The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 26 July 2017

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Gunning for glory

New Zealand’s politicians are tooling up for the forthcoming elections.

Hoardings are springing up all over New Zealand as the country looks ahead to a heated general election in September. Prime minister Bill English ventured outside over the weekend armed with a staple gun to put up his election posters and avoid the infamous gaffe of his predecessor John Key, who struggled to master a hammer and nail on camera. English is fighting his first election as prime minister since taking over the leadership of the centre-right National party last year but the prospect of National winning a fourth term in office has been hit by an ongoing scandal involving a party MP and flip-flopping on immigration. There’s also been a surge of support for veteran politician Winston Peters, the leader of populist party New Zealand First, who is touted as a potential kingmaker and may eventually decide if English can keep his ruling coalition together or whether the staples will pop out.

Environment

Come full circle

Wetsuits made of recycled materials will buoy surfers’ eco credentials.

Most entrepreneurs wouldn’t view their products’ popularity as a problem in need of solving but Tom Kay isn’t like most. The founder of Cornwall-based Finisterre, which makes and sells cold-water wetsuits and gear for surfers, says that the 500,000 surfers in the UK who replace their worn-out wetsuits every couple of years are a problem – for the environment at least. According to Kay, more than 300 tonnes of neoprene ends up in landfill sites each year – so he’s partnered the University of Exeter to hire a “wetsuit recycler”. The full-time two-year position will see an enterprising materials scientist working closely with Exeter professor Oana Ghita and the Finisterre team to help develop a fully recycled and recyclable wetsuit. “Our ultimate aim is to be able to make wetsuits from wetsuits and [create a] closed-loop manufacturing process,” he says.

Transport

Image: Getty Images

Kicked to the kerb

The Indonesian capital is reclaiming its streets – beginning with banning motorcyclists on one of its newest roads.

Jakarta needs to rein in its motorcyclists, many of whom drive against traffic flow or even sometimes opt for the pavement. But the latest bizarre trend among two-wheelers has gone too far: stopping mid-traffic to take selfies, leading to pile-ups and traffic jams while they get their picture. Now the city has had to stipulate a ban on motorcycles on one of its newest roads and we can expect similar laws to follow as Jakarta looks to bring some order back to its streets. The motorcycle-free, two-storey, cloverleaf-shaped Semanggi Interchange linking the city’s popular neighbourhoods may symbolise some headway in the city’s efforts to improve its notoriously clogged transportation networks. But changing road culture is the next step to keep citizens moving; there are already activist groups, calling themselves “footpath warriors”, that pound the city’s pavements in defence of the right to walk safely.

Urbanism

Image: Getty Images

City limits

New York’s mayor is championing urban action (while letting his own subway squabble rumble on).

“Mayors don’t steal each others ideas, we borrow them.” That’s how New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off this week’s Urban Resilience Summit, which has brought nearly 500 urban leaders from around the world together in Manhattan until Thursday. It was a clarion cry to raise voices against complacency in our cities: “We can’t wait for people to save us; cities need to take matters into their own hands,” was how de Blasio put it. It’s a lesson that London and Paris could learn from – but also New York, perhaps? There’s an ongoing spat about badly needed improvements to the subway system and the question of who should foot the bill: the state governor or the city of New York itself.

From Monocle 24

Image: Robert G Fresson

Driving force: automotive design special

Section D

Buckle up for a driving tour of the best in automotive design with Gordon Murray, the man behind the McLaren F1 road car. Plus: Monocle’s Robert Bound on the merits of being in the driving seat (and why George Jetson may have a steer on the future of motoring), and the third instalment of our Ljubljana design biennial mini-series.

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