The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 21 May 2018

Image: ALAMY

Aviation

Students will help keep Toronto’s international airport ticking over this summer but could security be an issue?

If you’re heading through Toronto’s Pearson International Airport this summer, be prepared to see a lot more fresh, young faces. The airport is on track to hire 26 per cent more temporary student workers this summer, according to a statement from the office of Canada’s public safety minister Ralph Goodale. The boost is expected to help fill the gaps as permanent border and customs agents from the Greater Toronto Area are moved to Quebec border town St-Bernard de Lacolle to manage an expected surge in asylum seekers crossing the border from the US. (So far this year, more than 7,600 asylum seekers have been caught trying to do just this.) While the new summer staff is expected to help ease travel delays, the disappearance of many trained border agents raises questions about security in one of Canada’s busiest airports.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Close call

For politicians in isolated Taiwan getting too close to China can be career suicide.

Beijing is justifiably bashed for its rough treatment of Taiwan. It takes two to tango, however, and the island nation can be equally dogmatic. President Tsai Ing-wen’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party has decided to field its own candidate in the upcoming elections for mayor of Taipei in a move seen as punishing the outspoken incumbent Ko Wen-je; Ko won as an independent candidate in 2014 with the support of the DPP but the former surgeon has since been open to dialogue with Beijing. The decision comes days after former president Ma Ying-jeou of the opposition KMT was sentenced to prison for leaking sensitive information. According to the KMT the prosecution was politically motivated. Ma famously shook hands with Chinese president Xi Jinping on stage in Singapore before being voted out of office. An increasingly isolated Taiwan needs more politicians willing to find a middle ground with Beijing but cosying up to China can come at a high cost.

Society

Image: Getty Images

Cash-flow problem

With Japan’s elderly workforce struggling to manage shop cash registers, big retailers are banking on a new system.

For convenience stores in Japan, hiring seniors is not optional. About 12 per cent of the country’s labour force is 65 or older and every year seniors make up a growing share. But there’s a downside to hiring seniors who have never worked in retail: many struggle to manage the cash register. Convenience-store cash registers aren’t just for ringing up purchases; they have buttons for utility bills, taxes and package deliveries, as well as buttons to record every customer’s age and gender, which allows shops to keep track of who’s buying what and how often. Now 7-Eleven, FamilyMart and Lawson – the three biggest in the sector – are rolling out new computerised cash registers that are designed to be easier for seniors to operate. The machines have touch-screen displays and larger fonts and there are no physical buttons. There’s also no need for staff to calculate change: they just insert the bills and coins and the machines figure out everything else.

Urbanism

Image: ALAMY

Shrewd moove

Not content to let the grass grow beneath its feet, Rome’s city hall may hire livestock to help keep costs down.

With 44 million square meters of park space to take care of and few funds to invest in maintaining it, Rome’s city hall has started thinking of lateral approaches to the task of keeping overgrown grass at bay. After experimenting with flocks of sheep left to graze in the vast Caffarella Park, environment councillor Pinuccia Montanari has announced that she’s considering bringing cows from the countryside onto the city’s green patches. It may have been dubbed “farcical” by the city government’s opposition but the initiative is not without merit: other than being light on the municipal coffers, hiring a herd for this gardening job can afford residents a touch of nature and wildlife that they’d barely get a glimpse of within the confines of the city.

From Monocle 24

Fashion forward

The Stack

Fashion icon Anna Dello Russo, editor at large of Vogue Japan, tell us about her new book AdR Book: Beyond Fashion, published by Phaidon.

From Monocle Films

When in Rome

If you’re in the diplomatic game you could do worse than a posting in Rome, where you’ll probably be put up in a palazzo fit for a pope. Monocle pays a visit to the ambassadors of Brazil and France.

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