Latin America was once so entwined with US policy – usually for bad rather than good – that it used to be referred to as the US’s “backyard”. But no longer. After Barack Obama’s much-championed détente with Cuba, Donald Trump has now thrown up barriers on two new fronts: yesterday the White House implemented a range of measures that will make it harder for US companies to do business on the Caribbean island, including banning transactions with 180 companies. Meanwhile, the State Department ended a programme that allowed children fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to apply for refugee status in the US. Trump and his administration seem determined to turn their backs on the country’s old backyard.
With Southeast Asian economies still growing significantly faster than western ones, their cities are evolving at a rapid rate and setting global urbanism trends. Case in point: Singapore, a city that proves that a metropolis can develop its built environment while amplifying its green spaces. Yesterday, at the opening of its greenery and landscape-design event, GreenUrbanScape Asia, the Lion City’s government committed to enhancing its national strategy – which asks developers to replace greenery lost in the building process through rooftop and vertical gardens – with a pledge to increase urban farming and communal gardens in its built environment. Hopefully more smart ideas on how to make our cities greener will come from this event, which brings together the world’s foremost experts in all things green and runs until Saturday.
Are students a country’s most potent soft-power ambassadors? They are if you believe a report published in Canada this week. The study, co-authored by a former adviser to prime minister Justin Trudeau, argues that the government should spend CA$75m (€51m) per year over the next five years to fund tens of thousands of university and college students to study abroad. The result would be a network of international contacts for a new generation of Canadian business leaders that, in the long term, would be a significant boon to Canada’s global trading position. The report may well have a point: many western countries have low numbers of students travelling abroad to study (only some 3 per cent of US, UK and Australian students do so), making this a trailblazing move by Canada.
The Japan Society for the Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (Jasrac), the country’s biggest copyright body, is fed up with the paltry royalties it receives for music rights from the film industry. It currently earns just ¥200m (€1.5m) annually from films shown in Japan, significantly lower than its European counterparts who can pull in up to €17m a year. So this week Jasrac announced changes to the way that foreign films will be charged, switching from the current flat fee per film (regardless of how successful it is) to a more equitable 1 to 2 per cent of box-office earnings. Distributors and cinema operators, unsurprisingly, are less than supportive, arguing that the industry can’t support the raised fees and might have to raise ticket prices as a result. Stay tuned: the plans are set to come into play in April.
As part of our 'Secret to...' series we visit the architecture practice of Andreas Martin-Löf, which is reinventing residential housing in Stockholm.
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