Wells Fargo Violations
The financial company was back again in the news this past week and the chief executive officer (CEO) of the global banking firm, John Stumpf, faced angry questions from members of Congress. This was the latest scandal surrounding the banking firm that played a key role in causing much of the credit problems that caused the economic recession that began in late 2008 and early 2009. This time, Well Fargo has been found guilty of creating over 1 million fake accounts under the names of existing Wells Fargo customers. This allows the bank to collect fees and service charges on these “accounts”–even when the account owners have not authorized it and have no knowledge that it is happening.
The question now is focused on who authorized this fake account activity? Was it a standard practice within the company that was “understood” but not discussed? And who is going to be punished for these illegal actions? Some critics continue to argue that Wells Fargo and other financial firms have not been properly punished for their stretching and breaking of financial regulations that put the economy on such shaky ground.
What Do You Think? Should John Strumpf be punished for the actions within his company–even if it can’t be shown that he himself ordered these fake accounts to be made? Should Strumpf step down as CEO? His contract allows him to take a large sum of money if he leaves his job, so what do you think should be done with that money? Legally, it is Strumpf’s to take if he leaves.
Death of Arnold Palmer
The golf legend died last week. Even if you didn’t enjoy golf or play golf, you’ve probably heard of this legend in the sports world (or at least heard of the drink that is named after him). Palmer is fifth on the list of most Professional Golf Association (PGA) tour wins–behind Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Ben Hogan. He won seven of golf’s Major championships (four Masters Championships, two British Opens, and one U.S. Open).
As much as his sports success, Palmer’s post World War II era of dominance was leveraged into one of the modern world’s best sports businessman. In the many decades after his athletic career ended, Palmer made at least as much money as a spokesman and a golf course designer. His example helped establish much of the choices that modern athletes take for granted.
And that drink? Just ask for an “Arnold Palmer” the next time you are in a restaurant and you’ll get a mixture of half lemonade and half iced tea.
Share What You Know Design an infographic that illustrates the impact Arnold Palmer has had on the game of golf and the world of business. Your infographic should combine art and numbers in a easy-to-understand, graphical way. Display your creations in your classroom.
North Korea’s Rocket Test
Last week, North Korea tested a new, powerful rocket engine. This engine is equivalent to the types of rockets that other “space entrepreneurs” such as Jeff Bevos and Elon Musk are using in their efforts to build reliable systems to send payloads into space. But is this North Korea engine test a step towards space–as they claim? Or is the rocket planned as something more dangerous here on Earth? North Korea’s official explanation is that this is part of the nation’s effort to reach orbit and journey to the moon. But U.S. intelligence services are skeptical.
The U.S. warns that this rocket may instead be used to fuel nuclear weapon rocketry. The United States has been keeping a close eye on North Korea’s attempts to build this type of weaponry and has taken steps to halt nuclear weapon creation in other nations. But some worry that the distraction of the presidential election in the United States may–in North Korean minds–provide an opportunity to build unauthorized weapons.
What Do You Think? Do you believe North Korea’s claims that this test is part of a plan to go to the moon? What should (or can) the United States try to do with regards to North Korean nuclear weapon efforts?
Beetles Saving the Great Smoky Mountains?
If you visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (which stretches between Tennessee and North Carolina), you will likely be struck by the wooded beauty of these forests. But, according to the park rangers who help maintain this protected wilderness, the forest is sick. The hemlock trees that are found through this forest range are under attack from bugs that sicken and kill the trees. And the widespread loss of hemlock trees can have significant consequences across the forest. When large amounts of hemlock trees die, the canopy and shade they provide is lost. This affects the overall environment of the forest–altering the temperature, affecting the types of animals who live in the forest below, and changing the habitat for plants, insects, animals, and fish.
What is causing the hemlock problem is a very small insect known as the hemlock woolly adelgid. This insect was, most likely, brought to the U.S. in the 1920s when firewood was transported from Asia. The adelgid lays its very small eggs on the bark of the hemlock and feeds of the trees nutrients coming up from the roots. This denies what the trees need to grow and slowly kill the plant. Park rangers and scientists are combating the widespread tree destruction by carefully injecting trees with insecticide to give the tree a few more years of resistance against the adelgid. But they don’t have the resources to inject each and every hemlock tree in the massive forest.
A longer term solution is aimed at defeating the adelgid itself, which has not faced any predator prior to now. But the scientists are introducing an Asian predator beetle known as a laricobius to target and eliminate the adelgid. But, adding another non-native insect to the environment may create new, unguessed problems. Scientists will need to monitor how this change in the ecosystem progresses while staying focused on the original goal of saving the hemlock tree growth.