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For Vladimir Putin, last week’s summit in Helsinki with Donald Trump was a moment of deep satisfaction. Mr Trump’s hesitation when asked to condemn Russian interference in the 2016 US election (or even to recognise Moscow’s responsibility) echoed the standard Putinist response to the charge of attempting to subvert American democracy.

As Gideon Rachman argues in his column this week, Mr Putin maintains that the US has long attempted to undermine Russia’s political system. And because the west lies too, Moscow’s deceptions are a legitimate defence mechanism.

Mr Putin, Gideon argues, has ducked proper attempts to deal with Russia’s many domestic problems, preferring to blame the west instead. There is a lesson here for American liberals, who might be tempted to hold Russia responsible for the rise of Trumpism, rather than looking somewhat closer to home.

Robert Shrimsley argues that the UK Conservative party is caught in a Brexit trap of its own making. Either the Tories deliver a hard Brexit and pay electorally for any adverse consequences, or they concoct a compromise that leaves them open to charges of betrayal.

Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, defends President Trump’s belief that “economic security is national security”. Increasing defence spending, he argues, will strengthen the US manufacturing base.

Linda Bauld, deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, writes that there are risks in relying on vaping, and now “Juuling”, to wean smokers off tobacco.

Miranda Green worries that the expansion of the faith school sector in Britain over the past decade has led to an accidental drift towards deeper religious and ethnic segregation.

John Thornhill writes that China is intent on overtaking America in the global “arms race” in artificial intelligence. For the time being, the US retains a significant edge, but the Chinese are catching up fast.

What you’ve been saying

Private equity returns are still best, even after fees — Letter from Emily Schillinger:

Chris Flood, in “Two funds ‘wasted $5.5bn on Wall St fees’ ” (FTfm, July 9), criticises the Pennsylvania public pensions for the fees they have paid to active investment managers but misses the key point: that these skills-based managers are producing the highest investment returns for Pennsylvania even after deducting the cost of their fees. Year after year, private equity investments stand as the best source of long-term returns for US public pensions, net of any management fees. Private equity investments for the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System and Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System have also far out-earned public equities over the past decade, after all fees.

Comment by Paul A. Myers on A light shines on the concentration of power in Silicon Valley:

Average Americans may think the US has the most competitive economy, but they’re looking in the rear-view mirror. Magical thinking suffuses what used to be a pretty pragmatic republic. The concentration of economic power goes hand-in-hand with the concentration of wealth and income to create an entirely new constellation of power controlling the governance of advanced, and supposedly democratic, economies. I would expect to watch icebergs float past Mar-a-Lago before I should see the FTC chief or the DOJ anti-trust chief do anything effective on economic and market concentration. The reality may be that the European Union is the last major functioning democratic government in the world today. Interesting that the Anglo-Saxon countries are in such a hurry to get away from it. Trump gets the hives when he enters EU airspace.

Research should take account of drugs affecting women differently — Letter from Dr Elizabeth Pollitzer:

In “Britain must stop inflating the biomedical bubble” (July 17), Anjana Ahuja highlights the issue of the failure of biomedical industry to translate the huge investment in research into improvements in quality of medicine. In 2014, the US National Institutes of Health called for gender to be taken into account in study design and data analysis. Gene expression, immune response and how drugs are metabolised have been shown to differ between women and men. Taking into account these basic biological differences would improve the rigour, transparency and generalisability of pre-clinical research findings.

Today’s opinion

The Conservatives have no way out of their own Brexit trap
Cries of betrayal have made it impossible for the Tories to wriggle off the hook

China is intent on overtaking the US to lead the world in AI
America faces a threat to its tech dominance, with unpredictable military repercussion

Keeping faith with inclusive British schools
An accidental drift towards educational segregation comes under renewed scrutiny

Revenge on the US is sweet for Vladimir Putin
The Russian president draws satisfaction from embarrassing America

UK faces a vaping dilemma as ecigarettes puff up the glamour
The latest device may stub out its own aims by encouraging youth to take up the habit

Strong defence exports will boost US manufacturing base
Trump’s new rules on drone sales free America to compete with China and Russia

FT Alphaville: Would you say we were awesome, terrific, or just super great?

Asia is the driving force in the energy business
China is emerging as a leading player in investment and technologies

How Britain Really Works, by Stig Abell
A neat dissection of a ‘muddle of a country’ at a time of upheaval

Questions of culture divide Goldman from Lehman Brothers
The collapsed bank failed to heed sensible advice to control its toxic elements

FT View

The FT View: The dire consequences of a no-deal Brexit
Leaving the EU without a formal agreement is not a serious option

The FT View: Israel’s new laws point in a dangerous direction
Jewishness trumps democracy to the detriment of peace

The Big Read

The Big Read: Smartphone addiction: big tech’s balancing act over responsibility and revenue
How far will Apple, Google and Facebook go when their business models are tied so closely to people looking at apps on their smartphone?

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