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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rioting in London!

Cameron Deploys 10,000 More Officers to Riots

LONDON — With 10,000 additional police officers deployed across London on Tuesday night, looting and arson dipped sharply from the anarchic scenes that shook Britain over the previous three days, even as violence ticked up again in several other major cities, including Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

Hopes that the worst unrest in Britain in a generation had crested and begun to fall continued to weigh uneasily against fears that more robust police action might fail to put more than a temporary curb on the disorder. Sudden flare-ups continued in parts of London, with minor attacks reaching even into the upscale Knightsbridge shopping district, a major tourist draw.

With a decision not to call in the army, a step the government considered and dismissed on Tuesday, the police force appeared to be stretched near its limit by what amounted to a risky shell game, with forces outside London sending their crack antiriot units into the capital as reinforcements. One redeployed unit traveled from Manchester only hours before scores of youths stormed into that city’s center, setting fire to cars and buildings and looting shops in what local officials described as the worst mayhem to hit the city in modern memory.

The situation posed a daunting challenge for Prime Minister David Cameron, who returned overnight on Monday from a vacation in Italy to take charge of what appeared to have been a faltering government reaction to the mayhem. He flew into a storm of criticism, from residents of the neighborhoods hit by the rioting and from others across a wide political spectrum who said that he should have acted sooner to crack down on the unrest.

Mr. Cameron had hesitated for two days to abandon his break at a villa in Tuscany as the looting and arson spread across London, and then to other cities, from its start in the Tottenham area in northeast London after Mark Duggan, 29, who was said by the police to have been a local gang member, was shot and killed by an officer last week.

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Rioting Widens in London on 3rd Night of Unrest

LONDON — The rioting and looting that convulsed poorer sections of London over the weekend spread Monday to at least eight new districts in the metropolitan area and broke out for the first time in Britain’s second-largest city, Birmingham, in what was developing into the worst outbreak of social unrest in Britain in 25 years.

Police officers in riot gear tried to block a road near a burning car in the northern district of Hackney, in London, where rioting continued for a third night.

By early Tuesday, unrest was also reported by the police in two other major cities, Liverpool and Bristol, and an enormous fire was consuming a large warehouse in the Enfield section of London.

Prime Minister David Cameron, apparently caught off guard while on vacation with his family in Tuscany, reversed an earlier decision not to cut short his holiday in the face of plunging world financial markets and boarded a plane for home to lead a cabinet-level meeting on Tuesday to deal with the turmoil.

For Mr. Cameron’s government — indeed for Britain — the rapidly worsening situation presented a profound challenge on several fronts.

For a society already under severe economic strain, the rioting raised new questions about the political sustainability of the Cameron government’s spending cuts, particularly the deep cutbacks in social programs. These have hit the country’s poor especially hard, including large numbers of the minority youths who have been at the forefront of the unrest.

Together with the inevitable pressures to restore some of the spending cuts, Mr. Cameron and his colleagues have to confront the dark shadow that the rioting has cast on plans for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. That $15 billion extravaganza will have its centerpiece in a sprawling vista of new stadiums and an athletes’ village that lie only miles from the neighborhoods where much of the violence in the last three days has taken place. With the Games set to begin in barely 12 months, Britain will have to satisfy Olympic officials that there is no major risk of the Games being disrupted, or ruined, by a replay of the rioting.

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I am a bit shocked that this is happening in England. I have been kid of worried about it happening here in the US. And with everything going on in the Middle East. I had no idea that things were this bad in England too...



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