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Greece forced to buy arms: MEP


PARIS: France and Germany, while publicly urging Greece to make harsh public spending cuts, bullied its government to confirm billions of euros in arms deals, a leading Euro-MP alleged Friday.

Franco-German lawmaker Daniel Cohn-Bendit said that Paris and Berlin are seeking to force Prime Minister George Papandreou to spend Greece’s scarce cash on submarines, a fleet of warships, helicopters and war planes.

“I met Mr Papandreou last week. I was in Athens. I’ve known him for a long time,” Cohn-Bendit told reporters, accusing Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy of blackmailing his friend. Cohn-Bendit accused France and Germany of making their contributions to an IMF-led rescue package for the debt-ridden Greek economy contingent on Athens honouring massive arms deals signed by Papandreou’s predecessor. “It’s incredible the way the Merkels and Sarkozys of this world treat a Greek prime minister,” he declared, adding that Papandreou had recently met Sarkozy and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in Paris. “Mr Fillon and Mr Sarkozy told Mr Papandreou: ‘We’re going to raise the money to help you, but you are going to have to continue to pay the arms contracts that we have with you’,” Cohn-Bendit said.

“In the past three months we have forced Greece to confirm several billion dollars in arms contracts. French frigates that the Greeks will have to buy for 2.5 billion euros. Helicopters, planes, German submarines.”

Cohn-Bendit, a former leader of the 1968 student revolt in Paris, is leader of the Green group in the European parliament. afp

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“Fat finger” role in selloff likely a myth


Fri, May 7 2010

* Dealers, investors have safeguards against “fat fingers”

* Trading systems require special approval for big trades

* If fat finger doesn’t exist then adds to selloff concern

By Dan Wilchins

NEW YORK, May 7 (Reuters) – The “fat finger” that supposedly triggered a scary U.S. market selloff on Thursday is likely just a myth.

Soon after the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 6 percent in 10 minutes, rumors abounded that a trader had sparked the rout by erroneously inputing a massive “sell” order — a mistake known as a “fat finger.”

But the rumors either lacked specifics or when the name of a firm was mentioned there was no trace of the “fat fingered” individual.

And according to people who have programmed trading systems for investors and dealers, such a huge error is unlikely because of an increasing safeguards introduced in recent years to prevent erroneous large orders.

The lack of a human cause bolstered the case for Thursday’s selloff having been triggered by either the flawed structure of the market or an automated trading program gone awry, sending fingers pointing at computers as much as a mistake by a single human. [ID:nN07262602]

“If you make a major mistake, you could destroy all your capital,” said Lawrence Harris, a finance professor at USC Marshall School of Business. “The security of the firm depends on the fidelity of these systems,” he added.

“I view it as unlikely that this was a fat finger story,” said Harris.

Initially, the rumors focused on Citigroup <C.N>. At first, the bank said it was investigating the rumor that it made an erroneous trade and then on Friday morning it declared there was no basis for such speculation.

“Based on our review, rumors about a trading error by Citi are unfounded. It is troubling that inaccurate and unfounded rumors were spread as far as they were,” Citi spokeswoman Shannon Bell said in an email.

The rumors about what happened on Thursday varied, but typically involved a trader selling $16 billion of a futures contract or exchange-traded fund, when he or she meant to sell $16 million.

But a big enough trade often requires the approval of a trading desk head, and an astoundingly large trade typically requires a department head, traders said.

Even if a money management firm did mistakenly put in a large order, the dealer or the exchange often have systems to prevent it, they said.

One trader said that after talking to his peers across Wall Street, he finds the fat finger hypothesis implausible.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” he said, adding he heard enough different variations on the rumor to discredit all of them.

But fat fingers have created problems for banks in the past. In 2001, UBS mistakenly sold 610,000 shares of Japanese advertising giant Dentsu Inc at 16 yen per share, instead of selling 16 shares at 610,000 yen. In 1992, Salomon Brothers botched a customer order and shaved 15 points off the Dow Jones industrial average.

One tantalizing possibility — if a trader really did put in a massive sell order that triggered a broad decline, he or she could have potentially bought back the shares or futures in question at a tidy profit as the market plummeted. (Reporting by Dan Wilchins; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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Learning to let go of the ‘Ideal Mother’


As a young girl, I dreaded Mother’s Day.

At the time, I couldn’t have put why into words.

My mother was the sun and the moon to me. Yet each year on Mother’s Day, she sat in the chapel listening to talks about amazing, angelic, perfect mothers. She inevitably teared up and was miserable.

I spent my time in Primary thinking of ways to make the rest of her day happy. Maybe on the way home from church, I could pick a pretty bouquet of wild flowers. I’d clean up all the dinner dishes. I’d draw her pretty pictures. That would do it, right?

Now that I’m a mother, I get it. My mom didn’t think she measured up to the mythical idea of the Ideal Mother — the mother that does not and has never existed. I’ve spent too many Mother’s Days thinking the same thing.

In his book “All Moms Go to Heaven,” Dean Hughes declares that instead of giving mothers flowers in sacrament meeting, we should give out solid chocolate statues of the mythical Ideal Mother so we can all bite her head off. When I read that, I wanted to fill a stadium with moms and cheer our lungs out. But while I understood the whole “Ideal Mother is a myth” thing in a logical sort of way, it took something else for me to understand it in my heart.

Several years ago for my birthday, my husband and I had plans to get a babysitter and go to a restaurant, maybe even catch a movie — a rare treat. Since the day landed on a Saturday, I planned to spend most of the day resting and having “me” time.

It didn’t turn out as planned.

My youngest, then age 2, woke up with croup. The poor thing, usually so energetic, lay on the couch without moving, staring off into the distance. She wanted to be held, didn’t want to eat, and didn’t talk.

I took her to the doctor, where, due to a clerical mix-up, we waited for hours and were the last to leave the off-hours clinic. From there I brought her home, picked up my 7-year-old, and the two of us went to the store for a gift to take to a birthday party, where I dropped her off.

Then I raced to the grocery store for my baby’s prescriptions so we could give them to her before her nap, which was already overdue. While waiting for them to be filled, I did last minute Christmas shopping for the kids. Finally, with medications in hand, I hurried home to my little girl, who looked worse than ever.

I gave her doses of three separate medications and tried to coax some food or fluid down. I changed a messy diaper, got the cool mist humidifier set up in her room, held her close, and finally got her down for a much-needed nap.

Clearly, date night wouldn’t be happening.

At the end of the day — after reading a Christmas story to the three older children and babying my sick little toddler who simply didn’t want to leave our bed — my husband and I settled down.

I collapsed on my pillow — wearing my new birthday pajamas — and my husband said, “Sorry your birthday wasn’t a very good one.”

But in a sudden moment of clarity, I knew he was wrong. As I reviewed the day, I realized that this birthday held more meaning to me than any other. Birthdays are usually a selfish 24-hour fun-fest.

This one was different. I had moments when my little girl wanted no one but me because only I could make her feel better.

I took care of her in ways she didn’t fully understand, like giving her medicine and running the humidifier, but which made a difference nonetheless.

I spent time one-on-one with my oldest daughter, who thrives on individual attention. The time wasn’t long — maybe only half an hour — but we had fun walking through the store aisles hand in hand, choosing the perfect birthday present for her friend.

Even something as simple as shopping for stocking stuffers brought me joy as I selected items I knew would be meaningful for each of my four children.

For bedtime, I read special Christmas stories for my kids and tucked them into bed with hugs and kisses. Each of my children knew I loved them and cared for them unlike anyone else in the world.

After family prayer that night, they’d all given me huge hugs, nearly bowling me over. And I held onto them tight, knowing that they are my greatest treasures, and that in some way, I really was making a difference in their young lives.

So at the end of that ragged day, I had the realization that my life mattered — and that because I was born on that day many years ago, four little people were now benefiting from my life. My birth really was something to celebrate.

It wasn’t as if I was making huge waves in the world, creating social change or solving world hunger. But under my roof, under my watchful eye, my children had a mother who loved them dearly and who loved caring for them every day.

Ever since then, whether it’s a birthday or Mother’s Day, I make a conscious decision to make the day special.

Of course I am not even almost the mythical Ideal Mother. I usually have dirty dishes in the sink. More than once we’ve run out of clean underwear.

But I am worth the celebration. My children love me. I love them. I am their mother. I’m doing my very best to raise them in the gospel.

And on Mother’s Day, I make a point to let my children celebrate that fact, finding happiness right along with me.

Only one rule: No tears allowed, unless they’re tears of joy.


Annette Lyon is Utah’s 2007 Best of State fiction medalist and the author of the recently released women’s novel “Band of Sisters.

MormonTimes.com is produced by the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, Utah.
It is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Copyright © 2009 Deseret News Publishing Company

By Annette Lyon

For Mormon Times
Published: 2010-05-09 00:18:59

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~ On the lighter topic of Genocide ~


So, let’s see…

Time and space alone will show that the Genocide committed on this side of the atlantic since 1492, was hundreds of thousands of times larger in terms of scale, if there is such a measurement…

Terra Nullius says it all.
“The Land-of-No-one”
Up for grabs by any thief
Torn to shreds with no regard
Until it is time to move on
from this spot which we just devastated
to the lush green pastures up ahead.

Very practical, too, when you think about it…
No court in this land will address the word ‘Genocide’,
and no media would even dare to even speak about it…

And even if you COULD prosecute,
you can’t name any names,
you can’t name any documents,
you can’t see any documents relating to any ‘facts’

So, all we have to do is turn the page… move on…
and we will all get away with our crimes…

Who will care anyways?

Not enough people know to really DO anything anyways…
Not enough people DARE to stand up and declare the crimes…

So, let’s see… When we (all) talk about Hitler, why is it that there is no excusing him or anything he has ever done to others, but with the governments of north and south america, we, as citizens, are told that we must simply ‘turn the page’ and ‘move on’…

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UK leaders try to resolve political uncertainty


No party won a clear majority in British election, resulting in hung parliament

  • NEW: Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg speaks to protesters
  • Liberal Democrats plan to meet with the Conservative Party Sunday
  • Conservatives refuse to give a timeframe on any deal

London, England (CNN) — The United Kingdom spent a second day suspended in uncertainty Saturday as leading politicians met to resolve a national election that failed to yield an outright winner.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, whose party came in third after Thursday’s voting, held meetings with fellow party members Saturday to discuss a possible deal with either of the two largest parties, Labour and the Conservatives.

Clegg also met with Conservative leader David Cameron Saturday night, local media reported, while a broader meeting between Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party is scheduled for Sunday morning, a Liberal Democrat spokeswoman told CNN.

During a break in the talks with his own party, Clegg addressed hundreds of protesters in London who were demonstrating in favor of proportional representation, a system supported by the Liberal Democrats.

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The Lib Dems say the current electoral system is unfair and leaves them under-represented in Parliament. They say the number of seats they have in the House of Commons fails to reflect the number of votes they won across the country, and they believe each party’s allocation of seats should reflect the percentage of the national vote they get.

For example, the Conservatives got 36 percent of the vote and 306 of the 650 seats in Parliament. Under proportional representation, they would have gotten 234 seats. The Lib Dems got 23 percent of the popular vote but won only 57 seats. Proportional representation would have given them about 150 seats.

“I never thought I’d see Londoners protesting for proportional representation,” Clegg said. “Take it from me, reforming politics is one of the reasons I went into politics. I campaigned for a better, more open, more transparent new politics every single day of this general election campaign.

“I genuinely believe it is in the national interest, it is in the interest of everybody in Great Britain, to use this opportunity to usher in a new politics.”

Before he went into the meeting with members of his party Saturday morning, Clegg said “politicians have a duty to speak to each other.”

“People deserve a good, stable government, and that’s why I’m very keen that the Liberal Democrats should enter into any discussions with other parties, as we’re doing, in a constructive spirit,” he explained.

What happens next for UK politics?

The Liberal Democrats planned to meet with the Conservative Party at 11 a.m. (6 a.m. ET) Sunday, according to a Liberal Democrat spokeswoman.

When asked, a spokeswoman for the Conservative Party declined to give a timeframe for a possible deal.

Why UK politics needs to get used to horse trading

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who leads the Labour Party, and the Conservatives’ Cameron both offered on Friday to form an alliance with the Liberal Democrats as they jostled for power after the election in which the Conservatives gained the most seats in the House of Commons.

Clegg told reporters Saturday morning that he remained focused on four priorities as he discussed the idea of a deal with another party: tax reform, education reform, a “new approach” to the economy, and “fundamental political reform.”

Full election coverage

“It’s precisely those four changes which will guide us in the talks ahead,” Clegg said.

In an e-mail to Conservative supporters on Saturday, Cameron made a case for the party to work with the Liberal Democrats.

“I … believe there are many areas of common ground between us and the Liberal Democrats — such as the need for education reform, building a low-carbon economy, reforming our political system, decentralizing power, protecting civil liberties and scrapping ID cards,” Cameron wrote.

It’s unclear how far Cameron will go on the Liberal Democrats’ main priority, electoral reform. But he said in his e-mail that he is willing to compromise on some issues.

“There are also areas where I believe we in the Conservative Party can give ground,” he wrote, “both in the national interest and in the interests of forging an open and trusting partnership. For example, we want to work with the Liberal Democrats to see how we can afford to reduce taxes on the lowest paid.”

Brown, who remains prime minister even though Labour lost its parliamentary majority, said Friday that he would be willing to negotiate with any party leader.

What role does the queen play now?

Official returns Friday showed it would be impossible for any one party to get a majority of seats, resulting in what is known as a hung parliament. The Conservatives came in first, with at least 306 seats in the 650-seat parliament, followed by Labour with at least 258. The Liberal Democrats came in third, with at least 57.

The Conservatives must forge some kind of deal with a smaller party in order to reach a voting majority in Parliament, and they are most likely to turn to the Liberal Democrats, analysts have said. Parties smaller than the Liberal Democrats hold too few seats in Parliament for them to be realistic choices for the Conservatives, analysts have said.

It’s also easier for the Conservatives to seek a partnership with just one party rather than many, said Joe Twyman, director of political polling at YouGov.

Such a partnership, however, does not necessarily have to take the form of a coalition, Twyman said.

“My personal opinion is that the most likely scenario is the Conservative Party forming a minority government and going into some sort of leg-by-leg association with the Liberal Democrats,” Twyman told CNN on Saturday. “The Conservatives hope that will give them the support they need to get across their economic policies, which are the most pressing.”

Anger at polling stations

Though they are dubbed the kingmakers, because their support could be crucial to either of the two big parties, the Liberal Democrats also don’t have much room to play with, Twyman said.

The last time Britain had a hung parliament was in February 1974, when Edward Heath’s Conservatives gained more votes but fewer seats in Parliament than Labour. Unable to form a deal with the Liberal Party, the Conservatives stayed on in a minority government, but found themselves back at the polls by October.

“As the Lib Dems are reported to have significantly less financing than the other two parties, they would have the most to lose from another election being called very soon, because elections are an expensive business,” Twyman said.

CNN’s Melissa Gray, Richard Greene and Paul Armstrong in London contributed to this report.

 
 
 

Categories: Political Opinion

Crews dealt setback in placing containment dome in Gulf oil spill


By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: BP officials considering “junk shot” of trying to clog blowout container with material
  • Crystals accumulated inside containment dome, rendering it ineffective
  • Dome moved to side of wellhead while crews work to overcome the challenge, BP CEO says
  • Effort to place dome over well 5,000 feet underwater never been tried at such a depth

Biloxi, Mississippi (CNN) — The effort to place a massive containment dome over a gushing underwater wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico was dealt a setback when a large volume of hydrates — ice-like crystals that form when gas combines with water — accumulated inside the vessel, a BP official said Saturday.

The dome was moved off to the side of the wellhead and is resting on the seabed while crews work to overcome the challenge, a process expected to take at least two days, BP’s chief operations officer Doug Suttles said.

Suttles declined to call it a failed operation but said “What we attempted to do last night didn’t work.”

Suttles said the gas hydrates are lighter than water and, as a result, made the dome buoyant. The crystals also blocked the top of the dome, which would prevent oil from being funneled up to a drill ship.

“We did anticipate hydrates being a problem, but not this significant [of one],” he said.

Also Saturday, response crews discovered tar balls on a beach on Dauphin Island, Alabama, and sent them to a lab to determine if they’re from the Gulf Coast oil slick.

The analysis could take 48 hours to complete, the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center said Saturday.

The tar balls, which a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman described as “pieces of emulsified oil” shaped like pancakes, ranged in size from dimes to golf balls. Tar balls can sometimes occur naturally, said the spokesman, Erik Swanson.

Cleanup crews have placed snare boom — a pompom shaped material designed to collect tar balls — around Dauphin Island.

Two options officials are looking at to resolve the problem are heating the dome or adding methanol to dissolve the hydrates, Suttles said, adding that they are continuing to assess other methods to capturing the oil.

The crude is leaking at a rate of 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) a day.

Suttles said that another possible solution would be to “take ground-up material of various types and try to inject it into the blowout preventer at the bottom of it and it will flow up and plug it up,” an operation he compared to stopping up a toilet.

The maneuver is called a “junk shot,” Suttles said.

The blowout preventer is a 48-foot-tall, 450-ton apparatus that sits atop the well 5,000 feet underwater. It would stop the leak, BP has said, but it has not been working properly since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in flames on April 20 and sank two days later, triggering an oil spill that President Obama has called a “potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.”

Suttles cautioned that a junk shot is not without risk or challenge, which is why crews have not yet attempted the method.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of feet of boom and large volumes of dispersants continued to be deployed in an effort to capture or break up the spilled oil moving toward the Gulf coastline, and thousands of workers and volunteers diligently worked to skim the water’s surface. Suttles said 17,500 barrels (735,000 gallons) of oil-water mix were collected Friday, and crews conducted five successful controlled burns.

Hopes were high for the success of the four-story containment dome, but officials had cautioned that the risky operation had never been tried at such a depth.

“It’s a technology first,” BP CEO Tony Hayward said Friday. He said the dome works in 300 to 400 feet of water, “but the pressures and temperatures are very different here. So we cannot be confident that it will work.”

The arduous process takes time, Hayward said.

Casi Calloway, CEO of the environmental group Mobile Baykeeper, said Saturday she wasn’t counting on the operation to be successful.

“I’m praying for them to come up with anything,” she said. “In the meantime, though, we have to be realistic and we have to be planning, because it’s still a minimum of 5,000 barrels [a day] pouring out into the Gulf of Mexico until that thing is stopped.”

If the hydrate problem is resolved, BP, which owns the well, hopes to connect the dome to a drill ship over the weekend and to begin sucking oil from the containment dome up to the ship by the beginning of next week, Suttles said Friday.

The stakes are high for residents of coastal Louisiana who make their living from fishing in the Gulf. Oil washed ashore Thursday on Louisiana’s barrier islands and drifted west past the mouth of the Mississippi River.

“It’s killing everybody down here, everybody is more or less getting ulcers worrying about this, and it’s something we experienced five years ago with [Hurricane] Katrina,” charter boat owner Tom Becker told CNN Saturday. “But we knew it was coming faster than this thing is and we don’t know what the long-term effect of what’s going to happen with this if it [the oil] does get up here.”

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it has expanded the area closed to fishing to better reflect the spill’s location. The restriction, announced Sunday, is being extended until May 17, the agency said.

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