Sunday, March 30, 2014

Consumer Reports: Great online ways to save on shopping

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The team at ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports, regularly sweeps the Web for the latest and greatest shopping sites and apps. Each site meets ShopSmart's requirements for privacy, contact-info disclosure and service. Best for automatic rewards for shopping. The search engine's new rewards program gives you points for doing Web searches at the site and trying new features. Subscribe to get started, then redeem your points for Redbox rentals, earn money for charities and get gift cards to use at, Starbucks and other major retailers. Don't Miss: The Refer a Friend program lets you earn rewards for recruiting others. Best for coupons and cash back. As if saving money weren't great enough, this site helps you make money, too. Head here to find a Deal News code before you complete your next online order. And be sure to sign in before checking out at participating sites; you'll earn cash back for anything you buy. Don't Miss: The Coupon Cactus Exclusives section offers special codes. Best for protecting your personal info. Liking your favorite brands on Facebook is a great way to see what's new and get special offers. But the trade-off is that you might be granting access to your personal info. This browser add-on reveals everyone you've given permission to raid your data, alerts you in real time when anyone tries to view it and makes it easy to revoke the privilege. Don't Miss: The free app for Android and Apple. Best for tracking all of your purchases. Register the email address you use for online purchases and it keeps a record of every transaction, stores your receipts and alerts you if you're eligible for a price reduction or refund. Want to know when that package of goodies will arrive? It tells you that, too. Don't Miss: Slice & Dice charts your spending categories. You might be surprised to learn what percentage of your cash is spent on shoes, for example!

The best shopping apps include:

Bondsy: Get rid of your unwanted stuff easily; no visits from creepy strangers required. This app helps you sell to or trade with your friends and friends of friends. Works on Apple.

CheckPoints: Scan grocery product bar codes, play games and watch videos to earn points. Then redeem them for gift cards, frequent-flyer miles, Facebook game credits, gadgets or charitable donations. Works on Android and Apple.

EcoBonus: Earn rewards for buying with the environment in mind. Scan your receipts and enter product codes for wholesome brands such as Annie's Homegrown and Seventh Generation, then redeem points for stuff or donate them to charity. Works on Android and Apple.

Goodzer: No more running from store to store in search of just the right necklace to complement your date-night outfit. Instead, just type what you're looking for into this app and it searches mom-and-pop stores and chain stores to show you ones that have it nearby and how much they're charging. Works on Apple.

Pounce: See a must-have product advertised in a circular or catalog? Just snap a photo of it and this new tool lets you "pounce" on the item - that is, buy it via the app, directly from the retailer. It currently works for Ace Hardware, Babies R Us, Staples, Target and Toys R Us; look for more retailers to be added. Works on Apple.

By the Editors of Consumer Reports (

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jackson Hewitt Tax Service® and GetInsured® Partner with the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange to Enroll Families in Affordable Care Act (ACA) Coverage Programs

PARSIPPANY, N.J., March 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --With the March 31 deadline to sign up for health insurance for 2014 just around the corner, the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange (NMHIX) is partnering with Jackson Hewitt Tax Service® and GetInsured ® to help residents get enrolled. Jackson Hewitt ® provides free assistance to paid tax preparation customers who want to apply for Medicaid, CHIP, or the tax credits available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the Exchange. GetInsured ® provides premium plan selection advice so that consumers can get the best plan for them and their families. As part of this new partnership, New Mexico residents will receive discounted tax preparation and free application assistance from Jackson Hewitt ® and GetInsured ®.

"NMHIX is glad to offer this additional service to New Mexicans in partnership with Jackson Hewitt and GetInsured," said Debra Hammer, Chief Communications Officer for NMHIX. "We are distributing the coupons made available from Jackson Hewitt to all of our community partners, health care guides and agents around the state as well as on our website to make them readily available for those who are looking to get their taxes done and to enroll in health coverage for 2014."

"Our goal is to help uninsured individuals to avoid the tax penalty next year," said Brian Haile, senior vice president, health care policy, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. "We can help customers finish the application for the new ACA programs in just five or six minutes after we do their taxes. In fact, most of our customers can sign up for the new ACA Program without touching a keyboard or even paying for a stamp."

"The tax filing moment is an ideal time for consumers to apply for coverage because they have all of the information that they need - and they are about to get their tax refund, which they can use to pay initial premiums," said Chini Krishnan, CEO and Co-Founder of GetInsured. "GetInsured leverages a customer's tax information to streamline the online application for customers who are eligible for the premium tax credits - and we help them pick the ideal plan that meets their family's needs."

For more information, or to find the nearest office visit or call 1-800-234-1040. Call 1-855-99-NMHIX to find information on this program or go to to download the tax discount coupon.

About the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange
New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange (NMHIX) was created to help individuals and small businesses get access to affordable health insurance plans. NMHIX helps consumers compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. NMHIX also helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance and if so, at what level. Through SHOP, small businesses are able to purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans. Health Care Guides and brokers/agents are available throughout the state to help with signing up for NMHIX coverage.

For more information on New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange, please visit, or text BeWellNM to 311411.

This media alert is supported by Funding Opportunity Number IE-HBE-12-001 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contents provided are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HHS or any of its agencies.

About Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc.
Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. is the #2 provider of full service paid federal and state tax preparation and related financial service products delivered through approximately 6,400 franchised and company-owned locations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, including locations in Walmart and sears coupons stores across the United States. Jackson Hewitt Tax Servicealso offers an online tax preparation product at For more information, or to locate your neighborhood Jackson Hewitt office, visit or call 1-800-234-1040. Jackson Hewitt can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. is the leading online health insurance marketplace, combining modern technology and customer service capabilities to make health insurance shopping easy and efficient. Since its founding in 2005, has helped millions of individuals and families find the right health insurance plan for their needs and budget - offering over 12,000 health insurance plans with over 100 of the nation's leading insurance carriers. also provides state governments with technology solutions for the enablement of state-based health insurance exchanges, including health insurance exchange contracts in California and New Mexico.

SOURCE Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc.

Published March 21, 2014 – Reads 195
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Monday, March 24, 2014

West Springfield, Longmeadow, MGM To Serve Up 'Last And Best Offers' On Casino Impact Cash

The inauguration of West Springfield Mayor Ed Sullivan took place in the West Springfield High auditorium.
(Photo Credit: Don Treeger for The Republican)

by: Sam Hudzik

The outcome of negotiations between MGM and a pair of communities surrounding Springfield will soon be in the hands of an arbitrator. Longmeadow and West Springfield were unable to reach deals with the casino company.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission wanted casino applicants to make nice with their neighbors, and pay-up to offset the expected costs of a casino, like for traffic and public safety.

MGM, which wants to set up shop in downtown Springfield, did make deals with a half-dozen communities. But they got nowhere with Longmeadow or West Springfield.

An independent arbitrator must be picked to settle the score. And this week, West Springfield Mayor Ed Sullivan says, the city will have to come up with "our last and Discount."

"We did have a few meetings," Sullivan says. "We thought they were productive. However, we thought at some point - which is the end of the process - we had to agree to disagree."

The arbitrator has until mid-April to issue a final ruling.

This whole casino application process is scheduled to wrap-up by the end of April when the gaming commission awards the single resort casino license reserved for western Massachusetts. MGM is the only remaining applicant.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sonic Notify Uses Phones to Bug Fans Who Buy Cheap Seats

<On Salesimg src="">

Photograph by Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

Some fans who bought nosebleed-seat tickets to see the Golden State Warriors received a friendly suggestion from their phones when they stepped off the escalators at Oracle Arena: Wouldn't they like to spend a few extra bucks for a seat where they could actually distinguish Stephen Curry from Andrew Bogut?

Sneaking into better seats is a time-honored tradition among sports fans, but in recent years, teams have started using mobile apps to persuade attendees to pay more instead. Pro baseball teams began selling seat upgrades through smartphones last season, and the Warriors have been doing the same. The idea is to boost demand by capitalizing on another tech craze working its way through professional sports: the use of cheap sensors to track people's exact location within the stadium. The Warriors are the first in the NBA to roll out iBeacons, sensors that use low-energy Bluetooth signals to communicate with any phone that has the team's app installed.

Get used to this idea. Since included the technology in an update to its mobile operating system last year, iBeacons have created a true fervor among companies wanting to sell you stuff. The Apple Store, , and several grocery store chains have been experimenting with them. Next to retailers, sports teams seem to be the most excited. The NFL tested out the beacons during the Super Bowl in February, and 20 Major League Baseball stadiums are adding them this ye ar.

Sonic Notify, the company that installed several dozen 2-by-2-inch beacons in Oracle Arena, says sports franchises are the ideal businesses to use this kind of technology. Stores have to worry about annoying their shoppers, says Aaron Mittman, the company's chief executive officer, while sports fans are more open to experimenting. "You're not going to get mad at the Golden State Warriors and go to some other arena instead," he says.

Perhaps. But it does seem that sports teams peddling ambitious mobile apps are getting ahead of their fans. The National Football League ran a test to see how people were using stadium Wi-Fi networks last season and found that they were pretty much just uploading photos to .

What's more, most Golden State fans are unlikely to get the team's notifications for now. Sonic Notify estimates that fewer than 30 percent of people who have phones equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy keep the feature turned on regularly. Only about 30 percent of U.S. smartphones have it at all, according to a recent study by , although the firm says about 80 percent of phones will have it within the next 18 months as people upgrade their devices.

Even then, the Warriors will still have to persuade people to download the team's app. There's also a significant nontechnical barrier: The team just doesn't have that many tickets to offer. Kevin Cote, senior director of the Warriors' digital efforts, says the team rarely has more than 50 extra tickets available per game, because its arena sells out pretty much every night. Right now, Golden State generally sells about half of the seat upgrades it pushes through its app. Extending the offer at just the right moment may help the organization sell more, but if the Warriors succeed in increasing demand for upgrades, there will inevitably be fans who try to get better seats only to find them taken. And that's just mean.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Great Deal: Amazon Now Offering Xbox One Titanfall Bundle For $449 With Free Shipping

Yesterday we reported that Walmart is now offering Xbox One Titanfall bundle for $449, a $50 off from the original price of $499. Now, the largest online retailer Promo Codes is now offering the same deal of selling Xbox One Titanfall bundle for $449 and it includes free shipping as well. This bundle includes: The Xbox One Console, the Xbox One Wireless Controller, the Xbox One Kinect Sensor, the Xbox One Headset, a one month Xbox Live token card, and a Titanfall full game token code Titanfall requires an internet connection and Xbox Live Gold Membership to play. The console is driven by a powerful combination of CPU,....

Read more at Microsoft News

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Deal: GameStop has Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for $20

GameStop is offering Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for the low price of $20.

If you haven't jumped on the monster-slaying bandwagon that is Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate yet, then GameStop is the next place you're going to want to go. They're currently offering the Wii U version of the game for $19.99, but if you're a PowerUp rewards card member, you'll be able to pick it up for $17. I checked online with various other retailers like Promotional Codes and Best Buy and it seems this is the best deal on the game so far. Amazon is currently sold out and the Best Buy list price is still $40.

Crafting armor from the monsters you've slain has never been so cheap, since the last deal Capcom themselves offered on the game was $25 for a digital copy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Muriel Siebert's Brokerage Said to Seek Buyers After Her Death

Siebert Financial Corp., whose late founder Muriel Siebert was the first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, is exploring a sale, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The brokerage is working with Raymond James Financial Inc. to seek a buyer and could fetch more than $50 million in a sale, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is not public. Siebert Financial's shares closed at $2.04 yesterday, giving it a market value of $45 million.

The company is too small to appeal to private equity and could draw interest from larger Coupon Codes brokerages such as E*Trade Financial Corp., TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. and Scottrade Inc., two of the people said.

Known as Mickie, Siebert broke into the all-male membership of the exchange by paying $445,000 for a seat in 1967 after a career as a financial analyst. She died of complications from cancer in August at age 84. She started Muriel Siebert & Co., in 1969 and retooled it as a discount brokerage in 1975 as Wall Street adopted negotiated commissions rather than fixed ones.

At her funeral, she was remembered for her devotion to her dog, Monster Girl, and love of fast cars. She got her start on Wall Street as research analyst with Bache & Co. Siebert was also the first female superintendent of banks for New York State, and in 1982 unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Siebert Financial "has been exploring opportunities to grow and enhance the firm's offerings, including through strategic alliances, since the death of our founder," according to an e-mailed statement from spokesman Tom Butler. "The board of directors will explore any options that enhance our competitive position and expand our product offering."

Billionaire Status

Siebert Financial, which went public in 1996, has 35,000 client retail accounts containing $7.2 billion in assets, according to today's statement. The brokerage offered clients the option to trade online, and for two brief periods in 1999, as Internet-related stocks soared, her ownership stake briefly made her a billionaire. Within months, some $700 million of that disappeared.

Spokesmen for Raymond James and E*Trade declined to comment on the sale. Representatives for TD Ameritrade and Scottrade didn't reply to phone calls seeking comment.

Siebert Financial's third-quarter loss widened to $1.6 million from $912,000 a year earlier, according to regulatory filings. Siebert held 90 percent of the company's stock as of April 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company is starting an investment management venture with Palladiem Partners LLC and Brinker Capital next month, according to today's statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Monks in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Mohammed Hadi at James Callan

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Here's a Couple Screens from the New 'True Skate' Skatepark, Called The Warehouse

<Promotional Codep>One of my favorite pastimes is spending hours skating around the virtual world of True Skate [$1.99] from True Axis. While contains missions to complete and a scoring mechanic that put it squarely in "game" territory, myself and many others enjoy it simply as a virtual skateboarding toy. The physics engine and numerous skateable objects in True Skate mean you're only limited by your own imagination when it comes to things to do in the game.

True Axis has been great about updating the game too. Since its initial release in October of 2012, True Skate has gained numerous new features, tweaks, and even brand new parks. The first of those new parks came just over a year ago, an indoor skatepark named Inbound, with its second new park hitting just last month, a street-style level named Schoolyard. The Schoolyard level was just the first of four new skateparks planned for the game, and today True Axis has sent over the first images of the next upcoming park, dubbed The Warehouse.

As you can see, The Warehouse is a similar indoor park like Inbound, but much more spacious. I love Inbound, but some of its elements do feel sort of cramped, so I'm looking forward to trying out this roomier indoor park. The update with the new Warehouse level is already submitted to Apple and pending approval, and tentatively has a release date of this Thursday should everything go smoothly with said approval. If not, well, at least it won't be long to wait until we can get our hands on some tasty new virtual skating terrain in True Skate.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Man Uses 17-Year-Old Coupon for Frozen Pizza Bundled With PC Game

The man known as the Lazy Game Reviewer was given by a viewer an old copy of the 1997 combat flight sim Red Baron 2 for the PC, and inside was a Price Compare for 75 cents off a Red Baron frozen pizza.

The coupon did not have an expiration date, however, and so our lazy friend took it to a grocery store to try to use it. Lo and behold, it actually worked.

The moral of this story, of course, is that you definitely need to buy a bunch of old PC games off eBay or Amazon Marketplace like right now. The other moral is that there should be more coupons in boxed games.

Early Offer: One of KC's best taking it slow

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: One of the Promo Code 2015 prospects in Kansas City learned a lesson about how to handle the recruiting process by watching his teammate go through it this past fall; Iowa picked up commitments earlier this week from twin offensive linemen, helping the Hawkeyes make recruiting waves in the Big Ten; and a West Coast running back is starting to move up the charts with coaches.

Moore savvy about process

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The TouchArcade Show - 145 - Consistently Mediocre

<Deal Nowp>We've got a super XXL sized podcast today that was... surprisingly on topic. It begins with an email from a concerned listener asking us to stop talking about which inexplicably lead into a discussion about Flappy Bird. We're trying to stop, I swear. From there, we get on to talking about the hottest games of the week (of which there were many) and then we discuss the parallels between people who get mad about IAP and our childhood when we thought the people who ran pizza places with arcade machines were jerks. It's an oddly identical comparison, weirdly enough.

Don't forget to shoot us emails with any questions, feedback, or anything else relevant or irrelevant to We read 'em all, even if they don't make it into the podcast.

As always, you can listen to us with the links below... And if you like what you hear, please subscribe and/or drop us a review in iTunes. Much appreciated!

iTunes Link: The TouchArcade Show
Zune Marketplace: Podcasts
RSS Feed: The TouchArcade Show
Direct Link: TouchArcadeShow-145.mp3, 90.5MB


Milk price, production comparison tool

Dairy producers are often exposed to not only the highly variable nature of milk Super Sale, but also the highly variable costs of the feeds they supply to their herds. This variability often creates a situation where dairy farmers are tasked with making many choices affecting milk production and feed costs without being able to visualize the outcome.

Milk price is affected by several factors including milk volume, milk components (fat, protein, and other solids), and any bonuses or deductions applicable to the producer. While milk volume is important, many of the performance indicators of today's industry overlook the value of a herd with slightly lower milk volume and higher solids. Additionally, feed choice may have an impact on milk volume or solids. The effect of using different feeds to boost milk volume or milk solids is not only hard to calculate, but also to compare and contrast.

An example of this situation would be a farmer making the decision to spend more money on new feeds to boost component production. If this feed were to increase the production of milk solids, it may be more economically justifiable than the current feed, even if it costs more. This new feed could be more economically justifiable if it increased milk components, milk pay price, and income over feed cost values.

In order to visualize and quantify the economic impact of changes to milk volume, milk composition, milk price, and feed costs to dairy farm profitability, the University of Kentucky and DFA have developed a dashboard tool. This tool can be found at:

This tool allows farmers to quantify the difference slight changes in milk production and component levels could have on milk price. An additional feature of this tool is to compare feed costs, and their impact on milk income. Within this tool, you will find places to input production values, milk check values, and feed costs. From these inputs, economic values are computed, giving a better picture of the viability of herds with varying milk prices and feed costs.

In short, this tool will then allow you to:

  • Calculate your milk price
  • Compare possible production scenarios and their effects on milk price
  • Compare income over feed costs between different production and feed cost situations

The arrows on the following pages will help to direct you in using the actual Milk Price and Production Comparison Tool. While the arrows in the following pages will not appear on the actual tool, using these pages as a guide will assist you in utilizing each element of the tool to its fullest potential.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Softbank CEO's merger plans for Sprint, T-Mobile face long odds

Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato

Softbank Corp President Masayoshi Son speaks during a news conference in Tokyo July 30, 2013.

It is no secret that Son, known to have threatened self-immolation to get his way in the past, wants to combine sprint plans Corp (S.N), which Softbank acquired last year, with T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.N) as part of his vision to create a global industry leader.

Son plans to lay out his broader vision for the U.S. wireless communications industry at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. next Tuesday. Speculation is rife that he will talk about a bid for T-Mobile, although a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday that was not the plan.

Anticipation about a merger has already pushed up shares of Sprint and T-Mobile 15.6 percent and 18.3 percent, respectively, since December 13, when media reports first emerged about Softbank's interest in pursuing a deal as soon as the first half of 2014.

Three sources familiar with the undertakings of the companies involved spoke on condition of anonymity for this article because they are not authorized to speak publicly about them.

Son's advisors are telling him to cool his heels for the time being, given the low odds of gaining antitrust approval, after they met lawmakers and regulators over the past several weeks in Washington and consulted with T-Mobile's parent company, Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE).

Son, who has eyed T-Mobile for years, would rather move sooner than later, before T-Mobile gets stronger and more expensive. He reiterated his interest in a deal just last week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, according to the people familiar with the matter.

"Everyone wants to do this deal; Sprint does, DT does, Softbank does, the investors want it, the customers want it; only the regulators don't want it," one of the sources said.

Whether customers actually want or would benefit from a merger is debatable. Some consumer advocacy groups have warned it could result in higher prices, job losses and fewer choices for consumers.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler also expressed his skepticism about a potential merger in meetings with Son and Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse on February 3, according to an FCC official briefed on the matter.

His viewpoint echoed earlier comments from William Baer, assistant attorney general for the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Baer, at a meeting of the New York State Bar Association on January 30, gave long odds to a regulatory approval of mergers between any two of the top four wireless phone companies.

U.S. regulators previously rejected AT&T Inc's (T.N) $39 billion takeover bid for T-Mobile US in 2011. They have since argued that T-Mobile US has grown stronger, proving that the market can sustain four companies.

Additionally, the FCC is under pressure to maximize revenue from a spectrum auction scheduled for mid-2015. Proceeds from the auction will be used to compensate broadcasters and to contribute toward the building of a $7 billion national public safety communications network.

For the auction, TV stations will voluntarily relinquish their low-frequency airwaves but their willingness to sell depends on the prices they can get, a reason for regulators to seek as many bidders as possible.

Such airwaves can cover greater distances and penetrate walls and buildings more easily than high frequency spectrum, which makes them highly coveted, especially by wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile, which have less low-frequency spectrum than AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N).

Deutsche Telekom would like to sell T-Mobile because it sees its fourth position in the United States, behind Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, as limiting long-term profitability. It does not want a repeat performance of its failed attempt to sell the unit to AT&T.

Deutsche Telekom's new CEO Timotheus Hoettges was a key negotiator in that deal and knows the risks and costs involved in a failure better than anyone. He negotiated a breakup fee of cash and spectrum that amounted to $6 billion, but the company had to contend with an exodus of customers amid the uncertainty of waiting for regulatory approval that in the end never came.


To be sure, Son, who once threatened to set himself on fire as he pushed Japanese regulators to let him set up a high speed Internet service, has shown he does not give up easily. That is why people close to Son still have not ruled out the possibility he will try a merger anyway this year.

One of the sources, who has worked with Son, said he is learning how U.S. politics work and is still working on making his case despite the odds.

"He's learning to deal with politics," the person said. "His English is good but it's not nuanced so he says exactly what he thinks and that can be challenging in D.C. politics," the person added.

Softbank's arguments are that a combination of the third and fourth mobile operators would create a strong competitor to AT&T and Verizon, the industry leaders.

Looking outside the United States, Son can point to Britain and Australia as well as his home turf of Japan where regulators approved mergers between third- and fourth-ranking mobile players.

Son has also argued that to build the super-fast network he envisions for the United States, it would only be economically viable were it to serve a larger subscriber base.

Representatives for Softbank and Sprint have declined to comment on any potential deal with T-Mobile.

(Reporting by Nicola Leske in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Some residents feel Dollar General a 'golden opportunity'


Staff Writer

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OTTOVILLE - A number of residents attended the Ottoville Village Council meeting Monday night to voice their concerns regarding the possibility of a Dollar General Store being constructed across from the high school on US 224, as well as to learn first-hand the reason behind the Auglaize Street water lines freezing.

A few residents spoke on the positive impact having a Dollar General Store would have on the community.

Jerry Hohlbein said prior articles in the newspaper have reflected a negative point of view, something that is not a good reflection left on the town "that we call home."

"There is always two sides to every story," Hohlbein said. "Equal time could be given where citizens can express their positive views and desires before the administration [village council] makes the final decision."

Hohlbein feels it [Dollar General Store] is a golden opportunity that seldom comes along to villages with a population of less than 1,000. He feels the new adventure could open the door for commercial growth which everyone will benefit from. In addition, Hohlbein feels closing the door on this opportunity could have a lasting negative impact on the community for generations.

Owner of Subway Jim Rhodes said there are rumors that people who enter or shop at Dollar General are low-income.

"I shop there," Rhodes said.

Rhodes also addressed the potential safety concern for the students wanting to cross over US 224 and go to the Dollar General.

"The kids will be at the junior high level or older," he said. "Kids should have been taught how to cross a road safely by that age."

Rhodes said Dollar General is an expanding business.

"Why stop them from coming into this town?" he asked. "What will happen to this town and our future?"

Councilman Tony Langhals said the location is the issue.

"There are a fair amount of people in favor," Langhals said. "I hate to get aggressive at this time."

Langhals voted against John Schimmoeller's request to tap into the forced water main across from the high school.

Councilman Randy Altenburger feels Dollar General is a necessity.

"With all things considered - Schimmoeller tapping in and annexing the property - we should continue to pursue speed limit reduction," Altenburger said. "I vote we continue to allow Schimmoeller to proceed."

Council voted to allow Schimmoeller to tap in.

Mayor Ron Miller said the tap-in is allowed and the village will draft a letter to propose the speed reduction - 35 miles per hour on both sides - from the edge of the bridge to the corporation limit.

Miller Contracting representative Josh Clay and Brian Goubeaux of Choice One Engineering were on hand and spoke with council and discussed the frozen water lines on Auglaize Street.

Last week, council held a special meeting to address the situation where Miller reported that the majority of the houses on the south side of the street were being affected. He said there were eight or nine houses that had frozen water lines and the village started getting reports of frozen pipes the second week of January.

Clay and Goubeaux explained that after the water system was installed, the excavation was backfilled with the compaction gravel and water was used to aid the process.

"The moisture in the stone back fill has traveled down and deepened the frost line," Clay said.

"We need information. Is this going to be an ongoing situation or is it due to the extreme weather conditions?" Miller asked. "We don't want to tear up the road and we want to fix the problem."

"It's the sixth coldest winter in the history of documenting the weather," Clay said. "It could be freezing at the road, we don't know."

"Are service lines at specification depth?" Altenburger asked. "Why doesn't the east side of the street have the same problems?"

"Some service lines went over the storm sewer and some run under," Clay said. "We had to come up to meet the customer's line from the houses."

Clay said he did not know if the village would find out of the furnace trailer until they went through another winter. He emphasized that everybody involved in the decision-making processes used their best judgement.

So far the village has spent $4,000 to repair three lines on Auglaize and another by the hardware store.

Miller suggested an extension of the warranty, which would give the village close to an extra six months after the original warranty was up and give the village one more winter to be sure the system is OK.

"If you followed the plans, then we'll have to fix it [frozen lines]," Miller said. "We can work on an agreement if you [Clay] get more information on an extended warranty."

Council approved the purchase of a new 500-gallon double-wall diesel tank at approximately $2,900 which will be located at the sewer plant to service the diesel generator, equipment and vehicles. Street Supervisor Barry Koester suggested pouring a concrete pad to place the tank on.

Board of Public Affairs members Phil Hilvers and Dan Honigford reported the new water meter reader ordered in October is in. Hilvers suggested Fiscal Officer Jeanne Wannemacher and Water and Sewage Treatment Plant Manager Steve Wittler and employee Chad Knippen take the training session on use of the meter.

Fire Chief Dan Honigford reported that the fire department has been looking into remodeling the exterior of the fire station. He said they have an architect that will produce color renderings - at $1,000 - of a variety of facades and changes in the structure.

"We would be looking at changing windows and doors," Honigford said. "I'd like to start on it this summer."

After a brief discussion, council recommended looking into the furnace and air conditioning before putting any money into remodeling the exterior.

Koester requested funds for a trailer to use to keep the department's cold mix on, which would lead to less waste - since it is kept on the floor of their building - and expedite the street repair process.

"M&W is doing the metal work and welding the axle," Koester said. "The rest we are doing in-house and it will cost close to $3,500."

Council also discussed implementing sidewalks on State Route 66 west on Sunset Drive. They all agree not having sidewalks is a safety issue.

"Residents have the option of having it put in by their own contractor or we will have our contractor install it," Miller said. "Their contractors will have to follow the same specifications."

Residents will pay 70 percent of the cost and the village will pick up the remaining 30 percent.

The next village meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on March 24.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cumberland Matters: Take steps to keep familiy safe

<out of the furnace soundtrackp>Posted:

Smoke detectors help protect you against fires, but you can also protect your family by installing a carbon monoxide detector to guard against the odorless, colorless gas, which can be deadly.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 150 people die of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning each year. A carbon monoxide detector with battery backup can guard against the deadly gas that can leak from gas logs, stoves or furnaces. Carbon monoxide detectors need to be closer to the floor than smoke detectors, since carbon monoxide is heavier than air.

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Posted in Living, Saturday extra on Saturday, February 15, 2014 12:02 am. | Tags: Cumberlandmatters

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Go Joe! Amazon 'Kindle Worlds' inks deal for G.I. Joe, Veronica Mars fan fiction

For those authors who always believed that their magnum opus about an elite squad of gardeners teaming up with G.I. Joe to fight the forces of COBRA was a ticket to the big time, Promo Codes has some very good news.

The company announced today that licenses for its Kindle Worlds fan fiction program have expanded to include G.I. Joe from Hasbro, alongside a number of other fictional properties including "Veronica Mars" and "Pretty Little Liars" spinoff "Ravenswood." Those universes will be joining offerings from "Gossip Girl," "The Vampire Diaries" and other franchises which are already a part of Amazon's program.

Kindle Worlds, which Amazon started last year, allows writers to submit stories that are based in fictional universes of others' creation and get paid a royalty of up to 35 percent on every sale they make through Amazon's Kindle Store.

Adding Veronica Mars seems like particularly fortuitous timing, given that the franchise just got a new lease on life last year after raising more than $5.7 million on Kickstarter to produce a feature film.

Blair Hanley Frank is GeekWire's Bay Area Correspondent. He has also worked for Macworld, PCWorld and TechHive. He can be found on Twitter @belril and can be reached by email at

Speaking of films, Hasbro also owns Wizards of the Coast, the Renton-based company that is responsible for Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. While there's no sign that a deal to bring those franchises to Kindle Worlds is in the works, it's certainly an interesting possibility for Amazon's platform, especially since a Magic movie is in development right now.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Film Festival hosts 'The Best Offer' and'Love Is In the Air' Feb. 7-12

New Geoffrey Rush film and French romantic comedy premiere at Mary D. Fisher Theatre

Sedona AZ (February 4, 2014) - The Sedona International Film Festival is proud to present the Northern Arizona premieres of Geoffrey Rush's new film "The Printable Coupons" and French romantic comedy "Love Is In the Air" showing Feb. 7-12 at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre.


Academy Award-winner Geoffrey Rush and Golden Globe winner Donald Sutherland star alongside Jim Sturgess and Sylvia Hoeks in the new indie sensation "The Best Offer".

"The Best Offer" is the simple, touching tale of a solitary, cultured man, no longer young, whose reluctance to engage with others is matched only by the dogged obsessiveness with which he practices his profession of art expert and auctioneer. Asked to handle the valuation and sale of a mysterious woman's priceless heirlooms, the antiques dealer finds himself enveloped by a passion that will transform his grey existence forever.

Virgil Oldman (Rush) is a solitary, cultured man whose reluctance to engage with others, especially women, is matched only by the dogged obsessiveness with which he practices his profession of antiques dealer. He's never been close to another human being, not even Robert, his only friend - a young, skillful restorer of mechanical devices from every era.

The day he turns sixty-three, Virgil receives a phone call from a young woman who asks him to handle the disposal of some family works of art. But when the time comes for his first site visit, the girl fails to appear, nor, for various reasons, is she present for the taking of the inventory or for the transportation and restoration of the pieces.

More than once Virgil is tempted to bow out of what appears to be nothing but a bothersome mess, but on each occasion, the mysterious young woman, locked in her own obsessional world, convinces him to continue. And with this, the old antique dealer's life begins to take an unexpected turn. It is Robert who shows him, step-by-step, how to win the heart of a young woman who is afraid of the world and, caught in the middle of this puzzling game of chess, Virgil soon finds himself enveloped by a passion that will transform his grey existence forever.

"The Best Offer" can be explained as a film about art, seen as the sublimation of love, but also as a film about love, seen as the product of art.

"The Best Offer" will be shown at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre Feb. 7-12. Showtimes will be 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7; 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9; 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10; 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11; and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12.


When two former lovers find themselves unexpectedly seated next to each other on a flight to Paris, the unresolved issues from their relationship quickly surface in both real-time and flashback in this glossy, sexy French romantic comedy, "Love Is In the Air".

Soon-to-be-married Julie (the effervescent Ludivine Sagnier) and continent-hopping playboy Antoine (handsome newcomer Nicolas Bedos) find themselves seated next to each other on a first class flight to Paris - but it isn't a welcome arrangement. He broke her heart three years prior, and they haven't spoken since.

Over the course of the flight, their verbal sparring catches the attention of the other passengers, who are amused by the live soap opera happening in front of them. Alternating between real time and flashbacks from their love affair, this big-budget French comedy is the perfect fun film fare just in time for Valentine's Day.

"Love Is In the Air" will be shown at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre Feb. 8-12. Showtimes will be 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8; 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9; 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10; and 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12.

Tickets are $12, or $9 for Film Festival members. For tickets and more information, please call 928-282-1177. Both the theatre and film festival office are located at 2030 W. Hwy. 89A, in West Sedona. For more information, visit:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Amazon Can Expect Good Q4 On Holiday Sales

Best Offer UK (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

We expect strong revenue growth accompanied bya slight improvement in margins as Amazon releases its Q4 2013 results on January 30. Although the retail sales during the holiday season showed mild growth, e-commerce benefited from the cold weather as buyers preferred shopping online rather than visiting stores. We expect Amazon's sales to grow faster than that of the online retail industry, due to its market leading position and supply chain efficiency. In addition, we expect some support from the continued expansion of web services, the Amazon Prime service and Kindle sales during the holiday season. The retailer stated that Kindle Fire saw strong demand during the quarter, leading to highest ever holiday sales for the device.

Our price estimate for Amazon stands at $338, implying a discount of about 15% to the market.

See our complete analysis for AmazoneBay's Results Suggest A Strong Quarter For Amazon Despite Concerns Around E-Commerce Growth

eBay's marketplaces revenues were up by 13% in the fourth quarter, roughly in line with the full-year growth. The growth sustained despite the company's warnings during its Q3 2013 earnings announcement regarding a slowdown in the U.S. e-commerce market, which materialized to some extent during the fourth quarter. While the holiday retail sales continued to grow for the fourth consecutive year, online retail sales grew by 10% during the period of November-December. This was below 14% growth forecast by comScore and 15% growth forecast by e-marketer. Some of this stemmed from the fact that retailers had to give deep discounts in order to drive sales. But the fact that eBay attained a higher growth rate than the overall market, implies that it took some share from other e-commerce retailer. This suggests that market leaders are likely to outperform the overall market. Therefore, we expect Amazon's quarterly revenue growth to remain high, and more or less in line with what we have seen in recent quarters.

Growth In Web Services And Amazon Prime To Aid EBITDA Margin

One of the risks that Amazon's stock has entailed for a long time is the company's low EBITDA margin, which makes it vulnerable to price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and competition. However, the retailer has successfully pushed its web and cloud services in recent quarters, which is a very high margin business and will aid its profits going forward. The company defeated IBM in a bid to build a private cloud for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), and could add meaningful value to its stock if it can bag more such deals. Evercore Partners has pegged the segment's market potential at around $50 billion, which is huge given the company's current revenues mostly stem from its high margins on this business.

In addition to this, the continued expansion of Amazon Prime service will add to the bottom line. Currently, the service has more than 20 million members worldwide, which implies annualized revenues of close to $1.6 billion at membership fee of $79 per year. While the revenues earned from the Prime service account for just 2% of the company's total sales, the margins are much higher. Even if we assume Amazon earns a 30% EBITDA margin (higher than that for Netflix but still lower than that for many media companies) for its Prime service, it implies that Amazon Prime's EBITDA will amount to close to $500 million, thus accounting for nearly 10% of the company's total EBITDA. However, the importance of Amazon Prime extends beyond these numbers. According to a report, Prime customers tend to buy twice as much as the regular customers and overall accounted for 10% of the purchases in 2012. This proportion could increase going forward as Amazon continues to invest in the streaming content to lure in more buyers.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

New Checks Unlimited Coupon Code Website Launched Online

(PRWEB) January 27, 2014

Promo Codes & Promotional Codes Codes will launch a new web portal,, that finally centralizes resources and information about online checks and reviews of the best online check options. Following launch, for example, 1 Discount Coupon Code will introduce a full review guide to all online checks and online check store options. For site visitors, provides centralized and efficiently organized information about recent promotions and deals on top checks brands that will help readers save up to 50% on checking offers (

Users will also be able to quickly and easily locate the best current check offers from such established brands as Checks Unlimited, 4Checks and Deluxe ( In addition, site users will also be able to find articles that answer important consumer questions such as, "how to choose the best checking accessories?", "how to customize checks?", "what are good address labels?" and "which companies uses advanced security features"?

According to the CEO of 1 Discount Coupon Code, Susan Jones ( ), "there is so much diverse and often difficult-to-source-easily or outdated information about current check coupon codes and promo codes. Our main goal at Promo Codes & Coupon Codes is to finally centralize those resources and to offer consumers up-to-the-minute information on the latest offers...and we are delighted that major partners like Checks Unlimited have decided to join our project."

For more information, please feel free to visit,

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tanaka chooses Yankees in $155 million deal

(Reuters) - Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka has signed a seven-year, $155 million Deal News to join the New York Yankees, the team reported on Wednesday, making the Japanese ace the fifth highest paid pitcher in all of Major League Baseball.

Tanaka, who Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said had been on the team's radar for eight years, was a perfect 24-0 with the Japanese Series champion Rakuten Golden Eagles last season and regarded as one of the prize catches of the off-season.

He was reportedly pursued by a dozen major league teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.

But it was the big-spending Yankees, looking to return to the World Series after missing out on the post-season last year, who got his signature.

"We started evaluating him back in 2007, so clearly we have been scouting him over in Japan for quite some time," Cashman told a conference call, adding that negotiations were extremely private, "Certainly we paid close attention to him in the 2009 WBC (World Baseball Classic) where we were first able to evaluate him against major league hitters.

"He's just gotten better-and-better and it seems like the bigger the game, the more he would step up.

"In an individual game he would dial it up. The one thing that resonated consistently is the competitive side of this particular player."

The total cost of the deal was a $175 million with the Yankees also paying out a $20 million posting fee to his former-Japanese league club and includes an opt-out clause that Tanaka can exercise after the fourth year.

Tanaka will receive an annual salary of just over $22 million making him the highest paid Japanese import of all-time in MLB.

Dodgers Cy Young winning pitcher Clayton Kershaw tops the list having agreed to a massive seven-year $215 million contract last week.

"I was told, we were the highest and it was very competitive and the other teams were in the vicinity of our team," said Cashman. "It's the cost of doing business.

"When you want to acquire some of the best talent in the world, whether it is coming from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the United States or Japan, the highest talent costs a lot of money.

"The efforts of clubs to try to improve themselves creates that bidding environment that produces large contracts for rare talent."

A two-time winner of the prestigious Sawamura Award as Nippon Professional Baseball's best pitcher, Tanaka went 99-35 with 1,238 strikeouts in 175 career games over seven seasons with the Golden Eagles. His resume also includes 53 complete games and 18 shutouts.

Tanaka, an eye-catching 53-9 over the last three seasons, joins a Yankees starting rotation that includes his compatriot Hiroki Kuroda as well as CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova.

With Kuroda and Tanaka, the Yankees become the first major league team since the 2004 Dodgers to have two Japanese pitchers in their starting rotation.

"There are risks with pitchers from Japan," admitted Cashman. "The work load for starters is different, strike zones are different, lineups are different. So there is a lot of risk working through those variables.

"At some point you have to make a call.

"We obviously believe in that talent...those risks will be answered here shortly."

Tanaka played for Japan at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as well as two World Baseball Classics, winning the title in 2009.

The 25-year-old becomes the seventh player born in Japan to wear the famed Yankee pinstripes, joining Hideki Irabu (1997-99), Hideki Matsui (2003-09), Kei Igawa (2007-08), Hiroki Kuroda (2012-13), Ryota Igarashi (2012) and Ichiro Suzuki (2012-13).

The signing is the latest in another Yankees off-season spending spree that has seen the club splurge on free agents Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; editing by Julian Linden)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Xbox One finally gets a price cut - buy it cheap now

<On Salesp>Did you survive Christmas without buying a next gen console? This may be your cue. has slashed the Xbox One's price to £409.99 - a whopping (not really) £20 off the RRP. Hopefully, it's the snowball that starts the avalanche.

The offer doesn't include a game, so you may wish to pick up a bundle instead. We posted a round-up of the best Xbox One bundles in December, which is probably rather out of date by now, but could be worth a glance. I'll update it soon.

Thanks for noticing, Videogamer.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Amazon Local deal: 25 Kindle books for 99 cents each

Promo Code-local-kindle-coupon-for-99-cent-boo-001/237/237x130">

Amazon Local ()

Amazon Local is offering a free coupon good for 25 Kindle downloads for 99-cents each.

Some of the books normally cost $4.99 each.

Titles offered include Kurt Vonnegut's previously unreleased "Sucker's Portfolio" (which is what got me to grab this deal), "No Place to Die" by James Thame and the entertaining Chandler series "Flee," "Three" and "Spree" by J.A. Konrath. There are cookbooks, novels and nonfiction as well. Plenty to keep you busy all winter.

Get the coupon from Amazon Local (at the link below) and the offer will automatically be applied to your Amazon account. After you get a confirmation email, download the Kindle books. Amazon says visible price will not change before purchase, but the sale price will be automatically applied to your order. (Confirm that your coupon was applied by checking your email order confirmation.)

Click here for the deal. The offer ends Feb. 8.

Like Doreen's Deals on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Coupon Queen: Are you going 'clipless' or cutting everything?

I want to save with coupons. I read your column and know that those who Deal Now are saving a great deal of money. But I can't shake the idea of how much time it would take me to cut and carry all those coupons around. The idea of it just makes me cringe. I don't have any time to do that, but I also am not a coupon app person, as I don't use my phone for that. If I'm going to do this it will be with paper coupons. Help convince me this is something I can do without becoming one of those coupon people who everyone rolls their eyes at in the checkout. - Dina K.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Megos given 10 days to decide on plea deal


A New London Superior Court judge gave Norwich businessman Zane Megos what she termed the final continuance Wednesday, allowing him 10 days to decide whether to accept a plea offer on several larceny charges stemming from allegations that he took deposits for apartments in Norwich and New London that never became available.

Megos, 56, of 31 Dellwood Road, Norwich, faces six larceny charges and a related third-degree assault charge in a related incident when an alleged victim sought a refund on the deposit.

Judge Hillary B. Strackbein said the new Jan. 27 court date would be "the last day for a decision" by Megos to accept the plea offer.

During a court appearance in October, Strackbein said the plea Amazon Sales would reduce felony charges to misdemeanors and give Megos a suspended sentence.

The six larceny charges all arose from separate claims in 2012 by alleged victims that Megos took deposits for condemned or unavailable apartments or houses in Norwich and New London.

Megos was arrested again this past November by Norwich police on a charge that he violated a court order to refrain from taking new deposits after police conducted an undercover investigation.

Strackbein said the proposed resolution would not prevent Megos from "doing legitimate business" if he accepts the plea offer.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

ASOS posts bumper Christmas sales as data shows online shopping boom

Online fashion store ASOS enjoyed a bumper rise in sales in the last four months of the year as a swathe of new figures from retailers emphasised the growing influence of the internet.

Sales at Asos - which has become a top destination for fashionable teen and twentysomething shoppers in countries ranging from China to the United States - jumped a better than expected 38% to £336m in the four months to the end of December. Sales in the UK, Asos' biggest market, increased 37% to £134m.

Nick Robertson, Asos chief executive, said: "We have been benefiting from a structural shift online for 10 years. By constantly improving the offer to our fashion-conscious twentysomething customers they are rewarding us with more sales."

The British retailer said it was planning to double the size of its distribution centre in Barnsley by the end of this year, creating at least 300 more jobs, and open a new facility in northern Europe within the same time period as it battles to keep up with soaring demand.

"With all the opportunities we have we think we will continue to grow at these sort of rates," said Nick Robertson, who founded the business to sell celebrity lookalike fashions - As Seen Discount Screen - 13 years ago.

However, shares in the company slid 3% to £66.44 after touching a high of more than £70 last week, as some analysts said ASOS sales in Australia had been slightly disappointing partly because of currency changes. There was also a slowdown in growth in the US. Robertson admitted: "We are not fully formed in the US."

Meanwhile, shares in men's outfitters Moss Bros soared 22% as the company said it had enjoyed a near-13% rise in underlying sales in the five weeks to January 11, while gross profits had also lifted. The company said it would be increasing its dividend payments for the year more than fourfold to 5p a share. Analysts credited the better than expected trading at Moss Bros to improvements to its website which had helped it clear unwanted stock quickly online rather than through stores.

Karen Millen, the privately-owned premium fashion chain, said that its sales had also been lifted by its online performance over Christmas. Its UK, Republic of Ireland and online sales rose 12% for the three weeks to January 4. However, sales growth in newer markets including Spain, France and Denmark was stronger.

The influence of the internet on supermarkets was underlined with new data showing online grocery sales soared 22% in the 12 weeks to January 5, compared with the same period a year before, according to analysts Kantar Worldpanel.

Ed Garner, director at Kantar, said supermarket group Morrisons' lack of an online store was a key factor in its 1% slump in grocery sales during the period. Garner said the figures did not back up Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips' claim that the chain had been hit harder by competition from discount chains Aldi and Lidl than its major rivals such as Tesco or Sainsbury's. He said the evidence was that Morrisons was suffering because of its focus on large supermarkets. "Morrisons barely has any convenience stores and has only just gone online so in effect it was not in the two fastest grocery channels," he said. Garner said the latest figures indicated that both Tesco and Asda saw sales fall in their large stores, although Sainsbury's continued to see growth. Morrisons finally launched its internet service in Warwickshire on Friday in partnership with Ocado, hoping to reboot sales after a dismal festive season forced it to issue a profit warning last week.

Kantar figures made clear that discounters Aldi and Lidl were the big winners over Christmas. Aldi grabbed nearly 1% more market share compared with a year before as sales rose by nearly 30% while Lidl's sales rose 17.5% and tiny Farm Foods, the frozen food chain, achieved a stellar 41.9% growth rate.

Sainsbury's was the only one of the major supermarkets to hold its share of the market year-on-year as strong growth online and at its large chain of convenience stores as well as a good reputation on food quality helped it fight back against the discounters.

As more shoppers choose to buy bulky goods online and then top up at handy local stores, convenience store group McColls also said it had enjoyed a good Christmas. Underlying sales rose 1.5% at the retailer which is tipped to float on the stock market this year.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Deals of the day- Mergers and acquisitions

** French utilities Electricite de France SA and GDF Suez SA have agreed to invest 600 million euros ($819.21 million) in the Tihange 1 nuclear reactor near Liege in Belgium as part of an upgrade to extend the reactor's lifespan, French newspaper Les Echos said.

** Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd has agreed to raise its stake in Bank of Ningbo Co Ltd to 20 percent from 15.34 percent for about S$383 million ($303 million), the latest step in a drive to extend its footprint in China.

** Drugmakers Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc , Actavis Plc and Mylan Inc have all expressed interest in buying Pfizer Inc's branded generics business, but no active discussions are going on at this time, according to three people close to the matter.

** Exchange operator Nasdaq OMX Group and index provider S&P Dow Jones Indices said they are interested in acquisitions to grow their index businesses, in a sign the sector could see a wave of deals as investors pour tens of billions of dollars into portfolios that track benchmarks.

** Shares in German drugs distributor Celesio AG dropped 5 percent after suitor McKesson Corp failed to garner enough shares for its takeover bid to succeed.

** Indian state-run producer Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd is seeking a strategic partnership with Kuwait Petroleum Corp in two upcoming petrochemicals projects, its chairman said.

** Indian energy major Reliance Industries is looking to pick up an 11 percent stake in Venezuela's Petrocarabobo project that was recently surrendered by Malaysia's Petronas, and is eyeing exploration assets in Mexico, a company official said.

** The Indian government has invited bids from nine investment bankers to sell around three-fifths, or 12 percent, of the 20.72 percent stake it owns in Axis Bank, India's third-largest private bank by market value, two people with direct knowledge of the development said, The Economic Times reports.

** Activist investor Jana Partners LLC increased its stake in oil producer QEP Resources Inc and said it plans to nominate candidates to the company's board. It increased its stake to 9.5 percent from 7.6 percent.

** China's Bright Food (Group) Co Ltd said it had agreed to buy Australian dairy company Mundella Foods through its Australian subsidiary, expanding the state-owned conglomerate's overseas reach and boosting its exposure to the growing dairy market.

** Charter Communications Inc on Monday formally offered to acquire larger rival Time Warner Cable for $37.3 billion, sparking what is likely to be a contentious battle for control of the No. 2 U.S. cable operator.

Time Warner Cable's board rejected the offer. Charter now plans to take the Deal Now directly to Time Warner Cable shareholders, Charter's Chief Executive Tom Rutledge said in an interview.

** Brazilian energy company Cosan SA Industria e Comercio said on Monday its Rumo Logistica unit is in preliminary talks to purchase the country's largest railroad operator, America Latina Logistica SA, or ALL.

($1 = 0.73 euros)

($1 = 1.27 Singapore dollars)

(Compiled by Shivani Mody in Bangalore)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Good Morning Snore Solution Coupons 2014: 20% off Promo Code + Free Shippin

Fargo, ND -- ( SBWIRE) -- 01/08/2014 -- Good Morning Snore Solution is one of the best solutions for a peaceful sleep for people who snore. This new equipment developed by top sleep researchers uses the tongue displacement technology, unlike other commonly available mouthpiece, which holds the jaw in place. This clinically tested device allows its users a comfortable night, while the easily adjustable device can be cleaned without much effort. Users can now use this mouthpiece on a 30 day trial basis and have their money refunded if they don't like the effects of this revolutionary equipment. The mouthpiece can be easily cleaned by using the Denture/orthodontic appliance cleaning solution/tablets, which are easily available at any local pharmacy. This next gen mouthpiece is way better than numerous age old devices, pillows, mouth guards or chin straps as it allows the users to enjoy a comfortable sleep without any side-effects. Numerous satisfied users testify its efficiency, while many industry veterans claim it as the most easy to use stop snore solution. Just wear this mouthpiece as directed and see how fast it cures the snoring disorder. Here are few things one would like to know before buying this amazing equipment.

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How to place an order?
Customers can place the order directly at the product's website, which also functions as its retailing store. Simply hit the "Order Now" tab on the landing page of the website and complete the checkout process.

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The company generally ships the product on the next business day from the date of placing the order. Customers can select any one shipping mode among various shipping modes offered by the company. Each of these shipping modes is priced differently so select carefully before completing the order.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

CNN: Some college athletes play like adults, read like 5th-graders -

cnn headline">Former basketball star Isiah Thomas responds to the investigation and discusses the state of black male college athletes on The Lead with Jake Tapper, today at 4 ET.

(CNN) -- Early in her career as a learning specialist, Mary Willingham was in her office when a basketball player at the University of North Carolina walked in looking for help with his classwork.

He couldn't read or write.

"And I kind of panicked. What do you do with that?" she said, recalling the meeting.

Willingham's job was to help athletes who weren't quite ready academically for the work required at UNC at Chapel Hill, one of the country's top public universities.

But she was shocked that one couldn't read. And then she found he was not an anomaly.

Soon, she'd meet a student-athlete who couldn't read multisyllabic words. She had to teach him to sound out Wis-con-sin, as kids do in elementary school.

And then another came with this request: "If I could teach him to read well enough so he could read about himself in the news, because that was something really important to him," Willingham said.

Student-athletes who can't read well, but play in the money-making collegiate sports of football and basketball, are not a new phenomenon, and they certainly aren't found only at UNC-Chapel Hill.

A CNN investigation found public universities across the country where many students in the basketball and football programs could read only up to an eighth-grade level. The data obtained through open records requests also showed a staggering achievement gap between college athletes and their peers at the same institution.

This is not an exhaustive survey of all universities with major sports programs; CNN chose a sampling of public universities where open records laws apply. We sought data from a total of 37 institutions, of which 21 schools responded. The others denied our request for entrance exam or aptitude test scores, some saying the information did not exist and others citing privacy rules. Some simply did not provide it in time.

See the details of our findingsAcademic vs. athletic scandal

As a graduate student at UNC-Greensboro, Willingham researched the reading levels of 183 UNC-Chapel Hill athletes who played football or basketball from 2004 to 2012. She found that 60% read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. Between 8% and 10% read below a third-grade level.

"So what are the classes they are going to take to get a degree here? You cannot come here with a third-, fourth- or fifth-grade education and get a degree here," she told CNN.

The issue was highlighted at UNC two years ago with the exposure of a scandal where students, many of them athletes, were given grades for classes they didn't attend, and where they did nothing more than turn in a single paper. Last month, a North Carolina grand jury indicted a professor at the center of the scandal on fraud charges. He's accused of being paid $12,000 for a class he didn't teach.

When Willingham worked as a learning specialist for athletes from 2003 to 2010, she admits she took part in cheating, signing her name to forms that said she witnessed no NCAA rules violations when in fact she did. But the NCAA, the college sports organizing body, never interviewed her. Instead, it found no rules had been broken at Chapel Hill.

UNC now says 120 reforms put in place ensure there are no academic transgressions.

But Willingham said fake classes were just a symptom of the bigger problem of enrolling good athletes who didn't have the reading skills to succeed at college.

"Isn't it all cheating if I'm sitting at a table with a kid who can't read or write at college level and pulling a paper out of them? Is this really legitimate? No," Willingham told CNN. "I wouldn't do that today with a college student; I only did it with athletics, because it's necessary."

NCAA sports are big business, with millions of dollars at stake for winning programs.

In 2012, the University of Louisville earned a profit of $26.9 million from its men's basketball program, according to figures that schools have to file with the Department of Education and were analyzed by CNNMoney. That's about 60% more than the $16.9 million profit at the University of North Carolina, whose men's hoops team had the second-largest profit.

Willingham, now a graduation adviser with access to student files, said she believes there are still athletes at UNC who can't do the coursework.

UNC Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham told CNN the school admits only students it believes can succeed.

"I think our students have an exceptional experience in the classroom as well as on the fields of competition," he said.

Anecdotally, NCAA officials admit there are probably stories that are troubling, but they also say the vast majority of student-athletes compete at a high level in the classroom.

"Are there students coming to college underprepared? Sure. They are not just student-athletes," said Kevin Lennon, vice president of academic and membership affairs at the NCAA.

But he said the NCAA sees it as the responsibility of universities to decide what level athlete should be admitted to their schools.

"Once the school admits them, the school should do everything it can to make sure the student succeeds," he said. "(Universities) don't want a national standard that says who they can recruit and admit. They want those decisions with the president, provost and athletic directors. That is the critical piece of all of this."

Scarce information

The NCAA admits that almost 30 athletes in sports that make revenue for schools were accepted in 2012 with very low scores -- below 700 on the SAT composite, where the national average is 1000. That's a small percentage of about 5,700 revenue-sport athletes.

However, the NCAA did not share raw data. The U.S. Department of Education does not track statistics on the topic, nor do the conferences.

In fact, CNN only found one person in addition to Willingham who has ever collected data on the topic. University of Oklahoma professor Gerald Gurney found that about 10% of revenue-sport athletes there were reading below a fourth-grade level.

So, after consulting with several academic experts, CNN filed public records requests and concluded that what Willingham found at UNC and Gurney found at Oklahoma is also happening elsewhere.

The data CNN collected is based on the SAT and ACT entrance exam scores of athletes playing the revenue sports: football and basketball.

In some cases, where that information was not available, CNN then asked for aptitude test scores administered after the athlete was accepted by the university.

Based on data from those requests and dozens of interviews, a CNN investigation revealed that most schools have between 7% and 18% of revenue sport athletes who are reading at an elementary school level. Some had even higher percentages of below-threshold athletes.

According to those academic experts, the threshold for being college-literate is a score of 400 on the SAT critical reading or writing test. On the ACT, that threshold is 16.

Many student-athletes scored in the 200s and 300s on the SAT critical reading test -- a threshold that experts told us was an elementary reading level and too low for college classes. The lowest score possible on that part of the SAT is 200, and the national average is 500.

On the ACT, we found some students scoring in the single digits, when the highest possible score is 36 and the national average is 20. In most cases, the team average ACT reading score was in the high teens.

"It is in many ways immoral for the university to even admit that student," said Dr. Richard M. Southall, director of the College Sport Research Institute and a professor at the University of South Carolina.

Scores aren't the whole story

Officials at the universities from which CNN collected data all said they recognized the low scores -- and gave several possible reasons for them:

-- Some athletes don't aim for high scores when taking entrance exams, looking only to score high enough to become NCAA eligible.

-- Many times, low scores are indicators of learning disabilities.

-- Entrance exams are just one factor taken into consideration when deciding whether to accept a student-athlete.

The officials also said they believe excellent tutoring and extra attention from academic support allows these athletes to excel off the field as well as on, and many cited the high graduation rates of athletes.

Robert Stacey, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, said the conversation should be about the achievement gap -- the difference between the academic levels of the athletes and their nonathlete peers at the same university.

"We know how to close the achievement gap. It's just very expensive," he said. "A student who scored a 380 on his or her (SAT) critical reading is going to face tremendous challenges, won't be able to compete the first year with a student who has a 650 or 700. But with intensive tutoring -- and I'm not talking about cheating, I'm talking about tutoring -- by the time they get to be juniors, they're competing. But it's a very expensive process. It takes intensive work."

But some of the universities from which CNN sought data didn't even have remedial classes for student-athletes to attend. Athletes, many times, take the field before they even get to a classroom. And even if, over time, they can be brought up to speed, how are they getting through the first few semesters?

We found one plausible explanation at Iowa State -- where the achievement gap between students and student-athletes was fairly low.

There, any athlete who is specially admitted -- they would not have gotten in on academics alone -- is mandated to start school in the summer term, where they are given remediation.

Tom Hill, senior vice president for student affairs, said it's done partly because the school recognizes that it is simply too much to ask athletes to jump into a tough schedule of practice and games, plus keep up classwork, especially if they are already academically behind.

"We'll provide them with support and help to begin the process to shore up deficiencies," Hill said. "It's not just throwing them in there."

Hill also said that Iowa State -- a land-grant university that takes many students from small, rural towns across the state -- doesn't separate academic support for athletes from the rest of the student population. Anyone can get the same tutoring as an athlete does.

Hill, who has a long background as an administrator in college athletics, said he is well aware of the practices of pushing athletes through at more competitive schools. And he is blunt about what he thinks of it.

"Those people who do that should be arrested," Hill said. "We should make it against the law. I know it happens. I've spent time in athletics."

Former and current academic advisers, tutors and professors say it's nearly impossible to jump from an elementary to a college reading level while juggling a hectic schedule as an NCAA athlete. They say the NCAA graduation rates are flawed because they don't reflect when a student is being helped too much by academic support.

"They're pushing them through," said Billy Hawkins, an associate professor and athlete mentor at the University of Georgia.

"They're graduating them. UGA is graduating No. 2 in the SEC, so they're able to graduate athletes, but have they learned anything? Are they productive citizens now? That's a thing I worry about. To get a degree is one thing, to be functional with that degree is totally different."

Hawkins, who says in his 25 years at various universities he's witnessed some student-athletes fail to meet college reading standards, added: "It's too much for students reading below a college level. It's basically a farce."

Gurney, who looked into the situation at the University of Oklahoma, put it bluntly: "College presidents have put in jeopardy the academic credibility of their universities just so we can have this entertainment industry. ... The NCAA continually wants to ignore this fact, but they are admitting students who cannot read.

"College textbooks are written at the ninth-grade level, so we are putting these elite athletes into classes where they can't understand the textbooks. Imagine yourself sitting in a class where nothing makes sense."

Risks and rewards

All of the university representatives we talked to deny that their tutors do too much work for student-athletes who come in at such low reading levels.

"I lose sleep about a lot of things; I don't lose sleep about writing tutors. We are extremely strict," said Brian Davis, associate athletics director for football student services at the University of Texas, acknowledging there were, of course, challenges.

"You have to minimize the risk as much as you can. If you're signing 20 (recruits), you can't have 30 to 50% extremely at risk. It puts way too much pressure on the system. That's when you get into more nefarious issues, and I'm very proud of how we've addressed the risk factors," Davis said.

There are anecdotes of student athletes who do succeed. Christine Simatacolos, the associate athletics director for student life at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, talks of a student whose low scores fell below the college literacy threshold but who graduated from Louisiana State University and is now in medical school.

But far more anecdotes of failure were recounted to CNN during our monthlong research.

Kadence Otto, who once taught at Florida State University, recalled one situation where an academic support tutor would call every week to check up on a starting player.

"I would say, 'He's not doing well. He can't read and write.' And (the tutor) said, 'Well, we'll see what we can do,'" Otto said. That stopped with a career-ending injury. "He's worth nothing to the team, and I never once heard back from the academic support adviser. He never showed up to class again, either."

Otto, who now teaches at Western Carolina University, says that experience had a big impact.

"That's one of the reasons I got into working in corruption in college sports. Sending messages that maybe they don't really care about the athletes as people," she said. And as for claims by institutions that they can bring poor readers up to speed with tutoring, she said: "Honestly, it feels to me it's like trying to turn a Little League Baseball player into a pro."

Periodically since the 1980s, stories have surfaced of athletes who could not read.

-- Former basketball player Kevin Ross told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" about his struggles at Creighton University in the 1980s.

-- In 1989, football player Dexter Manley told Congress that he got through college and into the pros without ever learning to read.

-- Dasmine Cathey's compelling story of struggle at the University of Memphis was recounted by The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2012.

And as far back as the 1980s, faculty and staff have spoken up about illiterate athletes who are pushed through with passing grades to keep up their eligibility to play, while their reading was little addressed.

Linda Bensel-Meyers, who worked for Tennessee until 2003, said a university-hired psychologist would diagnose learning disabilities in athletes and put them in a program without the graduation requirements set for other students.

"Many of the records I looked at revealed that these athletes came to us essentially illiterate and still left the school functionally illiterate," Bensel-Meyers told CNN.

When contacted by CNN, Tennessee did not answer questions.

Then there was Brenda Monk. In 2009, the former Florida State University learning specialist told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that she was forced to resign from the university as a cheating scandal surfaced in which the NCAA said that tutors were writing papers for athletes and giving them answers to test scores.

Monk denied the allegation that she did too much work for athletes, but she said she saw some of them reading at second- and third-grade levels.

The NCAA levied sanctions against Florida State in 2009, including vacating wins and reduced scholarships.

Florida State did not provide CNN with records in response to our request.

Change ahead?

In December, the Drake Group, which pushes for academic integrity in collegiate sports, organized a lobbying trip to Washington to push for an amendment to the College Education Act of 1965. Director Allen Sack said he wants to see a College Athlete Protection Act -- legislation that would keep athletes on the bench as freshmen if they are academically more than one standard deviation lower than the average student admitted to the university.

"That's unconscionable, to bring in a young athlete who does not fit in the general profile of the student body and have them play football on national television before they've entered the classroom for the first time in the fall," Sack said.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania introduced legislation in the House last year that calls for a complete overhaul of the NCAA. When he talked to CNN, he cited the lack of consistency in the way recent NCAA investigations into various improprieties were handled at Auburn, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, Ohio State and Penn State.

"I think (the NCAA) needs to be looked at. I think they need to be reined in," Dent said.

Mary Willingham went on the trip to Washington and said she came back feeling that they could make some progress in bringing change.

Others aren't so confident that a beast as big as collegiate athletics can be tamed.

CNN's Brian Rokus contributed to this report.

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