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The root cause of almost all our problems? Contemptible establishment arrogance

jehangir 2The late great journalist, Jehangir Pocha (right), wrote in an email: “Capitalistic and traditional societies are just not desirous of universal progress. This outright rejection of people by the wider berth of society is the root cause of almost all our problems. In India it is caste, and abroad it is class, isn’t it? !”

Felicity Arbuthnot also refers to this contemptuous rejection of the public interest by the 1% as voiced by Peter Jay, formerly Chief of Staff to Robert Maxwell.

“From today’s performance on BBC Wales, it’s clear that Peter Jay has now become very righteous and correct. He said that only ‘shits’ would want to publish the whole truth on the Bush-Blair correspondence that led to the Iraq War and the deaths of 179 UK soldiers. Is this how diplomats communicate? The loved ones of the fallen had no right to hear the whole truth, Jay explained. Protocol between the UK and USA was a higher priority. His is the authentic voice of yesterday’s contemptible establishment arrogance telling the lower orders ‘ Yours not to reason why. Yours, but to do and die.’”

tony blair foiBlair reneged on the Freedom of Information Act which, he initially said, would ‘signal a new relationship between government and people: a relationship which sees the public as legitimate stakeholders in the running of the country.’ Felicity continues:

“What a long time thirteen years is in politics and after an invasion or two. In his autobiography “A Journey”, published in 2010 he writes: “Freedom of Information Act. Three harmless words. I look at those words as I write them, and feel like shaking my head ’til it drops off. You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop. There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it . . . Scandals will happen … The problem with FOI is that it can be used to expose them.”

She comments: “Scandals don’t get much bigger than embarking on an illegal war, destruction of the “Cradle of Civilisation”, manufactured on a pack of lies”.

foi cartoon

This contemptuous rejection of the public interest by the 1% is more widely perceived than ever before – how can these decision-makers be replaced, and by whom?

US government legalises drone technology for commercial purposes as well as illegal slaughter

The leader of the ‘free world’ insists drones are safe, despite 400 major accidents, and governments salivate as the drone industry, which lobbied Congress to pass the new law, predicts $82 billions in ‘economic benefits’ and 100,000 new jobs by 2025.

Two crashes were recorded at the Seychelles International Airport

Two crashes were recorded at the Seychelles International Airport

Mark Shapiro draws our attention to news of more than 50,000 pages of accident investigation reports and other records obtained by the Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act. The link he sent led to other information, including a detailed 2012 Business Mega account. Documents obtained by the Post detail scores of previously unreported crashes involving remotely controlled aircraft, challenge the federal government’s assurances that drones will be able to fly safely over populated areas and in the same airspace as passenger planes.

Under the 2012 law passed by Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration is to issue rules by September 2015 allowing commercial drone flights drones in civilian airspace. There is a wide demand:

  • Law enforcement agencies already own a small number of camera-equipped drones,
  • Businesses see profitable possibilities for drones, to tend crops, move cargo, inspect real estate or film Hollywood movies.
  • Journalists have applied for drone licenses to cover the news.
  • chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos (who owns the Washington Post) wants his company to use autonomous drones to deliver small packages to customers’ doorsteps.

Disrupted by smart phones?

An Australian triathlete was injured after a (non-military) drone crash in April. She and spectators said the UAV crashed into her but the drone’s owner said she was merely startled. Someone else in the crowd of spectators had briefly taken control of the drone. The cameraman said it would be difficult to find out who had done this, because smartphones could easily be used to carry out such an attack.

This is another immature technology. Nuclear systems were installed well before there was any appreciation of the problem of long-lived toxic waste and research scientists were deceived into thinking they were devising a clean and cheap energy source. The most principled left the industry when they learnt that their brainchild was to be used to make highly lethal and toxic weapons.

Read more here:


Lockheed Martin, BNFL, Serco consortium & defence ministers seriously ‘limited disclosure’ of risk and damage to nuclear warhead site

Lecture venue: Birmingham and Midlands Institute 23rd June – 7pm

Lecture venue: Birmingham and Midlands Institute 23rd June – 7pm

Some online reading was prompted by the news that Chris Crean, regional campaigner for Friends of the Earth, is to give the Diana Stableforth Memorial Lecture on 23rd June. Its title is THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

One story held the attention:

Six years ago at the Atomic Weapons Establishment site at Burghfield in Berkshire, which is run for the Ministry of Defence by a private company, AWE-ML, a consortium of Lockheed Martin, BNFL and Serco, floods disabled key radiation alarm systems.

Parts of the factory came “within 2 to 3 hours” of being overwhelmed and this could have led to the release of potentially radioactive contaminated water and of a radioactive cloud that would require the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the surrounding area.

AWE floods 07

According to documents released to the Nuclear Information Service under the Freedom of Information Act, most of the buildings in the key nuclear assembly area were inundated. Serious management problems at AWE were revealed: staff struggled to contact senior managers as the waters rose and those who attempted to defend buildings were overcome by the volume of water. Radioactive material was still being recovered from one building nearly three weeks after the flood.

Failure rewarded

After previous floods at Burghfield in 1999 and 2000, a programme of nine separate flood remediation measures had been ordered. Seven years later, none had been completed. On three, no action had been taken, two had dropped off the radar, listed as “status unknown” and the remaining four are described as “partially implemented”.

No heads rolled.

Secret state: ministers and companies

  • No site emergency was declared in spite of the severity of the flood, and the Environment Agency’s Nuclear Regulation Group was not told of the extent of the flood damage for 48 hours.
  • Defence ministers told MPs there had been only “minor disruption”, though all live nuclear work on warheads stopped for nine months.
  • Details of the extent of the flooding were kept from the public and local authorities: the documents noting that “it was a prudent step to limit disclosure of information surrounding the degree of impact suffered – particularly at Burghfield.”

Can this political corporate alliance, which has withheld such information from the public, the regulatory authority, local government and more junior members of parliament, be trusted to run such dangerous installations?