Thursday 13 April 2017 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 13/4/2017

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


True colours

Political corruption in Mexico is nothing new but the current spate of scandals is causing alarm. A few days ago Tomás Yarrington, the former governor of the state of Tamaulipas – which borders the US – was arrested in Italy, wanted for questioning over money laundering and organised crime. He is not the only one. Javier Duarte, a popular governor of the state of Veracruz until last year, has been on the run since October – again due to corruption allegations. If Mexicans are to regain their faith in politicians, things will need to change. Which also explains why antigraft candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (pictured) is currently leading the polls ahead of presidential elections in 2018.

Image: Getty Images


Hate mail

North Korea’s state-run media, KCNA, isn’t the only channel for the isolated regime to air its views to the outside world. It also uses balloons. Between January 2016 and February of this year, more than one million North Korean leaflets were found scattered around South Korea, according to its Ministry of National Defense this week. The messages follow a pattern: criticising South Korea’s government and its ally, the US; showing images of missiles; and praising North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Leaflets have been a standard low-tech feature of the ongoing hostilities between the two sides since the Korean War ended in an armistice – but no peace treaty – in 1953. But the latest South Korean data suggests that Pyongyang has stepped up its leaflet campaigns since the start of last year when Seoul resumed propaganda broadcasts over loudspeakers at the border in response to a North Korean nuclear weapons test.

Image: Getty Images


Let’s get physical

In the battle of online retailers, Farfetch is coming out on top: the London-headquartered company is currently the world’s most visited luxury e-retailer, with sales in 2016 totalling €754m. Yesterday it staged a conference, FarfetchOS, at London’s Design Museum, where the future of retail was unpacked. For a business that has built its name on the web, the day’s main event was surprising: Farfetch unveiled a prototype bricks-and-mortar set-up that will be rolled out later this year in London boutique Browns and New York tailor Thom Browne. The model combines the technological with the physical, with features such as digital mirrors that impose holograms of clothes onto consumers’ reflections to save them the bother of trying different colours or sizes. A bricks-and-mortar investment is a significant move by the online giant – and one that acknowledges that physical spaces will always be the cornerstone of retail.

Image: Getty Images


Big draw

Following a flurry of design-led events in March, Singapore’s national design scene continues to make strides – though this time it has more to do with the courtroom than the design studio. A new bill tabled by the Ministry of Law to enhance the country’s Registered Design Act promises better protection for small-scale designers. Crucially, the law would transfer automatic ownership rights from the commissioner to the artist, making it easier for new and established designers to protect their work from copyright infringement. The changes are important: Singapore will not become the design capital it hopes to be without the right legal framework.


This week we meet Ben Saunders, one of the world’s most famous polar explorers. In 2004, he became the youngest person to ski solo to the North Pole and a decade later he completed the longest human-powered polar expedition in history: a 1,800-mile return journey to the South Pole on foot. Saunders is also the founding editor and publisher of Avaunt Magazine, a brand ambassador and a public speaker. He shares the most exhilarating moments of his career, why the less glamorous side of exploring involves spreadsheets and all the many lessons he’s learnt.


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