Friday. 16/12/2022

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Christopher Lord

Personal histories

The art of the American political campaign book tends not to be all that artful. These titles are typically ghostwritten, loaded with aphorisms and comprise a coming-of-age tale from which we are spoon-fed the subject’s worldview. While most of them are destined for the bookshop bargain bin, they can be a good indication that a candidate intends to throw their hat into the ring for their party’s nomination for president. With the US election less than two years away, the shelves are creaking with tomes by conservatives and 2023 will see a whole lot more.

Former vice-president Mike Pence’s recently published So Help Me God, described by one reviewer as “torturous”, seeks to put as much space between him and his old boss Donald Trump as possible. At about 450 pages, it’s no stocking filler. South Carolina senator Tim Scott’s book, which came out in August, featured a tiny reference on the copyright page to his plans to launch a presidential bid, which he then went on to deny. Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state, who is also tipped to run for a nomination, has one out in the new year too, curiously titled Never Give an Inch. Florida senator Marco Rubio looks set to give the top job another go with the cheery-sounding Decades of Decadence, out next June.

The most anticipated of these books, however, is by another Floridian. Governor Ron DeSantis will set out his stall in The Courage to Be Free. Expect broadsides at vaccine mandates, “woke” Disney and the logic of lockdowns. This week, polls of Republican voters showed DeSantis with a clear lead on Trump when it comes to who the party’s base want to see in charge in the next election. That sets the stage for these two bellicose front-runners to duke it out for the nomination, which will make for great political theatre and on-air clashes. It will probably be one of those rare occasions when the on-screen version is better than the book.

Christopher Lord is Monocle’s US editor.

Image: Getty Images

Media / Canada

The rights stuff

This week, Canada’s House of Commons passed a bill put forward by federal heritage minister Pablo Rodriguez (pictured) that will force companies such as Google and Meta to pay publishers for reposting news stories on their platforms. The country is not the first to put its foot down: in 2021, Australia passed a similar bill, which has helped to create a more fruitful relationship between major technology platforms and media outlets. New Zealand might soon follow suit and European countries including France and Spain have introduced new copyright regulations for online content with some success. The move will be welcomed by Canadian media at a time when many titles are struggling: more than 450 outlets have closed across the nation since 2008. Meanwhile, Google and Meta have responded by threatening to remove all news from their platforms. In Australia, that threat ended in negotiations; let’s hope that the same happens in Canada.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Germany & Switzerland

Harder borders

Germany and Switzerland have become the latest European countries to announce new measures aimed at halting the flow of migrants and asylum seekers across their borders. An action plan initially agreed in 2016 is being expanded to tackle illegal migration. The measures include an intensification of border searches and police patrols on trains travelling from Switzerland to Germany – a common journey for asylum seekers travelling through the western Balkans and central Mediterranean routes.

Oliver Strijbis, an assistant politics professor at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Zürich, told Monocle 24’s The Briefing that the initiative is the result of a “combination of rather strong pressure from Germany and a strong interest by Switzerland in having good relations”. The news comes in the same week that Italy and the UK also announced plans for a tougher stance on illegal migrants – and more people died attempting to cross the English Channel on small boats. Stricter policies and harder borders, it seems, are prevailing across the continent.

Image: Bakas

Music / Thailand

Lap of luxury

Wonderfruit, a music and arts festival that’s often dubbed Asia’s answer to Coachella, kicked off in Thailand yesterday. The party will last until Sunday, with attendees descending on the grassy fields of the Siam Country Club outside Pattaya. As well as watching performances by the likes of Japanese Afro-groove band Ajate and Thai DJ collective Däydang, guests can set their sights beyond DIY camping thanks to luxury resort Banyan Tree, which is running Wonderfruit’s first-ever on-site spa and providing high-end tents.

Some of Bangkok’s best chefs, such as Kolkata-born Gaggan Anand, are bringing pop-up food and drink options. Over the years, sustainability has become central to the festival. Between acts, visitors can attend panels and workshops on biodiversity and climate change, while the entire event promises to be carbon neutral, proving that festivals can be fun without harming their natural surroundings.

Image: Getty Images

F&B / India

Uncorking success

India might not be known for its wine but the industry there is growing fast. Wine-maker Sula Vineyards completed its initial public offering this week, valuing the company at some Rs30bn (€340m). The country’s rising middle class has a taste for fine bottles from abroad but the interest has also nudged up sales for the domestic market.

Sula started in 1999 and the 23 years between its launch and this week’s IPO speak to drinkers’ changing tastes. Soon to be the most populous country on Earth, India is likely to remain a lucrative market for wine merchants as interest in the drink continues to rise. As climate change disrupts growing conditions in traditional wine-making regions and opens up grape-growing possibilities elsewhere, so-called “new latitude wines” are attracting more attention. Sula will be hoping to see its bottles in demand well beyond India’s borders in the near future too.

Image: Satoshi Nagare/The Nippon Foundation

Monocle 24 / The Urbanist

2022: Urbanism in review

What were the biggest wins in the world of urbanism over the past 12 months? With the help of our global correspondents, we get a view from around the world about some of this year’s successes in planning, architecture and civic leadership, and what they mean for their cities.

Monocle Films / Vienna

Design tours: The best public housing?

The world is urbanising fast. But how do you accommodate people in cities in a way that offers dignity, affordability and a sense of community? Vienna may have a solution. Explore the enduring legacy of the city’s Gemeindebau apartment blocks in the latest episode of our Design Tours series.

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