British Conservatives threaten Grenfell disaster survivors with eviction


This 19 June 2017 video from London, England says about itself:

Grenfell Tower inferno‘s neighbouring tower is BAD

This is a look at the tower next door to the Grenfell Tower called Whitstable Tower. It has only one firehose in the whole block which is locked, two gas pipes that run up alongside the only fire escape. This building has no cladding but is still a death trap …

The guys who showed me around were worried that if their faces were shown they could be evicted for whistle blowing.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Grenfell Tower survivors threatened with eviction

MAHAD Egal, Jamie Murray and their two young children, who survived the Grenfell Tower fire, like so many others have still not been permanently re-housed by the council, and not only have they spent the last two years in temporary accommodation they now face eviction!

Kensington and Chelsea Council claim that the temporary accommodation they are living in is ‘no longer suitable’ and have demanded that the family is moved – not into a permanent home but into yet more temporary accommodation. The couple had previously been offered a permanent home but it had aluminium casing round the windows.

Understandably Egal and Murray refused it, as it was Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding which was responsible for the rapid spread of the fire up the side of Grenfell Tower, a fire that claimed the lives of 72 men, women and children.

The council claim the aluminium material is not flammable, however, Murray insisted: ‘We were given similar reassurances when we lived in Grenfell Tower. The council are talking about physical safety, but you telling me that I am safe does not make me feel safe.’

She added that the stress of their present situation had caused her to experience vomit-inducing anxiety and made her flashbacks worse. In the last two weeks she says she has also suffered a miscarriage.

The family added that moving from one property to another with two children would be ‘stressful and unnecessary’ and Egal is reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

They said the next time they move, they want it to be their permanent ‘forever’ home. The couple say they are now effectively being evicted from their current temporary accommodation, and they fear going out in case they are not allowed back in. Egal said that ‘every day from now on is a potential eviction day’ and he fears the effect it will have on their children.

Local Labour MP Emma Dent Coad said the council sees some Grenfell survivors as ‘troublesome’ and wants to ‘clear the decks’ before the second anniversary of the tragedy on 14 June. She said there is ‘no culture change’ at the council, and she can see no justification ‘at all’ for wanting to move the family from their temporary accommodation.

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English students strike against global warming


Students from Luton, England striking against climate change, at Parliament Square in London

From daily News Line in London, England:

Saturday, 13 April 2019

SCHOOL YOUTH CLIMATE CHANGE DEMO

HUNDREDS of school youth staged a strike [against] climate change in Parliament Square yesterday.

Lana Daly came with friends from west London and said: ‘The government needs to implement a strategy that cares for the environment. They need to listen to the science.

‘They just don’t seem to care about what happens in the future.’

Angel Innes came with her school friends from Luton and said: ‘We held a school strike in Luton in March and that was really successful. We are demanding action from the government on climate change. There are so many of us leaving school now that want change.’

Students take part in a strike for the climate crisis outside Parliament Square, London, as demonstrations are planned in towns and cities across the UK as part of the YouthStrike4Climate movement

By Marcus Barnett in Britain, Friday, April 12, 2019:

Thousands of students warn May to act on climate change

Britain’s major cities swamped as #YouthStrike4Climate mounts huge protest

Britain: Activists demand HSBC bank stop funding war and global climate change: here.

This German tweet is about the Berlin pro-climate strike yesterday.

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

British anti-racist demonstrators speak


This 16 March 2019 video says about itself:

London pays tribute to victims of New Zealand terror attacks

For the UN Anti-Racism Day against racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism and fascism, Stand Up To Racism group stopped at the New Zealand High Commission to send thoughts to those affected by the mosque shooting in Christchurch before marching between Hyde Park and Whitehall. Report by Habiba Khanom.

By Ceren Sagir in central London, England:

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Anti-racism demo sees thousands take to the streets of London

THOUSANDS of people in Britain marched in unity against racism and fascism on yesterday following Friday’s murderous attack on Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a far-right adherent.

Demonstrators marched in Cardiff, Glasgow and London along with those in 60 cities across the world on United Nations Anti-Racism Day.

Stand Up To Racism co-convener Sabby Dhalu said the event had “a more sombre tone than previous years because of what happened in Christchurch. These types of hatred, terrorist attacks do not happen in a vacuum.

“There is a link between the hatred peddled by the politicians and the media and hate crimes on the streets and places of worship.”

London’s demonstrators assembled in Park Lane and marched to Downing Street, pausing to lay a wreath at New Zealand House.

London anti-racist march, photo by Ceren Sagir

Speaking at the rally in Whitehall, Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “We have to fight fascism and white nationalism wherever it rears its head. And we have to fight the enablers of anti-Muslim hatred wherever we see them.

“We’re living through a very dark period, but together we can turn the tide.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told the throng that “now, more than ever” they must promote values of tolerance and diversity.

“Racism and fascism have no place in our society,” she said. “As trade unionists we’ll continue to stand up to the forces of hatred and division and won’t flinch in our campaign against the far right.”

Communication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward said that in order to defeat racism, inequality must also be defeated.

“There is a direct connection between the rise of the far right, of racism and fascism, and the rise of inequality in this country, in Europe and across the world”, he said.

“Let’s stay united together. Let’s defeat racism, let’s defeat inequality.

“And the best way of doing that is by joining a trade union, join the Labour Party, and getting behind the greatest anti-racist campaigner this country has seen in mainstream politics: Jeremy Corbyn.”

Mr Ward also read a message from Labour leader Mr Corbyn, which said: “We must stand together to defeat the message of hate that seeks to divide us. An attack on a mosque or a synagogue or a church or a temple is an attack on every single one of us.

“We should never forget the incredible contributions we achieve when communities come together. Then we can address the real problems — challenge poverty, inequality and racism, defeat austerity and tackle climate change.”

From the World Socialist Web Site in England:

Protesters speak out at UN Anti-Racist Day rally in London

By our reporters

18 March 2019

WSWS reporters spoke to some of those attending Saturday’s demonstration in London to mark the United Nations’ Anti-Racism Day. The march was held just hours after fascist terrorists murdered 50 people at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

Ann (left) and Stella

Stella and Ann are both retired. Stella said, “The reason I am here today is because I see fascism and racism growing not only in Britain but across the world, and I am going to stand for the minority, the refugees, for Grenfell [tower fire victims], for Windrush [immigrants in the UK]. That is why I’m here.”

Asked what she thought about the events in New Zealand, Stella said, “We are horrified, and we are upset and we need to stop Islamophobia, which is ripe in the Conservative Party. [Leading Conservative politician and former foreign secretary] Boris Johnson turned around and described Muslim women as letterboxes. How can you not tear people apart and have division when you have that type of person?

“I blame the conservatives for spreading it [Islamophobia]. Theresa May puts people in cages and sends them back to their own countries—they belong here. It is spreading hate and what happened in Christchurch could happen here in England. We stood with our Muslim brothers and sisters yesterday in a vigil. We will show our solidarity.”

A WSWS reporter explained that the crisis-ridden capitalist system globally was fuelling nationalism and the growth of far-right forces. Ann said, “I agree that capitalism is at the heart of it.

“The Western world [politicians] have done everything to place austerity measures at the door of the working class, which is the vast majority of the population. To bring austerity to bear to try to break our spirits—that is exactly what they have done. The division that exists between the very well off and those that have nothing is becoming wider and wider. That is why governments now are becoming terrified. They are scared that the spirit of the working class is coming together, and we will not be silenced.

Ann said, “War is one of the biggest money earners in this world and war is used to distract from what is happening in politics. How can UK Prime Minister Theresa May sit there in Downing Street and within 10 miles there are children going to bed hungry every night? They [the poor] don’t know what is coming the next day because they have ownership of nothing. It’s those people they want to oppress, and it is those people we are with.”

Nicole

Nicole said, “I am very concerned about the direction the world is going in at the moment … The challenge is to keep the world safer. The last few years we have seen right-wing ideology being normalised, such as the Trump administration in my own country … With Brexit, we are in a precarious place in history.”

She was concerned about the growing levels of poverty, with a few billionaires controlling all the resources of the planet. “There is a big inequality gap that is widening and needs to be addressed, because greater inequality brings about instability in society.”

A WSWS reporter explained that there was a wave of historical falsification in German universities that has paved the way for the emergence of neo-fascist forces. Professor Jörg Baberowski at Humboldt University had played a critical role in this. The far-right Alternative for Germany was now the main opposition party in the Germany parliament.

Nicole said, “I can’t speak to the role of the government and academia in Germany, but I am horrified at the right coming to the fore in Germany.”

David is a history student at York University and has taught English in Turkey. He said, “I’m here today to stand up against the rise of racism and the criminalisation of refugees, asylum seekers and against the European Union’s governments’ appalling policies. I oppose the Home Office [in the UK] and the bureaucratic obstacles put in place, again and again, to stop people accessing their rights.

David

“I’m here to demand civil rights for refugees and asylum seekers, for the European Union to let search and rescue missions continue in the Mediterranean. One in nine people are drowning. The European Union has banned civilian vessels. I’m here to defend solidarity, let the vessels out, free the ships. And from personal experience of helping refugees in Turkey and Kurdistan, I’m saying we can’t allow the drownings to continue.”

He said, “In the UK it’s normal to have restricted entrance into the country. Until 1962, there was no restricted entrance into the UK from the whole of the Commonwealth. We had complete freedom of movement. And then only 11 years later we enter the European community and the borders were closed.

“We have a tradition in this country of open borders, so anyone from anywhere can come and contribute.” Asked what he thought the reasons for this were, he said, “It’s been stopped by the rise of racism and the criminalisation of refugees, the rise of fascism, and blaming problems on them instead of on the inherent inequality in the system and austerity policies.

“We have to break out of the capitalist realism … We have to give people their inherent human rights and give civil rights to refugees who come from places where they haven’t got any. In Libya the European Union is forcibly returning people or paying the Libyan coast guard who’ve been known to shoot at people. It is unacceptable.”

Speaking about Libya and Syria, which have been devastated by imperialist inspired wars, David said, “They [the imperialist powers] only use the humanitarian banner when it suits them. We [UK governments] will not intervene unless it’s in our interests.”

Asked his views on the atrocity in Christchurch, David said, “It’s disgusting, and the fact is that several media outlets haven’t defined it as terrorismA senator in Australia just after the shooting was blaming Muslim migration. This is disgusting. You don’t blame the victim for the shooting. If it’s a woman and she’s been raped, you blame the perpetrator. It’s these media outlets shifting the blame. When something happens they say, ‘We’ve got too many migrants.’ No one says, ‘We’ve got too many racists.’”

USA: Trump implored Fox News to “bring back” host Jeanine Pirro after her show was omitted from the Saturday night lineup following her Islamophobic remarks about the hijab worn by Muslim lawmaker Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).