Appliance manufacturer Electrolux closed its Webster City, Iowa, plant in 2011. Now, the retraining programs for former workers are wrapping up, and the town of 8,000 is bracing for the true impact of the closure. It's a familiar story for many former manufacturing towns across the Midwest.
Johnson joined the company from Apple and tried to change the look, feel and function of the retail stores. The strategy failed; JC Penny lost $4.3 billion in sales since Johnson became CEO.
Scientists have developed a type of chocolate infused with micro-bubbles of fruit juice that they say can replace up to half of the fat found in normal chocolate. This hybrid treat, they say, provides a tasty, more healthful alternative to regular chocolate.
Jean Stevens became the first woman to recite a prayer at a general session of the faith's semiannual conferences, which Mormons consider the most important religious gatherings of the year.
Hating Margaret Thatcher wasn't just a political stance. It became something of an industry. From punk rock to TV and magazine satires, many entertainers and writers profited by criticizing her policies.
"She diminished a lot of cultural funding. She put the BBC really in her sites," explains Toby Miller, professor of cultural studies at City University in London. In turn, the BBC put Thatcher in its sites, lampooning her in comedies, such as "Friday Night Live" and critiquing her policies in dramas, such as "Edge of Darkness." The BBC hit "Dr. Who" even created a Thatcher-like character, Helen A, ruler of humans on Terra Firma.
"There was a lot of cultural creativity that managed to express what wasn’t really getting heard in the mainstream newspapers," Miller says.
And then there was the music.
"No political figure in British politics has inspired quite so many songs that Margaret Thatcher has inspired," says Paul Williams, head of business analysis for Music Week. "She certainly was very inspirational in terms of bringing out an anger."
Williams says the punk movement gained a lot of momentum and global interest because of Thatcher's policies. Thatcher became a sort of anti-muse for The Clash, Elvis Costello and Pink Floyd. Billy Bragg practically made a cottage industry out of hating the conservative prime minister.
And it wasn't just British audiences getting the message.
"I can remember being a preteen listening to Pink Floyd’s 'The Final Cut' and wondering, who’s this Maggie he’s so mad at?" says Aram Sinnreich, a professor of media at Rutgers University.
He says during the '80s, cable TV and, specifically, MTV were coming of age, and that put a lot of British music in front of an American audience. "The digital era was just beginning," he says. "You saw the rise of cable TV, especially of MTV and really the globalization of our media infrastructure... Because of that, the vitriolic hatred a lot of musicians had for Thatcher at the time was imported to us."
Sinnreich doubts punk would have become the global movement it did without Thatcher.
"She really galvanized the culture war’s troops in England and helped them amplify their message," he says. "It’s kind of ironic, because the deregulation that was one of the hallmarks of the politics that Thatcher herself espoused, lead to this explosion of anti-Thatcherist sentiment within the U.S. marketplace and around the globe."
Sinnreich says thanks to that, the anti-Thatcher industry turned into a profitable export.
Mike Ullman has been named CEO of JC Penney after Ron Johnson was ousted following a failed restructuring attempt.
"They've lost 30 percent of their business. It's just gone away," said Ed Fox, a marketing professor at Southern Methodist University who tracks JC Penney. "That's an incredible hurdle for a retailer to try to clear."
JC Penney shares rose 23 cents to $16.10 in after-hours trading. CNBC originally reported the firing Monday afternoon. Just last week, the board of the struggling retailer cut Johnson’s pay by more than 96 percent.
"Johnson was a commuting CEO from California, wasn't at Penney's corporate headquarters in Texas. Retails, details — to understand the rhythm of details with consumers, it's a six-and-a-half day business," says Burt Flickinger, a retail analyst at the Strategic Resource Group. "You can't do it from two states and that was the reason for the failure at Penney, which is quite concerning even with a new CEO on an interim basis."
JC Penney hired Johnson away from Apple in 2011 to turn the business around — a rocky transition that saw the retailer getting rid of two things it was known for, sales and coupons.
"Transformations are unpredictable and can be bumpy, and this one has been," Johnson said in a conference call earlier this year after a tough quarter that saw sales down 28 percent — more than half a billion dollars.
Besides getting rid of sales in favor of everyday low prices, Johnson made a number of drastic changes to the retailer — including bringing in hipper designer brands such as Betsy Johnson and remaking outdated stores — that confused consumers.
"They've brought in these hip cool brands, which at the end of the day, the consumer who has been shopping JC Penney is not really going to identify with," said Gabriella Santaniello, a retail analyst at Wedbush Securities.
To turn things around, Flickinger said JC Penney should consider calling Robert Mettler, who helped turn Sears around in the '90s and get a better board, which is full of retirees with low to no experience in retail.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
For agencies administering the low-income housing program, mandated federal budget cuts are forcing cutbacks on several fronts. But some of the belt tightening is yet to come.
Since most of the faces we encounter are emotionally ambiguous, we're forced into interpretations. And in the case of troubled teens, the perception of hostile faces all around can lead to aggressive behavior. In an experiment, researchers tried to retrain the way those kids interpreted faces.
Residents in Memphis, Tenn., are thrilled that Swedish appliance giant Electrolux is opening a new factory there this year. The company plans to employ 1,200 people at the new, high-tech facility. But in Webster, Iowa, an Electrolux plant closure in 2011 has left the local economy reeling.