The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 21 July 2016

Image: PA Images

Controversy in Cleveland

It’s been a messy convention in Ohio, what with the open dissent of some of the delegates, the ejection of several protesters and the controversy over allegedly plagiarised parts of Melania Trump’s opening speech. But if this looks bad, what about the convention Cleveland held back in 1936? The GOP failed to find a candidate capable of taking on Franklin D Roosevelt, used inflammatory rhetoric against a popular president and lost the black vote for the first time, arguably something that continues to this day. Not that Donald Trump has been known for looking back. He must be hoping his crowning speech today – the last night of the convention – is successful enough to shift the news agenda away from the negatives. It sounds like a tricky ask but we’ve seen him do it time and again.

Image: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Très bien ensemble?

British prime minister Theresa May’s Berlin visit to meet her German counterpart Angela Merkel yesterday may garner more headlines but her trip to Paris today for a pow-wow with François Hollande is arguably more important for the UK’s short-term future. Regardless of the UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU, Anglo-French relations will need to remain strong. The two nations work closely on military matters and tend to stand shoulder to shoulder on the UN Security Council. Following last week’s attack in Nice the two leaders will also be sure to emphasise how counter-terrorism co-operation will continue. May has insisted that, despite Brexit, the UK will remain a key international player. Reaffirming close ties with France will help her sell that story at home.

Image: Anna Yu/Alamy

Back on track

Despite ups and downs since separating in 1965, Singapore and Malaysia are undeniably tethered. Now the nations’ leaders have signed a memorandum aiming to bind the countries physically via a 375km-long double-track high-speed railway, set to be built in 2026. Three years in the making, the agreement has been slow-moving as logistical details and delicate cross-boundary issues such as immigration and regulatory frameworks have been ironed out. The resulting deal sees convenient one-stop passport controls and eight stations well connected to domestic public-transport systems. Whizzing along at top speeds of more than 300km/h, the travel time between Singapore and the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur will be reduced to an hour and a half. Singapore and Malaysia’s next conundrum is picking a winning bidder from Japan, South Korea or China for the potentially lucrative construction contract.

Image: PA Images

Employee of the month

Never let it be said that working in a convenience store – or konbini as it is known in Japan – is a dead-end career move. Writer and part-time konbini employee Sayaka Murata has just won one of the country’s most prestigious literary awards. She was presented with the 155th Akutagawa Prize – an award for up-and-coming authors – for her novel Konbini Ningen (Convenience Store People), which draws on her real-life experiences. The protagonist certainly sounds familiar: a 36-year-old woman who finds her place in society doing part-time work at the same shop for 18 years. Murata will receive ¥1m (€8,515) in prize money at a ceremony at the end of August. As for whether she plans to continue working in the shop, Murata – like any good employee – says she’ll have to discuss it with her manager.

From Monocle 24

Needybot

In the not-so-distant future it’s assumed that artificial intelligence (AI) will help us with labour and our emotional wellbeing. But advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Oregon, has created a robot that itself needs help – and lots of it. Melanie Sevcenko explores how humans and AI interact in the worksplace.

From Monocle Films

Escapist preview

Make room in your hand luggage: our annual travel-themed summer journal of places less explored is back. We tour cities from Buffalo to Brno, ride the ocean wave with the Portuguese navy and reveal the winners in our Monocle Restaurant Awards. Sunshine guaranteed.

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