The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 22 March 2017

Aviation

Image: Getty Images

Flying the flag

Could the US’s seemingly security-related ban on electronics on certain flights actually be commercially motivated?

Pity the Pakistani technology entrepreneur who booked a flight from Karachi to New York via Dubai hoping they could spend 10 hours working on their laptop, or the parent who was hoping that during the flight from Doha to Houston the kids could be plugged into iPads all the way across the Atlantic. The US’s decision to ban larger electronics (to which the UK has also now followed suit) on flights to the US out of 10 key Middle East and North African airports is a curious one. At first glance, it appears to be security related – but could it also be commercially motivated? For years America’s big carriers have complained that their Gulf counterparts aren't playing on a level field and have sought intervention: seems the CEOs of the US airlines have won some sort of victory. So too have the makers of pens and good old notepads, as well as publishers: while Monocle loves in-flight wi-fi, this ban might temporarily boost magazine sales at the Middle East’s main airports.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Cold shoulder

After this week’s revelation from the FBI, Putin’s hopes of closer ties with Trump may have gone out of the window.

One wonders what was going through the mind of Russian president Vladimir Putin on Monday as FBI director James Comey confirmed the existence of an investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. While Putin clearly favoured a Trump presidency, any hopes he might have had for better relations between the two nations – or for a president who agreed with his worldview – have now gone out of the window. For while Trump talked about his admiration for Putin and diluted his party’s platform on Ukraine, the US president now finds himself in a bind: any attempt to strike a deal with Putin, or even to soften the US stance on Russia, will be met with howls of anger – not just from Democrats but many Republicans too. Putin may have been better off with Hillary after all.

Hospitality

Image: Getty Images

Room at the inn?

Tourists aplenty but nowhere to put them? Make like this Japanese prefecture and get the governor to move out.

The governor of Nara prefecture in western Japan has two years left of his term but is already planning on vacating his official residence. He’s not being kicked out: his administration will lease the 95-year-old home, and other historic buildings on the leafy three-hectare plot in Nara city, to a luxury hotel chain. Developer Mori Trust is leading the project and architect Kengo Kuma is in charge of giving the property a makeover. Nara officials are hoping that renovating this cultural gem will help them cash in on the country’s surge of visitors from overseas. While the prefecture’s ancient temples and its significance as a former capital are a big tourist draw, most visitors opt to stay in nearby Osaka and Kyoto. That’s because Nara has a shortage of hotel rooms: just 7,250, fewer than any other prefecture. The project is expected to open in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a tasteful renovation could have tourists flocking.

Technology

Pie in the sky

For some of Canada’s most remote residents, drones could soon be the best way of doing the weekly shop.

Drone-delivery systems may still be regarded with an air of frivolity but a Toronto-based technology company believes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may be able to transform the movement of products to some of Canada’s most remote Arctic regions. Drone Delivery Canada is a pilot project devoted to delivering goods to far-flung villages in northern Ontario, particularly First Nations communities. Traditionally it can take weeks to deliver groceries and medical supplies to the Canadian north, given that much of the territory is only accessible by air; Drone Delivery’s UAVs will be able to deliver goods weighing up to 4.5kg to remote homes far more quickly. The service plans to formally launch out of Thunder Bay early next year. Amazon who?

From Monocle 24

US architecture: art deco in Dallas and midwestern modernism

Section D

Our New York bureau chief Ed Stocker describes some architecture that's caught his attention on his recent travels. Plus: a preview of the April issue of Monocle.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Travel Guide Series: Rome

From ancient architecture to unbeatable boutiques, Rome has always been one of Europe’s most popular destinations. Our guide will take you down the city’s lesser-known thoroughfares full of freshly ground coffee and culinary surprises. Published by Gestalten, the guide is available now at The Monocle Shop.

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