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The woman taking on ticket website Viagogo – BBC News

Image copyright Claire Turnham
Image caption Claire Turnham has set up a campaign to demand refunds from Viagogo

When Claire Turnham tried to buy Ed Sheeran tickets for her son’s 16th birthday, she thought it was going to be an “amazing” family trip.

Instead, she says she was overcharged by 1,150, and the episode has led her to take up a campaign against Viagogo, the secondary ticket website she used.

She set up the Victims of Viagogo group on Facebook to seek refunds for others who feel they have been “ripped off”.

“It’s affecting people worldwide and it’s growing all the time,” she said.

Ms Turnham gave her experiences to a House of Commons select committee hearing about ticket abuse on Tuesday.

She said she’s been contacted by 425 people from 26 countries in the past six weeks who were charged more than they expected and have had “very frustrating” experiences trying to get refunds.

Birthday surprise backfired

Ms Turnham tried to buy four tickets to see Ed Sheeran in Dublin on 12 April – her son’s 16th birthday.

“I have four children – three of them are massive Ed Sheeran fans,” she said. “As their mother I thought it would be an amazing experience for us to be able to go to Ed Sheeran together.

“So I thought, as a surprise for them, that I would try and get tickets. The last time I bought tickets was 10 years ago to Rod Stewart. I’m not familiar with the secondary market – or I wasn’t until six weeks ago.”

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption There has been huge demand for tickets to Ed Sheeran tour

She looked for tickets on 31 January, when pre-sale tickets for the gig were made available, but had no joy going through Sheeran’s official site and Ticketmaster.

“I went back onto Google and I found Viagogo at the top of the listings, which said, ‘We have tickets today, official site’, and I just went with that.”

Viagogo offers tickets for resale, often at inflated prices. The company declined to send a representative to the select committee hearing and hasn’t responded to requests for comment from BBC News.

‘I didn’t have the money’

Ms Turnham continued: “I knew from the research I’d done that the face value of the ticket was likely to be between 50-75, so when I saw four tickets for 263 I did a quick mental calculation and thought that sounded about right and I pushed ‘buy’.

“I didn’t know through any of that process that that price was actually going to be per ticket, and that there were going to be fees on top of that. So actually what it ended up costing was 1,421.

“The day after this, my rent was due and I knew I didn’t have 1,421 in my account.”

Media captionEd Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp on secondary ticketing

The first transaction failed – but Ms Turnham says Viagogo then processed the transaction a different way and she was charged the full amount.

She received a refund after much persistence and taking her story to the media. “When I was offered my refund I was very glad of it,” she said.

“But I started to become aware that other people had become affected and weren’t receiving refunds so I started trying to help them… People are contacting me all the time and they’re very, very distressed.”

She has posted photos on social media of people who have had similar experiences of being charged more than they expected when buying tickets to see stars like Craig David, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Adele.

‘You have to be strong’

Many people don’t have the energy to keep chasing refunds, she said.

“You have to be able to be incredibly strong to be able to do this because like any other form of abuse it relies on people being silenced and it relies on people being isolated.”

Viagogo had a seat at the select committee hearing – but it remained empty.

Nigel Huddleston MP said Viagogo had written to the committee explaining their absence by saying “we do not sell tickets”, but instead is a platform for handling tickets.

But the company was roundly criticised by MPs and other expert witnesses for its practises, with Nigel Adams MP saying it made “Stan Flashman look like Mother Theresa”.

Ed Sheeran’s manager Stuart Camp and gig promoter Stuart Galbraith did give evidence and talked about a Sheeran show at the O2 arena in London in June.

Emotional and physical stress

They said they had written to the four main secondary ticket websites – Viagogo, Seatwave, GetMeIn and StubHub – in advance, asking them not to list any tickets for the show because they would cancel any that were found to have been resold, and fans would not be let in.

“All four sites ignored our requests and all four sites listed tickets at inflated prices, knowing that it’s our intention to cancel those tickets and not admit their customers.”

Ms Turnham said the threat of not getting in added extra stress to fans who already paid over the odds.

“It’s causing not only financial effects but serious emotional and physical effects too,” she said.

“As well as all the money issues and how they’re actually going to pay for that, it’s whether or not their ticket is actually going to be valid. As we’ve heard today, these people who’ve paid for Ed Sheeran tickets, at these excessive prices, actually may not be able to get in.”

Mr Galbraith offered advice for fans looking for tickets: “Go to the source. If you’re buying an Ed Sheeran ticket, go to because from there you will only be directed to official outlets. The worst thing you could do would be to Google search.”

He also pointed fans toward a new guide to ticket-buying published by the Fair Fan Alliance.

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Southwest to Stop Overbooking as United Uproar Echoes

Southwest Airlines Co. said it would stop overbooking flights, after the forcible removal of a United Airlines passenger from a packed plane sparked worldwide outrage.

Overbooking is tentatively set to end May 8, Southwest said Thursday. That would be about a month after a 69-year-old United customer was dragged from a jet by airport police for refusing to surrender his seat — an incident that left the carrier’s image in tatters when videos of the episode circulated on social media.

Southwest’s move underscored the urgency among carriers to avoid a similar debacle. Delta Air Lines Inc. increased payouts to almost $10,000 for passengers who voluntarily give up their places on oversold flights. United Continental Holdings Inc. itself followed suit Thursday – both carriers’ payouts previously were capped at $1,350 — and announced other policy changes to win back passenger trust.

“It’s not a topic that is brand new to us,” Southwest Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly said on a conference call to discuss earnings. “That’s one of the pain points we’d like to eliminate.” He said the airline has been reviewing overbooking policies for a couple of years and indicated that the United incident added urgency.

“It puts the question under a bright light. Why not do it now?” Kelly said.

In addition to increasing its payout, United plans to overbook fewer flights and refrain from calling in law enforcement unless safety and security are at risk, according to a company statement Thursday. The airline and lawyers for the passenger who was removed its flight, David Dao, said they had resolved their dispute. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Violating Values

“Every customer deserves to be treated with the highest levels of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect,” CEO Oscar Munoz said in the statement.

Rigid policies for handling cases where passengers must be denied boarding “got in the way of our values,” he said. The airline is still dealing with brand damage and other fallout from the April 9 incident. United faced another round of negative headlines Wednesday when a giant rabbit died as it awaited a connecting flight after arriving in Chicago from London.

United’s board last week canceled Munoz’s expected 2018 elevation to chairman and tied compensation more closely to customer service.

Thomas Demetrio, one of Dao’s lawyers, said United’s latest changes are common sense.

“Both Dr. Dao and I applaud United for promptly addressing the many issues that have plagued passenger satisfaction in the arena of airline customer service,” Demetrio said in a statement Thursday. He had said that Dao suffered a concussion, broken nose and two lost teeth in the incident.

Training Employees

United said it also would refrain from demanding that seated customers surrender their spots involuntarily, unless safety or security is at risk. The company is planning a new automated system to solicit volunteers willing to give up their places on overbooked flights. Other measures are designed to give employees more training and power to deal with difficult situations.

By June, United expects to have a team in place to help gate agents find ways to use nearby airports, other airlines and ground transportation to get passengers and crews to their destinations.

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CIA ‘live tweets’ Osama bin Laden raid to mark five-year anniversary

Social media exercise giving blow-by-blow account of operation that led to death of al-Qaida chief criticised as distasteful

The Central Intelligence Agencys decision to live-tweet the military operation that culminated in the death of Osama bin Laden as if it were happening today has been criticised as a distasteful victory lap and PR exercise.

Osama bin Laden was killed on 2 May 2011 after a raid on his compound in Abbottabad in Pakistan by United States Navy Seal commandos.

The series of tweets complete with diagrams of the compound that the al-Qaida leader was killed in marked five years since Operation Neptune Spear.

The CIA announced to its 1.33m followers on Twitter that it would be tweeting the raid on Sunday using the hashtag #UBLRaid.

In a preamble, the CIA praised the success of the mission as the culmination of years of complex, thorough and highly advanced intel ops & analyses led by CIA w support of [intelligence community].

Death of Usama Bin Ladin [sic] marked significant victory in US-led campaign to disrupt, dismantle, & defeat al-Qaida, it went on.

It also detailed the compound in which Bin Laden was found, and the features that led to its discovery including trash burned not collected.

From 1:25pm EDT, the CIA began live-tweeting the raid, blow-by-blow as it played out in 2011, starting with the operation being approved by US president Barack Obama, CIA director Leon Panetta and vice admiral William H. McRaven of the Joint Special Operations Command.

The series of tweets took in the helicopter raid and its fallout, as well as the the mission on the ground.

The tweet announcing the death of Usama Bin Ladin had been retweeted 2,400 times and favourited 1,700 times at time of writing.

The series concluded with praise of the daring … team effort, linking to a featured story wrap and a more detailed timeline on the CIAs website.

The series was met with a mix of flippant jokes including the omnipresent Michael Jordan crying meme and criticism.

Andy Mai (@MaiAndy) May 1, 2016


Many more Twitter users questioned the thinking behind the stunt.

Phillip Carter (@Carter_PE) May 1, 2016

I get @CIA desire to take victory lap but tweeting #UBLRaid seems contrary to Intel Community ethos & good judgment

IGNIS (@ContactIgnis) May 1, 2016

We’d like to see a reenactment of the Communications meeting when this idea was discussed. #UBLRaid

James Saunders (@Jimbolinos) May 1, 2016

Imagine what the @CIA are planning for the 10th anniversary – Puppets? Opera? Pixelated animated gifs? #UBLRaid

Hank Single (@Hanksingle) May 1, 2016

@CIA This is grotesque and embarrassing. You should fire your web team.

The Daily Show asked the CIA to stop it.

The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) May 2, 2016

If you live tweet the Bay of Pigs invasion, call us. Otherwise, stop it. #UBLRaid

A spokesman defended the tweets in a statement to the ABC in the US, noting that it was not the first time the CIA had marked historical events on social media.

The takedown of bin Laden stands as one of the great intelligence successes of all time. History has been a key element of CIAs social media efforts, CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said.

On the fifth anniversary, it is appropriate to remember the day and honor all those who had a hand in this achievement.

However, not everyone is convinced by the CIAs official account of the Bin Laden operation. Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist renowned for breaking the My Lai and Abu Ghraib stories, says the claim that Bin Laden was tracked down by painstaking surveillance is a fiction constructed by the Obama administration.

Instead, Hersh claims Bin Laden was given up by a rogue Pakistani official in exchange for the multimillion-dollar reward. He also cast doubt on the claim by US officials that Bin Laden died in a firefight, one of the parts of the story that White House spokesman, Jay Carney, later admitted had not been accurate.

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RHONY Star Tinsley Mortimer Is ‘Optimistic’ About Getting Back Together With Scott Kluth!

There is hope!

Although Real Housewives of New York star Tinsley Mortimer and boyfriend Scott Kluth broke up in October, the two may get back together in the future!

In an interview with US Weekly posted on Wednesday, the socialite is “optimistic” about reconciling with the CouponCabin CEO!

Related: Nicki Minaj Reportedly Walked Onto The RHONY Set Accidentally

The 42-year-old revealed:

“Of course I want to. We have a good relationship… He’s such a great guy and I’m very optimistic. Sometimes breakups are good; they put things in perspective… Breaking up, I feel like, even though it’s painful, it’s helped. So we will see. It’s day by day.”

As viewers saw last season on the hit Bravo show, Mortimer met Kluth through fellow Housewife Carole Radziwill, and the two instantly hit it off!

Sadly, the reality TV personality blames long distance for the couple’s demise.

“I live in New York and we had talked about him coming to New York too, and it got to be a lot of pressure on the relationship… We had to take some of that off and ease the tension, but we broke up, but I think it seems good now.”

However, the two still keep in touch. Not only are they going to spend Thanksgiving together, they recently spent time in Chicago. Oh, and Tinsley works at CouponCabin as an account manager.

Mixing business with pleasure!

[Image via Tinsley Mortimer/Instagram.]

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Indonesia church bombings: police say one family and their children behind attacks

Husband, wife and four children aged nine to 18 believed to be responsible for worst attack in more than a decade

At least 13 people have been killed and dozens injured in multiple suicide bombings at three churches in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, in a coordinated attack police said was carried out by one family and their children.

The Indonesian police chief, Tito Karniavan, told reporters that investigators believed one family – a husband and wife, and their four children aged between nine and 18 – were the perpetrators of the worst attack the country has seen in more than a decade.

The first explosion at the Santa Maria Catholic church, which killed four people, was followed by attacks at the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal church and GKI Diponegoro church minutes later on Sunday.

Police identified the mother as Puji Kuswanti and said that she and her two daughters, Fadila Sari, 12, and Pamela Rizkita, nine, bombed the GKI Diponegoro church.

At the same time, the family’s two teenage sons, Yusuf, 18 and Alif, 16, rode motorcycles close to the entrance of the Santa Maria Catholic church, where they detonated their bombs. Their father, Dita, drove a car bomb into the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal church.

The blasts occurred within minutes of each other, just after 7.30am (0030 GMT) on Sunday morning as parishioners were heading into the churches for services.

Karniavan said he suspected the family involved had recently returned to Indonesia from Syria, where hundreds of Indonesians have travelled to join Islamic State, including entire families.

Isis claimed responsibility for the attacks through its media agency, Amaq, but did not produce any evidence for the claim.

President Joko Widodo joined Karniavan on a visit to the scene in Surabaya on Sunday. They jointly condemned the attacks as barbaric.

Church in flames after bomb attacks in Indonesia – video

East Java’s police spokesman, Frans Barung Mangera, said 41 injured people were sent to hospital on Sunday, among them two officers who were guarding the churches.

The coordinated attacks in the predominantly Muslim country came days before the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Indonesian intelligence agency officials said they suspected the Isis-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) was behind the assaults. The militant group is headed by Indonesia’s leading Isis proponent, Aman Abdurrahman, who is said to have ordered the 2016 Sarinah attack in Jakarta, which killed eight people.

Sunday’s attacks follow a deadly prison riot at a maximum-security detention facility in West Java last week, when Islamist inmates killed five officers after taking them hostage, and controlled three prison blocks for 40 hours.

The church attacks were probably linked to the prison hostage standoff, said Wawan Purwanto, the communication director at Indonesia’s intelligence agency.

“The main target is still security authorities, but we can say that there are alternative [targets] if the main targets are blocked,” he said.

News of the riot at the Mako Brimob detention centre, for which Isis also claimed responsibility, has reverberated through jihadist networks, said Todd Elliot, a Jakarta-based security analyst from Concord Consulting.

“Whatever happened in Mako Brimob has certainly reinvigorated domestic militants. Online jihadi social media has been abuzz in the last couple of days with celebratory messages and calls for more attacks,” said Elliot.

However, the degree of coordination – multiple bombings at three locations just minutes apart – suggests the Surabaya attack was well planned.

“As far as the capabilities of Indonesia jihadists, this was definitely a well-organised and well-coordinated attack,” said Elliot.

Sidney Jones, a terrorism analyst, reinforced that view. “This is the deadliest attack that Isis supporters have been able to mount so far,” she said in a text message. “Most of their earlier bombing attempts failed.”

Another terrorism analyst, Noor Huda Ismail, who has been monitoring the chatter of extremist networks on social media, said Indonesian women have been expressing increasing desire to get more involved in violent extremism.

On Sunday, those same networks discussed the woman allegedly involved in the Surabaya attacks. If confirmed, it would be the first time a woman has detonated a suicide bomb in Indonesia.

“It will change the whole landscape of radicalisation in Indonesia because first when you are a woman involved it sends a message … ‘I open up jihad for you’.”

A member of the bomb squad outside a church in Surabaya. Photograph: Antara Foto/Reuters

Hours before Sunday’s attacks, Indonesia’s counter-terrorism squad shot dead four suspected terrorists from the JAD network in Cianjur, West Java. Police seized two handguns and three bags containing explosives.

Adam Harvey (@adharves)

Breaking: Video showing one of the Surabaya attackers riding a motorcycle into the grounds of a church and detonating a bomb.

May 13, 2018

Police ordered the temporary closure of all churches in Surabaya on Sunday, and a large food festival in the city was cancelled.

Indonesia is home to significant numbers of Christians, Hindus and Buddhists but there are concerns over rising intolerance. Extremists have mounted a series of attacks against Christians and other minorities in recent years.

Indonesian police shot and wounded a man who attacked a church congregation in Sleman town with a sword during Sunday mass in February. The radical Islamist, who had wanted to fight with Isis in Syria, injured four people.

Sunday’s attacks were the deadliest since 2005, when a series of car bombs killed 23 people on the resort island of Bali. The worst terror attack in Indonesia was the Bali bombing of 2002, when 202 people were killed.

Agence France-Presse and Reuters contributed to this report

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Trump Tweets Happy Labor Day, But Twitter Is So Not Having It

While many were busy enjoying their holiday weekends (or pretending not to panic about North Korea), President Donald Trump tweeted about Labor Day. His tweet came just hours after he reportedly decided to pull the plug on DACA, a program that protects immigrants who arrived illegally as children. Unsurprisingly, Twitter isn’t having it.

The Obama-era policy Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals allows those who arrived in the country as children, also known as “Dreamers,” to continue working and avoid deportation via two-year authorization periods. There are a host of eligibility requirements for DACA, including military service and education level. According to the Migration Policy Institute, 800,000 individuals have benefitted from DACA since the policy went into effect in August 2012. Among the estimated 230,000 who are eligible for DACA, many are students or workers, or both. Pew Research estimates some 8 million undocumented immigrants help comprise the US labor force.

While an official decision on DACA has yet to be announced, Trump’s tweet on Labor Day was still naturally seen by many as a slap in the face to the labor force.

We are building our future with American hands, American labor, American iron, aluminum and steel. Happy !

Last week, the president was allegedly weighing whether or not to scrap DACA. While the president is under no obligation to uphold the policy, many people read the president’s alleged decision to dismantle it while simultaneously celebrating laborers on social media as hypocritical.

Other tweets targeted his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her personal brand, which has come under fire for the factory conditions laborers there have been reported to endure.

Still other people cited Trump’s own business empire and reports that he had a history of not paying employees for their work.

Many people tweeted about Labor Day in celebration of immigrants and Dreamers and contrasted it to the president’s actions.

While not explicitly in response to Trump’s Monday tweet, the message that they opposed his alleged DACA decision was pretty clear.

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

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Quintessentially “British” Village Traces Their Genetic Ancestry

The village of Bledington is like the archetypal view of Britain, complete with cute cottages, a 12th-century church, Morris dancing poles, and pubs full of warm beer. Therefore, a new genetic test has decided to test just how “British” they are by looking at their DNA.

First thing’s first, as any British person will tell you, the idea of “Britishness” is a confusing thing (even without getting genetics involved). The first settlers on the British Isles obviously came from somewhere outside of Britain. Then over the following millennia, Britain spent a lot of its time being invaded by other parts of the world, including the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, and the Normans. Around the 19th century, Britain started invading huge parts of the world. This means this little island has always been mixing with other parts of the world, both genetically and culturally.

Therefore, there’s no set thing that defines Britishness. As this genetic study also highlights, even this quintessentially British village is a great mish-mash of ancestry. 

The study by genealogy company Ancestry collected saliva samples from 120 people in the village and asked them a few questions about their heritage. Population data says that 94 percent of the village deem themselves as “White British” and 56 percent of the study group didn’t expect to find results outside of the UK.

Nevertheless, the analysis of the DNA results revealed that the average resident was 42 percent Anglo-Saxon. This was the dominant culture of Britain from the 5th century CE, consisting of northern Germanic tribes who migrated from continental Europe and indigenous British groups who took up parts of their culture. A further 20.61 percent were from Western Europe, 17.03 percent Irish, 10.06 percent Scandinavian, and 2.8 percent Iberian (the peninsula of Spain and Portugal). Many others found traces of genetic heritage from Native America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Melanesia.

A fair few of the village’s residents were pretty shocked by their results. Local resident Guy Chittenden, 24, said he always strongly believed he was “100 percent British.”  

“All I know is English people in my family – and as far as I am aware I don’t know any relatives outside of Britain,” he said in a statement.

When he received his results, however, he was shocked to find out that he was just 3 percent Anglo-Saxon, with the rest of his genetic ancestry being from Western Europe, Ireland, and Scandinavia.

Commenting on the study, AncestryDNA spokesman Russell James said: “Despite the majority of residents assuming they were British through and through, this fascinating process uncovered some incredibly diverse heritage and allowed us to take a broader look at the genetic history of the village as a whole.

“It seems that Bledington‘s picturesque and arguably ‘typical England’ look and feel is deceiving as, on average, less than half of the villagers’ DNA (42 percent) was identified as Great British.”

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Zaras Recipe for Success: More Data, Fewer Bosses

Deep inside a sprawling glass-and-cement edifice the size of an airplane hangar in the Spanish town of Arteixo, 10 designers swarm around a model dressed in cropped gray trousers and a double-breasted navy blazer. Sweaters, shirts, and suits are spread out on the white-tile floor, while seamstresses in white labcoats stitch prototypes nearby. Its classic, but its new at the same time, says a woman from China. Im not sure about the bold patterns, counters a British woman, dressed in white sneakers and a flowing skirt. Others nod their assent or express doubt.

This international tribe of thirtysomethings is a big part of the success of Zara, the brand that over the past four decades has grown from a single store in the Spanish city of La Corua into the biggest fashion retailer on earth. As the team debates whether the collection is too plain or too daring, it becomes clear no one is in charge. Juan Mendivil, a menswear buyer, fields opinions, but the decision doesnt rest with him, and everyone has a say. They finally agree on solid colors and traditional cuts for Europe and bold patterns for China, where sales data indicate such styles are popular.

Unlike rivals such as Gap, H&M, and Primark, Zara has no chief designer, and theres little discernible hierarchy. Its 350 designers are given unparalleled independence in approving products and campaigns, shipping fresh styles to stores twice a week. Guided by daily data feeds showing whats selling and whats stalling, the teams develop fashions for the coming weeks. Every morning, staff in Arteixo divine whats popular by monitoring sales figures and thousands of comments from customers, store managers, and country directors in cities as far-flung as Taipei, Moscow, and New York.

Zaras culture isnt as easily copied as the latest fashion trends, and that partly explains why Inditex, its parent company, is a breakaway success while most global clothing retailers are struggling. American Apparel filed for bankruptcy in November for a second time, sales have fallen at Gap stores, and profit is down at H&M. In contrast, Inditex powered ahead with an 11 percent rise in revenue in the first half of the year. There isnt a magic formula, says Pablo Isla, Inditexs chairman and chief executive officer. There are no stars. We are able to react to data during the season, but in the end, what we offer our customers is fashion, and theres a human element to that.

Controlled by Spanish billionaire Amancio Ortega, who this year briefly surpassed Bill Gates to become the worlds richest man before falling back to second place, Inditex posted 20.9 billion ($22.2 billion) in sales last year, from 7,100 stores in 93 countries. Other Inditex brands such as Bershka, Massimo Dutti, and Pull & Bear are growing, but Zara still accounts for two-thirds of sales. Ortega hired Isla, a bespectacled former Banco Popular Espaol executive, as CEO in 2005, but he hasnt retired. At 80, he still comes to work most days, often sitting in the Zara womens department, where his 32-year-old daughter Marta works on the commercial team after a stint at Bershka. While he can sometimes be seen walking his dog Pepe in the town square of nearby La Corua, Ortega remains one of the worlds most secretive billionaires, leaving Isla to oversee Inditex.

One concern for Zara is managing its growth, says Andy Hughes, a retail analyst at UBS. With Inditexs sales almost doubling since 2009, Isla is adding stores at a slower pace, concentrating instead on a smaller number of flagship locations and its online business. Another concern is that rivals might figure out how to match Zaras quick turnarounds. Everyone in the industry is trying to replicate its design prowess, Hughes says. No one could match Inditex, but the gap might close.

Source: Inditex

Isla rejects the fast-fashion label for Zara, saying it doesnt reflect the time and detail that goes into designing each garment. And he says analysts place too much emphasis on Inditexs much-vaunted supply chain, a network of factories in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco that produces 60 percent of its merchandise. With production nearby, Inditex can quickly switch gears if weather or fashion trends change, getting designs into stores in as little as two or three weeks, while rivals orders slowly make their way across the ocean on container ships.

Just as important is the way Inditex pulls ideas from consumers, Isla says, rather than designing collections months in advance and pushing goods on shoppers with ads. While analysts say H&M spends as much as 4 percent of sales on advertising, Inditex has virtually no ad budget apart from social media marketing. Since 2010, the data on what customers want has been augmented with information from online sales. Those are fueled by twice-weekly releases of new designs on Zaras website, highlighted with photos from rapid-fire shoots in Arteixo. On a rainy November day, buyers, analysts, and commercial managers sift through information on computers in a space the size of 22 football fields, engaging in a lively exchange of ideas with designers. Without the design, there would be nothing, Isla says, sitting at a pale-wood conference table in the companys minimalist headquarters. Its not a formula.

This means the designers are constantly tinkering. When military jackets turned out to be big sellers this autumn, the commercial team asked the designers to keep tweaking them with new fabrics and cuts. In May, a blue-and-white collarless womens coat for 69.99 (about $102 at the time) generated so much buzz that two fans created an Instagram account@thatcoatto document the craze. But instead of churning out more identical coats, design teams came up with different fabrics and prints using a similar cut, ranging in price from $69 to $189. The root of Inditexs success is its predominantly short lead time, which gives a greater level of newness to its collections, says Anne Critchlow, a retail analyst at Socit Gnrale.

About two-thirds of Inditexs products are generated under short lead times, vs. 20 percent for most retailers, she says. Small production runs mean Zara can test designs in various markets without building up unwanted stock that it might need to unload at a deep discount. That gives Inditex among the lowest yearend inventories in the industry, says Richard Hyman, an independent analyst in London. This is a business that really breaks the rules, Hyman says. They dont really have seasons in the way a normal fashion retailer would.

The bottom line: A unique management formula may be why Inditexs revenue growthup 11 percent in the first half of 2016far outpaces its rivals.

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North Korean nuclear test unites Republicans – against Barack Obama

Presidential candidates took to social media and TV to condemn the presidents weakness, which they see as facilitating North Koreas nuclear ambitions

North Koreas self-proclaimed successful testing of a hydrogen bomb has succeeded in uniting the bifurcated field of Republican presidential candidates against a common enemy: Barack Obama.

By the time the worlds great powers joined together in universal condemnation of the hermit kingdoms latest nuclear provocation at a UN security council meeting on Wednesday morning, more than half a dozen contenders for the Republican nomination had issued statements decrying Obamas weakness, which they see as facilitating North Koreas nuclear ambitions.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida led the charge with a late-night tweetstorm following news of the test, calling the detonation just the latest example of the failed Obama-Clinton foreign policy.

I have been warning throughout this campaign that North Korea is run by a lunatic who has been expanding his nuclear arsenal while President Obama has stood idly by, Rubio said in a statement. Our enemies around the world are taking advantage of Obamas weakness. We need new leadership that will stand up to people like Kim Jong-un and ensure our country has the capabilities necessary to keep America safe.

Rubios critique was echoed by New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who decried Obamas weak response to North Korean nuclear aggressions under his watch. Three out of the four nuclear detonations that the North Koreans have done have happened under Barack Obama and Hillary Clintons watch, Christie said during an appearance onFox and Friends. They have just not acted strongly at all around the world. This is just another example, piled on top of Iran, on top of Syria, on top Crimea and Ukraine … this is what weak American leadership gets you.

On CNN, Kentucky senator Rand Paul, who has been labelled a committed isolationist on foreign policy by Rubio and other rivals for the Republican nomination, redirected the question of North Korean nuclear aggression to a criticism of the comprehensive deal on Irans nuclear programme.

I would say that there are many parallels to the Iran agreement, Paul said. Many of us said that thats the danger of the Iran agreement once they get nuclear weapons, its hard to know what to do and how you will respond.

The test, North Koreas fourth since first detonating a fizzled atomic weapon in October 2006, prompted other candidates to join the coalition of the willing on social media:

Jeb Bush (@JebBush) January 6, 2016

North Korean nuke test shows danger of continuing feckless Obama/Clinton foreign policy.

Carly Fiorina (@CarlyFiorina) January 6, 2016

North Korea is yet another Hillary Clinton foreign policy failure. America cannot lead from behind.

Largely missing from the condemnation of Obamas perceived lack of action on North Korea was condemnation of North Korea itself: beyond Paul, who on CNN criticized the norths failed economic system as indicative of the superiority of capitalism over socialism, no would-be nominee has directed much ire in the direction of the repressive communist autocracy responsible for the test itself.

Part of this may be rooted in the Republican fields general lack of coherent policy on North Korea, which has taken a back seat to the Islamic State, Russia and the Syrian civil war in most discussions of foreign policy this cycle.

When asked for their candidates positions on increased sanctions, boosting US troop presence on the 38th parallel or other possible responses to North Korean aggression, for example, press representatives for candidate Carly Fiorina provided the Guardian with a copy of a speech she gave on China in July. (The word Korea never appears in the transcript.)

Obama has repeatedly imposed economic sanctions on North Korea as part of a policy of strategic patience. Yet the universality of Republican condemnation of Obamas perceived weakness on North Korea was almost absolute, with the notable exception of billionaire frontrunner Donald Trump. The real estate tycoon, whose foreign policy bona fides is largely limited to his ownership of a golf course in Scotland, declined to pin the thermonuclear test on Obama, instead putting the lions share of the blame on China.

China has total control, believe me, Trump told Fox and Friends on Wednesday. They have total control over North Korea. Without China, they wouldnt eat, he said.

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Shhh, quiet: an introvert’s guide to networking

Dont fret about saying something clever or selling yourself. Everyone loves an introvert all you have to do is listen

Do not make eye contact. Pretend to look for someone by peering pensively into the middle distance. Do a few sweaty laps of the room. Get another drink. Get a third. Busy yourself with your phone and visit the loo again. Repeat these steps then retire to the corner to hang out with that friendly looking pot plant.

Sound familiar? This tried and tested method is how not to network when faced with a roomful of strangers. For many of us particularly introverts networking can be excruciating. But with a bit of know-how, it doesnt have to be.

Introverts can find networking intimidating because of all the louder extroverts in the room trying to sell themselves, says Stefan Thomas, author of Networking for Dummies and self-confessed introvert. But introverts make the best networkers because theyre good listeners and tend to be more interested in other people than about talking about themselves.

If youre an introvert working in an industry such as PR or the media, theres nowhere to hide from networking. Fiona Armstrong, a highly introverted PR professional, says she has had to find introverted ways to do extroverted things.

Introversion has nothing to do with shyness or general awkwardness; it is an inbuilt aversion to high stimulation environments lots of noise, lots of people and bright lights, she says. Its in no way a disadvantage; its simply a different way of doing things, and introverts shouldnt become fake extroverts to fit the mould.

So if you are an introvert, how do you get the most out of a networking event?

Get there early

Get to the event early so youre one of the first people there, says Thomas. It is more intimidating to walk in later when conversations and groups have already formed and you find yourself having to break into them.

You might even be able to strike up some rapport with other delegates online beforehand. If it is a conference with a Twitter hashtag, for example, you can use it to engage with other people who will be there.

If you can connect in advance it wont be a cold start and if people are talking about the event on social media it shows they should be happy to meet people at the event itself, Thomas says.

Dont worry about saying something clever

There is nothing wrong with small talk. People get really het up about finding something clever to say but I would ditch the elevator pitch and try not to overcomplicate things, says Thomas. Just smile, stick your hand out and introduce yourself.

If there is a pause in the conversation, remember its not just on you to fill the silence, says Armstrong. Dont be tempted to blurt out the first thing you think of the chances are youll want to cringe if you do.

Introverts can use their calmness to create a sense of gravitas and presence, says psychologist Liza Walter Nelson, who has expertise in work psychology. Introverts also generally have a depth of interests which means they are often full of facts and knowledge, she says. As long as they come prepared, and quell the nerves a little, this can absolutely be turned into an advantage.


Most people enjoy talking about themselves so let them do the talking, says Dr Rob Yeung, psychologist and author of How to Stand Out: Proven Tactics for Getting Noticed. Prepare a handful of open-ended questions that you can ask pretty much anyone you meet. Ask about their job and their interest in the event, for example.

However, it is still useful to think about soundbites for when the spotlight is turned back to you, says Thomas. Have some little nuggets which concisely describe what you do, he says.

Aim for quality rather than quantity

Most people are a little reluctant or even anxious about having to talk to complete strangers, says Yeung. If it doesnt come naturally to you, set yourself the goal of meeting a handful of people, he says.

Rather than networking, I sometimes say to clients Im coaching that they should aim to engage in netfriending chatting to people and trying to identify the one or two they genuinely like enough to consider possible friend material. If you can come away with just a few possible friends from an event, then the work benefits may flow naturally at a later date.

Look for small groups or pairs with open body language, rather than close-knit circles, says Armstrong.

Remember to take time out

Being a good networker is also about judging when it is time to move on. If you are feeling really awkward, look to make an exit by saying you need to use the facilities or get another drink.

Smile and emphasise that it was really interesting to talk to the person and would be good to talk again, says Walter-Nelson. Then take a couple of minutes to breathe.

As an introvert though, remember to take time between talking to people and have a moment or two to yourself to do what you do best: reflect, think and reassess, keep on track.

And if you are feeling really nervous, Thomas says running your wrists under a cold tap for a few seconds can help to calm you.

Judge the vibe

Get into the mindset that the conversation is the beginning of a relationship that youll build on later, adds Thomas. Remember that you can swap business cards and connect with people on social media afterwards. I have seen people try too hard to sell themselves and act like a door-to-door salesman. Its very off-putting, especially if its a Christmas party.

Ultimately, be clear about why you are there and why other people are there too. At a Christmas party where people are just looking to relax, the very most you should aim to come away with is their names and then you can follow up later, says Thomas.

Try to relax and keep it light. Respect that people are there to socialise and be careful how much you drink.

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