National / International News

Sushi's Secret: Why We Get Hooked On Raw Fish

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:42

We love raw seafood but can't stand uncooked fowl or pork. Why? A big part of it is the effective lack of gravity in water, a scientist says. Weightlessness gives fish muscles a smooth, soft texture.

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The aftertaste of bailouts

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:41

Four years ago, I accompanied then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to India.

He was there for the U.S.-India Economic Summit, and I was one of the few journalists along for the ride. I’d traveled with Geithner a few times before, and what struck me most was how relaxed he was on this trip. Geithner had grown up in India, in part. And he was, unmistakably, having fun there.

He blanched a bit when I suggested it then. But then considered the question. Part of his comfort level, he agreed, was his childhood. But another part, he suggested, was being in a part of the world familiar with economic crises. And unorthodox responses to them. Everyone was simply not as panicked.

I met with him again this week. His publisher invited a handful of journalists to an on-the-record coffee to discuss Geithner’s new memoir, Stress Test, much of which is spent defending his response to the financial crisis. It’s a philosophy very clearly shaped by his time at the Treasury Department during the Asian financial crises of the 1990s: act fast to prevent a panic, and then, he reiterated this week, “you go figure out how to bring a measure of justice.”

That approach is clearly controversial. It’s something economists and regular Americans will argue about for decades, especially as they see large banks continue to prosper. Geither is spending a heck of a press tour defending his view. Is he being disingenuous? I think it’s hard to say.

His contention is that punishment for malefactors is important, “but you need to make sure you’re not putting that ahead of what I think is the primary moral imperative: which is to prevent mass unemployment in the country.”

The book has come under criticism from many of the sharpest economic reporters around. From Felix Salmon, who was at this coffee, for overselling his role as a change agent at the New York Fed. And from Jesse Eisinger for many of the watered down solutions the Obama economic team was willing to accept.

Geithner has a strong preference for the art of the possible. Several of the reporters at this coffee asked him about the administration’s woeful record on housing. At one point, for example, the Obama team was behind a proposal that would have allowed some borrowers to reduce the principal of their mortgage if they filed for bankruptcy. The plan ran into trouble on Capitol Hill, and it was abandoned. “The president had a very talented legislative team,” Geithner said. “They tried. He told them to try, and they were not successful.”

He added: “You need a congress that can do stuff. And our system is set up so that it’s easier to block stuff than to do stuff.”

Perhaps the subject that resonates most for regular Americans is the hardest for Geithner, Hank Paulson, or anyone in either the Bush or Obama administrations to prove. That without TARP, or the subsequent lending programs, bailouts and what-have-you; we’d be worse off.  I don’t envy anyone who has to prove that negative.

Geithner himself agrees that he was terrible at explaining it. Reflecting on his opening policy speech in office, he writes: “It was a bad speech, badly delivered, rattling confidence at a bad time.” As someone who covered the crisis closely, I remember watching the markets plummet as he spoke, wondering what cataclysmic shoe would drop next.

And that brings us to the bitterest aftertaste of all the bailouts: the sense that those who gambled and were rescued with public money have never paid.  Geithner calls himself “a big believer in a powerful deterrent on the enforcement side.”

Yet when I asked him for an example of successful deterrence, he couldn’t name one. “You’ve gotta remind people, “ he said, “that I don’t get to make those judgments.” He added that the Justice Department’s prosecutors “were massively focused.”

Still, he said “its relative absence hurt us. Hurt the president a lot.” And perhaps that perception always will.

What can you be flogged for in Iran?

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:34
A campaign has begun in Iran to get an actress flogged after she was seen being kissed at the Cannes Festival.

Go Figure: The week in numbers

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:31
The week's big numbers visualised

PODCAST: Can London always be a world finance capital?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:28

U.S. and European Union officials wrap-up the latest round of talks today as they negotiate a free trade deal called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

London is heart of the global economy, according to a new survey out this week. But can the city hang on to its position?

Tonight's New 'Giraffes' Meteor Shower Could Be A Great One

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:28

Astronomers say an all-new meteor shower could put on a show for much of the U.S., starting as early as 10:30 p.m. ET Friday. The Camelopardalids shower is named after the giraffe constellation.

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Netflix plans UK drama about Queen

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:19
Online subscription service Netflix is set to order its first original British drama The Crown, written by The Queen screenwriter Peter Morgan.

Inside the 'cult of Saracens'

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:17
Beer festivals, half-time pies and Christmas gifts for the kids - Saracens' unorthodox route to the top of Europe.

Cameron: No 'pacts and deals'

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:17
David Cameron says there will be no pact with UKIP after the Eurosceptics' gains in the council elections.

Miliband: I'll win back UKIP voters

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:11
Ed Miliband pledges to win back voters from UKIP in time for next year's general election after losing ground to Nigel Farage's party.

Joe Cole released by West Ham United

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:10
West Ham United release midfielders Joe Cole, Jack Collison and defender George McCartney at the end of their contracts.

Bosses 'ask Prost for advice' on F1 pair

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:07
Alain Prost says it will be difficult to keep the relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg harmonious.

Thai army detains ex-PM Yingluck

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 08:07
Thailand's ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra is detained along with family members and politicians, as the army tightens its grip following Thursday's coup.

UN imposes sanctions on Boko Haram

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 07:59
The UN Security Council approves sanctions against the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, five weeks after it kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls.

New fracking land rules proposed

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 07:57
The UK government proposes new rules regarding rights to access land in a bid to speed up the introduction of fracking.

10 things we didn't know last week

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 07:52
French trains are fatter than 50 years ago and more news nuggets

Weekendish: Ghostly 'spaceman' and ha'pennies

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 07:52
Some of the best reads from the website this week

In pictures: Glasgow School of Art fire

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 07:41
Blaze takes hold at Glasgow School of Art

McKenzie devastated by NI21 turmoil

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 07:35
It will be difficult for Basil McCrea and John McCallister to remain as leader and deputy leader of NI21 due to the internal party turmoil, its European candidate says.

What future for a 'failing' service?

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-23 07:31
How easy will it be to turn around a 'failing' service?
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