The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 20 July 2016

Image: B. Christopher/Alamy

Turkish theories

There’s a pretty potent conspiracy theory that’s often banded about in Turkey about how the US calls the shots when it comes to who rules in the Middle East. This theory is getting even more traction since the failed coup: Turkey has formally delivered its demand to the US for the extradition of religious leader Fethullah Gulen, who is living in self-imposed exile in rural Pennsylvania, with a dossier of claims relating to Gulen’s involvement in the coup. The upshot of all this is that anti-American sentiment is growing in Turkey, from the headline in a pro-government daily that claimed “the US tried to assassinate Erdogan” to a warning from the US consulate general in Istanbul for citizens to steer clear in case of protests. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks’ claims that it has a trove of documents related to the run up of the coup - it released thousands of emails from Turkey's ruling party on Tuesday evening - is also keeping the country's rumour mill turning.

Image: Getty Images

Cleveland calling

Last month Cleveland was the underdog winner of the NBA basketball finals. It was the city’s first victory for more than half a century and with it a corner of the American Midwest that doesn’t often make the headlines was suddenly in the limelight. This week all eyes are on the city once again but for very different reasons: namely the Republican National Convention (RNC), which got off to a turbulent start on Monday and sealed Trump's Republican nomination by Tuesday. Reactions from residents have been mixed: some are happy to see that people are discovering the oft-overshadowed city while others wish it was still known as the city of basketball champions (and, lest we forget, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). What’s certain is that Cleveland has been converted into a security mega-operation with 5,500 police officers on the streets (2,000 from other states), fences around the RNC arena and metal detectors at checkpoints in preparation for any further demonstrations. It seems that the city is taking this “Make America Safe Again” slogan pretty seriously.

Image: Lit-Ma

Coming out fighting

Hong Kong’s week-long festival of literature begins today with the opening of the annual book fair. A million people visited the convention centre on the banks of Victoria Harbour last year and this summer’s event features 600 exhibitors from at least 30 countries. The theme for the 27th edition will be Chinese martial arts, shining a light on eight Hong Kong novelists working in the genre. But the biggest tussle is happening away from the spotlight. This is the first book fair since Chinese authorities detained five local booksellers. The event organiser, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, has offered repeated assurances that politically sensitive books will still be available although it still requires brave booksellers to uphold the fair’s liberal tradition. Buying a book about kung fu could be a smart investment.

Image: Lorne Bridgeman

Name of the game

A new building can be a striking addition to a cityscape but frequently the names of the architects who build these new landmarks are obscured by the impact of the structure itself. So what if new buildings came fitted with the names of the architects who constructed them? Such is the proposal that has just been approved by Toronto city hall. All new buildings over and above 1,000 sq m will now be fitted with plaques of the names of the designers who brought them to life. The hope is that the move – which will be enforced across all relevant planning applications – will encourage a more personal conversation about the built environment between Toronto’s residents and urban-planners. It also aims to bring recognition to the architect’s craft and tap into the growing trend of those who visit cities specifically to experience its architecture.

From Monocle 24

Footpath Guides

Monocle’s Melbourne correspondent Adrian Craddock takes a walking tour of the city with Jacques Sheard, the publisher of a series of guidebooks designed to introduce visitors to Melbourne’s overlooked architecture.

From Monocle Films

Troubled waters

The volatile islands off east Africa make the news mainly for the number of would-be emigrants attempting to leave their troubled shores. We find out how the islands became a hotbed of political intrigue.

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