The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 30 November 2018

Politics

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Go west

Georgia’s first female president is keen to challenge her country’s mindset and move society forward.

Georgia’s former foreign minister has been elected as the country’s first female president. It was announced yesterday that Salome Zurabishvili had won Wednesday’s election with 59.6 per cent of the vote, and will serve until 2024. She’ll also be Georgia’s last elected president, as the country will switch to a parliamentary system by the next time a president is chosen. The French-born former diplomat ran as an independent but was backed by the ruling Georgian Dream, a party founded by the country’s richest man: banker Bidzina Ivanishvili. “Now the goal in Georgia is to change the mentality and to finally move into western 21st-century society,” Zurabishvili told Monocle. “For a woman president – and for a European president – the task will be very challenging, and that has more to do with society’s expectations than democratic systems.”

F&B

Image: Alamy

Measure for measure

Japanese drinks firm Kirin has called time on its popular whiskey – so get hold of a dram while you can.

Six months ago, Japanese drinks giant Suntory shocked the whiskey world with its decision to halt sales of its Hakushu 12-year-old single malt and Hibiki 17-year-old blend. Now another big name is following suit: Kirin will discontinue its cask-aged blend, Fuji-sanroku Tarujuku 50, in March. The company has struggled to keep up with demand for a product with double-digit annual sales growth, even with the company’s Gotemba distillery at the foot of Mount Fuji operating at full tilt. The runaway global popularity of Japanese whiskey partly explains Kirin’s decision but it’s also because consumers in Japan are drinking more highballs than they have for decades. Kirin is considering building a new distillery but, for the next four months, expect a mad dash to pick up the last bottles of this grain-and-malt-spirit blend.

Defence

Image: Getty Images

Out in force

Russia’s intention to boost its military strength in Crimea could have a wider impact on regional trade.

Following the Russia-Ukraine altercation in the Sea of Azov, and as Nato tries to deal with the finger-pointing, Russia is bulking up its defences in Crimea. Yesterday a Crimean security official stated that Russia will install a missile early-warning radar station; this is in addition to a battalion of S-400 surface-to-air missiles, announced by Moscow the day before. “There is going to be a lot more military activity in the Black Sea region, both western and Russian, and that contains dangers,” says Russia expert and former Moscow correspondent Mary Dejevsky. The fallout could affect the whole region because military stand-offs could disrupt maritime trade.

Music

Image: Alamy

Stirring it up

Unesco has decided that reggae hits all the right notes in granting it World Heritage status. A sound decision?

Reggae fans across the world cried “Irie!” this week as the Jamaican genre of music was inscribed onto Unesco’s World Heritage list. It was decided that reggae would join the ranks of other intangible traditions, including flamenco, Mongolian knuckle-bone shooting and yoga. The accolade recognises the music “as a vehicle of social commentary” says Unesco, which now pledges to protects it for future generations. However, it's unclear how. Amid the celebration, one wonders what more the largely symbolic award can add. Reggae artists such as Bob Marley and Toots and the Maytals have earned some of the most well-respected accolades the industry can offer; surely Unesco’s efforts are better spent protecting real heritage at we risk losing forever.

From Monocle 24

Image: Das Programm

Brains and Braun

On Design Extra

London-based research project Das Programm focuses on the industrial-design legacy of Dieter Rams and Frankfurt-based firm Braun. Here Das Programm director Dr Peter Kapos talks about the enduring influence of both.

From Monocle Films

Urban provocations

Monocle’s second Quality of Life Conference kicked off in Vienna with a set of urban provocations. Here are our top 10 city fixes.

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