Events

2014 Detroit Auto Show: Looking Ahead to the Past

Paul Lienert
Jan 15, 2014 22:07 UTC

The organizers of the annual Detroit auto show rebranded the event 25 years ago as the North American International Auto Show. But the 2014 edition — my 40th Detroit show for those who are keeping score — takes me back to the early 1970s when local auto dealers hosted what was still a regional event focused largely on domestic brands. In fact, the hometown angle had been the dominant theme since the show originated in 1907 at Beller’s Beer Garden.

This year, the big news in Detroit is Ford’s redesigned F-150 pickup truck and a new crop of performance cars, including hot editions of the Ford Mustang and the Chevy Corvette. Guess what. I could have written that headline back in 1974.

Except there’s a topical twist: Contemporary sports cars — even the big F-series pickup — are redefining and expanding Americans’ concept of performance to include energy and environmental conservation. Strangely enough, the carmakers seem to have discovered that horsepower and fuel economy aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, as they once argued.

Take the Mustang, which has been around car shows even longer than me. The latest version, which marks the original pony car’s 50th birthday, still offers buyers the choice of a big V8 — or, for the first time in years, a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that provides much better gas mileage, but still packs a serious wallop.

You’ll still be able to order a big V8 this fall in the new 2015 F-150 truck. But it’s so much lighter, thanks to a switch to all-aluminum body panels, that a new turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 will furnish the same level of acceleration and speed as last year’s truck with a 6.2-liter V8. And you can expect fuel economy to go up by 3 to 5 miles per gallon.

Syrian refugee schools flourish in southern Turkey

Jan 2, 2014 20:53 UTC

Reyhanli, Turkey – In a classroom in southern Turkey, 8-year-old children proudly display their colored-pencil drawings. They include images of the things that make them happiest: hearts, houses and other images typical for children their age. They also show anti-aircraft missiles and revolutionary flags. Syrian refugee children in soutehrn Turky

Syrian girls attending Al Salam school draw pictures in a workshop with the program Zeitouna in Reyhanli, Turkey, on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. (Credit: Clare Richardson)

In Reyhanli, a small town in Turkey’s southernmost province of Hatay, children who have fled the war in Syria attend school at Al Salam, where displaced Syrian teachers conduct classes in Arabic. Despite tensions with local communities, Syrian schools have cropped up in southern Turkey to serve a flood of refugee children in their native tongue.

Albanian ‘blood feuds’ force families into isolation

Dec 10, 2013 12:09 UTC

Shkodër, Albania – Bilal Ademi remembers the day when 70 men in his family were forced into hiding. On May 18, 2010, Ademi’s cousin, a policeman, shot and killed another officer while on duty.

Bilal Ademi gestures while recounting the story of his family’s situation in his home in Mushan, Albania on Nov. 15 2013. Bilal’s cousin, a policeman, shot and killed a fellow officer in a dispute, sparking a blood feud with the victim’s family. (Nick St.Oegger)

The Ademi men are the objects of a “blood feud,” targets of retribution for the killing of Tom Jakini. According to a set of traditional Albanian laws dating back to the 15th century called the “Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini,” the family of the victim has the right to avenge Jakini’s death by killing one of the Ademi men.In Shkodër and surrounding villages in northern Albania, a country nestled on continental Europe’s western Balkan shore on the Adriatic Sea, these conflicts can drive entire families to confine themselves indoors out of fear for their lives. Absent a brokered peace, there is no expiration on vendettas. The Kanun dictates that even male children born into families involved in blood feuds become targets once they reach their teenage years. Women are supposed to be exempt, but in rare instances are not spared.

ICYMI: Top 10 stories, easily explained

Sep 20, 2013 19:51 UTC

1. Navy Yard shooting leaves 13 dead, plenty of questions
A gunman identified as Aaron Alexis, a U.S. Navy Reserves veteran with a history of mental illness, opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, killing 12 people and injuring another dozen before being killed in one of several gun battles with police. The incident—the worst attack at a U.S. military installation since U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan fatally shot 13 people at Ford Hood, Texas, in 2009—prompted a review of security measures at the Navy Yard and renewed the national debate over gun control just five months after the Senate defeated a gun-buyer background check bill.

2. To taper or….oh, not to? OK
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke shocked, well, everyone by announcing that the central bank is not yet ready to scale back a quantitative easing program put in place back in 2008. The decision came just four months after Bernanke outlined a QE-reduction plan—known as “tapering”—that included trimming the bank’s $85-billion-a-month bond-buying by the end of the year and ending it by mid-2014 (by which time the bank anticipated unemployment falling to 7 percent). Bernanke’s announcement prompted criticism of the Fed’s communication strategy, and suggested the bank may have shot itself in the foot by outlining tapering in the spring, opening the door to reactionary economic conditions that made said tapering nonviable. The move also leaves Bernanke’s successor—increasingly likely to be Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen—without a useful QE roadmap.

3.  A Whale of a fail 
Onetime Wall Street darling JPMorgan Chase & Co. will pay $920 million to four regulators in two countries to settle liabilities from its $6.2 billion “London Whale” trading loss. The settlement(s) are notable for JPM’s rare admission of wrongdoing—though whose wrongdoing was left unanswered—but don’t mean the end of the bank’s Whale woes. JPMorgan still faces criminal probes into the scandal (plus probes related to energy trading, mortgage securities and bribery in China). Nor has the bank yet squared its Whale liabilities with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. But JPM swears it’s learned its lesson: CEO Jamie Dimon sent a morale-boosting memo to the bank’s employees on Tuesday, touting measures to prevent future Whales that include increased transparency, better reporting and a bunch of new compliance officers.

On Syria, Congress asks the wrong questions too late

Danielle Wiener-Bronner
Sep 4, 2013 21:46 UTC

Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters Corp.

Tuesday’s Senate hearing on Syria was essentially a success for President Barack Obama. Democrat Rob Menendez and Republican Bob Corker collaborated to draft a resolution that would limit U.S. military involvement in Syria to 60 days, with room for a 30-day extension. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the resolution, which will keep U.S. troops out of Syria, on Wednesday.

But the bar for success on Syria is low. Nearly 1,500 people are dead from an apparent chemical attack, most likely carried out by the government on its own people, including civilians. This comes more than two years after Syria’s fight with rebel forces began. Questions pitting the interests of the United States against humanitarian interests of preventing another similar attack in Syria are astounding, given that roughly 100,000 people have died in the conflict since March 2011.

Hasidic Williamsburg poverty data are bleak, but some see reason to hope

Danielle Wiener-Bronner
Jun 7, 2013 17:18 UTC

A man listens to a Rabbi’s address at a gathering for Satmar Hasidic Jews in New York December 4, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Hasidic Jews are among the most poverty-stricken of New York’s Jewish communities, according to a report by the UJA-Federation and the Met Council on Jewish Poverty.

The study, the first of its kind since 2002, found that 28 percent of poor Jewish households are Orthodox. Some 63 percent of Orthodox respondents identify with the Hasidic sect, an isolated community characterized by large households and low levels of educational achievement.

Indie bookstores fight for another chapter

May 2, 2013 18:45 UTC

Paul Yamazaki, chief buyer at City Lights. Kira Bindrim/REUTERS

Nestled on the corner of Columbus Avenue and “Jack Kerouac Alley,” City Lights Booksellers became a San Francisco icon in 1956, when founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti and store manager Shig Muraoas were arrested for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems. Nearly 60 years later, City Lights is still breaking the mold: The store just had three of its best sales years ever.

“Independent booksellers all around the country are experiencing some of their best economic years in a long time,” said Paul Yamazaki, City Lights’ veteran chief buyer. “There’s so much choice out there that it makes readers’ heads spin, and I think they’re looking to booksellers to help them.”

Nearly 20 years after the birth of Amazon—and 15 years after Barnes & Noble was dealt a backhanded censure by the film You’ve Got Mail, independent booksellers are benefiting from their attention to personal attention. The 2011 liquidation of Borders, coupled with a nationwide “Buy Local” push to boost small businesses, have helped independent stores market themselves as a viable alternative to their mega-competitors.

The Russian legal system’s split personality

Danielle Wiener-Bronner
Apr 26, 2013 16:23 UTC

Attorneys of dead anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky sit in front of an empty defendants cage during a court session in Moscow, March 22, 2013.  REUTERS/Mikhail Voskresensky

In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the rule of law is most often seen as the law of rulers.

Russia’s judicial system is perceived as a means to curb the influence of figures who pose a threat to the Kremlin. In 2005, Yukos Oil CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky was imprisoned on trumped-up charges of fraud in one of Russia’s most controversial cases. In 2009 Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who accused police officials of stealing $230 million from the government in a tax fraud scheme, died in prison after being held for a year without charge. And in April of this year, Russian prosecutors suspended a leftist opposition group for three months, barring the Left Front from organizing or accessing their bank account until July 19.

As Coachella ages, the festival becomes self-sustaining

Apr 23, 2013 16:22 UTC

INDIO, Calif, – Once upon a time, there was a rock music festival held every April in the California desert whose meticulous curation of artists old and new made it the de facto tastemaker for the industry. Today, there is just Coachella. And although this three-day frolic in the sun may no longer be the most influential gathering of its kind, it has achieved something potentially even larger – an ability to sustain itself.

The three-day music marathon concluded its second weekend on Sunday, selling some 150,000 passes in total and making it the most-successful festival of its kind with gross receipts of about $50 million, according to Billboard. Almost 150 bands, musicians and performance artists made the trek to Indio, a scruffy suburb of Palm Springs, on two successive weekends to play on one of a half-dozen stages.

On this, the 14th Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, it would not be far off to say the event’s financial success has eclipsed its influence. Coachella once was the premier showcase for bands on the precipice of breaking out ‑ Arcade Fire or LCD Soundsystem come to mind – or those re-forming ‑ such as Pavement or Rage Against the Machine – to play for audiences who rediscovered their music.

Perspectives of global gun cultures

Apr 12, 2013 21:13 UTC

Gun culture in the United States carries a reputation abroad. Although the stereotype of trigger-happy Americans is perpetuated largely by Hollywood, near-constant media reports of shootings across the U.S. lend credence to the notion of a country obsessed with firearms.

Statistically, the perception’s not too far off. Forty-seven percent of Americans reported owning a gun in a 2011 Gallup poll, and data compiled by the Guardian from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime shows there are nearly nine guns for every 10 people in the United States, the highest level of ownership in the world.

Elsewhere in the world, private gun ownership is subject to different laws and premised on different cultural backgrounds. In a series of photo essays, Reuters photographers around the world chronicled vignettes of gun culture, capturing scenes from shooting ranges, hunting expeditions, roadside murders, and more. These recollections from the professionals who bear witness to the use of deadly weapons help give context to the role guns play in our world.

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