National / International News
Boston's Fenway Park is the hallowed home of the Red Sox, famous for the so-called "green monster" wall that lives out in high left field and the lone red seat in the bleachers that marks the park's farthest home run.
David Mellor, director of grounds at Fenway Park, keeps the park and all its famous landmarks in good shape and ready for ball games.
Mellor knows all there is to know about the park itself, including temperaments of the green monster.
"The green monster, being 37 feet high and green, absorbs a lot of heat," says Mellor. He says during the spring, fall and winter, the massive heat-absorbing wall helps melt the snow and warm up the grass. "But in the summer, that radiant heat is something we have to monitor and make sure the grass doesn't get too hot or dry out," Mellor explains.
Before it was his job to take care of the park, Mellor dreamt of pitching for Major League Baseball. But a tragic accident ruined Mellor's plans to become a player for the MLB.
"A month after I got out of high school, before I could play baseball in college, I was hit by a car," says Mellor.
In the end, Mellor was destined for Fenway.
"My job is the next best thing to playing, I'm very honored to be here," Mellor says.
For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try the YUMBO. It's a Burger King sandwich with ham and cheese recently pulled out of retirement.
The Israeli leader, in an attempt to get his supporters to vote last week, warned that Arab citizens were voting "in droves" to unseat his government. The comments were widely criticized.
A review of the city's 394 officer-involved shootings between 2007 and 2014 also found police recruits were not trained in a "systematic and modular fashion."
With fast food now a staple at home and Danish and Spanish chefs in the limelight, France's culinary supremacy is no longer a given. The government has mobilized to save French food traditions.
Michael Lewis is always writing something, and, more often than not, something damning about the financial industry. Most recently, his book "Flash Boys" followed Brad Katsuyama, a Wall Street insider who saw significant problems in high frequency trading.
In a new afterword for the paperback edition, also published in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, Lewis notes, "When I sat down to write 'Flash Boys,' in 2013, I didn’t intend to see just how angry I could make the richest people on Wall Street."
The anger was simply a byproduct of what Lewis thought was a straightforward story.
"The story was: what happens when a good man walks onto Wall Street and finds a problem," Lewis says. "But of course it irritated all the people who were making lots of money off the problem."
That problem was a result of high frequency trading, the transactions that happen in microseconds or nano-seconds. Traders at large firms had access to information moments before other investors, essentially a view a just fractions of a second into the future. Multiply a few pennies to their advantage over 2 million trades per second, it adds up.
Katsuyama created his own exchange which, Lewis says, puts a few speed bumps in front of that supersonic trading to create a level playing field. Called IEX, it's growing, with backing from venture capitalists and institutional investors. Will that be enough to solve the problem?
"I think there's every possibility, over a period of five to ten years of market-based change," Lewis says. "I don't hold a lot of hope of other sources of change."
Other sources of change could include new regulation, or self-imposed discipline on the part of traders. Regulation would be the purvey of the Securities and Exchange Commission, but officials there have radically different views on how well the market is functioning. On one hand, chair Mary Jo White has told Congress that markets are operating well. Contrast that with former SEC official John Ramsay, who likened the structure of U.S. stock markets to the Death Star. Ramsay is among Lewis's sources, and has gone on to join IEX.
As for self-discipline, there's too much money encouraging traders to stick with current habits.
"If you go back to the financial crisis, what caused it wasn't really bad people, it was people badly incentivized," Lewis said. "This is that all over again. It's a very badly incentivized stock market."
And, depressing as that is, it gets worse. At least when Lewis asked the experts he featured in "Flash Boys."
"If the market continues to be structured as it is, you're looking at the next financial crisis."