Monday. 21/8/2017

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


Comeback king

He may be nearly 81 but Silvio Berlusconi is getting back in the game – and even Merkel’s got his back.

Italy’s politicians returning to work after the sacrosanct Ferragosto break have to brace for a tough September ahead, ripe with discussions about a controversial new electoral law and candidacies for regional elections. Among those returning will be a political figure many had thought buried in the country’s past: Silvio Berlusconi. Over the summer Berlusconi, who is almost 81, staged yet another astonishing comeback, with recent voting-intention polls showing his centre-right Forza Italia party as growing in popularity. Even German chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly supported him as the political force who can stop the populists of the Five Star Movement. To do so, however, he would still have to enter a coalition with the centre-left PD party. Berlusconi’s rise may be enticing for those simply hoping to stem the populists but it definitely won’t guarantee a steady course for the country.

Image: Getty Images


Warning shot

Unfortunately Japan’s test of its missile-alert system didn’t seem to alert many people.

If North Korea ever decides to lob missiles at Japan, the cities, towns and villages most likely to be in the crosshairs would know beforehand. That’s the way the Japan’s J-Alert system – which the central government uses to raise the alarm – is supposed to work. But last Friday when officials held a drill with more than 200 municipalities in western Japan not everything went to plan. In some towns the outdoor speakers used to warn residents didn’t work; in others text messages about incoming missiles sent via regional governments to residents’ mobile phones and televisions got garbled. Fortunately officials aren’t entirely dependent on the J-Alert system to keep the public safe: the Self-Defense Forces would already have sprung into action with missiles and naval destroyers.

Image: Getty Images


Staying away

Fewer holiday-makers are heading for the US. Is it all Donald Trump’s fault?

It will come as no surprise that after nearly eight months of the Trump presidency, US tourism is down. It’s easy to lay the blame at the feet of a brash president who has done little to endear himself to many foreigners and Americans alike – but it may not be solely his doing. According to the US International Trade Administration, the number of vacationers coming to the country in 2016 fell by 2.5 per cent, the first drop since the 2008 financial crisis, and a trend that has been in the works since well before the November election. It is mostly attributed to fewer Canadian visitors venturing south for the holidays – a drop of 1.4 million.

Image: Getty Images


Courting an audience

Two high-profile corruption trials will take place in South Korea this year – and they will play out on the small screen.

Corruption charges continue to get plenty of screen time in South Korea ahead of the sentencing of Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong this month and former president Park Geun-hye later in the year. Plenty of material for Accomplices: a documentary about possible press censorship and collusion under Park and her predecessor Lee Myung-bak, which was released over the weekend after a court denied an application to block it. The documentary was produced by a former employee of MBC, one of the major TV networks under scrutiny. Nonetheless, this year’s biggest show is expected to be on the small screen: the Supreme Court’s decision last month to lift a ban on the filming trials has opened the possibility of the Lee and Park verdicts being broadcast live on television.

The Finnish way

The Menu

Why Finland may challenge its Scandi neighbours on Nordic fare, what makes the best butter in the world, plus the top food and drink news headlines from the US.


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