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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 27 October 2017

Affairs

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Flip side of the coin

Qatar is looking to one-up its neighbours by introducing a minimum salary.

It would seem obscene for the world’s richest country per capita not to have a minimum wage. Yet Qatar, that land of breakneck building and abundant energy reserves, only yesterday stated its intention to create an essential salary for its many migrant workers – mostly from South Asia – who have built the city largely from scratch. Of course, this comes off the back of extensive criticism from human rights observers as Qatar looks to host the World Cup in 2022 (a 2013 report reckoned 1,300 workers had died in construction incidents on projects for the event). But there’s also the matter of the ongoing blockade against the country by its Gulf neighbours. Is Qatar is looking to take the relative moral high ground in a region known for its cutthroat attitude to labour? It is too little, too late.

Politics

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First loser

Argentina’s former leader comes second to incumbent Mauricio Macri amid ongoing corruption scandals.

She may have won the primaries but the final midterm vote wasn’t to be. Argentina’s former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her new party Unidad Ciudadana (Citizen’s Unity) lost the symbolic province of Buenos Aires to her archrival, current leader Mauricio Macri’s Cambiemos (Let’s Change) coalition. As runner-up she still gets a senate seat – meaning she won’t be disappearing from politics – but it’ll be a bitter pill to swallow. The results mark the gradual demise of Fernández’s leftist populism – not helped by allegations of graft. Earlier in the week her former planning minister and a member of Argentina’s lower house Julio De Vido had his immunity stripped so he could be detained on corruption charges. Cristina is looking diminished.

Culture

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Bigger picture

Bumper government funding for the arts in Canada is leading to acclaim both at home and abroad.

An indigenous visual artist from Nova Scotia has been named winner of this year’s Sobey Art award, one of Canada’s most lucrative prizes in the field. Ursula Johnson, an installation and performance artist whose work deals with the legacy of colonialism in Canada, won the CA$50,000 (€33,000) prize on Wednesday night and it comes at an interesting time for the arts in Canada. Overseas successes by Canadian artists in music and film are being echoed by a boost in government funding for cultural sectors across the country. “What we’re trying to do with this award is celebrate Canadian contemporary art at home,” says Rob Sobey, director of the Sobey Art Foundation, which administers the prize. “We also want to get the word out about our own contemporary visual artists.”

Urbanism

Dream on

As Brisbane’s bike scene hits the skids it’s clear Australia’s urban planners need to put pedal to the metal.

The daydream of healthy Aussie urban life – cycling to work and enjoying lush city parks – may be just that, a fantasy. The failure of Brisbane’s shared cycle scheme, recently shown to have lost AU$13m (€8.5m) since a roll out in 2010, underlines the pitfalls of Australia’s stringent rules for cyclists and not-so-cycle-ready streets. Strict stipulations about wearing helmets and a clunky system to hire the bikes have put off many from using the system. It’s a missed opportunity: a recent report highlighted that town planners down under need to step up their game if they want to maintain their nation’s “clean green” reputation.

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

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