North Korea has called off talks scheduled for today with its Southern neighbour, citing joint military exercises between South Korea and the US as its reason for cancelling. The furore throws into doubt the calm running of relations with North Korea in the long road to its denuclearisation. Things seemed to be going so well: if recently released satellite images are to be believed, its nuclear disarmament is already in progress. The images show that the North’s test installation Punggye-ri is being demolished, although some are questioning whether the move was ushered in by the collapse of a tunnel rather than any sudden diplomatic impulse from Kim Jong-un. While members of the press have been invited to watch as the test site is dismantled further, disarmament experts and nuclear scientists have not. For cynics, this might not bode well, and the most recent hiccup in relations shows how easy it might be for all parties to revert to sabre rattling.
It’s official: there are no longer plenty of fish in the sea. Overfishing has endangered 80 per cent of global fish stocks and it’s estimated that the fishing industry could collapse by 2048. For those repulsed by the meat industry, switching to a pescatarian diet used to feel like the moral high ground – but not anymore. So, now that we also need an ethical alternative to fish, California-based chef James Corwell has created Ahimi, a tuna alternative made from tomato, soy sauce, sugar, water and sesame oil. While the product is already available in some US retailers, Corwell has teamed up with Tokyo-based food wholesaler Nishimoto to expand into Europe, Japan and Southeast Asia.
The scramble for the so-called green dollar among Canada’s marijuana production firms continues apace. On Monday, the world’s largest marijuana producer was formed when Aurora Cannabis, which is headquartered in Vancouver, bought medical-marijuana firm MedReleaf for about CA$3bn (€2bn) in stock. The acquisition is the latest in a string of manoeuvres in Canada’s cannabis economy ahead of new legislation that could legalise the drug on 1 July – Canada’s national holiday. Whatever side of the decriminalisation debate you stand on, Ottawa’s actions may well provide a template for other countries that are contemplating their own paths to going green.
The machinations of the Middle East are in the headlines as fears grow about how the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem will play out. Meanwhile the Syrian situation continues to cause concern following Israel’s bombing of Iranian military positions. Yet on a research trip to Beirut last week, Monocle was told more than once about a different story unfolding in Damascus. It might seem like a trivial development in comparison to the above but various architects and designers revealed that they were working on new commissions for grand villas in the city. It means that the road between the two cities is now busy with drivers carrying nothing more contentious than swatches of fabric and paint samples. It suggests that Damascenes are fully convinced that their futures are settled and that Assad’s regime is here to stay. A decorating index, it turns out, is a precise reflection of a city’s confidence.
Want more stories like these in your inbox?
Sign up to Monocle’s email newsletters to stay on top of news and opinion, plus the latest from the magazine, radio, film and shop.