The Monocle Minute

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

Politics

Image: Reuters

Thankless task?

Hong Kong’s new leader has been chosen – but it will be tricky to please her people.

Carrie Lam was appointed Hong Kong’s fifth chief executive yesterday in an unsurprising result. A hardworking career civil servant, she is admired for her bureaucratic abilities and now takes on the near-impossible job of pleasing two masters who are increasingly at odds with each other: Beijing and the Hong Kong people who didn’t get to participate in the vote (an election committee of 1,200 people elects the head of HK’s government). She succeeds her deeply unpopular former boss CY Leung on 1 July, when Chinese president Xi Jinping is expected to make his first visit to Hong Kong and swear in the territory’s first female leader. Fireworks will light up the sky but the inauguration of another leader lacking popular support – dubbed CY 2.0 – is unlikely to be celebrated on the streets.

Entertainment

Image: Getty Images

Cinema sums

Brazilians have been flocking to cinemas in search of a little light relief.

Brazilian cinema is slowly getting back on track after years of sluggish sales, with a modest growth of 5 per cent at the box office in 2016. Brazil bucks a downward trend across Latin America and, in a time of economic upheaval, Brazilians have been opting for comedies. Leading the way has been the country’s biggest production company Globo Filmes; its raucous Minha Mãe é uma Peça 2 has been the most profitable film in the Brazil’s history. Meanwhile, a sharp rise in the number of moviegoers aged 18 to 24 challenges the notion that young people prefer hand-held devices to an evening in front of the silver screen.

F&B

Image: Alamy

A view to distill

Rare oak from Russia’s southern region makes for a distinctive flavour of whiskey.

You’d be forgiven for not having heard of the Republic of Adyghe; it’s a tiny hook-shaped subject of the Russian Federation. Yet the Adyghe oak trees that grow in the hilly interior all the way to the country’s Black Sea coast are becoming big business. Master distillers looking for the distinctive flavour they give to whiskey have made them particularly popular. Scotch distillery Ardbeg has put out a special bottle called Kelpie that’s been matured in barrels built from Black Sea oaks and highlights its flavour of “waves of salty seaweed and tarry rope”. A curious palate, perhaps, but it’s been welcome news for the cooperages that operate around the region – the barrel-making operation at Fanagoria Estate Winery was set up in 2011 to try and boost demand and now looks to be taking root.

Society

Image: Getty Images

Graphic portrayal

Japan is enlisting the aid of an unlikely hero to help travellers survive business trips abroad.

Japan’s foreign ministry has released a manual for small and medium-sized businesses that’s packed with tips on how to stay out of harm’s way overseas. To get people to read it, the ministry has decided on an unusual format: a manga featuring sniper-for-hire Duke Togo, the protagonist of the hugely popular Golgo 13 series. Over the next three months the ministry will publish artist Takao Saito’s manga online (and compiled as a booklet) in 13 parts, which will depict Golgo on a mission for a fictitious foreign minister, Takakura, who resembles Japan’s real-life top diplomat Fumio Kishida. The government’s push came in light of last year’s hostage-taking in Dhaka, Bangladesh, when seven Japanese nationals were killed, and is a bid to make citizens more aware that terror attacks can happen anywhere.

From Monocle 24

Mindful Chef

The Menu

Myles Hopper and Giles Humphries, founders of recipe-box company Mindful Chef, have released a recipe book of the same name. We meet them to discuss the future of healthy eating.

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