Friday 30 October 2015 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 30/10/2015

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy

Tough talk

Iran is about to take a seat, albeit cautiously, in the international community. As talks in Vienna continue today to find a solution to the deadlock in Syria, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is flying in to pitch his country’s position on why President Bashar al-Assad needs to stay. It’s a test for how diplomatic Iran is feeling following the nuclear deal earlier this year. But there’s a similar test for Saudi Arabia here: there have already been suggestions that the Saudis may not even sit in on talks when Iran is present. Failure to bring all parties to the table on Syria has helped scupper such talks in the past; keeping regional rivalries out of the room will be a measure for how today’s meeting unfolds.

Image: Getty Images

Road blocked

While Jakarta Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama has labeled Go-Jek his “unwanted child”, the renegade transport app has proved useful in the fight against congestion. Jakarta must address its horrendous traffic problems if it wants to be considered a serious world city. The Go-Jek app service has become a force to be reckoned with, employing thousands of motorcycle drivers to run errands for citizens and provide short rides at the touch of a button. Go-Busway, its newly launched spin-off, allows Jakartans to time their ride to public-transport points. Instead of dismissing Go-Jek’s value, Ahok has challenged the private company to tackle the problem of empty trucks clogging the road. While Go-Busway offers commuters safe and reliable transport to Jakarta’s buses, Ahok must continue improving a network notorious for delays.

Image: Alamy

Air battle

Delta has announced it will be halting its Atlanta-Dubai service, blaming unfair competition from Gulf carriers for the change. The airline, which once operated daily flights on the route, said the Boeing 777 typically used for the flight will instead be “redeployed to other transatlantic markets where it can compete on a level playing field that’s not distorted by subsidised state-owned airlines”. Delta has been campaigning against the government subsidies it says Gulf carriers receive, alleging such funds are in violation of the Open Skies agreement. Now that the airline has gone beyond complaints could American Airlines and United Airlines, who have also protested the subsidies, follow suit?

Image: Getty Images

Chance for victory?

Everyone loves an underdog, especially when it comes to the Olympic Games. So when the International Olympic Committee announced to the UN General Assembly this week that refugees would be eligible to compete for the first time in Brazil next year, it seemed like an extraordinary opportunity. A handful of superstar athletes could go a long way in terms of changing the narrative following the 50 million refugees worldwide – at least temporarily. Sadly, the unstable conditions that create refugees in the first place aren’t likely to have nurtured athletes able to qualify for the Games, let alone make the podium.

Image: La Citta Vita

Cool balance

Several cities around the world are having difficulty in discovering what exactly young adults want from them. And for Washington, the balance between being powerful and cool can be challenging to manage at times.

Look sharp

From the historic centre of pencil-making to the world’s biggest trade fair, we profile Staedtler, the pioneering German stationery brand taking the pencil into the 21st century.


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