The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 31 August 2017

Defence

Image: Alamy

Jeopardy!

With North Korea upping the ante and the US navy on guard, it’s a poor time for Trump to respond like an ex-TV personality rather than a politician.

In light of rising tensions with North Korea, yesterday’s US missile-defence test has taken on more meaning. The Standard Missile-6, fired from the USS John Paul Jones off the coast of Hawaii, is one of the navy’s most advanced missile interceptors, able to shoot down a medium-range ballistic missile in its final seconds of flight. The thought that it might actually have to be used is one of the reasons why the US has called for enforced economic sanctions against North Korea in a bid to pressure the country to abandon its nuclear programme. For Donald Trump to choose this moment to tweet that “talking is not the answer” is fitting for a former game-show host but not for a president, especially when his administration’s goal has so far been to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table.

Media

Image: Alamy

Digital divide

A Singaporean free sheet is yet another title that will soon cease to exist in print form.

Singapore’s media is following an industry trend. In the wake of New York’s Village Voice going online only, industry giant Mediacorp has announced that the city-state’s second most-read English-language daily Today will cease its print distribution. From the end of September it will be the first Singaporean newspaper to invest in an exclusively digital future. Many people will miss the free sheet which is distributed at public train stations and is popular on morning commutes. Mediacorp’s Today provided a measure of competition in Singapore’s tepid print news scene, offering a long-form, analytical read to complement the country’s main daily newspaper The Straits Times, run by Singapore Press Holdings.

Economy

Image: Reuters

Plastic fantastic

Cash is still king in the Mexican capital but the government hopes its transport incentive will change all that.

For all its recent advances, Mexico City still runs on cash. Many of the city’s more than 20 million inhabitants don’t have bank accounts – a paradox for a modern metropolis – so the municipal government has teamed up with MasterCard to address the issue. By mid-2018 the latter will roll out debit cards that will allow users to tap in and out of the metro. The city’s underground network carries millions of people a day but the old-school five peso (€0.25) paper ticket or more recently introduced pre-paid cards still need to be bought from a ticket desk. This venture is a smart way for the city to encourage the city to go cashless.

Government

Image: PA Images

Nuclear plants

Japan is trying to convince people that produce from Fukushima is safe to eat.

In the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011, a major public complaint has been the lack of clear information concerning the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant. Since 2013 a television show called Nasubi no Gimon (Nasubi asks Questions) has tried to explain radiation and decontamination. Japan’s Environment Ministry then turned this show into a manga and this week announced that the first booklet is now available in English. The cheery cartoon titled Nasubi no Gimon – Food Edition, features Nasubi with a cast of farmers and inspectors, and is designed to show that agricultural produce from Fukushima is safe to eat and rigorously tested to prove it. Of course many might argue that another way to reassure the public would be for earthquake-prone Japan to turn its back on nuclear power for good.

From Monocle 24

Good fit

The Entrepreneurs

Ben Farren is the founder and CEO of Spoke, a menswear brand obsessed with clothes built for fit. It sells just two styles – chinos and shorts – but in a huge range sizes. The products are sold online, directly to the customer. But what are the promises and pitfalls of the model? Farren walks us through the company’s story.

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