Tuesday, December 31, 2013

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Steelers making a revision to their marketing campaign

Steelers making a revision to their marketing campaign:
Credit: Dave Vultur

Happy New Year 2014!


10 things not to buy in 2014

Cable TV
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cable TV
1. Cable TV
Cable television’s heyday is over. Subscribers have been declining since 2004, and analysts say there’s no end in sight. Roughly 54.8 million households currently pay for cable TV, down 3.3% from 2012 and down 17.6% from a decade prior, according to research firm IHS. Cable companies are expected to shed roughly 1.3 million subscribers in 2014.
The decline is due in part to so-called cord-cutters: consumers who are canceling cable and transitioning to lower-cost services, such as Hulu and Netflix (NFLX) , which provide much of the same programming at a fraction of the price. Using an Internet connection, consumers can stream many cable shows, news programs and sports games, as well as movies, directly to their TVs. Some channels’ websites also provide viewers access to their shows. (MarketWatch recently launched a calculator — Are you ready to cut the cord? — that allows consumers to find the shows they normally watch through such lower-cost options.)
These services are mostly beneficial for people who do not mind watching shows after they’ve aired and are willing to part with most live programming.
2. Landline service
Fewer households are holding on to their landlines. Two in every five U.S. homes had wireless phones only during the first half of the year, up slightly from the first half of 2012, according to data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number has been rising over the past decade: Roughly 90 million adults, or 38% of the population, are now wireless-only, versus 21% during the first half of 2009 — and fewer than 3% during the first half of 2003.
Ditching the landline allows households to shed a monthly bill — but it doesn’t mean they’re restricted to their cellphones. There’s also Skype, which is free and allows video chatting via smartphones and other devices with friends and family anywhere in the world at no cost. FaceTime video can also be free with a Wi-Fi connection. Separately, magicJack Plus provides phone service when it’s connected to a USB port, computer, or regular phone router; it costs $49.95 in total for the device and for the first six months, after which service costs range from about $1.67 to $2.50 per month. (In contrast, most traditional telephone providers charge at least $10 a month.)
To be sure, these services require an Internet connection. Consumers who want the security of a landline — many Americans were without phone service after Hurricane Sandy disrupted cellphone and Internet service in some areas — may want to consider holding on to their home phone.
3. GPS devices
Up until a few years ago, personal navigation systems were considered a must-have for most drivers since they drastically reduced the chances of getting lost. But the tides have turned and demand for these gadgets is plummeting: 7.5 million personal navigation devices sold in 2012 in North America, down from a peak of 18 million in 2009, according to the latest data from Berg Insight, a Swedish research company.
The need for this service still exists, but consumers can get it for a lot cheaper. Rather than paying $70 to $300 for a new GPS device, drivers can use map apps to get around. They’re available on most smartphones or free to download.
Separately, many new cars come with built-in navigation systems: 49% of 2013 model-year vehicles have a standard navigation system (in at least one of their styles), up from 33% of 2010 models, according to Edmunds.com.
4. DVD and Blu-ray players
DVD sales and rentals are down, so it’s not a surprise that fewer consumers are buying DVD players. Sales of DVD and Blu-ray players totaled 21.3 million in 2012, down 20.1% from a year prior and down 24.8% from 2010, according to research firm SNL Kagan.
Instead, experts say, consumers are increasingly streaming movies from Internet-based subscription services like Hulu and Netflix. Gamers can also use their consoles, such as the Xbox One and PlayStation4, to watch DVDs.
5. Hotel rooms
As more travelers book vacations, demand for hotels is rising and so are room rates. The daily rate at U.S. hotels averages $110.59 this year, up 4.1% from 2012 and up 12.6% from 2010, according to professional-services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. The average price is expected to rise to $115.68 in 2014.
There’s another, cheaper alternative: Travelers can reserve apartments or homes in their destinations at a lower price with more space to boot. Several services, such as Airbnb and Vacation Rentals by Owner, allow consumers to choose from an assortment of homes to stay in. Some owners also offer free airport pickups and drop-offs.
It can also be more helpful and cost-effective for large groups that are traveling together (you can book a large home with many bedrooms) or families with young children who require privacy and can cook in the home rather than paying to eat out. The downside, however, is less security than what hotels offer.
6. Two-year phone contracts
Consumers are encountering more setbacks than benefits with two-year cellphone contracts. There’s no way to change phones within this period of time without incurring a fee. And there’s the fine print many of these plans come with that result in consumers paying more than the starting monthly price they’re quoted in the store.
Mobile users have several alternatives. They can opt for no-contract providers that sell the phones at full price (that’s more than the upfront price they’ll pay for a phone with a contract) but monthly payments are much lower (often half). They’re available through MetroPCS as well as big-box retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart. Most regular wireless providers also offer this option.
7. Desktop and laptop computers
There’s little reason to buy a desktop or laptop computer anymore. Tablets perform the same functions — playing music, sharing photos, Web surfing — that most consumers use PCs for and they’re made to use while on the go. They can also be a lot cheaper. For instance, Apple’s iMac’s start at $1,299 and MacBook laptops start at $999 while iPads start at $299.
Of course, ditching desktop PCs isn’t for everyone: Graphic designers and traders, for instance, who require large screens will find it hard to part with traditional computers.
But data shows that PCs are starting to fall out of favor: Worldwide shipments fell 4% in 2012 from a year prior — to the lowest level since 2009, according to the latest data from IDC, an information-technology research firm.
8. Extra legroom in economy
Over the past few years it’s become common practice for airlines, including American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, to charge many passengers extra — up to an additional $180 — for roomier seats (read:extra three to six inches of legroom) in coach. These seats are often in the exit rows or first row in economy.
But for a similar payment of $100 to $200, travelers can get upgraded to business class where the seats are much more comfortable and the service is of a higher caliber. These upgrades used to be reserved for airlines’ frequent fliers, but many now give them out to passengers who are willing to pay a bit more when they check in or at the gate.
9. Credit cards with points or miles programs
Card issuers have been ramping up some of their rewards programs in the past few years, but consumers should steer clear of one common promotion: credit cards with rewards programs that are comprised of points or miles.
Many card issuers are devaluing their rewards programs by requiring cardholders to spend more in order to get the same “free award” they could have gotten previously with fewer points. What’s more, many of these cards come with annual fees, ranging from $30 to $75.
Instead, consider a credit card with a “cash-back” program — a rewards program that’s a lot more straightforward: consumers get 1% to 5% cash back per a certain number of dollars they swipe on their card.
10. Digital cameras
Their small size and sleek look made digital “point and shoot” cameras all the rage for years. Now, demand is sunsetting. Roughly 11.5 million are estimated to have sold this year in the U.S., down 44% from 2012, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, which represents consumer technology companies. Sales are expected to drop to just under 8 million next year.
The cameras are suffering from an identity crisis. Consumers who want high-quality photos are opting for the larger, DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras. Others prefer to stick with just one gadget — their smartphone — which takes pictures.
And there’s new competition from cameras intended for the outdoor thrill-seeker, like the GoPro, for people who want photos capturing action (the camera attaches to your body while white water rafting or scuba diving, for instance) rather than stopping to pose for a pic.

AnnaMaria Andriotis covers real estate and consumer credit for MarketWatch in New York. Follow her on Twitter @AAndriotis.

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Raila clearly lost on March 4, says MP

The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy clearly lost the March 4 General Elections, an ODM MP has said.
Ndhiwa MP Augustinho Neto dismissed constant claims made by ODM leaders that Raila Odinga’s coalition won the election but was denied victory.
The coalition was clearly defeated because its parties were not prepared to win, he said on Sunday in Bondo, during a home coming ceremony for Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda.

Kalonzo asks Kitui leaders to unite

Monday, December 30, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY LYDIA NGOOLO
FORMER Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has asked Kitui leaders to work together for the sake of development. He said infighting among local leaders is in bad faith. Kalonzo said elected leaders should avoid public clashes as a way of uniting their supporters.
He was speaking to the media in Mwingi town on Saturday. Kalonzo was referring to recent differences between Kitui Governor Julius Malombe and Mwingi central MP Joe Mutambu.
He said Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama and Governor Alfred Mutua have agreed to work together. "Surely there was no need for MP Joe Mutambu to pour his wrath in a meeting attended by local and international leaders at Mwingi Sports ground," said Kalonzo.
- See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-148611/kalonzo-asks-kitui-leaders-unite#sthash.evlmO3G5.dpuf

For the love of town, woman takes her own life to avoid village life

A woman on Sunday died by suicide in Kisumu after she was forced to relocate to her husband’s rural village in Awasi.
Witnesses and neighbours said Ms Maurine Adhiambo jumped into a 100-foot borehole at Chiga estate on the outskirts of Kisumu Town as her husband waited for her to take a boda boda to the bus stage.
Before taking her life, Ms Adhiambo had allegedly been beaten by her husband, Mr Bernard Omondi, after she resisted the planned move to the village.
Mr Omondi, 30, a road construction worker, spent the Christmas holiday in Awasi building a house for Ms Adhiambo, his second wife. The first wife lives in the village, and Mr Omondi reportedly wanted Ms Adhiambo to join her to ease the burden of paying rent in town.
The two clashed immediately Mr Omondi returned to town in the morning to find Ms Adhiambo missing from their rented house.
The woman, in her early 20s, had reportedly abandoned her two-week-old baby to spend time with her former boyfriend at a nearby shopping centre. The baby and Ms Adhiambo’s two-year-old son were found crying in the house by their father.
Neighbours tipped-off the husband who confronted the two lovers but the man managed to escape.
Mr Omondi then ordered his wife to go home and pack for the journey to Awasi.
Witnesses said Mr Omondi assaulted his wife before forcing her to board a boda boda to the house while he followed her on foot.
On reaching the house, the woman had already packed her belongings but before the two could start their journey, she asked the husband to give her a few minutes to return a thermos flask that she had borrowed from a neighbour.
The woman, however, never returned to her house after handing over the thermos. Instead, she rushed to the borehole and jumped in.
‘‘I was shocked beyond words. It happened so fast that I could not rescue her,” their landlady Sarah Wamamba, who witnessed the incident, said.
The landlady raised the alarm that attracted the attention of the villagers who came to rescue Ms Adhiambo.
Mr Paul Oyugi, a village elder, said efforts to rescue the woman were hampered by the high water level.
‘‘The borehole diggers managed to go up to 50 metres deep but were overwhelmed by the excess water,’’ he said.
The body was later retrieved by firefighters who arrived hours later.
Kisumu police chief Musa Kongoli confirmed the incident, saying the body was taken to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary.
‘‘It’s too early to rush to a conclusion because we are not sure whether she slipped into the borehole accidentally or  did it intentionally,’’ he told Nation on phone.
Village elders, with the help of the residents, apprehended Mr Omondi as he tried to leave with his two children.

MP calls for dissolution of ‪CORD‬ parties

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Ruto told to vie for 2017 presidency

Monday, December 30, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY NICHOLAS WAMALWA
Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa has asked Deputy President William Ruto not to wait for ten years before vying for president. Speaking in Kitale on Saturday, Wamalwa said President Uhuru Kenyatta’s statement that he will rule for another five years is a sign of being power hungry and dictatorial.
“Ruto should not wait for ten years to vie for president because vying is a democratic right of every Kenyan,” he said. During his tour in Rift Valley recently, Uhuru said he will rule for ten years before Ruto takes over for the another ten years.
Wamalwa, who is Cord deputy whip in the National Assembly, said Cord principals, Raila Odinga, Moses Wetang’ula and Kalonzo Musyoka will face each other in primaries before getting one candidate for 2017 elections.
- See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-148652/ruto-told-vie-2017-presidency#sthash.oz7Jlrn9.dpuf

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Six Strategies Raila Needs To Win In 2017

Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY WILLIS ALALA
Raila Odinga.Photo/File
Raila Odinga.Photo/File
After rejecting calls to retire from politics, it appears that Raila Odinga is preparing himself for a final stab at the Presidency in 2017.
 But after three unsuccessful attempts, Kenyans will be eager to know what it is that he would do differently in 2017 that would finally make him Commander-in-Chief and National CEO.
 Political analysts will, likewise, be interested in whatever new bag of tricks Raila may employ. One thing, however, is certain; his main opponent, President Uhuru Kenyatta, will be much more powerful in 2017 than he was in 2013.
As an experienced political strategist, Raila’s hold on a very considerable swathe of Kenya’s politics, coupled with a near-fanatical following among his adherents, makes him a formidable, even feared, opponent in any political contest.
However, if Raila is to win in 2017, he must be prepared to excite his voter base with a new political strategy that promises better alternatives to a Jubilee government that is increasingly losing trust with a majority of Kenyans.
 In Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Emperor Wu of the Sung, while sending his commander Chu Ling-shih to attack Ch’iao Tsung of Shu, conceives his military tactics based on past failures and designs his battlefront offensives in anticipation of his enemy’s past counter-strategies.
 And in one of his military briefs, Emperor Wu says, “Last year Liu Ching-hsuan went out of the territory inside the river heading for Huang Wu.
He achieved nothing and returned. Their commander now thinks I should come from outside the river but surmise that I will take them by surprise and come from inside the river”.
The Emperor proceeded to win against a formerly formidable opposition. I think this is a wonderful plan for a new political strategy for Raila in 2017.
 Like Emperor Wu, one would expect Raila to study his opponents based on past battles and modify his tactics appropriately. Surprisingly, while Jubilee often conceive their strategies based on their analyses of Raila’s political style, Raila, on the other hand continues to underestimate his competitors.
Buoyed by the perception that the masses are with him, Raila often goes to war basing his strategies purely on people-power factors. Unlike Emperor Wu, who learns from past errors, he continuously hopes that the people’s disenchantment with the State is enough to sway elections in his favour. This is often not the case.
 To win in 2017, therefore, there are certain essential changes Raila must adopt.
 First he needs a consistent and reliable media team that is capable, at the very least, of going neck-and-neck with Jubilee’s propaganda machinery, and then overtaking it and showing it dust. In 2012/13, Raila remained vulnerable to Jubilee’s propaganda on the ICC and accusations of corruption in the former Prime Minister’s office.
By the time Kenyans went to vote, a sizeable number of them wrongfully believed Raila played a role in taking both Uhuru and William Ruto to The Hague. Recent revelations show this was a campaign gimmick. This level of vulnerability is unsustainable for another run in 2017.
 Secondly, Raila must get rid of the current Cord/ODM leadership and replace it with moderate, innovative young leaders capable of making the party appealing to its young constituency.
 The Cord campaign team in 2013 was too dogmatic and became liabilities whenever Raila needed to build new alliances. It is time the Emperor sliced them off for the good of his vision.
 Thirdly, Raila must expand the current Cord family to build a bigger national movement representative of most voices outside government. This includes keeping Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula while seeking to bring on board the likes of Musalia Mudavadi, Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth.
 While this will be difficult, a new political strategy intended to achieve this sole purpose ahead of 2017 can yield positive fruits. A united Opposition under Raila will be a formidable force against a Jubilee side facing public unrest and imminent collapse due to internal wrangles and the usual wear-and-tear caused by being actually in office for one election cycle.
 Fourth, with every goof that Jubilee makes, Raila must use his multimedia media team across all platforms – print, broadcast and social – to come forward with better alternatives to the Cord Manifesto of 2013. He must sharpen his image and role as leader of the Opposition and not waver on key national interest issues.
 The Cord leader’s objectives should be distinct. He must be his own centre of power and must resist the temptation to work closely with Uhuru in a manner likely to complicate his role as leader of Opposition.
 Fifth, Raila must mobilize his support base to register en masse as voters. And after registering, they must be encouraged to come out and vote. With another poor voter turnout, the 2017 dream will remain still-born.
 Finally, Raila must develop a non-interventionist approach on UhuRuto’s affairs and, by extension, allow Jubilee to cannibalize itself. Based on adverse revelations within Jubilee in its eight months in power, I believe that we will be witnessing some deep infighting between Uhuru and Ruto’s allies that could eventually lead to the disintegration of the ruling coalition.
 Like Narc in 2007 and ODM in 2013, Jubilee could fight itself lame and crumble, providing Raila with a perfect chance to mount a final, serious assault at becoming President.

Willis Alala is a Development Analyst at New York University.
- See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-148503/six-strategies-raila-needs-win-2017#sthash.NoRB0q21.dpuf