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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 4 July 2018

Military

Image: Getty Images

Stick or twist?

As the UK decides on defence spending, it’s being pulled in different directions by the EU and the US.

Ahead of next week’s Nato summit in Brussels, US defence secretary James Mattis has suggested that France could replace the UK as the US’s key defence ally. The timing of the hint is interesting: the UK parliament is debating a new defence-spending bill that will apply after Brexit comes into force. The US has long chided its Nato counterparts for not contributing their fair share to the alliance and the uncertainty of Brexit means that the UK’s future defence resources are in question too. In a letter to the UK’s defence secretary, leaked to the British press, Mattis highlighted France’s recent assertions that it will boost its spending on the military, and urged the UK to do the same. “The risk for the UK is that it's caught between Europe – which is ploughing ahead with EU defence, to which the UK won't have full access – and the US, which is obsessing over trade deficits, obsessing over whether its allies are paying their dues to the alliance,” said Shashank Joshi, a fellow at London’s Rusi think-tank, when he spoke to Monocle 24. “It is important that the UK doesn’t find itself, effectively, locked out.”

Immigration

Image: Getty Images

Class warfare?

Denmark is considering mandatory language lessons for young immigrants but is enforced education the best solution?

As debates rage around what to do with displaced migrants arriving in Europe, the Danes are opting for a heavy-handed approach to integration for those who’ve settled. This autumn, the Danish parliament will vote on whether to introduce mandatory 25-hour-a-week classes on the nation’s values – think the importance of Christmas, Easter and speaking Danish – that will be geared towards the youngest residents of the capital’s 25 low-income and disproportionately Muslim neighbourhoods. The word “ghetto” and talk of punitive measures being slapped on people who don’t comply are already being bandied about. It’s a barbed issue and these coercive and short-sighted measures are hardly the solution. More social housing built in better areas, as opposed to clustered in certain neighbourhoods that are then stigmatised, would allow immigrants to experience the nation’s social democratic values in a far more agreeable manner than enforced language lessons.

Media

Image: Getty Images

Let the right ones in

As Nauru throws its weight around with media bans, it would do well to note that pride comes before a fall.

In a blow to press freedom, host nation Nauru announced this week that Australia’s public broadcaster ABC has been barred from covering the Pacific Islands Forum in September. The ban is punishment for the broadcaster’s critical coverage of Nauru’s president, Baron Waqa, and other members of governmen. The controversy will do little to improve Nauru’s reputation as a country that is hostile to the media. In recent years the Pacific nation has reportedly denied entry to journalists and photographers from the ABC, Al Jazeera and SBS after they criticised the state of Nauru’s immigration detention centres and questioned the cost of media visas ranging from AU$200 (€125) to AU$8,000 (€5,100). The ongoing hostility won’t do Nauru any favours: other outlets, such as the Vanuatu Daily Post, have already said they won’t cover the forum in solidarity with ABC.

Urbanism

Image: Alamy

Twin-win scenario

A radical regeneration plan is set to transform Minneapolis and St Paul. Is there a downside?

Minnesota’s Twin Cities have recently announced that Ryan Companies, a Minneapolis-based commercial-property developer, will be leading an ambitious regeneration plan for the former home of the region’s Ford Assembly Plant. The polluted 45 hectares have remained dormant since the plant’s closure in 2011 but the area is set to undergo a dramatic transformation. With construction beginning in 2020, the land will be transformed into a mixed-use neighbourhood replete with affordable housing and pedestrian and bike-focused streets. The area will be one of the US’s first to generate all its power from renewable sources found on site, while 20 per cent of land will be dedicated to green space. Bike lanes will connect to the downtowns of both Minneapolis and Saint Paul, while two light-rail lines are in the works. However, the plan isn’t without critics: many are not thrilled about the increased density that will be caused by the predicted influx of 7,200 residents and 1,500 jobs. But with the development’s intention to marry affordable housing and economic development for creative ventures, it’s an exciting plan in a region that often attracts little fanfare when it comes to urban innovation.

From Monocle 24

California, Long Beach

Food Neighbourhoods

Monocle 24’s Sam Impey and food writer Brian Addison tour Long Beach, home to one of the most diverse food scenes in the US.

From Monocle Films

Surf haven: Ericeira

Ericeira, a small fishing village north of Lisbon on the Portuguese coast, is also a world-class surfing town. People come from as far away as Australia for great waves, good seafood and a relaxed “old Portugal” feeling that persists even as its popularity grows. Monocle films paid a visit.

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