Friday 29 March 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 29/3/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Robert Bound

Go your own way

Helsinki famously didn’t want a Guggenheim Museum – possibly a bit passé – and it’s very expensive to hang that surname over your parabolic arch. Instead, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the City of Helsinki have had their own brainwave: to build “the world’s best architecture and design museum” in their town. Simple as that. The best one. The institution will show how the man-made world had been built, out of what and why, and will also, through public engagement, attempt to solve the problems of the future.

How many design museums is too many? There’s the ArkDes museum in Stockholm and the V&A, having done Dundee, is building V&A East in Stratford, east London. Whatever. How about a V&A Local and a V&A Express on every corner selling William Morris mugs and Frank Gehry fridge magnets? We applaud Helsinki. Why not do it yourself?

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Austria

Tipping point

The Austrian government is considering dismantling the far-right Identitarian Movement party. It has emerged that the group received donations from the gunman allegedly responsible for the Christchurch mosque shootings. But how do we develop a global consensus on which groups are terrorists and which are legitimate voices? It’s difficult, according to Michael Clarke, former director-general of the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi). “Any given government can say that, according to our law, we think that this organisation is a terrorist one, or has a terrorist wing as well as a political one,” he says. “The UN, which you would think would be the repository of the general view, doesn’t keep a universal list of proscribed organisations.”

Image: Reuters

Geopolitics / China

Believe it or not

This weekend will mark 60 years since the Dalai Lama was exiled by the Chinese government amid a brutal crackdown on Tibetan separatists. Ahead of the date China has ramped up security measures in the region, barring diplomats and foreign journalists from entering and trying to rebrand its activities there as a development drive. On Wednesday the State Council Information Office released a white paper, Democratic Reform in Tibet – Sixty Years On. The report plays down support for Tibetan independence and claims that China’s intervention was a peaceful liberation that helped modernise the region – not everyone is convinced.

Image: Getty Images

Global affairs / Macedonia

Grapes of wrath

In February Europe breathed a collective sigh of relief as the Greece–Macedonia name dispute was finally put to bed, the latter opting to be renamed the Republic of North Macedonia. Unfortunately this might be just the start of a longer list of disputes, as the two squabble over which foodstuffs and products are allowed to carry the moniker. The first flares were seen at Düsseldorf’s wine trade fair ProWein last week where vineyards from the newly minted republic are exhibiting under the banner Wines of Macedonia. Greek winemakers claim that they’re breaching the agreement and must brand their wine as North Macedonian instead.

Image: Reuters

Society / Japan

A warmer welcome

Japan ranks among the top five most generous contributors to the UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency. But the country hasn’t exactly thrown open its borders: according to data released this year, Japan only granted asylum to 42 people last year out of a total of 10,493. (Even more staggering is that that figure actually represents an improvement; the previous year only 20 people were granted asylum.) Over the past decade the number of applications has risen by nearly tenfold but acceptances have barely budged. Experts say that the biggest hurdle is Tokyo’s overly strict standards for refugees. But part of the problem also stems from Japan’s struggle to cope with the increase of applications and appeals from those who got rejected. Generous aid donation is admirable but more funds should be diverted to dealing with applications at home.

M24 / The Golden Age of Aviation

Ready for take-off

A soaring start to our new series as our experts discuss the unrivalled era of aviation from the 1950s to the 1970s. We meet the man responsible for the savvy marketing of one of the most prestigious airlines of its time: Pan Am. Plus, learn what it was like to fly into Hong Kong’s notorious Kai Tak international airport and hear from a woman in Japan whose collection of 1960s airline cups tells the design stories of many countries.

Film / Finland

Icebreakers: life on board

Many seamen see icebreaking as a career pinnacle. We peek into the snug cabins, well-kitted kitchen and memorabilia-filled gym to see what serving on icebreaker ‘Kontio’ is really like.


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