The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 6 November 2018

Politics

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Fine line

Middling midterms no more: this year’s version is upping the stakes.

US voters take to the polls for the country’s midterm elections today. A swathe of House, Senate, gubernatorial and local seats will be contested and the final outcome has the potential to alter the balance of power in Washington. While midterms never attract people to the ballot box in the numbers that presidential elections do, in some states this year has broken records for advanced voting. This apparent zeal for democracy can partly be attributed to people’s fervent support of, or vitriolic opposition to, the current president. Meanwhile the Center for Responsive Politics estimates that candidates will spend a combined total of $5.2bn (€4.6bn) on 2018’s midterms. It’s a new record – but high spend does not assure victory. Listen to Monocle 24 for live coverage and analysis as the results unfold.

Affairs

Image: Getty Images

Evasive action

Saudi Arabia has embarked on an exercise in damage limitation. Will it work out?

In an attempt to shift focus away from the furore over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, King Salman of Saudi Arabia embarks on a national tour today. He is expected to unveil health, education and infrastructure projects, although details of what they involve are, at present, scant. It reeks of a hastily put together PR effort: the Khashoggi case has prompted international backlash and called into question the future of the country’s effective ruler, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. “This tour is an exercise in damage control; Mohammed bin Salman has been hugely damaged,” said journalist and analyst Bill Law on Monocle 24’s The Briefing. “They’re trying to move the story on.”

Defence

Image: Alamy

That’s deep

Japan is striking out on its own with an underwater undertaking that sends out a message.

Big military drills conducted with the US and the UK are all very well but it’s equally important for Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to keep an eye on what the competition is doing. That’s why he is sinking funds into a new unmanned submersible that could discreetly patrol the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea when his frigates and carriers are elsewhere. While no pictures have been released, the submersible is anticipated to be about 10 metres in length and will be operational for one week at a time before it needs to resurface. The research associated with building such a craft is expected to come in at €32.5m. While it isn’t cheap, it’s a drop in the ocean when it comes to Japan’s ever increasing military budget.

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

Here we go again

Russia vs Ukraine: it’s not a new story but it gets no less troubling in the retelling.

Ukraine has yet to hit back at Russia for the sanctions announced last week by the Kremlin; they are expected to affect some 300 Ukrainian individuals and 68 companies. While Kiev has pledged to issue responsive measures, Moscow has since furthered the offensive via its state-controlled media. Publications across Russia have seized on the fact that Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko suggested that being on the sanctions list is an honour, presenting his response as childish insolence and bandit-like rhetoric. It is likely that the hostilities have been sparked by the improving relationship between Ukraine and its neighbour Belarus, which Russia regards as a threat. The presidents of Ukraine and Belarus met at the end of October and signed a $100m trade contract.

From Monocle 24

Image: Alamy

Kavanagh building

The Urbanist: Tall Stories

Monocle editor Andrew Tuck takes us to Buenos Aires to bring us the story of what was once the highest skyscraper in Latin America.

From Monocle Films

Seamless moves

When it comes to moving people effortlessly through and between cities, who is getting it right? And how do we make cities where mobility works for young and old alike?

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