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Why do you need new ones?

You may not pay much attention to world affairs. But if you do, it probably doesn't come as news that Germany has been struggling with financial difficulties in recent years. How serious are they? Serious enough that earlier this week the government of Bavaria announced it no longer can afford to subsidize the purchase of Lederhosen, the traditional goat leather shorts worn by the folk groups that help make the state famous. And Bavaria is one of Germany's better-off regions. A good pair of Lederhosen fetches about $185 at retail.

Pretty scary stuff, eh?

Best-selling author Stephen King is working on a new book, this time in collaboration with fellow horror-story writer Stewart O'Nan. Between them, they've produced classics such as "The Shining" and "A Prayer for the Dying." The new effort: a look at their other passion, the Boston Red Sox, who have been to baseball's World Series only four times in the past 86 years - and lost them all.

Token effort: Ridership on buses, trains not growing

Except for New Yorkers, most Americans remain tethered to their cars when it comes to commuting to work. Only 5 percent of the national work force of 128.6 million people uses public transportation for that purpose, according to a new analysis of American Community Survey data compiled by the Census Bureau. It says the Big Apple is the only large city where a majority of employees - 1.9 million, or about one-third of the 6.4 million national total - rely on public transit systems to get to work. The leading major cities (population 250,000 or more), with the percentage of workers who ride buses or trains to work in each, from the survey:

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1. New York 55%
2. Washington 37%
3. Boston (tie) San Francisco 31%
5. Chicago (tie) Philadelphia 27%
7. Newark, N.J. 26%
8. Baltimore 25%
9. Pittsburgh 22%
10. Minneapolis (tie) Seattle 17%

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