Conservative candidate Rob Wilson looks miffed in Fridayís Reading Evening Post.
Is it his iffy tweed suit? His partyís questionable policies on immigration?
Sadly, no. Instead, someone has added the strapline ďAre you smoking what weíre smoking?Ē to his pride-and-joy poster.
Three months after the tsunami hit Aceh, the New York Times ran a distressing story reporting that “almost nothing seems to have been done to begin repairs and rebuilding.” The dispatch could easily have come from Iraq, where, as the Los Angeles Times just reported, all of Bechtel’s allegedly rebuilt water plants have started to break down, one more in an endless litany of reconstruction screw-ups. It could also have come from Afghanistan, where President Hamid Karzai recently blasted “corrupt, wasteful and unaccountable” foreign contractors for “squandering the precious resources that Afghanistan received in aid.” Or from Sri Lanka, where 600,000 people who lost their homes in the tsunami are still languishing in temporary camps. One hundred days after the giant waves hit, Herman Kumara, head of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement in Negombo, Sri Lanka, sent out a desperate e-mail to colleagues around the world. “The funds received for the benefit of the victims are directed to the benefit of the privileged few, not to the real victims,” he wrote. “Our voices are not heard and not allowed to be voiced.”
But if the reconstruction industry is stunningly inept at rebuilding, that may be because rebuilding is not its primary purpose. According to Guttal, “It’s not reconstruction at all–it’s about reshaping everything.” If anything, the stories of corruption and incompetence serve to mask this deeper scandal: the rise of a predatory form of disaster capitalism that uses the desperation and fear created by catastrophe to engage in radical social and economic engineering. And on this front, the reconstruction industry works so quickly and efficiently that the privatizations and land grabs are usually locked in before the local population knows what hit them. Kumara, in another e-mail, warns that Sri Lanka is now facing “a second tsunami of corporate globalization and militarization,” potentially even more devastating than the first. “We see this as a plan of action amidst the tsunami crisis to hand over the sea and the coast to foreign corporations and tourism, with military assistance from the US Marines.”
As in other reconstruction sites, from Haiti to Iraq, tsunami relief has little to do with recovering what was lost. Although hotels and industry have already started reconstructing on the coast, in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and India, governments have passed laws preventing families from rebuilding their oceanfront homes. Hundreds of thousands of people are being forcibly relocated inland, to military style barracks in Aceh and prefab concrete boxes in Thailand. The coast is not being rebuilt as it was–dotted with fishing villages and beaches strewn with handmade nets. Instead, governments, corporations and foreign donors are teaming up to rebuild it as they would like it to be: the beaches as playgrounds for tourists, the oceans as watery mines for corporate fishing fleets, both serviced by privatized airports and highways built on borrowed money.
In January Condoleezza Rice sparked a small controversy by describing the tsunami as “a wonderful opportunity” that “has paid great dividends for us.” Many were horrified at the idea of treating a massive human tragedy as a chance to seek advantage. But, if anything, Rice was understating the case. A group calling itself Thailand Tsunami Survivors and Supporters says that for “businessmen-politicians, the tsunami was the answer to their prayers, since it literally wiped these coastal areas clean of the communities which had previously stood in the way of their plans for resorts, hotels, casinos and shrimp farms. To them, all these coastal areas are now open land!”
De Sociale Dienst houdt voortaan
rekening met de sabbat bij
De Sociale Dienst komt soms onaangekondigd langs om uitkeringsfraude op te
sporen. Wethouder Ahmed Aboutaleb
schrijft dat “de joodse rustdag in het
vervolg zal worden gerespecteerd”.
Sjit, da’s handig. Draag achtereenvolgens een ster, keppeltje, oranje gewaad, wit gewaad, zwart gewaad, peniskoker of houten kruis aan je togus, en je bent zeker 360 dagen per jaar vrij van lastige ambtenaren en ander bemoeizuchtig overheidsvolk. Werkt dat ook voor de belastingdienst?
Een stem tegen de EU-grondwet is volgens minister Donner spelen met vuur. Zonder Europese overheid loopt het continent het risico op nieuwe oorlogen.
Minister Donner (justitie) is de kabinetscampagne v√≥√≥r de Europese Grondwet met een zware inzet begonnen. De CDA-bewindsman waarschuwde zaterdag op een partijbijeenkomst in Ede: ,,Wie de toekomst op het spel wil zetten, moet vooral tegenstemmen in het referendum.” Een herhaling van het scenario dat Joegoslavi√ę in een oorlog stortte is dan volgens hem mogelijk.
Zonder Europese Grondwet zal de ‘irritatie, de achterdocht en het wantrouwen’ tussen de EU-landen toenemen, meent Donner. Hij ziet de totstandkoming van de Grondwet als een onvermijdelijke stap in de vorming van een Europese overheid. Europa kan volgens hem niet meer zonder zo’n overheid.
Beste Donner, waarom komen jullie dan niet met een goed voorstel voor zo’n nieuwe grondwet? Bijvoorbeeld eentje waarbij, ik noem maar iets, de democratie als grondslag wordt genomen?
Afghanistan’s internationally renowned charity for street children, Aschiana, survived the Afghan wars of the 1990s and the Taleban era.
However, the free market economics of Kabul’s post-war boom now seem a more potent enemy than rockets and bombs.
Aschiana, which means “the nest” and provides support, food, education and a refuge to 10,000 street children, faces the closure of its main centre in Kabul.
It is the victim of rocketing rents and land prices rather than artillery.
The charity’s compound on Char Rahi Malik Asghar, which it has occupied since 1997, has been sold by its owner to an international company.
A five-star hotel will be built on the site.
When can a robot produce art?
When it glides past the rings of Saturn, for one.
As the robot spacecraft Cassini orbiting Saturn crossed outside the famous photogenic ring plane of the expansive planet, the rings were imaged from the outside, nearly edge on, and in the shadow of Saturn.