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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 14 September 2015

Image: Getty Images

A burning question

Southeast Asia is waking up to another smoggy morning due, in part, to the seasonal fires that are raging in Indonesia’s rural Sumatra. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has now cajoled Indonesia into a united effort to tackle the problem and clean up its act. Malaysian prime minister Najib Razik has hailed the agreement as an “historic step to tackle haze”, while Indonesian authorities are targeting corporations for illegal land clearing. Chang Wei-Chung, an air-quality monitoring expert from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, says the agreement is a positive step. “We should give Indonesia credit for doing this but also keep pressuring it to do more – and faster.”

Image: Getty Images

Clashing Caucasians

Armenia is hemmed in by closed borders to its east and west. But the threat of a return to war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh – a self-proclaimed independent republic of ethnic Armenians nestled within Azerbaijan – has been ramped up after both sides traded gunfire and made provocative displays of strength before the weekend. Some 65,000 Azeri soldiers were deployed and drilled on the border last week following an upsurge in violence. Meanwhile, Armenia has been courting Russia for a hefty loan that it can use to update its own armed forces. The US State Department cites reports of mortar fire and civilian casualties as this fracture at the heart of the Caucasus once again reaches boiling point.

Image: Commonwealth of Australia

This floats their boat

The Australian government has gifted a 30-metre landing craft to the kingdom of Tonga, an archipelago in the South Pacific. Capable of transporting fresh water and supplies to Tonga’s more isolated communities, the AU$5m barge was built at Newcastle’s Forgacs shipyard and is part of a broader trend that sees Canberra trying to extend its influence across the South Pacific. Australia is also eyeing up a reboot of its ailing shipbuilding industry and commissions like this, coupled with a government plan to pump billions back into the industry in the coming years, might just do the trick.

Image: Joshua Gunther

A Broad bastion

The housing and insurance tycoon, Eli Broad, is ready to deliver on a promise he made seven years ago – a new museum in Los Angeles that he hopes will give Downtown a renewed urban vigour. The Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed Broad Museum opens on 20 September and will be home to a raft of contemporary art staples: Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, likely a Basquiat or two. But visitors will also get to see more than 2,000 works that the Broads have amassed over 40 years. Broad has been a philanthropic fixture among LA’s museums – from Lacma to Moca – but a permanent bastion should be another engine in the resurgence of downtown LA.

From Monocle 24

Image: Selcuk Polat

Istanbul Biennial

Today's Monocle Arts Review is an insight and exploration of the Istanbul Biennial, which sees contemporary art exhibited in underground car parks, old Italian schools and the house that once belonged to Leon Trotsky.

From Monocle Films

Porto Revival

Monocle visits Porto to learn how one city leader is determined to stop gentrification destroying his home.

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