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Friday news roundup September 18, 2020

Friday news roundup September 18, 2020

Vietnamese business people and ordinary citizens have been coming up with innovative ways to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Researchers from the University of Bath and King’s College London focussing on Vietnamese inclusive innovation—innovation that helps the community in some way—have been ideally placed to see how grassroots innovators and socially minded entrepreneurs have helped to soften the blow of the pandemic for all members of Vietnamese society. For example, tech startup BusMap worked with the authorities to create an infection map to help locals avoid Covid-19 hotspots and to find their nearest medical facility; newly designed robots have disinfected hospitals and public spaces; and automatic hand-sanitizer dispensers have been assembled by school students around the country, using commercially available parts. These are just a few examples of people and companies in Vietnam working for the greater good.

Yoshihide Suga was officially named as Japan’s new prime minister. Following a vote in the country’s parliament on Wednesday, Yoshihide Suga was confirmed as the new leader of the world’s third largest economy, replacing Shinzo Abe. Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, resigned last month due to ill-health. Suga’s cabinet will include a large number of former Abe appointees, likely with a view to promoting an image of stability and continuity of government. Suga was chief cabinet secretary in Abe’s government and is considered a successful political operator capable of getting things done. He worked closely with Abe to implement “Abenomics”—a series of economic policies designed to boost Japan’s ailing economy. Suga faces many challenges including those related to coronavirus, such as a shrinking economy and the postponement of this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

America’s FBI chief warned of Russian interference in the upcoming US presidential election. FBI director Christopher Wray warned this week that Russia is attempting to undermine Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden with a steady stream of misinformation, whilst also weakening Americans’ confidence in the election process. Wray’s testimony follows a warning given by the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center on August 7 that Russia, China, and Iran were all trying to interfere in the November 3 election. Multiple reviews by US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia acted to boost Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and damage his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Russia officially denies the finding.

The UK’s Women’s Equality party (WEP) is running a consultation on self-identification for trans people. The political party hopes to “shift the dial” on what has at times been a fraught debate ahead of a decision on the Gender Recognition Act which aims to make it easier for transgender people to change the sex on their birth certificate without requiring medical evidence of gender dysphoria and enabling them to sign a statutory declaration, known as “self-ID.” Sixty party members will hear testimony from witnesses chosen by an advisory group to offer a range of views on WEP policy areas that might be affected by reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004. James Morton, of the Scottish Trans Alliance, says there must be ways of capturing the data needed to advance equality for all without undermining trans people’s rights. A WEP spokesperson said: “We want to show that it is possible to forge a space for people with different views, and no views, to come together—to listen, learn and ultimately move towards consensus.”