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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 7 August 2018

Economy

Image: Getty Images

Hell to pay

Keen to enact its reforms, Italy’s government would rather cross swords with the EU than risk angering the populace.

Italy’s deputy prime minister Luigi di Maio was strident yesterday when discussing the EU’s fiscal restraints that limit countries within the bloc to an annual deficit of less than 3 per cent of GDP. Speaking to broadcaster Rai, he said: “The budget parameters can’t be a way to say we can’t [enact our reform agenda]. If we behave like that, we’ll be the same as the others and Italians will tell us to go to hell.” He’s probably alluding to Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, a socialist who promised much before sweeping to power but who has been cowed by EU limits. So could this lead to “Quitaly”? Commentator Christian Rocca isn’t overly concerned. “We still have safeguards, such as the economy minister [Giovanni Tria] and foreign minister [Enzo Moavero Milanesi], both appointed by president Sergio Mattarella in order to contain the damage.”

Geopolitics

Image: Getty Images

In at the deep end

An alleged assassination attempt and an unpopular peace deal mean that Colombia’s new president has little time to bask in his victory.

Colombia’s incoming president is to be sworn in today. Celebrations for 42-year-old Conservative Iván Duque aren’t likely to last long – his first task will be managing the fallout with neighbouring Venezuela after its leader Nicolás Maduro blamed last weekend’s attempt on his life on Colombia. As if that wasn’t enough, there is the peace accord struck by his predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos. Many Colombians were appalled by the terms that brought the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) in from the jungle in 2016, claiming the deal was too favourable to the former guerrillas. Duque assumed power on the promise of revising the terms of the agreement, although he has remained silent on exactly how he will do this without sparking another conflict. And he can’t look to his mentor, former president Álvaro Uribe, for support – Uribe is under investigation for bribery and fraud.

Diplomacy

Image: Shutterstock

Friends reunited?

With Saudi Arabia granting entry to an Iranian diplomat, could the countries be about to make up?

On Sunday Saudi Arabia granted entry to an Iranian diplomat. The envoy will be the first admitted into the Kingdom since the two countries severed ties in January 2016, after Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia executed the Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and Iranian protestors attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The news has been received with the hope of a diplomatic thaw but analysts have cast a doubt on the possibility. “Saudi Arabia is still working with the US, still working in tandem with the UAE to push back and contain Iran,” says Neil Quilliam, senior research fellow at Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa programme. “We’ve got the [reactivated US] sanctions coming through tomorrow. It’s extremely unlikely that the Saudis would suddenly think, ‘Ok, let’s take the foot off the brakes.”

Sport

Image: Getty Images

Everyone’s a winner

Paris has hit a home run by hosting the Gay Games: the event not only promotes tolerance and diversity, it should kick the economy up a gear too.

The Gay Games, a worldwide sporting event that promotes acceptance of sexual diversity, is currently underway in Paris. The events on display range from speed roller skating and judo to athletics and aquatics. So far, so fun. But the games aren’t just an opportunity to get competitive – and maybe a bit wet – they present a wider conversation around sport’s role in propagating social acceptance and personal freedoms. As well as this, they offer a template for how a city can welcome people in droves: 12,700 participants from 91 countries are expected during the event, which runs until this weekend. In the run-up, Paris campaigned hard in order to win the right to host the games, and there are economic as well as soft-power kickbacks to be earned: the Federation of Gay Games has claimed that the local economy will see a boost to the tune of €58m.

From Monocle 24

Comic intuition

The Monocle Weekly

We meet journalist turned comics writer John Harris Dunning to discuss his new work Tumult, hear from Journey Gunderson, the director of a new museum dedicated to laughs in the US, and discuss how The Dark Knight helped shape the modern superhero blockbuster with production designer Nathan Crowley.

From Monocle Films

Venice: finding Freespace

Monocle editor Andrew Tuck navigates the Arsenale to find out how architects have responded to the curatorial theme of this year’s Venice Biennale of Architecture.

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