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No more Mattel toys in Brazil?

Mattel's problems are as bad as I thought…

Brazil Suspends Mattel's Licenses to Import Toys (Update3)

By Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Heather Burke

Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil suspended licenses held by Mattel Inc., the world's largest toymaker, to import its goods into the country after a recall of more than 21 million Chinese- made toys that began last month.

Some licenses were revoked on Aug. 17, according to a statement posted last night on the Web site of the Development, Trade and Industry Ministry. The permits can only be renewed after Mattel has assured local authorities and consumers that all technical and safety standards have been met.

``The objective of this is to avert that defective toys, all those that appear in the company's global recall list, enter Brazilian soil,'' the ministry said.

Mattel's recalls of toys with lead paint or magnets that may become detached and swallowed by children have occurred heading into the fourth-quarter holiday season, which last year accounted for more than one-third of annual revenue. Chief Executive Officer Robert Eckert is testifying today at a U.S. Senate hearing on toy safety.

Forty-four percent of Mattel's revenue comes from outside the U.S., Chief Financial Officer Kevin Farr said in a Sept. 10 presentation. Brazil is probably Mattel's second-largest market in Latin America after Mexico, according to Sean McGowan, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities in New York. [MORE]

FedEx Employees Win Discrimination Lawsuit

Last month, FedEx Express, the overnight delivery unit of FedEx Corp., agreed to a $55 million settlement in a discrimination lawsuit filed by Black and Latino employees in the western United States. For article on lawsuit, click here. If you want to read the technical legal stuff, click here.

After all is said and done, on average, the more than 22,000 FedEx employees may receive a couple of thousand dollars each. The lawyers already get $15 million plus administrative costs. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't refuse a couple of thousand dollars but there's definitely something wrong with that picture.

Wake-Up Call: A Crude Awakening

It's been more than a couple of weeks since I've heard anything from Matt over at A Bowl of Stupid. I checked out his space and sure enough he hasn't posted since the end of July. I'm not gonna sweat about it just yet because since he left the legal field and started this incredible journey to some rather amazing countries, I've learned a lot and been treated to his razor-sharp wit. I do hope he's just out-of-pocket right now.

Anyhoo, while checking his most current posts, I got a wake-up call from his particularly poignant post on the oil crisis and the documentary, A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash. I've posted a trailer of the movie; it's different from the one on Matt's page but please go to A Bowl of Stupid and read Matt's post. Consider yourself warned.

If you live in America and you only speak English, you need a wake-up call

I live in Miami where it seems that almost everyone is from somewhere else and still claim their native country as their own even if they are citizens of the USA. It's somewhat strange and Tom Tancredo raised the ire of many when he called Miami a third-world country not too long ago. Hmmmm….let's not go there.

Miami is really a great place when folks are not claiming allegiance to some ethnic group or country other than America, to the detriment of others. Miami is like a vacation to any foreign country of your choosing without actually leaving the area. You can taste the foods, dance to music or hear the native tongue of folks from countries around the world.

All this is enjoyed by those open to all that Miami has to offer. Far too often though, folks are too much into their own culture and unwilling to truly appreciate others. Children can grow up in their neighborhood and never venture far from its boundaries. That's a shame.

For Black American children it's more of a shame because many grow up in a monolingual household with little or no opportunity to prepare them for a multilingual world. Rather than stand around waving the American flag as if speaking a foreign language is an assault on democracy, make sure you and your children can communicate in another language.

In Miami, blacks can get caught up in the issue of speaking Spanish. I say, don't be so short-sighted, the real concern is not Spanish, it's whatever language that's being spoken in India; that's were a significant percentage of American jobs are being outsourced to.

In case you need a wake-up call, read The World is Flat. It's all about globalization and how we'll survive in the future. Don't trip out and get angry, just do something progressive. Our American education system must change---No Child Left Behind does not work--- and our consciousness must change if we are to adequately prepare Americans to survive, thrive and prosper.

The PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Bottled Water Scam

The latest commotion about Aquafina being little more than tap water has sent my health-conscious friends into a tizzy. Dasani had the same problem back in 2004 in the UK. Who knew? I just know my granddad is looking down from heaven saying, "I told you so. Folks shouldn't pay good money for what Mother Nature makes bountifully."

I do drink bottled water but I try to only drink Evian and Zephyr Hills. They taste better to me. Aquafina and Dasani are the only brands in the vending machines in my office building but my days of purchasing them have come to a screeching halt. At a buck a pop, for tap water, I went back to the water fountain and I'll save money also.

I still feel taken advantage of. Perhaps, someone somewhere is mounting a class action suit against Pepsi and Coca-Cola, manufacturers of Aquafina and Dasani. If so, sign me up.

From Think Outside the Bottle website:

Media Coverage of the Think Outside the Bottle Campaign

Momentum is building in the campaign to challenge corporate control of water. Dozens of media outlets have brought national attention to the bottled water issue. See our interview with TV20's 'Your Green Report' on the San Francisco Executive Directive, which bans bottled water in the city in favor of tap water. Here's a sampling of recent coverage:

Read our letter in the New York Times. Read more.

Pure Water, Right on Tap. Read Yvonne Abraham's column in the Boston Globe.

Tune into our interview about Bottled Water with NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook. Listen now.

New Yorkers Urged to Drink Tap Water. Listen to NPR's Morning Edition report. Read more.

Ditching Bottled Water for Tap Water. Read ABC News' report.

PepsiCo to review label of Aquafina water brand. Read more.

Starbucks is raising prices

Yesterday one of the local newscasters announced that Starbucks is raising its prices. It's likely that you'll pay a dime more per cup for that already overpriced coffee beverage. The broadcast went on to interview customers as to whether they'd continue to patronize the coffee chain in light of the increase. Only one of approximately seven people indicated they'd stop going to Starbucks. Excuse me but the story lost its newsworthiness after about a minute; the rest was fluff.

I like Starbucks. I don't go there as often as I'd like because I'm just too busy to drive out of the way for coffee. Heck, Starbucks coffee, latte, frappucino, chai and anything else they sell there doesn't taste that great. I don't go to Starbucks for the coffee, I go for the atmosphere and my associates that are there. It's a nice place to just chill or get a few things done on my laptop. If I really wanted coffee, I'd make it at home for a whole lot cheaper.

The price increase won't keep me away from Starbucks. On the other hand, gasoline prices just might.

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Smart Business Move: Queen Latifah to Open Fatburger on South Beach

Fatburger_2 I sure hope there is such a menu item as a vegetarian fatburger as The Queen (Latifah) is scheduled to open South Florida's first Fatburger on Miami Beach. The famous West Coast eatery quietly found a home on other parts of the East Coast but that quietness will come to an end when the joint opens later this year on Miami Beach.

How do I know it's going to be huge? Well, the fact that all of the major news programs announced it ad nauseum is a clue. I'm sure Magic Johnson's Burger Kings must be shaking in their boots. Hmmm… As soon as The Queen realizes there is more territory ripe for the picking, she may venture on the mainland.

What's next? Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles? All hail the Queen, now pass me some of those fat skinny fries!

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Oh, My Aching Back or I'm a Sunbeam Customer for Life! The power of Exceptional Customer Service

About six or seven months ago I hurt my back --- I mean really hurt my back. If you asked me how I did it, I really couldn’t tell you. All I know is that I was in such pain that I almost wanted to be put out of my misery. It didn’t matter how, just as long as it was quick. I know that doesn’t seem cool but that’s how I felt at the time.

I couldn’t sleep, sit up or lie down without practically coming to tears. I couldn’t even lift my legs or bend so bathing and getting dressed was horrible. Let’s not even think about using the facilities. Injuries from my early tomboy years, dance training and cheerleading did not compare to this.

After practically overdosing on Alleve pain reliever, a little Haitian rum and slathering on enough BenGay that the house smelled like a locker-room, I managed to make it to Walgreens to purchase a chair backpad massager. I’d seen one of those Shiatsu massagers by Homedics when I was there last week; there was one left. I bought it in spite of the $100 price tag. Pain will do that to you.

I also purchased a Sunbeam Flexible Heating Pad for my back and I could use it on my right knee that still gives me problems from about six years ago when I stopped myself from falling down the stairs at FIU (Florida International University).

For two days, when I wasn’t getting massaged, I wore the heating pad. I felt good enough to force myself to work. I still couldn’t turn at the waist but I went to work anyway. The thought of the work piling up on my desk was enough for me to endure the pain. The back massaging chair pad became the hit of the office and other offices on the floor. Folks from other offices visited and even borrowed it from time to time.

Today, one of the secretaries was in such pain that I offered her to use my heating pad. I’d only used it two or three times. Lo and behold, the heating pad didn’t work There was an “F2” code on the heating control. After trying to make it work, I googled the Sunbeam Corporation and called the customer service number.

After waiting a few minutes to actually speak to a human, the young lady who answered was so polite and helpful. I told her how long ago I’d the item but I didn’t have the receipt. I know I didn’t register the item; it’s a heating pad for Christ’s sake. Anyhoo, she was able to determine that the item was still under warranty based on a control number I read off to her. She then told me that the problem was irreparable.

To my surprise, she asked for my name and mailing address. She told me I should receive a new unit within two to four weeks. No hassle. I asked her if I needed to return the old unit and she said no. I had to pinch myself.

I am now a Sunbeam customer for life. If that’s how they do business, that’s the kind of business for me. I shared my customer service experience with everyone in my office and now I’m sharing it with you. That’s the karma and impact of good customer service. Don’t forget that bad customer service travels even faster.

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Steve Jobs: Master Entrepreneur

Steve Jobs is a genius and here’s 14 year-old VHS footage to prove it. The video quality is very poor but watching and listening to the exchange of ideas between Jobs and his colleagues is fascinating.
Part 1 of 2
Part 2 of 2

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Those Girls Gone Wild videos should be moved to the adult TV channels

The recent uproar over painful comments made by Don Imus about the Rutgers ladies basketball team forced music industry moguls to re-evaluate the negative language and images in rap music. I am praying that a similar incident will force change regarding the filming and distribution of those damn Girls Gone Wild videos.

I really don’t understand why the general population is not up in arms about these videos. The impact of the Girls Gone Wild videos is just as negative as rap music, if not more so.

There is a time and place for most things. Basic cable channels, no matter the time of the broadcast day, are not the place to hawk Girls Gone Wild. Move them to the adult channels where they belong.

The behavior of the young women in the advertisement is beyond disgusting. The girls are too young to understand the damage participating in these videos can have on their future, unless they want to be porn stars. I also don’t get why those trashy commercials don’t violate FCC laws.

Don Imus is off the air but perhaps another media personality will step forward and say something about Girls Gone Wild.

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