Wednesday. 31/7/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Josh Fehnert

Law unto themselves?

The warm day of the Fête de la Musique celebrations across France began like many in late June. But by 04.30 in Nantes – long after the music was supposed to stop – police charged in to disperse the remaining revellers and a clash ensued. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, and unsheathed tasers to force the recalcitrant few from Quai Wilson. In the melee, 15 people ended up in the River Loire; one, teaching assistant Steve Maia Caniço, is believed to have drowned.

More than a month later, posters emblazoned with the question “Où est Steve?” still festoon Nantes; there was also a 700-person march against police brutality there last weekend. Yesterday a body believed to be Caniço’s was finally pulled from the water. The French public can now move from asking where he is to why he died but the boys in blue will have an awkward time answering that question.

This isn’t the first time that the French police’s heavy-handedness has been called into question on Emmanuel Macron’s watch. At a time when polling around the world shows that trust in politicians is plummeting – not least in Hong Kong – the police should police themselves ever more carefully if they want to preserve an increasingly dog-eared social contract.

Governance / Hong Kong

Call to action

Civil servants in Hong Kong will call on chief executive Carrie Lam to address protesters’ demands during a rally planned for Friday. This rare anti-government action by the city’s administrators comes in the wake of police inaction as suspected Triad gangs attacked demonstrators. The government has so far rejected calls for an independent inquiry into this incident. Friday’s protest will deliver a personal blow to the chief executive: Lam spent her entire career as a civil servant before heading up the service until 2017. Her former colleagues will be hoping she does a better job of listening to the public sector than she does to large sections of the public.

Aviation / France & the US

Flying high

Airbus reports its first-half earnings this morning; the announcement will be closely watched for confirmation that it has officially ended US rival Boeing’s eight-year reign as the world’s biggest planemaker. The European aviation giant, whose head office is in Toulouse, beat analysts’ forecasts in the first quarter. Thanks to strong sales of its A320neo, it has already delivered at least 150 more planes this year than Boeing, which is facing an ongoing struggle over the grounding of its 737 Max planes following two deadly crashes. New Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, who took over in April, has played down suggestions that the company could benefit from the crisis. But until Boeing gets the all clear, he must feel like he’s walking on air.

Transport / Canada

Power trip

British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, has unveiled ambitious proposals to make an entire fleet of buses electric by 2040. The provincial government intends to replace all 1,300 buses with low-emission vehicles, while adding 350 to its inventory. It’s a bold move: several Canadian cities, including Montréal and Toronto, are already piloting electric vehicles in their fleets. But by rolling out low-emission buses across the entire province, large parts of which are rural and mountainous, British Columbia is testing the scale at which electric technology can be implemented. Other transport bodies should note the province’s proposals closely.

Urbanism / Madrid

Plodding progress

Madrid’s city council has given the go-ahead to Nuevo Norte, a vast redevelopment project that is anticipated to transform a huge swathe of neglected land into gleaming offices, homes and parks. The €7.3bn development will be the biggest of its kind in Europe and is expected to create about 250,000 new jobs in the city. It’s been a long time coming: since the idea was first floated in 1993 it has suffered from a series of setbacks, with plans repeatedly being rejected by city hall. Now that developer Distrito Castellana Norte has struck a deal with the city, building is expected to start in 2020. Construction will take about 24 years to complete – so that’s roughly the same amount of time it took the city to deliberate on the plans.

M24 / The Menu: Food Neighbourhoods

Salvador, Bahia

Tastemakers and bartenders in Bahia’s state capital Salvador are changing the face of Brazil’s national drink, cachaça. Monocle’s Lucinda Elliott finds out how perceptions of the spirit are changing at home and abroad.

Film / Greece

Athens: The Monocle Travel Guide

The weekly pilgrimage to a ‘laiki agora’ is at the heart of Greek lifestyle. To celebrate the launch of our latest book, Monocle Films takes stock at one of its favourite Athenian food markets.

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