Socialist Worker

Rich rats deserting sinking yachts for sealed bunkers

Issue No. 2731

Ex-military bunker in the Black Hills, South Dakota

Ex-military bunker in the Black Hills, South Dakota


Not content with hiding away on private islands, the super-rich are now buying exclusive services to rescue them from pandemics, protests and climate catastrophes.

Dan Richards is chief executive of Global Rescue, an evacuation response company. He said he had signed up more clients in the past five months than in the company’s entire 16-year history.

Richards said he had been asked to draw up plans to transfer hundreds of employees from cities should fires or civil unrest break out.

“They’ve got real risks and real hazards that 10 years ago weren’t even on their radar,” he said. “We’ve been engaged more frequently to do things that I honestly have never contemplated.”

Elite medical practices are creating personal preventive strategies for wealthy clients.

They range from surveying patients’ homes to ensure they are sealed from smoke to monitoring their vital signs with wearables and delivering at-home intravenous fluids and vitamins to bolster their bodies’ defences.

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Some refer clients to dermatologists for the effect of heat on their skin, and therapists for the anxiety produced by the disasters.

Scott Braunstein, medical director at Sollis Health, said patients were realising they needed to become “­self‑sufficient” because of the number of natural disasters.

Preparing for such disasters used to be for “people on the fringes”, he explained, but it was now mainstream. Some are approaching firms offering climate-controlled bunkers, such as the Vivos Group.

Dante Vicino, the firm’s executive director, said its complex of almost 600 ex-military bunkers in the Black Hills of South Dakota had been fitted with air filters “on steroids”.

These were put to the test when fires burnt in nearby Wyoming. “Outside, man, you could smell the smoke,” he said. “But people inside their bunkers said they couldn’t tell.”

Elena Villalobos, at the WHO climate change and health programme, said there is a growing divide not just between developed and developing countries, but between rich and poor in the same country.


The Ministry of Defence wrote off almost £450 million last year in ditched projects.

The sum would pay a year’s salaries for 13,409 nurses.

Some £231 million went on scrapping armed vehicles. The write-off of RAF Sentry surveillance aircraft cost £147 million.

Another £22 million loss came selling a boat to Lithuania. Five drones crashed—costing £6 million.

And an IT system that didn’t work swallowed up £4.5 million.


The Equality and Human Rights Commission has some new commissioners. Of note is David Goodhart. Writing in June, he described complaints of institutional racism as “statistically naive”.

In 2004 he wrote “To put it bluntly, most of us prefer our own kind.” He declared in 2010, “Labour must become the anti-immigration party.”

He is well suited to his new position.


Disabled people are ‘routinely’ restrained

The use of restraints on patients with autism and learning disabilities in hospitals in England has risen to shockingly high levels.

Data from NHS Digital indicates both children and adult inpatients are routinely subjected to physical restraint, seclusion, segregation and chemical “coshing”.

BBC File on 4 reviewed the data and concluded that in 2019 there were 3,225 reported cases of patients confined to their rooms by themselves.

Some 850 of these cases related to children. In the first seven months of 2020, there were 2,000 incidents of secluding patients.

A report published last month showed that some patients were held in seclusion for 13 years, while others were routinely restrained either physically or chemically.

The number of patients restrained has increased from 22,000 incidents in 2017 to 38,000 incidents in 2020. That is an average of 100 a day, or one restraint every 15 minutes.


Furloughed companies paying shareholders a number of British companies have decided to start paying dividends to shareholders again, or in some cases have committed to their annual payout, while taking furlough money.

These include Telecom Plus and construction group CRH, which are paying dividends for the period covered by the furlough scheme, and haulier Wincanton, which will resume dividends in January.

Science Group, a research consultancy, and construction group Hill & Smith also used the furlough scheme and have committed to paying dividends. Retailers such as J Sainsbury have been criticised for paying large dividends after receiving business rates relief during the pandemic.

B&M, the discount retailer, last week said it would repay furlough money but not the relief on rates, despite paying shareholders a £250 million special dividend.


Cops after what’s on your mobile phone

Police and government investigators have signed contracts worth more than £4 million in the past two years with an Israeli company that specialises in hacking into iPhones.

London’s Metropolitan Police, the Scottish Police Authority and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) signed the deals with Cellebrite to collect data from mobile phones.

Cellebrite boasts that its software can collect data from mobile phones without having to unlock them.

It also says that it can access stored passwords and recover messages from encrypted apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram.

In September the Metropolitan Police received approval for a

£2 million, three-year licence of Cellebrite Premium.

Renewal

The contract describes the licence as a renewal, noting that “the tool is currently in use”.

It also said the Metropolitan Police used another mobile data extraction tool that was only compatible with iOS devices.

When asked by the Financial Times newspaper, the Metropolitan Police declined to comment.

The Scottish Police Authority has contracts worth around £1.7 million with Cellebrite, and the CMA has one for close to £90,000.

Cellebrite’s product page states it can “bypass pattern, password or PIN locks” across devices including mobile phones, drones, SIM cards and GPS devices.

The UK data regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office, said in June that it was concerned about the way in which police forces in Britain “routinely access and extract the contents of mobile phones”.


‘We may look back on the ugly Trump era—dare I say, even nostalgically —as one of military disengagement and relative peace’

Sir Vince Cable, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, on what Joe Biden will be like

‘Above all, people who remind those in power that they are there to DO the job’

Sarah Vine explaining why it was wrong to sack her friend Dominic Cummings

‘If the future is now all about wind farms, trans rights and wokery, Boris Johnson is doomed’

Dan Hodges in the Mail newspaper looking to the post‑Cummings government

‘The prime minister is focused on taking the required steps to equip the country to beat the Coronavirus’

Whoever is left at Number 10 as government spokesperson says everything is fine


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