News briefs:May 07, 2010
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Today on Wikinews : no clear winner in yesterday's UK elections; good news - weird news in the US economy and how the sinking of a ship off the coast of Ireland in 1915 shaped world history.
- Music Credit The Internet Archive.
Today is Friday, May 7th, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and this is your news.
UK elections: Hung parliament, Cameron to negotiate with Liberal Democrats, Voters turned away from polling stations in UK general elections (0:44)
In our top story, a day after general elections were held in the UK, results indicate there will be a hung parliament — where no party obtains the simple majority needed to pass legislation on its own — raising the prospect of a minority or coalition government being formed, which would require cooperation between parties.
With only one constituency not yet counted, David Cameron's Conservatives have taken 306 seats, incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour party 258 seats, and Nick Clegg with his Liberal Democrats with 57. Cameron has said he will negotiate with the latter party to try and form a coalition to attain more than 325 seats, or half those in the parliament.
After Labour's large losses at the polls yesterday, both in terms of seats and votes, Cameron said Brown has "lost his mandate to govern". Clegg, meanwhile, says he thinks the result allows the Conservatives to try to form a government first, contrary to past tradition, under which the incumbent prime minister and his party in a hung parliament try first to form a coalition.
Clegg described his party's performance as "disappointing" during the night, as they had failed to make any significant advances in their target seats. Overall, the general swing varied, with all parties failing to gain many of their targets, and suffering unexpected losses in others.
In a short statement outside Downing Street, Gordon Brown stated that if any negotiations between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats failed, he would be prepared to form an alliance with Nick Clegg, offering "far-reaching political reform", in reference to the Liberals' long held position that the UK's first past the post voting system must be reformed into some form of proportional representation system, historically opposed by the Conservatives.
Brown, however, has made it clear he has no intention of stepping down as PM, saying he has "a duty as Prime Minister to take all steps to ensure Britain has a strong, stable and principled government".
Under British parliamentary convention, in the event of a hung parliament, Brown remains Prime Minister and the Labour Government continues to operate until it is demonstrated it cannot command a majority. The Government effectively gave approval for talks to begin by giving civil servants permission to support all parties in hung parliament negotiations.
The turmoil in UK politics was also felt at the citizen level as scores of polling stations were unable to cope with one of the highest voter turn outs in thirty years, leaving thousands of voters unable to cast their vote in yesterday's general election.
Police had to intervene in some areas when angry voters refused to leave after the 10.00pm deadline and at other polling stations, voters were turned away before ten when the stations ran out of ballot papers. A late surge in voter registrations also saw hundreds of voters eligible to vote but unable to do so because electoral rolls had not been updated.
The Electoral Commission sets national standards for elections, and promised an inquiry into elections where people were unable to vote.
For all the latest coverage of the UK elections, visit wikinews.org.
US stocks see 9% drop before making recovery, US economy added 390,000 jobs last month, unemployment at 9.9% (3:58)
Moving on now to the US economic sector; the latest figures from the US government say that the country's economy gained 290,000 jobs in April, the largest single-month gain since March 2006.
According to the Labor Department, excluding temporary workers for this year's census, the number of non-farm jobs increased by a seasonally adjusted 224,000.
The unemployment rate, meanwhile, increased from 9.7% to 9.9%; the apparent contradiction is because 195,000 people who previously gave up searching for jobs started looking for work again, entering the labor force and augmenting the jobless rate.
The increases were larger than expected by economic analysts; according to a survey done by MarketWatch, economists believed the country would have added 185,000 jobs for last month.
News of job growth was tempered, however, after US stock markets saw an unusually turbulent day yesterday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) losing almost a thousand points in thirty minutes, although later recovering somewhat to end the day with a smaller loss to close with down 3.30% or 347.80 points to a level of 10,520.
According to some reports, the quick loss happened because a trader mistyped an order to sell a large amount of stock, causing the stock price to go down enough to trigger orders to sell elsewhere in the market.
However, Chief investment officer at Fort Pitt Capital Group Charlie Smith said: "I think the machines just took over. There's not a lot of human interaction. We've known that automated trading can run away from you, and I think that's what we saw happen today."
Some stocks saw extreme, but short, changes; for instance, consulting firm Accenture saw its shares plummet from about $42 to four cents, although it later rebounded to close the day at $41.09 and stock for the Procter & Gamble company fell almost 37% during the sell-off, about 75 minutes to the closing bell.
Meanwhile, oil prices also dropped to lows not reached since February. Benchmark crude was down $2.86 to $77.11 in New York.
Delaware senator Edward Kaufman said of the situation, "The battle of the algorithms — not understood by nor even remotely transparent to the Securities and Exchange Commission — simply must be carefully reviewed and placed within a meaningful regulatory framework soon." Kaufman, along with senator Mark Warner from Virginia, called on Congress to investigate the cause of the mass sell-offs.
In the past three days, the DJIA has lost 631 points, or 5.7%, mainly over concerns about Greece's ailing, debt-burdened economy. Peter Boockvar an equity strategist for Miller Tabak, commented: "The market is now realizing that Greece is going to go through a depression over the next couple of years. Europe is a major trading partner of ours, and this threatens the entire global growth story."
On this day in history (7:03)
In 1915, Leslie Morton, an eighteen year old lookout on the bow of the RMS Lusitania, spotted a torpedo in the water which had been fired from Unterseeboot 20, a German submarine commanded by Walther Schwieger. The torpedo struck Lusitania under her bridge and according to Schwieger's captains log, "An unusually heavy explosion takes place with a very strong explosive cloud. The explosion of the torpedo must have been followed by a second one ..."
At this point in his log, we wonders if the second explosion had been from the boiler or possibly coal or powder igniting, then continues his entry, stating "... The ship stops immediately and heels over to starboard very quickly, immersing simultaneously at the bow... the name Lusitania becomes visible in golden letters".
On board the Lusitania, an SOS is sent out and Captain William Thomas Turner, who was known as "Bowler Bill", gave the order to abandon ship. By now, water was flooding the ship's starboard longitudinal compartments, causing a 15-degree list to starboard. Captain Turner tried turning the ship toward the Irish coast in the hope of beaching her, but the helm would not respond because the torpedo had knocked out the steam lines to the steering motor. Meanwhile, the ship's propellers continued to drive the ship at 18 knots, forcing more water into her hull.
Despite Turner's efforts to beach the liner and reduce her speed, Lusitania did not answer the helm. According to Schwieger, who had been observing the disaster through U-20's periscope, there was panic and disorder on the decks. At 14:25, he finally dropped periscope and headed out to sea.
Later in the war, Schwieger was killed in action when, as commander of U-88, he was chased by HMS Stonecrop, hit a British mine, and sank on 5 September 1917. There were no survivors from U-88's sinking. Since the sinking of Lusitania, Schwieger had been condemned in the Allied press as a war criminal.
Captain Turner remained on the bridge of Lusitania until the water rushed upward and destroyed the sliding door leading onto the bridge, washing him overboard and into the sea. He had managed to take the ship's logbook and charts with him as he escaped the rapidly sinking Lusitania and found a chair floating in the water which he clung to. He was pulled unconscious from the water, and survived despite having spent three hours in the water.
By the time it was over, Lusitania sank in 18 minutes eight miles off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, taking 1,198 lives with her.
In the aftermath of the sinking, the German government tried to justify it by claiming in an official statement that she had been armed with guns, and had "large quantities of war material" in her cargo. Lusitania had been carrying, according to her manifest, an estimated 4,200,000 rounds of rifle cartridges, 1,250 empty shell cases, and 18 cases of non-explosive fuses, but the cartridges were not officially classed as ammunition by the Cunard Line, the company who owned the vessel.
The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany, and was instrumental in bringing the United States, which up to this point had been reluctant to enter into European hostilities, into World War I.
Here is Herbert Stuart singing "When the Lusitania Went Down"
- Music Credit The Internet Archive.
And those are the top headlines for Friday, May 7th, 2010
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