Wednesday. 13/3/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

Final words

Marie Colvin, James Foley, Daniel Pearl, Jamal Khashoggi, Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros: just a few of the 1,337 journalists killed in the line of duty since 1992. All people who wanted to tell stories from places in conflict but did not want to die for their cause. Alas, snipers, assassins and embassy officials had other ideas. Today an important book is published: The Last Column. It contains the final dispatches from 24 journalists before they were slain. The project has been produced with the Committee to Protect Journalists and the help of numerous media organisations.

The initial run of 2,000 books is not for sale (although you can see a copy here) but will be shown in key places to raise awareness. We are honoured to say that in the coming days that will include all Monocle shops.

Although some may shout “fake news” from their positions of power, reporters still risk everything to find truths. The Last Column celebrates their work and we must all be thankful for their sacrifices. In an age of information excess, they cut through with stories that would otherwise never be told.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / UK

Come what may

British MPs have rejected prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit proposals for a second time, compounding the disarray over when, how and even if the UK will leave the European Union. Last night’s defeat means that two further votes will now take place at Westminster this week and that Brexit itself will almost certainly be delayed. Tonight MPs will vote on whether to reject the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal. Unusually for an issue of this magnitude, fearing further splits in her party, May has given Conservative MPs a free vote on the issue – meaning individual MPs can vote as they wish rather than toe the party line. If that motion passes, as expected, MPs will then vote on Thursday on whether to request an extension to Article 50 – the mechanism by which an EU-member state can leave the bloc. Even if that second vote passes (again, as expected) an extension isn’t guaranteed: Brussels will demand clarity on what the UK will use an extension for. More circuitous rancour from a dysfunctional House of Commons is not something, understandably, that the EU’s remaining 27 member states will tolerate. To some, this week’s votes, despite their acrimony, mark a tip-toe forward to some kind of conclusion. But for British and many EU businesses who have been forced into plotting their economic futures effectively blindfolded, there is no good news here. And that cannot be allowed to continue for much longer.

Image: Shutterstock

Infrastructure / Italy and China

Road to ruin?

Italy could become the first member of the G7 to officially sign up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative – an infrastructure-driven masterplan to revive land and maritime trade routes between Asia and Europe. Prime minister Giuseppe Conte’s call this week for closer co-operation with Beijing comes ahead of an expected visit to Rome next week by Chinese president Xi Jinping. While previous Italian leaders have made similar statements, signing a formal agreement now would prove controversial: Conte would be contradicting advice from his own foreign ministry. Moreover it comes against a backdrop of heightened tensions between China and two of Italy’s fellow G7 members: Canada and the US. Beijing is also facing mounting criticism that Asian infrastructure projects being built as part of the initiative are a “debt trap” for impoverished host nations, such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka. After emerging from one debt crisis, Italy should be in no rush to embrace another.

Image: Getty Images

Media / USA

Anchors away

The role of the US news anchor has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, particularly as a raft of high-profile sackings in the wake of the #MeToo movement eroded viewer sentiment towards some of the country’s most trusted presenters. CBS News, however, is viewing the change in attitudes as an opportunity to refresh the faces that front its coverage under president Susan Zirinsky, the first woman to occupy the position. It is reportedly locked in contract negotiations with two high-profile female journalists. One is Gayle King, the host of the network’s This Morning newscast, whose profile has soared since her recent interview with R Kelly, a popstar facing allegations of sexual abuse. The other, Ann Curry, has legions of admirers and her departure from NBC News in 2012 is still a source of consternation (some claim that her Asian heritage had a bearing on her dismissal). CBS News might be onto something: in fractious times, television news not only needs friendly faces but also ones that viewers can trust.

Image: Alamy

Urbanism / Marseille

For the greater good?

Marseille has long struggled from social inequality, high levels of immigration and high unemployment. Alas, the city’s plans for an urban refresh don’t seem to do anything to address these pressing issues. The Provençal city is proposing a €60m investment in the city centre that would involve pedestrianising the area around the old port, the planting of 450 trees and measures to push parking out of the city centre. The changes – a swathe of which are set for completion by the end of summer – will certainly beautify the Mediterranean stop-off for the benefit of tourists. The real rub, however, is whether this in turn will work for the people who call the city home.

M24 / The Stack

‘The Gentlewoman’

We speak with Penny Martin, editor of ‘The Gentlewoman’, about the latest issue with a double cover featuring artist Cindy Sherman.

Film / Finland

Icebreakers: life on board

Many seamen see icebreaking as a career pinnacle. We peek into the snug cabins, well-kitted kitchen and memorabilia-filled gym to see what serving on icebreaker ‘Kontio’ is really like.

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