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August 10, 2011

Riots in England continue for a fourth night

Riots in England continue for a fourth night

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

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A burnt out car in Liverpool, following a further night of rioting.
Image: Andy Miah.

Rioting continued to spread throughout England last night, with reports of violence in Manchester. Birmingham, Liverpool and Nottingham also suffered a second night of disorder, with three confirmed fatalities in Birmingham. In the capital, the extra ten thousand police brought into the city on Tuesday kept the city relatively under control, with no major violence reported.

A Miss Selfridge shop in Manchester was set ablaze as gangs of rioters looted from and trashed shops in the city center. In Nottingham, police arrested over 90 people during incidents that included attacks on three police stations with petrol bombs.

In Birmingham, arrests were made as gangs attempted to break into shopping centers. In the early hours it was reported that shots had been fired upon police, and that three British Asian men had been killed in a hit-and-run attack whilst protecting their business from looting.

Prime Minister David Cameron has authorised the use of water cannons to control the riots, at 24 hours notice, and has reiterated the fact that police have legal authority to employ baton-rounds if required. However, Sir Hugh Orde, the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, has ruled out the deployment of water cannons for the foreseeable future, as “these are fast-moving crowds, where water cannon would not be appropriate.”

Meanwhile, a community-organized cleanup operation has been mobilised through social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.



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August 9, 2011

Rioting develops throughout England

Rioting develops throughout England

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A fireman puts out a fire in Tottenham caused by rioters.
Image: Christophe Maximin.

Rioting, theft, vandalism and other acts of violence are currently occurring in various cities throughout England. There is a substantial rioting problem, primarily in the capital of London, which has spread to the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Nottingham.

David Cameron, the current UK Prime Minister, condemned the violent acts, referring to them as “sickening”, proclaiming that those involving themselves the incident “will feel the full force of the law”. At least 563 individuals have been arrested in relation to these incidents. He also reported that Parliament is to be recalled this Thursday. The number of police officers in London tonight is to be increased from six thousand to sixteen thousand, the Prime Minister said, with any pre-arranged leave being abandoned.

The riots were sparked by the fatal shooting by police of 29-year-old Mark Duggan on Thursday in Tottenham, during the planned arrest of Duggan as part of anti-gun unit Operation Trident. Reports from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) claimed that Duggan had been shot in retaliation, however the IPCC later admitted there is no evidence that Duggan shot at the police. On Sunday, a peaceful protest in Tottenham held by Duggan’s family and friends sparked a series of disturbances in the area, which quickly became a violent riot, with youths from the area looting and clashing with Police.

For three consecutive days, London has experienced what the Metropolitan Police have referred to as “copycat criminal activity”. Hundreds of arrests have now occurred, with 105 individuals having been charged for a variety of crimes. The Metropolitan Police are now contemplating the concept of using plastic bullets as a disciplinary method within the riots. As of yet, English police have never used such a weapon in this context.



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December 5, 2010

UK Parliament to vote on tuition fee rise on Thursday

UK Parliament to vote on tuition fee rise on Thursday

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Students protesting outside the UK parliament in November.
Image: BillyH.

The controversial plan to raise university tuition fees in England and Wales will be voted on in the House of Commons on Thursday, December 9. The policy has been the cause of protests across the United Kingdom by students, some of which have turned violent. It has also been a source of considerable criticism and political difficulties for the Liberal Democrats and has raised questions as to the long-term viability of the Coalition government.

The new policy on tuition fees will allow universities to double the current tuition fees from £3,290 per year to around £6,000 per year, as well as allowing some universities to get special approval from the Office For Fair Access (OFFA) to raise their fees to £9,000 per year. If passed, the new fee structure will apply starting in the academic year of 2012/2013. The vote on Thursday will only be on the fee rise, with other matters being voted on in the new year following publication of a new higher education white paper.

Vince Cable and Nick Clegg will likely vote for the changes, but how many Lib Dems will join them?
Image: Nick Clegg.

In addition to increasing fees, the policy will increase the payment threshold at which payment is made. It is currently set at £15,000 and will rise to £21,000, but the interest rate will also rise. It is currently 1.5% but will now vary from between 0% and 3% plus inflation (using the Retail Price Index).

The fee increase follows the publication of an independent review by Lord Browne, former chief executive of BP, a process started by Peter Mandelson, the former Business Secretary. Before the election, two main options were mooted for funding reform in higher education: either an increase in tuition fees or a graduate tax. The Browne Review endorsed the former and the findings of the Review form the basis of the government’s policy. The graduate tax was supported by the Liberal Democrats before the election, and in the Labour leadership elections it was supported by Ed Balls and the winner of the leadership election, Ed Milliband.

Conservative members of the Coalition intend to vote for the reform, and the Labour opposition have been vociferous critics of the rise in fees, despite the previous government’s introduction of top-up fees. The Liberal Democratic members of the Coalition have been left in a politically difficult position regarding the fee hike and have been target of much criticism from protesters. Liberal Democrats have opposed the rise in tuition fees: their party manifesto included a commitment to ending tuition fees within six years, and many signed a pledge organised by the National Union of Students to not vote for any increase in tuition fees.

The Coalition agreement allows Liberal Democrats to opt to abstain on votes for a number of policies including tuition fees. Many Liberal Democrats are expected to abstain, and a few MPs have stated that they will vote against it including former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell, and the recently elected party president Tim Farron, as well as a number of Liberal Democrat back-benchers. Liberal Democrat party leaders have said that they will act collectively, but the BBC have said senior Liberal Democrats have admitted in private that government whips will not be able to force all Liberal Democrats to vote for the policy.

On Tuesday, the Liberal Democrats parliamentary party will meet in the Commons to decide on their collective position. If all ministers decide to vote for the policy, it will probably pass, but if only cabinet ministers (and maybe parliamentary private secretaries) vote for the policy, there is considerable risk of it not passing. If the Coalition does not manage to get the policy through Parliament, it will fuel doubts about the continued effectiveness and viability of the government.

How deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and business secretary Vince Cable vote has been of considerable controversy. Although under the Coalition agreement, they are allowed to abstain, suggestions of doing so have prompted criticism. It was suggested last week that Cable may abstain even though as business secretary he is directly responsible for higher education policy, and has been heavily involved in designing the proposals. Cable has said that Liberal Democrat support of the tuition fee changes has allowed them to push it in a more “progressive” direction.

Cable has now decided that he will vote for the policy, and argues that the policy has “a lot of protection for students from low income backgrounds and graduates who have a low income or take time out for family”. He also believes “there’s common consensus that the system we’ve devised is a progressive one”.

“Dr Cable has performed so many U-turns over the issue of university funding that he is spinning on his heels,” said National Union of Students president Aaron Porter. “That may stand him in good stead with the Strictly Come Dancing judges but the electorate will see it differently.”

Former deputy PM John Prescott has joked about Vince Cable’s u-turns on Twitter.
Image: Steve Punter.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott joked on Twitter that “On tuition fees we’ve noticed Vince Cable’s remarkable transformation in the last few weeks from stalling to Mr In Between”—a reference to a previous attack Prescott made on Gordon Brown as having transformed from “Stalin to Mr Bean“.

On Question Time this week, Liberal Democrat treasury secretary Danny Alexander also confirmed he is prepared to vote for the policy but delegated the question to the meeting of Liberal Democrats on Tuesday.

The politics of the tuition fee debate may also affect the by-election taking place in Oldham East and Saddleworth following the removal of Phil Woolas, where Liberal Democrat and Conservative candidates will both be standing for the first by-election following the formation of the Coalition government.

Opposition to the policy has become the focus for a large number of protests across the country by both current university students, many school pupils and political allies of the student movement.

On the Nov. 10 demonstration, protestors occupied Millbank tower.
Image: Charlie Owen.

On November 10, between 30,000 and 52,000 protesters from across Britain marched through central London in a demonstration organised by the National Union of Students and the University and College Union, which represents teachers and lecturers in further and higher education. At the November 10 protest, a number of people occupied Millbank Tower, an office block which houses the Conservative Party. Fifty people were arrested and fourteen were injured. NUS president Aaron Porter condemned the attack and said it was caused by “those who are here to cause trouble”, and that the actions of a “minority of idiots” shouldn’t “undermine 50,000 who came to make a peaceful protest”.

Following the November 10 march, other protests have taken place across the country including an occupation at the University of Manchester, a sit-in at the John Owens Building in Manchester, and a demonstration at the University of Cambridge. A protest was also run outside the offices of The Guardian where Nick Clegg—who was giving a lecture inside the building—was executed in effigy while students protested “Nick Clegg, shame on you, shame on you for turning blue” (blue is the colour of the Conservative Party).

A graffitied police van in Trafalgar Square at the November 24 demonstration.
Image: yllA.

On November 24, a large number of protests took place across the country including a mass walk-out from universities and schools organised on Facebook, numerous university occupations, and demonstrations in Manchester, Cambridge, Birmingham, Leeds, Brighton and Cardiff, and a well-publicised occupation of University College London.

In London, a protest was planned to march down Whitehall to Parliament, but police held protesters in Trafalgar Square until they eventually broke free and ran around in a game of “cat and mouse” along the side streets around Charing Cross Road, Covent Garden and Picadilly Circus.

Simon Hardy from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts described the police response including the controversial ‘kettling’ of protesters as “absolutely outrageous”. Green MP Caroline Lucas raised the police response including the use of kettling in the House of Commons and stated that it was “neither proportionate, nor, indeed, effective”.

On November 30, protests continued in London culminating in 146 arrests of protesters in Trafalgar Square, and protests in Cardiff, Cambridge, Newcastle, Bath, Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Belfast, Brighton, Manchester and Bristol. Protesters in Sheffield attempted to invade and occupy Nick Clegg’s constituency office. Occupations of university buildings started or continued at University College London, Newcastle University, Cambridge University and Nottingham University, as well as council buildings in Oxford and Birmingham.

A “day of action” is being planned on December 8, the day before the Commons vote, by the National Union of Students.



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November 24, 2010

UK students protest for second time this month

UK students protest for second time this month

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

At least three hundred students gathered outside the gates of Cardiff University.

Mass-walkouts took place today in cities throughout the United Kingdom, as students campaigned against rising tuition fees and government cuts.

Protests took place for the second time in as many weeks in places such as Aberystwyth, Cambridge, Southampton, Liverpool, and Brighton. Events included a ’study-in’ at the Edinburgh Liberal Democrat headquarters, a 10am protest in Trafalgar Square attended by thousands, and a ‘dress in red’ march in Manchester.

In Cardiff, at least a hundred students rallied outside the main gates of Cardiff University’s main building, in an event organised by a group named Actions Against Cuts Cardiff, with the support of a member of the National Union of Students executive committee. Occupations of university buildings have also begun in Birmingham, Plymouth, and the Royal Holloway.

In London, students are infuriated by what they say is London South Bank University’s decision to ban anti-cut related meetings from their campus earlier this month. One student described it as “undemocratic and scandalous” as, according to the students, they were forced out of their booked room by security guards, and prevented from partaking on any on-campus meetings — but South Bank University maintains that it was a “misunderstanding” due to a double-booked room. Dr. Phil Cardew, Pro Vice-Chancellor of LSBU, maintained that “freedom of speech lies at the very heart of the higher education community whether it is academic, political or social debate”, and that “the students were encouraged to continue their discussions in the Students Union”.

A police van was vandalised in Trafalgar Square.

Not all the demonstrations were peaceful. Central London saw two officers injured as the police attempted to hold back the protesters, a police van attacked and vandalised, and three arrests were made. Police, keen to make sure that the 30 Millbank occupation was not repeated, were out in force, clashing with students in Cambridge, where two arrests were made, and kettling protesters of up to a thousand, according to protest organisers, as dusk approached.

The group that organised the protests, the “National Campaign Against Fees And Cuts” (NCAFAC), told students in the run-up to the protests to not “be afraid of blocking traffic if you have enough people”. On their blog, they stated that “[they] would like to see university students planning to march around their campus, bursting into lecture theatres and spreading the word”, a move that would breach many University codes of conduct. When contacted by Wikinews, the group did not respond to requests for clarification.

Universities are facing more than £900m ($1.4bn) cuts in the next three years. This protest comes as, earlier this month, 50,000 students and lecturers took to the streets in a National Union of Students organised rally, which culminated in the violent occupation of the Conservative Party campaign headquarters at 30 Millbank. In Westminster, a student suspected of throwing a fire extinguisher off the headquarters’ roof pleaded guilty in court today, under the charge of violent disorder, and will appear in Southwark Crown Court at a later date for sentencing, the maximum of which is five years imprisonment. Some protesters involved in the 30 Millbank occupation led an ‘energising meeting’ in Cardiff yesterday, prior to today’s demonstration.

Many students do not understand the reasoning behind the cuts. The Trotskyist student group, Cardiff University Socialist Students, wonder why, compared to the “£120 billion the government throws away every year on evaded, avoided and uncollected taxes”, the “few billion” required to pay tuition fees is “tiny”. The group also advocates cutting the Trident nuclear deterrent in order to pay for fees, and wonder why the vice-chancellor of the university was awarded a 4% pay rise (to £275k p.a.) compared to last year, whilst during the economic recession.

Last week, three hundred sixth-formers marched in Finchley, Margaret Thatcher’s old constituency, throwing shirts at the local Tory headquarters, echoing the phrase “They ripped the shirts of our backs”. Lower income college students are hit badly by the budget cuts, as plans to abolish Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), the up-to £30 a week subsidy for 16-19 year-old full-time students with household incomes of £30,810 or less.

The protests were primarily organised on the popular social networking site, Facebook. One Facebook user said earlier this week that the protests were “a perfect opportunity for students to show how disappointed we are with Nick Clegg”, who was advised by security officers earlier to desist from cycling from his home in Putney to Downing Street over fears that he could be pounced upon by angry students en route.



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June 3, 2010

Manager Benitez parts company with Liverpool Football Club

Filed under: Archived, Football (soccer), Liverpool, Liverpool F.C., Sports — admin @ 5:00 am

Manager Benitez parts company with Liverpool Football Club

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

After six seasons, English Premier football club Liverpool F.C. and manager Rafael Benítez have parted ways. The separation was by mutual consent.

Rafael Benítez, who left Liverpool earlier today.

The 50-year-old Spaniard joined the club in June 2004, replacing Gerard Houllie. He had early success with the club, earning the Champions League title over A.C. Milan in 2005 and the FA Cup title the next season, before returning to the Champions League final in 2007, this time losing to A.C. Milan.

Under Benítez, Liverpool has a less than stellar home success for the club with the most major trophies in English football, finishing second in the league just once, while finishing third and fourth twice each.

Liverpool Chairman Martin Broughton thanked Benítez for his service, saying that after a seventh-place finish in the Premier League this season, it was time to move on.

“Rafa will forever be part of Liverpool folklore after bringing home the Champions League following the epic final in Istanbul but after a disappointing season both parties felt a fresh start would be best for all concerned,” Broughton said, in a statement released by the club today.

“It is very sad for me to announce that I will no longer be manager of Liverpool F.C,” Benítez said, in a statement released by the club. “I would like to thank all of the staff and players for their efforts.

“I’ll always keep in my heart the good times I’ve had here, the strong and loyal support of the fans in the tough times and the love from Liverpool. I have no words to thank you enough for all these years and I am very proud to say that I was your manager.

“Thank you so much once more and always remember: You’ll never walk alone.”



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April 7, 2010

Two arrests at Liverpool airport after attempt to smuggle corpse onto flight

Filed under: Archived, Berlin, England, Germany, Liverpool, Manchester, United Kingdom — admin @ 5:00 am

Two arrests at Liverpool airport after attempt to smuggle corpse onto flight

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

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Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport in 2009
Image: comedy_nose.

Anke Anusic, age 44, and her mother Gitta, age 66, were arrested at Liverpool John Lennon Airport last Saturday for attempting to smuggle the body of their deceased 91-year-old relative, “Willi” Curt Jaran, on a flight to Berlin, Germany.

The women tried to take the body on to the plane in a wheelchair wearing sunglasses, and they claimed that the person was asleep. They had previously used a taxi to bring the corpse from their home in Oldham.

The deception was discovered by check-in staff; both airport staff and the taxi driver are said to be upset by the events. Though they have not explained their actions, the costs of transporting a body can be several thousand pounds. They have been arrested on suspicion of failing to report a death. Both women are German nationals.

The two women, however, claim that Mr Jaran was alive until check in.



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January 27, 2010

Seventeen-year-old shot dead in Merseyside, England

Seventeen-year-old shot dead in Merseyside, England

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

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Map of England with Merseyside in red.

A seventeen-year-old boy, who has been identified as Lewis O’Brien, has been shot dead in Merseyside, England. The boy was found after police officers were called to Hathersage Road in the town of Huyton at roughly 16:00 GMT. The police had received reports of the shooting from people who lived nearby. The incident has caused the police to launch an investigation.

According to reports, O’Brien was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said that “the boy died shortly afterwards.” She also stated that further details will not be released until a later date which was not specified.

The scene of where the shooting occurred — at the crossing of Lyme Grove and Hathersage Road — has now been cordoned off with police tape by police officers to allow forensic examinations to take place. Only people who lived very near to the scene of the crime were allowed through the area. An 18-year-old male, believed to be the gunman, was arrested shortly after the incident.



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December 17, 2009

UK experiences first widespread snow of 2009

Filed under: Archived, England, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, United Kingdom, Weather — admin @ 5:00 am

UK experiences first widespread snow of 2009

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gresley Way Herts today.
Image: David Precious.

As of 23:56 GMT, many parts of the United Kingdom are experiencing heavy snowfall, with many other parts bracing themselves for the first widespread cold snap and heavy snow falls of the winter. During the afternoon of the 17th snow had already started to fall across parts of Northern and Eastern England. In London the Met Office issued the warnings, for the following areas. Gale force winds are also predicted areas of heavy snow fall could lead to drifting.

  • North East England Heavy Snow 1600 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18
  • Yorkshire & Humber Heavy Snow 1600 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18 Heavy Snow 1930 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18
  • East Midlands Heavy Snow 1930 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18
  • East of England Heavy Snow 1800 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18 Heavy Snow 1930 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18
  • London & South East England Heavy Snow 1800 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18

Other areas where expect to experience over night lows down as far as -4 c in rural areas. On the coast Liverpool was expecting temperatures of -2, whilst further in land -3 was expected, by Midnight on the 17th Liverpool was experiencing light snow showers.

The weather for Friday is predicted to remain cold possibly allowing any snow that remains at dawn to last throughout the day.

According to National Rail Enquires, some rail services in East Anglia were suspended, noting there was the possibility of disruption to other services.

The proximity of Christmas has caused bookmakers to reassess the odds of a White Christmas. Ladbrokes is giving odds on London at 2/1. While Glasgow is at 2/1, Aberdeen 11/8 and Birmingham, Cardiff, Dublin and Manchester are quoted at 11/4.



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November 3, 2009

Wife of English footballer Wayne Rooney gives birth to baby boy

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Wife of English footballer Wayne Rooney gives birth to baby boy

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

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File photo of Wayne Rooney

The wife of English football player Wayne Rooney has given birth to a baby boy in Liverpool, England.

Coleen Rooney gave birth to the child in the Liverpool Women’s Hospital at 1420 GMT, after being nine days overdue. The child has been named Kai Wayne Rooney. The father was present at the birth. The birth itself was natural, however Coleen did have to be induced.

A spokesperson for the married couple has said: “Mother and baby are both absolutely fine. Wayne and Coleen are thrilled with the wonderful addition to their family life.” Wayne Rooney is a striker player for Manchester United F.C. He had to abandon earlier training sessions due to the birth taking place.



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October 27, 2009

Homophobic attack on trainee police officer in Liverpool

Filed under: Archived, Crime and law, England, Human rights, LGBT, Liverpool, United Kingdom — admin @ 5:00 am

Homophobic attack on trainee police officer in Liverpool

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

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A trainee police officer from Merseyside Police is fighting for his life after what Merseyside Police describe as a homophobic attack on Sunday on Liverpool’s Stanley street, an area which describes itself as the gay quarter.

Forensic search of the site of the attack
Image: Irate.

The attack occurred as the openly homosexual James Parkes left a gay bar, Superstar Boudoir, with his partner and two other people. Mr. Parkes is in hospital with fractures to his skull, eye socket and cheek bone.

The attack was carried out by up to 13 youths at about 10pm on Sunday. Stanley street was still closed on Monday and undergoing forensic examination and investigation of CCTV footage. The attack comes a week before Liverpool holds the annual Homotopia festival.

Two 15 year olds and a 14 year old from the Kirkdale area of the city are being questioned in connection with the incident.

Cquote1.svg We are treating the assault as a homophobic hate crime… Cquote2.svg

—Detective Chief Inspector Tim Keelan

Detective Chief Inspector Tim Keelan, said: “I would appeal to anyone who may have information which could help us to catch those responsible for this despicable crime to come forward. Intensive inquires are taking place and we are currently examining CCTV footage from around the time of the incident to identify those responsible.

We are treating the assault as a homophobic hate crime and this incident shows there are still some people who have not learnt that crimes of this type are completely unacceptable. People who commit hate crimes can expect the full attention of the police and we will not rest until the offenders are brought to justice. The offenders will learn their lesson the hard way.

We have stepped up high visibility patrols in the area to reassure the public and we would urge the community to help us with our enquiries and find those responsible.”



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