The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 25 September 2018

Politics

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Eyes on the prize

Barcelona is due to get a new mayor – could it be France’s former PM Manuel Valls?

Former French prime minister Manuel Valls could be making a return to the political stage – in Spain. Valls is due to hold a press conference today to announce whether he will indeed be running for mayor of Barcelona, a move he’s been teasing for months. The Catalan-born politician, who holds French and Spanish citizenship, has staunchly opposed the region’s secession movement. Whether or not the May election proves the place for Valls’ political comeback, the race is sure to be a contentious one: since incumbent Ada Colau won in 2015, Barcelona has grappled with a terrorist attack, a chaotic secessionist vote and a growing hostility to tourism. Some will be keen for change but whether that will drive them toward Valls is far from certain.

International relations

Image: Shutterstock

New friends, old foes

With US-Cuba relations on the blink, Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel will be focusing on making new allies at the UN.

World leaders are due to gather in New York today for the UN General Assembly’s general debate. Amid the cluster of prime ministers and presidents there is one making his debut on the world stage: Cuba’s Miguel Díaz-Canel, who arrived on Sunday for his first official trip to the US. The General Assembly takes place amid worsening relations between the US and its old Cold War adversary. With the US economic blockade still firmly in place, Díaz-Canel will be looking to make new friends in New York. “Díaz-Canel knows that he isn’t going to get any kind of easing of the US line,” Scott Lucas, professor of American studies at the University of Birmingham tells The Briefing. “He will be talking to other states to try and forge new economic and political links.” Whether many will be keen to invoke the ire of the US president by dealing with Cuba, is another matter.

Fashion

Image: Getty Images

The break-up

With Michael Kors set to become Versace’s parent company, family fashion houses are becoming a rare sight.

The fashion pack may be in Paris for the womenswear shows but everyone is talking about Milan. Specifically, the impending sale of Versace to Michael Kors Holdings for about €1.7bn, expected to be made official today. The US group, which currently owns Jimmy Choo and its eponymous brand, is attempting to build a luxury conglomerate to rival European behemoths LVMH, Kering and Richemont. Versace presents a good purchase: after several tough years the Italian label has regained some of its lustre, with increased popularity amid Asian customers and exuberant shows featuring 1990s supermodels. Currently majority-owned by the Versace family, it is also one of Europe’s last independent houses. The luxury-fashion landscape is dominated by conglomerates and it seems there’s a new US contender.

Urbanism

Image: Getty Images

Walk on water

Copenhagen’s residents should be on cloud nine after designers invented a pavement that also waters the plants.

How to adapt our cities to better cope with unpredictable weather has shifted up the list of priorities for urbanists in recent years. One of the latest ideas comes from Copenhagen: officials in the Nørrebro neighbourhood have installed a 50-metre experimental stretch of perforated pavement that distributes excess water to nearby plants (any surplus is stored until it evaporates). The ‘Climate Tile’, as it’s known, has been created by Danish urban-design studio Third Nature and will be unveiled on Thursday. The nifty creation has a 50-year lifespan and can also be used for roofing, where it redirects rainwater to storage tanks. This isn’t a miraculous solution for climate change but it’s a step in the right direction and sure to get other ideas flowing.

From Monocle 24

Image: Shutterstock

Autonomous weapons and the future of war

The Foreign Desk

Advances in military technology pose profound questions of morality and law – as well as opportunity on the battlefield. But what happens when (and the time is not far off) weapons can think for themselves? Andrew Mueller is joined by former fighter pilot Missy Cummings, philosopher of technology Peter Asaro and former US General John R Allen.

From Monocle Films

Made in Vienna

Craftsmanship has been at the beating heart of Vienna for hundreds of years; Monocle Films visits three family-run companies that have made tradition relevant.

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