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Today we start with a panel discussion about America’s disappearing middle class. A new report says that less than half the population is now middle class; what does it mean for the future? In our weekly web and digital news roundup, Xeni Jardin discusses the heavily criticized new toy Hello Barbie. Then, the second installment of our two-part look at drones; this time, the ethics. And finally, the rise, fall and purchase of K-Cups.

The Disappearing Middle Class 14 MIN, 40 SEC

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, America has reached a tipping point when it comes to the middle class. For the first time in decades, slightly less than half the population is now middle class. That’s because more Americans have moved into the upper or lower income brackets, leaving fewer people in the middle. We get a primer on the study and an up close look at what it means for people in cities

Rakesh Kochhar, Pew Research Center (@RakeshKochhar)
Chris Thornberg, Beacon Economics
Jacob Hacker, Yale University (@ISPSYale)

The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground

Hello Barbie and Other Tech News 8 MIN, 36 SEC

There’s a new toy called “Hello Barbie.” She talks, and kids are supposed to talk back. Critics say it stifles children’s creativity and threatens their privacy. We discuss that and more in our regular Thursday roundup of web and digital news.

Xeni Jardin, BoingBoing.net (@xeni)

The Ethics of Drones 13 MIN, 45 SEC

Drones are now very much a part of how we think about warfare. Between civilian casualties and the issue of waging war without ever sending an army into a country, there are many moral and ethical questions when it comes to drone warfare. We heard yesterday about the international rules or lack thereof when it comes to drones. Today, how the United States went from being dubious about armed drones to mounting hundreds of drone attacks each year.

MQ-9 Reaper, a hunter-killer surveillance UAV
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson/USAF Photographic Archives

Sarah Kreps, Cornell University

Part 1: Drone Warfare
Using Drones to Help the World
Is It Legal To Fly Your Drone?
What We Learned From Flying a Drone in Leimert Park

The K-Cup Takeover 6 MIN, 50 SEC

You’re probably familiar with K-Cups, those plastic containers that deliver caffeine in whatever flavor you want. Those little pods made Keurig Green Mountain Coffee a brand beloved by consumers, until those consumers turned on the company. Because aren’t all those K-Cups bad for the environment? And is the K-Cup coffee actually good? Private equity to the rescue! A European firm bought the Green Mountain Coffee company this week for nearly $14 billion. We look at the rise, fall and purchase of Keurig.

Daniel Kline, Motley Fool (@worstideas)

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