The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 7 June 2017

Government

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Priority landing?

Despite a long to-do list, Trump has set his sights on a strange target: the US’s air-traffic-control network.

Of the list of priorities that the Trump administration has laid out during this young presidency, privatising the nation’s air-traffic-control network is undoubtedly among the most peculiar. The US boasts the world’s largest and arguably most complicated network, which has proved to work remarkably well. It has been eight years since a commercial airliner has crashed on the watch of the body that currently controls US airspace, the FAA. Trump wants the FAA’s responsibilities transferred to a new private not-for-profit organisation, which would see airlines take more control over fees and taxes, and away from Congress, which currently has oversight. Other countries that have trialled a similar idea – most notably Canada – have noted no significant difference between a government-run aviation authority and a private non-profit. Given how much President Trump has on his plate at the moment, tinkering with one of the best-functioning components of the US’s national transport seems strange to say the least.

Media

Image: Getty Images

Hit the Brics

Delegates gather in Beijing for a summit on improving media coverage – but whose lead will they follow?

Remember the Brics? China assumed the presidency of this club of formerly fast-growing economies at the start of the year and, under its leadership, it wants to improve the standard of media coverage. China’s national news agency Xinhua is convening a media summit in Beijing today with its counterparts from Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa. One discussion will be on the “duty and social responsibility” of media outlets but the hosts are likely to cover this topic from a different angle to the delegates from the democratic members of the club. Media in Brazil and South Africa have not been afraid to cover the nations’ political-corruption scandals, something that Chinese state media would never dream of. While their political leaders might like the idea of following the Chinese lead, their newspapers are – thankfully – unlikely to go down that particular path.

Government

Image: Getty Images

Love island

The Japanese government is playing Cupid in an effort to get its dwindling population into the bedroom.

Japan’s shrinking population and low birthrate is forcing regional and municipal governments to take matters into their own hands. One policy initiative that every one of the country’s 47 prefectures is spending on is matchmaking. It’s a growing business with prefectural and city hall officials now running online-dating sites, hosting seminars about love, organising parties and providing chaperone- and couples-counselling services. National statistics are hard to come by but a recent survey by Kyodo News estimates that regional governments have set aside more than ¥2.3bn (€19m) this fiscal year to help young Japanese find a partner to marry. For remote towns and cities that have struggled to keep young people from leaving for the big cities – or persuade them to return – playing Cupid is a matter of long-term financial stability and survival. The effort isn’t without its detractors who say that public officials should do more to expand child-daycare services and shorten the waiting lists that make it hard for parents with young children to return to the work force.

Design

Image: Getty Images

Finnish up?

Young designers are out to prove that Finland can compete with the best the Nordic region has to offer.

Finland isn’t the first nation that springs to mind when the design conversation turns Nordic, yet in the land of rich craft tradition there is a growing aspiration to rival Denmark and Sweden in everything from furniture to fashion. A new generation of Finnish designers are in London today, meeting the press and buyers at a reception hosted by the Embassy of Finland. The event aims to shine a light on the Finnish creative industries and help young talent enter the UK market. With Finland celebrating its 100th birthday this year and Helsinki’s hospitality scene and design districts blossoming, the nation has plenty going for it. Finnish design brands such as timber-furniture specialist Nikari are already acclaimed for the level of refinement in their products. Here’s hoping that the new names at today’s event can follow Nikari’s lead and prove that thoughtful and well-made design extends further north than most people think.

From Monocle 24

Laszlito Kovacs and Edel Rodriguez

Section D

Illustrators play a critical but often overlooked role in modern journalism, bringing writing to life. Two of the best tell us how their jobs have changed with the digital revolution.

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