The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 12 June 2017

Election

Image: Getty Images

Belle Époque

The new French president’s young party is on track for a parliamentary victory.

Though “strong and stable” might have been the slogan UK prime minister Theresa May used for her own (disastrous) political campaign, it appears the phrase much more aptly applies to neighbouring France’s new president. After the first round of voting in parliamentary elections on Sunday, Emmanuel Macron’s party is on track to win a huge majority and could capture more than 400 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly. This latest success follows not only Macron’s own historic victory but also speculation that his young party would fail to find cut through in parliamentary polls, therefore stifling his ability to bring about change. Although nothing will be decided until the second round of voting takes place on 18 June, it’s already clear that France is on track for a strong and stable government.

Environment

Image: Alamy

Sea change

Three Asian countries are teaming up to protect the Arctic – gaining political advantage is an added bonus.

It’s a rare moment of political co-operation among three of Asia’s richest nations. A recent meeting in Tokyo has seen China, Japan and South Korea agree to join forces to study the impact of pollution and other climate-related factors on the Arctic. The pact’s focus is on research to protect the marine environment of the Arctic Ocean but there’s a political advantage as well. All three nations stand to benefit from having shipping lanes through the Northern Sea Route, which connects Asia to Europe without going through the Suez Canal and would help lower transport costs. The route is also free of the tense military manoeuvring that’s taking place in the South China Sea. And with observer status to the Arctic Council, they have another motivation for showing that they are team players: the possibility of having a say in the future rules for development in the Arctic.

Security

Image: Reuters

Five-star fortress

Hong Kong is stepping up security ahead of president Xi Jinping’s arrival; luckily one hotel is making it easier.

Hong Kong security units have their work cut out for them this year with the steady arrival of VIP guests. Though the forces had practice during visits from the presidents of Indonesia and the Philippines last month, the city is now gearing up for Xi Jinping’s arrival in late June for the 20th anniversary of the Sino-British handover. Prior to the visit, the government will be setting up water barricades around government buildings and central areas; Hong Kongers can expect to see extra helicopters, speed boats and police vans around the city over the next two weeks as drills take place. Luckily for the city’s forces, the Grand Hyatt, Xi’s expected hotel of choice, will also do some of the security work for them. As the five-star establishment sits on the harbour, James Elms, a retired senior superintendent of Royal HK Police, says, “it’s a very security-friendly hotel, making it an easy location to isolate and minimise public disturbance.”

Design

Image: MoMa

Bigger picture

In celebration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday, MoMA is unpacking the architect’s archive.

To commemorate what would have been Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday, MoMA is staging a retrospective dedicated to America’s favourite late-modernist architect. “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive”, opening today, is filled with some 450 sketches, photographs and models, from whimsical watercolours (such as the one of the grand Unity Temple in Illinois) to painted wooden models of low-slung houses. The landmark anniversary presents an ideal opportunity to reflect on the architect, who made a lasting impact on modernist architecture in the US with his bold horizontal lines, unbounded imagination (one of his sketches is of a mile-high skyscraper) and pioneering views about buildings interacting closely with nature. One of the exhibition standouts? A brightly coloured drawing of Fallingwater, an ingenious concrete and brick house that cascades elegantly onto a waterfall in rural Pennsylvania and was built in 1935.

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