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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 5 January 2018

Diplomacy

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French connection

The presidents of Turkey and France don’t always play nice and today’s talks won’t change that – but it’s not all bad.

Frenemies Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Emmanuel Macron are due to meet today in France. The tête-à-tête between the two presidents is expected to cover everything from human rights in Turkey to the Israel-Palestine issue and the war in Syria. Although the meeting will mark Erdogan’s first visit to Paris since Macron took office, it certainly won’t be the first time the two have had intense discussions. At the pair’s first meeting at the Nato summit in Brussels last year Macron grilled Erdogan about Turkey’s imprisonment of a French photographer; and more recent telephone conversations have seen the French president admonishing Erdogan for lashing out over the US’s decision to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. Yet the leaders’ relationship hasn’t been all fraught: in September, Macron defended Turkey’s relationship with the EU, calling it a “vital partner” and adding that he was keen to “avoid a split”.

Books

Image: Getty Images

Political thriller

Trump’s rise to power may not be for everyone but at least it’s reinvigorated people’s passion for politics.

If there is one positive to be gleaned from the rickety rollercoaster that is the Trump presidency, it’s the fact that the US seems to have rediscovered its love of politics. The craze is borne out in The New York Times’s top 15 non-fiction bestseller list. At the top is Ron Chernow’s biography of former president Ulysses S Grant, while nostalgic Democrats can pore over former White House photographer Pete Souza’s photo collection or Hillary Clinton’s mea culpa (sort of) What Happened. And in case you’re missing The Donald, there’s also former aide Corey Lewandowski’s co-authored Let Trump Be Trump. Our advice to aspiring writers: liberal wistfulness and Faustian Trumpism are sure-fire winners. And if the administration happens to take a disliking to your as-yet-unreleased book? Expect a publicity boon (yes, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, we’re talking about you).

Architecture

Image: Getty Images

Hot topic

Aussie architects are feeling the heat as their residential buildings come under fire for their reliance on air conditioning.

Architects from the “sunburned country” have long had to design homes in a manner that mitigates its scorching climate. Increasingly, however, residential buildings in Australia are being criticised for their reliance on air conditioning, with a recent university paper calling for the country’s building codes to be revised to make homes better resistant to heat. With city developments in this prospering nation continuing at a heady pace, we’d like to see less mundane air-conditioned apartment blocks and a larger emphasis on smart and sustainable buildings. It’s certainly achievable. In Melbourne, which regularly endures 40C days in the summer, more thoughtful developments, such as those designed by locals Breathe Architecture (pictured), offer a solution. Many of the firm’s residential blocks don’t rely on air conditioning at all, instead using good ventilation and insulation to form breezy buildings that are good for both cities and citizens.

Transport

Image: Getty Images

White van man

Is Turkmenistan’s president trying to drive out dark-coloured vehicles?

Well known for its autocratic government, Turkmenistan is no stranger to leaders who impose their tastes on citizens. Continuing with the tradition, starting this year the country’s president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has reportedly effectively banned black cars. Though no official announcement has been made, opposition media has reported that citizens with dark-coloured vehicles have had them impounded by authorities or been asked to repaint them white. While it’s an odd notion, it’s actually not unusual for countries to stick to certain colours when it comes to cars. White and silver cars are, surprisingly, easier to clean, which is one of the reasons why they’re favoured in South Korea. Key word: favoured, rather than enforced. That’s not likely to be much comfort to those now facing repainting bills in Turkmenistan.

From Monocle 24

The best of Tall Stories 2017

The Urbanist

We start the year with a look back at the best Tall Stories of 2017: from statues, to a garden gate and even cycling in a city.

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