Public Sector Strikes: What Is Affected?


What’s set to be the biggest strike since the 1979 Winter of Discontent is taking place today – but what services have been affected?


Early government figures suggest that almost three in four schools are being hit, although that number could rise.

The Department for Education (DfE) believes that more than half of England’s 21,700 state schools (58%) are closed, with a further 13% partially shut.

Headteachers, teachers and classroom assistants from all the education unions are taking part in the action.



In England, 40,000 outpatient appointments are being rescheduled, 500 non-urgent operations postponed and 12,000 patients will have diagnostic tests rearranged.

This estimate is based on 20% of the workforce taking part, including nurses and radiographers.

In Scotland, more than 3,000 operations and appointments will not go ahead.

Emergency services and operations are expected to continue as normal.


Heathrow Airport has warned passengers face 12-hour queues if, as predicted, 18,000 border staff join the walk-out.

Civil servants have been asked to step in and embassy staff may be flown in from abroad to help man immigration booths.

British Airways has offered its customers the chance to switch their flight to a different day.

In Northern Ireland, the industrial action means the public transport network will be shut down.

In the north of England, the Tyne and Wear Metro will be affected but other networks, including London transport, should run as normal.


Bin collections, street cleaning and council-run leisure centres are affected.

With traffic wardens joining the strike, parking tickets may not be issued – but only in some areas.

Jobcentres are shut, Whitehall departments will operate with reduced staffing levels and MPs will find their staff canteen closed.


Cases may be postponed and courthouses closed for the day. Any one expecting to take part in a court case would be advised to check locally.


Tests have been cancelled as examiners are among those joining the action over pension reforms.


Union rallies are being held across England, Wales and Scotland. Details of which areas will be affected can be found on the False Economy website.

Driver Of School Coach Sacked For Playing Sudoku While Driving


A coach driver has been sacked after being caught on camera doing a Sudoku while driving children to school.

He was captured balancing a puzzle book on his steering wheel in a picture taken by a pupil on a mobile phone.

The employee was also seen filling in the answers with a pen while travelling in early morning traffic, according to the 12-year-old snapper.

‘When I saw the photo I was really shocked,’ said the boy’s mother who blew the whistle on the driver taking pupils to Ferndown Upper and Middle schools in Dorset.

‘Not only was he driving, he also had children on the coach and was responsible for their safety.

‘It was a big coach and could have  potentially caused a lot of damage had it been involved in an accident.

‘It wasn’t ever our intention that the driver should lose his job but we wanted to draw it to the company’s attention to make sure it never happened again.’

The driver, who has not been identified, was dismissed after Cavendish Liner Coach Company launched an investigation.

Cindy Lalani, business manager at Ferndown Upper School, said: ‘We feel that the bus company took prompt action, which we are very happy with.

‘They suspended him immediately, a disciplinary procedure followed and a  decision was made to dismiss the driver.’

My Experience

Few people who disclose bad minds, their minds and visions should remain with people alike.

My page is so clean and so white, needs no bad minds and no bad visions tonight.

Saleh Jaber

Sent from my HTC Sensation XL

Apple To Launch ‘Voice-activated’ TV Dreamt Up By Steve Jobs


Apple is developing a TV set that reacts to a viewer's voice and gestures – and it could be available by summer next year, according to reports.

Dubbed the iTv (although it is highly unlikely the company will be allowed to use this name), Apple hopes its latest product will be as ground-breaking and transformative as the iPhone was to mobile phones and the iPod was to portable music players.

According to the Guardian, Japanese firm Sharp will begin commercial production of the hi-tech flatscreen TVs in February before a release in the latter half of 2012.

Before his death last month, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told his biographer of his plans for a revolutionary TV set that connects to cloud services to stream films.

He said: 'I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use.

'It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.'

In October, Apple filed a patent for 'real time video control' using the movements of users – and it is believed this as well as the technology used on the iPhone 4S's voice-controlled personal application, Siri, will be utilised for the TV set.

Apple already has a TV box that connects the TV to the internet and can be controlled by the iPhone, but it has so far failed to take off commercially.

Paris International Boat Show 2011


Yachtmakers from around the world are gearing up to launch new products at the Nautic boat show, which gets underway next weekend in Paris.

Nautic traditionally focuses on the newest craft from luxury French names — although there is plenty on offer for those of varying budgets and interests.

Chief among the stars will be Bénéteau which has launched a slew of new models recently it intends to showcase in Paris.

Bénéteau‘s sister brand Jeanneau will also be debuting four new models — the Sun Odyssey 379, 439, 509 (below) and 44DS

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 509 468x311 Paris International Boat Show 2011

While Dufour will show its new 36 Performance yacht, expected to be the first in a forthcoming range of sleeker boasts.

One of the trends of the show is expected to be the return of the outboard motor, with new larger models from both Bénéteau and Jeanneau indicating the progress made on reducing consumption, weight and pollution.

Although the ten-day Nautic show is near-heaven for boat lovers, it’s designed as a day out for the whole family, with special exhibitions planned on everything from marine animals to model boating.

In Pavilion I, organizers are to construct a sports pool called ‘The Spot’ to showcase watersports products from dinghies to catamarans.

Stand Up Paddle board race 468x312 Paris International Boat Show 2011

The Spot will also receive the 100 competitors of the 10km Stand-Up Paddleboard race, a picturesque trip down the Seine which concludes at Porte de Paris on Dec 4.

Around 250,000 visitors attend the Nautic show, making it a show to rival the likes of the enormous Boot Dusseldorf event held at the end of January.

Organizers will be hoping for a more positive result than October’s event in Genoa, which saw a 13 percent drop in attendence compared to 2010.

Nautic — the Paris International Boat Show — runs December 3-11 at Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris.

Paris International Boat Show 2011 468x609 Paris International Boat Show 2011

Youssou N’Dour To Enter Politics


He is the son of a car mechanic who began by hustling pirated CDs in car parks and went on to become one of the most influential recording artists in the world.

Now Youssou N'Dour is putting his music career on hold so he can enter politics ahead of presidential elections in his native Senegal next February.

"I will free myself of all artistic commitments from 2 January next year to enter the political arena," N'Dour told a cheering crowd at the weekend. "For me, there are two Senegals. The Senegal of the have-nots and Senegal of the haves. My concern is the Senegal of the have-nots," the musician added on his own TV station, TCM, in the west African country.

N'Dour's plan has been greeted with wild optimism by his many fans, but not everyone is thrilled.

"The political class is scrambling around to figure out his next move," said Amadou Diop, an advisor to Idrissa Seck, a former PM and key oppostion figure. "Even if he doesn't contest the presidency itself, his decisions are going to have a big impact. Anyone he throws his weight behind is going to claw a lot of votes.

"His political movement is going to put pressure on politicians. He's loved by Senegalese, by music fans, and he's a shrewd businessman who has created jobs – this is what the people want."

Best known globally for his songs drawing on Senegal's traditional mbalax music, N'Dour is also feted at home as an entrepreneur. His announcement came on the back of the launch of Fekke Maci Boolé – which means I Am Involved in the local Wolof dialect – a social consciousness movement he says will "disturb" the country's entrenched political elites. It is not clear if N'Dour plans to challenge Abdoulaye Wade, the 85-year old president who has been in power since 2000, but his declaration has stung politicians.

N'Dour has repeatedly said Wade – whose age is sometimes disputed – should not stand for re-election after winning two free and fair polls. With a string of hit albums, such as Absa Gueye and 7 Seconds, the musician's words will worry Wade, who has in the past tried to shut down N'Dour's newspaper and TV station.

Long seen as a haven of democracy while most of its West African neighbours were ravaged by strongmen and coups, Senegal has suffered popular protests this year. In February, Wade sparked a storm of discontent after announcing plans to stand for a third term, saying the two-term limit did not apply to him because he only introduced it during his second term. That helped trigger a movement known as Y'En A Marre – French for Fed Up! – headed by a group of rappers and a journalist.

Fadel Barro, one of the founders, said the idea was born after he spent almost 24 hours sitting in his darkened flat due to power cuts this year. "There comes a moment when you think, enough is just enough. Life in Senegal is getting more and more expensive and the president decides to buy planes and build a $27m statue," he said, referring to a 160-foot tall bronze African Renaissance statue.

In June, when Wade again suggested tinkering with the constitution to lower the votes required to 25 percent from 50 percent, thousands of youths took to the street with Y'En a Marre. Wade backed down from the amendment.

The elections are due in February 2012.

Jail In South Korea Patrolled By Robot Warders


Inmates planning to escape from jail in South Korea will soon have to overcome more than prison bars, high walls and watchtowers.

For one high-security facility is to be given a new weapon in the war on crime – robot prison guards that can detect suspicious behaviour among inmates.

Three of the 5ft-tall robots will begin work as warders at a correctional facility in the southeastern city of Pohang early next year. If the trial run proves successful, more robots will be drafted in to patrol the country's prisons.

The robots are designed to patrol the corridors of corrective institutions, monitoring conditions inside the cells. Sensors in the machines can detect changes in a prisoner's condition – such as aggression or suicidal tendencies – and then inform human officers.

The robots, which move about on four wheels,  can also put felons in contact with officers through a remote conversation function.     

Professor Lee Baik-Chul of the Asian Forum For Corrections said: 'Unlike CCTV that just monitors cells through screens, the robots are programmed to analyse various activities of those in prison and identify abnormal behavior.

'As we're almost done with creating its key operating system, we are now working on refining its details to make it look more friendly to inmates.

'That’s a concern. But the robots are not terminators. Their job is not cracking down on violent prisoners. They are helpers. When an inmate is in a life-threatening situation or seriously ill, he or she can reach out for help quickly.'

South Korea is at the forefront of the study of robotics and has already created models that can teach English, carry out household chores and even guard the border with North Korea.

Violent Video Games Do Make People More Aggressive


Violent video games can alter the brain in just one week and make players more aggressive, according to researchers.

A study has found that key areas in the brain suffer reduced activity, and leave it physically altered.

The findings will fuel the debate over the impact that violent games have on regular players and links to anti-social behaviour.

Scientists at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis took a group of 22 men aged 18-29 and performed MRI scans on them.

They then divided the group in half, and while one group was asked to play violent video games for at least 10 hours a week while the second group played none.

According to the Sunday Times, the researchers found that the effects on the brain were discovered in the left inferior frontal lobe and the anterior cingulate cortex.

An abstract of the report which will be published at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America later this week said subjects experienced alterations to their brain.

The report said: 'Subjects showed relatively less activation in prefontal regions associated with executive function following one week of violent video game playing.

'This investigation provides the first longitudial, experimental investigation of video game play on brain activity.'

The results could be concerning as they seem to show that the games cause brain plasticity – where the brain alters to accommodate demands put on it.

However they found that when gamers stopped playing, their brains returned to normal.

The research comes after another study by from Texas A&M University which monitored 165 young people over three years to evaluate the effects of video games on anti-social behavior.

They found no connection between the players behaviour and game playing.

World’s Largest Naan Bread Baked In Six-metre Wide Oven In China


The world's largest naan bread has been created in China by a local guru after officials had to build a giant chopping board and six-metre wide oven to make it possible.

In a time of economic hardship some people may not be too keen on their government spending money on creating a huge naan bread.

However, that didn't concern civil servants in Qiemo County, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China, who decided to use taxpayer's money to build a huge chopping board that was used to create the bread.

The naan, which was baked in a specially built oven, was 2.75m in diameter and contained meat dumplings.

The super naan was made with 30kg mutton, 125kg flour, 16kg onion and 90kg water. Naan guru Memeti was aided by his four apprentices and 12 local workers and it took ten hours to finish.

Government officials will no doubt argue that the naan was a stroke of genius. Not only did it serve as a proud moment for the people but the naan was also divided up and handed out to locals.

Porsche Design Tower Complete With Car Elevators


The Porsche Design Tower project will allow owners to ride their vehicles into a robotic elevator system that drops them and their vehicles at their doorstep.

The $560 million tower will rise in Sunny Isles Beach as part of a collaboration between Porsche Design Group and a local developer, Gil Dezer.

“After the resident pulls over and switches off the engine, a robotic arm that works much like an automatic plank will scoop up the car and put it into the elevator.”

“Once at the desired floor, the same robotic arm will park the car, leaving the resident nearly in front of his front door.”

The condo will have 132 units over 57 stories, with larger units sporting up to four parking spaces per unit.