Tuesday 4 April 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 4/4/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Christopher Lord

Trial and tribulation

I took a wrong turn driving through southwestern Los Angeles on Sunday and suddenly found myself on Trump National Drive, which snakes down to the Pacific Ocean from one of the former president’s sprawling golf courses. Even on the West Coast, you can’t escape him. There has been a media frenzy in the US ahead of Trump’s heavily trailed arraignment in a Lower Manhattan courtroom and, if that goes ahead later today, we can expect the full force of the media machine to shift into action. Think chopper cams and the kind of televised circus that Trump thrives on.

Yet for all the ink spilled in the papers about what this indictment means – for democracy, for the 2024 election – the American public has for some time been quietly moving on. Just take the lacklustre gathering of supporters in Palm Beach on Saturday, with a clutch of Make America Great Again flags and fringe slogans that hardly represents a vast, energised base. Then there’s the much-cited polls suggesting that Trump (pictured) is still the person who most Republicans want to lead their party into the next election. Beyond that headline, however, there are also reports of grassroots donors and local party leaders all over America growing weary of this once surefire vote winner.

Trump’s legal travails have thrust him back into the spotlight for now and, oddly, boosted his poll numbers. But is it enough to bag him his party’s nomination? I doubt it. If it does, it’ll drag the Republicans even further into the electoral wilderness. Today might be momentous – this is the first time that a former US president has faced criminal charges – but it also feels like a noisy sideshow to the Republican Party’s struggles to find direction again. For many voters watching the ruckus of recent days, the Trump show is running out of road.

Christopher Lord is Monocle’s US editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Getty Images

Space / South Korea

Aiming for the stars

Hanwha Aerospace Co, South Korea’s only aeronautical engine manufacturer, announced yesterday that it would build the country’s first commercial space rocket with the long-term goal of catching up with US spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX. This would be a major achievement: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket (pictured) currently costs a relatively paltry €61.5m per launch. Hanwha Aerospace is part of a 71-year-old defence conglomerate that, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has successfully positioned itself as a major supplier of armoured vehicles and artillery systems to Nato. Funds from these sales have contributed to the company’s space ambitions. South Korea’s latest project is a clear sign that Seoul is hoping to compete with other space powers by developing its own homegrown commercial rocket industry. Last month the South Korean National Assembly approved a 19.5 per cent increase in the country’s space budget. President Yoon Suk-yeol has also promised to double such spending over the next five years. The sky isn’t even the limit.

Image: Getty Images

Geopolitics / Turkey

Friends again?

The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, will meet his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias (pictured, on right, with Cavusoglu), today in a further sign of a thaw in relations between the eastern Mediterranean neighbours. Tensions over the sovereignty of Greek islands close to the Turkish mainland, as well as claims over underwater natural-gas deposits, have driven a wedge between the two countries in recent years. But February’s devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey and northern Syria seems to have led to a rapprochement.

Athens quickly sent 80 tonnes of medical aid along with search and rescue teams to affected areas. As a result, it appears that Ankara has decided to cease its tactic of provocative flyovers. According to the Greek Defence Ministry, Turkish jets flew over Greek territory 234 times last year but no such manoeuvres occurred in February and March. It’s unfortunate that it took a tragedy to bring the two neighbours back together but the hope is that they can build on this goodwill.

Image: Alamy

Health / Thailand

Sun, sea and stethoscopes

Businesses are looking beyond the same few global cities to recruit workforces and offer new perks for fresh hires. In Thailand, a talent pool of professional, highly skilled medical practitioners have helped the country become a top destination for medical tourism. Of the record 40 million tourists who visited in 2019, approximately 3.5 million had a doctor’s appointment in their itineraries. Most of the country’s best-known private hospitals are in Bangkok, marketing high-quality healthcare that won’t cost an arm and a leg. “People are a lot more concerned about their health these days and interested in preventative treatments,” says Preawphan Punyaratabandhu, a dermatologist at Bangkok Hospital whose patients often fly in from China and the Middle East for consultations. As the global market for wellness continues to grow, Bangkok’s time as Asia’s top medical tourism destination is unlikely to get old soon.

A longer version of this article appears in Monocle’s April issue, which features our annual retail survey and is on newsstands now.

Image: Andrea Pugiotto

F&B / Italy

Raising a glass

Vendors at Italy’s premier wine fair Vinitaly, which ends tomorrow, are in an ebullient mood as they celebrate record exports of almost €8bn last year. Foreign drinkers remain thirsty for Italian wines, especially of the sparkling variety. The success of the Franciacorta appellation is just one example of how Italy’s premium and fine wine segments are untroubled by rising prices thanks to drinkers seeking lighter alternatives to champagne and cava. More worrying than consumer habits is the changing climate.

One solution that Italian vintners are experimenting with is planting vineyards at an increased elevation. “We’ve acquired sites at 600 metres above sea level, which is the upper limit of what is permitted by the appellation, to have cooler temperatures and avoid overripe grapes with too much sugar and alcohol that are out of balance,” Manfred Ing, winemaker at Querciabella, a leading biodynamic estate in the Chianti Classico appellation, tells The Monocle Minute. “The future is at a higher altitude.”

Image: Stephanie Füssenich

Monocle Radio / The Entrepreneurs

IWG and Capacities

Monocle’s editor in chief, Andrew Tuck, joins the show to introduce his interview with Mark Dixon, the founder and chief executive of IWG. They discuss hybrid working and why the office will never go out of style, even if commuting does. Plus: we meet the German tech entrepreneurs behind a cutting-edge “second brain” productivity app.

Monocle Films / Lisbon

Meet the Photographers: John Balsom

The Jogos da Lusofonia are an Olympics-style sporting event for people from the world’s Portuguese-speaking nations. We dispatched John Balsom – a photographer known for his powerful portraits – to the 2009 games in Lisbon. In our latest film, Balsom shares his memories of the assignment and how he captured such a fast-paced sports story on vintage film cameras. Discover more with The Monocle Book of Photography, which is available to buy now.


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