The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 16 December 2015

Image: Alamy

Hard road

Only a month ago Hong Kong’s best street-food sellers were celebrating after being included for the first time in the Michelin guide to the city. Yet the win has proved a double-edged sword: the same vendors – several of whom also have shops where they serve their egg waffles, walnut soup and other street staples – have been left with a sour taste in their mouths after receiving notices of huge rent increases from opportunistic landlords. There is a happy ending for one seller of rice balls in hot sweet soup: Kai Kai Dessert in Jordan, Kowloon, will move to an adjacent location owned by a dedicated customer. Call it just desserts.

Image: Christopher Michel

Drone on

There’s a figure being nervously bandied around at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). By some estimates, a million drones are due to be unwrapped and airborne in the US come Christmas Day. That kind of traffic needs to be managed and all drone-holders must now register their craft with the FAA by law. Owners of drones bought before 21 December have until February to register them; in extreme circumstances, say FAA representatives, dodgers could face jail. This kind of legislation does come a little late to curb potential chaos in the skies. It’s a further signal that these are no mere fad: a drone is for life, not just for Christmas.

Image: Alamy

Girl (soft) power

North Korea’s soft-power diplomacy has always failed to match its southern rival’s: from Girls’ Generation to Psy, soap operas to sport, the south has fun while the north has fear. Kim Jong-un has tried to change that, creating a new girl group to rival the south’s K-pop. He reportedly handpicked each member of the Moranbong Band and sanctioned a visit this week to China for a “friendship tour”. The cultural exchange was supposed to improve links between the two nations but hours before the first performance the band flew back to Pyongyang, with no reason given for the sudden cancellation. Maybe it was for the best though: a pop group created by a dictator is unlikely to set the charts on fire.

Image: Getty Images

True story

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up to investigate abuses of indigenous Canadian children at residential schools, published its long-awaited report on Tuesday, promising that the victims and their families would never be “forgotten and ignored”. Prime minister Justin Trudeau has made the investigation into abuses against indigenous communities in Canada a priority, a stark shift in tone from his predecessor Stephen Harper. As with many Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, however, the challenge now will be for the findings to translate into public discourse; without that, First Nations communities will rightly feel that the injustices served against them have not been resolved.

From Monocle 24

Image: Jaime Hogge

Interview: Richard Florida

Megan Billings speaks to renowned urban theorist Richard Florida about how he’s working with Florida International University to develop a more liveable and loveable Miami.

From Monocle Films

Soft Power Survey

While flexing military and economic muscle can yield the most dramatic changes, a nation’s soft power can achieve more worthwhile outcomes. Our sixth annual survey puts the spotlight on the nations that use their gentler sides to gain influence.

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