Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

Zooming In

April 20, 2007

Russian Homebuyers Go Hungry

Gelf highlights overlooked coverage from local media around the world. In this edition: Homebuyers strike in Russia; drought in Australia; ski outage in Scotland; a golden temple turns black; and Malaysian fishermen are catching mostly trash.

Hadley Robinson

Some of the most insightful writing from outside the U.S. comes from local media. In this occasional feature, Gelf identifies noteworthy stories that haven't gotten much attention outside local borders.

Graphic created by Paul Antonson
"We need to diversify; there's no way we can rely on our winters."—Stewart Davidson, director of Scotland's Glenshee ski center, on turning ski trails into mountain bike trails.

Graphic created by Paul Antonson


Hundreds of defrauded homebuyers in Russia are staging a hunger strike this week. They paid construction companies such as Sotsialnaya Initsiativa for homes that were never built or were sold to multiple people. The protesters are unhappy with the city bureaucracy and the companies.
This is the second such strike in the past six months. In September, homebuyers went on a hunger strike for nine days before officials promised to resolve the dispute. Nothing has come of the promises. One strike organizer, Boris Kosarev told the Moscow Times, "We do not see any other way but to continue our hunger strike."


A drought in Australia could disrupt water allocations for irrigation and environmental flows along the Murray-Darling Basin, Prime Minister John Howard warned. Unless a significant amount of rain falls before mid-May, water could be limited to domestic use only. This affects the 50,000 farmers as well as Adelaide and other cities along the basin, the principal farming region in the country. The drought could destroy grapes, citrus, and apple crops and the National Farmers Federation said if trees and livestock are lost, farmers could take years to recover. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, if the drought continues and water is cut off, jobs could be lost and the price of meat, milk, and vegetables could rise and could push up inflation. Howard told the country, "We should all pray for rain."


Ski trails will soon give way to downhill mountain biking trails at several ski resorts in Scotland. Glenshee, the country's biggest ski resort with 26 lifts and 31 runs, is finishing its worst season since the 1980s, with a third of its annual average ski days. According to the Scotsman, climate experts have warned that downhill skiing in the country could end in a generation. To diversify and stay afloat, contractors at Glenshee are making mountain-bike tracks on the hillside to continue attracting outdoor-sport enthusiasts. Stewart Davidson, director of the Glenshee ski center, told the Scotsman, "The bikers will be able to use the chairlifts to get them to the top of the hill and then race down. It will be a great facility for us when it's finished. We need to diversify; there's no way we can rely on our winters."


The 17th Century Golden Temple in Amritsar, once gold, is turning black. In 1999, the Sikh community came together internationally to fund the replacement of hundreds of kilograms of 24-carat pure gold to sheet the entire shrine, originally built in 1604. Officials at the shrine are concerned that the gold is becoming black in some places. The Punjab Pollution Control Board has placed four pollution-monitoring devices in the vicinity of the shrine. One board member thinks the pollution came from hotels, goldsmiths and blacksmiths, and smoke-emitting auto-rickshaws. Devotee Jagir Singh told the Times of India, "They must take emergency steps to save the gold on this magnificent shrine. It involves the emotions of millions of people cutting across all religions. The temple itself is an international monument."


A minor leak in a barge carrying trash from the island of Malaysia to a sanitary landfill is causing problems for fishermen. The boat tilted off balance from the leak and spilled two containers with a combined 34 tons of trash into the sea. Fishermen report they have caught more trash than fish in the last few days. One fisherman complained of itchiness after getting in the water to install his fishing net. The incident is stirring questions over the practice of hauling trash from the island. One proposal is for a facility that separates and processes waste into fertilizer.
Spokesmen from the company responsible for the waste-hauling barge are apologetic and have hired contractors and have a boat with a crane to pick out trash from the water. But the fishermen are still struggling to make enough money with less fish in the water. Musa Chait, one such fisherman, told the
New Straights Times, "We were already facing tough times and the barge incident has only aggravated the situation."

Hadley Robinson

Hadley Robinson is a Gelf contributor and a staff writer for the
Webster Times.

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Article by Hadley Robinson

Hadley Robinson is a Gelf contributor and a staff writer for the
Webster Times.

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