The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 15 November 2016

Image: Louisa Gouliamaki/Getty Images

Fond farewell

Barack Obama will land in Greece today to start a farewell tour of Europe, which will see him meet key European allies for the last time while in office. The US president still enjoys huge popularity in Europe and his fans in this part of the world will lap up the final opportunity to bask in his charisma, mastery of rhetoric and liberal ideals. But they should also make the most of what this trip symbolises and what Obama’s national security adviser Ben Rhodes described as “our solidarity with our closest allies in the world”. With the election of Donald Trump, even that simple statement has been called into question. Obama’s task will be to reassure European leaders that Trump will maintain close relations – the very same leaders who felt a crisis meeting was necessary after last week’s result. Few truly believe that this doesn’t mark the end of an era.

Image: Studio Ghibli/Alamy

The long and short of it

It’s not the first time that anime master Hayao Miyazaki has broken his resolution to retire after making the announcement to do so in 2013 but if that means we’ll get another The Wind Rises or Princess Mononoke we surely have no second thoughts about his change of mind. During a documentary special aired by Japanese public broadcaster NHK last weekend, Miyazaki declared that the short film he’s been working on, Boro the Caterpillar, doesn’t satisfy him at its current length and that last August he put forward a proposal to turn it into a feature film. It may not have received the official go-ahead from Studio Ghibli yet but if it does it’s expected to be completed by about 2020 – just in time for the Tokyo Olympics.

Image: Darko Vojinovic/PA

Qualified for the job?

A political outsider suspected of pro-Kremlin leanings and elected despite the best recommendations of the establishment: it’s not just the US where this is the new norm. Over the weekend Bulgaria elected Rumen Radev (pictured), a former air force commander, as its new president; he’s called for fewer sanctions on Russia and says that being pro-European doesn’t mean being anti-Russian. It’s a trend facing several states on Europe’s eastern flank, with Moldova’s new president seeking warmer ties to Moscow and the new Estonian coalition, which includes the Centre party with its ties to Vladimir Putin’s United Russia. The consensus for now is that Nato’s Balkan and Baltic partners remain assured but there’s a lot of expectation ahead of next year’s summit, when the alliance’s leaders get to air their outlook.

Image: Laurence Torao Konishi/Alamy

Clean sweep

In Japan, 99 per cent of households have a washing machine. So why has the country had a 63 per cent increase in launderettes over the past two decades? One reason is that Japanese-made washer-dryers are designed to run quietly in small homes but can take hours to finish a single load; they’re also too small for bulky blankets and sheets. Enter US-based Dexter Laundry, Sweden’s Electrolux and other commercial washing-machine manufacturers, who have set up franchises of self-service launderettes with large machines that can get the job done in less time. It’s not just the machines that are attracting new customers though. With spacious shops that resemble cafés and machines that work fast and send an email when a load is finished, this new breed of launderettes has led a turnaround for a once-dying sector.

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

Tall Stories 32: Trump Tower

As the world reacts to Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the US presidential elections, our New York bureau chief Ed Stocker takes a stroll along 5th Avenue to examine Trump Tower.

From Monocle Films

Perth: opportunity and regeneration

As Perth attempts to shed its reputation for being nothing more than a mining city, Monocle Films explore the architecture, art and hospitality initiatives that are shaping this outpost.

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