The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 13 May 2016

Image: Getty Images

Night-time nihilism

Fresh off the win of the presidential election in the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte has announced a slew of controversial policies, including a nationwide ban on buying alcohol after 01.00 and a crackdown on the national pastime of late-night karaoke. Duterte has been dismissive of the detrimental effects such restrictions could have on his country’s tourism industry, which is propped up by its perfect beaches and heady nightlife. These assets aren’t frivolous; they helped the developing nation generate €4.4bn last year. The new leader is likely to continue the hard-line leadership approach that marked his 22-year reign as mayor of southern Davao City; there his approach protected tourists and citizens by stamping out crime with an iron fist. Yet while his tough talk no doubt strikes fear into the hearts of country’s criminals and corrupt officials, killing the fun in this hugely vibrant nation will be a step backwards.

What’s the delay?

One could argue that Canadian trains might feel more at home in a museum than on a track. The average age of vehicles owned by Crown corporation Via Rail is more than 40 years old; they were supposed to be retired at about 25. Add to that the fact that these passenger trains share the tracks with slower freight trains and it’s no wonder about 25 per cent of journeys were late in 2014, and that ridership has been declining since 2010. Seeing danger signs in the future of rail in the country, Via is asking public pension funds and the federal government to invest in dedicated high-frequency tracks and new trains to the tune of CA$2bn (€1.4bn) and CA$1.3bn (€0.9bn) respectively, calling the issue a matter of “survival”. As the government deliberates the request, we see this as an opportunity for Ottawa to flex some soft-power muscle and show off the best of what homegrown train manufacturer Bombardier can do.

Image: PA Images

Rock and roll

Though Las Vegas isn’t renowned for its art scene, the surrounding Mojave desert does have a rich history of land art. The latest example is the Swiss installation-artist Ugo Rondinone’s work “Seven Magic Mountains”, which debuted this week. The bright and obscure stack of boulders stands at more than seven metres tall and will remain in the desert for the next two years. The boulders – painted in different dayglow shades and each weighing up to 22 tonnes – are situated about 16km south of Las Vegas Boulevard and not far from Jean Dry Lake, where Michael Heizer and Jean Tinguely created land-art works in the 1960s. Rondinone’s work is visible across the desert, reminiscent of the juxtaposition of flashy Vegas to its otherwise rugged and natural surrounding.

Image: Jumilla

Funny feeling

Of all the national stereotypes out there, the Russians’ supposed knack for unflappability – some would call it a lack of emotion – is enduring and Gallup’s annual global emotion studies place the country on the steely end of the spectrum. But a new museum in the centre of St Petersburg seeks to put Russians back in touch with themselves: the Museum of Emotions has been created by artist Alexei Sergienko, who is somewhat of a provocateur (known for ambiguously sentimental portraits of Vladimir Putin) and promises that people will “feel more in an hour than they have in their entire lives”. Similar in scope to the interactive and sensual exhibits at New York’s Museum of Feelings last year, one suspects that Sergienko’s efforts to stimulate so-called emotional literacy in his compatriots will have a more pointed, satirical tone.

From Monocle 24

Image: Bryars & Bryars

History and politics

We examine the history and politics behind the mapping of our cities, flick through a few old maps with antiques dealer Tim Bryars and ask what these maps can teach us about our urban landscapes.

From Monocle Films

King’s Cross: urban transformation

Regeneration on a human scale is at the heart of property developer Argent’s vision for London’s King’s Cross. Monocle Films explores the reality of its urban concept.

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