The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 11 September 2017

Politics

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Be my guest

Some will question if Trump is wise to welcome the Malaysian prime minister to the White House during an ongoing US investigation.

Donald Trump’s already questionable list of foreign acquaintances will grow a little longer tomorrow when Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak arrives at the White House. The invite is seen as a way of Washington keeping up relations with key allies in Southeast Asia at a time when China is ramping up its foreign investments in the region. Nonetheless some of the potential gains for the Malaysian leader have cast doubts on the wisdom of Trump’s hospitality. The US justice department is still investigating the 1MDB investment-fund corruption scandal that has dogged Razak in recent years and this executive endorsement from the White House is likely to shore up his support at home ahead of an upcoming general election due next year.

Technology

Image: Getty Images

Great expectations

Apple’s big reveal should give the firm a much-needed boost after it dropped to third place in global smartphone sales.

Tomorrow Apple’s Tim Cook will reveal the company’s latest hardware at a gathering in Cupertino. Because the event marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, many are expecting fireworks. Rumour has it there will be an all-new version of the smartphone (could it be called the iPhone X?) with an OLED screen and facial-recognition technology. Apple watchers are also expecting the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus. The new products come at an important time for the Silicon Valley giant – only days ago it fell from number two to three in global smartphone sales behind China’s Huawei (and the overall market leader Samsung). “I expect Apple to sail past Huawei in a matter of days after this launch because it will be a new design,” says Monocle’s technology correspondent David Phelan. “Huawei’s rise might not be a blip in the long run but I think iPhone sales will go absolutely crazy from Tuesday onwards.”

Expo

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On the nose

Florence just closed the doors on its annual trade fair focusing on fragrance. The watchword this year? Sustainability.

For the past three days 220 perfume and cosmetics brands from around the world flocked to the Renaissance city for Pitti Fragranze. Now in its 15th year, the event – organised by the same team behind the successful Pitti Uomo menswear shows – gathers together niche perfume-makers (hint: no big fashion brands to smell here) to show off their scented wares to several thousand buyers. Brands present this year included English perfumer James Heeley and skincare specialist Susanne Kaufmann from Austria. In between meetings at booths inside Stazione Leopolda, there were talks and panels on industry trends. A major recurring theme this year was the topic of sustainability and the rise in interest from consumers for natural fragrances and organic perfumes sourced from botanical ingredients that are free of chemicals.

Environment

Image: Alamy

Branching out

Trees are perfect for helping us cool off during the summer but some of them are feeling the heat.

Trees are known to have a positive effect in cooling down over-heated cities, and planners have long understood the benefits of parks, leafy boulevards and green rooftops for lowering the temperature. But recurring record temperatures are also putting these green sources of shade under stress. To help its suffering big-leaf linden and sycamore trees, the city of Bern in Switzerland has been looking to sunny Croatia for hardier breeds. “We predict that in a few decades the Bernese climate will resemble that of Zagreb,” says Sabine Tschäppeler, who oversees green spaces in the Swiss capital. If all goes well, Bern could soon be home to Turkey oaks and flowering ash trees, which are much more able to cope when the mercury starts to rise.

From Monocle 24

Image: Pepe Molina

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