Monday, March 07, 2011

did arson destroy the shantytown?

The fire that roared through Garib Nagar on Friday, rendering slumdog millionaire star Rubina Ali and 750 of her neighbors homeless, may have been deliberately set, United News of India reports. The mostly-Muslim shantytown was adjacent to the Bandra train station along the Western Express Railway.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

the opportunity tower

In Caracas, squatters have taken over an uncompleted office tower that was designed to have a helipad on the roof. The squatters first invaded the structure in 2007, and The New York Times reports that the 45-story building has over time become a vertical community, with stores scattered throughout the edifice.

A beauty salon operates on one floor. On another, an unlicensed dentist applies the brightly colored braces that are the rage in Caracas street fashion. Almost every floor has a small bodega. Julieth Tilano, 26, lives inside a small shop on the seventh floor with her husband and in-laws. They sell everything from plantains to Pepsi and Belmont cigarettes. Her husband, Humberto Hidalgo, 23, has a side business in which he charges children from the skyscraper 50 cents per half-hour to play PlayStation games on the four television sets in the family’s living room. “There’s opportunity in this tower,” said Mr. Hidalgo, who immigrated here last year from Valledupar, Colombia.
As the BBC has reported, the housing shortage is so severe in the Venezuelan capital that homeless families have taken over portions of the still operating Foreign Ministry building.