Friday. 12/2/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Josh Fehnert

Catch-all terms

Trawlers of the news might have heard the rather fishy tale that those slippery Brits are rebranding their seafood to try and swell sales at home. It might seem simple (dare I say cynical?) to just rebadge your catch but such sleights of hand have netted gains in the past. In the late 1990s the redubbing of the unlovely “pilchard” as the new-and-improved “Cornish sardine” saw sales soar and new customers flock like famished seagulls.

With this in mind – and concerns about exports and trade with the EU still simmering – two of the species that are most often shipped off to Europe will be given tasty new titles back in Blighty. It was announced this week that the less-than-fetchingly named megrim (also known as the “whiff”) will henceforth be known as the “Cornish sole”, while the spider crab is set to be upgraded to “Cornish king crab”. Good news if you’re a Cornish fisherman; a mixed blessing if you’re a left-eyed flatfish.

So far the Brexit deal seems more kipper than keeper to many British fishermen but the disruptions could be offset by a growing local appetite. The withdrawal deal has rocked the boat but also created a chance to celebrate regional produce, seek greater self-sufficiency and trim our supply chains. Well, that’s nothing to be crabby about.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Myanmar

Lessons to learn

The Biden administration’s imposition of sanctions in response to Myanmar’s recent coup lays down a marker that the US will no longer tolerate affronts to democracy. And yet it’s questionable whether the sanctions, which include export controls and freezing the military’s access to finances in the US, will have any noticeable impact. The key to any hopes of overturning Myanmar’s coup inevitably lies with China, which has shown little interest in punishing Myanmar’s generals or disrupting a growing economic relationship. It should also be noted that the list of challenges to US-China ties is long. So long, in fact, that Myanmar was not among the topics in a readout of Biden’s first call with Xi Jinping this week. Former diplomat Lewis Lukens says that the US State Department’s next step is likely to involve pushing for a bigger global coalition to confront Myanmar – a coalition that just might convince China to join as well.

For more on Myanmar, listen to yesterday’s Briefing with Lewis Lukens and today’s Globalist on Monocle 24.

Image: Alamy

Media / France

Sphere of influence

The Lagardère publishing group, which counts former French president Nicolas Sarkozy among its supervisory board members, has long been the subject of speculation. Owner of emblematic titles such as Paris Match and radio station Europe 1, the publisher’s main investors – Vincent Bolloré, also the largest shareholder in media giant Vivendi, and LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault – are often the subject of interest.

Now owner Arnaud Lagardère reportedly wants to offload assets and focus on the group’s airport retail (Lagardère and Monocle are partners at our shop in Hong Kong International Airport) and publishing arm Hachette. Bolloré’s effort to buy Europe 1 a year ago was blocked by Arnault and Lagardère but changing times (and the radio station’s continued losses) mean that it could soon be sanctioned. Arnault, meanwhile, is apparently interested in acquiring Paris Match and Le Journal du Dimanche. With LVMH already owning Les Echos and Le Parisien, expect a heated national debate over mergers and the concentration of media power – especially with the 2022 presidential elections looming.

Image: Alamy

F&B / Australia

Good nightlife

Sydney’s nightlife will look substantially different in the wee hours from 8 March as, for the first time in seven years, its pubs, bars, nightclubs and music venues will be able to admit patrons after 01.30. New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian announced this week that the controversial lockout laws, which prohibited entry to venues after 01.30 in a bid to quell alcohol-fuelled violence, will finally be scrapped. Patrons will be treated as adults again too: a late-night negroni can be poured into a glass rather than a plastic cup. The move has been welcomed by business owners, hospitality workers, musicians and performers, many of whose livelihoods were hamstrung by the laws. Residents should also celebrate Sydney’s opportunity to reclaim its status as one of the world’s premier nightlife destinations. “Global cities don’t tell people when to go to sleep,” says state MP Alex Greenwich. “They help them have a fun and safe night.” We’ll drink to that.

Image: Getty Images

Urbanism / Europe

Close quarters

What’s the best way to organise urban life? This week’s 2021 Urban Land Institute Europe Conference has been on the hunt for fresh ideas. For urban scientist Carlos Moreno, the chair of entrepreneurship, territory and innovation at the Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris, this year remains all about the local approach: ensuring that citizens have access to services in their own neighbourhood. “The 15-minute city is the best way to provide citizens with six urban functions: to live, to work, to supply, to care, to educate and to enjoy,” he says. Moreno highlights Paris as an example: since January, schools have been able to open to the community on weekends so that the public can, for example, use their sport facilities. “This means that we can use the schools for other activities in the vicinity,” he says. While cities should always look at the bigger picture, smaller initiatives like this can help to ensure a better quality of life for all residents.

Hear more from Carlos Moreno and full coverage of the 2021 Urban Land Institute Europe Conference on this week’s episode of The Urbanist on Monocle 24.

Image: Shutterstock

M24 / The Foreign Desk

Explainer 252: Somalia’s political problem

Somalia failed to hold elections before the term of incumbent president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ended on Monday. Andrew Mueller explains the ramifications for the already fragile country.

Monocle Films / Switzerland

Swiss spectacle: Fête des Vignerons

We clink glasses with wine-makers at a once-in-a-generation festival in the otherwise tame town of Vevey. Fête des Vignerons is a parade of Swiss viticulture wisdom complete with cows, costumes and carousing.

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