Monday. 14/6/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Tomos Lewis

Safe passage

It has been nearly 15 months since Canada and the US agreed to close their shared land border to all but essential traffic in a bid to control the pandemic. And while that joint decision turned out to be a deft piece of diplomacy between Ottawa and Washington, reopening the frontier appears to be just as complicated.

In a particularly tricky position is Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau, who attended this weekend’s G7 summit in the UK along with Joe Biden. Trudeau has previously said that he wants 75 per cent of Canadians to have received at least one vaccine shot before reopening the border (64 per cent have received a first dose to date). But he’s facing pressure at home from border-town mayors who want the cross-boundary traffic that is so essential to their economies to start flowing again. In the US, a bipartisan group of governors in New England have also reportedly written to both Trudeau and Biden, offering to ship their states’ surplus vaccine doses to Canada if that would hasten the reopening of the border.

So far, Canada has suggested that the reopening process will be staggered. Beginning in early July, certain fully vaccinated travellers will be allowed to enter the country without a 14-day quarantine period. But Ottawa’s gently-gently approach isn’t likely to appease those in the US, particularly those in neighbouring states and on the right. Before the pandemic, the US-Canada border was among the busiest in the world, with some 400,000 land crossings made every day. Caution is no bad thing but it shouldn’t mean that restrictions stay in place longer than needed. A concerted and thought-out effort needs to be made to ensure this most important of boundaries is open again as soon as possible.

Image: Shutterstock

Media / UK

Brit large

The UK is getting its own dose of opinionated US-style personality-driven news television with yesterday’s launch of GB News. What exactly will the new channel stand for? For some pre-launch critics, the focus on national news and segments such as Woke Watch suggest an aggressively conservative bent that caters to a nationalistic crowd post-Brexit. But the channel has taken pains to make it clear where it draws the line. “What this won’t be is the hate-filled, divisive shout-fest that some people seem to have characterised it as,” John McAndrew, the channel’s news director, told the UK’s Press Gazette. Andrew Neil (pictured), the former BBC presenter who headlines the channel’s prime-time lineup, insists that any conspiracy-minded reporters will be shown the door. Is there a market for smart conservative news television? GB News deserves a chance to prove itself; its success inevitably depends on whether it can carve out an audience – and advertisers – in a crowded media space.

Image: Getty Images

Aviation / Yemen

Soft landing

Yemen’s Houthi movement has reportedly been renovating Sanaa International Airport (pictured) amid calls to reopen the facility to the rest of the world. The country’s air space has been controlled by a Saudi Arabian-led coalition since 2015, when the alliance intervened against the Iran-backed Houthis. Diplomatic efforts to end the long-running conflict have been stepped up in the past week and the UN and US have called on flights to Yemen’s capital to resume in a bid to alleviate the war-torn nation’s humanitarian crisis.

“It’s taken an awfully long time to get to this point but the signals suggest the airport’s reopening could be imminent,” Iona Craig, a journalist who has lived and worked in Sanaa, tells The Monocle Minute. “This airport is a lifeline to Yemenis. It would be a huge achievement should both humanitarian and passenger services resume in the coming days.”

Image: Alamy

Urbanism / New Orleans

Global storming

As hurricane season begins along the Atlantic coast of the US, New Orleans plays host to the annual National Hurricane Conference today for talks on the latest ideas to plan for the worst. The setting is significant: in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans poured more than $15bn (€12.4bn) into new floodgates and storm surge barriers to be ready for the next major storm. But the city still has a way to go to rebuild. “After Katrina, it was at conferences such as this that policy began to move toward better supporting those on lower incomes, or with disabilities,” John Wilson, chairman of the conference, tells the Monocle Minute. Wilson stresses the importance of bringing together experts in person and says the number of attendees has almost doubled since the last meeting in 2019, due in part to an increase in freak weather patterns. “We’ve got problems on the horizon but there are solutions available,” he says.

Image: Getty Images

Hospitality / Switzerland

Making history

Thirty-six years after a historic gathering between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, Geneva is once again gearing up to play host to another much-hyped meeting of rivals. Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will hold their first summit this Wednesday in the beautiful 18th-century Villa La Grange (pictured) by the lake. The villa, a former family home, was bequeathed to the city in 1917 and has since become a discreet hideaway for a series of prestigious guests, making it the ideal symbol for the hospitality and values of this Swiss city that is steeped in diplomatic tradition. What differs from the 1985 meeting is the added security display: most of the airspace and large parts of the city will be closed off to the public. The venue will be secured by up to 1,000 soldiers, 2,900 local police and hundreds of US and Russian security officials – plus no small amount of spies, no doubt.

Image: Shutterstock

M24 / The Foreign Desk

Sport and politics: an inseparable marriage

The European Football Championship and Copa America kicked off at the weekend in Europe and Brazil, and the Olympics are slated to happen in Japan in July. The organisers of these spectacles will no doubt seek to keep politics out of the events. But sport – especially international sport – is inherently political. So why do we insist on pretending it isn’t? And is it necessarily a bad thing if it is? Andrew Mueller speaks to Tim Marshall, Fiona Wilson, Fernando Augusto Pacheco and John Taylor.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle’s digital decency manifesto

Technology is everywhere but that ubiquity can come at a cost to our health, wellbeing and the quality of our conversations. View our manifesto for a more dignified relationship with all things digital and learn to be a little kinder and more cautious online.

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