Thursday 10 January 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 10/1/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


Taking charge

Nicolás Maduro will be sworn in for his second term as president of Venezuela today. The embattled left-wing leader declared 2019 as the “year of fresh starts” but, in truth, that’s wishful thinking. Economic woes, unfriendly neighbours and a flimsy mandate render his future uncertain at best. Canada and 12 Latin American nations have recognised the opposition-controlled National Assembly as the only governing body in Venezuela, supporting the legislature in condemning the May 2018 elections as fraudulent. The UN Security Council is unlikely to take action against Maduro’s ruinous leadership so Robert Muggah, research director at the Igarapé Institute, believes a resolution lies with the National Assembly. “Its priority is to broker a transition process, galvanise the fractious opposition and call for free and fair elections,” he says.

Image: Getty Images


Winds of change

Donald Trump might be experiencing difficulties in erecting his Mexican border wall (now downgraded to a steel fence) but that’s not all: he is also facing headwinds as he tries to appoint Barry Lee Myers, his choice candidate, to lead the country’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Until last week, Myers was CEO of AccuWeather, a commercial weather-forecasting company. He has spent much of his career arguing that public forecasting and research institutions, such as the NOAA and the National Weather Service, should be privatised. The fear among Democrats is that Myers will effectively turn the NOAA into a publicly funded division of AccuWeather: his brother, Joel, still serves as the private firm’s president and chairman.

Image: Victor Garrido


Wear it again

Pitti Uomo, the biannual Florentine menswear tradeshow, plays host to 1,200 brands. Though many of them sell nice clothes, some are also changing the way we think about fashion. Yesterday Spanish label Ecoalf unveiled a capsule collection of items made in Italy from recycled materials. Elsewhere, Los Angeles-based initiative Atelier & Repairs displayed patchwork trousers and jackets made with “deadstock” fabrics or reworked from defective clothes. “This industry is a cancer,” says co-founder and creative director Maurizio Donadi, referring to the amount of waste produced by clothes-makers. “We are not a ‘sustainable’ brand: we send shipments around the world; I caught a flight to Florence. But we try to be as responsible as possible.” Atelier & Repairs is stocked by Bergdorf Goodman and United Arrows – and Donadi says he is now “being contacted by big brands who want to find out more about what we do”. They’d do well to follow his example.


Look smart

CES rumbles on with a clear focus on the things it excels at: bigger and brighter TVs, more complex audio and preposterous accessories. But then there are the unexpected but eye-catching products that delight. Such as Sony’s tiny glass speaker that looks like a lantern with a customisable light in a glass tube. What’s more, it actually works: there’s a strong downward-firing subwoofer and mid-tones in the base. Plus, surprisingly, it vibrates the tube to create the higher notes. The result is an intimate and delicate sound. Or there’s Panasonic’s new OLED TV which looks stunning, despite not being at the ultimate 8K resolution, and has deeply immersive sound thanks to hidden speakers that fire at the ceiling and bounce the audio around. Of course, there are quirkier objects too: from a hands-free toilet you can command with your voice to a pet-food dispenser with facial-recognition technology to ensure the cat isn’t given the dog’s food.

Image: Shutterstock

What will House Democrats do with their newfound power?

After the so-called blue wave in November’s midterm elections, Democrats now control the House of Representatives. But will they be able to hold President Trump and his administration to account or will the new, progressive Congressional legislators rub the old order in the Democratic party up the wrong way?

Soft Power Survey 2018/19

We join the conga of the top 25 nations that got it right (and wrong) in this most delicate of diplomatic skills.


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