No, the Swedish Church has not banned the male pronoun for God

File photo of a Swedish church. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The Swedish Church has hit out at ‘fake news’ after reports it had decided to stop calling God ‘he’ or ‘Lord’. ‘It is not true,’ a spokesperson told The Local.

The Church of Sweden will only refer to God in gender-neutral terms, reported several of the world’s biggest news outlets on Friday, saying it had made the decision in an update of its 31-year-old handbook.

“It’s not true,” were a spokesperson’s first words when The Local called to ask.

“It’s not true,” repeated Sofija Pedersen Videke, head of the Church’s service of worship committee, which was heavily involved in the work on the new handbook before it went before the Church Assembly.

The Church Assembly, a 251-member decision-making body, voted on Thursday with a large majority to update the handbook, which includes the Church’s aim to use language that is “more inclusive”.

“The old handbook is from 1986 and the new edition is much more in line with the Swedish Bible translation made in 2000,” Pedersen Videke told The Local. “God is beyond ‘she’ and ‘he’, God is so much more.”

“We want variation when it comes to how you express yourself, just like in the Bible.”

Some of the updated language includes three alternatives for the words to use at the start of worship services, including one which is gender-neutral: “In the name of the Father and Son, and the Holy Spirit,” “In the name of God, the Father and Son, and the Holy Spirit”, and “In the name of the triune God”.

The Church Assembly also agreed to use the female grammatical gender for the Holy Spirit, as it the case in Hebrew as well as in the 2000 Swedish Bible translation (‘den heliga anden’ as opposed to ‘den helige ande’).

“Everyone who wants to call God ‘Lord’ can remain calm. It is still there in many places in the new handbook. We have replaced ‘he’ with ‘God’ in one place, that’s all,” Pedersen Videke told The Local.

She said she had been fielding calls from journalists all day, and the Swedish Church also replied to several comments on its social media accounts, emphasizing that the change is not all-encompassing.

When The Local repeats the headline “Church of Sweden to stop referring to God as ‘he’ or ‘Lord'”, which appeared in a major mainstream international newspaper on Friday, to Pedersen Videke, she sighs:

“It’s not true, it’s fake news. I am aghast and wonder where it’s coming from?”

The decision to update the handbook, which was last revised in 1986, was taken at a Church Assembly meeting in 2009. The pronoun ‘he’ has been removed in one place, one sentence in the Gloria, where the Assembly voted on Thursday to replace it in: “Ära åt Gud i höjden och frid på jorden bland människor som han älskar” (“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among humans whom he loves”).

The change was adopted on the initiative of Kenneth Nordgren, who represents the Free Liberals group in the Church Assembly. He argued: “This is in order to take it one step further with regard to inclusive language and to indicate direct liturgical talk about God, which is preferable to an indirect pronoun. Stylistically, we are also of the opinion that this works well in terms of liturgy.”

Sweden’s gender-neutral pronoun ‘hen’ does not appear in the new Church handbook at all.

Source link

Polish MPs vote to continue work on contested changes to electoral law

PR dla Zagranicy

Grzegorz Siwicki

24.11.2017 15:31

Poland’s MPs on Friday voted to continue work on a contested proposal for changes to the country’s electoral law and to rules regulating the functioning of local government.

Polish conservative MPs led by Jarosław Kaczyński (centre), head of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, in the lower house of parliament on Friday. Photo: PAP/Radek PietruszkaPolish conservative MPs led by Jarosław Kaczyński (centre), head of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, in the lower house of parliament on Friday. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

The proposal is sponsored by Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.

The opposition claims PiS is seeking to boost its performance at the ballot box, but Law and Justice has said it aims to make voting more transparent and provide stronger guarantees that elections are fair.

The new rules would do away with single-member constituencies in elections to district councils and reduce the number of seats available in elections to county councils and regional government assemblies.

It would also change the way in which members of the State Election Commission (PKW), which conducts and oversees elections, are selected. Seven members of the commission would be elected by the lower house of parliament, or the Sejm.

At the moment, the Constitutional Tribunal, the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Administrative Court each delegate three judges to work in the commission.

In addition, the proposal would introduce live camera feeds from polling stations as well as from debates by town, district and regional councillors.

The bill also limits to two the number of terms that can be served by local government officials such as mayors.

The proposal provides for a new design of ballot papers and seeks to change the method by which votes are counted. According to the ruling party, the aim is to make voting more transparent.

The new rules would also introduce a second set of polling station officials to provide stronger guarantees that elections are fair, the country’s ruling conservatives have said.

In a 235-199 vote, the 460-member lower house sent the bill for further work by a parliamentary committee. The lawmakers decided against discarding the proposal at its first reading despite urging from the opposition.

(gs/pk)

Source: IAR

Source link

El Ibex cierra la semana en positivo de la mano de la banca: ¿qué pasa? | Mercados

Los inversores no encuentran razones para salir del rango lateral en el que se mueve la Bolsa española desde hace dos semanas. En este periodo el selectivo español ha oscilado en la banda de los 10.000 y 10.100 puntos. Y hoy no ha sido una excepción. El Ibex 35 se anotó el viernes un 0,21%, ascenso que le sirvió para concluir la semana en positivo al anotarse un 0,43%. El dinero movido por la Bolsa española este año alcanza los 1.700 millones frente a la medida de noviembre de 2.043 millones. La semifestividad en Wall Street sumado a la idea de que los gestores de renta variable dan el año por cerrado explicarían estos bajos volúmenes.

Los ascensos vieron de la mano esta vez del sector bancario. Bankia lideró los ascensos al anotarse un 1,57%, seguido por Indra (1,53%), CaixaBank (1,21%), Mapfre (1,03%), BBVA (0,85%) y Santander (0,82%). La explicación hay que buscarla en un informe favorable sobre el sector elaborado por Goldman Sachs. La firma estadounidense elige como valor preferido a la entidad de Ana Botín para la que recomienda comprar.

En el lado de los descensos destaca Endesa que hoy ha apostado por la recogida de beneficios después de la revalorización registrada en las dos últimas sesiones. La compañía ha acaparado esta semana todas las miradas después que anunciara un dividendo de 5.900 millones. A la compañía que dirige Borja Prado le siguieron Acciona (-1,28%), Grifols (-1,14%) y Enagás.

En Europa la atención ha recaído sobre Alemania. El índice IFO de confianza empresarial alemana está en el nivel más alto desde 1969, dato que se suma a las muy positivas lecturas de los índices PMI en Alemania y en Francia, ayer. La economía europea está en fase de aceleración y eso ayuda a la renta variable. Además, el SPD, tras una maratonian reunión, ha decidido entablar negociaciones para la formación de Gobierno en Berlín, tras el portazo de los liberales a Merkel.

Así, se limita la incertidumbre política que pesa sobre el conjunto de la zona euro. Las elecciones alemanas dejaron un sabor agridulce en la medida en que mostraron una Merkel más débil de lo previsto y la fortaleza del xenófobo AfD. La repetición electoral pesaría sobre los indicadores.

De este modo, además de la subida de las Bolsas, el euro está en el nivel más alto desde el 22 deseptiembre, en 1,1916 dólares por euro. A los factores ya citados se suma la caída del dólar. Al Banco Central estadounidense le han entrado las dudas sobre si la inflación se quedará corta, lo que pone en cuestión subidas de tipos y provocó una severa caída el miércoles. 

Las actas del BCE, mientras, han tenido poco eco. Algunos miembros del consejo del banco quieren poner fin a las compras de deuda de forma definitiva, si bien esto es algo que ya sugirió Mario Draghi en rueda de prensa tras la última reunión. La rentabilidad de la deuda española a diez años sube ligeramente y se sitúa al filo del 1,5% y la prima de riesgo subió dos puntos básicos, hasta los 112.

En el mercado petrolero, el barril West Texas ha marcado máximo de dos años, en 58,44 dólares, con una subida del 0,7%. A la tendencia alcista del mercado ligada a los recortes de producción de la OPEP se suma el cierre, por un derrame, del gigantesco oleoducto Keystone, que une las zonas productoras de Canadá con el núcleo petrolero del Golfo de México y que transporta 590.000 barriles al día.



Source link

Submarino Argentina: La vida ‘enlatada’ en un submarino: un vter para 65 personas y ducha cada tres das

Source link

Video: Light artist Roosegaarde’s €13-million installation illuminates Dutch dike

Working with a , Studio Roosergaarde of light artist Daan Roosegaarde turned the 32 kilometer long iconic Afsluitdijk into a beautiful and sustainable art installation with three separate projects – Gates of Light, Windvogel and Glowing Nature. Together the projects aim to enhance the innovative character of the dike, while highlighting it as an “exemplary model of a smart landscape for today and tomorrow”, according to the studio.

Gates of Light illuminates the historical architecture of the dike that connects Friesland to Noord-Holland without using any energy. The 60 monumental floodlights installed on the dike in 1932 were fully restored and augmented with a retro-reflective layer. In the dark, the headlights of passing cars light up these structures, by reflecting the cars’ lights through small prisms. If there are no cars on the road, the structure remains dark – thereby not contributing to light pollution. 

Windvogel consists of energy generating kites that float and move around in the air, connected with a specially designed cable to a ground station. The push and pull of the cable transforms the movement of the kits into energy. The kites can potentially generate up to 100 kW of energy, enough to supply around 200 homes. Windvogel is a tribute to Dutch astronaut Wubbo Ockels. “Whilst flying, Roosegaarde’s Windvogel creates a visual symphony of dancing lines to celebrate the beauty and poetry of green energy.”

Glowing Nature is a “unique encounter between man, biology and technology”, according to Studio Roosergaarde. This project consists of live bioluminescent algae installed at the Friesland bunker on the Afsluitdijk. The algae lights up when you step on it. 

All three projects can currently be seen on the Afsluitdijk by night. Gates of Light and Windvoghel can be viewed from your car. Windvogel and Glowing Nature will be installed until January 21st. 

Source link

How a researcher’s newborn ended up in Swedish personal number limbo

They were all entered into the Swedish population register and given a personal number – the ID number key to accessing services in Sweden – without any issues. But his wife’s unexpected trip back to Iran following a loss in the family sparked an unforeseen chain of events that would result in his second child, born soon after, not being afforded the same rights as the rest of the family.

“My wife’s mother died recently and she went back to Iran, so our baby was born there. We applied for a visa for the baby, got it, and they’re now in Sweden. She (the newborn) got a visa until the end of September 2018 because my contract runs for that time,” Abbaszadeh told The Local.

“When we went to the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) to register the baby in the population register however, we were told that because her visa is valid for less than a year she’s considered a visitor, and she’s not eligible for a personal number as a result. So now, the three of us in the family have a personal number, but the newborn kid does not,” he continued.

READ ALSO: Thing you can (and cannot) do in Sweden without a personal number

The situation has left the Iranian academic in constant worry about his young child, particularly with regards to her health, as without a personal number she would not have access to free healthcare, and could incur expensive medical bills if she gets sick.

“Before coming here the baby got sepsis, which is a very dangerous illness, and my wife took her to hospital in Iran. If that happens again here it will cost a lot, I wouldn’t be able to afford it. On top of that, regular check-ups and vaccinations aren’t possible if I have to pay for them myself,” he explained.

“So my family has healthcare but my newborn doesn’t. The problem is this inaccurate interpretation of ‘visitor’. I have an apartment here, I work here, I live here, my whole life is here. Newborns need a lot of care – it worries me a lot.”

In the Swedish tax agency’s letter to Abbaszadeh communicating their decision, which The Local has seen, it is stated that “the child came to Sweden on November 11th 2017 and has a residence permit valid until September 30th 2018, which is not a year. The tax agency considers therefore that the conditions for being registered into the population register are not fulfilled because the duration of stay is less than a year”.

“In the letter they said that if I’m granted a further one-year residence permit for her I can apply for a personal number, but what can I do in the meantime?” Abbaszadeh noted.

His is not the only case of someone with a valid residence permit in Sweden falling through the cracks in the system and being denied a personal number because of strict interpretations of rules.

One woman who contacted The Local through the Swedish Association of University Teachers and Researchers (SULF), who are helping Abbaszadeh with his case, explained that when she moved to Sweden in the autumn of 2010, her husband applied for a personal number the following December and was granted it, but her application from early 2011 was rejected because by that point she would be studying in Sweden for less than a year according to her permit.

Though she went on to study a second one-year Masters programme, a further application for a personal number was denied. She was only finally granted one after a third year in Sweden: “Not having a personal number affected some life decisions. For example I chose not to have a baby during those three years, not only because I was studying and then looking for a job, but also because I was not ‘in the system’ and therefore it would have been much more difficult to have access to healthcare.”

“I love Sweden but this is one of the things that has to change as soon as possible. People coming here from other countries need to be able to rent a place, or a car and do other basic things which they cannot do without a personal number. That’s the case even if they stay here for less than a year,” the woman who asked not to be named added.

READ ALSO: Is life in Sweden impossible without a personal number?


A Swedish Tax Agency office in Stockholm. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The rules regarding what length of residence permit is necessary in order to be eligible for a personal number are confusing to say the least. In a recent case not dissimilar to Abbaszadeh’s, a woman who was married to an Iranian PhD studying in Sweden and moved there with him had her application for a personal number rejected because her residence permit was valid for less than a year.

She appealed to an administrative court, and it judged that she should be registered into the population register regardless, as there is no legally defined length of residence permit necessary in order to do so. The tax agency then appealed that decision in turn, but Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court shut it down, siding with the woman and making what should be a definitive judgment on the matter.

The Local asked the Swedish Tax Agency why the case of Abbaszadeh’s daughter was being treated differently to the aforementioned one.

“As a result of that case, on July 7th Skatteverket published its position on having someone with a residence permit for less than a year entered into the population register,” Håkan Nilsson, legal expert at the Swedish Tax Agency said.

“One basic condition for registration to happen is the intent to stay in Sweden for at least one year. That applies regardless of how long the person’s permit is for.”

As Abbaszadeh’s application for his daughter mentioned that her residence permit expires in September 2018, the tax authority considered that basic condition of an “intent to stay in Sweden for at least one year” not to be fulfilled.

But the Iranian takes issue with that, saying he was specifically asked to fill in the end date of the permit when applying for her to be registered:

“Actually when I was filling in the application form, I left the place for the leaving date empty at first, but the officer told me I need to fill it in.”

READ ALSO: Five top tips if you don’t have a personal number in Sweden

Skatteverket added that decisions can be appealed or a review of the decision requested if the individual believes it is wrong on the grounds of for example a misunderstanding.

Abbaszadeh has made an appeal, and in the letter accompanying it explained that he is looking for a job in Sweden and intends to continue doing research there. In the meantime while it is being considered, he faces a stressful wait.

“Just consider: 10 months without healthcare. Please consider a family as a whole, not members individually,” he noted.

His case ultimately shows that small details that are open to differences in interpretation, like satisfactorily expressing one’s “intent to stay” for at least a year, can make a huge difference to a decision which has a major impact on the day to day life a family leads in Sweden.

Help us investigate life as a newcomer without a personal number. Read more of our articles on the topic and contact us at news@thelocal.se if you have a story to share.

Source link

Importador di klapchi mester hasi declaracion na Aduana na tempo, sino inversion por bai perdi

Departamento di Aduana ta recorda tur importador di klapchi pa no warda te na ultimo momento pa hasi nan declaracion (aangifte) pa cargacion di klapchi den asycuda. E  declaracion di container di klapchi mester ta hinka den asycuda prome cu e cargacion yega Aruba.

Mirando cu nos ta den e temporada di mas druk den aña, unda hopi comerciante ta importa productonan pa bende net prome of durante e temporada di fiesta nos ta urgi tur comerciante y importador di klapchi pa nan tin tur tramite di declaracion di nan klapchinan kla prome cu e container yega Aruba. Na momento cu e container yega Aruba y e declaracion (aangifte) no ta hinka den e sistema di Aduana, e cargacion lo wordo tuma den beslag y destrui pa e autoridadnan concerni cu tur e consecuencianan cu e inversion ta bai perdi. Departamento di Aduana kier a remarka cu te na e momentonan aki a ricibi 1 declaracion so di cargacion di klapchi y ta pidi tur comerciante y importador pa manda tur e papeleo na nan broker pa esakinan por hasi tur e tramitenan na tempo prome cu e container yega Aruba.

Banda di hasi e declaracionan na tempo, Departamento di Aduana ta recorda tur importador pa manda documentacion correcto pa e proceso por cana su caminda sin niun dificultad y no wordo tranka pa culpa di e mesun comerciante y/of importador manera tabata e caso den pasado.

Comments

comments

Source link

EBN lanza un bróker para particulares que solo venderá fondos ultrabaratos | Mercados

Un nuevo intermediario adaptado a todas las exigencias de la nueva regulación para que los mercados funcionen mejor, Mifid 2, acaba de nacer de la mano del exconsejero de Popular José Gracia y del exdirector de estrategia de Telefónica Santiago Fernández Vallbuena. Ambos adquirieron en septiembre de 2015 EBN Banco, entidad creada por diversas cajas de ahorro en 1991, a Unicaja, Ibercaja, BMN y EspañaDuero. El flamante bróker, que estará a disposición del público previsiblemente la próxima semana, se denomina EBN Securities, y la gran novedad es que solo ofrecerá fondos de inversión ultrabaratos.

“Solo ofrecemos clases [de fondos] estrictamente limpias. No vamos a cobrar retrocesiones [incentivos que se queda el comercializador de las comisiones de la gestora] de ningún tipo”, ha explicado en rueda de prensa el director de la sociedad de valores, Alberto Blanco. Hasta ahora, el 60% de las comisiones de gestión de los fondos de inversión va a parar a los distribuidores, sin que estos ofrezcan ningún valor añadido más allá de su red de comercialización. Entre enero y junio, las gestoras entregaron a los 738 millones a sus distribuidores de los 1.189 que ingresaron en comisiones de gestión.

La nueva regla europea Mifid, que debe entrar en vigor en enero pese a que aún no ha sido traspuesta y es prácticamente seguro que no estará lista antes de finales de año, implicará que los bancos solo puedan cobrar incentivos si ofrecen un asesoramiento de calidad u ofrecen productos de terceros. El modelo de EBN Banco es una novedad absoluta puesto que en ningún caso venderá al particular fondos con comisiones elevadas. “En ninguno de los tres modelos. Ni en el de ejecución (EBN Trade) ni en el asesorado (EBN Advice) ni en el de gestión discrecional de carteras (EBN Manage) ofreceremos productos que impliquen retrocesiones”, añade Antonio Durán, del área de asesoramiento de EBN Securities. 

El asesoramiento independiente y la gestión discrecional de carteras implicarán que el vendedor no se pueda quedar con ningún incentivo. Sí podrían devolvérselas al cliente, pero esto implicaría una gran complejidad fiscal. “No es nuestro negocio”, ha sentenciado Alberto Blanco.

Ofrecerán de entrada en torno a una decena de gestoras extranjeras y solo dos en la gestión discrecional –BlackRock y Deutsche AM–, si bien ya están negociando con otros gigantes del sector como Vanguard, State Street y Aberdeen. En el servicio básico (Trade) se comercializarán todo tipo de activos para que el cliente opere por sí mismo (acciones, ETF, derivados, fondos de Inversión…) y mercados (España, Europa, EE UU) con comisiones “de intermediación competitivas”.

El director de EBN Grow ha señalado que no ofrecerán contratos por diferencias (CFD) ni tampoco operaciones apalancadas en el mercado de divisas (Forex, en la jerga), puesto que para apostar ya existen otras plataformas de juego online. Las nuevas normativas imponen duras restricciones a la comercialización de estos productos y también la CNMV ha decidido poner orden en este tema con una serie de advertencias específicas.

El servicio con asesoramiento posibilita la creación de una estrategia propia desde una cartera de partida con un universo de activos preseleccionado y adaptada a su perfil, que el inversor puede modificar. “Apoyados en inteligencia artificial, optimiza la cartera aplicando criterios de diversificación”, señala el bróker en un documento.

El último nivel es en el que el cliente delega la gestión. En función de su perfil de riesgo, los clientes podrán acceder a cuatro carteras modelo diferentes, de conservadora a agresiva. Al igual que las asesoradas, estas carteras estarán formadas o por fondos de inversión o por ETFs. Las carteras modelo serán de entidades de referencia “global”, según explica EBN, de forma que ha alcanzado acuerdos con Deutsche AM y Blackrock, si bien negocia con otras firmas.

A partir de enero, las entidades avisarán a los clientes cuando sus carteras se deprecien un 10% respecto a la última información periódica, que se entrega habitualmente cada tres meses. Las tarifas en asesoramiento y gestión discrecional estarán entre el 0,6% y el 0,8% del importe.

Source link

Black Friday: More Dutch companies offering massive discounts today

It’s Black Friday today. And the American tradition of offering massive sales and discounts on the Friday after Thanksgiving seems to now also be firmly rooted in the Netherlands. According to research agency Motivaction, more and more Dutch shops, businesses and consumers are participating in the discount circus, NOS reports.

In Rotterdam, it’s not only shops offering discounts. The municipality teamed up with retailers, hotels and museums to make an entire weekend of it, according to the broadcaster.

One in five Dutch people now know what Black Friday is, according to Motivaction. And one in three millennials – people born between 1980 and 2000 – are going bargain hunting today, twice as many as last year. 

Black Friday is originally an American tradition, held on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Stores offer massive discounts, and consumers jump at the opportunity to get their Christmas shopping done as cheaply as possible. The result is huge crowds of people, long lines in front of stores and a lot of pushing and pulling. 

The tradition moved to the Netherlands via Great Britain about five years ago. Though consumers association Consumentenbond warns Dutch buyers to keep a clear head and watch out for fake offers. “There will be some good ones, but there are also fantasy prices. For example, a product with a from-price that has never been sold for that amount.” 

To make sure you get the best out of Black Friday, the Consumentenbond came up with these tips: 

  • Don’t look at the discount, look at what the product costs
  • Compare the offer to others, is it really the cheapest?
  • Keep asking yourself whether you really need this, to prevent impulse purchases
  • Keep a cool head

Source link

The $3bn subway station – and other urban white elephants | Cities

How much should one subway station cost? The city of Toronto has an answer. The plan to extend transit in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough winds back at least a decade: at one time the plan was a seven-stop light-rail line; later a three-stop subway. Today, Scarborough is preparing to replace its six-stop automated train with just one single, solitary subway station, for a mere C$3bn (£1.8bn).

Is that a wise investment? Time will tell, but in a recently unearthed 2013 assessment the transport agency Metrolinx calls it “not a worthwhile use of money”. Many voters in Scarborough feel differently, and Toronto’s mayor, John Tory, has no plans to change course.

But if Toronto may be about to purchase the most expensive single subway stop in history, it wouldn’t be alone in sinking good money into bad projects. White elephants are everywhere.

America’s ‘bridge to nowhere’

Threadbare … Sarah Palin supporting the Gravina Island bridge during a 2006 gubernatorial campaign.



Threadbare … Sarah Palin supporting the Gravina Island bridge during a 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Photograph: Courtesy of Bob Weinstein

Back in 2005, Alaska scored a spending coup in Washington, DC. In that year’s mammoth infrastructure bill, the state managed to peel off $223m for a bridge to connect a town of 80,000 people on the mainland to just 50 on Gravina Island. It would have been longer than the Golden Gate bridge, and higher than the Brooklyn bridge.

Due to how few people it would reach, it was quickly dubbed “the bridge to nowhere”. The moniker became a curse following Hurricane Katrina: senator Tom Coburn tried to reallocate some of the money for the Gravina Island bridge to help rebuild New Orleans. When his attempt failed, senator John McCain vocally assailed it as a classic pork-barrel project. Gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin, meanwhile – one day to be McCain’s choice for vice president – supported the bridge, once proudly displaying a T-shirt reading “Nowhere, Alaska”.

In the end, even Palin decided it was a bad idea. In 2007, as governor, she put the brakes on the project (though, despite what a McCain-Palin 2008 campaign ad claimed, she did not stop it entirely). It was finally scrapped in 2015.

South Korea’s Four Major Rivers project

Sunk costs … Four Major Rivers project work at the Gangchon bridge and weir in Yeoju, South Korea.



Sunk costs … Four Major Rivers project work at the Gangchon bridge and weir in Yeoju, South Korea. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

In 2009, South Korea launched the Four Major Rivers Restoration project. Its goal was to improve water quality in the Han, Nakdong, Geum, and Yeongsan rivers, and to make parts of South Korea more resistant to floods and drought. The latter part of that plan involved building 16 dams. Cost? 22 trillion won, or about £15bn.

For their money, South Koreans do not appear to have received all they were promised by the former government of Lee Myung-bak. Since the project was declared complete in 2011, it has been slammed by the country’s Board of Audit and Inspection: in 2013 it found that “due to faulty designs, 11 out of 16 dams lack sturdiness, water quality is feared to deteriorate … and excessive maintenance costs will be required”.

Earlier this year, South Korean president Moon Jae-in stepped in – and ordered yet another audit.

Berlin’s airport: coming soon (forever)

Last call … inside Berlin Brandenburg airport.



Last call … inside Berlin Brandenburg airport. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

In 2006, Berlin’s new airport was projected to cost about €2bn and open in 2012. Five years later, not only has its opening been pushed back to 2019 and its budget ballooned to more than €5bn (£4.6bn), but so has the number of passengers expected to pass through it.

Initially, it was thought that by closing Berlin’s two operating airports, Tegel and Schönefeld, the new Berlin Brandenburg airport (BER for short) would have to handle around 27 million passengers per year. But in 2016 Tegel and Schönefeld saw 33 million passengers combined. The crown on this classic white elephant: Germany’s government currently spends €16m a month just to maintain the unfinished airport as it is.

What happened? A litany of design and construction issues, as well as accusations of corruption. Tests of the fire alarm system revealed so many problems that the corporation in charge of the airport suggested hiring 800 low-paid workers to stand around the airport and send notifications via mobile phone if they smelled smoke or saw a fire.

By 2015, when the airport was supposedly two years from opening, 150,000 defects had been found in the airport – 85,000 of them “serious”, according to one official. So much, it has been said, for German engineering prowess.

The $51bn town

On ice … the deserted Sochi Winter Olympics site.



On ice … the deserted Sochi Winter Olympics site. Photograph: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Imag

Prior to 2014, Sochi was a sleepy, sub-tropical resort town for well-heeled Russians on the Black Sea. Once it was designated host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics, however, an army of contractors and construction workers descended on the city to build 49 new hotels, 13 new and renovated train stations, five new schools, six medical centres, and 200 miles of road (including 22 new tunnels and 55 new bridges), according to a New York Times report.

The cost: an estimated $51bn. By comparison, the 2016 ummer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro – a much larger event – are estimated to have cost around $13bn.

In 2016, the Olympics site boasted that Sochi was “still basking in Olympic afterglow”, but other accounts suggest that might only be partly true. Photos published in 2015 showed the Sochi Olympic site abandoned, and the roads and hotels surrounding it empty. However, the private investment that flowed to the city in the run-up to the games – particularly for new real estate – has meant that for some, Sochi is now reportedly a retirement mecca.

Spain’s crumbling masterpiece

Creative spending … Valencia’s Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia opera house.



Creative spending … Valencia’s Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia opera house. Photograph: Fernando Bustamante/AP

Recently, architect Santiago Calatrava’s name has become synonymous with the massive Oculus exoskeleton jutting up in lower Manhattan, adjacent to Ground Zero. But in the late 1990s, Calatrava’s name was linked to an even grander project: Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences. The original build cost for the massive complex, which includes a performance hall, a bridge, a planetarium, an opera house and a science museum, was originally predicted to be €300m. It has since more than trebled, surpassing €1bn.

The complex has been plagued with problems, most crucially involving the roof of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia opera house, which was quickly found to leak, and threatened to peel away during high winds. In 2014, the Catalan government decided to replace the roof entirely, for a further €3m. That same year, Valencia announced it was suing Calatrava – who was paid nearly €100m for his work – and his architectural firm for the cost of repairs. But legal issues weren’t new to Calatrava. Two years earlier, he had sued a regional leftwing political party that started a website enumerating all the problems with the buildings (he won).

Despite the expensive mess in Valencia, Calatrava has also continued to win contracts: London’s next major development, Peninsula Place in Greenwich, is a Calatrava design. The Oculus, for the record, also leaks.

The Pearl river bridge

Tarnished … the Pearl river bridge.



Tarnished … the Pearl river bridge. Photograph: Alamy

The idea for a bridge to span the Pearl river delta, linking Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai and thereby joining together the world’s largest urban conurbation, has been around since the 1980s, but took on new life after Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997. Construction finally got underway in 2009, with the expectation that the bridge would open in 2016.

That date has come and gone, and the $2.3bn bridge may only now receive car traffic starting in 2018. In the meantime, the project has been plagued by engineering problems, construction worker deaths, soaring costs and allegations of corruption. The last of those problems has the potential to push the bridge’s opening date even further into the future, and costs higher.

Earlier this year, 21 people were arrested over one company’s role in the construction. Two senior executives and 19 lab technicians are alleged to have falsified test results for the concrete, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. At best, that means there are safety concerns; at worst, two-thirds of the supporting pillars and columns might need replacing. China may soon get its very own bridge to nowhere.

The Don Quixote airport

Crash landing … Cuidad Real Central airport.



Crash landing … Cuidad Real Central airport. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Ciudad Real Central airport wasn’t always destined to be a complete flop. It was conceived in the 1990s, when nobody could have known that the global financial crash would cause the Spanish economy to grind to a halt in the same year (2008) that the airport would eventually open. But how, and why, did a small city of 75,000 people in Castile-La Mancha (home of the famous literary fantasist Don Quixote, which has resulted in the nickname the “Don Quixote airport”) become the proposed site for a major international transit point at all?

As the BBC explained, it “was to be a private project, for private profit”, and prior to the economic collapse, money for projects like it was not difficult to come by via local savings banks, which had local politicians – with eyes trained on infrastructure projects to brag about – on their boards.

In its final year of operation, 2012, the €1bn airport didn’t receive a single flight. Three years later it was put up for sale; one Chinese-led bid of €10,000 was rejected for being too low. It was eventually sold to a local group for €56m and has yet to see any new flights.

The bungle of Benidorm

Beached … the In Tempo apartment block.



Beached … the In Tempo apartment block. Photograph: Heino Kalis/Reuters

In the heady pre-recession days of 2005, Spanish savings bank Caixa Galicia funded what has become one of Europe’s tallest white elephants: the In Tempo apartment block in Benidorm. The developer, Olga Urbana, borrowed €93m to build a 47-storey M-shaped tower overlooking the Mediterranean; Caixa Galicia itself put up just €3,100 ($3,650) in seed capital.

What followed was a hilarious nightmare. There were immediate construction and design problems. Most notably, the building’s architect didn’t properly design the elevator for 47 stories: instead, it used plans for a 20-storey building and simply extended the lift mechanism another 27 storeys. As Der Spiegel explained, the architect “failed to consider … that more stories would also mean more use, or that the space would not be sufficient for the necessary amount of additional lifting equipment”.

Despite being mostly complete, the building has yet to be occupied, according to El Mundo, which also recently reported that the building’s mortgage had been sold as part of a €60m deal between its current holders, Sareb, and SVP Group as part of a plan to finally start selling the units. As for its value to sightseers? One reviewer on TripAdvisor summed it up: “Not an attraction.”

Pyongyang’s Hotel of Doom

Late checkout … Pyongyang’s unfinished Ryugyong hotel.



Late checkout … Pyongyang’s unfinished Ryugyong hotel. Photograph: Keystone/USA-ZUM/Rex/Shutterstock

Construction on the Pyongyang Hotel began in 1987, and by most accounts the building is still not quite ready to, you know, host guests. Officially called the Ryugyong, it has been dubbed the “Hotel of Doom” out of fears that it is structurally unsound.

At conception, the planned 105-storey Ryugyong was meant to be the tallest hotel on earth, complete with casinos and nightclubs. But economics – specifically, the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1989 – ruined the party. Construction has limped on ever since; all told, the building is said to have so far cost £470m.

In July, photos showed it mostly empty, with the exterior works unfinished. But in October, on the strength of comments from tourists to North Korea, speculation grew that the hotel could soon open. Watch this space in another 20 years.

Source link