Monday, August 24, 2015

China stocks tank, hits global markets

Continuing slumps in Chinese stocks have hit global markets with nearly all indices around the world showing signs of instability [BBC / CNN].

Government support measures have failed to allay investor concerns and China's stocks plunged the most since 2007 [Bloomberg / Telegraph].

Shanghai Composite was down 8.5% at close, the biggest drop since 2007 and erasing gains for 2015. Meanwhile the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lost 5.8% and Futures on the CSI 300 Index declined around 9.5%.


Other Asian markets have been particularly hard hit. Equity markets also fell sharply. "It's not pretty," Bloomberg's anchor announced, "it's red, it's deep red."

Global equity markets were also hard hit and commodity markets slumped to a 16 year low [Bloomberg / WSJ].

Raw materials are in retreat as supplies outstrip demand amid forecasts for the slowest Chinese growth since 1990. The largest user of energy, grains and metals was much weaker than anyone expected in the first half of the year, according to Ivan Glasenberg, head of commodity trader Glencore Plc. Chinese shares plunged after U.S. stocks sank last week.

"It's being fuelled by the large drop in the Chinese stock market today, which is making people nervous about the management of the Chinese economy, which has direct implications for commodities," Ric Spooner, a chief market strategist at CMC Markets Asia Pty, told Bloomberg.

Warning signs such as softer imports and exports have fanned fears of falling demand for raw materials in the world's second largest economy and had already rocked commodity markets last month [Guardian]. Industrial metals like copper and aluminium have been particularly hard hit, falling to multi-year lows.

European markets hit

European markets have been hit heavily following the falls in the Asian markets. Stock markets in London, Paris and Frankfurt all opened sharply lower as fears of a Chinese economic slowdown continued to haunt investors.

London's FTSE 100 index was down by 2.5% in early trade, while major markets in France and Germany also opened down by more than 3%.

In addition, oil prices are slumping to six year lows, as traders worry about slowing growth in the worth's second largest economy [BBC].

Continuing falls

Worsening economic data and signs of capital outflows are undermining unprecedented government attempts to shore up the China's $6 trillion stock market.

"This is a real disaster and it seems nothing can stop it," Chen Gang, Shanghai-based chief investment officer at Heqitongyi Asset Management Company told Bloomberg.

The downward trends begun in late June and despite continued government intervention there has been no sign of stability in the Chinese stock market. July saw the biggest losses in six years with the Shanghai composite index down 14% for the month [Guardian].

Indeed, the uncertainty has only fueled the retreat, and there are signs that many Western companies are starting to bail on China.

The Chinese slowdown is forcing many Western companies to take a long hard look at their businesses in the Middle Kingdom. Many have already reduced investments, costs and product lines, as well as implementing initiatives to tackle increasing bad debts [Business Insider].

For those who believe China's economic slowdown is worsening and risks from spiralling debt and wasteful investment are propelling the country toward a financial crisis, the spectre of capital flight lurks behind each new data point [FT].

Optimistic long term view

Many analysts have said that in the long-term there is little to worry about and that China will eventually recover.

"I'm optimistic long-term and medium-term that China will come back. Short-term, we need to manage through the drought that we see," said Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO of Swiss-based industrial conglomerate ABB.

"We are in correction territory at the moment" Ian Harnett of Absolute Strategy Research told Bloomberg TV, whilst speculating that Chinese authorities would eventually "bring things around".

Overall economists expect mild capital outflows from China to continue, but most analysts do not see a major cause for alarm. They note that China's foreign exchange reserves are still by far the world's largest and that a significant chunk of capital outflow is due to intentional policy choices by the Chinese government, rather than panicked investors seeking an exit.

Seeing red

But while Western commentators and economists remain generally optimistic, many of those in China are seeing red.

China's stock markets are dominated by individual investors, and it is they who have been hardest hit. For more than a year the market only went up and everyone felt richer. But as the markets crash the credibility of the government is at stake [BBC].

"In the beginning I thought the government was trying to do its best," one young investor told the [BBC]. "But now I'm really angry. They just cheated."

"People trusted the government but the government let them down. It encouraged people to buy stocks but it's turned out to be a joke. The lesson is never trust the government."

tvnewswatch, London, UK

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bangkok terrorist bomb kills 17, injures dozens

A bomb placed on a motorcycle exploded on Monday [17th August] just outside a Hindu shrine in the centre of the Thai capital. Local media reported that four foreigners were amongst up to 27 people killed and 80 others injured by the blast just outside the Erawan shrine. Early reports suggested that only 12 had died with Reuters reporting that as many as 27 had perished.

A government spokesperson told Reuters that the bombing was aimed at destroying the economy and the tourism industry. "The perpetrators intended to destroy the economy and tourism because the incident occurred in the heart of the tourism district," Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told Reuters.

There have also been suggestions the attack may have deliberately charged Chinese tourists. Thailand's Chinese-language newspaper Sing Sian Daily has hypothesized that global Islamist terrorist organizations could be trying to send Bangkok a message over its recent forcible repatriation of 109 Uyghurs to China.

Other groups that are likely to be responsible for the attacks, according to the paper, are Muslim separatists based in Thailand's restive south, and anti-junta Red Shirts. The attack has been denounced by former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra as well as her brother Thaksin, who remains in exile.

The attack came during the rush hour at a very busy intersection situated near to five star hotels and shopping centres. Witnesses described a scene of canage with body parts everywhere and at least 6 people under sheets.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. However, Thai forces are fighting a low-level Muslim insurgency in the predominantly Buddhist country's south, but those rebels have rarely launched attacks outside their ethnic Malay heartland. [CNN / BBC / Sky News / Reuters / Shanghaiist]

tvnewswatch, London, UK

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Radical cleric Anjem Choudary charged with terror offences

The radical preacher Anjem Choudary has been arrested and charged with inviting support for Islamic State militants, Scotland Yard has confirmed.

He is accused of "inviting support" for so-called Islamic State , also known as ISIL, between 29th June 2014 and 6th March this year.

He and another man, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, have each been charged with one offence under section 12 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Both men were due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday.

Choudary, 48, of Ilford in east London, and Mohammed Rahman, 32, of Whitechapel in east London, were arrested on 25th September last year on suspicion of being members of IS, which is a proscribed organisation.

Proscription means membership of the militant group is a criminal offence, and that the organisation cannot lawfully operate in the UK.

Sue Hemming, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said, "It is alleged that Anjem Choudary and Mohammed Rahman invited support for ISIS [also known as IS or ISIL] in individual lectures which were subsequently published online."

Choudary smirked as he arrived at Southwark police station on Wednesday to answer bail. He was charged shortly afterwards and later taken to Westminster Magistrates Court.

Following the announcement that criminal proceedings had begun, the CPS spokesperson said that both men were entitled to a fair trial. "It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings," she said

[BBC / Sky News / Daily Mail / Telegraph / Guardian / Fox News]

tvnewswatch, London, UK

Incredulity & shock as police probe Ted Heath for child sex

British police are investigating the former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath in connection with historical instances of sex abuse of children. But friends and former colleagues have described the allegations as 'incredulous'. [BBCTelegraph / Daily Mail / Channel Four News].

There has been many comments on forums and social media suggesting the accusations were unfounded and that the supposed victims were just seeking compensation.

But why should police not investigate this ex-PM just because he's dead? Should investigations have been dropped following Savile's death?

Heath's possible paedophile behaviour could not have occurred without involving others, thus an investigation could potentially lead to actual prosecutions.

Seeking redress or compensation

Many people have suggested that victims are only seeking compensation and questioned why they have not come forward before. However, child abuse victims rarely seek compensation in terms of money and merely seek peace of mind, justice and the knowledge that they are believed. Indeed, just as with Savile and others, many people came forward to make allegations about Heath before his death but weren't believed.

Rumours & conspiracy theories

In fact several recent articles also allude to rumours about Heath's activities having circulated for a number of years but those discussing such matters had themselves been discredited for being eccentric nutters, or been arrested and deported.

Barrister Michael Shrimpton is well known for his bizarre conspiracy theories, some of which stretch the imagination. There is an interview on YouTube in which Shrimpton makes many of the allegations now being investigated, including possible complicity to abduction & murder.

Discrediting accusers

However, because of the association with David Icke as well as Shrimpton's other bizarre theories, the allegations were seen as ridiculous. Indeed Shrimpton was further discredited after his arrest & being jailed for calling a close colleague of former Defence Secretary Philip Hammond in April 2012 to say that a nuclear warhead had been stashed in an east London hospital and was going to be used to attack either the Queen, the Olympic Stadium, or the opening ceremony [Daily Mail / Mirror /].

Others who have previously investigated the Heath allegations have found themselves expelled from the country. Newsweek's Leah McGrath Goodman expulsion from the UK after investigating claims of sexual abuse by senior politicians is seen by some as rather suspicious and convenient [LBC].

Others were raided and threatened by police such as the UK journalist Don Hale who was given a dossier naming VIP paedophiles by Barbara Castle MP. Soon after receiving the documents he was raided by Special Branch and threatened should he publish any details [Daily Mail / ABC / google-law blogspot].

Accusations 'incredulous'

Of course, the ex-PM may indeed be entirely innocent, and the rumours may be simply that - just rumours. Robert Vaudry, private secretary to Heath from 1988 to 1992, has expressed his astonishment at the accusations. "I spent four years working for Ted and we ran his life like a military campaign. We knew what he was doing every minute of every day through that four year period so to think there were things going on that we weren't aware of, very surprised and shocked, incredulous really,"  Vaudry told the BBC.

Others also stood up for the former PM. Former Tory MP for Northampton South, Brian Binley, who worked in Sir Edward's office, said, "I find it very difficult to believe from the Ted Heath that I knew. It's easy to smear people not around." [Daily Mail]

Investigation warranted

But while many might think the allegations against a former British PM are fanciful they should nonetheless be thoroughly investigated.

It is not the first time that allegations against high profile individuals have been made or uncovered. In the 1980s Belgium was at the centre of similar allegations. A man named Marc Dutroux was arrested in connection with the abduction of children who were abused by men involved in a paedophile ring which, it is alleged, extended to persons in authority and even the government.

There was widespread anger and frustration among Belgians due to police errors, the general slowness of the investigation and Dutroux's claims that he was part of a sex ring that included high-ranking members of the police force and government [Independent].

But it took more than a decade before Dutroux was finally convicted, and any suggestion that he was part of a wider sex ring dismissed. Indeed there has been no in depth investigation into whether members of the police force and government were involved [Guardian / YouTube].

Dutroux may have been convicted and jailed, but allegations continue, and there are indications that paedophile rings still exist. Regina Louf, who claimed to be a survivor of child abuse within the Dutroux sex ring, was dismissed as a fantasist and liar. Meanwhile some 20 Dutroux accusers have died in mysterious circumstances.

As late as 2008 there appeared to be evidence that Belgian sex rings were still operating with leaked police documents appearing to indicate that Madeleine McCann was snatched to order. According to an email sent by the Metropolitan Police a child abduction ring based in Belgium placed an order for a "young girl" [Telegraph].

Wake-up calls

The Savile allegations may have finally shaken the current establishment enough to investigate not only past abuse but also any existing sex rings. The Sidney Cooke investigations and subsequent prosecution of the so-called Dirty Dozen may be only the tip of the iceberg [BBC / YouTube ]

In the past many might people have been ignorant or oblivious of the risks of child abuse. For too long the abused have been ignored [YouTube]. For too long those appointed to serve and protect the public have instead served and protected their own debauched activities.

Such rings are not confined to one country. They exist in the US, Britain and across Europe and Asia. And individuals involved range from common workers to people in law enforcement, the judiciary and government.

There are those who will make false allegations against individuals for all sorts of reasons. But accusations should still be investigated properly, even if the person concerned is ordinary or high-ranking, alive or dead.

Should Sir Edward Heath be found to be guilty of having abused children the damage to the establishment may well be profound. But is is only proper to investigate and seek to uncover the truth and determine if others, who may well be alive, were also involved.

tvnewswatch, London, UK