The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 28 March 2017

Business

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Sunny side up

Hawaii’s latest solar initiative brings it closer to its green-energy target – and separates it even further from Trump’s agenda.

Tesla, the Palo Alto maker of solar panels and electric cars, has put the final touches on a sprawling solar farm on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The farm means business: it is made up of some 50,000 panels that will be used to reduce the sunny island’s fuel consumption by a whopping 1.6 million gallons (more than 7.3 million litres) of petroleum each year. It’s the latest in a string of renewable-energy developments for Hawaii, which has traditionally been dependent on expensive imports of fossil fuels from the mainland but in recent years has pursued an ambitious green agenda. In 2015 it became the first US state to announce a 100 per cent renewable-energy target by 2045 and in January it struck a deal with AES Corp to build what will be one of the world’s largest solar-battery plants. The island is fast becoming separated from a mainland whose president still refuses to acknowledge that climate change is happening.

Technology

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Make or break

Samsung is set to release a new phone – but will it live up to expectations?

Earlier this year Samsung released an advert in which white-coated techies at a pristine lab put the company’s flagship smartphone through rigorous testing (all to a catchy R&B track by The O’Jays). It was clearly part of a mission to rescue the brand after the damaging debacle surrounding the Galaxy Note 7, which was recalled en masse in autumn after several batteries exploded, potentially costing the company €4.6bn. Tomorrow the South Korean firm hopes to put that episode behind it with the unveiling of the new Galaxy S8. If all goes well the new model could help the brand regain ground lost to Apple but if it fails to impress, it will remain in the doldrums. And with an unfolding corruption scandal surrounding Samsung and the government, it could be make or break for Brand Korea too.

Media

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Negative portrait

An article critiquing Québéc misfired – but it brings to light issues that continue to plague the province.

Journalist and academic Andrew Potter’s comment piece, published in the Canadian current-affairs monthly MacLean’s, may have been relatively straightforward but it has created a media storm and led to his resignation as director of McGill’s Institute for the Study of Canada. His sole sin was to write an unflattering commentary on the aftermath of a recent cold snap in Montréal that left 300 motorists stranded in the snow. Potter called it a “fiasco” that symbolised a “malaise” in Québéc, which is suffering from a sense of “alienation” from the rest of Canada. The response was fierce and it raised questions about academic and journalistic freedoms. McGill University is now being scrutinised for its willingness to let Potter resign. His predicament comes at a potent time for the media in Canada, which is facing significant financial pressure. It’s also a setback for Québéc, whose divisions between the Anglo and Francophone communities have been brought back into focus.

Politics

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Unresolved tension

Will Kosovo’s Serbs be allowed to have a say in their country’s upcoming election?

Serbia’s presidential election is on track to take place this Sunday and current prime minister Aleksandar Vucic is the overwhelming favourite to win. Yet there’s still one major question hanging over the election: will neighbouring Kosovo allow its Serbian residents to participate? Kosovo Serbs were able to vote in Serbia’s parliamentary elections last year but the Kosovo government has thus far not revealed whether it will allow polling stations in the country’s Serbian-majority regions this time around. As the government quietly stalls, Kosovo’s opposition movement has claimed that allowing Serbian polling booths would be a threat to the country’s sovereignty.

From Monocle 24

Image: Algirdas Bakas

Behind the scenes at Monocle, issue 102

Culture with Robert Bound

Robert Bound explores some of the stories from the April issue of Monocle’s culture pages, including Chinese book shops, Thai music festivals and a photography exhibition in Kyoto.

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