McDonalds is trying to go green!

You guys have probably been to a McDonald’s outlet before and you have probably had a Happy Meal. For those of you who haven’t, a Happy Meal is a child meal, and comes with food, a drink and a toy. Some of the toys were really cool! Like characters from The Lego Movie, movie cups from different Disney movies, Hot Wheels, and Mario! Pretty ingenious, because kids were clamouring for these Happy meals to get the surprise toy! However, the one not so great thing they all have in common is that they are made out of plastic.

McDonald’s recently announced that it will Go Green with its Happy Meal toys, and will now be giving a soft toy, or 3D models to make out of paper, or a book instead of toys made out of plastic. This effort will start in May 2020 in the UK and Ireland, and Mc Donald’s has announced that it hope to have phased out all these toys by 2021.

What does this mean? This means that 3,000 metric tons of plastic will be phased out by McDonalds!

What about other fast food chains? Burger King has already started this process, as has Starbucks.

What’s the coolest part of this story? 2 schoolgirls in the UK started this effort and got 400,000 people to sign it so McDonald’s would sit up and take notice.

Written by Sunaina Murthy

End of an Era

News: The world’s second-richest man, Bill Gates, Founder of computer software giant Microsoft has stepped down from the Board of Directors of the Company at the age of 64.

Background: Bill Gates founded Microsoft in the late 1970’s when he dropped out of college. The company, which he founded with his friend Paul Allen made it big when Gates signed a deal with IBM in 1980 to create the MS-DOS operating system (this operating system came before Microsoft Windows). When Microsoft became a public company in 1986, Bill Gates, who was just 31 at the time became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire!

In 2000, Bill Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft and in 2014, he resigned as Chairman of the Board of Directors, appointing Satya Nadella as the company’s new CEO.

What is he busy with: Bill Gates, along with his wife Melinda set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation many years ago to devote a large part of their time and money to charitable activities around the world and the Foundation has been actively involved in many different social initiatives. In 2018, Bill and Melinda Gates became the biggest philanthropists (people who give a lot of money and time to charity) in the United States by giving nearly 5 billion dollars to their foundation.

Bill Gates has made his decision to leave the Board of Microsoft entirely in order to dedicate more of his time and resources to his foundation and to do more philanthropic work around the world. Bill Gates has also stepped down from the board of fellow billionaire Warren Buffet’s company Berkshire Hathaway on which he has served since 2004.

It truly is the end of an era, with Bill Gates stepping away from the company he founded over 40 years ago, but he will continue to remain involved with Microsoft and act in an advisory capacity for many years to come.

Currentkids highly recommends the Bill Gates story on Netflix – Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates

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Written by: Disha Mirchandani. Disha is a former lawyer turned freelance content writer. She is a fitness enthusiast and amateur aerialist with her own fitness photo-blog as well.

Coronavirus Update! Here’s more on the virus, what you can do about it, and how it is affecting the stock markets.

Credit: emojiisland

Coronavirus Update: The illness caused by coronavirus has been spreading around the world. It seems like you can’t go anywhere without people talking about it, vacation plans are up in the air, stores are running out of hand sanitiser (yes really!), and larger events are being cancelled. People are trying not to be at large parties where the chance of coming into contact with people who are sick are higher. Schools have asked parents to inform them about travel plans.

Is this a lot of hype? Well, this is what we know. It is a strong virus. It spreads through droplets released into the air by infected people when they cough or sneeze. A lot of those who are infected experience symptoms like the flu and do recover. Those infected and those who are suspected of being infected are being quarantined (kept apart from others) for two weeks so that they don’t have a chance of spreading the virus to others.

Why are immigration lines at airports empty? People are preferring to cancel travel if they can, as they don’t want to be on long plane rides with people who might be sick. People at airports are being screened for a fever when they land.

Why is everyone so worried about this if it’s like the flu? That’s because (1) not everyone who is infected with the virus has the symptoms, and so can unknowingly infect others, and (2) the infection can be quite severe in those whose immunity is not very strong. And some of these people have died from this infection. We do not currently have any specific medicine or a vaccine for this illness, although researchers are working very hard to test out different candidates in clinical trials.

Should you be worried about this? At CurrentKids, we firmly believe that there’s nothing you can solve by worrying! Here’s what you CAN do:

1.Wash your hands with soap and water.

2. Avoid touching your face (the virus gets into your respiratory system from there).

3. Avoid touching railings and elevator doors and things like that in public places.

4. Stay a safe distance (about 3 feet) away from people you know have a cold and cough.

5. People around the world are starting to avoid shaking hands – maybe a simple namaste will do!

6. Tell your parents if you don’t feel well, and get checked by the doctor. The first symptoms? A dry cough and fever.

The impact of the coronavirus on business. Because governments have been trying to contain the spread of this illness, factories in China (where the virus is thought to have originated) were shut for weeks. China actually supplies materials to factories all around the world. Many companies also have manufacturing units in China. China has not been able to complete these orders. As a result, the companies who use them as suppliers will not be able to make the quantities of product they had planned for. Some companies manufacture in other countries, and as the virus has been spreading, it has been affecting business across the world.

As a result, the global stock markets have been falling. Why is this? The price of a stock (share of a company that people buy and sell or trade) is decided upon by a few factors, including what people think the company is capable of producing or providing.

Manufacturing problems: Let’s do this through an example. Apple, Inc, the makers of the iPhone, iPad, MacBooks and other products and services, manufactures a lot of its devices in China. It has warned its investors that because factories in China were shut for so long they will not have enough iPhones to sell to meet the demand for iPhones. So people have calculated that Apple’s potential to earn money was higher before the coronavirus hit than it is right now, and what they are willing to pay for each share of Apple, Inc, will also be less today than it was before the news hit. This has happened to a lot of companies across the world as many companies get parts from China and also manufacture in China.  Therefore, stock markets across the world are falling in value. So people who have invested in shares of these companies are suffering because their investments are then losing value every day!

Starbucks Stock Price, Monday March 9, 2020, in $

Selling problems: Those companies who sell products and services in China (e.g. Starbucks) are also suffering as they don’t have that many customers anymore. And as the infection rate across the globe increases, their business will continue to suffer as people will start to avoid going out. This has started to happen and is being reflected in their stock price. See the Starbucks stock price chart above. The price that people are willing to pay for a share of Starbucks was $87 on February 10, but on March 9, it is $75.31.

Travel restrictions: Because of the strong effort by most governments to control the spread of the virus, people have started to avoid travelling unless it is absolutely necessary. They want to avoid being on the plane for long periods of time to reduce their chance of catching the virus. In addition they want to avoid waiting in long lines at the airport to be screened for a fever. As a result, airline companies and hotels are really suffering. They don’t have many takers for their services!

Oil: In addition, Saudi Arabia, one of the largest oil producers, just announced that it is cutting the price of oil as there will be too much supply as reduced manufacturing and travel means less oil consumption. The fall in oil prices has negatively affected all the oil producing countries as suddenly they won’t be able to generate as much revenue as they had anticipated. This reduction in prices will be positive for the countries buying oil from Saudi Arabia.

So who can benefit from this? Companies who are selling products and services that can help people against the virus – those selling hand santizer, flu medicines, masks, vitamins, diagnostic services. These are some of the products that people are buying and making sure they use! As a result, the sellers of these products have increased the price of these products!

Stay tuned for more on the impact of the coronavirus.

Written by: Sunaina Murthy




Financial Literacy for kids: A video on Saving and Investing

This is Part 2 of the series that money managers DSP have put together to explain, very simply, some options for what you can do with your money – you can save it, or you can invest it, and they explain the difference between these options.

Take a look and let us know what you think!


What is Inflation?

Welcome to a new series that professional money managers, DSP, have put together for you and me. Check in here on Thursdays for a video that will explain tricky financial terms and the basics of investing. We can all be a little smarter about handling money!

Let us know what you think!

Carlos Ghosn snuck away from Japan! Who is he and why did he do this?

Who is Carlos Ghosn? Carlos Ghosn was the Chairman of the alliance of car companies Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault SA. Nissan and Mitsubishi are Japanese car manufacturers, while Renault is a French company. He is credited with turning around these companies, by cutting costs, forming an alliance between the three companies, and sharing costs and purchases across the alliance. Under him, the alliance reached the number 2 spot globally, in terms of sales, behind Volkswagen AG of Germany.

Got it. So what happened? He was arrested in November 2018, as the Japanese accused him of reporting only half of what he earned, and therefore, paying less in taxes. After spending about 100 days in jail, he was released on bail, and has been under investigation ever since. Like on a crime show, he has been tailed by policemen in plain clothes, his every movement being reported on. Magically though, on December 29, 2019, he escaped from Japan with help from private security officers, and public transportation, a desperately daring adventure using planes, trains and automobiles! As an illustration of the drastic nature of this escapade, the last leg of his journey was in a black box from a car to a private airplane in Japan, as cargo. The black box wasn’t x-rayed as it was too large to fit into the machine, and no one opened it up and looked inside!

Where is he now? He is in Lebanon.

What happens next? He is wanted by the Japanese authorities. He issued a statement yesterday, saying, ‘I did not flee justice. I fled injustice and persecution’. He says he wants a fair trial and was not going to get that in Japan.

Written by: Sunaina Murthy. Sunaina is a biotechnologist, greedy reader, and amateur photographer.

Getting it Dunzo!

People in urban Indian cities are busy, busy, busy. They are constantly buzzing around – going to work, getting groceries done, doing a million errands, and forever having to multi-task! Now, there is another rapidly-growing army buzzing around the city on bikes to get things checked on your neverending ‘To Do’ List – The Dunzo army

Dunzo, a new app, is fast becoming a verb (“Just Dunzo It) which is the ultimate test of success. Here is how it works. Once you assign them a task on the app, Dunzo’s bikers with their bright green helmets with a lightning bolt logo, zip around the city to get the job done, usually in under an hour. They get your groceries, drop off documents, pick up parcels, deliver food and do many, many small tasks that eat into your time. It’s super simple and super convenient. 

The app was created by Kabeer Biswas in 2014. He had moved to Bengaluru for work and didn’t know his way around the city. Often, he wished he had someone to help him do all the small stuff. Cleverly, he decided He would do this for others and see if it was something that they would pay for. He began a small Whatapp group, and people requested things like picking up medicine and dropping them to their office or getting their car battery changed while they were at work. It became so popular that a light bulb went off in Kabir’s head to create something more concrete and soon, Dunzo was born. 

Like all startups, they were not immediately profitable, but the company has started making the bucks now. Want some impressive numbers? Here goes!

  • Google invested $12.3 million in the company. It was the first direct investment by Google in an Indian startup. 
  • The app does two million transactions a month across nine cities. 
  • They plan to be in India’s top 25 cities within two years. 
  • 80% of their tasks are entirely automated because they built a cool algorithm that mostly works everything out. 

In an interview with CNN Business, Kabir Biswas sums it up perfectly by saying that Dunzo is “a browser on top of the real world, where you can transact, courier, and commute from one place to another without ever having to step into the real world.”

So the next time you need that bank document picked up from your house, signed and given to the bank manager, you have to literally just lift a finger and press Dunzo and it’s done! 

Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.

Heliogen: Secret Breakthroughs and Solar Surprises!

Credit: Popular Mechanics

Heliogen, a super-secret clean energy company supported by billionaire Bill Gates, has just announced that it has made a breakthrough in the field of solar energy.

What’s That? Solar energy is the energy created by the Sun, which can be used to power different things here on earth.

Heliogen says that they have managed to come up with a way to generate heat above 1000 degrees Celsius using mirrors and artificial intelligence. The technology works like a solar oven and can create the extremely high temperatures required to make materials that humans need, like cement, steel, and glass.

So what’s the big deal? This breakthrough is significant because it produces clean energy in large quantities, and this clean energy is less expensive than that obtained from fossil fuels. That this can be done on a large scale will allow solar energy to replace traditional energy forms in a more widespread manner. So industries like cement and steel-making, that contribute upto one-fifth, or 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions can use this new technology to power them. Pretty cool!

How are they doing this? This has been achieved through the use of artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors all being pointed at one spot. The AI software trains the mirrors to concentrate the solar beams to generate that high temperature.

Are there other companies that are trying to do this as well? Yes! One in Europe is called Solpart. They have also been able to generate enough power to try and fuel a cement plant.

What happens next? Heliogen’s team needs to demonstrate that the energy it generates is able to power cement plants. This would be proof-of-concept, or proof that this idea or concept can work.

Both teams need to show that they can also store the solar power so that there will be enough energy for industry even when the sun isn’t shining!

Heliogen’s Dream: The company’s dream is to use its technology to create a form of clean hydrogen without the use of carbon dioxide. This could then be used as fuel for airplanes and trucks, which will change the future of travel as well!

Adapted from CNN and Wired

Written by: Disha Mirchandani. Disha is a former lawyer turned freelance content writer. She is a fitness enthusiast and amateur aerialist with her own fitness photo-blog as well.

Can Taylor Swift be banned from performing her own songs?

I heard Taylor Swift’s in the middle of a controversy again. Is this true?

Yup. You heard right. 

What happened this time? 

Taylor is having a very public fight with Scooter Braun, manager of her musical nemesis Kanye West, and Scott Borchetta, former owner of her music label. Recently, Scooter took over her old recording label, Big Machine Label Group, from Scott for $300 million. She claims that the company, who owns the rights to the masters of her older material, is not allowing her to perform those songs at the American Music Awards later this month where she will be named ‘Artist of the Decade’. She claims that they are doing this because it is considered to be a ‘re-recording’ which is not technically allowed as per her contract. 

Isn’t that petty? 

Probably. Though this kind of clause is in many artists’ contracts, it is never really enforced. Usually, the quality of a televised event is nowhere near the original, so it’s not considered a problem – and in fact after events like the Awards ceremony, there is usually a spike in real sales, as more people hear and like the music. This benefits those who have the rights to the music. 

Why all the fuss then? 

The backstory is that Taylor was furious when Scooter took over Big Machine as he also bought the rights to her music, when she was not given the same chance to buy the rights to her own music. 

She declared on a chat show that she plans to re-record her old songs next year after her contract is over. This means that she is going to take control over the new masters, and therefore, gain the rights to earn money from them as well. 

She claims that Scooter and Scott have said that they will only agree to her performing her old songs at the AMAs IF she does NOT re-record them. She also claims that they are blocking a Netflix documentary about her for the same reason. 

That’s blackmail! 

If it’s true, then yes. Scott and Scooter deny all of it, stating that they had never said anything about preventing Taylor from singing her back catalogue of songs and that she had misunderstood the terms. The company also stated that they were close to sorting things out, but Taylor decided to take the whole thing public by calling on her fanbase to support her against Scott.  

Do you mean the hot and trending #IStandWithTaylor tag?

That’s the one. It has gained so many supporters and is boosting her popularity to even greater astronomical heights if that is possible! The final act of this drama will depend now on when, the proverbial fat lady, will sing!

Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.

Kylie Jenner sells a stake in her company and becomes a millionaire!

Credit: PopBuzz

The News: 22 year old reality TV star and beauty entrepreneur Kylie Jenner has just succeeded in selling 51% of her company, Kylie Cosmetics, to beauty company Coty, for a cool $600 million! Not bad for a 4 year old company that sold $177 million worth of cosmetics (makeup) in the last 12 months! This means that Coty thinks that her beauty business is worth about $1.2 billion, or that the valuation of Kylie’s beauty business is $1.2 billion!

Why would Coty want to buy such a large stake in Kylie Cosmetics and Kylie Skin? Coty owns makeup brands CoverGirl and Sally Hansen, was looking for a way to get younger people to buy its products. Kylie has a whopping 22.4 million followers on Instagram, a number that some people estimate increases by 7,000 followers a day! Forbes magazine reports that she has close to 270 million followers across all social media platforms. She is able to influence the buying decisions of many young women across the globe! Coty gets access to this base of people through its purchase of such a large stake of Kylie’s beauty business.

What does Kylie get from this deal? She gets to take home a profit! The money that she earned while modelling is what she used to start her business four years ago. The value of that investment has increased, and she is able to take some ‘off the table’, while still retaining a major stake in her company. She will still come up with new product ideas and work on the creative aspects of the brand.

Sounds like a win-win!

Written by: Sunaina Murthy