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The destruction of our capital’s beauty

Simon Jenkins

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The Guardian

London is facing a threat to rival the Blitz, said Simon Jenkins in the London Guardian. To feed his “edifice complex,” Mayor Ken Livingstone has rashly approved permits for 40 hideous new skyscrapers. These buildings will serve no vital function; they are mostly offices and luxury condos. Their monstrous towers, of no architectural merit whatsoever, “will be visible from every open space and down every street.” One particularly ugly apartment building, just down from Waterloo Bridge, “will thrust itself into every London vista from the Embankment and the Thames bridges to Trafalgar Square and St. James’ Park.” East and west of the Tate Modern gallery, office buildings will “render the banks of the Thames a wall of glass.” If you’re surprised, you should be: There has been “no public debate” about these enormous injuries to one of the world’s great cities. Unlike Paris, Rome, and “even capitalist New York,” London lacks zoning laws that require public input on major changes to the skyline. “A private citizen must adhere to restrictions on his windows, basements, or skylights, but a developer with a deep pocket and access to Livingstone can potentially build anything he likes.” So tourists, get out your cameras now. Your view will soon be blocked.

Why the pope keeps snubbing Condi

Massimo Franco

Corriere della Sera

Pope Benedict XVI does not want to see Condoleezza Rice, said Massimo Franco in the Milan Corriere della Sera. Multiple times over the summer, the U.S. secretary of state asked for an audience with the pope to discuss the crisis in the Middle East. Each time she inquired, she got the same response, “The pope is on vacation.” Some Vatican watchers say the snub is meant to underline the Holy See’s opposition to U.S. policy in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Iran. The Vatican thinks the U.S. has done too little to protect religious minorities—notably Christians—in Iraq. And it has been vocal in its opposition to any attack on Iran. But insiders say the real problem may be Rice herself. In 2003, when she was Bush’s national security advisor, Rice was snippy in her response to Vatican opposition to the Iraq invasion. When papal envoy Cardinal Pio Laghi visited Washington to make a plea for peace, Rice was downright cold to him. “It’s clear that this discourtesy has not been forgotten.”

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