London Grenfell disaster survivors rehoused unsafely

A large delegation of firefighters from the North West Region FBU joined the Silent Walk in North Kensington, London, on Wednesday night demanding justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower inferno

From daily News Line in Britain:

Grenfell families rehoused in ‘high fire-risk’ building

16th August 2019

[London Conservative] KENSINGTON and Chelsea council have re-housed Grenfell survivors and their families in a block found to have a ‘high risk’ of fire!

A fire risk assessment of the Hortensia Road block in Kensington, which is currently housing 20 people and was set aside for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, also found that there was ‘no evidence’ that the cladding of the building had been inspected.

A fresh fire-risk assessment commissioned by the residents and carried out by consultancy Fire-X last month, found three sources of ‘high substantial risk’ in the building.

As its first substantial risk, Fire-X found ‘service penetrations’ through the riser walls had ‘either been sealed incorrectly or not sealed at all’.

The assessment of Hortensia Road found that the doors leading to the fire escape had gaps larger than the recommended 3mm, meaning fire and smoke could spread through them.

Wednesday evening saw over 300 survivors, local community and their supporters demanding justice attended the Silent Walk on Wednesday evening, the twenty-sixth month after the Grenfell fire which claimed 72 lives.

A delegation of 30 firefighters from the FBU North West region travelled from as far as Cumbria to join the walk.

FBU North West Region Secretary, Mark Rowe, told News Line: ‘Firefighters from Cumbria, Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester have come down today to show their solidarity and commitment to this community.

‘We want to ensure the Grenfell Tower tragedy is never ever repeated anywhere else in the UK.

‘From the time of the Summerland fire in the Isle of Man in the 1960s, when over 30 people lost their lives, it was known that certain cladding materials can be a death trap.

The government removal of “Red Tape” has meant the deregulation of building materials.’

FBU North West Region treasurer Andrew Fox-Hewitt said: ‘Due to Thatcher government’s deregulation policies carrying out the risk assessment of buildings as safe is driven by the need of profit and taken out of the control of the local authority.’


Bahraini Khashoggi-style murder prevented in London, England

This 10 August 2019 video from England says about itself:

Bahraini activist says he feared for his life at London embassy

A Bahraini activist says he feared being thrown from the roof of his country’s embassy in London during a protest in July.

Moosa Mohammad scaled the roof of the Gulf state’s embassy to protest against the executions of two Bahraini activists.

Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee reports from London.

Another ‘Khashoggi’ murder prevented in London, England?

This 9 August 2019 video says about itself:

London police break into Bahrain Embassy and possibly save Moosa Mohammed’s life

New Evidence Reveals Bahraini Embassy Staff [in London] Threatening Life of Protester: here.

This was not the Saudi embassy in Turkey, where Khashoggi was murdered. It was the embassy of the kingdom of Bahrain, a Saudi vassal monarchy, in London.

This 7 August 2019 British TV video says about itself:

Police break down door of Bahrain Embassy in UK after roof protester ‘threatened’

Moosa Mohammed was so keen to protest the imminent execution of two men in Bahrain last month that he climbed onto the roof of the Bahraini embassy in London to unfurl a banner.

Then, as other protestors and police watched from below, the embassy staff appeared to struggle with him. In an unprecedented move police broke in and arrested him. He claims the Bahrainis threatened his life … Mr Mohammed has spoken to our Senior Home Affairs Correspondent Simon Israel who has been investigating what really happened.

London house sparrows in trouble

This 3 March 2019 video from England is called Feeding House Sparrows – London – I do this every day – Passer domesticus.

From the Zoological Society of London in England:

Avian malaria behind drastic decline of London’s iconic sparrow?

July 16, 2019

London’s house sparrows (Passer domesticus) have plummeted by 71% since 1995, with new research suggesting avian malaria could be to blame.

Once ubiquitous across the capital city, the sudden, and unexplained decline of the iconic birds led a team from ZSL (Zoological Society of London), the RSPB, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the University of Liverpool to investigate if parasite infections were involved.

Researchers collected data between November 2006 and September 2009 at 11 sites across London. Each site was centred around a single breeding colony and spaced at least four kilometres apart to ensure that birds from different groups didn’t mix. The team estimated changes in bird numbers by counting the mature males and took tiny blood and faecal samples from sparrows, carefully caught and soon released, to monitor infection rates and severity.

Of the 11 colonies studied, seven were declining. On average 74% of sparrows carried avian malaria — a strain that only affects birds — but this differed between groups with some as high as 100%. However, it was infection intensity (i.e. the number of parasites per bird) that varied significantly and was higher on average in the declining colonies.

Former ZSL Institute of Zoology researcher and lead author Dr Daria Dadam, now of the BTO, said: “Parasite infections are known to cause wildlife declines elsewhere and our study indicates that this may be happening with the house sparrow in London. We tested for a number of parasites, but only Plasmodium relictum, the parasite that causes avian malaria, was associated with reducing bird numbers.”

Professor Andrew Cunningham, Deputy Director of Science at ZSL said: “Although we found that nearly all sparrows carry Plasmodium, there was no association between the number of carriers and local sparrow population growth. Infection intensity, however, was significantly higher in young birds in the declining populations with fewer of the sparrows monitored in those groups surviving from year to year.”

The malaria strains the study identified are widespread and infect multiple bird species. They are, therefore, likely to have been native to the UK, and to house sparrows, long before their numbers started to fall. The parasite is spread by mosquitoes, which transfer it when they bite to feed. It has been suggested that avian malaria will become more common across Northern Europe due to climate change as higher temperatures and wetter weather favour mosquito reproduction, and more mosquitoes will help the disease to spread. Researchers think this could be behind the sudden change.

Dr Will Peach, Head of Research Delivery at RSPB said: “House sparrow populations have declined in many towns and cities across Europe since the 1980s. This new research suggests that avian malaria may be implicated in the loss of house sparrows across London. Exactly how the infection may be affecting the birds is unknown. Maybe warmer temperatures are increasing mosquito numbers, or the parasite has become more virulent.”

ZSL works to protect wildlife health and understand how animal diseases spread between populations and habitats. Diseases, like avian malaria, are a significant cause of wildlife decline, a direct threat to a number of endangered species and can infect domestic animals too. Only by understanding the mechanisms of infection and the effect that these diseases have can we can put in place strategies to mitigate them.

House sparrows

House sparrows (Passer domesticus) are small, grey-brown birds native to much of Europe and Asia but now widely introduced elsewhere. They are opportunistic feeders and found in a range of habitats, often living closely with people. House sparrows were once one of the most abundant birds in the UK, but their numbers have fallen drastically. Their current UK population is estimated to be 5,300,000 breeding pairs.

Avian malaria

Avian malaria is most commonly caused by a parasite called Plasmodium relictum. In a similar way to human malaria, it is spread only by mosquitoes which transfer the parasite to healthy birds when they feed. The parasite reproduces in red blood cells and other tissues, and in severe cases can be fatal. Avian malaria is not a danger to people.

Hyenas’ undeserved bad reputation

This 15 July 2019 video from England says about itself:

Who’s laughing now? | Natural History Museum

Hyenas don’t have a great reputation, but have they just been misrepresented?

Museum scientist Dr Natalie Cooper explains some of the reasons why these amazing animals deserve a little more love.

The Natural History Museum in London is home to over 80 million specimens, including meteorites, dinosaur bones and a giant squid.

London Grenfell disaster survivors speak

This 15 June 2019 video from London, England says about itself:

Stormzy joins thousands on silent walk to remember Grenfell victims

Wearing a green scarf, like many others who gathered in west London near the burned-out building, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and rapper Stormzy joined mourners in a silent memorial walk.

Shortly before 1am on June 14, 2017, a small fire broke out in a kitchen in the Kensington high-rise block and became an inferno which claimed the lives of 72 people. The world watched in horror as the blaze engulfed the building with terrifying speed and spread to all four sides in just minutes – in what became the most deadly domestic blaze since the Second World War. For just over a year the building has stood surrounded by white sheeting, with the words ‘Grenfell forever in our hearts’ emblazoned across the four highest floors.

From the World Socialist Web Site in London, England:

“Everyone is fighting for justice, not only for the people for Grenfell Tower, but all the people around the world

Family members and supporters of Grenfell fire victims speak to the WSWS

By our reporters

17 June 2019

Socialist Equality Party (UK) members and WSWS reporters attended a number of public events over the weekend marking the second anniversary of the June 14, 2017 Grenfell Tower inferno, in which 72 people died. …

SEP members distributed hundreds of copies of its statement produced for the second anniversary, “Two years since the Grenfell inferno: The case for socialism,” as well as many copies of an article demanding the release from prison of respected local resident and campaigner for justice for the victims of the fire, Reis Morris.

Many people spoke of their sympathy for the plight of Reis—who lost family and friends in the fire and who had to spend the second anniversary behind bars—after he confronted a Grenfell site manager for ignoring his complaints. Many people told WSWS reporters that it was wrong that Reis had been imprisoned while those in political and corporate circles, who are responsible for the Grenfell inferno, were still at large.

At the Solidarity March for Grenfell held on Saturday, World Socialist Web Site reporters spoke to Hamid Ali Jafari, the son of Ali Yawar Jafari, who lived on the 11th floor of Grenfell, and perished in the fire. Hamid was attending the event with his son.

“For me it’s not two years, it’s like it was yesterday,” Hamid explained. “For me I can see the community and the people, and everyone coming together. They give us support.”

Hamid (right) and his son with a photo of his father, Ali Yawar Jafari

Hamid explained that his father moved to the UK in 2003. “We came from Afghanistan, and my dad was a retired jeweller. We had lived in the tower for years. I used to live with them, but after I got married, we moved. At the time of the fire my mum, my dad and two sisters were living there.

“We had no idea before the fire that things were wrong. We thought that the people who make decisions were doing something right. We are not the politicians; we are not the scientists. The only problem was when we realised that when we had the boiler installed, we could not get access properly to the entrance to the flat.”

Hamid said, “We had no idea we were living somewhere so dangerous. If we had, we would not have let anyone die.”

He expressed the frustration of all the bereaved Grenfell families that they have still not been given answers as to why their loved ones perished and who is responsible. “A few months ago, we met [Prime Minister] Theresa May in Parliament, and my question was, we need closure, we don’t have to wait 25 years, we need something to be done, we need a result about why this happened, and who has done it.

“They [the government] say they will do their best, but say it depends on the public inquiry. Even this last Monday we met [Home Secretary] Sajid Javid in Parliament with [bereaved family’s group] Grenfell United, and everyone is demanding change. They [the government] just promise, but their promises have never been met, so let’s see.”

Hamid said, “That makes you upset, because I read in the newspaper last year that there was fire in a hotel in [wealthy] Knightsbridge. It was a five-star hotel, so they spend a hundred million pounds and they refurbished and reopened it.

“My question is: Grenfell Tower after two years, what have they done to it? They have only covered it [the exterior] up, so they show to the world that ‘we are doing something.’

“They spent £100 million on that five-star hotel. What have they spent on Grenfell Tower? This kind of things makes you upset. We are fighting for justice; I don’t know how long it will take.

“With the help of [the SEP] and the community, I think we will get justice. It might take time, but we have patience, we have waited two years. We keep our anger with us. Let’s see, we have hopes, we will fight for them.”

Asked his thoughts on the fact that so many people in Britain and around the world live in unsafe buildings, Hamid said, “That’s why we are demanding justice, not only for people who were lost. We don’t want other people to be sleeping where there is dangerous cladding blocks. As a government they have promised it and they have got the money to remove the cladding, but they haven’t done it yet.

“That’s why I think everyone is fighting for justice, not only for the people of Grenfell Tower, but all the people around the world. Either they are living in social housing, or they go to hospitals, schools, nurseries [covered with flammable cladding].”

Belgis Idriss

Among those who came to the SEP stall during Friday evening’s commemorations was local resident Belgis Idriss.

Still distraught and angry after the passing of two years, Belgis said, “There was 11 children lost in the tower from my son’s school, including the nursery teacher and her kids. But what surprises me is that we only hear loud voices from up on high, but no one wants to see the truth. No one wants to sit down and hear the truth, hear our pain. All we get is people coming here and saying we want to do this project, art therapy. Which art therapy? We do not need art therapy, we need the truth.

“We do not need flowers because they do not have a grave. Where are we going to put the flowers? All those people are still here around in the air, and it’s them that need the truth. They need justice. No one needs flowers and no one needs music and no one needs art therapy. We can only get the truth by the people fighting together under one word, justice.

“All the victims that are still alive know what happened to them was not human, and if all Europe said after the Second World War ‘never again’ then we must make this government say ‘never again’ can we have a crime like this. But to do that they must put the criminals responsible for this in prison.”

Linda Taylor

London resident Linda Taylor attended the Solidarity March for Grenfell held on Saturday.

She said, “Kensington and Chelsea is such a rich borough and they [the Conservative council] saved money on the cladding they used without any checking. Really, they did it to look nice for the rich people around there. It wasn’t for the people inside. It wasn’t helping them very much. They could’ve done a better job insulating their homes, giving decent sprinklers. There’ve been fires before in Grenfell that hadn’t spread the way that this did, but the cladding caused it, and nobody has been held accountable.”

She explained that in parliament the previous week, a debate was held on Grenfell “and only 14 MPs turned up, out of 600 of them. They’re not interested because they’ve got friends who’ve got property investments. … They’re not worried about making people they represent safe in decent homes. Look at our streets covered in homeless people. You only have to look at [former Conservative London Mayor and leading contender to replace Theresa May as prime minister] Boris Johnson selling a fire station and turning it into luxury flats, this sums up the whole situation. And to blame the fire service for not doing what they should’ve done is ridiculous, because they’re being cut and cut.”

A Westminster coroner’s court inquest heard that Grenfell fire campaigner, Amanda Beckles, had committed suicide. The coroner, Dr. Fiona Wilcox, gave the cause of death of the 51-year old woman as asphyxia. Amanda lived just 300 metres from the Grenfell Tower block and witnessed the devastating fire on June 14, 2017, in which 72 people died: here.