National / International News

VIDEO: Clifford's daughter denies claims

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 09:28
Max Clifford's daughter has told a court that claims she knew about an alleged assault by her father are "completely untrue".

Sports Direct bonus scheme rejected

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 09:22
Sports Direct cancels a vote on a £73m bonus package for founder Mike Ashley after failing to gain enough shareholder support.

Keating's legacy, from John McCain to a camp classic

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-02 09:18
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 16:17 Nick Ut/Associated Press

Charles H. Keating Jr. in court in Los Angeles in 1992. Convicted of fraud, racketeering and conspiracy in state and federal trials, Mr. Keating went to prison for four and a half years.

Charles Keating, who died this week, is best-known as the poster boy for the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. More than 1,000 banks failed, and taxpayers spent a quarter-billion dollars bailing them out.

Here are a few of his more colorful legacies:

1. Keating gave birth to John McCain as-we-know-him. By making McCain a figure of shame.

Keating's status as the king of the S&L swindlers rests on his sponsorship of the "Keating Five": a group of five U.S. Senators whose campaigns he supported financially-- and who in turn attempted to dissuade regulators from investigating Keating's shenanigans. The sole Republican in the group was John McCain, then a relatively new U.S. Senator. McCain later called the episode "my asterisk" -- and became better-known as a bi-partisan crusader for campaign-finance reform.

2. Also on Keating's payroll in the 1980s: Alan Greenspan.

As a private economist, Alan Greenspan took on a consulting job for Keating in 1984. His job: Drafting a report to regulators, arguing that Keating's bank, Lincoln Savings and Loan, be exempted from certain rules because it was well-run. 

3. He was good for a shameless quote.  

From the New York Times obituary: "Mr. Keating, a 6-foot-5-inch beanpole who walked with a swagger, never minced words about buying political influence. Asked once whether his payments to politicians had worked, he told reporters, 'I want to say in the most forceful way I can: I certainly hope so.'”

4. He did like to peddle shame. 

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Keating was a huge anti-pornography crusader. He sponsored a hilarious infomercial The Atlantic called “The Reefer Madness of porn.”

5. We can thank him, in part, for financial tools that later blew up in 2008.

Roy Smith teaches finance at NYU. And he spent much of the 1980s at Goldman Sachs. "You have to remember that the S&L crisis actually spawned two of the financial industry's most lucrative product streams," he says. "One was the securitization of mortgages into mortgage-backed securities. Hello! Those things that blew up in 2008..."

They were created for sale to savings and loans. "The other was the derivatives business."

Smith says it took more deregulation, time, and financial creativity for both products to cause problems. 

Marketplace for Wednesday April 2, 2014by Dan WeissmannPodcast Title: Keating's legacy, from John McCain to a camp classicStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

AUDIO: How secure is paying by mobile?

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 09:18
A new smartphone service will allow banking customers to pay recipients using only their phone number.

A State Fossil For S. Carolina Faces Mammoth Obstacle

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-02 09:14

The state senate is wrangling with amendments to insert language inspired by the book of Genesis into a bill to make the Columbian mammoth the state's fossil.

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GM Has 'Culture Of Cover-Up,' Key Senator Says

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-02 09:14

For the second day, General Motors CEO Mary Barra faced tough questions from Congress about how her company responded to defects that contributed to at least 13 deaths.

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An uncertain future for big data in education

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-02 09:13
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 16:07 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Bill Gates sits next to students at Booker T. Washington high school in Miami, FL.

A victory for privacy advocates in New York spells trouble for a national effort to track student data--everything from grades and test scores to disabilities and suspensions. The New York State Education Department has confirmed it will no longer store any student information with the non-profit inBloom. That makes New York the last big customer to drop out of an initiative backed by the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation. Once boasting nine states as potential customers, the nonprofit group says it’s still talking with individual school districts around the country.

Marketplace for Wednesday April 2, 2014by Amy ScottPodcast Title: An uncertain future for big data in educationStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Tribute to wall collapse death pupil

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 09:09
The family of a pupil who died when a wall fell on her at school say she was their "princess" who dreamed of becoming prime minister.

Barcelona given transfer ban by Fifa

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 08:53
Spanish champions Barcelona are given a 14-month transfer ban for breaking rules on signing international players under 18.

PM baffled by Waitrose free tea row

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 08:47
There is nothing wrong with Waitrose offering its customers free tea and coffee, David Cameron says.

The Old And Mysterious Practice Of Eating Dirt, Revealed

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-02 08:46

Women, particularly pregnant women around the world, have been known to crave "white dirt." A filmmaker explores the hidden practice in the South, where baggies of the stuff are sold at flea markets.

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E-cigs face curb in public places

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 08:31
Wales could be the first part of the UK to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in enclosed public places under plans for a new public health law.

VIDEO: Principal: 'Yashika is terrified'

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 08:29
A student is due to be deported on Wednesday from north London to her native Mauritius. Her school principal Lynne Dawes said the student was "petrified".

The dramatic changes in the stock floor trading businesses

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-02 08:27

Goldman Sachs Group is reportedly trying to sell one of its stock floor trading businesses (a firm called Spear, Leeds & Kellogg). Goldman paid $6.5 billion dollars in stock and cash for it 14 years ago, but may sell it for a mere $30 million – or less.

High Hopes

When Goldman first purchased Spear, Leeds & Kellogg, it was acquiring what’s known as a “market maker” and a “specialist”.  You can think of specialists as the auctioneers and market supervisors for a certain type of stock.  Much like the person who runs the butcher section of the bazaar that is the stock market, it’s the place on the trading floor you go to buy and sell a certain type of stocks. 

Specialists would be the auctioneers of certain stocks, they would help bring interested buyers and sellers together, and they could put in electronic  instructions for orders (don’t buy or sell  X stock until it hits Y price). 

Goldman Sachs announced that with its purchase of such a specialist firm, it was now “at the forefront of advanced technology.”

Unfortunately for them, that was not the case. 

What happened?  Computers happened.

“The way we visualize the stock markets has completely changed,” explains Eugene White, professor of economics at Rutgers University. No longer are swarms of brokers scurrying across the trading floor to a specialist’s post. “That’s gone right now pretty much.” 

Many orders are now akin to sizeable parking lot deals, done not in one central clearing house for a stock category but rather on any number of servers, says White.  Around half of all stock trades are done this way --  electronically through high speed trading. Computers implement orders and react to prices on their own, and on different electronic exchanges. And the volumes are enormous – often larger than any specialist could reasonably accommodate.   

“What’s happened is that there are huge orders now that come in and which are negotiated directly between different parties,” says White.

These deals are done millions of times a second and automatically. In fact, computers have gotten so  good at doing this they’ve driven down profits for all middle men – computers and humans alike. 

“The spreads have narrowed enormously,” says White, referring to the profits that specialists would make as middle men. It’s a long term trend dating back 50 years, but the rise of high speed trading  has accelerated it apace. 

It’s one other reason why a company that Goldman Sachs Group bought for $6.5 billion may sell for just a fraction of that - reportedly just $30 million --  “not even really the price of a trophy apartment” for a Goldman executive in New York, says White.

Amazon launches TV streaming device

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 08:25
Amazon reveals its Fire TV, a set-top box for streaming video content and playing games.

'Love drug' increases group lying

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 08:18
Members of a group are more likely to lie after they inhale the "love hormone" oxytocin, a study finds.

Turkey's Twitter ban illegal - court

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 08:09
Turkey's ban on the social media site Twitter violates freedom of expression and individual rights, the country's constitutional court has ruled.

UK concern over Gibraltar 'incursion'

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 08:08
The Foreign Office summons the Spanish ambassador over a "serious incursion" by Spanish ships into waters off Gibraltar.

Man Utd tactics 'almost like handball'

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 08:04
Arjen Robben says Manchester United's deep defence made their Champions League tie "almost like handball".

Poor Protestant boys underachieving

BBC - Wed, 2014-04-02 08:02
Poorer Protestant boys in Northern Ireland are seriously underachieving at school a new report says.
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