Tuesday. 14/11/2017

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock

Politics

Last-minute intervention?

Despite dragging its heels, it’s not too late for the US to condemn the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.

As Donald Trump wraps up a mixed first outing to Asia, his secretary of state Rex Tillerson is making one last stop without him. Tomorrow the US’s top diplomat will be in Myanmar to discuss, above all, the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine province and the ongoing refugee crisis in neighbouring Bangladesh. Many commentators hope Tillerson will follow the example set by the UN’s high commissioner for human rights and label the situation “ethnic cleansing”. Others back in the US are calling for the Trump administration to reintroduce sanctions against the Myanmar military. However, even if such measures were taken (and no one should hold their breath), it will hardly look like strong leadership on the issue: Trump and his team have spent weeks prevaricating on the goings-on in Myanmar already.

Image: Alamy

Retail

Fuelling a revival

It’s about to become a lot more inviting to make a pit-stop at one of Finland’s petrol stations.

Finnish petrol-station chain Neste K has hired top chef Pekka Terava, who in the past has also rustled up Finnair’s Business Class menu, to rethink its food offerings. Truck-stop food in Finland is still largely premade and mass-produced but Kesko, the retailing conglomerate that owns Neste K and various Finnish supermarket chains, hopes to stand out by introducing fresh produce and well-presented buffets. Food has become an increasingly important revenue stream for petrol stations as the competition chains minimises profit margins on fuel. Better-quality coffee, which is notoriously poor at Finland’s petrol stations, should be the top priority in a country that consumes the most caffeine in the world per capita. 

Image: Getty Images

Technology

Going against type

When it comes to fonts, IBM has decided that to get a job done properly you have to do it yourself.

IBM is shaking up its look: the 109-year-old technology giant has developed its own typeface and, surprisingly, it’s this rather design-minded company’s first bespoke font. With the introduction of the new IBM Plex typeface, the company is shedding its dependency on Neue Helvetica. IBM was spending millions of dollars a year to license the latter for its employees and suffered from a lack of uniformity across the brand. The change may not seem like a great departure but the new font will make appearances throughout the company, from software and websites to signage and marketing, and be made available for anyone to use for free.

Image: Shutterstock

Tourism

Leaving gift

By 2019 it’s likely that anyone leaving Japan on a jet plane will have to pay a tax for the privilege.  

Tourist numbers in Japan are hitting record highs and the government is looking to capitalise on the traffic: a “sayonara tax” of ¥1,000 (€7.50) on anyone flying out of the country has now been proposed. Last year 40 million people – including 17 million Japanese nationals – travelled by air from Japan. Assuming the country meets its target of attracting 40 million visitors from overseas by 2020 and 60 million by 2030, the tax, which is likely to be added to airfares from April 2019, could generate as much as ¥57bn (€430m) in its first year. This would certainly ease a government budget that creaks with massive debts but officials say they would put the money to good use: promoting tourism and easing delays at customs. 

Image: Alamy

Colombia Road flower market

Tall Stories

We head to London’s East End to visit a short strip of street that turns into an urban garden every Sunday morning.  

Retail special: stationery shops

A new generation of stationery entrepreneurs are preserving and reviving the art of writing. Monocle films travels to Prague, Vancouver and London to visit three shops that share a love of paper.

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