- Created on 30 August 2013
BANGKOK (AP) — A leading human rights group has called on Dunkin' Donuts to withdraw a "bizarre and racist" advertisement for chocolate doughnuts in Thailand that shows a smiling woman with bright pink lips in blackface makeup.
The Dunkin' Donuts franchise in Thailand launched a campaign earlier this month for its new "Charcoal Donut" featuring the image, which is reminiscent of 19th and early 20th century American stereotypes for black people that are now considered offensive symbols of a racist era.
In posters and TV commercials, the campaign shows the woman with a shiny jet black, 1950s-style beehive hairdo holding a bitten black doughnut alongside the slogan: "Break every rule of deliciousness."
Human Rights Watch said it was shocked to see an American brand name running an advertising campaign that would draw "howls of outrage" if released in the United States.
"It's both bizarre and racist that Dunkin' Donuts thinks that it must color a woman's skin black and accentuate her lips with bright pink lipstick to sell a chocolate doughnut," said Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch. "Dunkin' Donuts should immediately withdraw this ad, publicly apologize to those it's offended and ensure this never happens again."
The campaign hasn't ruffled many in Thailand, where it's common for advertisements to inexplicably use racial stereotypes. A Thai brand of household mops and dustpans called "Black Man" uses a logo with a smiling black man in a tuxedo and bow tie. One Thai skin whitening cream runs TV commercials that say white-skinned people have better job prospects than those with dark skin. An herbal Thai toothpaste says its dark-colored product "is black, but it's good."
The CEO for Dunkin' Donuts in Thailand dismissed the criticism as "paranoid American thinking."
"It's absolutely ridiculous," said CEO Nadim Salhani. "We're not allowed to use black to promote our doughnuts? I don't get it. What's the big fuss? What if the product was white and I painted someone white, would that be racist?"
Salhani said that the Thai franchise of Dunkin' Donuts operates independently of the American operation and that doughnut sales have increased about 50 percent since the campaign was launched around two weeks ago, which he attributed to curiosity about the new advertisements.
"Not everybody in the world is paranoid about racism," said Salhani, a Lebanese expatriate in Thailand who said his teenage daughter was the model featured in the campaign. "I'm sorry, but this is a marketing campaign, and it's working very well for us."
- Created on 29 August 2013
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
No more health benefits for spouses. Higher deductibles for employees. More cost-sharing.
Employers are citing increased costs imposed by the Affordable Care Act -- as Obamacare is formally known -- as part of the reason they are pulling back on benefits.
President Obama said this spring that little will change for the 85% to 90% of Americans who already have coverage, only that "their insurance is stronger, better, more secure than it was before."
But that's actually not the case at a growing number of companies.
United Parcel Service (UPS, Fortune 500), for instance, recently told employees that health reform is contributing a 4% increase to the cost of coverage for 2014, while health care inflation adds another 7.25%. And Delta Air Lines (DAL, Fortune 500) said that Obamacare and inflation would increase costs by $100 million, though it only identifies $38 million as due to health reform.
The University of Virginia, meanwhile, said it will have to pay more than $7 million in Obamacare fees and taxes in 2014, which would result in a "double digit premium increase" if it didn't implement savings measures.
As a result, UPS and UVa said they are dropping coverage for employees' spouses that have access to benefits elsewhere. Delta said in a letter to administration officials that it will have to pass along some of the rising costs to its employees.
While there's no doubt Obamacare comes with increased costs for employers, health reform can only be blamed for a piece of the price hike, experts say.
"An increase in costs of a few percent isn't enough to cause widespread changes in benefits," said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Here are the major Obamacare fees and taxes that employers say will raise their costs:
Transitional reinsurance fee: This fee will be imposed on employers for the next three years and will go towards helping the state-based insurance exchanges, where individuals can find coverage, pay for large claims. The fee will be $63 per insured member in 2014, but is expected to decrease in the latter two years. Delta said this fee will cost it more than $10 million next year.
Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute fee: This charge will go to pay for a new agency tasked with giving patients a better understanding of the prevention, treatment and care options available, and the science that supports those options. Employers will be charged $1 per insured person this year, $2 in 2014 and then increases with inflation in health care spending for the next five years.
Health insurer fee: This annual fee is aimed at helping pay for the implementation of ACA. It will be about 2.5% of total premiums in 2014 and is expected to go up to 4% by 2017. Beyond that, it will rise with the growth in premiums. Insurers are expected to pass this fee through to employers.
'Cadillac' tax: Starting in 2018, employers who offer rich benefit plans -- where the total premium will cost more than $10,200 for an individual plan or $27,500 for family coverage -- will have to pay the so-called Cadillac tax, a 40% tax on the amount over the threshold. This tax is prompting companies to shift more medical expenses onto employees, which not only brings down the price of the premiums, but also pushes employees and their spouses to consider other options available to them, said Sandy Ageloff, senior consultant with Towers Watson, a professional services firm.
Individual mandate: Also adding to employer costs is the Obamacare requirement that Americans obtain insurance or face a penalty starting in 2014. That will prompt many employees who had opted out of their company's coverage to sign up. Delta, for instance, estimates this will add $14 million to its costs annually.
All these provisions are certainly pushing up health insurance costs for employers, but experts point out that companies have been shifting more of the burden to workers for years. For instance, some 4% of companies already exclude spouses and another 20% impose a surcharge to insure spouses if they have coverage elsewhere, according to Towers Watson.
Next year, even more companies will take this step. Another 8% of employers plan to exclude spouses and 13% impose surcharges, a Towers Watson survey showed.
"The ACA is definitely escalating the pace of change," Ageloff said.
- Created on 27 August 2013
If you're worried you won't have enough cash saved up before the imminent release of the iPhone 5S, you're in luck. Apple is reportedly introducing a trade-in program ahead of the next iPhone's release, which would get your old iPhone off your hands and take a few bucks off the new one.
The trade-in program is already being tested out in some Apple stores, TechCrunch reports. You'll likely be able to get $120 to $200 for 16GB iPhone 4 and 4S models, and around $250 for a 16GB iPho