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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 9 February 2016

Handy Scandi

Scandinavian furniture designers are a force to be reckoned with at every trade fair in the world. But today at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, the stage is all theirs: about 80 per cent of the 700 companies showing until 13 February come from the region. For many acclaimed northern brands this is the ideal platform to disclose news for the year but in the Stockholmsmässan’s halls there’s always space for fostering smaller-scale endeavours. For the first time in the fair’s history the newly established editors’ choice award will crown the best in three categories: rising star, best stand and best product. As always, Greenhouse remains the hall for discovering up-and-coming talent, all set in a space courtesy of Stockholm’s own emerging studio Form Us With Love.

Image: Getty Images

Empire strikes it rich

When the Walt Disney Company publishes its figures for the fourth quarter of 2015 later today, investors will be expecting intergalactic numbers. The success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, released in December, will have boosted sales massively. The business has grown through clever takeovers during the past decade, including acquisitions of Lucasfilm, owner of the Star Wars franchise, for more than $4bn (€3.6bn) in 2012; Marvel Entertainment for a similar price in 2009; and Pixar in 2006. Some of Disney’s biggest profits now come from revived franchises. But the picture isn’t entirely rosy. ESPN, the sport network that Disney acquired almost exactly 20 years ago, is struggling to keep viewers – and its owner may find that harder to re-energise than a malfunctioning lightsaber.

Image: Getty Images

Safe topics

The title of the recently released Munich Security Report is not one to fill you with hope: “Boundless Crises, Reckless Spoilers, Helpless Guardians” looms above a bleak image of barbed wire across a weather-beaten wall. The report is supposed to be a “conversation starter” ahead of this week’s Munich Security Conference, the annual Davos-like event for military issues. At least those attending – presidents and prime ministers, defence ministers and chiefs of staff, plus all manner of defence-policy experts – know what to expect. Syria and the fight against Isis may be top of the list but Munich has increasingly broadened its scope away from more traditional notions of security; threats from climate change, cyber attacks and global pandemics will also take centre stage.

Image: Getty Images

Nobel cause

Long before refugees began arriving at the gates of Europe, Turkey had to reckon with vast numbers of people crossing its border to flee from the destruction in Syria. Take Kilis in the deep south of Anatolia: the region has a population of 129,000 that’s now almost matched with an equal number of refugees. This week the Turkish government filed an application to the Nobel Peace Prize committee to nominate the people of Kilis as a model of brotherly hospitality in these times of mass displacement. But the siege of Aleppo is forcing even more refugees north over the border – and that famous Turkish hospitality is braced for another test of its limits in the coming weeks.

From Monocle 24

Cartoon censorship in the Middle East

We’ve seen what happens when cartoonists try to tackle religious subjects in Europe but what about when they do it in the Middle East? One comic-book magazine in Lebanon did just that and quickly found itself on the sharp end of the law. Cartoonists have been getting into trouble since the early 18th century and this story brings that right up to date. Monocle’s Beirut correspondent Venetia Rainey reports.

From Monocle Films

Golf in South Korea

With membership fees in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, clubhouses designed by star architects and troupes of attentive young female caddies, golf is the ultimate statement of wealth in South Korea – and business is booming. Monocle correspondent Danielle Demetriou tees off around the country’s most coveted courses.

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