London Conservative politicians blamed for flammable Grenfell Tower cladding

This 26 June 2017 video says about itself:

The firm which supplied the cladding used to insulate London’s Grenfell Tower says it’s stopping global sales of such panels for use in high-rise buildings, Reuters reports.

It follows reports that Arconic knew the cladding was to be used for the tower block despite warning in its brochures that particular type was a fire risk for tall buildings.

Read more here.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Grenfell Tower council opted for flammable cladding

KENSINGTON and Chelsea council turned down a proposal to clad Grenfell Tower in fire resistant material and instead opted for a cheaper option, allowing the tower to be clad in flammable material, experts have shown.

Construction company Leadbitter quoted the council £3.3m to fit fireproof cladding to the tower.

The council decided that £3.3m was too much to spend on the refurbishment and instead put the contract out to tender.

Construction company Rydon gave a cheaper quote of £2.1m, but in doing so, their refurbishment included a cheaper cladding which was flammable.

In order to save £1.3m, Chelsea and Kensington council awarded the contract to Rydon.

Rydon fitted the combustible cladding. On June 14, 2017, when the Grenfell Tower fire started, the fire rapidly spread up the side of the building as the cheap cladding caught alight resulting in the deaths of so many men, women and children. If the council had gone with the original quote and awarded the contract to construction company Leadbitter, which planned to use fireproof solid aluminium cladding, lives would have definitely been saved, fire safety experts said.

Grenfell United described the development as heartbreaking. ‘It is more news that tells us our loved ones would be alive today if different decisions had been taken and if the people in charge had put safety first,’ said Sandra Ruiz, who lost her niece in the fire. ‘We need the inquiry to get to the bottom of why plans for the refurbishment were changed and why, when the community raised concerns, they were ignored.’

Geoff Wilkinson, an independent fire safety expert, said that if the solid aluminium cladding had been used, it would have performed better in the fire. While Stephen Mackenzie, an independent fire safety consultant said: ‘There would have been little or no fire spread, so the lives lost at Grenfell may have been prevented.’

At least 300 other tall buildings in England are clad in similar systems to Grenfell and need to be reclad after they failed fire safety tests. To date the number of buildings which have been reclad you can count on the fingers of one hand.

Grenfell Tower: fire-resistant cladding plan was dropped. Exclusive: Nonflammable panel system might have saved lives, expert says, and ended up cheaper: here.


Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions in Hawaii

This 6 May 2018 video is called Earthquakes And Eruptions On Hawaii’s Big Island.

How long will Kilauea’s eruption last? A volcanologist tackles that and other burning questions about the Hawaii volcano. ByCarolyn Gramling, 5:16pm, May 8, 2018.

United States military plane crash kills Puerto Ricans

This 2 May 2018 video from the USA is called Savannah plane crash aftermath as seen from the sky.

By Alec Andersen in the USA:

Military cargo plane crashes near Savannah, killing nine Puerto Rican crew members

4 May 2018

A Puerto Rico Air National Guard military cargo plane crashed near Savannah, Georgia shortly after takeoff Wednesday, killing all nine people on board. It is the latest in a series of fatal airborne military incidents in the United States over recent years, further underscoring the callous disregard for human life in the upper echelons of the world’s most lavishly-funded military.

The Puerto Rico Air National Guard WC-130 was flying from Savannah, Georgia to Tucson, Arizona when the four-turboprop plane suddenly stalled in midair and banked sharply to the left before nosediving directly into Georgia state Highway 21. Five bodies have thus far been recovered from the wreckage and all nine people on board—five crew and four other military personnel—are presumed dead. Fortunately, no one driving on the stretch of highway at the time was injured.

A spokesperson for the Georgia Air National Guard told reporters that the plane was manufactured in the 1970s, though it was later reported that the plane was at least sixty years old.

Major Paul Dahlen, a spokesperson for the Puerto Rico National Guard (PRNG), said the plane had undergone what he called “routine maintenance” at a hangar in Savannah for “a number of days” before the incident but refused to specify what type of maintenance the plane had received. Subsequent reporting indicates that the aircraft had been at the facility for at least a month.

Dahlen said that the cause of the crash is unknown and that the incident is being investigated by the National Guard Bureau and the US Air Force.

The WC-130 was destined for the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMRG) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. While the PRNG initially described the flight as a “training exercise”, it was later revealed that the C-130 was being flown to the airbase to be retired. Known as “The Boneyard”, the AMRG stockpiles old military aircraft and spacecraft nearing the end of their lifespan.

The crash has been met with widespread anger in Puerto Rico, which remains in a state of utter devastation following the catastrophic damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria last year and official indifference on the part of the US government.

Even before the hurricane, Puerto Rican workers faced a severe economic crisis, with high unemployment and low wages coupled with one of the highest costs of living in the United States. These economic conditions have been exacerbated by a public debt crisis and the Jones Act of 1898, which mandates that only US-flagged vessels may dock at overseas ports of the United States.

Puerto Rico Governor Roberto Rosselló announced nine days of mourning in response to the crash, during which flags will fly at half-mast outside government buildings across the US colony.

Carlos Navaez, a close friend of the pilot, told Noticias NY1 that his friend had expressed concern over the safety of the aircraft he was working with, saying that the planes he flew are the oldest in the United States. The pilot told him that some of the planes have been rebuilt several times over the decades.

Wednesday’s crash represents just the latest in a series of fatal accidents involving military aircraft in the United States over recent years. In July, another C-130 crashed in rural Mississippi on a flight from North Carolina to California, killing 15 Marines and one Navy Corpsman. An investigation into that crash is still ongoing.

In June 2016, a Blue Angels exhibition jet crashed during a Tennessee air show, killing the pilot. Luckily, nobody on the ground was injured. A U-2 spy plane crashed in California in September of the same year, killing one pilot and wounding the other. In April 2017, a single-engine jet crashed and killed three Air Force members.

In March of this year, two pilots died following the crash of their US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet off the coast of Florida. A US Air Force Flight Demonstration F-16 crashed in Nevada last month, killing the pilot.

According to the Military Times, such incidents have increased by 40 percent since 2013 despite the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the US military budget every year.

From British Grenfell disaster to local elections

Emma Dent Coad

By Marcus Barnett in London, England:

Thursday, May 3, 2018

In the shadow of Grenfell

The Morning Star‘s Marcus Barnett speaks to Kensington and Chelsea MP Emma Dent Coad on what tomorrow’s local elections may bring

THE Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has been a Conservative stronghold since 1965.

However, these days no observer of any political persuasion can admit to having felt a similar mood in the area before.

Speaking at a rally in the borough several weeks ago, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told a group of 100 enthused Labour activists that “We are going to put the government on notice”, only to be met with several jeers of “and this council!”

Although analysts and commentators are happy to predict all sorts of national and local results to their heart’s content, nobody seems particularly keen to call Kensington and Chelsea.

For casting a shadow over this local election is the charred skeleton of Grenfell Tower, an ever-present reminder of the heartbreaking failures of the Conservative government — and its local representatives in the royal borough — to provide for ordinary people.

Across the whole of the borough, the Tory council faced serious condemnation for its handling of the aftermath of the inferno, which killed 71 people.

Justice looks far away — victims, bereaved families and campaigners are already voicing concerns that there will be a cover-up comparable to the Hillsborough tragedy.

Their public anxieties are not going unheard in the borough. One 86-year-old lifelong resident told the Star that she could “never dream” of voting anyone but Conservative, “especially Labour” — but will abstain from this election in protest at the council’s handling of Grenfell.

Kweku, who was brought up in the area and is a Chelsea season ticket holder, believes that there is a sea change in the borough.

“People who never thought it was worth voting Labour are now just going to do it to get this council out, and people who vote Tory do not want to give consent to this rotten council.

“It’s a disgrace. You see that tower and you see how rotten the people running this Tory council really are, and how they have failed local residents.”

Given this, Kweku’s prediction is that the results will be “very, very interesting”.

“A Labour vote is a vote against the type of administration that failed to protect against Grenfell, and every local resident will be aware of that choice.”

Labour currently hold 11 seats in the borough, as opposed to the Tories’ majority of 37. On paper, this seems an impossible challenge — winning control of the council would mean a 15-seat swing to Labour.

But many firmly believe that change is possible. When local councillor Emma Dent Coad won the constituency for Labour in the 2017 election, many in the Tory Establishment were deeply disturbed.

Dent Coad, an outspoken socialist, could not contrast more with Tory council leader Elizabeth Campbell. While Campbell provoked anger for admitting she had never been in a tower block before, Dent Coad is a longstanding anti-poverty campaigner in the area, and has spent her time as an MP highlighting the shocking social division in her constituency.

She told the Star that the tragedy at Grenfell showed up the “facade” of Tory rule in the area.

“If you don’t look after people, terrible things happen — and sometimes the worst possible things happen. They should hang their heads in shame, but they haven’t. They still don’t get it.”

But she also mentioned that her election was about the broader crisis in British society, and the unpopularity of the local council in dealing with austerity, local crime and the grotesque levels of inequality and differences in life expectancy in the area.

Dent Coad praised campaigners from London Young Labour, Momentum and Owen Jones for running an “incredibly impressive” campaign, pointing out that there have been 25 sessions a week during the election period.

A seasoned Labour activist who did not want to be named told the Morning Star that the buzz in the area for a Labour campaign has “not been the same” since the 1950 general election.

A particular target for Dent Coad and the local party is Chelsea Riverside ward, which she believes is a possible gain due to the constituency’s mass membership that has blossomed under Jeremy Corbyn. Such a wealthy ward would make for “extraordinary symbolism.”

“We don’t have any no-go areas, and so many people who have never voted Labour before are telling us that ‘we want that lot out’.”

As Owen Jones himself has said yesterday, Labour’s biggest obstacle in these local elections is complacency. Like Wandsworth, Westminster and Barnet, taking this council is far from impossible. Labour, Momentum and #Unseat campaigners will be targeting Kensington and Chelsea intensively tonight, in the hope of making the Royal Borough red — and to send a crushing blow to the entire Tory Establishment.

If you want to make history, think about joining them.

Grenfell bid for diverse inquiry fails. Court backs appointment of judge to oversee probe: here.

Local elections held in parts of the UK on Thursday gave a partial indication of the growing polarisation between the classes due to deepening social inequality: here.

The media treads a thin line between truth and lies. The media reporting of the local election results bore little resemblance to reality, says PAUL DONOVAN.