Daily briefing: Zimbabwe army seizes power, Brexit olive branch, Da Vinci auction
- Wed, 15 Nov 2017 14:33
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What is afoot in Zimbabwe? Tensions have been high since last week but that escalated overnight when explosions were reported in Harare, the capital. The army has now seized power. Armoured vehicles and troops were spotted on the street while the UK and US embassies warned their citizens to remain indoors. The military has also taken control of the state broadcaster.
A brief recap: Zimbabwe’s leader Robert Mugabe fired his presumed successor last week, who subsequently fled into exile claiming threats against his life. The country’s army chief (pictured below) then warned this week that his forces could step in to settle bitter factional infighting within President Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party. The army has denied Wednesday’s developments are a coup (“This is not a military takeover,” a spokesman said) and claimed it was only holding Mr Mugabe for his own safety while they target the criminals around him. There has so far been no statement or appearance from the president. Follow live updates here. (FT, BBC, Guardian)
In the news
Brexit olive branch
London’s bankers and other professionals have been promised a special post-Brexit travel regime. Basically, they will be allowed to move freely across Europe after the split. It is an olive branch from the UK government, which is anxious to reassure the City of its future role in the region. (FT)
Australia says yes
Australia has voted by a significant majority to legalise same-sex marriage, a reform implemented in 26 countries to-date. A majority of parliamentarians support legalising same-sex marriage and Australia’s leader indicated a draft bill may pass into law before Christmas. Per one Australian commentator: “Until it’s legislated it amounts to a hill of beans”. (FT, SMH)
Former Pimco head for Fed vice-chair?
The Trump administration is considering economist Mohamed El-Erian, along with several others, to replace Stanley Fischer, who resigned last September citing personal reasons. (WSJ)
Japan’s best run of growth in 16 years
The country recorded its longest run of unbroken expansion since 2001. The economy grew at an annualised pace of 1.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2017, suggesting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies are still on track to eventually create inflation. (FT)
Russia’s questionable evidence
Russia’s Ministry of Defence has provoked a torrent of mockery after it published “irrefutable evidence” that the US is in league with Isis. It turns out to be footage from a 2015 computer game. Separately, Moscow is preparing a sweeping crackdown on foreign media groups in response to US measures against RT, the Kremlin’s foreign-language television channel. (Newsweek, FT)
The day ahead
21 Century Fox annual meeting
The intrigue will be high when Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch faces investors at the company’s annual meeting in Los Angeles. That’s after the company apparently discussed selling most of the company to Walt Disney. (FT)
Tillerson in Myanmar
US secretary of state Rex Tillerson will focus on the need to stop the violence and stabilise Rakhine state when he meets with the head of Myanmar’s military. More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since the military launched a counter-insurgency clearance operation in Rakhine in late August. Mr Tillerson was also due to hold talks with Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s defacto leader. (Reuters)
This is your chance to buy a genuine Leonardo da Vinci painting. The last da Vinci painting in private hands, “Salvator Mundi” (Saviour of the World), is expected to fetch $ 100m at a Christies’ auction in New York. Sotheby’s sold the painting, unaware of its true provenance, in 1958 for £45. In 2011, the work was confirmed as a genuine Leonardo and unveiled publicly — the first discovery of a painting by the artist since 1909. (NYT)
What we’re reading
Taming the masters of the tech universe
Martin Wolf parses the seven wider challenges that the world’s most highly valued tech companies pose, from US dominance to excessive valuation to competition. In a nutshell? Our futures are too important to be left to the mercies of the technology industry alone. (FT)
Italy’s right turn
Remember when Italy’s Northern League was just a secessionist party? Now, thanks to exploiting fears over migrants, the anti-immigrant party — and other rightwing parties — are heading into next year’s pivotal general election with the wind at their backs. Read the latest in the FT’s Europopulists series. (FT)
Should Apple buy Netflix?
A convincing argument on the deal’s merits — and why Apple should try to beat Amazon to the punch. (Bloomberg)
How to work part-time in a high-flying job
Flexible working does not end an executive career. But executives wanting part-time hours normally have to negotiate, and the process can be opaque and confusing. Here’s the FT’s guide. (FT)
‘It’s been very epic’
So ends Donald Trump’s 12-day tour of Asia from the mouth of the president. Here’s an analysis of how Mr Trump’s trip to Asia delivered mixed messages to uncomfortable allies. The White House declared the trip a success but many are unsure what he achieved. One conservative writer has concerns about what the tour says about American leadership: “If you’re the president of the US and autocrats are literally singing your praises, you’re doing something wrong.” Here are six other takeaways. (NYT, FP, CNN)
Video of the day
Internet freedom: the countries that ranked best and worst
According to a study by independent monitor Freedom House, China has been ranked the worst in the world when it comes to internet freedom, while web access in Iceland and Estonia were jointly the most free. (FT)
Future of Europe Project
The Future of Europe Project is a conversation with the bright young minds inheriting Europe about the issues that will shape their future. It is a collaboration between FT experts and students of six universities from Krakow to Athens, Berlin, Paris, Dublin and Milan. This week, our columnists will be responding to the four main questions driving the project. Next week, the winning students will do the same.
Lionel Barber, editor of the FT, introduces the project, Wolfgang Munchau begins the conversation, arguing the very essence of the EU is constituted in the four freedoms: of movement for goods, services, capital and people. Today, Claire Jones says that the eurozone, 18 years after its creation, is a currency union that is far from complete.World