Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Barnes & Noble intends to shutter more stores

Did you see the news from AP?  Barnes & Noble plans to shut more stores.  Tower is gone.  Borders is gone.  For books and entertainment, it really is just Barnes & Noble in terms of shopping choices for many Americans who do not shop online.  Or who prefer to browse physically.  It has 689 stores and may go down to as little as 450 by the end of the decade.

Sorry.

And sorry that I really don't give too much of a damn.

That's because I cried over Borders and I care less and less about Barnes & Noble.  I would have thought that the struggling book industry would mean Barnes & Noble would have their clerks be more customer oriented.  Instead, at my store, it basically takes a presidential proclamation to get some help.

Since 249 stores might close in the next seven years, let me include my post from January.

You might be a soon to be closed Barnes & Noble if . . .

Bloomberg News reports that Barnes and Noble saw a decline in holiday shopping season sales.  They're blaming it on the Nook.  They should be blaming it on the staff.


They're the only game in town with the closure of Borders and others.  And that's not providing quality service.

We did an article at Third about how rude they were to a woman who didn't want to lug her purchases through the store or pay in each section ("Dear Barnes & Noble").  All she asked was for a clerk to take her DVD items up to the front counter for her.  Nope.

Since that article, we've heard non-stop complaints from people about their experiences at Barnes and Noble.


I have a feeling that 2013 will see them close a number of stores.  Here's some hints that the store you work at will be on the closing list.

1) You offer free WiFi but apparently don't want anyone to use it. The seats and tables by the magazine racks have all been moved because your snooty employees grew tired of giving people on their laptops and iPads dirty looks. 

2) Your snooty employees stand around and talk to each other. 

3) Your snooty employees profile every customer as a shoplifter and treat them like dirt.

4) Your customers write e-mails with comments like "I always feel dirty after I leave the store."

5) You've forgotten that it's a tough economy and you're asking people to spend money at the swtore and instead act like strangers have barged into your home.

6) Your employees are ignorant.  They're unable to answer questions about basic literary classics, yes, but they also have no idea about recent best sellers.  Maybe that time talking to one another among employees could be better spent learning the stock and what you carry?

7) Your bathrooms are hideous.  "I've seen cleaner restrooms in a Greyhound Bus Station," wrote one woman.

8) You argue with customers.  A lady went to get one of Barnes and Nobles overpriced drinks and tried to use her rewards card.  The guy insisted it had expired.  She insited it hadn't.  He told her he knew what he was talking about.  She bought books on the same visit and told the woman checking her out that she was afraid her card was expired.  The woman scanned it and told her she had three more months until she needed to renew it.




This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

January 29, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, protests continue, Nouri and State of Law smear Anbar Province, Nouri imprisons a Le Monde journalist,  CNN is stopped from reporting by Iraqi police, Nouri tosses out a few dollars more at Sahwa, and more.


We're going to have to deal with something first.  Women in America are under enough assault.  If you have a problem with a woman, call her out. If you're making blanket statements attacking women -- large swaths of unnamed women -- you need to stop calling yourself a feminist.  You're not a feminist.  You're a pain in the ass -- I'm referring to Zillah Eisenstein, you're a Marxist, you're a woman who needs to learn how to use brush on that ratty hair (or is grooming not important at Ithaca College), but you're not a feminist.

Cindy Sheehan shared her opinion on the change regarding combat and allowing US women into combat and did so without insulting women.  For Cindy, instead of including women in combat, she felt the world would be better served by having men banned from combat as well and ending wars.  That is a feminist view.  We were happy to include it.

But not everyone has Cindy heart and the result is that a lot of women are getting pissed off because they're being insulted.  I understand the feeling and you can include me on that list.  This topic is currently the number one issue today in the e-mails to this site according to Martha and Shirley who informed me last night that it was also the number one topic yesterday.   You may or may not choose to join the military.  If you do, you may or may not choose to go for combat.  These are choices.  And women can be make any choice they want.

Zillah Eisenstein's assault at Al Jazeera is only the latest thing angering women.  She feels the need to refer to Iraq War veteran Jessica Lynch as "the now famous blond."  Excuse me?  What the hell does Jessica Lynch's hair color have to do with one damn thing?  Oh, yeah, we get the coded language you're trying to speak in Zillah.  (And your hatred for the pretty girl, yeah, we get that too.)  She makes other insane comments. "The pay" is not "about equal between Wal-Mart and the military" and that's an offensive statement.  Wal-Mart has a pledge to hire vets.  I've been asked why we're not applauding that.  Wal-Mart screws over people regularly, they underpay and they also have a real problem of requiring people to work off the clock.  A job at Wal-Mart is better than a job no where but I'm not going to praise it. Equally true, if you join the military, you've got health care.  If you're married to a member of the opposite sex (and hopefully this will shortly be true if you're married to a member of the same sex), they have health care coverage.  If you honorably discharge or retire from the service, you've got the VA for health care.  Do not pretend that Wal-Mart and the military are "about equal" in terms of pay.  That's disgusting.  And you would think a Marxist would go out of her way to avoid making such an idiotic statement.

Zillah wants you not to "confuse the presence of females, especially in combat, with gender 'equality'."  No problem, Zillah.  I see Al Jazeera offering token American women as columnists.  I never mistake these women for feminists. Including Zillah. 

Throughout time and history, women have shown various sides and carried out various roles.  But Zillah wants you to be 'dainty.'  If you want combat, there's something wrong with you and you're not a woman or you're a woman who loves drones or whatever else garbage Zillah's tossing out in her badly written article that goes to how academic 'feminists' really need to learn to write for the masses when they're writing columns for the people. Amazons are a part of Greek mythology.  That's Hippolyta and her sister Penthesilea.  So in 7th century BC, women fighters could be envisioned but it's somehow unknown to Zillah?

Women can be whatever they want to be and should be.  We don't question a man's identity because he wants to go into combat, nor should we question a woman's identity.

Right now, women veterans and women service members are watching as various men attack them and insist that they couldn't handle combat.  At the same time, do we really need Zillah and her kindred also attacking women and suggesting there's something wrong with them if they want to take part in combat?

I don't think so.  Equally true, we're talking about different genders, not different species.  This nonsense has to stop.

You want to call out women?  There are plenty worth calling out.  Choose a name and have at it.  But don't insult a group of women and think you're a feminist because you're not.  Don't degrade their dreams and desires because your own are different.  That's not feminism.  What Zillah practicies does have a name: Know-it-all-ism. 

By contrast, Laura Browder (Time magazine) listens to women:
As I talked to more than 50 women who have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan—or both—I was struck by how determined many of these women were to serve their country on the battlefield. Army Staff Sergeant Jamie Rogers told me, “As a soldier, it’s something that you always want to do. For myself, I felt it was my obligation and that’s what I had been training for all these years, to do my job in combat. And I was very honored. I got to lead soldiers in combat, and I proved to myself that all this training was worthwhile.”
Rogers, who was in the military police, was out on patrol 12 hours of every 24. As she said of the experience, “It’s very life-changing.” While civilians may still see women in the military as being marginal, no female soldier I ever talked to saw herself as anything less than a military professional on par with her male comrades in arms.
As one West Point graduate explained to me, it felt as though she had been reading technical manuals on how to ride a bicycle—but to really be a soldier, she had to get on the bike itself. I heard variations of this sentiment from many women. And of course, many of the women I talked to did serve as explosives-sniffing dog handlers, military police whose jobs involved busting down doors and conducting house-to-house searches, and convoy gunners like Bumgarner.

Still on the military, he wants to shake hands with Blake Shelton and he's looking forward to the day he can drive again.  Those were two of the answers Iraq War veteran Brendan Marrocco gave today at a Johns Hopkins Hospital news conference in Baltimore Maryland today.  An April 12, 2009 bombing left him a quadruple amputee.  Yesterday, came news that last month Brendan received a double-arm transplant.  Today he participated in a news conference wearing a "Keep Calm and Chive On" t-shirt.

Brendan Marrocco:  I hated not having arms.  I was alright with not having legs. Not having arms takes so much away from you, even your personality. You know, you talk with your hands, you do everything with your hands basically, and when you don't have that, you're kind of lost for awhile.



About his donor, Brendan Marrocco declared,  "I don't know too much about the donor, but I would like to thank them.  I'm humbled.  They've changed my life."  Christina Lopez and Matthew Larotonda (ABC News) report on the news conference here. CBS News covers the news conference here and Linda Carroll (NBC News) covers it here.  (Quote and answers are from the conference.  A friend was supposed to have help covering the news conference.  He did not.  So while he got images, he left the phone line open and I took notes for him.  I heard the conference, I was not present.)

Brendan Marrocco:  You know I never really gave up on too much that really mattered to me.  If I didn't care, I gave up in a second but if I truly cared about it in my heart, uh, if it really meant something to me, I would go through hell to do it so that's basically what I'm doing now.



Today Wladimir van Wilgenburg (Rudaw) observes, "The British government remains reluctant to recognize the 1988 gassing of thousands of Iraqi Kurds by Saddam Hussein as genocide, saying it is waiting for an international judicial body to make sure a declaration first."  That's not the only thing the British government is struggling to deal with.  Sky News explains,  "Scores of lawyers representing Iraqis are going to the High Court seeking an 'independent' public inquiry into allegations that British interrogators were guilty of the systemic abuse of civilians in Iraq."  ITV notes that Public Interest Lawyers' Phil Shiner is representing 192 Iraqis.  So what was taking place at the High Court today?  Al Bawaba explains that arguments were being delivered as to "whether a previous inquiry run by the British Ministry of Defence was robust enough and sufficiently independent, as well as if mistreatment was systematic. The case is expected to last three days."

That'll be much shorter than the days spent behind bars in Iraq for a  Le Monde journalist.  As we noted this morning, Nadir  Dendoune, who holds dual Algerian and Australian citizenship was covering Iraq for the fabled French newspaper Le Monde's monthly magazine.  His assignment was to document Iraq 10 years after the start of the Iraq War.   Alsumaria explains the journalist was grabbed by authorities in Baghdad last week for the 'crime' of taking pictures.  (Nouri has imposed a required permit, issued by his government, to 'report' in Iraq.)  All Iraq News adds the journalist has been imprisoned for over a week now without charges.

The 'crime' of taking pictures?  You may remember Nouri immediately launched a war on the press in the summer of 2006.  Let's drop back to the October 2, 2006 snapshot:

Operation Happy Talkers are on the move and telling you that Nouri al-Maliki offers a 'four-point' peace plan.  You may have trouble reading of the 'four-point' plan because the third point isn't about "peace" or "democracy" so reports tend to ignore it. The first step has already been (rightly) dismissed by Andrew North (BBC) of the "local security committees": "In fact, most neighourhoods of Baghdad set up their own local security bodies some time ago to protect themselves -- because they do not trust the authorities to look after them."  AP reports that the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of the 'peace' plan (reality title: "continued carnage plan").  Step three?  Let's drop back to the September 7th snapshot:
 
 
Switching to the issue of broadcasting, were they showing episodes of Barney Miller or NYPD Blue? Who knows but police pulled the plug on the satellite network al-Arabiya in Baghdad. CNN was told by a company official (Najib Ben Cherif) that the offices "is being shut for a month." AP is iffy on who gave the order but notes that Nouri al-Malike started making warnings/threats to television stations back in July. CNN reports: "A news alert on Iraqi State TV said the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the office closed for a month."
 
Ah, yes, the puppet's war with the press.  The so-called peace plan is more of the same.  The third 'plank' is about the media. Which is why the "brave" US media repeatedly cites the first two and stays silent while a free media (something a democracy is dependent upon) walks the plank.
 
It's disgusting and shameful, the third 'plank.'  The whole 'plan' is a joke.  Reuters is one of the few to go beyond the first two 'steps' but even it does a really poor job and those over coverage of Iraq in the mainstream (producers to suits) are very concerned about this.  (So why don't they report it?)  The "plan" isn't a plan for peace, it's a plan for the puppet to attempt to save his own ass for a few more months. Lee Keath (AP) is only one of many ignoring the third step (possibly AP thinks readers are unable to count to four?) but does note that al-Maliki took office last May with a 24-point plan that, to this day, "has done little to stem the daily killings."  Nor will this so-called 'peace plan.'  The US military and the American "ambassador" have announced  that Nouri al-Maliki better show some results ('after all we've paid' going unspoken). 
 



To praise his plan back then, reporters had to ignore the third plank.  Fortunately for Nouri, western reporters have always been more than willing to cover for him despite -- or maybe because of -- his attacks on the press.  It's why they continue.  Mohammed Tawfeeq does real reporting for CNN out of Iraq.  Today he Tweets:





And, of course, there's  Aziz Ghazal Abbas, the Alsumaria journalist that the Iraqi military fired on in Falluja Friday.  That's when the Iraqi military opened fire on protesters killing 7 people and injuring at least sixty (including the Alsumaria journalist).  Today Alsumaria reports that Iraqiya is demanding Nouri al-Malik (prime minister and head of the Minister of Defense due to his failure to ever nominate someone to that post) and his puppet 'acting' Minister of Defense Saadoun al-Dulaimi hand over the military members who opened fire.  Iraqiya also rejects efforts to conflate the death of 2 soldiers with the protest.  The massacre took place first.  This dispersed some of the crowd.  A tiny portion remained and others joined it over a two hour period.  Only after that took place were two soldiers harmed -- harmed five kilometers (roughly 3 miles) from where the protest earlier that day was held.  Nouri and company have repeatedly attempted to rewrite events and pretend that 2 soldiers were killed and then the military opened fire.  That is not what happened.  In related smears, All Iraq News notes State of Law MPs are insisting that Anbar Province is under control of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. 

Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports all killed during the protest were civilians and that Iraqiya is fighting back against the baseless charges (predominately spread by Nouri's puppet Hussein al-Shahristani) that the seven dead includes 2 members of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and 2 Ba'athists. 

All Iraq News notes that Martin Kolber, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, visited Mosul today to speak with the protesters.  Alsumaria adds that he also met with the Nineveh Provincial Council and Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, tribal leaders and clerics.  The meeting was closed door.   Dar Addustour explains that the Parliament Sunday read an initial report from the Parliamentary Committee formed to investigate what took place in Falluja.  Initial recommendations include keeping the military and federal police (Nouri controls both) away from protesters and allowing local forces to provide any protection needed.

Saturday the Parliament voted to limit the three presidencies (President, Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister) to two terms.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reported that 170 of the 242 MPs present voted in favor of the law.  Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey and Andrew Roche (Reuters) add, "Lawmakers from Sunni, Kurdish and Shi'ite parties voted for the law, but the legislation still needs the president's approval and will face challenges in federal court after Maliki's supporters rejected it as illegal."  Today Al Mada reports that the Federal Supreme Court is set to rule and is expected to rule that the law is Constitutional but that it cannot be retroactive.  Meaning the law will stand but it will be said to start a policy beginning when it was passed, therefore Nouri will be able to run for a third term if he wants to.  The editorial board of the Saudi Gazette provides this overview:



Iraqi premier Nouri Al-Maliki appears to have painted himself into a political corner.  Since instigating the trial in absentia of deputy vice-president Tareq Al-Hashimi, which sentenced the leading Sunni politician to death for his supposed involvement in Sunni death squads, Maliki has been losing the support of the Sunni community. 
Some might argue that he has also lost virtually all ability to influence Iraq’s Kurdish minority which is busy building ever greater autonomy in the north of the country to the extent that the regional government in Arbil has been awarding exploration licenses to international oil companies, without any reference to Baghdad where the final authority ought to rest. It has been Iraq’s president, the veteran Kurdish politician Jalal Talabani, who underpinned the notion that Iraq remained united. But the 79-year-old Talabani is abroad recovering from a serious stroke and there are many who believe that he will never be fit enough to return to his presidential duties.
Now it seems that many of Maliki’s fellow Shias are also becoming fed up with his leadership.  On Saturday, the parliament voted by a majority of 68 to limit Iraqi prime ministers to two terms in office.  Maliki’s supporters have protested that no such provision was imposed on the presidency or the speakership of parliament. They have vowed to challenge the vote in the courts.


AFP reports Nouri's intent to buy off the protesters,  "Iraqi officials said Tuesday they would raise the salaries of Sunni militiamen who fought Al-Qaeda during the country’s brutal sectarian war, the latest bid to appease mostly Sunni anti-government rallies. The immediate two-thirds increase in wages for the Sahwa, otherwise known as the Sons of Iraq or the Awakening, comes as officials have trumpeted a substantial prisoner release in the face of more than a month of demonstrations in the country’s north and west."  And on the release of a small number of prisoners -- or alleged release -- Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf Tweets.



tribal leaders say says he will push for amnesty for all female prisoners 'without exception' but did he actually say it?
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  1. 's office confirms amnesty for female prisoners in as well as men but says it excludes those facing terrorism charges...


Through Monday, Iraq Body Count counts 333 violent deaths in Iraq this month.  The month ends on Thursday.  For reference, we'll note 272 was the number of violent deaths Iraq Body Count tabulated for December.   Today  All Iraq News reports a police captain was shot dead while driving his car in Baghdad.  Alsumaria notes the bombing of the home of a Sahwa in Kirkuk and a Kirkuk bombing which left four security forces injured, an armed attack in Mosul which claimed the life of 1 police officer and police shot dead 1 suspect and arrested another in Mosul.


Iraq is also a victim of the weather -- mainly due to Nouri's years of refusing to put any of the billions and billions of oil dollars into repairing the public infrastructure.  When it rains, the lack of adequate drainage and functioning sewers means the rain quickly floods the streets of Baghdad. Dar Addustour notes that yesterday saw steady rainfall in Baghdad (check out the photo). The rains continue today and streets are flooded and electricity is out in many areas.  Nouri's Iraq, how proud he must be.  All Iraq News also notes a home in Karbala has collapsed due to the rains.  AFP's Prashant Rao Tweets:


Pictures from of Baghdad's flooded streets:
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Turning to the US,  Iraq Veterans Against the War notes a campaign planning session at the start of March:



























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