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Migratory birds in danger

By Di at 12:40pm, June 19, 2018

The Trump administration has announced a position on protecting migratory birds that is a drastic pullback from policies in force for the past 100 years.

In 1916, the U.S.A. and Great Britain signed the Migratory Bird Treaty, which became U.S. law in 1918. The measures protected more than 1,100 migratory bird species by making it illegal to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell live or dead birds, feathers, eggs, and nests, except as allowed by permit or regulated hunting.

Now the Interior Department has issued a legal opinion that excludes “incidental take” – activities that are not intended to harm birds but do so in ways that could have been foreseen, such as filling in wetlands where migrating birds rest and feed. Why? For fear of “unlimited potential for criminal prosecution,” such as charging cat owners whose pets attack migratory birds, or drivers who accidentally strike birds with their cars, with crimes.

The article says the U.S. "announced a position... that is a drastic pullback." What's another way to say that?
Why is the shift in U.S. policy concerning the MBTA relevant to other nations?
What other issues transcend national borders?
If environmental protections are a financial burden to a nation's economy, should business protections take precedence over environmental ones?

Entrepreneurship in Japan

By Di at 4:00am, April 19, 2018

The start-up scene in Japan has historically lagged behind the Silicon Valley and China, but several investors told CNBC that things are changing.

Workers have traditionally seen starting a company as "kind of a Plan B," according to James Riney, head of 500 Startups Japan. Finding entrepreneurial talent in the country used to be difficult because of an aversion to risk among Japanese workers. Many wanted the stability of corporate or public-sector jobs.

"If you didn't get into the major companies, the brand name companies, entrepreneurship was kind of like this second option that you could consider," Riney told CNBC.

Today, many young people are joining start-ups even as corporate Japan grapples with a labor shortage.

How do you see the attitude towards entrepreneurship changing in Japan?
Would you consider starting your own business? What business would it be?
In your opinion, is it better to stay safe, or to take a risk?

Billionaires to consolidate media

By Jeremy at 3:00am, December 14, 2017

Critics of media consolidation are decrying an announcement that the media company Meredith Corp., with a $650 million boost from conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch, will buy Time Inc.—which owns TimeFortunePeople, and Sports Illustrated magazines—for an estimated $2.8 billion.

In a statement announcing the all-cash deal, Meredith Corp. insisted that Koch Equity Development—a subsidiary of Koch Industries, the billionaire brothers' company that's largely been built through investments in oil, natural gas, and chemicals—"will not have a seat on the Meredith Board and will have no influence on Meredith's editorial or managerial operations."

In your own words, please describe the situation outlined in the article
Do you believe that shareholders will not take a seat on the board? Why would the buyers say such a thing?
Is a free press important? Why (or why not)?
Do you think the magazines would be allowed to publish news critical of their shareholders?

This is a sample lesson from our upper-intermediate business course course. This book is suitable for these levels:

Japan has the most old companies

By Betty Chu at 10:24am, May 16, 2017

Japan has more old companies than any other developed nation. A study of 41 countries carried out by the Bank of Korea found that Japan has more than half of the known pool of companies older than 200 years.

[...] David E. Weinstein, an expert on the Japanese economy and chair of the Department of Economics at Columbia University, said nowadays business failures are as commonplace in Japan as anywhere else, but love of tradition can be a lifeline for companies with historical cachet.

Japanese family businesses have also adopted heirs outside the family, such as in-laws and talented workers, to ensure survival, he said. "It's the name that is continuing," said Weinstein. "People get attached to the names."

What examples of old companies can you think of?
Do you agree that "love of tradition" and attachment to names can help a company in Japan survive?
What other reasons could explain the longevity of Japanese companies?

Toshiba loses 'billions of dollars'

By Matthew at 1:37pm, May 4, 2017

Toshiba Corp said it may have to book several billion dollars in charges related to a U.S. nuclear power plant construction company acquisition, sending its stock tumbling 12 percent and rekindling concerns about its accounting acumen.

Explain the issue to your teacher.
What are your predictions for Toshiba's future?
What would be your advice to Toshiba?

We're going to practice for your interview. You'll need to make sure you are prepared for this lesson. Your teacher will give you advice for preparation at the end of the last lesson.

This lesson will look at interrupting very politely, moving the interview topic forward or backward, and finishing smoothly.

We will practice confirming key information using specific, professional language.

This lesson will look at confirming information. We use this language to check facts, confirm the overall meaning, or just to respond to surprising information.


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