Thursday, July 04, 2002

I know I said I was gone, but I can't go off without pointing out todays Mark Steel Independent column on the US bombing of an Afhan wedding. When Bart Simpson Goes To War .

".......I can see how, when you're flying at 20,000 feet, a bloke on the ground with a 50-year-old rifle could make you jumpy. These things have a range of over 80 yards so with a ricochet-or-two they could have your eye out."
That's me done now 'till next Friday, unless I can blag PC access during the coming week. I'm off to Marxism at ULU with my sweetie, who's over from NL. He's bringing me a Palestinian flag. Romance is not dead....


Well, it's been a few days since I updated the blog - sorry about this, but I've been involved with the public meeting on on nuclear safety with John Large , an independent nuclear engineering consultant whose company helped Russia salvage the submarine Kursk.

If you read my earlier post re DEVPUBSAFE and my comment 'We're all going to die' - well after hearing what John had to say, I regret that flippancy. I should have been a lot more vehement.

OK, there's 11 Trident nuclear subs here for refit(including the one Gibraltar kicked out because it had a containment fault and was leaking). 11 separate nuclear reactors, plus large numbers of nuclear war heads, plus containerised nuclear waste. They are at Devonport Dockyard, slap bang in the middle of a city of 270,000 people.

The area around the Dockyard, showing high-density housing

The area around the Dockyard, showing high-density housing.

Even a very minor breach of a reactor container on a sub would affect people within a 2km radius... DEVPUBSAFE allows for a 550m radius. Co-incidentally this is the average radius of the Dockyard.

Most likely to be affected in a minor accident are children. There is a primary school 440 m from the Dockyard. I've been told by a local NUT rep that teachers have been ordered that if there is an incident, they must lock the doors and not let any parents in or children out. DEVPUBSAFE says "Don’t try to collect children from school. Their teachers will make sure that they are looked after." If your children were in danger from by a nuclear accident, would a locked door stop *you*?

A major incident, ie a total hull breach, fire/explosion and leakage of fissionable material, could potentailly affect an area of 50km circumference. That's Devon, Cornwall, and Dorset.

Responsibility for any emergency response to any such incident lies with the City Council and local authorities. Total budget for such emergency plans? £10,000. Words fail me.

DML, the subsidiary that runs the Dockyard and Trident refitting facilities, is deeply embedded in the life of the city. DML is owned by Brown & Root, a subsidiary of the giant multinational Halliburton Inc., which has close links to both Cheney and Bush .

Until July 25 2000 it employed Dick Cheney as chairman of its executive board and CEO. Cheney has used his association with Halliburton and Brown & Root to enrich himself and gain political power. Halliburton gave Cheney a retirement package worth more than $33.7 million. That came on top of more than $10 million Cheney has earned in salary, bonuses, and stock options at Halliburton since 1995. In return for his pay, Cheney has helped the company attract US and UK government contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

So what this boils down to, yet again, is the pursuit of profit at the expense of people. A true picture of the safety issues at the Dockyard would horrify the public, with a consequent effect on share value.

Halliburton has been fined over $1 billion for safety incidents at nuclear facilities it controls. That nuclear emergency response budget again? £10,000.

Sunday, June 30, 2002


The US Supreme Court has upheld a law which allows Housing authorities to evict tenants if any guest or relative uses drugs, REGARDLESS of whether the tenant had any knowledge of the actvity.

The legislation passed by Congress is known as the 'First Strike' law, and was intended to cut down down on drug-related actvity in public housing projects.

From the Christian Science Monitor:-

Washington public- housing resident Joyce Lewis packs up after being evicted for her teenage grandson's drug possession.

Picture copyright EVAN VUCCI, AP

This has got to be one of the crueler side-effects of Bush's so-called 'War' on drugs.

Will the grandparents of Congressional offspring lose comfy retirement homes, due to their offsprings' anti-social behaviour? Given that the Bush Family live in public housing, does this mean they're outta there?

After all, the Bush girls, not to mention other relatives, are hardly strangers to substance abuse...

The real crime in America is to be poor - poverty is Un-American. Woe betide you if, to take your mind off your poverty, you take something to get you through and ameliorate your misery... then you'll lose everything, as will your family. If you're Dubya's niece, however, taking drugs will just get you a $51.25 fine and a cameo in 'Friends'.

"Children needs a heart of love. I know. I are one," said George W. Bush. When told the teenager involved was his daughter, Jenna, a bewildered Bush said, "Jenna..which one's that? That Yale one or.. the wild..or.. didn't she have her kidney removed? Or.. is there a third one? Wait.." NOT The White House