The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 20 September 2016

Image: Khalil Mazraawi/Getty Images

Royal rumble?

You’d be forgiven for not knowing that today Jordan will hold its most important election in years – even Jordanians are pretty nonplussed. Much of the apathy stems from a feeling in the country that parliament is ineffective and power ultimately resides with the monarchy of Abdullah II. Yet a raft of reforms make these elections extremely important: for the first time in about a decade the Islamic Action Front, the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood, will be jostling for votes and its supporters promise a strong turnout, while newcomer party Maan List promises greater separation of religion and state if it takes seats in government. Amid the roiling turmoil of the Middle East Jordan pitches itself as a bastion of democratic stability despite its royal core but today that democracy may have crucial implications.

Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Suspect apprehended

Yesterday police identified and arrested the man suspected of being behind this weekend's bombings in New York and New Jersey. Ahmad Khan Rahami, a naturalised US citizen born in Afghanistan, was taken into custody in Linden, NJ, following a gunfight with police. He was identified through surveillance footage, which recorded him in Chelsea – where Saturday’s explosion rocked the Manhattan neighbourhood and injured 29 people – and Elizabeth, NJ, where police found a backpack with pipe bombs near the train station. President Obama, who is currently in New York for the UN’s General Assembly, asked the public and press to “refrain from getting ahead of the investigation” to ensure that no false reports get out. Despite earlier announcements renouncing a link to international terrorism, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday that he “would not be surprised if we did have a foreign connection to the act”.

Image: Andrew Harnik/PA Images

Connection problems

Surfing the internet, checking emails and tweeting have in recent years become a human right. And not since the UN deemed blocking access to the internet a violation of this right in 2011 has a country systematically pulled the plug and denied its citizens access. But now, in a move not seen since the Arab Spring, the central African country of Gabon has been shutting off the internet from 06.00 to 18.00 daily following a four-day internet blackout. The curfew is the work of president Ali Bongo and his Gabonese Democratic party (PDG), whose success in last month’s elections has been marred by allegations of corruption and foul play from main rival Jean Ping. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon condemned the country’s censorship but whether service will be fully restored remains in the hands of Bongo and his party.

Image: Palazzo Strozzi

Ai ai, captain

After London, Berlin and Washington, China’s most well-known artist Ai Weiwei is finally bringing his monumental pieces to Italy for his first major show in the country. From this Friday to 22 January Florence’s imposing renaissance Palazzo Strozzi will be dedicated to Libero (Free), a retrospective exhibition spanning the artist’s 1980s work to his most recent political installations. Yet there’s no need to wait until the end of the week: the building is already drawing crowds thanks to Ai’s installation Reframe, which sees 22 rubber lifeboats framing the palazzo’s second-storey windows in reference to the migrant crisis, which has forced millions of refugees into boats like these on their precarious journey across the Mediterranean and onto Italy’s shores.

From Monocle 24

Image: Andrew Urwin

Is London still the cultural capital of the world?

In this special live edition of ‘Culture with Robert Bound’ our host is joined by Victoria Siddall, director of Frieze Fairs; Jordan Gross, founder of Oval Space; Sir Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of the Barbican Centre; and Will Hodgkinson, critic for ‘The Times’ to assess London’s arts scene.

From Monocle Films

Monocle preview: October issue 2016

Our October issue comes complete with our Style Directory, brimming with sharp silhouettes and bringing you our favourite designers, shopkeepers and brands. You’ll also discover who the Dutch really are and have a chance to brush up on your art-buying skills. Available now at The Monocle Shop.

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