Monday 2 April 2018 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 2/4/2018

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


New testament?

As back-from-the dead stories go, the return of the Marcos family in the Philippines is of biblical proportions. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos – son of the late dictator who was ousted in 1986 before fleeing to Hawaii – could soon become the country’s vice-president as a partial recount finally gets underway today almost two years after the contested VP election took place. Bongbong claims vice-president Leni Robredo ballot-stuffed her way to a victory; she beat the younger Marcos in 2016 by a razor-thin margin. Whatever the result of the recount, the Marcos family is unlikely to be satisfied until they regain power in the Philippines: Imelda and her brood are practically measuring the curtains in the Malacañang Palace in Manila.

Image: Getty Images


So lonely

Kim Jong-un’s trip to China last week blindsided Japanese officials. With Kim now planning to meet South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in in late April and US president Donald Trump in May, Tokyo is worried that it could be sidelined. Behind the scenes, Japanese officials are reportedly scrambling to arrange their own summit with Pyongyang. Tokyo’s best hope is to dangle offers of trillions of yen in economic aid. Even if that doesn’t work, prime minister Shinzo Abe is already moving ahead with a contingency plan: a trip to Florida on 18 April to talk strategy with Trump. Abe will likely remind the US president about North Korea’s multiple abductions of Japanese citizens and the ease with which North Korean ballistic missiles can reach the Japanese archipelago. But sending a message through Trump is not the same as direct pressure and Japan’s isolation could play in North Korea’s favour – something that won’t be lost on Pyongyang.

Image: Getty Images


Trevi trevails

Superstition dictates that tossing a coin over your shoulder and into the Trevi Fountain should guarantee a future visit to Rome. The appealing wish draws a staggering €1.4m each year from tourists’ pockets. But what happens to the money once it sinks to the bottom? So far, all proceeds have been going to Italy’s Caritas, the charitable branch of the Catholic Church’s Italian Bishop’s Conference. But a new bill, signed by the vice-mayor last year and meant to take effect this week, stipulates that all money collected in the fountain should start going into town-hall coffers instead. The administration was keen to ensure that it would still go towards charitable projects in a bid to diversify the organisations benefitting from the funds. But church-affiliated charities still hold sway in Rome and the city – clearly wanting to avoid tensions with Caritas – has now delayed the resolution until the end of the year. Will it be enough time to sort out the age-old issue of church and state? Or will the city be wishing to undo the announcement full stop?


Breaking news

The BBC is expanding its repertoire with a new language. A Serbian news service is the latest in the broadcaster’s most recent expansion to its World Service foreign output. The Belgrade-based operation will produce exclusive Serbian content and is to be staffed by local journalists. The launch is part of the BBC World Service’s largest expansion since the 1940s, funded by more than €330m from the UK government announced in 2016. The World Service currently delivers news in more than 40 languages worldwide – a potent soft-power boost for the UK. It has most recently unveiled and expanded bureaux in Lagos, Bangkok, Cairo and Kathmandu.

Image: Andre Castellucci

Adelaide Writers’ Week

We head to Adelaide Writers’ Week to hear from those behind the scenes, meet the directors, and befriend a kangaroo or two.

Image: Shinichi Ito

Japanese bars

Pull up a pew to discover classic Japanese bars with soothing lighting, knowledgeable and immaculately turned-out staff and loyal clientele.


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