Friday 11 November 2016 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 11/11/2016

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

The northern front

Estonia is in the throes of a blizzard. The capital Tallinn is currently under a thick blanket of snow and its 37-year-old prime minister Taavi Roivas has been frozen out. The country’s government is in freefall after parliament passed a vote of no confidence after months of tension and Roivas resigned. The US election has pushed Estonia’s political turmoil from the headlines at a time when the country’s stability is more important than ever. A heavy Nato presence here monitors Russia’s provocative displays of muscle by air and sea, which ramped up while the world was distracted by events in the US. Many are now wondering what Nato’s protection will look like in an age of Trump – a professed admirer of Vladimir Putin.

In their shoes

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s engagement with human rights, whether at home or abroad, has been a vital window into the harsh realities and cruel uncertainties of many people’s lives around the world. For his new exhibition Laundromat at the Deitch Projects in New York, on until 23 December, the artist has gathered thousands of items of clothing that he collected from a refugee camp in Idomeni, a small village in northern Greece, where close to 15,000 men, women and children from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq spent weeks living in difficult conditions. When the camp was shut down and the refugees were moved on in a hurry, they left behind clothes, shoes, personal mementos and photographs. Ai Weiwei has collected, washed, sorted and now exhibited these items, as well as photographs of his time at the refugee camp, as a powerful and unflinching reminder of our turbulent times.

Image: Getty Images

Paying more for pop

At least there’s some news to sweeten the results of the US election. Health-conscious residents of San Francisco, Albany and Oakland in California and Boulder, Colorado, have voted for a tax on sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages. The measure has already proven effective in Berkeley – the first city in the US to introduce the tax – where consumption of sugary drinks decreased by about 20 per cent. However Susan Neely, CEO of the American Beverage Association, thinks that rather than introducing a tax, the ultimate solution is the reduction of calories and sugar from all drinks, something she is working on through a pledge that aims to lower calories consumed in beverages by 20 per cent by 2025. We’ll drink to that!

Image: Alamy

Word to the wise

The Singapore Writers Festival is in full swing, hosting its largest line-up of literary talent to date. More than 310 home-grown and international writers – such as Singaporean poet Edwin Thumboo, Man Booker prize-listed Indonesian author Eka Kurniawan, US prize-winning author Lionel Shriver and German investigative journalist Frederik Obermaier – are assembling in the nation’s Civic District to take part in readings and discussions. This year’s theme Sayang (ethnic Malay for “love”) shows that the festival is embracing the domestic literary scene, which has quietly built a strong following (close to 20,000 turned up to the festival last year) and a distinct identity.

Image: Getty Images

Donald Trump and the Democrats

Following the Republican nominee’s win, our New York bureau chief Ed Stocker looks at what a Donald Trump presidency means for the Democrats.

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