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Experts: African Fishing Communities Face ‘Extinction’ as Blue Economy Grows

Fishing communities along Africa’s coastline are at a greater risk of extinction as countries eye oceans for tourism, industrial fishing and exploration revenue to jumpstart their “blue economies,” U.N. experts and activists said on Monday.

The continent’s 38 coastal and island states have in recent years moved to tap ocean resources through commercial fishing, marine tourism and sea-bed mining, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

“There is a great risk and a great danger that those communities will be marginalized,” said Joseph Zelasney, a fishery officer at U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“The resources that they depend on will be decimated,” he added at a side event at the Blue Economy Conference organized by Kenya, Canada and Japan in Nairobi.

The world’s poorest continent hosts a blue economy estimated at $1 trillion but loses $42 billion a year to illegal fishing and logging of mangroves along the coast, according to UNECA estimates.

Seismic waves generated by prospectors to search for minerals, oil and gases along the ocean floor have scared away fish stocks, said Dawda Saine of the Confederation of African Artisanal Fishing in Gambia.

“Noise and vibration drives fishes away, which means they (fishermen) have to go further to fish,” Saine said.

Pollution from a vibrant tourism sector and foreign trawlers have reduced stocks along the Indian Ocean, Salim Mohamed, a fisherman from Malindi in Kenya, said.

“We suffer as artisanal fishers but all local regulation just look at us as the polluter and doesn’t go beyond that,” he said.

The continent’s fish stocks are also being depleted by industrial trawlers which comb the oceans to feed European and Asian markets, experts say, posing a threat to livelihoods and food security for communities living along the coast.

Growth of blue economies in Africa could also take away common rights to land and water along the coastline and transfer them to corporations and a few individuals, said Andre Standing, advisor with the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements.

Most of the land and beaches along Africa’s thousands of miles of coastline is untitled, making it a good target for illegal acquisition, activists said.

“There is a great worry that we could see privatization of areas that were previously open to these communities,” Standing told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We need to have a radical vision that values communities and livelihoods or they will become extinct.”

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Traditional Fisherman, Fish Shops Struggle on Kenyan Coast

Marine fisheries are one of the few economic activities present everywhere along the Kenyan coast – mostly using artisanal fishing methods in which non-motorized boats stay close to shore. In the coastal town of Malindi, thousands of households that depend on the fisheries resources face uncertainty over the sustainability of the industry. Rael Ombuor reports from Malindi.

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Apple to Tutor Women in Tech in Bid to Diversify Industry

Apple is launching a new program designed to address the technology industry’s scarcity of women in executive and computer programming jobs.


Under the initiative announced Monday, female entrepreneurs and programmers will attend two-week tutorial sessions at the company’s Cupertino, California, headquarters.


The camps will be held every three months beginning in January. For each round, Apple will accept up to 20 app makers founded or led by a woman. The app maker must have at least one female programmer in its ranks to qualify. Apple will cover travel expenses for up to three workers from each accepted company.

Like other major tech companies, Apple has been trying to lessen its dependence on men in high-paying programming jobs. Women filled just 23 percent of Apple’s technology jobs in 2017, according to the company’s latest breakdown. That’s only a slight improvement from 20 percent in 2014, despite the company’s pledge to diversify its workforce.


The idea behind the new camp is to keep women interested and immersed in the field, said Esther Hare, Apple’s senior director of world developer marketing.


It’s not clear how much of a dent Apple’s new program will have. Google also offers training for girls and women pursuing careers in technology, but its program hasn’t done much to diversify the workforce so far. Women were hired for nearly 25 percent of Google’s technology jobs in 2017, up from nearly 21 percent in 2014, according to the company.

Apple and other technology companies maintain that one of the main reasons so many men are on their payrolls is because women traditionally haven’t specialized in the mathematical and science curriculum needed to program.


But industry critics have accused the technology companies of discriminating again women through a male-dominated hierarchy that has ruled the industry for decades.


Apple isn’t saying how much it is spending on the initiative, though beyond travel expenses, the company will be relying on its current employees to lead the sessions.

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On Cyber Monday, Pope Urges Generosity, not Consumerism

Pope Francis says the “sickness of consumerism” is the enemy of generosity as he called for the faithful to give a little something to the poor.


Francis made the comments during his morning homily Monday, so-called Cyber Monday when online retailers woo shoppers with bargains ahead of Christmas.


Francis made no mention of Christmas shopping — in Italy, the official season begins Dec. 8 — but his plea for generosity will likely be repeated in coming weeks.


Francis said giving away clothes, shoes or groceries can help the poor: “How many pairs of shoes do I have? One, two, three, four, 15, 20? … If you have so many, give away half.”


He said: “We can make miracles with generosity of little things.”



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Macron Feels Diesel Tax Anger After Paris ‘Battle Scenes’

French President Emmanuel Macron, caught off guard by violent demonstrations against diesel tax hikes, warned his cabinet on Monday that the protests could tarnish France’s image and said the government needed to listen to voter anger.

The 10 days of unrest, which on Saturday left some Parisian boulevards transformed into battlefields, hit Macron as he sought to counter a sharp decline in popularity, and have again exposed him to charges of being out of touch with voters.

He has shown no sign, however, of reversing the diesel tax hikes, which he says are needed to help spur a switch to greener energy, though he is now indicating a willingness to soften the blow for motorists on modest incomes.

Police on Saturday fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets at thousands of protesters who trashed restaurants and shop-fronts and set wheelie bins ablaze on Paris’ upmarket Champs-Elysees boulevard, a tourist magnet.

“We shouldn’t underestimate the impact of these images of the Champs-Elysees […] with battle scenes that were broadcast by the media in France and abroad,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said.

After meeting with business associations, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the protests would have a “severe impact” on the economy, though it was too soon to say what the effect on fourth-quarter growth would be.

Now in their second week, the “yellow vest” protests have blocked roads across the country, impeding access to fuel depots, out-of-town shopping malls and factories.

“Behind this anger there is obviously something deeper that we must respond to, because this anger, these anxieties have existed for a long time,” Griveaux said.

Protesters will be looking for concrete answers from Macron when he unveils a new longterm energy strategy on Tuesday.

Green credentials

Macron has stepped up his defense of the diesel tax, aware that the French treasury is hungry for the revenues the levy generates and that unwinding the tax would damage his green credentials.

He has earmarked 500 million euros to help poorer citizens buy less-polluting vehicles, seeking to answer criticism that his reforms have eaten into household spending.

The weekend’s violence also exposed tensions within the amorphous “yellow vests” movement, so-called because the protesters don the high-vis jackets which all motorists in France must carry in their vehicles.

They strove to maintain a united front on Monday, forming a committee tasked with securing a meeting with the president and Griveaux said that would happen if they came forward with concrete proposals.

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Canada Blindsided by GM Oshawa Closure, Workers Walk Out in Protest

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday expressed his”deep disappointment” in General Motors Co’s decision to close its Oshawa plant, a move Canadian officials only learned about on Sunday and which led workers to walk off the job on Monday.

Canadian officials promised to aid auto workers affected by the 2019 closure, part of a wider restructuring by the automaker that will cut production of slow-selling models and slash its North American workforce.

GM said the closure affects a total of 2,973 assembly line jobs. GM’s total employment in Canada is 8,150 direct jobs.

“I spoke with GM (CEO) Mary Barra to express my deep disappointment in the closure,” Trudeau tweeted on Monday.

“We’ll do everything we can to help the families affected by this news get back on their feet.”

Ontario, home to the Oshawa plant, was told by the automaker that there was nothing it could do to prevent it, premier Doug Ford said. Oshawa is about 37 miles (60 km) east of Toronto.

“The first thing I said is, ‘What can we do? What do we have to do?'” said Ford, referring to a Sunday night call with GM Canada’s President Travis Hester. “He said the ship has already left the dock.”

Ford later added: “We’re disappointed in GM. We supported GM years ago when they were in trouble.”

The Canadian and Ontario governments joined the United States in supporting GM with billions of dollars in aid after the automaker filed for bankruptcy protection during the severe 2009 global economic downturn.

Canada and Ontario also backed a 2005 investment by GM to modernize the Oshawa plant’s paint shop.

Canadian Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said that GM “only made this official announcement to us yesterday.”

A former Canadian auto executive said it would be difficult for Canadian government officials to entice GM further to keep the plant open.

“The government has done everything they could to keep them afloat.

bviously incentives by themselves don’t keep a car plant open,” said the executive, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “It’s all about getting a product mandate,” or a commitment to produce a specific vehicle.

Workers in the Unifor trade union walked out of the Oshawa plant “in protest,” ahead of a meeting with GM about the announcement, a union spokeswoman said.

“I’ve moved my family twice for this company and they do this to me,” a tearful worker told CBC TV as he left the plant.

Under Unifor’s four-year contract signed in 2016, GM must give the union a year’s notice before closing the plant. The automaker intends to close the plant in December, 2019.

A 2015 study commissioned by Unifor, which represents GM employees, estimated that shutting the plant would eliminate 4,100 direct jobs and reduce Ontario’s gross domestic product by C$1.1 billion.

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British Lawmakers Warn They Will Vote Against Brexit Deal

It took Britain’s Theresa May and 27 other European Union leaders just 40 minutes to sign the Brexit deal after two years of tortuous negotiations, but the trials and tribulations of Britain’s withdrawal agreement approved Sunday in Brussels are far from over.

As they endorsed the 585-page the agreement, and a 26-page accompanying political declaration that sets out the parameters of negotiating a possible free trade deal between Britain and the European Union, powerful political foes in London plotted strategies to undo it.

There is little evidence Britain’s embattled prime minister will have sufficient support to win legislative endorsement of the deal in a House of Commons vote next month. That was clearly on the minds of European Commission officials Sunday as EU leaders gave their backing to the terms of Britain’s split from Brussels after 44 years of membership.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that Britain cannot expect to get a better deal, if its parliament rejects the agreement. “Now it is time for everybody to take their responsibilities, everybody,” he said.

“This is the deal, it’s the best deal possible and the EU will not change its fundamental position when it comes to this issue, so I do think the British parliament — because this is a wise parliament — will ratify this deal,” he added.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned British lawmakers that no better deal was on offer from the European Union, urging them to back the agreements.

“If I would live in the UK I would say yes to this, I would say that this is very much acceptable to the United Kingdom,” Rutte said, because the deal “limited the impact of Brexit while balancing the vote to leave”. In a bid to help the prime minister, he said May had “fought very hard” and now there was “an acceptable deal on the table”.

“You know I hate [Brexit], but it is a given,” he told reporters. “No one is a victor here today, nobody is winning, we are all losing.”

Opposition in Britain

Maybe it is a “given” in Brussels, but in Britain that is another matter altogether.

Both Remainers and Leavers in the British Parliament are warning that May doesn’t have the necessary support with the all the opposition parties lined up against the deal and as many as 100 lawmakers, Remainers and Leavers among them, from May’s ruling Conservatives pledging to vote against it as well.

Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative leader, said he would continue to oppose the deal because it “cedes huge amounts of power” to the European Union.

In Scotland, first minister and leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party Nicola Sturgeon said, “This is a bad deal, driven by the PM’s self defeating red lines and continual pandering to the right of her own party. Parliament should reject it and back a better alternative.”

She wants a second Britain-wide referendum, like a majority of Britons, according to recent opinion polls.

The agreement calls for Britain to stay in the bloc’s customs union and largely in the EU single market, without the power to influence the rules, regulations and laws it will be obliged to obey for a 21-month-long transition period following formal withdrawal on March 29. The deal would allow an extension of “up to one or two years” should the negotiations over “the future relationship” not be completed by the end of 2020.

May is campaigning to sell the agreement to the British public, hoping she she can build enough support in the wider country to pressure the House of Commons to endorse the deal. European Parliament approval is almost certain.

May’s warning

In an open letter to the British public published Sunday, May promised to campaign “with my heart and soul to win that vote and to deliver this Brexit deal.” If she is unable to do so, Britain would be plunged into what May herself has called, “deep and grave uncertainty.”

Her aides say she is banking on the “fear factor,” daring the House of Commons to vote down a deal which if rejected would leave Britain most likely crashing out of the bloc, its largest trading partner, without any agreements, which would be costly economically and would almost certainly push the country into recession.

Ominously, the Northern Ireland party, the Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 lawmakers May’s minority government relies on to remain in power, says it will vote against the deal. And DUP leader Arlene Foster warned Sunday she is ready to collapse the government to block a deal that would see Northern Ireland treated differently than the rest of Britain.

And a senior Labour lawmaker Tony Lloyd said there was a “coalition of the willing” in the Parliament ready to reject May’s deal and support a softer Brexit. So, if the deal is voted down, what then? A vote against could trigger a general election, a second Brexit referendum or even more negotiations, despite Brussels’ threat there can be no other deal.


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S&P 500 Slides Into ‘Correction’ for Second Time This Year 

U.S. stocks closed lower after a shortened session Friday, bumping the benchmark S&P 500 index into a correction, or drop of 10 percent below its most recent all-time high in September. 


Energy companies led the market slide as the price of U.S. crude oil tumbled to its lowest level in more than a year, reflecting worries among traders that a slowing global economy could hurt demand for oil. 


“Oil is really falling sharply, continuing its downward descent, and that appears to be giving investors a lot of concern that there’s slowing global growth,” said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment director at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management. “You have that, and then you have the recent sell-off in tech and in retail, and then throw on there trade tensions and rising rates.” 


Losses in technology and internet companies and banks outweighed gains in health care and household goods stocks. Several big retailers declined as investors monitored Black Friday for signs of a strong holiday shopping season. 


Trading volume was lighter than usual, with the markets open for only a half day after the Thanksgiving holiday. 


The S&P 500 index fell 17.37 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,632.56. The index is now down 10.2 percent from its last all-time high set Sept. 20. The last time the index entered a correction was in February. 


The latest correction came as investors worry that corporate profits, a key driver of stock market gains, could weaken next year. 


“The market is repricing and trying to assess where we’re going to be in the early part of 2019,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. 


The Dow Jones industrial average lost 178.74 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,285.95. The Nasdaq composite dropped 33.27 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,938.98. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks picked up 0.40 point, or 0.03 percent, to 1,488.68. 


Crude oil prices fell for the seventh straight week on worries that a slowing global economy could hurt demand, even as oil production has been increasing.  

The benchmark U.S. crude contract slid 7.7 percent to settle at $50.42 per barrel in New York. That is the lowest since October 2017. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 6.1 percent to close at $58.80 per barrel in London. 


Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members have recently signaled a willingness to consider production cuts at the oil cartel’s meeting next month. Such cuts would prop up oil prices. The U.S. has been increasing pressure on Saudi Arabia and OPEC to not cut production. 


The slide in oil prices weighed on energy stocks. Concho Resources, a developer and explorer of oil and natural gas properties, slumped 6.3 percent to $126.96. 


Tesla fell 3.7 percent to $325.83 after the electric auto maker said it intends to cut prices for its Model X and Model S cars in China to make them more affordable. 


Traders had their eye on retailers as Black Friday, the traditional start to the crucial holiday shopping season, began. Shares in L Brands, operator of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, added 2 percent to $29.97. Other retailers put investors in a selling mood. Kohl’s fell 3.7 percent to $63.83, while Target lost 2.8 percent to $67.35. Macy’s dropped 1.8 percent to $32.01. 


Rockwell Collins climbed 9.2 percent to $141.63 after Chinese regulators conditionally approved the sale of the maker of communications and aviation electronics systems to United Technologies Corp. 


Investors will be watching next week when Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump meet at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina for signs that the two leaders can find common ground to begin unwinding the spiraling trade dispute. 


The dispute between the U.S. and China has weighed on the market, stoking traders’ worries that billions in escalating tariffs imposed by both countries on each other’s goods will hurt corporate earnings at a time when the global economy appears to be slowing.  

“If you can get President Trump and President Xi to even just come closer with their rhetoric and make a bit of progress on the trade front, that could be the catalyst for markets to move higher,” Kravetz said. 


It may take more than a meeting to work out deep-seated issues between Washington and Beijing, which resumed talks over their trade dispute earlier this month. According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. has asked its allies to stop using telecommunications equipment from Huawei, which is Chinese-owned. The report cited people familiar with the matter. 


Bond prices fell Friday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.05 percent from 3.04 percent late Wednesday. 


The dollar fell to 112.88 yen from 112.97 yen late Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.1330 from $1.1406. The pound eased to $1.2810 from $1.2876. 


Gold declined 0.4 percent to $1,223.20 an ounce. Silver dropped 1.8 percent to $14.24 an ounce. Copper slid 1 percent to $2.77 a pound. 


In other commodities trading, wholesale gasoline plunged 7.9 percent to $1.39 a gallon. Heating oil lost 4.8 percent to $1.88 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3.2 percent to $4.31 per 1,000 cubic feet. 


Major indexes in Europe finished mostly higher after shaking off an early slide. 


Traders were weighing the latest developments in the negotiations for Britain’s exit from the European Union. Both sides were finalizing the terms of the divorce Friday and expected to sign off on the deal Sunday, though it’s unclear whether the British Parliament will pass the deal. 


The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares slipped 0.1 percent. Germany’s DAX index rose 0.5 percent, while France’s CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent. 


Earlier in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.6 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.4 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 bucked the trend, gaining 0.4 percent. Shares fell in Taiwan and rose in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday. 

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In Era of Online Retail, Black Friday Still Lures a Crowd   

It would have been easy to turn on their computers at home over plates of leftover turkey and take advantage of the Black Friday deals most retailers now offer online.  


But across the country, thousands of shoppers flocked to stores on Thanksgiving or woke up before dawn the next day to take part in this most famous ritual of American consumerism. 


Shoppers spent their holiday lined up outside the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., by 4 p.m., and the crowd had swelled to 3,000 people by the time doors opened an hour later. In Ohio, a group of very determined women booked a hotel room Thursday night to be closer to the stores. In New York City, one woman went straight from a dance club to a department store in the middle of the night.  


Many shoppers said Black Friday is as much about the spectacle as it is about doorbuster deals.  


Kati Anderson said she stopped at Cumberland Mall in Atlanta on Friday morning for discounted clothes as well as “the people watching.” Her friend, Katie Nasworthy, said she went to the mall instead of shopping online because she likes to see the Christmas decorations. 


“It doesn’t really feel like Christmas until now,” said Kim Bryant, shopping in suburban Denver with her daughter and her daughter’s friend, who had lined up at 5:40 a.m., then sprinted inside when the doors opened at 6 a.m.  


Brick-and-mortar stores have worked hard to prove they can counter the competition from online behemoth Amazon. From Macy’s to Target and Walmart, retailers are blending their online and store shopping experience with new tools like digital maps on smartphones and more options for shoppers to buy online and pick up at stores. And customers, frustrated with long checkout lines, can check out at Walmart and other stores with a salesperson in store aisles.  


Consumers nearly doubled their online orders that they picked up at stores from Wednesday to Thanksgiving, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks online spending. 


Priscilla Page, 28, punched her order number into a kiosk near the entrance of a Walmart in Louisville, Ky. She found a good deal online for a gift for her boyfriend, then arrived at the store to retrieve it.  


“I’ve never Black Friday-shopped before,” she said, as employees delivered her bag minutes later. “I’m not the most patient person ever. Crowds, lines, waiting, it’s not really my thing. This was a lot easier.” 


The holiday shopping season presents a big test for a U.S. economy, whose overall growth so far this year has relied on a burst of consumer spending. Americans upped their spending during the first half of 2018 at the strongest pace in four years, yet retail sales gains have tapered off recently. The sales totals over the next month will be a good indicator of whether consumers simply paused to catch their breath or feel less optimistic about the economy in 2019. 

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, is expecting holiday retail sales to increase as much as 4.8 percent over 2017 for a total of $720.89 billion. The sales growth would be a slowdown from last year’s 5.3 percent but yet remain healthy.   

The retail economy is also tilting steeply toward online shopping. Over the past 12 months, purchases at non-store retailers such as Amazon have jumped 12.1 percent as sales at traditional department stores have slumped 0.3 percent. Adobe Analytics reported Thursday that Thanksgiving reached a record $3.7 billion in online retail sales, up 28 percent from the same period a year ago. For Black Friday, online spending was on track to hit more than $6.4 billion, according to Adobe.  


Target reported that shoppers bought big-ticket items like TVs, iPads and Apple Watches. Among the most popular toy deals were from Lego, L.O.L. Surprise from MGA Entertainment, and Mattel’s Barbie. It said gamers picked up video game consoles like Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. 


Others reported stumbling onto more obscure savings. At a Cincinnati mall, Bethany Carrington scored a $29 all-in-one trimmer for her husband’s nose hair needs and, for $17, “the biggest Mr. Potato Head I’ve ever seen.”  


Black Friday itself has morphed from a single day when people got up early to score doorbusters into a whole month of deals. Plenty of major stores including Macy’s, Walmart and Target started their deals on Thanksgiving evening. But some families are sticking by their Black Friday traditions. 


“We boycotted Thursday shopping; that’s the day for family. But the experience on Friday is just for fun,” said Michelle Wise, shopping at Park Meadows Mall in Denver with her daughters Ashleigh, 16, and Avery, 14.  


By midday Friday, there had not been widespread reports of the deal-inspired chaos that has become central to Black Friday lore — fistfights over discounted televisions or stampedes toward coveted sale items.  


Two men at an Alabama mall got into a fight, and one of the men opened fire, shooting the other man and a 12-year-old bystander, both of whom were taken to the hospital with injuries. Police shot and killed the gunman. Authorities have not said whether the incident was related to Black Friday shopping or stemmed from an unrelated dispute.  


Candice Clark arrived at the Walmart in Louisville with her daughter Desiree Douthitt, 19, looked around and remarked at how calm it all seemed. They have long been devotees of Black Friday deals and for years braved the crowds and chaos. Clark’s son, about 10 years ago, got hit in the head with a griddle as shoppers wrestled over it. They saw one woman flash a Taser and threaten to use it on anyone who came between her and her desired fondue pot.  


They’ve watched over the years as the traditional madness of the day has dissipated as shopping transitioned to online and stores stretched their sales from a one-day sprint to a days-long marathon. 


“It seems pretty normal in here,” said Roy Heller, as he arrived at the Louisville Walmart, a little leery of Black Friday shopping, but pleasantly surprised to find that he didn’t even have to stand in line.  


He had tried to buy his son a toy robot on Amazon, but it was sold out. Friday morning, he frantically searched the internet and found one single robot left, at a Walmart 25 miles from his home. He bought it online and arrived an hour later to pick it up.  


Employees delivered his bag, he held it up and declared: “I got the last one in Louisville!” 

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