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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 15 October 2018

Geopolitics

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Holy communion?

Moon Jae-in has an invitation for Pope Francis – but will the Pontiff be persuaded?

South Korean president Moon Jae-in has a busy few days ahead. His European tour kicks off today with a sit-down at the Élysée Palace with French leader Emmanuel Macron; he then has a packed schedule that sees him in Italy, Brussels and Copenhagen. But his most intriguing meeting will take place when he goes to the Vatican this Thursday to see Pope Francis, to whom he is expected to present an invite to visit Kim Jong-un in North Korea. Moon will be hoping that the pope’s acceptance of the invitation will create goodwill in the peninsula. But the plan has a flaw: the North Korean despot punishes citizens for being religious – and Christians are some of the most persecuted groups in the country.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Nowhere to hide

As more bad news is heaped on Angela Merkel, the opposition vultures circle.

In another blow for Angela Merkel’s fragile coalition, yesterday Bavaria’s regional elections yielded the worst results for the CDU’s sister party – the Christian Social Union – since the Second World War. With last week’s polls charting a combined low of 41 per cent for Merkel’s coalition, it comes as little surprise. And as Sunday’s results sink in, questions over the future of Merkel and the conservatives loom large. In recent months the CDU has lurched to the right in an attempt to lure back conservative votes from the reach of far-right parties such as the AfD – but so far, so futile. With another regional election in Hesse at the end of the month, more dramatic turns seem likely.

Protests

Image: Getty Images

Vexing Vladimir

Is President Putin about to experience another public backlash?

When Vladimir Putin tried to raise the retirement age this summer (using the World Cup as a diversion), protests ensued across Russia and the public mood resembled that during the 2012 demonstrations against Putin’s presidential candidacy. Now a report published by the Committee of Civil Initiatives – which accurately predicted the protests six years ago – has found that Russia’s discontent with its government has reached “critical mass”. People are giving greater thought to the ideas of justice and individualism and moving away from patriotism and militarism. These findings echo a September opinion poll conducted by the Levada Center: President Putin’s “trustworthiness” is down from 59 per cent to 39 per cent in the past two years, as is that of his top ministers Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu.

Society

Image: Getty Images

Ganja gains?

As Canada rolls out cannabis legalisation, the world will be watching to see if the plan goes to pot.

A cloud of smoke will hang above the lawns of Parliament Hill on Wednesday, when Canada will legalise marijuana and, inevitably, much of the nation will spark up in celebration. Canada will be the first G7 nation to legalise the drug and prime minister Justin Trudeau has extolled increased tax revenues and reduced crime as its benefits. But critics, such as opposition leader Andrew Scheer, fear the implications of legalisation are not yet fully understood. In September, for example, there was talk that the US would bar any Canadian who smoked the drug from crossing the border. Whatever happens, nations the world over will learn from the fallout as Canada leads the way through an uncharted haze of smoke.

From Monocle 24

Image: Shutterstock

Can Brexit be stopped?

The Foreign Desk

Time is running out to reach a deal on what will happen when the UK leaves the EU in March – but as negotiators get ready for the next set of talks this week, campaigners are calling for another referendum. Can – and should – Brexit be stopped? We’re joined by Crispin Blunt MP, Thomas Cole, Amelia Hadfield and European newsroom editors to find out.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Guide to Building Better Cities

Sometimes all you need to make a better city is some humanity, a sense of scale and keen citizens. Tune into this visual manifesto, which celebrates our latest book release.

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