Archive for September 2016

London’s Deep Level Air Raid Shelters   Leave a comment


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Amusing Planet

When the Second World broke out in Europe, and London became the prime bombing target, people began to pour into the platforms of the London Underground —the city’s subway system— every night to escape the nightly bombings of the 1940 London Blitz. As these underground sanctuaries became increasingly crowded, the British government decided to construct proper air raid shelters far below the ground. The idea was to build ten shelters and place them slightly below and near existing subway stations with the intention that these newly built tunnels will be eventually absorbed into the Underground once the war was over.

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The Stockwell deep level shelter entrance in London, now decorated as a war memorial. Photo credit: David Iliff/Wikimedia

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Work on the shelters began in November 1940. Each shelter consisted of a pair of parallel tunnels 16 feet 6 inches in diameter and 1,200 feet (370 m) long. Each tunnel was subdivided into two decks, fully equipped with bunks, medical posts, kitchens and sanitation. Above ground, each shelter’s shafts were protected by specially constructed ‘pill box’ buildings to prevent any bombs that directly hit the location from going underground. Each pill box housed lift machinery and provided the cover for spiral staircases down to the shelter’s tunnels.

Originally ten shelters were planned, but only eight got built —one each at Belsize Park, Camden Town, Goodge Street, Chancery Lane, Stockwell, Clapham North, Clapham Common, and Clapham South tube stations. The final capacity of each shelter was also reduced to 8,000 from the planned 10,000.

The shelters were ready by 1942, but when the time came to open them to the public, the government got surprisingly cold feet. The worst of the bombings were already over, they argued, and the cost of maintaining the shelters would be too high once opened. Despite mounting pressure from the public, the authorities decided that the shelters would not be opened until the bombing intensified.

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Clapham South Deep-level shelter

The arrival of the flying bombs, the V1 and the V2, finally moved the government to open the shelters to the public. Five of the shelters were opened and the remaining three continued to be used for various government use such as holding troops. Access to the shelters was controlled by tickets, but the demand was not high. The highest recorded nightly population was 12,297 on July 24, 1944, about one third of total capacity. After the scare of the flying bombs were over, the shelters closed once again and people returned back to the tube stations.

The shelters were used for their original purpose for less than a year. After the war, some of the shelters became temporary accommodation for the army in transit or were used as storage facilities. The Clapham South shelter used to house post-war immigrants from the West Indies. In 1951, it became the Festival Hotel providing cheap stay for visitors to the Festival of Britain. The Clapham North shelter is now a hydroponic farm and the rest are owned by Transport for London, and are still used for archival storage. The Clapham South shelter is now open for pre-booked tours arranged by the London Transport Museum.

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A busy night at Clapham South in July 1944, many of the original shelter signs are still in place today. Photo credit: Subterranea Britannica

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Wherever possible families were kept together in the shelter often utilizing the cross bunks where two pairs faced each other. Shelter residents are seen hear making up their bunks on the upper floor. Photo credit: Subterranea Britannica

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These stairs led to a tunnel connecting to Clapham South Tube station. It was built so that London Underground could connect the shelters and use them as part of an “express Northern Line” after the war. This never happened. Photo credit: Sheep”R”Us/Flickr

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Photo credit: Tom Page/Flickr

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Control room of Clapham South deep level shelter. Photo credit: Sheep”R”Us/Flickr

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Breeze Blocks

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Clapham Common deep level shelter now houses an underground farm. Photo credit: Matt Brown/Flickr

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Entrance to the  Clapham Common deep level shelter. Photo credit: diamond geezer/Flickr


 

Posted September 30, 2016 by markosun in History

Some debate cartoons, a little late, but here they are   Leave a comment


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This is what happens to ‘The Donald’ when he thinks of the former Miss Universe Alicia Machado while he is tweeting at 4 am.

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Posted September 30, 2016 by markosun in Politics

Two movie napalm bombing scenes   Leave a comment


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The first one is from Apocalypse Now

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The second one makes the Apocalypse scene look like the minor leagues. It is from the zombie film 28 Weeks Later. When zombies are on the loose you need lots of napalm.

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Posted September 29, 2016 by markosun in Movies

Obama Calls Donald Trump with Debate Advice   Leave a comment


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Good old SNL

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Posted September 29, 2016 by markosun in Comedy

Wolves in Norse Mythology   Leave a comment


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Posted September 28, 2016 by markosun in Art

Early Fall in the Great White North   Leave a comment


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Specifically Winnipeg, Manitoba

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Posted September 21, 2016 by markosun in Cities

The longest speeches ever at the United Nations   Leave a comment


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The document “List of Speeches and Visits Made by Heads of State and Dignitaries” gives the length of speech or speech times for many statements made from 1945-1976.

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The longest timed speech listed in the above document was made by Fidel Castro of Cuba at the 872nd plenary meeting of the General Assembly on 26 September 1960. The time listed is 269 minutes.

Other long speeches:

  • 10 Oct. 1960 – H.E. Mr. Sékou Touré – Guinea – President – 896th Plenary – 144 minutes
  • 23 Sep. 1960 – H.E. Mr. Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev – USSR – Chairman of the Council of Ministers – 869th Plenary – 140 minutes
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  • 30 Sep. 1960 – H.E. Dr. Soekarno – Indonesia – President – 880th Plenary – 121 minutes

In addition, we have this note:

  • 23 Sep. 2009 – H.E. Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi – Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – Leader of the Revolution – 96 minutes – (according to the website of the 64th session General Assembly General Debate)

On 23 January 1957 V. K. Krishna Menon delivered an unprecedented eight-hour speech defending India’s stand on Kashmir. To date, the speech is the longest ever delivered in the United Nations Security Council, covering five hours of the 762nd meeting on 23 January, and two hours and forty-eight minutes on the 24th, reportedly concluding with Menon’s collapse on the Security Council floor. During the filibuster, Nehru moved swiftly and successfully to consolidate Indian power in Kashmir. Menon’s passionate defence of Indian sovereignty in Kashmir enlarged his base of support in India, and led to the Indian press temporarily dubbing him the “Hero of Kashmir”.

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Famous Hugo Chavez speech

Speaking one day after Bush addressed the same session of the General Assembly, Chávez announced, “The devil came here yesterday, and it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.” At that point, Chávez made the sign of the cross, positioned his hands as if praying, and looked briefly upwards as if invocation of God. He continued “Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the President of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world.” Chávez also said that President Bush “…came [to the General Assembly] to share his nostrums to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world.” Chávez began his talk by recommending Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival: “It’s an excellent book to help us understand what has been happening in the world throughout the 20th century, and what’s happening now, and the greatest threat looming over our planet.” Citing Chomsky’s book, Chávez explained, “…the American empire is doing all it can to consolidate its system of domination. And we cannot allow them to do that. We cannot allow world dictatorship to be consolidated.”

 

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Posted September 20, 2016 by markosun in Geopolitics