M&S pulls advertising from YouTube, Uber loses more execs and China’s superpower reboot

Move comes just days after French media agency Havas and UK government pull digital ad spend from site

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Another brand has joined the growing list of companies and governments pulling their advertising from Google and YouTube. British food and clothing company Marks and Spencer has frozen all of its advertising on the sites after revelations that its advertisements were being displayed alongside extremist videos. The move comes just days after Havas, the French media agency, and the British government pulled their digital ad spending from the sites.

Google’s EU boss, Matt Brittin, has publicly apologised to its corporate advertising partners over the crisis and pledged to speed up efforts to give more control to advertisers on its platforms. But critics say it must do more. Activists have begun to focus on online advertising as part of their attempts to combat fake news and experts say their efforts are becoming an effective way to pressure companies to press for effective policing of content. (FT, NYT, CSM)

In the news

Uber loses more top execs The president of the car-booking service Jeff Jones quit after just six months amid a series of scandals. Mr Jones joined Uber in September last year from retailer Target and he was charged with improving Uber’s brand and reputation. “The beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber,” he said. In a further blow Brian McClendon, a key engineer in the company’s autonomous driving push, also resigned. (FT)

Power to you Vodafone, the UK-based mobile phone operator, has struck a deal to merge its Indian operations with rival Idea Cellular in a deal that will create one of the largest telecoms companies in the world. The merged group would have around 380m users. (FT)

Fighting in Damascus Intense clashes have taken place in the heart of the Syrian capital as rebels and government troops battle for control of areas in the Jobar district. Rebel attacks in the capital have come as the country marks six years since the beginning of the uprising against president Bashar al-Assad that has turned into a brutal civil war. (BBC)

Bidding begins for Trump’s wall Mexico has called on its national companies to “examine their conscience” and refuse to tender bids to build Donald Trump’s wall as the US gave bidders a week and a half to submit applications to construct a barrier with an “aesthetically pleasing” US side. Around 700 companies have registered interest for tenders for the 30ft high structure. (FT)

G20 ministers hit impasse with US Finance ministers went into this weekend’s G20 meeting eager to ease their most powerful member closer to the centre ground. But Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, appeared to have “no mandate” to settle his country’s position on free trade, according to Germany’s finance chief Wolfgang Schäuble. Germany also traded barbs with Mr Trump on defence spending after he declared that Germany owes “vast sums” of money to Nato and the US. It followed an awkward first meeting between the countries’ leaders. (FT, Bloomberg, Independent)

Hold the bulldozers The UN has asked the UK to suspend work on the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset until European countries have responded to concerns over the possible impact of an incident at the site. While the UN request is unlikely to derail construction at Hinkley, which is Europe’s biggest construction site, it is an embarrassment for the government in London. (Guardian)

It’s a big day for

The eurozone Finance ministers from the bloc will gather in Brussels in unusual circumstances, with Jeroen Dijsselbloem — who has chaired the eurogroup since January 2013 — potentially on the way out after his party was crushed in last week’s Dutch elections. The main item on the agenda will be Greece. (FT)

French election The five leading candidates gather for the first televised debate ahead of the elections. Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron leads the polls. The contestants are offering radically different visions for their country — here is a round-up of their policies. (Reuters)

James Comey The director of the FBI will testify to Congress about his agency’s investigation into Russian interference in the US presidential election. (CNN)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.

Food for thought

Children reveal our workplace pomposity The FT’s Lucy Kellaway on what the viral video reveals about the artificiality of the professional self. “Being at work means claiming to be “passionate” about things we have to believe matter, while the presence of a toddler makes sustaining that pretence hard — serious things suddenly look laughable.” (FT)

China reboots its superpower ambitions A read into the lengths to which Beijing is going in its efforts to upend the world order and become self-sufficient in tech by 2025. If successful, the plan could mark a fundamental shift from an economy that earned a reputation as a copycat manufacturer to one that is setting the pace. (FT)

The blow-it-all-up billionaires How reclusive hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer — a tycoon who indulges in conspiracy theories and has argued that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a mistake — and his daughter Rebekah exploited America’s populist insurgency and laid the financial and intellectual foundation for Donald Trump’s administration. Here’s another long read on the “blow-it-all-up billionaires” and one more for good measure. (New Yorker, HuffPo, WaPo)

When Angela met Ivanka Angela Merkel went to extraordinary lengths to prove to Donald Trump that Germany was a friend of the US, including gamely smiling for the cameras with Mr Trump’s daughter. (Politico.eu)

Coping with crackdown So many people have been ensnared by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s post-coup crackdown on alleged “coup plotters” that shopkeepers in Istanbul know the prison specifications for clothing that relatives are allowed to supply. (NYT)

Video of the day

The week ahead A look at the big stories to watch in the coming days, from regional elections in Germany to the beginning of the Formula One season. (FT)

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