Daily Archives: June 7, 2010

Taking Notes On 'Frank Talk' With Barney

Published June 7, 2010

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, Newton’s gay, left-handed, pugnacious Democrat, is our guest on Radio Boston. He is the leading legislator on financial reform, a fight perhaps no one else is better equipped to handle. Another fight is on the horizon: re-election.

I pseudo-live blogged his remarks here with host Meghna Chakrabarti.

Post show-update: I’ve cleaned up and clarified my notes from the interview, which is now available for listening.

Frank: We don’t want banks doing anything on their own. We want them working for their customers.

But there should be limits on regulation. Banks are the most fully regulated entities around. If you move money out of a bank into something like Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, there’s less regulation.

Frank was reading "Freedom Summer" by Bruce Watson "Washington-style," which means he looked up all references to himself in the index to check for accuracy.

Frank was reading "Freedom Summer" by Bruce Watson "Washington-style," which means he looked up all references to himself in the index to check for accuracy.

Derivatives have been abused, but they’re not inherently bad. You want to guard against wild variations in, for example, fuel or crop prices.

Lehman Brothers is not a bank. The problem with Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s amendment is that it wouldn’t have affected Lehman Brothers. AIG had no idea how much it was obligated in derivatives. When the Fed came to us in 2008 to say they wanted to pay $80 billion in AIG’s debt — a week later it was $120 billion, then $150 billion — AIG had no idea what it owed. The point is no matter where derivatives are traded, they need to be regulated. The price needs to be made clear upfront.

The Senate bill should be even tougher than House version. He had to get enough votes to pass it.

Banks were not too big but too interconnected, too leveraged to fail. “We are going to make them fail. The bill that we have allows them to fail, requires them to fail.”

We will not allow to let people get overextended. Won’t allow them to be so indebted they can’t pay what they owe. AIG had no regulator. If this bill passes, these companies will be monitored. Regulators will order them to stop taking on new debt if the burden overcomes revenue.

A break, and the conversation continues…

Continue reading

Apple's Donation Restrictions Hamper Nonprofits

Published June 7, 2010

One of the first features we discussed for our soon-to-be-released iPhone app is the ability to donate money to WBUR. As you know, WBUR is nonprofit and funded by the people we serve.

NPR logo with dollar signs (Ars Technica)

(Ars Technica)

In 1.0, you will be able to call our support team from within the app. But you won’t be able to punch in your credit card number and contribute — that’s surprisingly complicated. And you won’t be able to do what seems like a no-brainer — donate via iTunes, akin to a one-tap “in-app purchase” — because Apple forbids it.

In a guest post for Ars Technica, my colleague Jake Shapiro, executive director of Cambridge-based PRX (which is developing our app) says Apple’s no-donation policy is a copout:

The excuse that “Apple doesn’t want to be held responsible for ensuring that the charitable funds make it to the final destination” is a cop-out. Google Grants has tackled this already, and organizations like TechSoup and Guidestar do a sophisticated job of authenticating nonprofits and charities worldwide. Apple, of all companies, can’t credibly say it’s not up to the technical and logistical challenge.

And Apple is not just preventing app developers from putting “donate” buttons or any language suggesting that users contribute to charitable causes; it is also cutting off nonprofits from the most powerful direct-payment platform in the mobile marketplace. 1-Click payments are transformative for direct giving, and Apple has tens of millions of users with stored credit cards already accustomed to instant purchases—over 100 million if you add in iTunes users worldwide.

Jake also notes that “text-to-give” is promising, but donations are limited to $10 and there are other hurdles. This is another intriguing but controversial idea within the walls of WBUR.

Might a one-click donate button compel you to give to WBUR?

Song Remembers Phoebe Prince, 'Killed In School Clothes'

Published June 7, 2010

Seattle indie band The Green Pajamas has written a song for Phoebe Prince, the relentlessly bullied South Hadley High freshman whose agony ended in suicide earlier this year: “One January afternoon / They killed you in your school clothes / As sure as winter’s cruel hands /Clutch and kill the red, red rose.”

The Red, Red Rose

So, nevermore to see the sunrise
And nevermore the ocean wild
And not to taste the snow of morning
On the tongue of one so mild

And nevermore your eyes in laughter
That lately held but only tears
That lately gazed with only sorrow
Across a life of so few years

One January afternoon
They killed you in your school clothes
As sure as winter’s cruel hands
Clutch and kill the red, red rose

So, lost we are to ever hold you
Lost forever, thanks to those
Who built your gallows just as sure
As the first freeze kills the red, red rose

You can buy the song on the band’s MySpace page.

What We're Working On: Monday

Published June 7, 2010

Every day Bostonians are treated to finely crafted, fact-checked stories from NPR and WBUR journalists. But it can be a long journey from story idea to finished product. I get to witness firsthand the chase — the questions we ask, the people we call, the issues we grapple with before a story makes it to air or Web.

In what I hope becomes a daily Hubbub feature, I’ll share here what our newsroom is cooking up. Sometimes ideas lead to dead ends or altogether different stories. That’s OK. I hope by including you, our readers, in the newsgathering process, the final product is a bit stronger, more transparent and more relevant to you and your communities.

Without further ado, here’s what WBUR is following as of mid-morning Monday:

  • Meghna Chakrabarti is preparing for her in-studio interview today with U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, Newton’s gay, left-handed, pugnacious Democrat. He is the leading legislator on financial reform, a fight perhaps no one else is better equipped to handle. Another fight is on the horizon: re-election.
  • Adam Ragusea is preparing a piece about yesterday’s intense and destructive weather. What happened? Why such extensive damage? How unusual was it? We will talk to a tree warden in an affected community or folks at the state’s Department of Conservation to get their perspective.
  • Fred Thys is following the latest in firefighter contract drama. Mayor Menino said the union’s last-minute concession — which the council received warmly last week — is inadequate.
  • Curt Nickisch is producing a series of vignettes on local small businesses that want to hire but can’t get lines of credit. The banks say they’re not lending because there is very little demand for credit; small businesses say banks are cutting off supply.
  • Jessica Alpert is producing a Radio Boston segment about the increase in the number of food allergies, which reporter Steve Smith wrote about in today’s Globe. It turns out determining a food allergy is complex, and as a result there are many inaccurate diagnoses and unnecessary avoidance of certain foods.
  • Monica Brady-Myerov is working on a story about a “growing hospice choir movement.” Choirs gather in the ICU to sing during a patient’s final moments. It’s powerful, and families say song conveys message they can’t otherwise verbalize. How do you want to go out?
  • Our newscast unit is covering a meeting of Anglican officials in Amesbury as they look to establish a more conservative branch of the church there.

What stories are you interested in? What other stories should we be aware of?

40 Years Of Pride In Boston

Published June 7, 2010

Forty years ago, no politician would be seen with this crowd.

Now they fall over themselves every year to participate in the Pride Week festivities, which celebrate 40 years next week in Boston. It’s Pride Week, and Hubbub intern Talia Ralph snapped a few photos at the flag-raising ceremony Friday in front of City Hall:


The Boston Phoenix has published some great coverage of the city’s changing gay culture scene: on the new gay bars (and where the girls are) and the week’s best parties.