Monday. 1/4/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Megan Gibson

Enough is enough

A liberal victory in central Europe seems to be an increasingly rare thing. But this weekend Slovakia celebrated just that as Zuzana Caputova was elected president. A newbie to politics, Caputova is a lawyer and anti-corruption activist – not to mention a breath of fresh, left-wing air in a region that’s increasingly making headlines for its hard-right shift. While the leaders of neighbouring Hungary and Poland have embraced authoritarian views, Caputova campaigned on a platform of justice and rule of law. It’s a tactic that worked; hers was a resounding victory.

While her win is heartening for any champion of liberal values, it’s especially positive for journalists and free-press advocates. Caputova was inspired to run, in part, by the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová in 2018. Kuciak had been investigating political corruption and his death prompted waves of protests by Slovakians incensed with the then government. As an alarming number of western democracies have seen journalists murdered in recent years – from the US to Malta – it’s frankly a relief to see a politician win at the ballot box for essentially saying, enough.

Social media / Global

Computer says no

The uglier side of the internet has crept in amid the holiday snaps, birthday parties and ‘life events’ that Mark Zuckerberg intended for you to share on his social networks Facebook and Instagram. Now, following the Christchurch shooting where the alleged gunman live-streamed the atrocity, Facebook is to block content that praises, supports or represents white nationalism. Users of the site who go looking for such content will also be redirected to a charity intended to combat far-right extremism. Social media is designed to show people content they agree with, whether this measure has a real-world effect on hate crime remains to be seen.

Politics / Ukraine

Comic timing

In 2014 the post-revolutionary hopes of the Ukrainian people were pinned on Petro Poroshenko. But his electoral promise to end the war to the east within two weeks and initiate sweeping pro-EU reforms haven’t quite materialised. Naturally, the people are unimpressed and in this Sunday’s first-round election, they voiced their dissatisfaction. Coming out on top with a clear majority was newcomer Volodmyr Zelenskiy, an actor and comedian who plays a fictitious anti-establishment president in a popular Ukrainian sitcom. While Poroshenko has narrowly beaten former PM Yulia Tymoshenko to make it to the second spot, his chances of winning April’s run-off are uncertain. As the next month unfolds, Ukraine – as well as Russia and the EU – will be scrambling to prepare for an unlikely new leader in this pivotal east European nation.

Diplomacy / Brazil and Israel

Uneasy alliance

Recently minted Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is travelling around the world trying to forge ties with like-minded right-wing leaders. Yesterday he landed in Israel ahead of a meeting there with his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu. During the visit he will try and shore up economic and defence links. The sit-down will require a delicate touch, however. Bolsonaro’s promise to relocate the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem sparked outrage from Palestinian leaders last year and too cosy a relationship with Netanyahu will upset trade partners such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt. Meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister will be glad of some positive optics as he tries to prove that he has international support ahead of elections next Tuesday.

Aviation / Canada

Touchdown

On Sunday, Lufthansa’s state-of-the-art Airbus A350-900 arrived in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport from Europe for the first time. But aside from the jet’s award-winning Economy Class, it reflects the aviation industry’s push towards sustainability. In an industry responsible for 2 per cent of global emissions, the Airbus 350 produces 25 per cent fewer emissions and 25 per cent less kerosene. As air travel continues to expand globally, some smaller plane companies are considering converting their fleet to electric batteries – a huge step forward in combatting climate change. The Airbus 350 is an impressive example of how airlines don’t have to compromise on design, comfort or growth to take steps towards sustainability.

M24 / The Stack

Small but perfectly formed

On The Stack this week it’s all about small-sized publications. They are not just practical but they look pretty good too. We speak to the editors and designers of 502 Bad Gateway, 99 Percent Lifestyle, Matters Journal and Jewish Quarterly.

Film / France

The secret to baking bread

Paris baker Christophe Vasseur runs the successful corner shop Du Pain et des Idées and knows the secret of the perfect loaf.

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