Starbucks to close 8000 U.S. stores for racial tolerance training


STARBUCKS Corp will close 8,000 company-owned U.S. cafes for the afternoon on May 29 so 175,000 employees can undergo racial tolerance training in response to protests and calls for boycotts after the arrest of two black men waiting in a Philadelphia store.

The company said in the Tuesday announcement that it will also provide training materials for non-company workers at the roughly 6,000 licensed Starbucks cafes that will remain open in locations such as grocery stores and airports.

The announcement from world’s biggest coffee company comes as it tries to cool tensions after the Philadelphia incident last week sparked accusations of racial profiling at the chain, which is the subject of a boycott campaign on social media.

The controversy is the biggest public relations test yet for new Starbucks Chief Executive Kevin Johnson, who already was fighting to boost traffic to Starbucks amid competition from coffee sellers ranging from hipster cafes to fast-food chains and convenience stores.

“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution,” said Johnson, a former technology executive who took the helm about a year ago.

Even if the threatened boycott does not materialise, the 8,000 temporary store closures will almost certainly have an impact on sales. Starbucks did not say how many hours the stores would be shuttered on May 29, but the afternoon is the slowest time for Starbucks’ business.

Police arresting two black men at a Starbucks store in Philadelphia after its staff contacted authorities, alleging the duo were "being suspicious."
Starbucks is one of the most high-profile and beloved brands in the world and its long-time CEO Howard Schultz was not one to shy away from difficult conversations over thorny issues such as gay marriage, gun control and Congressional gridlock.

However U.S. race relations have proven more challenging, even for a company that touts its diverse workforce — minorities account for 18 percent of Starbucks executives with the title of senior vice president or higher and 43 percent of employees overall.

For example, the company’s 2015 “Race Together” campaign to foster a conversation on the topic following the high-profile police shootings of several unarmed black men stirred an intense social media backlash.

Johnson has apologised for the “reprehensible” arrests of the two men in Philadelphia on Thursday and took personal responsibility for the incident, which was captured in a customer video that was shared widely.

Starbucks attorneys said Johnson and the men, who were released without charges, have “engaged in constructive discussions about this issue as well as what is happening in communities across the country.”

Philadelphia Police late on Tuesday released the series of calls that led to their arrests.

It begins with a Starbucks employee reporting “two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave.” The manager who is believed to have made that call, no longer works for Starbucks.

In a subsequent call, an unidentified man said a “group of males” was “causing a disturbance” that required backup and a supervisor.

Philadelphia’s police commissioner over the weekend defended the arrests, saying his officers had to act after Starbucks employees told them the pair were trespassing.

“It’s good that Starbucks is giving all staff race trainings on May 29. But let’s not lose sight of the real problem which is police accountability,” Tiffany Dena Loftin, director of the youth and college division at NAACP, told Reuters.

Shares in Starbucks closed up 0.7 percent at $59.83 on Tuesday and are relatively unchanged in the week since the arrests.



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Why Grocery Stores Mist Their Produce


produceArina P Habich/ShutterstockNo matter where you shop for your groceries, you’ve probably noticed one thing that every store has in common: the produce section. The colorful stacks of fruits and veggies are always located near the front (and there’s a sneaky reason for that, but that’s another story). Many of them are encased in a glowing cooler that sprays the food with water. This is pretty standard wherever you go: 80 percent of American grocery stores mist their vegetables. Have you ever wondered why?

Appearance

When it comes to produce, customers typically assume that fruits and veggies are cleaner or fresher when they’re misted, but this isn’t always the case. (In fact, apples in particular might be several months old when you buy them.) Stores want to appeal to shoppers’ senses: When compared to dry produce, plump fruit and shiny vegetables look more appealing, add a fresher scent to the store, and cause consumers to be more drawn to the section where they’ll stock up.

But be careful—just because it’s wet doesn’t mean you can skip washing it. Instead, you still have to run your veggies under the faucet when you get home, like this.

Weight

Stores make more money when the produce looks good, but they make even more when it’s heavy. In addition to the food’s aesthetic appeal, spraying will maintain the water content of fruits and vegetables, which are lighter when dry. This means that any produce paid for by the pound will cost more when it’s sprayed simply because the water makes it heavier. This practice accounts for a 25 percent hike in profits. To make sure you’re not paying more for your food than it’s worth, shake off any damp fruits or vegetables before putting them in your cart.

Looking for more easy ways to save money at the grocery store? We’ve got ideas!

Freshness

While misting fruit and vegetables makes them more eye-catching and expensive, it does have health benefits. According to the New York Times, some vegetables require some mist to keep from wilting, so this practice can extend shelf life (as long as it isn’t overdone!) and keep you from ingesting bacteria-laden rotten food. Here’s how to make your fruits and veggies last longer once you’ve taken them home.

Whether you think the practice is sneaky or smart is up to you, but one thing’s for sure. That store-sprayed produce is still delicious and safe to eat, so dive in and try some of our favorite vegetarian recipes tonight.



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Red iPhone 8 and 8 Plus available for order today, arrive in stores Apr 13


Red iPhone 8 and 8 Plus available for order today, arrive in stores Apr 13

Image source: Apple

As expected, Apple just announced the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition.

The 2018’s (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition is slightly different from last year as the iPhones now come with black front bezels. Apple also unveiled a new (PRODUCT)RED iPhone X Leather Folio. 

A portion of proceeds for all (PRODUCT)RED purchases will go directly to the Global Fund HIV/AIDS grants that provide testing, counseling, treatment and prevention programs with a specific focus on eliminating transmission of the virus from mothers to their babies.

The black front bezels complement the red finish on the back

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition will be available in 64GB and 256GB models at the same retail prices as the non-red models:

  • 4.7-inch iPhone 8 (64GB/256GB): S$1,148 / S$1,388
  • 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus (64GB/256GB): S$1,308 / S$1,548

Available for order on apple.com/sg from 8.30PM on 10 April, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition will be delivered to customers on Friday, 13 April. The phones will also be available in Apple Orchard Road from 13 April.

The first wave of launch countries include Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, the U.K and U.S.

Consumers in Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, UAE will get these models later in April with Chile, Colombia, India, Israel, Turkey and other countries and regions following in May. 

Image source: Apple

The new (PRODUCT)RED iPhone X Leather Folio will be available from apple.com/sg, the Apple Store app and Apple Stores for S$148 beginning tomorrow (10 April).

Source: Apple



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The Weirdest Items Ever Donated to Thrift Stores


An incognito toilet

Somchai Som/Shutterstock“The prize has to go to the guy who brought in what appeared to be a regular chair, until one of my colleagues attempted lifting it and it turned out to be a very thoroughly used toilet. My colleague, who did have a flair for the dramatic, screamed and dropped the toilet which began leaking some bluish fluid everywhere. The guy wouldn’t take the toilet back, and nobody was willing to touch it, so it basically stayed outside the store at the service entrance for weeks before somebody finally got rid of it.”—Reddit user VelociraptorFetus 

Donating a used toilet may not be the best idea, but we bet you never knew you could donate these ten things.

A stack of wood

seeyou/Shutterstock“Someone brought a bunch of broken lumber and asked if they could donate it. I told them it was garbage. They left it anyway.”—Reddit user dads2tired

A bag of garbage (accidentally)

sathaporn/Shutterstock“Our family donates clothes in masses and puts them in one of those giant black trash bags. [One time,] my dad took the bag to the Salvation Army and when he got back, he noticed the bag of clothes was sitting in the living room????

“Long story short, he dropped off an actual bag of TRASH at the Salvation Army.

“He then went back and apologized and donated the right bag…. he hasn’t gone back since.”—Reddit user lucycastillo

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Beheaded Barbies

Crepesoles/Shutterstock“Barbie dolls with no clothes or heads. A whole bag full.”—Reddit user ajs592

Lots of lonely shoes

Photobac/Shutterstock“Someone once donated a box of shoes, which was great because they all seemed to be in good condition. There were all kinds of shoes: sneakers, high heels, even some sporting cleats. But once we started sorting through them, we couldn’t find a single matching pair. I thought I was just tired until my coworker started complaining about what we were going to do without any pairs. Maybe someone out there has the second box full of the matching pairs. We will never know.”—Broadly.com contributor Anne  

Check out these places where you can donate your old things to a wonderful cause.

A Cabbage Patch Kid with a secret

Shutterstock“I collect Cabbage Patch Kids, a type of doll that was very popular in the 1980s, although they still make them today. I used to stop by the thrift store pretty often to check their toy section for Cabbage Patches, and one day I found a boy Cabbage Patch…wearing a backwards dress that was so long in the front it covered his feet. He had a cape on that matched the dress which covered his feet from the back as well. He looked good, and even though the clothes were odd, more than 50 percent of the Cabbage Patch [dolls] I find at thrift stores are naked, so any clothes are great. I actually spend far more on doll clothes than I do on the dolls themselves.

“Anyway, I brought the little guy home and pulled his dress up to check the signature on his butt, because I can tell by the color of the signature what year he was made. What I found freaked me out. The doll’s legs were soaked in a dark red, brownish stuff…it was clearly blood. I tried to tell myself it wasn’t blood, but I knew it was. I put the doll in the bathtub, put on some gloves, and started to scrub him. I got most of the blood out.

“I still have the doll, but he sits on the shelf. I don’t want to touch him. I don’t know how he got bloody, or why someone would give a blood-soaked doll to a thrift store.”—Reddit user carnivorous_plant, a thrift store customer

If you’re a frequent thrift store shopper, you should know these tips to help you get the best deals.

A round piece of plastic, essentially

Dimedrol68/Shutterstock“There was a time where we received well over 120 donations in one day; it had been a very long day. It seemed impossible that we could ever catch a break. I was very tired, and then right on cue, another car pulled to the door. They roll down the window and a little girl hands me a blank CD without a case.”—Reddit user johnsonstein17

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Weapons, and an owl overload

aperturesound/Shutterstock“I was a manager of Goodwill for a while. I got a few good donations, the best being:

  1. A taser gun (didn’t get put up for sale, obviously)
  2. Owls. We got an entire U-Haul truck filled with owl-themed decorations.”—Reddit user efischerSC2

Learn the other things thrift stores seriously don’t want from you.

A “sacrament sack”

Ihor Pasternak/Shutterstock“I got a last rites kit for a priest. It was the doctor’s-type bag with a cross on it with all the things needed for in-home communion and last rites for shut-ins or the dying. I gave that to a nearby Catholic church. Just didn’t feel right selling it.”—Stacie Morrell, manager of Homeward Bound Pets thrift store

very realistic doll

Rudchenko Liliia/Shutterstock“One time we got a very old small trunk and one of the employees opened it up and screamed. There was an old doll laying inside and she thought for a second that it was a real child.”—Morrell

An entire truck full of escargot

zcw/Shutterstock“A food manufacturer had gone bankrupt and called us to help. They ended up just needing the shells [of the escargot] removed. Our truck team members had to stomp on them to fit them in the truck. They dropped them off at a compost facility.”—Sarah Gray, content manager for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

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This sporty gator

courtesy EBTH“You see the inner workings of everyone’s lives…things that have been [in their houses] forever. Taxidermy is a good example. You see some pretty interesting taxidermy. We [got] a taxidermied alligator that was swinging a golf club; posed and playing golf.”—Brian Graves, co-founder of EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE (EBTH), an online estate sale marketplace

This unusual fashion statement

courtesy EBTH“[We also received] a ‘waste basket’ yellow pages paper dress. Back in the 1960s, they would take the yellow pages, découpage them, and turn them into a dress. [Women] would wear these dresses made of paper.”—Graves

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This immediate sin cleanser

courtesy EBTH“We came across a holy water dispenser that kind of looked like a fire hydrant. It says ‘Holy Water’ with a tap at the bottom. A lot of times, these things are really ornate… but this looked like something that would’ve been sitting on the counter at a speakeasy or a saloon, and if you needed some holy water, you could go grab it.”—Graves

You think thrift store workers’ lives are crazy? Check out the wackiest things Walmart employees have seen at work.



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Tesco grows with smaller stores


TESCOMO,2/4/2018, KUALA LUMPUR: Tesco Malaysia’s expansion to Malaysia was the right step for its parent company in the United Kingdom, as it seeks to boost its presence in Asia, corporate services director Azliza Baizura Azmel said. She said the country was a good platform for Tesco to expand in the region due to its politically-stable environment, growing pool of skilled workers, status as a growing nation and accommodating policy framework and legal system.

Tesco Malaysia was one of the 100 beneficiaries of wholesale and retail national key area’s large-format stores, established to expand retailers’ scale and capabilities. The National Transformation Programme Annual Report 2017 said this was targeted to attract private investment, increase competitiveness of the stores, provide more choices for consumers and create jobs.

In 2016, the sector employed 1.7 million people, an increase of 13 per cent compared with 1.5 million in 2010. This has resulted in the establishment of 44 hypermarkets and 56 superstores, facilitating investments including RM1.27 billion from Abu Dhabi’s Lulu Group, which aims to set up 10 hypermarkets in Malaysia by 2020.

From the opening of Tesco’s first outlet in Puchong, Selangor, in 2002, Azliza said, Malaysia’s growth had been supported by facilitative policies and the government’s efforts to improve the ease of doing business in the country. She said over the years, the government had enforced competition and data protection laws to ensure a level-playing field in the retail sector, thus attracting more foreign companies.

“The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry’s recent decision to allow foreign-owned stores to expand with smaller premises has allowed Tesco to penetrate the small-format sector,” she said in the NTP report. “At the end of the day, it’s always about the conversations we have with the ministry, which has always been attentive to our concerns.” Azliza said the company would expand in Malaysia, in line with current retail trends where consumers preferred to shop in smaller stores near their homes.

Last year, Tesco launched its chain of new generation stores, which focus on time saving, increased value for money and the incorporation of technology, such as self-checkout counters. She said the company was keen to leverage Malaysia’s talent pool for its staffing needs. In collaboration with the Education Ministry, the company trained and upskilled young talent keen on working after completing secondary school to improve their employability.

Tesco works alongside homeless shelters, such as Anjung Singgah here, to provide jobs to the homeless, disabled and retirees. She said Tesco would use technology to improve its services and expand its footprint in Malaysia. Tesco offers real-time delivery through e-commerce platforms, such as Lazada and Happy Fresh, in addition to its own delivery service. It also uses Facebook to interact with its consumers, allowing the chain to share information and receive feedback. This is to ensure its services are in tandem with its stores in Europe and the United States.

–NSTP



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Things You Should Be Buying at Restaurant Supply Stores


Taste of HomeWhen it comes to kitchen gear, I’m all about combining form and function. After all, who doesn’t love practical but pretty tea towels or adorable recipe cards? However, when it comes to kitchen workhorses—you know, the products you use every day—pretty doesn’t always pay. For those heavy rotation items, I turn to my local restaurant supply store.

I know what you’re thinking: those are for restaurants. You’re not wrong, but these suppliers are often open to the public, and they have a lot to offer home cooks.

According to Jamie Little, marketing director at Fein Brothers, a Milwaukee restaurant supplier, “The big advantage to shopping here is that everything is commercial grade. These products are made to be used over and over again—to really take a beating.”

With that in mind, here’s what you should be buying at your local restaurant supply store.

Baking sheets

Taste of HomeI’m not sure there’s any baking tool that works harder than the classic cookie sheet—especially when it gets thumped against the oven rack. These sheets get used over and over and over again, so it’s worth investing in an industrial-grade product. That’s where your local restaurant store’s baking section comes in handy. These stores are packed with pans of all sizes (perfect for larger sheet pan dinners), and they’re all extremely affordable. A full-size sheet pan will likely run you under $10, and cookie sheet-sized trays under $4. Just be sure you aren’t making these baking mistakes next time you whip up a batch of cookies!

Cutting boards

colored cutting boardsbevz tetiana/Shutterstock
Be sure to add cutting boards to your supply store shopping list. Available in multiple sizes for a fraction of what you’d pay at your local kitchen shop or department store, Little says that this kitchen basic is one of the most common items home cooks look out for.

Cake decorating supplies

Taste of HomeWhen it comes to shopping for cake decorating supplies, it can be hard to track down the right tip (is it just me, or is my local craft store always out of the one I want?). Restaurant supply stores offer a huge assortment of piping tips and pastry bags to satisfy all your creative decorating needs—and at more affordable prices than most shops. Oh, and if you’re in the market for a fancy decorating turntable for your most beautiful cakes ever, you’ll find those at restaurant suppliers, too!

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Whisks and other utensils

Kitchen tools. Set of tools for cooking.chaoss/Shutterstock
Whisks, spatulas, and wooden spoons are all easy enough to come by at traditional shops, but you definitely won’t find the same massive selection. Restaurant supply stores offer all these in dozens of sizes. Plus, these heavy-duty utensils are built to last—with high heat resistant spatulas, you don’t ever have to worry about one melting to your pan again! Find out more about these common kitchen utensils and the alternate names you never knew they had. 

Knives

Taste of HomeI’ll admit that I’m envious of all the beautiful knife sets I see online and when I shop kitchen stores, but sometimes these knife blocks can be on the pricey side. Instead of investing the big bucks into one of these kits, you can get a set of good, hardworking knives at a restaurant supplier for a fraction of the cost. Ranging from paring knives to meat cleavers, you can find an excellent variety.

Mixing bowls

Nested Mixing Bowls 1K Chelette/Shutterstock
When it comes to the basics, like mixing bowls, there’s no need to splurge on a fancy set. Instead, shop your local supplier for dishes in every conceivable size. These stainless steel and glass bowls can withstand years of use and will cost you only a few bucks.

Baking gadgets in all sizes

Taste of HomeWhen it comes to finding multiple sizes of cookie scoops, batter dishes (perfect for filling cupcake and muffin pans) and offset spatulas, I struggle to find the options I need at a big box store. I just can’t bear to use a regular size scoop when I’m craving extra large cookies! That’s where restaurant supply stores come in so handy. You no longer have to settle for one-size-fits-all products. Instead, you can find a huge array of cookie scoops, dishes, spatulas, cupcake pans and so much more in a huge variety of sizes (and at better prices than traditional kitchen stores). Little also points out that when you find the right size tool for a given recipe “it provides a lot of consistency—you can know exactly how much a recipe will make every time.” Don’t miss these 32 unique and weird kitchen gadgets you won’t believe are actually real. 

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Frying pans

Taste of HomeWhen I’m cooking up a storm, I find that I can never have enough frying pans. Whether you prefer nonstick, ceramic or stainless steel, restaurant suppliers offer plenty of affordable options so you can stock up and be prepared for those busy days in the kitchen. Find out more about the types of cookware you should be using at home

Silicone mats

cooking bag and a silicone mat with macaroonkiv_ph/Shutterstock
While I typically rely on parchment paper to line my cookie sheets, I can’t help but want a few reusable silicone mats to ease the process (is it just me or do you cut the wrong size half the time?). I’ve always been reluctant to invest in these silicone baking sheets because most department stores sell them for about $25 each—now multiply that by the number of trays you can pop into an oven at once and you’ve got a huge investment. Luckily enough, restaurant supply stores sell these silicone mats for about a third of the price. Little explained that they’re one of the most popular products she sees home cooks buy.

Specialty tools

Taste of HomeSome kitchen gadgets and tools are more difficult to find than others. Whether you’re looking for a madeleine mold for those delicate cookies, a crepe pan for French desserts or a giant pizza peel for homemade pies, restaurant supply stores are a great resource for these hard-to-find items.

While unexpected, these industrial suppliers are a great resource for even home cooks. You’re likely to find a few great tools at a great price, and at the very least, as Little puts it, “It’s just really fun to look around.”

Next, be sure you don’t miss the 50 unhealthiest foods you can buy at the supermarket.



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