National News

Unhappy Toy Story: Foot-Powered Scooters Drive ER Visits

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 12:59

A look at injuries that sent kids to the emergency room shows an Everest-like mountain of problems with scooters. After falling slightly from a 2001 peak, the scooter injuries started to rise again.

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Ayn Rand's Novel 'Ideal' To Be Published Next Year

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 12:26

Rand wrote Ideal as a novel in 1934, but didn't like it and set it aside. Later, she reworked it as a play. The New American Library says Ideal will be published in the form in which Rand intended it.

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York & Fig: The business of gentrification

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-04 12:17

A familiar storyline is often shared in gentrifying neighborhoods about how all the change got started. At some point, it usually involves a cute little café. In Highland Park, California, it’s a place called Café de Leche, which opened in 2008.

The café has also become a favorite target of disgruntled old-timers. They have tagged it with words like “gentrifier,” posted symbolic “eviction notices” to its door and managed to get an expletive directed at hipsters to pop up on laptops used at the café.

This story is not about Café de Leche, or any master plan of its owners. Instead, this story is about the much larger and much less visible network of professionals who surround Café de Leche, and who do make changing neighborhoods their business – a very lucrative one.

Read the rest of this story at YorkAndFig.com

Pentagon Says It Failed In Rescue Of American Hostage Last Month

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 11:38

A brief statement says that a joint mission with the Yemeni military retrieved some hostages, but journalist Luke Somers was not at the target location.

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Montana Man Cites 'Castle Doctrine' As Defense In German Teen's Shooting

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 11:08

The law says that a man's home is his castle and can be defended as such. Prosecutors said Markus Kaarma shot in cold blood the exchange student who had entered his garage.

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Which government agencies get cursed at the most?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-04 11:00

The Washington Post told us Thursday about Regulations.gov, a site that can tell you which federal government agencies get sworn at the most.

The online database collects the public comments people send in when the agencies propose new rules.

The Post conducted its research using two words. I won't spell them out for you, but one starts with an "F," and the other with an "S."

Not surprisingly, the Internal Revenue Service gets sworn at the most. The Fish and Wildlife Service was No. 2, which doesn't quite make sense although maybe people were using the s-word literally.

Something called the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration got the least swears tossed their way. Perhaps because no one knows they exist.

Barnes & Noble move may signal a spinoff

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-04 11:00

If someone were to pen the story of Barnes & Noble today, booksellers would probably file it under "mystery."

There’s long been talk about whether Barnes & Noble will split itself into two companies, likely with its retail books division on one side and the Nook – its long-suffering e-reader – on the other. That path might have become a bit clearer Thursday, as Barnes & Noble announced it would buy back Microsoft's roughly 17 percent stake in Nook.

But John Tinker, an analyst with investment bank and brokerage firm Maxim, says it’s still unclear if and how the company might divide itself. Barnes & Noble is currently made up of retail stores, a series of college bookstores and a large equity interest in Nook, which is both a hardware company and a software company.

When a company wants to shed a division, it generally has three options: liquidate it, sell it, or spin it off. University of Pennsylvania professor Emilie Feldman says the Nook still has some value, though finding a buyer could be tough. Spinoffs have become popular lately, she says, citing examples like HP, eBay, and Symantec.

Investors often push for spinoffs when companies have divisions with very different growth trajectories, competitors or paths forward, Feldman says. If Barnes & Noble did spin off the Nook, it’d likely issue new stock in separate company to existing shareholders, letting them decide whether to hold the stock and stick with the Nook or sell.

 

Barnes and Noble may spin off Nook

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-04 11:00

If someone were to pen the story of Barnes & Noble today, booksellers would probably file it under mystery.

There’s long been talk about whether or not Barnes & Noble will split itself into two companies, likely with its retail books division on one side and the Nook – its long-suffering e-reader – on the other. That path might have become a bit clearer Thursday, as Barnes & Noble announced it would buy back Microsoft's roughly 17 percent stake in Nook.

But John Tinker, an analyst with investment bank and brokerage firm Maxim, says it’s still unclear if and how the company might divide itself. Barnes & Noble is currently made up of retail stores, a series of college bookstores and a large equity interest in Nook, which is both a hardware company and a software company.

When a company wants to shed a division, it generally has three options: liquidate it, sell it, or spin it off. University of Pennsylvania professor Emilie Feldman says the Nook still has some value, though finding a buyer could be tough. Spin-offs have become popular lately, she says, citing examples like HP, eBay, and Symantec.

Investors often push for spin-offs when companies have divisions with very different growth trajectories, competitors or paths forward, Feldman says. If Barnes & Noble did spin off the Nook, it’d likely issue new stock in separate company to existing shareholders, letting them decide whether to hold the stock and stick with the Nook or sell.

 

The baby bust: U.S. births at record low

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-04 11:00

In terms of things to worry about, the U.S. economy already has its share of concerns. Well, add one more to that list: not enough babies.

The U.S. fertility rate is at an all-time low, and doesn’t show signs of rebounding any time soon. In fact, women have never had so few children in the history of the U.S. The tipping point is a term called, “replacement level fertility,” — demographer-speak for the number necessary to replace you, and your partner, i.e., two babies.

And for the longest time that rate was sitting comfortably at about 2.1, until recently.

"So, that's kind of the magic number and over the past several years we've actually dipped below that 2.1, we're now at around 1.9 births per woman," says Mark Mather, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau.

Mather says many young people might still be feeling the pinch of the Great Recession and have just stopped having children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another factor in holding down birth rates could be the simple fact that many more women are primary bread-winners, and are unwilling to pay the opportunity cost of dropping out to have children. “As more and more women are entering the workforce, we'd expect fertility rates to stay at pretty low levels and I don't see any signs of that slowing down in the future,” says Mather.

An aging work force, a drop-off in consumer spending, everything from onesies to college tuition — these just a few negative economic impacts of the baby bust. 

But how much should we really worry?

“I don't think it's an economic disaster but it does create challenges, “says David Lam, an Economist at the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center. The theory, says Lam, is that as economic conditions improve, people will start having more babies.  But even if we don’t, many other wealthy economies are doing just fine.

“You know, Germany is doing quite well right now economically, relatively speaking, with a lower fertility rate than we have,” he says. 

And if economic incentives to get in a family don't come about, immigration is a button policy makers might still push to help drive the recovery.

Grand Jury In Garner Case Heard From 50 Witnesses, Saw 4 Videos

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 10:54

A New York judge allowed the release of limited information about the usually secret process. Unlike the Ferguson case, the judge released only metadata.

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Texas Man Found Guilty In Killings Of DA, His Wife And Prosecutor

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 10:40

The prosecution argued that Eric Williams, a former justice of the peace who was caught stealing computer equipment, carried out the killings as revenge.

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The Mystery Of The Missing Martins

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 10:40

In Skunk Bear's latest video, join the search for an enormous flock of missing songbirds, and learn some bizarre facts about Shakespeare and Doppler radar along the way.

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Where Wages Are Rising (And Falling), In 1 Graph

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 10:40

Overall, wages were stagnant over the past year. But workers in some sectors saw significant gains.

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NYC Police Will Be Retrained, De Blasio Says At News Conference

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 10:23

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announce plans to give new training to police officers.

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Justice Department Finds Cleveland Police Uses Excessive Force

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 09:26

The city and the federal government have come to terms to try to correct the issues with the department, Attorney General Eric Holder said.

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Is The Food Babe A Fearmonger? Scientists Are Speaking Out

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 09:26

The food system is awash in chemicals and additives. One woman has made a career out of investigating them. But a cadre of critics says she's creating more confusion than clarity about food.

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Millions are paid less than minimum wage, study says

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-04 09:12

A Labor Department-commissioned study found 3.5 to 6.5 percent of wage and salary workers in California and New York are paid less than minimum wage.

"More than 2 million workers are not paid the minimum wage every week, and that’s out of 150 million workers in the workforce," says Steven Greenhouse, labor and workplace reporter for the New York Times. 

The study is based on 2011 data, when the minimum wage in both states was lower than they are now. The study says 11 percent of low-wage workers suffered minimum-wage violations.

"The industry with the worse minimum-wage violations is leisure hospitality, meaning restaurants and hotels," Greenhouse says. "followed by healthcare, education and retail."

Some workers are denied overtime pay while some employers simply do not pay their employees for the full number of hours that they worked, which results in them being paid less than minimum wage.

"I've done front-page stories for the Times about companies that go into the computer to erase hours that people work," says Greenhouse. "Oftentimes, workers don't even recognize that because they don't do a very good job keeping track of how many hours they work."

It Wasn't Pretty, But 76ers Manage To Win Their First Game Of The Season

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 09:05

The game got off to a bizarre start when the teams went for the wrong baskets. Still, the 76ers managed to avoid tying a record for the worst start to an NBA season.

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CDC Warns That The Flu Season May Be A Bad One

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 08:07

The main flu strain circulating now tends to send more people to the hospital than other strains. It also causes more deaths, especially among the elderly, children and people with health issues.

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China To End Organ Harvesting From Executed Inmates

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-04 07:43

The controversial practice has long been criticized by human rights campaigners who say that it could hasten the pace that prisoners are put to death in China.

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