About one in five Americans smokes. And that's not likely to change much, say public-health experts, until cigarette-style taxes, bans, and crossbones are applied to a related scourge: smokeless tobacco. The unlit leaf of many names—chaw, chew, dip, snuff, snus—is a growing problem, especially among male smokers and young people who use it as a cheap and convenient substitute for cigarettes.
As dozens of states "right size" their budgets, one line item seems curiously immune from cuts: film subsidies. After New Mexico approved generous tax credits in 2002, more than 40 states followed suit, and today studios are showered with about $1.5 billion in annual benefits.
Republicans have pledged to roll back health-care reform in the name of fiscal restraint. But the cost of implementing the new law remains unclear, largely because of the human equation.
Promising to "cut the fat" is often better politics than policy, as lawmakers pushing to consolidate school districts may learn. The idea calls for absorbing smaller districts into larger ones to reduce overhead costs and fund better student performance. But consolidation fails on both fronts.
It's the watchword of the Obama administration's multibillion-dollar push for education reform. But "accountability," the practice of tracking school performance, isn't always a force for good. It has been linked to a host of unsavory behaviors, including cheating on official exams and suspending poor students on test day. Now, according to a new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, there's an additional concern: teachers quitting.
New businesses are often tiny, of course, at least at first. But the distinction between them and small, mature firms is hardly semantic, says economist John Haltiwanger, who coauthored the study. His research suggests that the policy focus should skew young, nurturing the next big firms—which actually employ the most people—rather than tending an old crop of small ones.
There's no shortage of theories on why Wikipedia has stalled. One holds that the site is virtually complete. Another suggests that aggressive editors and a tangle of anti-vandalism rules have scared off casual users. But such explanations overlook a far deeper and enduring truth about human nature.
Artifact theft is usually associated with developing or war-torn countries (think Iraq after the U.S. invasion). But in recent years America's own ancient sites have become a target, with looters pilfering Native American bones, jewelry, and even pictographs hacked out of cave walls, and selling them in thriving online markets.
To tell the story of how America's game gained Dominican flavor, Mark Kurlansky focuses on a single town: San Pedro de Macorís—the birthplace of All-Stars like Robinson Cano, Sammy Sosa, and Alfonso Soriano, and the home of more major leaguers per capita than anywhere in the world. More than one in four major leaguers are Latin-born (up from zero a half century ago), and no country has contributed a greater share of the talent than the Dominican Republic.
Next week President Obama is slated to deliver his first speech on the administration's NASA policy, which calls for transferring routine space travel to private companies.