The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 5 September 2018

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

Don’t bank on it

The atmosphere at a US-Pakistan meeting today is likely to be frosty, particularly after the Pentagon cut the purse strings.

The US and Pakistan have had a few diplomatic ups and downs lately. Washington doesn’t think that Islamabad has done enough to bolster US attempts to fight Islamic insurgency in Afghanistan. Islamabad doesn’t think that it should be blamed for US military missteps. Today Mike Pompeo lands in Pakistan for a meeting with new foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and prime minister Imran Khan. After the Pentagon cancelled a proposed €259m aid package to Pakistan the meeting is likely to be tense, according to Farzana Shaikh, associate fellow of the Asia-Pacific programme at Chatham House. “There are considerable grey areas in this argument,” she says. “Pakistan has acted against some terrorist groups but there is a nagging concern that it still gives lenient treatment to others.”

Design

Image: Getty Images

More than a feeling

Part two of London’s Design Biennale may have a gooey-sounding theme but don’t be fooled.

Yesterday the second instalment of the London Design Biennale opened its doors at Somerset House. The theme this year is Emotional States and, while the name suggests a sentimental look at how design makes us feel, it is anything but mawkish. The exhibition, which runs until 23 September, will see designers respond to sustainability, migration, pollution and equality. “It reflects and confronts the politically charged, emotionally turbulent times we find ourselves in,” says Chris Turner, artistic director for the Biennale. Turner cites the Refugee Pavilion as a prime example of how the exhibition achieves its aim. “It acknowledges the unrepresented, showcasing some of the designs made within migrant camps,” he explains.

Trade

Image: Getty Images

Stand your ground

As Nafta talks resume, observers will be waiting for Canada’s next move after it refused to bow to US demands.

The latest round of talks in the renegotiation of the Nafta free-trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada gets underway today. All eyes will be on the Canadian delegation which, despite Donald Trump’s best efforts to bully Ottawa into a new deal, is holding firm. Trump’s announcement last week that Mexico and the US were forging ahead with their own bilateral deal was meant to force Canada to get in line. It hasn’t worked. Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, knows that many US firms’ reliance on the Canadian economy means that it can’t simply be thrown out of Nafta, as Trump has suggested. The US’s future trading relationship with its northern neighbour is far from the zero-sum game the US president likes to think it is.

Architecture

Break the mould

One of the few remaining examples of Japanese Metabolism has found itself on shaky ground.

Nakagin Capsule Tower, one of Tokyo’s greatest modern buildings, is under threat of demolition. The tower in Shimbashi was designed by the late Kisho Kurokawa in 1972, when Japan was booming and architects were looking for ways to accommodate the country’s burgeoning population. Kurokawa’s solution was a futuristic structure comprising 140 self-contained capsule apartments that bolted onto a central core and could – in theory – be moved around the city to other locations. In reality, the idea never went further than Nakagin but the building remains one of the last examples of Japan’s Metabolist movement. A recent change in ownership and a plan to redevelop the site now put the tower in a perilous situation. That said, this isn’t the first time that the building has been threatened – in 2007 its then owners motioned to demolish the tower, but halted plans as the global financial crisis hit – here’s hoping it can avoid another date with the wrecking ball.

From Monocle 24

Image: Maisie Cousins

‘Hunter’ by Anna Calvi

The Monocle Culture Show

Anna Calvi’s new album ‘Hunter’ deals with the ideas and limitations of gender stereotypes, all told through her brand of cinematic indie rock. Robert Bound and journalists Sophie Brown and Kate Hutchinson discuss the new LP and the rise of the female rockstar.

From Monocle Films

Summer in London

Monocle Films partners Rosewood Hotels & Resorts to discover the secrets that London has to offer. Charlotte Rey shows us around the vibrant capital, taking us to her top spots and favourite haunts.

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