Monday. 18/1/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Ryan Williams

Know your right

Four years after a shocking 2016 election that saw Republicans take back the White House while holding majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Grand Old Party (GOP) is in disarray ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. Having just lost the presidency and both houses of Congress, party leaders are now fed up with President Trump and eager to distance themselves from his toxic brand. But despite intense blowback from both the conservative establishment and corporate donors, Donald Trump remains the most influential person in the Republican Party. A recent Ipsos/Axios poll conducted after a pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol shows that a majority of Republicans think the president was justified in his baseless challenge of Biden’s clear electoral victory. Meanwhile, 36 per cent still proudly label themselves as “Trump Republicans”.

Republicans in Congress know that any effort to hold the president accountable might result in political, and potentially physical, threats from Trump Republicans. What’s more, despite the fact that Biden is a moderate by Democratic standards, and has a history of working across the aisle, many Republican voters believe Trump’s claim that the president-elect is a Trojan horse for socialism. GOP lawmakers will therefore be under pressure from their base to obstruct Biden’s agenda at all costs.

Thankfully, a bipartisan group of senators in the evenly divided Senate stand to wield significant power in Biden’s Washington. Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, along with Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have indicated a willingness to work with both sides to find common ground with the new administration. This should give Biden an opportunity to pass legislation on controversial issues such as climate change, tax policy and gun control, although the final products will be less ambitious than his campaign policy proposals.

In short, Republican leaders are in a bind. In Trump, they have had a tiger by the tail for the past four years who helped them confirm dozens of conservative judges and sign their political agenda into law. Now the tiger is on the loose and leaders are desperately trying to figure out how to prevent it from mauling their electoral prospects – and devouring the entire party.

Ryan Williams is executive vice-president of the political consulting group Targeted Victory and a longtime spokesman for 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He is also a regular Monocle 24 contributor.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Russia

Return ticket

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (pictured) returned to Moscow yesterday, months after he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent in Siberia. It’s widely believed that the Kremlin’s intelligence network carried out the attack on Vladimir Putin’s orders and Navalny received treatment and has been recovering in Berlin ever since. The 44-year-old was warned that he faces incarceration on his return to Russia, so why did he take the risk? “Navalny will be fully aware that he’s walking into the lion’s den,” says Russia analyst and regular Monocle 24 contributor, Stephen Dalziel. “But staying abroad allows the Kremlin to steal the narrative. Navalny isn’t able to lead an effective opposition in exile – and the poisonings of the Skripals in the UK in 2018 serve as a reminder that critics of the Kremlin are no safer outside Russia than they are within its borders.”

Image: Alamy

Media / Portugal

Fit to print

Newspaper revenues might be falling but not all of the headlines are bad. Diário de Notícias, one of the oldest daily newspapers still in circulation in Portugal, returned to newsstands as a daily this month after a two-year hiatus. In 2018 the paper made the tough call to become a weekly in order to avoid closure following a sharp decrease in advertising revenue and sales.

To stay afloat over the past two years, the publication has published a daily online edition to complement a newspaper distributed on Saturdays. But earlier this month, to coincide with celebrations of its 156th anniversary, Diário de Notícias proudly returned to newsstands as a daily. The revival comes with some tweaks: new sections, a freshened design and editorial changes, including naming Rosália Amorim as editor, making her the first woman ever to take the top job. Diário de Notícias’s journey illustrates the importance of print media outlets having a clear, strong and dedicated focus – and that trusted news sources are more important than ever.

Image: Ynsect

Agriculture / Global

Fancy some grub?

It might have been stomach-churning news for some but the European Food Safety Authority’s approval of yellow mealworm for human consumption last week marked a major milestone for others. In particular, a swarm of insect-for-food companies are champing at the bit to offer what they consider to be a sustainable new source of protein. French agritech company Ynsect, for example, has been growing mealworms for animal and plant feed for a decade and now has designs on the massive sports-nutrition market. “[The decision] demonstrates the quality of our yellow mealworm but it’s also taking us a step further into our strategy to contribute to feeding the planet,” CEO and co-founder Antoine Hubert (pictured, on right) tells The Monocle Minute. It’s good timing for the brand, which recently broke ground on a massive vertical-farming project near Amiens in France. The European Commission still has to sign off on yellow mealworm, giving the rest of us time to get used to the dietary change.

Hear more about Ynsect on Monocle 24’s ‘The Entrepreneurs’.

Image: Alamy

Urbanism / Venice

Venetian bind

Venice has a complicated relationship with its visitors: tourism is a boon to the economy but many who live here argue that the arrival of too many has turned it into a theme park. Pre-pandemic almost 30 million tourists visited the city every year – spending money but also clogging streets, damaging the city’s foundations and making life difficult for its 50,000 residents. This tension has come to a head once more after the city’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, said he doesn’t plan to reopen Venice’s museums until 1 April – in time for the traditional start of the tourist season. For residents, this is proof positive that Brugnaro cares more about the needs of tourists than locals, who deserve to enjoy a museum or two before the masses return. With Venice celebrating its 1,600th anniversary this year, tourism will no doubt be revived but the city needs to better protect its heritage – and keep its locals happy.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Eureka 226: Caraway

Jordan Nathan is founder and CEO of Caraway, a New York-based cookware and home brand he launched in 2019 after a scary experience while cooking with Teflon. Caraway makes non-toxic, eco-friendly products with sharp designs, including linens, ceramic pots and pans, and accessories in smart colours.

Monocle Films / Global

Making a point

In a competitive world driven by technological advances some artisan producers are staying resilient and challenging the mass-production industry. Monocle Films visits entrepreneurs in Istanbul, Cape Town and Mallorca who champion the art of craft.

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