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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 2 August 2018

Law

Image: Getty Images

Canadian trainwreck?

One of Canada’s biggest manufacturers is being accused of subverting the country’s foreign policy after working on a Russian rail system.

Critics including Paul Grod, head of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, are alarmed by Montréal-based train-carriage manufacturer Bombardier's role in Russia's Zhuravka-Millerovo rail line, better known as the Ukraine Bypass. The rail line - which started construction in 2015, not long after Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimea - is thought to be of military and strategic importance for the region, allowing the easy movement of Russian soldiers and tanks along the Ukrainian border. Bombardier joined the project in 2017, completing a CA$8m (€5.3m) rail-control system, despite the Canadian government's financial and military support for Ukraine's government and its vocal opposition to the Kremlin's manoeuvres. Bombardier’s role in the region is complicated by the fact that it received a government bailout in 2015 – suggesting that taxpayer funds are tangentially being used to thwart Canada’s foreign policy. While Bombardier insists there’s nothing controversial about the project, Canadian policy dictates that companies comply with the sanctions Ottawa imposes.

Defence

Image: Getty Images

Russian recidivism

Vladimir Putin’s latest military move looks like an about-turn to the days of Soviet propaganda.

In Soviet Russia, soldiers used to sit through ideological lectures on Marxism and Leninism, designed to instil patriotism. On Monday, Vladimir Putin announced a new wing within the Russian army, charged with promoting loyalty and national pride. How that will be done remains a secret but recent events may offer a hint of what’s in store: in a recent exercise, Yunarmiya volunteers (the army’s military-youth organisation) stormed a maquette of the Reichstag, to the horror of the German press. It’s a return not only to ideological brainwashing and the fetishisation of the army but also a political endorsement that the West is the enemy. According to Dmitry Drize, deputy editor of Kommersant, Russia’s financial broadsheet, it’s only the beginning. “It’s perfectly plausible that ideological pedagogy will return to schools, universities and other institutions. This is all reminiscent of a gradual return to the USSR – to queues, Komsomol [the USSR's youth movement] and pioneering.”

Urbanism

Image: Getty Images

Out of house and home

Australia’s sunny disposition can’t mask the fact that its property crisis casts an increasingly long shadow.

A property-price slump in Australia’s once ascendant housing market has been on the cards for a while – and there are signs that the downturn is worsening. The effects are filtering out of its largest city, Sydney, and into smaller urban centres across the country; numbers reported for July point to the largest monthly price drop in housing nationally in nearly seven years. The figures from data provider CoreLogic also show Melbourne overtaking Sydney as the worst performing market for housing. While Australia remains a stable economy that tends to ride out its financial woes, the current tumult should act as a wake-up call, particularly to city-planners. Housing affordability is challenging citizens and the disparity between the rich and the poor is dampening the appeal that Australian cities once boasted.

Culture

Image: Peccadillo Pictures

Great goal

An honorable new film is promoting gay rights to the centre of footballing discourse.

Football pitches aren’t exactly known as bastions of tolerance and acceptance – the use of homophobic chants by groups of supporters during this year’s World Cup proved the point. So the release of Mario, a new film from Swiss film-maker Marcel Gisler, is a welcome addition to football’s outdated ethos. It tells the fictional story of a flourishing love affair between two professional players at FC Sankt Pauli in Hamburg, challenging the stigmas that remain entrenched in the so-called “beautiful game”. The film has already been released in various countries and hit screens in France yesterday. Some have argued that the French distributor should have screened it during the World Cup to raise awareness but there were fears (perhaps justified) that cinemas would have been empty as France’s national football team marched to victory. Instead, its run will coincide with Paris’s Gay Games, which begin on Saturday.

From Monocle 24

The Trampery

The Entrepreneurs

Charles Armstrong launched The Trampery in 2009, the first co-working space to take root in London’s Shoreditch. He is now set to open The Trampery Fish Island Village, a mixed-use development in Hackney Wick.

From Monocle Films

Building safer cities

Monocle Films travels to Paris to bear witness to the French capital’s efforts to mitigate terrorism through smart design and architecture.

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