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US Retail Sales Were Up in December, But …

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Not everyone benefited equally.

Overall retail sales were up in December from the same month a year earlier, but not everyone in the sector benefited equally from the gains, according to new figures from the U.S. Commerce Department.

Department stores actually saw their sales drop 7.2 percent compared with the year-ago period, Bloomberg reports. At the same time, online retailers and other non-store businesses saw their sales rise 10.4 percent.

The figures come as large retailers such as Macy’s and Sears have announced store closings.

Amazon.com, meanwhile, said this month that it will create 100,000 jobs across the U.S. during an expansion over the next year-and-a-half, Bloomberg notes.

Still, bricks-and-mortar stores can thrive, as Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money, recently explained. He said the key to success in a mall location is to appeal to high-end customers.

Read more at Bloomberg.

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US Claims Overseas Jewelry Chain Supports Terrorism

It’s among 15 entities being targeted for sanctions.

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The U.S. Treasury Department is targeting al-Hebo Jewelry Co., which has stores in Turkey and Syria, for allegedly supporting ISIS.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control hit the company, along with more than a dozen other organizations and individuals, with counterterrorism sanctions, according to a press release from the department.

According to the release:

As of late 2017, al-Hebo’s location in Gaziantep, Turkey was involved in an ISIS scheme to convert gold into cash to more efficiently and secretly send funds via hawalas in Turkey to ISIS sleeper cells in Iraq and Syria.

As of early 2017, Raqqah-based al-Hebo was a cash transfer business used by ISIS members.

In September 2016, an employee of Raqqah-based al-Hebo likely coordinated a money transfer on behalf of a now-deceased, Syria-based, ISIS senior operations official.

Turkey-based al-Hebo owner Muhamad Ali al-Hebo is named specifically. As of late 2016, he was “involved in procuring precious metals to enable ISIS to produce its own ISIS coinage,” according to the release.

In all, the Treasury Department is targeting “15 leaders, individuals, and entities affiliated with terror groups,” according to the release. They include entities affiliated with HAMAS, al-Qa’ida and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods-Force (IRGC-QF), as well as ISIS.

“Since the horrific attacks of 9/11, the U.S. government has refocused its counterterrorism efforts to constantly adapt to emerging threats,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “President Trump’s modernized counterterrorism Executive Order enhances the authorities we use to target the finances of terror groups and their leaders to ensure they are as robust as possible.

“These new authorities will allow the U.S. Government to starve terrorists of resources they need to attack the United States and our allies, and will hold foreign financial institutions who continue to do business with them accountable. These new tools aid our unrelenting efforts to cut off terrorists from their sources of support and deprive them of the funds required to carry out their destructive activities. They serve as a powerful deterrent to radical terror groups and those seeking to aid their nefarious goals.”

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Woman Watches Video on How to Find Diamonds, Finds 3.72-Carat Yellow Diamond

It’s the largest diamond registered at the Crater of Diamonds since March 2017.

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Miranda Hollingshead apparently knows how to choose the right video.

The Bogata, TX, woman recently visited Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park for the first time and found a 3.72 carat yellow diamond, according to a report on the Arkansas State Parks website. After searching for about an hour, Hollingshead, 27, found the diamond at the base of a hill on the northeast side of the park’s 37.5-acre diamond search area.

“I was sitting in the shade, watching a YouTube video on how to find diamonds. I looked over at my kid for a second, and when I looked down, I saw it mixed in with other rocks,” she said.

It’s the largest diamond registered at the Crater of Diamonds since March 2017, when a teenager from Centerton, AR, found a 7.44-carat brown gem. It is the largest yellow diamond since a visitor from Oklahoma City found a 3.85-carat jewel there in October 2013.

Park interpreter Waymon Cox said, “Every diamond found at the park is beautiful in its own way, and this one is certainly no exception. It’s about the size of a pencil eraser, with a light yellow color and a sparkling, metallic luster. Ms. Hollingshead said her gem’s unique shape reminded her of a rounded molar, with a small indentation in one end.”

Miranda Hollingshead found this diamond at Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Cox said rainfall likely played a role in Hollingshead finding her diamond.

“Much of the ground where Ms. Hollingshead found her diamond is made of unweathered volcanic rock. When it rains, flowing runoff often leaves loose gravel, and sometimes diamonds, on the surface in these areas. Diamonds have a brilliant, adamantine luster that makes them easy to spot, and Ms. Hollingshead happened to be sitting in just the right place to see the diamond sparkle in the sun.”

About one in every 10 diamonds is found on the top of the ground by observant visitors. Park personnel plow the diamond search area, the eroded surface of an ancient, diamond-bearing volcanic pipe, periodically to loosen soil and assist with natural erosion.

Many visitors choose to name the diamonds they find at Crater of Diamonds State Park. Hollingshead and her son named her gem the Caro Avenger. “He chose the name Caro, and I am a fan of superheroes, so it seemed like a good fit.”

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Hollingshead said if she doesn’t sell the diamond, she’ll probably have it mounted in a ring.

In total, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at the Crater of Diamonds since the first diamonds were discovered in 1906 by John Huddleston, a farmer who owned the land long before it became an Arkansas State Park in 1972.

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Jewelry Retailer Expands With Store Acquisition

It will be the company’s third location.

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Hustedt Jewelers, which has locations in Gibson City and Pontiac, IL, has acquired William MarKen Jewelers in Bloomington, IL.

The store will be rebranded, The Pantagraph reports.

“This is an exciting time to expand,” said Kevin Hustedt, owner of Hustedt Jewelers. “We look forward to taking care of all the William MarKen customers just like we do in our other two stores.”

Hustedt took over the business from his father, Larry Hustedt, in 2013. Larry Hustedt started the business in Gibson City with his wife, Ursula, in 1983.

William MarKen Jewelers was started in 1996 by Bill Lyddon, Mark Meins and Ken Criser in Normal, IL. The store moved to Bloomington in 2007.

Kevin Hustedt said MarKen Jewelers’ inventory was being liquidated.

Read more at the The Pantagraph

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