Former Japanese prime minister Hashimoto indicated his retirement

Friday, August 12, 2005

On the 11th August, the former Prime Minister of Japan Riyutaro Hashimoto, age 68, formally indicated he would not run for the Okayama 4th constituency of the House of Representatives, the Lower House of Japan, due to defectiveness of his physical condition, possibly nominally. Since the current prime minister Junichiro Koizumi had resolved that House, an election will be held on September 11.

The next day of that announcement, on the 12th, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) executive committee showed they had no intention to recognize him as a candidate to proportional representative constituency. There might be no possibility for him to run for the coming election as the LDP candidate and his political career would inevitably end.

On the July, 2004 it was reported that Hashimoto did not state the donation of 1 hundred million yen from a lobbist organisation in the annual political financial income and outgo report, which is legally mandatory to all minister and parliament speakers. Hashimoto had received that donation from the Japan Dental Political Federation, one of his main supporting organisations. His relation between medical and pharmacy lobbyists began at least in 1963 when he was appointed as a secretary of Minister of Health and Welfare. In the same year, he ran for a constituency for which his father had run since his death in that year. Later he was appointed to the Minister of Health and Welfare and played a roll as the representative of this ministry during his career.

Hashimoto had been a speaker of the House of Representatives since September 1963. He had not lost his seat until now. He was appointed to the Minister of Health and Welfare, and the Minister of Industrial Minister successively. He was the president of the LDP from 1995 until the party lost at the election of the House of Councillors in 1998. He was also the Prime Minister of Japan from 1996 till his resignation from LDP presidency. In 2001 he ran again for the presidency of the party, but was defeated by the present Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro.

 

U.S. Congress passes CAFTA with 2 vote House margin

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) early morning Thursday, with a narrow vote of 217 in favor, 215 against. Voting was held open for an hour, 45 minutes past the House’s 15-minute voting rule as the President along with other supporters lobbied into the night.

The vote was so close, if one House member changed a “Yea” vote to a “Nay” vote, CAFTA would have failed in a 216-216 tie.

In tallying the votes, 25 Republicans, mostly from Midwest Corn Belt and Rust Belt states and the Southeast United States’s textile industrial belt, broke party line to vote against the measure. Two Republicans were present, but refused to vote.

The Democrats presented a more united front. All but 15 Democrats present voted against the treaty. Independent House members, who usually vote with the Democrats also voted against the measure.

Supporters of the measure include President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Opponents included most House Democrats.

The trade agreement already passed the Senate in June. President Bush has said he will sign it into law.

DR-CAFTA encompasses the following components:

  • Services: all public services are to be open to private investment.
  • Investment: governments promise to grant ironclad guarantees to foreign investment.
  • Government procurement: All government purchases must be open to transnational bids.
  • Market access: governments pledge to reduce and eventually to eliminate tariffs and other measures that protect domestic products.
  • Agriculture: duty-free import and elimination of subsidies on agricultural products.
  • Intellectual property rights: privatization of and monopoly over technological know-how.
  • Antidumping rules, subsidies and countervailing rights: governments commit to phase out protectionist barriers in all sectors.
  • Competition policy: the dismantling of national monopolies.
  • Dispute resolution: the right of transnationals to sue countries in private international courts.
  • Environmental protection: the enforcement of environmental laws and improvement of the environment.
  • Labor standards: the enforcement of the International Labour Organization‘s core labor standards.
  • Transparency: the reduction of government corruption.
  • Test-Data Exclusivity for pharmaceutical corporations
 

Wikinews interviews Kent Mesplay, Green Party presidential candidate

Sunday, June 29, 2008

While nearly all coverage of the 2008 Presidential election has focused on the Democratic and Republican candidates, the race for the White House also includes independents and third-party candidates. These prospects represent a variety of views that may not be acknowledged by the major party platforms.

Wikinews has reached out to these candidates throughout the campaign. We now interview Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Kent Mesplay.

Why do you want to be President?

I run for president to help improve society, pointing out that we are more secure when we live in a sustainable manner. As of this writing our culture is based on the consumption of limited materials such as petroleum, coal and uranium with great emphasis placed on the consumption of “goods” that are produced and purchased with little regard for the well-being of future generations. Government, ideally, provides an independent, objective forum through which solutions to the needs and wants of our time can be raised, discussed and implemented in a thoughtful, respectful manner. In contrast to this ideal, our current central, national government exists largely to protect and preserve the status quo of relatively few stake-holders, having undue political influence and acting in a manner not in the best interest of the majority of people. We cannot blindly consume our way to peace and stability.
A Green presidential administration would put the needs of current and future generations above the rude demands and expectations of the well-heeled political donor class. It is not important that we have a new president bearing the face of change. We need vital, core change to our political institutions to decentralize control, empower rational science-based decision-making and cut the damaging influence of corporate money on public policy. This change is unlikely to arise from within the current two political parties that are intrinsically corrupted by the ubiquitous “greased-palm” bribing handshake with corporate entities. We need to only ask how many corporate media conglomerates regularly advertize the question, “Should a corporation have the legal status of a super-person?” to realize the extent of the current dilemma. A corporation should never have been considered to have the legal rights of an individual. The Green Party is independent from business interests. This political arm of the environmental, peace and justice movements represents meaningful change to public policy and to our fragile, centralized, short-sighted way of life.
Green solutions are largely local solutions: more community gardens and small farms, reasonable use of fresh water, grey-water and waste-water, including more water storage and community responsibility for the entire water stream, energy-efficient housing and transportation, health care for all, protecting besieged ecosystems. Practically, what this means is a higher base-line of essential services with the costs shared and supported broadly. To be clear, our basic physical security deserves support, not gaming at the hands of profiteers. A common wealth for all citizens is possible, with local regional flavors in commerce and culture atop this “baseline” of security. To be danced out of the way, one finds the current heavy-handed players of agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, energy, insurance and the congressional-military-industrial complex all dependent upon “corporate socialism” for subsidies and protection from real, meaningful, positive change and shielded from probing questions as to why, for example, we so frequently go to war.
Mottos include “sustainability is security” and “freedom to debate.” I run to help define, popularize and grow the Green Party, to be an advocate for: single-payer health-care, renewable energy, increased energy efficiency, rail transport, organic local agriculture, indigenous rights, wise water use, banning lobbying/bribery, over-turning the legal fiction that a corporation is a person, and equal media exposure for all political candidates, having open debates between all political parties and beating those “swords into plowshares” by focusing on improving diplomacy, communication and basic physical security in water, food and energy in particular to mitigate the negative effects of global climate change and to provide emergency readiness. Also, I get bored easily and this keeps me busy.

Have you ever run for political office before? (President, senate, congress, city councillor, school trustee… etc.) Have you ever been a member of a political party, other than the one you’re currently in?

I ran for president in 2004 and 2008, being one of the four “finalists” at the nominating conventions. Also, I ran for U.S. Senate in California as part of a contested race in the Green Party Primary Election in 2006. I plan to run for U.S. Congress in 2010 and I am now taking the steps to begin running for the 2012 presidential race. I have been a member of both main U.S. parties and I cannot adequately express my disgust for them both. I encourage people everywhere to register Green, vote Green and support Green Party efforts at achieving and maintaining ballot access within the current hostile political environment. Ideally, we can together displace one of the two major parties; such is the near-majority level of disapproval of the antiquated mainstream parties and the desire for a true alternative.

Have you ever campaigned for another political candidate?

In 1996 I helped organize a press conference for then-presidential candidate Ralph Nader, after having helped support efforts to draft him as a candidate.

What skills or ideas do you bring from this position, or previous positions, that will benefit the Oval Office?

I believe in the separation of power within government, including economic power. Due to the influence of money in politics and within government we do not have a political system that works well to advance the needs and concerns of “we the people.” There are few, muted voices within our government supporting the dispossessed, the disenfranchised, the “left out,” the lower echelon within our socio-economic strata. Especially now, with high energy costs, questionable food supplies, shredded social safety nets, job loss due to outsourcing and other losses, loss of civil liberties and rights, the consolidation and concealment of governmental power, the “fascist” confluence of military-industrial business with governmental power, threats of unstable weather, retaliation by terrorists and opportunistic foreign governments following our model it is a good time to not be silent. I have lived with and among many different cultures, religions and peoples, I have a multi-cultural background and a mixed ancestry, I value art, music and science, I am both intuitive and analytical and I enjoy solving problems. Our nation would benefit greatly from my services. Plus, I am not “on the take.”

Campaigning for the American presidency is one of the most expensive exercises in the world. How do you deal with the cost and fundraising?

Small contributions from many people not expecting a return of favors approximates public funding of campaigns. In order to “get the word out” about my existence as a candidate it is necessary to adapt and adopt alternative, low-cost strategies. With my campaign team steadily growing I anticipate utilizing modern low-cost communication methods to help “spread the word.” Fund-raising is among the least palatable activities that I have to endure as a candidate and I will be the first to admit that I have done very little fundraising. The reader who is a U.S. Citizen of voting age is encouraged to support my candidacy by visiting my web site, www.mesplay.org, and making a small donation in accordance with Federal Election Commission guidelines. Also, simply e-mailing friends helps tremendously with these small campaigns.

What are you/were you looking for in a running mate?

My running mate would likely represent a demographic that I do not, such as being female and non-white, since I am a white male. As to character and experience, I would want to be supported by someone with great practical public experience who has remained in integrity with the original idealistic hopes and dreams that once drew them into the public eye or political arena.

Can you win the 2008 Presidential election?

I can win the 2008 presidential election by becoming the Green nominee, by inspiring otherwise non-voters to register Green and to grow Green Parties in those states where they are not yet granted ballot access and to subsequently vote in some creative, time-urgent manner circumventing the severe limitations put on candidates and parties by the secretaries of state through the country. I would have to win many of the states where the Green Party is on the ballot and I would have to find a manner allowing erstwhile green voters to legally vote in those states where we are not on the ballot.

If you can’t make it into the Oval Office, who would you prefer seeing taking the presidency?

I cannot support candidates who foolishly support nuclear power and weapons, who do not recognize the need for peace and who do not offer real, meaningful, substantive systemic change.

What should the American people keep in mind, when heading to the polls this November?

When heading for the polls this November U.S. citizens should support Green Party candidates, policies and values. Thank you.

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

 

Honda wins car, truck of the year, unveils Fit

Monday, January 9, 2006

Honda’s Civic and Ridgeline truck won the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards at the International Auto Show in Detroit. This is the first time a company has won both awards in the same year. The finalists were the Ridgeline, the Ford Explorer SUV and the Nissan Xterra. The awards are intended to recognize vehicles for their innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction, and value.File:Ford Explorer.jpg

Honda also unveiled its latest model the Fit, a US version of the Honda Jazz sold in nonUS markets. The Fit comes with a 109 horsepower engine, antilock brakes, six air bags, fold flat seats, full iPod connectivity, 90.1 cubic feet of passenger and cargo space, and 33 mpg for the city 38 mpg for the highway. A sport package will also include Honda’s first steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The car will go against another two new Japanese subcompacts, the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and will have to wrestle away sales from the category’s current top seller Chevrolet’s Aveo.

The car will start selling in April for around $13,000 to $14,000 as a 2007 model. The company plans to sell 33,000 units of the hatchback in 2006.

Many automakers expect industry wide sales in the US to be between 16 and 17 million units. Honda, which is Japan’s third largest automaker, hopes to gain US market share with the redesigned Civic and the Fit. Honda hopes that the company’s auto sales will rise 4% this year. The fuel-efficient Civic helped increase US market share to 8.6 percent last year, some of those sales were taken from Ford as gas prices rocketed to $3 a gallon. The US market is extremely important for Honda as it receives 64% of its operating profit from the US.

 

News briefs:May 21, 2006

The time is 17:00 (UTC) on May 21st, 2006, and this is Audio Wikinews News Briefs.

Contents

  • 1 Headlines
    • 1.1 Violence escalates in Afghanistan
    • 1.2 Iran stands defiant on Uranium enrichment
    • 1.3 Militants target rally in Srinagar
    • 1.4 Professionals and students continue strike in New Dehli
    • 1.5 300 Vietnamese fishermen rescued after record China typhoon
    • 1.6 Pair extradited and charged over Granville, Sydney shootings
    • 1.7 Ray Nagin re-elected New Orleans mayor
    • 1.8 Snowy Hydro Scheme to go public
    • 1.9 Missing BC girl found safe
    • 1.10 ‘Naked Guy’ Andrew Martinez dies
    • 1.11 Finnish metal band win 51st Eurovision Song Contest
  • 2 Closing statements
 

Gay Talese on the state of journalism, Iraq and his life

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gay Talese wants to go to Iraq. “It so happens there is someone that’s working on such a thing right now for me,” the 75-year-old legendary journalist and author told David Shankbone. “Even if I was on Al-Jazeera with a gun to my head, I wouldn’t be pleading with those bastards! I’d say, ‘Go ahead. Make my day.'”

Few reporters will ever reach the stature of Talese. His 1966 profile of Frank Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, was not only cited by The Economist as the greatest profile of Sinatra ever written, but is considered the greatest of any celebrity profile ever written. In the 70th anniversary issue of Esquire in October 2003, the editors declared the piece the “Best Story Esquire Ever Published.”

Talese helped create and define a new style of literary reporting called New Journalism. Talese himself told National Public Radio he rejects this label (“The term new journalism became very fashionable on college campuses in the 1970s and some of its practitioners tended to be a little loose with the facts. And that’s where I wanted to part company.”)

He is not bothered by the Bancrofts selling The Wall Street Journal—”It’s not like we should lament the passing of some noble dynasty!”—to Rupert Murdoch, but he is bothered by how the press supported and sold the Iraq War to the American people. “The press in Washington got us into this war as much as the people that are controlling it,” said Talese. “They took information that was second-hand information, and they went along with it.” He wants to see the Washington press corp disbanded and sent around the country to get back in touch with the people it covers; that the press should not be so focused on–and in bed with–the federal government.

Augusten Burroughs once said that writers are experience junkies, and Talese fits the bill. Talese–who has been married to Nan Talese (she edited James Frey‘s Million Little Piece) for fifty years–can be found at baseball games in Cuba or the gay bars of Beijing, wanting to see humanity in all its experience.

Below is Wikinews reporter David Shankbone’s interview with Gay Talese.

Contents

  • 1 On Gay Talese
  • 2 On a higher power and how he’d like to die
  • 3 On the media and Iraq
  • 4 On the Iraq War
  • 5 State of Journalism
  • 6 On travel to Cuba
  • 7 On Chinese gay bars
  • 8 On the literary canon
  • 9 Sources
 

Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A team of eight transplant surgeons in Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, led by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow, age 58, have successfully performed the first almost total face transplant in the US, and the fourth globally, on a woman so horribly disfigured due to trauma, that cost her an eye. Two weeks ago Dr. Siemionow, in a 23-hour marathon surgery, replaced 80 percent of her face, by transplanting or grafting bone, nerve, blood vessels, muscles and skin harvested from a female donor’s cadaver.

The Clinic surgeons, in Wednesday’s news conference, described the details of the transplant but upon request, the team did not publish her name, age and cause of injury nor the donor’s identity. The patient’s family desired the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The Los Angeles Times reported that the patient “had no upper jaw, nose, cheeks or lower eyelids and was unable to eat, talk, smile, smell or breathe on her own.” The clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery chair, Francis Papay, described the nine hours phase of the procedure: “We transferred the skin, all the facial muscles in the upper face and mid-face, the upper lip, all of the nose, most of the sinuses around the nose, the upper jaw including the teeth, the facial nerve.” Thereafter, another team spent three hours sewing the woman’s blood vessels to that of the donor’s face to restore blood circulation, making the graft a success.

The New York Times reported that “three partial face transplants have been performed since 2005, two in France and one in China, all using facial tissue from a dead donor with permission from their families.” “Only the forehead, upper eyelids, lower lip, lower teeth and jaw are hers, the rest of her face comes from a cadaver; she could not eat on her own or breathe without a hole in her windpipe. About 77 square inches of tissue were transplanted from the donor,” it further described the details of the medical marvel. The patient, however, must take lifetime immunosuppressive drugs, also called antirejection drugs, which do not guarantee success. The transplant team said that in case of failure, it would replace the part with a skin graft taken from her own body.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon praised the recent medical development. “There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Leading bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania withheld judgment on the Cleveland transplant amid grave concerns on the post-operation results. “The biggest ethical problem is dealing with failure — if your face rejects. It would be a living hell. If your face is falling off and you can’t eat and you can’t breathe and you’re suffering in a terrible manner that can’t be reversed, you need to put on the table assistance in dying. There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Dr Alex Clarke, of the Royal Free Hospital had praised the Clinic for its contribution to medicine. “It is a real step forward for people who have severe disfigurement and this operation has been done by a team who have really prepared and worked towards this for a number of years. These transplants have proven that the technical difficulties can be overcome and psychologically the patients are doing well. They have all have reacted positively and have begun to do things they were not able to before. All the things people thought were barriers to this kind of operations have been overcome,” she said.

The first partial face transplant surgery on a living human was performed on Isabelle Dinoire on November 27 2005, when she was 38, by Professor Bernard Devauchelle, assisted by Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France. Her Labrador dog mauled her in May 2005. A triangle of face tissue including the nose and mouth was taken from a brain-dead female donor and grafted onto the patient. Scientists elsewhere have performed scalp and ear transplants. However, the claim is the first for a mouth and nose transplant. Experts say the mouth and nose are the most difficult parts of the face to transplant.

In 2004, the same Cleveland Clinic, became the first institution to approve this surgery and test it on cadavers. In October 2006, surgeon Peter Butler at London‘s Royal Free Hospital in the UK was given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out a full face transplant. His team will select four adult patients (children cannot be selected due to concerns over consent), with operations being carried out at six month intervals. In March 2008, the treatment of 30-year-old neurofibromatosis victim Pascal Coler of France ended after having received what his doctors call the worlds first successful full face transplant.

Ethical concerns, psychological impact, problems relating to immunosuppression and consequences of technical failure have prevented teams from performing face transplant operations in the past, even though it has been technically possible to carry out such procedures for years.

Mr Iain Hutchison, of Barts and the London Hospital, warned of several problems with face transplants, such as blood vessels in the donated tissue clotting and immunosuppressants failing or increasing the patient’s risk of cancer. He also pointed out ethical issues with the fact that the procedure requires a “beating heart donor”. The transplant is carried out while the donor is brain dead, but still alive by use of a ventilator.

According to Stephen Wigmore, chair of British Transplantation Society’s ethics committee, it is unknown to what extent facial expressions will function in the long term. He said that it is not certain whether a patient could be left worse off in the case of a face transplant failing.

Mr Michael Earley, a member of the Royal College of Surgeon‘s facial transplantation working party, commented that if successful, the transplant would be “a major breakthrough in facial reconstruction” and “a major step forward for the facially disfigured.”

In Wednesday’s conference, Siemionow said “we know that there are so many patients there in their homes where they are hiding from society because they are afraid to walk to the grocery stores, they are afraid to go the the street.” “Our patient was called names and was humiliated. We very much hope that for this very special group of patients there is a hope that someday they will be able to go comfortably from their houses and enjoy the things we take for granted,” she added.

In response to the medical breakthrough, a British medical group led by Royal Free Hospital’s lead surgeon Dr Peter Butler, said they will finish the world’s first full face transplant within a year. “We hope to make an announcement about a full-face operation in the next 12 months. This latest operation shows how facial transplantation can help a particular group of the most severely facially injured people. These are people who would otherwise live a terrible twilight life, shut away from public gaze,” he said.

 

Dental Veneers And Your Smile

bytimothyharvard

Your smile allows you to share yourself with the world and makes up a major part of your appearance. If your teeth have imperfections, this may cause you to feel self conscious about how your smile looks. Instead of navigating social situations with a hand over your mouth, you can increase your confidence by exploring smile correction options. One of the dental treatments available for smile enhancement is dental veneers.

Who needs dental veneers?

YouTube Preview Image

Dental veneers can be used by individuals with chipped, broken, or otherwise crooked teeth. They can also hide misaligned teeth and teeth that are discoloured. When it comes to correcting your smile, this dental option offers the perfect solution. A simple consultation with the dentist can provide the start that is needed to begin all of your smile correction goals.

How are they placed?

Dental veneers are comprised of thin pieces of porcelain and are placed directly over the tooth that is being corrected. In the event that you need to treat multiple teeth, you can have more than one veneer positioned over each respective tooth. With the exception of Lumineers, filing the enamel of the tooth down is an essential part of ensuring the veneers fit well. The dentist will explain how much enamel will need to be filed away so you can best prepare for the procedure. Although some people worry about having the enamel filed down, local anaesthetic is used and the procedure is painless.

How long does it take?

The process of getting dental veneers is actually fairly quick. Once you have your first consultation, your teeth will be fitted for the veneers. Your enamel will then be filed down and in the next session, your dental veneers will be positioned onto your teeth and then cemented in with a special light. One of the reasons that dental veneers are so popular is because they can be placed relatively quickly and they are a fast and convenient smile correction solution.

As one of the easiest ways to enhance your smile, dental veneers offer many immediate benefits. Whether your teeth are discoloured, broken, or crooked, you can have the Hollywood smile of your dreams in no time. Consult with your dentist about your options to see if dental veneers are the right choice for you.

At the Beverly Hills Institute of Dental Esthetics, you can get beautiful dental veneers placed for your smile enhancement goals. Visit them online for more information at www.cosmetic-dentistry.com. You can also visit them on Facebook.

 

Recalled pet food found to contain rat poison

Friday, March 23, 2007

In a press release earlier today, New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker, along with Dean of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine Donald F. Smith, confirmed that scientists at the New York State Food Laboratory identified Aminopterin as a toxin present in cat food samples from Menu Foods.

Menu Foods is the manufacturer of several brands of cat and dog food subject to a March 16, 2007 recall.

Aminopterin is a drug used in chemotherapy for its immunosuppressive properties and, in some areas outside the US, as a rat poison. Earlier reports stated that wheat gluten was a factor being investigated, and officials now state that the toxin would have come from Chinese wheat used in the pet food, where it is used for pest control. Investigators will not say that this is the only contaminant found in the recalled food, but knowing the identity of the toxin should assist veterinarians treating affected animals.

The Food Laboratory tested samples of cat food received from a toxicologist at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University. The samples were found to contain the rodenticide at levels of at least 40 parts per million.

Commissioner Hooker stated, ““We are pleased that the expertise of our New York State Food Laboratory was able to contribute to identifying the agent that caused numerous illnesses and deaths in dogs and cats across the nation.”

The press release suggests Aminopterin, a derivative of folic acid, can cause cancer and birth defects in humans and can cause kidney damage in dogs and cats. Aminopterin is not permitted for use in the United States.

The New York State Food Laboratory is part of the Federal Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) and as such, is capable of running a number of unique poison/toxin tests on food, including the test that identified Aminopterin.

 

Thousands strike in UK over pensions

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

As many as 1.5 million government workers, members of 11 unions, went on strike on Tuesday in protest of a government decision to reduce their retirement benefits, a change which would take effect in October.

The strike closed thousands of schools, libraries and leisure centres, disrupted commuters, and reduced some facilities to emergency only staffing.

UNISON claimed that more than a million workers had joined the strike, with General Secretary Dave Prentis saying “this overwhelming show of strength from Lands End to John O’Groats has obviously taken the Local Government Association and some local councils by surprise”.

The benefits change, would effect the “85 year rule,” of the Local Government Pension scheme, which allows government employees to retire at 60 as long as the sum of their age and their years of employment sum to 85 or greater. According to union representatives, the new retirement plan is targeted at lower paid employees, leaving higher paid employees to enjoy the same benefits as before.

Ahead of the strike, the Local Government Association claimed that the changes proposed by unions “would add at least 2% a year to every council taxpayer’s bill”.

The participating unions point out this is likely to be the largest strike in Britain since 1926.