New York – U.S. births fell for the fourth year in a row, the government reported Wednesday, with experts calling it more proof that the weak economy has continued to dampen enthusiasm for having children.
But there may be a silver lining: The decline in 2011 was just 1 percent – not as sharp a falloff as the 2 to 3 percent drop seen in other recent years.
“It may be that the effect of the recession is slowly coming to an end,” said Carl Haub, a senior demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization.
Most striking in the new report were steep declines in Hispanic birth rates and a new low in teen births. Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by the flagging economy, experts say, and teen birth rates have been falling for 20 years.
Falling births is a relatively new phenomenon in this country. Births had been on the rise since the late 1990s and hit an all-time high of more than 4.3 million in 2007. But fewer than 4 million births were counted last year – the lowest number since 1998.
After latest digging, Hoffa still missing
Detroit – Like many others that came before it, the latest search for former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa has come up empty.
Tests on soil samples gathered last week from a backyard in suburban Detroit showed no traces that Hoffa – or anyone else – was buried there, Roseville police announced Tuesday.
Hoffa last was seen July 30, 1975, outside a restaurant in Oakland County, more than 30 miles to the west. The day he disappeared, Hoffa was supposed to meet with a New Jersey Teamsters boss and a Detroit mafia captain.
The latest search led police, reporters and curious onlookers to Patricia Szpunar’s brick ranch-style home in Roseville. Police in the community north of Detroit recently received a tip from a man who claimed he saw someone buried there about 35 years ago and that the body possibly belonged to Hoffa.
Pot shops allowed again after LA reversal
Los Angeles – The Los Angeles City Council reversed course Tuesday and repealed a ban on pot shops that it passed just two months ago to shutter hundreds of medical marijuana storefronts.
Council members voted 11-2 to negate its July decision to rid the nation’s second-largest city of pot dispensaries. The repeal came after opponents gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot seeking to undo the ban.
Though dispensary owners can now remain open without fear of local authorities, they still run the risk of getting shut down by federal authorities who last week started targeting stores in Los Angeles they said were raking in huge sums of money and attracting crime. Pot remains illegal under federal law.