The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong x Monocle logo

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 21 April 2016

Image: Aero Icarus

High hopes

Indonesia’s aviation reputation has been tainted in recent years with poor safety records barring most of its international airlines from expanding into Europe. But the skies are looking clearer for national carrier Garuda Indonesia, which acquired 14 new A330-900neo airliners through an Airbus deal that was signed on Tuesday and has just switched its Jakarta-London flights from Gatwick to Heathrow. The brand is a consistent contender in top cabin-crew rankings but has struggled with financial difficulties. Garuda’s return to profit last year and impressive expansion plans show Indonesia’s potential as a key aviation player in Southeast Asia. With the regional market heating up, we hope Garuda’s success inspires ambition from the nation’s other carriers.

Image: Daniel X. O’Neil

Empires strikes back

Problems continue for Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plans to bring the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to his city’s lakefront. The mayor has been championing the museum, which is endowed by Star Wars director George Lucas and focuses on everything from comics to fine art, for the past two years but actually getting the city’s approval has been a challenge. Now the recently revealed massive cost of the project – the mayor has had to extend several taxes that were due to expire to help drum up $1.2bn (€1bn) in funds – has come under fire. Emanuel doesn’t seem ready to let the dream die, however, telling naysayers this week that it’s “an investment in the future”.

Image: Coniferconifer

Man-made beauty

In Toronto they come with little bells embossed in the centre; in central London they are patterned with Victoria-era designs; and in Japan they are colourful metal canvasses moulded with emblems of the country’s fauna. We are, of course, talking about manhole covers: those overlooked details of city life studded in the pavements beneath our feet. Now Montréal wants to join the club ahead of the city’s 375th anniversary next year. Along with the Projet Montréal artists collective, city councillor Guillaume Lavoie has called for a citywide design contest to create new manhole covers ahead of the festivities. The proposal will be discussed at city hall this week. We’ll be keeping our eyes on Montréal’s streets, hoping to see the fruits of their labours.

Image: Getty Images

Shaky ground

The slow drip of information from nuclear-plant managers Tepco after Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in March 2011 infuriated many Japanese. The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has now come in for similar criticism following the earthquakes that hit Kumamoto Prefecture on Thursday, killing 59 and injuring hundreds. The only two commercial reactors in operation in Japan are at Sendai in Kagoshima Prefecture, about 120km away. The NRA didn’t provide any information about the four nuclear plants in the region, including Sendai, until Friday, prompting the government to call for a speedier disclosure procedure. On Tuesday the nuclear watchdog said that in the future it will pass on information about the condition of the nuclear plants in the area any time there is an earthquake of five or higher on the Japanese seismic intensity scale. It should go some way to calming jittery nerves.

From Monocle 24

Innovation at Abbey Road

The world’s most famous recording studio has launched an innovative programme to find and mentor the next generation of music-technology companies. We swing by Abbey Road, land of the Beatles and Pink Floyd, to meet Jon Eades of Abbey Road Red and hear the story of one promising start-up from the inaugural class: 3D headphone-maker Ossic.

From Monocle Films

Art of war: Afghanistan

Artist and illustrator George Butler received a visit from Monocle Films prior to his exhibition of artwork of war-torn Afghanistan at the Imperial War Museum North. His ink-and-watercolour scenes bring a new depth to reportage more often the preserve of combat photographers.

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