Ups and Downs

Ups and Downs

My colleague and friend, Peter Hart, has co-directed the NBC Wall Street Journal for more than 30 years. Throughout that time he has included a simple question: Is the country moving in the right direction or the wrong direction? It is a deceptively revealing question.

This is the basic concept behind this section. By looking at what's moving up and down in our world, we gain important insights into critical business, political, cultural and other societal trends.

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PC Market Declines For Fifth Straight Year

January 11, 2017

Excerpt: Worldwide personal computer shipments receded again in the final quarter of 2016, a pair of data trackers said Wednesday, dragging the year to a fifth consecutive annual decline. Gartner Inc. estimated shipments were 3.7% lower than the year-earlier quarter. 

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(Photo Credit:  Sarah Tew/CNET)


Is There Time for QVC in the Age of Amazon?

January 09, 2017

Excerpt: QVC Inc., after years of shrugging off competition from traditional and online retailers, is seeing cracks emerge in a business model that has long relied on impulsive purchases by TV viewers. The home-shopping channel’s U.S. sales fell 6% in its third quarter, the first drop in seven years on its home turf. 

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(Photo Credit: QVC)


The American diet hasn’t changed in years — except for this one thing

December 30, 2016

Excerpt: Despite a slew of new studies, recommendations and nutrition fads ranging from gluten-free to paleo, the general American diet has not changed substantially since 2000, recent government data shows. Between 2000 and 2010, the most recent year for which complete data is available, the average American’s daily caloric intake declined by a mere 2 percent. And the number of calories we get from each food group also has stayed largely constant. But one type of food has seen a huge change: The number of calories that the average American got from nuts jumped by 25 percent. And the amount of nuts that Americans consume has continued climbing.

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(Photo Credit: iStock)


Drunk driving rate falls to new low, federal data shows

December 30, 2016

Excerpt: New federal statistics show that the rate of drunken driving in the United States fell to a 13-year low in 2014, the latest year for which data is available. The rate of driving under the influence of illicit drugs has not changed meaningfully in recent years but remains slightly lower than it was in 2008 and 2009 at the start of the Obama administration.

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(Photo Credit: Paul J. Richards/AFP)


A Struggling Theme Park Asks: Do You Still Believe in Santa?

December 23, 2016

Excerpt: Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, in Wilmington, N.Y., is among the last of the theme parks in the region, outlasting the Land of Makebelieve, Frontier Town, Time Town, Gaslight Village and other Adirondack roadside attractions. Since 1949, Santa’s Workshop, an alpine village scaled for children, has welcomed families along the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway, a scenic road that meanders toward the peak’s 4,865-foot summit.

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(Photo Credit: Nancie Battaglia for The New York Times)


Smaller Bathrooms on Planes Pose Challenges for Passengers

December 23, 2016

Excerpt: Smaller lavatories are helping airlines to add extra seats to new and existing aircraft for more profit, but some passengers — if they can get into the bathrooms — say they are being shortchanged. The continuing installation of smaller and reconfigured bathrooms, which began in late 2013, has led to complaints about safety issues, say travelers and flight crew, who are concerned about restricted access for the physically disabled, as well as ease of use for other passengers.

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(Photo Credit: Lostboy)


For women, heavy drinking has been normalized. That’s dangerous.

December 23, 2016

Excerpt: White women are particularly likely to drink dangerously, with more than a quarter drinking multiple times a week and the share of binge drinking up 40 percent since 1997, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal health data. In 2013, more than a million women of all races wound up in emergency rooms as a result of heavy drinking, with women in middle age most likely to suffer severe intoxication.

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(Photo Credit: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)


Young Americans Living With Parents at a 75-Year High

December 21, 2016

Excerpt: Almost 40% of young Americans were living with their parents, siblings or other relatives in 2015, the largest percentage since 1940, according to an analysis of census data by real estate tracker Trulia. Despite a rebounding economy and recent job growth, the share of those between the ages of 18 and 34 doubling up with parents or other family members has been rising since 2005. Back then, before the start of the last recession, roughly one out of three were living with family.

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(Photo Credit: Associated Press)



52 weeks, 52 faces: Obituaries narrate lives lost to the opioid epidemic

December 20, 2016

Excerpt: The faces above and the stories below are a snapshot of the devastating opioid epidemic sweeping across the United States. Publicly acknowledging that a family member suffered from an addiction to drugs, or died of an overdose, has long been a taboo subject — one best kept secret among family and a few knowing friends. That is changing. As the death toll from the opioid crisis mounts, families are increasingly weaving desperate warnings into the obituaries of loved ones about the horror that can result when people abuse painkillers, heroin, and synthetic drugs such as fentanyl.

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(Photo Credit: STAT)



Aging baby boomers increasingly embrace marijuana, heavy alcohol use

December 18, 2016

Excerpt: Indeed, while anti-drug PSAs still encourage parents to talk to their teens about drugs before someone else does, two recent studies suggest there's another high-risk population we should be worried about: our kids' grandparents. The first study found that, since 2006, marijuana use has increased significantly among adults age 50 and up. A decade ago, roughly 4.5 percent of people ages 50 to 64, and 0.4 percent of seniors age 65 and up, had used marijuana in the past year. By 2013, those numbers had increased to 7.1 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

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(Photo Credit: Drug Policy Alliance)

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