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The Cities This Week: Edition 28




Loyalist Protestors converge at Belfast city hall Photo: PA

Loyalist Protestors converge at Belfast city hall Photo: PA

 

BAGHDAD

A series of car bombs in mainly Shi’ite areas of Baghdad has killed 60 people and wounded 140 Iraqi police and medical sources said on Saturday. The nine separate attacks targeted markets and busy shopping streets, the sources said. The bombings, which appeared coordinated, were similar to attacks in Baghdad on Tuesday in which 50 were killed. Attacks have multiplied in Iraq since the start of the year, with more than 1–000 people killed in July, the highest monthly death toll since 2008, according to the United Nations. Sunni Islamist militants have been regaining momentum in their insurgency against the Shi’ite-led government and have been emboldened by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, which has stoked sectarian tensions across the Middle East.

BELFAST

The number of police officers injured during loyalist protests against a republican parade in central Belfast is 56. The police fired 26 plastic bullets and made seven arrests on Friday evening amid sustained rioting in Royal Avenue. Northern Ireland’s Chief Constable Matt Baggott described the violence as “mindless anarchy” and “thuggery”. He praised his officers, saying they had put their lives on the line to protect the rule of law. “I want to, as ever, commend my colleagues for their immense courage last night. I have no doubt whatsoever that they prevented that anarchy from spreading and without that courage, many lives may well have been lost,” Mr Baggott said.

NAIROBI

Kenya ruled out terrorism after a blaze left its main airport in charred ruins this week, describing the incident as a “simple fire gone bad.” There were no reports of casualties in the Wednesday blaze at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The fire destroyed large parts of the international terminal and brought East Africa’s largest aviation hub to a standstill. It occurred on the 15th anniversary of the near-simultaneous terrorist attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which left 224 people dead and thousands injured. The nation’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said the blaze was not an act of terror.

CAPE TOWN

In Cape Town, the Philippi Horticultural Area, a major source of employment and food security is under threat from encroaching development. Future Cape Town’s Brett Petzer analyses the city’s about-face on supporting development in the area. The fight for better cities is seldom as clearly defined as when water and food are at stake. Yet access to both hangs in the balance at the Philippi Horticultural Area – 3074ha of fertile land that has been the city’s breadbasket since the 19th century. This single block of land, tilled for decades, provides employment and food security in a drying and warming climate, as well as a large, strategic reserve aquifer unique in the Western Cape. Above all, though, the PHA – as a source of sustenance in close proximity to 3 million people – is an end product that other cities of the global South are desperately experimenting to create against the clock of climate change, rapid urbanisation and rising sea levels.

LONDON

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched a probe into the Home Office’s illegal immigration van campaign after it received complaints. Last month the Home Office caused outrage after it drove a van around London with a large billboard telling illegal immigrants to “go home or face arrest”. On Friday the ASA announced there had been 60 complaints about the government campaign. Dubbed the ‘racist van’ for its uncompromising message, the campaign sparked a huge backlash, with criticism coming from senior Liberal Democrats, as well as Nigel Farage. According to the ASA complainants have expressed concerns that the ad, in particular the phrase “go home”, is offensive and irresponsible because it is reminiscent of slogans used by racist groups to attack immigrants in the past and could incite or exacerbate racial hatred and tensions in multicultural communities.

NEW YORK CITY

Oftentimes, public discussion of taxes is divorced from the reality that this money actually pays for stuff: schools, bridges, roads, etc. The act of paying taxes feels like a personal burden. But tax money is generally spent for the collective good. Lest New York State tax scofflaws forget this fact, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a pretty brilliant new enforcement scheme this week: Residents owing the state more than $10,000 in back taxes may soon have their driver’s licenses suspended. The logic? “By enacting these additional consequences,” Cuomo said in a statement, “we’re providing additional incentives for the state to receive the money it is owed and we’re keeping scofflaws off the very roads they refuse to pay their fair share to maintain.”

CAIRO

Thousands of supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi are continuing to protest in Cairo, despite warnings of a military crackdown. The protesters held sit-in protests on Saturday, despite repeated warning from the interim government that it would clear all sit-in demonsrtations. However, it had yet to give a deadline on the action. Meanwhile, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was deeply concerned about the crisis and called on all sides to urgently reconsider their actions and language. Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said that statements by the interim government and pro-Morsi supporters indicated that neither side was willing to compromise to break the deadlock.

SOUTH AFRICAN CITIES

Policies and funding levels imposed by the national government are undermining local government efforts to remain solvent, city managers said on Wednesday. Releasing the 2013 report on the state of city finances, managers said rapid urbanisation of the poor, and economic stagnation meant that a growing number of households could not pay for increasingly expensive municipal services. This meant the councils themselves were likely to find themselves in debt, SA Cities Network CEO Sithole Mbanga told reporters in Cape Town. Mbanga said municipalities were therefore obliged to find alternative sources of revenue, but would not survive without more help from the National Treasury.

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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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