Wednesday. 13/2/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Politics

Money talks

Spain’s Pedro Sánchez faces a fight to get his budget approved – and the fallout could be costly.

Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez faces the biggest challenge of his term today when parliament finally votes on his much-delayed budget, an ambitious rise in public spending to support a raft of social programmes. It’s not looking promising: his minority government depends on the support of Catalonian pro-independence parties but they might abandon him at any moment (particularly as a dozen former Catalan leaders are currently facing trial in Madrid). There are also concerns that the budget is unrealistic for a country with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 98 per cent and an unemployment rate of almost 15 per cent. If no agreement is reached, Sánchez will call a snap election – and Spain could see its third prime minister in less than a year.

Image: Alamy

Legal

Inconvenient truth

Singapore is considering revising its laws to protect it from online opinion-meddling.

The Singaporean government is worried about foreign powers spreading misinformation and running campaigns designed to swing opinion (and elections). Yesterday Edwin Tong, senior minister of state for law and health, announced that he would consider whether to update the country’s legal framework so it can respond quickly to such digital intrusions. But the problem lies not with falsehoods but the way truths are communicated, according to Carl Miller, research director at UK cross-party think-tank Demos. “Information warfare isn’t about lying, it’s about showing one set of information more frequently,” he told The Monocle Minute. “In the majority of cases, when you look post-per-post online, there is nothing to allow you to outlaw it – it’s all true.”

Image: Shutterstock

Politics

Trouble in paradise

Canada’s former attorney general has resigned from her post in the cabinet - and it could spell trouble for the PM.

The surprise resignation of Jody Wilson-Raybauld from Justin Trudeau’s cabinet yesterday has deepened a brewing crisis for the Canadian prime minister. It is claimed that last year Trudeau’s office directed Wilson-Raybauld, then Canada’s Attorney General, to engineer the legal process in favour of the Québec-based engineering group SNC-Lavalin, which stands accused of corruption and fraud by authorities in Libya. Trudeau has refuted the claims and has welcomed an official investigation. Wilson-Raybauld, who was demoted in a cabinet reshuffle last month, has so far refused to comment on the affair. Now she has quit, she may respond – and Canadians are waiting with baited breath.

Image: Getty Images

Food

Rising sum

Japanese food exports have broken records for the sixth year running – and it’s not just saké that’s whetting the appetite abroad.

Orders for Japanese cars and electronics might be coasting but a growing appreciation of the nation’s food is sparking a year-on-year export bonanza. According to new figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, sales of agricultural produce and seafood broke records for the sixth year running in 2018, with a total of ¥906bn (€7.3bn) of goods sold abroad. The foods doing well are distinctly premium: they include saké, beef and fine strawberries and apples. The surprise entry? Sales of Japanese eggs were up by about 50 per cent, owing to a surge in appreciation of hanjuku tamago (soft-boiled eggs) in Hong Kong: a cracking display of soft power.

Image: Felipe Tofani / Flickr

Turku

The Menu: Food neighbourhoods

With its young adventurous chefs and great produce from the surrounding countryside, Finland’s oldest city and former capital, Turku, has become one of the Nordic nation’s food-and-drink hotspots. Our guide is Monocle’s Petri Burtsov.

Monocle Films / Sweden

Stockholm: The Monocle Travel Guide Series

Set in a glittering archipelago, Stockholm is one of our favourite summer getaways. Monocle's travel guide will help you locate Stockholm’s best hotels and most delectable restaurants, and show you what else to discover tucked away from the Swedish capital’s charming waterfront. Published by Gestalten, The Monocle Travel Guide to Stockholm is available now at The Monocle Shop.

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