Starbucks Training a First Step, Experts Say, in Facing Bias

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Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores nationwide Tuesday to conduct anti-bias training, the next of many steps the company is taking in an effort to restore its tarnished diversity-friendly image.   The coffee chain's leaders reached out to bias training experts after the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks last month.   The plan has brought attention to the little-known world of "unconscious bias training" used by corporations, police departments and other organizations. It's designed to get people to open up about implicit biases and stereotypes in encountering people of color, gender or other identities.   A video previewing the training says it will include recorded remarks from Starbucks executives as well as rapper and activist Common. From there, the company says, employees will "move into…


China Rejects US Charge of "Forced Technology Transfer’ at WTO

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China told the World Trade Organization's dispute settlement body on Monday that U.S. accusations that Beijing forced companies to hand over technology as a cost of doing business in China were groundless. U.S. President Donald Trump has accused China of stealing American ideas and announced a plan for a $50 billion tariff penalty against Chinese goods. Both sides launched legal complaints at the WTO over the issue earlier this year. "There is no forced technology transfer in China," Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xiangchen told the meeting, according to a copy of his remarks provided to Reuters. "According to the U.S.'s view, China forces the U.S. companies to transfer technologies by imposing joint venture requirements, foreign equity limitations and administrative licensing procedures," Zhang said. "But the fact is, nothing in these regulatory…


New Zealand Begins Mass Cull to Eradicate Cow Disease

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New Zealand will slaughter more than 100,000 cows in an effort to eradicate a bacterial disease. The government and agricultural leaders announced Monday that it will spend over $600 million over the next decade to rid the country of Mycoplasma bovis, which causes udder infections, pneumonia, arthritis and other illnesses. The bacteria is not a threat to humans, but can cause production delays on farms. "This is a tough call," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. "But the alternative is to risk the spread of the disease across our national herd." Mycoplasma bovis has been detected on more than three dozen farms since it was first detected in New Zealand last year, leading to the slaughter of about 26,000 cattle. The country is the world's largest exporter of milk and dairy…


New York Clothing Store Sells Gender Neutral Lifestyle

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New shops appear in New York City every day, but Phluid Project, which recently opened its doors on Broadway, is different. One of the first gender-fluid boutiques in the world, Phluid Project sells clothing for men, women and everyone in between. Both the clothes and the mannequins here are gender-neutral, and as an added selling point, its store owners say the prices are more than affordable. Elena Wolf visited the one-of-a-kind store, where no one feels out of place. ...


Russia, Turkey OK Pipeline Deal, End Gas Dispute

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Russian state gas giant Gazprom said Saturday it had signed a protocol with the Turkish government on a planned gas pipeline and agreed with Turkish firm Botas to end an arbitration dispute over the terms of gas supplies.  The protocol concerned the land-based part of the transit leg of the TurkStream gas pipeline, which Gazprom said meant that work to implement it could now begin. Turkey had delayed issuing a permit for the Russian company to start building the land-based parts of the pipeline, which, if completed, would allow Moscow to reduce its reliance on Ukraine as a transit route for its gas supplies to Europe. A source said in February the permit problem might be related to talks between Gazprom and Botas about a possible discount for Russian gas.…


Italy’s President Pressured to Accept Euroskeptic Minister

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Italy's would-be coalition parties turned up the pressure on President Sergio Mattarella on Saturday to endorse their euroskeptic pick as economy minister, saying the only other option might be a new election. Mattarella has held up formation of a government, which would end more than 80 days of political deadlock, over concern about the desire of the far-right League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement to make economist Paolo Savona, 81, economy minister. Savona has been a vocal critic of the euro and the European Union, but he has distinguished credentials, including in a former role as an industry minister. Formally, Prime Minister-designate Giuseppe Conte presents his cabinet to the president, who must endorse it. Conte, a little-known law professor with no political experience, met the president on Friday without resolving the deadlock. "I hope no one has already decided 'no,' " League leader Matteo…


Kenya Moves to Regulate Digital-Fueled Lending Craze

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Kenya built a reputation as a pioneer of financial inclusion through its early adoption of a mobile money system that enables people to transfer cash and make payments on cellphones without a bank account. Now, a proliferation of lenders are using the same technology to extend credit to the banked and unbanked alike, saddling borrowers with high interest rates and leaving regulators scrambling to keep up. This week, the finance ministry published a draft bill on financial regulation that covers digital lenders for the first time. A key aim is to ensure that providers treat retail customers fairly, it said. “We have a lot of predatory lending out here, which we want to regulate,” Geoffrey Mwau, director general of budget, fiscal and economic affairs at the treasury, told reporters Thursday.…


Markets Disrupted as Italy’s Populists Negotiate Cabinet

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Italy's prime minister-designate, Giuseppe Conte, a political novice and obscure law professor accused of padding his resume, put the finishing touches to his cabinet lineup Friday. And initial reaction from financial markets was far from approving. Italian government bond prices slumped and the country's ailing banks saw their stock prices hit an 11-month low. Italy's outgoing economy minister, Pier Carlo Padoan, warned the incoming coalition government of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and far-right League not to underestimate the power of the markets. "The most worrying aspect of the program, which this government is working on, is its underestimation of the consequences of certain choices," Padoan told the Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper. M5S and the League unveiled their government agreement a week ago, after more than 70 days…


Discharged and Jobless: US Veterans Seek Change in Hiring Rules

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Military veterans who were discharged for relatively minor offenses say they often can't get jobs, and they hope a recent warning to employers by the state of Connecticut will change that. The state's human rights commission told employers last month they could be breaking the law if they discriminate against veterans with some types of less-than-honorable discharges. Blanket policies against hiring such veterans could be discriminatory, the commission said, because the military has issued them disproportionately to black, Latino, gay and disabled veterans. At least one other state, Illinois, already prohibits hiring discrimination based on a veteran's discharge status, advocates say, but Connecticut appears to be the first to base its decision on what it deems discrimination by the military. Regardless of the state's reasons, veterans say, the attention there…


Broadcom’s Tan, CBS’s Moonves Among Highest-Paid CEOs

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Here are the highest-paid CEOs for 2017, as calculated by The Associated Press and Equilar, an executive data firm. The AP's compensation study covered 339 executives at S&P 500 companies who have served at least two full consecutive fiscal years at their respective companies, which filed proxy statements between January 1 and April 30. Compensation often includes stock and option grants that the CEO may not receive for years unless certain performance measures are met. For some companies, big raises occur when CEOs get a stock grant in one year as part of a multi-year grant. 1. Hock Tan Broadcom $103.2 million Change from last year: Up 318 percent 2. Leslie Moonves CBS $68.4 million Change: flat 3. W. Nicholas Howley TransDigm $61 million Change: Up 223 percent (Howley left…


Trump Signs Bill Easing Restraints on Small US Banks

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U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law Thursday a measure that eases rules imposed on banks in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession. The law relaxes regulations and oversight on banks with assets below $250 billion, leaving a handful of the largest U.S. banks that must still comply with the stringent rules and oversight. Trump said at the signing ceremony the rules and oversight, enacted by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, were "crushing small banks." Trump lauded the signing as a victory in his administration's efforts to eliminate regulations to promote economic growth. Although Trump signed the bill into law, much of Dodd-Frank remains intact. Trump signed the Republican-led measure that was passed by Congress after receiving the support of some Democrats. Dodd-Frank was…


Buffalo: City With a Magnificent Past Fallen on Hard Times

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Even though the United States is one of the richest and most technologically advanced countries in the world, about 45 million Americans live below the poverty line. In Buffalo, New York, a once-prosperous city that has fallen on hard-times, one-third of its residents live in poverty. As Olga Loginova reports, the city offers an example of what happens when a once-powerful industrial sector declines and well-paying jobs become scarce. ...


Deutsche Bank to Slash Thousands of Jobs to Control Costs 

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Germany’s struggling Deutsche Bank is slashing thousands of jobs as it reshapes its stocks trading operation and refocuses its global investment banking business on its European base. The bank said Thursday it would cut its workforce from 97,000 to “well below” 90,000 and that the reductions were underway. It said headcount in the stocks trading business, mostly based in New York and London, would be reduced by about 25 percent. Those cuts will cost the bank about 800 million euros ($935 million) this year. Deutsche Bank has struggled with high costs and troubles with regulators. The bank replaced its CEO in April after three years of annual losses and lagging progress in streamlining its operations. New CEO Christian Sewing has said the bank would refocus on its European and German…


Amazon, Starbucks Pledge Money to Repeal Seattle Head Tax

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Amazon, Starbucks, Vulcan and other companies have pledged a total of more than $350,000 toward an effort to repeal Seattle's newly passed tax on large employers intended to combat homelessness. Just days after the Seattle City Council approved the levy, the No Tax On Jobs campaign, a coalition of businesses, announced it would gather signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot to repeal it.  Amazon, Starbucks, Vulcan, Kroger and Albertsons each promised $25,000 to the effort last week, according to a report filed by the campaign. The Washington Food Industry Association pledged $30,000.  Referendum backers will have to gather 17,632 signatures of registered Seattle voters by June 14 to get the measure on the ballot. The so-called head tax will charge businesses making at least $20 million in…


Starbucks Calls Anti-Bias Training Part of ‘Long-Term Journey’

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Starbucks Corp. on Wednesday revealed details of the employee anti-bias training program that will take place behind closed doors at 8,000 U.S. company-owned cafes on the afternoon of May 29. Starbucks announced plans to shutter stores and corporate offices to train 175,000 employees after the controversial April 12 arrests of two black men, who were detained for hours after the manager of a Philadelphia Starbucks called police because they had not made purchases and refused to leave. The arrests of Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, who were waiting to meet a friend, sparked protests and calls for a boycott of the coffee chain known for its diverse workforce and liberal stances on issues such as gay marriage. Starbucks said the first training on May 29 “will serve as a step…


Trump Says New ‘Structure’ Needed in China Trade Deal 

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U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday “a different structure” is needed in trade negotiations with China, but he did not provide further details on the kind of change he seeks. “Our trade deal with China is moving along nicely,” Trump said in his Twitter post Wednesday morning, “but in the end we will probably have to use a different structure in that this will be too hard to get done and to verify results after completion.” The stock market reacted negatively after Trump cast doubt on trade negotiations with China but ultimately trimmed its losses, ending the day in the positive territory and gained 52.40 points, or 0.21 percent.   Trump said on Tuesday he was neither pleased nor satisfied with how the recent trade talks with China went,…


Federal Reserve: US Households, Businesses See Good Times Ahead

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Households are feeling more stable, small businesses are making money and many expect to expand and hire in the coming year, signs of continued optimism in two key parts of the economy, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday in a pair of annual surveys. Among more than 8,000 small businesses and more than 12,000 households covered in separate surveys late last year by the Fed and its 12 regional banks, the message was similar: economic conditions have been getting better and the expectation is for the good times to continue. "We see a decided uptick" in the economic and credit conditions faced by small businesses, said one Fed official involved in the small business survey. "We are seeing improved business confidence and improved business performance," with profitability and access to finance…


Official: Trump Administration to Publish Proposed Rule Changes for Gun Exports

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The Trump administration is preparing to publish on Thursday long-delayed proposed rule changes for the export of U.S. firearms, a State Department official said on Tuesday. The rule changes would move the oversight of commercial firearm exports from the U.S. Department of State to the Department of Commerce. The action is part of a broader Trump administration overhaul of weapons export policy that was announced in April. Domestic gun sales drop Timing for the formal publication of the rule change and the opening of the public comment period was unveiled by Mike Miller the acting secretary for the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, the State Department's body that currently oversees the bulk of commercial firearms transfers and other foreign military sales. He was speaking at the Forum on the Arms…


US, China Near Rescue Deal for Chinese Telecom Firm ZTE

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U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday "there is no deal" yet to lift the seven-year ban on the sale of American-made components to the giant Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, but that there might be a settlement as part of ongoing trade talks between the world's two biggest economies. Trump told reporters at the White House that he could envision a $1.3 billion fine against ZTE for violating the U.S. ban on trading with Iran and North Korea, the replacement of ZTE's management and board of directors and imposition of "very, very strict security" to prevent the theft of U.S. intellectual and national security secrets. "We caught them doing bad things," he said. Trump said Chinese President Xi Jinping asked him to look into the fate of ZTE after the firm…


Mexican Truckers Travel in Fear as Highway Robberies Bleed Economy

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Glancing constantly at his rear view mirror, truck driver "El Flaco" journeys the highways of Mexico haunted by the memory of when he was kidnapped with his security detail by bandits disguised as police officers two years ago. Back then, El Flaco, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, was beaten, blindfolded and taken to a house near Mexico City where his captors threatened to kill him. Three days later he managed to escape and flee. Today he travels with a machete and a satellite tracking device in his cab that can pinpoint him in emergencies. Truckers covering Mexico's vast territory often move in convoys to reduce the risk of robberies, which in 2017 almost doubled to nearly 3,000. Some drive with armed escorts traveling alongside them.…


Trump Claims New Accord with China on Trade Negotiations

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U.S. President Donald Trump says American farmers will be big beneficiaries of more trade with China. "Under our potential deal with China, they will purchase from our Great American Farmers practically as much as our Farmers can produce," Trump said Monday on Twitter. In another comment, he said China "has agreed to buy massive amounts of ADDITIONAL Farm/Agricultural Products - would be one of the best things to happen to our farmers in many years!" The U.S. leader said one result of talks with China last week in Washington is barriers to U.S.-Chinese trade and tariffs on each country's exports will "come down for (the) first time." President Trump's tweets come a day after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the two nations have agreed to back away from imposing…


China Puts its Own Spin on Agreement to Reduce Trade Deficit

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China's state media are playing up what it says is a trade war truce and de-escalation in tensions after negotiators from Washington and Beijing agreed to hold off on tariffs and “substantially reduce” the U.S. trade deficit. However, economists and business leaders argue that there is more to managing the relationship than balancing imports and exports. State media in China are focusing heavily on the argument that Beijing did not give any ground and adopting their own take on the deficit question — focusing instead the country’s pledge to boost imports from the United States. An editorial in the China Daily entitled “Sino-US agreement benefits both countries and the world” said that: “For China, ‘significantly increasing' imports of U.S. goods and services, such as agricultural and energy products, will help meet its…


Washington Digests US-China Trade Announcement

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Washington is digesting China’s stated intention to purchase more American goods and reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, last week’s talks between U.S. and Chinese negotiators did not yield specific commitments from Beijing in dollar figures, sparking criticism from some lawmakers in Washington. ...


South Korea’s LG Group Chairman Dies at 73

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South Korea’s fourth-largest conglomerate, LG Group, said its Chairman Koo Bon-moo did Sunday. Koo, 73, had been struggling with an illness for a year, LG Group said in a statement. “Becoming the third chairman of LG at the age of 50 in 1995, Koo established key three businesses — electronics, chemicals and telecommunications — led a global company LG, and contributed to driving (South Korea’s) industrial competitiveness and national economic development,” LG said. A group official said Koo had been unwell for a year and had undergone surgery. The official declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter. Before its chairman’s death, LG Group had established a holding company in order to streamline ownership structure and begin the process of succession. Heir apparent Koo Kwang-mo is from…


US, China Agree to Increased Trade Cooperation

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The United States and China agreed to take measures to reduce the U.S. trade deficit in goods by having China purchase more American goods, particularly agriculture and energy products, according to a joint statement the two nations released Saturday. "There was a consensus on taking effective measures to substantially reduce the United States trade deficit in goods with China," the joint statement said. "To meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development, China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services. This will help support growth and employment in the United States." The statement concluded joint talks Thursday and Friday between the two countries, which included several U.S. Cabinet secretaries and China's State Council Vice Premier Liu He. President Donald Trump made reducing the U.S. trade deficit with China a key campaign promise. The…


India, EU Give WTO Lists of US Goods for Potential Tariff Retaliation

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India and the European Union have given the World Trade Organization lists of the U.S. products that could incur high tariffs in retaliation for U.S. President Donald Trump's global tariffs on steel and aluminum, WTO filings showed Friday. The EU said Trump's steel tariffs could cost $1.5 billion and aluminum tariffs a further $100 million, and listed rice, cranberries, bourbon, corn, peanut butter, and steel products among the U.S. goods that it might target for retaliation. India said it was facing additional U.S. tariffs of $31 million on aluminum and $134 million on steel, and listed U.S. exports of soya oil, palmolein and cashew nuts among its potential targets for retaliatory tariffs. One trade official described the lists of retaliatory tariffs as "loading a gun," making it plain to U.S.…


China Ends US Sorghum Anti-Dumping Probe, OKs Toshiba Deal

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China has dropped an anti-dumping investigation and given long awaited approval for the sale of Toshiba's memory chip business, in gestures that could suggest a thaw between Beijing and the U.S. as trade talks resumed in Washington. The Commerce Ministry said Friday ended the probe into imported U.S. sorghum because it's not in the public interest. A day earlier, Beijing cleared the way for a group led by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital to buy Toshiba Corp.'s computer memory chip business. The moves signaled Beijing's willingness to make a deal with Washington amid talks between senior U.S. and Chinese officials aimed at averting a trade war between the world's two biggest economies, analysts say. "I think China is willing to make concessions," said Wang Tao, chief China economist at…


EU Mulls Direct Iran Central Bank Transfers to Beat US Sanctions

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The European Commission is proposing that EU governments make direct money transfers to Iran's central bank to avoid U.S. penalties, an EU official said, in what would be the most forthright challenge to Washington's newly reimposed sanctions. The step, which would seek to bypass the U.S. financial system, would allow European companies to repay Iran for oil exports and repatriate Iranian funds in Europe, a senior EU official said, although the details were still to be worked out. The European Union, once Iran's biggest oil importer, is determined to save the nuclear accord, that U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned on May 8, by keeping money flowing to Tehran as long as the Islamic Republic complies with the 2015 deal to prevent it from developing an atomic weapon. "Commission President Jean-Claude…