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Day: November 22, 2017

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND SHOP SMART AT BLACK FRIDAY SALES

Long before your Christmas turkey has been bought, retailers everywhere are luring potential customers in on Black Friday with doorbuster sales and in-store discounts.

Online stores have already begun “leaking” their big — and now weeklong — Black Friday sales.

Whether you plan to get in line or shop from home, here are some ways to beat the marketing madness and be a smart shopper.

Do your homework now

It’s hard not to get caught up in the retail frenzy, even if you don’t want to. The ads are everywhere, everyone is talking about deals and it seems like everyone has something on sale.

On the surface, it seems appealing: You get an early start on holiday shopping and you save some money, too. If that refrain sounds familiar — like you fell for it last year — do a little homework now to save yourself both temptation and money later.

The New York Times’ product review site, suggests keeping an eye out early for deals coming before the big shopping days. “Last year, we saw a decent amount of products drop to their Black Friday prices a couple weeks ahead of time, so you can save yourself a lot of hassle if you start watching deals early,” .

Figure out your holiday shopping list before Black Friday, and come up with some gift ideas for as many people as you can. Most people,  tend to procrastinate on this, but if you have a good sense of the things you want to buy for the holidays, Black Friday is a great chance to knock them out early while saving money,” said Shep McAllister, editor of Kinja Deals, a site that also tracks deals around the web.

If you want a specific item, check its price today at multiple stores. Add those items to a wishlist or your shopping cart (and then abandon the cart) so you can see how much the prices change between now and Black Friday. This helps reveal exactly how big a discount that sale price really is.

Retailers often offer deep discounts on limited quantities or specific product models in order to lure in buyers. Making a list in advance avoids the old “this is close enough” rationalization, and it’ll keep you from buying something you didn’t really want just because it was on sale.

“Make sure you note the correct model number, since sometimes during the holidays, retailers will feature products that look almost identical but might have completely different features than you’re expecting,” Mr. Burakowski said.

But do retailers mark up items just to slash their prices on Black Friday?

Mr. Burakowski explained that yes, that happens, but things have changed compared to years past, when the problem was bigger, and the deals less attractive. “You’ll see a lot of house brands on sale and definitely see the street price of items bounce up before the holiday, but there’s enough great deals that it’s worth the hassle. As long as you do a bit of research ahead of time, you’ll be able to score some serious discounts.”

Be tech savvy, and don’t rush

Aside from using wish lists to track prices, there are tools for your smartphone or computer that can help make sure you’re actually getting a bargain.

CamelCamelCamel, available for Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox web browsers, can track price fluctuations on Amazon to make sure you’re not leaping at a discount that’s actually small margin off a previously marked up price.

Invisible Hand, also available for Chrome, Firefox, and Apple’s Safari browser, shows you a discreet notification while you shop online that will alert you to a lower price at another online retailer. It even has an iPhone app so you can take its price-matching tech on the go.

Honey, another browser extension, tries a different approach, and automatically searches the web for coupon codes applicable to your purchases at online retailers before you check out. If it finds one, it’ll automatically apply it to your cart to save you money. While it doesn’t find discounts for you or make sure you’re getting the best price, it does go that extra mile to save you a little cash before you click “purchase.”

The downside to tools like these is that they require extensive information about where you’re shopping and what you’re buying in order to work. Similarly, many of them get a cut of your total when you place an order with an online retailer. Neither approach is insidious, but you should be aware of both before you use them.

Mr. Burakowski also noted that sometimes your best bet is to just wait a little bit. Fill a cart and abandon it, and many online retailers will email you a coupon code or free shipping asking you to complete the transaction. Sometimes you can even ask for a coupon code via the retailer’s live chat before you check out.

When asked if you should jump on deals as soon as you see them, Mr. Burakowski said there’s no need to. “Last year, we saw a tremendous growth in retailers starting their deals Thursday — as in, we posted almost as many deals Thursday as we did Friday, and a similar amount on Monday,” he said. “Many of the Monday ones were repeats of the ones featured across Thursday and Friday, so you may get another chance to score some of those deals you missed out on.”

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 “Some Black Friday deals are already going live, and almost all of them will be available on or before Thanksgiving day,” he said. A lot of those will remain available through the weekend, and bleed into the deals advertised as part of Cyber Monday, which will mostly go live on Sunday, because these terms are effectively meaningless at this point. Internally, we just refer to the whole thing as Deals Week.”

Just keep an eye on stock levels. Only jump if you’re worried something will be so popular it’ll sell out.

Don’t bother lining up

Shopping online in your pajamas is certainly more comfortable than sitting in the cold waiting for a store to open. Mr. Burakowski said that if your impulse is to stay home, follow it.

“I’ve never liked lining up overnight and don’t think it’s worth it in 99 percent of cases, unless you’ve got a very specific product in mind that has extremely limited quantities,” he said. “While everything you see offline will be available online, it can be a lot more difficult to get one of the truly rare deals online than if you’re first in line and guaranteed to get it.”

“The only place you should line up on Thanksgiving afternoon is on the line of scrimmage for a family football game,” Mr. McAllister said. “Basically every deal you can get in stores will be available online, and usually matched by multiple other retailers. There are still a handful of doorbusters that are really and truly brick-and-mortar only, but they’re typically low-quality products that you should probably avoid anyway.”

For some, lining up for Black Friday deals is tradition, or a way to spend the day after Thanksgiving getting into the holiday shopping spirit. If getting the best deals and saving money is your goal, it’s not worth it.

For others, shopping at home — or not at all, as in the Buy Nothing Day campaign — is a pleasant alternative to encouraging stores to force retail workers to work on Black Friday.

Watch out for scams and protect your identity

Finally, whether you shop in-person or online anytime during the holiday season, it’s important to protect your personal information. We offer some tips to keep your personal data safe here and some ways to watch out for identity theft here.

Keep an eye on your credit and bank statements for fraudulent charges, avoid signing up for high-interest store cards or giving out too much personal information, and use strong passwords when shopping and banking online.

Similarly, take steps to protect yourself from online shopping scams and bait-and-switch listings.

Shop from reputable sellers and retailers — and that includes on sites like Amazon, which allow third-parties to list products for sale.

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Mr. Burakowski noted: “I’d advise shoppers to be extra careful about third party listings on some of the major sites like Amazon. We’ve been seeing a fair few more scam listings, dramatically below the street price of the item from sellers with zero feedback that somehow can become the featured seller.” This rule also applies to sites like eBay, Jet, Shopify and eBid.

The best thing you can do is just be patient. Sometimes the best deals are yet to come, and you’ll find them later in the season, on your own schedule, from a retailer you trust. Do your homework and keep a cool head, and you’ll be happier for it.

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MUGABE’S FORMER DEPUTY MNANGAGWA TO BE SWORN IN AS ZIMBABWEAN PRESIDENT

Following the enforced resignation of Robert Mugabe, former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is to be sworn in as Zimbabwe’s new President

Th incoming president will arrive in Harare on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the expected swearing in ceremony.

In a statement,  Mr Mnangagwa, who fled for his safety after Mr Mugabe sacked him two weeks ago, congratulated Zimbabweans and promised inclusivity for national progress.

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The incoming President with former his boss Robert Mugabe

“Together we will ensure a peaceful transition to the consolidation of our democracy, and bring in a fresh start for all Zimbabweans and foster peace and unity.
As I make my way back home, I look forward together with you the people of Zimbabwe to tackle the political and economic challenges facing our beloved country Zimbabwe,” he said.

Mr Mugabe announced his resignation with immediate effect on Tuesday afternoon.

The 93-year-old said he had chosen to step down “to ensure a smooth, peaceful and non-violent transfer of power”, and that he had made the decision voluntarily.

The African Union (AU) also welcomed the decision, saying the people had expressed their will for a “peaceful transfer of power.”

AU commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said he welcomed “the decision by President Robert Mugabe to step down from his position as Head of State following a lifetime of service to the Zimbabwean nation”.

 

What you need to know about the new Zimbabwean leader

Mr Mnangagwa was elected as the new leader of the ruling ZANU-PF party – an indication that Mr Mugabe underestimated the man he ousted.

He is known as The Crocodile, which some say is after a group of African nationalist rebels in the early days of the fight against white majority rule.

Others, meanwhile, say it stems from his power, ruthlessness and ability to survive the tough, sometimes aggressive world of African politics.

The name is so established that his supporters are known as Team Lacoste, due to the brand’s crocodile logo.

Protesters hold posters showing support for Emmerson Mnangagwa
Image:Protesters hold posters showing support for Emmerson Mnangagwa

Just three days ago, as Mr Mugabe was refusing to leave office despite the army urging him to quit, crowds of people gathered in Harare waving placards bearing Mr Mnangagwa’s picture and slogans demanding his return to office.

The 75-year-old was loyal to his former boss for years, gaining a reputation for being astute, ruthless and effective.

Many say Mr Mnangagwa was one of those who helped the dictator cling to power when, at times, it seemed as if his grip might be weakening.

He is most notorious for, as the country’s minister for national security, overseeing the security services during the brutal 1983 campaign against the supporters of Mugabe rival Joshua Nkomo, which became known as the Matabeleland massacres.

Between 10,000 and 20,000 Ndebele people are said to have died in Zimbabwe’s southern provinces during the civil conflict, which involved the Zimbabwe army’s Fifth Brigade, equipped and trained by North Korea.

The North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade troops are alleged to have carried out the Matabeleland massacres
Image:The North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade troops are alleged to have carried out the Matabeleland massacres

Mr Mnangagwa is rumoured to have amassed a sizeable fortune and been involved in the development of diamond trading in Harare.

The Atlantic Council, a US-based policy institute, says Mr Mnangagwa was targeted by US sanctions in the early 2000s, for undermining democratic development in Zimbabwe, and he was named in a United Nations investigation into exploitation of mineral resources in Congo.

But some say his willingness to work with others in Zimbabwe’s establishment, possibly including opposition figures, could mean the country can finally move forward after years of economic failure and political repression.

In 2008, he was the election agent who helped broker the creation of a unity government that brought in opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister, after balloting that was marked by violence and allegations of vote-rigging.

Mr Mnangagwa is said to have been crucial to engineering the appointment of Morgan Tsvangirai (left) in the 2008 government
Image:Mr Mnangagwa is said to have been crucial to engineering the appointment of Morgan Tsvangirai (left) in the 2008 government

Former UK foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind told Sky News: “The negative is he’s got a lousy record – he was involved in the very serious massacres in the Matabeleland a long, long time ago – and his succession, if that’s what happens, would be a continuation of the status quo.

“But a smooth succession to Mnangagwa would still be an improvement.

“Not only because he is 20 years younger and not suffering from senility, as Mugabe has at least part of the time, but also because he is more likely to be pragmatic.

“He knows the country is an economic mess.

“If he is going to make any prospects for success, he has to persuade the international community to help on the financial and trading side, and he’s also got to show that he’s willing to include the opposition, who could make an important contribution to Zimbabwe’s gradual recovery.”

On Tuesday, hours before he was due to arrive back in his country, after which he could become the new leader, Mr Mnangagwa said: “The people of Zimbabwe have spoken with one voice and it is my appeal to President Mugabe that he should take heed of this clarion call by the people of Zimbabwe to resign, so that the country can move forward and preserve his legacy.”

Emmerson Mnangagwa attends a demonstration as justice minister in 2000
Image:Mr Mnangagwa attends a demonstration as justice minister in 2000

So, what is the background of this figure due to take over a role which for many years it appeared no one would ever be allowed to hold?

Emmerson Mnangagwa’s CV

Born: Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa on 15 September 1942, in Zvishavane, a mining town in the midlands of what was then Southern Rhodesia, part of the British Empire.

Parents: His father was a politically active farmer, steeped in the resistance movement against white farmers, according to The New York Times.

Early education: His family relocated to Northern Rhodesia (later Zambia) in 1955. He completed school there before taking a building course from the age of 14. He later transferred to technical college but was expelled for political activism in 1960.

Mr Mnangagwa has been a lieutenant of Mr Mugabe for many years. This file picture is from 2003
Image:Mr Mnangagwa, pictured with Mr Mugabe in 2003, had worked with him for many years

Early career: While trying to work as a builder, he joined the party of later Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda before switching to the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) and then the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).

Political fight: He joined the battle against white minority rule in Southern Rhodesia in the early 1960s, receiving military training in Egypt and China in 1963.

Convicted: As one of the earliest guerrilla fighters against the government of Ian Smith, he was captured in 1965, tortured and convicted of blowing up a train.

Jailed: As he was judged to be under 21 at the time, he escaped hanging and was jailed for 10 years, alongside other nationalists including Mr Mugabe.

Advanced education: While in jail he undertook correspondence courses and passed O-levels and A-levels, and embarked on a law degree.

Release from jail: After finishing his law degree and starting to practice, he travelled to Mozambique where he became Robert Mugabe’s assistant and bodyguard.

Ascent to government: In 1979, he accompanied Mr Mugabe to London for talks on Zimbabwe’s future, and became security minister the following year after the country received full independence.

Cabinet roles: During his time in government, he has held roles as security minister (1980-1988), justice minister (1989-2000 and 2013-2017), acting finance minister (1995-1996), speaker of the house (2000-2005) and defence minister (2009-2013).

Mr Mnangagwa with Mr Mugabe (centre) and his wife Grace in 2016
Image:Mr Mnangagwa with Mr Mugabe (centre) and his wife Grace in 2016

Vice president: He was appointed as number two to Mr Mugabe in 2014, and remained in the position until he was fired on 6 November 2017.

 

WOMAN WITH £20K DEBTS MADE HOAX BOMB CALL TO POLICE HOPING HER BANK WILL BE CLOSED

A Croydon woman who caused a bomb scare by telling police an explosive was going to go off in a bank thought the hoax call would close the branch so she wouldn’t have to pay her £20,000 debts.

Roseane Craig, 51, from Connersville Way in Waddon, called 999 from her workplace in Billericay on January 11, 2016, to tell police there was a bomb in the HSBC bank in Walthamstow, East London, that was going to go off.

In her 999 call, she told police: “I’m trying to help you, there is going to be a bomb going off. I am trying to help you.”

This information was passed onto the Metropolitan Police and officers were dispatched to the bank, Basildon Crown Court heard on Friday (November 17).

After 20 minutes of searching, it was established as a hoax call.

The manager at the bank told police it was very worrying and that his staff “were on high alert for the rest of the day”.

The call was quickly traced to Craig’s place of work.

Police attended and Craig attempted to ditch the mobile phone she used to make the call into a cardboard box that was under her desk.

The phone was recovered and Craig was interviewed by police, where she answered ‘no comment’ to all questions.

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Craig made a hoax bomb call to Walthamstow branch of HSBC

On May 17 this year, she was charged and pleaded guilty to making a bomb hoax.

Prosecuting lawyer Gerard Renouf said: “She believed that if the bank was shut down, it would help her to pay her rent and money owed to her employers. She was in £15,000 to £20,000 worth of debt and thought this action would help her.

“Her actions caused fear and significantly disrupted the conduct of everyday society.”

Representing Craig, Michael Smith said: “In ordinary circumstances, such an offence would lead to a custodial sentence, often an immediate one, but I would argue that this is an exceptional case.

“On the basis of her mental health difficulties and given the amount of support she has in place now, if your honour decides she must serve an immediate custodial sentence, all the progress she has made will be wasted.

“Craig is an intelligent woman, she left school with qualifications and her actions make no sense to her now.

“She knows that if the bank did shut, it would not affect her circumstances but she couldn’t see that at the time. She is unable to explain why she thought it would solve her problems.”

Judge David Pugh told Craig: “This is an offence where a custodial sentence is required, sometimes an immediate sentence.

“There are factors that increase the seriousness of this conviction, you have 11 previous convictions for 49 offences, which I accept are of a different nature.

“If you had not pleaded guilty, I would have sent you to prison.”
Judge Pugh handed her an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months and ordered her to carry out 60 days of rehabilitation work.
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