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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 25 June 2018

Defence

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Fight or flight

US senators are ready to block their sale of jets to Turkey over the latter’s deal with Russia but Erdogan is unlikely to cave in.

Late last week, Lockheed Martin held a ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas, to present Turkey with the first of 100 F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jets. Yet despite the hoopla of the ceremony, it’s still unclear if the aircraft will ever make it to Ankara. A majority of US senators have voted to block the sale and stop the physical transfer of the F-35s over Turkey’s plan to buy a Russian-made S-400 missile system to integrate with the fighter jets, which has raised fears that the Kremlin would then gain access to US technology or intel. It’s the latest move in a seemingly widening chasm between the US and Turkey; the two Nato members have found themselves on opposite sides of numerous issues from Syria to human rights. Yet even as chatter about pushing Turkey out of the F-35 consortium altogether grows louder, don’t expect Recep Tayyip Erdogan to back down – he’s remained defiant over his plans to purchase the S-400.

Society

Image: Getty Images

Green light

Women in Saudi Arabia are finally allowed to take the wheel – it’s a manoeuvre in the right direction for what will be a long road to gender equality.

Yesterday Saudi Arabia lifted the law that legally prevents women from driving, marking an end to decades of campaigning. Allowing women to drive is the latest step in crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 strategy to move the country away from its conservative roots, as well as its oil-based economy. It is unsurprising that, as well as being a moral step, lifting the law is an economic one. Bin Salman’s plan for the country could be strengthened by women who have the freedoms enjoyed in other developed countries – to work, travel and spend money. Empowering women to drive is a positive step but it is hardly enough. Stringent guardianship laws mean that men, usually fathers or husbands, still have the power to consent – or deny – women the right to travel, work or even receive medical care. Liberalisation is a long road, here’s hoping Bin Salman’s plan for gender equality doesn’t stall.

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

One vision

Angela Merkel wants to get all her ducks in a row ahead of Thursday’s EU meeting on migration but other countries aren’t playing ball.

Yesterday’s preparatory meeting in Brussels was aimed at forging a unified response to the EU’s migration crisis but the get-together was as discordant as many feared. A boycott by four Central European nations caused even the most optimistic to question the meeting’s efficacy. The sit-down was called by Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel – who is battling to save her fragile governing coalition from collapse as her stand-off with Horst Seehofer, Germany’s interior minister, over the number of migrants allowed into Germany continues. Italy’s new populist government will be keen to thwart the kind of pro-migration stance Merkel is hoping to forge within the EU, despite a decrease in the number of migrants arriving in continental Europe by sea, according to the UN’s latest figures. At this stage it’s difficult to envisage what the chorus of competing priorities on migration within the EU will yield when leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday.

Business

Image: Getty Images

Present and correct?

Japan’s tradition of luring shareholders to annual meetings with free gifts is dwindling – and so is the number of attendees.

In corporate Japan, June is peak season for shareholder meetings. But one symbolic gesture is losing favour: the goodie bag. Traditionally companies promised a small gift – fancy cookies, Japanese sweets, handkerchiefs, gift cards or umbrellas – as a way to sweeten relations (and increase the likelihood of shareholders showing up). The problem is, it has been too successful. Investor attendance has surged in recent years, forcing businesses to splurge on colossal venues that can accommodate thousands of investors. In the first two weeks of June, 373 companies opted not to dole out freebies, roughly 16 per cent of the 2,405 companies that were scheduled to hold their shareholder meetings in that period, according to a survey by Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation. The result? A huge drop in attendance: railway-operator Kintetsu, department store Takashimaya and textile-maker Toyobo saw the number of investors attending their annual meetings halve.

From Monocle 24

Taschen, ‘Dog’, ‘99 Percent Lifestyle’

The Stack

This week we speak to Marlene Taschen at the publisher’s new store in Hong kong, plus we welcome back our friends from ‘Dog’ magazine and the editor of ‘99 Percent Lifestyle’.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Guide to Hotels, Inns & Hideaways

Video didn’t kill the radio star and apartment-sharing apps haven’t scuppered our enduring need for hotels. It’s this sincere belief that proved to be the rallying cry for our latest book, which covers everything from hoteliers’ trade secrets to holiday recommendations.

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