Monday. 22/4/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Michael Clarke

Sri Lanka: is this just the start?

In the immediate aftermath of the Sri Lanka attacks, the scant information we have so far suggests something even more disturbing than the violence itself, appalling though it is. A decade after the brutal end of the country’s civil war, all the signs are that this is the beginning of a new conflict between a hardline Buddhist-Sinhalese government and religiously motivated terrorists who have learned a lot from so-called Islamic State.

It was a well co-ordinated attack and at least two of the explosions were suicide bombers. Plus, the explosions were clearly intended to be deeply sectarian, in that they targeted churches on the most important day in the Christian calendar. They also attacked western tourists in the big hotels of Colombo, harming the national economy via one of its softest targets in the process.

One of the explosions, which took place in a house in the Colombo suburb of Dematagoda, is thought to have come during a police raid. Arrests were made and the government has already claimed that it knows who is responsible. That suggests this is the start of a terrorist campaign that the authorities had some idea they might be facing.

Michael Clarke is a professor of defence studies and the former director-general of Rusi.

Elections / Ukraine

Who’s laughing now?

A comedian-turned-president hardly sounds far-fetched to western voters but in Ukraine it’s a novelty – and a fresh reality. On Sunday comic actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy defeated incumbent Petro Poroshenko by a landslide. The winner bills himself as an outsider and a man of the people, pledging to eradicate corruption and liberate Ukraine from Russian influence. But the message belies a campaign with more showmanship than policy. The 41-year-old avoided journalists and confined his canvassing to patriotic trumpeting via social media. That’s not to say that Poroshenko, an oligarch mired in corruption scandals, necessarily merited re-election (Ukraine can be forgiven for wanting a more democratic face). Still, when the novelty wears off and the rookie president is faced with realpolitik, the country may be in for a rude awakening.

Transport / USA

End of the road?

Previews take place today at one of the most anticipated events in the annual motoring calendar: the New York International Auto Show. However, there will be some notable absences among the showstoppers at this year’s expo. BMW has announced that it will not be in New York this year and it’s the latest in a string of high-profile car-makers opting to eschew the tried-and-tested tradeshow format. If global makers are indeed opting to interact with their audiences in different ways (and endeavouring to control their messaging more tightly than an expo allows) fairs such as this will need to up their game – if not reinvent the wheel entirely.

Politics / Italy

Mayors marginalised

Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini has always made a proud display of using draconian measures when it comes to immigration policy and security. But his latest show of bravado has taken even coalition partners by surprise. A directive he recently put forward allows prefects to take over matters of security – in certain city areas – when they feel that mayors have not acted swiftly enough to ensure that public order is maintained. This applies to petty crimes such as bag-snatching, abusive selling by street traders (often migrants) and drug dealing. Given that much of the internal criticism of Salvini’s time in office has come from left-wing or Five Star Movement mayors around the country, it’s easy to see this as a provocative gesture. As such, mayors would do well to defend their independence.

Media / UK

Familiar face

Did you miss The Face? The style magazine – which had its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, dressed Alexander McQueen as Joan of Arc and was an early fan of Kate Moss – has just been relaunched as theface.com. Then, from September, it will be a quarterly print title published by Wasted Talent, the company that owns music magazines Kerrang! and Mixmag. The Face was famous for its attitude and unselfconscious look at the things that young people were taking a selfconscious look at: themselves. Current stories include illegal raves, a cute/weird Asian stylist and a photo gallery of street style shot at a recent hip-hop gig in London. It could have been written 30 years ago but not in a good way: on current form the rebooted Face isn’t as good as the websites and magazines that copied it and flourished. This could, of course, all be remedied beautifully in print come autumn but for the time being – go and wash your face.

M24 / The Stack  

Nadav Kander, Michael Harvey and Anthony Burrill

On this week’s Stack we speak with photographer Nadav Kander, we look at “The Road Rat”, a new beautiful magazine about cars, and we speak to influential graphic artist Anthony Burrill.

Film / New release

Monocle preview: May issue, 2019

If you think Monocle is looking particularly inviting this month, it’s because it’s our design special. Lights to give your home a glow, property players to get acquainted with and even a bit of Georgian brutalism: all our covered in our latest issue. Come in and have a look around.

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