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On this day May 30, 1913

The Treaty of London was signed to deal with territorial adjustments arising out of the conclusion of the First Balkan War, declaring, among other things, an independent Albania.

The combatants were the victorious Balkan League (Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Montenegro) and the defeated Ottoman Empire. Representing the Great Powers were Britain, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Italy.

Hostilities had ceased on 2 December 1912. Three principal points were in dispute:

  • the status of the territory of present-day Albania, the vast majority of which had been overrun by Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece
  • the status of the Sanjak of Novi Pazar formally under the protection of Austria-Hungary since the Treaty of Berlin in 1878
  • the status of the other territories taken by the Allies: Kosovo; Macedonia; and Thrace

The Treaty was negotiated in London at an international conference which had opened there in December 1912, following the declaration of independence by Albania on 28 November 1912. Read More…

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Top kill method slows BP oil leak

A US Coast Guard official said today that BP’s latest effort to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been successful in slowing the amount of oil leaking from the well.

BP Live feeds

The official, Admiral Thad Allen, said that the procedure, known as a “top kill” operation, has been able to block some of the leaking oil at the source, the top of the damaged well.

The operation involves pumping material into the well to plug the leak before cement is used to permanently seal the leak. Allen said the the operation has “been able to force mud down and not allow any hydrocarbons to come up.”

BP hasn’t confirmed the success of the top kill operation, saying only that the “operation is proceeding as we planned it,” and that there had been no major incidents thus far. Although the possibility of failure is still present, experts say that the longer the procedure continues, the less likely it will be that anything goes wrong. Read More…

On this day May 21, 1894

The Manchester Ship Canal, linking Greater Manchester in North West England to the Irish Sea, officially opened, becoming the largest navigation canal in the world at the time.

On 21 May 1894 Queen Victoria visited to perform the official opening. The Queen knighted the mayor of Salford, William Henry Bailey and the lord mayor of Manchester, Anthony Marshall at the opening of the Canal, during one of the three royal visits the Queen made to Manchester. Edward Leader Williams was knighted by the Queen on 2 July by Letters Patent.

The project took six years to complete, at a cost of just over £15M, and was in its day the largest navigation canal in the world. More than 54 million cubic yards (41,000,000 m³) of material were excavated, about half as much as was removed in the building of the Suez Canal. An average of 12,000 workers were employed during construction, peaking at 17,000. Read More…

ATM inventor dies at 84

The man credited with inventing the world’s first automatic cash machine has died.

John Adrian Shepherd-Barron was born in Shillong, Assam (now Meghalaya), India. Educated at the University of Edinburgh and University of Cambridge, he went on to work for De La Rue Instruments in the 1960s and came up with the concept of a self-service machine which would dispense paper currency with 24/7 availability.

This was the Automated Teller Machine (ATM), the first machine was established outside an Enfield, north London, branch of Barclays Bank in 1967, when he was Managing Director of De La Rue Instruments; according to the ATM Industry Association, there are now more than 1.7 million installed worldwide.

He received the Order of the British Empire in the 2005 New Year’s Honours list for services to banking as “inventor of the automatic cash dispenser”. Shepherd-Barron told the BBC that he was inspired by chocolate vending machines.

Effort to stop Deepwater oil leak unlucky

An attempt to cap the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has hit yet another obstacle, reported officials from British Petroleum (BP).

Friday night’s attempt to install a 6-inch (15.2cm) tube into the leaking drill pipe was only the latest in a series of efforts by BP to stop or slow down the spill. Previously, the oil company had tried to enclose the pipe with a large container dome, and then lowered a smaller “top hat” container dome.

The siphon tube method is designed to reduce the amount of oil flowing into the ocean, but is not a permanent solution to stopping the leak altogether. It will draw the oil from the broken pipe to a tanker at the surface, said BP. Read More…

Cameron and Salmond meet in Edinburgh

Newly-elected UK Prime Minister David Cameron today travelled north to Scotland to meet with the country’s First Minster, Alex Salmond, for the first time since the general election.

According to The Scotsman, around 200 noisy protesters greeted the new PM, forcing security staff to take him into the devolved parliament via a back door.

Cameron’s Conservative Party have traditionally been unpopular in Scotland. They won just one out of 59 Scottish seats in the election, gaining around seventeen per cent of the vote. Read More…

Cameron becomes UK’s PM

David Cameron was today appointed the new UK Prime Minister. This follows five days of negotiation after the May 6 general election resulted in a hung parliament.

David Cameron

While the Conservative Party won the largest number of seats, they lacked enough for a majority government, and will consequently form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, who took the third-largest number. In the agreement, Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader, becomes Deputy Prime Minister.

Cameron, at 43, is the youngest prime minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812, and had only been a Member of Parliament for nine years prior to taking the most senior political office in the country.

He is the twelfth Prime Minister of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The post-election negotiations see the end of thirteen years of Labour Party rule beginning with the victory of Tony Blair in 1997. Read More…