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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 27 February 2017

Image: Alamy

Bongbong back?

Speculation is mounting in the Philippines about a dramatic return to government for a member of the Marcos family: president Rodrigo Duterte is expected to make room in his cabinet for Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr as soon as a procedural ban lapses in May. The son of the late Filipino dictator, Bongbong ran unsuccessfully for vice-president in 2016, which subsequently barred him from any political appointments for 12 months. He is currently protesting the ban and his chances of being appointed are being taken seriously. While the vice-presidency carries little official power or responsibility it would place the younger Marcos a heartbeat away from his father’s old job – a nostalgic return to his childhood home in the Malacañang Palace is unlikely to be cheered nationwide.

Image: Alamy

Give peas a chance

A sudden change in India’s stance on pest control has Canadian farmers checking their pulses. Canada is the largest exporter of lentils in the world and India is its best customer: in 2015 alone India imported 1.5 million tonnes of Saskatchewan-grown lentils. Yet the Indian government has now discarded a longstanding exemption on pest treatments, meaning crops of lentils and peas will no longer be fumigated on arrival in India; instead the pest treatment will need to be applied in Canada before export. This poses a problem for Canada, which is phasing out the ozone-damaging treatment the Indians require. For now, many shipments of pulses to India have been halted but officials in Canada are hoping to work out some sort of new peas treaty.

Image: Reuters

Work in progress

Japan is looking to give its workaholics a break. Premium Friday, a scheme by the government and the country’s largest business lobby Keidanren, encourages workers to leave their desks at 15.00 on the last Friday of every month. It’s the latest effort to reform a culture of punishingly long office hours and to fight karoshi: death by overwork. The hope is that people start the weekend early with a little dining, travelling or shopping and give the economy an added boost. Hundreds of companies have signed up to Premium Friday but a survey last month revealed that most employers had no plans to get onboard or still weren’t aware of the campaign. Even without broad support from corporate Japan, extra consumer spending would be about ¥300bn (€2.5bn) according to a Mizuho Research Institute estimate – though not everyone’s Fridays would be quite so footloose.

Image: Getty Images

Bulgaria battles on

There’s a naval build-up taking place in the Black Sea as Nato sends more ships and Russia bolsters its fleet. For Bulgaria, the escalation creates a political quandary: The country has sought warmer relations with Moscow since its new president Rumen Radev was elected in November, and some politicians say that involvement in Nato’s expanded naval exercises puts Bulgaria in a delicate situation. When the country heads to the parliamentary polls next month, security and Nato are expected to be the deciders as the two main parties accuse each other of putting commitments to the alliance above national interests. Others simply worry about the effect recent tensions have on tourism and would rather see yachts, not warships, bobbing on the Black Sea.

From Monocle 24

Something old, something new

Once a month this show will bring together two people linked by profession, passion or friendship. To kick things off we invited in Will Hodgkinson, chief music critic for The Times, and his brother Tom Hodgkinson, the writer, critic and founder of The Idler magazine. And we asked them to bring along two things that fascinate them: something old and something new.

From Monocle Films

What luxury means today

As smart global consumers become more discerning in their choices we are seeing the rise of a new and more thoughtful brand of luxury. Monocle Films travels to Bali, Melbourne and Manchester to meet three businesses that are championing craftsmanship, provenance and originality in their luxury offerings.

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