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In the papers today: 21.01.08

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Welcome to Blue Monday, officially the most depressing day of the year, says the Daily Mail, when Christmas debts, failed New Year's resolutions and the dreary weather result in the highest number of suicides all year.

Even the London skyline is feeling a little low, says the Guardian, no doubt because a key backer of Renzo Piano's Shard of Glass tower has pulled out amid fears of a commercial property crash. Speculation is that other plans for mighty towers may also be scuppered in the wake of property funds being frozen (Scottish Equitable) and shock profit warnings issued (New Star Asset Management). The Guardian posits that a fall in commercial property could be ‘bad news for homeowners’ too (and architects, perhaps?) as a lack of confidence in one sector is bad for business in another.

Could the winter doldrums be getting Bob Geldof down too? This would explain his rant against the town of Margate, Kent. According to the Independent, Geldof wrote about the ‘ugliness of Margate’ in a newsletter sent to every resident in the county. According to the article, this isn't the first time Geldof has courted controversy in Kent – just last year he suggested ‘the ubiquitous charity shops sprouting everywhere’, which are ‘the first sign of decline’, should be raided by police and shut down.

The sun always shines in Abu Dhabi, however, says the Guardian, where Foster’s plan for a sustainable city on ‘an expanse of grey rock and dust in one of the harshest environments on earth’ will be unveiled today. To be named Masdar, the zero-carbon, walled city for 50,000 people and no cars will be ‘self-sufficient in renewable energy, the majority of which will be solar’. The article reminds us that no one knows how much Masdar will cost to build or who will live there, and that Abu Dhabi is responsible for ‘more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than any other population in the world’. Not surprising, then, that critics have called Masdar ‘a fig leaf for the rest of the Gulf’.

As severe weather warnings are issued across the UK, a solar-powered city probably feels like a dream. Heavy snow is destined for Edinburgh, Newcastle and Leeds, says the Telegraph, with ‘up to 3in of rain in the Pennines and North Yorkshire, prompting fears of more flooding’.

A very Blue Monday, indeed.

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