Monday 28 August 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 28/8/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Christopher Cermak

Talking heads

US presidential hopeful Nikki Haley went straight to the point last week when she told her Republican rivals in a presidential debate that backing Vladimir Putin over Ukraine meant “choosing a murderer over a pro-American country”. A former ambassador to the UN, Haley (pictured, on right) pointed out that her Russian counterpart died during her time in the post. There has been no suggestion to date that Vitaly Churkin’s sudden death in 2017 was caused by anything other than a heart attack but it clearly left Haley suspicious.

Churkin’s successor at the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, aggressively toes the Putin line. During last week’s Security Council meeting on Ukraine, which marked the 32nd anniversary of the country’s independence, Nebenzya said that he could not congratulate the country because it is controlled by what he has described as a Russophobic, neo-Nazi regime. Ukraine’s UN ambassador, on the other hand, cited the Nuremberg trials and suggested that there was a place in prison, or hell, reserved for diplomats who backed their regime’s murderous actions. Most other UN ambassadors lined up to condemn Russia, with a few notable exceptions.

In the US, there is increasing discussion of whether support for Ukraine will soften, even as Joe Biden continues to ramp it up. The Pentagon recently said that Ukrainians will receive training on F-16 fighter jets starting in October and, in coming weeks, Congress will have to vote on a Biden administration request for an additional $24bn (€22.2bn) in funding for Ukraine. Some 18 months in, with the war in danger of reaching a stalemate, such support will need to continue into next year and probably beyond.

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy have suggested that they would pull US resources. They should consider listening to Thursday’s UN debate to see which countries they are aligning with. Republicans need voices such as Nikki Haley’s to make the case that this matters for US interests, whether she is right about Churkin’s death or not.

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

Image: Getty Images

Environment / Canada

Force of nature

Canada has pledged CA$200m (€136m) to a new global-biodiversity fund after a meeting of 185 environmental leaders took place in Vancouver. As wildfires rage in British Columbia, underscoring threats to the natural world, delegates are hashing out how to turn the aspirational targets of last year’s landmark agreement – inked during the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montréal last year – into reality.

With a hefty pledge on the fund’s ratification day, Ottawa appears to be positioning itself as an environmental superpower. “It’s not a branding exercise,” Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s foreign development minister, tells The Monocle Minute. “It’s about making sure that we’re doing our part to encourage others to take similar measures that have an effect on the world.”

Image: Alamy

Tourism / China

Growth strategy

In the pre-pandemic days of 2019, a record 9.5 million Chinese people visited Japan, accounting for a third of all tourism to the country. While travellers from other countries have been flocking to Japan this year, mainland Chinese tour groups, known to be bigger spenders, have been absent. Now, belatedly, Chinese government restrictions have been lifted and tours to Japan are resuming. But retailers hoping for the return of explosive Chinese spending (known in Japanese as bakugai) might be disappointed.

Because of the country’s economic sluggishness, its tourists are less likely to splash the cash. Japan is also facing a labour shortage in its hospitality sector, which could put the brakes on growth. The nation’s economy, however, grew by more than 6 per cent from April to June, fuelled largely by car exports and inbound travel. Department stores, hotels and restaurants will be hoping that tour groups will eventually add to that figure.

Image: Henrik Håkansson

Culture / Italy

Float your boat

While outdoor cinemas are a popular summer attraction, Venice offers the unconventional experience of enjoying the silver screen on a boat. The fourth edition of “Floating Cinema – Unknown Waters” is currently running in the Giudecca Lagoon until 10 September. Moviegoers are able to watch films projected on a floating screen from the comfort of their own vessel or chairs along nearby pontoons.

The line-up includes literary talks, films and live performances that explore the themes of the superhuman and the beyond. “The event was born from the desire to take the audience out of the ordinary into a surreal atmosphere,” Paolo Rosso, the project’s co-founder, tells The Monocle Minute. “Over the years, we have encouraged musical performances alongside films,” he says. “The intimacy of the stage is touching. This time, we reflect on the impact of humans on the planet through abstract and dreamy works.”

Fashion / UK

Supply and demand

Libby Page is market director at fashion retailer Net-a-Porter. Her role is to ensure that the company’s purchases align with its editorial and marketing ambitions. Here, she tells us about how she travels and how brands have responded to changing fashion itineraries.

Your work involves a lot of travel. What’s your packing strategy?
If you add it all up, I travel for about six months a year. I attend various international and lesser-known fashion weeks and take the odd business trip to Milan or Stockholm. But packing is part of my job description. The size of the suitcase always depends on how long the trip is and I always bring a carry-on, even if it’s just a small case or a weekender bag. I like to pack a white cotton dress, simple flip-flops and a very light jacket, such as a linen blazer.

What about accessories that are smart enough for meeting clients in the day but can be styled differently in the evening?
I have an oversized scarf-sarong that folds up into a tiny square. You can wear it as a dress or a top – and even to the beach.

How have brands responded to changing travel itineraries over the past five years?
They have increased their category mix at events that their customers travel to. They are seeking to appeal to a wider customer base and want to add anything that they are missing, from swimwear to luggage.

For the full interview with Libby Page, listen to the latest episode of ‘The Concierge’, our travel show featuring tips, tricks and recommendations from around the world, on Monocle Radio.

Image: Alamy

Monocle Radio / The Foreign Desk

Guatemala’s new president

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Monocle Films / Culture

Meet the photographers: Rena Effendi

In our latest film series, we meet and celebrate some of the people behind our iconic photography reportage. In our first episode Istanbul-based photographer Rena Effendi talks about her process, why she shoots on film and her assignment to Libya in 2021. She had never been to Tripoli before but was soon won over and captured a mesmerising mix of full-blown glamour, oddness and a perhaps unexpected order and calmness. Discover more with The Monocle Book of Photography, which is available to buy today.


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