Crisis Meeting Following British Mayhem

LONDON, Aug. 9 (UPI) — Rioting in 10 London districts and three other British cities quieted by dawn Tuesday as Prime Minister David Cameron was to hold a crisis-response meeting.

Cameron reversed an earlier decision not to cut short his central Italy vacation and took a military plane home around 3 a.m. (10 p.m. EDT Monday) to lead an emergency Cabinet Office Briefing Room meeting to deal with the turmoil, which the government said had become a crisis.

Gangs of young people — boys and girls, their faces covered with scarves or ski masks — rampaged through neighborhoods, smashing windows, looting stores, overturning cars and trash bins and setting them ablaze, torching buildings including warehouses, terrorizing motorists and bus passengers, engaging in “mass muggings” of people in pubs, and attacking 1,700 riot police with wooden sticks, gasoline bombs, broken bottles, pieces of concrete, shopping carts and other makeshift weapons.

Police and witnesses said the youths communicated to each other by BlackBerry instant-message technology, along with social networking Facebook and Twitter Web sites, moving from district to district, spreading mayhem, and outmaneuvering police by racing through London’s clogged traffic on bicycles and mopeds.

CNN said 15 teenagers took over a bus in west London’s large Ealing area, forced the driver out and crashed the vehicle.

Residents of at least two London areas, Clapham Junction and Croydon, were told to evacuate. A 26-year old man in Croydon was hospitalized in serious condition early Tuesday after being found with gunshot wounds.

In Ealing and the south London district of Clapham, police used armored vehicles to clear the streets of gangs, The Daily Telegraph reported.

In other areas, officers appeared to let looting go unchecked, concentrating instead on stopping new violence outbreaks elsewhere, The New York Times reported.

Attacked boroughs and districts also included Hackney, Lewisham, Peckham, Woolwich and Enfield, moving late Monday night into the upscale Notting Hill and Camden neighborhoods.

More than 400 people in London had been arrested by dawn, police said.

The mayhem also spread for the first time beyond London to Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool, with similar violence, fires and bedlam, residents said.

An unstaffed police station in Birmingham was torched, ITV reported.

Birmingham police said they had thrown a half-mile cordon around the city center and had arrested at least 100 people, mostly teenagers.

Bristol and Liverpool also reported widespread arson and looting. an undetermined number of people were arrested.

The violence began Saturday night in London’s Tottenham neighborhood, north-northeast of Charing Cross, when a small, peaceful march outside a police station — to protest the killing of a local man, Mark Duggan, in a police shooting the week before — got out of hand.

The march turned into a pitched battle between hundreds of officers, some on horses, and equal numbers of rioters, wearing bandannas and armed with makeshift weapons that included table legs.

Ballistics tests from the Duggan shooting were expected to be released Tuesday on a bullet found in a police radio, the Telegraph reported. The tests will help determine whether Duggan fired on police before he was shot by firearms officers.

Easy Ways To Cut Calories

WASHINGTON — Dieters may not need as much willpower as they think if they change their eating environment and how they eat, a U.S. researcher says.

“Our homes are filled with hidden eating traps,” Brian Wansink, the John Dyson professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University, where he directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, said in a statement.

“Most of us have too much chaos going on in our lives to consciously focus on every bite we eat, and then ask ourselves if we’re full.”

One myth, he said, is that people know when they are full and stop before they overeat.

His Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University designed a “bottomless bowl,” and brought in 60 people for a free lunch and gave 22-ounce bowls of soup to half, while the other half unknowingly got 22-ounce bowls that were pressure-fed under the table and slowly refilled.

Wansink said those with the bottomless bowls ate 73 percent more than those with normal bowls, yet when asked, they didn’t realize they had eaten more.

To combat “mindless eating,” Wansink suggests:

  • Simply being aware of such findings and making healthier choices.
  • Eating off salad plates instead of large dinner plates.
  • Keeping unhealthy foods out of immediate line of sight and moving healthier foods to eye-level in the cupboard and refrigerator.
  • Eating in the kitchen or dining room, not in front of the television.

The findings were presented at the American Psychological Association’s 119th annual convention in Washington.

US To Grant Waivers On NCLB

WASHINGTON — The Administration of President Barack Obama said it will grant waivers to U.S. States saying they can’t meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.

Efforts to reform the signature education legislation of President George W. Bush have stalled in Congress.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he decided to grant waivers because of “universal clamoring” from education officials in nearly every State who say they can’t meet the unrealistic requirements of the Federal law, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

“The States are desperately asking for us to respond,” Duncan said in a conference call with reporters late last week.

Educators in most States expressed concern about NCLB’s escalating requirements that result in the goal of 100 percent of students being proficient in reading and math by 2014 or face serious sanctions for their schools, including loss of Federal money, The Post said.

The pressure of trying to reach 100 percent proficiency has created a harmful focus on standardized tests and a narrowing of curriculum that excludes studies beyond math and reading, educators said.

In addition, some officials also blame No Child Left Behind for fostering an atmosphere that led educators to allegedly rig test results in Atlanta, Baltimore and the District of Columbia, The Post said.

Duncan and Melody Barnes, President Obama’s domestic policy adviser, declined to discuss specifics about the waivers, but said they would release details in September, when they will begin examining applications from any State seeking exemption.

Administration officials said they will grant waivers to States adopting standards that prepare high school graduates for post-secondary education and careers, and using a “flexible and targeted” accountability system for educators based on student growth, among other things.

Man Suspected Of Killing Grandmother, Aunt

PRESTON, England, Aug. 9 (UPI) — A young man was being questioned Monday in northern England after the bodies of his grandmother and aunt were found in their burning house, police said.

The dead women were identified as Maureen Allen, 79, and her daughter, Geraldine Allen, 56, the Daily Mirror reported. Maureen Allen had lived in the house in Fulwood near Preston in Lancashire for a quarter century.

The fire was reported early Monday morning.

“We were woken up by the sound of fire engines,” a neighbor who did not want to be identified told the Mirror. “A while later I saw a man wearing handcuffs being put into a van. There was no struggle. He just walked calmly in.”

Police said the man was being held on suspicion of murder.

Allen had been stabbed many times, the BBC reported. Neighbors said she and her nephew moved in with her mother recently.

Riots Interrupt Top Pols’ Vacations

LONDON, Aug. 9 (UPI) — Violent riots erupted in London with most senior members of the British government out of the country on vacation.

A Royal Air Force plane was dispatched to Italy late Monday to pick up Prime Minister David Cameron, The Guardian reported. Cameron, who was in Tuscany with his family, planned to chair an emergency meeting on the crisis Tuesday morning.

A source in Cameron’s office said the spread of the violence from the Tottenham district in North London on Saturday to other neighborhoods around London and to other cities by Monday led to his decision to end his vacation.

“You only have to look at your television screen to see the situation has deteriorated,” the source said.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, on holiday in British Columbia with his family, announced Monday he would be back in the city Tuesday afternoon, The Daily Telegraph reported. Johnson had earlier said he would not interrupt his vacation.

Home Secretary Theresa May returned from Switzerland on Monday. An aide told the Telegraph she had been in touch by phone with senior London police and officials.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the government had been dealing effectively with the crisis in Cameron’s absence.

China Inflation Hits 6.5 Percent In July

BEIJING, Aug. 9 (UPI) — China’s inflation rate jumped to 6.5 percent in July, the government said Tuesday amid plunging global stock prices.

The July consumer price index, the main gauge of the country’s inflation, was up from June’s 6.4 percent and a hit a 37-month high, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

The announcement comes as markets around the world teeter in response to economic shocks including the downgrading of U.S. debt to double-A+ from triple-A by Standard & Poor’s, growing concern about the debt crisis in Europe and the fear of a double-dip recession.

July inflation was blamed on surging food costs, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported, adding the high inflation puts the government in a tough position with worsening global liquidity in sight.

China’s Inflation has remained stubbornly high and far above the government’s target of 4 percent, despite numerous measures by its central bank.

Food costs rose by 14.8 percent in July from a year ago, with the price of pork, a staple food in China, soaring 57 percent in July.

Separately, the Producer Price Index, which is used to calculate inflation at the wholesale level, jumped 7.5 percent year-on-year in July.

Asian stock prices opened sharply lower Tuesday after the carnage on the New York Stock Exchange, where the Dow Jones index closed 635 lower with other indices following suit. China is the largest creditor nation to the United States.

China’s central bank has raised interest rates five times and cash reserve requirements for banks nine times since October in an effort to contain inflation.

Healy, First Woman To Head NIH, Dies At 67

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (UPI) — Dr. Bernardine Healy, who helped reorganize the U.S. National Institutes of Health as its first woman director, has died. She was 67.

Healy suffered from brain cancer, The Washington post reported. She died Saturday at her home in Gates Mills, Ohio, where she lived with her second husband, Dr. Floyd Loop.

A cardiologist, Healy also served as president of the American Heart Association and had a short and controversial stint as head of the American Red Cross.

A graduate of Harvard Medical School and sometime faculty member at Johns Hopkins, Healy entered the world of political medicine when President Ronald Reagan named her to a White House post. She left after a year for the Cleveland Clinic.

President George H.W. Bush appointed Healy to head the NIH in 1991. The agency had had no director for almost two years and was beset by low morale and high turnover.

“Things are so bad, some have said, they couldn’t even get a man to be NIH director,” Healy said.

Healy spent two years at the head of the Red Cross, resigning not long after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. She had had a difficult relationship with the board, and criticism of the Red Cross response to the attacks sealed her fate, the Post noted.

Poll Shows Bachmann, Romney On Top In Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa, Aug. 8 (UPI) — A Rasmussen Reports poll revealed Monday five Republican candidates have double-digit support in Iowa, but most voters there could still be swayed.

The telephone survey of 627 likely Iowa caucus participants indicated Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann attracts 22 percent support, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 21 percent, Rasmussen Reports said.

Behind Romney is Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 16 percent, followed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 12 percent and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at 11 percent.

Just 28 percent of Iowa voters said they are sure of who they will vote for and the rest said they may change their minds.

The poll also indicated only 23 percent of likely voters think Republicans in Congress have done a good job of representing GOP values, and 67 percent believe Republicans in Congress have lost touch with the party base.

Perry Against Farm Subsidies

AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 8 (UPI) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a potential presidential hopeful, says he would like to do away with farm subsidies like the ones he benefited from when he was a farmer.

Twenty years ago when Perry was a farmer, the federal government gave him $9,000 in farm subsidies to leave his ground unplowed, the San Antonio Express reported Sunday. Now the Republican governor would like to get ax the program, seeing it as a waste of government money.

“In the 1995 farm bill, we must carefully but thoughtfully move our farmers and ranchers away from a subsidized system to a market-driven system,” Perry said in a speech delivered in Iowa. “We must move away from government assistance to opportunity enhancement.”

Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Perry, defended his statements by saying the governor is proud of his farming experience, but that he believes Washington spending is out of control and threatens every aspect of the economy.

Cantor Urges GOP To Resist Tax Hikes

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 (UPI) — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is urging Republicans lawmakers to resist pressure to raise taxes following the U.S. credit rating downgrade.

Cantor wrote a letter to Republican House members in the wake of Standard & Poor’s decision to lower the U.S. credit rating, The Hill reported Monday.

“Over the next several months, there will be tremendous pressure on Congress to prove that S&P’s analysis of the inability of the political parties to bridge our differences is wrong,” Cantor wrote Monday. “In short, there will be pressure to compromise on tax increases. We will be told that there is no other way forward. I respectfully disagree.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, reiterated Cantor’s sentiments in a statement on Monday.

“Providing economic certainty and creating an environment in which businesses can invest and jobs can flourish must remain our number-one focus,” Boehner said. “That’s why raising taxes is simply the wrong approach.”

Democrats blame Republicans for the downgrade, saying they created the debt crisis and then walked away from a bipartisan “grand bargain” that would have averted the lower credit score.