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Strange Brew Of Terrorism, From Persian Gulf To London Bridge

The aftermath at London Bridge
The aftermath at London Bridge

"Enough is enough."

Theresa May's remarks after Islamists killed seven and wounded dozens Saturday evening in London — the UK's third major terror attack in three months — amounted to both a new message and a new tone. The British Prime Minister took aim at the "evil ideology of Islamist extremism" and boldly took a swipe at the political establishment (to which she belongs) for having allowed "far too much tolerance of extremism" in the UK.

"We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are," May said. "Things need to change."

The strong words were also smart politics, likely to resonate among increasingly angry and anxious British voters just days before national elections Thursday. A report published today in Le Monde quotes several Londoners calling for their leaders to "get tough." One woman, who lives just next to Borough Market, where the terrorists Saturday night shouted "this is for Allah" during their stabbing rampage, says "we're not going to take it for much longer." The woman added that Britons "never have the right to speak their mind" and "let themselves be pushed around."

But the deeper challenge implicit in Theresa May's remarks — which carries far beyond Britain to the many other countries targeted by Islamic terrorism — is that stopping radicalized individuals and potential terrorists is merely treating the proverbial symptom. Defeating the disease, the "evil ideology" that drives them, is the hard part. Opposing, undermining, eradicating an ideology is a long and subtle process. It requires going after those who promote and spread the ideology without threatening democratic precepts as freedom of speech and religion.

In the case of Islamic terrorism, the ideology goes well beyond organizations such as ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the London attack, or al-Qaeda.For years, and especially after terror attacks, experts remind us about the toxic results of Western countries' ties to the founders and funders of terrorism in and around the Arabian peninsula. The main doctrine fueling the "evil ideology" Theresa May denounced has long been identified as Wahhabism, which originates directly from Saudi Arabia and is intimately linked to the country's ruling Saud dynasty. And yet, just last week, the British press reported that an inquiry into terror funding, and said to focus on Saudi Arabia, was likely to be shelved by the government. Perhaps it is a coincidence that this should happen shortly after Britain, like the U.S. and others, approved a multi-billion-dollar arms export deal to Saudi Arabia.

Such is the context that the latest piece of "terrorism" news arrived on our screens: the surprise announcement this morning that Saudi Arabia and several other Sunni Muslim countries were cutting their ties with Qatar over its support for terrorism, which seemed to be a reference both to Muslim Brotherhood organizations and to regional Shia power Iran. Connected or not to the dramatic events that unfolded in London, the move unmistakably looks like a case of the pot calling the kettle black. One way or another, the British and the West should think twice about drinking from that brew again.

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Tea Be Damned! Inside The Massive Starbucks Bet On China's Shift To Coffee

A gigantic and multi-faceted new location near Shanghai epitomizes the American giant's ambition to quench China's growing but still-nascent thirst for coffee.

Photo of a Starbucks coffee shop in China

Starbucks coffee in Yangshuo, China

Frédéric Schaeffer

Updated Dec. 7, 2023 at 4:05 p.m.

SHANGHAI — The town of Kunshan, an hour's drive from Shanghai, is the launchpad of Starbucks's latest Chinese offensive. In mid-September, the American giant inaugurated an 80,000 square meter site that includes a roasting plant, an integrated distribution centre, and an immersive experience centre.

Grandly named as the "China Coffee Innovation Park", this $220 million project is the Seattle-headquartered company's biggest investment outside the United States. And the Kunshan model of vertical integration, from bean to cup, has no equivalent anywhere else in the world for the Starbucks group.

The site is a symbol of Starbucks’s hefty ambitions in China – it plans to open a location in the country every nine hours between now and 2025. The aim is to have more than 9,000 shops in 300 Chinese cities by then, compared with 6,500 today. "The 9,000 stores are just a milestone", said Laxman Narasimhan, the company's new boss, who rushed to China at the end of May in the wake of his appointment.

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Is the competition getting tougher? Has the end of the China’s "Zero-COVID" policy failed to deliver on its promise of an economic rebound? Is Washington pushing its multinationals to reduce their dependence on China?

Starbucks doesn't care. In the land of tea-drinkers, coffee is enjoying a meteoric rise, becoming a trendy drink for a young, urban middle class sensitive to Western influences.

The China focus comes amid news this week that McDonalds is launching a new kind of cafe-restaurant: CosMc's, which could be a direct competitor worldwide to Starbucks, serving customizable drinks like "s'mores and cold brew", "churro frappes", and "tumeric latte."

Some 10,000 CosMc locations are planned for opening over the next four years, with Starbucks expanding to 55,000 stores worldwide by 2030.

All of this speaks to coffee fever globally, which really began in China just a decade ago, and now registering double-digit growth rates that have manufacturers salivating.

"We expect China to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest market we have in the world," Narasimhan predicts.

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