This 3 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:
This 8 March 2019 video from Britain says about itself:
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.
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.
Chicago Amazon workers marched outside Amazon’s DCH1 delivery facility on Chicago’s Southwest Side on Friday chanting, “Our lives matter!” The demonstration took place after management revealed that two DCH1 workers had tested positive for Covid-19. The demonstrations follow a walkout by 30 workers on Monday, who urged workers going into the facility not to clock in and risk their lives: here.
This 4 April 2020 video from the USA is called Amazon’s Plans To Smear Strike Leader Leaked.
Letter from a Caterpillar worker in Illinois: “This is class biological warfare”. By a reporter, 4 April 2020. A Caterpillar worker writes about the dangerous conditions workers face during the COVID-19 pandemic.
US health care workers face retribution for criticizing unsafe hospital conditions. By Benjamin Mateus, 4 April 2020. The shortage or entire absence of personal protective equipment (PPE) is driving health care workers to voice their concern over the danger of becoming infected.
As infections and deaths soar, Georgia governor issues “stay-at-home” directive: here.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced an investigation Wednesday into a spate of deaths at the 247-bed Soldiers’ Home run by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the small city of Holyoke in the western part of the state. As of Friday afternoon, there were 21 residents confirmed to have died at the Soldiers’ Home in a span of only 10 days. Of those who died, 15 tested positive for COVID-19. Tests were negative for two other deceased patients and results are pending for one more. A total of 59 current residents of the Soldiers’ Home have tested positive for COVID-19. An official with Massachusetts Health and Human Services (HHS) released a statement saying that “the numbers of infected residents and deaths will continue to increase over the coming days. The deaths at the Soldiers’ Home were initially hidden from both the mayor of Holyoke, Alex Morse, and local health officials, who only became aware of a developing situation when employees at the facility reached out to them on Friday, March 12, with information that there was “a case that turned into several cases”: here.
This 3 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:
Now, a better consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. Today, Dutch NOS radio reports that 35 Dutch soldiers have returned from Iraq. Earlier, scores had returned from the Afghan war. This should be an example for all governments in the world; to fight the coronavirus in worldwide solidarity; instead of fighting, or planning to fight, war on Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Mali, Venezuela, Iran, nuclear-armed China or nuclear-armed Russia.
From daily News Line in Britain today:
THE Greek National Health Service doctors’ union OENGE has called on all doctors, trade unions, trades councils and social associations to ‘organise jointly mobilisations at hospitals’ entrances and protests at health administrative centres’ on 7 April, the ‘World Health Day – National Day of Action’.
The call was issued last Wednesday by the President of OENGE, Afrodite Rentziou, at the entrance of the Attiko Hospital near Athens. Several trade unions federations have pledged participation.
Rentziou said that only 75 new beds have been placed in Intensive Care Units, on top of 600, when the necessary number exceeds 3,500.
She added that before the coronavirus pandemic, there were 30,000 unfilled vacancies in the Greek NHS and the government now say that only 4,000 would be hired and for just a few months.
Rentziou appealed for the immediate employment of some 900 doctors who have applied for work in the hospitals.
OENGE have put forward three main demands. Mass employment of doctors, nurses and hospital staff; total unconditional requisition of the health private sector and integration with the Greek NHS; and protective clothing, masks and gloves for all medical staff.
On Thursday evening the Greek government’s health spokesperson Dr Sotiris Tsiodras announced that 1,514 people have been infected by the coronavirus and 53 have died since March 10.
The refugee camp at Ritsona, 50 km north of Athens, declared a lockdown on Thursday following 20 reported cases of coronavirus infection.
Dozens of villages in northern Greece have been declared infected by the virus and police and Greek Army units enforce a total prohibition of movement in or out of the villages.
The large ferry Eleftherios Venizelos with some 350 people on board of whom 120 have tested positive, according to the seafarers’ crew union PENEN, has docked in the port of Piraeus and will remain on a 14-day quarantine.
PENEN have denounced shipping companies for not declaring infections on cargo ships.
This 3 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:
This 1 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:
In this clip, we show how presidential spiritual adviser Paula White has been using her quarantine to host daily prayer sessions during which she heaps praise on Trump.
This video says about itself:
Today I discuss a new case in my particular area and it’s significance to my assertion that cases are being imported and underreported. The handling of this by the authorities expose government ineptitude even at this point. The censorship is blatant now. The USA swimming team for the Olympics want the games to be cancelled. I found a disinfection site and it doesn’t fit the narrative Japan is pushing.
By Kevin Reed:
Why is the World Socialist Web Site banned from the subreddit r/coronavirus?
3 April 2020
On Thursday, March 19, users attempting to share the latest World Socialist Web Site articles on the subreddit r/coronavirus were notified that the wsws.org domain had been banned and labeled as an unreliable source by moderators. The message said, “wsws.org may not be reliable. Your post has been automatically removed. If possible, please resubmit with a link to a reliable source, such as a reliable news organization or an [sic] recognized institution.”
The label also says, “I am a bot, and this action has been taken automatically. Please contact the moderators of this subreddit if you have any questions or concerns.” Efforts by the WSWS to contact the r/coronavirus moderators have gone unanswered.
Significantly, the notices banning the WSWS began appearing less than 24-hours after Reddit users shared our article “Mounting anger as workers demand protection from unsafe conditions” which subsequently received thousands of upvotes and hundreds of comments. Although no new WSWS article links can be posted and this article is labeled as “removed by moderators of r/coronavirus” for “off-topic political discussion”, it has been “locked” and remains available to readers. It has more than 21,000 upvotes and 2,500 comments from workers.
Given that references to “reliable” and “recognized” sources are well-known euphemisms for the corporate media and our article had already received a widespread response on r/coronavirus, the banning of the WSWS by subreddit moderators is unmistakably an act of political censorship designed to block our analysis of the unfolding crisis from reaching the public.
The following timeline of events leading up to the WSWS domain ban confirms this assessment:
- On March 11, the White House hosted a video conference call chaired by US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios which included the participation of major technology companies and “other administration officials”. Although the reported details of the tech conference call are limited, it is clear that a major topic of discussion was shutting down so-called “misinformation” and the implementation of a censorship regime aimed controlling online and social media information about the coronavirus.
- On March 16, a group of eight major tech platforms—most of whom were in attendance at the White House call—published a joint industry statement which says, “We are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts. We’re helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world. We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe.”
- Reddit was one of the signers of the joint industry statement and posted it on the Reddit Twitter account at 8 p.m. on Monday, March 16 with the following comment, “Together with @Facebook, @Google, @LinkedIn, @Microsoft, @Twitter and @YouTube, we are committed to keeping our communities informed.”
By signing the joint industry statement—although there is so far no evidence that Reddit participated directly in the White House tech conference—the social news aggregation site that identifies itself as “The Front Page of the Internet” is demonstrating its collaboration with online censorship of content about the coronavirus that does not conform to the narrative developed by the US political establishment and faithfully repeated by the corporate media.
Reddit—which was founded by college roommates Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian in 2005—is owned today by Condé Nast, a subsidiary of the Advance Publications conglomerate which is owned by the Newhouse family publishing and news empire that dates back to the early twentieth century. Condé Nast acquired Reddit from its founders and others, including Aaron Swartz, in 2006 for an estimated $10 to $20 million.
Beginning in 2014, a series of private and institutional investors injected hundreds of millions of dollars into Reddit and transformed it into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. With just 500 employees and an estimated valuation of $3 billion, Reddit is one of the most valuable assets in Silicon Valley.
The presence of the billionaire Peter Thiel—cofounder of Pay Pal and right-wing technology advisor to the Trump administration—on the list of private investors in Reddit is an indication of the types of figures who are playing a role in the organization and directing its collaboration with the White House censorship initiative.
Due to the way that Reddit is organized—with subreddit moderators given autonomy in making decisions about the activity of users, posts and shared links—there is no way to know for certain what role, if any, is being played by the management or owners of the company in preventing WSWS content from being posted on r/coronavirus.
Frequently, subreddit moderators are Reddit users who sign up and volunteer for the role and are then granted significant authority over the activity of users within the community and the content that is posted there. The Reddit structure allows for different levels of moderators with various degrees of permission. The top level has “Full Permissions” including the ability to remove posts and ban users among many other rights.
Like all Reddit users, subreddit moderators enjoy a degree of anonymity and their identity is often concealed behind obscure usernames. Despite this feature of the platform, it is possible to develop a picture of individual moderators based on the subreddits that they moderate as well as their own posting activity on Reddit.
In the case of the subreddit r/coronavirus, there are 67 moderators. The top ten moderators listed on the subreddit all have the top level “Full Permissions.” As an example, one of the r/coronavirus moderators with Full Permission named “justcool393” is also a moderator of 206 other subreddits. Among these are sexually-explicit subreddits, including one called r/porn_cringe and one specifically political subreddit called r/radicalcentrism.
Significantly, on another subreddit called r/subredditcancer, the moderator “justcool393” was asked why Reddit had abandoned its commitment to freedom of speech, to which the moderator replied, “It’s a multi-faceted answer that requires a lot of history and has a lot to do with the complexities of reddit’s situation. Firstly and foremostly, it’s a company that needs to make a profit. Is not exactly that shocking of a revelation but it’s probably the biggest reason.”
With such people having the authority to make the decision to label the World Socialist Web Site as an “unreliable source,” our characterization of the banning of our domain from the subreddit r/coronavirus as political censorship is entirely justified.
Therefore, the World Socialist Web Site is demanding the r/coronavirus moderators provide an explanation: Why are our reports and analysis of the global pandemic coronavirus being labelled “unreliable”? We further demand that all links from the wsws.org domain be restored, and users be permitted to share them on the subreddit immediately.
The WSWS has been published daily for twenty years by the International Committee of the Fourth International and is recognized internationally as a major source of authoritative Marxist journalism and analysis. We are quoted in numerous books and dozens of academic papers. Some of the leading historians of American history have been interviewed on and published statements on the WSWS.
Meanwhile, links from the WSWS have been posted on Reddit for years and our content is whitelisted on r/politics.
The WSWS is currently playing a decisive role in telling the public the truth about one of the greatest global disasters to ever confront mankind. Since January we have published nearly 300 articles on the COVID-19 pandemic by writers based in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. Throughout this coverage, we have sought to educate the public about the details and dangers posed by the pandemic.
Earlier than other news sources, the WSWS recognized the significance of the emergence of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China and its global implications:
- On January 24, we pointed to the growing danger in an article entitled, “Major Chinese city on lockdown as novel coronavirus spreads internationally.”
- On January 25, we raised the question, “One must ask, how prepared would the United States be should an epidemic similar to that presently developing in China affect it?”
- On January 28, we wrote, “It must be noted that while the situation in China is dire, the so-called first-world countries are no more prepared to deal with an outbreak on the scale currently occurring in Wuhan.”
- On January 29, we raised the impact on the world economy and stated, “The underlying fragility of global share markets, which have been boosted to record levels by the injection of trillions of dollars from the world’s central banks over the past decade and more, was underscored by the sharp falls on Monday and Tuesday in response to the coronavirus crisis.”
As these warnings made by the WSWS were being fully vindicated, the political establishment on every continent was seeking to conceal the implications of the unfolding crisis from the public.
Our reports throughout the month of February—including “Coronavirus to have deep impact on global economy” on February 8, “The coronavirus pandemic: A global disaster” on February 11 and “The coronavirus pandemic and the need for global socialized medicine”—focused on the expanding international crisis, its impact on the working class in countries around the world and on the global capitalist economy.
The WSWS analysis proceeded in direct opposition to the incompetent statements and actions of political figures around the world—including US President Donald Trump—about how the crisis was “under control” and public risk was “extremely low.”
On February 28, the WSWS published a statement from the International Committee of the Fourth International “For a globally coordinated emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic” which stated, “The working class must demand that governments make available the resources required to contain the spread of the disease, treat and care for those who are infected, and secure the livelihoods of the hundreds of millions of people who will be affected by the economic fallout.”
Throughout the month of March, our articles and statements continuously urged independent action by the working class in the face of the criminal negligence of the ruling class. These included, “Capitalism’s disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic” on March 4, “What must be done to fight the coronavirus pandemic” on March 6, “The response of the working class to the coronavirus pandemic” on March 11 and “Capitalism is at war with society” on March 13.
It was during the second week of March—as workers around the world began to take action in defense of their own health and safety—that the state, media and tech corporations came together in an effort to control of the flow of online and social media information about the coronavirus crisis.
Given these facts, it is clear that the banning of WSWS content from r/coronavirus is political censorship which only serves those, like US President Trump, who seek to downplay the disease and disorient the public about the meaning of the unfolding crisis.
We demand immediate action by moderators to restore access to our coronavirus pandemic reports, articles and analyses on the subreddit r/coronavirus and the removal of the label on our content as coming from an “unreliable source”.