Monday 5 October 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 5/10/2020

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Tomos Lewis

Second, best?

Donald Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis, announced on Friday with just over a month to go until election day, has upended a presidential race that was already like none other. Though the president has been swift to assert that he is still in charge and initial reports are that his case is mild, attention has inevitably fallen on vice-president Mike Pence (pictured, on left, with Trump) who would take over if the president was unable to undertake his duties and who tested negative for coronavirus on Friday.

The experience of UK prime minister Boris Johnson, who became seriously ill with the virus in the spring, will have demonstrated just how important it is to have a clear process of temporary succession. In that regard Americans might be calmed by the fact that Pence received largely positive reviews for his role at the helm of the White House coronavirus task force in the spring, even if this was reportedly a source of tension between him and the president (news reports at the time suggested Trump wanted that adulation for himself).

Given that Trump’s presidential rival Joe Biden is also in his seventies, Friday’s diagnosis should serve to spotlight the importance of the vice president in November’s election; Pence will meet Kamala Harris for the vice-presidential debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. The two candidates will want to strike a markedly different tone to the chaos of last week’s first presidential debate in Ohio. Both Pence and Harris will not only need to prove their vice-presidential qualities but that they are ready to lead. And that they can behave like the adults in the room.

Image: Getty Images

Military action / Azerbaijan

Conflict of interest

How do you avoid war when there is little interest in compromise? That’s the dilemma facing Nagorno-Karabakh, recognised as Azerbaijan’s territory but effectively run by ethnic Armenians. Though Armenia agreed to international mediation last week, it’s not clear that Azerbaijan is interested. Arzu Geybulla, an Azerbaijani journalist based in Istanbul, says that the disputed territory is one of the few issues that has united Azerbaijanis, their authoritarian government as well as the opposition. “If there’s anything that they can agree on, it's on the importance of Nagorno-Karabakh and its status,” Geybulla told The Foreign Desk. “It was always regarded as part of Azerbaijan and its independence – its liberation – was very much on the agenda. People are used to hearing from the government that Nagorno-Karabakh is our number-one priority. And we need to return the territory to Azerbaijan.” With such convictions matched by Armenia, there’s little hope for a quick solution.

Image: Alamy

Aviation / Global

Bleak outlook

The US Senate adjourned last week with no word on whether a new stimulus package would be forthcoming for the country’s largest carriers, which warned that they will have no choice but to cut more than 30,000 jobs. The cliff-edge scenario is in contrast to ongoing conversations in Europe, where some airlines have negotiated terms that soften the blow: KLM on Friday agreed to cut some jobs, reduce wages and streamline its fleet in exchange for €3.4bn in loans from the Dutch government.

“EU airlines don’t face the same aid deadline as US carriers but government aid has been more selective in Europe,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice-president of analysis at Teal Group, a market analysis service. With travel restrictions and rolling lockdowns remaining likely, governments will need to stay flexible. “Unless this aid continues, European carriers will face the same awful traffic outlook this winter as their US counterparts,” he says.

Image: Getty Images


Cloud bank

Athens is about to get a massive boost to its economy. Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Microsoft are expected today to announce a deal bringing as much as €1bn worth of investment in new cloud-services infrastructure for the US tech giant to be based in the Greek capital, the newspaper Kathimerini reported on Sunday. The deal would mark a major coup for Greece and reportedly stems from meetings held between the two sides at the Davos World Economic Forum last January, though Microsoft apparently only settled on Greece as a location in the last two weeks. Full details are expected to be released at an event at the Acropolis Museum today but it’s safe to say that after years of struggling to pull itself out of the economic doldrums, Greece hopes that this won’t be the only major foreign-investment deal but rather a sign of good things to come.

Image: ITV

Television / UK

Still good for a laugh

Spitting Image, the beloved satirical puppet show and hub of television nostalgia, is returning to British screens after a 24-year hiatus. The programme, which cast political and cultural figures of the day as grotesquely rendered caricatures, offered a launchpad to a generation of writers and impressionists, many of whom went on to enjoy considerable success. At its best, satire should not be a gentle ribbing but a stern rogering; a prick, not a tickle. But these days there’s challenge in the general state of things; many have observed the complexities of satirising a US president (for instance) whose every utterance exceeds even the most hardened hack’s wildest expectations. In its early iterations Spitting Image kept politicians and celebrities grounded through its unique combination of wit and vulgarity. Even though an emerging vein of prudishness in modern life could stymie the latter, it should provide a good laugh. God knows we all need one.

M24 / The Stack

*Sweet Dreams*, *Nowhere* and *Dig*

We speak to Dylan Jones, editor of British GQ, about his latest book, Sweet Dreams: From Club Culture to Style Culture, the Story of the New Romantics. Plus: Tony Kelly on Nowhere, his new book of LA photography, and a magazine for record collectors: Dig.

Monocle Films / Global

Copenhagen: healthy city growth

The concept of kolonihave, a blissful combination of an allotment and a summer house, has shaped Danish cities since the late 17th century. Today avid growers convene in these colonies to find a peaceful place to commune with nature – and a community of diverse characters.


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