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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 15 December 2017

Politics

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Top job

Will South African president Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife be his get-out-of-jail-free card or does his party have other ideas?

As the ANC gathers for its national conference in Gauteng this weekend, the task of choosing a new leader for South Africa’s ruling party is likely to attract plenty of controversy. The two-way battle to replace president Jacob Zuma, ahead of a general election in 2019, has become increasingly ugly: Zuma is backing his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma against his current deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa. While many view Ramaphosa as the ANC’s best hope of arresting a decline in popularity, his victory is far from certain. Accusations of vote buying have dogged the lead-up to the conference and the outgoing president has a vested interest in backing the winner. Zuma faces a staggering 783 counts of alleged corruption and a win for his ex-wife is considered to be his only way of staying out of prison.

Aviation

On the warpath

Canada wants to buy fighter jets and is open to offers – but the contracts will come with an interesting new clause.

The Canadian Armed Forces launched the bidding process this week to acquire 88 new fighter jets – a contract that could be worth a cool CA$19bn (€16bn). This much-needed military upgrade will also be a test-bed for a new government policy that comes in response to recent economic tussles with the US; most notably between the US plane-maker Boeing and its Canadian counterpart, Bombardier. The assessment of each bid for the fighter-jet contract will now include a so-called “economic impact test”. Known as the “Boeing clause” it will measure the effect that awarding government contracts to foreign companies will have on Canada’s economy. Ottawa's aviation stand-off with the US evidently has wings.

Architecture

Image: Alamy

On show

The world’s star architects have designs on Adelaide’s new modern-art museum.

As Australian cities continue to grow, the number of statement architectural works is also on the rise. Next to come is a new contemporary-art museum in Adelaide. This week saw the release of a commission shortlist studded with starchitects, including Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels Group and the UK’s Adjaye Associates. While big-name international commissions generate immediate buzz, we wonder if this will really benefit Adelaide long term. Contemporary galleries such as Goma in Brisbane have become international design success stories thanks to employing local architects with a strong understanding of the city, climate and context. However, Canadian Frank Gehry’s odd, crinkled-looking business school in Sydney has been less popular. Ultimately, Adelaide should pick a smart design with timeless appeal regardless of the winner’s nationality.

Society

Image: Alamy

Ho, ho, home sweet home

That festive chap with the red coat and voluminous beard resides in Lapland, right? The residents of a town in Indiana beg to differ.

It is, of course, the time of year when children around the world are writing to Father Christmas with exhaustive wishlists. And if you happen to live in a town called Santa Claus in the US state of Indiana, you can expect a deluge of hand-written correspondence; the town has received 12,000 letters and counting this year, with another 10 days still to go till Christmas. The town was originally called Santa Fe but the name was rejected as there is another town with the same name also in Indiana. Residents settled on Santa Claus instead and it’s now billed as the place where “it’s Christmas year-round”. Not that it’s the only festively named US city: look out for North Pole in Alaska and Christmas, with a population of just over 1,000, in Florida.

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

Galápagos Islands

The Urbanist

The ballooning human presence on the islands is presenting a unique set of challenges for the islands’ ecosystems as well as the urban designers planning for the future.

From Monocle Films

Monocle preview: Forecast 2018

The Forecast is our annual journal that will fuel your daydreams and help plan the year ahead. This year's issue is packed with eye-opening essays, riveting reportage and a good dose of travel and style inspiration.

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