Wednesday 17 August 2016 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 17/8/2016

The Monocle Minute

Image: Matt Dunham/PA Images

Gold panning

Host nations always do well in the Olympics: Great Britain won its largest bounty of modern times at the 2012 Games, China topped the table for the first time in 2008 and Greece broke its own modern-day record in 2004, winning six golds. Brazil, though, may not hit those heights. So far the South American hosts have bagged just three golds – two down on its 2004 record haul. Beach volleyball is still to come but Brazil may pay for its failure to win more judo medals last week. At least the country has a new sporting hero to celebrate: pole vaulter Thiago Braz da Silva won an unexpected gold in the Olympic stadium on Monday night.

Image: Sam Yeh/Getty Images

Tsai’s trying times

New political leaders are expected to quickly get things done but for Taiwan’s president it’s a case of everything coming undone, from freak weather to workers’ strikes. The latest calamity to afflict Tsai Ing-wen’s administration involves the withdrawal of her nominees to fill the top two posts in the island’s judiciary following criticism from opposition parties. It comes only a week after the resignation of the president’s pick to represent Taiwan in Singapore, who was caught drink-driving in Taipei on the same day he was sworn in. Tsai’s first 100 days in office draw to a close at the end of this month; she’ll also be turning 60. While her peers contemplate retirement the Taiwanese president will be looking forward to getting back to work in September.

Image: Agung Parameswara/Getty Images

Running dry

What’s a holiday without a cocktail (or three)? Indonesia may be about to find out as the largely Muslim nation – a thriving tourist hotspot, particularly for nearby Aussies and Kiwis – mulls over a proposed alcohol ban. A bill put forward by the United Development party and the Prosperous Justice party calls for a stop to the production, distribution and consumption of alcoholic beverages with a strength of more than one per cent. Unsurprisingly the mere thought of prohibition has the drinks and tourism industries panicking. The head of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association Hariyadi Sukamdani told the Jakarta Post last week, “If the bill is passed our business will be done.”

Image: Crystal Cruises

Ship shape

Yesterday the luxury cruise ship Crystal Serenity set sail on a 32-day voyage from Alaska to New York; it’s the largest vessel to cross the Northwest Passage in the Arctic. Recent years have seen more icebergs melt, clearing the way for a journey that was deemed too treacherous just a few decades ago. The more than 1,000 passengers on board – who have paid between CA$22,000 (€15,000) and CA$120,000 (€82,800) for their tickets – will have more than just bragging rights by the time they arrive in New York. On its journey the ship will dock at two First Nations communities in Canada where passengers can learn about their culture and the key environmental issues facing the region. Meanwhile, just in case a Titanic-like catastrophe were to happen, the US Department of Defense has rallied a practice drill comprising various emergency response agencies from both the US and Canada.

Image: Adán Sánchez de Pedro


The 13th Spanish Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism was held this year in the historic Alhambra palace in Granada. We explore the trajectory of Spanish city-building.

Home front – Okinawa

The functional concrete bungalows hastily built after the Second World War to house US troops are becoming a popular option for young Japanese looking for more living space.


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