September 22, 2020

On August 27th, Warner Bros. began gradually releasing the movie Tenet in theaters that had been closed for months due to the pandemic. After more than two weeks on American screens, though, the $200 million film has only earned $29.5 million domestically. As a result, Hollywood studios may hold back on releasing major titles until audiences are ready to return. “You can’t do it. The economics won’t allow you to do it,” said one studio executive. “We can’t give [theaters] Continue reading

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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 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 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 4, 2020

From April to June 2020, the U.S. GDP plummeted at an annual rate of 32.9 percent, the worst drop on record. As businesses closed across the country due to the pandemic, the U.S. fell into a recession that wiped out the economic gains of the last five years in just a few months. This data released last week by the Commerce Department “just highlights how deep and dark the hole is that the economy cratered into in Q2,” said economist Continue reading

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July 30, 2020

According to data from Yelp, more than 55 percent of the 132,500 businesses listed on the site that closed during the pandemic will remain shuttered permanently. Although government relief bought some companies time, businesses that are now closed will likely remain that way for the long term. Restaurants account for the greatest share of permanent and temporary closures, followed closely by retailers and then beauty salons and spas. 

“Businesses are needing to decide, ‘Do I renew my lease on Continue reading

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