The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 17 March 2016

Image: Adek Berry/Getty Images

Badge of honour?

Jakarta’s police force gets its fair share of criticism and has a reputation for corruption. But its swift response to January’s terrorist attacks saw citizens taking to social media in force to celebrate some Hollywood-style cop heroism. With this in mind, the upcoming Jakarta Police Expo in April has rolled out promotional posters around town portraying armed-to-the-teeth officers striking heroic poses. The city’s police commissioner Krishna Murti is toting the event’s “Together we can turn back crime” tagline and public support seems high. However, he’s still faced with one of Indonesia’s toughest jobs: drug crime is rampant here and the threat of terrorism lingers. But for now, stoking up some pride among his charges could help the force’s image problem.

Image: Alamy

Japan's open plan

As part of Japan’s great push to attract 30 million visitors a year by the time the 2020 Tokyo Olympics rolls around, the government will open up two of its prized properties – Akasaka Palace and the Kyoto State Guest House – to the public, as well as for private-sector events and conferences. At the moment Akasaka Palace, which was built in 1909 for the imperial crown prince and is today used for welcoming state guests, is only open to the public for 10 days a year – but that will go up to 150 days from April. Meanwhile, the exquisite Kyoto State Guest House, also normally open for just 10 days, will be open to visitors throughout the year from July. Japan lags behind internationally in the number of conferences it holds each year so putting some precious pieces of state architecture to broader use could help.

Image: Kamil Bialous

High-street heroes

It’s a common refrain among retailers, especially those with a strong presence online: in tough economic times, the first things to go are physical shops as businesses streamline. Not so in Canada, it seems, where the opposite trend is emerging thanks to independent design and fashion retailers, many of whom started life online and are now opening bricks-and-mortar shops. "Physical stores have become a powerful channel for online brands," says Doug Stephens, Canadian author of The Retail Revival. "You can only go so far with a consumer online.” Fashion houses such as Turbine in Halifax and Twigg & Hottie in Vancouver are among those who have succeeded in building their brands online before venturing into the neighbourhood.

Lights, camera, Austin

The film segment at Texas festival South By Southwest (SXSW) can sometimes be overshadowed by its flashier music and tech segments – but its cinema line-up rivals film festivals from around the world. As a case in point, the grand jury prize for documentaries this week went to Keith Maitland’s Tower, a cleverly crafted rotoscope animation depicting the sniper killings at the University of Texas in 1966. As SXSW gears up for the weekend, all eyes are on the music section; this is the home stretch when Austin lets its hair down and gets a bit raucous. Colombia’s Systema Solar have already got at least one person’s foot tapping: our New York bureau chief Ed Stocker, who’s in town to cover the event. For more on SXSW, tune in this morning’s Arts Review.

From Monocle 24

Chase Distillery

From crisps to vodka, on this week’s Entrepreneurs we hear the story of family-run firm Chase Distillery. Monocle's Josh Fehnert speaks to James Chase to find out how to make a brand's by-products part of its bottom line – and why the craft alcohol business is in high spirits.

From Monocle Films

France’s melting pot

Marseille is a city embracing the future while keeping its celebrated multicultural personality intact. To discover the beating heart of the city, Monocle Films visits three hoteliers whose establishments reflect the evolution of this heady Mediterranean metropolis: Au Vieux Panier, Le Petit Nice and Hotel Le Corbusier.

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