This video says about itself:
Grenfell Tower cladding firm records huge profits
26 July 2017
From daily The Independent in Britain today:
Authority admits there is ‘considerable public interest’ in releasing the information but says it fears collapsing police investigation
The Metropolitan Police has advised Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC) to block the release of correspondence that would shed light on what action was taken to mitigate fire risks at Grenfell Tower, The Independent can reveal.
Officers are vetting requests for information on the council’s response after it was warned by London Fire Brigade about the potential risks of cladding at Grenfell and other buildings.
The fire service wrote to all 33 London councils on 6 April – two months before the devastating fire ripped through Grenfell Tower claiming up to 80 lives – after concluding that cladding had contributed to another fire in Hammersmith, west London.
But despite repeated requests under Freedom for Information laws about what Kensington authorities did following that warning, the council has refused to provide answers.
In its last response, the council said it had been advised by the police not to release the information amid fears it could interfere with the criminal investigation that officers are carrying out.
Alex Peebles, a solicitor at law firm Duncan Lewis, told The Independent that “a mere assertion from the police or the council” that the information was exempt from disclosure was “unlikely to be sufficient” to justify the block.
He added: “The information cannot be withheld just because there may be risks associated with its disclosure. The council or the police must be prepared to give detailed reasons that explain why the disclosure would or would be likely to cause prejudice to others.”
Moyra Samuels, of the Justice4Grenfell campaign group, said: “For the community, nothing surprises us regarding the behaviour of the council. Of course we demand that they are truthful and transparent but we don’t expect them to be.”
LFB’s assistant commissioner, Dan Daly, warned all London councils they should check cladding was up to standard, and “take account of other fire-safety measures already in place in the building as well as potential mitigation measures to ensure that any potential fire spread does not pose a risk to health and safety”.
The warning followed a fire at the Shepherd’s Court flats in Hammersmith in August 2016, which the fire service believed was exacerbated by external panels.
The council said the fire brigade’s letter was addressed to its director of housing and was later forwarded to the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), which manages properties on behalf of the council. In the wake of the fire, the council is dealing with all Freedom of Information requests relating to the work of KCTMO.
KCTMO, which is a non-profit company at arms length from the council, was stripped of its management of Grenfell Tower after the fire. A KCTMO spokesman said: “All FoI queries regarding Grenfell Tower-related matters are being handled by RBKC.
“We have not consulted the Metropolitan Police directly on Grenfell-related matters, as this is also being handled by RBKC.”
The council said it had consulted the Met on a total of seven FoI requests about Grenfell Tower. Four requests have been subsequently denied, including The Independent’s, two are in progress and one has been granted.
It said in its rejection notice to The Independent: “At this point in time, it is our belief that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”
In the same letter the council went on to claim the Met had “expressed a view that disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime or the apprehension of prosecution of offenders” – but did not elaborate, beyond re-stating the Met’s belief that it had “reasonable grounds” to think the council and KCTMO had committed corporate manslaughter.
It added: “There is a considerable public interest in the disclosure of information held by the council about the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, and the cause and spread of the fire.
“Where possible, we will be releasing information that relates to Grenfell Tower. However, there is also a significant public interest in withholding this information so as to not adversely affect the criminal investigation.”
But the Met’s advice did not constitute an order to withhold the information, the force said.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: … “The release of material remains the decision of the organisation who holds it.”
Emma Dent Coad, the [Labour] MP for Kensington, said it seemed “strange” that the council was refusing to release the information. “There are a lot of unanswered questions in this terrible case, and unsurprisingly some suspicion from local people as to why they are not being answered,” she said.
Maurice Frankel, of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, said: “It makes no sense to defer answering FoI requests until any prosecutions that may be brought are over.
“The public inquiry taking place [will] be looking into these matters anyway and dealing with much of the same information, and you cannot delay disclosure and the learning of lessons for years until any trial is over.”
This 2017 video is about urban birds in the Netherlands.
People in crowded urban areas — especially poor areas — see fewer songbirds such as tits and finches, and more potential ‘nuisance’ birds, such as pigeons, magpies and gulls, new research shows: here.
You have probably encountered a raccoon raiding the trash in your neighborhood, seen a rat scurrying through the subway or tried to shoo away birds from your picnic. But have you ever wondered what makes these animals so good at living in suburbs and cities, and whether these same traits also make them such a nuisance? Here.
This video says about itself:
See Statues and Mysterious Disk Found in Ancient Greek Shipwreck | National Geographic
18 October 2017
Archaeologists have discovered additional intriguing artifacts from the Greek shipwreck famous for carrying an “ancient computer.” Discovered over a century ago off the island Antikythera, the ship, large for its time some 2,000 years ago, was carrying luxury goods, probably to Rome.
The site represents what one of the team’s co-leaders reports is the largest known cache of shipwreck cargo in the Mediterranean. In addition to the so-called Antikythera mechanism, a device for tracking celestial movements, the ship carried pottery items and bronze statues.
This year’s expedition has brought one more fragment of the latter to light, a disembodied arm, much like the “orphan limbs” that sponge divers first spotted when they discovered the wreck in 1900. Another bronze artifact just discovered is a disc decorated with the figure of a bull. The function of this piece is a mystery.
This video says about itself:
5 September 2017
Due to a reduction in biodiversity, insect populations have declined in Europe by as much as 80%. Educators in South Africa predict the same fate for their country.
From PLOS one:
More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas
Published: October 18, 2017
Global declines in insects have sparked wide interest among scientists, politicians, and the general public. Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services. Our understanding of the extent and underlying causes of this decline is based on the abundance of single species or taxonomic groups only, rather than changes in insect biomass which is more relevant for ecological functioning.
Here, we used a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (96 unique location-year combinations) to infer on the status and trend of local entomofauna.
Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study. We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type, while changes in weather, land use, and habitat characteristics cannot explain this overall decline. This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape.
This satiric Mark Fiore video from the USA says about itself:
Trump Sports Network
17 October 2017
Once again, satire is just inches ahead of reality. When the President of the United States calls for people who don’t stand for the national anthem to be fired and speaks wistfully of more violence in sports, you know we’ve gone farther into Kookyland.
TRUMP TELLS PREGNANT WIDOW OF FALLEN SOLDIER: HE KNEW WHAT HE SIGNED UP FOR Trump reportedly told the pregnant widow of a soldier killed in Niger that he “must’ve known what he signed up for,” according to Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson. The hashtag #HeKnewWhatHeSignedUpFor began to trend on Twitter, as many slammed the president for his insensitive phrasing. Trump also politicized the Afghanistan death of his Chief of Staff John Kelly’s son, asking if President Barack Obama had called Kelly after his son was killed by a land mine. [HuffPost]
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S CALL TO SOLDIER’S FAMILY CREATES SELF-MADE FIRESTORM Despite the president claiming otherwise, the mother of fallen soldier Sgt. La David Johnson said the president “disrespected” her family. And White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders raised doubt about the existence of Trump’s claim to “proof” that he never said Johnson “knew what he signed up for.” This Gold Star father says Trump offered him $25,000 and never followed through. Another Gold Star dad said he wanted to learn how to use Twitter to call the president “a liar” over his claims of contacting all of the families of the fallen. [HuffPost]
Retired General John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, made an extraordinary intervention into the political firestorm over President Donald Trump’s crude and lying comments about the official treatment of military casualties in his and previous administrations: here.
Two-and-a-half weeks after the deaths of four US Special Forces troops during a firefight in the landlocked West African nation of Niger, the American media has remained fixated on the ugly controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s condolence call to the grieving widow of one of the soldiers, made as she was driving to the airport to meet his coffin. Accounts given by both family members and Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who was in the car when the call came over the speaker phone, leave no doubt that the indifference of the billionaire conman in the White House to the death of a 25-year-old African-American soldier from an impoverished Florida town, and his incapacity to express empathy for the family came through loud and clear: here.
The militarist diatribe by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired Marine general, at a White House press briefing last week laid bare an open secret of American politics: behind the façade of democratic rule, the United States increasingly resembles a military dictatorship: here.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave a televised press briefing Monday afternoon on the US military presence in the West African country of Niger. His hour-long appearance came in the midst of a mounting clash between the White House and the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four US soldiers killed in Niger on October 4: here.
Slain US special forces troops on apparent assassination mission in Niger: here.
Trump loves the national anthem, so much so he has made it a wedge issue. Just don’t ask him to finish the song.
On Monday evening President Donald Trump announced the cancelation of the scheduled visit by the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House Tuesday. Reports indicate that of the over 80 players and team personnel who were invited, less than 10 had planned to attend. Taking offense at the expected size of the Eagle delegation, Trump seized upon it as an opportunity to continue his assault on National Football League (NFL) players and democratic rights generally. In rescinding the White House invitation, Trump issued a statement declaring that the players were not attending because of their refusal to stand properly for the national anthem: here.
This 17 October 2017 video from the Netherlands shows a peacock butterfly in the wind.
Francisca Bakker made the video.