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Most Tragic Acts of Terrorism in History – King David Hotel Bombing: Israel

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Most Tragic Acts of Terrorism in History – King David Hotel Bombing: Israel

The King David Hotel bombing was a deadly bomb strike by the Irgun, a militant Zionist group, on the headquarters of the British Mandatory authorities of Palestine, located at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

The offensive was carried out on July 22 1946 and was the deadliest attack against the British during the Mandate era (1920-1948). Operating in disguise, Irgun members planted a bomb in the basement of the main building of the hotel, part of which housed the Mandate Secretariat and the British military headquarters.

Telephoned warnings were sent to the main switchboard of the hotel, the Palestine Post newspaper and the French consulate, but no evacuation was carried out, giving rise to much controversy over the reasons why people were not cleared from the building.

The ensuing explosion caused the collapse of the southwestern corner of the southern wing of the hotel. Ninety-one people were killed and 46 were injured, with some of the deaths and injuries occurring in the road outside the hotel and in adjacent buildings.

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Police: Hard to know Taiwan village mudslide toll

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Police: Hard to know Taiwan village mudslide toll

CISHAN, Taiwan — Police said Wednesday that there is no way to know for sure how many people remain buried in the catastrophic mudslide that struck a remote mountain village in Taiwan over the weekend when a typhoon lashed the region.

Survivors fear that hundreds are dead in the southern village of Shiao Lin, and Cishan police chief Lee Chin-lung said efforts to pluck survivors from the village were continuing for a fourth day.

The doomed community of Shiao Lin and its densely foliated surroundings were buried under tons of mud Sunday morning after torrential rain spawned by Typhoon Morakot unleashed the heaviest flooding Taiwan has seen in 50 years.

Morakot, which means “emerald” in the Thai language, struck the Philippines, Taiwan and China and left at least 93 people dead, most of them in Taiwan. It dumped as much as 80 inches (two meters) of rain on the island before moving on to China, where authorities evacuated 1.5 million people and some 10,000 homes were destroyed.

Shiao Lin and its surroundings remain cut off from the outside world. Rains from the typhoon washed out a nearby bridge, and since Sunday the only access has been by military helicopter.

On Tuesday some 120 chopper flights brought about 300 people from Shiao Lin and its surroundings to Cishan, the hardscrabble town in the southern Taiwanese county of Kaohsiung that is serving as the center for rescue operations.

Lee said that 200 of those air lifted out came from Shiao Lin itself, but it was nearly impossible to estimate how many might still be there — either alive or buried under the rubble.

“We’ve got some people out,” Lee said. “But it is extremely hard to know how many remain there.”

Taiwan’s population register says that Shiao Lin has 1,300 inhabitants, though many, Lee said, were believed to be living elsewhere.

Some rescued villagers said that as many as 600 people may have been buried alive when the mudslide hit. On Tuesday, the National Fire Agency put that number at 100, without offering any evidence to support the claim. The military said later that day its rescue missions had located another 200 survivors from Shiao Lin in a nearby field and will try to ferry them out.

On Tuesday, a government helicopter crashed into a mountain as it flew on a rescue mission in the southern county of Pingtung. Li Wen-cheng, an official with the fire department there, said Wednesday that all three people aboard had been found dead.

The official death toll from Typhoon Morakot stands at 63 in Taiwan, while authorities say another 61 are missing. That figure is mostly people killed from flooding and does not include people from Shiao Lin and its surroundings.

Outside of Taiwan, Morakot also claimed 22 lives in the Philippines. After pummeling Taiwan, Morakot slammed into China’s Fujian province, bringing heavy rain and winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

Authorities ordered 1.5 million people to leave the area, sending them to schools, government offices, hospitals and the homes of relatives, where they will remain until the rain stops and waters recede, the Civil Affairs Ministry has said.

Morakot damaged or destroyed more than 10,000 homes and flooded over 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) of cropland, the ministry said. It said direct economic losses have been estimated at 9.7 billion yuan ($1.4 billion).

The heavy rains triggered a massive landslide in Pengxi, a town in Wenzhou city of eastern China’s Zhejiang province, destroying seven three-story apartment buildings at the foot of a mountain late Monday, an official surnamed Chen from the Pengxi government told The Associated Press.

Xinhua reported that an unknown number of residents were buried in the landslide, though Chen put the number at six. All were pulled out alive but two later died of their injuries, he said.


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Macroprudential policy Risky business

 THE new big hope of central banks is called macroprudential policy. During the boom, central banks used the fairly blunt instrument of interest rates as their main weapon. But since inflationary pressures were low, thanks to the deflationary shock stemming from China and eastern Europe, rates were kept low. This led to a splurge of asset-backed lending. Meanwhile, banks found easy ways to exploit the rules of the Basle accords – designed to ensure the system was well-capitalised. As a result, when mortgage-backed securities started to plunge in value in 2007, the banks were much less robust than was previously thought.

The Bank of England has set up a financial policy committee, which is just starting the arduous task of sorting out which principles it should follow and which policy buttons it can push. In a paper out today, it sets out its options. It starts by discussing the potential flaws in financial markets such as

incentive distortions which can, for example, arise from contracts that reward short-term performance excessively

informational distortions such as those linked to buyers doubting the quality of assets (adverse selection) or less than fully rational processing of information

co-ordination problems, where collective action, for example to step away from lending in a boom, may be in the interests of individual banks but there is no way to co-ordinate on this outcome

As the paper points out (and as Hyman Minsky famously noticed) there is a tendency for banks to get overexposed to risk in the upswing of a credit cycle. After all, it is the banks that are driving the cycle. As they become more confident about lending against assets, more funds are available to investors/speculators and asset prices rise, increasing the confidence of all involved. As a proportion of GDP, commercial lending to real estate doubled between 2002 and 2008. In the UK banking system, leverage (as measured by total assets to shareholders’ claims) increased from 20:1 to 50:1 within a decade. Both measures ought to have caused alarm but nothing was done.

There is little new in this, as the paper recognizes. Credit cycles have nearly always been marked by lending against property. But property is an illiquid market and prices fall very sharply when the balance of supply and demand shifts, often wiping out of all of a bank’s collateral. Meanwhile, the duration of bank funding was steadily falling, from an average maturity of 10 years in the early 1980s to four years by 2008 (the US followed a similar trajectory). This left the banks very vulnerable to a run on liquidity.

The FPC says the authorities have, in principle, three types of measure to deal with these risks.

those that affect the balance sheets of financial institutions

those that affect the terms and conditions of loans and other financial transactions

those that influence market structures

For example, balance sheet measures include maximum leverage ratios and liquidity buffers; the second group includes caps on loan-to-value ratios and minimum margins; the third includes requirements for disclosure to reduce uncertainty about the market exposure of individual banks, but also the use of central counterparties to clear trades.

The paper then conducts an excellent and clear-eyed assessment of the pros and cons of these measures, without coming to any definite conclusion (the paper is part of a consultation process). What is clear is that the authorities cannot rely on just one or two measures, esepcially given the proved willingness of banks to game the system. Of course, the authorities cannot prevent all future financial crises, but they can still be a lot more alert than they were in the early 2000s. The paper shows the FPC is making a good start.

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