Tuesday. 25/6/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

Divided loyalties?

Big cities often taken a stand against the prevailing mood in their respective countries – especially when that mood is one of populism. Many of the pressures that feed it, from increased immigration and pressures on services to a decline in faith and even shared values, are felt more acutely in major cities. Yet it’s here that you are more likely to find citizens uniting against immigration crackdowns (Los Angeles), refusing to buy into the Brexit dream (London) or, as shown with Sunday’s mayoral election in Istanbul, unwilling to side with the political party of a leader – until now – regarded as a powerful, unstoppable nationalist.

Last weekend Ekrem Imamoglu trounced the candidate of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan by running a campaign that was more inclusive and less tinged with overblown rhetoric than his rival. This is not just a Turkish issue however and, ultimately, this cleaving of city and rural life will do us no good: nations need some central beliefs. What’s most fascinating is that political leaders, whether they be Jeremy Corbyn or Mr Erdogan, are going to find it harder and harder to serve both constituencies. The separation in attitudes continues to polarise; in future, politicians may be forced to pin their allegiances more closely to townies or the country set.

Defence / Germany

Eye in the sky

Germany’s defence ministry has a new toy: as of 21 June it is the owner of a converted Airbus ACJ319 adapted by Lufthansa Technik. Kitted out with radar equipment, infrared sensors and cameras, it will allow Germany to conduct arms-control observation flights over other nations under the Treaty on Open Skies. Germany has already been operating such non-armed flights but, until now, it has needed to hire aircraft from other countries to do so. Justin Bronk, research fellow for airpower at UK independent think-tank Rusi, says: “The easiest discussion area for German security-and-defence bodies when it comes to weaponry is arms control, therefore a dedicated domestic capability to conduct arms-control verification flights (rather than having to borrow other nations’ assets to perform a task of which Germany is vocally supportive) is valuable for the Bundeswehr [armed forces].”

Media / Sydney

Pressing for answers

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has begun legal action following a police raid on its Sydney headquarters earlier this month. The broadcaster has demanded the return of documents seized during the operation, which relate to allegations of unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan. “On the face of it, it’s a pretty serious breach of press freedom,” says George Brock, visiting professor of journalism at City, University of London. “But there may well be valid causes for the Australian police taking this rather threatening action, which will be revealed when this goes to court.” A hearing, expected in late July or early August, promises to be a bellwether for press freedom that reaches far beyond Australia’s shores.

Architecture / Japan

Bedtime storey

On Sunday 400 architecture fans gathered in the Japanese city of Miyakonojo to bid farewell to a modernist icon: Miyakonojo Civic Hall. Designed by the late Kiyonori Kikutake – one of the founders of Japan’s metabolism movement – and completed in 1966, the 1,400-seat hall with a fan-shaped steel roof will be torn down in the coming weeks after more than a decade of public debate about its future. The Architectural Institute of Japan and the Paris-based International Council on Monuments and Sites had appealed to national and local government officials to save the building – to no avail. Kikutake was known for designing flexible structures that could adapt to a society’s changing needs; sadly it seems this one can’t be adapted to suit changing priorities.

Politics / Prague

Slippery slope

On Sunday hundreds of thousands of civilians flooded the Czech capital, demanding the resignation of prime minister Andrej Babis. Prague’s protests add to mounting pressure against the former businessman and billionaire, whose political career has been mired in corruption allegations. Babis denies the claims but is set to face a vote of no confidence from the opposition party next week. Should he be concerned? “His political support is holding up fairly well,” says Dr Seán Hanley, senior lecturer in east European politics at University College London. “However, there isn’t much chance of him building more support – he seems to have peaked politically.” While he might be over this particular hump soon, it could all be downhill from there.

M24 / The Monocle Culture Show

‘Rolling Thunder Revue’

We try to separate fact from fiction in Martin Scorsese’s pseudo-documentary about Bob Dylan’s 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour. Will we ever know the real Dylan? Robert Bound discusses with Liv Siddall, Tim Robey and Will Hodgkinson.

Monocle Films / Quality of Life Survey

Most liveable city, 2019: Zürich

From the revived Le Corbusier Pavilion to a slick airport extension, we take lessons in living better from this year’s winning city.

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