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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 24 September 2018

Diplomacy

Image: Getty Images

All winners

Fresh off the back of his election victory, Japan’s PM will need all his political nous this week in order to dodge a trade war with Trump.

After winning another three-year term last week one could be forgiven for thinking Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe might be in an enviable position politically. However, any glow of gratification Abe took into the weekend will likely ebb as he eyes his to-do list. On Wednesday he has a meeting with Donald Trump and it’s likely to be bumpy: true to form, the US president is threatening tariffs on Japanese cars and components over the trade deficit with Japan, although both leaders will be looking for concessions to avoid another trade war. Abe has been a successful Trump-whisperer before, his best bet is to devise a set of offers that can – somehow – enable each party to emerge from the meeting looking like the winner.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Keep the peace

Russian officials have annulled a regional election result in a bid to assuage the protesting populace.

Russia’s regional elections usually go off without too much fuss but this year they have caused more of a stir than is comfortable for the Kremlin. A signifier of its unease can be observed 9,000km east of Moscow in the region of Primorski. The Kremlin-backed candidate, Andrei Tarasenko, beat his Communist-party opponent in a miraculous victory, leading to accusations of election-rigging and protests. Officials responded by making a rare admittance that something was amiss and annulled the result. The move can be interpreted as the administration taking a less forceful approach to suppressing dissent, according to Russia analyst Stephen Dalziel: “If anything keeps Vladimir Putin up at night it’s the threat of an uprising from below.” Irrespective of the reason, any softening of Putin’s regime is to be welcomed.

Brexit

Image: Shutterstock

Get it together

The UK Labour party is splintered – is a unified response to Brexit the answer?

The Tory party is eating itself over Brexit, the Lib Dems have vanished from the political spectrum: times ought to be good for the UK Labour party. Yet as the Labour Conference kicks off today it is clear that the party is rudderless under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, unwilling to face up to the realities of Britain’s divorce from the EU and embittered by accusations of anti-Semitism in its ranks. But Lance Price, who was Tony Blair’s director of communications when he was prime minister, believes that alignment on Brexit is the answer. “Labour has a golden opportunity to tell people that the government’s Brexit proposals are going terribly. The leadership should lobby for a second referendum.” But whether party figures can put their differences aside remains to be seen.

Technology

Image: Getty Images

Human touch

Self-governing weapons may be on the horizon but should we be targeting the consequences?

The advent of autonomous weaponry and its application on the battlefield has produced a barrage of moral questions. The most crucial is the need for a human to issue the command to pull the trigger. But is there an argument for saving human lives by having machines do the fighting for us? John R Allen, president of the Brookings Institution, believes that when it comes to using machines we must proceed carefully. “A manned system will always have the benefit of having a human in the loop,” he says. “We have to always consider first what the ethical, legal and societal implications are when it comes to the employment of artificial intelligence. When we take the human out of the battle space we risk something at the ethical and legal levels.”

From Monocle Films

The secret to buying a painting

In the latest episode of our ‘Secret to...’ series, Alexander Gilkes, co-founder of online auction house Paddle8, unveils the alchemy that surrounds the world of collecting art.

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