retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Late News from the MNB News Wires….

• WASHINGTON, DC - The Obama administration early this morning, having largely closed the books on the first sign up period for the national health insurance plan known as Obamacare, announced a joint effort between the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on a new initiative designed to deliver Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to people in need of what used to be called food stamps.

Beginning in January 2015, the White House said, US citizens qualifying for SNAP benefits will be issued recycled iPhone 4S smartphones. Dubbed "Obamafones," with a picture of the White House and an American flag emblazoned underneath the Apple logo, the smartphones will be automatically loaded with the benefits each month.

And, the White House said, foods allowed to be purchased using the SNAP benefits will be highly restricted, limited to just fruits, vegetables, whole grains and small portions of protein. In a twist, First Lady Michelle Obama said that the Obamafones will be programmed to track how much exercise the owner is getting, and if he or she gets enough exercise, small portions of dessert will be allowed to be bought using federal benefits.

PARIS - The French government voted yesterday to invest in technology that would literally shut down internet access throughout the country from 9 pm to 6 am every weekday and all day Sundays, saying that it was a logical approach to protecting small and even irrelevant businesses from falling prey to competition from online retailers such as Amazon.

It was a little over a year ago that the French Senate voted unanimously to curb discounts by Inc. and other online retailers, seeking to support local bookstores, blocking online stores from offering free shipping on top of a 5 percent maximum discount on books.

"We are tired of these multinational companies coming in here and trying to destroy the world's greatest culture," said Antoine LeCirque, the French cultural preservation minister. "We will do what we have to do to preserve what we have, even if that means shutting our eyes to 21st century realities. It is bad enough that most people get their knowledge of France from Liam Neeson movies and Dan Brown books, and it is time for us to act.

Asked what message this would send to the rest of the world, LeCirque said, "It is simple. I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries."

MOSCOW - Vladimir Putin yesterday looked to put his annexation of Crimea into a business context that he said that most of the world could understand - he compared Russia to Amazon, and himself to Jeff Bezos.

"Think about it," he said through an interpreter. "We have similar haircuts, though I have a much better body. Neither of us recognizes traditional borders. We both believe in the power of disruption. People, except at the uppermost levels of the organization, have trouble working for either of us for very long. And finally, when people challenge our decisions and activities by saying we are not doing things the way we are supposed to, both Bezos and I simply shrug and say, 'I do not give govno'."

Finally, Putin said, winking at the reporters whom he called in for a press conference but never allowed to ask any questions, "There is another way we are alike. For Russia, just like Amazon, today is Day One."
KC's View:
Today is April 1. Need I say more?