Bloodshed, disease in NATO’s ‘new’ Libya

This 13 April 2019 video says about itself:

Clashes in Tripoli leave dozens dead

Battles continue to rage between the forces of Libya’s … Government of National Accord (GNA) and former military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces in the southern suburbs of Tripoli leaving dozens dead and thousands displaced.

On Friday, fierce clashes erupted in Wadi Rabie, south of Tripoli, as pro-government forces fought off an assault by Haftar fighters.

Heavy shelling and gunfire in the Libyan capital over the past 6 days has wounded 266 people and killed 56, including an ambulance driver and 2 medical doctors. Thousands of people have fled their homes, while others are trapped in conflict areas.

Hospitals inside and outside the city are receiving daily casualties, says the World Health Organization

Britain: For once a Tory has told the truth about Britain’s wars. Foreign office minister Mark Field admitted in parliament on Monday that Britain’s interventions in Libya have had “calamitous outcomes”: here.

This 12 April 2019 video says about itself:

Disease outbreak feared in Libya

Gunfire and blasts echoed in Libyan capital Tripoli herald the outbreak of an epidemic.

The World Health Organization, WHO, says it fears an outbreak of infectious diseases linked to poor water quality, among thousands of people fleeing their homes.

The United Nations agency is particularly concerned about the significant population displacements caused by the Friday’s gunfire.

WHO Spokesman, Tarik Jasarevic said, “WHO is working with local health authorities to pre-position and provide equipment to hospitals. We treat those who need medical treatment. Obviously, with the situation worsening, we fear new health problems, such as epidemics as people are on the move and being driven out of their homes.”

On Friday, the WHO estimated that 75 people have died and 323 others wounded since the beginning of hostilities weeks ago. The casualties include seven civilians killed and 10 wounded.

London Grenfell disaster residents protest against cancerous waste

London Grenfell disaster area people protest over cancerous chemicals from Grenfell blaze, 5 April 2019

By Ceren Sagir in London, England:

Friday, April 5, 2019

Kensington residents protest over cancerous chemicals from Grenfell blaze

Grenfell justice activists brought traffic to a standstill today in a protest against the continuing presence of toxicity in the area around the tower that was devastated by fire two years ago.

By Thomas Scripps in England:

Surrounding land left highly toxic after Grenfell Tower inferno

6 April 2019

The preliminary findings of a study into the widespread presence of toxic substances in the area around the fire that destroyed Grenfell tower in London were published in the journal Chemosphere.

Carried out by Professor Anna Stec and a team from the University of Central Lancashire, its findings were reported to the government last February and ignored. Public Health England (PHE) has only ever tested for airborne pollution and always insisted that “the risk to public health from air pollution remains low.”

However, the Stec study described how “huge concentrations” of potential carcinogens are present in the dust and soil around the tower, as well as in the burned debris that had fallen from it.

Even when these findings were brought to national attention in the Guardian eight months later, in October 2018, PHE and the government attempted to evade the issue. They dismissed Stec’s work as not yet peer-reviewed and claimed that the chemicals she discovered could have come from “a variety of sources.”

Although a chemicals consultant, AECOM, has now been appointed to investigate the issue, not a single government-organised soil test has been carried out 21 months after the June 14, 2017, fire.

The publication of Stec’s full study confirms her original warnings, detailing “significant environmental contamination”. The carcinogen benzene was found in concentrations 40 times greater than the guideline level for urban residential areas in soil samples taken 27 metres away from the tower, six months after the fire. Samples from 142 metres away still registered up to 30 times the guideline level. Both sites had higher concentrations than would be expected for commercial land around petrol refineries.

Six carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were found within 140 metres of the tower, at levels up to 160 times greater than other urban areas. Soil sampled 27 metres away contained more than five times the guideline level of the most toxic PAH, benzo(a)pyrene, which can damage the lungs and the immune system and is related to increased risk of cancers.

Soil and debris sampled within 50 metres of the tower contained phosphorus flame retardants that are potentially toxic to the nervous system.

A balcony 160 metres away from the tower, sampled 17 months after the fire, contained traces of isocyanic acid, ethyl isocyanate and propyl isocyanate, potential causes of asthma, rashes, swelling and lung inflammation.

The researchers conclude that the findings could not have occurred naturally and that they are inconsistent with surrounding areas. They make the point that any study would have been much more valuable if begun in the immediate aftermath of the fire.

Stec said last week, “It is now crucial to put in place a long-term health screening plan to assess any long-term adverse health effects of the fire on local residents, emergency responders and clean-up workers.”

Her report is a vindication of the concerns expressed by the local community and a damning indictment of the authorities’ refusal to act.

Speaking to the World Socialist Web Site, local resident Kerdesan explained, “The children are sick all the time. My son goes to primary school next to the Kensington Aldridge Academy [at the base of Grenfell Tower]. They all have similar symptoms: coughing, chest pains, sore throats and ears, headaches. They haven’t done any tests in the school for the children, no screening. The community is fighting for it, but the authorities don’t care.”

Kerdesan herself suffered a bloody cough soon after the fire that antibiotics couldn’t cure. Seventeen months later, after a Grenfell survivor raised her case in a public meeting, she finally received a hospital appointment.

“They said your area must have very poor air quality. They asked if I smoked or if anyone in my family smokes, and none of us do. So they asked where I lived, and I explained it was near the Grenfell Tower. They asked if anyone else had done these tests. I’m due to meet a consultant on April 15 who will tell me the extent of the damage.”

Asked about the role of the Conservative government and the [Conservative] Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council, Kerdesan said, “In the morning after the fire, the entrance to my house was covered in debris. I had to clean it myself. … I filled up four bin bags. I rang the council to ask for help, and they said no, you have to contact the housing association. I rang my landlord, and they said no, you have to contact the council. Why couldn’t we get this service as an emergency matter? It was all left there for us to deal with. Three weeks after the fire, I got a knock on the door from someone who’d come to clear the debris!

“I think they should screen everybody now. That’s the first thing they should do. But they want to hide the truth.

“Last October, when people asked how safe it was for people to eat fruit and vegetables grown in the garden, PHE said ‘Just wash it before you eat it.’ We asked what about the children playing, rolling around on the ground, which they’ve been doing for the last 17 months, what will happen to them—because nothing’s been properly cleaned? They said, ‘Just tell your children to wash their hands.’ This is how they risk people’s health, and every time it’s about costs.”

Joe Delaney, a local resident who lived adjacent to Grenfell Tower and has a long record of fighting for safe and decent housing in the area, condemned the government’s efforts to avoid a serious investigation.

“Professor Stec came into the area in December 2017 and took samples, she told them of her findings in February 2018 and they sat on it and did nothing. Then it leaked in October 2018, and we all trooped to the Hilton Hotel for a meeting where they said they were doing something. And now here we are in April, and still nothing’s been done.

“They’ve appointed AECOM to do an investigation for the area. I was contacted by Lisa James, who works for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, in late December. She said she would like to meet me and discuss appointing a consultant and how to move forward. …

“Lisa James and her assistant Cecil Sinclair are the community engagement team of MHCLG. She has been brought in from the private sector, where she is a motivational speaker. He is someone who has been seconded internally, and he’s come from the Troubled Families Unit.

“Why are MHCLG running a highly technical, specialised area of science that will need rigorous study that can carry the confidence of a community that already doesn’t trust the authorities, and you give it to the housing people? It’s an old trick in the civil service, when you don’t want questions asked, let alone answered, you get a complete generalist to do a specialist’s job—and they don’t know what they’re doing. The situation is being managed.”

Joe explained that AECOM was the only bidder for the consulting position, in a tender process that lasted less than 48 hours. Their tender document was completed and submitted by December 12, 2018, before any meetings were held with Joe or other residents, who were told nothing had been decided. AECOM worked with RBKC as recently as 2016, when environmental studies had to be carried out during the Kensington Academy Leisure Centre rebuilding project.

“It’s the magician’s trick, pick a card any card, and somehow you end up with the one that he wants. And if you read through their document it’s all talk about ‘managing expectations’.

“There are academic institutions around the country that could have done this work. Or internationally even, if you really wanted to avoid questions of impropriety.

“When they appointed AECOM, what they were basically saying was, ‘Come on now, enough time has passed, we just need to get on with things, so there’s no point objecting to AECOM.’ In other words, we’ve wasted almost two years, so we might as well do something—even if that something is useless and not what you want at all. Now they can say about the chemicals, well this stuff could have come from anywhere, it’s years later.

“These synthetic vitreous fibres, there’s no way that they could have come from anything else except Kingspan and or Celotex products—the fibres didn’t exist when the tower was built.”

Celotex supplied the RS5000 insulation sandwiched between the equally dangerous aluminium panels that were clad to Grenfell during its refurbishment. When RS5000 burns it gives off toxic fumes that contain cyanide. Highly flammable insulation was combined with aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with a highly flammable polyethylene core.

“What PHE said was, yes there may be stuff in the area but Victorian people lit fires and had factories. Firstly, there weren’t factories. This area was a slum, bits of it were a racetrack owned by the Earl of Ladbroke, and farmland. We didn’t have chemical industries. If you look at the dispersal pattern for PAHs, the heaviest concentrations are around the tower and they seem to decrease the further away you go, so more likely than not they came from the tower.

“We were subjected to institutional indifference before the fire, institutional inadequacy when the relief effort failed, and now institutional inertia because they don’t want to investigate.”

Grenfell area residents demonstrate against toxins

Bahraini human rights violations protest in London

Bahraini Ali Mushaima protesting at London embassy

By Phil Miller in London, England:

Monday, April 1, 2019

Bahraini opposition leader’s son resumes London embassy protest

THE son of a jailed Bahraini opposition leader has resumed his vigil outside the country’s embassy in London after a six-month gap.

Ali Mushaima returned to Belgrave Square today where he previously spent 46 days on hunger strike.

He re-erected a banner of his father, 71-year-old Hassan, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court in 2011 during the Arab Spring.

Mr Mushaima said: “I find myself having to come back to the embassy as the Bahrain government is deliberately denying my 71-year-old father his human rights, including medical care.

“I don’t want to wait until his health completely fails. I will do whatever I can to fight for justice for my father.”

Mr Mushaima is a cancer survivor who still suffers from diabetes, erratic blood pressure, prostate issues and an ear injury.

The British government has paid to train Bahraini jailers in prison medical procedures, but the Mushaima family says healthcare at Jau prison is inadequate.

London Grenfell disaster area, cancer danger

This 28 March 2019 British TV video says about itself:

Grenfell Tower soil contamination increases cancer risk

Residents say the report confirms their fears about contamination following the fire in London, which killed 72 people.

Analysis of soil, debris and char samples of insulation boards used on the tower has revealed heightened concentrations of cancer-causing chemicals and proven carcinogens including benzene within 200m (656ft) of the tower.

Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire have recommended a long-term health screening process be put in place for residents and emergency responders who attended the fire, and called for a further independent analysis of the health impacts.

By Marcus Barnett in Britain:

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Grenfell tower area contaminated by cancer chemicals

CANCER-CAUSING chemicals and other potentially harmful toxins are present close to Grenfell Tower, according to analysis of debris and soil samples.

Samples from six different locations within a mile of the west London tower, where 72 people were killed in the June 2017 fire, were analysed by researchers from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The study, which was published in the Chemosphere academic journal yesterday, said that the samples showed signs of “significant environmental contamination.”

Pieces of soil and fallen debris taken within 50 metres of the tower were shown to contain toxic phosphorous flame retardants that are used in insulation foam.

Researchers also concluded that there was an “increased risk” of local residents developing cancer and asthma.

Nabil Choucair, who lost six family members in the disaster, said the lack of government interest was “another disrespect to the people and the community.”

UCLan chemistry and toxicity professor Anna Stec said: “It is now crucial to put in place long-term health screening to assess any long-term adverse health effects of the fire on local residents, emergency responders and clean-up workers.”

Shadow fire minister Karen Lee said: “It is unacceptable that the surrounding community continue to suffer.

“Toxicity tests should have been undertaken immediately after the fire, and appropriate health and safety measures put in place by the government instead of leaving residents at risk.

This government’s lack of urgency to permanently rehouse survivors and offer appropriate safeguards is typical of its wider inaction. It’s time that the needs of survivors and residents are rightfully made the priority.”

See also here. And here.

Local residents picket a Kensington and Chelsea council meeting demanding action against toxic materials

Saudi regime attacks Yemen hospital, again

This 27 March 2019 video says about itself:

🇾🇪 Yemen’s war: Kitaf air raid kills seven, including four children

The charity Save the Children says seven people, including four children, have been killed in an air raid on a hospital it supports in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading a coalition fighting rebel Houthi forces in a war which began four years ago this week. Al Jazeera’s Katia Lopez-Hodoyan reports.

It was not seven people; it was eight.

By Niles Niemuth in the USA:

Saudi attack on hospital kills eight as war in Yemen enters fifth year

28 March 2019

A Saudi coalition jet fighter carried out an attack on a hospital in Yemen Tuesday morning destroying the medical facility in Kitaf, a rural area approximately 60 kilometers outside the northwestern city of Saadah. The strike, which hit a gas station just outside the gates of the hospital, killed eight people, including five children, and forced the closure of the facility which provided much needed medical services to thousands of people in the region.

The criminal attack in Kitaf came four years to the day after a US-backed, Saudi-led military coalition began dropping bombs on Yemen in an effort to push back an insurgency by Houthi rebels which had taken over much of the country, and to reinstate the puppet government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The attack on the hospital in Kitaf was especially egregious since it had been “de-conflicted,” meaning that its exact coordinates had been provided to the Saudis as part of a no-strike list drawn up to keep any bombs and missiles from falling within a 100-meter radius of the facility.

The missile strike on the hospital also took place just as it was opening for patients in the morning, the busiest time of day. The attack destroyed the hospital’s pharmacy and damaged its medicine supply, emergency power generator and an ambulance. It is expected that it could take months for the facility to be fully operational again.

One medical worker was injured while treating two children in the hospital’s emergency room. “All people were screaming and running out of the hospital. The structure of the hospital was totally damaged inside”, he reported to Save the Children. “Our colleague lost two children. They were burned.

“I got injured in my head and I was bleeding. I ran away from the hospital with my colleague to a safe place but we found nothing that could help me stop the bleeding. It was the most difficult moments of my life.”

“Not only has this attack shattered the lives of those killed and injured, but it threatens to have a catastrophic impact on healthcare for 5,000 people in the area”m Jason Lee, Save the Children Deputy Country Director in Yemen warned in a statement Wednesday. “Pregnant women may be forced to give birth without the care that could save them and their babies’ lives. Starving children may go without lifesaving treatment for severe malnutrition.”

Coalition jets have continued to carry out airstrikes in the area. A jet fighter was spotted flying overhead during the funeral for one of the victims on Wednesday, causing mourners to flee for cover out of fear of an imminent missile strike.

The Saudi-fronted war, which began with the backing of US President Barack Obama and continues under Trump, has bogged down into a bloody stalemate with Yemeni civilians bearing the brunt of the war’s casualties. Researchers from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project estimate that between 70,000 and 80,000 people have been killed as a direct result of the war since the coalition assault began on March 26, 2015.

Three-quarters of Yemen’s population is in need of emergency aid and more than 8 million have been pushed to the brink of starvation by a Saudi blockade of the country, with children suffering a tragically heavy burden. The United Nations estimates that more than 1.3 million children have suffered from severe acute malnutrition over the last four years.

Save the Children estimates that at least 85,000 children under the age of 5 have died of starvation since 2015 as a result of the immense humanitarian crisis sparked by the war. Another 2,500 people died from cholera during the world’s largest outbreak between April 2017 and October 2018, when more than 1 million cases were recorded.

This grim toll would not have been possible without the support of the United States, which has provided Saudi Arabia with the jet fighters, bombs and other military equipment that it needed to rain down death and destruction on the poorest country in the Middle East. Crucially, the US has provided the Saudi coalition with refueling flights, allowing its fighters to carry out repeated attacks, and helped draw up lists of military targets in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has even deployed US-made cluster bombs, a deadly munition banned by an international treaty which neither country has signed.

Saudi Arabia and its Arab coalition partners have flagrantly committed war crimes in Yemen, repeatedly carrying out airstrikes on hospitals, schools, marketplaces, factories and critical infrastructure. Last year, a Saudi warplane dropped a 500-pound bomb on a bus carrying school children, killing 40 children and 11 others and wounding 79, including 56 children.

A bipartisan initiative in the US Congress to invoke the 1972 War Powers Act and bring American military intervention in Yemen to an end is cosmetic … Trump has already declared he will veto the joint resolution passed by the Senate this month and currently awaiting a vote in the House.

As with Obama, the war in Yemen is seen by the Trump administration as a critical component of American imperialism’s efforts to counter Iranian influence in the Middle East and prepare for war against Tehran. Congress approved the sale of more than $500 million in precision-guided bombs to the Saudi monarchy in 2017, and US special forces have been operating on the Saudi Arabian side of the border with Yemen for more than a year.