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Taco Bell to Drop Kids Meal and Toys by 2014

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Taco Bell Menu

Taco Bell announced they will no longer be offering kid’s meals or the toy’s that come with them.  The items will begin to come off menus starting this month, the company announced, and should be completely gone by January 2014.

“As we continue our journey of being a better, more relevant Taco Bell, kids’ meals and toys simply no longer make sense for us to put resources behind,” Greg Creed, chief executive officer of Taco Bell, said in a statement announcing the move. “What does make sense is concentrating on expanding choices that meet and exceed the diverse needs of consumers of all ages, without losing focus on what makes us great today.”

Taco Bell will be the first national fast food chain to remove kid’s meals. Although not the first to remove the toys. The regional chain Jack-in-the-Box eliminated toys from kids’ meals in 2011.

Fast-food chains spend an estimated $580 million every year on marketing to children younger than 12. Of that, about $340 million is spent on licensing and production of toys, USA Today said, citing the Federal Trade Commission.

This move by Taco Bell is coming at a time when fast food chains are being pressured by parents, health advocates and lawmakers to improve the nutrition of meals they serve to children.

Creed says many parents will like that they no longer will be nagged by their kids to eat at Taco Bell just because of a toy. “It’s not that we don’t like kids,” he says. “We’re empowering parents.”

Consumer-advocacy groups will be applauding Taco Bell for eliminating kids’ menus, but kids’ meals accounted for only a small sliver of overall sales, reports AdAge. Kids’ meals represent 0.5% of its sales, according to the company. Taco Bell posted an estimated $7.5 billion in U.S. system-wide sales in 2012, according to Technomic.

Compare that to McDonald’s, where Happy Meals account for about 10% of U.S. sales. Considering McDonald’s had $35.6 billion in U.S. system-wide sales in 2012, according to Ad Age’s DataCenter, that’s more than $3.5 billion in Happy Meal sales last year alone.

“It’s a constructive step forward that Taco Bell will no longer use toys to encourage kids to pester their parents to go to their restaurants,” says Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the CSPI. “By constantly churning out new toys, fast-food chains have a new angle every six to eight weeks for marketing to kids.”

“Pioneering this change on our menu is a bold move for our industry, and it makes sense for Taco Bell,” said Creed. “We’ll be able to better focus on creating new and inventive items that our customers love.”

Menu items on the current Kid’s Meals Menu will remain available individually on the regular menu, including the Crunchy Taco, Soft Taco, Bean Burrito and Cheese Roll-up.

Have no worries about Taco Bell’s regular menu either. Taco Bell will continue to focus on new menu options that provide a broad range of choices and define the brand, such as the Doritos Locos Tacos®, the Cantina Bell® Menu as well as offering more balanced menu items.

Taco Bell Says Goodbye to Kids Meal

Taco Bell drops its kids meals and toys by 2014.

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Environmentalist. Consumer Tech Journalist. Science Explorer. And, a dreamer. I've been contributing informative news content since 2010. Follow me on all socials!

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Cryptocurreny

Bitcoin Carbon Footprint Is As Massive As The Impact Caused By Las Vegas and Sri Lanka

A study reveals that the carbon footprint produced by bitcoin mining operations is as huge as that of Las Vegas and the entire country of Sri Lanka. Click To Tweet

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A study reveals that the carbon footprint produced by bitcoin mining operations is as huge as that of Las Vegas and the entire country of Sri Lanka and Jordan.
Bitcoin mining uses too much energy it's compared to Las Vegas. Photo: Marco Verch | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

When companies operate their business solely online, one would think that they have a substantially lower environmental impact than those who conduct business traditionally; however, a study suggests that this is not the case.

A case study on bitcoin operations reveals that bitcoin’s carbon footprint — the world’s most robust cryptocurrency — is so massive to the extent that it can rival the environmental impact caused by Las Vegas or a small country like Sri Lanka. According to the study conducted by Christian Stoll, Lena Klaaßen, Ulrich Gallersdörfer from Technical University of Munich and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bitcoin generates about 22 megatons in CO2 emissions each year.

While it is true that cryptocurrencies supposedly depend on online blockchain technology to process transactions like transferring of funds, and doesn’t have a physical infrastructure that is huge enough to cause such amount of carbon emissions, the researchers said that this validation process uses “vast amounts of electricity,” which causes some severe carbon emissions.

During 2018, according to the study, the computing power required to solve a Bitcoin puzzle increased more than 4-fold until October and heightened electricity consumption accordingly. Speculations about the Bitcoin network’s source of fuel have suggested, among other things, Chinese coal, Icelandic geothermal power, and Venezuelan subsidies. To keep global warming below 2°C—as internationally agreed in Paris COP21—net-zero carbon emissions during the second half of the century are crucial.

Bitcoin mining operations use too much electricity

One area of interest for researchers is the effect of bitcoin mining, the process by which people can earn bitcoins without spending money through painstakingly scavenging for small amounts across the internet. To estimate the electricity consumption, the study authors used IP addresses and hardware data from recent IPO filings. It was determined the annual electricity consumption of Bitcoin, as of November 2018, to be 45.8 TWh and estimate that yearly carbon emissions range from 22.0 to 22.9 MtCO2.

The study revealed that “There is no typical size of cryptocurrency mining operations.” The operations range from college students aiming to earn enough funds to pay for their electric bills, to gamers who leverage their graphics cards whenever they are not playing (as reflected in Nvidia’s volatile sales allocated to crypto), all the way up to large-scale crypto-mining farms. These mining operations have consumed enough electricity around the world to compare with electricity consumption like that of Jordan, a small middle-eastern country.

Regulation on mining operations necessary

According to the discussion presented by the researchers, their study sets up baseline information that would lead to a better understanding of the environmental impacts of cryptocurrencies and serves as a guide for a policymaker to develop climate-positive policies. They said that the results of the study could not be overlooked and should be a basis for policymakers to build balancing regulations.

Furthermore, the results were said to highlight the necessity of cost/benefit trade-offs for blockchain applications in general. While the researchers do not invalidate the benefits of cryptocurrencies, the “current debate is focused on anticipated benefits, and more attention needs to be given to costs.” And as the researchers have been pushing, policymakers should not ignore these results.

“Naturally, there are bigger factors contributing to climate change. However, the carbon footprint is big enough to make it worth discussing the possibility of regulating cryptocurrency mining in regions where power generation is especially carbon-intensive,” one of the authors, Christian Stoll, said in a statement.

“To improve the ecological balance, one possibility might be to link more mining farms to additional renewable generating capacity.”

Tip of the iceberg

Meanwhile, the researchers said that their analysis of carbon footprint of bitcoin is just the “tip of the iceberg” as other cryptocurrencies also carry significant carbon footprints upon their shoulders as well. This highlights the need to regulate cryptocurrency mining operations as it has external impacts – specifically to the environment.

“Bitcoin’s power consumption may only be the tip of the iceberg. Including estimates for three other cryptocurrencies adds 30 TWh to our annual estimate for Bitcoin. If we assume correlation to market capitalization and consider only mineable currencies (unlike second layer tokens or coins with other consensus mechanisms), the remaining 618 currencies could potentially add a power demand over 40 TWh. This more than doubles the power consumption we estimate for Bitcoin,” the study concludes.

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Cryptocurreny

Facebook Digital Money — Libra — To Debut Next Week With Huge Backers

Facebook is set to debut its own digital money known as Libra; multiple companies like VISA and Mastercard backs up the new currency. Click To Tweet

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Facebook is set to debut its own digital money known as Libra; multiple companies backs up the new currency.
The new digital money is called Libra. Photo: SEOPlanter | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Rumors have circulated online regarding Facebook releasing its crypto-based currency, and the talks appear to be accurate as multiple companies – from financial companies to booking websites – have signed up to back up the Facebook money.

Reports suggest that multiple companies, including VISA and Mastercard, have signed up to back the digital currency that Facebook is planning to launch by 2020. Other companies include Paypal, the popular money transfer service, Uber, the ride-hailing application, and Booking.com, a travel booking platform.

The cryptocurrency is reportedly said to be named Libra, and the financial and e-commerce companies, venture capitalists and telecommunications firms will invest around $10 million each in a consortium that will govern the digital coin. The consortium, known as Libra Association, was built for Facebook to establish a group of companies that will back its monetary efforts.

Facebook opens a Swiss company to focus on the digital money venture

A few weeks ago, the social networking giant reportedly opened up a company in Switzerland to focus on payment and blockchain technology, similar to the technology that powers bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.

Read: Facebook Opens A Swiss Company To Develop Own Virtual Currency, Report Suggests

People familiar with the matter said that Facebook is planning to unveil the new digital currency next week and will start the operation next year. The money is expected to act as a “stable coin” because it is hinged on government-issued currencies in order to limit the volatility of the value of the coin; an issue which Bitcoin has faced for some time. According to a Swiss publication, Handelszeitung, the Facebook cryptocurrency would be tied to the US dollar and therefore will remain stable unlike bitcoin, which started crashing since 2017.

Owned by Facebook Global Holding II in Ireland, the Swiss company will focus on developing the software and hardware for crypto-related functions like payments, blockchain, analytics, big data, and identity management.

Facebook is hesitant to comment regarding their plans for the digital currency and did not confirm nor denied the reports of its existence. Nonetheless, the news is consistent with an earlier report that Facebook created a team of 50 individuals to develop their cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to be used across the network and on its WhatsApp messaging services.

That design would be geared toward avoiding a speculative frenzy like the one that caused the value of the primary cryptocurrency, bitcoin, to soar and then crash. While Facebook also did not confirm anything related to the leaked project at the time, the California-based company confirmed that they are interested in blockchain technology.

“Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology,” the company said in a statement. “This new small team is exploring many different applications.”

It isn’t known, even to some members of the consortium, how the coin will work or what their roles will be, people familiar with the project said. However, it is also noted that regulatory hurdles are still high for Facebook to overcome with this new project. People familiar with the matter said that the concerns were raised regarding the potential of the new currency to be used by terrorist organizations and money launderers in their operations – something other cryptocurrencies have since been associated with.

Interesting partnership with potential competition

But investors are nonetheless interested in the project as other companies back up the new digital money in hopes of gaining traction with millions of Facebook users around the world. It is interesting that to note that the involvement of VISA and Mastercard to a service that will practically, if successful, would pose a threat to their business as one of their biggest competitors.

Other analysts have seen value with this partnership, however. Still, the lure of Facebook’s nearly 2.4 billion monthly active users was too strong for many companies to pass up. Card companies have long fretted that a technology giant could muscle into their business, creating a payment option that cuts out card networks. Participating in Libra allows them to closely monitor Facebook’s payment ambitions while sharing in the upside should the project gain traction with consumers.

Meanwhile, Facebook will not be having control over the new venture – nor will the consortium. Some of the members could serve as “nodes” along with the system that verifies transactions and maintains records of them, creating a brand-new payments network, according to people familiar with the setup.

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Current Events

13 Police Officers Sue San Francisco For Racial and Gender Discrimination

Police officers from San Francisco are suing the state for implementing a system that discriminates white people against promotions Click To Tweet

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Photo by Matt Popovich on Unsplash

Twelve white police officers and a white lesbian former police officer are suing the state of San Francisco for cases involving gender and racial discrimination against white police officers applying for promotions. The argument is led by a lieutenant whose similar suit 16 years ago netted a $1.6 million settlement.

The case is alleging that the current selection process is discriminatory against white police officers. Specifically, it is accusing the test-scoring and “banding” method of the San Francisco police force to determine eligible applicants for promotion.

All thirteen officers are alleging that they were denied opportunities for promotions due to the current system unfairly favoring minorities such as people of color, women, and other minorities.

The lawsuit reported Wednesday was filed Tuesday at a federal court accusing the city of San Francisco, the Police Department, the Police Commission, Mayor London Breed, former Mayor Mark Farrell, Police Chief Bill Scott, and former Chief Greg Suhr.

The lead plaintiff, Lt. Ric Schiff is leveraging the latest discrimination case against San Francisco with a 2003 lawsuit that he also led in behalf of twelve sergeants who accused the police force of discriminating in favor of black candidates for lieutenant. Schiff was denied a promotion to captain in support of women and minority candidates with lower scores, the suit said.

The 2003 lawsuit was settled by the city for $1.6 million, giving $200,000 to Schiff, who was later promoted to lieutenant. However, the city did not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Historical Context

The 2019 case, which is seemingly rooted from white privilege, stands on the basis of a 1979 settlement over a racial discrimination suit filed by the Black Police Officer’s Association.

In 1973, a group called the Officers for Justice with almost all members were black, filed a lawsuit against the SFPD alleging that it has engaged in a pattern of employment discrimination based on race, sex, and national origin.

“As the suit dragged through the courts, it picked up support from the National Organization for Women, Chinese for Affirmative Action and the League of United Latin American Citizens. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People joined the quit soon after it was filed, and the United States Department of Justice filed a separate action, which was merged with the original suit for trial,” reported in a 1979 article from The New York Times.

Consent Decree settled the lawsuit—a litigation remedy past discrimination cases—in 1979 declaring that the then rules and selection criteria for employment at the SFPD were illegal which included written examinations, minimum height requirements, and the strength test.

Moreover, the 1979 ruling included provisions such as: “Promotion policies will be changed to facilitate [the] movement of minority members and women into command positions” and “in recruiting women and minority members, the city must take advice from organizations that represent them and must advertise in media directed at these recruits.”

As a result, “the court upheld banding as a psychometrically sound procedure and [is] valid as a matter of constitutional and federal law,” cited from Test-Score Banding in Human Resource Selection by Herman Aguinis.

Banding allowed the SFPD to employ and promote individuals by ‘banding’ or grouping promotional test results so that all candidates who scored within a specific range were treated the same, allowing them to be judged on other factors such as experience and language skills.

However, with the current provision emphasizing on the prioritization of applicants from minority groups has left an unfair advantage against white police officers.

Aguinis in his book notes on banding says that “cases typically involve plaintiffs who sue because they believe testing is unfair either to a minority group or individuals. On occasion, majority-group members sue because they do not see an attempt to reduce [the] adverse impact as fair to majority-group applicants. It is an anomaly that banding is proposed as an alternative selection procedure that benefits minority plaintiffs, but in some cases, minority-group members actually object to banding and view it as discriminatory.”

“The city — to this day — has a long-standing practice and custom of discriminating against white males in SFPD promotions to the rank of sergeant, lieutenant, and captain,” M. Greg Mullanax, the officers’ attorney said in the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, John Coté, a spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said the Police Department “uses lawful, merit-based civil service examinations in making promotions.” The system, he said in a statement, is “designed to provide qualified individuals with the chance for advancement while ensuring fair treatment without regard to race, gender, religion, age or other status.”

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