Daily Digest: NATO planning Afghan security transition, Yemen city bombing worst in years, Nasdaq glitch in Facebook trading

Nickalas Tabbert

 Here is your Daily Digest for Monday, May 21:

Obama promises Afghanistan “won’t stand alone”

President Barack Obama vowed that Afghanistan “won’t stand alone” as NATO forces shift security responsibility to Afghan forces in the coming months.

World leaders met in Chicago Monday to chart the next step toward transitioning security responsibility, USA Today said.  Up for consideration between alliance members was a plan that would transition Afghan forces into the lead of security – with NATO troops playing an advisory role – by the middle of 2013, said Doug Lute, a senior adviser to Obama on Afghanistan – Pakistan issues. 

NATO troops are scheduled to cease all combat operations by 2014, the article said.

“Today, we’ll decide the next phase of the transition, the next milestone,” Obama said.  “We’ll set the goal for Afghan forces to take the lead of the combat operations across the country in 2013.  This will be another step toward Afghans taking full lead for their security as agreed to by 2014 when the ISAF combat mission will end.”

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Afghans were already leading security operations in half the country and were on pace to meet next year’s targets, The Associated Press said.

“Transition means the people of Afghanistan increasingly see their own army and police in their towns and villages providing their security,” Rasmussen said.  “This is an important sign of progress towards our shared goal: an Afghanistan governed and secured by Afghans for Afghans.”

Joining NATO leaders were representatives from other nations that have a stake in the war, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Yemen rocked by terrorist bombing

A Yemen military parade rehearsal went terribly wrong Monday after a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing 96 soldiers in one of the deadliest attacks in years, officials said.

Over 200 more were wounded after a man had concealed explosives under an army uniform, the defense ministry said.  Officials suspected he was a rogue soldier, a Euronews article said.

The bombing appeared to be a failed assassination attempt against the Minister of Defense, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, who arrived at the heavily secured city square to greet the assembled troops, The Associated Press said.

The attack came as the country’s new political leadership has been stepping up the fight against al-Qaeda militants holding large areas of land in the nation’s south. 

In statements not immediately available, militant group Ansar al Sharia, affiliated to al Qaeda, said it was behind the attack, Euronews said.

A statement on state television from Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said “the war on terrorism will continue until we win, whatever the sacrifices are. “

Hadi said Yemen is quickening the restructuring of the nation’s army to bring back stability to the country and that “Yemen can’t bear more crises.”


Nasdaq may be on hook for Facebook trading glitches

A trading glitch at Nasdaq during Friday’s Initial Public Offering for Facebook may end up costing the American stock exchange nearly $100 million, according to a report.

Nasdaq systems essentially broke down and failed to execute buy and sell orders for the stock at various times during the stock sale, according to people with first-hand knowledge of the event, Yahoo News said.

According to the report, traders said that the losses from the glitches have marred what should have been a huge victory for the exchange, snaring the coveted “listing” of Facebook’s highly anticipated IPO.

In alerts sent to traders Monday morning, Nasdaq said the trading delay was due to a “technical error.”

One trader said people didn’t know where their orders stood and that “Nasdaq couldn’t handle it – they blew it.”

Nasdaq said it had tried to "conclude the quoting period, execute the IPO cross, and print the opening trade to the tape for the Facebook IPO" at 11:05 a.m. ET.

Typically, that results in Nasdaq's system matching up buy and sell orders on the exchange's electronic marketplace. But on Friday, the process fell into an unexpected loop.

Nasdaq later switched to another system that matches orders, allowing the exchange to finally complete the process, CNN said.  Though Facebook had started to trade, switching to another system last-minute “resulted in unintended consequences.”

Included in those consequences were unaccepted orders, modifications and cancellations not part of the final “IPO cross” process.  Nasdaq said it eventually delivered confirmations nearly three hours later.

Despite the snags, CNN said, more than 80 million Facebook shares changed hands in the first 30 seconds of trading Friday.  Volume spiked to about 567 million shares by the end of the session, setting a new volume record for IPOs.