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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Three men who were patrolling their neighbourhood in Birmingham, were run down and killed last night.. during the 4th straight night of riots in London and the larger cities across England.. The men, from the Asian Muslim community, were run over and killed as they protected property.. as the unrest spread to cities including Manchester, Salford, Liverpool, Nottingham and Birmingham..
Prime Minister David Cameron has bolstered the number of police to be on duty tonight.. and this time, he has water cannon at his disposal.. He also has the go-ahead to issue police with plastic bullets..
He promised a 'fightback' on those who have run amok.. looting, and destroying buildings throughout the country.. He told the nation this afternoon.. that over 750 arrests have been made in London alone.. with more than 167 of those already charged.. This has necessitated the Courts calling in more staff to deal with those facing Court appearances for their part in these riots..
And, police are still sifting through video evidence, identifying others not yet in custody.. but who soon will be.. Cameron said police had the legal backing to use any tactics necessary to bring the rioting across England under control, including using baton rounds..
Speaking after a meeting of the government's Cobra emergency committee, he said: "This continued violence is simply not acceptable, and it will be stopped.."We will not put up with this in our country. We will not allow a culture of fear to exist on our streets."
While London itself was relatively quiet, likely due to the presence of 16 thousand police on the streets.. It was felt in Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool.. and in those cities, more than 200 have been arrested..
Cameron continued to say our British society was 'sick'.. that the attitude of many reflects their inability to distinguish between 'rights' and 'privileges'.. and that 'phony Human Rights' issues will not be considered as a defence..
Parliament will re-sit tomorrow.. and it will be of exceeding interest to see what measures the government will enact to deal with the possibility of such civil insurrection continuing..
And to add more fuel to this fire.. London Mayor Boris Johnson.. himself a Tory.. is now at odds with Cameron on proposed cuts to London's policing budget.. The Prime Minister says he did not blame Boris for wanting more money but said there would be no reduction in "visible policing".. Just how that's defined, is as yet unclear..
Downing Street has said the violence would not change police funding plans.. but London Labour MPs are demanding a "moratorium" on police cuts in the City..
Speaking ahead of the Cobra meeting this morning, Boris said "robust policing" was needed and, with the Olympics being held in London next year, people had to be "absolutely confident in our policing.."
Boris went on to say "If you ask me if I think there is a case for cutting police budgets in light of these events then my answer to that would be 'no'.. I think that case was always pretty frail and it has been substantially weakened..This is not a time to think about making substantial cuts in police numbers."..

The Bank of England has cut its UK growth forecast for 2011 from 1.8% to about 1.5%.. warning that the "headwinds are growing stronger by the day"..
Bank governor Mervyn King said Europe's debt crisis and fears of contraction in the US overshadowed the world economy..
King told a press conference that the UK economy had weakened since May, adding that inflation was still on course to hit 5% this year..
And while this is hitting those on fixed incomes.. those dependant on dividend payments.. it must be said that the Bank of England's maintaining it's low 0.5% rate is keeping inflation at bay, at least for the time being..
A recent survey of the Consumer Index indicates that the normal British family, after taking care of bills the likes of mortgages.. electricity.. gas.. petrol.. groceries.. is left with something more than £50 a month..
European and US stock markets suffered more large falls.. led by steep declines in banking shares..
In nervous trading, the focus turned to France.. where the French government denied it would follow the US and lose its top-grade AAA credit rating..
Societe Generale bank, whose shares fell up to 20%, was also forced to deny it was under financial pressure..
France's Cac share index ended down 5.5%.. The UK's FTSE lost 3%.. and Wall Street's Dow Jones had fallen 3.2%..
The FTSE fell by 158 points to 5,007, taking £41bn off the value of the index. It has now lost almost 15% in the last nine trading sessions..
Italy's FTSE MIB was down 6.7%..
Shares in Societe Generale ended 14.7% lower..
UK banking shares were also hit, with Barclays down 8.7%, Royal Bank of Scotland 7.3%, and HSBC 5.3%..
"The banks have all got exposure of some degree or another to sovereign debts," said David Buik, of BGC Partners..
"And none of the banks are going to get away scot-free. There are going to be writedowns."..

The USA is bigger.. older.. more Hispanic and Asian.. and less wedded to marriage and traditional families than it was in 1990.. It also is less enamored of kids.. more embracing of several generations living under one roof.. more inclusive of same-sex couples.. more cognizant of multiracial identities.. more suburban, less rural and leaning more to the South and West..
Results of the 2010 Census have been pouring out all year.. an avalanche of statistics detailing the population characteristics of states.. counties and cities..
But the Census represents more than just a current snapshot..
The end of the first decade of the 21st century marks a turning point in the nation's social, cultural, geographic, racial and ethnic fabric..
It's a shift so profound that it reveals an America that seemed unlikely a mere 20 years ago.. one that will influence the nation for years to come in everything from who is elected to run the country.. states.. and cities.. to what type of houses will be built and where..
The metamorphosis over just two decades stuns even demographers and social observers..
"It was always predicted that we would be diverse, but it's happened faster than anyone predicted," says Cheryl Russell, former Editor in Chief of American Demographics magazine.. now Editorial Director of New Strategist Publications..
The black-white racial dynamics that have dominated much of the nation's history have been scrambled by the explosive growth of Hispanics.. In most southern states where the black-white legacy has deep roots.. Hispanics have accounted for most of the population gains during the past decade..
"An entire Venezuela's worth of Hispanics was added in just those two decades.." says Robert Lang, an urban sociologist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.. That's about 30 million, or half of the nation's growth since 1990..
"By 2050, Americans will look back at the controversies around immigration, controversies about diversity and wonder what the big deal was..".

The rally that lifted stocks on Wall Street and in Asia began to lose steam this afternoon in Europe, in the aftermath of a sobering message from the U.S. Federal Reserve..
The Euro Stoxx 50 index of Eurozone blue chips moved in and out of positive territory, and was up 0.3 percent in afternoon trading.. while the FTSE 100 index was up 0.7 percent.. BNP Paribas, the French bank, fell 3.4 percent, dragging on the European market..
French President Nicolas Sarkozy cut short his vacation and promised to pare down huge debts to try to allay rising concerns that France could be the next triple A-rated economy to suffer a ratings downgrade following the United States..
Some analysts have warned that France — the world's fifth-biggest economy and a driver of the eurozone.. can't afford to keep bailing out poorer European states.. especially at a time when its own growth rates are moderating..
Sarkozy.. who, along with other European leaders, has come under criticism for staying on holiday as the markets were gripped by fear.. cut short his vacation on the French Riviera with his pregnant wife to summon key government ministers for an emergency meeting on the financial crisis.. Sarkozy said he's asked Finance Minister Francois Baroin to prepare a list of measures to guarantee the government attains its deficit-reduction targets.. He'll take a decision on which measures to implement at an Aug. 24 meeting with Prime Minister Francois Fillon.. Baroin and Budget Minister Valerie Pecresse will be in attendance.. He also reiterated his call for a constitutional change requiring balanced budgets..
France has for years failed to deliver on its deficit reduction promises..
No new measures were announced, but Mr. Sarkozy insisted that “commitments to reducing the deficit are inviolable and will be maintained.”

Roger Martin.. the dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.. has a bone to pick with rating agency Standard & Poor’s.. and he took to the Internet last night to air out his frustration..
In an online column posted on Reuters’ website.. Martin unleashed his fury.. arguing that no one should take S&P seriously because it got so much wrong leading up to the financial crisis..
That line of thinking has been heard before, but Martin took it to another level.. arguing that S&P shouldn’t be taken seriously because the people who work for the rating agency are sub-standard analysts..
“If you are any good at all at rating the riskiness of debt instruments, you will not be working for a couple hundred thousand a year at S&P.. you will be working for yourself.. or for the bond trading desk of an investment bank or a bond hedge fund making tens of millions of dollars per year.. or a lot more if you are running the hedge fund..” he wrote in his post..
But this wasn’t just an enraged rant.. He covered his bases and took the time to negate some rebuttals before someone could use them against him..
“Some may argue that no.. these people are public servants..
Like teachers or judges, those who rate bonds business think it is a higher calling...” he wrote..
“That is a pretty difficult argument to make.. S&P is a subsidiary of publicly-traded corporation McGraw-Hill.. S&P is driven to help McGraw-Hill march its quarterly earnings ever forward lest bad things happen to both subsidiary and parent.. This is hardly the environment in which we are likely to find a huge agglomeration of public servants.”..
The whole thing is worth a read.. But in case you don’t get around to taking a look, it should be noted that Martin admits he agrees with S&P on the downgrade.. “I am, by the way, not saying that the circus in Washington didn’t deserve an immediate smack-down, before the real one it will be getting in 15 months time..”.

Trading in U.S. equity index futures suggested Wall Street stocks would open modestly lower, hardly surprising considering the 4.7 percent rise in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index yesterday, which came a day after the market bombed..
The Fed’s pledge to hold short-term interest rates near zero for at least two more years to support the faltering U.S. economy.. “has helped to stabilize sentiment in equities and other risky asset markets.. at least for now,” analysts at Standard Chartered wrote in a research commentary..
But.. they added.. “The heavy emphasis on downside risks to growth suggests the pendulum of investor sentiment can quickly rotate back to a more risk-averse stance in coming days.”..
It's a sure sign the market's volatility is not settling down.. Stress indicators suggested that the turmoil would continue..
European markets are down this afternoon right across the board.. with France warned it could lose it's Moody's rating, down to double-A.. the Cac is down more than 200 points..
One has to wonder when Paris will see a repeat of it's student riots.. this time with the contentious point being the economy..

China launched its first aircraft carrier for a maiden run today, a step likely to boost patriotic pride at home and jitters abroad about Beijing's naval ambitions..
The long-awaited debut of the vessel.. a refitted former Soviet craft.. marked a step forward in China's long-term plan to build a carrier force that can project power into the Asian region, where seas are spanned by busy shipping lanes and thorny territorial disputes..
"Its symbolic significance outweighs its practical significance," said Ni Lexiong, an expert on Chinese maritime policy at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law..
"We're already a maritime power, and so we need an appropriate force, whether that's aircraft carriers or battleships, just like the United States or the British empire did.."..

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