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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 22 June 2018

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

At ease

First Trump, now Abe: Japan’s prime minister has got in on the act of dialling down military manoeuvres where North Korea is concerned.

Days after the US and South Korea announced that they would suspend their joint military drills scheduled for August, Japan has decided on a symbolic scaling-back of its own. For the next 10 months, Japanese officials will not hold evacuation exercises simulating a North Korean missile attack, reflecting the easing of tensions on the Korean peninsula. The government had been planning to hold drills in nine prefectures and the exercises were to involve municipalities, police and Self-Defense Forces personnel alerting the public and getting officials to safe facilities. Other defence measures, including US-Japan joint military war games, will not be affected. But the more conciliatory stance suggests that Tokyo is serious about setting up a face-to-face between Shinzo Abe and Kim Jong-un on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly gathering in September.

Society

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Service with more smiles

If you think gratuity is gratuitous, you’ll tip your hat to Washington’s efforts to banish the practice.

The time-honoured US tradition of tipping may be on the cusp of fading away in Washington. On Tuesday voters approved Initiative 77, which will raise the minimum wage for tipped workers in the city in an effort to do away with the sometimes divisive practice. Currently, the minimum wage in the capital is $12.50 (€10.70) but bartenders and waiters make $3.33 (€2.87), with the idea being that tips make up the rest. This is not the first time that anti-tipping measures have been introduced: restaurateur Danny Meyer outlawed it in his dining rooms in 2015, leading to a slew of resignations by some of his most seasoned front-of-house staff. Initiative 77 may fare better because it doesn’t stipulate that diners cannot tip but, rather, ensures that servers are paid a living wage before gratuity is brought into the equation. Will the death of American tip culture come alive in the capital?

Aviation

Image: Getty Images

Business class

Tourism won't be the only industry to benefit from the Thai capital’s airport upgrade.

Thailand, currently enjoying a tourism boom, will receive another international boost in the form of an upgrade to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. And it’s not just the tropical-holiday bolt-holes and the hotels of the capital that stand to gain from the improvements. If the state-owned airport spends the money smartly, it could help Bangkok muscle in on nearby Singapore’s title as Southeast Asia’s business hub. Though Singapore is much smaller, its success in attracting start-ups and multinationals alike is partly due to its world-class – and exquisitely efficient – Changi Airport. Suvarnabhumi, with its many global connections and speedy Skytrain service to Bangkok, has a decent set of bones from which to begin the overhaul. Construction should be complete in 2021 and we’ll be first in the arrivals line to see how well Bangkok has done in closing the quality gap between Southeast Asia’s air hubs.

Culture

Image: Getty Images

Making history

Australia looks to shed some light on its less-remembered histories with a new educational tool.

History, they say, is written by the victors – and is therefore often short on perspective. But a new resource for Australian teachers by ABC Education, the education arm of the national broadcaster, hopes to change that by chronicling the nation’s territories’ unique histories. The digital books and accompanying videos span subjects from immigration and climate to Aboriginal history, the arrival of the Europeans and what life was like for convicts, all collated with the help of cultural organisations such as the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Released this week, Tasmania’s online book is the first in a series that will include Hobart, Perth, Bendigo and Darwin, which creators hope will help compare and contrast differing experiences. As Australia continues its struggle with Aboriginal rights – it’s the only Commonwealth country that doesn’t have a treaty with indigenous populations – more comprehensive and coherent information can’t hurt, especially when it’s to be distributed to schools of young minds.

From Monocle 24

Resite 2018

The Urbanist

We report from the Resite conference in Prague and explore the theme: ‘accommodate’. From businesses, to homes and people: how should cities be planned to ensure there is enough space for everyone? Featuring Jeanne Gang, Sou Fujimoto, Elizabeth Streb and Dara Huang.

From Monocle Films

Monocle preview: July/August issue, 2018

The sun is shining and glasses are clinking so it must be time for our annual Quality of Life Survey. Once you've discovered (and debated) our rundown of the top 25 cities in the world, get the verdict on smart street furniture, making the perfect park and why you need a pair of Speedos. Dive in…

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