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The sharp fall in British government bond yields on Wednesday has compounded fears that a global collapse in government borrowing costs has tipped the UK’s pensions industry into a funding crisis.

The steep fall prompted a former pensions minister to call for a national inquiry into the impact on company pensions of the Bank of England’s new £70bn bond-buying plan, launched to stimulate the economy amid fears of a slowdown related to the Brexit vote.

There was further uncertainty on Thursday as it was revealed that the amount of new money raised by exchange traded funds exposed to global stock markets dropped 85 per cent in the first half of 2016, in a rare sign of pressure on the passive investment industry. (FT)

In the news

Russia accuses Kiev over Crimea President Vladimir Putin accused Ukrainian forces of a “criminal” incursion into Crimea, in an escalation of the conflict between the two countries since the peninsula was annexed by Moscow in early 2014. In response to the alleged operation — which Kiev denies — Mr Putin said he was pulling out of international peace talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The US says it has seen no evidence to corroborate Moscow’s claims. (FT, Reuters)

Aleppo medic plea Doctors in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo have written to Barack Obama, asking him to intervene to end the bombardment of hospitals by the Russian-backed Syrian air force. The letter came the day after Russia said it would implement a three-hour pause in fighting in Aleppo to allow humanitarian relief to be brought into the city. (Guardian)

Chinese investment unease Australia moved to block the A$10bn-plus ($7.47bn) sale of a controlling stake in the country’s biggest electricity distribution network to two Chinese companies on national security grounds. The move reflects growing unease in Australia and around the world over the scale of Chinese investment in critical infrastructure. (FT)

The retreat of Isis Pro-government Libyan militias backed by American air power said on Wednesday that they had seized the seaside city of Sirte, the last Isis stronghold in the country. The loss of Sirte will be a blow to the group’s plans for expansion in north Africa. (NYT)

Thai tourist tracking The military government’s plans to track tens of millions of tourists through special sim cards have provoked outrage and mockery. “Tourists in #Thailand will be required to carry a tiny soldier with them at all times,” said one wag on Twitter.(FT)

It’s a big day for

Germany Thomas de Maizière, the federal interior minister, will present a package of measures to improve security following two terror attacks last month that raised concerns about the country’s vulnerability to Islamist violence. (FT)

Hillary Clinton The US presidential candidate lays out her economic plan, three days after her opponent, Donald Trump, made his economic pitch. (Quartz)

Food for thought

Donald Trump’s thin skin and guns-blazing style Michael Skapinker argues that the former reality TV star’s inability to forgive any sleight is evidence of why businessmen make lousy politicians. And Gideon Rachman looks at Mr Trump’s latest provocation: his suggestion that American gun owners could somehow stop Hillary Clinton. (FT) Keep up with the 2016 race by signing up for our daily US politics email here

Life and death of Syrian arms dealer The fortunes of Cheg Cheg, nom de guerre of a small-time smuggler turned arms kingpin in Southern Syria, mirror the complexity of the country and brutality of the country’s five-year civil war. (The National)

A reality check for Indian tech The flood of money pouring into Indian start-ups has abated, but the battle for users in a market of 1.2bn largely unconnected people still lies ahead. (FT)

A permanent Olympic venue? Every four years the costs and challenges of holding the Olympic Games come into focus. With fewer cities willing to take on the logistical and financial burden, could a permanent venue be the answer? And should it be Vancouver? (Slate)

China’s gamble In recent weeks, China has launched several viral online videos that blame “western hostile forces” for a host of ills and supposed conspiracies within the country. Such propaganda is dangerous, writes the FT’s Jamil Anderlini. “By convincing its people that many of China’s ills are the work of foreign spies and conspiracies, Beijing could eventually be forced to hit back against such perceived enemies in order to placate popular outrage.” (FT)

What teens need most from their parents A look at how the teenage brain changes throughout adolescence, how that affects the teens themselves and what parents can do to make the most of this mystifying and often stressful stage. (WSJ)

Video of the day

Indian start-ups chase internet boom Indian ecommerce companies have attracted billions of dollars from foreign investors, but capital inflows have recently slowed amid concerns over the sector’s hazy path to profitability. Simon Mundy reports. (FT)

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