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    Published on: December 14, 2005

    The Chicago Tribune reports that Internet shopping in the weeks before the various end-of-year holidays seems to be going through the roof, with numerous tracking services reporting big jumps in usage:

    • Comparison-shopping site PriceGrabber.com says that click-throughs from its site to e-commerce sites are up 83 percent over a year ago. And click-throughs to jewelry sites are up 240 percent, with the average transaction more than $1,400.

    • Hitwise, which monitors Internet use, says that over the past month, 10 percent of all Internet visits have been to shopping sites.

    • ComScore Networks says that holiday shopping since November 1 is up 23 percent over a year ago, to $12.75 billion…and projects that by the time the holidays are over, online shopping will generate more than $19 billion.

    Sucharita Mulpuru, a senior retail analyst at Forrester Research, tells the Tribune, "A lot of retailers are struggling in their brick-and-mortars. [Pure play Web] retailers are definitely taking market share away from the traditional retailers.”

    Much of this activity has been driven by promotional offers such as free shipping, sometimes linked to purchases of a certain size (Amazon.com) and sometimes to all purchases (LL Bean).
    KC's View:
    This isn’t at all surprising to us. We can’t go into detail here because Mrs. Content Guy and the Content Kids occasionally check out the site, but we’ve been able to accomplish most of our Christmas shopping via the Internet. It’s been great – almost everything already has been delivered, and we’re confident that the last package or two will show up before the end of next week.

    This may seem like just a holiday phenomenon, but what needs to be understood by marketers is that an entire generation of consumers is seeing the Internet not just as a shopping option, but as the preferred option.

    Which means that retailers have, essentially, two options – though we’d suggest that they actually have to implement both of them. First, they have to be in the online shopping game to some extent, either by creating their own offerings or working with service providers that can make it happen for them on a cost-effective basis. Second, they have to raise the level of their brick-and-mortar offerings, creating compelling shopping experiences that can lure people away from their computers.

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    The Boston Globe reports on a new trend in male-oriented marketing – “a growing number of salons devoted to men who want more than just a barbershop haircut but don't feel comfortable at women's beauty salons and wouldn't be caught dead in a froufrou day spa.”

    There are a number of these chains cropping up, with names like American Male (15 units), The Art of Shaving (eight locations), Roosters Men’s Grooming Centers (13 stores), and Sport Clips (300 franchised locations).

    These salons are hardly the traditional beauty parlor. “Some have TVs tuned to sports channels,” the Globe writes. “Some offer free beer. At least one lets clients light up cigars. Prices for haircuts, waxing, manicures, pedicures, facials, shaving, and massages start at about $20.”

    These stores are part of a broader trend: sales of men's skin care products were up 13 percent, double the growth of women’s skin care products, and retail sales in the men’s grooming market are expected to hit $10 billion by 2008.
    KC's View:
    Never having had a manicure or a pedicure, or even a barbershop shave for that matter (not that we’d need one these days), we have to admit to being a little bemused by this trend.

    But not so bemused that we don’t see the opportunity.

    This is just another story that we offer in our continuing campaign to get food retailers to start marketing more aggressively to men – to find new ways to bring men into the store, capture their imaginations and then sell them stuff.

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    The New York Times reports that new research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that “low-fat dairy foods may reduce the risk of high blood pressure,” with results showing “a 50 percent reduction in the incidence of hypertension in those with the highest consumption of low-fat dairy products compared with those who consumed the least.”

    However, the study also offered no evidence that whole milk products increase the risk of high blood pressure.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    The Washington Post reports that the Wegmans store near Dulles Airport in Virginia is offering “a Web-based version of its safety and sanitation courses in Mandarin and Spanish, in addition to English -- just one nod the supermarket says it is making to a multilingual workplace in which more than 200 of its 650 employees do not speak English as their primary language.”

    It is an enormous challenge – at one point in the story, the store manager surveys a line of checkout people whose first languages include Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, Hindi and Urdu. And there are a variety of different and compelling reasons for smoothing out the communications rough spots – these people have to work together, they need to adhere both to company policies and federal safety regulations, and they need to be able to communicate with customers – the latter extremely important in a Wegmans store, where talking to customers isn’t just possible, but actually encouraged.

    “The challenges of managing a multicultural workforce have spawned a cottage industry of outside consultants, in-house specialists, book and magazine publishers, and others,” the Post writes. For example, “Wegmans has retained language instructors for its Dulles and Fairfax stores to teach their employees a bit more English and their managers un poco Espaol .

    The Post also writes that “at the Dulles store, managers often rely on interpreters -- usually bilingual managers -- to assist with job interviews and employee training and counseling sessions. When bilingual managers can't be found, relatives of the employees and job seekers are pressed into service.”

    The good news, according to Wegmans officials, is that many of these immigrants are willing to take jobs that English-speaking US citizens don’t want…and they may be more loyal about staying and growing with the company as their language skills improve.
    KC's View:
    Welcome to the New World.

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    As predicted by numerous analysts, PepsiCo’s market value exceed Coca-Cola’s for the first time yesterday.

    Pepsi’s stock price is up 14 percent this year, giving it a total stock value to $98.4 billion. Coke’s stock price is down a little more than one percent, and the company now has a stock value of $97.9 billion.

    This movement is consistent with trends over the past five years, during which Pepsi's sales growth has risen 7.8 percent, and Coca-Cola's has grown 2.4 percent. A decade ago, Coca-Cola's market capitalization was $133 billion, more than double PepsiCo's market cap of $59.4 billion.

    Analysts point to Pepsi’s greater willingness to embrace the snack business and the non-carbonated beverage business to fuel its growth.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    • Wal-Mart has acquired the 140 Brazilian stores formerly owned by Portugal’s Modelo Continente, giving Wal-Mart a total of 295 stores in that country. Cost of the acquisition: $763 million (US).


    • Andy Bond, CEO of Wal-Mart’s Asda Group in the UK, reportedly has told analysts that 2006 is likely to bring even more aggressive price wars than in recent years.

    The threat comes as Asda faces the possibility that it could slip from second to third place behind Tesco and Sainsbury, and tries to recover from a sales slowdown.

    "Asda has always been about being the lowest-priced retail brand and I'm going to be more aggressive next year," Bond said. "But I can't predict how the other retailers, and Tesco in particular, will react."
    KC's View:
    We can.

    We’re waiting for someone to launch the inevitable “we’ll pay you to shop with us” promotion.

    And suppliers may want to strap themselves in for a bumpy ride. Because when all these retailers look to cut prices, they’re also going to be looking to cut costs.

    And you know who they’re going to turn to on that front…

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    • BJ's Wholesale Club announced that Paul McDonough, executive vice president and chief financial officer since May 2005, has left the Company to return to the insurance industry. Prior to joining BJ's in September 2004, McDonough was vice president and treasurer of the St. Paul Travelers Companies, Inc.

    Frank Forward, the company’s executive vice president/chief administrative officer, will be BJ's interim chief financial officer until a successor can be found.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    • Ingles Markets reported that its just completed fiscal year saw sales increase 6.4 percent to $2.3 billion, with same-store sales up 6.1 percent. Net profit was down 11 percent to $25.6 million.


    • Canadian retailer Sobey’s posted a three percent second quarter drop in net profit to the equivalent of $40 million (US). Sales for the period were 8.5 percent to $2.8 billion (US), with same-store sales up 3.6 percent.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    We had a story the other day about how different companies deal with the image issue, and how Wal-Mart has until recently hoped that its business could speak for itself while Starbucks has always cultivated its public image, believing that a strong and positive image would beget greater sales.

    This story generated a number of email responses…

    MNB user Matthew Muir wrote:

    There is a key difference in the approach of these 2 stores -- Wal-Mart is a low cost (EDLP) operator, whilst people will pay good money for a great coffee. I'm guessing also that Starbucks would have slightly higher margins than Wal-Mart.....

    MNB user Sam Civiello wrote:

    It’s apples and oranges…Walmart does everything it can to keep prices low and Starbucks charges more for coffee than most everyone. How can you compare images?

    How would you compare Costco to Walmart / Sam’s Club?


    We’re not sure how pricing connects to public image…and Costco is an excellent example of that. Its public image is much more positive than Wal-Mart’s…as is its price profile.



    We also got a number of emails about yesterday’s story relating how the Walt Disney Co. has applied for a patent on a portable media player that could be handed out instead of toys with McDonald’s Happy Meals and that allow kids to download movies, videos or audio files.

    One of them was from MNB user Sharese S. Alston:

    This is a great idea, if we were only thinking of profits. Just yesterday we were talking about obesity in children. Now, we are saying in order to keep children’s loyalty, a video game or movie will be given out with their 700 calorie “happy meal”. This is absurd! Instead of calling it a loyalty card, it should be called an addiction card. McDonalds is addictive, especially to children, and this is only encouraging that. Basically, they are pairing up children’s two favorite things and using it against them – food and fun.

    MNB user Bill Drew wrote:

    Thank goodness my four year old will be weaned from Happy Meals by the time this technology (and the roll out at McDonald's) comes to fruition. I can hear it now:

    "Daddy," Riley says, "I got this cool thing in my Happy Meal. Let's download my cartoon."
    "OK, kiddo," I say, "but remember, you are only going to get part of the video this time. We have to come back two or three more times to download the rest of the show."
    "I know," he says, not really knowing at all.
    So we download what we are able to and watch what we can, but the show isn't complete.
    Riley says, "Dad, I need to find out what happens in the video. Let's buy another high fat, high carbo, high sodium meal so I can gorge myself. Worse yet, Dad, go ahead and buy it, but I'm not going to eat it. I'm just going to make you spend more money so I can watch more video."

    You're right, Kevin. This new technology has great potential at both McDonald's and other venues of retailing, but I'm scratching my head at the fact that McDonald's and Disney are targeting Happy Meals as the primary outlet at the outset of the program. They, and others, should be going after the 13 to 25 year-olds by offering "free" downloads of music or videos with the purchase of a value meal or other add-on.


    We’re not endorsing Happy Meals. Just the wisdom of the marketing approach.




    Two very different responses to yesterday’s piece about the Chicago Tribune investigation into high mercury levels into seafood…

    One MNB user wrote:

    Mercury and other dangerous contaminates in fish and seafood is not new. The fish industry has been getting away with murder for years!

    Sound familiar? No testing, no inspection…and government assigned oversight from a department that won’t do its job.

    This is exactly the response I would expect from a government that thinks minimum inspection / testing procedures is protecting us from “mad cow” among other things. What we see today in the fish industry is where we are going with the whole meat industry.

    Scandalous is too mild!


    But another MNB user disagreed:

    Wait a minute. Hold your horses. Accusation by a newspaper without reference to sources is irresponsible.

    Given your background in reporting I find it scandalous that you would repeat the "Tribune" story without so much as a hint of skepticism. Who makes the claim that mercury levels are dangerously high? Who are the FDA officials? How few samples have been taken? Is the sampling within FDA norms? This story smells like the one when Florida growers a few years ago got the TV news to report that workers in Mexico relieve themselves in the vegetable fields. It reads like the regular "news updates" I get by e-mail from my college daughter.


    Fair point. Our goal was to give the top line information from the in-depth Tribune investigation, but perhaps we could have gone into greater detail.




    Regarding Wegmans’ rejection of any possible acquisition by Tesco, MNB user Barbara Thomas wrote:

    Wegmans is a unique and special business. May it ever remain free, independent, creative and the best place in town.

    Let freedom ring.




    An MNB user wrote the other day: “Although I am NOT a Wal-Mart fan, thank you for expressing exactly what I feel about the ‘Jesus’ comments from the religious right. This is inexcusable.”

    To which another MNB user responded:

    FYI: Wakeupwalmart.com is not the religious ‘right’. In fact, many of their platforms are in direct opposition to the religious right.

    That really needs to be clarified.


    We never equated the two. But the point is well taken.




    Got the following email from an MNB user:

    I wanted to respond to your reader who was commenting about using the word "Christmas" in marketing (today's Your Views).

    While I agree with most of the statement, there is a huge fundamental flaw in the argument. It is no coincidence that the word Christmas begins with the word Christ. Jesus Christ is the reason why we celebrate this time of year, for the most part. It's why we have time off to spend with our families and it's why retailers are taking advantage of the gift giving season by offering attractive promotions to get more of our dollars. When I feel like I can't even say Merry Christmas to someone or write it in a card, regardless of their religious affiliation, yes, I do feel that something very important is being taken away from me. It's not about getting on a religious "high horse" or being holier than thou taking the celebration from all other groups. And it's not about most Americans being Christian or not.

    When I say Merry Christmas to someone I want it to be for the spirit of the season, for the sincere sentiment of wishing others just that, a Merry Christmas. But taking the very word out of Christmas devalues the whole reason why Christians celebrate this time of year to begin with! And yes, I acknowledge that there are other religions celebrating this time of year as well, but for Christians to not feel like they can say Merry Christmas to colleagues or friends or anyone else is completely ridiculous -- just for the sake of being politically correct! And it's not about a word because Christmas celebrates of the birth of the fundamental difference between Christianity and other religions -- the acknowledgement, acceptance and celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. So yes, I feel like something very important is being taken away from me when I feel I can't use the word Christmas.


    This is the discussion topic that just keeps on giving…

    We celebrate Christmas in our house. But if somebody wants to send us a Hanukkah card, or wish us a “Happy Kwanzaa,” we think that’s great…and would return the compliment.

    People should wish people whatever they feel comfortable wishing them, and should do so without feel of criticism from the political correctness police.

    Use “Christmas” all you want. Go crazy.

    But here’s the corollary. If people want to say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” in their cards because they know they are sending them to a wide variety of people of different beliefs, then they shouldn’t be subject to criticism, either.

    It is extraordinary to us how hot this debate has gotten, and how intolerant people have gotten during a time of year when tolerance should be top of mind and heart.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    The Chicago Tribune reports that Internet shopping in the weeks before the various end-of-year holidays seems to be going through the roof, with numerous tracking services reporting big jumps in usage:

    • Comparison-shopping site PriceGrabber.com says that click-throughs from its site to e-commerce sites are up 83 percent over a year ago. And click-throughs to jewelry sites are up 240 percent, with the average transaction more than $1,400.

    • Hitwise, which monitors Internet use, says that over the past month, 10 percent of all Internet visits have been to shopping sites.

    • ComScore Networks says that holiday shopping since November 1 is up 23 percent over a year ago, to $12.75 billion…and projects that by the time the holidays are over, online shopping will generate more than $19 billion.

    Sucharita Mulpuru, a senior retail analyst at Forrester Research, tells the Tribune, "A lot of retailers are struggling in their brick-and-mortars. [Pure play Web] retailers are definitely taking market share away from the traditional retailers.”

    Much of this activity has been driven by promotional offers such as free shipping, sometimes linked to purchases of a certain size (Amazon.com) and sometimes to all purchases (LL Bean).
    KC's View:
    This isn’t at all surprising to us. We can’t go into detail here because Mrs. Content Guy and the Content Kids occasionally check out the site, but we’ve been able to accomplish most of our Christmas shopping via the Internet. It’s been great – almost everything already has been delivered, and we’re confident that the last package or two will show up before the end of next week.

    This may seem like just a holiday phenomenon, but what needs to be understood by marketers is that an entire generation of consumers is seeing the Internet not just as a shopping option, but as the preferred option.

    Which means that retailers have, essentially, two options – though we’d suggest that they actually have to implement both of them. First, they have to be in the online shopping game to some extent, either by creating their own offerings or working with service providers that can make it happen for them on a cost-effective basis. Second, they have to raise the level of their brick-and-mortar offerings, creating compelling shopping experiences that can lure people away from their computers.

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    The Boston Globe reports on a new trend in male-oriented marketing – “a growing number of salons devoted to men who want more than just a barbershop haircut but don't feel comfortable at women's beauty salons and wouldn't be caught dead in a froufrou day spa.”

    There are a number of these chains cropping up, with names like American Male (15 units), The Art of Shaving (eight locations), Roosters Men’s Grooming Centers (13 stores), and Sport Clips (300 franchised locations).

    These salons are hardly the traditional beauty parlor. “Some have TVs tuned to sports channels,” the Globe writes. “Some offer free beer. At least one lets clients light up cigars. Prices for haircuts, waxing, manicures, pedicures, facials, shaving, and massages start at about $20.”

    These stores are part of a broader trend: sales of men's skin care products were up 13 percent, double the growth of women’s skin care products, and retail sales in the men’s grooming market are expected to hit $10 billion by 2008.
    KC's View:
    Never having had a manicure or a pedicure, or even a barbershop shave for that matter (not that we’d need one these days), we have to admit to being a little bemused by this trend.

    But not so bemused that we don’t see the opportunity.

    This is just another story that we offer in our continuing campaign to get food retailers to start marketing more aggressively to men – to find new ways to bring men into the store, capture their imaginations and then sell them stuff.

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    The New York Times reports that new research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that “low-fat dairy foods may reduce the risk of high blood pressure,” with results showing “a 50 percent reduction in the incidence of hypertension in those with the highest consumption of low-fat dairy products compared with those who consumed the least.”

    However, the study also offered no evidence that whole milk products increase the risk of high blood pressure.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    The Washington Post reports that the Wegmans store near Dulles Airport in Virginia is offering “a Web-based version of its safety and sanitation courses in Mandarin and Spanish, in addition to English -- just one nod the supermarket says it is making to a multilingual workplace in which more than 200 of its 650 employees do not speak English as their primary language.”

    It is an enormous challenge – at one point in the story, the store manager surveys a line of checkout people whose first languages include Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, Hindi and Urdu. And there are a variety of different and compelling reasons for smoothing out the communications rough spots – these people have to work together, they need to adhere both to company policies and federal safety regulations, and they need to be able to communicate with customers – the latter extremely important in a Wegmans store, where talking to customers isn’t just possible, but actually encouraged.

    “The challenges of managing a multicultural workforce have spawned a cottage industry of outside consultants, in-house specialists, book and magazine publishers, and others,” the Post writes. For example, “Wegmans has retained language instructors for its Dulles and Fairfax stores to teach their employees a bit more English and their managers un poco Espaol .

    The Post also writes that “at the Dulles store, managers often rely on interpreters -- usually bilingual managers -- to assist with job interviews and employee training and counseling sessions. When bilingual managers can't be found, relatives of the employees and job seekers are pressed into service.”

    The good news, according to Wegmans officials, is that many of these immigrants are willing to take jobs that English-speaking US citizens don’t want…and they may be more loyal about staying and growing with the company as their language skills improve.
    KC's View:
    Welcome to the New World.

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    As predicted by numerous analysts, PepsiCo’s market value exceed Coca-Cola’s for the first time yesterday.

    Pepsi’s stock price is up 14 percent this year, giving it a total stock value to $98.4 billion. Coke’s stock price is down a little more than one percent, and the company now has a stock value of $97.9 billion.

    This movement is consistent with trends over the past five years, during which Pepsi's sales growth has risen 7.8 percent, and Coca-Cola's has grown 2.4 percent. A decade ago, Coca-Cola's market capitalization was $133 billion, more than double PepsiCo's market cap of $59.4 billion.

    Analysts point to Pepsi’s greater willingness to embrace the snack business and the non-carbonated beverage business to fuel its growth.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    • Wal-Mart has acquired the 140 Brazilian stores formerly owned by Portugal’s Modelo Continente, giving Wal-Mart a total of 295 stores in that country. Cost of the acquisition: $763 million (US).


    • Andy Bond, CEO of Wal-Mart’s Asda Group in the UK, reportedly has told analysts that 2006 is likely to bring even more aggressive price wars than in recent years.

    The threat comes as Asda faces the possibility that it could slip from second to third place behind Tesco and Sainsbury, and tries to recover from a sales slowdown.

    "Asda has always been about being the lowest-priced retail brand and I'm going to be more aggressive next year," Bond said. "But I can't predict how the other retailers, and Tesco in particular, will react."
    KC's View:
    We can.

    We’re waiting for someone to launch the inevitable “we’ll pay you to shop with us” promotion.

    And suppliers may want to strap themselves in for a bumpy ride. Because when all these retailers look to cut prices, they’re also going to be looking to cut costs.

    And you know who they’re going to turn to on that front…

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    • BJ's Wholesale Club announced that Paul McDonough, executive vice president and chief financial officer since May 2005, has left the Company to return to the insurance industry. Prior to joining BJ's in September 2004, McDonough was vice president and treasurer of the St. Paul Travelers Companies, Inc.

    Frank Forward, the company’s executive vice president/chief administrative officer, will be BJ's interim chief financial officer until a successor can be found.

    KC's View:

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    • Ingles Markets reported that its just completed fiscal year saw sales increase 6.4 percent to $2.3 billion, with same-store sales up 6.1 percent. Net profit was down 11 percent to $25.6 million.


    • Canadian retailer Sobey’s posted a three percent second quarter drop in net profit to the equivalent of $40 million (US). Sales for the period were 8.5 percent to $2.8 billion (US), with same-store sales up 3.6 percent.
    KC's View:

    Published on: December 14, 2005

    We had a story the other day about how different companies deal with the image issue, and how Wal-Mart has until recently hoped that its business could speak for itself while Starbucks has always cultivated its public image, believing that a strong and positive image would beget greater sales.

    This story generated a number of email responses…

    MNB user Matthew Muir wrote:

    There is a key difference in the approach of these 2 stores -- Wal-Mart is a low cost (EDLP) operator, whilst people will pay good money for a great coffee. I'm guessing also that Starbucks would have slightly higher margins than Wal-Mart.....

    MNB user Sam Civiello wrote:

    It’s apples and oranges…Walmart does everything it can to keep prices low and Starbucks charges more for coffee than most everyone. How can you compare images?

    How would you compare Costco to Walmart / Sam’s Club?


    We’re not sure how pricing connects to public image…and Costco is an excellent example of that. Its public image is much more positive than Wal-Mart’s…as is its price profile.



    We also got a number of emails about yesterday’s story relating how the Walt Disney Co. has applied for a patent on a portable media player that could be handed out instead of toys with McDonald’s Happy Meals and that allow kids to download movies, videos or audio files.

    One of them was from MNB user Sharese S. Alston:

    This is a great idea, if we were only thinking of profits. Just yesterday we were talking about obesity in children. Now, we are saying in order to keep children’s loyalty, a video game or movie will be given out with their 700 calorie “happy meal”. This is absurd! Instead of calling it a loyalty card, it should be called an addiction card. McDonalds is addictive, especially to children, and this is only encouraging that. Basically, they are pairing up children’s two favorite things and using it against them – food and fun.

    MNB user Bill Drew wrote:

    Thank goodness my four year old will be weaned from Happy Meals by the time this technology (and the roll out at McDonald's) comes to fruition. I can hear it now:

    "Daddy," Riley says, "I got this cool thing in my Happy Meal. Let's download my cartoon."
    "OK, kiddo," I say, "but remember, you are only going to get part of the video this time. We have to come back two or three more times to download the rest of the show."
    "I know," he says, not really knowing at all.
    So we download what we are able to and watch what we can, but the show isn't complete.
    Riley says, "Dad, I need to find out what happens in the video. Let's buy another high fat, high carbo, high sodium meal so I can gorge myself. Worse yet, Dad, go ahead and buy it, but I'm not going to eat it. I'm just going to make you spend more money so I can watch more video."

    You're right, Kevin. This new technology has great potential at both McDonald's and other venues of retailing, but I'm scratching my head at the fact that McDonald's and Disney are targeting Happy Meals as the primary outlet at the outset of the program. They, and others, should be going after the 13 to 25 year-olds by offering "free" downloads of music or videos with the purchase of a value meal or other add-on.


    We’re not endorsing Happy Meals. Just the wisdom of the marketing approach.




    Two very different responses to yesterday’s piece about the Chicago Tribune investigation into high mercury levels into seafood…

    One MNB user wrote:

    Mercury and other dangerous contaminates in fish and seafood is not new. The fish industry has been getting away with murder for years!

    Sound familiar? No testing, no inspection…and government assigned oversight from a department that won’t do its job.

    This is exactly the response I would expect from a government that thinks minimum inspection / testing procedures is protecting us from “mad cow” among other things. What we see today in the fish industry is where we are going with the whole meat industry.

    Scandalous is too mild!


    But another MNB user disagreed:

    Wait a minute. Hold your horses. Accusation by a newspaper without reference to sources is irresponsible.

    Given your background in reporting I find it scandalous that you would repeat the "Tribune" story without so much as a hint of skepticism. Who makes the claim that mercury levels are dangerously high? Who are the FDA officials? How few samples have been taken? Is the sampling within FDA norms? This story smells like the one when Florida growers a few years ago got the TV news to report that workers in Mexico relieve themselves in the vegetable fields. It reads like the regular "news updates" I get by e-mail from my college daughter.


    Fair point. Our goal was to give the top line information from the in-depth Tribune investigation, but perhaps we could have gone into greater detail.




    Regarding Wegmans’ rejection of any possible acquisition by Tesco, MNB user Barbara Thomas wrote:

    Wegmans is a unique and special business. May it ever remain free, independent, creative and the best place in town.

    Let freedom ring.




    An MNB user wrote the other day: “Although I am NOT a Wal-Mart fan, thank you for expressing exactly what I feel about the ‘Jesus’ comments from the religious right. This is inexcusable.”

    To which another MNB user responded:

    FYI: Wakeupwalmart.com is not the religious ‘right’. In fact, many of their platforms are in direct opposition to the religious right.

    That really needs to be clarified.


    We never equated the two. But the point is well taken.




    Got the following email from an MNB user:

    I wanted to respond to your reader who was commenting about using the word "Christmas" in marketing (today's Your Views).

    While I agree with most of the statement, there is a huge fundamental flaw in the argument. It is no coincidence that the word Christmas begins with the word Christ. Jesus Christ is the reason why we celebrate this time of year, for the most part. It's why we have time off to spend with our families and it's why retailers are taking advantage of the gift giving season by offering attractive promotions to get more of our dollars. When I feel like I can't even say Merry Christmas to someone or write it in a card, regardless of their religious affiliation, yes, I do feel that something very important is being taken away from me. It's not about getting on a religious "high horse" or being holier than thou taking the celebration from all other groups. And it's not about most Americans being Christian or not.

    When I say Merry Christmas to someone I want it to be for the spirit of the season, for the sincere sentiment of wishing others just that, a Merry Christmas. But taking the very word out of Christmas devalues the whole reason why Christians celebrate this time of year to begin with! And yes, I acknowledge that there are other religions celebrating this time of year as well, but for Christians to not feel like they can say Merry Christmas to colleagues or friends or anyone else is completely ridiculous -- just for the sake of being politically correct! And it's not about a word because Christmas celebrates of the birth of the fundamental difference between Christianity and other religions -- the acknowledgement, acceptance and celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. So yes, I feel like something very important is being taken away from me when I feel I can't use the word Christmas.


    This is the discussion topic that just keeps on giving…

    We celebrate Christmas in our house. But if somebody wants to send us a Hanukkah card, or wish us a “Happy Kwanzaa,” we think that’s great…and would return the compliment.

    People should wish people whatever they feel comfortable wishing them, and should do so without feel of criticism from the political correctness police.

    Use “Christmas” all you want. Go crazy.

    But here’s the corollary. If people want to say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” in their cards because they know they are sending them to a wide variety of people of different beliefs, then they shouldn’t be subject to criticism, either.

    It is extraordinary to us how hot this debate has gotten, and how intolerant people have gotten during a time of year when tolerance should be top of mind and heart.

    KC's View: