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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 28 June 2018

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

Talking a good game

If you fancy a chat, Donald Trump’s your man. After his conflab with Kim, is it time for a powwow with Putin?

Donald Trump is developing quite the penchant for summits. After the we’re-not-sure-what-really-happened meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore, the US president now has his sights set on a chinwag with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the coming months. The groundwork was laid yesterday by national security adviser John Bolton, who met Putin in Moscow and made sure to mention what a good job Russia is doing as World Cup host. Trump has made no secret of his admiration for Putin in the past: at the G7 summit in Montréal earlier this month he called for Russia to be readmitted to the bloc. But with tough US sanctions in place and Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the US elections ongoing, the folks back home won’t want to see Trump getting too cosy.

Environment

Image: Getty Images

Current thinking

Sea traffic in Asean waters is increasing – which is why the region’s countries are combining in an attempt to stem the tide.

Seven Asean nations gathered in Bali this week to discuss how to safeguard the region’s oceans ahead of ever increasing global sea trade in Southeast Asia. The summit was the first official meeting of a new UN-backed initiative that is aptly – if not imaginatively – called the Marine Environmental Protection of the Southeast Asia Seas (Mepseas) Project. The four-year plan will focus on the partner nations implementing a set of ecological treaties that will bind them to better practices; cleaner shipping methods and tighter restrictions on waste-dumping were on the agenda. Environmentalists may wonder whether the Mepseas Project is happening in good enough time though: a whopping 40 per cent of global sea trade already passes through Asean waters. We would argue that this figure makes the conflab crucial.

Law

Image: Getty Images

Fire at will

Italian citizens want permission to pack heat but, with recorded crime falling, have they jumped the gun?

The sombre succession of gun-related incidents in countries such as the US should prompt most nations to reflect on how best to tighten their gun laws. Yet in Italy, buoyed by a desire for self-defence, an increasing number of citizens are swaying towards the idea of relaxing regulations around gun ownership. A recent report from research institute Censis found that 39 per cent of Italians want to loosen the laws (an increase from 26 per cent in 2015). The popularity of this position is all the more baffling given that the number of crimes committed in Italy has declined by 10 per cent over the past year and the number of murders halved over the past decade; citizens’ perceptions of their own safety does not match up with the facts. Also cocking the proverbial hammer is far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini, who has announced his intentions to bring in a law enshrining the right to self-defence.

Urbanism

Reality bytes

Sidewalk Labs’ technology experiment in Toronto is on hold while planners check their data.

The so-called smart city isn’t quite smart enough for Toronto. Last autumn, it was announced that Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs was to transform almost five hectares of disused land on the waterfront into an urban technology experiment, replete with data-collecting sensors, self-driving cars and rubbish-collecting robots. Initially given one year to devise plans for its futuristic vision, Sidewalk Labs announced this week that those plans have been delayed until spring 2019. This is partly due to public misgivings around the use and ownership of data, and whether so much hardware will make streets less, rather than more, liveable. The planners are expected to use the extra time to speak to Torontonians and ensure that their development doesn’t turn people off as it turns machines on.

From Monocle 24

Gousto

The Entrepreneurs

Timo Boldt is the co-founder and CEO of technology-cum-food business Gousto, one of the leading meal-kit providers in the UK. Since its launch in 2012 it has delivered more than 13 million meals and in March, off the back of strong growth, secured a further £28.5m (€32.4m) in funding to expand its reach and improve its technology. What’s cooking?

From Monocle Films

Zürich, Geneva + Basel: The Monocle Travel Guide

This book celebrates the richness of these three Swiss cities and dives beneath the surface to bring an unexpected mix of creativity, entrepreneurialism and design. All aboard for a tour of the most impeccable hotels, world-class galleries and best spots to take a dip.

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