The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 30 March 2018

Government

Image: Shutterstock

Red Orange blues

Conservative Orange County backs Trump in immigration lawsuit against California.

California is often viewed as a bastion of liberalism and the new battleground in the fight against Donald Trump. Case in point: the state recently decided to sue the president over his administration’s decision to bring back a contentious question regarding citizenship in the 2020 census. Yet not all of California is quite so uniformly left-leaning. Affluent Orange County, south of LA, is a red dot in the blue state, cemented by its vehement opposition to the idea of “sanctuary cities”, with the OC’s board of supervisors voting this week to join a Trump lawsuit against California for its stance on protecting immigrants from deportation. Could the OC throw a wrench in California’s larger movement of resistance? Jim Newton, a professor at UCLA doesn’t think so. “As a general principle, local governments cannot opt out of state laws,” he says. “So I think Orange County is saying something more about how it wants to be perceived rather than how it is going to proceed.”

Elections

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Numbers game

In Canada, time is running out for voting reforms ahead of the 2019 general election.

While Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau isn’t exactly rectifying his broken campaign promise about doing away with the first-past-the-post voting system, his government is preparing to reform electoral law ahead of the 2019 election. Bill C-33 intends to simplify voting by allowing citizens to use voter information cards – which Elections Canada mails to all residents – as a form of ID at polling stations. It brings back a practice that was abolished by the previous Stephen Harper government. “What the Conservatives introduced were nasty voter suppression techniques. They felt that voters who didn’t have other [up-to-date] IDs weren’t going to be Conservative supporters anyways,” says York University’s Dennis Pilon. “While reforms will be in the best interest of the Canadian public, they’re also in the best interest of many of the people the Liberals want [to win votes from].” With polls suggesting that Trudeau is likely to lose support in key constituencies in next year’s election, getting as many voters to the polls as possible may prove crucial for his re-election.

Defence

Image: Alex Groves

Lightning strikes

South Korean officials were invited to Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth facility to view the first of its F-35A fighters.

The unveiling in Texas this week of the US-made F-35A aircraft for South Korea’s military was well timed. In a joint ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s plant in Fort Worth, South Korean defence officials called the country’s first stealth fighter jet a potent sign of the two sides’ military co-operation. Seoul has ordered 40 F-35A jets with the first six expected to be used for training South Korean pilots in the US this year. The symbolism is not likely to have gone unnoticed in Beijing where North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met Chinese president Xi Jinping in their own show of diplomatic solidarity. It also comes days before the US and South Korea stage their annual joint military exercises, which will start on 1 April and involve 23,000 US troops stationed on the Korean peninsula and some 3,000 from other US bases in the region.

Media

Image: Getty Images

What’s so funny?

It’s a record-breaking first day of trading for Hong Kong media wags Most Kwai Chung.

One may not have guessed that the company making waves this week on the Hong Kong stock exchange would be a young media firm. But Most Kwai Chung, renowned for its satirical output, surged 880 per cent on its first day trading, making it the strongest debut in years. The media brand launched with a one-page weekly in 2013 and since then, has expanded both its print-media offerings – including books and magazines – and started an online TV channel in 2015. It also launched one of the highest-grossing advertising agencies in the city. Despite the rapid growth, Most Kwai Chung’s dedication to print hasn’t waned, nor has their ability to build an offline community. Events such as concerts and next week’s stand-up comedy nights at Queen Elizabeth Stadium have added to the brand’s appeal.

From Monocle 24

Image: Phil Roeder

US: March for Our Lives

The Urbanist

Our New York bureau chief Ed Stocker looks back at the recent marches in the US and ponders whether Donald Trump’s presidency will be defined by people raising their voices in protest – rather than support.

From Monocle Films

Somerset’s strange fruit

Hauser & Wirth is an international art gallery with its heart in the countryside. We visit its premises in Somerset to review a weird and wonderful show that looks at our relationship with the land.

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