IRAQ BARREL BOMBS: Iraqi army condemned for bombing civilian areas

The armed forces and government of Iraq has been recently condemned for wholesale destruction of civilian areas in territory held by the Islamic State (IS) militia, according to a report published yesterday by Britain’s The Independent newspaper. Both the army and government are fighting a tough battle of bullets and hearts against the Islamic State, who have overran large parts of Iraq‘s north and central regions in rapid succession, inflicting numerous atrocities. The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS and ISIL, drove out Iraqi Army battalions in its advance on several towns and cities. As it has cemented its power, IS has killed and abducted hundreds of people from the country’s ethnic and religious minorities as it self-declared a caliphate across the parts of Iraq and Syria where it holds sway. IS have also beheaded two American journalists and one Syrian reporter and a British aid worker in quick succession as it threatens the West against interfering in the conflict.

The armed forces of Iraq have already been accused of killing ‘scores’ of civilians as it bombs residential areas in cities occupied by IS in its attempts to flush out the militia’s fighters. The recently appointed prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has ordered the ceasing of bombing raids using highly destructive and illegal ‘barrel bombs’ on civilian areas yesterday (Saturday 13 August) to comply with conditions set by Iraqi Sunni tribal leaders who have agreed to pledge their support against the IS. The order was drafted in the previous Thursday; however reports from a source at a hospital in the city of Fallujah claim that on the same day that Prime Minister al-Abadi ordered the cessation of bombing, fourteen barrel bombs were dropped in the area, murdering twenty-two civilians.

I have ordered the Iraqi Air Force to halt shelling of civilian areas even in those towns controlled by Isis,” Abadi said on his official Twitter account. 

International charities observing the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq, including Human Rights Watch have recorded widespread and continual use of barrel bombs by Iraqi national forces since the IS began spilling across the Syrian-Iraqi border to set up their de facto caliphate earlier this year. IS now are said to control a third of Iraq, an area the size of the British Isles and have overrun parts of the autonomous Kurdistan region in Iraq’s north, where they have viciously persecuted the Yazidi, Turkmen, Assyrian Christian and Shi’a communities, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee for safer areas. IS now control several of the north’s major cities, including Mosul, Ramadi and Fallujah.

The devastation of barrel bombs – as seen in this eyewitness photo of damage in Syria.

IS militants have cleared out the old civilian and governmental agencies in their zone and established replacements staffed by their cadres. The streets of occupied cities like Fallujah often have IS fighters intermingling with locals, making it hard for government troops to separate the combatant from the innocent. As a result, entire cities under IS control have been considered legitimate targets by Iraq’s government, who have adopted an indiscriminate bombing approach. In July 2014, Human Rights Watch reported that the army was dropping barrel bombs on civilians in Isis-controlled towns including Fallujah, Beiji, Mosul, Tikrit and al-Sherqat. The charity claimed that seventy-five civilians have already perished in just one month of air strikes by their country’s air force and that barrel bombs accounted for seventeen of those deaths. Women and children were among the victims. Human Rights Watch have appealed to American and allied forces to discontinue the supply of heavy-grade weaponry and ammunition to Iraqi forces until they end their violation of war protocol and cease killing innocent civilians.

The Iraqi government may be fighting a vicious insurgency, but that’s no license to kill civilians anywhere they think Isis might be lurking,” said Joe Stork, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

The government’s air strikes are wreaking an awful toll on ordinary residents.”

The city of Fallujah has particularly suffered from the Iraqi army’s indiscriminate air raids, with much of the city left in ruins as Iraqi warplanes began operations against IS militants holed up there since January. It was the first large city to fall to IS. One witness, a 40-year-old man named in the report as Amar, claimed he saw an Iraqi barrel bomb on the 6th of July that claimed the lives of his brother and two unrelated people.

They had been fixing a generator that provides electricity to the al-Shurta area of Fallujah minutes before the attack.

I went to my house which is about 50 yards away,” he said.

The generator is in a yard and the barrel bombs fell on the street between the generator and the houses.

It was like an earthquake and I ran to my brother, I saw his body and I saw four cars burning in the street.”

The other fatalities were a supermarket owner and a woman whose body parts had to be collected in a blanket by neighbours.

I saw the bottom of the barrel and shrapnel,” Amar said, describing the bomb as a “ball of fire” dropped from a helicopter.

Under international treaties and law, the use of barrel bombs is illegal in civilian areas. The bombs tend to be made on a shoestring budget, and usually consist of a metal container, often a simple oil barrel, filled with explosives and shrapnel. The bomb is allowed to fall from a height and is activated via an inbuilt timer fuse. The bombs are designed to cause maximum damage and injury over a wide area, which makes them exceptionally lethal if dropped in a locale such as a residential street.

Also known as ‘flying IEDs‘ as they are an airborne version of the IEDs that were popular among militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, barrel bombs are normally dropped manually from helicopters or airplanes. Their size, lack of precision and indiscriminate impact upon detonation has drawn considerable criticism abroad and are banned under most international conventions of warfare as ‘weapons of terror’. The earliest known use was in Sudan in the 1990s where they were rolled out of cargo-doors of transport planes by the Sudanese army against civilian rebellions in Darfur region and what is now the independent  nation of South Sudan. A barrel bomb is capable of levelling entire apartments. Cheaper than conventional bombs and relatively easy to manufacture on limited resources, they can cost as little as $200-300 to produce.

Barrel bombs have also been reported being dropped against towns in neighbouring Syria, and their usage in civilian areas there was one of the human rights abuses cited against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by international observers. The United Nations, which has expressed grave concerns against the war in both countries, recently published a report via its Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in which it stated: “The use of barrel bombs [indiscriminately in civilian areas] amounts to area bombardment, prohibited under international humanitarian law as a tactic that spreads terror among the civilian population,

The United Nations representative for Iraq, Nikolay Mladenov, expressed his satisfaction at Iraqi prime minister al-Abadi’s move to stop the barrel bombs. He said: “Protection of civilians and ensuring their safety and security is a paramount priority for the United Nations

In February 2014, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution that demanded an end to indiscriminate aerial bombardment including the use of barrel bombs. However their use in Iraq and Syria has seen the number of incidents skyrocket since the beginning of 2014.

SOURCES:
Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind
The Independent, Twitter https://twitter.com/Independent
“Islamic State: Iraqi Government’s illegal barrel bombing of civilian areas ‘to be stopped’ ” – Lizzie Dearden (additional reporting via Reuters), The Independent (13 September 2014) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/islamic-state-iraqi-governments-illegal-barrel-bombing-of-civilian-areas-to-be-stopped-9731317.html
“Barrel bomb” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrel_bomb
IMAGE CREDITS:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

 

PHOTO MOMENT: Old Skool Raver

(c) original designer via Riki Blac

A Photoshop designed poster for a ‘old school’ music event being held in south-east London. The capital city of the United Kingdom is home to a varied and exciting musical scene encompassing many niches, tastes and cultures. Nightclub events such as ‘Old Skool Raver‘ are particularly popular among the city’s younger music lovers, drawn by the banging beats, relatively cheap alcohol and experiences of fun. These events are highly publicised via brightly coloured flyers and posters which have become works of art in their own right, even though mainstream designers and the modern art world may generally regard such ephemera generally as promotional tat. Some music posters for famous bands and events such as Live Aid (1985), the Woodstock festival and early illegal warehouse raves in the late Eighties are now prized collectors’ items fetching sometimes hundreds of pounds on auction sites.

Different ‘club nights’, as they are usually known as in the industry, will often have performances and artistes from particular musical genres. The most popular in terms of ticket sales are pop, garage, R&B, reggae, dancehall, bashment and house music. Many ravers nostalgic for their younger partying days will find that London in particular caters well with its many ‘old school’ nights showcasing memorable hits from the 80s, 90s and 2000s.

The poster above features the obligatory line-up of acts scheduled for the night, and graphics reminiscent of what truly defined an early 1990’s raver. Also shown is the singer Stush, the ‘First Lady of British Dancehall’, who has been active in the local underground music scene since 2002. Her music has been featured in the tough inner city life film Adulthood.

ADDITIONAL SOURCE:
“All Hail Stush: First Lady of British Dancehall” – Bashment Vibes (9 August 2013) http://www.bashmentvibes.com/2013/08/09/all-hail-stush-first-lady-of-british-dancehall/
IMAGE CREDITS:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter https://twitter.com/VShah1984
land of da legends, Twitter https://twitter.com/landofdalegends
Riki Blac, Twitter https://twitter.com/BushBash

UPCOMING BLOCKBUSTERS: Jurassic World & Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

with Sunny Atwal (idea contributor)

Today’s feature is a special sneak preview of two guaranteed crowd-pleasers that will be hitting your local cinema in the next couple of years. The highly anticipated prehistoric flick Jurassic World - the newest instalment of the Jurassic Park film series is coming out next year. While keeping to the dinosaurs-coming-back-to-life-and-devouring-your-friends format, this new film is said to be a updated rejig in a bid to escape the dreaded ‘curse of the sequel’. A year later, join the red-caped laser-vision totting reporter from the planet Krypton as he squares up against the millionaire behind the wheel of the Batmobile in Batman v Superman - Dawn of Justice due for release in 2016Both films are sure-fire box office winners and look likely to pack out British cinemas upon their release, as their predecessors have already shown. So what is in store for fans of these two action-packed flicks? The Half-Eaten Mind goes into the murky depths of the interwebz to find out more.

Jurassic World is the fourth instalment in the Jurassic Park series, which first stomped onto our screens right back in 1993. The films revolve around a group of scientists who have successfully brought dinosaurs and flying reptiles back from extinction using ancient DNA from a mosquito trapped for millennia in amber. They create a park where the dinosaurs roam free, but death and devastation soon ensue. The previous film in the series, Jurassic Park III was released in 2001. Since then, the filmmakers had endured a ‘development hell’ trying to get Jurassic World past the storyboard stage. Progress was also slowed by infighting between the Jurassic Park writers and Universal Studios. The Jurassic Park franchise is one of Hollywood‘s most successful as well as universally appealing productions. The entire series is said to have grossed $1.9 billion (£1.2 billion) in ticket sales and merchandising since the first film introduced us to beasts from times long gone.

Off the coast of Central America, Isla Nublar, the home of the ill-fated original Jurassic Park is now home to a new and improved version as originally developed by the elderly archaeologist John Hammond (played by the late great Richard Attenborough, father of British wildlife documentary presenter David Attenborough). This new park is owned by a bunch of corporate suits, the Masrani Corporation. While the park is now mishap-free, with no Tyrannosaurus Rex devouring unfortunates hiding in toilet cubicles or Velociraptors rampaging in the Park’s kitchens, visitor numbers have declined. Faced with falling ticket sales, the Masrani scientists head back to the genetic drawing board to create a primordial attraction that will change the fortunes of the world’s strangest wildlife park. Their efforts at playing prehistoric God however create an attraction that becomes famous…for bloodthirsty reasons. For those interested in the small details, a recently released Jurassic World leaflet describing the park’s attractions was tweeted by a fan. There is a bamboo forest, a golf course, the original research laboratory, a gentle giants petting zoo for younger visitors, an interactive ride with a gyrosphere, an underwater observatory and a ‘Cretaceous Cruise’ where you do not just walk with dinosaurs, you paddle with them, while witnessing 100 species of prehistoric life. 

(c) M. Englert via Wikipedia

(c) M. Englert via Wikipedia

The film features a variety of new names and is also the second not to be directed by eminent director Steven Spielberg, although he will sit in the producer’s chair. New director Colin Trevorrow has also signed on Irrfan Khan of Salaam Bombay! and Life of Pi fame, the first Bollywood actor from India to ever appear in a Jurassic Park franchise. The film is said to be a complete reboot of the original storyline, and that apparently there will be no feathered dinosaurs appearing. Fans of the movies need not be disappointed though, as despite the brand-new storyline, the traditional elements of the Park will still remain, so expect plenty of crashed jeeps, footprints, rustling vegetation, glass-eyed and fearsome dinosaurs and people getting dined on. Lead actor Chris Pratt also reassured fans on the movie’s semi-official website saying that the film was safe in the hands of Trevorrow and that it would “knock your socks off“. As to what the mysterious and lethal attraction will be in Jurassic World, lips are sealed but one insider said that filmgoers will “want to keep the lights on after you see this movie“. Fans’ appetites are already whetted as the publicity hype for Jurassic World starts warming up with the release of official poster work at the recent Comic-Con convention held recently, and the trailer to be released during the 2015 Superbowl in the United States. A special Jurassic World attractions map and a multilingual visitor’s leaflet with adverts by American Airlines also made an appearance. The director also got in on the hype by tweeting a picture of a film-branded clapboard nestled in between the fearsome jaws of what appears to be a ‘T-Rex’. Trevorrow simply titled it ‘Wrap’. It is believed much of the movie will be filmed in the tropical paradise of Hawai’i, famed for its dense and primeval jungles. Four months of filming is now wrapped out and Jurassic World is now in the post-production stages. The film is due for release on the 12th June, 2015.

(c) C. Trevorrow

Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Produced by Patrick Crowley
Frank Marshall
Screenplay by Colin Trevorrow
Derek Connolly
Story by Rick Jaffa
Amanda Silver

Colin Trevorrow
Derek Connolly
Based on Characters and Jurassic Park
by Michael Crichton
Starring Chris Pratt (Owen)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire)
Jake Johnson (Lowery)
Nick Robinson (Zach)
Ty Simpkins (Gray)
BD Wong (Dr. Henry Wu)
Irrfan Khan (Dr. Rajesh Masrani, owner of Jurassic World)
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography John Schwartzman
Production
company
Legendary Pictures
Amblin Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s)
  • June 12, 2015
Country United States
Language English

*********

While we headed 65-plus million years in to the past with Jurassic World, now take a journey into the not too distant future as Superman takes on his rival superhero Batman in Batman v Superman – Dawn of Justice. These two will meet in a monumental clash in a film where even their respective logos will be fused together, as they tussle for supremacy in the mean streets of Metropolis and Gotham City. While both are from the DC Comics stable, this is the first time Batman and Superman have gone head-to-head and is certain to make life and arguments tough as their fans are forced to take sides in this epic clash of the comic world’s favourite protagonists. Dawn of Justice is the intended sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel and the second instalment in the DC Cinematic Universe. It is being directed by Zack Snyder and the screenplay was written by Chris Terrio. The cast includes Henry CavillBen Affleck,Gal GadotAmy AdamsLaurence FishburneDiane LaneJesse EisenbergJeremy Irons, and Holly Hunter. Ben Affleck stars as the titular Batman while Henry Cavill will be effortlessly switching between meek reported Clark Kent and his red-caped alter ego. Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot will also make her first appearance on the silver screen. The film was announced at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International, shortly after the release of Man of Steel. 

(c) W10002 via Flickr/Compfight

At this early stage, little is being disclosed of the plot, but what is known is that Batman’s suit will shed the armour seen in previous films and return to the cloth material that swaddled the Caped Crusader in the Sixties (with a second armoured suit on standby though). Superman’s costume will be updated and tweaked, but the exact designs are currently top secret. Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor, the megalomaniac bent on destroying both Superman and the world in the original Superman flicks from the Eighties, will still retain his distinctive bald pate, according to IGN news network. Other sources however are claiming that Luthor will have a shock of wavy red hair, as he used to have in the original DC comics.

Filming and pre-production has been in full swing since May this year. A source told fan magazine Batman News that film shooting with Affleck and the Batmobile in attendance has been spotted at a docks terminal, but this is the only eyewitness account as the docks are private property and off-limits to photographers or film hacks hoping for a new scoop on Affleck reprising the Batman role.

There is filming taking place on a seaside port at night. It seems as if The Batmobile has and will be involved. A chase scene has been filmed that included a lot of stunts. A Batman stunt double was used to film a scene that had Batman standing on the top of a 40+ story crane. Most of this shooting has been stunt double heavy.” – Batman on Film

There is a great air of secrecy around Dawn of Justice, especially with the plot. This is to be expected though from such a big blockbuster, as Snyder keeps comic fans chomping on the bit by dishing out a few interviews and special pictures once in a while. Many are speculating that the movie is a ground breaker for a possible Justice League flick possibly coming out in the same year, if the online rumour mill is to be believed.

Batman vs Superman – Dawn of Justice will be released in the United States on March 25, 2016 in 3D format. The release date for the United Kingdom is April 29, 2016, and dates for other countries are not known at this stage in time.

Directed by Zack Snyder
Produced by
Screenplay by Chris Terrio
Story by
Based on Characters published
by DC Comics
Starring
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Larry Fong
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s)
  • March 25, 2016(United States)
Country United States
Language English
SOURCES:
“Jurassic World” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurassic_World
“Chris Pratt says Jurassic World will ‘knock your socks off’ ” – Chris Picard, Scified Jurassic World/Scified.com (6 August 2014) http://www.scified.com/site/jurassicworld/chris-pratt-says-jurassic-world-will-knock-your-socks-off
“New Jurassic Park film gets name and 2015 release date” – BBC Newsbeat – Entertainment (11 September 2013) http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/24044783
“‘Jurassic World’: New Park Map & Brochure Images Tease Dino Attractions” – B.C. Edwards, Screen Rant/Screen Rant, LLC http://screenrant.com/jurassic-world-park-map-brochures/
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_v_Superman:_Dawn_of_Justice
“BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE – LOOKS LIKE JESSE EISENBERG’S LEX LUTHOR MAY INDEED BE BALD” – IGN UK/ IGN Entertainment Inc/Ziff Davis (5 September 2014) http://uk.ign.com/articles/2014/09/05/batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice-looks-like-jesse-eisenbergs-lex-luthor-may-indeed-be-bald
“Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice: All Night Only So Far!” –  Sam Hayes, Moviepilot (4 September 2014) http://moviepilot.com/posts/2014/09/04/batman-vs-superman-dawn-of-justice-all-night-only-so-far-2247780?lt_source=external,manual#!bQXAAY
“‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ night shoot featured Batman and the Batmobile” – Chris Begley, Batman News (4 September 2014) http://batman-news.com/2014/09/04/batman-v-superman-dawn-justice-night-shoot-featured-batman-batmobile/
IMAGE CREDITS:
“File:JurassicWorldComicConPoster.jpg” – Mark Englert via Crumpled Fire, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (21 July 2014) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:JurassicWorldComicConPoster.jpg
Colin Trevorrow, Twitter https://twitter.com/colintrevorrow
W10002, Flickr via Compfight http://compfight.com/search/Batman-v-Superman/1-3-1-1

PHOTO MOMENT: My niece Shaniya’s fifth birthday

This 18th September 2014, my niece Shaniya turns a half-decade old. Only a few weeks short of her fifth birthday, she has grown to a remarkably intelligent and polite little girl. This week, she started reception class at a nearby primary school after being done with nursery. She got to meet her new teacher, Mrs. Cook and a host of new friends and seems to adapting well to the new environment.

I have already sorted out a couple of nice presents for her, of which one still is being waited on to be delivered. I’m not sure what her parents are planning for her birthday yet, but I do know she will get a nice birthday cake, lots of presents, hugs, kisses and exhaustion from running around all over the flat on her special day. She loves cake and on a previous birthday bash, actually showed more enthusiasm for the chocolate gateau she was presented with, than the presents themselves.

My niece has stunned me by how much she has learned from family and from her old nursery. She is a quick learner and likes to pretend to be a princess or a superhero. Her favourite superheroes are Spiderman, Batman and the Incredible Hulk. She is very chatty, practically non-stop, and likes to sing the song “Let It Go” from the Disney film ‘Frozen’.

In honour of my crazy ‘Shooby’ I made this special ‘birthday flyer’ using piZap. I used a ‘Hello Kitty’ wallpaper as the background. This was the canvas which I used to then build upon the flyer. Hello Kitty is one of my niece’s cartoon characters of choice and the Japanese kawaii cat by Sanrio in fact is celebrating its own 40th birthday this year.

Shanis 5th bday flyer pizap.com14100003144411

To give you an idea of how I made the flyer, which I know my niece is going to love, here is the ‘recipe’ I wrote on Notepad as I was putting everything together and planning on the trot:-

Ingredients for Shaniya’s 5th b’day poster:

1. Pre-downloaded pink Hello Kitty wallpaper – uploaded to pizap.
2. Text “Happy 5th Birthday” in deep pink with white backglow. Typeface used was Black Chancery at size 30.
3. Text “SHANIYA” in white with a pink/purple backglow. Typeface – Sniglet at size 50.
4. Text “18 September 2014″ – date of her fifth birthday with pea green Cutty Cupcakes typeface at size 50, angled
at a slant
5. “Best wishes…”text typed in black Times New Roman at 24. Text box then tilted.
6. Added in stickers from the birthday section of the stickers section.
7. Added in yellow “Star of Bethlehem” sparkles from sparkles section.
8. Added assortment of pictures of Shaniya from family images on USB drive.
9. Finally added some traditional embroidered hearts from the hearts section.

The pictures are of Shaniya in some of her favourite poses and costumes, especially her princess dresses. That cheeky grin of hers is a common feature too. She is very photogenic and not only likes putting a show for the camera but also is quite good at taking pictures herself.

I’ll leave you with a selection of quotes from Nye-Nye herself and another piZap creation made by her mum, Alia.

“Football is Skittles, and Skittles come from the Fruit Shoot”

“I’m a good girl!!”

“Monsters in the rosebush”

“I am Spiderman….psshhhhh”

“Nani/Mum/Daddy…I want chocolate”

“Give me huggles”

“You count, I hide!”

“I want to go shops Mum, buy sweeties”

“What spells chair?….good job!”

“Vijaymama, can I play with your phone?…I’ll keep it on charge”

(c) A. Ropun/piZap

(c) A. Ropun/piZap

 

+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY – SHANIYA!!!*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+

IMAGE CREDITS:
“Hello Kitty wallpaper” – HDW http://hdw.eweb4.com/out/261729.html
piZap http://pizap.com/
Shaniya’s pictures by myself, Alia and Anjali.

ASHYA KING: Seriously ill UK child found in Spain, parents detained

Ashya King, the five-year-old Hampshire child who was taken by his parents as they fled with him and several of his siblings to the Continent while he was about to undergo critical radiotherapy treatment for cancer, has been found safe and well, reports British tabloid Metro.

King, who suffers from a brain tumour, was taken from his hospital bed at Southampton General Hospital in southern England by his parents Brett and Naghemeh, both said to be devout Jehovah’s Witnesses ( a branch of Christianity which does not permit medical blood transfusions). After the abduction last week, British police put out an appeal for Ashya’s return, encouraging people with relatives in the European mainland to advise them to be on the lookout for the little boy, who needs vital hospital care around-the-clock.

After a Europe-wide search by police, Ashya and his parents were found safe and well in Malaga, a popular tourist resort in Spain. His parents have however been arrested by local police for endangering their son’s life. They are currently being questioned by detectives. They had been discovered as they were about to check into a local hotel, the Hostel Esperanza in Benajarafe. Police had pulled over their people carrier, discovering Ashya and his mother and father inside.

The latest development and conclusion of the case, which first made the headlines in the middle of last week, comes as Ashya’s father Brett posted a YouTube video via his other son’s account criticising the National Health Service (NHS), a government agency in the United Kingdom that manages public hospitals, clinics and other taxpayer-funded healthcare services. The video shows Brett sitting on the bed with Ashya, who has a drip-feed attached to him. Brett King said in that video that “we couldn’t be under that system any more.” Brett also said that Ashya was receiving a better standard of pre-operation care in Spain and that his health had improved markedly. He appealed to the U.K. authorities to “call it off, this ridiculous chase“. Ashya’s father had wanted his son to receive Proton Beam therapy in order to treat the malignant tumour in his son’s brain. According to Cancer Research UK, a research charity, the therapy was developed to target inoperable or hard-to-reach tumours, and is a form of radiotherapy that has little effect on surrounding tissues, meaning less in the way of side-effects for the patient. However the treatment was not available in the Southampton hospital or at any other medical facility in the UK, forcing the child’s parents to take the step of withdrawing Ashya from his current programme and then fleeing the country altogether. He then claimed that when he told doctors of his decision to end Ashya’s treatment, he and his wife were threatened with imposition of an ‘emergency protection order’, which would have prevented them from seeing their son.

Proton beam is so much better for children with brain cancer,” Brett said in the ten minute clip. “It zones in on the area, whereby normal radiation passes right through his head and comes out the other side and destroys everything in his head.
“So we pleaded with them for proton beam treatment. They looked at me straight in the face and said with his cancer – which is called medulloblastoma – it would have no benefit whatsoever.

Brett felt his son’s treatment was unhelpful ‘trial and error’ and since their fleeing to Spain, he and his family had become ‘refugees’.

We can’t do anything. The police are after us. The things we want to do to raise the money to pay for the proton beam, they’ve prevented it now.
“So my son is being treated and he’s doing fine. We’re very happy with his progress. We’re not neglecting him. He has everything he had in hospital.” Brett added.

In a recent press conference, the Hampshire Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead said Ashya and his parents were located near Malaga, according to Metro

We don’t have many details on Ashya’s condition at this point in time, but what we do know is he was showing no visible signs of distress,” Mr Shead said. The parents are currently being held at a police station in nearby Velez-Malaga, while their eldest son Naveed is looking after their other children. Mr and Mrs King were expected to be taken to Madrid on Sunday for an extradition hearing at Madrid’s Central Criminal Court.

The Hampshire police also stated that doctors working at the Southampton General Hospital are working with fellow professionals at Ashya’s current hospital in Malaga to transfer Ashya to a specialist children’s facility in the area where he can receive more specialised help. Police offices from the constabulary will also be flying out to Spain to assist in the local investigation.

Yesterday (Saturday 30 August 2014), police had obtained a European arrest warrant for Brett and Naghemeh King, which was written on the grounds that they had neglected Ashya by removing him from Southampton General’s care. They said that it would be a last resort measure and that they preferred the parents to hand themselves in voluntarily. They were concerned that without usage of his battery-operated feeding tube, Ashya would possibly die. The tube is a piece of specialist equipment that can be fitted only by trained medics. However, Ashya’s father denied putting his son’s life at risk, saying that they had packed spare feeding tubes and Calpol (a children’s paracetamol syrup brand for treating colds and high temperatures) before leaving the country.

We were most disturbed today to find his face is all over the internet and newspapers and we have been labelled as kidnappers, putting his life at risk, neglect,” he said.

As you can see there’s nothing wrong with him, he is very happy actually since we took him out of hospital,” Mr King said.
“He has been smiling a lot more, he has very much been interacting with us.

It is not known what the fate of the parents of Ashya will be upon their eventual return to Hampshire or the future status of Ashya’s treatment. Whether he will be allowed to remain in his parents’ care is also uncertain at this point.

Additional reporting and Brett’s comments on the case via the Telegraph newspaper.

SOURCES:
Metro, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK?fref=nf
“Ashya King: Boy with brain tumour ‘stolen’ from hospital found in Spain after father releases YouTube video explanation” – Oliver Wheaton, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (31 August 2014) http://metro.co.uk/2014/08/31/ashya-king-boy-with-brain-tumour-stolen-from-hospital-found-in-spain-after-father-releases-youtube-video-explanation-4851527/?ITO=facebook
“Ashya King found after father releases video explaining why they fled” – Claire Duffin & Josie Ensor, The Telegraph – Health News/Telegraph Media Group Limited (30 August 2014) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/11066143/Ashya-King-found-after-father-releases-video-explaining-why-they-fled.html
VIDEO CREDIT:
“UPDATE ON ASHYA KING!”  – Brett King via Naveed King, YouTube GB (30 August 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14ETQn9ZPwk

FIFA 15 & WWE 2K15: Great sports gaming for 2015

with Sunny Atwal (idea contributor)

Today’s article was inspired by a good friend who is a big football and wrestling fan. In November 2014, he plans to take two weeks off of work and chill out to the max with two brand new game titles. One is the latest instalment of the highly-respected FIFA football (soccer) series, FIFA 15. Also on his Christmas shopping list is the newest WWE game for PlayStation, WWE 2K15, a game based on the popular World Wrestling Entertainment sports entertainment brand, which has the clearest graphics and involving gameplay yet.

I grew up playing both wrestling and football video games myself. I and my younger brothers are all great football and wrestling fans and we would supplement watching intense battles of the ring and the pitch with battles against each other on our PS2 console. Whether it was Real Madrid against Manchester United on FIFA 2012, finessing our bicycle kick skills on Pro Evolution Soccer, we had the time of our lives in front of the big screen. I still remember my brothers Azzy and Suraj creating wrestlers based on family members on the Smackdown release from probably around 2009 and then setting them up in duels against the Bigshow or Brock Lesnar. Nowadays both Azzy and Suraj regularly tussle for bragging rights on FIFA 14, while my youngest Arjun has found his calling as a football manager with some top names on his team and a very busy inbox thanks to the agents constantly negotiating player transfers with his alter ego, ‘Buju Banton’.

FIFA 15 is published by EA Sports, a subdivision of the Electronic Arts (EA) game developer. A football simulation game, it is in the final stages of development by EA’s Canadian arm and is scheduled for public release on the 23 September 2014 in North America, before being released in mainland Europe on the 25th and in the United Kingdom on the 26th. FIFA 15 will be available for the PlayStation 3 and 4,  PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, IOS and Android. On PC, this game runs on EA’s Ignite engine and boasts the same features as the PS4 and Xbox One editions. The front cover will feature Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona. Posed as though he was charging around the pitch, Mr. Messi has been a hallmark of the game’s cover since FIFA 13, when he replaced Wayne Rooney of Manchester United. There will be regional variations on the covers though, so for example for Swiss fans, Xherdan Shaqiri of that country’s national side will appear alongside Messi. There will also be two versions of the title, the Standard edition and an Ultimate Team edition which will cost fans more but comes with limited edition goodies, both in and outside the game.

According to British tabloid Metro, EA Sports have promised that FIFA 15 will be their most realistic football game yet, with some observers saying that it will revolutionise gameplay for the 21st century completely, although some supporters of the Arsenal football team who have seen pre-released screenshot of their players, Mesut Ozil, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere on Twitter claim that the appearance of the players on FIFA 15 is far from accurate, with one wag claiming that Ozil resembled a ‘zombie or some kind of monster’. Despite the inevitable complications that come from rendering player’s looks in computer pixels, the pre-release hype for FIFA fans has been kept ablaze with special releases of screenshots, tidbits and rumours about what the game will feature and what exactly the improvements will be. There have been reports that a pre-issue demo of the game is in circulation, with Martin Robinson of Eurogamer claiming as such, according to the Bleacher Report. The Bleacher Report also claims that there are ‘rumblings’ from an organisation called the FIFA U Team that the demo will consist of eight teams, two game modes and will appear on September 9. These rumours are of course, just that and nothing concrete has been confirmed by EA Sports or the licenser FIFA.

(c) EA Sports via Wikipedia

According to the developers, FIFA 15 will be the first game of the series to feature ‘emotional intelligence’. A new and advanced AI machine means that your players will have their own memories of previous matches and will display emotion based on the outcome of the match. So if Balotelli gets sent off yet again, you will know he won’t look too pleased about it, and if you lift the cup, the players look as happy as you would be if you earned their massive salaries. This is a massive improvement on both previous titles and other rival football gaming titles, as there the players usually are expressionless and game developers were more interested in creating footballers with skills and the package to deliver on the hallowed turf rather than the niceties of a few facial expressions. Each player now possesses over 600 emotional states, responding with gusto to bad tackles, near-misses on goal and the spectacular epic goals. They probably won’t swear at the camera or flip a bird at a red-faced coach but FIFA 15 guarantees to make gameplay almost as convincing as watching a match yourself. 

The fans too will be more responsive and realistic, with actual chants and crowd behaviours tailored to each individual team or national side. The game also has advanced bench reactions, side-line character animations, ten-man goal celebrations and more to keep you firmly interested in the progress of the match. Those matches against your friends are about to get that little bit more emotional.

You can create and manage your own teams far more easily. You can customise up to six different team sheets per club and adapt your formations, tactics and star players based on the opponent, which will make FIFA 15 perfect for aspiring managers and those who really look for the finer details in formulating that winning eleven. Goalkeepers have also been upgraded, with fifty new save animations and improved goalsaving AI. Witness breath-stopping and improved save reactions at the last second supplemented with realistic tips and deflections. You will learn to fear this goalie’s fingertips. Outside the goal, team members will react convincingly to changing play, just like real-life players. New team tactics, such as ‘Park the Bus‘ and ‘In The Mixer’ will be some cool team play features on offer in FIFA 15.

The graphics are far more advanced too. Gone are the stiff, wooden and slightly pixelated player of old, and say hello to players with fluid movement and painstaking detail in their appearance and kit. Shadows and shirt creases are reproduced faithfully, which shows that FIFA 15 really does have its eye on the ball…and on the little details. The players will look and feel powerful and athletic, and even the kits will flutter realistically as your strikers charge down towards that quick-as-lightning goalkeeper. Indeed such is the attention to detail, that even small things such as debris on the pitch, skid marks from footballers’ boots, LED advertisement hoardings and the fluttering of corner flags are there in glorious lifelike three dimensions. They have really done their research here.

The players tackle in style, with shirt-pulling and shoulder barges something to contend with when getting that ball off your opponent. Once you have won the ball, prepare to be amazed as your dribbling and touches of boot on ball are more realistic and believable. Footwork, spin and general ball control will have better accuracy and trajectories as the ball is passed on from player to player.

FIFA 15 also introduces the all new ‘Match Day Live’ feature. Powered by authoritative football site Goal.com, fans can keep updated and on the ball with their club’s latest matches, news and action using an internet connection while they make history with their FIFA 15 version. For budding managers, FIFA 15 builds upon the team management capabilities and career mode of last year’s predecessor with new ways to play, manage the squad and decide on transfers to boost up your side.

 *****

That other big game for virtual sports fans, WWE 2K15, is also a must-have for the Christmas stocking. Like FIFA 15, the wrestling version also promises to bring fans of sport entertainment a more realistic and relatable configuration of gameplay, as the virtual becomes more like the reality.

WWE 2K15 is being published by 2K Sports, with in-game development by Visual Concepts & Yuke’s – the second title being released from the well-received WWE 2K series. The plans in the works are for this title to be released sometime late October this year on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and will be the first WWE game to be released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Its North American release is scheduled for October 28, 2014 and in Europe on October 31. The cover features WWE Superstar and king of the invisible John Cena and is also the first to use the new WWE logo, which was introduced at the launch of the WWE Network in February 2014. Unlike Cena, fans will hopefully be able to see this latest WWE video game appearing in their local superstore in only a month’s time.

The game’s designers claim that 2K15 will usher in a new era of WWE video gaming, delivering the experience fans have been searching for generations. It aims to be the most authentic, comprehensive and action-packed WWE video game experience to date. The ‘Next-Gen Superstars’ will have more realistic movements and mannerisms, with improvements to body, attire and facial features of individual wrestlers, resulting in a highly life-like and natural look. There will also be improvements to stage lighting featured in the sets on the game and better all-in-ring sound effects and acoustics.

The roster featured in the game will be one of the most comprehensive I have ever seen in a WWE game, including Hall of Famers, current favourites such as Cena, Bigshow, the Usos, Dolph Ziggler, Batista, Randy Orton and the Undertaker. There also good representations by the WWE Divas, including big names like Brie Bella, Natalya and Summer Rae. Full details of the complete roster will soon be announced on the WWE 2K website. It is believed up to sixty superstars may feature in the game as new modes are dribbled out to fans and gaming media.

(c) WWE/2K Sports via Wikipedia

Unlike FIFA, a collector’s edition of the game has already been released earlier this month. It features a copy of the game pre-released with special premium packaging, a collectible wrestling promo card signed by Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan, exclusive Funko “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vinyl figure, an actual piece of the ring canvas from Hogan’s appearance on WWE Raw on March 10, 2014, two playable pre-order launch exclusive Hulk Hogan characters, and two playable pre-order launch exclusive Sting characters. There are only 25,000 collector’s editions being made at the time of release, according to a Wikipedia article dedicated to the game.

The game has been blazing fires underneath the backsides of critics, with many applauding its faithful homage to the dramatism of the WWE’s infamous storylines, the ‘soap opera with stunners’ as giant of the ring The Bigshow once described it. Review Darryn Bonthuys described WWE 2K15 as a game which heralded the entrance into an age of wrestling games that captured both the attitude and nostalgia of sports entertainment, in a way never really touched on before. Even the detail afforded to some wrestler’s beards is astonishing, amazing even the superstars themselves. On a recent scanning for his character in the game, Yes-Man Daniel Bryan said to Sports Illustrated “When I went for my scans, 2K had so much machinery in their studio, it’s like being in the future,”

“I get weirded-out just being around that much technology. I was like, ‘These things won’t give me cancer, right?”

The article by Bonthuys delves deeper into WWE 2K15’s obsession with detail, aided by the better graphics handling of the latest consoles, such as the PS4:

It’s incredible what they can do now. The detail they capture is amazing. My beard looks perfect in the game. It looks exactly how it does in real life. But they also have small details like the scar on the top of Randy Orton’s head. He has this small little knick, and it’s detailed perfectly. I know when I was playing the game, when I saw the little things like Randy’s scar, when I saw how my beard looked, I was blown away.”

Grappling and other moves are more like what you would expect in a wrestling match than running up and just hitting the analogue stick. The game, despite its many visual and gameplay improvements and tweaks, is still easy for first-time and casual gamers to pick up the skills needed to lift the championship belt, while keeping seasoned gamers and wrestling fans hooked and impressed with the new 2K way of chokeslamming things. The ratio of ring to wrestler sizes is more believable and you can no longer take the easy route out by simply running around the squared circle.

The game will also feature a match history mode, tailored to be just like the bad blood and storylines of the Smackdown and Raw shows as seen on TV. The mode will pick up on past rivalries between superstars and is provisionally being called the ‘2K Showcase’. In comparison to the previous older sibling of the WWE 2K family, the story mode will be similar to WWE 2K14‘s 30 Years of WrestleMania mode in that it focuses on historical events, but will be more like the Attitude Era mode where it focuses on specifics rather than generalities. The two main feuds highlighted in 2K15 are John Cena vs. CM Punk which took place between 2011 and 2013, and the Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels rivalry which began in 2002. Players will be able to relive a total of 33 matches across the feuds, where key historical objectives must be completed in order to progress further in the mode. As with last year’s game, high-quality documentary packages will accompany each rivalry. This emphasis on the nitty-gritty will also make gameplay just that more believable for diehard wrestling fans who want the perfect story of hatred in the locker room. Players will also have access to a self-operated ‘MyCareer’ mode which sees them take on the Lycra mantle of a superstar and gives them the chance to develop his or her career via the Creative Suite and to evolve and take on challenges for title belts. This mode will be exclusive to the XBox One and PS4 versions of WWE 2K15 though.

I can definitely say this about my best friend and I can say this for myself and my games-mad siblings as well. Playing these two games will be an experience that will blow away all the memories I had of previous playing PlayStation and XBox games on the sacred subjects of football and wrestling entertainment. Just the detail and dedication the designers have spent on the graphics and kinetics of the FIFA footballers and WWE wrestlers alone will be mind-blowing. Even though I do not own a games console, and am what nowadays you could convincingly call a ‘casual gamer’, a part-timer in the world of video games, I can appreciate the way these two titles will change my whole viewpoint of gaming for 2015. Just the thought of being able to play and control something that is so very near the real deal is itself a moment I look forward to experiencing. The thrills, the spills, the crossfaces and the cross-kicks. Whether slamming an opponent into the ringside or booting a ball into the net, I think FIFA 15 and WWE 2K15 are the ones to watch for sports games on the PS and others. Let’s hope my brothers have put in their pre-orders.

The official game sites:

http://www.easports.com/uk/fifa

http://wwe.2k.com/

Special pre-release gamer’s videos & trailers

SOURCES:
“FIFA 15″ – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_15
“FIFA 15 – FEEL THE GAME” – EA SPORTS/Electronic Arts Inc. http://www.easports.com/uk/fifa/features
“You won’t believe how bad Mesut Ozil and these Arsenal stars look on Fifa 15″ – Jamie Sanderson, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (29 August 2014) http://metro.co.uk/2014/08/29/you-wont-believe-how-bad-mesut-ozil-and-these-arsenal-stars-look-on-fifa-15-4850459/
“FIFA 15: News and Rumors Leading Up to Release Date” – Brian Mazique, Bleacher Report – Video Games/Bleacher Report, Inc. & Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (29 August 2014) http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2179638-fifa-15-news-and-rumors-leading-up-to-release-date
“WWE 2K15″  – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWE_2K15
“WWE2K15″ – WWE2K/Take-Two Interactive Software http://wwe.2k.com/index.php/game-info
WWE 2K15 Roster” – WWE2K/Take-Two Interactive Software http://wwe.2k.com/index.php/roster/2k15
“WWE 2K15 has innovative beard tech” – Darryn Bonthuys, lazygamer.net (29 August 2014) http://www.lazygamer.net/general-news/wwe-2k15-has-innovative-beard-tech/
“WWE 2K15: FIRST HANDS-ON — IGN FIRST” – Vince Ingenito, IGN UK/IGN Entertainment, Inc./Ziff Davis (12 August 2014) http://uk.ign.com/articles/2014/08/12/wwe-2k15-first-hands-on-ign-first
“WWE 2K15: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR” – Chris Mawson, Power Up Gaming (30 August 2014) http://powerupgaming.co.uk/articles/175-wwe-2k15-what-we-know-so
IMAGE CREDITS:
“FIFA 15″ – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_15
“WWE 2K15″ –  – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWE_2K15
VIDEO CREDITS:
“FIFA 15 Gameplay Demo – IGN Live: E3 2014″ – IGN, YouTube GB (11 June 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onvcN0FXk2c
“FIFA 15 | Liverpool vs Chelsea Official Next-Gen Gameplay Demo @ Gamescom 2014 [1080p]” – Kalax03 | FIFA 15 Entertainment!, YouTube GB (15 August 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vU3dKb76sAs
“WWE 2K15: ”A New Era Begins” (Trailer)” – DTreatsGaming, YouTube GB (27 April 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUtjisau01A
“WWE 2K15 Gameplay Trailer (New Moves,Reversals,Finishers,Animations & More)” – Espacio Ninja, YouTube GB (20 August 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BoKNR_JMWY

 

 

INTERNET EXCHANGE POINT: Mauritian government aims to bring in faster nationwide internet

The Mauritian government plans to unveil a new internet exchange point in the island’s premier technology hub to help bring faster web-surfing and e-commerce infrastructure to the public and businesses, it was reported today in the French-language newspaper L’Express.

The Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tassarajen Pillay-Chedumbrum announced that Mauritian ISPs (internet service providers) such as Orange Mauritius/Mauritius Telecom and Bharat Telecom, will possibly be able to connect a local exchange point into their service networks to bring about faster speeds and download times for their Mauritian customers. A current point exists, but the newer version will be a faster and more developed service being offered to all the country’s internet providers on a mutual shared basis.

(c) austinevan/Flickr/Compfight

A information technology complex in Ebene’s CyberCity.

The exchange point will be a piece of switchboard-based IT infrastructure that connects the networks of different operators in a technologically mutual effort to rapidly increase broadband speeds on the island. The point will also be a cost-saving exercise that will benefit ISPs, as they will be able to exchange traffic to relieve their networks, thereby slashing the average amount of expenses incurred for each provider. It will also lessen the country’s dependence on costly international satellite and fibre-optic networks. The point will give equal priority to all Mauritius-based ISPs with a lack of traffic hegemony or filtering rules to hinder that objective.

The current exchange point technology is a ‘layer-two Internet exchange’ operating over Ethernet, which means that participants exchange traffic via an Ethernet switch without any settlements, according to the government ministry in charge of the original internet exchange point. It has not yet been publicly announced what the new point’s exact hardware and operational specifics will be.

In order to begin building up an internet exchange point (IXP) especially for Mauritius, the ministry will organise a workshop in partnership with the African Union Commission. This was announced yesterday (Monday 25 August) by ministry representatives at the Cyber Tower in Ebène, the heart of Mauritius’ steadily growing IT industry. The workshop hopes to train up a new generation of Mauritian IT technicians with the requisite skills to lay the foundation of the improved island-wide IXP.

If we can have a local Internet exchange point, this will allow us to minimise the cost. We will not have to pay international fees. In addition, the Internet will be faster, “said Pillay-Chedumbrum.

The exchange point, known officially as MIXP, has already had a web presence established as the groundwork starts up. The MIXP website describes the service as “the professional, neutral Internet exchange that leads the way in global peering services enabling the savings of precious International bandwidth in Mauritius“. A previous incarnation has been in existence since June 2006, but with fewer capabilities.

Telecommunications have had a long history in Mauritius. The first telephone line was installed in 1883, only seven years after the original device was said to have been invented by Scot Alexander Graham Bell. ICT services also took off early on the island, with the establishment of a governmental National Computer Board (NCB) in 1988 to advise the island’s parliament on the formulation of national policies for the development of the IT sector and promotion of technology culture in Mauritius. The following year, the Central Informatics Bureau (CIB) was organised to encourage increased computerisation of civil service records. Since then, Mauritius has become an important centre for IT-related activities in the Indian Ocean and the African continent, with numerous national and international ICT firms setting up shop in the CyberCity park in the town of Ebène, which is south of the Mauritian capital Port Louis.

The new MIXP forms part of the Mauritian government’s ambition to continually raise the standard of corporate and public ICT services on the island. Ministers are aiming to make the ICT sector the ‘fifth pillar’ of the Mauritian economy, after tourism, agriculture and finance, and envisioned transforming Mauritius into a ‘cyber island’.

SOURCES:
Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind
l’express, Twitter https://twitter.com/wwwlexpressmu
“TIC: un point d’échange Internet local pour réduire les coûts de connexion” – lexp Société/lexpress.mu/L’Express (26 August 2014) http://www.lexpress.mu/article/251452/tic-un-point-dechange-internet-local-pour-reduire-couts-connexion
“Home” – MIXP – Mauritius Internet Exchange Point http://www.gov.mu/portal/sites/mixp/index.htm
“About MIXP” – MIXP – Mauritius Internet Exchange Point http://www.gov.mu/portal/sites/mixp/index.htm
“Telecommunications in Mauritius” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommunications_in_Mauritius
IMAGE CREDIT:
‘austinevan’, Flickr via Compfight http://compfight.com/search/cybercity-ebene/1-3-1-1

FLEXIOFFICES: The UK’s most hated office personalities

Wander past the reception into any office in the United Kingdom or indeed anywhere else you fancy, and just as Sir David Attenborough might steathily and subtly observe different species of wildlife on the African savannah, you will soon notice from being hidden surreptitiously behind that large pot plant that just like animals, there are different species of office worker; the busybody, with an ‘in’ tray as high as Mount Everest; the chatterboxes, constantly talking on the phone or to anyone within earshot (and lack of an escape route) and the quiet ones; who wish their wage packet was as golden as their silence. Others cling to the boss’ every word, eager for that golden hello and promotion. While others drone on and on about this and that. From accounts to sales and marketing, every office and department is bound to have a motley crew of different personality types, some more beneficial than others, especially when it comes to those all-important office preserves, teamwork, training new starters and the handling of big projects.

Flexioffices, an expert agency which prides itself on offering serviced office spaces to companies across the UK, has recently commissioned a fun, tongue-in-cheek nationwide survey of over 1,500 people to find out which kind of personality people most hate being stuck with when it is their turn at the water cooler. If you are curious as to what kind of office worker is most likely to induce lethal cubicle rage in their long-suffering colleagues, then the results are now in.

English: An office worker with a dual-monitor ...

English: An office worker with a dual-monitor display and a Cisco 7971 Color Touchscreen IP phone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Number 1 – ‘The Office Know-it-all

Around 35% of the surveyed people named the Office Know-it-all as their most hated personality, making it indeed the most hated type of office worker in the United Kingdom. This is the kind of person who (thinks) they know everything about everything. They might be useful if you have trouble getting the scanner/photocopier/printer thingamabob to work, but they also are blatant brown-nosers and have to jump into every conversation going with their not exactly needed or wanted opinions. Their fellow office workers soon rapidly tire of their useless encyclopaedic knowledge and their inflated sense of self-superiority. The ‘Know-it-all’ particularly irks people nearing retirement age and workers from Wales. If you are one of these people, it is advised to either shut up or jump out.

Number 2 – ‘The Office Slacker’

This is the man or woman whom you can say without a doubt spends their evenings sprawled in their underclothes among tonnes of pizza boxes and polystyrene containers that still smell of last month’s ‘kebab-athon’. They barely seem to have the will to even lift said pizza into their mouth at times. While what people do at home generally does not follow them to the workplace, the Office Slacker is laziness personified, 24/7, day in, day out, come rain or shine. The Slacker is that annoying type that sits back and lets everyone else, well, pick up the slack. They generally make little headway in team projects and are content to do minimal work, while still taking the credit. According to the survey it seems no-one likes a lazy colleague, most notably Londoners, who rank ‘The Office Slacker’ as the personality type they dislike working with the most. With 32% of the votes, here’s a message for work-shy individuals across the nation – it’s either time to change your attitude, or cross London off your ‘ideal places to work’ list.

Number 3 – ‘The Office Suck-up’

This is the worker who is practically the manager’s second shadow. A brown-noser of sheer excellence, they are the manager’s dream yes-man or yes-woman. No matter how diabolical the manager’s pipedream, they always agree with every little detail. The ‘Office Suck-Up’ is not the most trustworthy of colleagues. Do one thing wrong, no matter how insignificant and the Suck-Up will memorise every little detail of all your little transgressions and regurgitate it straight into the crop of the Big Boss. This is the grown-up, corporate version of the playground tittle-tattle. The walls have ears. The Flexioffices survey results suggest ‘The Office Suck-up’ received 17% of the overall votes, with the good people of the North East and Scotland particularly unimpressed with colleagues who try to worm their way to the top.

Number 4 – ‘The Office Tight-arse’

Anal retentiveness is a sport that should be entered into the Olympics. Why? Because if it did, the ‘Office Tight-arse’ would win every gold medal going for Team GB. This is the sort of person who turns into the Incredible Hulk the moment you help yourself to one measly paper clip from their desk’s bits-and-bobs. They scrupulously note down the quantity of every pack of Belvita or box of Earl Grey teabags they buy in their lunch break. Do not under any circumstance even think to ask for a spare croissant, you will feel the Fury! Nevertheless, in these belt-tightening times of austerity, it seems people have some sympathy for the ‘Office Tight-arse’, as this was the most hated office personality of a paltry 8% of surveyed participants. So maybe being a little bit of a Scrooge is not so bad. Either way, if you happen to be a corporate butt-clencher, it’s probably best to steer clear of people in the West Midlands, who expect their colleagues to display the utmost generosity and goodwill at all times. Sharing is caring.

Number 5 – ‘The Office Joker’

This is the cheeky chap/chapette that has a chuckle about anything. They love hiding your favourite mug when you run off to the bathroom. They offer you a panini for a snack, only you find it has been laced with extra hot tabasco sauce. Always grinning like the Cheshire Cat of old folklore, they fill the air with their colleagues laughter, but sometimes they can seriously reduce the seriousness of a nine-to-five and there comes a point where you really need to file that sales report for the first quarter of 2014, and you cannot concentrate because the office Michael McIntyre has made you giggle yourself into a painful cramp all around your sides. Offices can be dreary and stressful places though, and people do appreciate a laugh every now and then, which is why the Flexioffices survey found that only 7% of people find the Office Joker a joke too far. Being the office joker can help to raise morale in the team, however we all know that one person who can take their Chuckle Brothers re-enactment a tad too far. If you’re looking for an audience for your pranks and jokes, then 35-44 year old men in London are not a good place to start!

(c) B. Dimmick/Flickr/Compfight

Flexioffices are also offering a quiz that office workers can answer to see which type of personality they are. We have reproduced it here, so now Brainiacs can find out whether they are an office legend or a pain in the orifice.

 

Now it’s your turn – take our quick scenario quiz below and find out what type of office personality you are!

1. For you, the office water cooler is an opportunity to

A) Switch the hot and cold taps around and watch the chaos unfold

B) Tell everyone else in the office who’ll listen that they shouldn’t drink from it due to the dangers of bacteria in the water caused by gradual decomposition of the plastic container

C) Keep the boss hydrated to boost your chances of a promotion

D) Drink 10 glasses at a time. All those toilet breaks shave minutes off the working week

E) Decant the water into your own containers and take it home

 

2. A new bar opens near the office and a work night out has been arranged, do you?

A) Tell a couple of your colleagues that they have to wear a tuxedo to the night out and they must have missed the memo

B) Attend to humour others, but you’ve already been twice yourself and read all the reviews. You know it’s terrible and can’t believe your colleagues would want to go there

C) Get to the bar before everyone else and buy the boss a drink. A little alcoholic lubrication goes a long way to earning that promotion

D) Use it as an opportunity to leave work early under the pretense of ‘saving everyone a stool at the bar’

E) Peek through the window outside the bar until you see the first round has been bought… then make your entrance

 

3. A new photocopier-printer has just been bought and installed in your office. Which of the following are you most likely to do?

A) Photocopy your backside

B) Comment that from your extensive research you know it isn’t the most robust model on the market and it’s only a matter of time before it breaks down

C) Tell the boss you’d be happy to monitor and report back on anyone using the photocopier-printer inappropriately. That promotion must be close now

D) Constantly open up the photocopier-printer to check on cartridge and paper levels. It’ll be home time before you know it!

E) Print your personal files and paperwork out at every opportunity

 

4. A young student is in the office on a week’s work experience, do you?

A) Tell them you’re all out of checkered paint and to go to the hardware shop and ask for a long weight

B) Walk up to them and say “You think youth is on your side, but experience counts for everything in this business. You’ve a lot to learn”

C) Tell the boss you’re happy to spend the whole week closely mentoring the work experience employee, even if it means doing your own work when you get home. You’re that dedicated! Anything to help that promotion along

D) Take the whole week off sick to get out of the training you were meant to prepare for them

E) Offer to take them out for lunch… then tell them you forgot your wallet and make them pay for it

 

5. You’re asked to go out and buy some doughnuts for an important meeting. What do you do?

A) Buy some plain doughnuts then fill them with mayonnaise. “‘Custard’ doughnut anyone?”

B) Write a 15 page email on the negative health effects of eating fatty foods, including links to medical reports and statistics on doughnut related deaths

C) First, buy everyone a plain sugar doughnut. Next, drive 37 miles to Krispy Kreme to get the most expensive, glorious looking doughnut known to man. Then it’s back to the office to present it to your boss on a silver platter. If this doesn’t get you promoted, what will?

D) Walk the two miles to the shops instead of driving there. After all, it’s a nice day outside and it would be rude not to take your time. That’s shaved a few hours off the working day nicely

E) Refuse. Even though you’ll be given the money back in a few days, there is no way on earth you’re missing out on the 0.001% interest you will earn from keeping your cash in the bank

 

So, which office personality are you? Find out below:

I answered A to the majority of questions:

You’re ‘The Office Joker’. Always quick to make light of any situation and never miss the opportunity to play a practical joke on your colleagues. You’re the centre of attention at office parties and people look to you to cheer them up. On the other hand, you can be a nightmare in meeting scenarios where you have been known to struggle to contain your energy.

I answered B to the majority of questions:

You’re ‘The Office Know-it-all’. Never short of an opinion or two, you’ve got all the answers and probably even know the question before it has been asked. Keeping up to date with the latest piece of technology or industry news is no problem for you, as you more than likely had something to do with creating it (in your head at least).

I answered C to the majority of questions:

You’re ‘The Office Suck-up’. Always keen to let everyone know you’re working on a Saturday, or fetch your boss a drink, you may not be the most popular figure in the office but your sucking up tactics might just help you to go all the way to the top.

I answered D to the majority of questions:

You’re ‘The Office Slacker’. Working 9-5 is no way to make a living, not in your eyes anyway. You’ll stretch out any opportunity to be away from your desk – from prolonged visits to the water cooler, through to volunteering to go and buy the milk for the tea round. Oh and you’re good at delegating tasks to other people too – very good at it in fact.

I answered E to the majority of questions:

You’re ‘The Office Tight-arse’. Stealing paperclips, taking toilet paper from work to use at home and even refusing to contribute to the company’s charitable cause, you’re the embodiment of the phrase ‘short arms, deep pockets’.

 

We recommend taking your results with a pinch of salt, as we are aware that no one truly falls into any one category and a healthy mix of behaviours is what makes the world go around.

Once you have your results, feel free to share them for fun with your friends and colleagues on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook, or tweet us directly @Flexioffices using #FlexiPersonality.

SOURCES:
“The most disliked office personality in the UK (UK wide survey results)” – Flexioffices via journalism.co.uk [press release] (19 August 2014) http://www.journalism.co.uk/press-releases/the-most-disliked-office-personality-in-the-uk-uk-wide-survey-results-/s66/a557713/
“What office personality are you? The quiz” – Flexioffices – Blog http://www.flexioffices.co.uk/what-office-personality-are-you-the-quiz
IMAGE CREDITS:
“File:Office Worker with Two Monitors.JPG” – MrChrome, Wikimedia Commons (11 December 2008) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Office_Worker_with_Two_Monitors.JPG
Bill Dimmick, Flickr via Compfight http://compfight.com/search/office-worker/1-3-1-1

 

BANK HOLIDAY WASHOUT: Bad weather expected for southern Britain

Holidaymakers planning to visit beaches and festivals in the south of the United Kingdom this August Bank Holiday weekend have been warned by weather forecasters that unseasonably bad weather could ruin their plans and cause travel chaos on English and Welsh motorways, according to a new report out today by The Guardian newspaper.

The Meteorological Office (Met Office), the U.K.’s national weather institute, is predicting cold and damp weather to cover most of southern Britain, possibly impacting visitors to the Notting Hill Carnival in west London, as well as sunseekers traditionally heading out to popular beaches like BrightonGreat Yarmouth and Shoeburyness. The Met Office has also issued a ‘yellow’ weather warning for southern England on Monday. The rest of the British Isles will escape the worst of the rainy weather, but will still feel cold despite spells of sunshine. On Monday itself, Scotland and northern England will feel cold to start off with, but average midday temperatures are predicted to reach 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Ironically the Bank Holiday for August is only marked in England and Wales and is not being observed in Scotland. The precipitation and likelihood of ruined holidays and unsafe driving conditions could temporarily dent the British tourism industry, which usually sees record numbers of ‘staycation’  tourists taking advantage of an extra day off work and the long weekend to go on short breaks to the seaside and other places of interest. The tourism body Visit England is expecting five million Britons to plan an overnight holiday trip this weekend.

English: Rain Swept Beach - Skegness Looking n...

English: Rain Swept Beach – Skegness Looking north from about level with the seal sanctuary. It was an awful day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A short spell of heavy rain was reported yesterday in the east London area at around 6:00 pm and lasted for approximately twenty minutes according to one observer, despite much of the day having fine and sunny weather. The Met Office expects heavy rain and winds to roll in across the south on Monday, ruining the last long Bank Holiday weekend of 2014. Their yellow weather alert could spell disaster for people using motorways as they return from weekend breaks as surface water on the tarmac will make driving conditions more hazardous. Overnight temperatures, which are already considerably low for this time of year, will plummet to freezing point during this weekend with the first frosts appearing in the north of the UK since the summer weather dissipated. Monday’s weather warning will apply to parts of Wales, London, south-east England, as well as the south-west and East Anglia regions, where temperatures will be at an unseasonal average of 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Met Office said: “Heavy rain is expected to affect many southern areas of Britain at times during bank holiday Monday, with strong winds a possible additional factor close to southern coasts. The public should be aware that there may be some impacts to holiday traffic and other outdoor activities.

A complex area of low pressure looks like bringing an unpleasant day’s weather to much of the south on Monday. Rainfall amounts look like exceeding 20mm quite widely, while a few places might see around 40mm, so there will be a lot of surface water and spray on roads.

The spray will probably be made worse by strong winds across some southern areas; gusts to around 40mph may occur at some coastal locations although this will depend on the exact track of the low pressure.

The Met Office uses a weather warning system consisting of colours, rather like traffic signals. There are three colours used for what the Office terms as ‘severe weather’ and five in use for instances of ‘extreme weather’. The basic colour scheme used by the Met for communications with the public and media outlets consists of light green for ‘no severe weather’ (normal meteorological conditions); yellow for ‘be aware’ (some unusual and impacting weather to be expected); orange for ‘be prepared’ (bad weather expected, people are advised to be vigilant and check weather forecasts) and red for ‘take action’. Red warnings are the most severe and the public are advised to be extra vigilant, to follow orders from authorities and to be prepared for ‘extraordinary measures’. Orange alerts are usually in place for localised flooding, while red alerts are actioned during periods of intense flooding and extreme weather such as hurricanes.

SOURCES: 
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter https://twitter.com/VShah1984
newslocker_uknews, Twitter https://twitter.com/newslock_uknews
“Bank holiday weather set to be cold and damp in southern Britain” – Press Association via The Guardian – News – UK news – Weather/Guardian News and Media Limited (24 August 2014) http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/aug/24/bank-holiday-weather-uk-cold-damp
“Key to warning colours” – Meteorological Office http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk/guide/colour_warnings_old.html
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Rain Swept Beach – Skegness – geograph.org.uk – 779989.jpg” – Colin Babb, geograph.org.uk via Wikimedia Commons (24 April 2008) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rain_Swept_Beach_-_Skegness_-_geograph.org.uk_-_779989.jpg
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