Thursday 27 July 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 27/7/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Christopher Cermak

In select company

We journalists betray political predilections at our own risk but I will happily reveal that in 2000, during the US presidential election, I backed Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. After the results came in, the Democrats blamed Nader voters for costing their candidate, Al Gore, the presidency. I resented their reasoning because my pick would have been Republican George W Bush, not Gore, if Nader had not been on the ballot. Voters of third-party candidates rarely conform to a clear-cut political ideology.

Two decades on from then and there’s another new US political movement called No Labels that may sway voters who dislike the choice between Republicans and Democrats. The organisation’s supporters include bipartisan backers: centrist West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, Gore’s former vice-presidential nominee Joe Lieberman and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman (pictured, on right, with Manchin) are among them.

The movement has released a manifesto, held a town-hall debate in New Hampshire and raised more than $70m (€63m) in funding. If No Labels decides to challenge for the presidency in 2024, Huntsman suggests that a “coin flip” could decide whether a former Democrat or Republican is its nominee. The organisation has drawn criticism from both sides but mostly from Democrats who fear that it may harm Biden’s bid for re-election.

The American system does not favour third-party candidates: they typically cost established candidates elections rather than having a chance of winning themselves. But even so, alternatives are sorely needed. Nearly a fifth of registered voters would consider opting for for a “fusion” party like No Labels, a Monmouth University poll found. Third parties are commonplace in Europe, such as the UK’s Liberal Democrats. Besides that, Biden and Trump are extremely well-known entities: anyone choosing No Labels in a hyper-partisan America understands exactly what they’re doing. At a moment when democracy hangs in the balance, it’s time to welcome fresh competition into the fold.

Christopher Cermak is Monocle’s Washington correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / North Korea & Russia & China

Open minded

North Korea is hosting delegations from Russia and China for the first time since the country closed its borders during the pandemic. Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu (pictured, in centre), and Chinese Politburo member, Li Hongzhong, will attend the country’s “Victory Day” celebrations, marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.

While the isolated North Korea has little to offer to its much bigger regional neighbours in terms of economic or diplomatic power, the visit is beneficial for both of its long-standing allies, according to analysts. “Russia’s visit demonstrates that Moscow is not completely isolated,” John Everard, former UK ambassador to North Korea, tells The Monocle Minute. “China, faced with a stuttering economy, is trying to improve its relationships with several countries, including the US and India – a delegation to Pyongyang fits within this outreach. It is too early, however, to know whether sending these delegations signals a change in North Korea’s strict border-closure policy.”

Image: Alamy

Aviation / Global

Flight club

Spanish airline Iberia has joined forces with fellow Oneworld members British Airways and Qatar Airways in a business venture that spans more than 60 countries. According to a statement by the three companies, passengers will be able to connect to more than 200 destinations through their services and, starting in December, Iberia and Qatar Airways will operate three daily flights between Madrid and Doha – the route will likely bridge the gap between the Iberian Peninsula and key markets in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia.

“With this new joint business venture, the companies will not only be able to share their routes but also combine their customer-loyalty schemes,” Murdo Morrison, head of strategic content at Flight Global, tells The Monocle Minute. “It is also an attempt by Qatar Airways, which has always been a smaller player in the Middle East compared to its rival Emirates, to try to consolidate its position and drive more traffic through its Doha hub.”

Image: Getty Images

Urbanism / USA

Surface level

While cities across the world battle with heatwaves and scorching temperatures this summer, a coalition of five US mayors have announced a joint effort to cool down their cities through the use of new technologies. Over the course of three years, the Smart Surfaces initiative – set up and funded by a coalition of the same name, which includes more than 40 national and international organisations – will use technological solutions to reduce the effects of climate change in cities such as Atlanta, Boston, Columbia, Dallas and New Orleans.

The solutions, which include reflective surfaces, green roofs, the use of solar panels and porous pavements, can help beat the heat but also protect urban metropolises from flooding. The coalition will even equip cities with analysis tools to help quantify how to use the technology in the most cost-effective manner. It is unclear whether the new project will create more resilient urban environments but it might just prove that the best way to make a meaningful impact is through working together.

Image: Babled Studio

Art / Portugal

Cultured crowd

Prime Matter is a new art and design gallery in the centre of Lisbon that showcases the works of local artists and craftspeople. The physical space is the idea of French designer, Emmanuel Babled, a creative who studied and worked as an industrial designer in Milan for more than 20 years, and since 2016 has called the Portuguese capital home. Emmanuel also runs his own practice, Babled Studio, that is housed in the same building as the Prime Matter gallery and includes a dedicated showroom to share his previous work and projects with the public.

With a focus on craft traditions – and fusing them with modern technology – Babled Studio has produced a range of products, including rugs, lighting and tableware. “While Prime Matter exhibits the excellent quality of craft that you can find here in Portugal, I want to inspire its people and local culture,” Babled tells Monocle. “Though Lisbon is an artistic city, there is a lack of galleries and spaces that showcase high-quality craft. This is our little effort to contribute to that.”

To listen to the full interview with Emmanuel Babled, tune in to the latest edition of ‘Monocle on Design’ on Monocle Radio.

Monocle Radio / The Urbanist

Urban neighbours and mid-sized cities

We find out what major urban centres can learn from their smaller siblings. Plus: why two neighbouring cities have never merged despite their close proximity.

Monocle Films / Culture

Why Greeks live longer

Nestled in the heart of the Aegean, the island of Ikaria used to be a secluded spot with a humble and unhurried way of life. Today, a third of the island’s population lives to be more than 90 years old. We venture to the local kafeneios, wild beaches and abundant allotments to meet the bronzed seniors.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00