have to take heavier-than-planned markdowns. Stores also field loss leaders, true bargains that pinch profits but are aimed at getting customers into their stores. Most deals, however, are planned to be profitable by setting list prices well above where goods are actually expected to sell.

Retailers could run into legal trouble if they never try to sell goods at their starting price. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with the practice. Companies can be pretty frank about how things work.

Penney, which made a disastrous attempt to move away from discounts under formerApple Inc. AAPL +1.58% executive Ron Johnson, is again playing the standard discount game under new CEO Myron “Mike” Ullman. But first it has to adjust its prices.

“We must and will compete to win,” Mr. Ullman said last week on a conference call with analysts. “That means initially marking up our goods to sufficient levels to protect our margins when the discount or sale is applied.”

Here’s how it works, according to one industry consultant describing an actual sweater sold at a major retailer. A supplier sells the sweater to a retailer for roughly $14.50. The suggested retail price is $50, which gives the retailer a roughly 70% markup. A few sweaters sell at that price, but more sell at the first markdown of $44.99, and the bulk sell at the final discount price of $21.99. That produces an average unit retail price of $28 and gives the store about a 45% gross margin on the product.

Retailers didn’t always price this way. It used to be that most items were sold at full price, with a limited number of sales to clear unsold inventory. That began to change in the 1970s and 1980s, when a rash of store openings intensified competition and forced retailers to look for new ways to stand out.

Most deals are planned to be profitable by setting list prices high. Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal

Enter high-low pricing, a strategy designed to create excitement and lure shoppers by dropping prices for occasional sales. Initially, retailers practiced this strategy with restraint. At Mervyn’s, a department-store chain that has since gone out of business, discounted items couldn’t exceed 30% of total sales, said Mark Cohen, a professor at the Columbia Business School who worked at the company and has held other retail posts including CEO of Sears Canada Inc.SCC.T -0.05%

But the floodgates have opened. In a 2012 presentation, Mr. Johnson, then still Penney’s CEO, said the company was selling fewer than one out of every 500 items at full price. Customers were receiving an average discount of 60%, up from 38% a decade earlier. The twist is they weren’t saving more. In fact, the average price paid by customers stayed about the same over that period. What changed was the initial price, which increased by 33%.

“The silliness of it all is that the original price from which the discount is computed is often specious to begin with, because items hardly ever sell at that price, which makes the discount less legitimate,” Columbia’s Mr. Cohen said.

Can’t wait until after Thanksgiving dinner to find all the great shopping deals on offer? MarketWatch’s Jim Jelter shares the best tips and apps for scouting out the sales.

The rise of e-commerce has made it possible to track pricing on the Web and see how much time products spend at their list prices. Amazon.com Inc. AMZN +1.05%is featuring a Samsung 005930.SE +0.96%60-inch HDTV in its 2013 Holiday Gift Guide. The TV is selling at a 45% discount to its list price of $1,799.99. But, according to Decide.com, a price-tracking firm owned by eBay Inc., the TV hasn’t sold for anywhere near the list price in months. The most it has sold for in the past eight months is $1,297.85, according to Decide.com. As recently as October, it was priced at $997.99, about the same as its current sale price.

An Amazon spokeswoman said that “showing the most ‘recent’ price can be somewhat arbitrary and could be confusing to our customers,” since the retailer changes prices so frequently in an effort to provide the best deals.

Another tactic involves raising selling prices ahead of the holidays before the discounts kick in. In an analysis for The Wall Street Journal, price-tracking firm Market Track LLC looked at the online price fluctuations of 1,743 products in November 2012. Prices climbed an average of 8% in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving for 366, or about a fifth, of the products; the items were then discounted on Black Friday. Toys and tools had the biggest pre-Black Friday price increases—about 23%.

Mr. Johnson lost his job after he abandoned the discount system abruptly in favor of everyday low prices and sales plunged. But retail executives said he hit on an important insight, that prices had lost their integrity.

Retailers are supposed to offer items at regular prices “for a reasonably substantial period of time” before marking them down, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Cynthia Spann is suing Penney over what she says are phantom discounts. She bought three blouses at 40% off the regular price of $30 in March 2011, according to her complaint. But instead of $30, the prevailing price for the blouses in the three months preceding her purchase was $17.99—exactly the same as the sale price she paid, the lawsuit alleges. Ms. Spann said in the complaint that she wouldn’t have bought the blouses if she had known the discount wasn’t real.

Through her lawyer, Ms. Spann declined to be interviewed.

A spokeswoman for Penney declined to comment on the litigation, but said the retailer’s policy is to sell all items at their original price for a reasonable period of time before putting them on sale.

Similar cases are pending against Kohl’s Corp. and Jos A. Bank Clothiers Inc. A Kohl’s spokeswoman didn’t reply to requests for comment. In its most recent quarterly filing, the company said the legal proceedings it faces likely won’t have a material effect. A Jos A. Bank spokesman declined to comment on the pending litigation or the company’s pricing strategy, but said two other lawsuits making similar claims were dismissed earlier this year.

Retailers, having trained customers to shop for deals, are stuck with the strategy for now. Macy’s tried to cut back on coupons in 2007.

“Customers stopped shopping,” said Chief Executive Terry Lundgren, “so we knew that was a bad idea.”

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in African American News

 

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8 Foods You’ve Been Eating All Wrong

IMAGE CREDIT:
FOODBEASTTV

You think you know how to eat an apple, but you’re wrong. Last week, FoodBeast posted a video called “How to Eat an Apple Like a Boss” that went viral. The clip shows that rather than eating an apple from the outside in to the core—which wastes approximately 30 percent of the fruit—people should eat it from the top down. The core simply disappears, allowing for 100 percent consumption of the apple. And apples aren’t the only food you’re eating wrong. Here are eight others.

1. PANCAKES

 

[Image via @OMGLifeHacks]

Drowning your pancakes in syrup is inefficient: The top pancake will be completely soggy, while the middle pancakes are totally dry. The solution: Carve a hole in the middle of your stack before pouring any syrup, which will then distribute more evenly through your pancakes.

2. PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICHES

 

[Image credit: Reddit user ChickenMcFail, via lifehacker]

If you’ve eaten a PB&J, you’ve also probably had a dollop of jelly seep out and land on your table or clothes. But there’s a better way to construct this staple sandwich that stops messy drips: Simply fence the jelly in with peanut butter. Spread as much peanut butter as your heart desires on two slices of bread, then create a taller border with peanut butter on both sides. On one slice, put the jelly in the hole that the border creates, then complete your sandwich.

3. ORANGES

 

[Image credit: JewelPie]

If you have a knife handy, opening oranges doesn’t have to be a hassle. Cut small slices off the top and bottom of the orange. Then, cut a slit in the side of the orange. The orange should unroll, leaving a nice row of slices.

4. POMEGRANATES

 

[Image credit: Food Wishes]

This fruit is way less difficult to seed if you use a bowl of water. First, cut the fruit in half. Then, submerge the fruit in cold water and pull the fruit apart, releasing the seeds with minimal mess. The unwanted membrane, which holds the seeds, will even rise to the top of the water.

5. PISTACHIOS

 

[Image credit: Thinkstock]

Never break a nail trying to open a sealed pistachio again—just use another pistachio shell toseparate the nut that’s hard to crack.

6. CUPCAKES

 

[Image credit: Katy Brown/Mommy Mishmash]

Think there’s no way to eat a cupcake without getting frosting on your nose? Think again. Get rid of that pesky wrapper, slice about half of the bottom off the cupcake, then make a frosting sandwich out of the two slices. With that delicious gob of frosting safely in between two pieces of cake, the odds of frosting all over your face will be minimized. A fork might also solve this problem, but it’s way less fun.

7. HARD-SHELL TACOS

 

[Image credit: Curry and Comfort]

Hard-shell tacos tend to fall apart, leaving too many meat and cheese casualties. Butwrapping a tortilla around the taco will help. The food that would normally just fall will be caught by the protective tortilla. You can make this more binding with a layer of refried beans in between the tortilla and the taco shell.

8. BANANAS

 

[Image credit: Crazy Bananas]

Most people start peeling from the end with the longer stem. But if you peel from the bottom, it will be easier and the banana will contain less stringy pieces. This is also the way that monkeys open their bananas, so you know it’s right.

 

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in African American News

 

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Fighting African Energy Poverty Without Serious Harm to the Environment

 

designspiration.net

Romy Chevallier

There are 589 million Africans living without access to modern forms of power. Access to reliable energy is directly linked to economic development and improved livelihoods. In fact, the achievement of nearly all human development goals is dependent upon modern energy access. It powers schools, hospitals, businesses and livelihoods and the lack of it can also disproportionately impact women and girls. In many places in Africa, women and girls are forced to spend hours each day finding firewood, one of the main reasons for the absences of girls in schools, and the lack of evening lighting in certain areas puts women at greater risk of attack or rape.

There is no simple response to the development dilemma of providing increased energy access to the poorest, particularly in light of impending threats of climate change and increasing international pressure for all countries to reduce their overall global carbon emissions. However, climate change concerns must be equitably balanced with the need to address Africa’s immediate energy poverty needs.

The UN definition of ‘sustainable energy’ is energy that is produced and used in ways that will support long-term human development in all of its social, economic and environmental dimensions. Balancing these equally important objectives is the key to finding a long-term sustainable energy solution for Africa. There is a need to urgently reconcile both human development energy needs while maintaining and upholding the need for environmental integrity and climate change mitigation.

In Africa, responses will need to be defined by nationally appropriate commitments, aligned with national circumstances and capabilities. In the short-term, at least for the poorest and least emitting countries, this means responses will include a mixture of renewable and non-renewable solutions.

A call for the poorest African countries to refrain entirely from fossil fuel use in their immediate future is, in my perspective, unfair and divorced from the reality on the ground. It is important to recognize the need of African countries to access and make use of their own natural resources, to primarily focus on the growth and empowerment of their own populations first. For one thing, there are approximately 14 million additional sub-Saharan Africans entering the workforce every year who need jobs and government leaders face an increasing political imperative to address the energy-related constraints for their growing populations. Businesses in Africa cite unreliable power as their major growth constraint. It is therefore imperative that governments act using resources that are cost effective and readily available to address this important obstacle to private sector development — a key driver for job creation and sub-Saharan Africa’s inclusive growth.

Also, there is a need to take into account climate justice and equity. We all recognize there is a strong need to dramatically scale up renewables in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly for some of the larger more polluting countries. However it is also important to recognize that sub-Saharan Africa comprises 12.5 percent of the world’s population, but it is currently responsible for less than 3 percent of global emissions. Indeed the majority of sub-Saharan African countries have per capita CO2 emissions of less than 1 percent of a United States’ citizen. Even if the 589 million sub-Saharan Africans living without electricity got basic levels of access to modern energy, estimates show that it would only raise global emissions by 1 percent. From this it is clear that in the short-term the climate crisis is not going to be solved by unfairly impeding these poorest least emitting African nations from providing necessary power mixes as they see fit.

President Obama’s Power Africa and Congress’ Electrify Africa Act are two initiatives aimed at tackling energy poverty by empowering the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to mobilize private capital for energy projects. These U.S.-led proposals offer some solutions that can help bring power to millions of people without any significant harm to the environment.

In doing this, while these U.S.-led initiatives aim to positively increase renewable energy investments in Africa, it is important that this is also balanced with a scaling-up of traditional grid investment. As poverty-fighting groups like The ONE Campaign have pointed out, in the necessary scale-up of investment needed to address the African energy need, it is essential to ensure that OPIC has an appropriately flexible carbon cap for the poorest, least emitting nations. The agency’s current ‘one-size-fits-all’ limit on total fossil fuel emissions can have the unintended consequence of limiting development and harming poverty alleviation efforts in some of the world’s most impoverished and lowest emitting nations.

Africans need to make use of their own broad array of natural resources in order to unlock their economic growth potential and reduce their dependency on imported energy sources. Investment in energy infrastructure, both renewable and non-renewable, is urgently needed for the poorest countries to access these resources. This can be balanced with investments in an array of new technology to greatly improve energy efficiency and to capture and store carbon.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in African Diaspora News

 

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Africa’s ‘first design museum’ stirs continent’s creative pulse

 

The Johannesburg-based Museum of African Design opened its doors on October 24 showcasing the Southern Guild collection. Here, “Woven Bench III’” by South African artist Conrad Hicks.
Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

By Teo Kermeliotis and Errol Barnett, CNN

Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) – It used to be an old factory churning out parts for the mining industry before slowly falling into neglect and turned into a garage for vehicle repairs.

But now, after a renovation process, the high-ceilinged warehouse has been reinvented as a modern art deco space intended to house Africa’s most cutting-edge design ideas and exhibit them to the world.

Welcome to the Museum of African Design, or MOAD, a 2,500 square meter space which claims to be the first of its kind on the continent.

Situated inside Johannesburg’s vibrant Maboneng precinct, a former crime hotspot that’s undergoing an urban rejuvenation, MOAD opened its doors late last month with the vision to become a pan-African platform for contemporary creativity and innovation.

“The goal for it is really to become a cultural hub,” explains Aaron Kohn, the young and enthusiastic director of MOAD. “A place to showcase what’s going on the continent that’s innovative but also to encourage that kind of thinking, design and creativity to young South Africans and to people visiting Johannesburg at the same time.”

True to its character

The spacious downtown building, which dates back to the 1920s, had been earmarked as a museum since its acquisition by the Maboneng developers in 2011. But it only hosted a number of temporary exhibitions and events during the past year before work started in July to transform it into a permanent home for African design.

The developers went on to add an extra floor, bathrooms and a cocktail bar but kept the building’s integrity largely intact — raw floors, metal bars and scaffolding ramps still dominate the three-level space, creating a rough-edged atmosphere that echoes the identity of the building and its urban surroundings.

“We will continue ‘refining’ the space, but the goal is to leave it as original and industrial as possible,” explains Kohn.

‘New ways to see the world’

The museum’s launch event took place on October 24 with the annual showcase of the Southern Guild collection, a 10-day exhibition presenting the creations of some of South Africa’s top designers and artists.

Renowned architect David Adjaye, who was born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, was the guest of honor at the event.

I believe in design as a very important edifying element for community, for culture, for civilization.
David Adjaye, architect

“I believe in design as a very important edifying element for community, for culture, for civilization,” he told CNN hours before the official opening. “I think it’s one of the hallmarks of how we talk about creating awareness about who we are and what values we have in the world,” added Adjaye

“Design is very good, it’s almost like a diver; it seeks out new ways which you can see the world; it goes down and discovers new things that bring it back up and it shows it to us. I think that’s really important.”

‘Native Nostalgia’

After the launch event, which had a South African focus, MOAD is now making its first foray into the continent’s creativity with “Native Nostalgia,” the museum’s inaugural full-length exhibition.

Starting today, the group show explores the idea of nostalgia and what it means for African artists to look at dark chapters in history, including apartheid and colonialism, in a fond manner.

It features a series of mixed media creations from a number of African artists, including Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou from Benin, Amina Menia from Algeria, The Nigeria Nostalgia Project and South African collective I See a Different You.

“Native Nostalgia” is curated by Kohn, but the MOAD director says that in the future the museum will be working with different people for every exhibition. He also outlines that MOAD is not interested in becoming a collective institution that stores art or wastes any budget on insurance and acquiring fees.

“We want to focus on the most exciting and relevant exhibitions that we can put on with works from across the continent,” says Kohn.

“I think that’s a new model that a lot more institutions around the world are looking at in terms of not having necessarily conventional museum staff, not having a permanent collection — it allows an institution that’s interested in the contemporary to stay contemporary,” adds Kohn.

“Native Nostalgia” runs until February 9. Upcoming exhibitions at MOAD include “Fashioning Africa,” running from March to May, and “Design of an African City,” from June to August.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in African Diaspora News

 

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