Thursday. 10/2/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy

Opinion / Fernando Augusto Pacheco

Violent ends

Moïse Kabagambe was a Congolese refugee who moved to Brazil in 2011 and lived with his mother and siblings. It was there that he discovered what prejudice looks like. Kabagambe was beaten to death near the beach kiosk he worked at in Rio de Janeiro. The reason? He was asking for his missing wages to be paid. The brutal crime, a video of which emerged last week, has shocked Brazilians, who took to the streets of major cities over the weekend to protest (pictured). It’s one of those cases that grips a nation and makes it look inside its soul.

Brazil has always been a magnet for migrants from around the world and they have helped to shape the country into what it is today. But as a mixed-race Brazilian myself, I can’t help but ask if we are really as cordial as we think. Sure, if you are from Italy or Norway – and look the part – we might be friendly. But if you have dark skin, you should be ready to deal with enormous prejudice and a society that has not acknowledged its own racism.

Violence against black people is not unique to Brazil, of course, but it is particularly serious there. In Salvador in the country’s northeast, every killing by police officers last year was of a black person. Drastic changes are now needed and Kabagambe’s death should make us Brazilians rethink our attitudes. The three men involved in the crime are now in jail. The mayor of Rio has also announced that the beach kiosk where Kabagambe used to work will become a memorial celebrating African culture. Only this way can we begin to contemplate the idea of Brazil being a place where prejudice and racism are no longer the norm.

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Canada

Fine balance

A majority of Canadians might oppose the ongoing truckers’ blockade of downtown Ottawa and two border crossings but a recent poll found that many also view political leaders, including prime minister Justin Trudeau (pictured), as “condescending” towards anyone who opposes Canada’s coronavirus vaccine mandates. Of those surveyed, 44 per cent also expressed some sympathy with the “frustrations and concerns” voiced by truckers in the convoys. To complicate matters further, an MP from Trudeau’s own party broke ranks this week, arguing that Canada’s high vaccination rate merited a clear timetable for easing national health measures, citing countries such as Norway, Israel and the UK, where vaccination rates are comparable to Canada’s. As the blockade continues, Trudeau will have to walk a fine line: while maintaining a hard stance against a noisy minority, he won’t want to risk appearing aloof to the majority of Canadians who have done their part in getting vaccinated but are nonetheless keen to know when some semblance of normality can return.

Image: Getty Images

Defence / UK & France

Royal air source

Queen Elizabeth II (pictured) and other select UK VIPs will soon have their air-transport arrangements upgraded as the Ministry of Defence (MOD) swaps two of its British Aerospace BAe 146 VIP planes for a pair of French-made Dassault Falcon 900LX business jets. The £80m (€95m) deal includes delivery of the two aircraft and two years of auxiliary support.

Though the purchase might raise eyebrows among British manufacturers keen to keep such procurement in-house, an MOD spokesperson insisted that the selection process was rigorous, describing the French plane as “the standout candidate in performance, value and time requirements”. A large factor in the final decision was the 900LX’s smaller engine, which burns less fuel and therefore produces fewer emissions, and its superior range: 4,750 nautical miles (8,780km) with six passengers and two crew. Reports concerning the plushness of its seats are yet to land.

Image: Getty Images

Energy / Japan & Europe

Gas ring

While French and German leaders are scrambling to Kyiv and Moscow in an attempt to broker a deal to prevent war in Ukraine, the ripple effects are being felt as far away as Tokyo. One of the world’s largest importers of liquid natural gas (LNG), Japan intends to divert some of its LNG to European countries. The arrangement is reportedly the result of a request from Joe Biden, who fears that Russia could use natural gas exports as a weapon against Europe, which imports about 40 per cent of its LNG from Russia, if the West imposes sanctions on Moscow. Japanese economy minister Koichi Hagiuda met the EU’s ambassador to Japan, Patricia Flor, and US envoy Rahm Emanuel yesterday in Tokyo to finalise the deal. While Western leaders are continuing to hope for the best, they’re also preparing for the worst.

Image: Alamy

Aviation / Finland

Power trip

Although the approval of electric passenger planes remains years away, Finland has already unveiled plans for new connections across Lapland. A trial route using renewable fuel, connecting Finnish Lapland’s largest town of Rovaniemi with Tromsø in Norway via a stopover at Enontekiö Airport, is expected to launch in autumn. The aim is to gauge demand and create a ready market for when electric planes widely come into service. The journey would take an hour, including the stopover, compared to eight by car. Expectations are high as electric-aircraft routes, which require fewer passengers to be profitable, would boost tourism and make residents’ lives easier in a sparsely populated region where commuting and visiting hospitals is time-consuming. The future looks electric: Sweden and Norway have already promised to make all domestic flights fossil-fuel-free within a decade – and it seems that Finland won’t be far behind.

Image: Brian Griffin

M24 / Monocle on Design

Book club

We explore a title on Swiss-influenced architecture in the US and reflect on the illustrious career of furniture designer Jens Risom. Plus: Jan Gehl’s seminal book Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: February issue

Monocle’s 150th issue is a humour special that also includes an interview with Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin and celebrates ambitious city halls that inspire the metropolises they serve. Order your copy now at The Monocle Shop.

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