Monday, 6 July 2015

Gleision mine: probably last piece of the jigsaw

The Evening Post reports on the details of recently-released findings of the Health and Safety Executive on the disaster which occurred in Rhos in .September 2011

The report says: "Working closely with officers from South Wales Police's Major Crimes Unit, the Health and Safety Executive mines inspectors progressively analysed the information over the ensuing days, weeks and months, to build up a picture of how the mine was being worked at the time of the incident.

"The site investigation team did not find any evidence at the mine of an assessment of inrush hazards or precautions to be taken to guard against the risk from inrushes."

We are probably as near closure as we will ever be on this life-shattering event.

The newspapers react to the situation in Europe

"Walter," Jeffrey said, "tell us, what's happening over there?"

"Naturally, I can't describe it all," Walter said, "but if you could see their faces you would see that it has the inevitable sweep of a Greek tragedy."

Jeffrey was reasonably sure that Walter had never read a Greek tragedy, but Walter was repeating the same endless sort of chant as a chorus from Euripides.

 - from "So Little Time" by John P Marquand

Sunday, 5 July 2015

"Irony" has a Greek root

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation has initiated a state-of-the-art cultural centre in Greece. Building the complex is on track, and it should open in 2016.
One wonders whether the Foundation will fund the staffing and running costs, or whether the grand building will go the way of those white elephants, the 2004 Olympics stadia.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Charlie Williams

There was an affectionate tribute to the centre-half turned comedian by fellow Yorkshireman Ian McMillan on Radio 4 last Thursday. Although his comic material is decried by a newer generation of angry young blacks, most of my generation would see him as someone who helped reduce prejudice based on skin colour. A sad footnote is that Williams is another ex-player who regularly headed the old heavy leather football to have succumbed to Parkinson's and to Alzheimer's.

The Saudi cringe

Margaret Thatcher was not colour-prejudiced. She was prejudiced against the poor, which, seeing as how Africa and Asia house the poorest populations on earth, may have looked like the same thing. An illustration of how she was blind to colour or creed if a person or nation were rich enough comes from recently-released papers.

The trouble is that the cringe to the Salafist kings continues, for commercial reasons. Saudi Arabia is a significant customer for British armaments and support services. We turn a blind eye to regular judicial beheadings, to extreme sexual discrimination in the area and most recently to the Saudis' effectively invading the neighbouring state of Yemen because the wrong brand of Islam looks like taking over there.

We are expected to go along with the same opposition to Shi'ism. Hence our allowing Syria, also an effective dictatorship admittedly, but one which tolerated other sects and faiths, and one with a more liberal and ancient civilisation, to fall into anarchy. As a result, the unique Yazidi culture is on the brink of extinction, along with one of the most ancient Christian communities.

Ironically, the Americans who set the house of Saud on its road to domination because of the US thirst for petroleum are no longer so dependent on the Middle East as a source. Their foreign policy in future may be less biased by a need to keep the Saudis onside.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Why Tunisia?

Part of the trouble is that aid promised by the international community to help build the social fabric of the nation which has emerged as the most democratic nation in north Africa has not been forthcoming. A Washington Post reporter filed this warning before the Sousse massacre.

Tunisia has supplied more young hotheads to the devastation in Syria and Iraq than any other nation. A sociological explanation is that a larger-than-usual proportion of young men in a population, especially educated youngsters with no employment or employment for which they are over-qualified, is a breeding-ground for violence.

It follows that the next trouble-spot in Africa will be Uganda.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Thanks for the memories, Val Doonican

He was a wonderful easy-going host of a family entertainment TV show. But before the jumpers and the Irish comic songs there was a real rags-to-riches story. In fact, I can remember (without knowing his name then) the Four Ramblers of which he was a member when they worked for Charles Chilton on his radio serial "Riders of the Range", set in the Wild West.

One of my favourite stories comes from a reminiscence by Doonican of those days (knowing the BBC, the recording of the interview has probably been wiped, unfortunately). Like many programmes in the 1940s and 1950s, "Riders of the Range" was broadcast live (something that would horrify many performers today) and when Paul Carpenter, playing hero Jeff Arnold, spoonerised a warning of a stampede into "we're being attacked by a horde of wild hearses" it corpsed everyone in the studio except Carpenter who had to carry the show on his own for several minutes.