The letters are coming home from schools that weigh students as classes begin and then calculate their body mass index.

If the index is above the recommended level, a note goes home to the parents warning them that their children are considered at risk for obesity issues.

Hope Green has two children in school, she told ABC News “the last thing they need is the school to now step in. You’re too skinny, you’re too fat,” she said.

Currently 20 states from Arkansas to California to Illinois take part in the program by sending sealed letters home to parents.

Doctors argue that BMI is the best indicator of a child’s current health based on his/her height, weight and overall body structure.

But parents are afraid the letters will put more pressure on kids, many of which are already preoccupied with their body image.

Statistics say 40% of nine to ten year old girls have already been on a diet, something medical professionals say is unhealthy.

Reports say the children began calling the notes “fat letters” themselves and they have gone out to kids as young as six.

Doctors admit boys have eating disorders but the biggest concern comes from the parents of girls.

Shannon Park has two daughters and she is dead set against the measurements.

 “Their bodies are changing and then they get this number that says, ‘Oh, you know, you’re not the right number.” She finished by saying It’s just a horrible way to start womanhood.”

What do you think? Should schools do BMI measurements on the kids and send them home? 


By Rick Couri


– See more at:

Cisco To Cut 5% of Workforce

New York – United States technology giant Cisco said on Wednesday that it would be forced to cut around 4 000 jobs. The company, which has a huge global presence, said the cuts need to be made because of the slower than expected economic recovery and disappointing conditions in emerging markets.

Chief executive John Chambers (featured in image) reportedly told analysts that while the market in the US is getting better, this is offset by the situation in the emerging markets. He said the company has to respond quickly to rebalance its staff to match growth.

He did however add that some of the retrenched workers will be rehired in other posts.

“I have learned in this industry you lead with your mind, not with your heart,” Chambers was quoted as saying.

Wednesday’s announcement makes this year the 3rd consecutive year that the company has downsized.

Image Source: Wikimedia COmmons

Posted by: Natalie Simon   August 15, 2013 

Johannesburg – Nigeria is fast catching up to South Africa as the most attractive investment destination in Africa, according to a report by Rand Merchant Bank’s “Where to Invest In Africa” guide. According to report South Africa remains number one on the continent, but is 33rd in the overall world rankings and ranked second last, before Russia, among the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations.

Nigeria climbed up from third place in Africa, overtaking Egypt and ranks at number 38 globally. The west African state has climbed 35 places in the past decade on global rankings.

According to the report Nigeria could possibly replace South Africa as top of the investment list in Africa within the next 5 years if the South African economy continues to stagnate. Nigeria’s growth rate forecast stands at 6% to 7% a year for the next 5 years, while South Africa’s is a measly 2% to 3%. Nigeria is also helped by its 162.5 million population, which is triple that of South Africa’s.

This comes after South Africa fell one place from 52nd to 53rd out of 148 on the WEF global competitiveness list, as Mauritius jumped ahead by one.

Labour discord, a failing education system and poor healthcare were all cited for South Africa’s lower ranking.

Source: Posted by: Staff Reporter    Posted date:  September 10, 2013 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, Lagos Island

Acer in major commercial drive

Acer, possibly better known as a vendor of consumer notebooks, tablets and smartphones, is making a major investment in the commercial market.
Speaking at a media and partner event in Amsterdam yesterday, senior corporate vice-president Walter Deppeler pointed out that the PC industry is currently undergoing the biggest transformation in its history.

This change embraces the new devices that are available on the market: from ultrabooks to tablets; coupled with the longer replacement cycles being experienced for commercial desktop and laptop PCs.

“And this increased desktop lifecycle is largely being driven by the new content devices that are on end-users’ buying list,” he says.

Windows 8, which was expected to breathe new life into the PC industry, has also seen a slow start, Deppeler says, and the full benefit of the technology has not yet been seen by the end-user.
“But with the current challenges, there are also opportunities, and the new device iterations give us the possibility to grow our business in the future.”

Deppeler also points to the emerging markets as offering new opportunities for vendors. Moving forward, in a strategy aimed at increasing its penetration into the commercial market, Acer has made investments in a number of areas.

“The most important is the organisation,” Deppeler says. “We have a strong new team in EMEA, with strong leadership on the commercial side. We are establishing strong value creation on a regional basis, and are also looking to ensure brand relevance.”

He tells IT-Online that a key element of the organisational change has been to separate the commercial product development and sales teams from the consumer side of the business. This move, which has taken place over the last few months, has allowed products and go-to-market strategies specifically designed for the commercial market to flourish.

Acer starts with an advantage in terms of brand relevance, since it is a market leader in the consumer mobile market. It also has a broad channel presence, with more than 60 000 outlets in EMEA currently selling Acer products.

“We are planning to improve our point of sales,” Deppeler says. “We are currently shipping massive volumes and we are planning to ship millions more products.”

When it comes to value creation, he says it’s important to strike the right balance between risk and opportunity. To do this, Acer has appointed different types of business managers within its country offices to interact with different market. In addition, the company has been able to increase its average selling price based on the better value that it offers.

“Then, of course, we are also planning effective execution – we need to walk the talk in order to expand the commercial business.”

Deppeler adds that the consumerisation of IT is changing how users want to use technology and, as a result, it’s changing how IT departments need to deploy systems.

While the end-user want attractive products, with great design and new technology – particularly when it comes to mobile devices – IT still needs to consider TCO (total cost of ownership), standards, security and performance.

Acer is coming to the party with products that give the user what he wants while helping IT to address the properly manage enterprise systems.

The company has a full range of end-user products that meet the needs of management users, mobile workers, back office users and specialists; running the gamut from handheld devices right up to desktop PCs and workstations.

“Our strategy for the commercial business is to create value for all of our stakeholder: end-users, channel and key strategic alliance partners,” Deppeler says.

Importantly, he says, Acer is very clear on its go-to-market strategy and has a 100% indirect business model. The new team based across EMEA is tasked with growing the commercial side of the business, he adds, while service remains a core focus.

The initial focus of the commercial business will be in the SMB space and the education market, says Deppeler. He stresses that these two vertical markets are a starting point only, and the company will expand into new verticals in a phased and disciplined way.

Jakob Olsen, vice-president: commercial division at Acer EMEA, explains that Acer has made massive investment into the commercial market, including into products, services and partner networks.

He points out that the company has a strong history in EMEA and is currently the top consumer vendor in the region.

“Importantly, we are strong in execution,” he says. “We have made the investment, and we have the information, so we are well positioned to make a difference in the market.”

Consumerisation, which has been a buzzword for some years now, is already entrenched in some areas of the market and is becoming an issue now in the SMB and consumer space.

BYOD (bring your own device) has also made its way into most organisations, and enterprise IT departments are finding that they have to deal with myriad devices whether they are prepared for them or not.

“Cloud is another buzzword – but it’s real,” he says. “Users are now able to access information wherever they are.”

These are the trends that Acer has to address in order to make a difference in the commercial market, Olsen says. “We come from a position of strength in the consumer market, so this is our time; our chance to take consumerisation into the B2B market. Few companies are better positioned to be able to do this.”

Acer not only offers a full product line-up for the commercial market, it is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to guaranteeing the quality and reliability that business users demand.

“Customers want to know if our TravelMate devices are reliable, and if they can trust Acer,” Olsen says. “The answer is, yes you can – and if we let you down we will pay you. If your TravelMate breaks down within the first year, we will fix it and we will give you half of your money back.

“That’s a strong message that we are sending to the market.”

The fact that the B2B product portfolio covers a range of areas – servers and storage; desktops; workstations; notebooks; tablets; smartphones; monitors; projectors; and thin clients – means there are few companies that can match Acer’s solution line-up, he adds.

By Kathy Gibson
Article reprinted courtesy of IT-Online. Visit for more.

UK dealer group Superstat has launched an initiative aimed at promoting the growth of independent dealers.

Called Cadabra, the concept sees Superstat handling dealers’ back-office functions, including order processing, invoicing, sales and purchase ledgers, marketing, lead generation, online ordering and customer service.

The initiative has been set up in partnership with Spicers as part of a five-year supply agreement in what Superstat is calling “an unprecedented collaboration” between a wholesaler and a dealer group.

OPI spoke to Superstat Managing Director Chris Collinson, who declined to reveal commercial details of the agreement with Spicers, although he did confirm that the wholesaler does not have a shareholding in Cadabra.

The word ‘nectere’ springs to mind with this type of initiative aimed at taking administrative costs out of a dealer’s business, allowing the dealer to focus on the selling process, although Collinson suggested – and Spicers’ CEO Alan Ball alluded to in a press release – that the main difference was that Cadabra was not aimed at ‘failing dealers’. Speaking to OPI, nectere Managing Director Paul Musgrove laughed off this suggestion and pointed to new nectere partners that have joined the group in order to drive acquisitions.

By Andy Braithwaite

Read more on this initiative in the October issue of OPI magazine.


– See more at:

In what it calls a ‘remarkable achievement’, the European Recovered Paper Council (ERPC) has revealed that Europe hit a paper recycling rate of 71.7% in 2012.

The organisation’s latest monitoring report showed that paper consumption in Europe is now down to 1998 levels – a drop of 13% – with recycled amounts of paper being 1.5 times higher than in that year.

The ERPC report also recorded that paper fibre  in Europe is recycled 3.5 times a year compared to the global average of 2.4 times.

Furthermore, the number of European countries with a recycling rate below 60% has decreased while there are 13 established countries where paper recycling rates exceed 70%.

ERPC secretary Jori Ringman-Beck said: “The figures in the report prove that paper recycling is truly an industry made in Europe.”



Another corporate giant is following the traditional post-crisis playbook. German conglomerate Siemens is planning to cut 15,000 jobs, according to Bloomberg. This is nearly double the company’s original target for layoffs, first announced last year as part of a broad cost-cutting exercise to put the venerable engineering group back on track after a series of missteps.

It’s no coincidence that the cuts come shortly after the arrival of Siemens’s new chief executive, Joe Kaeser, who took over in August after a long stint as the company’s chief financial officer. The previous CEO, Peter Löscher, was ousted after a rocky tenure that ended when a string of profit warnings angered investors and forced the board to act. The shares of the bellwether German industrial group have lagged the market for some time.


Promoting the chief financial officer to a company’s highest office is a tried and trusted move when the chips are down. The former finance chief, a Siemens lifer with 33 years of service at the group, is the quintessential safe pair of hands. Shortly after his appointment, an asset manager who owns Siemens shares told Bloombergas much: “I want less vision and more concentration on profit. Kaeser is a numbers man, which is a positive.”

The surprisingly large job cuts—a third of which will come in Germany, according to reports—are the upshot of putting a “numbers man” in charge. A streamlined management structure is another hallmark of an efficiency-seeking boss. Siemens’ shares have outperformed the German market since Kaeser was promoted from CFO.

For the new CEO, the challenge will be to develop a long-term vision for the company that goes beyond simply wielding a hatchet, even if that is what’s needed right now. Some aggressive financial engineering may steady the ship, but new ideas will be needed to propel it forward. In a recent interview, Kaeser admitted that Siemens “woefully underestimated the internet,” so that seems a good place to start.

From the back office to the front lines

Around a quarter of CEOs at large listed companies have CFO experience, according to recruiter Crist/Kolder. The share of former finance chiefs now running firms has risen, predictably, since the financial crisis put cost-cutting and cash preservation front of mind for directors. Some are promoted to CEO from CFO to lead a major restructuring, as was the case when Marcel Smits took over at Sara Lee, split the company in two, and sold off the parts. Others find it difficult to make the transition to the top job, such as Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo at Nokia, which lost ground to rivals on his watch. More positive examples include Paul Polman at Unilever andIndra Nooyi at PepsiCo, both of whom are lauded for striking a balance between long-term vision and short-term results.

It is never easy to cut jobs—much less 15,000 of them—but in some ways these things come naturally to a hardnosed CFO. Although Siemens shareholders may applaud the sprawling conglomerate’s newfound focus on efficiency, until Kaeser presents a path to profit beyond slashing costs, the optimism may prove short-lived.


By Jason Karaian @jkaraian September 30, 2013


City of Hope honours ACCO’s Keller

The US office products industry gathered in Chicago last night as ACCO Chairman Bob Keller collected the City of Hope’s 2013 Spirit of Life award.

Keller has been leading the office products industry’s fundraising efforts for City of Hope, helping to raise an amazing $11.7 million – a record – for the California-based clinic and medical research institute, a figure which included almost $500,000 from an ACCO Brands-sponsored golf outing held in August.

2013 is a special year as it marks the 100th anniversary of City of Hope, and this year’s Spirit of Life fundraising campaign has been called ‘A Century of Hope’. Last night’s Gala at Navy Pier included a number of former Spirit of Life honourees and ended with a spectacular fireworks display to mark the centenary.

During the evening, City of Hope also recognised the contributions and dedication of Nancy Doyle who is retiring this year. Doyle has been with City of Hope for over 20 years and was instrumental in expanding the institute’s collaboration with the office products industry in the 1990s.

Next year’s honouree will be the President of Office Depot’s International division, Steve Schmidt, and City of Hope has recently confirmed that the 2015 honouree will be Steve Sakumoto, VP/General Manager of US Supplies Sales at Hewlett-Packard.

The date and venue of the 2014 Spirit of Life Gala dinner will be confirmed shortly.

By Andy Braithwaite

New York—Seventy-four percent of responding business professionals reached by b-to-b media and live events are involved in purchasing decisions or supplier selections, according to American Business Media’s “Value of B-to-B” report, released Wednesday.

Of those, 87% use industry-related websites when researching such decisions; 65% use print magazines; 58% use industry conferences and trade shows; and 55% use e-newsletters.

The study also found that 74% of respondents used both digital and traditional media to learn best practices and gain information for their work, and 68% spend more time with industry-related print publications than with mainstream business or consumer publications.

Almost half of marketers surveyed expected to increase b-to-b advertising budgets over the next 12 months: 45% said budgets will increase somewhat while 3% said they will increase considerably.

The “Value of B-to-B” report was based on 6,682 responses from business professionals, 74 marketers and 111 business publishers. Three separate online surveys were conducted by Readex Research during March and April. The full report, with 30 pages of analysis and 380 pages of tabulated results, is now available for download at ABM’s website (

Originally posted on: 8/1/13


American Business Media


The Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAGCC) conducted a 

survey of European enterprises in South Africa in the period February-June 2013. The 

survey includes member companies and other enterprises active in the South African 

market. The following participated in the survey:

 Austria : 13 companies,

 Denmark : 6 companies,

 Finland : 3 companies,

 France : 22 companies,

 Germany : 95 companies,

 Italy : 9 companies,

 Netherlands : 15 companies and

 Sweden : 1 company.

The total number of completed and returned surveys stands at 163. The below mentioned 

results refer to previous surveys, predominantly among members of the SAGCC, conducted 

biannually since 1993.

 The perception of the current economic climate has declined from +31 points in 2010 


-35 points in 2013. About twice as many companies regard the climate as “bad” when 

compared to the previous survey. This has constrained decisions on new investments 

and job creations.

 The general political and economic climate is regarded as “continuously bad” or even 


 Concerns about Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment have increased since 

2010. More than 60% of the respondents view B-BBEE as a costly exercise with no 

tangible benefits for their day-to-day businesses. 

 Respondents underline the lack of competence of the civil service (78% of negative 

opinions) and about the excessively high level of corruption (seen by 87% as 

“pessimistic” or “very pessimistic”).

 Violence and crime, labour conditions, productivity levels and electricity prices have also 

been growingly affecting the investment and business climates lately.

The SAGCC Index is an important tool in the analysis and portrayal of the current economic 

situation, and is interpreted in a manner similar to the “IFO Business Climate Index”. 

Based on the current trend, the SAGCC index will soon reach the level of 1998 (-57, data of 

members of the SAGCC only), its lowest point in 14 years. 

It must be noted that the survey did not take place under any specific political or economic 

circumstances, which could have influenced the results

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