Today the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, will hold talks with representatives from the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, France and Germany in a further attempt to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis. In the short term it is hoped that these talks might halt a Syrian-Russian strike on rebels holed up in the northwest city of Idlib, averting a humanitarian disaster. Whether the summit is successful or not, the UN’s influence in the area is receding, according to Dr Christopher Phillips from the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London. “Syria has fallen down the list of priorities for these countries,” he says. “As a result they have been outbid by Russia and Turkey, which now have much greater influence. As well as this it is hard for UN countries to align on the best response.”
The Philippines is hoping that Manila can become Southeast Asia’s next big air hub. Yesterday it was announced that a €1.6bn renovation project will take place at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), with Singapore’s Changi Airport Company coming on board as consultants. Timing is crucial if the plan is to succeed, according to Ellis Taylor, editor at aviation intelligence company FlightGlobal. “Years of inaction have led to gridlock at NAIA,” he says. “If this isn’t fixed in time, Manila could miss out on the huge growth that is predicted to occur in the Asian aviation market over the next 20 years.”
A future where our buildings are assembled by hordes of robot construction workers might seem the stuff of sci-fi but not to those attending the Rob|Arch Conference in Zürich this week. The conference will pose questions about how viable an automated workforce might be in building our cities. The places that will see the technology in action soonest will be cities where rapid building is needed to house fast-growing populations. “I see the biggest potential in countries where the construction industry is booming,” says Luka Piškorec, lecturer in structural design at Aalto University, Helsinki. “Like China – this is where we will see the largest-scale use of commercial robotics in architecture.”
The results are in. In the competition to establish which Israeli city is to host the 64th Eurovision Song Contest, Tel Aviv has surged to victory over Jerusalem, garnering points for its openness and gay-friendly credentials (the event has a strong gay following). The announcement comes despite lobbying from Israel’s culture minister Miri Regev, who was hoping that the Jerusalem would again play host to the competition as it did in 1979 and 1999. Organisers of the city’s famous Gay Pride week – which this year brought about 250,000 people to the city – are hinting that the LGBT celebration could be scheduled to coincide with the Eurovision final on 18 May.
Offering the best in local produce and rare wines, Vila Viniteca continues the Spanish retail tradition of a no-nonsense ‘colmado’ in the historic neighbourhood of el Born.
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