National / International News

Mum jailed for toddler bath drowning

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 09:09
The mother of a toddler, who drowned in a bath in Hull, is sentenced to three years in prison for his manslaughter.

Training call after restraint death

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 08:57
A coroner who investigated the death of a man after he was ejected from a nightclub warns others could die unless police training improves.

Hurricane Arthur loses strength

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 08:50
Hurricane Arthur has weakened in strength after hitting North Carolina's barrier islands overnight, causing thousands of homes to lose power.

German Held On Suspicion Of Passing Classified Information

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-04 08:28

News reports say the unidentified man worked for Germany's spy agency and passed secrets to the U.S. Ties between the countries have been affected by revelations the NSA spied on Germans.

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10 things we didn't know last week

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 08:25
Kangaroos use their tails as a third leg, and more nuggets from the week's news.

Weekendish: Hay fever discovered and Ganges swimming

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 08:21
Strange origins of hay fever and other great reads

Why do they still have floor traders at the NYSE?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-07-04 08:15

Listener John Wang, who dabbles in a little online trading, wrote in to ask this:

“I’ve always wondered why there are still people on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. It always seems kind of strange that they're there, now that we have computers and networks for doing all sorts of trades.”

Most of us have a mental picture of floor traders at the stock market – men in blue jackets, shouting at each other, waving bits of paper, gesturing wildly with hand signals.

“Even though it looks chaotic to people, it's actually very crystal clear what was going on to the people down on the floor,” says Johanna Lee, director of a documentary film called The Pit, about a group of floor brokers at the New York Board of Trade.

The guys in her movie dealt in coffee futures. And they used to do something called open outcry, setting the price right then and there in an open pit.

Lee made the film at an interesting time, back in 2011, just as the New York Board of trade – like almost every other exchange – was going electronic.

So what's it like on Wall Street now?

I went to find out at the New York Stock Exchange: the grand stage of American capital markets. It has an impressive carved stone ceiling, in which you can see the nearly 200 years of history – which is totally at odds with the rows of computer screens that line every single booth in the hall.

On the floor, traders in their blue jackets are everywhere.

“I spent my whole career in this building,” says Kenny Polcari, a trader for O'Neill Securities who represents an institutional investor. “For me it's really all I know.”

Polcari, a fast-talker with a big laugh and sense of humor, says things work very differently today from when he first started out in this job 30 years ago.

“Today it's defined by technology. It's defined by high-speed computers that take the emotion out of investing. Some say it's good. I, on the other hand… Listen, part of what investing was about was the emotion. You come down here 25 or 30 years ago, the emotion blew the roof off the building every single day. It was just so exciting.”

But here's the thing - for all the excitement and history and prestige, the NYSE actually handles a tiny amount of the overall volume of trades in the U.S.

So who does the rest of the trading? Robots.

“Robots now do anywhere between 50 and 75 percent of the trades in the United States,” says Bob Ivry, who works for Bloomberg News and wrote a book called The Seven Sins of Wall Street.

Ivry says the real action takes place in a high-security warehouse in a small town in New Jersey. That's where you'll find computers trading at lightning speed. They're also cheaper and more efficient than humans.

Hooray for robots, right? Not quite.

“They are there when the going is good,” says Ivry. “The minute the prices start plummeting, for any reason, what the robots do is they run for the hills. They're nowhere to be seen when that stock is going down.”

Computers have been known to cause a flash crash – where prices tumble uncontrollably, causing a lot of damage. But the reality is, automated trading has taken over.

So does that make traders like Kenny Polcari an endangered species?

Polcari believes there is still a role for human judgement in the system, especially when the market is fragmented. “You almost have to develop a sixth sense, you have to be able to feel the liquidity,” he says.  “Today brokers use that sixth sense to try and assess supply and demand in a fractured market structure. And I think that’s part of the challenge but that’s also part of the key, that’s how you’re able to represent customers.”

“As far as the nuts and bolts of trading are concerned, they're already gone,” says Ivry. “If you consider there's some theatre involved – and I do – then they have a specific and necessary function. They put a face to the battle of the robots. All those traders down there in their blue smocks and their pins – they put a face on trading, on American capitalism.”

Ivry says we need a narrative to tell us how to invest our money in a way that will help communities. Trading algorithms are “a brutal and souless way of allocating capital,” he says.

Back at the New York Stock Exchange, it's a good thing trader Kenny Polcari is a “Type A” personality.                      

“I think that's fair,” Polcari says with a hearty laugh. “I love being the face of Wall Street.”

Go Figure: The week in numbers

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 08:09
The week's big numbers visualised

To see yourself as others do

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 08:07
The knack of seeing yourself as others do

VIDEO: 'I feared Harris would rape me'

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 08:05
A woman who gave evidence in court against disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris has said she feared she would be raped when she was sexually abused by him while on holiday in Malta.

Andy Coulson jailed for 18 months

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 08:03
Former News of the World editor and Number 10 director of communications Andy Coulson is jailed for 18 months for conspiracy to hack phones.

PODCAST: European banks leery of Bitcoin

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-07-04 07:53

The European Banking Authority is recommending that banks there keep away from Bitcoin, a virtual currency favored by techies, libertarians, and, sometimes, criminals.

Drivers this summer are paying the highest gas prices since 2008, in part because of the turmoil in Iraq. But mass transit riders are also feeling the sting of new rate increases in cities like Boston, St. Louis, and D.C. Some of this is driven by increasing operating costs, but even with these fare hikes, the transit systems will still lose money.

In India poor investment in cold storage warehouses and supply chain infrastructure means that a lot of food is wasted before reaching consumers-- 7 billion dollars every year.

PODCAST: European banks leery of Bitcoin

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-07-04 07:53

The European Banking Authority is recommending that banks there keep away from Bitcoin, a virtual currency favored by techies, libertarians, and, sometimes, criminals.

Drivers this summer are paying the highest gas prices since 2008, in part because of the turmoil in Iraq. But mass transit riders are also feeling the sting of new rate increases in cities like Boston, St. Louis, and D.C. Some of this is driven by increasing operating costs, but even with these fare hikes, the transit systems will still lose money.

In India poor investment in cold storage warehouses and supply chain infrastructure means that a lot of food is wasted before reaching consumers-- 7 billion dollars every year.

Marriage certificate could change

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 07:52
The Home Office is considering updating marriage certificates to include space for mothers' names.

Queen names UK's biggest warship

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 07:47
The Queen says the UK's largest warship "marks a new phase in our naval history", as it is named in her honour at a ceremony in Fife.

French teacher 'stabbed by parent'

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 07:46
A primary school teacher in the southern French town of Albi has been stabbed to death in front of her class by a pupil's mother, police say.

Indian nurses trapped in Iraq freed

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 07:33
A group of 46 Indian nurses trapped in northern Iraq for the past three weeks have been released, Indian authorities say.

How LeBron James is changing how athletes are paid

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-07-04 07:28

There's a huge shift happening this month in the world of sports. We're in the middle of the free agency period, where NBA players are eligible to sign with any team.

And Lebron James, considered the best player in the NBA, is reinventing not only how NBA players get paid, but maybe professional athletes as a whole.

We wanted to explore why, so went down to the legendary West 4th Street basketball courts in New York City to meet up with sports business analyst Keith Reed.

Reed called LeBron maybe "the only truly free athlete in America."

"[LeBron] was an investor in Beats electronics. That just sold for $3 billion. He made $30 million sitting on his couch just from that Beats transaction. And so, when people talk about, 'Why is LeBron opting out of his contract, and what's he going to do?' At that stage of the game, he's made his money."

Brandon Grier is an agent who represents NBA players a little further down in the hierarchy, and sees how contracts go beyond just the single player on the court. "You're dealing with not just an individual's life, but the families that are affected by it as well. A lot of time these guys are the breadwinners as well."

Grier's company Principle Management represents four solid, but not superstar, NBA players. He says the free agency period is important to the average fan — not just the players.

"It affects the product that they consume for their enjoyment. I believe the super teams in big markets are great for the NBA, you either love them or you hate them. But one way or another you're watching. So the better the ratings are for the NBA, the better the business does in general. Because TV is the cash cow now.

And speaking of that cash cow, this weekend's number: 18 million. For 18 million viewers.

That's how many people tuned in to watch the San Antonio Spurs beat Lebron James and his teammates on the Miami Heat in this year's NBA finals, according to Nielsen, up 10 percent from last year.

Djokovic battles into Wimbledon final

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 07:27
Top seed Novak Djokovic sees off Grigor Dimitrov in four sets to reach his third Wimbledon final in four years.

Nigeria arrests 'Boko Haram women'

BBC - Fri, 2014-07-04 07:25
Three women have been arrested in Nigeria for recruiting female members for the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, the military says.
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