September 17, 2020

According to data collected and analyzed by Yelp, nearly 163,700 businesses have closed since the start of the pandemic in March. This marks an increase of 23 percent from July when Yelp last released statistics about closures. To make matters worse, about 98,000 of those businesses will remain closed permanently. 

More than 32,000 of those shuttered businesses are restaurants, 61 percent of which have closed for good. Yelp claims that restaurants like pizzerias, delis, food trucks, and bakeries Continue reading

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September 10, 2020

With Labor Day weekend come and gone, airlines have entered the period of the year where business travelers usually make up the bulk of their flights rather than tourists. But as the pandemic continues to disrupt life throughout the U.S., almost nothing is proceeding like normal in the air travel industry. All told, the nation’s carriers are losing $6 billion per month and have laid off more than one-fifth of workers as the industry desperately looks for ways to cut Continue reading

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September 2, 2020

The video sharing app TikTok has become a big hit with millions of Americans over the last few years. According to the federal government, however, the Chinese-owned company presents national security risks that could lead to a ban on the app in the U.S. This video looks at the controversy surrounding TikTok’s American operations as well as the larger dangers of a fractured global Internet. 

Questions:

  1. Why is the federal government considering a ban on TikTok? 
  2. Do you Continue reading
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August 31, 2020

For decades, ice cream trucks carrying Good Humor products have traveled through American neighborhoods with the folk song “Turkey in the Straw” playing at full blast. Unfortunately, though, this more than two-century old tune has a sinister history outside of its long association with frozen treats. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, “Turkey in the Straw” was a standard number in minstrel shows that relied heavily on racist caricatures. 

“While these associations of ‘Turkey in the Straw’ are Continue reading

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August 27, 2020

For nearly every week since March, millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as the economy continues to struggle with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. And last week was no exception: once again more than 1 million people filed for unemployment for the first time. All together, more than 27 million people applied for benefits as the jobless rate hovers around the 10 percent mark. 

“It’s massively concerning that five months into this crisis we are still Continue reading

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August 24, 2020

In 2018, California’s Supreme Court ruled against a delivery company that classified its employees as independent contractors. This landmark decision was followed two years later by official legislation that required businesses throughout the state to turn contracted staff into full-time workers or else face legal action. The most prominent targets of this new law were Uber and Lyft, the rideshare giants that employ tens of thousands of people as independent contractors. 

According to consumer advocates, drivers for Uber and Continue reading

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August 20, 2020

As companies across all industries look for ways to reduce contact between employees during the pandemic, many are turning to automated labor as a way both to stay safe and trim costs. This video looks at how advanced robotic technology could change workplaces in the long term while also examining the potential limitations of automation. 

Questions:

  1. Why are many companies investing in automated labor during the pandemic?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of automation?
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August 18, 2020

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced countless companies around the world to come up with new ways to sell products or else risk going out of business. For instance, many bars and restaurants have made the switch to carry-out service and installed take-out windows to easily access waiting customers. For some lucky Italian entrepreneurs, though, their businesses come with built-in to-go kiosks constructed more than 500 years ago.

Known as “buchette del vino,” or “little wine holes” in English, these Continue reading

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August 17, 2020

With hundreds of American movie theaters closed since March, the film exhibition industry has made several attempts to return to business only to reverse course soon after. AMC Theatres, for instance, announced plans to reopen on July 15th but scrapped that idea as coronavirus cases spiked across the U.S. Despite these setbacks, though, the nation’s largest theater chain has now set August 20th as its return date. What’s more, AMC plans to charge just 15 cents per admission on the Continue reading

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August 7, 2020

Airline passenger volume has plummeted by 95 percent during the coronavirus pandemic, wiping out tens of billions of dollars in revenue in the process. This video looks at how airlines are fighting to survive these unprecedented times by furloughing employees, limiting flight capacity, and retiring old aircraft like the Boeing 747. 

Questions: 

  1. What measures are airlines taking to cut costs during the pandemic? 
  2. What are the potential long term consequences of furloughing employees like pilots?
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