Starbucks staff needed racism training

Earlier this week Starbucks closed thousands of its coffee shops across the US so that its staff could receive so-called “unconscious bias” training, so they’d be able to recognise and overcome the ingrained prejudices most of us don’t even know we have. Why was this necessary and could it work to help reduce racism?

What prompted the training?

In Philadelphia, USA about a month ago two African-American men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, went to a Starbucks for a meeting but got there a bit early. So they sat down, one asked where the toilets were, before buying any coffee or snacks. The result was that less than a few minutes later the white Starbucks employee rang 911 (equivalent to 999 in the USA). The police arresting them was filmed on someone’s mobile phone and got a huge amount of hits on social media. The two men spoke to ABC News about their experience.


Will the training really work?

A recent report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the UK found “mixed results” for sessions aimed at reducing bias and “limited” evidence that they change behaviour.

Other people have criticised the unconscious bias training as implying that the racism is a psychological issue when it really should have been getting staff to participate in anti-racist education that looks at the historical roots of the problem.

When it comes to stopping racism like what happened in Philadelphia occurring again perhaps the rules should change, so that people aren’t told to leave if they sit down before buying their cup of coffee and are allowed to use the toilet without making purchases.

Help the environment, stop consuming meat and dairy

It makes absolute sense. New research has shown that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. This is hugely important because the loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.

When you also factor in that new analysis shows that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.


Other interesting discoveries from the latest research were:

  1. Freshwater fish farming, which provides two-thirds of such fish in Asia and 96% in Europe, was thought to be relatively environmentally friendly but has a large impact. “You get all these fish depositing excreta and unconsumed feed down to the bottom of the pond, where there is barely any oxygen, making it the perfect environment for methane production,” a potent greenhouse gas, the report’s author explained.
  2. Grass-fed beef, thought to be relatively low impact, was still responsible for much higher impacts than plant-based food. “Converting grass into [meat] is like converting coal to energy. It comes with an immense cost in emissions.”

You should maybe think twice before you order a steak with a glass of milk!



We need to understand vaping properly as it is a growing market and the number of adults vaping is growing by a staggering rate: from about seven million worldwide in 2011 to 35 million in 2016. Meanwhile the market research group Euromonitor estimates that the number of adults who vape will reach almost 55 million by 2021.

e cigarette

What is vaping?

It is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but rather an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor, that actually consists of fine particles.

How does a vaping device like an e-cigarette work?

They generally consist of a mouthpiece, a battery, a cartridge for containing the e-liquid or e-juice, and a heating component for the device that is powered by a battery. When the device is used, the battery heats up the heating component, which turns the contents of the e-liquid into an aerosol that is inhaled into the lungs and then exhaled.

What is in the e-liquid?

The e-liquid in vaporizer products usually contains a propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin-based liquid with nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals and metals, but not tobacco.

Are they dangerous?

The health risks and benefits of using these relatively new devices are still being evaluated. However, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that the chemicals in these products may be dangerous. Many of the particles in the e-liquid contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart disease. The World Health Organisation has made the following points:

  • The long-term effects are unknown
  • Nicotine in the liquid that is vapourised in an e-cigarette is addictive
  • Users replacing the liquid in refillable e-cigarettes might spill the product on their skin, possibly leading to nicotine poisoning
  • Some sweeter flavours of e-cigarettes are irritants, potentially causing inflammation of the airways

Being Money Savvy

Next week students will start learning about money and careers in their PSHCE lessons at school. As so often is the case a timely news story will demonstrate to those young people why they must be money savvy or face the consequences.

In 2015 Jerome Rogers was 19 years old and living with his mum and her partner. BBC 3 reports on the story of how the pressure of debt drove him to his take his own life.

jerome rogers

The story helps you learn about debt, credit, interest rates, gig economy and zero-hours contracts.





66.4% to 33.6% vote in favour of overturning the abortion ban in Ireland

Watching how people debated the change in abortion law in Ireland showed the age old arguments about freedom for the woman against the right to life of an unborn child. 66.4% of voters wanted to repeal a part of the Irish constitution called the Eighth Amendment, which says an unborn child has the same right to life as a pregnant woman which effectively bans terminations.

The vote will possibly affect those north of the border too, as Northern Ireland has the strictest abortion laws in the UK. In Northern Ireland even in cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality these would not be grounds for a legal termination.

In England there is talk to amend the law on abortion even further so that women could take the abortion pill at home rather than having to administer it at a clinic, which is very demeaning if you have to travel on public transport straight afterwards.  Christian and Muslim arguments about abortion are interestingly varied and sometimes not what you’d expect.


Does Rita Ora belittle lesbian feelings with her new song ‘Girls’?

In the chorus of Rita Ora’s new song ‘Girls’ she sings:

“Sometimes, I just wanna kiss girls, red wine, I just wanna kiss girls.”

Some people are critical of these lyrics because it implies that you need to drink wine to kiss girls, and it basically undermines bisexuality as a serious thing. When the first criticisms and questions were directed at Rita Ora she wouldn’t confirm that the song was about her relationship experiences with people like Cara Delevingne which felt a shame when she could have immediately dealt with the bad feelings about the song. “If people look at it like that, it’s very narrow-minded and I don’t think that’s what this record is. I don’t think that that even matters,” she said.

Well today she has spoken up and said,  “I have had romantic relationships with women and men throughout my life and this is my personal journey.”

A Public Health Disaster in Austria

In 2015 Austria passed a law, like in most EU countries, to ban smoking in bars and restaurants. The law as supposed to be implemented from May this year but the new conservative Austrian government have just scrapped the plans causing outrage from the medical profession.

Dr Manfred Neuberger, professor emeritus at the Medical University of Vienna, says, “The decision is irresponsible. It was a victory for the tobacco industry. The new government made Austria into the ashtray of Europe.”

He’s not far wrong. A survey of 26 countries by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2013 said Austria had the highest smoking prevalence of children aged 15, a position it held since 1994.

Dr Thomas Szekeres, the head of the Austrian and Vienna Chamber of Physicians is baffled by the government’s move, “We know smoking causes severe heart attacks, cancer and we know that in countries where smoking is not allowed in restaurants and bars, employees are protected and the whole population turned out to be healthier.”

In PSHCE lessons at school we talk not only about the health risks of smoking but also its effects on the whole of society.

The annual costs of smoking to wider society


With all these horrific facts about smoking you do start to wonder why people are foolish enough to start in the first place. Some people still see smoking as enjoyable, and a social activity.  However, it is never too late to quit.

Quitting the cigarettes will help you