Tag Archives: UK

BBC News Magazine: The ship that totally failed to change the world


By Tammy Thueringer & Justin Parkinson
NS Savannah
Fifty years ago the world’s first nuclear-powered cargo-passenger ship sailed from the US to Europe on a publicity tour to persuade the world to embrace the atomic age. It didn’t quite work out like that.

Sleek in shape, painted red and white, its interior decorated in what was then ultra-modern chrome, the NS Savannah wasn’t quite like any other cargo ship.

It had facilities for passengers. The 600ft, 12,000-ton ship boasted a cinema, veranda bar and swimming pool. The cabins had no curtains. Instead, “polarised” windows, designed to cut glare, lined the sides of staterooms.

The ship was one of the few to spring directly from the imagination of a US president. In 1953, Dwight Eisenhower had made his famous Atoms for Peace speech, attempting to balance the growing fear of nuclear apocalypse with optimism about the possibility of civilian use of atomic energy.

And he wanted an atomic ship. A civilian one.

NS Savannah, 1962“A very attractive ship”: The NS Savannah, pictured in 1962

The NS Savannah, which cost $50m, was launched 55 years ago this week. It was to be an ambassador of sorts – the world’s first nuclear-propelled merchant ship and a symbol of safety and faith in the fuel of the future.

Stan Wheatley was one of those who was excited to be working on the ship. He was in the shipyard while the Savannah was built and served as the chief engineer on its maiden voyage. “The nuclear power system was a prototype, no question, but we were all trained well.”

Everyone was aware the ship was supposed to be a beautiful advertisement for nuclear energy.

“It represented the best-looking ship around and it still is a very attractive ship,” says Wheatley, now a member of the Savannah Association which works to preserve and protect the decommissioned ship that now sits at a port in Baltimore, Maryland.

Inside the NS Savannah's stateroomInside the NS Savannah’s stateroom
The Savannah's control roomThe Savannah’s control room
View from the Savannah's bridgeView from the Savannah’s bridge Continue reading

Backing #Russia into a corner will have consequences…


What does Vladimir Putin and a cornered rat have in commonWhat does Vladimir Putin and a cornered rat have in common?

World leaders need to come together and sit around the table themselves (not their elected representatives) and talk before this crisis reaches a point where there is no turning back.

Britain must speak up for democrats in Hong Kong


Originally posted on Cut to the Chase - Noah Sin's Blog:

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Published on Independent Voices on 1st July 2014. An edited version was published in print in the iPaper on 2nd July 2014. Also published in The Gulf Today on 3rd July 2014.

Tens of thousands of protesters have braved blistering heat and then pouring rain this week to take to the streets of Hong Kong. Their mission: to secure democracy for a city of seven million people.

This is a city left behind. Ever since the former colony’s return to China, Hong Kong has been characterised as the last page of an era that belongs to the history books – the era of empire. Most Britons are ignorant of the fact that Britain – the signatory to the Sino-British Joint Declaration – remains legally liable to the implementation of the handover, including the protection of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

This is a people let down. When Margaret Thatcher bowed to…

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Russia Today Faces UK Investigation Over #MH17 News Coverage


Russia TodayRussia Today

Russia Today, the Kremlin-backed news channel, has attacked the “impartiality and factuality of the mainstream media” after learning it could itself be investigated for breaking broadcasting regulations on accuracy and impartiality during its coverage of the MH17 air crash.

Ofcom, which ensures TV channels with a UK broadcasting licence provide broadly impartial news coverage, said it was considering whether to investigate Russia Today following complaints from viewers about the tone of its coverage of the Malaysia Airlines disaster.

Last week, presenter Sara Firth resigned from the channel, accusing it of covering the story with “total disregard to the facts”.

But the channel has hit back against its detractors and the potential Ofcom investigation, telling BuzzFeed it is one of the few news outlets that is willing to stand up to the “party line” on what actually happened to the flight when it crashed in eastern Ukraine.

“While we would love to provide the details of our communication with Ofcom and the facts and arguments that RT had presented to the regulator in support of our position, we cannot do so as it would violate the regulator’s rules,” said Anna Belkina, head of communications at Russia Today.

“It is sad that the news media of the US and the UK, which has always prided itself on its commitment to asking hard questions of its own government when it comes to domestic politics, in this particular situation is readily swallowing up the ‘party line’ of the Department of State and the Foreign Office, demanding no proof of their claims.”

“Why was the world so quick to blame Russia? Because that’s what the president of the United States, the US Department of State, and their allies were doing. Did they have any proof? None that they have presented, beyond references to social media chatter.”

“Do we have the results of the investigation? It had barely begun. What happened to impartiality and factuality of the mainstream media? Apparently it is MIA.”

Russia Today has previously been found to have breached Ofcom’s code on multiple occasions, including a breach of section 5.1, which demands that “news, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality”.

via Russia Today Faces UK Investigation Over MH17 News Coverage.

Environmental: Water, super-sewers and the filth threatening the River Thames


The Great Stink of the 1800s alerted politicians to the filth in the Thames. The Victorian sewers fixed it, but trouble is brewing again. Is a clean river just a pipe dream?

After 150 years, London's sewage system needs a rejig to keep up with its growing population. Photograph: Mark LovattAfter 150 years, London’s sewage system needs a rejig to keep up with its growing population. Photograph: Mark Lovatt

“Water is the giver of life,” says the great-great-grandson of the engineer who revolutionised London’s sewerage system. “That’s why people always ask if there’s water on Mars to support life. But it is also bringer of death, as we saw in the 19th century.”

Quite so. Before Sir Peter Bazalgette’s great-great-grandfather Joseph built 1,300 miles of sewers and river embankments in London in the 1860s, raw sewage flowed into the tidal section of the Thames and got stalled in a hellishly insanitary circulation system. The stench of what politician Benjamin Disraeli in the mid-19th century called the “Stygian pool” was bad enough – referencing the River Styx of Greek mythology, which formed the boundary between Earth and the underworld – but, worse, Londoners bathed in and drank this water. “Before the great embankments were built, the Thames flowed more gently so the shit went up and down and people were drawing their own effluent,” says Bazalgette. If you’re eating your breakfast, apologies for that last sentence.

The filthy Thames of the Victorian era was a relatively new phenomenon. As late as 1800 it had been clean enough for salmon to be caught and for Lord Byron to swim by Westminster Bridge. By the early 1830s it was a very different river. In 1834, the English wit and cleric Sydney Smith told Lady Grey: “He who drinks a tumbler of London water has literally in his stomach more animated beings than there are Men, Women and Children on the face of the Globe.”

The results were deaths from water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Liverpudlians were less prone to suffer than Londoners – argues David Green, professor of geography at King’s College London – because of their fondness for tea imported through Liverpool’s docks; they were more likely to boil their water. After cholera arrived from India, there were epidemics in London in 1832, 1848, 1849, 1854 and 1866, in which thousands died.

Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, top right, overlooks the Northern Outfall sewer being built below the Abbey Mills pumping station. Photograph: Getty ImagesSir Joseph William Bazalgette, top right, overlooks the Northern Outfall sewer being built below the Abbey Mills pumping station. Photograph: Getty Images Continue reading