Tuesday 28 August 2018 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 28/8/2018

The Monocle Minute

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Pas de problème

Emmanuel Macron will become the first French president in decades to make a state visit to Denmark when he touches down in Copenhagen today. It certainly doesn’t happen very often – long-serving Danish queen Margrethe II has only entertained François Mitterrand since she assumed the throne almost half a century ago. But these are strange times for Macron. He has domestic problems aplenty and wants to put on a united front ahead of crunch Brexit negotiations in the coming months; he also knows that politicians in Copenhagen are equally concerned about the populist surge that is blighting much of Europe. His two-day visit precedes meetings in Finland and Luxembourg before he hosts his German counterpart, Angela Merkel, at the Élysée Palace. Time to turn on the Gallic charm, then.

Image: Getty Images


Watch this space

He didn’t exactly snatch at the chance when first given it but tomorrow, incumbent governor of New York Andrew Cuomo will engage in a television debate with his Democratic primary adversary Cynthia Nixon. The debate takes place ahead of the vote to determine the party’s candidate on 13 September. On paper it would seem that Cuomo has little to be concerned about; indeed, according to one poll he has a gargantuan 36-point lead over Nixon. However, Nixon has been challenging Cuomo on some of his liberal credentials and leveraging the residual fame she enjoys from her former role as Miranda in Sex and the City. While most pundits expect Cuomo to coast to victory, a familiar pattern is emerging in US politics: namely, an outsider candidate (read political novice-cum-TV-celebrity) unseating a member of the old guard.

Image: Getty Images


Road to ruin?

Crossing from Hong Kong into Guangdong province by car used to be a privilege. Motorists would pay as much as HK$1m (€110,000) for a special number plate with two sets of number on it – in most cases making it more of a status symbol than the car it was stuck to. But now Beijing is set to loosen its policy, allowing drivers to buy one-off permits at a price that the Chinese National Congress describes as “affordable”. The move does not come merely in the spirit of openness: it is part of a greater ploy by the Chinese politburo to integrate Hong Kong and its peripheral cities as one megalopolis that will come to be known as the Greater Bay Area. Planned infrastructure efforts such as the Kowloon high-speed rail terminal and the 55km-long bridge connecting Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai also feed into the vision. While travellers and business owners will benefit, some are concerned as to whether this could come to threaten Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Image: Getty Images


Human error

Killer robots and artificially intelligent weapons have evolved from a distant sci-fi nightmare to being one of the most immediate concerns for our civilisation. Luminary figures from Elon Musk to the late Stephen Hawking have warned that the rapid advancement of AI and its associated defence technologies present a dire threat to humanity. While some fear that autonomous weapons – machines that are able to recognise and eliminate targets without human intervention – are inevitable, how can governments work together to slow their proliferation? Yesterday delegates from 75 countries gathered in Geneva for a week-long UN summit to find an answer to this question. While many nations are morally opposed to the advancement of autonomous weapons, some are alarmingly reluctant to rule them out. During the last round of UN talks, it emerged that the US, UK, France, Israel, Russia and South Korea were all opposed to a ban. There is work to be done to put the brakes on one of the most concerning developments of our time.


We look at a new book about the best newspaper design from the world’s best newsrooms, plus ‘Dennik N’, a successful Slovak daily and the Monocle team’s favourite papers.

Taste of Tuscany

With the historic estate of Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco as a base, food writer Emiko Davies sets out on a quest for delicious recipes with strong historic roots. From a cheese farm to a contemporary-art gallery, together we explore what this inspiring Italian region has to offer.


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