National News

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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