Friday, September 22, 2006

The Way Things Go

Some time ago, that great and good man Lawrence Summers described the developing world as underpolluted:

I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.
New Scientist describes some results of this impeccable logic:
[P]oison-laden electronics and asbestos-ridden ships continue to be dumped in poor countries. In the Ivory Coast, where riots have broken out and the governing coalition has resigned as a result of the dumping, the final victim might be the country's fragile peace process.
Meanwhile, Subtopia describes carceral urbanism in Padua, Italy, where thousands of African immigrants have been confined in a housing estate:
Padua has become a crime ridden urban battlezone between rival gangs, drug dealers, and populations of migrants who still lack the ability to work in Italy legally, to vote, and are essentially lost in an endless line waiting for some form of national legalization.

So, instead of critically re-examining the neccessary legal mechanisms for managing the multi-ethnic fabric of a modern Padua society, officials, in just a few hours, erected a msssive steel wall at the outskirts of Padua, to further isolate the ghettosphere of the Serenissima housing estate from nearby residents who felt threatened by an atmosphere of constant violence. Described as "a large and ugly barrier stretching for 84 metres, three metres high and made of thick steel panels, there is a police checkpoint at the entrance as well as CCTV cameras."
These are snapshots. Tom Philpott brilliantly describes a larger narrative into which they might conceivably fit.

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