UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from Global News Journal:

Germany’s Finance Minister takes aim at the City

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Has German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck finally said what many world leaders think but are afraid to say? That the British government won't sign up to meaningful reform of financial markets because it is too worried about what it would mean for the country’s most famous cash cow, the City of London.

 

The City, which accounts for around 35 percent of global foreign exchange turnover, has been a popular target for critics of capitalism for years. But it has rarely been singled out so bluntly as a problem by one of Britain’s close allies.

 

Even for a man not known for holding his tongue, Steinbrueck’s remark on Wednesday that Downing Street was impeding reform because it had “practically aligned” its interests with the City, was unusually undiplomatic. Just days before global leaders meet at a Group of Eight summit in Italy, Steinbrueck suggested the British government was plotting a “restoration” of the pre-crisis order to protect its own interests. The United States, by contrast, was now open to reform, he said.

 

Rather than attempting to smooth ruffled feathers when she addressed parliament on Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel picked up the thread, saying she would not tolerate efforts to stall reform at the G8 summit, though she did not name Britain.

Online vote to decide Saatchi show finalists

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The Saatchi Gallery in London, known for its role in launching conceptual Britart in the 1990s, is collaborating with Google to exhibit the work of winners of an international online photography prize competition.

More than 3,500 student photographers from around the world submitted images to try and win a chance to show their work at Saatchi, a trip to London, 5,000 pounds and to illustrate personalised iGoogle Internet homepages.

The best and worst of taxis around the world

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Live in a big city, ride public transportation every day, and chances are that you pay very close attention to your experience when riding in a taxi cab.

From grumpy drivers to fanciful detours, taking a taxi through the congested heart of a major city can easily become the most irritating — and costly — part of your day.

Taste of anarchy in skill-testing Tate exhibit

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The Tate Modern art gallery in London is reviving an interactive installation that was forced to shut in 1971 due to the “exceptionally exuberant and energetic participation” it provoked in visitors.

The work by artist Robert Morris on show in the Turbine Hall as part of a four-day festival titled “The Long Weekend” is constructed mainly of unpainted wood and includes such objects as a balance beam, a caged ramp, a rolling tube and a sloped climbing wall.

from The Great Debate:

New rules won’t end London’s golden lure

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-- Alexander Smith is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

alex-smithNew regulations may be cooked up to curb the excesses of its bankers but London will always attract those who believe its streets are paved with gold.

Some predict that the financial crisis spells the end for London as a major global financial centre, arguing it has thrived on lax regulation and a quasi-tax haven status and that the regulatory backlash which inevitably follows such a catastrophic economic debacle will suffocate the innovation and the financial incentives which have driven the growth of services in the British capital.

from Environment Forum:

Ghost bikes appear with spring in London

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Spring is making a cautious appearance in London now and with it a growing number of cyclists are venturing out onto the streets of the capital.

I also noticed, as I rode south towards the Smithfield meat market last week, another less welcome sign of the season -- a ghost bike. This one had only been there for a few days.

Snow event?

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When in Rome . . .

As I watched the snow fall gently from London skies on Sunday night, I asked an acquaintance if I would have to go to work the next day.

My Canadian “snow radar” — fine-tuned from living in the snowy cities of Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax — was telling me that there wasn’t going to be much accumulation, but given the regular daily London transit delays in fair weather during the rush hour, I had a gleeful feeling a “snow day” might be in store.

from Photographers' Blog:

Snowed under

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So what do you do when the TV and radio news are all telling you not to travel, and then you receive a group SMS from your company saying stay at home?

Well it's the worse snow storm to hit London in 18 years and all you want to do is get out there and shoot it.

Will there ever be the “right type of snow” in Britain?

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The last time round when there was such widespread travel chaos in Britain due to snow was quite some time ago….it was in 1991 – the year the “wrong type of snow” was born – British Rail’s ill-conceived attempt to explain why the railways had come to a virtual standstill after heavy snowfall.

The “wrong type” of just about anything has since been used to explain why the country’s creaking transport system is grinding to a halt ….remember the one about the “wrong type of leaves” on the tracks?

from Davos Notebook:

London — warmer and cheaper

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London is cheaper and warmer, at least compared with Davos, says London Mayor Boris Johnson.

"The fall in the pound is of huge value to London's exports and all sterling-denominated assets. We're seeing a very impressive effect here. We take advantage of the upside and the upside is that the pound is competitive," Johnson told Reuters.

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