Hurricane Ophelia disaster in Ireland, Britain

This video says about itself:

Three dead and 360,000 properties without power as Storm Ophelia hits Ireland

16 October 2017

At least three people have been killed by storm Ophelia in Ireland. It also left hundreds of thousands of houses and businesses without power.

Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips reports from the northwest coast of Ireland.

By Margot Miller:

Hurricane Ophelia’s tail hits Ireland and UK

17 October 2017

The Republic of Ireland and large parts of the UK were battered by the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia Monday.

Strong winds led to extensive damage and three fatalities. While Ireland was the worst affected, the storm also hit West Wales, Scotland, south west England and the north of England.

A woman in her fifties died when a tree landed on her car in West Waterford, while her companion, a woman in her seventies, was hospitalised. A downed tree crushed a car, claiming the male driver, in Ravensdale, Dundalk. A 30-year-old man died in a chainsaw accident in Cahir, Co Tipperary, while attempting to remove a tree felled by the storm. Another man narrowly escaped with his life when a tree fell on his car in Midleton.

As the storm made its way northeast, winds left 360,000 homes and businesses without power in the Republic of Ireland. Power was also lost to thousands of homes in Northern Ireland—18,000 affected—and Wales. Tens of thousands remained without electricity during Monday evening. Full power for all is not expected to be restored for all for at least ten days.

Winds reached 95 mph in many places and up to 109 mph in Fastnet Rock.

Waves as high as 27 feet were reported at sea in the south of Ireland. Winds ripped the roofs off many buildings and uprooted trees. A gust tore the roof from Douglas Community School, while the soccer stadium in nearby Cork, which was hit by gusts of up to 105 mph, had its roof blown off and was badly damaged.

The Guardai (Irish Police) advised people to stay indoors and refrain from travelling for their own safety. The Fine-Gael minority government ordered 1,000 troops on standby.

During the evening, police in Carrickfergus had to evacuate residents, who were at risk of flooding, due to tidal surges. They were taken to a local council hall to stay the night.

Met Eireann issued a “status red alert” ahead of the ex-Hurricane’s landing, which despite being downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone was potentially life threatening due to flying roof tiles and debris, falling trees and high seas, with waves pounding the coastline.

The Met Office, the UK’s national weather service, warned that the storm, which originated in the Atlantic as a Category 1 hurricane, was a potential danger to life. It issued a yellow warning of extreme winds in the West of Scotland, the North of England and Wales.

In west Wales, winds reached 90 mph in Aberdaron. Four thousand properties were without power in Camarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Powys.

Southwest Scotland was hit by winds of 80 mph during Monday evening and the heavily populated central belt, including Glasgow, faced 60 mph gusts. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency issued a series of flood alerts, while parts of England also braced themselves for flooding, with three flood warnings issued.

All schools and colleges in the Republic of Ireland closed their doors Monday and will remain closed Tuesday until the worst of the storm is over. Some head teachers berated the authorities for not informing them earlier about the closures—many had to contact parents and pupils late on Sunday night.

As a precaution, 80 schools in West Wales were shut, as well as all 48 on the Isle of Anglesey.

Due to the severe weather, all trains, ferries, buses and trams stopped running in Ireland, while Ryanair, Aer Lingus, British Airways, Qatar Airlines, Air France, City Jet, Emirates and KLM grounded flights in and out of Dublin airport. Passengers were told to check their flights from Belfast airport while Manchester airport in northwest England cancelled 20 flights. Edinburgh Airport cancelled all flights to Ireland.

Former US President Bill Clinton was forced to cancel his planned visit to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, to discuss the ongoing crisis in which there has been no functioning devolved government for nine months. Stormont suffered a power outage due to the storm.

The famous Peace Bridge across the River Foyle in Londonderry was closed as a precaution.

Debris strewn everywhere is expected to cause major public safety problems for days to come. According to Travelwatch NI, by 6 p.m., 179 trees/branches had fallen, causing chaos on roads. Several trees were brought down near to each other making roads impassable.

Five flights to UK airports were forced to make emergency landings, reporting mysterious “smoke smells” in cockpits that were thought to be linked to the remnants of the hurricane.

Many parts of the UK experienced eerie sepia light. Other areas reported “sunset at midday” as the sun glowed red in the sky due to particles of dust from the Sahara and debris from the wildfires in Portugal and Spain sucked over by Hurricane Ophelia.

Hurricane Ophelia was the worst storm to hit Ireland in 50 years. Extreme weather is hitting more parts of the world, with increasing frequency and ferocity, due to global warming. At least 27 people have been killed this week in the hundreds of wildfires in Portugal, leading to a state of emergency being declared in an area amounting to half of the country.

As with the hurricanes which have devastated large parts of the United States and Caribbean in recent months, evidence points to the fact that the Irish government did little to ensure public safety and prepare for what was known well in advance to be a massive storm.

Eugene Murphy, the flood relief spokesman of Ireland’s other main party, Fianna Fáil, seeking to score political points, noted that the National Emergency Coordination Committee met on Sunday. But all local authorities, civil defence and emergency services “were not put on stand-by. … Hurricane Ophelia is due to be the worst storm to hit this country in over a decade, but we have less than 24 hours to prepare for it.”

According to Dr. Dann Mitchell of the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol, “There is evidence that hurricane-force storms hitting the UK, like Ophelia, will be enhanced in the future due to human-induced climate change.

“While tropical hurricanes lose strength when they travel north, they can re-intensify due to the nature of the atmospheric circulation at UK latitudes. It is the rise in temperatures over most of the Atlantic that is a primary driver of this, a clear signature of human-induced climate change.”

Writing in the Guardian, Environment Editor Damian Carrington said, “An increase in hurricane-force winds wreaking havoc across the Britain and Ireland is entirely consistent with global warming, according to scientists.” Higher temperatures create “more energy in the climate system, especially in the oceans, which is where big storms derive their energy from.”

A report commissioned in May by the Association of British Insurers (ABI)—carried out by the Consultancy firm Air Worldwide in conjunction with the UK Met Office—warned of the disastrous consequences of even a minimal increase in global warming by 1.5º C. The ABI called for action to reinforce buildings to withstand damage from wind destruction, which the report projects would likely increase by over 50 percent across the UK.

A 2,000-page report produced over three years by 80 experts for the Committee on Climate Change found the UK completely unprepared for the effects of global warming—which could see deadly heatwaves with temperatures in the high 30º C and up to 48º C in London, more flooding and water shortages.

The indifference of the ruling elite to the safety and wellbeing of the population was demonstrated by Theresa May on becoming prime minster last year. One of her first acts was the abolition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Republic of Ireland: Storm clean-up under way, 245k homes and businesses still without power. … Around 20,000 households are without water: here.


New racist political party in Britain

This video from Britain says about itself:

Anne Marie Waters is being used by BNP Nick Griffin boy to take over UKIP

2 July 2017

Strong evidence: Racism of Anne Marie Waters’ campaign team, Jack Buckby, George Llewelyn-John, Annie Fotiou. (Report by Jessica Stevens of BuckbyWatch).

Ms Waters’ campaign to take over UKIP failed. Then, she quit and founded her own party.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

New For Britain party rings alarms bells for anti-racists

Monday 16th October 2017

ANTI-RACISTS condemned the formation of a new far-right party yesterday led by a defeated Ukip leadership candidate.

Campaign group Stand Up to Racism warned that the new For Britain party, set up by Anne Marie Waters, is dangerous and reminiscent of the fascist British National Party.

Ms Waters stood for the Ukip leadership contest last month with a clear racist, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant agenda.

She lost out to former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Henry Bolton and consequently Ms Waters quit Ukip.

Her new party has been set up with former leader of the fascist English Defence League (EDL) and convicted racist Tommy Robinson.

Stand Up to Racism co-convener Sabby Dhalu said: “Much of what For Britain stands for is reminiscent of the fascist BNP.

“For Britain claims ‘the rights of British citizens should be placed above those of non-British people’.”

Former BNP activist Jack Buckby, who stood in the Batley & Spen by-election following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by a fascist last year, is also involved in For Britain. He stood as a candidate for far-right Liberty GB; the major parties did not put up candidates against Labour as a mark of respect.

Mr Buckby received a derisory 220 votes, compared to successful Labour candidate Tracy Brabin’s 17,506.

“Waters and Buckby are hard-right racists who need monitoring and their poison defeated,” said Ms Dhalu.

In 2014 Ms Waters launched the organisation Sharia Watch, which claims to investigate the “criminal and political” elements of sharia law.

Ms Waters, who was born and educated in Dublin, is open about her anti-Islamic hatred, having condemned the religion as “evil.” She has also called for a freeze on immigration.

For Britain professes to “truly represent the interests of the forgotten people of Britain.” However, Hope Not Hate head of research Matthew Collins described the new party as “the worst extremes of Ukip” coupled with the EDL.

He told the Star: “The party had problems before it even started. Many of the people around it are too extreme for Ukip, including Waters.

“If it’s rejected by Ukip supporters then what’s left? They may have some support on social media, but this is unlikely to translate into the ballot box.”

Badgers in the Netherlands and Britain

This 2012 video from the Netherlands is called A family of Badgers (Meles meles) on their badger sett.

Dutch Vroege Vogels radio reports that this year a young male badger has reached the Naardermeer; a new species for this nature reserve.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

More badgers face death sentence

Friday 29th September 2017

PETER FROST is exasperated by how the government keeps ignoring scientific evidence in order to propagate a solution to bovine TB that is as illusory as it is damaging to the environment

Last autumn the number of one of our most fascinating wild mammals shot in the controversial badger cull soared to more than 10,800.

Tory ministers, and some of their rich farmer pals, claimed the result as a success but the vast majority of leading scientists said there was no basis for suggesting the cull was effective.

It was clear that the badgers were being used as scapegoats for failures in the intensive livestock industry.

Ten culls took place across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Somerset.

Half the badgers killed in 2016 were shot without first being trapped — a method rejected as inhumane by the British Veterinary Association.

This year badger culling has just begun in 21 areas across England including 11 new areas in Devon, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset and Cheshire and could see up to 33,000 badgers killed.

Justin Madders, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, criticised the expansion of the scheme. “This week the government announced a badger cull in Cheshire,” he said.

Scientific evidence is that a vaccination programme would be far more effective yet the government insists on carrying out this cruel and barbaric practice contrary to the science.”

Cheshire East Council said it would ban culling on land it directly controlled but it would not be able to prevent culling taking place on land that it rented to tenants, including farmers.

TB in cattle is certainly a serious problem for some farmers in England, but an earlier 10-year trial of badger culling found it could make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain.

However, Tory environment minister Michael Gove, farming minister George Eustice and their teams remain adamant that culling will help to cut TB.

Almost all scientists, however, have said the badger cull is not working and is very unlikely ever to work. Indeed many scientists think the cull could even make matters worse.

Gove is a firm supporter of continuing the cull despite the best expert opinion. For example badger expert Prof Rosie Woodroffe from the Zoological Society of London told the Guardian: “There is no basis for drawing any conclusions about the effectiveness of culling.”

For culling to work over 70 per cent of badgers in an area must be killed. Otherwise the disturbed remaining populations will range more widely and spread the disease further. Why then are some culling targets being set as low as 50 per cent?

“This means that there is really no way to tell what reduction in badger numbers was achieved by these culls,” said Woodroffe.

“Culling that was consistently ineffective would look like a low badger density and prompt a reduced target. I would therefore consider the conclusion to be based on extremely shaky evidence.”

Even a government independent panel set up to make an assessment of the first year of culling found it was neither effective nor humane. Gove and Andrea Leadsom, minister of state at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, know how to deal with expert panels who give unwelcome if accurate advice — they simply shut the panel down.

The two years of data accumulated since the cull started in 2013 shows clearly that the culls have not cut TB.

Now ignoring all results and advice Gove and the government have embarked upon a widespread expanded badger cull.

Campaigners against the cull say the policy will have no impact on bovine TB and could lead to local populations of badgers being wiped out.

Claire Bass, director of the UK Branch of Humane Society International said: “Badger culling is a costly distraction from the real solution to TB in cattle. It’s a disease of cattle, primarily spread by cattle, and it’s cattle-focused control measures that will stop it. But the government has sanctioned large-scale ‘badgercide’.”

Dominic Dyer, head of the Badger Trust, concurs: “Not only is the badger cull a disastrous failure on scientific and animal welfare grounds, it is also becoming an unacceptable burden on the taxpayer.”

Latest estimates suggest that the cost of culling a single badger is an incredible £6,775.

This figure does not include policing costs, which have been estimated at £500,000 per area per year and include:

– Over £300,000 for costs related to licensing the cull

– £750,000 for sett monitoring n £17,000 for independent panel to monitor the cull

– £700,000 estimated costs for humaneness monitoring

– £750,000 for carrying out post mortems on badgers.

This is an almost exclusively English cull. Scotland is classified as free of TB. The Welsh Assembly government has chosen to vaccinate badgers with trials underway in North Pembrokeshire.

Northern Ireland is conducting research into an eradication programme involving vaccination and selected culling.

There is a vaccine for badgers — the BCG jab, which has been used by a number of wildlife and conservation bodies in England, including the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, the RSPB, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the National Trust.

Now Andrea Leadsom has told Parliament that not only is there a world shortage of the vaccine but it is also becoming too expensive to use, nevertheless, vaccination continues in Wales and the Republic of Ireland, and there are further plans to introduce it in Northern Ireland.

Cattle can also be vaccinated with the BCG vaccine although it is currently prohibited by EU legislation, mainly because BCG can interfere with the tuberculin skin test, the main diagnostic test for TB.

Let’s leave the final words to Dyer who told the Morning Star: “We could kill every badger in England but bovine TB would continue to spread in cattle herds due to inaccurate TB testing, excessive numbers of cattle movements and poor bio-security controls.

“The badger is being used as a scapegoat for failures in the modern intensive livestock industry that have led to a significant increase in bovine TB.

“No credible scientist has ever suggested that culling badgers will make any significant impact on lowering TB in cattle and there is now clear evidence the policy is failing badly. The government is simply imposing its will in an act of political aggression against both science and the will of the people.”

After Grenfell Tower, more British fire hazards

This 2016 video is called How Do Fire Sprinklers Know There’s A Fire?

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

Just 2% of socially owned tower blocks have sprinklers

Thursday 14th September 2017

JUST ONE in 50 socially owned tower blocks are fully fitted with sprinklers, an investigation published yesterday has revealed.

And seven in 10 blocks have only one staircase for evacuation, according to the shock results of a BBC Breakfast probe covering half of Britain’s council and housing association-owned towers.

After the disaster at Grenfell Tower, which did not have sprinklers, ministers said they might retrofit sprinklers to blocks depending on the findings of the public inquiry into the fire.

It was made compulsory in England in 2007 for sprinklers to be fitted to all new high rises over 30m tall.

London Fire Brigade commissioner Dany Cotton said: “I support retrofitting. For me, where you can save one life, then it’s worth doing.”

The Grenfell inquiry will look at the fire’s causes, the adequacy of regulations, the building’s refurbishment last year and the actions of the public authorities before and after the incident. The first hearing is being held today and an initial report is due by Easter.

Grenfell survivor Edward Daffarn, who escaped from the 16th floor, criticised the council for its gentrification of the area, saying: “North Kensington was like a gold mine, only they didn’t have to dig for the gold.

“All they had to do was to marginalise the people who were living here, and that’s what they were doing.”

The head of the body responsible for running Grenfell Tower is still receiving his full salary despite quitting after the disaster.

Robert Black continues to draw a six-figure salary from the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, supposedly for helping it respond to multiple investigations.

Justice4Grenfell campaign co-ordinator Yvette Williams said the continued salary was “ludicrous and outrageous.”

Jewish British poet Michael Rosen’s memoirs

This video from Britain says about itself:

Compilation from – A Great Big Cuddle – Kids’ Poems and Stories With Michael Rosen

8 September 2017

Here is a compilation video of me performing poems from my book, ‘A Great Big Cuddle – Poems For The Very Young’, with pictures by Chris Riddell, published by Walker Books.

Michael Rosen

Video directed by Joe Rosen. Go behind the scenes and see how it was made: here.

By Gordon Parsons in Britain:

Memoirs of a ‘nothing’ who became a much-loved figure

Monday 11th September 2011

So They Call you Pisher!

by Michael Rosen

(Verso, £16.99)

MICHAEL ROSEN is known to numberless children as a marvellously entertaining performer of his own poetry, to grown-ups as a regular broadcaster on BBC language programmes and to Guardian readers as the regular writer of Letter from a Curious Parent, which reveals the crass and destructive policies that the government imposes on the education system.

This hugely engaging memoir excavates the theatre of the mind and memory both as a search for identity and a way of expressing his deeply affectionate but ambiguous feelings for his own father who, unlike his mum, he calls Harold throughout.

Michael’s parents, Harold and Connie Rosen — both prominent educationists — came from a working-class, secular Jewish background.

They were committed socialists and, during most of Rosen’s early life, members of the Communist Party.

The final chapter of the book details Rosen’s extensive efforts to trace all the uncles, aunts and their children who were among the great “disappeared” in nazi Europe, people that Harold had been strangely reluctant to show or communicate interest in.

Rosen tells his father posthumously that he is using the education his aspiring parents had worked so determinedly to give him because “I didn’t want the nazis to be successful in disappearing” his unknown family and his and Harold’s human heritage.

The Yiddish term pisher, Rosen tells us, means “a pissy little person, a nothing” and he emerges from this feast of detailed memories from childhood and through schools and university as a person always ready to defy the arrogance, pomposity and smug self-confidence of authority.

He marries an insatiable curiosity with a writing style which distances his present self from his memories — “being in the moment and outside it” — making them all the more vivid. His anarchic humour, which is the hallmark of his children’s poetry, threads throughout.

In his Oxford final English literature examination he painted on the back of the obligatory academic gown “Hell’s Angels. Jeff Chaucer.”

There is a wealth of historical observation in Rosen’s childhood and adolescent memories — summer camp in East Germany, the 1968 student turmoil, CND demos — and the man who grows through these formative times emerges as a benevolent and warm-hearted human being.

His father would be proud of him.

British military links to dictatorships

This video says about itself:

26 August 2017

There are calls for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen to be blacklisted.

Yemen is being pounded on an almost daily basis from air and land. The latest attack came on Friday when a Saudi-led coalition air strike hit a residential area, killing at least 14 people including five children.

On Wednesday, a hotel north of the capital Sanaa, was also hit. Forty-one people [other estimates are higher] were killed and many more injured.

The Saudi block said those it killed were militants.

But the UN disputes that and wants an impartial investigation into these strikes. Amnesty International says the coalition ‘rained down bombs on civilians while they slept’. And the International Committee of the Red Cross condemned the latest raid as ‘outrageous’.

What’s the international community doing about this continuing carnage?

Presenter: Adrian Finighan


Nigel Timmins, Humanitarian director for Oxfam
Afshin Shahi, Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Bradford.
Adam Baron, visiting fellow for the European Council on Foreign RelationsMiddle East and North Africa Programme

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Red Arrows to tour despotic states

Tuesday 29th August 2017

THE Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows will tour the Middle East next month as part of a PR exercise, the Ministry of Defence announced yesterday.

They will perform displays in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, supposedly reviewing the campaign to defeat Isis, said the Red Arrows displays would promote Britain’s longstanding relations across the Gulf.

Mr Fallon said Kuwait was a “vital partner” and he wanted to carry out more frequent joint exercises.

The MoD said the tour would show that Britain was “open for business” and highlight the links with British armed forces in each nation.

Britain has licensed £3.3 billion of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia since it began bombing Yemen in March 2015, as well as to 20 of the 30 countries on its own list of human rights abusers.

The DSEI arms fair will take place in London next month with some of the world’s most despotic regimes in attendance.

War Crimes: Saudi Arabia Should Pay the Penalty for Catastrophe in Yemen: here.