Currencies, Changes and the Gold Standard

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Gold, Bullion (Flickr: BullionVault)

Considering changes to the dollar and other world currencies; an American ballet company performs in Cuba; a new report says nobody is specifically to blame for the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; the rising frequency of "mal-employment"; the topics President Obama is specifically avoiding during his trip to Asia; what races from last Tuesday are still outstanding; death penalty opponents and the heinous murders in Cheshire, Connecticut; rodeo competitions as prisoner rehabilitation events; Tim Wu on the history of telecommunication empires from the telephone through radio, television and the Internet.

Top of the Hour: Time for a New Gold Standard? Morning Headlines

Going into the G20 summit, in which the future of the dollar looks increasingly uncertain, some are wondering if we need a new gold standard. 

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Is it the End of the Dollar's Era?

The world leaders of the G20 are meeting later this week, and there are a lot of ideas afloat on how to reorganize world currency (gold standard, anyone?). Simon Johnson, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, helps us examine the notion that the U.S. dollar may not remain at the top of the heap forever.

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American Ballet Theates Travels to Cuba After 50 Year Hiatus

The American Ballet Theatre traveled to Cuba for the first time in 50 years to participate in the 22nd Havana International Ballet Festival. The last time the dance company took the stage in Cuba, Fidel Castro had just taken power. We hear music from the Karl Marx theatre and talk with Rachel Moore, the executive director of the American Ballet Theatre, about the trip.

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Who's To Blame For The Gulf Oil Spill? Maybe Nobody

President Obama's commission to investigate the causes of the Gulf oil spill revealed their results yesterday, and it seems that they couldn't find anyone specifically to blame. Fred Bartlit, lead counsel on the investigation, said "We have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety." While the commission says it agrees "90 percent" with BP's own report on the explosion and spill — does the public need someone to blame for all of this?


Louisiana's Angola Prison: Where Rehabilitation Includes a Rodeo

They wear black-and-white striped shirts in a Western style, and compete for cash prizes in the "convict poker tournament." But the men participating in Louisiana Staten Prison's annual rodeo are merely volunteering to take part in a 40-year tradition. Prison administration officials say is a healthy part of the prisoners' rehabilitation — offering convicts a chance to see their families, who pack the stadium. Some call the event exploitation. 


Delayed Dreams and Low Pay for the Malemployed

We all know the words unemployment and underemployment, but are you familiar with the term "malemployment?" Chances are, even if you don’t know the word, you know some who’s suffering through it. Malemployment, unlike underemployment, isn’t about workers having too little work. It’s about college degree holders working jobs that don’t require college degrees. 

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Top of the Hour: Obama's Unspoken Asia Agenda, Morning Headlines

President Obama is travelling around Asia this week, and he'll be taking a lot of very public, high-profile meetings. But what about the president's hidden agenda? 


President Obama's Quiet Agenda in Asia

President Obama arrived in Indonesia this morning, for the second stop on his 10-day trip in Asia. As he meets with world leaders in India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, the President will talk about global security, international trade and economics, improving cultural ties, diplomatic efforts and preventing terrorism. But some issues will be conspicuously missing from his public agenda.


A Few Races Still Waiting, One Week Post-Midterms

While most Congressional races had their outcomes called and confirmed on Election Day, a handful have remained stubbornly too close to call. Or, in the case of Alaska's hotly-contested Senate seat, some races depend on absentee ballots yet to be counted. Takeaway Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich walks us through these still-to-be-determined contests and their potential impact on the next Congress.


Your Take: Your Book for Your Kids

Yesterday we spoke with the authors of a children's book who were writing to fill a void in a genre of literature they felt had too few young, black heroines. They wrote "Zora and Me," a fictionalized account of Zora Neale Hurston as a young sleuth. We've also been asking listeners: What book would you want to write for your kids?  


Debating the Death Penalty after Verdict in Grisly Connecticut Murders

Yesterday a jury handed down a death penalty sentence for Steven Hayes, who was convicted in a brutal triple murder case and a violent home invasion at the home of Dr. William Petit and his wife, Jennifer, in 2007. All of the victims were tied up, Dr. Petit was severely beaten and his wife Jennifer, along with their two daughters Hayley and Michaela were murdered. Two of the three were sexually assaulted. The assailants then attempted to burn the Petit house down as they fled. These murders were so violent that even some ardent anti-death penalty advocates have been asking whether there are times when the death penalty is appropriate 

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Controlled by Military, Burmese Election Leads to Fighting

The military-backed political party in Burma says it's won 80 percent of the votes in last week's election — the first such vote in 20 years. But many outside observers are calling for more democracy, all while fighting continues in the East of the country and refugees flee to Thailand. This morning, President Obama declared the election was "neither free nor fair," and urged Burmese authorities to release political prisioners like Aung San Suu Kyi, who called for a boycott of the election. 


Tim Wu on the Rise and Fall of Information Empires

It's a debate that's been around for as long as the Internet has been around: How do we keep the information superhighway open and beneficial for the public in a world that seems increasingly driven by corporations? The question has inspired plenty of debate about modern treatment of older principals, but author Tim Wu insists this debate isn’t new. He says it’s been around as long as communication structures have existed — from the telephone and radio to television.

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Google Map Borders Spur Nicaraguan Invasion of Costa Rica

Nicaraguan soldiers briefly invaded Costa Rica this week, taking down that country's flag and putting up one of their own near the border. The reason? The soldiers blamed Google for placing a border on its map 2.7 kilometers away from it's actual physical location. But as BBC Mundo reporter Arturo Wallace tells us, the dispute is actually much older than the kind of Google mapping the soldiers were apparently using.  


NLRB Steps into Fight Over Facebook Firing

An employee at Connecticut company American Medical Response criticized her boss on Facebook off the clock, and was later fired. It's surely not the first time an employee may have been disciplined or terminated for their status updates on social media, but it is the first time the National Labor Relations Board has stepped into a case like it. The NLRB is saying American Medical Response fired the employee illegally. New York Times labor and workplace reporter Steven Greenhouse joins us for more on the story. 


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