The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 21 July 2017

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Same old story?

Despite Mexico’s move to stamp out corruption, weary residents have little hope that things will change.

Is Mexico cracking down on its crooked politicians? Javier Duarte (pictured) – the former governor of the state of Veracruz – was this week extradited from Guatemala back to his homeland on corruption charges. Though Duarte’s is the most high-profile case of a state leader skimming money for his own personal fortune, he’s not alone. Six former governors have been arrested, while a further nine are being investigated (two are on the run: César Duarte from the state of Chihuahua and Jorge Torres López from Coahuila). Will the investigations bring about a change in the way Mexican politics are conducted? The average resident isn’t hopeful: Mexico City taxi driver Andrés told Monocle that many still believe there is “total impunity” for politicians in his country.

Soft power

Image: USPS

Stamp of approval

Letters now come with more than a private missive – they’re also a barometer of a country’s mood.

When receiving a postcard this summer you might want to pay more attention to the stamp affixed to it: a number of recent stamp releases capture a surprisingly accurate snapshot of the mood in their country of origin. The least subtle design comes from North Korea, where the 85th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army is celebrated with cartoon propaganda, including one of missiles aiming at Capitol Hill in Washington. Meanwhile, the US Postal Service’s new stamps commemorate several cartoon villains with the sweeping fringe of The Little Mermaid’s sea witch Ursula bearing an uncanny resemblance to another floppy blonde mop we’ve seen too much of on TV. And in the UK, where “keep calm and carry on” seems to be the national mantra as Brexit looms, confidence in the nation’s architectural prowess is promoted on stamps that highlight the best contemporary British buildings.

Hospitality

Image: FRANCIS AMIAND

Make room

Has a Parisian hotel developed a concept that could make Airbnb feel like it’s outstayed its welcome?

Trying to adapt to the disruptive effect that Airbnb has had on their industry, hoteliers have often faced two options: emphasise the extra service perks they offer or try to imitate the competitor by experimenting with quasi-autonomous apartments. But now a new Paris-based player might have come up with a viable alternative. Designed by Ora Ito and Daniel Buren, Yooma is a 106-room affair – inside a former office complex close to the Beaugrenelle department store – where the vast majority of rooms are built to host between four and six people. The extra beds take up little space as they are arranged as double-level bunks but their handsome “capsule” design guarantees privacy even in a shared context. Families that don’t want to splash out on a series of double rooms can still enjoy the luxury of using the on-site restaurant, bar, rooftop garden and sauna.

Culture

Image: PA Images

Women first?

First Nations women finally get the chance to play Canada’s national sport.

A breakthrough of sorts is taking place at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) being held in Canada this week – and it’s within one of the country’s lesser-known exports. First Nations women are being allowed to play competitive lacrosse – Canada’s official national sport – for the first time, with the gold-medal game taking place today. Created by the Iroquois community in what is now Canada, the game was codified in Montréal in 1867. But women’s inclusion in First Nations’ teams is still something of a taboo in many communities due to traditional views about both the sport and gender. The hope is that the women’s matches at this year’s NAIG will shift perspectives.

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

Belo Horizonte: Nossa Grama Verde

The Urbanist

With a population of 2.5 million people, Belo Horizonte is no small town – and it possesses its own art scene and plenty of cultural life. Some residents have started a new urban network that aims to help residents appreciate their hometown from a different perspective.

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