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January 15, 2010     Post-Gazette
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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, JANUARY 15, 2010 RETAIL SALES UP AND UNEMPLOYMENT DOWN Overall some store sales rose 3% in the month of De- cember, the best gain since April 2008, and topped analyst' statements by 1.8%. Cosco grew 9%, and Ross Stores 12%. Several other chains rose and released in- creased profit forecasts ex- cept for JC Penny, whose sales fell 3.8%. Macy's, Aero- postale, TJX and Ross Stores all upped profit forecasts. Analysts expect retail sales to be up 28.5% compared to a drop of 5.6%. Cold weather across much of the United States helped fuel demand for seasonal clothes. Spe- cialty stores saw a 7.8% rise in sales; the best in a decade which helped buoy the numbers. The unemployment report was disappointing as new claims rose by 1,000 to 434,000 last week. Employ- ers shed 5,000 jobs to 450,000 keeping the rate at 10%, up .2%. The unemploy- ment report which includes discouraged workers and those forced to work part- time as 661,000 people left the workforce, the most since January 2009 and edged up to 17.3%. The stocks edged higher as in- vestors decided the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates low even longer. The NASDAQ rose .7% and the S&P .3% and the Dow .1%. Analysts say that small firms, normally the biggest employers, will be reluctant to hire amid tight credit and fears about possible tax hikes, and rising health care costs. The small busi- nessman feels left behind. They are looking for some- thing that will make them feel more confident about the future, otherwise they won't hire. President Obama announced a green jobs ini- tiative on top of prior job cre- ating proposals that include tax credits. The House passed a jobs bill but the Sen- ate has not acted yet. Voters are focused on unemploy- ment and most experts ex- pect little improvement in 2010. Even if hiring returns, there are millions of dis- couraged workers, and keeps consumers from pow- ering as government stimu- lus wanes later this year. Consumer credit dived a record $17.5 billion in No- vember as banks restrict loans and families try to cut debt. On a positive note, tem- porary employment rose by 465,000 in December, the fifth straight gain and a sign that companies are ready to hire permanent workers. The vast expansion of Med- icaid that Democrats are close to passing into law has gotten little attention. Under the Senate bill, the focus of negotiations with the House version, the number of the poor and near poor will grow the population by 43%, and could add problems as Medi- care rolls swell. The $900 billion Barack Obama sug- gested for health care over- haul didn't kick in any funds for increased payments, and the fix for Medicare isn't at the top of their priorities. Thanks to China, oil is selling @ $83.50/bli., and selling more cars than any other country in the world. Consumers have been wowed by Blu-Ray, and the more they experience it the hungrier they are for more content. Digital downloads and online sales rose 32% in 2009 to $2.1 billion. There is a bright future for Blu- Ray disc movies, said Bob Chapek from Walt Disney Entertainment, a unit of Walt Disney. Sony intro- duced the dish, a personal 7- inch color touch screen that provides, at a glance, users favorite internet services. The portable device is de- signed to sit on a nightstand or the kitchen counter. Disc player devices in US house- holds soared 76% last year to 17 million. Last quarter alone Blu-Ray rang up $500 million in sales. Tie, the In- dian entrepreneurs, is a networking for pioneers with chapters in 60 countries on five continents. The organi- zation started in 1992 in Silicon Valley and helped many Indian companies survive. Indians founded 15.5% of all setups from 1995-2005 an increase of 7% from the previous de- cade, and Tie is a large part of that reason. Tie is open to anyone, but it claims 15,000 Lndividual compa- nies worldwide. Tie spon- sors workshops, arranges entrepreneurs for meetings with advisors, and some- times arranges financing in business "match-making'. Other Asian business net- works exist, but none have the power of Tie. Its con- ferences hold up to 3,000 people and has a broad reach in America's Indian busi- ness community and else- where. It focuses on entre- preneurship and promotes for profit ventures and it truly "embodies the Ameri- can dream." It's time to call your financial advisor or call me at 617-261-7777. BROWN JOINS JFK AT TAX HIP Republican US Senate candidate Scott Brown has put together a great 30- second campaign ad that has Democrats livid. His advertisement starts off showing Jack Kennedy as president in 1962 for across the board tax cuts. Then, the picture switches to Brown today saying very much the same thing about taxes. Martha Coakley by Sal Giarratani called the ad both "pre- sumptuous and mislead- ing." Then says, Brown is a supporter of the Bush- Cheney tax policies. The Democratic state chairman John Walsh says that Brown is no Jack Kennedy. I found the TV spot good since Brown is trying to attract moderates, inde- pendents and conservative Democrats to his side. JG BAFFO, LLC Certified Public Accountant INCOME TAX PREPARATION Individuals Businesses John G. Baffo, CPA Lewis Wharf, Bay 217, Boston, MA 02110 Tel.: 617.248.9500 Fax: 617.248.9511 E-mail: jb@jgbaffo.com Serving the Italian Community Hey, at least it got Coakley back from her vacation, eh? Martha, it is time to put away the outdated Demo- cratic playbook. ST. JUDE AND ST. ANTHONY NOVENA May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, glorified, loved and preserved throughout the world now and for- ever. Sacred Heart of Jesus pray for us. St. Jude, worker of miracles, pray for us. St. Jude, help of the hopeless, pray for us. St. Anthony, most loving protector and wonder worker, pray for us. Say this prayer 9 times a day and by the 8th day your prayer will be answered. It has never been known to fail. Publication must be promised. My prayers have been answered. Favor received. A11 Vazza Funeral Homes 262 Beach St., Revere 781-284-1127 11 Henry St., E. Boston 617-567-0955 Louis R. Vazza - Mark A. Tauro Funeral Directors www.vazzafunerals.com Dennis Weaver in "Duel" Was Really About All of Us Recently, I watched a low- budget 1969 Made for TV movie "Duel" It starred Dennis Weaver in between stints as Chester on "Gunsmoke" and "McCloud." I still find it just as good to- day as back in 1969 when it landed on television. Back then, I was only 21 years old as was Steven Spielberg whose first movie "Duel" was shot. Over the years, the name Spielberg means great movies but it all started with this made for TV movie of the week. Back then, I thought it was just a movie about a crazy truck driver in the midst of a road rage episode chasing after Weaver in his 4-cylin- der Dodge Dart. However, with time comes wisdom and just like I eventually found out the "Wizard of Oz" wasn't really about a scare- crow, tinman and cowardly lion, I came to understand the hidden meaning of "Duel" too. On the surface, it was a story about being in the wrong place at the wrong time and passing a slow moving gasoline tanker truck. However, the more you see this movie, the more you know, Spielberg saw so much more than most viewers. There's only one actor with a speaking role in the movie and he's just talking to himself and sweating bul- lets at the same time. He's on a desert road behind a big black tanker truck. Every time he tries passing it, the truck speeds up. So Weaver starts playing a game with that driver. He keeps losing because the truck is so much more powerful than Weaver's little car. Eventu- ally, the truck does slow down and Weaver decides to pass it only to see an oncom- ing car racing toward him. He narrowly escapes and comes to realize the trucker who we never see almost got him killed on purpose. For the rest of the movie, it becomes a cat and mouse game with Weaver being the mouse. He can't escape the trucker who after finally passing it. The tanker truck starts hunting him down in the desert like a cat looking for dinner. Weaver tries using a phone booth to call the cops and the trucker rams his vehicle into the phone booth. Weaver jumps out and the booth becomes garbage littering the road- way. Now, it is life and death for Weaver. He was just try- ing to get somewhere and now he is hunted by a preda- tor whose aim appears to be killing him. Eventually, Weaver stops being the mouse and be- comes the cat and goes out to take care of the trucker. He does. We see him out- smarting the trucker who sails over a cliff into a ball of flames. Weaver watches his predator go up in flames and is now free to flee this horrible desert and return to a safe and normal existence. We never know why any of it happened. We only know that Weaver is now safe from danger. So, what was this movie really all about? I think it was about all of us on our travels in this life. We have smooth sailing and we have storms that hold us back. Most of what happens is of our own making. Some- times we tackle more than we can handle. Sometimes we take detours in our life that harm us. Get us off track. The tanker truck in front of him is the things that hold us back. Not enough ambition. For- getting our values. Doing stupid things. Et cetera. When we try and avoid deal- ing with these life issues, we pretend they are not there blocking us. When we pre- tend we can get past ob- stacles without really deal- ing with them, then our prob- lems chase us instead. If we don't recognize and deal with those things that stunt our growth as human beings, it can kill everything that we are. Only confronting de- mons that hurt us can we move freely in our lives. When the truck was chasing Weaver's car, it was really all our fears and failures haunt- ing us. Only when Weaver can outsmart the trucker can he be free of the im- pending danger that lurks all around him. Weaver becomes a free man on an open road only after dealing with the pres- ence of the tanker truck blocking him from going. All of us travel on this road of life separately surrounded by others to our left and right. We must focus our lives on where we are going and not worry about road- blocks symbolized in this movie by a faceless trucker aiming at us. When the movie ends, it is like waking up from a bad nightmare. When we focus on where we are going, we can usually get there. Which in the end is the real story of "Duel." However, we real- ize that duel was always an internal battle we were fight- ing. Our choice is to either win or lose and winning is so much better. Dennis Weaver was play- ing the role of all of us and did it greatly. There is still so much meaning in that old movie and it just took me over 40 years to open my eyes to it. WWW.BOSTONPOSTGAZETTE.COM