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Hung parliament following the 2015 general election ‘would hurt economy’ | #UK #HungParliament #economy


Item Club warns growth and business investment may be squeezed as businesses are nervous over political uncertainty.

The Item Club predicts that business investment growth will slow sharply next year, from 9% in 2014 to 5.8% in 2015.The Item Club predicts that business investment growth will slow sharply next year, from 9% in 2014 to 5.8% in 2015. Photograph: Paul Rapson/Alamy

Graeme Wearden reporting,

Britain’s economy could suffer a “huge uncertainty shock” if next year’s general election delivers a hung parliament, a leading economic forecaster warns.

The prospect of no clear winner when Britain heads to the polling booths in May is already pushing down next year’s growth and business investment predictions, according to the EY Item Club’s autumn forecast. It also cites the weakening eurozone economy and geopolitical tensions, including the Ukraine crisis, as threats that are making businesses nervous.

The Item Club predicts that business investment growth will slow sharply next year, from 9% in 2014 to 5.8% in 2015. That will hamper economic growth, tipped to fall from 3.1% this year to 2.4% in 2015.

The warning comes as new economic data are due that will probably show the British recovery slowed down between July and September.

Peter Spencer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, believes that, with polls showing next year’s election is hard to call, the uncertainty and nervousness in the financial markets around the election will be much greater than in 2010.

“This makes it very difficult for anyone engaged in business planning to manage a company through this uncertainty,” he said. “I don’t think we would have had this conversation in 1997. The gulf between the parties this time is enormous.”

Businesses are also worried by the prospect of a referendum over Britain’s membership of the European Union, Spencer said.

“The comparative advantage we offer foreign investors is dependent on the fact we are a haven of political stability, and our proximity to Europe. If both of those are brought into question, what happens to the likes of Nissan and Toyota, or financial services firms in the City?”

Spencer pointed out that Germany’s industrial productivity and exports had fallen sharply in August, as the Ukraine crisis and eurozone fears had risen. “A huge uncertainty shock is really hammering Germany’s economy now,” he said, illustrating the dangers facing Britain. “It is a very good example of what can happen if businesses get clutched by this sort of risk.”

The UK economy is also a long way from regaining its full potential following the financial crisis, he added.

The EY Item Club, which uses the Treasury’s model of the UK economy, flagged up that exporters are suffering from the stalling European recovery and the fall in the value of the euro.

HM Treasury agreed that the eurozone area, Britain’s largest trade partner, is a “growing risk”, saying: “We have to recognise that the UK is not immune to these problems, which is why we will continue working through the plan that is building a resilient economy.”

Data due on Friday will show how the UK economy performed in the third quarter of 2014. Economists predict that GDP increased by 0.7% in the quarter, a slowdown compared with 0.9% between April and June.

Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight said there was a risk that growth could be weaker, given “limited industrial production and the very real possibility that construction output contracted”.

The retail industry is also struggling. Footfall across UK high streets, out of town retail parks and shopping centres around the UK was down by 0.9% year-on-year in September, according to figures from Springboard, after a 1.1% fall in August.


The Guardian.

British hostage John Cantlie ‘urges Government to talk to Isis’ | #JohnCantlie #ISIS


The Independent

Article appears after the MoD confirms that British soldiers would head to northern Iraq to help train Kurdish forces.

Kunal Dutta reporting,

The British hostage John Cantlie has appeared in an online article calling for the British Government to “open a channel and negotiate” with Isis.

It appeared hours after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed that a “specialist” team of British soldiers would head to northern Iraq to help train Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic militant group.

The article, published in the Isis online magazine Dabiq, coincided with a fourth propaganda video featuring the 43-year-old photojournalist. In it he claimed Isis was “dug in for the fight” and that it was “conceivable” that foreign jihadists may return to their home countries to launch attacks.

Britain has stepped up its attack on Isis in recent weeks, with news emerging over the weekend that British troops are close to the frontline of the fight between Isis and Kurdish fighters in Irbil.

The team of “non-combat army trainers” will provide training for “heavy machine guns that were gifted by the UK last month,” a Government spokeswoman said.

The development will inevitably draw criticism of “mission creep” with the move marking the first time British troops have been active on Iraqi soil since May 2011. The training group will join a small UK military reconnaissance team, which has already been on the ground for several weeks, with some 12 soldiers, from the 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, understood to be involved.

Criticism over Western hostage policy has intensified since the murder of British hostages Alan Henning and David Haines and Americans Stephen Sotloff and James Foley. All four were cellmates of Mr Cantlie, the article reveals, adding that: “If our countries had just talked to the mujahidin, our chances of survival wouldn’t have been low at all.”

The US has the starkest position on hostage negotiation and considers ransom payment akin to funding terrorism – for which it will prosecute. The UK government does not formerly pay ransoms.

The Dabiq piece also cites Bowe Bergdahl, the US infantryman held by the Taliban for almost five years and freed in May in return for the release of five Afghans from Guantanamo Bay. “Our political leaders have the power, if they choose to change things,” it concludes, adding: “Just ask our government to talk. That’s all. Open a channel and negotiate with the Islamic State like the others did. If nothing is possible to agree on, then fine, but it cannot compromise policy to open a dialogue.”

The Foreign Office would not be drawn on a response. A spokesman said last night: “We are aware of the video and the article and are investigating their contents.”

The article also refers to a failed rescue mission by elite US Special Forces earlier this summer. It reads: “Yes, America tried to rescue us, but instead of spending all those millions of dollars sending ninja commandos and risking countless more lives like it was a Hollywood action movie, wouldn’t it have been safer and wiser to have discussed options for prisoner exchange in the first place?”


The Independent.

Brighton: The day the Grand Hotel was bombed #BrightonBombing


The Grand Hotel in Brighton where five people were killed and 30 injured when an IRA bomb exploded. John ManningThe Grand Hotel in Brighton where five people were killed and 30 injured when an IRA bomb exploded. Photograph: John Manning / The Times

AT 2.54am on October 12, 1984, an explosion echoed across Brighton and Hove. The events of that night would be felt across the western world for years to come. Reporters BEN JAMES and FLORA THOMPSON look back at the biggest news story this city has ever seen.

A MONTH before the deadly terrorist attack a man called Roy Walsh checked into The Grand.

He stayed for four days in room number 629, seemingly doing nothing more than enjoying the tail end of the summer season.

But Mr Walsh was not Mr Walsh. He was Patrick Magee, a provisional IRA activist tasked with murdering the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and as many of her cabinet members as possible.

He planted a bomb with a long-delay timer made from video recorder components and a memo park timer safety device – the type seen in egg timers.

It was packed with 20lb of gelignite.

Magee checked out and the 1984 Conservative Party conference checked in.

Security searched the building and sniffer dogs worked their way through the hundreds of rooms.

But despite the caution, the bomb was not discovered.

The Grand Hotel in Brighton following the IRA bomb attack. The photo was taken on the morning of October 12 1984, some hours after the blast.The Grand Hotel in Brighton following the IRA bomb attack. The photo was taken on the morning of October 12 1984, some hours after the blast. Photograph: Wikipedia

It is believed the dogs did not find the device because of the cling film wrapped around it, masking any smell of explosives.

The conference began and the leaders of the country came and went – while all the time the deadly bomb was ticking down.

Then in the early hours of the morning of October 12, a deafening blast blew a hole in the front of the Victorian hotel.

Bricks, debris and glass shot through the air as the midsection of the building collapsed into the basement.

Five were killed and dozens injured. Mrs Thatcher, who was awake at the time working on her conference speech, was unharmed.

She was taken, with her husband Denis, to Brighton Police Station before being taken to a safehouse.

This was the most audacious attack on British democracy since the gunpowder plot. It was a day that those involved would never forget.

Norman Tebbit, the then secretary of state for trade and industry, was asleep in his room with his wife when the bomb went off.

Speaking this week, the now 83-year-old said: “It woke me up and then the chandelier started swinging and ceiling fell in.

“We were covered in debris, we were completely covered – we were pinned down.”

Trapped by bricks and pieces of furniture, it was a number of hours before the emergency services got to the Conservative MP and his wife Margaret, who was left permanently disabled as a result of the blast.

Asked if he was panicking, he said: “What’s the point in panicking. I was just thinking, I hope somebody gets me out before I bleed to death.”

Bomb victim Lord Tebbit, then Britain's Trade and Industry Minister, being lifted from the ruins of the Grand HotelBomb victim Lord Tebbit, then Britain’s Trade and Industry Minister, being lifted from the ruins of the Grand Hotel. Photograph: The Daily Mail

The photograph of Lord Tebbit being carried out of the devastated building is one of the enduring images of the day.

He was taken to Royal Sussex County Hospital where doctors asked if he was allergic to anything. The defiant cabinet minister replied “bombs”.

He was later transferred to Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire where he remained for several weeks.

Across Brighton and Hove the explosion had woken many and even set off car alarms.

Argus photographer Simon Dack had just got to sleep when he heard the blast.

He said: “I turned to my wife and said it sounded like a car backfiring. She said it sounded like a bomb.

“The next thing I knew I was on the phone to one of our reporters, Phil Mills, who told me that The Grand had been blown up.

“I had been at the hotel earlier that night to have a drink with a few photographers, I couldn’t believe it.

“I got in the car and rushed down. The whole place was lit up with emergency lights. I parked up at the bottom of West Street and just started taking pictures.”

He was met by then Argus reporter Mr Mills who had rushed down with his pyjamas under his clothes.

Mr Mills said: “My wife heard the phone ring and she prodded me in the ribs – it was The Argus newsdesk telling me something that I initially thought was part of a dream: A bomb? At the Grand?

“I threw on clothes over my pyjamas (thinking it was a hoax and that I’d be back in bed in an hour) but as I drove into town and saw a convoy of emergency vehicles speeding past me I realised this was real.”

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis on October 12 1984Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her husband Denis on October 12 1984. Photograph: The Telegraph

He met up with Mr Dack and fellow Argus reporter Jon Buss before splitting up to speak to whoever was in a state to answer.

“I followed the trail of masonry that had snapped off a flagpole on the opposite side of the road to the hotel and met a couple who had been sitting on the beach. The young man said: ‘Bit of the pole and brick flew over our heads – the explosion was deafening’.

“The then education secretary Sir Keith Joseph was in total shock in his silk dressing gown, in the lobby of the nearby Metropole Hotel: His answers were mumbled and jumbled. Nigel Lawson (in his pyjamas) was more coherent. All were in a state of disbelief.”

Mr Mills was one of the first on the scene and just minutes after arriving he had started filing his copy back to the Argus office.

But not all the journalists at the conference had been as quick off the mark.

He said: “I was sending copy from the lobby of the Old Ship when another pyjama-clad man exited from the lift and demanded receptionists tell him what was going on. He was the Washington Post reporter who had slept through the explosion and the first he knew anything was when his phone rang – it was his newsdesk asking when he would be filing copy.”

Mr Dack added: “It was the biggest story in the country for a long time and the biggest ever in Brighton. But at the time it didn’t seem like that. There were all these rumours flying around about who was dead and who wasn’t.

The 30th anniversary of the Brighton bombing will be marked by peace campaigners, political activists and academic scholars.The 30th anniversary of the Brighton bombing will be marked by peace campaigners, political activists and academic scholars. Photograph: The Belfast Telegraph

“I was just worrying about taking pictures. My biggest concern strangely was getting the pictures back to the office. We would have to get to a phonebox and call in a despatch rider to take them. I was there all night and the next day just taking pictures.

“I don’t think I went back into the office for a couple of days.”

Jennie Dack, Mr Dack’s wife, had her own experience of that historic morning.

She was working at Marks & Spencer in Western Road and was called to open up early so the delegates could buy new clothes.

She said: “They were wandering around in their pyjamas all looking like ghosts. They were covered in dust and were clearly shocked at what had happened.

“It was a very surreal experience and a very strange atmosphere.”

Five had been killed. Eric Taylor, North West area chairman of the Conservative Party, Lady Jeanne Shattock, wife of Gordon Shattock, western area chairman of the Conservative Party, Lady Muriel Maclean, wife of Sir Donald Maclean, president of the Scottish Conservatives and Roberta Wakeham, wife of Parliamentary treasury secretary John Wakeham.

Perhaps the most high profile to be killed was Sir Anthony Berry, then MP for Southgate. The 59-year-old was with his wife, who was badly injured.

His daughter was in London staying with her sister and remembers the moment she turned on the TV news that morning.

She said: “These were the days before mobile phones so we were waiting around for information.

“We didn’t really know what had happened or if he was there or not. We were just hoping for the best.”

It was several hours before they received any news, and when they did it was the news they had dreaded.

The fire brigade shine a light on the bomb blast in The Grand Hotel Brighton in 1984.The fire brigade shine a light on the bomb blast in The Grand Hotel Brighton in 1984. Photograph: ALAMY

She said: “We got a call in the afternoon and told his body had been identified.

“I was 27 at the time and it changed my life forever, we were all devastated.

“I remember this feeling of disbelief, it was so hard to take in.

“Shortly after his death I got a letter from him. I had been living in India and the letter had gone out and then come back. When I opened it I forget for a minute that he had gone.

“It was a very difficult time, just a few months before my uncle had killed himself and then this.

“Everyone rallied round and I remember us trying to be strong at the funeral. We wanted it to be a small event so Margaret Thatcher didn’t come.

“Princess Diana, (Sir Anthony was her uncle) was also there. I remember her coming up to me and saying what a fantastic man my father was and how she was so sorry.”

Despite the utter devastation, Ms Berry decided something positive had to come from the death, fear and destruction.

Patrick Magee was convicted for five counts of murder and told he would serve 35 years minimum.

However, he was released having served just 14 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Shortly after his release, in November 2000, Ms Berry met with her father’s killer – sparking criticism from some families of victims of IRA attacks.

They went on to meet a number of times over the following months and a documentary about the meeting was broadcast in December 2001.

The Grand Hotel on the night of the bombing in 1984.The Grand Hotel on the night of the bombing in 1984. Photograph: The Argus

She now speaks around the world on the topic of peace building and reconciliation and has launched her own foundation, Building Bridges for Peace.

She will appear with Mr Magee at an event at the Old Market Theatre, Hove, on Sunday.

She added: “Just days after I decided I had to do something positive. I am proud of what I’ve done but I still feel like I need to do more.”

Ms Berry added: “I would say he is a friend (Magee). It is an unusual friendship but I care about him.

“I am always going to be against any violence but if I understand why he, and others, chose to use violence then that can help me to look at how we can make the world a place where people are less likely to use violence.

“Forgiveness is such a difficult word. But he is my friend now. We spend a lot of time together.”

She added: “He regards me as a friend. He knows that my dad was a wonderful human being and he knows that some of the qualities I have came from my father and that weighs heavily on him.”

The Grand Hotel in Brighton after the 1984 IRA bomb at the Tory Party conference.The Grand Hotel in Brighton after the 1984 IRA bomb at the Tory Party conference. Photograph: The BBC

Sir Andrew Bowden breaks his silence…

UNTIL now the then Brighton Kemptown MP Sir Andrew Bowden had kept silent about his experiences that historic morning.

Now, on the 30th anniversary of the attack, he speaks exclusively to The Argus about how he rushed to the aid of Margaret Thatcher.

He said: “It is an evening of my life which is seared into my mind. I have deliberately held back from speaking about this because I did not feel it was appropriate until now to explain my involvement in the events.

“I do think fate played a part and to some extent it was destiny.”

He said the release last week of the Iron Lady’s private papers by the Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust seemed like a fitting time to share his recollections.

Details of how Baroness Thatcher calmly took time to personally cancel a hair appointment at a Hove salon were among the revelations published about her actions after the bombing.

Sir Andrew, 84, who now lives in Ovingdean, said it was “fate” he was not in The Grand at the time of the bomb.

“I left at about 1am and walked home – I lived not far away in Sussex Square at the time.

“My wife was still awake when I got in and we chatted about the evening’s events before going to bed.

“And it was not long before we heard a deep boom, like thunder. We thought ‘what the devil was that?’ and ten minutes later the phone rang.”

A senior police officer told him an attempt had been made on the Prime Minister’s life. He was summoned to her side as she took shelter at Brighton police station.

Sir Andrew said: “I threw on my clothes and dashed down to the Edward’s Street station where I was taken straight into the chief superintendent’s office. She was there, sitting in the chief superintendent’s chair and surrounded by chief constables and senior officers.

“I rushed over to say ‘Prime Minister I am so sorry’ and she immediately said ‘Andrew, I am alright’ which amazed me.”

He added: “I had been involved in the security in the run up to the visit and we had identified a number of safe houses in the area, a couple in Brighton, one in Lewes and one in Rottingdean.

“The officers and I were debating the best place to move her and I saw she was beginning to get irritated.

“She was tapping her fingers on the desk and suddenly banged her hand down and said, ‘Gentlemen, I have sat here listening to this discussion for some time and a decision needs to be made. I do not mind where you take me but there is one clear instruction. You must have me back at the conference centre by 9am. Is that understood?’.

“She showed remarkable courage.”

The Grand Hotel Brighton as it is today.The Grand Hotel Brighton as it is today.


The Argus (Brighton).

Hong Kong protesters cancel talks with government | #HongKong #Beijing #StudentProtest


Police take an injured man from the confrontation of pro-democracy student protesters and angry local residents in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Pushing and yelling, hundreds of Hong Kong residents tried to force pro-democracy activists from the streets they were occupying Friday as tensions rose in the weeklong protests that have shut down parts of the city.Police take an injured man from the confrontation of pro-democracy student protesters and angry local residents in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Pushing and yelling, hundreds of Hong Kong residents tried to force pro-democracy activists from the streets they were occupying Friday as tensions rose in the weeklong protests that have shut down parts of the city. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

JOANNA CHIU and WENDY TANG reporting,

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters called off planned talks with the government on electoral reforms Friday after mobs of people tried to drive them from streets they had occupied in one of the city’s main shopping areas.

Pro-democracy student protesters scuffle with police as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protesters on Friday welcomed an overnight offer by the territory's leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work.Pro-democracy student protesters scuffle with police as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protesters on Friday welcomed an overnight offer by the territory’s leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the groups leading the protests that swelled to the tens of thousands earlier this week, said they saw no choice but to cancel the talks.

Residents and pro-Beijing supporters try to storm into a pro-democracy activist tent in Kowloon's crowded Mong Kok district, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. Clashes broke out Friday as Hong Kong residents and pro-Beijing supporters tried to force pro-democracy activists from the streets they were occupying, reviving the possibility that the weeklong standoff could turn violent despite and attempt by the city's leader to defuse the situation.Residents and pro-Beijing supporters try to storm into a pro-democracy activist tent in Kowloon’s crowded Mong Kok district, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. Clashes broke out Friday as Hong Kong residents and pro-Beijing supporters tried to force pro-democracy activists from the streets they were occupying, reviving the possibility that the weeklong standoff could turn violent despite and attempt by the city’s leader to defuse the situation. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

“The government is demanding the streets be cleared. We call upon all Hong Kong people to immediately come to protect our positions and fight to the end,” the group said in a statement.

Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, proposed the talks late Thursday, seeking to defuse the standoff, the biggest challenge to Beijing’s authority since China took control of the former British colony in 1997.

Founder of the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement Benny Tai cries during a rally outside government headquarters after protesters were threatened by residents and pro-Beijing supporters in Kowloon's crowded Mong Kok district, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 in Hong Kong.Founder of the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement Benny Tai cries during a rally outside government headquarters after protesters were threatened by residents and pro-Beijing supporters in Kowloon’s crowded Mong Kok district, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

His refusal to yield to calls for his resignation angered many protesters. They demanded that the government hold someone responsible for the scuffles Friday in Kowloon’s crowded Mong Kok district and other areas, the most chaotic since police used tear gas and pepper spray last weekend to try to disperse the demonstrations.

Just as those tactics ended up drawing more people into the streets, the attacks on Friday drew hundreds of supporters.

An angry local demands that the pro-democracy student protesters remove the barricades blocking streets in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Crowds of pro-democracy protesters on the streets of Hong Kong dwindled sharply Friday after the territory's leader agreed to meet with their leaders over demands for electoral reforms. An afternoon thunderstorm — and sheer exhaustion after the weeklong protests — also appeared to keep people off the streets.An angry local demands that the pro-democracy student protesters remove the barricades blocking streets in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Crowds of pro-democracy protesters on the streets of Hong Kong dwindled sharply Friday after the territory’s leader agreed to meet with their leaders over demands for electoral reforms. An afternoon thunderstorm — and sheer exhaustion after the weeklong protests — also appeared to keep people off the streets. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

It was unclear if the people trying to drive out the protesters were organized, though some wore blue ribbons signaling their support for the mainland Chinese government, while the protesters have worn yellow ribbons. At least some were local residents fed up with the inconvenience of blocked streets and closed shops, and were perhaps encouraged to take matters into their own hands by police calls for the protesters to clear the streets.

A pro-democracy student protester, left, is pressed by angry locals trying to remove the barricades blocking streets in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protest leaders on Friday welcomed an offer by the territory's leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work.A pro-democracy student protester, left, is pressed by angry locals trying to remove the barricades blocking streets in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protest leaders on Friday welcomed an offer by the territory’s leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

“It’s not about whether I support their cause or not. It’s about whether what they are doing is legal or not,” said Donald Chan, 45. “It is illegal. It has brought chaos to the city.”

In the afternoon, democracy activists, mostly students, linked arms and held hands as they tried to stand their ground. Police formed cordons and escorted some of the protesters away as hundreds of people chanted, “Pack up!” and “Go home!”

Residents and pro-Beijing supporters tear down a pro-democracy activist tent in Kowloon's crowded Mong Kok district, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. Residents and pro-Beijing supporters tear down a pro-democracy activist tent in Kowloon’s crowded Mong Kok district, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

But the tide seemed to turn in the evening, when hundreds assembled, shouting at the opponents of the protesters and haranguing police to protect the students. Police ended up escorting some of the mob of people in their 30s and older out of the area.

The chaos prompted orders from police and other top officials for all to avoid violence and go home.

A man is cuffed by police and taken from the confrontation of pro-democracy student protesters and angry local residents in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Pushing and yelling, hundreds of Hong Kong residents tried to force pro-democracy activists from the streets they were occupying Friday as tensions rose in the weeklong protests that have shut down parts of the city.A man is cuffed by police and taken from the confrontation of pro-democracy student protesters and angry local residents in Mong Kok, Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Pushing and yelling, hundreds of Hong Kong residents tried to force pro-democracy activists from the streets they were occupying Friday as tensions rose in the weeklong protests that have shut down parts of the city. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

“We should not use violence or disrupt social order in any situation,” Chief Executive Leung said. “All people gathering in those areas should disperse as soon as possible and restore social order, so that daily lives will be restored to normal.”

A student protester is injured after being pulled off and hit by residents and pro-Beijing supporters while local police are escorting him out of the protest area in Kowloon's crowded Mong Kok district, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. A student protester is injured after being pulled off and hit by residents and pro-Beijing supporters while local police are escorting him out of the protest area in Kowloon’s crowded Mong Kok district, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

During the worst of the disturbances, police appeared hard-pressed to keep order as the two sides tussled in a tense standoff. Some people emerged bloodied from the fracas. Occasional heavy rain showers did not noticeably thin the crowds.

Student protesters are overwhelmed with emotions as they hold onto their tent while being threatened by residents and pro-Beijing supporters in Kowloon's crowded Mong Kok district, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 in Hong Kong.Student protesters are overwhelmed with emotions as they hold onto their tent while being threatened by residents and pro-Beijing supporters in Kowloon’s crowded Mong Kok district, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

The protesters have stayed in the streets since Sept. 26, pledging to preserve Hong Kong’s Western-style legal system and civil liberties. They want the Chinese government to reverse a decision requiring all candidates in the first election for Hong Kong’s leader in 2017 to be approved by a mostly pro-Beijing committee. The demonstrators want open nominations.

A resident and pro-Beijing supporter shouts at pro-democracy activists in Kowloon's crowded Mong Kok district, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 in Hong Kong.A resident and pro-Beijing supporter shouts at pro-democracy activists in Kowloon’s crowded Mong Kok district, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014 in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Hong Kong’s top civil servant, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, said Friday she had begun organizing the talks with the protesters, before the students called them off.

China’s government has mostly kept quiet during the crisis, other than to call the protests illegal and support the Hong Kong government’s efforts to disperse them. However, the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily on Friday accused a small group of demonstrators of trying to “hijack the system” and said the protest effort was doomed to failure.

A pro-democracy student protester argues with angry locals trying to remove the barricades blocking streets in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protest leaders on Friday welcomed an offer by the territory's leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work.A pro-democracy student protester argues with angry locals trying to remove the barricades blocking streets in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protest leaders on Friday welcomed an offer by the territory’s leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

There is “no room for concessions” on the candidate screening issue, it said in a front-page editorial, noting that Hong Kong “is directly under the jurisdiction of the central government; it is not a country or an independent political entity.”

A pro-democracy protester is taken away by police officers as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protesters on Friday welcomed an overnight offer by the territory's leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work.A pro-democracy protester is taken away by police officers as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protesters on Friday welcomed an overnight offer by the territory’s leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Some who are sympathetic to the protesters’ demands for wider democracy complained that the police were not doing enough to protect the demonstrators. But others complained that the protests were disrupting their lives and hurting their livelihoods.

Riot police try to hold back scuffling pro-democracy protesters as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protesters on Friday welcomed an overnight offer by the territory's leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work.Riot police try to hold back scuffling pro-democracy protesters as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protesters on Friday welcomed an overnight offer by the territory’s leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

“It affected my company, a perfume business, to deliver goods in the area,” said Ken Lai in the bustling Causeway Bay neighborhood. “I really dislike the fact that they occupied so many areas, all scattered around the city. I’m a Hong Konger too. The occupiers don’t represent all of us.”

A police guards over a pro-democracy student protester who collapsed during scuffles with locals trying to remove the barricades blocking local streets in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protest leaders on Friday welcomed an offer by the territory's leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work.A police guards over a pro-democracy student protester who collapsed during scuffles with locals trying to remove the barricades blocking local streets in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protest leaders on Friday welcomed an offer by the territory’s leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)Riot police try to hold back protesters as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protesters on Friday welcomed an overnight offer by the territory's leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work.Riot police try to hold back protesters as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protesters on Friday welcomed an overnight offer by the territory’s leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)Police try to hold back pro-democracy student protesters during a scuffle as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protesters on Friday welcomed an overnight offer by the territory's leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work.Police try to hold back pro-democracy student protesters during a scuffle as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Hong Kong protesters on Friday welcomed an overnight offer by the territory’s leader of talks to defuse the crisis over demonstrations seeking democratic reforms, though they continued to demand he resign and maintained barricades around government headquarters, frustrating staff going to work. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

(Associated Press writers Elaine Kurtenbach, Kelvin Chan and Louise Watt contributed to this report).


The Associated Press.

UK: Islamic State targeted air strikes could be extended to Syria, PM hints | #ISIS #Syria #Iraq #ISIL


David Cameron indicates only lack of political consent at Westminster is holding government back.

Patrick Wintour, political editor.
David Cameron said on the Andrew Marr Show that he was sympathetic with the view that Isis had to be defeated in Syria as well as Iraq.David Cameron said on the Andrew Marr Show that he was sympathetic with the view that Isis had to be defeated in Syria as well as Iraq. Photograph: Handout/Reuters.

David Cameron has given his broadest hint yet that he wants to extend the fight against Islamic State (Isis) to Syria and that only a lack of political consent at Westminster is holding the government back.

The prime minister said on Sunday he was sympathetic to the argument mounted by former chief of the defence staff Sir David Richards, that Isis had to be defeated in Syria as well as Iraq.

The former army general had told the Sunday Times: “You cannot possibly defeat IS [Isis] by only tackling them in Iraq. How the hell do you win the war when most of your enemy end up in a country you cannot get involved in?”

Cameron said on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “I have a lot of sympathy with that view, which is why I have said we support what the Americans and the five Arab nations have done in Syria. We have a Syria strategy which is to build up the Free Syrian Army [and] the Syrian National Coalition to achieve a political transition in Syria. But I wanted to take the House of Commons proposals that I could achieve consensus with to make sure Britain was playing its role in this coordinated action across both parties.”

Cameron said he agreed that boots on the ground were needed but insisted they must not be British ones. “We are not trying to defeat Isil [Isis] from the air alone. We believe you do need troops on the ground but they should be Iraqi troops, they should be Kurdish troops. We are part of a large international coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy this organisation. But it can’t be done unless the countries where this organisation has grown up play their part in destroying it.”

Cameron hit back at critics such as the Respect MP George Galloway who have warned that the nature of the Isis positions mean many civilians will be killed.

“I do not accept that. There have been occasions when [Isis] are out in the open, threatening Christian communities, Yazidi communities, other Muslim communities, and they can be struck and stopped and that’s exactly what’s happened.

“But if what you are saying is that we need an uprising of the Sunni tribes rejecting these extremists and saying ‘we want to be part of a democratic pluralistic Iraq’, then yes, of course we do need that. Our strategy here is not some simplistic ‘drop a bomb from 40,000 feet’ and think you can solve the problem.

“It isn’t. This is one part of a comprehensive strategy to build an Iraq that has a democratic, inclusive government for everyone and, in time, Syria needs exactly the same thing.”

The defence secretary, Michael Fallon, said on Sky’s Murnaghan programme that UK Tornados were ready to be called in to help troops on the ground.

“There is nothing token about this, quite the contrary. They need our help, not just with the Tornados flying daily from Cyprus, but also from the surveillance equipment overhead – to add to the operations of the Iraqi and Kurdish forces. We need to think about how we beat IS. IS is based in Syria and IS needs to be defeated in Syria as well as in Iraq.”

Fallon warned that driving out Islamic State (IS) militants will not be a “weekend campaign”, saying that the operations could continue for weeks or even months.

“This is not a weekend campaign,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend. “This is going to take a long time.”

William Hague, the leader of the House of Commons and former foreign secretary, hinted there would be a stepping up of UK action beyond the six Tornados, saying there may be further announcements.

He admitted a proposal to fight Isis in Syria could “at the moment easily be defeated” in the Commons,and said: “That would not be a very wise thing to do.”

He hinted at Labour opposition, saying: “The Labour party is a very, very large part of the House of Commons”. He said the government would not bring a new motion spreading military action to Syria “if we thought we would be defeated as we were last year”.


The Guardian.

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