The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 8 December 2015

Image: Getty Images

Open waters

The mighty Bosphorus is Istanbul’s lifeline to the world but it can also be something of a liability. Over the summer, those taking a waterside stroll would often see gargantuan warships bearing Russia’s ensign sailing to the Mediterranean and the Syrian port Tartus. Photographs surfaced over the weekend that appear to show a Russian soldier holding a rocket launcher on a warship in the Bosphorus, which has been taken as a provocation in Ankara. But could Turkey ever close the strait? The Montreux Convention, signed in 1936, safeguards the free passage of warships by Black Sea nations; as custodian of the Bosphorus, Turkey is bound to let the Russians through. Any other action would be a breach of the treaty – and disastrous.

Image: Getty Images

Soaring ambition

Japan’s space agency is hoping that a second attempt in five years to put the Akatsuki probe into Venus’s orbit will give researchers a rare close-up of the planet’s atmosphere. After an onboard engine malfunction in 2010 dealt the mission a blow, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) reprogrammed Akatsuki, carefully adjusting the probe’s flight path by firing its thrusters yesterday. Jaxa won’t know for another day whether the probe is circling Venus; but if the gamble paid off, it will give Jaxa eight or nine days to analyse Venus’s thick cloud cover, which rotates faster than the planet itself and is a mystery to scientists. It would also be a fist-pumping moment for a country that’s now planning to send an unmanned rover to the moon’s surface by 2018.

Image: Getty Images

Brazilian boom

The slowing down of Brazil’s economy has left the country in turmoil yet it’s also made the market cheaper and more attractive to foreign companies. The country’s poor infrastructure had previously made much of its industry uncompetitive but, for the first time since 2002, companies from abroad are leading the number of mergers and acquisitions in the country, which could bring about some significant changes. The crisis has forced a more open approach from authorities towards industries such as oil and gas, according to Thiago de Aragão, senior researcher at The Foreign Policy Centre. The impeachment process against president Dilma Rousseff could also be a signal of further change. “The crisis is definitely not good for short-term capital but it is very interesting for those who were waiting for structural changes in order to invest in key strategic areas for the country,” says De Aragão. “The crisis is forcing structural changes for the [better].”

Image: Younes Bounhar and Amanda Large

Room to learn

Ryerson University’s new student-learning centre in downtown Toronto is now complete. Designed by Oslo-based firm Snohetta that worked with Zeidler Partnership Architects, the building was inspired by the gathering spaces of ancient Greece, where socialising and learning went hand in hand. The gleaming eight-storey centre will provide students with study areas, seminar rooms, lounges and cafés. Perhaps more importantly, the new building solidifies Ryerson’s presence in Toronto. Though the university was established in 1948 and is now one of the country’s better-known institutions, most of its departments were previously tucked away in other buildings or down side streets. Now the heart of the university can be found right in the heart of the city.

From Monocle 24

Image: Jan Helmer Olsen

Festive TV picks

Tune in to hear Alice Vincent, arts and entertainment writer for The Telegraph, recommend the television shows to record, the box sets to buy and the series to binge on this Christmas.

From Monocle Films

The perfect workplace

As employers increasingly acknowledge the quality of life of their workers, Monocle’s Quality of Life Conference in Lisbon addressed the topic of the modern workplace. In this visual essay, Josh Fehnert explores what can be done to create offices that make clocking in a joy.

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