Tuesday 18 July 2017 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 18/7/2017

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


Divided nation

Sunday’s plebiscite in Venezuela may have been unofficial without any binding authority – dismissed as “meaningless” by the government – but the turnout of 7.2 million people to vote down president Nicolas Maduro’s plan to rewrite the constitution was a sign that the opposition isn’t backing down after months of protests. There have been pointed concessions by the Maduro government in recent weeks, including the release of Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition leader jailed in 2014 for nearly 14 years, and this has led to quiet murmurings that the pressure on the government is starting to take effect. Yet as the crisis grinds into its fourth month of protests, Venezuela appears more divided than ever – between those for and against the government – and these successes by the opposition, however hopeful, demonstrate the bumpy road ahead.

Image: PA Images


Army manoeuvres

Australia is still dealing with the fallout from the 2014 Sydney café siege: prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced yesterday that he intends to give the army sweeping new powers in the event of a terrorist attack. Speaking at the Australian Army’s Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney, Turnbull revealed proposed legal changes that could see the military being called in to support police immediately after an attack. Current laws state that the police must first conclude they’ve exhausted their capabilities before calling on the army — and then a formal request from the prime minister, attorney general and defence minister must be signed by the governor general. While Turnbull said that the police would remain the frontline of defence in the case of an attack, the changes would also see the military giving specialised training to local forces.

Image: Getty Images


Market forces

Americans don’t shop ’til they drop like they used to. According to figures from the US Commerce Department, retail sales have slipped for the second month in a row. While for the past year retail spending has seen slim growth, these two declining months could spell trouble for already ailing US retailers. Accounting for about 70 per cent of US economic activity, a shopping slowdown is sure to send a ripple through the wider economy. And who’s responsible for the drop-off? It appears to be the usual suspect: online outlets. Many US consumers are opting for web-based retail over bricks-and-mortar counterparts. But it isn't gloomy for all American shopkeepers – both furniture shops and car dealers have seen growth.

Image: Getty Images


Waste matters

Milan’s town hall is experimenting with a new way to tackle dangerous debris in one of the city’s popular nightlife areas. For a one-month trial period, tourists and locals in Darsena are forbidden from holding and disposing of glass bottles, tin cans and selfie sticks, while all restaurants, food trucks and street vendors will be required to serve beverages in plastic cups. After a June incident in Turin, in which more than 1,500 people were hurt in a stampede during the screening of a football match with many injuries caused by shards of glass from drink bottles, the regulation will be effective round the clock with the aim of increasing social and environmental awareness.

Postcard From the Past

Tom Jackson is the man behind Twitter profile Postcard From the Past, where he posts pictures of old postcards with a line from the note on the back, taken completely out of context. It creates a perfect snapshot of holidaying in the 20th century – and Jackson has just compiled some of the best for a book.


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