Friday. 14/12/2018

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock

Politics

A little less conversation

The UN is brokering peace talks between Houthi rebels and Yemen’s government but the sides must turn words into actions.

Though it is laudable that the combatants in Yemen’s civil war are attempting to set aside their differences at UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden, there remain doubts about whether the warring parties are doing enough to end what has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and Yemen’s government, which is propped up by Saudi Arabia, should be commended for agreeing a ceasefire in the port city of Al-Hudaydah but that truce needs to be extended to the rest of the country. Journalist Iona Craig – who has lived and worked in Yemen – told The Briefing on Monocle 24 that, “Unless there is a peace deal – a political deal – then it’s really not going to end the problems for the many millions of Yeminis that are currently starving.”

Image: Getty Images

Politics

Show of strength

Kosovo’s plan to build itself an army has irked neighbouring Serbia – but the prospect of military intervention seems highly unlikely.

The Kosovo Security Force isn’t one to be reckoned with. It is lightly armed and has some 4,000 personnel. Some within the Balkan state want to change this and today parliament will take a vote on whether it will upgrade its defence force into a full-standing army. Across the border in Serbia the vote is drawing baleful looks with Belgrade expressing concern that such an army could be used to expel minority Serbs from Kosovo. It has also said that Kosovo’s efforts to arm itself ought to result in a military intervention. But this is unlikely. Serbia’s desire for accession to the EU will probably outweigh its annoyance at its neighbour’s military aspirations.

Image: Shutterstock

Urbanism

Built to last?

Centennial will go some way to solving LA’s housing shortage but its very existence relies on it being able to withstand the area’s wildfires.

The Centennial project, a vast mixed-use development in Los Angeles County, was approved earlier this week in a bid to resolve the area’s housing shortage. The project will comprise some 19,000 new homes and a business park, which will provide about 23,000 new jobs for the region. But not everyone is convinced that the construction should go ahead. The plot is in a high-risk area for wildfires and there is much concern surrounding the land’s suitability for the project. The story is a sobering reminder that the growth of cities around the world will be increasingly dictated by their resistance to natural disasters.

Image: Getty Images

Society

Gimme shelter

Two Berlin nightclubs are opening their doors to the city’s homeless people to help them escape the winter chill.

Recently, fears have spread that Berlin’s famously avant-garde counter-culture, found largely in its world-class collection of music venues and musicians, is becoming corporate. But as winter approaches (bringing temperatures as low as minus 10C), two nightclubs in the city are hoping to change that perception. From January, Bi Nuu and Astra Kulturhaus will open their usually raver-brimming halls to the city’s estimated 10,000 homeless people once a week as a refuge from the bitter nights. The clubs will trim event schedules during January and February to accommodate the sleepers. At a time of growing concern over spiralling numbers of homeless people, let’s hope the capital’s other venues get the memo and follow suit.

Image: Alamy

Absent architecture

On Design Extra

While the architects at Foster + Partners await the green light for their Tulip proposal, we explore some of the buildings that could have been but never were.

Monocle preview: Forecast 2019

It happens that 2019 is the Year of the Pig, which is why the new edition of The Forecast has gone the whole hog with ideas and inspiration. Pick up your copy and plot a course through the next 12 months.

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