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    Published on: November 19, 2013

    This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.by Kevin Coupe

    This morning, MorningNewsBeat completes its 12th year.

    Yikes.

    That's more than 2,800 editions, and in excess of 11 million words. I hope you've found them as illuminating and entertaining to read as I've found them to write.

    I couldn't have done it without you. And by "you," I mean the more than 27,000 subscribers who make up the MNB community, a list that increases by between 50 and 100 people each and every week.

    By "you," I also mean the terrific sponsors who make it possible for you to receive - for free - MNB each work morning. Companies like MyWebGrocer, Cirio, OneClick, King Retail Systems, Park City Group, Clement Pappas, Samuel J. Associates, Wholesome Sweeteners, Webstop and the National Grocers Association have shown tremendous loyalty to MNB. And if you haven't done so, I hope you'll click on their tile ads and drumbeats and check out the superior products and services they offer.

    This is the job I've had the longest … and the great thing about it is that it rarely has seemed like a job. After a dozen years, I can tell you of all the professional things I've done, MNB is the thing I love the most…except, of course, for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe.

    Year 13 starts now. I think the coming year will offer some changes and innovation - including a new relationship with the Hartman Group that I'll explain in more detail below - but the basic goal will be the same - news in context and analysis with attitude, with lots of serious levity.

    And as I always say, I'm going to keep doing it until I get it right.

    Now, regarding the new business in which I'm getting involved…

    I'm happy to report that MorningNewsBeat is entering new territory … forging a business relationship with the Hartman Group that will result in our working together on a new conference series:  "A.C.T.:  Anthropology, Culture, Trends." The first iteration, Evolving Culture of Food & Beverage, is scheduled for Chicago, Illinois, on February 5, 2014.

    Yes, I know what you're thinking.  it's going to be cold in Chicago on February 5.   That's true.  But the conference itself is going to be hot, hot, hot…!

    The conference will take place at the Catalyst Ranch, one of the most unconventional and provocative spaces in Chicago, which is perfect for what we're going to accomplish - which is an unconventional and provocative look at food culture in America, and what retailers and manufactures should be doing to capitalize on the opportunities created by shifting and fast-evolving trends.

    The day is going to be lively, fun, interactive, and filled with chances to interact with the cultural anthropologists from the Hartman Group, who are going to help you see the food business through a fresh prism that will shed light on opportunities you didn't even know existed.  And I'll be there, too … facilitating the conversation, moderating discussions, poking and prodding and provoking and making sure that everybody not only comes away with actionable intelligence, but also has a good time doing so.

    I hope you'll consider joining us. There are a limited number of seats available, and you can find out more by going to ACT-Chicago.

    This is just the beginning of a series of projects that MNB and the Hartman Group plan on doing together. Which makes a lot of sense, because both MNB and the folks at the Hartman Group like to find new ways to look at the world. I'm excited as we begin Year 13 of MNB … which I think is going to be a lucky one for all of us!

    KC's View:

    Published on: November 19, 2013

    by Michael Sansolo

    If the importance of news were judged solely on the number of people who really care, Monday’s MNB had a terrible omission in the sports section—missing the biggest story of the weekend. And no, it had nothing to do with Jimmie Johnson winning his sixth NASCAR championship.

    This weekend marked the end of Sachin Tendulkar’s spectacular career. Somehow we didn’t give it a line.

    Okay, I have to confess here: until this weekend I had never heard of Tendulkar. I had no idea he is widely considered the greatest cricket batsman of all time. And most certainly, I had no clue that his final match/test/game (I really don’t know) held the entire country of India in thrall.

    Tendulkar is an athletic deity to hundreds of millions of Indians. He’s one of the wealthiest athletes on earth thanks to his skills and his career has incredibly stretched over 24 years.

    How did we ever miss that?

    The answer is simple: neither Kevin nor I follow cricket and we don’t know anything about the game. (I’m betting many of you are in the same bucket.) Had it not been for articles suddenly appearing in American media about the “most popular athlete you’ve never heard of,” I would have never heard of him.

    In fact, you might not even care about it right now after reading the last few paragraphs and might see no lesson in this, unless you are selling products to Indian immigrants in your community.

    Yet it actually does matter. We all have an increasing understanding that the world is increasingly complex and interconnected. Knowing the world’s greatest cricket batsman might not matter to sales, but knowing holidays, eating habits or an entire raft of issues impacting today’s increasingly diverse consumer base does matter.

    So we have to be open to news we don’t always understand or feel any comfort discussing.

    That’s why Jimmie Johnson was probably the biggest story of the weekend to many of you, while others were watching football, basketball or even, no sports at all. There seem to be countless stripes on consumer interest, which means we all need find endless ways to be open to new ways to align with this new world.

    In other words, more things you need to worry about, but also new ways to create connection and demonstrate understanding of your audience. It’s a brave new world in so many ways, which means more ways than ever to win.

    By the way: cricket matches apparently last five days. Just think about that next time you say baseball seems slow.

    Of course, if you happen to be a fan of Tendulkar’s, five days is too short. Apparently they wish that last match would go on forever.

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at msansolo@morningnewsbeat.com . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 19, 2013

    by Kevin Coupe

    What do NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Russian President Vladimir Putin have in common?

    Well, they both seem to have an affinity for using public policy to promote better health.

    In New York, Bloomberg has been controversial for his push to ban the sale of jumbo sugary soft drinks, which many feel contribute to the nation's obesity crisis.

    And in Russia….well, Mashable.com reports that "to promote the upcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, subway stations in Moscow have added … impressive new machines which allow passengers to do 30 squats for a train ticket."

    And all I can say is that it probably is a good thing that Bloomberg will be leaving office next month. Because this sounds like the kind of initiative that he would've found a way to adapt to the New York subway system.
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 19, 2013

    The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) is out with a new survey concluding that "three in five (62%) consumers want to see more hybrid-electric vehicles over the next decade, two in five (43%) want to see more battery electric vehicles and one in three want to see more fuel cell (34%), natural gas, (31%) or flex fuel vehicles (30%)."

    Furthermore, they say they're willing to invest in this technology during the coming decade: "Three in four (74%) would consider buying a hybrid electric, and three in five would consider purchasing a flex fuel (62%), fuel cell (58%) or battery electric vehicle (58%). Half of consumers would consider a natural gas powered vehicle (53%)."

    However, the green that seems to be motivating these consumers has less to do with the environment than cold hard cash: "Two in three consumers say the switch to an alternative fuel would be driven primarily by economic enticements, rather than environmentalism. Economic factors such as increased fuel efficiency or tax breaks are more important than environmental factors for those considering diesel, flex fuel, hybrid electric, propane, fuel cell, natural gas and battery electric vehicles (79%, 75%, 73%, 71%, 68%, 67%, 65%, respectively)."
    KC's View:
    Ultimately, it does not matter if people are thinking about the economy or the environment when they go for more fuel-frugal cars. It'll be good for both.

    Published on: November 19, 2013

    The New York Times reports that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is saying that it has found evidence that Walmart has "unlawfully threatened employees" considering participation in anti-Walmart protests that have been taking place around the country.

    According to the story, "The board’s general counsel was investigating accusations made against Walmart stemming from protest activities planned last year for Black Friday, among others.

    "The scope of the accusations was wide, spanning activities in more than a dozen states, and according to the United Food and Commercial Workers union, it covered actions taken against about 100 Walmart employees."

    Walmart said the NLRB's finding was just procedural, and denied any wrongdoing.

    The NLRB has not officially filed a complaint, but rather has just authorized such a filing. Experts say this gives the two sides room to negotiate a settlement.''A union spokeswoman said that at least 43 workers were disciplined and at least 23 were fired.

    The Times writes that "whether employees are unionized or not, federal law, under the National Labor Relations Act, protects certain activities, like protesting or organizing for better wages or working conditions." Union leaders say that "at least 43 workers were disciplined and at least 23 were fired" by Walmart.

    The "threat" took place last year, in advance of planned Black Friday protests, when Walmart spokesman David Tovar told CBS News, “If associates are scheduled to work on Black Friday, we expect them to show up and to do their job, and if they don’t, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences.”
    KC's View:
    The irony, of course, is that David Tovar just got a promotion at Walmart.

    Listen, I have real problems with some of how Walmart treats its employees. But I also know that I I had a job and just didn't show up, there probably would be consequences.

    It may be illegal to say out loud that there are consequences for not showing up for work … but it doesn't seem all that wrong to suggest that if you don't live up to your responsibilities, bad things can happen.

    Published on: November 19, 2013

    Bloomberg reports that Tesco's US supermarket chain, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets,"canceled its proposed auction after receiving no offers to compete with a bid from an affiliate of billionaire Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos.

    "The company will seek bankruptcy court approval on Nov. 22 to sell virtually all of its assets to the affiliate of Los Angeles-based Yucaipa, according to court documents filed Nov. 15 in Wilmington, Delaware. Under the proposed deal, a Tesco affiliate would lend the Yucaipa unit $120 million to help finance the acquisition, according to court papers. Tesco would get warrants to buy as much as 10 percent of the reorganized chain’s equity, while Fresh & Easy would get a 22.5 percent stake."
    KC's View:
    Far more interesting than the auction process will be what Yucaipa does with Fresh & Easy once the deal is completed.

    Published on: November 19, 2013

    CNBC reports that Walmart is saying that it "will kick off its Black Friday deals one week early. The retailer said it will mark down prices on a number of toys and electronics starting Nov. 22, in stores and online.
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 19, 2013

    Researchers from New York University Langone Medical Center say that their studies suggest that fewer than half of consumers notice the calorie counts on fast food menu boards, which means that they're also not using the information when making ordering decisions.

    According to a story on the Huffington Post, "Researchers looked at the lunch and dinner receipts from more than 2,000 patrons of Burger King and McDonald's restaurants in Philadelphia before and after the city's calorie labeling law went into effect in February 2010; these patrons were also asked if they noticed the calorie counts on the menus, whether that influenced their purchasing decisions, and how often they'd already had fast food from a big chain that week."

    The results: "Less than half of patrons who visited the Burger King and McDonald's restaurants noticed the calorie labeling -- 49 percent at Burger King, and 34 percent at McDonald's, researchers found. Plus, there didn't seem to be a difference in the number of times people ate at the restaurants from before and after the labeling law went into effect -- people ate fast food about five times a week -- nor was there a decrease in visits to fast food restaurants, post-labeling law."
    KC's View:
    Doesn't matter to me. If people have the info and don't use it, then the responsibility is all theirs. But this does nothing to convince me that fast feeders ought not provide nutritional info on their menu boards (which, in some cases, may actually be more edible and nutritious than the food they advertise).

    Published on: November 19, 2013

    ...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    • National Public Radio's The Salt reports that new research suggests that coffee consumption "helps cut the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In the most recent meta-analysis, researchers found that drinking two or more cups of coffee per day was associated with a 12 percent decreased risk of developing the disease. And even decaffeinated coffee seemed to cut the risk, though not as much as the caffeinated kind.

    The story notes that coffee consumption does not counteract the impact of obesity, which is seen as the biggest contributor to diabetes cases. And, The Salt also notes that these new conclusions are in addition to recent studies that "have found that people who drink coffee regularly are at lower risk of depression, and perhaps Alzheimer's too."

    "Feeling good, Louis…"


    USA Today reports that "a shortage of fresh, large, whole turkeys – 16 lbs. and greater – could impact the holiday season, says the nation's largest turkey producer. Butterball, which produces more turkeys than anyone, says it will be shipping out about half as many large, fresh never-frozen turkeys to retailers this year. But executives make clear that plenty of Butterball's large, frozen turkeys will be available."


    • This is what you call a successful product rollout.

    Bloomberg reports that "Sony Corp. sold more than 1 million PlayStation 4 consoles in North America during the first 24 hours of sales, though the company said some buyers reported glitches including the device suddenly turning itself off … The sales, which top initial results for the predecessor PlayStation 3 in 2006, come as Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai tries to make the video-game console the centerpiece of a corporate turnaround strategy."

    I know nothing about gaming, but one thing that strikes me about this story is that seven years between PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 seems like a long time when technology quantum leaps seem to take place all the time.
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 19, 2013

    • The National Grocers Association (NGA) announced that it has hired Laura Strange to be its new director of communications and marketing.

    Strange is a former communications director for Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Rep. Steve Austria (R-Ohio), manager of US government relations for Yahoo!, communications and marketing coordinator for the Council on State Taxation, and communications assistant for Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia).
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 19, 2013

    Yesterday, MNB took note of a Wall Street Journal story about Central United Methodist Church in Concord, North Carolina, where Rev. Andy Langford, the senior pastor, has a uniquely modern approach when it comes to Holy Communion. People who can't make it to church on Sunday can go online to watch the services … and while doing so, can "grab some grape juice and any bread or crackers they have in the house, and consume them after the pastor, in the sanctuary, blesses the juice and bread as representing the blood and body of Christ."

    The Methodist Council of Bishops has opposed the policy. But this statement by Rev. Langford was the one that grabbed my attention: "The way we operate now, if you want to receive [communion], you have to come to my church sometime between the hours of 9 and 12 on Sunday morning. I don't think there's any other institution in our country that can survive on that kind of business model."

    One MNB user wrote:

    Yeah…but can he hear my confession via Skype?…

    MNB reader Mick Kelly wrote:

    Since a Methodist pastor is not capable of turning ordinary bread/juice/crackers into the true Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ the "at home/away from home" piece of the story doesn't even matter.

    From another reader:

    I bet the Council of Bishops will have a change of heart on their moratorium of online sacraments when they realize that they could also accept monetary donations online 24/7.

    Wow. You're even more cynical than I am.

    From MNB reader Rich Heiland:

    I used to be a Rotarian, as were my dad and grandfather before me. I always thought the club was about breaking bread, having some fellowship, sharing. Make-ups were important, in part as I understood it because it gave you new experiences, an opportunity to meet others when you were traveling.

    Now, though, apparently not. You can attend clubs on line, do make-ups on line. Maybe I am an old codger, but this is one case where I don't really get it, unless I am one of those folks you find in Rotary who wants to die with perfect attendance.


    And, from MNB reader Skip Sturtz:

    When it comes down to it, the relationship with Christ is between the individual and God.   A Council of Bishops should not judge my commitment or methods to follow my faith.   My bible is an app.




    And regarding yesterday's piece recognizing the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address…

    One MNB user wrote:

    Thank you for reproducing the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln's speeches are a model of how to speak and write.

    From MNB reader Monte Stowell:

    We had to learn this address in the 7th or 8th grade when I was a kid. The eloquence of the words written by Abraham Lincoln are even more powerful today as when he wrote them in 1863. Wow, Yes, the Gabby Gifford video is the best yet. Thank you for sharing. Americans at their very best.

    MNB reader Andy Casey wrote:

    I wish politicians talked – and thought - like that today …

    Don't we all…
    KC's View:

    Published on: November 19, 2013

    In Monday Night Football, the Carolina Panthers defeated the New England Patriots 24-20.
    KC's View: