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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 22 August 2018

Politics

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Place your bets

The US is upping the ante in its stand-off with Russia over the nerve-agent attack in the UK. Who will blink first?

A new set of US sanctions are set to be imposed on Russia today, signalling the latest move in its response to the nerve-agent attack in Salisbury, England, in March. In the aftermath of the incident the US expelled 60 Russian diplomats before formally concluding that Moscow had broken an international ban on chemical weapons – a violation that, by law, enables the US to introduce severe sanctions. The measures are likely to impact hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Russian imports. If, in 90 days, Russia has not allowed UN weapons inspectors to examine its military installations and offered “reliable assurances” that it will not use chemical weapons again, the US will step up the sanctions further. While the initiative is sure to hurt the Russian economy, Moscow is unlikely to break from its diplomatic form of denial and feigned outrage.

Business

Image: Shutterstock

Female persuasion

Japan’s economy has long suffered for a lack of women – but is there any sign of the situation improving?

It’s been 19 years since the term “Womenomics” entered the Japanese lexicon, courtesy of Goldman Sachs analyst Kathy Matsui. Her point was that the Japanese government needed to engage women in the workforce to keep the economy buoyant. However, if a new report about employment and motherhood from the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute is to be believed, little headway has been made. The report found that women who return to the workforce after having children frequently find themselves in lower-paid jobs, creating an adverse effect on the economy; last year the Japanese economy lost ¥1.2trn (€9.4bn) because 200,000 women dropped out of the workforce altogether. While the report advises a better childcare and maternity-leave scheme, it’s time that “Womenomics” became more than a convenient catchphrase for politicians.

Urbanism

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Unusual flight plan

A city right next to an airport? It sounds like pie in the sky but Sydney may well have landed upon a smart idea.

As air travel exponentially increases as the easiest (and often cheapest) form of long-distance transport, aviation infrastructure is growing at a thunderous rate across the globe. Sydney’s Western Airport, currently under construction, has already been bankrolled to the tune of AU$5.3bn (€3.4bn). The project is set to be completed in 2026 and yesterday it was announced that the land surrounding the airport will be rezoned, as early as next year, to include residential and commercial buildings in the form of the so-called Aerotropolis town. The idea of a purpose-built airport city might conjure up dystopian visions of a noisy and dirty future. However, factor in the speed at which aircraft technology is evolving, bringing with it quieter and less-polluting planes, and this suddenly looks like a forward-thinking move by the Australian government. It opens up opportunities for a new metropolitan typology: well connected, clean and economically sound urban hubs.

Media

Image: Getty Images

Leading light

The world is mourning the loss of a Brazilian editor who never forgot journalists’ role in society: to tell the truth.

Brazilian journalist and editor Otávio Frias Filho died at the age of 61 yesterday. A luminary figure in the country’s media and political landscapes, Filho stood at the helm of Brazil’s best-selling newspaper Folha de São Paulo for 34 years as its editor in chief. Under his leadership, the paper evolved from a city-centric title covering local topics to the most avidly read news title in the country. Brazil changed drastically during Filho’s editorship and the paper courageously stood for democracy during the 1980s, throwing support behind the Diretas Já (Direct Elections Now) movement. Filho’s latter years in charge saw him try to confront the problems faced by journalists in the digital environment; not just by writing about them but by reminding his staff of their duty as journalists: the paper’s handbook states that journalism must be an antidote to fake news and intolerance.

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