The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 24 September 2015

Image: Getty Images

Broad church?

The Pope may not be a politician but is he political? The guest list for last night’s White House dinner, welcoming him to the US, initiated a mini-media furore: Vatican officials and Republicans were unhappy because invitees included the US’s first openly gay Episcopal bishop; it was a move the conservatives saw as a political provocation. Due to an already exhausting election cycle – we still have more than a year to go – the pope finds himself in the middle of a Republican-Democrat tug of war. Each side wants to claim the head of the Catholic Church as its own, with the Republicans touting his family values and Democrats his reconciliatory attitude to Cuba. Pope Francis, it seems, just wants to get on with the job.

Image: Roger Schultz

Taking flight

There was predictably ambitious talk at World Routes, the annual powwow of new flight paths that wrapped in Durban this week. Finnair aims to have the first Airbus A350-900 flying to the US before the end of the year, Singapore’s Changi Airport has seen a solid upswing over the past year and many postulated how Iran’s carriers might sock it to the Gulf's monopoly post-deal. The African market continues to entice and infuriate: change is happening, observers say, albeit slowly. “Formalisation of new routes by Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines to our host city Durban are an indication of how strong many African markets can be,” says Richard Maslen, editor of The Hub. “Meanwhile the launch of flights by Proflight Zambia between Lusaka and Durban are equally important in enhancing intra-African connectivity.” The continent is almost ready for take off.

Image: Corbis

Myanmar calling

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party is looking to sweep the polls in the country’s November elections, meanwhile the current government is still trying to make its economy enticing to entrepreneurs. Next month Japanese-run Daizen Myanmar starts work on a logistical lifeline an hour’s drive outside Yangon that will provide packaging, freighting and storage services for an expected inward surge of new business. Mark Goh, associate professor at The Logistics Institute at the National University of Singapore, says Japan is seizing an opportunity: “Japan is keen to show that it still cares for Southeast Asia; its investment in a developing country can only put it in a good light and balance the soft power currently exerted by China, which is also investing aggressively in Myanmar.”

Image: Corbis

Sign of the time

It’s 50 years since Britain unveiled a well-known but unsung design classic. Launched in 1965, the nation’s road signs were designed by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert and were among the first to use a standardised shape and colour system, as well as a new font called “Transport”. “It was all there for a very distinct purpose: to help as many people as possible find their way,” says Jock’s son, Ross Kinneir. The signs’ legacy can be seen across the world today; before Kinneir and Calvert, most road signs were all in capital letters but people felt this was too harsh for the English landscape. To celebrate their golden jubilee, London’s Design Museum is exhibiting the road signs reimagined by the likes of Peter Blake and Terence Conran, until 25 October.

From Monocle 24

Frank Muytjens: J.Crew’s head of men’s design

This week on The Entrepreneurs we talk to Frank Muytjens, menswear maestro of US clothing brand J.Crew, about fashion trends, interior design, influences and inspirations.

From Monocle Films

Home life: Carl Hansen & Søn

Furniture firm Carl Hansen & Søn is justly proud of its heritage and the company’s refusal to manufacture outside of Denmark has helped boost growth. A new factory, increased output and rapidly rising exports see the business sitting pretty.

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