September 4, 2018

A couple of months ago, we took a look at Starbucks’ plan to eliminate its use of plastic straws by 2020. While the coffee chain remains the most high-profile business to ban straws, several cities throughout the country have joined the effort by passing legislation regulating their use. For instance, last month San Francisco passed an ordinance that prohibits restaurants from distributing any single-use plastic utensils or accessories. The cities of Seattle, Malibu, and Vancouver have recently put similar laws Continue reading

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August 31, 2018

Although many American advertisements suggest that Florida remains the orange juice capital of the world, the video below shows how that’s not quite the case. Due to the state’s extreme weather and a number of other factors, the South American nation of Brazil has long stood as the globe’s top producer of OJ.

Questions:

  1. Why has the size of Florida’s orange crop fallen so much in recent years?
  2. What are the benefits and drawbacks of Brazil’s dominance of the orange industry?
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August 30, 2018

With the summer winding down, people across the country are returning from vacation and settling back into their normal routines. And while many Americans would certainly rather be back on the beach than at work or school, many of the world’s most popular tourist destinations seem happy to see their visitors go. According to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization, international trips increased by 6 percent in the first half of 2018. Although this amount of growth would usually be Continue reading

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August 28, 2018

A few years ago, many tech industry analysts predicted that the Amazon Echo would soon dominate the growing smart speaker market. After all, the voice-activated device accounted for more than 75 percent of market share as the company moved “tens of millions” of Echo products in 2017 alone. Consumers were also becoming more familiar with Alexa, the virtual assistant designed to answer questions and perform simple tasks like turning the lights on and off. Given these factors plus Amazon’s ever Continue reading

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August 24, 2018

By now it’s no secret that big tech companies routinely collect tons of data about their users’ online habits. And as Facebook’s recent scandal with Cambridge Analytica showed, sometimes they sell that information to outside parties without first telling users about it. As a result, people must always be careful about sharing too much information online. According to a new study conducted by a Vanderbilt University professor, however, even the most cautious users probably can’t escape the all-seeing power of Continue reading

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August 23, 2018

For more than a century, Coca-Cola’s immense branding power has centered on its signature soft drink. But with many of today’s consumers switching from sugary sodas to healthier options, the company can no longer rely on its namesake beverage like it once did. So in order to keep up with changing tastes, last year Coca-Cola launched more than 500 new drink brands across the globe. “There are products out there in the world that perhaps we wouldn’t have tried a Continue reading

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July 31, 2018

Although people sometimes use “vanilla” as a byword for “boring,” the complicated global industry that surrounds this flavor is far from dull. 80 percent of the world’s vanilla crop is grown in Madagascar, which has the perfect climate for vanilla orchids. These plants only bloom one day a year and must be pollinated by hand, followed by another 9 months of waiting for the fruit to mature into pods. Then comes another weeks-long process of curing the plants using steam, Continue reading

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July 27, 2018

From smartphones to electric vehicles, many of today’s most innovative products depend on lithium-ion batteries to function. That’s why every year the tech industry upgrades these portable power sources to hold more and more charge. While this allows them to create better products (at least in theory), it also leads companies to discard a lot of technically obsolete batteries that can still collect energy. For instance, the lithium-ion units that power cars and buses can be used for Continue reading

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July 10, 2018

The 2018 FIFA World Cup hits the home stretch this week, with the semifinals taking place today and tomorrow followed by the final match on Sunday. While the end of this month-long festival of soccer will be bittersweet for many fans, few people will be sadder to see it go than the people who run the Italian publishing house Panini. The company specializes in making stickers that feature every player in the tournament along with a free booklet to place Continue reading

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Lately the news has been full of headlines about the U.S. potentially imposing tariffs on goods from countries like China. These articles are typically followed by stories saying that other nations could place their own tariffs on American goods, thus potentially setting the stage for a “trade war.” This video explains exactly what happens during a trade war and how they can affect economies around the world.  

  1. What are some reasons why a country would want to impose a Continue reading
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