Wednesday 4 March 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 4/3/2020

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Tomos Lewis

Call it a comeback

For Joe Biden, Super Tuesday turned out to be super indeed. Preliminary results from the 14 states that held their primaries yesterday suggest that the former vice-president has staged a remarkable comeback in the race to secure the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. It follows a landslide win in South Carolina four days ago and will mollify critics who believed that early stumbles would doom his candidacy. "South Carolina started the fire," Fernando Mercado, state director of Biden's campaign in Virginia, told me at an official party in state capital Richmond last night. He called Super Tuesday “the wildfire that's going to make Joe Biden our nominee".

If Democrats wanted a robust and legitimate debate between the progressive and moderate wings of their party, now they have it. Biden is effectively tied with Bernie Sanders, the progressive senator from Vermont, in the delegate count for the nomination. That should calm the nerves of moderate voters, who worried that too many centrist candidates would split the vote and propel Sanders to the nomination by default (a scenario that befell Republicans in 2016 and allowed Donald Trump to rise to the top).

And spare a thought for Michael Bloomberg, whose name appeared on ballot papers for the first time in the cycle yesterday. The billionaire former mayor of New York had staked his entire candidacy, and $500m (€450m) of his own funds, on Super Tuesday success; no other candidate has attempted such a strategy, and it doesn't appear to have paid off. Bloomberg is said to be re-assessing his campaign and his poor showing, fuelled in part by two uninspiring debate performances in recent weeks, surely dooms this most unusual of candidacies.

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy / China and Japan

Friends in need

Chinese president Xi Jinping’s highly anticipated state visit to Japan in early April is expected to be postponed as both countries continue to grapple with coronavirus. The delay will cause disappointment – a Chinese president hasn’t visited Tokyo in more than a decade and the hosts planned to mark the occasion by signing a raft of new deals – but it shouldn’t cause any lasting diplomatic damage. Relations between the old foes continue to warm and Japan has been winning plaudits in China for its early show of support during the ongoing health crisis. Tokyo has kept Japan’s borders open and supplied aid to Beijing, while regional allies such as Russia have been far less neighbourly. “China-Japan relations have maintained a sound momentum of development,” said Yang Jichie, a high-ranking Chinese diplomat, during a meeting with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe last weekend. Symbolic events can be important but practical aid counts for more in a crisis.

Image: Getty Images

Economy / Canada

Walking the line

Protests and blockades have halted much of Canada’s rail system for the past month. And while the cause of the demonstrations has now been shakily resolved – construction has resumed on British Columbia’s Coastal GasLink natural-gas pipeline following a tentative deal struck over the weekend between the Canadian government and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs – what is clear is that prime minister Justin Trudeau has fared badly.

According to a recent Angus Reid poll, only 21 per cent of respondents say that Trudeau has handled the situation well. Environmentalists remain dismayed by his government’s support of natural-resources projects, while opposition conservatives are hammering his initial reluctance to end the blockade and accusing him of endangering the economy. They point to Teck Resources last week abandoning its application to construct a CA$20.6bn (€13.8bn) mine in Alberta. Trudeau will need to get the balance right if he doesn’t want energy issues to dominate his second term.

Image: Shutterstock

Aviation / Portugal

Turbulence ahead

Last week a UK court ruled that plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport were illegal because they violated the country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. It marked the first such ruling of its kind – and it’s having ramifications. The spotlight is now falling on Lisbon’s proposed new airport, which has been in the planning for some 50 years. Supporters deem it necessary because of capacity concerns at the current airport, which is only 7km from the city centre. Portugal’s environment agency recently greenlit the new location (a former military base) on the south bank of the Tagus river. However, opposition and environmental critics are now demanding a further review in light of the government’s climate goals. It should serve as a lesson for infrastructure planners: be extra careful in making your case going forward. Thanks to the UK, environmentalists have a new arrow in their quiver.

Design / Japan

Action figures

Last week the organising committee of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games revealed a set of 73 moving pictograms, which serve as clearly distinguishable icons for each sport. The pictograms, designed by signage specialist Masaaki Hiromura and animated by motion designer Kota Iguchi, are made up of dark blue lines and shapes against a white background. They offer a quick display of motion for everything from archery to Paralympic tennis. The Japanese duo designed more than 50 pictograms for the 33 Olympic sports and 23 for the 22 Paralympic sports (some have more than one representation). This is the first time that animated icons have been used in the Games. Fittingly, the first static icons were adopted for the Tokyo Games in 1964. Let’s see whether the world follows suit again for the next Olympics, which is to be held in Paris in 2024.

Image: William Murphy

M24 / Food Neighbourhoods

Newmarket, Dublin 8

A culinary tour through Dublin’s Newmarket, one of the capital’s most exciting neighbourhoods.

Monocle Films / Finland

Icebreakers at work

Throughout the long Finnish winter, the country’s ports are kept open by a small but determined fleet of icebreakers. Monocle Films hops on board to see how it’s done.


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