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After an international tribunal invalidated Beijing's claims to the South China Sea, Chinese authorities have declared in no uncertain terms that they will be ignoring the ruling.

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The unassuming hero of Jonas Karlsson's clever, Kafkaesque parable is the opposite of a malcontent. Despite scant education, a limited social life, and no prospects for success as it is usually defined, he's that rarity, a most happy fella with an amazing ability to content himself with very little. But one day, returning to his barebones flat from his dead-end, part-time job at a video store, he finds an astronomical bill from an entity called W.R.D. He assumes it's a scam. Actually, it is more sinister-- and it forces him to take a good hard look at his life and values.

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The season for blueberries used to be short. You'd find fresh berries in the store just during a couple of months in the middle of summer.

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Sears, Kmart Closings Will Shutter 3 Percent Of Company's Stores

Dec 27, 2011
Originally published on December 27, 2011 10:09 am

As you know, numbers can often be looked at several ways.

There's the headline that "dozens of Kmart, Sears stores to close" and the topline news that "between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores" are going to be shut down as the retailer looks to trim costs and move ahead after it endured a pretty poor holiday shopping season.

That's a lot of stores, obviously.

Buried further down in the stories, though, is the note that Sears Holdings Corp., parent of Kmart and Sears, Roebuck, has "4,000 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada."

Do the math and it seems that 120 is about 3 percent of 4,000. Judge for yourself whether that's a major part of its business.

According to Sears Holdings, its "comparable store sales" for the eight weeks ended Dec. 25 were down 5.2 percent overall — 4.4 percent at Kmart stores and 6 percent at Sears. It says that:

"Kmart's quarter-to-date comparable store sales decline reflects decreases in the consumer electronics and apparel categories and lower layaway sales. Sears Domestic's quarter-to-date sales decline was primarily driven by the consumer electronics and home appliance categories, with more than half of the decline in Sears Domestic occurring in consumer electronics. Sears apparel sales were flat and Lands' End in Sears stores was up mid-single digits."

Closing the stores, according to the company, will "generate $140 to $170 million of cash as the net inventory in these stores is sold and we expect to generate additional cash proceeds from the sale or sublease of the related real estate."

There's no word yet on which stores the company will close. It says it will post the news here at some point.

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