The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 8 September 2017

Affairs

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War games

Israel has reacted to Hezbollah’s growing strength by simulating an invasion.

With the end of the Isis siege on Deir ez-Zor in Syria this week, the Assad regime now has a corridor within its control running from Iran to Lebanon; and it’s not gone unnoticed by Israel. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) has begun a 10-day military drill on the border with Lebanon amid fears that Hezbollah, strengthened by Iran, may be looking to reignite its frozen war with the Jewish state. The IDF exercise is a large-scale simulation of an invasion that brings in land, air, sea and intelligence units. The Syrian war has added to Hezbollah’s power and influence – its soldiers now battle-hardened from supporting the Assad regime – and it was only a matter of time before Israel would react.

Politics

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Man of the people

Taiwan’s new premier may have a divine nickname but it’s his humble upbringing that the government wants to tap.

Politics in Taiwan can be a tough and messy business and recent days have been no exception. The premier, Lin Chuan, stepped down on Monday after getting caught in the crossfire of blame for the declining popularity of President Tsai Ing-wen, a member of the Democratic Progressive party. Lin’s successor will be William Lai, the well-liked politician who has earned the nickname “God Lai” for his successful mayorship of the city of Tainan. “His grassroots background, in contrast to Lin’s academic persona, will serve well to execute policies and connect the government with the public,” says Rosalia Wu, a DPP legislator. The party has high expectations for its new cabinet, which takes office today. “The top priority will be to make the public understand and, more importantly, feel the impact of positive policies, such as tax reforms and new labour laws.” And could even more changes lie ahead? Well many are tipping Lai as a likely successor to Tsai.

Art

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Snap happy

With prestigious auction houses holding contemporary-photography sales, it’s clear the sector is shooting for the stars.

This month Sotheby’s New York will stage its first contemporary-photography auction, tapping into a rapidly growing market. The sale on 28 September will feature 94 lots estimated at €2.5m, including works by David Hockney and German photographer Thomas Struth. It may have taken photography a while to draw in the big investors but today international museums, galleries and art collectors are increasingly competing for the best prints, yet even high-profile photographs remain more affordable than fine art. According to a report by British private bank Coutts, photography is the most valuable and fastest growing collectible segment. Meanwhile Christie’s, long in the photography game, is preparing to sell more than 400 prints from the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The auction world has a new focus.

Film

Image: Alamy

Picture of health

While Toronto’s film festival has brought out the big guns, it’s also highlighted the city’s smaller stars.

The Toronto International Film Festival got underway yesterday and beyond world premieres and an enviable roster of new films by Canadian filmmakers, this year’s spectacle has thrown a light on the resurgence of the neighbourhood cinema. In recent years a number of cinemas showing independent films and documentaries have been revived around Toronto. Among them the elegant Royal cinema in Little Italy which was saved from ruin after it was transformed into a post-production facility by day and a screening room by night. The reincarnated Hot Docs Cinema and Revue are also in rude health – something of a counter to audiences opting to stay at home and boot-up an on-demand service.

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

After Harvey

The Urbanist

When hurricane Harvey struck Houston, no one could have predicted the level of destruction it caused. As floodwaters retreat and rubble is lifted, we shine the spotlight on this city and the way urban areas can start to heal after the grieving is done.

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