National / International News

The numbers for September 29, 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:51

Police fired 87 canisters of tear gas at the Occupy Central protesters in Hong Kong Sunday, injuring at least 40, but the pro-democracy activists stayed put on Monday. Riot police have reportedly backed off from the crowd, but are still urging protesters to disperse. The crowd is protesting a move from Beijing they say will put restrictions on the election for city executive in 2017.

As we keep an eye on the situation in Hong Kong, here are some of the other stories we're reading Monday.

$85 billion

The value of the Federal Reserve's loan to AIG, amid the 2008 financial crisis. Starting Monday, a federal judge will weigh whether the bailout, which gave the government a nearly 80 percent stake in the company, was legal. The six-week trial will call on former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury secretaries Timothy Geithner and Henry "Hank" Paulson, Reuters reported.

$780 to $930 million

The estimated cost of U.S.-led airstrikes against the extremist group ISIS in Syria, according to a report from Center of Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The report also gives projected costs of the conflict, depending on the continued airstrikes and the number of ground forces potentially deployed. Some estimates were as high as $22 billion per year.

1.3 billion

Facebook's massive user base's data will be used in a new advertising platform called Atlas, launching Monday. The service, bought from Microsoft last year, will use Facebook data for targeted ads across the web and in mobile apps, The New York Times reported. Like all things Facebook, it comes with a bevy of privacy concerns.

Afghanistan's New President: 'Hold Me Accountable'

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:50

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai takes over from Hamid Karzai after a disputed election that forced a unity government with rival candidate Abdullah Abdullah.

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Celebrate us, elite schools urge

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:49
Private schools should be celebrated rather than used as scapegoats, the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference is told.

Trump 'may sue' over Fred West tweet

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:47
Billionaire Donald Trump says he "may sue" the Twitter user who tricked him into retweeting an image of British serial killers Fred and Rose West.

Garcia steps down as Watford boss

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:44
Oscar Garcia steps down as Watford boss 27 days into his tenure following ill health and is replaced by Billy McKinlay.

Lloyds fires eight staff over Libor

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:43
Lloyds Banking Group dismisses eight staff members following an investigation into the manipulation of some key interest rates set in London.

Spanish official stabbed in Sudan

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:41
Police in Sudan say a Spanish embassy official has been found stabbed to death at his home in the capital, Khartoum.

Mogadishu residents 'feeling safer'

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:36
Residents of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, are feeling safer and more optimistic than they were a year ago, a survey says.

Snapchat hit by weightloss spam scam

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:31
Accounts on messaging service Snapchat have been hijacked to send spam - but the site says it was not the victim of a hack.

Migrant deaths in Med pass 3,000

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:27
The International Organization for Migration finds that a record 3,072 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean so far this year.

Clarke rift will not sway McGinley

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:16
Paul McGinley says his relationship with Darren Clarke will not influence the appointment of Europe's next Ryder Cup captain.

Should You Do The Do-Over If There's A Chance For A Second Chance?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:11

As world-class violinist Joshua Bell plans a second Washington, D.C. Metro performance, we reflect on the rare opportunity to try something again.

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VIDEO: Occupy Central - in 60 seconds

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:07
Hong Kong protests and the background to the Occupy Central movement - in 60 seconds.

Clydeport fined after tug deaths

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:05
Port operator Clydeport is fined £650,000 over health and safety failures after three men drowned when their tug boat sank in the River Clyde.

Biting the hand that feeds you?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:00

On Monday, the federal government will be on trial in Washington. It’s being sued over the government bailout of the insurance giant American International Group, or AIG.

In the fall of 2008, the government made an offer to AIG. In essence: We’ll loan you $85 billion. In return, we get a nearly 80 percent stake in AIG.

The suit is being spearheaded by a former CEO of the company, Hank Greenberg, who now heads Starr International Co. He says the government violated the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says the government can’t seize private property without just compensation.  

Hester Peirce is a senior research fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center. She’s not unsympathetic to Greenberg. But she thinks he’ll lose.

“Arguing that you were entitled to government assistance during a crisis is a pretty weak argument,” she says.

The government says AIG’s board approved the bailout, and the company couldn’t dictate the terms of its rescue. If the government wins, the case could set some loose ground rules for future bailouts of financial institutions.

“The institutions do have to agree to government terms if they want the assistance," says Marcus Stanley, policy director for Americans for Financial Reform.

And, he says, they can’t go back and object to the terms, long after the bailout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall Street’s Inner Sanctum

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-29 07:00

Once during the roaring '90s, I was ushered into the high temple of Wall Street. You might be thinking Goldman Sachs, but its headquarters are near, but not on, Wall Street. The high temple of Wall Street is the big church that presides over the street’s high end, Trinity.

I was interviewing the Rev. Dan Matthews, the Episcopal priest who was, at the time, rector of Trinity. The topic was what we then called “socially responsible investment,” a way to apply an investor’s personal values to a portfolio. Trinity owns a lot of Manhattan real estate and I was curious if the parish screens its massive portfolio to be sure it doesn’t own securities in companies that do things the church finds morally repugnant. 

Not really, came the answer. Matthews told me that his board of directors consisted of captains of Wall Street, and, try as he might, he could never get his vestry to agree on good versus bad companies (beyond their capacities to generate future profits). There was a strong view that it was the board’s fiduciary responsibility to make sure the church’s portfolio generated the best return. It was the job of priests and parishioners to then decide what good works could be done with the proceeds.

That was 18 years ago, and the movement has come a long, long way. Many practitioners have taken the word “social” out of the acronym; it’s still SRI, but Socially Responsible Investing now stands for Sustainable, Responsible, Impact investing. It involves much more than screening out companies that do stuff you don’t like (like despoiling the Earth). It can also mean rewarding companies that do better than their peers to address social ills as you, the investor, see them. SRI is also about shareholder engagement. Investors are part-owners of companies and can band together to pressure management to clean up its act.

All those years ago, SRI might have come off as hippie investing money management for the granola set. Now, it’s very big business, with some of the largest investment companies in the world prepared to screen portfolios.

It may be that this month SRI reached a new milestone: a high-level call for governments to help with this movement. Some of the most powerful people in the world have, in essence, endorsed what they label as Impact Investing. British Prime Minister David Cameron, as then-head of the Group of Eight club of nations, had called for a committee to be pulled together on the subject. The U.S., Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia and the European Union delegated one senior official and one prominent figure from the private sector to the group. Their mission: to figure out ways to take Impact Investing to the next level, so it can do even more to make the world a better place. The project grew out of the sense that persists after the great financial collapse of 2008 that the world of finance needs to “build a health society rather than endanger it.”

You’ve heard of the “invisible hand”? The group has just released a report calling “Impact Investing” the “invisible heart” of markets. I spoke with Matthew Bishop, New York Bureau Chief for The Economist magazine, who served as the fancy group’s reporter. He said the group embraced the notion of “three-dimensional investing,” adding social and environmental impact to the usual elements of risk and reward. He is also excited about new ways of measuring the effects of impact investing.

What’s next? The report argues that it is now time for governments to play a key role in markets that make the world healthier by making sure that regulations aren’t a stumbling block for these social innovations. Government can also make sure that when it spends its big money, it does its part to demand the similar kinds of social returns that investors may increasingly ask of their portfolios. 

Memorial for stab death teacher

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 06:55
Tributes are paid to a teacher who was stabbed to death in her classroom, at a memorial service attended by about 1,200 people.

IS and Iraq battle over key town

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 06:50
Iraqi ground forces, backed by air strikes, appear to have halted advancing Islamic State (IS) militants in a key town near Baghdad.

Masked men threaten family in home

BBC - Mon, 2014-09-29 06:45
Four armed men wearing masks break into an Edinburgh house during the night, threatening a couple and their 10-year-old boy.

What's At Stake For Hong Kong?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-29 06:36

As thousands of people throng Hong Kong's financial district to protest for democratic reforms, many wonder whether Beijing will crack down.

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