The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 25 July 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Enough spin?

Should Imran Khan emerge victorious after today’s poll in Pakistan he’ll have to be careful not to be caught out by the military.

Voting is underway in Pakistan today with all eyes on cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. The former all-rounder is anticipated to overturn 22 years of political ducks to become prime minister. A win for his Pakistan Movement for Justice party would break a political duopoly that has seen two parties, controlled by two families, exchange control of the Muslim democracy of 200 million people for the past 60 years. Khan’s anti-corruption crusade has mobilised huge rallies across the country and he was instrumental in the impeachment of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. However, some suspect Pakistan’s influential army is the real source of power behind Khan’s recent political form. Should he be elected, expect a clash in ideology between Khan’s reformist agenda and the military’s straight bat.

Business

Image: Getty Images

Sunny outlook

While Japan in sweltering in a severe heatwave, its businesses are cashing in with increased sales of ice sprays to cooling beer.

A curious by-product of natural disasters is that while they are bad for society, they are good for the economy. As Japan’s heatwave continues to take its toll on the country there has been an increase in sales of products designed to keep people cool and safe in the sun. Shops are restocking Kyoryo’s best-selling cooling gel pillow pads and Gatsby’s deodorised neckties. Kiribai Chemical is having a bonanza with its range of menthol “ice sprays” that cool and deodorise clothes. Some are turning to drink to allay the heat: Kirin Co is upping beer production by 20 per cent to cope with an increased demand. Meanwhile Akagi Nyugyo, the brand behind the ubiquitous GariGarikun ice lolly, is shipping a third more than the same time last year. While the commercial outlook for the heatwave is bright, no doubt shoppers are hoping the weather burns off soon.

Technology

Trigger complaints

Toronto city council must decide if hidden microphones will keep police officers a step ahead of gun crime or violate residents’ privacy.

Toronto’s summer has been marred by an increase in gun violence and city officials are looking for solutions. Late last week, police approved the purchase of a system called ShotSpotter, which could see specialised microphones placed throughout the city to detect and locate gunshots. The sounds would then be fed back to a dispatch centre with the ambition of a faster and more exact response from emergency services. But the technology – which is said to have already reduced murders in Chicago – has worried the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), which warns that concealed microphones would violate citizens’ constitutional privacy rights. Yesterday the city council debated the response to the surge in gun crime, with the CCLA urging the mayor to delay the purchase of ShotSpotter. This is good advice: rushing in an unproven technology at the expense of privacy would be folly.

Design

Image: Alamy

Holy book

A new title from Historic England explores the cultural and architectural history of the mosque in the UK.

There are about 1,750 mosques in the UK. The first was built by the brilliantly named William Quilliam in a converted Liverpool home in 1887. In the intervening years, the design of these spaces has mirrored shifts in the society they’ve served – or so says new book The British Mosque, published by Historic England. While many early structures reflected an exotic Victorian caricature of eastern culture, the mid-century saw modernism shape the form of these places of worship. South Kensington’s Ismaili Centre, for one, was designed by Sir Hugh Casson, the director of the Festival of Britain, which bequeathed the capital its Festival Hall. “Mosques in Britain are an architectural typology,” says the architect and book’s author Shahed Saleem. “In the 1980s there was real hesitation about allowing buildings that really represented another culture but that’s gradually shifted.”

From Monocle 24

Greece, Hydra

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From Monocle Films

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As cities fill up with more and more people, urban farming is becoming a crucial element of sustainable living. Monocle visits food entrepreneurs in Cape Town, London and Singapore who are exploring new ways of cultivating organic produce in their downtown homesteads.

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