The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 17 August 2017

Politics

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20/20 vision

The sad reality of Donald Trump’s presidency continues but will it stretch beyond a first term?

While dodging Russian allegations and giving white supremacists a boost – and battling historically low approval ratings while he’s at it – it’s hard to think where Donald Trump might be by 2020. Yet, bizarrely for a sitting president, he has been “campaigning” for re-election pretty much since his appointment. From Melbourne, Florida, to Youngstown, Ohio in the rust-belt heartland, the 45th Potus has continued to hold rallies. He’s also just released a new TV spot that affirms, “Democrats obstructing; the media attacking; career politicians standing in the way of success” before commanding, “Let Donald Trump do his job”. And in case we were worried that he’d forgotten about his long-running spar with CNN, a statement released alongside this new advert blames the cable channel for “censoring” his campaign ads for the second time since May. The reality-TV fiasco limps on.

Design

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Skyline redesign

Singapore’s signature cityscape is subject to change as new districts are introduced.

The Marina Bay Sands that crowns the waterfront of Singapore’s central business district is the postcard picture recognised the world over as the face of the island-nation – but that may soon change. This week the adjacent container port, Tanjong Pagar Terminal, has been emptied a decade ahead of schedule as part of a national infrastructure reshuffle consolidating all shipping hubs in a central facility by 2040 and is ready for redevelopment. The closure of the historic Terminal – once described by former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew as the Lion City’s “raison d’être” – is expected to be followed by the creation of new districts under the government’s much-anticipated Greater Southern Waterfront masterplan. Ideas being weighed include extending the downtown business district, as well as expanding parks and pedestrian areas. Regardless of the final outcome, the redevelopment of the area, which is three times the size of Marina Bay, is sure to alter the city-state’s profile.

Tourism

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Gaining altitude

Visitors to Japan have hit a record high – and it’s thanks to low-cost airlines.

Tourism numbers in Japan hit a monthly record of 2.68 million in July, according to a new report from the Japan Tourism Agency. The reason? The spike in visitors has been attributed to the time of year but particularly the increase in low-cost flights to Japan. The latter helped create a new record at Kansai International Airport in Osaka, which saw 6.79 million passengers in the first half of 2017. Even Norwegian, Scandinavia’s largest low-cost carrier, has set its sights on launching flights to Japan. The high visitor numbers, up 16.8 per cent from last year, have also had a positive effect on the nation’s retailers: the Japan Department Stores Association says sales in Osaka alone grew 7.3 per cent year on year. Fortunately the summer holidays aren’t over just yet.

Fashion

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Waste not, want not

A Spanish fashion brand is putting marine waste to good use – and reaping the rewards.

Quickly glance ​at the T-shirts and swimming trunks from Spanish fashion brand Ecoalf and you won’t realise that each item is manufactured from marine waste. Whether it’s puffer jackets woven from fishing nets or ​bright ​orange trainers made of a plastic-bottle composite, this innovative championing of zero-waste has earned Ecoalf​ – founded by Javier Goyeneche​ (pictured) – a place on the London Design Museum’s shortlist for its 2017 Beazley Designs of the Year award. The ​prize spans​ ​architecture, transport and fashion​,​ and political and social activism is present throughout. Other fashion nominees include Nike’s groundbreaking high-performance hijab and the Pussyhat ​(​the knitted pink beanie that became a feminist symbol during the Women’s March in Washington​)​. In the case of Ecoalf, ​the award shines a spotlight on one of the major issues confronting the world’s second-most wasteful industry. Big labels are increasingly supporting zero-waste agendas and would do well to look to Ecoalf to see how it’s done.

From Monocle 24

Eat plants, love life

The Entrepreneurs

Paul Brown is the founder of popular healthy-food start-up BOL Foods, whose bestselling products included meat and fish until the company relaunched this summer as a plant-based brand. So why the dramatic change in strategy? Will customers flock to them or flee? And what sort of planning went into the decision? Brown walks us through the company’s story.

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