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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 28 April 2017

Europe

Image: Getty Images

Hungary for a fight

After Viktor Orban clamped down on Budapest’s US-funded university, the EU needs to follow through on its tough talk and rein him in.

With Brexit negotiations now underway in earnest and with the eurosceptic Marine Le Pen in the run-off to be France’s next president, the EU’s attentions have been firmly trained on the continent’s west. Yet the European Commission is also trying to fight fires on its eastern fringe in Hungary, where prime minister Viktor Orban has launched a public consultation called “Let’s Stop Brussels” and has clamped down on the US-funded Central European University in Budapest, which may be forced to close. On Wednesday the EU’s executive branch took a hard line with Orban, telling him that the latter policy broke the bloc’s rules on academic freedom and right to an education. The Hungarian leader, who has previously said he wants to run an “illiberal state”, has goaded Brussels long enough. The tough rhetoric from the EU is welcome but needs to be underlined with the threat of punitive measures.

Affairs

Image: Reuters

People person

Despite recent attacks on churches, the Pope has rejected an armoured vehicle in Egypt so he can reach out – literally – to his followers.

There’s one detail about Pope Francis’s arrival in Egypt today that has kept the Catholic press buzzing. In keeping with his very public persona – he also did a surprise Ted Talk this week – the pontiff has eschewed the offer of an armoured popemobile as he meets with believers across Egypt, insisting on a “sign of closeness” just weeks after terrorist attacks on Coptic churches. The pope’s visit comes when Egypt is dangerously polarised along religious lines but his meeting with president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will shine a light on the state’s promise to ensure greater security for all Egyptians. For his part, El-Sisi is looking for legitimacy and, after the thumbs up from US president Donald Trump earlier this month, will be doing all he can today to make sure things go smoothly – and safely – today.

Architecture

Image: Getty Images

Multipurpose multistoreys

It’s hard to imagine a day when there’ll be fewer cars in the US yet a developer in LA is doing just that.

Go to driving-mad cities like Los Angeles or Miami and you’ll see beautifully fashioned contemporary carparks that feel like temples to the automobile. But as much as the US is addicted to the car, change may be underway. The rise of on-demand taxis and the driverless car has led some to start thinking about a time when there are fewer cars on the road – and that’s manifesting itself in the repurposing of the traditional car park. Well, eventually anyway. AvalonBay Communities is currently redeveloping a chunk of LA’s Art District area, constructing a residential complex that seems to include a fairly standard parking garage. But look at the plans a little closer and you’ll see that the garage is designed to be turned into shops or even office space in the future, meaning the floors have been left flat instead of inclined on purpose. Hopefully the sign of things to come.

Fashion

Image: Getty Images

Rags to riches

Gucci’s creative director has helped the luxury label turn a corner.

The luxury fashion industry has been in the doldrums for the past year but, if this week is anything to go by, rosier times lie ahead. Firstly, Hermès has revealed its Q1 stock is up a staggering 13.5 per cent. Even more striking, though, is the news by luxury conglomerate Kering (which owns Gucci, Balenciaga and Saint Laurent) that its own first-quarter leap has come off the back of Gucci registering its highest sales in 20 years. The Italian brand’s remarkable results, which suggest that Chinese consumers are finally starting to buy again, are testament to the impact an auteur-like creative director can have on a label. Since taking over in 2015, Alessandro Michele has turned the house’s fortunes around with his distinctive romantic, ruffled designs inspired by historical references.

From Monocle 24

Image: http://monocle.com/radio/shows/the-urbanist/289/world-forum-on-urban-violence/

World Forum on Urban Violence

The Urbanist

A few days ago Madrid hosted the inaugural international summit on urban violence. Under the banner of ‘Cities of Peace’, the event was the culmination of a joint effort between the mayors of Paris and Madrid to respond to the challenge of how to ensure cities are bastions of peace.

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