Powerful prayer to St. Michael the Archangel - video ~ link
Lord Stirling's news blog EUROPE
Gulf oil spill: "Quick fix" dashed as BP tower fails to contain oil ~ link ~ I would not call anything done to this point "quick". This is a massive disaster and has the potential of becoming a risk to life on this planet. Nuke the site NOW before it gets any worse. All the political and corporate bullshit will not stop the leak, if it could it would already be history.
BP wrestles with oil spill 'hitch' in Gulf of Mexico ~ link ~ The Russians have used nukes five different times to stop out of control gushers. The time to do so in the Gulf is NOW.
Nick Clegg sets himself 24 hours to reach agreement with the Tories ~ link ~ Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, has given himself until the end of tomorrow to decide whether to let David Cameron form a government, or instead risk a deal with Labour that might be seen as illegitimate by the public and jeopardise the success of a yes vote in a referendum on electoral reform.
Clegg met Gordon Brown for an hour at the Foreign Office today and is understood to have set out his fear that a Lib-Lab coalition might be regarded as illegitimate even if Brown stood down as its leader.
Senior cabinet figures have told Brown in the last 48 hours that he should stand down and operate merely as a transitional figure for an unspecified period.
Brown is said to be willing to step aside in due course, with some cabinet hardliners saying he should quit before a referendum on electoral reform and that his presence would taint the outcome.
In these circumstances, the rules provide for the cabinet to choose a leader from within its ranks. No agreement exists as to the identity of this figure, but the likely options are Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman, or foreign secretary David Miliband. Some cabinet ministers were privately urging the Lib Dems to call for Brown to go as a precondition of an agreement.
Clegg's team comprised the Lib Dem manifesto author, Danny Alexander, home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, the schools spokesman, David Laws, and the former chief whip Andrew Stunell.
The Tory team was the party's policy chief, Oliver Letwin, shadow chancellor, George Osborne, the shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, and Ed Llewellyn, Cameron's chief of staff. Also see: Lib-Dems - Tory talks: The Negotiators ~ link
Three days on: Still no deal as talks hinge on voting reform ~ link ~ Nick Clegg and David Cameron were were still struggling to find common ground last night over the deal-breaking issue of reforming Britain's voting system as they sought an agreement that could forge the next government.
A day of high drama, which saw secret meetings take place in Whitehall and desperate phone calls made between party leaders, ended without resolution. Senior Tories and Liberal Democrats will meet again today to hammer out a deal which would finally allow Mr Cameron to enter Downing Street. Mr Cameron will set out the details in a meeting with his new band of MPs in the Commons today.
The Tory leader yesterday dangled the prospect of several cabinet jobs to the Liberal Democrats, but both sides believe a looser agreement is more likely as they edge towards a deal. Gordon Brown left Downing Street for an hour-long meeting with Mr Clegg as he manoeuvred to make him an offer should talks with the Tories collapse. But it could be the last roll of the dice for the Prime Minister, who consulted his most trusted allies yesterday over his own position.
A series of "back-channel" negotiations were taking place across the weekend between the parties. One source familiar with the discussions said a broad anti-Tory coalition was a serious option – but depended on Labour having a new leader. He said: "Propping up Gordon Brown would be toxic, but once he goes things become much easier. The arithmetic is very much possible."
"This [electoral reform] is virtually the only issue that will be at the forefront of any discussion with the Conservatives," one Liberal Democrat frontbencher told The Independent last night. "No substantial deal can be made that doesn't progress this issue. It's not going to be handed to us on a plate but it is something that we are intent on fighting for."
A senior Conservative said last night the two sides were still far apart on electoral reform, but insisted Mr Cameron believed the distance could be narrowed. He said: "David is negotiating in good faith – he is hungry for power and so are the people around him."
CBI (UK's leading employers' organization): Parties need not panic over forming coalition but must not delay ~ link ~ Britain's leading employers' organisation urged a speedy end to post-election uncertainty tonight amid growing fears that the political vacuum could trigger fresh turmoil in the City tomorrow.
Richard Lambert, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said the risk of contagion from Greece – given a €95bn bailout on Friday – to other heavily indebted countries increased pressures on the parties to come to an agreement on the shape of the next government.
"What's happening in the eurozone adds some extra urgency," Lambert told the Guardian. "While Britain is not nearly as vulnerable as some eurozone countries, the markets are starting to look at sovereign risk in a jaundiced way."
Senior Labour MPs tell Gordon Brown its time to go ~ link ~ Gordon Brown has been told by a number of cabinet ministers that he must announce he would only be a transitional figure in any Lib-Lab deal dedicated to introducing electoral reform.
He has been told his continued presence would not only stigmatise a Lib-Lab coalition, but also any referendum on a more proportional voting system for the Commons. Cabinet members believe the public will not change their negative view of Brown, and despite what they see as his stamina, personal courage and dignity in the campaign, he probably cost Labour 40 seats.
The chances of a coalition deal involving Labour is receding fast, cabinet ministers recognise, partly because they know the Liberal Democrats believe Brown's continued presence as prime minister would be seen as illegitimate by the public.
But there are many in the cabinet who are not yet willing to surrender, and believe passionately there is a progressive coalition of principle to be constructed with Clegg's party. Ministers such as Peter Hain, Lord Mandelson, Ben Bradshaw and Lord Adonis have been conducting a "talk to the Liberal Democrat MP you know strategy". They have been offering not just an olive branch, but an olive grove to lure the Liberal Democrats, trying to underline to them the certainty of a referendum on electoral reform under Labour.
Liberal Democrat MPs have also been delicately warned they will be obliterated at the next election by Labour if they form an alliance with the Conservatives to cut spending. One cabinet member said: "If the Liberals do a deal, they will be toast at the next election. We will be under a new leader and will describe the Tories and Liberal Democrats as a coalition of cutters. You can write the leaflets now."
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats strive to square their differences ~ link ~ David Cameron and Nick Clegg showed how seriously they are taking the talks by sending in their biggest hitters. William Hague, Cameron's "deputy in all but name", led the Tory side which included the shadow chancellor and election campaign manager George Osborne and the brains behind the manifesto, Oliver Letwin.
Across the table in one of the grand rooms of the Cabinet Office was Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman who is the most accomplished economist of the two teams; the schools spokesman David Laws, one of the party's sharpest brains who would marry the two manifestos with Letwin; Danny Alexander, Clegg's chief of staff and author of the manifesto; and Andrew Stunell, the former chief whip.
The two sides marched up the steps and through the glass doors, embossed with the royal crest, shortly before 11am. They came out shortly after 5.30pm to deliver virtually identical messages – they would meet again within the next 24 hours and, in an attempt to reassure the markets, would put the reduction of Britain's £163bn fiscal deficit as their main priority.
Party warns Clegg: No deal without electoral reform ~ link ~ Nick Clegg will be forced to face the growing concerns within his party over co-operating with a Tory government amid unease that the Liberal Democrats may fail to secure any major concessions on changing Britain's voting system.
The Liberal Democrat leader, who has been warned by senior members of the party not to form a pact with David Cameron without a "significant" offer on electoral reform, will again meet with his MPs and the party's federal executive to discuss the state of the negotiations.
So far, the party's leadership has been delighted with how party unity has held together in the light of the disappointing election result and the frantic talks with the Tories. But activists and members have now begun to speak out against any deal that would see the Liberal Democrats allow Mr Cameron run even a minority government without the "bare minimum" of a referendum on proportional representation.
Cameron risks grassroots revolt over LibDem pact ~ link
Cameron facing pressure from within Tory camp over LibDem deal ~ link ~ That pressure is nothing compared to the 'pressure' that he will face if he does not obtain a deal with the LibDems that allows him to move into No. 10 Downing Street.
Tory activists blame 'Cameron's chums' for failure to win majority ~ link ~ Amid mounting recriminations over Cameron's failure to secure an overall parliamentary majority, Tory anger is focused on the tight circle that ran the campaign and the relatively inexperienced shadow ministers who sold the Tory message on television.
One senior Tory said: "If we had not had the television debates we would now be in government with an overall majority. Debates, plus big society and gimmicky nonsense equals a hung parliament. No debates, plus core message and proper politics would have equalled victory."
Tories are voicing their anger in private because they do not want to jeopardise the negotiations with the Liberal Democrats. But the ConservativeHome website has compiled a critique of the party's general election campaign which will be released once it is clear whether the Tories are entering government or, in the event of a Lib-Lab deal, remaining in opposition.
Gordon Brown waits for Birnam Wood to advance on No. 10 ~ link ~ If Gordon Brown's fate has been to resemble not just one but several Shakespearean tragic heroes – cursed in his relationship with Tony Blair by a jealousy worthy of Othello, racked in the first months of his premiership by the indecision of Hamlet – then today he was Macbeth, seemingly playing out his final act. Like the embattled Scottish king holed up in his castle, watching Birnam Wood march on Dunsinane, Brown sat in No 10 knowing that, a few yards away, enemy forces were gathered, preparing to combine and seize his crown.The cameras were trained on 70 Whitehall, where Lib Dem and Conservative negotiators were trying to make David Cameron prime minister. But on the other side of what's known as "the link door" sat the incumbent, surrounded in No 10 by advisers, ministers and former aides, including two of the founding fathers of New Labour, Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell. The only man missing from that pioneering quartet was Blair – although perhaps, like Banquo, he sent his ghost.
That the PM saw Clegg again today, in a clandestine meeting at the Foreign Office, confirmed Brown was far from ready to surrender. Instead, this man of uncanny resilience was clearly planning one more resurrection.
Which version is true? Is Brown now the becalmed statesman, planning his exit, or the bloodied survivor, determined to fight on? The likelihood is that, when it comes to Brown – the most psychologically complex figure to inhabit Downing Street since Winston Churchill – the answer is both.Liberal Democrats have demanded six cabinet seats ~ link ~ THE Liberal Democrats have demanded six cabinet posts, including the roles of Foreign Secretary and Scottish Secretary, in return for joining the Conservatives in a new coalition government, The Scotsman can reveal.
With talks between the two parties over forming a government set to continue, a Tory insider said the Lib Dems had yesterday insisted on at least one of the four top offices of state in a government formed by the two parties.
Tory sources revealed that the party had already vetoed the suggestion of handing over control of the Foreign Office to the Lib Dems because of the party's pro-European stance but it is understood Nick Clegg could be offered the position of Home Secretary in a Cameron government instead.
To seize this historic moment, the LibDems must turn to Labour ~ link ~ But the fact remains that victory, under the electoral system we have, means securing a Commons majority. Constitutionally, no other metric matters. If the Conservatives believe that share of vote and lead over the nearest rival should have some moral weight in deciding a winner, they have already conceded a vital point about the need for electoral reform: the proportion of overall support in the country as a whole matters.
At the start of the campaign, this newspaper argued it should be the last fought under the first past the post system. The result clearly vindicates that view.
Labour won 8.6m votes and 258 seats; the Lib Dems got 6.8m votes and 57 seats. It takes nearly four times as many people to deliver a seat for the Lib Dems as it does for Labour or the Tories. A profound injustice is committed when the system that is supposed to amplify the voice of the electorate distorts it instead.Hung Parliament: What will the Queen do next? ~ link
Gordon Brown ready to stand down as Labour holds out hope of agreement ~ link ~ Speculation was growing last night that Gordon Brown could tender his resignation as leader of the Labour Party as early as tomorrow.
Senior party figures yesterday urged Mr Brown to face up to the reality of the election result and stand down as soon as possible to enable the party to rebuild in opposition. He could use a meeting of the party's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) to announce that he will stand down. Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader, would take over as interim leader.
Ministers insist they have far more common ground with the Liberal Democrats – notably over electoral reform and reviving the economy – than the Tories have.
Several ministers believe that Mr Brown's continuing presence in Downing Street is undermining the party's fading chances of negotiating a deal with the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Brown, who remains Prime Minister, met ministers and Labour officials to discuss the party's next steps. They included Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, Ms Harman, Ed Miliband, author of the Labour manifesto, and Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former press secretary.
Despite the apparent progress between the Tories and Liberal Democrats, Labour is keeping alive the prospect of an anti-Tory "progressive alliance", including Scottish and Welsh nationalists, as well as Northern Ireland MPs. Labour says Mr Brown is ready to negotiate with Mr Clegg if his talks with David Cameron collapse, offering him immediate legislation to hold a referendum on changing the voting system. However, they acknowledge that his presence at the table could prove a stumbling block for Mr Clegg, who has made clear he would not prop up Mr Brown as Prime Minister.UK voters (62%) want Gordon Brown out NOW as Cameron and Clegg work on coalition deal ~ link ~ link ~ link ~ My best guess is that Cameron and Clegg have worked out a deal on who gets what in the Cabinet/etc., but they are having some trouble on the voting reform issue as they have intense pressure from their own MPs on this issue. The LibDems have voting percentages not too much lower than Labour or the Conservatives in every election but end up with only a fraction of the number of elected MPs and they want and need to change that; Tory MPs fear changing the current 'first past the post' system, they worry that they may never have a clear majority under the proportional representation election system that the LibDems demand.
The bold move by Cameron, which could trigger the end of the first-past-the-post system, risks fuelling unrest from Tory MPs who oppose proportional representation (PR).
Talks between senior Tories and Lib Dems will resume today in Whitehall amid fears that the financial markets will face further turbulence unless the two sides can reach agreement.
With Britain experiencing its first hung parliament after a general election for 36 years, both the Tories and Lib Dems warned that the country was unlikely to have a new permanent government for several more days.In a sign that the parties are moving closer to a settlement, senior Lib Dems indicated that voting reform is unlikely to be a “deal breaker”. One MP said the party was willing to listen to Tory proposals on PR, even if they failed to offer a referendum. But the Lib Dems are holding out for a fixed-term parliament as a precondition of any deal with the Tories
The Greek spirit of resistance turns its guns on the IMF ~ link ~ What this article and most mainstream news media articles are not telling us is that the Greeks are increasingly waking up to who/what is screwing them and they are mad as hell. Greece today is very close to a revolution against the global banking cartel and their corrupt bought-and-paid-for political class. That is what is really spooking Wall Street.
Shadow Banking: Keeping the Fed Honest by former NY Governor Elliot Spitzer ~ link ~ Yes, we have learned a lot in the last year about the private "shadow banking system" that helped bring down our economy. Yet no entity was more central to the failure of regulation that helped to create this crisis, nor more central to keeping solvent the banks that enabled it, than the Fed. Through guarantees, equity investments, debt purchases and other methods, the Fed probably spent upward of $1 trillion to resuscitate the banking system. Remarkably, at a time when "transparency" is the favorite word of all reform prescriptions, what still remains unclear, a year after the massive bailouts, is who got how much.
Iran to Surge to a Hegemonic Position in the Middle East Without a Major War ~ link ~ Have no fear, dear old Bibi will solve that 'problem' before the summer is over.
Most South American leaders threaten to boycott EU-Latin American Summit ~ link ~ Most South American nations have decided to boycott an EU-Latin American summit in Spain in protest against the invitation extended to newly-elected Honduran President Porfirio Lobo for attending the summit, South American leaders attending the UNASUR summit in Argentina said Wednesday.
"There is unease shared by most of us that will prevent a lot of UNASUR countries from attending the summit," said Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, whose country is the current holder of the bloc's rotating presidency.
Renewed volcanic ash from Iceland brings new flight cancellations ~ link ~ Travellers were hit with more chaos today as renewed activity from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano forced a new wave of flight cancellations and airport closures.
Several flights to and from UK airports were cancelled as new ash clouds drifted across Europe, while in Scotland four airports were closed.
The Highlands & Islands Airports (HIAL) website said that Kirkwall and Inverness airports were expected to be shut until 1pm and Benbecula and Stornoway to be closed until 7pm.
This morning Italian airspace was closed until 9 am, while The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) warned that Knock Airport could be closed from 5pm tonight.USA - China Strategic Divide Begins ~ link ~ The most significant pretext, however, was the US decision to move ahead with its $6.4-billion defence equipment sales package to the Republic of China (ROC: Taiwan), which was announced by the US Defence Department on January 29, 2010. Given historical precedent, Beijing had no option but to react negatively to the sale, and hoped its early threats of damage to US-PRC relations would sway the now left-leaning US Congress to refuse sanction for the sale, an unlikely occurrence, but one which had a 30-day window of opportunity, the time during which Congress can veto an Administration foreign military sale after it has been proposed.
Perhaps most importantly, however, the incident gave Beijing the long-awaited opportunity to break completely with the US-led packages of measures on trade, economic approaches, and “climate change” accords, which were perceived as being highly detrimental to the PRC’s need to control its domestic agenda and the foreign resources acquisitions needed to support it. Thus, competition between the PRC and the West in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia (not to mention East Asia) will intensify with less regard for niceties.Polls open in Philippines national election ~ link ~ Computer based voting or vote counting cannot be made secure. He who controls the source code, controls the outcome of the election - period!
Voters will elect a new president and vice-president, as well as more than 17,000 other positions.
Benigno Aquino, the son of the popular former president, Cory Aquino, has been leading the polls but former president Joseph Estrada is also in the running.
One of the main concerns is whether the country's new automated voting machines will be up to such a complex task.
The third presidential candidate considered to have a serious chance is Manny Villar, one of the richest men in the Philippines.
Senators, lawmakers and local officials are being elected at the same time as the president.