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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 31 July 2017

Defence

Image: Getty Images

Acting its age

Preferring to peddle soft power these days, the Chinese army’s 90th birthday will be an altogether more sedate affair.

China’s People’s Liberation Army turns 90 tomorrow and the style of celebration will speak volumes about president Xi’s goal of transforming it into a modern fighting force. Xi is expected to don military fatigues to watch war games in the largest military training centre in Inner Mongolia and forsake the usual parade of missiles, tanks and troops in Tiananmen Square that is a style so beloved by his belligerent neighbour in North Korea. A shopping-cart display of military deterrents is no longer de rigueur as Beijing is increasingly focused on projecting softer power overseas: troops shipped out a few weeks ago to man the country’s first foreign base in Djibouti and China is already offering to help out in territorial disputes between its host and Eritrea.

Economy

Image: Getty Images

Fare deal

With passengers hunting for value, Japan is trialling an app that should help cabbies compete.

Japan’s flatlining economy hasn’t been kind to the country’s taxi industry. Cabbies are carrying fewer customers than they ever have in the past half century. But to give the trade a lift, Japan’s transport ministry is teaming up with 44 taxi operators to test a new idea: a prototype car-hailing smartphone app that would calculate fares based on the distance travelled and road congestion even before the journey starts. While there’s nothing wildly new here, officials hope the technology can lure customers who are wary of racking up inflated rates if they get stuck in traffic and make taxis more competitive against ride-sharing services such as Uber. The government says it will also analyse the trial data to overhaul the pricing system.

Housing

Image: Getty Images

Building blocks

A lack of new homes means some US cities are feeling rather cramped – not to mention expensive.

US housing is getting rather cramped. While cities around the country are booming, construction of new houses and apartments has struggled to keep pace with the recovery from the financial crisis. A new study out last week details how from 2005 to 2015 the number of households in the US grew by 11.2 million, while only 9.9 million new housing units were built. San Francisco, especially, is feeling the squeeze, with 6.8 new jobs for every new house and apartment. This dearth of housing in the country’s major cities has led to sky-high rents and extended commutes as workers opt for lodging farther away from city centres. But not all the news is dire – cities like Charlotte and Atlanta are keeping the cranes moving and rents under control.

Fashion

Image: Eyevine

Hear no evil

Why did a tell-all interview with a former employee of ‘Vogue’ rock the industry?

It was the interview that sent shockwaves through the fashion world: ‘Vogue’ UK’s former fashion director Lucinda Chambers talking with candour about the industry in her conversation with critical-thinking fashion journal ‘Vestoj’. Chambers was sounding off about her old title’s relevance in today’s world and the culture on the editorial floor. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the reaction of that interview – why did it strike such a chord?” says Anja Aronowsky Cronberg, who spoke to Monocle 24’s print media show, ‘The Stack’. “A lot of things Lucinda told me are things that people in the industry already knew, but we’re just not used to hearing someone saying them out loud.” Tune in to our full interview with Anja on this week’s edition of The Stack.

From Monocle 24

Image: P.A Jorgensen

Varied tastes

The Menu

A visit to the Canadian Food Championships in Edmonton and London’s new west-Africa-inspired restaurant Ikoyi, plus the week’s top headlines from Italy.

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