General News

STFC:  Exactly 100 years ago, in May 1911, the New Zealand born scientist, Ernest Rutherford, published a paper in which he explained a puzzling experiment that had been carried out in Manchester two years earlier.  It took him that long to work out what was going on.

The paper, in which Rutherford introduces the atomic nucleus, changed our world forever.  Today, everyone learns about that famous experiment: the one with the alpha particles and the gold leaf.  It showed for the very first time that atoms, the tiny building blocks of everything in the Universe, have internal structure that we can see.  You can see a recreation of Rutherford 's experiment as part of STFC's Backstage Science project.

Press release & links

MoD:  The ship that will fulfil HMS Endurance's role as an interim Antarctic patrol vessel entered Portsmouth Naval Base for the first time on Monday 23 May 2011.  The ice-breaker MV Polarbjorn - to be named HMS Protector - has been leased on a 3-year contract from Norwegian company GC Rieber Shipping and has just had an intensive ten-day refit in Odense, Denmark.

The vessel - painted in the same distinctive red and white livery as her predecessor ice patrol ships - entered Portsmouth as MV Protector under the Norwegian flag.  She will be officially named HMS Protector on 1 June 2011 and will be commissioned into the Royal Navy fleet on 23 June 2011.  She will deploy on the Navy's Antarctic task in November 2011, serving in the region for the 2011-12 austral summer. Meanwhile, the long-term future of Endurance will be considered.
Press release & links

PCS:  More than a quarter of a million civil & public servants in PCS started voting last week in a national strike ballot over cuts to pensions, jobs & pay.  The ballot closes on 15 June 2011, with the first action possible later that month
Press release & links
PCS:  Members of PCS in the Forestry Commission reacted angrily to news that one in four of their jobs will be cut.  The union says that the Forestry Commission management is acting in bad faith by announcing such draconian cuts 3 months ahead of the independent panel's interim report and 11 months ahead of the final report.
Press release & links

MoD:  An American & British Service personnel task force which will share experience & best practice to support wounded, injured & sick personnel will be established following last week’s meeting between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The task force will also share experiences on how best to support transition to civilian life for those leaving the Services and how to support Service personnel, veterans and their families, in particular linking them to local communities.
Press release & links

DfT:  Following major reforms to the Blue Badge scheme announced earlier this year, 7 major supermarket chains have now given their support for the Government’s drive to eradicate Blue Badge abuse.  Responding to the concerns of disability groups, Local Transport Minister Norman Baker wrote to all major supermarkets urging them to do what they could to enforce the scheme on their premises.

So far Aldi, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Lidl have all responded positively saying that drivers found abusing designated disabled bays will be issued with parking charge notices in some circumstances, alongside other measures including car park patrols, leafleting of vehicles and requests over in-store tannoys.
Press release & links

DCMS:  If you missed out on the chance to apply for tickets to next summer's Olympics or want to get a flavour of what London 2012 will be like, this could be your chance.  The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has announced that tickets for some of its first test events this summer are on sale to the public.
The events, which will be known as the London Prepares series, include the first competitive sports to take place on the Olympic Park and will feature top athletes from around the world.  Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster priced at between £5 & £35 and will be sold on a first come, first served basis.
Press release & links

Newswire – HPA:  The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is aware that is currently experiencing a large outbreak of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), which is a serious complication from verocytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) infection that requires hospitalisation.  Since the second week of May, there have been reports of approximately 214 cases of HUS and 2 people are reported to have died.

The outbreak is mainly affecting adults - almost 70% of who are female.  The cases are occurring mainly in northern , but there are also reports from southern and eastern .  has so far seen two cases in German nationals with compatible symptoms.  Other European countries have also seen cases of HUS and bloody diarrhoea among returning travellers.

The German authorities believe that a food source of infection is likely, and, early studies implicate raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.  Although it is not clear whether one or more of these food items are associated with the outbreak, as a precaution they are advising people in Germany against eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce, especially in the north of the country, until further notice.
Press release & links ~ FSA press release

FSA:  The Food Standards Agency has been notified that Channell’s Norfolk Preserves Ltd is re-labelling its Sticky Rib Sauce and Barbecue Sauce products because they contain allergens that are not mentioned on the labels.  The sauces are sold in the region only.
Press release & links

MoD:  A new gardening project to help provide therapy for Service personnel undergoing rehabilitation at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court was launched last week.  The idea is that the newly-refurbished greenhouse & allotment area will challenge patients with complex polytraumatic injuries and encourage them to overcome the challenges of working at different heights, standing on varying slopes and surfaces, as well as lifting and moving objects.
The gardening tasks also provide cognitive therapy for troops, with evidence suggesting that being in an outdoor environment reduces stress which can lead to improved concentration and encourage people to think through their problems or concerns.
The gardening project is the brainchild of Major Peter Le Feuvre who enlisted the help of the Queen Elizabeth Foundation which provides intensive vocational rehabilitation for unemployed, disabled adults experiencing multiple barriers to work.
Press release & links ~ Queen Elizabeth Foundation



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