The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 27 October 2015

Image: Reuters

Comic timing

We are living in the age of the political outsider. And while the US electorate’s love of TV personalities is nothing new (from Ronald Reagan to Arnold "The Governator” Schwarzenegger and possibly even Donald Trump), now the trend has spread its tentacles south of the border. In Guatemala television comedian Jimmy Morales has won the presidential election with almost 72 per cent of the votes – a resounding victory over his nearest rival, former first lady Sandra Torres. With the scandal over the recent resignation of president Otto Pérez Molina still fresh in people’s minds, the only one having a laugh, it seems, is Morales.

Hedge your bets

It’s been an educational year for tiny Macau. The Asian gambling hub’s second quarter GDP has dropped by 26.4 per cent due to China’s economic slowdown and corruption purge. Big spenders are spooked and high rollers are throwing their dice in safer directions, forcing local hospitality tycoons to diversify. Case in point: Studio City, the much-anticipated $3.2bn (€2.9bn) Hollywood-themed resort that opens its doors today. Owner Melco Crown Entertainment originally planned a five-star hotel on the site but the star count has been downgraded to four on the bet that “family-friendly” is a safer strategy than “VIP”. After all, who really needs blackjack when you’ve got a Batman simulation ride and Asia’s biggest Ferris wheel?

Image: Getty Images

Neighbourhood watch

“Zero problems with neighbours” has been Turkish foreign policy for more than a decade. But as the region shudders with Syria’s descent into civil war, Turkey’s influence in the old haunts of the Ottoman Empire has been increasingly tested. However, the announcement that elementary students in Turkey will have the choice to learn Arabic from next year shows that Turkey is eager to maintain its sway in the region. Some have protested against the schooling decision, calling it politically motivated (although a call in some quarters to revive the Arabic script once used for Ottoman Turkish has found little traction) but Ankara is determined to talk the talk.

Image: Courtesy of Art Toronto, George Pimentel

South of the border

Canada doesn’t immediately spring to mind as an art destination but Toronto has been slowly but surely trying to change that perception. The Art Toronto fair, which ended last night, saw organisers attempt to open up the event to a wider audience. Aside from the “Platform” speaker series, an intriguing new development this year was the focus on Latin America that included a specially curated section that highlighted galleries and projects from across Mexico, Central and South America. This northern city is looking south.

From Monocle 24

Image: Brian Smithson

Favourite haunts

In the latest edition of Culture, it’s all getting a bit spooky. We speak to Mandy Kirkby, editor of The Folio Book of Ghost Stories, a compilation of chilling tales from the likes of Charles Dickens, Vladimir Nabokov, Shirley Jackson and some of the key writers from the Edwardian and Victorian eras – the golden age of ghost fiction.

From Monocle Films

On track

Maach Ecute is a novel retail experience in a 102-year-old former train station in Tokyo. We pay a visit to see how old infrastructure can be repurposed to improve urban life.

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