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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 1 November 2018

Legal

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More fool you

As global relations with North Korea thaw, today’s murder trial is a timely reminder not to underestimate the regime.

The trial of two women suspected of murdering Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean dictator’s half-brother, resumes in Malaysia today with the accused, Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong, due to testify. In February 2017, Kim – a perceived threat to his brother’s rule – died after being exposed to a nerve agent in Kuala Lumpur. “We’ve seen the pair doing the deed on CCTV but the Malaysian authorities let all the North Koreans who planned it get away,” says Aidan Foster-Carter, honorary senior research fellow at Leeds University. “Kim Jong-un took out his brother using a banned chemical substance in a public place, which suggests he cares nothing about international public opinion.” As global leaders attempt to bring North Korea in from the cold, the trial is an important reminder of the brutality of Kim’s regime.

Technology

Image: Getty Images

Culture shock

Siemens is set to open a Berlin base, reinforcing the city’s tech evolution – but not everyone’s glowing.

Siemens has decided on Berlin as the location of its new €600m innovation campus, a huge facility that will contain offices, laboratories, production floors and housing on the peripheries. The scheme is expected to create jobs and strengthen the city’s reputation as the best place for technology and manufacturing companies to set up shop. But for some, Berlin’s evolution as a gleaming new tech hub is in conflict with its reputation for gritty counterculture. Last week Google overturned its decision to open a campus in the edgy district of Kreuzberg after intense local resistance. As US cities fall over each other to play host to the next big technology HQ, expect a more measured response from European mayors.

Sport

Image: Getty Images

Running battle

Japan’s spending is on track for a personal best in the run up to the Olympic Games.

Olympic Games are rarely staged within budget but Tokyo appears to be going for a profligacy world record in the run-up to 2020. The Japanese government admitted this week that in spite of its commitment to contribute no more than ¥150bn (€1.2bn) to the games, it has already spent ¥172.5bn (€1.3bn) – and that’s not counting the ¥628.6bn (€4.9bn) already spent on new infrastructure. While the games are expected to boost Japan’s economy in the long term, in the short, Yoshitaka Sakurada, minister for the Tokyo Games, has a bit of explaining to do. Perhaps Sakurada ought to have taken some lessons from the past. In 1964 Japan held one of the cheapest games on record, spending just €249m.

Health

Image: Getty Images

Holy smoke

New Delhi’s residents can breathe a sigh of relief this Diwali as city officials take steps to reduce air pollution.

New Delhi has a serious air-pollution problem. During Diwali, the festival of light, it gets worse as the smoke from some thousand firecrackers hangs in the streets wreaking unseen damage to people’s lungs. But this year revellers can expect a healthier atmosphere as the city launches Clean Air Week to coincide with Diwali, during which time the letting off of firecrackers will be heavily regulated. It’s a significant step to improving air quality according to professor Frank Kelly, director of King’s College London’s Environmental Research Group: “The pollution particles released by fireworks are even more toxic than traffic pollution,” he says. “Subsequently firecrackers have been linked to a 30 per cent to 40 per cent increase in breathing problems across India.”

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

Monocle Reports: Is democracy in trouble?

Midori House

A special report on the state of democracy across Europe including how the financial crisis emboldened the far-right, Poland’s descent into illiberalism, Russia’s paranoia and why Mussolini still haunts Italy.

From Monocle Films

Arresting architecture

We explore best practice in the design of prisons and see how modern thinking is forging innovative architecture with a human touch.

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