London Grenfell disaster killed photographer Khadija Saye


This 2 September 2017 video from Britain says about itself:

Khadija Saye tragically lost her life in the Grenfell Tower fire at the age of just 24. In this interview filmed a month beforehand, she talks about her ambitions and her photography exhibition in Venice.

The footage is taken from the BBC Arts programme Venice Biennale: Britain’s New Voices.

BY LUCY LAVER in Britain today:

Khadija Saye: Breath is Invisible

Khadija Saye 1992-2017 236 Westbourne Grove W11 2RH Until August 7th

WITH THE reconvening of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry on Monday and the recent and ongoing global Black Lives Matter uprising, this is a pertinent and timely outdoor exhibition of the remarkable photographic works of the late Khadija Saye.

The exhibition was unveiled by Labour MP David Lammy earlier this week in Notting Hill.

The large intriguing prints are displayed across the façade of 236 Westbourne Grove W11, and the powerful exhibition coincides with the launch of an art project, the Khadija Saye IntoArts Programme, that aims to diversify the industry, working with young people from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds.

It was founded in her memory by the charity, IntoUniversity, who had nurtured Khadija’s artistic talents as a North Kensington student from childhood, and her mentor Nicola Green, a British portrait painter and the wife of David Lammy.

Khadija Mohammadou Saye, also known as Ya-Haddy Sisi Saye, was a London born British Gambian artist and activist who lived and worked in the flat she shared with her mother, Mary Mendy, on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower in urban North Kensington.

Although Kensington and Chelsea is one of the smaller and wealthier boroughs in London, North Kensington is a relatively deprived area where its pockets of poverty often sit in stark contrast to the wealth of those around them.

Despite this, at 16 Khadija won a full Arnold Foundation scholarship to the esteemed Rugby School and went on to study a BA in photography at UCA Farnham with a particular interest in post-colonial theory and identity politics.

Her graduate exhibition, ‘Crowned’ was a series of thought-provoking portraits shot in her home against a black velvet background depicting the traditional hairstyles such as braids, locks and cornrows worn by her friends, family and neighbours.

Saye had a passionate drive to make art a more inclusive space and had worked at Jawaab, a creative campaigning group aimed at legitimising young Muslims to become politically and artistically active.

The series used in the current exposition is entitled Dwelling: In This Space We Breathe.

The portfolio of self-portraits is a very personal exploration of the notions of identity and spirituality, inspired by Khadija’s Muslim and Christian religious heritage and portraying traditional Gambian rituals with culturally significant and meaningful objects.

The sepia-toned images have been described by critics as heartwarming, haunting and relic-like, with an ancient feel.

The aged look was achieved by an early photographic process created in 1851 called Wet Collodion Tintype.

The technique entails adding a soluble iodide to a collodion solution and then coating a glass plate with it.

This method results in images steeped in ethereal tones of grey and black.

Khadija’s use of this process and her characterisation of traditional African practices results in powerful and memorable portraits that are reminiscent of the sepia-toned images of early 19th century photographs.

Following her death, Tate Britain announced that they would exhibit a screen print of one of her tintype photographs from the Dwelling series.

Earlier in the year, they had been exhibited in the Diaspora Pavilion at the prestigious 57th Venice Biennale, where Saye was their youngest-ever participant, at just 24 years old.

Described by those that knew her as kind, funny, bright and extremely talented with an infectious laugh, Khadija had been nervous and thrilled to be selected for such an undertaking and had reportedly caught the eye of a prominent director.

The event had heralded the cusp of her recognition, and the images were still on display when the fire tragically engulfed her home and took her life, aged only 24, in June 2017.

Today, in this urban public space however, Khadija’s art lives.

Breath Is Invisible is a public art project which will show four artists’ work in a shared public space to celebrate, reflect, question and heal, and work collaboratively with young creative and local non-profit community arts organisations. It is a project born of urgency to address issues of racism and injustice.

English Grenfell fire disaster scandal continues


This 20 June 2017 video from the USA about England is called Grenfell Tower Disaster Could’ve Been Avoided.

From daily News Line in Britain, 10 July 2020:

Grenfell Inquiry bans survivors and relatives while safety experts didn’t even bother to read about cladding

GRENFELL survivors and relatives of the 72 people killed in the Grenfell Tower inferno are furious that they have been excluded from the inquiry that re-started on Monday under strict social distancing rules.

Despite the fact that the Tories have been driving forward relaxation of these rules when it comes to re-opening pubs, restaurants and shops and exhorting people to come out and spend, spend and spend to save the economy, none of this applies to the bereaved and their supporters.

They are banned from attending the hearing which is taking place with only the inquiry panel, witnesses and their lawyers along with cross-examining inquiry counsel permitted to be present.

Monday saw the opening of the second phase of the Grenfell Inquiry which will hear testimony from corporate witnesses from the firms responsible for creating the death trap at Grenfell Tower.

In February these witnesses and the companies they work for were granted immunity by the Tory attorney general from prosecution arising out of the evidence they give following the threat that they would refuse to give evidence that would reveal crimes they had committed.

This immunity was also granted to the Kensington and Chelsea Management Organisation (TMO), the private company paid by the council to run and maintain Grenfell Tower.

In fact, the fear of prosecution for the criminal acts carried out against Grenfell Tower residents was well grounded.

It emerged in the first phase of the inquiry that there existed overwhelming evidence that the designers and contractors who installed the cladding responsible for turning the Tower into a death trap knew in 2011 that this cladding had failed fire safety tests and was ‘not suitable for use on building facades’.

This total disregard for human life and the cavalier dismissal of all risk was brought home by the first witnesses’ statements heard this week.

Terry Ashton, the lead fire and safety consultant of the cladding refurbishment told the inquiry that he had ignored the documents outlining the proposed insulation and cladding materials to be used.

Ashton said he didn’t read an email from the project architects detailing the cladding system because he was not the ‘primary recipient’ and he had not bothered to read the plans because they were ‘very lengthy documents’.

Ashton is employed by the materials and testing firm Exova employed to assess the refurbishment and has been a fire consultant for 25 years despite having no formal training.

He produced a fire safety strategy that made no mention of plans to reclad the tower, and concluded that: ‘The proposed changes will have no adverse effect on the building in relation to external fire spread, but this will be confirmed by an analysis in a future issue of this report.’

Ashton has already told the inquiry he gave advice on the fire safety of the refurbishment and cladding without even once visiting the tower block.

No wonder the inquiry was desperate to keep survivors and relatives of those killed out of the room while those with responsibility for overseeing the fire risk from cladding already known in the industry to be a massive danger testify they couldn’t be bothered to read relevant documents because they were too ‘lengthy’.

This entire inquiry has been a sham from the start.

The public are excluded out of fear that they will explode in anger as they listen to the contemptuous disregard for the lives of workers living in a death trap.

It was a death trap built by companies out to make a profit out of using cheap, deadly materials and relying on them being passed as safe by companies that ignored the most fundamental safety oversight.

There must be no immunity for these criminals.

Grenfell was not an accident. It was the inevitable result of a Tory government working hand in glove with these companies to make a profit out of building deathtraps for workers and their families.

Justice for the crimes committed for profit will not be achieved through this sham inquiry but only by bringing down this Tory government and bringing in a workers’ government that will arrest the real criminals and force them to answer in court for their murderous crimes against the working class.

Boeing corporation cover-up of lethal aircraft problems


This 18 June 2020 video from the United States Senate says about itself:

Lawmakers rip FAA for not disclosing documents on Boeing 737 MAX

Key senators say the FAA is blocking their attempt to get documents that might explain how the agency approved the Boeing 737 MAX before two deadly crashes.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Boeing did not report crucial modification of 737 MAX to aviation authority’

US American aircraft manufacturer Boeing has not reported an essential modification to the type 737 MAX to aviation regulator FAA. This is evident from research by the United States Department of Transportation, published by the news agencies Reuters and AP.

These are changes to the warning system that automatically pushes the nose of the device down if it rises too quickly. Mainly due to errors in this so-called MCAS system, two planes crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia in five months, killing 346 people.

The U.S. department has created a timeline of the aircraft’s history, running from the drawing board in 2012 to grounding in March 2019 after the two crashes.

This shows that Boeing initially dismissed the MCAS system as a relatively insignificant system, which would rarely be activated in practice. But in 2016, after the first test flights with the 737 MAX had taken place, the system was modified.

This pushed nose down with more force when the system was turned on. However, this change was never formally communicated to the FAA, so it was not examined by inspectors. …

Survivors of victims have filed lawsuits against the corporation.

US regulator approves re-certification flights for Boeing’s deadly 737 Max. By Bryan Dyne, 30 June 2020.

Three years after Grenfell, still dangerous cladding


 The burned-out remains of the Grenfell Tower block in London, England

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 12 June 2020:

Fire chiefs condemn failure to replace cladding three years on from Grenfell

IT IS “wholly unacceptable” that buildings are still covered in unsafe cladding three years after the Grenfell Tower disaster, fire chiefs have said.

The National Fire Chiefs Council called for “a fundamental reform of building safety” ahead of Sunday’s third anniversary of the fire that killed 72 people.

Council chairman Roy Wilsher said: “Everyone has a right to feel safe in their homes” and called on ministers to speed up changes.

“In many cases, building owners are not doing enough to support residents. Some leaseholders are paying unacceptable fees to maintain safety measures which were meant to be temporary,” Mr Wilsher said.

His comments came after a parliamentary committee warned that fixing all serious fire-safety defects in high-risk residential buildings could cost up to £15 billion.

Some 2,000 residential buildings are still wrapped in dangerous cladding, meaning that thousands of homeowners sleep in potential fire traps every night, according to the report by the housing, communities and local government committee.

Grenfell campaigners, firefighters and Labour blast government’s inaction for justice and fire safety over last three years: here.

After Grenfell disaster, British Conservatives still anti-safety


The remains of Grenfell Tower in London, England

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain, 11 June 2020:

Grenfell campaigners and Labour slam ministers for failing to meet deadline for removal of flammable cladding

THE Tory government was slammed today after it failed to meet its own deadline for removing all flammable cladding from buildings.

There are still about 300 buildings covered in aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, three years on from the anniversary this Sunday of the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 72 people.

In July 2019, then Housing Secretary James Brokenshire set a deadline of June 2020 for all Grenfell-style cladding to be removed and replaced on tower blocks.

London Grenfell disaster inquiry continuing onlilne?


The burnout remains of the Grenfell Tower block in London, England

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Grenfell inquiry could resume via video conferencing

THE Grenfell Tower inquiry could resume via video conferencing, organisers said today.

The second phase of hearings into the disaster was halted last month due to coronavirus restrictions.

Now the inquiry has written to key witnesses and victims of the 2017 blaze with three options for how evidence may continue to be heard.

THOUSANDS OF RESIDENTS STILL TRAPPED IN DANGEROUS BUILDINGS says the Fire Brigades Union.

Still ‘Grenfell’ flammable cladding in Britain


This 8 March 2019 video from Britain says about itself:

Grenfell: The Deadly Cladding No One is Removing

After the Grenfell fire killed 72 people, many promises were made. Politicians vowed they would never let such a tragedy happen again.

But survivors say lessons are not being learned fast enough.

21 months after the fire, 354 buildings in England still have flammable cladding on them. In London, at least 176 high-rise buildings are yet to remove their Grenfell-style cladding.

Residents living at Northpoint in Bromley say they are facing bankruptcy and have been “abandoned” by the government.

It comes as police say criminal charges over the Grenfell Tower fire won’t be considered until the end of 2021. Survivors group, Grenfell United, say they feel “frustrated and disheartened” by the lack of progress.

By Alice Summers in Britain:

Nearly three years after the Grenfell Tower inferno, flammable cladding still widely used in UK

4 April 2020

A widely used type of building cladding has proven in tests to be highly flammable.

Nearly three years after the inferno at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, when aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding led to the rapid spread of a fire that killed 72 people, high-rise buildings across the UK are still covered in dangerous combustible material.

The test carried out on High Pressure Laminate (HPL) cladding resulted in flames ripping through the test structure in minutes, failing the safety assessment by a large margin.

While the exact brands of cladding and insulation were not released, the Metal Cladding and Roofing Manufacturers Association (MCRMA), an industry association, said it used a structure made of a “standard” version of the widely used HPL cladding and phenolic foam insulation to carry out the large-scale fire test known as British Standard (BS) 8414. This is the official test to which combustible materials must be subjected to in order to assess compliance with building regulations.

In 2018, insulation company Kingspan revealed that a system using HPL cladding had previously failed at least one BS 8414 test. Yet HPL has continued to be widely used across the country. In the recent MCRMA assessment, flames reached the top of the nine-metre-high test wall in just seven minutes and 45 seconds, with temperatures exceeding 700°C, forcing the test to be halted early. The test should last at least 30 minutes and the temperature recorded must stay below 600°C for a material to pass.

The fire spread inconsistently, with the flames not immediately catching hold extensively across the cladding and appearing relatively benign before suddenly taking hold in the joints between the panels and ripping through the cladding system in minutes. Panels “pinged off” the rivets holding them in place, creating air space and rendering the fire barriers almost useless in slowing the spread of the flames.

The results demonstrate that HPL systems pose a similar level of risk to the polyethylene-cored ACM cladding used on Grenfell, which failed the same test in six minutes and 35 seconds in the summer of 2017.

While it is not known exactly how many buildings are clad in HPL, research conducted by the housing publication Inside Housing found that 91 of the 1,612 high-rise buildings it surveyed were covered in this material. However, there are approximately 12,000 high-rise buildings over 18 metres tall across the country, with a further 100,000 buildings between 11 and 18 metres, so the real number of tall buildings using this cladding is probably in the thousands.

An additional survey by insulation manufacturer Rockwool identified 340 high-rise buildings with non-ACM cladding, many of which will be using HPL materials.

Warnings have been made about the danger of HPL for years, with industry experts calling on the government to implement large-scale testing and removal.

No tests were carried out to assess any HPL materials until midway through last year, when an HPL product treated with a fire retardant narrowly passed a BS 8414 test, despite temperatures rising to over 600°C after 25 minutes. The government issued guidance to local housing authorities stating that HPL could still be used on existing buildings if it was not combined with flammable insulation.

“Standard-grade” HPL was not subjected to any tests until the test in March this year, despite it being much more widely used than flame-retardant versions.

In a letter to the government, Dr Jonathan Evans, technical committee chair at the MCRMA who helped organise this recent test, said that he had called for the government to test standard-grade HPL in its post-Grenfell testing programme, but they had “flatly refused.”

“The foundation of [the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s] independent expert panel’s advice has been the ‘view’ that ACM [cladding] presents a unique danger despite there seemingly being no test evidence to support this. This is not ‘expert advice’—it is little more than wishful thinking. You can’t hide forever how these materials perform,” Dr Evans wrote.

He added, “From a fire and rescue perspective, the performance of a standard HPL system is practically the same as that of polyethylene-cored ACM—you’ve got just a few minutes to prevent a very serious fire from rapidly developing.

“Arguably, due to the higher fuel content, an HPL fire might be more difficult to fight than ACM due to the greater heat release rate,” he warned.

A 2019 study led by Professor Richard Hull, professor of chemistry and fire science at the University of Central Lancashire, already highlighted the danger of HPL materials, which have been associated with previous fire fatalities. Window panels using this material were installed at Lakanal House, a tower block in south London where six residents lost their lives in a fire in 2009 and another 20 were injured.

HPL cladding was also used on a student accommodation block belonging to the University of Bolton in the north of England, known as The Cube, where a massive fire broke out in November 2019. There were no fatalities, but two students had to be treated by paramedics for injuries, and the 211 students lost all their belongings.

Hull’s study found that HPL cladding releases heat 25 times faster and burns 115 times hotter than non-combustible products. Speaking to Inside Housing in 2019, Hull stated, “I think that HPL has been neglected, and shouldn’t have been neglected.

“One would fear that because of all the attention that has gone to the ACM buildings [that] the next disaster is likely to involve HPL rather than ACM—because they haven’t had the fire risk assessments and so on.”

Next to nothing has been done by the authorities to even address the danger posed by ACM cladding. According to government data, more than 400 residential blocks, in the public and private sectors, were found, after testing, to have flammable cladding. Yet as of January 16, 2020, at least 315 private and public high-rise buildings in England remain covered in ACM cladding. Remedial work has been completed on only 135 buildings, all but one in the public or social sectors, for which a pitiful £400 million has been made available since October 2018.

A further paltry sum of £200 million was made available in May last year, supposedly to handle at-risk buildings in the private sector. Taking account of the negligible remedial work done so far, between 13,300 and 17,100 households, comprising tens of thousands of people, live in unsafe privately owned homes. At the current rate, remediation on public sector blocks covered in ACM would take until October 2022, and private blocks not until October 2033.

With popular revulsion at government inaction growing, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in his March 11 Budget an additional £1 billion “Building Safety Fund” for the removal of dangerous cladding of all forms from high-rise buildings. Sunak’s announcement came after the National Housing Federation calculated that total costs for removal work are expected to easily top £10 billion in the social housing sector alone.

The lack of testing and removal work carried out thus far is testament to the deplorable levels of contempt evinced by central and local government for the lives of working-class residents. In March, the government-established Grenfell Recovery Taskforce reported that while 194 of the 201 households made homeless by the Grenfell fire are now in permanent homes, six households are still in temporary accommodation and one household is still in a hotel.

Last month, the Grenfell Tower Inquiry was halted due to the coronavirus crisis. While necessary to protect its participants, the inquiry is further delayed. A timescale that was not set to publish the findings of phase two of its proceedings until 2023 will be pushed back even further, while those corporations and government bodies guilty of social murder roam free under protection from prosecution offered by this state-orchestrated whitewash.

Dangerous combustible cladding still not replaced on 70% of buildings: here.

Zagreb, Croatia earthquake disaster


This 22 March 2020 video says about itself:

The streets of Zagreb after 5.3 magnitude earthquake hits Croatian capital | AFP

An earthquake of magnitude 5.3 hit the Croatian capital Zagreb, causing extensive damage in the city centre and scenes of panic. A 15-year-old boy was reportedly killed in the rubble of a badly damaged building, according to media reports. The epicentre of the tremor was located 7 km north of Zagreb. IMAGES of streets in Zagreb.

London Grenfell fire disaster, corporate mass murder


This 2019 video from Britain says about itself:

Grenfell Tower cladding ‘more flammable than a match to petrol’ – 5 News

A lawyer representing bereaved families and survivors of the Grenfell fire says the tower was wrapped in cladding that could go up in flames “more quickly than dropping a match into a barrel of petrol”. Stephanie Barwise QC was speaking at the public inquiry into the tragedy which is now focusing on the cause and spread of the blaze.

RBKC or the TMO were guilty of “institutional racism”, said a lawyer representing survivors and bereaved families.

By Charles Hixson in Britain:

Grenfell fire inquiry reveals more criminality by firms involved in refurbishment

14 March 2020

March 10 marked 1,000 days since the Grenfell fire. With the reopening of the inquiry on March 2, witnesses from the companies and entities responsible for the tragedy provided further revelations of wanton criminality.

Phase two of proceedings were halted on January 29, shortly after opening, pending a decision by the Attorney General’s office granting immunity from prosecution to witnesses in relation to anything they tell the inquiry. The reopened hearings focused on three witnesses from Studio E Architects—designers of the 2014–16 Grenfell Tower refurbishment. These included Andrzej Kuszell, founder, senior architect and a director; Bruce Sounes, another senior architect; and Neil Crawford, who had responsibility for day-to-day management of the project.

It emerged that Studio E had been chosen to oversee the refurbishment of the tower without any competitive process, interview, or other competence check. Counsel to the Inquiry, Richard Millett QC, noted that their selection after designing neighbouring Kensington Aldridge academy was “cheap, convenient, quick, even though Grenfell Tower was a completely different kind of project with different challenges.”

Kuszell admitted that if the project had been contested, Studio E would not have been chosen.

The company had no experience with such a project. The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO)—which managed Grenfell Tower on behalf of the Conservative-run Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea—“knew exactly what our skill set was”. He confirmed his team “was not experienced in overcladding a residential tower block.” The designers confessed they were so “green on process and technicality”, they would have to learn rapidly.

Project manager Neil Crawford was not fully qualified as an architect. Bruce Sounes had never worked on a high-rise project or with polyethylene composite materials. Internal emails showed the architects’ concern that the early budgets and fee of £99,000 were too low to cover the needed work. As for the KCTMO, Sounes had described its early design idea changes as “headless chickens, a chaotic mess”, warning Kuszell that the project was being treated like a “poor relative”.

Sounes admitted he never read cladding fire regulations, requiring external walls can adequately resist the spread of fire. He never viewed a diagram showing how buildings of different heights needed to meet specific safety regulations. He did not know aluminium panels could melt and spread flames, had no idea that cladding had caused fires on other buildings, confessed “no knowledge” of the rapid spread of fire in such circumstances, and had no experience designing cavity barriers.

For all these protestations, for Sounes and Studio what mattered above all was the bottom line. Sounes admitted that Studio E, at the request of KCTMO, manipulated its fees to stop the contract from being put to open tender. He deferred charging some fees, and by December 2012 stopped invoicing entirely when it approached the cost threshold of £174,000. This limit was set at the time by the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), under the European procurement rules.

Documents from the time clearly indicate that both parties were far more concerned with costs than safety. Writing a note for a July 24, 2012 meeting, Sounes observed that “the TMO would like … the total fee up until stage D not exceeding £174k which is the OJEU threshold for requiring work to be tendered. This will probably mean deferring some fees.”

Engineers had agreed to “massage” fire safety at Grenfell to allow it to pass checks. In August 2012, Cate Cooney, a senior consultant engineer at Exova, a firm of fire engineers, emailed a colleague after a conversation with Sounes: “Basically I have told him that we can massage the proposal to something acceptable with separation, lobbies, etc., but there are approval risks in the project on the ff [firefighting] shaft/ MOE [means of escape] front… They are making an existing crap situation [in Grenfell Tower] worse …”

Sounes said the Exova email “raised a level of concern I was not aware of.” After two hours of questioning on his third day of testimony, he became ill, and was unable to continue after the recess before the afternoon session.

By March 9, the inquiry heard about the misrepresentation of its foam insulation marketed by cladding manufacturer Celotex. Architect Neil Crawford explained, “It’s deliberately misleading. It’s masquerading horse meat as beef lasagne and people bought it.”

Celotex marketing claimed their RS5000 cladding product that caused the devastating Grenfell blaze was “acceptable” for use in buildings above 18 metres in height and had passed a fire safety test. But the test used cladding panels less combustible than the plastic-filled products proposed for Grenfell. Crawford claimed he had not known that Celotex’s claims related to a test on less dangerous materials. He also argued he had relied on expert knowledge from fire engineers at Exova, which he said was “fairly emphatic” that the new insulation was appropriate.

In 2012, Studio E nearly sacked Exova for failing to agree to fire strategies for both Grenfell and the nearby Kensington Aldridge Academy. On October 10, 2012 Colin Chiles, executive at building contractor Leadbitter, complained about Exova’s response to the concerns of the Grenfell Action Group (GAG): “I am not willing to commence the works until I receive demonstration that the fire safety of the estate has been considered on the design … Should I issue this to GAG it would further exacerbate an already high-risk project.”

The following year Exova claimed “the proposed changes will have no adverse effect in the building” regarding regulations about external spread of fire. It said that “this will be confirmed by an analysis in a future issue of this report.” This never happened.

The Grenfell Action Group warned for years about the dire consequences of cost-cutting, finally warning, in November 2016—seven months before the fire—“only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord.”

Tuesday’s hearing revealed more of the obsession of cost over safety by the corporations involved. E-mail discussions between subcontractor Harley Facades, lead contractor Rydon, and Studio E observed that upgrading flame-resisting cavity barriers from the minimum requirement of 30 minutes to 120 minutes would cost an extra £12,000. Architect Crawford agreed there had been pressure to avoid recommending the upgrade.

An expert report to phase one of the inquiry by Dr. Barbara Lane in 2018 found “missing and defective cavity barriers” and that horizontal barriers had been incorrectly installed vertically in the refurbishment. After claiming that the sub-contractor had been at fault, Studio E’s Crawford opined, “Unfortunately, the industry only reacts to the regulations that are in place, therefore you need to have regulations in place that are fit for purpose.”

What is revealed in everything coming out of the inquiry is that the drive for cost savings at Grenfell, at the expense of public safety, was endemic and epitomised what corporations are allowed to get away with in Britain and internationally in highly de-regulated economies.

Former employee of Studio E, Tomas Rek, gave evidence Wednesday about a meeting with cladding subcontractor Harley Facades on September 27, 2013 at London’s Hay’s Galleria. Rek believed the meeting was “more to do with the appearance and price of the various materials and not their fire performance or fire rating.”

Sounes later sent an email to Harley Facades saying the cladding costs were over budget. The following month Harley emailed Rek saying from a “Harley selfish point of view our preference would be to use ACM [aluminium composite material]. Rek said he was unaware of fire safety requirements but emphasized that RBKC had been putting Studio E “under some kind of pressure” to switch to the cheaper materials.

Sounes sought to withhold vital information from the London Fire Brigade service regarding the Grenfell project. On Thursday, the inquiry found that when he emailed the KCTMO in April 2014 regarding the provisional fire safety plans drawn up by Exova, Sounes advised, “I would not show this to the LFB [London Fire Brigade].”

He feared the plans would support a “severe interpretation of the regulations.” He claimed they had not been finalised, so “thought it best to be sure what we were proposing before we did so.”

There can be no doubt that such practises, compromising safety, were, and are standard throughout the construction industry.

This week’s testimony shows exactly why the individuals involved demanded immunity. Their immunity from personal responsibility is being used to conceal corporate responsibility. If those personally involved in events that led to the fire cannot ultimately be prosecuted, then neither can the corporations they represented.

The Grenfell community and their supporters, who were given only a brief moment to air their opinions in Phase 1, are now being forced to sit and watch while representatives of the corporations and RBKC recount their detailed attempts to subvert safety regulations for profit, all the while knowing they are evading prosecution. The entire Grenfell community must demand that the inquiry is halted and that their legal teams withdraw co-operation. Prosecutions against the guilty parties must proceed without further delay.

Fukushima, Japan disaster still continuing


This 11 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Fukushima: Nine Years Later Still Glowing (w/ Kevin Kamps)

Nine years on from Fukushima, the Japanese government are forcing people to return to their homes, despite the dangers of radioactivity.

The Olympic flame is due to pass very close to the plant. Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist from Beyond Nuclear, joined Thom to update the story.