The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 12 April 2017

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Cold snap

Relations between the US and Russia are cooling following Trump’s actions in Syria.

This isn’t how Vladimir Putin thought things would turn out. When his favoured candidate, Donald Trump, won last November’s US presidential election and then appointed Rex Tillerson – an oil executive who Putin had awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship – as secretary of state, the Russian president could be forgiven for thinking that US-Russian relations were about to change dramatically. But following last week’s chemical-weapons attack in Syria and the subsequent US bombing of a Syrian airbase, the Trump administration appears to have come round to President Obama’s more sceptical view of Moscow. “Comrade Trump, how so?” was the plaintive headline in Russia’s Novaya Gazeta. Tillerson is in Moscow today for meetings with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov. The warm welcome he may have once hoped for has surely gone cold.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Hot topics

The final televised debate for Jakarta’s gubernatorial election is expected to be heated.

Residents of Jakarta will tonight be tuning in to the final televised debate ahead of next week’s election for governor. The incumbent, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, is eager to protect his small opinion-poll lead over opponent Anies Baswedan but municipal issues are unlikely to take centre stage. The election has been marred by sectarian tension and large anti-Ahok rallies. Ahok, a Christian and ethnically Chinese, is on trial for blasphemy – if he wins his victory could still be overturned by a guilty verdict in his trial, which will be delivered the day after the election. The last debate was rather one-sided: Baswedan failed to show up, leaving Ahok in the spotlight for an hour. Then a rare moment of levity over the weekend saw both candidates back on screen cracking a few well-rehearsed jokes during a stand-up routine. Viewers should expect fewer laughs tonight, provided both candidates turn up.

Media

Image: Getty Images

News flash

Tension between Trump’s team and the media is taking its toll on US citizens.

It’s no secret that there’s bad blood between Donald Trump’s administration and the media and, according to a new study by the Pew Research Institute, 73 per cent of American adults said they believe that that tension interferes with their ability to access vital political news. The survey didn’t ask respondents who bore responsibility for the tension but the negative view cut across party lines: 88 per cent of Democrats and 78 per cent of Republicans characterised Trump’s relationship with the media as “unhealthy”. Though the president has purposely embraced a hostile approach to the media, preferring to muddy the waters rather than articulate his policy, the strategy is likely to backfire. After all, the majority of US citizens also agree on something else as Trump’s approval rating continues to dip below 40 per cent.

Infrastructure

Image: Alamy

Green rooms

Vancouver is reopening vacant buildings in an effort to revitalise its park system.

Although rather unremarkable at first glance, the small pitch-roofed former park-keeper’s houses that pepper Vancouver’s public spaces are among some of the most quietly recognisable features of the city’s park system. They’re now enjoying a new lease of life too: the city of Vancouver’s Field House Activation programme has reopened many of these buildings – left vacant by changes to the city’s park-keeping practices – to artists, gardeners, cooks and community groups. The goal is to reinvigorate the experience of Vancouver’s green spaces. The current roster of tenants includes a film collective, a community-gardening-and-cookery alliance and a storytelling programme focused on comic books. By repurposing existing structures in a city where space increasingly comes at a premium, Vancouver has shown an imaginative and nimble approach to its public spaces.

From Monocle 24

Salone del Mobile 2017

Section D

The world's biggest interior design fair wrapped up last week in Milan. In this episode we bring you a report from the show, including conversations with some of the biggest names in design.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Quality of Life Conference

For the 2017 edition we’re switching the format, pace and pitch. We’ll kick things off on Thursday evening with cocktails and then devote all of Friday to a fast-paced eight hours of discussions, one-on-ones and plenty of Q&A mic time (followed by dinner and some moves on the dance floor). Saturday will feature an architectural running tour and a refreshing dip, followed by a leisurely brunch and gallery tour. Book your ticket here.

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