Thursday 11 July 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 11/7/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Nicholas Worley

Opinion / Peter Firth

Down and out in London

London, like many European cities, is facing a crisis with regards to the number of people sleeping rough on its streets: the Greater London Authority estimates that their numbers grew by 18 per cent since last year. While welfare cuts and a lack of affordable housing aren’t the only factors that have contributed to more people on the streets, the result is that when someone becomes homeless in London, they tend to stay that way.

The situation calls for more lateral thinking. Refreshing then to see the rise of a new initiative in London: Shelter from the Storm. The privately funded homeless shelter has been designed by Holland Harvey Architects and carries the ambition not just to keep people off the streets for a night but to provide services such as counselling and English lessons. It also places emphasis on helping the “working homeless”: a cohort who have low-paying jobs, pay tax and national insurance but still can’t afford a home. Last year it helped 173 people move into their own accommodation.

When writing to MPs, launching petitions and protests don’t yield results, charities and benevolent companies can step in to alleviate social problems. It’s a start, but not enough – London’s homelessness epidemic continues to be a black eye for a country struggling to retain its moral and geopolitical standing.

Image: Getty Images

Defence / The US

Disunited front?

Yesterday the US called for a coalition of nations to patrol the waters off the coast of Iran and Yemen, following a series of attacks on oil tankers in the region. The stretch of sea under discussion accounts for one fifth of the world’s oil traffic but the specific reasons for Washington’s request are debatable according to Robert Fox, defence correspondent for the Evening Standard. “The big question is, ‘What is America’s motive?’” he says. “They might want to give Iran a bloody nose and force them back to talk tougher, more stringent terms on the nuclear agreement, or it could be edging towards a regime change in Iran. But once there is a whiff of that, few countries are going to want to be involved.”

Image: Getty Images

Society / Italy

Think before you speak

Italy’s far-right deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, is keen to portray himself as a man of action – but he’s finally being held to account for what he says too. In the latest controversy for the (largely incompatible) ruling coalition of populist Movement 5 Star and Lega, the M5S parliamentary secretary for equal opportunities, Vincenzo Spadafora, has accused Salvini of verbal violence against women. Most recently, Salvini called the female captain of migrant-rescue ship Sea Watch a sbruffoncella: a derogatory term for someone prone to boasting. His past record in dealing with female opposition leaders and ministers is dotted with similar instances. Salvini has defended himself by saying he is taking steps to toughen up on punishment for harassment and abuse. But none of his punitive measures will suffice until he realises words do matter – and are often a catalyst for violence.

Culture / Tokyo

On your marks, get set… manga

As Tokyo gears up for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, spin-off events are popping up around the city. This weekend sees the opening of a new exhibition hosted by key sponsor Panasonic, featuring more than 100 Japanese sporting manga. Expect old-school classics such as Ashita no Joe (Champion Joe) – a boxing manga from the late 1960s – and baseball favourite Kyojin no Hoshi (Star of the Giants) a fictional tale about (real) Tokyo baseball team Yomiuri GIants. We'll also be looking out for Slam Dunk, one of the bestselling manga in history with 120 million copies sold in Japan alone. Panasonic will be showcasing its latest screens and projectors for the exhibition too, which will walk visitors through the history and evolution of sports manga in Japan. While you're in the Ariake neighbourhood, look out for the 12,000 seater gymnastics venue now under construction for the 2020 games. Pop into the exhibition at the Panasonic Centre Tokyo from Saturday.

Image: Shutterstock

Defence / Finland

Fight for rights

New conscripts in the Finnish Defence Forces are getting hot under the helmet about gender inequality. As more than 12,000 new recruits joined the force this week (only a handful of them being women, there voluntarily), some within the ranks appeared to question the logic of the government’s policy of compulsory service for men only. Top military brass, concerned that this sense of outrage might translate to a lack of derring-do on the battlefield, are investigating the possibility of conscripting women too. Now the union that represents conscripted soldiers has weighed in, saying that Finland should recreate something similar to neighbouring Norway’s model, which includes women in the draft. Arguments in favour of gender-neutral conscription are becoming more popular in Europe; such a move would put the Nordics at the vanguard.

Image: Cindy Sherman and Metro Pictures

M24 / The Monocle Culture Show

Cindy Sherman

The art world’s master of disguise has a retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery; we try to get to the bottom of the wit and wigs that have made her one of the greatest contemporary artists. Robert Bound is joined by Kathlene Fox-Davies and Francesca Gavin.

Monocle Films / Indonesia

Making it in Jakarta

Indonesia’s bounteous resources make it the perfect place for entrepreneurs to set up camp. We meet four enterprising Jakarta residents, who tell us how they are taking advantage of the opportunities in this chaotic city.


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