Thursday 11 May 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 11/5/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


Changing tide

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured, onstage), gathered together hundreds of thousands of supporters in Istanbul last weekend in a show of power ahead of Sunday’s general election. At the same time, in the Anatolian city of Erzurum, Erdogan’s supporters pelted Ekrem Imamoglu, Istanbul’s mayor and an influential opposition figure, with stones and water bottles. Over more than 20 years in power, the president has cultivated a fanatical support base that will not countenance his defeat. He has also seized control of nearly every lever of state power. He is expected to try to manipulate or heavily contest the results of the elections if they aren’t in his favour. Erdogan’s opponents are on course to beat him for the first time in a generation: polls show Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition, marginally ahead, though he might not be able to win outright in the first round of voting.

In an example of the sort of tactics being employed, the police did not step in to stop the organised attack at Imamoglu’s rally in Erzurum until the mayor had been forced to retreat into his bus. Nine people were injured, among them children. Suleyman Soylu, the interior minister, then accused Imamoglu of having been the provocateur.

This sort of behaviour is supposed to signify strength but it shows how desperate Erdogan’s campaign team has become. Facing sky-high inflation and in the aftermath of catastrophic earthquakes, the president has little to offer but division. Kilicdaroglu, on the other hand, has brought together a broad coalition and is promoting a message of unity – an approach that is playing well with Turkey’s youth, as well as Kurds and other minorities.

When Imamoglu returned to Istanbul from Erzurum, he was met by thousands of people who had rushed to the airport to greet him. “We are winning!” he declared to the ecstatic crowd from the top of a bus. Incredibly, his words might be more than mere rhetoric this time.

Hannah Lucinda Smith is Monocle’s Istanbul correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Getty Images


Identity crisis

Members of the European Parliament will vote today on a key part of a set of proposals for the world’s first laws regulating artificial intelligence. In contention is an amendment to Article 5 of the proposed Artificial Intelligence Act, which would prohibit using cameras to follow people around shops, streets and other public spaces in Europe. It will also ban private companies from employing AI to identify individuals on CCTV by matching images with others from social-media platforms. Another amendment will proscribe the use of “emotional recognition”, which can reportedly detect a subject’s feelings of happiness, sadness or tiredness – a technology that is already being used by traffic police in parts of China. Some centre-right MEPs have pushed back against the regulation, citing AI’s potential usefulness for biometric scanning in combating terrorism. Though it might be an uphill battle, the Artificial Intelligence Act could, if passed, become the basis for some much-needed global regulation.

Image: Alamy


Local heroes

In a week when big media organisations such as Buzzfeed announced that they are shuttering their news divisions, the announcement of this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners brings a welcome reminder of the importance of local journalism. Among those honoured were John Archibald and his son Ramsay (pictured, on left, with John), who work for Alabama-based media group and took home the prize for local news reporting. “I’m very fortunate to work with such a talented team of journalists, my father included,” Ramsay tells The Monocle Minute. “It’s a dream come true.”

The team was rewarded for their outstanding reporting on aggressive tactics by a municipal police force to increase their revenue. The story led to the resignation of a police chief and a state audit. Though the local-news sector faces uncertainty as a result of public distrust and a lack of funds, Ramsay has a positive outlook for the future. “I hope that stories like this one can prove to people that local news still matters,” he says.

Image: Ian Patterson


High fliers

Yesterday, Air New Zealand became the latest airline to announce improvements to the premium flying experience with a €2bn investment in its fleet, part of which will involve renovating the airline’s new Business Premier Luxe suites and refreshed cabins. The news follows announcements from Lufthansa, KLM and Emirates, which are collectively pumping billions of euros into improving service and their Premium-Economy, Business and First-Class offerings.

While passenger numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels for many carriers and corporate travel has yet to fully recover, some passengers are helping to make up the shortfall by being willing to pay more to fly in comfort. According to Lufthansa, demand for leisure travel has “almost completely compensated” for the lull in corporate bookings. “Customers are now focusing on airlines with the best inflight experience,” Murdo Morrison, head of strategic content at Flightglobal, tells The Monocle Minute. “Flying Business Class is becoming a luxury experience, rather than something that’s exclusively for frequent corporate travellers.”

Image: Getty Images


Eastern promises

In the past few weeks, the first ladies of both Japan and South Korea (pictured, on left, with Jill Biden) have visited the National Museum of Asian Art in Washington. When it opened in 1923, it became the first art museum on the US National Mall. To mark its centenary year, it is holding a series of curator-led tours, discussions, concerts, culinary demonstrations and art markets. The festivities culminate this Saturday in a concert that will bring together Indian-American pop star Raveena and K-pop sensation Eric Nam.

Nicole Dowd, the museum’s head of public programming, tells The Monocle Minute that she hopes to reach Asian countries that aren’t part of the institution’s collection (which is partly why she has brought in Philippine food trucks). At a time when museums across the world are asking existential questions about how to depict other cultures and what they can show, the National Museum of Asian Art is confidently using its position to celebrate Asia’s contribution to life in the US.

Image: Harriet Clare


João Rodrigues’s food mission

This week, Markus Hippi speaks to Jon Rotheram, co-founder of new London restaurant Lasdun, while Ivan Carvalho catches up with chef João Rodrigues in the Minho region of Portugal. Plus: Sophie Monaghan-Coombs visits the Wellcome Collection’s new exhibition, Milk, and the week’s top food and drink headlines.

Monocle Films / Denmark

Community spirit in Denmark

Housing co-operatives are numerous in Denmark, providing residents with affordable places to live, keeping community spirit strong and cultivating samfundssind: the Danish concept of putting society’s needs ahead of individual interests. Monocle visited the Jystrup Savværk co-housing community, an hour outside of Copenhagen, to explore the meaning of the word.

Discover more stories and ideas from the region with ‘The Monocle Book of the Nordics’, which is available now from The Monocle Shop.


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