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The Cities This Week: Edition 27




Rome has begun a traffic ban to protect ancient glories from modern perils, allowing only buses, taxis, bicycles and pedestrians to go down the boulevard that runs between the Roman forums and curves around the Colosseum.  Photo: PA

Rome has begun a traffic ban to protect ancient glories from modern perils, allowing only buses, taxis, bicycles and pedestrians to go down the boulevard that runs between the Roman forums and curves around the Colosseum. Photo: PA

SAN DIEGO

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is facing yet another lawsuit, this time from his own city. San Diego is suing its mayor for the costs incurred as a result of the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by his former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, according to the Los Angeles Times. On Tuesday, the San Diego City Council decided unanimously to file the lawsuit during a closed-door session. McCormack Jackson sued Filner for sexual harassment last week, becoming the first of a series of women to come forward publicly to accuse Filner of harassment. Following the allegations and a chorus of calls for his resignation, Filner announced Friday that he would be taking two weeks to undergo intensive therapy starting Aug. 5. However, he has said that he will not resign.

TAIPEI

Tens of thousands of people have rallied in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, to protest against the treatment of a young army conscript who died after being punished for misconduct. Some 18 army officers, including a major-general, have already been charged in connection with the case. The defence minister has also resigned. Hung Chung-chiu, 24, was only three days away from completing his military service when he died of organ failure brought on by heatstroke. Corporal Hung had been held in solitary confinement for bringing a mobile phone with built-in camera onto his military base – and was then subjected to arduous punishment exercises in the hot sun. His death has generated outrage across Taiwan and damaged the standing of the army, which is already struggling to find enough volunteers as it tries to phase out conscription, says the BBC’s Charles Scanlon.

SANA’A

A U.S. global travel alert remained in place Saturday amid fears that al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in coming weeks. The threat prompted the United States to announce that 22 embassies and consulates will be closed on Sunday, including in Yemen, which was a focus of concern. On Saturday, the security around the U.S. embassy in Yemen was even tighter than last year when the embassy was raided by protesters. At least 12 tanks were stationed within 500 meters of the building. Hundreds of additional security forces were deployed, and roads leading to the embassy were closed. Checkpoints were set up at a distance from the embassy, and trucks weren’t allowed to pass anywhere near the main embassy road.

CAPE TOWN

Cape Town’s poo protesters have vowed to continue dumping human waste at state institutions in protest of portable toilets installed in their homes. The court postponed the poo-flingers’ case on Friday to October for further investigation. The prosecutors and defence lawyers called for the postponement because they wanted to consolidate the different cases of poo dumping into one so that they could have a single trial, as the cases mostly involve the same suspects. This would also avoid unnecessary state expenditure. The 183 people who were arrested at the Esplanade train station in Woodstock with bags of human excrement in a train en route Cape Town in June appeared at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Friday. The group was arrested a week after three ANC members: a councillor in the City of Cape Town councillor, Loyiso Nkohla, a former councillor Andile Lili and Themba Mbanjwa dumped faeces on the steps of the Western Cape Legislature. Also in,

CAPE TOWN

The country’s commuter railway operator and the City of Cape Town are in talks to open a rail link between the airport and the city, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) told MPs on Tuesday. Creating links to cities from both the Cape Town International Airport and the King Shaka International Airport in Durban would be priorities for the next few years, Prasa CEO Lucky Montana told Parliament’s public services select committee. The process for the Cape Town link was at a more advanced stage than the newer King Shaka Airport.

ISTANBUL

Turkish riot police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at hundreds of anti-government protesters in Istanbul, injuring at least 10 people, including three journalists. Dozens were arrested on Saturday in fresh protests which broke out near Taksim square, the epicentre of the violent demonstrations that disrupted the country in June. Some 300 protesters gathered early in the evening in support of the Gezi protest movement. “Together against fascism” the protesters shouted  amid heavy security. Protest flashpoints Taksim square and Gezi park were closed to the  public on Saturday. The demonstration follows another violent protest on Wednesday night in a resurgence of the anti-government rallies which swept Turkey in June.

ROME

The mayor of Rome’s plan to close the roads surrounding the Colosseum to traffic was met with both celebrations and angry protests over the weekend. An estimated 100,000 people gathered for an all-night street party on Saturday to celebrate one of the first initiatives of newly-elected mayor, Ignazio Marino, who wants to cut pollution in the city. However, they were joined by Rome residents protesting about the closure of the route, immortalised by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s scooter ride in the 1953 film Roman Holiday, stating the move would lead to major traffic jams elsewhere in the Eternal City. “It’s madness,” said one woman who could not return to her home near the Colosseum. Shopkeepers said the traffic diversion will be disastrous for business.

Los Angeles

Signaling he intends to focus on creating a more environmentally-friendly Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti Friday named Global Green USA CEO Matt Petersen as the city’s first Chief Sustainability Officer. “I am proud to have him lead my citywide effort to make every neighborhood healthier, create green jobs, and hold every city department responsible for cleaner air and water,” Garcetti said in a statement. Since 1994, Petersen has led Santa Monica-based Global Green USA. It is the American affiliate of Green Cross International, which was founded by former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev to “foster a global value shift toward a sustainable and secure future,” according to the group’s website. Petersen, 46, has worked to create greener cities and advance solar energy and fuel-efficient car markets, according to the mayor’s office. In 2008, Time Magazine recognized him for helping New Orleans rebuild a greener community after Hurricane Katrina.

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Melissa Meyer

Future Cape Town London-based correspondent

Urbanist-in-training from Cape Town, currently working in London. MSc City Design & Social Science.

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