March 28, 2012 archive

Mar 28

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

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This is an Open Thread

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Mar 28

If we ever stop talking about Hoodies…

Mar 28

BATS in the Belfry

The Bats Affair: When Machines Humiliate Their Masters

By Brian Bremner, Business Week

March 23, 2012

In the annals of business screw-ups, Bats has certainly made its mark. Bats stands for Better Alternative Trading System and the company runs two exchanges that collectively rank third in terms of U.S. share trading, behind New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. The Bats exchanges account for 11 percent to 12 percent of daily U.S. equity trading, according to its website. The company came of age with the expansion of high-frequency trading over the last decade and the proliferation of quant-jock-driven electronic firms that dominate the buying and selling of U.S. equities. Bats founder Dave Cummings is chairman and owner of high-frequency trading firm Tradebot Systems.

Today was supposed to be the Lenexa (Kan.)-based company’s moment in the limelight as it tried to sell about 6.3 million shares in the $16 to $18 dollar per share range. Instead, something went terribly wrong. The company’s shares somehow ended up trading for pennies per share early in the trading day on both the Bats bourse and Nasdaq, according to data reviewed in this Bloomberg story. Then tech investors and Apple (AAPL) fanboys the world over were dismayed when a single trade for 100 shares executed on the Bats market sent Apple’s shares to $542 per share, down sharply from recent levels. (The company set a new 52-week high of $609 per share on March 21.) The stock temporarily halted trading and recovered.

And, as a matter of fact, we do know what went wrong.

Bats: The Epic Fail of the Worst IPO Ever

By Dan Beucke, Business Week

March 23, 2012

Bats priced 6.3 million shares through underwriters yesterday and appeared set to begin trading about 90 minutes into the day when chaos erupted. While the company quoted its shares at $15.25 at 10:45 a.m. on its website, feeds including those sent to Bloomberg LP displayed different prices. At 11:14 a.m., Bloomberg received data showing 1.26 million shares had traded, with the most recent execution at 3.84 cents and the lowest transaction at 0.02 cent.

Compounding the confusion, a single trade for 100 shares executed on a Bats venue at 10:57 a.m. briefly sent Apple down more than 9 percent to $542.80, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Two more transactions, which sent the stock back above $598, were made before the halt. The stock stayed around that level once trading resumed five minutes later and the errant trade, along with the Bats transactions, were later canceled. Bats sent a notice about 10 minutes before the Apple trade saying it was investigating “system issues” affecting companies with ticker symbols ranging between A and BF. Apple’s is AAPL. Bats’s ticker was BATS. At 11:07 a.m., Bats’s BYX Exchange took a procedural step known as “declaring self help” against its BZX exchange, indicating that it had stopped routing orders to the market because BZX wasn’t responding to messages quickly enough.

BATS exchange withdraws IPO after stumbles

By Olivia Oran, Jonathan Spicer, Chuck Mikolajczak and Carrick Mollenkamp, Reuters

Sat Mar 24, 2012 1:37pm EDT

The debacle raised questions for regulators, investors and the underwriters, including Citigroup Inc, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group, which were listed before the IPO as major shareholders.



Since the May 2010 “flash crash” in which nearly $1 trillion in market value disappeared in minutes, the Securities and Exchange Commission under Chairman Mary Schapiro has pledged to crack down on problems in the high-speed electronic marketplace, which regulators worry has grown unstable and perhaps unfair as high-frequency trading has grown in prominence.



It is expected to draw even more scrutiny from regulators looking into the soundness of the exchange’s servers, trade-matching engines and computer codes, and it could land BATS in legal trouble for withdrawing its IPO after trades were executed in the public marketplace, according to experts.



“It’s just another black eye for the fragmented equity structure,” said Joe Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey, and a frequent critic of U.S. equities market structure. “Every day we see things like flash crashes and now IPOs that can’t get off the ground.”

But don’t worry, our captive fearless SEC facilitators regulators are on the case and the Obama/Holder Justice Department will make sure that everyone skates any irregularities are appropriately corrected.

Or not.

Mar 28

BATS in the Belfrey

The Bats Affair: When Machines Humiliate Their Masters

By Brian Bremner, Business Week

March 23, 2012

In the annals of business screw-ups, Bats has certainly made its mark. Bats stands for Better Alternative Trading System and the company runs two exchanges that collectively rank third in terms of U.S. share trading, behind New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. The Bats exchanges account for 11 percent to 12 percent of daily U.S. equity trading, according to its website. The company came of age with the expansion of high-frequency trading over the last decade and the proliferation of quant-jock-driven electronic firms that dominate the buying and selling of U.S. equities. Bats founder Dave Cummings is chairman and owner of high-frequency trading firm Tradebot Systems.

Today was supposed to be the Lenexa (Kan.)-based company’s moment in the limelight as it tried to sell about 6.3 million shares in the $16 to $18 dollar per share range. Instead, something went terribly wrong. The company’s shares somehow ended up trading for pennies per share early in the trading day on both the Bats bourse and Nasdaq, according to data reviewed in this Bloomberg story. Then tech investors and Apple (AAPL) fanboys the world over were dismayed when a single trade for 100 shares executed on the Bats market sent Apple’s shares to $542 per share, down sharply from recent levels. (The company set a new 52-week high of $609 per share on March 21.) The stock temporarily halted trading and recovered.

And, as a matter of fact, we do know what went wrong.

Bats: The Epic Fail of the Worst IPO Ever

By Dan Beucke, Business Week

March 23, 2012

Bats priced 6.3 million shares through underwriters yesterday and appeared set to begin trading about 90 minutes into the day when chaos erupted. While the company quoted its shares at $15.25 at 10:45 a.m. on its website, feeds including those sent to Bloomberg LP displayed different prices. At 11:14 a.m., Bloomberg received data showing 1.26 million shares had traded, with the most recent execution at 3.84 cents and the lowest transaction at 0.02 cent.

Compounding the confusion, a single trade for 100 shares executed on a Bats venue at 10:57 a.m. briefly sent Apple down more than 9 percent to $542.80, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Two more transactions, which sent the stock back above $598, were made before the halt. The stock stayed around that level once trading resumed five minutes later and the errant trade, along with the Bats transactions, were later canceled. Bats sent a notice about 10 minutes before the Apple trade saying it was investigating “system issues” affecting companies with ticker symbols ranging between A and BF. Apple’s is AAPL. Bats’s ticker was BATS. At 11:07 a.m., Bats’s BYX Exchange took a procedural step known as “declaring self help” against its BZX exchange, indicating that it had stopped routing orders to the market because BZX wasn’t responding to messages quickly enough.

BATS exchange withdraws IPO after stumbles

By Olivia Oran, Jonathan Spicer, Chuck Mikolajczak and Carrick Mollenkamp, Reuters

Sat Mar 24, 2012 1:37pm EDT

The debacle raised questions for regulators, investors and the underwriters, including Citigroup Inc, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group, which were listed before the IPO as major shareholders.



Since the May 2010 “flash crash” in which nearly $1 trillion in market value disappeared in minutes, the Securities and Exchange Commission under Chairman Mary Schapiro has pledged to crack down on problems in the high-speed electronic marketplace, which regulators worry has grown unstable and perhaps unfair as high-frequency trading has grown in prominence.



It is expected to draw even more scrutiny from regulators looking into the soundness of the exchange’s servers, trade-matching engines and computer codes, and it could land BATS in legal trouble for withdrawing its IPO after trades were executed in the public marketplace, according to experts.



“It’s just another black eye for the fragmented equity structure,” said Joe Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey, and a frequent critic of U.S. equities market structure. “Every day we see things like flash crashes and now IPOs that can’t get off the ground.”

But don’t worry, our captive fearless SEC facilitators regulators are on the case and the Obama/Holder Justice Department will make sure that everyone skates any irregularities are appropriately corrected.

Or not.

Mar 28

Drones? Of What Drones Doth Thou Speak?

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

President Barack Obama: “Drones? Drone attacks? Mr. Holder, do you know anything about this?

United States Attorney General Eric Holder, “I’ve never heard of drones, Mr. President. Leon, what do you hear from the generals?

Former Director of the CIA and current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, “No, Eric, I have no information about drones. Perhaps, Director Petraeus would know about these drones”

The three men look around the room for CIA Director David Petraeus. He’s  nowhere to be found.

That fictional conversation never took place but the Obama administration would now like us all to believe that they cannot even confirm or deny the existence of a drone program at all without seriously damaging national security. Huh? They really don’t expect anyone to accept that statement that was made in response to an ACLU lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act requesting the “the government to disclose the legal basis for its use of predator drones to conduct “targeted killings” overseas. In particular, the ACLU seeks to find out when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killings.

Glenn Greenwald in an in depth article at Salon dissected this laughable “defense” of national security about predator drones, targeted assassinations and Obama’s taking “Bush’s secrecy games one step further“:

What makes this so appalling is not merely that the Obama administration demands the right to kill whomever it wants without having to account to anyone for its actions, choices or even claimed legal authorities, though that’s obviously bad enough [..]

What makes it so much worse is how blatantly, insultingly false is its claim that it cannot confirm or deny the CIA drone program without damaging national security.

Numerous Obama officials – including the President himself and the CIA Director – have repeatedly boasted in public about this very program. Obama recently hailed the CIA drone program by claiming that “we are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied,” and added that it is “a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists, who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases and so on.” Obama has told playful jokes about the same drone program. Former CIA Director and current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also likes to tell cute little jokes about CIA Predator drones, and then proclaimed in December that the drone program has “been very effective at undermining al Qaeda and their ability to plan those kinds of attacks.” Just two weeks ago, Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech purporting to legally justify these same drone attacks.

“Cute little jokes”? Is that like President George W. Bush’s “cute” little video looking for weapons of mass destruction in the Oval Office? I don’t think the people who have lost family and friends and had their lives destroyed by America’s misadventures in the Middle East think this is amusing.

And just where is the secret? Everyone in the world is talking about the predator drone program that has killed more innocent people than Al Qaeda operatives and put the US relationship with ally Pakistan on very thin ice. Just this weekend there was a long article in The Washington Post with an unnamed CIA official who was directing drone attacks in Pakistan:

Roger, which is the first name of his cover identity, may be the most consequential but least visible national security official in Washington – the principal architect of the CIA’s drone campaign and the leader of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. In many ways, he has also been the driving force of the Obama administration’s embrace of targeted killing as a centerpiece of its counterterrorism efforts.

Glenn further notes that this fixation of the Obama administration on secrecy, as evidenced by its increased prosecution of whistleblowers, is a means to protect itself from rule of our laws. He quotes from President G.W.Bush DOJ lawyer Jack Goldsmith, who defended executive authority and secrecy powers but recognized that Obama was taking this too:

First, it is wrong . . . for the government to maintain technical covertness but then engage in continuous leaks, attributed to government officials, of many (self-serving) details about the covert operations and their legal justifications.  It is wrong because it is illegal.  It is wrong because it damages (though perhaps not destroys) the diplomatic and related goals of covertness.  And it is wrong because the Executive branch seems to be trying to have its cake (not talking about the program openly in order to serve diplomatic interests and perhaps deflect scrutiny) and eat it too (leaking promiscuously to get credit for the operation and to portray it as lawful).

This can be filed under the “You’ve Got To Be Kidding” defense.

Drones? What drones? Hmm. Ask Iran, maybe they know something about this drone thing.

Mar 28

On This Day In History March 28

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 28 is the 87th day of the year (88th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 278 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1979, the nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island overheats causing a partial meltdown. At 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979, the worst accident in the history of the U.S. nuclear power industry begins when a pressure valve in the Unit-2 reactor at Three Mile Island fails to close. Cooling water, contaminated with radiation, drained from the open valve into adjoining buildings, and the core began to dangerously overheat.

The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was built in 1974 on a sandbar on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River, just 10 miles downstream from the state capitol in Harrisburg. In 1978, a second state-of-the-art reactor began operating on Three Mile Island, which was lauded for generating affordable and reliable energy in a time of energy crises.

Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station

The power plant was owned and operated by General Public Utilities and Metropolitan Edison (Met Ed). It was the most significant accident in the history of the USA commercial nuclear power generating industry, resulting in the release of up to 481 PBq (13 million curies) of radioactive gases, and less than 740 GBq (20 curies) of the particularly dangerous iodine-131.

The accident began at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28, 1979, with failures in the non-nuclear secondary system, followed by a stuck-open pilot-operated relief valve (PORV) in the primary system, which allowed large amounts of nuclear reactor coolant to escape. The mechanical failures were compounded by the initial failure of plant operators to recognize the situation as a loss-of-coolant accident due to inadequate training and human factors, such as human-computer interaction design oversights relating to ambiguous control room indicators in the power plant’s user interface. In particular, a hidden indicator light led to an operator manually overriding the automatic emergency cooling system of the reactor because the operator mistakenly believed that there was too much coolant water present in the reactor and causing the steam pressure release. The scope and complexity of the accident became clear over the course of five days, as employees of Met Ed, Pennsylvania state officials, and members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) tried to understand the problem, communicate the situation to the press and local community, decide whether the accident required an emergency evacuation, and ultimately end the crisis. The NRC’s authorization of the release of 40,000 gallons of radioactive waste water directly in the Susquehanna River led to a loss of credibility with the press and community.

In the end, the reactor was brought under control, although full details of the accident were not discovered until much later, following extensive investigations by both a presidential commission and the NRC. The Kemeny Commission Report concluded that “there will either be no case of cancer or the number of cases will be so small that it will never be possible to detect them. The same conclusion applies to the other possible health effects”. Several epidemiological studies in the years since the accident have supported the conclusion that radiation releases from the accident had no perceptible effect on cancer incidence in residents near the plant, though these findings are contested by one team of researchers.

Public reaction to the event was probably influenced by The China Syndrome, a movie which had recently been released and which depicts an accident at a nuclear reactor. Communications from officials during the initial phases of the accident were felt to be confusing. The accident crystallized anti-nuclear safety concerns among activists and the general public, resulted in new regulations for the nuclear industry, and has been cited as a contributor to the decline of new reactor construction that was already underway in the 1970s.

The incident was rated a five on the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale: Accident With Wider Consequences.

Mar 28

Cartnoon

Crusader vs. the Pirates

Crusader Rabbit Crusade 2 Episode 19

Open Thread

Mar 28

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning


Auricle 2

Mar 28

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

These featured articles-

This special feature for March Madness starting at 7 PM EDT

This is an Open Thread

The Stars Hollow Gazette