This much scrutiny for a strip of tarmac? That’s democracy | Rafael Behr
The Heathrow runway debate is a rebuttal to conspiracy theories that insist politicians are in hock to corporate interests
Central Riga is one of the architectural charms of Europe – a cobbled medieval labyrinth enclosed in a belt of art nouveau houses. But during the mid-1970s, when Latvia was a Soviet republic, the skyline was blighted by a multi-storey concrete shell that became, after many delays, the Intourist hotel.
This eyesore was the subject of a local joke: a tour guide is showing a group of westerners around the city. One asks about the monstrosity looming over the city and is told the truth. “It’s a hotel that they’ve been building for years.” This being the USSR, there is a KGB informant in the group. He upbraids the guide: “Comrade, you have cast aspersions on the efficiency of Soviet industry. Don’t let it happen again!” Sure enough, on the next tour, the same question comes up. “What is that concrete tower?” asks one of the tourists. “I have no idea,” replies the guide. “It wasn’t there yesterday.”
If built, this will be the most-scrutinised strip of tarmac in the world
Source: Guardian Transport