White House under pressure over Kremlin ties, Kim Jong Nam begged to be saved, and footballing is bad for the brain

Trump’s former campaign manager denies knowingly contacting intelligence agents

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Donald Trump’s former campaign manager has denied knowingly contacting Russian intelligence agents during the 2016 presidential race and also said he had never been questioned about it by the FBI. Paul Manafort’s denials come as the brewing scandal over relations with Russia grows broader. Phone records and intercepted calls show that aides of Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had constant contact with senior Russian intelligence officials and members of Vladimir Putin’s government in the year before the election.

The White House is facing mounting pressure to explain the relationship between Mr Trump and Russia. The president knew two weeks before Michael Flynn quit that his national security adviser had misled senior officials and there is likely to be an investigation. Here are the five big questions after Mr Flynn’s resignation and the FT’s Gideon Rachman on why it is a threat to Mr Trump.

(FT, BBC, CNN, NYT)

In the news

Kim Jong Nam begged to be saved Kim Jong Nam, the estranged brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, begged his brother to spare his life after escaping an earlier assassination attempt, South Korean intelligence forces say. Malaysian police say he was killed after a woman in a short skirt and white top approached him from behind at Kuala Lumpur airport and smothered his face with a wet rag. Malaysian authorities have detained a woman holding a Vietnamese passport in connection with his death. (FT, Guardian)

Goldman rides the wave The bank’s shares beat a 10-year record to reach a fresh closing high on Tuesday. The company’s valuation has increased by $28bn since the November 8 election — that’s more than two entire Twitters, or almost four Nordstroms. Now a handful of Goldman alumni fill the US president’s inner circle. (FT, BuzzFeed)

The US oil market mystery Investors are finally cottoning on to a counter-intuitive pattern afflicting the US oil market. The new mantra is: “buy the builds” as it becomes apparent that as inventories rise, prices are rising too. (FT)

Use of depleted uranium in US air strikes The US military, despite vowing not to use depleted uranium weapons on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, fired thousands of rounds of the munitions during two high-profile raids on oil trucks in Isis-controlled Syria in late 2015. The toxic material has been linked to cancer and birth defects. (Foreign Policy)

Abe warned Trump about China Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said he told President Donald Trump that handling relations with China presents “the greatest task of this century”. Japan’s leader, who was addressing legislators after his recent trip to the US, also reminded them Mr Trump “has no political experience”. (NAR)

It’s a big day for

Nato US defence secretary James Mattis will meet his Nato counterparts in Brussels for the first time since he took office.

Israeli-US relations Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit President Donald Trump in Washington today.

Food for thought

The silver lining in fake news The press has been both punching bag and beneficiary in the age of Trump. Now experts say rising concern over the spread of misinformation on social media might prove a boon to the newspaper industry in 2017. (FT)

Footballing is bad for the brain Scientists have found early signs that a long footballing career spent heading the ball can cause the type of damage to the brain previously seen among boxers and American football players. (BBC, FT)

Inside the downfall of Toshiba In its earliest incarnations it gave Japan its first electric streetlamps, power stations, lightbulbs and colour televisions. This week came a humiliating setback for a conglomerate that had only recently touted its nuclear business as a core growth driver. It leaves just three major players in the global nuclear power plant market: Korea, China and Russia. What happened to this industry titan? (FT)

Robot bees Miniature drones that can pollinate flowers might soon be working alongside bees to improve crop yields. Japanese scientists are hoping the technology will offset declines in bee populations. (New Scientist)

US rates Here are five takeaways from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s testimony before Congress. (FT)

Nokia 3310 to rise again Seventeen years after its original launch, the owner of the Nokia 3310 — which gained a cult following for its plentiful battery life, its nearly indestructible build and its Snake game — is said to be planning to release a homage to the classic phone. (Venturebeat, The Independent)

Video of the day

Why Greece is as sick as ever Europe editor Tony Barber explains why the country’s agony is likely to persist. (FT)


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