The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 5 July 2017

Immigration

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The price of security?

The future of foreign-born army recruits is up in the air – it seems that Uncle Sam might not want their help after all.

The technology sector and fruit farms aren’t the only industries that could suffer as a result of the US’s escalating restriction on immigrant workers: the military could soon have problems as well. The Pentagon is considering terminating contracts for recruits under its Military Accessions Vital to National Interest programme, which offers fast-track citizenship to foreign-born recruits who have specialised skills, such as languages and medical training. If current contracts are cancelled, about 1,000 recruits could face deportation, as they have no legal status in the US without the programme. Donald Trump may have embraced a hard line on immigration but the US could suffer a gap in vital security needs if the Pentagon follows through with the plan.

Business

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Set to compete

North Rhine-Westphalia is set to compete with Germany’s main cities to create a hi-tech cluster.

Germany is home to a number of hi-tech clusters but there’s room for improvement. The nation may be a global leader when it comes to cars and manufacturing but in terms of digital innovation, it still has a long way to go. That’s why North Rhine-Westphalia’s new minister of economy, Andreas Pinkwart, wants to establish a start-up region across Aachen, Bonn, Köln and Düsseldorf, modelled on Silicon Valley. Last year 14.1 per cent of all German digital start-ups were launched in NRW yet most investment flows into Berlin, Munich and Hamburg. Compared to Berlin, which received an average of €412m in venture capital, the entire region of NRW had to make do with €49m. Pinkwart wants to change this by creating a competitive Rhineland Valley. The foundation has been laid: the next step is generating a network.

Fashion

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Fashion statement

For fans of soft power, the return of Chinese traditional dress sends a clear signal in Hong Kong.

One unexpected outcome of Hong Kong’s nostalgia-packed weekend to mark the 20th anniversary of its liberation from British rule is the revival of the traditional Chinese dress known as the cheongsam or qipao in Mandarin. The city’s new chief executive, Carrie Lam, modelled several versions during her meetings with Chinese president Xi Jinping, prompting a fresh appreciation for the mothballed dresses. Women politicians often face undue scrutiny over their clothing but Hong Kong’s first female leader is keen to use her profile to promote Chinese culture; she’s even published a video explaining her fondness for the traditional attire. Fans of Lam’s fashion choices can also be found overseas. Earlier this week the Italian fashion entrepreneur Alessandro Bastagli led the acquisition of Shanghai Tang, a Hong Kong clothing brand and chain of shops that rose to prominence with their qipao designs.

Art

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Great outdoors

London’s Regent’s Park plays host to its very own sculpture show this summer.

As a prelude to London’s Frieze art fair this autumn, the English Gardens at Regent’s Park have been transformed into the city’s largest outdoor sculpture showcase. From today until 8 October, a walk around 23 pieces by leading artists such as Tony Cragg and Alicja Kwade will make for a very cultural day out. While tickets to Frieze are hard to come by, this summer show, curated by Clare Lilley, director of programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, is open to all those interested in modern and contemporary art. “From the playful to the political, these works explore contemporary sculpture’s material and technical dexterity, together with its social role and reflection on the human condition and our environment,” says Lilley. Particularly eye-catching are “Final Days”, a six-metre-high toy figure by Kaws, and Cragg’s futuristic metal creation “Stroke”.

From Monocle 24

Austria's new designers

Section D

Forget the dirndl and lederhosen, there’s a fresh crop of fashion designers in the Austrian capital who are taking the nation’s wardrobe in new directions. But where does a Viennese designer fit in the wider industry? Alexei Korolyov steps out to investigate.

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