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April 24, 2014
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In a move designed to make investment easier for small time investors, Apple announced a 7-for-1 stock split last night.

Each owner of a share in Apple, which is currently trading at around $570, will now own seven Apple shares, worth roughly $81 per share. That doesn't change the value of the company in itself. But it does lower the threshold at which someone can become an investor in Apple, at least a little.

Tim Cook explained the split as follows:

We are taking this action to make Apple stock more accessible to a larger number of investors. Each shareholder of record at the close of business on June the 2nd, 2014 will receive six additional shares for every outstanding share held on the record day and trading will begin on a split-adjusted basis on June the 9th, 2014. [Seeking Alpha]

So Tim Cook wants to make investment in Apple more of an option for the people who buy iPhones and iPads.

Would lowering the threshold from $570 to $81 make a difference? For stocks with a very high price — like Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, currently trading for $191,000 a share — lowering the threshold makes the difference between a company being accessible to regular investors, or not accessible.

Berkshire Hathaway, for what it's worth, offers Class B stock currently priced at $127 a share — although B-class stock carries just 1/10,000th of the voting rights of the Class A stock. That is a big enough difference to make a difference, because not all investors have $191,000 to invest.

But the difference between $570 and $81 is pretty small by comparison. Even small retail investors building up a retirement account are usually looking to invest at least a few thousand dollars over the course of a year. So the only difference with this is really that the move sends the message that Apple is courting investment from the little guys. That may change the market's psychology toward Apple. Or it may not. John Aziz

10:56 a.m. ET
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The demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea is less than 3 miles wide, and for decades, both sides have used that short distance to blast propaganda across the border. But to set the stage for a historic meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in later this week, South Korea on Monday turned off its speakers.

"The Ministry of National Defense halted the loudspeaker broadcasts against North Korea in the vicinity of the military demarcation line," Seoul said in a statement, with a goal of "reducing military tensions between the South and North and creating a mood for peaceful talks." In response, North Korea's weaker loudspeakers also began shutting down.

While Pyongyang tends to favor propaganda of a more traditional nature, South Korea in recent years has played peppy K-pop music, weather reports, and news that won't be reported under the Kim regime, like the survival of a North Korean soldier who was shot while he defected to the South. Bonnie Kristian

10:24 a.m. ET
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Neither Special Counsel Robert Mueller nor anyone on his team has been in touch with Natalia Veselnitskaya, she told The Associated Press for a report published Monday. Veselnitskaya is the Russian lawyer who in June 2016 met with Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign officials who believed she had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Veselnitskaya has spoken with investigators for the Senate Intelligence Committee's separate probe into Russian election meddling efforts. They interviewed her in a hotel in Berlin, Germany, for three hours in March. "That was essentially a monologue. They were not interrupting me," she said. "They listened very carefully. ... Their questions were very sharp, pin-pointed."

But the Mueller investigation, she says, has not contacted her despite her willingness to talk. "I'm ready to explain things that may seem odd to you or maybe you have suspicions," Veselnitskaya told Mueller via AP, suggesting that if he does not interview her, he "is not working to discover the truth." Bonnie Kristian

10:18 a.m. ET
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Former military officials are "deeply troubled" by President Trump's pick for CIA director, Gina Haspel.

More than 100 retired generals and officers wrote a letter Monday that urged senators to investigate Haspel more closely before voting on her nomination. Under the Bush administration, Haspel was involved in an "enhanced interrogation" program that included waterboarding, and she has been criticized by lawmakers for pushing to destroy tapes that held evidence of the torture.

"We do not accept efforts to excuse her actions relating to torture and other unlawful abuse of detainees by offering that she was 'just following orders,' or that shock from the 9/11 terrorist attacks should excuse illegal and unethical conduct," reads the letter, posted on Human Rights First. "We did not accept the 'just following orders' justification after World War II, and we should not accept it now."

Haspel, who is currently the deputy director of the CIA, will face a confirmation hearing next month. Trump tapped her to replace Mike Pompeo, who is facing his own confirmation fight to become the next secretary of state.

Lawmakers like Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) have vocally opposed Haspel's nomination, but CIA officials have backed her up: The Hill reports that the CIA released a memo Friday that said Haspel had "acted appropriately" in authorizing the destruction of the tapes. Summer Meza

10:06 a.m. ET
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President Trump's new national security adviser, John Bolton, for years chaired the Gatestone Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group that published sensational and false anti-immigrant stories and fretted over a "great white death" in Europe, NBC News reports. Certain Islamophobic or anti-immigrant Gatestone stories were also picked up and circulated by Russian trolls, with Brookings Institution fellow Alina Polyakova explaining, "We see this kind of pattern emerge where a website puts up something, it looks like a news story, then bots and trolls amplify it."

Many articles published by Gatestone were intended to stoke fear, with one story claiming the German government was "confiscating homes to use for migrants" while in truth the city of Hamburg ordered the owner of six unused rental properties to renovate and list them. Tania Roettger, a journalist for Germany's Correctiv, emphasized the story as an example of how "Gatestone was known for disseminating false information."

While Bolton did not appear to personally write any of the concerning articles, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the adviser's ties to Gatestone are "very disturbing" seeing as he is "in one of the most powerful positions on the planet." Read the entire investigation at NBC News. Jeva Lange

9:20 a.m. ET
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Republicans are hopeful about the chances of CIA Director Mike Pompeo getting confirmed as secretary of state later this week, although he does not appear likely to get a favorable recommendation from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when it votes Monday, NPR reports. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been a vocal "no," and no Democrats on the panel support Pompeo's nomination. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can still push Pompeo's nomination to a full Senate vote, though it would be unprecedented.

In the full Senate vote, there is still a chance Pompeo might not get confirmed due to the narrow 51-49 Republican majority. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) remains on the fence, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is absent. As Axios notes: "If Paul and Flake vote no, [Republicans will] need two red state Democrats to vote yes." Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) is already on board and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) are expected to also potentially swing.

President Trump expressed his frustration Monday morning on Twitter, writing: "Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people, including the Ambassador to Germany. They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before. Need more Republicans!"

Pompeo was confirmed as CIA director last year by the Senate in a 66-32 vote. Jeva Lange

8:41 a.m. ET

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a baby boy Monday morning. The baby, the third child of the duchess and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, will be fifth in line to the British throne, behind his sister, 2-year-old Princess Charlotte; brother, 4-year-old Prince George; father, William; and grandfather, Prince Charles. The baby will nudge uncle Prince Harry back to sixth in line to the throne.

While the baby's name has not yet been shared, bookmakers expect a traditional name like "Arthur," "Albert," or "Philip." As royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told the BBC, "You want a name that resonates, a name that's got family links, and is popular." Jeva Lange

8:20 a.m. ET
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The latest version of President Trump's travel ban faces a showdown in the Supreme Court this week. The justices will hear oral arguments on Wednesday in a challenge to the policy. The first two versions of the ban targeted people from only a handful of predominantly Muslim countries. The third version also includes restrictions on certain travelers from North Korea and Venezuela, although those restrictions were not challenged. The lead plaintiff, the state of Hawaii, argues that the policy still violates the Constitution by favoring people of other faiths over Muslims. The Supreme Court in December ruled that most of the ban could take effect while the legal challenge was working its way through the courts. Read more at Reuters. Harold Maass

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