Man Shot in London Tube

This news is just in:

Police shot a man at a London subway station on Friday, a day after the city was hit by a second wave of terror attacks in two weeks. The circumstances of the shooting were not immediately clear, nor was the man’s condition….

Passengers reported a man ? described as South Asian ? ran onto a train. Witnesses said police chased him, he tripped, then they shot him.

“They pushed him onto the floor and unloaded five shots into him. He’s dead,” witness Mark Whitby told the British Broadcasting Corp.

Whitby said it didn’t look like the man was carrying anything but said he was wearing a thick coat that looked padded.
Sourced From Associated Press

Sky is also reporting hat a mosque in the east of the capital has been surrounded by armed officers and residents told to stay indoors. The Times says it’s East London Mosque in Whitechapel and has the whole story.

Killer Identities

Sorting through some old books yesterday, I came across one from Amin Maaloof that I hadn’t looked at in years. So I dusted it off, and started thinking about this post.

The English title of the book is “In the Name of Identity“, but the French title “Les Identit?s meurtrieres” (Lethal Identities?) or the Catalan one ‘Indentitats que Maten’ (Killer Identities) are much more expressive and to the point.
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Italy Stuck In The Doldrums

The economic news from Italy continues to be grim. This week more negative data on consumer confidence and the trade deficit (the biggest since 1992, and it was of course in 1992 that Italy came flying out of EMU).

The ISAE research institute’s consumer confidence index fell to 100.9 in July from 102.9 in June, touching its lowest level in 13 months and underlying the public’s reluctance to make expensive purchases of property or durable goods.

Earlier this week Italy reported it had run a world trade deficit in the first five months of this year of ?6.28bn (?4.4bn, $7.6bn), the biggest imbalance between national exports and imports since 1992.

Battle Royal In Portugal

Obviously, convincing people of hari-kiri type economic policies simply to maintain the SGP (I say ‘simply’, but I imagine you understand what I mean) was never going to be easy for a growth strapped Portugal. Well, the finance minister has just resigned citing ?personal and family reasons? as well as fatigue.

“A new Portuguese finance minister was hurriedly sworn in yesterday as the Socialist government sought to reassure financial markets that the surprise resignation of his predecessor would not weaken efforts to cut the biggest budget deficit in the European Union.

Lu?s Campos e Cunha, the architect of a programme of tough measures to cut public spending, quit unexpectedly late Wednesday only four months after the centre-left government took office…..

But his decision to quit came amid a clash within the government and the Socialist Party over a plan to invest billion of euros in a new Lisbon airport, high-speed rail services and other infrastructures.

London Incidents Update

The Times has a pretty reasoned assessment of the state of play. We are still with the same two theories, the copycats, and the same group. I don’t like the copycat one since it seems to overlook some basic details. These attacks are not so easy to carry out logistically. Normally there is a high degree of training and preparation, especially ‘mentalisation’ if suicide bombers are involved (eyewitnesses suggest that at least one tube bomber today did try and blow himself up). So I don’t think this kind of attack can be improvised on the ‘oh why don’t we try and do one of those this week’ kind of basis. Whoever was at work today will have had this planned for some time. So then, what a coincidence that a different group had exactly the same idea, even down to the bus (which now seems intentional).

Also the timing was reasonably coordinated. They managed to penetrate security and get to the detonation stage. Avoiding security may have been one of the reasons for the time of day chosen. The question is really why they had so few explosives, and why the bombs didn’t go off. The way things panned out on 7 July, and what the implications of the car in Luton car park are, may provide part of the missing explanation. Essentially I agree with Robert Ayers (quoted in the Times link) from – what a surprise – Chatham House.
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China Comes Off The Renminbi Dollar Peg

This is a big news day. China has just announced that it is going to come off the dollar peg currency arrangement. Well it’s not that simple, they have announced a 2% appreciation of the currency against the dollar, and that the renminbi will now float against a basket of currencies. In fact this is a very ‘dirty’ float, since the trading price of the US dollar against the renminbi will now float within a trading band of plus or minus 0.3 per cent, while the band of other currencies against the renminbi will be set by the central bank, at least this is what the official statement says. How this will work will doubtless become clear in the coming days. Still a start is a start, and in many ways this is a historic day.

Update: Around the blogs: Brad Setser is well onto this. As is Daniel Dresner who points us to this Wall Street Journal report by Michael Phillips.

New ‘Incidents’ in London

The press and TV stations are begining to report a series of new incidents on the London underground. I use the word ‘incidents’ since things are so confused it is not clear what is happening. In one incident a rucksack apparently exploded, but the explosion was small. I will update as more info arrives.

On Thursday, the Warren Street, Shepherds Bush and Oval stations were evacuated. Emergency services personnel were called to the stations, police said.

“People were panicking. But very fortunately the train was only 15 seconds from the station,” witness Ivan McCracken told Sky news. McCracken said he smelled smoke at the Warren Street station, and people were panicking and coming into his carriage. He said he spoke to an Italian man who was comforting a woman after the evacuation.

“He said that a man was carrying a rucksack and the rucksack suddenly exploded. It was a minor explosion but enough to blow open the rucksack,” McCracken said. “The man then made an exclamation as if something had gone wrong. At that point everyone rushed from the carriage.”

Update 15:16 CET

The situation is still very confused. It seems there were 4 incidents, 3 in the tube, and one bus. The tube stations were Oval, Warren Street and Shepherd’s Bush. The bus was in Hackney Road, on a junction near Colombia Road, this is east London. There is speculation that detonators and not the bombs themselves went off. The emergency services report the following:

We were called to Oval at 12:38 pm (1138 GMT) and sent three ambulance vehicles,” a spokesman said Thursday. “We were called to Warren Street at 12:45 pm (1145 GMT) and sent five vehicles. “We will shortly confirm details of the incident at Shepherd’s Bush. “At this time there are no reports of casualties at any of the scenes.”

I think you don’t need to be a genius to have imagined that after reports that Haroon Rashid Aswat had been arrested started circulating any remaining groups he might have set up would have been forced to act quickly.

Update 14:20 CET

Still thankfully no reports of anyone seriously injured. Massive police and security activity everywhere. And according to AP, at least one detention.

Police also said an armed police unit had entered University College hospital. Press Association, the British news agency, said they arrived shortly after an injured person was carried in.

On the blogging front, Robin at Perfect UK is covering developments from inside the UK.

Running It All Away

This story today is worth a quick glance:

Mark McGowan went into the tiny backroom kitchen of a south London gallery three weeks ago and flipped on the cold water. He didn’t turn it off, and doesn’t plan to for an entire year.

“The Running Tap,” as it’s called, is McGowan’s effort to protest against wasted water in London by blatantly letting it go down the drain.

Merkel’s Reform Agenda

Angela Merkel has an interview in the Financial Times today. Unfortunately the transcript is subscription only. This is a pity, since to some extent she defines the kind of Europe she would like to see:

In an interview with the Financial Times, Angela Merkel, leader of the Christian Democrat Union, on Wednesday issued a clarion call for economic reform in Europe based on countries borrowing successful policies from one another. ?If I look at Scandinavia, for instance, I see we still have a long way to go in decoupling our social security system from labour; if I look at central and eastern European countries, I see I still have a long way to go in reforming my tax system; and when I look at the UK, I see I still have much to do to make my labour market more flexible.?

Ms Merkel’s references to central European countries and to the UK are striking, since the former are identified with low corporate taxes and in some cases, such as Slovakia with a ?flat tax? system. The deregulated UK labour market is often demonised by continental European politicians as alien to the European social model.

Her remarks provide clear backing for Tony Blair, prime minister and current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, in his campaign to put economic reform at the centre of the EU’s effort to reconnect with European voters after their rejection of its planned constitution in France and the Netherlands in the past two months.

The big difficulty I see with her proposals is that they will put more of the burden of financing government on consumer taxes (VAT), and this will not help Germany lift domestic consumer demand which is one of the ‘big issues’.

Morgan Stanley economist Elga Bartsch, who I have in the past maligned somewhat here on this blog, has a pretty fair and balanced summary of the CDU reform programme here.