Protests and arrests as Merkel arrives in Athens

What are your views?  Just or un-Just?

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA Merkel said Greece has covered “much of the ground” required for recovery, during her landmark visit to the financially stricken country. Continue reading


Occupy protesters accuse Boris Johnson of defending the rich

Demonstrators hit back at London mayor who described them as ‘crusties’ engaged in a ‘thoroughly maddening protest’

Occupy London protesters have accused Boris Johnson of defending the rich

Occupy London protesters have accused Boris Johnson of defending the rich. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Guardian

Occupy London protesters arrived outside City Hall to accuse the capital’s mayor, Boris Johnson, of defending the rich at the expense of ordinary Londoners “through thick and thin”.

The Tory mayor incensed Occupy demonstrators at St Paul’s Cathedral when he described them as “crusties” engaged in a “thoroughly maddening protest against capitalism” and repeated his call for them to be removed.

Organisers hit back, accusing Johnson of spending more time meeting City figures than ordinary Londoners. They pointed out that the mayor – who has called for the 50p top income tax rate to be abolished – has a combined annual income of more than £400,000 a year.

A small group of around 15 protesters left the camp outside St Paul’s to stage a peaceful “thank you party hosted by bankers to show their appreciation for all the support that mayor Boris Johnson has given them over the past year”.

Activists checked Johnson’s official diary, seizing on the fact that, between May 2008 and March 2011, he held 86 meetings with bankers and the financial services industry. In contrast, he held only 15 public meetings with Londoners and five press conferences, they said.

Occupy said the mock party was designed to show the way the Conservative mayor has stood by top earners and has warned politicians not to use rhetoric against bankers’ bonuses.

Protesters wore suits and bowler hats and held a banner saying: “Boris loves bankers.” The event was staged ahead of the London mayor’s monthly public questioning by the London assembly.

A protester who identified himself as Dennis said Johnson’s denouncement of protesters showed he had “completely failed to capture the mood of the country”, saying people from all walks of life felt angry enough to take part in the Occupy London protest.

The protester, a musician, said: “Boris Johnson has totally identified himself as the mayor of the 1%. He is in favour of abolishing the 50p rate of tax but he is going to raise fares that are going to disproportionately impact on poorer people in London.

“It is necessary for people to understand that Boris has spent more time meeting with bankers than ordinary Londoners, and that this is completely unacceptable in the middle of an economic crisis.”

Twelve days into the protest, the London mayor called for laws to prevent tent cities “erupting like boils” across London. On Monday, he used a speech to call on judges to have the “cojones” to rule that the protesters were “restricting the highway”.

Johnson told the Norwood Annual Dinner, at the Grosvenor House hotel, in Park Lane: “The world sees a city where you protesters have the right to make your point, whatever it is, until such time that parliament passes a law … or until a judge frankly has the cojones to decide that they are indeed restricting the highway.”

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Hundreds of UK colleges banned amidst visa reform

Hundreds of colleges have been banned from bringing foreign students into the UK under the government’s plans to clamp down on immigration and visa abuse.

Tough new rules and enforcement to stop abuse of the Tier 4 student visa system has led to over 450 education providers having their right to sponsor overseas students revoked.

The Tier 4 student visa system is the most common way for migrants from outside the EU to enter the country and has been subject to widespread abuse, according to Immigration Minister Damian Green.

The institutions that have now been banned may have brought more than 11,000 people into the UK each year, according to a press release from UK Border Agency.

“Too many institutions were offering international students an immigration service rather than an education and too many students have come to the UK with the aim of getting work and bringing over family members,” said Green. “Only first-class education providers should be given licences to sponsor international students.”

The press release stated, one college advertised classes even though the website said it was shut for maintenance, while another could not even produce a list of students enrolled or a timetable of classes. On inspection, others could not produce any records of student attendance, or evidence of checking student qualifications.

“Widespread abuse of the student visa system has gone on for too long and the changes we have made are beginning to bite,” said Green.

In addition to more rigorous inspections, colleges that want to keep bringing in international students must also meet new higher sponsorship standards to ensure they are fulfilling their immigration responsibilities. If they do not meet these standards, they will be removed from the sponsorship register.

This news comes shortly after the UK Border Agency announced more than 2,000 banks and financial institutions who can no longer provide evidence to verify a student has sufficient funds for their course. If a bank is on the list, the student citing that institution will not be granted a Tier 4 visa.

The changes to the student route is part of the government’s attempt to substantially reduce levels of immigration to the UK.

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This Roiting Mess

I’ve been asked to describe the UK now, as opposed to six months ago, when I was last home.
The country is a little fragile right now, there has been several incidents of murder recently and crime seems to be on a high.  The police and government are being very strict with these offenders though it’s about time we started to crack down of these people. I still believe the police should have real fire arms as I saw everyday in the states. (Another issue I’ll deal with later.)
Additionally, the London stock market fell below the crucial 5000 mark on the worse day of trading for three years. It’s strange though the housing market is predicated to boom in the next 4 years.
I can’t understand it.
Times couldn’t be more perplexing.  I predict more chaos in the next few months.
The gap is growing.  Is this where the US is headed?

UK Riots: Are sentences fair?

Written by Frank Manning

For British society to return to normal and remove the fear of gang violence from the public, these sentences had to happen.

The debate over the sentences handed down to the rioters who ran rampant through London has sparked a heated argument over whether they are deserved or too harsh.

However, it has not followed the usual split between left and right. Traditional elements of the Conservative party have lauded the sentences as a return to hard-line punishment of criminals, yet libertarians have urged caution against imposing authoritarian penalties simply to placate a baying media and the 81 percent of the public who believe the punishments are either “about right” or “too soft”.

Four years in jail for inflammatory comments on Facebook – which had no actual consequences other than to distract police – appears ludicrous at first when compared to the short sentences we usually read about in the tabloid press. They are even more shocking when considered in light of the debacle earlier this year when it was suggested rapists could be out of prison in less than two years.

The reasoning behind this approach to sentencing is about more than just public opinion though, despite the fact it played an obvious part.

David Cameron sensed the public mood well and commended the sentences as a strong message to would-be rioters, leaving Ed Miliband with little room to manoeuvre. Towing the tough sentencing line would please a public seeking retribution but would risk angering Guardian readers and cheerleaders such as Polly Toynbee. Meanwhile, denouncing them as unfair would undo the pressure Labour have managed to put the government under concerning the supposedly soft approach Ken Clarke has been taking to justice reform.

It is possible, though, to look beyond these opposing viewpoints and come to a different conclusion.

In terms of setting a precedent for future sentences, four years for the two Facebook troublemakers is clearly unsustainable. What they wrote was idiotic, ill-judged and ill-timed, but if incendiary comments on social networks lead to four years in prison, the cost of the Ministry of Justice may dwarf even the monolithic NHS.

However, these sentences are not for the criminals themselves. The latter are the unfortunate recipients of a stark warning to society in general that reckless criminal behaviour will not be tolerated. Whatever caused these riots, they were able to grow exponentially due to a sense that law and order had broken down and criminality would go unpunished.

The usual suspects of Polly Toynbee, Laurie Penny, Harriet Harman and Jody McIntyre have effectively given carte blanche to any disaffected youth who feels the world owes them a living, excusing any and all behaviour even when it destroys communities.

It’s noticeable that discourse with the rioters themselves has been limited to brief awkward interviews for the evening news. Instead, political commentators have used them to further their own world views without asking the permission of those affected.

Considering the excuses the liberal-Left have been so keen to espouse, tough sentences are the last bastion available to instil personal responsibility to a minority of young people who have been taught far too much about their rights and not enough about their responsibilities.

Without proof that the justice system can and will punish criminals on the news and on the front page of every newspaper, we could witness the exact same events the next time the police need to use force or carry out a stop & search.

From a libertarian point of view it is unfortunate that a small group of muppets have to feel more than the normal force of the law. But for British society to return to normal and remove the fear of gang violence from the public, these sentences had to happen.

Frank Manning is a Researcher for the civil liberties pressure group, ‘Big Brother Watch’ and writes in a personal capacity.

Liberal Dogma has Spawned a Generation of Amoral, Uneducated, Welfare Dependent, Brutalised Youngsters

By Max Hastings

A few weeks after the U.S. city of Detroit was ravaged by 1967 race riots in which 43 people died, I was shown around the wrecked areas by a black  reporter named Joe Strickland.

He said: ‘Don’t you believe all that stuff people here are giving media folk about how sorry they are about what happened. When they talk to each other, they say: “It was a great fire, man!” ’

I am sure that is what many of the young rioters, black and white, who have burned and looted in England through the past few shocking nights think today.

Manchester: Hooded looters laden with clothes run from a Manchester shopping centreRich pickings: Hooded looters laden with clothes run from a Manchester shopping centre

It was fun. It made life interesting. It got people to notice them. As a girl looter told a BBC reporter, it showed ‘the rich’ and the police that ‘we can do what we like’.

If you live a normal life of absolute futility, which we can assume most of this week’s rioters do, excitement of any kind is welcome. The people who wrecked swathes of property, burned vehicles and terrorised communities have no moral compass to make them susceptible to guilt or shame.

Most have no jobs to go to or exams they might pass. They know no family role models, for most live in homes in which the father is unemployed, or from which he has decamped.

They are illiterate and innumerate, beyond maybe some dexterity with computer games and BlackBerries.

They are essentially wild beasts. I use that phrase advisedly, because it seems appropriate to young people bereft of the discipline that might make them employable; of the conscience that distinguishes between right and wrong.

They respond only to instinctive animal impulses — to eat and drink, have sex, seize or destroy the accessible property of others.

Their behaviour on the streets resembled that of the polar bear which attacked a Norwegian tourist camp last week. They were doing what came naturally and, unlike the bear, no one even shot them for it.

A former London police chief spoke a few years ago about the ‘feral children’ on his patch — another way of describing the same reality.

The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. They do not have what most of us would call ‘lives’: they simply exist.

Nobody has ever dared suggest to them that they need feel any allegiance to anything, least of all Britain or their community. They do not watch royal weddings or notice Test matches or take pride in being Londoners or Scousers or Brummies.

Not only do they know nothing of Britain’s past, they care nothing for its present.

They have their being only in video games and street-fights, casual drug use and crime, sometimes petty, sometimes serious.

The notions of doing a nine-to-five job, marrying and sticking with a wife and kids, taking up DIY or learning to read properly, are beyond their imaginations.

Undercover police officers arrest looters in the Swarovski Crystal shop in Manchester. One rioter lies injured and blood can be seen on the wallUndercover police officers arrest looters in the Swarovski Crystal shop in Manchester. One rioter lies injured and blood can be seen on the wall

Last week, I met a charity worker who is trying to help a teenage girl in East London to get a life for herself. There is a difficulty, however: ‘Her mother wants her to go on the game.’ My friend explained: ‘It’s the money, you know.’

An underclass has existed throughout history, which once endured appalling privation. Its spasmodic outbreaks of violence, especially in the early 19th century, frightened the ruling classes.

Its frustrations and passions were kept at bay by force and draconian legal sanctions, foremost among them capital punishment and transportation to the colonies.

Today, those at the bottom of society behave no better than their forebears, but the welfare state has relieved them from hunger and real want.

When social surveys speak of ‘deprivation’ and ‘poverty’, this is entirely relative. Meanwhile, sanctions for wrongdoing have largely vanished.

When Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith recently urged employers to take on more British workers and fewer migrants, he was greeted with a hoarse laugh.

Birmingham: People wearing masks swig alcohol next to a burning car in Birmingham city centre last nightMindless: People wearing masks swig alcohol next to a burning car in Birmingham city centre last night

Every firm in the land knows that an East European — for instance — will, first, bother to turn up; second, work harder; and third, be better-educated than his or her British counterpart.Who do we blame for this state of affairs?

Ken Livingstone, contemptible as ever, declares the riots to be a result of the Government’s spending cuts. This recalls the remarks of the then leader of Lambeth Council, ‘Red Ted’ Knight, who said after the 1981 Brixton riots that the police in his borough ‘amounted to an army of occupation’.

But it will not do for a moment to claim the rioters’ behaviour reflects deprived circumstances or police persecution.

Of course it is true that few have jobs, learn anything useful at school, live in decent homes, eat meals at regular hours or feel loyalty to anything beyond their local gang.

This is not, however, because they are victims of mistreatment or neglect.

It is because it is fantastically hard to help such people, young or old, without imposing a measure of compulsion  which modern society finds  unacceptable. These kids are what they are because nobody makes them be anything  different or better.

Rampage: We are told that youths roaming the streets are doing so because they are angry at unemployment, but a quick look at an apprenticeship website yields 2,228 vacancies in LondonRampage: We are told that youths roaming the streets are doing so because they are angry at unemployment, but a quick look at an apprenticeship website yields 2,228 vacancies in London

A key factor in delinquency is lack of effective sanctions to deter it. From an early stage, feral children discover that they can bully fellow pupils at school, shout abuse at people in the streets, urinate outside pubs, hurl litter from car windows, play car radios at deafening volumes, and, indeed, commit casual assaults with only a negligible prospect of facing rebuke, far less retribution.

John Stuart Mill wrote in his great 1859 essay On Liberty: ‘The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.’

Yet every day up and down the land, this vital principle of civilised societies is breached with impunity.

Anyone who reproaches a child, far less an adult, for discarding rubbish, making a racket, committing vandalism or driving unsociably will receive in return a torrent of obscenities, if not violence.

So who is to blame? The breakdown of families, the pernicious promotion of single motherhood as a desirable state, the decline of domestic life so that even shared meals are a rarity, have all contributed importantly to the condition of the young underclass.

The social engineering industry unites to claim that the conventional template of family life is no longer valid.

Protection: Asian shopkeepers stand outside their store in Hackney that was battered by the looters. This time, though, they're ready to take them onProtection: Asian shopkeepers stand outside their store in Hackney that was battered by the looters. This time, though, they’re ready to take them on

And what of the schools? I  do not think they can be blamed for the creation of a grotesquely self-indulgent, non-judgmental culture.

This has ultimately been sanctioned by Parliament, which refuses to accept, for instance, that children are more likely to prosper with two parents than with one, and that the dependency culture is a tragedy for those who receive something for nothing.

The judiciary colludes with social services and infinitely ingenious lawyers to assert the primacy of the rights of the criminal and aggressor over those of law-abiding citizens, especially if a young offender is involved.

The police, in recent years, have developed a reputation for ignoring yobbery and bullying, or even for taking the yobs’ side against complainants.

‘The problem,’ said Bill Pitt, the former head of Manchester’s Nuisance Strategy Unit, ‘is that the law appears to be there to protect the rights of the perpetrator, and does not support the victim.’

Police regularly arrest householders who are deemed to have taken ‘disproportionate’ action to protect themselves and their property from burglars or intruders. The message goes out that criminals have little to fear from ‘the feds’.

Do rioters, pictured looting a shop in Hackney, have lower levels of a brain chemical that helps keep behaviour under control? Scientists think soDo rioters, pictured looting a shop in Hackney, have lower levels of a brain chemical that helps keep behaviour under control? Scientists think so

Figures published earlier this month show that a majority of ‘lesser’ crimes — which include burglary and car theft, and which cause acute distress to their victims — are never investigated, because forces think it so unlikely they will catch the perpetrators.

How do you inculcate values in a child whose only role model is footballer Wayne Rooney — a man who is bereft of the most meagre human graces?

How do you persuade children to renounce bad language when they hear little else from stars on the BBC?

A teacher, Francis Gilbert, wrote five years ago in his book Yob Nation: ‘The public feels it no longer has the right to interfere.’

Discussing the difficulties of imposing sanctions for misbehaviour or idleness at school, he described the case of a girl pupil he scolded for missing all her homework deadlines.

The youngster’s mother, a social worker, telephoned him and said: ‘Threatening to throw my daughter off the A-level course because she hasn’t done some work is tantamount to psychological abuse, and there is legislation which prevents these sorts of threats.

‘I believe you are trying to harm my child’s mental well-being, and may well take steps . . . if you are not careful.’

That story rings horribly true. It reflects a society in which teachers have been deprived of their traditional right to arbitrate pupils’ behaviour. Denied power, most find it hard to sustain respect, never mind control.

Mob: A crowd of people rush into a fashion store in Peckham Mob: A crowd of people rush into a fashion store in Peckham

I never enjoyed school, but, like most children until very recent times, did the work because I knew I would be punished if I did not. It would never have occurred to my parents not to uphold my  teachers’ authority. This might have been unfair to some pupils, but it was the way schools functioned for centuries, until the advent of crazy ‘pupil rights’.

I recently received a letter from a teacher who worked in a county’s pupil referral unit, describing appalling difficulties in enforcing discipline. Her only weapon, she said, was the right to mark a disciplinary cross against a child’s name for misbehaviour.

Having repeatedly and vainly asked a 15-year-old to stop using obscene language, she said: ‘Fred, if you use language like that again, I’ll give you a cross.’

He replied: ‘Give me an effing cross, then!’ Eventually, she said: ‘Fred, you have three crosses now. You must miss your next break.’

He answered: ‘I’m not missing my break, I’m going for an effing fag!’ When she appealed to her manager, he said: ‘Well, the boy’s got a lot going on at home at  the moment. Don’t be too hard  on him.’

This is a story repeated daily in schools up and down the land.

Making a run for it: These four looters dash from the Blue Inc store in Peckham with looted goods Making a run for it: These four looters dash from the Blue Inc store in Peckham with plundered goods

A century ago, no child would have dared to use obscene language in class. Today, some use little else. It symbolises their contempt for manners and decency, and is often a foretaste of delinquency.

If a child lacks sufficient respect to address authority figures politely, and faces no penalty for failing to do so, then other forms of abuse — of property and person — come naturally.

So there we have it: a large, amoral, brutalised sub-culture of young British people who lack education because they have no will to learn, and skills which might make them employable. They are too idle to accept work waitressing or doing domestic labour, which is why almost all such jobs are filled by immigrants.

They have no code of values to dissuade them from behaving anti-socially or, indeed, criminally, and small chance of being punished if they do so.

They have no sense of responsibility for themselves, far less towards others, and look to no future beyond the next meal, sexual encounter or TV football game.

Rioters in Hackney stand in front of a makeshift barricade Behind bins: Rioters in Hackney stand in front of a makeshift barricade

They are an absolute deadweight upon society, because they contribute nothing yet cost the taxpayer billions. Liberal opinion holds they are victims, because society has failed to provide them with opportunities to develop their potential.

Most of us would say this is nonsense. Rather, they are victims of a perverted social ethos, which elevates personal freedom to an absolute, and denies the underclass the discipline — tough love — which alone might enable some of its members to escape from the swamp of dependency in which they live.

Only education — together with politicians, judges, policemen and teachers with the courage to force feral humans to obey rules the rest of us have accepted all our lives — can provide a way forward and a way out for these people.

They are products of a culture which gives them so much unconditionally that they are let off learning how to become human beings. My dogs are better behaved and subscribe to a higher code of values than the young rioters of Tottenham, Hackney, Clapham and Birmingham.

Unless or until those who run Britain introduce incentives for decency and impose penalties for bestiality which are today entirely lacking, there will never be a shortage of young rioters and looters such as those of the past four nights, for whom their monstrous excesses were ‘a great fire, man’.

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