Reuters blog archive
from Photographers' Blog:
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Sao Paulo, Brazil
By Nacho Doce
It was a night like any other, until my phone rang at 1:30 am. I reached to answer it without turning on the light. A woman on the other end said, “My water broke.”
“Manu?” I asked. Manuela, or Manu, said that I should come over to her house right away. I hung up and walked over to my sofa and looked at the cameras and lenses, without knowing if I had even charged the battery.
The phone rang again and it was Andre, Manu’s husband. I answered it with a question. “Damn, did she already give birth?” Andre said no, but asked in how long I would be arriving so he could tell the doorman. I took a quick shower, grabbed my gear, drank coffee, and in half an hour I was on my way along empty streets.
I was about to witness, at least through my viewfinder, a child’s birth for the first time. Two days earlier I had visited Andre and Manu, and they told me they planned to have their two-year-old daughter Alice with them when their new son, Gael, was being born. I was shocked, but thought it a great experience for Alice. The girl would see her brother emerge into their lives, without just “appearing” like magic from the hospital. Alice would have the greatest experience that a child could have with her sibling.
from Felix Salmon:
Peter Rudegeair is worried about Helocs. In particular, he’s worried about all the home equity lines of credit which were written in the run-up to the financial crisis, and which are now beginning to turn 10 years old. When they do that, their default rates have a tendency to spike, since most borrowers have to start paying down their principal after ten years.
Here’s the chart, which I put together from FDIC data; the red line marks the ten-years-ago point.
from Ian Bremmer:
In 2005, Karen Hughes became George W. Bush’s undersecretary of public diplomacy. Her charge, both poorly defined and ill-timed, was to improve America’s international image in the years after the country had launched two wars. Other countries will side with us and do what we want if only we better explain our point of view, the thinking went, and make them see us as we see ourselves. By the time Hughes left office in 2007, international opinion of the U.S. was no higher than it was when she arrived, according to polls.
And yet, this kind of if-we-say-it-clearly-enough-they-will-listen diplomacy is not exclusive to the Bush administration. It has carried over into the Obama White House. So when an Obama administration official says that Washington welcomes a “strong, responsible, and prosperous China” that plays a “constructive” role in regional and global institutions, Chinese officials are left to wonder who gets to decide what the words “responsible” and “constructive” mean for China’s foreign policy. Responsible and constructive for whom?
from Stories I’d like to see:
In the wake of the failed launch of Healthcare.gov there has been some spectacular insider coverage, particularly by the Washington Post and New York Times, of the failure of the private contractors to deliver what they promised when they won the assignments to build the federal insurance exchange. But while there has been some mention of problems with the contract procurement process itself (focusing on the notion that in Washington the IT providers who win the contracts are better at winning IT contracts than at doing cutting-edge IT), one piece of the story has so far been missing: Who actually decided to award the Healthcare.gov contract to CGI and the others who shared the work? And on exactly what basis?
We know the winners had invested heavily over the years to get on a list of pre-qualified companies who could bid on contracts like this one, a tortuous process that the best and brightest technology companies outside the Beltway typically don’t bother with because they have too much more rewarding work to do in the private sector, where the bidding process is more straightforward. But we still haven’t gotten a good picture of who in the government runs these processes.
from The Great Debate:
A recent visit by President Obama to an Ohio steel mill underscored his promise to create 1 million manufacturing jobs. On the same day, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced her department's commitment to exports, saying "Trade must become a bigger part of the DNA of our economy."
These two impulses -- to reinvigorate manufacturing and to emphasize exports -- are, or should be, joined at the hip. The U.S. needs an export strategy led by research and development, and it needs it now. A serious federal commitment to R&D would help arrest the long-term decline in manufacturing, and return America to its preeminent and competitive positions in high tech. At the same time, increasing sales of these once-key exports abroad would improve our also-declining balance of trade.
from The Great Debate:
For these big companies with pliable ethics, if they don’t win political conflicts with campaign donations or lobbying power, then they play dirty. Very dirty.
from Expert Zone:
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)
With half the financial year gone by, it’s time to take stock of the insurance sector. Let me start with life insurance.
It was a tough year as new norms for a majority of insurance products - which were to be effective Oct. 1, 2013 but later postponed to Jan. 1, 2014 - were hanging like a sword over the business.
from Nidhi Verma:
NEW DELHI, Nov 25 (Reuters) - India could step up crude
imports from Iran next month and start transferring billions of
dollars it owes for oil as early as next week, following a deal
between Tehran and six world powers to curb the Islamic
Republic's nuclear programme.
The agreement eases some of the sanctions on trade with Iran
that have slashed the OPEC member's exports by more than half
and cost it as much as $80 billion in lost oil sales since the
beginning of 2012, according to White House estimates.
from Felix Salmon:
If you google "disrupt the pink aisle”, you’ll get 36,800 results, all of which concern a San Francisco-based toy company named GoldieBlox. The company first came to public attention in September of last year, when it launched a highly-successful Kickstarter campaign which ultimately raised $285,881. Like all successful Kickstarter campaigns, there was a viral video; this one featured a highly-photogenic CEO called Debbie, a recent graduate of — you probably don’t need me to tell you this — Stanford University. And yes, before the Kickstarter campaign, there was “a seed round from friends, family and angel investors”. When the viral video kept on generating pre-orders even after the Kickstarter campaign ended, GoldieBlox looked like a classic Silicon Valley startup: young, exciting, fast-growing, and — of course — disruptive.
Not wanting to mess with a proven formula, GoldieBlox kept on producing those viral videos: “GoldieBlox Breaks into Toys R Us” was based on Queen’s “We Are The Champions”, and got over a million views. But that was nothing compared to their latest video, uploaded only a week ago, and already well on its way to getting ten times that figure. This one was based on an early Beastie Boys song, “Girls”, and deliciously subverted it to turn it into an empowering anthem.
from Photographers' Blog:
San Salvador, El Salvador
By Ulises Rodriguez
The clock on the wall marked four in the morning. It was a cold and wet Saturday in July, but I was sitting in the warm offices of El Salvador’s Red Cross. Suddenly, the relative calm and silence in the emergency unit was interrupted when the phone rang. The loud noise made me jump. The phone operator said: “What is your name? If you don’t identify yourself, we can’t help you.”
I went to the operator and asked him what was happening. He said that there had been a report of a woman who had been beaten, raped several times and then left for dead in a ditch. He said that they would take her to hospital because of the severity of her injuries and I asked to go along.