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Business Breakdown: Following SOPA Protests, Feds Shut Down Megaupload

The UPS of Piracy, or a new model for content distribution? What's behind the latest crackdown on internet file sharing.

Megaupload, the Hong Kong-based website that allowed users to store and share large files—including movies, music and television shows—was shut down by the Department of Justice yesterday for copyright violations. Four company executives—including the appropriately named founder Kim Dotcom (Schmitz, before he changed his name)—have been arrested, and $50 million in assets were seized; Megaupload is said to have accumulated earnings greater than $175 million since its establishment in 2005.

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Business Breakdown: New Pollution Rules to Close Coal Plants

Rolling blackouts, asthma attacks and cost-benefit analysis, oh my!

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency released a new set of rules limiting the amount of mercury, arsenic, and other poisons that power plants can pump into the air. Originally mandated under the bipartisan Clean Air Act in 1990, the rules have been delayed by fossil fuel industry challenges in court and Congress. Tougher limits will force coal- and oil-burning power companies to spend billions on scrubbers and other clean emissions technology over the next several years—and where that’s not economical, will close down between 30 and 60 of the most polluting plants in the country—average operating age, 51 years.

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Business Breakdown: Where Did the European Financial Crisis Come From?

Fears of a full-blown financial crisis are brewing in Europe, and world leaders have just a few weeks to set things right. What's the breakdown?


Europeans are in a panic over public borrowing and a burgeoning financial crisis. U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner traveled to Poland to ask continental financiers to get their acts together, and International Monetary Fund officials are having heartburn in Washington. Today, Greece votes on the first part of a controversial austerity plan. What's going on across the Atlantic?

The financial crisis isn’t over. Trouble sprung up quickly in Europe after the global crash in 2008. In 2009, a new government in Greece discovered that it couldn’t pay off the debt it had incurred. That would be disastrous for those who made the loans to Greece—largely European banks, which own $71 billion in Greek debt and also have many commercial loans in the country. If those banks had to write off those assets, it would spur a financial crisis with cascading repercussions across the globe, increasing pressure on other European countries and financial institutions at a time of already fragile growth. The U.S. wouldn’t be exempt: Our financial institutions own plenty of European debt, and the Euro zone is our largest trading partner. Many economists believe the initial stages of the Greek crisis helped slow economic recovery in the United States.

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