The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 3 January 2018

Airline safety

Image: Getty Images

Up in the air

Fasten your seatbelt and relax: 2017 was the safest year on record for air travel and the trend is set to continue.

Commercial aviation is flying high – and safely. After years of high-profile catastrophes in the skies, from the 2014 disappearance of flight MH370 to the downing of MH17 over Ukraine months later and the 2015 bombing of a Russian passenger jet in the Sinai region, it would be easy to believe that air travel was riskier than ever. But last year proved the safest year on record for commercial passenger jets, with zero deaths from accidents reported. According to Dutch aviation consulting firm To70, which tracks such accidents, the average rate of fatalities on commercial aircraft is about one fatal accident for every 16 million flights. Though there were fatalities from accidents involving cargo aircraft and commercial turbo prop aircraft in 2017, the Aviation Safety Network has said that the number of incidents were still lower than previous years. But the safety surge is actually part of a steady trend; despite worrying headlines in recent years, deaths from flying have been on the descent over the past decade.

International relations

Image: Getty Images

Making headlines

Singer Lorde has been called a “bigot” in a full-page newspaper ad after cancelling a concert in Israel.

Pop star Lorde has found herself mired in controversy after cancelling a concert in Tel Aviv. The 21-year-old singer has being accused of “anti-semitism” by the outspoken US rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s organisation This World: The Values Network, which took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post claiming that both Lorde and her home country of New Zealand are guilty of ignoring the conflict in Syria in favour of criticising Israel (New Zealand joined 127 other nations in voting for a UN resolution asking the US to backtrack on its decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem). As Lorde has played gigs in Russia, which backs Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, the ad suggests that the pop star is a hypocrite and includes the line “21 is young to become a bigot”. Yet while Boteach is known for similar stunts, will his ad hurt Lorde’s reputation? It’s not likely – many have already rallied to defend her.

Social media

Image: Getty Images

In hot water

A German far-right MP is in trouble for anti-Muslim social-media posts.

Is Germany’s new hate-speech law already working? Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, had her Twitter and Facebook accounts temporarily suspended this week after posting anti-Muslim remarks. The politician accused Koln police of placating “barbaric, gang-raping Muslim hordes of men” when the force shared a New Year’s message on Twitter in Arabic (the message was posted in other languages as well). The social media shutdown follows Germany’s new law, which requires social-media sites to block posts that constitute hate speech – failure to do so will result in fines for the companies. Though the long-term success rate of the law is still up in the air – Twitter and Facebook have been repeatedly slammed for not doing enough to stem racist rhetoric – the swift response to a politician does suggest change is possible.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Appetite for change?

Malcolm Turnbull has suggested that a postal survey could guide Australia’s transformation into a republic.

After Australia’s referendum last year over the question of gay marriage, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has this week suggested that a postal survey could be held over the question of his nation becoming a republic. Though the 1999 plebiscite on the royal issue resulted in a majority vote against becoming a republic and indeed the royal family has seen a revived popularity down under in recent years – largely thanks to Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle – there is, however, some logic to Turnbull’s suggestion. After all, the plebiscite on gay marriage was a political win for him. Yet the dangers of putting complicated questions of nation-altering legislation down to a simple referendum question can’t be overstated. Even if Turnbull’s initial remarks gather momentum, he’d be wise to tread carefully.

From Monocle 24

Argentina’s awkward architecture

Section D

Architecture in the Argentine capital is famously chaotic but a fresh crop of designers are giving the city’s skyline renewed elegance. We embark on a guided tour. Plus: Taschen’s ‘The History of Graphic Design’ and the governor of Chiang Mai on the role of design in the city.

From Monocle Films

Animal architecture

Finding a compromise between an animal’s wellbeing, a farm’s efficiency and local architecture traditions is a fine art and often has to be done with limited resources. For Monocle’s 10-year anniversary issue we pulled on our wellies and went in search of the animal architects who are taking the bull by the horns.

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