The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 5 August 2016

Image: PA Images

Uneasy union?

Many world leaders would like to think that every overseas jolly they make is of global significance – and it may not always be the case but sometimes handshakes and photo-ops carry enormous consequences. Early next week Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan will touch down in St Petersburg to meet Russian premier Vladimir Putin. It’s the first face-to-face between the two since Turkey downed a Russian jet on its border at the end of last year. It’s also Erdogan’s first foreign visit since July’s failed coup and the world will be watching closely because anti-American – and in general anti-West – rhetoric has been rife in Turkey’s public discourse ever since. If these two old regional rivals patch things up in a big way it could prove to be a pivot that the world, and especially Nato, will be unable to ignore.

Image: Reuters

Get the picture

After last week’s announcement of the line-up for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff), this week saw organisers release the list of homegrown pictures that will be showing in the city’s cinemas come September. Established and emerging auteurs reflecting the nation’s diversity will light up the screens. A highlight will be the North American premiere of It’s Only the End of the World by 27-year-old Canadian director Xavier Dolan. Starring Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard and Gaspard Ulliel, the film tells the story of a fatally ill writer returning home to share the news with his family and has already won the Grand Prix and Ecumenical Jury Prize at Cannes this year. While Tiff may be known globally as a sneak peek at the following year’s Oscar contenders, it plays a crucial role for domestic film-makers to showcase their best work to the world.

Image: Getty Images

Blossoming bond

Despite its size Singapore wields great economic and political weight, as evidenced by the city-state’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong’s invitation to a US state dinner at the White House this week to celebrate their flourishing 50-year relationship. As the US’s “anchor” to the region, Singapore proves that trade smarts and a friendly soft-power approach can overcome the limitations posed by a small population and landmass. The six-day visit saw fresh discussions over security, innovation and education partnerships take place, including a joint push for the Trans Pacific Partnership, a keystone US-Asia trade agreement. Another highlight was Loong’s toast, in which he announced that Singapore has named an orchid hybrid (the national flower) in honour of the Obamas.

Image: Alamy

Merry adventures

Plans for the replacement of London’s brutalist Robin Hood Gardens have been revealed this week; the 1970s estate in Poplar failed to secure a buyer and last year was marked to be demolished. The site will welcome 268 new homes in its second phase, the first having been completed last year. Architects Haworth Tompkins and Metropolitan Workshop have each designed two buildings for the western block, while a central plot of green space will remain. The historic social-housing complex had architects such as Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid, Robert Venturi and Toyo Ito petitioning to save it and although the structure will be destroyed, this large public area will be preserved. Shielded from the surrounding roads, the clearing is a rare feature in this dense part of London – subsequently one to be celebrated.

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

Beirut’s taxi-sharing system

Beirut’s shared taxis – known locally as servees – are a cheap transport option, a window into the mood on the street and a unique space for conversation and chance encounters.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Travel Guide Series: Rio de Janeiro

To get into the spirit of the Olympic Games, Monocle’s travel guide to Rio de Janeiro will help you discover every pocket of the city. It is one of few global cities that strikes a balance between cosmopolitan hub and natural wonder; as well as its openness and unique mix of people, the city has a wide range of galleries, restaurants and world-famous beaches. Published by Gestalten, The Monocle Travel Guide to Rio de Janeiro is available now at The Monocle Shop.

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