The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 9 May 2017

Affairs

Image: Alamy

Million-dollar maybe

Canada wants to rejoin the UN Security Council but it’ll need some deep pockets.

Canada is stepping up its campaign to rejoin the UN Security Council ahead of 2021 when two seats for members from the UN’s western region become vacant. It is vying with the Republic of Ireland and Norway for a seat at the table and Canada’s campaign, which already has 10 full-time, paid staff on the job, is expected to cost millions of dollars annually over the next three years. Turkey spent almost €78m on its campaign to join the Council in 2008, while Australia’s successful bid in 2012 cost around €17m. The large sums involved are raising eyebrows from commentators in Canada who ask whether the money might be better – and more transparently – spent on direct diplomatic and overseas development efforts elsewhere.

Food & Drink

Image: Getty Images

Hungry for more

Milan is keen to promote Italy’s favourite pastime but it needs to do more to feed the imagination – and journalists.

It might not have the same snappy recognition as saying “I’m off to the Salone, will you be there this year?” but Milan Inc (public and private sector alike) is working hard to turn Tuttofood into the world’s most important event for all aspects of the food chain. Having secured Barack Obama to speak on the topic of food and sustainability, Milan hopes to play host to another global event that brings suppliers, buyers, press and the public together around a key sector. Judging by the crowds at the city’s Fiera on Monday, there’s hunger for an event dedicated to Italy’s favourite topic of conversation but still room to improve. The booths lacked imagination, there wasn't nearly enough sampling for hungry journalists and there was a bit too much trading on street food. Top marks go to pasta brand Felicetti and its premium Monograno range – with a star chef and a cosy corner set-up it had the buzziest stand by far.

Retail

Image: Getty Images

Falling out of fashion?

The US’s big four are about to reveal their numbers: will online sales have felled the giants?

The four biggest department-store chains in the US get a comprehensive check-up this week as Kohl’s Corporation, Macy’s, Nordstrom and JCPenney release their sales figures for the first quarter. The retail sector generally has shown some positive signals – it added 6,000 jobs to the economy in April, according to the United States Department of Labor – and overall retail sales are expected to have risen, too. But the worry is that department stores aren’t contributing to this rise as foot traffic continues to fall. That’s why everyone from investors to analysts to politicians will be watching carefully for signs that these four giants can weather the e-commerce storm.

Culture

Image: Getty Images

Songs of love and hate

Eurovision is back – and so is the political infighting.

The semi-finals of the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest are underway in Kiev as 18 countries fight for a place in Saturday’s big finale. Sweden faces the public vote today with a reliably strong offering from Robin Bengtsson, while Australia and Belgium are also likely to fare well. Keep an eye out for the Portuguese entry, Salvador Sobral: one of the bookies’ favourites, he could scoop the first win for the Lusophone nation. Politics has cast a shadow over this year’s event, including an ongoing spat between the host country and Russia, which had its entry banned by Ukraine after its contestant performed in Crimea. But for this week, at least, it’s all about the music.

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr/Eva Rinaldi

What’s the role of a fan?

Culture with Robert Bound

In the good old days fans tended to adore from behind a barrier but now the lines between them and their adored subject have been blurred by the internet. We ask why some people decide to devote themselves to a particular celebrity or brand and what their dedication does for them.

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