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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 16 July 2018

Soft power

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Le Grand Re-boot

France should build on the momentum of its World Cup win to champion its business, culture and soft power.

Analysts might have been talking about France’s new ‘moment’ in the lead up to Emmanuel Macron’s leadership victory last year, but Sunday night’s World Cup final win over Croatia gave new meaning to the concept of ‘le grand re-boot’. Never mind the fact that French boots succeeded in giving the Republic a fitting end to the Bastille Day weekend, French boots on the ground are also playing a key role in policing the Africa’s Sahel region. Beyond this, footwear brands of the ‘Made in France’ variety are experiencing a much-deserved revival among select shops in Tokyo, Seoul and Los Angeles.

France’s victory should give a healthy boost to the nation’s retail sales in the run-up to the August break. During which time, French companies should seize on the resulting momentum and goodwill to push a confident and Euro-centric agenda – and detract from the litany of faux-pas committed during Trump’s visit. The Élysée Palace should take the opportunity to push a bold programme emphasising France’s creative and cultural businesses - industrial design, textiles, architecture, fashion, and much more. If the Palace asked us, we’d suggest the following as brands that could use a spot of international air time:

  1. Have hot songstress ‘Christine and the Queens’ headline the World Cup victory parade, which would also serve as the opening date for a multi-city world tour.

  2. Speaking of songs. The world could also use some more Radio Nova. Tune in.

  3. How about re-casting Arles as Europe’s new year-round creative retreat and get companies large and small to pitch-up and invest?

  4. Air France is a good airline that needs a proper solution. Chronic labour issues aside, it really is an airline that understands premium.

  5. More people should be wearing sensible Oxfords from Paraboot as less clement weather descends upon Northern Europe in September. ‘Made in France’ footwear needs a champion.

  6. Ditto for French crystal, ceramics and linens. These product categories showcase the best in Gallic craft, but they need some support from Paris.

  7. Doesn't France need to come up with a few cars that would be enjoyable to drive around the Med in August? There’s no excuse for such a poor line-up of vehicles from the country's big brands.

  8. De Bonne Facture - a fashion label that’s worthy of a medal. It's a sharp, modern and relevant expression of modern France.

  9. The same can be said for Arpenteur of Lyon.

  10. Lafuma outdoor furniture. Every sophisticated picnic needs comfy, collapsible chairs.

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

Oh behave

After much build-up, Trump and Putin meet today; the world – and Europe’s security analysts in particular – will be watching closely.

The last destination on US president Donald Trump’s charm offensive sees him arrive in Helsinki today for a much-anticipated sit down with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. After his largely acrimonious excursion to Brussels and the UK, this is one meeting at which he is expected to behave himself: never mind difficult questions of US election-meddling, Syria, or even scaling down the nations’ nuclear arsenals. In the lead-up to the meeting, there has been an alarming uptick in Russia’s defence activity around Europe. Specifically, its mock invasion in Gogland, a Russia-controlled portion of the Gulf of Finland. While the two strongmen have expressed a fascination with one another in recent years, the meeting is unlikely to yield any concrete results. Europeans have the most to risk should the get-together turn sour.

Infrastructure

Image: Getty Images

Calm before the storm

Japan wants to come up with a consistent disaster response across the entire country – but it will have to deal with local resistance first.

The flooding that has devastated vast swathes of western Japan in recent weeks has raised concerns over how vulnerable Tokyo itself would be if a major storm were to hit the city. The government believes that near 3.95 million people across the city would have to be evacuated in the event of a major typhoon. But there are too many unanswered questions: where would evacuees go? How would they get there? Who would co-ordinate the effort? A special council of officials from central and city governments plans to draw up a contingency plan in the next two years, with the aim of safeguarding citizens across the country. However, first they’ll have to negotiate the existing model of decentralised disaster-planning, whereby every district, city and town is in charge of looking after its own constituents. Expect clouds on the horizon.

Mobility

Image: Getty Images

Positive charge

Sparks were flying when we got a world-renowned scientist and a Formula 1 champion to discuss the future of mobility.

What happens when a Formula 1 world champion sits down to talk mobility with one of the greatest scientific minds of the 21st century? M24 found out when it arranged an interview between F1 driver Nico Rosberg and Donald Sadoway, professor of electrochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The pair examined high-velocity topics such as the evolution of batteries, how tax laws ought to be relaxed to spark innovation that’s less commercially driven and how AI will transform the way we get from A to B. Crucially, the pair explored just how far lithium ion chemistry will go in improving society. “The internal combustion engine has been around for more than 100 years, it is the product of so many improvements, so much research,” said Sadoway. “To compare that to a technology that is in its comparative infancy is unfair on some levels. The future is electric.” For more insights on the future of mobility, listen to the full interview on The Bulletin with UBS.

From Monocle 24

The return of ‘L’Uomo Vogue’

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From Monocle Films

Porto Revival

Monocle visits Porto to learn how one city leader is determined to stop gentrification destroying his home.

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