The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 5 November 2018

Politics

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Midterm madness

That bellwether for US politics is rolling around again. As Trump turns up the heat, will his fingers get burned?

The US heads to the polls tomorrow for midterm elections covering all House of Representative seats, more than a third of Senate seats and dozens of gubernatorial and municipal roles too. Like most midterms in the US, analysts will treat the outcome of this vote as a referendum on the president’s popularity, which Donald Trump knows all too well. He has ratcheted up what Republican commentator Charlie Sykes calls his “scorched earth” strategy in Monocle’s October issue by stoking fears over immigration. Could it give Republicans a boost at the ballot box? According to Sykes and other commentators, the Democrats are likely to win a majority in the House, with the GOP retaining control of the Senate. For more coverage of the midterms, stay tuned to Monocle 24.

Trade

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Call to arms

The UK’s materiel deal with China will be a welcome boost to its post-Brexit economy but could cause problems elsewhere.

There’s some good news for Brits who are concerned that their economy might suffer after the UK leaves the EU in March: China appears keen to buy British-made defence equipment. It has emerged that prime minister Theresa May cut a deal during her April visit to Beijing that will enable UK companies to provide the People’s Liberation Army Air Force with radar technology, as well as kit for aircraft, helicopters and drones. The timing of the deal is key: it’s due to happen after the Brexit deadline, which means that the EU’s embargo on supplying arms to China will no longer apply to the UK. Although it’s unlikely that selling military kit to the PLA will win May many fans in Europe or Washington, neither of whom will rejoice in a key ally supplementing China’s military might.

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

Feeling the pinch

Will new sanctions on Iran punish the rest of the world too?

US sanctions on Iranian oil exports and financial transactions come into effect today, which follows Donald Trump’s decision to tear up a landmark nuclear accord with the Middle Eastern nation earlier this year. As a consequence, the White House has warned its friends not to do business with Iran but some of Trump’s key Asian allies – not least South Korea and Japan – are among Tehran’s best customers. The US is also wary of the impact that a wholesale ban on Iranian oil sales would have on the global economy. “The Trump administration wants regime change in Iran but you can’t do that on day one,” says Scott Lucas, professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham. “The aim is to squeeze Tehran without causing a huge spike in oil prices across the world.”

Science

Image: Getty Images

Fly me to the moon

Nasa’s ‘Orion’ spacecraft will be powered by a Europe-made module, proving that the continent’s space agency is a star in its field.

The European Space Agency (Esa) will today provide the US with a state-of-the-art service module, constructed in collaboration with Airbus and 10 European nations, for Nasa’s Moon to Mars exploration programme. It marks the first time in history that a Europe-made piece of kit has been used as the “powerhouse” component, providing propulsion, power and consumables (water, oxygen and food) in Nasa’s Orion spacecraft. It will make its maiden flight around the Moon (albeit without humans) in 2020. The deal should see Esa’s orders skyrocket and further establish Europe as a global player in space exploration and research.

From Monocle 24

Image: Clive Barda

Esa-Pekka Salonen

The Big Interview

The lauded Finnish composer and conductor, currently principal conductor for London’s Philharmonia and conductor laureate for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has spent his career tearing down the elitist labels associated with classical music. He experiments with VR and shaking up the classical-concert format to make orchestras and music more accessible. In a lyrical conversation with Monocle’s Robert Bound he muses over the idea of danger in classical music, pushing virtuosos’ comfort zones and giving back to the system.

From Monocle Films

Munich: The Monocle Travel Guide

Munich manages to have one foot in the old world and another firmly planted in the new – and that's part of its undeniable charm. Monocle's travel guide will help you navigate this cross-section of history and modernity and point you in the direction of our favourite emerging hotels, lively kitchens serving Bavarian classics and the best places to grab your culture fix.

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