PARIS - Hundreds of thousands of teachers and civil servants staged a one-day strike across France yesterday to protest government plans to cut jobs in the public sector. The strike was another test of President Nicolas Sarkozy's resolve to cut down France's large civil service to reduce budget deficits and create more competition in the economy.
Sarkozy has said that he will stand firm in plans to cut 22,900 civil-service jobs this year, including more than 11,000 in education, and 35,000 next year. The government says it intends to achieve the cuts by replacing only half those who retire.
While the unions and the government differed sharply over the numbers taking part, many thousands of teachers, students, parents and civil servants stayed off the job.
- N.Y. Times News Service
LONDON - A surge in violent knife crimes prompted London police to introduce a new program yesterday that will rely on mobile, airport-style scanners and hand-held metal detectors for use against people suspected of carrying concealed weapons.
The new program started this week in one borough and should be in place in all 32 London boroughs within the next few months, said a Metropolitan Police spokesman, who asked not to be identified, in line with police rules. "If there's a problem, we can place them outside a row of shops or a shopping center and check people going in," he said.
London's reputation as a generally safe city has been rocked this year by a marked increase in stabbings, with more than 100 reported in the capital so far this year. Most have not been fatal.
MOSCOW - President Dmitry A. Medvedev made his debut as the commander in chief of Russia's forces yesterday, touring a missile base and promising to provide the funding needed for nuclear forces to counter global threats.
He inspected Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles and spoke to officers at the base near Teikovo, a town in the Ivanovo region about 150 miles northeast of Moscow. "I'm impressed by both the weapons and the level of training," Medvedev said after inspecting the missiles, concealed in a dense pine forest.
Medvedev, sworn in May 7, has avoided the harsh anti-Western rhetoric of his predecessor and mentor, Vladimir V. Putin, but most observers expect him to continue the policies of Putin.
Flames from a burst
fuel pipeline swept through homes and a school on the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria, yesterday, killing about 100 people and injuring 20, a Nigerian Red Cross official said. The inferno was set off when road construction machinery pierced the pipe in a village outside Nigeria's main city, Red Cross disaster coordinator Suleman Maikubi said.
A previously unknown