The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 20 November 2017

Sport

Image: Getty Images

Moving the goalposts

The men may have lost out but Italy’s women’s national football team is achieving its goals.

When Italy’s national football team failed to qualify for next year’s world cup, sport fans around the world gawped: the azzurri haven’t missed a world tournament since 1958 (and won two titles in the meantime). Yet Italians scrambling for another team to support should look no further than their own women’s side. Led by coach Milena Bertolini, the azzurre are performing much better than their male counterparts: all three qualifying games played so far have been wins, with an overall nine goals scored and none conceded. With major clubs such as Fiorentina and Juventus starting female teams, women’s football seems to have finally found its stride in Italy, so much so that many fans have started calling for the games to be shown on primetime RAI1, the national broadcaster’s main channel. Tune in next week to see if the national team’s efforts against Portugal will indeed be televised.

Politics

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Who’s in and who’s out?

As Thailand prepares for elections, the ruling junta must let the people decide for themselves.

When Thailand’s military-led government announces its latest cabinet reshuffle, fatigues are expected to be out and suit and ties in. The move to increase the number of civilians taking up senior ministerial posts comes a year ahead of the country’s first democratic elections since the army seized control in 2014. Yet there’s concern that the ruling junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), is not ready to give up political power. Prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha recently posed a set of questions to the public, including one about why politicians are trying to discredit the NCPO, which raised suspicions that the NCPO was trying to gauge public support for the regime. Letting voters freely decide for themselves at the ballot box would be the best way to ease this worry and provide a much-needed fillip for democracy in the region.

Business

Image: Getty Images

Branching out

After breaking into office-furniture sales and revamping its own HQ, Muji is taking its manifesto to the masses.

Last year Japanese retailer Muji moved into the office-furniture sector with a line-up of wooden tables, shelves and desks made from domestic trees. The company behind the brand, Ryohin Keikaku, also saw it as an opportunity to declutter and redesign its own Tokyo headquarters. That process is documented in detail in a new book: Mujirushi Ryohin no Gyomuhyojunka Iinkai (Muji’s Business Standardisation Committee). Set for release on 1 December the book, by an in-house editorial team, explains how the wooden furniture, storage and abundance of informal meeting spaces have improved efficiency and fostered greater creativity and collaboration among employees. Muji has also opened a new line of business: helping other companies redesign their own offices.

Technology

Image: Getty Images

Top dollar?

The US is investing in artificial intelligence but the amount that it’s willing to spend is far short of its counterparts.

The US’s intelligence agencies are pouring money into companies that are experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI) in Silicon Valley. The reason? The intelligence community believes it could be a vital spying tool of the future, able to sift through court cases to ascertain facts or analyse satellite imagery for trends, and predict how a country or organisation might act. It sounds futuristic but the US is already on the back foot. Last year, for example, it spent an estimated $1.2bn (€1bn) on unclassified AI but the Chinese government, in its recently unveiled five-year plan, announced a cash influx of $150bn (€127bn) into AI development.

From Monocle 24

‘Fantastic Man’

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Find out how one of the most influential magazines of the past decade-and-a-bit has broken the habit of a lifetime with its latest cover. Plus: a title from Germany to boost your hosting skills and a magazine about cities that doesn’t shy away from the grittier aspects of urban living.

From Monocle Films

Boutique Norway

Monocle heads to Norway’s third largest city, Stavanger, to discover how this boom town’s oil reserves are spurring on those entrepreneurs looking to add variety and quality to this once-understated retail scene.

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