Wednesday 8 August 2018 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 8/8/2018

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


Cash injection

On Saturday Albania’s prime minister Edi Rama took to Facebook and – with evident gratification – announced that the country was to be granted a new airbase, courtesy of Nato. In the following days, the Alliance issued a short statement which seemed to confirm Rama’s claim, but with a caveat. It emerged that while Nato is due to spend €50m on updating an existing airbase near Kucove, the investment isn’t going to be quite the leap forward in air defence that Rama made it out to be. The money comes from the Alliance’s Security Investment Programme, which regularly injects defence resources into member states. While it is assumed that money for an airbase would normally go into fighter planes, pilot training and assorted hi-tech weaponry, in this case it is going toward what Nato refers to as an “infrastructure update” or, specifically, fuel storage. Rama’s reputation gets a shot in the arm and Nato gets a convenient place to refuel.

Image: Getty Images


Against the law

Five months of debate in Argentina have left the country divided on whether women should have the legal right to abortion. In a landmark vote today, the Senate will decide whether women will continue to be dictated to by entrenched religious norms or whether the country will join the ranks of progressive pro-choice nations. The success of the law change, however, is far from assured – one senator, Silvina García Larraburu, changed her mind over the weekend, tipping the balance back in favour of anti-abortion laws being kept in place. Whether the law is repealed or not, the fight to legalise abortions has lit a touch paper in the region. The supreme court in Brazil is also considering loosening its restrictive laws, giving hope to abortion-rights activists. Should Argentina motion to change the law, it would save the lives of countless women who currently are forced to undergo unsafe, illegal procedures, and send a powerful message to its neighbours in the region.


Read between the lines

Jeffrey Lewis is a leading scholar of North Korea at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey but he’s traded fact for fiction in his new book. The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States is, as the title suggests, a retrospective account of an imagined North Korean attack on the US. It is written from the perspective of Lewis as he unpicks the events that led up to the event. Scaremongering? Hardly, says John Everard, a long-serving diplomat whose postings include a stint in North Korea. “It’s an outcome that’s been seriously neglected and [Lewis] has done us all a favour,” he says. “I don’t go big on destiny but the unravelling of peace that we saw in 1914 and almost, say in the Cold War applies to North Korea now – we’re walking a tightrope and the book is sobering but well-founded.”

Image: Getty Images


Playing the long game

Ten years ago today, the Olympics opened in Beijing. As with any city preparing to host such a grand event, the Chinese capital took steps to prepare. Transport systems were updated, a clean-up operation took place and it even tried to curb some of its residents less seemly behaviour, with a €6 fine for people caught spitting on the street. But a decade on, are the impacts of these initiatives still visible in the city? The answer is mixed. Rail links have made it easier to travel and Beijing’s gleaming airports are a pleasure to arrive and depart from. However, levels of pollution still exceed the World Health Organisation’s annual average. The biggest threat to quality of life isn’t smog but the way the city treats its citizens. Rather than entering into a more diplomatic period post-2008 as hoped, Beijing has tightened censorship, scrapped presidential-term limits and eroded personal freedoms: Not a win in our book.

Image: Alamy

Domino Park

Monocle’s Ed Stocker takes us to the Williamsburg waterfront in New York, where a new space has just opened to the public.

Club scene

We visit the members’ clubs where foreign journalists find a home away from home (and a good supper) in Tokyo, Bangkok and Hong Kong.


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