5 Things to Know (16th – 20th April)

Over 8,000 Starbucks branches to close in the US

Coffee chain Starbucks has decided on closing over 8000 of its branches in the US for one afternoon next month in order to educate their employees about racial discrimination and bias. This was initiated after the incident of two black men who were arrested at one Starbucks store last week. Evidences reveal that they were waiting for a friend at a Philadelphia Starbucks store when the manager of the store called the police, blaming them for trespassing. It was also revealed that the men asked if they could use the bathroom to which the employee responded by saying that it was only for paying customers.  Later, CEO of Starbucks, Kevin Johnson, apologized to the two men for how they were treated and proclaimed that the manager is no longer allowed to work at the store. The racial discrimination training will be given to 175,000 workers on May 29th.


Trump Administration wanting to replace US troops with Arab force in Syria

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo are attempting to build a coalition of Arab military forces that would replace US troops in Syria. Earlier in 2013 as part of the Obama Administration, an anti-ISIS strategy was initiated but this idea picked up a new momentum after President Trump said that he wants to withdraw US troops from the country and have other countries handle it. Currently, there are more than 2000 US troops fighting Islamic State in Syria. US officials have approached countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and UAE. to contribute troops and fund in order to establish the regional force. Additionally, Adel al- Jubeir, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister announced that Riyadh was ready to send their troops as part of this agreement. He also declared that they made a similar offer to the Obama administration which was declined.


China’s economic growth beats expectations

The economy of China has risen at an annual pace of 6.8% in the first quarter of this year in comparison to the same period last year, beating forecasts that were made earlier. The growth figures between months of January and March were over the Beijing 2018 target of 6.5%. Amy Zhuang, a Chinese economist in Singapore, exclaimed that despite the fact that these figures are “solid” , there are signs that the positive momentum is weakening because of the cooling housing market inclusive of investments in property, infrastructure, and factories. So far, the trade tensions between Washington and Beijing have had very little impact on China, which is the second largest economy in the world. However, economists have predicted that there could be a prolonged trade battle in future that could change this fact. An example of this can be seen with Chinese factories producing fewer goods for the foreign markets. This has become more prominent after the Trump Administration has imposed new tariffs on China-made solar panels, steel, and other metals. Their tit-for-tat trade spat has roiled global markets and has also raised concerns that a trade war would drag down the global economy in the near future.

End of the Castro dynasty reign

 Raul Castro, who took over his brother Fidel Castro twelve years ago and led Cuba through the revolutionary changes, has decided to resign and give this power to somebody outside the Castro dynasty for the first time after the Cuban revolution that took place over fifty years ago. Mr. Castro, throughout his two terms as the president of Cuba, at the age of 86, has opened up his country to diplomatic relations with the US. His successor, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, 57, is a Communist Party loyalist born a year after (in 1960) Fidel Castro came to power. Since Mr. Miguel is still in his 50s, it is evident that he wasn’t even born at the time of the revolution. One of the major short term challenges are based on economic factors. The new president will be required to resolve the complex dual currency system by ensuring that the inflation rate does not escalate for the Cubans.


Japanese Senior Bucreat Junichi Fukuda resigns due to harassment accusations

Junichi Fukuda, who is a highest ranked civil servant in the Finance Minister of Japan resigned on 18th April after being accused of sexually harassing various female journalists. Reports reveal that he made this decision in order to “clear his name.”He declared that it would be difficult to fulfill his job responsibilities after this particular situation and has resigned for the sake of his reputation. He has also apologized to all the people he has caused trouble to. The Shukan Shincho magazine released an audio of Mr Fukuda asking a lady if he could touch her breasts. In addition, the magazine also reported that Mr Fukuda inappropriately asked other women to kiss him and spend time together in a hotel. This decision suggests that Japan may be joining the #MeToo movement that involves allowing victims of sexual harassment to reluctantly speak up. Unsurprisingly, Japan also has one of the worst records for the representation of female political figures in the world.



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