The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 30 March 2016

Image: Agência Brasil Fotografias

Poor performance

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff may not be the country’s most popular politician but her party’s signature policy still has broad backing. Bolsa Familia has pulled millions of Brazilians out of poverty but if weekend newspaper reports are to be believed, vice-president Michel Temer – who hails from another party – is considering scaling it back if Rousseff is impeached and he takes the top job; other welfare programmes may also be cut. Temer and his Brazilian Democratic Movement party (PMDB) will argue that Brazil is suffering its worst recession in a generation but were he to take the presidency he will need to win over the support of those who voted for Rousseff (twice) in such great numbers. Cutting her party’s most popular policy may not be the smartest move.

Image: Alexi Hobbs

Toronto's tower tumult

Vertical living has come to dominate Toronto's cityscape over the past few years. But critics have bemoaned the city's appetite for building up, which they say risks creating an uninspiring urban centre filled with insular spaces hidden behind steel and glass, serving the individual rather than the community around it. But is there a shift underway? A novel recent proposal by architect Bjarke Ingels, inspired by the fabled Habitat 67 apartment complex in Montréal (pictured), would see interlocking residential units scattered around a green public courtyard. And now New York-based architecture firm ODA has unveiled plans for a rising L-shaped residential complex along the Toronto waterfront that aims to maximise natural light and the wonderful view of Lake Ontario. It's a small but promising sign that Toronto’s property players are beginning to approach the city's burgeoning glass-tower skyline with the imagination that has been missing so far.

Image: Getty Images

TV turnover

Hong Kong gets its first free television station in more than 30 years with the soft launch of ViuTV this week. The slick broadcaster, controlled by the son of business tycoon Li Ka-shing, plans to take on the dominant TVB channel with original series, such as its soon-to-be-aired flagship programme Travel with Rivals. One eagerly anticipated episode will see political opponents Jasper Tsang Yok-sing and Kwok-hung “Long-hair” Leung, both members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, packed off to Poland to discuss past love affairs over a bottle of vodka. Another change on screen here this week: the world’s first Chinese-language television broadcaster, ATV, will finally switch off its signal after nearly 60 years. It’s not likely to be missed, however, as the station has become heavily reliant on reruns in recent years, with a mixture of controversies and changes in ownership curtailing original programming. Time to pass the remote.

Image: Tallinn Music Week

Tallinn’s got talent

Estonia's capital has long had a thriving music scene and Tallinn Music Week, which runs until 3 April, has this year expanded its scope to also explore pressing social issues. Apart from outdoor art installations, pop-up restaurants and a line-up of international music acts, a special programme on multiculturalism will include talks with humanitarian experts, artists and politicians, as well as documentaries. A Creativity for Change forum on Friday will feature panels on subjects including diversity, the migrant crisis and freedom of speech – all topics that chime with Estonia’s desire to integrate its large Russian-speaking population and tackle the thorny issue of resettling Syrian refugees. “We believe the richness of the 21st century is in its cultural and ethnic diversity,” said Helen Sildna, the organiser of Tallinn Music Week. “Tolerance is the glue that keeps societies happy, healthy and successful.”

From Monocle 24

Image: Catarina Portas

Design in Porto

How does a city create conditions in which designers can thrive? Section D attempts to answer that question by visiting Porto, a city that was hit hard by the financial crisis but is working to build a design scene on the foundations of its craft heritage.

From Monocle Films

Sapporo: Into the swim of things

With its drip-filter coffee, myriad craft shops and quality fishing scene, Hokkaido’s capital reels you in with a laidback lifestyle and plenty of creativity.

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