The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 1 October 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Vote of conscience

Right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro is polling well but Brazil’s rational thinkers still have the power to block his presidential bid.

Brazil’s women took to the streets at the weekend to protest against Jair Bolsonaro’s attempt to become the country’s next president. The far-right leader hasn’t exactly been a supporter of women’s rights, with his headline-grabbing attempts to justify the gender pay gap and telling his leftist opponent: “I won’t rape you because you don’t deserve it.” As if his misogyny wasn’t bad enough, he has also sought to denigrate Brazil’s gay, black and indigenous people. And yet Bolsonaro is still riding high in the polls – seemingly bolstered by his recent stabbing at a campaign rally – and has enjoyed widespread media coverage ahead of this month’s vote. When citizens head to the polls on 7 October women will play a major part in deciding whether Brazil takes a step back or forward.

Military

Image: Getty Images

Bang for your buck

The US’s attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan will reassure other jet buyers – but not everyone will be so easily pleased.

On a pro rata basis, the bomb dropped by an American aircraft on a Taliban position in Afghanistan late last week may have been the most expensive explosive ever delivered. It was the first combat action by a Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – the controversial fifth-generation jet that has so far cost upwards of $400bn (€345bn), comfortably the priciest weapons programme in military history. The aircraft involved was an F-35B, the variant capable of vertical landing, and passing this recent test will be a relief to customers that include Australia, Denmark, Italy, Japan and Israel. However, it may not silence its critics. On Monocle 24’s The Foreign Desk, former US navy fighter pilot Missy Cummings, now professor of mechanical engineering at Duke University, described the F-35 as, “a ridiculous aircraft that should never have been built”.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Off season

Why are so many people leaving New York? The governor’s decided it’s got more to do with winter than discontent.

If in doubt, blame it on the weather. That’s how New York governor Andrew Cuomo has reacted to recent figures that show a million people have departed the Empire State since 2010. Instead of blaming issues such as the economy and taxes, Cuomo has gone after the inclement winters as the reason that residents are choosing to decamp to the booming cities in the south and the Big Apple’s sun-dappled nemesis, Los Angeles, among other hubs. Surprisingly, the only state to see more of a population reduction in the same period is Alaska (which, if you think New York winters are cold, you’d do well to avoid), while third place went to the midwestern state of Illinois. Cuomo has good reason to blame factors out of his control, of course: he’s running for a third term as Democratic governor in the midterms on 6 November.

Infrastructure

Image: Alamy

Get in lane

Cycling in Seattle may have dropped recently but the city knows how to get commuters back in the saddle.

Despite Seattle’s efforts to get residents on two wheels, new census data has revealed that in 2017 commuting by bike fell to its lowest level in a decade, with just 2.8 per cent of commuters heading to work on a bicycle. It’s a notable drop from the 4 per cent seen in 2015 and safety is likely to be at the heart of the city’s stagnating ridership. With a surge in construction projects and gridlocked traffic, cyclists feel unsafe without a sufficient network of bike lanes (such as in Vancouver, which has the highest number of cycling commuters on the continent). All is not lost for Seattle though: the well-received Second Avenue protected bike-lane expansion is proof that infrastructure may have the answer.

From Monocle 24

Lusophone special

The Stack

We speak to Julius Wiedemann from Taschen and visit the offices of Lisbon-based ‘Umbigo’. Plus: we meet the team of new travel title ‘Fields & Stations’.

From Monocle Films

Bean and gone: Tokyo cafés

Look past the dominance of the big chains in Tokyo and you will find a world of fiercely independent coffee shops. Monocle’s Fiona Wilson pays tribute.

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