Thursday. 24/1/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy

Piggy in the middle

The Huawei affair has left Canada trying to balance the demands of two world powers.

Canada has traditionally been a mild-mannered exponent of calm when it comes to foreign relations but in recent months it has been embroiled in more diplomatic rows than usual. The latest sees it uncomfortably sandwiched between the demands of the US and China over the extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. The finance chief is currently being held in Canadian custody at the request of the US but the Department of Justice wants to extradite her to stand trial for breaching sanctions on Iran – a request that China has vehemently opposed. Ottawa’s efforts to cultivate trade ties with China have been strained by the affair and the rancour of the Nafta-renegotiation process has eroded some of the goodwill Canada once enjoyed with its southern neighbour. Keeping good relations with both global superpowers has never been more difficult.

Image: Getty Images

Transport

Use your noodle

Would you change your working hours for free food? Tokyo is hoping commuters will do just that and ease the squeeze on the city’s Metro.

The early-morning commute in Tokyo is already a crush and, with the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics on the way, rush hour is expected to get even more crowded. To alleviate the crush, Tokyo Metro has launched a campaign to incentivise passengers to avoid peak times. The Tozai Line, which is among the city’s busiest, is trying to attract early birds with the offer of free food. If passengers sign up to the scheme and travel early on 10 consecutive days, they will receive a voucher for a free bowl of noodles or tempura. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been running its own scheme to ease overcrowding by encouraging “Jisa Biz” or flexi-time working. This week it announced a new flexi-time drive, with 980 companies taking part. The Tozai Line is also adding two trains on weekdays during early hours. As long as workers are allowed to leave early, staggering the working day seems like a bright idea.

Image: Getty Images

Politics

Spinning a good yarn

Savvy Democrats in the US are gearing up for the 2020 presidential election by using every trick in the book.

In US politics, if you’re considering a presidential bid you need to have written a book. With the midterms out of the way, Democrats are assembling on the 2020 starting blocks in what promises to be a packed primary. A quick glance around Barnes & Noble tells you who is serious about getting the top job: Texan Latino Julián Castro – once tipped as a VP to Hillary Clinton – has published An Unlikely Journey, while California senator Kamala Harris’s autobiography has the schmaltzily patriotic title The Truths we Hold: An American Journey. As for the others? Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden have all published since 2016 and, last year, Bernie Sanders produced the predictably insurrectionist title Where we go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance. Presidential PR, it seems, is done by the book.

Design

Shop, look and listen

As an Italian design brand opens a flagship store in London, the UK’s politicians would do well to consider this flourishing industry during Brexit talks.

If there is fear among Italy’s top design brands about an impending Brexit, it’s certainly not showing at Molteni&C Dada’s impressive new flagship in London. The welcoming space by respected Belgian architect Vincent van Duysen – who also happens to be the brand’s creative director – draws upon a wealth of luxurious materials, such as Korean walnut, to create a refined environment for the Italian-made furniture that’s on show. High-end design companies continue to invest in bricks-and-mortar spaces in the UK capital due to the city’s concentration of interior design and major international architecture practices – a still-growing potential client base for furniture companies. We’d advise some of the UK’s politicians to make their way down to Brompton Road – a vibrant street purveying both international and home-grown design – to size up a tiny facet of the nation’s blooming creative economy that a poor Brexit deal could severely damage.

Mrs Wordsmith

The Entrepreneurs

Sofia Fenichell is founder and CEO of Mrs Wordsmith, an illustrated children’s book series focusing on words that, according to data scientists, will help children succeed academically. The Storyteller’s Illustrated Dictionary is an Amazon bestseller and the company recently raised $11m (€9.7m) from investors to expand into the US and China, with plans to create a digital component and cover different languages.

Monocle Films / Zürich

My life as a tram

Loved by its loyal passengers, Zürich’s trams are not only punctual but also contribute to the city’s identity. Hop on board as we introduce you to the fleet that makes this Swiss city tick.

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