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In the papers today: 29.01.08

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Beijing has unveiled the first of its showpiece Olympic venues, reports the Telegraph, and mighty impressive it is too.

PTW and Arup's 'Water Cube' swimming pool complex is covered in a blue bubble-effect translucent membrane and features three pools. What Chinese authorities are rather less keen to publicise is that it cost 1.03 billion yuan (£72 million) and that six construction workers have been killed on the Olympic sites. (This is only the official figure, the Telegraph revealingly reports that Ding Zhenkuan, deputy chief of the Beijing Bureau of Works, only admitted this figure after being 'cornered'.)

Skyscrapers are set to spring up all over London and Simon Jenkins, writing in the Evening Standard, ain't happy. He takes the opportunity to batter Ken Livingstone, the Standard's current bete noire, citing the mayor's 'zest to Manhattanise London'. '[London] has vanished before the great god vulgarity', Jenkins blusters.

His colleagues on the Evening Standard had better not tell him about the plans to turn Southend Airport into London's sixth commercial airport then. The paper reports that a £100 million buyout of the airport combined with the blessing of the town council could see it expand to handle 2 million passengers a year by 2010.

And maybe Simon ought not to read The Times today, which carries a report of the shortlist for the £2 million commission to build 'the South's anwer to The Angel of the North', to be visible from Ebbsfleet International Station in Kent. Among the artists vying for the job are master plaster caster Rachel Whiteread and Turner Prize-winner Mark Wallinger, whose most celebrated work saw him wander around Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie at night dressed in a bear suit.

And there's bad news up in the Capital of Culture, with the Guardian reporting that the financial mismanagement at Liverpool Council is the worst of any local authority in England. Exactly how much did it cost to winch Ringo Starr up on to that roof then? Bring back Derek Hatton, that's what we say…

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