Albanian communist-era landmark reinvented as youth center

first_imgTIRANA, Albania (AP) — A pharaonic landmark in central Tirana built as a posthumous museum for Albania’s communist-era strongman, Enver Hoxha, is being transformed into a youth training and art center. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama attended Thursday’s symbolic start of work to radically transform the largely abandoned, 17,000-square-meter (180,000-square-foot) structure. It was designed by Hoxha’s daughter and her husband, both architects. Long viewed with mixed feelings by Albanians due to its link with the hated communist regime, the building narrowly escaped destruction a few years ago under a former center-right government. Other proposals had included turning it into a national library, a theater or even the country’s parliament.last_img read more

IPE Awards Seminar: Too much self-interest in banking dangerous

first_imgToo much self-interest in banking makes the sector dangerously fragile, exposes the public to unnecessary risks and distorts the economy, according to Anat Admati, George GC Parker professor of finance and economics at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University in the US.Addressing the IPE Awards Seminar in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, yesterday, she said: “There are things to do about [the failing banking system], but they may not get done, unfortunately. There is a lot of politics and a lot of confusion and a lot of self-interest in this.”That is a governance problem, and it goes all the way to the politicians. Key to the observation is that banking is not a system, right now especially, where markets work. It requires firm and effective regulation, sensible regulation.”The root cause of the problem is that banks hold a lot of leverage, unborrowed funding, with the loss-absorbing equity ratio on their balance sheets being too small. “The credit crunch did happen not because they had too much equity but because they had too much debt,” she said. “Banks make bad lending decisions – too little or too much, boom and bust or too much and too little at the same time.”She added that, “even now, the continued weakness and distorted incentives of banks dampen new lending that would help economic recovery”.Instead of the small amounts of equity banks currently hold – around 5% – Admati suggested they ought to hold an equity ratio of 20-30%.Holding more equity is not expensive she said.In addition, some of the risks taken in the current banking sector, such as excessive leverage risks, benefit only the very select few – while many will suffer.And while regulators have authority, she accused them of lacking the political will to change things.Admati believes some banks may no longer be viable.In the preface for her book ‘The Bankers’ New Clothes’, published earlier this year, she writes: “A cleanup of such banks and of the financial system is important even if it means eliminating or shrinking some banks.”Hiding from reality and providing public support to banks that cannot otherwise survive or which are too big and too complex to control, as governments all over the world are doing, is dangerous and expensive.”last_img read more

Catamount guard, lack of free throws doom UW

first_imgSOUTH BEND, Ind. — Although the Wisconsin women’s basketball team may not be able to pronounce the name of the Vermont Catamount player who did more than anyone to send the Badgers home on Sunday, they will be hard-pressed to forget her face.Courtnay Pilypaitis, a 6-foot-1 senior guard from Ottawa, Ontario, guided the Catamounts past the 7-seeded Badgers with game-highs in points (25), rebounds (8) and assists (4). Pilypaitis’ line, though, is more than just impressive for the versatility it demonstrates — it was clutch.Included in her 25 was a stretch in which she scored nine of Vermont’s 11 points after a 39-39 tie and five of her team’s seven free throws in the last minute, which allowed the Catamounts to maintain their lead despite frantic last-gasp efforts from UW.“Every time we were able to get a little bit of momentum, she did a great job of capitalizing on our mistakes,” junior guard Alyssa Karel, who led Wisconsin with 13 points said. “I think on defense we’d make little mistakes — not defending the screen right, going under instead of over a pick — and she capitalized on it and made us pay.”But Pilypaitis is hardly a stranger to stuffing stat sheets. She is the only active player in Division I to have compiled career totals of over 1,900 points, 900 rebounds and 600 assists, and she is one of just two players in the country to be ranked in her league’s top five in scoring, rebounding and assists.Additionally, Pilypaitis has a tradition of stepping her play up when the games really start counting. In three career tournament appearances (one WNIT and two NCAAs), she has averaged over 23 points a game.Exacerbating matters for the Badgers, Pilypaitis wasn’t the only Catamount guard causing verbal, as well as on-court, trouble. Her backcourt mate and fellow Canadian, May Kotsopoulous, the America East Fans’ Choice Player of the Year, added 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, meaning the dynamic backcourt duo accounted for 61 percent of the team’s scoring.“They are very good,” UW head coach Lisa Stone said of the two. “Numbers 3 and 4 are what they are made up to be.”Turnovers, free throw shortage led to Badgers’ lossDuring the regular season, this year’s Badger squad tied a school-record for fewest turnovers in a season, averaging just 15.5 a game.Then, in the first half of its first tournament game Wisconsin reverted to old tendencies, turning the ball over nine times, leading to 12 Vermont points. For the game, the Badgers, stressed at times by a 1-2-2 halfcourt trap, were outscored off turnovers 21-11.“Their defense, first of all, gave their offense a spark,” Stone said of the Catamounts’ defensive pressure. “Our impatience offensively against their trapping defense and zone gave them opportunities. Look, they scored 21 points off turnovers. … Their size and length disturbed us a bit.”And impatience also contributed to the Badgers difficulty in getting to the free-throw line, where they were outshot by 18. Even with inflated free-throw numbers due to late game fouling, the Catamounts already held a seven-point advantage at the half, outshooting the Badgers 8-of-13 to 1-of-3.Karel, who reached double-digits for the 26th time in 32 games, said the team may not have attacked aggressively enough, but couldn’t definitively pinpoint an explanation.“I think we settled for outside shots a lot,” she said. “We came out right away with our inside play, and then we kind of shied away from that, I’m not really sure why. We had a tough time getting in the lane, I think it was maybe the zone they put on us in the second half and their length outside.”Yet whether the blame is put on Vermont’s talented backcourt, early turnovers or free-throw inequities, the incontrovertible takeaway point from Wisconsin’s first tournament game in eight years was that it was chalked up in the right-hand column.Which is why, in a teary, emotional postgame scene, Karel looked to the next year and how this experience was not for naught. “Things could’ve been different — it was in our hands — but this is a motivator for us,” she said. “Now we have the expectation of getting here. We know what it takes to do it, so we’re just going to get in the gym in the offseason and keep getting better.”last_img read more