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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 14 November 2018

Geopolitics

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Travelling salesman

Justin Trudeau is on the road in the search for trade allies.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is in Singapore for this year’s Asean summit. He’s on a mission to reaffirm Canada’s reputation as a key economic player in the region. It’s been a mixed year for Trudeau’s push to make Canada a leader in global trade: an ill-fated visit to India in February yielded little and trade talks with China have also stalled. He will try to resuscitate the latter in an annual forum between Canadian and Chinese diplomats later today. In doing so he should emphasise his successes with the Nafta renegotiation and the Canada-EU trade agreement, both of which are widely regarded as coups for Canada. They are also templates for how international trade negotiations should be conducted in the future as economises such as the US and UK turn their gazes inward.

 

Politics

Image: Shutterstock

Fresh start?

Fijians are voting for a new prime minister – and China and Australia are waiting in the wings to court the new leader.

Fijians head to the polls today to decide who will become the archipelago’s next prime minister. The front-running candidates are two former coup leaders, incumbent Frank Bainimarama (pictured) and Sitiveni Rabuka, who is now back in the race after being acquitted on Monday of alleged electoral offences. Fijians hope that the election will finally put an end to the military insurrections that have destabilised the nation for decades. But from across the water, two rivals are watching the outcome closely. China and Australia are both jostling for dominance in the Pacific and the nation that can establish the closest (and quickest) ties with Fiji’s new leader will earn a strategic advantage in the area.

Digital

Image: Getty Images

Final frontier?

A new satellite aims to bring the internet to India’s rural population but the country’s poorest have more pressing needs.  

India’s Space Research Organisation (Isro) will launch a satellite today to help provide a high-speed broadband connection to vast swathes of the country’s rural areas. Gsat-29 is designed to bring the internet to India’s northeastern regions, including Jammu and Kashmir, as part of an initiative to increase access to digital services. The satellite will also collect data for Isro’s push towards a manned space mission, which the organisation hopes to conduct by 2022. The drive to bridge the so-called “digital divide” is laudable but India should prioritise basic amenities. Modern housing, sanitation and clean drinking water ought to trump space travel – and broadband connection speeds.

Education

Image: Getty Images

Top marks

French teachers are to be educated in the ways of diplomatic discussions with politically prickly students.  

Tuesday saw the release of a guide to help teachers prevent student radicalisation in France, which is set to be distributed by the Ministry of Education. Although the French secondary-school syllabus includes a “civic and moral education” module, in which issues of political extremism are discussed, until this year there has been no tangible advice for teachers on how to handle heated discussions in class, or spot worrying signs in their pupils (Germany introduced something similar in 2017). The manual has been compiled by the European Foundation for Democracy in collaboration with the Counter Extremism Project; said organisations are keen to help teachers have conversations that are based on mutual respect, rather than providing yet another way of policing at-risk youths.

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