Vorwärts zahlen

Paying it forward.

A retired U.N. negotiator said, on Australian radio, that he was once asked, “Why do you care what happens to people who aren’t from your tribe?”

He answered, carefully, “What if twenty years from now your son can save the life of my son?

“To do that, you and I would have to stay in contact, yes, and I would do everything I can now to help that happen twenty years from now.”

(FOUR verts   TSALL en.)

Reibach, Rebbach

Profit.

After international news showed architect’s drawings of the thoughtless shopping center scheduled to replace one of Istanbul’s last green parks, people outside Turkey started wondering how much excess power the country’s developers might be exercising over the country’s democratic processes. And if developers could pull such strings, who else could?

Now a recent kerfuffle has exposed that the state might be one of the developers.

Last week Istanbul police made dawn arrests to bring in for questioning “scores” of people who included three sons of Erdoğan ministers, an Erdoğan-party mayor, three “lions of construction,” “the general manager of Turkey’s largest housing developer, the partly state-owned Emlak Konut GYO” and the boss of a government-owned bank; one of the construction tycoons “recently made headlines with controversial mega-projects and works for the notoriously opaque state housing agency (Toki),” according to the Guardian. At the time of the arrests, the accusations in the air were wild and wonderful: hoarding millions in shoeboxes, bribery, building illegally, illegally converting nature preserves into development land, money laundering, “dubious gold deals with Iran,” reported Süddeutsche.de.

Less than a day later, the heads of five Istanbul police departments involved in the arrests, which Süddeutsche.de described as an “anti-corruption fishing expedition,” had lost their jobs. The decapitated police departments included Financial Crimes, Organized Crime and Smuggling units, and the unsonned cabinet ministers were Interior, Economics and Environment & City Planning, according to the Guardian.

Süddeutsche.de said Gezi Park protesters had always claimed that large construction projects in Istanbul were corrupt and used to make “the big Reibach.” If you had connections to Mr. Erdoğan’s conservative-religious AKP (“Party for Justice and Development”).

The arrests and police firings may have been an outward symptom of a fight for influence between Mr. Erdoğan’s associates and the associates of a Turkish cleric named Fethullah Gülen, “who directs an international religious community from his U.S. exile,” warned Süddeutsche.de. The two religious groups used to “dominate” Mr. Erdoğan’s ruling conservative-religious AK party. Mr. Gülen could help persuade voters, while Mr. Erdoğan could protect Mr. Gülen’s business interests, wrote Spiegel.de, which included media outlets, a bank, schools and training centers that have helped millions of high school students pass college entrance exams (“repetitories” in German, dershane in Turkish). In any case, the increased international attention on Turkish news and better information about Turkish politics and business is welcome.

The strange variety in the accusations against the arrestees might make more sense were they to indicate pieces of networks once used for circumventing the old embargoes against Iran:

“The flight into conspiracy theories doesn’t change the fact that it still must be clarified whether the manager of the state-owned Halkbank helped an Iranian businessman with money laundering, with the sons of the Interior and Economy Ministers allegedly assisting in various ways. Washington [D.C.] people had been taking negative notice for some time of the fact that Turkey was using detour routes to pay for its gas and oil deliveries from Iran ever since sanctions had excluded Teheran from the interbank system. Again and again, couriers with suitcases full of gold were spotted in the Istanbul airport. That’s why it’s remarkable that Ankara people are denying they knew anything about these questionable activities, long ago.” –Süddeutsche.de article

“Suitcases full of gold” must be a metaphor in the Turkish press.

Update on 22 Dec 2013: Mr. Erdoğan has now fired 70 top police and justice officials. He might be not only firing them but having some arrested as well.

FAZ.net concluded its update with an assessment of Mr. Erdoğan’s current situation:

“[Mr.] Erdoğan, who has held this office since March 2003, has taken a hit. Presumably he would still win any election that took place now. But the once-charismatic prime minister has turned into a table-thumping/blustering choleric. For him, democracy means having elections; liberal values such as protecting minorities are not part of his idea of democracy. More and more people are objecting to the fact that [Mr.] Erdoğan is acting as the nation’s morals police, who wants to tell people what to eat and how many children to have. He’s lost from view the fact that the AKP, which has been ruling without a coalition partner since 2002, owes its rise among other things to the image of being a ‘clean party.’ The kemalist parties that ruled Turkey until 2002 were voted out of office for, among other things, corrupt business practices that drove Turkey to the edge of bankruptcy in 2001. In recent years, corruption around [Mr.] Erdoğan has begun spreading like a cancer again. The Gülen movement is ‘clean’ though, says [Mr.] Arinc. The Erdoğan vs. Gülen war will continue.”

Update on 24 Dec 2013: Spiegel.de wrote that Mr. Erdoğan has threatened to break the hands of troublemakers and that more journalists were imprisoned in Turkey than in any other country.

Update on 07 Jan 2013: Last night Mr. Erdoğan fired hundreds of police, 350 in Ankara alone, according to the Dogan press agency and CNN Turk, said Süddeutsche.de. Those relieved of their duties included police officers and 80 higher-ranked officials in the divisions of Financial Crimes, Organized Crime and the anti-smuggling authority.

Update on 08 Jan 2013: Mr. Erdoğan removed from their posts Turkey’s deputy police chief and the police chiefs of 15 provinces, including the capital city of Ankara. On Tuesday night his party submitted draft legislation to give the government more power in naming judges and prosecutors. The E.U. commission is concerned, the Financial Times said, “that government moves to remove, reassign and fire police officers and investigators ‘could undermine the current investigations and capacity of the judiciary and the police to investigate matters in an independent manner'” in Turkey.

(RYE bochh,   rebb ochh.)

Baubeginn

“Start of construction,” on 10 May 2013 for the world’s biggest solar energy plant so far, at the edge of the Sahara desert in Morocco. Electricity from this plant will eventually be exported to Europe, among other places. The plant should be operational in late 2015. Morocco plans to build five other solar power plants by 2020, for a total output of 2000 MW.

Dii (Desertec industrial initiative), the group behind this 700-million-euro, 160-MW project, is an international nonprofit that helps plan MENA solar energy projects and is headquartered in Munich. The first Desertec project to be built, this Ouarzazate plant was cofinanced by the German government via the KfW development bank group (“credit institution for reconstruction” created as part of the Marshall Plan after WWII and now owned 80% by the German government).

Germany is maneuvering to meet its Energiewende goal of getting ~20% of its electricity from solar power plants in Africa and the Middle East by 2050.

Update on 01 Jul 2013: Temporary setback. The Desertec foundation, cofounder of Dii GmBH, has exited the 20-member public-private initiative effective immediately. The foundation owns the rights to the Desertec name, so this could mean a name change. Süddeutsche Zeitung reported the foundation was unhappy with the industrial consortium’s performance and the F.A.Z. reported “differences of opinion about strategy.”

(B OW! begin.)

Baumängel

“Construction deficiencies.” The factory building that recently collapsed in Bangladesh, in which thousands of people were working despite cracks in the walls having been spotted the day before, had insufficient steel in its framework, insufficient cement in its concrete, and whoever was responsible had added three extra stories to the number of floors allowed on its construction permit.

There were reports that, after the cracks were spotted, fire inspectors closed the building. But factory owners ignored them and ordered people in to work the next day.

(B OW! main gell.)

Brunsbüttelsche Schleusenschienen

“Brunsbüttel lock rails.” The world’s busiest artificial canal is said to be the Kiel Canal from Brünsbuttel to Kiel that allows ships to bypass Denmark. The canal was first built from 1887 to 1895, though many of the key components still in use were completed later, just in time for WWI. Brunsbüttel’s hundred-year-old lock gates urgently need repair, probably rapid replacement in fact, but this is difficult due to heavy traffic on the canal, the scale of the project and the fact that the work has had to be done underwater by divers at visibility of 1–2 cm. The locks’ sliding gates (Schleusentore) are hung from steel rails (Stahlschienen) and driven by toothed gears and chains on concrete and steel grooves installed on the ocean floor. These rails and grooves urgently need to be fixed and don’t always work well anyway as ship propellors and other excrescences can knock the gates out of place. The Brunsbüttel locks were closed, drained and fixed for a week this winter, forcing ships to take the 800 km-longer route around Denmark from the North Sea to the Baltic, but much more needs to be done. The canal has two locks at either end, and a fifth lock is planned to be built in Brunsbüttel to keep the canal open during repairs.

(BROONZ en bütt ellll scheh   SHLOYZ en sheen en.)

Besichtigungsbauwerk

“Structure built for viewing purposes.”

Investigations are still ongoing into the March 2009 collapse of the Cologne city archive, though it’s pretty clear that subway tunnel work caused the tragedy. The five-year statute of limitations will expire in only one year. Engineers and the district attorney are now working together to find out how exactly what occurred, including building a fascinating “viewing structure,” 30 meters deep, into the relevant subway support walls and possibly shifting soil layers. Which is good inter alia because the massive stone walls of Cologne’s 800-year-old cathedral, one of the world’s few ships of time, which were strong enough to survive WWII bombing may be being damaged by vibrations from a new subway tunnel that went into operation in December 2012.

Update on 18 Jan 2014: Cologne prosecutors filed charges against ~100 people, including employees of the office responsible for the project, Cologne Transport Services [Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe, KVB], and of three construction companies and one subcontractor firm, who were working as inspectors, planners, “projecters” and construction workers.

The Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger said the scenario currently favored by prosecutors for causing the collapse of Germany’s most important municipal archive is that there was a hole in the wall of the subway tunnel under construction, through which water continuously got into the tunnel, creating a hole between the tunnel and the historical archive.

Two people died in the collapse. Ultimately, about 95% of the (unique, irreplaceable) historical documents kept in the archive were recovered from the wet sinkhole, Spiegel.de reported, but it is estimated that it will take about forty years to restore them. The Cologne archive had ~30 kilometers of shelves. About 60,000 of the recovered Cologne documents have been distributed to multiple archives in Germany for restoration and digitization.

Update on 24 Feb 2014: Charges have been filed, but it may take years for the trial to start as engineering investigations continue. Spiegel.de said they’re now focussed on “lamella 11” in an underground “huge construction” called a “slotted wall” or “slurry wall” [Schlitzwand]. After a sudden flood of water bursting in from underneath was ruled out by an expert [a so-called hydraulischer Grundbruch], the current scenario is that lamella 11 may have been damaged during final tunneling work, “but although the foreman should have noticed it no notification was made to construction management” because, it is assumed, they wanted to be done. There was serious cost pressure to finish, among other pressures. In this scenario the records documenting the work may also have been manipulated shortly thereafter. Divers are now using the Besichtigungsbauwerk to search for more evidence, presumably contending with even more interesting pressure differentials as Seattlites discovered after the breakdown of our giant tunneling machine in December 2013.

(Beh ZICHH tee goongs BOW verk.)

“Denk mal nach”

Means both “monument afterward” and the more obvious “give it some thought (for once).” Scrawled in chalk on the pavement at the protests before the largest remaining piece of the Berlin Wall, sections of which are to be torn down to create accessways to new luxury apartment buildings in the former “killing zone.” Berliners were very upset at destruction of this last, art-covered piece of the Wall; they protested and the teardown was temporarily halted after removal of one section. At the protest, the handmade signs, chalk graffiti and interview comments of artists and demonstraters were excellent. Protesters also created and painted a replacement section out of Styrofoam to fill the new hole.

(Dengk moll nochh.)

Baulöwe

“Construction lion.” A building magnate.

(Bow LÖV eh.)

Bausoll

Though this word looks like it might mean “obligation to build” it’s actually a “construction targets” document describing precisely what has to be done in a construction project, documents apparently neglected in three prestige enterprises recently gone awry in Germany: the Elbphilharmonie riverfront concert hall in Hamburg, the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport, and the expansion of the Stuttgart train station underground (“Stuttgart 21”). ZDF heute journal reported part of the systemic problem is that responsible parties include politicians, absent in 15 to 20 years when the project finishes, who absolutely want to build the shiny thing and construction firms that absolutely want to obtain the building contracts without, apparently, feeling constrained to submit realistic bids. Also, planners’ fees apparently are a percentage of the project’s ultimate cost?

(BOW zollll.)

Baufachfrau

A woman who has expertise in the construction industry. This includes craftswomen and engineers.

Ideentischlerei

BAUFACHFRAU e.V. is an education nonprofit for women builders in Berlin, and Ideentischlerei is their interesting idea of “ideas cabinet-making” or “ideas joinery.” Tischler, the German word we translate as “cabinet maker,” actually means “table maker,” so the word also carries the association of sharing ideas across a table.

(Ee DAY en TISH ler eye.)

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