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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 18 July 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Slow evolution

Cuba’s new cabinet meets to discuss pressing challenges, from fixing the centralised economy to renewed tensions with the US.

The Cuban National Assembly is gathering in Havana for its biannual session. On the agenda today will be amendments to the constitution, as well as a catch-up on the state of the economy. In addition to this, president Miguel Díaz-Canel is expected to announce his new cabinet. On some levels the constitutional amendments, which will legalise the ownership of private property, is giving structure to events that are already unfolding in the country. “Cuba has been going through the process of economic reform since 2011 when Raúl Castro took over the presidency but it hasn’t come in the constitution,” says Dr Helen Yaffe, lecturer in economic and social history at the University of Glasgow. “What has happened is the spontaneous development of small and medium-sized businesses but there is so far no legal framework through which they can operate.” The biggest ambition for the new cabinet will be to rebuild Cuba’s ailing economy without conflicting with the rules of the socialist state.

For more insight and analysis on the Cuban constitution listen to Monday's instalment of The Globalist on M24.

Design

Image: Getty Images

Constructive thinking

Good architecture isn’t all about grand concepts and big statements, as illustrated by Shigeru Ban’s small but perfectly formed emergency shelters.

Pritzker-winning architect Shigeru Ban has dedicated his career to design that is good in a crisis. Weather-related disasters are hitting ever more frequently and the best solutions often aren’t expensive, nor high-concept, but simple, cheap and quick to apply. With the recent flooding in southern Japan having displaced thousands of people across the country, Ban’s firm has made evacuation centres – such as public gyms and schools – more private and comfortable. His system divides spaces into compact units that are held up by cardboard tubes and partitioned by cotton sheets, in an arrangement not unlike a four-poster bed. The speed, efficiency and simplicity of deployment makes a difference where and when it counts.

Society

Image: Alamy

Look who’s talking

Some passengers would love to use their phones while flying but others think it’s a bad call.

Air passengers usually fall into two camps. There are those who are happy to switch off from the interruptions of their smartphones, catch up on some reading or have a snooze. Then there are those sat in a state of purgatory waiting for the plane to land so that they can make calls again. A new study of 8,000 passengers across 10 key travel markets shows different attitudes to voice calling in air cabins and, broadly speaking, travellers from the UK, Europe, Japan and the US are content to have their phones off in transit, while Chinese, Indian and Arab passengers are keener to make calls during flights. Reservations about in-flight connectivity stem as much from etiquette as being bombarded by calls, with some admitting that they would feel self-conscious talking into a phone during a flight. Monocle’s technology correspondent David Phelan is not feeling chatty. “The thought of everyone making calls is just appalling,” he said on Monocle 24. “It would be like being on the bus – but for seven hours. No one wants that.”

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

Birth of a nation

A policy adviser believes the way to solve the world’s problems is to start his own country.

Politicians and economists are obsessed with GDP. But does our emphasis on economic growth cause countries to compete with each other at the expense of the global good? Simon Anholt thinks so, and he’s trying to start his own country to prove the point. “As a policy adviser I realised that I was helping countries to compete [with one another],” he says. Since changing career to launch the Good Country Index in 2014, he has been propagating the notion that countries should overcome the squabbles they have as self-interested nations and approach problems globally. To bring about this audacious vision, he and co-founder Madeline Hung have masterminded the launch of a “digital nation” which will be called Good Country. The initiative will offer citizenship for $5 (€4) a head. The aim? To mobilise an organisation able to co-operate with world powers and resolve issues such as pandemics, terrorism and climate change.

From Monocle 24

Nico Rosberg and Donald Sadoway

What happens when a scintillating Formula 1 world champion and a brilliant MIT professor sit down to discuss the future of mobility and sustainable energy? Join them to find out in a special edition of the programme, as Nico Rosberg takes over the microphone to interview UBS global visionary Donald Sadoway.

From Monocle Films

Beirut: The Monocle Travel Guide

Join us on a filmic tour of this vivacious Mediterranean metropolis brimming with delicious food, retail and hospitality.

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