What You Need to Know About the Crisis in the Central African Republic

Preventing the next genocide in a country wrought with conflict
 

In an effort to boost sales across the U.K., Coca Cola recently issued a report that discussed bold new strategies to get consumers to put down boring beverages like “water” and “tea,” and turn to a refreshing, sugary alternative. Because their research found that a quarter of beverages are consumed before 10 a.m., they are now looking for ways to convince customers that starting their day off with a soda is somehow a good idea. The report asks, "How do we motivate people to make soft drinks, like smoothies, juices and other on-the-go products, part of their morning ritual in the same way as tea or coffee?" (In a follow-up statement, Coke said that they are actually referring to smoothies and juice as breakfast drinks, although that's not exactly how the initial report was worded.) Why not just convince people to exclusively drink Coke as their only source of hydration? What could possibly go wrong? … Discuss

 

Early contender for the best story of 2014 here. The Loro Parque Zoo on the Spanish island of Tenerife was running a routine training drill about what to do if a gorilla escapes its cage, which involved having an employee dress up in a gorilla suit and run around the zoo. Sounds like quite the work environment. However, the zoo's all-staff communication must need some work, because one other employee was on a very different page. He's the zoo veterinarian, and when he saw the gorilla-suited employee (who must have been doing a fabulous job), he was under the impression that the apeocalypse had begun, and took matters into his own hands, shooting his fellow co-worker with a tranquilizer dart intended for a 400-lb. gorilla.

The employee dropped like a stone (just imagine how heroic the veterinarian must have felt at first) and had to be taken to the hospital, where he made a full recovery, and the rest of the zoo can rest assured that if a gorilla ever does escape its cage, at least one person knows what to do ... Discuss

 

The Hidden Cost of the Winter Olympics

The Olympics accomplish a lot of good, but is the cost too high? Read More
 

Very scary, very sad news out of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, which has been taken over by pro-Russian militants. Reports are saying that Jews are being forced to register with their government, provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee "or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated." The information was printed on leaflets and distributed to the city's synagogue, all bearing the name of Denis Pushilin, who's styling himself as the chairman of Donetsk's interim (maybe) government. The leaflet said the registration was necessitated by leaders in the local Jewish community who supported Stepan Bandera, who fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II. "We don't know if these notifications were distributed by pro-Russian activists or someone else, but it's serious that it exists," Olga Reznikova, a 32-year-old Jewish resident of Donetsk, told USA Today. "The text reminds of the fascists in 1941" ...

Update: Pushilin has denied any connection with the flyers. Whether they were distributed by a rogue faction of his government, a pro-Russia splinter group or someone else altogether remains unclear. Secretary of State John Kerry says that his department is taking the leaflets seriously, saying "In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable—it's grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable." Discuss

 

First of all, who knew you could ban certain types of emails? France did, that's who—and they're doing it. Specifically, they're banning checking your work email between the hours of 6pm and 9am, making it legally mandatory to leave your work at work and focus on home while you're home. It's all part of France's "35-hour work week," which they implemented in 1999, but has become difficult to enforce following the smartphone revolution. Well, smartphones or not, if you work from home in France, you'd better be prepared to pay the price.

In the meantime, according to Gawker, the average American works 200 more hours per year than the average French worker ... Discuss

 

Prawns, which you probably know as shrimp, are sold by the frozen bag load at massive grocers around the world like Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco. And a new study released by the Guardian today says those shrimp are farmed by human slaves under conditions almost too chilling for words. It's a lengthy, impossibly sad article, but the long and short of it is this: Escaped slaves described 20-hour days with no pay, regular torture, beatings and even executions at the hands of the world's largest prawn farmer, Thailand's Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods. "They kept me chained up, they didn't care about me or give me any food," said a former monk-turned slave. "They sold us like animals." Another former slave said he'd seen at least twenty executions, including one man who he says was tied up between two different boats and pulled apart.

When reached for comment, CP Foods' UK manager Bob Miller said "We're not here to defend what is going on ...We know there's issues with regard to the [raw] material that comes in [to port], but to what extent that is, we just don't have visibility" ... Discuss