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Topic Reading-Vol.3010-7/8/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Prague celebrates end of coronavirus lockdown with mass dinner party at 1,600-foot table
The Czech Republic seems to move faster than others in Europe and maybe in the world. The Czech government declared a state of emergency on Mar. 12, closed its borders a few days later and issued a nationwide curfew. The small republic with just 10 million population has seen over 12,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and about 350 deaths so far. While dozens of confirmed cases still have been reported daily, the country lifted the months-long lockdown and allowed citizens to have a gathering of as many as 2,500 people at a time. In Prague, the capital city and popular tourist destination, the residents were quick to celebrate the end of the restrictions and had a very long dinner on June 30. Indeed, they created a 500-meter-long table for a massive potluck dinner party. They must have enjoyed the outdoor dinner party without face masks or shields. But are they really in a position to celebrate anything at the moment?
Read the article and watch the video and think about what the republic will be like a few weeks from now.


Topic Reading-Vol.3009-7/7/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
How Covid-19 will change our shopping habits
Because of the coronavirus outbreak, there are a variety of restrictions on shopping, such as social distancing, limited entry to stores, closed changing rooms, intense cleaning procedures, and quarantining goods, not to mention face masks and temperature checking to enter the store. Do these restrictions and requirements discourage you to go shopping, either for fun or function?
Whether you are a recreational shopper or functional shopper, you tend to spend more in stores than online, according to a survey in the US, where online shopping is more common than most other countries. It also found the shoppers make more impulse purchases when they shop in-store than online. Indeed, just looking around stores offers escape, socialization, and fun. So, even though more people choose to buy online, welcoming shoppers, whether recreational or functional, provide incentives for retailers to open their stores. Retailers now need to assure and lure shoppers for a safe and enticing shopping experience, new rules of the game for retail businesses.
Enjoy reading the article and think about what your next window shopping will be like.


Topic Reading-Vol.3008-7/6/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Could a boycott kill Facebook?
On June 17, a coalition consisting of social movement groups initiated a campaign to move the largest ad platform to do more to curb racism. The Stop Hate for Profit campaign demands that Facebook remove racist and hateful content from the most powerful ad platform by boycotting ad placement for the month of July. Maybe because of the recent “act now rather than wait” attitude among US consumer goods and retailers (also to gain bargaining power?), Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Starbucks decided to pull ads from Facebook in July. How will this affect Facebook’s deep pockets? Will small advertisers gain more attention from the viewers?
It seems that an online campaign and decisive movement like walkout, demonstration, and boycott are a powerful combination to change corporate behaviors, especially on the environment, social, and governance issues, or ESG.
Read the article and learn about another movement to support BLM.


Topic Reading-Vol.3007-7/5/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
A bear in Italy has been sentenced to death after attacking hikers. Activists want a stay of execution
A death sentence to a bear? That is what the governor of Trentino, an autonomous province in northern Italy, signed. The bear, which is said to have attacked two men hiking on a trail in Mount Peller, is still at large. But once a suspected bear is caught, its DNA will be tested if it matches the remains and saliva of the bear that attacked the men.
Sounds like a manhunt of a human suspect, doesn’t it?
However, while the local authority is trying to capture, identify, and euthanize the suspected bear, activists demand a thorough investigation of the incident to find if the bear was intimidated or threatened by the victims.
Unfortunately, there were no witnesses of the incident and the bear won’t be able to testify its side of the story. Will there be fair treatment or justice in this case?
Enjoy reading the article and think about how the bear should be treated.


Topic Reading-Vol.3006-7/4/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Simpsons ends use of white actors to voice people of colour
Voice actor/actress is an actor who provides voice-overs or who voices characters in animated films, video games, etc. Indeed, voice actors audibly create the characterizer’s image and perception among the audience. It is not uncommon for a voice actor/actress to play the role of more than one character in animation. Also, some voice actors voiceover a character of a different race, color, nationality, or even gender. So, it had not been overly critical for a white voice actor to play the role of an Indian convenience store owner, black police officer, and the Mexican-American Bumblebee Man in US animated comedy series The Simpsons. However, the recent Black Lives Matter movement, pushed the producer, along with the staff and actors of the animation series, to decide that it will no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.
As reported in Vol.3005 yesterday, it seems that better to act rather than wait is the recent trend in the US where 60% of the population is estimated to be white, not including Hispanic or Latino.
But if only persons of a specific color should play characters of the color in animation or game, should persons of race or sex play characters of the race or sex? Is the character of the person more important than the skill to play the role? Will job postings state the race or color restrictions for the job?
Read the article and think about how far this character issue will go.


Topic Reading-Vol.3005-7/3/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
Whole Foods workers sent home for wearing Black Lives Matter masks
Both are headquartered in Seattle, Washington, whose residents are highly sensitive to social matters. Both are a leader within the respective industry, online retailing and coffee shops. They are Amazon and Starbucks. Amazon owns Whole Foods, an upper scale grocery chain store. Neither Whole Foods nor Starbucks allowed its employees to wear clothes that explicitly shows a political slogan or message, like “Black Lives Matter.” The grocery chain store maintains and enforces the policy while the coffee shop chain bent its policy and supported the BLM movement. Some employees of the grocery chain store whose manager enforced the policy walked out to protest the company’s stance.
It seems like a highly controversial and sensitive issue for management. Clouds are appearing and everyone can see them. The management needs to judge whether they bring a storm that could change the landscape.
Social movements often arise. It is a continuous challenge for the management.
Read the article and think about what you would do if you owned a store with a restrictive dress code.


Topic Reading-Vol.3004-7/2/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
At least 83 people killed during lightning strikes across Indian state
Although nearly 70% of the nation’s population work in farms, India’s farmlands are rarely irrigated and thus depend on rainfalls to water their crops, especially cotton, rice, oilseeds, and other grains. And almost 80% of India’s precipitation comes during the Indian Subcontinental Monsoon, usually between July and September depending on the region. So, the timing for seeding is very critical for farmers. If they seed too late, heavy monsoon rain will wash out the crops and if they seed too early, hot and dry weather will kill the crops. On June 25, a lot of farmers were working outside preparing their fields when lightning struck widely in the north-eastern state of Bihar and killed at least 83 of them. Also, more than 20 people were reported dead in the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh. Even though over 2,000 people are killed by lightning each year in India, it was a big hit to record more than 100 casualties in a single day.
A standard compensation of $5,300 will be paid to each family who has lost their loved ones.
Read the article and imagine what it is like to lose this many people each year only by lightning.


Topic Reading-Vol.3003-7/1/2020

Dear MEL Topic Readers,
The Segway is officially over
Invented by Dean Kamen in 2001, Segway is a two-wheeled, self-balancing personal transporter (PT). It was claimed to revolutionize personal transportation and drew wide attention from the world. However, because of the high price tag, nearly $5,000 then and now $6,000 to $10,000, the innovative transporter never become a popular vehicle, save the police, tourist spots, and warehouses. In 2015, the manufacture of the PT was acquired by Ninebot Inc., a Chinese transportation robotics company. About 140,000 units have been sold in the last two decades, not as many as the inventor and investors had hoped.
Now, the Chinese parent company decided not to produce the personal transporter any longer. Could it have become much more popular if the price had started below $1,000?
Enjoy reading the article and think about why this innovative personal transporter didn’t replace other transporters or vehicles.