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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

France Erupts In Worker Strikes in 200 Cities

Aired June 24, 2010 - 14:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MAX FOSTER, CNN INT'L. ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Work till you drop. Retirement ages in Europe creep up and not out of choice of the workers.

Taking aim at Apple's iPhone. The head of Motorola reminds us there is more than one smart phone on the market.

And the secrets to running a successful long-distance, low-cost airline. Fly the long way around and land at midnight.

I'm Max Foster in for Richard Quest. This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening.

Europe is facing up to a new retirement reality as pensions punch a hole in public finances, raising the retirement age is a prime target for European nations struggling to get their deficits under control. In a moment we'll have a live report from France where protestors have been taking to the streets all day long. A trade union has called those strikes as the government plans to reform the pension system and raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. The Labour minister says the move will save around $23 billion. This year France is on course to register record debt and deficit levels.

And here in the U.K. the government is looking to raise the state pension age for men to 66 years old. Even more extreme here. They also to scrap the default retirement age which allows employers to axe workers at the age of 65. Media reports say that could happen as soon as 2016. And the familiar argument is that as we live longer we should also work longer as well.

Onto to Greece, and pension reform there is a major test of the government's ability to get the country's financial house in order. In return for Greece's $148 billion bailout by the EU and the IMF, the government must cut wages and tackle pensions. That includes raising women's retirement age from 60 to 65, matching that of men. They'll also impose penalties for early retirement there as well. The two biggest unions in Greece are calling for strikes next week when parliament debates these changes. Well, today in France 10s of 1,000s of worker have already taken the streets. And CNN's Jim Bittermann is there.

Been taking it all in for us, Jim?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Max, we were out in the streets today and like you said, there were 100s of 1,000s of people out there protesting, all day long, all across France in 200 cities. And that was the issue. The question of whether or not to raise the retirement age from 60 to 65. And I've brought one of those 100s of 1000s of people to our balcony in Paris to tell us a little bit about it. Claire Krepper who is with one of the largest unions representing educational employees.

And you are a teacher, is that right?

CLAIRE KREPPER, UNSA: Yes, that's right. I teach English. I have been teaching English for quite a while and we are very happy with the success of this day. The demonstrations were huge and they united all sorts of people. I mean, workers from the public and the private sector but also students and young people, and also pensioners. All workers are very worried and very angry because, while I don't they believe that nothing must changed. We know that we want to have a sustainable retirement system we'll have to make changes, but they want those changes to be fair and they want the burden to be equally shared. And this is not the case at the moment. We think that most of the effort is required from workers and not from all the people who can contribute and who must contribute to the system.

BITTERMANN: Why, when the rest of Europe has already increased its retirement ages, why is France such an exception in this regard? It seems like retiring at age 60, the life expectancy here is actually close to 80 or more than 80 years old now. It means 20 years past retirement, people are living. Why should not people continue working?

KREPPER: Well, I don't that people should not continue working. I think that they should be able to choose if they want to continue working. And I think that in some cases you can't ask people to continue working over 60. I mean, when people started working very young, or when they have very demanding jobs, I mean physically demanding jobs. That should be taken into account. Life expectancy is not the same according to the type of job you have. And we are I think very angry because we think that we are paying for a financial crisis we were not responsible for, and bankers have a very long life expectancy, whereas manual workers don't. And they should be treated more fairly.

BITTERMANN: Now, while you were out there demonstrating today, I have to tell you, I was back here, and I saw Eric Woerth, who is the minister of budget in France, say, nothing is going to change. The government is not going to budge on this issue. Do you think they heard you today? They heard the demonstrations?

KREPPER: Well, I hope they did and I think they should; they really should. We are ready to demonstrate again in September. We have already started with all the different unions, started moving towards another date, of demonstration, which should be the beginning of September. And we want this retirement team to be improved. It can be improved. Some things must change, but it can be improved and we will get some improvements, we do believe that we can.

BITTERMAN: So, you are prepared? It is not going to be too late in September? Because maybe the law will be up already in September?

KREPPER: Well, uh, we hope not. We hope not.

BITTERMANN: Very good. Claire thank you very much. Claire Krepper, there.

Max, that is a little bit the way it looks to the -- from the perspective of somebody who was out in the streets all day today.

You've got a very nice tan, by the way, Claire, from being out in the sunshine today.

Max.

FOSTER: There is one bonus, there, isn't there? From being out.

Jim, it is not the first time we've covered in France, of course.

BITTERMANN: Yes.

FOSTER: Give us a sense, really, about how seriously they are taking this particular issue. Is this something that could explode into a much bigger series of events? Something that could change the course of events?

BITTERMANN: Well, I think, you know, on this issue both the unions and the socialist party and several other parties on the Left, in France, have dug in on this issue. There have been some concessions that have been made with the government along the line, or people have just given up some of the reforms that the government has made.

But on the issue of retirement, there is a lot of weight now, on the other side, opposing the government on what it is planning to do. And as a consequence I think that we could see, as Claire was pointing out, the unions are already sort of making plans for this fall. So, it could be a very hot fall, and people come back, if it is not already a fait a compli, if the legislation has not already been passed by the national assembly, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Jim. Thank you very much indeed. It is a sign, really, that something has to be done across Europe to deal with all of these financial issues. Big cuts, and lots of pain.

As I understand it we can cross to Washington where President Obama is speaking with the Russian president. Let's have a look at what we can see.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And our partners on the Security Council to impose the toughest sanctions ever faced by the government of Iran. Together our nations have deepened out cooperation against violent extremism, as terrorist threaten both our people, be it in Times Square or in Moscow.

And today we have agreed to expand out cooperation on intelligence and counter-terrorism. Russian transit groups now play a vital role in supplying American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. And to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons we came together at our Nuclear Security Summit, where our two nations made numerous commitments, including agreeing to eliminate enough plutonium for about $17,000 nuclear weapons.

Together we have coordinated our efforts to strengthen the global economic recovery through the G20, work that we will continue in Toronto this weekend. And today we agreed to continue closely to coordinate our diplomatic and humanitarian efforts following the tragic outbreak of ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan.

Our two countries continue to disagree on certain issues, such as Georgia. And we address those difference candidly. But by moving forward in areas where we do agree we have succeeded in resetting out relationship, which benefits regional and global security. This includes, I would note, a change in the attitudes among the Russian people, who today have a far more favorable view of the United States and that in turn creates more space for additional partnership. Indeed, this has been the real focus of our work today and of President Medvedev's visit. Not simply resetting our relationship but also broadening it; because 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the U.S.-Russian relationship has to be about more than just security and arms control. It has to be about our shared prosperity and what we can build together.

That is why we created the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, during my visit to Moscow last year, to forge new partnerships, not just between governments but between our businesses, our people's and our societies. And today we agreed to forge new cooperation across a whole range of areas. In particular, we are expanding trade and commerce. We agreed to deepen our collaboration on energy efficiency and clean energy technologies.

And this afternoon, President Medvedev and I will join American and Russian business leaders as they move forward with a series of major trade and investment deals that will create jobs for Americans and Russians across many sectors, from aerospace and automotive engineering, to the financial sector and high technology.

Consistent with my administration's national export initiative, this includes the sale of 50 Boeing aircraft worth $4 billion that could add up to 44,000 new jobs in the American aerospace industry. To deepen Russia's integration into the global economy, I reaffirmed our strong commitment to Russia's ascension to the World Trade Organization. Today we have reached an agreement that will allow the United States to begin exporting out poultry products to Russia, once again.

And I want to thank President Medvedev and his team for resolving this issue which is of such importance to American business and which sends an important signal about Russia's seriousness about achieving membership in the WTO. Therefore, I told President Medvedev that our teams should accelerate their efforts to work together to complete this process in the very near future. Russia belongs in the WTO. That is good for Russia. It is good for America. And it is good for the world economy.

I appreciated very much the opportunity to hear President Medvedev's vision for modernization, in Russia, especially hi-tech innovation, as a personal passion of the president during his visit to Silicon Valley this week he visited the headquarter of Twitter, where he opened his own account. I have one as well, so we may be able to finally throw away those red phones, that have been sitting around for so log.

American companies and universities were among the first to invest in President Medvedev's initiative to create a Russian Silicon Valley outside Moscow. And more are announcing new investments today.

Mr. President, the United States will be your partner, as you promote the transparency, and accountability, and rule of law, that is needed to infuse the spirit of innovation throughout your economy. We're deepening partnerships between our societies, as they did during our meeting in Moscow, leaders from civil society groups, Russian and American are meeting here in Washington to explore new ways to cooperate in education, and health, human rights, and combating corruption.

And in the spirit of President Medvedev visit, we are placing a special focus on how new technologies can improve their work.

Finally, I would simply add that the new partnership between our people spans the spectrum, from space, to science, to sports. I, President, you are aware that recently I welcomed to the White House a group of young Russian basketball players. Both boys and girls, who were visiting the United States. We went on the White House basketball court and I have to admit some of them outshot me.

They represented the hope for the future that brings our countries together. Those were the same hopes of another generation of American and Russians. The generation that stood together as allies in the Second World War, the great patriotic war in which the Russian people suffered and sacrificed so much. We recently market the 65 anniversary of our shared victory in that war, including that historic moment when American and Soviet troops came together in friendship at the Elbe River, in Germany.

A reporter --

FOSTER: All right. We're going to leave it there, but we are going to monitor that press conference between the presidents of the U.S. and Russia, as it continues and bring you the very latest developments. It comes ahead of the G8 and G20 meetings in Canada.

They had burgers for lunch. We can confirm that much for you. That also have -- they are going to embark on a series of trade deals, poultry was one area where they can do some work. Also, President Obama saying that America will support Russia's ascension to the World Trade Organization. And other interesting aside, the Russian president has set up a twitter account, one of America's most famous companies, right now, of course. As he visited Silicon Valley, he wants to create a version of Silicon Valley in Russia. So, he's getting some ideas on that.

And he visited Twitter HQ, as part of that. We'll be back in a moment and I'll bring you the updates on that press conference as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Apple's newest phone, the iPhone V has gone on sale, in case you hadn't noticed. At a flagship Apple store along New York's Fifth Avenue, people happily cued to get their hands on the new smart phone.

It is thinner. It has dual cameras for video chats. And it costs between $199 and $299 dollars. Apple's iPhone along with its iPod and IPad, has changed the way consumers compute. And that has changed Apple's stock as well.

If you go back a decade to June 26, 2000, the share of Apple cost just over $26; during the past 10 years the stock's value has leapt, hovering now at around $271, for just one share. Now Imagine if you help found the world's most valuable tech company only to turn around and sell your 10 percent stake for $800, back in the '70s. Today it would be worth $22 billion. But life is about more than money, as Dan Simon found out when he met Apple's forgotten founder.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RON WAYNE, APPLE CO-FOUNDER: These are from Germany.

DAN SIMON, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): His net worth is mostly tied up in his coin and stamp collection.

WAYNE: I play penny machines. Mostly the poker machines.

SIMON: A few days a week he drives himself to a casino hoping one day he'll hit the jackpot. He's 76, retired, and lives in this modest home outside of Las Vegas, in Pahrump, Nevada. He gets by off his monthly Social Security check.

WAYNE: I'll put it real simple. I've never been rich.

SIMON: A lot of people face similar challenges. Except how many can honestly say they could have been a billionaire more than 20 times over, if only he could have seen it.

(On camera): You know that when people hear your story they say to themselves, my gosh, $22 billion. You could have had it.

WAYNE: What can I say? I mean, you make a decision based upon your understanding of the circumstances. And you live with it. You know, that is the best you can do. There is nothing you can do about yesterday.

SIMON (voice over): Ron Wayne is the third founder of Apple. He designed the company's first logo, and the first operating manual.

(On camera): With these signatures, right here, Apple computer was formed?

WAYNE: Yes.

SIMON (voice over): This 1976 legal agreement show his name along side the well-known founder, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.

Wayne, an engineer by trade, had befriended Jobs, who he says wanted his help in forming the company.

SIMON (On camera): This is the contract right here.

WAYNE: Yes.

SIMON: And it says, Ron Wayne, gets 10 percent of the business.

WAYNE: Uh-huh.

SIMON: And you were happy with that.

WAYNE: Of course, I had no investment in it. It was a fascinating thing.

SIMON (voice over): But only 11 days after Apple came into existence, Wayne had second thoughts.

WAYNE: I felt, very honestly, that the way these guys were going, they were going to bulldoze their way through anything to make this company succeed. But it was going to be a very rough ride, and if I wasn't careful I was going to wind up the richest man in the cemetery.

SIMON: He says he was worried about being on the hook for debts the company would incur. At the time Wayne's 10 percent stake netted him just $800.

WAYNE: As far as I was concerned it was found money. And I didn't want to get in anybody's way and why should I -- why would I possibly do that anyhow?

SIMON: At the time, you were pleased to take it.

WAYNE: Absolutely.

SIMON (voice over): Throughout the years, Wayne has held various jobs as an engineer. He's never had a particular fascination with computers.

(On camera): How many Apple products have you bought over the years?

WAYNE: In round numbers? About as round a number as you can get. I've never owned an Apple product.

SIMON: Wayne says he's not jealous of Steve Jobs, or Apple's success. And says it is useless to waste time wondering, what if? He last spoke to Jobs 10 years ago.

WAYNE: I don't think anybody could have imagined the success that Apple did become. But I knew that it would be a successful enterprise, because the people who were driving it were skilled and capable and dynamic and focused.

SIMON: Wayne is hoping to finally cash in on his Apple connection with a forthcoming book. The title, "Adventures of an Apple Founder", Dan Simon, CNN, Pahrump, Nevada.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: We've got some breaking news for you. Canadian police have taken a man into custody after pulling over a suspicious car near the site of the G20 meeting in Toronto. These are the images we have for you, just come into us. The car is said to contain weapons and gasoline cans. But so far there is nothing to connect it with this weekend's gathering of world leaders.

I just want to bring you some more information that we managed to garner from Sargent Mark LaPort (ph). And he's told us this. That there were pellet guns, a crossbow, gas tanks, chemical products, and they are all being tested right now. The car is pulled over because of a container on the vehicle. And the driver, the person in the vehicle, the suspect, couldn't explain why those items were there, which is why he's been taken in. The police looked in the contained and a loaded crossbow was found in there.

Just to remind you, it is not linked with the meetings, that is not confirmed -- we have not had it confirmed that it is linked with the meetings. The suspect is 53 years old.

On that note we are going to cross back to Washington, where the Russian president has been speaking alongside the U.S. president.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): -- which is in line with the current spirit and level of our friendly and partnership relations that -- and also many relations between Mr. Obama and me. So, I hope all the colleagues that are present here and are members of the commission who will actually work to implement the plans that we have.

So, we went through the national agenda. And today we devoted less time to it, because in our previous meetings we devoted a lot to it, so still have managed to do something. We have spoke on the Middle East crisis and the resolution on Iran, the Korean Peninsula developments, the Kirghizstan developments and some other most complicated issues that currently are on our planet. We also spoke about here, global security. We believe that, we share a common view that Europe should have a security system. We have some differences. And Mr. President mentioned it, in terms of, for example, the after affects of the conflict that was initiated by Georgia's leadership in 2008. But these differences will not prevent us from discussing future and launching mechanisms of contacts.

We discussed the situation around the new START Treaty. Our goal, the goal of the two presidents is to ensure tranquil verification (ph) of a treaty by our parliament. I hope it is going to be done in the near future. For example, in the states in the Russian Federation there are hearings, there are hearings in place, there are hearings on. And in Congress there are hearings, as far as I know, as well as in the Senate. So these active discussions should reveal the truth and synchronize the process of ratification. We keep think of our next future steps. And this is a serious responsibility of the Russian Federation and the United States. We would not lift this responsibility or shirk it, we will keep in and such are always ready to discuss various issues with my colleague and my counterpart.

And we succeed in these discussions. Last time President and I spoke over the phone was a record, my record of phone conversations, probably some longer records. It lasted one hour, 45 minutes, which a lot. I may say frankly and the ear starts getting stiff. But the result I will not result -- I will not brief you on the nuances, on the topics we discussed. We were both interested and submerged into the topic. But only our aides, our ministers should be that responsible, but we too.

So I am thankful to my counterpart for his active cooperation and for a warm welcome here in Washington. Thank you so much.

OBAMA: OK, we're going to take some questions. We will start with --

FOSTER: OK, there we have President Obama just tying up a news conference there, next to his Russian counterpart, dealing with a lot of trade issues. They have G20 meeting. And talking about new trade deals and also about getting -- OK, OK, we're going to go back, briefly. There is something interesting going on.

QUESTION: The troops are drawing in July of 2011, so are you confident that everyone on your team is on the same page when it comes to your plan. Do you expect anyone else to leave?

And if I may, to President Medvedev, given your country's history and experience in Afghanistan and your ability to talk candidly with President Obama, have you offered him any advice on the Afghan war? And do you believe a foreign country can win in Afghanistan? Thank you.

OBAMA: The short answer is that what we saw yesterday was a change in personnel but not a change in policy. Let me flesh that out. When we engaged in an extensive review last year, General Petraeus was part of a group that included Secretaries Gates, Clinton, my national security team, that discussed extensively what our various options were in Afghanistan. And what was determined was number one, that we had to be very clear on our mission. Our mission, first and foremost, is to dismantle and destroy Al Qaeda and its affiliates so that they can't attack the United States. The reason we are there in the first place is that 3,000 Americans were killed from an attack launched in that region. We are not going to have that repeated.

In order to achieve that we need to make sure that we have a stable Afghan government and we also have to make sure that we've got a Pakistani government that is working effectively with us to dismantle these networks. What we then said was would we put in additional troops to provide the time and the space for the Afghan government to build up its security capacities, to clear and hold population centers that are critical, to drive back the Taliban to break their momentum and that beginning next year we would begin a transition phase in which the Afghan government is taking more and more responsibility for its own security.

Here is what we did not say last year. We did not say that starting July 2011, suddenly there would be no troops from the United States or allied countries in Afghanistan. We didn't say we'd be switching off the lights and closing the door behind us. What we said is we begin a transition phase in which the Afghan government is taking on more and more responsibility. That is the strategy that was put forward.

What we have also said is that in December of this year, a year after this strategy has been put in place, at a time when the additional troops have been in place and have begun implementing strategy that we will conduct a review and we'll make an assessment. Is the strategy working? Is it working in part? Are there other aspects that aren't working? How is the coordination between civilian and military? Are we doing enough to build Afghan security capacity? How are we working effectively with our allies?

So we are in the mid point of implementing the strategy that we came up with last year. We'll do a review at the end of this year.

General Petraeus understands that strategy because he helped shape it. And my expectation is that he will be outstanding in implementing it and we will not miss a beat because of the change in command in the Afghan theater. Keep in mind that during this entire time, General Petraeus has been the CENTCOM commander, which means he's had responsibility, in part, responsibility in part for overseeing what happened in Afghanistan and -- and that is part of the reason why I think he's going to do such a -- a capable job. Not only does he have extraordinary experience in Iraq, not only did he help write the manual for dealing with insurgencies, but he also is intimately familiar with the players. He knows President Karzai. He knows the other personnel who are already on the ground.

So our team is going to be moving forward in sync. It is true that I am going to be insisting on a unity of purpose on the part of all branches of the U.S. Government that reflects the enormous sacrifices that are being made by the young men and women who are there.

I mean, every time I go to Walter Reed, when I visit Afghanistan and I visit the hospitals and you see young men and women who are giving their all, making enormous sacrifices on behalf of the security of this nation, my expectation is, is that the leadership is true to those sacrifices; that the strategy that we're promoting, the manner in which we are working together at the leadership level, fully respect -- fully reflects and honors the incredible dedication of our young men and women on the ground.

That's what I expect. And I believe that is what I will receive.

Was there one last aspect to the question?

QUESTION: Does anyone else need to -- to go into -- in the chain of command?

OBAMA: The -- I am confident that we've got a team in place that can execute. And -- now, I'm paying very close attention to make sure that they execute. And I will be insisting on extraordinary performance moving forward.

One last thing I just want to remind everybody, though, that the issues with General McChrystal that culminated in my decision yesterday were not as a -- as a result of a difference in policy. I want to be very clear about that. He was executing the policy that I had laid out, that he was executing the orders that I had issued and that were reflective of the review process that took place last year.

MEDVEDEV (through translator): I'll try to be even briefer than my colleague, Mr. President.

You know, I hope that I have quite friendly -- friendly relations with President Obama, but I try not to give pieces of advice that cannot be fulfilled. This is a hard topic -- a difficult one.

I can say only two things.

First of all, we believe that, at present, the United States and some other countries are assisting the Afghan people in obtaining the much wanted statehood and to restore the basis of the functioning of an effective state, restore the civil society and the economy.

And in these terms, we will support and back the efforts of the U.S.

As far as our own experience -- well, the well known experience as concerned -- I would very much like to see the Afghan people in the near future having an effective state and a modern economy and -- which requires toiling -- and more than a year -- but this is the path to guarantee that the -- the most -- the gravest scenarios of the -- of the last time will not repeat.

Please, Itar Tuss (ph)?

QUESTION (through translator): Good day.

Itar Tuss, the News Agency (INAUDIBLE).

My question to president of the United States, you just mentioned that you discussed the issue of Russia's joining the WTO during your talks. But I must admit that -- and state that the promises to facilitate Russia's entry has been heard by the Russian delegation for decades.

Could you more specifically name the time frame when you are referring to finalizing the process in the near future?

And a question to Medvedev. Yesterday, you visited the Silicon Valley.

How did your perceptions on future cooperation between Russia and the U.S. In the high tech sphere change?

And what indicators should be reached so that you can call the cooperation a successful one?

Thank you.

OBAMA: On the WTO, first of all, I emphasized to President Medvedev, I emphasized to his entire delegation and I now want to emphasize to the Russian people, we think it is not only in the interests of the Russian Federation, but in the interest of the United States and in the interests of the world that Russia joins the WTO. So this is something that we want to get resolved.

In terms of time frame, let me give you a sense of perspective from our U.S. Trade representative, Ron Kirk, who has been in close contact and negotiations with his counterparts on the Russian side. The way he described it is that 90 percent, 95 percent of the issues have now been resolved.

Now, the remaining 10 -- 5 percent to 10 percent are difficult issues and are going to require some significant work. But they're -- but that should give you some sense that a lot of work has already been done, even in the last few months, that makes an enormous difference.

Now, in our joint statement, what we are going to essentially instruct our negotiators is that they try to come to terms with the technical issues that remain by the fall. We are going to keep putting pressure on negotiators in the same way that we did during the START treaty, so that these -- there's a sense of urgency on the part of our team.

A lot of the technical issues -- the resolution of those technical issues, though, may be in the hands of the Russian government. We've already made progress on some issues like encryption, for example. There may be certain international standards that require modifications in Russian law.

So as much as possible, what I've told my team is...

FOSTER: President Obama there speaking alongside the Russian president in Washington, talking about the World Trade Organization just there, saying that it is in the interests of the world, Obama said, that Russia joins the WTO. But only 90 to 95 percent of the issues have actually been dealt with and the other 10 percent, 5 to 10 percent, are difficult and require a lot of work. They're aiming at a -- a fall deadline, though, to deal with those issues.

It was very interesting seeing the Russian -- the leaders of Russia and the United States standing there together, considering their history in Afghanistan, talking about Afghanistan. But the essence of what Mr. Obama was saying was that there was no difference in policy between him and General McChrystal, it was a separate issue for which Mr. McChrystal left and his replacement certainly does know enough about the policy to carry on in that work.

He insists that -- this is a quote from Obama: "I am going to be insisting on unity of purpose on all branches of government."

So that was the message coming out after the McChrystal affair.

And asked if anyone else would go, he said he would be insisting on extraordinary performance from everyone involved.

In government, in effect, that is where we leave the press conference for now.

We'll bring you more details if they come into us.

We'll be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: You're watching FOSTER MEANS BUSINESS.

A series of stories unfolding this hour on CNN.

We're going to bring you this, coming into us right now from Greece. Athens police have confirmed to CNN that there's been an explosion at the Ministry of Citizen Protection in Central Athens this Thursday evening. The explosion has left at least one police officer injured. It's not clear if the minister, though, Michalis Chrysochoidis, was in his office or not. And we haven't also had a claim of any responsibility so far. Keeping across that for you.

Also, over in Canada, a suspect has been taken into custody after police investigated a -- a suspicious car near the site of the G20 meeting in Toronto. And that's the car. This is the latest imagery we have for you. It's not live, but it's just come into us.

The man's car contained several cans of gasoline and a number of weapons, including a crossbow. So far, police say there's nothing to connect it with this weekend's economic summit in meetings -- economic summit meetings. But obviously the police are questioning the suspect after finding all of those bits of equipment in the car, which they see as suspicious.

And we're going to bring you more details on both of those stories for you.

Negotiations are underway right now in Washington, also, over reforms which will transform the financial system in the United States. You're looking at live pictures of the deliberations. And U.S. lawmakers are grasping a few very thorny issues, it has to be said.

Maggie Lake joins us for more on this from New York.

It's complicated stuff, but very important -- Maggie.

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is complicated and it is critical if we're going to get real reform done, Max.

It's going right down to the wire. We've been watching it all day. And I have to tell you, dipping in and out of it, some of this stuff is pretty arcane to the average person. So let's try to break it down a little bit and concentrate on what the sticking points are.

If you take a look here, one of the big issues is derivatives market, right?

This $600 trillion market. It's full of things like credit default swaps, which brought down the insurance giant, AIG. They were at the core of the global financial crisis that we saw. There seems to be agreement. We expect that they are going to pass something that requires derivatives to trade through a clearinghouse now. OK, something like this. So Party A dealing with Party B, they're going to have to go through this clearinghouse, or an exchange, much like you see stocks and futures markets do right now.

The idea is that before, Party A was dealing only with Party B, in the dark up here. And no one could quantify what the counter-party risk was. There seems to be pretty good agreement on that.

Here's where the trouble is with derivatives. There is a provision by Senator -- Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln that would require banks to spin-off their swap debt from the rest of the unit, the core banking business. Wall Street has been fighting this one bitterly. A lot of people fought thought that provision was going to get watered down, but so far, it doesn't seem to be. So that is really where one of the hang-ups is with derivatives.

OK, let's move this out of the way, if we can, and talk about the other big sticking point. And that is something that's known as the Volcker Rule, named after former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. That would require banks -- investment banks, names we know -- JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs -- to spin-off their hedge fund units and also really -- restrict the kind of proprietary trading -- trading for their own accounts. So things like JP Morgan's Highbridge Capital, FrontPoint Partners from Morgan Stanley, Global Alpha for Goldman Sachs. They'd have to be put into a different unit, capitalized on their own. That is a big source of revenue for these banks. Again, another provision Wall Street lobbyists have been fighting so hard for.

So that's where some of the sticking points are. They're going down to the wire. Where -- what the language looks like, whether -- who will be exempt from derivatives, those are the kind of details that are, A, potentially going to change the landscape of Wall Street, but also, critics say, are going to be the real litmus test as to whether any of this financial reform makes any financial reform makes any difference in trying to stem that systemic risk that caused so much problems back in '08 and '09 -- Max.

FOSTER: And, Maggie, lobbyists don't come much more powerful than Wall Street lobbyists, do they?

And they're having some success. Just -- just describe how they're, you know, how they're convincing the politicians and how the politicians are then selling their argument, the ones that are on the side of Wall Street.

LAKE: Wow! Well, that's the problem. They say they're not on the side of Wall Street. But this is why it's really difficult, because the folks who are trying to sort of rein it back a little bit from the extreme that we're talking about with the Lincoln provision, with the Volcker provision, they say it's not Wall Street they're trying to protect. They're worried about unintended consequences. They say that, for instance, with the swaps unit, if you spin it off, it's just going to go overseas and we'll have even less control out of it. When you're talking about spinning off some of these hedge funds, requiring that they're in a different unit, they say that will just contract capital away from the rest of the economy, banks won't be able to lend, they'll be too busy buffering up the capital on these units.

So that's what they say they're worried about, the -- the unintended consequences on the economy, Max.

Whether their argument holds water with voters is another thing.

FOSTER: OK, Maggie, thank you very much, indeed.

We've got live pictures for you of those hearings taking place. And we're going to watch it, of course. It's a big deal. It affects not just Wall Street, but the world economy. And we're going to keep on top of that for you.

Maggie will bring you more details as it comes through to her, as well.

Traders in Europe seeing red today. The markets ended firmly lower for a third day in a row. Renewed worries over the European debt crisis sparked the retreat. Bank stocks suffered, though, another really tough session, links with Greece there, of course.

As we heard earlier, governments across Europe are looking into raising the pension age as a way of reducing their deficits. There are some people in the U.K., though, would you believe, who are prepared to work until they're 70, without a choice, of course.

Earlier, I spoke to Val Bishop, an employee at the DOY (ph) store, B&Q.

I began asking her to tell us a bit about what work she is doing there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAL BISHOP, B&Q EMPLOYEE: I work on the returns desk and when it's quiet -- when it's busy, I come out of there and I do the returns and the sales on the tills, as well.

FOSTER: So dealing with customers every day?

BISHOP: Customers every day.

FOSTER: Is that what you wanted to do when you decided to carry on working after what should have been your retirement age?

BISHOP: Yes, I know, but I'm used to working with the public doing the job that I did all those years ago.

FOSTER: You were a taxi driver.

BISHOP: I was a taxi driver for a long, long time, so...

FOSTER: You wanted to work with people?

BISHOP: I wanted to work with people.

FOSTER: I guess you considered retiring...

BISHOP: I did.

FOSTER: And why did you end up with the decision that you wouldn't retire?

BISHOP: Because life would be boring with nothing to do.

FOSTER: So it's not about the money?

BISHOP: It's not the money, no. I'm...

FOSTER: You just want the job?

BISHOP: Yes, just -- I like the job. I want to be able to get up in the morning with a purpose in life, not just get up and do everyday mundane things and then be a couch potato. I couldn't do it.

FOSTER: So that implies that you approve of the retirement age being increased.

BISHOP: There's for and against. In none way, yes; in one way, no.

FOSTER: OK, give us the yes.

BISHOP: The yes, I agree with it, solely because firms can't kick people out after 65 or 60, it is for a woman. They'd be able to work on. But the down side of it is a lot of people are going to really feel it, because they've worked all their lives for a pension and they might have to solely rely on the -- rely on the state pension.

FOSTER: So they may be forced to work...

BISHOP: Yes.

FOSTER: You've chosen to carry on working. And you found a company that recognizes that.

BISHOP: Yes, I know, but there's very few of the companies that (INAUDIBLE), who are solely for people like us. They like the experience and the input that we can give to them.

FOSTER: But when you're talking about your experience, how do the customers benefit from that, as opposed to someone who's in their 20s and doesn't have your experience?

BISHOP: Because we can -- what should I say?

They can ask us questions, whereas the -- the youngsters of today couldn't possibly answer. They're looking for experience for the people to -- to give them that, whereas the youngsters couldn't unless they were fully trained.

FOSTER: How long do you plan to work for?

At what age are you going to give it all up?

BISHOP: As long as I'm fit and able and I've still got everything up there, yes, I'm going to work.

FOSTER: You could be living until you're 120.

BISHOP: Great.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

FOSTER: A positive story there, a positive business story for you today, as well.

We'll be back in a moment with more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: Athens police have confirmed to CNN that there has been an explosion at the Ministry of Citizen Protection in Central Athens on Thursday evening. The explosion has left at least one police officer injured. It's not clear if the minister was in his office or not. No claim has been made so far.

We're going to get more now on the explosion, though, from journalist Elinda Labropoulou.

Thank you for joining us, Elinda.

What more information have you got?

ELINDA LAPROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: Well, the latest information is that the officer is actually dead. So he was killed during the explosion. The bomb was in a package. Apparently the person who opened it, the officer in question, has been killed from the explosion.

It's -- you know, the explosion took place only meters away from the office of the minister. We don't know if he was in the building at the time. We saw him just come out and make some comments on television just minutes ago, all the same.

He said, we're not afraid. Whoever did this is going to pay. I have lost a colleague and a friend.

This only (INAUDIBLE) not very long ago, so the information is just coming in. So that's all we have for the time being.

FOSTER: And in terms of that area of Athens, a busy area, I guess, and the public wandering around?

LAPROPOULOU: A busy area, but the question is that this -- this actually took place in the ministry itself. So the -- whoever managed to get the bomb in did manage to get it into the public order ministry.

FOSTER: OK. And in terms of the -- of the ministry, what does -- what does it do?

What -- just explain what sort of work is carried out there.

LAPROPOULOU: Well, it's the public order ministry, so anything to do with police, anything to do with order (INAUDIBLE) carried out in that ministry.

FOSTER: OK. And in terms of the very latest information, you're -- as you understand it, one police officer affected so far?

LAPROPOULOU: Yes.

FOSTER: OK.

LAPROPOULOU: That's right.

FOSTER: Thank you very much for joining us, Elinda, with that.

Details then on that explo -- explosion in Athens. One police officer dead. And it happened at a ministry there in Central Athens.

More details as they come through to us, of course, trying to figure out if the minister was, indeed, in the building at the time.

The other breaking news story we have for you this hour, a suspect taken into custody in Canada after police investigated a suspicious car near this site of the G20 meeting in Toronto. The G20 meeting is just near where the car is. The man's car contained several cans of gasoline and a number of weapons, including a crossbow.

These are the images we have for you coming in locally. Police say there's nothing to connect it with this weekend's economic summit meetings so far, but they are, of course, questioning the suspect and there is a heightened state of alert in the city, for obvious reasons, ahead of that meeting.

We're going to have more on that as it comes into us, of course, and on Greece and also on the press conference from the presidents of Russia and the U.S. currently taking place in Washington.

We're going to get the weather for you now with Guillermo -- hi, Guillermo.

GUILLERMO ARDUINO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Max.

You know, I was looking at Britain particularly. You saw the -- all the drama unfolding there. And we saw the -- the situation in Wimbledon, the longest match ever. And so I looked up the temperatures to see how tolerable it could be for -- not only for the tennis players, but also for the attendees.

So we see high pressure, nice conditions. We are not expecting any rain at all. Conditions will continue to warm up, as a matter of fact. So we expect like 25 degrees or so in the area.

So I'm going to fly in. I'm going to give you the three day forecast, because the games continue. So remember, something in the area of 25 degrees, 26 degrees; partly cloudy skies; sunny; wonderful weekend. I'm very happy to report on that.

The severe weather continues to affect the southern sections, in Spain, especially toward the north, we may see some thunderstorms. But most of the bad weather and heavy rain is toward the eastern parts of Europe. So we'll continue to see the weather.

Stay with us.

More QUEST MEANS BUSINESS after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: All sorts of financial news unfolding today across the world.

Let's have a look at how the Dow is taking it all.

Let's cross to Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down today more than 1 percent. So a pretty negative session. Concerns about the economy there, the economy in Europe, also, reports showed a still tough environment for the manufacturing and labor markets over there. And on Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve also sounded a cautious tone on the economy. So generally, a negative feeling there.

Also here in Europe, the markets earlier finishing firmly in the red, as you can see. Bank shares hardest hit because of concerns about the credit situation in Europe and the knock on effect of what's going on in Greece in particular.

In Asia, the stock markets were barely changed, though, so they had a bit of a more positive session. (INAUDIBLE) more or less finished flat. Exports from the country rose in May, but at the slowest pace in five months and that has raised concerns about the pace of the economic recovery there.

We have developing news stories coming into us from Toronto on a suspicious car. A man's been arrested there. Also, an explosion in Greece.

All of that, full details on "WORLD ONE," which starts right now here on CNN.

END