The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 30 April 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Cracks are showing

Council members are uneasy ahead of a rare – and potentially troublesome – political meeting in Ramallah.

Members of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) are due to gather today in Ramallah for their first meeting in almost 10 years. One of the main topics on the agenda will be the election of a new leadership, which could potentially pave the way for a successor to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. Yet the rare event is as likely to create division as it is to bring cohesion: more than 100 members have spent weeks calling for a halt to the meeting, arguing that travel restrictions in Israel will make it impossible for all members to attend. Some factions, including Hamas, had already called for a boycott of the meeting for the same reason. The PNC has ploughed ahead regardless, a move sure to deepen divisions among the already fractious factions.

Defence

Image: Getty Images

Shipping out?

Despite calls to keep it domestic, a lucrative shipbuilding contract may be about to sail away from the UK.

The UK's Ministry of Defence has caused a stir by revealing that it may award a contract to build three new ships to non-British companies. The £1bn (€1.1bn) order for a new fleet of solid support ships, which are needed to provide ammunition and food to the UK’s £6.3bn (€7.2bn) Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier and her crew, may go to companies from either the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, South Korea or Spain. UK trade union GMB has called for the order to be retained by British companies, citing research it conducted which shows that up to 6,700 jobs could be created or secured in the country – including 1,800 much needed shipyard jobs – if the order went to a domestic shipbuilder. Beyond this, a further 4,700 jobs could be secured in the wider supply chain, including in the steel industry.

Governance

Image: Reuters

Action heroes

Want to work as a high-level government pen-pusher in Russia? You’d best pack your parachute.

If you’re having to choose who to appoint as one of your government’s leading functionaries, how do you go about testing a person’s suitability for the role? In Putin’s case, the process may involve putting grenades in their hands or requesting they jump off a parachute tower. Those are just some of the activities included as part of a nine-month training course for prospective government leaders, which also saw 74 participants shoot automatic weapons and duck under armoured vehicles (as well as take part in slightly more conventional team-building activities and lectures). Designed to test endurance and courage just as much as their political talent, the training course – organised by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration – wrapped up this month. It seems to have cut the wheat from the chaff: seven hopefuls have just been appointed governors.

Fashion

Fighting fits

The Zozosuit should cut down on customer returns in the fashion industry. But will they try it on for size?

Returns are the bane of the e-commerce fashion industry. Quite simply, you never know how something will fit until you try it on. It’s no surprise, then, that Japanese digital-shopping company Start Today is ploughing investment into an invention that calculates customers’ exact measurements, which then enables retailers to send clothes that fit perfectly – and therefore need returning less often. The Zozosuit, the company’s sensor-equipped, body-hugging onesie, is now available for free and links to smartphones to take precise body measurements. Start Today plans to distribute between six and 10 million Zozosuits to customers globally in the hope that it will catch on. It’s success is uncertain, as long as customers have free returns they may be loathed to climb into a Zozosuit to get clothes that fit first time.

From Monocle 24

The chefs

The Big Interview

Ahead of the publication of Monocle’s inaugural ‘Drinking & Dining Directory’, we hear from some of the great chefs and restaurateurs who have featured on past episodes of ‘The Big Interview’. Join Tom Edwards for a tasty mix of insights from the likes of Massimo Bottura, Ruth Rogers, Bill Granger and Jeremy King.

From Monocle Films

Arresting architecture

We explore best practice in the design of prisons and see how modern thinking is forging innovative architecture with a human touch.

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