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February 10, 2015

Four die in dump truck crash in Bath, England

Four die in dump truck crash in Bath, England

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

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Four people have died and at least four more have been seriously injured after a dump truck hit multiple vehicles and two pedestrians in Bath in South West England. The incident occurred at around 1600 UTC yesterday when the truck rolled down a hill on Lansdown Lane in the city’s Upper Weston district in what witness accounts given to police suggest was an accident avoidance attempt.

The four fatalities died at the scene of the crash, on a steep hill close to Weston All Saints Primary School. Three people injured were taken to Royal United Hospital in Bath; one was critically injured and transported to Bristol’s Southmead Hospital by air ambulance. A number of others also received minor injuries, leading to the primary school being turned into a temporary hospital. Eyewitness accounts reported by ITV News West Country indicated the truck driver repeatedly beeped his horn in the seconds before the collision, at a time when a number of children would have been leaving the school.

Police closed off the road to allow for investigative work. Speaking on behalf of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Chief Superintendent Caroline Peters, who described the collision scene as “one of carnage”, explained: “We have a collision team of investigators who are trying to assess the cause of this accident and we are working very closely with the fire service and South West Ambulance”.



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December 3, 2012

UK Wikinews Shorts: December 3, 2012

UK Wikinews Shorts: December 3, 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

UK Wikinews Shorts: December 3, 2012

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A compilation of brief news reports for Monday, December 3, 2012.


Inverness police seize £45,000 worth of heroin

The Northern Constabulary have conducted a seizure of a significant amount of heroin in Inverness, in the Scottish Highlands, as part of a police operation there. The drugs, which were thought to be worth £45,000 on the street, were seized Saturday after Northern Constabulary officers had made enquiries.

Three people are scheduled to make an appearance at Inverness Sheriff Court in relation to this seizure today.

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Bristol police appeal for help to find ‘vulnerable’ missing man

Avon and Somerset Constabulary have appealed for public assistance in finding 59-year-old man Stephen Cooper after he was recently reported missing. The South West England force has described the man, who is from the Fishponds area of Bristol, as “vulnerable”.

Cooper was sighted leaving Rosemary Residential Home, where he resides, at 0530 UTC Saturday. At the time he was wearing black shoes, a grey polar fleece, dark-coloured trousers and a blue jacket. The force have reported the possibility of Cooper travelling to London by train.

Cooper, who suffers from Huntington’s disease and depression because of having the disease, is described as being 5 feet 2 inches tall and having a dressing-covered cut on his forehead.

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June 29, 2012

African Olympians and Paralympians prepare for their London odyssey

African Olympians and Paralympians prepare for their London odyssey

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Friday, June 29, 2012

With only a few days before final nominations for spots to compete at the London Olympic Games and little less than a month until the start of them, African Olympians are trying to finalize their selections while preparing for their moment on the Olympic stage. Meanwhile, with two months before their own event, African Paralympians continue their own preparations this week including qualification competitions and tournaments that aid in team selection.

With a £25,000 grant on offer to any Olympic team willing to base themselves in the United Kingdom ahead of the Games, several national delegations took advantage of the opportunity to arrive early to train, acclimate and get the full Olympic experience. Gambia, Lesotho, and Egypt are a few countries that took advantage of the grant program. Egypt’s athletes will spend two weeks at the Forum sports complex in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Gambia’s Olympians will prepare for the Games at the University of York’s Huntington Athletics Stadium.

Eight Algerian boxers are making the trip to London, with Abdelhafid Benchebla leading his country’s Olympic delegation. La Tribune is optimistic about the opportunity for the country to capture its first Olympic boxing gold medal since the 2000 Sydney Games but worries that the country does not invest in its sports representatives until it is too late to improve their performance. Olympic judo medalist Ammar Benyekhlef will miss the London Games because of passport problems.

Algeria’s Paralympians are also preparing for London. Earlier this week, the national goalball team participated in a Lithuanian hosted tournament featuring teams from Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Turkey, Brazil, Belgium, the United States of America, and England. The team coach Mohamed Bettahrat talked about the tournament, saying to the French language Algerian papaer La Tribune, “A new opportunity to work with the great nations offered to us to optimize our preparation for the upcoming Paralympic Games. This is a great tournament that brings together renowned this time, the selections that will be present in London, one of our group.” tournament performance played a role in final team selection.

150 of Angola’s Paralympic hopefuls were in Luanda this week competing in the national athletics championship hoping to earn a trip to the London Paralympics. For those qualified, they will then participate in a training camp starting on July 7 in Huíla before traveling to Portugal on July 14 ahead of the Games. They then leave for London on August 4.

Past Kenyan Paralympians Joseph Kibunja and Henry Wanyoike in Hong Kong a few years ago
Image: Dennislo.

Mandatory Bristol based training has been arranged by the National Olympic Committee of Kenya for nation’s runners ahead of the Games but Kenya’s runners have implied this will disrupt their preparations. Middle-distance runner Silas Kiplagat is quoted in The Star of Nairobi in response to this mandate, “I’m not for the idea because all along, we have been training in high altitude and switching to the low altitude in Bristol is likely to be counter productive.” The Bristol idea is also opposed by Athletics Kenya, with the organization’s chairman Isaiah Kiplaga saying “The athletes have put in hard work for the last couple of months for the Olympic Games and Bristol being a low altitude area, it will hurt our medal hopes.” Kenya’s runners are expected to leave for London in two waves, with the first group leaving early next week and the second wave, which includes long distance runners, leaving closer to the start of the Games.

This past Saturday, Kenya’s Ezekiel Kemboi qualified for the London Games at the country’s national championships but his trip to the Games may be in jeopardy as two days ago, he was accused of stabbing a woman in Eldoret. According to Capital FM, Team Kenya has yet to issue a formal response to the allegations.

For two weeks, seven to nine Lesotho Olympians will prepare for the Games in north Wales, in Wrexham. Local Welshmen have been recruited to assist Lesotho competitors in their preparations for the Games, with local organizers looking for potential sparring partners if Lesotho qualifies a boxer. Two Lesotho marathon runners have already qualified. Swimmer Masempe Theko needs alternative arrangements because the Wrexham pool is only 25 meters, half the distance of the Olympic course pool. What strokes Theko will compete in at the Games is still to be determined.

At least two of Liberia’s Olympians go into the Games having competed in their sports at universities in the United States. One attended University of Texas. Another, Jangy Addy, attended the University of Tennessee and will represent the country in the decathlon after having qualified for the event.

Malawi Olympians will be headed to London with their national Olympic committee under a cloud, with the Nyasa Times alleging corruption in the contractor bidding process for facilities and other monetary handouts. The Malawi delegation only manage to qualify its athletes through the Olympic solidarity movement, which allows athletes to compete by invitation after they failed to meet qualifying standards. Fourteen year old Joyce Tafatatha and twenty-three-year old Charlton Nyirenda will represent the country in swimming. Neither swimmer has swum in a 50 meter pool before, practicing in a 25 meter unheated pool at home in Malawi. Charlton goes into the game with a goal of breaking the Malawi record of 25.46 in the 50 meter freestyle swim. Rounding out the Malawi competitors are marathoners John Kayange and Mike Tebulo, and Ambwene Simukonda who will compete in the 400 meter track event. Arriving in London earlier this week, the team is training at University of Gloucestershire’s Oxstalls campus.

According to Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC) President Sani Ndanusa, Nigeria’s athletics competitors go into the Games with medal expectations. In the lead up to London, the country’s Olympic hopefuls participated in most of the major track competitions. The national Olympic Committee has until next week to finalize the list of track and field competitors they will send to London, but they have already made the decision to only send competitors who have made Olympic A qualifying times and scores. The Committee wants to avoid the embarassment of Olympic B qualifying competitors doing poorly at the Games in front of a large population of Nigerians who live in the United Kingdom. One of the Nigerian Olympians has been able to prepare for the world stage by competing at University of Texas as an athlete. Nigeria’s national football team does not have to worry about Olympic preparations as they failed to qualify for the Games in what is seen as a major blow to football in the country.

Rwanda T46 Paralympic competitor Theoneste Nsengimana qualified for the Paralympic Games in the 1500 meter event this past Saturday following a 4.06.05 finish at the Belfort Championship in France. In the process, he set a new national record for the distance in what was only his second international competition, with his first occurring last year at the All Africa Games held in Maputo, Mozambique. Other Rwandan competitors who will join him in London include the national sitting volleyball team, power lifter Théogène Hakizimana and runner Hermas Cliff Muvunyi.

Oscar Pistorius during 2011 World championships Athletics in Daegu
Image: Erik van Leeuwen.

South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius‘s Olympic 400 metre qualifying time efforts have yet to meet with success. At a qualifying race in Benin two days ago, he finished second in a qualifying heat with a time of 46.32 seconds, 1.2 seconds slower than than the required time. He missed the qualifying time again in yesterday’s semi-final when he posted a time of 46.14 in another second place finish. He has one more opportunity to qualify for the Games before Sunday, when the qualification window closes. The double amputee’s efforts to make the Olympic Games has made international news following a 2011 ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that deemed him able to compete against able bodied athletes.

South African triathlete Kate Roberts will be based in Davos until four days before the start of the Games. She will then travel to London, where she will familiarize herself with the Olympic course ahead of the start of her event. She asked The South African to ask South African fans to chant “Hou Bene Hou”, “Go Kate Go” and “Go Vrystaat!” when she is on the Olympic course.

London bound Ugandan Janet Achola, who qualified for the London Olympics earlier this week in the 1500 meter event during the seminfinals at the African Senior Athletics Championships in Benin, made the event final to be run later today. Fellow countryman Viola Chemos is also competing. She needs to set an Olympic qualifying time in the final in order to book her own trip in the 5000 meter event.

With thirty days to go, the British ambassador assisted Zimbabwe Olympians and Paralympians with the biometric requirements for their passports and visas. When they arrive in London, their entry will be expedited. Rower Micheen Thornycroft‘s was one of the first of the Zimbawe Olympic athlete delegation to have her biometric data collected. Competitors will leave for London on July 15 with swimmer Kirsty Coventry, marathon runners Wirimayi Juwawo, Cutbert Nyasango and Sharon Tavengwa, triathlete Chris Felgate and rowers Jamie Fraser-Mackenzie and Thornycroft having already qualified but some spots for London still available at the African Senior Athletics Championships in Benin happening this week.

The 2012 London Olympic Games get underway on July 27 and will run until August 13. The Paralympics get underway on August 29 and will run until 9 September.



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August 9, 2011

Rioting develops throughout England

Rioting develops throughout England – Wikinews, the free news source

Rioting develops throughout England

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

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A fireman puts out a fire in Tottenham caused by rioters.
Image: Christophe Maximin.

Rioting, theft, vandalism and other acts of violence are currently occurring in various cities throughout England. There is a substantial rioting problem, primarily in the capital of London, which has spread to the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Nottingham.

David Cameron, the current UK Prime Minister, condemned the violent acts, referring to them as “sickening”, proclaiming that those involving themselves the incident “will feel the full force of the law”. At least 563 individuals have been arrested in relation to these incidents. He also reported that Parliament is to be recalled this Thursday. The number of police officers in London tonight is to be increased from six thousand to sixteen thousand, the Prime Minister said, with any pre-arranged leave being abandoned.

The riots were sparked by the fatal shooting by police of 29-year-old Mark Duggan on Thursday in Tottenham, during the planned arrest of Duggan as part of anti-gun unit Operation Trident. Reports from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) claimed that Duggan had been shot in retaliation, however the IPCC later admitted there is no evidence that Duggan shot at the police. On Sunday, a peaceful protest in Tottenham held by Duggan’s family and friends sparked a series of disturbances in the area, which quickly became a violent riot, with youths from the area looting and clashing with Police.

For three consecutive days, London has experienced what the Metropolitan Police have referred to as “copycat criminal activity”. Hundreds of arrests have now occurred, with 105 individuals having been charged for a variety of crimes. The Metropolitan Police are now contemplating the concept of using plastic bullets as a disciplinary method within the riots. As of yet, English police have never used such a weapon in this context.



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March 20, 2011

House fire in Bristol, England kills two

House fire in Bristol, England kills two

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

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A house fire in Bristol, England has caused the deaths of two brothers, identified as Charlie, aged five, and seven-year-old Mackenzie. Emergency services were called to the scene in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The bodies were discovered by firemen, at the scene in the suburb of Bradley Stoke around 0630 UTC. Police and ambulance services were also in attendance. Prior to their arrival, three other children and two adults escaped from the building in Merryweather Close through windows.

Cquote1.svg This is probably the worst fire I’ve seen in my 32 years. Cquote2.svg

William Roberts, Avon Fire and Rescue Service manager

Speaking on behalf of Avon Fire and Rescue Service, manager William Roberts explained: “When crews arrived, the fire was fully developed and engulfing the first floor and roof space. Sadly, when crews entered the building they found the children. They were both upstairs, one in back bedroom, one in front. It is a sad day for the Bradley Stoke community and Avon fire. The ceiling has fallen in on itself and on top of our evidence. This is probably the worst fire I’ve seen in my 32 years.”

According to Roberts, smoke alarms were in the building, however the damage was “so extensive” that it is uncertain as to whether or not they were functioning correctly. “A full investigation has been launched by the police and fire investigators. No formal identification has yet taken place,” Avon and Somerset Constabulary‘s Detective Sergeant Simon Chubb stated.



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January 22, 2011

UK Jobcentre call centre staff on 48-hour strike

UK Jobcentre call centre staff on 48-hour strike

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

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File photo of Jobcentre Plus office building in Galashiels.
Image: Walter Baxter.

As-announced Wednesday evening, 3,500 staff from UK Jobcentre plus call centres engaged in a 48-hour walkout. Centres in Newport and Glasgow were picketed by members Thursday and Friday mornings as part of a coordinated strike at seven of the thirty centres handling benefits and unemployment-related queries for the UK public.

Wikinews spoke to Katrine Williams, one of the representatives of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), and a member of the Civil Service since 1991, to establish the grievances leading to the public-sector industrial action.

Balloted in December, over 70% of PCS members voted in favour of strike action; according to Williams, this forced minor concessions from call centre management, but left staff being constantly monitored. With a target of five minutes or less to handle any query related to Job-Seekers’ Allowance, staff have been threatened with disciplinary action should they take too long for calls. Williams expressed concern that, with many claimants, it took longer than this to simply establish what the issue was for a member of the public calling in.

The number provided for the public to call in relation to benefits is an 0845 number, usually charged at a local call rate when dialled from a landline within the UK; for many claimants, they may only have a mobile phone and be subject to higher charges, or even in a position where a benefit payment has been delayed, and this is their sole contact with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) when they may be in financial difficulty.

Both Williams and David Coventry, who spoke to the UK Press Association, feel let down that their members’ expertise is being dismissed; that what is the only option for the unemployed, and a public service, is being managed as-if a commercial enterprise. This, according to Williams, is the prevalent attitude for approximately ten years; managers previously in the private-sector constantly describe the service as a “business”, and members of the public requiring assistance as “customers”.

In describing negotiations with management to avert industrial action, Williams stated: “contact centre managers are [the] worst [within the DWP]”, and they, “renege on verbal agreements”.

The centres hit by strike action are: Bristol, Glasgow, Makerfield near Wigan, Manchester, Newport, Norwich, and Sheffield. Williams stated that a failure on the government’s part to resolve the dispute could lead to further action involving the full 30 call centres operated by the DWP. In combination with threats of action by passport office staff in the PCS union, the UK’s current coalition government may be faced with significant disruption to essential public services at a time when unemployment figures are climbing.

When Wikinews contacted the DWP press office, only a prepared statement was available. Forwarded to Wikinews by Elise Simpson, the department expressed disappointment at industrial action being taken by staff, stating: “only 21% across the centres” were taking action. Appeals for further clarification, and answers to other queries were not returned. Considering the union selectively took action at seven of thirty centres, it would appear the walk-out at those was virtually all staff. Calls to the Jobseekers’ 0845 number gave no indication calls may take longer to be connected to someone able to assist with a query or claim.

In late December, Brendan Barber of the Trades Union Congress warned that 2011 may be a year where the UK faces widespread public-sector industrial action. £81 billion (US$128 billion) is set to be cut from the UK’s expenditure, with the possible loss of over a quarter million public-sector jobs.



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December 5, 2010

UK Parliament to vote on tuition fee rise on Thursday

UK Parliament to vote on tuition fee rise on Thursday

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Students protesting outside the UK parliament in November.
Image: BillyH.

The controversial plan to raise university tuition fees in England and Wales will be voted on in the House of Commons on Thursday, December 9. The policy has been the cause of protests across the United Kingdom by students, some of which have turned violent. It has also been a source of considerable criticism and political difficulties for the Liberal Democrats and has raised questions as to the long-term viability of the Coalition government.

The new policy on tuition fees will allow universities to double the current tuition fees from £3,290 per year to around £6,000 per year, as well as allowing some universities to get special approval from the Office For Fair Access (OFFA) to raise their fees to £9,000 per year. If passed, the new fee structure will apply starting in the academic year of 2012/2013. The vote on Thursday will only be on the fee rise, with other matters being voted on in the new year following publication of a new higher education white paper.

Vince Cable and Nick Clegg will likely vote for the changes, but how many Lib Dems will join them?
Image: Nick Clegg.

In addition to increasing fees, the policy will increase the payment threshold at which payment is made. It is currently set at £15,000 and will rise to £21,000, but the interest rate will also rise. It is currently 1.5% but will now vary from between 0% and 3% plus inflation (using the Retail Price Index).

The fee increase follows the publication of an independent review by Lord Browne, former chief executive of BP, a process started by Peter Mandelson, the former Business Secretary. Before the election, two main options were mooted for funding reform in higher education: either an increase in tuition fees or a graduate tax. The Browne Review endorsed the former and the findings of the Review form the basis of the government’s policy. The graduate tax was supported by the Liberal Democrats before the election, and in the Labour leadership elections it was supported by Ed Balls and the winner of the leadership election, Ed Milliband.

Conservative members of the Coalition intend to vote for the reform, and the Labour opposition have been vociferous critics of the rise in fees, despite the previous government’s introduction of top-up fees. The Liberal Democratic members of the Coalition have been left in a politically difficult position regarding the fee hike and have been target of much criticism from protesters. Liberal Democrats have opposed the rise in tuition fees: their party manifesto included a commitment to ending tuition fees within six years, and many signed a pledge organised by the National Union of Students to not vote for any increase in tuition fees.

The Coalition agreement allows Liberal Democrats to opt to abstain on votes for a number of policies including tuition fees. Many Liberal Democrats are expected to abstain, and a few MPs have stated that they will vote against it including former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell, and the recently elected party president Tim Farron, as well as a number of Liberal Democrat back-benchers. Liberal Democrat party leaders have said that they will act collectively, but the BBC have said senior Liberal Democrats have admitted in private that government whips will not be able to force all Liberal Democrats to vote for the policy.

On Tuesday, the Liberal Democrats parliamentary party will meet in the Commons to decide on their collective position. If all ministers decide to vote for the policy, it will probably pass, but if only cabinet ministers (and maybe parliamentary private secretaries) vote for the policy, there is considerable risk of it not passing. If the Coalition does not manage to get the policy through Parliament, it will fuel doubts about the continued effectiveness and viability of the government.

How deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and business secretary Vince Cable vote has been of considerable controversy. Although under the Coalition agreement, they are allowed to abstain, suggestions of doing so have prompted criticism. It was suggested last week that Cable may abstain even though as business secretary he is directly responsible for higher education policy, and has been heavily involved in designing the proposals. Cable has said that Liberal Democrat support of the tuition fee changes has allowed them to push it in a more “progressive” direction.

Cable has now decided that he will vote for the policy, and argues that the policy has “a lot of protection for students from low income backgrounds and graduates who have a low income or take time out for family”. He also believes “there’s common consensus that the system we’ve devised is a progressive one”.

“Dr Cable has performed so many U-turns over the issue of university funding that he is spinning on his heels,” said National Union of Students president Aaron Porter. “That may stand him in good stead with the Strictly Come Dancing judges but the electorate will see it differently.”

Former deputy PM John Prescott has joked about Vince Cable’s u-turns on Twitter.
Image: Steve Punter.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott joked on Twitter that “On tuition fees we’ve noticed Vince Cable’s remarkable transformation in the last few weeks from stalling to Mr In Between”—a reference to a previous attack Prescott made on Gordon Brown as having transformed from “Stalin to Mr Bean“.

On Question Time this week, Liberal Democrat treasury secretary Danny Alexander also confirmed he is prepared to vote for the policy but delegated the question to the meeting of Liberal Democrats on Tuesday.

The politics of the tuition fee debate may also affect the by-election taking place in Oldham East and Saddleworth following the removal of Phil Woolas, where Liberal Democrat and Conservative candidates will both be standing for the first by-election following the formation of the Coalition government.

Opposition to the policy has become the focus for a large number of protests across the country by both current university students, many school pupils and political allies of the student movement.

On the Nov. 10 demonstration, protestors occupied Millbank tower.
Image: Charlie Owen.

On November 10, between 30,000 and 52,000 protesters from across Britain marched through central London in a demonstration organised by the National Union of Students and the University and College Union, which represents teachers and lecturers in further and higher education. At the November 10 protest, a number of people occupied Millbank Tower, an office block which houses the Conservative Party. Fifty people were arrested and fourteen were injured. NUS president Aaron Porter condemned the attack and said it was caused by “those who are here to cause trouble”, and that the actions of a “minority of idiots” shouldn’t “undermine 50,000 who came to make a peaceful protest”.

Following the November 10 march, other protests have taken place across the country including an occupation at the University of Manchester, a sit-in at the John Owens Building in Manchester, and a demonstration at the University of Cambridge. A protest was also run outside the offices of The Guardian where Nick Clegg—who was giving a lecture inside the building—was executed in effigy while students protested “Nick Clegg, shame on you, shame on you for turning blue” (blue is the colour of the Conservative Party).

A graffitied police van in Trafalgar Square at the November 24 demonstration.
Image: yllA.

On November 24, a large number of protests took place across the country including a mass walk-out from universities and schools organised on Facebook, numerous university occupations, and demonstrations in Manchester, Cambridge, Birmingham, Leeds, Brighton and Cardiff, and a well-publicised occupation of University College London.

In London, a protest was planned to march down Whitehall to Parliament, but police held protesters in Trafalgar Square until they eventually broke free and ran around in a game of “cat and mouse” along the side streets around Charing Cross Road, Covent Garden and Picadilly Circus.

Simon Hardy from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts described the police response including the controversial ‘kettling’ of protesters as “absolutely outrageous”. Green MP Caroline Lucas raised the police response including the use of kettling in the House of Commons and stated that it was “neither proportionate, nor, indeed, effective”.

On November 30, protests continued in London culminating in 146 arrests of protesters in Trafalgar Square, and protests in Cardiff, Cambridge, Newcastle, Bath, Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Belfast, Brighton, Manchester and Bristol. Protesters in Sheffield attempted to invade and occupy Nick Clegg’s constituency office. Occupations of university buildings started or continued at University College London, Newcastle University, Cambridge University and Nottingham University, as well as council buildings in Oxford and Birmingham.

A “day of action” is being planned on December 8, the day before the Commons vote, by the National Union of Students.



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October 1, 2009

British nursery worker admits sexually abusing children

British nursery worker admits sexually abusing children

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

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A British nursery worker, Vanessa George, and two other people, Angela Allen and Colin Blanchard, have been convicted, in Bristol Crown Court, of sexually abusing minors and sharing the pictures online.

Cquote1.svg horriffic and devilish… the most serious level you could imagine Cquote2.svg

—Adrian Pearson

Each person recorded images on their mobile phones, and shared them with each of the other two via email and text. Detective Superintendent Adrian Pearson of Nottinghamshire Police called this behaviour “horrific and devilish”, saying, “Those three individuals have shared quite willingly and freely images, texts, fantasies of the most serious level you could imagine.”

The three people, who met on social networking website Facebook, had never seen each other in real life until they attended court. Allen wept in the dock, while co-accused George hung her head. Blanchard—who has been on the Sex Offenders Register for five years previously—however, showed no reaction.

Vanessa George pleaded guilty to thirteen charges, including one count of sexual assault. Allen admitted four counts of sexual assault and one of distributing inappropriate images, and Blanchard nineteen charges, including seventeen of sexual assault, and a further charge of possessing extreme pornography. George refuses to identify which of the children on the police’s thirty-strong shortlist she attacked. The three have yet to be sentenced, and the crime carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

George, aged 39, a mother of two teenage daughters from Plymouth, Devon, had worked for Little Ted’s Nursery for three years, and in the childcare industry for 10 years. Blanchard, 38, from Smallbridge, Greater Manchester was an IT technician, and had a rocky relationship with his wife of 16 years. Allen, 39, lived in Nottingham, and says she has had an online relationship with Blanchard.


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February 21, 2009

UK firm gets ESA funding to ground test new jet engine for spaceplane

UK firm gets ESA funding to ground test new jet engine for spaceplane

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Reaction Engines Limited, a firm in Oxford, United Kingdom, has recently been awarded €1 million by the European Space Agency. This money is to be used for development work for the firm’s SABRE engines.

The SABRE engines are for a reusable spaceplane that it is intended to be able to travel into space and return completely intact.

Reaction Engines Limited says the Skylon plane could be in service within 10 years. When in service it would be intended to be regularly carrying up to 60 passengers into orbit much more cheaply than today.

Diagram of the Reaction Engines Skylon
Image: GW Simulations.

The cash will be used to test a precooled jet engine that would cool the very hot air entering the engines and should permit the aircraft to fly more economically, like a jet plane. The plane will fly through the air to 26 km (85,000 feet) altitude and five times the speed of sound before using rockets to push the aircraft the rest of the way to orbit.

The BBC says that other aspects of the Skylon design will be investigated by EADS Astrium, the German space agency (DLR) and the University of Bristol.

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November 13, 2008

BBC Radio Bristol presenter fired over ‘racist’ phone call

Filed under: Bristol — admin @ 5:00 am

Thursday, November 13, 2008

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A United Kingdom radio presenter with the BBC was fired on Saturday, and replaced, after an allegedly racist off-air phone call. Sam Mason of BBC Radio Bristol had earlier called up a taxi firm to arrange a booking for her 14-year-old daughter.

Logo of BBC Radio Bristol

Mason asked the operator not to send an Asian cab driver. She said, “A guy with a turban on is going to freak her out.” After the operator refused Mason snapped back claiming, “You’ve managed it before.”

The original female operator had passed the call over to another operator. Mason then accused the first of having “a bad attitude”, and said, “I work at the BBC. I’m far from racist and that uneducated woman has no right to call me one.” The call then ended but she called back to complain.

The female operator who took the call was also fired from her job for illegally recording the call.

A statement from the taxi firm stated that “We confirm that a telephone call from Radio Bristol presenter Sam Mason to the company was illegally recorded by an employee. That employee was dismissed for similar offences on 3 November.”

A copy of the call was sent to British tabloid The Sun, which broke the story on Tuesday. The Sun informed the BBC.

BBC Radio Bristol presenter fired over 'racist' phone call
A guy with a turban on is going to freak her out.
BBC Radio Bristol presenter fired over 'racist' phone call

—Sam Mason, BBC Radio Bristol

A BBC spokesman said: “Although Sam Mason’s remarks were not made on-air, her comments were completely unacceptable and, for that reason, she has been informed that she will no longer be working for the BBC with immediate effect.”

According to BBC News, Mason, who worked at the station for only six weeks, was unavailable for comment.

The incident comes just weeks after the Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross prank call scandal involving Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.


Sources

  • “BBC host replaced in ‘racism’ row”. BBC News Online, November 11, 2008
  • John Coles “BBC girl: Don’t send me an Asian cabbie”. The Sun, November 11, 2008
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