The rains that brought severe flooding have eased, allowing people who in northern and central Colorado a chance to regroup before more rain comes, possibly as soon as Saturday afternoon. The floods have been blamed for four deaths.
In a plan announced Saturday, the U.S. and Russia would give Syria a week to detail its chemical weapons arsenal. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart reached the deal on the third day of talks in Geneva.
The possibility of U.S. strikes in Syria brought Code Pink protesters to Capitol Hill, holding signs and disrupting the proceedings. Leading them is Medea Benjamin, an anti-war activist who, as it turns out, didn't even like the color pink when she started the group.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov say they agreed on a framework of "principles" for securing Syrian chemical weapons.
A exhibit at L.A's Architecture and Design Museum focuses on eye-popping buildings and structures that were imagined for the City of Angels — but never actually built.
President Obama's approach to Syria has taken a number of surprising twists and turns in the weeks since a poison gas attack in August. A surprise agreement between Russia and the U.S. on a timetable for destroying Syria's weapons is the latest in what appears at times to be an unscripted drama.
This week, a group of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, many with disabilities, marked Sept. 11 by climbing two peaks in Yosemite National Park. Climbing as a team, they say, gives them an opportunity to recapture what they miss about the military: a sense of camaraderie with a shared challenge.
The three 19-year-olds are accused of misleading police or destroying evidence to help Dzhokhar Tsarnaev evade capture.
Congressional investigators said that during a two-year period, the agency paid people who were working while claiming they were disabled.
Colorado has relaxed its marijuana laws, making authentic cannabis easier to come by. Synthetic marijuana that contains man-made chemicals has caused an outbreak of illnesses and hospitalizations across the state.
A report in “Nikkei,” a Japanese newspaper, jolted gold and bond markets this morning. Citing unnamed sources, it said Larry Summers is President Obama's pick to be the next Federal Reserve chairman. The White House shot that down in short order, saying the report was wrong.
But it is widely held that the short list to replace Ben Bernanke at the end of January, when his term is up, does include Summers, who has been Treasury Secretary, chief economist at the World Bank, and the president of Harvard University.
Summers, whose spokesperson did not reply to our request for an interview, is a lightning rod. Critics have lined up to question his policies and personality. Several senators on both sides of the aisle say they would not support his nomination.
This is a nerdy but consequential fight, and an unusually public one.
A loud voice in the chorus of critics is Larry Kotlikoff, the William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor of Economics at Boston University.
“There are hundreds, if not thousands, of top economists in this country and the world,” says Kotlikoff, who has written papers with Summers and was a classmate of Summers in graduate school. “We could have any one of them be the Fed chairman, and I think most of them would do a better job.”
Kotlikoff says the position requires a certain amount of diplomacy.
“You have to get everyone to agree on what the course of policy should be,” he explains. “And Larry Summers, unfortunately, has a track record of getting into fights with people.”
Summers was on the M.I.T. debate team, and he is known for picking apart arguments and playing devil’s advocate.
But Summers’s supporters say the critics have got him all wrong. They describe him as funny, as someone who, as one colleague puts it, has “people in stitches all the time, often in pointing out the absurdity of various arguments.”
Jeremy Bulow is the Richard Stepp Professor of Economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He and Summers also met when they were graduate students, and according to Bulow, Summers is “blind to status.”
“Larry is not a good yes man,” he says.
Summers doesn’t care if you are a college freshman, Bulow says, or if you are the president of the United States. All Summers cares about is what you think, he says, and to be sure, he is going to tell you what he thinks.
Bulow says Summers has been a mentor to many young economists, something he traces back to graduate school, when Summers worked on a research project in Indonesia, with S. Malcolm Gillis, now the Zingler Professor of Economics at Rice University.
“When he came back from that summer, I asked him, ‘Well, what did you learn?’ And he said, ‘You know, what I learned was that you can get a lot done in this world if you don’t insist on taking the credit.’”
Bulow describes Summers as a brilliant economist with wide-ranging interests in policy.
“He has this exceptional ability to see through the mathematics and understand the real pragmatic effects of a policy on the average person,” he says.
That brought Summers to Washington, when he was a young man, and it has kept him coming back.
Several decades ago, James Poterba, the Mitsui Professor of Economics at M.I.T., was Summers’s research assistant.
“One of Larry’s bits of advice to graduate students beginning their economics careers was, ‘Be about the economy, not about the economics literature,’” he says.
But critics like Kotlikoff say that, while Summers’s resume and list of publications is impressive, there are red flags: Summers has made millions as a consultant to banks and hedge funds, and during the Clinton administration, he pushed for deregulating the derivatives market. That has led to questions about how Summers would implement parts of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
Michael Barr, who was Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the Treasury Department, worked with Summers on that law, and he rejects those concerns.
“He has been a strong proponent of tough reform in the sector, and I am confident that he would implement that with the same spirit,” he says.
Another former assistant secretary at the Treasury Department, Ted Truman, who is friends with Summers and Janet Yellen, the other economist reportedly on President Obama’s shortlist, says some people might be surprised to hear that Summers was a loyal boss. They might assume he is so smart that, as Truman puts it, Summers “brushes all the crumbs off the table.”
“But I think many of us crumbs who have been on the table have felt considerable satisfaction from having the opportunity to work with him,” Truman says. “He’s always been generous to most of us.”
Even if, Truman adds, he can also be frustrating to work with.
For decades, DNA has been used to identify victims of crime, even victims of war crimes. But there's no international standard for using DNA analysis for identifying bodies after a disaster. So some scholars are calling for an international group with the same reach as weapons inspectors.
For the past couple of years, NASA has been using remotely piloted aircraft to study hurricanes. And they are turning up new information about things like how dust from Africa can determine whether weather systems become hurricanes in the Atlantic.
Next week, a salvage crew plans to rotate and raise the Costa Concordia cruise ship, in one of the biggest maritime salvage operations ever undertaken. The huge vessel has been partially submerged off Giglio Island since an accident in January 2012 that killed 32 people.
We've been covering the collapse of Lehman Brothers this week, looking back over the last five years.Lehman's Legacy: A Timeline Follow the key events before and after the Lehman Brothers collapse, and see how the financial crisis unfolded. Follow the timeline
"I think it really changed Wall Street as we know it; Wall Street used to be this area of broad shoulders -- now those shoulders are slumped," says The Guardian's Heidi Moore. "A lot of people talk about how Wall Street has worked against regulation -- and that is absolutely true -- Dodd-Frank is not a strong law. But the truth is that it's not just Congress that doesn't know what Wall Street needs to look like; it's also Wall Street itself. They're just in a zombie state. They're feeling their way through this new world where they're just a pastiche of businesses that were cobbled together by bailouts and acquisitions, and they don't really know how to fit together and they don't really know what the future's going to look like."
"I think the arrogance that was there beforehand, we've had a bit of a return of that, but it's nowhere near where it was in 2007," says CNBC's John Carney. "These guys really do now at least know that it's possible for them to fail. It hadn't happened in generations -- it had gone away, they thought they had mastered capitalism -- and now they know that markets are much more complex than they realized."
For more on the financial crisis, Moore and Carney have offered some weekend longreads on the subject. Here's what they chose:
All my longreads this week are about Dick Fuld, the CEO of Lehman Brothers. As a reporter, I met Fuld many times, once in an elevator when he had heard I was doing a feature on the firm's "extreme makeover" into a powerhouse firm back in 2004. At the time, Lehman was making a strong push into the top tiers of investment banking, a standing it retained until its demise. Fuld surprised me; rather than being gruff or bossy, as was often rumored, he smiled shyly and politely, clearly worried about how his firm, so precious to him, would be portrayed in the press. The story of Lehman Brothers could be told through the story of Dick Fuld; he was a protective force for years, and he was emblematic of its tough-love culture: aggressive, but loyal in the end. When the firm started to collapse, many loyalists attributed it to Fuld being less involved and having passed on management to someone else. The infamous micromanager, who swaggered through the trading floors, had let go of power in early 2008 and to the minds of many at Lehman, he paid the price in September that year. Many are still angry at him - not for driving the firm into the ground, but for being unable to stop its fall.
So all of my longreads this week are about the culture of Lehman and the fall of Dick Fuld -- as a memorial, and also as a lesson that, whatever happens on Wall Street, it's never really about the numbers. It's about the people.
- In 2008, the anger against Fuld was overwhelming. This Reuters piece revisits the depth of the outrage.
- In 2009, Fuld was still a pariah, getting hate mail and making persistent apologies.
- Also in 2009, Fuld greeted a Reuters reporter who tracked him down to his Idaho ranch with the crisp, "You don't have a gun; that's good."
- Vicky Ward's 2010 Vanity Fair feature about the Desperate Housewives of Lehman shows an insight into the demands of Lehman culture from those who married into it. "Dick Fuld expects his executives to get married and stay married," the magazine writes.
- In the present day, Fuld is working in his advisory firm in midtown Manhattan; he has pitched big deals, Bloomberg Businessweek writes, but he has not won them.
- Phillip Swagel, a professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland who was assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department from 2006 to 2009, explains why no one in government had the legal authority to rescue Lehman. Treasury couldn't do it because it had no statutory authorization to use funds to do it. The Fed didn't believe Lehman had adequate collateral to back a loan.
- Matt Taibbi's half-crazed screed against Goldman deserves a place on any crisis reading list. It's a thrill ride of a read and a great antidote to the reporting by financial journalists who are often too close to their subjects to realize how insane of a place Wall Street really is.
- Earlier this year, I explained why the new capital requirements actually create risk. I hope someone starts paying attention to this before the world implodes again.
Conservationists hailed the move, because Hong Kong represents 50 percent of the shark fin trade. The country said it hoped the policy would raise public awareness about sustainability.
Evangeline Ordaz is responsible for the hit Hulu series East Los High. She's also working on a new play about changing LA demographics.
How do you break out of the pack if you're in a mayoral race with dozens of other candidates? In Minneapolis, one guy filmed an ad that's eye-catching and maybe even a little weird.
More attention should be paid, says Paulson, to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- and how little has changed at the two mortgage insurers since the government took them over in early September of 2008. Paulson says it necessary at the time to put Fannie and Freddie in conservatorship, “but it never dawned on me when we did this that they would still be in the current form that they are today.”
“We made some very hard choices, we did some unpopular things, we did some things that were distasteful even to ourselves,” says Paulson, reflecting on decisions he and his team made at the time.
Lehman's Legacy: A TimelineFollow the key events before and after the Lehman Brothers collapse, and see how the financial crisis unfolded. Follow the timeline
One of his greatest failures, he says was that he was “never able to convince the American people that this wasn’t for Wall Street.”
But says Paulson, the anger of the American people that lingers five years on is a good thing, in many ways. “It wouldn’t be good if the public got used to bailouts, got used to these rescues because we don’t want to have the rescues like we did.”
Paulson has reissued his book about the financial crisis, “On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System,” hoping to remind people that there’s still more to be done to fix the financial system. He’s also the subject of a new documentary about the worst days of the crisis, from the frenzied sale of Bear Stearns to Congress finally passing TARP. “Hank: 5 Years from the Brink” is co-produced by Bloomberg Businessweek and RadicalMedia and goes live on Netflix on September 16th.
The demonstrators have wreaked havoc on the country's capital, slowing traffic and clashing with police. The government wants them out of the historic square before the traditional independence day celebration.