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Floods in Pakistan hold the seeds of upheaval

THATA SIAL, PAKISTAN — When the governor of Punjab province arrived recently in this small town with truckloads of relief goods for flood victims, his visit was as much a political mission as a humanitarian one. His message to the hundred or so displaced people gathered under an awning was that the government was there for them.

There have been angry accusations from politicians and flood victims that officials have guided relief to their own party supporters, and serious allegations that powerful landlords and politicians diverted surging floodwaters to protect their own lands at the expense of others.

Most political commentators say the president and his government are safe for the time being, if only because no one wants to take on the immense responsibilities of the crisis. And the main opposition leader, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, does not appear ready to test his party in national elections.

For GOP, Tea Party believers wield a double-edged sword

Christine O’Donnell, running in Delaware to be the Republican nominee for the Senate seat once held by Vice President Joe Biden, is a perennial candidate with a history of financial problems, including unpaid taxes and a home in foreclosure. Rep. Michael N. Castle, her opponent in the primary, is a veteran congressman and former governor who has won statewide elections more than 10 times.

But O’Donnell has the backing of the Tea Party, and suddenly Delaware has become the latest Republican civil war battlefield. National Tea Party groups are pouring money into O’Donnell’s campaign, while establishment Republicans are attacking her with more ferocity than they have shown toward the Democrat in the race, worried that O’Donnell is the bigger threat to the party’s winning the seat in November.

But analysts say third-party candidates will affect 10 House races, at best, in a year when 100 are competitive. And Republican strategists say it is wishful thinking on the Democrats’ part to hope that they can combat Tea Party enthusiasm with concerns about Tea Party extremism.

In Europe’s debt crisis, lending was still strong

Even as Europe’s sovereign debt crisis intensified early this year, banks continued to load up on debt from Greece and other countries with the most acute fiscal problems, according to a report released Sunday.

The report suggests that the European Central Bank inadvertently encouraged institutions to increase their risk as it tried to stabilize the banking system.

Banks increased the amount of credit they extended to governments and the private sector in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain by 4.3 percent, or $109 billion, in the first quarter of 2010 compared with the previous quarter, the quarterly report from the Bank for International Settlements said. The additional credit brought banks’ total exposure to those countries to $2.6 trillion. The Bank for International Settlements, in Basel, Switzerland, serves as a clearinghouse for the world’s central banks.

European banks increased their holdings to the four countries more than banks from the United States or other places outside of Europe.

—Jack Ewing, The New York Times