The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 13 October 2017

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

Buddy folly

If Unesco is going to say mean things to Israel, then the US isn’t playing.

As far as the US’s involvement in Unesco goes, the toys have been thrown well clear of the pram. Yesterday it decided to pull out of the UN’s educational, scientific and cultural organisation citing the body’s alleged “anti-Israel bias”. Sadly, the toys in question are often sites, buildings and artefacts of priceless historical and cultural value that most of the better-brought-up parts of the world have been trying to save from destruction. Israel cut its funding to the UN earlier this year in response to the wording of a Unesco resolution that concerned the country’s connection with the Temple Mount, one of Judaism and Islam’s holiest sites, situated in Jerusalem’s Old City. Israel – angry for itself, by itself – clearly wasn’t angry enough and so the US heroically stepped in, in another example of the current government’s huffy isolationism. In the culture wars, solidarity can be a funny old thing.

Technology

Image: Getty Images

Buzz off

The Thai capital has introduced tough measures for bothersome drones in a bid to regain control over its skies.

Bangkok took to drones in a big way but the legislation to keep them in line hasn’t quite kept pace. There are some 50,000 of them in Thailand today but only 350 registered with the government, as has been required by law since 2015 – and now the city is clamping down. If drone users don’t register their unmanned aerial vehicle in the next 90 days they'll face a jail term of up to five years and a THB100,000 (€2,550) fine. It’s a harsh measure, in keeping with the steely rule of the governing military junta. But these flying machines, be they whizzing over sandy beaches or hovering downtown, have become something of a nuisance around Asia. The industry is long overdue some control and Bangkok is intent on getting its skies in order.

Geopolitics

Image: Shutterstock

In from the cold

Those countries looking to break the ice are heading to the Arctic Circle Assembly to talk about exploration, climate change and a very long road.

The Arctic Circle Assembly gets underway in Reykjavík’s Harpa today, the fifth annual shindig for those looking to have a stake in the region’s future. In contrast to the Arctic Council – Canada’s diplomatic meeting of nations that has all the auspices of a decision-making body – the assembly is more of a talking shop where businesses, politicians, media and international organisations make themselves heard. There are sessions on Poland’s explorative trips to the Arctic, for instance, as well as the ever-present threat of melting ice and the rights of indigenous peoples across the Arctic Circle. But this year’s event also underlines Asian interests in the far north: China is keen to show how the Arctic fits into its One Belt One Road policy as receding ice reveals strategic pathways.

Fashion

Image: Getty Images

Political animal

Gucci’s decision to shun fur is a savvy retail move as consumers become more ethically aware.

The anti-fur movement received a major boost this week when Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s CEO, announced that the Italian fashion house will go fur free from next season. The decision to ban mink, rabbit and fox trimmings from Gucci’s collections has been partly attributed to Alessandro Michele, the charismatic creative director who has turned around the brand’s fortunes since taking over in 2015. As one of the most influential labels of the moment (its revenues for the first half of 2017 were up by 43 per cent on the same period for the previous year), Gucci’s announcement should be a boon to the anti-pelt movement. The brand joins a growing list of sans-fur heavyweights, including Armani and Calvin Klein; earlier this year online-retail giant Yoox (parent company of Net A Porter, Mr Porter and Yoox.com) also announced that it won't sell any fur products. There may still be a market for the material in countries such as Russia and China but, at a time when consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of ethical production, going fur-free makes good business sense.

From Monocle 24

Image: Bryan T

Mongolia: Gerhub

The Urbanist

In Mongolia about 60 per cent of Ulaanbaatar’s residents live in informal settlements surrounding the capital, known as ‘gers’. New social-enterprise NGO Gerhub wants to modernise these traditional nomad tents.

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