Friday, October 4, 2013

Clashes erupt at pro-Morsi demonstrations in Egypt

Clashes have erupted between supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi, opponents and security forces in the capital, Cairo, and Alexandria. There has been heavy gunfire and explosions in the city centre. State TV reported further clashes in the northern Sharqiya district and to the east in Giza, as well as in the northern port city of Alexandria. Hundreds have been killed since the military deposed Mr Morsi in July. Our correspondent says the protesters in the capital's Agouza district were chanting "Rabaa, Rabaa", a reference to the square next the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque where a sit-in was cleared by force in August. Thousands of members of the Muslim Brotherhood have also been detained in the past two months. Several senior figures, including Mr Morsi and the movement's general guide Mohammed Badie, are being held on charges such as incitement to violence and murder. The authorities portray the crackdown as a struggle against "terrorism". Before Friday's clashes, soldiers and police had tightened security around key sites in Cairo, including Tahrir Square, the focus of the mass protests against Mr Morsi and his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. Morsi supporters said they would be intensifying their demonstrations in the lead-up to Sunday's 40th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

One shot as police and youth battle in Majengo, Mombasa

One person has been shot as rioting youth engage police in running battles in Majengo area, Mombasa. The youth are protesting Thursday's night killing of Sheikh Ibrahim Rogo and three others by gunmen. A church has also been torched. Two people were rushed to the Coast General Hospital by the Red Cross as the unrest spread to Kisauni. Several others including hawkers have also been injured. Businesses in the Central Business District have been closed turning the coastal city into a ghost town. Schools have been closed and learners sent home. A contingent of General Service Unit (GSU) and regular police battling with rioters.

Four killed in Mombasa(Aboud Rogo style)

The successor of the slain Muslim cleric Sheikh Aboud Rogo, Sheikh Ibrahim Rogo was gunned down with three others on Thursday night by unknown assailants. Mr Rogo with four others were heading home from Musa mosque where he had just finished preaching when their vehicle was sprayed with bullets killing four of the five occupants about half a kilometre from Bamburi police post. The others in the vehicle were Gadaffi Mohammed who is said to be a carpenter, Issa Abdalla whose sister is married to Gadaffi was the driver of the car, Omar Abu Rumeisa and Salim Aboud who survived the attack by playing dead. Salim Aboud said they were heading home in a Toyota Fun Cargo when people on foot started shooting at their car until the car veered off the road. "We have finished them," Mr Salim Aboud heard them say as he pretended to be dead. The assailant are said to have sped-off in a Mark X. Other Muslim leaders, including Sheikh Abubakar Sheriff alias Makaburi who arrived at the scene later, pointed accusing fingers at the Anti Terrorism Police Unit. "The ATPU were here, why have they run way? What are we going to do next and why are they killing us? We have not killed any one but the police are killing innocent Muslims," said Mr Makaburi. "This actions are being led by Americans and Israelis, Sheikh Ibrahim was not at Westgate during the attack. Western governments do not want Muslims to talk about Jihad. It is part and parcel of Islam, kill us all," he said.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gunmen attack Russian embassy in Libya's Tripoli

The Russian embassy in Tripoli, Libya, came under fire and there were attempts to get into Russia’s diplomatic compound, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. One of the attackers was killed. “There has been an incident in Tripoli tonight, in which there was shelling and attempts to enter the territory of the Russian embassy in this country,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich told RT.   Libyan authorities say one assailant was killed. Four others were injured, AP reported. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, there were no injuries among embassy staff. The ITAR-TASS news agency's witnesses said attackers tore down a Russian flag. The situation was soon brought under control and there are currently no intruders on Russia’s embassy territory. According to reports, around 10 attackers drove to the embassy in two cars. Libyan News Agency (LANA) reports that they first opened fire on a parked diplomatic vehicle. A video still from Ruptly's exclusive footage shows a car burning in an almost deserted street outside the embassy. Video still from Ruptly’s exclusive footage shows the Russian Embassy in Tripoli, Libya after an attack by unknown militants on October 2, 2013. After setting the car ablaze, the attackers opened fire on the diplomatic building itself, LANA reported. But  as security forces arrived at the scene, they drove off in an unknown direction. Libya’s Interior Ministry believes the attack on the Russian embassy could have been a reaction to the reported killing of a Libyan air force pilot by a Russian woman on Tuesday. The woman was arrested by Libyan authorities and is accused of murdering the pilot, writing offensive graffiti in his blood, and stabbing his mother.  The reason for the murder is not known, but Libyan authorities noted that the graffiti expressed anti-opposition sentiments.  There has been no confirmation of this incident from Russian diplomatic channels. A similar attack on Russia’s Tripoli embassy took place in February 2012 when protesters stormed the compound, condemning Russian and Chinese decisions to block the UN resolution against Syria. No one was injured in that attack. Nearly two years after Gaddafi was deposed and killed, Tripoli and other Libyan cities have been plagued by violence, lawlessness and factional infighting. The presence of militiamen remains more visible than actual state security forces in the capital, while vast portions of the oil-producing desert country remain completely out of the central government’s control. Libya’s prime minister has appealed for international help as the country struggles through political turmoil amid stunted oil exportation which is costing the country $130 million a day. As Libya continues to be mired in post-Western intervention disarray, Gaddafi's overthrow has not shown to have yielded a conciliatory political climate as many had hoped.  “Ever since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s government we’ve seen in Libya the mob rule of countless militias or death squads,” activist and journalist Sukant Chandan told RT. One of the most vicious attacks on foreign embassies in Libya took place in September 2012, when the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed as armed militants assaulted Washington's consulate in Benghazi.

Global population to rise to 9.7bn in 2050 - French study

The world's population will rise to 9.7 billion in 2050 from the current level of 7.1 billion, according to a bi-annual report by the French Institute of Demographic Studies (Ined). It projected there would be 10 to 11 billion people on the planet by the end of the century, AFP reported. A parallel UN study in June said the global population would swell to 9.6 billion in 2050. Ined said Africa would be home to a quarter of the world's population in 2050 with 2.5 billion people, more than double the current level of 1.1 billion. The world's most populous nation is currently China with 1.3 billion people, followed by India (1.2 billion). In 2050, India with 1.6 billion will overtake China, Ined said.

UK Islamic school shut down after accusations of strict religious practices

A school in central England has been closed following controversy over its harsh Islamic line and a subsequent assessment by Government inspectors. It has been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks for its treatment of female students and teachers. A spokesperson for Ofsted, the schools watchdog, told RT: “We can confirm that Ofsted is currently undertaking a two-day inspection of the Al-Madinah School in Derby.” The BBC has reported that it ‘understands’ findings were “so damning” that the head was forced to immediately shut it down. The school had previously caused a media sensation in the UK after it was alleged that it enforced segregation by gender, meaning girls were forced to sit at the back of the classrooms. It also reportedly forced female members of staff – including non-Muslims- to wear the hijab.  The acting headmaster of Al-Madinah in Derby was prompted to shut the school without delay as the Ofsted assessment was underway, posting a message on the school’s website: “Owing to a health and safety issues, I have taken the decision to close the school to primary and secondary pupils until I am confident that all children are safe on site,” said acting Principal Dr. Stuart Wilson. “As parents, you will be informed directly, and on the website, when you are able to send your children back to school. I expect this to be in the very near future.” Parents have been gathering outside the school demanding answers. “Yesterday, I received a one-line letter telling me the school would be closed but not giving any reasons,” Ali Mohammed, who has a six year old daughter at the school, told the Derby Telegraph. “I've come down here to ask some questions. I want to know what is going on and, if there are health and safety issues, then I'm very concerned,” he said. The school, which opened in September 2012, had already been placed under investigation by the Education Funding Agency; as a free school, Al Madinah is eligible for public, central government-funding from the agency, while also being required to enter its pupils for standardized public examinations, for example GCSEs – a nationwide exam taken at the age of 16. Al-Madinah was already on the Department of Education’s radar prior to the Ofsted investigation. “The Department for Education said it discussed the school with Ofsted before we undertook the inspection,” a spokesperson for the watchdog told RT. Teachers have recently been coming forward over the harsh restrictions placed on their attire whilst tutoring in the classroom. Female teachers have faced particularly harsh victimization, with one recently quitting amidst a row over her dress. A male colleague looked her up and down and told her that she had failed to observe ‘common decency,’ according to Britain’s Daily Mail. “If I had known that it was compulsory for non-Muslim women staff [to cover up] before I started the job, I would never have accepted the post,” the anonymous teacher said.  Sue Arguile, of the National Union of Teachers, said that “Free schools set their own rules – but forcing people to agree to contractual changes could breach employment law.” The Education Funding Agency has also been investigating alleged financial irregularities, according to the BBC. The wearing of the hijab has been an ongoing source of controversy in the UK, with even Cameron voicing his support for a ban on wearing full veils in UK schools. “In a school, it’s very difficult to teach unless you can look at your pupils in the eye,” UK Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. The niqab face veil is currently banned in France and Belgium, and debate was sparked last month following the dropping of a ban at the West-Midlands based Birmingham Metropolitan College amid protests.

Hinkley C nuclear plant deal 'within weeks' of completion

A contract to build the UK's first nuclear plant in a generation is said to be "within weeks" of completion. Energy Minister Michael Fallon told the Financial Times he was "working intensely" to seal a deal for the £14bn Hinkley Point C reactor in Somerset. Long negotiations have taken place with France's EDF over the price it could charge for the electricity generated. Government approval to build the first in a planned set of new nuclear sites in the UK was granted in March. "We're not quite there yet, but I hope we will be in the next few weeks," Mr Fallon told the FT. Talks between EDF and the government stalled earlier this year over the guaranteed price at which the electricity could be sold. China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group has a co-operation agreement with EDF and could claim a stake of up to 49% in the project, the FT reports. Price concern The government's plan to meet its emissions reduction and renewable energy targets were outlined in last year's Energy Bill. It hopes the UK can become more self-sufficient in its energy by increasing the use of both nuclear and wind power, as well as other forms of clean sources such as biomass. He suggested the deal with EDF, which has not commented on the reports, would pave the way for further negotiations on new nuclear plants planned by Japan's Hitachi in Anglesey and Oldbury, in Gloucestershire. There is also said to be interest in further investment in the UK's nuclear sector from companies in South Korea, China and Japan. Mr Fallon said: "There's intense interest there because people can see that finally we're getting our civil nuclear programme moving again after the long, dead Labour years." However, environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth have raised concerns over the potentially high price for electricity the government will agree to in order to get the new plants built, and the issue of nuclear waste. Hinkley Point C will be the third nuclear plant at the Somerset site and will have the potential to provide power for five million homes. Hinkley A, which is now being decommissioned, began generating in 1965 and was closed down in 1999. Hinkley B, which started generating in 1976, is due to be turned off in 2023. The last nuclear plant built in the UK was Sizewell B in Suffolk, completed in 1995.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Gambia to withdraw from Commonwealth

The Gambia is to withdraw from the Commonwealth, 48 years after joining. The west African nation branded the 54-member grouping, which includes the UK and most of its former colonies, a "neo-colonial institution". The withdrawal was announced on state TV but no other reasons were given. Two years ago President Yahya Jammeh accused the UK of backing his political opposition ahead of elections. The UK said it would "very much regret" The Gambia leaving the Commonwealth. There is a history of tension between President Jammeh, who came to power in a 1994 coup, and the UK. Earlier this year, a Foreign Office report singled out The Gambia for its human rights record, citing cases of unlawful detentions, illegal closures of newspapers and discrimination against minority groups. In August last year The Gambia was criticised by Amnesty International and others for executing nine prisoners by firing squad. The Commonwealth was founded in 1931 but acquired its modern shape after 1949 as former British colonies and protectorates, including The Gambia, started to achieve self-government and varying degrees of independence. 'Colonialism extension' The Gambia joined the Commonwealth in 1965 The grouping dropped the word British from its name and the allegiance to the crown from its statute and other independent nations joined. In its statement, The Gambian government said it had "withdrawn its membership of the British Commonwealth". It said it had "decided that The Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism". The last time a nation left the Commonwealth was in 2003, when Zimbabwe withdrew. The UK's Foreign Office said: "Decisions on Commonwealth membership are a matter for each member government. We would very much regret Gambia, or any other country, deciding to leave the Commonwealth." Queen Elizabeth II, who is 87, is the head of the Commonwealth, which holds its next heads of government meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, next month. However, the gathering will be the first that the Queen has not attended. She is sending her son, the Prince of Wales instead, with Buckingham Palace saying she is making fewer overseas trips because of her age.

FA accused of match-fixing inaction

The Football Association has been accused of a "dereliction of duty" after failing to question three non-league clubs about suspicious betting activity on a number of games. Billericay Town, AFC Hornchurch and Chelmsford all came under scrutiny from the FA after bookmakers stopped taking bets on several matches involving the clubs in the Football Conference South last season. The FA promised to act and told clubs to "remind players and officials of their responsibilities under the rules". But the chairmen of all three Essex clubs have told BBC Sport that none of them have been questioned or even approached. The former head of the FA's compliance unit, Graham Bean, said the governing body's failure to contact the clubs was "disgraceful". He added: "It is my belief that the FA tend to stick their heads in the sand at suggestions of match-fixing and tend to give a perception that they don't think it actually exists. "When I was at the FA, I once raised the idea of having an intelligence hotline where anonymous contact could be made to report wrongdoing. I was laughed at for the suggestion." The chairman of Billericay Town now wants the FA to conduct a thorough investigation. "I am calling for the authorities in this country to investigate the possibility of match-fixing at our level of football," said Steve Kent. "How can they investigate alleged match-fixing involving my club when not a single person from the police, the FA, or the league made any kind of approach to us whatsoever? It's amazing." Last month, a group of British players in Australia were arrested and charged with match-fixing offences while playing for the Melbourne-based Stars in the second-tier Victorian Premier League. All four of the accused played non-league football in England before moving to the Stars. Three of them - Joe Woolley, Reiss Noel and Nick McKoy - joined from AFC Hornchurch. "In the light of recent events in Australia, it's time for a proper investigation," said Kent. "I'm not saying match-fixing is rife or commonplace, but from the information I have been gathering it certainly warrants an investigation. "When I saw the names involved I was shocked. The names I was reading I was so familiar with. Last season, they were all playing at our level. We played against them. That's what shocked me the most. "You don't know if it's gone on. There were rumours last year in the press so it makes you wonder. I didn't believe that there could be match-fixing at this level, I thought the players were too honest." Colin McBride, the chairman of AFC Hornchurch, told the BBC he was backing Billericay's stance and said the FA had been "amateurish". "It's surprising the FA didn't contact us, you'd have thought we'd have got a courtesy call," he said. "We feel in limbo. We can't draw a line under it and we want to move on. That's the disappointing thing, I think we deserve an answer." McBride said he hoped his former players, who he described as "good lads, good footballers", were acquitted. "I truly hope they're innocent," he said. "I'm deeply shocked and deeply upset. I truly hope they're found not guilty." The BBC has learnt that concerns were raised at the FA and within the betting industry when irregular amounts of money were gambled on certain Conference South matches last season. For example, despite being a match in the sixth tier of the English game, played out in front of just 408 spectators, hundreds of thousands of pounds was placed on Billericay's away match at Welling in November, the vast majority of it on Asian betting exchanges. "It was a phenomenal amount of money," said Kent, who has conducted his own inquiries into why bookmakers suddenly stopped taking bets on matches involving his club. "There was more money bet on our game than on the Barcelona game [that week]. That's where the story came from. The FA and the league picked up on that but they did nothing about it. "If there is a problem, let's sort it out, get rid of it and move on. The FA are the only ones that can do it really - they have the power." Kent said not everyone is happy he has decided to speak out, but he is determined the issue is addressed. He added: "We don't want cheating, we don't want to win or lose just because someone has identified our club as vulnerable, or someone wants to make a fast buck. "We want to know that when we go to a game our players have given their best." Sources at the FA have told the BBC that a lack of direct contact with Billericay, AFC Hornchurch and Chelmsford does not mean enquiries have not been made. The BBC has also learned that the governing body has been sharing information with the authorities in Australia. "The FA takes the matter of integrity extremely seriously," said a spokesman. "The FA does not confirm any details of investigations or enquiries made, or indeed whether they are ongoing." Former FA chairman Lord Triesman told the BBC he was "astonished" to learn that no-one at Billericay, Hornchurch or Chelmsford had been interviewed by the FA. He added: "It seems to me to be one of the first obligations of the organisation to ensure the sport's properly regulated and scrupulously fair. "Match-fixing, which has been a huge problem in leagues around the world, is one of the most critical problems. It destroys the ethics of the game." Asked if he thought match-fixing was going on in English football, Triesman added: "You can never be complacent about it. "If there's a credible allegation, it should be investigated immediately by the regulatory body. That is their duty."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

67 armed robbery suspects in ‘Kimbunga’ dragnet

AT least 67 armed robbery suspects have been nabbed in the first week of the second phase of a special operation against illegal immigrants, nicknamed ‘Kimbunga’ that focused on identification and deportation of aliens living in the country without proper accreditation. According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Dar es Salaam on Monday quoting a special report compiled by the operation’s news team on the ground, some 134 illegal immigrants have been arrested in Kagera, Kigoma and Geita regions between September 21st and 27th, this year. “The assortment of weaponry impounded include one Sub-Machine Gun (SMG), a pistol, 17 muzzle guns (gobole) and 115 rounds of ammunition, 102 of them used for or SMG and the remaining 13 for pistol. Several pairs of Burundi military uniform were also impounded,” reads part of the statement availed to the media yesterday. Out of 134 illegal immigrants, 114 came from Burundi while 20 others originated from Rwanda. However, three residents were also arrested after being found giving refuge to illegal immigrants. Challenges related to the presence of illegal immigrants in the country has prompted an important meeting by Karagwe District Administration in Kagera Region, the area perhaps affected most in the last few years. The District Commissioner of Karagwe (DC), Ms Dari Rwegasira, has convened a meeting for local government leaders from different levels of administration. The aim of the meeting was to deliberate on the problem of illegal immigrants and agreed on concrete measures to redress the situation. The meeting, held at the Karagwe District Conference Hall, last weekend brought together ward and divisional executives and agreed, among other issues, on the need for all leaders, starting with the village level, to take responsibility and regularly check on arrival or presence of illegal immigrants in their places of domicile and report to higher authorities for appropriate action. “Cattle rustling, armed robbery, farm land boundary disputes and indiscriminate killing of civilians has frequently been reported in Karagwe District, hampering development activities. Some other places like Kimisi Forest in the district has become ‘no-go’ area as armed robbers took cover in the forest,” says the statement. To prove the magnitude of crime in the area, 271 litres of illicit brew, gongo, were impounded in the process in addition to fox hides, three kilogrammes of marijuana (bhang) and 12 under-size fishing nets. Among other deliberations at the end of the joint meeting include the compulsory commitment by local authorities at all levels in addressing the problem of illegal immigrants in a sustainable manner. All leaders had to take an oath of allegiance and sign the commitment which reads; “Illegal immigrants should not be allowed to stay in the villages, herds of livestock must be restricted and all sponsors of illegal immigrants who provide them with shelters and other necessities should be exposed for disciplinary measures against them,” entails part of the joint communiqué. It was further agreed that any of illegal immigrants still seen in villages should be reported, failure to which would lead to taking of responsibility by the respective local authorities. “Meticulous inspection should be carried out immediately to expose all illegal immigrants said to be hiding in the forest or livestock ranches located in the area. The inspection will involve different security and defence units and every village leadership should keep an up-to-date record of visitors to their places,” reads another item related to the agreement. Finally, delegates to the meeting agreed that all deported illegal immigrants should not be allowed to return to the country and all residence permits previously issued to aliens should be reviewed for verification.

War on illegal drugs failing, medical researchers warn

llegal drugs are now cheaper and purer globally than at any time over the last 20 years, a report has warned. The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy said its report suggested the war on drugs had failed. The report, published in the British Medical Journal Open, looked at data from seven international government-funded drug surveillance systems. Its researchers said it was time to consider drug use a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue. The seven drug surveillance systems the study looked at had at least 10 years of information on the price and purity of cannabis, cocaine and opiates, including heroin. The report said street prices of drugs had fallen in real terms between 1990 and 2010, while their purity and potency had increased. In Europe, for example, the average price of opiates and cocaine, adjusted for inflation and purity, decreased by 74% and 51% respectively between 1990 and 2010, the Vancouver-based centre said. The report also found there had been a substantial increase in most parts of the world in the amount of cocaine, heroin and cannabis seized by law enforcement agencies since 1990. Most national drug control strategies have focused on law enforcement to curb supply despite calls to explore other approaches, such as decriminalisation and strict legal regulation, it said. It concluded: "These findings suggest that expanding efforts at controlling the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing." Co-author Dr Evan Wood, scientific chairman of the centre, said: "We should look to implement policies that place community health and safety at the forefront of our efforts, and consider drug use a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue. "With the recognition that efforts to reduce drug supply are unlikely to be successful, there is a clear need to scale up addiction treatment and other strategies that can effectively reduce drug-related harm." The study comes two days after a senior UK police officer said class A drugs should be decriminalised. On Sunday, Chief Constable Mike Barton, of Durham Police, said drug addicts should be "treated and cared for, not criminalised". The chief constable, who is the intelligence lead for the Association of Chief Police Officers, told the Observer he believed decriminalisation would take away the income of dealers, destroy their power, and that a "controlled environment" would be a more successful way of tackling the issue. He said prohibition had put billions of pounds into the hands of criminals and called for an open debate on the problems caused by drugs. Mr Barton is among a small number of top police officers in the UK who have called for a major review of drugs policy. 'Tackle organised crime' Danny Kushlick, of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, welcomed Mr Barton's comments and said prohibition of drugs had been a "miserable failure". "We desperately need to shift the regime from a prohibitionist one to one of legal regulation," he said. He said criminalising drugs had "gifted one of the largest commodity trades on earth to organised crime". "It's an absolute no brainer for any government that is thinking responsibly about how best to regulate these things that they look after them and don't leave it in the hands of criminals," Mr Kushlick added. The Home Office said drugs were illegal because they were dangerous. It said the UK's approach on drugs was clear: "We must help individuals who are dependent by treatment, while ensuring law enforcement protects society by stopping the supply and tackling the organised crime that is associated with the drugs trade."

Teachers strike over pay and pensions

Members of the two biggest teaching unions in the UK are striking in a row over pay, pensions and workloads. The walkout is affecting schools in 49 authorities in the east of England, the Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber. It is part of a continuing campaign of rolling regional strikes involving members of the NUT and NASUWT. The government said the strike action would disrupt pupils' learning, inconvenience parents and damage the reputation of teachers. Between them, the two unions represent nine out of 10 teachers. They are angry about changes to their pensions, increased workload and about government plans to bring in performance-related pay, from this autumn. 'Relentless attacks' NUT general secretary Christine Blower, said: "No teacher takes strike action lightly but the intransigence of this education secretary has left teachers with no choice. "We cannot stand by and watch our profession be systematically attacked and undermined. "There needs to be a change in the government's attitude to teachers and education." Susi Artis, a spokeswoman for the NUT in Nottingham, said: "I recognise that for a lot of parents this is really inconvenient and we're very sorry for that. Striking is very much a last resort." Ian Lever, from the NUT in Leicester, said: "Teachers are very angry about what is happening to the education system in this country and are prepared to make a stand on it. "These are relentless attacks from this government, not just on our pay and conditions, but on the education system in general. "As professionals, as people who care about education, teachers are saying 'enough is enough' - we have to do something about this." 'Share childcare' Jane Lucas, a parent from Coventry, said one of her children is at home and one at school. She said: "Luckily, there's a couple of mums that we've managed to rally round and we're going to share the childcare today. "It's difficult because I do support any worker who wants to fight for the right of their pensions and pay, it's just unfortunate that it's affecting children." Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "Strike action is a last resort, teachers have been left with no choice but to demonstrate their anger and frustration in the face of their genuine concerns being dismissed and trivialised. "Teachers of course deeply regret any disruption to children and families. "Such action would have been unnecessary had the Secretary of State been prepared to engage in genuine discussions." A Department for Education spokesman said: "It is disappointing that the NUT and NASUWT are striking over the government's measures to allow heads to pay good teachers more. "Industrial action will disrupt pupils' education, hugely inconvenience parents and damage the profession's reputation in the eyes of the public at a time when our reforms are driving up standards across the country. "In a recent poll, 61% of respondents supported linking teachers' pay to performance and 70% either opposed the strikes or believed that teachers should not be allowed to strike at all." A further regional strike is planned in London, the North East, South East and South West on 17 October. Plans for a national one-day walkout before Christmas have also been announced by the two unions.