The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 5 November 2015

Image: Jannis

Red phone 2.0

Sometimes the best way to resolve a diplomatic wrangle is to simply talk it out; a new hotline service in Southeast Asia will aim to achieve just that. Modelled after the red phone, which linked Russia and the US amid Cold War tensions, this mediation line could help defence ministers quickly defuse heated incidents in the South China Sea. “The symbolic nature of the hotline is the most important aspect,” says Ian Chong Ja, an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore. “It demonstrates intent, commitment and direction from Asean countries.” Yet no matter how potent its symbolic nature, the hotline is unlikely to stop China’s expansion into the area.

Image: Getty Images

Moving on

The world may still be fawning over Canada’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, but spare a thought for those defeated on election day. Today the Conservative party of Canada elects an interim leader to take charge of the party for the next two years, following former PM Stephen Harper’s resignation. The outcome of the vote will say much about how the party plans to move forward: will it opt for someone from the divisive Harper years or look for a fresh face? “The Tories need to pick the right combination of experience [and] savvy,” says Tasha Kheiriddin, a Conservative public-policy analyst. “At least until [the Liberals] start tripping up. When they do, that’s when the real test of leadership begins. And the Tories – and their new leader – need to be ready.”

Image: Chloe List

A new wave

The opening of Gabriela Cámara’s restaurant Cala in San Francisco’s Mid-Market/Civic Center district is doing more than just upping the culinary game in the rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood: it’s also filling flights to her native Mexico City. “Cala has completely changed people’s views about the Mexican capital,” explains one Google exec, tucking into a bowl of ceviche. “Cámara is showing people how chic and refined the restaurant scene is there and that’s getting people to suddenly put Mexico City on their weekend getaway lists, rather than just heading to Cabo.” With its cool concrete interior and low lighting, Cala represents a new wave of Mexican culinary, cultural and design establishments making their mark up and down the West Coast.

Image: Lacey Johnson

Cider looks rosy

Americans tend to use the word “cider” to refer to a non-alcoholic version of the apple drink. But now they seem to be developing a taste for what they call “hard” cider: the alcoholic stuff. Autumn is in full flush in New York and that means it’s time for Cider Week NYC, which kicks off tomorrow and runs until 15 November. And while the drink – yes, the hard stuff – has long been popular in Europe, across the pond it is enjoying something of a boom. In 2009, for example, hard cider was a $35m (€32m) market according to CNBC but jumped to being worth more than five times that value by the end of last year. Cheers to that.

From Monocle 24

Image: Taylor Morris

Seeing eye to eye

We hear business lessons from Hugo Taylor and Charlie Morris, founders of the popular UK sunglasses label Taylor Morris.

From Monocle Films

Home front: Okinawa

The functional concrete bungalows hastily built after the Second World War to house US troops are becoming a popular option for young Japanese looking for more living space.

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