Teachers strike for pension: nationwide walkout

June 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers have announced a nationwide walkout today to fight for their pensions.

Save-Our-Pensions, NUT © RIGHTTOWORK

Save-Our-Pensions, NUT © RIGHTTOWORK

It is said that the walkout would affect thousands of schools and universities in England and Wales.

The NUT has launched a campaign to drum up support for voting ‘yes’ in the ballot for strike against the government’s plans to cut the pension.

They asked the teachers to “vote ‘yes’ to change the government’s mind before it imposes these unnecessary changes to our pensions”.

1/4 schools closed in 2008 during teachers’ strike

Up to 200,000 NUT members carried out a one-day stoppage in protest at a below-inflation pay rise in the summer of 2008.

The strike caused nearly 5,000 schools’ closure and brought a ‘chaos’ in 21 years in Britain’s history.

This year’s strike may not has the same effect as 2008’s as a lot of schools and universities are about to enter the summer vacation. But it is not the first strike in education sector apart from the tuition fee protest this year. Some members of NUT has carried out a one-day stoppage in the spring academic year.

The teachers’ walkout comes as a part of the strike by public sector workers’ efforts towards pensions in industrial action. It is estimated that up to 750,000 public workers will hold a coordinated strike later this month.

Categories: UK News Tags: , , ,

Chinese Prime Minister Wen draws smiling face in Fukushima

May 21, 2011 Leave a comment

The Chinese Prime Minister Wen visited a shelter in Fukushima, Japan today. The Prime Minister drew a smiling face and encouraged the Japanese people to ‘live on with a smile’.

Prime Minister Wen drawing a smiling face in Fukushima © XinHua 2011

Prime Minister Wen drawing a smiling face in Fukushima © XinHua 2011

Prime Minister Wen is on a trip to send condolences and aid to the Japanese people who have suffered from the catastrophe in Fukushima, the city ripped off by a powerful earthquake and devastating tsunami on March 11. He was asked to write an inscription by a woman. Prime Minister Wen not only drew a smiling face on the board, but also wrote “live on with a smile”.

The Prime Minister said: “It is my own decision to come to Fukushima. Why do I come here? Because this place has suffered from a tri-catastrophe which consists of the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear leak.

“Therefore I believe by visiting here we can express the deepest condolences and compassion from the Chinese people to the Japanese people.

“The painting I drew means two things: faith and courage. I believe having these two, and only by having these two can the Japanese people embrace a bright future.”

He also carries the message that China is ready to extend more material and economic support in the aftermath relief task.

According to China Daily, the country will soon “send two business groups to Japan for opportunities in cooperation in the disaster relief and reconstruction sector as well as investment to Japan.”

Wen Jiabao effect

Moundsman No.35 © XinHua 2007

Moundsman No.35 © XinHua 2007

The Chinese Prime Minister Wen has a broad welcomed reputation not only in China but also in Japan. It is believed that he is the best government image to the Japanese people and his visit will indeed brings a more open and constructive governmental as well as non-governmental culture between the two neighbours.

The Prime Minister’s ice-breaking visit to Japan during April 11 to 13, 2007 posts an international positive effect to the political culture and also eases the tight tension all those years. It was the first Prime Minister visit after six year and a half.

Wen is widely remembered as the Moundsman No.35 for his baseball game with Ritsumei University baseball team.

Kim Jong Il on the move

The thing is, during the time Wen visits the Fukushima shelter, the DPR Korea leader Kim Jong Il is on his ‘special train’ to Beijing.

The media argues that Kim’s visit to Beijing means he wants to hold a closer relation with the Chinese Communist Party at this very time to hamper the Japan and the South. Kim seldom goes abroad, however, he has conducted three trips continuously to China (May and August, 2010 and May 2011). And it is “very weird” according to Ifeng (Phoenix online).

Mobile phone database map shows real-time signal coverage

May 18, 2011 Leave a comment

OpenSignalMaps reveals a new Internet service to show the real-time mobile phone signal coverage based on the Google Map.

Sheffield mobile phone tower map

Sheffield mobile phone tower map

The map shows that in Sheffield the Orange UK has 48 tower stations, while Vodafone UK has 19, T-Mobile has 27, Three has 4 and O2-UK has only 2.

Both Orange UK and T-mobile have their most towers in S10, S3 and S1 areas. However, Vodafone UK locates its most towers in S10 and S1. Whereas Three put its most towers in S3.

The map function is free and available for every Internet surfers and mobile phone users who have an Android phone.

According to OpenSignalMaps, the comprehensive database includes mobile phone towers, signal strength readings and Wi-Fi access. The data is collected via an application which is installed by the phone users. After the users having downloaded the application and installed it in the mobile phone, the date will be stripped of any identifying information and uploaded to the servers.

Sheffield mobile phone signal heat map

Sheffield mobile phone signal heat map

The company also said that the data was “completely anonymous” and they “do not track person details such as name, e-mail, passwords, etc.” But the user’s phone model will be identified and recorded.

iPhone and Blackberry applications will be available

The company is working on the iOS software which will allow iPhone users benefit from the service in the future. It also said the Blackberry application was under consideration. However, for the vast Nokia users, the company has not formally declared any plans regarding to Symbian application.

Modern Warfare 3 will be released on November 8th 2011

May 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Infinity Ward has released four teasers on the game’s official Youtube site. Starting with the traditional acoustical wave and radio communication sound, the trailers suggest the new Modern Warfare will take place in several major cities in the world, including London, New York and Paris.

Amazon US, COD: Modern Warfare 3

Amazon US, COD: Modern Warfare 3

Activision, the series’ publisher, has not disclosed any details about the new game. But it can be assumed that following the previous issue, Modern Warfare 3 will let the players engage in the unfinished story after Russian’s surprise attack to the U.S.

According to Kotaku, the game information website, the multiple throwaway roles including SAS Operative, a Russian Federal Protective Services agent, tank gunner and AC-130 gunner will be available to the players.

Two Delta Force operatives codenamed “Frost” and “Sandman”, who may also occur in the future Modern Warfares, will be introduced in the single-player campaign.

Multiplayer campaign will allow players to act under two types of Special Operation modes, namely “Survival” and “Mission”.

Modern Warfare 3 was officially announced on May 12th  2011. Amazon US has recently opened its pre-order function for the new game. The price is given as $ 59.99.

IGN trailer England version

Optimus Kuan Kung lands Shen Yang

May 9, 2011 2 comments

A 9.7-metre high Kuan Kung (Guan Yu) figure transformer was displayed outside a shopping mall in Shen Yang, the provincial capital of Liao Ning yesterday.

The Optimus Kuan Kung is designed and built by Bi Heng, a student from China Central Academy of Fine Arts, as his graduation piece.

Bi Heng, majors in Sculpturing, said that the official name of Optimus Kuan Kung was “Jie Fang”, which means liberation.

“It’s not a copycat. The idea I want to express by this sculpture is to encourage people to push themselves, to be self-renewal by adopting oversea technologies.” He said.

The Jie Fang lorry, credit: Jie Da

The Jie Fang lorry, credit: Jie Da

The Jie Fang lorry

The original appearance of his giant sculpture comes from an old lorry “Jie Fang”. The lorry, made in Shen Yang FAW (First Auto Work) Automotive Company, is widely used around China after 1956.

He said that the lorry represented the spirit of hard-working Chinese people and it witnessed the development of the country.

The Kuan Kung figure

When asked why transform the lorry into Kuan Kung, he said that it was a known-to-all figure.

Optimus Kuan Kung

Optimus Kuan Kung

Kuan Kung is a Chinese historical figure, which represents loyalty, bravery and faith. Some places in China (HK and Taiwan) honour him the God of War.

“My idea is to art up our daily used stuff. The idea came to me in the winter of 2006, before the movie Transformers was out.

“It costs almost RMB 300,000 (£ 30,000). And I managed to have the fund by myself, like moonlighting for the Department of Sculpturing.” He said.

There are thousands of people going to view the Optimus Kuan Kung during the day and the number of clicks on its Youku video clip is up to 306836.

Labour wins Sheffield

May 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Labour wins over Liberal Democrats and Conservative and gains control of the Sheffield City Council according to the recent result of the election.

The party gained nine seats and now has 49 seats in the 84-seat council chamber.  Compared to 2010 election, when Labour has 39 seats and the Lib Dem has 42, the shift seems to be not very dramatic.

Paul Blomfield, who is a Sheffield Central MP, described Labour’s victory as a landslide.

It is believed that the party’s victory has much influence on the policy-making of the next term in the city. The blames to Lib Dem’s lose comes to the party’s leader, Nick Clegg, who is also the Sheffield Hallam MP.

Labour pointed to Clegg’s U-turn on tuition fees and support for the government’s austerity measures as the reason for his dramatic reversal of fortunes.

AV loses

The preliminary date shows that more than 9.8 million voters choose to keep the current FPTP. The number has been over 50 per cent of total counts though the counting is being processed.

It is another heavy loss for the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg after his party has lost Sheffield city.

Lib Dem minister Chris Huhne told BBC News: “The rejection has been overwhelming and we accept that.” Labour’s Lord Reid, who backed the No campaign, said the decisive result “should put electoral reform off the agenda”.

*Also see Labour seizes control of Sheffield City Council by JUS NEWS.

*Map shows election result by students from the University of Sheffield.

Categories: UK News Tags: , ,

Labour’s split on AV

May 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Ed Miliband supports AV. He thinks it is fairer than FPTP and good for democracy and accountability. But more than 100 Labour MPs saying they oppose it.

(Video Credit: Angelina He)

Politicians in South Yorkshire such as Caroline Flint (Shadow local government and communities secretary) and Angela Smith (Penistone MP) are against AV.

The Sheffield MP Clive Betts who supports local transportation and social care is also against the change to AV. The General Election in 2010 shows that he gains just under 50 per cent support overall. But he could still win even if he loses 52 per cent.  When using AV system, he has to reach out to other groups for support to secure the seat because the 2 per cent margin may be swiped out.

The big picture is AV vote won’t split coalition government. Clegg and Cameron both admit it.

When asked about the split over AV in the party, Ed Miliband thought the national interest and the party interest were the major reasons for it. It is what party people would like to lead the country and if the party could fulfill the promise (e.g. NHS, tuition fees, VAT) that count. But sometimes for the Labour politicians it is about whom to sit with, Nick Clegg or someone else. The belief in the AV system itself varies in the Labour too. Some politicians still believe one people one vote is fairer and the current system has historically reflected the will of the public. And the country has been doing well using FPTP.

“AV would change the political culture”

Ed Miliband said AV would change the political culture. The most important reason is MPs will have to work harder to gain the votes.

He also mentioned that politicians would need to reach out to each other rather than present the hatred. Meanwhile there wouldn’t be any dilemma “voting with your heart or head” any more. Parties, no matter big or small, would have more equal chances to gain the votes. These together would make a more positive political culture.

In fact, AV is the method used for Labour and Lib Dem leadership elections. Many US mayoral and district internal elections also use it. Whether or not AV will win over, it “should be the beginning of the journey, not the end” said Ed Miliband.

Also support: Harriet Harman (Labour Party deputy leader), Ed Balls (Shadow chancellor), Tessa Jowell (Shadow minister for the Olympics), Carwyn Jones (Welsh first minister), Alan Johnson (former Home secretary) and Lord Kinnock (former Labour Party leader).

Against: Lord Prescott (former Deputy prime minister), John Healey (shadow health secretary) and Margaret Beckett (Labour Party leader, President of the ‘NO to AV’ campaign).