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How can we save money on troops' pay and benefits? Let's ask the troops.
The Washington Post, Todd Harrison
Defense and entitlements. That's how Washington has tried to define the debates over cutting federal spending, as if the two inhabited entirely distinct spheres. Yet, the
Pentagon is dealing with an entitlements problem of its own, one that threatens to consume the defense budget if unchecked.
Over the past decade, the Defense Department experienced rapid growth in military compensation, in no small part because of health care and pensions. From 2001 to 2012, the average cost of pay and benefits per active-duty service member grew from $54,000 to $109,000, an increase of 56 percent once you consider inflation. That
includes pay, allowances for housing and food, health care and retirement benefits. It doesn't include other kinds of compensation that are outside the regular military budget
or in supplemental war funding — such as tax exemptions for service members, extra pay for deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan, or benefits from the Department of Veterans
Americans rightly feel a sense of gratitude and obligation to our men and women in uniform; no one wants to break faith with the troops. Since the end of the draft four
decades ago, compensation has become an important tool to entice men and women to sign up for military service. Any changes should be made with great thought and care,
and out of fairness, they should not be forced on those who are currently serving or who have previously served. One of the best ways to honor the sacrifices of our troops is to put military compensation on a sustainable, long-term path — and in a way that considers the preferences of service members.
The rapid growth in military compensation over the past decade was due to several factors, some beyond the Pentagon's control. From 2001 to 2012, basic pay grew by 20
percent, adjusting for inflation, because of higher than-requested raises enacted by Congress. Annual payments by the Defense Department to the military retirement trust
fund, which pays the future cost of pensions, rose by 39 percent. And military health care costs increased by a stunning 118 percent as new benefits were added and more
retirees and family members opted for the military health care system rather than private insurance.
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If military personnel costs continue increasing at the rate they did over the past decade — and if the overall defense budget grows only with inflation — these costs will
consume the entire defense budget by 2039, leaving no funding for equipment, training, bases or other necessities. This is not a prediction of what will actually happen, but a clear indicator that the current path cannot be sustained.
One could take a lawn-mower approach to scaling back military compensation: cutting whatever grows fastest and sticks out above the rest. Indeed, this month's budget
request by the Pentagon calls for cuts in fast-expanding benefits, specifically health care and basic pay, to reduce costs. But are these forms of compensation the right ones to trim? Do the proposed reductions consider the impact on the all-volunteer force? Without answers to these questions, Congress may understandably be reluctant to act.
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President, American Logistics Association
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Major furloughs spur uncertainty at US agencies
The Washington Post via Early Bird
After months of nervous anticipation, federal workers begin the first major round of furloughs this week, even as much uncertainty remains at some agencies about how much time, if any, employees will lose from their jobs because of mandated spending cuts. Employees at agencies including Defense, Labor and the EPA recently have had their furlough days reduced, though uncertainty remains for some.
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Outcry erupts over 1 percent pay raise proposed for military
Military families and their advocates are battling an Obama administration proposal to limit troops' pay raises to 1 percent in 2014, the lowest increase in half a century. The raise comes at a time when forces will still be fighting in Afghanistan.
Lawmakers urge 'merit-based' furlough decisions at defense
A bipartisan group of 126 lawmakers is asking Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to "review sequestration-related actions" affecting civilian employees, especially furloughs, hiring freezes, and the firing of temporary and term personnel.
Major contractors report little damage from sequestration
The Washington Post
Defense contractors warned the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration would cause layoffs and facility closures, but nearly two months in, the biggest companies are reporting only a slight drop in sales.
Military families need your help to find work
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
First lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden write, "Over the past few years, as we've traveled the country speaking with our men and women in uniform and their families, we've been amazed by all of the ways they find to serve our country every single day. They're the troops who risk their lives to keep us safe; the veterans who continue to serve long after they've hung up their uniform; the military spouses who always manage to snap into action for their communities, even though they’re already holding down full-time jobs and keeping their households running all alone while a loved one is deployed overseas."
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USDA: A nation of bad eaters stays bad
American households underspend on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and overspend on fats, sugars/sweets, refined grains and convenience foods — when compared with USDA Dietary Guidelines, a USDA Economic Research Service analysis of 23 broad food categories shows.
Whataburger spicy ketchup and mustard soon to hit supermarket shelves
Bolstered by the hype generated for its spicy ketchup, Whataburger has decided to start bottling the stuff. The burger chain will partner with HEB stores to sell it this summer. They'll sell the regular ketchup and mustard as well, and they are introducing a new potato chip product called Whatafries.
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Kroger pilot program could transform shopping experience
Looking to shorten the wait at the checkout, Kroger Co. is tinkering with technology that allows customers to scan grocery items themselves as they take them off the shelf. Called "Scan, Bag, Go," it provides interested shoppers handheld scanners and bags as they walk in the door.
Shocking rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in supermarket meats
The Washington Times
A recent study by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System reveals shocking rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in U.S. supermarket meats. An alarming 81 percent of ground turkey and well over half of ground beef and pork chops tested contained some form of these "superbugs."
American shoppers still cautious on household and grocery spending
Even as the economy improves, 94 percent of Americans indicate they will remain cautious and keep their spending for food, beverage and household goods at its current level, according to Deloitte's 2013 American Pantry Study. More than 9 in 10 consumers surveyed indicate they have become more resourceful, and 86 percent say they are getting more precise in what they buy — attitudes that have remained consistent in the three years Deloitte has conducted the study and across income levels.
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Time to weigh the real pros and cons of online grocery shopping
Your shopping cart looks full. Skim milk? Check. Bananas? Check. Candy? Shoot — you forgot the chocolate bars! Thankfully, there's no need to create a stir at a checkout line if you need your sugar fix. With a click of the mouse, you're on the candy page, scrolling through your options: milk, dark or white chocolate? The increasing value of convenience among consumers has created a robust online grocery industry.
NMI: Low-carb trend still packs punch
The low-carb trend is alive and well, despite arguments from some quarters that it's run out of steam, according to Steve French, managing partner, Natural Marketing Institute. "A lot of people think low carb is gone and dead," he said during a session at the American Bakers Association Convention. "It's not dead at all."
J. C. Penney wins latest court round; rehires company vet Ken Mangone
Chain Store Age
A New York judge recently rejected a request by Macy's to block J.C. Penney from selling Martha Stewart goods under the "JCP Everyday" label for now, while it appeals a ruling allowing the sale. An order temporarily barring Martha Stewart from selling goods branded with her name at J.C. Penney's is still in place.
Study: 76 percent of women prefer in-store shopping over smartphone
Chain Store Age
Research findings released Thursday by mobile-retail marketer Swirl found that a full 76 percent of women prefer shopping in stores over shopping via their smartphones.
Wal-Mart refines beauty approach
Women's Wear Daily
Wal-Mart's beauty department is undergoing big changes. The retailer's latest prototype began rolling out to the chain's 4,000-plus stores earlier this year. (Subscription required.)
CVS Caremark to raise money for those affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy
Drug Store News
CVS Caremark announced that it will come together with the Boston business community to support The One Fund Boston, established by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to raise money for victims and families who have been affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy.
Penney gets go-ahead on certain Martha Stewart products
The Wall Street Journal
J.C. Penney Co. can finally make its plans for Mother's Day. A New York state appeals judge recently said Penney can introduce a line of bedding and other home products designed by homemaking maven Martha Stewart, although they won't be sold under her name.
Starbucks, Wal-Mart offering classes for college credit
A growing number of Fortune 500 companies, like Wal-Mart, have grown tired of waiting for colleges and universities to produce the skilled workers they need and have started offering their own classes instead. And as an added bonus for employees: Many of these courses from Starbucks' Barista Basics to Jiffy Lube's finance fundamentals are eligible for college credit.
Stores' surveillance cameras can help crack crimes
If retail video cameras helped authorities identify suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, it would be only the latest non-retail crime that store surveillance helped crack. Video from Boston Lord & Taylor cameras was among footage examined by investigators as they tried to identify possible suspects.
Boston retail slowly recovers after bombings
Women's Wear Daily
Recovery. That is now the focus for Boston area retailers and their employees this week in the wake of the deadly Boston Marathon bombings and the harrowing four days that followed.
Best Buy and Samsung further tie their knot
Apple may be Best Buy Co.'s biggest supplier, but Samsung may be Best Buy’s biggest ally. Samsung, the world's largest consumer electronics maker, and Best Buy, the world's largest electronics retailer, are planning to install Samsung Experience mini-stores at nearly all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores across the country by this summer.
Retailers stepping up green push
Crain's New York Business
These days, retailers are finding that green might be the most flattering trend out there. And while many local businesses have long incorporated sustainability into their corporate DNA, some are taking things a step further.
With tablets, businesses ring up at more fanciful cash registers
The New York Times
The humble cash register, a device that seems sprung from the imagination of an accountant, has become the darling of designers, adding a dash of style to the most ordinary daily transactions. With the advent of tablets, particularly the iPad, many stores have traded in their clunky cash registers for mobile devices. Now, though, they are dressing up those tablets with inventive accessories to make them both more pleasant to look at and more practical for cashiers.
Ackman: J.C. Penney to revive coupon now Johnson out
J.C. Penney Co. will reverse Ron Johnson's strategy of reducing discounts and put coupon advertising in newspapers again, said William Ackman, the activist investor who recruited the ousted chief executive.
Dunkin' Donuts remained open during Boston siege
United Press International
Boston was locked down during the search for suspects in the Boston Marathon attack but some Dunkin' Donuts restaurants remained open at the request of police. First responders and police still required hot coffee and food, so the lights stayed on at a few select Dunkin' Donuts, The Boston Globe reported.
Staples agrees to progressive e-waste standards
The retail giant inks a deal with e-Stewards, an environment initiative that, among other things, prohibits the export of electronic waste to developing countries.
Nutrisystem joins forces with Wal-Mart in retail push
Diet program Nutrisystem, which has long relied on home delivery, is taking a major step to grow its retail presence with a new Wal-Mart partnership. The weight-management marketer recently announced plans to sell "5-day Nutrisystem Jumpstart" weight loss kits at nearly 2,000 Wal-Mart stores. Priced at $44.98, the kits include 15 entrees, plus desserts and a meal planner and program guide. Specially designed kits for people battling diabetes will also be available in the pharmacy section in select Wal-Marts.
Reed Krakoff exiting coach to focus on own line
Women's Wear Daily
One of the most storied duos in American fashion is parting ways as, after 16 years at Coach Inc. Reed Krakoff will step down in June 2014 as president and executive creative director in order to focus exclusively on his high-end namesake brand.
J.C. Penney lesson No. 1: Know your customer
Chain Store Age
Ron Johnson's highly publicized short tenure at J.C. Penney, or JCP, as it was rebranded, will certainly make it into the textbooks and graduate theses on what to do and what not to do when undertaking a significant retail business transformation. The primary failure was not putting customer needs first in what promised to be an excellent long term strategy. Oops — forget the customer in an omni-channel customer strategy?
Coach tops estimates; Reed Krakoff to step down
Chain Store Age
Coach recently reported that its net income for three-month period ending on March 30 rose 6.2 percent to $238.9 million amid strong sales in North America, beating analysts' expectations. The company also disclosed that its longtime president and executive creative director, Reed Krakoff, will step down when his contract expires next year in order to focus on his own namesake brand, which is owned by Coach.
OfficeMax honored for disability hiring program
Chain Store Age
OfficeMax has been awarded the National Employment Team 2013 "Private Sector Business of the Year" by the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation for its commitment to employing people with disabilities, including veterans.
Wal-Mart gets dibs on Superman
The Wall Street Journal
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Warner Bros. struck a deal making the retail chain the only place to buy tickets to the first U.S. screenings of the next Superman film, "Man of Steel."
Dresses, jeans drive 3.3 percent gain in 2012 women's sales
Women's Wear Daily
The ability of dresses and jeans to perform double duty, alternating between dress and casual wear, helped provide both categories with double-digit sales increases last year and lift the growth rate 1.4 percent. (Subscription required.)
Retailers are building greener supply chains
Retailâs BIG Blog
For retailers looking to reduce their total carbon footprint, the supply chain a big piece of the carbon footprint pie can't be ignored. Supply chain choices from transportation modes to packaging to carriers go a long way in reducing carbon emissions, and, not coincidentally, benefiting the bottom line. But how do you go about calculating carbon emissions when logistics partners and multiple carriers are involved? That's where the Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay program comes in.
'Get ready for a roller coaster' as gas prices swing wildly
The Kansas City Star
If variety is the spice of life, then gasoline prices this year have been a basket of habanero peppers. The swings in fuel prices so far in 2013 are the most volatile in at least a decade. The cost of a gallon of gas jumped an average of 50 cents nationwide earlier this year but has since given much of that back.
Consumers love brands that love them
Nearly half (48 percent) of consumers between the ages 18-44 say the loyalty they feel toward brands stems from the types of experiences those brands create for them, according to a national survey conducted by Analytic Partners, a global marketing consultancy. Such experiences can include interactions in the form of video/online gaming, social media and third-party expert information through blogs and articles.
Retailers account for second-most data breaches
Retailers and restaurants accounted for 24 percent of all data breaches in 2012, second to financial organizations, which accounted for 37 percent, according to a new report from Verizon Enterprise Solutions.
Exchange targets veterans and their families for employment opportunities
While some advertise efforts to hire veterans, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service simply does what it has for more than 117 years extend career opportunities to veterans and their families. In fact, 10 percent of the Exchange's workforce is comprised of veterans with military spouses and family members accounting for another 24 percent. With more than 40,000 jobs, the Exchange is doing its part not only to employ veterans and military spouses, but also provide opportunities.
ALA Exchange E-Blast week 4/26/13
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American Logistics Association and Veterans Canteen Service
Dear Show & Sell Exhibitor,
The ALA has received official notice from the VCS that the 2013 VCS Show & Sell has been cancelled. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. For those vendors who have purchased booths, you can anticipate a refund of your booth fees paid within the next 30 days.
If you have further questions regarding the cancellation of the 2013 VCS Show & Sell, please direct your inquiries to VCS at 314-845-1200.
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Save the dates:
June 24, 2013: NY Chapter Golf event at West Point - To benefit the Military Commander's Scholarship Fund.
Aug. 19 – 22, 2013: 2013 Hawaii Trade and Food Show, Honolulu, Hawaii
Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, 2013: 66th Annual Convention, Hyatt Regency, New Orleans, La.
Dec. 5, 2013: ALA NY Chapter Annual Holiday Luncheon, New York City.
Go to: www.ALA-National.org, sign in and CHECK OUT the information.
New sports program begins in May
The Fort Campbell Courier
Coinciding with National Sports and Fitness Month, a new Soldier athletics program will be introduced to Fort Campbell this May. The command-directed Soldier-only new Army Sports Program will pit battalions against one another in seven men's and women's team and individual sports.
Hammack, In Depth discuss benefits of another BRAC round
Hon. Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, joined Federal New Radio's "In Depth" program to discuss why the Army is asking Congress for another Base Realignment and Closure round.
Federal Collaborator: Practical intelligence for a seamless federal workplace
As federal budgets continue to be tightened, agencies are looking even more to collaborative efforts to not only streamline processes, but also allow agencies and projects to share risk when applying new innovative solutions.
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