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Shoppers shatter sales record again in China’s version of Cyber Monday

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Online shoppers in China have shattered last year’s record of $24 billion in sales on the country’s annual buying frenzy Sunday, as the tradition marked its 10th year.


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Chinese spend at least $25 billion online on ‘Singles Day’

The spending binge has for years eclipsed Cyber Monday in the U.S. for online purchases made on a single day. This year’s tally breaks from gloomy forecasts about the world’s second-largest economy, which is struggling with a tariff war with the U.S., a stock market slump and slowing overall growth.

Known as Singles Day, the clamor for deals and discounts was heralded with characteristic fanfare by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which has turned an unofficial holiday for people without romantic partners into a yearly windfall for digital retailers.

A massive screen at Alibaba’s gala in Shanghai showed the surging sales numbers in real time: At 2 minutes and 5 seconds after midnight Saturday, 10 billion yuan (US$1.43 billion) in purchases had already been made on Alibaba’s platforms. By the 1 hour and 47 minute mark, that number had increased tenfold.

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Just before 4 p.m. Sunday, the sales reached 168.2 billion yuan (US$24.2 billion) — surpassing the total purchases from last year’s Singles Day, according to figures posted online by Alibaba Group.

Singles Day began as a spoof event celebrated by unattached Chinese university students in the 1990s. In Chinese, it’s called “Double 11,” after the numbers in the month and date. The improvised holiday was co-opted by e-retailers in 2009 and transformed into China’s version of Cyber Monday, as the Monday after Thanksgiving is known.

Nearly $6.6 billion in sales were made on Cyber Monday in 2017, up about 17 per cent from the previous year, according to Adobe Analytics.


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Ren Xiaotong, a 27-year-old accountant in Beijing, said she suspected online stores jacked up their prices in the lead-up to Singles Day so they could declare that items were discounted.

But in the end, her skepticism didn’t stop her from partaking.

“Singles Day is different now — it has more tricks than before,” Ren said. “You only save a few dozens of yuan at the end. That being said, I still bought a pair of shoes, simply to celebrate the festival.”

The Twitter-like Weibo platform was blanketed with Singles Day-related posts on Sunday, from users proudly proclaiming that they had resisted the shopping urge this year to those who cheerfully listed an array of mundane purchases.

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Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who will step down as chairman in less than a year, attended the start of the gala in Shanghai and appeared in a video message in which he wrapped up live hair crabs, a popular online purchase.

Singles Day “is not a day of discounts, but rather a day of gratitude,” Ma said in the video. “It’s when retailers use the best products and best prices to show their gratitude to our consumers.”

Chinese e-commerce platforms have come under fire in the past for peddling low-quality and counterfeit items. Hong Tao, an economics professor at Beijing Technology and Business University, said Singles Day encourages shoppers to prioritize cheap prices over high quality, causing them to purchase items they don’t need.


READ MORE:
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“People are swept up in the festivities,” Hong said in a phone interview. “This burst of consumption, confined to just one day, can be exhausting for both buyers and sellers.”

The occasion also has big environmental implications.

While both Alibaba and competitor JD.com have pledged to use biodegradable packaging to cut down on waste, research conducted this month by Greenpeace East Asia said many plastics marked “biodegradable” and used by Chinese e-retailers can break down only under high temperatures in facilities that are limited in number across the country.

Greenpeace estimated that by 2020, “biodegradable” packaging could produce roughly 721 truckloads of trash in China every day.



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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