New Year's traditions

In Denmark, they save all of their unused dishes and plates until the 31st of December when they affectionately shatter them against the doors of all their friends and family.

In the Philippines, it’s all about the cash. They believe that everything should be round so as to represent coins and bring wealth. Round food, round clothes, as long as it’s round.

In Bolivia, coins are baked into sweets and whoever finds the coins has good luck for the next year.

In Japan, they ring all of their bells 108 times in alignment with the Buddhist belief that this brings cleanness. It’s also considered good to be smiling going into the New Year as it supposedly brings good luck.

Are you surprised at any of the countries' traditions?
Can you think of any more traditions in your country?
Some families have personal traditions, like eating a particular dish or playing a certain game. Does your family have anything like that?
Where do traditions come from, and how do they survive?
Are local traditions important in a globalising world?

Amazon workers strike

On one of the busiest online shopping days of the year, Black Friday, thousands of Amazon employees decided it was also a good day to walk off the job. Warehouse workers in several distribution centers in Germany and Italy took the day off to demand higher wages and better treatment. ​

In addition to asking for a pay raise, the German union Ver.di says Amazon needs to vastly improve the “work culture” and stop pushing employees too hard. The Italian Amazon workers that participated in the Black Friday strike said they want “dignified salaries” more in line with their jobs. They gathered outside one distribution center located in Piacenza.

Why do workers go on strike? Do workers in your country often go on strike?
Automation has made many people work longer and harder. Why is that?
What does the union general mean when he says “work is not a commodity”? Do you agree?
What are potential solutions to the issue of overwork?

Is McDonald's a foreign agent?

A Russian politician proposed labeling American fast food chains like McDonald's and KFC as foreign agents, following recently passed legislation which provides the same classification for international news outlets.

Boris Chernyshov, a 26-year-old Moscow lawmaker in the federal Russian Assembly, described advertisements made by American restaurants for Russian consumers as manipulative and nontransparent about their longterm health effects. The State Duma deputy added that chains like McDonald’s, available across Russia, were contributing to the decline of the nation's cuisine, according to local reports.

The latest measure to classify news outlets like CNN and Washington Post as foreign agents followed the U.S. requiring Russian outlets like RT and Sputnik to register under the same label. Not even three days later, the Russian lawmaker took the tit-for-tat a step further by once again pulling food chains into the feud.

Can you describe what is happening in Russia and the USA according to this article?
Do you think fast food is good for your health? Should the government restrict it?
What do you know about Russian-American relations?
What do you expect will happen in the future between Russia and America?

Japanese KFC Christmas tradition

Every Christmas, Ryohei Ando gathers his family together for a holiday tradition. Just like their father did as a child, his two children will reach deep into a red-and-white bucket and pick out the best piece of fried chicken they can find.

Yes, it’s a Merry KFC Christmas for the Ando family. It may seem odd anywhere outside Japan, but Ando’s family and millions of others would never let a Christmas go by without Kentucky Fried Chicken. 

“My kids, they think it’s natural,” says Ando, a 40-year-old in the marketing department of a Tokyo sporting goods company.

Every Christmas season, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to Kentucky Fried Chicken, in what has become a nationwide tradition.

What do you think Americans think of Japanese people celebrating Christmas with KFC?
Are there any other surprising traditions you know about?
Are there other companies that seek to profit from tradition? Is it a good idea for companies to do so?

India weighs in on net neutrality

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman R.S. Sharma has called for the Internet being kept open and free, and not cannibalised.

“No one owns the Internet... so, it should be open and accessible to everyone,” Mr. Sharma said, suggesting that service providers should not indulge in gate-keeping of this important platform.

The TRAI issued the much-awaited recommendations on Net neutrality and has sought to bar service providers from any discriminatory practice on Internet access.

Mr. Sharma said the Internet was an important platform for the country, especially in the context of innovation, start-ups, online transactions, government applications and the Digital India program. “So, it is important that the platform is kept open and free and not cannibalised,” Mr. Sharma said.

How would you define net neutrality?
Why would some governments or companies oppose net neutrality?
How would changes to net neutrality effect the future?
Do you think your country would ever roll back laws protecting net neutrality?

Billionaires to consolidate media

Critics of media consolidation are decrying an announcement that the media company Meredith Corp., with a $650 million boost from conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch, will buy Time Inc.—which owns TimeFortunePeople, and Sports Illustrated magazines—for an estimated $2.8 billion.

In a statement announcing the all-cash deal, Meredith Corp. insisted that Koch Equity Development—a subsidiary of Koch Industries, the billionaire brothers' company that's largely been built through investments in oil, natural gas, and chemicals—"will not have a seat on the Meredith Board and will have no influence on Meredith's editorial or managerial operations."

In your own words, please describe the situation outlined in the article
Do you believe that shareholders will not take a seat on the board? Why would the buyers say such a thing?
Is a free press important? Why (or why not)?
Do you think the magazines would be allowed to publish news critical of their shareholders?

Movie titles lost in translation

David O. Russell’s crime drama “American Hustle” could be a big winner at the Academy Awards. But for the movie’s many international fans, it may take a little longer to realize it. In their country, there is simply no word that captures the true essence of “Hustle.”

So in Israel the film is known in Hebrew as “American Dream.” In France, it’s translated as “American Bluff.” In Argentina, it’s “American Scandal.” In Portugal, it’s “American Sting.” In Quebec, it’s “American Scam.” In Spain, it’s the “Great American Scam.” And in Turkey, it’s merely known as “Trickster.”

Arie Barak, whose public relations company represents the studios of Fox, Disney and Sony in Israel, said that in this era of globalization the trend is to try to stick as much as possible to the original title, particularly with blockbusters and well-branded superheroes like Batman and Superman. Other times, a literal translation does the trick just fine.

Have you heard the term 'hustle' before? How would you define it?
Are there other words (in English or in your language) that are hard to translate?
Globalisation is having a large effect on the movie industry. How is globalisation effecting your industry?