The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 30 August 2017

Environment

Image: Getty Images

Weather warning

The storm in Texas has caused catastrophic damage – but is the US at all prepared to deal with the fallout?

The storm waters are continuing to rise in and around Houston, while reservoirs have begun to overflow, exacerbating the situation. Twelve years after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Texas is reeling. Tropical storm Harvey has caused damage estimated to be in the billions of dollars in the US’s fourth largest city, with reconstruction likely to last beyond president Donald Trump’s term in office. Mobilising government money to aid crises such as these can be grindingly slow (it took 91 days to release funds following Hurricane Sandy in 2012) so it's up to private entities to donate money and disaster-relief services. Multinationals such as Amazon and Google, and personalities including Beyoncé, have already shown their support and yesterday Trump landed in ​Texas to show his. How he deals with the crisis and its aftermath will be critical for his presidency; Hurricane Katrina was the beginning of the end for George W Bush.

Politics

Image: Reuters

Brussels tête-à-tête

Does Tony Blair’s visit to Brussels herald a return to politics?

Tony Blair is set to meet with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels tomorrow and while the subject of their sit-down hasn’t been revealed, it’s likely that Brexit will be up for discussion (Blair is perhaps the most high-profile opponent of the UK leaving the EU). Pro-Leave politicians and press aren’t happy with what they see as Blair’s interference, particularly as the meeting will take place close to where David Davis, the UK’s Brexit secretary, will be finishing up a week of negotiations with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier. The talks haven’t gone well – Barnier said earlier this week that the UK must start “negotiating seriously” – but Blair’s not to blame. The British government needs to get its own house in order instead of pointing fingers every which way. 

Affairs

Image: Getty Images

Power play

Malaysia has enjoyed flexing its muscle in the run-up to its independence anniversary.

Malaysia celebrates the 60th anniversary of independence tomorrow and the birthday preparations couldn’t have gone any better: the nation topped the table in the Southeast Asian games that ended in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The hosts overcame their Thai arch-rivals amid accusations that they skewed the games by reintroducing disciplines with higher medal chances such as polo (featuring Malaysian sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin). This gerrymandering is part and parcel of the biennial competition so it will surprise few that Malaysia has won the gold medal in it. After all, the United Malays National Organisation knows how to hold onto power. It has run the country since independence in 1957 and prime minister Najib Razak is expected to lead the party to victory in next year’s general election.    

Urbanism

Image: Getty Images

Building for the future

Singapore’s second CBD will give the city-state a green boost.

When the call-out for the design of Singapore’s second CBD was announced last year, some questioned if the small city-state, less than half the size of London, needed another one. Earmarked for the sleepy western outskirts, how will the district set itself apart? Will it follow in the footsteps of London’s Canary Wharf or Paris’s La Défense? As the masterplan by Dutch firm KCAP Architects & Planners shows, this new neighbourhood will be centred around groundbreaking transport projects such as the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Railway and shipping terminal Tuas Port. In addition, the mixed-use district will deftly balance the government’s Smart Nation goals set out to weave technology into every aspect of life with green pedestrian cityscapes to uphold the island-nation’s reputation as a model “city in a garden”. 

From Monocle 24

Reinventing retail

Section D

Can Arket reimagine the way we shop? We take a tour of the H&M Group’s latest all-encompassing retail experience and consider how to revive the department-store model. Plus: we ask whether cities have been too quick to embrace the cycle scheme and extol the virtues of the humble carpark.

From Monocle Films

The secret to designing outdoor space

Monocle Films sits down to talk to architect Iliana Kerestetzi and see how she goes about designing courtyards in rural Greece.

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