Two years ago Led Zeppelin made headlines after the band got hit with a lawsuit concerning their most iconic song. According to the complaint, songwriters Robert Plant and Jimmy Page stole the opening guitar riff to “Stairway to Heaven” from a short instrumental called “Taurus” by the American psychedelic band Spirit. While Led Zeppelin’s members denied any wrongdoing, cultural commenters pointed to the band’s history of plagiarism and previous legal battles. What’s more, the lawsuit appeared just months before another Continue reading

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June 24, 2016

Last night voters in the United Kingdom elected to part ways with the European Union. While the full consequences of this historic decision will not be known for a long time, this video explains the immediate impact of the “Brexit” and how the situation could play out in the coming months.

 

Questions:

  1. Did UK voters make the correct decision? 
  1. What are the benefits and drawbacks of membership in an economic community like the European Union?
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June 14, 2016

The rapid rise of Asian manufacturing has transformed nations like China and India into economic powerhouses as well as environmental nightmares. World health experts estimate that millions of people have died due to excessive air pollution in these two countries. So far government officials have done little to relieve their increasingly stifled citizens, leading many to turn to a variety of consumer products for help. Along with pollution masks and air purifiers, a growing number of people are also purchasing Continue reading

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For the millions of Americans who struggle with debt, paying back the money they owe can become a life-consuming ordeal. These overstretched individuals either take years to settle with creditors or end up defaulting entirely. Since most lenders want to avoid the latter option, they sometimes opt to sell off delinquent debt to a third party for pennies on the dollar. For instance, a bank might sell off $100,000 of debt to another institution for just $1,000. While the lender Continue reading

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For more than a century millions of visitors have marveled at the staggering beauty contained in America’s national parks. According to the writer Wallace Stegner, “National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” Still, even these sublime sanctuaries face the same kind of bureaucratic headaches that afflict other government agencies. In fact, years of flat funding have left the National Park Service with an $11 Continue reading

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American movie theaters have endured a rough couple of years as more consumers turn to the comfort of their living rooms as venues for entertainment. That’s far from the case in China, however. The Asian nation has become an increasingly important source of revenue for U.S. movie studios that have seen domestic receipts start to dwindle. In February Chinese theaters earned $1.05 billion at the box office, beating the American tally by nearly $250 million.

Still, China isn’t exactly an Continue reading

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In our previous post, we explored the new crop of startups that are applying Uber’s on-demand business model to other markets. Although these spinoff services aren’t nearly as successful as the original, a number of entrepreneurs remain convinced that they can develop an Uber for everything. We already took a look at the parking service Luxe and grocery delivery app Instacart, both fairly straightforward and simple adaptations of the concept. But startups like Filld and WeFuel take the idea Continue reading

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April 14, 2016

Last week’s revelations surrounding the Panama Papers scandal set off a firestorm of debate about offshore tax avoidance. Media outlets across the globe exposed the names of many high profile clients of the offending law firm Mossack Fonseca, including soccer superstar Lionel Messi and several heads of state. As many in the U.S. pointed out, however, the Panamanian firm’s roster of shell company-seeking clients had a noticeable lack of Americans. According to some experts, this is due to lenient incorporation Continue reading

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April 12, 2016

For decades some wealthy people and businesses have avoided paying taxes in their home countries by setting up “shell companies” in tropical locales like the Cayman Islands or the Bahamas. The lax tax rates of these nations allow individuals and organizations to quietly keep their money out of government coffers. In today’s digital age, however, it’s a lot harder to keep a secret than it used to be. Just ask the clients of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, the Continue reading

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April 1, 2016

This week, America’s labor lobby scored a major victory thanks to a split Supreme Court decision that upheld unions’ right to collect membership fees from public sector workers. The short video linked below brings clarity to this complicated story and focuses on the perspectives of both sides.

http://on.wsj.com/1VSf1RU

Questions:

  1. Is it ethical to require teachers like Rebecca Friedrich to pay for membership to unions they oppose?
  1. What benefits do union members receive from the dues they pay?
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