London's talking trash cans
September 26th, 2011
12:09 PM ET

London's talking trash cans

Editor's Note: The following text is from GlobalPost, which provides excellent coverage of world news – importantmoving and just odd.

It has been dubbed the war on waste – London'stalking trash cans designed to discourage street litter. They sing opera or Abba, say hello, and sometimes even burp. Twenty-five of the specially designed trash cans will be dotted around central London and five in Liverpool from October, Sky News reports. Keep Britain Tidy is running the campaign along with arts organization Sing London, it reports.

Sing London's director, Colette Hiller, told Sky News: 'Its ambition is to actually make people care about the place where they live and we want to do that by using fun as a way to bring the best out in people.' Interactive bins have already had success in parts of Europe. In Sweden a talking bin collected three times more rubbish than a normal one nearby. FULL POST

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Topics: Odd • United Kingdom
September 6th, 2011
03:51 PM ET

Nations acting alone cannot fix the economy

Editor's Note: Gordon Brown is a former prime minister of the United Kingdom. For more, visit Project Syndicate or follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

By Gordon BrownProject Syndicate<

LONDON – Politics trumped sensible economics in the United States this summer, when Congress and President Barack Obama could not agree on taxes, entitlements, deficits or an investment stimulus. Europe’s leaders were also paralyzed – ruling out defaults and devaluations, as well as deficits and stimulus. And, having run negative real interest rates, printed money, plowed in liquidity and subsidized commercial banks, central bankers everywhere – most recently U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke – appear to have concluded that they, too, have reached the limit of what they can do.

As a result, few people today doubt that the world is drifting, rudderless and leaderless, towards a second downturn. The pre-summer debate about whether we faced a “new normal” of slower growth has been resolved: Nothing now looks normal. Muddling through has failed. Unable to conclude a global trade deal, climate-change agreement, growth pact or changes in the financial regime, the world is likely to descend into a new protectionism of competitive devaluation, currency wars, trade restrictions, and capital controls.

But this is not a time for defeatism. Countries claiming to have reached the limit of what they can do really mean that they have reached the limit of what they can do on their own. The way forward to sustained growth and employment is not through a flurry of one-off national initiatives, but rather through global policy coordination. FULL POST

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Topics: Economy • Global • United Kingdom
September 4th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

Photographing Tony Blair up close

Tony Blair. (Courtesy: Platon)

Most people with one word names are rock stars – Bono, Madonna, Cher.

Meet Platon. He's not a rock star in the traditional sense, but he is a star photographer. His specialty is capturing the essence of world leaders in a single frame (check out his book called Power).

At the UN General Assembly in 2009, Platon photographed former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Here's what Platon had to say about that experience. FULL POST

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Topics: Photos • Politics • United Kingdom
August 19th, 2011
05:07 AM ET

David Cameron's 'Big (Broken) Society'

Editor's Note: Jonathan Hopkin is Reader in Comparative Politics at the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

By Jonathan Hopkin, Foreign Affairs

The riots that caused five deaths and millions of dollars in damage in London and several other English cities earlier this month will prove a test for British Prime Minister David Cameron and his one-and-a-half-year-old Conservative-Liberal Democratic administration.

At the start of the summer, Cameron's economic policy was already on shaky ground. In mid-2010, his coalition government had enacted austerity measures aimed at eliminating Britain's budget deficit - currently more than 150 billion pounds (roughly $248 billion) - within five years.

It introduced a plan to cut public spending by 81 billion pounds ($134 billion) over four years, leading to sharp reductions in welfare benefits and social services in Britain's poorest neighborhoods. The cuts affected social housing benefits, particularly in high-cost London, and policing, with an estimated reduction of 16,000 officers across the country. It is no surprise that most of August's riots took place in areas with high poverty, unemployment and dependency on welfare, nor that the police struggled to respond to the violence. FULL POST

Does America need a prime minister?
A statue of British prime minister Winston Churchill in front of the House of Commons and Big Ben in Parliament Square, London.
August 17th, 2011
12:27 PM ET

Does America need a prime minister?

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

After the S&P downgrade of the United States, no country with a presidential system has a triple-A rating from all three major ratings agencies.  Only countries with parliamentary systems have that honor (with the possible exception of France, which has a parliament and prime minister as well as an empowered president).

Juan Linz, professor of social science at Yale, argued that parliamentary systems are superior to presidential systems for reasons of stability. In a parliamentary system, he contended, the legislature and the executive are fused so there is no contest for national legitimacy. FULL POST

UK PM David Cameron's failed politics of austerity
Firefighters battled a large fire that broke out in shops and residential properties due to rioters in Croydon on August 9, 2011 in London, England.
August 11th, 2011
02:15 PM ET

UK PM David Cameron's failed politics of austerity

Editor's Note: Matthias Matthijs is Assistant Professor at the School of International Service of American University and a Lecturer at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is the author of Ideas and Economic Crises in Britain From Attlee to Blair.

By Matthias Matthijs,

London is burning. And over four consecutive nights, the conflagration has engulfed multiple cities across the United Kingdom, including Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Nottingham, and Leeds. According to some early estimates, the total cost of the vandalism and extra police could run into the hundreds of millions of pounds.

In response, British Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled parliament from summer recess for an emergency session, “to stand together” against the looters. He condemned what he dubbed the “sickening scenes of people looting, vandalizing, thieving, and robbing.”

The unrest traces its immediate roots to last Saturday in Tottenham, a London suburb where a protest to commemorate the death of a man who was shot by police trying to arrest him turned violent. What followed was a viral response across the country that spurred many young people to violence, looting, and general disorder.

The riots are set against the backdrop of Britain’s ongoing fiscal and sovereign debt crisis and the coalition government’s politics of austerity. They illustrate the critical connection between class politics and fiscal retrenchment. In some ways, they resemble the British riots of 30 years ago. But the policy solutions of the past - a strong response by the state together with the fruits of neoliberal deregulation - may no longer be available today.


August 10th, 2011
02:22 PM ET

London riots inspire army of street cleaners

Perhaps not all news out of London is bad news.  In the aftermath of the city’s most devastating riots in decades, London’s more civic-minded citizens took to the streets.  Armed with brooms, the mob gathered to clean up the mess left by rioters.  Take a look at the video above.

August 9th, 2011
08:40 PM ET

What the London riots spell for the British Prime Minister

By Nick Assinder, TIME

After three nights of violence, arson and looting that have left parts of London looking like a war zone, Prime Minister David Cameron has one pressing question to answer from citizens looking to him for reassurance and action: Who controls Britain's streets?

Throughout Monday night and the early hours of Tuesday morning, the answer to that question appeared to be the mob. It certainly was not the police, politicians or local community leaders, all of whom were overwhelmed by the unprecedented scale of the violence and the speed with which it escalated and spread, first from one London borough to another and then, perhaps inevitably, to other cities, including Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol.

If Cameron cannot offer a different answer, one reassuring people that government ministers and the police have control, then the consequences for his leadership could be far-reaching and ultimately even lethal. Margaret Thatcher's long reign as Prime Minister came to an end partly as a result of less devastating riots in response to her attempt to radically reform local taxation in March 1990. As Diane Abbott, Member of Parliament for Hackney, one of the worst-hit boroughs in North London, tells TIME, "One of the basic functions of a nation-state is to maintain public order. If Cameron cannot regain control over the next 24 hours, then he will be in serious political trouble."

Read the full article here.

London's "explosion of futureless youth"
Firefighters battle a large fire that broke out in shops and residential properties in Croydon on August 9, 2011 in London, England.
August 9th, 2011
05:11 PM ET

London's "explosion of futureless youth"

From Doug Sanders in The Globe and Mail:

One European Union study this year found that 17 per cent of Britain’s youth are classified as “NEETs” – for Not in Employment, Education or Training, in other words high-school dropouts with no prospects of employment – the fourth-highest percentage in the European Union. There are 600,000 people under 25 in Britain who have never had a day of work.

Why these disenfranchised youth so explosively made their presence known in such a devastatingly violent way, and how this will all end, is not yet understood. But it puts a dark punctuation mark on what had, until this weekend, been London’s brightest modern era.

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Topics: United Kingdom
London riots: New business for Amazon?
Hooded youths walk past a looted Debenhams store in Clapham Junction on August 8, 2011 in London, England.
August 9th, 2011
04:49 PM ET

London riots: New business for Amazon?

By Thomas MuchaGlobalPost

Over the past 24 hours sales of aluminum bats are up more than 5,000 percent on, the British division of the online retail giant.

But that's not all.

Wooden bats are popular, too, right now. Sales of these bashing devices are up almost 4,000 percent since yesterday.

The biggest mover on's "Sports and Leisure" page?

Military Police Telescopic Tonfas (read: side-handled batons).

Here's the full list. FULL POST

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Topics: Odd • United Kingdom
Q&A: What sparked the London riots?
A damaged shop front in Brixton, south London -- there was rioting and looting in several areas of the capital over the weekend.
August 8th, 2011
02:30 PM ET

Q&A: What sparked the London riots?

By Thair Shaikh, CNN

There is much speculation surrounding the circumstances of the death of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in north London on Thursday. His shooting at the hands of police while he was riding in a cab sparked a weekend of rioting and looting across the capital that continued into Monday.

Officers from Operation Trident - the Metropolitan Police unit that deals with gun crime in London's black communities - stopped the cab during an attempted arrest and soon afterwards shots were fired, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said. Duggan, a father of four, was fatally wounded.

Since Saturday evening 215 people have been arrested and 27 people charged according to the British Home Secretary Theresa May, who returned home early from holiday Monday. Over 35 officers have been injured.


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Topics: United Kingdom
July 18th, 2011
10:25 AM ET Roundup: Phone-hacking scandal threatens British Prime Minister

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sir Paul Stephenson, commissioner of the UK's Metropolitan Police, commonly known as Scotland Yard, resigned (DailyTelegraph), following revelations that he had employed former News of the World editor Neil Wallis as a personal advisor.

Wallis was arrested last week on suspicion of phone-hacking while at the newspaper, though Stephenson claimed that Wallis was not involved in the scandal while working for him in 2009.
 Stephenson said he had not told Prime Minister David Cameron about Wallis's employment so as not to "compromise" Cameron (FT), whose former communications chief, Andy Coulson, was also arrested for phone-hacking activities at News of the World. FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Roundup • United Kingdom
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