Monday 17 June 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 17/6/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy

Opinion / Rhys James

Find your voice

The Welsh national anthem’s spine-tingling finale – “O! Bydded i'r hen iaith barhau!” (“Oh! May the old language endure”) – has been something of an unofficial rallying cry for language activists for more than a century. Its inclusion is deliberate and demonstrates the importance that the vernacular plays in the country’s national identity. As one of the oldest surviving tongues in Europe, Cymraeg has withstood the linguistic changes that were brought by both the country’s Roman and English conquerors and rapid industrialisation in the 19th century.

Now the language is enjoying something of a renaissance. It is partly driven by a younger generation that is confident in its own skin and it is increasingly common for children from English-speaking homes to attend Welsh-medium schools across the country. Since 2017 the Welsh government has been implementing ambitious plans to boost the number of Welsh speakers to one million by 2050. It would be no small task in a corner of the UK where English still dominates and it should be applauded. Indeed, nationalism in Europe can take many ugly forms but the Welsh language is a great advertisement for the civility of knowing where you’re from and what you’re about.

Image: Getty Images

Aviation / Paris

Wing and a prayer

It’s chocks away for the Paris International Air Show today and, while the skies above Le Bourget will roar with new and tweaked offerings, aerospace manufacturers will be praying for plenty of business cut-and-thrust on the apron below. This year has not been much fun for the big two: Airbus has seen orders for new planes beaten by cancellations from cautious airlines, while Boeing’s fatal woes over its 737 Max have been well documented (the model is grounded while the US manufacturer investigates faults). Paris is a show though, so both firms will want to save up some good news to announce this week while the world watches; Airbus is likely to launch its A321 XLR and Boeing will be closer to parading its much anticipated 797. One thing’s for sure: in this buyers’ market, the manufacturers’ sales teams will be practising their toothiest smiles in hotel mirrors across northern Paris this morning.

Image: Shutterstock

Politics / Canada

Woman of the world

Canada’s foreign service has a new ambassador – but Jacqueline O’Neill’s remit won’t be geographical. As the country’s first ambassador for women, peace and security, her job will be to further gender equality and girls’ education around the world. Announced by Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland last year, the new position will promote what prime minister Justin Trudeau’s government has described as its feminist foreign-policy agenda. The idea is a noble one but some will question the timing. The government is unveiling a raft of eye-catching and PR-able policies ahead of the general election in October. Several opinion polls suggest that support for Trudeau is wobbling among many corners of the electorate – particularly women, who have been critical of his handling of the SNC-Lavalin scandal earlier this year. If Canada’s ambassador for women, peace and security is a portfolio that is given teeth (and not treated as a headline-grabbing pre-election gesture) then it may well be a novel and worthwhile approach to foreign policy.

Image: Getty Images

Business / Japan

Seat at the table

Uber’s labour disputes are going global and Japan is the latest country to raise questions about the company’s employment practices. Although Uber’s ride-hailing business has never gained traction in Japan – the country’s taxi industry has so far seen it off – its food-delivery service is becoming more visible. Uber Eats workers puffing up hills with huge insulated bags strapped to their backs and on rented electric bikes are an increasingly common sight. Now the workers are planning to form a union to tackle what they deem to be unfair treatment – namely Uber’s insistence that its “staff” are independent contractors rather than employees. Critics say that since Uber pays no social-insurance contributions for its workers, delivery riders will be left without any compensation or benefits if they have an accident. The first gathering of Uber Eats staff was organised by the Japan Community Union Federation last week; with Uber Eats operating in 10 cities in Japan with 15,000 riders, the union could become a sizeable force.

Image: Getty Images

Technology / Germany

High five

Germany’s fevered frequency auction for 5G bandwidth is over, offering clues to all our connected near futures. The scramble lasted three months, with 497 rounds of bidding, and came to a pricey close at a total of €6.5bn. Deutsche Telekom splashed out the most with €2.2bn, Vodafone spent €1.9bn, Telefónica €1.4bn and market entrant Drillisch €1.1bn. But is it worth it? “5G is a game-changer, allowing new applications that couldn’t have been done under 4G,” says Mischa Dohler, professor of wireless communications at King’s College London. Germany’s spectrum auction was more highly valued than its European counterparts but it has promised quicker data transfers and high-speed coverage for 98 per cent of households by 2022. It also offers the potential for hi-tech advancements, such as self-driving cars (careful what you wish for) and wearable fitness devices that can track your health in real time. Dohler feels that society will eventually reap the rewards. “Studies show that connectivity data rate is proportional to GDP and happiness, improving overall economic and social benefits.” Gee up, indeed.

M24 / The Menu

South Africa’s culinary star

How South African chef Kobus van der Merwe made his restaurant Wolfgat one of the most talked-about dining spots in the world. Plus: Slovenia’s gin revolution and a Japanese exhibition on fermentation.

Monocle Films / Global

Artisanal ice cream

In an ode to summertime, Monocle films hits the road to sample artisanal ice-cream makers with a difference. In Denmark, Japan and Canada we meet the innovators challenging taste buds one scoop at a time.


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