Tuesday 1 August 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 1/8/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock

Opinion / Fernando Augusto Pacheco

Cities on fire

I have always wanted to see a city in my native Brazil featured in Monocle’s Quality of Life Survey – but if you look at last week’s report on violent crime by the Brazilian Forum of Public Security, you’ll understand why that’s still a pipe dream. In 2022 there were 47,508 murders in the country, a number that, though astonishingly high, was the lowest since 2011.

The latest report reveals some interesting shifts. With city centres becoming more gentrified, violence has migrated to the outskirts. My own state, São Paulo, now has the lowest number of homicides per capita in Brazil. Increased funding of law enforcement and better policing have forced drug gangs to move to smaller cities, such as those in the northeast of the country, which had the highest rates of violence last year. Improved technology in areas such as forensics and body cameras has also helped. Police brutality has decreased in São Paulo as a result: the state had 419 police killings last year – which, again, though stubbornly high, is a marked improvement on recent years.

Despite Brazil’s sunny image abroad, violence is a problem that cuts across society, politics and economics. When you suffer at its hands, it can leave trauma that lasts a lifetime. More than a decade ago, when I lived in Brazil, my mother and I were kidnapped at gunpoint and held for two hours. Every time I tell my friends from abroad about this, I see the shock on their faces; in Brazil people barely bat an eyelid. If a Brazilian city is ever to feature in Monocle’s Quality of Life Survey, the country’s politicians, police and people need an effective plan to combat urban violence.

Fernando Augusto Pacheco is a senior correspondent for Monocle Radio. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Shutterstock

Transport / Israel

Other side of the tracks

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has unveiled plans for a 100bn-shekel (€24.6bn) expansion of the country’s railway network. The project aims to bridge the gap between Israel’s outlying areas and metropolitan Tel Aviv, and potentially establish overland rail links with Saudi Arabia. The announcement follows a recent trip by top US officials to Riyadh exploring the possibility of establishing formal relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

According to Netanyahu, the primary goal of the rail expansion is to reduce travel times between the country’s business and government centres to two hours or less. It follows another weekend of protests against the prime minister’s controversial constitutional amendment, which has rocked Israel’s economy and shaken allies’ confidence in the country’s democratic health. Critics speculate that the timing of this proposal might be an attempt to divert attention from the political turmoil.

Image: Getty Images

Immigration / Indonesia

Passport check

Young Indonesians are increasingly renouncing their citizenship in order to become Singaporean. Between 2019 and 2022, almost 4,000 citizens, mostly aged between 25 and 35, ditched their passports in favour of Singaporean ones.

The reasons for this brain drain are hardly surprising: Singapore’s flourishing economy offers greater career opportunities and higher salaries (the average monthly income is €3,957, compared to Indonesia’s €260), while its powerful passport allows visa-free travel to 192 countries. As Jakarta forbids dual citizenship for adults over the age of 18, young, talented emigrants are having to make a difficult choice. The issue will likely play a part in Indonesia’s presidential election next year, when the country’s goal of becoming a developed nation by 2045 will come under renewed scrutiny.

Image: Getty Images

F&B / Switzerland

Cheesed off

Switzerland is renowned for its production of Alpine cheeses such as gruyère and emmental but recent closures of dairy farms have turned its home-grown industry sour. Despite Swiss cheese consumption reaching an all-time high in 2022, the liberalisation of milk and dairy markets has led to cheese imports exceeding exports for the first time in the country’s history.

The number of Swiss dairy farmers has more than halved in the past 25 years and the country’s cheese industry, valued at €752.7m, has experienced a domestic market share loss of 12 per cent. Swiss gastronomic identity is also being challenged outside of the country, with a US court ruling that the name gruyère can be attributed to cheese produced outside of the Gruyères region. Unless Switzerland can boost its dairy production, the industry could end up with more holes in its balance sheet than a wheel of emmental.

Image: MIFF

Culture / Australia

Projecting confidence

August promises to be a big month for Australia’s film industry as both new and established festivals return to the country. The Melbourne International Film Festival opens this Thursday with a programme featuring much-anticipated Australian debuts including Birdeater (pictured) by young directing duo Jack Clark and Jim Weir, and Isabel Darling’s The Carnival, a documentary about a family of funfair workers.

Other festivals taking place this month in Sydney include the Korean Film Festival in Australia and the Scandinavian Film Festival, which promises to be a treat for Nordic noir enthusiasts. Meanwhile, the new Sydney offshoot of US independent film festival South by Southwest arrives in October. For dog lovers, the Top Dog Film Festival, an ode to canine companions in cinema, will be touring the country this month too. Australia’s season of film is evidence of a healthy domestic industry and a rebuff to fears that rebates offered to Hollywood productions by Canberra would shift the spotlight from local talent.

Monocle Radio / The Concierge

Charleston, Taiwan and Basel

This week we speak to Ali Smith, general manager of the Pinch Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, and Clarissa Wei reports from the stunning northeastern coast of Taiwan. Plus: we explore the world of retail tourism, Jack Simpson speaks to us from Basel and our global correspondents answer your questions.

Monocle Films / Sport

Swimming in the Seine

As Paris embarks on a project to clean up the Seine ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games, we look at the process of readying the city’s river for its water-seeking dwellers, explore how it could affect the city and meet the guerilla urban swimmers who welcome the move.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00