Even with an ongoing debt crisis and the eight-month absence of a government, last weekend marked a new low for Lebanon: a noticeably sub-par attendance for the Arab League’s semi-regular economic and social summit. Numerous heads of state had been scheduled to attend the event, which was held in Beirut after a five-year hiatus, but many cancelled amid disputes over whether Syria should be admitted back into the league. Only Mauritania’s president came for the full weekend; Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani flew in for a few hours and the rest sent delegations. The no-shows are yet another sad sign that this troubled country could become irrelevant in the region without the support of its neighbours.
Yesterday some 2.8 million voters took to the polls on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines to decide on whether to create an autonomous Muslim region. The new self-governing territory would be known as Bangasmoro and would cover swathes of the island and its neighbouring archipelago. The hope is that a motion in favour would finally bring an end to tensions between the Muslim minority and the Catholic majority, which has taken claimed some 150,000 lives since the 1970s. Providing the Muslim population with a say over its own security matters, a $950m (€836m) development fund for the next 10 years and a cut of national tax revenue might ease friction. However, plebiscites rarely provide the final word when it comes to healing deep national divisions.
Few EU nationals living in Britain expected the Home Office’s EU Settlement Status Scheme to offer a plain-sailing means of staying in the country – but as the initiative rolled out yesterday worries of the scheme’s efficacy increased. Think tanks warned that the process of applying by post or online was too difficult and might marginalise the vulnerable, elderly or those without proficiency in English. EU nationals railed at the prospect of paying £65 to apply, prompting the government to abandon the fee yesterday. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021 (or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal). The demand that EU nationals prove their right to settle feeds into the narrative of the UK as a less welcoming country.
Journalists who are worried that their jobs might be taken by artificially intelligent reporter-bots can take heart. Talking at the Digital Life Design (DLD) conference in Munich yesterday, John Micklethwait, editor in chief of Bloomberg News, explained that rather than replacing reporters, AI is a useful tool for news organisations that allows them to analyse data, create headlines and translate reports faster. “News will get more personalised and AI can help create a world where we get more information and more truth,” he said. Micklethwait revealed that some 30 per cent of Bloomberg News’ total content has some element of automation. And while AI focuses on breaking news and figures, journalists can devote their time to what really matters: on-the-ground reporting.
Monocle Films travels to Paris to bear witness to the French capital’s efforts to mitigate terrorism through smart design and architecture.