The opening day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia was a rowdier affair than organisers might have hoped for: outgoing chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz was jeered by delegates from her home state Florida and unease continued over the massive leak of internal emails that have laid bare a rather unflattering picture of the party’s inner workings. But distractions aside, the mood in Philadelphia is largely upbeat. The Republican National Convention did little to quell the chaotic, circus-like demeanour of this year’s Republican campaign and the sprawling doom-and-gloom message of Donald Trump. The Democrats, and Hillary Clinton herself, therefore hope that this week will set them up as the serious, positive face for the US’s political future, with a message that both excites and reassures an electorate that has so far been split by a bewildering presidential cycle.
It has been a traumatic 9 days for the southern German state of Bavaria. Just after 22.00 on Sunday evening a Syrian asylum seeker detonated a bomb in the town of Ansbach, killing himself and injuring 15. The attack followed a week in which Bavaria had seen a series of atrocities, including the massacre of nine people in a shopping mall in Munich and a knife-and-axe attack on a train near Würzburg. But while there are similarities between these attacks – few can ignore the fact that two were committed by asylum seekers from the Middle East – it is unhelpful to group them. Germany’s bold stance to welcome refugees has come under renewed opprobrium, as the insurgent right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland tries to harness the sense of panic to stoke popular fear. Now, more than ever, that stance needs to be defended.
Turkey’s leadership hasn’t shied away from calling out the supposed biases of foreign media in the past but this has amplified since the failed coup. Op-eds in the state-owned news agency bemoan an “ethical void” in the western press and there has been a volley of criticism targeted at the likes of the BBC and The Independent. The accusation is that the foreign press hasn’t grasped the enormity of the threat that Turkey faced from its errant military and that to call the ongoing purge disproportionate is to miss the point. But as the country settles into a state of emergency, and Amnesty International cries foul about its treatment of those detained, the processes must be kept in check. Turkey has to show that it’s still as free and democratic as it claims – and railing against critical press is not the answer.
Car-hailing services such as Uber are posing a threat to established taxi companies the world over. That’s why Nihon Kotsu – Tokyo’s largest taxi operator – had the idea of lowering the city’s standard starting fare from ¥730 (€6.25) for the first 1km to ¥410 (€3.50) for 2km. But in this tightly regulated sector, which is home to 342 businesses and a staggering 27,655 taxis, one firm can’t change fares on its own. Hoping that lower rates might entice more people to hop in a taxi, Nihon Kotsu approached Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to consider its proposal. Since then 265 taxi companies have come on board and the measure is expected to pass later this year.
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