UK warned on EU security, fears for Old Master market and the danger of demagogues

German defence minister speaks out over closer security co-operation

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Germany’s defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen, has warned the UK not to use the run-up to Brexit to block EU efforts to build closer security co-operation. The UK has criticised Franco-German plans to build a common EU defence headquarters, saying it could lead to an EU army. German officials suspect London might try to obstruct future EU co-operation plans to create bargaining chips that could later be used in Brexit negotiations.

The warning comes as the UK appears headed for a ‘hard’ Brexit. In an address to her Conservative party conference, prime minister Theresa May said the Brexit vote was a cry for a new start, and hit out at what she said was a “rootless international elite”.

FT writers described the speech as everything from “classically conservative” to a “broadside” against business to “tear[ing] up British politics as we know it”. (FT)

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In the news

NSA’s Snowden sequel The FBI has charged an NSA contractor with stealing highly-classified information. Harold Thomas Martin was secretly arrested in August. According to the New York Times he is alleged to have taken computer codes developed to hack into the networks of foreign governments. The charges against Mr Martin represent the latest embarrassing breach of security at the NSA three years after Edward Snowden, another former contractor at the agency, leaked tens of thousands of documents about government surveillance programmes. (FT, NYT)

Old Master market shaken The revelation that an £8.4m Frans Hals painting is a forgery triggered fears that more multimillion dollar Old Master paintings will be exposed as fakes. (FT)

Ethiopian protesters target companies Anti-government protesters in Ethiopia are escalating attacks on foreign investors amid growing anger over a government crackdown on demonstrations. Activists have torched a Turkish textile factor and attacked a mine owned by Africa’s richest man. Hundreds of protesters have been killed in protests that began over a land dispute and escalated into broader demonstrations against autocratic government. (FT)

Fleeing Matthew Residents of the southeastern United States are bracing themselves for the arrival of the Caribbean’s biggest storm in nearly a decade, which was due to make landfall on Thursday. Hundreds of thousands have fled and millions more have stocked up on staples and battened down their properties. At least 25 people were killed and there was widespread destruction as Matthew passed through Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba on Wednesday. (NYT)

Ponzi scheme suspected in 1MDB losses Switzerland has stepped up pressure on Malaysia over corruption allegations linked to the 1MDB state investment fund, saying it suspected a Ponzi scheme had been used to conceal “substantial amounts” of misappropriated funds. (FT)

It’s a big day for

The ECB The European Central Bank publishes minutes from its September monetary policy meeting the day after the pound fell to its lowest in five years against the euro as fears of a “Hard Brexit” lingered and reports the bank was considering scaling back its bond-buying stimulus measures boosted the shared currency. (FT)

British poets It’s national poetry day in the UK. Prince Charles kicked off the celebration by broadcasting his reading of a poem from Seamus Heaney. (BBC)

Food for thought

The danger of demagogues The FT’s Philip Stephens writes that today’s populist movements have become a potent force thanks to the ability of demagogues such as Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen to reach well beyond a natural constituency of bigots to the disenchanted and disillusioned. (FT)

Saving a language Kuzmar, a small coastal town in Oman is the last repository of Kuzmari, a unique language that blends 45 others, including English, Urdu, Arabic, Portuguese and Farsi. The port town was a crossing point for the spice trade and, later, the slave trade, and the thousands of sailors who passed through left their mark in the unique language. But the teaching of Arabic, Oman’s official language, means that young Kuzmaris no longer speak the language and it is in danger of dying out. (Middle East Eye)

Playing to lose Iranian clerics have told the country’s national football team to lose an upcoming World Cup qualifier against South Korea because it falls in the middle of Shia Islam’s most significant religious festival. Moderate politicians have rejected the clerics’ plea — although they did try to change the date of the match — and football fans have parodied the idea on social media. (Times)

Manga danger Doraemon, a beloved Japanese manga character has been attacked as a bad influence by politicians and activists in India and Pakistan. According to them, an anime television series featuring the chubby blue robotic cat encourages children to be rude to adults and to avoid doing homework. The creators say it was designed to show children they would keep making mistakes unless they became wise. (NAR)

You won’t live beyond 115 years For decades, people have been saying that the first human who will live to 150 has already been born. That’s unlikely, say experts from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. After looking at demographic data from the past century, they think the human lifespan has a hard ceiling of about 115 years. (The Atlantic)

Video of the day

May makes case for fairer Britain The FT’s George Parker provides a wrap of the Conservative party conference and analysis of Mrs May’s closing speech, including a strategic move to lure the working classes and a clear attack on business. (FT)

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