Archive for November 10, 2010

MoD admits to 16 nuclear submarine crashes

One might wonder if these submarines are being crewed by The Village People and their followers…
May I recommend the RYA Competent Crew Course for anyone who has limited sailing experience..

MoD admits to 16 nuclear submarine crashes

from Sunday Herald, 07 November 2010

HMS Astute and tug The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been accused of a “catalogue of blunders” after it admitted there had been 16 crashes involving British nuclear-powered submarines since 1998.
More than half of the accidents have occurred in seas around Scotland. Some – including a submarine that ran aground in the Mediterranean last year – have not been reported before.
According to critics, the repeated errors that caused the accidents suggest that the MoD has failed to learn from past mistakes. A serious incident in the future could cause radioactivity to leak and put public health at risk, they warn.
The Royal Navy’s newest nuclear submarine, HMS Astute, is being repaired at the Faslane naval base on the Clyde after it ran aground for ten hours near the Skye Bridge on 22 October. It emerged last week that one of the boat’s fins was damaged in a collision with a tug trying to rescue it.
The list of nuclear submarine accidents came in a parliamentary answer to the Scottish Nationalist defence spokesman, Angus Robertson MP. In addition to HMS Astute last month, it included eight other accidents in Scottish waters.
Two others were around Skye, one was near Lewis, and one was in the Firth of Clyde. Another accident occurred in the North Channel off the south west coast and two more in unspecified places “west of Scotland”.
The worst incident was on 22 November 1990 when HMS Trenchant snagged the net of the Antares fishing vessel in Bute Sound, north of Arran. The boat sank with the loss of four lives, and an official inquiry blamed mistakes by submarine commanders.
The list also revealed a previously unknown accident in April 2009 somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean. “HMS Torbay grounded in soft sand and mud to avoid a merchant vessel which was sailing erratically,” an MoD spokeswoman told the Sunday Herald.
The submarine had not been damaged, she said. “The incident was investigated and no further action was taken.”
Other incidents took place off the Northern Irish coast, in the North Norwegian Sea, in the Arctic, in the Red Sea, in the Atlantic, and off Australia. All in all, Britain’s nuclear submarines have run aground 11 times, collided with two other boats and an iceberg and snagged the nets of two fishing vessels (see table below).
“The incident involving HMS Astute was clearly not a one off, and the MoD must explain why previous groundings have not been made public,” said Mr Roberston.
“One collision is one too many – especially when it involves a submarine with a nuclear reactor. This catalogue of blunders makes the MoD look even more shambolic, and leaves the credibility of the nuclear deterrent in tatters.”
The independent expert on nuclear submarine safety, John Large, argued that the number of accidents was increasing, and the possible hazards growing. He called on the Royal Navy to review its navigational training.
“Collisions and groundings not only put the submarine hull at risk of damage but also put the weapons, both nuclear and conventional, and the nuclear reactor in jeopardy,” he said.
“If any of these elements were damaged then the consequences to both submariners and the public at large could be severe.” The 120 or so crew on board were “wholly insufficient” to deal with a major leak of radioactivity, he claimed.
The MoD defended its record by pointing out that nuclear submarines operate in unique and challenging environments. “When incidents do occur, they are taken very seriously,” the MoD spokeswoman said. “Each one is thoroughly investigated and lessons are learnt.”
But John Ainslie, the coordinator of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, pointed out that detailed reports on submarine accidents were destroyed after only 10 years. “This may explain why they keep repeating the same mistakes,” he said.
“It is time the Royal Navy stopped treating the west coast of Scotland as a playground for nuclear submarines.”
Nuclear submarine crashes
October 2010 / HMS Astute grounded off the Isle of Skye
April 2009 / HMS Torbay grounded in the Eastern Mediterranean
February 2009 / HMS Vanguard collided with the French submarine, Le Triomphant, in the Atlantic
May 2008 / HMS Superb grounded in the Red Sea
May 2003 / HMS Tireless struck an iceberg while on Arctic Patrol
November 2002 / HMS Trafalgar grounded on Fladda-chuain, north of Skye
November 2000 / HMS Triumph grounded west of Scotland
November 2000 / HMS Victorious grounded on Skelmorlie Bank in the Firth of Clyde
July 1997 / HMS Trenchant grounded off the coast of Australia
July 1996 / HMS Repulse grounded in the North Channel off south West Scotland
July 1996 / HMS Trafalgar grounded off the Isle of Skye
March 1991 / HMS Valliant grounded in the North Norwegian Sea
November 1990 / HMS Trenchant snagged the fishing vessel Antares off Arran
October 1989 / HMS Spartan grounded west of Scotland
November 1989 / HMS Sceptre snagged the fishing vessel Scotia near Lewis
July 1988/ HMS Conqueror collided with the yacht Dalriada off the Northern Irish coast
Categories: News of the moment

German people in unprecedented rebellion against government

Those Germans don’t mess around when protesting !!
Very little on this in our media, curiously….

I can recommend ‘The secret life of the National Grid’  a 3 part documentary on BBC4.  Part 3 covers the nuclear issue…

German people in unprecedented rebellion against government

1000 injured in nuclear protests: police at breaking point

By Jane Burgermeister – November 8, 2010

Like the Roman legions vanquished in the Teutoburger Wald in Lower Saxony in 9 AD, the 17,000 police officers that marched into the woods around the nuclear storage facility in Gorleben in northern Germany on Sunday morning looked invincible. Police personnel from France, Croatia and Poland had joined in the biggest security operation ever mounted against protestors against the a train carrying nuclear waste to a depot in an isolated part of  Lower Saxony’s countryside. Helicopters, water canons and police vehicles, including an armoured surveillance truck, accompanied an endless column of anti-riot police mounted on horses and also marching down the railway tracks into the dense woods. Tens of thousands of anti riot police clattered along the tracks, their helmets and visors gleaming in the morning sun, and wearing body armour, leg guards and carrying batons.
But by Sunday night, those same police officers were begging the protestors for a respite.
Trapped in black, icy  woods without supplies or reinforcements able to reach them because of blockades by a mobile fleet of farmer’s tractors, the exhausted and hungry police officers requested negotiations with the protestors. A water cannon truck was blocked by tractors, and yet the police still had to clear 5000 people lying on the railway track at Harlingen in pitch darkness. The largest ever police operation had descended into chaos and confusion in the autumn woods of Lower Saxony, defeated by the courage and determination of peaceful protestors who marched for miles through woods to find places to lie down on the tracks and to scoop out gravel to delay the progress of the “the train from hell.”

Article continues at :

Categories: News of the moment

Shopping Bags From Around the World…

Did you know that bin liner sales have increased since supermarkets have started charging for carrier bags.  Carrier bags get reused as bin-liners, nappy bags, poopa-scoopas (not to mention being reused as carrier bags).   Bin liners get used once and use more plastic. It’s not the plastic that’s at fault, its the users…

Categories: News of the moment

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director lashes out at US remake

Neils Arden Oplev criticises casting of American actor in lead role of Lisbeth Salander in American version of Swedish film

    Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander
    Director Niels Arden Oplev says no one can compete with Swedish actor Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth Salander. Photograph: Allstar/NORDISK FILM/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

    The director of the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has questioned the need for the upcoming American remake, reigniting a long-running war of words over Hollywood raiding foreign language films to repackage them for a global audience.

With an English-language version in the works, to be directed by The Social Network’s David Fincher, film-maker Niels Arden Oplev expressed anger at plans to cast an American actor in the lead role of Lisbeth Salander, drawing unflattering comparisons with the Hollywood adaptation of the French film La Femme Nikita, which was poorly received when remade as The Assassin, starring Bridget Fonda in the 1990s.

He told the Word & Film website: “Even in Hollywood there seems to be a kind of anger about the remake; like, ‘Why would they remake something when they can just go see the original?’

“It’s like, what do you want to see – the French version of La Femme Nikita or the American one? You can hope that Fincher does a better job”.

Oplev’s film, released in 2009, was the first of three films based on Stieg Larsson‘s best-selling Millennium crime novels, and remains the all-time homegrown box-office smash in Scandinavia, taking over $16m there. It was released a year later, in March 2010, in the UK and US, and performed respectably, grossing £1.5m and $10.1m respectively.

But the figures fall well short of what producers could expect if they had a major blockbuster on their hands: by comparison, The Bourne Identity, the first in the Bourne series, took more than $120m in the US alone.

Oplev’s complaint could equally well apply to Let Me In, the newly released Hollywood remake of Let the Right One In, another Swedish breakout film.

Tomas Alfredson’s tender 2008 vampire film was a multi-award-winning addition to a popular horror genre, and appeared ripe for remake in the wake of the Twilight films, Buffy and the Underworld series.

But audiences are shunning the American remake. Despite reasonably strong reviews for Let Me In, the film debuted this weekend with £488,000 from 363 screens. That compared with Let The Right One In which made £224,000 from just 68 screens back in April 2009 – it eventually made £1.1m at the UK box office. Pundits suggest remakes tend to do better when the original film was relatively obscure, something that could not be levelled at either Swedish film.

But however critically garlanded a film is, if an English-speaking audience has to read subtitles, it will automatically reduce the film’s chances at the box office, and confine it to the status of art film, whatever its content.

Jason Wood, director of programming for the independent cinemas Curzon, says he chose not to release Let Me In in his cinemas as he felt Alfredson’s original was simply too good. “People who had seen Let the Right One In would have compared it unfavourably. They would have seen it almost as sacrilege.”

Wood points to the remake of Michael Haneke’s thriller Funny Games, in which the celebrated Austrian director essentially reproduced his own film with an American cast, including Naomi Watts. “Haneke said he wanted it to have a greater reach, but if anything it put people off. Audiences for foreign language films tend to feel a sense of exclusivity, like they are in a club. I can see why that happens, but we need to change that if we can: we need to get younger people to be open to them.”

Another option is to add an English-language dubbed soundtrack to foreign made films, in the manner that regularly happens in Spain and Italy: but Wood is equally sceptical of its chances. Audience snobbery means it will most likely alienate the small but loyal fans of art cinema, who expect to hear the actors’ real voices, even if they can’t understand what they’re saying. “The whole idea of a foreign film is to show us something unique about another country, so to dub it with English-speaking actors betrays the whole point. Audiences in this country tend to be aghast.”

In the original version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo the film’s lead was played by Swedish actor Noomi Rapace, and Oplev complained of the “Sony PR machine” trying to push her out of the limelight.

“Noomi has captured this part and it should always be all her,” he said. “That’s her legacy in a way I can’t see anyone competing with. I hope she gets nominated for an Oscar,” he said.

Rapace has not been entirely cold-shouldered by Hollywood – she has been given a role in the upcoming Sherlock Holmes sequel, alongside Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law and Stephen Fry. Rooney Mara, whom Fincher cast in a small but important part in The Social Network, has been given the role instead. She will star alongside James Bond actor Daniel Craig.

The assumption is, of course, that a Hollywood remake is always going to be inferior to the original. While it is obviously premature to make a call on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and the jury is still out on Let Me In, the remake is as old as cinema itself, and works both ways. The Magnificent Seven was a great remake of a great Japanese film, The Seven Samurai, while The Beat That My Heart Skipped is a superb French remake of a cult American gangster film, James Toback’s Fingers.

The Hollywood version of The Ring is generally held to be the equal of the creepy Japanese original, Ringu, while James Cameron’s True Lies was an expensive but clunky version of a throwaway French film, La Totale!, which never even received a release in the US. The furore over remakes may suggest that Hollywood is bereft of original ideas; but recycling already-proven material has always been the film industry’s way: whether reconfiguring already-successful books, plays and – latterly – video games, or simply freshening up its own product. The Maltese Falcon starring Humphrey Bogart, for example, was a remake of a 1931 film, which itself was based on Dashiell Hammett’s celebrated novel of a year before.

Brilliant remakes … and terrible turkeys

Some that worked …

Down and Out in Beverly Hills A remake of Jean Renoir’s 1932 classic Boudu Saved from Drowning. Nick Nolte shines as a tramp who nearly drowns in Richard Dreyfuss’s swimming pool in LA’s plushest district, and who then forges a bond with the wealthy family he’s ensconced with. Its success relies on director Paul Mazursky’s precise and insightful observation of American class-consciousness.

Twelve Monkeys Less a remake of than an “inspired by”. La Jetée, by avant-gardist Chris Marker, was a 1962 existential short essay composed entirely of static images. In Terry Gilliam’s hands, it became a highly wrought dystopian time-travel thriller, with Bruce Willis, below, as a convict sent back to the 1990s to try and forestall a planet-wide bioterror attack.

Insomnia The cinematic ancestor of Wallander and Lisbeth Salander, the 1997 Norwegian original had Stellan Skarsgård as a sleep-deprived detective investigating a murder in the nightless far north. The 2002 Hollywood remake, reset in Alaska, gave a meaty role to Al Pacino, but more importantly heralded Christopher Nolan’s entry to the Hollywood A-list.

And some that didn’t …

The Vanishing In 1988, this Dutch thriller electrified audiences with its pitch-perfect merging of ordinariness and sheer torture. The original’s director, George Sluizer, was hired to remake his own film with Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock and it all went horribly wrong. Roger Ebert called it “a textbook exercise in the trashing of a nearly perfect film”.

Swept Away Madonna and then-husband Guy Ritchie invited universal ridicule when they released a remake of Lina Wertmuller’s mid-70s parable of male-female relationships under bourgeois capitalism. Suffice to say, the critics were not kind. But it didn’t put Madonna off making movies. Her short film Filth and Wisdom drew brickbats at the Berlin film festival, and now pencils are being sharpened in anticipation of WE, her biopic of Wallis Simpson.

Vanilla Sky Chilean director Alejandro Amenábar put Penélope Cruz to good use in this intricate thriller about a man who is disfigured in a car crash. Tom Cruise bought the remake rights and hired his Jerry Maguire buddy Cameron Crowe to direct. But it didn’t work – the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw called it “cumbersome and bombastic”. It may have triggered Cruise’s long, slow fall from grace.

Categories: Cinema + TV