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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 20 April 2018

Legal

Image: Getty Images

Total recall

New York’s attorney-general wants the US to repeal a law which, if allowed, could put some of Trump’s cronies back in the dock.

Presidential pardons are rarely issued without raising a few eyebrows but Donald Trump’s two big pardons to date – hard-line former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and Scooter Libby, the former adviser to Dick Cheney – has left people openly questioning the president’s judge of character. New York’s Democratic attorney-general Eric Schneiderman, for one, has had enough. He’s lobbying the state government to roll back its double-jeopardy clause, meaning that people who receive presidential pardons could then be tried for their crimes under state, rather than federal, law. Schneiderman appears to be setting his sights on Trump’s cronies, saying that that the president may be “considering issuing pardons that may impede criminal investigations”. The pair have had a caustic relationship in recent years. The president, not known for having the internet’s sharpest arsenal of put-downs, once tweeted that Schneiderman is a “total loser” – Trump had better hope, in this case, he’s right.

Housing

Image: Getty Images

Living in a box

With the number of ‘shoebox’ flats on the rise in Hong Kong, some residents may be getting to know their neighbours a little more intimately than they’d like.

Small may be beautiful but it could be argued that developers in Hong Kong are becoming overzealous when it comes to cramming tiny flats into built-up areas. A new report by the Transport and Housing Bureau showed a spike in the number of ‘shoebox’ flats, which have just 20 sq m of space, being built in the city. The number of these tiny flats has grown eightfold in the past five years and, in 2017, 691 were built – up from 206 in 2016. While this constitutes a small segment of the housing market in the city, the increase is worrying some urbanites who think that living in a home the size of a car-parking space might be something of a squeeze. The trend is unlikely to be reversed any time soon. Hong Kong is famously loath to meddle in the private sector and one housing minister recently rejected calls to create regulations regarding the size of shoebox flats. For many residents, living in Hong Kong is about to get cosier.

Design

Time out

When the Salone fair comes to town, Milan can be a maelstrom – which is why it’s worth escaping the city centre for Villa Borsani’s show.

Salone del Mobile and its satellite shows scattered throughout the city always have their stand-out exhibits. While these could be furniture, new displays of craft, big-budget installations or simple objects, they usually have one thing in common: they’re all to be found in Milan. This year, one of the best-received shows took buyers and journalists out of the city centre, to an unassuming-looking street to the north. Villa Borsani: Casa Libera shows a curated selection of work by Italian designer and architect Osvaldo Borsani, in the house he designed for his twin brother Fulgenzio, with whom Borsani founded furniture brand Tecno. The show is a precursor to a full Borsani retrospective that’s due to open on 15 May at Milan’s Triennale Design Museum and, to tease the launch, designer and curator Ambra Medda opened the house to the public, showing Borsani’s archives as well as some of Tecno’s iconic designs in situ. Crucially for the overwrought visitors to Milan, the space offers a rare moment of calm.

Urbanism

Image: ALAMY

Road hogs

Donald Trump believes that Japan should be buying more US-made cars – but if he looked closer he’d see why that’s not physically possible.

When Donald Trump dressed down his “friend” prime minister Shinzo Abe over their countries’ unhealthy trade balance this week he focused on the issue of Japan shipping too many cars to the US and not taking in enough “American” cars in return (no matter that brands such as Toyota manufacture many vehicles at US plants and that it alone employs more than 34,000 people in the country). But there is a pragmatic urbanism issue that stands as a road barrier to Japan snapping up SUVs, Humvees and even many family saloons from the likes of Ford. And that’s the scale of the street networks in many of Japan’s urban cores: it’s just not possible to fit these epic-scale cars into the streetscape. Yes, some Japanese drivers have bought big (the Jeep SUV is a top seller among American-made vehicles) but you just have to look at the tiny size of the Nissan Note and Toyota Aqua (both big sellers) to realise that Trump needs to get out more. Or perhaps push the sales of a nice American bicycle brand instead. To hear more, tune in to The Briefing on Monocle 24.

From Monocle 24

Ljubljana

The Urbanist

Two years ago Slovenia’s largest city was the European Green Capital and the removal of motorised traffic from its historic centre opened up vast areas of public space. Since then the city has been reaping the rewards of turning around its urban-transit issues. We explore.

From Monocle Films

Dining down under

Australia’s drinking and dining scene is thriving. Monocle Films visits three restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart that share a passion for good food and honest ingredients.

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