The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 5 April 2018

Retail

Image: Alamy

Drop shop

The Greek capital wants to clean up its streets by cutting kiosks but is it at risk of sweeping communities aside in the process?

Athens has announced plans to drastically reduce the number of kiosks on its streets in what it says is an attempt to boost pavement space and improve aesthetic standards in the capital. Known in Greek as periptero, the function of these small structures was initially social and, to this day, kiosk licences cannot be bought but are passed down between generations. On offer is everything from newspapers and tobacco, snacks and drinks. Since mayor Georgios Kaminis took office in 2011 the number of kiosks in Athens has dwindled from 931 to 600; now the city plans to bring the existing number down by another third. But as these kiosks are often a neighbourhood mainstay – owners tend to know residents on a first-name basis – their value in keeping communities strong shouldn’t be underestimated. Once one is gone, it’s not likely to return.

Environment

Image: Getty Images

Drink the town dry

The Mexican capital’s water supply is taking a hard knock from soft drinks.

Cape Town has become the front line of climate change as the city fights to stave off the dreaded Day Zero when its water supply will run out. But while the South African city represents a worst-case scenario, it isn’t the only one that’s facing water shortages. Mexico City is experiencing its own strain on the mains and from a surprising source: soft-drinks manufacturers. Such is the thirst for sugary drinks that, according to recent findings from the Metropolitan Autonomous University, 16 large firms in the Mexican capital are consuming vast amounts of water and draining aquifers while paying the government a minimal price. One aquifer has already been exhausted. The solution? Mexico City needs to drop the pop – or at the very least hold companies more accountable.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Deep pockets

When will Japan rethink its political system to make inequality a problem of the past?

Running an election campaign is an expensive business in Japan and new figures show that women politicians, who currently make up just 10 per cent of the Lower House, are much less likely than their male counterparts to have the means to secure a win. When the Lower House revealed the assets that make up each of its 465 members’ personal wealth this week, the average for male politicians was ¥31m (€240,000) while for women it was significantly lower at ¥11m (€84,000). Looking at the most recent intake – those newly elected last year – the gap was even larger, with women’s assets running at ¥4.39m (€34,000) while their male colleagues declared assets of ¥25.19m (€192,000). While money isn’t the only hurdle preventing gender equality in politics – women so often have the additional responsibilities of looking after children and elderly relatives – it’s time for a serious rethink if Japan wants to see stronger female representation.

Food

Meat demands

With its appetite becoming tough to sate, Asia is looking to California to beef up its inventory.

Asia makes up 44 per cent of the world’s demand for meat and the region’s rate of consumption is growing faster than anywhere else. What’s the best way to satisfy this hankering? Fake it. So think Singapore-based Temasek Holdings and Shanghai and Hong Kong-based Sailing Capital who have just invested big in California start-up Impossible Foods, maker of plant-based burger patties. The two firms co-led the most recent round of funding, which closed at $114m (€93m) this week. From its not-so-humble debut on the menu of New York’s Momofuku in 2016 to appearing on more than 1,000 US restaurant menus today, the Impossible Burger’s rise is about to get meteoric as its first international expansion lands the patties on Asian plates later this year.

From Monocle 24

Emilia Terragni

Monocle on Design

We speak to the editor of Phaidon’s new title Living on Water, about the perils and promise of residential architecture near the waves.

From Monocle Films

Russia: state of the nation

The soft power of the world’s largest country has taken a hit of late. We look at Russia’s ups and downs in our animated nation survey.

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