Senate leaders have appointed U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) as one of the 12 Senate conferees who will negotiate the final form of the landmark financial reform legislation that now has passed the Senate and the House in different forms. The conferees will meet in June.The Senate conferees seven Democratic senators and five Republican senators are senior members on either the Banking or Agriculture Committees. From the Agriculture Committee, Leahy — the panel s most senior member of either party — joins Democratic conferees Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), the committee s current chair; Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa); and Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). The Banking Committee s delegation on the conference is led by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the panel s chairman, joined by Democrats Tim Johnson (S.D.), Jack Reed (R.I.), and Charles Schumer (N.Y.), and Republicans Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).A key issue to be resolved by the conferees is oversight and regulation of financial derivatives investment contracts that are not based on actual assets or commodities, but which instead derive their value from market indexes such as foreign exchange rates or from traditional securities like stocks, or even insurance policies. Trading in derivatives, using increasingly complicated formulas, has exploded on Wall Street, reaching into the trillions of dollars, and playing a central role in the near-collapse of the economy in 2008. Leahy voted for the Senate Agriculture Committee s plan, sponsored by the panel s chair, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), to begin regulating derivatives, and especially their use by the banks that businesses and consumers rely on for the security of their savings and investments. The reforms include a narrow end-user exemption to allow legitimate commercial interests, such as electric cooperatives and heating oil dealers, to continue hedging their business risks.Leahy said the derivatives reforms in the Senate bill would finally bring the $600 trillion derivatives market out of the dark and into the light of day, ending the days of backroom deals that put our entire economy at risk. He said the bill will stop Wall Street traders from artificially driving up prices of heating oil, gasoline, diesel fuel and other commodities through unchecked speculation. If this crisis has taught us anything, it is that the look-the-other way, hands-off deregulatory policies that were in vogue in recent times can jeopardize not only private investments, but our entire economy.Another provision that is expected to draw special interest opposition in conference is an amendment that Leahy supported to protect small businesses from complicated predatory rules that big credit card companies impose on grocers and other commercial outlets in Vermont and other states. The Durbin Amendment would ensure that a small business would be able to advertise a discount for paying cash, or for using one card instead of another. I do not want Vermonters to pay more for a gallon of milk just because the big credit card companies are demanding a high fee on small transactions and are not allowing the grocer to ask for cash instead of credit, said Leahy.Source: Leahy’s office. WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, May 27, 2010)# # # # #
A car crash on Florida’s Turnpike south of State Road 60 Saturday has southbound traffic currently blocked, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash was reported about 11:30 a.m. at mile marker 187.No injuries have been reported.The northbound lanes had also been blocked for about 90 minutes.This story is developing.
OPENERS Azhar Ali and Sami Aslam hit half-centuries to help Pakistan strengthen their grip on the third day of the second Test against West Indies in Abu Dhabi yesterday.Ali was unbeaten on 52 and Asad Shafiq five not out as Pakistan reached 114-1 at stumps, increasing their lead to 342 after dismissing West Indies for 224 in their first innings.That had given Pakistan a first innings lead of 228 and left them firmly in control as they look to claim an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.Pakistan won the first Test — a day-night affair played with a pink ball — by 56 runs to take a 1-0 advantage.But despite the West Indies falling 29 runs short of avoiding the follow-on, Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq decided not to enforce it and batted again.Both Ali and Aslam survived leg-before decisions through referrals after on-field umpire Michael Gough had raised his finger on both occasions.Gough has now seen four of his decisions overturned in the match with fellow English umpire Richard Illingworth forced to change his initial verdict three times.Aslam was finally dismissed when he was caught behind off paceman Shannon Gabriel for 50, although only after West Indian captain Jason Holder called for a review.Pakistan will look to stretch their lead even further to leave the West Indies up against it on a wearing fourth and fifth day pitch at Sheikd Zayed Stadium.Earlier, West Indies added just 118 to their overnight score before they were bowled out at tea with Pakistani leg-spinner Yasir Shah taking 4-86.Holder (31) and Gabriel (13) frustrated Pakistan with a 27-run last wicket stand before Shah took the final wicket of Gabriel, caught at mid-on to end the innings.“We are in a commanding position,” said Shah. “We know the pitch will help spinners from tomorrow onwards so if we get a lead of 500 then we can press for a win.“It was good to get four wickets but I was facing a bit of difficulty after bowling with the pink ball in the first Test and then switching to red here.”Shah also dismissed Roston Chase (22) and Shai Hope (11) after lunch while fast bowler Sohail Khan bowled Miguel Cummins (three) to finish with 2-35.Resuming at 106-4, West Indies lost overnight batsman Jermaine Blackwood in the seventh over of the day when he edged Rahat Ali to wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed after scoring just eight.Chase and nightwatchman Devendra Bishoo both survived lbw appeals but Sohail had the last laugh as he clean bowled Bishoo for 20, leaving West Indies struggling at 144-6.The third and final Test will be played in Sharjah from October 30-November 3.(AFP)PAKISTAN 1st innings 452West Indies 1st innings (overnight 106 for four)L Johnson lbw b Rahat Ali 12D Bravo lbw b Yasir Shah 43K Brathwaite run out 21M Samuels c Sami Aslam b Rahat Ali 30D Bishoo b Sohail Khan 20J Blackwood c wkp Sarfraz Ahmed b Rahat Ali 8R Chase c Asad Shafiq b Yasir Shah 22+S Hope b Yasir Shah 11*J Holder not out 31M Cummins b Sohail Khan 3S Gabriel c Sohail Khan b Yasir Shah 13Extras (b2, lb7, nb1) 10TOTAL (all out, 94.4 overs) 224Fall of wickets: 1-27, 2-65, 3-106, 4-106, 5-121, 6-144, 7-169, 8-178, 9-197, 10-224.Bowling: Rahat Ali 21-8-45-3, Sohail Khan 19-8-35-2, Zulfiqar Babar 21-6-39-0, Asad Shafiq 1-0-2-0, Yasir Shah 28.4-6-86-4.PAKISTAN 2nd inningsSami Aslam c wkp Hope b Gabriel 50Azhar Ali not out 52Asad Shafiq not out 5Extras (b4, lb1, nb2) 7TOTAL (1 wkt, 39 overs) 114Fall of wicket: 1-93.Bowling: Gabriel 8-1-21-1 (nb2), Cummins 3-0-5-0, Brathwaite 13-2-27-0, Bishoo 12-0-45-0, Holder 3-0-11-0.