Some links to things I’ve found interesting today.
The GMO Stigma – “A half-century of “wide cross” hybridizations, which involve the movement of genes from one species or genus to another, has given rise to plants – including everyday varieties of corn, oats, pumpkin, wheat, black currants, tomatoes, and potatoes – that do not and could not exist in nature. Indeed, with the exception of wild berries, wild game, wild mushrooms, and fish and shellfish, virtually everything in North American and European diets has been genetically improved in some way.”
A ticket clipping update.
JPMorgan Chase Nears a $2 Billion Deal in a Case Tied to Madoff – “Working through a long list of legal problems, JPMorgan Chase is starting the new year with another steep payout to the government. The bank plans to reach as soon as this week roughly $2 billion in criminal and civil settlements with federal authorities who suspect that it ignored signs of Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, according to people briefed on the case. All told, after reaching the Madoff settlements with federal prosecutors in Manhattan and regulators in Washington, the bank will have paid some $20 billion to resolve government investigations over the last 12 months.”
Soaring fees exacerbate bankruptcy process in Britain – “Bankruptcy, the last resort of the desperately indebted, is now so expensive that costs in England and Wales can easily outweigh the debts that led to insolvency… A report into bankruptcy fees commissioned by the department for Business, Innovation & Skills found that accountants and insolvency specialists charge hourly rates of up to £800. As individuals can be made bankrupt with debts of just £750, these costs can dwarf the original debts.”
And a story to restore your faith in banks.
The Swedish bank boss who likes to do things differently – “Anders Bouvin is the boss of the most successful bank you’ve probably never heard of… Mr Bouvin argues that the group’s success – it made £1bn in global after-tax profits for the first nine months of 2013 – is down to the bank’s belief in the primacy of customer service and localism. The branch manager is trusted to make prudent lending and investment decisions based on one-to-one relationships with customers. ‘Working in the branch network was the best thing I ever did,’ says Mr Bouvin. ‘I flourished building customer relationships, and being empowered to make customers satisfied was really great.’ This local empowerment – the apparent antithesis of modern automated banking – is core to Handelsbanken’s philosophy, first proposed by the bank’s then boss Jan Wallander in 1970.
Turkey needs less money in politics, and less politics in court – “High quality global journalism requires investment. “Mr Erdogan’s party had come to power in the wake of a failed decade of politics dominated by corruption and nepotism. His AK party had won a popular mandate with its anti-corruption rhetoric. Even the name of the party – ‘ak’ means clean in Turkish – reflects that. It now seems that it was unable or unwilling to eradicate Turkey’s cycle of corruption-induced political crisis.”
Indian judge says pre-marital sex ‘against religion’ - “A judge in the Indian capital, Delhi, has said that pre-marital sex is ‘immoral’ and against the “tenets of every religion”. Judge Virender Bhat made the remarks after ruling that sex between two adults on the promise of marriage did not amount to rape. Pre-marital sex remains a cultural taboo in India. Last year, a court in Delhi said live-in relationships were immoral and an ‘infamous product of Western culture’.”