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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 26 July 2018

Geopolitics

Image: Flickr

Enter the dragon

Political and economic turmoil have destabilised all of the Brics countries – except one.

The Brics – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are meeting in Johannesburg until the end of the week to discuss everything from an impending global-trade war to definitions of terrorism. At one point the Brics were poised for world domination: Brazil was booming off commodities, India was gearing up to be a tiger economy and Russia and China were more or less quietly getting on with it. But politics and economics have a nasty habit of getting in the way. For one, Brazil and Russia have been dealing with recessions (the latter provoked by western sanctions); India is promoting a brand of Hindu nationalism; South Africa has had to deal with political overhaul; and Russia has been showing its nastiest side. Not that it’s stopping the Brics from going through the motions; the Chinese cash cow has promised €12.8bn of investment in South Africa for one. No prizes for guessing the nation that’s leading the pack.

Design

Image: Getty Images

Partners in design

With London in the midst of a crimewave, can canny urban design stem the flow and stop the scooters?

Can urbanism, good planning and considered design stop crime? In London, where criminal activity is on the up, many hope that the answer is yes. But at a recent panel convened by Monocle 24’s The Urbanist, no single guest saw a simple resolution in the built environment. Richard Sennett, head of sociology at the London School of Economics, took the long view, urging people “not to be terrified” by crimewaves and not to respond with over-lighting or turning homes into fortresses. Sennett’s solution? More police on the street. But many Londoners would find that oppressive and there seems little political will to pay for it. Anna Mansfield of design practice Publica also saw crime patterns as too fast to be solved by urban design and said we need to look at the lives of the most common targets, young men, and how we help them. Perhaps the most practical ideas came from film-maker Livvy Haydock, who spent time with scooter thieves and said that if Londoners locked up their scooters and used their phones more wisely, crime rates would fall. To hear the full story, tune in to today’s episode of The Urbanist.

Urbanism

Image: Getty Images

False start

Jakarta’s attempts to tart up the city ahead of the Asian Games leave much to be desired.

As the torch for the 18th Asian Games makes its way around Indonesia, Jakarta’s preparation efforts are far from over. With the Games kicking off on 18 August, urban quick fixes within the Southeast Asian metropolis appear to be getting increasingly desperate. The city’s latest clean-up ploy has been to form a gigantic black nylon net over the Sentiong River to mask its ugly appearance from visiting fans, athletes and journalists coming to experience the quadrennial event. With the last major sporting event in the region being the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in squeaky clean Singapore (which tagged on a whole national campaign to make its citizenry fitter in the aftermath), it’s a shame to see the efforts of Jakarta – a city in need of a big urban overhaul – being so haphazardly executed.

Culture

Image: Flickr

Singing in the rain

Japanese festival-goers are on their way to the country’s biggest outdoor party – but so is Typhoon Jongdari.

Tens of thousands of music lovers will be making their way to the forested Japanese ski resort of Naeba for the Fuji Rock Festival, which runs from tomorrow to Sunday. The biggest outdoor festival in Japan features 200 acts playing on an array of stages, big and small. The line-up this year is as eclectic as ever including both Kendrick Lamar and Bob Dylan but let’s hope the weather doesn’t spoil the fun. Japan has been experiencing a deadly heatwave in recent weeks and now Typhoon Jongdari is scheduled to make landfall at the weekend, bringing heavy rain with it. It wouldn’t be the first time a typhoon has struck the festival: the very first Fuji Rock back in 1997 was hit by torrential typhoon rain on the first day. Like true rockers, headliners the Red Hot Chili Peppers played on, although the rest of the event was cancelled.

From Monocle 24

Dave Dawson

The Entrepreneurs

Dave Dawson trained as a lawyer but never had much love for the legal profession and always harboured a desire to one day start his own design company. That day arrived in 2003 when he decided to quit his day job and launch the Urban Electric Company, a lighting brand based in Charleston, South Carolina. For the past 15 years the brand has built a name for itself for its robust yet elegant lighting fixtures. The company now employs more than 200 people.

From Monocle Films

The price of silver

Producers and retailers of luxury goods are waking up to the power of affluent seniors. We travel to Japan to meet the brands that are wise to the trend.

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