Monday, March 24, 2014

Everyone pays price of ID fraud

She had $4,000 of yet-to-be-billed charges from Bowling Green and Hendersonville, Tenn. on her card.

Johnson called the police in both cities. Bowling Green police went to Kohl's that night to check video surveillance. A woman, also named Dana Johnson, had used her own ID and Johnson's Social Security number to make purchases without physically having a Kohl's card with her.

"I don't know that I'll ever know how she got my information," Johnson said.

Johnson found that the other woman also had opened accounts and racked up $1,000 at Target in Hendersonville and $1,201.10 at Macy's in Bowling Green, and tried to open an account at TJ Maxx. Many of the purchases were jewelry and toddler clothes and toys r us credit card.

When Johnson asked a representative from Kohl's how the other Johnson had spent $4,000 on her Kohl's card when she has a $1,500 limit, the representative told her the woman had made a payment with a check. It wasn't until several days later that they found the check was bad.

Johnson called each store and the credit bureau to prove that the person who made those large purchases was not her.

"This made me furious. I was just absolutely appalled," Johnson said by phone from Louisville.

Kohl's even sent Johnson a thank you note for spending such a large amount. She said it was "like rubbing salt in the wound," even though the people responsible for sending those notes to customers likely had no idea her identity had been stolen.

Johnson said she has always been cautious with all identifying information, such as her SSN and credit card numbers.

It also was troubling that the other woman had given the stores Johnson's old home address from four years ago as the address to send the bills. If Kohl's hadn't notified Johnson about the fraudulent activity, the stores would have sent bills to Johnson's old address without her knowing for an even longer time. The woman also changed Johnson's date of birth on her credit report.

"This was definitely not her first go-round," Johnson said. "She knew what she was doing. ... She had a nice little shopping spree right before Christmas."

The same Dana Johnson who used the identity of Johnson in Louisville also used the identities of various other Dana Johnsons in the country, including Florida, Connecticut and Kansas.

Dana Johnson of Lake Worth, Fla., made an unsettling discovery Jan. 15 when she checked her credit card account and saw another card had been opened Jan. 9. It was from Ashley Furniture. When she called the company about it, they told her it was a small charge and not to worry about it. By the next day, there was a $10,000 charge to Ashley Furniture.

Additionally, $507 was put on a card at Victoria's Secret in Franklin, Tenn., and $4,553 on a card created at Target for which the limit had been set at $2,500. She was denied a card at Babies "R" Us because the birth date she gave didn't match the SSN.

"If she had pulled this in the fall, she could have messed up me buying my home," Johnson, who recently purchased a home with her husband, said by phone from Lake Worth.

Bowling Green police arrested Dana Albertha Johnson, 28, 3218 Silvercreek Ave., Apt A, on Jan. 10 and charged her with being a fugitive. She was released from jail Jan. 14. She was arrested again Jan. 17 and charged with one count of receiving stolen goods valued at more than $10,000 within a six-month period, fraudulent use of a credit card over $10,000 within a six-month period, 13 counts of identity theft, two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, receiving stolen goods valued at $500 or more but less than $10,000 within a six-month period, possession of stolen mail matter and receiving stolen property valued under $500.

She is in Warren County Regional Jail, awaiting her day in court.

Everybody pays

Brian Strow, an associate professor of economics at Western Kentucky University, said the individual victims of identity fraud aren't the only ones who pay a price.

"Identity fraud or fraud in general increases the cost of all items," Strow said.

Costs that companies incur by someone stealing another's identity and using that to make purchases have to be covered, Strow said. Companies often pass the costs onto customers.

Last year, there was a new victim of identity fraud every two seconds, totaling about 13.1 million, according to a report by Javelin Strategy & Research. That's about 500,000 more victims than in 2012.

"I think the increase in identity fraud has stemmed from an increase in online purchases," Strow said.

More traffic on Internet stores makes it easier for someone to hack information and use it fraudulently, Strow said.

The Javelin study showed 44 percent of all fraud involved online transactions.

"It's pretty hard to steal my identity if I'm going into a store and paying cash. There's no data," Strow said. "As soon as someone pays with a credit card, the door is now opened to steal that data."

Strow noted the security breach Target stores across the country experienced after Black Friday, during which numerous customers' credit card numbers were compromised. Strow said he believes Target and other retail stores used that incident as "a wake-up call" to increase security.

"It's in retailers' interest to make sure they offer secure online financial services," Strow said.

No matter how many precautions companies take, though, they can't guarantee protection of consumers' identities.

"The best thing is for each individual to be on their guard," Strow said.

Visiting and shopping on reputable websites and not responding to emails requesting credit card information are some ways people can prevent identity theft.

One-third of consumers who received a data breach notification in 2013 became a victim of fraud, according to the study. In 2011, it was one in five consumers.

Although there was an increase in the number of identity fraud victims from 2012 to 2013, identity thieves stole less money in 2013. In 2012, criminals stole $21 billion with another's identity. That amount fell to $18 billion in 2013.

Accounts on eBay and PayPal also are increasingly becoming targets of fraud. Thefts through eBay and PayPal accounts totaled about $5 billion in 2013, which was tripled from 2012, according to the study.

People committing fraud are growing more likely to take over existing bank or credit card accounts - such as Johnson's Kohl's card - than to open a new account using someone's personal information. In 2012, 24 percent of identity fraud losses occurred through existing bank or credit card accounts. A year later, 28 percent of identity fraud losses occurred in that way.

Since having her identity stolen, Dana Johnson of Louisville has fraud alerts placed with each of the credit bureaus associated with the stores where she has cards and where the other Johnson opened accounts. She also checks her reports often. Johnson is whittling down the amounts on her credit cards and is not opening any more at stores.

"That won't prevent (someone) from opening an account, but it's easier for me to monitor," Johnson said.

Dana Johnson in Lake Worth said she now refuses to put her SSN on anything, such as forms at the doctor's office. When she opens a card with a store, if it has a Visa or American Express logo on it, she'll send it back and ask for one that can only be used at the store and not for any other purchases.

Dana Johnson in Lake Worth said the feeling she had during the incident was like she was being punished for having good credit.

"It's just frustrating," she said. "You don't know the person, you don't care to know them, but you feel invaded. ... you're the one defending yourself when you've done nothing wrong."

The Dec. 13 and Dec. 14 shopping spree, allegedly conducted by Dana Albertha Johnson, has cost Johnson in Louisville a lot of time and hassle.

"I had excellent credit. Not sure I do anymore," she said.

Around the time of the incident, Johnson was making payments on some furniture, so she quickly paid it off and closed out the account before another Dana Johnson or someone else could use that information.

"I'm just fortunate I didn't have to make any big purchases right now or get a loan for anything," Johnson said.

Although Johnson is doing all she can to be even more cautious than she was before her identity was stolen, what happened was beyond her control.

"I'm not sure what I could've done differently to prevent this," Johnson said.

Things could have been much worse if the other woman had used more than just store credit cards, she added.

"I consider myself very lucky," Johnson said.

- Follow business beat reporter Monica Spees on Twitter at or visit

Friday, March 21, 2014

GDC 2014: A Quick Look at 'X-Men: Battle of the Atom'

<Best Dealsp>Already available on the App Store, X-Men: Battle of the Atom [ Free] is one of the legit countless free to play collectable card games out there. However, it's got some neat features that might make it worth a second look if you passed it up when it launched in mid-January. Namely, massive player versus player battles that actually require a bit of coordination and communication once you get deeper in:

I'm partial to games like SolForge [ Free] when it comes to these free to play CCG's, and with a release of Hearthstone potentially right around the corner it's hard to get that excited for anything else... But it's still cool to see developers mixing the formula up and including new mechanics- Especially when tied with recognizable IP.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Possible Super Doubles at Harris Teeter next week

The national coupon forums are abuzz with rumors that Harris Teeter will be having a Super Doubles coupon event next weeek, starting Wednesday, March 26.

This is unconfirmed, folks, but I wanted to give you a heads up so you have time to get prepared.

Your best course of action?

*Get your coupons clipped and filed.

*Check the Discount coupon sites for coupons that might make a good Super Double deal. Look for $1/1, $1.50/1 and $2/1 coupons, in particular.

*Load digital coupons from your Harris Teeter E-VIC account. These can be stacked with paper coupons for extra savings.

*Load digital coupons from SavingStar, Checkout 51 and Ibotta. These, too, can be used in conjunction with paper coupons and will snag you cash back to spend later.

I'll keep you updated here on the blog and have a long list of freebies and good deals for you just as soon as it's confirmed.

In other words, just as soon as someone actually sees the ad.

In the meantime, here are a few tips and tricks to a successful Super Doubles shop and Harris Teeter's coupon policy:

Harris Teeter's Super Double Coupon policy:

You may super double up to 20 coupons per day per household. No more than three identical coupons. No more than two identical Internet coupons. Coupons with a face value of up to and including $2 will double. That means a $1.50 coupon will double to $3. A $2 coupon will double to $4. A $2.50 coupon is still worth $2.50.

A few tips for a more successful Super Doubles shop:

If you want to score the best deals, I recommend arriving at your store about 6:30 a.m. That will give you a half hour to shop and you'll be ready to check out at 7 a.m. when the promotion officially begins.

Don't expect your "DO NOT Double/Triple" coupons to Super Double. Harris Teeter's policy states the chain won't double them but many stores do. If one happens to double, consider it a bonus.

Don't forget to load your digital coupons onto your Harris Teeter loyalty card because Harris Teeter welcomes the combined use of digital and paper coupons and that means extra savings. You'll find the link on your E-VIC customer email. Note: While the vast majority of digital coupon offers are the same, not everyone gets the identical set. The digital coupons are good on one purchase only.

Google Play Gift Cards Launch In Hong Kong, Spain Availability Next On The List

<Best Buyp>Google Play gift cards are only available in a handful of countries around the world, but now they have made their way into Hong Kong. Here they are on Google Play in increments of 200, 500, and 1000 Hong Kong dollars.

The cards are available for purchase in local stores, though the only retailer currently listed appears to be 7-Eleven. One reader has shared with us an image of them out in the wild.

Spain is the next country to make the list. Like Hong Kong a few days ago, the country is shown as "coming soon," but cards will ship in increments of 15 €, 25 €, and 50 € once they arrive.

Google Play Hong Kong

Friday, March 14, 2014

Don't discount education

<Deal Nowp> I agree with Diana Smith ("Career choice isn't singular," March 4) that finding a perpetual, realistic, single life path may be unattractive. It is also very unlikely today. Not having one is exciting. So is leaping from Mount Rainier in a whiteout without survival gear.

I grew up in the 1950s, when everybody seemingly had a job, and I was surely going to get one no matter what. Fortunately, I had a solid K-12 education that was my foundation for state college, graduate school and employment. My job quest with all of this preparation involved moving from coast to coast and north to south. I also got advanced training along the way.

Smith makes no acknowledgment that education plays any part in her awareness plan. I hope that she has acquired the intellectual skills to cope with the ever-changing employment landscape she is facing.

Actor Jamie Foxx said his grandmother told him to get his "tools for life" the day he went to kindergarten. This insightful and profound message propelled him to stardom. Students and parents need to demand that they get their tools from K-12 education. Otherwise, they may face an exciting life of unemployed awareness.

David Webb

Sunday, March 9, 2014

EHE Auctions and Expert Heavy Equipment Alike Have the Best Deals on the Same Type of Equipment Seen at the ConExpo-Con/Agg Show

League City, Texas (PRWEB) March 08, 2014

The construction trade show ConExpo-Con/Agg has returned to the Las Vegas Convention Center, transforming it into an adult playground filled with everything from crushers to cranes and massive tractors.

But representatives with EHE Auctions say its online auction platform is the key to getting a great deal, regardless of whether you're a buyer or seller.

"EHE Auctions offers turn-key, stress-free online marketplace for buying and selling used heavy construction, farm and industrial equipment along with commercial vehicles," said Milissa Wise, Director of Operations for Expert Heavy Equipment, the parent company of EHE Auctions, which is owned and operated by former Marines.

Wise went on to point out that although the ConExpo-Con/Agg Trade Show is one of the biggest trade shows in North America, in more ways than one, that does not necessarily mean that the very Review are there.

More than 2,400 exhibitors at the trade show are showcasing the latest equipment and technology from every major construction industry, attracting contractors from across the county.

According to media reports, it generates approximately $160 million in non-gaming revenue, drawing more than 125,000 guests. Some exhibitors even say that their annual sales quotas are met during the convention.

"My question for any buyer is do you want the best price for the best equipment?" Wise questioned. Wise went on to say that it's a great event to attend to see what's new, "but when it comes to getting the very best deal possible on used heavy construction, farm and industrial equipment, Expert Heavy Equipment and EHE Auctions are the two best resources, without the travel costs."

Wise noted that with its auction platform being online, the company is able to be extra flexible and provide additional options that may not be available at the ConExpo-Con/Agg Trade Show.

In fact, EHE Auctions has partnered with WeGoLook and National Equipment Registry (NER) in an effort to provide customers with peace of mind when bidding on used equipment online.

WeGoLook has agents that will take a complete set of photos and a video of the machine so everything is disclosed.

In addition, EHE Auctions has a partnership with NER provides IRONcheck reports to ensure the machines being offered are not stolen and have no outstanding liens.

For more information, please visit:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Nokia X Dual SIM Android Smartphone Available for Rs 8,499: Top 5 Attractive Online Deals

There are a number of Windows Phone devices that are rumored to be unveiled by the Finnish smartphone maker Nokia soon. While the good news for the Nokia fans around the world who have been waiting for an Android-based device from the same company for a long time is here as the company has recently announced a couple of affordable Android-based devices.

The smartphone series which come dubbed as Nokia X is in fact being rolled out currently. While in India the Nokia X Dual SIM handset is already available at the price of Rs. 8,500 via online stores. Thus today GizBot has come up with a number of Best Deals pertaining to the handset.

But before you jump on to the deals, take a look at the specs of the device. The Nokia X (Dual SIM) will come in Black, Green, Cyan, Yellow, Red and White color variants.

Recommended: Top 10 Best High-end Smartphones Available With EMI Offers In India

It comes packed with a 4-inch WVGA display having a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, 1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory. There's a 3MP fixed focus camera on the rear side of the device.

Besides being a dual SIM handset, it also supports 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS with A-GPS connectivity options. The makers have added a 1500mAh battery fitted inside. The Android 4.1 Jelly Bean powered handset also features FM Radio.

Take a look at the sliders:

Click Here For The New Nokia X Dual SIM Smartphone Photos Gallery Recommended: Top 10 Best Quad-Core Smartphones To Buy In March 2014

Eight ways to save more at the grocery store

Dollars don't stretch as far as they used to at grocery stores. Many products have either had prices go up or the size of the package has shrunk - both strain our grocery budgets.

Mommy blogger Andrea Deckard has three kids, so she looks for every way to save on groceries. She's sharing eight secrets for lower grocery bills on her blog,

1. Find out when your store marks down beef, bread, and other items

Find out from your local meat and produce managers, where you are shopping at, when they are reducing the prices on products they need to get out, because it's coming close to expiration.

2. Shop midweek, not Friday or Saturday

You'll find more sale items in stock.

3. Buy "in-season" fruits and veggies

They are cheaper and fresher than out-of-season veggies.

4. Switch to digital coupons

At Kroger, you can use certain e-coupons up to five times in a single transaction. Andrea suggests trying new apps like Favado: it lists all the current sales on your favorite items, like laundry soap. It allows you to have the sales literally on your phone. Andrea also likes "Coupon Sherpa," a great app to help you find the different Coupon that are available.

5. Print free coupons from and before you go to the store 6. Leave the endcaps alone

Those are for impulse buyers and are usually not the best deals.

7. Stock up on canned goods when they are 50 cents a can

They can last years.

8. Stick with store brands when you can't tell the difference

...Like with flour or canned corn. For produce and meat, less processed items are cheaper. The more cutting and packaging a product goes through, the more expensive it's going to be.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Macy's Inc: A Well-Positioned Stock In The Industry

macy's, Inc. ( M) is an omni-channel retail company that sells a range of merchandise such as men's, women's and children's apparel and accessories, cosmetics and other consumer goods. The company recently reported its Q4 FY 2013 financial results. The company's revenue during the last quarter of FY 2013 was $9.2 billion, down 1.6% in comparison to $9.35 billion in revenue during Q4 FY 2012 as well as the Wall Street estimate of $9.27 billion. However, the company reiterated its forecast for FY 2014, despite the decreased top line during Q4 of FY 2013. Therefore, I will analyze the company's FY 2013 top-line performance along with the initiatives the company is undertaking to improve its top line performance for FY 2014. I will also analyze the emerging trends in the retail industry to determine how the company's business model is well-aligned to those trends. This will indicate improvements in the company's top line in the coming years.

First, let us have a look at the company's top-line performance to date.

Top-line Performance Analysis

Source: M Quarterly Financial Results

The table above shows that the company recorded a 0.9% improvement in its total sales revenue for FY 2013. Q4 FY 2013 was the worst revenue performer since FY 2011 as the net revenue fell by 1.6% in contrast to Q4 2012. The company disclosed the fact that the harsh weather conditions and snow storms kept shoppers at home and was the reason behind the poor revenue performance of Q4 FY 2013. The fall in the sales in January hurt the overall sales of Q4 2013 and the snowy and cold weather in the U.S. forced 244 or 30% of the company's stores to close temporarily during January.

However, the company expects its business to normalize when the weather improves. The company's CEO expects customers to return to their usual shopping patterns once the weather gets warmer and spring merchandise reaches stores. The company has a full FY 2014 forecast for comparable sales growth of 2.5-3% while the company logged a 3.7% increase in full FY 2012 comparable store sales and a 1.9% increase in full FY 2013 comparable sales.

Now let us proceed in determining the future outlook of the company's top line.

Industry Trends for the Company

As per recent research, the millennials have become crucial to the U.S. retail industry. The millennials are the 82 million Americans who were born between the years 1985-2000. This generation is approaching an age that is forecast to change almost every feature of the U.S. economy. The millennials love to shop, spend around $600 billion per annum, and are projected to increase their retail spending to $1.4 trillion per annum by the year 2020. That would mean 30% of total retail sales in the region will be generated by millennials. The alteration in the industry is due to the fact that this group of people has different shopping habits that are savvier than their predecessors. They make their purchasing decisions based on social experiences and use online channels and phones to make their purchases. They have access to retailers around the globe and compare the prices and features of desired products in order to make an informed choice of what they need to buy.

As a result of this trend it is expected that around 15% of U.S. malls will be turned into non-retail space or fail totally within the next 10 years according to Green Street Advisors. Retail advisors forecast that 50% of America's retail centers will shut down within the next 15-20 years. Showrooms and retail outlets will experience the effects of "webrooming" meaning more and more consumers are window shopping online before coming to store and have an explicit idea in mind of what they want to buy. As a result, retailers and brands need to reform their supply chain strategies to match this shift in consumer demand.

Macy's Inc.'s omni-channel retail business model is in-line with evolving industry trends. This will benefit the company in the coming years as the forecasted change in the industry and consumer preferences outlined above will materialize.

Company's Omni-channel Business Model: In-line with Changing Industry Trends

Omni-channel retailing is the advancement of multi-channel retailing. It is more focused on a unified approach to the consumer experience, offering goods and services through all available shopping channels such as mobile internet devices, computers, television, direct mail, catalog and so on. In this retail model, the retailer trails the customers across all channels and becomes aware of the customer's desires and choices. As a result, marketing become more efficient with offers that address specific consumer preferences determined by purchase patterns, social network communication, website visits, and other data mining techniques. This enhances the consumer's experience through all channels and research shows that omni-channel shoppers spend 15-30% more in comparison to multi-channel shoppers and display strong brand loyalty, often swaying others to support a brand.

According to a global survey, just 7% of the survey population around the globe is extremely content with the omni-channel customer service offered to them by brands. The remaining population (87%) suggests that brands need to struggle harder to create a smooth customer experience. This means that there is room for improvement for other retailers and Macy's has directed its investments to further enhance its services.

Strategies that will Enhance the Company's Business Model and Top-line Closure of Stores and Other Strategies

Source: M Store Information

The table above shows that the company has recorded a net decline in its store count and gross square footage during FY 2011-2013. Instead, the company is investing in enhancing its sales growth through strategies focused on maximizing the My Macy's localization initiative; improving the omni-channel business; and improving customer centricity, including appealing to customers on the selling floor through the MAGIC selling program.

Through the My Macy's localization initiative, the company has invested in talent, technology, and marketing that will ensure that core customers in each Macy's store finds merchandise and shopping experiences that are tailored to their needs. My Macy's has provided more local decision-making in every Macy's community. The chain stood out among its rivals during the economic downturn as it benefited from its strategies to tailor merchandise to local markets.

The company's omni-channel strategy allows customers to shop impeccably in stores, online, and via mobile devices. A crucial part of the company's omni-channel strategy is the company's capability to permit associates in any store to sell a product that may be unavailable locally by ordering merchandise from other stores or online fulfillment centers for delivery to the customer's door. The situation is also true vice versa as the company's online fulfillment centers can retrieve store inventories to satisfy online orders. On February 2nd, 2013, 292 Macy's stores were satisfying in-store and online orders from other stores. This is a rise from 23 Macy's stores using this strategy on January 28th, 2012.

The company has been investing heavily to beef up its e-commerce capabilities and has disclosed that it would spend about $1 billion on capital projects in FY 2013. The company has announced it was cutting jobs to carry out reorganization and support profitability. However, its total number of employees will remain around 175,000 since the company will add new staff in areas linked to online shopping. Sales from the company's internet business rose by 41.0% in FY 2012 and 39.6% in FY 2011.

Macy's MAGIC selling program is a strategy to enhance customer engagement and will also assist Macy's in better understanding the needs of customers, as well as to provide options and guidance. This inclusive and ongoing training program is designed to enhance the in-store shopping experience.

Final Remarks

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Richard Jaffe believes that Macy's is in a better position than most peers to gain market share in the coming years. This will be due to the fact that the company's business model and strategies have been altering the industry by focusing on customer trends and preferences. The emerging trend in the industry indicates the need for an omni-channel business model in the coming years to run successful retail businesses as customers prefer more analysis before shopping. This is because of more access to online platforms and is likely to decrease the need for brick and mortar outlets. As a result, the company is reducing its investment focus on stores and is investing more to enhance its online channels. Due to these factors, I can see the company's growth in the coming years and I believe that makes it a worthy investment.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Atmospheric Adventure Game 'Forma.8' Gets a New Trailer, Now Set to Release on Multiple Platforms

<Price Comparep>Dig into your memory banks, all the way back to E3 in June 2012, and developer Mixed Bag announced a new iOS action-adventure game called Forma.8. We got a brief demo of Forma.8 at that show, and its striking visuals and atmosphere really caught our attention. I'd describe the visual style as Badland meets Another World. The following January, Mixed Bag released a trailer for the game, but things went sort of silent after that. Then this past October, Mixed Bag resurfaced to release some new screens and let everyone know that Forma.8 was still in the works but no firm release date was in sight. Well, today we've gotten word that Forma.8 is still alive and well, and now it's a multi-platform title. There is also a new trailer which you can check out here.

Forma.8 continues to look better and better every time I see it, and I'm still anxious as ever to get my hands on it. As for platforms, it'll be coming to iOS of course, PS4, PSVita, Wii U, PC, Mac and Linux. It's also up for approval on Steam Greenlight. Unfortunately, there's still no solid release date for Forma.8, but Mixed Bag will be showing off the title at the EGX Rezzed convention at the end of March. It sounds like it's just about complete, so here's to hoping it's not too long of a wait until we can dive into its mysterious world.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday Insert Round Up

P&G, Smartsource and Redplum all have new coupon booklets today with $348 of savings inside.

There are new coupons from these retailers available today:

*Extra 15% off entire regular and sale priced home purchase

*50% + 30% off custom framing

*40% off any regular priced item

AC Moore is also celebrating National Craft Month throughout March, so you'll find doorbuster sales with BOGO promotions and many items at least 50% off throughout the store.

*40% off any regular priced item

*40% off entire regular priced purchase of Recollections Stickers & Embellishments

There are also many products 50% off throughout the store this week, during the Half Off for Spring sale.

*15% off entire cleaning and breakroom purchase

*$20 off select phones

*$50 off chairs regularly priced $169 or more

*Extra 15% off apparel, shoes, accessories, fine jewelry and home purchases

*Extra 10% off watches, furniture, mattresses and custom blinds/shades

There are also these nice offers from these retailers this week:

Seniors Day is coming up at Walgreens on March 4. That Tuesday seniors can get 20% off Walgreens, W Brand, Nice! and Well Beginning products, plus 15% off almost everything else.

Many P&G products, like Cascade, Febreze and Swiffer, are 20% off in the store this week. Save even more by combining the sale prices with the P&G coupons in today's paper.

Need to stock the medicine cabinet? Well at Walgreens brand items in the pharmacy are buy one, get one half-off this week.

The CVS Coupon Center has a coupon offering $1 off select P&G products, $1 off three Glade products and $2 off vitamins, all of which can be stacked with manufacturer coupons.

If you're suffering from dry, winter skin check out the buy one, get one half-off sale on skincare products.

Some Easter candy is free after ExtraBucks this week, including Gold Emblem jelly beans, Cadbury single and mini eggs, and Hershey's eggs or bunnies. Other items are on sale for as low as 2/$1 and 4/$5.

Target is hosting an early sale on swimwear, with pieces as low as $14 for women, $8 for kids and $16 for men. Other warm weather goodies, like flip flops, sunglasses and canvas shoes are buy one, get one half-off.

Don't miss the great coupon on the last page of today's ad: $20 off select household purchase of $50 or more. This includes air care (Air Wick and Glade products), select bath tissue, select cleaners and dish soaps, laundry care, and select cleaning products.

Remember, all of these ads may not appear in your paper. However, many retailers post their ads and coupons online, so always check there if you're interested in finding out more details. You can also get Review at these websites: SmartSource , , Coupon Network , and

Tuesday, February 25, 2014



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Electricity Grid and Markets Need Fixing By MARC BROWN This has been a cold winter, and rate payers shouldn't expect their electricity costs to thaw anytime soon. Wholesale electricity prices [...]


Monday, February 3, 2014

Yevhen Konoplyanka: Liverpool deal now 'very unlikely' to take place, according to player's agent

"We have a very good relationship with the president and he doesn't want to sell the player," agent Oliver Cabrera said.

"Yehven and his father respect that so a move is very unlikely."

Former Arsenal and Ukraine defender Oleg Luzhny had earlier cast doubt over Konoplyanka's ability to settle in the Premier League.

"When you play in the Ukraine, you can afford not to run," Luzhny said.

"In the match against France, it was evident that Konoplyanka barely runs at all. Konoplyanka is a good player, but he is suited to Spain or Italy, not England.

"I don't think the English league is right for him. The game in England is totally different - it's about power. You have to run back and forth, back and forth.

"You run at speed up and down, and it's like that for 90 minutes."

Spurs, rumoured to be in contention to sign the Ukrainian, have since pulled out of the race.

When asked what percentage he would put on them signing anyone before the Friday night 11pm deadline, the Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood said: "Zero."

"Daniel (Levy) asked if I want to strengthen in this area or need any help, but I'm confident with the players we've got," he revealed.

"I don't need anyone else, thank you very much."

Reds managing director Ian Ayre has been in Ukraine for a number of days hoping to broker a Amazon Deal Online for Dnipro's 24-year-old playmaker and believed he was close to concluding the transfer until Tottenham entered the race.

If the Reds are to succeed, they will need to part with at least £15m.

Konoplyanka is rumoured to earn in the region of £100,000-a-week and talks were ongoing with the Ukrainian club, who are bankrolled by billionaire owner Kolomoyskyi.

Rodgers is especially keen to sign the midfielder after missing out on Mohamed Salah to Chelsea last week and has ordered Ayre to prioritise the deal above everything else.

"There is no update yet," Rodgers said. There is obviously an interest in the player, but there is no update.

"We'll see how it evolves. It is obviously a little complicated, but the staff that are over there have done brilliant work in terms of giving us every chance to get a player.

"So we will just have to see how that develops over the course of the day.

"It has all happened very quickly. Obviously the timeline on everything makes it tight."

Who Liverpool have been linked with in this window

Friday, January 31, 2014

Sales of $1-million-plus homes went through the roof in California

Crowned by the sale of a Malibu estate for $74.5 million, the number of houses sold last year at $1 million and above statewide jumped to a six-year high, according to real estate information service DataQuick.

In the strongest showing, the number of homes sold at $2 million and up set state, Southern California and L.A. County records.

"The luxury market did bounce back last year," said housing market analyst Paul Habibi, a real estate lecturer at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. "A lot of people were stepping back into the waters."

Among them were lucrative investors looking for a place to park their dividends.

"The stock market lined the pockets of high-end buyers," Habibi said. "That translated into home purchases."

Appreciation-fueled gains in home equity allowed others who had been waiting On Sales the sidelines to move up to bigger and better digs, releasing pent-up demand from recent years.

"It's a herd mentality," said Westside Estate Agency co-founder Stephen Shapiro, who last year saw well-priced homes drawing multiple bidders. "When people start paying more for houses, other people don't mind paying more."

Statewide, 39,145 homes changed hands for $1 million or more in 2013, up 45% from the year before and the best showing since 2007, DataQuick said. This slice of the market outpaced overall sales, which were essentially the same as in 2012, down only 0.6%.

An all-time high of 7,383 homes sold in the state at the $2-million-and-above mark, up 33% from the 5,536 that changed hands in 2012. Southern California broke a record with 4,514 sales at $2 million and above, and L.A. County also eclipsed previous highs with 2,628 sales.

In L.A.'s ultra-luxury market, locals, foreigners, flippers and celebrities came to the party, with billionaires playing musical houses in the $20-million-and-up price range.

Oaktree Capital Management Chairman Howard Marks had the priciest sale statewide, unloading his 9.5-acre estate in Malibu in an off-market deal for $74.5 million. The beachfront property includes a 15,000-square-foot main house, two guesthouses, a gym and a swimming pool.

Just down the street, "Karate Kid" producer Jerry Weintraub had the next highest 2013 sale for L.A. County, based on public record searches conducted by and Coldwell Banker. His bluff-top seven-acre compound, with two guesthouses, a swimming pool, a tennis court and a guardhouse, sold for $41 million.

"Our market has finally caught up with what is happening globally," said Coldwell Banker's Bobby Syed, who brokered an off-market deal last year of a 12,000-square-foot Beverly Hills estate priced in the $37-million to $39-million range. "A lot of foreign money is coming in, particularly to Beverly Hills and Bel-Air, which are still very cheap by comparison" to other major cities.

The 2.5-acre property he sold boasts a large flat area and expansive vistas, Syed said. "It was the biggest view from here to Taiwan," he said.

He represented the buyers and the sellers, who had bought the property in the 1970s from actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Serial house buyer and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was among celebrities who did their part to push high-end home sales, buying a 13-acre estate centered on a Tuscan-style villa in Santa Barbara County's Toro Canyon that had been listed at $26.5 million.

She then started this year off with another big purchase, snagging a modernist trophy home on the Westside for $39.9 million.

Madonna pitched in too, ditching her 1.25-acre compound in Beverly Hills for $19.5 million.

Getting in on the high-end home-flipping act was retired actor Kristoffer Winters, who renovates homes with actor Jeremy Renner. Winters and his investors raked in $24 million for a mansion on two acres in Holmby Hills. The Roaring '20s Art Deco-style house, reached by a cobblestone driveway, includes five fireplaces, six bedrooms, 11 bathrooms and 10,005 square feet of living space.

Statewide, areas with the highest number of sales at $1 million-plus were led by Manhattan Beach, Hillsborough and La Jolla. Brentwood and Beverly Hills came in sixth and seventh, respectively.

In some communities, such as Santa Monica, Rancho Santa Fe, Atherton and Los Altos, almost all home sales were in the $1-million-and-up category, partly because of rising prices.

"A lot of homes have just popped up over the $1-million mark with appreciation," said DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage. Twitter: @LATHotProperty

US says Syria must comply with chemical arms deal

<Amazon Salesp>BEIRUT (AP) — The United States accused the Syrian government Thursday of using stalling tactics to delay efforts to remove and destroy chemical agents, an indication that the international community's patience is wearing thin over the slow pace of the operation.

The comments, delivered by the U.S. representative to the international chemical weapons watchdog, marked some of the strongest public criticism of Syria's commitment to relinquish its chemical stockpile.

Syria agreed to surrender its arsenal after a deadly chemical attack in August on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus raised the threat of punitive U.S. missile strikes. President Barack Obama has touted the agreement as a victory and a major policy achievement for his administration on Syria's intractable civil war.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is leading the mission to eliminate Syria's 1,300-metric ton stockpile by a June 30 deadline.

Under the OPCW's tight timeline, the most toxic chemicals in Syria's arsenal were to have been removed from the country by Dec. 31, but that deadline was missed due to poor security amid Syria's raging civil war as well as other factors. So far, just two small consignments of chemicals have been shipped out.

"The effort to remove chemical agent and key precursor chemicals from Syria has seriously languished and stalled," Robert Mikulak told the OPCW's 41-nation executive council in a closed-door meeting. His remarks were later posted on the State Department's website.

Mikulak, who is the U.S. representative to the OPCW, acknowledged that the timeline for the removal of Syria's most dangerous chemicals was ambitious, but he expressed frustration that a month after the deadline "only 4 percent" of the chemicals has been removed "and the Syrian government will not commit to a specific schedule for removal."

He called on Damascus to comply with the U.N. resolution for Syria to relinquish its chemical stockpile.

According to the OPCW timeline, all but 100 tons of chemicals are to be removed by Feb. 5 — a deadline that surely will not be met.

Mikulak said Damascus has cited security concerns for the delay in transporting the chemicals to the port city of Latakia for destruction abroad. But he dismissed Syria's insistence on receiving additional security equipment, such as armored jackets for shipping containers and high-tech electronics, to secure the convoys, saying the demands were "without merit."

"Syria's requests for equipment and open-ended delaying of the removal operation could ultimately jeopardize the carefully timed and coordinated multi-state removal and destruction effort," he added. "For our part, the international community is ready to go."

An American ship, the MV Cape Ray, is on its way to the Mediterranean Sea to pick up the most toxic chemicals in Syria's stockpile, including mustard gas and raw materials for making sarin nerve agent. The Cape Ray is equipped with two machines that will render the chemicals them inert.

Danish and Norwegian cargo ships are picking up the chemicals from Latakia and will transfer them to the Cape Ray in the Italian port of Gioia Tauro.

"There should be no doubt that responsibility for the lack of progress and increasing costs rests solely with Syria," Mikulak said.

The Syrian government had no immediate comment.

The mission to rid Syria of its chemical arsenal is one layer in the country's exceedingly complex and bloody civil war. The conflict, which began in March 2011 as largely peaceful protests before shifting into an armed insurgency, has killed more than 130,000 people, forced 2.3 million to seek refuge abroad and unleashed a devastating humanitarian crisis at home and across the region.

On Thursday, the United Nations delivered hundreds of relief parcels to a besieged rebel-held Palestinian neighborhood in the Syrian capital that has suffered from crippling shortages of food and medicine for months.

The Yarmouk camp, located on the southern edge of Damascus, is one of the hardest-hit of a number of opposition enclaves under tight blockades imposed by pro-government forces. Activists said Wednesday that at least 85 people had died in Yarmouk since mid-2013 as a result of starvation and illnesses exacerbated by hunger or lack of medical aid.

Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the U.N.'s UNRWA agency that supports Palestinian refugees, said a convoy carrying 900 food parcels entered Yarmouk on Thursday morning. He added that despite "chaotic scenes," by noon 720 parcels had been distributed.

"We are encouraged by the delivery of this aid and the cooperation of the parties on the ground," Gunness said, adding that 18,000 Palestinians, including women and children, were in need of assistance.

Anwar Raja, a Palestinian official in Syria, said a number of elderly people also were to be evacuated from Yarmouk.

In the nearby suburb of Daraya, meanwhile, Syrian army helicopters dropped barrels packed with explosives and fuel, killing at least 11 people, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

In a new report released Thursday, Human Rights Watch accused the government of using controlled explosions and bulldozers to raze thousands of residential buildings, in some cases entire neighborhoods, in a campaign that appeared designed to punish civilians sympathetic to the opposition or to cause disproportionate harm to them.

The demolitions took place between July 2012 and July 2013 in seven pro-opposition districts in and around the capital, Damascus, and the central city of Hama, according to a 38-page report by Human Rights Watch. The New York-based group said the deliberate destruction violated international law, and called for an immediate end to the practice.

The report includes satellite images of the neighborhoods before and after the demolitions, providing a window on the scale of the destruction.

Buildings in the Hama neighborhood of Masha al-Arbaeen, a wedge-shaped district bordered by highways on three sides, are clearly visible in a photo dated Sept. 28, 2012. In a second photo from Oct. 13, the buildings have been pulverized into a white smudge, while the adjacent neighborhoods remain untouched.

The government also has been accused of using airstrikes and rocket attacks indiscriminately against residential areas.

In a video from last week, men frantically dug through rubble after an alleged airstrike in Aleppo and unearthed a toddler, still alive and with her face covered in dust. The rescuers chanted "God is greatest" as they pulled Ghina Khalil from the smashed building. The video — — corresponded with Associated Press reporting of the events depicted.


Associated Press writers Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, and Bassem Mroue and Yasmine Saker in Beirut contributed to this report.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Deal: European, Asian Stocks Endure Another Down Day

LONDON ( The Printable Coupons) -- The global stock market rout persisted on Thursday, with European and Asian indices down, after the Federal Reserve taper decision Wednesday conspired with a weak reading from a gauge of Chinese manufacturing to feed fears about an emerging markets meltdown.

The Fed on Wednesday cut its monthly bond buying program by $10 billion to $65 billion, in line with expectations, with Chairman Ben Bernanke making generally upbeat comments about the U.S. economy in his final statement as boss of the central bank.

On Thursday in China, the HSBC Bank and Markit Economics Purchasing Managers' index slowed in January for the first time in six months to 49.5, slightly less than a preliminary estimate and down from 50.5 in December. HSBC attributed the slowdown to both weaker export orders and slower domestic business.

But in Germany, government figures showed that unemployment fell far more than expected in January, declining 28,000 compared with a forecast decrease of 5,000. The unemployment rate held firm at 6.8%. Separately, an index of eurozone economic sentiment in January came in just short of forecasts.

By mid-morning in Europe, the FTSE was down 0.33% at 6,522.98, the DAX had lost 0.32% to 9,306.96, and the CAC 40 had tumbled 0.43% to 4,139.05.

China is preparing to start a fortnight of festivities to celebrate the lunar New Year, which begins Friday, but recent corporate results have showed a government clampdown on excessive consumption and gift-giving within state-backed enterprises and public agencies is bringing unhappiness to Western consumer goods makers.

On Thursday, Treasury Wine Estates lost a fifth of its market value in Sydney trading after the Australian company warned profit in the first half could fall by 40% or more, partly because of Chinese austerity measures. It said it won't be able to claw back the profit shortfall in the second half, and has therefore lowered its full-year guidance to A$190million to A$210 million ($165.9 million to $183.5 million) from a forecast A$230 million to A$250 million previously.

Meanwhile in London, spirits maker Diageo DEO declined after posting first-half earnings that fell short of expectations. It cited weak sales of Chinese white spirits, or baijiu, as a factor that had suppressed emerging markets growth. Net sales of that liquor plummeted 66%.

In Sweden wireless network equipment maker Ericsson ERIC rose after fourth-quarter profit exceeded expectations and CEO Hans Vestberg rebuffed talk he may quit to take the helm at Microsoft.

And in Frankfurt, chipmaker Infineon Technologies led the gainers on the DAX after issuing a second-quarter sales growth projection that was more optimistic than analysts' own numbers.

In Hong Kong, PC maker Lenovo Group ended the last session before the Chinese New Year break down more than 8% after announcing its second big-ticket purchase from a U.S. technology company within a week. Lenovo is to pay $2.91 billion for Google's GOOG Motorola Mobility unit to gain hardware for smartphones. The deal unwinds part of Google's $12.4 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility in 2012 but the Mountain View, Calif. company gets to keep most of the all-important patents. For Lenovo, the acquisition comes just after it agreed to pay $2.3 billion for the low-power server business of International Business Machines and breaks its own week-old record for a Chinese technology deal.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 plummeted 2.45% to 15,007.06. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng closed down 0.48% at 22,035.42. Hong Kong trading takes a break for new year festivities on Friday and Monday.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sideshow Collectibles Coupons 2014: $10 off Promo Codes + Free Shipping

<Deal Nowp>

Fargo, ND -- ( SBWIRE) -- 01/20/2014 -- Sideshow Collectibles, set up in 1994, is one of the largest retailers of collectibles from popular films, television and comic book icons. The company which also has an online store features the most sought-after licensed collectibles and allows people to connect with their stars with ease. This California based enterprise is famous for its original and limited edition statues and busts, while celebrity enthusiasts can also buy film prop replicas and fine art pieces from their favorite movies, television shows and comic books series. The company not only manufactures almost all types of celebrity collectibles with an effort of a great team, but also retails the collectibles at an extremely cheaper price which makes it impeccably famous in the worldwide community of figural art enthusiasts. This year, the store is celebrating their 20th anniversary and is offering huge discount on its entire range of collectibles. Here are a few things about this online store, which would make the shopping experience even smoother.

- Click to Save $10 off Coupon Code

- Click to Get 40% off Discounts

- Click for Free Shipping Promotion

- Click and See All Coupons

How to make an order?
The easy to use user interface of this online store ensures a secure and pleasurable shopping experience for shoppers. Users can simply browse the brands and characters and select the product they want to buy. After selecting the product, the shopper has to hit the "Buy Now" tab, which will redirect him to the checkout window of the retailer's website. Users can add more products to their cart; however they can also close the order by making the payment.

What is the shipping policy?
The store ships internationally on the next business day from the date of purchase. The store features numerous shipping modes, and shoppers have to select one shipping mode at the time of checkout. Price and delivery time for all these shipping modes differ, so read carefully before making the selection. There are numerous products which fall under the free shipping policy of the store. So while shopping their favorite collectible, the shoppers can also save the shipping fee.

What's the return policy?
In case the shopper is not happy with the delivered product, goods purchased from this online store can be returned with the shipping receipt intact in original packaging to the store.

What are the discounts offered by the online store?
This online store keeps on releasing plenty of deals and shopping deals for their customers throughout the year. These offers are updated through, which keeps on updating them on a timely manner. is one of the leading coupon providers for almost all online stores shipping to the United States of America. The most popular coupon entries can be easily browsed across the "Popular" section on the home page, whereas another section named "New Releases" on the home page of OoHey, allows shoppers to find the most recent coupons entries. Specific coupons applicable on a particular store can be found by searching with the store name in the search-box at the top of the home page of OoHey. Hit the "view code" tab to get the coupon code, and then copy paste it to space left to add 'Promotional Code' or 'Coupons' on the checkout page of the retailer's website and the discounted price would get reflected in the final cart value instantly. Numerous other shopping deals are also available on OoHey, which allows users to find all products qualifying for a deal, listed on a single web page on the retailer's website. Shoppers can also subscribe to the newsletter of OoHey and get regular updates about recent coupon entries right in their inbox.

Users can avail the $10 off coupon code at which is applicable on all orders made at this online store. also features the Up To 40% off deal on the original prices of the collectibles with OoHey, while the Free Shipping Promotion is another great deal one could enjoy with OoHey. These deals and offers are updated regularly, so users can find numerous new listings for this online store throughout the year. Enjoy maximum savings with while shopping the most awesome collectibles.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Best E Cigarette Starter Kit Coupon Codes Announced by EsmokeHub

Deerfield Beach, FL -- ( SBWIRE) -- 01/17/2014 -- E cigarette Amazon Deal Online is basically a code which smokers have to enter while they buy an e cigarette online and checkout to process the order for availing an instant discount on the complete purchase. This coupon code is offered separately by many e cigarette brands on their different e cigarette products like starter kits, cartridge packs, accessories and sometimes on the overall e cigarette products. But smokers usually prefer starter kit coupon codes as these kits are a bit higher in price compared to other e cigarette products and by availing this smokers can gain good discount on starter kits. And the e cigarette brand offering the Best E Cigarette Starter Kit Coupon Codes recommended by the experts is V2 Cigs. Experts have recommended this brand especially as they are sure about the best quality of e cigarettes offered through coupon code.

Click Here To Know More About The Top Electronic Cigarette Kits Online.

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About is an e cigarette review website that provides information about best e cigarette brands for e cigarette smokers. The website aims at providing latest and recent updates abut top e cigarette brands for smokers.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Financial firms look to Chinese New Year

CIMB Thai Bank has a new fixed-deposit campaign to welcome the upcoming chinese free new year cards New Year, offering an interest rate of 2.88 per cent per annum for an eight-month time deposit.

Senior executive vice president Adisorn Sermchaiwong yesterday said depositors could withdraw interest without waiting for the full maturity period. The minimum deposit required is Bt50,000.

The eight-month fixed deposit is an option for retired customers and those who prefer withdrawing interest for their daily spending, he said, adding that depositors can readily access details of the amount of interest they have accrued since the first day of their deposit.

"We have launched an attractive campaign, starting with the Chinese New Year, as we want to expand our customer base. We aim to get 2,000 to 3,000 new customers from the campaign," he said.

AEON Thana Sinsap (Thailand), a leading credit-card and personal-loan provider, yesterday launched the "Gold Loan for Chinese New Year 14" promotion. The promotion will be available at all participating stores and will offer AEON cardholders an exclusive deal for gold purchases. For purchases of Bt19,000 or above, customers will be able to make repayments at a special interest rate of 0.99 per cent per month, within a six-, nine- or 12-month period of their choice.

The promotion runs until |February 28.

Meanwhile, Kasikornbank (KBank) and ICC International, a leading consumer-products company, are jointly offering special discounts for more than 60 brands at ICC's Brand Shops and ICC counters in branches of Central Department Store when spending via the co-branded His & Her - KBank credit card.

Thammarat Chokwatana, executive vice president of ICC International, said the company would also present an Ang Pao red envelope worth between Bt100 and Bt1,000 to shoppers who spend via their His & Her - KBank credit cards.

The promotion runs until |March 15.

Chatchai Payuhanaveechai, executive vice president of KBank, said the bank needed to launch special campaigns for its credit cards in order to drive spending during the current quarter.

Spending via its credit cards last month showed a year-on-year drop of 10-20 per cent, even though cardholders purchased Bt7 billion-worth of long-term funds and retirement mutual funds by credit card during the period, he said.

Transaero Airlines started Discount Class

Jan 18, 2014

Transaero Airlines started to offer a new low-cost product called Coupon Codes Class.
Discount class is offered on certain Transaero flights from Moscow Domodedovo airport on a number of popular domestic and international routes including those to London, Berlin, Vienna, Barcelona, Rome, Milan, Tel Aviv, Vilnius, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Kaliningrad, Kemerovo, Krasnodar, Mineralnye Vody, Novosibirsk, Novy Urengoy, Omsk, Perm, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saint Petersburg, Sochi, Stavropol, Ufa, Khanty-Mansiysk, Kiev, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Astana, Almaty, Karaganda, Yerevan, Antalya.

During the first day of the service launch, the airline carried about 5,000 passengers on 54 Discount Class flights on Boeing 737 and Tu-214 aircraft.

All seats on specified flights are sold according to Discount Class rules. The ticket fares include, in accordance with the Russian Federal Aviation Rules, free drinks and food or meals depending on flight length. Passengers are also offered a choice of newspapers and an opportunity to buy duty-free goods onboard. However, Discount Class passengers won't be able to order special meals. Passengers on these flights can carry 10, 15 or 20 kilos of luggage, depending on tariff of the purchased ticket.

Members of the Transaero Privilege frequent flyer programme may earn points travelling in Discount Class at a 50% rate. They can also get reward tickets for these flights.

The new product by Transaero Airlines guarantees a reasonable balance of comfort and affordable ticket prices.

Transaero Airlines is the second-largest passenger airline in Russia. Transaero launched its services in November, 1991. Transaero has the largest long-haul fleet in Russia, CIS and Eastern Europe. Transaero's fleet consists of 98 predominantly Boeing aircraft. It is the only commercial carrier in Russia that placed orders for Airbus A380, Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, Airbus A-320neo aircraft. According to the German JACDEC, Transaero ranks among the top 30 safest carriers in the world. Transaero serves more than 200 routes in Russia, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Transaero has been named the World's Most Improved Airline at the Skytrax 2013 Awards. Transaero was voted the Best Airline in EMEA by Frequent Business Traveler, US online publication.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sprint Officially Announces Easy Pay As Replacement for OneUp

sprint one up-logo.jpg">After being buried in the push to announce its group plan in Sprint Framily, Sprint has officially announced the launch of its EasyPay installment plan, which will replace the Sprint OneUp program. Sprint customers who want to upgrade devices more frequently will now need to enroll in the Easy Pay program, which is being offered for a limited time.

The program requires customers to pay off the balance of their existing handset, then choose a new phone by making a down payment on the device followed by 24 equal payments to cover the cost of the phone. Unlike similar programs by Verizon and T-Mobile, customers have the option of keeping their old device or selling it back to Sprint via its Buyback program and Easy Pay is also compatible with the Sprint Framily program.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ex-Ravens running back Damien Berry denies putting Super Bowl ring up for sale

Former Ravens running back Damien Berry denied putting his Coupon Code Bowl XLVII ring up for sale, telling The Baltimore Sun that the pending auction wasn't authorized by him.

Berry said a friend put the ring up for sale without his knowledge, selling the ring to an undisclosed third party that later sold it to Goldin Auctions.

"I would never knowingly sell my Super Bowl ring," Berry said. "I'm not that kind of guy. That's not me. The ring means a lot to me and I want to do whatever it takes to get it back. This isn't what I'm about."

However, Ken Goldin, the founder of Goldin Auctions, told The Baltimore Sun on Saturday night that he has a copy of a sales agreement with Berry that includes witnessed, notarized documents for a chain of custody that will be made available to the winning bidder of an online auction conducted through

Goldin said that his company conducts extensive research and verification of all items, and wouldn't sell anything that it's not authorized to make available for auctions.

A source familiar with Goldin Auctions' business practices said the company conducts extensive background checks to ensure that there's paperwork backing up the legality of all sales.

The minimum bid for Berry's ring -- pictured here on the Goldin Auctions website -- is $15,000. As of Saturday night, the highest of five bids was $36,603.

A former University of Miami player, Berry spent the 2012 season on injured reserve with the Ravens before being cut prior to the start of the 2013 regular season.

Berry expressed embarrassment about the ring being up for sale.

"This isn't a good look, I know that, but I swear this didn't start with me," Berry said. "I have a lawyer who's working with me to try to get the ring back. I was shocked when people starting coming at me on Twitter about what's up with my Super Bowl ring. It's definitely upsetting, but everything will be all right."

The winter auction also includes former Ravens linebacker Jamie Sharper's Super Bowl XXXV ring, former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis' 2000 Super Bowl trophy and former Baltimore Colts defensive back and kick returner Leonard Lyles' 1958 NFL championship ring.

There are no bids yet on Lewis' personal trophy, but four bids have been entered for Sharper's ring, with a high of is $14,641.

Goldin Auctions says it has sold more than $600 million worth of sports memorabilia, including a Honus Wagner T206 card for a sale of $2.1 million in 2012.

"This is a rare opportunity for a Ravens fans or a collector to own a Super Bowl ring less than a year after it was earned," Gold said in a statement announcing the auction. "NFL Championship rings and Super Bowl rings are coveted by collectors because it is rare for them to become available. That is why we are so excited to offer these unique finds in our 2014 Winter Auction."

Dan Brown's 'Inferno' tops all book sales in 2013

For the third time since 2004, Dan Brown has written the best-selling book of the year.

Brown's Inferno, a modern-day thriller built on clues from The Inferno, Dante's 14th-century poem about hell, topped sales in 2013. That's based on data from USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list and a compilation of the top 100 best sellers (based Deal News from Dec. 31, 2012-Dec. 29, 2013).

Brown's first hit, The Da Vinci Code, was No. 1 on USA TODAY's 2004 annual list, and again in 2006, after the movie version was released. (Sony plans to release the film adaptation of Inferno, starring Tom Hanks, in late 2015.)

It also was a big year for Veronica Roth, 25, who emerged as the most popular new novelist among teen readers, with three books in the top 15.

At No. 2 is Divergent, the first novel in Roth's dystopian/fantasy trilogy, begun in 2011. Sales surged with anticipation of the film version, staring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet, in theaters this March. The series' third book, Allegiant, published in October, is No. 8 for the year. Roth's second novel, Insurgent (2012), is No. 15.

Other highlights of 2013:

* Of the best sellers tracked by USA TODAY each week, 80% were fiction. That's the highest since the list was begun in 1993, breaking 2011's record of 78%. The top non-fiction book of 2013 at No. 9 was Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. Their 2012 book, Killing Kennedy, continued to sell last year, finishing at No. 61.

* Nicholas Sparks' love story, Safe Haven, No. 4 for the year, had the longest run atop USA TODAY's weekly list. It was No. 1 for seven weeks. Brown's Inferno was No. 1 for six weeks. Both are far short of the record: E.L. James' erotic Fifty Shades of Grey was No. 1 for 20 consecutive weeks in 2012. Grey had another good year in 2013; her trilogy ranked at No. 14, 25 and 26.

* The prolific James Patterson had the most titles (five) in the year's top 100. Three were written with collaborators, but not his most popular novel of 2013, at No. 34 - Alex Cross, Run. It's the 20 th book in a series Patterson began in 1993.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Iran, world powers reach deal opening nuke program

Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran has agreed to limit uranium enrichment and to open its nuclear program to daily inspection by international experts starting Jan. 20, setting the clock running on a six-month deadline for a final nuclear agreement, officials said Sunday.

In exchange, the Islamic Republic will get a relaxation of the financial sanctions that have been crippling its economy.

The announcement that Iran and six world powers had agreed on the plan for implementing an interim agreement came first from Iranian officials and was later confirmed elsewhere. Some U.S. lawmakers have been leery of the agreement, calling for tougher sanctions against Iran, rather than any loosening of controls.

Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi as saying the On Sales, which sets the terms of a landmark agreement reached in November, would take effect from Jan. 20. The agency said Iran will grant the United Nations' watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency access to its nuclear facilities and its centrifuge production lines to confirm it is complying with terms of the deal.

Araghchi later told state television some $4.2 billion in seized oil revenue would be released under the deal. Senior officials in U.S. President Barack Obama's administration put the total relief figure at $7 billion.

In a statement, President Barack Obama welcomed the deal, saying it "will advance our goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

"I have no illusions about how hard it will be to achieve this objective, but for the sake of our national security and the peace and security of the world, now is the time to give diplomacy a chance to succeed," Obama said.

Under the November agreement, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment to 5 percent - the grade commonly used to power reactors. The deal also commits Iran to stop producing 20 percent enriched uranium - which is only a technical step away from weapons-grade material - and to neutralize its 20 percent stockpile over the six months.

In exchange, economic sanctions Iran faces would be eased for six months. During that time, the so-called P5+1 world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - would continue negotiations with Iran on a permanent deal.

The West fears Iran's nuclear program could allow it to build a nuclear bomb. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes, such as medical research and power generation. Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reported Sunday that under the terms of the deal, Iran will guarantee that it won't try to attain nuclear arms "under any circumstance." However, Araghchi stressed Iran could resume production of 20 percent uranium in "one day" if it chose.

The senior U.S. officials said U.N. inspectors would have daily access to Iranian nuclear sites and would make monthly reports. Iran will dilute half of its nuclear material during the first three months of the agreement, the officials said, and all of it by the end of the agreement.

In exchange, Iran would have access to parts for its civilian aviation, petrochemical and automotive industries, as well as be allowed to import and export gold, the officials said. The deal also gives Iran access to international humanitarian and medical supplies, though Iran still could not use U.S. banks and the majority of sanctions would remain in place, they said.

The senior U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the specific terms of the agreement were not released publicly.

European Union negotiator Catherine Ashton praised the deal in a statement, saying "the foundations for a coherent, robust and smooth implementation ... have been laid." German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the deal "a decisive step forward which we can build on."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also welcomed the deal in a statement, saying further negotiations "represent the best chance we have to resolve this critical national security issue peacefully, and durably."

But Kerry cautioned that despite a fledgling detente with Iran, the nuclear negotiations have all but exhausted both sides' time, keeping them from being able to work on other shared global interests, including the civil war in Syria.

"We have been so focused and so intent on the nuclear file that we really have not dug into (Syria) in any appreciably substantive way," Kerry told reporters in Paris, where he was meeting with other Western foreign ministers and the head of the main moderate opposition group seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad ahead of peace talks scheduled in just over a week in Switzerland. Iran the main backer of Assad's regime.

Suspicions remain high in both Tehran and Washington after decades of hostility dating back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran that ousted the U.S.-backed shah dynasty. Iran's new reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, has reached out to the West, but must depend on support from Iran's top decision-maker, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for his initiatives amid criticism from hard-line factions.

Obama must fend off efforts by U.S. lawmakers, including many of his fellow Democrats, who want to pass new sanctions legislation. The measure proposes to blacklist several Iranian industrial sectors and ban banks and companies around the world from the U.S. market if they help Iran export any more oil. The provisions would only take effect if Tehran violates the interim nuclear deal or lets it expire without a follow-up accord.

However, that has caused anxiety in Iran, where hard-liners have already called the deal a "poison chalice" and are threatening legislation to increase uranium enrichment. Araghchi also said any new sanctions would halt the deal.

In his statement, Obama said "unprecedented sanctions and tough diplomacy helped to bring Iran to the negotiating table," but cautioned against implementing any more.

"Imposing additional sanctions now will only risk derailing our efforts to resolve this issue peacefully, and I will veto any legislation enacting new sanctions during the negotiation," he said.


Associated Press writers Philip Elliot in Washington, John-Thor Dahlberg in Brussels, Geir Moulson in Berlin, Lara Jakes in Paris and Jon Gambrell in Cairo contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

The sites of The Sound of Music

Local Blogs

By Sally Torbey

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About this blog: I have enjoyed parenting five children in Palo Alto for the past two decades and have opinions about everything to do with parenting kids (and dogs). The goal of my blog is to the share the good times and discuss the challenges of... (More)

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Uploaded: Jan 8, 2014

We packed in a lot of magic on our family winter vacation to Germany and Austria. Highlights included the festive Christmas markets, castles, palaces, medieval walled villages, fortresses, and museums. An unexpected highlight was a tour of the filming locations in Salzburg for the movie, The sound of music movie of Music.

The Sound of Music is a fictionalized version of the life of Maria von Trapp, who fled with her family to the US from Austria during World War II. Although the movie has been enormously popular in the US for almost 50 years, neither the movie nor the songs are widely known in Austria. As a 20 year old studying abroad and backpacking through Europe, I was not interested in such a "touristy" activity, but as an adult the story resonates with me as a much beloved part of my childhood. As the spouse of an immigrant, I am also drawn to the stories behind the decision to start a new life in a new country.

Much of the tour was spent on educating us on what in the movie was fact versus fiction. Nonetheless, I found myself surprisingly engaged as we visited the convent where Maria was a postulant (fact), and stood on the cobblestone lane outside the convent gates where the wily nuns sabotaged the Nazis' car (fiction). We also visited the small Abbey church where the von Trapps were married in real life, and the ornate baroque church used in the film. We drove in awe through the snow-capped peaks and glacial lakes surrounding Salzburg and imitated Maria's guitar swinging skip down a tree laned avenue (fiction).

Retracing Maria's steps in Salzburg reminded me of how much I loved the movie growing up. In those pre-video days, once a year we were delighted to watch the movie on TV. Even on a black and white 12" screen, the movie was mesmerizing with mischievous kids, romance, danger, and excitement. We listened to the record endlessly. I still know every verse to every song with Do Re Mi being the first song I ever picked out on the piano. The kids in our neighborhood would regularly act out the musical for our parents, using the slight rise in front of our house to re-enact the climactic scene of the family hiking over the mountains to Switzerland to escape the Nazis.

On the tour we were reminded that the mountains around Salzburg border Germany, not Switzerland. The von Trapp family actually traveled by train to Italy, and the Nazis were not in hot pursuit. And yet, despite the geographical impossibility and the Hollywood created drama of their escape, I was very moved by the von Trapp family's story and their departure from Salzburg. They left behind their home in a beautiful and historic city carrying only a knapsack each, not knowing if they would ever return. It made me think about my husband leaving his home during a war with a suitcase, a little money, and the opportunity of a scholarship for graduate studies. As good as life turned out in the US for both the von Trapps and my husband, it is a huge sacrifice to leave a culture, family and mother tongue behind, despite the gratitude one has for the life one makes here.

As a country of immigrants, most of us have someone in our past who made that difficult decision and sacrifice. Their story might lack the Hollywood drama of escaping the Nazis, but each of them undoubtedly climbed a mountain in making their way here.