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FT daily briefing: Russia sanctions, inside Formula One, waning thirst for beer

FT daily briefing: Russia sanctions, inside Formula One, waning thirst for beer

June 16
02:03 2017

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Germany and Austria have castigated new US sanctions on Russia that target Moscow’s controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe, describing them as an illegal threat to EU energy security. Sending a strong message to Moscow, the US Senate on Wednesday voted 97-2 to approve measures that toughen existing sanctions on Moscow and create new restrictions that target companies which support Russian “energy export pipelines” (FT, Reuters)

In the news

Trump potentially investigated for obstruction of justice
Robert Mueller, the special counsel examining meddling in the 2016 election, is reportedly investigating whether Donald Trump obstructed justice, a significant turning point in the year-long probe. The president more or less confirmed the report in an early morning tweet. (WaPo, FT)

US student freed from N Korea with brain injury
The American college student who spent 17 in detention in North Korea suffered a serious neurological injury and was “brutalised” while in custody, his father said. Otto Warmbier, 22, is in a stable condition and receiving treatment. (Reuters)

Turnbull pokes fun at the Donald 
Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull — who famously had a difficult phone call with Donald Trump soon after his inauguration — has poked fun at the US president at a press dinner. A video shows him comparing himself to Mr Trump, saying: “We are winning so much, we are winning, we are winning like never before.” (Guardian)

Qatar-US jet deal
Doha says the finalisation of a new $12bn deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the US is a sign that the tiny Gulf state has strong relations with Washington, despite a rift with its neighbours, led by Saudi Arabia. The FT’s David Gardner says the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar risks spiralling out of control. (Reuters, FT)

Europe roams free
Mobile phone roaming charges in the EU end today. But dozens of telecoms operators have already applied to be exempt from the roaming rates to avoid a financial hit, according to industry sources. (FT)

Test your knowledge of this week’s news with the FirstFT quiz. How many net seats did the Conservatives lose in the UK election?

The day ahead

Japan rate decision
The Bank of Japan is set to leave monetary policy unchanged when it concludes a two-day meeting, with short-term interest rates at minus 0.1 per cent, 10-year yields capped at zero per cent, and asset purchases ongoing at Y80tn a year.

What we’re reading

Inside Formula One’s race for global domination
It is mindblowingly expensive, fiercely competitive and almost impossible to break into. Can the sport’s new owners broaden its appeal? (FT)

China’s consolidation push turns to sprawling power sector
Less could soon mean more for China’s power sector. Beijing is weighing ambitious proposals to consolidate its electricity generators into national energy behemoths, a process that may result in a triopoly of power giants commanding nearly a trillion dollars of assets. (FT)

What the Anbang crackdown means for ‘red second generation’
Some put the targeting of high-fliers with strong ties to the children of Communist party grandees — such as Anbang chairman Wu Xiaohui as a sign of an apparent power struggle within the party. (NAR)

Russia’s hope 
Nationwide anti-corruption protests in Russia this week, mostly in open defiance of the Russian authorities, resulted in 1,700 arrests — a large number but not unusual. What was new was the youth of the protesters, many of whom were young teenagers. These young, yet-to-be-cowed Russians are the best hope for bringing an end to the Putin regime, according to a widely shared Facebook post by a 69-year-old former presidential adviser. (NY Review of Books)

How Facebook changed democracy 
Simon Kuper on how targeting specific voters is more effective and cheaper than speaking to the public on TV. “It’s practically a secret campaign. And it’s cheap. My friend spent about €50,000 to reach 4m voters,” he writes. (FT) 

The froth comes off
The volume of alcoholic drinks consumed globally is falling and it is mainly caused by the world drinking less beer. Here is how both economics and changing tastes play a part in the decline of beer consumption in the world’s biggest markets. (Economist)

Video of the day

Hard times for short-selling funds
Short-selling hedge funds have recently had a difficult time getting their bets right against companies they target. The FT’s Miles Johnson explains why these bears might eventually have their day. (FT)

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