The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 14 July 2017

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Kagame on course

The definition of a one-horse race? The Rwandan president stands for re-election as of today.

Today Rwandan president Paul Kagame officially launches his campaign for the country’s elections in August. His return to the campaign trail is controversial: he has been president for 17 years and previously held a referendum to extend term limits, meaning that he could remain in power until 2034. The economic transformation of the land-locked nation under Kagame after the 1994 genocide has certainly won him plenty of support but critics, including many human-rights groups, say that his steady erosion of political and press freedoms are more in line with a despot, not a saviour. His opponents in the Democratic Green party and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent, also launch their respective campaigns today – though few believe they stand much chance of winning.

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

Radiation exposure

As India continues to upgrade its nuclear capabilities, has it got China in its sights?

While India continues to modernise its atomic arsenal, the country’s nuclear strategy appears to be shifting emphasis. Its nuclear weapon build-up has long been seen as part and parcel of an ongoing dispute with Pakistan – despite a declared policy of nuclear deterrence and no first strike – but the government is now developing a missile that could reach China, according to US nuclear experts. With four more missile systems in development, which include two aircraft, four land-based ballistic missiles and one sea-based ballistic missile, India has a diverse and flexible arsenal. As the standoff over the India-China border spat in the Sikkim region shows no sign of abating, nuclear posturing in the region only adds fuel to the fire.

Transport

Image: Getty Images

Everyone’s on board

A new campaign in Tokyo aims to ease the rush-hour crush – and the authorities are all for it.

With summer in full swing, Tokyo travellers routinely find themselves jammed into overcrowded rush-hour trains. As such, the city’s governor Yuriko Koike has launched a new plan to stagger the morning commute. Called Jisa (“time difference”) Biz, the two-week campaign aims to encourage workers to avoid the crush by travelling to work outside the busiest times, with 260 companies and local governments on board. Train operators are playing their part by putting on extra trains in the early morning and offering prizes to people who travel before and after rush hour during the week. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to make this an annual event, and the call for flexible starting hours is smart and fully justified: in 2015 many trains were running at twice their usual capacity during rush hour.

Design

Image: Alamy

Creaking foundations

Trump’s latest clash with the FBI is over the building (or lack of it) of a new headquarters.

Donald Trump has gone out of his way to shake up the FBI, not least by jettisoning the organisation’s now former director, James Comey. Now the latest policy for the chopping block is a decade-old plan for a new facility to house the bureau. The J Edgar Hoover building in downtown Washington has is a relic of late brutalism, designed in 1964 with a fittingly secretive sense of monumentality and a concrete façade of deep window recesses – but it has its detractors. However, though the structure is notoriously down-at-heel, a funding gap of $882m (€773m) means the project for a new structure has been shelved. The government is blaming Congress, saying it would be dangerous to move forward without the full funds that Barack Obama originally requested. The Trump administration playing the blaming game – whatever next?

From Monocle 24

São Paulo: vertical gardens

The Urbanist

Guil Blanche is trying to change Sāo Paulo’s reputation as a concrete jungle. His company, Movimento 90 Degrees, has worked to transform its urban landscapes with vertical gardens.

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