The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 1 November 2016

Image: Mohammed Zaatari/PA Images

Return of the soldier

After a tiring two-year stalemate, Lebanon has finally elected a head of state. While some Lebanese doubt that the ageing Michel Aoun, who was an army general during the country’s civil war, is the best man for the job – or whether the presidency is just symbolic nowadays – many acknowledge that resolving the impasse is a step in the right direction. The Lebanese constitution stipulates that the president must be Christian and it’s hoped that Aoun’s alliance with Hezbollah may quell the increasingly serious fault lines across the country. But a lack of leadership for so long has exacerbated Lebanon’s problems, which include a populace incensed with state corruption, a surge in the number of refugees and an ongoing municipal refuse crisis. Aoun needs to restore belief in the power of state institutions and keep his own credibility afloat.

Image: Woohae Cho/Getty Images

Park strife


Seoul has been shaken by peaceful protests urging the country’s first female president, Park Geun-hye, to step down amid a growing corruption scandal. More than 10,000 protesters took to the streets last Saturday to hold a candlelit vigil near city hall before Park was forced to accept the resignations of a number of her top aides. The president has been accused of allowing her friend Choi Soon-sil, who has been compared to Rasputin and is the daughter of a cult leader, to advise her on confidential state affairs and pull strings inside the government. More than 40 per cent of South Koreans surveyed last week think that their president should resign, while her approval ratings have sunk to 17 per cent. Park’s five-year term is due to end in February 2018 but it now looks unlikely that she’ll make it that far. Further protests are planned for this week.

Image: Getty Images

Tricks of the trade

For a moment it looked as though fearless little Wallonia – the region of Belgium that no one had ever heard of – was going to derail seven years of trade negotiations. So it was a visibly relieved Justin Trudeau, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker who sat down on Sunday to sign the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta), which will see about 98 per cent of tariffs between Canada and the EU scrapped. Before Trudeau landed, Juncker confirmed that the trade deal will have no effect on negotiations between the EU and the UK, saying: “I don’t see any relation between what we are signing today and the Brexit issue”. But few saw it that way. Ceta holds a warning for Brexiteers, who have always claimed that signing a trade agreement with the bloc would be simple. There will be more than one Wallonia when the UK comes to the negotiating table.

Image: Getty Images

Office politics

In Japan there’s a congratulatory term used when a woman quits her job to get married: kotobuki taisha. But recent polls suggest that such traditional views about gender roles are in decline. The latest evidence comes from a Cabinet Office survey, which this week revealed that for the first time a majority of the Japanese public – more than 54 per cent of respondents – believe that women should continue their careers after having children. Demographics are driving the change: dual-income households now outnumber single-breadwinner families nearly two-to-one. Nonetheless, 74 per cent of those surveyed say that men still get preferential treatment over women when it comes to jobs, especially in politics and business. While change is on its way – especially with prime minister Shinzo Abe pushing for more women to be appointed to positions of authority – the pace remains slow.

From Monocle 24

A whistle-stop tour of New York’s morbid collectors

For some people the morbid fascination of Hallowe’en is not just a once-a-year celebration. We delve into the oft-misunderstood world of taxidermy at the Museum of Morbid Anatomy and speak to shopkeeper Evan Michelson, owner of Obscura Antiques and Oddities, about her life’s work: a collection of human relics and medical artefacts. She tells us why they bring her great joy and why she looks forward to All Hallows’ Eve.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Guide to Good Business

The Monocle Guide to Good Business is a book for would-be business leaders, start-ups and established companies that feel it is time for some new ideas. Monocle Films goes behind the scenes to talk to the editors of the book and take a look between the covers.

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