The Darker Side of the News

Seen something interesting in the news or on the intertubes? Discuss it here.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Sableagle » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:17 pm UTC

Gosh, hi, Second Talon. Fancy seeing you here. Say, what languages do you speak, anyway?
Oh, Willie McBride, it was all done in vain.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Jun 12, 2017 12:19 am UTC

Sableagle wrote:Gosh, hi, Second Talon. Fancy seeing you here. Say, what languages do you speak, anyway?


I know what you meant to say was "gee, I'm sorry Second Talon. I was wrong. Thank you, I promise to be better from now on", but you instead slipped and said that. Your first language wouldn't happen to be Idi by chance? I always have trouble conversing with Idiots.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Jun 12, 2017 3:04 am UTC

Sableagle wrote:Gosh, hi, Second Talon. Fancy seeing you here. Say, what languages do you speak, anyway?

One and a half. Ban and a smattering of English.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:35 pm UTC

Banning hardly counts as a whole language, though. Every post is just three clicks away from a permaban for the person who wrote it.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Jun 12, 2017 2:13 pm UTC

Let's get back on topic.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:41 pm UTC

"Mod voice" really needs a Pratchett-style small-caps font.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:59 pm UTC

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/ ... ary-215247

Veterans Today, a fringe American news site that also offers former service members help finding jobs and paying medical bills, struck up a new partnership. It began posting content from New Eastern Outlook, a geopolitical journal published by the government-chartered Russian Academy of Sciences, and running headlines like “Ukraine’s Ku Klux Klan – NATO’s New Ally.” As the United States confronted Russian ally Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons against Syrian children this spring, the site trumpeted, “Proof: Turkey Did 2013 Sarin Attack and Did This One Too

Russia is targeting our military by Facebook friending soldiers with hot 'women'. These fake accounts then broadcast pro Putin propaganda or they go after service members with access to classified information via malicious links.
The end goal is to sow seeds of doubt among the voting Republican soldiers and steal intelligence. These attacks have gotten more brazen since Trump's election. Especially since Trump is really soft on Putin.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Sableagle » Mon Jun 12, 2017 5:09 pm UTC

On-topic? The Tories have enough seats to form a majority if they team up with just one minor party, and seem to have chosen the DUP. It'll make a change from acting as mediator between them and Sinn Fein to try to maintain the post-'98 (relative) peace, I suppose. Might not be a very refreshing change if that comes apart as a result, though. There's bound to be something demanded in exchange for support in Westminster, isn't there? There's that thorny little issue of the DUP-UVF connections and that whole "terrorist organisation" thing to consider. Also ...
In case you haven’t heard – they’re anti-abortion, anti-same sex marriage and some of them don’t believe in climate change.
The DUP’s roots lie in hardline, evangelical Christianity ... Whilst the opinions of many of the DUP’s MPs on climate change and LGBTQ+ rights are frankly shocking, the party’s firm opposition to any reform of Northern Ireland’s draconian abortion laws means women actually end up before the courts.
As the 1967 Abortion Act was never extended to Northern Ireland, the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act still applies, and women who procure a termination can face up to life imprisonment – even if they’ve become pregnant as a result of a sexual crime.
In a debate in the House of Commons in 2009, David Simpson, DUP MP for Upper Bann criticised pro-choice MPs for their “anti-democratic, anti-human rights stance,” and called for change in British abortion law, to make it more like Northern Irish law on the issue. These words feel particularly chilling – considering Simpson and his party colleagues now have Theresa May’s ear.


Among Sun readers, this is not considered a big problem. More specifically, it was described as a small price to pay to keep Corbyn out of power. I did mention the possibility the DUP would demand legalisation of blowing up Catholics. The response was that such a move would be a bonus.

Not that I'm looking for a same-sex marriage or in danger of becoming pregnant, but anyone with a nearly-18-year-old daughter who's off to university this year may consider that partnership cause for concern ...

... unless he's been reading the Sun, and insists it's all a small price to pay for keeping Corbyn out of power.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby elasto » Mon Jun 12, 2017 5:47 pm UTC

It's ironic that if Corbyn had formed a government allied with the Scottish nationalist party it was to be a 'coalition of chaos', but if May does it with the Northern Irish nationalist party it's 'stable government'...

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby sardia » Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:27 am UTC

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/us/a ... zuela.html
Marco Coello, then a skinny 18-year-old high school student, was grabbed by plainclothes agents of the Venezuelan security services as he joined a 2014 demonstration against the government in Caracas.
They put a gun to his head. They attacked him with their feet, a golf club, a fire extinguisher. They tortured him with electric shocks. Then Mr. Coello was jailed for several months, and shortly after his release, he fled to the United States.
Human Rights Watch extensively documented his case in a report that year. The State Department included him in its own human rights report on Venezuela in 2015. With such an extensive paper trail of mistreatment in his home country, his lawyer, Elizabeth Blandon, expected a straightforward asylum interview when Mr. Coello appeared at an immigration office this April in Miami.
“I had this very naïve idea that we were going to walk in there and the officer was going to say, ‘It’s an honor to meet you,’” said Ms. Blandon, an immigration law expert in Weston, Fla.
Continue reading the main story
Instead, he was arrested and taken to a detention facility on the edge of the Everglades. He was now a candidate for deportation. “Every time they would move me around, I would fear that they were going to take me to deport me,” said Mr. Coello, now 22.
Mr. Coello’s case drew extensive media coverage in both Miami and Caracas and, eventually, the intervention of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. The senator helped secure Mr. Coello’s release, though he could still be deported.
The case may have been a sign of just how far the government is willing to go to carry out President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

Has ICE always been this eager, and simply been heldback by the Obama Administration? Or is this the Trump/Session's attempt at terrorizing immigrants? Because ICE sure seems eager to prove a point. A little too eager to be explained away by "simply following orders".

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Coyne » Wed Jun 14, 2017 3:20 am UTC

Sounds like Marco Coello ran into an ICE agent that doesn't believe in fear. The problem is not entirely new. It's not only a problem with ICE agents, but also judges:

There is also evidence that suggests immigrants are not getting equal treatment once their cases reach the courts. For example, immigration judge Agnelis Reese, in Oakdale, Louisiana, didn’t grant a single asylum request out of the 169 decisions she made during fiscal years 2011-2016, according to data compiled by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. Meanwhile, judge Frederic Leeds, in New York, approved 98% of the 700 cases or so he handled. Indeed, a statistical analysis by the US’s Government Accountability Office confirms that, even when controlling for a variety of factors, asylum grant rates vary widely—by at least 47 percentage points—from judge to judge.


Now imagine agents at the border who feel like Judge Reese:

On Jan. 13, [2017,] a coalition of immigrant rights groups filed a formal complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties accusing CBP officers of turning back people requesting asylum at ports of entry along the US-Mexico border. In what the groups called an “alarming new trend,” the officers have allegedly been telling immigrants that they can’t enter the country without a visa— contrary to US law—and referring them to Mexican immigration authorities.


(Note the article was written Jan 18,2017...Obama administration.)

I don't know it is worse under Trump, but I can pretty much guarantee it isn't better. Not his focus.
In all fairness...

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:14 pm UTC

Republican Congressmen were attacked by a gunman (apparently using some kind of rifle) at a practice recreational baseball game. The Majority Whip Steve Scalise is undergoing surgery to fix a hip injury, and a few others were also injured.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/pu ... story.html

A gunman opened fire Wednesday morning on a baseball practice at a park in Alexandria involving Republican members of Congress, injuring several people including at least one lawmaker, Steve Scalise, the majority whip, according to police and a congressman.

The wounded also included at least one Capitol Police officer and the suspected shooter, according to one law enforcement official and witness accounts. Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said two of his officers engaged in “gunfire and return fire.”

A police spokeswoman confirmed the suspected shooter had been shot and was taken to a hospital. Brown said five people have been taken to local hospitals, but the specific injuries were not immediately known.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby natraj » Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:08 pm UTC

i was immediately struck by how neutral most of the initial articles about the shooting were. like, a person opens fire at a field full of congress folk and i did not see a SINGLE mention of terrorism, it took a long while for them to even release the name of the shooter (tho he was in custody immediately.)

like you know dude has to be white. now the first article coming out about him isn't even about his criminal history or anything it's about how he was a good guy and his work history.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zohar » Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:10 pm UTC

How utterly unsurprising...
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Jumble » Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:58 pm UTC

At least 12 die when 24-storie tower block gutted by fire in West London.

My wife works as a midwife at Queen Charlottes & Hammersmith Hospital which is on emergency running. It's about 300 yards from the building and my wife says there's smoke throughout the hospital. I'm hoping she can get home safely as the authorities are concerned the building will collapse. I struggle to imagine the scenes described, and given that I work on the Syria crises I've seen more human suffering than I wanted to in this lifetime. On the whole, in every way, 2017 is a year I will try, but struggle, to forget.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Mutex » Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:05 pm UTC

It started on the 4th floor and went up. I can only imagine how high the number of casualties will be from that, the fire brigade are still putting it out.

Fires burning down huge buildings like that are hardly heard of any more, at least in the UK.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Liri » Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:27 pm UTC

Mutex wrote:It started on the 4th floor and went up. I can only imagine how high the number of casualties will be from that, the fire brigade are still putting it out.

Apparently they were telling people on the upper floors to stay put while they worked to put it out...

Edit: which is apparently SOP but still
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby HES » Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:35 pm UTC

Jumble wrote:I'm hoping she can get home safely as the authorities are concerned the building will collapse.

The Fire Service has ruled out the risk of collapse.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Jumble » Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:59 pm UTC

Thanks, and she's just confirmed she's made it home. But she's had a rough day, to say the least.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby orthogon » Thu Jun 15, 2017 7:25 am UTC

Liri wrote:
Mutex wrote:It started on the 4th floor and went up. I can only imagine how high the number of casualties will be from that, the fire brigade are still putting it out.

Apparently they were telling people on the upper floors to stay put while they worked to put it out...

Edit: which is apparently SOP but still

In case any of y'all get your news from the xkcd fora: it looks like the polyethylene cladding allowed the fire to spread rapidly up the outside of the building, so the internal containment was pointless. The advice to stay put was based on the containment working until the fire was out.

The contractors say the cladding meet the applicable fire safety regulations. At this stage, God alone knows how the regs could have allowed it, though hopefully following the enquiry we will understand. Perhaps something about the conditions yesterday meant it burned faster than it did in tests. Then again, maybe somebody royally fucked up.

I could see the burning tower from my office. I'm really sickened by this. I'd be horrified by it happening in a developing country with a corrupt dictatorship. To happen in the British capital, in 2017? I'm starting to look back on the godawful 2016 with nostalgia.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby elasto » Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:48 am UTC

orthogon wrote:In case any of y'all get your news from the xkcd fora: it looks like the polyethylene cladding allowed the fire to spread rapidly up the outside of the building, so the internal containment was pointless. The advice to stay put was based on the containment working until the fire was out.

Yeah. Each internal fire door was rated to hold back the fire for 30 mins, so the advice was to stay in your room with wet towels under the door unless the fire has literally entered your apartment. There should have been plenty of time for the fire services to contain the fire, go to each apartment and assist everyone leaving.

For some reason the whole thing went up like a candle though - so much so that my first thought was (sadly) that it was a terrorist attack. But, actually, the building should have been able to cope relatively well even in that instance. But it didn't. The evidence right now points to the external cladding as orthogon says...

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby freezeblade » Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:00 pm UTC

As someone who works in the Architectural Metals industry, mainly aluminum, I looked into this a bit more, worried that it might have been similar to our product (which isn't fire-rated, not structural). Turns out this was a crappy cladding that is made of a spongy polyethylene core, with thin aluminum on the outside, meant for quick and clean looking install, and minimal cost (gladly nothing like the product we supply). It has already been shown to be not safe, after a report in the 90's showing as much, as well as a similar fire in an Australian high-rise in 2014.

Seems residents had been pointing out how un-fire-safe the building was for ages, but the landlord/management company refused to do anything about it.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Sableagle » Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:28 pm UTC

Yeah ... *sigh* ... they added insulation on the outside fo the walls to make them more efficient, then put aluminium-faced cladding over that for really good reasons:
Flammable insulation, airspace, aluminium sheet. A vertical wall of fuel with a chimney effect and a heat reflector, bridging all the barriers between flats.
The materials used were chosen “to accord with the development plan by ensuring that the character and appearance of the area are preserved and living conditions of those living near the development suitably protected,” according to the same report.


£8.6M refurb costing £10.3M to make it prettier and they apparently didn't address some other concerns:
Grenfell residents had been complaining that safety concerns had been falling on “deaf ears” for years.

Residents claimed no fire alarm sounded and there was no central sprinkler system.

They told of concerns about previous power surges.

Signs had been erected telling residents to “stay put” in their flats in the event of fire, unless their own property was affected.

Only smoke alarms inside the flats worked, according to residents.
... or, y'know, do it in a way that didn't turn the building into "an inferno waiting to happen."
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:37 pm UTC

freezeblade wrote:Seems residents had been pointing out how un-fire-safe the building was for ages, but the landlord/management company refused to do anything about it.


Which is part of why we should "encourage" landlords and owners to live in/near their buildings through, idk, an extra tax on remote landlords. Let them figure out the cost/benefit analysis when it's their own lives at stake.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Sableagle » Thu Jun 15, 2017 5:47 pm UTC

Harder to apply to the council. There was some social housing in there. Unless we're going to limit social housing to tower blocks put a councillor in the penthouse of each one ... or the antepenthouse or whatever ...

We do have some laws that may be relevant in this case:
Homicide: Murder and Manslaughter

The prosecution must always show a causal link between the act/omission and the death.

The act or omission must be a substantial cause of death, but it need not be the sole or main cause of death. It must have "more than minimally negligibly or trivially contributed to the death." - Lord Woolf MR in R v HM Coroner for Inner London ex p Douglas-Williams [1999] 1 All ER 344.

It does not matter that the act/omission by the defendant merely "hastened" the victim's death: R v Dyson (1908) 1 Cr App R 13.

However, where it is alleged that an omission was a substantial cause of death, causation is particularly difficult. It is necessary to prove to the criminal standard that but for the omission the deceased would not have died.
Corporate Manslaughter

Prior to 6 April 2008, it was possible for a corporate entity, such as a company, to be prosecuted for a wide range of criminal offences, including the common law offence of gross negligence manslaughter. However, in order for the company to be guilty of the offence, it was also necessary for a senior individual who could be said to embody the company (also known as a 'controlling mind') to be guilty of the offence. This was known as the identification principle.

If the breach of duty is alleged to have occurred before 6 April 2008, for example where a building has been defectively wired or a person has been exposed to asbestos many years ago, the common law applies.

The offence was created to provide a means of accountability for very serious management failings across the organisation. The original intention was to overcome the problems at common law of 'identification' and 'aggregation' (the prosecution could not aggregate the failings of a number of individuals) in relation to incorporated bodies.

The following needs to be proved:

    the defendant is a qualifying organisation;
    the organisation causes a person's death;
    there was a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased;
    there was a gross breach of that duty;
    a substantial element of that breach was in the way those activities were managed or organised by senior management; and
    the defendant must not fall within one of the exemptions for prosecution under the Act.
The judge may impose an unlimited fine, it says. Maybe leaving them with just enough to put down a deposit on a flat in a cheap tower block somewhere, buy a week's supply of spuds and keep the 'phone working while they look for another job could encourager les autres. It's not as scary a prospect as being set on fire, but it might help. Who, though?
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Jumble » Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:33 pm UTC

Although we shouldn't preempt the public enquiry, that will take, at least, months.It looks like this is another series of compounded errors and misjudgements:
- as previous posts have said, the insulating blocks are plywood and polypropylene foam. As that's highly flammable building regulations state they need to be covered in a flame-proof out layer, usually a steel or aluminium skin. This is enough to prevent someone setting fire to it from outside, but it would appear that when there is an intense fire behind the core melts and the fire-resistant skin falls off. If the skin was aluminium then it would obviously have also burnt when the temperature became high enough. This would create a chain effect up the outside of the building.
- A building in the UK built now over 14 floors must have sprinklers. However, this building dates to the 1970s and the government decided to leave it to the local authorities to decide if they wanted to retrofit.
- There wasn't a central fire or smoke alarm system, as there often isn't in buildings of this type. The issue is that people smoking in corridors, burning their dinner, etc. would create so many false alarms that residents would either manually disable the system or just ignore it.
- The building had only one stairwell. This design was criticised after the Lakanal House fire in 2009. To add to the situation, in the last few months gas risers had been installed up the stairwell, but not fire-proofed or boxed in.

Distressingly my wife says that yesterday her hospital handled breathing difficulties from smoke inhalation and trauma from falling from windows, but she didn't see any burn victims. Her assumption is anyone who came into contact with the fire did not escape.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Yakk » Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:45 pm UTC

A riser being "some kind of pipe or conduit that goes between floors"?
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Jumble » Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:50 pm UTC

Thats the one. So when the fire on the fourth reached the pipes you would have a jet of burning gas running up the only escape route. It's a horrible thought.

2016 was a terrible year. This one is turning out even worse.
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Oregonaut wrote:CURSE YOU VILLAIN!!
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Diadem » Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:19 pm UTC


What's not clear to me is if these complaints continued after the recent refurbishing.

It now seems clear that the refurbishing only made matters worse. But what's not clear to me is if anybody knew that this was the case.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:21 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:A riser being "some kind of pipe or conduit that goes between floors"?
A riser is a pipe chase. It can be a hole drilled in a floor or a vertical shaft, totally enclosed. Any high rise would have at least a couple. They go through stairwells during retrofits because it is safer than core drilling the floors near columns once a building is finished. The penetrations should have been fire stopped.
Jumble wrote:- There wasn't a central fire or smoke alarm system, as there often isn't in buildings of this type. The issue is that people smoking in corridors, burning their dinner, etc. would create so many false alarms that residents would either manually disable the system or just ignore it.
I'm having a very hard time ingesting this. What were they thinking? While the building I worked in was an upscale condo, it was built in that time frame of the seventies, they weren't given a choice about fire monitoring, the alarms were central and the residents couldn't defeat them. And we could communicate through speakers in the homes. And everything was tested, constantly. However retrofitting sprinklers isn't mandated everywhere in the US.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Liri » Fri Jun 16, 2017 5:45 am UTC

A single stairwell might be what gets me the most. Is that even legal in the US?
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Chen » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:36 am UTC

Liri wrote:A single stairwell might be what gets me the most. Is that even legal in the US?


I think the idea was you shouldn't need to evacuate in the case of fire. It should have remained contained in the unit it started in. I don't know how you'd add an extra stairwell in an old building like that anyways.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:23 pm UTC

Not that I've studied the plans, but some early reports stated that they'd added additional accomodation in previously unused spaces, and the two undeveloped towerblocks depicted behind this one in (pre-fire) library photos showed a set of large 'voids' in the sides of the semi-Brutalist designs. Assuming they were what this tower looked like before redevelopment, the 'upgrading' of the building clearly included the insertion of new (real, not merely cladding) walls and floors across gaps, and likely the removal and re-alignment of apartment walls around the inevitable grid of load-bearing columns.

Had there been the will/compulsion to do so, I'm sure that (at the effective expense of additional, if not existing, living-space) a properly-specced additional stairwell (and separate service riser conduit) could have been sent through the structure. If it were a modern-style build (construct a standalone "lift-shaft/stairwell core" box, from which counterlever-and-pillar-support floors spread, before cladding and in-walling) then it would be an inferior meld to the structure, but I suspect that (from the age of the original structure) it would have been as good as the original access/egress stairwell, possibly even advantageous to retask the original stair-holes between the floors as the site for the revamped service riser and cut (or not fill - using the side-void volumes originally not in use across many of the floors, on opposing sides1 as dual routes.

But, given the purpose (and resident demographic) of the building, two (largely unused, whilst lifts were available) stairwells might have been considered a security issue duplicated. Amongst all the little niggles that were grinding away at the best practices for the refurbishment, sacrificing various small degrees of safeguard for the sake of 'prettifying' and de-aging old building-stock for the sake of low-rent tenants. Cheaper than demolishing and rebuilding, or demolishing and finding more horizontal space to sprawl out the equivalent floor-area of low-rise. Certainly cheaper than letting the old and unusably unrennovated fabric stand idle (keeping the footprint unusable, so more sprawl).

I don't envy the planners' and funders' decisions on how to go from the old block to the new one. Pressures and squeezes every which way. And one huge basket into which, historically, a lot of accommodational eggs had bden placed. At least in renovating/replacing terraces a phased (re)development is possible, in a horizontal sweep, and without concern that the end solution strands terrace-end residents a whole street away from exiting their building on foot, in an emergency.

*ahem* - more flight of fancy (see below the footnote for last night's), please do excuse me. I appear to have tapped an opinion or two.

1 And give them fire-rated windows for natural light, during daylight, letting stairwell-light spilling out as a visual feature at night.


(I also wrote the following very late last night, probably wrong (by dint of drowsiness) in key ways, and I'm not even sure where I left off in the middle of editing of it, but it looks like I took some effort to tap it out, so for posterity alone, here you are...)
Spoiler:
To avoid the "one instance of burnt toast evacuating all 20 storeys" problem with s perhaps a system that collates detection zones.

Smoke/combustion in one segment, and the central controller1 commands a "get out" alert to that segment. I(i.e f it is just toast, visual inspection may be sufficient to let the toast-burner realise his mistake, then contact the alarm management company and/or do what he/she can to disperse the rogue smoke. But addressable paired heat/smoke detectors (and dual optical/ionising type for the smoke, before reaching the threshold to alert) adds extra info. Smoke levels in adjacent segments, and "get out" alarms would be rung in those segments and (maybe) all 3D orthoganal neighbouring ones, whilst "be aware/close firedoors" alarm versions and door-catch activations might be sent to all zones within a larger radius, e.g. a square of the affected zones, away from any seat.

Rising/falling blips as part of the tone could be linked to the intended meaning. (Either rising for urgency or falling for "get down those stairs and out"... Some psychological understanding might be needed to say which is more intuitive, but a slow monotoned blipping should suffice for "be aware".

It sounds like there were greater problems with this incident's situation than 'merely' the lack of nuanced and addressable alarm-soundings, though. And there's always cost to consider. But a simple Arduino-inna-box (times three?) with battery-backup, some 8-core threaded the lengths/breadths/heights of the structure, a near-identical number of detectors as now (just not the cheapest kinds) and a very simple custom tone-selection/pulsing circuit (if not already provided by any separate alarm-sounders units they used) would top out at maybe a couple of grand at the most, including installation, compared with the costs of all the other aspects running into millions. And that's what I'd propose to create myself, knowing that a competant company would have a better designed system with no less capability but probably even cheaper (pre-markup) due to economies of scale and begter use of less stupidly overpowered general-purpose kit. Assuming development/csrtification costs are amortised across a number of installations.


1 Ideally with redundancy, and a multistate communication system that as well as taking the "sound alarm" signal of whatever type(s), is also suppressed by a happily-connected system. If there's flame-damage to the wires leading to/from the control box(es), this itself means something. An error-condition alarm, at least, possibly a better-safe-than-sorry evacuation signal. Or just connect each floor in a grid, with multiple risers between floors, use a hard-wired packet-switching mechanism to multicast the status via all possible nodes, and derive network damage information from the anomolous non-communicating pathways. Simple PWM will do.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:43 pm UTC

At least in some jurisdictions one fire stair is permitted according to a quick search. Safety is expensive though. Public housing will get the lowest amount of safety that the law allows(IMO).

I worked in a wealthy residential high rise. They had sprinklers both in the units and in the halls. The sprinklers were alarmed, in addition to smoke and heat detectors. All were monitored off site as well as by the 24 hour on site security.

Two fire stairs, one one each end.

The units had speakers by which we could communicate with the residents even if the phones failed.

We had generators to keep lights on in the halls and to keep the fire pumps working so firefighter had pressurized water at the 20th floor in case the mains failed.

Those people were safe. But they paid for it to get it. It would never occur to the authorities that if you are going to put people in high rises you should make them as safe as those people, not as safe as you think you can afford.

Having said that, I don't know that any of that would have saved the residents of that building. Sprinklers aren't designed to defeat that widespread a fire. And you don't put fire detectors or sprinklers on the outside. Every window was a potential entry point for the fire. One thing I am curious about, wouldn't a major change like that cladding, require a Professional Engineer to sign off it.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby HES » Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:18 pm UTC

30 confirmed dead and 76 missing. Which, realistically, means 106 dead. That's... hard to process.

Soupspoon wrote:Assuming they were what this tower looked like before redevelopment

I think you're making a leap there. A refurbishment is very different to the full-blown extension you're describing.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby commodorejohn » Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:35 pm UTC

Considering there were supposedly some 500 tenants living in the building, I guess it could've been much worse. Still, I can't imagine what their friends and families are going through right now.
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:47 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Those [rich] people were safe. But they paid for it to get it. It would never occur to the authorities that if you are going to put people in high rises you should make them as safe as those people, not as safe as you think you can afford.


Yes they definitely need better standards of safety, but how are you going to get them to do that; with what money? Raising taxes on the poor would cause more deaths than it would prevent, and raising taxes on the rich is politically impossible, especially if it's for something that they aren't directly benefiting from.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Zamfir » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:32 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
morriswalters wrote:Those [rich] people were safe. But they paid for it to get it. It would never occur to the authorities that if you are going to put people in high rises you should make them as safe as those people, not as safe as you think you can afford.
Yes they definitely need better standards of safety, but how are you going to get them to do that; with what money? Raising taxes on the poor would cause more deaths than it would prevent, and raising taxes on the rich is politically impossible, especially if it's for something that they aren't directly benefiting from.

Don't be dense. The world is full of social housing that doesn't go up in flames like a torch, so this is clearly a solved problem.

Latest news says that the flame-retardant version of the outside cladding was 2 pound per square meter more expensive, and therefore not chosen. And that other countries (at least the US and Germany) would not have allowed this material.

Now, it's possible that the local government was truly strapped for cash. But that's hard to believe, in what's surely one of the richest parts of the UK.

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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:38 pm UTC

HES wrote:30 confirmed dead and 76 missing. Which, realistically, means 106 dead. That's... hard to process.

Soupspoon wrote:Assuming they were what this tower looked like before redevelopment

I think you're making a leap there. A refurbishment is very different to the full-blown extension you're describing.

Not really. "Strip to H-Frame and rebuild" may be necessary due to the non-structural fabric needing removal and replacement, then you 'just' bridge old gaps...

If you're only freshening up (perhaps minimally shuffling) the drywall, then that is indeed different, but the reported costs (millions) and results (more accommodation) suggest something more to me. (Like I said, not looked hard at this, just acting as armchair architect.)

Zamfir wrote:Now, it's possible that the local government was truly strapped for cash. But that's hard to believe, in what's surely one of the richest parts of the UK.

(Yes-and-no. This might be a valid point at some level, though.)
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Re: The Darker Side of the News

Postby Mutex » Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:43 pm UTC

The Conservatives massively cut the budgets of the local councils, across the country. All councils have had their budgets cut by 40% and have had to cut back on all the services they provide while raising local taxes. So it's totally believable that they were looking to save every penny they could.


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