The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 29 April 2016

Image: Getty Images

Talking Turkey

It might not be immediately apparent but the Turkish government has launched a charm offensive. Ties with the EU remain strained over German satire aimed at the president but Turkish diplomats are quietly patching things up in their own backyard. A longstanding feud with Jerusalem over Israel’s deadly 2010 raid on a peace flotilla is mellowing and there’s talk of a Turkish energy ship being sent to help power Gaza. Soured relations with the UAE are also being remedied, with the Emirates planning to appoint a new ambassador to Turkey on 7 May. This renewed spirit of détente shouldn’t be so surprising, however: with a dismal tourism season forecast for the summer and accusations of isolationism directed at the administration, Ankara certainly needs friends right now.

Image: Norio Nakayama

Bear necessities

Two weeks after a series of earthquakes rocked Japan’s southwestern prefecture of Kumamoto, the region’s biggest celebrity Kumamon is pitching in to help. The prefecture’s mascot – a mischievous black bear with red cheeks, a surprised expression and more than 471,000 Twitter followers – usually only poses on tourism brochures and product packaging after Kumamoto officials have approved its use. But since the quakes, officials have been so swamped with requests to put the bear's image on charity-event posters, banners and donation boxes that they are letting fundraisers do so willy-nilly. From May through June, Kumamon will even appear on tickets for the national lottery, known as Dream Jumbo, with ¥4bn (€33m) of lottery proceeds expected to go towards Kumamoto’s rebuilding.

Image: Getty Images

On the money

The Canadian Bank Note Company (CBN), established in 1897, could be forgiven for feeling flush at the moment. The privately owned firm, headquartered in Ottawa, designs and produces banknotes, passports and lottery systems for clients around the world. One of its most recent creations – New Zealand's beautiful five-dollar bill (pictured) depicting the Himalayan explorer Sir Edmund Hillary – was garlanded with the prestigious Bank Note of the Year award this week. CBN is also at the forefront of the effort by central banks worldwide to move away from paper bank notes and into polymer currency. Couple that with its production of passports and other essential secure documentation for national governments and it’s clear that CBN – long one of Canada's quietest soft-power players – offers plenty of bang for its buck.

Turning of the Seasons

It is the end of an era at the iconic Four Seasons in New York. The restaurant, designed in 1959 by Philip Johnson for Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building, will close on 16 July and reopen with a fresh design and concept. The fixed interior has listed status but Chicago's Wright Auction house will be overseeing the sale of nearly 500 moveable lots, including the original Barcelona seating from the lobby, custom Tulip tables with polished bronze tops, pots and pans made exclusively for the restaurant, tableware, custom-made wine coolers, planters and serving carts. The restaurant's famous bar, sculptures and curtains will remain intact but be sure to imbibe a final Vesper martini perched on one of the original bar stools before the sale on 26 July.

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

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From Monocle Films

QoL film 1: City fixes

Monocle’s second Quality of Life Conference kicked off in Vienna with a set of urban provocations. Here are Monocle’s top 10 city fixes.

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