Most online clothes shoppers send something back – BBC News

Image caption Variations in retailers’ clothing sizes means Emily Murray buys in four different fits – so lots gets returned

New figures suggest almost two thirds of shoppers who bought women’s clothes online in the last six months sent at least one item back.

So-called “serial returners” are blamed for pushing up prices.

Researchers who questioned over 1,000 online shoppers found women’s clothing had been returned by 63% of them.

Retailers said free returns were an important part of their business but the costs had to be recovered somewhere or they risked going under.

Consumer analysts, Savvy Marketing compiled the figures for BBC Radio 4’s “You and Yours” programme.

It found 56% of all people questioned, who bought any type of clothing online in the six months up to May 2016, had sent one or more items back.

The figure was higher for women’s clothes.

Smartphone revolution

The research also suggested that people aged 18-24 were twice as likely as their parents to do internet shopping using their smartphones.

Image caption This one distribution centre received 80,000 returned items of clothing on the day of filming

Catherine Shuttleworth, from Savvy Marketing, said: “The Smartphone revolution has made shopping ever nearer – it is right next to our purse or our wallet.

“That immediacy and ability to buy things whenever you want is really important to that generation.”

Student Emily Murray is one of this new generation of shoppers.

She said she bought a lot online, especially for occasions when she did not want pictures of herself “popping up repeatedly in the same dress on Facebook”.

She said it was “near impossible” to know which would fit her, so she ordered different sizes.

“I end up sending back pretty much half of what I buy and it might even be more,” she said.

Forty football pitches

Many of the returns are passed onto logistics firms around the country that handle returned goods for major retailers.

Tony Mannix, CEO of Clipper, said that the brands he worked with did not want to be associated with the vast quantities of returns he handled at any one time – enough to cover “forty premier league football pitches”.

You and Yours reporter Samantha Fenwick – who visited one of Clipper’s plants at a secret Yorkshire location – said some of the clothes did not come back in peak condition.

She described lipstick stains and other clear signs that they had been worn.

Sniff test

Mr Mannix said about 5% ended up “being binned”.

“The first check we do is what’s called the sniff test because new clothes smell like new clothes,” he said as he described the checks they use to see if a garment had been washed or worn.

Such wastage can be a big problem for retailers.

Recent research from Barclaycard suggested that one in five online businesses had increased prices to cover the cost of managing and processing customer returns.

By law, retailers had to offer customers the option of returning goods bought online within 14 days.

Once shoppers had informed the retailer they then had another 14 days to return the goods and must be refunded within 14 days of the retailer getting the goods back.

New attitude

Image caption Lavish Alice’s Lee Bloor said they had no idea about the returns issue when they started the business

It is younger shoppers who were more likely to take up that offer and they did not have to provide a reason for the return, although retailers often asked for one.

Lee Bloor, from the online fashion retailer, Lavish Alice, said the boom in e-commerce meant shoppers now had a different relationship with clothes compared with when they just went into a bricks-and-mortar store.

“You would try it on, you would touch it, you would feel it, you would see how it fits in the changing room and when you’ve made that purchase you are more likely to keep hold of it.

“Whereas these days we are noticing a trend of consumers buying multiple sizes of the same product so they use their bedrooms as their changing rooms,” he added.

Dealing with all those returns is a challenge for businesses but Emily Murray is unrepentant about her shopping habits.

She said she spends plenty of money with online retailers.

“They shouldn’t advertise free returns and free deliveries if that’s a problem for them,” she said.

You can hear more on this story on You and Yours on BBC Radio 4 from 12:15 BST on Monday 30th May 2016.

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8 Surprising Reasons People Are Taking Antidepressants

There’s been a lot of concern over the “skyrocketing” use of antidepressants over the last 20 years. Many experts believe that these rising numbers indicate either higher depression rates or an over-diagnosis of mental illness.

But there is at least one more factor, courtesy of a new study published in the journal JAMA: An increasing number of people are taking antidepressant medications for completely separate conditions, according to an analysis of nine years of prescription data in Quebec, Canada.

Only about 55 percent of antidepressant prescriptions were written to alleviate depression symptoms, while the rest were written for a wide variety of other conditions that aren’t related to depression. Some of these were prescribed in what’s known as “off-label” use — when a medicine is prescribed to treat a condition for which it wasn’t officially approved, or when a medicine is taken in a different dose or method than the manufacturers originally intended.

While using medications for unapproved conditions is common and perfectly safe under the care of a doctor, the increasing rate of off-label antidepressant use is an important reminder for experts not to assume that patients who are taking antidepressants have depression, said lead study author Jenna Wong, a PhD student with the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at McGill University in Montreal.

Other reasons people take antidepressants

We’ve known for a while that there are an increasing number of reasons to use antidepressants off-label, but Wong’s study is among the first to break down the most common reasons by percentage. 

Wong and her colleagues analyzed over 100,000 antidepressant prescriptions written from 2006 to 2015 for approximately 20,000 patients in prescription databases in Quebec. These databases are unique because they contain a field that allows the doctor explain why the medication is being prescribed — a feature Wong says should spread to more prescription databases. 

Though the study data came from Canada, off-label use was determined using both Health Canada and U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifications. The FDA has given approval for antidepressant use in treating some of the other conditions, but interestingly, doctors also prescribed antidepressants for conditions which are off-label for all antidepressants as a class. 

In all, 29 percent of antidepressant prescriptions were prescribed for off-label use, Wong notes. Here are the most common alternate uses: 

1. Anxiety

Certain classes of antidepressants are FDA-approved for anxiety disorder treatment. And Wong found that 18.5 percent of antidepressant prescriptions were in fact written to address anxiety, instead.

2. Insomnia

About 10 percent of prescriptions were written to address insomnia. People with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression, while insomnia or other sleep problems are a common symptom in people with depression. That’s why they sometimes share the same treatment, notes the Sleep Foundation. Doctors in Wong’s study tended to prescribe mostly off-label antidepressants for insomnia and pain; though there is one FDA-approved antidepressant for insomnia, about 97 percent of the prescriptions written for insomnia were off-label. 

3. Pain

The Mayo Clinic calls antidepressants a “mainstay” in chronic pain treatment for their ability to dull the perception of pain — an ability that is not fully understood by researchers.

Pain disorders made up six percent of the antidepressant prescriptions in Wong’s study. A few antidepressants are FDA-approved to help alleviate chronic pain, but 83 percent of the antidepressants prescribed for pain were off-label, according to Wong’s analysis.  

4. Panic disorders

Four percent of antidepressant prescriptions were indicated for panic disorder, which includes agoraphobia, social phobia and widespread anxiety and can lead to physical symptoms like a racing heart rate, trembling, chest pain and shortness of breath. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that antidepressant medication can alleviate some of these symptoms and can even stop the recurrence of panic attacks. Several antidepressants are FDA-approved for treating panic attacks. 

5. Fibromyalgia

The treatment of fibromyalgia, a disorder with symptoms like musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and sleep issues, made up 1.5 percent of antidepressant descriptions. Antidepressants can help with the pain and fatigue that fibromyalgia can cause, the Mayo Clinic notes, and some of them are approved by the FDA for treatment of the condition. 

6. Migraine

Migraines, which are severe headaches that can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and what’s known as “aura” (dizziness, visual hallucinations and light sensitivity), can sometimes be treated with a certain class of antidepressant known as a tricyclic antidepressant. Using any antidepressant to treat migraines is an off-label use of the medication, but experts believe that it changes chemical levels in the brain, which in turn helps prevent migraines. Prescriptions for migraines made up 1.5 percent of the prescriptions in Wong’s study.

7. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder made up 1.1 percent of the prescriptions analyzed in Wong’s study. Several antidepressants have been approved by the FDA to treat OCD because it can help make symptoms more manageable. They are a first-line pharmaceutical treatment for the disorder, the Mayo Clinic notes. 

8. Menopause symptoms

Just 0.8 percent of the prescriptions in Wong’s study were written to address vasomotor symptoms of menopause like hot flashes or night sweats. Treating these menopausal symptoms are off-label use for all antidepressants, but recent research from 2014 has shown that taking antidepressants was more effective than a placebo at treating them. However, antidepressants did not outperform the standard of care for hot flashes and night sweats, which is estrogen supplements. 

Off-label use is perfectly safe

While “off-label” use might seem alarming, the FDA notes that it can be an option when approved treatments don’t work, or when prescribed for people with conditions that don’t have an approved treatment.

Many off-label uses are backed by scientific evidence from clinical trials, just not full government approval, as the list above demonstrates. Off-label drug use is also common in certain populations, especially among children, because most drugs prescribed to pediatric patients were never tested in children. This makes many pediatric prescriptions necessarily off-label.

Why antidepressants are so commonly used for other conditions

While she didn’t talk to doctors about why they prescribed so many antidepressants off-label, Wong’s team has two theories about why this is such a common application.

The first is that pharmaceutical companies may be aware of clinical trials that test their drugs beyond approved use, and could be promoting and marketing the findings to doctors, Wong said.

The second theory is that doctors are simply observing changes in their patients after they start taking certain medicines, and then applying these insights to other patients in their practices.

Neither of those two drivers of off-label use are unique to Quebec or Canada, Wong concluded, which means that even though this database only has information about patients in Quebec, there’s no reason to think that this is a Quebec-only phenomenon. But her research does underscore the need for more experts to recognize that simply having an antidepressant prescription is not a proxy for a depression diagnosis or depression treatment. Wong also called for more research on the off-label uses of antidepressants. 

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Eric Cantona believes Didier Deschamps may have left out France players on racial grounds

Eric Cantona has controversially suggested the ethnicity of Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa may have been factors in the France manager Didier Deschamps leaving the pair out of his squad for next months European Championship

Eric Cantona has controversially suggested the ethnicity of Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa may have been a factor in the France manager Didier Deschamps leaving the pair out of his squad for next months European Championship.

Ben Arfa, a former Newcastle forward, was only named on standby despite a brilliant season for Nice that has seen him linked with a move to Barcelona. But it is Benzemas exclusion after he was questioned by police in connection with an alleged attempt by one of his friends to blackmail his international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape which is given particularly short shrift by Cantona, who turned 50 on Tuesday.

Cantona described the French prime minister, Manuel Valls, as a hypocrite because he urged Deschamps to leave Benzema out while French politicians embroiled in scandal stay in their jobs. Benzema is a great player. Ben Arfa is a great player, Cantona told the Guardian. But Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know. Like the Mormons in America.

So Im not surprised he used the situation of Benzema not to take him. Especially after Valls said he should not play for France. And Ben Arfa is maybe the best player in France today. But they have some origins. I am allowed to think about that.

Asked if he was really suggesting that Deschamps a former France team-mate who he also described as a muppet had been guilty of discriminating against the pair, Cantona added: Maybe no, but maybe yes. Why not? One thing is for sure Benzema and Ben Arfa are two of the best players in France and will not play the European Championship. And for sure, Benzema and Ben Arfa, their origins are north African. So, the debate is open.

Deschamps declined to comment when contacted by the Guardian.

The France manager Didier Deschamps has come in for some strong criticism from his compatriot Eric Cantona. Photograph: Bob Edme/AP

Cantona, who won the last of his 45 caps for France in 1995, has never enjoyed the healthiest relationship with Les Bleus and insists he will be supporting Roy Hodgsons England instead this summer.

One of the great international sporting festivals will take place against a backdrop of rising right-wing nationalism across the continent, a spiralling refugee crisis and security fears in a country left on edge by Novembers terror attacks in Paris.

For sure, if France win the European Championship the politicians will use that success just as they did [after the World Cup] in 98. But its just politics, said Cantona, who this week launched ITVs marketing campaign for its sports coverage this summer. The people from the right, they use this situation. They mix everything. They mix up Daesh, the bombing, the refugees. We have to be cleverer. There are people here who really need help. They are the ones we should think about.

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What if your favorite musician, architect and fashion designer were all the same person?

(CNN)What if the next big thing in fashion wasn’t something wearable, but something all together different — something more?

The idea of fashion designers drawing inspiration from other areas — be it music or art — is nothing new. But in recent years, the trend has accelerated, with designers forming real world collaborations with artists — think sportswear brand adidas and Pritzker prize architect Zaha Hadid, or Snarkitecture and COS — leading to the development of new more hybridized business models.
    At the forefront of this new hybrid trend is pioneering French brand Maison Kitsun. Founded by Parisians Gildas Loac and Masaya Kuroki 13 years ago, the music-label-fashion-house crossover has since seen global success, with over 50 artists signed and 12 stand alone boutiques in Paris, New York, Tokyo, and most recently, Hong Kong.
    Having originally met in a record shop in Paris, the duo’s combined interest in both music and fashion pushed them to experiment with more multi-layered hybrid forms (previous collaborations saw the duo work alongside Daft Punk, among others).
    Today the Kitsun record label represents big names such as La Roux and Two Door Cinema Club, while the Kitsun fashion label boasts celebrity customers such as Jay Z and Ellie Goulding.
    Described by Loac and Kuroki as a “lifestyle brand,” the pair reject the idea that fashion and music should be separated.
    “Music and fashion have a lot in common when it comes to codes and mechanics, despite the fact that they’re two different worlds. For us, it was time to put those two activities under one roof and one experience,” explains Loac.
    The label, according to the duo, is a reflection of their own lifestyle. “We have become our brand and vice versa. Fashion and music are two different worlds with different codes, spirit, environments, cycles, but both co-exist as equals.Working in both industries forces us to remain open-minded. We don’t have any primary targets. We’re speaking to everyone.”
    This sense of open-mindedness can be seen elsewhere too. Not content with focusing exclusively on music and fashion, the two maintain a prominent interest in interior design and architecture as well.
    Given Masaya’s background as a trained architect, the duo maintain full control of the interior design throughout their boutique locations, establishing their own Kitsun signature interior while simultaneously pulling inspiration from each store’s surroundings.
    “For our boutiques, we’re always trying to adapt and draw our inspiration from the country, the neighbourhood, the cultural atmosphere,” says Masaya.
    Using the recently opened Hong Kong store as an example, Masaya explains that the new location fuses “post-modern chic with Parisian heritage and touches of traditional Asian decors.”
    But in a city obsessed with harmony and feng shui, this coming together of multiple elements is no easy task.
    “More and more Hong Kong brands are reaching out to artists to be the faces of their collection, releasing compilations, inviting bands to perform to their events [but] it’s important to have music and fashion under one roof without using either as a marketing accessory. It’s all about the good balance and creating the best recipe.”

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    Wannabe MLS Hooligans Are Adopting The Worst Of Soccer Culture

    Before the New York Red Bulls and NYCFC match kicked off at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, two incidents between rival fans sparked police involvement. First, seen in the video above captured byBleacher Report UK’s Garry Hayes, an NYCFC fan and a Red Bulls fan exchanged missing punches while the two sides taunted each other. 

    Elsewhere outside of Yankee Stadium, in a separate incident, the tension between fan groups continued. When Red Bulls supporters arrived en masse to Yankee Stadium before kickoff, they had a standoff against NYCFC fans, hurling insults and bottles. They made a scene, and frankly, the whole thing looked pretty lame.

    So what’s the beef here? Why are these two groups of fans fighting? It can’t be over a May 2015 noise complaint against NYCFC fans on the PATH train, right? 

    As it stands, the rivalry is based on where the two teams play more than anything.Despite having “New York” in their name, the New York Red Bulls actuallyplay in the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. NYCFC, on the other hand, make a point to display their pride in making New York City their home, temporarily playing in Yankee Stadium as they mine New York City’s boroughs for land to build a soccer stadium on. It’s not dissimilar to how the NFL’s New York Jets and Giants share MetLife stadium in the swamps of New Jersey’s Meadowlands. 

    Geographically, that’s set up the “Hudson Derby” beef between fan bases: NYCFC actually plays in New York City and its fans don’t let Red Bulls fans forget that. Red Bulls fans give NYCFC fans hell for playing their soccer on top of a baseball field and for signing aging European stars — a transfer tactic MLS fans want to see less of. 

    Michael Stewart via Getty Images
    Red Bulls fans ripped their shirts off at Yankee Stadium during their team’s 7-0 demolition of home team NYCFC.

    None of these gripes, however, are authentic or deeply rooted in any way. They’re all superficial, stemming from how the two clubs market the supposed “rivalry.” Saturday’s match followed a week of MLS and club marketing efforts known as “Rivalry Week.” Inadvertently, MLS may have unintentionally incited these incidents by playing up a non-rivalry rivalry. Essentially, the two divisions of New York soccer fans have been fed a narrative to get them psyched up for the match. And with NYCFC still developing their own fan culture in their second season of play, it’s easy bait for fans to take. 

    And they’ve bit hard. Saturday’s events aren’t the first time the two sides have gone after each other. In August 2015, AP soccer writer Rob Harris captured footage of NYCFC fans and Red Bulls fans fighting and throwing signs at each other outside of a Red Bulls’ supporters bar in Newark, New Jersey. The pre-game altercation was eventually broken up by a few police sirens. 

    All of this is to say: There is no New York soccer rivalry. The two teams’ wannabe hooligans or “Ultras” are misguided, lame, dangerous and, most of all, seriously unoriginal.

    The way the fans have gone about expressing their hostilities is ripped straight from European soccer’s hooligan fan culture, specifically England’s. In Harris’ video, fans can be heard chanting “WHO ARE YA?” at each other in English accents. In Hayes’ tweet, he drew a parallel between England’s deadly hooligans in the ’80s and what happened on Saturday. These aren’t good looks for either team, and should the violence persist, MLS as a whole, either

    Soccer hooliganism is still goingstrong in European countries like Turkey, where the violence is threatening their top-flight league’s existence, much like England’s hooligans in the ’80s. During that time, fan violence in England was so widespread that many people were killed or seriously injured; attendance began to drop as people steered away from the hateful cauldrons around city stadiums. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher even set up a “war cabinet” to combat hooligans and save English soccer from itself. It worked, and hooliganism has faded in England while the Premier League has risen to the top of international sport. 

    But do NYCFC and Red Bulls supporter groups want to go down that path? Their behavior looks especially bad compared to how fans act during MLS’ premier rivalry between the Portland Timber and Seattle Sounders. Those two cities have a longstanding rivalry dating back to the ’70s, giving each fan base’s culture a historical anchor point and authenticity. Moreover, each team’s supporters are simply spirited, not violent. And because of that, MLS loves to point to their derby match as their best overall product

    Although I didn’t personally see either of Saturday’s brawls, I attended the match and came away impressed with the in-game atmosphere. When I spoke to an NYCFC rep during the match,they noted that although the turned-up atmosphere gave it that rivalry feel, the matchup couldn’t possibly be a rivalry, yet — NYCFC is 0-4 against the Red Bulls, scoring an aggregate of four goals to Red Bulls’ 17. Especially in the wake of NYCFC’s 7-0 home defeat on Saturday, they probably need to beat the Red Bulls first before their fans can stake a fierce, competitive claim as their rivals. Just as it is with the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, there’s no real competitive rivalry if the teams aren’t good. 

    Standing outside of the stadium post-match, an NYCFC fan and a Red Bulls supporter began bantering at each other. The NYCFC fan only had curses to hurl. The Red Bulls fan had the last word: “You lost 7-0 and we’re up 17-4 on you guys, a**hole.”

    Given the passion and excitement these fans have invested into their clubs, a true rivalry is indeed brewing in New York professional soccer. But to get there, fans need to kick-out wannabe English hooliganism, take in a few decently competitive matches and organically let the rivalry unfold.

    Stop forcing it, fans.  

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    Angry Birds knock Captain America from top of box office pecking order

    App-inspired film takes $39m in debut weekend, with young audiences praising movie despite critics mixed reviews

    The Angry Birds Movie soared to $39m in its debut weekend at the US box office, knocking Captain America: Civil War off its perch at the top. New adult comedies Neighbors 2 and The Nice Guys struggled to get their footing, according to comScore estimates on Sunday.

    Rovio Animation spearheaded the production of The Angry Birds Movie, which cost around $73m and opened strongly internationally last weekend. The film has already earned $150m worldwide, according to estimates from Sony.

    The Angry Birds Movie features the voices of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Danny McBride and, as an attempt to create a compelling story out of a fairly simplistic app-based game, has received mixed reviews from critics. Audiences under 25, however, gave the film an A CinemaScore, which should help the film continue to perform well over Memorial Day weekend.

    Its very difficult turning a video game property into a successful movie, said Josh Greenstein, Sonys president of worldwide marketing and distribution. To use a bad pun, we are flying high.

    ComScores senior media analyst, Paul Dergarabedian, said the success of Angry Birds likely had more to do with family appeal and ingrained brand recognition.

    Families are always looking for out-of-the-home content, Dergarabedian said, noting also that the film was the latest in a string of very successful PG-rated films including The Jungle Book and Zootopia.

    PG is the hot new rating now. There used to be a stigma that younger teens wouldnt be interested. The numbers prove that when you go after the broadest base possible, you can be highly successful.

    The PG-13 rated Captain America: Civil War was not too far behind, earning an additional $33.1m for a second-place spot, which brings its domestic total to $347.4m. Even in his third weekend in theaters, the superhero proved mightier than R-rated comedies Neighbors 2 and The Nice Guys, both of which underwhelmed.

    Neighbors 2 brought in only $21.8m less than half of the first films $49m opening in 2014. But the film from the director Nick Stoller also cost only $35m to make.

    Were really proud of Neighbors 2, said Nick Carpou, Universals president of domestic distribution. Were not just out there trying to go to the bank on something. It really is a different take.

    Stars Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and Zac Efron all returned for the sequel which puts a new spin on the frat next door idea by having the young familys new neighbors be a sorority comprised of girls upset about the unequal rules for fraternities and sororities.

    The R-rated 70s-set buddy comedy The Nice Guys grossed $11.3m for a fourth-place spot. Warner Bros handled the domestic distribution for the Shane Black-directed film, which stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe and has been very well received by critics.

    While the comedy openings might be less than hoped for, both could still provide decent counterprogramming to the spectacle-driven films opening on Memorial Day weekend, when mega productions X-Men: Apocalypse and Alice Through the Looking Glass take over.

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    Syrian refugees give new life to struggling city of Malm

    Migrants fleeing war in the Middle East have brought a vibrant culture and a trade revival to Swedens third city

    When Fisal Abo Karaa stepped off the train in Malms central station this time last year, exhausted after a long journey by train and boat, he looked like any other victim of Syrias terrible civil war.

    It wasnt until April, when Malms main shopping street was filled with the sound of Syrian bagpipes, drums and dancing that he made his presence felt. The opening of Jasmin Alsham, his new restaurant, was the most visible sign yet of an unexpected injection of Syrian money hitting Swedens third city.

    Abo Karaa and his partners have invested a rumoured five million Swedish kronor (400,000) converting what was once a Pizza Hut into a replica Damascene house. It is one of five Syrian restaurants to have opened in less than a year. There are people saying that the Syrians have come and want to buy up everything, says Ibrahim, a hairdresser and member of the Nahawand shisha smoking club, a meeting place for the citys established Arab businessmen.

    Theres many, many Syrian people who want to move money to Sweden, says Maher Alkhatib, from Damascus, who opened a restaurant last year. I know people in the Emirates, they are asking me, Find a good project so we can invest money.

    Abo Karaas family owned four factories in Homs exporting paper tissues all over the Arab world. We have lost in Syria millions of dollars, and many assets, his nephew Mohammed says.

    At the Nahawand shisha club, sharp-suited businessmen sit with friends, wives and their families under ersatz oil paintings of Ottoman-era potentates, sipping freshly squeezed juices and listening to a cabaret singer, who switches between emotive, plaintive song and raucous humour.

    A brother and sister share a shisha pipe at Nahawand Shisha. Photograph: Malin Palm for the Observer

    Among its members are some of the biggest success stories from three decades of Arab immigration into the city. Some 43% of Malms 317,000-strong population now have a foreign background, with the 40,000 Iraqi-born citizens and their descendants forming the largest single group. Together they have transformed a city which in the early 1980s was in such a deep slump after the collapse of its shipbuilding industry that one in seven inhabitants packed their bags and left, bringing the population as low as 230,000. Malm in the 1990s was a totally depressing place: everybody was miserable, remembers Christer Havung, whose caf, Brd och Vnner, sits next to Ibrahims salon.

    The new arrivals have created an alternative city centre around Mllevng Square, with a busy vegetable market and shops selling Iranian, Iraqi and Lebanese goods. Malm has changed completely, says Jassim Almudafar, an Iraqi who has worked for the last 14 years for Almi, a state-run bank that gives loans to immigrants starting businesses. When I came to Sweden, there was no one who sold falafel, there was only sausage and hamburger. Now you have hardly anyone selling sausages, but maybe 50 or 60 falafel restaurants.

    The statistics are grim, however. The unemployment rate for foreign-born men between 16 and 64 in Malm is 30%, compared with 8% nationally. For foreign-born citizens between 18 and 24 it is 41%. The average annual income in 2014 for citizens born in Iraq was 53,000 kronor (4,000), according to Statistics Sweden, compared with 285,000 kronor (23,000) for those born in Sweden.

    Almudafar is sceptical. Many of those he has backed over the past 14 years have gone from nothing to owning major businesses, he points out. Greg Dingizian, a property developer who is one of Malms richest men, came to Sweden as a child from Baghdad. Officially unemployed people have jobs in the black economy, while many businesses under-report earnings to avoid Swedens punitive taxes.

    Immigrants create growth think how many start businesses, Almudafar stresses. He is particularly bullish on the latest wave of immigrants from Syria. Theyre a little different, he says. They have ambition. After just a few months in Sweden they already want to set something up.

    He has funded more than 50 new Syrian businesses and is in talks to fund hundreds more. There is a woman who wants to set up a factory making Syrian cheeses. There are bakeries, sweet-makers, dentists, IT consultants, building firms, a market gardener who plans to grow Syrian vegetables under glass, even a shop selling ouds, a sort of Arab lute.

    In October, Mohaymen Selim, a 22-year-old Iraqi, launched Hello Shisha, whose delivery vans ferry water pipes packed with fragrant tobacco anywhere in the city. The business, powered by a busy Facebook page and a website blasting out electro house, is booming.

    One of Almudafars clients, Sabah Akkou, who opened Damaskus, a small backstreet restaurant near Mllevng, with her daughter Salma in April, says that Malms restaurant boom is something she has seen before. It was the same thing in Egypt, as soon as the Syrians came there, restaurants and bakeries started opening up everywhere, she laughs. Akkou was a marketing manager for one of the biggest textile companies in Aleppo at the time the war broke out, but left almost everything behind when she fled to Egypt. She got the money to open the restaurant from her son, a research scientist at Mainz University in Germany.

    You will notice that Syrian people are very different from other nationalities, because we like to work, she says. We dont like to take anything from the government.

    A live performance at Nahawand Shisha. Photograph: Malin Palm for the Observer

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    Fitbit accuracy questioned in lawsuit

    (CNN)Your favorite fitness tracker may not be totally accurate, according to a study used in an amended complaint filed Thursday against Fitbit.

    The class-action lawsuit, filed earlier this year, argues that the PurePulse technology used in the Fitbit trackers that measure your heart rate doesn’t do it as well as the company’s marketing material promises, a claim Fitbit denies. The technology is used in the more expensive models of the device, the Surge, Blaze and Charge HR.
      The lawsuit was filed on behalf of people who bought these Fitbits specially to help them track their heart rate, whether for health reasons or to make sure they are getting the most out of their workouts.
      “We are not arguing that it is a medical device. I think that is irrelevant,” said Jonathan Selbin, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit. “This is about the way they market it and that they charge a premium for the heart rate monitor, but it’s not giving a meaningful measurement.”
      People who buy them, though, may have higher expectations.
      Montoye says some people in his campus exercise program have complained that they went to the grocery store but didn’t get credit for their steps because they were pushing a cart. The device relies in part on a change in motion, and for the motion pattern to recognize a step, it must be large enough. Pushing a cart or even walking on a soft surface like a plush carpet may undercount your movement. It can also overcount your steps if you are riding on a bumpy road, according to Fitbit’s website.
      Montoye said for participants who need to track their heart rate he advises using a different device that is more specific.

      See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

      “If they had just been honest,” Selbin said, “and said it can give you a ballpark figure most of the time, or if the marketing emphasized that you can use these when you are aspiring to be healthier, that would have been OK, but that’s not how they market it, and they charge a premium for it.”
      Fitbit was worth more than $8 billion right after it went public in June. The devices are enormously popular, with everyone from President Obama to Britney Spears and Ryan Reynolds spotted wearing them, so the lawsuit is bound to be watched carefully.

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      NFL To Pay Over $700,000 Back To Taxpayers For Sponsored Patriotism

      The NFL is finally giving taxpayers back what’s morally owed to them: Their money.

      On Thursday, ESPN reported that the league agreed to pay $723,734 back to the government for inappropriate instances of “sponsored patriotism” at NFL games.

      The decision comes almost exactly one year after Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake tossed out government skeletons by revealing that the the New Jersey Army National Guard spent $377,500 over three years to recognize military members at New York Jets games. 

      “[The NFL’s refund] was great,” Flake told The Huffington Post on Capitol Hill on Thursday. “They did exactly what they should have done and it was refreshing to see.”

      Up until May 2015, the public was unaware that commonplace patriotic scenes at NFL games like military flag rollouts, national anthem performances and welcome home tributes were actually paid-for marketing efforts on behalf of the Department of Defense for recruiting purposes. 

      By October, Flake was able to get the National Defense Authorization Act passed in Congress, thereby banning professional sports teams and leagues from profiting off of game day military celebrations. The following month, Flake and fellow Arizona Sen. John McCain released a 145-page report revealing that as much as $6.8 million of taxpayer money had been “inappropriately ”paid out to professional sports teams over the past four years

      “Americans deserve the ability to assume that tributes for our men and women in military uniform are genuine displays of national pride, which many are, rather than taxpayer-funded DOD marketing gimmicks,” the report said.

      Mark Zaleski/AP
      You don’t have to pay for this anymore.

      Between 2011 and 2014, NFL teams pocketed a reported $5.4 million. All told, $53 million was spent from 2012 to 2015 on marketing and advertising contracts with 122 professional sports teams, including those in the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS.

      Flake said he had not heard from the other leagues named in the report, but that the NFL had set “a great example of what ought to be done.”

      “In all the years I’ve spent rooting out egregious federal spending, the NFL is the first organization to perform due diligence, take responsibility, and return misspent funds to the taxpayers,” Flake added in a statement released by his office.

      NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responded to the November report by saying that the league would audit its teams’ government contracts and refund any money made inappropriately. Goodell has indeed followed through with that promise, writing in a Wednesday letter to McCain and Flake:

      In assessing whether a payment could be construed as being made for honoring our troops, rather than for recruitment activities, the auditors erred on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion of any payment that might fall into this category.

      Goodell added that the NFL’s government contracts will be included in the league’s regular internal audits moving forward. 

      McCain also applauded the NFL in a statement provided to The Huffington Post, but called upon the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS to do the same due diligence and audit their DOD contracts.

      He added, “We’ll be working to once again include language in the defense authorization bill that would fully ensure the Defense Department never again spends American tax dollars to honor our troops.”

      Laura Barron-Lopez contributed reporting to this story. 

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      Confused about that ‘use by’ date? Congress attempts to standardize food expiration dates

      Sell by? Best by? Use by? When it comes to expiration dates, millions of Americans are confused. Congress wants to do something about it. (iStock)

      That can of soup in your pantry says Best by June 2018. The cereal box on the shelf above it says Use by October 2016. The salsa in your fridge says Sell by June 6, 2016. And the quart of milk next to it simply says May 22, 2016.

      Among the dates found on labels across the U.S. are production or pack dates of manufacture, sell by dates, best if used by dates, use by dates, freeze by dates and even enjoy by dates. 

      And if that isnt confusing enough, all those dates are determined by differing laws in 41 states.

      Its enough to drive a consumer to drink. (Theres good news on that front, though: Whiskey has no expiration date.)

      If youre perplexed by all the date stamps, youre not alone. Two Democrats in Congress Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine are just as confused as you are, and they hope to do something about it before their terms expire. 

      Blumenthal and Pingree are expected to introduce bills in the Senate and House this week to establish a national standard for date labeling that would provide consumers throughout the U.S. with consistent information on when a product begins to lose quality and when it is no longer safe to eat.

      Its an effort designed not only to untax our brains, but to reduce food waste, too.

      A Harvard study, The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America, found that 40 percent 160 billion pounds of food in the U.S. went uneaten every year, while nearly 15 percent of residents struggled to put food on their tables.

      It also found that 91 percent of consumers occasionally throw food away based on the sell by date out of a mistaken concern for food safety even though none of the date labels actually indicate food is unsafe to eat.

      The lack of binding federal standards, and the resultant state and local regulatory variability in date labeling rules, has led to a proliferation of diverse and inconsistent date labeling practices in the food industry, the report found. Open dates can come in a dizzying variety of forms, none of which, except for baby formula, are strictly defined or regulated at the federal level.

      Many products may have a sell by date of, say, April 1, but they could be good in your pantry for another 12 or 18 months, Chris Bernstein of the Department of Agricultures Food Safety and Inspection Service said last year. And by throwing those out, what you’re doing, is you’re contributing to food waste in the United States.

      Last year the Agriculture Department, in conjunction with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute, created a smartphone app for Android and Apple devices designed to help consumers determine proper storing methods for foods. 

      But the app cant address the myriad expiration dates stamped on food packages, which is why Blumenthal and Pingree are submitting their legislation.

      The bill would clearly and accurately indicate to consumers when a food product is no longer at peak quality or safe to eat, Blumenthal said in a statement.

      It would also prohibit wasteful restrictions that currently bar the donation and sale of food past quality dates.  

      A lot of people mistakenly think there is some sort of government standard for best by dates and that you have to throw out food once the date is passed, Pingree said in a news release. The truth is its the manufacturer who comes up with those dates, and much of the time the food is perfectly safe to eat well after the date has passed.

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