The Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh has gripped a nation and opened a deluge of questions about sexual misconduct, the sort of temperament a potential justice should display and the beer-drinking habits of white male university students. Now everything has shifted to the FBI investigation and the great big elephant in the room: why has the process been so limited in time and scope? The non-criminal investigation was an attempt to please both sides but it’s neither a deep enough probe for Democrats nor likely to clear Kavanaugh’s name, as desired by Republicans. The Senate will probably approve his nomination – bar a last-minute waiver from a clutch of Republican swing senators – at the end of the week. Future justice or not, the debacle is only further entrenching Washington’s bitterly partisan politics.
German chancellor Angela Merkel touched down in Jerusalem yesterday, kicking off two days of meetings with Israeli officials, including prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The countries meet annually but it is thought that Merkel cancelled the 2017 gathering due to Israel’s ongoing occupation of the West Bank. While Netanyahu’s hand in tearing up the Iranian nuclear deal is set to be another point of disagreement, it remains to be seen how critical Merkel will be, says Yossi Mekelberg, professor of international relations at Regent’s University London. “There will be frank exchanges but these are two friendly countries with common economic and security interests.” With dwindling support at home, Chancellor Merkel may be satisfied to focus on the countries’ collective interests and to depart Israel without an international row.
The biggest accolade in Japanese design was awarded yesterday as the winners of the 2018 Good Design Award were announced. To say that the panel of judges, led by fêted product designer Fumie Shibata, had a lot to get through would be an understatement: they chose 1,353 winners from about 5,000 initial entries. These included a fridge from Panasonic, a hotel from Hoshino Resorts and Suzuki Motor Corporation’s revamped Jimny, a 4x4 that first came on the market in 1970. A final 19 – an eclectic line-up that includes Tokyo Tower and Godzilla – were given the Long Life Design award for designs that have endured over time. The range of products featured in the awards reminds us of the importance of design in the everyday as well as in the remarkable.
Today the Paris Motor Show opens in the French capital. While journalists have been quick to draw attention to the fair’s many no-shows (Ford, Opel, Nissan, VW, Fiat Chrysler, Volvo and Bentley are just some that have opted out), the biggest absence is a serious French player in the premium category. While brands such as Renault and Peugeot serve the middle market with great panache, where are the car brands enlisting France’s luxury élan? One answer might lie in DS, the high-end marque of Groupe PSA, which launched as a standalone brand in 2014. It has a way to go before rivalling the likes of BMW or Audi, but the brand has enjoyed a boost from the Élysée: Monsieur Macron chose it to make his first journey through Paris as president last year.
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