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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 1 February 2016

Image: Getty Images

Paper trails

Caucus voters across Iowa decide the fate of those vying for the Democratic and Republican presidential tickets today but spare a thought for the hardy reporters at Iowa’s largest newspaper – The Des Moines Register – tasked with covering one of the most unpredictable races in recent memory. “The workload is staggering,” says Kathie Obradovich, a political correspondent at the Register, which was founded in 1849 and has a daily circulation of more than 80,000. As the state’s paper of record, the pressure to clarify the campaign circus for readers is high. From videos to podcasts to public town hall events – on top of the daily printed newspaper, of course – the Register has aimed to meet an unwieldy primary race head on. “This cycle is comparable to 2008,” says Obradovich. “The main difference from past caucuses is the voter fascination with ‘outsider’ candidates. No one without elected experience has ever won the Iowa caucuses – that may change this year.”

Image: WOHA

Vertical limits

Rapid urban development takes many forms but in 2015 it quite literally reached new heights. Last year saw a record number of new skyscrapers, with 106 200-metre-plus buildings erected worldwide according to a new report by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). As more cities give in to growing up, they would be wise to follow Singapore’s example when planning future behemoths. With onerous guidelines requiring developers to pay attention to green spaces, in recent years the city-state has completed buildings that offer more than cold glass and steel. One example: the Parkroyal on Pickering, winner of the 2015 CTBUH Urban Habitat award. “In every facet of this building you can see there’s been thought into how it contributes to the city,” says CTBUH's Jason Gabel of the Parkroyal, which contains 15,000 sq m of water features, terraces and sky gardens.

Mapped out

As many of Hong Kong’s most interesting spaces are found well above the ground floor, it can be difficult to see what all the fuss is about from street level. To raise awareness of the hidden art galleries, cafés and event spaces in Wong Chuk Hang, an industrial district, local art studio Spring Workshop launched an annual competition to design and draw a street map of the area. The winner of the latest competition, open to all young Hong Kong artists, is Lokz Phoenix, who will now have her map printed on the back of Spring Workshop’s brochure. “It’s the third year we have organised the competition and each year we are surprised to discover the new studios, galleries and restaurants that have popped up in the last 12 months,” says Christina Li, director of Spring Workshop.

Image: Alamy

Screen heroes

Cinemas in Japan are holding their own against movie-streaming services with box-office ticket sales in 2015 topping ¥217bn (€1.6bn), their highest levels in five years. There was more good news for the Japanese film industry: domestic films beat out foreign films, nabbing 55 per cent of total revenue. Though Hollywood titles topped the box-office rankings, with Jurassic World in first place followed by Big Hero 6, third place went to the animated Japanese film Yo-Kai Watch The Movie 2, which earned ¥7.8bn (€59m); plenty of other Japanese films also drew healthy crowds. One reason the Japanese film industry has managed to attract a bigger share of cinemagoers boils down to simple maths: Japanese cinemas showed more domestic films than international ones. For now that bet appears to be reviving fortunes – or at least preventing an erosion – for cinema operators.

From Monocle 24

The first artisanal gin of Bangkok

Iron Balls has become the first artisanal gin made in Bangkok. It's getting praise in the region but getting the license to distil wasn't so easy.

From Monocle Films

Reporting the Arctic

The Canadian Arctic is undoubtedly one of the more inhospitable places on Earth but take a look and you’ll see there is a trove of stories to be told about the vast and varied landscape.

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