The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong x Monocle logo

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 26 September 2016

Image: Getty Images

Up for debate

Today’s US presidential debate will see Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump go head-to-head in what is expected to be the most crucial moment of the 2016 election cycle so far. A record-breaking TV audience of 100 million – comparable only to the Super Bowl – is expected to tune in for the 90-minute showdown at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. With just 42 days to go before the election and two more debates to follow, national polls show that Clinton has slipped to an average of 44 per cent, putting her just three points ahead of Trump. On paper the presidency should be hers for the taking but in the face of growing inequality and security threats she hasn’t been able to promise change or inspire trust, particularly in light of Trump’s assured showmanship. It’s impossible to predict what to expect from the volatile former reality TV star but let’s hope NBC anchor Lester Holt will be fact-checking the candidates’ statements, especially as that’s the last thing Trump wants.

Image: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Making a good case

In Tokyo’s Ginza district the jarring rattle of suitcase wheels is the sound of visitors squeezing in some last-minute shopping before a dash to the airport. Last week subway operator Tokyo Metro and delivery company Yamato Transport began experimenting with a “cloak service” for those who have nowhere to stash their luggage after checking out of their lodgings. Until 30 September the two companies are staffing a temporary service counter at Ginza station to look after oversized suitcases – the kind that are too big to fit into a railway station locker – for just ¥500 (€4.50) apiece. (Not allowed are plants, pets and precious heirlooms.) Let’s hope enough people take advantage of the trial to demonstrate to Tokyo Metro and Yamato Transport what an important public service they would be providing.

Image: Christopher Wise

Warm welcome

World Tourism Day takes place tomorrow and talk of international terrorism is unlikely to be far from the lips of delegates attending the UN’s all-day conference in this year’s host city of Bangkok. Thailand’s thriving tourism industry is a rare cause for optimism, with overseas visitor numbers expected to smash through the 30 million barrier in 2016. This comes amid attacks on popular tourist destinations in August and more than a year after the deadly bombing of Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine. The biggest boost is coming from China: an additional million Chinese visitors came between January and July, accounting for 30 per cent of all arrivals. Thailand is one of the few countries in the region where Chinese passport holders can visit without getting a visa in advance and as high season approaches Thai airlines are increasing connections with inland megacities such as Chengdu and Chongqing. Good service still goes a long way.

Image: Alex Fradkin

City living

San Francisco is experimenting with a new set of policies and programmes to help it become a better city. The city’s planning department, the Municipal Transport Agency and the County Transportation Authority have developed an initiative called Transport Demand Management, which is aimed at reducing traffic congestion. This initiative will require housing developers to commit to certain pre-approved measures aimed at keeping residents from hopping in their cars such as providing onsite bicycles and subsidised public-transport passes. One measure could also see mixed-use properties include a quality grocer in the tenant mix so that residents have ready access to food. While other US cities have experimented with similar programmes, they’ve so far been limited to commercial properties; San Francisco will be the first city to make these demands for all new buildings.

From Monocle 24

Eureka #16: Jane Porter

This week we hear the story of Jane Porter, founder of bespoke uniform design company Studio 104. For better or worse, first impressions count and in hospitality a quality uniform for a concierge or maître d’ is worth its weight in gold. So why are many uniforms so unappealing? Jane Porter had the same question so she quit her job as a fashion buyer and did something about it.

Mountain producers

From a breed of sheep brought back from extinction in the Italian Dolomites to vintage recipes revitalising the dairy business in a remote part of Norway, Monocle Films brings you inspiring tales of mountain producers on a mission.

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