10 most important things in the world right now

David Hockney in front of his painting ‘The Arrival Of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011’ which he offered to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Photo: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Hello! Here’s what’s happening on Wednesday.

1. Construction has begun on eight prototypes of the US-Mexico border wall near San Diego, a key campaign promise of US President Donald Trump, who declared Mexico would foot the bill. The nine metre-high prototypes, costing $450,000 each, are set to be finished in 30 days before officials evaluate them over three months.

2. Saudi Arabia has reversed its longstanding ban on women driving. The oil-rich nation was the only country in the world where a woman could go to jail for driving. The decree will take effect in June 2018, but the Interior Ministry has yet to decide if women will be allowed to work as professional drivers.

3. Russia says it’s working behind the scenes on a solution to the North Korea crisis. One Russian official described how a conflict on the Korean peninsula would have “catastrophic consequences” while describing the current US approach to the situation as a dead end.

4. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has met with Cuba’s foreign minister in Washington, after mysterious illnesses struck the US embassy last month. US diplomats and their families suffered symptoms ranging from hearing loss to brain injury. Just over a week ago, Tillerson said the US is considering closing the Havana embassy after it was reopened by Barack Obama in 2015.

5. Iraqi Kurds have voted in support of claiming independence from Iraq in a non-binding referendum. The President of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani, said he would like dialogue to be opened up with Baghdad, but the government has deemed the vote as unconstitutional.

6. Independence for Hong Kong has once again been rebuffed. The region’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, doubled down on a Chinese official’s comment that Hong Kong should have a “zero tolerance attitude” towards independence. Lam also said there is a need to put a stop to pro-independence advocacy as soon as possible.

7. J-coin could be the new national digital currency of Japan if a consortium of banks get their way. With nearly three-quarters of all transactions in Japan made with cash, the hope is to allow locals to pay for goods and services with their smartphone. The new project, which has the support of Japan’s central bank and regulators, intends to launch in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

8. Uber is threatening to pull out of the Canadian province of Quebec by mid-October, an exit that would affect 50 staff and 10,000 drivers. Despite working hard to escape a recent ban in London, the world’s most valuable start-up is saying they will leave the nation’s second-largest city because of “severe” restrictions — which appear to refer to police checks on drivers and 15 additional hours of driver training.

9. Over in Europe, Google is planning to separate the Google Shopping service from its main search platform to meet EU demands. According to Bloomberg, Google Shopping will become a standalone unit that will have to bid against other retailers for 10 advertising slots at the top of the search result page.

10. Thailand’s Supreme Court is due to hand down a ruling today in a case against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Yingluck, who is assumed to have fled the country last month, was charged with negligence after a rice subsidy scheme that led to large stockpiles and fluctuating prices. The nation’s first female Prime Minister was voted in in 2011, but her government was overthrown by the military in 2014.

And finally…

Dubai has seen the world’s first drone taxi fly.

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