The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 4 January 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Utah saint?

US politicians on both sides are betting on Mitt Romney – an outspoken critic of Donald Trump – to run for state senator.

The decision of 83-year-old US senator Orrin Hatch not to run for re-election in Utah later this year has created an intriguing prospect: the two-time Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been tipped as the top potential contender for the soon-to-be-vacant seat. If he did decide to run, the former governor of Massachusetts would be likely to win and would surely then make life tough for president Donald Trump, of whom he has long been a staunch critic. It is perhaps a symbol of the desperation of Trump critics on both sides of the political spectrum that Romney is already being held up as a saviour of sorts. But it is also a sign of the parlous state of US politics that a bold and independent voice has become such a rare and precious commodity.

Governance

Image: Getty Images

Marching orders

Iran’s regime has responded to the country’s civil unrest with its own state-run spectacle.

After waves of anti-government protests in Iran – which led to more than 20 deaths and hundreds of arrests – yesterday saw pro-regime demonstrations take place across the country. Sponsored by the state, the marches were meant to display the government’s popularity. Yet the staged rallies won’t mask the discontent felt by the tens of thousands of protesters who’ve stormed the country over the past week – many of them young and facing high rates of unemployment along with a struggling economy. The unrest has also put pressure on world leaders over how they should respond: unlike Donald Trump’s rush to condemn the Iranian government, European leaders such as French president Emmanuel Macron have been more restrained. Macron spoke to Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday to urge him to be careful, while France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has cancelled his long-planned trip to Tehran, which was meant to begin on Friday.

Arts

Image: Getty Images

Old master

An Italian city is reviving the past to preserve the country’s artistic future.

Italy has struggled to preserve its artistic heritage in the past but the relaunch of one of the country’s best institutes (and schools) of restoration is a welcome development. Florence’s Opificio delle Pietre Dure – or Workshop of Semi-Precious Stones – owes its old-fashioned name to the fact that its original iteration was launched in 1588 by the aristocratic Medici family. Nowadays the school deals in all kinds of art – including contemporary – and not just jewellery. Until three years ago, personnel numbers were declining as new generations failed to take up the task; however, philanthropic organisation Fondazione CR Firenze stepped in and is planning to set up a foundation by the end of January to recruit young hires. It’s good news for the artistic treasures and skills that will be preserved.

Aviation

Image: Getty Images

Screening process

An increasing number of airlines are doing without in-flight entertainment consoles – but is it an example of blue-sky thinking or clouded judgment?

American carriers have gone decidedly lukewarm on in-flight entertainment screens on the back of seats. And if you’ve ever experienced the often-bulky technology slamming into your limbs as the person in front of you reclines, you’ll concede that these companies may have a point. Indeed, take a short-haul flight with the likes of American Airlines or United and you’ll see that they’ve already started to phase out the screens in favour of streaming services that can be accessed from personal mobile devices; Hawaiian Airlines is going down the same route on its new A321 aircraft. But it’s also about maximising profits, something that many US airlines have been pursuing while shortchanging customers on service and convenience. If you’re paying $400 (€320) for a very short flight, you should be getting more bang for your buck – screen or otherwise.

From Monocle 24

Rain crowd

The Tech 10

Find out how a remote Norwegian clothing-maker manages to cover a global market. Alexander Helle and T-Michael’s trademark raincoats are designed to keep the rain out, using technically advanced fabrics to push the brand forward.

From Monocle Films

Monocle x A. Lange & Söhne

Monocle Films has partnered with A. Lange & Söhne to uncover the mystery of how to create a sublime timepiece that will last for generations. We delve into the world of horology to see exactly how the masters do it.

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