Tuesday 15 August 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 15/8/2023

The Monocle Minute

Breaking news: Donald Trump has been indicted by a grand jury in the US state of Georgia on criminal charges relating to the 2020 presidential election. This is the fourth indictment involving the former US president and Republican frontrunner for 2024. Tune into The Globalist on Monocle Radio for analysis from our editors.

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Fernando Augusto Pacheco

Vis-á-vis visas

To celebrate 115 years of formal Japanese emigration to Brazil, Tokyo and Brasília have agreed to drop reciprocal visa requirements. It’s a wise decision that will undoubtedly boost the relationship between the two countries. Japan is home to the world’s fifth-largest Brazilian community with more than 200,000 expats living there, while those strong ties are also immediately visible when you visit Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo (pictured), where you are never too far from a good ramen or plate of nigiri.

The mutual elimination of the need for visas is one of the best economic decisions that two countries can make. In this case, it can also be considered a diplomatic coup: under Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilians needed a visa to visit the US, Canada and Australia but the citizens of those countries could travel in the opposite direction without such documentation. Now, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has reinstated the visa reciprocity policy. On this occasion, diplomacy won – after a successful meeting in May with Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, Lula announced last Wednesday that the visa-waiver programme would begin from 30 September.

On a personal level, there was something unfair and humiliating about seeking a visa during the Bolsonaro years. As a native Brazilian, I remember how challenging it was for me to visit Japan in 2019: I had to show bank statements and other extensive documentation when seeking approval for a visa. Even worse than that was when I took a day off work to visit the US embassy in London to apply for a visa to spend Christmas in New York. After a full day at the embassy, my visa was rejected. Lula’s decision will not only boost tourism and the economies of both Brazil and Japan but will also prove that reciprocity – treating one as you would like to be treated – works with diplomacy too.

Fernando Augusto Pacheco is Monocle Radio’s senior correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Getty Images

Affairs / Poland

First line of defence

Poland will demonstrate its growing military capabilities today as it celebrates Polish Armed Forces Day in commemoration of its victory over Soviet Russia in 1920. Once regarded as the problem child of the EU, Poland has assumed the role of bastion of Western defence and will soon have one of the best military forces in Europe: it has more tanks and howitzers than Germany and is on track to have 300,000 troops by 2035. Poland’s investment in defence could alter the balance of power in the region and shift Europe’s centre of gravity eastwards.

“Poland is an indispensable logistical hub for the defence of Ukraine,” Radosław Sikorski, a member of the European Parliament who formerly served as Poland’s minister of foreign affairs, tells The Monocle Minute. “But it is not yet the political hub that it should be, given the nature of the crisis to the east and Poland’s strategic location.” Defence policy will be a key talking point as the country gears up for crucial parliamentary elections in October.

For more on Poland’s rising military power, tune in to the latest edition of ‘The Foreign Desk’ on Monocle Radio.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Argentina

Money talks

Voters in Argentina expressed their frustration at president Alberto Fernández’s failure to deliver economic stability by backing outsider Javier Milei in an unexpected swing to the right. The former television personality and radical economist saw his Freedom Advances party win 30.1 per cent of the vote in Sunday’s primary election – wherein leaders of political parties and alliances are decided through compulsory voting.

Milei (pictured) campaigned to address the current rate of more than 115 per cent inflation by introducing extreme austerity measures and dollarising the economy. The result put Freedom Advances ahead of the centre-right Together for Change party and ruling populist coalition Union for the Homeland, and occurred despite recent reports of inflation slowing down in other Latin American countries, such as Mexico, Brazil and Chile. As the country prepares for a presidential election in October, these results suggest that Argentinians are seeking economic relief, no matter the cost.

Image: Alamy

Urbanism / France

Shell out

European seaside cities have experienced record temperatures this summer but one potential solution to combat the scorching heat is washing up on their shores. Nice is making the case for the use of crushed seashells in the construction of pavements. In contrast to absorbing and impermeable Tarmac, the newly created concrete-and-seashell material holds water in its crevices. When the mercury rises, the moisture evaporates, helping to keep pavements cooler.

First dreamed up in Normandy as part of the Fresh-EcoPavers project, which seeks to lessen the effects of climate change in urban areas, the trend has caught on. The idea was tested in Nice in 2019, with a 600 sq m patch, and is now being exported to Bordeaux, Toulouse and Paris, as the capital prepares to host the Olympic Games next summer.

For more solution-based stories on how to beat the heat this summer, pick up a copy of ‘Monocle Mediterraneo’, which is available via The Monocle Shop and on select newsstands now.

Culture / London

Anyone for tennis

Stuart Brumfitt, a London-based writer and editor with a 20-year background in fashion and culture publishing, has just co-launched Bagel, a magazine focusing on tennis, diversity and its cultural influence. Here, he shares more about the project that is seeking to capture the essence of the sport.

What prompted you to launch a magazine about tennis? The idea started after chatting with my friend Julian, a qualified tennis coach, about the lack of tennis magazines that excited us. We started to recognise the shift occurring in the sport. With prominent figures such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams either retiring or considering doing so, a new generation of players is emerging, often with an expanded presence on social media and interests extending beyond tennis. We thought that there was a gap in the market and, with the emergence of young players, it was an exciting time.

How is ‘Bagel’ different from other tennis publications?Bagel is a tennis magazine with a sprinkling of fashion and products. We wanted to capture the cultural and style aspects that cross over with the realm of tennis. Looking ahead, we plan to feature a range of non-tennis talents, from celebrities and musicians to designers and editors, all sharing a love for tennis. Our focus extends beyond the professional game to encompass anyone who is enthusiastic about the sport. And I believe that we will have some surprise covers in the future.

There was a time where tennis was considered elitist. Is this still the case? Tennis is changing significantly, with greater diversity and inclusivity. It is a transformation that owes much to trailblazers like the Williams sisters. As tournaments unfold, particularly at lower tiers, growing diversity is evident. But while acknowledging that there is still progress to be made, the magazine intends to actively engage with both the elite, high-profile tournaments, such as Monte Carlo or Wimbledon, and the grassroots level of the game, such as people playing in the park and children playing around the world. We are committed to being a part of the evolution and positive transformation of tennis culture.

For more on ‘Bagel’ and other exciting print publications from around the world, tune in to Saturday’s edition of‘The Stack’, on Monocle Radio.

Monocle Radio / The Entrepreneurs

Ace & Tate

We speak to Mark de Lange, CEO and founder of the Amsterdam-based eyewear brand known for its distinctly Dutch aesthetic and exceptional craftsmanship. De Lange founded the company a decade ago on the premise that swapping eyewear should be as effortless as changing your shoes. Ten years on, what does he make of the optical landscape?

Monocle Films / Transport

Inside Sweden’s electric flight school

An electric flight school in Sweden is inspiring a future of emission-free aviation. Monocle takes to the sky, tries out the first fully electric plane to be approved for use in Europe and hears how Skellefteå has become a hotbed of green start-ups.


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