2023年1月12日 星期四

Deadly Disaster Turns Italy’s Focus to Illegal Construction 土石流重創義度假小島 違建引發全國關注

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2023/01/13 第417期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 Deadly Disaster Turns Italy's Focus to Illegal Construction 土石流重創義度假小島 違建引發全國關注
Senate Report Faults U.S. Response to Pandemic 美參院報告:政府系統性問題阻礙應對疫情
Deadly Disaster Turns Italy's Focus to Illegal Construction 土石流重創義度假小島 違建引發全國關注
文/Gaia Pianigiani

土石流重創義度假小島 違建引發全國關注

A bulldozer paused and everything went silent in the night as a firefighter, spotting a pink sweater in a generator's light, reached into the mud-caked debris. This time, it was only a sweater.


Torrential rains last weekend sent a powerful landslide plowing through Casamicciola Terme, a port town on the southern Italian island of Ischia, killing 12 residents — including a newborn baby and two small children — and washing away houses and burying streets. This past week, rescue workers and volunteers continued to dig for survivors and to unearth the town from thick rivers of mud.


But as some evacuees came back to search for their belongings, many felt an unwelcome scrutiny from a nation that was asking whether the island's abundance of illegally constructed houses had increased the vulnerability of a town that sits in a geologically fragile zone across the bay from Naples.


Authorities have not clarified which buildings, if any, may have been illegally built. But a series of amnesties over decades from various Italian governments may have rendered most of them legal in any case. That has set off hand-wringing among politicians, including the far-right party of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and a bitter round of finger pointing over who was to blame.


"We have no zoning plan since the 1960s," Vincenzo Capuano, 64, a town resident, said as friends emptied his basement of mud one bucket at a time. "Politicians have never decided where residents can build here. There is no way to build legally."


Illegal construction has blighted Italy's coastlines, hilly landscapes and cities, but the practice is especially endemic in the poorer southern regions, including Campania. On Ischia, an island of 63,000 famous for its thermal baths, 27,000 requests for amnesty on illegal works are pending, from altered windows to entire homes.


Italy has a long history of condoning these illegal constructions, and the anticipation that another amnesty will always arrive has prompted offenders to keep building illegally, marring some of the country's most pristine beaches with shoddy, and unsightly, homes.


On the night of the landslide, mud pounded Via Celario and Via Santa Barbara, the most damaged residential streets, washing away about 10 homes. Within them, four children slept. The youngest, a 22-day-old infant, was found dead in his dead mother's arms.


Senate Report Faults U.S. Response to Pandemic 美參院報告:政府系統性問題阻礙應對疫情
文/Sheryl Gay Stolberg


A new examination by Senate Democrats of how the federal government bungled its early response to the coronavirus pandemic faults President Donald Trump and his administration for numerous missteps while also laying blame on "multiple systemic problems" that long predated his time in office.


The 241-page report was produced by the Democratic staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The report relied on documents and interviews with key Trump administration officials, including Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, who served as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Many issues covered in the report, such as serious problems with data collection and insufficient testing capacity, had already been explored by news organizations, but the study painted a sweeping portrait of a government that was wholly unprepared for the arrival of a deadly new pathogen.


The report cited inadequate funding, supply chain vulnerabilities, overlapping government roles and other problems that it said "have been flagged by experts and oversight agencies for years, yet have been largely overlooked by all branches of the federal government."


It found, for example, that a public health emergency fund created to support state and local health systems had received no new appropriations since 1999 and had been "virtually empty" since 2012.


While the federal preparedness apparatus had been in place for decades, the report noted that planning from 2005 through 2019 had been "narrowly focused on influenza and failed to adequately incorporate other potential infectious disease threats."


The Senate homeland security committee's analysis was narrow in scope. It focused on the chaotic first few months of the pandemic, after the coronavirus was first identified in China in December 2019. At the beginning of the outbreak, the United States "failed to heed critical public warnings that foreshadowed the severity and transmissibility of the virus," the report said.


As the crisis unfolded, the report said, the White House barred the CDC from holding news briefings. Though experts repeatedly recommended the use of face masks, the administration did not formally do so until April 3, 2020 — and even then, Trump declined to wear one. He also insisted the virus would disappear.




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