The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 29 June 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Missing the target

Angela Merkel is desperate for a good result, which means inspiration is going to have to come from somewhere other than her nation’s football team.

It has been a trying week for Germany. Not only was its team eliminated in the group stages of the World Cup but now chancellor Angela Merkel might be about to crash out of government in a similar fashion. Meanwhile she’s attending the EU summit that began yesterday and was originally envisaged as an opportunity to discuss ways for the eurozone to better withstand economic instability. But this agenda would have been more fit for the (comparatively halcyon) days when such instability was the worst of its problems. Yesterday it became all the more apparent that an EU-wide stance on immigration is even less likely than a coherent plan for Brexit from UK prime minister Theresa May. With so many discordant voices, some are gleefully questioning the EU’s efficacy in resolving its issues. Merkel needs to soldier on in extra time and if a pan-European solution isn’t possible, she might be able to scrape through with an assist from France’s Emmanuel Macron.

Hospitality

Image: ALAMY

Welcome speech

The Monocle Quality of Life Conference is in full swing, having begun yesterday with a special panel inspired by our new book.

What do guests want from hotel stays? How do hoteliers retain a faithful clientele when shiny new options are popping up every day? The Monocle Quality of Life Conference kicked off yesterday with a hospitality panel tied to the launch of our new book, The Monocle Guide to Hotels, Inns & Hideaways. The panel centred around the need to offer customers intimate, face-to-face service in an increasingly digital world. “What differentiates our hotel is the employees,” said Richard Leuenberger, general manager at Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St Moritz. “People are looking for different experiences because there are so many hotels doing the same thing. The service of our concierge is much more important to us today than it was 20 years ago because it is part of the experience we offer.” Read more from the conference on tomorrow’s Monocle Minute and tune in to Monocle 24 today to hear live discussions.

Sport

Image: Getty Images

Sayonara, sumo?

Sumo wrestling, so long a source of great pride and tradition in Japan, is showing signs of losing the fight against modern tastes.

Young sumo wrestlers with their eye on competing in the big leagues, so to speak, take part in a qualifying process known as shindeshi kensa (apprentice exam), held before each of the six major annual tournaments. Aspiring sumos must be male, taller than 1.67 metres, heavier than 67kg and aged between 15 and 22. Most importantly, they are tested in a number of ways to ensure that their rotundity in no way compromises their athleticism. But it appears that the country is running out of people who wish to grapple with well-upholstered adversaries for money. The Japan Sumo Association decided to cancel the exam ahead of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament because nobody applied. Officials say that the decline is down to a shrinking Sumo talent pool but it is just as likely that young Japanese are turned off by the sport’s fusty image and discriminatory ban on women entering the ring. And, possibly, the loin cloths.

Culture

Image: ALAMY

Public engagement

The Serbian National Museum has been closed for so long that it’s almost become a relic in itself – but now it’s ready to exhibit its wares again.

The last 15 years has been an exercise in patience for those wishing to visit the Serbian National Museum in Belgrade. One of the nation’s largest art institutions, it closed its doors for a routine refurb in 2003 but, until yesterday, hadn’t opened again since. In fact, after years of bureaucratic setbacks and financial hurdles, it seemed as though it would never open again. Thankfully the cycle of neglect was broken by ex-cultural minister Ivan Tasovac back in 2016, who prioritised funding the capital’s cultural institutions as a means of revitalising the national image. With a newfound sense of peace, security and political stability in the country, it seems as though the Serbian art scene is set for a period of stirring revitalisation.

From Monocle 24

Zürich special

A special edition of the show as we broadcast from our new bureau in the city. Reports include a closer look at the lake, Zürich’s relationship with noise and why you should venture to the northern reaches of the city.

From Monocle Films

Designing the news

How do you unpack stories in the most engaging way while building a credible and comprehensive brand? Monocle Films showcases best design for paper and screen too.

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