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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 21 August 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Tough at the top

What’s this, another potential leadership challenge in Australia? The predictability is only outweighed by the futility.

In recent years Australia’s parliament has looked more like an elaborate game of musical chairs than the legislative branch of one of the world’s most robust economies. Rumours are once again swirling of a leadership challenge against prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, with immigration minister Peter Dutton said to be eyeing the top job. As past PMs from Bob Hawke to Kevin Rudd know all too well, there’s always someone ready to take over at a moment’s notice (Turnbull himself got the gig after ousting then leader Tony Abbot from within). But while most understudy prime ministers bring with them a degree of popularity, Dutton built his political career as Canberra’s monster under the bed in charge of selling some of the nation’s most unpalatable immigration policies. Australia has already seen what happens when polls navigate politics and, as was the case with Abbott, small conservative factions take the top job. If the government wants to curb the increasing support for minor parties then it should stop obsessing over the news cycle and get back to work.

F&B

Image: Alamy

Liquid cash

What happens when a huge American drinks company buys an Israeli drinks company that has previously criticised its buyer’s methods?

Yesterday it was announced that US drinks giant PepsiCo has agreed to buy SodaStream for $3.2bn (€2.8bn). The Israeli business is best known for its home soda-making kits but has recently branched out into the booming healthy-beverage market with its own alternatives to sugary fizzy drinks. Much attention was heaped on the fact that the deal demonstrates how PepsiCo will continue its strategic shift towards healthier products, even as its CEO of 12 years, Indra Nooyi, prepares to leave her post. But an interesting detail is that SodaStream has previously sparked controversy by making adverts that were deemed critical of PepsiCo for the giant’s alleged negative environmental impact. Will that campaigning tone now disappear? Or does PepsiCo want to harness its new brand’s supposedly greener image? Only time will tell.

Heritage

Image: Getty Images

Vendor defender

Singapore wants to cement the cultural legacy of its street hawkers and has called on Unesco’s help to do so.

In most Southeast Asian countries the term “street hawker” conjures images of market traders going in for the hard sell. Not so in Singapore, where hawkers are intrinsic to the communities they serve, serving delectable mee goreng and satay to hungry passers-by. Now prime minister Lee Hsien Loong wants to preserve hawking centres and has nominated them to sit on the Unesco List for Intangible Cultural Heritage. You can see his point: in a city that is often depicted as being too sterile, hawking centres are a welcome – and human – departure from the glittering modernity of the Lion City’s skyscrapers. If successful, hawker culture would become Singapore’s second Unesco recognition, after its Botanic Gardens were listed as a World Heritage site in 2015. It’s a deserving nomination for a mainstay of Singaporean heritage, tourism and everyday life.

Society

Image: Alamy

Sound investment

In a bid to drive drug-users away from its U-Bahn stations, a German rail operator is banking on an unconventional soundtrack.

Despite its draw as a hotspot for young creatives and history-hunting tourists, Berlin’s reputation as a gritty concrete metropolis is reinforced by its prevalent drug use. German rail operator Deutsche Bahn has announced a novel plan to combat the bands of users and dealers who congregate outside the city’s U-Bahn stations: it will pipe atonal music into underground stations. The first trials will be held at Hermannstrasse Station before the end of the year. Berliners are unconvinced as to whether the new measures will drive real change or simply amount to sweeping the city’s drug problem under the proverbial rug. Meanwhile, the organisers of Berlin’s Atonal Music festival, which begins this week, may not be flattered by the announcement.

From Monocle 24

‘Apartamento’

The Stack

This week we speak to Marco Velardi, editor in chief of Apartamento magazine and Liz Schaffer from Lodestars Anthology. Meanwhile, Jeremy Leslie reviews the best titles for the summer.

From Monocle Films

Officer class: Poland's military university

Monocle Films visits Poland's land forces academy, which is nurturing the next generation of officers to fuel its expanding defence forces.

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