The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 21 December 2017

Governance

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Brute force

Argentina’s government has been accused of ‘militarising’ pension-reform clashes.

The recent protests over pension reform in Argentina marks the first time that the centre-right government of Mauricio Macri has looked seriously ruffled since assuming power two years ago. But the unrest outside Congress has also brought back painful memories of the nation’s 2001 crisis that led to a historic default. Back then five presidents came and went in the space of weeks and 39 people died on the streets. While the clashes this week have not yet been as violent as the ones that took place in 2001 – though more than 150 people have reportedly been injured – members of the opposition and trade unions have accused the government of “militarising” the situation. What certainly seems to have changed is the informal contract between the government and public that saw security forces largely back off in confrontational situations in the past.

Politics

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Independence day?

Catalans go to the polls today but, after a turbulent time, a vote for autonomy is far from guaranteed.

After months of turmoil, Catalans head to the polls today in a regional election. All 135 parliamentary seats for the autonomous region are up for grabs after Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy suspended their autonomy and sacked the entire Catalan government in October following MPs’ vote in favour of independence. Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s nationalist Catalan Democratic party has formed an electoral coalition with the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia called the Junts per Catalunya but it’s in third place in the polls. Ahead of them is the unionist pro-European party Ciudadanos and the separatist Republican Left of Catalonia. Yet it’s been a tumultuous time and polls can be volatile – it’s still up in the air whether Catalans will support an independence agenda at the ballot box.

Business

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Drive of your life

One funeral home in Japan has introduced a novel way to enable elderly and infirm people to pay their respects.

Death is big business – roughly ¥2trn (€15bn) a year in Japan where the number of people dying annually is set to peak at 1.67 million in 2040. Innovations are unveiled every year at the Funeral and Cemetery Show (appropriately known as “Endex”) and the more outlandish duly pounced upon by the media. The latest idea is the drive-thru funeral home, the first of which opened in Nagano prefecture at the weekend. Mourners attending the Aishoden funeral home in Ueda can now pause at an open window to offer condolences and incense without leaving their cars. Before anyone thinks that mourners have become so callous that they can’t stop to pay their respects, the point of the drive-thru is to allow the elderly and infirm to attend funerals they might otherwise miss through ill health.

Fashion

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Follow that

Next year has a lot to live up to but Pitti won’t disappoint and there’s already a buzz around Burberry.

It’s been a big year in fashion, with powerful debuts – including Raf Simons at Calvin Klein – and exits aplenty from Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy to Christopher Bailey at Burberry. But what is the industry looking forward to in 2018? The first big event of the year is a pair of back-to-back shows by Undercover and Takahiromiyashita The Soloist at Pitti Uomo. Pitti’s choice of designers tends to be a bellwether for the season and these two Japanese maestros create a type of clothing that we can expect to see more of in 2018: designer gear that eschews flashy logos and athleisure influences, and lends itself to 1990s-style mix-and-match dressing. The question on everyone’s lips, though, is who will replace Bailey at Burberry? All bets are on Phoebe Philo. Rumours are swirling that the British designer is ready to leave Céline, and she has experience working with Marco Gobbetti, Burberry’s current CEO. We would love to see Philo bring her canny, dynamic, feminine brand of clothing to Britain’s biggest luxury label.

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

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