An employee walking along a thermal pipe at the Kamojang geothermal
power plant near Garut, West Java, on March 18. State utility provider
 Perusahaan Listrik Negara is targeting an additional 135 megawatts of
electricity from three new geothermal plants. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)
 

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,.. etc.)
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - (Text version)

“.. Nuclear Power Revealed

So let me tell you what else they did. They just showed you what's wrong with nuclear power. "Safe to the maximum," they said. "Our devices are strong and cannot fail." But they did. They are no match for Gaia.

It seems that for more than 20 years, every single time we sit in the chair and speak of electric power, we tell you that hundreds of thousands of tons of push/pull energy on a regular schedule is available to you. It is moon-driven, forever. It can make all of the electricity for all of the cities on your planet, no matter how much you use. There's no environmental impact at all. Use the power of the tides, the oceans, the waves in clever ways. Use them in a bigger way than any designer has ever put together yet, to power your cities. The largest cities on your planet are on the coasts, and that's where the power source is. Hydro is the answer. It's not dangerous. You've ignored it because it seems harder to engineer and it's not in a controlled environment. Yet, you've chosen to build one of the most complex and dangerous steam engines on Earth - nuclear power.

We also have indicated that all you have to do is dig down deep enough and the planet will give you heat. It's right below the surface, not too far away all the time. You'll have a Gaia steam engine that way, too. There's no danger at all and you don't have to dig that far. All you have to do is heat fluid, and there are some fluids that boil far faster than water. So we say it again and again. Maybe this will show you what's wrong with what you've been doing, and this will turn the attitudes of your science to create something so beautiful and so powerful for your grandchildren. Why do you think you were given the moon? Now you know.

This benevolent Universe gave you an astral body that allows the waters in your ocean to push and pull and push on the most regular schedule of anything you know of. Yet there you sit enjoying just looking at it instead of using it. It could be enormous, free energy forever, ready to be converted when you design the methods of capturing it. It's time. …”
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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Taiwan developer arrested over quake building collapse

Yahoo – AFP, Amber Wang, 9 February 2016

A rescue worker searches through the rubble of an earthquake-damaged building in the
southern Taiwanese city of Tainan, on February 9, 2016 (AFP Photo/Anthony Wallace)

The developer of a Taiwan apartment complex that collapsed during a strong earthquake was arrested Tuesday, as rescuers reported hearing signs of life in the rubble where some 100 people are still trapped.

Prosecutors in the southern city of Tainan launched an investigation into Saturday's disaster after photos showed cans and foam had been used to fill parts of the complex's concrete framework.

The district court took the developer, identified as Lin Ming-hui, and two of his employees into formal custody late Tuesday after they were questioned at the prosecutors' office earlier.

"The court has decided to have all of them be taken into custody on charges of negligence of business duties that caused deaths," Tainan court spokeswoman Kuo Jen-shiow told AFP.

Around 40 people have been confirmed dead and scores are still missing after the collapse of the 16-storey Wei-kuan building. Tuesday's hearing came as the 72-hour "golden window" for finding survivors expired.

It was the only high-rise in the southern city of Tainan to crumble completely when the 6.4 magnitude quake struck before dawn Saturday.

A distraught relative cries as he is briefed on the rescue effort in the southern 
Taiwanese city of Tainan, on February 9, 2016 (AFP Photo/Anthony Wallace)

However, Tainan mayor William Lai offered fresh hope of more survivors.

"After detecting signs of life, the rescue team then banged in the direction of the signs three times, and they got a response three times. This shows there's a living person within," the mayor told a press conference.

More than 210 people have already been rescued, including an eight-year-old girl and three others pulled from the rubble Monday.

But hopes were dimming for some relatives of the missing.

"My brother and sister-in-law are trapped in Building A at the bottom of the wreckage. I feel like they've given up on them," Cheng Ya-ling told AFP.

"I'm losing hope and losing faith in the rescue. If there's no miracle and they don't come out alive, I only hope they died quickly and didn't suffer."

"I've been waiting since Saturday in freezing weather at night and I have blankets. How are they going to survive buried down there?" she said.

Distraught relatives repeatedly interrupted the mayor's briefing, complaining they had to wait for information from the media rather than being informed directly.

"I beg you to save us. Our family still has three people trapped inside," one tearful woman shouted at Lai as she broke through cordons and threw herself to the ground.

"We are going to break down," another man complained.

Not giving up

Meanwhile, President Ma Ying-jeou pledged to press on with the rescue operation.

Excavator vehicles and rescue workers in front of a building which collapsed 
in Tainan, southern Taiwan (AFP Photo/Anthony Wallace)

"The government won't give up any one of them. Although the golden 72 hours of rescue has passed, lots of rescue records in the world have beaten it," Ma said while visiting the central emergency operations centre outside Taipei.

The chance of survival rapidly diminishes after the 72-hour window.

Cranes, drills, ladders, sniffer dogs and life detection equipment are being used to locate those buried, with emergency workers and soldiers shoring up the rubble to avoid further collapses.

Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je said the killer quake would speed up urban renewal projects in the capital.

"It would cause huge risks for our citizens should any earthquake of the same scale hit the Taipei area," he told reporters.

While the rescue operation was under way Tuesday, the island was jolted by a 4.9-magnitude quake off the eastern city of Hualien but no damage or casualties were reported.

The weekend quake struck two days before Lunar New Year, when many people would have been visiting relatives for the biggest celebration of the Chinese calendar.

Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.

The island's worst tremor in recent decades was a 7.6 magnitude quake in September 1999 that killed around 2,400 people.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bolivia, Peru sign $500 mn deal for Lake Titicaca clean-up

Yahoo – AFP, January 8, 2016

Lake Titicaca, which is the highest in the world, at an altitude of 3,800 meters
(12,470 feet) above sea level, provides a habitat for a number of frogs, birds
and fish, including two species that have almost been wiped out (AFP Photo
/Aizar Raldes)

La Paz (AFP) - Bolivia and Peru agreed to provide more than $500 million towards cleaning up Lake Titicaca, whose polluted waters are home to some animals nearing extinction, a Bolivian environment official said.

The deal, which is meant to improve the lake's biodiversity, includes environmental management and recovery through to 2025.

Lake Titicaca, which is the highest in the world, at an altitude of 3,800 meters (12,470 feet) above sea level, provides a habitat for a number of frogs, birds and fish, including two species that have almost been wiped out.

Bolivia's Environment and Water Minister Alexandra Moreira and her Peruvian counterpart Manuel Pulgar signed the agreement during a public event.

"For the short term we have a limit of $117 million and for the long term $400 million," said Moreira's advisor Sergio Arispe.

“It's a logistical matter we are trying to manage through 2025," he said.

Part of the waste in the lake is generated by the Bolivian city of El Alto, near La Paz, which is home to about 800,000 people.

Peru's minister stressed that the two countries are "already taking concrete actions such as investing in water treatment plants to address the main problems the lake is facing."

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Somalia housing boom as Mogadishu emerges from ashes of war

Yahoo – AFP, January 3, 2016

New housing estates are being built amid an economic boom as diaspora
Somalis return and newly wealthy businessmen capitalise on the relative
peace in Mogadishu (AFP Photo/Mohamed Abdiwahab)

Mogadishu (AFP) - Somalia's elegant colonial villas were left in ruins by two decades of street fighting among warlords, and the seaside capital Mogadishu was dubbed the most dangerous city in the world.

But now new housing estates are being built amid an economic boom as diaspora Somalis return and newly wealthy businessmen capitalise on the relative peace in the city.

Some seven kilometres (four miles) outside Mogadishu in a formerly largely rural area, new homes are springing up, with almost 50 houses now ready on an estate, builders say.

Those returning to Somalia -- including
 investors wanting to start new business 
in the their homeland -- say the Daru 
Salaam estate offers them a more secure
 place to live (AFP Photo/Mohamed 
Abdiwahab)
Mohamed Abdullahi Ali, from Salaam Somali Bank, said it was a "great honour" to back the estimated $20 million (18 million euro) project.

Construction began in early 2015 and the project was touted as offering commercial returns and helping rebuild the nation.

"It is a new neighbourhood for all Somalis to buy affordable homes, by leaving the densely populated neighbourhoods of Mogadishu, and to come and stay with families here," Ali said.

"According to our plan, we are going to build 500 homes that can cover the residential needs for 500 families in the first stage, and then will construct more houses."

Different vision of Mogadishu

Tens of thousands forced to flee their homes still live in plastic and rag shelters in the capital, sometimes in the ruins of war-shattered buildings, and more than a million people are still in need of emergency aid in a country ravaged by famine in 2011, the United Nations says.

Car bombs and assassinations are still common, and a 22,000-strong African Union force fights alongside the army to protect the internationally-backed government from attacks by the Islamist Shebab insurgents.

The streets in the new estate offer a very different vision of Mogadishu.

Those returning to Somalia -- including investors wanting to start new business in the their homeland -- say the Daru Salaam estate offers them a more secure place to live.

Somali security forces arrive to the site
 of a bomb blast near Makka al-Mukarama 
Road in the Somali capital Mogadishu 
on December 19, 2015 (AFP Photo/
Mohamed Abdiwahab)
"I came back to this city to buy a new home in Daru Salaam neighbourhood... the houses are well built," said Abdiqadar Jimale Roble, 34, who grew up in Sweden from the age of 12 after Somalia spiralled into civil war in the early 1990s.

"I have been out of Somalia for long time but I came back because everybody needs his country -- and the country is making much progress," Roble added.

"I had to take part in that progress, and everybody should have a house in his country."

For those returning with dollars earned abroad, the estate reflects the possible profits to be made even in a still dangerous country.

'Humanitarian needs remain vast'

Sadia Sheikh Ahmed, who also grew up in Sweden after fleeing Somalia, said she had helped her relatives abroad snap up property.

"Initially we wanted to buy two houses, but now we and our relatives have bought eight homes, scheduled to be completed soon," she said.

A two-storey house can cost some $130,000, while a more simple bungalow comes in at around $70,000.

Those are hefty sums in one of the poorest countries in the world, with a gross domestic product per capita of just $284, according to the World Bank, against a sub-Saharan Africa average of $1,300.

Development indicators are "among the lowest in the world", the World Bank says, noting the Horn of Africa nation is "heavily dependent" on aid and remittances.

Migrants from Somalia stand behind a
 fence outside a temporary housing facility
 for migrants located in a former Olympic 
hall in Faliro suburb of Athens, on 
December 13, 2015 (AFP Photo/Angelos 
Tzortzinis)
Over 308,000 children are acutely malnourished, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"After more than two decades of violence and political instability, Somalia is on a positive trajectory," OCHA said, while warning the "promising trend" takes place amid a "precarious" humanitarian and security situation.

"Humanitarian needs remain vast and Somalia's humanitarian crisis remains among the largest and most complex in the world," OCHA added.

But the estate is symbolic of the possible changes in Mogadishu.

"The security here is very good and there have been no problems," said Fuad Ahmed Warsame, marketing director of Daru Salaam Real Estate, which is building the new neighbourhood -- meaning "house of peace."

The company is headquartered in central Mogadishu's famous Bakara Market, the city's commercial heart, once infamous as the 1993 battle when fighters shot down two American Black Hawk helicopters. The bullet scars there have long been covered up with business booming.

Related Article:


Large villas are seen at a new housing development on the outskirts of Addis
 Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia White fences and manicured lawns surround the
 villas of an elegant housing estate in Ethiopia, a potent symbol of the emerging elite
 in a country better known for drought and famine. Just 10 years ago, the affluent
suburb of Yerrer View was little more than fields. Today, imposing villas with pillars
stand behind neatly-trimmed oleander hedges. (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Bangladesh orders mass arrests over 2013 factory disaster

Yahoo - AFP, December 21, 2015

The Rana Plaza garment factory building collapsed in Savar, on the outskirts
of Dhaka, in April 2013 killing more than 1,100 people

A Bangladesh court Monday ordered the arrest of 24 people and seizure of their assets after they failed to turn up to face murder charges over the collapse of a garment factory that killed more than 1,100 people.

Senior judicial magistrate Mohammad Al Amin issued the warrants after his court accepted the murder charges against the 24 fugitives for the collapse in April 2013 of the Rana Plaza factory compound, one of the world's worst industrial disasters.

"The court accepted the charge sheet against 41 people who have been charged with murder over the Rana Plaza disaster," prosecutor Anwarul Kabir told AFP.

"The court issued arrest warrants against 24 of them as they have absconded. It also ordered the seizure of their property," he said, adding police have been asked to report on their arrests by January 27.

Factfile on the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in
Bangladesh that killed over 1,100 garment workers. 

Kabir said the court had accepted the charges against four government factory and building inspectors despite attempts by their departments to shield them from prosecution by citing public servant immunity rules.

The case was delayed by "several months" due to the non-clearance by the various departments, Kabir said, adding that prosecutors now expect the trial to start by April next year.

Among the 41 who have been charged with murder is Sohel Rana, the owner of the nine-storey complex on the outskirts of Dhaka which collapsed on April 24, 2013, at the start of the working day.

Rana, who is in custody awaiting trial, became Bangladesh's public enemy number one after survivors recounted how they were forced to start work despite complaints about cracks developing in the walls the previous day.

At least 1,138 people are known to have died in the tragedy, the worst in the country's history. Rescue workers struggled for weeks to retrieve the bodies from the ruins but several people are still unaccounted for.

More than 2,000 people were injured, including many who lost limbs.

Seven owners of factories housed in the complex and 12 government officials responsible for safety and inspections were also charged with murder.

Bangladeshi property tycoon Sohel Rana is among
 the 41 who have been charged with murder over
 the 2013 factory collapse

Workers 'slapped'

Rana's parents, who jointly owned the building with him, and the mayor and councillor of the town of Savar where it was located, were also charged.

Those facing arrest including "associates of Rana" who "slapped and forced" the workers to join the shift, Kabir said.

In a separate case Rana and 41 others have been charged with violating building codes and with illegally extending the six-storey building, which was initially approved as a shopping mall, into a nine-storey factory complex.

The disaster highlighted appalling safety problems in Bangladesh's $30 billion garment industry and triggered global concern as protesters marched to demand action from Western retailers.

A host of such retailers had clothing made at the five factories housed at Rana Plaza, including Italy's Benetton, Spain's Mango and the British low-cost chain Primark.

The disaster prompted sweeping reforms including new safety inspections and higher wages in the industry which employs about four million workers.

Two groups of top retailers such as Walmart and H&M have since launched drives to clean up the sourcing factories. They hired engineers to review fire, building and electrical safety in thousands of garment plants.

Under the clean-up campaign, engineers have identified safety problems in each of the plants, and drawn up recommendations for upgrades as well as setting deadlines for the owners to implement remedial measures.

Monday, December 21, 2015

From ghost city to boomtown, Phnom Penh soars high

Yahoo – AFP, Suy Se, 20 December 2015

Phnom Penh is second only to Laos in East Asia for the fastest rate of urban 
spatial expansion, according to the World Bank (AFP Photo/Tang Chhin Sothy)

From glitzy malls and high-rise flats to five-star hotels, a luxury building boom in Phnom Penh is transforming a capital once reduced to a ghost town into one of Asia's fastest growing cities.

Inside the recently opened Aeon Mall in the heart of Phnom Penh, Cambodia's first mega shopping centre, shoppers and curious residents flock to see the latest Levi's and Giordano handbags, snapping selfies in front of a giant Christmas tree.

It is a common scene across much of Southeast Asia but was previously unimaginable for many in Cambodia where around 20 percent of people still live on less than $1.25 per day.

But while poverty remains entrenched, a fast-growing middle class and elite are increasingly looking for local ways to spend their cash.

"I am glad we have such a modern mall in Phnom Penh. It shows the city is growing," says 20-year-old Bopha, a well-heeled university student who said her family made more than $1 million in a recent land sale.

Inside the recently opened Aeon Mall in the heart of Phnom Penh, Cambodia's 
first mega shopping centre, shoppers and curious residents flock to see the latest
 Levi's and Giordano handbags, snapping selfies in front of a giant Christmas tree
(AFP Photo/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Bopha said she used to have to travel to Thailand and Singapore for her shopping trips but that was now changing.

"Their cities are crowded with high-rise towers. I think we are heading in the same direction to be like them," she beamed.

The $200 million Japanese-built mall is just one of dozens of new shopping complexes, condominium projects and hotels springing up in Phnom Penh as Cambodia rides a wave of high economic growth rates in recent years.

The capital is second only to Laos in East Asia for the fastest rate of urban spatial expansion, according to the World Bank, and its economy is expected to grow at 6.9 percent this year.

Rise of the high-rise

All across the city luxury high-rise condos are popping up with names like "The Peak" and "Diamond Island", complete with billboards promising aspirational taglines such as "Sophisticated Urban Living".

A ferry sails past the five-star Sokha hotel in Phnom Penh (AFP Photo/
Tang Chhin Sothy)

According to the government, Cambodia drew construction investment worth $1.75 billion in the first nine months of 2015, a 13.7 percent rise from a year earlier.

Many of the new entrants into the kingdom's building market are developers from Japan, China, South Korea and Singapore.

The 39-storey Vattanac Capital Tower, Cambodia's first skyscraper which was finished in 2014, is designed in the shape of a dragon and incorporates Chinese traditional feng shui principles.

A few kilometres (miles) away, the local Overseas Cambodia Investment Corporation is drawing from the country's past, building Parisian-style apartments framed by a replica of the Arc de Triomphe on a riverside complex in downtown Phnom Penh.

But some are worried where the construction frenzy will leave a city once famed as the "Pearl of Asia".

In its French colonial heyday Phnom Penh was regarded as one of the loveliest cities in Southeast Asia thanks to its wide European-style avenues, carefully manicured gardens and picturesque stately homes.

Just a few decades later, the buzzing city was reduced to a ghost town when Pol Pot's brutal Khmer Rouge army seized control of the capital and ordered its two million people to evacuate.

Phnom Penh has been coming back to life since the radical communist regime
 was toppled in 1979 but the surge of activity and change to its landscape has
intensified in recent years (AFP Photo/Tang Chhin Sothy)

The city has been coming back to life since the radical communist regime was toppled in 1979 but the surge of activity and change to its landscape has intensified in recent years.

Poor pushed to city fringes

Silas Everett of The Asia Foundation in Cambodia fears the city's original charm is fast disappearing with villas and stately buildings from the colonial era being torn down to make room for lucrative new construction projects.

"Phnom Penh's architectural heritage is world renowned... Yet the rate of destruction of these buildings of significant cultural heritage is alarming," said Everett, mourning in particular the loss of buildings designed by famed Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann.

And while wealthy Cambodians are lining up for a chance to live in some of the city's most coveted new addresses, the urban poor are increasingly relegated to the edges of the capital where many were evicted to make way for commercial developments.

Critics of strongman premier Hun Sen, who has ruled with an iron fist for the last 30 years, say he has turned Cambodia into a notoriously corrupt fiefdom where those loyal to him are handsomely enriched.

But he remains unapologetic about the capital's rapid transformation.

Experts worry that Phnom Penh's original charm is disappearing with villas 
and stately buildings from the colonial era being torn down to make room for
lucrative new construction projects (AFP Photo/Tang Chhin Sothy)

Phnom Penh, he said during a speech in November, would have been a "coconut plantation" had the Khmer Rouge remained.

Instead, he added, "an already dead city survived through the bare hands of our people".

Not everyone has benefited, however.

Strolling through Aeon Mall, Seng Seat, 60, says most of the products remain outside her budget.

"The price of some clothes and shoes at the retail brand shops is too expensive," Seat said.

"I just had a look at the price and left immediately."

Landslide in southern China leaves dozens missing

Chinese state media say a number of people are missing after a landslide buried buildings in the southern city of Shenzhen. The landslide also reportedly caused an explosion in a gas pipeline.

Deutsche Welle, 20 December 2015


The landslide in Guangdong province on Sunday buried some 22 buildings and left 27 people missing in Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, Chinese state media reported.

Earlier reports by the state-run Xinhua news agency spoke of 41 people missing after the landslide, which hit the city's Liuxi Industrial Park, also causing the collapse of at least one building.

Some 700 rescuers are reported to be scouring the site for survivors

Xinhua said four people had so far been rescued from the rubble, three of whom had suffered slight injuries. It was unclear whether there had been any fatalities.

Hundreds of rescuers were at the scene looking for survivors, Xinhua said. Local authorities said most residents had been evacuated from the buildings before the landslide hit.

The official broadcaster China Central Television said a section of the major West-East natural gas pipeline also exploded.

A landslide last month in rural Zhejiang province killed 38 people after burying 27 homes.

tj/jlw (Reuters, dpa, AFP)


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fire shuts down Belgium's Tihange nuclear reactor

A nuclear reactor at the Tihange power station in Belgium has been shut down following a fire inside the plant. Germany has protested the power station near the border.

Deutsche Welle, 19 December 2015


Tihange's reactor 1 was taken offline at 10:35 p.m. (2135 UTC) Friday following a fire in a non-nuclear section of the plant, operator Electrabel told Belgium's private Belga news agency.

Electrabel said the incident did not impact workers, the public or the environment.

The power plant - about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the German border city of Aachen - is controversial in neighboring Germany.

Earlier this week regional government authorities in Germany protested Belgium's decision to restart the plant's reactor 2 following a two-year shutdown after discovery of micro-cracks in the reactor's cement casing in 2012.

Belgium's decision to delay decommissioning its nuclear reactors is
controversial in neighboring Germany
German neighbors unhappy with nearby reactors

North Rhine-Westphalia's state government has protested restarting the 40-year-old reactors, claiming it is a safety hazard and located to millions of people as four of Germany's 10 largest cities - Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen - are located within the Rhineland state.

Seven nuclear power plants produce about half of Belgium's electricity supply. Two other 40-year-old reactors meant to be decommissioned this year - Doel 1 and 2 - are being kept online for another decade to help meet domestic demand.

Belgium said it's committed to phase out nuclear power entirely by 2025. Germany is also phasing out its nuclear plants, with the remaining slated to close by 2022.

jar/sms (dpa, AFP)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Taste for luxury: Ethiopia's new elite spur housing boom

Yahoo – AFP, Justine Boulo, December 2, 2015

Large villas are seen at a new housing development on the outskirts of Addis
 Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia White fences and manicured lawns surround the
 villas of an elegant housing estate in Ethiopia, a potent symbol of the emerging elite
 in a country better known for drought and famine. Just 10 years ago, the affluent
suburb of Yerrer View was little more than fields. Today, imposing villas with
pillars stand behind neatly-trimmed oleander hedges. (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)

Addis Ababa (AFP) - White fences and manicured lawns surround the villas of an elegant housing estate in Ethiopia, a potent symbol of the emerging elite in a country better known for drought and famine.

Just 10 years ago, the affluent suburb of Yerrer View was little more than fields. Today, imposing villas with pillars stand behind neatly-trimmed oleander hedges.

A comfortable commuting distance of 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the capital Addis Ababa, the 600-hectare (1,500-acre) estate has tapped into a growing taste for high-end luxury among wealthy Ethiopians, who are looking for a home which reflects their success in business.

Over the past decade, this Horn of Africa nation has seen an annual growth rate of nearly 10 percent, World Bank figures show, due to a boom in construction, manufacturing, trade and agriculture.

For those in Africa's second most populous country who are enjoying that growth, the estate symbolises much more than a home.

"We are selling a lifestyle more than just housing," says Haile Mesele, a civil engineer who heads Country Club Developers, the property firm behind the development.

"We don't do any advertising. We prefer that the residents themselves spread the news, and in a way, chose their own neighbours," he said.

According to a recent study by New World Wealth (NWW), a South Africa-based market research consultancy, there are now 2,700 millionaires in Ethiopia, reflecting an increase of 108 percent between 2007 and 2013 -- the fastest growth rate in Africa.

"There is a demand for luxury real estate," said Wunmi Osholake, who runs the Ethiopian branch of online real estate platform Lamudi, which focuses on emerging markets, with customers eyeing property costing over $330,000.

The price, she adds, has no upper limit.

A new Manhattan?

And the luxury boom is not just in the suburbs.

In the centre of Addis Ababa, the bustling Kazanchis business district is also undergoing major renovations.

Eighteen months ago, May Real Estate Development began a new residential development called the Addis Gojo project, which incorporates 113 apartments in three 10-storey towers located near several embassies.

"For those working for the UN or diplomats, it is very central. The district is a new sort of Manhattan," says project manager Bitania Ephfrem.

"The lifts work, which is not the case elsewhere," says Bitania, adding they are planning rooftop swimming pools, a gym and a restaurant "so that residents don't need to leave the premises."

A standard apartment between 140-170 square metres (1,500-1,800 square feet) rents for about $1800 per month (1700 euros).

Villas for locals

Such luxury housing has been designed to meet the needs of Ethiopia's emerging new middle class. At the estate in Yerrer View, hundreds of the homes from stand-alone villas to modern apartments are already occupied with plans for a total of 5,400 houses for some 20,000 people.

When completed, the estate will also include a golf course, a five-star spa hotel, a shopping centre, school and clinic and an organic farm covering about 200 hectares.

"When we began, economic growth wasn't very strong," recalls Haile. "Half of our clients came from the diaspora. But since then, the economy has become a lot stronger and nearly 85 percent of our residents are local."

The customers have high expectations. Pushing open the door, Mesele shows off a 500 square metre (5380 square foot) property built on a plot measuring 1,000 square metres.

A large open plan kitchen and a curved imitation-marble staircase leads up to the first floor where there are three bedrooms, all en-suite.

The master bedroom has a fireplace and a dressing room, while the bathroom has "an open space in case the owners want to install a sauna," he explains.

All that remains is to install surveillance cameras able to read a licence plate before opening the gate, smoke detectors and a security system.

And the price tag? $400,000 (377,000 euros) -- a fortune in a country where the gross domestic product per capita is $565.

"No matter what we build, it will always be too little to meet demand," he says.

But others have spotted the growing demand, with several other sites popping up nearby.

Labour challenge

Since the overthrow of a Marxist junta in 1991, Ethiopia's political and economic situation has stabilised, although rights groups have criticised the government for suppressing opposition.

The economy is still heavily dependent on agriculture, especially coffee, with the vast majority of the country's workers involved in that sector.

Meeting the demand for new housing has called for bringing in foreign workers as Ethiopia lacks a skilled work force.

Haile said his firm recruited around a thousand specialist workers from China.

Yoseph Mebratu, the major shareholder in May Real Estate Development, also complains that he had to import 70 percent of raw materials.

"Windows, doors, wood panelling... everything comes from China," he told AFP, adding that taxes are "very heavy."

Inflation, which hit a record 64.2 percent in July 2008 but has since stabilised at around 13 percent, has also caused delays.

"We had to slow down our business and missed deadlines... but since last year, we have become profitable again," Mesele added.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Strong public health message on UN World Toilet Day

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been leading calls for improved sanitation on World Toilet Day. Billions still suffer from a lack of proper toilets and the accompanying, heightened risk of serious illness.

Deutsche Welle, 19 Nov 2015


The United Nations says 2.4 billion people around the world don't have access to decent sanitation and more than a billion are forced to defecate out in the open. The world's population is currently just under 7.5 billion.

The UN launched World Toilet Day (19.11.2015) with a strong public health message. Poor sanitation, it said, increases the risk of illness and malnutrition, especially for children.

The UN also said that women and girls in particular need safe, clean facilities.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that one in three women around the world had no access to safe toilets. "As a result they face disease, shame and potential violence when they seek a place to defecate."

In Ghana's Northern region, it's estimated that seven out of ten people - men, women and children - have no access to toilet facilities, neither in their home nor in public spaces.

But some people who have access to public toilets prefer the bush. "Inside the toilet it is always hot, it is better to consider the forest. Also they don't keep them clean. That's the main reason why I won't use a public toilet," one man in Tamale told DW.

DW visited a public toilet in Tamale where people pay a small gratuity. It was in a filthy condition.

"Toilets can't always be cleaned. Sometimes the caretaker will have additional work somewhere else so he has no time to keep things clean," the toilet attendant said.

Ban Ki-moon:'We have a moral
imperative to end open defecation'
An estimated 18,000 Ghanaians, including 5,000 children under the age of five, die every year from ailments related to poor sanitation.

Convention and customs?

The UN Millennium Development Goals, which are supposed to be achieved this year, call for the halving of the proportion of the population without access to basic sanitation.

Ban said that by many accounts, this will be "the most-missed target."

In 2013, the UN launched a campaign to end defecation in the open by 2025. In sub-Sharan Africa, 36 percent of the population were not using toilets in 1990. Twenty-five years later that figure now stands at 25 percent.

In a World Toilet Day press release, the UN says open defecation is deeply rooted in poverty, but has also been linked to convention and customs in some countries and societies. It represents some of the only times other than worship where women from rigid family circumstances may meet one another.

Maxwell Suuk in Tamale contributed to this report.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pakistan factory collapse kills 16, traps dozens

A factory collapse near Lahore, Pakistan has left at least 16 people dead. Dozens more remain trapped beneath the rubble.

Deutsche Welle, 4 Nov 2015


At least 16 people have been reported dead, while dozens remained trapped in the rubble of a building that collapsed on Wednesday near eastern city of Lahore in Pakistan.

The factory is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Lahore.

Officials have confirmed that 16 bodies have been recovered from the building. Rescue crews are working to remove debris to find potential survivors, but are taking care not to cause a further collapse.

The chief administrator of Lahore, Mohamed Usman, said "there might be dead among them," referring to those still trapped in the rubble. He added that around 80 people had been pulled out alive and taken to area hospitals for treatment.

The building was three stories tall, and construction was underway on a fourth story when it collapsed. At the moment, there is no official cause for the collapse. However, last week a 7.5-magnitude earthquake shook Pakistan , killing nearly 300 people there.

Industrial accidents are not unheard of in Pakistan. A garment fire at a facility in Karachi in 2012 killed over 250 people, one of the worst disasters of its kind in a country with shaky standards when it comes to the construction and maintenance of buildings.

mz/rc (Reuters, AP)