Thursday. 7/2/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: ALAMY

Environment

Must try harder

US lawmakers have given the Pentagon a ticking off for its lacklustre climate-change report.

To say the US government has a laissez-faire attitude to the environment would be an understatement. Earlier this week, Donald Trump flatly ignored the issue in his State of the Union speech and it’s by no means the first instance. The Pentagon has received a drilling for its latest – botched – climate-change report that, according to lawmakers in the House of Representatives, fails to meet legal requirements. In it, the Pentagon was asked to look at 79 US military bases and whether they are experiencing or likely to experience five natural phenomena (from flooding to droughts) and how those challenges could be met. The report simply isn’t thorough enough. Like chided schoolchildren, the authors must resubmit the document by 1 April. The report card thus far? Could do better.

Image: Getty Images

Politics

Riot act

As protests continue across France, the country’s lower house has passed a bill that could see violent demonstrators imprisoned.

France’s penchant for public demonstrations has been in forceful – and luminous – effect over the past 12 weeks as the gilets jaunes continue to gather at roundabouts and landmarks. Among the peaceful activists are some who think that the subject of economic injustice is an excuse for rioting. The number has grown to the degree that France’s lower house this week approved an “anti-rioting” bill, which would enable police to ban violent individuals from taking part in demonstrations without the oversight of a judge. Those who violate the ban could face a prison sentence and a fine of up to €15,000. Critics have argued that the bill is at odds with an individual’s right to protest: demonstrating against the government is a necessary component of democracy, even if looting and violence are not.

Image: Getty Images

Economy

Shop ’til you drop

With Chinese tourists spending less money in Japan, the government may have to rethink its enthusiastic sales target.

Bakugai is a Japanese word that translates as “explosive spending”. It entered common parlance in recent years to describe the shopping sprees undertaken by Chinese tourists as they descend upon major cities in Japan. And at this time of year – the Lunar New Year holiday break – such buying usually reaches its peak. But Japanese retailers are worried that the boom days are behind them. China’s economic slowdown and weaker consumer spending are having a knock-on effect and Japan’s five main department stores all recorded year-on-year decreases in their tax-free sales in January. While overall tourist spending hit a record ¥4.5trn (€36bn) in 2018, the Japanese government has a much more ambitious target: ¥8trn (€64bn) by 2020. It might need to lower its expectations.

Defence

Flown the coop

The Canadian air force finally has the green light to buy military drones – but they’re not going to make up for staff shortages.

For two decades, the Royal Canadian Air Force has tried unsuccessfully to make armed drones a permanent fixture of its military. But yesterday it had a breakthrough as Justin Trudeau’s government approved their purchase as part of his CA$62bn (€41bn) defence revamp. While the unmanned aerial vehicles will conduct surveillance and military missions, the government’s inability to secure a new crop of modern fighter jets has contributed to a shortage of pilots, navigators and mechanics, with many turning to commercial opportunities instead. Modernising hardware is sensible but the government must address its staffing shortages otherwise its ambitions for a remote-controlled air force will be grounded.

Ennismore

The Entrepreneurs

Sharan Pasricha knows every detail counts in the world of hospitality. And it’s why the founder and CEO of Ennismore pushes his team to constantly think outside the box in designing inspiring and creative social hubs. The hospitality firm owns The Hoxton hotel chain, a host of restaurants and bars, and has also breathed new life into historic Gleneagles in Scotland. All of Ennismore’s properties are unique – inspired by the neighbourhoods where they exist.

Nairobi: building better cities

Kenya’s Karura Forest offers not only respite from the bustling capital but also a sense of pride to its citizens.

To find out more about what makes a good city, discover our latest book release The Monocle Guide to Building Better Cities.

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