The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 16 August 2017

Sport

Image: Getty Images

Name of the game

Visiting athletes to the world university competition in Taiwan could be forgiven for thinking the home team’s not turned up.

As students arrive in Taipei for the World University Summer Games (or Universiade) this weekend some athletes will be forgiven for not knowing where they are. Even on home soil Taiwan has to compete at international sporting events under the name Chinese Taipei. This longstanding compromise to avoid irking China has prompted protests outside the offices of the ruling Democratic Progressive party this week. Meanwhile the Taipei City Government is playing hardball, reprinting official media guides to include Taiwan. Come competition time this naming quagmire will not stop the home crowd cheering on their team but any medal ceremony featuring Taiwanese athletes is bound to cause further angst: its red, white and blue flag is not recognised internationally so organisers will have to hoist a modified version of the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag instead. Watch out for patriotic sports fans showing their true colours from the stands.

Trade

Image: Getty Images

Tough talks

Trump is all set to renegotiate Nafta but the Canadian and Mexican delegates are unlikely to make it easy.

The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) – between the US, Canada and Mexico – begins in Washington today. This opening round of talks marks a key election pledge for Donald Trump to amend the treaty which he decried as having worked against US interests since it came into force 23 years ago. The tone for today’s meeting was set on Monday, when Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland suggested that her country would push against Trump’s “Made in America” philosophy and seek to achieve environmental protection and a commitment to the movement of people across the border. The talks will be testing for Trump, who will have to now match the bluster of the campaign trail with the demands of two partners who know what they want from a renegotiated Nafta agreement.

Transport

Image: Alamy

Car trouble

One US district hopes to scrap its parking problem by giving workers and shoppers a financial incentive to use public transport.

The downtown district of Columbus, Ohio, has been going through a much-anticipated period of redevelopment that includes a $500m (€427m) mixed-use project at its centre. Yet there’s one problem: the district suffers from a lack of parking spots, causing people to avoid the area. Needless to say, this has had a negative impact on businesses. The issue has become so dire that some shops are even having difficulty finding staff willing to put up with the daily search for a parking place. That’s why downtown property owners have voted to launch a programme next summer that will give free public-transport passes to 43,000 people employed in the district. Funded by a tax on downtown office owners, it is hoped the passes will get workers to their jobs and buyers to the shops once more.

Design

Image: Getty Images

Front-row seats

Putting out a few benches doesn’t sound like much but it shows that Singapore’s government wants to give designers a say in the shaping of the city-state.

Though notoriously stringent and by the book, the Singaporean government is finally loosening the reins a little to let grassroots organisations have a say in public space-making. A design competition launched by the Urban Redevelopment Authority this week is setting the tone by distributing benches, made from recycled wood from a demolished national stadium, around the city. This is the latest initiative as part of Our Favourite Place, a government support programme funding community-led proposals to rethink the use of communal spots nationwide. Other projects have included adding swings to pocket parks, and bookshelves and charging points to bus stops. Each new addition is a chance for Singapore’s burgeoning design industry to take a step forward.

From Monocle 24

Image: IA Collaborative

Design in print

Section D

As some of architecture and design’s flagship titles lag, are the smaller independents asking the biggest questions? Journalist Katie Treggiden joins us for a review of the newsstand. Plus we speak to IA Collaborative’s Dan Kraemer about his mission to revive and reprint a long-lost title he thinks every designer should own.

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