Walmart meets backlash over earlier Thanksgiving day opening

From The Guardian UK:

Retail giant will open stores at 6pm on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than 2012 opening which prompted growing furore

in New York, Tuesday 12 November 2013

Walmart will open its stores at 6pm on this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, two hours earlier than last year, the company said on Tuesday as US retailers faced a mounting backlash over their holiday plans.

Last year Walmart faced protests nationwide when for the first time it opened its doors on Thanksgiving. The retail giant has been joined by a long list of companies now opening on the holiday including Kmart, Target and Macy’s, which will open on Thanksgiving for the first time this year.

The Thanksgiving holiday comes one day before Black Friday, the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season. “Black Friday is our day – our Super Bowl – and we’re ready to prove once again that no one does it better than Walmart,” said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart US. “We’re excited to give our customers an incredible Black Friday with shopping hours that will allow them to take advantage of great prices on Thanksgiving night and all weekend long.”

Sears and Kmart stores have set out plans to open Thanksgiving Day, with Kmart opening at 6am and remaining open for 41 hours straight through Black Friday. Kmart’s plans have attracted a backlash on Facebook, where shoppers have vowed to boycott the store in protest.

One critic, Heather Miller, wrote: “Really Kmart 6am on Thanksgiving?! No consideration for your employees and their families! Everyone should be home with their families instead of supporting all these greedy stores opening on Thanksgiving!”

Walmart plans to soften the holiday blow to its estimated million workers by offering them an extra day’s pay, discount shopping and a holiday meal in store during their shift.

The union-backed employee group OUR WalMart is planning a series of protests in the run-up to Thanksgiving. The group is calling on the company to use its $17bn in profits to pay a minimum of $25,000 a year for full-time work and to end what it claims is illegal retaliation against workers who protest pay and conditions. The group recently organised a strike in Los Angeles over what they called WalMart’s “poverty wages”. The action led to more than 50 arrests. Our WalMart has written to President Barack Obama, asking him to meet with protesting workers and claiming the company is “helping to hold America back from this dream”.

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The six U.S. nuclear power plants most likely to shut down

From Grist:

By 13 Nov 2013

The nuclear power industry is melting down in America, and in the rest of the Western Hemisphere too.

Nuclear plants still generate nearly 20 percent of electricity in the U.S. But a report by investment research firm Morningstar in its latest Utilities Observer publication warns about the sector’s risks. The report says the ‘nuclear renaissance’ is on hold indefinitely” in the West thanks to low electricity prices, largely driven by the natural-gas fracking boom but also by new renewable energy projects, and controversy in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown:

Aside from the two new nuclear projects in the U.S., one in France (Flamanville), and a possible one in the U.K. (Hinkley Point C), we think new-build nuclear in the West is dead. …

We don’t expect an end to the new nuclear construction in China and South Korea or the development interest in India and elsewhere in Asia. … Nuclear power is not going to disappear as a long-term option and it will continue to evolve. However, an investment in a new Western nuke plant even with the best available technology today will remain a rare experiment.

Another problem for the sector: Nuclear power plants are ill-suited to modern energy-pricing schemes, as The New York Times recently reported. Nuclear plants can’t be quickly powered up or down to meet demand as prices rise and fall throughout the day and night, so sometimes reactor operators are forced to sell electricity at a loss when demand is lowest. 

Five U.S. nuclear power plants have recently shuttered or announced upcoming closures: Vermont Yankee in Vermont, San Onofre in California, Kewaunee in Wisconsin, Crystal River in Florida, and Oyster Creek in New Jersey. Those closures have been largely the result of falling power prices and rising maintenance costs.

Here are six more nuclear plants that Morningstar identifies as the most likely to close next:

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