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The Cities This Week: Edition 32




Police officers in riot gear faced off with hundreds of demonstrators in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. (Antonio Lacerda/European Pressphoto Agency)

Police officers in riot gear faced off with hundreds of demonstrators in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday. (Antonio Lacerda/European Pressphoto Agency)

TOKYO

Tokyo has been chosen to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games ahead of Istanbul and Madrid. The Japanese capital won a final round of voting by International Olympic Committee (IOC) members in Buenos Aires to beat Istanbul by 60 votes to 36. Madrid had earlier been eliminated in a first-round ballot. The announcement was met with jubilant scenes in Japan, as Tokyo prepares to host the event for the first time since 1964. When IOC president Jacques Rogge – who will retire after 12 years in the role on Tuesday – announced the winning city, the Tokyo delegation jumped to their feet in celebration and waved the Japan flag. A number of them were overcome with emotion and wept, following two years of intense lobbying.

TUNIS

Tens of thousands of Tunisians have taken to the streets to renew their demands that the Islamist-led government step down and end a political deadlock threatening the North African country’s fledgling democracy. Saturday’s rally was the largest protest since Tunisia’s crisis erupted over the killing of an opposition leader in July, increasing pressure on the ruling Ennahda party to make way for a caretaker government before proposed elections. Waving red and white national flags and pictures of slain opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi, protesters packed streets around a building where a national assembly had been drafting a new constitution until its work was suspended due to unrest. Protesters gathered at Bab Saadoun, on the outskirts of Tunis, before marching to Bardo square, the scene of regular protests after the killing of Brahmi.

BRAZILIAN CITIES

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in dozens of cities across Brazil on Saturday and were dispersed violently by the police while mounting some of the most vigorous expressions of anger with governing institutions since an outburst of antigovernment demonstrations shook the political establishment in June. Still, fewer people turned out in major cities on Saturday than in the earlier wave of mass protests. That broad flare-up of public ire has given way to an array of more fragmented movements, some of which have been struggling in the face of crackdowns by Brazilian security forces. “This whole government only knows how to rob us,” said Naiana Vinuto, 25, a management student among the protesters in Rio de Janeiro, expressing anger about political corruption in different parts of Brazil’s vast public bureaucracy. Police officers in riot gear faced off in Rio’s old center with hundreds of demonstrators, arresting at least 24 people. As in the other cities, the protests here were organized to challenge the military parades commemorating Brazil’s independence.

JOHANNESBURG

“Any remaining power interruptions are not the result of the illegal work stoppage,” City Power spokesperson Sol Masolo said in a statement. But isolated power failures, unrelated to the strike, had not been dealt with yet, Masolo said. A few hundred disgruntled workers downed tools on Wednesday over a new shift structure, which led to widespread power failures. City Power said the new shifts were to improve service delivery. Masolo said regional command centres had been set up to ensure no further tampering of the power network.”The centres have dispatched task teams to depots and improved security across all regions to prevent further tampering.” On Friday, Gauteng community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko said striking workers had “sabotaged” sub-stations around the city which she said amounted to “terrorism”.

LONDON

Never mind the traffic, car owners in London have a new hazard to worry about: A skyscraper whose reflected rays have the power to melt cars. It may sound like science fiction, but it was no joke for Jaguar XJ owner Martin Lindsay, who parked his pricey ride near the under-construction building, officially called 20 Fenchurch Street, but known by many Londoners as the “Walkie Talkie” for its distinctive shape. When he returned to the car, he found some panels warped beyond repair by the beam of light reflected down from the curved side of the landmark glass tower. The developers of the 37-floor building, Canary Wharf and Land Securities, have said they’ll pay for the high-spec vehicle to be fixed.

MOSCOW

People in the Russian capital Moscow are voting in the first mayoral election in nearly a decade. Current mayor Sergei Sobyanin, the Kremlin’s candidate, is being challenged by Alexei Navalny, leader of the national protest movement. Mr Navalny is currently on bail after being found guilty of embezzlement in what he insists was a political trial. Mayoral elections were abolished in 2004 but re-instated as a concession to pro-democracy campaigners. Mr Navalny has run a Western-style campaign, holding informal meetings with voters outside metro stations, and using glossy posters of himself with his family.

CAIRO

A bomb exploded at a Cairo police station on Saturday, causing no injuries, state media reported. In a separate incident, explosives were found on the railway line between the cities of Suez and Ismailia, state news agency MENA news agency said. They were defused by experts. Train traffic on the line was suspended pending an army search of the area, state newspaper Al-Ahram said, quoting an army official. Egypt has been gripped by unrest since the army overthrew the country’s first freely elected president, Islamist Mohamed Morsi, on July 3. The Egyptian interior minister survived an assassination attempt unscathed on Thursday when a car bomb blew up next to his convoy, which he said was the start of a likely wave of violence against the military-installed government.

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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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