Wednesday. 3/4/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Peter Firth

Under pressure

In February Donald Trump caused alarm by pulling the US out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia. The deal states that neither nation is to own land-based long-range missile launchers. Trump claimed that Russia had been in breach of the rule for years with the development of its land-based Novator 9M729 missiles which could target western nations.

The Kremlin responded to Trump’s claim by declaring that it was also to pull out of the deal. There was alarm at these moves in Germany but yesterday chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed that she stood with the US on the matter. It’s less about forging ties with the US, however, and more about putting pressure on the Kremlin, according to Quentin Peel, associate fellow with the Europe programme at Chatham House: “It’s about genuine German concern,” he says. “The treaty used to protect Central Europe from two belligerents. So this is a very direct concern for Germany.”

Geopolitics / North Macedonia & Greece

Get the ball rolling

When North Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev took office about two years ago, the country’s longstanding dispute with neighbouring Greece seemed irresolvable. But yesterday Zaev was all smiles when Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras (both pictured, Tsipras on left) stopped by; it was the first visit of its kind since North Macedonia’s independence in 1991. That said, there is pressure on the pair to deliver something of more substance than bonhomie during this meeting. The Prespa agreement signed last summer (which emphasised the inclusion of “North” in North Macedonia’s name) ended the disagreement in an official capacity but left some in the Balkan country feeling aggrieved. Handily the two countries are today set to sign an agreement that would see Greece expedite EU membership talks for North Macedonia.

Politics / Solomon Islands

Fair-weather friend

Today voters in the Solomon Islands go to the polls to elect a new government. It’ll be a complex affair: the country has six major islands, as well as 900 smaller ones and a fragmented political sphere to match (it’s only held a majority government once, briefly in 1989). As 13 parties compete for seats in parliament, the race will be watched closely by Taipei and Beijing. Since 1983 the Solomon Islands have been a strategic Pacific ally to Taiwan. Now there are calls from political figures across the country to switch allegiance to China in pursuit of the economic and diplomatic gains that aligning with Beijing could bring. If this happens there are fears of a domino effect as other Pacific nations follow suit.

Transport / Canada

Hyperloopy idea?

Transport Canada – the government body regulating transportation – is trying to decide whether hyperloop technology presents a workable mobility solution or is the stuff of science fiction. The system, which sends humans hurtling through sealed tubes, would theoretically slash the travel time from Toronto to Vancouver to just three hours (it currently takes five by air). But there are no hyperloop systems operating anywhere in the world, so can it be viable? It might be more sensible for Transport Canada to start by building a high-speed rail network. For decades Japan and Europe have proven their worth – maybe it’s time Canada played catch-up rather than leapfrog.

Media / Global

True professionals

Fake news is perhaps the biggest threat to democracy in the 21st century. But there are everyday tactics that news organisations and journalists can employ to mitigate the damage done by fabrications – at least that was the consensus on the final day of Radiodays Europe as it wrapped up yesterday. Investigative reporter Jessikka Aro, who in 2014 unearthed the first Russian ‘troll factory’ in St Petersburg, told The Globalist it is about reaching new audiences and explaining the process behind reporting. “We as journalists need to reconnect with the most challenging audiences and try to have them understand our practices, on what kind of rules journalism is based and that there is no conspiracy in the media.”

M24 / Monocle On Design

Why craft matters

Hotelier and textile designer Kit Kemp discusses her winsome new book. Plus: the intersection of craft and utility at the inaugural Harewood House biennial and the opening of retailer Galeries Lafayette’s latest space in Paris.

Film / Design

Jordan's creative scene

There's a budding entrepreneurial scene in Amman, Jordan's charming capital. We profile the young people who are making things happen, whether it's by starting design studios, cafés, galleries or small businesses.

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