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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 August 2011

News in brief

Zero tolerance

Prime minister David Cameron has invited William Bratton, the former US police chief credited with 'zero tolerance' policing, to advise the government.

Bratton, a former military policeman who served in Vietnam, rose through the ranks to head the Boston Transit Police and then in 1990 he headed the New York Transit Police where he brought an aggressive proactive enforcement policy.

"In 1994 he was crowned urban America's alpha cop: New York police commissioner under mayor Rudolph Guiliani." (Lockdown America by Christian Parenti). He later fell out with Guiliani and then ran the Los Angeles police department for seven years.

Bratton's right-hand man was Jack Maple, who dressed like a 1930s gangster and who once described 'taking down suspects' as "better than sex".

What New Yorkers got was a terrifying 'quality of life'. First to be targeted were the squeegee operators, then school truants, bus drivers, street vendors, cabbies, and 'anyone who fitted the drug dealer/user profile'.

Arrests soared as did complaints against the police, but by swamping the streets with SWAT and canine teams and targeting misdemeanour offences, crime rates slumped. Soon every city was aping New York's zero tolerance.

But zero tolerance suffered a legitimation crisis in February 1999 when Amadou Diallo, a 22-year-old immigrant from Guinea who worked as a street vendor, was killed in a hail of bullets from NYPD's elite undercover Street Crimes Unit. The cops desperately tried to find anything that might justify the shooting but to no avail. The killing fired a massive backlash (sounds familiar?). Even US president Bill Clinton said he was "deeply concerned". However, zero tolerance remained.


Teetering economy

If chancellor George Osborne was expecting a manufacturing-led economic recovery then the figures for industrial output and the trade balance in June will have given him a rude shock.

According to the Office for National Statistics manufacturing output fell by 0.4% in June. The broader measure of industrial output which includes oil, gas and mining fell 1.6% in the last quarter - the biggest fall since the height of the recession at the beginning of 2009. It shows that growth in this sector of the economy has slowed to a standstill.

Exports also fell in June because of the economic slowdown in the US and Europe resulting in the trade deficit widening from £4 billion in May to £4.5 billion in June.

Meanwhile the Bank of England has cut its growth forecast for the UK economy from 1.8% to 1.5% for 2011, warning that "headwinds are growing stronger by the day".

At best the UK economy is flatlining, at worst it's teetering on the edge of a double-dip recession.

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In The Socialist 17 August 2011:


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Con-Dems to blame for anger of youth - mass, trade union-led workers' response needed

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North London Unity demo - 'Workers and youth, unite and fight'

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