The arrival en masse of migrants to Italy’s shores has dominated the Italian press this summer, even if it’s not found the same column inches overseas. But the debate is turning ugly: recriminations and accusations, amid reports of violent evictions, are prompting a need for a shift in the discourse. Interior minister Marco Minniti has struck a chord by suggesting that Italy should think beyond initial hospitality and more about real integration. His proposed plan is to give each administrative region the responsibility to ensure that language and professional courses are a priority. Willingly or not, Italy has become Europe’s front line in the Med crisis and – while there’s a case for greater support from the EU – it’s high time the nation showed not only a readiness to rescue those stranded at sea but also take a longer view.
Seoul’s inaugural architecture biennale opened to the public over the weekend, as 50 cities take part in two months of exhibitions and events at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Visitors should also head outdoors to see some top architecture in the South Korean capital: mayor Park Won-soon has ushered in a preference for renovation and reuse since he moved into City Hall in 2011. At the beginning of this month a former oil storage facility in Seongsan-dong reopened to the public as a leafy cultural park, with the tanks transformed into exhibition and performance halls. The renamed Mapo Oil Depot follows on from Seoullo 7017, a conversion of a condemned road bridge into an elevated pedestrian walkway. Mayor Park told Monocle earlier this year, “Seoullo represents the starting point for the era of recycling.”
To promote quality journalism, Sweden’s government has proposed to stop taxing print publications. Currently Sweden-based titles pay a 2.5 per cent tax on advertising revenues above SEK75m (€8m), making it tough to contend in an evermore competitive market. The proposed policy would scrap the levy for both dailies and periodicals, and free up money for more investigative reporting and in-depth coverage. The change could come into effect by January 2018 and would certainly give Sweden’s print media a leg-up. There’s also talk of reducing the VAT for digital media but that decision is one for the EU to make and may not happen in time for the 2018 Swedish general election, which prime minister Stefan Löfven warned could be affected by fake news.
There may be some penny-pinching when the US Congress returns from summer recess tomorrow. Fights over the budget and debt ceiling are looming, and on top of all that two senators have set the humble penny in their sights. They are working to eliminate the one-cent coin as, according to estimates, killing off the lowly penny could save the US government $16bn (€13bn). Due to inflation and the rising value of metals it has become unprofitable to make pennies that cost a cent and half to make. The move would follow similar penny bans in Canada and Australia. But according to a recent poll, two thirds of Americans would rather keep their pennies.