The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 16 February 2018

Politics

Image: Fritz Beck

False sense of security?

With the UK in a precipitous position, Theresa May must gain traction on her “road to Brexit”.

Security and state officials from around the world have arrived in the Bavarian capital for the annual Munich Security Conference, which kicks off today. Among other leaders, Theresa May will be giving a speech here tomorrow, the next in a series of “road to Brexit” addresses that she and other UK government ministers have been delivering. While these speeches haven’t gone to plan – Boris Johnson’s address earlier this week was widely mocked for its lack of substance, while few people bothered to attend May’s speech in Davos – here in Munich, the prime minister might actually be able to gain a foothold. After all, the UK’s security strength gives it something of an edge. If she can convincingly reaffirm her country’s commitment to security on the continent, May could even generate some goodwill with EU leaders.

Media

Image: Alamy

Falling star

It’s more bad news for Canada’s print industry as another major brand announces it can no longer paper over the cracks.

The chair of Torstar, one of Canada’s largest print-publishing companies, has warned that the firm is “fighting for its life”. The company, which owns the Toronto Star newspaper, announced this week that it was cutting a dozen or so jobs in its digital and sales wings, reducing the paper’s freelance and travel budgets and suspending its prestigious internship programme. The Toronto Star – long hailed for its investigative reporting – has seen its revenues suffer since 2015 when a paywall for its online content was removed in favour of a bespoke tablet edition, which was itself abandoned last year. The picture for print in Canada more broadly is also far from rosy as local papers have shuttered in recent months. Though the government has allocated funds to support struggling newspapers, as more celebrated titles continue to flounder it’s clear that a more robust approach is needed.

Geopolitics

Image: Alejandro Cegarra

Call to action

South American leaders need to step up their response to Venezuela’s indiscretions.

Few doubt the elections scheduled for April in Venezuela will be a farce: ever since President Nicolás Maduro formed a loyalist-stacked Constituent Assembly last year – which promptly gave itself wide-reaching legislative powers – it has become impossible to pretend otherwise. The Lima Group, a body made up of foreign leaders from the region (as well as Canada), met earlier this week to denounce the legitimacy of the election. Meanwhile, the Washington-based Organization of American States has rescinded Venezuela’s invitation to the upcoming Summit of the Americas. Yet with Colombia tightening its borders against Venezuelan migrants and little sign of an end to the impasse, it’s time for more concrete action, rather than empty condemnations, from regional powers.

Business

Up down under

Aussie retailers are still fighting fit and flexing their muscles in the presence of Amazon.

Three months after Amazon launched in Australia, the country’s retailers seem to be standing strong in the face of the e-commerce colossus with many reporting that their sales have been steady – or indeed up – since November. That could change down the line, however: some larger companies, such as JB Hi-Fi, have seen their stocks dip, possibly due to investors worrying about competition from the retail giant. So far Amazon has just one distribution centre in Australia but many expect it to set up more across the country. For now Aussie companies – particularly independently owned retailers and those that have a strong high-street presence – look safe.

From Monocle 24

Image: Rodrigo Cardoso

Sound and city

The Urbanist

We talk urbanism, architecture and acoustics as we report from Lisbon’s Resonate, a one-day conference run by Resite, Maat and Meyer Sound, which attracted an international crowd of architects, artists and acousticians.

From Monocle Films

Montevideo: broad horizons

With its intriguing mix of grand colonial boulevards, art deco façades and buzzing plazas, Uruguay’s capital is emerging as a beacon of creativity and democracy in Latin America. Monocle’s Tomos Lewis and photographer Ana Cuba travelled to Montevideo to find out more about Latam’s most liveable, lovable and liberal capital.

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