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The Cities This Week: Edition 54




Source:  Ivan Sekretarev/AP

Performers create the Olympic rings during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Source: Ivan Sekretarev/AP

CARACAS

“Venezuelan police and opposition demonstrators have clashed at the end of a march that gathered tens of thousands of people in Caracas. Several people were injured, as police fired tear gas and activists hurled stones in the Altamira district. Supporters of left-wing President Nicolas Maduro marched in central Caracas and other cities. Ten people have now died in nearly two weeks of protests, which Mr Maduro has called a coup attempt. He says the violence is part of a strategy devised by right-wing groups, with the support of the US, to destabilise his government. “We have a strong democracy. What we don’t have in Venezuela is a democratic opposition,” Mr Maduro told thousands of his supporters in Caracas. Mr Maduro was elected last April, following the death of Hugo Chavez, who was in office for 14 years.” – BBC News

PARIS

What’s the best way to spruce up Paris’s image? Could it be to float huge swimming pool tanks on the Seine? Or build a garden bridge across the river, linking green banks to form a Central Park a la française? How about burying the Boulevard Péripherique beltway underground, or turning abandoned metro stations into cinemas and nightclubs? These plans are in fact all serious proposals put forward by this year’s candidates to be the next mayor of Paris. Paris mayoral elections arrive at the end of March, and the top contenders are currently trying to outdo each other with proposals to transform the city in the splashiest, most headline-grabbing way possible. The most viable (aka the cheapest) plan comes from Socialist Party candidate Anne Hidalgo – she’s currently ahead, at 54 to 46 percent in the polls, against the rival she’ll probably face in a March 30 run-off.” – Atlantic Cities 

LONDON

A London Assembly Labour report published today reveals the scale of food bank use in London and calls for free school meals for children in the capital. In 2011-12 there were 12,839 visits to Trussell Trust food banks in London. This has increased to 63,367 in the first nine months of 2014 — including 24,500 children. The report, Free School Meals – The London Cost of Living, also says that 66% of Londoners support the introduction of free healthy school meals for all primary school children. Food poverty is exacerbated in London, where a high cost of living and spiralling housing costs meet low wages and benefit caps.” – Londonist

SOCHI

“His ice hockey team failed to follow the script. But just about everything else went to plan for a watching Vladimir Putin as Russia celebrated a rush of medals in Sochi with a triumphant closing ceremony on the shores of the Black Sea. After spending $51bn (£31bn) to build a mountain ski resort and a cluster of shimmering sports venues from scratch – not to mention the roads and railways to link them – failure was not an option for the omnipresent Russian president. At the opening ceremony a fortnight ago, all the talk was of security fears, culls of stray dogs, last-minute glitches and a giant hydraulic snowflake that failed to open.” – The Guardian

LAGOS

“Petroleum industry officials yesterday blamed the worsening fuel scarcity  across the Lagos metropolis on the recent oil spill at the Ijegun area of the state. The spill had   flooded over 300 houses in the area, forcing the officials of the  Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC)  to lock the valve so as to forestall further spill. The arising shortfall in the supply of the product had triggered a wave of scarcity, making many to embark on panic buying of the product. The spill was as a result of a ruptured Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline which released many litres of petrol into the streets of Ijegun Imore behind Navy Town and Statellite Town, Lagos. The spokesperson, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), South-west zone, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said the incident would have been a huge disaster if the residents had gone to scoop the free-flowing fuel.” – This Day Live

CAPE TOWN

The City of Cape Town has its work cut out to sell its proposed new logo after it came under fire from politicians and critics. There have been calls for the Public Protector to investigate the costs of the rebranding exercise, and citizens have vented their anger at the dumping of the old “This City Works For You” tagline and Table Mountain logo. A source close to the rebranding process said the city had “wanted something fresh and new because Cape Town had made such great progress in recent years”.” – IOL

JOHANNESBURG

The City of Johannesburg plans to connect the community of Diepsloot to Randburg, which forms part of greater Johannesburg, through its bus rapid transit (BRT) system. This was announced by mayor Parks Tau during a community meeting at the Diepsloot Methodist Church on Tuesday. Mr Tau said the aim was to link Diepsloot with Randburg via Fourways through the BRT system before the end of the year. Currently, Diepsloot residents use taxis to commute to Randburg, Sandton and the Johannesburg central business district at a cost of at least R11 in each direction. The details of the BRT route have not yet been finalised.” – BDLive

KIEV

Parliament in Ukraine has named its speaker as interim president. Oleksandr Turchynov takes charge following the dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday. Mr Turchynov told MPs they had until Tuesday to form a new unity government. Later, in a TV address, Mr Turchynov suggested Ukraine would re-open talks with the EU about closer links. Thousands of opposition supporters remain in Kiev’s Independence Square, heeding opposition calls not to disperse. The health ministry says 88 people, mostly protesters, are now known to have been killed in clashes since 18 February.” – BBC News

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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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