Friday. 11/1/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Politics

No end in sight

The US-government shutdown – caused by a spat over Donald Trump’s proposed border wall – is a day away from being the longest ever.

It is bizarre that a policy disagreement can bring the US to a grinding halt – and yet here we are again. The current government shutdown is now tied as the longest in the country’s history; if it continues tomorrow (and that looks likely) it will overtake the 21-day closure that started in 1995 and ended in 1996. Some 800,000 federal staff are unlikely to be paid until the end of the month, while the US media is already awash with stories of public employees struggling to meet mortgage repayments or to cover the cost of their children’s schooling. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration has stopped routine inspections; approval for beer labels has also been halted. So how long is the impasse set to continue? Jacob Parakilas from the UK’s Chatham House think-tank doesn’t believe that the “hold out” will end soon. “I don’t think the Democrats feel any particular pressure to concede to Trump,” he said on The Briefing.

Image: Getty Images

Infrastructure

Good riddance

The end of the road for a Seattle viaduct marks a new beginning for the city’s urban landscape.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct – a 1950s-built freeway that carries 90,000 vehicles each day along Seattle’s downtown waterfront – will shut for good today. Dr Norman Garrick, a transport and planning expert at the University of Connecticut isn’t sorry to see it go: “It separated the city from the water and blighted much of the area around it,” he says. Replacing the viaduct with a $3.3bn (€2.9bn) tunnel, which will open in three weeks, will allow the city to begin a $700m (€608m) renewal of its waterfront filled with parks and public spaces. “Given Seattle’s history of being fairly good at planning, the waterfront will flourish,” says Garrick. So if you’re stuck in traffic in the coming weeks, just remember there’s light at the end of the (shiny new) tunnel.

Image: Rimowa

Retail

Packing a punch

German luggage firm Rimowa latest venture is a new Tokyo shop. How will it handle its baggage?

Launching a shop that’s built to last is rather like putting together a good suitcase that’s designed to do the same – if you happen to be German luggage company Rimowa, that is. The brand’s new flagship store in Ginza, Tokyo, takes inspiration from its cases’ sleek design, using aluminium to deck out the shop’s interior; wood flooring and large lattice structures provide warmth. The space reminds us that retail done right creates a simple platform for its products. Rimowa has also considered the needs of its well-travelled multinational customers: sales staff are fluent in English, Japanese and Chinese, and some will be trained to repair cases that have been damaged in transit.

Image: Alamy

Transport

On the right track

The mayor of Paris is right to ignore detractors as she makes public transport free for children aged up to 11.

Taking children onto public transport can be a pain but Paris’s mayor Anne Hidalgo is hoping to tempt more parents to use the city’s trains and buses. Yesterday she announced that, as of September, the age for children travelling for free will increase from four to 11 years old. The ambition is to ease congestion in the city and to improve air quality – an issue that Paris can no longer ignore following instances of smog choking the city in recent years. Detractors argue that making transport free for children will cut €15m per year from ticket profits but Hidalgo’s move is the right one: the long-term economic cost of a polluted city would be far higher.

Image: Dana Trippe

Dave Keuning

The Monocle Culture Show: The Sessions at Midori House

This year the founding member and guitarist in The Killers, Dave Keuning, is going solo. He chats to Kieron Banerji and plays us a few tracks from his new record ‘Prismism’.

Monocle Films / Iceland

Power pack – driving renewables

A trip to Iceland for a masterclass in sustainable living and a whizz around Audi’s electric car plant in Brussels leaves Monocle Films with a positive vision of the future.

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