Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London Riots Put Spotlight on Troubled, Unemployed Youths in Britain

I came here to get my penny’s worth,” said a man who gave his name as Louis James, 19, a slightly built participant in the widening riots that have shaken London to its core. With a touch of guilt on Tuesday, Mr. James showed off what he described as a $195 designer sweater that he said he took during looting in Camden Town, a gentrified area of north London. In recent days, young rioters and looters like Mr. James have dominated front pages and television reports around the world, prompted a recall of Parliament to a special session and forced the deployment of thousands of police officers.

Widespread antisocial and criminal behavior by young and usually unemployed people has long troubled Britain. Attacks and vandalism by gangs of young people are “a blight on the lives of millions,” said a 2010 government report commissioned in the aftermath of several deaths related to such gangs. They signal, it said, “the decline of whole towns and city areas.”

The government investigation revealed that though only a quarter of such incidents were reported, 3.5 million complaints were nonetheless made to the police. An iPhone app is available to track attacks, and one enterprising inventor marketed a device, called the mosquito, that emits a high-pitched noise that can be heard only by young people as a means for store owners to keep gangs away.

Politicians from both the right and the left, the police and most residents of the areas hit by violence nearly unanimously describe the most recent riots as criminal and anarchic, lacking even a hint of the antigovernment, anti-austerity message that has driven many of the violent protests in other European countries.

But the riots also reflect the alienation and resentment of many young people in Britain, where one million people from the ages of 16 to 24 are officially unemployed, the most since the deep recession of the mid-1980s.

The riots in London began when protesters gathered outside a north London police station after the shooting of a local man by officers. The police have long had troubled relations with racial and ethnic minorities in Britain and have sought to repair these relations, although the protesters have come from all backgrounds. Days later, in Hackney, where some of the fiercest riots took place, a young man in a gray hooded sweatshirt shouted directly into the faces of riot police officers: “You know you all racist! You know it.”

The combination of economic despair, racial tension and thuggery has “a devastating effect on communities,” said Graham Beech, an official at the crime-prevention charity Nacro. “It’s something that ordinary people see on their walks to work — street drunkenness, vandalism, intimidation — and that affects the general fear of crime.” As the British government’s austerity measures begin to take effect, young people will also see their chances of employment dwindling and their financial and community support cut, Mr. Beech said. “Boredom, alienation and isolation are going to be factors,” he said.

In many ways, Mr. James’s circumstances are typical. He lives in a government-subsidized apartment in northern London and receives $125 in jobless benefits every two weeks, even though he says he has largely given up looking for work. He says he has never had a proper job and learned to read only three years ago. His mother can barely support herself and his stepbrothers and sisters. His father, who was a heroin addict, is dead.

He says he has been in and out of too many schools to count and left the educational system for good when he was 15.

“No one has ever given me a chance; I am just angry at how the whole system works,” Mr. James said. He would like to get a job at a retail store, but admits that he spends most days watching television and just trying to get by. “That is the way they want it,” he said, without specifying exactly who “they” were. “They give me just enough money so that I can eat and watch TV all day. I don’t even pay my bills anymore.”

Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research in London, says that Mr. James’s plight reflects a broader trend here. More challenging students, Mr. Portes says, have not been receiving the attention they should as teachers, under pressure to meet educational goals, focus on children from more stable homes and those with greater abilities and social skills. Disillusioned, those who cannot keep up just drop out.

Headlines here, which often describe the young people as “feral,” have been dominated in recent years by the gangs’ turn toward bullying the most vulnerable. Almost 30 percent of the victims of antisocial behavior surveyed in the government report said they had “longstanding illness, disability or infirmity.”

In one incident typical of those described in the report, in 2007 Fiona Pilkington, 38, pulled her car to the side of a secluded highway. Inside, her learning-disabled daughter, Francesca, 18, watched as Ms. Pilkington doused a pile of old clothes in the back seat with gasoline and set them on fire. The two burned to death.

She was driven by a campaign of intimidation that stretched back over a decade. A gang, with some members as young as 10, pushed dog excrement through the letterbox of their modest home, beat her son and threatened to kill Francesca, who had the learning ability of a 3-year-old. The mother said she made 33 requests for help to the police, to no effect.

It was this culture of impunity that forms one context for the current riots. The most vulnerable people feel trapped, said Margo Milne, 49, who uses a wheelchair part time because she has multiple sclerosis. A disabled friend of hers reported looting in a neighborhood convulsed by rioting. “But she is worried that if she reports them to the police they will come for her,” Ms. Milne said. “And what would she do?”

In a low-income housing complex in Hackney on Monday, an elderly woman was hospitalized after a riot in which as many as 300 people rampaged, setting fire to cars and looting stores. Two priests, one in full robes, were brought in by the police to persuade rioters to allow an ambulance to take her to safety. “We need to get these people out,” one of the priests was heard telling a police officer. But as soon as the ambulance left, officers abandoned the neighborhood and looters struck up in earnest once more.

Later, when one young man, kicking a trash can into the street nearby, was asked why he was rioting, he just shrugged.

London is burning


The seemingly impossible began when a police arrest went horribly wrong some five days ago. Although clouded in uncertainty and speculation, the police shot dead a coloured man, Mark Duggan, last Thursday in Tottenham, north London, for reasons that could range from his being a drug dealer to resisting arrest or to firing at the police after which they shot back. In the wake of this one man’s death, it really does seem as though London is burning. What began as a ‘peaceful’ protest by some 300 people at the Tottenham police station has, since then, transformed into an avalanche of rage, looting and violence. The police and government officials are calling these rioters nothing more than “anarchic” or “criminal” elements bent upon taking advantage of a disturbed situation. The government of the Conservatives-Liberal Democrats seems to smugly be dismissing these ‘thugs’ who are storming the streets, calling the protests mere acts of criminality. If this is so, then they are criminals — but against a system that has marginalised them and left them bereft of hope for the future.

Ever since Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition came to power, it has slashed social and welfare funding. In the past couple of years, unemployment has surged, resulting in an unprecedented increase in disenfranchised youngsters without jobs or hopes of getting one. Couple this with the global recession and you have a recipe for disaster — one that seems to have exploded in the faces of the British ruling class. Unemployment in the UK stands at 2.45 million today; this is not ‘criminality’ or madness but a response to the increasingly despondent economic and social situation of so many young people who have no stake in the future opportunities of their country. Protests that started off in Tottenham have spread like wildfire to Croydon, Ealing, central London and now to Birmingham, Liverpool, Ilford and other cities. While it may be easy to dismiss the rioters as nothing more than ‘yobs’ stealing all they can get in this disturbance, there is definitely more at play than meets the eye.

In what can only be termed as Orwellian by its very nature, London boasts one CCTV camera for every 14 people. With precautions and monitoring systems such as these in place, with the police shooting dead a man and then handling the aftermath poorly, and baton-wielding riot police marching out to counter the swelling discontent, does it not seem as though the UK now carries all the markers of a rising police state? It seems to be this rage against the machine that is giving rise to the anarchy we see taking over the streets of London and other British cities. The frustration and anger that is out in full force today has been seething under the surface for a while and has leapt forth now spontaneously and vigorously. Eerily similar to the events in Tahrir Square, these riots have also used online social forums to organise the mass protests in guerrilla fashion.

One cannot help but use this opportunity to remind the complacent ruling elite in Pakistan that if such mass uprisings can occur in a place as well-guarded and safe as the UK, what is to stop them from happening here where despair, anger and misery are at boiling point? The youth in Pakistan are at tipping point and can ignite the flames of discontent at a moment’s notice. If the British ruling class can have its nonchalance punctured in such an emphatic manner, imagine what could happen here where the arrogance and indifference of this corruption-riddled ruling elite knows no bounds. It is time for our rulers to wake up lest the fires of anarchy lick too close for comfort.

Punjab govt inaction on art gallery incident slammed

Daily Times
By Afnan Khan

LAHORE: Human rights activists slammed the Punjab government for not taking any action against the Shadman police station’s Station House Officer (SHO), Rana Zulfiqar, who manhandled and misbehaved with the female curator, staffers and customers of the Nairang Art Gallery.

The incident took place a few days before Ramazan, when the SHO entered the famous Nairang Art Gallery situated on the Jail Road and started abusing the customers, including females. He also physically tortured the female curator of the gallery for wearing a sleeveless shirt and interacting with men as an administrator of the place.

He not only physically abused the young curator but also accused the gallery’s administration of spreading obscenity. Also, he abused the customers, including young females, for visiting the gallery to have meals or to watch the artworks on display in the gallery.

However, Punjab government’s spokesperson Senator Pervaiz Rashid told Daily Times that the government has taken strict notice of the incident by issuing a show cause notice to the concerned SHO. He said that the government was not directing the cops to do such things and these were their individual actions.

Meanwhile, sources from within the Shadman Police Station told Daily Times that the said SHO was freely enjoying his powers in the police station and he had also been recently appointed by the government to ensure security in the Ashiana Housing Scheme (AHS).

Separately, a senior lawyer, rights activist and founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Hina Jilani, told Daily Times that such activities were aimed at crushing the barely surviving cultural scene in the country, adding that the rulers of Punjab had inherited this phenomenon from Ziaul Haq’s reign. “If they (cops) had done the same thing with Shahbaz Sharif’s daughter, would they only be issuing a show cause notice to the SHO?” Hina questioned, adding that there should have been a criminal inquiry against Rana Zulfiqar and he should have been terminated from the job.

Hina added that the incident was a clear example of how the politicians were using police to suppress the public and execute their own agendas.

She said that Ziaul Haq’s legacy had already made us a horrible nation and the provincial rulers were trying to discourage the remaining few who were still associated with their culture and civilisation by harassing them.

Centre for Human Rights Education Director Samson Salamat told Daily Times that the SHO had violated the right of recreation and privacy of the citizens, which are promised to the citizens in both the Constitution of Pakistan and in the international law and he should have been held under criminal charges for doing so. The incident again exposed the presence of religious extremism in police, which led to the assassination of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer a few months ago when his own guard from the Elite Force sprayed bullets on him, he said.

“There must be an independent inquiry of the incident because the citizens do not believe in the impartiality of the Punjab government,” Salamat said.

Art galleries and other such cultural outlets are places where intellectuals and liberals join together to create art and to think about the problems our country is facing and this kind of police harassment was only aimed at keeping the students and intellectuals away from art and culture, he added.

Talking to Daily Times, owner of the gallery, Nayyer Ali Dada, said that he had written letters to the CM, Inspector General of Punjab Police and the CCPO to take notice of the incident but none of them had taken any concrete action against the SHO and his accomplices so far.

He said that he was still in shock and could not understand why a cop would go to such lengths to beat a female curator and harass others, including his own son, by raiding the art gallery. The employees in the art gallery also told Daily Times that the female curator was so frightened after the incident that she was neither coming to the job nor responding to any phone calls.

Meanwhile, SHO Rana Zulfiqar abstained from commenting on the issue despite several attempts of contact. His subordinates responded to one of the phone calls, saying that the SHO was taking rest after a hectic day’s duty.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan had also issued a statement regarding the incident, terming it as “alarming” and sought tough action against the SHO.

“Excesses by policemen are hardly an anomaly in Pakistan but since when have the policemen assumed the responsibility of the Taliban?” the commission’s statement questioned.

British violence toll reach 4

ritish police have launched a murder probe into the death of three men, who were killed in a road accident in Birmingham, West Midlands during forth night of unrest.

The three pedestrians were hit by a car in the Winson Green area of the city at 1am and one critically injured, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Police said one man had been arrested in connection with the deaths and a car had been recovered, according to the report.

"Two men have died following a road traffic collision in the Winson Green area of Birmingham which detectives are treating as murder”, said a spokesman for West Midlands Police.

"The incident occurred just after 1am in Dudley Road. Three men were taken to hospital where two subsequently died from their injuries. A third male remains in a critical condition”, he added.

"West Midlands Police have launched a murder inquiry, arrested one man in connection with the incident and recovered a vehicle from near the scene which will be examined by forensics experts", said the spokesman.

In central London, Prime Minister David Cameron and senior minister called for a second meeting of emergency committee with police chiefs to review the impact of the beefed-up security operation in the streets of London.

Lahore High Court restrains police from arresting Murree contractor

GEO Pakistan
LHC restrains police from arresting Murree contractor LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice, Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry has restrained the police from arresting a Murree contractor against whom FIRs were registered at the behest of the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and directed Rawalpindi SSP Investigation to investigate into the matter.

The court during the hearing told the IG police that in case of a murder, the killer was not caught, whether the contractor was a great criminal that the entire police force has been deployed to arrest him.

The chief Justice directed the IG police to make an example of those responsible for getting the fake FIR registered against the contractor whether it was Chairman Tourism, RPO or any other personality. All the SHOs of Murree police were also present in the court.

Advocate General Khawaja Haris told the court that the cases were registered against the contractor on the directive of the Punjab chief minister for non-completion of the work and drawing over-payment allegations.

The contractor said that if he has drawn any over-payment, he was ready to reimburse the amount.

Chief Justice enquired from the Advocate General, “What would you gain by sending the contactor to jail, its good that the money comes back, why do you want to throw an educated architect behind the bar?

Advocate General requested for time, which the court acceding adjourned the hearing until September 13.

As violence in Syria mounts, U.S. could call for al-Assad to step down

The international cries for Syria's government to end a bloody crackdown on civilians could intensify Wednesday as activist groups reported fresh onslaughts in several cities.

The United Nations Security Council is expected Wednesday to follow up on a statement last week that condemned the Syrian regime for attacks on peaceful protesters and called for both sides to end the violence.

Meanwhile, the United States is moving toward issuing an explicit call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, U.S. government sources told CNN Tuesday.

The move is expected to be announced in coming days after U.S. officials consult with the United Nations Security Council, the sources said. They said the question of whether to call for al-Assad to step down has been under discussion over the past few weeks, the sources said.

While international leaders mull their next steps, heavy gunfire, explosions and tanks permeated the eastern city of Deir Ezzor on Wednesday, an activist group and a resident said.

Businesses and homes belonging to known opposition organizers have been destroyed, said the resident, who did not want to be identified for safety reasons. He said at least 20 motorcycles belonging to residents were burned -- a move he suspects was an effort by security forces to hamper residents' resources.

Security forces were impounding and burning motorcycles in the Damascus suburbs of Zamalka, Irbeen and Hammouriya as well, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"There are also large scale arrests in those areas as mobile service and landline communications have been completely cut out in the areas since the start of the military operation" Wednesday morning, the observatory said in a statement.

The group also said gunfire from security forces killed one woman and injured three people in the northwestern town of Sirmeen Wednesday.

The conflict in Syria was fueled five months ago when Syrian forces swiftly suppressed protests in the southern city of Daraa. Anti-government fervor caught on nationwide as more protests were met with tougher crackdowns.

While activists blame government security forces for the violence and casualties, the al-Assad regime has consistently said "armed groups" are responsible.

By Wednesday, the death toll had reached 2,417 -- including more than 2,000 civilians, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of activists.

The number includes 84 deaths in the city of Deir Ezzor alone since Saturday, when pro-government forces began a military campaign in the area, the LCC said.

Syria has restricted international journalists' access to the country, and CNN was unable to independently confirm the death toll and details of the situation.

On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and al-Assad engaged in more than six hours of talks in Damascus.

"Our primary target is the bloodshed to stop," Davutoglu told reporters after the meetings. "We shared what needs to be done for the bloodshed to stop, for the civilian losses to end and for the political reform process, in line with the people's demands, to take place."

The Turkish diplomat added, "We discussed concrete issues that would not be right for me to give details of."

Al-Assad told Davutoglu that his country won't relent in chasing down the "armed terrorist groups" it blames for the violence that has engulfed the nation, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

Al-Assad briefed Davutoglu on the killing and terrorizing in some Syrian cities by the purported groups. At the same time, he indicated that Syria is committed to reform and is open to help from other countries, the news agency said.

Indian, South African and Brazilian envoys are also planning to meet with Syrian officials to deal with the crisis.

The Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council have publicly spoken out against the crackdown, and Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have recalled their ambassadors from Damascus.

Russia called on the Syrian government Tuesday "to stop the violence and to introduce deep political changes," the Russian Foreign Ministry reported on its website.

And Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has condemned violence in Syria in a rare rebuke directed at a fellow Arab leader, who leads a majority Sunni Muslim nation with a government dominated by minority Alawites, whose faith is a spinoff of Shiite Islam. Abdullah demanded an end "to the killing machine and the bloodshed."

Amnesty International urged world leaders to take more concrete action before a Wednesday Security Council debate at which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is to deliver a report on Syria.

Many groups and countries viewed last week's Security Council statement as ineffectual.

"Any honest examination of the facts of the horrific situation in Syria should be more than sufficient to persuade the Security Council to come up with a legally binding resolution, not just a meek statement," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"A mere diplomatic appeal to the Syrian authorities to end the ongoing violence against civilians will fall far short of what the situation demands."

Is FATA a forbidden word?

The Frontier Post
In the ongoing dinning discourse on new provinces, what is stunningly missing is the name Federally-Administered Tribal Areas. What? Is it a forbidden word? Why is this word not being spoken up loudly and resoundingly when the region merits a provincial status by every canon, unquestioningly? Bring up any criterion and the region emphatically makes for a compact province area-wise, population-wise, resources-wise, administration-wise, as well as ethnically and linguistically. Indeed, its credentials to become a fully-fledged province are so clear-cut, strong and decisive that it needs not even a national commission to decide the issue. Various demands presently being voiced for new provinces may be suffering from some debility. But the FATA’s case is very sound and incontrovertible. And if in spite of that the name FATA is not figuring up in the debate on creating new provinces, that makes a damning statement on the political partisans and the intellectual elites alike. It contemptibly bespeaks of their puritanical aversion of sucking the crucially-strategically-located region into the mainstream and keeping it out of their thoughts in the country’s political configurations. The political class is haggling over creation or non-creation of new provinces clearly with their political considerations dominating their minds. Those campaigning for new provinces obviously feel that that would stand in good stead politically. Those resisting or dithering think that this would hurt them politically one way or the other. But since FATA doesn’t occur at all in their discourse, that culpably states that this crucial region has astoundingly doesn’t exist even in their political calculuses. Indeed, the inanities they mumble out off and on about the region are a mere footling that would stand not for a minute in the broader picture of the region functioning as a province. Had it been a province, the contentious Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) definitely would been long buried in some ancient graveyard as its provincial legislature would have enacted the laws to govern the region in keeping with the wishes of its residents and in consonance with the codes, norms, customs and traditions of their collective lives. And there would have been no need at all for the extension of any enactments to enable the political parties to function there. The tribal people would have either floated the regional chapters of the mainstream parties; or they would have formed up their own political parties, which indeed appears a far potent possibility. But since the political class has throughout treated the region as an unworthy outcaste, such niceties cannot come any feelingly to it and it thus nonchalantly keeps blurting out such meaningless and inconsequential utterances about the region unthinkingly. True, the Quaid-e-Azam had pledged to the tribal people full respect to their tribal codes, customs, traditions and norms. But he had not decreed that they would be kept at bay from the national mainstream and away from modernity, development and advancement. His successors in fact latched on to what he had actually not envisioned about them at all. Had indeed they read into his pledge correctly, they would have made the region a province long time ago, where its legislators would have enacted laws in conformity with their social lives and fully responsive to their needs for economic development and advancement. That would have given not just an alleviating shape to the region but helped enormously in tapping its hugely untapped natural wealth for its people’s economic good. And that in turn would have given impetus to the social uplift of the region, as economic advancement admittedly works as a marvellous catalyst for social emancipation. The overall impact would have been the spawning of a polity wholly immune from alien influences and completely at peace with itself. Resultantly, it would have been a secure, calm and tranquil part of the country. Still, that is quite possible even now; not all is yet lost; only the region and its residents are to be given what is their due in every manner. FATA should become a fully-fledged province, at once. It is too precious a region to be thrown out like an unwanted burden to become part of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, as some charlatans suggest.

Afghan president: Courts cannot change election

Afghanistan's president has issued a decree stating that the country's courts do not have the power to alter election results.

The ruling issued Wednesday by President Hamid Karzai appears to put an end to months of uncertainty about this year's parliamentary election. A special tribunal had called for the removal of 62 sitting parliamentarians, saying that they won their seats through fraud.

The decree says the Independent Election Commission holds the final authority on deciding vote counts and results. It says this commission will evaluate the court's findings and will decide if any candidates should be removed.

Baluchistan: ‘Pakistan needs to find political solution’

The Pakistan government needs to find a non-violent and political solution to the separatist problem of Baluchistan, experts attending a discussion on Baluchistan held on Tuesday in the national capital stated. They also advised the Indian government to not get involved in the struggle by proxy.

The discussion was held on the occasion of the launch of an autobiography of secretary-general of Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC) B.M. Kutty, 60 Years in Self Exile: No Regrets, which profiles his life and times and political activism across the border. The book was released by former foreign minister K. Natwar Singh at the India Islamic Cultural Centre late on Tuesday evening.
Speaking on the occasion, Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar said that the people in India supported a non-violent and political solution to the Baluchistan problem. “No one here can suggest any other means of obtaining a solution to the issue,” Mr Aiyar said. He also called for cooperation between the two nations in resolving all the pending issues.
Presenting the Pakistani government viewpoint, Pakistani high commissioner Shahid Malik said that the government had already initiated the process of devolution of power to the provinces. “We have also changed the resource allocation pattern from population-based to other parameters like backwardness and poverty as was demanded by several provinces,” Mr Malik said.
He stated high powered commissions had been established to look into the allegations of human rights violations in the region.
Meanwhile, calling for a further dialogue between the two countries, the author of the book stated that the citizens of both the countries wanted to communicate with each other. “The common people were never against each other. Some vested interests and external forces have kept us from mingling freely,” said 81-year-old Kutty.
The Kerala-born octogenarian migrated to Karachi 60 years ago and has since been actively involved in Pakistani politics and peace-building between the two countries. Calling it an autobiography of a political worker, Kutty termed the book as a truthful account of political events that have been witnessed by him over the past six decades in Pakistan. “Being a political activist and not a politician I am able to write the things more truthfully,” Kutty added.

Police calm London, but riots flare across UK

Thousands of extra police officers flooded into London Wednesday in a bid to end Britain's worst rioting in a generation. An eerie calm prevailed in the capital, but unrest spread across England on a fourth night of violence driven by diverse and brazen crowds of young people.

Scenes of ransacked stores, torched cars and blackened buildings frightened and outraged Britons just a year before their country is to host the summer Olympic Games, bringing demands for a tougher response from law enforcement. Police across the country have made more than 1,100 arrests since the violence broke out over the weekend.

In London, where armored vehicles and convoys of police vans patrolled the streets, authorities said there would be 16,000 officers on duty — almost triple the number present Monday. They said a large presence would remain in the city through the next 24 hours at least.

The show of force seems to have worked.

"Without wishing to speak too soon it's been reasonably quiet for us so far tonight," London's Fire Brigade said in a message posted to Twitter earlier in the evening. "Let's hope it stays that way."

But outside the capital, chaos was spreading.

In the northwestern city of Manchester, hundreds of youths — some looking as young as 10 — rampaged through the city center, hurling bottles and stones at police and vandalizing stores. A women's clothing store on the city's main shopping street was set ablaze, along with a disused library in nearby Salford.

Manchester's assistant chief constable Garry Shewan said looting and arson had taken place there on an unprecedented scale.

"We want to make it absolutely clear — they have nothing to protest against," he said. "There is nothing in a sense of injustice and there has been no spark that has led to this."

Britain's riots began Saturday when an initially peaceful protest over a police shooting in London's Tottenham neighborhood turned violent. That clash has morphed into a general lawlessness in London and several other cities that police have struggled to halt.

While the rioters have run off with sneakers, bikes, electronics and leather goods, they also have torched stores apparently just for the fun of seeing something burn. They were left virtually unchallenged in several neighborhoods, and when police did arrive they often were able to flee quickly and regroup.

With police struggling to control the violence, some residents stood guard to protect their neighborhoods. Outside a Sikh temple in Southall, west London, residents stood guard and vowed to defend their place of worship if mobs of young rioters appeared. Another group marched through Enfield, in north London, aiming to deter looters.

In a potentially troublesome development, one far-right group said that about 1,000 of its members around the country were taking to the streets to deter rioters.

"We're going to stop the riots — police obviously can't handle it," Stephen Lennon, leader of the far-right English Defense League, told The Associated Press. He warned that he couldn't guarantee there wouldn't be violent clashes with rioting youths.

Anders Behring Breivik, who has confessed to the bombing and massacre that killed 77 people in Norway last month, has cited the EDL as an inspiration.

Meanwhile virtually every major city in England was seeing some form of unrest.

In the central England city of Nottingham, police said rioters hurled firebombs though the window of a police station, and set fire to a school and a vehicle outside a second police station — but there were no reports of injuries. A total of 90 people were arrested in attacks on stores, a college, a community center and cars.

Some 250 people were arrested after two days of violence in Birmingham — where police were investigating reports of shots fired in a restive inner-city neighborhood. "Officers are on the scene but there have been no injuries reported," the city's police department said in a statement.

In the northern city of Liverpool, about 200 youths hurled missiles at police and firefighters in a second night of unrest, and the area's police force reported 44 arrests.

There also were minor clashes for the first time in the central and western England locations of Leicester, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich, Bristol, and the western city of Gloucester — where police and firefighters tackled a blaze and disturbance in the city's Brunswick district.

In London, stores, offices and nursery schools had closed early Tuesday evening amid fears of fresh rioting. Several usually busy streets were quiet as cafes, restaurants and pubs also decided to shut down for the night.

Many shops had their metal blinds pulled down, while other business owners rushed to secure plywood over their windows before nightfall.

In east London's Bethnal Green district, convenience store owner Adnan Butt, 28, said the situation was still tense.

"People are all at home — they're scared," he said.

Senior officers said they were considering the possible use of plastic bullets — blunt-nosed projectiles designed to deal punishing blows to rioters without penetrating the skin. Such weapons, formally called baton rounds, still are used to quell riots in Northern Ireland but have never been used by police on Britain's mainland.

Prime Minister David Cameron's government rejected calls by Conservative lawmaker Patrick Mercer and some members of the public for strong-arm riot measures that British police generally avoid, such as tear gas and water cannons.

"They should have the tools available and they should use them if the commander on the ground thinks it's necessary," Mercer said.

The disorder has caused heartache for Londoners whose businesses and homes were torched or ransacked, and a crisis for police and politicians already staggering from a spluttering economy and a scandal over illegal phone hacking by a tabloid newspaper that has dragged in senior politicians and police.

"The public wanted to see tough action. They wanted to see it sooner and there is a degree of frustration," said Andrew Silke, head of the criminology department at the University of East London.

So far 768 people have been arrested in London and 167 charged — including an 11-year-old boy — and the capital's prison cells were overflowing. Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said it had teams of lawyers working 24 hours a day to help police decide whether to charge suspects, allowing them quickly clear police station cells.

A total of 111 officers and 14 members of the public have been hurt so far in the rioting, including a man in his 60s who was attacked as he attempted to put out a fire started by members of a mob.

Police said the injured man had been tackling a blaze in a garbage bin, when he was set upon by several rioters. "It was quite a grave assault and his condition is causing us some concern," said police commander Simon Foy.

The unrest has been Britain's worst since race riots set London ablaze in the 1980s.

A soccer match scheduled for Wednesday between England and the Netherlands at London's Wembley stadium was canceled to free up police officers for riot duty. Britain's soccer authorities said they were in talks with police to see whether this weekend's season-opening matches of the Premier League could still go ahead in London.

Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a holiday in Italy to deal with the crisis, reversing an earlier decision to remain on his vacation. He recalled Parliament from its summer recess for an emergency debate on the riots Thursday.

Cameron described the scenes of burning buildings and smashed windows as "sickening," but refrained from tougher measures such as calling in the military to help restore order.

"People should be in no doubt that we will do everything necessary to restore order to Britain's streets and to make them safe for the law-abiding," Cameron told reporters after a crisis meeting at his Downing Street office.

Other politicians visited riot sites Tuesday — but for many residents it was too little, too late.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was booed by crowds who shouted "Go home!" in Birmingham, while London Mayor Boris Johnson — who flew back overnight from his summer vacation — was heckled on a shattered shopping street in Clapham, south London.

Johnson said the riots would not stop London from "welcoming the world to our city" for the Olympics.

"We have time in the next 12 months to rebuild, to repair the damage that has been done," he said. "I'm not saying it will be done overnight, but this is what we are going to do."

The violence had its genesis in the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old father of four who was gunned down in Tottenham on Thursday under disputed circumstances.

Police said Duggan was shot dead when officers from Operation Trident — the unit that investigates gun crime in the black community — stopped a cab he was riding in. A protest demanding justice on Saturday devolved into a riot, which spread to neighboring parts of London on Sunday and by Monday had spread across the capital.

Duggan's death resonated in part because it stirred memories of the 1980s, when many black Londoners felt they were disproportionately stopped and searched by police. Their frustration erupted in violent riots in 1985.

But the rioters who've taken to the streets since Sunday have been extremely diverse — those in central England appeared to be mostly white and working class.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating Duggan's shooting, said a "non-police firearm" was recovered at the scene, but that there was no evidence it had been fired, or that Duggan had fired a weapon at police. An inquest into Duggan's death was opened Tuesday, but a full hearing will likely take several months.

Seeking explanations for the unrest, some pointed to rising social tensions in Britain as the government slashes 80 billion pounds ($130 billion) from public spending by 2015 to reduce the country's huge budget deficit, swollen after the country spent billions bailing out its foundering banks.

But many rioters appeared simply to relish the opportunity for unchecked violence Monday night. "Come join the fun!" shouted one youth as looters hit the east London suburb of Hackney.