August 1, 2014

For decades big companies have done their best to avoid hefty corporate tax rates levied by Uncle Sam. The U.S. government collects 35 percent of a domestically based corporation’s income, a figure based on the entirety of the company’s worldwide revenue. This mighty bite from the bottom line leads many firms to reincorporate their companies in places like the Cayman Islands or Ireland, where the corporate tax rate is just 12.5 percent. While this process of “inversion” is entirely legal, Continue reading

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August 1, 2014

Recent technological advancements in automation could soon make many human workers obsolete, according to this rather bleak video. Due to the length and potentially overwhelming nature of this piece, we recommend showing just the first five minutes.

 

 

 

Questions:

  1. What has been the true value of mechanical advancements for society?
  1. What is the key message sent forth in this video?

From CGP Grey

 

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July 31, 2014

Led Zeppelin’s 1971 epic “Stairway to Heaven” is widely regarded by music critics as one of the greatest rock songs of all time. It’s also been one of the most profitable. Clocking in at nearly eight minutes long, the band refused to release the song as a single, which forced fans to shell out more cash to buy the album it appeared on. When coupled with the song’s substantial royalties from radio play, “Stairway to Heaven” has earned at least Continue reading

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July 28, 2014

As people become more skeptical of the ways science intrudes on the content of their food, controversial products like genetically modified crops face increasing opposition. That’s bad news for AquaBounty Technologies, a company that has been producing genetically modified salmon for more than 20 years. Called the AquAdvantage, the fish reach market size in two years rather than three. In order to engineer the salmon, scientists combine the gene of a large Chinook salmon with a gene from a fast-growing Continue reading

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July 20, 2014

 

In early June, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed a bill into law that will raise the city’s minimum wage to $15-an-hour. At more than double the federal level, Seattle’s new wage floor will become the highest in the country once it is fully implemented. Large businesses have until 2017 to reach the $15 mark while small businesses can wait as late as 2021. In both cases, wages will be slowly raised in the intervening years to make the process Continue reading

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July 11, 2014

 

A few years ago, a rash of employee suicides at Foxconn Technology prompted investigations into the working conditions at the Chinese manufacturing giant. As the maker of such in-demand items as the iPad and Hewlett-Packard servers, Foxconn employs tens of thousands of people who work long shifts and live on-site. The monotonous work and the dorm-like living quarters can make for a grey life on the Foxconn campus, leading to depression and worse.

Foxconn responded to this bleak state Continue reading

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Cigarettes kill more than 5.4 million people each year, a 30 percent increase over the past two decades. Although cigarette use has generally fallen in the U.S., increased use in Asia and Eastern Europe has ensured that the tobacco industry is bigger than ever. Innovation has also hit the cigarette business in the form of e-cigarettes, electronic devices that heat up liquid nicotine to a vapor that is then inhaled.

Like everything related to tobacco, e-cigarettes have been controversial since Continue reading

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Net neutrality continues to be a hot topic for debate in Washington. Here’s a video explaining this complicated subject.

 

http://nyti.ms/1nRVU8i

Questions:

  1. Should the Federal Communications Commission (FDC) continue a policy of net neutrality?
  1. Does FCC Chairman Wheeler have a conflict of interest in this decision?

From The New York Times

 

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For many working Americans, leaving the office in the early evening doesn’t necessarily mean your workday is done. Answering emails and phone calls can stretch one’s workday far past the standard five o’clock threshold. That is, unless you happen to be a consultant working in France. Under a new agreement between labor unions and corporate representatives, more than 250,000 French employees at consulting, computing and polling firms are required to “disconnect” from work once they clock out.

Under the Continue reading

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Advancements in technology have allowed entrepreneurs to experiment with radical new ideas that wouldn’t have been possible even a few years ago. However, often these innovations end up disrupting established businesses that have operated the same way for years. The latest example of this phenomenon can be seen with the new wave of “ridesharing” companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. Although these startups have made a splash with young, tech-enabled consumers, taxi companies and local governments don’t share the same Continue reading

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