Thursday. 30/4/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Tomos Lewis

Turning of the tide

Donald Trump (pictured) said on Monday that he “can’t imagine why” the emergency switchboards at some city and state offices across the US lit up last weekend with questions from the public about the safety of ingesting household cleaning products as a remedy for coronavirus. The president, of course, made that horrifying suggestion – apparently off the cuff – at a White House press briefing last week. Among those who know full well why his comments sowed confusion? The mayors and governors whose offices took those phone calls.

Many of these governors are Republicans who are increasingly singing from a different hymn sheet than the White House. Maryland governor Larry Hogan, who told a Sunday talk show that hundreds of people had called in, pressed the need for facts – not whimsy – during this pandemic. Ohio governor Mike DeWine has seen his popularity soar thanks to his own rigid, clear and consistent approach over the course of the outbreak.

A major criticism of the Republican party during Trump’s first term is that it has largely cleaved itself to the whims of its unorthodox leader. The Mueller enquiry into Russian meddling, the impeachment process and the controversial appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court were all decided along party lines. This has frustrated Democrats’ attempts to hold the president to account. But if more Republican figures – like those who have had to spend their time dispelling the myth of disinfectant-as-medicine – see Trump as a liability rather than electoral gold, their loyalty could soften. And that would take with it the small number of votes that helped the president secure the White House in the first place.

Health / Switzerland

Proceed with care

While many businesses are looking on anxiously to see how the pandemic will impact their future, some larger organisations will play a role in determining it. “I clearly recognise that our actions also shape how the government thinks about the pace of what they are doing,” Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis told Monocle 24’s The Briefing. Novartis has teamed up with other companies and research institutes to explore treatments for coronavirus. And although the prospects for a vaccine have long been a focus of this pandemic, patience is key. After all, a vaccine carries far greater risks because it must be administered to an otherwise healthy population. “Despite the three million-plus confirmed cases around the world, there are more than seven billion people who are not infected,” says Narasimhan. “Even a relatively small side effect could have negative consequences from a benefit-risk standpoint. We have to be humble in terms of our expectations.”

Design / Global

Home delivery

As urban centres have emptied due to stay-at-home orders, the situation for cities’ homeless has been brought into focus. While some of these vulnerable populations – including an estimated 550,000 in the US alone – might have been moved to temporary accommodation in hotels or public spaces such as San Diego Convention Center (pictured) for now, the question remains about what action will be taken once life starts to return to normal. Pondering that question in the US is LA-based David Hart, CEO of architecture firm Steinberg Hart, who sees housing as a human right and believes that building modular structures at scale could be one way to solve the problem. “We have to cut down some of the red tape that keeps us from being able to find and build on a site for workforce, affordable or permanent supportive housing,” he says.

Media / Global

Appointment viewing

Every Saturday for “The Interrogator” in the Monocle Weekend Edition, we ask our interviewee whether they watch a nightly newscast. For the past year most have said that they tend to get their headlines elsewhere. Could our subjects have changed their habits in the past few weeks? Around the world the solid, stable nightly newscast is having a massive comeback – and not a moment too soon. In the US, ABC’s World News Tonight (hosted by David Muir, pictured) has viewer numbers that almost resemble its golden years when Peter Jennings was at the anchor desk. Across the Atlantic in Hamburg, ARD’s Tagesschau is pulling in nearly 15 million viewers for its sober yet sharp 20.00 bulletin. Getting everyone around the TV for a bit of family viewing can only be a good thing as these are generally trusted sources that are well financed and create a common dialogue at a time when there’s false chatter and menacing influence online from the likes of Russia and China. Monocle has long toyed with the idea of a slick 20-minute nightly news show. Could now be the time?

Arts / UK

Creative solution

London’s Courtauld Institute of Art, which is based in Somerset House (pictured), is kicking off its new month-long series, Open Courtauld Hour, tonight. The first hour-long live-stream panel discussion will be hosted by Dr Alixe Bovey, the institute’s head of research, who knows a thing or two about why the need to create art has prevailed throughout the ages – from plagues to the present. “It’s a very profound impulse in humans to create these images. The fact is that this lockdown is giving people a lot more space to do that,” says Bovey. Her panel discussion on art in isolation begins at 20.05 BST today. Due to its popularity, the talk is fully booked but will be posted online after completion. Be sure to register early for next Thursday’s discussion on art and wellbeing if you want to join the live version.

M24 / Food Neighbourhoods

Recipe edition, Jeremy Chan

Jeremy Chan, co-founder and head chef at London’s Ikoyi restaurant, shares one of his all-time favourite recipes.

Monocle Films / Global

Copenhagen: healthy city growth

The concept of kolonihave, a blissful combination of an allotment and a summer house, has shaped Danish cities since the late 17th century. Today avid growers convene in these colonies to find a peaceful place to commune with nature – and a community of diverse characters.

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