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Tag Archives: so

Killer Fog

Thousands are estimated to have died after a thick polluted fog engulfed London for four days in December 1952.

The smog was so thick that visibility was just one metre.

Those with respiratory conditions, the young and the old were most vulnerable.

In response, the government passed the Clean Air Act to reduce the use of smoky fuels.

Witness speaks to Dr Brian Commins, who worked for the Air Pollution Unit set up at St. Bartholomew’s hospital in London in the 1950s.

Witness: The stories of our times told by the people who were there.

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Walkden fire deaths family ‘won’t be broken’

Composite imageImage copyright Police handout
Image caption Lia, Demi, Brandon and Lacie died following Monday’s fire, while their mum Michelle remains in a coma

The aunt of four children who died in a house fire in Salford says the family is trying to cope with their grief but “nothing will ever break us”.

Demi Pearson, 15, and siblings Brandon, eight, and Lacie, seven, died in the blaze in Walkden on Monday. Lia, three, died in hospital on Wednesday.

Claire Pearson said: “What’s happened is tragic but it won’t separate this family. We are all very close.”

Her sister and the children’s mother, Michelle, 35, is in hospital in a coma.

The family said they were “dreading the day” they have to tell her “the awful news about her babies”.

Ms Pearson says her sister is “an amazing woman” and the house on Jackson Street “was like a youth club with the amount of kids” who would visit.

“She was such a mother to everybody else’s kids as well as her own,” she said.

“When it was family time they’d all cuddle up on the couch together, they were so close.

“Lacie was a little diva, she didn’t stop dancing. Lia was obsessed with Peppa Pig. Brandon and Lacie were so close.”

Image caption Claire Pearson said: “What’s happened is tragic but it won’t separate this family.”

Speaking of how the family feels, she said: “You can’t feel pain, you can’t feel grief, you can’t feel anything, you’re so numb inside, it’s too much to take in.”

Mike Pearson, Michelle’s father, said: “The kids were just like any other kids. They were very supportive, very independent, but very tightly-knit.

“Demi was a little star. She’d been a diabetic and had problems in and out of hospital with that but nothing phased her, she was a beautiful girl.

“Brandon was quite funny, he was more like a school teacher, he was so intelligent.”

Image caption Mike Pearson said Michelle Pearson is expected to be in a medically-induced coma for the next three or four weeks

He described Michelle, who they said was in critical but stable condition, as “fiercely independent”.

“Michelle would do things her way. She loved her kids to pieces, she’d look after anyone. She was a friend to everyone,” he said.

“She didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone. She had a heart of gold, but she was nobody’s fool, she’d stand her corner.”

He said the family has recently been to church to pray for her recovery.

“She’s so badly burned, she’s bandaged from head to foot, she looks like a mummy and she’s going to be in the medically-induced coma for the next three or four weeks,” he said.

“It’s going to be a long road but hopefully she’ll pull through. Whether she’ll have the fight, I don’t know. I’m hoping she’ll get the strength from somewhere but she’s lost all her babies and that’s the heartbreaking thing.

“We’ve got to focus on Michelle and try and be there for her.”

Image caption Claire Pearson said the house on Jackson Street “was like a youth club with the amount of kids” who visited

He added he was “gobsmacked” at the support the family has received from the local community.

“The outpouring of love and support, it’s been overwhelming. People have come from miles to leave flowers and teddy bears and messages of support,” he said.

“They’ve been absolutely outstanding. We thank everyone for the messages and the love.”

  • Two men and a woman appeared in court earlier charged with murdering the siblings. They were remanded in custody until 9 March for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Ceredigion Herald newspaper ends print run after two years

Thomas Sinclair
Image caption Thomas Sinclair owns and edits the Ceredigion Herald

A local newspaper is to stop printing and instead publish only online less than two years after it launched.

The Ceredigion Herald announced Friday’s edition – the 90th – would be its last.

The company said the other Herald newspapers – Llanelli, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire – would still be published and no jobs would be cut.

Editor of the papers Tom Sinclair said the Ceredigion paper was a “weak link”, selling 3,000 copies a week.

The Pembrokeshire paper launched in July 2013, followed in 2015 by Carmarthenshire and Llanelli versions. The Ceredigion Herald became the group’s fourth in April 2016.

Image caption Three other Herald titles will continue to be printed

Mr Sinclair said: “The other papers aren’t affected at all. The Ceredigion paper is the weak link. We found it hard to crack the area.

“There are no redundancies or anyone losing their jobs. We think digital is the future.”

Mr Sinclair has been convicted twice for breaking the law while at the helm of the Herald newspapers.

In October 2016, he was fined £500 for naming a youth in a court case, then in May he was ordered to pay £3,650 in fines and compensation for publishing an article with information likely to identify a sex offence victim.

Part of his defence was because so few people saw the Ceredigion Herald it was unlikely that anyone who knew the victim or the guilty man would have read it.

Books donated to primary school by Parliamentary candidate

A SHIPLEY primary school has received a Christmas donation of books by a parliamentary candidate.

Labour’s recently selected parliamentary candidate for Shipley Jo Pike visited Wycliffe Primary School yesterday to donate children’s books to pupils.

The visit followed research from the National Literacy Trust that 7,800 children across Bradford do not own a single book.

Mrs Pike said: “Reading is a real joy and so important for children’s education. But families in our area are really struggling financially and having to make very difficult choices. Buying books and other gifts is simply impossible for some families.”

Sian Hughes, deputy headteacher at Wycliffe, said: “Our pupils love reading and this is something we are very keen to support as a school. The more children we can get reading at home the better.”

Million Britons miss out on ‘decent’ broadband speeds

North WalesImage copyright AFP
Image caption Decent broadband can be hard to find in some rural areas, said Ofcom

The UK‘s digital divide has narrowed but more than one million homes and offices still struggle to get good broadband, says an Ofcom report.

The Connected Nations report found that about 4% of properties cannot get a broadband speed fast enough to meet their needs.

Last year, about 1.6 million UK properties were in this position.

Smartphone access to the net also needed to improve, it said, as many only got weak signals when travelling.

“Broadband coverage is improving, but our findings show there’s still urgent work required before people and businesses get the services they need,” said Steve Unger, Ofcom’s technology chief, in a statement.

“Everyone should have good access to the internet, wherever they live and work,” he added.

The UK’s appetite for data has grown at a huge rate in the last 12 months, found the report.

The average amount of data carried across UK networks grew by 52% during that period. The average home broadband connection now carries about 190 gigabytes of data every month, it found.

Mobile measure

Telecommunications watchdog Ofcom defines decent broadband as a speed of about 10 megabits per second (Mbps) to download and one mbps to upload.

At these speeds, downloading a high-definition movie could take up to 90 minutes, said Ofcom, if no one else was using that link to the net.

Ofcom said the 1Mbps upload speed was becoming more critical as small businesses and families make greater use of video-sharing and conferencing, which require good upload speeds.

Ofcom said the problem of poor broadband was most pronounced in rural areas, where about 17% lack decent broadband.

The 10 down/one up split is the specification for Ofcom’s proposed universal service offering – which every property in the UK should be able to receive, it said.

Many places cannot obtain these speeds because they are in rural areas that are far from telephone exchanges or street cabinets through which broadband is delivered.

More broadly, said the report, access to superfast broadband services that run in excess of 30Mbps was improving.

By May 2017, 91% of properties could receive such a service – a small increase from last year when the figure stood at 89%.

The higher speeds were proving popular, suggested the report, with 38% of premises that can get it signing up for the service.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mobile signals are often weak on road and rail routes

As well as fixed-line broadband, the Ofcom report also said mobile operators needed to work harder to give customers a better experience.

Now, about 58% of premises can get a 4G signal indoors – up from 40% in 2016.

However, it said, many people struggled to receive good coverage when they were out and about. Currently only 43% of the UK’s landmass can get signals from all four mobile operators.

Coverage was often poor on roads and railways, said Ofcom.

It said it was engaged in work to measure mobile connectivity on travel routes to monitor if operators are improving services for customers.

“People have never relied so much on their phones in daily life,” said Mr Unger, adding that Ofcom’s work would help to give people a more accurate picture of the quality of the service they can expect.

Tulse Hill hit-and-run: Police release CCTV images

CCTVImage copyright Met Police
Image caption The victim was hit on a pedestrian crossing on the South Circular Road near Norwood Road

Police investigating a fatal hit-and-run in which a woman was struck four times have released CCTV images of vehicles they believe were involved.

The victim, 29, was “left to die” on the pedestrian crossing, when all four drivers failed to stop, on Monday.

She was struck as she crossed Norwood Road in Tulse Hill, in south London, when the traffic lights were green.

The images show a white lorry – possibly a Mercedes, and a black car, similar to a Vauxhall SUV.

Detectives have traced two drivers allegedly involved but are still looking for the other two.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption One of the vehicles believed to be involved in the hit-and-run was a white lorry
Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Police are urging the driver to come forward
Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Two of the four drivers have been traced so far

The victim, who was Polish and staying with family in Wandsworth, was struck by one lorry, before being hit by a second lorry and two cars, the Metropolitan Police believe.

She was treated by paramedics but died from her injuries, less than an hour after she was fatally injured at about 06:45 GMT on Monday.

Her family is due in the UK later, to enable her to be formally identified.

Police interviewed the 49-year-old male driver of the first lorry under caution and arrested the 52-year-old male driver of the second car on Tuesday.

Dashcam footage

He was detained on suspicion of causing death by careless driving and later released under investigation.

The Met said it was “grateful for all those witnesses who have come forward”.

But, they are still seeking any dashcam footage from drivers who were in the Norwood Road area between 06:30 and 07:00 GMT.

Acting Det Sgt Alastair Middleton, of the Met Police, said: “We continue to appeal for anyone who was passing and witnessed the collision and the moments afterwards to contact us immediately.

“Enquiries are continuing to trace the two outstanding vehicles involved. A number of actions, including the recovery of local CCTV footage are in hand. I would urge the two drivers we are yet to trace come forward and speak with my team.”

Almost half of under 25s ‘never use a condom with a new partner’

A new campaign’s being launched by Public Health England to get more under 25s to use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections spreading.

It’s the first government sexual health campaign in eight years.

It comes as a survey carried out by PHE and YouGov revealed almost half of 16-24-year-olds have never used a condom with a new partner.

One in 10 of them had never even used one.

Use a condom ad

STIs can cause infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, swollen or painful testicles and even meningitis.

Public Health England and YouGov spoke to more than than 2,000 16-24-year-olds about their sexual health.

The main reason for not using a condom was because they said sex felt better without one.

Jordan, who’s 19 and from Wrexham, admits he only uses them around “half the time”.

Jordan

Image caption Jordan admits he’s slept with girls for the first time without using a condom

He told Newsbeat that being drunk was one of the reasons he hadn’t used one with a new partner.

“Drink definitely has an effect, because when you’re drunk, you’re more careless.”

The poll found half the people who admitted to not using a condom had done so when drunk.

Jordan’s housemate Lydia admits she’s more cautious when sober.

Lydia

Image caption Lydia says when she’s drunk she’s less likely to practice safe sex

But she adds the feeling is “not as nice” when a partner uses a condom.

Both admit to feeling guilty the day after having unprotected sex and have visited an STI clinic to get tested.

Other reasons given for not using a condom during sex included one of the couple being on the pill or having a contraceptive implant.

That’s something student Ellie says is common.

The 20-year-old admits some men she’s slept with are far more worried about getting her pregnant than getting an STI.

Ellie

Image caption Ellie says men she’s slept with are far more concerned about pregnancy than STIs

“It’s on them then, isn’t it? If it’s a baby, it’s them too.

“If it’s an STI, it’s your responsibility.”

“If a girl’s on the pill, then it’s another way of saying ‘you don’t need to use a condom then,'” Jordan adds.

In 2016, there were more than 141,000 chlamydia and gonorrhoea diagnoses in people aged between 15 and 24 in England.

Jesse, who’s 24, told Newsbeat he contracted both because he didn’t use a condom.

Jesse Ross

Image caption Jesse admits he used to sleep around and didn’t use protection

“It wasn’t a nice experience. They caused pain in my groin and discomfort when urinating.

“The worst of it though was having to tell my previous and current sexual partner that I had contracted the STIs, so they also needed to get checked and treated.

Symptoms vary but some, like chlamydia, may not even show any.

“I had symptoms, but I know there are so many people who don’t have symptoms,” says Jesse.

“Now when having sex with someone new I will definitely use a condom.”

Doctors are worried because gonorrhoea is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, and may become untreatable in the future.

GP Dr Sara Kayat says the only way to avoid getting an STI is to use a condom.

Dr Sara Kayat

Image caption Dr Sara Kayat is supporting Public Health England’s campaign

“Whilst many STIs are symptomless, contracting them can have serious health consequences if left untreated and even lead to infertility.

“As I tell patients in my clinic every week, it’s just not worth putting yourself at risk by not using a condom.”

For more info and advice on STIs, check out the BBC Advice pages.

Find us on Instagram at BBCNewsbeat and follow us on Snapchat, search for bbc_newsbeat

Schools warned over hackable heating systems

Playground in snowImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Concerns have been raised that hackers could attack schools’ heating systems during a cold spell

Dozens of British schools’ heating systems have been found to be vulnerable to hackers, according to a probe by a security research firm.

Pen Test Partners says the problem was caused by the equipment’s controllers being connected to the wider internet, against the manufacturer’s guidelines.

It says it would be relatively easy for mischief-makers to switch off the heaters from afar.

But an easy fix, pulling out the network cables, can address the threat.

Even so, the company suggests the discovery highlights that building management systems are often installed by electricians and engineers that need to know more about cyber-security.

“It would be really easy for someone with basic computer skills to have switched off a school’s heating system – it’s a matter of clicks and some simple typing,” Pen Test’s founder Ken Munro told the BBC.

“It’s a reflection of the current state of internet-of-things security.

“Installers need to up their game, but manufacturers must also do more to make their systems foolproof so they can’t be set up this way.”

Image copyright Pen Test Partners
Image caption Trend Control Systems tells customers not to connect its controllers directly to the public internet

The cyber-security company made its discovery by looking for building management system controllers made by Trend Control Systems via the internet of things (IoT) search tool Shodan.

It knew that a model, released in 2003, could be compromised when exposed directly to the net, even if it was running the latest firmware.

Mr Munro said it had taken him less than 10 seconds to find more than 1,000 examples.

In addition to the schools, he said he had seen cases involving retailers, government offices, businesses and military bases.

Pen Test blogged about its findings earlier in the week, but the BBC delayed reporting the issue until it had contacted and alerted all of the schools that could be identified by name.

West Sussex-based Trend Control Systems advises its customers to use skilled IT workers to avoid the problem.

But it responded to criticism that it could have done more to check its kit had been properly installed after the fact.

“Trend takes cyber-security seriously and regularly communicates with customers to make devices and connections as secure as possible,” said spokesman Trent Perrotto.

“This includes the importance of configuring systems behind a firewall or virtual private network, and ensuring systems have the latest firmware and other security updates to mitigate the risk of unauthorised access.”

He added, however, that the company would “assess and test the effectiveness” of its current practices.

One independent security researcher played down the threat to those still exposed, but added that the case raised issues that should be addressed.

“The risk is limited because criminals have little incentive to carry out such attacks, and even if they did it should be possible for building managers to notice what is happening and manually override,” said Dr Steven Murdoch, from University College London.

“However, these problems do show the potential for far more dangerous scenarios in the future, as more devices get connected to the internet, whose failure might be harder to recover from.

“And we still need manufacturers to design secure equipment, because even if a device is not directly connected to the internet, there almost certainly is an indirect way in.”

Why was the black ice so bad this morning and is more coming?

The black ice that caused crash chaos in Bradford this morning took many by surprise, coming as it did on the back of what had not seemed, on the face of it, a particularly cold night.

But the Met Office, which issued a yellow warning for ice overnight, has explained that the warmer air was a factor in creating the unusually slippery conditions.

A spokesman said: “Black ice forms on pavements and roads when the ground temperature is below freezing and when the air temperature is higher.

“It is caused when drizzle or rain hits the cold ground and freezes.

“During situations when the ground cools quicker or is colder than the air, a ground frost can occur without an air frost.

“Due to its transparent nature black ice can be mistaken for a wet surface and so can be highly dangerous.”

The bad news is that there is another yellow warning for ice in place for overnight Thursday into Friday.

The spokesman said: “Once again, ice will be a hazard in places through this period. This will happen as heavy showers of rain, hail, sleet and snow alternate with clearer periods, allowing temperatures to dip sharply.”

They added: “As a consequence, icy stretches are likely on untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths with some slippery surfaces likely.”

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “Our gritting crews were out gritting our Priority One routes across the district from 7pm last night and a full Priority One grit took place from around 4am this morning.

“On a Priority One grit, our guys are out in the freezing weather, covering around 700 miles of road trying their best to keep them clear. We treat over 60% of the roads in the district, which is more than any other council area in West Yorkshire.

“It is not feasible to grit all roads in the district or to respond to all requests from residents, of which we have had nearly 1000 a day in past week. Therefore we concentrate on main roads, bus routes, routes to hospitals, schools, isolated communities and ambulance, police and fire stations first.

“Once these Priority One routes are treated, our highways service starts gritting lower priority roads such as side roads and lanes.

“Grit can only do so much and there were particular issues this morning due to rain washing away grit that had been spread, before further rain came and froze on contact with road and pavement surfaces causing black ice.

“We would urge people to take extra care in winter weather, fit winter tyres to their vehicle, and allow extra time, plan journeys in advance by checking which routes are on grit runs and sticking to them.

“We would encourage people to help out in their neighbourhood by gritting their own street where they can.”

Why was the black ice so bad on Thursday morning?

The black ice that caused crash chaos in Bradford this morning took many by surprise, coming as it did on the back of what had not seemed, on the face of it, a particularly cold night.

But the Met Office, which issued a yellow warning for ice overnight, has explained that the warmer air was a factor in creating the unusually slippery conditions.

A spokesman said: “Black ice forms on pavements and roads when the ground temperature is below freezing and when the air temperature is higher.

“It is caused when drizzle or rain hits the cold ground and freezes.

“During situations when the ground cools quicker or is colder than the air, a ground frost can occur without an air frost.

“Due to its transparent nature black ice can be mistaken for a wet surface and so can be highly dangerous.”

The bad news is that there is another yellow warning for ice in place for overnight Thursday into Friday.

The spokesman said: “Once again, ice will be a hazard in places through this period. This will happen as heavy showers of rain, hail, sleet and snow alternate with clearer periods, allowing temperatures to dip sharply.”

They added: “As a consequence, icy stretches are likely on untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths with some slippery surfaces likely.”

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “Our gritting crews were out gritting our Priority One routes across the district from 7pm last night and a full Priority One grit took place from around 4am this morning.

“On a Priority One grit, our guys are out in the freezing weather, covering around 700 miles of road trying their best to keep them clear. We treat over 60% of the roads in the district, which is more than any other council area in West Yorkshire.

“It is not feasible to grit all roads in the district or to respond to all requests from residents, of which we have had nearly 1000 a day in past week. Therefore we concentrate on main roads, bus routes, routes to hospitals, schools, isolated communities and ambulance, police and fire stations first.

“Once these Priority One routes are treated, our highways service starts gritting lower priority roads such as side roads and lanes.

“Grit can only do so much and there were particular issues this morning due to rain washing away grit that had been spread, before further rain came and froze on contact with road and pavement surfaces causing black ice.

“We would urge people to take extra care in winter weather, fit winter tyres to their vehicle, and allow extra time, plan journeys in advance by checking which routes are on grit runs and sticking to them.

“We would encourage people to help out in their neighbourhood by gritting their own street where they can.”