From left: Marchers at the 'People's Vote' Brexit protest, a demonstrator in support of murdered dissident Jamal Khashoggi, and Rupert Murdoch (All photos: Getty Images)

The Bulletin: Labour Day World News Special Edition

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. It’s a public holiday, so we’re going to have a slightly different edition of The Bulletin this morning.

We’ll cover off a few major world news stories that are worth keeping an eye on, and if possible, what they mean for New Zealand. Don’t worry, normal service of the biggest stories and best journalism from around NZ will resume tomorrow.

About 700,000 people have marched in London, calling for a ‘People’s Vote’ on the final Brexit deal. The BBC reports that the turnout was particularly youthful, which reflects how the original vote itself went way back in 2016 – young people overwhelmingly supported remain. The reason they’re marching is because the deal-making itself is going terribly, and they say a second referendum on the final outcome of negotiations should be a democratic right, given sovereignty was put in the hands of the people in the first referendum.

The outcome of Brexit will be keenly watched in New Zealand. Not only do huge numbers of people born in NZ end up living in the UK, they’re still a significant trading and diplomatic partner, even after Britain cut the apron strings on NZ trade in the 1970s – ironically so it could have a closer trade relationship with Europe. Britain has signalled its intention to pursue a new trade deal with NZ as soon as it can, which our government has also said it’s up for, and there are even suggestions Britain could end up joining the TPP.


The NZ government has condemned the apparent murder of Saudi Arabian dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, reports Stuff. It follows other reports from Newshub and Radio NZ in which academics were calling for New Zealand to do so. It’s not yet clear if NZ will try and impose any substantive economic or diplomatic consequences on Saudi Arabia, or join other countries in doing so.

A quick recap on this story if you’ve missed some of the details: Mr Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Turkish capital Istanbul, and never came out. The Saudis have confirmed he’s dead, saying implausibly that he died in a fist-fight, after previously trying to fly a kite on stories like, for example, maybe he never died at all? Or maybe he died in an interrogation gone wrong? Turkish intelligence say they have audio and video evidence of him being killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents.

It draws fresh light on the dictatorial regime of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has had de-facto control of the country for a few years now. Bin Salman was lauded by some when he took over as a reformer, though many argue that cosmetic reforms like allowing women to drive are a facade to hide the ruthlessness with which he intends to rule. He’s also been directly responsible for a murderous war in neighbouring Yemen, which is estimated to have left 10,000 dead, sparked famines and cholera outbreaks, and has generally destroyed the country.


Widespread voter suppression is underway in the USA, and the country approaches an important set of mid-term elections. The Guardian reports that in Georgia, the secretary of state and Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp has been accused of improperly purging hundreds of thousands of voters from the electoral roll, along with other purges heavily targeting ethnic minorities. Analysis on The Atlantic from earlier in the year says it has been a significant and under-reported trend for years in US politics, with the effect of skewing who can turn out.


Here’s a story that is an interesting microcosm of the return of Russian Great Power-style geopolitics. Sweden and Finland will be taking part in big NATO military exercises this season, aimed at showing Russia that the western alliance will come to the aid of Scandinavian countries if Russia attacks. The catch – Sweden and Finland aren’t actually NATO members, but as this Project Syndicate report suggests, they could well be within the next two decades. That would further encircle Russia, who have also been diplomatically isolated from Europe since (depending on your point of view) annexing/liberating Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.


This is a fascinating piece from CNN which highlights an issue that is only going to become more pressing in the future – water security. It covers the Nile River, and plans by Ethiopia to build a giant dam that could provide enough energy to lift millions out of poverty. But that could have a dire effect on Egypt downstream, as the country’s agriculture is entirely reliant on the Nile. It’s a complicated issue, but water is fundamental to life, and increasingly with climate change, countries with water scarcities are going to have to grapple with these questions.


One of Australia’s major media empires has largely dismissed the IPCC report into the urgent necessity of action on climate change. Here’s a remarkable roundup from the ABC’s Media Watch (video and transcript) which outlines just how contemptuous Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp papers were of the report. Here’s one particularly arch detail – they note that the day immediately after the report came out, “Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph had a horse on its front page.” Unsurprisingly with that sort of media tone, climate change policy in Australia has largely been thrown down a coal mine.

Meanwhile in Australia, a knife edge by-election in former PM Malcolm Turnbull’s seat appears to have cost the governing coalition its outright majority in the House of Representatives. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Dr Kerryn Phelps, and independent, is likely to just edge out her opponent from the governing Liberal Party when postal votes are counted. Interestingly, Dr Phelps backs strong climate change action, and the voters backed her. Perhaps the power of the Murdoch empire is waning.


And from our partners, it’s World Energy Day today. That puts a spotlight on New Zealand’s sluggish progress towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Vector’s Beth Johnson explains why the time is right to accelerate.


Right now on The Spinoff: Hayden Donnell debates himself on whether the Auckland Waterfront Stadium is a good idea. Nat Cheshire, one of the people who has been heavily influential on the last decade of development in Auckland City, sits down with the Business is Boring podcast. And Sam Brooks reviews the new Assassin’s Creed game, and really rather likes it.


Thanks for reading this Labour Day special edition of The Bulletin. If you’re out on the roads today, stay safe, don’t try and race home, and we’ll talk again tomorrow. If you know other people who would find The Bulletin useful, please pass on this signup form to them.


 

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