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Archive for the ‘London Riots’ Category

G20: Yes, we Cannes!

Resolving the European financial crisis is the most important task for world leaders, the US President Barack Obama has said at the G20 summit in Cannes. Mr Obama said the EU had taken steps towards a solution, but more of details were needed about how the plan will be “fully and decisively implemented”. As the G20 leaders begin talks, the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has summoned his cabinet for an urgent meeting in Athens. He is facing a rebellion from ministers over plans to hold a referendum on the bailout – after France and Germany warned Greece it wouldn’t get more rescue funds until after the vote. Finance minister Evangelos Venizelos said Greece’s euro membership “cannot depend on a referendum” and that the next bailout funds should be released “without any distractions or delay”. Mr Papandreou is also facing calls to resign from within his own party. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is hosting the meeting in Cannes, said: “We said clearly to the Greek authorities that the EU, like the IMF, cannot envisage paying the sixth tranche until Greece has adopted the package and all uncertainty has been lifted. “We cannot commit the money of taxpayers . . . until the rules that were agreed on October 27 are respected. Without that, neither Europe nor the IMF can pay a single cent.” Stock markets across Europe saw early falls following the announcement, with Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 both down over 2% on opening, and London’s FTSE 100 losing 1.2%. European leaders agreed a deal last Thursday that would see banks accept a 50% writedown of Greece’s debt, higher than the 40% they had originally offered. It would also increase the scope of the 440bn euro (£386bn) bailout fund to around 1trn euro (£876bn). But Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s decision to put the deal to the people sent stock and bond markets across the world falling earlier this week. Speaking after emergency talks with Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, Mr Papandreou said he was confident that his people would accept the EU bailout plan in the vote set for December 4. “I believe the Greek people are wise and capable of making the right decision for the benefit of our country,” he said. “We are part of the  eurozone and we are proud to be part of the eurozone.” The Greek government now faces a key confidence vote expected in parliament on Friday, which may see Mr Papandreou struggle for survival. Major Asian economies have also warned Europe to tackle the crisis before it has a serious impact on economies elsewhere in the world. China’s deputy finance minister Zhu Guangyao said: “Like our European friends, we did not expect the Greek [call for a] referendum. It was an independent decision taken by Greece. I hope this period of uncertainty would be contained.” The White House said US President Barack Obama wanted “unanimity of purpose” to emerge from the G20 and White House spokesman Jay Carney said the situation would be a key subject (3 November 2011).

Since then, the possibility of a Greek referendum has been scrapped, and the G20 Summit has come to an end: ‘President Obama makes remarks at the G-20, saying he’s pleased Greece has embraced the Euro bailout’ (4 November 2011).

 

While Reuters reports that ‘White House officials bristled on Thursday [, 3 November 2011] at the suggestion U.S. power within the G20 had been diminished by budget woes back home, as Europe looked toward an economically self-confident China for help’, [1] the word on the street is quite different. From Cannes, the Guardian’s Patrick Wintour and Larry Elliott write that the “threat of a world recession drew near last night after the G20 summit in Cannes ended in ominous disarray. Leaders were unable to agree upon a boost to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help distressed countries, while debt-ridden Italy, now seen as the epicentre of the euro crisis, was forced to put its austerity programme under the fund’s control. UK hopes that the Germans would relent and allow the European Central Bank to become the lender of last resort for the euro were also dashed. In a day of  unremitting gloom, and yet more market turbulence, the Greek government also stood on the precipice of collapse, risking an uncontrolled default, as the government of George Papandreou faced a late-night confidence vote in parliament. Prime Minister Papandreou was forced to cancel plans for a referendum on the euro”.[2]  Still, apparently living in a dangerous state of delusion and wishful thinking, top White House aide Michael Froman declared: “Our ability to contribute, our ability to lead and our ability to influence the outcome of these sorts of issues is not tied necessarily to having the American taxpayer pay for every problem”.[3]  The news agency Reuters adds matter-of-factly that ‘European officials hope to coax China into using some of its massive foreign exchange reserves to play a role in a euro zone rescue fund, although Beijing has so far not publicly voiced its intentions’, adding that ‘[d]omestic U.S. politics currently rules out any grand financial gesture for Europe by President Barack Obama’.[4]  All the while, Greece is struggling under the twin burden of austerity measures and popular discontent. The international Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera reports that ‘In Greece, there is still deep uncertainty about the shape of the government as the government prepares for a late night vote of confidence. Joblessness is growing, and many Greeks say that they simply can’t afford life as they are used to living it. Al Jazeera‘s Jonah Hull reports from Athens’ (4 November 2011).

 

In spite of Michael Froman’s most hopeful diversionary words, in the U.S. capitol Tea Party-inspired obstructionists are preparing for another showdown: ‘Should Congress fail to come up with a budget plan favored by both parties by November 17, the country will be faced with another possible governmental shutdown — the third one in under a year. The White House says that the odds that country’s government will collapse are slim and that likely bipartisan politics will be swept aside this time so that a budget can be agreed upon, sparing the country from catastrophe. Should matters between parties cause for concerns over getting the budget passed in time, however, the United States stands to go broke — again — on November 18’, as reported by the ever-ready critic of American foreign policy RT.[5]  In fact, as further explained: ‘As per a temporary bill passed in haste last month, the US government is only appropriately funded until November 19. Congress has been unable to pass a long-term, year-long compromise in over 900 days’.[6]

The Tea Party has been dominating American public life for quite some time now. The movement purports to be a popular uprising of ordinary people fed up with traditional party politics, government subsidies and taxation. It all started way back in 2009 when Chicago stock trader Rick Santelli ranted on CNBC.

Explaining the workings behind this seemingly spontaneous movement Daniel Vogel writes in the Chicago Tribune: “As the documentary (Astro)Turf Wars has shown, tea party sympathizers are well-meaning people who are being organized and funded by the very same power elites, such as the Koch Brothers, whom they think they are opposing”.[7]

 

 


[1] Alister Bull and Laura MacInnis, “U.S. influence at G20 not diminished, White House says” Reuters (04 November 2011). http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/04/us-usa-g20-influence-newspro-idUSTRE7A32M220111104.

[2] Patrick Wintour and Larry Elliott, “G20 summit fails to allay world recession fears” The Guardian (04 November 2011). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/04/g20-summit-fails-eurozone-recession.

[3] Alister Bull and Laura MacInnis, “U.S. influence at G20 not diminished, White House says”.

[4] Alister Bull and Laura MacInnis, “U.S. influence at G20 not diminished, White House says”.

[5] “Dysfunctional Congress threatens another government shut-down” RT (04 November 2011). https://rt.com/usa/news/congress-government-shutdown-budget-579/.

[6] “Dysfunctional Congress threatens another government shut-down”.

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Perfect Storm: The England Riots Documentary

This half-hour documentary purports to give a look at the wider context surrounding the recent England Riots. It was produced by WideShut, an open source information sharing website that wants to present an alternative to the Murdoch-dominated media landscape in the UK (NewsCorp owns The Sun, The Times and Sunday Times, Sky News and a large percentage of BSkyB (Sky TV). Sky owns a large stake in ITV and provides the news for Channel 5).[1]

 

London’s Burning 2011: Social Media, Morality, and Nutter Arguments

Over the past days, London and other cities in England have been burning as a result of apparently random violence and looting. Social media and blackberries played a major part in organising the crowds partaking in these diversions. The 21st century has arrived and the revolution will be put on the internet. And now, across the pond the authorities are taking precautionary measures to deal with unruly youth, as reported by ABC News (12 August 2011).

 In the above clip, the Mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, put forward a moral argument, basically accusing parents of being unable to control their children or to instil values of decency and civility in their offspring. The Nutter argument was also made in the UK. Prime Minister David Cameron called the London and England ‘riots’ a “deep moral failure”, going on to say: “In too many cases, the parents of these children – if they are still around – don’t care where their children are or who they are with, let alone what they are doing. The potential consequences of neglect and immorality on this scale have been clear for too long, without enough action being taken”.[1]  Parents should control their children after all . . . children don’t know what they are doing most of the time, the Nutter argument goes. These parents and children belong to a certain culture, the Prime Minister suggests: a “culture that glorifies violence, shows disrespect to authority, and says everything about rights but nothing about responsibilities”.[2]  Then, Mister Cameron went on to make the all-important PR case, as the perception always outweighs the reality: “We need to show the world, which has looked on frankly appalled, that the perpetrators of the violence we have seen on our streets are not in any way representative of our country – nor of our young people. We need to show them that we will address our broken society,  we will restore a sense of stronger sense of morality and responsibility – in every town, in every street and in every estate”.[3]  Are these youngsters and their actions perhaps symptomatic a wider cultural phenomenon, one might wonder. Over the past weeks, months, and years the news bulletins were filled with items about bailouts, fat cats, bonuses, unpaid taxes, pyramid schemes, stock market speculation, and the Flash Crash. Indeed, the Flash Crash, which might have escaped your attention all together. $800 billion were lost and $600 recovered in the space of half an hour, with a net loss of $200 billion.

The international game known as stock market trading has the potential to affect anybody and everybody’s livelihood on the planet, yet . . . it is nothing but a gambling circuit. The rioters inhabit the same reality, yet lack access to money and are subject to police scrutiny, as was so forcefully pointed out by Darcus Howe.[4]  The BBC explains: ‘Operation Trident was set up in 1998 in response to a string of what are often called “black-on-black” shootings and murders in the Lambeth and Brent areas of London. The killings, mainly of young men, came amid fears of a wave of ‘yardie’-style violence, linked to a growing crack cocaine problem and a spiralling guns culture. Officers were finding the cases hard to investigate as fear of reprisals meant witnesses were afraid to come forward, and there was a general distrust of the police. As the violence continued, the operation was extended to cover the whole of the capital a year later, with a special focus on drug-related gun crime . . . Operation Trident now exists as a dedicated unit within the Metropolitan Police, which helps officers in local police stations investigate shootings and collate intelligence from across the capital on suspected gunmen, firearms suppliers and gun converters. This information is then used to arrest suspects, trying to stop shootings from happening and disrupting the flow of weapons’.[5]  In addition to black kids, white and other multi-coloured youths took part in the rampage, as they are presumably all subject to the same culture, a culture which unashamedly displays the benefits of greed and breeds consumerism into the hearts and minds of even the most disadvantaged members of the underclass. London harbours many hotbeds for anger, dissatisfaction, and sheer multi-layered frustration. These hotbeds are inhabited by the underclass . . . youths with no future to look forward to . . .  they are the future, no future . . .

 


[1] James Kirkup, “David Cameron and the morality of rioting” The Telegraph (11 August 2011). http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jameskirkup/100100639/david-cameron-and-the-morality-of-rioting/.

[2] James Kirkup, “David Cameron and the morality of rioting”.

[3] James Kirkup, “David Cameron and the morality of rioting”.

[4] “Panic in the Street of London, Panic in the Streets of Birmingham . . . Darcus Howe and Richard Seymour Talk” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (11 August 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/panic-in-the-street-of-london-panic-in-the-streets-of -birmingham-darcus-howe-and-richard-seymour-talk/.

[5] “Q&A: Operation Trident” BBC News (14 September 2006). http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5342246.stm.