Monday. 18/2/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Geopolitics

Chink of light

A meeting between US negotiators and the Taliban could be the first step towards concluding the 17-year Afghanistan war.

The US-led war in Afghanistan has been waged for more than 17 years but the situation might be set to change: today US negotiators will meet Taliban counterparts in a bid to accelerate a diplomatic end to America’s longest military campaign. Today’s summit forms part of a six-nation tour by US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad (pictured), who is hoping to garner support for a ceasefire from countries in the Middle East and Europe. “If more talks at a high level take place in the coming days, governments will make little of it in public,” says Paul Rogers, a professor at the department of peace studies at Bradford University in the UK. “However, in private, all sides will be well pleased for any kind of negotiation.”

Image: Getty Images

Business

Aiming for the stars

Florida has been a hub for US space exploration for decades – but there is more to it than walking on the moon.

The US aerospace industry is flocking to Tallahassee, Florida, today for the 26th annual Florida Space Day. The two-day fair will show off developments in the state’s aerospace capabilities (participants include Lockheed Martin, Boeing and SpaceX) and aims to educate legislators on the industry’s value. Florida has been a Nasa hub since the 1960s but, with the end of the Space Shuttle programme in 2011, the Sunshine State is keen to demonstrate that its pedigree can also be used to produce lucrative defence and civilian applications. The industry directly employs more than 450,000 people and in 2017 contributed $408bn into the global aerospace industry. Though Nasa’s budget rose in 2019, Florida knows that the government can’t always be relied upon. Instead, it must seek private investment to secure its aerospace future.

Image: Getty Images

Politics

Over the line?

Australia’s prime minister faces a battle over asylum seekers – thanks to the public’s changing views.

Australia’s famously stringent approach towards asylum seekers is firmly back on the political agenda after prime minister Scott Morrison’s government lost a vote on its own legislation last week. Karen Middleton, chief political correspondent for The Saturday Paper, says that the public’s attitude towards Australia’s border policies has changed dramatically in recent years – and that the hardline approach has never entirely worked. “There are people languishing on Manus Island and Nauru who have been there for five years,” she says. “They’re in complete limbo and there’s nowhere for them to go.” Current opinion polls make for grim reading for Morrison (pictured) and, with a general election likely to take place in May, this week will prove crucial. He is likely to try to regain his footing by accusing his opponents of being soft on border security. Hard-line politics.

Image: Reuters

Defence

All at sea

Canada’s navy is struggling to recruit sailors. Why? There aren’t any.

The Royal Canadian Air Force is experiencing staffing shortages and now the Royal Canadian Navy has a similar problem: a dearth of sailors. Last week Commodore Steve Waddell, Canada’s director general of naval strategic readiness, revealed that the navy is 10 per cent short of the number of sailors it requires – and 40 per cent short in some parts of the country. There are plenty of pilots and mechanics (they are being lured to commercial opportunities) but the navy is struggling to find would-be sailors. A landmark 2017 defence agenda unveiled by Justin Trudeau’s government aimed to ensure that all branches of the military could undertake multiple missions simultaneously. That goal may well be thwarted if would-be sailors are stuck on dry land.

The Sudanese Spring?

The Foreign Desk

Sudan has been gripped by protests, with some demanding the departure of the president. Sudan’s people have overthrown two military dictators: could Omar al-Bashir be next?

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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