Only a handful of world leaders have access to a personal luxury aeroplane but Benjamin Netanyahu will soon be one of them: Israel’s cabinet has approved a €92m budget to adapt an aircraft for the prime minister. The decision follows an offer from Israel Aerospace Industries to convert a Boeing 767-300ER by adding a new glass cockpit and replacement engines. Israel has been looking for an aircraft for some time though public criticism delayed the process; now appears to be the right moment. Yossi Mekelberg, associate fellow at Chatham House, says that with more pressing stories grabbing headlines, such as the stabbings taking place across the country, “there probably won’t be a serious backlash” over Netanyahu’s new mode of transport.
Many Turks like to take all the trappings of Christmas – decorating a tree, Santa Claus, a day of familial feasting – and apply them to New Year’s Eve. One of the seasonal staples is the New Year gift basket, loaded with pistachios, Turkish coffee and little bottles of tipple tucked away inside. But in the week that the Justice and Development party won the general election, authorities announced that liquor would be banned from baskets sold for New Year. “This has been a Muslim country for centuries but this government pretends that it has just turned the country into a Muslim one all by itself,” says Sergen Bey, who runs a bottle shop on Istanbul’s European shore. “Whether they ban it or not, Turks will keep on drinking.”
President Xi Jinping has become a sensation on Youku, China’s answer to YouTube. A series of trippy propaganda videos, produced by the mysterious Beijing-based production company Fuxing Lushang Studio and featuring an animated Xi, is promoting China’s policies and politicians — and getting millions of views. The latest clip explains China’s 13th five-year plan, the shisanwu, while also endorsing it with a catchy, repetitive jingle. The first video in the series, a clip called How Leaders are Made, explains how a devoted communist – similar to, say, Xi – takes 23 years to head a provincial ministry. It doesn’t sound all that riveting but the debut has garnered 3.6 millions hits.
Ageing is an inevitable but often uncomfortable prospect – and one unimproved by most homes for the elderly that often fall woefully short when it comes to thoughtful, life-enriching design solutions. At the World Architecture Festival in Singapore, however, the Walumba Elders Centre by Australia’s Iredale Pedersen Hook Architects has been rightly honoured for its innovative design. The home features a welcoming kitchen and dining room that provides space to mingle; we also like the firepit, around which residents can enjoy barbecues or art classes. The low-slung building sits on top of 3-metre-high stilts as it stands on a floodplain; the previous home was washed away in 2011. But what really elevates the project is the dignity it bestows on the elderly residents who call it home.
Ian McKellen welcomes Monocle Culture editor Robert Bound to his home for this week’s edition of The Big Interview. In this candid discussion of a life lived to the full on screen, on stage and off, the film icon reflects on unexpected Hollywood superstardom and why coming out helped make him an even better actor.
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