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LONDON (AFP) – Police were out in force in London on Saturday in a bid to prevent any repeat of England’s worst riots in decades, which left city neighbourhoods smouldering and five people dead.
The number of officers was more than doubled to 16,000 earlier this week, and Home Secretary Theresa May said the extra police numbers would stay on the beat until further notice amid concerns violence could flare up this weekend.
England has had three quieter days following four nights of rioting, arson and looting which led to 1,600 arrests across the country, but politicians and police were taking no chances, even as they clashed on each other’s response to the crisis.
“We will be sustaining the numbers for a period of time,” May said.
“We have had some quieter nights but we are not complacent about that.”
The orgy of violence started in London but the trouble soon spread to other major cities, including Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham.
London’s Metropolitan Police said they arrested 1,144 people, of whom 693 have been charged.
In total across England, 796 people have appeared in court, of whom 122 were under 18. Courts have been working through the night and two-thirds of those charged have been remanded in custody.
Calls for those convicted to be stripped of their state welfare handouts and booted out of publicly-owned housing were receiving growing popular support.
Wandsworth Council local authority in south London became the first to serve an eviction notice, on a tenant whose son has been charged. It will come into effect if he is convicted.
“For too long we’ve taken a too soft attitude towards people that loot and pillage their own community,” Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC television.
“If you do that you should lose your right to the sort of housing that you’ve had at subsidised rates.”
A week on from the initial flare-up of urban violence, debate is raging about how Britain has sunk to such lawlessness.
As fears of renewed violence remained high, a row escalated between police and politicians as both sides sought to deflect blame for the crisis.
The police have been criticised for their reluctance to crack down hard on the first riot in the north London district of Tottenham last Saturday. Critics say the cautious approach encouraged unrest to spread across the capital and then to other English cities.
But senior officers hit back in rare public attacks on political leaders, who last year introduced funding cuts to police forces across Britain as part of a wider package of austerity measures.
Egyptians rally for ‘civil state’

Hundreds clash with riot police in Cairo as they try to resurrect rallies aimed at pushing along promised reforms

(Al Jazeera) – Several hundred protesters have clashed with riot police in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, defying Egypt’s military rulers who are eager to prevent any demonstrations there since forcefully clearing a weeks-long sit-in by youth activists last week.
The demonstrators called for a “civil state” after a visit by Egypt’s ruling general, field marshal Hussein Tantawi.
“Civil, civil” and “down with military rule” they chanted late on Friday.
Brief clashes erupted as demonstrators pelted police with stones and water bottles prompting a response in kind.
But calm quickly returned as another group of demonstrators intervened chanting “peaceful, peaceful. The army and the people are a single hand.”
The protest unfolded after the iftar meal that breaks the daytime fast during the Muslim month of Ramadan.
The demonstration in favour of a civil state came as a counter to a July 30 rally that drew hundreds of thousands of Islamists to Tahrir in a show of support for what they called “Egypt’s Islamic identity”.
Dozens of groups had called for rallies marking a “Friday of love for Egypt” but they decided to postpone the gathering to “be better prepared”, local press reported, although some of them decided to observe iftar.
Tantawi earlier in the day inspected military police deployed in Tahrir square, epicentre of the January-February revolt that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt’s army is eager to prevent rallies in Tahrir Square because activists have used the protests to pressure the military.
Pakistan shooting soldier to die

(BBC) – A Pakistani paramilitary soldier has been sentenced to death for killing an unarmed man in an incident caught on videotape and broadcast on TV.
Sarfaraz Shah, 18, was shot at point-blank range in Karachi in June.
The anti-terrorism court in Karachi found Shahid Zafar guilty of the killing and sentenced six other men to life imprisonment.
The killing sparked public anger and increased complaints of brutality by the security forces.
Judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso also fined Shahid Zafar 200,000 rupees ($2,300).
The judge ordered each of the other defendants - five paramilitaries and a civilian – to pay 100,000 rupees in compensation to Sarfaraz Shah’s family.
The Sindh branch of the Pakistan Rangers paramilitary force had argued that he was caught trying to rob someone, a charge his family denied.
Prosecutor Muhammad Khan Buriro said: “We have found justice. The court has given the right decision.”
A lawyer for the defendants said there would be an appeal.
Death sentences are rarely carried out in Pakistan.
Sarfaraz Shah’s brother, Salik, said: “We are satisfied with the punishment and we hope that the higher courts will also keep them and overturn the appeals of the accused.”
The disturbing video shows a young man in a black T-shirt being dragged by his hair in a public park by a man in plain clothes.
He is pushed towards a group of Sindh Rangers, who are in uniform and armed. The young man pleads for his life as one of the Rangers points a gun at his neck.
A little later, a Ranger shoots him twice at close range, hitting him in the thigh. The young man is seen writhing on the ground, bleeding heavily and begging for help.
The paramilitaries remain close to the injured man but do nothing to help him. Sarfaraz Shah died from his injuries.
The public outcry led to the removal of the Sindh police chief and the director-general of the Sindh branch of the Rangers.
The Rangers are a paramilitary force under the interior ministry.
There are about 10,000 Rangers in Karachi but rights groups say they are not sufficiently trained to deal with keeping civilian order.

US urges states to cut Syria ties

(BBC) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged all countries to cut their political and economic ties with Syria.
She said buying oil and gas from Syria and exporting arms there were giving President Bashar al-Assad “comfort in his brutality.”
Mrs Clinton’s comments came as large anti-government protests continued despite a harsh army crackdown.
Activists said at least 16 people died on Friday as protesters came under fire in towns and cities across the country.
More than 1,700 people have died and tens of thousands have reportedly been arrested since the uprising against the 41-year rule of Assad’s family began in March.
Correspondents say there is little the US can do to directly pressure the Syrian regime, with which it has few ties or shared interests.
So Washington has been stepping up the pressure on Europe, Russia and China, to use the leverage that they do have, and on Friday Mrs Clinton extended the pressure to all those with ties to Damascus.
“We urge those countries still buying Syrian oil and gas, those countries still sending Assad weapons, those countries whose political and economic support give him comfort in his brutality, to get on the right side of history,” she said.
Washington has stopped short of calling for Assad to stand down, instead seeking unity in the international community so Assad cannot say it is only the US or the West that is against him,
But Mrs Clinton reiterated the view that he has “lost the legitimacy to lead and it is clear that Syria would be better off without him”.
The US has imposed sanctions against Damascus and has said these could be increased, while calling on other countries to follow.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait have all recalled their ambassadors from Damascus while Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has described the methods used by the Syrian security forces as “unacceptable.”

Brazil’s gang-fighting judge gunned down

(BBC) – A Brazilian judge renowned for her work against organised crime has been shot dead in Rio de Janeiro State.
Patricia Acioli was gunned down outside her home in the city of Niteroi late on Thursday by masked men travelling on two motorbikes, officials said.
She was best known for convicting members of vigilante gangs and corrupt police officers.
The judge’s family said she had received several death threats, but had not had a police escort.
Witnesses told AFP the gunmen intercepted the mother-of-three’s car as she was arriving at home in Niteroi, just across Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro.
They had fired at least 16 shots, killing the 47-year-old instantly, reports said. Her funeral service was held on Friday in Niteroi.
Brazil’s Supreme Court condemned the killing as an attack on democracy and the rule of law.
“Cowardly crimes against magistrates are an attack on the independence of the judiciary, the state and Brazilian democracy,” Supreme Court President Cezar Peluso said in a statement.
“The preservation of the rule of law in our country demands a rapid investigation of the facts and a rigorous punishment of those responsible for this barbarous act.”
Rio has stepped up its campaign against violent crime ahead of hosting football’s World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, correspondents say.